Monday, November 30, 2009

A Break Through

There has been one question that has plagued us every Sunday since we have been home from Ethiopia. When should we start transitioning our sweet peas into the nursery at our church? It has been a struggle every week. We have worked hard on attachment so we do not want to do anything that would unravel all of our hard work. But have you ever tried sitting through church with a toddler? Have you ever tried sitting through church with 2 toddlers?

In all honesty I have not gotten one thing out of Sunday service since we have been back. How can I or Hubby for that matter concentrate when we are busy trying to keep our kids busy while still being quiet. This gets a little harder too when Jocelyn decides that whoever is praying is taking too long. If someone’s prayer is past what she deems necessary she clearly says “Amen” in the middle of their prayer. It is a good thing she looks so darn cute while doing it. Most people just snicker and smile.

Last Sunday when we only made through worship time before Isaac began to get rowdy we decided to take them to the nursery and sit in the nursery with them. I will admit that I am the one that pushed for it. Charlie tends to be more reserved while this stay at home Mommy is longing for an hour of time in God’s house without a really cute wiggly daughter on her lap. To be honest they did quite well. Of course it helped that we were there sitting on the floor while they watched and played with other toddlers in the room.

This Sunday I was more than ready for Isaac and Jocelyn to go into the nursery for service. I am still having days (every once in a while) where it is hard for me to adjust. Saturday was one of those days. So…Sunday I was ready to actually worship and hear God’s Word minus our sweet peas.

We took them into the nursery and Hubby kept them busy while I signed us in. We noticed a small window of opportunity where they were both watching the other kids play so we snuck out of the nursery. Hubby and I told them to not let them cry for more than 5 minutes before getting us. We did not want them having separation anxiety overload. A nursery to them looks an awful lot like an orphanage (except with toys). As we rounded the corner of the hallway I could hear someone crying…”don’t listen” I kept telling myself. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t Jocelyn but I knew it was. I didn’t say anything to Hubby because I knew he would turn around and go get them. My only goal was 5 minutes in service without them.

I won’t lie it was hard to focus in service. I was worried about them…wondering if they thought we had abandoned them…wondering if we were doing this too soon. I kept checking the pager they gave us to make sure it was on and it was. The worship service was now over and Pastor Neil was speaking…

Seriously, do they not know where to find us? Our little sweet peas couldn’t possibly make it through service could they? I scribble a note on a piece of paper and hand it to Charlie letting him know I want to leave before service ends so we can see how they are interacting with the other kids. I was also worried they might get scared if they saw other parents picking up their kids if we were not there.

We get down to the nursery and never got the chance to see them playing because by chance Jocelyn happened to be looking at the door just when we got there. Her response triggers Isaac to look up. Can I just say I love seeing Isaac react to seeing his Daddy? It is a beautiful sight. One I wish everyone could behold. My son needs his Mommy but he adores, adores, and adores his Daddy. He usually yells “Daddy” amidst giggles and running in place with shear excitement. He was thrilled to us and couldn’t wait to cuddle up to Daddy. Jocelyn’s reaction was totally opposite. She instantly was distressed and had her arms up letting me know she needed to be held.

It was good to see that they had been in the same room with Melissa who heads up the pre-school ministry. Our sweet peas our familiar with her since she is our friend, has been at our house and is in our Sunday School Class. She informed us that they did great. They were crying when she got down to the nursery so she took them with her into the room with older toddlers. I think it was just what they needed – a familiar face to help subside their fears.

But the most amazing thing is what happened after church. And yes I realize this is a long post to finally get to my point but I thought it was important for you to understand what was going on to fully appreciate what took place next. Hubby and I came to the conclusion pretty quickly that Jocelyn had a break through Sunday. So what is a break through you ask? Well…it is when we can see an undeniable change in one of our sweet peas for the better. What is even more amazing about this breakthrough is that it comes on the heels of a really hard day for Jocelyn. Last Wednesday we could tell something was wrong but we didn’t know what. You could see the sadness and distress in her eyes.

So Sunday was amazing. We believe Jocelyn has come to a whole new level of security. We believe she finally has realized that we are not going to abandon her. She was so relaxed and happy after we picked her up from the nursery. In fact her constant jibber jabber from her car seat was non-stop. She would talk, laugh then say “hi” while smiling at me. For the first time since bringing her home we saw her 100% relaxed. She was so happy it was like someone had fed her a pound of sugar and had her wash it down with a 2 liter of Pepsi. In fact we couldn’t get her to sleep for her nap. She laid in bed hanging on to the crib rails swinging her legs back and forth saying “Na Na Na Na Na.” It took three trips into their room to settle her down and she still only slept about 30-40 minutes (by the way that is not enough sleep for her).

This new relaxed, overly excited, extra talkative (if that’s even possible) Jocelyn continued on into the night as we headed to my parents house to help them with a few things. She only needed reassurance one time as to where Mommy had gone. The rest of the time she spent laughing and playing with her Grandma worry free 100% relaxed.

We know we will continue to see changes. Most people in the field of adoption will tell you it takes a good year for a child to truly believe they will not be abandoned. Hubby and I believe this is very true and Hubby has a great deal of experience in this area since he wasn’t adopted until the age of 5. We know becoming a family is a process. Each day brings new adventures and joys. And some days bring with it an unexpected break through that fill our hearts with unspeakable joy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Day of Thanksgiving

I will not has been a very emotional day for me. Yep, I get teary eyed pretty easily these days and today was no exception. I found myself many times having to choke back my tears. I have dreamed of this day for a very long time. Hubby and me celebrating Thanksgiving with little ones in tow. I loved every bit of today from organizing the diaper bag to deciding which toys to take to Great Grandma's house. Each step of the way I was holding back the tears. I had to swallow hard to keep from crying when Charlie prayed over dinner and gave thanks for celebrating this year with our sweet peas. I have never been so content or so excited to celebrate this amazing time of the year than right now.

This year was extra special because this is the last year my Grandma plans on cooking Thanksgiving. I think she was just waiting for Isaac and Jocelyn to get home to do one last Thanksgiving dinner before hanging up her apron.

Here is a snippet of our day (don't forget to read about Jocelyn's potty adventure at the end)...

We started off with the usual pre-travel musts like putting on our shoes.

They love going "bye bye" even if Isaac doesn't look like it. In his defense he had just woken up from his nap. It takes a while to get going after a good snooze. Unlike Jocelyn who if you noticed has her mouth open in both pictures...

...that is because she is talking...and talking...and talking....from sunset. Yep, she is all girl. Daddy doesn't usual put her shoes on so she felt the need to instruct him on how to put on her shoes.

We ate as soon as we arrived at Great Grandma's house. Can you see how much my family appreciated me taking pictures?

This was their first time sitting at the table and not in a high chair...

Isaac was in awe of all the food.

After dinner Isaac spent the time driving his cars on Great Grandma's dining room chairs...

While Jocelyn spent the time exploring the vertical blinds...

Hmmm...why would she think it is ok to get in Great Grandma's blinds when it is not ok to get in ours at home?

"Because I am a toddler MaMa...that's what toddlers do"

The rest of the time was spent playing while stripped down to their diaper/underwear (it was way too warm in the house for them).

Yep, that's my daughter's belly. Our tiny little girl...only at 10% for height and 25% for weight...has a belly that can compete with the gut of any beer drinker. Uh no, we do not give her beer nor do we drink it ourselves. I figure she is just trying to keep up with her Grandpa. Sorry Dad she just might have you beat!

Aw...there is nothing like a couple of toddlers to help you rest after a big turkey dinner.

And what better way to end the day than with a kiss from the cutest young man ever...

It's me know...The Pistol Princess

I just thought I would tell you about going potty at my Great Grandma's house since my Mommy might not get all the facts straight.

There I was sitting on the toilet minding my own business...

When out of no where the toilet paper just fell off the roll!

Oooooh this doesn't look good!

I mean Mommy wouldn't think I did this would she?
I mean she only left the bathroom for a minute.
Isn't it amazing how toilet paper can just fall off the roll?!

You see why I had to tell you about going potty at Great Grandma's house?
I'm sure my Mommy wouldn't get all the facts straight.
I just wanted you to know that *poof* and the toilet paper was on the floor.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thankful Heart

I am thankful for:

- Our families and the blessings that come from having them in our life
- My hubby…no words could describe the debt of gratitude I have for him
- My beautiful, amazing, oh so adorable sweet peas…thank you for letting me be your Mommy
- Friends…the next best thing to family
- The emotional and financial support given to us as we adopted Isaac and Jocelyn
- Our home and the way it meets our needs
- Our car…Praise the Lord for all wheel drive (and no we never got stuck in 08’)
- My hubby’s job and they way it provides for our needs
- Our church…our much bigger family
- Those who help me when my two hands are just not enough when I am out with our sweet peas alone
- Great parking spots and those who still believe in holding doors open
- The sweet little giggles and squeals that now fill our home
- Grandparents who lovingly watch Isaac and Jocelyn while we get some of our own time
- The food that fills our pantry, warm blankets and the warmth of our fireplace
- A cup of hot chocolate after a wonderful day of sledding
- A long walk in the snow holding my Hubby’s hand
- And for all the other wonderful things that fill my life
…But more than anything I am thankful for
Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior
His mercy and grace which covers me anew each and every day

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree...Oh Christmas Tree

Can I just say...I love, love, love the holidays. Thanksgiving is always the perfect kick off to the Christmas season. What better way to start the season than to take time to be thankful. It is a good way to start off celebrating Christ’s birth…truly the greatest gift ever given. What could be better than having the God of the universe say “here is my Son…He is my gift to you…the gift of eternal life.” Truly the effort to stay young looking becomes futile at this point. And who needs it? The next time someone wants to tell you about your new gray hair or wrinkle just remind them your body will be perfect in heaven and eternal. Now you see that 100th gray hair isn’t looking so bad is it?

As usual I seem to have digressed down a path that I never intended to go when I started my post. Only I could mix gray hairs in with Christ’s birth.

The real reason for this post is to share with you one of my favorite family traditions…getting a Christmas tree. And as you can all imagine, this year it is going to be extra special. Heavens, everything this year is going to be extra special. Last fall all we could talk about was taking our sweet peas to Huckabas to get a Christmas tree. By the time Christmas arrived last year I was afraid to hope for them to be home for Christmas of 2009. It is amazing to think it took 9 more months than planned to get Isaac and Jocelyn here. Yes, this year is very special.

Friday we will be headed out to the tree farm to pick out our very first Christmas tree as a family of four. Hubby will be carrying the saw and Mommy will be packing every camera and camcorder she can find to record this wonderful event. I can’t wait to cover our tree with a light dusting of flock and then a myriad of tiny white lights. Finally, the tree will be decorated with 3 generations of family ornaments collected over the years. I can’t wait to see their faces light up the first time they see the tree in our house.

Yes, this year is a very special year. This is the year to see Christmas through the eyes of our toddlers.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blind Sided

This weekend Hubby and I went out on our very first date since bringing our sweet peas home. I won't lie. I was like a giddy little school girl. We went to one of our favorite restaurants and to a movie called Blind Side. We have been waiting for its release and it was well worth the wait. It was a phenomenal movie. But I was amazed at how blindsided I was by the movie.

There are a lot of emotions inside of me that run very deep when it comes to adoption. Sometimes these emotions overwhelm me at unexpected times. Seeing the movie Blind Side was one of those unexpected moments. I was overwhelmed with the reality of how blessed I am to have my Hubby and two kids. There is such a fine line between a child found and a child lost forever. My husband could have been one of those permanently lost in the foster care system. He could have aged out without anyone in his life to call family, without a home to go home to. My heart breaks at the enormity of children who age out of the “system.” If they are not close to their foster family or have lost their birth family, where do they go? Whose Thanksgiving table do they sit at? Have they been given any family traditions to cherish? How do they feel when they see families who are close and living in a healthy loving environment?

What if Isaac and Jocelyn hadn’t been taken to a missionary to find them a home? What if their lives in the sea of orphans were not deemed valuable? What if they had been older when their parents died? Would they have been left to raise themselves on the streets of Addis? Would they have lived? Would they have ever known a life outside of hunger and primitive survival? Would they have ever known the love of a family?

Would have my Hubby or my children ever known the love of a family? No…no they would not have if it wasn’t for someone deeming their lives to be worthy of love. In Blind Side a family who had never considered expanding their family found themselves changed forever…changed by the decision to have a homeless child sleep on their couch for one night. This family could not escape the fact that this young man was worthy of love. It was undeniable. His life was torn, broken and filled with moments that would make anyone question whether they were worthy of love. They didn’t have to take this young man in. They didn’t have to make a difference in his life. None of us have to make a difference in an orphaned child’s life. We can easily live out our lives without ever doing anything. But before you continue on with your life, can I ask you a question? Is an orphan worthy of love? Is the child lost in the foster care system longing for someone to care for them and to have some stability…is that child worthy of love? Is the child living in an orphanage longing for someone to call Mommy and Daddy…is that child worthy of love? If they are worthy of love, what are you going to do about it?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unnerware Anniversary

I know I said I would post things we can all do to defend the cause of orphaned children. And I will. this post is dedicated to our little girl who we have affectionately nicknamed The Pistol Princess:

A week ago today Jocelyn started wearing big girls underwear. Or as she likes to call them... unnernare. She just kind of self potty trained (don't you just hate it when that happens?).

For some time now she has wanted to use the "potty". But with all the transitioning, we haven't wanted to overwhelm her or stress her out. I have put her on the potty for fun and so she could get used to balancing on the toilet seat (I have no intention of buying a potty chair).

So last Tuesday I decided to see what would happen if I spent the day doing a little potty training. She did very well if you don't include me misinterpreting one of her signals which resulted in a ummm...well...ummm... a "present" in the dining room. I had to cover my mouth to keep from showing my shock. I didn't want her to think I was upset with her.

"What can I say Mom? I thought you got my signal."

We only had one more glitch on Wednesday so Thursday I took her out and bought her her very first set of unnernare. She wasn't too sure what to think the first day but now she points to them and says "pretty". The only time she wears her diaper now is for nap time and bed time.

For those of you looking for advice on potty training...are you kidding? This first time still adapting to motherhood mom has no clue how to potty train. This is one of the advantages to having a Pistol Princess for a daughter. No one is going to tell her she can't go potty like a big girl!

"I will go potty like big girl Mommy!"

The following message is from Jocelyn:

"I'm calling on all toddlers to give up their diaper wear n' ways and put on a pair of unnernare!"

"I mean who needs a diaper when unnernare are so pretty?"

Your fellow toddler,

The Pistol Princess

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Forty-Seven Times

God scratch that...God commands us 47 times to care for the orphaned and the widow. Why so many times? I believe it is because it is so easy to forget them. It is easy to forget the widow living in a nursing home with no family there to be their voice of need. It is easy to look the other way than to see the look of desperation for food, clothing and love in the eyes of an orphan. Believe me I know. Orphaned children living on the streets of Ethiopia were at every turn. It was so overwhelming I had to look away. But the image of the boy covered with scabs on his face begging not for money but for food to eat still haunts me. How can I make a difference? It is just me. How many of us say this? How many of us truly don't know what to do? The low estimate of orphans worldwide is approximately 20 million. The high estimate is 100 million. With the aids epidemic in Africa and natural disasters in other parts of the world, this number grows at a rapid rate. How do you make a difference? I hope to share an idea with you every day this week. Each one simple...each idea will be something all of us are capable of doing.

So how can there be a simple way when there are so many in need? Here is one very simple idea. There are over 300 million people living in the United States. If 100 million Americans gave only $5 one time, it would fund over 16,670 adoptions. One of the biggest hurdles families face is the financial cost. Many families don't adopt because they don't know how to fund the adoption. Our adoption cost around $37,000 and we still need to re-adopt them here in the US for them to be citizens which will cost an additional $1,000 - $2,000. If it wasn't for the generosity of friends, family, employers, grants and the grace of God, we would not have been able to bring our sweet peas home.

Can you imagine? It would only take $5 given one time by a 1/3 of America to change the lives of 16,670 children. How simple is that? If a 1/3 of all Americans would commit to $5 a month for a year, it would change the lives of over 200,000 orphans. If the money donated only funded 1/2 of the cost of an adoption you would be able to double the number. So a year of $5 a month would change the lives of over 400,000 orphans. Isn't that amazing?! It doesn't seem so overwhelming does it? Are you ready to make a difference in the life of an orphan?

One organization that stands out in supporting families through adoption is Lifesong for Orphans. They even took the time to pray over us several times when we hit some rough spots in our adoption. They are a phenomenal organization with amazing integrity. If you are looking to help an organization that aids families in adoption visit their website at

Are you looking to donate your $5 directly to a family? I know a family in Monroe Washington working feverishly to fund their adoption. Maybe you would like to help them directly. You can visit their blog and contact them there if you would like to "adopt" them in your effort to change the life of an orphan. Their blog is called Worth the Wait at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November - A Very Special Month

Can you believe me a lover of all things Christmas would call November a very special month? isn't even because Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I have a multitude of things to be thankful for. This month holds a special place in my heart because it is National Adoption Month. I hope to take the time this month to honor our children, those waiting to be adopted, the orphanages that care for them, the orphaned families, those in foster care, the tireless caseworkers, the families seeking to adopt, and the organizations passionately seeking ways to help families bring their little ones home.

In an effort to celebrate National Adoption Month I have asked a newly found blogger and hopefully a soon to be friend (Rachel), if I could quote her blog excerpt from November, 9th. She has given me the blessing to do so and I will be forever grateful to her for allowing me to share her thoughts on adoption. I don't believe her words about adopting could be more eloquently stated. I have a few thoughts of my own I will share with you after you have the opportunity to be blessed with her words...

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of a child being “destined” for our family. When considering the whole picture, I envision Jesus crying with our child when he/she had to be separated from the birth family. For every child that is made available for adoption (much to the joy of waiting parents), there is a story of tragedy. Whether it is disease, death, abuse, or poverty, that child has been left alone, a casualty of sin and circumstances. Their stories grieve the heart of God and ours. Rather than "destiny," I think RESTORATION is more accurate. God joins together the grief of being orphaned with the grief of childlessness (in our case) and makes something beautiful – an adoptive family. It's a picture of beauty for ashes. Adoption is a restoration miracle and we give all the credit to our gracious, loving Father who does not "leave us orphans" (John 14:18).

As a wife to a man who was adopted out of the foster care system here in Washington State, and a mother to two newly adopted sweet peas, I can't even begin to explain to you the importance of Rachel's words. Amongst the joy of adoption, you as an adoptive parent can't shake or forget the fact that this amazing child is the product of a great tragedy. They are the product of loss. The loss of a family they may never see again or ever know.

I do have a couple of more thoughts I would like to add to what Rachel has so eloquently penned. I hope I do not take away from what she has said and hopefully she will not mind what I am adding.

I believe the restoration and destiny go hand in hand. God's desire is to always restore. He so deeply desires to lift us out of our life of sin and to transform us into a new life with Him that will lead to an eternity spent with Him. In his effort to restore us, He pre-destined his Son to die on the cross so that we might have eternal life (Eph 1:5). In the same way God takes the tragic loss of an orphan and predestines a family to restore to them that which has been lost. "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (Eph 1:11)"

I love how the Webster dictionary defines destiny: to decree beforehand, to dedicate in advance. I believe God dedicates in advance the adoptive family who will restore the tragedy of the loss for the orphaned child.

I also love what the Webster dictionary has to say about restoration: a representation or construction of the original form. Is the perfect plan for every child to grow up with their birth parents in a loving and nurturing environment? Absolutely. Was it God's desire for us to live in the Garden of Eden with Him without sin? Absolutely. Just as God has restored us through his Son, God has restored the life of an orphan through adoption.

During this month when we celebrate all that we have to be thankful for, will you take the time to consider how you can be a part of restoring the life of an orphan?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We adore you

Have I told you that I am married to a wonderful man? No, I wouldn’t dare tell you he is perfect but he is perfect for me. Let’s face it any man who can put up with me for 15 years should be a good man and he is. Where I fail miserably he excels incredibly. We are a wonderful fit for each other my hubby and me.

Now I have had the privilege of watching him become a Dad.

It is something he has not taken lightly (one of the many qualities about him I admire so much).

He is a wonderful man but an even better father.

Where’s the proof you ask? It’s in the eyes of our children when he comes home each night. The way their eyes light up when they see him walk through the front door is all the proof I need. They adore their Daddy.

Even Jocelyn who didn’t let her Daddy touch her or hold her for the first 10 days we had them. But that is what is also great about my Hubby, he is patient. He patiently waited for his daughter to come to him when she was ready.

Mom is still her favorite but snuggling with Dad isn’t so bad either.

Her favorite thing to do is to call his name. She adores calling “Daddy” and hearing him respond to her. It is such a joy to watch.

Now for Isaac, Daddy is his main man. There is no one quite like Dad and I love seeing the two of them together.

Isaac has so much to tell Daddy when he gets home every night.

He gets so excited too when Daddy comes through the door. It’s so cute because he wants Daddy to hold him but he is so excited he can’t hold still. He ends up climbing up and down Daddy umpteen times before he can settle down.

Every night when I announce that it is time for baths he immediately goes over and grabs Daddy. Nope, there is no going upstairs without Dad.

I am so blessed to be married to such a good man but I am even more blessed that he is such a good father. Today Hubby/Daddy I want you to know you mean the world to your family. We love you and adore you. Thank you for being a part of our lives.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Toddler Picture Taking Woes - Christmas Card Style

The only thing worse than taking pictures of our busy toddlers?

Taking pictures of our sweet peas for our Christmas Cards.

So the question is...was I able to get a picture?


did bad pictures "rear" its ugly head today?

Was I able to get them to look at the camera?

Were there any with their eyes open?

Did I get more than 500 shots before the tears began to fall?

Did Jocelyn totally annoy Isaac?

Did they pray for God to stop me from taking more pictures?


I guess you will have to wait for Christmas to find out!

By the way...

there are only 47 days until Christmas...

are you ready?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Toddler Picture Taking Woes!

Those of you who know me well know I love photography.

I will never claim to be very good at it but I do enjoy trying to capture moments I see that I find to be beautiful...





...well you get the idea.

It is always a challenge to me to try and capture in the lens what I am seeing or feeling at that moment.

Having children has brought a new dimension to taking pictures; one that I have not necessarily enjoyed. We do not have good lighting in our home for taking pictures even during the daytime with lights on. And I hate using flash. Unfortunately the weather here has been cold and somewhat rainy. So…there haven’t been many opportunities to shoot outside. Of course one of my best opportunities was the day I took them to the park but forgot my camera (I will discuss in more detail the loss of my mind in another post). For now, let’s stick with my toddler picture taking woes. So what are some of the frustrations that have come with trying to take pictures of our sweet peas?

Well…first of all they won’t hold still. Imagine that! I won’t bore you with the details of trying to make the adjustments needed for their fast movements. Or the fact that I am having problems using my flash which I desperately need inside of our home. My action shots have ended up on the cutting floor because well...they are all a blurr...

the cutest kiss ever...blurr...blurr...blurr

or they move out of the frame before you have taken the shot...

Besides trying to capture our sweet peas who only hold still for naps, there is the problem of getting them to look at the camera...

there is the ever popular shot of of both of them looking away...

or the shot of only one looking at the camera...

and my favorite is when they want to be inches away from the lens...

...please Mama, just let me touch the lens...

Of course last but not least of my toddler picture taking woes is getting them to smile...

But in the end...

when I am able to muddle through all the bad shots...

I find that I have captured a moment or two that take my breath away...

a moment shared between brother and sister...

moments of silliness...

moments of reflection...

moment of "how can I get in my box with Tigger"...

Each and every moment captured is worth the hundreds of blurred, distorted and missed shots. For the moments captured have been captured forever...

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