Sunday, November 25, 2012

How one little seven pounder wrecked us forever.

This time last year, we had just spent a week and half frantically preparing ourselves and our home for our first foster placement. 

We had just taken the ten-week foster care course to become licensed as part-time respite care providers.  That all changed at the end of the ten weeks when our social worker asked us to consider taking in a newborn baby boy as a full-time placement.

We were faced with a life-changing decision that had to be made in just a few days.  After much prayer and conversations with our family and friends, we made the decision to welcome this little one into our home, not knowing whether he'd be with us a month, a year, or a lifetime. 

We sprung into full-time crazy mode. We had not one baby item in the house.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch. 

I immediately started cleaning out the guest room, repainting, ordering baby furniture, and polling friends to find out what the heck babies even needed. 

Though we had just finished a ten-week foster care class- it wasn't a course about how to actually BE a first-time parent.  


Brian had never changed a diaper.  I hadn't babysat young children.  To say we were clueless was a TEENSY bit of an understatement. 

In the week before the placement, friends started dropping off diapers, wipes, clothes, boppies, and all things baby.  

By the time the day of the placement arrived, we were ready. 

Yeah right.  I hadn't slept in a week and lost about ten pounds due to nerves. 

We drove to our friend's house who were the foster parents that had been providing short-term respite care for the baby.  It was absolutely surreal driving over to their house, knowing that when we left, we would be in charge of a 7 lb, two-week old baby boy.  


We arrived at their house, thankful that he had been in the care of families that we knew and loved, and who we could ask crazy questions about parenting to and wouldn't think we were dumb.  (Or maybe they did, but they didn't tell us.)

After a a few hours of getting acclimated, we packed up the car, buckled him in and started home.  And he started crying.   I started sweating. 

Turns out that the little peanut was just hungry, so one bottle down and a few burps later, and we were good to go.  

As we entered our home that night, carrying that beautiful, sweet boy, our lives were forever changed.

Baby J, oh how you have wrecked us. 

It took all of two minutes and we were smitten.  And the crazy thing was that we knew you weren't ours.  In fact, you still aren't. . . legally.   But that has not, for one minute, affected how we love you.  

Caring for you has opened up our eyes to a world that previously we had glossed over.  In our suburban, middle class bubble we had been able to ignore much of the brokenness and pain that many experienced around us.  But not anymore. 

You have wrecked us.  And I am so thankful.  

Baby J, you have taught us how to love and not to expect anything in return.  Caring for you has forced us to open ourselves up and to risk everything in order to be obedient to God's calling. 

What a year this has been, sweet boy.  You have no idea the many lives you have already impacted.  

As I hold you each night, I am continually reminded that you are His, not mine.  And though I love you with all of my being, you are loved by our God more.  Because of that, you will do great things, Baby J.  

Thank you for wrecking us.  We are indelibly changed forever.  

We love you. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

So Much Good in One Day

Yesterday was a big day! 

My beautiful sister popped out her third little half-caucasian/half-asian sensation.  

Are they not the cutest family????

Welcome to the world, Landon David! Aunt Leslie will be there next week to give you plenty of smooches! 

To add to an already great day, I got a phone call last night from our facilitator that we have our Tyson's passport. (A few weeks early than anticipated!) 

Next, we've got to schedule our embassy appointment for him.  Once that is done, and our lawyer has attended the embassy appointment, then Tyson's visa is issued a few weeks later, and we are good to go!  Hoping to travel in 7-8 weeks!!!!! 

With travel to DRC quickly approaching, we are in full-swing of raising funds for those expenses.  A bloggy friend (bliend) and fellow adoptive parent from Atlanta has offered to help us with a great fundraiser for the Christmas season! 

Jessica and her husband made and sold these super-cute ornaments last year when they were fundraising for their own adoption.  This year, they've offered to make them for us and help us sell them!!! 

Check over HERE for the details!  We would love for y'all to share this fundraiser with your friends and family! 

*I've added a paypal button to the top right of my blog if you live out of town and would like to order the ornaments!

*If you live in town, we'll have ornaments to sell here. If you would like a set, send me a message or email me, so we know how many to have available! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bandit. The Most Expensive Free Dog.

A year ago, I decided that Knox, our goofy, lovable, and extremely bored black lab, needed a buddy. 

We were finishing up foster care classes and expecting that we'd focus on doing short-term respite care. 

While waiting for a referral in our adoption, we thought it would be the perfect time to add another four-legged member to our family with no immediate placement in the future months. 

Enter Bandit.

Through a random connection, I met a woman who had a sweet puppy that she had found wandering and couldn't keep.  She sent us some pictures and he looked quirky enough to fit in just fine with our family.  

We talked it over with Knox and he licked us.   We had approval. 

I drove halfway between Montgomery and Mobile to meet her and pick him up.  Brought him home, let him loose in the backyard with Knox and immediately, they were best buds. 

We thought we had hit the jack-pot.  

Free dog.  

Best buddies.  

Easy Peasy. 

Til a week later, when Bandit and Knox went missing from our backyard and just about gave me a heart attack. 

Three hours later, a local vet called to say they had checked the microchip of a really big, black lab and he was ours.  And by the way, he had a scrawny, yellow mutt there too, did I know anything about him???? 

Bandit apparently had some stealth moves and had kicked out the fence board and proceeded to convince Knox to wiggle his fat butt through the fence to head out for some shenanigans.  

The people who found them in the next neighborhood over said Knox had been swimming in the pool. 

I'm sure Bandit had convinced him that was a good idea too.

So, in went an electric fence.  

Not so free anymore. 

It's a good thing he's so cute, that Bandit. 

Good ol' snarly face also decided he needed to redo some of our furniture and woodwork.  

One new windowsill later..... Bandit was getting a little expensive. 

In all fairness, poor Bandit was still trying to adjust to being wrestled to the ground on an hourly basis by an 80lb black lab, so it was a little much for him when only two weeks after we brought him home, we brought home a 7lb. baby boy that squeaked and cried and pooped and took all of our attention.  

Oopsie. Thought we were only doing respite foster care.  

Sorry for the major life change, Bandit. 

But, he really does love our sweet Baby J, and he is very gentle with him.  At least when he isn't running and hiding from Baby J coming after him with his push toy. 

Happy 1st Anniversary to our neurotically spastic, snaggletooth snarling, passing gas that smells like rotten eggs every five minutes, sweetie pie dog.  

We love you, Bandit! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Secret to my Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the ways that I show people I love them is through cookies.  

Homemade chocolate chip cookies. 

I started making them while living in Atlanta and leading bible studies with high school girls. 

Don't ever tell me teenage girls don't eat. 

Cause they could take DOWN some cookies.  
*Disclaimer, since the post first was written, some of those girlies have complained that I never made them homemade cookies.  Wrong.  I did...and they actually preferred slice and bake at that time. So that's what I went with.... ahem...Courtney and Allie.....*

Since then, they've gone with friends on planes to Africa.  To birthday parties and Christmas parties. To families who just had babies.  On our vacations.  To people that I just needed to remind that I loved them very much. 

I think I have now made about a bazillion batches. 

People have asked how I make them so I thought I'd share my big, secret recipe with the world. 

Here it is . . . 

Wait for it . . . 

I use the recipe off the really popular yellow and black chocolate-chip bag.  

That's it. 

Well, kinda.

I adjust a teensy bit and the difference is in the thickness of the cookies. 

Here's what you'll need: 

2 3/4 cup of PACKED flour.  (This is about a 1/2 cup more than the recipe calls for)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
2 sticks of butter (I use them straight out of the fridge, they don't need to be softened)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Set your oven for 375. 

Pack your flour, then add the salt and baking soda to it in a small bowl.   

Mix together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.  (I don't have a fancy-schmancy stand alone mixer, a regular one does just fine!)

Then add the eggs and mix.  

Start to add the dry ingredients slowly and mix well.  You want the batter to be thick.  Once all the flour is mixed in, then stir in the chocolate chips.  

This is the part of the process where I take samples.  JUST to make sure it tastes okay.  

Next, I drop them by teaspoon onto a baking sheet, about this size....

The good news is that they aren't going to flatten out, so you can stick them pretty close together! 

I usually leave mine in for only 7 minutes.  The directions on the bag says to leave them a few minutes longer.  If they are SLIGHTLY browned on the tips of the cookie, it's time to take them out.  You may think they aren't done, but they'll stiffen up a bit. 

You can see just a little brown on the tips.  Take em' out! 

They taste great just out of the oven, but I think they taste even better the next day! 

I made these yesterday for a VERY special little boy whom I LOVE very much! Happy 1st Birthday Baby J, so grateful for this year we have had with you! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Our Marathon.

I'm not the fastest or most graceful of runners.

Brian says I run like a baby giraffe.  (You're welcome for that visual.)

Despite my athletic prowess, it feels like we've been running a marathon with this adoption.

When we started, I hoped it'd be a sprint with the finish line in full view in less than a year's time.


That was a joke.

We've been jogging instead at a slow, slow pace.

Stopped a few times with some leg cramps.

Started running slowly again.

Stopped again for some water breaks.

Had to get back on the course after going in the wrong direction.  Twice.

Running what feels like most of time uphill and against the wind.

But we are starting to catch glimpses of the finish line.

Motivated daily to keep running by the crowds on the sidelines who are cheering us on.

To say we've had a lot of supporters in this race is an understatement.

Many have run alongside us the entire way.  Praying and encouraging us non-stop.

Others have been handing us sustenance along the way, keeping us going, making sure we've had what we needed to finish the race.

People have been there at different points of this long race, stepping in just when we needed them.

Helping us in so many different ways.

Assisting us in getting our background check and clearances processed quickly.

Giving financially.

Providing baby items.

Sharing our story and our need with others.

Giving us wisdom and direction when we weren't sure if we could finish the race.

Reminding us why we were running in the first place.

So. Many. Cheerleaders.

I've just got to share some of them with you today.

~Becky, my friend from middle school, read about the DRC and the orphan crisis in some of my blog posts wanted to do something. So she decided that she was going to donate the proceeds from her garage sale in NJ last year to our adoption.  I haven't even seen her person yet to hug her neck and thank her, so I'll thank her publicly by putting up this awesome picture of us from twenty years ago.

9th grade- Becky second from left in the back row. I'm next to her  on the right. Fresh off a spiral perm. 

~Tucker, friend from Montgomery and mother of three little ones under four, asked families to donate to our adoption instead bringing gifts to her two oldest kids birthday party.  It's a tradition I'd love to incorporate with our family one day too!

~Allison, my sister and best friend who I do not get to see nearly enough, decided that she would use her talent as a photographer to help us fundraise.  She spent all of last November (in the midst of coaching field hockey and caring for her little ones) taking pictures of area families for their Christmas card photos.  Instead of paying her, she asked them to donate to our adoption.  All of this was a surprise to us until she presented us a $500 check last Christmas.

~Toni, high school senior, founder of "The Least of These" ministry, which she created to help families who are adopting.  She tie-dyes t-shirts and created "The Least of These" bumper stickers to sell with the proceeds going to adopting families.  She helped bring this little guy home and she's helped us bring Tyson home.

~Kaye, mom to Toni, who showed up at 5:30 in the morning to help us sell coffee and muffins at our garage sale to raise money for the adoption.  She's one of our biggest cheerleaders in this journey and she advocates for so many families that are adopting. 
Toni and Kaye in Ethiopia this summer

~Friends (and strangers!) from Montgomery who donated items to sell in our two yard sales last year to raise money for the adoption, including a brand-new video camera that we raffled off on the blog.

~Jennifer, friend from Montgomery, gave 20% the proceeds of the sale of the goods in her Curves Gym  toward our adoption. I wrote about it here last year.

~The hundreds of people who came to our Chick-fil-a spirit night a year ago and bought a combo meal, or some waffle fries, or a sweet tea.  Every single purchase, no matter how small, has helped to bring our son home.

~The many, many friends and family that have sent us facebook messages, emails, and cards- encouraging us in the journey and celebrating with us as we reach each milestone in the process.

~Countless friends, family, and strangers who have donated so, so generously and sacrificially to our adoption fund.

I can NOT imagine us having to run this race alone.

Thank you for being our cheerleaders, our running partners, and our coaches.

Thank you for encouraging us, loving us, and challenging us to keep pressing forward.

Though our marathon is not yet over and there may be some more hills to run, the home stretch is near.

This baby giraffe and her husband can't wait to cross the finish line. 

Sidenote: This will be the only type of marathon I run.  I have no plans of physically RUNNING a  marathon.  Ever.  Thank you very much.