captivated by her baby

there is something beautiful happening as emery sees my belly grow. it's deeper than just knowing there's a baby coming, it's her captivation. her obsession. her all-day-long fascination with all things having to do with "her" baby. she is already taking on the role of caretaker as she hugs and kisses my belly over and over again throughout the day.

she talks to the baby, reads to the baby, tells the baby stories, asks it questions and treats her smallest sibling as if they are sitting at the dinner table with us. she can't go to sleep without saying goodnight to the baby, and when she is sad or upset, she wants to sit with her hand on my belly and gently lay next to "her baby."

she has taken on a new obsession with one of her dolls, as well. (find it here)
her doll is never far from her, especially as she sleeps.
it's downright adorable.

i believe God is doing something large within her healing. allowing her the opportunity to give the love and care she wasn't given during her start to life. to be a part of nurturing and holding and feeding...the things she was denied...she will be able to give. it's a sobering thought.

God has been preparing her in a special way, before we even knew a baby was coming.

around october of this past year, emery started asking me if i had a baby in my belly. i chocked it up to the fact that my mid section seems never to return to it's previous pre-pregnancy state and told her that i didn't have any babies in my belly.
the next day, she asked the same thing.
and again and again.
every day, she asked me.
every day, i told her, "no sweetie, God hasn't given mommy a baby in her belly."

lo and behold, after weeks of her repetitive asking, i actually did have a baby inside. and somehow, she knew it.

it was clear that God had planned to get her on board first, even before anyone else.

i also began to notice emery's obsession with being a "big girl."
for the past few years, a lot of people have commented on how small she is. how tiny. how petite. and while it's true, she is tiny, she carries herself taller lately. i sometimes forget she is only 3 years old when i watch her happily take on big-girl responsibilities like loading the dishwasher and folding laundry. she constantly looks for areas that she can be identified with being big. older. grown up. not small in the least.
"emmy big, mama. emmy help everyone. emmy big girl. emmy stay dry in bed. emmy get dressed. emmy brush teeth..." and so on.
she daily lists the things she can do on her own, and we daily affirm her in the many things she does well.

but emotionally, she can still be oh-so fragile. there are plenty of moments that she crumbles when things don't go as planned and i hold her like she's a wee babe again. i never tell her to be big in those moments, but always allow her smallness to be ok. her beautiful, tender spirit beneath her big girl expressions is something that i love having the opportunity to be present in.

there is a tender balance happening within my sweet girl, a common one for her age, but i see it deeper and more profound than i did with her brothers.

i pray over the coming months as i know our new baby will bring about new questions. new realizations. new comparisons about her birth and her sibling's birth. i pray over her tender heart and her sweet, sweet spirit.

but most of all, i'm so thankful for her attachment to a baby she hasn't met. a baby she can't see or feel. she has been captured by this little one in a beautiful way i could have never expected.


my positively positive baby

i'm currently 18 weeks pregnant.
there is baby popping out everywhere, it seems...but mostly recently on my backside, which technically should be excempt since the front side automatically gets so large, am i right?

there is lot of story behind this baby. a big part of the story has to do with emery and is truly one of the most beautiful things i've ever witnessed. more on that soon...

but the first part of the story starts with our plan of wanting to grow our family in the next 2-3 years. my husband felt strongly about not wanting to go back to the newborn stage, and my involvment in the adoption world keeps my eyes on the thousands of babies that need family. the heartwrenching mini-movies on facebook and emails from friends advocating for waiting children break my heart over and over and causes me to yearn to bring more babies home.

we decided to start saving money to adopt again, i gathered our adoption application and initial documents and looked toward bringing a child home in the next 2-3 years.

on november 16th, we spent a lovely day in philly with my family, exploring the city and enjoying each other.

we got off the train late that night and as i was putting the kids in bed, i felt a wave of nausia that nearly knocked me over. the kind i had felt before and knew instantly wasn't food poisoning or the flu. i finished saying goodnight to the kids and made a b-line for my stash of pregnancy tests.

the first test was positive.
i took another...it was very positive.
and another...positively positive.

i walked downstairs, with my positivly positives in hand to tell my husband the news.
we were both in shock. 
what did this mean for us?
what about our plans for adoption?
where would a baby go in our very small house, already outgrown by 3 busy children?
we had already given away EVERY peice of baby clothing, toys, swings, chairs, car seats, maternity clothes, etc. (even our crib and mattress only weeks before.)
we tried to process what this meant for our family.
neither of us slept much for the next 2 nights.

i felt a lot of confusion. it wasn't the baby i was confused about...i will always rejoice in a baby - it was my heart. i had spent the last few years thinking adoption would be the best fit for our family as well as for emery. she would have a sibling that could related to her in a way that her other siblings could not. we could journey to china together and expirience adoption as a family.
i had plans already worked out in my little brain. i was convinced i knew what was best.

so i confided in a friend. one of the only people i knew who could understand what it feels like to want a baby not born of your body, when you are 100% capable of having biological children. and in my confusion, i spilled out all of my honest thoughts of worry and uncertiantly, knowing she wouldn't judge me, and knowing she would hear my heart.

and do you know what my dear friend did?
she celebrated. she rejoiced.
she told me instantly what a blessing this baby would be and the worry i felt over providing an adoptive sibling for emery was unfounded because i had no idea what God was going to acomplish with this child.
and as only a dear friend can do, God used her to change the attitude and focus of my heart.

and she was right. every word.
i cannot even begin to describe the ways that this baby has shown itself as a promise from God to add to our family in a most special and beautiful way. like no one else on earth could, this baby...chosen for this time in my life, in our family's life...is a beautiful treasure greater than i have never known.
i'm positively positive God's plan is always best. better than best. it's the only plan i want to be a part of.

i will talk more about emery's relationship with the baby soon, but from the moment we told the kids i was pregnant, they have been extatic in ways i never could have imagined. they literally talked about nothing but our baby for a month straight. and after 6 weeks of being totally incompacitated with the most insane and dreadful 24 hour-a-day "morning sickness," their excitetment was just what i needed to make it through.


secret news {it's finally out in the open}

just in case there are a few friends out there who aren't on instagram or facebook...
we announced a little surprise secret we've been keeping for a while...

i'm pregnant!!

baby weldon #4 is due to arrive in late july!

can you tell the gang is excited?


enough wonderful to make me do it all over again

some days they wake up early and play happily for hours together before school.

today is one of those mornings...and it makes me long for the days before all this schooling started. when they were too little for classrooms and we stayed home if we felt like it. when play dates were our big event of the day.

in those days i planned amazing crafts and adventures. we woke up each day and discovered new things and turned the house into something new each day.
i'm so thankful for those days and years.
they weren't easy.
in fact, years of little babies and toddlers is exhausting and stressful.
but it was wonderful too.

actually it sounds a lot like our current stage....exhausting and stressful and wonderful.

I hope life is always a mix of those 3.

enough stress and sleep deprivation to keep me humble and reliant on God's grace when i'm selfish and frustrated.
and enough wonderful to make me wake up each morning and do it all over again.                     

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Gripcase: Get one for your kids & a free one for your school!!

A few weeks ago, I got a snazzy new iPad case from the good people at Gripcase. I'm always up for trying anything new, and since my previous case was on the fritz, it was perfect timing.

(can you tell they are excited? :)

There are several things I really like about Gripcase. They offer lots of great colors, our case is super lightweight and fits my iPad like a glove. But my favorite? Their mission as a company. Gripcase recently launched their own version of a BOGO program. Buy one, give one. When you order a case from the Gripcase website, you are prompted to select a school of you choice and Gripcase will send them a free case! It’s that simple. Get your own Gripcase, and get one donated to any school you select. So cool! My son keeps telling me how much his class would love these for their iPad center.

So, here's my review...

My kids LOVE the Gripcase. They can hold it in any position easily, walk around the house without dropping it because the handles are so well designed. And if, by chance, the iPad slips out of a well intending grip, the case completely absorbs the blow. It is the best kid-resistant iPad case I have ever used. My kids literally carry it all over the house playing Pandora (my 5yo is our resident d.j).

(apparently our kitty likes playing iPad too :)

Gripcase sells a stand that would be very useful. Since we don't have the stand, it is a little awkward to prop the case up if the kids are watching a movie (or a rainbow loom tutorial video - they are obsessed!! :). I'm going to look into getting a stand soon.

One thing I hope Gripcase evolves in the future, is the cases' ability to work with screen protectors. I'm a big stickler for screen protectors (especially with sticky kid fingers) and the Gripcase fits so wonderfully snug, it peels back my screen protector.  If you are a screen protector junkie like me, this might just drive you a little crazy :) But the great thing about Gripcase is that your screen is fully protected from breaking because of the design of the case. The face of the iPad is inverted slightly when inside the case so it cannot be scratched or even bumped if dropped.

My recommendation? This is the perfect case for an iPad for a family with kids. It's lightweight and your kids will LOVE it....their school will too!! I love supporting companies who give back, especially to local schools.

Gripcase would be a great gift for any kid on your list this year! Check them out!

You can find Gripcase here:
Gripcase-USA | Facebook | Twitter


my confessions & an update

i have a confession to make.
ok, two.
the first: i totally forgot i have a blog. somehow, someway, this thing that has been a part of my life for years has suddenly found itself off of the radar. and most days, i don't miss it. afterall, i have instagram. anyone else obsessed with instagram? it rocks.
until i look back and remember all of the life i documented. the stuff i hardly can recall without literally reading my own words about it. and i realize i will never remember anything if i don't take the time to write it down. i think mom brain has taken it's toll in such a way that i literally cannot retain even the slightest amount of recollection.
anyone else? can i get an amen?

confession two.
life is busy. too busy, in fact. i'm a homebody. i love being at home with my kids. no outside influences. we can just talk and laugh and play. when they were little, i never went a day without going somewhere. a playdate, the mall, the park, an adventure of some sort. but sometime around emery coming home and cocooning for a year, i realized i don't need to be distracted. i don't need to push myself to keep up with everyone else. in fact, i can fully admit that i can't even keep up with what i've got going on. my ever expanding humongous pile of school papers and bills and random paperwork is proof of my inability to keep up. let alone the ridiculous piles of everything i am ignoring so i can write this post.

so the update?

i've been hunkering down.
i've been trying to let go of my desire to do everything.

and, i've been working. for the first time in my mom life, i have a real stay-at-home job...as a writer, no less. with a little bit of marketing thrown in. (can you say dream job???)
it's been awesome. hard. very tough to balance, but awesome.

i'm working for a very cool company called, beachTuff. my sister in law, Julie, started the company and redesigned her Dad's beach cart invention that he created 15 years ago. she made her Dad's dream an amazing reality and after much sweat and hard work, it is finally in production!
you can see how it works here...

(ps. that's my voice on the voice over! and we shot half of this video in my living room! at the last minuet we needed shots of the product in action...and so i turned my living room into a studio. it was such a fun learning experience and i have high hopes for our next video after we make it big...it's going to be awesome!!)

so that's the recap.

what's new with you, dear friends?



a few isles of decompression

ending the day at the grocery store. alone. just me and the food and a few isles of decompression.
i won't go into the wild, screaming tantrums in the doctors office or the flailing anger over sharing anything remotely close to her.

lets just say it was a very loud day.
my girl longs for my comfort in her frustration but at the same moment refuses to accept it. over the years I've learned to sit with her and hold her loosely as she screams. the calmer my voice, the faster the tantrum subsides.
sadly, there have been times that i've been frustrated at her irrational terror...and as a result, i've seen the horrors of tantrums that go on for hours.
but when i meet her with patience...with a God enabled calm...she will eventually allow me to hug her tightly and her flailing turns to sobs.

today, tears came from somewhere far beneath the surface, and i couldn't help but think she was grieving a loss she doesn't yet understand.

her passion is deep and wild...and i love every bit of it.


my yearly stages {the breakdown of my craziness}

every year i seem to go through similar stages. it's strange to me that they repeat in such mirror images of the year before. clearly i need to work through these stages before i end up staring in my own version of Groundhog Day.

and thus, i give you...

stage 1: the long, cold, pennsylvania winter that feels as though it will never end is responsible for the first stage. plagued by genes that make it impossible to be warm during the winter, i literally shiver for 4 months. i get sad. i get mad. then, just when i think it's may, and perhaps hope is on the horizon, i look at the calender and realize it's actually only february. the.longest.month.in.the.universe.
stage 1 makes me want to move to the equator. literally, to build a house upon the actual equatorial line.

stage 2: the glory of spring warmth brings insane project mode. i literally tear apart my house and redo everything i had to stare at all winter. spray paint fumes fill the house from my makeshift basement corner paint room, giant holes (previously hidden behind pictures frames) come to light, and i somehow find a way to refinish 10 more pieces of trash-to-treasure furniture to cram into our very tiny home. i explore new ways to attach items of interest to drywall, such as my new love for hot gluing bunting rather than rummaging around for a silly old nail. who needs those, anyway?
my poor walls...they get abused in ridiculous ways during stage 2.

i also decide it's high time we started a massive home repair project, though i have absolutely no construction knowledge. but i start it anyway, thus forcing my husband to finish it for me the correct way, usually involving a great amount of patience on his part.

almost always, i start a business during stage 2 because stage 2 deceives me into thinking i will never, ever, EVER run out of energy. this year, i started making jewelry. last year i started painting furniture to sell. the year before that i did craft shows. the year before that i started sewing purses and headbands.

last year, stage 2 made me get a dog (whom we adored but then stage 3 hit and, well, you'll see what happens in stage 3)

let me tell you, my husband really dreads LOVES stage 2.

stage 3: brought on by stage 2, exhaustion enters and 4 out of 7 days a week, my husband comes home and we look as though we've been robbed. things of all shapes and sizes cover nearly every imaginable surface and once removed, another item literally manifests itself from nowhere. the kids wear only underwear on these days (lets face it, underwear days appear in all of the stages), the dinner menu is more like a lunch or breakfast item with a side of canned fruit or a random leftover baked potato, and i may or may not have showered in the foreseeable past.

my brain seems unable to focus on the smallest tasks during stage 3 and i convince myself bi-weekly that i must either be pregnant, have lymes or have contracted mono because there's just no way a person can feel this amount of exhaustion from pesky old stage 3.

stage 4: being that i'm currently stuck in stage 3, i haven't the gusto to forge forth into stage 4. it involves a month long cleanup and perfect organization of all things chaotic from stages 1 through 3. it's clearly the best stage. 

come on stage 4, don't let me down this year.


emery and nai-nai

quite possibly one of my favorite moments ever. this shot so well captures the beautiful relationship emery has with her nai-nai (my mom). the sweetness and the trust. it's truly one of the most beautiful things i've ever seen.

blog makover {and learning alien code}

so i've been wanting to move this old blog to wordpress. i love writing sometimes and posting photos other times, and i want something that is more moldable and useful for me.

one of my favorite things to do is learn new things...i frequently scour google and find great tutorials for fun new skills. but truly one of the most annoying and confusing things to me is anything related to html code and web design.
the world needs a website interface designed by someone who can make it easy and pliable and more like using photoshop and less like using a mysterious code written by aliens.

i'm starting to think html code was created as a cruel joke...and the joke's on me because i just can't seem to crack the code.


i'll get off my soap box and continue by saying (if anyone is actually still reading this odd, ranting webhosting post) that some strange goings-ons are sure to ensue over the next week as i read google tutorials and burn up perfectly good time designing a new website in alien code.

if my blog disappears, you'll know why.


happy gotcha day, my love

it's been a busy few weeks around here. lots of fun things happening and new jobs and lots of regular old typical days...the kind that summer is supposed to include with popsicles and last minuet play dates and lazy mornings.

today was another typical day...except it's also a special day. it's emery's Gotcha Day, marking 2 years together. i can't quite wrap my head around all that has happened in the past two years, but honestly it feels like she didn't have a start date. i can't remember my first thoughts about her...my first prayers...they have been there as long as i can remember. i think it was around the time that foster was born, 7 years ago, that i started dreaming of my far off daughter...the one that wouldn't come from me, but would be meant for me.

we spent a long afternoon outside today, playing and swinging and finding earth worms. and it feels like any other day...thankfully.

today is not the only day that we talk about her story, because each of our stories is unique and beautiful and it would be silly to only talk about them once a year. we are making emery's favorite meal tonight...the one that we make all the time, because it's her favorite. we are making brownies and watching the kids dance to alvin and the chipmunks after dinner becasuse that's what we do every night. and we will marvel at her, just like always. we will marvel at the tiny little girl we met 2 years ago who has stolen our hearts in the best of ways and who we cherish and delight in because of who she is, not just because we adopted her.
she is magnificent because that's how her Creator intended her to be and i'm so very thankful to have the honor of living life with such a grand creation. 


in honor of today, a few videos from our first days together in china...


Visiting Orphans & Keeping Families Together

I am so excited to share a video with you from the amazing organization, Visiting Orphans. One of my favorite things about this team is that their missions is to not only love children but to partner with communities to prevent children from becoming orphans and help families stay together. Visiting Orphans is all about relationships...they focus on real people and strive to meet their emotional, spiritual and physical needs.

Please take a few moments to watch and perhaps be inspired to join in with this amazing ministry.

They send people to build relationships and love on children in places such as Africa, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Ukraine, Ecuador, Haiti, India and China.
Here is a quote from their website describing their work in China:
"Visiting Orphans works with government run Social Welfare Institutes (SWI) to bring love and assistance to some of those 20 million children without families. Since 2005 we have sent over 30 teams from the US to visit these SWI's. Although the SWI's do all that they can to provide the best life for the children living there, assistance and help is still needed. Our missions teams don't go in with an agenda, they go in to serve and to love. Oftentimes on our trips all you will do for hours on end is hold infants who need the love and attention they deserve or play hide-n-go-seek with a group of six year old boys. It will truly be a life-changing and unforgettable experience. "

They also have adoption fundraising opportunities...

I so love organizations who catch the vision of not only the beauty of adoption, but the importance of preventing children from loosing their birth family.


Bring Me Hope - Youth Camps in China

I'm partnering with the Bring Me Hope organization this week, who host camps in china for at risk kids. I love their passion to reach out to youth who might otherwise go un-noticed. Please take a moment to hear from one of the awesome Bring Me Hope volunteers and her experiences in China and perhaps you will feel led to be a part of this awesome organization.


"I knew that traveling to China to be part of the Bring Me Hope summer camps would change my life, but I had no idea how deeply and permanently it would wreck my heart. 

It was only five days that I spent with those three orphans, but I still remember it like yesterday.  We ate our meals together, sang the silly camps songs, hiked the Great Wall and pasted and glued our hearts out at craft time.  As they opened up and shared their stories, I felt myself coming undone from the inside out.  How do you not when a gorgeous, twelve-year-old girl tells you that she was orphaned after her parents died in a murder/suicide?!  

Shock.  Then heartbreak.  Then the tears.  

Fast forward six years.  My trips to China have continued, my new dream in life is to get to 30 years old so I can bring our own son or daughter home.  From that first week at camp, I saw what a difference five days at a summer camp could make in the lives of chinese orphans, as well as their foreign camp buddies; I never wanted to stop being a part of this mission. Bring Me Hope is dedicated to improving the lives and futures of Chinese orphans. It begins at summer camp and continues with year-round programs to meet the ongoing needs of orphans in China.
We are currently in the middle of four weeks of summer camps in five chinese cities.  A great need right now is raising the rest of the camp sponsorships to make the fourth week of camp possible.  As a sponsor, you will become part of the team that makes camp happen for the kids. Sponsorships of $125 or more will receive a phone call and letter from one of the children attending camp.

Your camp sponsorship will provide Chinese orphans with a safe place to experience healing, be assured of their value, and be given opportunities to explore fun, new things like swimming, art, music and field trips. Camp also connects orphans with people who can advocate for them year-round. 
We would love to invite you to partner with us.  Would you help make these last weeks of camp happen with a camp sponsorship?!  {You can do this on our website here}  We also hope you would consider about joining us at the 2014 camps.  It is an adventure that will change your life.  Most of all, please pray with us that these children's lives could be changed through the power of love and family."
“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they are not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” -David Platt


vacay week {obx}

we are in the outer banks this week, on vacation with clint's family.
the weather has been bizarre to say the least, storming one minuet and sunny the next. we no sooner get to the beach, and torrential rains drive us away within a matter of minuets.
but honestly, the rain hasn't kept the fun away, as we have been spending the days swimming and enjoying the hot tub in the rain.
i love that kids can make fun out of anything, and seeing them enjoying time with their cousins they haven't seen in years.

i haven't picked up my big camera in a long time. i've been devistated to find that i've reached the shutter limit and it's starting to fail to focus and really give me a hard time. it will be a while before i can afford to buy my dream camera, so i've resolved to shoot this camera into the ground...and not to care as much about it getting wet or sandy. it been well used over the years and i'm so thankful that it still helps me capture our little family.

i forgot my computer this week, so taking a picture of the back of my camera is the best i've got :)
this is one of my favorite shots from today when the uncles created a wave pool for the kids today. if only this had audio...the laughter was pure joy.


teaching them the ways of the court

we are a family of tennis players. my mom taught my brother and i when we were kids and we often have family tournaments and wonderful afternoons of laughter enjoying each other.

the kids have loved learning to play and we've been spending wonderful mornings playing together at the local courts.

i can't wait to someday have them join in the family tournaments and be able to carry on our tennis transitions.


the fair in town {lone rider}

the kids look forward to the fair every summer, and our house is only a few blocks from the annual fairgrounds.

 last year, emery didn't even get out of the stroller. this year? i should never have brought the stroller...she wanted nothing to do with sitting around. my gal wanted to try every.single.ride.
we were most surprised when she hoped on the little train all by herself (because we were out of tickets for brothers to ride with her :) and she was all smiles.
big brother, on the other hand, was like a worried old man, hovering over her, waving, and telling her to keep her hands inside the train :)

it was adorable.

but the highlight, was a fish named "squirmy," won at the ping-pong ball game. he promptly died 3 days later, but we have since replaced him with "squirmy #2." i'm morbid and hope "squirmy #2" bites the dust soon. fish and i don't get along :)


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