Saturday, December 01, 2012

Life

It's been awhile...

I've missed noting birthdays - my sweeties are getting SO big and definitely maturing.

I've missed writing about our forever family days - feel incredibly blessed to be my boys mama (we celebrated 6 and 4 years).

I've missed giving adoption updates - only here - you can find them on my other blog.

I've missed telling about the holidays - they were good.

I've missed blogging - life has had it challenges but I am thankful.

Soon we will be growing by one and adding our first daughter.
We simply cannot wait.
The boys cannot wait.
God has been so faithful and shown Himself to us in very real ways this year - through loss, through joy, through life.
Blessings abound.

It's hard to believe we are entering the Christmas season! It's one of my favorite times of the year. It's bittersweet this year as we wait to travel and as we very busily prepare for big changes. We are winding down the many activities and plan to keep life a bit simpler for awhile after we get home - Emmarie will have enough to adjust to with a new home, new family, new country, and new life.

Thankful for my sweet sons and husband - for real. They are amazing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Calvin Update

We are managing here on the home front. I'm thankful to report that Calvin is feeling much better and down to just taking OTC pain meds right before bed. I'm amazed by that. He is almost back to himself. These are all good things but require vigilance in making sure he is not overdoing it and keeping him restful as he heals. He is also (already) not thrilled with the liquid diet. He is a trooper and I do appreciate that I can reason with him. He despises the mouth rinse he must use (he can't brush his teeth) but endures. All in all, he has been a great patient and understands the importance of all the limitations.

We have been incredibly blessed by several of our friends bringing meals for the week - it has relieved much stress as we navigate this post-surgery!

The other boys have really struggled - especially T. It has made this week challenging. Thankfully, they have had a couple of days of activities away from home which keeps Calvin quieter, gives them something special to do, and allows me to get some things done. I do find that my patience is a little thin by the evening.

We are really just thankful for how well Calvin is doing - I honestly can't imagine going through the surgeries that he has. He maintains a great attitude despite not really liking the limits. We are all hanging in there even though we are exhausted. We continue to pray for healing and for understanding for the other two. They missed Calvin while he was away and don't like that he can't do everything with them. Warms my mama's heart to see the love and attachment between my sons.

Thanks for praying, checking in with us, sending cards, and bringing meals. You have blessed our family very much! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Calvin

Calvin came through surgery well yesterday! He was incredibly nervous and incredibly brave. We are so proud of him! He is having some pain but it is being completely managed by over the counter pain meds. He did receive a last minute addition of ear tubes while under anesthesia for the palatal repair.

We very much appreciate all the prayers! We are continuing to pray that the surgery was successful. We should know in about a month. In the mean time, he is on a liquid diet for the next couple of weeks and a soft diet for another two weeks after that. He is being a trooper about it.

I must say, it's easier to reason with a 7 year old than a 2 year old. He is taking responsibility and understands the importance of cooperation. He hated the IV but didn't mess with it. :) It is going to be hard for him to be as inactive as he needs to be - he is supposed to be out of school for a week and avoid gym class for at least 2 weeks. Obviously that isn't a big issue for us but it gives you an idea of the recovery.

We are glad to have it behind us. So grateful for the doctors and nurses at Shriners - they are awesome! We are home, resting, and watching way more tv/movies than anyone should but hey, there has to be a perk to surgery, right?! :) He is in great spirits - laughing a lot and enjoying the undivided attention from us (our other two will be back later tonight).

We are so blessed. We constantly thank God for bringing Calvin into our lives and choosing him to be our son. While he would prefer not to have to deal with a cleft lip and palate, we know that it was influential in him coming to be ours.

Monday, August 13, 2012

This Week?

We are hoping and praying that our Dossier will be headed to China at the end of this week! So excited - it's a big step forward and a break in the actual paper chase of this adoption!

While I am overwhelmed, I have found encouragement as I fulfill the commitments of this season of life. It's just that...a season. I do not believe it will stay this busy - thank goodness! Just wanted to clarify that. And...I find writing therapeutic for me. :)

We are enjoying produce from our garden - it's been slow to come due to our late planting but we are loving it! I had grand plans of doing some canning but I don't think that will happen. I will probably stick with freezing some things, sharing with neighbors, and enjoying lots of fresh veggies. The boys planted their own plots this year and that has been so exciting and fun for them. 

I'm watching my boys play sweetly together in their make-shift airplane with a front, middle, and back cockpit. So cute. They LOVE history and re-enact it regularly. Perhaps they inherited that love of history and reenacting from me. ;) 

Off to work on homeschool stuff. Need to break open the books and see what the year holds! We are starting later than normal which is probably a good thing. The older 2 will be in 2nd grade and Titus is in Pre-K. My goals for T are mastering letters and sounds, consistently recognizing numbers up to 100, to love learning, and to know his COLORS (I think he knows them - we have certainly worked on them for 2 years - but I think he enjoys tormenting me by saying the wrong colors :)). I'm re-evaluating math and deciding if we will continue on the same path or switch it up for C & P. The boys can hardly wait to delve back into history and science (their favorites!).    

So, thankful that His mercies are new every morning. What a blessing. Thankful for the little people God has entrusted to me. I'm very grateful for His clear direction and strength. As we enter these couple of weeks of few to no outside commitments (I cleared the calendar once we had a surgery date), I'm thankful for a rest.

- On a blog note, I meant to change my commenting policies awhile ago and have officially changed them to no longer allow anonymous comments. I had that setting so my grandparents could comment and that was the only reason. Thanks for understanding!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Are You?

A question I dread lately and try to come up with a surface answer. I think it's fair to say that this hasn't been the best summer. I've tried to make it a good one and make some good memories with the kids but really, it has just been hard. Perhaps we underestimated the stress of adoption. Perhaps it is still some grief. Perhaps it is the seeming trillion other things demanding my time. Probably a combination of all of the above. Whatever it is, it has had me in a funk for months. For at least the past week, I've had a tension headache on a daily basis, my body can't relax, and sleep is hard to come by. It's left me exhausted, physically not feeling well, and stressed.

This isn't intended to be a complaining post or a self-absorbed post but rather an honest look at where I am. For me, stress comes in the form of worry (so I find myself worried about lots of things) and grumpiness (which isn't good for parenting). At times, I feel paralyzed and unable to make decisions, to think clearly, or to even accomplish what I need to.

I really haven't felt like myself for most of 2012. My husband, sisters, and parents have been my rocks. They have encouraged me, loved me, challenged me, and ministered to me in many different ways. I have a few friends who have also really been there for me and for that I have been so grateful.

I'm thankful that God is faithful and compassionate and gracious with me. I'm thankful for the wonderful blessing of our sons - they keep me young, make me feel old, challenge me, and love me. Man, I love and adore them. I'm thankful He has called us again to adoption and I cannot wait to meet our sweet little girl. She will share a part of her name with my grandma and part with my mom - I cannot think of anyone else I would rather honor. (And we aren't telling the name just yet but soon...once we know who she is, we will be sure and share!)

As we head into this week - the week I planned to start school and which will instead be surgery, I am praying earnestly for peace and rest. I need it. I am in over my head between working extra towards our adoption, launching a PC business (for our adoption), working at football games this fall (for our adoption), helping organize our homeschool group, helping plan a 5K, homeschooling, adopting, and having a child go through surgery. Grace. I need it. Patience. I need it.

So, that's where I'm at. Struggling. Trusting. Enduring. Weary. Thankful. Seeking to be faithful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2 Months

It's been two months since I posted here. In many ways, it just feels impossible to post after my last post. I miss my grandparents so much - they were faithful readers of the blog even when my posting has been less than faithful. I'm sad they aren't peeking into our lives through it. I am sad...still. I think about them a lot and can't believe they are both gone - so quickly, so unexpectedly - leaving such a hole. And so, I have let the blog sit unattended. The picture in the previous post is also my profile picture (at the moment) on fb and nearly every time I see it, my throat constricts as I choke back tears. Wow. Grief is a strange thing.

Meanwhile, things are moving along in our adoption - though not as quickly as I hoped. Immigration approval has slowed down which mean a few more weeks of waiting before submitting our dossier. My goal was end of July but now I'm really hoping it's in August. The boys are getting very anxious to know who their sister will be (and quite honestly, we are getting a little anxious, too!). You can check out all of the adoption news (and our latest, very cool, fundraiser) at our adoption blog, Room for Another.

Calvin's surgery will be August 17. We are looking forward to having it behind us. It means that we will probably start school a little later than I intended - at least full school, we will probably start back partially before then. He is nervous and I feel bad for him. We reassure him but I think he just wants it over, too - I can't blame him! We continue to be so thankful for his awesome cleft team!

And...we were so excited for my sister-in-law to take some picture for our dossier (and for us to frame!). Please check out her work - it's really wonderful! She is so talented and great to work with!


This has to be my favorite - love these boys!



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Another Goodbye

How do I even write this post? It was just 4 months ago that I was writing about my beautiful grandmother passing away. Today I have cried rivers as we laid my grandpa to rest.

My Grandpa & Me

It's hard to explain the dynamics of our great big family but it is the most amazing family. There is so much love, so much support and our grandparents were a big part of that. They instilled in us the importance of family. They loved each of us (5 children, 21 grandchildren), welcomed and loved our spouses, and eagerly anticipated and loved each of their 36 (I think - and there are two more on the way - I'm so happy he knew of our adoption plans!) great-grandchildren. They not only loved us - they knew us - every single one of us. While we knew this day would come and that it would mark the end of an era, we dreaded it. Grandpa and Grandma made it to pretty much every event they possibly could. The last time I saw them both together was just 3 weeks before my grandma suddenly passed away - they were there loving us and spending time with us. They not only taught their children life lessons but they taught each of us lessons by their words, their examples, their priorities, and their quiet faith.

Today we celebrated the life of my grandpa. As I patted his arm one last time and tearfully wished him  goodbye for now, I couldn't help but reflect on the heritage and legacy I have been given. The service was a beautiful time of sharing and some of the words accurately used to describe my grandpa were: wonderful, faithful, a gentleman, frugal, generous, sincere, loving, and more. As my aunt said, "He was not perfect but he came about as close as you can."

I treasure every moment I spent with him (and Grandma - they were rarely separated). The last minute visits, the many, many games (this deserves a post all it's own), the advice, the stories, the teasing, the laughter, the sharing, the blueberry picking, the travelling, the time...it was precious. I would not change one thing except to have spent MORE time. Selfishly, I long to have them back but I would never wish them back - they are in heaven. The last time I visited Grandpa, we held hands in a circle and prayed - he closed the prayer time and began as he nearly always did, "Father, we pause just now..." It was simple, beautiful, and blessed. He knew we loved him and never once in the last several years did he fail to say how blessed he and Grandma were. They were proud of us - fiercely proud. The loved us - unconditionally.

Some of my favorite memories are the "Grandpa Trap," watching him play with my children (he loved kids and was always on the floor with him - even 6 months ago!), playing games with him (he taught us many and he never "let" you win), the twinkle in his eye, the ready laugh, the great big smile, the constant teasing, the sound he made when he was afraid you were going to make a mess or touch something with your hands that needed washed, the genuine interest in me and my family, and the unending love and support.

I love you, Grandpa, you taught me so many life lessons. I miss you more than I even knew possible. You and Grandma were two of the most important people in my life. I am so glad you are together but I'm so very sad that I won't get to introduce you to our new one and so sad that I won't be making the trek to your house. I never wanted to say goodbye - you made life richer. I'm proud to be your granddaughter and proud to be in the best family in the whole wide world (not that I'm biased or anything). Thank you. You live on in our hearts, in our values, and in our lives.

Walking through this journey of grief with my extended family has been a most wonderful (though definitely painful) experience. We have clung to one another - remembering, crying, laughing, hugging. My cousins were my first best friends and they remain some of the dearest people in my life. Perhaps one of the highest compliments came from my cousin's husband when he noted that he always looked forward to seeing my grandparents, they always took interest in him, his work and his family, and they treated him just like a grandson. The other married-ins agreed - they were close to those two very special people. Today we say goodbye but I can't wait for the day I see them again in Heaven.

My heart is so sad (sadder than I even knew possible) and my tears are ever near but I know they want us to keep moving forward, spending time as family, making memories, and playing games. So, in time, I will dry my tears and continue to honor them with the choices I make but for today, I weep. I loved them so much.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

And Then He Was 7

How can this be? I blinked and my oldest is 7. When we learned about our sweet boy, he was just over 1. We met him at 16 months and we have been in love ever since. I thank God daily for bringing Calvin into our lives. He is a kind, smart, big-hearted, compassionate, loving, and incredibly funny.

Dear Calvin,


Happy Birthday, Calvin. I love you more than you will ever, ever know. I'm SO thankful God chose YOU to be in our family. You are courageous and handsome. You have more questions than I can possibly begin to answer - a fact that both amuses and frustrates you. Your sweet cuddles, loving words, and thoughtfulness are just a few of the things that I adore about you. I am amazed and blessed by your big heart as you have repeatedly told us that our family should grow. I can't wait to see you become a big brother again. 


Love always and forever,
Mommy

On this day more than any other, I think of Calvin's birth mom and hope that she somehow knows that he is loved and treasured and safe and healthy and handsome.

Who wouldn't be in love with this sweet guy?! :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Blog & PC

Part 2 is up on our NEW blog (http://roomforanother.blogspot.com )! This one will still be here and I will continue to post family news and other things but we wanted a new one to specifically document #4s journey. :)

Also, my pampered chef site is: www.pamperedchef.biz/alaina. My grand opening party is open until early next week! To order, you select Our Products, How to Order, and enter my first and last name as hostess and then place your order and have it sent to me if you live local or to your address!

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Background on #4

* This is a vulnerable post for me. I've choked up writing it. I've debated whether to post it.
I'm a bit of an emotional wreck this week. I will write about where we are applying to and why in another post. This is about all I can handle today. :) *

I keep pinching myself...we are really doing this. It's been awhile coming - you probably suspected from previous posts. However, it still surprises me. We planned to start last summer and for a variety of reasons (the main one being that God was calling me to come home and work less), we knew it wasn't the right time. So, we've been praying and seeking and asking and learning and researching and unable to shake the call that God wanted us to do this again. He made it clear that we had room for another. He also shut five doors in the last several months but has continued to keep us open - we have not been discouraged or upset, we have just known that He had something else. It felt like a testing and it definitely kept the needs of orphans ever before us.

In truth, I've been content. I love, love, love my boys and didn't feel a need to have more children except for the nagging knowledge that there are millions without parents. Honestly though, we were diaper free, we were moving on, it was time to give back in other ways -we were happy with our family of five. Little by little, this conviction and still small voice began to grow - maybe my "ideals" and "plan" weren't what God had in mind. I've argued with Him and it went something like this, "We have our hands full," "How in the world can we afford it - we've only taken pay cuts the last couple of years," "We are so happy with our three," "You've already blessed us and now we are ready to raise these kids and retire." And God's answer has been pretty consistent, "I want you to do this. You have room for another. I will provide." Still I argued, still I questioned, still I didn't see when it would be a "good time." I think FEAR has been a big part of my questioning - fear that we don't have the funds, fear that adding another will totally overwhelm me, fear of the unknown... It can be paralyzing. I've fought it this week even as we've been filling out paperwork. I've called my mom, my sisters, my friends - asking them to pray for me.

It's come down to this - I WANT this. I'm THRILLED. I have that excited, nervous, butterfly feeling in my stomach. I cannot wait to see who God has for our family. I cannot wait to welcome #4. I cannot wait to see his/her face and tell him/her that I'm so proud to be their mom and they are safe and loved and wanted.

I KNOW it will be hard. I KNOW it is stepping out in faith. I KNOW there will be times of fear and unknown. I also KNOW that God has called us to this. Our children have advocated for this and God has used them to challenge us. They have graciously and sacrificially offered all of their savings (about $12 :)) to help bring their sister or brother home - that's a love and commitment that I CANNOT wait to share with their sibling. They will be awesome big brothers.

So, we embark on this journey. Today we mail our application and we have our first homestudy meeting. It's been a whirlwind and a long-time coming all at the same time. We are trusting God. We are thankful He has provided the first amounts of funding we need - the application fee, homestudy fee, and a little more through our savings and tax refund. We are trusting him for the remaining $20,000 or so that we will need by the time this is said and done. We are planning some fundraisers and praying, praying, praying that God will provide. We look forward to telling #4 all about the people who helped bring him/her home - a testimony and a part of the story.

We are excited to see God's plan for our family. We are out of our comfort zone. We are on our knees. We are blessed already.

To Our New Little Bug

Waiting here for you.
Wanting to know you.
Praying you are safe.

Planning your arrival.
Loving you already.
Learning how to trust.

Journeying to you.
We are coming!
We cannot wait!

Monday, March 26, 2012

News!

For awhile now, we have sensed God calling us to adopt again. While the details are still being worked out, we hope and plan to begin the process in the next few months! We have no idea how God will provide for it but we are excited to see and we are excited to welcome #4! There are 3 VERY EXCITED brothers who have been asking us to bring home a brother or sister for about 2 years (well, the older two have for that long!) – it has been “when” not “if” for them. :)

So, I am launching a PAMPERED CHEF business this week with a minimum of 50% of my income from that going towards our adoption fund. I love their products and I love that I can work from home! If you would consider helping us bring #4 home by hosting a kitchen show (within reason from Indy) OR a catalog show (anywhere!) OR would like to place an order, PLEASE MESSAGE ME! Website and more info to come!
 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Thoughts

It's been kind of a weird month for me. So here are a few of the random thoughts floating around somewhere in this tired brain.

- I've found myself frustrated and burned out on homeschooling - I think it's the time of year. We are in our final few months and we are in our final 4 weeks of our homeschool group. We keep pressing on though and the boys have made great progress this year! I love the curriculum(s) we are using and overall I have enjoyed homeschooling far more than I ever imagined. We continue to take it one year at a time and that works for us.

- My Grandma's death has still just been a really hard thing for me. Tears sneak up when I least expect them, my voice catches and throat tightens. I still hear her voice, her advice, her laugh and I still feel her soft, cool hand. She would have been 92 this past weekend. I don't wish her back - she is in a better place - but I think the reality of it is sinking in by stages and it's incredibly painful. I haven't even been able to think about writing much because I just think of her - she was a gifted writer and encouraged me to blog.

- We are actively praying that God will lead us in how He wants us to be involved in orphan care. We sense that He is not finished growing our family. I am daily overwhelmed by the need, convicted of my responsibility to continue advocating, and challenged to never give up. Admittedly, I struggle with feeling like so few understand the urgency, the tremendous need, the epidemic, the responsibility. As I've told my husband many times (and he agrees) - we can offer love, a family, safety, and most importantly the Gospel to ANY child.

I wrote this on fb today: I think if we walked in an orphan's shoes for just a short time, our eyes and hearts would be incredibly opened. I can't even imagine my big boys' first year...and millions (est. 163,000,000) of children haven't found families. As my heart breaks, I can't help but continually ask God what more I can do...

This is our prayer. What can we do? We continue to ask and seek and remain open to God's leading.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Grandma's Recipes

In case you are interested (and don't follow us on facebook), we've been sharing some of our Grandma's Recipes over at The Cooks Next Door. My sister and I have both wished we could talk to her about her recipes - she wrote out the ingredients on many recipes but not the instructions. She was just that good of a cook! It's been a little trial and error for us. :)

It's been fun to look through her recipe box, imagine her pulling out her favorites, and wondering what she made most recently over the holidays. She made tiny notes about the ones she really liked which is wonderful to stumble upon. I happily remember delicious meals in her home and some really excellent cookies.
These are so delicious! A family tradition that originated with Grandma!
It has been a joy for us to make and post her recipes as a tribute to a beautiful, inspirational person inside and out. We love you and miss you, Grandma!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Superbowl!

We headed to Superbowl Village yesterday afternoon! We all enjoy football, so our boys were very excited to join in the festivities. What fun! So proud of our city - they have done an amazing job. Hoping the GIANTS win - we are definitely Manning fans! :)

Love this pixture...even if the number ARE backwards - we had one on the other side of just the boys and me but it didn't turn out nearly as well.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How Do You Say Goodbye?

On December 28, I visited with my Grandma and Grandpa. Amazing people and I was so glad to see them. I told my grandma about what I terrible mom I was in accidentally misinforming my youngest about his doctor's appointment and we laughed together. I told her I loved her and how glad I was to see her and how our Christmas card should be coming soon because I was super late sending it to them. I hugged her and told her I would see her later. She was tired but good. One week later, she sent my boys a sweet hand written note thanking them for the Christmas cards they had made them.

Today, we buried my Grandma. I would give anything for one more conversation, one more hug, a few more pictures. One week ago, her health declined and suddenly she was gone. It's been one of the worst weeks. The grief is intense. The reality is that I was never going to be ready to say goodbye. Her impact on my life is profound.

My beautiful grandma was the mom of 5, grandma of 21, and great-grandma of 36. She knew each of us well - she spent time with each of us, she wrote us letters, and she prayed for us. She loved her family, she was proud of us.

I have so many wonderful memories - homemade playdough, delicious food, lots of games (she was an awesome card player!), summer blueberry picking, fun picnics, and thoughtful letters and gifts. She exuded warmth, was always interested in what you had to say, and was always honest. Grandma was a woman of many talents but she was also incredibly humble.

Grandma and Grandpa were married for 69 years. A true example of love and commitment. They taught us by example. They loved each other well. They took care of each other. They continued to learn and grow in their marriage and shared that with the family.

One of the most beautiful things to me was her (and Grandpa's!) unconditional love and acceptance of our children. They were excited about our adoption plans and welcomed our children into the family. My grandma read them stories, played games with them, and made them feel every bit as special as she made me feel. We had a few extra opportunities to stop and visit with our treks to Chicago for Calvin's cleft team appointments and surgeries - super thankful for that. She was always interested in how Calvin was doing. Our boys loved her.

I hear her voice and laugh, feel her touch, sense her presence. I look in the mirror and see the green eyes that we shared. She probably would have hated all the fuss today but she would have loved everyone being together. As I witnessed my grandpa telling her goodbye, saw her gorgeous face one last time, heard her words through her journal, and watched her 9 grandsons care for her one last time as pall bearers, I wept. The tears have come all week. The finality. My heart feels broken. I loved her SO much. I miss her SO much. Life will go on but it won't be quite the same.

She was one in a million. I'm thankful to be her granddaughter. I'm thankful for the amazing legacy and heritage.

I love you, Grandma. Thank you. You lived a gracious, faithful life. You inspired and challenged me. You ran the race, you finished well. See you later.