I believe in family. I truly do. I believe that having a strong, close, supportive family can make all the difference in a person's life. (No, this is actually not a post about adoption. Well, not entirely :)) But sometimes...sometimes one's family just doesn't get it. (I'm talking extended family here, not mom, dad, and kids.) They don't get the way you parent. They don't get your kids and their special needs. They don't get your values and standards for life. They don't get your priorities, the way you handle your money, or the way you choose to educate your children. And that's ok, because we all do things a little differently. It doesn't mean you love each other any less, or that you are any less of a family. But still, it can make things hard at times. So when you find another family that gets it, really gets it, and you become close friends, those friends become your family too. Or, framily, for those of you who are into cell phone commercials. :)
We just spent a wonderful week with one such family. We drove for two days, about 1700 miles one way to get there, stayed for a week, then turned around and made the long trip again. And it was worth every mile, every "can I have a piece of candy/gum/snack/turn on the iPad/watch another movie?", every dirty gas station bathroom, and every fast food meal.
Between our two families, we had 7 children ages 8, 6, 6, 5, 5, 2, and 2; 5 adopted, 4 from another country, 3 deaf, 2 with CIs, and one with mild hearing loss. And wonder of wonders, it was glorious. The children all loved each other from the very first day and played together like they've known each other their whole lives. (They haven't, by the way! My three had only met two of the others via videophone, and the other two have only been home a few months so they had only seen pictures of them.) We had no major behavior issues, just normal kid stuff. It wasn't even horribly chaotic. And the best part - nobody had to interpret for anybody!!! The hearing kids could sign and communicate freely with the deaf kiddos and no one was ever left out. If you don't have a deaf child you probably will not appreciate the magnitude of this, and maybe someday I'll try and explain it to you. But I promised myself I would not rant about the need for people in our life to learn to sign, so I will leave it at that.
Some of the highlights from our week:
1. Going to an indoor playground since it was too hot to play at an outside one.
2. The kids swimming in the little backyard pool and having a total blast.
3. The oldest two going to a Rangers game with the dads.
4. Going to a splashpad and playground (with an oil derrick in the background!)
5. Meeting an Army sergeant at a restaurant. He was super nice and gave James a hat and the patches right off of his uniform. Totally made James's day. Also gave all the kids an assortment of Army recruitment items.
6. Taking Liana to the American Girl store in Dallas and seeing her giant smile the entire time we were in there.
7. Going to a park in the middle of the city and letting the kids run.
8. Staying up late every night talking after the kids (finally) went to sleep.
9. The flies. No, not the flies.
10. Just being together. And did I mention that nobody had to interpret for anybody???!!!
I would be lying if I said there wasn't a part of me that didn't want to pick up right now and move there, just for number 10 alone. I would be lying if I said we haven't talked about the possibility. Only the Lord knows if we ever will or not, but I have to say, to see my son (and the other deaf kids) being able to play with kids his age and communicate in his language...
I'm dangerously close to ranting again, so I'll leave you with some pictures of our fun!