"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Friday, May 30, 2014

4 Years Ago. . .

Four years ago today I held Joshua Gebeyehu for the very first time.

It was one of the very best moments of my life.  Truly.  My heart skips a beat in a way I can not even begin to explain when I think of finally, finally holding him close.

Being a momma is miraculous.

Being an adoptive momma is doubly miraculous.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Our First Graduate

 CHS Class of 2014

 Krissy graduated on Sunday, May 25 with Highest Distinction, meaning her GPA was over 3.75 throughout her High School Career.  (She was also a recipient of the President's Education Award because she has a GPA higher than 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.  She is also ranked above the 85% in the standardized math and reading tests.  Additionally, she is a member of the National Honor Society which signifies that she has a GPA over 3.5, participates in community service projects, and is involved in a job or school activity.)

We are VERY proud of her academic achievements.

Following the ceremony we had an Open House in her honor.
Unfortunately for me, Krissy hates photos.  She forbid me from taking any.  Which means the only photos I have of her on her graduation day were taken with my long lens during the ceremony.  While the lack of photos makes me sad, it was not my day - it was hers, so we respected her wish.

 Krissy's Open House was fairly standard (minus the cute growing up photos displayed throughout the house, of course.)  The one thing that was totally Krissy was the candy buffet.  Krissy LOVES candy.  She pretty much lives on candy, cheetos, and one caffeinated beverage or another.  So, rather than cake we had all her favorite candies for dessert.
This is the only photo I have of her at the Open House.

She is pictured with Devin, her current boy friend.  I am not sure if it was taken with permission or not, I was just happy to find it on my camera!
My favorite moment of the day came bright and early.
Krissy and I went shopping this week for dresses for ourselves and Mataya.  Krissy chose Mataya's clothing for the day.  She also insisted on painting her tiny toes.  It was not easy!  Mataya is a wiggler!
They sure were cute though!

Moments with my biggest loving on my littlest make my heart happy!

Congrats Krissy!  We are proud of you! 

And we love you so much




Monday, May 19, 2014

May Craziness

May is THE craziest month of the year.

End of the school-year activities and assignments, track meets, graduations, construction season ramping up again. . . it is ALWAYS non-stop activity.

This year since my arms have been full of Mataya Hope, I have not blogged much.  I have also not taken many photos - but I have treasured the moments in my heart.  I am so, so thankful for each of my precious kids.  I adore watching them grow and learn.  This spring I have been cutting myself some slack.  I have chosen to enjoy the moment, and not worry about capturing it on camera or in words.  Someday I will regret that a tiny bit.  I know what I do not write about or photograph I tend to forget. Yet, I also know that being as fully present as possible at events is more important to my kids than anything else.  This spring I have not been capable of both.  So, I chose to be fully present and live with sort-of cheesy photos and a lackluster, belated blog post!

In the last couple of weeks, Mataya Hope. . .
has been adored by her big brother, Joshua.

His total adoration for her is endless.

has been totally enjoyed by momma.

I know I keep saying it, but I LOVE having a baby again.

She has not been the easiest of infants.  She is tiny - still only about 8.5 lbs.  She sleeps best in my arms.  (Translation - I worry about her weight gain all the time and I get nothing done because I am always holding her.)  But no matter, I just love, love, love having a baby again.

 is learning to nap.

Mataya sleeps well at night - but NOT during the day.

Last week she and I worked hard at napping.
She would wake up every time I set her down, just as she's been doing her whole life, and I would ease her back to sleep in her rock and play.  It was a slow, tedious, time-consuming process.  BUT - it was also an excellent investment.  She now NAPS!

Truth be told, I spent so much time holding her these last 2 months that now when she naps alone several times a day I get a bit lonesome for her!
 is starting to see farther and enjoy her toys more.

She now coos at her toys, reaches for them a bit, and notices when we add a new one.

She also likes books.  When I read to her she usually snuggles right in - gazing at the photos and listening to my voice.
 is still a "blanket diva."

She has more blankets than any baby I know.

And it is a good thing, too.

She loves to be snuggled in a soft blanket.  Without one she is always restless.
 is sometimes overwhelmed by her brother's love.

Joshua has been sad that Mataya's always sleeping state is a thing of the past.  She does not love it when he holds her right now.  (Though she does love it when he plays with her when she is laying on the floor.)  Joshua is a snuggler.  He longs to hold her, so we let him try - but as you can see by the look on Mataya's face - it is not his baby's favorite!
has learned to smile!

I still do not have a photo of a full baby smile.  Every time she smiles, time stops, my heart melts, and the last thing on my mind us photography!

Jamison has...
stolen the heart of a lovely girl.

Can you blame her?

He has also ran MANY track meets.

He specializes in the 1600 and 3200 - but has qualified for state in the 3200 relay!

We love to watch him run and are continually awed by his progress!

In fact the joke around our house is that he can literally run circles around me.

His 3200 PR this season was about 10:28.  It takes me nearly that long to run one mile!

Sierra has. . .
been busy with choir, band, and track!

She drummed in a parade.  (Which she hated!)
Sang at many concerts - solos included!
She ran the 100 and 200 hurdles - faster than ever.
She tried out for High School Cheerleading and made the Varsity Squad.
And she, as our social butterfly, has spent countless hours hanging with her many BFFs.

Brenna has. . .

nearly completed Elementary School!

One of my favorite end of Elementary traditions is the All-City Track Meet.
(pictured above)
Brenna has also been busy with Student Council activities and fun class celebrations which included a 5th grade dance and an all-class overnight at the school.  Brenna's teacher is very special and very brave. . . or perhaps crazy!  She has done all sorts of special activities for her class.

Krissy has. . .
traveled to Ethiopia!

She just returned from visiting Jemo!  She had a great time doing VBS type crafts with the children and loving on our sponsor kids!  I am so jealous!  

She graduates from High School on Sunday, so she's currently swamped with homework and finals.
She also continues to work, will start National Guard drill in June, and has a boyfriend she enjoys.
She is a busy girl!

Joshua has. . .

become completely camera shy!
Unless he is posing with Mataya, we have to sneak photos!

He graduates from Preschool on Thursday!  He is very excited about that ceremony because he will get to pick where we go for treats following it!

He has become tall, out-going, and self-sufficient.
I am so proud and completely thankful for this "extra" year of preschool.  It was absolutely the right choice for our boy!

2 Months Old

My sweet, sweet baby is 2 months old.


I love each and every minute of these newborn days.

Every one.

When she smiles I melt.

When she fusses, I am thankful that her problems are simple to fix.

When she sleeps, I miss her.

Yep - I am totally smitten.

And in my old age, I know to savor each minute.

And I am.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Thankful for His Promise of Redemption

While I know that on FaceBook my life appears perfect, the truth is that my life is an insane mix of sweet, innocent beauty and some of the hardest times through which I have ever walked.

On one hand, I have the extreme joy of rocking our tiny one.  I have marveled at the wonder of her for hours.  I can be home these first 12 weeks with little responsibility outside of my family.  It is a sweet, sweet time.

I am so thankful.

The kind of thankful that causes my breathe to catch and my eyes to cloud over many times a day.

Deeply, crazily thankful.

On the other hand is a situation that is breaking my heart, causing me to sleep fitfully, and question many, many things.

In the midst of this paradox, I read these words, "That which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe He can redeem." (Ann Voskamp, of course.)

Those words will not leave me.

So though my heart is breaking and I am afraid, I thank you, Jesus, for this journey we are traveling.  I know with complete certainty that You will redeem this.  Each step we take brings us closer to Your redemption, and so I thank You for each and every one.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

6 Weeks Old

As I look through the pictures I snapped of Mataya this week, I realize that she is awake A LOT more than she used to be.  Her eyes are open in almost all the pictures.  

Her accomplishment of the week is learning to SMILE!!!!

She gave her first gummy grin to her Daddy, just as he'd requested.  In all reality, I did not believe it was a real smile.  But later the same day I saw her give Sierra a grin that was unmistakably "real" which proved me wrong!  Mataya WAS smiling!  About two days later, she smiled at me.

There is something amazing about those first smiles.  It touches a sweet spot in your soul.  For weeks and weeks you do everything you can to care for, comfort, and nurture a child - and the only response you receive is messy diapers.  It is a completely one sided relationship, until those smiles start.  Baby smiles melt me.

 Mataya likes laying on the floor and having a chat. . . for about 3 minutes anyway!
Though those playful moment are still very short lived, they are precious.
I love how she is cooing at Brenna in this photo.

 Chad is so good with Mataya.

She is not the easiest baby, nor is she the hardest.  She is happiest when nursing.  Her second favorite activity is being held.  I had the nerve to put her sleeping self into the swing so that I could take a shower this morning.  That did not last long.  When I got out of the shower, she and daddy were in the garage building a sub box.  She was happily snuggled up while he was drilling away.

After 6 kids, even Daddy has learned to get almost anything done with a baby snuggled close.
No doubt about it, I married well.
 Joshua just adores her!

He truly can not get enough.  
He is never upset if she is grumpy or fussy.  He loves to be close to her no matter her mood or noise level.
 I joke that Mataya has perfected underachieving.

She remains tiny.  At 6 weeks, she weighs 7 lbs 9 oz.  She is gaining exactly 1/2 oz a day - which is what her doc said she must do - but no more.  A few rolls would make mommy a bit more comfortable, but if the doc is happy and the baby is happy, mommy is too.
 Sierra has become a baby whisperer.

When Mataya first arrived, Sierra would panic every time she cried.  That has totally changed.  Now, when Mataya fusses, Sierra is so confident and calm.  She knows just how to hold her to calm her.  Mataya smiles more at Sierra than anyone else.  And Sierra makes sure to give Taya her Vitamin D every day.  She thinks Mataya's reaction is so funny.  She says giving Mataya her vitamins is her favorite moment of the day.

Another thing that cracks me up is that Sierra refers to Mataya as "buddy."  Every time she picks her up she says, "Hey Buddy!"  Tay must like it.
 Although Mataya is a great sleeper at night, (I actually wake her up to eat most nights), she is NOT a good napper.  We joke that she sleeps with one eye open.  Getting anything done is challenging - however, I am thankful that she sleeps well at night.

This photo cracks me up.

Nosy baby was supposed to be napping in her stroller during a track meet.
She refused to sleep, peaking out the little crack the whole time.
Poor peanut, it was too windy for her to come out and see any more, so she happily observed the track meet through the tiny crack.  Thankfully, she is usually content in her carseat these days!

Although I do not have a photo, Jamison spent some time holding Mataya this week.  When I found out that Mataya was 7 lbs 9 oz, I insisted Jamison hold her since he weighed 7 lbs 10 oz at birth.  I wanted him to realize just how tiny he had once been!  Anyway, he was holding her, watching her sleep, smiling at her baby grins as she dreamed when all of the sudden she filled her diaper.  Very loudly.

Jamison's response?

"She was a lot cuter before she passed gas as loud a a middle school boy!"

And true.

This week I realized that my maternity leave is over half way complete.  I have been trying not to panic.  Mataya is still SO tiny!  I know that 6 weeks is always tiny, but she is taking it to a new level!  I can not see how she (or I) will be ready to return to work in 5 weeks.  I am very lucky in that she can come with me to work for a while, even so, I do not know how I will possibly do it.  She is fairly high maintenance.  That is fine - but a high maintenance baby in an office could be incredibly challenging.  Leaving her at day care full time is not an option since there is only a very part time slot for her until September.  (I am actually thankful for this as I have no interest in having her away from me full time just yet.)

Though the desire of my heart has always been to be home full time, what I long for even more is to do the work the Lord has for me.  No matter what that is, I want to do it with a joyful and thankful heart that will glorify Him. 

Will you please be praying that God prepares my tiny one and I for whatever is to come?

Friday, May 2, 2014

My Daughter the Private

Never say never. . .

that is my lesson this month.

After refusing to sign for Krissy to enlist in the National Guard for months, I caved.  After a lot of prayer, time, consideration, and talk - I decided that it would be more beneficial to give Krissy's desire wings than to continue clipping them.

This was hard for me.  Really hard.  So hard that before we agreed to sign we took her out for dinner and wrote a six point contract that we all signed.  It details why we signed (to empower her to live her dream).  It also detailed many other things. . .  Important things which included the fact that we will always love her and she can always come home!  Lastly, we made her promise in writing that even if she regrets this decision, she will not blame us for what was her decision!

The next morning we headed to the recruiters office and signed her paperwork. 

And I did not cry!

(There anyway.  I will confess to totally losing it one afternoon after Chad commented that signing sort of felt like we were signing away our little girl.  Oh, my those words still make my eyes cloud up.  Parenting is terribly hard.)

She passed her physical and all other needed tests on Monday, so it is official our daughter is in!

She ships to Basic Training on October 7.

The Guard will fly her home for a couple weeks after completing Basic - those weeks include Christmas!

Then she will be gone from January to April for more training.

Now, if this all is not shocking enough, her Guard job is sure to shock you!
She chose to learn to work on diesel trucks!
And she is very excited about it!
Go figure!

Krissy never ceases to amaze me.

Congrats, my daughter.  I pray this journey calls out the very best in you.  No matter where you go or what you do, I will always, always love you.