Thursday, April 17, 2014

Catch Up

Well, since it's now Thursday and I haven't done my weekly highlights from last week, I'm just going to let it go. It was a good, normal week. The most exciting thing that we did was probably field day at Aubrey's school last Friday. I'm the home room mom for her class, so I had to go that morning and help set up. I'll be honest and say that I wasn't super excited about it. It just came at a busy time, and I felt like there were things that I needed to be doing at home. I ended up enjoying myself, though! I got to know some of the other sweet mamas better, which was nice! One mom even took me with her to get lunch when we finished setting everything up :) The kids seemed to REALY enjoy field day, so that made the hours of set up worth it!
So far, this week has felt SO long. It hasn't been bad, so I'm not sure why it's seemed so long. I think it's partly because the kids have colds and we've had to miss several of our normal weekly activities, so my days have just felt off. Alaina came down with what I assumed was allergies last week. The pollen has been awful, so I thought that's what was causing her symptoms. But now she's doing better, and Jude and Aubrey ended up with the same thing. So, I'm thinking it was probably a cold instead of allergies. Alaina's runny nose ended up evolving into an AWFUL cough. She was literally coughing non stop for several days, and we ended up having to do breathing treatments because she was also wheezing pretty badly :( All of the coughing led to some tough nights. David and I each spent a night (or two or three) on the couch so that the other could get some sleep. David has taken more nights than me, though. I seriously have to almost force him to let me sleep on the couch so that he can sleep. He's SUCH a sweet husband and daddy! I don't know many men who would fight over taking the couch shift so that their wives could sleep. I'm so thankful for all that he does for our family!! I think everyone is on the mend now, so I'm really hopeful that we'll all be able to go to church together on Easter!!

And because sick kids, sleepless nights, and Easter festivities aren't enough for one weekend, we've decided to go ahead and move this weekend too! We keep putting it off for various (legitimate) reasons like fence installation, security system installation, and other projects that we're wanting to complete first. But we finally realized that there's never really going to be a perfect time to move, and we're going to have to just do it. The truth is, I'm SICK to DEATH of doing showings, and the thought of continuing to live here while having showings for even another week or two is enough to send me over the edge. Ten and a half months of that is more than enough, thank you very much! We also want to go ahead and move ASAP because before we can proceed to the next steps in our international adoption stuff, our case worker has to come out to our new house in order to update our home study. So, we're basically on hold until that happens, and we don't want to stall this process at all! In a way, it's been so nice to be able to move on our own time table and not feel rushed. But on the other hand, I also feel like it's just drawn out the stress of moving into weeks instead of a weekend. So! We're ready to just "rip the bandaid off" and get it over with. I'm starting to feel sentimental about leaving this house, and I kind of hate that. I am happy about this move, and I want to be excited and not sad. I just know that it's going to be really stressful and hard to feel so unsettled for a few weeks, and I'm dreading that. I'm one of those people who thrives when my house is clean and orderly, and I get SUPER stressed when it's a huge mess. So, I'm just really praying that I can handle this inevitable chaos gracefully. I know this is probably going to be a stressful process for the whole family, and no one needs a grumpy mom (or wife!) on top of all of that. Haha!

Whew, this post turned into more than I was expecting. I was planning to just pop on and say that I'm not doing my weekly highlights from last week and that we're moving and I might be MIA for a little while. As much as I rambled on, I could have done my weekly highlights after all. Ha! Anyway, I hope that everyone has a happy and joyous Easter! I'll hopefully be back with pics from our new house soon! I can promise that they won't be pretty for a while, though! ;)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Adoption Update!

If the title of this post led you to believe that something really exciting had happened... well, I apologize :) Still no baby. And that's actually where the update comes in....

We've been homestudy ready since last June. We know that in the grand scheme of things, that really isn't a long time. And we know that in the adoption world, that definitely isn't a long time. Adoptions aren't quick. We knew that going in, and we're ok with that. Honestly, I never really expected to get a baby the first year we were approved. I just had a gut feeling that it wouldn't happen that quickly, and this time last year, I was pretty content to wait. I had a "baby." Alaina was barely a year old, and I honestly couldn't even fathom adding another baby at that point. (We would have been THRILLED to get a baby at any point, but I definitely felt like I had my hands full and was ok with waiting a while ;))

If you remember, we started this adoption process planning to adopt internationally, and we thought Hong Kong was going to be the program for us. It just seemed to fit our family's desires and needs perfectly. But then we were going through the homestudy process, we had three kids four and under, the youngest one still felt VERY much like a baby, and I just couldn't imagine adding a possibly very active toddler into the mix. Especially an active toddler with special needs that I'm not 100% familiar with. I just felt crazy overwhelmed when I started picturing what that was even going to look like. A frazzled, stressed, overwhelmed mama is NOT what I want for any of my children, and it's especially not what I want when welcoming a new person into our family. So, David and I discussed it at great length and prayed about it, and we felt like switching to domestic adoption was going to be the best thing for our family so that we would get an infant rather than a toddler. Adding an infant who wouldn't be mobile and whose needs would be a bit more straightforward for a while seemed WAY less overwhelming and more "natural", if you will. I've had babies close together. That I felt like I could handle. So, we switched to domestic adoption, and that's where we've been ever since.

As anyone with little children knows, though, a LOT changes in a year. There is an enormous difference developmentally between a twelve month old and a two year old. Huge. In the past year, I've gone from feeling like I had a baby to absolutely having a toddler. And I want a baby. I really, really want a baby. If we weren't adopting, I think we'd definitely have had another baby or I'd at least be pregnant by now. (If it were up to us, of course. I say that knowing full well that the Lord is the one who creates life, and He decides on the timing too.) (Oh, and I'm not pregnant, by the way. That's not what this post is about.)

As much as I want a baby (like, an infant), though, I've felt a shift in myself recently. I've gone from absolutely wanting a newborn baby to just wanting to grow our family. David and I are both just READY for our next child to join our family. Our kids are ready. We're all just ready.

For various reasons over the past month or so, I've felt my heart being drawn back to international adoption, and specifically, Hong Kong. Now that Alaina is two, the thought of getting an older baby or a toddler doesn't overwhelm me the way it did a year ago. David and I would still really prefer to maintain birth order, but that shouldn't be a problem since Alaina is older and the process of actually getting a child will take a while anyway. So, again, David and I have discussed this at length and prayed about it, and we've decided to pursue an adoption in Hong Kong! We are really excited to once again be on the international adoption journey!

(And I realize that I've talked a lot about our needs and our desires, but a huge deciding factor has also been children's needs. We've  thought a lot about waiting on a baby vs. adopting a waiting child. I am not saying that one is better than the other! Just that that has factored into our decision.)

One thing that I've kind of wrestled with in making this decision is feeling like the past year has been wasted. If we had remained on the Hong Kong course, we'd probably be very close to bringing our child home right now, if it hadn't already happened. Now we're kind of at square one. But the thing that I keep coming back to is that I needed this past year to really get 100% excited and comfortable with adopting a child who won't be an infant. Last year, I was really excited about the thought of adopting from Hong Kong, but I was also really nervous. Now I can say that I am completely excited! There are still some nerves - I think it would be na├»ve if we went into this thinking it was going to be a walk in the park - but I definitely feel more excited than nervous. Our kids have grown up a lot in the past year, and I just feel like I'll be at a point where I can focus more attention on this new child than I would have been able to if we hadn't slowed the process down by switching to domestic. I can also say that I've learned a lot in the past year. Adoption is such a journey and you can't help but learn through that process. I'd say the main thing that I've learned is that different families are called to different things. Some families are called to adopt little newborn babies domestically. Some are called to adopt from the foster system. Some are called to adopt older children who have less of a chance of finding families. Some are called to adopt children internationally who are in unspeakable situations and living in utter poverty. Some are called to adopt from more wealthy countries where children are well cared for and receive good medical care. Some are called to adopt children with special needs. And guess what? It's all wonderful and God honoring! Adoption is beautiful no matter where your child comes from! I am so honored that the Lord has called us to this, and I hope that I never compare what the Lord has asked of OUR family to what He has asked of another. Lastly, I don't believe that the last year has been a waste simply because I believe that God is sovereign and I know that He's directed our steps. We have felt His guidance every step of the way. I love that.

So, where does that leave us? Well, we're going to have to update our homestudy a bit and do the whole immigration and dossier process. Then we'll have to submit all of that to Hong Kong and get approved. The referral process will come sometimes after that, and who knows how long any of that will take. Our agency has given us an estimated timeframe, but I'm trying not to put too much stock in that. We know that international adoption is a lengthy and sometimes complicated process, and I don't want to be disappointed if things take longer than expected. But we'd be thrilled if you would join us in prayer that this process goes smoothly!

It truly feels like we've come full circle in this adoption journey. Now we just wait for our baby!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Weekly Highlights

Last week was a good week. Fairly uneventful compared to some of our recent weeks. It's actually getting kind of frustrating to have uneventful weeks because we are just ready to get the show on the road and move already! At this point, we're pretty much just waiting on our fence in the backyard. We're supposed to get that scheduled this week.

Sunday was church and Sunday school, as usual. We had to leave Sunday school a few minutes early to have a picture taken of our family. Our church is doing a new picture directory, and two of our members who know how to use their cameras are taking all of the pictures :) Our kids were surprisingly cooperative, and I think we got some good shots. We came home and ate spaghetti for lunch, and then we napped before going back to church that evening. We ate dinner at Jason's Deli that night.
 

Aubrey had school on Monday. The little kids and I had a fun day together while she was at school! We ate lunch at McAlister's, and then we went to Lowes and got some paint for the new house. After that, we went to the library and checked out some new books. We still had a few minutes to kill before picking Aubrey up from school, so I pushed the kids over to the park (in their stroller of course), and we walked for a few minutes. We then got Aubrey from school and came home for naps. I cooked fish tacos for dinner that evening, and we watched Dancing with the Stars until David got home. I read my Bible study chapter before going to bed.

Tuesday was a crazy day! We got ready that morning, and I dropped Aubrey off at Spanish. Jude, Alaina, and I then went to church for Bible study. My friend Anna brought Aubrey back to church after Spanish, so I didn't have to rush out to get her. It was a good thing, because I found out we had a showing that afternoon. That kind of messed up my plans for the day. My mom was planning on coming over after lunch to watch the kids while I went to paint Aubrey's room in our new house. But I now had to get the house show ready before I could go paint. I fixed the kids' lunch when we got home and then got busy. My mom came over and watched the kids while I cleaned. She then put them down for naps, and I left. (The showing was at 4, so my mom got the kids up and left the house with them for the showing.) I got started painting around 2. I painted and painted and painted some more. David came over that afternoon to help, and we ended up running out of paint. I ran to Lowes for another gallon and we kept on painting until about 7. At that point, we were almost out of paint again and we were starving. We didn't get finished with the whole room, though :(
David and I went to Jaco's Tacos and got some dinner, and then we headed home. The kids were already in bed, but Jude was waiting up because he had a "surprise" for us - my grandmother had cut his hair! He really needed it, and he looked so cute!! We were so thankful that my mom had kept our kids basically ALL day while we got some work done.

We took Aubrey to school on Wednesday morning, and then we went to the park. We walked for a while, and then Jude and Alaina played. For a while, we had the park to ourselves, and it was so nice!
We came home and ate lunch, and I took a shower and got ready. We picked Aubrey up from school, and then we came home for naps. We had to wake Alaina up because we needed to be at church early for a meeting that David had to attend. We ate dinner at church, and then David and I went to a once monthly book discussion that we signed up for. It was good.... but VERY intellectual. The group is mostly seminary students, and at one point, I looked at David and was like, "What are we doing in here?" Haha! Anyway, after that, I went to Whole Foods with some people for coffee. My mom drove me home afterwards.

Thursday morning was an uneventful day at home. We haven't had one of those in a while, so it was nice :) The kids watched a movie, and I did some cleaning. We played outside for a while and ate lunch at home. I got the kids down for naps and made some pizza dough for our dinner. I then got ready and got the kids up to go to tutoring. My mom was going to a banquet that evening with my dad, so she was at the church, too. After I finished tutoring, my mom watched the kids while I ran to Whole Foods to get some pepperoni for our pizza. Alaina insisted on going with me... well, actually, she wanted to go with me, so I took her out to the car. But when I was putting her in her carseat, she changed her mind and said she wanted to "play." So, I took her back inside, but she clung to me and cried when I tried to put her down. So, I took her back outside to the car. Again, she protested and didn't want to get in her carseat. No, m'am. We're not playing this game. I strapped her in and she eventually got over the injustice of it ;) We got our groceries, and by the time we got back to church, David was finished teaching karate. I grabbed his keys and drove home to cook our pizza. He got home with the kids a few minutes after me. We ate dinner and then bathed the kids and put them to bed. I watched Call the Midwife that night.

Friday was going to be another uneventful day at home. But then I found out that we were going to have a showing at 3:00. I hate it when showings are right in the middle of the afternoon like that. I know I shouldn't complain about showings (goodness knows, we need them!), but I'll be SO glad when I don't have to plan an entire day around a showing anymore. I'll also be glad when I don't have to make my kids take down their "tents" and "houses" for showings. Or maybe I'll miss the excuse to make them clean up their rooms? Haha!
So, I ended up spending the whole morning and early afternoon cleaning. We were doing great on time, but then the people showed up 15 minutes early. Ugh. I rushed us out the door, and we went to Target. We just walked around for a long time and got a few necessities.
David got home shortly after we did. We hung out at home for a little while, and then we went to Mugshots for dinner. We ate outside and had a great evening together. We came home and did a little yardwork and then put the kids to bed. David and I watched Sherlock that night - we only have one episode left to watch :(

David dropped the kids off at his parents' house on Saturday morning, and then he went to the new house to get some work done. I got up and went to the new house, too. David was working on putting up lattice around the bottom of the deck and I was painting a bookshelf. Unfortunately, I ran out of paint before I could finish. And David didn't get done before it was time to go get the kids for lunch and naps. It kind of felt like we had wasted our time, but I know every little bit helps. On my way home, I went to Lowes and got MORE paint for Aubrey's room (that's THREE gallons) and then I went to Kroger. When I got home, the kids were having rest time, and David went outside to cut the grass. I went outside and started pulling weeds, and then we got the kids up and they joined us outside. This girl didn't have a care in the world in an outfit she picked out herself and a basket of flowers in hand :)
That evening, we grilled streaks for dinner. We bathed the kids and put them to bed.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Alaina's Second Birthday! (A Month Ago)

Today I'm flashing way back to a month ago when we had Alaina's second birthday party. I can't believe that I'm just now posting these pictures. We've kind of been busy, though.

When I was thinking about what I wanted to do for Alaina's birthday, I decided that "simple" was going to be the name of the game this year. We were originally supposed to close on our new house on March 4th (her birthday is March 8th), so I figured we'd be in the throes of moving. Ha. Haha. We all know that didn't happen, but I'm still glad I kept things [relatively] simple. I decided that we would have a birthday brunch and just invite my parents, grandparents, and David's parents over to celebrate our sweet girl. And because I CAN'T keep something 100% low-key, I decided to have a bird theme :)
The day wasn't completely stress free. I felt like we were running WAY behind schedule right before the party. I was trying to get everything in the oven for breakfast, the kitchen was a WRECK, and people were going to be at our house in 30 minutes. Even though it was just family, and I knew in my head that it didn't matter, I just let myself get ridiculously stressed out. I've learned that for me, the key to throwing a stress free party is NO cooking the day of. In the future, I'll be cooking everything in advance or ordering pizza! ;) Anyway, we got over that little hump, David magically got the kitchen presentable, and everyone arrived. (By the way, our brunch menu consisted of quiche, baked oatmeal, bagels with cream cheese and honey butter, and fruit. The food isn't all out in any of these pictures, and it was looking a little sparse. Didn't want anyone thinking that washing fruit and slicing bagels sent me into a tizzy, Hahaha!)
We had the party outside on our deck. We've done this for both of Alaina's birthday parties so far, and I LOVE it. Gotta take advantage of that spring birthday :) The weather was gorgeous. We had put our dogs in their kennel during the party, and David had left our backyard gate slightly open. I was inside in the kitchen finishing up the food, and almost everyone else was outside. When I went outside, I didn't immediately see Jude. I scanned the yard for him and still didn't see him. I asked where he was, and no one knew! We assumed he had just gone inside, so we went looking all over the house for him. No Jude. We looked in ALL of his usual hiding places, and he was nowhere to be found. At this point, I was getting frantic. I was shaking, my heart was pounding, and I was losing all sense of reason. David ran outside to our front yard (thankfully, we live on a cul-de-sac with basically NO traffic), and I was just running all over screaming Jude's name. All I could picture was that open gate and horrible things were going through my mind. We have a ditch behind our house, and my dad ran to check to make sure Jude hadn't gone in there. The ditch is really close to our driveway, and when my dad started calling for Jude, we heard him yell. I first thought that he was in the ditch, and my heart stopped, but I was SO thankful that he had yelled. We then realized that Jude was just chillin' in David's car eating a York Peppermint Patty. OMG. Apparently Jude knew David had the peppermint patties in there and seized his opportunity to indulge. I grabbed Jude out of the car and hugged him, and he proceeded to yell in my face (he thought he was in big trouble when the car was surrounded). Yelling defiantly in Mama's face is not acceptable behavior in our house, but I have never been so thankful in my life!! Ha! It was an awful 5 minutes. It felt like an eternity. Lessons learned: NEVER leave the gate open and lock all cars at all times. Also, if Jude ever goes missing, always check places where we have food stashed first. Whew!

So, after all of that "excitement", we were ready to resume celebrating Alaina! Ha! I think it took the rest of the day for me to stop shaking. But we had fun! ;)
(That lovely thing you see in the background is our tornado shelter. I don't think I've ever posted pictures of it... haha.)
The birthday girl was excited to open her presents!
And then it was time for cupcakes! I made mini cheesecakes instead of traditional cupcakes :) Alaina was very nervous when we lit the candles, as you can see from her facial expression. Good thing she had her sweet sister there to comfort her and help her blow out her candles!
Even though the day had its stressful parts, we were SO thankful to be celebrating our precious two year old with our families. We all love our Alaina Ruth SO MUCH!!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekly Highlights

Well, last week was fun. Just a normal week. Oh, and we bought a house. No big deal. ;)

Sunday was a normal day of church, Sunday school, lunch at home, naps, and church again. We went to Jason's Deli for dinner.

Aubrey was out of school this week because they were doing testing for the older kids, so we didn't have to rush her to school on Monday morning. I did have an appointment to go to the chiropractor, so David stayed home with the kids while I went. This was my first time to go, and for some reason, I was super nervous. It went really well, though! The doctor was SO nice and really set me at ease. The adjustment wasn't bad at all, and I felt great afterwards. I'll definitely be going back :) The rest of our day was pretty low-key. That evening, I cooked dinner, and then we watched Dancing with the Stars until David got home and it was bedtime for the kiddos.

We didn't have Bible Study on Tuesday. We have such a tiny group right now that if one or two people have to miss, we usually just cancel. Aubrey still had Spanish, though, so we got up and got ready. We swung by Aubrey's school and picked up our little friend, Macy, for Spanish (her brother was testing). I dropped them off, and then Jude, Alaina, and I went to Barnes and Noble to kill an hour. I had coffee and my kids were entertained. Win!
We picked Aubrey and Macy up and took Macy back to the school.
Aubrey got this tattoo at Spanish and was super proud. Haha!
Then we came home for lunch and naps. I cooked dinner for David and the kids that evening, and then I left for book club. We met at Whole Foods (love that place!) and had a super fun time, as always. We discussed The Husband's Secret. It wasn't the best book ever, but it was a page turner and led to some good discussion.

Wednesday was the big day! We were closing on our new house. My mom came over that morning to keep the kids while I met David at our attorney's office. We signed some papers and got our keys, then I headed home. It was actually fairly anticlimactic. Haha. My mom left, and the kids and I watched some Pioneer Woman episodes on the computer before naptime. David came home that afternoon, and we went to church. While the kids were in the nursery, David and I actually left to run by his office (he had to lock a door) and then we stopped by our new house. They had built a deck in the backyard, and I wanted to see it.
We picked the kids up from the nursery and headed home.

We had a showing on Thursday afternoon, and our house was pretty messy, so I spent the day preparing for that.
Aubrey figured out how to use the camera on my phone, so my camera roll is now full of little jewels like this one ;)
I also went ahead and cooked dinner so that it would be ready when we got home. We were running a little late for tutoring, but we made it. After it was over, the kids and I took my friend Megan and her three girls to see our new house :) It was so much fun showing it to our friends. We can't wait to have friends over when we're actually living there :) When we left, it was getting pretty late, so we headed straight home. David got there the same time as us. We ate dinner, bathed the kids, and put them to bed.

I really wanted to give the new house a good cleaning before we started moving stuff in, so the kids and I headed over there on Friday morning to get to work. My mom met us there to help. I took our laptop and got the kids set up with a movie. We worked for about 2 hours, but we didn't get a ton done. I kept having to stop to check on the kids (mostly Alaina... she isn't into movies), so it was just slow going. We did make a dent, though :) The kids got hungry after two hours, so we stopped. We went to McAlister's for lunch with my mom. I put the kids down for a nap when we got home. That evening, David and the kids and I went to dinner at Newk's. We then made a Target run. We put the kids to bed and David and I watched Sherlock. I'm kind of obsessed with that show and sad that we only have two episodes left to watch. Haha!

Saturday morning, David took the kids to the Famer's Market, and I got up and made a grocery list and ran to Kroger. When I got home, we got lunch going for the kids, and then David's mom came over to watch them while David and I went to the new house. We took some things over there, and then I was able to really clean. I got SO much more done without the kids there. I couldn't get our mop to work, so I ended up cleaning the floor with a rag on my hands and knees. It actually wasn't as bad as it sounds. It was pretty mindless and very gratifying to see the before and after :)
David and I even brought a couple pieces of furniture to the new house! So exciting! I realized that the trim in our new house is MUCH whiter than the trim in our current house, so all of our creamy furniture is going to need a paint job ASAP. It doesn't even look as bad in this picture as it really does. In person, the hutch looks straight up YELLOW.
We headed home around 5 to relieve David's mom :) We grabbed dinner at Corner Bakery, and then we bathed the kids and put them to bed. Busy day!