Saturday, June 10, 2017

our summer schedule

I don't know about you, but I usually experience high levels of anxiety each year as school comes to a close.  There's something intimidating about being solely responsible for the welfare of 3 little people, but their entertainment as well!

But thanks to our trusty schedule that we implemented last year, we are having a blast.  Here are some of the fun things we've been able to do.

Make it Monday - the kids and I made our own pizza for dinner one night.


Take a Trip Tuesday - we brought Roscoe with us to explore one of our favorite "parks."


Wet Wednesday - need I say more?


Thinking Thursday - we visit the library and then disperse to our favorite reading spots.


Friend Friday - our church playgroup meets up at different parks every Friday.  The kids love trying out new playground and spending the morning with their favorite people.


On the weekends we like to do fun activities as a family.  Strawberry picking is always a favorite.


Time flies when you're having fun!

Monday, June 5, 2017

happy birthday, roscoe!

Today this pup turned one year old.  Time sure has gone by fast!  The kids and I couldn't wait to celebrate his big day!  He was a little less excited :)

Since pretty much everyday is a party in Roscoe's world we kept the royal treatment to a minimum.

Jackson sang him "Happy Birthday" the moment he opened his crate door this morning.

The girls gave him one of their old stuffed animals as a gift.  As expected, that poor thing was reduced to fluff within an hour.  But he enjoyed every minute of it.

Much like an infant, he has experienced so much during his first year of life and we've been here to see it all.  His first car ride. His first snowfall.  His first sprinkler run.

video

Here are some fun facts about Roscoe.

1. Favorite food: yours.
2. Favorite activity: fetch.
3. Latest trick: freeze. {We balance a treat on his nose while he sits really still}.
4. Greatest strength: affection.
5. Greatest weakness: curiosity.

Although he is a ton of work, life just wouldn't be the same without him!

Happy birthday, boy.  We love ya.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

You Are Here

Did you notice our new little fundraising tracker in the right column?  I swear that thing will keep me up at night... but you should check it out!  We'll love you forever. 💓

Although this blog is not an "adoption blog" per se, you'll be seeing lots of adoption updates because, well, that's what's going on in our life right now.  

Periodically I'll be posting our Adoption To Do List {see below} so you can keep up with our progress.  We've just got one more meeting with our social worker and then our Home Study will be complete.  Things have gone very smoothly thus far!  Hopefully things will continue to do so.

Since our final meeting isn't for another 3 weeks, I'm working on the next step concurrently: the profile.  That is basically a fancy word for marketing.  Together, Josh and I will write a letter for the potential birth moms to read that sums up our story and why we want to adopt.  I'm also creating a profile book that paints an in-depth picture of our family, our background, and what we can offer their child if we're chosen.  No pressure!

This is a busy time but I have a feeling it will beat playing the waiting game.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

may wrap up

The month of May came and went in a hurry, didn't it?  Here's what we've been up to for the past few weeks:

Josh and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.  Although we didn't go out and do anything particularly special, he still surprised me with a simple gift.  I smile every time I see this hanging basket on my front porch.  I have to enjoy it while I can because plants don't live very long at my house!


After getting so much rain, I decided to buy the kids rain boots.  The girls both had field trips outdoors on one of the rainiest days of the month so I think they were a good investment.


Gymnastics is going very well.  Kylie advanced to the next level {so she and Summer are back in the same class}.  And Summer has been attending classes for over a year now so she was mentioned in the monthly newsletter.  I'm grateful that they both have a passion for tumbling and look forward to practices each week.

  

We ordered mulch for the first time since we've been in our house.  It makes such a big difference in the way our flower beds look.  The kids really enjoyed helping, especially Jackson. 


For Teacher Appreciation week the girls gave their teachers small gifts with hand-written notes.  I really enjoyed Summer's.  The "winking" picture made me smile.

  

Summer spent most of her free time wiggling a top tooth.  All of her work paid off last night when that baby tooth finally popped out.  It was her toughest one yet but she was very brave.

 

 

Speaking of teeth, Jackson had his first dentist appointment. Thankfully, no seizures this time; only clean, polished, cavity-free teeth.


School is officially out!  The girls had wonderful teachers this year.  Kylie's original teacher had a baby just a couple of days into the school year and then decided not to return after maternity leave, so she ended up with a substitute.  That turned out to be a blessing in disguise because this teacher "got" her.  Kylie was challenged, her school work improved, and she was given lots of opportunities to creatively express the things she was learning.

On the last day of school, Kylie walked into the house and burst into tears because she was going to miss her teacher.  Bless her.  I understand her sadness, though.  Because she's a substitute she most likely won't be returning to the school next year.  I just explained to Kylie that she was extra lucky because she got to have her!


It's hard to believe that Summer was nervous about having a "Mister" at the start of the school year.  He was a pretty good fit for her :)

 

I think school ended just in time.  Summer's backpack was definitely on its last leg.


Now that school is out, we're enjoying a more laid back schedule...and lots of sunshine.  It's been fun meeting up with our friends at various parks.


We set up the sprinkler for the first time this year and the kids had a blast.  So did the dog.




The cherries in our backyard will be ready to be picked pretty soon...if a certain someone will stop taste-testing them. 




Even though our schedule is much more flexible, chores are still happening. 

 

We celebrated Memorial Day with our church family at a park.  We all had a great time!





For the next 2 weeks Josh will be doing a detox program.  Do you know what he eats?  Applesauce.  That's it.  The rest of his diet includes vitamins, gross drink mixtures, and lots of water.  I'm proud of him because I know that's not going to be easy!


And then there's this boy who is growing up right before my eyes.  I gave him a haircut, which I actually really like, but he instantly aged a year.



Looking forward to a fun {and relaxing} summer vacation!


Friday, May 26, 2017

adoption: q&a

How did you begin the process?

We eased into our adoption journey in May 2016.  The only local agency I was even remotely familiar with was Bethany Christian Services.  Josh and I arranged a time to meet with one of their adoption counselors to gather more information.  At this point we didn't know a thing about adoption, and we had a ton of questions!

We left that appointment knowing that we still weren't quite ready to take the plunge.  We had so much to learn and so much to prepare for.  Over the next 9 months I spent countless hours researching everything to do with adoption: the different types, the different agencies, the cost, the average time frame, etc.  I wanted to make sure we were going into this thing with eyes wide open.

Then, on a typical morning in February I received a text message from Josh saying that he felt it was time to get the ball rolling.  I was ecstatic!  We were officially all in.

How did you choose your agency?



That evening I made a list of local adoption agencies and the next morning I called every single one.  For one reason or another we had to keep crossing agencies off of our list.  Too expensive.  Long wait time.  Don't consider us Christian.  Yada, yada, yada.  By the end of the week, our "list" consisted of one agency and we didn't even feel good about them.

I broadened my search and came across the Adoption Center for Family Building, located in Chicago.  The agency is small and doesn't have many bells and whistles to speak of.  But the staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and personable.  They are highly rated by the BBB and previous clients.  They offer all of their training online, which is a huge bonus for us since we have young children at home.  And -- EXTRA BONUS -- they are in need of bi-racial families looking to adopt an African American baby.  We fit that description exactly!

Why do you want to adopt an African American baby?

Let me share why we're seeking an African American infant.  I come from a bi-racial family.  My dad is black and my mom is white. I love that I can identify with both cultures.  I love that, in our family, color doesn't matter.  I love seeing my blond haired, blue eyed children with my brown skinned, brown eyed family members.  It just makes my heart so happy.



And Josh feels the same way.  When he was younger he recalls a time when his parents seriously considered adopting a black baby.  It wasn't in the cards, unfortunately, but that idea stuck with him.  He often pondered how cool it would have been to have a sibling who looked so different from him.  Now, as a parent, he is beyond excited to grant this opportunity to our children.  And he can't wait to have a beautiful dark-skinned child of his own.

How did you decide on domestic adoption?

We both feel that there are so many children in the world who need good homes.  Our hearts ache for the children in faraway countries that yearn for loving parents and a safe home.  But international adoption is expensive and often very lengthy.  We're not in a position to leave our current children for 6 weeks while we travel to another country.  Someday, I hope!

Foster care is a much cheaper option.  There's also the added benefit of helping children from your own community and providing a stable environment for them.  Unfortunately for adoptive parents like ourselves, the system works hard to reunite these children with their biological families.  Adoptions are rare, specifically for infants.  We would be devastated if we formed an attachment to a child only to have to give them up.

So we opted for the domestic route.  We still get to change a child's life and we don't have to venture very far to do it :)

When will you get your baby?

We have no idea yet! 

Right now we are in the process of completing our Home Study.  This is the part where we do a bunch of paperwork, watch hours of online training videos, and have meetings with our assigned social worker.  Currently, all of our paperwork has been submitted and we've completed 1 out of 3 meetings.  The third meeting is the biggie.  Our social worker will come to our house, do an inspection, meet with our children, and help us complete the last chunk of forms.



After our social worker signs off on our Home Study, Josh and I will travel to Chicago to meet with the agency director and complete Phase 2 of our adoption process.  At this time we'll complete a profile book for birth moms to see as well as a profile on the agency website.  That's when things are officially out of our hands and directly into God's.

Hopefully not too long after we "go live" with the agency a birth mom will like us, choose us, and deliver a baby for us to care for and love!

Will your adoption be open or closed?

Open.  Nowadays, most domestic adoptions are designed to keep the birth parents somewhat involved in the child's life.  Often times this fizzles out over the years but we are open to our child's birth parents having a relationship with him/her and us.  We have no way of knowing just how "open" this adoption will be until we meet the birth mom and learn of her preferences.

How do your kids feel about the adoption?

They are beyond excited!  All 3 of them have a sweet spot for babies and the girls can't wait to have another sibling.  Jackson probably won't grasp what's going on until we bring a baby home but we're hopeful that he'll adjust quickly!



Where will the baby be born?

Our agency is licensed in both Illinois and Indiana.  Probably 85% of the birth moms come from Illinois.  But networking is huge!  If you know of anyone within the U.S. who is looking to place an African American baby, let us know!  Our agency can still handle the adoption.

Are you nervous?  Excited?

Both!  We are thrilled to finally be embarking on this adventure, but it's also pretty scary.  There could potentially be some major disappointments.  What if we "go live" and we end up waiting for months and months?  What if we speak with a birth mom only to learn that she didn't pick us?  What if the birth mom does pick us but then decides to parent?  Yes, those are super scary thoughts.  But we're choosing to have hope.  Our decision to adopt has been reaffirmed to us again and again.  We know we're meant to do this.



How can we help?

  1. We would greatly appreciate your prayers.  Adoption is an intricate process that involves many people and an unpredictable timetable.  Truly, it is nothing short of miraculous.  Please pray for the birth mother as she wrestles with this decision.  Pray for us that we may be physically prepared and emotionally strong.  Pray for the baby that he/she may be healthy.
  2. We would love it if you would share our story with anyone who may be interested in supporting us.  You never know just how close our baby might be!
  3. Adoption is quite expensive and we certainly won't turn down financial support.  As we get closer to Phase 2 we will inform you of ways you can help.

Thank you so much for your love and support.  We feel so blessed to have you in our lives and we can't wait to share this journey with you!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

adoption: the back story

Josh and I have always known that adoption would be part of our story.  It was engraved in our hearts long before we ever met each other.  It was a topic that emerged within the early weeks of our courtship and a passion that has only grown abundantly over time.

Josh comes from a large family, and I grew up wishing that I did.  Naturally, I envisioned a future with children.  Lots of them.

Then I experienced pregnancy.  It didn't quite agree with me, but still I knew that being able to conceive was in itself a huge blessing. 

I experienced pretty severe sickness that first time around.  I landed myself in the hospital -- twice -- during that pregnancy, once for dehydration, and again due to a random fainting spell.


But it was all completely worth it.  Our first blessing came to us on a snowy January morning in 2008.  Kylie.


After a couple of years we decided it was time to grow our family.  I became pregnant quickly but that was about the only thing that went right over the next 9 months.  I was unbelievably sick, even more so than the first time.  During my second month of pregnancy I began bleeding.  The thought of possibly losing my little baby terrified me.  Thankfully, bed rest and Zofran slowly healed my body and I began feeling semi-normal again.  Shortly after we learned the gender of our baby (another girl!), I also learned that I had gestational diabetes.  My body couldn't handle any kind of sugar, not even with medication.  During my last trimester I had to give myself insulin shots in my very pregnant belly 3+ times each day.  Keeping track of every gram of carbohydrate I was consuming, chasing a toddler, and growing another little one was exhausting.



But again, it was all completely worth it.  Our second blessing came in the hottest month of 2010.  Summer.


I was no fool.  By now I knew that I was not destined to be one of those lively, energetic pregnant women.  I was hesitant to try it again, but we knew that our family was not yet complete.

So I became pregnant a third -- and quite possibly final -- time.  It was by far the worst one yet.  I threw up 5 or more times  every day for the first 6 months.  And that was with the Zofran!  I had no choice but to watch my life go on while I lay in the fetal position on my couch.  Josh did all of the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, preschool carpools -- everything-- all while working full time.  I was so very grateful, but so sad.  This was supposed to be a happy time and instead I felt like I was missing out.


Things improved momentarily.  The sickness eased.  My clothes fit perfectly.  And I had the cutest baby bump!  The problem was that it wasn't exactly a little baby bump.  People asked me daily if I was carrying twins.  As time went on, I found myself growing more and more uncomfortable.  By my last month, I was back on bed rest but this time it wasn't due to sickness.  It was because I couldn't walk.  At all.  Stepping into a pair of shorts, lifting my foot into a flip flop, and rolling over in bed was excruciating.  I eventually borrowed crutches from a friend just so I could get around my small apartment if absolutely necessary.  My hips were spreading apart and they simply couldn't go any farther.



Finally, the day came.  Although I was only 37 weeks along, my doctor agreed to induce me because of my size and degree of pain I was in.  Imagine my surprise when our son weighed in at 10 pounds, 3 ounces!  

Still, there was no doubt in my mind that all of the pain, heartaches, and sacrifices had been completely worth it.  Our third blessing came  to us on a sunny September day in 2013.  Jackson.


As much as I loved being a mother and longed for a house full of children, I knew that my body couldn't handle another pregnancy.  At this point in my life I was a mom with three kids, Type 1 diabetes, and a pretty depressing pregnancy track record. 

But we knew that our family still wasn’t complete.