Tuesday, December 31, 2013

All is Calm, All is Bright

Each year, I find a night to sneak downstairs and take some special photos of our downstairs trees.  Its always a sweet time to myself knowing that my family is snuggled upstairs sleeping and I just get a few moments alone to soak up the beautiful lights.

This year, Christmas was extra special for me.  Its the third year in a row that we've been waiting for a bundle of joy to join our little family.  And rather than be upset that he wasn't here yet, I just absolutely couldn't shake the joy of knowing who that little fella is.  And knowing that, God willing, he should be in our arms next Christmas and coupled with our E*P Christmas miracle, we were about as merry as could be!

This tree was supposed to be decorated with all of P's handmade ornaments, but Perry had other plans.  The only homemade ornament he would leave on this tree was this stained glass nativity.  All the others ended up on our family tree.  And to me, flexibility is the name of the game so I went with it.  (While taking down our family tree, I also realized that Perry had decorated a few branches with scotch tape and socks- that I didn't even notice before!  If you look super close, you can see them in the next photos.  Too funny.)

See if you can find the sock.  TOTALLY cracks me up.  Justin had also hidden my present in the tree by this point and I was completely oblivious.  I'm so not hard to surprise!

A view from 'the bridge.'

This was one of my very favorite decorations.  My two boys' stockings hanging underneath the beautiful nativity my mom and dad gave me.  It is truly surreal to have two sons.  I cannot even believe Justin and I are so lucky.

The nutcracker has one of Perry's Santa photos in it.  I need to figure out a way to display Santa photos a little better.  The others were on our kitchen buffet.

I truly admire the gorgeous trees that Pottery Barn and Ballard's features in their magazines and stores each year, but I'd be lying if I said I wanted a tree like that.  To me, there's nothing more magical than pulling out all those special ornaments and taking a stroll down sweet memory lane.  Here is our first Christmas ornament and to the right is our wedding invitation all curled up in an ornament.  

This is our Elf, Merry Noel.  She's kinda lazy.  But, she did fix P breakfast a few mornings, deliver a few nativity crafts, and bring us tickets to go see Jake Live one weekend.  So in my book, she's pretty cool.  If you've been following the blog for a few years, you'll realize that her name has changed.  For some reason, I was thinking her name was Merry Noel, but as I was putting Christmas decorations up yesterday, I ran across a letter to P signed Rosalie.  Oops.  I really like Rosalie better since she has red hair and all, but I guess we'll see what he calls her next year to determine her real name.  

Perry's first Christmas ornament (I'm also trying to get one for Jack too!) and a sweet handprint from when he was an itty bitty.  

Pseudo Jack Cruz!  I love this ornament I won from a friend's adoption auction this fall.  SO cute and meaningful.  Up until this year, we've had a little panda bear ornament on our tree to represent our Asian baby.  It felt SO good to finally know who that panda represented and to put a more accurate ornament up to represent our sweet Jack! 

{thankful for}
a silent night
the true nativity
meaningful ornaments
Justin's decorating skills and willingness
a tripod

Ni Hao Yall

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Jolly Ole Saint Nicholas

Each year, we pay a visit to Jolly Ole Saint Nicholas.  I know different people have different views of how the big red guy should be incorporated into their Christmas celebrations, and for us, that means we enjoy believing in the magic that Santa brings.  

I'm not sure how long Mr. P will believe that Santa is "real," which is ok for me, because at 27, Santa still gets me giddy.  Mr. P is quite inquisitive though and told me that he was for sure this wasn't the real Santa because real Santas don't drive cars.  

However, Mr. Claus might have made a believer out of him by knowing his name and talking to him about his trip to the beach this past summer.  After his conversation with Santa, P exclaimed, "How did he even know my real name?!"  Magical.

This year, our Santa visit was a little different.  Rather than braving the crowds at the mall, we went and painted pottery with Santa.  Not only is pottery painting one of Perry's absolute favorite activities, but the set up was absolutely amazing.  As children finished or needed a break, they were free to go visit Santa for as little or as long (or as many times) as they wanted.  Santa had plenty of time to actually converse with each child and make the time so personal.  It was very special.  

Thanks Santa for helping to make our holiday season a little more magical.  

{thankful for}
the magic of the season
a patient and kind Santa
a masterpiece painted by Perry
a Grammie that remembered "The List"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

O Christmas Tree {Sunday Snapshot}

For us, Christmas normally starts the day after Thanksgiving.  But since Thanksgiving came so late this year and we are self-proclaimed Christmas addicts, we broke the cardinal rule and visited the tree farm a few days early.
{P and Melissa have this unexplainable bond... not to mention they are alike 
in SO many ways.}

We took several obligatory Tree Farm photos that we all love acting silly in.

Rearranged the sleigh and hopped in for a {FREEZING} cold ride.  We all blamed Justin for the cold cold cold temps this year- every year he whines that he wished it was colder and felt more Chritmasy.  I'm pretty sure the high was about 42 and windy.

We hung out with the reindeer for a second and boogied on over to the trees, because, did I mention already it was freezing?!

James and Melissa were first to find their perfect tree!

Dad and Justin hilariously struggled with this tree, almost falling a few times.  The ground was wet and slippery and it kept trying to twist out of their hands.  We were all laughing so hard.  

Especially when P asked to hold it and stood there holding it easy peasy right off the bat!!  Seriously, he's holding that same tree all by himself!

Dad was, well, Dad.  Lying on the ground, hiding amongst the trees to scare his fellow family, which he thoroughly succeeded at.  

As embarrassing as his antics can sometimes be, I wouldn't trade his humor and hearing his laugh for the world.  

{Isn't my hubster a hunk?!}

Justin and I have the worst luck with our trees every year.  It's kind of a running joke in the family.  Either they get swiped out from under our noses as we're trying to make our decision or they get stolen {not sure if its accidentally or not} as they are being wrapped while we are paying for them in the gift shop.  In fact, last year, we were victim to both!!  

This year, the tree drama did not evade us.  After looking high and low, we found our very perfect tree, only to realize it was split completely up the middle and would most certainly not stay on a stand.  We both could only laugh {and were freezing} and literally pointed to one and declared that it would do.  We got it home and its the silliest, shortest, gimpiest, holiest tree we've ever had.  But, despite its imperfections, it looks beautiful decorated with all of P's homemade ornaments and our past memories, and looking at it makes us laugh.  So in our eyes?  It's perfect!

And of course, we always have to finish off our Christmas Tree farm experience with the most delicious hot apple cider on the planet.  I finally asked this year what kind it was and was told it was a secret family recipe.  I'm going to see what Google produces in hopes of replicating its yumminess!

{thankful for}
Christmasy weather to grant Justin's wish
Snuggly clothes
delicious hot apple cider
being able to not take tree-picking-outing too seriously
knowing the true reason for Christmas
a Dad that is virtually "unembarrassable"
Melissa and James finding their perfect tree

Ni Hao Yall

Friday, December 20, 2013

Believe in Miracles

When I designed our Christmas card many months ago, it had a two-fold message for me.  Believe in the miracle of an immaculate conception of the Christ child.  But, also, my prayer was that we would be E*P submitted by the end of this year.  When typing out our card's message, I reminded myself that if God could bless the virgin Mary with a child, he could easy peasy submit Jack for an E*P, despite the odds.

Was this possible?  Yes.  Was it probable?  Not in a million years.

Throughout my life, I have been told that I am entirely too optimistic.  This is a character trait that drove my favorite college professor completely batty.  Somehow, someway, I managed to spin every writing topic she gave our class into something positive.  She often joked with me that I live in Disney Princess World.  I'll take it.

So we prayed, and prayed, and prayed.  And friends and family prayed, and prayed, and prayed.

And on December 18, we got our Christmas miracle.

Our baby boy has been submitted for E*P!!!!!!!

What this means is that the min*is*try will now review our documents and {hopefully soon} approve his em*i*gra*tion per*mit.  This means that one day, he will be allowed to leave the country.  After approval, which we have been told could be about 4-8 weeks from now, we will then be submitted to court and then receive a court date!!!  This means we only have THREE steps left.  THREE!!!!!!  Well, four if you count the second trip we have to make to bring him home, but still.  Never in a million years did we think we would be this far this soon!!!

Now, trying to not get our hopes up, but also looking at friend's timelines before us, this could mean we might, possibly, could, maybe travel in 5-6 months.

Plug your ears.


{thankful for}
Christmas Miracles
chubby toes and rosey cheeks
being best friends with Pman
a big brother that already loves his baby brother so much
being one step closer 
baking cookies
family weekends

the long road

Thursday, December 19, 2013

From Our Family to Yours

{thankful for}
the birth of a Saviour
my family
holiday cheer

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Life Book {Sunday Snapshot}

My aunt Becky is expecting her first bundle of joy in January and has been working away at her new son's baby book.  Which recently inspired me to work some on Perry's scrapbook and to begin Jack's Life Book.  For those of you who, like me originally, don't know the difference between a scrap book and a life book, let me take a gander at explaining.  A scrapbook is a book to capture memories made.  It has a lot of photos and cutesy aesthetics.  It is shared with friends, family, and random strangers.  (I kid.)  A life book documents more the facts.  It most likely has more words than photos and is a much more private book, only shared with family and very close friends-who the person the life book is written for chooses to share with.  In adoption, the life book focuses more on the child's life journey than that of the parent's journey to them.

Hang in there with me and know that I'm really struggling with the difference too.  

Nevertheless, a Life Book is something our social worker has encouraged us to do, along with the beautiful Carissa Woodwyk who spoke at the Created for Care conference I attended last year.  (She also co-authored with Susan TeBos the amazing book Before You Were Mine which gives good instruction and reasoning for a life book.  In addition to Carissa, Beth O'Malley also has really good blogs, insights, and resources on this topic.)  I have also thrown myself into adoption literature and many make references to a child's life book and give many valid points on why this is a good adoption tool to have in your arsenal.  

So, with all that being said, I'm giving it my very best effort.   
What I've come to abruptly find is that working on Perry's scrap book and working on Jack's life book is a vastly different experience.  Throwing it all out there right now, Perry's scrapbook is really fun to work on.  I, seriously-no exaggeration, have over 30,000 photos from his first four years of life.  (I've filled up all the space on my computer twice and have two full external hard drives of nothing but photos.)  It's literally insane.  Justin jokes that we could chronologically flip through my photos and actually see Perry's life flash before our eyes.  (I should add that we've actually done this with Christmas photos before and its pretty cool!) Seeing all these amazing family memories and milestones warms my heart to the core.  Knowing I've been there with him and experiences almost every second is comforting.  It started from Day 1.  No, Second 1.  I have before delivery/birth photos, first-everything photos, I know our blood line and what hospital room Perry was born in.  Heck, I can even point to the window of the room he was born in every single time we drive into Birmingham.

And then there's Jack's life book.  I simply adore putting photos of him into his book.  I love pouring over his sweet smile and bubbly toes and adjusting the photos just so.  But then there's the words.  I can point to Perry's 'birth room' every time we go to the city and yet I don't even know what the hospital Jack was born in looks like.  I mean, I can google it obviously and hope that we can visit the hospital while we're in Seoul, but you're starting to get my drift.  The first photo I have of Jack is when he's 23 days old.  I'm not even 100% sure where he was until he was in our agency's care and I'm sad that I don't have these details to share with him one day.  I'm sad that I don't know who all was in the delivery room as he took his first breath and I'm sad that I don't know every single detail of his beginning.  I know that unlike some other programs, we do get a considerable amount of info on our sweet babies and yet there is still so much missing.  So much.  

I worry that Jack will ask question that I won't know the answers to.  In fact, I know he will one day. 

The mother in me wants everything to be "fair" between my children and deep down it bothers me and feels unfair that Perry has SO much and Jack doesn't have as much.  Not nearly as much.

But, what I can hold dear to my heart is that I know he was loved.  IS LOVED.  By many.  By his birth family, by our agency, by his amazing foster family and by us.  BIG TIME BY US. The few details that we do have I will cherish and document proudly.  Working on this book has allowed me-forced me even- to pour over his paperwork over and over to pick apart the details.  To find something new each time.  To read in between the lines even.  To google and research.  To ask more questions.  

This process is so so hard and yet so so fun and therapeutic.  It has allowed me to both begin to grieve and celebrate even more my son's beautiful story.  I pray that I can use his life book as a textbook for educating myself so that one day when he begins asking questions and wondering 'who, what, when, where, and why?,' that I may answer them to the very best of my ability.  

And just for the record...Jack's life book definitely contains many aesthetics.  ;)

{thankful for}
adoption resources and education
a Heavenly Father who shows me something new in Jack's paperwork/life every time I review his file
the best memories with my first born
the promise of the future with my bitty baby
my childrens' beautiful, beautiful smiles
a husband who takes me to Michael's to stock up on 'aesthetics' 

Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

{H Family} Photo Shoot

Our Autumn here has been absolutely gorgeous!  I suppose we might can contribute the vibrant colors to all the rain we’ve had this year.  No matter, when my high school friend asked about doing some photos, I knew exactly which beautiful tree I wanted to start our shoot under.  

L has always been so sweet and beautiful.  So it was no surprise at all that she and her handsome hubby have two of the most beautiful and photogenic children I have ever met.  It was truly a privilege to capture this special time in their lives for them!

And seriously?  Does it get any better than beautiful baby lashes?  Yeah, I thought not. ;)

{thankful for}
a sweet family photo shoot for the H’s
beautiful children with infectious laughter
a deep love between a husband and wife that radiates through photos
gorgeous fall weather
the ability to do what I love

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Jake and Mommy {Sunday Snapshot}

Better late than never, right? ;)

My sweet little Perry dressed up as his favorite character ever, Jake, from the Neverland Pirates!...or as Mr. P says, Levernan... 

Don't ever grow up Sweet P!

Please take a look at our Good Things Come T-Shirt Fundraiser HERE!  

{thankful for}
my little "Jake"
a great imagination
hugs as big as Levernan

Ni Hao Yall

Good Things Come Adoption T-Shirts


I knew I wanted to do a t-shirt fundraiser, but really just couldn't figure out what I wanted them to say.  I knew I wanted them to be perfect.

So I thought.  And prayed.  And thought.  And prayed.  And thought.  And prayed.

And about three months later, I was thinking about waiting and how it was all going to be WORTH it once Jack Cruz is HOME, but how I needed to cherish this time waiting as well.

And it hit me immediately.  And immediately I was in LOVE!

Good things come to those who WAIT!

But, God also assures my heart that He has made EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL in ITS TIME.

And as much as this wait has pained me, I can also see the beauty in the waiting.

I see how Justin and I have been refined through the fire of 'wait.'

I see how he's drawn us closer to Him as we have had to FULLY RELY on Him.

I see how our faith has grown, having to trust completely that 'what God has promised, He is also able to perform.'
{Romans 4:21}

I see all the AMAZING friends we have made along this journey who have become people I couldn't even imagine living without.  People who not only love me and my family, but a child half-way around the world that none of us have laid eyes on.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about these shirts!  They mean so much to me and I hope they are inspiration to those not only going through the adoption process, but anything in life that they are having to sit still and wait on God to move BIG!

A few nitty gritty details:

They are Tultex brand meaning they are the softest shirts you ever put on your body
and you will want to eat, sleep, workout, and go to your best friend's wedding in this tee!

They are black with a very light russel gray distressed print made to look
like a chalkboard design.

They are offered in sizes child xs- adult xxL.

FREE SHIPPING to all continental US.

I will be taking orders through Nov 27 and all shirts will ship in time to gift for Christmas!!

All sales will go to help bring Jack Cruz HOME!!!

**When ordering, please be sure to also type in what sizes you'd like in the "notes to seller" section of PayPal. **
So, without further adieu....



{thankful for}
a patient friend who helped me articulate to the last detail the design that was in my head!
a patient printer who helped me choose the perfect shirt, design size, and distress effect
YOU- for helping us bring our baby HOME!
God sending me the perfect design to encourage and bless my heart-and hopefully those around us too!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Walkin' in High Cotton

I had the privilege of shooting my adopted sister-in-law {I figure if my sister gets her, so do I!} and her husband in one of the most romantic places I knew of- our friend's cotton field.  I had a vision of what I wanted, but the pictures turned out to be so much more.  Hannah and Tyler have such a love for one another and I feel that it just radiates from these photos!  So thankful to have you both as friends...& family! 

{thankful for}
beautiful fields of cotton
beautiful people
unconditional love

Our Adoption Timeline

  • June 19, 2011- We are officially "Paper Pregnant!" We have submitted our Waiting Child Application to Holt!
  • July 5, 2011- Submitted our formal Home Study Application to Villa Hope
  • September 6, 2011- Submitted all of our paperwork for our Home Study
  • October 8, 2011- Completed our First Home Visit
  • October 17, 2011- Completed our Second Home Visit
  • November 14, 2011- Home Study Approved
  • December 1, 2011- Filed our I600a
  • February 1, 2012- I600a Approval Letter
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