Friday, January 23, 2015

Come on, summer!

Well, this week has been a doozy. Late last week, Aubrey and Jude started running fever and had runny noses. I was worried that they had the flu, so we went to the doctor but the flu test was negative. The doctor said that it could be a false negative since we tested early, but they probably just had bad colds. Alaina also caught their cold, so I've had three out of four of my babies sick this week. Alaina has had an AWFUL cough, so we haven't been getting much sleep. I think that a cough is pretty much the worst (minor) sickness for a child to have. I've decided that it's even worse than throw up, and that is a HUGE statement coming from me. There's just nothing that you can really give a 2 year old for a cough and it seems to take FOREVER to fully go away and it is miserable to listen to it through the monitor all. night. long. Of course I know that she is also miserable, and I feel so bad for her. I'm hoping that we've reached the peak of the sickness and that we'll only improve from here on out.

In the midst of all of that, Francie decided to have a little sleep regression. She had given me a good stretch of nights where she slept through the night. I knew that she would probably regress at some point, and I told myself to just enjoy it while it lasted.... but is that even possible? I still got totally spoiled and basically started to expect it ;) It seems like the past several nights, if Alaina actually has had a break in the coughing and is quiet for a little while, Francie is pretty much guaranteed to wake up during that time. David and I have been tag teaming it, and we both feel a bit like walking zombies :)

And if THAT'S not enough, I started a 10 day sugar cleanses last weekend, so I've been eating a pretty restricted diet. The most noteworthy is this: NO COFFEE!! So, I'm up half the night with my babies and I can't even have any caffeine to help me through the day?! Terrible timing. Not to mention the fact that I had a caffeine withdraw headache for about 3 days the beginning of the week. So yeah, it's just been a barrel of fun over here ;)

There have been some positives this week, though. Aubrey and Jude's two day a week school was cancelled because so many kids and teachers were sick, so they didn't miss any school. Of course, the flip side to that is that I therefore had to do more school at home. But we're focusing on POSITIVES here! Also, we had some really great warm weather for a few days, so the kids were able to play outside some, which worked out well for all of us :) I was also able to get out and go on a walk one evening after David got home and I was teetering on the brink of insanity. It's amazing what a little fresh air and exercise will do for your attitude.

The BIGGEST positive (and praise!!) is that Francie has stayed well so far. That's totally just by the grace of God, because there is literally no way to keep these big kids away from her. I tried so hard, but they just love her too much to not touch her for days. We've had several rounds of sickness in our house recently, and the Lord has protected our littlest baby from the germs each and every time. I'm SO very thankful.

Of course, I'm also really thankful that David and I have managed to stay well, too. I can't imagine running on the amount of sleep we've been getting while also being sick.

I'm really hoping that the worst of the sickness is behind us now and that we'll be more normal next week. I'm hoping to have time to blog more too when I'm not spread so thin.

The bottom line is that I am completely and totally over winter and summer can't get here fast enough for me!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Life Lately

We've had the most low-key week ever. Aubrey and Jude haven't started back to school yet (we've had assignments to do at home this week), and we had a massive cold snap, so we basically haven't left our house. I got out one night to deliver a meal to some friends, and we went to Wednesday night church. And that's IT. That is so unusual for me. I really like to be on the go and typically go stir crazy if I spend more than a few days in a row in my house. Ever since we got home with Francie, we've been moving at a much slower pace. That's partly because she was fresh out of the hospital and we wanted to be really careful about exposing her to germs, and partly just because I have a LOT of kids now, and it's not easy to get out with them by myself. I've been thinking about what I'm going to be able to do with all four of the kids out of the house when I'm alone, and I'm not coming up with much ;) Maybe as Francie gets a little older, I'll start to feel more comfortable throwing them all in the car and going somewhere. But for now, I think our days of going to lunch or going to run errands solo are over. I mean, I now have TWICE as many kids as I have hands. Haha! I've been surprisingly ok with this slower pace. I think the Lord is just giving me contentment with the season that we're in right now. This week has been a little unusual with the kids not being in school, but I think when they go back it'll be perfect. That way, we'll get out of the house at least twice a week, which I think will be good for all of us. Three days at home will be a good amount, I think. We're all just still learning and adapting to being a family of six!

We ended up getting the stomach bug TWICE in TWO WEEKS. It was awful. The first round Aubrey, Alaina, and David all got sick. I felt really gross for a day, too, so I'm thinking that I had a really mild version. Then, almost exactly two weeks later, Aubrey started throwing up again. And she was SO sick. The first time we had it, everyone was sick for a short time and then felt better by the next day. Not this time, though. Poor Aubrey was sick for three days. We finally had to call the doctor and get some medicine for her so that she would stop throwing up. After she finally felt better, it took her several more days to regain her strength. Praise the LORD, she was the only one who got sick that time. That was definitely the stomach bug from H-E-L-L. I'm super thankful that Francie was spared both times! I will be so glad when we're past sick season and I'm not paranoid about germs every time we leave our house!

We've also been in the midst of a lot of projects around our house. We're basically redoing all three kid bedrooms. This is kind of confusing but see if you can follow: Aubrey and Alaina are moving into Jude's bedroom, Jude is moving into Aubrey's bedroom, and Francie is moving into Alaina's bedroom (from our bathroom which is her current "room." Ha!). Got that?! I know that sounds super convoluted, but there is actually good reason for all of the flip flopping. I'll explain more when I post pictures, otherwise it really would get confusing! It's been a lot of work, though! We are painting the walls in all three rooms, I painted a crib for Francie, I'm painting Aubrey's old bed for Jude, and I'm also painting two twin beds for Aubrey and Alaina. And those are just the "big" projects. There are lots more little ones. Whew! It's going a lot slower than I had hoped. It's really hard to get anything done in a timely manner with an infant and a sick child. I'm hoping to make a lot of progress on these rooms this weekend because I am TIRED of looking at the mess. You should see the upstairs of my house right now. It's not pretty!

So, that sums up our life lately: throwing up, projects, messes, and lots of time at home! ;)  I'm very thankful for the chaos!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Three Months of Francie!

Dear Francie,

You are three months old today! I honestly can't believe that it's only been three months since that October day when your daddy and I flew to Baltimore and then drove to the hospital where you were born. Sitting in the waiting room awaiting news of your birth felt like an eternity, but when we saw your beautiful face, time stood still. We loved you so much from that very first moment. The first three months of your life have been pretty eventful. Since the day you were born, you've had a major surgery, spent 4 weeks lying on your back in a hospital bed recovering, flown across the country to come home, celebrated your first Thanksgiving, experienced your first Christmas season and all that comes along with that, met many friends and family for the first time, and most recently celebrated your first Christmas and New Years. Whew! It's no wonder that I find it hard to believe that it's only been three months. Mommy is hoping that the next three months are boring by comparison :)

You are SUCH a sweet baby. You have the most laid back, content personality. You will go days sometimes without ever doing more than fussing when you're hungry. You are content to sit in your swing and watch all of the action, you love being held, and you also really enjoy being on your back on the floor. You are usually happy in the car, and you enjoy your baths. When you do get upset, you almost always soothe really easily. You've just recently started smiling, and I LOVE it. You are really alert and love to look at people while they talk to you. You make great eye contact and sometimes it feels like you truly understand every word I'm saying. You're a good listener :) You are holding your head up for short periods of time, especially when you're on someone's shoulder.

We are starting to get into a good routine with you. You're not on a schedule, but we have a flow and a predictability to our days now which is much appreciated by Mommy. You eat 5oz of formula at a time, and you like to eat around every 3 hours during the day, Sometimes you'll go 4 hours between feedings, but 3 is the norm. I'm hoping that we can start spacing those feedings out a little more pretty soon, but I'm not complaining too much because you're only waking up once in the night. I give you your last feeding of the day at around 8:30pm and put you to bed. You wake up to eat anywhere from about 2am to 4am. A few times you've gone even longer. Thankfully, you typically go back to sleep pretty easily after that feeding. You wake up again between 6:30 and 7:30, and Daddy takes that feeding (one of the big perks of formula!). He takes you downstairs and feeds you and changes your diaper, and then he puts you in your swing while he gets ready for work. You go back to sleep in your swing and don't wake up until your next feeding. I kind of consider that your first "nap" of the day. You have some awake time after that nap and your next feeding, and then you will take another long nap in your swing in the afternoon while your brother and sisters have their rest time. You have awake time again the late afternoon/evening and usually take a little catnap around dinnertime. I'm sure this little routine will be constantly changing, but it's working well for now!

You are definitely growing! You weigh around 12 pounds, and you wear some 3 month and some 6 month clothes. You are in a size 1 diaper for now. You are developing some adorable chubby cheeks and some little legs rolls. You are just so squishy and snuggly!

Aubrey, Jude, and Alaina absolutely LOVE you. I kind of assumed that after you had been home for a little while, the newness would wear off a bit and they wouldn't be quite as obsessed, but that sure hasn't happened yet and I don't see it happening anytime soon. It makes me so happy to see how they've accepted and welcomed you into our family with open arms. You are totally just one of us now :) Aubrey, especially, is so sweet with you. She's your little second mama. She cannot stand to hear you cry and will run across the house to give you your pacifier if she hears you fussing. She gushes over how cute you are and she wants to hold you as often as I'll let her. I think you will definitely have a built in cheering quad in your siblings, and I hope that they will always be your biggest fans!

Francie, I really can't even put into words how amazing it's been to have you join our family. I always wondered what it would feel like to have biological children and then adopt a child. I can truly say that it's been one of the most wonderful, joyful experiences of my life. I have such a complete and overwhelming love for you as my daughter. I really forget sometimes that we adopted you because when I look at you, all I see is my sweet little baby. I couldn't love you more if you had grown inside of my own body. We are so blessed to have you in our family, and we cannot wait to watch you grow and develop.

I love you,

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

So Long, 2014!

2014 has been a very eventful year for our family! We started it off with a super fun trip to Disney World in January.

In February, we excepted an offer on our house, and we put in a offer on another house. Even though there was another offer on the same house, we were thrilled when our offer was accepted!

We found out in March that the buyers for our house were walking away. That was a HUGE blow. We were locked into the contract on the other house, so we that meant we would own two houses even though that's not something that we wanted to do. In spite of the house turmoil, we celebrated our sweet Alaina's second birthday in March.

In April, we closed on our new house and moved in! The plus side to owning two houses was that we were able to take our time with the move.

I went to New York City with my friend Ashley to visit our friend Sarah Denley in May. That was such a great trip! Jude flooded our upstairs bathroom in late May, and the water came through the ceiling and ruined a lot of our floors and ceilings downstairs. We spent a "fun" week with huge fans and dehumidifiers in our house :-/

I got a life changing phone call in June about a sweet little baby who was due in October. Our family spent a wonderful week in Florida the next week, and we corresponded with that baby's birth mother and she ultimately chose us to parent her child. That will definitely go down as one of the best weeks of the year! While we were on vacation, we had our hardwood floors redone because of the water damage.

I helped chaperone a trip for our church youth group with my friend Megan in early July.  It was fun to get to go to the beach again! Jude turned 4 in July, and we enjoyed celebrating him! The rest of the summer was spent preparing our hearts and minds for our new baby who would arrive in the fall.

In August, we signed a lease on our old house. Renting it was not what we were hoping for, but after trying unsuccessfully to sell it all summer, the Lord provided the ideal rental situation for us.

Aubrey celebrated her 6th birthday in September, and a few days later she started kindergarten and Jude started K3. I enjoyed having Alaina to myself a couple of days a week, and we worked on establishing a good homeschool routine.

In October, our sweet, precious Francie was born, and David and I traveled to be with her. That began a whirlwind 6 weeks! Francie had surgery on October 15th and spent the next 4 weeks in the hospital recovering.

On November 17th, our prayers were answered and our entire family was finally able to be at HOME together! We were able to celebrate Thanksgiving together in our own home, and what a wonderful Thanksgiving it was!

In December, we enjoyed the Christmas season and then spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our families. We're closing out the year with house projects galore! ;)

Wow, what a year it's been! When I look back over our year, what strikes me the most is the Lord's faithfulness and how His plan for us is always good. There were some really fantastic, exciting days in 2014, and there were some hard, stressful days when we questioned the Lord's plan and couldn't understand what He was doing. There were also a lot of ordinary, mundane, normal days, too, that probably never even made the blog :) I'm thankful for all of these days, and I'm so excited to see what the Lord has in store for our family in 2015! I'm so glad that we can enter this new year with the assurance the the Lord will be with us through it all!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

"O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, and enlarge my mind; let me hear good tidings of great joy, and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore, my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose, my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father! 
Place me with ox and ass, camel, and goat, to look upon my redeemer's face, and in him account myself delivered from sin. 
Let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart, embrace him with undying faith, exulting that he is mine and I am his. 

In him thou hast given me so much that heaven can give no more!"

-The Valley of Vision 

A very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Merry December!

Our Christmas season was a little different this year with a brand new baby at home. We didn't get Francie out until she got her shots, so we spent a lot of time at home. This is not normally my favorite past time, but I've learned a lot about being content with a slower pace in this season.
As soon as we got home from Baltimore, I was dying to get my Christmas decorations up. I normally wait until after Thanksgiving, but this year I just didn't want to wait. It was so fun to be able to decorate our new house for Christmas for the first time! My decorations were put up a bit hurriedly, so they probably aren't the best they've ever been, but our house has felt so warm and cozy, and after such a crazy 6 weeks, I've just been SO thankful for our home. Putting up our 4 stockings was such a sweet, sentimental moment for me. Last year I bought new stockings, and I went ahead and got an extra one and prayed that we would have a reason to use it this year. Francie didn't even exist this time last year, but our sovereign God knew that He would bring her into our family and that I would indeed have a VERY special reason to use that stocking this Christmas. So amazing.
We hosted Thanksgiving at our house, and it was a great day to just be at home with our families. This year more than ever, we tangibly realized how much we have to be thankful for!
December is always such a fun month! We did way less than usual this year, but we definitely squeezed in some fun! Aubrey and I went to The Nutcracker ballet, we rode around and looked at Christmas lights, I had a fun little bunco ornament exchange one night, the kids had their Christmas parties at school, two of my sweet friends hosted a little sip and see one Sunday afternoon for our church family to come and meet Francie for the first time, and David and I celebrated 8 years of marriage!
Our anniversary night wasn't very glamorous.... we hung out at home with our 4 kiddos (it's still crazy for me to say FOUR kids!), but we wouldn't have it any other way :) We were able to get away for a little date the Saturday before our anniversary. My mom and grandmother came over to babysit (because apparently it takes two adults to sufficiently watch our crew now... hahaha!) and David and I went to lunch and to a movie. I always love dates with my hubby!

Oh. and in the midst of all of that, we decided to potty train Alaina. Because why not? Haha! She's done great, and I'm so glad to have one less child to diaper. ;)
Our Christmas season hasn't been ALL fun and games, though. We were hit with the stomach bug last week. David, Aubrey, and Alaina got it. I think I also had a really mild case. Mercifully, it was short lived, but that's never fun. I'm super thankful that Francie and Jude were spared!

There were also long days mixed in with the wonderful ones. Having a newborn is just exhausting, whether it's your first or your tenth, I'd imagine. Some people handle the sleepless nights with grace, but I'm afraid that I don't always fall into that category. I'm so happy to say that Francie has been sleeping a lot better lately. She usually only wakes up once a night to eat, and then David takes her early morning feeding so that I can sleep (one HUGE perk of formula!). It's also been a big adjustment to be stuck at home so much, and the kids tend to be at each others throats after too much time at home. BUT, even on days where I feel like I'm running on fumes, I'm covered in spit up, my house looks like a war zone, and my kids have been fighting like cats and dogs all day, I'm SO thankful to be these children's mama. Now, maybe in January we'll be more into our groove, we'll find a routine and I might actually feel like a GOOD mama some days.... ha! ;)
We need lots of coffee to get us through these newborn days. Haha!
I can't believe how fast the time has flown and that we're now on the cusp of Christmas! We can't wait to celebrate our Savior with those we love! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Our Adoption Story: Part 10 (Conclusion)

It's hard to know how to even wrap this up. Adopting Francie has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. From start to finish, the Lord has been SO faithful. We can see His hand in everything from first placing the call on our hearts to adopt, to leading us to domestic adoption, to bringing Francie's birthmother into our lives. He was in all of the details of Francie's birth and surgery and recovery.

There were so many things that I was nervous about going into this. I was worried that I wouldn't bond with Francie right away and that I would have to go through the motions for a while. But God gave me an overwhelming maternal love for my little girl the first minute that I saw her.

I was dreading being away from my other children for so long while we were in Baltimore. But God gave me a peace and an assurance that they were being cared for and that I was right where I needed to be.

I was concerned that I would hate living in the Children's House and miss my home and my privacy. But God provided such a sweet feeling of community in that place, and He opened my eyes to what a wonderful ministry these houses are for families in need. I can't imagine going through something like that again and not staying there.

I was nervous that I would feel so alone and isolated in a city where I knew no one and was away from my support group during such a pivotal time in my life. But God was there, and I felt His presence and His peace. David and I both felt so loved and supported from afar by our friends and family.

I was scared for my baby going into such a major surgery. I was fearful that there would be complications and setbacks and that something would happen to Francie. But God, our Great Physician, took care of our little girl, and there were no complications. Francie's recovery couldn't have gone any better, and the Lord even gave us the sweet gift of less time in traction than we expected.

Since arriving at home with Francie, we've been doing really well. It's been wonderful to be able to introduce her to so many people who have loved us so well and been so faithful to pray for her long before she even existed. Right now, Francie is a very typical infant. She eats well, she sleeps (like a newborn ;)), and we change her diapers just like any baby. The biggest issue that we've dealt with since being home is reflux, and it's not lost on me what an enormous blessing that is. I'm sure there will be hard days to come. Francie will most likely require more surgery down the road for her bladder exstrophy. I'm sure there will be days when I feel overwhelmed and totally inadequate for this job. Days where I cry and feel alone and worried sick. But I hope during those times that I will remember back to the beginning of Francie's life and how the Lord brought us through those hard days. He has always been faithful to us, and I can rest assured that He always will. He has given us the GREAT privilege and joy of being Francie's parents, and He will equip us for that job. Because the fact of the matter is that I AM inadequate for this task. I just cannot do it on my own. I can't parent any of my children well in my own strength. But God has blessed me with this role, and His grace is sufficient.

It is our prayer that Francie's life points people to Jesus. Her life has value because she is created in the image of God. She is precious to Him, and she is precious to us. It is our absolute HONOR to be Francie's family.

I have loved sharing our adoption story on the blog. I'm sure there will be MANY more Francie posts to come, but they won't really focus on adoption so much as just being Francie's mom. We are SO GLAD that the Lord called us to adopt. It has truly been a very worshipful experience for us. But we're also really glad to be on the other side of this adoption and to have our sweet baby HOME! :)

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21