three.

{my new favorite picture…a quick snapshot hanging out in our backyard.  melt my heart.}

Happy third birthday to our precious sons.  Each year, I can look back on your birth day with more happiness, and less sadness or fear.  I realize how blessed we are to have you, our little miracles, and that it doesn’t matter how you were born, but that God took care of you through it all.  He knew exactly what we needed–two precious, adorable little boys who have given us a life that wasn’t what we expected… it’s better.

You are my buddies.  Every day I enjoy being with you more and more.  Sure, you’re typical now-three-year-olds and we certainly have our moments, but honestly– you’re just so fun, interesting, smart, and hilarious, that I love the time I get to spend with you, just hanging out. I love our days full of balls, bikes, adventures, cars, books, conversations, learning, laughing, and snuggling.  Don’t grow up too fast.

Let it be said that I couldn’t do any of this without your father – you have the most amazing daddy.  He loves you so much, takes care of us and works so hard to provide for us.  He leads & guides us and he will always be there for us.  I pray every day that you grow up to be strong, intelligent, godly, humble (…and hilarious) men just like your dad.

We made it through the “terrible twos” and they really weren’t so terrible.  I’m sure the threes are going to be interesting, but I’m also excited to see what God has in store for you both this year as you continue to grow–as sons, brothers, friends, and individuals.  I hope your relationship with each other continues to blossom–you are truly best friends and it’s the sweetest thing.  I hope you know how much I love you, and how honored I am that God chose me to be your mama.  Here’s to another year of memories…

I love you,

Mommy

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a letter from daddy… birthday #3

Cullen and Lane,

You are 3 years old today.  Three. Entire. Years. Old.  It is mind-boggling in every way.  I vividly remember the moment that you both came into the world and the nerve-racking circumstances surrounding your entrance.

This year has been yet another adventure… your personalities have really come out which has been unbelievably hilarious and also pretty challenging.  You continue to amaze me with how sweet you can be to one another and how stinking smart you both are.  You (and your mommy) are the reason that I do what I do.  I want to provide for your needs and take care of you and teach you so much about life… everything from how to fix broken things to how to treat women (I still need to work on treating your mom more like the amazing creature she is) to the proper technique for a curve ball and how to hit opposite field and how to ride your bike (although C has already figured that out pretty well thus far).  I want.  I desire for you.  Am I really doing a great job of this?  Some days it’s hard to tell.  Some days I’m too tired to give another piggy-back ride, some days I don’t drop everything and just enjoy you.  Why?  Because I’m sinful… Because I need more of the Lord.  Because I need to rest in the fact that work can wait and that moments with you are important and years fly by.

This past year has seen a lot of firsts:  surgery, broken bone, big boy bed, bicycle… These are the moments to remember, both good and bad.  It doesn’t REALLY matter if the dishes are put away right after dinner or if the lawn gets cut as often as it should (thank God for that since I’m pretty terrible at keeping up with it!).  What matters is that you know that your mom and I love you more than life itself and that God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you.  These are the things that I need to focus on.  Because before long you’ll be in school, then off spending time with your friends and making decisions that I pray are the result of God working in your life.

You are my loves, my wrestling buddies, my handymen helpers.  My sons.  I love you more than you’ll ever know and pray for you constantly.  Happy birthday!  May I not ever forget these moments and may you slow down in growing up.  Just a little bit.

Love,

Daddy

Pieces of the Pyles 7.25.12

Strong like daddy… “I work out, I work out!”

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SuperCullen to the rescue…aka the day I was that mom with the kid wearing a backwards bib in public. You never know when you might need a superhero to save the day!

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Studs. The ladies can’t resist boys in Babiators! (thanks, Jeff, Shelly, & Colton!)

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On the other hand, they might be able to resist them in goggles… Haha.

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Can’t believe they turn 3 tomorrow… Man I love these boys.

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it’s not all rainbows & sunshine.

We have had a good bit of discouragement when it comes to adoption stuff the past few days. We finally got all our papers signed, notarized, sent off, etc. just to hear back that something was wrong on every form but one (most minor and easily fixable, and apparently this happens often when you first start out–but still, discouraging) and had to be redone. Our agency has been great–it’s just that everything has to be SO specific and perfect before being sent over to ET (and before that, it has to be state certified, and NC is one of the most difficult states when it comes to certification). Jeff got a huge project thrown on him at work this week in addition to us trying to redo everything, as we have to get the forms done by the end of the week to avoid a fee with our homestudy finalization. We needed some clarifications in our homestudy about certain special needs we are willing to accept, which we just found out requires more documentation and craziness. Basically, if we weren’t open to special needs, we’d be smooth sailing at this point. There’s something not quite right about that…it shouldn’t be tempting to just leave them off, simply because it takes so much work to have them listed, right? We have no idea if our daughter will even have any of these needs, but we feel like we’re supposed to at least be open to them.

At some point… it feels like we’re being attacked. Someone does not want us to press on–they want us to give up. Honestly sometimes I want to throw in the towel, but I know I can’t. I may not want to do the work right now, but I want to hold my daughter in my arms someday and tell her how much we love her. I KNOW we’re supposed to do this, no matter how hard it is at times. We’re totally overwhelmed – but maybe we need to realize we can’t do it all on our own.

We’re still thrilled to be adopting–but let’s not fool ourselves and act like it doesn’t come without difficulties and struggles. Sometimes we look at each other & laughingly say, “what in the world have we gotten ourselves into?!” I am so looking forward to the day when we’re done with dossier paperwork for a while and waiting on our referral! Though I know that will just bring a new set of challenges…bring it on 😉

The good news is… God is faithful, loyal, and dependable. He’s our rock and he gets us through it. Every time. Hallelujah.

“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.” -Psalm 31:1-3

thursday thoughts.

So a few things have happened in the past week-

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Culley got his cast off.. And they let him keep it. I think it’s gross & smelly, but he is so proud-we’ll see how long it sticks around!  We’re just so glad to be able to do everything again.  He’s still limping, but we’re praying he’ll be back to normal again soon.

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I got to go visit my loves in Rhode island and finally meet THIS cutie pie!!

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I wish I was snuggling him again right this second. Ohhhh I love him…

And honestly, my girl has been on my mind a lot. We’ve been scrambling to get our paperwork redone to get our homestudy finalized. As soon as this happens (next week most likely), we can send off for the government forms we need (they will take a while to come in) and complete the rest of our dossier paperwork!

I’ve been wondering lots of things… how old will the boys be when she gets home?  (Cullen has asked me every day if Baby Sister can come to his birthday party on Saturday – when I told him she wouldn’t be home yet, he asked if she could come to his next one when he turns 4… he has such a sweet heart for her already.)  Will she be “healthy” (a relative term in international adoption, of course) or will God call us to care for some needs she has and what might they be?  How old will she be?  I am praying for her daily, but it’s harder to pray when things seem so vague right now.

I have an odd sense of peace about the timing right now.  I know it’s early, and I’m sure I’m naive about a million things, but it is totally out of my control already, and somehow I’m ok with that right now.  God already knows, and He’s already planned things perfectly.  He knows how many years apart our children will be.  He knows exactly what we need.   I think He also knows I need to work on patience and not being afraid… thus, calling us to do this… it’s not easy 😉

Isaiah 12:2 “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and will not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” 

fourth of july

We had a nice Independence Day, even if it felt pretty weird not to spend it at the pool (poor Tiny Tim!).  We hung out, did some crafts/activities to keep the boys entertained indoors where it wasn’t over 100 degrees (using the book my friend Sheila recently wrote, America Is My Home!) and then enjoyed a cookout with our neighbors.  The boys loved the sparklers & “cherries” (poppers), but Cullen wasn’t as big of a fan of the big fireworks this year.  It was getting late anyway so we called it a night–but the little buddies must’ve been totally worn out, because they slept so late the next morning that we had to wake Lane up at 10:30!  Now that’s what you call having a good time. 😉

it’s official: we’re crib-less.

Lane’s in a big boy bed now, too. That didn’t take long, did it?

Last week he started climbing out of his crib again, so I told him, “Lane, buddy, if you climb out of your crib again you’re going to have to start sleeping in your big boy bed.” His response? “Mama, I ‘note’ {won’t} do it again!” ha. Well, the next morning, we caught him in the hallway. Jeff was working from home that day, so he tore the crib down at lunchtime. He had no other option–just the bed. We told him if he slept in it, we’d go get Chick-fil-a with Cullen to celebrate our two big boys in beds, but I was not optimistic about my little crib-lover going for it.

I thought for sure I’d spend the entire nap outside his door making him get back into bed every time he came out. To my surprise, he went straight to sleep and has slept great ever since–just like his brother. Neither of them get out of bed until we come get them and they have both been sleeping in later in the morning than they did in their cribs. Maybe I should’ve done this sooner!

Anyway – he wakes up from every nap & every morning still shouting “I slept in my big boy bed!!” So cute. I’m a bit sad that both cribs are down, but I’m holding it together knowing our house isn’t crib-less for good just yet. 😉 And this sure will make our summer traveling easier! Way to go Laner.

raffle WINNERS!

I’m not quite sure how to even start this post.  We are BLOWN AWAY by all your support through this raffle!  I can’t tell you how loved & encouraged we feel through seeing all of your names & contributions.  We truly have an amazing network of friends!

THANK YOU for helping us raise… $1,330 towards bringing our little girl home!!!

Wow.  Y’all are incredible… and what a mighty God we serve!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  That’s not really adequate, but hopefully it will do for now.  I am keeping the spreadsheet with all of your names–I want to put them in her baby book (& I have an idea for a project too) so she can see every name who helped make her adoption possible.  You are all a part of her story, and I want her to know how much she is wanted & loved already!

So, without any further ado… the winners!  I kept track of all the names in order of entry, then entered the numbers into random.org, which gave me three random winners.  

Bundle #1 goes to… Molly Mayhoff!

Bundle #2 goes to… Crystal Saunders!

And the bonus winner is… Jennie Patnode! {mother of Megan, who made the cutie booties, by the way!}

Woohoo!  So excited for you ladies!  I’ll be in touch with you about sending your prizes. 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful week, and thanks again for being SO generous!  We are so blessed.  One step closer to baby sister… 

don’t you worry…

First of all, we have been blown away by the support & encouragement from the raffle so far.  Even more than the financial aspect, seeing each person’s name as they enter really encourages us and uplifts us… and we needed it this week.  We got all our dossier paperwork in & found out all we’ll need to redo for our homestudy as well–y’all, it’s crazy how much is required.  I began to get overwhelmed, but God’s timing is perfect.  He has truly used you guys to encourage us–so thank you!  We feel so loved & supported.  More to come on that. 🙂  {just a few more days to enter!}

I have no doubt that part of the reason we have been called to adopt is so that God can work in and through us, and strengthen our relationship and dependence on Him.  Already we have been realizing how much we need him.  Just when I began to worry and fear–today He gave me exactly what I needed to hear, loud and clear, from several different sources.  I thought I’d share, in case any of you are worrying or anxious about something too (I mean, there’s always something, isn’t there?)

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus.”

“A reduction in anxiety is a sign our trust in God is increasing.  Why? When we really believe God is in control, and using good & bad circumstances to work out His perfect plan, we feel His peace.  In fact, we should be anticipating something great!” -my YouVersion Parenting devotional this morning

“Whenever you start to feel anxious, remind yourself that your security rests in me alone, and I am totally trustworthy.  You will never be in control of your life circumstances, but you can relax and trust in my control.”  –Jesus Calling devotional, July 5

Oh, God is good.

adoption fundraiser raffle!

It’s time!! We’re excited to begin our first adoption fundraiser to help bring our daughter home from Ethiopia!  We have some amazing, generous friends who have come together to make this raffle possible–we are SO touched, and so very grateful!

We are now in the dossier building stage, which means we’re finalizing our homestudy and working on crazy amounts of paperwork, forms, training, etc.  This process usually takes 4-6 months, but we are hoping to finish it a little faster since we have already completed the time-consuming homestudy process.  Once all our paperwork is together & our dossier is approved, we’ll need to make another payment of about $9,000–at which point we’ll just be waiting for a referral!  So, we are doing our best to raise the amount we need, little by little, so we can hopefully make the payment as soon as our dossier is ready in order to continue moving forward without any holdups.  It’s a big amount, but God has been SO faithful to our family and we trust that He will continue to provide!

So… raffle time!!  Here’s how it will work:

Each entry is $10.  You can buy one entry, a few entries, or as many entries as you want to improve your chances!  ALL of the proceeds will go toward bringing our baby girl home.  Several friends and family members have graciously donated all of these awesome goodies that will go to the winners.

There will be TWO winners, one for each bundle.  There will also be a bonus winner… read about that at the bottom of the post.  I will keep track of all entries, draw winners, and announce the names a week from today along with how much was raised! {the raffle will close at midnight on Sunday, July 8th with the announcement on Monday, July 9th}

Now the fun part… here’s what you can win!  I am in LOVE with all of this goodness…

BUNDLE #1 INCLUDES…

These three beautiful prints from Naptime Diaries.  Jessi is incredibly talented, and as wonderful in person as she sounds on her blog!  You’d love her 😉  I have several of her prints hanging in my house & get so many compliments on them.  You have got to check them out… just be prepared to want/buy them all!

This gorgeous handmade necklace from Created Beautifully.  I just love this so much!  Jennifer is so sweet, and I’m pretty sure I have pinned nearly everything she makes on Pinterest.  I love anything with birds’ nests and have wink-wink-nudge-nudged my husband more than once about getting me one when baby girl arrives and we have 3 in our “nest.”  Love her jewelry!

This bright, colorful thermal picnic tote from Thirty-one.  I don’t know about you, but I love picnics… how fun would it be to pack up a lunch in this cute tote & go find a field with your husband, boyfriend, kids, or a friend?

This set of notecards from Inspire Design Studio.  I work with Stephanie so I may be biased, but I think she is one of the most creative, talented, and genuine people I’ve ever met.  Her custom wedding invitations are to die for… unique, one of a kind, and just plain pretty.  I have a pack of these notecards & they are perfect for encouraging a friend with some snail mail!

These two sets of rosebud earrings from Always Abby.  Abby is a dear friend of mine who really helped make this raffle possible–thank you!  Check out her shop–along with her signature rosette pieces, she’s got lots of great handmade designs for you to wear!  Whenever I wear her items, I have so many people asking me where I got them from because they want one too.

These gorgeous postcard prints from watercolor artist Judy Quickel.  I love Judy’s art and have always been inspired by her paintings.  I love that she’s turned some into these great, cute little postcards to send to a friend or family member!  I know it’d brighten my day to get one of these in the mail.  Shoot, I’d throw one in a frame just to keep in my house, too!

For the men… here’s a great shirt from Batch Apparel!  These shirts are super comfy and quite stylish.  This is their latest offering and Jeff has already mentioned that he’ll want one of these soon! The good folks at Batch are willing to work with sizing as stock permits.

And… a $75 gift certificate to Scentsy!!  Jill has me hooked on several of their scents… and there are so many pretty warmers to choose from.  They make your house smell SO good.  I hope whoever wins this has a great time shopping–and good luck trying to make a decision! 😉

BUNDLE #2 INCLUDES…

Three more beautiful prints from Naptime Diaries!! I am telling you, I want to plaster my house in Jessi’s prints.  Aren’t they great?!  She’s brilliant.  And an amazing, encouraging woman of God to boot. Love her!  I’ve followed her blog for ages and it’s been such an encouragement to me–you should too. 🙂

These ridiculously adorable boys’ CONVERSE booties from Studio {1859}.  Just when I think Megan has created the cutest and/or most crafty thing I’ve ever seen, she outdoes herself & comes up with something new!  You’ve got to see her crochet booties and bows for little girls, too–and I love her cold porcelain jewelry.  I’m wearing a pair of her beautiful earrings right now 🙂

This cute and fun pink rosette necklace from Always Abby!  I have this one in mustard yellow (I am a little obsessed with mustard yellow–in fact Abby will no longer let me purchase things from her in that shade, she’s forcing me to expand my repertoire!) and wear it all the time to spice up a simple tee or dress.  Love it!

This awesome adoption t-shirt from Brooke.  All four of us have one of these–they say “one less child without a family tree.”  AMEN.  I wear it all the time – it’s super soft and I love to talk about adoption when others ask me about it.  Brooke and her family just welcomed home sweet Eli from Ethiopia–he is adorable beyond words, and we’re so happy for them!

A set of notecards using these brand-new prints (just designed!) from Inspire Design Studio.   I love the watercolor chevron background-oh hello.  I am a lover of cards (yes, words are my love language) so I definitely think anyone would love to receive these for a little day brightener!

Also, more lovely postcard prints from Judy!  Aren’t these pretty?  If you win, feel free to send me one. 😉

Another one for the men – this “Drink it in Carolina” shirt from Batch Apparel.  Jeff has one of these and absolutely loves it!  Again, the winner can pick the size as stock permits.

And finally, another $75 gift certificate to Scentsy courtesy of Jill so someone else can also have the pleasure of shopping to their hearts’ content!  These also make great gifts if you have anyone you need to shop for.

And the bonus winner…

will win yet ANOTHER $75 gift certificate to Scentsy!  Woohoo!  So there will actually be 3 winners total–I can’t wait to see who takes home these awesome prizes…

That’s a lot of great stuff, isn’t it?  Thank you SO much to everyone who contributed items to this raffle–we can’t tell you how much we appreciate you.  Thanks for supporting us and helping us bring our baby girl home!  

To enter, click the button below or click on the link here.  Just type in the total dollar amount for however many entries you want ($10 per entry) and I will enter them all in!  I wish you could all win–but you’ll all be winners in my book for being a part of our daughter’s coming home story. 🙂  THANK YOU SO MUCH!