Monday, November 29, 2010

ramblings in bullet form has it really been a week since i've typed anything in this blog? i guess so. sorry for the silence but i feel like my brain and my body are each being pulled into 100 different directions. we had an absolutely wonderful thanksgiving weekend, but i'm in the post holiday daze today for sure. i honestly hit my snooze button so many times this morning that i thought i was going to cause my alarm clock to malfunction. overall, our little family participated in 5 thanksgiving dinners. yep, my stomach definitely is showing evidence of all that food!!

so, since i have lots to say but i don't have the wherewithal to actually type a cohesive update, i thought i'd just post some ramblings in bullet form. bear with me!

  • we are only 2.5 weeks away from our departure for ethiopia!!! i can't believe it's sneaking up on us so quickly but i'm pretty sure i'd board a plane today, no luggage or anything, if i could.
  • i'm currently in my 15th week of pregnancy and am very hungry. ha! i had several people tell me over the weekend that i'm starting to show. i have mixed feelings on that. on one hand, i love seeing my body change because i know our little peanut is growing and doing her {or his} thing, but on the other, i'm thinking about how massive i'll probably be by the time we can go back to ethiopia to get greer. thinking about sitting on a plane for 17+ hours straight twice in one week while feeling/looking like a beluga whale doesn't sound super fun but i know it's worth it!
  • i have maxed out my free subscription to pandora radio already for the month. this makes me really sad because i was really loving listening to christmas music pretty much 24/7, and i don't have anything good on my iphone. i guess i'll have to stick it out the next day or so with no festive music. boo.
  • ryan and i have made the difficult decision not to put up our christmas tree this year :( i know that it may sound bad, but we really don't want the headache of taking it down after we get back from ethiopia. plus, with us being gone a whole week leading up to christmas, our time is precious so we decided just to decorate the rest of the house but not worry about the tree. i feel like this is majorly anti-christmas but then i just remind myself that the real meaning of christmas has nothing to do with a christmas tree!
  • i have been begging my husband for the last several weeks to paint greer's room, but it's still not done. this is not necessarily my husband's fault but really just a testimony to how insanely busy we've been. i cannot wait though to begin decorating and pulling together our little man's room! we've already purchase his crib, bedding and have some wonderful window treatments on order courtesy of my mother-in-law. i haven't done anything crafty in WAY TOO LONG so i've got a few things up my sleeve for our little man that i'm excited to share when i'm done with them.
  • i am almost done with my christmas shopping! i know, you can be jealous :) this never happens to me but i've done so much of it online this year that it really saved me a lot of time. plus the pressure is really on to get everything purchased soon because of our trip so that i can wrap everything before we leave. i doubt that i will want to wrap when we get back to kentucky at 6:30 p.m. on christmas eve!
  • last night my sister and i played matchmaker, and i think it went pretty well! we set up one of ryan's sweet cousins with one of my sister's co-workers. my sister, her husband, ryan, and i all went along on the date so it wouldn't be super awkward but between our two crazy husbands, they might have made it worse! oh well, it seems that both parties liked the other so we'll see what happens from here on out...
  • we will be finding out the gender of our little girl {or guy} on december 10th, and the anxiety is killing me! i can't wait to finally know if i should begin whipping out some more hair bows or if i need to let that dream go for a little while. ryan and i are still trying to decide on a creative way to tell our families so your input is appreciated!!
  • we are still in the middle of collecting items to take with us to ethiopia for the after school program/transition home for our agency, arise for children. if you are interested in helping out, please let me know. we've received a lot of school supplies and a brand, spanking new printer/scanner combo so far, so we're pretty excited about that. i can't wait to fill our bags with all the goodies for the kids over there!
ok, enough random ramblings for now. i have every intention of writing a post about thanksgiving and everything i'm thankful for this year but i'm not sure if those intentions will pan out or not. i hope so!

enjoy your second to last day of november :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

christmas cards time!

every year i look forward to selecting and mailing out our annual sweeney family christmas cards. this year is no different! i have already picked out my cards of choice and have begged my sweet husband several times to get a hair cut so we can take a picture for our 2010 card.

this year i'm particularly excited about our christmas cards because the wonderful folks at are offering free cards to bloggers. i mean, come on, what's better than that?

i've used shutterfly for 3 out of my last 4 christmas cards, and they are by far my favorite source of wonderful cards. their selection and layouts are much better {and cheaper} than many of the other card sites so you can't beat that!

as a recap, here are some of our previous shutterfly cards:




do you notice a changing trend with our cards? until last year, we always featured a photo of our beloved dogs every year on our cards, but last year, they did not make the cut. ha! i guess kids trump dogs :) i still haven't decided if they should make an appearance on our 2010 cards or not. i guess i'll see how photogenic they are feeling this year.

hopefully, our 2010 cards will be hot off the press some time soon...depending on whether or not my husband gets a haircut sometime soon! we're rapidly losing time before leaving for ethiopia to get them done so i need to get my order in soon. yikes!

so, in case you've never visited shutterfly are some of the cute items on shutterfly's website that i've been checking out lately:

photo calendars for 2011:

want to join in on the fun? blog about shutterfly's wonderful services and follow this link for your 50 free cards!! yay!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

happy national adoption day!

Friday, November 19, 2010

missing R & P

i know it's been awhile since i've mentioned anything about R & P. this is mostly just because the boys are still a pretty hard topic for me to talk about. although they have been officially back with their mom for 6 weeks now, the loss is still fresh and i have found it increasingly hard to put myself out there about this and to be vulnerable. perhaps it is my sinful desire to appear like ryan and i have it altogether. or, perhaps it is just easier to avoid the topic so i don't turn into an emotional train wreck. either way, i figure it is time to break the silence...for no one really except myself.

looking back, i am beginning to think that the first few weeks after saying goodbye to them were almost the easiest for two reasons. number 1, the idea of it just being me and ryan again in the house was pretty novel. we no longer had to rush around from here and there picking up kids after work, and no longer had to arrange babysitters when we had plans by ourselves. number 2, we were both very hopeful about the type of relationship we'd get to maintain with the boys in the future. we thought for sure that we'd still see them every few weeks and even had hopes of picking R up on sunday mornings for church.

now, 6 weeks removed, it almost seems like we're fighting an uphill battle. the reality of the boys being gone and the reality of being able to maintain almost no sort of relationship with them has finally hit us. it's not quite as novel to come home to a quiet, empty house any more. it's also very painful to realize that we'll never have the chance again to be involved in their lives as we once were. it is hard every day...hard to walk by their rooms, hard to hear certain songs on the radio that R loved, hard to see all the toys tucked into the playroom instead of strung about the house. this is our new reality.

now, i cannot tell you how many people have told us over the last 16 months that there is no way they could be foster parents. most people say that they have no idea how they could love children and have them in their homes only to have to let go. truthfully, ryan and i cannot do this either {see exhibit A above}. i can't tell you how long i told God the same thing. i told Him that i didn't want to foster because it was too hard. i just wanted to love a baby that i knew was going to be mine forever because i'm too emotional to handle such a loss. i told Him that i would gladly adopt, but i didn't want to have to go through the rollercoaster of foster care. well, He didn't listen. He kept speaking truth to my heart through friends, through His word and through my times of seeking Him in prayer. He didn't give up on me or on His plan. thankfully, even through this recent heartache of saying goodbye to R & P, He's still yet to give up on me. it's true - ryan and i cannot love children and just let them go...not on our own at least.

this has been one of the hardest times of my life, despite all the joy and blessings that have been outpoured on our family recently. BUT, God is seeing us through. even as i write this, i cannot keep back the tears. these days, it only takes the slightest mention of the boys' names and the floodgates are open! however, despite the pain, i know that God is weaving and crafting a beautiful plan out of all of this. i know that He brought those boys into our lives at the perfect time for a reason. i also know that He allowed them to go back to their mother at the perfect time, also for a reason. while we still are too shortsighted to know what those reasons may be, we are trusting Him, even though it's hard, and He is giving us the strength we need to make it through the hardest of days. to Him be the glory!

"to grant to those who mourn in zion-- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified." -Isaiah 61:3

Thursday, November 18, 2010

packing lists

ok, i've been trying to hold off on thinking about our trip for as long as possible but now that we're less than a month away, i can no longer stand it!! plus, with thanksgiving next week and a very busy schedule leading up to christmas, the planner in me is ready to get the ball rolling on some things.

so, if you have been to ethiopia recently {or even not necessarily recently}, would you please send me your packing list from your trip? keep in mind, this is just our first trip so we won't get to bring our little man home but i would still love to see any suggestions you have!

i've started my list but i know there are many things i'm missing!! please email me your lists at mrsleslisweeney {at} yahoo {dot} com. thanks a million!

ps- as i'm thinking about getting packed for the trip, don't forget that we're going to be taking donations for eyes that see in ethiopia when we go. if you'd like to help stock up this awesome organization, please email me about that also. here's my previous post about the things we're collecting. merci beacoup!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

happy 1st birthday little man!

i'm sorry that i'm just now getting a chance to blog about this, but our little man's 1st birthday was on sunday. what a bittersweet day!! it was so exciting to think about how this time last year we didn't even know he existed and now God has given us the privilege of falling in love with him from afar. however, it was also sad to think that we could not be together to celebrate such a sweet occasion together.

on sunday little greer was pretty much all i could think about. {well, that's somewhat true of any day though!} i wanted so badly just to hop a flight to ethiopia and be there to usher his wonderful day in with a big cupcake, lots of brightly packaged gifts, and the singing of our special family birthday song. obviously this was not possible and would probably have freaked him out any way, but it was a nice thought :)

i did have plans to make a fuss over greer's birthday and have a little celebration in lieu of his presence, but things just didn't work out. ryan ended up being out of town for a very fun reunion with some really great guy friends from college, so i was pretty much solo most of sunday. plus, i have just been feeling tired a lot lately so i took it upon myself to veg out most of sunday evening. we did however have a little celebration at lunch on sunday though because my little brother stuart also had a birthday this weekend. stu turned 19 on saturday and we got to celebrate his special day as a family on sunday afternoon. during our celebration, my mom and dad gave me a few gifts to open up in honor of little greer's big day. it made me feel closer to our little guy and definitely reminded me that it won't be long {Lord willing}, until he's home with us forever!

so, even though it's overdue...HAPPY BIRTHDAY little boy!!! we're coming to meet you in less than a month! WOOHOO!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

donations for ethiopia

ryan and i will have 100 lbs of excess luggage space with us on this first trip to ethiopia, and we want to use it wisely. we have decided to carry over some items for our agency's partner non-profit organization, eyes that see, and we want to invite you to join us!!

eyes that see is a christian, non-profit organization that recently launched in ethiopia and is dedicated to fighting poverty and injustice while coming alongside the children and families that remain in ethiopia. i love that! while we all know the importance of adoption, it is definitely not the only answer to the global orphan crisis and poverty as a whole. as much as i wish it was not the case, not every orphan in ethiopia is going to be adopted. children will be left behind, and many have very little resources to pull from or hope for their future. eyes that see is changing that for a few ethiopian children right now, and we want to help with that.

specifically, eyes that see has recently launched an after school program for ten children, almost all who are at least single orphaned {meaning that at least 1 parent has died}, ranging in age from 12 to 18. these kids could not afford school, uniforms, food and many of the very basics. through eyes that see's program, these kids are now receiving school tuition, uniforms, books, after school tutoring, meals, and clean water to take to their homes. they are also getting spiritual nourishment, encouragement and love that unfortunately many orphan children their age do not receive. in the words of matt ness, one of eyes that see's founders, he said that these particular children were chosen because, "they are usually the last to get help, and the first to give up hope".

if you'd like to be a part of the hope for these children, here's what we are collecting to take over to them:

*school supplies:
-loose leaf paper
-glue/glue sticks
-pencil sharpeners

*art/craft supplies:
-paint/paint brushes
-colored pencils
-coloring books
-drawing pads
-scissors {keep in mind that these kids are 12+ so we probably don't need the kiddie type}

*office supplies:
-1 printer/scanner combo {if you have one you're not using that's in working condition, or if
you see one on sale somewhere, please let me know! this is a high priority item since they
are having a lot of trouble with their current one}
-reams of printer paper
-paper clips

*Bibles {used or new, english is fine}

*kitchen supplies {keep in mind that we're having to travel with these so the sturdy plastic kind would probably be best}:

-granola bars
-hard candy
-other things that won't melt or get crunched in transit!

-soccer balls {preferably deflated with small pump}
-jump ropes
-any small trinkets that kids might like

we would like to receive all donations by sunday, december 12th so that we have plenty of time to pack and shift around things that we are taking. if you live near me in the bluegrass state, i would be happy to pick up these items from you. however, if not, please email me at mrsleslisweeney{at} and i can give you my address for you to ship items. also, if you would prefer to send a gift card or to donate through my paypal/chip-in link, i will be happy to shop for you. just make sure if you make a donation through paypal/chip-in that you put in the notes "eyes that see" so i know it's not for our adoption account :)

we would love nothing more than to get so much stuff that we cannot possibly carry it over all on this first trip. rest assured that if that happens, there are plenty of other arise families traveling in the next few months and we'll have our second trip too!

thanks in advance for helping us out with this fun project, and for more importantly bringing some hope and encouragement to these kids in ethiopia!!!!

an update on Greer

a week or so ago, i was reading another waiting mom's blog that i've been reading for a little while now. i knew from following her story that she was going to ethiopia for court but i was absolutely floored when i read one of her trip updates to see that she was at our little guy's orphanage visiting her son!! with her son only being a few months older than our little greer, i anxiously sent her an email to find out if she could have possibly had any contact with him while she was visiting her son.

to my delight, i received this response from her last night:

"Oh, I certainly know that face!!! I cuddled with him for a moment, when he stopped moving for two seconds... He is a mover and shaker. He did not want to sit still for a moment and was crawling around the room the entire time. Big smiles as the staff tried to catch him to return him to the mattress. He looks healthy and well. Rest assured he is in good hands."

it looks like we're going to have our hands full, huh?

i mean talk about something making my day!! i don't really know how to explain waiting to meet a child you love with all your heart but don't even know, but the feelings are definitely very real. little things like the email above mean so much. just to know even the tiniest bit more about our little guy helps ease the anxiety of the wait. plus, just hearing her words about him being happy, smiley and busy, just makes my heart warm!

thanks, laura for the note :) you made my day week!

adoption & pregnancy updates

i haven't been much of a blogger lately but i'm beginning to feel the itch again so i thought that i'd just share some random updates on both our adoption and our pregnancy today. nothing super exciting but at least it's an update, right??

first things first - our adoption:
*we are currently just anxiously waiting to make our first trip to ethiopia on december 16th. our official countdown is 36 days until we board the plane! i CANNOT wait!! ...well, except for the whole part about being pregnant, uncomfortable, hungry, and unable to stretch my legs on an 18 hour plane ride. i can definitely wait on those things, but i'm sure they will be completely overshadowed by finally making it to our son's home country and getting to meet him :)

*today is the first time in about 2-3 weeks that i actually figured out how many days until our departure. my latest strategy for the wait has been just to think about how far away the trip is and push away my overwhelming urge to be planned, packed and ready to go. now any time i am in a store and see christmas decorations or hear christmas music, i laugh to myself and think about how silly it is that the stores are already thinking about christmas! i convince myself that there are still many weeks until christmas and not to get too excited. {kinda crazy, huh? don't judge me. it's sorta working}

*however, my above mentioned strategy was made difficult yesterday when our agency sent us our travel packet with all the info we needed to know for our travel. while it sent me into a relapse of wanting to leave yesterday, i'm seriously thankful for the information! i read the entire 18 page packet as soon as we got it just to be sure that we hadn't forgotten something important. it was very helpful and i'm thankful for our agency's great care of us throughout this journey.

*speaking of our agency, arise for children, this past weekend marked their 2 year anniversary! in the past 2 years, our small agency has been obedient to the Lord and helped bring 69 children into loving, godly families!! way to go! we got to celebrate this wonderful occasion with a reunion party for all the families who've previously adopted through arise, are in process, or are considering adoption. i missed a good portion of the beginning of the party, but i was lucky enough to still see many of the children who are now home. as i saw the kiddos playing and running around together, God just struck me again with the reminder that adoption is truly a miracle. just to see the faces of all those children whose circumstances used to be so different, now united with loving families who are able to provide for them was heart warming to say the least!

our pregnancy:
*it's hard to believe but i am currently already 12.5 weeks pregnant. it seems like just yesterday that we found out! this means that i will be almost 18 weeks when we leave for ethiopia the first time, and hopefully no later than 28 weeks when we go back. my doctor has said that i can travel back to ethiopia up until march 15, so we'll definitely be praying to receive our embassy appointment not long after we pass court in december so that me and baby #2 don't miss out on our second trip! sooner rather than later would be great.

*i wish i could say that i have overly enjoyed being pregnant so far, but that would be untrue. i keep telling myself that when i start feeling better, i will enjoy it more and i hope that's the case. it's not been too awful lately thanks to the wonder drug, zofran, but the first few weeks were really rough. more so than i expected because i hardly remembered my sister being sick with either of her pregnancies...except for once after smelling popcorn at the movie theater but i'll spare you the details :) the highlight of my pregnancy so far was definitely our first ultrasound last week. seeing our little girl or guy put things in perspective for sure, so now when i'm feeling sick i try to remember that it's for a great reason!

*there has been much debate, even long before we were pregnant, about whether or not ryan and i would find out the gender of our first biological child. ryan really didn't want to and i really did, so we both tried to stew on it for awhile before making any decisions. however, i think last week we finally reached a compromise and have decided that we will find out! i think ryan finally changed his mind after some convincing arguments from me about the expense of re-buying everything if it's a little girl. i mean, come on, i could not deal with dressing my little bundle of girlieness in green, yellow and orange for the first year of her life. plus, dresses, hair bows, and all things pink would not be cheap, so my sweet husband decided to concede on this one. my doctor wants to do another ultrasound on me before we leave for ethiopia so there is a good chance that on december 10, our wait will be over!

well that's about all i can think of for now. ryan keeps telling people that we've got "lots of irons in the fire right now" and that truly sums up how i'm feeling. there's a lot going on, but mostly a lot of great things that we are truly grateful for!! we are excited that now we can not only praise the Lord for the life of our sweet greer nathanel, but also for baby #2. blessings all around!

Monday, November 8, 2010

a bun in the oven

i just want to say thanks for all your sweet comments and encouragement over greer's soon to be baby brother or sister!! this has been such an exciting time for ryan and i, and we are so grateful to have friends and family who support not only our adoption but now our second addition.

since i've been keeping this secret for some time now, i figure i can finally publicly gush about baby #2, so here goes nothing!

i found out that i was pregnant on thursday, september 23rd. i was totally not expecting it {or planning on it for that matter} but after the initial shock wore off, we were thrilled! all that week prior to finding out, i had been feeling like i was coming down with the flu. however, that was also the week we spent hanging out in the hospital with R because of his foot surgery, so i just figured i picked something up in the waiting room of the ER or elsewhere in the hospital. i was tired, cranky, achy, and also a little late. ryan had been sleeping at the hospital with R since tuesday so we hadn't had a lot of alone time together and i didn't even get a chance to mention to him that i thought i might take a pregnancy test.

thursday morning, i took the first test and could not believe it when i saw the two pink lines turn up! in disbelief, i got in the shower, started getting ready for my normal day, and then took another test expecting contradictory results. not the case! i took a third test, just to be sure and soon enough i was finally convinced. unfortunately, because of R being in the hospital, i did not get a chance to tell ryan until thursday night because i really wanted to tell him alone and in person. thankfully, R was released from the hospital that day and both boys headed off to their mom's house that night for their usual overnight visit.

after we dropped the boys off, we usually went to grab dinner out together but i had a plan for that night instead. i told ryan that i accidentally left my cell phone at home and wanted to run back to get it. while we were at home, i ran upstairs "to get my phone", and asked ryan to get something out of the oven that i forgot to take out for some friends at church that recently had a baby. when he opened the oven, i had placed a lone hamburger bun on a cookie sheet in the oven. from the stairs i watched him open the oven and then close it again kind of perplexed. he asked me if this was a joke, and i replied, "NO!". he looked really confused and opened the oven again. he began questioning why i would just be taking one hamburger bun to our friends. he thought i was just teasing him and was very confused.

we bantered back and forth for several minutes about the "bun in the oven". ryan kept saying, "i see there's a bun in the oven, but why? is this some kind of joke?". he was getting borderline frustrated and i'm pretty convinced that he thought i had lost all my marbles. apparently "a bun in the oven" is not a common phrase to my dear husband :) finally i said to him, "ryan, don't you understand? there's a bun in MY oven!", and he got it. at that moment he went completely pale and i thought he was going to pass out right there in the kitchen. he kept saying, "are you serious?", "are you serious?". after a few tears were shed, i gave him a small gift, complete with some neutral color newborn onesies, my pregnancy tests and a card.

in true ryan and lesli fashion, the secret was out and my husband finally knew the good news i had been hiding all day! it was a fun experience and definitely memorable :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

waiting with expectation

so as i've mentioned a hundred plus times before, ryan and i have pretty much concluded that the last couple of years in our lives could be characterized with the words "waiting" and "expecting"...

for over 3 months we were waiting to receive a foster care placement. we were expecting a call "any day now". after finally getting the call for R & P in october 2009, we then went into a new cycle of waiting and expecting. we moved on to waiting to find out what was expected to happen with their case...would they join our family forever or be returned to their mom's custody? after waiting for several more months, we then learned to expect the boys to be reunited with their mom, as they were last month. we were heartbroken but we knew the Lord was still in control.

in the meantime, we were also waiting to hear a clear answer from the Lord on when and how we should pursue adoption. after A LOT of praying, discerning, and seeking His will, we began our ethiopian adoption last march. from the get-go, the wait was on. we learned all about the expected time frames and pushed through all our paperwork as quickly as possible. we then got on the waiting list for a referral and began to focus on our fundraising. waiting on the Lord and expecting Him to act in a mighty way for His glory and to provide yet again for His children. we are so blessed to say that He exceeded our highest expectations!! not only did He call people into our lives that made it financially possible for us to adopt but He blessed us with a wonderful referral of our sweet nathanel boy.

from the moment we saw nathanel's face, we knew he was the one we'd lovingly been calling "greer" for months. he was the child God called us into this crazy waiting game of adoption for! seeing pictures of him has drawn us closer to him than we ever expected! i never knew i could already love a child so much that i've never even met. after finally seeing greer's face, we began waiting to hear when we were expected to be in ethiopia for our first court date. we were hoping and praying for an early court date so we could bring him home sooner than later, and were once again blessed to know that we'll be traveling around christmas to finally meet the little boy we've been waiting on!!!

so, now the wait and the expectation continues. we are waiting to meet our future son, hoping and praying that we'll pass court the first time, and expecting to receive an embassy appointment shortly after. however, we are also seemingly entering another cycle of waiting and expectation as well...

what is it, you ask?? what else could you be waiting for or expecting?

well, we are overjoyed to get to ethiopia so we can finally tell our sweet baby greer that he won't have to wait long to become a proud big brother because we're also expecting in a whole new way!!!!

introducing baby sweeney #2:

:) cheers to 2 more blessings from the Lord!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

just a glimpse

i can't tell you how badly i want to show off pictures of the little boy we are waiting so desperately for. but, since i can't...i thought i'd give you a little teaser :)

in six short weeks, ryan and i will be staring into these precious brown eyes in person!! i can't wait for that day! even more so, i can't wait until these adorable eyes are staring back at me across the dinner table during family dinners for years to come. oh the things i can't wait to tell him! this adoption has been an adventure for sure...but in the most wonderful of ways. the Lord is teaching us so much about Himself, about His gift of adoption for each of us, and ryan and i are definitely changed people.

oh little man, we can't wait to have you home!! we are praying for you, for your health, for your safety and for your little heart to already begin being tied to ours. we dream of having you home and nestled across the hall in the comfort of your own bed. we can't wait to watch you grow and change, and to see what the Lord has in store for you. what a gift you are! we love you already more than we could have imagined. we thank God for your first momma who gave you the gift of life despite other options. we pray that all will go smoothly so we can get you home as soon as possible!! we're coming soon, little guy. hold tight :)