Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's the Little Stuff

     Yesterday my sparrow was found.  By another teacher in another classroom.
     Yesterday Etienne hugged me.  A real hug around my neck on his own initiation.  Etienne crashes into me, he pushes me away or he climbs on me but I don't remember the time he willingly touched me because he
 wanted to touch me.  Just for touch, for contact.  I didn't realize until he had his arms around my neck how much I needed this.
     I consider the found sparrow and the hug to be a gift.  Like a hallmark card of encouragement.  So, so thankful for these.

PS Thank you for the comments here, the texts, the prayers, the emails.  God used you in big ways to bless me this week.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This is What Love Looks Like

    "I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined his ear to me therefore I will call on him as long as I live." -Psalm 116:1-2
     I woke up early today and caught a baby.  On my drive home, at sunrise, I was praying that God would just pour out compassion and mercy on me toward my son today.  At that moment, a song came on the radio and the lyrics said something about "and I will live to carry your compassion, to love a world that's broken, to be your hands and feet."  Awesome.  I can do this again.
     I needed that encouragement because in the hours before school, Etienne was full of anger toward me.  He couldn't articulate his feelings and it didn't matter what I did, I just got the brunt of tears, yelling and whining.  It was okay.  We can do this.  God can do this.
     It was only 9am when I saw the caller ID say "Lewis & Clark," and I heard the nurse's voice telling me that Etienne had run, deliberately, into a wall on the way to ELL.  She informed me that he had quite a goose egg but he was otherwise fine and ready to go back to class.  I hung up the phone and a little voice in my head was telling me that he needed me.  I wanted to confer with my husband, a counselor, another attachment mom.  Ultimately, a few text encouragements later, I was at the school.  Feeling the judgement of the school secretary and the school nurse (huddled together, arms crossed, forced smiles, "boys do those things" comments), I sat down in front of my E and I told him I loved him.  I told him when he wasn't with me, he was still my son and he was still always on my mind and in my heart.  He wouldn't look me in the eye and he pulled away from my touch.  I took off my sparrow necklace and put it around him.  I wear it 24/7 to remind him that "even the sparrow has a home," (Psalm 84:3) and it's our thing.
     A few hours (and no phone calls!) later, I went to pick Etienne up.  No necklace.  "I took the circle and I opened it and I threw the bird out because I didn't want it."  Sigh.  I tried to hold his hand but he pushed me away.  I knew there wasn't a point in talking about it.  I knew it was a risk to have him wear it.  I knew that the necklace, made by my sister Katie, wasn't worth a lot of numerical value but was priceless in my heart.  She assured me that she can make as many as we need.
     This kind of love, it's so messy.  It's so complicated.  Last night, I was in this place where I knew in my core that I loved Etienne, but I didn't want to.  And then my heavenly father renewed my spirit.  He surrounded me by family (biological and chosen) to remind me that I am so privileged beyond measure to walk this path.  To live in grace alone.  To know that every victory was so not my doing.  Today wasn't really a victory for Etienne but I feel like there was a victory within me because I can do this again.  I can take the lies, the manipulation, the destruction and know that it really isn't me.  It isn't about me at all.  It's a battle for my son's soul and I am ready to fight again.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


    Yesterday, in anger and frustration, I left the house for a run in the rain.  As my feet hit the pavement, my eyes caught sight of one lonely acorn on the road.  It lay perfect, full of potential, on the cold concrete.  It's cheesy, I know, but I had this image of Etienne.  There have been many days lately where I absolutely hate attachment parenting.  I just want to give up because it feels so fruitless.  So here is my broken hearted son, that already doubts his purpose and his worth, with a mom that is feels like that lonely pavement.  I can't get passed my ugly feelings without God doing it for me. 
      I'm not gonna lie.  Me and E, we've been battling a lot of lies these last few days.  It is oil and water.  I'm feeling about as bad as I've felt in my mama days.  I know that none of the doubt, the anger, the frustration, the hopelessness is true.  I know.  But I am feeling it anyway.  So I am choosing tonight to worship God.  There isn't anything else I can do.  These are the lyrics I have been listening to over and over and over.  A Rwanda Mama made them on a plaque for me and I just keep humming it.  The victory will someday be His.
"Never Once"  Matt Redman 

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful


Friday, August 24, 2012

Mama Days

     Zeke is in a bit of a mourning period.  He's never been the only child and I am just not that much fun.  No matter how many games we play, books we read or songs we sing, I am not as interesting or amusing as big brothers.  The big kids have been back to school a week and Zeke still gets tearful every morning at good bye time.
     Each night, Ezekiel will figure out the "pattern," whether tomorrow is a "Mama Day" or not.  Then we make our plans: hiking, the library, picnics, Xbox, Memory, Sorry!, walks, Play Dough.  We've made homemade marinara, bread, salsa and roasted tomatoes.  We've cleaned carpets, painted some walls.
     I'm appreciating the dialogue that my 3 sons have with one another.  Now that Blake and Etienne are gone during the day, I am the only audience for Zeke.  "Mama!  Remember that time we were in the car and we saw a bird?"  While I will fake remembering this, Zeke's brothers will know exactly the time and the bird Zeke is referencing.  I am exhausted by the end of our Mama/Zeke days.
     And I love it.  I love that Zeke gets my full attention. Finally.  He doesn't have to wait for the drama to pass or for his turn on my lap.  He gets all of me, all day.  I am so blessed by this sacred time with him.  As long as Ezekiel has been a Higgins', he has often had to wait to get in his snuggles.  It's his turn and it's lovely.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Red & Yellow, Black & White...

     We were enjoying a "kids eat free" night, rehashing our days.  Dinner usually takes forever because of the conversations and that Ezekiel savors every morsel he eats.  I love, love, love our long dinners.  This one was particularly remarkable.
     Etienne said "I'm the only dark kid in my class."
   Shoot.  Weren't we supposed to have a few more years of parenting in a biracial family before this became an issues?  Well, you can't ignore a comment like that.  Here we go.  We jumped into "just the facts" mode, then Blake pointed out that I am the only one in the family with blue eyes.  Molly piped up with something intelligent about issues of race historically causing conflict (Blake with eye rolling here).  We asked Etienne how being the darkest one in the class made him feel but he couldn't articulate.  That's okay.  It is huge that he could verbalize these observations with us.  Although we attempt to surround ourselves with diversity every day, he will be different.  Our job is to get E to a place where he just holds on tight to what his value is in Christ, not his classmates, his skin color or anything of this world.
  I am blessed that my life and my children give me these moments.  These are conversations and lessons we wouldn't experience if God has given us a path of least resistance.  And there is always some humor.  Please note the photos below.

  PS Etienne actually has a class full of red, yellow, black and white kids. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A New Chapter.

"But now, this is what the Lord says, he who created you, Jacob,  who formed you,  Israel, 'Do not fear, I  have redeemed you, I summoned you, you are mine'." -Isaiah 43:1


  • Molly and Blake have the biggest hearts in the world.  They initiated a "football huddle" prayer around Etienne in the driveway this morning.  Blake invited E to play with his friends at recess. Molly loaned him her bracelet.  My heart swelled.
  • Zeke got a day full of the zoo, swimming, his favorite foods and snuggles.
  • I don't have to say a word to the girls I work with.  They just know.
  • The kindergarten teacher that has entered Etienne's life said "I want to meet Etienne where he is."
  • I was overloaded with texts from my loved ones near and far, praying for my children.  Tears.
  • There was a "friend" today next to E (we don't know his name, but he wore a black shirt today.  This is one thing I have really been praying for.  Just one nice kid to be his true friend.
  • Etienne's heart.  Last night at his first football practice, he got picked on (physically and verbally). Kids are stupid, E is twice their size.  We told him "The first time a kid hits you, say stop.  The second time, tell a grown up.  The third time, you hit him back."  He looked at us and said "I could never hit someone."  More tears.  Sweet, sweet boy. 
Right after their huddle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


We went with fresh paint.
And a 5 year old standing with me, holding a spill rag.
We tried to talk about how HE felt when he did this.  At first, he went with "nothing," but before the day was over, he could say he was worried about the kids at school.
Last night, new crayon in the bedroom.  I cringed, but ignored it.  Some wise adoptive parents and a teacher to some really messed up kids suggested this.  Really, no consequence makes a difference.  So its our own frustration and pride that we need to bury.
I still haven't  found that darn black crayon.  Please, no art supplies for his birthday.

Monday, August 13, 2012

We are Seeking Input

Tonight, I despise Crayola.

     Ryan and I have been lying awake, brainstorming solutions for a concrete, new problem. I can't go to sleep until I Lament, and hopefully get some concrete feedback.
      In 6 days we have had 5 separate instances of crayons on the walls. Etienne has colored on the walls/cabinets/floor, and now, tonight six different spots upstairs.
     The crayons and all writing utensils are kept in the family desk, in the kitchen, with easy access to promote creativity.  We don't want to move them because Molly and Blake are constantly coming up with something (letter to Sports Illustrated, a new comic strip about kittens) and it is in a central, easy to see location in our home.  Etienne has not been allowed to use anything in this area without one of us for a long time.  Plus, we really don't have anywhere that E can't get to.  So that isn't an option.
     After the first instance of marker on the bedroom wall, I made a solution of dye free/fragrance free detergent and water.  It was from "How to Clean Everything," copyright 1979, one of my favorite hand-me-downs from my mom.  Well that got the marker off, but also the paint.  The woodwork and hardwoods have been easier to scrub off.  So I'm wondering if anyone has any cleaning suggestions.  At this point, I could care less if they are kid safe or environmentally friendly.  Let's get real.  At bedtime, I discovered a door, closet, bedroom wall, bathroom wall and hallway with black crayon.  I really, really need something that isn't going to take all day and all my elbow grease to work.
     My second request is feedback for responding in a manner that will continue to promote attachment .  The first few times, we made him attempt cleaning and sit next to us while we worked.  Then last night we made him read books while our guest children played.  Obviously, none of this has impacted him.  Suggestions?
     It's also important to note that our child is still so insecure in our love.  Ryan and I sandwiched him last night, reassuring him and talking about how loving God can fix everything.  Then I asked him "Every night, when Mommy and Daddy are praying and snuggling with you, how do we feel about you?"  He shrugged his shoulders.  "I dunno."
     That answer is why I can not spank him, I can not slap his color happy fingers.  That answer is exactly why I have a school aged child habitually damaging our home.  BTW, he could care less about doing art work so save the "redirecting creativity" ideas.
     Our next strategy is that when he awakes, I will have him sit with me a scrub for a really long time.  As long as it takes.  We are back to not letting him leave my side, even to pee, mode.  But if anyone has any thoughts that will promote attachment, help him remember this behavior is BAD and also keep me from LOSING MY MIND, I would love it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What I've Learned This Week

     The meeting with the teacher didn't happen.  Long story.  Hoping to get it all arranged (at least briefly) before Etienne's first day next week  There is very little that we can control and, ultimately, we can't do much to ease Etienne's anxiety or behaviors either.  It's totally a God thing.  I've been discouraged this week, feeling that I'm spinning my wheels with my rhyming songs, fun filled "memory making" summer days, ridiculous routines.  Some days it seems for nothing.  Poor pity party, I know.  I am not going for martyr.  Not wanting sympathy.  Just sharing parenting in our house this week.
     Some of this was brought on by yesterday.  Etienne had pulled an all nighter, literally.  At 3:09AM, he came in and woke us up, giving me a detailed account of everything that went on after we thought he was asleep (this is creepy, trust me).  He hadn't slept at all.  So we lay in his bed, then he laid between us, then on a nest on the floor. Repeat.  Repeat again.  My heart broke as I lay there thinking that if any other kid couldn't fall asleep, we heard about it within a half hour or so because we are their comforter.  My other kids trust me too soothe them back to sleep.  Etienne lied alone for 6.5 hrs before seeking his parents.  Ugh.
     I went to work all day long and Ryan was home with the exhausted child.  Should have been a challenging day, right?  Etienne was a dream kid for his father.  They had very little structure and nothing fun or educational.  Don't get my wrong, Ryan is the best dad in the world, but he is running out of days to prepare for his students, so he was trying to get his room prepared and the entourage tagged along to school.  No working on letters, doing chores, reading and swimming.  Once I returned home, however, I seemed to throw a wrench in the well behaved kid.
     I know,  I know it was at the end of a day.  Between 5pm and bedtime it is usually difficult for Etienne anyway.  It just felt like it was my fault.  I'm battling some hopelessness, some sleeplessness and tossing the RAD into it stinks.  So here is a list of the sweet smelling stuff I've learned in parenting this week.  I'm going for a glass half full here.

  • Silly Putty expands in a drain.  Thanks to my husband and brother, I know how to undo and reattach the drain to get it out.
  • Dye free, fragrance free detergent takes paint off a wall.  But it also gets of marker, ink and crayon.
  • Every time I open my bible, God throws the exact verse I need in my face.  Then my brother often texts me the same one.
  • An entire package of gum can be consumed on the sly, in under 3 minutes, when I'm putting my shoes on.  
  • I don't need sleep to see 20 patients in  day.  I just need God's grace.  And patience from my nurses.
  • No matter how loud it gets in the mini van, Ryan is a master at only hearing Dave Matthews Band.
  • Etienne could seriously compete as a world class athlete.  For real.  Its the motivation that's missing.  My dad and father-in-law are probably shaking their heads that I just realized this.  It was watching his front flip into a dive at the pool that convinced me.
  • Romans 12:12 "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
  • Breech natural births are awesome.  Not ideal and dangerous but nonetheless amazing.
  • It's only Thursday.

Monday, August 6, 2012

T Minus 9 Days

     Summer is winding down.  We've spent absurd amounts of money on wide rule paper, pink erasers and new jeans.  Molly is thin on patience and the boys are actually getting a little tired of going to the pool.  It's time for a new season.
     Etienne is going to kindergarten in 9 days.  Typing that, I feel a knot in my stomach and my heart beat quickens.  9 days and than he isn't going to have me to slyly pull his thumb out of this mouth.  9 days until he  won't have Blake to laugh at every sentence that makes no sense.  9 days and then he gets thrown to the wolves.  Other kids, I mean.
     Believe me that Ryan and I have made a million pro and con lists.  Our community is surrounded by home school families while our own family is full of public school teachers.  For over a year now, I have attempted to teach him his letters, numbers, colors and opposites.  It has mostly been a frustrating disaster.  I am a descent midwife but I am no educator.  It has become very clear to us that our job in Etienne's life is to teach him LOVE and FAMILY.  We also know that he needs the resources that the school district offers.  Ultimately, prayerfully, the decision to send him to the neighborhood school is the right choice for now.
     A while ago, I was sitting with E in a gym at the YMCA when I realized how difficult learning was for him.  We were counting basketballs but he couldn't comprehend numerical values.  Honestly, this hit me hard.  At that time, I  had a lot to process.  Selfishly, I probably thought somewhere in the corner of my brain that because of our work as parents, our children would do well in school.  Struggles academically were for kids whose parents didn't read to them, right?  A year and a half later, I can honestly say that I don't care when Etienne learns to read.  Seriously, it doesn't matter anymore.  I care that he his classmates embrace his non-stop jibberish, that his teacher sees how gentle he is and that the school community gets a glimpse of God's love for us through our adoption of Etienne.  He may not learn to read until the rest of the kids have moved onto multiplication.  So what.  It's safe to say that Etienne has survived more in his lifetime his counterparts will ever see.  God is at work.  Beauty out of ashes.
     So many changes.  Change here usually leads to some rough days.  This change is hitting Zeke and Mama hard.  I choke up thinking about how I can't protect him and just mentioning  Etienne going to school brings tears to Ezekiel's eyes.  He is so heartbroken to be left behind.  I try desperately to put a positive spin on it.  "Zeke, you get mama all to yourself!  We can go on hikes and to the library and bake cookies and learn to read!"  His reply?  "I just wanna drink a lot of water."  Sweet Zeke-ee baby.  We can drink it by the buckets, buddy.

When he sucks his thumb, my heart hurts that he never really got  to be a baby.