Thursday, December 20, 2012

1 year

We are so very quickly approaching the one year anniversary of welcoming Hope Bezualem into our family. Is that possible?? I have been thinking a lot lately of what was going on last year at this time. At this point we still didn't know when we would be going back to Ethiopia, and thinking it would be well into the next year. And then, on December 16 we got the e-mail of all e-mails, CLEARANCE. I remember it SO clearly, I had woken up early to work out and checked my e-mail as I had done every morning. When I saw it I could not believe it, re-read it over and over, sure that there was some mistake, and finally ran upstairs to wake up Aaron. He stumbled down and confirmed that is sure looked like we could finally go back to get our girl. That whole day was such a wonderful blur, I felt like I was floating on joy and excitement. And then the next few days were such a flurry of plane tickets, guest house reservations, e-mails, phone calls, trips to the store, and trying to finish Christmas prep. I remember telling my mom I was feeling sick to my stomach all the time and hoped I wasn't getting sick. She wisely suggested it was stress, which it was! I could hardly eat anything, and my mind was racing 24/7.

We celebrated Christmas with our boys the 22nd, and that night Micah threw up several times. Our flight was the next afternoon, and I didn't know if we should leave him. He was so sick, and I was just imagining the other two getting it, and passing it on to our parents who would be taking care of them while we were gone. After praying about it, checking into changing plane tickets, and talking to both sets of parents, we decided to go with their encouragement and blessing. And by the time we left, he was fine, and no one else got sick!

Our time in Ethiopia was hard. That's the part that is hard to think about, how scared Hope was, how helpless I felt, and the emotional crash when we finally got back home. But God was so faithful, so good, so patient, in the midst of all of that. It has been a year full of joy, confusion, thankfulness, fear, discouragement, growth, and hope. That is where I think I have landed, hope. Adoption is hard, every part of it. But there is so much hope, because we are not in it alone and never will be. He has walked with us every step, and will continue to, and He is the one who makes all things new and beautiful. Sometimes His definition of beautiful looks a bit different than ours, but I am so incredible thankful that I can trust Him completely. I think it was maybe the hardest year I have had, but at the same time one of the best, funny how that works. I needed Him this year, sometimes minute to minute for days and days, and HE IS FAITHFUL. Not once did I pray for help and He did not respond. I am so unworthy of that love, so unworthy of His goodness, and yet He continues to give it freely and abundantly.

Hope has grown so much over this year in every way, really all of us have, but it especially fun to see how far she has come. She is a little ball of motion, who loves people, activities, Larry Boy, and music. One of my favorite things is when we go to her class at church and she starts greeting the kids in her class by name. And her giggle, holy cow, cutest thing ever! When she giggles, we all just stop and listen because it is just so sweet. She follows and mostly keeps up with her brothers as best she can. She knows her colors, and can count to ten, and recognizes the first letter in her and her brothers names. She is definitely a mama's girl, but has grown a lot in her love for her dad too. And she and Isaac are quite the pair! I was most worried about their relationship, Isaac had the hardest time adjusting of the boys, and there just were not many peaceful moments during our day in the beginning with the two of them. I wouldn't necessarily say they are the best of friends now, but they are definitely buddies. :)

                                                       At the airport, December 31st, 2011

                                                          Family pictures, September 2012

So thankful for our girl, and what Christ has taught and shown us about His love through her.


Thursday, October 11, 2012


It's sort of funny that I haven't blogged for forever, and when I finally do it's about an inanimate object! Hopefully this will be a kick start for me to keep up to date again. We'll see. :)

I just wanted to write down this story, because I think it shows how God can show Himself in even the smallest, seemingly insignificant ways, and I don't want to forget that. So, two mornings ago I had Bible study, and it was my group's turn to bring food for all of the ladies who come. I had signed up to bring cheese sticks, and then promptly completely and totally forgot about it. Like, it didn't occur to me once in the following week, I didn't write it down anywhere, nothing. Aaron had been on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic during that week, and so my usual grocery shopping day of Saturday morning, was pushed back to Monday afternoon. The afternoon before Bible study when I needed to bring the cheese sticks. As I made my list before leaving for the store, I remembered I had this coupon for cheese sticks, found it, wrote it down on my list and stuck it in my purse. The whole time thinking how great it would be to have another snack option for the kids in the next week. Thinking NOTHING of the fact that that is exactly what I had signed up to bring. So, I go to the store, get my groceries, remembered the cheese sticks (which is even a bit of a feat because I have been known many times to have an item written down on my list only to forget to buy it), and came back home. Later that evening I was checking my e-mail and saw a reminder that I had signed up for food for the next day, and BAM, I remembered I needed cheese sticks!! Only to then realize, I actually had exactly what I needed ready to go in the fridge! And I hadn't opened them up yet to give to my kids (although the thought had crossed my mind)!
Despite the fact that I completely forgot that I needed to bring cheese sticks for Bible study, God worked it out so that I would buy them anyway. He knew that Aaron was going to be sick as a dog Monday night after getting home from the Dominican, and I wouldn't have a chance to go back to the store. What a gift that was to me! Just to think that God is involved in the seemingly mindless, unimportant parts of my day spoke to my heart in such a real and powerful way. He can be trusted, He is everywhere all the time, and I need to do a better job of seeing Him, and rejoicing in His love for me.

So that's my story. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hope's Birthday

We celebrated another birthday around here! July 30th, Hope Bezualem Shaul turned 2, and what a joy it was to celebrate her. It was fun thinking about decorating for a girl, and I had to add some pink streamers to our stash. :) My parents were coming into town the Friday following her birthday, and we were planning a small family party for Saturday, so on her actual day we went to the zoo! She loves animals, and we tried to see the animals we feel like she especially loves, or at least can say and/or make the sound. :) Those included giraffes, lions, tigers, monkeys and the petting zoo. We also rode the carousel, which she loved until the end. After dinner we went as a family to Jones Bros Cupcakes, which I think may need to be a tradition. I went there last year with some friends to celebrate her 1st birthday, and it was really special to take her this year. We were there all of about 20 minutes, the boys INHALED their cupcakes (theirs were mini ones), and it is really just better for us not to linger too long at restaurants. She loves, loves sweets, so hers was gone fast too! Then we went to a park across the street and played for a bit before coming home.

I was actually surprised at the mix of emotions I felt on her birthday. Everything from joy and thankfulness to sadness and sort of melancholy. I thought so much about her birth mom leading up to her birthday, and just wishing we knew more about her. Wishing I could give her a hug, thank her for giving Hope life, and assuring her how much we treasure and love our sweet girl. I can't begin to imagine her life, but we are forever connected, and she will never be forgotten.

Hope is really such a joy, she is absolutely her own little person, and she handles her brothers with both sweetness and sass! Her vocabulary has really started to take off, and my current favorite word of hers is flip-flops. I also love how she says each of the boys' names: I-I (Eli), Nehneh (Micah), and Isey or Iee (Isaac).

Some of Hope's loves:
-her blankie (kie-kie)
-any dessert!
-being outside
-going new places
-mom :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Isaac's birthday

Isaac had a birthday May 23, and he turned 4! This was the first year he was really excited about his birthday, and counted down to it for days before hand. The night before his birthday we were putting them to bed, and I looked over at him and he had the cutest little smile on his face. I asked him what he was thinking about, and he whispered, "my birthday."

It was also the last day of school for Eli and Micah, but I wanted to keep the day about Isaac. After a breakfast of chocolate chip teddy bear pancakes and dropping Eli and Micah at school, Isaac, Hope, and I went to the Chidren's Museum. That was what he wanted to do, and it was really fun! He is not Mr. I Am Going to Go Explore By Myself, he likes to stick close by, so it was a little tricky at times chasing after Hope, who is essentially his opposite in that way. But thankfully it wasn't too busy, and I could keep my eyes on both of them even if they were in different spots. After the museum he wanted to go to "king burger" (Burger King) for lunch, and get a happy meal which we brought home and he ate while watching a movie (a birthday tradition.)

He had decided on an Angry Birds Space birthday, and his one request was for a pinata. Thankfully, we actually found an Angry Birds one, and then I filled it with candy, pencils, and other little toy things. We had Aaron's sister and her family over for dinner (hot dogs, chips, and lemonade), and cake. He opened presents, and the kids did the pinata, which was a pretty big hit. Eli and Micah have requested one for their birthday, but I'm sort of hoping they forget because it takes a lot of stuff to fill one up! All in all, I think it was a great day, and we loved celebrating him.

He really has my heart, in a special way, and I am loving watching him grow and change. He is really creative, he builds things all the time from legos, blocks, or treasure he finds outside. He also picks flowers for me constantly, many times just a teeny tiny one in our grass, or even just a leaf that catches his eye, but wants to give them to me which I think is pretty much the sweetest. When Eli and Micah were in school, he would build things for them to see when they came home, or make them pictures, he thought about them so much throughout the day. And for a while he was picking out Hope's clothes almost every day! He is still pretty shy, still loves to cuddle, still has the warmest, sweetest smile. Happy Birthday to my favorite 4 year old!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Months 3, 4, and almost 5!

FAIL! That is what blogging has been lately. I used to write when, 1) I was in the mood, 2) I had time, and 3) I had something to write about that I didn't want to forget. Well, these days the chances that all three of these happen at the same time (mainly #'s 1 and 2)  are not great! Plus, I feel like so much has happened that I haven't written about and am so far behind it's just hard to catch up. Plus, when I do start a post, which I have now a couple of times, I don't have time to finish it, and it gets ridiculously long. Anyway, I think doing lists would work better, like maybe a top ten, or something like that.

So, here is my Top 10 favorite things Hope and our family have been doing these last two months
(in no particular order)

1. Sister is finding her voice! She really hasn't talked at all, but lately we are hearing more words. Currently her favs seem to be "bye, daddy, mom, shoes, and dog." She says "bye" all the time, to people, cars, rooms we walk out of, toys she is done playing with, you get the idea. She loves to wave to Eli and Micah and Aaron when they leave for school and work, and she totally has the beauty pageant wave down.

2.She is pretty fearless, and gets around so well. When she first came home she had no idea how to do stairs, or really climb at all. But now, she gets around EVERYWHERE. There have been numerous times we have been upstairs getting dressed or ready for bed, and I walk into the boys room to find her on Micah's top bunk, having climbed his ladder to get there. She also loves parks, climbing to the top of the playgrounds and going down all the slides, no matter how tall.

3. She greets me with a smile in the morning. Such a sweet way to start the day, seeing her face light up and those dimples doing their job! :)

4. She loves to read books, and has just started pointing at things when you ask her where they are.

5. Isaac has finally accepted having a sister. :) I'm sort of kidding about that, but it really took 3 months for him to find his smile again, and actually seem to enjoy life. Such a major blessing when I see or hear the two of them playing and laughing together. Not that it's always happy and rosy, but I have seen a big change in his heart.

6. Sleeping has really improved. I'm probably jinxing it, but she has slept the last three nights all night! She takes a while to fall asleep at night, she jabbers and sings in her bed for an hour sometimes, which means she sleeps in longer than the boys. And she still doesn't like to rock. :(

7. Hope's laugh. I have been hearing this more and more lately! She usually gets the hiccups when she starts laughing, and if she laughs really hard it's this silent laugh which is so cute and hilarious. And her laugh is deeper than her normal voice.

8. Blowing kisses. This is seriously the cutest thing. She puts her hand over her mouth and kisses it over and over and over, but never moves it to blow them away. So you just see her putting her hand over her mouth and hear smooching sounds. :)

9. Eli and Micah just finished soccer, and their last day of school is tomorrow! Talk about an incredibly fast year, I cannot believe they are done with kindergarten. They have grown up a lot this year, Micah is talking about wanting more responsibility, and Eli has really grown as the peace maker in our family.

10. Isaac turns 4 tomorrow! So excited to celebrate him, and excited to see him so excited! :)

So much more to say, but mainly just feeling thankful for the many blessings in our lives. There is hardly a day that goes by that I am not struck by His work in bringing our family to this point. Together, and growing, all of us!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Well, it's 8:15 on a Thursday morning, Aaron left a few minutes ago to take Eli and Micah to school, I have not showered, and Hope and Isaac are playing with cars in the living room, so we'll see how much of this I get written at once! I have gotten so behind with blogging, and it's really the only family journal we have (we are also pretty bad about taking pictures), and I do want to have some record of these days as our family changes and grows. So, no matter how far behind I get, I will keep trying!

The theme "remember" has been running through my mind a lot lately. This time last year was a VERY difficult time for us in our adoption. We just kept getting bad news on top of bad news, and really had to look in the face the possibility that Hope may not be coming home to our family. I remember feeling heartbroken, forgotten, and a kind of left behind as other families we traveled with on our first trip started seeing movement in their cases. God's grace and compassion were definitely real to me, but it was also so hard to let go of something I so desperately wanted.

Every year our church has a spring dinner, and my good friend Kelly and I have decorated a table for it every year for the last 5 years. Last year it seemed like everything sort of culminated in terms of my emotions on that night, and after the dinner I broke down. Like almost sobbing. In public. I really felt like we maybe were not meant to bring Hope home, like an intuition of sorts. And a few weeks later, that possibility became very real as we discovered new information about her family. That night as I cried my eyes out, I was literally surrounded by my friends who were also at the dinner, and who were such a huge part of our support as we went through our adoption.

This year I just couldn't help but vividly remember that night, and the emotions and heartache that were there. But this year, wow, who could have imagined where we would be! Where God would bring us, and how He would lead us. Hope is home! I get to hold her in my arms, kiss her cheeks, hear her squeal and babble...and remember. So, our theme for our table this year was "Hope," and Psalm 62:5 was our verse, "Find rest O my soul in God alone, my hope comes from Him." I took this verse both literally and figuratively. :)

I have also been reading in Deuteronomy lately, and "remember" has also been a pretty big theme there as well. Remembering the laws God has given us, who He is, and what He has done. He is and was our answer, He goes before us, He is with us, and He has done great things!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

birthday boys

It has been another quick month with quite a bit happening around here! We had Eli and Micah's 6th birthday, 2 of my brothers and one sister in law came to visit, we reached our 3 month home mark with Hope, and had spring break!

Eli and Micah turned 6 on March 23, and that is still settling in. I can't believe my first 2 are 6! Their birthday was on a Friday, and Aaron signed up to be the Watchdog at their school that day (basically dad's sign up to spend the day at school, helping with whatever the teacher's need, and just being a male presence during the day). It was a little trickier fitting in our usual birthday routine before they had to leave, but we did it, just a little faster. :) Angela had helped me with the decorations the night before (Aaron was gone, and very thankful, ha!), and I made the traditional chocolate chip teddy bear pancakes. They opened a couple of gifts from us, and Ben and Angela, and then they were off!

I also made treats to take with them for their classes, they informed me that, "moms don't really come for birthdays," and realized again how much easier it will be if they are in the same class next year. 24 treats instead of 50 anyone? After school Aaron took them and 2 of their friends from school to the Ultimate Pizza Machine, and Ben and Angela met them there with Isaac. Hope and I stayed home, and waited for them to come back so we could have cake and ice cream. They came home so wound up and excited, the pizza machine had been a big hit!

We wanted them to feel special and loved on their special day, and I think they did. I was a little sad about the fact that I hardly saw them at all on their birthday, so different from years before, but I did get some time alone with them on Sunday morning. I love having 6 year olds, maybe my favorite age yet? I truly love spending time with them, they are funny and sweet, and they are becoming more responsible and trustworthy. I have seen a lot of growth this year in them, in their confidence and independence, and I feel so thankful and honored to be their mom.

So many memories flash through my mind when I think back these 6 years, and before they were born:
-laying on our couch downstairs while on bedrest and feeling them have the hiccups, at the same time!
-just staring at them, as they slept side by side on my lap right after they were born
-playing on the floor for hours, watching them smile at each other, dancing around the living room, and reading
-getting out of the house in our double stroller, lots of extra attention!
-moving them into big boy beds, they looked so little
-the agonies (and I do mean agonies) of potty-training
-welcoming a little brother, they were just over 2 when Isaac was born and pretty much the cutest

So thankful for these 2. I never in a million years imagined myself with identical twin boys, but wow, I am just blown away by the gift it is to be their mom.