Wednesday, January 30, 2013

created for care

Getting away last weekend for the Created for Care retreat was wonderful.  It was so neat just to go!  The only person I packed for was myself!

Our kids were a tad scattered this time whereas normally they all go together to the same home of family/friends.  This time was different because JD had to take Avery to a meet a couple of hours away, so Payton and James headed home with my mom (who was no longer headed out of town) and Brooks and Jackson went to spend the night with one of their most favorite friend's.

Do you know I did not pack a single bag other than my own?!

Not one.

That is so not like me.   

It was so freeing to know that it would be fine.  That my mom and JD were perfectly capable (and willing!) to throw some stuff for the kids in bags and off they went.  

I can't tell you how neurotic I have been in the past.  And made myself completely crazy in the process.  I think I'm starting to finally relax a little as I get older.  Thank God!   

One of the things that made the retreat so wonderful was the serenity of Lake Lanier in Georgia.

I was so encouraged by the 450 (!) women there who have a spirit for adoption.  If I can go back every year, I'm there!

When we registered for the event, we had to answer a few basic questions about ourselves and our family.

This is cool:

More than 200+ of the women there had already adopted, the rest were waiting to bring their child(ren) home.

The 450 women there represented approximately 1,000 children whose lives have been/will be changed forever through the miracle of adoption.

There were some really cool, right-hearted companies there.  Such neat stuff for such great causes.   

And time set aside to draw a little closer to the Lord through slowing down and reflecting.   

And before I knew it, I was back in my rental car headed to the airport.  But not without the clouds clearing and the blessing of a beautiful sunrise. 

Saw this right after I stopped and watched some deer meander across the road.

As if all this weren't enough, I was also able to enjoy a leisurely brunch with my dear college friend, Karen.  She lives about 30 minutes from where the retreat took place.  Seeing each other face-to-face was such a treat!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I know I said...

...I'd do a post on Christmas and how it was to have James with us.  What is today?  Yeh, January 17th.    Does life really have to move at such a steady clip?

The crazy thing is I did most of this post weeks ago and never posted it.  Just moved right along and forgot all about it...

These are some of the highlights:

1.  A night driving around looking at the tacky Christmas lights with our dear friends, the Johnsons.  The best part is we were all able to fit in Tiny (our enormous van), so it was extra fun to do it, like, together-together.

2.  Saturday night church low-key, less crowded and all-around enjoyable.

3.  Lots of roaring fires in the fireplace.  JD builds -- and endlessly maintains -- a great fire!

4.  Lots of overeating.  Oh my.  So nice to have put that to an end with what has become an annual discipline for JD and me.

5.  Lots of giggles, laughter and noise from the kids.  At times, trying, but mostly music to our ears.  I'm still determined to capture James' awesome laugh and make it a ringtone.  Here's a sweet video of Avery and James performing (with our sweet babysitter, Madison, in the background).

6.  Lots of last minute Christmas cards.  It quickly became clear to me that the cards weren't getting out as early as in years' past, so my goal became getting them postmarked by Christmas.  I got them out on Christmas Eve!  Ha!  And, I believe I still have a few stragglers to send.  Doubt that's gonna happen.

7.  Christmas morning at home.  Pure joy.  Not one photo -- only a long video.

8.  Went to my folks' Christmas afternoon.  Christmas Part Two is below.  So great.

9.  Met old friends for dinner.  Enjoyed a long overdue evening catching up.  Sweet.

10.  So enjoyed a large, old-fashioned dance with DJ for the adoption community of greater Richmond!  What a blast!  We'll have to make this an annual thing.

As if the previous video wasn't proof enough of James' love of music and dance, he studied the DJ intensely watching him do his thing.  It was hilarious.  We all left there saying we could see DJing in his future.

11.   Went to see 'Les Miserables' with our dear neighbors and my momma -- and enjoyed yummy Mexican food afterward.

12.  Welcomed home all our college-student babysitters who we miss so much!  It was so great seeing them -- and having them here to babysit!  :)

13.  Had a quiet and lazy New Year's Eve.  Yes, I was in bed at, a-hem, 11:00 reading.  I soon dozed off and was awakened to the kids and JD screaming and gunshots.  Yes, someone nearby thinks the way to celebrate the New Year is to shoot off their gun.  Yikes.

Our elf, Jingle, is far less adventuresome as others'.  Oh my gosh -- if this wasn't the year of 'Elfs Gone Wild' I don't know when was!

One of our most favorite Christmas decorations is putting out our collection of carolers.  Oh how we love them.  The kids were over-the-moon when we were able to get a horse to go with our carolers this year.  Apparently Jingle was happy to have him, too.  

James' first Christmas was sweeet.  He didn't seem to get that Christmas day was the culmination of all the decorating, lights, music, baking, and celebrating, but he was very aware of the whole experience of the month leading up to the actual day.  He could easily verbalize that Christmas is Jesus' birthday, but does he fully understand and appreciate that?  Of course not.  But I believe he will.

All in all, it was a precious holiday season with Jimmy Jam here.  Who wouldn't enjoy that sweet child?  Albeit, he can be quite the fuss pot and crabby dude these days, if he so wishes.  I have to remember that he's three.  :)  


Sunday, January 13, 2013

so excited...

I got a gift the other day.

It wasn't a package at our front door. 

It was something I've been talking to God about for years.

I even mentioned it to JD a couple of months ago.

But it wasn't from him.

I didn't think I'd get it.

But I did...  :)

In 2009, I met a few people who talked about how they get away once or twice a year by themselves to lean in closer to the Lord.  I can't tell you how intriguing that was to me.  That year, and really several years prior, I had been able to slip away for a women's retreat here or there and one year I went to the MOPS Convention and I always felt recharged after getting away.

But I always did it with girlfriends.  Which I love.  And need.  

But over the last couple of years, I've started to yearn to get away by myself.  At first, I pictured myself booking a hotel room at the beach in the winter and just going by myself for two nights.  I imagined packing up my easel and supplies, a great book, the Bible and some nice play lists.  I even researched a particular spiritual retreat, but could never pull the trigger. 

Until now.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned to JD that for my 40th birthday ('s right around the corner!) I wanted to go to a Created for Care Retreat.  I learned about it a year or two ago and drooled all over my computer thinking about going to such a thing.  What I also learned when I looked into it back then is that it fills up fast.  Like within 24 hours.  Ugh.  So, thinking that I was ahead of the game, I hopped on their website this fall and planned to gather the information I needed to present the idea to JD only to find that it was already full!


So I put my name on the waiting list thinking the chances of getting in were zero to slim.

But alas!

Last week came an email.


But could we pull this off logistically and financially?

It's rarely simple for a mom to slip away with just over two weeks' notice.  And to complicate things, Avery has a sectionals meet that weekend that she's worked very hard for.  Would she even mind if I weren't there (since I'm the one that takes her to her meets)?  She didn't mind.  Especially knowing that her daddy would be there instead.  :)  But 'Does he know how to do everything?' she asked.  Hilarious.

Then it was on to seeing if I could make arrangements for our other children since driving two hours away, sitting at a meet for five hours and driving two hours home doesn't sound like a lot of fun if you have to drag four other kids along.

My mom!  She'll help out in a heart beat!

Ugh.  She and Allen are headed out of town that weekend for a little getaway themselves.

Our dear friends the Johnsons?  Whose kids often spend the night with us and our kids jump at the chance to spend the night with them.  But are they free?  They have such an active social life!  Surely they can't have a Saturday completely free just waiting to take our four kids in.

But they did!

God had His hand on this whole thing from the very beginning!

And, the financial piece?  After tapping into our travel rewards I was able to book my plane ticket for free!

In a way, this little getaway is from JD because he's so dang supportive any time I want to slip away.  I mean, he's happy to take Avery to her meet but now he has to figure out what to do with her hair (I think there's a 'meet hair' tutorial in Payton's future).  JD's always been so supportive of me in this regard.  'If we can work it out (which isn't always the case), then I should go' seems to be his motto.

So, I'm going all by myself.  I don't know a soul who's going.  I have a hotel room all to myself.  What in the world will I do with a king room?  Ha!  But I can't wait!  And, I'm sure I'll meet some amazing women.  I'll let you know all about it!

12 days and counting...

Sunday, January 6, 2013


The last couple of weeks were so delicious, I can hardly stand to see them go.  It was so, so fantastic to have JD home for ten days straight.  I can't even tell you.

The kids being out of school.

So many lazy mornings.

In fact, we had something happen...a once-a-year-fluke-kind-of-thing... morning...

...we slept until...




Brooks and Jackson got so good about waking up and tiptoeing through the house to get themselves a cereal bar and slipping back downstairs to the Wii that we didn't hear a peep.  James slept until 9:00.  Payton and Avery (of course!) slept until 9:00.  It was amazing.  We woke up and couldn't believe our eyes when we looked at our clock!

Last week, it all started to unravel.

JD went back to work on Wednesday.

Now,'s officially over.

The kids go back to school.

It's reeally early mornings for us all.

It's always sad to me when these sweet spots in life come to an end.  I just want to continue on in this ethereal state.

I've also been full of reflection lately.  Wrapping up a very eventful year for us makes me want to reflect on this time last year.  Wow, it sure was a time of anticipation.  I think back and I can hardly stand the feeling I resurrect in my emotions.  Almost a sick-to-my-stomach angst to get to James.  And now he's been here for almost a year.  In some ways, I simply can't believe it.  In others, if feels like longer.

But the cool thing is, because of this little blog, I am able to go back and read what I wrote then.  In fact, there was even a post made on this very day one year ago.  Oh the angst.  The analysis.  The energy that went into surmising when he would be ours.

Funny, how I was talking about traveling in March and we left on March 1st.

I'm in awe of how far this child has come in such a short time.  The holidays were pure joy with him.  I'll post photos and videos soon.  So, so fun.



I realize not all adoptions are created equal.

But I can be a bit neurotic in times like this.

Ask JD.

But when you're crazily trying to anticipate something that you can't really anticipate well at all, it's helpful (for me) to hear other's experiences.  It just helps for me us to talk to other families who've been in our shoes and hear how things panned out for them in this final stage of this long, arduous process.

So, here's my hypothesis:

We're not traveling until March.

This is why...

It seems from others that the time between the Article 5 being issued (ours was *supposed to be* issued yesterday) and receipt of the Travel Approval is about a month.

Article 5 to Travel Approval = 1 Month

Travel approval to getting on the plane = 2 weeks

I know what you're thinking because I'm thinking it too...

A month from now, is mid-February.  Perhaps you'll travel by the end of February!?

A-ha!  There's a huge wrench in the plan one problem.

Chinese New Year.

It seems China kind of shuts down for a couple of weeks as they celebrate their grandest cultural tradition.  In fact, our agency doesn't even allow families to be in China traveling during that time.

So, my heart of hearts says it's gonna be March.

And that's okay, you know why?

Because A) it'll be here before we know it, and B) by the time we get back, it'll practically be Spring!

Glorious, life-giving, get-us-out-of-this-house, put-James-in-the-stroller-and-let's-go, Spring!

I cannot wait!  It'll be the best Spring ever!
And it really was such an amazing Spring.  It's like we got off the plane and went straight to spending our afternoons sitting outside.  And watching him refuse to touch the grass.  Or know what to do when the breeze blew through his hair.  He was a baby then.  He's such a toddler now. 

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