Monday, September 19, 2011

6 months!

has it really been 6 months since we were doing this:

stepping off that last flight on march 19th, ryan and i really had no idea what joy this sweet little boy would bring into our lives and the lives of so many!!

happy 6 months HOME, greer. we love you more today than yesterday! you are a gift, a delight and a treasure in our home and our hearts forever!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

a God appointment

i know i haven't mentioned our former foster boys, R & P, much lately but that doesn't mean that i'm not still thinking about them.

in actuality, i think about them a lot. it's funny how a song on the radio {the country song about the dog named ole red} can remind me of R or a particular shirt {the light blue and white striped one that reads "happy camper"} now hanging in greer's closet can remind me of P. sometimes i find myself laying in bed at night thinking of how we would rearrange our bedrooms to accommodate 4 kids or what kind of vehicle we would need for 3 car seats and a teenager.

it's almost been a year since they went back with their mother, but they are still with us in the little things pretty much daily.

i just took the last picture of them in the house down a few weeks ago. i didn't really want to, but ryan asked me to take them down, so i obliged. i understand his feelings...sometimes it's just easier not to have such an in your face reminder of what our family once was.

when we're praying together, R & P, are a very common topic of our petitions. ryan and i have both moved past the whole bargaining with God to bring them back to us phase, and now we typically just pray for their safety, salvation, and general well-being.

i struggled a lot when school began a few weeks ago. i wondered where R would be going to school this year, if he'd have uniforms that actually fit him, if someone was there encouraging him to wake up on time so he wouldn't miss the bus, and if anyone would be there to ask him what he learned that day.

we haven't heard from the boys since february, when everything happened that caused us to decide to stop fostering. this was partially our decision and partially not. at that time, our SW advised us for our safety to step back from the situation and cut communication ties with the kids {mainly just to avoid their families}. since i was pregnant and already riding the emotional roller coaster of waiting for greer's homecoming, we agreed that this was probably necessary too for the time being. since then, we've tried to reach out to R on occasion but solely through email and f@cebook, rather than calling his mother directly. we never heard anything back from either of those channels so we unsuccessfully just tried to let it go.

last friday night as i was rocking charlotte before bed {in the same glider where i rocked little P for almost a year}, i got the urge to pray for the boys, as i often times do. however, on that night in particular, i remember being moved to tears when praying for them. as i held my sweet little charlotte, i thought about how much i loved her and how it was the same type of love that i felt for R & P. i asked God that night to please let us know somehow that the boys were safe and doing alright. my heart was so heavy for them and i was worried for them but wasn't sure why.

i shared about my request with ryan and a few days later brought it up in conversation with my mother-in-law as well. i've had a lot of times when i felt urgency to pray for the boys but i don't recall ever pleading with the Lord to show us that they are alright. in fact, even as i prayed for it, i'm pretty sure i doubted that we'd actually hear concretely how they were doing. i figured the sense of peace i received after praying for the boys was God's way of showing us that He's still in control and is taking care of the boys.

little did i know, God had bigger plans.

as i left my work on monday night, i was a little miffed because my mother was bringing the kids to my office and was running late. i had a hair appointment at 6:00 p.m. and it was already 5:15 p.m. and my mom wasn't there yet. as i rushed out of the office and was locking up the door, i saw my mom pull in the parking lot. i was so busy looking at my mom pulling in that i almost didn't hear my name shouted out from the road behind me.

when i turned to see who was shouting for me, i realized that there was R standing on the sidewalk across the road. before i even had time to process seeing him, he took off across the street, full of traffic, and came over to where i was standing. i gave him a big hug and he received it just as awkwardly as ever, but he was smiley and looked genuinely happy to see me.

we got to talk for about 10 minutes before he had to head back to his friend who was still waiting for him on the sidewalk. while we chatted he told me that he is still going to the same school, just a mile or so down the road from my office, but that he's having to take public transportation to get there. i was glad to hear that he's at the same school and that he's willing to take the public bus to get there, although i wish he didn't have to ride the bus alone every day! he also told me that he's not sure if he'll get to play basketball this year because he's got high blood pressure, but i was just happy to hear that he had a physical and told him to keep me updated on what they find out with his blood pressure. i, of course, asked about little P and he told me that he was getting big and was pretty much all over the place. i asked him about doing all his homework and keeping his grades up, and he didn't seem too put off by my nagging for him to keep up with his schoolwork. i guess after 11+ months with us, he's used to my nagging about school!!

i was so thankful that my mom and nieces were there too because they also got to hug his neck, and told him how much we missed him. i introduced him to greer and charlotte too, and the introduction was a little surreal for me. R was with us during the first several months of the adoption process, and i couldn't help but to think back to our home study when he told the SW that if he was still around when we finished our adoption, that his role would just be being the kiddos' brother. it was also during the time when R was in the hospital for his foot surgery last september that i found out i was pregnant with charlotte. as i stood there with greer hanging by my feet, charlotte in her car seat, and R by my side, i felt like 2 of my worlds had finally collided.

before R had to go, i made him put my number in his phone and told him to call us sometime. i told him how much we missed him and loved him, and then he darted back across the street.

it was such a crazy few minutes but i immediately knew that it was the answer to my prayer. i had asked and God had coordinated the timing perfectly so that we'd run into each other. outside of God's providence, there is not really an explanation for us running into each other:
...on a typical work day, i would have already left the office 15 minutes prior. i also usually pick the kids up at my mom's house, not her coming to my office, so she would not have normally been there to see him. R was going to his friends house or would not have even walked past my office. the list goes on...

if i had planned a time to see him, i would have been a nervous wreck and would have over-thought the whole thing. instead, God knew that a random meeting like that was exactly what i needed. i got to finally see R in the flesh to see that he looks alright and hear that he is doing well. he didn't appear overtly dirty or sickly, and that made me very relieved. he was happy to see me and he also seemed excited about running into each other. in a few short minutes, many of the questions i've been pondering recently about the boys were answered.

what a gift that "chance" encounter was. i know many times through our experience with the boys i doubted whether or not God was listening to our prayers regarding them, and i feel like this is one last way that God has shown me that He was and is.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Both Hands...1 year ago

a year ago today, we completed our both hands project on the home of mrs. lucille. i cannot put in words how much this project meant to our family! we were able to serve a sweet woman and her family, and also saw our friends and family come together to help us bring greer home from ethiopia.

through our both hands project, we raised over $16,000 {including our $4000 matching grant from lifesong for orphans} through this project for our adoption. i know God helps fund adoptions in tons of different and creative ways, and i would have never guessed that this fundraiser would have been it for us, but what a gift!

in honor of this anniversary, i had to rewatch our video today and just cried at God's provision.

thanks to all of you who gave, served, prayed, and loved us through our fundraising process. it was certainly one of the more challenging parts of our adoption {besides waiting to bring greer home}, but God definitely used it to refine us and to show us that He will fund what He favors!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

charlotte reese: 3 months old

well, little miss charlotte reese, on august 21st, you turned 3 months old!

where has the time gone and when did you get so big? i cannot tell you how many times a week i tell your daddy that i want to keep you little forever. he just keeps telling me how we're going to blink and he's going to be walking you down the aisle. i'm beginning to think he just likes to make me cry because every time he says something like that, i bawl like a little baby {no offense}.

although i wish you would stay little forever, i have to admit that i love seeing more and more of your personality every day. you are super smiley and are such a laid back little girl. {that is, unless you're in your car seat and we're headed somewhere. unlike your brother, you don't really seem to like to be on the go too much. although, you don't seem to mind when we get somewhere and you can be held. i guess you just don't like car rides!}

you have taken a liking to blowing bubbles and drooling a lot lately. so much so that i keep wondering if you're already getting some teeth. i haven't felt or seen any yet, but your momma's definitely on the look out.

i love how cuddly and sweet you are, especially at night. truth be told, i'm really going to miss our late night hang out sessions when you drop your twilight feedings. i am trying to soak in every last opportunity to hold you close, and look forward to getting a chance to pray over you while you sleep in my arms. i also love going into your room in the mornings and seeing you break out into the sweetest little smiles once you see me.

you are sleeping pretty good right now, usually from about 8:00 p.m. until 7:30 a.m., with a twilight feeding around 10:30 p.m. the only disruption to this schedule is when you decide to flip from your belly to your back in the middle of the night and wake up screaming because you can't flip back over. who knew that you learning to roll over at 2 months and 1 day old, would bring so much late night excitement to our house? i think your daddy can now walk into your room, turn you back over, and get back in bed without even waking up!!

right now you are pretty fascinated by your paci but your hands aren't too far behind. you love to "talk" and i can't get enough of all the little stories you tell me. you are also fascinated with your big brother, but not as much as he's fascinated with you! when he wakes up in the morning, you are usually the first person he asks about. he loves offering you his toys and books, at least for now, and you love watching him running around and make lots of noise. the highlight of his day is if we let him get into your crib and "hold you".

exhibit a}

you are a good eater and have grown so much! at your 2 month check up, you were 11 lbs, 7 ounces and in the 97th percentile for height. i'm not exactly sure where you got that height, but at this rate, you'll be taller than me by your twelfth birthday. just 2 weeks ago, we began moving you out of your 0-3 month clothes and into 3-6 month clothes. i'll admit it, i cried when i realized it was time to move you on up!

you still have a ton of light brown hair and i take advantage of it by adorning you with cute bows every chance i get. your daddy isn't too fond of the bows though. he seems to always be keeping tabs on how big they are, and he's constantly telling me if your bows exceed his "bow to head ratio". although i just tell him that there's no such thing in the baby fashion world :) the higher the bow, the closer to heaven, right?

since you are growing like a weed, we've been documenting you every month. i enjoy these little photo sessions and know that these pictures will be ones i cherish for years to come.

here you are my little charley bean...months 1 through 3:

little sis, we love you more than we ever imagined. what a precious gift you are to me, your daddy, and your beloved bubba!!!

"every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." -james 1:17

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

a few of my favorite mommy things: nursing edition

since having charlotte, i've been exploring a whole new market of products...double strollers, nursing supplies, tiny baby clothes, etc.

i've found some things that i love and other things that i don't care for as much, so i thought that i'd share some of my feedback in case any soon-to-be mommies are looking at any of these things.

if you're a nursing momma {or a soon-to-be nursing momma}, you know that it's one of the most time consuming parts of your day, so i guess that's why nursing products were on the top of my mind! here are some of my favorites~

ok, so i know this pillow has an absolutely ridiculous name, but i totally believe it now. this pillow has really become a friend...a very dear one at that due to our endless hours spent together each day :) i use this pillow every-single-time-humanly-possible when nursing charlotte. in fact, when i don't have it, both charlotte and i are uncomfortable and she struggles to get a good feeding. i think we've both been a little spoiled by all this deluxe nursing goodness!!

if you're new to the whole nursing game like i was a few months ago, i highly doubt you will regret investing $50 in this baby. i know a lot of people use a b0ppy pillow for nursing, but this pillow is WAY better {in my opinion}! we have both and i can't stand using the b0ppy now that i have this one. it's more rigid than the b0ppy so it doesn't slump or slide down when you put the weight of your baby on it. it was seriously a miracle worker for me for charlotte's first 6 weeks since i had major carpel tunnel leading up to delivery and for several weeks after. i had a very hard time supporting charlotte's head and body without my hands and arms falling asleep at first, and was so thankful that this pillow could do a lot the work for me.

prior to having charlotte, i freaked out about all the new attire that nursing would require after an intense discussion on various styles of nursing bras, tank tops, and shirts in one of my nursing classes. after many months of wearing maternity clothes, the thought of then having to go into another new wardrobe specifically for nursing kinda scared me. since i like to be prepared and to have a plan, i rushed out to one of our local nursing stores and stocked up on several different styles of nursing bras and nursing tanks so i would be prepared. in fact, i made my husband's jaw drop when he saw how much money i HAD to spend to get the perfect nursing tank top {$50 later...} and name brand nursing bras, as recommended by said nursing store.

unfortunately, after charlotte was born and i finally began nursing, i soon began to see that all the money i spent on the name brand nursing bras and tanks wasn't really worth it :( i found most of the bras and the tank tops to be uncomfortable, and ended up checking out good ole t@rget for some other options. and i'm so happy that i did!

for $16.00 each, i purchased these gilligan o'malley nursing tank tops and am in love! i think i now own 8 of them and seriously wear one EVERY DAY. for the price i paid for one fancy nursing tank, i was able to buy 3 very similar and very comfy nursing tanks from t@rget. i know that every one is different and by no means am i trying to knock you if you love the other brands, but just consider this fair warning if you're about to have a baby and are worried about having all the "right stuff". just because it's more expensive, doesn't mean you'll like it better! don't do like me and spend tons of money on various bras and tanks until you've actually had a chance to try them out :)

{so i feel like this is a little TMI, but i'll share any way... this is my favorite nursing bra. it's nothing fancy but it's comfortable and gets the job done. i also spent $$$ on a couple medela and bravado bras and don't ever wear them!}

i know milk storage bags aren't really an exciting topic of conversation, but i just wanted to point out that these lansinoh bags are typically much cheaper for 50 bags than other brands. usually by about $7 or so! i use them all the time and have found the quality to be just fine, so if you're registering or purchasing storage bags you should give these a whirl.

i don't have any experience with other pumps at this point, but i do love this one. i use it mostly on days when i'm working from the office or on occasion when ryan and i are planning a date night and need to have milk for our sitter. i love this kit because it comes with everything you need. it even has a car adapter in case you are traveling and need to pump in the car.

i know these babies are very pricey and i debated a lot about getting a single pump instead of this double, but i'm glad i opted to go ahead with the double. especially if you're working outside the home, the option to pump in double the amount of time is huge. my work has one small restroom for everyone to share, so it's nice to have a double pump so i'm not tying up the restroom for a half an hour on end.

i think i've mentioned before how much i loved using these bottles with greer when we were traveling, but i'll plug them again since we've also loved using them with charlotte. these bottles look a little old school, but they are seriously great! when we had our foster son, P, we used a fancier bottle and several of them cracked easily from being dropped or even sometimes from washing.

these bottles are obviously easy to clean since you just throw out the liners once you've used them, which is a major bonus when you're sleep deprived and not in the mood to wash bottles! i also love them because you can purchase an adapter for the medela pumps which allows you to pump directly into these bottles if you're not planning on storing the milk. if we're running to the park or the zoo, and i need to prepare a bottle for charley before we go, i use the adapters and have her bottle ready to go without dirtying any extra bottles or wasting a storage bag.

pl@ytex also makes a variety of nipples for these bottles, including a "natural latch" for breastfeeding mothers. i have a lot of friends who've had trouble getting their nursing babies to take a bottle but charlotte never had a problem using these.

alright folks, that's my two cents on nursing products that i love. if you have a suggestion for me, spill it! i'm always open to trying new products, especially if they'll make life easier :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

crock pot love

i mentioned a few weeks ago about my new found love for my crock pot. well, the obsession continues...

i have been cooking about 5 nights out of the week for the last month, which is MAJOR for me! i've never been one to hang out that much in the kitchen. in fact, i quite like when other people do the cooking {and the cleaning} for meals, but i've turned over a new leaf!

my new love of our crock pot could not have come at a better time for us financially and time wise! i am only working part time now, so our income has been cut a decent amount as of late. going from 2 full-time incomes down to 1 full-time income with a small part-time income, plus adding 2 children has been a little challenging so cooking is a new way to help out our budget. thankfully, i'm really enjoying it!

i love finding new recipes to try and to impress ryan with! and boy am i glad that usually a fully belly is all it really takes to impress him :)

with that said, i wanted to share a couple great links with some crock pot resources in case you need to mix up your menu planning. here are a few resources i've found uber helpful:

*the crock pot girls:
we are having the super easy game time chicken tacos for dinner tonight. yummy!

*a year of slow cooking:
this blog is great and she has recipes for everything imaginable in a crock pot, plus her commentary on making things. i personally cannot wait to make the 5 layer brownies sans the coconut.

*the crock pot blog:
this is another fabulous resource of tons of crock pot recipes in case you want to try something different. i've seen lots of recipes for italian/pasta recipes in the crock pot but have yet to try them so i think that will be on my agenda for the week.

if your crock pot is collecting dust in a cabinet somewhere like mine was for the last 5 years, i'd suggest you breaking it out and trying some of these great recipes. let me know if you find any that you love!!

happy crock potting :)