Saturday, April 28, 2012

City Serve

Every April the church we attend cancels all services for the weekend and people sign up to serve all over our "city".  This year 10 other churches joined with us hence the name city serve.  It really is an awesome thing to see so many people working together to bless lots of non-profit organizations as well as helping those that may not be able to have work done on their homes without it being voluntarily done.  Yards get raked, beds get mulched, homes get painted, decks get replaced.  This year there were 840 volunteers who helped 120 organizations or individuals. did we end up with a crowd of kids this size at our house you ask?  There is a trailer park 1 mile down the road from our house and there were numerous groups in there doing various projects.  Putting new aluminum skirting on a trailer, removing an old  rickety porch/deck and building a new one, etc.  There was one dear woman whose husband committed suicide a few months ago and needed some repairs to her trailer due to damage that happened during the suicide.  So a whole bunch of people converged on these homes to work and love our "neighbors."  Again, how did we end up with this crew of kids at our house?  And what are they looking at?
Mark took one of his trailers down and brought back two loads of debris from the old porch as well as loads of kids both times!  It was awesome!  The kids worked together to unload the old wood, ran around the yard, did the zip line, climbed the mountain and burned all the debris!  Our boys have asked numerous times if all the boys could come back every weekend!  They have plans for air soft wars, hikes, hunting, you name it!!

I am in the midst of a book right now called "Barefoot Church".  I am not too far into the book but I am liking what I am reading.  The crux is a church in Austin who goes out and is the church to the community.  They cancel services 4 times a year (any time there is a 5th Sunday in a month which pans out once every quarter) and do projects around their city.  They also have their life groups, community groups, small groups, whatever you want to call them groups initiate and do projects twice a month!!  I think that is awesome!

Briefly brainstormed last week with 2 ladies in my kitchen about what else we could do at the trailer park.  Things like.....take a load of mulch in and see who wants their flower beds spruced up, an ice cream social, more aluminum skirting replaced.  Building relationships and working together.  Isn't that what we are called to do?  I want to be a part of something is known for loving, helping and serving rather than consuming!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Smattering of Pictures

I am having strange issues with blogger since they changed the formatting of things.  My pictures are showing up all out of whack and things seem to appear and disappear.  I am going to blame it on blogger solely.  Not my lack of computer skills.  Or stress.  Or sleepiness. 
 Every single time the camera is out Heidi has to get her own shot somehow.  And then she proceeds to confiscate the camera and take extremely flattering pictures of me.  I will keep them to myself though.  You can thank me later.
 Eden has participated in a dance class for the past semester and has enjoyed every single minute.  I bet you can't tell.  Click on the picture to view it better since it is so dark.
 Oldest and youngest child!  Love knows no age or color!  Just love!
 And what a little love she is!  Not so little anymore though.  At her 2 month checkup this week she weighed in at a whopping 11.9 pounds and was 24 inches.  This means in the span of one month she gained 2.9 pounds and grew 2 inches!  She is rolling from belly to back and scooting all around her crib.  She smiles pretty much as soon as someone is withing eyesight.  She nearly goes ballistic when she sees and hears me now.  Makes me happy!  There is something altogether different this time around.  It is the most amazing feeling that she knows me as her mama!  She really does!  She loves me, prefers me, snuggles into my chest and squeals happy sounds when she hears me.  And I love her! 
 Every time I turn around someone is touching and talking to her.  Not even kidding!
 See what I mean?
 One of my favorite pictures.  I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes and turned around to see this.  Something melts in my heart when I see my "big" boys loving their littlest sister.
Eden has instructed me to send this picture to Naomi's birth mom in the next batch of pictures.  And we are on the cusp of the possibility of meeting her birth mom.  She has to initiate and then we will comply.  We shall see.

And just to keep it real:  life isn't all as rosy as these pictures are portraying.  Hard days lately at this house.  Believing that He will continue to heal one little heart.  As the words of Natalie Grant's song "Alive" say:  "Alive!  Alive!  Look what mercy's overcome.  Death has LOST and LOVE has WON!!" 

We will hopefully be hitting the hiking trails this afternoon since the boys are home from school.  Not sure if the weather will cooperate.  If not I will need divine inspiration to come up with a second option!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

So Far Today......

* I have eaten a caramel cadbury egg with my coffee.  Yes I did.
* I have marveled that my son thinks I am being too strict when I ask him to put his dirty laundry in the basket.  I was under the assumption that was called self-discipline.
* I am also marvelling that another son is so meticulous that he even wants his dirty muck boots lined up under his bed with his other shoes.
* I have breathed deep the smell of a baby.  Still amazed at His goodness in bringing her to our family.
* I am amazed that I can get annoyed by the incessant need for food from my children.  They are growing, right?
* I got to kiss my boys and rub their heads as the bus was approaching while they protested in case someone might see my affection.  Every day this happens and every day I smile while loving them.
* I broke down and let the kids have a small bit of candy.  By 8:30.  What is wrong with my head?
* I sat and read a bit more of my new books:  Keeping Chickens and Canning for a New Generation.  Thinking spring, impending chick arrival and finalizing garden plans.  And tricking myself into thinking I am a pioneer woman.  Because it makes me feel productive.
* I have watched two ducks swimming around and have a hunch they are making a nest nearby.
* I sat in shock as my child who has seriously been non-compliant 98% of the time over the past few weeks responded positively to 2 requests within the first 2 hours of being awake!  Miracles really do happen!  And this mama needs a serious miracle in the relationship with said non-compliant child.
* I have wondered how it is possible to love your children so much you would die for them but in the same breath not like them much at all.  Make sense?
* I have voiced my gratitude to my Maker that His mercies are new every single morning!! 
* I have wondered why someone would choose to pee their pants 5 times in a single day?  Wouldn't you feel pretty gross all wet and smelly?  Apparently when you start feeling gross you just opt to pee on your bedroom floor.  I may join them someday soon out of sheer frustration.
* I have realized how blessed I am to be at home with my children and to meet my boys as they get off the bus. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Little Bit of Life

Playing in the laundry baskets after all the clothes were dumped somewhere. On this particular day they dumped an entire load of clean clothes on the laundry room floor. And if you saw my laundry room you would know the floor is not the cleanest! But an empty laundry basket just calls for an underwear clad child and many fun adventures.
These two either love each other or need to spend time on opposite sides of the house. This particular day Eden had decided not to antagonize Judah constantly so they set out on a hike together. Judah was hoping they would find some deer antlers so they hiked around the mountain side for a solid hour but to no avail. They came back with big smiles on their faces about the time I was going to send out the search party. I still get a bit nervous when Judah sets out on his exploration hikes. I have to continually remind myself that he is eleven now and he has assured me he knows this mountain well.
A fun find in the yard one afternoon! After it had been adequately handled and touched it was released once again.
Notice something different about this girl? She is so proud to have lost a tooth even though she cheated a bit. She went to the dentist to get a cavity filled and upon having updated x-rays it was discovered that the nerve and root of her front tooth was dead. I was already suspicious of this since it is nothing short of a miracle that she even has her front teeth after all the times she has whacked her mouth off of things. But a few months ago she and Tristan collided and that tooth was a little askew and it bled throughout the night. I was afraid the amount of trauma that time may be too much for her little tooth and it appears I was right. She was thrilled to pieces to have the tooth fairy come visit her during the night although the girls were a little unsure of how she was going to get in their room. And a few days later after something (we are pretty sure a bear) drug our garbage all over and ripped open three bags to make a lovely mess for me to clean Heidi chipped in and said she thought the tooth fairy got into our garbage. I can guarantee this tooth fairy did not make a huge mess since I already have plenty to accomplish on any given day.

Monday, April 16, 2012


who decided to turn 3 already! Seriously seems like yesterday that we were in route to the hospital to meet this sweet little girl. She woke up ready to celebrate her special day. We try not to make a huge deal with parties and lots of gifts but when you grow up in a bigger family birthdays need to be extra special. And yesterday was her day finally!!
Could not resist sneaking this picture of her in amongst the birthday pictures! I absolutely adore her sleepy eyes and bedhead in the morning. My favorite!
Three years ago and her daddy was smitten from the first moments he saw her! And he still is smitten.
Remember this smile? I kind of miss her silly smile. This picture was taken on her birthday a year ago. I cannot believe how she has changed!
And this was near her first birthday!
Yesterday the girls and I were snuggling on the couch for a bit while Naomi was sleeping so we tried some self portraits. They thought is was pretty fun!
Judah snapping pictures of us!
Heidi laying with Naomi. She gets a little over zealous with her affection....... If you know what I mean. I walked in on her the other day picking Naomi up! Goodness!!
And after her big day she crashed in her favorite bed - ours! She has taken to falling asleep in our bed and I have a very hard time saying no to her wanting to snuggle. Especially after the past few months as I have heard of 3 different children around Heidi's age who have died in tragic accidents. I am pretty sure I will never regret letting her snuggle in our bed. My heart literally aches for the families of those who have had to say good-bye to their "babies".
Heidi, you were such a surprise to our family and we thank God for you!! You have brought so much laughter, happiness, spunk and silliness to our family. Your sweet "I lub you" that you voluntarily say to me throughout the day always, always makes me smile! I love you to the moon and back!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

30 Long Days

Taking a break from tending to my sick children to say how thankful we are to be past the first hurdle in Naomi's adoption. Up until yesterday her birth mom could change her mind and we would have had to give Naomi back with pieces of our hearts attached to her. Today our day dawned, I inhaled a deep breath and wanted to squeeze her sweet little self harder than is acceptable to do to a 6 week old baby. I didn't realize until last night how I was kind of holding my breath for the past month. The uncertainty during those days had me counting down until yesterday. While we are extremely aware that our joy has come at an unimaginable cost to another woman we feel ok in rejoicing that we are one step closer. If you could only hold her you would understand. I cannot begin to explain how sweet she is. You just need to hold her close and breathe her in to soak in her sweetness!! Our papers have been filed with the courts so now we have to wait until the 6 month mark rolls around to proceed. God apparently has much to teach me still about waiting with peace. Last night was the first night Naomi spent in her crib which is not in our room. I am conflicted about the decision but she is so incredibly restless that we weren't sleeping much. She did amazing in her bed! She had taken to wanting to sleep on my chest which initially I was pleased as punch about. I felt like it was a critical piece in our attachment but after almost 2 week I felt like maybe we were familiar enough. Such a fickle individual, right? I haven't done a ton of research on infant adoption and attachment so any and all advice is welcome. I am making sure I am the primary source of feeding her. Mark has fed her a few times. Like when I was hugging the toilet last week. I was in no shape to feed or care for her so he took over. I snuggle her close as much a possible and her little eyes light up now when I come into view. Yesterday, every time I was near I was given a big smile and a delighted squeal! Pretty sure she is starting to know me as her mama. I said to Mark last night in the midst of my worrying about her not being in our room that I am amazed by how much I love her already. That may seem weird to some but when you are pregnant you have 9 months to prepare and by the time they are born you love them fiercely. With Naomi there was hardly any warning and suddenly we were back in the throes of sleep deprivation. But when I am wracked with worrying about her breathing during the night I know she is mine!

And now back to my sweet, sick children. Last week I had a horrible flu bug, Heidi got it a few day later, we made a trip to Baltimore over the weekend to attend Mark's grandmothers memorial service, came home and thing started up again. So far this week it has hit Mark, Shane, Judah and Tristan. Very sad. Poor Tristan was somewhat traumatized by the whole vomiting experience. Bless his sweet little heart! I am really hoping Eden can avoid this bug so we can go home to see my extended family over Easter. We are really anxious to introduce Naomi to her cousins, aunts and uncles! Kind of fun that there will be 3 new kids at this family get together! Still amazed by how God works.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

4 Years Ago Today......

....we stepped off our flight in State College after hours and hours of travelling to be greeted by family and friends. We had finally arrived home with our baby girl! I cannot believe 4 years have passed already. The days haven't all been easy but I can say with absolute certainty they have all been worth it! To see you blossoming and continuing to unfold in front of our eyes is our confirmation. You have an amazing capacity to love that only He could give. You are resilient, tenacious and fiery! You are quick to ask to help me with any and everything. Your eyes sparkle and your arms hug fiercely. You are a gift that we treasure greatly! My only regret is that we couldn't come for you sooner. That I wasn't the one to rock you to sleep at night. That I wasn't the one to see your first smile. You are an awesome blessing to our family and you have been instrumental in other people choosing adoption!

The emotions of our homecoming day have been playing over and over in my mind today. Heightened by the fact that my brother is arriving home today with their precious Ruthie and Manny! I am amazed by the little details that God orchestrates. Steve and Sharon have been waiting to bring them home since the very end of September and they arrive home on the 4 year anniversary of Edens homecoming!! Our God is amazing! Not only will Eden have cousins that share the same cultural heritage but also the same homecoming day. I have sat here today in tears numerous times over His amazing goodness!

Ruth and Manny, we are celebrating with Eden today and are anticipating your arrival home. You have been hand picked by God to be placed in an amazing family. Your parents and brother and sister have labored, languished, prayed, laughed and cried over you! You have been pursued, chosen, cherished and given a new name! Welcome home!!! Our kids are waiting in anticipation of when they can finally meet you. And so am I!!