Celebrating

I haven’t written for a while because my Nana died, and I didn’t know how or what to write about that.  I was able to travel to say goodbye to her, and I have to say that I know God is real when you can sit at your Nana’s kitchen table, silent and jumbled-up and with an aching soul—and simultaneously knowing and feeling that He is at the table with you, not because you’re doing or saying or thinking anything good, but because He is good and He loves you.  God has met me in some very interesting places over the years, and this is one I’ll always remember—not because a miraculous healing occurred or because my heart was overcome with joy or because I heard a clear message or suddenly felt equipped to do the hard thing in front of me, but because He was there, and that was enough.

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I could talk for a long time about the experience of saying goodbye to someone, but Nana directed our feelings when she shared with us, “Don’t be afraid. This was easy.  I know where I’m going, and I’ll see all of you there.”  It was a sweet time, and I’m so, so grateful I got to be there.

A few weeks later, I was privileged to join my entire family to celebrate her life.  There was fresh snow, a freezing graveside service, a beautiful and inspiring church service, tears, laughter, wine, coffee, and unexpected train rides, so the entire thing felt a little bit surreal-ly balanced between happy and sad.

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After saying goodbye to Nana and beginning to reflect on her legacy, I have a clarified outlook on what really “sticks” at the end of your life, and I’m freshly aware that I am responsible for living now as the kind of person I want to be.  Sifting through Nana’s life made me realize that I want to be more intentional about being a good friend, making family memories, and doing the things that I enjoy (instead of thinking “wouldn’t it be nice to…” and then shelving the activity for some unspecified date).  

Thus…

Zoe and I went on a breakfast-and-sunrise date last week.

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I’ve been taking advantage of the wonderful weather and taking my girls to the beach with friends.

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When we leave the beach, we often stop for a sweet treat.  I’ve decided it’s just going to be an official, regular thing now.  I want my adult children to say, “remember when we were little and we’d go to the beach, and we’d always get ice cream/a chocolate muffin?!! That was the best!!!” 

I went on a beach weekend with my own friends, too (and we left the kids behind)!!!! This should also be an official, regular thing. 🙂

I went to an international fitness dance expo with two similarly dance-crazed friends and danced for two hours.

IMG_0274Clearly, we looked just like the lead dance instructor. #not

I’ve been enjoying a walk or two on our treadmill each week once the girls are in bed.  I wear Zoe’s toddler headphones (which don’t fall out of my ears like the dumb iPod ones) and praisewalk/dance like a loon to random Christian music playlists.  IMG_0262

I have thoroughly been enjoying my little ladies and the daily adventures they bring into my life.

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I am trying to find the humor and universality in the little annoyances of parenting.

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And I am trying to soak up the little moments…because they add up to the bigger picture of my life.

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Thank you, Nana, for all you taught me, and for all you keep teaching me.

 

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Late November

We just got back from our annual Thanksgiving-ish beach trip, which is always one of my favorite weeks of the year.

This fall, I had worked ahead so I didn’t have to take any work along and the trip could be a true time of rest. I decided to prioritize listening to my body and get as much rest as it told me to.  It turns out that my body is very tired.  One night, I went to bed one night at 7:45 pm and slept until the girls woke up at 5.

When I’m at the beach for the week, lazily reading books and taking walks and pushing my kids on swings, it’s hard to remember what tires me out at home and why I never sit down before 8 pm.  Then I come home and remember–oh, we have friends and family members that want to speak with us, clothes that need to be washed instead of stuffed back into a suitcase, a house that actually needs to be maintained, clients who need responses to questions so we can afford to live, children who need more nutrition than french fries and mac and cheese provide, and long-term goals we need to advance towards.

Oh yeah, that.  All of it good. All of it a blessing.

But it’s also a blessing to walk the beach, drink a glass of red wine at 4 pm, throw everyone in the car without brushing anybody’s hair, and drive to a restaurant with “Crabby” in its title, before coming home and going to bed early without doing a single dish. Amen?

1123160818(Zoe was feeling the vacation too…I walked into her bedroom in the condo one morning and found that she had quietly drawn this sweet picture of the four of us smiling on vacation!)

Other fall updates: 

Sabbath – As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’m making a concentrated effort to take a weekly Sabbath again.  Getting started “resting” will always be hard for me, but I noticed over the course of the fall that I become more comfortable with Sabbath and begin enjoying it sooner in the day each weekend that I practiced it.  Here are some things I/we have done with our Sabbaths:

  1. Ripping out hideous bushes in the front of our house and replacing them with cool plants  (gardening is not part of our usual work week, so this totally felt Sabbath-y)!
  2. Decorating our house for Halloween.
  3. Visiting a “pickers” market and indulging in my love of antiquing/vintage furniture (I bought a new light fixture for the kitchen…when I finally get an electrician out here to hang it, I’ll report back)!
  4. Having a friend over to teach me more hairstyles for Zoe’s hair.
  5. Planning and hosting our block party.
  6. Having lunch and visiting a garden center with my mother-in-law.
  7. Working out while I left everyone else at home.  🙂
  8. Meeting a friend for coffee.
  9. Reading a book! I’ve been averaging 1 per week.  My best reads this fall were Present Over Perfect and Hungry Heart.  I typically don’t critique other people’s art in writing because I like to encourage the expression of the human spirit, but life is short, so I’ll tell you to save yourself a weekend and avoid Commonwealth. 
  10. Visiting parks with the girls.
  11. Serving as the purchasing coordinator and childcare support for a very important back yard project: A SWING SET!!! Thanks to my awesome and talented dad for planning and building an amazing swing set for our girls! (Unpictured due to privacy concerns…but here is a picture of Zoe swinging elsewhere!)1121161652a

Work – Work-wise, the fall season has been exactly what I hoped for: I was able to explore new clients and new types of work, and gather information about what my ideal client mix looks like.  I’m not on “holiday cruise control” yet, but I’m getting there. My students are one assignment and one exam away from the finish line of our fall course.  I’m done with one grant writing contract for the year; the other two extend through part of 2017, along with a new client (a local children’s museum). This fall, also I helped a new nonprofit get set up, did some copyediting (having a critical personality is annoying but lucrative), and fell in love with helping high school seniors write college admissions essays (if only this was a year-round need…the intersection of empowering adolescents, helping them understand their stories and tell them well, and persuasive writing is totally my sweet spot)!!

Keeping these balls in the air is thrilling, but also stressful, and I realized at some point about two months ago that I am often moving too fast to celebrate my successes.  I am honestly more excited sometimes about checking something off of my to-do list than I am about the thing that I did MEANING something.  That’s weird, and seems like a ticket for the Burnout Express.  So, I have been training myself to pause and celebrate the successes.  Here are two: the last two months, I won $44,000 in separate grants for a grant writing client, and one of “my” high school seniors has been offered over $28,000 in scholarships so far! Par-tayyy!

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Potty training – We finished Z’s potty training in the spring and figured we were done for the year, but Riley initiated her own potty training about 7 weeks ago.  If I have accomplished nothing else this year, I have taught two people bladder control.

Identity crisis – After 12 years of starting my morning with a mug of black coffee, I switched to green tea in September. Who am I?!  (Answer: less caffeinated.  Also, less prone to a midday crash and GI issues that had crept up.)  I debated sharing this because I have a coffee-loving image to uphold, but this is what qualifies as “news” these days.  Consider yourself informed (and invited for your post-lunch latte, which is still a thing, because I need to recognize myself in the mirror/make it through the day).

Halloween – In a wildly unpredictable costume choice, Zoe was Elsa for Halloween.  She was also very eager to get trick-or-treating, so this family photo was the best we could do of the four of us:

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Christmas tree – has been chosen.

1125161117aNothing says “Christmas cheer” like Crocs, a Minnie Mouse Halloween costume, and a thin layer of sweat from the 80 degree weather.

Also, check out Zoe’s cornrows.  I have to say, I’m becoming a bit proud of my black hairstyling skills (when Zoe will sit still enough for me to use them).  Here’s a more basic two-strand twist:

IMG_5132.JPGTo other mamas attempting to learn styles: I would highly recommend the book Better than Good Hair,  and finding a friend who works for a nonprofit organization designed to help black girls celebrate their culture.  The latter may be a little more difficult to find, but amazingly, God has gifted me with such a friend! I am so grateful.  I actually have another hair story to tell you, but this post is getting too long, so I’ll share it another time.

Off to decorate the tree…

The ABCs of Spring

For this post, I thought I’d give you a little recap of our spring…alphabet-style.

A is for Anna (and Elsa).

IMG_4995One of my children may someday be a Method actor.  Which one? IMG_4997 IMG_5003IMG_5006(The curtains = the kingdom of isolation.  Clearly.)

B is for beach. 

At the beginning of April, we had the joy of spending a week in Watersound Beach with my family.  Actually, to be precise, one of my kids had the joy of spending the week there:

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The other was not impressed.

IMG_6058It’s hard to enjoy the beach if you’re terrified of sand.

Still, it was a fantastic week.  Sally Clarkson writes about a well-timed getaway, “my heart was desperate for some new inspiration and rest from my draining and demanding days.” I hadn’t realized that I was feeling a little low, but then this week was full of rest, beautiful scenery, and fun that lifted my spirits and refilled my heart.  After a week away, the routines that had begun to feel mundane felt sweet again. I am so thankful for the week away.

C is for (some) clarity. 

It was hard for me to make the choice to sign both girls up for preschool next year, but knowing that this season is going to change in a few months has really helped me to appreciate and savor this time with them (and not feel bogged down in it).  Paying for two preschool tuitions will be more expensive than paying for one sitter, so I have been laying some groundwork to get some higher-paying projects and clients for the summer and fall so that I can keep making a similar net income.  It’s been interesting to reflect on where I am in my part time job/business/whatever and where I may want to go in the future.

I spent so much time in my teens and early twenties reflecting on what I wanted to be when I “grew up.”  These days, I find myself thinking a lot more about who I want to be. It’s amazing how much bigger your world becomes and how many more options you have when you start with the “who” question…

D is for D, the letter of the month. 

IMG_5130I started a “letter of the week” station in January and VERY quickly turned it into a letter of the month station. It’s fun to expose the girls to new concepts and to watch them explore sounds and patterns.  However, at the rate we’re going, we’ll be doing a letter of the month for a little over two years.  I’m not sure we’ll make it…

E is for Easter.

This year, we participated in three egg hunts, in addition to all the church stuff that you probably assumed we did. We also gave the girls their first Easter baskets. They were moderately excited by the contents.

F is for Forty, which is how old I feel in my SPF 50 sun hat.  

Photo on 4-20-16 at 4.10 PMYou can find me rocking my sun hat, sun screen, and LaCroix most afternoons as we play outside.  In related news, I also bought a one-piece swimsuit this year.

I am a stereotype.

G is for garage sale, which is where I found these Lilly Pulitzer dresses that my girls wore for Easter. IMG_5080I tried bribing them with M&Ms to pose for a photo shoot, but this action shot of them shoving weeds into the pockets of their dresses was the best I could do.  G is also for good thing these weren’t full price.  

H is for happy, which is how Zoe and I feel about the token economy we live in. Since January, Zoe’s only chance to earn TV time has been by taking a nap.  I think she’s secretly relieved to have an “excuse” to take a nap (she definitely still needs to nap), and I’m relieved to have the chance to get work done.

One of the things I think I’ll always remember from this stage of life is how proud she looks when she settles in on the couch after her nap and selects her show of the day.

IMG_4982Lately, she’s been pulling out a big blanket for me and asking me if I want to cuddle with her. Yes, I do.

Sweet, sweet moments.  So glad I’m here for them.

“I” brings me to a quote from one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2016: “It soon became evident that consistently choosing connection over distraction was the key to a more joy-filled life.”  –Rachel Macy Stafford, Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfectionism to Grasp What Really Matters 

This book was poignant and thoughtful.  I appreciated every word she wrote and recommend it to everyone—not just mamas.

(Other runners-up for best book I’ve read so far in 2016: Women of the Word, Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark, and Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. I read non-Christian books too—Just Mercy and Nickel and Dimed were two of my good non-Christian reads, along with several parenting books—but overall this has been a rich and engaging season in my faith and my reading list reflects that.  I’m so thankful for that, and for a hobby that works in my current life stage!)

J, K, and L are for Just Kidding, I’m not sure I can do this for an entire alphabet.  I may be Lamer than I thought…I’ll try a few more.  

M is for Messy. 

My sweet mom drove home with us and visited for five days after our beach trip.  In addition to whipping my house and laundry into shape, she also planted some flowers with my girls. They were very excited.

IMG_5093IMG_5096IMG_5097IMG_5098Until reality set in for my daughter who thinks “dirt” and “sand” are THE WORST. IMG_5099IMG_5100N is for NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!IMG_5101IMG_5102IMG_5103IMG_5104IMG_5105O is for Only Zoe is left.IMG_5106P is for “this alphabet schtick is Probably to be continued, but not tonight.” 

Fall Report (Hint: It’s Good!)

At the end of the summer, I decided that my fall goals were to reconnect with myself, with rest, and with margin.  Here’s a little progress report on how that has gone.

Margin: 

When I set my fall goals, I knew very little about the structure of our fall. We were in the beginning of the home-buying process, and we weren’t sure about a timeline (beyond being out of our rental by January 1).  We still didn’t know if we’d find a good home or end up moving to another rental.

Since our fall was covered in question marks, I didn’t look for any additional work outside of teaching and the work I do through the grant writing business.  I also put a hold on my membership in a continuing ed/networking group I’m a part of.  Although I can’t point to many amazing professional experiences I’ve had this fall, I moved and unpacked my family and didn’t let anyone down.  Win.

Another win: this fall, I’ve been writing things like grocery shopping, exercising, and trips to Target in my calendar to make sure that I don’t wind up scrambling to “squeeze in” things that are priorities to me or that impact how well (and how happily) I can do my job as a household manager.

My fall course ended this week, so my last work projects of 2015 are writing one grant and finishing up some CEUs by the end of the year for my CPH credential.  Yesterday, I got an offer for some last-minute work.  Although we would have appreciated the money, I said no.  I only have a few more weeks before I go home for Christmas; I want to enjoy the holiday season with my family and not have to cram in CEUs every night.

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Myself: 

A few weeks ago, I took my 75th Jazzercise class.  The instructor makes an announcement when a student hits a “milestone” classes, and I have to admit that I was looking forward to my applause since I took over half of those classes in a state of chronic sleep deprivation.  Unfortunately, someone named Laura happened to share my milestone class, so people clapped for BOTH of us.  Ugh!  Thunder stolen.  Thankfully, I have been participating in a holiday challenge and should hit 100 classes before the end of the year, so hopefully this time I will get my own applause.  Ha.

All joking aside, Jazzercise has continued to be a great mental and physical outlet for me and gives me three additional hours a week of childcare that my kids love.  I am so grateful that I found this studio.

Other self care projects I can report on: I’ve been reading three books a month (this month’s books: some ridiculous Sophie Kinsella book, Women of the Word, and The Nesting Place), and have been meeting a friend once a week without my kids for an early morning walk.  I have also been doing my quiet times faithfully and going to bed earlier (last night, I am delighted to report that I hit the sack at 8:15).

I’ve also been straightening my hair on occasion and recently bought some new makeup which I am trying to wear a few times a week.  (Zoe’s recent comment while playing doctor: “mom, you have these lines under your eyes.  I’ll give you a shot and make them better.”  We have officially lived in plastic-surgery-hungry Florida too long).

I also went to a CONCERT recently! My neighbor gave me two free tickets to what turned out to be one of the coolest concerts I’ve ever been to.  I took my friend Susan (also a mom) and we had the best time.  I love music and used to go to concerts fairly regularly, but haven’t tapped into this part of myself very often since becoming a mom.  It served as a gentle reminder that I have lots of interests that are worth exploring from time to time.

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Rest: 

Rest is hard for me.

This fall has NOT been full of restful events (moving, house guests, etc.), but I have tried my best to allow myself to recuperate as needed.  This has meant spending a few of the kids’  nap times on the couch with Scandal and many evenings on the couch with a glass of wine.  There have ben a few Sunday afternoons where I’ve asked David to take the kids and go do something because I can’t be nice anymore.

The most concentrated moments of resting this fall came just a week ago when David and I took all of Thanksgiving week off and went to the beach with our kids.  Neither of us did anything productive all week long.  It was fantastic and re-charging and energizing.

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Kids eating ice cream on the way home from the beach? 
Doesn’t get better than that. 

But my favorite moment of “rest” from this whole fall happened yesterday.  I had hosted Zoe’s birthday party in the morning (she’s 3!! Sob!) As I wearily washed cupcake trays, I got an e-mail asking me if I could be available for a conference call later that afternoon.  Our sitter was going to be here, ostensibly so I could work, so theoretically I could have made this call work.

However.  It was Zoe’s 3rd birthday. I was exhausted from her party and her three hour wake up the night before.  And honestly, I just didn’t want to work.  I wanted to hang out with my daughter on her birthday.

I’m so sorry, but I am busy, I wrote back.

And then I spent the afternoon being busy.  I left Riley with the sitter and took Zoe to Starbucks in her new Elsa dress, where we sat together and played with a Playdoh activity bin for 1.5 hour. We went to Walgreens and watched every dancing musical toy. We bought quick-drying nail polish and came home and painted her nails.

“I love you, mommy!” my generally-non-affectionate child told me several times.

I am realizing that there is no shortage of things to be busy with—but not all of them are actually important.  If I can’t show up for the people and things that matter most to me—what’s the point? I want to be “busy” with the important things.  

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I AM BUSY.

Overall: This fall has felt like one giant win.  There have been some tough days (I still have two toddlers, people!!), but overall, I feel more joyful, energized, and present because I have focused on connecting with myself, rest, and margin.

Around this time of year, people begin thinking about ambitious goals for their new year—goals that usually don’t include things like rest and margin.  My humble suggestion? Instead of going big this year, do what author Emily Freeman suggests and “celebrate your smallness.”  This doesn’t necessarily mean settling for small goals; rather, it means realizing that you are one person who needs things like rest and margin, and that God will have to fill in the rest of “big” for you.

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October So Far

Hi friends! Another quick update.  Our move went well, minus the demise of our kitchen table (turns out it was literally on its last leg, HAHAHAHAHA you’re welcome) and we’re mostly settled into our new house! Here is where I would like to show you pictures of perfectly pulled-together rooms, but I have children, so this is the best I can do:

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It was clean and organized until 5:45 am.  Use your imagination to turn back time, or just enjoy it as it is 95% of the time (and note the “neutral AND bright” color that David and I convened on…it works, right?!!) Still to come in this playroom: art, a possible rug, and the removal of the last 3 moving boxes.

Our living room, shot from a hideous angle so you won’t see the stack of frames yet to be hung (“this weekend’s” project that may never be completed because kids):

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The real view, because I like vulnerability:

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Part of our massive backyard, complete with cute enjoyer-of-the-backyard:

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I’ll share more photos as I have opportunity to take them, and may even get fancy and do a “before and after” post for you chock full of juicy details like “paid someone to do this, so don’t ask questions because I honestly don’t know,” “this paint color is kind of blue and kind of green, and it has a name…er…” and “ask my dad.”  I will rule the home design blog genre.

Here are four of my favorite things about this new house so far:

-It provided an excuse for both of my parents to come visit.  I love seeing them, my girls love spending time with them, and no visit is ever long enough.  Tear.

-The chance for new rhythms.  For example, in this new house, I am decidedly starting each morning with quiet time.  The “wake up before your kids to meet with Jesus” concept has been a non-starter for us since these weirdos get up between 4:30-5:30 am and that’s just ungodly.  In our old house’s maze-like layout, the kids could easily wander and commit acts of violence if I didn’t move with them, so quiet time got replaced by “mommy is our constant companion” time.  Swell. Our new house’s layout is much more conducive to breezily keeping an eye on them while I do my own thing AND they’re both over 1 now, which is old enough to sit in A PLAYROOM FULL OF TOYS and PLAY for 10 minutes.  Zoe said the other day “I’m going to read my Bible because it’s morning time,” so I think it’s working.

-My good friend and her sweet daughter live next door.  Number of spontaneous play dates so far: too many to count.  This is awesome.

-Our double front driveway is the perfect size for car and bicycle riding, and our street is quiet enough that I can relax instead of patrolling the edge of the driveway.  We happily spend at least 20 minutes a day out here waving to airplanes, watching the clouds, peddling, and giggling.

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Unrelated to our new house, but still amazing: let it be known that on the morning of October 15, a slight chill entered the air.  You’d better believe the entire family went out for a walk in our lightweight fleeces as soon as the sun rose.  Mid-to-late-fall mornings in Florida are the bomb.

My goals for the remainder of the month are:

-be a little less self-centered and figure out what’s going on in other people’s lives.  The home buying, moving, and unpacking process have necessitated an intense internal focus for the last 2 months, but I’m eager to expand my gaze a little and figure out what the heck is going on outside of my paperwork and boxes.  It’s not a very specific goal, but I know it when I’m doing it, and my goal is to feel a few glimmers of that joy that comes in losing track of myself in serving and loving another.

-exercise 3-5 x/ week (3 Jazzercise classes + walks)

-bring my discipline and focus to work again after a few weeks of being a little more home-focused.  Get some clarity about winter/spring work projects and where I’m going next.

-get my updated will signed and notarized (hi next gathering of friends, I’m about to make you all contemplate mortality for a minute.  Bring a pen)

-hang those dang pictures.

bonus goals: enjoy Halloween with my ladies and possibly make it a threepeat month for Saturday beach trips…

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Talk to you soon! 

Our Journey to Riley: Part One

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Our family now.  Welcome, sweet Riley Grace. 

I barely know where to begin this story, except to say this: I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d have two under two.

David and I had discussed kid spacing.  2.5 years apart sounded great.

Until we adopted Zoe.

At our first post-placement visit, three weeks after Zoe came home with us, our social worker joked “so, are you ready for another one?” In all seriousness, I said “yes.”

When I told David about our conversation, he laughed nervously.

“You were joking, right?” he said.

“Nope.  I would take another one any time.  Including now,” I said.

My poor husband, sleep-deprived and wondering what glutton for punishment he had married, told me that we could renegotiate our 2.5 year spacing but that he didn’t really want to have a discussion about a new baby until Zoe was one.  He didn’t think we could handle more than one baby.  I understood and tried to respect his wishes, and we settled into life as a family of three.

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However.

In the first week of October, when Zoe was ten months old, I felt my heart being tugged towards adoption—hard.  A newspaper article.  A song.  A dream.  A story.  A book.  Another newspaper article.  Billboards.  I felt like I couldn’t escape it.  I finally told David at lunch on October 8, “THIS IS INSANITY.  I can’t escape this.  I feel like we have to pray about whether we are being called to adopt again now.”  He laughed.

Later that afternoon, I got an email about a young boy in our community who needed a home.  I don’t ever get emails like this, and when I called the friend who had sent it to ask more questions, she said “I knew you were going to call.  I sent it to a group of people so you wouldn’t feel singled out, but I knew you were the one who was going to call me back.”

After that, David agreed to pray about it.

On October 9, he gave me the okay to call the lawyer representing the boy.  After all, it wasn’t a newborn.

The situation with the boy didn’t seem like a fit, but somehow I left the conversation with a request from the the lawyer to talk to David about whether we would be interested in adopting a baby who was expected in December.  The lawyer was finding it difficult to find a black family—the mom’s preference for the baby—and wondered if the mom would feel comfortable placing with our multiracial family.

I presented the situation to David, mostly as a joke.  We had not called about a newborn—we had called about a young boy.  Hilarious, right?

Oddly enough…that husband of mine said “I am actually really excited about the possibility of a newborn.  Ask more questions.”

I asked more questions.  We began to pray.  We talked financials.  We had money earmarked for one more adoption.  Could we live on David’s salary + my part time work with two kids in diapers? Yes, we realized.  We could.  It would be tight, but we could do it.    

The lawyer suggested that we put a family profile together for the birth mom.  I made it over nap times and turned it in.  We kept praying.  We didn’t feel the “STOP” we expected to feel.  What was this?

I contacted our old adoption agency.  Can we do an expedited home study? I asked.  Our case manager said yes.  We heard from the lawyer that the birth mom was interested.  Everything was falling into place…for an adoption.

The week before Thanskgiving, David and I began to feel uneasy about the specific situation.  I asked some friends to pray for clarity for us before we signed the retainer letter and put our check in.  We decided to make our decision over Thanksgiving break.

Two days before Thanksgiving, I got an email from our case manager at our old adoption agency.  Could I call her? There was something she wanted to discuss.  

My heart began racing.  Somehow, I suspected what was coming next.

We played phone tag.  I tried to quell my nervousness, telling myself she couldn’t possibly say what I thought she was going to say.

Then, at Target, while Zoe and I posed for a picture by the Lego display—a phone call.

IMG_0108Our case manager.

My suspicions were right.  Zoe’s birth mom was pregnant again and wanted us to adopt the baby.  It was probably a long shot, but were we remotely interested? 

Yes.  We were, I said.

Our case manager was surprised.  Didn’t we even want to talk about it? No, I said, looking at David.  He nodded.  We didn’t need to.  

We had already opened our hearts to the possibility of a newborn, soon, and we had already decided that we could make the logistics work.

We had already talked about it.  We just didn’t know who we were talking about.  

I thanked God for the clarity about the other situation and we rejoiced in the fact that God was making it clear to us that we were supposed to adopt again, sooner than planned, and to adopt a newborn.

We let the lawyer representing the other birthmom know that we were withdrawing from consideration, and began preparing to welcome Zoe’s sibling into the world.

Little did we know what was about to occur.

This is getting long and both girls are up from their naps now (so fun to say “both girls!!!”)…so part II will be coming soon! 

 

A Week in The Life

Today, I was thinking through how fun this last week was was when it dawned on me: I was pretty sure I had taken a picture EVERY DAY last week.  This never happens, so I thought it would be fun to recap a week in the life of our family through pictures! (If this isn’t your jam, I totally understand.  This is a really self-indulgent post.  Feel free to skip.) 

 

Saturday, May 17

We woke up and David and Zoe made waffles.  Chef Zoe was sporting her new monogrammed apron that mama couldn’t resist ordering for her!

Zoe waffles

My dad was visiting for 48 hours, so after he got back from his 5 mile morning walk (go Dad!) we headed out to the beach.

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Zoe loved running and walking along the beach with her Papa!

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After some beach fun and a post-beach Starbucks trip, we returned to the house where Zoe took a nap.  Our day concluded with a playground visit, a stroll through an outdoor shopping mall, and a nice dinner out (complete with wine flight!) After Zoe went to sleep, David, Dad, and I finished our night with Shark Tank and fro-yo.

 

Sunday, May 18

I took my dad to the airport at 5:30 AM.  David left for work at 7 and Zoe and I went for a beautiful morning walk before getting ready for church.  For whatever reason, Sunday mornings seem to be a hard time for Zoe.  Today, she debuted a new skill: slapping!  And she had plenty of reasons to slap me—I mean, I fed her, changed her diapers, got her dressed for the day, and saved her from heatstroke by not allowing her to wear the long sleeves and jeans she wanted to wear in the 80 degree weather.  THE INHUMANITY!

0518140845David preached and I enjoyed listening to him while Zoe enjoyed the nursery.  After the service, we attended a brunch for our church’s contemporary worship volunteers.

Later in the day, the high school girls’ small group from 2011-2013 had a reunion since everyone is back from college now.  We sat on the Starbucks patio for two hours enjoying coffee, laughter, some tears, and honest conversation. BLISS! While I was there, David and Zoe went grocery shopping for the week.  After coffee, I went to the gym and then reunited with the family just in time for David to leave to prepare for the high school youth group “end of the school year” pool party.  Zoe and I made an appearance at the party about an hour later.  Good times!

photo-66

 

Monday, May 19

Zoe and I started our day with a walk on our neighborhood golf course with our buddies Jaima and Jackson while David hit up the gym and went to work.  After our walk, our friend Keri Rose and her sweet new baby, Levi, came to visit for a few hours.  Zoe was enthralled with Levi and wanted him to do everything she does: play in the sandbox, ride in her Cozy Coupe car, have a tea party, dress up, etc.  She tried to show him how, but he just could not get the hang of it!

Eventually, Zoe adapted to his activity level 🙂

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Later in the day, our friend McKay and I took Zoe to a local splash park.

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We came home and Uncle Kenny visited for a few minutes before a typical evening at our house commenced.

 

Tuesday, May 20

David went to his theology study group at 7 am, leaving me with a psychotically cranky Zoe.0520140831

I understood her crankiness better when we went to our outdoor stroller workout class and I watched her chew the corner off of a board book.  I opened her mouth to find two teeth popping out of the gum line.  Poor baby!

After class, we went to the park with some friends.  It was HOT.  Zoe loved running around the entire park, playing ball with other kids, playing with other kids’ toys, and spinning on the merry-go-round.  She was devastated when we had to leave and melted down at lunch.  By the time I put her down for a nap (after giving her a dose of Tylenol,) I was exhausted and told David that I would not hate him if he bought me a coffee.  He did.  I spent naptime working on a project for one of my two summer clients.  (Did I tell you I’m consulting again? Yup.  Turns out I can’t stop working.  I like it too much.)  I texted David the following photo of my newly energized self along with a gushy thank you for the coffee.

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After naptime, Zoe and I ran to Target for essentials like paper towels and sunscreen.  Later that evening, David assisted with a funeral at church and Zoe and I Facetimed with my sister.  The following adorableness occurred.

Zoe and KelseyKisses for Aunt Kelsey!

 

Wednesday, May 21

I woke up early and went to the gym before David went to work.  After he left, Zoe and I headed to the aquarium, where we enjoyed the outdoor splash park with 7 friends from our playgroup and their mom (thanks to one of those moms for sharing her guest pass with us.)

0521141048I had a lunch meeting, so David took care of Zoe for me (thanks!!) Later that afternoon, we went to our next door neighbors’ house where the kids played and painted. Zoe thought that painting her face and mommy’s body was the most fun part!

Photo on 5-21-14 at 5.07 PM #2They had so much fun that Zoe fell asleep in her high chair at 5:25.  (In her defense, a visit from the exterminator woke her up about halfway through her usual nap time, so she really didn’t get a lot of sleep!)

0521141714aDavid worked later than usual to make up for his longer lunch break while I did theatrics trying to keep Zoe up as long as possible so she could see David and hopefully not wake up at 4 am the next day.   She ended up going to bed at 6:30 pm, which meant David and I got a LONG evening to ourselves.  He watched the Survivor finale and I did nerdy things like write emails and buy my own domain name (you can now visit this blog at www.journeyingwithhim.com.  Gettin’ fancy.)

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Thursday, May 22

David played Frisbee at 5:45 am.  The rest of us woke closer to 6 am.  Thursday and Friday were special this week because Zoe and I got to babysit our friend Reese! Her preschool closed for two days but her mom and dad’s work didn’t, so we had a buddy from 8-4 both days!  We LOVED it.  The girls enjoyed coloring together, story time, Playdoh, a walk in the double stroller, baking, playing in the sandbox, and visits from a few friends (toddler and adult) over the course of the day!

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photo 1I spent naptime studying up on the Holy Spirit and doing some consulting work.  After Reese was picked up at 4, a former youth group student (now in college) came over with her boyfriend who was visiting from South Carolina so I could meet him, and then Zoe and I wandered through our church grounds (she LOVES to explore there.)  Later that night, my high school girls’ small group came over for the aforementioned Holy Spirit study.

 

Friday, May 23 

Reese showed up at 8 am.  David and I immediately took the girls to the park before it got too hot  (Fridays and Saturdays are his day off, so he was mine for the day! MWAHAHAHA.)

photo 1I had a meeting to talk about a potential subcontracting relationship doing some grant writing.  David watched both girls for an hour before calling Uncle Kenny for some reinforcement.  The four of them had a blast building tall towers and knocking them down.

photo 2After the girls went down for their naps, David and Kenny went to grab a beer as Kenny had just finished his last final for the spring semester of grad school and David had just received a gift card for a neighborhood gastropub.  I did some consulting work until Zoe woke up.  She was sad that Reese was not up yet, as she wanted Reese to sit in the double stroller with her.  I filled the void in the meantime.

photo 2Zoe was not impressed.

Once Reese woke up, we played outside until she was picked up.  Then our family went to a new-to-us beachfront bar and restaurant with a group of friends.  Things got a little crazy and before you knew it, Zoe was topless and drinking.

photo 3

(I hadn’t realized that I should bring a swimsuit for Zoe.  Luckily, I had a swim diaper in my diaper bag and redneck style was totally welcome at this establishment.  Also, she is drinking water in this picture. Mommy also had a margarita and Daddy had a beer.  Totally fun night.)

 

Saturday,  May 24

In the morning, we visited our local children’s museum (in a total coup, I was able to buy an annual pass for $35 on Living Social last summer.  Best deal ever.)  Zoe reveled in her chance to do exactly the same thing she did last night, only inside and with air conditioning.

photo 4

After lunch, I wrote for a bit, David worked on his sermon for about an hour, and Zoe napped.  Then I hit up the gym, the family took a grocery store trip, I jumped in the shower, and David and I went off for a date night while Zoe stayed with Uncle Kenny and McKay.  We went to the mall to return two dresses I had ordered online in an effort to make shopping easier (clearly, it didn’t work) and used a Groupon-esque coupon for a neighborhood wine bar.

We have such a fun life and I am grateful for every single moment of it.