Saturday, February 26, 2011

He's got soul!

Sam LOVES this song right now--loves, loves, loves it! I think it is so interesting to see which songs they grab onto. Anyway, we love hearing him sing it:)

Our little sweethearts on Valentine's day...

Whew, I can't seem to stay caught up these days! Ah well, here are some pictures of Sam and Amelia celebrating Valentine's Day:)

First was their party at preschool. Fun and treats and crafts abounded:)
When they first get to school they have "open exploration" until hello circle starts. Their classroom is a studio full of fun things to spin on, slide down, jump over, etc. What fun!

This is Sammy's favorite thing to do at school first thing in the morning. He likes for me to give him a few spins before I leave:)

Sam and Vera decorating his Valentine Bag. Sam gave his friends matchbox cars with their Valentines (he was very excited about this:) and Amelia gave hers salt dough heart necklaces that she made with Mammy.

The three amigos enjoying some treats.

Sharing a lick:)

The preschool party aftermath!:) They were both clutching chocolate, which of course melted and made a mess! It was so cute though.

Hope your Valentine's Day was lovely as well!

Hope to write more soon,

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Early morning musings.

I'm here in the guest bed with sweet Amelia. She has been sick for about a week and we are running our normal cycle. She gets sick, then when she's almost better Sam gets it and then she often gets it back from him. Fun! So we have been up since four- more medicine administered, then a coughing fit ending in throw up, and now quiet and fewer coughs and maybe some sleep? Though now that I'm up, my tummy is feeling on edge and hungry, a seemingly constant combo these days.
Anyway, being up with them frequently during the past week's nights has made me remember back to their infancy and to the new infant that Lord willing will join us in September. I thought to myself tonight, " it's the beauty and the challenge." Now, I hazily remember the deliriousness that came from lack of sleep, the frustration of trying to get Amelia to sleep ( it's been her lifelong challenge), etc. But I also remember the beauty that comes with that sacrificial love. It gets us outside of ourself- it stretched me and grew me and increased my dependence on the Lord.
I thought of that tonight as I lay next to Amelia after she threw up. I was telling her that she was always so brave when she is sick and how proud I am of her that she doesn't complain ( a virtue I admit i do not possess) when she doesn't feel well. I told her what a strong girl she is and in that moment I thought , " There IS beauty in being up at 4 with your little one. Having the chance to affirm her strength and to stretch my own." I think of Sam in our room laying next to Joel, feeling safe and loved next to his daddy. I think of Joel, who has been sleeping at least part of the night next to that little boy for almost four years now, that snuggly, wiggly, crotch kicking little sleeper and once again I think- " yep, it's the beauty and the challenge." Now then, all is well. It is five and Amelia is back to sleep. I'm going to go get a piece of toast and try to get some more sleep myself.
Love to you this early morning and feel free to remind me of this post in the future:) Jen

Monday, February 07, 2011

Theme of the week: Hearts!

So, I know I haven't been very faithful in blogging about pre-school themes, but better late than never! So, this week at school they will be learning about hearts! The body part, the shape, and the emotions that come from the heart will be discussed, danced about, explored through art and music, etc.

At home, I'm keeping it pretty simple. Mom has already been doing Valentines crafts with them (another area where Mammy excels and mama happily takes a back seat!) and today I pulled out some books about love and Valentines day. Also, tonight before bed we read in one of their little devotional type books about what love looks like in action. How do we love our family, friends and neighbors?

Love is something to get excited about! Sure, Valentines day can be annoying and expensive if we make it that way, but this year I want to keep it simple. Use it as a reminder to think about true, nitty gritty love. The love of God shown through people in our lives here on earth.

Shown through my mom when she came and completely, unselfishly, unabandonly loved and cared for us when the babies were born (and a million other times in my life).
Shown through Joel when he comes home from work, tired and bleary eyed and takes out the trash or loves on the babes or one of the hundred other things he has on his plate.
Shown when a neighbor calls and said she made some extra dinner and wants to know if she can share (yes, every time:).
Shown when a sweet Sam holds his sisters feet "so she won't fall in the potty" as he knows she is a bit on edge in public restrooms.
Shown when we mamas hold our children close when we most want to push them away.
Shown in millions of little ways, every day, across the world; helping us catch a small glimpse of the power of the true love of Christ.

So, there ya go. Preschool theme for the week is hearts. A theme I guess I must really love:)

Yes, in the first picture Amelia is practically sitting on my head. I love it because this is such a perfect picture of her. She WILL be close to you and if you say you don't want her to sit in your lap, well, this is what you get:)

All for now, Jen

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A "smooky" story, just for you!

Sam and Amelia love for me to tell them "smooky" (spooky) stories. Their favorites are this series I tell them about two little girls named Jenny and Jennifer (yes, Jennifer K, this is me and you!) who go on all kinds of adventures and get lost in cornfields, and forests and on beaches, and by rivers! They always have so much fun, but eventually run into trouble...trouble like scary noises, large constructions sites that try to scoop them up in cranes, wild pigs chasing them through fields and valleys. It's a crazy, "smooky" world out there, but they always find a way to get home to their waiting mamas! :)

Anyway, Joel and I had a spooky adventure of our own tonight, and since this isn't the kind of story I can tell Sam and Amelia, you are the lucky listeners! :)

Joel and I went to the movies tonight! Yes, this is a big deal. I don't even remember the last time we went. We've never been great about getting out on consistent dates since Sam and Amelia were born. The only times we really go out are when we trade a friend baby sitting or when our parents are visiting. But now, Mammy is here! Woo hoo! So, out we went.

We saw The Fighter and it was so, so good. We also ate popcorn for dinner (no butter, if that makes that sound any better:). Fun stuff. I don't mean to get to mushy gushy, but as we walked out and Joel took a phone call (he's on call), I thought to myself, "Boy is he handsome. Boy do I love him." Yep, dates are good!

So, we were waiting on the elevator to come take us to the parking garage and waiting with us was one other man. He was not creepy looking really, but was dressed in all black and when I caught his eye I wasn't sure how to read him.

Let me back up and say that I finished reading The Gaurdian last night. My mom read it and then I picked it up because I was wanting a new novel to read. She failed to tell me that it was a CREEPY, SCARY book! I was totally and completely freaked out last night. I couldn't stop reading but I couldn't quit jumping at every sound I heard. So, I may have already been a bit on edge tonight.

Okay, back to the elevator. It finally came and the three of us got on. Soon after we got on the man slapped his hands against his coat making a loud noise and I think I jumped 2 feet. Still not sure what he was doing but I looked to find the alarm button on the elevator just in case. Then, oh then, when we had about 2 floors left to go he reaches into his pocket and pulls out....latex gloves. I am not kidding. He puts them on! I almost pressed the alarm but knew the doors were about to open. Whew. After we got out I put two and two together and realized he must have been a janitor coming to collect trash (I'm pretty sure his coat had the movie theater emblem on it), but not before Joel said, "I'm glad we didn't just get murdered!" He had put the keys in between his fingers to stab him if something had happened. Sheesh. Spooky indeed!

Sweet dreams....bwah hahahahaha.

Okay, I won't end this on that note. I'll share this picture with you. While we were fighting for our lives (ha ha), all was well and happy at the home front. It is so fun to go our completely relaxed because you know the little ones are spending time with their Mammy! They were watching Mary Poppins and loving it!:)


Thursday, February 03, 2011

A story of life and letting go...

Oh goodness, I have been putting off writing this post because it is just. so. complicated. Such is life, I guess, messy and complicated and not the nice, neat package that we all desire.

The bottom line is that we decided to postpone our adoption plans. It was a hard and very emotional decision.

It was a bumpy road from the very beginning, really, but I know many adoption journeys are. Looking back, we realize that Joel felt we began the journey too soon. We began without a firm foundation of how we would pay the enormous adoption costs (while paying off some credit card debt,etc) and without a foundation of knowledge about adoption in Ethiopia. We just knew we had always wanted to adopt, we knew it was a long process and that Joel had good income finally, we knew Ethiopia was currently one of the smoothest adoption processes, and we knew of a great agency with a long history in Ethiopia, so let's do it!

I quickly realized that the paperwork piece of the adoption was like a part-time job and I wasn't nearly as efficient at it as I imagined I would be! I also felt Joel's hesitance in getting his part of the paperwork complete. Now we realize that he was feeling pressured and I was feeling frustrated because I knew there were time limits in getting the stuff done!

And so the months went by.

Along the way, we gained knowledge about the adoption process and with knowledge just came more questions. We realized that one reason for the looooong wait (sometimes years once your paperwork was in Ethiopia) is because there is a long,long,long,long line of adoptive parents waiting for healthy babies to be born and come into agency care. In a sense, the demand is outweighing the supply! Meanwhile, there are millions of waiting children around the world who are a bit older or who have special (minor or major) medical needs who are waiting for families while families wait for babies. We realized we wanted to change our focus to a waiting child adoption.

We needed to do more research,though, on which special needs we thought we were able to parent, etc. Meanwhile, our paperwork was expiring (again) and we were having to basically start our dossier over. It just became too much. Too overwhelming for me to do alone, and after some difficult conversations I suggested we stop the process until we had time to get on the same page, take some time to establish a firm financial foundation, continue researching the many facets of international adoption, etc. It was a tough couple of days that followed. I just felt so very sad , confused, weary. At the same time, it felt right and also felt like I was able to release the process back into the hands of the Lord.

I know part of the disappointment was how it would look to everyone. Fail. We failed! I knew of so many friends who also desire to adopt and felt like somehow we would go before them and then be able to support them on their journey! I see now that it was pride.

I don't know why the Lord had us go through this process. I'm sure it was refining in many ways. Maybe we will continue the journey in the future. Maybe there is a child/children He will allow us to parent and love through adoption at some point. But for now, His plans are different.

Two days after we made our decision and contacted our agencies, my mom talked me into taking a pregnancy test. She said she just really thought there was something going on beyond my sadness and disappointment over the adoption. I thought she just didn't realize how deep my disappointment went. Also, we had not been able to get pregnant without clomid before or since the babes, and so why would I be pregnant now?!?! To appease her, I took one and it was immediately positive! So were the next two that I took! We were seriously in shock (well, my mom was not surprised at all:).

The timing. It was an absolute gift from the Lord. Not that I consider having "my own" baby any better or more true than if our adoption would have gone through. I just mean it is a gift that we found out about the baby after we had already made the decision to postpone our adoption. That the babe wasn't at all the reason we chose to stop the process. That may not makes sense, I don't know, but it does to me!

So we move forward, thrilled and thankful and so very surprised about this new life (only seven and a half weeks along). We still very much support adoptive families (hello, our neighbors have the most precious newborn baby Charlotte that I am totally in love with!), and would love to share any lessons we have learned. The most important being to be on the same page as much as possible with your spouse before you begin. Have the difficult, honest, raw conversations along the way as need be. Have lots of grace with each other. Research adoption. Read adult adoptee testimonies. Read about attachment. Read the hard stuff and read the beautiful stuff--there is lots of both. Talk to adoptive families. Find out their challenges and their incredible triumphs. And, finally, I guess we learned that it's okay to let go.

Whew, that feels better. Now you are up to date friends.
Love to you, Jen