Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

I still have family in from out of state, so this post is just a quick notification of the winners from the giveaways!

Winner of the One Year of Joy and Laughter is Alison!

The winners of the Memory Books are Ian's Mommy and Alissa!

The winner of the CD is Melissa!

I am going to start working on the gifts for all who entered next week too!  I also need to post about Christmas. Just not enough hours in the day!

I hope  you all had a peaceful Christmas and are preparing for a blessed New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! (and a Giveaway!)

Merry Christmas readers!!!

I have been pretty absent the past couple of weeks, but today I am co-hosting the last day of Tina's 25 Days of Giveaways!  Yay!  Since I know ya'll have tons of things to do and family to spend time with, I'll keep it short and sweet!

First off, I know that since today is Christmas, so I thought I would give away some gifts that would be good for the New Year.

Giveaway #1

My babies in Heaven have beautiful names.  Shyla Joy and Jakin Isaac.  The mean Creative Joy and God Will Establish Laughter.  So what better thing to give to one of you than this One Year of Joy and Laughter Devotional?  I seriously want to keep it for myself.  Joy and Laughter were both things that were (and sometimes still are) hard to come by after the loss of a child or children.


Giveaway #2

In the Company of Angels  
A Memorial book from
This memorial book is basically a baby book for a loss mom.  It is beautifully done.  (And please still enter for this item if you have lost twins or more than one baby...I have two to give away!  My babies were not twins, but I feel the need to keep everything "even" just as if they were here.)


Giveaway #3

The third giveaway is a CD.  This CD has a selection of songs that have helped me through the loss of my two beautiful babies and many of the songs are included in the care packages that we take to the hospitals and have been used in memorial services around the country (I sent several of these CD's to October 15th event organizers last year).


The giveaways will be open until 11:59pm December 27th and winners will be announced the next day.  I would like to also offer something special to everyone that enters, but it will be a surprise, so please leave the following info when commenting below:

*Which item(s) you would like to be entered for (just let me know if you would be happy winning any of the items or if you just want to be entered for a specific one or two).

*Your baby or babies names.

*Your email address.

*And if you would like please include something that has brought you joy or laughter since your loss.

Love and Hugs to all and I hope you all have had a Merry, Peaceful, Joyful Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just Catching Up

My guest post for 12 Days of Christmas with you in Heaven posted today at Small Bird Studios.  I wrote out our Christmas Stocking Project and how much it has blessed us at Christmas time.  I think I will do this again this year...

Jakin's first birthday in Heaven (aka Thanksgiving Day) has come and gone and I haven't had a chance to post about it.  It was a hard day.  Much harder than Shyla's first was.  Maybe because on her first we had the hope for him...I'm not sure...but we did spend much time together as a family.  I cried when I needed to cry and we took him a balloon and visited the cemetery.  I also spent most of the morning making the Christmas saddles for their rocks.  Complete with white poinsettias (and a pink and blue one too!) glitter and a sparkling dragonfly each.

 It was a long day and honestly, I'm kind of glad it has passed. It is so much easier to look on the holidays with Joy after the hardest days have passed and I know that that day was the hardest.

We got our Christmas tree on Sunday and putting the ornaments on is always such a rush of memories.  This year was no different.  Each ornament was placed with love and a smile.  We have so many ornaments from Shyla's first Christmas in Heaven and a few from Jakin's last year as well.  Also adorning our tree are ornaments Ethan has picked out every year and a picture from the day he was born.  I now also have many of the ornaments from when I was a child.  It was a beautiful night decorating the tree (except when the beautiful live tree took a nose dive on me!)

Anyway, I'm still here and I plan on updating again soon.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are preparing for a peaceful Christmas season.

Much love.

November in Review

I've been in kind of a rut lately, but I really want to get back into blogging.  I don't guess not writing for 2...well, 3 weeks is considered being out of blogging, but I feel like I need it.  It's like therapy to me.  Writing and putting myself out here makes me accountable with my emotions and helps me see things from a different point of view.

So, in an effort to get back into the swing of things. I'm going to do this ridiculously random post.  Ready?  Here goes...

First off, 11-11-11.  We had fun with carrots and home made pizza sticks. And we wrote a whole lot of ones.

Thanksgiving has come and gone and we did lots of fun Thanksgiving-ish things that week.  Mostly with food.  Have I mentioned just how much I love pinterest?  These are all photos of creations I copied from ideas I found there.

(found this idea here)
(found this idea here...but I like how our colors turned out better)

(and found this idea here and made some adjustments to what we had at home.)

We also had our "Thankful turkey" in our kitchen.  Every night we would all write something we were thankful for on a feather and add it to our turkey.  These were just some of my favorite feathers written by Ethan...

Thanksgiving Day (November 24) was also our third child, Jakin Isaac's 1st birthday in Heaven.  One year ago on the 23rd he passed away in the womb and on the 24th he was born.  My brother and sis-in-law sent us flowers to let us know they were thinking of us.  It was a pretty hard day, to be quite honest.  But we spent it with family and I spent the morning making the Christmas saddles for Shyla and Jakin's rocks.

Lets see, what else was going on in November...Ethan finally got to watch Cars Two and loved it.  He has rekindled his love for his toy cars and has been playing with and drawing them like crazy.

663B1435.jpg McQueen

I learned how to make cinnamon-sugar donuts.  And they are yummy.  And I made them again this morning.  And (enter guilty mommy voice here) Ethan ate two and about three donut holes for breakfast this morning.


I also started working on LOTS of handmade gifts that I will just have to wait until after Christmas to post because you just never know who might come across this little ol blog of mine before then.

I guess I'm about all caught up!  Except to say that we have had massive issues with internet and computers and it has taken me 2 days to write this post.  And now I remember why I haven't been posting as often!  Hopefully we can get this all resolved soon and this can get to be much easier and more enjoyable again.

Be sure to check back soon, because I have several posts in the works.  An update on my dad, a giveaway, an interview and an adoption post.  And we will probably throw in a fundraiser somewhere in there for good measure!

Thank you all for your love and prayers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remembering Jakin's Healing

One year ago today, Jakin's heart was healed and he went home to Heaven.  I've just re-read my post from that day and I only kind-of remember writing it.  I have no doubt God was carrying us through those days.  It's a little harder today than it was then, in a way.  I don't know what I should be doing today.  I'm not sure how much more I can even elaborate, words are kind of escaping me today.  So I will just leave it quoting myself from my post I wrote one year ago today...

Ecclesiastes 7:1 says "A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth."  
Today was better than tomorrow.  


Friday, November 18, 2011

Pinned Image

I woke up at 4:00 this morning.  And I couldn't go back to sleep.  First my mind went to some Christmas gifts I need to make.  Then on to my to-do-list today. Then I couldn't help it going where it has been going lots lately.  To my littlest child.  Jakin's first birthday in Heaven is next week.  I grieve that I feel like we will not celebrate his life the same way we did Shyla's.  We had a beautiful celebration for her 1st.  Jakin's first is on Thanksgiving Day.  I know it wont happen.  I know there will be very few that think to speak his name that day.  
I laid there this morning and asked my husband a "why" question.  I knew he wouldn't have the answer...and I really give an honest effort to stay away from the "why"s.  I asked him "Why did he have to die at Thanksgiving? Isn't it enough we buried two of our children?  Shyla's original due date was Thanksgiving too. Double whammy.
I'm having a harder time being at peace now than I was when we were approaching Shyla's first.  I wish I could keep from comparing them.  But I can't help it.  Don't we all try to treat our children fairly?  What we do for one, do for the other(s)...
I really need some prayers to help me focus on God and his peace right now.  I know that those things can be found only in Him.  I need His strength, and I need him to carry me through.  I have no doubt He is near, but sometimes the grief is just stronger than others.  
And now is one of those times.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Hope Fulfilled: Interview Project

November is National Adoption Month and to celebrate, Heather from Production, Not Reproduction organized the adoption bloggers Interview Project!  Bloggers with experiences in all kinds of of adoption joined in and were randomly paired together for interviews.

I was paired with Michelle from My Hope Fulfilled.  It has been a blessing learning more about Michelle and her beautiful family.  Michelle blogs about her family, open adoption, parenting, and other fun things.  You can read her story HERE.

Below is my questions (in bold) and her answers.  You can read my answers to her questions on this post.

Q:  When you were in the beginning phases of the adoption process, what were the major factors that led you to domestic infant adoption?

: : The cost, the timeline, and the average age of the child placed in our family.  

Q: After talking to other adoptive parents, I often learn that husbands and wives often have very different concerns about adoption.  Was that the case for you?   If so, what were some of your husband's concerns? What kind of concerns did you have?

: : We had discovered that we had a common interest in adoption before we even began dating.  So when fertility issues arose, it seemed like an obvious choice.  My husband was quicker to jump aboard the adoption train, but I think that's because fertility treatments would have involved some needles going in placed he had no interest in getting poked {here's a post about that}.  Our main concern was cost - how would we ever afford it?!  God blessed us with people who helped out financially, some part time jobs where we could earn extra money, and a family member who gave us an interest free loan until we get the tax credit money back.

Q:  I love the scripture in your tagline (it is one of the verses my 4 yr old has memorized).  What were some of the other scriptures you clung to during the wait?

: : Sometimes I wonder if I had the best attitude while waiting...I really clung to Psalms 20 and 103 which deal with God granting you the desires of your heart if you delight in Him.  At one point in my life, I was sure I never wanted children, but God changed my heart on that, so I held on to the fact that if He placed the desire on my heart to be a mom, He was going to fulfill it.

Q:  I noticed that you are a scrapbooker (me too!), how much of your adoption story do you plan on including in your son's scrapbooks?  Will you include every detail, or an abbreviated version?

: : A lot of it!  I didn't go into the heart breaking weeks that unfolded during the beginning of his life, but I will tell him all about that someday.  All the happy things surrounding the adoption, including tons of pictures of his birth family are included.  Between the scrapbooks and my blog, he's going to get pretty much the whole story!

Q:  The relationship you have with your son's birth mom is beautiful.  What led you to choose open adoption?

: : Honestly, I'm not sure.  I think I was just so desperate for a baby, I was willing to broach any kind of openness situation.  However, the more I read about open adoption I realized what a healthy relationship it could be for birth mom and adoptee (and everyone else, too).  When I found the blog, Heart Cries, I was sold.  I realized I actually wanted an open adoption.  When Jen picked us, I don't think she intended for us to have as open of an adoption as we have, but it's beautifully unfolding.  We are facebook friends, live about 35 minutes apart, and invite each other to our children's birthday parties.  It is like we have a very special part of our extended family.

Q:  What are some of the blessings of open adoption?

: : Knowing that Levi will never have to wonder if anyone wanted him.  He'll always know he was loved, he will always know his first family.  The more people to love on my son, the better!  On the flip side, I love that open adoption gives Jen the opportunity to see Levi grow up and see how absolutely adored he is.  Also, open adoption is great for obvious reasons like health issues.  We found out his birth father is highly allergic to strawberries, and his birth mother has some dairy issues, so it's helped us watch out for those things in the food that we give Levi.  

Q:  What are some of the harder parts of open adoption?

: : The more I get to know my son's birth mother, the more I love her, and the more I ache for her over the decision she made.  I wrote a post about it {here}.

Q:  How do you decide how much of your life to share on your blog?

: : I try to be pretty transparent.  I have a hard time keeping anything in my own life "private."  If there's ever a question about whether or not I should share something on the blog, I run it by my husband.  He's got great discernment.  But honestly, the only things I've not written about in detail are those things which are nitty gritty and not edifying to anyone anyway.

Q:  When do you find time to blog?

: : I usually blog in the evenings.  Our computer is in the living room so I can blog while my husband watches TV and we are still "together."  I also get things done during Levi's naps.

1Q:  When (in the process) and how did you tell your families you were starting the adoption process?  What were their reactions?

: : Pretty much as soon as we decided to start looking into it.  Everyone was supportive but some were a little bit concerned about the potential emotional roller coaster.  I think most of those fears were actually realized when our adoption was temporarily disrupted, but in the long run, Levi's adoption has been a huge bonding point for our families.

Friday, November 11, 2011

One Year Ago

We learned we were having another boy!

We already knew his name was Jakin Isaac (God Will Establish Laughter).

We learned his little heart was beating WAY too fast.

We were sent to the high risk OB early to receive a diagnosis of SVT (which later changed).

We asked for prayer and we prayed the word over our son.

We asked others to do the same...

In just short of two weeks, our boy will be celebrating his first birthday in Heaven.

It almost seems too surreal at times, that I even had him.  That I held his little body and buried him beside his sister.  Maybe it was all the medication.  Maybe it was God's protection.  Maybe it was all I could do to face the Holiday's grieving again.  

Please keep us in mind on the 24th.  Thanksgiving Day.  It will have been one year since I saw that precious little face and held that tiny little perfect hand...

Update on Dad

As today is Veteran's Day, I thought it might be appropriate to ask for prayers for my Dad.
Dad in the Army.  He is a Vietnam Veteran.

He was supposed to be finishing chemo this week, but when he had his bloodwork done last week, his white blood cell count was way too low.  They ordered him to stay home, not to be around people (if anyone came in sick it could be very bad for him) and to come back in a week.  If his numbers looked better, they will consider starting up again.  A few weeks ago (midway through treatment) they did a scan and said the tumor is not shrinking, but it wasn't growing either.  So right now we are just waiting it out.
We also had a death in the family last week. I don't feel I should go into details here, but one of my cousins (on my dad's side of the family) passed away and his two children and family need prayers.
I live over an hour away from my Dad and his family and after my parents divorced, I really didn't see them much.  His family has endured a lot of tragedies and need to be covered in prayer.
I sincerely thank each of you who takes the time to pause and pray over this situation.
And don't forget to thank the Veterans you know for their service.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Laundry Soap

I know I have mentioned before that I like to be frugal.  My husband and I have always been a little bit more conservative when it comes to spending our money (after all, it's not really OUR money's all God's).  We love Dave Ramsey and we even have his Act Your Wage board game (bought 1/2 price as a Christmas gift last year) and Ethan has the "give", "save", "spend" banks and Financial Peace Junior. Also bought on sale.  We believe in striving to be and stay debt free and we would LOVE to be able to adopt debt free as well (although we have agreed that adoption is something that we would go into debt for if there was absolutely no way around it).  I thought I might occasionally post some of the things we do to save money and live within the blessings that we have.

Today I wanted to let you guys in on a little secret that has probably saved us an estimated $300 over the past 2 years.  Homemade laundry detergent.  Yup.  It will be 2 years in January since I started making our own laundry soap.  I started with liquid and about a month ago changed to the powder recipe.  I like it SO much better and it is SO much less messy/easier to make!  Here is the recipe I use now that I found HERE (well, really I found it on pinterest and it took me to there):

1 bar Fels-Naptha (grated)
1 cup Borax
1 bar Goats Milk Soap
2 cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

First, I grated the soaps.  I didn't even think about using the grater on my food processor, but I used my cheese grater and it worked just fine.
Next, put grated Fels-Naptha in food processor and swirl until it's as tiny as you can get it.  Then add Borax and pulse, add goats milk soap and pulse, then the soda and pulse until well mixed.  Make sure to store in an air tight container and use 1-2 Tbs per load depending on need.

Here is just a few notes about this process...

Your grated Fels-Naptha will look like grated cheese.  Almost yummy enough to eat...almost...

You can use Baking Soda instead of Washing Soda in a pinch (or if you happen to still have some from the 13 pound bag you bought at Sam.s Club).  I have always used Baking Soda, it's easier to find and it has always worked with my liquid detergent and fabric softener.  

I love it!  It has worked great on all my loads so far and the only stain I have yet to get out is a pesky ink stain on one of my hubby's shirts (any advice on this one?

So, there it is, I don't think I will ever pay $7 for detergent again when I can make it for pennies per load!

What are some of your favorite money saving ideas?


Linking up with WFMW
works for me wednesdays

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Adoption Update

Well, I guess this title is a bit misleading.  There is really no new news in about the adoption.  Things are still were they were in May (as far as I know).  I did have a conversation with our social worker last month when I was sending my employer change letter and she said that the best estimate she had heard was that referrals would resume in late November.  Once they start issuing new referrals, our file would be sent.

So here we are, waiting.  In January we were told to expect a referral by fall...well, I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen since our file hasn't even made it to Korea yet :-)  I'm thinking that if all goes smoothly, we are probably looking at another year before we bring our baby home.  In one breath, that feels so daunting, but in the next I am calm about it.  We have kind of settled into the wait and are putting our hope in Him.

We know that God has the best timing and we know that if we seek Him before all else, He will work all things for our good (Romans 8:28).  

I have been reading other adoptive moms that are now waiting for their referrals.  They describe it as in the last days of pregnancy and the anxiousness of when exactly you will see your baby's sweet face for the first time.  My emotions are more like a momma trying to get pregnant.  Everyday it's like waiting to see if that pregnancy test is positive.  Everyday I wonder if I will get the call (or maybe email) saying that our file is sent and we will officially be on the wait list.    

We are waiting and we are trusting....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Miscellany Monday

Time for some more Miscellany!

1. I had some time a few weeks ago to finally make some cards to send.  And today, I finally had time to send some of them.

2. This is one of my favorites...

3.  The little birdies are cute too...

4.  Maybe the lanterns are my favorites. Simple and cute...

5.  I love our semi-local "everything $1" store and finding great little packs of embellishments like this...

6.  I have to admit...I'm addicted to coffee.  I would love to buy a mocha everyday...but I'm really cheap  adopting and watching my I figured that some coffee, homemade whipped topping (frugality first!) and a little chocolate syrup can go a long way to meeting that craving :)

7. Again, for the sake of being frugal, I created a recipe of things on-hand for some fall candy.  I was going to make fudge, but was missing a couple main ingredients.  So...I made up this recipe!  (I'll have to share another day!)

8. Soccer season is (FINALLY) over for both my husband and child!  Woohoo!  I, let's be honest, this season was drawn out about 3 weeks longer than it should have been due to weather delays and getting started late and such.  And since my husband is an official for high school soccer, he's been gone a lot and I'm ready for some cozy nights at home.  But, little man had so much fun...

9.  I might need to put off many cozy nights at home with the whole family...the hubs started officiating basketball last week :)

10.  IT IS NOVEMBER!!!! Which means that sometime in the next 23 days, our file should  be leaving the US for Korea!!!!  Keep us in your prayers that things go according to HIS plan!

I'm linking up with Miscellany Monday.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Remember

I'm participating in Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday.  The rules are simple...

    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!
    The topic of "remember"  is an easy one to write about right now.  Last night, I had the honor of speaking at the 3rd annual Hold Life Precious Banquet.  The banquet is the largest fundraising event the crisis pregnancy center which I am a co-director holds. I remember meeting a little less than 3 years ago and talking about the Center getting started.  As a school social worker, it was going to be a great resource for the teens that I worked with.  
    I remember laughing with the ladies who started the center that it was interesting we were having lunch and talking about unplanned pregnancies...I had just found out I was pregnant with my second child just after I had gotten accepted into the advanced standing graduate school to get my MSW.
    I remember, just a few months later, I donated all the little girly things we had gotten for our daughter, just a week after her death.  I remember the odd combination of emotions leaving my daughters things for others to the same time, the amazing gratitude that the Center was there for us to pass these items along to families in need.
    I remember two years ago, speaking at the first ever Hold Life Precious Banquet and telling Shyla's story.  Keeping her memory alive.
    I remember last year, being about 16 weeks pregnant with Jakin and rubbing my tummy as the praise band sang and I began to feel his little kicks.
    I remember how God worked all his miracles and blessings in disguise in order to open the door to allow me to be a part of this ministry.  
    And lastnight, I got to share these memories with our guests and donors and watch God move on behalf of those in need of His love.  
    I always want to remember how God works things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday again!

Time for some more random thoughts!

 1. We made cake batter cookies last week and one little guy found out how much he loves them.

2. Cake batter cookies are better with funfetti frosting :)

3. As per normal Sunday afternoon routine, we visited with my Grandmother and I wanted to snap some memories of her house at fall.  This dish of candy corn is a fall favorite.

4.  Another favorite is playing with her California Raisins.  My Grandma used to own a Hall.mark store and when she closed, she had lots of these little guys.  My cousins and I played with them while we were growing up and now our kids play with them too.  Love these little guys!

5.  Not to sound ignorant, but is this a butterfly cocoon?  We found several of these on a tree at my mom's house and wonder if it is a fluke for this time of year...

6.  Ethan discovered the fun of doing this recently...

7.  Fall is definitely in the air here!  The weather has been crisp and these little guys are crawling around.  (Random fact:  I sat up a booth one time at a festival called the "Wooly Worm Festival"  They had Woolyworm races and everything.)

8.  We haven't decorated Ethan's big pumpkin yet, but we got these two little ones ready to take the the babies special place for them.

9.  We (the hubby) grilled egg plant for the first time and we had egg plant burgers this weekend.  I have to say they were yummy and very economical!

10.  Thursday night Ethan and I had a little accident.  It could have been so much worse though and I am SO happy all that we ended up with is me with a sore neck and back and mud in our hubcaps.  Well, that's not entirely true, we also ended up with 4 brand spankin' new tires and the bill to match.  BUT, I feel MUCH safer knowing they are on there and I wont go sliding across the opposite lane of traffic and into a very big ditch and almost flip our jeep because the tires are not in good shape.  Yay!  I was very freaked out, but everything is ok and Ethan has been telling the story to everyone since then.  "Mommy said, 'HOLD ON!' and we went 'swoosh'...'then we went 'BUMP! BUMP! BUMP!' Then I said, 'Mommy, let's not do that again."


10. I'll posting again later today about Halloween.  It probably won't be a very popular post, but I believe it needs to be passed on.  Please be kind and if you would like to leave a comment, I encourage it, but please be respectful :-)

Linking up with Miscellany Monday and NOBH.