Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Little Details

If you have been reading here for any length of time you will know from previous years that one of my most treasured things to pull out of the Christmas bins every year are the stockings that Mark's grandmother lovingly knit for each one of us.  Each unique and different just like all of us.  When Naomi came home, at some point I realized that she wouldn't have a stocking since Mark's grandmother had passed away shortly before Naomi was born.  A little detail that to some would be inconsequential but to me was very important.  As Christmas started getting closer I approached a lady that attends the same service as us who I knew was an accomplished knitter and asked her if she would be willing to work with me on knitting a stocking.  As we talked and I looked at the craziness of my life I realized there was no way I was going to find any time to try and knit.  Especially a project of that magnitude.  After I finally contacted her and said it would be a no go for this year but maybe we could work on it after Christmas she offered to just do it for us.  It was done so similarly as all the rest.  The colors and pattern were a surprise just like all the rest. It was knit with love just like all the rest.  She specifically knit hearts on the stocking to symbolize love.  Do you see them?  Naomi's stocking is all the way on the left.  If you look you will see the hearts.  Naomi was prayed for as Amy knit.  What more could you ask for?  Small details that were unspoken but God knew they were tucked away in my heart.  And He blessed us through Amy!  Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts Amy!  For loving us, for loving our baby girl and giving us this beautiful gift!

 Speaking of Naomi......she is growing up right before our eyes! She wants in on all the action and can keep up with pretty much everyone in this house.  I think the only reason she isn't walking yet is as soon as she stands she starts bouncing!  It is so cute!
 There is no more taking pictures unawares either.  She loves the camera! 
 One of these days the kids will learn to hang their backpacks on their hooks.  Naomi sees an unattended backpack on the floor and immediately starts going through everything to find some crinkly paper. 
 And if I leave her alone for a minute this is the kind of stuff I find her doing now. Ridiculous!!
 She seems to young to be climbing already but she will be 10 months next week.  She has taken one tumble down the stairs without hardly any crying.  We decided to start working with her on the proper way of tackling the stairs when you are her size.  She has mastered going up the stairs but hasn't quite figured out how to back down yet.  Although I found her on the top stair last week going down backwards.  She is a quick learner but really keeps me on my toes. 
Sisters snuggling in bed.  Or Eden was trying to snuggle.  Naomi was more interested in rolling around and squealing!  Just trust me when I say she has the loudest, most shrill scream you have every heard!  It is her happy scream but wow!  Judah sometimes opts to wear ear plugs and for good reason. 

We are waiting for one more thing to go through for Naomi's adoption but as of now on December 18th at 8:30 in the morning we will be standing before a judge giving our affirmation that we do indeed want to follow through with the intent of adoption that was filed.  What a beautiful and lovely Christmas gift to our family! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Its that time of day.  The last few minutes of relative quiet before all the kids pile off the bus and the boisterous activity begins.  Homework, snacks, fighting, more snacks, hugs.....this beautiful mess called life.  I love when all my kids are home but I also love the quietness of the day when it is just the two girls and I.  These months with the girls have been so good for my soul.  I find myself laughing more  and feeling a little less stressed.  Which is good for everyone.
We are within 2 weeks now of Naomi becoming a forever part of our family.  Still hard to believe sometimes that a year ago we had no idea she was being formed and here we are a year later totally smitten!  There have been so many things about this adoption experience that have been life changing but seeing God provide all our needs along the way has been pretty amazing!  And a wonderful life lesson for our children.  
The night before Naomi came to our home a friend arrived on my doorstep with 2 big boxes of diapers, wipes and formula.  The basic necessities we would be needing the next day but I literally had not had time to go buy those things in the midst of gathering paperwork for our agency.  And that was the beginning of watching as God knit our hearts with so many as they contributed to caring for Naomi but ultimately loving our family beautifully! 
Mid-summer my aunt told me that her daughter had done a little bake sale at their yard sale to fund raise for our adoption.  I was pretty speechless.  My cousin Kristen is 2 months older than our son Judah. Her awareness of the needs of others might surprise some but if you knew her parents it wouldn't surprise you too much.  And if you knew her story it wouldn't surprise you either.  She shares the experience of adoption just like Naomi.
 Here they are this summer.  I love this picture of the two of them looking at each other.  Hearts bonded and connected through similar life stories.  
She raised $40 dollars to contribute towards expenses.  Some might wonder how far $40 dollars can go in paying for an adoption.  I will tell you what her $40 contribution paid for:  our updated criminal clearances and child abuse clearances.  We had to update all our clearances and fingerprints and that helped pay for them.  We are so grateful for her heart, for her story and that she has a heart for orphans!

We are in the homestretch now and within 2 weeks of standing before a judge to finalize Naomi's adoption.  We are so grateful to every single person who has loved us and supported us over this past year.  The phone calls, formula, diapers, monetary gifts, t-shirts all have a part in Naomi's story!  And one day she will know how so many loved her!  We will make sure of that!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


A note I stumbled upon this morning.  Made my day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just Life

 I know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I really should pull out the traditional "thanksgiving" post but that will have to wait.  My children, who by the way will play a huge roll in my thanksgiving post, are soon to arrive home from school but I know my mother always appreciates glimpses into our everyday life so here goes.  The above picture needs no explanation! 
 Trying to squeeze in a game of chess before it is time to walk out the door to meet the bus in the morning.  The dark evenings and colder temperatures have a way of bringing out the dusty games.  Number one on the list this year for all three boys is chess.
 After continues.  It does my heart good to see them using their brains and figuring out the strategy part of the game.
 The highlight of last weekend was dog-sitting for some friends.  Heidi doesn't like dogs and by the end of the weekend Tucker was stretched out on her bed!  I still kind of miss him. He is a one in a million dog!
 She has figured out how to crawl into my laundry basket while I am trying to fold laundry.  Kind of cute but kind of not.  Sort of like the first time you walk into your babe's room and they are standing in their crib with a big smile.  Cute until they decide to do it in the middle of the night.  She is learning too many tricks too fast!
 Cousins!  Naomi seemed to lock in on Manny every time he was nearby.  And he seemed happy to entertain her.  I did see him get his daddy's attention and motion to Naomi while holding her. He seemed to be saying he would like a baby.  I mean seriously people!  Could that be any sweeter?!  Last year this time we didn't know Naomi was on the radar and Steve and Sharon were preparing to meet Manny and Ruth for the first time.  I love His redemption!
She is full of personality for sure! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Tricks

 Look what someone is learning to do!  It's her newest trick! 
 She has to pause from her busy work to show you her little teeth!
 And then right back to business.  This is all she wants to do now.  Stand next to the furniture.  She is figuring out how to shuffle along and get to other parts of the couch as well.  If she falls over, she lays on her back, claps a few times, rolls over and goes right back for more.  She hasn't cried yet from any of her falls.
 She is seriously beautiful!  Her eyes just draw you in.
 I was trying to get her ready for bed last night and she kept scooting away so she could stand up.  She is so pleased with herself!
Her newest cheese face!  She is a busy one but she fits right in with the rest of the crew.  She is working on perfecting her abilities to say "da-da" and "ma-ma" and we love every minute of it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Sidekick

 I wish I could convey how much I am enjoying my days with this little peanut!  We are settling into our new routine with the other kids going to school and she is loving the extra mommy time.  She is so predictable and seems to like routine like her mother.  Although she is much more of a free spirit than I have ever been or ever will be.  She always asks for an ice cream sandwich or a popsicle by 8:00 in the morning and the answer is always no.  But she keeps trying.  Every single time we go somewhere she asks to go to the bank in hopes of getting a lollipop. She loves going to the grocery store as much as I hate going.
 She is absolutely the sweetest big sister to Naomi.  She climbs in her crib every morning as soon as she hears a noise from her room.  They snuggle together for a few minutes and then I rescue them both.  I overhear her assuring Naomi of her love and watch her kiss her cheeks over and over.
She is bossy and a bit demanding but we are working on her proper responses.  I love that she gets to have a non-stressed out mother during the days.  I am still working on and learning how to breathe deep when everyone charges through the door full throttle at the end of the school day.  Managing attitudes, needs, wants, helping to settle disputes......after 30 minutes I can feel my blood pressure rising.  How I need His grace to mother these children He has given me.

Today is a bathing suit sort of day for Heidi.  She has dug out her favorite suits and is changing and changing and changing.  So lighthearted and carefree.  Why is it so hard for me to live like her? 

I had a friend call me on Sunday and say, "Every time I think of you lately I hear two words 'make dinner'.  I feel like the Lord is telling me to make you dinner this week.  May I?"  Even now it makes me cry.  For different reasons.  Sometimes it feels so nice to know He loves me enough to speak to a friend and tell them I am weary.  It also is amazing to have friends that are obedient to His voice.  It is very humbling to be on the receiving end of peoples love.  Fact is, having someone bring me dinner tonight is a beautiful act of service!!  I have been having some health challenges lately (won't bore you with the details) but the medicine I am on makes me operate with pretty significant fatigue.  What normally isn't a big deal feels like an ordeal now.  Having to pace myself so I am not completely run down is frustrating.  It is teaching me how much I need people which is something He has been trying to teach me for a long time now.  Something as simple as not having to make dinner frees up some time for me to dig into some other neglected things around my home.  So grateful today for friends who genuinely love and love well!!

Now I am off to find my free spirited child and see where she may be "swimming."  Thanks to you who continue reading my ramblings even though they are way more sporadic than I would like.  Someday......

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall Days

 Someone (not me) bungee strapped a ladder to a tree so the kids could jump into our humongous leaf pile at this house.  I told this person the same thing I tell him everytime I think an activity is too risky:  he can explain the injury to the ER doctor.  Any guesses who he is?  My kids think he is the fun parent. 
 Shane did a flip into the pile!

What do you do for fun at your house in this lovely fall weather?  If you are up for some adventure head our direction! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Eight Months Have Passed

 I look back over the past 8 months and I really do wonder how time seems to disappear.  It really does feel like we just received a phone call about a tiny little girl that needed a family.  And yet 8 months have passed?  Impossible, right?
 I love everything about this little girl!  Mark and I sit with her almost every night after everyone else is tucked in bed laughing at all the funny little things she does.  We would be happy to laugh at them earlier in the day if she decides to start going to bed earlier.  She has been pretty content to just scoot around on the floor and play until recently.  As soon as she hears my voice or sees me she starts yelling and doesn't stop until I scoop her up. 
She is one busy little girl too!  Moves pretty much non-stop which is actually good since pretty much every other child in this house is active.  She isn't crawling in a normal fashion yet but that doesn't slow her down.  For a while it was just an army crawl but her legs are now involved.  She does literal push-ups over and over trying to figure this whole crawling thing out.  It is really funny seeing this  tiny little peanut doing a push-up while yelling in frustration! 

Some of the things I love about this her at this stage:  when I am holding her and she is on the brink of falling asleep I cannot make eye contact with her.  She immediately starts giggling and squirming.  I can't unload the clean bottles from the dishwasher without her yelling.  As soon as she sees her bottles she thinks she should eat.  If I lay on the floor she moves away from whatever toy she is playing with and crawls over to me to slobber on my face.  She lights up as soon as she sees Heidi!  Must be from all the snuggles Heidi gives her when she climbs in her crib.

We love this little girl more than we thought possible!  She has the sweetest spirit about her that you can't explain until you have met her.  Happy 8 months Naomi!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

His Call

I have been thinking over the past few days about how we as people tend to classify and categorize things so quickly.  Including children.  It starts almost immediately with the question, "Is ______ a good baby?"  We put them into a category depending on how they sleep, how content they know the drill.  Before long we start comparing our children to our friends' children.  Are they getting better grades?  Are they as athletic?  Playing as many instruments?  We either start feeling superior or inferior based on our children's performance. 

Actually, I take that back.  It starts while they are in utero.  You wait with bated breath, watching the sonographers face for any sign that something is amiss with your growing child.  People say, "As long as they are healthy......"  But, what if they aren't "healthy"?  What if something shows up that we deem "special needs"?  Immediately, your child is categorized and given a label.  Without thought to the intricacies and beauty that is within your child waiting to be found. 

Part of what has made me think more this week than some weeks is the fact that my cousin and his wife are embarking tomorrow to Armenia to meet their newest daughter.  You see, their biological daughter born to them a few years ago was given the label spina bifida.  Was it scary?  You bet!  Was it unchartered territory?  Absolutely!  Has their daughter grown and thrived!  Yes and yes!  When you are forced to walk a journey you wouldn't maybe choose willingly you learn something important.  God meets you completely and graces you daily.  I am not speaking from personal experience but am pretty sure that if you are walking beside your child who has a special need and you feel God's grace you may think it is possible to love and care for another with His help.

This week they will be meeting their daughter who has a different special need.  She is blind.  Something my cousins wife said really struck me.  She said, "We don't really know anything about her except that she is blind.  But we didn't know anything about ________ when she was born except that she had spina bifida."  Do you see what has happened?  Trust.  Trust in a Father who has not left them to walk this journey alone.  Trust that if this is their daughter than anything else is really inconsequential.  Trust.......something I have much to learn about and allow to settle deeper in my heart.

Would some of you pray this week for them specifically?  I didn't ask their permission to divulge their names or their story.  But you can contact me and ask for their names if you would like.  Or just pray since God knows exactly who they are.  I have already been praying specifically that their newest little girl, who is 5 years old, will somehow know immediately that the arms that hold her are safe.  And that God would already be whispering to her heart that her momma and daddy are coming.  Isn't He awesome?! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Wedding

 The long anticipated wedding finally arrived this weekend.  Mark's sister Hannah got married on Sunday and Eden was going to be the flower girl.  She was so excited!  I was a little nervous since it was only the second week of school and she also was very sick last week.  We thought she had strep but when her strep screen came back negative the doctor was pretty sure we had a nasty case of hand, foot and mouth.  Poor girl was miserable!  She came home from school Friday,went to bed at 5:30 and slept until Saturday morning!  Saturday afternoon found us at the beauty salon getting her hair done for the wedding.  It was so fun watching her.  There were 3 other African American girls getting their hair done at the same time she was and she was watching wide eyed.  Her favorite part was when they straightened part of her hair!  She desperately wants straight hair and her eyes just sparkled.
 My sweet kids minus the baby.  How I love them!
 Mark's sisters are simply beautiful!!  Beautiful inside and out!  Hannah, Joyce and Grace - the younger three.
 Christine and Suzanne are the older two sisters.  Both married and both have 2 sweet children.  I feel very blessed to have married into a family where I gained a bunch of sisters. 
 Hannah with my sweet Eden.
 Eden's cousin Jacqueline was the other flower girl.  Aren't they so cute?!
 Hannah was such a beautiful bride! 
 Classic beauty!
 We tried our best to get a family shot and this is about as good as it got.  I love this crew!
 Proof that Naomi was at the wedding.  She was loving her daddy and leaning in for kisses.
 Mark's siblings, parents and the new brother-in-law who is also named Mark.  Beautiful family!!
The happy couple with the littles in the wedding party.  Eden told Mark that her favorite part of the wedding was holding "that boys" hand.  Oh good grief!

We survived the weekend, all the kids woke up bright and early Monday morning even though I told them they could sleep in and off they went to school. 

We are so happy for Mark and Hannah!  People will often somewhat flippantly say people are good for each other but these two really are good for each other!! 

And once I recover completely and get caught up on life maybe I will find a way to make this blog a priority again.  Just maybe. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School

 We woke up early to a bunch of nervous energy!  Breakfast was hardly able to be choked down past the lump in the throats and food felt funny on the jittery stomachs.  Half-eaten bowls of cereal were deserted and shoes were put on.  Backpacks were worn proudly and children declared they were ready to go.  Twenty minutes before we needed to walk out to meet the bus.  So the waiting began.  And last minute bathroom visits.  Judah left first since he is now in middle-school.  Where has the time gone?  His bus cruised on past our driveway but the driver noticed a waiting young man so hit the brakes!!  One on his merry way!
 Is it possible that he is in 4th grade already? 
 Tristan proudly saying he is in first grade.  He was the only one that about made me come unglued.  During good-bye hugs his chin started quivering and the tears started welling up in his eyes!  I pulled him as close as possible and whispered how proud I was of his bravery!  He nodded his head and turned to walk with Shane, Eden and his dad to meet the bus.  I know I would be a blubbering mess if I was the one putting them on the bus which would only make things worse. 
 And Miss E!  She could hardly wait!  She bounded out of bed, got dressed and was ready to go.  She was so ready to finally get to ride the bus.  I find it so hard to believe that in the four years she has been home she has grown from Naomi's size to a young girl ready to venture off on her own. 
This is where I found Heidi after the photo shoot with her siblings!  Little turkey!!  She loves climbing in the crib to snuggle.  And as you can tell Naomi doesn't mind.

The final verdict as everyone piled out of the bus this afternoon:  awesome!!  Everyone had a great first day despite the nerves.  Judah survived figuring out his locker combination, changing classes.....and everyone else came home full of stories!