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. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{browns build}

Back late last year, Nick changed jobs. With this job change, it opened up a large geographical area we could live. Murfreesboro made the most sense, both geographically and to our hearts. We love the roots we have planted here, so we decided that we would deepen those roots and stay here. 

We knew we wanted to have some space to breathe, to run, to play, and watch our kids grow. We began to dream of being "out" with just starlight no streetlights and every so often would drive out and just "look". We debated if we should buy an old farm, or older property and fix it up, or buy land and build.... but all of it was hypothetical cause it was always "one day" or realistically "in a few years". 

We would go look at property that was waaay out. Like out out. I never felt like that was for me. I wanted neighbors... I liked the neighborhood feel, I mean where else do you go trick or treating, but wanted at least 5 acres. Nick would have been content in the middle of nowhere. So we just would look and dream and talk about what we would want "one day".

Then this property, that had been on the market for quite some time drop down into our price range... so we went and looked. And then went and looked again. Then called our Realtor friend to go with us.  It was kinda everything we wanted. It was in a neighborhood of about 12 houses. Each lot had minimum of 5 acres... dead end street.... flat... 10 mins from a grocery (and a new walmart).... oh and the major bonus... a creek! It really was pretty much perfect. 

So in the midst of planning a trip to Korea to meet Nell and the end of school craziness for me... we bought it. Almost 10 acres of our little slice of the country.
the view from the street, the day we closed

we celebrated owning it with sonic at the property! 

We've spent the last 3 months just playing, exploring and starting to tame the property. The front had been cleared and mowed regularly, but the about 3 acres in front of the creek had been let grow wild for years. And behind the creek, well, we haven't touched that yet. 

As for the house. I found a set of plans about a year ago on pinterest that I just loved. I pinned them for that "one day maybe". When that one day became a reality I sold Nick on the plans and we got a study set of them. 

Oh, let me introduce you to our builder, Sam. Sam the Builder. 
Before we closed on the property, I called Sam and asked if he was still building houses. He was the one person I knew that I would trust to build our house. Sam agreed and met us at the property with the plans and we just roughly talked through them.

Fast forward back to present and it was time to start really putting pen to paper and hammering out the changes we wanted to make to the plans. Sam the builder came over for a design meeting... where he demoted himself to our Project Manager. This demoting makes more sense for all of us, Sam's time and our super involvement in the process. 
We talked through the changes to the plans to send back to the architect, and Sam had some awesome money saving ideas, which Nick liked... but to me meant more money for lighting. Whoop whoop. Nick's budget and my taste are a good $10,000 grand off so this build should be interesting... but I do have him agreeing to letting me hire a designer who will help me spend the money smartly. 

This past weekend we went out to the property to work on what will be the back yard. It had been cleared a month or so ago back to the creek, but the trees needed to be cleaned up and it needs to be bush hoged once again.

Our crew of "supervisors"

We put in a full day's work, but still have plenty more to do, if anyone wants to BYOC (Bring your own chainsaw!) or come for an epic bonfire of all we have cleaned up- come on anytime! 

We've, well, I've been starting to collect some things for the house. The joy of this being a custom build is doing just that... custom! We have the front door from the house Nick's grandmother was born in to use as our (I think) pantry door, the old flooring from that house to use as maybe the stairs, and these pre-civil war carriage house doors to be used as the sliding door to the study. (Thanks to a friend's find!)

We aren't sure exactly when we will break ground. This is the slow part of the build.... getting it all set to go. But as I told Nick this weekend, we have forever to be out there. This is where we will grow old together... so we are trying not to rush... take our time and enjoy the process of building our dream home. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

back to school, back to school....

It seems this summer was quite the blur. I mean two trips to Korea and bringing home Nell made for a blur of a memorable summer, for sure! I'm thankful to be home and settled and settling back into our routine, school included. 

Since I direct the preschool at our church, and really need to be there the first part of school, Nell, only home a month went to school. Honestly, she is doing some incredibly well and LOVES going and socializing at church... and well, if needed momma is only right down the hall. 

First day pictures on the porch.... 

Y'all this child. He may be the death of me. He loves school and was excited to go, but did not want to participate in pictures. Bless him. 

And Bates, who is old enough for Kindergarten, but we have prayerfully opted to send him to our KinderSchool, which is like a Kindergarten readiness program as well as homeschool Kindergarten for him and then.... we will see where the Lord leads next year. 

Nell is such a big girl. I mean, it breaks my heart that she came home at three.... but somethings... like the fact she can carry her backpack into school like a big girl just makes my heart swell. She is so so brave. 

A super successful first day of school results in a Sonic Happy Hour treat on the way home. But who are we kidding, we Browns do happy hour quite often, just for the sheer heck of it! 

And of course, a little girl who is cutting her molars makes for a drooling, snotty, whiney mess. And you know she doesn't feel good when she, who hates hates hates the carrier, willingly spent a few hours in it. 

But she still has a smile that lights up my world.....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

on the homefront

Things are crazy busy and crazy awesome here on the homefront. We brought a three year old home, started school, put our house on the market all within the span of three weeks. Ha. We roll with the crazy, and luckily our newest addition does too.

Some simple fun updates from the phone.

Nell is still working on her first English word, but girlfriend can communicate when she likes something. Whenever we give her something she wants to eat, we get a smile, a head nod, and this.... a thumbs up. This drives Brodie NUTS that she doesn't put her thumb up... but I think it's hysterical and hope she never out grows it. 

Toddler Adoption: another first... Her First Roo Cup. Kinda a big deal if you are a Brown. 

Brodie started baseball and I kinda DIE at the cuteness that is this kid. And um, he's kinda really good. 

ahh, these two, they have a crazy cool bond. I love it. 

a low grade fever means skipping dinner with friends and Pororo on the couch. Come to find out I think missy is finally cutting 2 year molars- joy. 

One of Nell's favorite things is "kaja!" which means Let's Go! One day all of us were getting ready except her... she comes walking in to my bathroom with just these crocs, the only shoes she could get on herself. She was ready... girlfriend does not want to be left. 

Chick-fil-a, we are slowly becoming a fan. 

She may not have much English, but she knows how to work a camera. Hold up your phone and you get this! 

Staying IN.YOUR.BED is a skill we are still working on. Sideways, but this counts! 

first time at church

We had been home just two weeks and decided it was time to go to church. We planned to just go to service, not Sunday School, and keep Nell with us. Since she is quiet as a mouse, we knew she would be ok hanging in big church with us.

My three amigos, dressed and ready for church. Nell is nailing the asian picture pose.

And she was a totally champ in service. The service was about the Sanctity of Life, a quite fitting first sermon I do believe.

And what's a Sunday at church, without lunch afterwards. Mexican where she could eat all the chips her little heart desired. Girlfriend loves her some chips and dip it!

Friday, August 8, 2014

#teamwill {the shirt}

Remember our little buddy, Will. You can read about the #teamwill movement here

Our buddy Will is about to begin his third round of chemo to kill the not cool cancer that decided to take an un-welcomed residence is his little 4 year old body. 

Will is giving the cancer the ole one two punch and is really putting up a fight. I knew cancer wouldn't stand a chance when it decided to pick on our strong oxen, Will. 

If you know me at all, you know I love a good tshirt. So when the news of Will's fight came out, I immediately told Julie, Will's momma, that a shirt would be in order. These got designed when I was in Korea and buried under the new mom of three-ness. But, as Will starts his third round of chemo, it's time to rally and show our love. 

So meet the #teamwill tshirt! 

They feature a saying very fitting of our fighter, Will- "where there's a Will, there's a way". This guy is making a way... just like I knew he would. He's running through cancer and not stopping- except those crazy side effects that have somewhat slowed and silenced him.... but don't worry, I see the light in his spunky eyes coming back. Will is back, cancer, ready for round three.

The shirts are being offered in both toddler, youth, and adult sizes. You can chose the grey or the blue, or both! They are a soft ring spun cotton. The shirts are $10 each with $3 shipping on your whole order. This will cover the cost of the shirts and any extra will be donated to lymphoma research so one day this mean ole cancer will just be something you read about in history books. Shirt orders will be taken until the 25th, when they will be ordered from the printer and shipped out to you! 

So, grab your shirt and support our little warrior! #teamwill