Our First Christmas Season Together

Somehow today, New Year's Eve, really crept up on me. The last day of 2013...how did it arrive so quickly? I feel like we have just now recovered from 4 Christmas celebrations and already it is time to celebrate again. This year, we are embracing our current situation and staying home with just Ryan, the boys, and me. While going to big gatherings with friends is super tempting, I know in my heart it is just best to stay home this year. We are hoping to have a countdown with the boys around 7:00 or so, and then we'll put them to bed. My grandfather sent us some delicious steaks and lobster tails for Christmas, so we plan to have a date at home this year with dinner and a movie. We will watch the ball drop, wish each other Happy Anniversary (9 years for us on New Year's Day), and share a nice smooch. :)

A simple ending to a wild year.

My mind was whirling with blog ideas throughout December, but I just could never find the time to write. In fact, truth be told, I'm not even sure what to share today. I guess we will just see where this goes.

December for me was a roller coaster. One day I would find myself basking in the fact that we've all adjusted so well to our new family dynamic. I would celebrate Noah's role as big brother, Liam's heart softening to Tucker, and Tuck's trust for all of us growing much stronger. I would thank God for growing Ryan's and my hearts' and for giving us the patience, endurance, and love to enjoy our lives with these three boys.

Then, the next day, I would feel completely overwhelmed and question if I was equipped to parent these boys, especially Tucker. Recently, someone posted this on Facebook, and it resonated so much.

"Raising a biological child is like building a bridge out of popsicle sticks, taking one stick at a time and securing it to another with glue until you build a work of art. When you adopt a [2 1/2] year old, rather than starting one stick at a time, you start with a pile of sticks loosely formed into a bridge, and the goal is to hold it together while you go back and glue each piece, making adjustments without completely destroying the framework of what is inherently there, to form an equally beautiful work of art. A daunting task, but a worthy challenge!"
There is part of me who so badly wants to look at Tucker and have him just be a boy, my son and not the premature 3 lb. baby who was abandoned by his birth parents, the child who lived his first 2 1/2 years in a HUGE institution, the child who did not receive enough food and nutrition. You see, when you look at a picture of Tuck and his beautiful, charming smile, you see a happy, sweet boy - and he most definitely is. When I look at Tucker, I see those things, too, but a thousand thoughts cross my mind...images of a place on the other side of the world.

I see the place where he was found...the people who were there.

I see the orphanage walls...a playground with no children playing.

I see the children who remain in that institution...the ones who have no heat at night to keep them warm. I can't look at Tucker without thinking of them.

I see the empty eyes of a little boy who followed us there...the little baby with cleft lip and palate. Will someone come for them?

I see Tucker scared and crying on Gotcha Day, not understanding why the people he knew walked away from him.

I feel the rejection he gave me in China...his pushing away and crying because I was not the momma he knew.

All of these thoughts and so many more crush my heart in just one look.

Yesterday, something happened that has occurred many times before. I was in the kitchen, and Tucker walked up to me, grabbed my leg, and said, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy." I bent down, and he just wrapped his arms around my neck. I gave him a huge squeeze, told him I loved him, and kissed his sweet face. As he walked away, I couldn't help but just watch him walk to the other room. I stared at him in disbelief that he is home, that he is walking and running so much more smoothly, that he has gained 4 1/2 lbs. in just 11 weeks, and that he knows me as his mommy. As those thoughts and the ones I mentioned above swirl through my mind, Tucker stopped, looked back, and flashed a huge smile my direction. I smiled back at him, and he ran to my outstretched arms, laughing his beautiful belly laugh. Again, he kissed me and we told each other, "I love you." I told him I am happy he is home. He repeated, "Home." A simple exchange but so many emotions and thoughts that engulf it.

I struggle with wanting to live an easy life again, to not be in this transition of becoming a family and navigating relationships with our friends and family. I selfishly want a "normal" life even though I know this life is perfect and beautiful...the one He chose for us. I get overwhelmed with the fact that I have two 2 year old boys, who find themselves in plenty of mischief and fights over toys. I grow weary of Tucker hoarding food in his mouth during meal time, as it is a reminder of how hungry my sweet boy was and how much he is trying to have some control of his life. I have so many friends and family members who love us and support us, yet I find it hard to describe the trials of this new life. It is wonderful and beautiful but also so exhausting and heart breaking.

My friend, Claire, sent me a very sweet and thoughtful text message yesterday. Hopefully she will not mind that I am sharing it, as I hope it encourages my sweet adoptive momma friends out there...or anyone who finds themselves with these same feelings. She wrote, "Taking on someone else's pain and brokenness is the most Christ like thing we can do, and even He sat in the garden and begged God to find another way!" Reading those words again brings tears to my eyes. It is such encouragement to my soul.

As I navigate 2014, my heart desires Him to lead me still, to be the foundation for our family. I pray that each of you will find a way to get involved in orphan care. It is a cause so close to God's heart, and I hope it is becoming one that is dear to yours. We can't do everything, but we all can do something. Lives are changed. Hearts are mended. Souls are enriched. I can't wait to see what 2014 brings for all of us.

Enjoy these pictures of our first December together as a family!

All dressed for the first big snow

Tucker's first snow fall

Tuck's first Christmas cookies (captured by Noah)

Liam's obsession with open-mouthed pictures

Decorating cookies

Tucker only had a little icing and sprinkles b/c he was in a hurry to eat it!

Brothers - This is how adoption blesses bio kids

With their cousin, Natalie

Look who learned to jump!

All the Tuzzins

Goofballs 24/7

Christmas Program 2013

Intermission Freestyle

Finale Freestyle

First Christmas Eve Eve Together

Mama and Papa's attempt to start a family band

My niece finding out she got One Direction tickets (Yes, I cried, too)

The gift that keeps on giving!!

My three sons

Christmas Eve at home in their Chinese silks

Kisses for their big brother

Tucker putting out cookies for Santa

Story time before bed

O' Holy Night

Santa came! (Truth: Craiglist)

Waiting to come downstairs Christmas morning

My sleepy boy loves his cars

My blue eyed baby

My precious boy

I love him even when he cries

Kya even got treats in her stocking!

Christmas celebration in South Whitley

Surprised by his TMNT DVDs

Sledding indoors

My first adopted baby (9 years old)

Snuggles with my sons

So many incredible memories and moments this Christmas season. In fact, when I just got Tucker up from his nap, I was rocking him when he stopped me and gave me a big kiss. Then for the first time he whispered in my ear, "Mommy, Daddy, Noah, Liam, Tucker...Family...Home." Tears filled my eyes. Thankful for the birth of a Savior who came to redeem us all. Blessed that there is one less orphan in the world and that Tucker will grow up knowing the God who raised us up to bring him home in 2013.

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