Friday, December 19, 2014

Spunky Kids

Just a few more snapshots of my spunky kids these days. Life is always lively and silly!















There's snuggling, glasses-stealing, climbing out of high-chair-ing, and being all around cute. What a blessing it is to watch these two kiddos grow up each day. 

Christmas at the Falls

Tonight we had a fun night! We met Will's parents and brother Evan in Gadsden, AL. We went to dinner, and Israel was thrilled to see his GaGa and Pop. Edith was a little bit of a diva at the restaurant, and reminded us why we don't eat out much. Israel charmed the waitress into letting him wear the Rudolf ears!


We went to Christmas at the Falls in Gadsden, which is a park with a bunch of lights, a train, Santa and some more attractions. We stayed for about an hour and it was really fun!






We loved it so much we rode the train twice!





Our Santa experience was pretty much what I expected. Israel, always the charmer, was happy to sit on his lap while Edith was horrified. I love these pictures because they are a silly snapshot of this season! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Edith: Sixteen Months Old

Dear Edith,

You are now 16 months old! You are at a fun, feisty age my girl! You are into everything. You only sit still when you are very tired or just woke up. You want to explore any nook and cranny, and you love to tinker with things to figure out how they work. You're love light switches and sockets and unplugging the Christmas tree. You know all of your favorite cabinets to play in! You will copy us when we play with toys and when we make silly faces. You love books, stuffed animals, and puzzles. Your favorite spot to play is behind the recliner on a pile of blankets.



The biggest milestone this month was that you had tubes put in your ears after your fifth ear infection! You handled it pretty well, but getting your heart rate taken (they had to put a clip on your toe) was the worst part. You were hilarious when you were drugged! You were given a stuffed bear and it is your newest sidekick. You were giving it medicine out of the dropper and you share your milk with it.



You know that the refrigerator = milk so you will get very dramatic about opening the door when you're thirsty. You love bananas, bread, raisins, blueberries, and grapes the most. You eat all the time and love to snack. When you're not in the mood to sit in your high chair, you will try to climb out. We have to keep a close watch on you!





You can be quite the bully to your brother sometimes. You like to take his glasses off so you can wear them like a necklace. You will sit on him and push him over on his back. Sometimes you pull his hair too. For the most part, he loves the attention and doesn't seem to realize what a pest you are to him! I love watching you two play together when you're being nice!

Before your tube surgery. 
For the most part, you are a very happy girl. You definitely love being at home, and you don't mind your carseat much. You tend to be a bit dramatic when we're out in public, especially in the nursery at church. I think you are more of a homebody. We can't keep socks or shoes on you, especially in the car. You like to throw things out of shopping carts and the stroller. On our walks around the neighborhood I have to watch you because if I'm not paying attention there will be a trail of socks, blankets, pacis and toys behind us. The other day I had a 10 minute search for the Mary from our Little People nativity that you had tossed!


You're taking one or two naps these days, and you sleep a solid 11-12 hours at night. You still have your paci in your crib and in the car. You love bathtime and brushing your teeth. You are Miss Independent and want to walk, climb the stairs, and eat all by yourself.



We are thankful for our spunky girl. You keep us laughing and very aware of you! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ready or Not, we have a Platform

It's really amazing to me the opportunities that have come up recently for our family. At the beginning of November I visited my dad's church and spoke for a few minutes about adoption. (It's the first 5 minutes of the "I have you in my heart" Nov 2 sermon if you want to hear it!) Being an adoption advocate is just a role that happens when you become an adoptive parent. I didn't know that when we signed the papers back in 2010, we would be come spokespeople or a point of reference for others. We just wanted to step out in faith to do what God called us.



I am not one to say that everyone should adopt. Adoption is hard work, and it requires a lot of sacrifice and dying to self. You can't passively adopt and the road is not always easy. There's attachment and cocooning and unexpected issues that come with not knowing health backgrounds or how to fully incorporate your child's birth culture. There's potential for identity issues or emotional trauma. But as I wrote many years ago, the pain is all worth it. Our adoption/parenthood journey has humbled me and made me realize the depth of my need for God.

So what does this have to do with a platform? Well, when you are a conspicuous family, you're going to be an adoption advocate. Because people will have questions! You have the opportunity to talk about your story (whatever parts you want to share) and say "you see this amazing kid? there are millions out there like him, with no mommies or daddies to revel in their cuteness." Our family picture is a glimpse of the potential redemption for millions of orphans who need advocates, moms, dads and caregivers. Not every child is adoptable but many are and many need sponsors or adoptive parents to love and fight for them!

Our second platform is special needs. This platform has come as Israel has been a part of the United Cerebral Palsy center. This summer he was one of the poster children for our local UCP Telethon (read here and here). I'm really thrilled to share that Israel was chosen by the NATIONAL UCP office for their adoption awareness in November and a blog was posted and shared to the whole nation! You can read that blog here ("From an Orphanage in Africa to a Life Without Limits).



If THAT wasn't exciting enough, he was chosen to be the face of the UCP NATIONAL #GivingTuesday campaign!!! His picture was used to promote donations to UCP on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving! It was on the head of their twitter page and their national donation website.





All this to say... we are so humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to speak and advocate for vulnerable people. I never would have known back in 2010 that we would be speaking or writing publicly on behalf of orphans and those with disabilities. It's a platform that we were given and we are grateful that God is writing our story. He has given us the opportunities to share what hope and redemption can be like. We desire that by sharing our story, we will point to the One who writes it and redeems it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CP Diagnosis

After years of advocating and testing, we finally officially have a cerebral palsy diagnosis for Israel. I post this only because I know there is a network of families out there who are walking similar paths. I remember when we were early in our special needs journey and I read everything I could about families with CP or other disabilities. I wanted to have an idea of what to expect or how I could dream for Israel. I specifically remember back in May 2013 when I was knee-deep in research on cerebral palsy because Israel seemed to fit that description. I went through a lot of grief then (and as I mentioned recently, the grief cycle does come back around at times).

This diagnosis was bolstered by our MRI findings in September (read here) and we are not really surprised or saddened by it. We know that God has a big plan for Israel and this label will not limit him at all. He is picking up on new words every day and constantly amazes us at what he is capable of. Cerebral Palsy is a spectrum and no two kids will have the same abilities or challenges just because of the CP label. There are all kinds of CP (Israel is more low tone/hypotonic). We are so proud of our boy. He's so resilient and his story is worth sharing! He constantly points me to the gospel and the hope of redemption.

If you are a family with special needs (especially CP!) I'd love to connect on the journey together! I'm so relieved to finally have something OFFICIAL to document for insurance and future service needs. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Random Fall Pictures


Here are a few fall highlights!

- We visited Will's parents the first weekend in October. We also went to the pumpkin patch this weekend.





- My parents came by for a quick visit before they moved to North Carolina.


- We went to a friend's birthday party at the Red Barn Stables. Israel was too scared to ride this time (we went in February!) but we still had fun. Edie wasn't walking at this point, and she was obsessed with the farm dog! It was a costume party since it was before Halloween, and the kids went on a hayride.






- We also spent some afternoons on the porch. I tried and failed to take a pumpkin picture with Edith. This must have been a gameday because they are in their Auburn gear!







- We had a SUPER FUN college ministry Halloween party. We rented the local train station, had a dance floor and everyone dressed up. It was probably one of my favorite nights in a long time.


My small group!
-Edith enjoyed the full attention of her parents on Israel's school day. She plays dress up nonstop, chases her shadow, and gets lots of snuggles.




It's a full, fun life! 

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