have yourself a merry little christmas

First- I know this blog has taken a dive into the abyss.  Hoping for inspiration in the near year… but for now, I’ll just say I know I know.  People are gonna shoot me because I am talking about Christmas and it’s not even Thanksgiving.  But, everyone who’s anyone is telling me that since Thanksgiving is so late this year, it’s okay to start decorating for Christmas…and listening to Christmas music.  EEEK.  Hate me?

Well, sorry!  I’m ready to jump into the lights and the cozyness of the holiday time…I found my signature Christmas scent that was retired ten years ago…it’s back!  It’s a different company, but check out StellaMare Cranberry Tangerine candles- they are the most heavenly scent!!!  I could only find them online at Amazon for more expensive, so I enlisted my sister to pick me up some at Fred Meyer and there was even a sale.  They are made in Portland, Oregon…so I’m sure you west coast peeps can find them nearby.  Anyway, I’m also getting an early start because I will be taking everything down on December 20th so we can fly to Seattle on the 21st.  Have I convinced you that it’s okay yet?

I just finished taking down my Fall decor.  It wasn’t hard and last week we already threw out our porch mums because they had all died.   Alas.  It just seems right…this week it got really cold here too.  Bart is making fires often, which I love.  I am dying to browse my favorite antique stores to check out their Christmas selections and I’ve already walked through Target’s holiday section about a hundred times.

I’m looking at the mountain that is taking a kid’s christmas card photo.  The easy part is picking out the clothing.  The hard part is…well, everything else.  Wish me luck!

New favorite Christmas album- Kim Walker-Smith- When Christmas Comes. So good!

 

happy first birthday maya

maya16My dearest Mymy,

It’s your birthday!  The very first one you’ve ever had, besides you know, the one where you were birthed.  I have had the privilege of being by your side for every single day of your life.  What a gift.  I always wanted a daughter but I never realized what amazing joy you would bring.

DSC_0057DSC_0021DSC_0128I love the way you laugh- with your whole body- even smiles take up every inch of your face.  Your dimples are the best and your little chiclets crack me up.  Even when I don’t want to smile, I just physically can’t not when I see your beautiful grin.  I love your crazy hair and admit that I have no idea what to do with it.  I love the way you stare at everyone.  I love the way you’ll snuggle when you’re tired, but if you’re awake- the world is beckoning.  You don’t stop for a moment, except to stuff yet another *insert anything on the floor* into your mouth.

maya15I love your strength.  You are fearless when it comes to movement.  You are so tough.  The fact that you are walking already is purely you- all you.  Lord knows I tried my best to thwart your progress and slow you down, but that’s impossible.  I wonder how much of the way you take on this little world right now is a glimpse of how you will tackle life in the future.  Oh and I can’t wait to hear you talk!

DSC_0003I love the way you love your brothers and how they can always calm you.  I love how happy you get when they come into your room in the morning…really how excited you are when anyone comes in!  I love picking you up from your crib and holding you close, kissing your cheek a million times while you just let me.  I love dressing you- and how every single time I put a shirt over your head you giggle.  I mean…who does that?  I love you, I just love you so much.  I love introducing you as my daughter…I love praying over you and dreaming of your future.  I love that you’re mine.

maya8You made me so proud at your birthday party girl… no tears when we sang the birthday song so loudly- nope, all smiles instead.  And then the way you want after your birthday cake was seriously the best cake smashing I’ve ever seen.  You are a star!  I can’t wait to see what God has planned for your life;  I have a feeling your dad and I are in for a real exciting adventure.

Happy Birthday my darling daughter- you are the best!

Love mama

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maya’s birth story

To be fair, I need to document Maya’s birth story here on my blog.  Plus then all I have to do is copy and paste when it comes time to make her baby book…which I haven’t even started.  Eek.

My little girl’s entrance into this world is burned into my memory so deeply that I know it does not matter that I’m writing this down a year later.  I actually saw her be born.  With our boys, we met them the day they were born- one 7 hours later and one 4 hours after but our baby girl…I was there when she cried that first tiny cry.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that sure I wanted to witness the birth of my daughter.  It might sound horribly wrong to anyone who hasn’t been through a failed adoption, but in my mind she isn’t ours until her birth mom signs the papers and makes it official.  Nothing is certain in those hours and it’s very very difficult to not get too attached and hopeful.  So, when Maya’s birth mom requested my presence I kind of sloughed it off, as the boy’s birth mom had also asked that I be there and it didn’t work out; I thought the same would happen.  Except for the fact that she was induced…and there was a specific time…and we were driving down…and would be able to arrive before she was born.

Literally it came down to that that Monday morning, November 11th because we were on the road driving the rest of the way to Jacksonville.  We had stopped to spend the night about 6 hours away, and we knew *Mel (that’ll be our name for Maya’s precious birth mom for the rest of the story) was being induced at 8am but had figured we had plenty of time and I really had no idea what the heck I would do sitting in a birthing room all day waiting for a baby that may or may not be mine to be born.  It’s hard enough after the baby is out to wait the required 48 hours until a birth mom signs her rights away…so I wasn’t breaking any speed limits.

But as God would have it, we arrived in Jacksonville around 2pm and headed straight for the hospital with the whole family.  I jumped out at the entrance and Bart took the boys to grab food.  I remember feeling eerily excited and nervous and a little nauseas.  As a nurse ushered me into the hospital room, I immediately headed over to Mel and gave her a hug, asked how she was doing…totally unsure of what else I should do or say.  I’d met her once before, when we had dinner and met each other a few months earlier, but that’s it.  And now I’m standing next to her and she labors pretty intensely.  Literally about ten minutes after I showed up, nurses started wheeling in all sorts of equipment and an empty bassinet and things just came alive.  Two social workers and I stood nearby trying not to get in the way while still giving Mel support until the dr showed up and Mel began to push.   Originally I was standing by her head, praising her to keep going…or whatever the heck I said, I have no idea… but then it was only about 6 pushes and the dr ensured the baby was almost here- so one of the social workers grabbed my arm, exclaiming that I just had to watch my daughter be born!  Mortified, a little curious, and seriously excited I watched as her head emerged and she just shot out.  Insane!  The dr held her up to show her off and yelled “where’s your camera?” so of course, we all scrambled to grab our devices for a quick picture.  Then he held scissors and looking at us, asked who was cutting the cord.  I did not think for one moment it would be me…I mean, what if I messed up?  But they pushed me towards him and I found myself grabbing the scissors and thankfully cutting in a very clearly marked area of the cord.  Then the baby was whisked away to the flurry of nurses waiting nearby and I was so torn.  I wanted to comfort Mel and congratulate her, which I did…but my heart was also so drawn to the precious slimy (I mean, come on- gotta be truthful) little girl who was just born.

My heart felt like it was in my throat as I stared at her through all the hands moving around her.  I watched as they weighed and recorded all the little details.  She was moved into this little warming bed and checked out completely and I just watched in amazement that I got to be right next to her the entire time.  The best part was when a nurse asked who the “second” bracelet was for…normally it’s for the dad and I’ve actually never gotten the bracelet privilege- which means one can see the baby without her mom present.  With both our boy’s births, we got to see them in the hospital, but never with this much freedom.  I almost cried when one of the nurses asked if I wanted to go with her when she brought Maya into the nursery to give her a bath.  Incredulously, I followed, feeling like it was a dream.  At this point, I tried so desperately to trust God that He would hold my heart if this wasn’t going to be our daughter, because I was bonded.  From that first moment she grabbed my finger, minutes after she was born…I never wanted to let her go.  I prayed and hoped that this was my Maya Joy…the one we had prayed for so much.

It was so fun to be a part of all the little stuff.  About an hour after the birth, Bart brought the boys up to our floor and a nurse kindly found us a small “storage” room for privacy so they could meet her.  Bart held her and the boys looked at her in awe.  It was all very surreal.  That lasted about ten minutes and then we crossed over to Mel’s room and she got to meet Bart and our boys.  It was special to be all together, with our lawyer (who we LOVE) and I remember feeling such peace as Mel fed Maya her first bottle and then handed her off to me so she could  rest.  What could have felt so odd and awkward felt strangely normal.

After awhile it was time to say goodbye.  We headed to our hotel room without a tiny baby but filled with much hope and anticipation.  Much to our surprise and delight, Mel was ready to be discharged the next day, which meant that we didn’t have to wait the customary 48 hours for the rights hearing.  Thankfully we had a family friend who was able to babysit the boys while we sat anxiously in the hospital waiting room while Mel signed all the papers and surrendered her parental rights…and even though it felt slightly more definite this time around, it was still hard to fully believe we would leave the hospital with a daughter.

But Praise God- she became ours on November 12th, 2013!!!  Of course, finalization didn’t happen until many months later, but in our hearts it was a done deal.  Maya was required to stay one more night in the hospital, so we spent a good amount of time cuddling her and taking lots of pictures and then headed out to grocery shop and get ready for the next two weeks of hotel living.  The next day we met our social worker back at the hospital and changed Maya into her going home outfit…and then waited a lot longer than we should have because of a shift change- but it didn’t matter- she was ours!!!!!

I still can’t forget the drive back to our hotel- with our THREE?!!? children in the backseats.  It felt like so recently we had brought Josiah home from the hospital, and Regan too…and now, our first daughter- what an incredible feeling, an amazing reality.

I do however forget a lot of our hotel living…which I think is part of God’s divine plan in getting me back down to Florida each time for another adoption.  It’s a miracle how living in a hotel room with 2 toddlers and a newborn can seem like no big deal a year later.  In the midst of it, there were loooooooong days and looooooong nights.  But the gift of Maya Joy was worth ten times that torture.

So, I finally finished this on the eve of your first birthday Mymy.  I love you to pieces my daughter.

the most wonderful time ever

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My title might be a little overstating…I have had more wonderful times but not recently.  So- as I wrote a post ago, I got to fly across the US to see my family and only brought one child.  The one child who is diaper-less, has a very long attention span (read: great on airplanes), sleeps through the night, and loves independence (read: didn’t need me around).

It was a dream.  Josiah had the time of his life and I got to relax…with no responsibility whatsoever, except to maybe try and limit my son’s sugar intake, but heck, it’s kinda the grandparents time to shine, so I pretty much let go.  We went to restaurants (something we rarely do with our children) and hiked, visited lots of family and the pumpkin patch… one day josiah went on an adventure with his grandpa, uncle and cousins without me- and I got to go shopping!  Seriously, it was grand.  In the mornings I would send Jos upstairs before I was ready to get out of bed, and he would get special time with grandma or grandpa.  The only hard part is always the time difference and since I wasn’t there too long, I basically left just as my body was acclimating.  Oh well.  It was SO worth it.

My most favorite part of this trip was our hike to Mary Mere Falls.  I grew up hiking around the Pacific Northwest… so I’ve probably done this particular hike more than 100 times.  I didn’t always appreciate it as much as I wish I had, but there was always a trail to be found and an adventure to be had. This was Josiah’s first “real hike”…although pretty darn easy, it was still exciting for me to watch him conquer it and love it so much.  And the best part was how he and my dad would run ahead and hide behind trees, then jump out to scare us…exactly what my dad and I would do when I was a kid.  It brought back such fun memories and made me thankful yet again, for where I grew up.  Below is a sequence of him hiding, then jumping out to scare us…which he and my dad did over and over and over.DSC_0008 DSC_0009DSC_0010

this one CRACKS me up. we told him to hide again...and then took a picture. I love that he keeps his eyes closed when he hides.

this one CRACKS me up. we told him to hide again…and then took a picture. I love that he keeps his eyes closed when he hides.

So thank you bart, for letting this happen.  Not only did you take care of our other two rascals, you also managed a plethora of other amazing feats while I was gone.  You are a rockstar and my favorite human in the world.  Thanks mom and dad, for giving us such an amazing time in your home and always being such a comforting place to come.  Thanks brother, for feeding my son his first soda…he’ll probably never forget it- ha!  It was great to watch the boys bond.   And last but not least, thank you erica, for always picking up a tired sister at the airport, being willing to sleep on the couch and loving me so well, even when I won’t go to the movies with you.

ENJOY these pics of the one of the most beautiful places I know.

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leaving on a jet plane #251

I love Wednesday mornings in my home because it’s all perfectly clean.  We are hosting a Bible study on Tuesday nights so it’s a huge scramble beforehand to ensure our house isn’t a disaster and then I get to reap the benefits when I wake up in the morning.  This morning was particularly early, as I heard Bart get ready for work and couldn’t fall back asleep, then thought it would be a perfect time to read my Bible.  Just as I stepped out my bedroom door I heard a little voice…Regan.  Normally I’d probably leave him in his room for a bit, but he’s no longer in a crib, so the amount of mischief available is exponentially more than before.  Would I rather clean pen marks off the wall later, or get him up with me and save the stress?  I opted for cuddle time and Bears (his fav movie right now) and still got a little Bible/Journal/Jesus time in.

I am headed on a little trip to see my family in Washington this week with just my oldest son.  I think I’m too excited to sleep.  I thought that kind of thing would stop when I became an adult.  Being so giddy I lay awake til one am and waking up at 6am?!

But I have reason to be giddy.  Not only do I get to see my family who I love…this is also the best traveling situation I’ve had in a long time.  I don’t have to plan ahead for formula, strollers, diapers/wipes, baby food… nothing!!!  It hit me the other day that this will be the first time I won’t have to change diapers for 4 whole days?!?!  How did I get so lucky?  No bouncing baby on my lap for 6 long flight hours…no stressing about ear pressure or trying to get someone to sleep while traveling.  I am sure it’ll be exhausting, just because we aren’t arriving in Seattle until midnight our time but I don’t even care because I can sleep in if I want to.  I told my dad that when Josiah wakes up early, he will be instructed not to talk to me but go straight upstairs to their bed.  hehe.

I’m trying not to have huge expectations for this trip, because Lord knows I tend to get disappointed when I think too hard about anything.  But I am just believing that Jesus wants to give Josiah and me an adventure together!  It’s kinda fun that I did this trip with just Josiah four years ago exactly.  He was just 5 months old when I brought him to Washington for the first time…to show him off to everyone- meeting my little bear, going to the pumpkin patch, probably what we will do this time as well.  I’ll be sure and post a then and now picture- he was in his prime chub months then.

So, let’s just say I’m excited.  I’m ready for a little out-of-the-ordinary vacation-from-my-normal-life.  Thanks Bart…you have the hard job this time around.

 

almost an end

As I bought yet another canister of formula this week, I suddenly realized…only one month left.  My little baby girl is growing up.  For every child, there are milestones- first smile, first tooth, first crawl, first steps…but one of my most favorite is the end of formula.  It is a rite of passage and is right up there with the end of diapers in my opinion.  I’m not sure why I so enjoy saying goodbye to this powder substance, but I do.

It might be the cost…my Target trips are automatically off budget the minute I put Similac into my cart.  It might be the nagging fear that we’ll run out.  It might be the endless piles of powder that I find on our countertops.  It might be the gross bottles filled with leftover formula from weeks ago that I find under her bed.  I am chuckling to myself that I actually have written two whole paragraphs on my hatred for formula.  Ha!

I think it is my way of avoiding the fact that my baby is turning one in a months time.  Insane.  As I look at this last year, I can truly say it flew by and it felt like it was 5 years.  A lot has happened in this last year.  So many ups and downs, dark nights and beautiful morning sunrises…I wish I felt like diving into explanations for why everything happened, but I don’t.  I’m just going to spend time feeling thankful for the end of things like formula.

It’s the little things in life that give hope.  Saying goodbye to this little chapter means we can say hello to so much more.

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random acts of peer pressure

*Side note: radio silence for the last month has been due to the fact that our computer died.  It lived a great long life RIP…we got a new one, and so I’m back.*

Last month I read an article about a Starbucks drive-thru that succeeded in a 341 people random act of kindness chain…meaning that amount of people paid for the drinks in the car behind them.  It linked to an article about one woman who refused, thus ending the incredibly long streak of drink buyers.  She basically said she didn’t want to be forced into something like that and it should be a personal choice.  Back then I was appalled.  How selfish, I thought.

You see, I have been having fun with this concept for many years.  I don’t buy someone’s drink every time I go through a drive-thru but more often than not, I used to gear myself up for it…get a little nervous with butterflies…tell the barista I wanted to pay for their drink…say a little prayer in my head for them and drive away.  It was exhilarating and I often hoped that it would brighten that person’s day…set them up with a smile, you know, the usual affects of a random act of kindness.  Most times I got out of there so quick, no one had a chance to even see me…but on rare occasions they would make sure to catch up with me and share their gratitude- usually through a downed window while driving.  I saw tears and joy and it always made me feel like Jesus and I were working together.

Then…a few weeks ago, I drove through a Starbucks one morning, tired and just wanting coffee.  As I pulled up to the window an overly excited teenage barista declared that the person in front of me had paid for my drink and if I paid for the drink behind me, I’d keep the streak alive (they were at number 32).  I said yes, of course, but it didn’t feel the same.  In fact, I felt super pressured.  Instead of feeling so grateful that someone had just paid for my drink, I realized they were probably just as pressured as well.  And to make matters worse, when the barista told me what I owed (for the person behind me) it was less than my drink, to which he joked that “I got a deal.”  Totally not the point dude.

Now, I realize that this whole concept might give people who would never think to buy someone’s drink, an opportunity to participate in a random act of kindness.  However, I really see no other point, other than to boost a particular Starbucks store into the news with the new highest record.  Lame.  This thing is not random and it’s not necessarily kind.  It’s more like targeted acts of peer pressure…

So, this morning when I rolled through the drive thru yet again, I watched as the car in front of me held out her $2 and change.  Then, instead of taking it, the barista (I’m guessing) explained that their drink had been paid for…now, in that moment I bet if the barista had handed her a free drink and said “Hope you have a wonderful day”, that person would be feeling great.  Instead, I watched as the barista explained that she was the 5th person to be involved in a “random act of kindness” and asked if she would like to participate.  I looked on as the driver scrounged around for more change, but ultimately didn’t have enough to cover my pumpkin spice latte.  At this point, I wanted to yell out my window and say- “it’s okay, just enjoy your free drink!” but I didn’t.  When I got to the window the barista explained that half of my coffee had been paid for, blah blah…which confirmed to me that she had totally shamed the poor driver in front of me and under pressure and persuasion, I had been blessed with half my drink paid for.  Gee I feel so loved.  They must have talked to their employees, because this barista definitely was more nonchalant about keeping the streak alive, but shared it nonetheless.  I didn’t have the guts to say anything except yes, but as I drove away I shook my head in disgust. (not really…but it did remind me that I had wanted to write a blog post about this very topic)

Now, don’t get me wrong- I’m all for random acts of kindness.  But it’s about the giver just as much as the receiver.  I remember when someone paid for me a few years back and how amazing it felt…that simple little gesture.  But this whole concept of “keeping the streak alive” ruins all the beautifulness that occurs in a random act of kindness.  It makes me sad to think how many people probably drove away angry.  What’s even more sad is that if I ever get the inkling to pay for someone’s drink randomly, I might think twice because I don’t want them to feel pressured to pay for someone else.  Sad day.

Well, my rant is over.  I realize this is silly but I just had to write it down.