November 22, 2013

No More "No Problem"

As long as it has taken me to get myself together to post an update, it took significantly less time to be slammed back into reality when we returned home from our trip to Jamaica.  For those of you who didn't know we went, and are wondering how we could possibly be so negligent as to take a trip to paradise while we have no income, you can read that back story here.  Coming home from paradise was sort of like getting sprayed in the face with pepper spray.

I say that figuratively, of course, but I also mean that literally... but more on that later.

Jamaica was perfection.  We had no idea how much we needed that time away, but when we found ourselves in bed asleep by 8:30 on the first night, we realized how exhausted we have been.  I realized that in the past nine months we brought home our fifth child - and a number of unexpected medical concerns we had not anticipated - and although that was a huge adjustment, we changed almost nothing.  We did not slow down, we did not adjust our lifestyle to make room for the countless appointments with specialists, or for physical and speech therapy, or for learning sign language.  We didn't stop serving at church or volunteering at schools, we haven't cleared our schedule in any way.  

In fact, that is pretty true of the last ten years.  We had Annalee five weeks after our wedding, and that kicked off the whirlwind of a life we now consider normal.

So, when we collapsed into our bed that first night in Jamaica, we slept like elderly people.  

Our time consisted of eating and lounging and basking in the kind of sunlight that never quite reaches all the way to the frozen tundra of upstate New York.  We experienced the energizing effects of sleep, coffee while it is still hot, uninterrupted conversation, and massive amounts of all natural, equator-style Vitaman D.  Jamaica is a natural anti-depressant.

This was actually our view.  This really happened.  Places like this exist.

I cam back comparing everything to the idyllic time we had in Jamaica.

"Babies don't gag on their own hearing aids in Jamaica!"


"Jamaica would never make us pay bills!"


"I would never drop one thousand brussel sprouts in the parking lot in Jamaica!"


"I never had pepper spray in my eyeballs in Jamaica!"

You get the point.  We miss Jamaica.

Don't get me wrong... we had our troubles in Jamaica too.  I would drop brussel sprouts in Jamaica, because no matter where I am or what I am holding, I spill/drop/ruin it.  In fact, I spilled my coffee every single morning in Jamaica.  The difference was that I was a slob in JAMAICA!  Not only did the spilling continue as normal, but so did my general absent-mindedness.  I left my phone by the pool, thinking Tom had it, and when I came back (hours later) to look for it... it was already being sold on the Jamaican black market.  But, I was a an absent-minded victim-who-kinda-had-it-coming in JAMAICA!  The bad luck wasn't just me, Tom had his own absent-minded trouble.

Like when he lost his precious baby.

His precious baby is his I-Pod that he got for free 100 years ago.  It was the first one Apple ever made.  It is like the Model T of I-Pods and he got it for free by signing up for a ridiculous amount of junk mail.  He loves it, it is precious to him, and it is the size of an actual human baby, and it is full of music he considers a "variety" despite the fact that it is 90 giggawatts of identical sounding songs.

When Tom shook the sand out of his towel, absent-mindedly, you can imagine his shock when he realized that his precious baby was sailing in slow-motion through the air into the deep end of the swimming pool, headphones and all.  I have never seen him move so quickly or methodically.  He scrambled with the purpose and precision of an EMT with his eyes steadied on his precious baby.  He checked the buttons, looking for a pulse... when finding nothing, he proceeded to perform CPR.  The mouth-to-earphone jack resusitation looked exactly as it would if it were an actual living thing.  He pressed his mouth to any possible opening where water could have leaked in, he sucked water out, he spat, he put his ear to it to listen, then he used his finger tips to gently press on it's little Apple chest.  He repeated this scene until I had to pull him away, and calmly explain to his that it was over.  It was too late.

He, naturally, could not accept this.  He spent days, baking it in the hot Jamaican sun, inside a bag of uncooked rice, convinced that this would create the most absorbing ecosystem in which to dry out his precious baby. He refused to even attempt to plug it in until he was sure it was thoroughly dried out, and when he finally gathered the courage to charge it up and powere it on... there was nothing but the faintest error message, and no other sign of life.

Tom wept.

That last part was a lie.  But, it was still very traumatic for him.  Almost as traumatic as having to leave Jamaica and come back to real life.

We came back to snow.  We came back to the news that Tom, sadly, did not get the job we were hoping for at RIT.  And, inexplicably, we came back to 8 different versions of why we discovered a can of pepper spray in Harper's backpack, (which got all over my face.)

It was blow after blow.  And it burned, both our hearts, and our eyes, nose and throat.

None of this would happen in Jamaica, it's true, but we also came back to a lot of good things and those, too, would not be in Jamaica.  My sweet girls, and their  almost clear  fair, fair skin... that would never survive in Jamaica.  And my darling boys... does Jamaica make high quality hearing aids to gag on?  Is Jamaican pepper spray as potent and as readily available for six year old boys as, apparently, it needs to be for my son?  I doubt it.  I don't think Jamaica has all of that to offer.

Sure, for now, Rochester is the land of gray skies and unemployment, but... it's also home.  And I have faith that God has us here for a purpose, and once I regain the use of my pepper-riddled eyes, I will be able to look around and see that my wild and crazy life, is just a different kind of paradise.

November 4, 2013


I am sitting at the airport, about to board a plane for my honeymoon. I know that makes zero sense because we have been married for ten whole years this month, but I am not making this up.

Some friends and family all pitched in to surprise us with an anniversary getaway.  Apparently the original plan was to send us away for a few days, maybe even get us some place far away enough to take a flight!  Well... Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of our wonderful friends, sisters, brothers, parents, and family, we are going to JAMAICA for a whole week!  

I mean...

A) we named our second-born Marlie, a more feminine spelling of Marley, as in Bob Marley, as in "ya mon."   So this is pretty much a dream come true.

B) we did not really have a honeymoon.  For those that don't know this already, our Annalee was born five weeks after our wedding.  (It is a little depressing when you can't travel too far for your honeymoon because you have to stay close to your gynecologist.) So, you get the point.  It was winter, I was large and in charge, and our few days in Niagara Falls... Not hot.

C) we have had a wild ten years.  Five kids - 3 horrific pregnancies, 2 emotional adoptions, we've lost loved ones, we've moved five times, bought our first home, and fought about whether or not burning said home down is really the best way to declutter.  The past year alone we have had a failed adoption placement, a successful adoption placement, many unforeseen challenges with Jay's health and development, and that seems like a good time for Tom to get laid off.

After all that, then the 31 Days of Kindness (which are wonderfully challenging, but also draining and exhausting) we are ready for a getaway.  We would NEVER, ever take a trip like this - even if Tom still had his job - but we had certainly resolved that our 10th anniversary would have to be celebrated on year eleven or twelve.  So this whole thing has totally blown us away.  

But, when the islands call, you go.

Unless you abide by Tom's traveling motto, which is more like, "When the islands call... you panic."  Or " print out TSA toiletrie guidelines, then panic."

The Lord knew that he could use a little Jamaica in his life.  And so we're off, with nothing but our bathing a suits and sunscreen (meticulously measured into 3.4 ounce increments) and I think it's gonna do us nothing but good.