Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I promised an update on little Mara. While there is obviously a lot that I cannot say, what I can say is this. At the last court hearing scheduled there were two possible outcomes. 
  1. The judge would accept the reintegration plan that was written by Youthville that would place Mara back with her father. This option would mean that Derek and I would be out of the running to ever adopt her.  She would go through the process of moving back with her father and we would be left with empty arms and hearts.
  2. The judge would reject the reintegration plan. This would mean that he did not see dad as a viable option for Mara's future living. This would mean that there would be a future possibility of her becoming open to adoption and us stepping in.
I spent that week anxiously awaiting the hearing and really wanted to be there to hear what took place.  Unfortunately, that morning was when it was decided that Mara needed to be admitted to the hospital.  So, I went the way of the hospital and sent Derek on to court so we could still hear what happened.  I watched the clock, prayed, checked my phone. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. My stomach felt unsettled and I couldn't wait to know. Finally, Derek showed up and I prepared myself to hear, "the judge went with the reintegration plan."  To my amazement, however, the motion for reintegration was highly protested by the State and the judge rejected it.  Praise the Lord! While this in NO WAY guarantees that we will ever be able to make her a permanent part of our family and the road is still very, very long it does still keep us in the running which is so wonderful.

It took a while for me to process what had happened.  I think I had so prepared myself for the worst.  That there was no way that the judge, who has such minimal knowledge of the case, would go against the report that was written by those involved in what is taking place. Later as I continued to think about the fact that we could still have future with Mara I realized just how little faith I must have had in my prayers that it would go in our favor. I was so frustrated in myself for my doubt. I know that in some ways I was preparing myself for the worst. Trying (inadequately) to protect my heart. But had I so quickly forgotten what I had learned about prayer just months before from Paxten? How could I go before God all week asking him for the plan to be rejected and then be SO surprised when it was? While I claim to hold to faith what a level of unfaith was staring me in my face. I'm grateful for a God that is so forgiving. So patient. So supportive. I'm seeing that I've still got a long way to go in my confidence in prayer. I'm working on setting in my memory these verses...
"Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God." 1 John 3:21
"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." I John 5:14-15  
Thank you so much for those that have prayed for our little family. Having Mara all to myself for four days in the hospital just reinforced how much I love her, how much in my heart she is. There are still a lot of obstacles ahead of us but I plan on tackling them in prayer with confidence!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Out of the Fog

Ugh, what a time we've had lately.  I fell a tad bit lot bit run over by the last 13 days.  Two weeks ago Amara started in with a pretty bad sounding cough with a light wheeze.  We headed to the doctor who felt it was just cold....keep her hydrated, prop her mattress up, etc. Three days later her breathing had gotten very shallow, fast and noisy.  I wasn't comfortable sticking around the house anymore wondering if it was pneumonia, RSV, croup, etc so her and I headed to the ER.  They did a breathing treatment, deep suction and had her fall asleep to check her oxygen levels while sleeping. They were a tad low for my liking but we got sent home anyway with our very own nebulizer with breathing treatments and a prescription to come back up to four times a day for seven days to get her suctioned. Oh sure, a quick run to the ER four times a day fits perfectly in with our days....

After three days of me taking her at 6 am and 8 pm to get suctioned and NO improvements in her sleeping, eating and breathing I went back to her doctor to get another opinion about her cough.  I found it hard to believe that the ER people seemed so unconcerned. As they were doing their routine check-in stuff they did a quick look at her oxygen levels...88% (100% is where we should be).  The nurse stops a second then says....."I'll be right back." She comes rushing back with an oxygen tank.  Finally, someone with some concern over this number (which, by the way we had seen each time we checked into the ER).  Apparently at this office it is their common procedure to immediately send any baby with levels like that over to be admitted to the hospital.  A pain, yes, but honestly also a little bit of a relief.  After 8 days of me constantly on edge about her breathing, her choking and the lack of improvement I was happy to pass that worry on to the professionals.  We spent four days and three nights there where it was confirmed she had RSV and was just monitored with the aid of oxygen and fluids until we could wean her off of both. 

She was a super popular little girl...

In the mean time, my amazing husband held down the fort at home with our other two little ones who also had RSV, just not bad enough to need the aid of the hospital.  He did a wonderful job and the house was spotless when we came home, laundry done and folded, dishes put I love him!

Brecken still has it the worst but nothing like Mara had.  She tires quickly but boy does this mommy selfishly love her snuggle time while she's feeling down!

So, we're all home together and while everyone still shows signs of it, coughing, runny noses, gunky eyes, I think (PRAY) we're on the uphill side at least.

This was the first time we've had to take any of our little ones to the hospital and while it was hard, and frightening it was so much different put into the perspective of what Blake and Libby went through with their little Pax. I don't know where I thought we'd be checked in at but as I followed the nurse up to our room I started to realize that we'd be going to Paxten's floor. The one we visited her at all those months. The closer we got to those double doors opening into the pediatric wing the heavier my feet got and I fought back tears.  I didn't want to be here.  And as each day passed I would think, how did they do it for SO MANY months? I had the knowledge that Mara was probably one of the healthiest on the floor. I didn't really have to wonder if she'd pull through and we'd get to go home.  What a mental, emotional and spiritual strain that must have been hour by hour. 

Nurses recognized us from our visits or from our updates on facebook during the wost of it.  One recognized Derek's P4P bracelet on his wrist.  Everyone asked about Blake and Libby and one guy said that Paxten is still brought up at least once a day somewhere in conversation.  Paxten, Blake and Libby made an impact on that floor with each and every nurse and doctor they worked with.  What an amazing testimony to her little life and the faith of her parents.  I'm honored to call them friends and so thankful for an example of what it means to triumph in adversity.

I'm so happy to put this yuckiness behind us and to not be closed in my house anymore. We're all very stir-crazy around here! Thank you to those of you who knew about our sick little family and were praying. Thank you to a sweet cousin who went out of her way to bring us a meal so I didn't have to worry about Derek and the girls back home. Thank you also for those of you who prayed dilegently for an important court hearing Mara had when we were in the hospital. I will update on that situation soon!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

6 Months of Love

I made the mistake of blinking and this one had the nerve to go and turn 6 months.  RUDE!

We love Mara so much and have had a lot of fun getting to know her sweet personality.  She is seriously one of the best babies I've ever met.  She can play on the floor FOREVER and rarely fusses.  She loves watching the bigger girls play and laughs the longest and loudest at them.  She FINALLY rolled from tummy to back but is still working on the other direction.  She found her feet which I find so cute.  Her hair is pointed in a different direction every time she gets out of bed or her carseat and has to be brushed often because the tangles build fast.  She is growing almost faster than I can keep up with.  I feel like I'm constantly searching the clothes tubs for the next size up for her. 

There are still a lot of unknows in Mara's future and some important dates coming up for her case.  We would love to have her part of our family forever but I know we have to prepare our hearts to say goodbye too. There have been a lot of tears but boy have the joys been so worth it! If you think of our sweet girl please pray for her future and the decisions that will be made that will forever alter her life's direction. Pray for our hearts too. She's in there deep. 

Happy 6 months to our sweet serene little girl!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The "Ghost House"

A year and a half ago we bought a large lot with our best friends, built four town homes moved into two and have had adventures in land-lording since then. We apparently hit our heads hard on something since that process and forgot what it was like when our husbands were gone each evening building not one but FOUR houses, and we were left behind to rear children that, quite frankly, are as tired of us as we are of them by 6 at night.  However, all craziness and insanity aside, we're about to do it again.  We've had our eye on this large lot with a sad, boarded up old house for quite some time.  After months of trying to track down who owned it, where it came from and what we might be able to get it for we gave up.  Then, suddenly a couple months ago a For Sale sign was up in the yard and we pounced. 

Now, we are the proud(?) owners of this beauty.  Sadly, it has to be torn down 1, because the city says so and 2, so we can get hopefully three units on it to rent out. You know, more bang for our buck.

Inviting, right? 

Taryn and London call it the "ghost house".  Now, I'm a sucker for old houses and I really do hate to see this one torn down. We've already had someone contact us who is interested in pulling out some of the trim and door frames to use in their older home that they are trying to keep true to the original design in.  We also plan on pulling out the two sets of french doors and maybe some of the stair rails and ballisters.  I'm still sad for the house though.  And in case we've hurt the home's feelings I can attest to the fact that it was once much loved and very quaint. One of my best friends in High School lived here and it was different back then.  It is so amazing what a few years of sitting empty can do to a place. 

Wish us luck!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Happy late Valentine's Day!  I know that this isn't a holiday for everyone.  You know, "Hallmark Day" or "Singles Awareness Day" or "Commercialized Love Day".  And I can understand all that.  But....I just happened to meet the man I would marry on Valentines Day ten years ago now so I'm kinda fond of the day myself.  : )  I mean, meeting my forever valentine on Valentine's Day!?!  Come'on.  It doesn't get any sappier than that!

A couple months ago I came across an adorable idea on Pinterest.  I quickly e-mailed my go-to talented photographer/designer friend and asked if we could make it happen.  She said, "of course!"  She always tells me that.  : )

So, when we were getting Brecken's one year photos done we snapped a couple quick ones of Taryn for this project too.  I LOVE how they turned out.  They make me SO happy!!  

So, next year when you want something besides the store-bought generic stuff give Rebecca at Maray Photography a call. She's so fun, I promise! It was quick, painless, affordable and much more personal.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Winter Swim = Summer Freedom

A lot of our summer is spent outside and at the pool or the lake.  So, in preparation of possibly having two tiny ones to keep an eye on in the baby pool and knowing that I was pushing the limits of Taryn's interest in it last year (I mean she can see the big kid pool just across the sidewalk) I decided the girl better learn to swim before summer so I could worry just a tad less about her being in that big pool while I tried to corral the little ones at the baby pool.  Taryn's best friend London had the same need.  So, the girls got enrolled in swim lessons at a pool that has a good reputation of teaching kids to swim.  I felt pretty confident because it came with a pretty intimidating pre-talk that said that sometimes kids were terrified to come back after the first class and would cry when being dropped off but that we need to power through.  Maybe it sounds morbid but for some reason I relate swim lessons that make a kid cry to also being able to make her learn to swim.  Don't worry, neither Taryn or London cried, they actually love it and can't wait to go.

(note to self for future goggle buying: get tinted lenses so you can't tell your daughters eyes being squeezed shut.)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Recover Registry

You know those ideas that you hear about and they are so simple but also so smart that you think, "AH! Why didn't I think of that!?!" You know, like...
  • Bottled water. Water in a bottle. Free water. That we pay for. Oh the visionary on that one.
  • Storage units. You mean that when people have more junk than can fit in their house instead of GETTING RID OF SOME they will actually pay for a box miles away from their home to hold more junk. Genius!
  • Pinterest. Oh yes, we can't forget pinterest. That's like a smart idea that helps me hold smart ideas. A double duh. That guy deserves like a mega-genius status.
Well, I wish I could say that I had something great to add to this list. Sadly, I don't. However, I can lay claim to being the sister of one of those great idea-makers.

Introducing..... Recover Registry

Smart right? Now we are all praying that of course we or someone we love will never need this but the big truth is that disasters happen.  What a great support to be able to see exactly what types of things our friends need and want after something like a fire or tornado. Instead of just hoping that they happen to love those tourquoise towels with the peach seashells embroidered on the bottom that you got for your wedding and have had sitting at the bottom of your linen closet for the last 7 years (you can't tell me I'm alone on this one). Come on...they just lost everything. Let's not add insult to injury.

So, since everything and everyone we know right now is just fine make sure you use that fancy "Pin It" button you downloaded to your tool bar (seriously, that guy thought of everything!) to save this so that you aren't left trying to remember where you saw it if a need ever does arise for a loved one and you want to pass it on.

Now excuse me, I'm off to brainstorm my own brilliant "why didn't I think of that" idea to leave my mark....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

4 1/2 Eggs

The same day that Brecken turned one Taryn turned 4 and a half.  Because she has a summer birthday she got to celebrate her birthday at school that day.  I took some cupcakes up and spent some time with her. 
I remember a time when half birthday's were VERY important in my life.  But that must have been like 6 or 8 or something.  At 4 it is just very confusing.  We mostly just ended up calling it her "pretend birthday" because "half" was a concept that we just weren't ready for. 

When a student has a birthday they sing a special song where they mix up a cake.  When it gets to the part about eggs they get to say the number that they are turning for the number of eggs they need. We talked about it being her pretend 5th birthday and she talked about how there was a 5 on her crown but when the teacher asked her how many eggs she needed she paused then said, "Four and a half."

Oh sure, now she gets it. 

Love this beautiful little 4 1/2 year old!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Winter One-derland

In the midst of what we've been living with Blake and Libby we've also had milestones come and go.

Our joyful and adventurous Brecken turned one! Even though Brecken's birthday and party was before Paxten went to be with Jesus I was already struggling then with the feeling of foolishness in my everyday activities. It felt silly to plan a party, make cupcakes, be concerned over decorations when dear friends just wanted to have their baby wake up. My heart wasn't really in it. A friend pointed out how continuing to live and to enjoy the every day with our children is one of the things that God was teaching us through Paxten. We did meet with family to enjoy Brecken and to celebrate all that she had accomplished in the past year. I do enjoy planning parties, meals and get-togethers.  We had a good time and I loved watching people come together to love our Brecken. 

We had a Winter One-derland theme with fun snowflakes and yummy cupcakes. 

Our cupcakes were done by Julie who is putting all cake sales towards their future adoption from China.  If you're local and need a cake or cupcakes for anything please consider using her. I just gave her a vague idea of what I was thinking and she came up with these beauties from that and they were so yummy.  Add to that the fact that the money goes to an amazing cause and I'm pretty sure we should all be making up more reasons to include cake in our lives.  Like "Laundry Day" cake.  And "I survived taking three kids 4 and under to the dentist with me cake".

Yes, I see more cake in my future. 

This banner is still hanging at our house because it makes me so happy.  12 pictures for 12 amazing months.  So fun to see the progression. 

When Taryn turned one my mom gave her the rocking chair that was given to me when I turned one.  So she bought Brecken one for her first birthday too. 

       Brecken - January 25, 2012                                                   Taryn - July 25, 2008

Taryn had more hair at 1 year and weighed a couple pounds less.  Otherwise they look a lot alike.
Brecken's one year stats are 30 and a half inches tall and 20 lbs.  She had gotten 4 shots the afternoon before the party (nice planning mommy) so I don't thinks she felt 100%.  She also had her FIRST tooth pop through that day. All that and the fact that we had a little mishap with her candle on her cupcake meant that my pictures were pretty poor and sparse and I left feeling that the party was a bit of a dud.  However, as I mentioned above, when put into the perspective of what Blake and Libby were going through it was really such a blessing to celebrate our little girl.

Brecken was a gift in so many ways.  I had told myself that my heart could not take another miscarriage and that this pregnancy would be my last attempt to grow our family in that way.  I added a hormone during the beginning of the pregnancy that made me pretty sick and tired (something I'd never had in my other pregnancies).  When we finally got to bring home our winter baby I could appreciate her with such a new perspective. She helped to heal a year of hurt. 

Currently she is BUSY! Everywhere we go people look down at Brecken running around from here to there and then look up at me and say, "Wow! You're busy!"  I always smile and happily say, "Yes, but it's the good kind of busy."  Because it is.  She says Momma, Dadda and I think she's trying baby.  She's very interested in dogs and says "Woo Woo" for a bark. She is loud squealing and shrieking often which I love. As I said she finally has one little tooth which is so fun to see when she smiles.  She enjoys eating just about anything we put in front of her.  She still has a morning and bedtime bottle but she also does well with a sippy and milk. She loves bringing things to Mara (now 5 months) giving them to her, waiting a moment then pulling it out of her hands. Her favorite place is outside and she can march all over the place all afternoon.  She is a good napper and a great sleeper.  I love walking into her room to get her out of her bed.  I go in smiling because I know I get to hug her. 

The first thing I heard about Brecken seconds after I delivered her was that she had quite the cheeks. Her cheeks continue to be a topic of conversation for people because, let's face it....they are fantastically adorable. 

While our days have had a cloud of the loss of Paxten over them we have also had joy. Brecken is one of three joys in my day and while I'm sad for the passing of a year I'm so excited to see what this year brings.