Friday, November 30, 2012

Dear Brit

It's been a tough week for me.  I have found myself in tears many days this week missing you fiercely.  We sure wish we could hear the sound of your voice or watch you play in the yard.  Your brothers and I have talked about you several times this week.  I am glad that you are part of the conversations at our house.  We got an email update at the beginning of the week with two new pictures.  Your hair is a very common topic of conversation.  It makes us laugh every time we see it.  You are so stinkin' cute!

Last night while sitting at LanMan's basketball game (just for the record, he is a fantastic basketball player) I was sitting with nana, BF's mom.  I was telling her about something that had happened that day as it related to you.  I can't tell you exactly what it was, but someday I will be able to tell you what a small world it is, especially when it comes to you.  Suffice it to say that people I know see you all the time and will tell me about you and how they see you from time to time.

Anyway, as nana and I were talking she looked at me and said, "I sure thought you were going to be able to have more involvement in Brit's life."  I shook my head and told her we thought so too.

I just want you to know, that we ALL love you very much, and we are counting down the days until your parents decide that we can be allowed more of a relationship with you.  Until then, please know that you were never more than a moment's thought away from all of our minds.

We love you so much!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Loving more than one...

Thank you Kelsey Stewart for posting this on FB today.  So very true...

The sweetest comment ever

Those who are friends with me in real life know that the last couple of days have been really hard.  Lots of tears and grief.  Yesterday even culminated in a marathon counseling session.

This morning I sat down at my computer, with puffy swollen eyes from crying myself to sleep last night, and was drinking in all of the kind comments you all have left over the past couple of days.  I am so thankful for each of you and your tender support of me.  Your kind words are the salve to my broken heart.  Each comment means so much.

But this morning there was one comment that really touched my heart, more so than usual. 

It comes from a commentor that I have never met in real life.  She lives thousands of miles from me and has absolutely no connection to adoption.  She is a mom of two young children and somehow happened upon my blog.  She has been a faithful reader ever since.  We have even become FB friends and I love being able to watch her life through her blog and her FB page.  She is the sweetest, most tender hearted person.  I wish she lived closer so we could be IRL friends! I know she prays for me all the time, and there is nothing more touching than to know that someone cares enough to lift my worries up to God.  That alone shows such character as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, here are the sweet words she left this morning...

As I was praying this morning for your family, I thought to myself, as I often do, "Gosh, I really hope that I'm friends with Lisa forever, because I can't wait to be a part of the day that Brit is reunited, forever (not just once a year) with her family!" What a joyous, beautiful day it will be! And although none of us know when it will be, just know that I'm certain it will happen, and she will know how much you all love her!!! :)

Love and prayers,
Melt my heart.  Yes, Christina, I hope we are friends forever but I hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dear Brit

Just wanted to write you a quick letter to know how you were a part of our family Thanksgiving, even though you weren't actually present.

I was way ahead this year when it came to Christmas cards and I brought a Christmas card for all of our family members to our family Thanksgiving dinner.  Inside the cards for your grandparents, I had our card with pictures of all the boys and I also included a precious photo of you for each of them.  They loved it! 

We all stood around the kitchen table and talked about how much you look like BF and me.  Your eyes, your hair, your smile.  You are the spitting image of both of us.  Both of your grandmothers studied your face and talked about all the ways that they could see the similarities to our families.

I also brought some extra pictures of you that we laid on the table that we all looked at from time to time.  Even the cousins and your brothers would pick up the photos and talk about how adorable you are.  We all think you are pretty amazing.

We wish that you could know all of us.  And we are holding out hope that someday your parents will allow you to know us.  But just because you don't get to come and spend time with us doesn't mean that we don't talk about you all the time.  We have your pictures everywhere and we let people who visit our house know that the beautiful girl in the photo on our end table is you, our precious daughter.

You are very special to us and we love you very much.  And this Thanksgiving we are thankful for you.  And we continue to hope and pray that soon you will know us too.

We love you so very much and we continue to hold out hope that we will be allowed a relationship with you soon!


Lisa, BF and all of your extended family

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Do the right thing when nobody's looking

I just picked up a pizza at our local pizza place.  You wouldn't think that would trigger an adoption related memory, but let's get real, anything can trigger a memory.  And here is what did it.

As I was standing at the carryout counter, I looked up and above the door to the manager's office, and in plain sight for those making pizzas there was a large sign that said "Do what is right when nobody's looking."

Such a great saying.  I love that the national pizza chain I was patronizing had those words posted in their place of business and I also liked that I could see it while standing there as a customer.  It reiterates what we know as the definition of character as stated by many including Mr. J.C Watts: "Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking."

A little back story for this post, it is important to know that I have been thinking for a couple of weeks about whether or not to post about the following story.  Up until today (actually until I saw the sign) I felt like I would continue to hold the story close to my chest.  It was just very personal to me.

You see, after my interview for the Open Adoption Bloggers project, a reader posted the following question to me on my blog.

Just read the interview you gave on the other side. Made me wonder...and I know I am probably asking an impossible question: When you look back now, are you able to identify any moments where you had a gut feeling that the A-parents would not continue in a fully open manner with you? Do you think it is possible to warn other potential birth mothers of certain behaviors, etc.? Or do you think there is no way to know in advance?
I know in my story--as lies and manipulation became clear to me (the attorney), I am able to look back and I know that I FELT she was untrustworthy--though I denied my intuition, obviously. I couldn't make an exact case for it, but I just felt it in my heart that I should not trust this person.
Just wondering if you are now able to identify any doubts you may have had prior--or if you felt totally secure.

My short answer to her would be this, I did not have any serious doubts in advance.  I felt a little twinge of insecurity when I mentioned the family bbq idea sometime that summer and they said nothing in return.  But I attributed that to us just not knowing what our relationship would look like.  I am certain that I was so convinced that what we were doing was the very best for this little girl that I was blinded by my good intentions to recognize any warning signs.  And let's be honest, we were all on our best behavior in our relationship at that time.  They would have never done or said anything to jeopardize their potential adoption at that point.  So to answer your question Jennifer, it's hard to tell how things are REALLY going to be when everyone is walking on eggshells, making sure they do not offend.

Now that I just typed that, I also remember one other thing that was just a little thing at the time, but should have been a big indicator.  I tried to friend the adoptive mom on FB after we had met and decided that they would be the parents of our child.  She declined my friend request.  I re-requested again later, also being declined.  Again, I attributed that to wanting to keep her personal life private, thinking that she was probably posting about how excited they were to be chosen to adopt.  I never asked her about it.  I probably should have...

So, that being said, what HAS happened since the adoption that significantly made me contemplate my relationship with Brit's adoptive parents is something that just happened a couple of months ago.  I did not post about it at the time, because I thought it would make me sound vindictive or whiny since I have been told that Brit's parents read my blog.  But now that the question has been posed and I just read the strange sign that speaks directly to this situation, I have decided that I will relay the story, because it was a very profound moment for me (and BF).

I needed to pick up something in my office one Saturday morning.  I work in an office located behind the door of a large community fitness center.  So when I walk from my office down to the main office of the building, I walk through the fitness center.  That Saturday morning I was distracted as I walked through the fitness center, with my head down looking at my phone. I don't even remember making eye contact with anyone working out.

I walked down the stairs in into the main office which was dark (because it was not a normal work day).  I stood behind the desk and continued to try to read a text message on my phone.  Now mind you, I am standing in the dark (not easily visible to a passerby), but I can see out past the front office counter which just had a pull down gate (similar to what you would see in a mall when a store is closed).

I happened to look up, and low and behold, who was coming down the stairs from the fitness center but Brit's adoptive dad.  However, he was not just walking down the stairs, he was sneaking down the stairs.  Looking left and right like a panicked man.  He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and peeked around the corner to make sure no one was there and he BOOKED it out the front door.  You would have sworn he saw a ghost, or maybe a hit man.  Either way, he was on the run, and it was obvious.  His workout had been cut short and he needed to get the heck out of there.

Yes, Brit's dad was running from me.  That panicked look on his face was because he was afraid I might have seen him lifting weights in the fitness center and I might possibly come back and talk to him.

It took me a minute to fully process what had just happened.

The man who I trusted to adopt my daughter was doing everything in his power to avoid me.

I had a few of reactions all within a matter of seconds.  The first was to be horrified.  The second was to cry at the betrayal. The third was to chase after him and REALLY make him uncomfortable.  But I went with my final, most reasonable reaction and I called BF.

As I relayed the story to BF, I actually started to chuckle.  It was just so preposterous to me that this physically huge man was terrified of a 5' 5" woman who didn't really even know he was there.  I can't remember the exact words I used with BF, but I know his response to me was along the lines of he was glad that Brit's dad reacted like that, because at least it acknowledges that he must recognize that they way they treat us is not OK and engaging in conversation with me is probably a very horrifying thought.

But COME ON, what did he think I was going to do in a public place like a community fitness center?  Especially the place I WORK?  Was he afraid I would create a scene? (I never have.)  Was he afraid I might bring up anything personal about our relationship? (I never have any other time we have crossed paths at the grocery store.)  Every interaction he has ever had with me in public has been cool and non-threatening.  I don't cry, or focus on Brit.  I simply ask him how their family is doing and I share what we have been up to.  Nothing different than I would say to any other acquaintance I might run into at the same store.

That moment made a huge impact on me.  It spoke volumes about how Brit's parents perceive us.  We are a threat.  And we are to be avoided at all costs.

Makes you wonder what will happen someday when they are walking down the grocery aisle with Brit and they spot us on the other end.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Open Adoption Interview Project 2012

I know it is silly, but I love the Open Adoption Blogger Interview Project.  The ability to connect with another person who is intimately involved in the adoption world, and specifically open adoption, makes me nearly giddy with excitement.

I just love getting to know new people and this year was no exception.  Traathy at Happily Ever After has been a complete delight getting to know.  She gets open adoption.  Totally gets it.

Traathy is the adoptive mom to a 9 month old little girl who was adopted at birth.  Traathy and her daughter's birth mother have an exceptionally open adoption.  They talk regularly, share meals together and have even attended family events together.  They treat each other as extended family.

I wish that Canada and the US Midwest weren't so far apart because I want to hang out with Traathy in real life!  If you would like to see my interview responses to Traathy they can be found here.

Sit back with a cold drink, because Traathy and I had lots of questions for each other.

1.       Your perspective on being pregnant and having a child seems a bit atypical compared to other bloggers who talk about the yearning to have a biological child and the lifelong struggle to suppress those feelings and just enjoy their path to becoming a parent through adoption.  You almost seem to hold a grudge toward being pregnant since it never resulted in a viable pregnancy for you.  Is that an accurate assessment?  Do you think that someday you might change your stance find yourself dealing with the ugliness of infertility again, or do you think you have processed that and have moved on?

It's totally an accurate assessment.  I'll be brutally honest - I hated everything about being pregnant and still have feelings that somehow I caused everything to go wrong with Jacob because of the lack of respect I had for being pregnant.  I was one of those "all my friends are having babies so it looks like I'm up next" girls.  It sounds trite and probably is.  Truth is, once she died, it was this psychotic race in my head to try to get pregnant again and I truly didn't grieve for her until almost a year later - once we began the adoption process and three additional shitty miscarriages later.  You see, starting the process for adopting was like such a lightbulb.  We were never going to have a biological baby in the traditional way in first place and to this day I can't believe everything we went through to get right back to where we started almost two years earlier.  New readers can read about that here: 

It sounds like bs, but I always was ok with never being a biological mom because of the circumstances of how my husband and I started dating.  However, having gotten to 22 weeks with her and never feeling her kick is something that makes me catch my breath and tear up.  When I see pregnant bellies, that's what I wonder about...what does that feel like?

We'll never try again.  About a year ago we wound out that apparently I'm in Peri-Menapause.  Sorta a joke finding out that four pregnancies later.  A) I wouldn't dare fuck with our DNA baby genes again and B) I'm finally happy.  Truly and completely :)

2.       You have the kind of open adoption that my heart desires.  You obviously embraced the concept that there cannot be too many people who love your child and who can be involved in her life.  It is also obvious that your family does not have this same philosophy of open adoption.  As far as I can tell from your blog you have lived that kind of openness from the beginning.  Most people I have come to know have grown into their open relationships over time.  You are already living complete openness and your child isn’t even a year old.  How did you come to this belief system? 

Both feet in.  I honestly believe when we said we were "open" it was because we honestly could not fathom ever dealing with anything as horrible as what we had already been through.  We both said if we do this (adopting) we do EVERYTHING for this baby to be happy, healthy, and loved by all.  No matter what the circumstances of her history is.  Still holds true.  I know I'm going to open a can of worms with this statement but I truly believe there is a huge difference between parents who adopt who've been through infertility and those who have been through infant loss and death & miscarriages.

I knew first hand what it felt like to walk out of the hospital without my baby (boobs leaking milk and nobody to feed).  I knew that emotional pain.  I am in no way comparing the loss to be the same but I knew that feeling.  I have a respect for our birthmom to the sky and back.  She gave me a life to care for.   I'll give her whatever she needs to be secure in that decision forever.   No matter how many times I have to clean my floors before she comes over ;)

3.       What do you envision the relationship between Lil K and her sister O looking like over time?

They are so cute together right now.  O is four and such a sweetie.  Since finding out Lil K was her sister she's soooooo protective of her.  We were out to lunch a few weeks back and she would NOT let anyone else hold her!!  "She's my sister" she kept saying :)  

I think because of proximity and the fact that we see each other about once a month they'll probably grow up like cousins (or so I hope).  Lise's little sister is 20 and has a year and a half year old daughter who is so close in age with Lil K that they will probably have more of a cousin relationship until thy can start building relationships on their own.  Lise's eldest brother and his wife are due soon with their first child so Lil K will have cousins all around.  That makes me the happiest.  I can't give her that.  But she has it so long as I work hard to build those relationships.  

4.       What do you call Lise when you refer to her to Lil K?  How would you feel if at age 8 Lil K decided to start calling Lise by a different name, such as Mama Lise?  Does Lise refer to Lil K as her daughter?  If not, would it be hard for you if she did?

I call her Lise and when I talk to Lil K about her birth family I use all other normal family language.  Grandpa B, Grandma B! Auntie, uncle etc....that's what they are.

Although, I overheard Lise mention that she told a friend of hers that Lil K was her niece when asked about a picture on FB. I mentioned in my last blog post, I have a feeling things will change over time and I've just got to be open to how it plays out.  I'll always be honest with Lil K but if Lise is comfortable calling herself her aunt right now in public, it's ok.  Time changes perspective. We'll get more comfortable as we go. 

5.       Does Lise know about your blog? 

Nope. Never felt the need to share that.  It's my story from my perspective.  I don't have anything to hide or feel I've been hurtful so I don't think it'd be an issue's my space.  Same with my FB, sometimes I like being an ass and as such I don't have my mom on FB either ;)

6.       Assuming that Lise continues to be a positive influence in the life of your daughter, do you think that you would continue to maintain and help Lil K cultivate a relationship with Lise even if she becomes a moody teenager who decides she doesn’t want to have a relationship with her birthfamily?  And what if Lise’s life completely falls apart and she is NOT a positive role model for Lil K, how do you think you would handle that?

I can't predict the future but this I know....Lil K's birth family rocks!!!!! I freaking love them.  After our first family dinner with them we left and we like "why couldn’t we have them as family a long time ago!!!"

So regardless, they are family will be there even if I have to strap a whining teenager in the car. 

If Lise's life fell apart, I'd hope to be there like any family member to help as I could.  Like any parent though, when it comes to your kids you protect them.  The benefit to embracing Lise's ENTIRE family is that we are all there for her together.  So positive or not, you deal with what life throws at you.  Case and point, my husband’s sister is a drug addict.  She's using again and I told her flat out that once she cleans herself up I'd be happy to have her over to see Lil K.  Until then, no way.  You gotta draw the line somewhere and harm to self and others is a deal breaker for me. 

7.       One of my favorite parts about your blog is that you talk about how relationships are hard.  And even when they are hard, you push through.  You don’t pull back, instead you seem to push forward and figure it out.  Many adoptive parents don’t seem to have that philosophy.  I know as a birthmother I worry about saying the wrong thing or asking for anything because I fear that I will cause them to further restrict my access to our daughter.  I worry that if we don’t see eye to eye about our relationship that they will say this is too hard and close it down completely.  I have seen that happen all too often, as a matter of fact just last week one of my closest birthmother friends had her open adoption close because the adoptive parents didn’t like that their son’s birthmother has become an advocate for adoption reform (they see this as anti-adoption and feel like it is detrimental to their child – who I might add is only 2 and has no clue!).  So this questions is much like the question about your philosophy of complete openness in adoption, but what makes you push through when things are hard or awkward?  What if Lise says something that hurts you?

I know hands down from logic, emotion, to just a plain gut feeling - there is nothing I won't do for my baby.   I push because it is the right thing to do.  I push because I know Lise is so unbelievably shy.  I push because that girl with no self confidence, relying on men to fill the void was me.  Back then, I would have given anything for somebody to care.  Lise has already pushed some buttons of mine.  I'm honest to a fault.  Just tell me the truth and it is ok.  She's lying about the circumstances of her pregnancy and who the father is.  Either to me or her family.  I don't know who.  It bugs the crap out of me that I am now doubting her but like I wrote about recently, that is her story.  I have to accept it and move on with the positive.  Shit happens, people piss me, but I know what is important at the end of the day.  Family.  As ridiculous as they are and trust me - we've got more crazy on our side any day if the week ;)

8.       Do you have any boundaries that you and your husband have determined as non-negotiable with relation to your adoption?

No harm to self or others.   That's it.  

9.       WHY IN THE WORLD DO YOU STILL WORRY ABOUT WHETHER YOUR HOUSE IS SPOTLESS WHEN LISE COMES OVER?!?!?!? Lol  I think it is absolutely a testament to your character that it still matters to you how Lise perceives you. 

She's new!!!!  I do the same for one of my crazy sister in law from out of town. New family.  She can inhale the dog hair a few years down the road ;) 

10. I don’t know what real question I have here, but I suppose this is more of a compare and contrast.

By far my favorite post that I have read from your blog is the one about your public speaking debut
 I fell head over heels in love with you at that moment when you said this…

 “At one point a woman in the audience asked the first couple when they felt comfortable allowing the birth family into their house.

The couple answered with “Oh god no.  We don’t do that”.

Open adoption my ass.

This is after they originally told the audience how they felt that their birth families (they have 2 adopted children) were like family to them and that they would do anything for them.

 Except open their front door.

*** I feel the need to note, I realize I’m being judgmental and that every adoptive situation is different, but I was so upset that the audience seemed relieved to know that they didn’t have to open their doors to birth families.  And, you don’t, but god, I wanted them to know that it is OKAY!!!!!

 They explained that their openness agreement stated that they were to do monthly updates, send pictures on a certain date, and meet once a month at a predetermined location and that everyone was happy with that.”

Just yesterday I read an article that was very similar to this.  Like you, I wanted to scream at the computer screen and find this author and shake her until she came to her senses (probably not a politically correct thing to do, but for Pete’s sake, THIS IS WHY ADOPTIVE PARENTS BELIEVE WHAT THEY BELIEVE!)

How can we get people to understand that open adoption is not about the ADULTS feeling comfortable?  But open adoption is about giving our children every possible resource to be happy, healthy and well adjusted, even if that includes welcoming another family into your life.
 I am frightened by what most some agencies tell potential adoptive couples.  It seems to be all about creating happy clients, not necessarily about doing what is right for CHILDREN.

What is your perspective on this?  Do you think it is possible to change an entire society’s perception about open adoption if we can’t even influence our own families and friends?

This is a tough one.  The thing is our agency here in Vancouver told us up front the massive benefits of what an open adoption can create for all involved.  It was intimidating at first because it was all literature that I read at first.  No "real life" experiences.  It wasn't until I started searching for stories online that I discovered what open adoption (NOT semi) meant.  I know it's a small step but I really feel like there is a different mindset in Canada towards open adoption.  It is VERY common and the language is used all the time.  The reason I am able to compare is because we were also considering adopting from the states (thinking that it would take less time) and not ONCE did the lawyer we spoke with mention open adoption. He talked a lot about the counseling his people encouraged birth mothers to seek but never mentioned what relationship could exist beyond knowledge of who we were.  I know that's only two examples but from what I've read there seems to be a lack of educating adoptive parents about what openness really can mean.  Most people (and I admit we too were scared) jump to the negative and can't focus on what openness really means for the child.  You are absolutely right, it is about the comfort of the child not the adoptive parents.  There really does need to be mandatory counseling for all adoptive parents so a realistic portrayal can be made of what relationships can exist when the benefit of the child comes first.  

When I spoke at our adoptive parent panel I made that very clear.  I truly think all potential adoptive parents need to experience speaking with other adoptive parents as part of their home study process. I'd also be so important for their close family to be involved.  God, I wish I had brought my mom to the panels I went to.  At least she would save been exposed to the differences of all areas of adoption so she wouldn't have such a hard time with us being so familial with our birth family. It really is such an impact on all family involved so why not make one of the home study visits to include other members as a discussion or q&a night?  A thought...

Society as a whole...I don't know.  When you've got so many celebrities coming home with babies who have no history (that is described) I don't know how we can change the perception that open adoption can not only benefit everyone but that it can be as wonderful as adding so much more love to your family.  It's hard and I can only hope these sorts of blog days get passed on to mainstream media to spotlight. 

Or you know, maybe one day Angelina can do an exclusive about one of her adoptive children's birth mothers - you know that'll cause a flurry of media attention ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Just to make you laugh

This is random and without purpose.  But I love this picture that we took while in California a couple of weeks ago.  Our expressions are priceless.  And for those who wondered, the trash bag rain poncho did nothing to protect me from the water splash that the front person gets.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The benefit of being a mom

Today I voted, which I do every time there is an election.

But before I headed to my polling place, I walked over to D's school (he is in 6th grade) and visited him during his lunch hour.  At first he was excited to see me because he thought I was taking him to lunch.  When I told him that I was just going to sit with him while he ate lunch he looked at me horrified and asked "Why?.."

I told him I thought it would be good to meet the friends he eats lunch with and just spend some time with him.  He made it very clear that he was NOT pleased with this idea.

So as we stood in the lunch line for his tray he said to me "Mom, go sit down.  You don't have to stand next to me!"

I looked at him and said "If you keep it up, I'm going to lean over, wrap my arms around you and kiss you on the lips right here in front of everyone in this lunch room!"

Mom and D last year at lunch
(this was tolerable in elementary school -
not so much in middle school!)
His little buddy behind him looked at D and said "Don't worry D, my mom embarrasses me too.  The other day she came to school and yelled down the hallway I LOVE YOU!"

Yep, that is one of the privileges of being the mom.  Our job description includes embarrassing our children in front of their friends.

It made me smile.  And yes, I think I will go back once a week from now on!

Dear Brit

Dear Brit,

I vaguely remember last year at this time and how very difficult it was to celebrate Halloween without knowing anything about you and what you were doing that day.  Halloween is definitely a holiday for young children so it is a time when we naturally wish we could see you and see the joy you must have during such a fun holiday for kids.

Both last year and this year, as I stood at the door and watched other toddlers walk up and say "Trick or Treat" I wondered what Halloween was like for you.  I wondered what costume you were wearing and how you reacted when you realized you had a bag full of chocolate.  I bet you were delighted.

In our email response back to your parents a couple of days before Halloween I asked your dad  if he might send us a picture or two of you in your Halloween costume.  I kinda hoped he might send one on Halloween so we could enjoy seeing you all dressed up.  So far we haven't gotten one, but maybe he will include a picture with the November email update.

I want you to know how often we talk about you at our house.  I know I have told you before that we keep pictures of you up in the living room.  But we also say your name often.

A funny thing happened just this Sunday that brought a huge smile to my face.

A few weeks ago we put together gift bags for you and your brother and sister.  In them we put fall themed toys, coloring books, DVDs of your favorite show Oomi Zoomi, dress up clothes and masks, and even some snacks.  One of the gifts we put in the bag was a simple little jack o lantern cup.  We put a cup for each of you in your individual bags.  But the package of the cups had 4.  So we kept one cup at our house.

As I put the cup in our cupboard, I said to your brothers L and D that when they drank out of that cup they could remember you.  I said it in passing, and didn't make a big deal of it.  Honestly I wasn't even sure they heard me.

But on Sunday, L was getting water out of the refrigerator while I was in the laundry room getting clothes out of the dryer.  And out of no where he said your name.  Just your name.  Nothing else.  I stopped what I was doing and peeked my head around the corner and asked him what he just said.  He looked at me and held up the cup and said "Brit" and he smiled from ear to ear.

It made me smile too.

We all love you very much and miss you.  We can't wait until we have a personal relationship with you.  Each day that passes gets us closer to that day we hope.