Saturday, December 08, 2012

Catching Up (again! Why am I such a bad blogger?)

I just can't get this blogging thing together. I think there is a lazy person inside of me and for the most part I let her win. I have had so many great things to share (well at least I think they're great) but I find I just can't let myself sit down and write. So, I don't.

So here we are again, way too much time has passed and way too much has happened so its another catch up post. In no particular order...

This past week has been a super fun week for me. I went and had myself custom spray tanned and got my hair cut and colored (its been over 5 months!) so I feel like a rock star. You're probably wondering why on earth, when its December would I do that. Well its because in January, I'm going to be a bridesmaid and the dress is short and strapless! On a good day in the middle of August I am white as a ghost so I thought I would try this and see if I turned orange. I didn't. And I'm so happy about that.

Jayden was just in his second play, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, he played a dead Indian. It was such a good play and even though his part was small he did a great job and had a ton of fun. I think the best part was the make up, they did such a great job making them all look scary. I love that he loves acting and hope he wants to do this for awhile.

Aren't they creepy looking. Jayden is far right in case you couldn't tell. 

 We received two very exciting pieces of news the Monday after Thanksgiving regarding our adoption.
The first was our little girl's MRI report came back that everything was normal. Then, just a few hours later we found out she was officially released to our agency which meant we could begin the process to bring her HOME! We are so excited. So, as of right now we have submitted out letter of intent. For those unfamiliar with this its basically a letter stating we will treat her the same way we treat our bio kids and giver her all the same opportunities etc...
Once this letter has been uploaded to the powers that be we begin another wait. This time we are waiting for an LOA (letter of acceptance) from those same powers which typically takes 90 days. We've been told we could travel to pick her up by May/June however, they will know more once we receive our LOA. So, please pray for that!
We are allowed to send her a few things to ready her to meet us so we are getting those ready. One is a CD of music (lullabies) they will play for her and then we will play it once she is home (or even on the plane if she's fussy). Another is a photo book. I am really excited about putting this together. I love making these, they are so easy and help your favorite photos last forever. Even though we've been talking about her for awhile we haven't made her picture public and we probably won't until we have paid our program fee. I think it is at that point we will feel we are out of the woods with anything going wrong. I am not being negative, just somewhat realistic as we have already been through the fire putting things out there too soon.
Now, on a positive note, I can't tell you just how wonderful Holt International has been to us. They have treated us like we are royalty. I have to brag, just for a moment. If we email them in the morning they will get back to us that day and even if they don't have an answer, they will email just to say they are working on it. They are fabulous!!!! After all we had been through at the beginning we were wondering if we would adopt ever again but I can say now, with confidence that with an agency like Holt in our corner there is no doubt in my mind if God says yes we will too!
And speaking of fabulous, I know I've mentioned him before and I'm sure he'll never read this but I would just like to say "Dr. Kolb, you are our knight in shining armor!"
Dr. Kolb is the doc who has helped us navigate all the files we have been sent. He is amazing and the way he gives back never ceases to amaze me. He and his wife have adopted 5 special needs children from China and also 2 or 3 from Russia. They also have 3 bio kids. He joked with me recently that his wife banned him from looking at Holt's special needs listing of children because every time he does they end up adopting another child. I just love it. I love that he is using the gifts and talents God gave him to help families like us. We have been so blessed by him. There just aren't words. We can't wait to take Grace to meet him.

In other news my little job of babysitting is coming to a close and its very bitter sweet.
I've been keeping Hazyl since she was three months old and she is going to be 10 months on the 28th.
We have had such a fun time watching her and when I say WE I mean WE! I could not have done it without Jackson and Jayden's help. They have been invaluable to me. I dubbed Jayden the baby whisperer because he had a way of calming her down when I had nothing left. She is the sweetest baby and we will miss her everyday. The sweet part about it is the time we will have before Grace comes home. Time to re-group with school. getting her room ready, things like that. I think keeping Hazyl was God's way of preparing me, preparing my heart for how different things will be and also for helping me to wait. She came at just the right time. My heart was so broken by all the failed matches and she kept me smiling and hoping for a baby girl of my own. I am thankful they live down the street and I hope I get to babysit her when her momma needs a break. I also hope she and Grace are best little buds.

The first week she was with us. 

We have gotten to see every milestone and its been so precious. Thank you Darlene for trusting us to love your baby girl. We always will!

The second week in November my good friend Laurie invited me and 2 other girls to her parents' house in the mountains for her birthday weekend. One word: relaxing.
We literally chilled the whole time we were there. It was wonderful. On Saturday Laurie and Debra went to the spa so Sarah and I hung out in Blowing Rock just walking around window shopping. The weather was beautiful and the mountains were breathtaking. I'm hoping I'll get another invite in the near future.

The view from the porch

Sarah and I ate at this quaint little pub. 

US Girls

And last but not least. We finally got an updated family pic taken. It only took 3 years. HAHA!!
The plan was perfect and fool proof or so I thought. My friend Aubrey was gonna take them with our mediocre camera and I promised the kids and B it would be fast. Jackson and B are NOT fans of the pic taking thing. So we get out to the spot of our choice and a mere 10 shots in Aubrey is like "uh Rachel, your camera won't let me take any more pics." Ummmm, what?! So, I take a look and sure enough. I had forgotten to put the memory card back in it. UGH!!!!! What to do, what to do?
Aubrey, was quick on her feet. Took my iPhone 5 and started to shoot. And, how do they look?

I'm pretty sure this will be the last post until after all the festivities so...


Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankfulness Challenge Day 23: Thankful for wonderful memories.

Like most people I know I have loved Christmas for as long as I can remember.
There is something in the air that begins the day after Thanksgiving (when we decorate the house) and doesn't end until January. Its truly magical. As I've gotten older the magic has changed somewhat. As a child/adolescent it was toys/gifts/stuff! Now, its the togetherness of family the season brings. Its a time where we all take a little more time for each other and are a little nicer. I'm not saying I agree with this idea but it is what it is. 

My mom LOVED Christmas! This Christmas marks the 10th one without her and I am almost positive I have blogged about this in times past but its a story worth repeating. 
The first Christmas after mom died we gathered at her sister's house and spent it trying to keep our wits about us. It was very empty and cold feeling and I wondered there was no magic. Since I wasn't home that year I didn't decorate. Never did I imagine I wouldn't ever want to decorate again but thats exactly what happened one year later. 
Thanksgiving came and went and so did the tradition of decorating on Black Friday. I just couldn't get it together. There was no Aunt's house to hide at this year and my kids and B kept asking if we were even going to have a tree. I just couldn't do it. There was nothing in me that even wanted to. Mom was gone and so was the magic of Christmas. 
A few days before Christmas my friend Laurie called. We went to church together, she also had three boys but was about 10 years ahead of me. I loved Laurie. Always had a smile on her face and an encouraging word not to mention her amazing hugs! She was asking how it was going yada yada yada, you know all the small talk. I broke down and told her I hadn't decorated, how I just couldn't bring myself to do it. What was the point kind of thing. Her response...get those decorations down, I'll be right there and she hung up. Next thing I know she is at my door Christmas mugs in one hand and apple cider and Christmas CD in the other. And we got to work. She was so precious. Rachel, she said, your mom loved Christmas and what better way to keep her memory alive during this season then to keep loving it yourself. 
And thanks to Laurie I do! I relish every moment. I am so thankful God brought her into my life and thankful she's still around (albeit we are a few hundred miles away). She helped me remember why. She could of just stayed on the phone and said all the "right" things but left me to my own devices but she didn't. She acted out of compassion for me in my moment of pain and assisted in my healing process. 
Every year since then as we decorate she is constantly on my mind and heart as the vessel God used in the moment I needed something I couldn't produce on my own. HOPE!

And by the way, those same mugs she brought get filled and re-filled all season long.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankfulness Challenge Day 16: Thankful for Adoption

Praise be to the Lord for He has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy and with my song I will praise HIM!
Psalm 28:6-7

November is National adoption month. I am thankful for adoption.

I am adopted and beyond thankful for that. Jesus adopted me and made me His. I didn't deserve to be adopted. I was completely unlovable, I was broken, dirty and scarred. Yet He took me and my pathetic life and created something new. He took me just as I was yet loved me too much to leave me that way. He turned my life into something I never, in a million years thought it would ever be. He gave me a husband who loves and accepts me unconditionally and blessed me with three amazing boys. And now I want to do the same.
Jesus birthed the dream of adoption in our hearts more than 6 years ago. And in that time, although the waiting has been excruciating at times I have seen His mercy. Never more than in these last few weeks.
I told you a couple of posts ago that we had received a referral for a little girl. Here now are those details.
She is almost 14 months old. She was found on the side of the road when she was about 3 days old. She has a very large birthmark on the right side of her face. As we have consulted our doctor (who has truly been a gift from God through this adoption) he asked us to request an MRI to check for legions on her brain. He thinks the mark may be related to Sturge-Weber syndrome (port wine stain). So we did. And so we wait. And wait, and wait. It has been almost 4 weeks since the request (not to mention we are also waiting for her official release to Holt, our agency). However, in that time and through God and His mercy on us almost weekly we have received some kind of update on her.
The first week were updated pictures and measurements. She is completely on target with all of her development by the way.
Then the following week we learned she is a sponsored child so I have those updates plus 3 more pictures of her beginning when she was 2 months old.
And this week some serious icing on the cake, 5 videos of her!!!! In 1/4 of the videos she is crying but all in all she seems to be a very typical 14 month old little girl. One who is waiting for her momma and daddy to come and scoop her up.
Brian and I are sure in our hearts she is our girl and are just waiting for her release to submit our last pieces of paperwork which are written and ready to be sent. Will you please pray with us? Pray for that release to be sent quickly and the test results to be favorable and submitted to our agency. We so appreciate you standing with us, we can't do it alone.
I am hoping our next post will be a wordless one as we introduce you to our precious little girl but until then I am thankful beyond words for God and His mercy as we wait.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

A Christmas Photo Post

My friend Laurie and I put together a Christmas craft night for some girls last Saturday. We highjacked our ideas from Pinterest and had a blast together, eating, drinking, listening to Christmas music (albeit a little early) and making some of the cutest Christmas crafts I've seen.
Berry letter table.
Glitter tree table.
Debra getting started.
Robin, Laura and Deb
Tonya pulling her berries from their stems.
She thought I was gonna pick real berries for this project.
Me and Tonya
Jennifer, Sarah and Laura begin the glitter tree madness.

Joy letter table with Mary-Lou and Laurie.
Look at Robin go, she is almost done with her letter.
Tonya, not so much. 
Deb is on it too.
The JOY letters required precision, thankfully Laurie is super creative and talented. 
Ya, I had a hard time getting going. Deb said I had commitment issues.  
This craft proved to be the messiest.

Last craft was the yarn trees, Robin here getting started.  
So cute Laurie. 
Laurie showing Robin the fastest way to wrap the yarn trees.

My commitment is still lagging.
Mary-Lou and Jennifer. 
Me and Jennifer. 
Working hard!
The girls!
The yarn trees. The easiest craft to make.
The berry letter. 
The glitter trees are so pretty. 

Love these!

All in all a super fun evening and a great way to get everyone in the Christmas spirit, not that I need any help.
I'm already looking forward to next year!