Monday, March 31, 2014

March MADNESS is Over!

I am not talking about basketball either. I am referring to the craziest March we have ever had.
First of all I went on a cruise, then came home and immediately started a new job and a week after that we moved. So, on to some details.

March 8th I sailed away (for the first time ever) on the Celebrity Cruise Liner out of Ft. Lauderdale. This was also the first time I left JG for an extended period of time. There was quite a bit of anxiety on both accounts before I left but in the end, and like always, none of those worries came true. Good grief when am I going to learn just to trust and obey!
It was a fabulous time and I can't wait to do it again but this time with my hubby and kids in tow.

Enjoy the pics and if you know me then you know they will be out of order. :-)
Our view at dinner every night

Sailing away

The 4 amigos. 
In Keywest


On the back of the ship at night. It was very windy, in case you couldn't tell. 

I got a makeover in Keywest.

I don't know what was so funny, but love this picture. 

Formal dinner night.
Our ship.
Dessert the first night

The dining room.

Just one of the many animals that visited our room each night. 

Pool side. 

Any guesses where we are?



A picture of a picture. Formal dinner night.
The amazing waiter we had every night at dinner. He loved my Aunt. 
After much prayer and quite a bit of coercing from my friend, Debbie, who is also the director I took a part time job teaching preschoolers. For those who know me, yes, I have lost my mind. Everyone knows my standard answer for how I feel about kids is this... "I don't like other people's kids" and when asked why, I recant it with "I like kids who are well behaved and polite and in this day and age, most aren't!" anyway...I did it for 2 reasons. 1. because it gave JG the chance to go to the 2 year old class across the hall from me. And, might I add, it has been the best thing ever for her and 2. I could still be in control of said 2 year old across the hall from me. Yes, I have issues. Don't judge. On the flip side of all of my controlling it has been a really good experience so far. I mean, they are 3/4 years old. It isn't rocket science. The hardest thing for me has been sounding like a broken record for 4 hours a day. I haven't been around kids that age on a regular basis for over 12 years so there is a lot to get used to again. Pinterest has become my best friend for all things crafty for these kids and I have to say I am pretty impressed with what I have come up with so far. However, allow me to say all credit goes entirely to my God b/c I know I can't get through one day with out Him. Forget that... one minute.

And the house. Whew! That whole thing has been a whirlwind, let me tell you. After much prayer, seeking counsel etc. we decided to put the house on the market in January. We thought we had nothing to lose by listing it ourselves. Brian made these beautiful flyer's, we got info tubes and signs and boom!
26 days or so and not a even one call, not one email, nothing! I don't even think anyone opened that tube. Then one Friday B called to say we had 2 showings the next day. We went to work scouring from top to bottom making all things perfectly perfect. I plugged in Scentsy every where and we decluttered every room in the house. It took the better part of Friday night and into Saturday early afternoon. The first set of people postponed but the second family arrived at about 3. I immediately went into realtor mode. I took them around pointing out all the areas we had upgraded and all the beautiful features in each room. Then I would back out of the room so they could open closets and cupboards and poke around like they would have done had we not been there. It was really fun and the showing went really well. They spent about an hour and looked around twice. They had both grown up in the country but had been living in the city since they got married and really wanted to move back. He is an avid hunter and fisherman so it was easy to see why they really liked our house. Not to mention but they told us he had masses and masses of mounts (all he had done himself) and with the house being a log house it just kind of made sense. As they were leaving I asked if they would be kind enough to give us some feedback (if they had any) regarding the showing in case there was anything we needed to change. I mentioned we had another showing the next day and was thankful this one had gone so well. So, they left and honestly we didn't give it another thought until the phone rang less than an hour later and they made an offer! Less than 24 hours later we were signing papers and on our way to some serious craziness b/c now we had to find a house. Thankfully, a recent epiphany (a word from God I finally listened to) had me chilling out about it. And so, to cut a too long already story short we bought a house back in town, we closed last week and are settling in nicely. We downsized slightly and we are now only 10 minutes from church instead of 25. I am beyond thankful in this whole situation and with several other big changes coming soon am really thankful to be closer to everything.

Here comes April and with that another birthday for me. I can't believe it. This time last year we had just received updated pics and video of JG and now I am about to celebrate my first birthday with her by my side. So blessed. Stay tuned for more of our craziness.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Not Forgotten

Not Forgotten is an Orphan Ministry Group my friend Tonya and I began in February 2013. Tonight we celebrated our year milestone with as many of the group as could make it.

When I was going through my adoption I would constantly google adoption support groups in my area looking for anyone I could connect with. I never did find any.
In July 2012 Tonya moved here from New Mexico (Tonya and I originally knew each other when we both lived in OK in the early 2000's) with her husband and son Rivaldo who had been adopted from Haiti. Tonya has a passion and drive that is contagious. As my adoption was nearing its end I realized that no one should ever have to go through this process without support. And so with that Not Forgotten was born. We began our group with about 7 families and only 1 child home (Rivaldo). One year later we are 11 or so families and 9 children home!
We meet monthly and once a quarter get all the families together for potluck. Its not always organized and its not always pretty. In fact some months there can be a lot of snot flying around...right Laura? ;0)
But we are all there for each other. We are there to listen, understand, vent, cry, complain, laugh and rejoice with and mostly to pray for and lift each other up. Especially when we think we can't wait another minute. Because, lets face it, adoption is tough and it doesn't get any easier when they come home. I am thankful to walk through this journey with this amazing group who continue to inspire me and spur me on to whatever God has for me and my family!

Rivaldo and Jenna Grace

Sebla and Nathan





I couldn't help it, she's so cute. 

Oh the technology...


Laura and Devica, both doing foster to adopt. 

Nathan was just placed with Hayley and her precious family. 


Just some of our amazing group.

Me and my adorable co-pilot, Tonya. She is such a blessing and had such a great word tonight for our group!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Throw Back Thursday

I am so proud of my boys and the men they are becoming. But sometimes it nice to just sit and remember the way they were. And then of course us, when we were less wrinkled and grey. But oh how time flies and here we are now. On another journey, entering another season yet again and I struggle to find the joy in it. Transitions are always hard for me. It seems to scream the painful reminder that my mom is not here to share in this with me. To talk to, to get encouragement from. And so, I cry and the moment passes and life goes on. 

Enjoy my little walk down memory lane. 
Jackson and Jayden

Jared, with just one of several skateboards he has owned over the years. 

My littles as they were. 

Trying to capture the moment. Sarah (my sister), me Grammy and mom. She died 6 months to the day after this pic was taken.

Jared turning 10. I made the card. He is 20 now. UGH!

First day of school.

Visiting the UK and the town where I spent 8 years of my life. 


My littles...again.


Less wrinkles, NO grey and I'm even a brunette (which everyone hated).

They were 11, 8 and 6. Hard to believe they are 20, 16 and 14 now.


9 years ago. WOW!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Everyone Needs a Holly.

Holly is my Aunt. She is my mom's youngest (by nine years) sister. She is only 14 years older than me and we have been like pb&j since I was born. Well, except for that time when I was 2 and she got me in trouble b/c she could. I told her I would never let her live that one down.
Even before my mom died we were incredibly close and since her death we have only gotten closer. Holly has been a faithful visitor every place we've lived and faithful supporter of it all despite her obvious disdain at us moving away from her (I miss you too). 

Tomorrow, she arrives. The thing about visits with my Aunt are this: I become a kid again. It isn't like me, a 40 year old looking forward to a visit from her 50 something Aunt. Instead its me, a 40 year old transplanted back to being 15 or so and giddy with excitement that she's coming. Knowing that there will be fun impromptu shopping trips (not necessarily $ involved either), eating out, frozen yogurt, LOTS of girl talk and probably even a fight or two! Come on, we're girls, we annoy each other. It is absolutely the next best thing to having my mom with me. She comes with all her latest and greatest ideas about food or clothes or something in my house. She makes huge messes and I clean up after her and we have an absolute blast even if we're in our jammys most of the time she's here. 
She loves loves loves my kids and so for them its like having Grandma come to town. 
You can't talk too much to her before she's had her coffee but after that its hard to get her to shut up. See, two peas in a pod. 

Holly has walked every road of life I have traveled down and been there with advice and a shoulder to cry on more times than I can count. She is the one constant in my life and no matter what is going on I know I can pick up the phone and she'll be there with an open heart and mind. I know she loves me and my family unconditionally and am so thankful God gave her to me for an Aunt. They say you can pick your friends but you are stuck with your family. All I can say about that is: family or not, I would pick you, Holly because you are a wonderful woman!! I love you!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Moving...again.

Our oldest son, Jared said this would happen almost 3 years ago when we moved in. We had been living in NC for 2 years and found this cool log house out in the country that was a foreclosure. It was a unique foreclosure b/c no one had lived in it since it had been built in '08.
Let me back up a minute. When Brian and I met in Oklahoma, he was there for school and I was there b/c that is pretty much where my family landed after immigrating from the UK in '93 (previously I had lived in Canada).
Brian had every intention of moving back to Florida after he finished school and I was never ever gonna leave my mom (the thought terrified me).
Well, life took its turns, we walked down the aisle shortly after meeting and I'm pretty sure Brian realized at that point Florida would have to wait. We lived in Oklahoma for 12 years and only moved 3 times. There was nothing in me ever at any point that wanted to move.
And then, my mom died. Death is a funny thing. It changes everything. And even though I still had my dad, my sister and all my mom's family there I suddenly felt like everything was off. And in reality it wasn't. We had an amazing group of friends we got to do life with, a wonderful church and fabulous community in which to raise our boys. Life was grand.
In March of '05 we took a way overdue vacation to Florida to spend some time with Brian's family. And God spoke and I knew it. I remember it as clear today as in that moment. B and I were out on her porch swing. I was laying down and B was just standing there looking at me. I looked at him and said, I think its time to move to here. I know he couldn't believe his ears. And looking back I sometimes wonder if it was me or God. But one thing I know, we couldn't of had more obstacles in our way in just considering a move like that. BUT GOD. As a former pastor of mine used to say, when God is in it, theres no limit. Or maybe its a song. Whatever. The point is, He moved all of those obstacles and by June 27th '05 we were on our way to Florida.
And then the moving really began (or thats how it felt). In 3 years there we moved 3 times and since being in NC we've moved 3 times and I meant what I said when we moved in here. This was it! God would have to appear to me and tell me to move. Who likes to move? Not I? And this move is not for bigger and better. And this is not b/c life here is so unbearable. We love this house, plain and simple. Its just too far away, and having a toddler again I feel so isolated. I feel like I am going crazy some days. Its not exactly easy on 2 teenage boys either. And so, it will be very bitter-sweet to say good bye to this house but I am not married to anything materially and God always has a way better plan than I do and so I will sit back and wait and watch with expectancy.
Its going to be so exciting!!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

6 Months Home and Bragging Rights.

Today marks 6 months since we landed back in the US with the cutest little Chinese girl known to man...of course we are really biased.
Neither of us could have imagined just how hard it would be going back to toddler-ville but despite it all we wouldn't change a thing. Jenna Grace is the most precious little girl. She gives us joy from the moment she wakes up until we say good night every single day. Yes, there are moments of frustration, tears (not just hers either) and questioning our ability to parent but the good always outweighs the bad. And the truth is, its not about us. Its about God. He equips us every day. He is faithful even when we mess up. Thank you Jesus. There is so much freedom in that truth.

Jenna Grace is thriving. She is so smart, we can't even stand it. Once again, we are super biased. Here is where she is at and all she has learned since being home.
She can count to 4. And counts with me to 10.
She knows yellow, blue and red.
She loves to recite the alphabet and sing songs. I love to hear "again" and happily oblige.
She can name all her body parts and the clothing that covers them. She can put on her own shoes and slippers.
She will tell you her name and how old she is.
She is still potty training but I am in no hurry.
She recently learned to jump and jumps around everywhere. Its so cute.
She LOVES Elmo and got a small one for Christmas (no talking ones thank you very much). She can also name all of the Sesame Street characters.
She loves going for walks, swinging and going down her slide. She loves to pick dandelions and blow on those puffy ones (dandelion seeds?).
She knows all her animals and the sounds they make. We will even sing "What does the fox say...?" and she says nay nay nay etc... Soooooo cute!
She LOVES books which I am thrilled about.
I know, I am bragging but who wouldn't be proud. She has only been in this country for 6 months!!

JG with her foster family. I found out the little girl to the left was adopted and living in CA. 

JG was a sponsored child and the next three pics are the info that was sent out about her. So cool.



This was the pic we received with her referral. 

JG and her foster mama.


And with her forever family who loves her more than we know how to express. 

And our precious smiley girl. The light of our lives. So blessed!
Adoption is such a gift and I truly thank God He blessed us with this opportunity.