Friday, June 13, 2014

Another first

Last week we went to the beach for six days to enjoy some fun in the sun. It was also Ryan's first family vacation! We've done short day trips to the beach when it was cooler but this time the weather was nearly perfect so we could swim in the salty waves and splash in the pool. We weren't sure how Ryan would like it but our worries were soon set aside when we witnessed how much he LOVED the water! This kid has no fear :

  • salt water in his eyes and mouth - didn't care
  • waves crashing into his feet - he squealed and jabbered with delight
  • bouncing up and down in the "weeeee weeeee" (AKA waves) with Daddy, Katie and Braden and he loved getting in the inter tube with Mama and chilling in the water. He had a fit when it was time to get out of the water
  • throwing himself into the surf as it hit the shore - I was tempted to give him a snorkel and mask
  • jumping off the side of the pool into the water (and this was only his second time in a pool ever) 
  • swimming all over the pool in his puddle jumper like his big brother and sister
He is just amazing!

Here are a few videos:

(At the zoo where Ryan saw lots of birds. Birds are his favorite animal)

We did see our fair share of marine life, too - 4 sharks, 2 manatees, and about two dozen sting rays. Of course that's just what we could see while we were on the balcony or at the beach. We've never seen so many critters at the beach!

We also got to hang out with cousins. He had the best time playing with them. :) The little one is eight months younger than Ryan so they will get to grow up together. RYAN HAS COUSINS!!!

Before we left for the beach we celebrated 5 MONTHS HOME with this sweet boy! He is talking up a storm! Some of his new words are - Get down, Wow, There it is, Uh oh, Oh no, More please (with the signs for these, too), Get the ball, bubbles, stroller, color (which means crayons or side walk chalk), Bubble Guppies, Clean Up (to the tune of the Barney song), Nap time (to the tune of the Yo Gabba Gabba song). He is stringing lots of words together all of a sudden. He still babbles a lot but his words and babbles seem to have more meaning, or at least we are better able to understand him better. I am SO happy for these strides in language development! It still blows my mind that he understands everything we say to him. I can ask him to do something and he knows exactly what I'm saying. Amazing! Of course he doesn't always do what I ask him to but it is getting a little easier reading his cues and trying to reason with him. There's no reasoning with him (or any toddler) when he's tired or hungry. He also gets SUPER hyper when he's tired. He winds himself up and has a tough time winding back down so we try not to get him too excited when it's time for bed.

His current favorite food is cheese. He loves slices of colby jack cheese. He would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I let him. He's finally enjoying milk (chocolate milk) thanks to his sweet baby sitter. She got him hooked on milk with ovalteen. He still enjoys all foods except vegetables so I sneak those in when I can.

We are enjoying every bit of summer vacation with no set schedule and no where to be for the most part. August will be here soon enough so we're soaking it all up. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

If I could, I would adopt, but...

it's too hard, too time consuming, too much paper work

too expensive.

I hear the "too expensive" comment the most. Yes, adoption can be costly but if God has called you to adopt, He will provide every penny. I sort of believed that when we began our journey and now I know it! To encourage those you might be considering adoption but are scared of the costs involved, here are a few fundraising ideas:

  • GRANTS:: There are dozens of wonderful grants available to adoptive families. This is FREE MONEY people! You don't have to pay this back.  We applied for seven grants and received two. It takes a little time but it's so worth it. Some generous grants organizations are: Forever Families Foundation, JSC Foundation, Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Show Hope, Life Song, Gift of Adoption
  • LOANS:: There's also the option of no interest loans. We received one from Pathways to Little Feet but Abba Fund is another option. Pathways overnighted a check for us to help cover the last of our travel expenses the week we left for India so we were able to wait to see if we needed it. 
  • BOTH HANDS PROJECT:: This one is SO COOL! Basically you help a local widow fixing her home and funds are matched through donations for your adoption fund. Here are a few videos 
  • GARAGE SALES:: This takes a little work, too, but the potential to raise a lot of money is there! Several weeks before hand, ask friends to donate items to your garage sale. You'll be surprised at how many friends and family will clean out their closets and garages and soon your place will be filled with awesome junk! Be sure to advertise the garage sale in the newspaper, and on Craigslist and Facebook (on your personal page and the buy/sale/trade pages for your local area) and ask friends to share it. Don't forget to share it a few times leading up to the sale. Sell donuts, coffee, bottled water, cookies to your patrons. We made $1500 at our garage sale thanks to all the amazing friends and family that donated such cool junk! Tell people you're raising funds for your adoption and you might receive a few extra bucks from generous garage sale enthusiasts. See if your church will let you have the garage sale there - potential for more traffic! 
  • LEARN A CRAFT AND SELL IT:: Even if you aren't crafty, there's something you can learn to do - crochet, wreath making, sewing, wood making projects, painting, jewelry the possibilities are endless. If you have kids, let them help, too! Set up a shop on Etsy, or Facebook, go to craft fairs and sell your items. Again, share that proceeds are going towards your adoption fund! 
  • ASK FOR DONATIONS:: You can set up a Paypal button on your blog or do a Go Fund Me page. 
  • ASK YOUR CHURCH TO SET UP A DONATION ACCOUNT:: And ask if they'll let you share your adoption story with the congregation. An awesome plus to this is you'll have dozens of people praying your little one home!
  • T-SHIRT FUNDRAISER:: BonFire Funds has some SUPER SOFT, COMFY FIT t-shirts. They do all the work - design the shirt (or use your design), provide access to a website where friends and family can purchase the shirt, collect the money, process the orders, and ship them out. You promote it via email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and BonFire does the rest. We didn't make a huge profit off these but I just wanted them printed once I saw the design. 
  • PART TIME JOB:: This one is tricky, I know. Not everyone may have a few extra hours in the week but if there's a flexible work from home option that might work for your family, it's worth a try. 
  • ONLINE AUCTION:: I've seen these all over Facebook and Instagram. Dozens of awesome people donate some incredible items and other people all over the globe bid on and purchase these things. On average $1,000-4, 000 is raised. Yes thousand.  
  • SAVINGS ACCOUNT, HOME EQUITY LOANS :: these are options, too, but if you're like us, you may not want to venture there for obvious reasons. 
  • BAKE SALES:: Set up a booth at a craft fair or festival, or your church, and ask friends and family to help bake yummy goodies to sell! Share you are adopting and maybe even share a photo of your little one so people will know who they're helping. 
  • SPAGHETTI DINNER/PANCAKE BREAKFAST:: I haven't done this personally but the potential is there to make a decent profit. Everyone loves a good reason to eat right? 
  • BAG GROCERIES:: Ask your local grocery store if they will let you bag groceries for a weekend. See if a few friends and family will help you. If possible, bag the weekend before a big holiday since the stores will be extra busy. Wear cute t-shirts to show your cause!
  • CAR WASH:: Again, you'll need help so round up your friends and family, maybe youth from church. Find a sunny weekend and have fun! 
  • BAIL AND JAIL:: I really wanted to do this one but couldn't quite get it together. Find a willing person or two and make it FUN. Here's website with information BAIL AND JAIL
  • ONLINE CATALOG SALES:: Find a friend that sells Pampered Chef, 31 bags, Noonday, etc and ask if they'll do a fundraiser for you. Most people are quick to jump at the chance to help others and promote their business, too. 
  • MARATHONS/TOURNAMENTS:: If you're active and enjoy golf, tennis, running, etc, then host an event and proceeds can help fund your adoption. 
  • GIFT WRAPPING:: Set up a booth during the holiday season at a local mall or craft fair and wrap gifts
  • PHOTO SESSIONS:: If you're handy with a camera, offer some photo shoots in exchange for donations. Do something fun for holidays (Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day) or set up a cute photo booth at a birthday party. Burn photos to CD and there's virtually no cost for you!
These are just a few things you can do to help fund an adoption. If you have an idea not listed here, please share with me and I'll add it to the list. Adoption can be costly but brining a sweet little boy or girl home and taking them from a life of poverty, providing the medical care they may need, the love and affection they are thirsting for is worth every penny, every headache, every single paper that has to be completed and redone. It's worth it all! These children are priceless. <3

Besides, it's all just money. If God calls your family to adopt, HE will provide!
(Harry Potter was spotted "painting" our cabinets last week)

Friday, May 16, 2014

the colors of us

I had this vision to do a colorful Holi inspired photo shoot with my sweet friend Nikki back in March. A few crazy things happened that made it impossible to do around the March 17 date of Holi but it all turned out perfectly anyway. If you're not familiar Holi, check HERE Don't worry we are still Christians and we aren't celebrating other gods. Holi is a Hindu celebration but Hinduism is also a culture, not just a religion. It's part of who Ryan is and we want to expose him to opportunities to learn about his culture as he grows up. This spring we did so with our own little Holi celebration :)

We had way too much fun with the paint! 

Braden caught some serious air here!

Photos by the incredibly talented Nikki P Photography. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

The clingness

Last week we rejoiced in the fact that our sweet little guy has been home four months! Thank you Jesus!

It's crazy that we spent so much time waiting, waiting, waiting for Ryan to come home and time just inched by so S L O W L Y

and once we were home, BAM, time is flying by so quickly!

Did I mention he's changing so much too? He used to have to hold my hand as I drove the car almost everywhere. Scott would tell me how unsafe that was and I told him there are plenty of one armed drivers out there driving with one hand on the wheel. Ryan no longer does that. Granted we had to get a larger car so it's impossible for me to do so but apparently he can live without holding my hand in the car. ;) He also no longer says, HALLLOO? HALLOO? HALLLOO! That makes me a little sad cause it was SO cute! When he wakes up, instead of standing in his crib saying HALLO? HALLO? He says, Mom. Mom. Mom. MOM! Mom is the word to get our attention instead of Hallo. I guess I'll take it. ;)

One thing that has not changed is his crazy clinginess.. Somebody tell me this phase will end soon cause it wears me out. From the minute we get home from school, Ryan is either on my lap, sitting right beside me while playing on the iPad (while rubbing my arms, pinching my legs, kissing my belly), standing between my legs as I cook, wanting to sit on my lap during meals. I know he's adjusting to life since I returned to work. I'm assuming this will subside once we are in our summer routine and then it may resurface when we go to school in August. I'm bracing myself for that one!

Here's some proof of this crazy clinginess --

Aside from the clinginess at home, Ryan has adjusted well to me returning the work earlier this month. He stays with the mom of one of my students. He cried a little at first (some days were louder than others) and it was rough for a little bit but this week there were no tears! He's doing so well and I am very thankful for another smooth transition. :) 

He continues to amaze us with all he's been through. 

He lost everything he'd ever known

moved across the world to a land and language foreign to him with people who were strangers, foods he'd never eaten before, sounds and smells that were unfamiliar to him and he's taken each and every challenge and adjusted beautifully. I have to keep reminding myself of the big picture - where he came from and where he is now cause it's easy to get wrapped up with the clinginess, tantrums, and the endless amounts of energy he has which I find exhausting at times. I look at these pictures  and think of this crazy mess and KNOW one day this shall pass and I'm certain I will miss it 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Number 119

A few weeks ago the adoption stats came out on the .gov website. I've been looking over those numbers since we began our journey. There's information on each country, updates, and the most profound tidbit are the numbers.

Only 119 children were adopted to the US from India in 2013. Compared to 2306 from China and 993 from Ethiopia. International adoptions are down overall but in India the numbers keep dropping...

I truly believe orphans in India are forgotten ones - and that makes my heart sad. India is extremely difficult to adopt from but is it worth it? Are these children worth it?

Absolutely! Someone has to be willing to fight for them. To do the hard work.

Here is Mr #119, or at least I'm assuming he was the last one to slip in since we stepped foot on American soil December 24th. Adoption is hard. Indian adoptions are excruciatingly painful - the unknowns, the delays, the waiting, the every-city/region-has-different-procedures-that-change-every-time-you-blink-rule.....IT WAS ALL SO HARD. But HE so, so was worth it!

Someone has to be willing to fight the good fight, and step in and do the hard work. Is that someone you?

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37) I read this recently and thought of the harvest we reaped through adoption! The blessings we've received are too great to count! I can't imagine what we might have missed had we said No to adoption. I can't fathom missing out on this precious little boy but to also miss all the goodness God bestowed upon us during the hardest of times and the most joyful of times. Those are the blessings I'm thankful I will be able to count from now until eternity. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Three months home!

I didn't plan to wait a month between blog posts. March flew by and now it's April. How did that happen?

March was a pretty busy month. We took our first weekend road trip to Atlanta since Ryan came home. He isn't real happy in the car. In fact, we recently bought a larger car because 2 big kids + a toddler in a car seat = an unhappy experience for all five of us. Plus our trunk was full with just the things we needed for 2.5 days. Needless to say, Ryan was fussy a little on the way up there. He had a really bad fussy spell on the way back. Like I said, the car is his least favorite place to be. But what a great place to annoy your big sister, right?

We made it to Atlanta and hung out with cousins and spent the day at Georgia Aquarium and then Coca Cola museum the next day before we went home. I was anxious about how Ryan would do sleeping in a new home but he rolled right with it. He didn't nap much Saturday and we were on the go the entire day. He crashed in the pack-n-play both nights we were there and didn't wake at all. So maybe he's ready for a week long vacation that we are planning for November?

The rest of March was filled with lots of days spent together as I was soaking up the last few weeks before I return to work. Most of the day, Ryan is happy and joyful. I'm not sure how we got so lucky with this amazing little boy. Out of all the orphans, God chose ME to be his Mama. I'm his "my Mama" as he calls me when he pats his chest, proudly reminding everyone I'm HIS Mama. It's so very sweet. Those moments are the ones that make the other moments worth it all. Ryan does have his cranky times throughout the day. In usual toddler fashion, he gets super cranky when he's tired. Sometimes I can predict it, others I can't. Of course he has moments when he should be perfectly content and the only thing that makes him happy is for me to hold him. Of course I'd love to do this all day long but I can't. Because of this, there are lots of days when he can be found clinging to my legs, head between my legs as I attempt to cook, wash clothes, move from one room to another. Nap time is still difficult since he doesn't sleep the entire duration of rest time. I have to put him back to sleep a few times in the 1.5-2 hour time span. I am so grateful he sleeps well at night so I try not to complain about the lack of naps too much. Then there are times when he has to be touching me all day long. By touching, I mean holding my hand, pinching my arm, rubbing his hands on my legs/arms/belly/back. I must be within arms reach and let's not even talk about me leaving the room. He's super attached to me and that's exactly how it's supposed to be. 
Here's a great example of dinner time clinginess. I'm trying to cook and Ryan is in the Ergo carrier - happy cause he can touch me and see me, even if it is just the back of my head. :)

But who can resist these sweet, sweet smiles? I look down, see this and my heart is so very happy!

It seems that his language has plateaued. I'm watching it carefully and trying to offer more language rich experiences for him that include talking to him all day long - explaining what I'm doing, where we are going, why we are going there, what color the car is, the sounds it makes, etc, etc. His receptive language is excellent. He understands 98% of what we tell him which I think is pretty amazing! I'm sure if he spent more time with kids close to his age, he might be talking more than he is but that's not an option right now so we have to be creative. 

Ryan's Certificate of Citizenship arrived this month. That's the official document that proves he's now an American citizen! With this we were able to send off for his Alabama birth certificate which is the very last of the adoption paper work to complete! SO EXCITED TO BE DONE WITH PAPERWORK - in just under two years to be exact! 

Last weekend we spent the day at the beach. Ryan had a blast digging in the sand, walking on the beach, throwing the beach ball into the waves which resulted in two very nice gentlemen that kindly retrieved it for us.
My crazy little people. I adore them so so much. 

 I do believe we have a little beach babe on our hands. 

I have been praying about how God can use this adoption experience for his glory. The entire story is HIS story, not ours. God did this through his provision, his guidance, and his faithfulness. I feel compelled to advocate for all orphans, specifically those from India since that's where my heart is. In all of this, I feel God is calling me back to India. I'm not sure where exactly how or where but I do know when - 2015. At the moment I'm praying about joining or leading a mission trip to work with  children in orphanages and children's homes. I've requested information from a few organizations that do this type of work and I'm waiting for a response. I'm sharing this because I KNOW someone reading this may want to do mission work with God's children in India, too. So pray with me about this, ok? :) Let's see where this road leads us....

Three months home! Thank you Lord for this sweet blessing. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Two months home

It's hard to believe that two months and one day ago we landed in Alabama and were reunited with our big kids. Our family was WHOLE and we were all TOGETHER after years of waiting to adopt, and paper work, and nearly a year waiting just for Ryan.

We are home and life is ebbing and flowing as it should. Ryan is JOYFUL nearly every minute of the day. The littlest things make him so happy - helicopters flying by our house, the dogs barking, riding in the car with the windows down, going for walks in the stroller, seeing Papa, big brother and sister walk in the door after a long day. He is just a happy kid and we are blessed. He's still a toddler - so we have moments when he whines because he's tired, hungry or wants to be held but it's not anything the average toddler wouldn't do who struggles with communicating his needs and wants. He's thrown a few tantrums here and there and that's a great sign. It shows he's comfortable being his true self with us and while they're challenging at times, thankfully they aren't too common and it's easy to distract him unless we are in the car. Yeah, the car tantrums are the worst...

But the fruit of the spirit is JOY 
Galatians 5:22
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