and there you have it…



the results are in!

Thank you all so much for your feedback on the last post. Most everyone is actually on the same page, when does that ever happen? So weekly it is! I now have to find some way of reminding myself to do it, I may end up with post it notes all over my house again. They actually work fairly well. Except last time my children collected them all from the entire house like a scavenger hunt and created a mural on their wall with them. Yeah…so maybe I’ll find another system.

Tomorrow is our last home study visit! Hopefully, assuming the fire extinguisher passes inspection. Who would have thought a silly fire extinguisher could cause so much stress, not I said the fly! I’m plugging away on our family profile book. I’ve managed to gather way more pictures than could ever fit and yet somehow still don’t have exactly what I want or need when I sit down to put the actual pages together. I’m giving myself the week to take pictures of our daily lives, so those we see on a regular basis, the paparazzi is coming to town! Also next Monday looks like the perfect beach day, so I promised myself we’d go if I got the book done by then.

I’ll leave you with this little gem I found digging through photos. It was our 3rd anniversary, I was 6 months pregnant with Grant. Which is impossible, because look at the babies!

we were so little, also I want my hair short again
we were so little, also I want my hair short again

home studies and head games

So yeah this adoption thing is rolling. Things are speeding up, I feel like I’ve added another part-time job lately. I have only read 1 fiction book this year, and for me, that’s huge. I had to cut myself off so I could get work done. We had our first home study visit this week, yay! It was the next day that I caved and allowed myself one actual good book, finished it last night and was back to work this morning. Made calls all morning and virtually no progress on the adoption. I got a lot of other bills and things paid and ran my head into a hundred dead ends on the adoption front. But things are still drawing to a close, I can actually see the end of our part in this process, I can taste it. 5 days till our second home study visit and then second week in February is the final visit. Assuming I can our homework packet done and wrap up the last to-dos from the home study visit in time, which I will, we will be making our profile book next month. That’s the last step for us. Once that’s done, we’re ‘in waiting’ and we sit around and wait for the call.

And try to find the rest of the money. The biggest chunk is due with the baby. We can’t officially apply for most grants until the home-study is complete, but I’ve started a few applications anyway. They are long, and crazy, and after all we’ve already done, I will eat them for breakfast. So there’s that outlet and then there’s magic and miracles. Not to say those two things are the same, just saying I’d be happy for either of them to come through. Then there’s fundraising, I hear people say things like fund me and kickstarter and normally I’d be all like yes another thing to learn and research about! (yes I know I’m a nerd) But right now I’m more like please someone just tell me which one is supposed to be good for this thing. Anybody? What will work for an adoption fundraiser? Just tell me. Please, please, pretty please.

So now that we are this close, I feel like I’m about to go into labor. I need to have everything ready! AND like I haven’t even gotten pregnant yet all at the same time. One minute I’m researching ways and equipment to re-lactate and the next I’m realizing I still haven’t shown Neil the list of potential names. Part of me wants to have everything prepared and the other part of me wonders how I’m going to handle it if I have EVERYTHING ready and the call still doesn’t come for months and months and months and months. I mean it is a real possibility, but so are the people we met at our training who didn’t even finish their profile book before they were matched or only waiting a few weeks or few months after being put into waiting. It also feels weird getting everything ready for a baby that could be a year or more away still, it makes me feel fake somehow. Like this is all a game of pretend and I’m not really an expecting mom because I’m not pregnant and I don’t know when. I really never realized what a head game this was all going to be.

happy birthday Grant

Dear Grant Neil V,

I had intentions of making this a sentimental slop fest. You are my first-born, the day you entered your new life in the outside world was the same day I enter my new life of motherhood. You were the one who made me a mother, in all its rosy glow. However, as I listened to you throw your umpteenth screaming fit tonight you have reminded me that motherhood is more than rosy glow. It’s also temper tantrums and nervous breakdowns, half of them mine.

I remember when you were born and the midwife laid you on my chest, I couldn’t believe you were finally here! I had deluded myself into thinking you would be early, like I was. You, however, gave me first lesson in the patience of motherhood before you were ever born, showing up 12 days past my due date. I expected everything to come so naturally with you, but the first time I held you I remember thinking how do I do this? this feels so weird? am I holding him right? Great first time mother emotions! It’s a wonder to me some days that you survived your first year. We really didn’t know what we were doing with you. Every time you cried someone would hand you to me and tell me you were hungry, it didn’t matter if you’d just ate 30 mins ago. I didn’t know any better and I nursed you around the clock, it’s a wonder you weren’t 100 lbs.

You were the happiest most active little baby and toddler we’d ever seen, until your sister and brother were born. You rolled over at 2 months to the day and proceed to do it again and again and again every day after. You crawled at 5 1/2 months, walked at 10 months and generally ran us into the ground every day. You were so darn happy about it though we certainly didn’t fault you for it. Most nights I just fell asleep with you at 8:30. 

I try to keep the other children out of these letters and focus on the one I’m writing too. But with you it’s harder, so much of who you are in wrapped up in your big brotherness. When you were about 8-9 months I remember rocking you to sleep at night praying to God to let me have another baby. I wanted so badly to give you a brother or a sister, for you to have a play mate and friend, someone to stick by you your whole life. Most days I think you’re happy about those prayers. You are an amazing big brother. Sure you push, bite and generally bully your sister at times. But you also spontaneously give her hugs and tell her she’s beautiful and you love her. But what amazes me is how you look out for her, always making sure she’s safe. Now with Jacob we’ve seen another side of you blossom. You’re older and more aware this time, and you’ve been so careful and sweet to your brother. I remember when we came home and told you your going to have a brother. You were so excited we were having a ‘boy like you’ and you’ve so patiently waited for him to get ‘bigger and bigger to play with you.’ 

It’s hard to sum up four years in one letter. There is so much more about your birth and your life I want to say, but there will be many more birthdays to tell your story.

Tonight all I need you to know is even when you’re screaming your head off, and getting out of your bed over and over again, I still love you. We’ve grown together, you and I. Before you were born I didn’t know I was capable of this kind of love, my heart has grown 100 times over to fit it all. 

I love you bunches.


four christmases and a funeral

I’m torn. Do write about the title, which I’ve decided to use regardless of my decision, or the year. It seems I should write about the year in review, it is New Year’s Eve. Though it’s really just another day without a party. Kids seem to have killed that party thing dead. It seems to matter to everyone else though, so maybe?

But what about all the Christmas memories? Like Jena falling out the window right before Christmas dinner? Or our spaceship earthesque Christmas with my sister attending via Skype, even though it was two in the AM there? What about our trip home from the funeral that ended up taking two days, instead of 5 hours? Or Santa’s phone call? Or? Or?

I can’t help thinking about this year though. It’s been a doosy. In college I was used to my world being turned upside down every few months. I’d take stress tests and be under ‘unberable’ amounts of stress every time. I had always ‘just moved’ or ‘just changed jobs.’ Then there was the whole getting married thing, that brought a little stress. Then there was all his changing jobs and both of our changing school situations. Crazy was the norm.

But then Grant was born, we moved to Orlando and things actually settled. For about 2-3 years things were relatively calm. Sure Jena came, but she was planned. We both had steady (non-commission) paychecks! We’d lived in the same area, even the same house for two years! We were obviously getting bored.

So to spice it up a bit we decided to start the year with an unplanned pregnancy. SURPRISE!

Immediately following that, my sister decides to move HALF WAY ACROSS THE WORLD! Running away from the mayhem that my family now brings everywhere we go, no doubt.

The very same month my sister takes off Neil’s Uncle Steve dies, while we are there with the family in Gainesville. Meanwhile my sister has been quarantined in South Korea for Swine flu at the peak of the pandemic.

A few months to deal with the shock, grief, try to catch your breath and Jacob arrives! Early of course, this being the year of unexpected EVERYTHING.

Starting to feel that life is returning to normal and oh guess what? Jacob has a dairy intolerance too. What? Not just milk like Grant? ALL dairy this time? Oh that’s just swell! I always wanted to be a vegan! Just in time for the holidays. Good thing I have no use for casseroles or baked goods OF ANY KIND!!

The my Grandma dies, and off I go with Jacob across country. As if dealing with grief weren’t enough add scouring every airport and covered dish for food I can actually eat, FUN!

Three days home from the trip that took 10 times as long as it was supposed to and the Christmases begin. The first was great, though the absence of Uncle Steve was a gaping hole no one wanted to address. The second was great, though the kids were getting a bit worn. By the third they were delirious and screaming. Add the musical instruments the recieved for gifts and Neil and I were beelining it for the door. By the fourth we just let the kids open theres and ended it, finishing our gifts to each other after they were in bed.

Reading it all again exhausts me, doing it all exhausted me. In fact the one over-riding feeling of this whole year has been exhaustion. There has been good, there has been joy. Watching our big kids grow closer to each other and now their new brother has been an amazingly unexpected joy. Watching Jacob period has been blessing beyond measure. Above all I’ve learned, no matter what I plan, God directs. I tattooed it on my foot so I’d never forget.

It’s been a stressful and grief filled year, but I look at the pictures below and my heart is full. Many thanks to Jon Shuler for capturing my family so perfectly, every time I look at these I smile. This is what I’m remembering from this year.

our little family


my little joy
little man
little man
Jena bena
melt my heart

Notice the two sets of legs in the background. You didn’t really think we’d leave poor Jacob with those two did you?

happy anniversary!

Today marks my one year blogaversary. Yippie! It’s been a fun year for me. I hope you all have had as much fun with it as I have. I know many of you probably are new so I’ve decided to highlight a few of the favorites.

Ok so maybe this one wasn’t a favorite, but it was the first and I felt it fitting. This was the maiden voyage.

This was one of the earliest posts that rivaled newer entries for months afterward. I’m not entirely sure why it’s a favorite, but you guys seem to like it so here it is, u mean you don’t remember things?

To all my pregnant readers. I feel your pain. my you look like you’re about to have that baby!

This seems to be a fan favorite video post, and it’s not of my kids. I will try not to hold that against you. I don’t blame you though, I can’t help but laugh EVERY time I watch or think about it. And I misspelled the title and apparently never fixed it, oh well. Here’s whose the crazy parent now.

Here’s one of your favorites and mine. And since New Moon just came out I find it fitting to add this to the post today. Sorry ladies there’s no Edward Cullen. the new Cullen family.

And finally here is one of my all time favorites. It’s of the kids when Grant was two and a half, Jena was only 10 months old, and we didn’t know we were pregnant with our little Jacob yet. Here’s something I won’t do for years, sleeping in.

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