Saturday, October 22, 2016

Israel birthday

Israel turned 5 on October 12. The night before he snuggled us on the couch and learned how to kind-of give kisses as we turned our cheeks to his lips. It was such a sweet moment. He then fell asleep in between us at 6:45.

On Israel's birthday morning he opened his presents and had a donut from our local bakery (you will see a bakery theme in today's post, ha!).

Israel didn't have school on his birthday (it was a Jewish holiday). So we had a day at home to celebrate with his favorite things.


I took the kids to the park (by myself, which I paid for later with some major back pains!!).


After the park, we stopped by the bakery for a cookie.


We got cupcakes from our local bakery for Edith and Israel to enjoy. Edith showed him how to blow out the candle!


Will's parents sent us a gift card to Burger King for Israel to get some birthday fries. He loved it and his crown! We also had a New York moment with a lady with mental health issues who came in and yelled at everyone in the restaurant, which made us hurry and leave. Ha!


The celebration didn't stop on his birthday! Israel got a balloon the next day from his school. We also sent cupcakes and I think they had a little party during snacktime!


So thankful for our big, growing boy. Love celebrating him and seeing his joy.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Israel is 5!

Dear Israel,

You are FIVE years old and so very big. This has been a remarkable year for you, buddy. You've grown and flourished in ways that we only hoped for! Last November you started crawling, you have mastered pulling up to stand and climbing on things, and you took your first unassisted steps (up to 20 at a time) this June. You are no longer using a walker for assistance and walk holding an adult's hand at school all the time. You are getting stronger at walking up the stairs and becoming more confident walking down them too. Your physical limitations are shrinking, buddy!

You love music or "mick" as you call it. We have a CD player in your room with kids worship in it, and you want it on all the time. You're slowly picking up on the words and you will belt a "heart!", "Keys!" (keys = king), etc. You love your guitar and when daddy plays his guitar for you. Over the past year you have been OBSESSED with a few songs that you demand to hear/watch on repeat. Those have included God's Great Dance Floor, Mumford and Son's "Babel", "Uptown Funk", Taylor Alexander's "Lifter of my Shame," "Winter Sound" by this one band I can't remember. You would be obsessed with these songs to where we had them all memorized and daydreamed about you liking another song.

Speaking of music, you like the "Mother Goose Club" on Netflix and will sing along to the nursery rhymes. Again, you belt out the words you know which is so cute!! Your favorite songs are still Itsy Bitsy Spider and now "Where is Pointer?" which you proudly show off your hand and make it disappear.

This last year we've had some highs and lows with your sleeping. Last fall was the absolute worst your sleeping has ever been. You had major night terrors/ screaming fits for HOURS in the middle of the night. We finally did a sleep study and you gained three new diagnoses: sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, and psychophysiological insomnia. Phew. That whole process at least validated our concerns that something wasn't right and we figured out a new night-time medicine that worked for you in general. You still have seasonal (fall) sleeping issues and the last couple of nights you've been up in the middle of the night needing comfort. I think that is more adoption-trauma- related and at least we know it is seasonal.

You don't take naps at school so you are very tired at night. You're ready for bed by 7 pm! On the weekends sometimes you take short naps, and there was a few weeks this summer when we would snuggle three-deep on "mama's bed" and take an hour long nap that refreshed all of  us. You and Edith loved jumping on the bed before we finally would say "lay down!!' and stifle giggles until everybody fell asleep. Those were the sweetest moments for me and I loved looking over at my two babies snuggled up next to each other resting.

We can tell a huge difference in your behavior when you're rested, as you are less agitated and more calm. Sometimes going on outings with you is completely unpredictable, and if you're rested then it makes everything better.


You are still the friendliest kid ever. You say "hi" to people as we walk down the street and you love to give hugs. You are a social kid and love "friends." If our doorbell buzzes, you shout "Friends!" or "Dada!" if it's time for him to come home from work. You're always very disappointed if it was just the mailman!

You LOVE to Facetime family and friends. You'll bring me the phone and ask for specific people. If someone has a dog or at any point had a dog at their house, you will ask about it again and again.


You thrived at school last year in pre-K and you're already owning your new kindergarten. Last year I would receive text updates from your therapists about how awesome you were doing and this year in your notebook your teacher said that the entire school has fallen in love with you. When I've come to visit your new school, everyone knows you and you light up at the attention. This kindergarten year you're getting 4 PT, 4 OT, and 4 ST sessions per week. You also have a one-on-one para to help you throughout the school day. You are in a small special-ed school and there are probably more adults than teachers in your classroom! The first day of school you were the only kid in your class, and when I came to the school to do some registration paperwork, you were surrounded by 5 adults and I knew it was probably the best day of your life. You love adult attention!


You LOVE the bus!


You and Edith are still best buddies. You know how to pick on each other in the most specific ways (true siblings!!). One way for you to really make her mad is if you say "It's mine!" and it doesn't have to be about anything in particular- it just makes her SO mad. If she asks if you want to do something, you generally reply with "okay!" and you follow her. If she's in a room, you're probably in there with her. You guys know how to make big messes together. She loves to give you affection with hugs and kisses, and you love receiving it. It makes me so happy to have the sweet moments of you guys loving each other, that in general it drowns out the moments where you guys just pester each other. In the stroller if you're bugging each other, either I or Edith will pull down the shade to separate you two.


I think parenting you has gotten easier and more challenging. You are heavier now and thus harder to carry, which means we need you to be more independent. You're still strong-willed though and there are days where you will "limp noodle" and not help us out at all when we are trying to get you to walk.

Through the help of medical professionals over the years, at least we can identify what some of your challenges are, which has helped us feel supported and given us information on how to help you. I think we're at the best place possible for you to have the support team you need regarding therapies and school.

All in all, Israel, it is a joy and honor to be your parent. You love more deeply and forgive quicker than anyone I know. You bring us to our knees in prayer and remind us that we can't do this parenting gig alone! You have the biggest team of cheerleaders around the world. We post a picture or prayer request about you and there are people everywhere who are rooting for you to succeed.

There are many days that the weight of your adoption is heavy on my heart. How different your life would be if you were in Ethiopia. I don't take for granted the honor it is to raise you, buddy. You are the biggest example of grace to me. When I  doubt my ability to parent you, I recall God's faithfulness and specific ways that he moved to make YOU my son. It's truly amazing and we know that God is working in all of these things - our challenges, limitations, and perseverance - to make us more like Him and give Him glory.

We love you little man and can't wait to see your story continue to unfold.

Love, Mama

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sometimes Mama Needs a Trip

Last October, I took a trip to North Carolina by myself and spent a few days with my family, sans kids. It was a perfect refreshment for me during a busy season, and was my first return "south" after moving to New York. This fall has been even more crazy, and with a baby on the way, I knew that my opportunities to do things for myself was about to be even more limited. When Will was pulling up his calendar one day to talk about the things he had going on in October, I went ahead and asked him to pull up flights for me to have a sanity break trip too!

Just like last year, I flew down on Thursday morning and returned Saturday night.

Here I am - ALONE!

My mama met me at the Charlotte airport and we immediately went to lunch at Olive Garden (I had a major craving on the airplane). I almost got my sassy New York side when they didn't bring out our breadsticks, ha. Mom and the waiter kept exchanging pictures of their grandkids. It was pretty hilarious.

Mom and I did a little shopping and then met Dad for dinner. Afterwards, I went to visit my favorite Alexanders... all of them! These guys were all a vital part of our ministry experience in Alabama, and they now live in North Carolina and Florida. We hadn't seen Taylor and Ashley since their wedding last year. Sarah and Justin came and visited us earlier this year, and they had a baby only a week or so before this trip. I was so thankful to get an opportunity to love on Titus, squeeze everybody and see our friends! It was refreshing to be with dear friends who have meant so much to us.


Friday Morning Sarah and baby Evelyn came over and Sarah took some maternity photos for me (see them here).


We had pedicures and giggled a lot.



After lunch, Mom, Rachel and I went to Jump Off Rock and enjoyed the mountain view!

Friday afternoon I also had the pleasure of sitting on the porch with my childhood best friend, Joanna. She came in town that weekend to see her family too, and we were able to chat and giggle about life updates and just enjoy our lifelong friendship. It was so refreshing!

Saturday morning was relaxing. I read on the porch, coffee in hand. Mama and I tried to find shoes to fit my swollen feet (no success).


We had coffee with my aunt Melanie and grandmother on their porch with a gorgeous view of the mountains. It was a really sweet visit that I know I'll be thankful for as my grandmother ages.


Finally, mama dropped me off at the airport and I had a nice flight back, chatting with a new friend the whole way.

It was a refreshing trip in so many ways. It was so nice to relax, to feel known and cared for. There's just something wonderful about time with family.  

Maternity Photos by Sarah Siak

 My sister Sarah is a photographer, and she took these photos for me on a recent trip when I went to North Carolina. She also took my maternity photos with Edith, and has taken most of the family photos that we have had over the years!

I realize I look pretty serious in most of these, and I am definitely overjoyed at the thought and anticipation of this sweet gift! I just have a hard time taking solo shots, ha! It's so awkward.

We were going to meet my other sister Rachel in downtown Hendersonville, so I changed clothes and we snapped these downtown!

These are my favorite. Maybe it's because of the profile, coloring, or that I can't critique my facial expressions!

I'm so thankful that my sister bestowed her gifts on me so that I can have beautiful documentation of this little lady baby growing in my belly! I know I'm only going to get bigger and more swollen so it's nice to have these photos before I just look and feel absolutely miserable :)

These were taken when I was 25 weeks!
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