Saturday, May 24, 2014

Four is Fun!


How does it happen so fast?  We can't believe our little firstborn is already 4!  He is turning into such a sweet, kind, sensitive, funny little guy.  He is SUCH a blessing! 


It is SO exciting to be 4!  This is what we heard all day.....no exaggeration. "I'm SO excited!!!" "I'm SO happy!"  "I love to be 4!"  "Oh MY! Oh my!" (mostly as he opened cards and presents) "Oh my goodness!"  "What?! This is so exciting!"


We started off our day with some presents from mommy, daddy and Levi.  And then we were off to find his real gift......which was supposed to be his own fish, but soon took a slight turn.....


The fish were all really cool.........


But the frogs and lizards were much cooler.  We figured it wasn't a big deal....until I was told that they eat crickets.....  He already had his heart set on this toad, so crickets it is.


Meet Hoppy.


Our next stop was to URI for a swim group through EI.  We weren't going to go since it was C's birthday, but when he overhead us talking about it he was ecstatic to hear we could go swimming.  And yes, hoppy came along to watch.  He then joined us for ice cream and we soon learned that we were celebrating for two.  Apparently since we bought Hoppy on Caleb's birthday, it was also Hoppy's birthday.

Our conversation at one point:
Caleb: I love you
Me: I love you too!
Caleb: No, I was talking to Hoppy!



After some short naps it was party time!  Caleb was clearly struggling to maintain the same level of excitement that he began the day with. 

                                             
                                        Levi was equally excited, but mainly with the balloons.  





             And today we played just about every new game Caleb received yesterday.  It was so cute watching them bursting with excitement and so eager to play.


This was our $2 find at the last consignment sale.  So fun! 





            One of Caleb's favorite gifts is his own camera!  He is having a blast taking pictures of everything. EVERYTHING.  Here's a few of his.............





         Every age is so much fun.....everything is so exciting to them and in turn exciting for us as we watch them in all their enthusiasm and awe.  I'm so thankful for this sweet little boy, and am so enjoying each stage of watching him grow.  What a blessing it is!






                        *                                                       *                                             *



            On another note, this week was also the closing celebration and awards ceremony for our church's Awana program.  This was the first event like this we've gone to since our boys are still so young, and we loved it!  He didn't start until later in the season, but was able to finish his first book and received the green pin he's wearing.  He was SO proud.....and so were we of course!  It was so sweet to hear so many little ones singing scripture, sharing memorized scripture, and seeing how they are already hiding God's word in their hearts.                      


Levi was a trooper....he sat the entire time, and actually seemed to enjoy it.  Here he is "playing" his dog as if it's a guitar.  He nodded his head to the music, danced a little in his seat, and played his dog during most of the songs.  Such a cutie! 










Friday, May 16, 2014

Thank you!

            We received another donation, and are so thankful!  We knew someone had been so kind to donate money towards our adoption from not being able to attend an event, but when we received the check it was more than four times bigger than what we were initially told!  So many blessings....always more than we could ever ask or imagine.  THANK YOU!  This donation also pushed us over the $20,000 mark which is AMAZING!  

And The Winner Is........

video


                Congratulations Sharon Fusco!!  And thank you so much to all who purchased tickets!!  If you'd like the recipes, I'd be happy to send them to you! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Three More Days!

            One last reminder......only three more days until we pick a winner for our All Natural Homemade Products Raffle! I've also added several new samples to the Personalized Pendant Necklaces .  Some of you may notice your names or your children's...if so, those pendants are yours!

           Thank you SO much again to all who have ordered, and for yet another unexpected, generous donation this past week! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Don't Believe The Lie

       If you've ever read our story, or that of another family, and thought that it was amazing how God provided financially BUT just know that wouldn't be possible with your family, Don't Believe The Lie!  That was me.  I read more books on adoption than you could imagine, and each one was full of amazing stories of God's provision.....time and again I'd read how money practically grew on trees (God's way more creative than that actually) and families had the thousands of dollars needed to bring their precious children home.  And each time I'd think...yeah, but they must know some wealthy people!  Or....I know it happens, but I just don't see how that's possible for us.  And then there we were....faced with the decision to obey God's very clear calling to adopt, which meant we had no choice but to trust in His ability to provide....even for us.

     I'm reminded of a chapter in Romans that talks about people suppressing the truth...how their thinking became foolish and their hearts were darkened as they failed to glorify Him.  "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."  It goes on to say that they exchanged the truth about God for a lie.  And I realized....is this not what we were doing?  We knew the truth....we knew that God is all powerful....that He is capable of anything, but instead we were denying what we knew so plainly....what God had revealed time and again in our lives.  We were so ready to exchange the truth about God (that He will equip us to do His will as He sees fit) for a lie (that He wouldn't do it for us....so much doubt and fear).

     It's certainly been easier this second time around to worry less about the financial aspect of adoption....but I have to say, after doing this so recently for Levi's, I did have some doubts about where it would come from.  But I knew, from firsthand experience, and from what I know to be true about our God, that it was futile to worry about it.  Here we are...once again....being able to witness and experience all of the amazing ways God is providing, and equipping us to complete this adoption.  Just a week or two ago, we learned that we had not received the matching grant we had applied for.  They did, however, offer us a $4,000 interest free loan for a year, as well as an opportunity to collect donations in a tax deductible manner (if you are interested, let us know and we will pass along the information).  We've been very hesitant to go the loan route and it was something we hadn't expected, but we are grateful for this opportunity.  I'd be lying to say I wasn't disappointed about the grant....or even more, wondering how God was going to figure this out now, since that was how I thought He may equip us.  Ha!  I still fall into that trap...figuring it all out on my own, how God should provide!  Since the grant fell through, God has blessed us with donations we had never anticipated, as well as part of our adoption tax credit arriving yesterday.  The amount we received from the credit was more than I had anticipated, and we had really hoped to be able to use it towards this adoption (since that's what it was raised for in the first place for Levi!), but had wondered if it would come in time (many families had delays with receiving theirs).  Our fundraising thermometer jumped thousands in just over a week.  God.Has.It.Covered.  And don't believe the lie that He couldn't, or wouldn't, do the same for you.  If you are feeling prompted to adopt....foster.....sponsor.....host.....believe the truth and live it, it will be the most amazing thing you have ever done.   

***  The day following this post, we received word that we have been blessed  with a Sparrow Fund grant to cover the costs of having a doctor here review the medical records we receive for our girls while in country.  Such a HUGE blessing.  We received a grant from them with Levi as well, so they are again blessing our family and SO many others.   

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Spring Cleaning!

          I figure this is worth sharing, even if you use this personally or to raise money for another cause.  Since the beginning, we have collected any unwanted items for our yard sales.  Along with that often comes bags of clothes and shoes.  Many of the clothes have been in such good condition, and often name brands, that I couldn't see selling them at our yard sales.  I was able to consign many of them and we have continued to raise money in this way (both for our adoptions and others).  A while back, someone shared with me about an online company that will send you a "cleanout" bag.  You fill the bag with accepted clothes, shoes, etc. and send it in (they cover shipping).  It costs nothing, which is great, but you get a small percentage of any clothing they accept.  There's definitely a risk that they won't accept some things, and those get donated.  We've earned between $5 and $50 for bags we've sent in.  Each consignment store or sale accepts only specific items, so whatever is not welcomed by others I've typically been able to send in to this company.  Considering at a yard sale you don't make more than $.25 for an article of clothing, it really has been worth it to go this route.  We also still donate anything that is ineligible to the Providence Rescue Mission.

      All of that to say....if you're interested in helping us to raise money for our adoption in this way, this is the link to thred up's cleanout program.  You request a bag, fill it when it comes in and then drop it off at a fedex location.  The great thing about this is that you don't have to live locally, you can do it from anywhere.  There's no cost to you, and for most of us we clean out our closets periodically and pass things on anyway.  As the seasons are changing and you're going through your things, keep this in mind!

     On another note, we are planning to do one final yard sale within the next month or two.  Many of you have continued to donate items you no longer want, and we are very thankful!  We'll continue to collect anything for just about another month now and then I think our yard sale days will be over for now.  Clothing, shoes and baby gear will always still be more than welcome as I will participate in the consignment sales long term to raise money for adoption in general.  Thanks!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Vacation Sweet Vacation

       We just returned from a little family vacation, and it was amazinnngg.  I'm not a huge vacation person so the truly-wanting-to-cry-as-we-left feeling surprised me.  I had been feeling somewhat guilty for booking a trip in the midst of this adoption, and had an inner debate going as I played both sides.  We had wanted to take the boys to a ranch last spring but life was busy, then the accident happened and our move.  The year was over before we knew it so we had decided to go this spring.  It's just something we knew they would love and we have no idea how long it will be before we are able to get away again once the girls come home. Regardless, any hesitation I had went out the window this past week.  The completely focused time and attention on one another, without distraction, coupled with so many firsts for the boys made some of the best memories.  So much joy in everything they experienced, so many experiences that they may not remember, but will shape them and offered valuable family time.  I am so thankful.


Checking out the wildlife exhibit.....the camel soon became a favorite as the zebra was "a bully."

                                 
     Pony rides!  He is always this serious about them....and we always have helmet issues with this tiny boy.





We loved all of the firsts we got to experience together....this was their first time mini golfing and it was quite perfect since there was only one other family golfing ahead of us.  We took all the time in the world.  Levi very quickly decided that going in sequential order was lame so we were all over the place.  And golf clubs are useful for so much more than mini golf.  







Both boys love, and notice, the blooming flowers and plants everywhere we go.  Levi loves to fully enjoy them....I think he smelled each one...in each planter....we had time : )



"This is amazing!" - Caleb


Levi copied Caleb, all on his own.  I just love him.



There's always great confusion as to where the photographer is.



We may have eaten for a family of 10 this week.  I think we got our money's worth in this room alone.


Okay, maybe Caleb's food intake didn't count....the rest of us made up for it.


He's not so sure about all of this....but he caught on eventually




Even waiting for things was pure fun. 



Tractor drawn wagon ride to a bonfire.....



     This was a highlight for me....singing around the campfire, Caleb danced away and Levi snuggled (it was a loooong day for him).....sweet sweet memories.

         
           The weather turned colder and eventually we returned to winter, but there was so much to do.....and who gets to experience all four seasons on a four day vacation?  I'm thinking that's pretty rare!  (It was literally in the 60's, 50's, 40's and then 70's)


       






         
              Caleb's first time playing badminton (never wrote that word before and had no idea there was an "n", what?!).  He later pleaded with us to play "Batman" again.....it took us a little while to figure it out.....


Levi passed out rackets to everyone......every.one.  They were very gracious.




          This little indoor water area was perfect for them.  They LOVED it.  But....the first day, Levi was shaking when I brought him in.  He had just woken from a nap, Caleb and Luke had been in for a while.  He kept pointing and wanted to go in, but he was shaking so badly.  At first I thought maybe he was cold (it was really warm in there but nothing will ever compare to the sauna that he lived in for over a year).  He wasn't cold....he was nervous....but so very determined.  We talked about it later and I just felt in awe over this precious boy and how much he has overcome and continues to.  And I thought how amazing it was that despite his fears, so physically obvious, he trusted us....he wanted to participate....he wouldn't allow them to dictate what he did and did not do.  It is such a privilege to witness his growth, resilience and determination.  It is such a privilege to be his mom, and in moments like these it really hits me.



           
        The miraculously both found the photographer...at the same time!  As for smiles....one step at a time.



They had cute shows each night (but not until 9pm unfortunately so one of us stayed back with Levi so he could sleep).  Caleb laughed and danced himself to exhaustion.  

 





First time playing in an arcade.....they were too funny.  Levi tends to not stay in one place long enough to remain in the photos.  

       
                                                              Unless we are holding him.




Levi's favorite part of the trip.  The LARGE variety of unending food.


 What?  I like to eat!  Oh....are you guys all finished?  You have been for 15 minutes?  Let me just finished up.....
           
              He was literally drunk off food.  He was acting like the biggest goof.  We have video footage.



It was only 3 to a paddle boat so Levi and I took one, Caleb and Luke took another.  Levi sat comatose both times I took him....like it was just the most relaxing place to be....which really it was.....especially when you weren't the one pedaling. 


So proud of him for trying new things....he's very...let's say, cautious....so this was a big deal. 


             Pure exhaustion....in a good way.  It's such a joy to watch your kids experience new things....to create lasting memories together, and be reminded of how blessed we are.

                                              "I want to live at vacation forever." - Caleb