Monday, December 26, 2011

And the winner is...

Check out Max as he models his favorite Christmas gift. 

I could barely catch him in a photo he was darting so quickly around the house being a superhero [Superhero name is: SuperMax]. 

And later, he teamed up with his cousins on Christmas day and they shared their excitement in all getting a cape and mask for Christmas. Hooray for Etsy, hooray for the PeanutPop Shop.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

What a Christmas to remember. Maximus, under the tree, with his new baby sister, Charlotte. We continue to be blessed [and grateful!] beyond our wildest dreams. 

May you experience the joy of this Christmas season. We certainly are. 

Merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Decorating Fun

Maximus was in sheer holiday heaven decorating (and EATING!) our annual Christmas cookies this year. Way to go buddy! Little heavy on the sprinkles, but they are b.e.a.utiful. ;)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus

Max was in charge of Jesus' birthday cake for his preschool Christmas celebration. What a proud little boy he was picking out the cake (at the grocery store, yes I have a new baby), telling the bakery lady that he needed it to say, "Happy Birthday Jesus," and then sharing it with his friends at school. 

I am so thankful that we have the opportunity to send Maximus to a school that emphasizes the birth of Jesus during the holiday season. 

Jesus is, absolutely, the reason for our season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baby Love

I just love this sweet little baby. Her sweet little face. And her first smiles. I continue to be in awe and wonder of God's goodness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Have WAITED for this MOMENT

I know, stockings on a mantle. Big deal. 

No really, this is a BIG DEAL. Count them. 1...2...3...4... 

I now have FOUR stockings on my mantle. 

I have definitely waited for this moment. ;)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Family Photo Shoot

I just had to post these pictures. We wanted to capture Charlotte at the oh-so-precious newborn stage, so we took the opportunity to update our family photos. I think they turned out absolutely perfect.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Little Indian

Max is absolutely LOVING school. It seems that almost everyday he is asking, "Is it 'chool' day? 

This particular day, the Thanksgiving Feast, is one that has been long awaited. Max, and his school friends have been preparing for weeks. Charlotte and I decided to tag along and spend the afternoon helping the preschool class. Oh what fun! 

The day consisted of: dressing up like Indians (this includes painting your face apparently), making drums out of tin cans, stringing necklaces from painted pasta and beads, and finally having the much-anticipated Thanksgiving Feast. Max was in his element all afternoon and enjoyed every moment. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all! We have so much to be thankful for this holiday season.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Return of the Pumpkin Pie (I think this is Part III)

Sam and Max have a tradition. The "It's Almost Thanksgiving so We Must Bake A Pumpkin Pie" tradition. This year, they invited Charley to be a part of the festivities, so she watched and took notes from her bouncer. Next year, I am sure she will be bossing those boys around and showing them how it's done.

I, on the other hand, am only allowed in the kitchen to snap the annual photo. Which, in all honesty, is fine by me. 

Once again, they did it. Sam, Max, and now Charley, made a delicious pumpkin pie. Throw some Cool Whip on top and you have the most perfect autumn dessert.

Bon Appetit. 

Mixing it up.

Charley included in the photo op! 

Pouring and time to bake! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Charley J

How cute is this little peanut?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Best Birthday EVER

Can I just say how blessed I feel this birthday? It always feels that when you hit milestones you seem to stop, take a minute to reflect, and really evaluate life.

The journey to expanding our family has not been an easy one, but it has certainly been a rewarding one. And Worth. the. Wait. 

I am wife to an amazing husband and mother to two beautiful children. Yes, pinch me. I said mother of two. I am still in complete awe and wonder of God's goodness and perfect timing. I can't imagine life any other way. I can't imagine two more precious children to love and hold. I simply can't imagine.

So cheers to another year, another celebration! 

Happy me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Leaves, Fall Fun

Our backyard is FILLED with trees, which means every fall we have to muster up a workday (or two!) to do some serious yard cleanup. 

Max and I decided to take a break from the back-breaking labor and enjoy the piles and piles of leaves. Sam couldn't help but join in the fun!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Welcome Home Charley!

We were greeted by friends, family, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and even the neighbors when we arrived home with our sweet baby girl. From homemade banners and signs to a nursery makeover that had Sam and I sobbing, we were overwhelmed (once again!) at the thought of introducing our daughter and baby sister to our clan. 

Grandma and Papa 

Brit and Charley

Proud Aunts!

Grandma and Grandpa

Beaming Cousin Lauren

Uncle Tom

And many, many, many, many, many, many, many more.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Charlotte's Story

Hope: Confident, joyful, expectation that good is coming.

This place of HOPE [the confident, joyful, expectation that good WILL come my way], is one that I have been living in for far too long. For nearly a year and a half, I have found myself waking up, everyday, saying, "Today is the day. Today we will get the phone call that will change our forever." 

And, truth be told, some days have been harder to hold fast to the promise and hope of tomorrow. Some days it didn't seem as easy to exclaim, "Yes God! Is today the day?" On those darker days, I had to work much harder, dig much deeper, and find that place of perfect peace, rest, and HOPE. Trusting that God had all the details and perfect plan for us to grow our family. 

Sam and I started our second adoption journey in the spring of 2010. Maximus had just turned two and we began to feel that simple tug in our hearts for another baby. So we decided to get ready. Paperwork, networking and lots of prayer so we could position ourselves right where God would want us to be to make this next connection. With Max's adoption, it took us exactly nine months. From that first decision to adopt, to paperwork, connections and finally: that momentous and miraculous moment where we held our baby boy in our arms for the first time. 

This time was different. 

We waited.

And we waited.

And we waited some more.

In February of 2011, I felt this still small voice (yes God, thank you for assuring me you are still there!) telling me THIS would be our year. In fact, I had this sense that October would be our month. 

So we waited.

And waited.

We spent much of this year in that awkward in-between place. I like to call it the breezeway. You aren't quite fully in the waiting room. But, you are not quite in the open air and sunshine either. 

Before Maximus came along, we were all too familiar with that waiting room, clinging to the promise that God would provide us with a family. We lived in a place where we NEEDED a miracle. We clung to the promise with everything in us, and we waited for God to move in a mighty and powerful way. 

Now, in this breezeway season, we found it ever-so-important to find the balance between contentment in all our answered prayers (Max!), and simply being proactive and having an ear to Heaven so we could position ourselves for another miracle. The breezeway can often feel like you don't know quite where you belong. You are not in the waiting room. But, you can't feel that refreshing outdoor air where freedom and answered prayers live. You can feel stuck and unsettled as you navigate through the in-between. 

During this season I remember continually asking God to give me peace and contentment for my current circumstance. And, at the same time, fill my heart with hope, confidence and wisdom for our future. I didn't want to miss an opportunity to be proactive or move forward with this next desire in my heart. 

So we waited. 

In the breezeway.

October 2011 was quickly approaching. No word of a birthmother. No word of a baby. 

We planned a family weekend getaway the middle of October. And on the drive home, October 16th, Sam and I had that all too familiar discussion. "Where are we? What else should we be doing? What is God saying?" I shared with Sam my disappointment that we were past the halfway point in October and absolutely nothing seemed to be in the works to adopt another baby. I was frustrated and sad and feeling overall discouraged. So together we prayed, even though we still didn't have the solution. 

Note: I feel it is important to interject at this point of Charlotte's story to remind you (and me!) that we serve a God where absolutely NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE. I, of all people, should know that. Time and time again God has done the impossible in my life. One of those "impossibles" is named Maximus and he is a daily reminder that God does fulfill promises. I should have just turned around in the car on our drive home that day and looked in our backseat. ;)

Once we were home and settled from our short, weekend getaway, life and routine resumed as normal....for three short days. On Wednesday, October 19th, we received the phone call. You know the one. That ONE phone call that could possibly change our forever. The adoption agency we had a relationship with called me with news of a birthmother. My hands were shaking, my heart was pounding. I knew this was it. I knew God was about to unfold the miracle right before our very eyes.

I had to wait six excruciating hours until I could share the news with Sam. All day, I was praying. For this birthmother, for this baby. And for our family. The catch was we had only one night to discuss, decide and get back with the agency. You see, Aaron, this precious birthmother was 36 weeks and 5 days along in her pregnancy. WOW! Only three short weeks to prepare (Good thing we were ready!). 

As Sam and I discussed the possibility our excitement grew. In all honesty, we didn't have much detail. We knew the birthmother's name: Aaron. We knew where she lived: Florida. We knew how far she was along: 36 weeks and 5 days. And we knew she and baby were healthy. 

On paper, that was the information we knew. In our spirit, we knew much more. We knew what peace felt like, and we had it. We knew God had whispered "October" to us, and we were in it. And we were in agreement that this was the situation God had been preparing us for, we were sure of it. 

So, with a quick phone call, we simply told our agency: "We are in. Tell us what to do next." 

It seemed almost impossible to get everything ready in three short weeks. Some parts of our homestudy needed updating, shopping for baby items, packing bags for Sam, Max and I to travel to Florida.

Wait? Did I just say three weeks? Who needs three weeks, when you can get a phone call 48 hours later saying your birthmother is in labor.

That's right. Friday afternoon we received an unexpected phone call saying Aaron was going into labor and we needed to book flights and head to Florida. 

Since we thought we had a few weeks, Sam happened to be heading to Birmingham, Alabama for a guys weekend with a friend. Looks like guys weekend was about to be interrupted. Plans were immediately changed so Max and I could meet up with Sam and head to the hospital in Tallahassee, Florida. 

Keep in mind we still know NOTHING. Was it a boy? Was it a girl? Would Aaron want to meet us? What about a name for this child? What about travel arrangements? And where we would stay? get the idea. 

So, with one foot in front of the other, we blazed forward with speedy preparations and plans. We had our faith, and knew God was in control. 

With bags packed, and flight arrangements made, Max and I were ready to meet Sam in Birmingham Saturday morning, so as a family, we could make the five hour drive to Tallahassee. 

Now, do you really think I could fall asleep knowing what the next day had in store for us? Of course not. So, I was wide awake, shortly after midnight, when I received a call from our agency: IT'S A GIRL!


We had a daughter. 

Born October 22, 2011 at 12:07 am.

6 pounds, 7 ounces. 19 inches long. 

Perfect and healthy.

A daughter. 

Words simply can't describe that kind of phone call. Overwhelmed. Overjoyed. And in love. With this precious daughter I can't wait to hold. 

We arrived at the hospital in Tallahassee close to 5pm on Saturday, October 22. Right away, we were greeted by Molly from our agency and she told us that Aaron wanted to meet us and introduce us to our baby girl. An answer to prayer! Our hearts soared when we found out our birthmother wanted to meet us. Our desire throughout this entire journey was to establish a life-long friendship with this young woman that chose to gift her child to us. 

Walking into the hospital room was somewhat surreal. Not even a week ago, I was sharing my frustration with Sam that we were halfway through the month of October and nothing seemed to be on the horizon for us. Oh how I am sure God was enjoying that moment. ;)

Once I laid eyes on Aaron I knew we had an instant connection. Besides being absolutely stunning, she had a smile that lit up the room and a peace that told you all was well and right in the world. I knew right away in my heart, that this was the young woman God had chosen for us. 

The first words out of anyone's mouth in the hospital room: "What is her NAME?" Once again, overwhelmed. They had waited all day, to meet us in person, and ask that oh-so-personal and important question of what NAME we had chosen for this precious baby girl. 

Charlotte Jane. 

And they loved it. 

Within the whirlwind, we had so many sweet and precious moments in the hospital:

I spent the night with Aaron and Charlotte in their hospital room on Saturday night. A night I will never forget, as Aaron and I shared so many details of our lives and and became fast friends. 

Maximus asking us, after being at the hospital day and night, for nearly 24 hours, "Can we just take that baby home with us?" We decided to share with him, at that moment, that he was a big brother and YES we were taking this baby home with us. 

Holding, and cuddling, and kissing, and staring at our beautiful daughter (all while we were pinching ourselves that THIS was our new reality). We were absolutely, and utterly, overwhelmed by God's goodness to, once again, work a miraculous story in our lives. 

So, in eight very short days, we received a phone call about a birthmother. We made the decision to move forward. We were told our birthmother, Aaron, went into labor early. We traveled to Tallahassee, Florida. Paperwork was signed, sealed, and we were released from the hospital. We waited patiently with family in Orlando, Florida and received word from our attorney that all interstate paperwork was approved and could begin our drive home to Ohio. 

We officially arrived home, with our new baby girl, on October 30, 2011.

What an amazing and miraculous God we serve. 

It is truly the SUDDENLY'S in life that can change everything. Suddenly, God can take a bleak and hopeless situation and turn it into the most amazing, life-changing miracle.

And suddenly...we received a phone call.

And suddenly...we were on a plane heading to Florida.

And suddenly...we were introduced to a birthmother.

And suddenly...we were holding our daughter in our arms.

And suddenly...our forever family was changed.

I am so thankful for the suddenly's in life. I am thankful that even in our darkest moments, we can cling to HOPE [the confident, joyful, expectation that good WILL come my way], we can declare our promises, and we can celebrate when our miracle finally arrives. 

My arms are stretched wide enjoying our answered prayers in the open, refreshing, outdoor air.

Charlotte Jane, you are truly a prize, my love. There will not be a day that goes by we don't thank God for sending us such a perfect gift, and giving us a daughter to love and cherish. 

So how do I sum this up? 

With this simple statement: Believe in Miracles. 

We do. 

Charlotte Jane 

Aaron with Charlotte

The Girls

Our Miracle!