Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February......What?!?! (Christmas 2014 and Adoption Update)

So....apparently its already mid-February and I haven't posted about Christmas yet. How did the time get away from me?  I will say that December was super busy and crazy at our house other than the Christmas parties, shopping, and family gatherings. We were able to spend time with all three sets of grandparents and we still managed to be home Christmas morning. (Success in my book!)

These two kids make me so happy! (Aren't they just adorable?)

Avery is a girly-girl like me and loves jewelry, so one of her favorite gifts this Christmas was a monogrammed necklace from her Mama

I have lost count of how many big trucks Hudson has and somehow our family members seem to find ones he doesn't even own yet

A tradition at our house is not only leaving Santa milk and cookies, but making sure the reindeer also receive a treat. Here are the kids sprinkling the yard with reindeer food left by our elf, Charlie.

Christmas morning was such a magical one this year. Both Avery and Hudson were so excited and very grateful for each gift. ( I hope they never outgrow the coordinating pj phase).

The Ninja Turtle action figure was all Brad and I must admit I was skeptical, but the look on this boy's face says it all!

Avery was so excited to receive an old iPhone to use for music and selfies!

Aside from all the glories of Christmas, we were also in the midst of completing our home study during the month of December. Initially, we were told the home study process could take from 3-6 months time. So after many months of gathering important documents, filling out extensive applications we sent in our home study dossier right before Thanksgiving. I expected us to wait awhile before we were given the thumbs up to begin the process; I mean it took me several months to complete all the paperwork, surely it would take the agency awhile to sort through it all.....right? Nope!

We received a call about a week later stating we had a social worker and to call her to schedule our first meeting. So I thought, okay no big deal. I believe I called her on a Friday afternoon and we had our first home study visit scheduled for the following week.  She would come to our house for a couple of hours to interview us as well as inspect our home. I was surprisingly calm and not overly OCD about the cleanliness and tidiness of our house; so instinctively Brad thought something was wrong with me.  We immediately loved our social worker as she was very relatable and sweet (not sure what I expected). Our first visit was easy and completed!

The very next week we met for our second meeting, which again was easy and smooth. Our third and final meeting would include Avery and Hudson, which made me nervous. We scheduled it the first week of Christmas break when everyone would be home. The kids were sweet and on their best behavior (God is good)! So other than a couple of minor things our home study was finished in 3 weeks!! WHAT?!?!  So naturally, I assumed that with the Christmas holiday in 3 days it would be awhile before we heard anything from the agency. We put it on the back burner and enjoyed Christmas with our families.

Unexpectedly, I received an email on December 31, 2014 stating that our home study was not only complete but approved! WHAT?!?! And this email was being sent from our international agency, not our local one. What a wonderful gift to end the year! We have been so blessed thus far on this journey, we know that God has been with us each step. So now we are completing more paperwork for our Chinese dossier, finishing parenting classes and awaiting USCIS approval. We have also begun to think about fundraising and how we are going to bring our daughter home.

So I guess that's why its February and I'm just now blogging about Christmas.....

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Avery Reese turns 6....WHAT!?!?

I still can't believe my baby girl (who I just brought home from the hospital the other day) is 6! She is my favorite 6 year old; she is loving, serious, playful, sassy, and kind. Her love for Christ is so awesome. Just the other day my parents asked her what her favorite present was; do you know what she said? Christ dying on the cross for her! Is she 6 or 26?

She really wanted a Frozen ice skating birthday party.....but she doesn't know how to ice skate; so we opted for a gymnastics party. She had so much fun celebrating with her friends. One thing about this little girl is she loves her friends!

What a fun group of girls!

Happy Birthday Avery Reese, we love you!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Our Thanksgiving tradition is to alternate whose family we spend Thanksgiving with. Both families are unique in their traditions and I love these experiences and the memories with my kids and Brad. So this year was our turn to visit my family in Rogers. It is always fun to see my parents, my sisters, and my nieces and nephew. (I also try to sneak in some girl time with my best friends).

For the past several years, I have participated in the NWA Turkey Trot 5k.....alone, since I am the only runner in the family. Well, I changed things this year! I recruited my husband, my youngest sister and her husband. We had a blast and burned some calories for that extra piece of pie.

2014 Turkey Trotters

Thanksgiving is my mom's favorite holiday! It is one of the reasons I love to visit her during this season. She enjoys cooking the (entire) meal and hosting family and friends. It is such a happy time to be back home.

My mom, my sister youngest sister Katie and her husband Nate

Both of my kids adore mashed potatoes (not sure where they get that)

Unlike our neighborhood, my parents live in an established area with big trees and my kids thought it was so much fun to play in the leaves. I just love this picture; it captures pure joy and their innocence. 

Our elf "Charlie" always shows up the weekend after Thanksgiving, so this year we had to smuggle him to my parents for a special arrival. Hudson just loves trains (wooden trains, electric trains, train books and especially the Polar Express movie). Branson puts on a production just like the Polar Express movie so we knew we just had to take the kids. So that morning Charlie brought the kids Christmas pjs and train tickets! They were ecstatic!

Meeting the conductor

Surprise visit from Santa. Hudson sat on Grandpa's lap almost the entire ride.

It was such a neat adventure!

What a wonderful weekend with family and friends (and train rides).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Big Announcement!!!

Brad and I have prayed and thought and discussed and prayed some more over the past 9 months. We have finally decided to share our news with everyone........

We are expanding our family! But not in the way you might think. In February 2014, I was encouraged by a good friend of mine, Delta Bost, to attend a Jen Hatmaker conference at our church. Let me just say that she is AMAZING! She began the conference with her story and when she showed her adoption video I lost it.  That very night I came home and told Brad we were adopting. (Shockingly, he thought I was crazy and not on board with my idea). I kept feeling a tug on my heart and just knew this was God's plan for our family. I gathered information, searched blogs and agencies, spoke with friends and tried to get Brad on board, but it just wasn't enough. So I gave it to God, I knew if this was our journey then God would be the only way to Brad's heart. I didn't bring up the word "adoption" for months, but IT was every where we turned. Every sermon seemed to mention adoption, tv shows plots were about adoption, songs on the radio and then Avery began praying for a sister that "didn't look like her".  Brad was convicted!

We had a little weekend getaway for our anniversary in May and Brad told me he was ready to adopt. We have begun the paperwork chase and now the waiting game. Through much thought and prayer, we have decided that international adoption is best for our family. We have decided to adopt a female toddler from China.

We ask for support and prayers for our growing family. We hope you are just as excited for our family as we are!  God is so good.  And by the way November is National Adoption Month.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hudson's 3rd Birthday Party

I really can't believe my sweet little baby boy is three! I am in complete denial, despite the fact that he is completely potty trained, sleeps in a big boy bed, feeds himself and really only needs me to cook his food and drive him around. But he is my he can't be three!

But he is, so what did I do? I threw him a dragon party because that is what he loves (and I love him).
I was not really excited about hosting a dragon party; I mean I don't know much about dragons and they aren't typically cute. But I did my research on Pinterest and found some fun ideas. Happy Birthday Hudson!!

Brad's dad painted this amazing larger than life dragon for Hudson (he loved it)

 I found these great foam shields along with some knight party hats and of course Toothless party blowers. 

 I cut out swords from foam board and had the kids decorate them with dragon stickers and crayons. They really enjoyed making these swords their own.

Two cuties making their swords

I found these adorable fire-breathing inflatable dragons for the kids to play ring toss, but that was difficult as Hudson carried all three around for most of the party. 

He loves his dragons 

Later the kids were able to use their swords to 'slay' a real (pinata) dragon. This was so much fun to watch.

We also played Pin the Tail on the dragon. My dear friend Amber painted this awesome dragon for the party.

Group photo (these are the cutest dragon slayers I've ever seen)

Party food for a Knight

It was really fun planning the menu complete with Fire Balls, Dragon Dip, and Fruit Swords

We also served Knight Ships, Fire Torches, Dragon Scales, and Dragon Nuggets

Hudson's favorite was this fabulous Dragon cake.  So cool!

Hudson received some great gifts

Thank you to all of our friends and family who came to celebrate this special boy with us. He had a fabulous time at his dragon party. We love you Hudson!!