2014 Recap: what a year it has been!

Last December at this time we were driving home from Virginia and maximizing the car time to goal plan for the coming year. We had hopes, dreams, and items to check-off our ‘to do’ list. We were ready and excited about the coming year!

I’m so thankful we didn’t know then what we were driving back to. We got home and almost immediately faced cancer (again). Suddenly our hopes and goals went out the window and each day felt like the best we could do was just get through it. And get through it we did, all by God’s grace.

Spring rolled around, the snow melted, the hair slowly grew back and we got the good news of ‘all clear’! After having had to postpone all adoption plans we were eager to get back to it and get all the updated approvals we needed. Summer came and it looked like we would be able to bring our boy home in September. We started hoping and dreaming and prepping for another son. Little did we know that by August we would lose our referral and be back to square one. Telling our kids the sad news was miserable. Their tears and ‘why’s’ echoed what we felt in our hearts, too. Why had we gone through so much and come so far to get stopped once again? Only God knows and again, it felt like the best we could do was just get through one day at a time.

Leaves fell and autumn emerged, both kids were in school full-time. My life did not look at all how I had pictured it back when we plotted out 2014 goals. So now what? We decided it would be best for me to get another job and try to embrace the season of life God had given us. Adoption was put on the shelf indefinitely as our agency made it clear that our odds were not good.

Back at the end of 2013 I had written in my journal that I was praying God would be glorified in our new year of 2014. What I meant was that I was hoping our adoption would speed through in record time and amazing ease, all to God’s credit. I certainly did not picture God receiving glory through our struggles! Glory came through victories!

Right? Right?!

Well, God is good and he was glorified in our 2014, struggles and all. He carried us through a really scary time of cancer. He strengthened our marriage as we sat side by side at chemo. He grew the character and faith in our children as they watched sickness and then health restored. He surrounded us with community, both old and new, that supported us, loved us, and prayed us through to clear scans.

God is good when we lost our referral and through tear-stained cheeks he gave us a sense of HIS peace. We had confidence that if God wanted that boy to join our family, then he would have made a way. For whatever reason that way was not made and God was glorified as we learned to trust him more. God was glorified when we broke the news to family and friends and they responded with love and not anger. God was glorified when our kids decided to still earnestly pray for sweet boy, knowing he would now not be their brother, but trusting God would give him a family to love.

God was glorified most this past year when through all our struggles we learned to trust him more, no matter the circumstances. I would like to hope 2015 would be an easier year in comparison. I am all too eager to say goodbye to 2014!! But, I also know that no matter what is in store for us this coming year, we will be okay because God is still God and his love endures forever.

You know what? I bet you had a crazy year, too. Maybe you faced struggles, transitions, health issues, loss, and unmet expectations. Maybe you are headed into a year of difficult circumstances and are wondering how you will make it through. I don’t have any grand words of wisdom, but I can say with confidence that God’s grace is sufficient and his love is enough to get you through each and every one of those days. He is most glorified in our lives not when when everything is picture perfect, but when we truly trust him in all things.

My hopes and dreams for 2015 are different than last year. My prayer is simply that I would trust God more and my hope is to love others with the lavish love God has given. (I can’t wait to love a certain little girl that currently lives half a world away!)

My prayer for you is that no matter how crazy and messy your year was or will be, that you would experience the never-stopping, never-giving-up, always and forever love of Jesus. His love that would come to this messy earth to live among us and offer the greatest sacrifice to give us a HOPE.

One of the best moments of this past year happened on a muddy river bank, serving as a visual reminder that it doesn’t matter the mess we are standing in ~ God is glorified.

MissE made the decision to be baptized, professing her faith in Jesus as her Savior.

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Happy New Year! May you experience God’s love and faithfulness in 2015.

Making dreams come true

It’s the county fair week and after sitting it out the past two years, we caved and bought tickets. Two years changes things. Junior man can now go on rides, although he prefers the tamest ones. MissE on the other hand has grown into a full-blown dare devil. She went on all the crazy, big kid rides while I sat on the sidelines and tried to keep breathing. Dreams came true for my dear husband, too. After years of wanting to ride the camel, he finally got his chance.

We had agreed that if we did the county fair we would not go to the state fair. But as MissE was whipping and spinning on the rides we got a call that she had won state fair tickets from the library. Looks like we get to do this all over again in a few weeks! Dreams coming true :)

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Summer fun

Summer is is flying by and we are loving it. We kicked off the summer with our slip and slide, which soon became the neighborhood hit.

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The following week MissE got to go to a VBS day camp with her BFF.

 

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After that, my bff stopped by for a quick visit. She came because they were meeting with their social working because, you guessed it, they are ADOPTING!! It is so wonderful when my good friends become adopting friends. :)

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Somewhere in there was Father’s day and we celebrated having such cool dads with ice cream. We love our dads!

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Then MissE had soccer camp (she was one of two girls that signed up for the co-ed camp). She loved it and Junior and I loved our mornings at the park.

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Then summer felt like it officially started with a trip to the beach.

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Then there were a couple cabin trips (we hope to make a lot more!!)

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I’d like to just camp out in this chair for the rest of the summer.

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We even got to bring some friends to the cabin!

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This week was volleyball camp. Hello to the era of ridiculous sports t-shirts. Really?

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We got to spend one more beach day with some dear friends before they pack up and move away for a month or two.

 

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Finally, while picking up an item we purchased from craigslist the seller let MissE try out his little violin. He was so impressed with her creative skills he exclaimed, “She can have it! You must get her lessons!” Hhhhmmmm, is creative really the word to use for a child playing a violin? Who wants to give her lessons?!

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That is run-down of our past few weeks. Somewhere in there I also have been teaching three classes and have managed to stay up-to-date on grading. Happy Summer!!

Goodbye K

MissE officially graduated from Kindergarten! It was a bittersweet day. I am pumped to be done with drop off/pick up, but I tucked a little girl into bed with tears in her eyes. It has been a wonderful year for her and it is hard to say goodbye. It was her teacher’s first year of teaching and she was so enthusiastic. She cried today, too and sent the kids off with a 15 minute DVD chronically their year. MissE never would sing me her Spanish songs that they sang everyday in class. Luckly, they are all on the video :)

Here she is on day one.

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And here she is as a 1st grader!! Woohoo! We celebrated with dinner and a night out at an indoor climbing park. We are proud of you, girl!

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And now we will spend the rest of the day watching the video over and over again, looking through the year’s portfolio, and writing ‘I miss you’ cards to friends. Transition is never easy. Thankfully, we have the For the Kids Carnival on Sunday to look forward to!!

An unexpected weekend

Time to catch up with the ol’ blog. A few weekends ago my parents came down to watch the kiddos so we could go to an adoption parenting conference. We were really excited about a little getaway and for a chance to learn and sharpen our parenting skills. Unfortunately, the weather had different plans and by the time my parents had arrived we were in the middle of a blizzard and our flights had been cancelled. Disappointed is an understatement. We had a very nice weekend, it just looked a little different than we planned.

My mom made my favorite cinnamon french toast for breakfast.

 

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My dad build us a little mini-deck. He had to shovel a path to the door first and he built it in the freezing cold. We watched his work from inside. Great job, dad! :)

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The kids love it! We love it! Now we have a way to get to our nice fenced in backyard without going around the house.

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We really put my parents to work. Later my dad gave Junior a much needed haircut.

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My mom taught MissE how to sew a sampler. She has been wanting to learn since reading Felicity.

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My parents are amazing! We were sad to miss the conference, but really enjoyed having them here!

Thankful Thursday: A little girl’s dream come true

I have wanted to take MissE to the American Girl Bistro for some time, but each time I picked a date something came up.

My sister called on Monday to say she was going with her girl and meeting our aunt there, but we already had plans and couldn’t make it.

As it turns out, the weather has been unpleasant here and our plans got cancelled. So, with a few minutes notice I loaded up the kids and took off for the mall.

Even Junior got his own lunch buddy doll, which he thought was really fun.

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The girls had a fun time reading ‘discussion questions’ back and forth.

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Then there was some shopping.

‘”Aunt Margaret, look how pretty this dress is! Isn’t it pretty? Wouldn’t my doll look beautiful in this dress!”

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There were some happy little girls that day.

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Junior was not neglected as the mall also has a Lego store.

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Junior was rewarded for enduring all the pink.

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Thanks to Aunt Margaret for making little girls’ dreams come true! We had a fun time!

 

Goodbye lockers!

Do you remember the locker room?

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Well, after a lot of hard work it no longer looks like this. Let’s talk about the hard work first. My mom and I spent an entire day peeling off wall paper. Let this be a lesson to all people. Do not use wallpaper. Just don’t. Then my dad filled in the countless holes in the wall (some from screws, some from my digging at the wallpaper with a knife). Next, James and a friend sanded the entire room. Let this be the next lesson for all people. Do not use textured paint. Just don’t. And if you feel that you absolutely love textured paint. Use it in one room, not the entire house. Okay, so after the walls were peeled, sanded, and prepped it was time to paint.

We found this lovely shade of purple in oops paint and there were two cans. Side note, when using two cans of oops paint, mix them together before painting to insure color consistency. Or if you want to be like us, don’t mix them and end up having to paint the walls three times. If you like painting, maybe this is your better option.

All kidding aside, after A LOT of hard work. The purple princess room is ready and being occupied!

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It is a little girl’s dream.

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I’m happy, she’s happy. On to the next room! Who wants to come help me paint? ;)

party, party, party

Our baby girl turned six! Where has the time gone? This year we threw her an actual party, with eight friends and a brother.

Here is the ‘craft’ table all ready to go. That’s right, I planned a craft. What has the world come to?

DSC_0070DSC_0108Next came team games. Let me introduce you to the Speedy PJamie Tigers.

DSC_0110And the Chocolate Chip Pancakes. And our unfinished basement.

DSC_0111They are off on the pajama shuffle, wearing mom and dad’s robe and slippers.

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Pancake Flop

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Later there were musical pillows. I can’t remember who won this game?? It’s hard to tell.

DSC_0163The whole group.

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DSC_0194Then it was on to Pinata aswesomeness.

James rigged the pinata so it would go up and down as well as side to side.

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It was harder than they thought, but even more fun.

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CANDY!

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I made cupcakes with the best frosting ever, but don’t take my word for it, just ask the Pioneer Woman.

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Happy Birthday sweet girl!

DSC_0276It was a pajama party. Bed head required.

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It was a fun time and MissE declared, ‘the best day ever!’. Even better considering she had the afternoon to play with new toys.

Guess what we did today?

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The room is now a pretty shade of purple and ready to be transformed into “Tinkerbell’s World”. This is what MissE exclaimed after seeing the finished color. Good thing we had already bought that Tinkerbell’s bedroom set for her upcoming birthday. ;)

I love being a mom

I really do. It is a tiring job for sure and I have the circles under my eyes to prove it. But, there are those moments that make it all feel so worth it, like I won the lottery of life.

A few favorite moments with MissE this past week include:

 

1. Watching her read chapter books and I mean speed-read, just like her momma. Her goal was to read a book a day. I think she made it through 4 books and then lost steam. Still, 4 chapter books in 4 days is a feat for a five year old. I can’t wait until she sees what we got her for Christmas. Ssshhhh. It’s the Felicity book series.

2. Taking her to the secret shop at school to buy Christmas gifts for all of us….all by herself.

She was so excited. She wrote out a list and I could tell she was really thinking through what each of us would like. She would randomly ask questions like, “Mom, what is your favorite coffee?”

Ah, she knows what I love!

I dropped her off at the ‘shop’ and picked her up with a bag full of wrapped gifts. She said, “Mom, I can’t wait until you open your gift. You will give me a big hug. I can’t wait until dad opens his present. He will love it so much he will jump out of his chair!”

I can’t wait to see what she bought us, either! I feel like a kid again, longing to shake the packages and see if I can peek in through the cracks.

3. Hearing what she wanted to give her teacher for Christmas. I asked MissE what she thought we should get her teacher for a gift. She said, “Mom, I never hear my teacher talk about Jesus. We should get her a bible. Maybe then she would know Jesus and talk about him.”

I explained to her about it being a public school and that there are rules about teachers talking about Jesus and how some students might not believe in Jesus. She thought about it a minute and responded, “Well, I still want to give my teacher a bible, because I want her to know that I do believe in Jesus.”

  ~ I’m not sure what to do here. Any tips? On one hand I absolutely love her resolution and pure faith. On the other hand we don’t know her teacher, I have been a seriously delinquent parent as far as school goes, and I don’t really want the reputation of being one of *those* families. Although, truly, we probably are *that* family.

4. Lastly, I picked up the book Heaven is for Real for kids from the library.

Heaven is for Real for Kids: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

MissE has been pouring over the pages. I wasn’t all that impressed with the book and was somewhat surprised when I realized she loved it. She has been talking about how she can’t wait to get to heaven to see God. Her enthusiasm is contagious. I look forward to heaven, too.

This is a good life we have here, but this is definitely not our best life.

Can I get an Amen?!