Tuesday, May 27, 2014

On the Move & Getting Chatty

Oh, what a happy mom I am! Don't get me wrong- the progress adds challenges, but I am SO THRILLED that I have two mobile kids in my house! Israel is scooting on his bottom, using his hands, and going all over the place. He knows where he wants to go and he will get there (often right under the TV, where he will pat the entertainment center to let us know he wants to watch a show!). He can go back and forth and make circles around our house. THIS IS HUGE!!!!!!!!! He used to get stuck in places, or wouldn't head in the right direction when he wanted to move. I'm so proud of him!

Edith is also crawling, so the two of them are often on the move together. They both love the sound that their pats make on the floor of the kitchen tile. These two kids are already best buds, and they will make each other laugh. Israel will shake a balloon and Edith will belly laugh. They share toys and Edith crawls all over him. They steal each other's toys and splash each other with water. I just love it.

Israel is talking so much more now! He can say: ball, mama, dad, GaGa, baby, puppy, car, truck, vroom, hi. Whenever Israel sees one of Edie's baby dolls, he will pick it up, say "baby baby!" and give it a kiss. He also just started to say "hi" and will look at his hand when he says it, like he knows that your hand is connected to the word.

Edie is also saying "ba" connected to baby and ball. She says "mama" as well! Chatty kids! After waiting SO LONG for movement and words in our house, I am just thankful for little glimpses into our kiddos' minds. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Gotcha Day Party!

At the beginning of May, we decided to throw a very impromptu "gotcha day" party for Israel. I'm talking... text messages to friends a few hours before! Thankfully some of our close friends and college students could join us for cake and a moment to celebrate our sweet boy being a McGee for two years!



We love our college students! Best babysitters ever!





Israel and his best friend Emma Kate:




My best friend Lindsey! I seriously wouldn't stay sane without this dear friend. She is also Emma Kate's mommy, which works great for our kiddos!











Sweet Mary Collins:

The hilarious and adorable Deacon:

We had a simple get together in the back yard, and it was great weather. I'm thankful for moments where we can stop and just celebrate how good and faithful God is- for his provision of community and two years with our boy. Thanks for coming out friends!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Josie's First Birthday in Scottsboro

At the end of April, we took a trip to Scottsboro, Will's hometown, to celebrate our niece's first birthday. It had been a few months since we had seen our nieces, and it was so nice to spend time with family.







Four kids in the wagon didn't work out so well for Edie. 
 I can tell that Josie and Edie are going to be best friends!




The party:

Israel was happy as long as he was in the wagon. 







It was a great weekend with family! We are blessed! Love you Josie girl!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

MSW COMPLETE!!!!

Picture me with my hands in the air raising the roof! I am so thrilled to have made it through this year and to officially be DONE with my Master of Social Work!

YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, I am humbled and grateful to have made it through the year. I'll even whisper a RTR in honor of the University of Alabama...wait... no I won't. War Eagle :).

Thank you to my friends and family for supporting me and encouraging me! I had an amazing field placement at the Alabama Baptist Children's Homes and Family Ministries and made new dear friends working there. It was a great field experience for an internship and I will miss my coworkers and the foster families and children!

Next steps? Well, I decided not to pursue employment right now. I am going to study hard for my MSW license and then just wait until the right job opportunity comes along. In the meantime, I'm putting my Stay at Home Mom hat back on and soaking in a summer with my babies. God is good and faithful!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Edith: Nine Months Old

Edie,

You are 9 months old today! I think the last month was so fast, I blinked and you went from 8 to 9 months! You are still the spunky, silly, smiley girl that we love so much. You charm everyone and haven't met a stranger yet. You still prefer to be in mom or dad's arms/laps if that is an option, but you will go to others and grin for anyone!



Edith, you are on the move girlfriend! You are no longer confined to one room, but will explore the whole house, especially if you are in a desperate search for your mama. You're not pulling up yet, but you are acting interested in things above you like the couch seat or what is on coffee tables. You love to stand and will even take a few steps if we prompt you by holding your hands.


You are eating big-girl food like a champ. We went to a wedding last weekend and you ate almost an entire chicken breast by yourself! You just kept shoving food in your mouth without taking a break. You love cheerios and will still eat babyfood too. You are still nursing for a short time before and after each nap, and you take 2-3 bottles at daycare during the day. You haven't quite figured out the sippy cup but you sure love waving it around and dropping it off your high chair. There have been a few (less than 1 hand full) of nights that you have slept through the night this last month, but you still like to have a quick nursing session 1-3 times each night. You go back to sleep pretty quickly though! You are taking 2-3 naps still, and since we've been on the go a lot this month, you've had some naps being held or snuggled, and so you feel that you are entitled to that whenever you want.

Things you love: smiling at yourself in the mirror, pulling my hair, scratching anyone's eyeballs, anything your brother is doing, bathtime, your water table, playing with Easter eggs, anything that makes noise, and getting into places that you don't know how to get out of. You are currently dropping cheerios off your high chair and smiling at me. You are a mischievous and silly girl!


In the growing department- you are wearing 9 and 12 month clothes! You still have a tiny size 1 shoe and you are starting to outgrow some of your headbands. You have two bottom teeth and your hair is getting a lot thicker.

Edith Joy, I cannot believe we are 3/4 of the way through your first year. It has been a year of such grace and joy! You are precious to us, baby girl. We praise the Lord for such a sweet gift!

Love,
Mama

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thinking about Moms

Here it is again, the chance to honor moms. I always have a twinge of guilt and heartache as we approach Mother's Day. I think of my many friends who are STILL waiting to be moms through adoption- who are such models of perseverance and faithfulness. Ladies, I haven't forgotten you and most importantly, the Lord is still faithful in remembering your desire. He placed the desire in your hearts for the children you will parent. There are some friends who are just beginning the adoption journey- and they are anxious and naive (let's be real) about the long and emotional journey ahead. That's a good season, too.

In addition to thinking of my waiting mama friends, I think of the birth moms out there. I personally know birth moms who have made the sacrificial decision to let their birth children be adopted- and I can imagine that their hearts ache to be honored too. You are mamas. You are brave, and I honor you.

I think of my friends who have lost babies. Especially you, K. Working in the foster system I am constantly reminded of how broken our world is, and how things just aren't right here. Our lives cry out for redemption and restoration- and thankfully that is coming. If we did not have hope in Jesus, I don't know what we would do. Sweet moms who have lost babies, I honor you this weekend too. It has to be hard. I know you don't want to go to church and see kids dedicated to the Lord Sunday, knowing that your little one didn't get that chance, or that you won't get a homemade card this year. I hate it too.

And then... our birth mom. Israel's first mom. I must admit that as the years have gone on, I think of her less. The first year almost everything that Israel did I wanted to tell her or show her. Laziness on my part has kept me from being intentional in thinking and praying for her as I once did. I cannot help but look at him and feel a sigh of relief and gratitude that he is mine. I am so grateful and honored that the Lord would see fit that I, of all people, would be the one to be his mama. In a perfect world, Israel wouldn't be in my house- he would be in Ethiopia with his birth mom. But that's not the case- and I have to say that I am thankful that the Lord would let our family benefit from His redemptive plan.

This year has been a hard year for me as a mom: giving birth, breastfeeding, working, etc. I constantly feel stretched to my limit and exhausted. Yet- I love it. I am grateful that my everyday is a constant dependence on the Holy Spirit to have enough to give the little people entrusted to me. My children have taught me so much, and have given me so much joy and perspective. Israel's developmental journey has challenged my idols and allowed me to see parts of my heart that were yucky. I want to have a picture-perfect life, and I don't. My kids have showed me how weak I am and how I must depend on others. Having young children requires that you pour out everything every day- and it is not easy and sometimes I just want to be selfish. Having children has taught me how much the Lord has loved me, and what a devastating , beautiful sacrifice it was for his son Jesus to die on the cross.

It is amazing to me that I am a mom of two beautiful and precious children. Every person has challenges and the Lord gives grace to each of us in the exact portion that we need, but I am blown away that my portion involves Edith and Israel. God is so generous.

Thinking of all of you ladies out there today.



Monday, May 5, 2014

Two Years Home

May 5, 2011 we flew into the Atlanta airport with our son Israel! It has been two years since our sweet boy was in our arms forever, and I am so grateful for the light and joy that Israel is.




Over the last two years we have learned:

  • The art of getting a child to sleep. (Ergo babywearing, cuddling, sound machines, etc). 
  • How pointless sweeping the floor is. 
  • The thrill of sitting on the porch watching cars go by. 
  • That you can watch the same Elmo or Baby Einstein video without going insane. 
  • How to be aware of an exit plan before actually attending an event- because you never know how quickly you will have to leave. 
  • How to connect with special needs resources and advocate for your kid. 
  • There are some people, social workers, therapists, etc who want to fight for your family as much as you do. 
  • People say dumb stuff and you have to forgive them. (About being a conspicuous family, about special needs, about adoption). 
  • No matter how confident you may start off, cutting your son's hair is not a good idea. 
  • Pretending to get hurt and crawling after thrown toys is the most hilarious thing in the world to Israel. 
  • At a young age (9 months to 2 years) Israel has shown how brave, resilient and strong he is. 
  • When your toddler is acting out, he probably just wants to be snuggled or acknowledged. 
  • Parenting in your own strength is not fun or easy. Grace from the Lord is absolutely necessary. 
  • You have to intentionally remember that your adopted African son is adopted and African. 
  • The words "car" "truck" and "mama" are magical when your son finally communicates what he sees and loves!
  • There is no earthly sacrifice or gift better than being a parent. We are so thankful for our sweet boy who made us parents and for the gift from the Lord, allowing us to enter into Israel's story. 
  • It never gets easier to comprehend how crazy, hard and beautiful that we are now Israel's parents. 
  • Taking walks makes the day better. 
  • Diluted apple juice brings out the sillies. 
  • Having Israel home makes me want to fight for all the other kids out there like him that aren't in safe and stable homes. 
  • Listening to silly song music cds is the best way to him down. 
  • Reading the same books over and over (Goodnight Moon, There's a Wocket in my Pocket) is therapeutic.
  • Although we entered into this parenting gig hoping to display in some small way the glory of God through adoption, we have been eyewitness to how God has shaped us and made us aware of his sovereignty, miracles, and faithfulness in a million more ways than we anticipated. 
Israel, we love you son! Happy 2 years as a family!
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