Sunday, November 9, 2014

Our paint colors

A few people have asked to see the colors we picked for upstairs. Since it's brand new construction, we're getting all the painting done right away so we don't have to tape around anything or be careful if we spill!

The girls each wanted their favorite colors, which are all different. So we found a good way to compromise, I told them this is Elsa from Frozen paint. It's actually Behr Key Largo :)
You'd think with Jeb being the only one to choose the room color that it would have been easier to make the decision, but no. Eric took the girls to feel the carpet samples while Jeb and I went through every shade of blue, green, brown, gray, yellow, back to blue, and finally he chose this green... it's a little dark but the room is big with lots of windows so hopefully it will turn out.
Behr Herb Cornucopia
The play room, Behr Dandelion Wish
The kids bathroom. When we were at the tile shop they had a sample bathroom with a similar blue and it looked so pretty! This is Behr Balboa
Our bedroom-going for something different!
Master bathroom

Hallways, Behr Hayloft
And the downstairs front room needs to be repainted because the walls got torn up during construction. It's just a little darker than the hallways, I think it's a nice segue coming out from the bright orangey kitchen and dining room.
Behr Harvest Home

An update on our craziness!

Oy, it's November already! We have been nonstop over here. The house addition is almost done and we're really happy with the results:

The inside still needs flooring, lighting, plumbing, heating and cooling, and the big job that we're in charge of-painting! But it's really coming along!

Jeb is trucking along in his 3rd grade curriculum, and is enjoying his weekly tennis class and his Awana class at church. He got a Toys R Us coupon for his birthday, giving him just enough money to buy a Super Mario video game. It challenges him, and he's really enjoying it. He is also doing a typing program on the computer that he's doing well with. He still loves to read, and has really been enjoying the chapter books with this curriculum. He loves Beverly Cleary books, and read his first Wayside School book a few weeks ago, which was one of my favorites at his age. It has been fun to relive our favorite books through him, and to hear him laugh at the same parts that made us laugh.

Vivi is doing great at school, although it tires her out! She takes ballet and tap/jazz with Journey, and is joined in the ballet class by their cousin Iris. She's starting to come out of her shell, which is what we were hoping for with the school experience. She's gaining confidence, making friends, and learning some fun new things. One of the biggest accomplishments is learning to write letters, something she has been struggling with!

Journey is such an eager beaver when it comes to schoolwork! She really wants to read and write, and she's making lots of progress in both. She was a little lost for a couple of weeks when Vivi started school, but she's bounced back and she and Jubilee have developed some good imagination games. She is loving her dance classes, and her Awana class at church.

Jubilee! I'm so annoyed that I can't share her pictures yet, she's so cute and she's doing amazing! We will finalize on November 25th, so we're getting there! She'll be 3 on Wednesday, and she is starting to use a lot more words-some that others can understand too! She has 45 minutes of speech therapy and 45 minutes of occupational therapy every week, and we're seeing big strides in her speech and in her strength and motor skills. She's doing much better at chewing too, I don't have to purée everything anymore!

And #5, or if we're going in age order, #1? Sweet 'Ivey'! Not much to report, we're in the middle of paperwork and home study visits and fundraising to hopefully go get her this summer.

Eric is still working at home and teaching at the college 2 nights a week. And I'm loving my life as resident cook and chauffer. Things are busy and crazy and messy, but this is what I've always wanted and I'm unbelievably blessed :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

We interrupt this long blogging silence with an exciting announcement!

Yep, I've been bad at blogging lately. The way I store my pictures changed, which added a few extra steps (I know, not a big deal, but it makes it more of a hassle!) and then not being able to share Jubilee's face has made it difficult, I either have to take pictures of her with her back turned, or edit each picture to hide her face. Add that to, you know, homeschooling and laundry and adding on to the house and summer vacations and activities... I'll try to be better!

Anyway, we have an exciting announcement to make! We hadn't planned on adopting again for another couple of years, but we've said that after each adoption and so far we haven't lasted that long! When God wants us to adopt, he makes it pretty clear, and it's hard to argue with that ;)

I'm in a lot of adoptive family groups and groups for orphan advocacy. Social media is great for orphan advocacy-sharing a child's photo and profile on a social media site can get thousands of viewers and reach just the right person with a heart for adoption. I have seen hundreds of waiting orphans on social media, either older and/or with special needs, and while my heart goes out to each and every one of them, I never said "That one. That child belongs in our family." Until now...

She's in a country I never imagined traveling to, she's a teenager, an age I never thought I'd parent at my own young age, she's in a wheelchair. So many things we've always assumed our life would not include at this point, it would have been so easy to just move on.

She is disfigured and cannot do a single thing for herself. She has been told that she is ugly and not useful, that nobody would want her. She lives in a place for the seriously disabled. The mentally disabled, the physically disabled. She doesn't have a mental disability, people who have met her say she is very bright, and has committed some long and complicated poems to memory. She hasn't had much education available to her, but she desires to learn. She desires a family. She desires a future. She desires the ability to move her arms and legs, to do things for herself-things she knows are possible if she could just get to America and get treatment.

I saw her and couldn't stop thinking about her. The next day, Eric and I happened to be on a no-kids breakfast date, and I showed him her profile. He immediately said "let's do it." And the paper chase began.

So here's how this country works. It is the opposite of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong adoption, you can say what country you are adopting from, but you can't post pictures. This country, you can post pictures, but not the name of the country or her real name. They also don't give referrals, they work on more of a 'first come, first served' basis, which I think is actually more fair in a way. You don't get an official match until you get to the country, which means that we could do all the paperwork, get all the way to this country, and find that she's already been adopted. If that happens, it's ok. We would be thrilled that she has found a family, and we would still have the opportunity to view the files of other children there. Our grant money would still transfer over to our adoption, and orphans would find families. Still a good day. So, I still hesitate to call her our daughter, but rather the child we have loved since the moment we saw her and hope to adopt.

Ok, are you ready to see her? You can check out our Reece's Rainbow fundraising page here, which features a very cute picture of her:


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Journey's 4th birthday

Since I was in Hong Kong meeting Jubilee on Journey's birthday and then we were jet lagged and adjusting to life, so we didn't end up celebrating her March 12th birthday until April 1st. We went to the zoo with her bff, and her cousin Elo.

Then we went home for presents. We've discovered that having 4 kids means that you already have a zillion toys and it becomes hard to find gifts. Thank you, Pinterest, for creative gift ideas! We ended up making a pvc pipe puppet theater and giving her a box full of puppets.

 Eric showed her how it worked with a birthday themed skit :)
 All the kids trying it out!
 Peanut butter pie for dessert

She had a great belated birthday that ended with finally getting to watch Frozen, while wearing her new purple shoes and sparkly headband. I can't believe she's 4!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

March Randoms

The past few months have been really busy and crazy as we adjusted to having 4 kids, and as Jubilee adjusted to having a family and a home. Here are some pictures from her first few weeks home-mostly getting into things, as toddlers do :)

Bedtime stories on her first night home

First walk as a family of 6-I can't believe how much snow we still had in the middle of March!

 Before I went to bed one night, I peeked into the girls' room to check on them and Vivi wasn't in her bed. Just as I was about to go looking for her, I noticed 2 little hair caps in Journey's bed :)

Thursday, July 10, 2014


We were greeted at the airport by both of our families, and my best friend. Jubilee was overwhelmed by all of the adults, but enjoyed meeting her siblings and cousins. I was so exhausted that the whole day was a big blur-good thing we got pictures to remind me! We aren't able to post pictures of her face until we finalize, hopefully in September, so until then you'll have to enjoy these pictures of the back of her head :)

Our adventure home!

I had accepted my jet lagged schedule of going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 2am as a blessing, because we had to leave for the airport at 5am and I was worried all week that we would miss it. I put Jubilee to bed, did some packing, then went to bed. I got up around 2, took a shower, and packed up the last of our things. When Jubilee woke up about an hour later, we didn't have much else to do, so I figured we'd just leave to make sure we were there on time. I called down to the desk and asked for the bellhop to come get our things and checked out of the hotel while the bellhop hailed a taxi and loaded our bags into it. Janice had wanted us to take a bus to an airport check-in location where I could get rid of the bags before having to go to the airport, but the bus station didn't open until too close to our flight leaving and I didn't want to risk it. My crazy plan was to rely on the kindness of strangers-in a country where strangers don't help other strangers, no matter how pathetic they look.

The ride to the airport was dark and boring until I absentmindedly started reading the fare charts and realized there were a bunch of extra fees for a taxi to the airport-baggage fees, extra mileage, etc. I started pulling out my cash and counting it-the amount I had been told was either lost in translation, or someone forgot to add the baggage fees. I spent the rest of the trip staring at the meter and recounting my money.

When we got to the airport, it was still dark and looked pretty deserted. I had a baby, a stroller, a diaper bag, and 2 giant suitcases. The taxi driver pulled all of my things out, looked at me, and ran over to grab a cart. He used hand motions to ask if I was going to get into the building by myself-I don't think he was able to walk away from the cab to help me and we weren't able to pull right up to the doors like you can at home. I said I'd figure it out, thanked him, and ever so slowly started to make my way toward the door. The luggage cart was not made to be pushed with one hand, and neither was the umbrella stroller, so my weight was going back and forth between straightening the path of the cart, and then straightening the stroller. About halfway there, 2 men from India (thank you world travelers!) were bringing their bags in and one man left his suitcase to come and help me. He even asked his friend to hold his suitcase while he helped me find my check in counter, a 5 minute walk from his. He spoke English, so we made small talk, and when we got to my check in, he asked if I was sure I could take it from there. There were already other people hanging out there, so I assured him I'd figure it out or ask for help from someone here. He pointed out a bench I could sit on and as he was parking the luggage cart nearby, the man I sat next to was asked where he was from and he said "Michigan". What are the odds?! He also had a toddler daughter at home, and he made sure I got my bags checked and put the cart away for me. 

Now that we were there on time and checked in, I was able to relax, laugh a little at all the crazy situations of the past 12 hours, and we went to McDonalds for breakfast. They had a very different menu, especially for breakfast!-pasta, fish sandwich, burger. I went with the breakfast platter-pancakes, eggs, and sausage to share. 

Soon it was time to get on the plane. Jubilee was excited to have her own seat and start playing with the buckle, the magazines in the seat pocket, and opening and slamming the tray table, but when it came time to take off, she got a little nervous. Luckily she had been up for a few hours at that point so she fell asleep.

And when she woke up they had passed out snacks and headphones to watch movies

We were kept well fed! We had a choice of American food or Japanese food on the flight to Japan, I got one of each, figuring that way I'd definitely find food for Jubilee to eat.

We landed in Japan and went through the loong line at customs. Japan has strict rules about liquids, they won't even let you buy a Starbucks inside the airport and take your cup on the plane (that happened to the lady behind me). I pulled out all the baby food I thought I had in the diaper bag, but I had packed as many snacks as I could in every corner of the diaper bag, so got pulled aside and they kept having to run my bag through and hand it back, telling me there was more liquid somewhere. They ended up emptying the entire bag and were very friendly and understanding about it, but when they were satisfied that my only liquids were baby food, they moved on to the next person and left me there with a pile of stuff to repack. 

I have no idea what all of this was in the airport bathroom!

The trip from Japan to the US was long, but not too bad. Jubilee slept through quite a bit of it. As the plane was landing, the man who was sitting in our row complimented Jubilee's behavior on the plane and asked if she had flown a lot. I explained that this was her first trip and that I had just adopted her and was bringing her home. He was shocked, he said we seemed so in sync and so connected, he couldn't believe we had only known each other for a few days <3 He wished us the best and pretty soon we were heading off the plane, with just one more stop at immigration before getting to see the rest of our family!