Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Breathe deep the chaos.

Ohhh, whadda week... Wowza. Ok, so last Monday, we made the decision that we were definitely choosing to adopt (as opposed to foster). I met with the Executive Director of the adoption agency that we chose to work with, asked a million questions, and learned a whole lot, and basically knew immediately that this was the place for us.

On Tuesday I scheduled our Home Study for a week and two days later. And then I started printing pages and pages and pages of "things to do" forms, that all had to be ready when the social worker comes to check out our house that next Thursday. And then I thought "oh crap, what was I thinking scheduling this so soon?!" Then the agency sent a package of contracts and forms to fill out and sign as well.

So this past week, Bryan and I have spent pretty much every day signing things and then getting them notarized, we have been finger printed, we've had background checks done, we have drawn floor plans of our house, and gotten reference letters, we've each had a physical, we've cleaned our house from top to bottom with a toothbrush (well maybe not that extreme, but close), we've had the carpets cleaned, Bryan has weeded and wacked all of the bushes in the yard and re-mulched, Bailey has been groomed, we have painted the chickens toenails (ok, that's not true either), and we have made lists about what we will need for this little guy. We've made rooming decisions about who is going where and what beds and mattresses to we need to buy/get rid of/convert back into a crib, etc... and today I finished our family profile book, which was the hardest task of all to complete. (Basically I had to compile years of our life, and a ridiculous number of pictures of that life, into a recommended 16-20 pages, and that was a bit difficult for me to narrow down.. So I finally submitted it at 35 pages... Whatever. The agency will go through it and recommend editing if needed, so I am happy to relinquish that task.)

Anyway, needless to say, it's been a little crazy around here. My dining room is a mess of piles stacked high of forms, and lists, and file folders, and sticky notes. But I do have to say, I thrive in this kind of environment and situation. I love all of this hurry up and get it done business. I love deadlines, and find that I am most productive when I have the most to get done. And while the sight of my dining room table right now makes me want to make a list about cleaning off the table, it also makes me smile. Part of me wants to rush through this and get it done quick-like-a-fox, and part of me wants to stand still and quiet in the middle of the mess and breathe deep the chaos of the paperwork that brings me closer to our child.

My kids have been absolutely amazing through this process. This week I have turned down a beach trip and a play date, not played with them as much as I normally do, and had a lot on my mind because we're muscling through these tasks, but there has been no complaining from them about it. They are so excited to be here, in this place, right now.

Today I was finishing our family profile, and reading over our letter to the birth mothers that might be reading our 35 page profile and possibly choosing us. Bella made this, and Grady and Lilly signed it, to be added to our book:

My heart just smiles. And she's telling the truth. We pray for him all the time.

Tomorrow is the big day! The social worker comes, and I get to pull out our folder of carefully completed paperwork and hand it to her with a big smile. One step closer!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Exciting Family News!

This post has been a long time coming. Long time, as in over two years. After MUCH prayerful consideration, Bryan and I have begun the long process of adoption.

It started when Lilly was born. Not even an hour after her delivery, while still in the recovery room, friends began asking "are you done?". Even in that moment, I knew I wanted more children.

Our pastor preached this sermon on June 3rd, 2012. It was over two years ago, and it was in the middle of a series from my favorite book of the Bible. It was about true faith and pure and genuine religion. A faith that is real, cares for the orphans and widows in their distress. My "moment" was right at about the 35 minute mark in the sermon. I remember sitting backstage on the floor, cross legged, waiting for the end of the sermon, for the worship team to go onstage. Towards the end of the message, Glenn said "Adoption, adoption, adoption", and in that moment, I knew. Right then. I knew that message was just for me. And I knew that God had put it in my heart to adopt.

After months of prayer, I knew that message was not just for me, but for my whole family. While it had been on my heart, and on my mind for a year, it wasn't necessarily on the heart of my husband. I knew Bryan wasn't opposed to it, but that it also wasn't really pressing on his heart, like it was on mine. We had talked about it, in a kind of "what if" way, but I never wanted to push. I knew that if it was right for our family, if it were truly a desire from God, it would be unanimous. And I prayed that it would be led by my husband.

Last year, we went to an adoption seminar. After we got home, Bryan initiated a family meeting. We discussed adoption, and how that might affect our family. We asked the kids for their thoughts and feelings, and questions. Unanimously, we agreed that we would love to add a little boy to our family.

So at very long last, the time has come. We will be pursing a domestic adoption of a baby boy! Yay! It took us a while to finalize that decision, so now we are going after it "guns blazing" as Bryan says. We have talked and thought and prayed for over two years, and we're ready to go.

I LOVE how God speaks in our lives, and I love His timing. Over the past two years He has gently been working on our hearts, changing our desires, and making us more like Him. He has opened our eyes to see the needs of others that we might not have otherwise noticed, and called us to act on those needs.

If you would like to join us on this road, we would sure appreciate it. Right now the biggest support would be in the form of prayers for our journey.

-That God would be preparing our family for the challenges we'll face in this process.
-That we will walk in faith, even when the road is hard.
-That we will quickly and effectively get through our paperwork.
-That we would be joyful even as we face trials.
-That we will keep our eyes open to the lessons God is using to teach us, and that we would grow in maturity through those.
-That we will have realistic expectations.
-That we will be patient during this time of waiting.

I think that's a good place to start, although the prayers we are praying right now could go on and on and on. Thank you in advance for your support.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Lesson in Parenting: A Broken Window

**A Disclaimer: I am in NO way claiming to have all the answers (for darn sure!) on parenting, I'm just sharing some things that these crazy kids are teaching me about myself and my parenting style, and how we roll around here.**

A few days ago, this happened...

Ohhh, why do my best lessons in parenting come from Grady? I had told him that he could not come inside the house until he had cleaned up the mess he made on the back porch. The girls were quietly playing on the floor of the playroom, surrounded by Barbies, and Barbie shoes, and Barbie cars and clothing. He tried to convince the girls to open the window and help him climb in. When they refused and then ignored him, he picked up a rock and threw it at the window in anger. The glass popped, and flew in little pieces all around the girls. 

The moment it happened, Grady burst into tears and hid behind the house. I picked the girls straight up out of the mess, and carried them out of the room. And then I walked outside. Grady came running out from behind the house, sobbing. "I'm so sorry, mama. I'm so sorry." I told him to sit down on the chair and wait, and then I walked back inside... and started laughing. Oh, I laughed and laughed, and shook my head. It was one of those "you have GOT to be kidding me!" moments. My eighteen year old cousin stood there staring at me with big huge wide blue eyes. My girls were shocked and horrified at the injustice of it all. And I literally laughed out loud (but of course my son did not see me!).

To be very honest, I don't think he actually knew that the glass would break like that, and I think it surprised and scared him. None-the-less, I brought him in, without any yelling (or laughing), gave him a box and he cleaned up the glass, and then vacuumed the room. We covered the window and then he went back outside to clean up the original mess on the back porch. 

That evening when Bryan got home from work, they measured the window, grabbed Grady's wallet and the two of them went to Ace. Grady had been saving his spending money to buy a plastic pool for the backyard, but instead he spent all of his money on a replacing the window he had broken. 

We try to make our children's consequences as close to "real life" consequences as possible. So when Grady breaks a window, he does what I would do in the same situation.  I would clean up the glass being sure to shake the glass out of Barbie's hair, then go to the store and buy a replacement with my hard earned money.

I didn't need to yell, or berate, or spank, or take the offense personally. The lesson was learned. Getting mad and throwing a rock in anger didn't solve anything. He still had to clean up the outside mess before he could come in. Also, throwing a rock at a window is not a good choice, because the consequences of that action just plain stink. 

Choosing to discipline this way lets me relax, because the choices these children make are their own. And the results that follow are their own as well. While it does take a little thought to think of appropriate consequences to follow, I don't have to feel guilty later for the way I behaved or reacted, or how hard I spanked or about what I said in anger. I don't have to get angry at all, and an actual lesson about how real life works is taught. It's a beautiful thing. And it works for us.

And while what works for us, might not work for you, or for your children, I want to encourage you to stretch beyond spanks and timeouts, and aim to teach your children about reality through real life experiences. God has given us a wonderful example of a Father's love, one full of grace and second chances, but also of justice and absolutes. As parents we have a wonderful opportunity to teach our children and mold them in the way they were created by God to be. They are fearfully and wonderfully made, and it's important to remember that while standing in the middle of broken glass.

Happy Saturday to ya, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Lovin' 2014, Part 1

Good Summer morning to ya!
I am entitling this post "Part 1", because I can be sure there will be more summer lovin' posts to follow! Summers are just made for lovin' anyway, right? 

We have some exciting family news on the horizon (no, I'm not pregnant), but we are looking forward to sharing that soon. Yay!

For now though, here are a few things we love from our summer.

1. Pool parties. Bella says that in order for it to constitute a "pool party" there must be music and popsicles. I say that a pool party just means having some fun in the pool, and friends make it even better! 

2. Quiet jammie-clad mornings playing games with siblings. I love these little loves, and their precious little hearts. 

3. Four Egg Days. We usually average about three eggs a day, so when all the girls are cookin on any one day, it's a "four egg day" celebration! Thank you ladies!





4.  Trips to the Beach! Oh how we love going to the beach. 

But it's not nearly as exciting when it's dead!

Some added unexpected fun in our day was running into two different families of friends.

5. Sidewalk chalk mermaids and front yard playing. On a funny note, my cousin Chelsea asked me "Is it bad that I don't want to play freeze tag right after we eat dinner?". Uhhh, no. I never want to play freeze tag.

6. Waterfront Melbourne Fireworks. This 4th of July, the fireworks were postponed a bit due to rain. We got the kids dressed in jamas, and headed to the riverfront to watch them.

 7. Family Pictures. The evening before my sweet cousin went back to Pennsylvania, we managed to snap a few pictures of all of us together. I am so thankful for the time we were able to spend with her while she was here.

This summer has been fast and furious, full of fun and activities, but also speckled with purposeful moments of quiet and calm, and grocery shopping... It's been so good, and we have so much to be thankful for. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Goin' Off the Rails on a Crazy Train

All Aboard! 

Today's post title is brought to you by my cousin, who is much too young to know that song!

My cousin Chelsea has been staying with us for the past week and a half, and we have really been having a great time with her. Somehow, over the past ten years or so, she has turned into a "grown-up". She is responsible and smart, helpful and caring, and beautiful inside and out. I have really been enjoying her friendship, and getting to know her more. I've also been loving all the new things I'm learning from her, like about all kinds of (new to me) social media, that microscopic mites are living in my eyelashes, how to braid hair, and how to punch a wolf in the mouth if it is attacking you... It's been a really fun week.

This past week we crossed off one of our summer bucket list items: "Ride the SunRail to Winter Park for a picnic". We planned a little trip with friends and made a go of it. 

Our friends boarded the train at the stop ahead of us, so we eagerly awaited their arrival and pick-up.  

Here it comes!

Yay friends!

We arrived at Winter Park after a fun ride, and found a beautiful setting for our picnic, park and play. We ate lunch, smelled the flowers, ran around in the grass and played in the trees.

This was our first experience on the new SunRail. I found it to be very clean and an enjoyable ride. The train ride was quiet and smooth, and the boarding process was very organized and orderly. The employees were helpful and friendly, and I felt safe while on board. We needed to use the bathroom while we were in Winter Park, and I expected a dirty and gross train station, but it was really nice. It was a fun time, and I am looking forward to going again sometime.

After a good bit of playing, it started raining. We hopped back on that train and went home. 

Until next time, Happy Monday and have a great week!