"If I were to ask God why He lets poverty and injustice exist, why there are so many orphans and why He does nothing about it, I am SURE He would ask me the same ..."

author unknown

About Us

My name is Jessica and my dear sweet hubby is Kelly. We have three beautiful girls, big sis and little sis plus our newest little baby sis :) Welcome to our site where we will blog about our journey to grow our family through adoption in Africa.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Activities for the kids

So, an interesting topic that comes up between moms is the different activities that kids are involved with these days.  It's not interesting because of the kind of activities, and I may be in the minority for this line of thinking (I'm pretty sure that I am), but to me, it's interesting because of the different opinions on this topic.

One reason that I like that we homeschool, is that my children are not super busy all the time.  They do not have packed schedules that wear them out to the bone.

Yes, we have times of the year where things are a little crazy and we are all a little tired of the go, go, go.  But for the most part, we have a low key schedule compared to most.

You see, I believe kids these days have too much on their plates.  They have a full, hard, packed day at school, then they get home and have homework and on top of that, I schedule full of planned activities.  The problem is, these activities aren't really bad things.  I'm talking about: piano,  gymnastics, soccer, t-ball, dance, church chior, church musicals, karate, basketball, cheerleading, swimming, nature club, and the list can go on......

Why, you ask?  Why attack these great activities that we parents work hard to pay for so that our kids can have fun, make friends, learn a sport, or an instrument???

I am not questioning them, just the amount of time that we schedule for them.  I know some children that have piano lessons all school year, but then on top of that, also have gymnastics all year and then play a sport each season.  That means at any given moment during the school year, besides that 8 hours a day of school, 45 minutes of homework, that child has 3 extra activities each week.  And...the sport will count as 2 activities if you count one practice and one game each week.  If you add 1 or 2 church activities, your family just filled up EVERY night of the week with something.

When do these families sit down and have dinner together?  When do these families play board games?  When do these kids have free, unscheduled, unstructured time to play?

The answer sadly is that they don't....

I believe this is where the break down is coming from in society, in the decline of school grades...the break down in the middle class families.  And, I'm afraid it will only get worse.

Do you know when I was a kid, you started to play sports maybe in middle school???  Now, if I wait till middle school to let my kids do any sports, they will be so outmatched that it wouldn't be worth it.  No, the rest of the team has been playing that sport since they were 4 years old!

It's sad.....what are we doing to their little bodies?  What are we doing to their creative, imaginative minds?  How will you know your teenagers if there is no family routine of dinner together, play time together, down time together?

Somewhere there has to be a balance.  I'm not saying we have found it, but it is a little easier for us since we homeschool.  My girls do take piano lessons every week during the school year.  But, we can have those lessons during the day, it's part of school.  We do have church activities once a week at night, dinner is a small affair or on the run that night.  But as for that, I try to pick and choose.  Right now, for my girls and what age they are, they are on the swim team during the summer.  No other sports for the year and the rule is that we all do the same sport, same team.  They would probably like to play other sports, but time and money get me every time.  We are busy already with life and probably only sit down at the table as a family 4 nights a week, I can't imagine what it would be like if we added more.  We may have to reevaluate this as they get older and we have more children.

Like I said before, there are busier times of the year.  During the holidays, the girls are in the church musical.  That adds practices and going for a couple months.  You know what?  By the end of it, I am so glad to be gone with running and running.

So what do you think?  Do you have a family policy on how many activities for the kids?  Do you see a decline in quality time with your family when you are really busy running to several different things?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My new hobby and some fun stuff for baby


So, it must have something to do with nesting and being pregnant, but I seem to navigate towards the craft side of things when I'm pregnant. With Big Sis, I learned to cross-stitch. I would sit for hours cross-stitching and watching the winter olympics (hey, I was bored, by myself, and the hubby was in Greece with the Navy!).

Then with Little Sis, I picked back up the cross-stitch project that was never finished the first go around (well, I think I started a little too late in the pregnancy, like with only a month or 2 to go.....so it didn't get finished)

This time, I decided that I wasn't going to work the on same project (and I haven't seen said project in awhile) ;) so instead, I have been learning to knit.

I absolutely love it!

I've managed to make each of the girls a scarf, one for my mom, mother in law, and sister in law for Christmas. And now I am on to baby things. What fun!!! I've made a cheesy little hat for this little one with matching booties, I've made some seriously tiny premie hats for sweet little twins born 8 weeks early that looked just like this.
Then I made the same pattern for my own little one (now that I feel more comfortable following a better pattern!), and I have moved on to this cute, cute blanket. I am a little worried on the time issue, the days keep ticking away and this LO will be here before I know it. But, hopefully my girlfriend will brush up on her knitting and can help a little with a couple of the squares.

It's been a ton of fun to learn to knit and now I'm having fun with the more challenging patterns of this blanket.

I have also been sewing for baby.  This time around I am going to try for cloth diapers.  Along with those I am using cloth wipes, which I have made about 30 with some flannel scraps I had and some cute flannel I scored on black Friday for cheap.  Here are some of the wipes, some are 2 sided flannel, some are the same material on each side and some are different.  I also make a couple with flannel on one side and terry that I cut from towels.


Cloth diapers have been super fun to shop for, but they are expensive.  Since one of the reasons that I want to use cloth is to save money, I decided to make a few myself.  These first ones are fleece covers to go over prefolds.  Poor Kelly is not excited about any sort of diaper that he has to snappi or pin so he will have his own few diapers that will be super easy.

 These are a couple of newborn sized fitted diapers.  I have 5 other NB dipes that I bought from a friend and the rest we will use at that size will be prefolds.  The pattern I used is the free one at the bottom of this page.  I didn't add snaps since I have no snaps and no idea how to put them on :)  I'll just snappi or pin them.  She won't be this size long, so I didn't make that many and I tried to make them gender neutral so that hopefully they will get used again ;)
 Lastly, I have made 3 one size pockets from this great pattern.  It was very easy to make and I'm quite impressed with myself.  I was a little afraid of the elastic, but it turns out, I can do it!  I did add elastic to the back of the outside fabric that was not part of the pattern, hoping that this will contain a little more mess....
I have a ton more fabric from my Black Friday spree, but like I said, running out of time.  I may just cut the fabric and sew them when I get a chance.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Radical? Really?

I have a couple blog post rolling in my head, but the family schedule seems to be in full gear and the only time I can manage at the computer is the essentials.  (Plus I am working on a project for baby and time is ticking away! More on that soon!)  So, I really enjoyed a guest post on another blog that I read and really wanted to share.  This is the mind-set that I want to have, not seeing other Christians as radical, but cheering them on.  Go and check it out!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why Ethiopia?

I stumbled on a blog this morning that has renewed my heartache for Caleb....a little boy that I haven't seen yet, even though he is my son.  God has a plan for him to be in our family.

I knew all this info already, but I thought I'd share this video with you.  Just take a minute to turn off the music at the very bottom and then watch this as another family explains, "Why adopt from Ethiopia?"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow days in the South



We don't normally get snow here in the South. When there is a remote possibility, several things happen. First, the kids go nuts (and usually the hubby),
second....the locals go a little nuts at the grocery store. They stock up on things like milk and bread.....for some reason, they think that if they are stranded in a blizzard, milk and bread will make it all better :)
 Lastly, everything, and I mean everything gets canceled, I'm talking doctor appointments, schools,......even the local Army post.  Everything closes.  And this is what happens for just the prediction of snow. That is before a single flurry has been spotted :)

Now, I understand all about the South not having the equipment to handle the roads and this time it was pretty serious.  We had 2-3 inches of really wet snow and then we had sleet and freezing rain on top of it.  Not good for the roads.  On top of that, it warmed up enough on Monday to start to melt everything and then we had freezing temps during the night.  Ice.....everywhere.  I guess my biggest thing is why all the fuss before there is any snow?  It worked out to be true this time, but we've had times before where school was canceled and the crazy weather went right around us, lol!  Simply silly :)  When I was in school, part of the fun of snow days was waking up early and seeing all the snow and then listening to the radio until you heard your school called.....and then going back to bed.....


We made the most of it though.  The kids had a blast on Monday out in the snow.  There was no way they would be making a snowman or igloo like last year, but they are quite happy just marching around in it and throwing it at each other.

The dogs are another one that absolutely love the snow.  On the rare occasion that it snows, the pups get the extra treat of coming out front with us outside of their fence.  Something about the snow makes them a little crazy and they run and chase each other.  Plus, out front there is a wider range for chasing squirrels :)

Nothing brings on the giggles like trowing snow at her favorite target (Daddy) and then running away.

The kids went out 3 different times on Monday, the ice was a little trickier and they had to be careful walking on the sidewalks and road.  We only had one tumble, no blood just a little bit of raw knee!  We heard many of our friends had just as much fun in this snow storm because they went sledding.  The ice made for great sledding, but unfortunately we don't have hardly any hills in the neighborhood.  The kids did finally try out the boogie boards on a small hill across the street.  No pictures since this pregnant momma was not venturing off of the front porch with all that ice!  I saw on another blog that a family took apart their wheel barrel to make a sled, we are defiantly going to try that one next time! (Hey, we gotta make do with what we can around here....if we could even buy sleds around here, they would get lost or broken before the next snow).

This pup was in heaven.  He has the perfect hair for this weather.  It's pretty warm and thick, but when it was sleeting, it didn't really stick to him like our other dog.  She has some thick, chow hair and the snow or ice just clings to her.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas Blues


So, I've been thinking back on the last month. It was a whirlwind of activity as December usually is. It was a very strange month for me....you see, I normally love the holidays. And Christmas....my favorite. I love the activities that I get to do with the kids, decorating gingerbread houses, making cookies, meal planning for the big event, shopping, wrapping....all of it, I love it! This year, we maybe started off on the wrong foot, the week before Thanksgiving, Big Sis had a slight case oh pneumonia :( yuk! Poor girl was downright miserable. So, the week of Thanksgiving didn't go as planned.....and, if you know me, Christmas starts promptly after the turkey is put away. OH YES! I get up at the crack of dawn with all the other crazies and head out on Black Friday to do some light shopping. Then I come home and we either head out to our favorite Christmas tree farm to pick out our tree, or, I have the hubby pull all 30 Christmas decoration boxes out of the attic (really, there aren't that many....well, maybe almost that many), or maybe we do both..... Either way, all of the above gets accomplished the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Except this year.

No, this year, dinner plans for turkey day were in limbo until Wednesday night, not fun for this hormonal mom.

Yes, I still did the o'dark 30, Black Friday fun, but this year I took care of the kiddos online on turkey day and then headed out to score some seriously cheap fabric for stuff for the baby. Uh, someone should have restrained me, because I couldn't use all this fabric if I sewed straight from now until March.

Yes, we did go get the family tree and the hubby did get all 28 ;) boxes out of the attic. But quite frankly, I could have done without it all. In fact, my family would tell you....half of the decorations stayed in the boxes through the next week (gasp!) and, some of the decorations never even made it out of the boxes (gasp!) and, my cute village (that I begrudgingly set up)

was never fully lit up!!!!!!

I know, it's terrible. It's quite unnerving to see it here in print. This has never happened to me.

Never.

So, I finally decided that I must have had a little Christmas blues, maybe triggered or helped on by the wonderful pregnancy hormones. Really, it was bad....

the Christmas tree was a measly 6 ft tall.....(for me, that's kinda short)

I didn't even get past the 2nd layer or ornaments (there's like 6 layers!).....

the Christmas village houses never had light.....

the cute extra lights for the village (like the sweet little lamp posts or twinkling Christmas tree), never even had batteries.....

pi-ti-full

Well, don't feel too bad for my family. We survived the holidays and there was plenty under the tree for the little ones to be happy. I also hand made all the presents for the extended family and we were surrounded by working, plugged in or battery powered Christmas decorations for the big event.....

because we went to my brother and sister-in-law's house for Christmas.

No, I am not redeemed, but at least we weren't looking at a dark village scene as we unpacked stockings and opened presents.

I did manage to kick it in gear for the cooking part and baked 2 batches or nut rolls, a pumpkin pie, and I helped out a ton for Christmas dinner.

Honestly, I'm glad it's over. I really, truly love Christmas time. I hope next year I am back to my old self decorating every flat surface that I can find and making a huge mess in the kitchen with the kiddos.

One awesome part of Christmas was that I got to see some family that I hadn't seen in a really long time. As extended families go...well, you know sometimes it can get messy. This visit wasn't, it was perfect with very little stress for this pregnant lady. So, a couple weeks later, here is my sweet family at Christmas....


This is my brother and I with my sweet grandparents. Hadn't seen them in 3 years, it was bitter sweet. Not sure when I'll get to see them again.

The whole crew after Christmas dinner.


Big Sis opening some of her great gifts.

Little Sis with the much anticipated American Girl doll.




Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Event that Changed it All!

So, I have been thinking about the people in Haiti recently, not just because of the anniversary of their earthquake, but because of the significance that earthquake has had on my family.

First off let me say that I am praying for peace and stability for that country.....just the other day I read an news article about the rampant rape crimes that are happening because of poor lighting and poor security in the communities that many people have lived in since the earthquake. It's sad to know that this is happening and that even when a woman is brave enough to come forward, nothing is done about it.

The story said that children as young as 2 were at risk.....

I have no words for that.....

I have to give it to the Lord and hug my girls a little tighter.

So what changed for our family with the earthquake you ask?

Well, you may know that a year ago, I desperately wanted to be pregnant. My dear sweet hubby and I had traveled all the way to Texas to have a vasectomy reversal in November. The doctor was very encouraged and I just knew that I would be pregnant in no time. But, as it was, in January, I was not pregnant and I was very anxious about whether or not the surgery was successful. Kelly saw that stress, he saw my tears over wanting a baby, knowing that we were supposed to be a bigger family and wondering if that would ever happen.

And then this tragic earthquake happened.....

people all over where killed, families separated or completely left alone, children orphaned.

God used this tragedy to soften his heart, to open his eyes. You see, every time I would even mention adoption, the answer was always no...No, my husband felt like he could not love a child that did not come from him.....No, we didn't have enough money to adopt a child....No

But, with the combined sadness that Kelly saw in me that January and thousands upon thousands more orphans that were created in the blink of an eye, Kelly could suddenly see the need, he could suddenly see that he could love a child not of his body, he suddenly saw that this could be something that our family could do.

The change did not happen the day or even the week of the earthquake. But within the month following it, as we watched the news unfold, as we heard about the plane full of orphans who had already had adoptions completed came home to the US,

my husband changed.

What a difference a year has made. We do not have our referral and we actually feel like we are just sitting on our hands as far as our adoption goes. That's okay, God has His timing, I don't understand it, as I have said before, I don't always like it, but I am going with it!

So here we are, a year later, because of an earthquake in a tiny country called Haiti, we are praying and longing for a little boy, somewhere in Ethiopia, maybe born, maybe still growing in his birthmother's womb, who one day will join our family, one day he will be spoiled rotten by his big sisters, who one day...we will call Caleb, our mighty warrior, our child born not of our bodies, but in our hearts.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Trot to Adopt



So if you are local, you NEED to check out this new blog with all the fun details of the last fundraiser for this family to bring their little girl home from Ch*na!!! Just click here!


Blogs of Note

If your like me, you started your blog to update friends and family on your adoption. Then I saw the possibility of creating awareness for my adoption, our fundraisers and even bigger than that.... to just create awareness for adoption in general.

I don't have a large readership, and I'm sure it would help if I wrote more often, but I did address that here ;) I seem to be coming out of that shell a little, so we'll see! Anywho....one of my favorite blogs, Storing up Treasures is starting up a new something over there called Blogs of Note. This will be a little spot where she lists other blogs...and then chooses one blog a month to highlight. Sounds like a pretty easy way to get a few more readers to me, what do you think?!


Click on the button above to see what it's all about!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mixed Emotions

In one breath, I can express so many different emotions, it's enough make your head spin. Mostly for my own benefit, I want to jot them down. Physically, I just can't seem to get it all done, the tree is down, but there is still Christmas village stuff to be put away (at least we are unpacked from our trip!). The kids started school, but it is slow going, they need to be re-trained....we sit and finish our work....without complaint....I'll let you know when the training is successful and finished ;)

Emotions...

I am sad for a bloggy friend who has miscarried, I lost a baby between my two girls, so I know how painful it can be. Someday in heaven, a person almost unknown to me will walk up and give me a hug and call me mom.

I am anxious about this little one growing inside me. She is transverse and was also at my check-up a month ago. I'm only 30 weeks, so I know that I shouldn't worry, but I am. Probably because I know that one would defiantly squash any natural/homebirth..... So, note to the child who loves to kick my bladder, "please turn so that I can breath a sigh of relief".

I am a little sad today about my little Caleb. One blog friend that I follow was at the EXACT same point in their adoption as we were....they choose a child on the waiting list and are leaving in a week or two to go to Ethiopia. I am super excited for them and their son, but I am sad that it's not me. Also, a friend at church is gearing up for their last fundraiser and will hopefully be traveling to Ch*na around the time my little girl is joining the world in March.....I wish that I had my referral picture so that we could lament about our children that are not in our arms together. I know, it's pitiful, I am torn between cheering these families on and sulking....

I am starting to get real excited to have a newborn, the nursing, cuddling, and even crazy sleepless nights. I want to wash and dress a little one in sweet baby clothes and try on the things I have knitted for her. I also am a little done being pregnant, I want to eat a real meal....of whatever the heck and want.... and whatever time of night I want :) I am ready..... thankfully time seems to be flying by.

I am super excited and loving all the updates on a friends' twins that were born last week about 9 weeks early. She was only 3 weeks ahead of me, so it's crazy that she's no longer pregnant with me. The twins are so precious, I got to peak at them in the NICU and one of them even held onto my finger (I am to terrified to do more touching or holding that that! They are SO small!)

And lastly, I am stressed about my relationship with my oldest girl. She will be 9 next month and nothing is easy with her. She has a dramatic response to everything. She won't do what she's told the first time...ever. She has been sneaky and disobedient. Quite frankly, I take it all very personal and I haven't handled it well every day. Some days, I deal okay, calm, cool, collected mom. Other days, I can flip and do more yelling than I should. Pretty sure it's not helping the situation. I know she is testing her boundaries, but it's not as easy when she did this kind of stuff as a 2 or 3 year old. I'm pretty sure she doesn't like me all that much because I have been laying down the law....we probably both need a break from each other for about a week, too bad she's homeschooled ;) It's funny, because a month or two ago, it was the younger one that was making me want to pull out my hair, I guess they are just taking turns...

Off to disrupt the pleasant sisterly play to see if we can finish up school without any tears....from any of us .....
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