Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day!!

It is a rare treat to get ANY snow in Alabama, let alone several inches! Tuesday we were blessed with a full day of snow! I stared out the window for most of the day, just so excited! I grew up in North Carolina and remember lots of snow days growing up! It's so fun to share such a special treat with my kids!














Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Breaking Point & A Perspective Change

"How do you do it?" // "I don't know how you do it." Those are things I hear a lot, because Will and I are in a busy, crazy season. I don't want to give off the air that I have things together, because I really don't!

Will was gone for just under two weeks in January, and it was the same time that I started my internship, Edie started daycare, and my classes started. It was two long weeks and I ended up going to visit my parents over the weekend because I needed help and I had to find a way to study. There were some gracious people who helped out throughout the time period, but at the end of it, I was exhausted!

The day after Will returned, I went to work and left him with the kids all day. Then the next week started with MLK Holiday and I was left to find a way to work the lost hours of MLK day during the week. While juggling classwork, therapy, babies who sleep on opposite schedules (despite all attempts to get them to nap at the same time), etc. It was a long week and Will and I were both stretched thin and stressed.

That Thursday morning as I left for work, we got in a petty fight over something silly and I ended up calling Will sobbing. I couldn't do it anymore! I was at a breaking point. I needed time to be alone, process my thoughts, and refresh!

Thankfully my gracious husband granted my request and gave me a few hours on Saturday to spend alone. I went to the mall, spent some gift cards, and then went to a coffee shop for a while. I sat down and journaled everything that I could think of (journaling is not a habit I keep up). I wrote things down, made lists, tried to expel every worry and thought from my brain in search of relief. I wanted to feel an exhale of the craziness.

And yet... it wasn't happening! I made a list of my goals for the year and the desires and fears I had. Those goals included graduating with my MSW, passing the licensure exam, teaching Israel to walk, being a better mom, getting more involved with our ministry, and other "noble" goals.

I flipped through my Bible and came to Isaiah 61.  I was reminded of my true purposes for this year. God has called me to be a part of something much bigger than my petty to-do list!

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.




The Lord's to-do list include:
proclaiming good news to the poor
binding the brokenhearted
proclaiming freedom for the captives
releasing prisoners from darkness
comforting those who mourn
give beauty for ashes

Being reminded of this was exactly what I needed for that great "exhale" I desired. It's not about me. The things the Lord has ordained for me this year will align with HIS purposes. He will use my grad school, working, kids being in daycare, etc. to bring the good news to the poor, to comfort others, to give praise instead of despair! When I put all of my "to do" list into the perspective of God's plan, it shifts everything.

So... is my breaking point over? Well, I'm still in the same circumstances, but my perspective has been refreshed. I would love to look back at this season and say that we were busy planting "oaks of righteousness" and that what we reap won't be degrees or physical milestones, but a display of God's splendor. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Giveaway: Valentines Countdown from A Faithfulness Told

Hi friends! Are you like me, and you see super cute stuff online (blogs or Pinterest) and wish that you had the time or resources to make such cuteness appear in your house, but it just never happens???


My friend Courtney is one of those super moms who manages to craft and be creative while staying home with her (precious) son A! She blogs over at A Faithfulness Told and has been using her design skills to raise money for their second (domestic) adoption. We walked through the Ethiopia adoption process together and she is a dear friend to me!




Courtney is always coming up with awesome things and she has some amazing printables in her shop, as well as custom design services (seriously, check out her work! It's so professional!). She recently created a Valentine's printable (and I saw an Easter printable too! Amazing!) but also offers it in a printed package complete with twine and clips. That sounds perfect for busy/lazy girls like me who would love something festive but don't have the energy to make it happen. I could see this in a college dorm or in a kitchen as a fun reminder each morning!

Lucky for one of you... we're doing a giveaway! One lucky winner gets the printed, packaged countdown! Enter below, the winner will be announced Monday!

Also, check out some of the awesome printables offered by A Faithfulness Told design!





If you just want to go ahead and buy the countdown, its $12 for the printable version or $25 for the printed and packaged version! Thanks for supporting Courtney and her family as they adopt their second child!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(A rafflecopter giveaway requires that you visit http://yestoadoption.blogspot.com to enter)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

4.5 Months: A Reminder

When Edith turned four months, that ache in my heart happened again. This was another milemarker in our relationship with Israel. When he was 4.5 months, we met him in Ethiopia and went to court. It was at this time that we finally felt the weight of our son in our arms, got to smell him, touch his soft curls, and kiss him for the first time. When he was 4.5 months old, we got to witness first hand the gift that we had been given, and got to enter into his world at Hannah's Hope where all that was familiar to him was. We were able to learn his routine and smell his smells and hear his sounds.

I think about how hard it would be if Edith were taken from me and given to someone else right now. Already, when I'm leaving her at daycare or with a babysitter, I leave instructions on how she likes to be held or how she goes to sleep. I know exactly how to make her smile and have months of memories of rocking her, wearing her, and staring at her. I have been the primary caregiver, and I know her best. Even if someone else took her and raised her from this point- there would be a piece of her and me that would be deeply imprinted in these first five months. She knows my voice and my touch and will melt in my arms after being fidgety in someone else's.

Leaving Israel in Ethiopia was the darkest day of my life. Gosh, I still tear up thinking about it. But bringing him home was not easy for him. I am reminded of the many losses for Israel. He was known by several special mothers, and had a firm routine by the time we visited him at Hannah's Hope. By five months old, he had seen so many changes in his precious life. It's not right! It's not how its supposed to be. I'm so thankful that he is in our family now, but I mourn the loss of those months. I mourn that we didn't see him start to smile or coo for the first time. I mourn that he didn't get to snuggle with us in the bed at night or that I didn't get to breastfeed him. Having Edith has reminded me of the losses that he has experienced. I wish that his story involved one family from the start, and that he never had to be in an orphanage. I'm so thankful he's mine and I'm praying for God's grace to heal all those hurts that those first months caused.

I think about his birth mom, and how much she has missed. I have said before and I'll always wish that I could have an open adoption where she is a part of his life. He's the best boy in the world, and I know she would be so proud to see how far he's come.

I'm so thankful for Edith too. I'm blessed to have a little one that reminds me of how special her brother is and how I can't forget his unique story. It's easy to forget that he wasn't always with us. I hope I always remember, grieve, and have hope for the story that was written for Israel. Our little one was Ethiopian first and his story is much bigger than us.



Two of my favorite pictures from our first trip to Ethiopia. To read more about that trip, click here. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Edith: Five Months Old

Dear Edie girl,

You are five months old!! Time is just happening way too fast for me. You are so big now. You're wearing 6 month clothes and size 2 diapers. You love to stand with help, and your favorite activity is playing in the Johnny Jump Up. You roll over from tummy to back constantly and are almost rolling over from back to front. You maneuver around on your playmat to face different directions.


You love your brother and light up when you see him! You also enjoy your toys and chewing on them. You laugh easily and love to be thrown in the air and you love kisses! Your chubby, dimply cheeks are the best ever. You love bath time and get very quiet when you're in the bath.


This month I tried to sleep train you again. You're really an easy baby but you just miss me during the middle of the night! It was unsuccessful because I'm a sissy and can't handle you crying. We'll try again when I have tougher skin! In the mean time, you and I get up to nurse around 2-4 times a night! Whew! You can tell that you love to eat by those amazing leg rolls you are rocking! You're still in a pack and play in our room at night, and sometimes you end up in our bed. Ok, let's be honest... at least some point every night you end up in our bed. You're only little once, and you manage to take up the most room in the bed because I don't want any blankets or pillows near you!


tried cereal one night when you were looking so desperately at me while I fed your brother. You didn't like it at all and gave me the funniest faces. I'm in no hurry to speed up the growing up process so we will wait for food!




The biggest change this month was that you started school! You're at daycare on Mondays and Thursdays while I am working my internship. Everyone there said you are the sweetest baby and I agree! I'm so glad that everyone sees how easy to love you are. You are handling that transition very well and I'm so proud of you.



You are still our "DP" or Diva Princess. We are starting to see your silly, sassy personality come out and it is so fun! I can't wait to know you more as you get older. You are such a delight and I am so proud of you and thankful for the gift that you are. We love you very much.

Love,
Mama

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Israel: 27 Months

Israel,

You are 2 and a quarter years old! :) You are the best little boy in the entire world. I'm SO SO SO proud to be your mama!

You are the funniest kid ever. You have the best facial expressions. You love to raise your eyebrows, make mean faces (especially when you're pooping), fake "surprise" faces, and silly smiles. Your trick now is patting your mouth when you sing and immediately clapping for yourself. You love praise! You will pretend to put food on the table next to your high chair and wait for me to tell you to put in your mouth, then you'll clap for yourself when you obey. Sometimes I don't catch you though and there will be a pile of food on the table (or floor) next to you! You are doing really good at self feeding, and we're still working on silverware. You like to hold your sippy cup in your mouth with no hands and you think you're really cool.

You crack yourself up a lot. I'll hear you laughing in your crib alone. You think your sister is the best, and sometimes you laugh at her when she's crying or making any noises. You love to touch her in the face, and tend to go for the eyeballs. I'm trying to work on "gentle touch" but you don't really listen.

Your favorite toys are your red car, yellow dump truck, your new basketball goal, and shaking your sister's playmat (especially when she's under it and it hits her face). You love rolling the ball with us and laughing as we chase it.

You recently started turning 360 degrees on your bottom when you're sitting! You will turn around to get whatever you're looking for. You are doing GREAT at standing and will watch TV standing while holding on to the coffee table. You also got a walker recently and you are doing really good holding on to the handles and standing. Recently you stood by yourself, not holding on to anything, for about 3 seconds!! If you do tummy time, you'll end up all over the room (typically not in the direction you are intending) - the other day I walked in and found you in between the TV stand and the wall where you wound up. It's not crawling but it is movement and we'll take it. You push up and then fall down and slowly shift around the room. Our therapists have noticed that you are getting stronger! I'm so proud!

You are SOOO VERBAL! You love to babble and you certainly know what you are talking about. You are getting better at communicating your needs because you reach for what you want and talk until we get what you're looking for. You still sing all the time, and wake up and fall asleep singing.

I'm so thankful for you! Israel, lately there have been times that I just tear up with thankfulness that you were chosen for us! What a gift you are to our family. I love you and I'm so proud of you. You've come so far and you are such a reminder to us of God's faithfulness.

Love,

Mama

Monday, January 6, 2014

Believing BIG in 2014

This year we are believing miracles for our son Israel!


This year we are claiming that he will WALK and TALK!

Join us in praying such things for our sweet boy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Makenzie & Hewan visit again!

Last January, my friend Makenzie and her daughter Hewan came to visit us while Will was at school in NC. This year, although he's going to be gone again, I'll be busy with school! Makenzie and I wanted to make sure that we got to spend time together again, so they came down right after I finished my school semester.

It was so fun having our kids reunited again! Makenzie's family and ours were in Ethiopia together on our second trip. Hewan and Israel are destined to be long-time friends!!

January: 

 December:


January: 


December:


These sweet kids are growing so much! Thanks again Makenzie for taking the time to drive down with a toddler to visit us. I cherish your friendship!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas Merriment Recap

This Christmas season... it just happened SO fast! Here's a recap of some of our activities.


  • The kids met Santa at a local craft fair. 



  • Went to my parent's house for a few days with the kids and left Will at home to study. This was a celebration of me finishing my semester as well! Israel and I went to the Opelika Christmas parade. I got to visit with one of my long time best friends and her daughter, who is just a few weeks younger than Edith. 

E and my brother!

  • Israel and Edith went to our UCP Christmas party, and saw Santa again! 
Israel wore this santa hat a lot this season. He was always so proud of himself when he wore it! Here he is with our awesome case manager, Margaret!


  • We went to the Jacksonville Christmas parade, but only stayed about 20 minutes. It was not really a good parade, and it was at night after Israel had been at school, so Israel was super tired. 

  • We had a Christmas party with our adult friends, played dirty santa, and all the kids were in another room with babysitters! It was really fun!

  • Edith and Israel posed in front of our own Christmas tree. 






  • We went to my parents' house the weekend before Christmas to celebrate with them. Will and I went on a REAL DATE and walked around Auburn. We also saw a movie with my sis-in-law. We had a family Christmas brunch at my aunt's house. Israel and Edith (and us!) were spoiled, and Israel got a lot of noisy, musical toys! I may have gained 5 pounds from the dessert table at my mom's house. 


  • We had a McGee Christmas Eve with our little family of four, complete with Christmas Eve service at church and a "home cooked" meal by me! The kids sat with me during the service and they completely distracted everyone around us, especially during the communion time when Will was up front. The next morning, we had a big breakfast, opened presents with the kids, and then got ready to see more family. 


  • Christmas morning we loaded up and went to Will's grandparents house in Birmingham. We saw extended family there, then drove to Scottsboro to Will's parents. We opened presents with his family the next morning, and the kids played with their cousins! Israel got more musical toys and we were all overly spoiled again. 

  • We finally came home, settled down and un-decorated. Christmas is so refreshing as we read Advent scriptures, spend intentional time with family, and give gifts to others. I love this season and hate that it is such a short time each year. This year we did less than we normally do- we didn't really watch Christmas movies or play music, we decorated less and we spent less money. It just happened so fast. I'm thankful that I have such a precious family to enjoy this season with and that our needs are provided for. We're still in the thick of school and the chaos of small children, but during Christmas you are reminded to soak it in, take pictures, and enjoy this season for what it is. 
How was your Christmas season??
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