Monday, August 5, 2013

On the eve of my 39th Birthday...

I love birthdays because they are a lovely reason to reflect on the past year and also to dream about the year ahead.

God has been so good to me and blessed me in so many ways during the past year....

On the heels of my birthday last year, I began rehearsals for "Girls Only", which turned out to be my favorite on-stage experience so far. Not only was it pure joy to act in this fabulous comedy, but it ended up running for five months! A dream job, and one for which I will always be grateful!!!

After "Girls Only" came to a close in February and my pace of life began to slow down, I started to get antsy. I felt like I had cabin fever when I was at home during the day, so I planned a cross-country road trip. I had it all scheduled with many stops along the way all set up. We would be gone for three weeks in April.

Those plans came to a grinding halt when three things happened. First, I found out that I had to be in San Antonio for a meeting that got scheduled right in the middle of my planned trip. Second, my friend Sarah in New Jersey who I was planning to spend several days with on my trip, called to tell me that a baby boy had been born in Las Vegas, and she and her husband would be traveling there for at least 2 weeks to adopt him. And just one week after Sarah called me with her big news, we got some big news of our own...which brings me to the third thing: our adoption agency called us to say that a baby girl had been born who they thought would be a good match for our family.

So I think it's safe to say that God knew all along that my best laid road trip plans were not meant to be this year. However, I prefer His plan to mine!!!

Zoe has been the sweetest and most precious daughter I could dream of! She is beyond wonderful, and we all just love her so, so, so, so much!

As I look forward to the coming year, I have an immense feeling of satisfaction. Brian and I sense that Zoe is our last baby, and my focus is much less on family planning now and more on family raising. Now that my babies are all here, I'm looking forward to seeing them grow up. I also look forward to all of us growing closer as a family, as our bond deepens as a family of five.

Speaking of family, I would be remiss if I didn't mention two very special boys who live in Ethiopia named Ephrem and Habtamu, ages 19 and 11. They are my long-distance sons who live across the ocean. They melt my heart every time they call me "Mom". Although they have not taken up residence in our home (and there are no plans for that), they have definitely taken up residence in my heart, and I love them.

What a great year 38 has been! Thank You, God, for all of the amazingly beautiful blessings You have generously poured out on me!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Two months since I met my daughter!

Dear Zoe,

Two months ago today, Daddy and I met you for the first time! You were two and a half weeks old and weighed 3 pounds 3 ounces. We couldn't believe how small you were. Moments after we told our adoption agency social worker that we wanted to adopt you, we prayed for you. Dad prayed the "Jesus prayer"...that you would "grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man".


Small and smiling!
And look how you have grown! In the past two months, you have gained five pounds, grown at least 5 inches longer, and graduated from preemie to newborn size in both diapers and clothing!

Two months later...still with a beautiful smile!
 Zoe, being your mother is heaven on earth for me! I love you so much! I love holding and cuddling you, putting you in cute baby girl outfits, caring for you, and taking your pictures!

Daddy and I have figured out a feeding schedule for you that allows both him and me to get a decent night's sleep. I do your late night feedings and he does your early morning ones. This works out well, since I'm a night owl and he is a morning person. I love cuddling you late at night. Usually, we are on a love seat curled up watching something on Netflix. You like to sleep on my chest, knees tucked up under you in a little ball. I'm savoring these moments of your early life because I know that the first year passes so quickly! Even though the thought of these early days winding to an end makes me a little sad, I'm also excited for what is yet to come.

When we were deciding to pursue adopting a third child (YOU!), it became very clear to me how important it was for me to have a daughter. Maybe it's because I grew up in a family of girls, or maybe it's just because I'm a bit of a girly girl and I wanted to share that with a daughter. All I can say is that I am absolutely delighted to have YOU for my daughter, and I find myself looking forward to sharing so many life experiences with you. From the superficial/stereotypical things like shopping and pedis to deeper things like developing a real heart-to-heart relationship with you and talking about all sorts of things.

Your name means "life" and I am so blessed to be a witness to yours. I pray that God blesses you with a beautiful and abundant life. Just as Daddy prayed for you that first day we met you, may you grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

I love you all the way up to the moon and back,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Our time with Zoe in the NICU...

From the day we met Zoe on April 5th until the day we brought her home on April 16th, we visited our girl in the hospital as often as we could! Thankfully, the hospital wasn't terribly far from our house, so we got to see her nearly every day.

We were told that skin-to-skin contact between parent and baby (aka kangaroo bonding) is wonderful for the child's brain development and also for the attachment and bonding process. We loved snuggling our little sweetie, feeding her bottles and getting to know her better with each visit.

During the first several days, she was still spending most of her time inside of an isolette. Although she was already capable of maintaining her own body temperature, the isolette kept her warm, so her body could focus all of its energy on gaining weight and growing.


Looking back, I can hardly believe how much she has grown over the past five and a half weeks since we met her!

This little chick outfit was a preemie size that I had already washed and dried in the dryer, and it was still swimming on her! She wore the same outfit yesterday, and the hat fit perfectly!

We spent lots of time marveling at how "fearfully and wonderfully made" she was...everything just in miniature! During the time that we knew her in the NICU, her weight was between 3 pounds 2 ounces (the day we met her) and 3 pounds 15 ounces (the day we took her home). A petite lil' princess!

In Daddy's hands.
The wires were monitoring heart rate and oxygen saturation.

Nana came and visited her...

And Aunt Jilly came to meet her:

And Mama couldn't get enough of her!
Jill made Zoe the banner to decorate her isolette!
And even though our baby was in the NICU, that didn't stop us from staging a photo shoot right in her room! This kind nurse even made her a headband bow out of pink tulle.

Our time with Zoe in the NICU was so precious, and we are thankful for the excellent care she received there!

Soon, the day would come when we would get to bring her home....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's a Girl! The story of the day we met our daughter.

On Wednesday, April 3, I was working out at home when my cell phone rang. It was the director of our adoption agency! Just two weeks earlier, I had called to check in with her, and she said that they didn't have any news for our family, so I really wasn't expecting "the call". She told me to sit down and to grab a pen and paper to take some notes about a situation she wanted to tell me about. I knew enough from running in adoption circles to know that a "situation" means "a baby that could possibly be a good match for you".

She started to tell me about a little baby who had been born a couple weeks earlier, five weeks premature at just 2 pounds 8 ounces. Apart from being very small, the baby was doing well and seemed to have a very good outlook. They were looking for a family who could commit to coming for daily visits to the hospital to spend time with the baby in the NICU until she would be released. Brian and I talked about it and agreed that we were interested in learning more about this baby girl. Our agency social worker made an appointment for us on Friday, April 5, to meet with a hospital social worker and a hospital doctor who had been caring for this baby. We arrived on Friday at the hospital, and the agency social worker took us right up to the NICU, introduced us to the hospital social worker, and we went right into the NICU to meet the baby. There she was, laying in her isolette, the tiniest baby I had ever seen. I was so nervous to hold her, but before I knew it, she was in my arms.

Then Brian held her.

Soon, a doctor came and talked to us and basically confirmed for us the story that our agency had told us. She was a healthy baby girl who just needed to gain weight. He said that she was in the "feed and gain" stage of her NICU stay. Basically, she just needed to get her weight up to be released from the hospital. He guessed she would be there another two weeks.

And then...we said "YES! We want to be her parents!"

We spent the next couple of hours holding her and quickly falling in love with her and calling our family members on Skype to introduce them to this sweet girl. Jeremy, who has been talking about her and praying for her for months saw her on the video chat, put his hand over his mouth and started jumping up and down with glee. Afterward, my mom said he prayed out loud, "God, thank You that we have our very own baby now!" Precious!

So happy that the nurse took out her feeding tube!

We finally kissed her goodbye, and went home to show pictures to the boys and my mom. Later, my mom went back to the hospital with me to meet her newest grandchild. It was awesome!

Three generations of ladies!

 We have given her the name Zoe Eliana. Zoe means "life". Eliana means "my God has answered".

We are so thankful that God has answered our prayers in such a beautiful way! We love this baby girl and we're so blessed to be her parents!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Boys' Room!

Part of making room for a baby is actually making a room for her! This means that at some point, my boys will be sharing a room. So what better time than the present, right?! Brian and I spent some time yesterday rearranging furniture and getting this room ready for the boys to share! I'm really happy with how it came together!

Yesterday also was the day that my "baby" boy (on the right) started sleeping in a toddler bed. Look how proud! So, there you have it...we're now the parents of two big boys! Time is flying, we look like we've aged a bit, but we are loving this journey of parenthood!


Last month, I posted this letter that I wrote to my mom for her 70th birthday. In it, I mentioned that Brian and I are waiting for a baby girl to join our family. A few of you wrote me privately, asking if we are adopting again. We are! I've been hesitant to mention it here, because...well, I'm not entirely sure why. I think I was just afraid of revealing the news too soon. So many "what ifs"...

But for some reason, I'm feeling emboldened to share our news a little bit more publicly now, so here goes: We are in the process of adopting a baby girl domestically!

Almost immediately after we brought our boys home from Ethiopia, I was talking about about going back to ET to adopt again. My husband was like, "Slow down there, missy! How 'bout we adjust to the gigantic hurricane that just descended upon our house?" Thankfully, he's a wise one, and he was right that we weren't ready to start the process again. However, in retrospect, if we had started the process all over again back in late 2010, we would probably only just now be bringing home another child!

Our hearts are very much still tied to Ethiopia, but for a variety of reasons, we feel like domestic adoption is a better option for our family right now. We are using a Houston-based agency.

We are hoping to adopt a newborn baby girl, African-American or biracial. We have completed all of our paperwork and our home study. And now, we are in the waiting-to-be-chosen-by-a-birthm0ther stage of the process! We are hopeful that we might be able to take placement of our daughter sometime in the next year. Thankfully, I've got my two boys to keep me busy and to distract me from the wait! I know that God's timing is perfect, and we are trusting in Him. 

Just for fun, I wanted to share some photos of the crib bedding I made for her! I'm going with a "sunflower" theme, since I love sunflowers and I want her room to be bright with a hint of whimsy!

Please join us in praying the same prayer we prayed for our two sons--that God would place the child in our family that He has in mind for us! We cannot wait to meet this precious baby girl...and to share our joy here with you, whenever God places her in our family!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Love Shutterfly for Making Greeting Cards!

Plus, I thought this pic of my son is super adorbs!
5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.