Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Simple Cup of Joe

I'll Be Home Soon

Not more than 4 short years ago, I considered coffee something that cowboys drank on the range...the equivalent of muddy water, with a swirl of sand at the bottom for dregs. Though I would agree, the smell of it delicious, it was similar to the aroma of abarbecue, in that the taste could never measure up to the waft.

Living a mere hour away from Seattle, one of the major coffee drinking hubs in our country, I succumbed to peer pressure and one day gave a cup of joe an honest try. Granted I would never drink it “black” like my mother did, I have to admit that with a healthy dose of steamed milk and array of wonderful flavorings, that brown water took on a whole new life and an addiction was born.

Yes, it would be far cheaper to buy a machine to satisfy my gray weather habit at home, but the fine marketing department of the coffee mecca, made it a point to hire perky people who were willing to memorize the names of all their regular patrons and their drink order. What girl does not like to be waited on by name especially in the wee hours of the morning?

Soon after discovering this new comfort, Devi arrived on the scene. Pat and I vowed from the start that Devi was joining our lives all ready in progress for far longer than hers, so we kept up the ritual of weekend coffees and simply brought her along. Hence, Story Time and Coffee Time was born and we have been partaking in this special bonding time ever since. We load up my big African Basket with juice and asmorgasbord of nuts, yogurt bites and dried fruit for Devi, toss in a few books or a game and our own cups (doing our part to save the environment) and off we go.

Over the course of three years, our coffee scene has changed many times for many reasons. While I tend to hit Starbucks during the week because of their early start time, the weekends are all about supporting the local businesses. Naturally this eases the guilt of frivolous spending, as we are stimulating our flat economy and helping the little guy (wink, wink).

For a long while we went to Art and Soul, a coffee serving-slash-ceramic painting shop, with the same employee (usually with experience in only one area) running both ends of the business. It was right across the street from the farmer’s market, and with plate glass floor to ceiling windows on all sides, the draw much more about watching the colorful pedestrians, many with a poochie or two in tow, then it was about the quality of the coffee, however it was the perfect scene for lulling a wee one to sleep. Closing for obvious reasons, we searched and found Origin 23, which wasconveniently close to Devi’s Kindermusik class. Here we found it all. Wonderful coffee roasted on site and a welcoming atmosphere with comfy overstuffed chairs, fireplace and coloring and game station for the kids. It was popular too and we soon knew and chatted with other “regulars”. Then, one Saturday in June, without warning, we pulled on the familiar door handle only to find it locked. Cupping our hands to our faces and peering into the windows, the place was deserted with not so much as a closed sign. We were once again without a coffee home. There have been several others that we visit for various reasons; Cavanaugh’s when we are walking and want to sit outside; Antique Sandwich Company when we want breakfast in addition to a coffee; and Devi’s favorite the Little Coffee House - a drive through that offers dumdum suckers to the kids, which we managed to keep a secret from her for a long time.

So why tell the long drawn out story about our coffee craving? Okay, I’ll cut to the chase. September found us still floundering for a new coffee spot so I put a shout out to T-town friends looking for a new haven. Melanie, a friend just voted the most influential woman in our city, suggested Caffe Dei. With credentials like that, I knew she must know what she was talking about, so last Saturday we gave it try. First impressions are that it is an inviting spot, with ample room to sit and very nice employees. The coffee - delicious. Devi even gave it the two thumbs up. The biggest sealer of the deal came as we were leaving. A sucker for artwork, I noticed a stack of prints for sale that were done by a local artist whose canvas originals were displayed on the cafe walls. While the walls were done in pigs, puppies and cows, I happened to find a hard to resist bunny – first on the stack of prints. Further inspection revealed the title of this particular print, THE one that caught my eye. It is called “I’ll Be Home Soon”. I love it. I bought it.

It even gives me goose bumps, or bunny bumps, thinking about it now. We’ve been praying for some sort of encouragement that our Treya will be cleared to join our family and as smooth as a steaming cup of coffee we found our sign in a bunny from our new coffee home - Caffe Dei.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dance With Me Momma

Forever Family Day 2010

A Recent Moment

Looking down into her precious face, now nearly 4 years old, I still see the quiet calm in the darkness of her almond shaped sparkling eyes and see the baby I met three years ago. Her arms are raised up in search of the comfortable embrace she has found in me—her momma.

Picking her up, her now gangly long legs can nearly wrap around my waist. One of her arms, the left one, finds a comfortable spot draped around my neck and the other huddles close to my chest with the thumb on the end of her hand finding her mouth, a source of self soothing since long before we knew each other. The sweet smell of her hair fills my nostrils and because her face is turned away from mine, I can only imagine her tired eyes struggling to stay open, though the weight of her warm brown lids gradually pull them shut. Occasional muffled heavy sighs, make way for her body to sink ever deeper into my embrace; her legs become more and more slack dangling at my knees, as we become like one shifting from side to side to the slow melodic rhythm.

Forever Family Day 2009

We are dancing, or rather I am swaying to the music that fills our living room with her wrapped in my loving arms. This is nothing new. We’ve been perfecting this choreographed dance since we met three years ago. Now a days, however, it seems that the independence that comes with her maturity finds her far too busy to need or want this place of comfort for long, although it will always be here for her.

I am delighted yet surprised that she still remembers our dance. Once a daily occurrence, now has become a rare occasion that I get to hold her in this way. Perhaps her need for a dance has been swayed by the change in the season - the chill in the air, the darkness that comes sooner with each passing day, bringing with it the urge to cuddle up and be warm. Perhaps she is aware of the approaching anniversary of our forever family day and is feeling as nostalgic as I. The difference this time is that she has sought me out and I drop everything to hold my pumpkin pie.

Forever Family Day 2008

For me, this is a gift. A chance to reflect on that fateful September 18th and marvel at how far we have come together as a family in just three short years. We have gone from falling in love with a small photo, to being legally joined, to finally living out the dream of being a family. To comfortably now know the familiar feel of her soft skin against mine, to know the thump of her heartbeat as her chest rests on mine and to hear the slow and steady whisper of her breath. These wonders, now my reality in becoming her momma, are what I know and would recognize anywhere. I feel blessed each day I get to experience her.

The day we met, September 18th, 2007

It seems each day we discover something new about her multi-faceted personality. Phrases, facial expressions and small glimpses into her world that give tiny hints about the girl, teenager and woman she will one day become. One thing is for certain...she wants to be a momma one day and will tell you what a good one she is going to be! This journey of joy is so far from what we thought we would ever experience as parents and we are enjoying every minute of her growth.

Forever Family Day 2010

This year, to celebrate our Forever Family Day we decided to reenact our September meeting. To do this, we restored the baby doll crib that my grandfather built for my sister and I to play with when we were young. A funny side note about my grand father, Elmer Joseph Schrag is that he was a jack of all trades...a wonderful talented man who with my grandmother raised 4 daughter's while working as barber, dentist, postman, farmer and carpenter in the small city of Alsen, North Dakota. I mention this because to us grand and great grand children he was a gentle giant among men. A true saint. While one child thought he was a direct decendent of thee Joseph (given his middle name and the fact that he was a carpenter) I thought he invented Elmer's glue, because he was always using it in his projects and it had his name right on the bottle!

In any case, the crib, once stained wood, somewhere along the way became white, and so we began with a fresh coat to spruce her up.

We were so excited to get started, we nearly forgot to protect a set of tiny lungs from the fumes.

Devi chose the color scheme...pink and purple, which I think is every 3 year old's favorite colors!

With the original jumping lambs and bunnies covered by countless coats of paint, we added flower, butterfly and dragon fly decals to bring sweet dreams to the baby dolls that would one day be resting there.

Crib completed we headed out to Gateway to India for our traditional Indian meal and to "ching" a toast with our glasses to another wonderful year. Devi had her Mango Lassie downed in almost a single gulp!

Full to nearly bursting, we came home and discovered the crib all made up and ready to play with. To our surprise, Devi began playing adoption on her own. We had hoped to tell HER story, but she had another story in mind. She approached the crib in her overly dramatic fashion saying "AWWWW!!! I LOVE it. Daddy, look at the baby God chose for us. Her name in Treya Sonilka. Isn't she beautiful? I am her big sister and I love her." It was over the top cheesy, just like the smile in the picture below, and so cute.

Finally it was time for bed. We sent Devi into her room to change into PJs. Things got quiet, that oh-no kind of quiet where your mom alarm goes off and you run to the place where you once left them. Her bedroom door was shut and the lights off inside. When I opened the door, there was Devi. She had pulled the rocker up to the edge of play crib and was reading a bed time story by nightlight to the baby, who has now for reasons unknown, become Treya Sonalika Wanda Sue. When she saw me, she put her finger up to her lips to shush me and whispered that her baby sister was asleep so I was to be quiet.

Ending our evening with a sweet treat, we say hello to what another year together will bring. I don't think there is any question what the three of us are wishing for.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Being Consumed.

It is one of my least favorite personality traits. Sometimes I like to reason it away as diligence, or being thorough, but in truth, it is what it is – the inability to think about anything else when a certain thing is on my mind. Gnawing.

This is not to say that at times, being consumed by something is not a good thing. Sometimes it is fun, infectious, like a giggle turned into uncontrollable fall-down laughter over the silliest of things. That something that has tickled your funny bone renders you limp, with aching sides and unable to function. Every attempt to reclaim reality is challenged by the urge to break up into that gasping for air kind of hysteria, as you are consumed by that one funny thought again and again. You simply can not let it go, or want to.

I wish it was that kind of consumed I felt now, but it isn’t.

As I type, there is a little girl in India who does not know me; who has probably never seen my photograph, although some have been sent to her. In her short 18 months of life she has overcome much, developed her own life and I like to think, she is happy. She certainly does not long for anything different, she knows nothing else, as she has lived in an orphanage since her fifth day of life.

Ours is the family who has become consumed by her and the process to be joined with her forever, since first eyeing her photograph in February. Filling out paperwork - send me mountains of it and I will comply with an astounding amount of diligence and accuracy – crossing every T and dotting every I. Appointments and interviews - my date book is open and I willingly rearrange my schedule to fit all of them in every time. Then finally, there comes that time when all of your front end effort is done. It leaves your hands and is sent in the form of documents, forms and files to an office on the other side of the world. This office is one that I have no phone number for, no way to exchange email, in fact, I’ve signed a contract that states I will not contact them or interfere directly, but will only correspond through our adoption agency that is a whole state away. The agency's instruction to us was that the next step (NOC) usually takes 2 months, but has been averaging 3 months, and considering closures may take 4 or more months - all of these statistics are carefully marked on our calendar to help anxiously count down the time.

Just as we approached the 3 month mark and began to allow ourselves to anticipate good news with the next phone call....a bomb was dropped. CARA (the governing body overseeing all adoptions) streamlined their process, the result sending us a step backward to have our child cleared for international adoption again, but through a different office this time. Still, in that distant office, the flurry of shuffled papers takes place miles away and we wonder if our paperwork stack remains together, travels together or even finds the correct desk again. Is this change in course being handled in the swift way I could have done it if maneuvering the system myself? Is there any sense of urgency? We can only hope. Though cases waiting for NOC will be processed first, a 3-4 month delay is predicted. As the heavy dead weight of each of these facts filled with disappointment are loaded upon our shoulders, we find out that part of the days I so diligently Xed off my calendar, CARA was not issuing NOCs at all. We were not marking time at all. Stagnant.

With nothing but idle time to wait, I can’t turn off my brain. Consumed. The facts and figures swirl in my head, each analysis makes me further realize the devastation this news brings. Where do we stand now? I have no idea. Delays is a word that has no definite meaning. Delay in one's fast food order translates to 5 minutes. Delay on the production of a 747 could be years. In adoption, we are told delay is unpredictable and normal. For us this means traveling by the end of the year; highly unlikely. Traveling by her 2nd birthday in January; don’t count on it. Traveling, most likely, more than a year after seeing her cute little face in a photo for the first time; hard to comprehend. Will I even recognize my child, whose changing appearances were last captured in the photograph I carry; now more than 4 months old?

Then there is the worry that comes by the comparisons. Treya will be more than double the age that Devi was when we met her, which translates into so many more missed milestones, holidays, bonding time and selfishly, my last chance to cuddle my own baby baby; one who still fits my lap, not yet yearning for her own independence. I worry about her sense of loss when we take her from her home in India to her new residence in the states and remember the rule...we will see the biggest changes in our child when she has been in her new home longer than the time spent in India. For Treya that will occur when she will be nearly 4 years old! With each passing day these fears grow stronger in my consumed mind, knowing that I would do anything to change these circumstances. Yes, I would do anything for this child I've never met.

This part of the journey is miserable. It is sad, maddening and quite certainly, out of control. No matter how consumed I am or become over the numbers, there is nothing to be done about the changes at CARA, how fast officials do their job, the extra months of delay keeping us from our daughter, or other delays that could pop up later. I now understand how Devi feels when she throws herself down on the floor in a tantrum totally overwhelmed by the fact that she can not have what she wants. I feel like having one too–like pulling my hair and screaming how unfair it all is, but with my maturity comes the realization that none of this would change a single thing. Unless I can let these feelings go and live in the moment, I will most certainly go crazy. At the very least I've driven my family and friends to within inches of the cliff, as every conversation, no matter how hard I try, somehow comes back to Treya, rehashing the same facts over and over...I think of nothing else. Gnawing.

Last night, I dreamed of numbers. Average number of days for NOC or guardianship; amount of days until our paperwork begins to expire again; days until Treya's birthday, Christmas, and other holidays...numbers, Numbers, NUMBERS. I woke up exhausted, concluding that I have to let the escalating misery go and find peace.

After hearing the lasted news from CARA, I was commiserating with a fellow adoption friend who helped me see past my obsession of over consuming thoughts and brought back some focus. She wrote...

"Peace be with you, dear friend. I'm trying to remember that God is there with his big conductor's baton, orchestrating the day when our little daughters will be in our arms."

With no idea of when we might take that next step forward, my reply? "Let's hope He is conducting a MARCH!"

Still waiting.