Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Conversation with Kate

As  I brought Kate downstairs this morning, she spotted the Baby Einstein toy the kids picked out for their little brother at Target for Christmas and wanted to bring it downstairs with her. The conversation that followed was so precious that it had to be documented.

Kate: Is baby brother downstairs?
Me: No, sweet girl. Not yet.
Kate: Aww, I want him to be here!
Me: Me, too, honey. He'll be home soon.
Kate: I give this to my baby brother. It be his special present. Can I bring it to da airport?
Me: Of course. He will love it!
Kate: I going to be a big sister. And Carter going to be the big brother. And you be his mommy, and Daddy be his daddy. Right?
Me: That's exactly right! Where's your baby brother now? 
Kate: China! 
Me: That's right. How are we going to get him home?
Kate: On da BIG airpane!
Me: Is he going to be a teeny tiny baby or a big baby?
Kate: A big baby. He may be walking.
Me: That's right. Are you going to be able to share Mommy with him?
Kate: Yes. And I share my daddy, too. Because I'm the big sister.
Me: What will you do if he's crying?
Kate: I give him hugs. And some chicken.

I mean. Chicken cures all sadness, am I right?!! :) Love her!

I had to share this because I get asked ALL THE TIME if my big kids understand what we are doing. We have had lots of conversations with Carter, and if you ask him questions about his baby brother, he'll pretty much explain exactly what an orphanage is, why some parents can't raise their children, and the process of how we are going to bring his baby brother home, but this was really the first time I saw glimpses of Kate's understanding. We've pretty much taken the "she's too little to understand" approach with her up until now. But, WOW! She's really been listening! I obviously haven't given her nearly enough credit for understanding. 

As far as our process goes, we had our fingerprinting appointment last week for immigration, so we are hopeful that our 797 approval will be in the mail in the next 3-4 weeks. That's the last document we need for our dossier...WOOHOO!!!! Once that gets notarized and authenticated, our dossier should be ready to go to China, so I am hopeful that we will be logged in to the China system in February sometime. One step closer! 

Here's to BIG THINGS in 2016!!! :) Happy New Year, friends!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Ride of 2015...

Well, 2015, we have just eight more days in this year, so just for fun, I thought it would be fun to take a little walk down memory lane. 

When 2015 began, I started this little blog as a way to salvage whatever brain cells hadn't already been lost to afternoons of PBS Kids marathons. I really had no purpose for the blog when I started it. I thought I might write about a whole host of things - maybe a little parenting, a little health, throw in some recipes here and there, a little fashion, and just maybe share a little bit of my faith while I was doing it. A little bit of this and a little bit of that, I thought.

I'm pretty sure God was up there laughing at my little "this and that" blog. He saw where this was headed, but oh, how clueless I was!

When 2015 started, I had just began to feel a tug from God that our family may not be complete. I. at first, ignored it and pushed it away and tried to run from it because my daughter's first year consisted of colic/reflux/lactose intolerance (a total nightmare) and physical therapy, and I was terrified to go down the pregnancy road again. Thankfully, God had other plans...

When 2015 started, I had a tragically broken heart for orphans and longed to be involved in the movement to care for them, but I was too nervous and scared to share my feelings with my husband. After all, what if he said no? What if he thought I was crazy? Oh, what little faith I had! If I had only known a year ago that God had already planted the adoption seed in him as well, I would've salvaged so many sleepless nights. But, His timing is always perfect, and we got on the same page...eventually. :) 

When 2015 started, Carter was socially...um, awkward. He refused to answer another adult if they asked him a question, he sat on my lap for several of his first soccer games and refused to play, and he didn't really have many true "friends." Truthfully, I was really nervous that something was wrong with him. I think I even called my sister-in-law (an LMFT) to see if she thought he had social anxiety. (Spoiler: I was being ridiculous. He just needed more time.) Today, he absolutely lives for soccer game Saturdays, he has dozens of true friends, and is socially on par with any other four or five year-old kid out there. This morning, I watched him walked up to a six year-old little boy at a play area, ask him his name, and initiate a game of tag with him. What a difference a year makes! 

When 2015 started, Kate was an absolute HOT MESS of a one year-old, a constant tantrum-thrower, never stopped talking, lived for baby dolls, tipped the scales at 21 pounds, and barely filled out size 18 month clothes. Today...she is exactly the same...except she's two. And MAYBE 23 pounds. Can't win 'em all, folks. ;)

When 2015 started, I shared my testimony for the first time publicly, and as out-of-my-mind scared as I was to do it, God has shown me time and time again that vulnerability and openness and honesty is what connects and inspires us. Sharing our flaws and admitting our struggles may not get us more followers on Instagram, but it may be the first time that someone else says, "Me too." That's what I want this blog to be about...I want it to be a place where someone can come and feel understood. I want it to be a place where the underlying feeling is acceptance. We are flawed, human, hot messes...and that's okay. Jesus died for us because of our mess...it's taken care of...what a blessing and a gift that grace is!

2015 has been an absolutely life-altering year...it's amazing to look back and see where we started and how far we've come. To God be the glory! 

I absolutely cannot wait to see what all 2016 holds for our little family...and, God-willing, hopefully that will include a very special trip for our China boy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Preschool Christmas Programs 2015

This totally cracked me up! And is oh so very true. This morning, we enjoyed Carter's preschool Christmas program, and last week Kate had her miniature version of it, too. They were both too cute and funny not to share! 

I'll start with Kate...she looked so incredibly cute heading to school! 

And then, she was asked to perform...

Yeah, not a fan. ;) 

One of the perks of working at the school was that we got to go back into the room once the day was over and have a little redo photo shoot. She was HAPPY to sing and dance and smile for me all alone in the room, but as she told me later, "All the mommies and daddies were scary." It's tough to be two! 

Now onto the big guy. Carter fell in love with these dumb horrific patriotic cowboy boots at Wal-mart the other day, so naturally he had to wear them to look "fancy" today. He is my shy one, so I knew he'd be nervous, but he ended up doing so well!

His class first sang "Jingle Bell Rock."

And then "The First Noel."

And then came the finale. He lucked out standing next to one of his sweet friends for this, so he was quite dramatic with his motions for the final three songs - "Jingle Bells," "Go Tell it on a Mountain," and "Happy Birthday Jesus." 

Afterward, we got to go have cookies in his class and tell him what a stud he is.

It was a such fun little morning with our cowboy! :) Hope everyone has a great last week of school with your little ones!  
Monday, December 14, 2015

The Underdog

So, here's the thing...I have a thing for the underdog. I always have. 

The truth is, I blame my mother. My first dog was the runt of her litter, and from that moment on, I became just smitten with the little guys. The outcasts. The Davids of the world. The ones who really have to fight for it. 

Whether it be the new kid in class who sat alone in the cafeteria for weeks before making her first friend, or Forrest Gump actually graduating from college despite his low IQ, or the skinny kid going out for the football team who spends his entire summer in the weight room, they absolutely steal my heart. 

There is something so magical to me about the journey from nothing to greatness. When the tortoise crosses the finish line, slowly of course, to the hare's absolute shock and dismay, it truly gives me goosebumps. To see Michael Oher get drafted into the NFL with a loving family by his side when just years before was homeless and on the streets brings me to tears. The journey, the hard work, the determination to never quit...the underdog story is my Kryptonite. My Achilles heel. My weakness. 

I just can't get enough of these stories.

So, I'm telling you all of this with a point, I promise. I had a conversation with our agency several weeks ago as we were reviewing our family profile that went something like this...

Social Worker (SW): "I see here you are open to either gender at this point. I'm assuming your preference is a girl, though, correct? I want to let you know that we have many, many families in line for girls, so if you are hoping for a girl, we will want to be specific on your profile. You can expect to be waiting six to nine months for a referral."

Me: "We are truly open at this point. How long are referrals taking for boys in our age range?"

SW: "We only have one family with a dossier in China currently who is pursuing a boy, so a few weeks at most. We find boys are much harder to match...simply because they are boys."

Me: "Really? How sad! Why is that?"

SW: "We don't really know, to be honest. There is just such a strong preference for girls in adoption, China specifically, that we almost consider being a boy a special need all by itself. They wait so much longer for families just because so few come forward for boys. China boys are the underdogs."

And, I melted to a puddle right there on the floor. Check mate. Done. My heart is gone.

Me: "Yes, let's go ahead and change our checklist to specify a boy, same age and medical needs."

After about ten minutes of cheering and absolute elation from the social worker, we have made it official that we are now solely pursuing a baby BOY. And, we could not be more thrilled to watch this underdog story unfold in our little family. 

Thanks for continuing to journey this process with us! :) 
Thursday, December 10, 2015

Oh, hey, December...

So, it's been a while. I was leaving a much needed girls' night tonight when a friend commented on how she loved reading my blog, and it dawned on me I hadn't posted a single thing this whole month. 

I'll give it to you straight. It's not you, it's me.

This whole working-mom-with-kids-in-school-during-the-holidays thing has absolutely kicked my tail. Christmas programs, pajama parties (why? why?), and every type of "exchange" you can possibly participate in have ruled us these last ten days. And there are still two more weeks until Christmas! Eeek! I was complaining chatting with a friend the other day about the craziness of this month, and she smiled at me and said, "Just wait until you have three!"


So, on that front, I haven't posted much lately because we are in one of many waiting periods. For those of you who read my little blog here primarily for the adoption journey, there will be lots of lulls. Long ones. Because there is a lot of waiting in adoption. Some of the waiting is due to things that are in our control, but the majority of the waiting is due to things that are totally outside of our control. Right now, we are waiting on our 797 (immigration) approval from the Department of Homeland Security. Great timing on our part, huh? I'm not sure our immigration approval is real high on their priority list at this point...because, you know, ISIS and all. Our agency says a typical approval takes roughly 90 days, but I'm not sure they took into account the whole global terrorism situation we are dealing with when sharing that estimate with me. I'm hopeful that we will get our approval by the end of January and get our dossier to China in February, but time will tell. 


People ask us constantly, "What is going on with your adoption?" It's hard to keep saying that we are simply waiting for more approvals, but that's the reality of adoption. It's just a long process with lots of i's to dot and t's to cross. Inter-country adoption takes even longer because there are two government entities that both have to approve the adoption, so, here we are, just waiting. The waiting is hard and frustrating at times, especially for a control freak like me, but it's refining at the same time. I'm learning to trust that God's timing is better than my own, and I am doing my best to enjoy the goodness of this holiday season with my two biological kiddos.

It's a strange thing that happens to your heart, though, when you know you have a child waiting for you on the other side of the world. There is a baby that I've never seen, never touched, and haven't named yet that will one day soon call me "mommy." It's hard to focus on the here and now with that kind of realization weighing on me. I find myself wondering what he's doing at various points in the day. Is he asleep? Is he crying? Is someone comforting him? Is he walking yet? How many hugs and kisses has he received today? 

Those unknowns are part of this process. Part of the waiting.

So, we wait. We pray that our child is covered in hugs and kisses and love every day, and we do our best to focus on Carter and Kate. As hard as it is to be present with so much going on, they need that. They deserve it. So, we load up for another trip to Hobby Lobby for, yes, another ornament exchange, we buy ANOTHER glittery reindeer, put another marker on the advent tree, and we continue to wait.

If you find yourself in a "waiting" period like us, I want to encourage you to focus on the present. Maybe you're waiting for that positive pregnancy test or waiting for your baby to finally outgrow the colic or waiting on that job offer that would better provide for your family. Whatever "waiting" period you find yourself in, just remember that you are in a season. And seasons change. The beauty of spring always breaks after a tough winter...but the winter is necessary. Hard, but necessary.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." Ecc 3:1

That is December.
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