Thursday, September 27, 2012

Six Month Post Adoption Visit

Today we had our six month post adoption visit with our social worker. Although we haven't been home 6 months yet, the report is due to Ethiopia at our 6 month mark (November 5) so we had to do our visit early!

It was a very easy visit, we just talked about Israel and how he is doing and adjusting. We talked about all of the cute things he is doing and what his routine is. Our social worker agreed with the way we are choosing to be selective about people holding him and about going out too much.

Israel was a ham (as usual) and showed off his clapping skills and big smile for our social worker. He is such a precious baby!

I'm thankful that the Lord has done so much in Israel in the five months that he has been with us; we are so proud of our son and thankful to be his parents.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Perfect Weekend

Last weekend was one of those Hallmark Card types of weekends- where things just seem to be perfect. Now, it wasn't PERFECT perfect, we all had our moments, but there were some definite highlights!

For starters, we put together the swingset we (and Israel's grandparents) bought for his first birthday. Israel's party is in two weeks and this was our only opportunity to set it up before then, due to some busy days before his party. This ended up being quite the ordeal because of an underground hive of bees that swarmed our swingset building area and ended up stinging Will twice! After a day of slow work, an eventful gasoline torching of the bees, and another workday later, it was finally set up and ready to play!

Israel LOVES his swing and was cracking up when Will was on the swing next to him. Basically anything that Will does makes Israel laugh... I try not to be jealous but I wish I was as funny!

Other activities included the purchase and upgrade (thanks spraypaint) of 4 chairs for the back patio. Our neighbors gave us a table last year but we didn't have any chairs yet- I have been on the hunt but was waiting for end of summer sales. At a yard sale Friday I found these chairs for $10 total and spray painted them a happy green! The new patio furniture + the swingset made for an outdoor kind of weekend. Which was even more pleasant because of the gorgeous weather!

I made 3 batches of "baby food" that is actually first foods for little ones who are beginning to self feed with adult foods (thanks Kasi for the recipes!): Chicken and Apple Balls, Tomato & Cheese Mini Quiches, and Carrot & Cheese Mini Muffins. Israel loved them. I may post the recipes if anyone is interested??

I also am up to 25 minutes of running with couch to five k. I feel very accomplished!

We are also celebrating the arrival of two bottom teeth (see below). 

Most of the pictures of Israel that I take are blurry because he is always clapping or playing with his hands.

I also got TWO outings with girl friends... without my sidekick! It was nice for some fun, not distracted time with friends. And I'm also spoiled by my husband who enjoyed his daddy time while I got to go out.

I need to shout report that we have completed one week of the "Sleep Sense" sleep training program (after the recommendation of fellow AGCI adoptive mamas) and it has been AMAZING!!!! I am a new woman. Maybe that's why I can type "perfect!" instead of "perfe-zzzzzzz" as I fall asleep at my computer. Israel isn't 100% sleeping through the night, but when he does wake up, he is HAPPY and he knows how to self soothe himself back to sleep. Hallelujah! Naps are still a work in progress, and I'm wrestling with changing him to one nap in the afternoon. The problem would be that he would be way too tired for his 11 am physical therapy appointments, so we'll see.

PS- do you like reading these posts? Not really adoption related, but just "life" stuff? I don't know why, but I get insecure about posting non-adoption related updates.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stay at Home Mom

Stay at home mom. Despite what you may think, this was not always my goal in life. In fact, I don't know if I see it as my "forever" job still. I know the topic of working in and out of the home is a big, controversial subject, and I do not intend to add any fuel to the fire of it- this is just my inner struggle being laid out there!

 I'm from a big family, and I've always known that I wanted lots of kiddos too. Both my mom and Will's mom were/are homemakers, as are my two sisters. You don't have to tell me about the impact of a very available mama is to a kid- I saw it in my life (and my mom was very involved in her kids lives, as well as different ministries in our church).

I think one of the "issues" for me as a homemaker is pride. I have a degree, and I enjoy working. I love accomplishing tasks and having a "purpose." When someone asks "what do you do?" I want to have a good answer. But when I'm thinking about that, it is completely separate from my mind as a mother. You see, I cannot even bring myself to let friends hold Israel, so how could I possibly hand him over to a daycare? I know that for Israel right now, his needs are that his mom and dad are sole caregivers.

When I dream about five to ten years in the future, I pray that there are LOTS more babies (adopted and/or bio) in it (I tell Will that we are going to have 100 kids!). Of course in that dream, I am the hands-on mama who is caring and equipping each of them, meeting their special needs and finding a balance between marriage and ministry too! I want to be the one making all of the memories with my kiddos. I want to be available to take them to physical therapy, or soccer practice, or whatever.

I'm NOT saying that you can't be a working mom and be available. I'm just saying, I don't know how I would do it. When we lived in Raleigh I worked full time, Will was in a ministry position, we were very involved in our church, and we had NO free time. Almost every night was busy and it was rare for us to just "be" together. I had to cram all of my homemaking chores, small group, crafting, time with Will, etc, into my weekends and nights. And it was exhausting. I can't imagine doing all of those things PLUS caring for my 100 kiddos, and doing it well. In fact, since moving to Alabama Will and I have been very intentional to protect our nights and weekends so that we don't get so busy again.

I think another factor for me is that I need to remember my priorities. Having a career isn't really a priority for me, because I know that overall, my "purpose" here is to share the gospel and live missionally. That can certainly be done in a work environment (I have former coworkers who read this blog and I hope that the Lord was gracious to allow me to do that there). But my priority, and primary mission is to my husband and children. My marriage to Will is a picture of the gospel- when I submit to him and honor him, God gets glory! When I raise my 100 kiddos (ok let's just start with Israel) then my charge is to train them to know and love God. Others will be able to look on and see what God is doing in our lives. Will reminds me how counter cultural it is for women to stay home: it shows that our primary investment is in our children and it is worth the sacrifices.

So what's the verdict? For now, I'm exactly where I should be. I'm investing in my boy who has some emotional and physical needs that require lots of attention. I'm supporting my husband through ministry and school - making his burdens at home light so he can be 100% husband & dad when he walks through the door. I'm using my task-oriented skills to manage my home, maintain a budget, and instruct my son. I am using my extra time to invest in the lives of college students here and to disciple girls because I have the time in my day to do so.

I'm very, very thankful and honored that the Lord has allowed for me to be in this position during this season. I feel so grateful that Will believes so strongly that I am doing a purposeful job and he is willing to make sacrifices for me to be here. I'm thankful for the most precious son in the world, who makes it a joy to get up and serve every day. I'm thankful for a legacy of women who have selflessly served and laid down their lives and careers to invest in their children and make the gospel known in their homes.

I hope this post does not come across offensive to anyone; I'm sure there are women who desire to stay home but can't and there are some who are better moms by going to work everyday! For me and my family- this is what is best for right now.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Things we are working on...

Let me begin this post by saying I am NOT wishing away Israel's baby stage. We missed out on almost 7 months of his babyness and we are certainly soaking in every moment of footie pajamas, snuggles, and infancy that we can.

But Israel is almost (gasp) 12 months. Ugh. One year old, is it possible? I love it and hate it. Love celebrating milestones and hate that time goes so fast!

Here are a few things we are working on to make Israel a bit more independent and ready for toddlerhood:

1. Solid foods. This is fun! Love trying out new things he can eat, especially with the impending arrival of his new front teeth!

2. Self feeding. Including holding his bottle and picking up any foods. Bring on the mess.

3. Sleeping habits. Lord help us. If you've been reading the blog for a while you may remember that Israel hasn't ever been a good sleeper. I'm done with waking 4-5 times a night! Well, done when Israel says I am. Ha. We are trying a new, gentle sleep training program and I'm praying/pleading/begging for it to work. I am a different woman without sleep. I need it. Israel needs it.

4. Other motor skill milestones. We are continuing physical therapy 2-3 times per week. We are seeing small progress and hoping for more!

We love being Israel's parents and we are excited and thankful that we get to teach and care for him!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rooted in Love

I am so, so excited for my friend Laura as she begins a new ministry here in Alabama! Laura is a fellow AGCI Ethiopia mama, one of my Created for Care roomies last year, and a local friend (she is in Gadsden, AL). Laura recently had a vision to help support some amazing ministries that work hard to support workers and orphans in Africa. She is now doing "house parties" to sell these goods. The amazing thing is that you don't have to guess if you will like the stuff based on a catalog or website, you can touch and feel and immediately take home what you like!

Here is an excerpt from Laura's blog:

"Rooted in Love partners with gospel-centered fair trade organizations to provide meaningful shopping opportunities to women locally, and to support and encourage families worldwide. Our shopping experiences are provided through home parties and local craft shows.

Meet our partners:

1. Back to Africa - jewelry handcrafted in Kenya & Uganda

2. Connected in Hope - scarves handcrafted in Mt. Entoto, Ethiopia

3. Tukula - bags and headwraps handcrafted in Jinja, Uganda

4. Ergon Handicrafts - cards and journals handcrafted in Delhi, India

All these organizations offer the ability to purchase their goods online - which is great! Unfortunately, that only reaches a certain population of shoppers. Rooted In Love has a passion to increase the market for these products all while "telling the story of these ministries." A Rooted In Love home party offers you the opportunity to hold these items, try them on, purchase, and take them home with you immediately! We do not have catalogs or order forms, all of our inventory travels with us to your home, and you leave with your items. Our home parties also make for a fun and meaningful girls night out!

Reasons/Excuses/Opportunities to have a party:
1. Offer your friends a meaningful shopping experience and give them the chance to "give twice"
2. A birthday celebration - Tired of eating out every year for your birthday? Host a Rooted In Love party for your friends.
3. A church women's ministry event, Home Group, or Sunday School party
4. A holiday shopping party - before Christmas or Valentine's Day
5. A simple desire to join us in our effort to share the story of these ministries

We don't boast great hostess incentives, we are just looking for people who have a passion for the gospel and the nations. The church, as a body of believers, is often described as a nation within the nations.  We believe that Rooted In Love and its partner ministries connect believers in the US with believers all over the world. As you see from the scripture in Ephesians, Christ's love is not limited to certain areas. His love is wide, long, high, and deep. It's available to ALL who call on His name, and it is often presented in many different ways.

We are brand new and exploring our opportunities. The more home parties we have, the more we are able to invest back into these ministries and hopefully expand our reach. Our vision extends to include future partnerships with local ministries as well!

 Here are a few pics of our display:"

I'm hosting a party here in Jacksonville, AL on Sunday October 21 to get a head start o Christmas gifts (Email/message if you want to come!). If you are interested in booking a party contact Laura at llswann @ ! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

In a Span of 5 Minutes

Sometimes I wonder what to post about now that Israel is home. Do you care to read the silly details? The random pictures? I feel like 90% of this blog was anticipation of his arrival and now that he's home I wonder what keeps you here!

The other day Israel was in a particularly silly mood and I snapped these pictures within about 5 minutes. Check out his crazy expressions- these are in order of when I took them!

We love this kid- he is the best!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eleven Months Old!

Dear Israel,

Today you are eleven months old! Lately I have been a bit emotional thinking about how you are approaching your first birthday. I just want to freeze time and keep you as a baby forever! Then again, it would be nice to hear what you are saying when you babble all the time, and it would be nice to not have to tote you around everywhere (although I'm sure I'll miss it) because you're getting heavy! I just feel like every day is not enough- I want more of you! I'm so thankful that we are your parents forever, because we love you so much and just want to know you and pour into you so much!

This month you have changed so much. You have started to bang toys together, and you are not always crying 100% of the time during your PT appointments. You are getting pretty good at tummy time and will even put pressure on your arms and hands sometimes. You are starting to roll over, which is awesome in one way but kind of stinks in another. Don't get me wrong, it is AMAZING to see you finally make some developmental progress and to see the fruit of those hard physical therapy appointments! But naptimes and nighttime has become quite the challenge because you sleep on your stomach, and you now know how to roll over onto your back so you can play! There are many times I wake up hearing you giggle on the baby monitor at 3 am. I will go in there, flip you over, pat your back until you pretend you are asleep... but when I go back to bed you flip over to play again! What am I supposed to do with that, son?!?

Other milestones: You have tried a few table foods that aren't pureed and you ALWAYS make this really sad face and hold your mouth open (sometimes the food falls out), refusing to shut it, because you don't like trying new things. Sometimes you end up liking it (chicken casserole) and sometimes I never have any success in getting you to swallow anything (black beans). We'll keep trying! You enjoy your sippy cup when you get the hang of it, but you're not holding it at all. It's a form of entertainment for you though!

Just this week your first tooth started coming in! You have been gnawing on your fist for quite a while so we are glad that you are finally getting teeth.

You are still taking 2-3 naps per day, although it has become harder to get you to sleep some days! You also are no longer swaddled at night, and you sleep on your stomach. You had a few nights where you slept almost the whole night, but those were short-lived before you started waking up 3-5 times again. We've tried a few times to wean you from your middle of the night bottle but sometimes we cave and give it to you anyways.

Your favorite songs are "If you're happy and you know it" and "The itsy bitsy spider." You still love your singing puppy and your hands, but you also like these small toy balls that rattle.

We love you precious boy. You bring so much joy to us!



Monday, September 10, 2012

Lazy Mama

Ok this is not comfortable to write... but in full disclosure I suppose it is healthy to put my junk out here for accountability purposes.

I'm not the mom, wife & Christ follower that I desire to be.

And I want to change that! Now, first of all let me say that there is a reason for my recent slump: LAZINESS! I have not been disciplined for way too long. And I feel weary/ exhausted. Because I have been relying on my OWN strength, and not the Lord's. And I have had my priorities all messed up.

Let's look at a few areas, shall we?

1. Physical Health. I know I did not technically carry my baby, but I think I did in fact gain some "adoption babyweight" from all the stress eating I did. One thing I'm starting to do to counter this is running. I'm in week 5 of "Couch2FiveK", which I completed last year so I know I can do it! Will is determined to keep me in shape this time, and is already planning my race schedule, ha! I'm so thankful for him though- he even got us an amazing jogging stroller so it is much easier for Israel and I to go running. Israel loves being outside, and I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after each little workout.

2. Spiritual Health. I have been trying to draw on my own "fruit" without accessing the fruit of the spirit, if you know what I mean. I'm hoping to counter this by reminding myself of the gospel (Christ has accomplished everything that I need by the cross + there is nothing I could do to remove myself from His good standing, because my good standing comes from Jesus + God will supply everything I need if I just ask), memorizing more scripture so I can recall the Truth in the dark times, and remembering to pray more! Of course I will fail again and again, but thankfully in my weakness, Christ is made strong!

3. Community Health. I have been a bit lonely lately and I think that has to do with me not reaching out for community. I'm really excited that we are starting a new small group this week for couples, and I'm also beginning a study with my college girls. I'm hoping it provides the transparency + accountability + community that I desperately need right now! Many times the days seem to be long and quiet (well not when Israel's awake ha!) and I need to remind myself to just pick up the phone, call my friends, head to the park, etc. This extrovert needs friendship in a tangible way.

So here's to getting over laziness and insecurity! Who's with me?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Because it's been a while since I've posted pictures...

Here's our little man... getting bigger and stronger every day!

With his favorite puppy!

Yep... we're still smitten with this handsome kid! He's so silly and his personality just grows every day. He's LOUD and most of the pictures I've taken involve him with a wide mouth because he's always talking or yelling! We love it!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Favorite Things (6-9 Months)

I've gotten a few requests for some of my favorite baby things we've had. I figure this will change as Israel grows, so here are a few of my favorite things while he was 6-9 months old. During this season he was just beginning to sit up, and wasn't crawling or being mobile.

1. Ergo. I also have a Moby and a Seven Slings but the Ergo was the easiest and best support for him at this stage. He was in the Ergo DAILY. It was great for building attachment and allowing us to go out in public (grocery store, church, etc) without him being too overwhelmed because I was so close.

2. Video Baby Monitor. We have a great one- Summer brand - and it makes it so much easier to not guess at whether or not every little noise was him actually being awake or just tossing a bit.

3. Cloth Diapers and all that cloth diaper goodness. I dedicated a whole post to it- read that here. I hate, hate, hate it when we have to use disposables. Cloth is better.

4. Something to keep him entertained when he wasn't quite sitting up yet. Aka: bouncy seat, exersaucer, bumbo... He doesn't really use these anymore but for the first 2 months of his residence here, these were LIFESAVERS when I needed to shower or be productive and I wasn't wearing him. He used these for such a brief period, and I'm thankful that all were given/loaned to us and we didn't have to spend money on them. He didn't necessarily need all 3- so if you are looking to save space/money just invest in one of them!

5. Noise machine and his Baby Einstein cd. Makes traveling easy because he would sleep anywhere as long as the ocean could be lulling him to sleep :)

6. Travel high chair. We were on the road a few times and this was really handy!

Israel didn't need a lot of toys during this season- the same few blocks/balls kept him entertained, mainly because his hands were more appealing to him!

I would say to other first-time parents to non-newborns: start simple! The best thing for baby is contact with mom & dad, not necessarily all the frills and toys. Save your gift cards and get stuff that you later find out you REALLY need, or just borrow stuff!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On the Hard Days

It would be misleading if I represented our family life in only the high points: the snuggles, the cuteness, the giggles, the progress. Of course we have hard moments, and there are times when Israel gets fussy for no reason or he won't sleep all night, and I just want to shut him in his nursery and not deal with it. And then I'm reminded that I have a husband who is my helper and support- I can't imagine how single moms do it and I honor you for being so strong! Thankfully the Lord is gracious to me and has shown me how selfish I am on a daily basis. I need Jesus, people. I need the Lord to give me everlasting patience and grace to show my son, just like Christ has done for me.

But even in the really hard moments, the times when I'm rocking Israel for hours in the middle of the night, the times when I catch his throw up in my hand or get peed on.... I wouldn't trade it.

You see, last year I was in a different season. It was harder. The weight of my empty arms hurt worse. The sleeplessness while wondering where my baby was and who was caring for him... that was a sleeplessness that haunted me. The thought of someone else caring for my son when he was sick and not me- that made me so sad. The days where I am waiting for adult conversation are much easier than the months when I was staring at my phone waiting for a referral.

And although I'm SO SO SO grateful to now have my dreams fulfilled in this precious boy, I know so many of you are still in that hard season. And I think of you every day. I think of my friends who would gladly rock my baby boy at 3 am, or would listen to a fussy baby if it was theirs. I'm so thankful to have gone through that season so that I can appreciate this one even more. I will not take these moments for granted.

Adoption (and motherhood!) is hard. But it is also so refining and sanctifying and I am so grateful to the Lord for allowing me to have experienced the good and the hard- because I am better for it.

Praying for those of you in a hard season today.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Shout Out: Meet Andrea & Frank!

Meet Andrea, Frank, and their beautiful daughter Sophia!

I "met" Andrea online a few years ago when she graciously supported our adoption by buying some of my handmade items online. Andrea was in the process of adopting their adorable daughter from the DRC, and they are headed back to adopt again!

Andrea has started crafting some super cute ornaments for their adoption. As we all know, Christmas seems to sneak up on us and this would be a great gift idea!

Her Etsy shop link is:

Their WePay shop link is:

Or if people just want to donate, they can do so at our WePay shop:

Please consider supporting this family's adoption! If you are a fundraising family interested in getting a "shout out" here on the blog, check out this post for details.
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