Thursday, March 26, 2015

House Showings, Spring & Filling the Days

Here's a few insights into my brain these days.

1. Our house is on the market. It's been on the market since October.... and no, we don't own our home. We are renters. Our landlord is really nice and promises not to boot us out on a really short notice if/when it sells. However, we have been in the uneasy when-is-it-going-to-sell mode since October, which means that every time we have a house showing it could mean that we are homeless. :) Speaking of which, why do house showings occur ONLY when your house is a complete wreck? We have one scheduled for tomorrow, and we recently decided to take EVERYTHING out of our office to decide what we wanted to keep and purge.

2. Spring. Ahhhh the season change! I am so thankful for the warmer weather and the opportunities to get out of the house. We are spending lots of time outside and I have watched each day as the buds on the bare trees turn into blooms and leaves. The revival of the foliage just stirs something in my heart. He is making all things new, each season, each day. What a refreshing thought for my heart because I am so in need of restoration. I need that reminder that even though the trees may be barren now, there will be blooms tomorrow.

3. Filling our days. I have decided that I am truly an extrovert, and if there are two consecutive days without much people interaction, then I will go crazy. I'm trying to spend time with our college friends and other friends as much as possible, because I know that if my tank is full - then it will pour over into my little people. I've had a lot of work on my plate lately, and that also fills my heart tank. I love being a part of the foster care process and getting to talk with prospective families about how they can serve the needy children in our community. We just started Edith back in UCP's daycare on Mondays and I'm really excited about having a full day to work and also to clean and do whatever needs to happen if/when we are booted out of our house (see point #1).

Overall, we are relying fully on God's grace and the Holy Spirit. I was talking to a foster family recently, and one of my questions for the home study is "How important is it to be a Christian while raising children?" and they said, "It's hard raising kids no matter what, I can't imagine doing it without Christ." AMEN. I'm so thankful for the grace and new mercies that I receive when I fail so often. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

World Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day

Today is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. Many people are wearing green clothes or ribbons in honor of it. I've been following several CP accounts on twitter, and it is so encouraging to see how people with CP across the nation are thriving and living full lives!

As you know, our son Israel has CP. He has to work very hard for his milestones, but God is gracious to us and Israel works so hard! I am so thankful for the team of professionals that support our family and that work hard alongside our boy. I can look back over the past year and see how Israel has grown and developed so much! Each milestone feels like a miracle and I know that his CP has made me appreciate every little thing so much more.

If you are not very educated about CP yet, here's some info. defines CP as:

Cerebral palsy is considered a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation that occurs while the child’s brain is under development. Cerebral palsy primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination. Though cerebral palsy can be defined, having cerebral palsy does not define the person that has the condition.

Like Autism, CP has a spectrum and there are many forms and types of CP.

Cerebral palsy affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. It can also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning. 

Cerebral Palsy is permanent, non-progressive, not contagious, incurable, and chronic.

We believe that Israel was fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator God. We do not doubt that God has big plans for Israel, and our entire family!

The other day my husband and I were cleaning out our office and came across our original paperwork for our adoption agency. Our adoption took 2.5 years, and we had two homestudies for that process because we moved to a new state in the middle of it. On our first homestudy, we checked NO to every type of CP that our hypothetical baby could have. We wanted as healthy of a child as possible! I am so glad that God changed our hearts and that we were given the child we needed to have in our home.

I cannot imagine not being Israel's mama. Honestly, some days are really tough. Having a 3.5 year old that can't fully communicate, move around, or reach typical milestones can be really hard. I have to come to terms with losses of my dreams of what our family would look like or how we would interact. BUT! God is so good. His ways are higher than mine. I am so thankful for the many people that we have come to know and love that we never would have met without CP in our lives. I think of his teachers, therapists, special needs friends... they would not be a part of our lives or story if Israel did not have CP.

I know that our son's life will have challenges, but we have seen miracles happen already. I know that this diagnosis does not mean that his limitations are defined for him. We must believe big things for our boy and be the cheerleaders that he needs.

Thank you to our village, to our cheerleaders and support system- for praying for us, helping me when I need a break, and offering grace to our family. Thank you to the patient people who love my son and treat him just like any other kid. Thank you to the people who have posted pictures of their family wearing green today in honor of Israel and our other friends with CP! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Israel's Drumset

On the day that Israel started walking, Will decided that Israel needed a reward! During that week our church was preparing for its annual missions yard sale, and a drumset HAPPENED to be right outside of his office for just a few dollars!

Will brought it home... and we haven't had a silent house since, ha!

Don't worry, Edie manages to get a turn every once in a while too!

I have to say, I love watching Israel's skills develop and to see the passion he has for music. We really think music is therapeutic for him and he has always loved the drums! I don't know if having drums in our home is a long-term thing, but for now it is fun for him, and definitely a reward for walking!

Anticipation of Spring Weather!

One of the perks of living in Alabama is the intermittent warm weather throughout the winter months. Whenever the temperature dropped a bit, we headed outside. The winter has made me feel very cabin-feverish and I needed to get outside in the fresh air!

We hung out in the backyard (with leaves we never got around to clearing). 

We spent time at the park: 

We watched for cars on the front porch:

And now, according to the calendar and the thermometer, IT'S FINALLY SPRING! 

February Snow!

During the last week of February, Alabama got a little bit of snow! This is a rare treat for us, so I dressed the kids up and we went outside. Last year we had a few inches and I definitely tried to take advantage of that photo opportunity!

Despite this horribly unflattering picture, I promise you that I am not pregnant. 

This year the kids were NOT.INTO.IT. Granted, we don't really have snow-appropriate gear, it was still snowing and they were cold/wet. Also, I set Edith down when she wanted to be held (she's just a teeny bit clingy). Israel didn't mind the snow but his fingers were a little cold. We didn't have any snow-appropriate gloves. Maybe we will be a little more prepared next time we're expecting cold weather ;). 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Library Thursdays

Every Thursday, the kids and I load up and go to our little local library for Storytime. I can't brag enough on our local library. I love the staff there, and they really do a great program every week. The librarian in charge of children's activities, Kimberly, is so patient with my kids and never makes me feel bad when my children are out of control. Every week Israel clings (literally) to her legs and tries to take books out of her hands. Every week Edith messes with stuff she shouldn't. Every week one or both of my kids makes repeated attempts to escape the room. Yet the staff is SO patient and so gentle with them. I'm so appreciative of their graciousness to our family! They cheer Israel on for walking and make me feel welcome every week.

I pulled a few photos off of the library facebook page. I'm so thankful that someone took these to document these weekly adventures. (The ones of my kiddos + the Casey kiddos being BFFs just melt my heart. Love that family!)

I love going every week and seeing my friends and their kiddos. It's a great little 30 minute break from our house, even on the not-successful weeks I'm thankful for a place to go to get us out of the house for a minute. The past few weeks one of our favorite college girls, Calli, has been coming with me so that has been a HUGE help to have an extra hand when both kids are in escape mode!

Thanks sweet JPL for being such a great and welcoming place to even crazy kiddos!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Keep Stepping

Today I saw Israel take about 5 steps on his own in his walker. He's taken some unassisted steps before, but typically after he's gotten some momentum like going down a slope. Today he moved on a flat surface after he was stopped - he knew where he wanted to go and he started going in that direction. THIS IS HUGE!!!!!!!

I just have to document this little milestone. In March 2015 we saw an answer to prayer. Unassisted steps in the walker! This was a dream we had years ago in a meeting with our therapy team. We didn't know if it would ever be possible - the little boy who refused to bear weight on his feet, now he LOVES to stand. He stands on the trampoline almost all day at home, he wants to stand next to his sister to watch TV. He walks into church and school down long hallways. He is a big boy and he's going to do BIG things!

In related news, we have a bungee cord thing that we now use to pull Israel along. It is a back-saver! I'm so thankful for this pull system, it allows me to pull Israel and carry or guide Edith. It's made me more confident that we can go places just the three of us. Israel is getting really heavy so it's not easy to carry him and let Edith walk. I'm thankful that we can make using his walker all the time a bit easier.

This time last year we were rejoicing because Israel was just starting to move in a walker. With a therapist literally picking up his foot each step, he was walking about 20 steps. That felt like a miracle. Here we are, and he's really moving. I believe big things for this kid. In 2015, he's going to be stepping and moving on his own with his walker. Celebrate with me friends! God is faithful!
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