Or, in other words, one year! This little lady turns one today.
What a joy Lydia is. We love watching her explore and learn new things every day. She is walking all over the place and is quite proud of herself. She loves to be clapped at, and she loves to entertain us with the silly faces she makes. She is turning into quite the picky eater - what child does not like noodles? She loves to hug her dolly and to zoom the boys' cars around as well. She adores her big brothers (most of the time), and boy, can they make her giggle.
What a blessing Lydia is. In reflecting back, one year ago today, it is with such an overwhelmed heart that I remember seeing Lydia for the first time and realizing that we had a girl.
It was such an amazing moment, and we are grateful and thankful that God would choose us to bring up these boys and this sweet girl.
"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17
So, you all know that I have a slight obsession with Etsy! And, I'd love to introduce you to a new favorite Etsy shop - Ellison's with piggy-clips, korkers and more. Check it out here! And, for a chance at a super-fun giveaway, go here!
I'm absolutely positive that soon you will all see some of these designs modeled on Miss Lydia - on crocheted headbands, of course, until the girl gets more hair!!!
And, because no post of mine is complete without a picture, here you go.
So, "extravaganza" may be a bit overboard, but we did have a birthday celebration this past weekend for Samuel who turned six and Lydia who is nearly one. The pictures speak for themselves! I did include a couple of pictures of our the outside decorating - you see, Lydia's theme was a Winter ONEderland. Turns out we even had a blizzard this weekend!!!
So thankful for these two and the joy they bring to our lives! More to come on Lydia's milestone birthday when we get there!
After much anticipation and what felt like a countdown that was taking forever, it's here - Samuel's 6th birthday. The countdown dragging on forever? That's from Samuel's perspective. From our perspective it seems we were just bringing this little blondie home from the hospital. Each day leading up to today, Samuel's 6th birthday, has seemed to slip by so quickly. This boy has brought us such joy and laughter ...
Samuel has a big personality. He is so decisive, always knows exactly what he wants. His smile fills up his face as he smiles through his eyes. Samuel is strong willed, persistent and what many would describe as quite stubborn at times. Samuel loves to cuddle, and he loves to push our buttons ... sometimes at the same time. Samuel is shy but only at first. He is a night owl and prefers to sleep late in the morning. Samuel is a great little brother to Jack, and he is learning to be a great big brother to Lydia (oh, he loves her, but did I mention he likes to push our buttons? And, hers?). Samuel is a work in progress. Aren't we all?
We are so blessed by this special little man! Happy Birthday, Samuel!!! We love you and thank God for you!
A Thanksgiving Week tradition for us is to take the three days before Thanksgiving and head to a waterpark resort in the "Water Capital of the World" (go ahead, google it, it really is Wisconsin Dells!). We started this tradition eight years ago when Jack was just one, and we have gone for six of the eight last years - only taking a year off when I was pregnant with Samuel in 2004 and with Lydia just last year. After a year off, it was very clear that the boys have gotten a lot more independent and "brave."
It seems we have the most pictures of Lydia, followed by Samuel and then Jack. You see, Jack was often off with his cousin doing nine year old boy stuff. Nine year old boys can be hard to relate to at times, right Rita? How blessed we are to be able to do this with Jon and Rita and their family! I love that that Jack and Samuel enjoy and look forward to hanging out with their cousins! And, to just listen to the conversations amongst them ... it makes me giggle. We'll just leave it at that!
Happy 9th Birthday, Jack!!! Can it really be that you've entered your last year of being in the single digits? Oh Jack, you are such a joy and an adventure, as well. In this past year, you have grown so much again. Physically, I'm afraid it won't be long until you're inching up on this Mama!
Many of the descriptors I chose to describe you last year still hold true ~ you are independent, sensitive, creative, tender, persistent, insistent, loving, enthusiastic, entertaining, funny and so much more.
Jack, we love you and thank God for blessing us with you!
As I also posted last year, October 15th is the National Day of Miscarriage and Infant Loss. Of course, many of us understand that we do not just limit our reflection and rememberance to one day. We remember when our hearts ache, and it is painfully obvious that there is a piece of our hearts missing. We remember when we see other children the same age that our child(ren) would have been and we wonder what our little one(s) would have looked like, how their personalities would have seized us. We remember when we miss getting to tuck them in at night and say their bedtime prayers with them. We remember when we do not get to comfort them after a skinned knee. We remember as we make our way through family traditions. We remember when we are at the grocery store. We remember, we do not forget.
We remember and we pray for the many who have lost babies, who have lost babies early in pregnancy, who have lost babies at birth or shortly there after. We remember ...
Just an update on the adoption process - our paperwork with immigration including fingerprints and our home study "expired" on August 28th. Thus, we updated our home study over the summer and submitted our immigration extension, and we just received approval of our extension! The paperwork and process can be so overwhelming - I was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed just with these updates, how quickly I had forgotten how much effort was involved in pulling together the complete dossier last year!
Chances are we will likely have to submit another extension (or two) of our immigration paperwork and another home study update before we actually receive a referral as our extension expires next December, and the current wait time is approximately 4 years (we are approximately at the 15 month mark from our log-in-date (LID) in China). There are so many factors, however, that can impact the wait time - number of families with completed paperwork, number of families who drop out of the program, number of families adopting from the Waiting Child program, among other things. We are in the Waiting Child program as well which means that we can review referrals of little ones with special needs. This may shorten our wait time, we will see.
Although not physically a part of our family yet, China Girl holds a place in our hearts. Just this past weekend Jack was asked how many kids are in our family. This shouldn't be such a complex question, right? Well, Jack went on to explain that, in addition to him, Samuel and Lydia, there is his brother who died (this is the simplest way for him to explain it) and there is China Girl. Poor lady who asked, who knew she would get such an answer as this!
God has His plan and will bring China Girl (physically) into our family in His perfect timing. Until then, we wait and pray for this little girl who is at the end of our red thread.
“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.” –An ancient Chinese belief
We all have these phases, these chapters in our lives, right? It's not just me? Times where, even though we recognize we are unbelievably blessed, we are in a funk. Despite that this is my favorite time of year, despite that I'm loving watching the boys grow and learn with this new school year, despite watching Lydia's personality blossom every day, I'm feeling like I'm in a funk. Likely the root of this is a laziness in my relationship with God lately.
After having Owen, I journaled the following:
It seems when life moves on as normal, we get into a comfortable relationship with Christ, but when life throws you a curve ball like this, from our experience, our relationship with Him grew.We had and have hope, we could cry out to Him and know that He has a purpose in this, we don’t know what that purpose is and we may not ever understand what that purpose is, but we can cling to the hope that we have in Him.
Not saying that I want another curve ball, but I do want to re-ignite that relationship with Him. I want to focus more on prayer and set my mind there, instead of lending it to thoughts of my to-do list and instead of borrowing tomorrow's worries today. In self-reflection, it is almost comical how I needlessly worry about various things when it is clear we are not to worry.
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself."
How blessed are we though, and how blessed am I that despite my laziness and my sinner's heart, He still loves me unconditionally? It is clear to me that I truly struggle with this character trait, I am, simply said, not good at loving unconditionally. There are women in my life who model this character trait so strongly. I pray that I might use God's and their example as a reflection of where my heart longs to be.
This post is a bit on the rambling side, but it is a good reminder to me of where I am, of how I am flawed, of how I need our Saviour, of how I long for my eyes to be a reflection of one filled with the Holy Spirit and how I can change my heart to love unconditionally. Because really, how can I choose anything but this for my sweet children, my husband, my family and my friends?
May I grow to become an example to others and to my sweet children, like sweet Samuel here ... because no post, no matter how serious is complete without a picture ...
Today we got the privilege of being in an intense competition - an amazing race hosted by a friend and another family. While this was our first year participating, it was the 3rd year of the race. There were 9 families competing for the best time of getting through 10 clues / stations. Each family had a family theme - we were "Team Autumn Harvest." We had these cute tees made with our Team Autumn Harvest insignia (a little pumpkin and leaves). I must admit that I do love how they turned out (my love of Autumn and of personalization all wrapped up in one cute tee!).
The race was held at a large park and, of course, like any good race marshalls and planners, the clues and tasks had you going all over the park, back and forth. And, yes, it was intense - we literally were running from one station to the next. Lydia bounced along in her stroller - what a good sport she was!
We ended up being the first family out and crazy enough, we ended up having the best time (a little awkward since we were the rookie family and all). Our clues led us to tasks including fishing pennies out of jello with chop sticks, kicking soccer balls through hula-hoops, deciphering morse code, eating cupcakes, "bowling" basketballs down a very large and very steep hill (felt like a mountain when trying to get the balls back up it) to hit traffic cones, putting together puzzles, throwing a frisbee, untangling Christmas lights, and finding objects in a box without being able to see them. The last task was answering questions about each of the nine tasks already completed - oh boy! Some of the nine questions we remembered the detail they were asking for. The others? We had to race back to those stations and get the answer. Each task required us to work together and stay together as a family, and each family member had to participate in all of the activities. We had so much fun! Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of us completing the tasks as we were too focused on being competitive!!!
Renee (and Michelle), thank you for inviting us, and thank you for all of the planning and coordination you do to make the race amazing!! We had a blast!!
Again, it feels like I was just writing about the first day of school for the boys. Today was Jack's first day of ... gulp ... 3rd grade and Samuel's first day of full-day (Senior) Kindergarten, sniff sniff. Of course, the boys were excited while their Mama tried with everything she had in her not to break down, at least not before they got on the bus and could no longer see her.
We're praying that it is another year of growth for the boys, not just academically and socially but also that, as Nikki has so eloquently prayed for her own boys, a year where their hearts are captured by our God.
And with that, it is with anticipation, excitement and much love that we look forward to seeing the boys grow this year.
And, this little girl? She's wondering where her big brothers are going ... she will certainly miss them and their silliness while they are at school.
is on the move! Yep, she's crawling now! And, she's close to being able to pull herself up on the furniture. Not sure we're ready for this yet!
And, don't let this innocent face fool you - in addition to crawling, she has started something else - "growling" at her brothers when they take things from her. The little princess already holding her own - love it!
Lydia is reaching one milestone after another - sitting up, scooting, nearly crawling, babbling. It is so amazing to see her develop and grow. It seems to be happening so quickly though!
With each new milestone, my heart silently reflects on not getting to see Owen achieve these sweet milestones. We are absolutely blessed with the boys and Lydia, no doubt. I am keenly aware of our blessings. But, my heart still aches over a longing for our little Owen. There are, of course, events that trigger stronger emotions - seeing some other little ones at the same age that Owen would have been and even our recent family vacation. We have come a long way in our grieving process since losing Owen, but I think I will always associate being at a cottage with our grieving process as we also stayed at a cottage after Owen's birth. I was looking at the picture of Jack, Samuel and Lydia that I posted. Even that picture makes it obvious to me that there should have been another little one between Samuel and Lydia.
I know that there will always be a piece of my heart missing, but, as I've said before, I also know that God is and remains sovereign. And, I know that Owen and his brief life have impacted me beyond words. I know that there are many others out there too that are missing a piece of their hearts after having experienced loss. For all of you, I continue to pray that you are finding peace and hope in your journey ...
Check out what this girl is doing - sitting up so good and enjoying "the beach" in our backyard.
We're renting a "lake house" for the week - okay, so it's a cottage, but it is on a lake. Lake house just sounds so much nicer. Sometimes it seems like renting a cottage is just camping, upgraded, at least while packing. But, the preparation is so worth it. It is beautiful here and God has spoiled us here with unbeatable weather on our first full day. The place we are staying is beautiful as well, and a bonus - it has wireless internet (I think that is how Jason sold me on this place) and a fantastic kitchen.
We spent our first day enjoying the lake. The boys loved tooling around in the paddle boat, playing in the sand and just being boys.
We also explored the nearby town, known for the fictional Hodag. I'm wondering who is going to have nightmares tonight?
The boys are out on the pier fishing, so Liddybug and I must sign off to go see if they've caught "the big one" yet.
Longing to serve with joy and desiring to lead, with my amazing husband, our precious children to have hearts that beat for our Lord. Rejoicing in the love and grace of our Father and the endless blessings He has given us.