“going camping!” memorial day weekend.

We spent the Memorial Day holiday weekend with my mom’s side of the family.  We rented a cabin in Boone and did lots of eating, hanging out, hot tubbing, shopping at the Mast General Store, and introducing the boys to our favorite childhood game, hide & seek Grandpa’s candy.

“hiding their eyes” with Grandma

My Grandpa had a vending machine when I was little, and we would spend hours every vacation and holiday with my grandparents trying to find the goodies.  It was pretty fun watching my little guys’ eyes light up every time they found a candy.

We convinced the boys that we were “going camping!” and that sleeping in a sleeping bag “just like Curious George” would be awesome (and yeah, bribing them with roasting marshmallows if they’d do it sure didn’t hurt).  They totally fell for it.  And we totally made s’mores to “reward” them for their first time sleeping in anything other than a crib or pack & play.  Mama loves her some s’mores.

It was great being with family (we don’t get to see my aunt, uncle & cousin very often as they’re missionaries in Asia, but were home for a short trip to see my cousin’s college graduation), and you better believe I soaked up every minute I could in the hot tub.  Mama loves her some hot tubs too.

The boys loved watching the men fish, wading in the river & playing in the mud (well, Lane at least)–but they absolutely adored my cousin Benjamin.  They are officially his #1 fans.  He played with them all weekend – Benjamin, you are coming on all our family vacations this year 😉

We didn’t have any cell phone signal all weekend… and it was kind of nice.  We need to “unplug” more often.  Talk more, read actual paper books, spend uninterrupted time with our boys & our family.  I think that’s a new goal for the summer.  I’m looking forward to it…

{and I think we need to figure out a way to hang a tire swing in our backyard for this kid!}

school’s out for summer!

The boys finished up their last week of preschool last week. They had a little program on Friday where they were completely adorable (obviously) singing 3 songs with motions.  They had SUCH a great year at Back Creek – they LOVED Mrs. Jane & will miss her so much!  I’m hoping they aren’t too bummed out that they have a whole summer with just me 😉  Just kidding.

Love these boys… can’t believe that when they go back, they’ll be in the 3 year old class!

thankful thursday.

It’s been a while since I did one of these – and it’s been a bit of a week where I need to actively remember how much God has blessed me!

I’m thankful for…

  • families who support us, especially with this adoption stuff
  • a husband who brings home a Mocha Coconut Frap on a rough day
  • Toblerone bars (except I need to stop eating them…)
  • my little Jesus Calling daily devotionals. Somehow it’s always just what I need to hear that day!
  • my twins, and particularly enjoying their differences this week. Someone told me they’re like yin and yang twins-ha.
  • GRACE.
  • swim playdates with Aunt Ashy & baby Anna! (the adorable little girl Ash nannies, who happens to have a sweet pool in her backyard and parents who love for us to come hang!)

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  • amazing new friends we’re making through this adoption journey, and the precious “old” friends who have encouraged us every step of the way
  • homemade strawberry ice cream (and strawberry picking with my boys and our friends!), and my Grandma’s coconut cake recipe
  • the fact that we’re heading to a cabin in the mountains for a long weekend tomorrow!

a sweet mom’s day.

We had a really nice Mother’s Day – I am so thankful for my wonderful husband who always takes such good care of us & makes me feel loved–especially on special days. This was my third momma’s day and it was so fun. The boys told me “Happy Mother’s Day Mommy! I love you!” over and over again all day long and gave TONS of hugs, kisses, & snuggles–so precious. They baked me DELICIOUS “triangles!!” for breakfast (orange cranberry scones, complete with mimosas for breakfast in bed–way. to. go, honey)… and I got these beautiful bracelets that I LOVE (he stalked my Pinterest board.  Again, way. to. go, honey):

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He said he almost bought a third one but we won’t pick a name until we get her referral so he couldn’t put an initial on it. I just thought it was sweet that he thought about it. I am so looking forward to the day when we do add that third one… 🙂

We heard an amazing testimony at our church and then had a delicious lunch with my momma. So thankful to be a mom AND have my momma. And we missed you, Mom Pyles! The rest of the day was filled with fun family time, long naps (amen) and more yummy food. It was a sweet day together and I just couldn’t stop thinking how blessed I am–I do not deserve this!

Happy Mother’s Day 2012

So true.  Happy Mother’s Day – to our two mothers who are surely irreplaceable… we love you & are SO thankful for you.  I don’t have words to describe how grateful I am.  Thanks for your selflessness, encouraging words, prayers, love, & wisdom.  Thanks for being such wonderful, devoted grandmas.  We love you!!!

AND Happy Mother’s Day to my dear mom friends–the ones who are celebrating another Mother’s Day, the ones enjoying their first, the ones who are waiting for their babies, and the ones who lost them this year.  Thinking of all of you.  From this post:

“To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

Happy Mother’s Day – so thankful for the two little miracles who made me a mama… LOVE them!  Thank you Jesus.

just another day in paradise.

Oh how I love these boys… and oh how interesting it is raising them sometimes. Some days are so very glamorous!  Lane Davis – we had a little “rite of passage” incident yesterday that I would’ve been just fine skipping.  Your grandma tells me this story will be funny…someday.  You were apparently having way too much fun at Chick-fil-a with some new “big boy” friends, and decided you couldn’t be bothered to use the bathroom.  Yep, you, my completely dependable, potty-trained son, had an accident (we are talking BOTH #1 & #2) at the very top of the playplace, causing them to have to shut the place down for half an hour so they could clean it up.  Oh yes.  Just a little embarrassing.  The icing on the cake was that the poor guy who had to don his gloves & climb up there to take care of the mess and sanitize?  I went to high school with him.  I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough.  Walk. of. shame.  This happens to everyone at some point, right?? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

You both are just 2 months away from turning three.  We’ve kind of gotten away with things when it comes to the “terrible two’s” – they really haven’t been too terrible & have actually been a lot of fun.  I hear that means we’re in for it with the threes… and I am starting to believe it.  Whew, one three-year-old is one thing. Two of them at once?  Let’s just say God is teaching me… a lot. I feel like I’m disciplining constantly right now.  This mothering deal is not for the faint of heart!  It’s kind of hysterical how I find myself all of a sudden sounding just like my parents.  Did that just come out of my mouth?! “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” “Go find your joy!”  It takes having kids to give your own parents the credit they deserve.  Mom & Dad, my hat’s off to you.  Thanks for not killing me 😉

I love this picture of the brothers.  Honestly, though I may be exhausted sometimes almost all the time, the rewards far outweigh the challenges.  I love these boys so much.  I love watching their relationship grow.  We have been blessed that they get along so well.  They truly are buddies and best friends–it’s awesome to watch.  They’re such lovers right now; I’m savoring all the extra hugs, kisses, & cuddles for as long as they last.  Especially on those “not-so-glamorous” days.  Just another day in paradise… 🙂

homestudy visits #1 & #2

So, backtracking a bit until we get caught up – here’s how the first two homestudy visits went down.

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{the day we sent off our application! I’ve never been so nervous to put a letter in the mail}

If you are interested in adopting or starting the process–having a social worker come to your house and write down all your life experiences and more background information about you than most of your close friends know can be intimidating to say the least, but our social worker “M” has been wonderful. I love her and we’ve already learned so much from the wisdom she’s given us. She’s a social worker, but also an adoptive mom AND a believer… so great!

The first night we talked all about our background (basically, our entire life history pretty much) and our marriage. She interviewed each of us separately and together. She asked everything from what all of our family members do, to what our upbringing & childhoods were like, to the strengths & weaknesses of our marriage. Anything & everything from birth to where we are now. It was crazy how much information we shared – but neither of us is too shy, so it wasn’t too bad. 😉

The second night (two weeks later), we talked about how we raise our children, discipline, why we’re adopting, our views on adoption and specific issues of trans-racial adoption, etc. She also gave us a ton of resources and books to read which was so helpful. Our final night is the actual “home visit” where she’ll meet our boys and tour our home to write up a report on where we live.

I’ll admit I was a little nervous about this aspect of the process, but it’s been pretty painless and actually very helpful. M has given us a lot to think about, talk about, & pray about as we welcome a new family member in this unique way. There will be new issues we’ll face as we welcome an adopted child–although as she pointed out, we didn’t exactly bring our boys home the “traditional” way either, so we’ll just take it step by step like we did last time! (Jeff also likes to joke that we have expensive babies too – NICU or adopting, hey, we can’t take our money with us anyway! ha.)

Next week is our final visit with M, and then she’ll finish the report & send it off to WACAP to approve. Concurrently we are working on a few more pieces of paperwork that they need, and our adoption training hours. In a few weeks, all of this should be approved and we’ll need to make our first big payment to get put on the WAITING LIST! So exciting.

Baby Sister also received her first purchase the other day–Aunt Ashy couldn’t resist. SO cute. Hard to believe we’ll actually have some pink around here someday…

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thanks…again

I just have to say thanks again for everyone’s support – we have gotten SO many amazing comments here & on Facebook (I need to find a way to record those for our daughter to see someday!), messages, emails, & phone calls that have made us feel SO supported & encouraged. Wow!  I’m blown away.  We have some incredible friends and family! Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You have no idea what it’s meant to us.

I’m going to back up & write about what’s happened in the process so far, but several people have asked me what “coincidences” (or “God things” 🙂 ) happened that made us realize “ummmm-yeah, we probably shouldn’t ignore this.”  As I’ve said, adoption has always been on our hearts & anytime we’d talk about growing our family, it included adopting at some point (it was not plan B).   When we started praying in January, God quickly made it really obvious that now was the time and he truly was calling us to it.  “Adopting” popped up everywhere – blogs I’d come across, books, random conversations with random people, etc.  During the 3 weeks we were praying about it, both boys also started asking me for a “baby sister” out of nowhere.  Lane would ask several times a day.  He had never said anything like this before.  Kind of funny.

One of the more memorable things that happened was one day where God gave me a certain song about adoption no less than 4 times (on the radio twice, on Pandora, on a blog) AND a friend called to tell me she’d heard it & thought of me.  Later that same day, I turned our TV on just to start Pandora on it and play some music.  As I tried to flip to Pandora, the TV/Pandora widget literally froze up (it’s a relatively new TV, this doesn’t really happen!) on a kids’ show on PBS, Super Why – as they solved a “puzzle” and the answer read, in huge letters straight across the screen, “ADOPT!” And I kid you not, the second the word faded way, the TV “unfroze” and Pandora popped right on to a worship song.  It was crazy.  I think it was the next night that one of our pastors led a meeting AT OUR HOUSE where he spoke entirely on the Ethiopian eunuch passage.

Of course there was also the application fee story.  If that wasn’t an obvious answer, I’m not sure what was.  We also shared with just a few close friends, and they were so encouraging in confirming that God was calling us–and if He’s calling us to something, He will equip us in every way.  We’re so thankful for the community of friends we have!

All this to say–if you feel like God may be “whispering” to you about something, PAY ATTENTION.  Ask Him for wisdom and he truly will give it to you. I’ve never felt him speak more clearly than through this experience, and we’ve only just begun.  We know this is going to be a long road.  We’ve heard enough adoption stories to understand that we’re going to learn (very quickly) that we are not at all in control, and we just have to trust the Lord.  I don’t know what’s in store; I can try to plan all I want, but there’s not much about international adoption that you can control.  I know this will be both necessary and good for me.  HARD, but oh so good.

Here we go…!

PS – We have become mildly obsessed with adoption blogs & videos. Several of you sent me more to read and even connected me with friends or family who’ve adopted -thank you!  We love being able to talk to and read about others who have done this & how God’s been faithful!  Here’s a few of the many videos we’ve enjoyed… get your tissues ready–even Jeff would fully admit to tearing up watching some of these together!

the whole story…

We’re so excited to share with everyone about our adoption!  We are overwhelmed with all of your support, kind words, and excitement… seriously – you have no idea how much it’s meant to us.  THANK YOU.

So… here’s where we’re at.  We sent in our application in March, and are currently in the homestudy process.  Obviously there is a lot of backstory to this… so hopefully this will help answer some questions.

About our Adoption

Who: Oh, just us… Jeff, Lauren, Cullen & Lane.  We’re adopting a precious little girl.  Yep, “It’s a girl!”  It’s fitting that Lane is currently obsessed with baby girls.  We don’t know who she is yet, but we already love her and have been praying for her for a very long time.  PS – it is SO weird to write/say “she”!!!

What:  an international adoption.  Sometime last year I read the book “Adopted for Life.” We have talked about adopting since we dated and always hoped/thought we would someday.   Adoption has always been on our hearts. This rekindled the fire and I knew God wanted us to do something now.  We didn’t think we were ready to add to our family just yet–so we researched foster care, went to some information meetings, etc. but it just wasn’t right.  In January, we did a 21 day fast with our church and this was one of the things we prayed about specifically.  In that time, God made it very clear that adoption was something he wanted us to start now.  After researching domestic and international adoption (we felt God was calling us to international at this time although we think there are some great domestic programs too!) and realizing what a long process it could be, we asked a few close friends and family to pray for us for a weekend.  It got to the point where we truly felt like if we didn’t do it now, we were disobeying the Lord.  He’d brought it up and confirmed it in so many ways.  And we are so excited… it may (or may not) be far off, but we cannot wait to meet her!

Where: from Ethiopia.  We researched (and researched, and researched) countries and agencies until our heads felt like they’d explode.  We love the China waiting child program, but I didn’t meet the age requirements. We really had a heart for Africa (my aunt, uncle, & cousins lived there the entire time I was growing up, and Jeff’s cousin has spent a lot of time there as well.  My sister and several dear friends have done some missions trips to Africa too and their hearts for the country have been awesome to hear).  So we also considered Uganda & Ghana, but Ethiopia just kept coming back to us.  It’d pop up in the most random ways–books we read, people we talked to, even in a meeting where the Bible passage about the Ethiopian eunuch was read kind of out of nowhere, right as we were praying about it.  ET adoption is actually undergoing a lot of reform right now because of various issues, which has been slowing things down lately, so we definitely questioned it at times–but we know this is where God’s leading us right now.  (plus, have you seen Ethiopian children? They’re GORGEOUS… bonus! ;))

When:  Well, this part is kind of vague, unfortunately.  The current, approximate timeframe for a girl is “12-24 months or up to 3 years or more.”  So basically, who knows.  It all has to do with how many people are on the wait list and what criteria you are open to (some criteria include age, gender, special needs/medical conditions that we are willing to accept, etc).  The current average wait is 18 months, but they’re preparing families for it to get longer.  The agency is definitely about finding families for children, not vice versa, which is what we want, but means the wait could be longer to get matched with our child.  It is REALLY hard to have no idea & not be in control at all but we’re going to learn a LOT about trusting God’s timing!  We’ll keep you posted on this one…

Why:  Why adopt?  That’s a whole other post I’ll have to write sometime soon (I’m telling you, read Adopted for Life!).  But for now– it’s no secret we love kids. We’ve always wanted more kids, but thought we’d probably wait until the boys were more like 4 (if we were having more biological children).  Since our boys were born we honestly have been going back & forth, and wondering the whole time since if we’d try to get pregnant again, or adopt.  I have no idea if we’re done with bio kids or not (we’re not ready to decide that just yet!) but we do know that with THIS child, we are supposed to adopt.  I can tell you a lot of crazy stories already about the way God’s made it obvious.  It’s been surreal for this to go from something we’d always dreamed & talked about, to actually happening.

{One quick example–in January when we started praying (no one else knew yet), a dear family member sent us a check, just saying they thought God was leading them to send us some money and were planning to send us a little more later on.  We didn’t necessarily need it to pay bills or anything, so I wondered if God was up to something and trying to tell us ‘go for it now!’  I remember saying to Jeff “it’ll be crazy if they end up sending us the exact amount of the initial application fee.”  The next month was when we asked for prayer about it.  THAT weekend, what happened?  Another check arrived–and the total of the two checks?  Oh yeah, it was the EXACT amount of the application fee.  God is so good!!}

We’re nervous, excited, anxious, and pretty darn thrilled to be starting this journey.

How: I have no idea how.  Well, logistics first.  Our application was accepted and we are now working on our homestudy.  We’ve had 2 visits with our {wonderful, sweet} social worker and have one more left.  We have completed a massive mound of paperwork including medical forms, reference letters, all kinds of financial info, background checks, copies of birth/marriage certificates… and so on.  When our visits are completed, she will write up an 8-10 page report on our family, and that will be mailed along with all of the paperwork to our agency to approve.  Then we get put on the waiting list!  Later, we’ll have to work on submitting other forms and completing our dossier (Whew, having twins might have been easier than this!). When we get the referral of our child, we’ll take two trips to Ethiopia – the first one to pass court, and the second one after the legal process is completed to bring our baby HOME!

So that’s some of the logistics.  One of the huge leaps of faith has to do with the financial aspect.  It will cost around $30,000 to complete this adoption.  That is a lot of money.  We’re not entirely sure where it’s going to come from, but we’re already saving our pennies, brainstorming some fundraisers, and researching grants to help bring our daughter home.  We know we serve a BIG God.  The one thing that adoptive friends have continually said is NOT to let that stop you–that God will provide.  And we know He will.  Clearly, he’s started to already.  Besides, we can’t take our money with us anyway, can we?  She will be worth every. single. penny.

So there you have it.  We’re so happy to share the news & look forward to what’s in store!  I have no doubt it’s going to be a crazy journey, but I also have no doubt that we serve a mighty God who already knows every step of the way.  If you have any questions (there’s so much more to share!) leave them in the comments & I’ll do my best to answer them!

We covet your prayers; thank you again for all the love & support–we will certainly need it as we move forward with this adoption.  It is not going to be easy and it’s probably not going to be a smooth ride (before OR after we bring her home!), but we know God has a lot to teach us through this process and we feel very blessed, and very humbled, to be growing our family through adoption.

SO excited for you, precious girl!  We love you already.