Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Twenty-Thirteen

2013... what a year!

Like every year there were highs and lows, but I'm thankful to say that the good outweighed the bad. 

We've made new friends at work, in our church and through our adoption agency.  We shared memories with family, including a few trips to Michigan, visits from my Michigan family, cookouts with Nate's family and a couple of fabulous Christmas celebrations.  We had some once in a lifetime experiences, including meeting J and being matched in our adoption, attending several professional sporting events and the Football Hall of Fame Enshrinee's Gold Jacket Dinner, the Hanson concert I thoroughly enjoyed, and our first big vacation/delayed honeymoon to Mexico!  And we made some amazing strides in our adoption journey, from completing our paperwork to joining Adoption Network Cleveland, attending agency events and being matched.

2013 was a great year all in all, but I have a feeling 2014 could top it!

Since my last update we have attended four more check-up appointments with J.  Thankfully all have been relatively uneventful.  I can't say enough how thankful we are for the opportunity to attend appointments, not only for the first hand information we get from our doctor but also for the opportunity to get to know J more. 

We've also had one ultrasound, which Nate was unable to attend due to a work trip.  He was pretty bummed to miss the appointment, but we did find out that baby girl appears to be right on target for size and looks to have lots of hair!  I called Nate on my way home from the appointment to tell him I was headed to the store to buy some bows!

We did a tour of the hospital where J is planning to deliver, after one of our appointments.  It made for a long day, and we didn't really learn as much as we were hoping to learn.  We found out where to park for the quickest access to the maternity floor, got a tour of the maternity floor and got a list of hotels closest to the hospital.  Since we weren't able to get much adoption specific information, we asked for the social worker's phone number to see if we can get any more specifics.  From what I've read of other adoptive families, the hospital can be one of the bumpiest parts.  I'm expecting the worst, and maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.  We will see...

Our families and friends also threw us three separate baby showers since my last post!  I'm so thankful for all the effort that went into these, and the thoughtfulness people have put forth in planning our showers and bringing gifts.  Nate and I truly appreciate everything we've received, and we're officially ready for baby girl's arrival!

We celebrated Christmas with my family earlier in December, and it was really nice!  We decided to keep things simple and just do an ornament exchange, instead of buying gifts for one another.  We watched the little kids open their gifts and had fun opening or "stealing" one another's ornaments.  Hopefully that will become a new family tradition.  We never seem to have enough time to spend with one another, but it really was a nice trip.

Christmas with Nate's family was also so great.  We attended Christmas Eve service at the church where we were married, with Nate's entire family.  Afterward we went to Nate's parent's house for dinner and present opening.  Again, we opted to get gifts for the kids and not worry about doing a gift exchange between adults.  It's just so much fun watching the little ones enjoy Christmas!  On our way home, Nate and I decided to do a little extra driving to look at Christmas lights, and we spent Christmas Day relaxing at home.

On Friday we attended our most recent check-up appointment with J.  She said she had been feeling sick all day on Thursday, so we packed a bag and some baby essentials before we left for the appointment - just in case.  Obviously, there was no baby on Friday but we are officially "on call."  J is already starting to get dilated and was 70% effaced as of Friday.  We are all eager, and hoping for a happy, healthy baby in the new year!

Today we celebrate New Year's.  We are still trying to decide exactly what we should do.  Things have been so busy lately that we have enjoyed relaxing at home, but we also enjoy ringing in the new year with friends... decisions, decisions.  Whatever we decide, tomorrow begins a year that is bound to be a memorable one!

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope 2014 brings you all health, happiness and success!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Keep Shopping Amazon for a Cause (please)!

About a year ago we started what has become one of our most successful adoption fundraisers, and it's still going strong!  Please remember us for your Cyber Monday (and other online) shopping. 

If you access Amazon using our link, a portion of your sale will automatically be donated to our fund.  Everything looks the same to you and it's confidential.  Just be sure to start with an empty cart!

Thank you!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first giveaway!  I wanted to let you all know that Kristen from Adoption Love is our lucky winner!!

Don't forget you can still get 10% off at the r house couture Etsy shop by using the promo code "SIMPLICITY" at checkout.  This offer is valid until December 13th.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Meet Vanessa - Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2013

Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2013

To wrap up National Adoption Month, I'm participating in the 2013 adoption blogger interview project from Open Adoption Bloggers!  I learned about OAB last year, right after the interview project had taken place.  I'm so excited to participate this year!

I was paired with Vanessa, a beautiful adoptive mama who blogs at Unexpected Dreams.  She is committed to writing about whatever is happening in her life, moment to moment.  I enjoyed getting to know Vanessa through this project, and look forward to keeping in touch with her now that the project is wrapping up.  Make sure to visit Vanessa's blog to show her some love, and to check out her interview with me!

Please check out the other interviews in our group, as well as the first and second interview groups for this year's project.

And now for my interview with Vanessa:

You talk about seasons in your life a lot.  Can you tell us about the season you're in now?

I do talk about seasons a lot. I find that it is easier to describe what may be going on in my life at the time. I would describe this season as a season of waiting and a season of in between. We are waiting to hopefully welcome a new little one into our home through adoption. We are waiting to see how our family will grow. With that I feel like we are in between of being a family that is complete. There is so much that is happening in this season of life. I am not good at waiting or being in a place that is not quite defined. It has been hard and drives me insane many days but is also been a time of growth as a family too. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

How did your year of contentment go for 2013? 

Contentment has been something that I have thought so much about over the last year. It was something that I felt that we needed to focus on this year and it is a word that continues to breathe life into our family regularly.

What I have found is that contentment is going to be an on-going theme in our home. We live in a world that really does not promote contentment well. We are told to strive for bigger, better, and more. We are told that we can have it all and we should work hard to achieve it all. And while I do agree with some of those things, I would also argue that living in the present and seeing what it is that you do have, is equally important. I do work hard, my husband works hard but yet we are finding that the stuff is not what we want. We want more time with each other creating memories for our family.

I have learned that more is not better; it is not always what we need or what we even really want. I have tried spending more time focusing on relationships instead of stuff. Investing more in my marriage, in my family, with friendships etc. I have started to look beyond the stuff and look into what was important to me. It continues to be a work in progress!

What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

I am looking forward to growing our family in 2014. At least, I am hopeful that we are going to grow our family in 2014. I am trying hard to not put a time frame on this adoption. You never know what will happen!

I am also looking forward to seeing Little Miss continue to grow and develop. She is in a very fun and challenging age and we are enjoying her so much! I love doing life with her and the hubby!

Can you share Little Miss' adoption story, for those of us who are new to your blog?

I don’t share a ton of details about Little Miss’s adoption because it is not all my story to share with the public. It is her story and I feel that my responsibility is to protect that for her for as long as I can. However, I can give you a snapshot of what we happened during that time.

In a nutshell, we started the adoption process again in 2010 after our first adoption did not finalize in 2007. We were in the beginning stages of researching agencies and saving money when we found out that Little Miss’s birth mom was expecting. We were officially waiting adoptive parents soon after meeting her and Little Miss’s biological father.

We spent the next several months preparing for a baby and going through the emotions that adoption brings. We were able to attend doctors appointment with our birth mom which was amazing gift for us. Our relationship with her birth parents started to grow during these appointments, which was amazing!

Little Miss made her entrance into the world 7 weeks early! Yep…she decided that she was coming early and did not really wait for any of us to be ready for this. We spent a week in the NICU and the rest of her story is a whirlwind.

We finalized our adoption when Little Miss was 5 month old, on my father’s birthday which is only fitting because she was born on my grandfather’s (his fathers) birthday.

We continue to have an open relationship with her birth parents. It is a different relationship than I had hoped for but it is growing and for that I am thankful.

I’m sorry that you experienced such loss before the joy of Little Miss, but I think you would agree that God had a plan the whole time, and has a plan for all of us. What advice would you give to others going through infertility and/or a failed adoption match?

This is a hard question for me to answer because I think that we all deal with grief in loss in different ways. I can tell you that for me, I was angry for a while. Not at the fact that a mother decided to parent her child, but at the fact that my heart still ached to be a mother and my infertility was preventing that. At least that is how I thought about it at the time.

I would say that if you believe in God then know that He is bigger than this and that He will see you through it even if you are not sure how. I knew that there had to be a reason for the pain that we were going through and believed that this was just a piece of our story as a family. I held on to the fact that the God I believe in is a God of love and redemption and restoration. He is a God that has a plan for us and it doesn’t always line up the way we want or hope for but He has a plan.

Please hear me when I say that this doesn’t mean that you don’t hurt or struggle with what is going on, because you may and should if that is where you are. There were many days I struggled to be thankful for what I had and where I was and I lived in anger and heart break. I have often said that infertility sucks! And it does, but you will also hear me say that without that pain and grief, I would have the most beautiful, sweet, smart and healthy little girl.

Even though the pain maybe really fresh and raw right now, know that it will change and be different at some point. It wont stay raw forever. Know that it is ok to be angry about it, to hate it and to be angry with God. It is ok to grieve the loss that you face with infertility and with a failed adoption.

I don’t know how much this will help. I just know what helped me at the time. Looking back I wish I didn’t feel so much shame about our situation but I did. It was through all that pain and loss that I ended up learning the most about myself…so be open to what God may be doing in the midst of being in the valley.

What advice would you give to first time parents to be?

First time parents will get lots and lots of advice. I don’t really want to add to the “you should do this and that” list. But what I will say is, enjoy it! Parenting is hard, and tiring and heart breaking and you will often feel like you are losing you mind, but it is also fun and amazing and a gift so delight in all of it!!

And keep your marriage healthy if you are married and parenting children. I am convinced parenting is one of the major reasons why people divorce. It brings out so much in you and your spouse that it can be hard. So nurture your relationship for the sake of your family!

Is there anything else you would like your readers to know?

I am sure there is more to share but for everyone’s reading eyes I will stop here. Thank you for allowing me to share a bit about our story! And thank you for asking some really great questions!

A big thank you to Vanessa for sharing her story!  And thanks to Heather at Open Adoption Bloggers for organizing the interview project year after year.  I can't wait to participate again next year!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

First Award!

Until Forever... has been nominated for it's first blog award!  I'm so grateful for my fellow bloggers who nominated us for the Sunshine Award.  Amazingly, we were nominated by three wonderful women and I've been trying to decide how to respond to multiple nominations!

What I've decided is that I will answer the interview questions from the first person who nominated us - that would be Kristen at Adoption Love.  Thanks so much, Kristen!

I've also decided that since most of the lovely ladies I want to nominate have already received awards, I'm not going to post questions for them to answer.  I will, however list all of my favorite sunshiny blogs!  All of these ladies deserve to be recognized, and to know how much I enjoy keeping up with their stories.


The (official) rules for the sunshine award (which I am breaking):
-proudly post your new award
-answer the 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you
-nominate 11 wonderful bloggers
-write 11 questions for them to answer
-let your nominees know that you have nominated them

Kristen's questions for us:

1. What is the best advice you've ever gotten?
We have gotten so much advice lately.  It's not surprising, considering we are about to become first time parents through our first adoption.  I welcome all advice, but sometimes it can be overwhelming!  Don't deny it, if you've been in our shoes you know what I'm talking about.  I would say that the best advice I've received is to just enjoy becoming a parent.
  
2. What is your first childhood memory?
When I was 2 years old my family moved from our first to our second home.  I remember being really upset in the car because I forgot my toy helicopter in the sand box.  My parents couldn't imagine how I would remember that I left it behind, but the turned the car around due to my hysterics.  Turns out, I was right - the toy was right where I said it would be!

3. If you could choose another time in history to live, when would it be?
This one's a draw for me!  For some reason I can picture myself as a 1960's housewife, although I don't have any of the qualities those ladies seemed come by naturally!  I also think I would have loved living in Elizabethan England.  I love any and all literature centered around that time period.

4. What's the latest book you read and what was it about?
I'm currently reading the last book, Allegiant in the Divergent series.  It's a series of three young-adult dystopian/science fiction books by Veronica Roth.  It takes place in dystopian Chicago in a society made up of five factions.  Members of each faction dedicate themselves to the cultivation of a particular virtue.

5. How did you meet your significant other?
Nate and I met online on some free dating website.  We started chatting on AOL instant messenger (which cracks me up) for a few months and then decided to start talking on the phone.  When we decided to meet in person, he and a few of his friends met with me and some of my friends at our apartment.  We hit it off right away, and the rest is history... since I can't come up with something more creative to end this story. 

6. What's the best way to get on your good side?
Nominate our blog for an award!... just kidding.  I would say just be nice and genuine.  I don't connect well with people who are judgmental, insincere or dishonest.

7. What's your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
Go out for breakfast!  I love having breakfast at restaurants.

8. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Hmm... this is a tough one for me.  I haven't really traveled much in my life.  I've been to London, England and I've also been to Cancun, Mexico.  I loved them both and hope to be able to return to each eventually.  Nate and I usually make an annual trip to Hocking Hills, and I'm never ready to come home from that peaceful place.  For some reason though, I've always thought that I would love to live in Tennessee.  I've never actually been there, but I think the weather would be perfect!  It seems like you'd still get variations in the seasons, but probably not as much snow as we get in Ohio (and definitely not as much as I grew up with in Michigan).

9. What has been your favorite "adoption moment" so far?
This one is tough, too!  I have honestly enjoyed the adoption process overall, and I'm hesitant to name a favorite moment when we have so many more exciting moments still to come.  If I had to chose one moment above all others, I guess I would say this - after The Call and The (much anticipated) Meeting we received a call from the birth mother counselor we are now working with.  She was calling to tell us that we were officially matched!  While that call definitely tops my list of favorite moments, the text message I received from J afterward is probably number one...  It contained a photo of her most recent ultrasound (she was bummed that she forgot to bring it with her to the meeting) and the words "I know I've chosen the right parents for this baby.  I'm so excited!"  Her message gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes.

10. What would your family pet say to you if they could talk?
We have two cats, Ari and Ozzie, and they are pretty talkative (they meow at us a lot, I mean) and energetic.  If they could talk, they would probably say things like "c'mon, downstairs, it's breakfast time!," and "can opener?  tuna!," or "bathroom time!" since we absolutely can't be in the bathroom without one of them in there with us.  I don't get it.

11. What is the airspeed velocity of a laden swallow?
African or European? 


Thanks again, Kristen!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five on Friday Link-up!


I'm linking up with Darci over at the Good Life Blog for another Five on Friday!

1) We had our first of three baby showers a week ago today.  It's totally surreal that this is happening, and I can't get my head around the fact that it's real!  While I feel like we have a great and growing relationship with J, it's hard to imagine that we are preparing our hearts and home for a baby.  I don't have any photos of the shower to post (they are on my sister's phone), but I think I'll do one big baby shower post after we have the one with my co-workers and the one with my family in Michigan.  I do have a photo of our house the next day, while we started putting items together...


2) I ordered and received our Christmas cards for this year!  For the past two years I've ordered from Simply to Impress, and I've actually been really impressed (pun noted).  This year they sent me an offer of 10 free cards as a thank you for my loyalty.  On top of that I was able to take advantage of their site-wide 20% discount.  I ended up saving $35.00 on our cards!  Plus, you can't help but love this adorable packaging:



3) I discovered Burlington this week!  I've checked out their site in the past and have seen their commercials, but I've never really found anything that sparked my interest.  Earlier this week though, Nate found the car seat we were registered for, on Burlington's website and it was significantly discounted!  We were able to save $130 by settling for a different (but totally acceptable) color.  Deal!  I ran up to the store on my lunch break, and I was pleasantly surprised.  I wish I would have had more time to browse and compare prices on some other items I've been wanting to get.  An adventure for another day!


4) I also discovered Good Greens bars this week!  I am sold!  I have this thing with textures affecting my like or dislike of certain foods.  Unfortunately, most fruits and vegetables have textures I can't get past.  My go-tos are apples and raw carrots - sweet and crunchy.  Sometimes I can handle bananas.  I've been trying to force myself to try more things lately, and I'm happy to say that I've been able to add broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach and cooked carrots to my OK with list.  However, I still don't eat as many fruits and vegetables as I should.  When I saw the words "100% of your daily fruits and vegetables" on the Good Greens bars package, I was instantly interested.  I tried pumpkin spice, chocolate peanut butter and chocolate chunk this week, and I was really impressed.  I definitely recommend giving these a try!



5) We have had a couple of extra special birthdays lately.  Our oldest niece turned 4 on Halloween (ok, I'm a little late with this one) and our youngest niece turns 1 on the 27th.  I was able to make some special shirts for the girls to wear on their big days.  I'm really happy with how they turned out:


BONUS - Don't forget about our first-ever giveaway!  Drawing will be on 11/29.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

the r house couture giveaway!!

Alright, everybody! I’ve got some praise to give.

Back in June I made an Etsy purchase from the r house couture shop. This was when Nate and I were at a tough spot (one of many) in our adoption process. All of our paperwork and interviews were done, and we knew that our profile book had been presented to several expectant mothers who had chosen other adoptive families. We were thinking about networking with another agency, but didn’t know how that would affect the progress we had made with our first agency. We had no idea how much longer we would be waiting or how many more times our profile would be presented. I was starting to feel defeated. I needed some little reminder to just hang on.  Enter my new favorite piece of jewelry:


Sometimes I hesitate to order jewelry online, mainly because it’s difficult to judge the size and quality of a piece without actually being able to touch it. However, I don’t regret placing this order for one second! I’ve worn my necklace almost every day since it arrived, and I have never received so many compliments on any other piece of jewelry. It’s durable but elegant, handmade and high quality, and I think it’s obvious that the piece holds special meaning to me. Perfect!

Let me give you some background.

When Nate and I started our adoption journey I was desperate to connect with others who were on the same path as us. I read countless blogs from beginning to end, and the authors’ first hand views are what helped me to understand the adoption community and process. Somewhere along the line I discovered the R house blog. Forgive me, I don’t remember exactly how I “met” this blog but I fell in love pretty quickly! Imagine my delight when I discovered that the author had an Etsy shop! I logged on and started “favoriting” items right away.

I also learned that the r house couture is a hand-stamped sterling silver jewelry company that was formed by three amazing women who were brought together because of their involvement in the adoption community, where they remain very active. They specialize in making gifts for situations where it is hard to find the right words. They also have a clothing line AND an all-natural soap and body products line called Spotted Owl Soaps. They’re unstoppable!

Because I’m a big believer in giving praise when it’s due, I’ve decided to do my first giveaway!


To be entered for a chance to win this gorgeous piece (above) from the r house couture, simply comment on this post and/or the post on our new Facebook page. One comment per person on each page will be entered in the drawing. Winner will be randomly selected on Friday, 11/29 – hello Black Friday!

On top of this awesome giveaway, the r house has graciously offered 10% off any item from their shop to Until Forever… readers between now and December 13th (the last day their shop is open for the year – get ‘em while they’re hot!). All you need to do is click the “apply shop coupon code” link at the top right of the checkout screen and enter the code “SIMPLICITY” before submitting your order.

I’m not looking to gain “followers” or “likes” as a result of this post, and I’m not receiving any type of “kickback” on purchases made – I just want to showcase a product that I have been extremely pleased with and the hard work that went into it. Perhaps this piece will bring the same joy to the winner that I’ve had from wearing my necklace.

Comment away and good luck!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Five for Friday


Happy November, everyone! Here are my High Five for Friday:

1)      It’s November, which means its National Adoption Month! I have a few blog posts and Facebook status updates planned for the next few weeks in an effort to do my part to raise awareness about adoption. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time now!



2)      It has been an adoption and new baby filled week for us! I learned a few weeks ago that a co-worker of mine and his wife are also pursuing adoption. They have been on the foster-to-adopt path, and are considering moving to straight adoption instead. They wanted to meet to share our experiences, and hear any advice we had to offer. I never hesitate to accept an invitation like this!

3)      Friends of ours just brought their twins home from the hospital, and we were able to go over and meet them this week! Their boys are so adorable, and it was so sweet being able to cuddle them a little.

4)      Yesterday we made another trip down to see J! It was just a routine checkup, but as I’ve mentioned before we love having the opportunity to see her whenever we can. We ended up going to Applebee’s for dinner afterward, and she was able to have her favorite dessert – a blondie, which looked really delicious! The doctor had no concerns yesterday, and we’ll get to go back down in another three weeks.

5)      Our oldest niece turned 4 yesterday. I can’t believe it! Hopefully tonight I’ll be able to come up with a birthday shirt for her, using my embroidery machine. I can’t wait to celebrate with her on Sunday!

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Life Lately...

I have to admit... I'm kind of disappointed in myself right now.  I feel like there has been so much going on in our lives lately, but if you keep up with us here on the blog we probably seem pretty dull.  There are two reasons for this - 1) We've been very busy with no breaks to write a post and 2) In spite of our "busy-ness" I can't think of what to write.  So here I am, waiting on a load of laundry to finish, forcing myself to provide a much needed update that will probably read more like a check list.  I apologize in advance if this is the case...

So what have we been up to since my last post?

First, I've discovered that invoices are no longer exciting.  Remember how thrilled I was when we received the one that came with a letter informing us that our home study was approved and complete?  Well, we got another one in the mail for the next set of fees (for our match and 1/2 birth mother expense) and I didn't jump for joy.  Don't get me wrong, this invoice indicated MUCH more exciting progress for us but it happened to arrive the same week that the transmission in Nate's car decided to go out.  We faced quite the juggling act trying to figure out how to handle and afford both expenses.  It was definitely more stressful in the moment than it seems now that I'm looking back on it!

I've also learned that the further you get along in the adoption process, the more information you get (at least with the agency we're working with).  In the early days (when getting a bill was exciting) I had a hard time containing myself any time an envelope or e-mail arrived baring the agency's logo.  Now-a-days I look forward to text messages and phone calls, and even the rare face-to-face contact we occasionally have.  It's amazing to me how we have changed and learned so much in such a short amount of time!

One thing that hasn't changed, however is the fact that I prefer to hand deliver any paperwork or payment to our agency.  This is partly why we chose to go with a local agency.  So, when I went to drop off that not-so-exciting payment, I was also able to submit the requested paperwork to amend our home study.  I've mentioned this briefly before, but we need to have a foster care license due to a specific situation we have in our match.  This ended up being way simpler than I had anticipated.  We just had to submit two months proof of income and a copy of each of our utility bills.  The only slight snag we hit was that we needed to name an alternate caregiver, which involved that person having a background check and providing their drivers' license and car insurance.  It could also include the alternate caregiver having a fire and safety inspection done on their home, if the child would be watched there.  We opted to have any babysitting that may be necessary to be done inside our home, so really it was pretty simple.

I do feel guilty having to ask someone to provide their personal information on our behalf, though.  It’s one thing for us to have every aspect of our lives inspected, since we chose this path.  It’s another thing for me to ask that of someone who really had no say in the matter.  I totally understand WHY the information is required, and I know the person we asked didn’t mind, it’s just an inconvenience I wish I didn’t have to put on someone else, I guess…

While I was at the agency dropping off all of paperwork and the check, I was not-so-pleasantly surprised to learn that we also get to pay for any medical attention or prescriptions J receives that are not covered by her insurance.  I was hoping to get a statement showing a $0 balance, but instead saw yet another balance due.  I can’t get too worked up over this since I would be responsible to pay the same expenses if I were the one going through a pregnancy.  Plus it’s not a big deal at all when you consider what this is all for.  It was just another surprise to us, and maybe a heads up to anyone reading who may be considering adoption.

Alright, I think that about covers my feelings on invoices and paperwork – a recurring theme in this adoption.

In mid-September, Nate and I did go on a tour of a local day care.  We were still trying to decide if we can afford for me to stay home once the baby arrives, or if we will need to arrange for child care while we both work.  I’m not going to go too into detail about the facility we toured, mainly because we were both less-than-impressed but don’t want to bad-mouth a local business.  Maybe this particular day care was just not what we were looking for.  Maybe we need to tour a few more, or maybe we shouldn’t have toured at the end of a long day and at dinner time (grumpy kids)… For now we’re still considering other options…

Since my last update, we’ve also been able to attend two more doctor appointments and an unexpected ultrasound.  Doctor appointments are relatively uneventful these days, and for that we are thankful!  J did have to take her glucose challenge the last time we were there, and she was not at all excited.  Luckily she passed, so hopefully she won’t have to drink any more “Glucola.”  Even the name gives me chills, but if I could drink it in her place, I would.

The ultrasound was unexpected, only because we were told at J’s 20 week ultrasound that we probably won’t need any more ultrasounds unless any concerns arise.  At the 20 week appointment there was some slight concern over something the doctor saw on the screen, but said the blood work was normal so she could dismiss the ultrasound, basically.  We see a separate doctor for ultrasounds than we see for normal checkups, so when we went to a normal checkup a week later, I wanted to make sure that both doctors agreed about the ultrasound.  Thankfully they do, but decided to have a follow-up ultrasound just to make sure.  While making the two hour drive three out of four weeks made for a crazy schedule around here, I’m so thankful that we have the opportunity to attend appointments and get to know J more and more.  I’m also very thankful for the follow-up ultrasound, which showed “all clear” as far as what the doctor had been slightly concerned about before.  Hooray!

Our families also organized one last fundraiser for us last weekend.  Nate’s cousin is a Premier Designs consultant (and an excellent one, I might add), and asked Nate’s sister if she would be interested in hosting a jewelry party.  Together they came up with a plan to throw a benefit together with Thirty-One gifts, where the proceeds of any purchases would go toward our adoption fund.  I cannot express my gratitude enough for all of the hard work and thoughtfulness that went into this event.  So many people took time out of their day to prepare food, attend the event, and get some of the Christmas shopping done!  Thank you so much to everyone who participated!!  With your help we were able to raise enough funds to cover half of our expected legal fees!

If anyone was unable to attend or participate in the benefit party, we do still have our Amazon Associates account open.  If you access Amazon using this link, a portion of your sale will be direct deposited into our adoption savings.  It’s totally anonymous and there is no additional cost to you.  Just make sure to start with an empty cart!

The last adoption related update I have to share is that I officially (but not easily) scheduled our hospital tour/pre-registration.  I wasn’t sure if this was something I should do or J should do… J ended up asking if I would mind getting everything scheduled, and of course I didn’t mind!  It was SO awkward, though!  I simply (haha!) explained to the lady on the phone that my husband and I are currently matched with an expectant mom who has chosen us as adoptive parents for her baby due in January.  I have to admit; she was doing her best and kept telling me how exciting this all was.  I did end up on hold about three times, so that she could make sure she was scheduling everything correctly.  In the end it looks like J and Nate are married and I am some random support person, but whatever.  We’re officially scheduled and looking forward to getting some of our hospital-related questions answered!

On the non-adoption related front, we’ve been busy too!  I’m starting to realize that we’re going to have to start saying “no, thank you” to certain things in order to keep our sanity – especially when our weekly appointments begin.  I’m sure it’s just the beginning of how our lives will change as a family of three, and I’m enjoying every minute of it!

Anyway, in September and October we had several things going on.  We attended a wedding for a high school friend of Nate’s.  Nate was able to catch up with some of his friends he hasn’t seen in a long time, and I was able to meet some new people who I only knew by name.  All good things!

We also attended an annual pig roast at a co-worker of Nate’s, which is always a good time.  They have live music and good food, and it’s just the time of year when you can tell summer is coming to an end.  *sigh*

We were actually able to get away for our 5 year anniversary/delayed honeymoon, too!  We thought about cancelling the trip, considering our upcoming adoption expenses, but ultimately decided to go since we probably won’t have another opportunity to get away in a while (and that’s ok)!  I don’t regret taking the trip for one minute!  We didn’t leave the resort (or the pool, really) during our entire stay!  We made some new friends, who we’re emailing back and forth with now and had really delicious food!  We were spoiled… and we enjoyed it!







We were also able to attend a Cleveland Cavalier’s game, shortly after we got back from vacation.  Friends of ours had extra tickets and were kind enough to invite us to go!  It was great getting to catch up with them, and watch a Cavalier victory!

And the last update for this (probably boring by now) post… My sister came down and went to a Hanson concert with me at the Cleveland House of Blues.  Yes… Hanson, as in MMMBop!  I don’t even care if you judge me, we had a blast!  I have loved worshiped Hanson since their band was just starting out (I wonder what ever happened to that 3” binder shrine I had, bursting at the seams, full of Hanson trivia), and the concert did nothing but strengthen my commitment as a fan!!  They put on an amazing show!!

So…  I think that about covers the last two months of my slacking at updates.  I’m sorry for the time lapse, and I promise to try and post more (and better constructed) updates!

We have an exciting month ahead as we prepare for two extra special birthdays (our oldest niece will be 4 and our youngest will be 1), our anniversary, two baby showers, and an event I’ve been looking forward to since we attended last year – First Hand Views of Adoption at our agency.  I cannot wait!  Let’s not forget Nate and I are trying to make sure we’re all up to date on our once-a-year type appointments, still attending our adoption network group when we can, and then moving right on into the holidays.  For a second I thought things would slow down for us, but it seems like that might not happen until January… maybe!

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's a First - Five on Friday Link-Up!

Since I joined the blogging world, I've loved the idea of a Five on Friday linkup.  I haven't felt inspired to post one before now, but that's not to say I didn't have high fives for my previous Fridays!  I'm not committing to posting one of these every Friday just yet.  We'll just see what happens!

I recently discovered the super cute Good Life Blog and thought I would link up with Darci's Five on Friday.

1) THIS work week is finally over.  Normally I wouldn’t include this, but since this is my first Five for Friday I thought it would be okay.  Plus, this has been the absolute craziest work-related week I have had in the past year and a half.  The company I work for has several locations within the same city.  For some reason they like to move departments from place to place.  On Thursday of last week everyone in our building was told that we had to be out by Tuesday, and Monday was a holiday for us.  On top of the short notice, they also don’t have permanent homes for any of the people they “kicked out.”  Needless to say, I am about at my wits end between packing, cleaning, moving my desk and still trying to do my actual job.  SO – I’m thrilled to say so long to this work week!

2) We’re having company. My sister is on her way down from Michigan for a visit at this very moment!  

3) MMMBop!  Tomorrow night at 7:00 my sister and I will be in the crowd at the Cleveland House of Blues belting our hearts out to one of my favorite bands of all time – Hanson!  Yes, they are still around.  Yes, they are still making albums.  Yes, they are even better looking now.  And yes, they still tourIt’s been almost 10 years since I’ve seen them live, but they still have my heart.  I can’t wait!

4) Raising Funds. Nate’s sister is graciously hosting a Premier Designs and Thirty-One Gifts benefit party as a fundraiser for the adoption on Sunday!  Plus, Nate’s cousin is the Premier consultant who will be throwing the bash.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for their efforts to support our adoption, as well as everyone who has already participated or is planning to participate in one of our fundraisers.  I cannot thank you all enough!

5) Sugar Rush.  We attended J’s 26 week checkup with her on Tuesday afternoon.  As always we were excited to see and get to know her more.  Unfortunately she had to do her glucose challenge test, which she was not looking forward to.  We haven’t heard anything back from the doctor, so that means she passed!  No three hour test for her.

High Five!  Feel free to link up, too.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Blue or Pink and Sprinkles on Top

Nate and I reached another adoption milestone at the end of last week.  We attended "the big" ultrasound appointment with J!  We are so grateful that J has invited us to attend her prenatal appointments with her, and realize what a blessing it is. 

Our alarm went off at 5:00 AM on Friday so that we I could get ready and hit the road with enough time to spare in case of traffic.  Luckily we hit no delays, so we were able to get a delicious breakfast at a super cute diner.  Nate was really impressed with his corned beef hash and I had the most delicious cinnamon swirl french toast I've ever had.  With full bellies, we headed over to the hospital to meet J. 

After getting lost and needing an escort through the hospital to figure out where we were supposed to be (this place is huge, people), J got all checked in and we were taken into the ultrasound room.  It was so amazing and a little overwhelming to actually see the baby on a screen.  We could see each movement and each body part from fingers and toes to spine, brain, heart and everything in between.  We could even see blood flowing to different organs!

The doctor was able to call over to J's primary care provider and get the results of the blood work that was done at her last appointment, and we learned the gender of the baby too... We're thrilled to announce that a HEALTHY BABY GIRL is on her way!  Prayers for her to continue healthy development, and prayers for J would be greatly appreciated right now.

After the appointment we were able to have lunch with J again.  We had the chance to talk with her a little more about her family and about baby names.  I think we've narrowed it down and just need to decide on the spelling.  Exciting things!

We were also able to attend an event held by our agency on Sunday.  They had an ice cream social for anyone considering adoption and/or foster care, adoptive families, waiting families and everyone in between.  It was really great!  We started by speaking with the birth mother counselor we've been working with and the director of domestic adoptions at our agency.  That face to face contact is invaluable to me!  A little later we sat in on a breakout session about private infant adoption, and we were actually asked to stand up and speak about how the process has gone for us so far.  I was thrilled!  After we had our sundaes Nate and I ran into the social worker we've been working with on our home study, which was great!  We also had a long conversation with another waiting family and found out that they used to be our neighbors.  Small world!  We traded contact information and hope to keep in touch. 

Even though it was a long weekend and we were both worn out, I'm really glad that we attended this event.  It's just great to spend time with other families involved in adoption.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Call and The Meeting

I wanted to make sure and post what was going on "in the moment" during our match process, so I made sure to write while it was happening.  I wasn't ready to post them until now, but I've dated each post to help provide some order to these exciting events!

Written 8/9/13

Wow!  I just had the craziest half hour of my life to date.  If you keep up with us on the timeline at all, you'll have noticed that we received two potential match opportunities recently - one on 7/26 and one on 7/30.  We heard back from the birth parent counselors on both cases today.  Birth mom "E" did choose another family, but she really liked our profile.  Bummer, we thought.

Birth mom "J" however... wants to meet us and only us!!

I was in the basement all night tonight, working on laundry and yet another draft of our profile book.  I'd already had Nate look it over and was hoping to order a draft copy tonight.  About a half an hour ago, Nate came downstairs, on the phone, while I was folding a load of laundry.  His eyes were huge and he looked excited and scared... He mouthed the birth parent counselor's name to me, and I stopped what I was doing while trying to hear what was going on on the other end of the phone.  She asked us when we would be available to meet "J" and we told her any time!  We'll take the day off work if we need to, just tell us when and where!  She said she would check with "J" and get back to us tomorrow.  Nate and I are pretty sure we're not getting any sleep tonight at this point.

Luckily, the birth parent counselor called us right back and said "J" wants to meet on Sunday morning!!  She gave us a little bit more background, told us what to expect and where to meet.

I don't even know how to describe how I am feeling right now.  We've been praying for this to happen since we decide to adopt in October, and now it's here!  I'm excited and nervous to say the least - my stomach is in knots and I feel like I could cry or jump for joy...  Nate had goosebumps when he got off the phone and he was jogging in place during the call - adrenaline I think!

Of course, there is one possible down side to this entire thing (and I'm paranoid even saying that)... Last night Nate and I booked our first ever big vacation/honeymoon (finally)/5 year anniversary trip.  We are scheduled to spend 7 nights in Cancun at an adults only, all-inclusive resort this Fall.  "J" is due in January and would like us to attend upcoming doctors appointments with her.  She's about an hour and a half away from us, so we'd need time off work to go with her.  We're not sure if we should risk taking our trip, and not having the vacation time should she deliver early... so we have a decision to make.  Thank goodness for vacation insurance and honestly this is the LEAST of our worries!

Here's to hoping and praying!

Written 8/11/13

Our entire adoption journey to date now boils down to an hour and a half spent at Bob Evans this morning. We made the almost 2 hour drive to meet with J and her birth parent counselor to see if we will become parents sooner rather than later.

We set our alarm and work up early so that we would have plenty of time to get ready and hit the road in case of traffic. We made it to our destination and found the address with about 15 minutes to spare. I didn’t want to sit in the parking lot like a creeper, and was hoping that J would arrive before us, so we went to Kohl’s and walked around for a bit. Of course, I browsed the baby section while thinking, “Is this real? Is it OK for me to do this?” I don’t want to jinx anything!

We still arrived at the restaurant first, which I was hoping not to do, and sat down at a table in a far corner. We ordered waters for all of us and waited. After about 10 minutes I texted the birth parent counselor to let her know that we were at the restaurant and where we were sitting. 5 minutes later my phone rang and my heart dropped. I told Nate, “They aren’t coming.”

Luckily, they were just at the wrong Bob Evans! I don’t know why there are so many locations in this city, but talk about giving me a heart attack!

Once we got that sorted out, J and the birth parent counselor headed over and our meeting began. My nerves must have gotten the best of me, because I really don’t remember anything specific about our meeting. We introduced ourselves with the birth parent counselor's help, we ordered our food and we just started talking. The birth parent counselor really guided the conversation, but we made it to each topic pretty naturally. I answered some questions and Nate answered some, we made sure to focus on J while speaking, we asked her some questions and she had a few for us. We also gave her a few new photos of the completed nursery and from our family photo sessions this spring. Overall we thought everything went pretty well considering how nervous we all were.

After about an hour and a half we wrapped things up. J and I hugged and we all got had a photo taken together. We also exchanged phone numbers and planned to keep in touch. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I figured this was a good sign. Before the meeting we were told that it would be surprising if this wasn’t our match, since J only wanted to meet us. But still…

We got in the car and went our separate ways, unsure of what to expect next. Nate and I asked each other, “how do you think it went?” and “what’s next?” and we just drove.

About 15 minutes later the phone rang. It was the birth parent counselor telling us what we’ve been waiting to hear for what seems like forever…

“Congratulations! You’re officially matched!”

We are so, so, so thrilled!

A few minutes after getting of the phone with the birth parent counselor my phone went off again. A text from J containing the first photo of our baby – her 13 week ultrasound. It brought tears to my eyes.

Feeling so blessed.