The crazy journey of our family living this beautiful life for our awesome God!
"...Whatsoever you do, do ALL to the glory of GOD." 1 Cor. 10:31

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday is back!  And hopefully it will be a little more consistent now that our lives have slowed down a bit! :)

1.  Summer Vaca's....I love the flexibility, long days and adventures that come with summer.  I know it doesn't really change much for us since we don't work in a school system...BUT, it's still the time of the year that we plan most of our getaways and I love getting out and exploring and making new adventures no matter how big or small.  We made a lot of good memories this summer that I will always hold in my heart.  :)

2.  Normal much as I love the busy of summer and all of the adventures, I'm also really thankful to get back to our normal life and routine.  I love living our life and getting back into the swing of schedule and routine.  As much as I love the spontaneity and crazy of summer I also really enjoy slowing down and just doing normal life.  I think it helps me to be more discipline with my priorities as well.

3.  Being crazy with my son and hearing him laugh at my goofiness....I love that my kid is still young enough to not be embarrassed by his crazy mom and that he enjoys it when we're goofy.  I was dancing around the kitchen to a fun song this morning while he ate breakfast and he was just loving it, belly laughing at my silliness.  And then telling dad, "mom silly."  Love laughing with my kiddo..even if it's at me! 

4.  Our new puppy!....I don't know if I'm fully ready for everything that comes with raising a puppy (destruction, messes, constant attention, whining, more destruction and more messes!), but I'm so thankful we found a new puppy to be a part of our family and grow with us.  It was so sad and devastating to lose our dog at the beginning on this summer and it's been hard to let go and find a new one without feeling like we are trying to "replace" Kodiak. But I'm liking the new little guy, Denali, and I think he's gonna grow on us just fine. :)  

5.  Having a little helper....Grahm is at the age where it's fun and cool to "help" mom and I love how exciting he gets about it.  Just asking him to help mom carry his diapers to the wash is exciting and he LOVES to come alongside me and be "big" like mom.  He's also a fun little help in the office as he loves to pass papers back and forth between mom and dad.  Let's hope we can maintain his eager desire to help. :)

6.  The random things that make mom life exciting!...Oh it's funny how much your perspective changes once you become a mom.  The littlest things make your day and send you texting every friend you know about it.  Whether it's your little one taking their first steps, obeying for the first time or...Pooping in the potty!  Ha...I never knew I could be so excited about that but when Grahm unexpectedly pooped in the potty this week I just about took a picture of it and sent it to his dad and my mom cuz I was so proud of him!  Gotta love motherhood...makes you do things like get excited over poop. :)

7.  Sharing life with people...I love having a community of people who are involved in our lives and us in theirs.  I love watching my friends' and family's kids grow up, praying for my friends in whatever they're going through and them praying for us, and just sharing in each other's ups and downs.  God definitely made us for community and I'm thankful for the relationships he's placed in our lives.

I hope you all are having a good week and taking time to remember to give thanks.  No matter how big or small, always look for the grace and beauty in every moment!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Update and Some Pictures

We definitely filled the last half of our summer with lots of activity...from family camping/boating trips to a family vaca to a cabin on the lake to white water rafting and more!  Most recently we packed up and headed to Yellowstone with some friends.  I have to admit we were quite apprehensive about the trip because in total, we were hauling along 3 toddlers and 2 preschoolers and it is a 6 hour drive from where we live!!  Whew!  We were a bit nervous for what we were about to get ourselves into.  Plus, the preparation and packing leading up to the trip did not go smoothly AT ALL and it was beginning to look like we might not even make it out of here in one piece!  I started out by burning the entire pan of food I was to take for the first nights dinner, for everyone.  And it used the last of the ingredients I had for it and I had already made 5 extra trips to the grocery store to get last minute things!  ahh....gotta love pregnancy brain.  Then Luke spent every night working til about 4 am and getting back up the next day to work all day again until the crack of dawn.  I think he averaged at most, 4 hours of sleep a night before we left!  Our friends' daughter was throwing up the entire night before we left.  As I was packing the RV to leave I spilled an entire container of Texas caviar all over the RV fridge, floor, cupboards, steps and driveway cement!!  And this stuff is filled with onions, peppers, garlic and all kinds of smelly stuff.  That was fun to clean up. :)  Then my son decided to be lovely that morning and climb up his dresser, meanwhile ripping it out of the wall (it was anchored with screws) and then proceeded to empty all the drawers.  By this point I was just laughing at it all because it was so ridiculous.  BUT...we did make it out of our house in one piece AND...we actually managed to have a really fun time on the trip.  

Getting out "the crazies" on the boardwalk at Old Faithful

Playing with friends...running and "crashing" on the ground...gotta love boys

Old Faithful

Buffalo!  Or as my son calls them...Fuffafo!!

Boys being boys...climbing on rocks and making messes.  Gotta love that sweet smile. :)

We were literally about 20 yards away from this bull elk...I'm surprised my husband didn't wet his pants. :)

Learning to use the elk call to call the big bull

And the elk bugled back!

Love love love Grahm's face in this one....he thinks he's flying. :)

This is literally the best picture we get could of all the littles...they would not hold still for the life of them!  

Taking in some more sights

Love my family :)

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone...literally one of the most breathtaking scenes in nature I have ever seen.  It was word.  Just makes me marvel at God's power and handiwork to create something this magnificent.

Playing in the dirt...ALWAYS playing in the dirt.  I have resigned myself to a life of constant mess living with a boy

Taking a rest on the "beach"

And on our way home we picked up this adorable, precious new member of our family!  We finally found a new dog and we are so excited.  If you remember, we sadly lost our precious family dog to a very unfortunate accident at the beginning of the summer.  We were pretty heartbroken and not sure if we could find another dog that could compare.  We searched all over...even considered having friends in Alaska look for us and we finally found this little guy to bring into our home!  His name is Denali and he is a ball of cuddles and sweetness.  I'm sure he'll fit right in with our family.  Here's to hoping we can get him semi-well trained  by the time bio babe is born! :)

Isn't he adorable?  :)

Well I will hopefully be able to get back to some normal writing now that things are slowing down.  We'll see...there's always something that comes up!  And this weekend it's the county fair!  I couldn't be more excited...I'm a country girl and I LOVE the country fair.  Bring on the fried goodness and animal smell and the rodeo and all the fun that comes with the fair! 

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Great Read about the Truth about Adoption

I've learned so much already about the process of adoption since we've been on our journey to adopt from Ethiopia.  I've learned from required courses, books, friends, blogs, etc.  It all makes for a big mixture of emotions because we've been careful to make sure we learn about the hard and the ugly of adoption, not just the warm and fuzzy.  We've learned about the glorious side of it as well as the downright hard side of it and I'm thankful for what the Lord is showing us and using to prepare us.  I know that we'll still be thrown for a loop once we do finally have our precious one home and that we can't learn and master absolutely everything...but, I'm so grateful for what we have been able to learn about so that I hopefully don't have to look back and say "I wish someone would have told me this or that."  Which is precisely why I love it when someone writes honestly about the realities of adoption...the hard, dirty, confusing and downright scary parts of it.  I appreciate honesty so much more than when people always try to paint everything with rosy colors and make it all look perfect.  Life isn't perfect, it's painful and it's in the midst of those messy, painful things that we see God's glory most evidently.

So I really appreciate this article I just read today from Jen Hatmaker.  I love Jen's writing, I've read some of her other books and she is witty, humorous, honest, challenging and encouraging.  She and her husband have adopted 2 children from Ethiopia and it's been a year since they have been home with their children.  She wrote this article about the truth about adoption, one year later, and it's so well written and so informative! She hits the nail on the head. It's an excellent read and I thought some of you might be interested in it. I know you won't all head over to her blog and read it so here it is below and you can also check it out on her site by clicking here.

"Our kids have been in our family for one year.
I get asked all the time: “What is adoption really like?” Well, sit down, my curious friends, because I’m going to walk you through the first year of adoption with absolutely no only a moderate amount of hyperbole.

Of course, our story is not everyone’s story – we adopted unrelated, older kids from Ethiopia with no major health issues, and we already had three bios at home. This might look very different with babies or foster kids or domestic adoptions or kids from other countries or kids with severe physical needs or families with no other kiddos. But some stages will be identical, no matter. Adopters, if you are in the waiting part (WE HATE YOU, WAITING PART), or the early days, or the later days, or maybe you’ve got an adoption itch you can’t shake, let me share the fairly common stages to expect:

Pre-Stage: Waiting for Your Kiddo

I just want to touch on this stage, as it bears virtually no resemblance to every single phase that follows. This is the hungry, manic process of paperwork, dossiers, referrals, court dates, in-country travel, Embassy appointments, and deferred hope. Maybe 5% of my adoption friends sailed through this stage. For the other 95% of us, expect delays, frustrations, snags, unforeseen interruptions, bottlenecks, slow-downs, obstructions, and an obliterated “timeline.” (Dear People Who Give Us Timelines, please stop doing that.)

Here is the upside: This is the stage you realize God can put a vicious fight in you for a kid without your blood coursing through his veins. Those early doubts about loving a child without the helpful instincts of biology are put to rest. Of course, you don’t know this kid yet, but you love him in your heart, in your bones. You’ll fight like hell to get to him. You can’t think of anything else. You are obsessed. You dream about him like you did when you were pregnant. You realize that when God said He sets the lonely in families, He meant it, and He doesn’t just transform the “lonely” but also the “families.” He changes us for one another. God can create a family across countries, beyond genetics, through impossible circumstances, and past reason.

Stage 1: The First 4-6 Weeks (Honeymoon)

She is home. You can’t believe it. It’s been 18 months or two or three-and-a-half years since you started this process, and here she is, sitting at your dining room table. Look at her sitting at the table! Look at her eating eggs! Look at her in her pajamas! Your bio kids are treating her like a pet. All outside life has stopped. People are dropping food off on your porch. You are in lockdown, circling the wagons around your treasured one and spending more time with your kids than you have in the last three years combined.

This is Fake Life, and everyone is smiling. Your bios are more helpful than they will ever be againever, and it’s like you are at Weird Family Camp. Nothing is normal. Everything is fragile and bizarre and unfamiliar. Your new one appears compliant and easy-going and obedient, and dear ones, this is because she is about to have the Most Epic Freak Out in the History of Life.

For her, this is like the part of the sleepover when you just get there, and the games and toys are awesome…but then all of a sudden it’s bedtime, and you’re like: wait a minute. This is not my bed. That is not my mom. This is not my space. Good feelings are gone.

Stage 2: Spaz Out (4-6 Weeks – 3-4 Months)

Who knows what the straw on the camel’s back will be – maybe one more food he hates, maybe one final conversation he can’t decode, a moment of discipline, just a smell might trigger it – but something will happen, and your little one will finally lose it. Honeymoon is over. Once the damn has broken, it will flood for months.

There is screaming, kicking, hysterical hysterics. There is wailing and tantrums and full-out meltdowns. You may chase your beefy 8-year-old down the street where he ran screaming barefoot into traffic, throw him over your shoulder and lug him back home where the two of you hunker down for the next two hours, drenched in sweat, while you hold him tight and whisper love into his ears and he thrashes and yells and finally passes out. It is so helpful that your husband is out of town on this day.

Your sweet one is grieving. This is sorrow and loss and fear and trauma; it is visceral. It is devastating. You and your spouse are haunted, unshowered, unhinged, unmoored. You stare into each other’s eyes, begging the other one to fix this: What have we done? What are we doing? What are we going to do?

The house is a disaster. Your bios are huddled up in the corner, begging grandparents to come rescue them. You can’t talk to anyone. Everyone is still beaming at you, asking: “Isn’t this the best thing?? Is this just the happiest time of your life?” You are starving for truth-tellers in adoption.You scour blogs and Yahoo groups, desperate for one morsel of truth, one brave person to say how hard this in and give you a shred of hope. You only find adorable pictures and cute stories, and you despair. You feel so alone. You’ve ruined your life. You’ve ruined your kids’ lives. Your marriage is doomed. Your adopted child hates you. You want to go back to that person pining away in the Pre-Stage and punch her in the liver.

Stage 3: Triage (4 Months – 8 Months)

Somewhere around the 4th or 5th month, you realize the fits are under ten minutes and only happening every fourth day. This alone is reason to live. You’re out of the weeds. Your little one has been pulled from the burning building and subsequent terror and spaz-o-rama, and she is now in triage. You are definitely not out of the woods – the assessments, the precision surgery, the rehab is still to come – but she is out of immediate danger and stabilizing.

Evidence of her preciousness keeps peeking out. You see her real self more and more frequently. She is feeling a teeny bit safer, just beginning to trust your love. Some of those tricks Dr. Purvis taught us are working. (Except for those bitterly frustrating “scenarios” in The Connected Child when the kid follows the script to a tee, auto-corrects immediately, and goes back to playing blocks, nodding his head like, “Lesson learned, Mom. You do indeed know best.”)

As for you, you’re coming out of the fog. You start returning phone calls. You brave a Date Night. You look at your bio kids and ask, “Oh, hi there. So how have you been the last seven months?” Maybe your new role as Trauma Counselor won’t be permanent after all. You color your two inches of gray and get a haircut. You step on the scale and realize you’ve either lost or gained ten pounds from stress. Okay, it’s gained. I’m just trying to give you hope.

Stage 4: Rehab (8-12 Months)

The meltdowns are over. You wave praise banners and start speaking in tongues over this. Your new son is telling jokes in English. He is reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid by himself. He is a soccer phenom. You start grooming him for the Olympics. (No you don’t.) (Yes I do.)

You start dealing. You engage Life Books and play therapy and creative ways to honor his birth parents and birth country. You get serious about addressing his brooding and manipulations or whatever coping skills he’s trotting out. He is giving you more amazing reasons to praise him, and you’re no longer resorting to things like, “Um, I really like the way you buckle your seatbelt. You, uh, click that thing right in place every time. Totally nail it.”

You remember how your dear social worker told you on your 3-month visit, as she looked into your bloodshot eyes and you burst into tears, that attachment takes time…for everyone. Adoption is not the normal way, biology is, which helps us love that screaming, no-sleeping baby just madly, irrationally. But in adoption, it takes everyone time to fall in love.

And that’s okay.

So in those first few stages, you might feel like you are raising someone else’s hysterical kid. You might be chockfull of resentment, anger, disappointment, and regret. Love may feel elusive, even impossible for awhile. You might wonder if God called you to something then left you.

Normal, dear ones. So very normal. You are not a terrible person, nor is your new son or daughter a lemon. There is so much hope for everyone.

I read this paragraph by Melissa Fay Greene on the first year of adoption, and I’ve never forgotten it:

"Put Feelings on a back-burner. This is not the time for Feelings. If you could express your feelings right now, you’d be saying things like, “Oh my God, I must have lost my mind to think that I can handle this, to think that I wanted a child like this. I’ll never manage to raise this child; I’m way way way way over my head. I’ll never spend time with my spouse or friends again; my older children are going to waste away in profound neglect; my career is finished. I am completely and utterly trapped.” You see? What’s the point of expressing all that right now? Put Feelings in the deep freeze. Live a material life instead: wake, dress, eat, walk. Let your hands and words mother the new child, don’t pause to look back, to reflect, or to experience emotions. “Shut up, Emotions,” you’ll say. “I’ll check back with you in six months to see if you’ve pulled yourselves together. But no whining meanwhile!”

Here is the good news: eventually, you can pull Feelings from the deep freeze, and you’ll discover surges of genuine love sneaking up on you for this kid. You’ll find out: Oh! He’s funny! She’s sassy! He’s good at science! She is compassionate! I had no idea! You’ve mothered with your hands and words, and God did the heavy lifting, just like He promised. You don’t have to be a miracle worker; that has always been God’s territory. You just have to be the ordinary disciple who says yes.

Is adoption easy? No it is not. Is this simple? Nope. Complicated and long-term. Will bonding be immediate and seamless? Maybe, but probably not. Will you struggle with guilt and fear that first year? Yes, but you shouldn’t. You’ve agreed to partner with God in some difficult, heart-wrenching work, and it’s no kum-by-yah party. Give grace to yourself; God already has.

Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting through, and adoption is one of them. I can hardly think of something closer to God’s character, who is the “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy.” Certainly, we are his difficult children who spaz out and pull away and manipulate and struggle. We distrust His good love and sabotage our blessings, imagining our shame disqualifies us or that God couldn’t possibly be faithful to such orphans.

But He is. We are loved with an everlasting love, and it is enough to overwhelm our own fear and shame and humanity. In adoption, God is enough for us all. He can overcome our children’s grief. He can overshadow our own inadequacies. He can sweep up our families in a beautiful story of redemption and hope and healing. If you are afraid of adoption, trying to stiff-arm the call, God is the courage you don’t have. If you are waiting, suffering with longing for your child, God is the determination you need. If you are in the early days of chaos, God is the peace you and your child hunger for. If your family feels lost, He is the stability everyone is looking for. If you are working hard on healing, digging deep with your child, God is every ounce of the hope and restoration and safety and grace.

In Him, you can do this.

He is enough for us all."

I love the truth at the end of the article...In Him, we can do anything He calls us to do...He promises us that in Philippians 4:13.  No matter what road you're on...whether it's adoption or something completely different...a job change, heartache, the trenches of raising little ones, empty nest-ing, loss of dreams, just plain old hard matter what...we can do all things through Him because He called us to it and His plan is perfect and in our weakness His strength is made perfect.  I know the road we're headed down with this adoption (and the craziness of having another bio babe in the middle of it!!) is completely unknown to us and it will be hard and wearisome oftentimes....but I also know the God who makes all things beautiful in His time  (Ecc. 3:11) and I know He is crafting a beautiful story out of our matter how crazy it may seem at times!

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday...and some really good pictures :)

I know it's Thursday and I'm supposed to write a list of 7 thankful things but since it's my blog I can make up and change my own rules, right? ;)  I just have one thing I want to focus on being thankful for precious little kiddo. :)  As moms, (especially moms of crazy toddler boys! ;) ), it is really easy to get caught up in the mundane, back-breaking, frustrating, plain old hard work of raising kids.  There can be whole days that go by where you don't take a moment to just enjoy the little souls God has placed in your life to raise and it's such a sad thing to rob the joy and purpose out parenting like that.  God tells us in His word that children are a blessing, not drudgery, misery or ugliness.  Of course they are hard work....many have said motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on the planet, it doesn't come with days off, lunch breaks, vacation days, sick days, or "quitting time"....but if we change our focus to find the joy in parenting and rely on the Lord to give us the strength we need, it can completely alter our perspective and outlook on our day-to-day doings.  I was driving the car this morning, with my lil guy in the backseat and I looked back in the rear view mirror and saw his precious little face sweetly smiling back at me with his goofy grin and the Lord graciously reminded me to just savor the moment, enjoy these hard days, love on my kid as much as possible everyday and live in the here and now.  I am so thankful for the blessing of my son and the opportunity God has given me to be his mom full-time.  It may be hard work, but it's oh so amazingly rewarding hard work....all it takes is a smile and a hug from my precious guy and my heart melts and I'm reminded again why I do this day in and day out.  
So...since I'm just focusing on being super thankful for him instead of griping about the "hard-ness" of motherhood I thought I'd share with you all the pictures we had taken of him! They were all so good that I have to put almost all of them up!  They are absolutely adorable. Hmm, Hmm, precious. :)  Enjoy!!

Be still my heart.....this kid makes me melt. :)  

Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our Summer In Pictures (Thus Far...)

You've already heard me mention that our summer has been pretty crazy!  It's been tons of fun but we've stayed quite busy!  I thought I'd share some of what we've been up to while I've been away from writing.....Enjoy!

Enjoying lots of sun-time!  Is this kid cool or what? :)

Hanging at the "beach" with his buddies

Taking in the annual parade with Aunt Lainey. The sticker on the forehead was his kid is a little weird sometimes. :)

All tuckered out from playing in the water at the lake.

Getting warmed up with friends after playing in the water.

Playing dress-up with friends...he even knew how to "twirl" in the dress!  Oh dear child.

Riding with cousin Kennedy...these 2 are a crazy out if they are around!

Some of the bounty from our garden this summer!  So far I'd say it's a success!  Woohoo!  I actually grew something in my very first real garden!

Peek a boo and soccer...good combo.

Playing with dad at the my men. :)

Cutest little pot-bellied sunbather around!

Pics from our vacation to Mexico...gorgeous surroundings for our zip-lining adventure in the jungle!

Yep...that hottie belongs to me. :)

Absolutely beautiful views on our beach!

I'm supposed to be feeding the bird with my mouth...somehow I just came out looking retarded. :)

I must have one of the meanest husbands around...he basically forced me to hold this thing and I was f.r.e.a.k.i.n.g OUT!  Ugh...still gives me the shivers!

Downtown sites in Puerto Vallarta

More breathtaking views

The always gorgeous sunset on our beach. 

Woohoo!  Mom and Grahm going jet skiing! Watch out!

I could just eat that face up. :)

Hanging on the beach at our family camping trip.

Love this...sharing snacks with dad :)

Going for "rides" with Uncle Austin

You can tell by their faces, like I said before, these 2 are a dangerous combo!

Fun with Aunt Annie

Family Pic in the mountains on our first camping trip as a family.

Woohoo...taking all the littles on a tubing ride behind the boat.  We just about was a little intense for a moment but Grahm was laughing the whole way through it.

I just think this pic is hilarious...every kid is going a different direction and it looks a little bit like chaos.

Rides with dad on our new toy

Basically we like to ride anything we can.  Getting ready for our next trip! vaca at Bear fun!

More rides with dad!

This kid has a need for danger and makes me nervous for his teen years.

All the little cousins taking a ride...the back 2 weren't so sure but Grahm and Kennedy were all about it!

Love this :)  Going for a little boat ride together

The big kiddos entertaining themselves building sand castles. 

More beach time with dad.  If you look closely at Grahm's face, you'll see it's covered in sand....Yes, he eats absolutely everything. This time he decided it would be good to eat sand and then wipe it all over his face.

Aww..cuddles with mom...far and few between! I'm sure this lasted all of 5 seconds!

Hope you're enjoying your summer as well!  We've still got a few more things planned before summer comes to an end but we're enjoying every minute of it!

Happy Tuesday!

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