Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Highlights

2014 was a pretty big year! 

In January, we celebrated 2 years of Jeb being home with us! 

Then in February, he lost his first tooth! 

March was a big one, my first time flying alone, to a country I'd never visited before, to meet my daughter and bring her home.

Another highlight for me-visiting Hong Kong Disney!

And becoming a family of 6

We celebrated Journey's 4th birthday late because I was in Hong Kong on her birthday

Eric's birthday at the zoo in April

Vivi turned 5 in May

In June and July we went on our 10 day road trip through the East Coast

Also in July, we celebrated 7 years of wedded bliss!

In August, we started construction on our house

After a lot of thought, we decided to put Vivi in a young 5's preschool program 

And Jeb turned 7

Vivi lost her first tooth

I finally got my wish for a group Halloween costume for the kids

Jubilee turned 3 in November! She was sick on her birthday, but still managed to enjoy herself

We finalized Jubilee's adoption

And the day before Christmas Eve, we had our last inspection and clearance to move into the upstairs of our house! 

I have another post ready to go about Christmas so I won't include that in this post. Big big year! Next year promises to be just as big with travels to Texas and a country in Europe for our adoption already in the works. We have been unbelievably blessed this year and wish the best for all of you in the coming year!

Trimming the tree

The house wasn't done when we usually decorate for Christmas, but we managed to get all of the construction stuff out of the front room so we could decorate it. It felt so nice to finally have a room that didn't have 5 gallon buckets, boxes of nails, wood, tools...all the reminders that we were still living in the middle of it all. For my Christmas present, Eric let me pick out new decor for that room. We didn't have much in it before, a hand-me-down couch, a kids art desk, and some toys. I hadn't found window treatments that I liked for the bay window, and with the staircase taking up space in the room, our hand-me-down couch felt way too big. My parents watched the kids so we could do our Christmas shopping for them, and while we were out I took advantage of a Target coupon for 40% off some curtains and a rug I had been eyeing for awhile. 

Anyway, here's some pictures of the kids trimming the tree

I didn't know what Jubilee would do with a Christmas tree full of ornaments, so we decided to leave it for a few days without decorations. The kids were bummed about that, and remembered that I had found a roll of streamers and put it by the basement stairs to be taken down for the party supply bin. They asked if they could decorate the tree with it, and then they made some paper ornaments

Her face when we turned on the lights for the first time

And the finished product, complete with curtains after 3 years of living here!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Finally final!

2 weeks ago, we stood in front of a judge and promised to love and care for Jubilee forever, and she became legally ours! She has been home for 8 1/2 months so it didn't change anything, other than that now we can post her picture on the internet!!

It was a really nice ceremony, it took place on National Adoption day so it was a big to-do. Lots of judges were there and a ton of other people, including a couple I recognized from the political ads from the recent election. Richard Bernstein was there, which was cool to show Journey a successful person with 2 blind eyes who doesn't let his disability slow him down.

There were 6 families adopting 9 children that day, it was really fun to be a part of it. It ran a little long, with so many important people wanting to make statements, but finally every family had their turn with the judge, and then it was party time!

There was a photographer taking photos of the newly finalized families, and then we were escorted down to a reception area full of balloons, centerpieces, food, and bags of gifts for everyone.

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!!