Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

During our trip to Scottsboro, we decided to head home early because Israel was having a bad weekend. On our way out of town, we stopped at a pumpkin patch with Will's parents in an attempt to salvage the weekend and make the most of it. Israel had some...um... fretful moments but thankfully the people on the hayride were very gracious to us!

Israel played on the horse tire swing, in the corn pit (we were the only helicopter parents), saw some of the petting zoo animals, went on a hayride, picked our pumpkins (literally the closest ones to the truck) and got some quality Gaga and Pop spoiling!







Isn't this hilarious?








We came. We saw. We got our pumpkins. Score for the McGees!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Scottsboro Homecoming Parade

Last weekend we went to Will's hometown for his 10 year reunion. But then, Israel ran a fever, had some crazy tantrums and we decided it was best to just head home. So Will didn't get to reunite.

Can I take a moment and say that I married a GOOD LOOKING MAN! :)
But we DID manage to make it to the homecoming parade. Will opted not to ride in his class float. FYI the parade is about 1/2 high school reunion floats and 1/2 girls in pageant dresses riding in convertibles. There were lots of Miss___ (Spanish Club, Drama Club, etc) winners at their high school!


I'm really thankful Israel seemed to enjoy it. We almost didn't go because Israel had just had a huge meltdown, but we decided a change of scenery might do us all some good. Edith didn't seem to care that there was a parade. :)





 The kids and their Pop!


Israel loves our new stroller! :) I'm thankful to be making memories with the kids and that we decided to go afterall. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sometimes You Need Help

The last few weeks have been, well, pretty rough. We're entering new territory with Israel, full of tantrums, 4 new teeth (PLEASE HURRY eye teeth!), and trying to figure out how to discipline this precious boy. It has been confusing and tearful in our house! Plus, grad school for me has been super busy and Will always has a heavy load of school + sermon planning. I also had a breast infection this week that led to flu-like symptoms and Edith has discovered a "witching hour" at night where she just will not get happy!






All that to say, we've needed help, and some people have been so gracious to us. Normally I would try and tackle things on my own and act like we have it together. But we don't have it together, and sometimes you need your community to support you! I'm so thankful for dear friends who have offered help in trying to calm Israel using essential oils, a friend who ran errands for me so I didn't have to get out, and another friend who cleaned our whole downstairs for me while I took a nap!!! God is good and these friends have been blessings to us during the chaos.



I have some posts to put up, but as you read them and we look "picture perfect" know that there is always chaos behind the picture. :) I think it is easy to look at people's lives on social media and only see the joy and not the hard moments that make the joy sweeter. I'm thankful for the chaos because I know it is all gifts! But sometimes you need help, and I'm thankful that the Lord gives grace and the Holy Spirit in perfect portions for us.

PS. Aren't my kids cute? And crazy, but definitely cute.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Lost Weeks

Edith is two months now, which is right about how old Israel was at his referral. I was just rereading old blog posts and came across my two month letter to him. He came to Hannah's Hope at the end of November 2011, just a few short weeks after his birth.




We couldn't believe how much we loved our sweet boy instantly! But we also couldn't believe how much loss could already have occurred for a baby just 7 weeks old. I wish I knew what those "lost weeks" before Hannah's Hope were like for Israel. I trust that they were for Israel's good and that the months that my boy spent in Ethiopia before he came home will be used for God's glory. I ache to have known my Israel then- to have seen his first smile and to have seen him grow from the start. He's mine, he's always been mine in my heart.

But the thing is... those weren't lost weeks for someone else. I think about Israel's birth mom almost every day. His 2nd birthday, and Edith's birth have made me think about his birth mom even more. All she had were those weeks.

The entire first seven weeks of Edith's life, I thought about his birth mom every day. What did she think when he made cooing noises for the first time? How often did he wake up at night? I am so deeply connected to this woman I've never met. We both love our son. His story is shaped by hers.

I'm sure that my entire life, there will be seasons where I ache to know and hug his birth mom even more. Right now is one of those seasons where I wish that I could have an open adoption. I wish that I could sit down with her, look at baby pictures of Israel and comment on how fast the two years have gone. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Was it worth it? Cocooning from a Grandparent Perspective


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This is written by my mom regarding her thoughts on our cocooning process. For more about our cocooning history with our adopted son Israel, check out this link for posts. 

After experiencing five births of previous grandchildren, I must say our experience with cocooning was quite different. We had been told about cocooning before our grandson, Israel, arrived. We agreed to abide by our daughter and son in law’s wishes to not come and visit at first. This in itself was hard as we had waited two long years for Israel. 

We were able to see Israel when he arrived at the airport. When we were later allowed to visit with them, we were told that we were not allowed to reach for him, kiss him, hold him, feed him or love on him as the parents needed to build a special bond with our grandson. Israel needed to look to his parents to meet his needs. This was hard for me because I love being a “hands on” grandparent.

My daughter shared with us that healing needed to take place in Israel’s little heart He was left at an orphanage and then taken from there to his new home. My daughter carried eight month old Israel in an “ergo” baby carrier for hours at a time. I feared her own health would break because she had so little time to rest. 

Was this hard on grandparents? Yes! I wanted to help my daughter. It seemed unnatural to keep my distance from my grandchild. I wanted to lavish love on him. But the result has been remarkable. Today, Israel is the sweetest, happiest, most well adjusted little fellow. I am sure this time of cocooning instilled in him a sense of love and security he needed. There is a sacrifice that comes with cocooning to all involved, but it is well worth it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Shout Out: The Sexton Family

Meet the Sexton Family!




"Cory and I have been married 8 years, and we have two handsome fellas, Chase (8) and Ryland (4). I have always wanted to adopt, but at first Cory was not into the idea. We talked about it on and off for several years, and about two years ago, I started thinking about it again. It seemed like everywhere I went, there it was. There were commercials, and billboards, and adoption stories, and just everywhere I went, there was something about adoption there.
I had been hearing a lot about the Summit church, and it was literally right down the road from our house, so one week I got it in my head, and I told Cory, "We have to go visit it, and it needs to be this weekend." Well, guess what, the sermon was on adoption. I started praying about it because I knew that if it was the right thing for us to do, which I felt in my heart that it was, that God was going to have to convince Cory, because I sure couldn't. After church he said we would talk about it. We did talk, for several weeks. I remember the night he told me that he knew in his heart it was what God was calling us to do. I cried, I was so happy! We started the process about a year and a half ago, and we've been on the waiting list since October 2012. We are doing domestic adoption, and the agency that we're using is primarily for newborns. I can't wait to get our precious baby, and I thank God for his plan for us!"


My main fundraiser is my Etsy store:
We are also doing pieces of the puzzle, which is on my blog ( sextonadoption.blogspot.com ) and also Just Love Coffee https://justlovecoffee.com/about/beneficiary/sextonadoption/

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Edith: Two Months Old

Dear Edie,

Baby girl, time is going too fast. We are so thankful for you! You continue to amaze us with how sweet and easy you are. You are already starting to sleep through the night for 8-10 hour stretches! You are growing fast and are in 3 month clothes. We love doing fashion shows with you because you are absolutely beautiful in everything you put on. As your Nana says, you could wear a potato sack and be cute!

You have started to smile a lot and it melts our hearts. You have the best chubby cheeks and dimples. You're also starting to coo and your sweet voice is precious music to us! We love you!

I'm thrilled that you and your brother Israel are starting to be buddies. You love to look at him, and he has started to smile when you come in the room and even thinks your noises are funny. We try to make sure he is gentle when he pats you but I'm afraid you've gotten a good whack every once in a while... get used to it little sister! :)

I love snuggling you, but we have just started transitioning you to your crib during naps. You are doing great so far, although there are times I wish I could strap your paci to your head because you keep wiggling it out! I'm thankful for my sweet girl because you give me a good excuse to take breaks on my school days to nurse and kiss you. I love nursing you, it has been the sweetest thing. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to do so.

Until you have your 2 month shots, you're staying with me during the church service instead of going to the nursery. I kept Israel with me during the church service until he was over a year old, so I feel like I need to have a few special weeks with you too! I love holding you and giving you a bottle while we worship and hear daddy preach!

We love you so much sweet girl! You're one of my greatest blessings in the world. I'm so thankful for you.

Love,
Mama

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Two Years Old

Dear Israel,

Today you are two years old! It kind of breaks my heart that you are growing up on me. All week I've been sad that you are getting older and that you're not a baby anymore!

You are such a great kid. You make us laugh all the time and you are so silly! You and I have some inside jokes, like how you shake your head when I say "you're funny" and how I can make you smile when you're giving the world's cutest pout. You're hilarious. I love sitting with you at mealtimes because you make the best faces as you eat. You've recently started shaking your head when you don't like something that we try to feed you. Sometimes you continue to eat it, even though you shake your head at each bite! Our battle right now is that you like to throw food off your high chair. I know you understand me when I tell you no, because if I catch you and ask you to leave it on the table or eat it, you will make the right choice. But if I leave you to yourself there is a pile of food all around the floor. You have made so many milestones in the last year. We are incredibly proud of you! I'm so thankful that you are mostly self-feeding now, and that you can drink out of a straw and a sippy cup without handles! Those took a long time to accomplish and I don't want to take it for granted that you have made such progress.

You're still not really talking... well you're always jabbering or singing! You wake up singing and fall asleep singing. It's the sweetest thing to know that you are up because of your sweet voice! You do say "mama" when you're distressed and I'm not around, and you will say "baby" when I ask "Are you my baby?" and you wave your hand at the same time! We're working on sign language but you typically just look at us like we're crazy when we ask you to sign.

You've had a lot of physical therapy over the last year. We recently switched to a new outpatient PT and you seem to like it. I sit in the waiting room and hear you alternate from fussing to singing! You're getting really close to standing up from a sitting position by yourself, you can stand (supported) for a while, and you are starting to bend your knees when we try to make you walk around the room. You can sit indefinitely without falling over, and you are getting stronger on your hands and knees, though you don't like it. When you do tummy time you find a way to flip over, even if it takes a while.

You have made huge progress in making friends and being able to be away from us for a while. I think it has helped a lot that you started school at 18 months. You LOVE LOVE LOVE your teachers at school and they are your favorite people! I hear that they spoil you! You enjoy nursery at church and you have a few friends, like Emma Kate, that you see regularly and get along with. You have had some amazing babysitters that love you, and our neighbor Anna babysat you a lot this summer when mommy needed help! You love your grandparents and even spent a weekend with your Gaga and Pop this summer when mommy was at school. You're getting so big and I'm thankful that you can spend time away from us without having to deal with emotional repercussions anymore! We're proud of you!

Other favorite things include taking walks with your dad, and being outside. You have come a long way in tolerating your carseat, but I think that is because we finally broke down and got a DVD player for the car! You love Elmo and Baby Einstein, and do not have any interest in being introduced to other movies. We've tried Cars, Happy Feet and Toy Story and you were NOT. INTERESTED! Elmo forever! You think it is hilarious when your dad pretends to get hurt and when he bounces balls off of the wall, floor and ceiling!

It has been such a beautiful thing watching you become a big brother. You went from initially being scared and crying when you saw/heard her, to lighting up when she was around. You reach for her often to pat her, and you think it is so funny when she "kisses" you and touches you. You giggle at her when she makes noises. I can't wait to see you guys grow up together and I pray that you are best friends!

We read "Goodnight Moon" every night and you have recently demanded that you sleep with your book! We read "Hey Wake Up!" every morning. I love that you love books and that you help me turn the pages. Our nicknames for you are "Short Stack", "The Stack", "Brother", "Songbird of his generation" and "Is"- although there are times we still call you Biruk too!

Israel, every day we love you more and more and we are so thankful that God saw fit to make us your parents. I've had a heavy heart lately thinking about your birth family and how it was ordained that we would be your parents too. God is faithful and I'm so thankful that out of all the children in the world, you were the one to make us parents and that we get to be yours forever. We are so grateful. You're the best, sweetest, happiest, silliest boy and we are so proud of you. I can't believe you are growing up so fast. We want to treasure every second because we are so incredibly lucky to love you.

Love,
Mama


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trips to the Park

We have had some sunny days in the last few weeks, so we've ventured to the park. Edith slept in her carseat the whole time while Israel got to play and swing!

He wasn't really that excited about the slides.




It's nice to get out of the house every once and a while and do something different!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Daddy's Girl

 It is so sweet watching Edith love her daddy!






I love this man even more every day. So thankful for the way he loves our kids!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekend Highs and Lows

What a weekend! I had quite the range of emotions this weekend. Let's dive in:

HIGH:
-We got to spend a lot of time with some of our favorite Engage JSU college students! From a Sunday lunch with our small group leaders, to band practice and time with some amazing International House students... it was great! We appreciate how they love on our kids so well! As a PK myself, I look forward to my kids being around the church and the students! 

LOW:
-In the process of backing up pictures to my hard drive off of my 2008 MacBook, I managed to permanently delete all my photos from 2011-2013. Thankfully, I had already backed up all of our Ethiopia pictures and Edith's birth pictures. Any pictures that have been on the blog or that I've used to make the kids' Shutterfly books have been saved... but so many pictures are lost forever. This happened first thing Friday morning and the entire day I was in mourning. We tried several recovery programs and couldn't get many pictures back. I've come to terms with it and vow to do major backups REGULARLY!!!!

HIGH:
-Edith started wearing cloth diapers! Now both my kiddos have fluffy bums. We love cloth diapering and love saving $$! I'm thankful my MIL has been so generous to supply most of our diapers for us by shopping at a local store that sells them occasionally! Two kids in diapers never looked so cute!

HIGH/LOW:
-I went to school on Saturday! I have class in Gadsden (about 30-40 minutes away) 4 times this semester, and this was my second time to go for the day. It was Will's first real time with both kids for an extended time by himself. He did great and even managed to work on a sermon during the kids' nap! I'm so thankful that my kids have a great daddy. I'm also glad that I have the opportunity to go back to school right now to pursue my MSW.... but being away from my family is hard! I read this post from another blogger and thought it was a great post for working moms.

HIGH:
-Edith slept through the night! She slept from about 10-5:15 on Friday night and 9:30-7:30 on Saturday night! Sunday night she slept from about 10p-5a again! Woo hoo! I'm so thankful for this girl! Of course I still woke up at 5:30 on Sunday morning! But I was able to get a lot done in that little time... even a quiet silly breakfast with my little man ;)

HIGH/LOW:
-Will and I finished "Freaks and Geeks"-there is only one season and it was fantastic! We're sad it is over!

LOW:
My first baby turns 2 next weekend. And suddenly there has been a switch in him where he goes from perfectly sweet and silly to slightly possessed and crazy. Is this toddlerhood? Why is there so much shrieking and crankiness??

 HIGH:
I've got a great hubby! He put together our new stroller. We settled on the Joovy Ultralight Caboose Sit n Stand. We borrowed a friend's for a few weeks and it works really well for us. I'm able to use it by myself easily and have used it to transport the kids in and out of church and therapy sessions quicky.

What about you? Any big highs/lows for your weekend?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Our Edie Girl

While I'm in the business of posting cute pictures of my kids, here are some of Edith:






WE LOVE OUR GIRL!
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