Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2010
Dear Friends-
This year has certainly flown by! You are seeing a new face in our Christmas card this year! Our family is now complete with the birth of our sweet baby girl, Annelise. On January 23, we got the call that her birthmother was in labor. We jumped in the car (our bags were already packed) and drove like crazy to Smyrna, Tennessee. Our little bit was in a hurry to get here and we missed her birth by about 2 hours, but she has been in our arms from that moment on and we are truly blessed. Grayson adores being a big brother! He told Brad shortly after Annelise was born, “Thank goodness I’m not the only one anymore.” We have settled into life with ten year old and a ten month old, and strangely enough, it’s not as hard as you might think, given their age difference. Annelise is a great eater and sleeps through the night most nights in her Dragonfly nursery. >!< She is happy and smiling almost all the time (unless she is in her car seat too long, and then she screams!) I only took off about 30 “school days” and it was a bit of an adjustment to get up every two hours in the beginning and then go to teach little first graders, but somehow I made it through. “Busy” describes our life! This is why you are getting a birth announcement and a Christmas card in one mailing! Many of you have asked about Annelise’s (very long) name. Ann is a family name. Elise is a variation of Alice and Alicia. Meredith is a name I have loved for a very long time and is a variation of Marie. It honors our cousin Deana Marie who led us to Annelise’s birthmother. And of course, Brandon is for her Uncle Brandon, who met her in Heaven, before the rest of us had the honor. She may be 12 before she learns to spell it all!
Grayson loves being in 4th grade and still loves to read. He is really into movies, music and computer games, and as always, anything with wheels! Pretty soon, he will be taller than me! He has recently discovered Elvis Presley and leaves serenades on the voice recorder of my phone. Priceless!
Brad’s business is doing very well and he still loves what he does. The weather in Tuscaloosa makes it easy for him to work pretty much year-round. He and Grayson like to geocache and plan to do more of that now that the weather is cooler. As for me, I have an amazing class of first graders that I wouldn’t trade for anything! I still love teaching and can’t imagine doing anything else (except sometimes taking a nap!) In February, I will begin my 18th year of teaching. I thought I was on the “downhill slide” to retirement, however, if I teach at Rock Quarry until Annelise leaves the 8th grade (our school is K-8), I will have 13 more years left….we will see about that! In January, my teaching partner, Vicki Nevin, and I will begin teaching a reading course at The University of Alabama. The class is one night per week and we are excited about working with college-aged people again!
Brad and I are looking forward to seeing everything the New Year brings through the eyes of our children. A ten year difference gives each event a different and interesting perspective. For the first time……. in a long time………my heart, my soul and my spirit are content.
What they say is true………….a baby changes everything.
Merry Christmas! Brad, Alicia, Grayson and Annelise Jenne’

Saturday, December 11, 2010

For this child I have prayed.......

Well, the tree it up and decorated. It is not THE TREE, you know, the gigantic one that is in 4 sections that are too big and heavy for me to lift on my own. That tree is still wrapped in the tarp we store it in, down in the cellar. The Big Prince is in a walking cast (we are waiting on word from the MRI to see if more surgery is needed or if he just needs to let the foot heal on its own) and there was just no way for me to get THE TREE up the playroom stairs alone. Compound that with the fact that The Princess is standing, and has taken a few steps, thought not walking alone yet, but can crawl as fast as Dash on the Incredibles. I was beginning to imagine her climbing, like a kitten, all the way to the top of the 10 ft tree, knocking ornaments hither and yon and putting all of the rest in her mouth. I had images of her little mouth crunching on mercury glass....shiver.......

So, The Big Prince and I scouted other locations in our home that would work for us to put up a smaller tree. Finally, we deemed the corner of the breakfast room as the best spot. I could get a 7.5 ft tree and it would not look goofy in that room, since it has 8 ft ceilings, as opposed to the living room's 12 ft ones...and we figured that by placing it in the ocrner, The Princess would not bother it as much and we could also corral her out with chairs from the table.

The decorations, roughly 1/10th of them, are on the tree and it is very cute. I may just put this one up every year for a while. It was so much easier! It is not as impressive, but it works for me, and right now, simple is so much more appealing.

As I put decorated the tree, I remembered back to last year as I took them down....I had wondered as I put each ornament in it's box if I would be a mommy of 2 then next time I unpacked them to go back on the tree. I knew then, that if the adoption went through, that this year, I would have an almost 1 year seemed like such a dream....

I'm here to tell you......that dreams do come true.......
For this child(ren) I have prayed.....1 Samuel 1:27

Monday, November 22, 2010

When She Sighs.........

and puts her head on my shoulder......

and snuggles in.......

eyes closed.......

pacifier pacificing......

and tangles her hands in my hair.....


close my eyes.....

and the tears run down my cheeks.......

I stop. Right then.

and say "Thank you".......

to God........

for bringing her to me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My people.......

In the past few weeks I have been reminded of how very lucky I am. One of the blessings of facebook is that I can reconnect with friends and even long lost family members. I have reunited with people that were friends of my brother, and I can instantly get updates and send messages to friends who need a word of comfort or of cheer.

I have two sorority sisters who have loved ones in grave medical situations right now and I just wish that I would have had facebook while Brandon was in the hospital. It would have helped us to share news of his condition in one easy click of the mouse.

Today, I attended the funeral of the father of our school secretary. I did not personally know the gentleman, but his daughter Anne, is the glue that holds our school together. Some co-workers and I drove two hours to the funeral together to support Anne. I remember from Brandon's funeral how important it was to me to see friends from all stages of our lives. The shock at times of seeing people I hadn't seen in ages and the realization that they came because they cared. That is important. More important than I realized before. When you have people in your life and they lose someone close to is important to show that you care, even when you might not have known their loved one personally.

As I stood graveside today in the fall air, hearing the wind rustle the leaves in the branches, I looked around at all of the school friends who were there to support Anne....and I thought, "these are my people".......

When I came home and checked facebook to see about my friends medical situations, one of our sisters had posted a message asking God to bless us all as we shared in the fights our friends were going through.....and again I thought, "these are my people"...........

The economy may be in the toilet, the government is more screwy than ever, most of us at one time or another are pointing fingers and tossing blame over one thing or another.....

But when you get right down to it......all that really your people.....

and I for one am glad that I have people........

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Every Wish......

Yesterday was my birthday. My school children had a party for me the day before in the school cafeteria. Complete with a beautiful rendition of "Happy Birthday" and cards and gifts. It was awesome. My sweet room mom, Sarah Jane, made delicious chocolate brownies with M&M's on top and candles scattered all around. The children asked how old I was......5 was my reply......

When it was time to blow out the candles....I realized with sudden clarity....that I :-)

After 12+ years of every birthday wish, every prayer, every wish upon a star, every see a shooting star and make a wish, every Thanksgiving when my Aunt Sarah would save the wishbone just for me (and tell me each year that I would get my wish, no matter what side of the wishbone I happened to be holding)....after really beliving that maybe, just maybe...wishes do come true at Disney...after all of that...after all of the miscarriages...and the agonizing years upon years of infertility....that I had nothing left to wish for....because......suddenly I realized that....I have it all.

I have awesome parents and a wonderful husband who loves me more than he should. I have the beautiful, smart and funny Little Prince, and finally, I have the gorgeous, always happy (unless she is in her carseat on a long trip) Little Princess. I live in a country where I am free to choose......whatever it is that I should want to choose.....I have a place that I can run to when I need to see the ocean....I have a job that I love in a school that rocks and that keeps me on my toes. I have lots of good friends and a handful of best ones that love me unconditionally. I have a large, loud, loving extended family. I have a nice home in a safe neighborhood...I have a fantastic church with a children's ministry that is out of this world. I have two pups that live to do nothing more than lay at my feet....I have a brother who watches over me while he's walking in Heaven....

So today.....this day after my 42 birthday.....for the rest of my life....I am choosing joy. I am choosing contentment.....I am choosing to be grateful.....and I am praying that even in contentment, that I never forget the sacrifices of those who went before so that I could be free in a country that I love....and the awesome sacrifices of the two birthmothers who chose LIFE....who chose LOVE.....who chose that my every wish could be fulfilled..........

A dream is a wish your heart makes really is.......

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Decade of The Little Prince.....

Where did the time go? Ten years ago tonight I was snuggling my 5 pound, 1 ounce adopted miracle.....and I blinked and he turned 10 years old this morning at 7:43 am....a decade of boy stuff, a decade of finally hearing "Momma" and knowing that he was calling me....ten years of loving the most amazing little boy. We love you, Grayson.....more than words can say.....

A few years ago, in honor of National Adoption Month, I wrote our story and it was published in our local KidsLife Magazine. The whole story is much longer than the 500word limit allowed in the magazine, but I thought I'd post the article here on the honor of our boy, and the amazing birthmother who loved him enough to place him in my arms....and to walk away.....

How God Blessed Our Broken Road
My husband Brad and I had been married for 4 years when we made the decision that almost every
young married couple makes at some point in their marriage– we were ready to have a baby!
We never thought that we would have to “try” to have a baby. We planned the perfect month to conceive,
booked a week-long cruise just to relax and get away, and started picking out baby names. We were that sure it would happen, just as we wanted it to.Little did we know that God had other plans.

We did go on the cruise….for about 36 hours. Brad’s mother unexpectedly passed away, throwing our lives into turmoil. We made it through the days after the funeral in a blur. All thoughts of conceiving our childwere put on hold. Little did we know that there were other unexpected moments in store.

Amazingly, we were already expecting! We had conceived the very first month we had tried! We walked
around with our happy secret long enough to visit the doctor, confirm that everything was healthy and on track, and got our prospective due date. I will never forget saying over and over to myself, “March 18th,March 18th.” We were going to be parents! It never occurred to us that March 18th would never come.

And that God had other plans.

Sadly, the baby due on March 18th was not meant to be. On the hottest day of the year, I miscarried. We
were devastated. No explanation, no help from the doctors, and no help for my broken heart or my empty
womb. And so began the first step on our broken road……

God had other plans for our future. Plans that did not include this first child.

We moved back to Tuscaloosa from Memphis and began new careers. I found a new doctor that I loved!
Dr. Mike Poist was truly an angel in a white coat. He listened to every concern, he ordered tons of tests, performed exploratory surgeries, prescribed medicines, and did everything he could to help me conceive the child that Brad and I so desperately wanted.

Eventually, I realized that although I loved “Dr.Mike”, I needed something more. Those nagging
doubts that something “might” be wrong were quickly becoming a reality.

Our journey turned to the ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) in Birmingham. This very talented team of doctors became the bright, guiding lights at the end of my dark tunnel. Assessing, prescribing fertility medications, and educating us on every infinitesimal aspect of conceiving our child.

What had begun as an act of love, tuned into a science experiment! Brad learned to mix medicines and to give shots and I learned to say the word “infertility”.

It was evident fairly quickly that artificial insemination was not going to work in our case. If we were to have a child, we needed to move forward with Invitro-Fertilization. We dove right in to this high tech process. The more intricate the course of action, the more I relished it. We had now been on the quest to have a child for almost four years.

Little did we know that God had other plans.

After the first attempt at Invitro failed (the next crack in our broken road), we immediately began
planning the next round. I now can see that it had become more about the “means” than the “end”. When I first began going to ART, I had made them my saviors. They were going to save me from this infertility-hell that I was living in. I want to clarify that this was not their view at all – it was mine.

Looking to the wrong savior was the biggest crack ever in our broken road. I should have been turning to
God, but doctor’s appointments and that datebook were blocking my vision!

After our first failed attempt at Invitro, my friend Elizabeth asked if we had ever considered adoption.
I told her that we had, but did not know where to turn. She gave me the name and number of her friend Robin. Robin’s adoption story was amazing! God’s perfect timing and plan was evidenced in each word that she shared! I hung up the phone with a sense of peace. I had a sense of purpose, and the phone number of her adoption attorney in Birmingham.

My focus began to shift from obsessing with carrying a baby to yearning to care for a baby. My Mother
helped make it crystal clear! She pointed out that for the past seven years, I had spent my days with other
people’s children….loving them and caring for them as their teacher. This had merely been preparation for my purpose in life. Loving another woman’s biological child as if he was my very own. I began praying in earnest, for our yet unknown Birthmother, and the child that God wanted us to have.

The meeting with Attorney Bob Echols went well. He told us to increase our chances we should tell everyone that we wanted to adopt a child. So we wrote a letter and sent it to everyone! Brad and I wanted a newborn. I knew that our baby was out there!

My old-type A self was having a hard time letting go and letting God do His work. I would “give
it up” during my prayers. But then, I would snatch it back to “work on it” some more. This just resulted in
more cracks in my broken road.God was patient, even when I was not. Finally, truly empty and broken, I did give the whole situation up to Him.

Soon thereafter, I was looking in vain for a pin that I wanted to wear. As I frantically searched our house, I heard God’s voice very calmly inside my head, “If you let me – I will do it.”

I walked downstairs and opened a closet in Brad’s office. I stuck my hand inside a box on the top shelf and pulled out the very pin I was looking for! Again I heard the voice inside my head, “If you let me – I will do it.” I gave in and gave it up to God. I began to pray every night for our baby. Healthy and happy. No other demands.
No other bargains.

Just healthy and happy. And in God’s time.

Then one day in March, I got a call from Dr. Mike’s office. A woman who was expecting was not able to
care for the child and wanted to know if they knew anyone who wanted to adopt a baby!
This incredibly brave woman came out of nowhere and did for me what medical science could not. She
made me a Mommy. One bright shining morning in September, she created a family where none had existed before. Brad and I were in the delivery room with our son’s Birthmother. She held him after he was born and then told the nurse, “Take him to his Mommy and Daddy.”

What a gift! His birth announcement summed up our journey in one sentence,

“Through God’s grace and a Mother’s love…we’ve adopted a son”.

As always, God was right. I let Him and He did it.

God has truly blessed my broken road. Our son has always known that he was adopted. Someday he will understand that he was doubly blessed. Blessed by a Birthmother who chose life for him, and by parents
who prayed his very being into existence. As I look back on the adoption of our son, it could
not have been more perfect.
All in God’s perfect time.

He truly gives you the child He wants you to have.

On our last day in the hospital, his Birthmother held our son and kissed him for the last time. I told her to
pick a spot and kiss him there. I promised that all future kisses on the spot would be from her, too.

So she did…..and I do…..each night when I kiss him and say, “We love you!” I really mean it…..from all of us…..his Daddy, his Birthmother, and me.

Where did the time go Princess....where did it go?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of Brandon's death. I had convinced my parents that instead of standing over Brandon's grave all day (As we did lat year) that we should go to the gulf as a family and spend time at our condo. Together. Remembering...I thought....might just be easier in a place that did not actually hold so many memories of our boy...and that's just what home holds for us.

So, my parents, amazingly, headed to our place at the gulf on Thursday morning. We followed Friday right after school dismissed. We arrived just in time to see my parents for a bit and then put the Little Prince and Princess in their own beds. I went to bed shortly afterwards, remembering this time 2 years ago when we all were attempting to sleep in the extremely uncomfortable recliners of the Critical Care Waiting Area. Jada and I had decided that these chairs were designed by the devil himself....and in fact, I spent every other day that I was not at the hospital at the chiropractor, trying to undo the damage that those heinous chairs did to my back. I remembered the last conversation I had with Brandon at the late visiting hours. Jada and I promised him that we would sneak a Mountain Dew into his room first thing in the morning at the 6 am visit. That visit never came. By 6 am, Brandon had been gone from this Earth for several hours. What gives me comfort is that there was nothing in that visit that told me that it would be the last time I ever spoke to my precious brother in this life. Later, Jada would tell me that he told her that he was tired. We didn't think anything of it though, because merely being in the CCU is tiring in and of itself. I went to sleep remembering every moment of that last night together and praying that the morning did not bring any more pain to my parents. Last year, my mother was barely able to function. I hoped that the change of scenery and the new addition of our sweet Princess (whom we did not even know about last year at this time)would be enough to ease her mind.

The morning dawned bright and pure as it must always do over the sugar white sands of our gulf, and I went out with the Princess to sit on the balcony and lose myself in the sounds of the waves. Almost immediately, I was distracted by furious flashes, far too quick for me to focus on.....after many jumps and starts, I realized that I was seeing dragonflies! Thank you Brandon. I see you there. I know that you have found us here......

When my parents got up I told them about the dragonflies. But I was afraid that we'd not see them again. To my amazement, a few hours later, as my mother was loving on our girl, she called my name and pointed to the balcony. I was astonished as I saw a HUGE dragonfly laying on the balcony. I opened the door to check on it because my mother said sadly, "I think it is dead." When I opened the door and walked toward the biggest dragonfly I'd ever seen, it suddenly zipped up, flew around the balcony and was gone! Thank you Brandon! Mother sees you here!

A few hours later, the little Prince and I leave to go to the grocery. Two dragonlfies followed us to the store where we were met by many others in all different colors!

Finally, last night, we all enjoyed a good meal together. The first time we'd all gone out to eat together at a restaurant as a family since our Princess joined us in January. We had a good time, talking football and feeding our girl some of her first table food....

When we left the restaurant, I looked up at the sky and was astounded to see what looked like hundreds of DRAGONFLIES.......flying above the restaurant where we were mother and I just looked at one another and grinned......(I looked at the neighboring establishments and there was not one dragonfly to be seen).....

It looks like Brandon found us.....and I think he brought a few friends as well.....

Thankful for visible signs and knowing that it is TRUE.....that we are often entertaining angels unaware......and wondering just what we really could see....if we only opened our eyes to look........