Tuesday, April 20, 2010

(An)Other Way: Pragmatic Empathy as Response to Discursive Conflict

Yesterday, my husband turned in a defendable draft of his dissertation. This means that the project (200 page book) he began almost five years ago is almost complete and I am going to be officially married to a Dr. soon (May 14th to be exact).

I want to take this moment to say how proud I am of my husband. I am proud, of course, at what he has accomplished. Getting a PhD is not an easy thing. John loves what he does and works hard to be a good teacher and academic. But I am more proud of the way he has gone about accomplishing this.

We got married the summer before he started his Masters degree at Western. From day one, he has been very purposeful in the manner in which he works so that his family is always first. He has worked either a full or part time job and been a full time student throughout the whole process. Even in this he has managed to live a full life while immersed in the rigor of academics.

Moving to North Carolina and beginning his PhD was no different. I have spoken to so many spouses that say that their significant other was so difficult to live with while in school. John has been able to balance school with home life better than anyone I know. Much better than I would have been able to. We have had a baby girl, adopted a baby boy, been actively involved in church communities, and many other things, all while John was working on getting his degree, a degree that takes most five to six years to accomplish with life on hold and a full commitment to the task.

The past few months have been difficult. I have watched John struggle daily with trying to keep it together while being pulled in so many directions; knowing that finishing his dissertation had to take priority. He is working full time at Elon, stays home with the kids two days a week, and had the impending deadline of April 19th to turn in his draft hanging over his head. Every spare moment has been commited to this task. He was forced to give up all leisure time in the evenings and weekends so that we could move forward in life. I would like to say that I was a wonderful support system for him during this time but to be honest, I didn’t do well without the consistency and presence of my best friend. John is the mood setter in our home so the mood has been stressful and exhasted. And it is in this that I have realized just how hard he has worked these past years to live life with us instead of being consumed with school.

In a world that tells us that success in our careers is the most important thing, I have been blessed with a partner that will drop everything to play with his son and daughter or watch a movie with his wife. Someone that saw adopting our baby boy as more important than completing his degree "on time" or being the best in his field. I am so glad that this part of our journey is over but through this experience I have come to respect John and trust that he will always put us first, no matter the temptations of work or life. What a blessing to have in a husband!

Congratulations Honey!!! You are almost done!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Love Comes Gushing.......

A few weeks ago we began to feel it. You know, that overwhelming sense of love. The kind of love that you just can’t help, that doesn’t hinge on experiences or success, but is just there. The kind of love that doesn’t have to be chosen but comes naturally. I believe strongly that to love someone, you have to choose to. Not that there aren’t times when love comes gushing in a way you wouldn’t expect, but when that doesn’t happen, choosing to love can be as strong a bond as the love that gushes. When we decide to love someone, whether that is through marriage, adoption or friendship, there are times when the love is a choice, and there are times when it comes naturally.

When we first saw the pictures of our son, love came gushing. There was something in all of the expectation that allowed us to love him at first sight. We stepped on the plane and our expectations were high. The love that we had was finally able to connect with the baby boy that we were so excited to meet.

It is a strange feeling meeting your son for the first time at six months old. Not a bad feeling, just a strange one, one that neither of us had experienced before. We didn’t know what made him happy, what made him upset, how he liked to be tickled, what types of toys were his favorite, what each cry meant…. This made him unfamiliar to us. He had a great personality from the beginning, so lovable, sweet and adorable. I had a hard time understanding why love wasn’t coming naturally. So we chose it and held on to the knowledge that it just takes time. My acts of love toward Johnny remained the same. I held, cuddled, kissed and whispered sweet things in his ear. Every once in a while I would feel the urge to run over, sweep him up and give him a kiss, feeling that uncontrollable love for him for an instant. Then I would go back to choosing to love, holding on to these fleeting moments.

These first months home were really hard. It may have been going from one to two children. It may have been having a 6 month old baby boy in our home that we did not yet know. It may have been the lack of sleep. It was probably a little of each. Each week John and I would check in with each other. Does it feel natural for you yet? No, but seems to be getting closer….maybe. Do we feel like a family of four yet? No, but each day seems a bit more “normal” than the last.

And then it just happened. That overwhelming feeling of love just started to show up on a regular basis. That feeling that our family would be incomplete without our sweet and joyful son was there. It wasn’t there because we chose for it to be, it was there because it was just there. We know that there will be ups and downs but are so glad to be over this first hurdle.

I am so glad that I am part of the blog world. Reading other families journeys is what has allowed me to sit back and wait. Not that I didn’t have some panic days. The days that were really hard. The days that the lack of sleep and the strange feeling were overwhelming. But on these hard days I had other families to look to for support. Some right in the middle of it, some having come out on the other side singing the praises of an attached and wonderful adoption, and some just at the beginning of their journey reminding me how excited we were and how sure we were that this was what God had for our family.

Tomorrow we will hit the three month mark. It has been three months since Johnny arrived home, met his sister and became part of our family. His personality and love for us has blossomed as quickly as our love for him. We are so thankful he is a Pell. He is ours and we are his.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Easter Day

(This is our Easter family picture....man add one kid and it makes it impossible to get a picture with us all looking......)

We had friends over to our house and had a great time celebrating Easter. It was a houseful for the first time since Johnny came home. We love having people over and it was nice to be able to do this again. Johnny did great with the crowd.

Kai and Emma ready to go for their Easter egg hunt.....

Easter Egg Decorating....

And of course, a little bit of dancing with her dance buddy.....

And a lot of chocolate!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easter Craft

The weather has gotten beautiful so I was able to set up our front porch for the kids to play a couple of weeks ago. We took advantage of our new craft table and made an Easter craft.

We took raw eggs and poked holes in the top and bottom...

We blew air in one end to force out the inside of the egg....

Then Emma painted them, we put them on sticks and made an egg bouquet.....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lindley Park Easter Egg Hunt

We live in such a great neighborhood. Each year they have an Easter egg hunt for the kids. They cover the park with Easter eggs and the kids go to town. This was the first year that Emma was really able to participate in the hunt. The kids all lined up and we told to start hunting for eggs at the same time. I explained to Emma that once they said "Go" that she would need to run to get eggs or the other kids would get them first. Emma took off running as fast as her little legs could go. She got a couple of yards and fell down. Not the slight trip kind but the fall straight on your face kind. She started crying and just laid there. I looked ahead and saw all of the other kids scooping up all of the eggs on the lawn. Like the good mother I am, I picked her up and ran her to the front of the pack (hmmm, I wonder how many dirty looks I got from the other parents). She then proceeded to pick up each individual egg that she saw, shake it to see what type of candy might be in it, then look around for another one. She ended up getting just a few eggs but didn't seem to care once she was able to eat the candy inside.

She takes after her mother. I am a HORRIBLE easter egg hunter. My younger brother and sister alway beat me significantly on the easter egg count so much so that I really HATE hunting for easter eggs. Thank goodness I have a daughter and son that can now spend their Easter's hunting for eggs while I have the freedom to eat as much candy as I want without the horror of hunting for colored eggs in the yard.

Santa....very scary......Huge Bunny with creepy dress on...Emma's best friend

Johnny smiling as always......
We went to the hunt with our good friends, the Phipps'. This is Kai, Emma and Johnny waiting for the easter egg hunt to start...

Trip to the Zoo

Our zoo membership ended the last day in March so we took advantage of our early spring weather and met our good friend Emily and her daughter Adelaide. This is as good is it gets with a picture of my two kiddos...

Johnny was happy the whole day. He took his nap in the Ergo and enjoyed a day out in the sun....

Emily's friends and their daughters came along so the girls had a great time exploring the zoo....

Ok, we will try to pose for one more picture. Johnny is thinking....why am I sitting on a bee???

Ok, I am outa here......

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Day at the Park

Emma is loving being a big sister. The park is so much fun now and she insists that Johnny join her each time she goes down the slide. He LOVES the swing and giggle almost the entire time. I love the spring and am so glad to be able to get out in the sunshine and enjoy the outdoors.

Princess Party

Emma friend Rhyann had a princess party and Emma was able to wear her authentic Cinderella dress all day (and the next day as well....think she would have slept in it had we let her).
Emma "helping" Ryann open her gifts....

The party was 45 minutes away so after an eventful morning, the kids both fell asleep in the car. This is one of the best sights for a parent to see. Especially because they are both transferable!!