Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Growing Up...

Luciana is 2 1/2 years old now... 2 1/2 years of stinkin' cuteness. She is a live wire, constantly talking, constantly moving, and constantly getting her cute little self into worlds of trouble! If she is not coloring on the walls and furniture, she is turning somersaults in the living room while singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider for all of our entertainment. She is such an affectionate little thing; hugging is a big deal around here! Potty training is the other big deal these days... involving many hours sitting, singing Blue's Clues, and clapping to encourage her new talent! Now that Lucy is talking (and talking, and talking, and talking), we take great joy in her adorable phrases and pronunciations. She has so many funny names for things that are so close to the real thing they just make you smile. I always say it, but I really do have to start to write some of them down. My favorite phrases currently all happen at bedtime...

L: Is it goodnight moon time, Mama?
B: Yes, it is goodnight moon time.
L: OK.
L: Goodnight moon. I love you, I do. Goodnight Mama. I love you, I do. Goodnight Daddy. I love you, I do. Goodnight Sammy. I love you, I do. (She goes on to include grandparents, friends, teachers, and stuffed animals!!! ACK! CUTE!!)

I remember when Lucy was a baby, people would always ask us if she was "that happy all the time"... and she was. Then she wasn't. We definitely went through a phase that was rather ugly with our little princess. She was a screamer... car screamer, bed screamer, dinner screamer, etc. I remember thinking how frustrated she must be to not have the words to tell us what she needed and wanted. It was so clear to us that she really understood us and the world around her, but she took awhile to be able to tell us her own thoughts. In time, the words came, and with it went the screaming... well, most of it. Sam could probably get a good shout out of her quickly! The Lucy we wake up to now is a much happier, spirited little girl, and has that same twinkle in her eye that we remember from our first moments together. She is also fiercely independent, fearless, and stubborn for sure, but more that anything, she is happy and sweet and full of an infectious love that melts our hearts daily.

Since Lucy started talking, life has been a waterfall of newness.... colors, counting, ABC's, songs, stories, pretend playing... and even the occasional "knock knock" joke she lifts from her brothers repertoire! She is a sponge and a siv all at once... absorbing everything just to turn around and share it with us. What fun! Other updates include her move to a toddler bed after too many jail breaks from the crib... our girl is a climber! She really loves her little bed, and we love our return to a full nights sleep... most nights!

Lucy provides us with daily stories of the adventures of a talking, running, giggling toddler. She has such a love of life, and we count our blessings for both of our wonderful children every day. Because blogging has taken such a back seat since returning to work (oh, and living with a 2 year old), I feel so inadequate in my attempt to summarize all the ways Lucy has grown up and all the tiny little facets that contribute to who she is in this one post. But, for now, I feel a little better that some of her flavor is recorded here... and how delicious she is!

Much love.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sweet Faces




The Sammy-Man

Oh, what an old and familiar feeling. Laptop open, GMA in the background, coffee at my side... Sam and Lucy taking in the first lazy morning of school vacation watching Mickey Mouse... ahhhhh. The temptation is to recap a million tiny moments over that last several months that I have been unable to update, but I think I'd rather just begin with the present.

I have often imagined that I have enough material on "The Things Sam Says" to write a column for some cutesy parenting magazine, but I never get too far gone that I don't remember that I am his mother and may, possibly, just maybe be a tad partial... and I'd have to be a better writer! Even still, he does say just the most hysterical and lovely things, and I have got to start writing them down more often... I could never remember each one, and the day may come that he is done sharing his wonderful imagination so openly with me. (Please, no!)

As long as I can remember, and since he could first speak in full sentences, Sam has contemplated the age old questions, "What will I be when I grow up?" It is clear to him, as it should be at the wise age of 7, that the possibilities truly are endless. In the past several months, he has pondered a undiscriminating variety of career possibilities. Last week, after drudging through a local tree farm and helping Daddy cut down the family Christmas Tree, Sam asked, "Mom, do you think I could be a tree-cutting-man when I grow up?" What is a tree-cutting-man exactly? Well, the tree-cutting-man would be the person who helps families find the perfect Christmas tree for their family, of course. Yes, Sam. I think you could be a tree-cutting-man, and I think you would be the absolute best tree-cutting-man ever! You see, it is so easy to support his dreams because he is so sincere, so dreamy, and so passionate about making this important decision... and because they never last more than a day!

Sam drives with me to school every day. We have about a 30 minute commute, which provides ample time for a second grader to ponder his potential in life. I am often thankful that Sam sits behind me and can not see my face, which is almost always in a permanent and ridiculous grin. Last week, Sam began his familiar thought process:

Mom, do you think I could be a "Music-Man" like Daddy when I grow up?
Absolutely, Sam. I think you would be an amazing "Music-Man".
Well, do you think I should play the guitar like Daddy?
If you want to, buddy. What do you think?
Well, I think I'd really like to play the piano. Or the drums.
I mean, I could decide to play the guitar, I think Daddy would like that.
And probably James will play the piano because he is on Book 2, and I am only on Book 1.
And probably Nate will play the drums because he likes to bang on things.
So, I guess I will play the guitar after all,
but I better start practicing more.
(All said in about three breaths... )

The very next day, Sam told me that he would like to be a "Forest-Man". This one was a bit involved, but I have to at least summarize. A Forest-Man is one of Sam's many philanthropic personalities. As a Forest-Man, Sam would spend his days and nights walking through the forest looking for people who do not have homes of their own. (I have no idea how thoughts like this hatch in my child's wonderful day dreams, but oh how I love him for it!) So, there he would be, wandering the forests of the world in search of people who need a warm place to live. It would be his job to help them make a home from the trees in the forest and learn how to find food to survive. The details of his Forest-Man lifestyle were so well thought out, right down to what gear he would need in his pack, to the "why" of it all. Full heart, swelling lump in my throat, I smile and nod as he plots out the details of saving the world. As I said, it may only last a day... especially if there is a Patriots game on, because he will naturally have decided to be a Quarterback-Man by morning....

...until the next day's drive to school. Which could be... the "golf-man" day? Or a day he decides he'd like to be the president-man? It might be a day he'd dream of being a "hip-hop guy", or a "fisher-man", or a "numbers-guy" like Daddy?? His fantasies range from the bottom of the ocean studying sea animals to beyond the moon naming new constellations, often finding ways to help others along the way... and I am just thank my lucky stars (maybe the one's Sam will name in my honor!) that I can tag along for the ride.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pics... for anyone who checks in on our little neglected blog!

Sweet girl. Lucy is getting so big and talking up a storm. She loves "school", her teachers and her friends... she is as happy today as the very first day we held her in our arms. Lucy is full of life and has the most lovely way of putting a smile on anyone's face.

First day of school for Beth, Sam and Luciana!
The first day is always bitter sweet, but everyone has done a great job of settling in and getting into a great routine. School has been great this year... for all of us!
Waiting for Coach Daddy and Super Star Sammy at soccer!


Up, up, up and away! Sam's 7th birthday (August) was at a rock gym. The kids had a blast!



Keith on the first day... ha, ha! We take the first day picture tradition very seriously! No one gets out of it!

Fall apple picking. Next... pumpkins! Maybe I'll get those pics up by Christmas!

Much love.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Little of This, A Little of That... Summer Moments

I have had camera sadness this summer....my "old faithful" has been unreliable, and I have not snapped as many moments this summer as I would have loved to. Luckily, my phone snaps a decent pic on occassion. I was just scrolling down the camera roll on my phone and thought it would be fun to post a medley of images from these lazy days...


Maybe "lazy days" isn't the right way to put it??
Much love!



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Many Ways We Love Our Children

Please visit these two blogs and take some time to hold your babies a little closer after you do...

The first: My FRIEND Donna... mother to two bea-u-ti-ful twin boys full of yummy deliciousness, became a family in their own heartwarming (heartbreaking at times) journey, living a life full of some of the greatest, cry-your-eyes-out-from-laughing stories... I honestly love this woman and her family, have had the honor of meeting them and knowing their hearts in person, and am so stinkin' proud of her for her most recent post that I want you all to go read it immediately... click Donna. While you are there, and after you put down the tissues, take time to read back over some of the adventures of Austin and Logan, if you can take your eyes off their gorgeous smiles long enough... I often can't! You will be so glad you did!

Second: Dawn When you read Donna's post (above link) you will know what I know of Dawn and her family and you will know what to do.... be there for them the way that we were there for each other. I am so grateful to Donna for sharing Dawn's journey with us, and after wiping away buckets of tears, I felt joyful because I (selfish, selfish) believe we are going to be able to share in a BIG JOY! I also feel we may each learn a little something from this family's strength and grace. Take a minute, meet Dawn's family, and send some blog-love! They are a remarkable family, that is already clear to me. Let's lift them up folks!

Much love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beachy Moments


Front yard fun before heading to the beach... isn't this a funny angle?!


Surf's up!  

Buried Alive!

Sleepy girl.


Loving every minute of it! This child LOVES beach days!

"The End"

We had three great days of beach outings with friends.  Sam and Luciana had a blast in the sun, sand, and waves.  Summer has found us at last!  
Love.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pee On The Potty!

This just in! Luciana went pee on the potty for the first time! She was completely unimpressed with our hoots and hollars, but we are pretty pumped anyway! Can summer vacation get any more exciting???

Would You Deny This Face a Party?


2nd Birthday

Luciana turned TWO on June 18th. Sadly, we really have not done a thing to acknowledge her birthday. We did take our trip, and that was lovely, but that was more an "Anniversary, End of School, Beginning of Summer, and OhYEAHLucyistwo" kind of all-in-one excuse to get away. Since then, a lot has happened, and here we are July. I sort of made piece with the idea that she is too little to really notice and decided to just let it be. It feels strange, but I was okay with it. Well, Sam was not... is not. He wants his baby sister to have a birthday party! It seems silly now, but I hear his point. What to do, what to do? Any thoughts out there of how to throw a "your big brother wants you to have a birthday party well after your birthday" party?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Road Trip

Here are a few images from our family trip to Rangeley Lake last week. School ended, and we loaded the wagon and headed to a lovely cabin just above the lake.... all thanks to our friends Sue and John! We swam, "hiked", poked around town, fished, did some mean paddle boating, and just enjoyed each other. Two things you need to know before viewing this slideshow... I swore off hair product and make-up while away (be warned!) and, the music for this montage was free and not my first choice for the "mood" of our trip... use your imagination!??! Enjoy! Here's to summer vacation!



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hello, hello... I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello

While in the process of bringing Luciana home over a year ago, I came to use this blog to share my heart and to sort out the blur of raw emotion that of what I thought would be the hardest thing I would ever survive. In the end, of course, we would find ourselves being reminded that everything happens for a reason, and that many of the events leading up to bringing Lucy home landed us in the middle of what would prove to one of the greatest adventures of our lives.

Since that time, I have struggled with sharing events beyond the day-to-day joys of my children and our family. And even then, for all kinds of reasons, I haven't made enough time to do much of that. In the course of this last year, our family has had a few scares, too many worries, and a huge loss. We are not alone in that, I know. It is all a part of life, and it goes without saying that these private family moments have had more joy and love than I can list sprinkled throughout.

Well, I want to get back to blogging as part of my summer morning routine... a mug of joe, a few antidotes about Peaches and Cinnamon (aka: the monkey and the goose), and reconnecting with that extended family I adore.

Funny story... I was at the supermarket with Mom a few days ago. We ran into a lovely woman Mom had once worked with. Mom introduced me, and the woman said, "Oh! This must be Peaches and Cinnamon!" Blushing more than necessary, I said that yes, that was me. She went on to tell me how several people in their office came to make it a daily ritual to read this blog and how thrilled they were when Sam and Lucy were finally home together. Oh my. Will I ever know how many people prayed, hoped, wished, or crossed all their fingers and toes for our little family?!?! Well, I felt an enormous sense of gratitude and responsibility after this brief encounter. I doubt that these same folks check back here much lately... why would they... but, some might. The least I can do is post the goofy smiling mugs of my children living their day-to-days while running me ragged! That is what we fought so hard for, isn't it?!?

So. Today marks the official, soggy, foggy, and hope-filled beginning of my summer. My greatest hope is for this summer to be all about Sam and Lucy with no need to take a blogging hiatus or guard up my heart from this journal for my children. If I am lucky, you will all become utterly sick of seeing their ear-to-ear grins smiling back at you! (hee hee) Wish me luck.

Love.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sam's First Blog Slideshow... for your viewing pleasure!
PS- You will have to press play on the first slide to view.
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Supporting the Children Left Behind: The Guatemala Six

From MAPS Worldwide:

Supporting the Children Left Behind: The Guatemala Six

When inter-country adoptions were halted in Guatemala last year, an unknown number of children were left behind in orphanages throughout the country with little hope of finding adoptive families. Most of these orphanages were funded through adoption fees and have since closed because they no longer have any source of support, leaving the children with few options for permanency.

Hogar Para Ninos Vida Nueva, an orphanage in Guatemala City, had six children in their care when their funding ceased. Now the director, Betty Morales, and two nannies are caring for these children in their own homes with no source of funding.

Without private support, the children will not be able to stay in these homes and there will be no option other than substandard government-funded orphanages where conditions are far from adequate. We need your help to ensure the future wellbeing of these children.

Monthly Needs to Support Foster Care for the GUATEMALA SIX: $2285
* Foster parent stipends
* Expenses for six children
* Milk and formula
* Doctor visits (two visits monthly to pediatric clinic)
* Medications, immunizations, and clothing
* Nutritional supplement: Pediasure (treatment for malnutrition)
* School tuition for one school-age child
* Local supervision and MAPS’ oversight of foster mothers

How to donate:

Mail your check:
MAPS400 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Designate "Guatemala Six" on the memo line

Questions:
Contact Meghan O'Brien meghano@maps-worldwide.org
phone 617-267-2222

For more information about the Guatemala Six or MAPS Wordwide: http://www.mapsadopt.org/

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wait to Worry?

Hi everyone!

For those counting... third post! I have been to the doc and back... and just waking up from my pain med-induced siesta! So, given that I am bit groggy, I will be short and sweet...

Luciana is almost 2. (HOW CAN THAT BE?!?!) Over the years of reading blogs about families with children through adoption, certain developmental delays seem to be common and not a real cause for alarm... however, I find myself in a tough spot as we creep closer to this next milestone.

Lucy is not speaking as much as the "typical" two year old should be. I know, I know... what is typical? Still, it is clear to us that she has some type of language delay. In my non-medical opinion/observation, it would seem to me that if you spend the first 8+ months of your life in a Spanish speaking country and are completely uprooted to a home where people "maybe, sort of, sometimes, but not-so-much" speak a little Spanish, but really, you are taking in an entirely new language... well, that your language should be allowed a little longer to develop, to stew in the juices and all that. I know it is all getting in there, and it is clear to me that she understands us very well... the whole comprehension bit is great. Lucy has been able to make her needs knows (has she ever!), and she responds to our requests (get your ball, where's your nose, hug mama, etc) appropriately... she just isn't talking much. (Perhaps I talk enough for both of us!) At times, she does show frustration when she wants to tell us something and doesn't have the words... those times are hard for all of us.

So, here's what she can do... she says a lot of the expected stuff... mama, dada, brother, papa, mimi, nana, ball, baby, up, done, hi, bye, baby, woof, meow, my, ELMO, and some others... and often she has phrases that we understand... thank you, milk please, more please, "teese"... and she babbles from sunup to sundown, as well as "sings", yells, grunts and groans, and sometimes signs to make her point. Soooooooooooo, is that enough for now? Or, do we call Early Intervention while she is still young enough to qualify and request services? I hate to miss the boat on one hand, but I try not to borrow trouble when it's really not necessary. Her pediatrician has said that he is not worried.... that was several months ago. I trust him, but I also know that he does not have a child adopted from another country, nor do (I imagine) most of his clients. So, that's where I reach out to you all...

I feel like I have read a similar post on many of your blogs... and it usually said something like, "He wasn't talking very much before his 2nd birthday, and now we can't get him to STOP!" ha ha! But, if anyone is reading something here that is more of a red flag, I would truly appreciate the advice. Her two year check-up is in a couple of months, so I have that to look forward to, but I do know that if I want to refer her for support, it takes time and is better to start sooner than later. So Moms, Dads, friends.... what do you think? Provide my sweetie with some therapy, or grab a life jacket and wait for the floodgates to open!?!?

Much love.

Monkey See...

Luciana worships her big brother! She squeals when he comes into a room... she throws her arms wide open and runs as fast as her little legs will take her to wrap her arms around him. Sam? Eats it up! Getting a pic of these two together, however, falls somewhere close to qualifying for an Olympic event! I happened upon this game of Monkey See, Monkey Do in the toy room and quickly snagged a couple blurry shots while our very active toddler was as close to "still" as she I have seen her since she took those first steps!

Look at the love in her face!
"TEESE!" (Oh, and check out Sam's teeth!)
Awwwwwwwwww. . .
I am a very lucky Mama.
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All Smiles

This would prove to be the last pic of Sam's smile with his two front teeth!


The very next day, one tooth fell out at school! So, that night, naturally, the Tooth Fairy came. The very next night, the Easter Bunny came! And one week to the day, the Tooth Fairy was back again for that second front tooth! Our house is has been very busy while we have been sleeping! I knew I needed to snap this pic quickly! There is something about those two front teeth that changes the way our babies look... growing up, like it or not!
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What? She's Posting!??!

Hi all! Still here...

Here's the long and short of it... I have two kids, a husband, family and friends I like to occasionally connect with (like each of you!), I work full time, commute 45 minutes-1 hour (depending), feed people (usually just the ones I live with), eat (clearly too much), bathe people (mainly my children), put those same people to bed (sigh), and CRASH... and, of course, I love every minute of it!! Still, I want to post updates and reclaim "blogging" to my daily itinerary, I really do. I want to be a part of this community who were my lifeline for oh-so long, who saw me through the mania of my existence, who became my family, whose families I came to love... I want to get all this garble that rambles around in my head on a daily basis down here for those of you crazy and kind enough to read along, I want to brag on my kids and my family, I want to upload oodles of snapshots of their gorgeous, sweet mugs and log on to read your comments about their endless cuteness, and antics, and those darndest things they say... I want to spend my morning coffee reading about your day-to-days with your children and your families and your stories of all things parenthood... I want to be with YOU! So, here is my thought... will you join me in my quest to add an hour to the day? What do we need? A petition? I just need one more hour... don't you? With all the new technology to keep up with, with all the ways we feel so pulled to be in touch with our friends in the cyber-world, couldn't you use just one more hour for you FB friends, for you My Space page, to Twit or Tweet, to BLOG, to text, to email.... just one more hour... is it too much to ask?

So, I'm home.... no kids. Never...but today I am. And, I will be again tomorrow for a bit... so, if you are one of the few remaining faithful followers who check in on us from time to time... tell me how to use my gift of an hour tomorrow...

Full blown update on the kids? Pics? Or perhaps I will outline my concerns about my almost two year old and her delayed speech... worry, don't worry? Where do we go? Maybe a little of all of it? Tomorrow... meet me here... I plan to come around to you, too!

Still... and always... much love.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Forever Family Day

February 29th (yes, leap year!) 2008... together forever.

Take a look back at the emotion: Daddy Is Here!

The very next day, we woke up in the pink apartment in Antigua, together as a family of four for the very first time! As I sit here next to Luciana this morning while she "colors" and plays with Play-Doh babbling on about one of her latest adventures, I am taking in all the memories of those first moments when we found our way into this new family of four. Albums out, old blog posts to sniffle over, I am feeling that familiar feeling of gratitude for all that life has blessed me with.

No big plans today. Keith and Sam are skiing, Lucy and I will likely take a long walk before yet another storm heads our way. My folks will be coming for dinner, and I imagine we will raise a glass to commemorate the day. In the meantime, I am strolling back in time, cup of coffee and a sweet girl by my side.

March 1. 2008: So Happy Together

March 2008 was an unforgettable month in the timeline of our families milestones. I have gone back to look at all the posts from February and March and have to remind myself that I am reading about my own life and not a strangers! I am proud of who we were one year ago, and I am relieved to be home where life is exciting for all it's regular, everyday, ordinary adventures!

Much love.




PS- It seems like "going private/password protecting" is on the back burner for the moment... thanks for the support. I have all my contacts tucked away safely if the need arises. Until then, Peach and Cin are staying put. Thanks!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Special Visit

Enjoy a few snapshots of our memorable weekend with Bobbi, Steph, and Donna's families!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Special Friends

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By the way... tomorrow: FOREVER FAMILY Anniversary!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Coming Together

This weekend, after more than a year of support, laughter, tears, and long-distant friendship, "Peaches & Cinnamon" will FINALLY meet Little Pea!! And the very next day... Party of 5 and Heart's Journey will ALL be at my house celebrating a grand "Feb-guate-rary" OR "Guate-urary" OR... okay, okay... I give up on the clever name... they are coming!!!  

I am so excited to finally meet, Donna and Steph with Bobbi this weekend.... going through the journey to Guate and back to complete our families would have been that much harder without the support of women like these ladies!  SO, think of this weekend... four families, totaling 8 kids and 8 adults, all coming together to celebrate friendships made along the way.  

Stay tuned for pics!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Impossible

It just does not seem possible that on this day last year I was packing last minute things, checking and double checking flights, itineraries, and passports, and getting ready to somehow say good-bye to Keith all the while trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach preparing to be reunited forever with my sweet baby girl.

One year ago tomorrow is playing over and over in my mind like an old family movie... I can see each moment... Sam and I grabbing hands, Mom and I wiping away tears of anticipation, walking off an elevator in a strange land straight into an embrace I will never forget.

Tomorrow?!? How is it possible?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Done!


Luciana and Sam getting ready to head to the courthouse.


Happy moment after the proceedings.


Sam proudly holding the paperwork that officially recognizes Luciana's
adoption here in the states and has her new LEGAL name!


Order in the court!

So, in this mostly ceremonial (though still emotional) step, we celebrate the finalization of all the legal details that put on paper what we have always known in our hearts. Luciana is Luciana legally, and she is ours... all ours! We were joined by my Mom and Dad, and Luciana's Godmother, Barbara, and Sam's buddy, James! It was great to have their support and even more fun to celebrate with them after the proceedings! While in the courtroom, and in true Lucy fashion, my little nap-deprived toddler ran in circles
charming the robe right off the judge! She was a riot!

Today was special, but I am also glad it is done. I feel like I took that final deep breath. Like any milestone in Luciana's life, I have had Lucy's birthmother and foster mother in my heart. I pray they know how loved this sweet girl really is.

I am going to leave the final thought for this post to Sam... as we were driving away from the courthouse, he broke our reflective silence with, "Well, Mom. We did it." Yes, buddy, we sure did.

Much love.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

High School Half-Time Show

Checking out the H.S. trophies. Just 7 short years away...

Routing for GHS!

The Big Finale!

PS- Will make the move to private in about a week, so please get me your email if you want to keep up with the journey.
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Our own little Captain Sully!
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Monday, January 19, 2009

One Final Step

We are quickly approaching several anniversaries, so it seems even more timely and fitting that we will complete the final step in Luciana's adoption in just a few weeks. We will appear in court of February 4th to appear for what many refer to a "re-adoption". It will be the legal process of completing Luciana's adoption in the respect that her name will legally be changed and a new birth certificate will be issued with that beautiful name. It's a big deal, and we are pumped for it!

Then, that's that. No more home studies, no more documents, no more notarizing... just our messy, noisy, full of love and laughter little life. Cheers to that!

PS- Getting ready to go private due to some advice from bloggers... if you'd like to keep up with the kids, please send your email address and I'll send details. I'll delete addresses from comments as soon as I reply. Sorry... but it does seem like it's time. This blog has seen us through an amazing journey, and now I want to tuck it away safely. I will probably use it more to update pics of the kids after we come through our anniversary posts. Thanks for all the support.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Look Back...

I had to step over 3 dolls and around a life size doll house, past a toddling beauty, and through a trail of toys to sneak off to my laptop tonight... how great is that?!?!

I had this pull to peek back at "this time last year", knowing it would stir up all kinds of emotions and memories... and it did, but looking back is soooooo good for me. I can't explain it, except that I can remember writing many of those posts last year through a haze of tears, and when I read them now, my cheeks hurt from smiling because it was all worth it.

So, with that said, and with a little wild woman waiting in the next room, I am signing off... leaving you with a linkback to January 2008 if you want to remember, too. Remember, start at the bottom... oh, blogger!

Much love!