The Biggest of Changes

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we have to make hard calls that mean major changes.

In this particular instance, we’re making the biggest of changes to make room for the smallest of people.

As I’ve written about before, when we applied for our third international adoption in September, we did so wholeheartedly. We were all in. I won’t rehash our entire thought process when changes were brought to light, but you can read about it here if you want. We planned to simultaneously apply to two separate international programs, and see what happened next.

Well, what happened next was not what we were expecting. We planned on adding to our family at least one more time via international adoption (and someday maybe we still will), but God, once again, showed us he had other plans for our family. There are a variety of factors that contributed to this change of plans, but ultimately, what you need to know is this: once we changed our course, once we went into complete and utter unfamiliar territory, all those feelings of doubt and frustration disappeared. The weight we had unknowingly been carrying for months lifted off of our shoulders, and we finally knew we were moving in the right direction. The right door had opened.

img_8718And so.

Moving forward, onward and upward, we are now pursuing domestic adoption through Christian Adoption Consultants. Our home study will be complete by the end of next week, and we hope to be presenting to expectant mothers by the middle of March.

This is brand new territory for us, since our experience has only been limited to international adoption (NOT with infants either). However, we’re very excited about these new plans and hoping for a baby girl, a sister for some rock star big brothers who have already told me that they will change their baby’s diapers, feed her, and “rock her like this”. All of those things will not last long I am sure (and in the last instance, will be heavily supervised).

Why domestic? Why not another country? Why not “wait it out” with the existing country?

All I can say is each family is responsible for their own decisions and actions following prayer and consideration, and this is the direction we are taking. Our end goal is still the same. We are growing our family through adoption, the way God has adopted us into his family. While we mourn the could have been, we also celebrate that this little girl will still wear her PomPom the Panda shoes, because they are a part of her big brothers’ culture. We are each our own person, and we will continue to celebrate all of the cultures, ethnicities, and identities in our home.

 

When Derek was born, his birth mother chose life. We know, from her own words, that she refused to consider abortion. We pray for an expectant mom right now in whatever circumstance she’s in and whoever she may be, considering those same options, that she too will choose life and inextricably be woven into our family.

Because we are using an adoption consultant, we anticipate being matched sooner than later. You also might be surprised to know that domestic adoption is about one and a half times more than each of our previous international adoptions because of agency fees, lawyer fees, travel fees, hospital fees, prenatal care, etc. We have never believed that finances should stop you from adoption, because then we wouldn’t be trusting God to provide what we need–when we need it.

While we will anticipate being able to cover much of the cost ourselves, we once again are asking that you prayerfully consider helping provide toward our remaining need to our tax deductible AdoptTogether account. By using this account, all financial assistance will go directly to our agency. Unlike international adoption, where you pay in increments (almost like trimesters!), we need to have the full amount as soon as we are matched–which could be April or it could be August. We simply don’t know, which is why we need to be prepared.

As part of a video for our church this morning, our family contributed a small voiceover that I’d like to share with a bit more detail.

Adoption costs. It costs in more ways than you can ever imagine. It tests everything in you: your strength, your finances, your heart, your faith.

Yet there is not a dollar amount high enough, a hospital stay long enough, an amount of sleep deep enough, that will ever be greater than the life of a child.

When tested, the balance will never show that our personal cost is more important than having an impact on the eternal soul of a child.

Because of this, our family will always choose life. We will always choose hope.

No matter the cost.

 

 

 

The Boys’ Room 2.0

When we moved to this house, we knew our number one priority would be fixing up the boys’ room so that it would be as seamless of a transition as possible.

The problem is, we spent hours…days…weeks…making their room at the old house what I like to call magazine worthy.

 

Just about the only thing we didn’t change in that room was the flooring, since we put that carpet in around 2014 or so. Derek built the toddler beds, the top for the grouping of three Ikea Malm nightstands, and the wainscot on the walls. We painted that room twice since the first coat of gray wasn’t quite dark enough, we specially framed that animal map of the world from Etsy, bought special bedding from Land of Nod before it becameIMG_7097 Crate & Kids, and bought three sets of curtains before deciding on the ones that are pictured…that we had to leave at the old house when we moved. The whole room was a huge labor of love, to first welcome Jet home and then later Jude.

Basically, we had a lot to live up to if I wanted it to be even remotely similar.

Then, after we moved in, making the boys’ room took a backseat to helping them adjust to another new normal we had tossed at them, which I think we are finally pulling out of.

Plus, we were tired.

Also, their new room is the biggest bedroom in this house, so no pressure or anything.

May I present to you, the before pictures:

 

Lots of space. Lots of walls. And since we’re on the adoption budget, building our own wainscot again was not an option, and neither was hiring a painter.

We tossed around wallpaper for the window wall so that the shelves we bought to hold their growing collection of books would pop, but that wasn’t in the budget. We debated switching them to twin beds but these aren’t even a year old…and the boys still fit perfectly fine.

Just about the only thing we agreed on was the brand of paint, and thankfully, Sherwin-Williams always comes through for us since they saved the color we used in the old house for the boys’ room. Fun fact, this entire house is painted the same color; the ceilings, walls, and trim are all a neutral greige that we can live with but we know we will be updating soon.

IMG_6990 (1)And so, late last week we stopped and got three buckets of Lattice (the perfect neutral gray in my opinion) and a few gallons of ceiling white so that we can paint both the boys’ room now and the other bedroom in the future. Plus, this time around, we had four extra hands (that worked about five minutes but help is help).

Regardless, I think this was the absolute fastest we have ever painted a room. We decided not to use painter’s tape because with the right brush and a slow and steady hand (that would be Derek), there’s really no need for it. We started during nap time and finished by dinner–including the extra “help” we got along the way.

I also upgraded the boys’ curtains from a gray and white stripe linen to a thermal black and white stripe, courtesy of Amazon. I’ve been really impressed with a lot of the home stuff we’ve found on Amazon, whether it’s curtains or bedside tables or lamps or planters. I also look on Wayfair regularly for deals on home decor, but I had Amazon gift cards this time around! I picked a black and white stripe because I felt like it made the room just a little less babyish and a little more boyish. I don’t anticipate these curtains lasting until their teens, but it would be nice to not have to change them out in a year.

We hung the shelves, hung the framed poster, and I spent the day cleaning their room and semi-organizing it. May I finally present to you, the finished product!

IMG_7085

Because it’s such a big space, we knew their bedroom would also serve as a playroom since the rule in this house is they aren’t allowed to leave their room until Derek gets up for work (anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30). They got a Melissa & Doug Town Rug, along a matching wooden town play set and wooden town vehicles (not pictured). They also can use the top of their dresser as a train table if they so desire.

 

Like I said, it’s a really big space, so our shelves (which are actually Ikea picture ledges) are quite a bit bigger to hold and display all their books. If there are two things I’m particular on, it’s the quality of children’s books and toys. I don’t know what that makes me, but I don’t think it’s impractical to want books that teach some sort of lesson or to ask for toys that won’t break easily. (In this house, toys that don’t break easily are a must!)

IMG_7089The last little addition to the room is a more spacious reading nook with their little chairs, some board books I trust them with, and a play tent. Because of the tent’s stripes, I skipped curtains for the little window on that side of their room. I also did a massive stuffed animal clean out and kept only the meaningful ones (gifts) because with every blood draw, needle stick, or hospital stay we’ve gotten at least one stuffed animal (and in one case, a dog toy). They aren’t gone for good, just hiding in the closet.

Speaking of closets…that’s something you aren’t going to get a picture of, because that’s next on my list of things to organize. Their closet is massive. I’m thinking of putting in little wall push lights and bean bags for reading nooks once they outgrow their tent and chairs. Thoughts?

Anyway, that concludes the boys’ room upgrade, 2.0. Not even a year ago we were frantically changing Jordan’s nursery to a bedroom for two toddlers, and now we’re in a new house…and I can finally say one room done!

Just seven to go.
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Stay tuned for more room updates. Next is a playroom overhaul. We have a reason for our madness, and can’t wait to share more with you!
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I tried to link everything that we used, in case anyone was interested. Out of everything, I think the shelves from Ikea were my favorite purchase (and we bought those way back in July when we moved in)! Plus, of course, huge shout out to Derek for building the toddler beds and Ikea hacking the dresser. If you need something built, he’s your guy!

Present

Present: (adj.) being, existing, or occurring at this time or now; current.

I normally don’t do New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve never specifically set out to choose a “word” for my year, but this year I really want (and need) to keep my focus on something to remind me to stay in the moment…and I can’t think of a better word than present.

To stay present, to keep your focus in the moment, for some people might come easily.
For me, it does not.

image2If you suffer from anxiety in any way, shape, or form, you’ll understand why it’s so hard for me to stay present. At any given moment, I can think of at least twenty things that are playing in the back of my mind, much like Shel Silverstein’s poem “What If”. At the same time, I replay conversations and events in the past that I can’t change, yet still keep me up at night.

I came across a saying once, attributed to Isak Dinesen, that reads: You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.

That’s spot on accurate in my case. I believe another, and better, way to phrase this is found in Matthew 6 (vs 34): Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

So…how does one go about staying present, especially when one’s mind is always spinning ahead?

Every day, I’m committing to the following:

  1. Going outside.
  2. Taking time for myself, and just myself, to do something that brings me joy.
  3. Writing down a Bible verse or quote that specifically spoke to me that day.
  4. Writing down something that I am thankful for.

Why those four things?

Going outside helps clear my headspace (especially if it’s 15 degrees outside…that’ll clear anyone’s headspace). It brings my focus outside of the walls of our house that sometimes seem to close in. It gives me a purpose…whether that’s going to get the mail or picking up one of the kids from school or getting an iced coffee and a cake pop.

Taking time for myself doing something that brings me joy…that’s kind of two things in one. Taking time for yourself is important, when you’re constantly being pulled in a hundred directions, or so it sometimes seems. Doing something that brings you joy reminds you of who you are. Again, that small thing that brings you joy could be coffee with a friend, or twenty minutes with the door shut in your bedroom working on a puzzle on your iPad.

Writing things down is a proven tactic to improve your memory. Granted, for some people writing things down might just mean you remember you wrote something down somewhere, sometime; but in theory, writing something down in a designated place helps reinforce what you’ve learned. This gives me a challenge and purpose to study more, read more, and absorb more.

Going along with writing down a Bible verse or quote is also writing down something you’re truly thankful for. The key is to focus on the positive. We can always think of things we need to ask God help with or for, and there are definitely days where one child is in hour three of a hysterical fit and the other has shut down emotionally and the dog has decided to turn the living room into his personal outhouse that make it hard to find something to be thankful for. Finding something, anything to be thankful for, even if it’s as simple as “I’m thankful for iced lattes with classic syrup” is still worth remembering (and maybe worth a laugh down the road). image1

By doing this daily, eventually I hope my mindset changes that it’s no longer a chore to think of things I’m thankful for or to find things that bring me joy. That instead of approaching events or days with dread and worry, I can turn my thought process around little by little. And the reason for always writing all of these things down? To flip back in one month, six months, etc. on a particularly bad day when you’re having a hard time staying present (or even a good day for retrospection) to see your progress and strength and that I can do hard things.

And the only way I can do those things is to stay present. To focus on the here and now, and not worry about two weeks, two months, or two years from now, so that at the end of the day I can say I didn’t waste my time focusing on my worries and anxieties.

We have may exciting things happening in 2019, but with that excitement there’s still underlying fear and uncertainty. To risk a cliche, we don’t know the future, but we know Who holds the future. If you want to join me, or join us, in being present every day, I’d love to do it together with you. Hopefully, these practices we put into place will help bring peace, calm, and clarity along the way.

Happy New Year!