Saturday, December 20, 2014

the house that built us

I sit here in the glow of the Christmas tree lights, curled up on the couch, sound machine white noise drifting from the kids' rooms, and I glance over at the boxes that are beginning to pile up in our den. 

It's bittersweet. 

So bittersweet. We are beginning to pack and will soon be moving out of this house. 

Oh, this house, what these walls have seen. 

We bought this house 7 1/2 years ago after selling our little starter home. We moved into this space with BIG dreams of the future. We moved in and planned to start a family here. Heck, I picked this house for the layout of the rooms all on the first floor so there would be no middle of the night stairs for a midnight or 2 am feeding session. This house, this house, it built us. And now, we are preparing to say goodbye.

A wise friend told me that it's ok to be sad about the closing of this chapter. That I should walk through the house and thank the many rooms for the memories and the time together. I plan on doing just that... lingering... running my fingers down the walls.... and just taking it all in. One last time, but I also want to document it here. A thank you to this house that build us, featuring my just some of my favorite memories. 

The front yard. 
With a fenced in back yard, we didn't spend much time playing in the front. But when the weather was nice, we would spent the witching hour from post nap till Daddy got home in the front. Everyday our neighbor down the street would walk his dog when he got home from work and as soon as the boys would see DeeDee the dog coming they would throw down their toys and run to her. We are going to miss DeeDee! 

 That front porch, with it's one brick step. Many a picture were taken on that step. I'm going to miss it and all it has documented- from birthdays, to first days of school, to father's day... 

The back yard. 
I'm going to miss a lot about this place. I am going to miss having the windows open and hearing the boys playing together and their laughter rolling in the open window. I'm going to miss the epic slip and slide "hill" the slant of our yard provided. 

The Den. 
You miss a lot of first when you adopt toddlers. But one first we didn't miss with just Bates was his first steps. His first wobbly little steps at 22 months old. He walked from his daddy's arms to mine right in the middle of this floor. 

Our kitchen. 
It's held countless meals around the table, but in this family kitchen's are made for dancing and this place has seen some epic dance parties. The dancing will live on, for sure, just in a new place! 

The kids' playroom. 
The moment that all three of my kids were home, in this room, and playing together. I will never forget that moment. 

Our bedroom. 
Late one night after seeing our son, Brodie's face for the first time and knowing without a shadow of a doubt he was to be our second son, and saying yes without even asking Nick, I crawled back into bed, woke Nick up, and showed him (on my very brightly lit cell phone in a dark room) his picture. 

Master Bath. 
Never, ever, ever after having children getting to go to the bathroom in peace. Can I get an Amen, momma friends? But my favorite memory in this bathroom, hands down would be Brodie discovering his love for a long hot, I'm talk run out all the hot water kind of shower. Singing at the top of his lungs. I won't forget the blurry outline of his little toddler self through the frosted glass. 

Oh Nell's room. 
This is by far the most bittersweet room to leave behind. If I could take this one room with us in my pocket I would. Right now it's Nell's room, but it wasn't always. This once guest room for our live ins. Anna and Chase, turned to Bates' nursery. Decorated with friendly monsters, I would often walk in the room, which was always lit with a bedside lamp no matter what time of day as we waited, and stand next to his crib and long for him. I would rock in the rocking chair and dream of what it would be like to rock him. I will never forget rocking him in that chair by the window in the moonlight and just crying tears of joy onto his sleeping face. 

Then that room turned into Stacey, our Chinese exchange student's room. The boys loved spending time in Stacey's room, playing on her computer, and singing to the firetruck song together. What a fun adventure that year was. 

And when Stacey left, the paint came out, and the room once again got a make over... this time to wait for it's newest inhabitant- Nell. The room came full circle, from welcoming home our first, to our last. This room has held two of my dearest treasure, two of the things I have longed for and waited for. This room holds the wait of emotions of the wait to bring them home and the joy fulfilled in their homecoming. I have slept on the floor of this room more than anywhere else in my life. I have held tiny hands while they drifted off to sleep. This room is scared and special and probably the place I will miss the most. 

Bates and Brodie's room. 
This is another room that has seen some change over our 7 years here. From a guest room, to live in brother, Robert's room, to guest room again, to Brodie's sock monkey nursery, and finally to the room the brothers share. 

I have loved the boys sharing a room. They have laughed and giggled (and gotten in trouble) as they were supposed to be napping. They have opted to sleep together on the bottom bunk until very recently. That's what I will remember most about this room. The boys sleeping, curled up together on that bottom bunk and knowing that DNA isn't necessary to make up this B team. 

The kids bathroom. 
Oh the memories of potty training this bathroom has seen. The countless hours spend sitting next to that potty. I can't say I'm gonna miss that too much. 

The upstairs bathroom.
 For some reason, and I'm not sure why it's this bathroom.... but this is the place I remember taking yet another negative pregnancy test and this feeling coming over me.... not of sadness.... but of the feeling that "I just want to be a mom". At the time it made no sense and I honestly didn't put much thought into it, but after I held Bates, and then Brodie, and finally Nell in my arms, that feeling made sense. I was never sad during our journey to parenthood that I wasn't pregnant, I always just longed to become a mom. I know it was God protecting and preparing my heart for the life that was unfolding for us. I'm so so so thankful for those few trying years and for the path to parenthood we took. And I'm so thankful that God's plans are always way better than the ones we make. 

 The bonus room. 
 Big room so two memories. 
I remember when we first moved in to this house... with not enough furniture to fill this room, we had this giant space and a tiny love seat and tv almost in the smack dab middle of it. Every night we would make dinner and serve our plates at the stove and carry them upstairs, sit on the couch, and eat dinner while watching about 3 hours of our shows. Ah, the life before kids. Now dinner is always at the table and I can't tell you the last time I watched TV much less three hours. Those sweet sweet pre kids, still newlywed days. 

Then this room became our homeschool land. While pretty lax and chill about the homeschool schedule the days we did school together are some of the sweetest memories with the boys. Bates so eager to learn, and Brodie such a natural learner. From counting to chasing and stomping on letters, to curled up together reading books, I will cherish those times of learning at home together. 

 4441, as we begin to pack up the stuff that we have filled you with and prepare to part our family from your walls, the lyrics from the Michael W Smith song Friends, keep popping in my head.... 
Packing up the dreams God planted in the fertile soil of you
I can't believe the hopes He's granted
Means a chapter of your life in through
As we pack up boxes, I know we are packing up the dreams God planted in us. Dreams that came to life inside these walls. This chapter is coming to a close, a beautiful beautiful chapter of our families' story. 
Thank you for the memories, 4441, you were good to us, friend. You will always be the house that built us. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

1st annual girls trip

A casual conversation turned into real life planning. Countdown on. And then the day came, time to head to Chicago for the First Annual Girls Trip. When you name it the First Annual, that ensures this will happen again! 

Ready for the cold north in my new snow boots.
And apparently after texting this photo to my northern friends, they laughed, because only a southern has white snow boots- hmm, who knew?! 

We all came from various points, but arrived at our home away from home- The Westin. And yes, right outside our window was the John Hancock and the Miracle Mile! Hello, Chicago. 

The Fab Four. Together. Let the selfies begin. 

Uh Huh. We did. And it was GOOD. 

A morning at the Korean Spa. Where I introduced these girls to the goodness that is a Korean spa and a body scrub. It was epic. We laughed until we cried, numerous times. 

Right after I took this picture of my pretty spa suit, we got yelled at for having our phones and cameras out in the dressing room. Oops. 

Post Spa, epic Korean Meal that involved about 2 entries too many. 

These girls. They are good. I'm so blessed they are mine. 

It was an Epic weekend. Way too short, but we packed it full of memories, of laughs, of food and drinks, and just some quality time with my favs. This year was a bang out year for us four- between the four of us, we brought home three kids from Korea, started the process for another, and kick cancer's tail. This weekend, this time just to be together, was full of celebration. These girls GET me. They know me, they love me. Chicago, you were so so so good to us! 
Second Annual Trip Planning is already happening! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

testing, testing.... is this thing {still} on.

Is anyone still out there? 

I've been a bad bad blogger. 
Sigh, sorry folks. I would blame it on the newest addition, but honestly y'all {dont hate me adoptive momma friends} she has been a dream. Since coming home I kinda have been super busy, just a lot on my plate, and this blog wasn't one of them. As the year draws to a close, my mind starts looking back on the simply breath takingly beautiful year it's been for our family and I know capturing the memories on this blog and then turning it into a book is something I want to be committed to. 

So here: let me hit the highlights of the last like 4 months. 

We soaked up the last dog days of summer. This girl rocked the soccer park and the baseball fields like a champ. 

Her transition has been pretty seamless, but there were just a few bumps in the road, mainly over food. Nell wasn't a good eater, and was so so so tiny, momma launched a one man mission for weight gain. She wasn't always thrilled with this plan. 

We bonded. But don't let this fool you, this girl she is a daddy's girl TO THE CORE. 

The Fam Five. This complete picture is more than I could have dreamed. 

Nell started school and just LOVED it. She loves school and LOVES seeing momma in the hallway! 

We had tubes put in. Super speech delay. Failed hearing test. Let's figure this out.... 

We totally embraced our role as the little diva in the family. 

We had a follow up brain MRI. 
After an epic morning of discovering her PDA was repaired with a metal coil. Metal = not good to go in the MRI machine= round and round with the specialist= loooong day. But brain MRI was good on all the things we were looking for, but we did discover an abnormality that we will be keeping our eye on as she grows. 

Oh, and these two, the two I worried the most about how they would fair together. All that worrying for not. He is he BEST with her. 

We hung out with our boyfriend, Davis. 

And we just smiled our way through everyday as we have completely settled into our new family. 
I know it's cliche to say, but I can't remember life without our happy little caboose. She completes our family in ways we didn't know were missing. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Nell’s third birthday

I’ve sat down to write this post several times now…. but I simply cannot put it into words. I sit and stare at the blank screen and scroll through the pictures as tears come to my eyes. You see, our wait to bring Nell home was 22 months. Twenty two, long and painful, months. We watched families matched months and months after us travel and bring their children home when we still didn’t have a court date. We missed holidays, special occasions, everyday moments, and dang it… TWO birthdays. With a court date of June 13th, it was going to be nearly impossible to have Nell home for her birthday in July. Nearly. But you know that bible verse “… with God all things are possible…” yeah I held onto that one. Her birthday, and this post, it feels so sacred. So, so special, for numerous reasons. But the most intimate, I look at these pictures and know this day, these pictures… these were the moments of living a promise fulfilled. And that is a sacred space for me. A moment of knowing that a promise has been fulfilled, guess that is what Sarah felt like when she held Isaac for the first time, what the Israelites felt when they stepped into the promise land, and what it’s gonna feel like when our feet hit those golden streets of Heaven (or maybe we fly on them… whatever… it will be awesome)

One day, before we left on our first trip to Korea, I was in the car by myself. A line of a Casting Crowns song caught my ear….

The song is entitled “Just another Birthday” and you know a waiting momma who is on the verge of loosing it over missing “just another birthday”, well, it’s a hard and sad place to be.

The song closes with these lyrics.

Now I know, I know 

It's not just another birthday 
'Cause I'm here, she's here 
And look how far we've come 
Since you've called me, saw me 
Held me and freed me 
Thank you, Lord, for another birthday 
And we'll be fine 
We'll be fine

And that was it. I knew that it was a song sent straight to my momma’s heart. A promise that this “just another birthday” would be a promise fulfilled and “I’m here, she’s here” would be a reality. Even so much so that before we got our call to go get her, I booked plane tickets. Tickets that had us arriving back home BEFORE her birthday. Almost impossible, but I knew, I knew this promise was for me.

We arrived home on the night of the 18th. We went to bed, I tucked my daughter in her bed, in her room, in our home. She closed her eyes, the last night as a two year old. She woke up the morning of her birthday, her first morning in our house, her house… as a three year old. She was home.
Most of our family was still in town from her airport homecoming the night before, so they came over for a lunch birthday of cake and ice cream. I seriously have the best friends, and while I knew the personal promise God gave me, I totally didn’t plan for a birthday party… but my friends did for me! Cake, outfit, d├ęcor, balloons, gifts… they covered it all for me.

Birthday tradition, getting measured. 
It also happened to work to be her homecoming measurement too! 

And then presents!!! 

And a girl who is in love with Pororo got a bag FULL of her beloved Pororo treasures!

A day full of celebrating all that she is. The fact she is ours, we are hers and she is HOME. 
Finished the day with the candle in honor of her birth mother. 
As she blew the candle out, I prayed the warmth of  that little light could be felt in the heart of a woman on the other side of the world. That she would know that this girl, the daughter we share, that she was finally home. Home where she belonged. Home where she is treasured, wanted, and beloved. Where she has a momma who would traveled the world for her, a daddy who is wrapped around her finger, and two older brothers who will never let her date. Home with a family. Her family. Forever. 

Happiest of birthday, my chosen daughter.