Thursday, March 22, 2018

All The Things

Cooking meals, homeschooling, creating time for each of my people, working, and keeping the house clean (enough)... my usual... is just one small part of all that my brain is processing right now as we prepare for Ivy. Bullet Journaling helps a ton, but I still feel a bit like my mind is on a hamster wheel, thinking about (in no particular order)...
  • Where we are in the process, analyzing each step and trying to figure out when we might be traveling (June????)
  • Preparing Lainey emotionally for this big change, sharing a room, sharing her toys, and making sure she really gets it that there will be enough love to go around. 
  • Creating a family photo album to introduce our family to Ivy 
  • Writing a letter for her foster family
  • Preparing her new room, clothes, etc.
  • Stocking up on little toys to leave in gift bags for the little ones when we are gone (they will get to open one little gift each day that we are gone)
  • Creating our packing list and trying to remember all the little things that were helpful to know the first time around (plug adapters, extra toilet paper, shower caps, etc.)
  • Wading through immigration paperwork, and assuring that every line is PERFECT in order to not cause any delays because of minor mistakes
  • Downloading Chinese cartoons from YouTube and loading them up on this little guy.
  • Learning Mandarin (as much as possible, any way) and preparing emotionally for the frustrations that are sure to arise from the language barrier
  • Creating emotion & potty cards to help Ivy communicate with us
  • Wrapping up our grant paperwork
  • Creating / buying gifts for her foster family and her orphanage caregivers
  • Learning all about her medical conditions and where to turn for help
  • Preparing the paperwork for the international adoption clinic so we can get in to have her assessed soon after we return
  • Checking in on our medical insurance to get ready for all the visits and specialists
  • Praying through her transition and the loss she is about to experience once again
  • Applying for our Chinese Visas
  • Preparing to take time off of work
  • Helping prepare Canaan for his role (he's coming with us! Whoop!), as well as preparing him to experience China (learning all about the Great Wall, etc.)
Saying all this sounds a bit like complaining, but really even with the heavy load, it's all still so exciting that we are getting so close now to our baby girl! Aaaaanndddd... if you want to bring me all the coffee and all the hugs, I'd be okay with that. ;)

Introducing Ivy!!!!

J A N U A R Y   11:

I sat down at work, bursting inside but keeping calm on the inside. Just the day before we received THE call, the one we'd been waiting for for over a year. We have A LITTLE GIRL! An absolutely beautiful baby girl. Our daughter!!!

I don't talk about our adoption much at work, and wanted to keep this news quiet for you know, at least 24 hours. As I sat there waiting for the others to arrive for a meeting, my sweet co-worker turned to me and said, "I had this crazy dream last night that you came into work today and said, 'we've been matched with a little girl.'". I said, "Wait, when did you dream this?". "Last night." I whispered in complete shock, "We got matched YESTERDAY!" And then of course it all came gushing out as I shared with her photos of our new baby girl.

Some fun facts about our girl:
  • She is currently living in a foster home (we are SO grateful for this!)!
  • She turned 3 in November, exactly one week after Ezra's 6th birthday and one week before Canaan's 8th birthday - her birthday is smack dab in the middle. 
  • She is already potty trained (can I get an Amen?!). 
  • She likes to CLEAN!
  • She loves playing in water and riding her bike.
  • She can use chopsticks and she isn't a picky eater (she loves RIBS and roasted peas).
  • She likes to be outside (she'll fit right in with this nature-lovin' momma)
  • She is active and a thrill seeker, and loves to ride with her foster dad on his m-o-t-o-r-c-y-c-l-e (Jesus be near).
  • She has an 8-year old foster sister with downs syndrome that is also being adopted by a Holt family, so we'll be able to hopefully keep the girls connected! 
These days all of the children adopted from Ch*na have some medical or special needs. Our newest little girl is, of course, no exception. She has vascular malformations (which have the potential to be much more complicated than we originally thought), and she also has either a PFO or VSD heart defect, the paperwork is unclear - but either way we know that somewhere in her heart is a hole.

We are so thankful that we will be able to provide her with the best possible medical care, as well as be her forever family!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


For those who might not know, November is National Adoption Month! And one year ago today we submitted our application to adopt our forth child. 

In spring 2016, among a small group of friends, my husband and I both felt that we were being called to adopt from China for a second time. At the time, I was struggling. I was suffering from undiagnosed chronic pain and years of insomnia, and I already felt so overwhelmed. The idea of bringing home another child, and adding a forth to our family at that time seemed like a great deal more than I could handle. But God kept whispering that He is faithful. He is faithful. And so I recounted Ebenezer stones and remembered the truth of that. He is faithful. And so I asked Him, if you are calling us into this, please answer three prayers. 

I prayed that he would bring healing to my tired body, and give us what we need to love and welcome another child.

I prayed that He would give us a name for this child to help us connect emotionally with her.

And I prayed that he would help us with the costs since we were starting with nothing saved. 

God promised to us His faithfulness in all of this, and it’s just blown us away in how He has been faithful in that promise of faithfulness. ;) He gave us her name (which is a REALLY cool story we will share once we are matched), and brought healing for my pain through a doctor that finally LISTENED and found solutions.  

And though we decided to not ask for donations (aside from donations for my photography work), our entire adoption costs have been covered!  First, our families gave in very generous ways, and he brought me photography work to help raise funds. Then, it hailed. We repaired the roof on our home, but we left our barn roof (which I still to this day cannot see the damage) unrepaired. This brought us a check for $5,000, as if God rained down money from the sky for us (I’m only half joking)!

Not long later, we were very casually handed a note from our dear friends, who lost their 10 month old daughter Evy to a sudden illness three years ago. With the note was a jaw-dropping check. They wanted to give to us the remainder of the gifts they were given when Evy passed away (minus $1 to keep the account open) to provide for our adoption. We were so completely shocked, incredibly humbled, and just in AWE of our friends and our God. We honestly were struggling to accept it, but after sharing a sweet and still-in-shock phone call with our friend Anola, she encouraged us to allow God to do His thing in this way. With this check our adoption expenses were now covered. Through the life a sweet baby girl we never met, God was helping to bring home our little girl who we have not yet met. I just feel like these little girls are connected now in a Holy way, and I know one day when they are together in heaven they will be the sweetest of friends. 

And now we are just left with saving for our daughter’s medical expenses (she will have some level of special needs, though we will not learn the details of that until we are matched with her), and for our unpaid maternity and paternity time. And once again, God is providing. Again, when we thought he was done (ha!), He is continuing to show us that He is faithful, even in these details. We received an email from our friends who run a non-profit coffee business called The Village Roastery. 100% of the profits of their amazingly good coffee (fair trade, and organic!) are given away for orphan care. This month for Adoption Awareness Month, they are giving the proceeds of their coffee sales to our family. And another friend is hosting a Noonday party in a couple weeks and supporting us with the sales! We are beyond blessed and grateful. 

We know we are adopting a little girl with medical needs, but we don't know her age yet (we are only requesting that she is younger than Lainey who will soon turn 5) or what those special needs might be. In the midst of our process, China has been changing their matching process. Because of this, the process of matching is stalling out to a near halt as the new way is instituted (it will go back to "normal" in the new year sometime). Because of this, we likely have a lot of waiting ahead of us yet before we will be matched and see our daughter’s face for the first time. 

And we know that she is waiting too. It’s hard. We’re feeling a bit weary in the not-knowing and yet knowing that she is waiting. But God showing up in these ways has been such an encouragement to our hearts that He sees us, and that, more importantly, He sees HER. He’s making a way for her to have a family again. To be a daughter and a sister and a friend. We can’t wait to tell her about this awesome God of ours who loves her fiercely and has shown His faithfulness to HER, even in the darkest and loneliest of times. His is faithful!

Monday, August 14, 2017

White Pines Academy 2017-2018

We are heading into a new school year here at White Pine's Academy (the name we've given our little home school - with white pines all around our little bit of land). It's new territory for us - having for the first time two children to officially teach (Ezra in grade K and Canaan in grade 2). I know it will be an adjustment for us, but we'll get there. I'm so thankful to have discovered and experienced last year the beauty and freedom found in a Charlotte Mason education (with some Montessori and Waldorf in there as well). Through implementing her philosophy we have witnessed our kids make connections, grow an even deeper love for good literature, share bonding experiences, and be immersed in nature exploring, learning, and experiencing the beauty and wonder of creation up close. 

We also discovered Wild+Free this past year, and joined in the current of other families as they intentionally simplify, slow down, preserve childhood, form a rich grace-filled family culture, and strengthen relationships. This may be strange to say, but it is a magical time to be homeschooling, with Wild+Free growing rapidly and bringing light to the beauty and freedom that can be found in living this lifestyle. I have learned SO much from these Wild+Free moms, and the community is just a treasure. Doing this homeschool thing is not always easy by any means, but it's such a huge blessing to be able to live this life, and it's just the right fit for our kiddos and our family.


Wild+Free Podcast
Wild+Free Instagram
Read Aloud Revival
Jodi Mockabee

Narration / Main Lesson Books 
Jennifer Naraki
Last Child in the Woods (I recommend this book for any family - not just homeschoolers!)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Chickens

Three weeks ago we welcomed 8 baby chicks to our little world. The first three, named by the kiddos, are Peck (Ezra's), Penny (Canaan's), and Ellie (Lainey's), and the rest we named of course after the cast of Hamilton... Hercules Mulligan, Angelica, Eliza, Theodosia, and Peggy. We're hoping for a nice steady production of eggs once they are mature. :)

Today they are three weeks old and it's 80 degrees outside... so we thought it was about time we introduced them to the world outside the brooder. We have two Isa Browns/Comets (known for -- I kid you not -- their cuddly nature), one Silver Laced, one Barred Rock, two Easter Eggers (known for their blue and green eggs), one Brahma (with feathery feet), one Speckled Sussex.

Our Isa Brown (Comet)... Peggy

My cuddly Peggy. She had just before climbed onto me and just about fell asleep. 

Theadosia - our little escape artist who HATES being held

Eliza taking flight

Angelica & Eliza

Penny, our biggest that we fear might be a rooster because of his size (we had a 90% certainty of all females)

All the single ladies!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Three Years

Today marks 37 years for this momma. The not-so-secret thing about my birthday is that my favorite thing about it is that on this day, three years ago, a little girl was brought into a small conference room in Hangzhou, China - in the arms of her aya (nanny), who placed her into mine. And for the first time I laid eyes on this child of mine who we had on our hearts for years, long before she was born. And now, just like my newborn boys, this child who we had then only just met has become someone we can't imagine life or our family without.

Happy Gotcha Lainey Ru!  :)  You are amazing and we adore you baby girl!

Shortly after coming home

1st Gotcha Day

2nd Gotcha Day

3rd Gotcha Day

(She sees a lot of her brothers practicing baseball right now, lol Batter up baby girl!)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Homeschooling + Adoption

In this season we're in, I'm finding that homeschooling is both blessing and a challenge as we work through the adoption process this time around. It gives me something concrete to focus on and it helps make the adoption wait go by a bit faster.

The difficult side is that my brain tends to get hyper-focused on one or the other and I need to remember to be on top of both. And also remember all that regular life stuff like packing school lunches, laundry, sports, making meals, etc. But I know every little thing is good, and the world won't fall apart if they eat another frozen pizza. Thankfully, last month we completed the bulk of our paperwork, sending our dossier on it's merry way to China. We were officially logged into China's system on March 27th. Woohoo!!

Overall, one of my major goals during this adoption process is to try to stay focused as much as possible on the kids I have right in front of me while we wait. It's hard... really hard to have a kid on the other side of the world that you can't get to. This kid EXISTS. Just because I haven't seen a picture, or the details of her, she is out there. I don't want to forget that. But I also don't want to miss that this is also a precious time with my current three - doing school, enjoying time together, and actually a bit of "calm". Before we know it we'll be making our plans to travel and helping our newest little one adjust. Like bringing home a newborn, there's a lot of slowing down and grace that will be required when we bring home a child whose entire life (language, comforts, culture, food, smells, bed, caregivers, time zone) has been flipped upside down and turned inside out.

We know that our lives look different than most (because of home schooling, or adopting), but we've seen the beauty in saying yes, jumping in, and doing the hard things that matter in this life. God doesn't call us to places just to disappoint us in the end or abandon us. His plans are good and perfect, and He is faithful!

One of Canaan's current passions is learning Photoshop. He's getting quite good actually!
Thankfully momma's got the skills & software for this one! 

A little salt dough mapping

Daddy came home early so he was able to jump into our "tea time" (aka, hot chocolate, cookeis, + books)

Spring is flying by!

I mean seriously. He face! I love this boy.

Ni Hao (Hello!)

Uke tuning

Pink from head to toe!