Friday, October 17, 2014


loving this photo of my nearly 2-year-old niece, Zoey. (I'm slowly learning how to shoot with my Canon 5D Mark III!)

delighting in the colors of the fall leaves. 

enjoying family days spent at two pumpkin patches.

riding a train at Bishop's Pumpkin Farm in the animal car. Noah's favorite part?  Going through the tunnel.

cleaning out our kitchen junk drawer. 

touring an apple orchard in Auburn. 

drinking water...and more water. (After months of trying, I've nearly eliminated all soda from my diet.)

running on the treadmill 2-3 times a week.

considering creating a capsule wardrobe, either this fall or next spring.  

discovering how exhausting and gratifying it can be to care for two toddlers.
singing "Jingle Bells" during bath time last night.  (I know, I know, it's only October.  But I'm already excited for Christmas!)

snapping lots of photos with my iPhone and very few with my big camera. 

reading JoJo Moyes' The Girl You Left Behind. (I read Me Before You first and really enjoyed it.) I'm about 70% in, and I'm curious as to how Ms. Moyes is going to weave together all of the elements of the story as well as produce a satisfying ending.

praying more than I have in a long time. 

planning to spend this Sunday at Apple Hill, continuing on a tradition we started years ago, with our good friends, the Liotines. (Here's a look at past years: 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008.)  

editing photos from our trip to Oregon in July.  Yes, you read that right: July! I'm just a wee bit behind... 

struggling to go to bed any earlier than 11:30 pm most nights.  

looking forward to spending a weekend away with my husband at the end of the month. 

What's {currently} happening with you?

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Bring on the Music

Noah & Teacher Beth
Earlier this month, Noah, Zoey, Brian and I began attending a Music Together class once a week.

Teacher Beth started the first class by giving all of us--parents and grandparents--permission to "let your inner child out." To  hum, dance, march, sing, and play instruments.  To just follow her and do what she does.

She also said, "The kiddos do not have to sit in your lap or stand next to you." I could literally feel the stress being released from my shoulders.

During the session, Noah (32-months-old) and Zoey (22-months-old) did A LOT of observing--watching the teacher, watching the other kids, and watching me.

I sang (I love to sing!) and twirled and threw scarves in the air.  I marched and chugged and shook a tambourine.

One time, I looked over at Noah and he was giving me a look like, What are you doing, Mom? Are you crazy?

Maybe a little. Ha!

For the most part, Noah and Zoey were doing really well.  But then Teacher Beth turned off the lights and a boy whose voice I recognized yelled out, "I DON WANNA TAKE A REST!"

Even though my back was to him and he was a good 20 feet away standing near the door, I knew it was Noah. My child--who really doesn't like going down for a nap right now. 

I smiled.  And chuckled alongside a few of the other parents.

Fast forward to the second week...Noah and Zoey did a little less observing and more participating.

Noah didn't always march when Teacher Beth marched or hum when we hummed. And that's perfectly okay.

Later on that day in the bathtub, he started singing a tune from class ("Hello to [Insert Name], So Glad to See You"). And in the car the following day, he talked about how much fun it was to play Teacher Beth's ukelele.

Oh yes, he's listening.

Oh yes, he's absorbing.

Oh yes, he's digging it.

We can't wait for next week's class.

Bring on the music!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Phone Calls From Our Adoption Attorney

Last week, I shared an adoption update, complete with what I've accomplished and what I still want to do.

But that's only part of the story.

Over the past few months, we've received a number of phone calls from our adoption attorney relaying information about potential birth parents. Initially, this took us by surprise because with our first adoption, there wasn't much activity at the beginning of the process.

While it's been exciting to hear from Jan on a regular basis, it's also been somewhat stressful. 

Here's how the first two calls played out:

1 | I got a frantic phone call from our attorney while I was sitting in the hairdresser's chair getting my hair highlighted. (Awesome timing, right?) A baby girl had been born in Las Vegas and her birth mother had decided to place her for adoption. The birth mother, who is in her 30s, already had a child and knew she couldn't support a second one.

I was surprised. But excited. I kept thinking, Oh my gosh, the baby's here! On this earth. Right now. My heart started pounding. I had a huge smile on my face, but I felt anxious, too.   

Of course, I wanted to say "Yes, yes, heck yes!"

Yes, we want a healthy baby girl. Yes, we know how to get around Las Vegas (that's where Noah was born). Yes, it's fairly close to us--just the next state over--which means we'd have the option to drive, not fly. Yes, because it's highly unlikely the birth mother would change her mind.  (Every adoptive parents' worst fear.)

But we couldn't say yes. See, our profile books had been ordered, but they hadn't arrived yet. We tried desperately to get a PDF file of our book to the adoption agency in Las Vegas before they presented them to the birth mother, but we simply ran out of time.

As disappointing as it was, I knew it wasn't meant to be. She wasn't the one for our family. (I trust that God placed her with a wonderful adoptive family. And that she will have a beautiful life. Truly.)

And getting that call from Jan--as emotionally jarring as it was--spurred me to finally finish our adoption website and order pass along cards.

2 | Two weeks later, Jan contacted us again. This time, there was a birth mother in Indiana expecting twins.

Yes, TWINS! A boy and a girl.  And "oh by the way," Jan says, "She's 35 weeks pregnant and could go into labor at any time."

Whoa! Anytime?! I thought. 

Of course, I was excited. But then the panic set in. What if we were presented and she actually chose us? I couldn't wrap my head around how that was going to work. How was I going to care for three children under the age of three (two of them infants) ALL. BY. MYSELF? For 3+ days at a time?

I remember thinking, BREATHE, Jen, and my body did just that.

Then, I talked to Brian. I thought for sure he'd say, I don't think we're ready to care for two babies. But he was on board. I hadn't anticipated that he would be enthusiastic about it; he still surprises me after all these years!

So, despite my anxiety, I agreed to take a leap of faith. To say, Yes, we'd like to be presented. I trusted that if the birth mother selected us, we would find a way to make it work. I trusted that God wouldn't have presented this opportunity to us if he didn't think we could handle it.  I trusted that it would play out as it should.

Brian scrambled to get a PDF file of our book. (Now that we actually had our profile books, the agency wanted a PDF file, with certain specific requirements. Go figure!)

At the advice of our attorney, I typed up a personal letter to the birth mother, which included our connections to Indiana (primarily Brian's fondness for Notre Dame and our trips to see the football team play) and our level of openness (the type of contact we'd like to have with the birth parents).

Just keeping it real: Noah may have watched two episodes of Jake and the Neverland Pirates that I frantically typed away at the computer.

We emailed the PDF file and letter to our attorney, but then didn't hear anything for weeks.

I figured that the birth mother must have chosen a different family, but I was curious, so I called Jan.  She informed me that the birth mother decided to parent. As Jan said, "She took the babies and the [profile] books home with her."

A part of me was disappointed. But truthfully, another part of me was relieved.
Since then, we've been presented to two other birth mothers, but we haven't been chosen.

Some of you might be wondering, "Don't you get discouraged when you're not chosen?" And the honest answer is yes, a little.

But I know they might not have chosen us because we live too far away or because we already have a son. Or because we have dogs and they don't want their child growing up with dogs. Or maybe because Brian is a Notre Dame fan and they're a die-hard Michigan fan! Just kidding...

In all seriousness, it could be I'm not sweating it.

I remain very hopeful. I know that when the time is right--God's time--it will happen, and a little baby girl will join our family forever.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Adoption Update | Late Summer

As I mentioned in this June blog post,  I'm making a more concerted effort to document the adoption process this time around--not only for me (I enjoy rereading old posts from time-to-time), but also for people who might be interested in learning about how private domestic adoption works.

Here's what I've done since the last update:


  • CREATED AN ADOPTIMIST PROFILE | Recently, our attorney told us about Adoptimist. She said several of her clients have connected with prospective birth parents, thanks to Adoptimist. I created a free profile for now and may upgrade to a paying subscription in the future.   

  • SHARED PASS ALONG CARDS | A big thanks to those of you who have requested cards. I thought we might have one or two people ask...but so far, 15 of you (awesome folks that you are!) have requested cards. Even a few college students are posting them on their campus bulletin boards--thank you, thank you, thank you!
  • PURCHASED A FACEBOOK TIMELINE TEMPLATE | The Facebook timeline, pictured at the top of this post, is available from this Etsy seller. (All photos in the timeline were taken by Mindy Newton of Mindy Newton Photography.)
And here's what I want to do going forward:

  • PREPARE THE NURSERY | I'm fairly certain that we're going to keep all of the existing nursery furniture (crib, rocker, changing table), but I'd like to repaint the walls, change the bedding and drapes, and display some new art. Oh, and hang a few pom poms from the ceiling. I adore them!
  • SHARE | Continue to tell others about our adoption dreams, both in person and online.
  • PRAY | We've been praying for a baby girl since we started the process, but we'll continue to pray and hope and wish and plan (reminds me of that Wishing and Hoping song in "My Best Friend's Wedding") until our daughter joins our family.
I also have a few adoption-related stories to tell you, but I'll save them for a separate post--coming soon!

Friday, September 5, 2014


playing with a new macro band for my iPhone from Photojojo.

eating gobs of fresh fruit--pineapple, peaches, pears.

writing posts for my new Wordpress blog, which I hope to roll out this winter.

running on Thursday mornings (when I am kiddo-less for close to two hours).

discovering that the CR2 (raw) files from my new Canon camera cannot be edited in my current versions of Lightroom and Photoshop.  Enter Adobe Creative Cloud!

laughing at this blog post Brian shared with me.

singing "Let It Go" several times a day. ("Frozen" is Noah's favorite movie right now.)

picnicking several times a week in our local parks.

dancing to Bean's Roller Coaster remix with the littles.

reading The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind and Jo Frost's Toddler Rules.
wondering if Nicholas Sparks will have a new book out this fall. (I hope so!)

feeling grateful for the friendships I've formed through Mountain Moms and Little Folks.

looking forward to CreativeLive's Photo Week 2014, an online event with tons of FREE photography classes, which will be held September 15-20.  

What's {currently} happening in your world?

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