Trip to Colorado to Visit Birthmoms!

Last year, Jake & Emmie curiously opened tiny little boxes found underneath the Christmas tree. What could those be?

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Inside were ring pops (!) and a request for them to be in Anna’s wedding. They were very excited! Without hesitation, Emmie ran to the kitchen for a pencil and replied to her request.

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And tomorrow is the day we leave for the wedding!

In addition to the wedding activities, we will get to visit Jake’s birthmom, as well. What a blessing. It will be a quick, whirlwind of a trip. But an amazing chance for our kids to make a special memory they will hold onto for life.

As you know, we keep in touch with both of our kids’ birth families. Their birthmoms are both beautiful and lovely young women. The last time we visited with Emmie’s birthmom, Anna, was two years ago. She spent time with us in Maryland.DSC_0246

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We were able to see Jake’s birthmom, Jordana, when she came to DC on a work trip last September. We went to the Spy Museum, had lunch at Austin Grill, and Jake wore his favorite Caps shirt and his fedora.

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I love my kids to the ends of the earth, and everyday I’m grateful that God made the way possible for me to be their mom. Think about it! We live 1,600 miles apart! Strangers, we were. Praise the Lord for how he led us to our adoption agency, Hope’s Promise! Praise the Lord for the timing. Praise the Lord that three different adoption plans didn’t work out, as painful and horrible as those experiences were to live through. But we trusted God and knew He was with us, no matter what. We are blessed.

Through years of pain, loss, and infertility in longing for a child, He brought us two amazing, unbelievable blessings.

In the past few weeks, I have been praying increasingly about this trip. As the Lord has spoken to me quietly, he has revealed over and over how loved both of our kids are. What an enormous gift. To be loved by so many.

If you think about it in the next few days, please pray for us on our trip.

Thank you!

Eighteen

We are on our way back home to Maryland after a nice visit with Mike’s family in Arkansas. Today is our anniversary, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the occasion than a road trip with the kids. Okay, maybe I can think of 99 better ways. Especially since Emmie just told us her tummy hurts. But, apparently, the potential for puke has been averted by allowing her to watch her choice of DVD–Despicable Me 2, instead of what her brother was viewing, the Lord of the Rings director’s commentary.

Number 1 of 1,754 of the day’s problems has been solved, and it’s before 8:00 a.m.

Actually, it might as well be Number 4. I should count the following: 1. Proper footwear was found after the van was packed. She needed her boots, not her sneakers. Because obviously. 2. The box of gummy Lifesavers that Jake looked “all over for” was found in his backpack. And 3. Although Mike had MacGyvered a new way for cords and plugs to reach where they’re supposed to go, Jake accidentally (but more like carelessly) pulled out the cord. Yet, I was able to save the day and successfully re-plug it in the right place. That feels pretty good, especially on a special day like this.

Our 18th Anniversary.

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This picture was taken at Halloween (oh, was that explanation not necessary?) and I really like when Mike will take the occasional selfie with me. It always surprises me a little and delights me a lot. He’s full of delightful surprises. That’s something I love about him.

Take, for example, a delightful somethin’ I just learned today (it’s now about 11 a.m.):

I found out that he wrote a worship song that we often sing at church. Seriously, I didn’t know. I took a break from writing this post to listen in on our church service streaming live. The song that played after our pastor’s sermon was familiar, and I wanted to sing along, but I had to google the lyrics. I couldn’t find the version our worship team was singing, so I asked Mike why I had no luck. He simply said, “because I wrote them.” Wait, what?

He just looked at me and smiled but shrugged. Not a big deal to him; he just forgot to tell me. Now, let me be honest here. At first I wanted to slug him in the arm for that. I could’ve made this all about me, believe me. But, then the kids chimed in and got really excited. And we were “in church” so I was on my best behavior. :)

He had re-worked the hymn “A Soldier of the Cross” years ago and I HAD NO IDEA. Now, if I wrote a song and people actually liked it? Major news. I’d talk about that for a while, at least for a while in the way that makes your closest friends and spouse begin to roll their eyes a little. But not Mike. He just wrote a song, and did it in a humble way, an expression from his heart of worship. And I’ve been singing it for years, assuming that it was published and included in search engines everywhere.

Life (and the guy you vow to do life with) comes with all kinds of little surprises. You just never know what new things you’ll learn each day. God has a way of timing them ever so rightly.

Just like knowing when the right time to celebrate your anniversary is: after you recover from a road trip with the kids.

There’s Always a Marvel/DC Debate

Which one is better? Marvel or DC? As a mom of a 12-year old boy, I have overheard this being discussed in the most serious of nature. Sometimes it gets heated and the debate includes a lot of “dude! but…” exclamations. I cannot contribute much to the conversation. I just smile and nod. I think, in the end, people agree that Marvel is the best.

But we are equal opportunity when it comes to Halloween. Agent Coulson and Supergirl, together, are nothing but awesome.

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Usually we stay in our own neighborhood, but this year we were invited for spaghetti and trick-or-treating with friends.

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All the kids had a great time and it was a fun night for the adults, too. The kids are now big enough that they stick together and go to the door by themselves while we wave from the bottom of the driveway. Mike and I have a rule that we don’t let our kids eat the candy until we can sort through the bags at home. This is especially important given that Emmie has a tree nut allergy.

Lo, and behold, this rule was extremely important this year. Look what we found in their bags!!

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This could’ve been really dangerous for Emmie. She had begged me for a piece of candy while they were trick-or treating because all the older kids were eating along the way. I said no, no, no….then caved. I let her find some Whoppers, knowing that they are safe for her allergy. So she reached in. We discovered the loose nuts when everyone got back and dumped their bags on the floor. I could hardly believe my eyes. Someone handed out NUTS?? What in the world? We speculated that it might have been from an elderly neighbor or someone from another country who is unfamiliar with the custom. Coulda been – it’s not uncommon in some cultures to offer food or candy to anyone who comes to the door. But wow. WOW!

It was a wake-up call to me to stay strict about our rules.You cannot be too careful.

Even with Agent Coulson, Supergirl, Spidergirl, and Batman in the crowd.

The October of Twenty-Fourteen

I’m going to be very unpopular here and say that October isn’t my favorite. Maybe it’s because I don’t like pumpkin spice all that much, but it probably has more to do with my emotions and being 39 years old. Last year, I had thyroid surgery on October 14th and the recovery was harder than I expected. I was also self-conscious about the big gross scar in the center of my throat, which OF COURSE I wouldn’t admit to, so I stuffed those feelings inside. No one understood. The universe was against me. I cried a lot.

This year, I got a painful sinus infection. My voice was hoarse for two weeks straight, and my kids seized that golden opportunity to stay out of listening range. And, as you know, my little girl got her ears pierced, our schedule was packed with one thing after another, and we traded in our 11-year-old van that carried memories not just people. Again, I cried. A lot.

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But just like last year, the feeling of hitting my maximum was a gracious warning bell. Not that I was gracious in response, at first. But God pours out His grace even when we “got it under control” but are making our loved ones “miserable.” :) So, when the Fall colors were at their peak, I really paid attention to all that October had to offer. Maybe not the pumpkin spice, but certainly the sights and sounds of changing leaves and crunchy walks in the woods. Just being outside with my kids and taking a break helped a ton. I became – with easy success – a fan of October again.

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I tried to repeat this intention the next day, too. Emmie and I had an afternoon to ourselves and spent most of it on the playground. We were silly, un-rushed, and carefree.

It was exactly what we needed.

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Emotions & Earrings

Who would have thought that holes in the ears would be so emotional?

Emmie has been asking to get her ears pierced for several months. She wanted to wear earrings to Anna’s wedding in December, and being a jr. bridesmaid in her birthmom’s wedding is an earring-worthy experience. I agreed that it was a very good reason. I wanted ear piercing to be a special milestone in her life and a day that she would remember. So we made plans for a Mommy-Daughter day out at the mall.

First, the before picture.

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My thought at this moment? I can’t.

I can’t take her to do something big girlish. She’s still 5 months old and I’m taking videos of her playing with her cute little feet, not taking her to the mall to get her ears pierced.

But you should’ve seen how resolved she was to get them done. She was nervous as can be, but as brave as you could imagine.

Sorry (not sorry) for all the pictures. But it was a big moment, a big day. Pretty emotional. I felt like my heart was about to burst. She was so brave.

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Of course, she brought Bunny. That actually was pretty comforting for me. :)

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After we admired her pretty flower studs in the mirror and I told her how beautiful she was and how proud I was of her, we walked over to Dippin’ Dots to celebrate.

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I just love this girl so much.

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New York City Weekend: From the Station to Broadway

Last Sunday I returned from a fun weekend in New York City – my first time visiting the Big Apple! Mike’s mom treated Jen and me to this trip for our 40th birthdays.

Jen’s birthday was in September and mine is in December, so early fall was the ideal time to plan this celebratory getaway. And let me tell you, the weather in New York City was so nice. A little warm, actually, as it went up to 80 degrees each afternoon, but the mornings and evenings were delightful. People were wearing anything from t-shirts and jeans to tank tops and shorts to leather jackets and boots.

Our trip began at a train station before sunrise on Friday morning. We rode the Metro to Union Station in D.C., then boarded an Amtrak train for NY. Going up the escalator at Penn Station, I felt like I was living in a scene from Crocodile Dundee. Immediately I felt like I entered into an unfamiliar world and I was clearly out of my comfort zone. It was busy, especially at lunchtime on a sunny Friday afternoon. Although, something tells me the day, time, or weather hardly makes any difference.

Rolling our carry-on luggage, we made our way down the busy sidewalks and found our hotel. Mike’s parents went all out and got us a room at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway. It was beautiful. And very, very tall.

We were on the 35th floor.

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After Jen arrived in her cab from the airport, we took care of a matter that was of utmost importance.

Lunch.

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I had the biggest cobb salad of my life, and it was delicious. I wanted to take a picture and instagram the memory of why buttermilk ranch may become the next 10 pounds I have to work off. But our conversation was too good and our waiter sang to us, so I don’t think I’ll need the picture to remind me of our lunch. It was very fun and unique.

After lunch, Mike’s mom and I did some scouting and figured out the best route to the theater for our first show. Since Jen uses a wheelchair, certain traffic corners or sidewalks were better than others to navigate. Construction, puddles in the cut-out of the sidewalk, and other such things present challenges. So, planning ahead was a good idea. We then knew our timetable for eating before the show and making it to the theater before they opened the doors.

Again, food was a priority.

We had dinner at Broadway Restaurant (very good food) and we saw Jersey Boys that night. If you’re looking for a family-friendly musical, then Jersey Boys wouldn’t be the one you would watch with your kids, but I loved the music, story, and production of the show. The talent of these actors – it was remarkable! And I’ve had Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons songs playing in my mind constantly. Well, those songs plus Hacuna Matata and the opening of Circle of Life.

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I bet you can’t guess what our second Broadway show was.

I know. TWO Broadway shows on my first trip ever to New York. I can’t even. I’m so grateful. It was such a generous gift and I enjoyed every minute of our girl’s weekend.

The Lion King, as it goes without saying, was amazing. It was truly unforgettable. I would see it again in a heartbeat (in fact, Jen had seen it before and still loved it just as much the second time).

I’m going out of order, though, so let me go back to the morning of Day 2.

We got up around 9 a.m. and walked to a local bagel place (can’t remember the name, sorry). We made our way down the same route as the day before (we were becoming very familiar!) to Madison Square Garden, which provided a nice, quiet spot to eat and drink our coffee (Jen) coffee/hot chocolate (me) and Diet Dr. Pepper (Mom).

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We didn’t want to hurry ourselves around the city trying to cram in a lot of sightseeing on this trip. Oh my word, that was the best call for us. It was such an enjoyable and, dare I say, RELAXED trip to NYC. I took in a lot and enjoyed the walk up and down 7th Avenue. And I happened to capture an iconic picture of Times Square with the taxis and digital ads. So my day was made.

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But, of course, it got better. Since we had some time on Saturday between breakfast and The Lion King matinee, we decided to take a tour of Madison Square Garden. They just finished a billion dollar renovation, and included a lot of backstage curiosity elements in their tour.

This ended up being one of those surprise highlights of our trip. All three of us loved it. I was geekin’ out, actually, and sending texts to Mike throughout the tour. There’s Jimmy Buffet’s t-shirt. Dave Matthews’ guitar! Wayne Gretzky’s jersey!

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And seeing the locker rooms, corporate suites, beer room, and other backstagy things on the tour were pretty neat.

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Plus, the views going up the escalators were pretty amazing.

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And we had a good time just goofing off a little bit. Even though we are true Caps fans, we couldn’t resist buying this picture for a souvenir.

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After the tour, we had just the right amount of time to go back to the hotel and freshen up, and walk directly across the street to see the show.

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And, of course, after the show we went out to eat. We decided on going to John’s Pizzeria.

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It is located in a renovated church that, sadly, was run-down and abandoned, but they kept the stained glass. Most beautiful pizzeria I’ve ever been to. ;)IMG_1103

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Mmmm. I only have the nicest things to say about that piece of cheesecake.

So, what did we do after all that fun on Saturday?

 

Here’s a hint.

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We went back to our hotel and enjoyed the view in the peace and quiet of our own room. We’re kinda crazy, aren’t we?

But, if you want to know the truth, it was a perfect choice. Because, just being together and hanging out was the very best part of the trip.

I won’t ever forget it.

An Apple A Day

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Before September gets up and leaves town, I better catch up on some blogging. Earlier in the month, we spontaneously planned a field trip out to the orchard with friends. If September = Apples, then we got it right this time. We had apples for days.

Literally.

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Emmie and Madeline (and her brother and sister) bounded for the apple trees with joy. Before we knew it, our baskets were getting full and heavy in the wheelbarrow. Of course, little Lucy was in it, too. It was a 3-kid job to push forward!

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After a few steps, it was time to stop for some pictures. I just love these kids. They are the cutest.

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Naomi and I have known each other for several years, but this year we get to see each other nearly everyday because our schedules are so similar. I’m super excited about that!

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Before we checked out at the store and paid an estimated million dollars for our apples, we stopped by to say hello to the farm animals.

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Then we were on our way. Just a quick field trip, but we made the most of our “apple month” and made it a homeschooling unit by getting some books at the library and making some apple pie. It made for a delicious September!

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