Varied Interests

Reading thru past blog posts, it is very clear that I have three primary interests . . . . .

Children/Family

Travel

Gardening

I lump children and family together, but could also add adoption and foster care into this group.  Adoption brought Lili and Naomi into my life.  They are my children and therefore my family.  Foster care has also been a big part of my life and the children who have come into my life because of foster care are very important to me.  Hubby, my children, extended family, foster children and friends who I consider family are so very important in my life.

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Travel!  I adore travel and everything about it from planning to new experiences.  Without travel, I feel like something is missing in my life.

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Gardening is my hobby.  I am in my happy place when my hands are in the soil.  I enjoy the planting a seed and get excited when I see the first signs of life emerge thru the soil.  Picking my first ripe fruit or vegetable gives me a thrill.  Seeing bumblebees and butterflies fly from flower to flower puts a smile on my face.  I get excited about exploring and trying new gardening techniques or growing something for the first time.

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(It was windy when I took this picture.)

What are your interests?

 

 

Anniversary Week

It was 9 years ago on this day, March 20th, that we anxiously sat in the lobby area of our Guatemala hotel awaiting the arrival of Lili’s foster family.  It was this day that they very tearfully handed Lili over to us – her forever family.

Two years later, on March 16th, we drove thru the orphanage gates with Naomi in our arms.  A very different experience from the one two years earlier.  Another baby girl placed in the arms of her forever family.

Lili is now 9 years old and Naomi is 7.  Hubby and I feel so very grateful that these two beautiful little girls call us daddy and mommy.

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These pictures capture the smiles of two beautiful little girls, each with very different personalities.

Lili loves art, reading, swimming and her dog Jagger.

Naomi loves watching movies, playing with her toys, dressing up and her acting class.

However, they are so much more than art and movies.  Having them join our family are two of the very best decision we’ve ever made.

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day, Not Always a Day of Celebration

Today is the day we honor our mothers.  It’s a day set aside for moms to laugh, to smile, to enjoy being treated to a nice meal not prepared by a mother’s hands.  For some though, it’s a day of mourning.  It’s a day of looking around the table and feeling sorrow for the empty seat that was once occupied by a loving son or daughter.  For some, it’s sorrow for a womb that has remained empty.  A void, a longing for a child.  For some, it’s sadness for the child a mother was unable to raise herself.  For some, it’s the grieving of a mother that is gone or a mother estranged from the family.

I understand the importance of Mother’s Day, especially to my children.  A day for them to give me gifts and to treat me to lunch (with daddy’s help).  A day of learning to better appreciate me as their mother.  At the same time, this day is a day of real sadness in my home.

Today I think of one mother in Guatemala and one in Ethiopia.  Mothers, who every day think of the daughters they were unable to raise.  I think of these women every day, especially today.

-Jody Landers #Adoption

I also think of the mother of our foster sons.  Her life isn’t something I understand, but I do believe she is probably missing her boys today.

Today I feel the loss of my youngest son more than usual.  The last time I saw him alive was Mother’s Day.  It was May 9, 2010.  The next day he was gone.  For me, this is much more the anniversary of his death than it is Mother’s Day.  It’s not a day I want to celebrate.

If, for whatever reason, you are not celebrating Mother’s Day today, please know you are not alone.

"A mother's grief and mourning knows NO end, her love---NO boundaries." ~TeriAnn Sargent / "Every Angel Parent can face the ultimate tragedy and survive. It's the day-to-day living, after the fact, that will bring you to your knees." ~ B. J. Karrer of Grieving Mothers/FB [Click here - http://mothergrievinglossofchild.blogspot.com/2014/05/thursdays-therapy-surviving-mothers-day.html ] Mother Grieving Loss of Child - Thursday's Therapy - Surviving Mother's Day

 

 

 

 

NEWS – Turning a Corner

NEWS!  In this case is stands for North, East, West, South.  Direction!  It’s something I’m struggling with lately in regards to my blog.

I’m in a rut and I feel a bit lost on which direction I should take my blog.  I want it to be in a place that makes me happy, because ultimately I need to be happy with my blog and I’m not there right now.

When I started writing almost 8 years ago, it seemed so simple.

Hubby and I were on a very big adventure.  We were adopting and there was so much to write about. I wanted to share all the pictures of this beautiful baby girl that we were bringing into our lives, our home and our family.  I wanted to share the ups and downs of adoption.  I wanted to document the journey and have something that our daughter could take with her thru life.

From the beginning

 

Adoption #2 was a different experience, yet I still had much to share, but I also had a lot of things happening here at home.  Lili was growing quickly which gave me lots of stories to share along the way.  The blog turned a corner and I was not just documenting our adoption journey, but was documenting our life as a growing family.

Starting again!

 

After bringing Naomi home, we were adjusting to life with one more when tragedy struck and we lost our youngest son.  I was grieving my son while also feeling happiness that I now had two beautiful little girls in my life.  It’s was a STRUGGLE!!!!!  I had to be strong for my girls at a time when I didn’t feel strong.  I had to do everything I could to help them feel safe and secure when I felt my world had just fallen apart.  As a result, the blog turned another corner.

Our life moved forward.  The girls continued to grow.  I took on the challenge of becoming a homeschool mom.  Hubby and I made a decision to significantly change direction in life hoping to leave our life here and settle on a small farm somewhere.  Then life changed direction on us causing us to put farming on habitual hold.  We also opened our home to foster children again, accepting two little boys into our lives.  Then most recently we decided to get back into camping.  No tent camping this time around.  We’ll take our second home on the road as soon as our RV, Georgette (a name I just now decided to throw into the ring of possibilities) arrives.  And once again I feel my blog turning a corner.

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So many things have happened in our lives over the last 8 years.  Big things which gave me lots of material to blog about.   And somehow, even with 4 kids under the age of 8 living under this roof, I feel a little lost.  No big life events happening, just the day-to-day stuff that keeps me busy.

My blog is turning a corner.  I don’t know if I’ll take it to the north, east, west or south, but I need to find a direction that makes the most sense and write about those things that matter to me and my family.

Hopefully, one day I won’t ponder this so much and will instead sit down at the keyboard and have the words that describe this crazy life of ours with lots of pictures to share.  I think that’s what my girls will want to one day look back on.

 

DNA Testing (Cont.)

We have already received the results of the girls DNA testing.

Sadly, we didn’t get a lot of DNA matches for Naomi, but the one we did get was quite surprising and exciting.

As many of you know, Naomi is from Ethiopia.  Our niece and her husband also have a child from Ethiopia who is 5 months younger than Naomi and they had his DNA testing done thru the same company.  We discovered that not only are they cousins via adoption, but they are also cousins via DNA.  Distant cousins, but cousins none-the-less.

Lili, on the other hand has many, many matches.  We have found several 3rd, 4th and 5th cousins who are also adoptees from Guatemala.  We’ll actually be spending time with some of them this summer and they’ll now have a connection via biology as well as adoption.

These matches can only be made if those who have matching DNA have also been tested.  As others test, we’ll be notified of matches.  Who knows what long-lost relatives we might find 🙂

DNA Testing

For the last 2-3 years, I’ve been interested in having some DNA testing done on the girls.  There were a couple reasons for wanting the testing.

First of all, we don’t have a tremendous amount of family history on either of them.  For a matter-of-fact, we have 0 family history on one of them.  I thought testing DNA would be a good way to get information on potential health risk factors.

The second reason is the possibility of finding biological family members.

I know many adoptive families who went thru a company called 23andMe and spoke highly of their experience.  Several found cousins and I know of some who actually found the biological sibling(s) of their adopted child(ren).  Obviously, you can only find these bio family members if they have been tested thru 23andMe, but with a large number of adoptive families having their kids tested, it’s possible one or both of my girls have bio family members who have also been adopted.  Those are important connections for an adoptee.

After all this time, I finally ordered the DNA testing kits for each of the girls a few weeks ago.  The testing is done on saliva, so I had each of them spit in their test tubes and we shipped them back to 23andMe and began waiting.

Unfortunately, the FDA stepped in and decided they needed to be involved in a regulatory review process.  So at this time we are unable to get any health information.

What we will get is ancestry information and any DNA matches that are in the 23andMe database.

Today we received some general history regarding each girl’s ancestry, which is fascinating, but we won’t have all the information for a couple more weeks.

For now, let me just say that “Science is AWESOME!!”

6 Years Ago

It was six years ago today that this little girl legally became our daughter.

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I had often heard that adoption is not for the faint of heart and that was proven to be true for us.   We had gone to visit her.  We held her in our arms.  We watched her play and watched her sleep.  We fed her, bathed her, changed her diapers and rocked her to sleep.  In our hearts, she was our daughter.  She was already part of our family.

Then Guatemala shut down adoptions and no one knew for sure if the adoptions currently in process would move thru or not.  Two months later  I received word that our adoption had been finalized and the tears began to flow.  The little girl we already knew as our daughter was now legally ours.

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Five weeks later we traveled to Guatemala to bring her home.  It was a whirlwind of emotions and our lives have forever been changed in amazing ways because Liliana is our little girl.

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Lili loves animals.  She has a Papillion she named Jagger and hopes to have sheep and horses on our little homestead one day.

DSC_1327Even though she hasn’t always been with us, it’s difficult to even remember life without her in it.

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We love you Lili, our little Guatemala princess!!!

**I took these pictures today.  Lili has been sick for just over a week now and is finally getting over bronchitis and a sinus infection.  She still looks a little under the weather in some of the photos and yet her beauty still shines through.

4 Years

It was 4 years ago today that we received these pictures.

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A tiny baby girl in need of a family and we were being asked to be her family.

We had expected to wait another 1-2 months, so opening my email on November 11, 2009 came as a big surprise.

Of course we said yes and 4 years later this is the beauty we see today.

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That little baby has turned our lives upside down in wonderful ways.

Happy Naomiversary to our spunky, outspoken, beautiful, funny, silly, happy, smart, creative, and inspiring little girl!!!

 

Home Again

Sorry for the long delay in getting information out to everyone, but I was too busy enjoying Lili to do any blogging in Guatemala and have been very busy (and tired), since getting home in the wee morning hours Friday. Now I’m going to do my best to fill you in on our trip and get some photos posted.

First of all, we knew how precious Lili was from her pictures, but had no idea how much more precious she would be in person. She is beautiful and has the best personality. I don’t think we could have hand picked a better fit for our family. She is so happy and is one busy little girl who enjoys being on the go. Her idea of a good time was ‘not’ sitting in the hotel room with mommy and daddy for hours on end, so we spent a fair amount of time walking around the hotel, sitting by (or in) the pool, or hanging out in the kid’s room at the Westin. It was one of the most amazing 5 days of my life and I miss her so much, but know she is being loved and well cared for by her foster family.

Speaking of her foster family, we did get to spend some time with them on this visit as well. Her foster mom, Sheny, is amazing. I have no doubt she loves Lili as much as we do, even though she knows that she will one day have to hand her to us forever. She is a strong and beautiful woman who has my utmost love and respect.

We also got to spend time with Sheny’s children. They are wonderful as well and it is very obvious how much they also love Lili. She is a little sister to them and I know it is going to be very hard for them to say good-bye. Dave and I will do our very best to make sure Lili continues to be part of their lives, even though it may be primarily through emails, letters, and photos.

During our trip we were able to finally meet some email friends. Here’s a shout out to Josh and Nicole as well as to Greg and Cammie. They are also adopting very precious babies and it’s nice being able to share our journey’s together.

I’ll post more information about our trip over the next few days, but wanted to get some pictures posted as I’m sure that’s what you have all been waiting for.

Mommy sure does love her baby girl!!!!

So does daddy!

What a cutie!

Keeping watching for additional trip information and photos.