Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


That is what I am.

I am so thankful for the life I get to lead.  So, thankful for the health and happiness of my four beautiful children and my amazing husband.  I am thankful for each breath I take and each day that is given to me.  So, very thankful!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nutcracker Time!!!

Miss Belle asked for ballet lessons on her 4th birthday and I am so glad we obliged.  This sweet girl loves to dance!  But, what she loves the most is to perform so, this is our second year in "The Nutcracker".  It is fun but also super exhausting with 2-3 hour rehearsals for weeks beforehand and then nightly shows for a week and a half... last night was show 2.  Oh, boy it's going to be a whirlwind the next few nights.

But, all of the chaos of running around is forgotten when I see her little eyes light up as she twirls in front of the mirror in her different costumes and tells me stories of how someday she will play Claire.

This one is made of sunshine!!!

Adoption Front:
We have received word that we won't be moving forward with Q.  We were shown two new referrals but are taking it slow to recoup and see what we should do next.  In the meantime though the kids have made it clear they still want a sister.  Sweet M* asked about it the other day and said... "Mom, I won't be the only one."  Just that and then walked away.  I think it means a lot to him to have someone with a similar story in the family.  And, last night Belle told me she has been dreaming about the orphanage.  One dream was that her and her sister were adopted by us together.  The other was she went to Ghana with us and it only took one trip to bring her sister home.  I'm praying hard and giving this one to the Lord bc it is weighing heavy on my heart.  I trust he will lead us where we are meant to be.

Monday, December 10, 2012

This is a Big one!

So... I have written and deleted many a posts in the past two months.  Many more than this one were on very positive notes trying to get out some very big news.  Unfortunately, our news has come to a screeching halt and now I am left only to blog about the events that happened as a way of expressing my feelings and moving on.

As I have mentioned before I have felt the need to adopt another child pressing on us since we became a trans-racial family.  Before we brought Sweet M* home we talked about  what we would do "if" our adopted child had concerns about being the only one adopted and/ or being the only one with brown skin.  Well truth is that for M* since the very beginning color and being different has been a big deal.  We knew this but were falling short on our promises because M*'s transition had been so incredibly difficult and we honestly did not know how we would make it through another adoption.

As time has passed and more recently as M* has had some big milestones in attachment I have had the idea of a 5th child.  Yes, I know I am insane... however when I look at my life the most important thing in it is my children.  Sweet M*'s adoption has filled my heart with faith and love and I am living a very fulfilling life.  When I think about what makes me happiest is is definitely my husband and my kids.  Even when Hubby and I were planning our 10th anniversary trip to the Greek Islands I was having trouble bc 1) I didn't want to leave the kids and 2) bc I would much rather travel and visit orphans and bring supplies.  See crazy!

So, now that you know I am nuts let's move on.  Around July I became overwhelmed with something.  And, I say something bc at first I wasn't sure what I was feeling.  I felt like I was missing something in my life and I started doing some soul searching.  I looked into opening a non-profit and I looked into supporting ones that already existed.  I looked into traveling back to M*'s birth family to see what we could do to help their living conditions.  And, then I looked into adopting.

Once I started looking into another adoption I became obsessed with the idea of having another child.  It was like the best thing I had ever thought of.  A sister for Belle, someone who had a similar story and looked like Sweet M*.  I was overjoyed... it felt like the piece I needed was right there in front of me.

But, then fear and panic set in.  So, me being the planner I am tried to work up every situation.   First I thought of going through the same agency we had with M* bc I knew they understood what we had been through and I thought they would understand if we were concerned about potential behaviors etc...  However, I learned that the Ethiopia program had changed a lot.  Next up was special needs.  Our agency had an adorable little boy who was HIV+ however after requesting his info I felt like if we were to adopt it would really need to be a girl and I did not want to disrupt birth order again (we did with M* and I will post about that another time).  Then I met with a friend who adopted her daughter in ET with us.  She was tossing around the idea of African American Infant adoption.

It seemed logical that we would go through the African American Infant Adoption Program here in the states.  The infant would have an easier adjustment, I knew there was a demand for families yada yada.  It seemed like it made sense.  So, I researched agencies.

All this research was going on but I had another fear... actually telling other people about the desire to adopt again.  I set out to tell my kids first.  I would slip it in to conversations just waiting for them to shoot the idea down.  After all Belle always likes being spoiled and the kids already had enough people the had to share their toys and attention for mom and dad with.  But, to my humble surprise the kids LOVED the idea.  Even when I made it very clear we might not take as many vacations, they most likely will not get as many birthday and x-mas presents and the fact that they would have to deal with another child who was going to need a lot of mom and dads attention.  They fully understood and would honestly have given up anything to bring another child into the house.  I was stunned and so impressed with my babies.  They truly made me feel like as insane as my thoughts were... we would be just fine growing our family.

Next up I went to my mom.  I thought she would talk some sense into me before I unloaded this insane notion on my husband.  But, no... she too was not only supportive but thought it would be great for M*.

Next up was the love of my life.  The man who has walked down my crazy path of ideas more than once... and has always loved me through them.  This man is made of gold.  He is like an angel sent from heaven to watch over me and love me.  He is the most amazing husband but I knew this was not going to be something on his agenda.  But, I also know that I can tell him anything so... I did.

He reacted the way that I imagined he would.  He was shocked.  At first he thought I was joking but once he realized I was serious he took it into consideration.  His thoughts were that he felt fine about parenting another child and the immediate burden financially.  However, the thought of the long term finances another child would bring scared him.

I did not want to push it so even though I was sad life went on and I tried to step away.  But, adoption filled my mind.  I kept mum about it but the kids were now advocating big time for a new sister.  Especially, Belle.  She started coloring pictures of her and her sister.  She started exhibiting behaviors like sharing to show us she could be a big sister.  At one point she even carried a tinker toy sister with her to the playground and talked to it the entire time as if it was her sister.  It made it impossible for me to stop thinking about adopting.  I mean how do you say no to this face?

 Then I received an email from Rainbow Kids an international advocacy network of waiting children.  I had put a profile together when we were in the process for M* and some kids had become available that matched my profile.  Normally, I delete these emails but this time I opened it and a beautiful little girls picture looked straight at me.  Her description was so sweet... she was shy, loved to sing and loved to eat fruit and she was only 3 1/2.  I thought how perfect it would be if we could just adopt her (nonchalantly of course since we hadn't even decided if we were adopting again).  I walked over to Hubby and said "How about a Ghanian daughter".  He looked at her picture and read her description and said "Sure... if it is her... Go for it!"  So, I sent an inquiry.

The next morning Belle got on my computer to play games and the little girls picture was still up on the computer.  Belle looked at me and said, "Mom... there is my sister."-- WHAT?!?!?

My heart stopped and my jaw dropped.  Then she repeated herself.  I told her that it was just a picture and moved on.  I was sure the agency would not accept us.  We didn't even have a current home study.  This little girl just danced in my head and then all of the sudden I opened my inbox.  There was an email from the agency.  I opened it and read the information.  The agency requested I send over information.  So, I did.  I told Mike and talked to all of the kids.  I let them know it was very unlikely that our family would be chosen but I like to be upfront and honest with them.  Plus, I wanted to see if this was real... would they freak out??

Mike and I were freaked out but the kids were just fine.  The agency let us know there were other families interested so I just stayed under the assumption that someone else would be picked.  Hubby and I went for a drive on day and the conversation came up.  He said that he was still nervous about finances but for this little girl he would move forward.  Right as the words came out of his mouth I emailed the agency.  I let them know that I felt very strongly that sweet Q was meant to be in our family.  I just felt like I had to get that out there to them... maybe it would make an impact.  But, the response I got was just that I had done everything they asked and provided all that they needed.  At this time there was nothing more I could do.  I felt so discouraged.  But, I prayed.  I had the kids pray and I asked Mike to as well.  Our prayer was always that our Father covers Q in his blessings and that she is well taken care of.  We prayed that His will was done whether that meant she would join or family or otherwise.  I felt great comfort in my prayers.

A few days passed and I got the best email.  WE HAD BEEN CHOSEN!!!  I didn't know whether I was more scared or excited (in hindsight I was scared).  I called the agency and began attacking them with a million questions as I realized I didn't know anything about them.  I looked up the safety of traveling to Ghana only to learn that they are one of the friendliest African countries.  Looking back I can see that I was trying to get someone to tell me this was wrong... not to move forward.  However, everything I asked was answered in a good way.  I did reference checks, talked to other agencies within the country and learned more about the process there.  Everything actually was coming together nicely.  I felt like this was the path we were supposed to be on.  I was so excited!!!

The agency even granted us the option to go visit Q immediately which was huge for us.  We were caught off guard completely with M*'s adoption and trauma that this time we wanted to be prepared from the get go.  So, within 2 weeks we completed our home study and dossier.  IN TWO WEEKS!  That is record time for sure.  We talked to the agency came up with travel dates and booked flights.  Everything was going so smoothly it felt like a dream.

Until things came to a sudden halt.  About two weeks prior to our departure our case worker called to inform us that a paper we had thought was going to be a piece of cake to get signed did NOT get signed.  The agency was not comfortable with us traveling until that was done.

We held on hope assuming it would eventually get signed but that we might be in for a longer wait.  We received pictures from traveling families, sent a care package and started preparing our minds for her coming home.  The kids started collecting orphanage donations, we came up with a name, bought some items for her and even booked a Disney cruise to take her on since all the other kids had already been.

Fast forward two months and still no signature.  

Two weeks ago we were told we may need to consider looking at other referrals and last week we were told they would make one more final attempt... but basically it was I am so so sorry.  They also mentioned they had files on two sisters and a two and a half year old little girl.  My heart felt like it burst!  We had just received our first video since accepting her file.  They told her mom and dad were waiting for her...

Cue in utter shock, disappointment, sadness and grief.  I am numb.

All along I felt like this was what His plan was.  I felt like I was so in touch with our Father and I felt like she was going to be such an amazing blessing to our family.  I am getting through the days now solely because I know that His plans are better than mine.  I am trying to stay positive but, I am weak.  I am struggling to let Him choose the course... I am struggling bc I am a planner... I like to be in charge.  I am searching for answers and direction... but I know deep down I just need to be thankful and know that His will will be done and that His plans are much better than mine.  This is HARD!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Feliz Navidad... Gingerbread House Extravaganza!!

 I love blogging... want to know why??  Well that is how I met one of my good friends and through her met several more.  These girls are my peeps!  We are connected through adoption, laughs and tears and I cannot imagine my life without them.
 Our gingerbread house party turned into a Mexican celebration bc one of our friends amazing son and husband are taking gifts down to Mexico to some of the working poor families whose children would otherwise go without.  The entry fee was a donation and I had so much fun buying gifts for those kids!!
And, seriously is this photo just too cute for words.  Look at all of those sweet faces.  We have seen the ups and downs in adoption and life in this group.  But, the amazing and wonderful thing is we get through them together.
Here is Sweet M* making his house with his buddies... oh and did I mention on of the amazing mama's not only handmade the gingerbread but also pre-built them so we could let the kids have FUN with this project!!!
Two of my other cuties making their houses.  Cuddlebear was there too and had a blast.  He has been suffering from anxiety for awhile... but this night he was having so much fun!
Here is me... doing well sticking to my plan of soaking it up!  I am such a lucky mom.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sunshine in Winter

How I got so lucky in life I am not sure but... I am insanely grateful.  We were able to visit Aulani again a few weeks ago during Thanksgiving.  This time we traveled with Hubby's sister, her husband and our amazing teenage nieces.  

It was an amazing vacation.  It was relaxing, the kids were well behaved and we had so much fun.  This was also the very first vacation that Sweet M* felt comfortable and it was amazing to watch him let loose and have fun. 
We have traveled a lot since M* has been home but typically he has a very hard time.  He has trouble with any transition and bc a vacation is essentially a break from all routine he usually cannot enjoy it.  It was dreamy this time watching him splash around and laugh.  He even did well when he was hungry and tired.  I am so so very thankful that he has made such great progress.  He is such an amazing kid! 
Talking about amazing kids.  I have three more who impress me just as much as M* does.  I am one lucky momma.  People always ask me how I do it with 4 kids.  But, honestly they all get along (for the most part) and there is always someone to play with.  In some ways I think big families actually can be easier.
Here is me and my big happy family!!
 Here is hubby with the kids.  He is such an amazing dad.  These kids are so lucky to have a dad who is always so engaged.  He finds ways for them to have fun ALL the time.  That also means that mom gets to rest.  That is actually a hard thing for me to do.  I feel like I have had babies forever and now we are in a new phase.  It is great but I find myself bored.  I need to find some hobbies ;)
One hobby I have worked really hard at lately is just soaking up all the memories.  We are in the golden years and I want to be there for all of it. 
I saw this picture when we got home and nearly burst into tears.  Belle was so tall standing next to me.  I had to come to reality with the fact that she is growing up.  Honestly, in my eyes she is 2 but when I looked at this I realized she is not even a toddler any more she is a kid.  Oh, the pain this causes my heart.  I just wish I could stop time... or go back and re-live some of the amazing moments we have had.  But, alas the only thing I could pull together was a pledge to myself that I would be more present.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Boys Birthday Bonanza

We have a family tradition we started on Belle's third birthday.  Every child on their actual birthday gets a day with mom and dad all to themselves and they get completely and ridiculously spoiled.  It usually involves their theme park of choice, meals, games and lots of extra treats that we can never do with all 4 kids together.  I LOVE this tradition.  But, this year a family vacation landed right in the middle of our older boys birthday week (their birthdays are a few days apart).  So, we went back to the tradition we had when it was just the two of them and we had a birthday weekend.  It was so much fun to have these two together.

We stayed at the Grand Californian and somehow got the bunk bed room they always wanted without even requesting it (#welookedlikeawesomeparents)- woot!  woot!  We spent two days with the two of them and then on the third day we were joined with more family members.  It was a fantastic trip and one I hope the boys always remember. 

There was also a ton of reminiscing between myself and hubby... we never have time with just the two of them like we did before the other two came along and it was nice.  They have blossomed into amazing little (i mean BIG) boys.  Cuddlebear is the oldest and the son that made me a mom.  He is amazing, sweet, intelligent and he is the best big brother in the world.  This one is so attached to our family right now that he cries when he doesn't have time to play with his siblings (usually bc he has too much homework or soccer ran late).  Captain Crazy was a crazy toddler but he is now the most considerate, sweet and loving child around.  He is witty and insanely funny.  He loves women and thinks they should be treated like royalty which is fantastic for Belle and myself.  Captain sings me love songs, tells me I am beautiful and loves for hubby to kiss me or tell me something sweet.  I am one lucky mom to have these two amazing kids.

I love our real tradition, but this years detour was nice too!

Here are some pics:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting back on the horse... blogger style

Wow... life happens and if you blink years can pass by.  Especially, when you have 4 kids and own two businesses and are in the process of expanding.  Days and weeks just merge together between homework projects, work reports etc...

I got so lost in the whirlwind BUT then I started reading the book "The Happiness Project" and realized how much fun I had blogging about my life.  It was my pause button.  My moment to stop... to reflect on the days chaos and see the beauty that existed within it.  It was magic to me.  Not to mention the added benefit of being able to recall that magic whenever I am in front of the internet. 

So, I decided to get back on the horse and start blogging again.  It is really great timing anyways because life is great right now and I know that there will be rain clouds to come and I want to remember how life only brings you what you can handle.  How the darkest days can bring the brightest tomorrows.  And, this is how I will do it.  My own pause and rewind buttons for life.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spooktastic Times!!

This time of year is crazy.  It seems like once October comes... you blink and it's the New Year.  I am trying this year to slow it down and enjoy all the small moments.  I feel so so VERY blessed to have the amazing family that I do.  I feel fortunate now for the struggles we went through together bc in some crazy way it has formed this amazing unbreakable bond that feels surreal.
 Right now life feels SO GOOD!!!  The kids are all getting along impeccably.  They are all respectful and loving towards us.  They all are doing well in school.  And, they are all happy.  Life is as good as it gets.  Seriously, people I am just soaking it up and my heart feels like it could just burst.  There were so many tearful, sleepless nights when Sweet M* first came home that this day was never even in my dreams.  This was something I assumed I had robbed my family of.  And, yet somehow now it is mine and it is real.  Thankful... I suppose thankful is the right word and a fitting word as me move onto the Thanksgiving holiday.
 I am thankful that God brought our family together.  I am thankful for the amazing support we received from our family and friends.  I am thankful I married a man who walks through everything with me and tries everyday to make me smile (no matter what).  I am thankful for each of my children and their amazing personalities and unique qualities.
 Just thankful!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lovin Life!!

I am so amazed at Sweet M's progress and I feel the need to share it with others.  We had quite a rough transition and when we turned to the adoption community it was hard to find others that were in a spot like we were.  And, when we did most times the news we would hear was devastating.  Options were things like residential treatment, disruption and mental institutional care.

Thank goodness we had the three F's- Faith, Family & Friends.  We were able to get through the hard times and wake up every day trying to do our best.  Now don't get me wrong there were days that we certainly failed and ugliness poured out of us from the exhaustion and lack of hope.  But, we kept on trying.  We kept wiping the slate clean, pouring out love and somehow slowly our lives began to improve.

I had the most amazing start to the new school year when Sweet M* brought his first progress report home with all E's (like A's in kindergarten).  His teacher had nothing but excellent remarks for my little guy and I cried.  It was like holding a miracle in my hand and I have never been so proud of any one my entire life.

So, the reason I have not been blogging is still bc I am catching up on lost time.  Just having fun playing and loving on my four amazing kids.  If you know anyone who has questions about adopting toddlers or anyone is is struggling with a child still in transition please have them comment on this post with their email address- I would love to help give another family the hope and support to get through those dark days.

Here are some pics of our amazing summer:

We went to Disneyworld:

We also went to Aulani this past summer and island hopped to Maui to visit Papa:

Sweet M* had a birthday:

Plus, we did some other fun stuff:
 Visited Carsland with cousins

 We saw Shamu!!
 Had a Blast on the Fourth
 The older boys went indoor skydiving

See... we have been VERY BUSY having lots of FUN!!!