A Family Update

For those following along, here’s a quick update of our lives right now.

  • Nathan will turn THREE next month!  THREE.  Crazy.  He’s super smart (and I’m not just biased).  He recognizes all of his letters and knows most of their sounds.  He can count to 16 (sometimes he confuses 13 and 14).  His vocabulary compares to a 4 or 5 year old and he speaks in complete sentences very clearly.  He’s pretty much potty trained during the day and is learning how to swim.
  • Alex is almost 17 months old and is very smart as well.  (Again, I’m not just biased.)  She can say at least 30 words already and understands many more.  She’s our monkey and is determined to do anything her brother does.  Except swim.  She doesn’t like any water except the water in our baby pool or a puddle in the yard.  We call her our “itty bitty” because she’s so small.  About 21 pounds right now, but very healthy.
  • Craig is working hard, as always, to not only support our family but to save for our adoption.  He’s pretty much amazing.
  • I’m still doing the crafting thing.  Mostly painting right now, which I love.  I’ll post some pictures of my recent stuff soon.
  • We’re back on the fitness bandwagon and ready to be healthy for life!  We’ve been doing pretty well for the last year, but can always do better.  I’m starting some crossfit exercises at home with a friend.  We’re training to one day compete!  I’m probably more excited about it than I should be.  🙂
  • We’re also narrowing down adoption locations.  I think we’ll come to a decision within the next week or two.  We’ll let you know!
  • We have about HALF of the funds needed to adopt.  And we haven’t officially started the paperwork!  God is amazing.

I think that’s all the big stuff.  Now you’re all caught up.  Did you even know you were behind?

To The Best Mom

December 25, 2011.  For those who don’t know, that’s the day I almost lost my mom.  I got the call from my Dad on Christmas morning that my mom was at the hospital and that she had a heart attack.  Scariest words ever.  I was told she was stable and that she would be fine.  But you know, when you hear the words “heart attack” in relation to someone you love, “fine” doesn’t ease your mind.  I was able to visit her in ICU later that day.  That’s the first time in my entire life that I was stronger than her. The first time she couldn’t take care of me while I was hurting and scared.   I didn’t sleep well that night.  I laid awake wondering what in the world I would do without her if she was to leave us.  What my Dad would do without her if she was to leave us.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to answer that question.  She’s doing great now.  But only by the grace of God.  My parents told me several weeks following the heart attack that had she been 5 minutes later to the hospital, she wouldn’t have made it.   I think God must have known that while she would have been SO HAPPY in heaven by His side, something inside me would have died.   I wasn’t ready to give her up.

When I was little she cleaned up my puke, held me when I cried, cried for me when I made mistakes, prayed over me constantly, and never gave me reason to doubt her love and support of me.  Now that I’m older she brings be dinner when things are busy, takes care of the kids when I’m sick (even if it means she gets sick because of it), and still prays for me daily.  She makes random trips to Walmart and Lowes with me and helps me plant vegetable “gardens”.   She’s my best friend.

Mom, I’m so thankful God chose to give you more time on Earth with us.  I’m so thankful He chose YOU to be my mom.  So thankful He chose YOU to be grandma to our kids.  I love you.  I hope I say it enough.

Zoo

Craig had a few days off last month, so we took advantage of his vacation and took the kids to Riverbanks Zoo.  It was Alex’s first trip to the zoo that she would remember.  We went once when she was a few months old, but she slept the entire trip.  It was great seeing the kids interact with their surroundings and really ENJOY watching all of the animals.  We had a blast.

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They had so much fun that we bought a membership pass so I can take them anytime!

Change of Plans

It the last two months since we made the decision to adopt there’s one thing I’ve learned quickly: God’s ways are not our own.  And if we’re going in a direction He doesn’t want us, He’ll make it very clear.  I’ll warn you now – this is a long (and maybe confusing) update.  Bear with us if you want.  This changes the entire course of our adoption and has changed our hearts some as well.

For those who have been following along, we had decided on an Agency and a country – Ethiopia.  We’d already sent off the $300 application fee and were on schedule to have an orientation call this afternoon.  Well, my mom taught me early on in my life the value of research.  So researching I do.  All.the.time.  For everything.  Especially for this adoption process.  I’ll admit this: we chose Ethiopia because I wanted to adopt from Africa.  Because Ethiopia was open and it just seemed like a “good choice”.  Not because I prayed about where God wanted us to go.  Because I wanted to go there.  So I got Craig on board and we sent off money.  Then I started REALLY doing research.  Research that didn’t lead to the answers I wanted to hear. And what I found made my stomach drop.  First I got defensive and tried to rationalize what I was reading.  But you can only rationalize so much. After reading about how unethical most (not all) Ethiopian adoptions are, we knew without a doubt that we couldn’t adopt from there.  While we know our agency will do everything in their power to have an ethical adoption, there are some things they can’t control.  And it’s happening very frequently in Ethiopia.  I would never have peace adopting from there.

So that knowledge obviously threw a wrench in our plans.  We have no country now.  And the agency we signed on with only qualified us for that country.  Now what?  It’s funny how when you’re in God’s will everything becomes clear.  After deciding on Ethiopia I still had feelings of unrest (which is why I was researching).  We didn’t really know what would come next.  When we made the decision to back away from Ethiopia, God started opening doors and guiding us where He wanted us.  An adoption “mentor” of sorts was discussing adoption with me via email.  She mentioned the agency they’re using: Lifeline Christian Services.  At church on Sunday another woman (who didn’t know about our change of plans) mentioned Lifeline and that they were opening an office in Charleston.  And then on Tuesday, a friend of ours who works with Craig mentioned Lifeline.  Coincidence?  I think not.  God’s making sure we’re following this time.

So where does that leave us?  We’re not sure yet.  We know we’re now going with Lifeline.  They have an amazing orphan care program through domestic adoption, international adoption, foster care, and their (un)adopted programs.  They’re amazing and it’s obvious they have a heart for this.  But we have no idea where we will be adopting from yet.  And we’re okay with that.  We’re not diving in head first just yet.  We’re making sure we take our time to REALLY pray about the situation and follow where God is leading us, not where we want to go.  We KNOW we are called to adopt.  But that’s all He’s revealed so far.

The following are countries that are or will shortly be open to us.  Congo, Peru, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, Uganda, and Ukraine.

This is also a blessing in disguise because it gives us the opportunity to raise the money we will need to start the process.  Before we can begin our home study (one of the first steps) I think we’ll need around $10,000.  We now have time to raise and save that money without going into debt.  Definitely a blessing!

So there you go.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time God changes our direction.  And while it’s not fun in the middle of the process, there is much more peace knowing we are where He wants us.

Why We’re Adopting

God has been up to some pretty big stuff lately.  Obviously.  We’re adopting.  Internationally.  There’s nothing little about that.  Several of you have asked how we got to the point of making such a huge decision for our family.  Here’s where I attempt to put into words some of what God has done to lead us to this point.

For the last couple of months I’ve been having feelings of being “unsettled”.  Something just wasn’t right.  I kept feeling that God had something bigger for me out there.  That I’m missing something.  I’m not complete yet.  Until now, that feeling was a huge downer for me.  And a bit confusing.  I know God’s called me to be the best mother I can be which, for our family, means I stay home with our kids.  How can there be something else bigger than that for me?  How is my family not my first priority?  Talk about conflicting emotions.  I even saw my family doctor to rule out thyroid diseases and other things that can physiologically cause the “tiredness” and unrest.  Everything checked out fine, by the way.

A few weeks ago I was surfing facebook and found myself begging to God.  “God, give me something to fight for.  Give me a cause – something to invest in.  Something I can do to bring You glory.”

No sooner did I pray that prayer, did I see a link to an article pop up on Facebook via a high school friend.  I didn’t read it right away, but sat down to read it while the kids napped.  I’ll warn you now, this article is not for the faint of heart.  Make sure you’re in the position where you can really sit down and read it if you choose to.  This is the article: http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2012/02/if-not-usthen-who.html. To sum it up,  there are children around the world who are considered “less than perfect”.  These sweet babies are placed in orphanages.  If they haven’t been adopted by the time they are 4 or 5 years old, they are almost always placed in institutions and live out the rest of their lives in a crib.  With no one to love them.  No family to give hugs and kisses.  No siblings to chase around the house.  No quality of life at all.  I read through that post and my heart shattered.  To read about such inhumanity broke my heart.  And yet there was joy there too.  Because the entire time I read that article I could hear God whispering (it was so clear it could have been audible) “This blog post was for you.  This is what I want for you.  This is your cause.

Talk about an eye opener!  He told me just enough to catch my attention and give me a direction to follow, but not enough to answer any of my unending questions.

Questions such as: Are we supposed to adopt?  Am I supposed to go on a mission trip to one of these orphanages?  Are we supposed to help support families who are adopting these kids?  WHERE ARE YOU LEADING ME?!?!

That night I mentioned the article to Craig and told him how confused it left me.  He didn’t say much, but didn’t write it off either.  A few days later he ran into a man who was raising money to adopt a child internationally.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  But it started up a conversation between the two of us in which I found out that Craig was indeed thinking about this.  At least to some extent.  He even mentioned it to his mom.  Hearing that he didn’t think I was crazy gave me some confidence.  I got online and started following some blogs of families who have adopted.  The more I read, the more I found myself sharing in their sorrows and their joy.  And the more open I become to the idea that maybe this is what God was calling us to.

Exactly a week after reading that blog post, we made the “official” decision to pursue international adoption.  Looking back on that experience, even as near to us as it still is, I can see God’s hand at work leading us here.  And I must admit, I could feel God calling us to adopt even as I read that blog.  But I was scared and overwhelmed by the permanency of adoption and I let my fear make me think I didn’t know what God wanted.  However, we can’t run from God for long and I soon realized the blessing this adoption is going to be for our family and for the child we adopt.  And the avenue it’s going to give us to make a difference – even if just a little one.

Happy 2nd Birthday Nathan!

Our sweet little big boy turned 2 (TWO!) yesterday.  It’s somewhat hard to wrap my mind around.  So I won’t.  I’ll stop being nostalgic and show you pictures of his awesome birthday bash.  You can thank me later.

Many thanks to my sister-in-law Rita for taking over my camera and getting some awesome pictures at the party.  I’ll return the favor next month!

It’s going to be hard to top this Firetruck Party next year!

Messes

We walked in from the pool today and Nathan spoke words that just might embarrass any homemaker/stay-at-home mom.  Can you guess what they were?

“Nathan’s house!  Mess!”  And no, he was not prompted or previously taught to say such horrible words.  🙂

This is my biggest struggle as a stay-at-home mom: finding balance.  I tend to follow one of two paths at different times in our lives:

Path 1: The house stays spotless: laundry is caught up, dishes are done, floors are vacuumed, etc, etc etc.  But during this stage we tend to stay home every day and no fun happenings occur.

Path 2: We spent mornings at the pool, playing outside, or doing other fun and exciting toddler activities.  Then we all come home and crash.  The house doesn’t get clean.  In fact, it keeps getting messier and messier until I think I might explode.

So where’s the balance?  I haven’t found it yet.  I know it’s there, but it keeps escaping from my grasp.  And that’s my goal for this coming week: get a little closer to finding some balance.  I want the house to stay picked up enough that we can walk in without Nathan yelling “Nathan’s house!  Mess!”  But I also want our days to be magical for Nathan.  I want him to enjoy toddlerhood as much as possible.  And so the quest for merging the two begins.

Any tips out there for managing a home without your kids taking a backseat?

22 Months!

Our (not so) little boy will be 2 years old in just 2 months!  I’m having trouble wrapping my head around this!

I thought we’d do our update this month based on the milestone chart from babycenter.

At 22 months Nathan should be able to:

  • Kick a ball forward (he can)
  • Follow two step requests (he can.  My favorite is “can you bring Alex her paci?” 🙂 )
At 22 months half of kids can:
  • Do simple puzzles (he can if he sits still long enough.  He likes his animal puzzle.)
  • Draw a straight line (Yep.  He likes to draw a bunch of them on top of each other.)
  • Name several body parts. (Of course.  He can name his head, shoulders, eyes, ears, nose, teeth, mouth, elbow, hand, toes, feet, knees, and spine.  Yes, spine.  That’s what happens when your kids goes to the chiropractor every week!)
At 22 months some kids cans:
  • Put on loose fitting clothes.  (Not yet.  Although he can put on our shoes.)
  • Might be ready for a big bed.  (Yep.)
  • Understands opposites. (He does.  He knows loud and quiet and over and under.)
His favorite things to do at the moment are:
  • Listen to “Nathan’s rekik” (Nathan’s music.  AKA his Veggies Tales CD.)
  • “Ride Horsey”
  • “Wuker” (Color)
  • “Cook Cook Chicken.  Cook Cook Waffle” (pretend to cook)
  • “Read Bup” (Read book)  He’s a big fan of his Llama Llama Red Pajama book and his A is For Apple book.
He’s a great helper and loves to be a “good brover”.  He gives Alex hugs and shares his toys with her.  Sometimes he even sits on her.  That’s what brothers are for, right?