Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Christmas you were 3 and 1.

I saw this post idea on another blog and loved it.
Christmas 2009
The Christmas you were 3 and 1.

Hey Guys! I just wanted to write down what this Christmas has been like for the three of you and your dad and I, so I don't forget. This Christmas, Eli and Micah, you are 3 1/2, and totally into Christmas. You really seem to "get it" this year, and are so excited about all the special events that we have going on. You helped mommy decorate this year, and were most excited about YOUR nativity ( a Little People nativity that your Nana got you) which you totally remembered, and the Christmas tree. You so wanted to put on all of your ornaments all by yourself, which you did for the most part, except the breakable ones. :) Some of your favorite ornaments were the Superman, Spiderman, and Kung Foo Panda ones. You would find the perfect spot for each one, and then run back to me and ask for another.

You have also loved pulling out all of our Christmas books, and reading them over and over. This year the favorites were The Little Drummer Mouse, and Bear Wakes Up. Your great aunts Cheryl and Connie have given you most of those precious books.

Another tradition you have been totally into has been our advent calendar. Each day the two of you, (Isaac will get in on this next year!), take turns putting up one of the little felt magnets that correspond with each day. You never forget to do to it, and you never forget whose turn it is!
It has been such a blast seeing Christmas through your eyes, and appreciating so much all the simple things that make it so special. You don't need presents or parties, what you love most is to have me make some hot chocolate, really more like warm chocolate :), and curl up together in front of the fire and read our Christmas books.

We have talked a lot about giving, and how that is really what Christmas is about, giving gifts because God gave us the most wonderful gift in Jesus. That is my prayer for all of you, that the true meaning and message of Christmas will remain deep in your hearts when the Christmas tree is gone and the presents opened.

We told you the truth about Santa this year too. Your dad and I went back and forth about it, but just didn't feel comfortable leading you toward that for many reasons. You definitely would have fallen for Santa, that's for sure, but I think the fun of it is still there for you. Neither one of you seemed very suprised by it, although you have asked about Santa a couple of times since then.

Eli and Micah, thank you for helping your dad and I to reevaluate our own hearts this Christmas season, and make sure that as we are trying to lead you toward Jesus this Christmas, we are seeking Him ourselves.

Isaac, wow buddy, you have kept me on my toes even more this Christmas! You are right there with your big brothers, and so want to do everything they do. So, when you saw them decorating the tree, you of course wanted to do it to. And you have. And do. Every. Day. :) You love finding Baby Jesus in the manger and showing him to me, and more often than not, he is not in the manger, but where you left him on your last adventure.

We have not put any presents under the tree, even though they are wrapped and ready, mostly because of you, big guy! You would be into those presents faster than stink on a skunk, as my dad would say. It has actually been a blessing really, because now instead of the focus everyday being on those presents under the tree, we can focus on that manger in their place instead.

Isaac, if I have learned anything this year about Christmas decorations, I can put it into one word-nonbreakable. That is what this family needs with you this year! The other day I was pulled into the room by your very worried brother Micah, and there you were sitting on the side table squeezing to smithereens a vase full of ball ornaments. It is truly a miracle you didn't get cut, as you were surrounded by shards of glass. You would think I would have it down, with two big brothers ahead of you, but you are taking me to levels I have never been before!
Isaac, my prayer for you this Christmas, is that you will begin to understand, even at the age of 1 1/2 that the best part of Christmas is the love and joy our family shares because of the grace of that baby in the manger you love so much.

Well my sweet boys, Christmas is just 3 days away, and I have no doubt you will wear yourselves, and your dad and I out with the anticipation and joy that day brings. I love celebrating this time of year with you, you have made it richer than I could ever have anticipated and I love all three of you with all my heart.


Monday, December 14, 2009

chapter books

Eli and Micah have loved reading since they were only a few months old. I would lug both of them upstairs, gather a pile of books and we would all sit in the rocking chair in their room and read. It was something we could all do together that didn't require a whole lot of effort on my part. They have this book called Hooray for Fish that they would get so excited about reading when they were probably 5 or 6 months old. I would sit them propped up on my bed and pull it out, and their little legs would start kicking and they would smile these huge toothless grins.
I started reading to them before naptime everyday when they started taking consistent naps, and that is still our routine today. We have read all of our books, over and over, they have them memorized, I have them memorized, and I was starting to feel like if I had to read another Berenstein Bear or Curious George book I was going to poke my eyes out. So, rather than doing that and ruining a beloved tradition forever, I decided to pull out a chapter book and see how they did. We started with Stuart Little, and lo and behold, they sat and listened and followed along and begged for more at the end of each chapter! So, I started thinking back to books I loved when I was little and we made a trip to the library and checked out Charlotte's Web, and The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe. They loved those too! Right now we are reading books by Beverly Cleary, books about Henry, Ramona, and Beezus, and we are all loving our naptime ritual once again. Well, really just I am loving it again, the boys never stopped!

Friday, December 11, 2009

her name

We have chosen the name Hope for our baby girl. I loved this name before we started the adoption process, and always had it in mind, just never had the chance to use it! I cling to what it stands for, not just in this adoption, but in my life. Knowing Jesus means hope is something we always have, it is like a life line, because when everything else is gone, hope is still there. Even if our life here on earth seems as bad as it can possibly get, we can wake up each morning knowing that we still have our life in heaven and our relationship with Jesus. I have not yet walked, "through the valley of the shadow of death," and I would never want to make light of the horrible situations that people are going through, people who know Jesus, but I can believe the promises we have in His word and choose to focus on those.
There have been a couple of times so far during this process, where I have needed to be encouraged, and the Lord used this name/word to encourage me. The first time was right at the very beginning. The paperwork seemed overwhelming and like we were having a hard time even getting started. I was cleaning out my desk, something I never do, and found some old pictures from a calendar I had saved from years earlier. One in particular I thought would be so cute in a little girl's room if we ever had one. It was a Mary Englebreit picture and the quote was "Hope springs eternal." Tears welled up in my eyes because that was exactly what my heart needed. Another time, I was cleaning out one of my purses, (I am sensing a theme here!), and found a bookmark I had made at one time that simply said Hope. And another time I was having my quiet time when I ran across this verse from Psalm 61:5, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him." In each of these instances it was like God spoke right to my innermost heart, reminding me of His love and sovereignty, when I really needed that reminder. I know the road ahead of us will be hard and long, and I will need many more of these reminders, but how precious it is to know that He will be there every time to remind me. Hope. Lord willing this will be our daughter's name, as well as the focus of my life.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

adoption 2

There are several questions that we get asked a lot concerning adoption. One is "Why Ethiopia?" There really wasn't one main reason we chose Ethiopia, more like several little ones. Aaron has traveled to Africa three times, once to Kenya for 6 months in college, and twice now to Zambia. So, having a connection to Africa was appealing, even though neither of us has been to Ethiopia. Another reason we chose Ethiopia is, you only have to travel once. Some countries require two trips, one to choose your child, and another when the adoption is final, and with little ones, we felt like one trip would be all we could do. We aren't taking the boys with us, but thinking about leaving them for an extended time twice is a little nerve-wracking, not so much for them, but for our gracious family members who would be taking care of them! Also, so far the Ethiopian government has been fairly stable as far as adoptions go. There haven't been, that I have heard about anyway, major issues with the government threatening to shut down adoptions or getting super involved and creating new laws or mandates concerning adoption. We do know this could change at any time, but so far we haven't heard of that happening.

Another question we get is about the cost. Adoption is expensive and international adoption is overwhelmingly expensive. It is so hard to know how to answer this question, we obviously aren't millionaires, but God has provided. That is what is comes down to, all we have is His, and we have chosen to use what He has given us in this way. We have been saving since we got married, not necessarily for adoption, but for something. And we are pretty frugal and aware of how much we spend. Not in an extreme way by any means, but we don't have cable, car payments, or credit card debt. I even feel weird writing that because really, we are doing this because of God's grace in our lives and His providing. We are just trying to be good stewards, and He has laid adoption on our hearts, so we are trying to be faithful to that.

Another question is whether we know the age or gender of the child. We did have the option of choosing the age and gender and we chose an infant, up to 12 months at the time of referral and a girl. In Ethiopia there has to be a year between your youngest child and the child you adopt. We didn't want to adopt a child older than Eli and Micah, and trying to fit one in between the boys and Isaac would be pretty tricky. We will get her referral which includes pictures and as much history as they have about her. Than after we accept it, there will be a court date in Ethiopia which can also take a few months to pass. So, by the time we bring her home, she may be older than 12 months.

adoption 1

There is so much I want to say about this, it's hard to know where to start. Adoption has been on my mind for many years, before I was married or had kids of my own. I have always thought a lot about kids in need, and felt my heart pulled toward wanting to help them. When I was really little, like probably 5 or 6, I wanted to be a missionary to Africa after seeing something on t.v. about the starving children there. And my first "real" baby doll was the black bitty baby doll from the American Girls collection. Since then, other than giving financially and praying (though not as faithfully as I should), I haven't done a whole lot with these desires of mine. Until about 4 months ago. Four months ago, Aaron and I started the adoption process for a baby girl from Ethiopia. We had talked about it off and on a few times, and he knew my heart about it, but it was so neat to see how God worked out the timing in his heart. He had the opportunity to travel to Zambia twice with our church, and work directly with some orphans there, and when he returned he was as ready as I was. Which can I just say is a huge blessing. This process has been hard and frustrating, and we have needed to be able to lean on and count on each other. I'm sure that the individual feelings we have about it are different, but the desire we both have is the same, if that makes sense. So, we started praying and researching, and decided to go with an agency based in Texas called Gladney. I have been reading different adoption blogs for about two years now, and a lot of them used Gladney, and had really good experiences. Gladney does a great job of taking care of both the families wanting to adopt and the children waiting to be adopted.

There was the initial request for more information which included a short application, then the application to receive the acual application, and then finally the big application. We learned that we would be doing paperwork for 4 different areas: Gladney, our homestudy agency (since Gladney didn't have representatives here we had to choose a different agency to conduct our homestudy), immigration, and our dossier. It has been interesting to see how Aaron and I process information. He wanted to lay everything out, and we ended up buying a HUGE whiteboard, which has been super helpful. I, on the other hand, wanted to do each section a little at a time, just what we needed. It was overwhelming to me to think about everything at once, but overwhelming to him to not be able to see the whole picture. We actually fit together pretty well and provide a good balance for each other. There were probably around 40 different letters, certificates, reports, etc. that we needed to gather, sign, and notarize. And several that we had to do over more than once due to not really knowing what we were doing, and little mistakes we made.

Currently, we have finished all the paperwork on our end, unless we hear differently that is, and are waiting for our last fingerprint appoinment for immigration. It was supposed to be today, but we had a major snowstorm last night, and the office is closed. After that, it takes about 2 1/2 months to get those processed, and then we will officially be on the waiting list. The wait right now is about 8 months for a referral, but things change all the time, so could be longer or possibly shorter. After that there is a court date in Ethiopia, and after that Aaron and I will travel there to pick up our daughter!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

my three

So, I just wanted to write down some things about my boys, personality traits, interests, funny things they say, etc. I have been terrible about keeping up their baby books, especially poor Isaac. Eli and Micah I did okay, but have really slacked off lately. And, unfortunately I know I won't remember much, despite my greatest efforts.

Micah, 3 1/2- Micah is such a sweetheart. He is very sensitive, both to others and personally. When he and Eli get out of the van and Aaron is with us, they usually want to both get out on "Daddy's side," but before hopping out Micah will usually ask me if it "will make me sad that no one got out on my side." He seems to be more aware of others and their feelings. He is pretty friendly, and doesn't seem to be that shy or afraid of new people. He will tell you his name if asked, and that he is three, and sometimes that he is a twin. He loves all things boy; swords, super heroes, cars, dirt, balls, etc., but his current favorite color is pink, and he picked princess stickers from the doctor which he then proceeded to stick in the van on his side where they stayed for months. He plays well with other kids, especially kids a little older than himself. He also plays well on his own, although he doesn't get the chance very often. He loves his little brother, and has always been interested in other babies.

Eli, 3 1/2- Eli is hilarious. He makes the funniest faces, especially this one where he sort of squints his eyes and looks to the side. He is more dominant than Micah, both in size (although it's just a pound), and often in their play. He takes just a little bit longer to warm up in new situations, and often will let Micah talk for him. He is pretty stubborn, when something is on his mind, he goes after it until he gets it. He LOVES his baba (blanket) and his thumb. Sometimes he just wants to go upstairs and sit on his bed and be with his baba. I'm not sure when we will tackle this issue, it is definitely not going away as he gets older. He says when he is 4 he will give it up, but I'm not so sure. He also loves all things boy, and has a great imagination. He is constantly coming up with scenarios involving dragons, knights, swords and bad guys. His current favorite color is purple. He would rather play with Micah than on his own, and when they do have roomtime, he usually scales the gate first to go in Micah's room. Eli is also a great storyteller, and a lot of his stories start with, "When I was a big boy..." :)

Isaac, 18 months- Isaac is such a joy. I have enjoyed him so much, and as he gets older he just gets more and more fun. He currently says, uh-oh, mama, dada, moon, milk/more, baba, bobo (paci), bye-bye, night-night, fish, baby, ear, bear, and there are probably others. Right now he probably says uh-oh hundreds of times a day. If he thinks anything looks different or weird he says uh-oh and points to it. The other day I bent over and my shirt came up and he saw my back and promptly said uh-oh. He also can meow, tweet, and moo. He is all over the place, and hard for me to keep track of. He loves his big brothers and is happy as long as he is where they are. One of his favorite games right now, is to be chased. He gives you a big grin, and looks over his shoulder while he runs away as fast as his little legs can go. He is also a very loud child. I am thinking this is due to having two other guys to be heard over, but he has a scream and is not afraid to use it! We are trying to work on this right now, but I'm not sure how well we are doing. He is very friendly, and will go up to strangers and say hi. While his brothers have always been on the smaller side, Isaac has always been a big boy. In fact he is wearing clothes right now that Eli and Micah wore just a year ago.

So that is a very quick update about what my boys are doing these days. They are such a joy to me, and despite days that can be very long and frustrating, there is truly no place I would rather be than with them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

no t.v week

Well, we made it. The end of our "no t.v. week" is here. Last Sunday we came home from a wonderful week at my parents house in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving. We all LOVE going to Oklahoma and spending time with my family, and Eli and Micah have really started to look forward to our trips there. Nana and Papa have fruit loops, Andy and Mark's old GI Joe's, cable, and did I say fruit loops? :) They love to wake up early and watch cartoons before breakfast, and know exactly what shows are on. With my brothers around too, the tv is just on a lot more than at our house, so they end up watching it at random other times throughout the day. Plus, getting to Nana and Papa's house is about an 8 hour car ride, and I have no qualms about letting them watch movies on our drive there. "Whatever we have to do" is sort of our motto for those trips. And by the way, how in the world did our parents survive before those things were invented?! Anyway, after a week of a whole lotta tube time, I decided to just turn it off. I had thought about doing this before, but honestly, tv helps me. It is the one thing I know I can count on to hold my boys attention for however long I need, and the thought of not having that to fall back on was a little uncomfortable. It is especially appreciated when I am making dinner. I actually enjoy cooking when I am not trying to get it done as fast as a I possibly can amidst a lot of screaming, wrestling, and crying. What is it about that dinner time hour anyway? My rule with tv has loosely been 30 minutes at a time and usually just once a day. So it's not like they are parked there all day long, but still they act differently when they watch it, and it gets in their little minds so they ask about watching it a lot. And that is just PBS because we don't have cable! It was just nice to have it off of the table, not even an option for them or for me. It's like we all needed to push our reset button and get back to a point where we are not depending on, thinking about, and addicted to that glowing box. Mission accomplished, at least for this week!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


As any mom of more than one kid will probably tell you, finding quality one on one time with each kid is pretty rare and hard to pull off. And having twins right off the bat, I have struggled from day one with feeling like I never have enough time for them. It is something Aaron and I talk about all the time, and really want to improve but just haven't figured out yet a great plan for making that time happen. One of the greatest benefits about having twins, they always have a buddy around, can also be one of its greatest drawbacks, they always have a buddy around! Anyway, lately I have been more aware and thankful for moments I have with them, just the two of us. Even for only a couple of minutes, being able to interact with one little guy at a time is such precious time. And they love it too and just soak it up. This week I have had time to cuddle, chase, and make cookies with each of them and only them. We haven't done anything different to make that happen, it just has, and thank the Lord I have been aware enough to take advantage of it, and just enjoy my boys, one at a time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

starting a blog

So, I have been thinking about starting a blog for months now. I love reading other people's, and I think it is such a great way to document and keep up with our family as it changes and grows. It also sort of freaks me out, just thinking about other people reading it and finding out what really goes on in our home, and inside of me! But, I really think I will be glad someday to look back and remember all that went on during this hectic time in our lives. For those who don't know me, my husband of 7 years and I have three little boys, 31/2 year old twins and an 18 month old. They keep us laughing and tired pretty much all the time, and I love being their mom more than anything in the world. We also are in the process of adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia, which thrills me every time I think about it. So, here we go blog, I am going to give you a try, see where we go from here.