Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Port A

After our homestudy visit the morning of the 16th, we packed up the car and headed to Port Aransas to meet up with my parents and my older brother's family. We have never all taken a trip together so we were really looking forward to it! We've been planning it for months! Wished Billy and Jenny would've been there but hope they can make it next year.

After riding on the "roller coaster" aka bridge, we stopped at Snoopy's for a YUMMY seafood dinner. My parents met us there and it didn't disappoint! Then it was next door for ice cream at Scoopy's and some fish watching.



Then it was off to the beach - the girl's had been anticipating it for WEEKS so I couldn't wait to see their faces. Especially Eden's because she's never been to the beach before. This is currently by FAVORITE picture of our big girl Claire...
Us...
And here is Eden...
Yup... asleep and we tried three times to wake her up!! She sleeps just like her mama =) She was so exhausted that she slept right through it and missed our first beach visit. We were only there for about 25 minutes or so and once we got to the town home, we just put her in bed. (Something I NEVER want to forget - When Mike and Heather arrived late that night, both girls woke up from Pierce's cries and I ran upstairs to check on them. Eden stood at the top of the stairs in her sleepy haze, rubbing her eyes and said "Brudder here?" Melt and break my heart at the same time!! It was so sweet and sincere... she's anticipating him just as much as anyone.)


The next day we spent almost 6 hours on the beach soaking it all in! The girls had a blast and never slowed down! We all had a great time swimming, body boarding, looking for shells, hanging out in the canopy shade, eating lunch, reading, building and shoveling the sand, etc.

Eden n Mike
Fun with Uncle Mike!

We were surprised at how brave and persistent Claire was with the body boarding! She got some face fulls of water but kept going and loved riding in the big waves!
Daddy n Eden
Pierce getting some love from mommy and daddy
All smiles
Loving the sand
We had a great dinner back at the townhouse and celebrated Mike and Heather's bdays with a yummy cake. Then it was put the kids to bed and start a game. We played Scattergories and had a great time!! There was some competitive moments but a lot of fun and even more laughing! We left early the next day to make it to a afternoon rehearsal at church so the trip was short and sweet but so worth it. Can't wait to go back (hopefully as a family of 5)!!

One Year and a new number

A year ago today we got our call with the greatest news - we had officially made it onto the waitlist. After months and months of paperwork and waiting, we had finally gotten to where we could relax a little bit. I remember it feeling like a HUGE sigh of relief and how the first week of not having anything to do for adoption paperwork felt wonderful. We were #69 and today we just moved up to #16 (i think!). A lot can happen in a year...

God has truly revealed Himself to us throughout this process. People always ask "If there are so many kids who need families why do they make it so hard? so expensive? such a long process?" Honestly, sometimes I wonder the same thing when we are having to jump through hoops over and over again. A lot of it is for the safety of the children but a lot of it seems excessive (ie. Pet Vaccination Records). But I will tell you that if we hadn't had this year's experience (or the total 18 months we've been on this ride) of totally relying, trusting, questioning, pleading, praying, praising, wondering, submitting and so much more, we wouldn't be where we are today.


Just as His word says in James 1: "2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."

This period of waiting has been one of transformation but I know that our journey has just begun. Our son has already taught us so much and we don't even know who he is yet. I praise God for how He has continued to give us the strength and perseverance only He can give when we are feeling worn and weary. Over the past two weeks I have had one encouragement after another. God's word through my BSF lesson & sermon on God saying "Not Yet, text from Evening of Spiritual Harmony songs, a song sent to me by my sweet friend Ashley called "While I'm Waiting" and an article posted on our listserv entitled "God's Will for your Wait" by Paul Tripp. If you are reading this and going through a waiting period (waiting for a baby through pregnancy or adoption, for a job, for a answer, for direction, for recovery of an addiction or sickness, etc.) YOU need to click on the above links! They were a great encouragement to me and I know they will be to you as well.


Now on to how we celebrated our one year =) Now that we are in the teens the girls and I made a paper chain to help us count down. We have always written our number on a dry erase plate in the kitchen but this will be a better visual for the girls and they can actively participate by tearing off links as we get closer. Here they are showing off the chain that is now hanging in their bedroom.
Neil and I met for a little lunch date =) I bought us a little present and had Neil open it. It's a really great adoption memory book that we can start filling out while we are waiting! It's called "My Family, My Journey: A Baby Book for Adoptive Families" by Zoe Francesca and I really like it a lot! It has a lot of the elements of a life book that I've read about and researched.
We had a nice quick lunch between work and picking up the girls. Of course we couldn't get away without a quick pic =)
Thank you to EVERYONE who has been a wonderful support and sharing our excitement as we get closer and closer. Although we are moving up, we still aren't expecting "the call" until probably March or April which means hopefully having him home sometime during the summer. So we still have awhile as we continue to anticipate him being home. It is much more exciting though because I've really resisted any nesting or "getting ready" urges to avoid getting my hopes up too soon. I'm now looking at the empty nursery and thinking it might be time to start changing things around =)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Training

Training for the Chosen: Marathon for Adoption is well under way!
These shoes have seen a lot of miles which reminds me I need to buy some more asap so I can break them in before the big day on Oct. 29th!! I will be walking the half marathon for our team "SA Lewis to Ethiopia" and I can't wait!! As of tonight we have 27 members on our team including myself. (Praying to break 30 since we had 35 last year) I'm up to 6 miles but haven't been very diligent the past week or so =( Need to get on the ball! I'll tell you, it is HARD to be motivated to go walking after the kids are in bed and I'm exhausted. It's also HARD to go by myself. But to hear the clanking of my charms on my necklace with each step is a reminder that we are getting closer and closer to our little man.


If you're interested in any information on how you can join our team to walk/run or support us even if you can't walk/run, leave a comment and I'll get in contact with you! Or visit: www.marathonforadoption.com


Please keep us in your prayers!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Official September #

Last week on the 14th we got our official September waitlist number...





We're in the teens!! And two nights ago we were moved to 17 after a 2 yr. old little girl was matched with her forever family. It's all still a little surreal for me to be in the teens. We will be making a paper chain to help the girls count down now that we are closer. I'm actually having to think of "what's next?" A lot of people have asked the same question so here is the run down:

- right now we are still waiting for our homestudy to be officially renewed. We've done everything we're supposed to after we completed our home visit on the 15th. Just waiting for our FBI clearance to come back so please pray for a speedy return! We can not get a referral without an updated homestudy.

- When we get in the single digits (YIKES!!) we will be starting our rounds of vaccinations for travel and finding an international pediatrician who we can have on deck to look at our son's medical history when we get "the call"

- We get "the call" which will include knowing his name, full history and first time to see his face on pics sent to email while we talk to our case manager.

- Print pictures of our sweet boy =) We won't be able to post pics on facebook or blog until after our US Embassy is passed which is the second trip.


-We accept referral after completing a ton of paperwork, paying a hefty fee and hearing back from the international pediatrician.

- Wait for another call for our court date. Then we will know when we travel. We won't be able to buy tickets until we get confirmation for our court date which could be only days before we have to leave.

- We (Neil and I - girls will be staying here) fly to Ethiopia for the first time and meet OUR SON for the FIRST TIME!! This still feels like light years away and another surreal moment I've been dreaming about for so long. Hard to even imagine how this will take place. On this trip we will spend time loving on him and the other kiddos at Hannah's Hope, learning about Ethiopian culture, hopefully have a birth parent meeting, delivering donations, connecting with other adoptive parents, learning as much as we can and most importantly, bonding, holding, wearing, kissing and loving our little guy as much as possible.

- We fly back to SA without our baby =( This will be so hard... then we wait for a US Embassy date in Ethiopia and fly back for that date for our second trip. There is usually very short notice for travel so we have to just be ready and buy whatever tickets we can. We are reunited with our baby and will never have to let him go again!!!

- We come home and start our cocooning and bonding as a family of 5 - THANK YOU LORD!!!

So there is the heads up on what the next steps of our process are =) As far as the wait, I've had a harder couple of weeks. I've just been more emotional than usual about everything. Really longing and missing him which blows me away... how can you miss someone you've never even met? don't even know his face or name? Oh but my heart knows him and this is almost an indescribable feeling. Once again the Lord is teaching me through this waiting period in my life.

This Monday marks one year on the waitlist and 18 months in process. This timeline keeps ticking with every passing day which grows the yearning to have him home even more. I've been super calm and at peace up until now but I've found myself a little more consumed with the wait lately. The other day I starting crying when I saw my sweet friend Kristin rocking her newborn baby boy in bible class - it just hit me! There are babies and pregnant people all around me which makes it even harder sometimes although I sincerely rejoice with each blessing that comes!

This past week I started my BSF for the year and we are studying Acts. There was a great lesson in how the disciples and Jesus' family waited for the Holy Spirit to come after Jesus had ascended to heaven. They were together praying and just simply surrounding themselves with other believers while they waited. What a great example to constantly be in prayer and have HIM as my focus during this time. What does HE want to teach me? What does HIS plan have for us? Do I trust that HIS timing is perfect and not my own? We've already grown tremendously in our faith during this process and I pray I can truly surrender to Him and His ways every single day while we wait and every day after the wait is over.

A Princess Surprise

Back in July, Kate called and asked if Claire and I wanted to go to a Disney Princess show at one of the large theaters downtown. I knew it would be something really special for Claire and I to do together so we got tickets. The best part is I kept it a secret until I picked Claire up two Fridays ago (Sept. 9th) and got to surprise her!! Her expression was priceless and she was SO excited! Of course the girls had to dress up for the occasion as most of the other little girls at the show had. Claire wore her "queen" dress that she got from Heather Adams last year(thanks Heather - it's our Halloween costume this year too!)
We sat on the first row on the first balcony which was a great spot because the girls could stand the whole time. They had the Mickey mouse characters introduce the princess stories - Snow White, Beauty n the Beast and Cinderella.



What a fun evening to share with our best friends!! I love this girl!
Had to take a pic with the chandelier =)

Eden's first day of school

Well, I've been a little MIA lately but ready to do some catching up!! Eden and I had two weeks together after Claire started school and she started her school year. I can't begin to tell you how much she grew up those two weeks because she wasn't competing for my attention. It was such a precious time for us to have our one on one time we had never had before - especially before baby comes. Her language has exploded and she has become a little less hesitant in new settings. She is still my guarded girl around new people =) She is going to the same MDO on Tuesday and Thursdays while I'm teaching. Her "meet the teacher" day was on my first day of work so Grandpa took her. Thank you SO much dad for sharing in this special day!
My dad was shocked to see the quiet, withdrawn, cautious side of Eden when in new situations. It's something I've talked about a lot but she is never like that with my parents so they haven't experienced it.

Eden LOVES her teacher Ms. Meagan and loves being part of the red class. She is also part of a purple class for BSF so you will often hear her say "two classes - red and purple" - too cute!
Her first day of school was on Sept. 6th and it couldn't have gone any better. She went right in and started playing right away. Her teacher has been WONDERFUL! Her favorite class is music with Ms. Heather. Here she is on the first day - she had to wear a jacket because Claire wore hers to school. It was about 65 so it was a little cool for us - a nice break from the sweltering heat!

This picture was taken on the second day of school and I couldn't help but post. I just love her rainy froggy shirt!
Eden....like I said before has changed SO much the past month. She is such a goofy, silly girl at home and when she is in comfortable situations. I just LOVE this side of her but am so thankful for that cautious part of her personality. She will be such a leader and be herself. I don't see her being easily persuaded so I guess that stubborn streak will be a blessing!
She continues to be my boy at heart - loving to climb, run, bounce, throw but is learning more and more everyday what it means to be gentle. Her empathy for others sometimes surprises me when seconds earlier she was oblivious to others. Her personality is so multi-dimensional... i just LOVE this girl to pieces! Always keeping me guessing =)

Here are a few things I want to remember:
- When asked what her favorite color is she always says "Brown" and always goes for the brown crayon first
- She favors the scary parts and villains in any movie or show. Not sure exactly what that means but it makes me laugh when she says "I like that guy" or is obsessed with the "Mean Queen" from Snow White.
- She is extremely into shoes and purses and I often find the most random assortment of things stuffed in the many purses around our house including the cell phone I couldn't find =)
- She has surprised me with how well she has transitioned to her bunk bed. I'm SO proud of her!
- The past 3 weeks Eden has caught on to the sticker folder that sister has been doing for a long time. If they don't go to time out all day, Neil puts a sticker on their nose before bed and they go nuts to put it in their folder. Amazing how much of an incentive this can be but we still have our days full of time outs at times. She is definitely improving!
- her favorite phrases "tiny bit?", "oopsy daisy" (just started this one), "I want" - we're working on this one,