Saturday, December 27, 2014

"The days are long but the years are short"

Isn't that the truth?

It sounds so clique but it is really hard to believe our little chocolate muffin has been home for one year.

On one hand, it's like he's always been with us, and on the other it flew by so fast. It's been a difficult, joyful, crazy, hectic, blessed, frustrating, yet rewarding year. I wouldn't change a thing because all of it has taught me PATIENCE on a whole new level. It has taught me how to LOVE in many tangible ways. It has taught me how to be a better MOTHER. In more ways that one, it's taught me how to be more like JESUS.

We celebrated our Forever Family Day in a couple of scattered ways due to the holidays and weekend plans. We went to eat Indian food with family a few days before at a local Indian restaurant. We all ordered Indian food and Ryan had chicken fingers and fries. :)

Our actual Forever Family Day falls on Christmas Eve since that's the day we were all HOME and reunited as a complete family. Since that's such a busy day, we celebrate on December 16 which is the day he left the orphanage forever. 

That morning we had cake for breakfast. Did I mention he loves cake? Like a lot? Can't you tell from this cheesy-I-love-cake smile?

note the tiny fingers entering the shot on the right..

He may have touched the cake here

He's serious about cake y'all

Cake selfie with Big Bro


And our One Year Home Photo. Mom totally bombed months 9, 10, and 11. Those were tough months with a not so cooperative toddler. The afternoons are not his best time so when the reminder clicked on my phone, I just turned it off knowing it was just not gonna happen. I think we are finally out of that rough patch since his language/communication has picked up greatly over the last 3-4 weeks. 

I can't even

He's changed so much in one year - he lost some neck rolls, baby fat from his face, and you can tell he's a little taller in the high chair, too. 

In one year Ryan has gained almost 5 pounds and grown four inches taller. He's finally filling out 2T clothes and he turns three in February. Still a peanut but he's growing steadily and he is filled with so much JOY! He's happy all the time y'all. True story.  :) 

So blessed. Thanks for being a part of our story. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday. It's a time to share the plight of the orphan here in the US, watiting in foster care, and those worldwide. Many of you have followed our journey through my (pitiful) blog, Instagram, Facebook and in real life. Many of you know how incredibly blessed we've been in our journey to bring Ryan home from India. Many of you rejoiced with us, prayed with us and have loved our little boy nearly as much as we do. We thank you for being a part of our tiny village.

But. He's just one little boy.

And there are many, many more that need families. Too many to count. Over one hundred million. Imagine the population of Russia, which stands at roughly 143,000,000 people. There are more orphans world wide than there are people in Russia. Let that sink it. 

When we first met Ryan, he just was existing. He walked with a shuffle, barely lifting his feet. In fact, I thought there was something wrong with his leg or hip. He had never run in a grassy backyard or kicked a soccer ball or run on the beach with sand in his toes or even wore shoes appropriate for running. He didn't appear to have a purpose, he was just there. He was missing the love of a family.

As you can see here -

And now - he's filled with so much joy! He laughs and squeals when he's happy, he smiles gigantic smiles that light up his face, hugs big bear hugs, gives sweet kisses and ... He runs. He RUNS! It might not seem like much to some but to witness him go from shuffling like a little old man to a streak of joy running all over the place makes my heart so happy!

On Orphan Sunday we encourage others to be the village for an orphan. Not everyone is called to adopt, but here are a few ways you can choose to be a part of the solution:

  • working in orphan care ministry through mission trips and child/family sponsorship 
  • advocating for those that have no voice to friends and family and on social media
  • coming along side and helping others who choose to adopt by praying for them 
  • offering heart felt emotional and financial support to adoptive families
  • host an orphan through organizations such as New Horizons 
 We can all do something to change the world for the least of these. 

Please take a few minutes to watch this video. It will change the way you look at the orphan crisis, through the eyes of Jesus. 

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Yesterday we received an email from our new agency telling us our application had been accepted! We are going to be a pilot family for an agency that has extensive experience in over a dozen countries but they haven't worked in India yet. We are thrilled to be able to help pave the way for future India families! Next week we will have a conference call with our case worker to discuss our next steps. Realistically, we are still looking at probably two years before we bring our next child home. We know what to expect this time and we'll just roll with it. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Coming Soon - a big sister!

Oh India. 

Throughout our adoption journey with Ryan we didn't think we could muster the strength for another India adoption. They're brutal. The unknowns are terribly difficult and the lack of consistent timelines can make anyone insane. It's definitely not for the impatient. ;) I think we tested that theory a time or two. But once we went to India, we knew God would call us back. We knew he placed India in our hearts for a very distinct purpose. While we may never know all of those reasons, for now we know he's called us to adopt a sister for Katie, Braden and Ryan. In the past several weeks God has opened so many doors and we are boldly walking through them, anxious to see where this will lead. We know this will be difficult and we know the sacrifices involved. We also understand that if we don't adopt, who will? There are too many children waiting for families. Far too many. Some of them die because they don't receive the care they need. Some of them have absolutely no future if a family doesn't come forward. To us, that's unacceptable. 

“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” – Radical by David Platt.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to school

Ok, hi. So as you can see blogging has taken a backseat lately. School started a few weeks ago for Ryan and I haven't had time to share about that. We spent several weeks leading up to the start of school visiting Ryan's preschool. There weren't any teachers or kids there so we would go and look at his classroom, play at the playground and talk about what fun he was going to have. We did this for several weeks. He became so used to seeing the general area that one day when I drove down Main Street, Ryan looked out the window and said, School School!  At open house big sister stayed with him in his room while the parents went to the sanctuary for our little briefing. The first two days of school Katie went with Ryan and they stayed for half the day. IAC recommended we do that for two weeks and gradually get him accustomed to school but we didn't have that option. The first day was hard and daddy was a little choked up dropping Ryan off with scared eyes and a sad face filled with alligator tears. It became easier and easier though and after the first full week, Ryan was running into his class and not even looking back to daddy for a hug. He really seems to love it. His teachers say he's very sweet and cooperative. The only thing we've heard is he doesn't play with toys or play outside on the playground equipment. We've noticed at home he still doesn't voluntarily play with toys. Since he didn't have a lot of time for purposeful play before he came home, we do a lot of modeling and hand over to hand to show him HOW to play. We play WITH him a lot at home. Kids that come from orphanages often don't know how to play as odd as that sounds. So far that's the only concern we've heard of. His teachers are very supportive of helping him adjust to school and we're thankful for that!

A welcome home like this is priceless! He loves his Daddy!

And when Mama gets home ---

Towards the end of the summer, Ryan started showing signs of wanting to learn letters. He loves educational apps on the iPad and he enjoys puzzles, blocks and books with letters. He even knows a lot of letter sounds. I took this video a few days ago. He can name some of them verbally but he can identify all of them by pointing to the letter. He has an amazing memory and he's obsessed with letters!

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.