It's go time {baby enroute}

this is my 3am, "I think I'm in labor but I'm not sure" selfie...

it turns out that today is the last day this baby will be on the inside! Praise God!! 
we are in the hospital now... please join me in praying things will progress fast and we will get to hold this little love soon!!


the 8 year old boy phenomenon

there is this thing known as an 8 year old boy.
he is silly and sweet and yet helpful and manly.
he still loves stuffed animals but he can unload the dishwasher, read an entire real, grown up book, make breakfast and figure out how to fix just about anything requiring a screw driver, batteries or duct tape.
his pits have started to smell and he loves to take showers.
his knock-knock jokes makes sense all of the sudden, although they are usually tempered with some sort of reference to toots, burps or butts.

he's a marvel of tall engineering.
his pants are all too short, his shoes are constantly too small no matter how recently they were purchased and he can't seem to eat enough to fill up the deep caverns of his appetite.

i'm not sure when this all happened. it seems like only a few short years ago that he loved his Thomas train set above all else on earth. he drove trains around in a circle for hours upon hours each day. he said silly phrases and thought rocks and sticks were amazing.

now he's into the worlds most complex lego creations. the kind that grown adults find mind boggling.
he loves telescopes and microscopes and scouts the cloud formations to determine the upcoming weather for the day.
he knows where we are when we drive around town and reads traffic signs so he is sure to tell me if i'm going a bit too fast or makes me double check if i turn right on red.
he is tender and kind. he loves books and swords. he is rambunctious and yet still loves to snuggle quietly with me. he is all the things i love about life because he loves so fully.

he gets frustrated when he can't do something on the first try and is self motivated to learn everything.
failure crushes him and triumph elates him.
he doesn't know it yet, but 8 year olds need both failure and triumph. the crush of defeat isn't as bad as he thinks it is because it gives the opportunity to face challenge. giving him opportunities to fail is difficult but necessary because many things come easily for him.

he cares for his sister in the most endearing ways. she will literally do anything he asks her to do, because he never asks anything unreasonable to rude. he gently corrects her if she has wronged him and can make a silly comment to make her smile when she is frustrated. he carries her and dotes on her and plays dolls and kitchen and doctor. she hangs on his every word. their relationship has always been one of the most fantastic things i've ever witnessed.

he asks me deep questions about her past. about china mom and dad. he thinks deeply about her story and the emotions she might one day feel. he understands what 99% of adults do not about adoption. he loves her and adores her and yet understands adoption is not without a great deal of grief and tragedy and loss.

he and his younger brother are very nearly like twins. 18 months apart in age but only a year apart in school, they play and fight and compete and wrestle all day long. i can often find them in their own world of imagination, lost in make believe lands they imagine together. it's truly one of my dreams come true to see my kids adore each other. one without the other just doesn't feel right.

this 8 year old creature is one of my most favorite creations of all time.
i'm seeing more and more of who he will always be.
faithful. trustworthy. honest. honorable. whitty and fun. in love with learning about everything.
he stands up for what is right and is wrecked by injustice.
he is sensitive to what others think about him and must muster courage to speak up for himself in social situations.
he often asks deep questions about life and death and the meaning of everything.
he sees God in the tiny details and in the vastness of creation.
we tell stories of my childhood and he remembers each one.
history and family are vitally important to him.

he asks me about his future wife. about college. about the age when we will allow him to have a cell phone.
he asks me how our baby is growing in my belly and if dinosaurs were real. he asks why our neighbors smoke even though it gives them cancer. he asks why some kids are forced to drink dirty water. he asks why farts smell and how engines work. he asks how long until he can become an astronaut and if he can take a GoPro camera with him so he can show me all the amazing things he sees.

he was reading in his bible the other day, and saw the word Faith and suggested it for baby #4's name. he also suggested Liberty and Freedom. Faith, Liberty and Freedom. these words define him oh so well.

i could write on and on.
this 8 year old boy thing is just pain awesome.


the Target on my belly.

i walk around with a giant target on my belly.
my enlarged, torpedo-esque baby carrier seems to attract an onslaught of attention.
perhaps it was the same in my previous pregnancies and i've just forgotten, but none-the-less, i've experienced the commentary gamut from men and women alike.

to be fair, i don't carry babies lightly. for an average sized woman of slim 5'9" stature, pregnancy brings on a solid 50 lbs of food therapy and exhaustion induced lack of activity. i don't deny it. pregnant angie loves to eat. my backside is large and in charge and my protruding baby belly is nothing short of a basketball tucked neatly under my shirt. my babies ride way out in front, defying any maternity shirt to cover them. 
i don't glow when i'm pregnant. i don't glisten. i eat. 
and i look very pregnant. (duh, that's what i'm supposed to look like.)

(33 weeks and currently 38 weeks)

starting somewhere around week 25, the horrific display of human inability to refrain from making inappropriate and absurd pregnancy comments was unleashed everywhere i went. has anyone else experienced this? 

for a while i just smiled or made a little joke back. but how many times can you see someone grimace in horror and franky state, "i hope you don't have much longer! you look like you were due yesterday!!" (when in reality i still have 10 weeks left).

when did it become appropriate to comment on a strangers body shape and size, anyway?  pregnancy somehow makes people feel that since i'm obviously wearing a child that i obviously also welcome their comments about my size, the child's sex and clear opinions about how many more children i should (or should NOT) have.

when i have the 3 big kids in tow in conjunction with my belly target, i get the standard, "you've got your hands full!" comments and "wow, you must be exhausted" or "they aren't all yours, are they?" or "how many more are you going to have??!". no matter how well (or wild) the kids are behaving at that moment, i always respond with something along the lines of, "i love spending time with my kids. i'm so glad my hands are full!". i want my kids to know that i enjoy them, even though they clearly hear that world doesn't perceive having young children as being enjoyable.
it's very surprising to me that i get the "hands full" comments even when all three kids are walking nicely beside me in the grocery store, being helpful or playing sweetly together. it's shocking to me that even kids who aren't (at that moment) acting like wild hooligans can still be considered "too much" for a mom to handle.

what ever happened to "you look beautiful!", "congratulations!" or the old standby, "is it a boy or girl?"


the epitome of my targeted status came last week while i was actually at Target. it was by far the most offensive string of comments (and strange enough, ended up being the most profitable :)
it perfectly shows just how inappropriate people can be and how pregnant woman are subjected to verbal harassment on a daily basis. i know, i know, verbal harassment may seem a little much. but take a gander. i felt quite harassed. 

picture me. 37 weeks pregnant and alone in Target (while my kids were at a morning VBS program). i was ironically purchasing two Spanx abdominal shapers in preparation for my post-baby body transformation. i was exhausted and honestly, not having a great day.
i approached checkout lane #5 and no sooner gathered my things on the convener belt when i was met with the following statement from the female Target checkout clerk:

Her: "I've seen a lot of pregnant women, but you are by far the biggest I've ever seen!!!" she stated with odd enthusiasm.

(i look up from my cart, surprised by her criticism, and said nothing, hoping not to engage her commentary.)

Her: "Seriously! you are huge!" she continued. "Are you having twins????"

Me: "No, i'm not having twins. It's my fourth child and I know my belly is sticking out." 
i answer with irritation. i'm no mood to be cute and make light of her obvious lack of pregnancy couth.

Her: "Well, you should have that double checked, because otherwise you are just having one big giant baby!! I would have it checked two or three more times! I mean, really. My cousin wasn't as big as you and she was having twins!"

(flames dart from my eyes. i literally scowl as i scan my debit card with utter disgust, trying hard to keep my mouth shut and not say something rude in return.)

Her:"You've got to be having twins! I had six babies and I was never as huge as you! I mean it, you're huge!!"

i really wish i was making it up. i wish i was exaggerating. but she was totally serious and i was totally infuriated. all of this coming from a fellow mom who did this pregnancy thing SIX TIMES and still has the nerve to comment on my apparent humongousness? has she forgotten the fragile state of pregnancy induced hormonal imbalance or the obvious fact that you just don't comment on another woman's body size in an unflattering way? ever. under and circumstances. lie if you need to. say i look beautiful. say i look great. but don't, under any circumstances, say just how huge and horrendous you think i look.   

i left Target and sat in the parking lot and did what any rational person would do. i wrote an email to every Target customer service email address i could find on their website, telling them of my horrendous customer service experience and the verbal onslaught i was subjected to. and i felt better. or at least a little bit. 

i thought about calling Action News. the Inquirer. a lawyer. my next door neighbor's aunt's husband's sister in law's cousin...anyone who would listen and hear my pain. but i didn't. 

the next day, i got a call from a very apologetic Target store manager, offering me a $50 gift card. 
at last, vindication. or at least a little. 
$50 worth of retribution and diaper money.

hopefully in 1-2 more weeks i won't be subjected to any more pregnancy related comments about my protruding belly because all will be distracted by the loveliness of my newborn baby girl :)


the uncharted land of speech {& our progress)

i wrote this post during this past winter (and since i have forgotten all about my blog for the past year, i never posted it :). knowing how far emery has come since then, i decided to post it so i remember just how amazing her recent speech therapy breakthrough has been. (update below)

Dec 2013:
speech and clefts.
it's very unpredictable land. uncharted for each kid. no one can tell you in advance what challenges your CL/CP sweetie will have. some kids pickup sounds and put them together with just a little help from speech therapy. some have holes that continue to break open in their palate. some have no holes, but still can't make sounds because of lip scarring or slow tongue movement. still others struggle and no one knows why. in my experience, it's the biggest challenge a CL/CP child faces...the land of speech. 

the past few years have been filled with years of repeating every single sound and phrase. long days of back and forth, deciphering each little word. years of emery's hard work sitting in countless speech therapy sessions talking and talking and talking. trying the same, frustrating sounds over and over and over. years seeing her extreme frustration when we just don't understand, no matter how hard we try.

i never thought much about how amazing it is when a young child speaks. a native speaker naturally learns the sounds he or she will need during the first year of life. they hear them. practice them. and get lots of time to make mistakes before anyone expects anything of them. 

my 3 year old is thrown into a preschool classroom of 11 kids who chatter about like 4th graders. they can talk up and down, sideways and backwards. words are the easy part. they struggle with sitting still and obeying the rules and running out of line. my daughter has no trouble with rules. she uses scissors like a 4th grader and loves the predictability and exactness a classroom holds. but when my child says "i yent to yak and yaw a net of baba bads" ("i went to the park and saw a nest of baby birds")  they have no idea what she's talking about. and good gracious, if i hadn't been at the park with her and saw the baby birds with my own eyes, i wouldn't have known what she was talking about either. 
she withdraws from talking to people outside our family. i can honestly say she has no friends her own age. it burdens me. 
i could pull her out of preschool and out of situations that challenge her, but i know she needs the opportunity to struggle, so, in turn, she has the opportunity to succeed. if a classroom of 11 preschoolers is a challenge, then by golly, i know she will conquer it. 

it takes a vast amount of context. time spent together, deciphering piece by piece, and enough repetition to make my brain swirl. the slightest moment of distraction on my part leaves me unsure of what she means when she says "i yunt a pupo york not a yeen yun!!" ("i want a purple fork not a green one!!"). and let me tell you, if i don't guess correctly during the first few tries, we have meltdowns of insane proportion. the kind that make the neighbors wonder what on earth is going on in our house. 

the funniest thing is, i like her language. we talk in her code sometimes without even realizing it. my brain forgets it isn't typical little kid talk. a friend was over with her little kids a few weeks ago, and i said to her 3 year old, "do you want to yit on my yap?" she looked strangely at me, until i realized she had no idea "yit" meant "sit" and "yap" meant "lap." i chuckled as emery (from across the room) piped up with "mama, i yit on your yap!!"  and ran right over and hopped up.

and here we are today. 
July 8th, 2014, 4 years old and approaching 3 years home. 
sometime during the spring, things clicked. sparks flew and her words became legible. i don't really remember when exactly it happened, but she came home from school sometime this spring, hopped in the car and said:
"mama, my friend Noah asked me why i had a bandaid on my finger. and i told him i had a boo-boo. and we laughed and laughed! it was sooo funny!" she said, throwing her head back in laughter.
i nearly fell over. she had never remembered a friend's name, had never told me an entire sequence of events when i had no context to guess from. it was her first story and i understood every word. it was a beautiful triumph.

she can express feelings, thoughts, dreams, complicated phrases that she was never taught...because she makes up on her own. she runs into preschool and tells her teacher, "i went camping with my family for by birthday! and i ate cheese balls!!" and her teacher understands. kids standing close by understand and pipe in about the time they went camping or express their own love of cheeze coated goodies. its nearly enough to make my cry each day when i watch her interact with people outside of our family.

i'm not saying every sound is perfectly clear. heck, nearly every word still contains some sort of omission or slightly skewed sound, but the improvement...the ability to understand exactly what she means...that's the triumph. people who don't know her vernacular know what she is saying. it's amazing and freeing for all of us.

her hard work has also given her confidence level a giant leap. she no longer cries when i drop her off at school or in the preschool class at church. she chats with neighborhood kids and trades pokemon cards and invites them in to play in her room. she can also tattle on her brothers and tell them exactly just how frustrated she is with them :)  it's a whole new world for her, and knowing where we started it's nearly unbelievable.


my 38 weeks with you.

i've spent the past 38 weeks with you.
the smallest of the weldons, you feel very big to me.
the width of your growth has very nearly outgrown the real estate i have available :)

i've carried you and hugged you and felt you growing each and every day.
and i love you. i adore you, actually.
i long to know your features and to finally know you face to face.
to hold you with my arms and watch your siblings marvel at the wonder of you.

you have a lot of love waiting for you. i have a feeling, i'll be fending off little arms who want to hold you and take care of you, just so i can spend treasured time with you.

i dream great dreams for you. i pray over your sweet soul and the life God has given you. the life He has entrusted us with. and i ever-so joyfully await who you are and all of the personality and wonderful you bring to our family.

at the moment, week 38 is bringing lots of anticipation. your siblings have packed hospital bags full of toys and drawing materials and silly gadgets to show you. they want to be the first to hold you after you are born and ask every day how much longer. if only...if only i knew.
how about today? today is a great day to be born, little one!

thank you for being my child. for making me a mom again.
i love you and cherish you, my little darling one.


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


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