Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Rest of the Story

Brian has been awesome blogging about our adoption journey. I didn't take my laptop to China and those that know me know that typing on an iPhone/iPad is not my strength (autocorrect is not my friend). He recorded the whole trip so well I don't really need to blog about it but I decided that my voice is missing from the story and there are details and emotions that I want to have recorded. I won't be working chronologically but as I see a picture that strikes me or an emotion arises I will post. They won't be long, short and sweet fits better into the rhythm of my days right now, just a photo and some words to try and capture all the big feelings that continue to happen. Last night, during my 1-3:30 jet lag wake time I kept thinking about meeting Piper's nanny.

We were very lucky to have a chance to sit down with Piper's nanny, Rachel. She had prepared notes, discussed Piper's routine, gave us insight into her personality and answered any questions we had. At the end of our meeting I tried to express my thanks without crying but honestly it was just impossible. I had prayed so much that someone was loving on my girl and it was so clear that this woman did.

Rachel and I didn't speak the same language but we both knew a mother's love for the same beautiful little girl. It hurts to know I missed the first 20 months of Piper's life but I am incredibly thankful that she was loved so well by this woman. And while Rachel had the privilege of loving and comforting Piper during some very scary and important times she now had the heaviness of a great loss to bear. How she is strong enough to continue to love children over and over again and then hand them off.....she is stronger than I can even imagine. I told her through my tears that I could tell Piper loved her very much and explained through the translator that we have a photo of her and Piper framed in her room. She and I were both teary when we hugged. Those emotions were only a small foreshadowing to the ones we would feel on the day she put Piper into my arms.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

A Needle in a Haystack

You all know the story of how we decided to adopt, told back here, it's time for an overview of some amazing things God has done since then.  November and December of 2015 Brian and I started to seriously discuss adopting. Once I was fairly certain that we would be moving forward with the adoption I started following various orphan ministries and advocacy pages on Facebook. I sent Brian the picture of a sweet, sweet little lady and he responded with something like, "I love her." I found myself scouring their page for her pictures, we loved her. Her name on the website (although not a name she has ever heard) was Jewel.

Once we selected our agency and started the looooooong process of adoption I sent a quick email inquiring about her. I was told that finding her would be "like finding a needle in a haystack." Although I knew which agency she was in NOW it wasn't her originating agency and the chances of that orphanage being in a partnership with our agency (meaning that they would receive her file) was next to impossible. Even IF by some miracle that out of alllllll the adoption agencies ours just happened to be one partnered with her orphanage (and what are the chances of that?!) that it was very unlikely that the timing would align. We wouldn't be receiving children's files to review until after our dossier was in country and if her file came available before then it would be given to a family that was at the point where they could bring her home, as it should. We weren't even clear what her special need was exactly or if it would align with what we felt we could take on.

We marched on, we got delayed (what felt like FOR-EV-ER) since we were living in Canada as American citizens a whole other government was involved. More government = more delay. I started saving her pictures to my phone, I had a Jewel file full of photos. Apparently photos I "liked" would somehow show up on my own feed sometimes because people I knew would comment asking if she was mine. I didn't respond but in my heart I felt like she was, in my head I tried to protect myself and say it would never happen.

We prayed individually, we prayed together as a family. We prayed for our girl and for all the orphans. We prayed that our little lady would not be scared, that she felt comfortable, that she had someone to give her affection, that she was able to demand the things that she needed, that her doctors would provide the care she needed, that someone would hold her during those scary appointments, that she wasn't alone. God knew I loved Jewel but I prayed that He would prepare us as a family to be ready for whomever He choose for us. I prayed for peace, I knew that His timing was perfect so I prayed that I would feel peace. We worked hard gathering documents, having things notarized, made various appointments that were required, attended training classes, we waited. We waited some more.

Our dossier finally went to China in July, I asked about her file again. They had located her originating orphanage, it was crazy unlikely but her orphanage and our adoption agency were actually partnered! They couldn't guarantee it but they SHOULD receive her file when it became available but they had absolutely no idea when or if that would happen. Then they reminded me (again) to prepare my heart that she may not be mine. Once her file was prepared it would be given to the family that was the best match.

We discussed names. Agreeing on a name is not one of the strengths in our marriage and this time we had three chicklets that had big opinions. We all finally agreed on Piper. We debated between Piper Quinn and Piper Jane. We decided on Piper Jane and I ordered something and had it monogramed. A month later we changed our minds and decided to keep her Chinese name as her middle name. We had seen a lot of Jewel's pictures by now. Jewel was a name they used on social media, it wasn't a name she had ever heard. My sister Lorie was by now equally focused on her and she is quite the internet sleuth. She went back to that very first picture they ever posted of her. The very picture that I sent Brian when we were making that big adoption decision. There was her name. I'm not going to post it here, at least not until we have her in our arms and the papers are signed in country (per our agencies instructions) but I will say I do not have to change her monogram and it was similar enough that I felt even more certain that she was ours.

We got news we were moving. In a way the move was good, it distracted me from all the waiting but it did feel like another speed bump. What if her file became available and we didn't have our update complete? I prayed for peace. We are kind of move experts but I've mentioned before that this move rattled us unlike any move before. That could be a whole other post but I felt like we weren't matched yet because God was giving us time to get our feet under us. I was reassured that His timing was perfect. My kids worlds had just been shaken pretty hard and to bring home a new baby in the midst of all of that would have been hard and unfair. 

As things started to settle I started to search a little more for her pictures. One day I spotted her, her ayi (nanny) was wearing a cardigan with a big H on it, I'm not sure but I felt like it was an H representing Brian's business school. I told myself it was just another sign that she was meant to be ours.

At some point I asked our agency again, her file was still not prepared. I added the photo to the collection on my phone.We day dreamed about our little lady and talked about Piper all the time. Her room was set up, her closet was getting pretty full. We ALL pictured tiny Jewel's sweet little face in all of our day dreams.
She likes cucumbers, this house LOVES cucumbers and pickles.
In November, a year exactly after the start of our process, Jack got sick. He had some kind of weird virus, his eyelid was swollen, he was tired, he had random aches and pains, one evening he threw up. I obviously kept him home from school and then I started to feel sick. Kendall started to show signs of having the virus too. On our wedding anniversary Brian was out of town (for the entire week), I was sick and had two sick kids home from school.
I was being very sloth like on the couch when a number I didn't immediately recognize came up on my phone. I answered and was surprised to hear our social worker, Anna. It honestly didn't even occur to me that she may have a file, I assumed it was a call related to our home study update. She asked how I was and then said she had something that might improve my day. Luckily Kendall and Jack were upstairs, I walked into Piper's room and sat on her bed because if they knew I was on the phone I would be endlessly interrupted.

She told me that she had Jewel's file for us.

I cried.

I can't even remember what I said exactly, I'm not sure how coherent I was. YES, send me the file. 

A year after sending that sweet little ladies photo to Brian. The girl in the photo that helped to start it all. The girl whose photos were saved on even my kids phones, the one we all felt was Piper all along. We were getting her file.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Rug Hunt

We are on the hunt for a new rug in our family room. Finding a rug I like is EASY, finding a rug I like that works with our existing couch and artwork, is made in the size we need (10x14) and doesn't cost a TON is not so easy. I have always been a neutral loving girl but our entire house is neutral and I keep thinking that I want color. I've brought home two very colorful rugs that I've had to return.
The first one I really loved in store and I really loved the IDEA of. Its a patchwork of vintage overdyed rugs and came from a fancy shop in our town. They kindly let me bring it home for a week to try it out. Even though it stretched the budget (ok, it bombed the budget) I was hopeful that we would love it so much it wouldn't matter but it was just overpowering. I was shocked that I didn't love it in our space. 

The second one I ordered online. Again, I loved it online and felt that it would work really well with our existing art. I lived with it for a week or two and just couldn't love it. It's mush more turquoise in person and it didn't fit our style at all.

I'm beginning to think we need to go a more neutral route after all and bring in the fun color and pattern in the throw pillows. The five below are currently on my radar, care to vote on one?

This may be moving up on my list as favorite. Classic, neutral, and a fun nod to ticking which is a print that I've always loved. I really want to add fun patterened pillows and I think this rug will allow it. In the room the background looks light enough but in the small image I worry it is too brown and similar to our couch.

Early on this was a big favorite for me. I still love it but again the background color may be a little dark, with this fun, modern dot I think I could live with the background color. It's on the pricier side but this is easily our most used space and most "seen" space so I think a quality piece would be worth it. (Ignore the pillows on the couch and the weird grey box on the left, these are all screenshots from my moodboard building site).

Maybe this one? The scale of the stripes/couch is wrong, the stripes are actually smaller than shown. I'm not sold on the stripes though.

Another ticking option, again the scale is smaller in real life. This has the lighter background, I kind of like it.

I really love this rug and had originally picked it for a more modern dining room that my husband vetoed (ah-hem). This rug is a tad small for our space or it would be my first choice pick. We have a very shaded lot and our room could easily feel too dark with this in the room. 

As much trouble as the family room rug is causing I have to say the dining room rug I got right on the first try. It came last night and Anthropologie home line did not disappoint. The table has been ordered (we didn't have a dining room in Canada so we're starting from scratch here) and its a great weathered grey color. Still on the hunt for chairs. I plan large wingback arm chairs on each end. 

What do you think, is there a clear winner?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Life According to my iPhone Photos

These last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind, for those that don't follow me on instagram we moved! I've always prided myself in my ability to get us all settled in quickly and smoothly but that didn't happen this time. We closed on our house on the first day of school but I really don't think that's what made this move seem more difficult though, it's just a combination of a lot of different factors but I THINK that things are starting to settle down (I'm hopeful at least).

I haven't taken a ton of pictures but flipping through those that are on my phone are a pretty good indicator of what is filling our days lately.

I got the kids on the bus then hurried back to the house to wait for our boxes. After hotel living we were very excited to see these trucks pull up. 

This house was a custom build originally, and although there are some things that we see and question their design choices on there are many many more fun little details that we love. These little nightlight are one of those things. In the evening they flip on automatically and lead from each of the kids rooms straight to the master bedroom. 

My phone has more screenshots than photos lately. I have had countless meetings with various contractors planning big and small changes that we're making. We are hoping to make our final pool decisions next week and get the plans submitted to the HOA for approval, we are all so anxious to have that completed!

And finally photos that indicate that life is finally starting to look a little more "normal" around here. Last Friday was the first day that we had a TV set up, all the media room, speakers and TV were finally installed. The kids' first choice of family movie was our wedding video (that they had never seen). Their reactions to seeing everyone was pretty funny.
My "littles" get on the bus about an hour before my big girl, we get a little bit of time to just hang out together in the morning.
Kate and Jack had a storybook parade at school, she sent me on a mad dash around the city to put together a Mary Poppins costume.


And finally I got to have a date to a Monster Mash with this smooth mover. 

Monday, May 02, 2016

Motherhood and our Biggest Best News

Lake Louise, Banff
In a way I feel like I've lost my blogging voice, I've started multiple posts that I've tripped over getting the words out and then abandoned in the drafts folder. I've been wanting to start blogging again, yes about the little/unimportant stuff like meal planning and fashion and making a home but also because we have big stuff to talk about. We've discussed when is the right time to announce our big stuff and actually the time that we had decided on isn't here but I feel with Mothers Day approaching that there couldn't be a better time.

Dani's wedding.

Can I just say first that moms in general are awesome and I have been blessed to be surrounded by some of the best. I could compose endless blog posts about my own mom (and I believe I have composed a few already) but she is strong and kind and really just kind of kicks butt at this mom thing having raised eight kids. Then there's my mother-in-law, I know there is a stupid idea that moms and daughters-in-law relationships are supposed to be filled with awkwardness and negative feelings but that's ridiculous and I don't feel it. That woman raised the man that I love and she did an awesome job because he's a good one and she loves my kids so well and I am so thankful for her. My four sisters have been such an awesome example of motherhood to me. Sure I mean watching them raise their kids but also because of our age difference they've all mom'd me at times and while I may have hated it at 6 I love it at 36.
Kendall and one big ol' belly

Momming is what I do, it's my thing. Growing up it's what I wanted to be more than anything (other than that period of time that I wanted to be a turtle but we're not going to talk about how weird that was). It's not always easy and honestly I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always great at it but it is who I am and there is no other thing that I would want to do.

First trip to the mountains this ski season. 
It's always been a goal of mine to love the stage they're in. I don't want to be the mom that weeps on her baby's first day of school (I get it though, I'm not judging those that do) I want to be the mom that is cheering for them, excited that they get to conquer that next thing. We may not have a crib in the house but man my kids have hit this awesome point where they can crack a pretty good joke and they can keep up with us (ok, I'll be honest, they can pass me) on the ski hill. I love each of the stages they're in but I admit I miss chunky thighs and cheeks and dimpled tiny hands grasping my finger. This is my life's work and although we decided after Jack that I would not be carrying any more babies in this body we knew that our hearts have so much room for more to love.

An email I received from Kate

Last spring Brian and I were in Boston for his business school reunion where we attended a lecture about living an extraordinary life. We've had so many conversations since then discussing what we think an extraordinary life looks like, when we're old looking back on our life what will have REALLY mattered and filled us? Those that know us know that Brian and I are a bit different in our personalities: talker vs thinker, creative vs logic driven…but I think it's important to note how we are the same in the ways that matter. Our faith - we love God, who has adopted us despite our flaws and our stubbornness and our selfishness. We also share a love of all things family, our time spent as a family makes our life extraordinary.

Parenting is hard. Yes, hard in the middle of the night wake ups and in that moment before your kid tosses his cookies and you're looking frantically around for something to catch it, all while KNOWING that your hands are all you have. Yes, hard in those ways but honestly those ways are NOTHING compared to the heart lessons that you strive to teach your kids, the constant worry over your own failure and the unceasing prayers that no matter what they grow up knowing Him and knowing your love is there all of the time no matter what. Although it's hard it's what we love and what we want to spend our time doing. So it was the extraordinary life lecture that led us to start more seriously discussing a topic that we have had since the beginning of our marriage.

It is with such great excitement that our family is announcing that we are growing by two sweet little feet. We can not wait to bring our newest sweet little lady home from China! We are adopting and we couldn't be happier.

We started the process before Christmas, we have completed our home study and are currently awaiting our immigration approval. Not a day goes by that we don't talk about her (50+ times) and we are praying for her, for this process and that God prepares us for her. We can hardly stand the wait.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In My Pocket

Is that a creepy title? I'm talking about the Pocket app anyway not my pants pocket 'cause that would just be weird.

It's not uncommon that I come across something on the internet that I want to come back to: an article I like, an image that inspires, list of links I don't have time to explore at that moment, a recipe I want to remember. Pinterest is the obvious solution for the visual images that I want to hang on to but the other stuff, what do you do with it. If I just try to remember to come back it just won't happen. I have three kids and the world's worst memory. In these situations I use the Pocket app. Generally I save to Pocket via my Feedly app (don't worry a Chick's list of Favorite apps is in the works) where there is a little 'pocket' icon that I just tap but you can also save from your browser, twitter, clipboard…then later when the kids are in bed and I'm sitting on the couch exhausted I can pull up the pocket app and browse all the things I had saved.

So what's in my Pocket now? Here's a fun collection for your browsing pleasure.

I pocketed this image, I'm currently on the lookout for cute cooler weather clothes. This outfit was found via Polyvore, a site that I occasionally use to make mood boards. I use mood boards for planning a room or for blogging. Here is a post where I used Polyvore to make a mood board of the Chicklet's Christmas Wish List.

I also saved a 6th Street Design School post giving home tours of two houses. I'm currently wanting to add a lot of color, maybe not as much color as is in this house but I thought that I could possibly use some of the ideas as inspiration.

Actually I don't love a lot of that house, the house that I'm really loving right now is nieniedialogues

The rug! The wall color! The wood plank above the fire place. The crisp white woodwork, sigh.

This is what I want, a bunch of fun colored pillows!

Also from her blog I pocketed this recipe. Which we tried and loved although we had a bit of a mixup as to what a "cube" of butter was. Turns out its a stick. In our confusion we added WAY less than called for but I would still totally recommend.

Speaking of recipes I also pocketed this from Life in Grace. We haven't made this one yet but yum.

I loved this photo on Apartment Therapy's post on displaying kids' artwork.

There are always a few tutorials in my pocket of things I want to make. HowAbout Orange has a tutorial for a cute wallet.

I also saved a link for this duffel pattern.

I'll leave you with one last picture, pocketed from Ali Edwards blog because other peoples work/create spaces always inspire me

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

The Good

We went to the Folk Music Festival in town last weekend where the kindness of the Canadians was shown to us yet again. We drove down there with the kids thinking it was just a come and go, walk around festival but were shocked to see the admission booth and the price of $70 per ticket! It was late in the day and the festival was only going to last a couple more hours so ultimately we decided that we wouldn't get our money's worth and turned to go. A nice man chased us down to let us know that someone had donated tickets and asked if we would like to have them. I felt guilty for taking them, surely there was someone that had a greater need than us. This man was working the ticket booth and for some reason had chosen us to receive the tickets and we were surprised but grateful and it was such a nice break after being in the house all week.

The food trucks were all cool, lots of gluten free, local, healthy options. Recycling bins everywhere and instead of packaging and paper plates you "rented" a ceramic plate for $2 to use and then got some (or all?) of your money back when you returned it. Multiple stages were spread around and a cool kids area with balls, stilts, hula hoops….and a "town" made out of boxes and tons of paint for the kids to decorate. Kendall did surprisingly well with the stilts after a few attempts and some demonstrations by mom, ahem (sorry no pictures).

Afterwards we walked over to a local restaurant for a fun dinner.

The Bad and Ugly

Why? Why must the speed limit be SO slow?!? On my mental list of blog posts I plan to write is a post about what I've found to be different or interesting in Canada so far. One of those things is the always slow speed limit. It is seriously slow. Mostly people follow it too. And if a pedestrian steps up to the crosswalk everyone slams on the breaks. It's slow people. Early on Brian mentioned that we would have to be super cautious since it's not what we're used to. 

So today after taking all three kids to TWO different stores in areas of town that I'm totally unfamiliar with I was super frustrated to find that neither had lawn mowers. Cause, you know, taking three kids shopping for lawn mowers is super fun. I pulled out the GPS and programed and I set off. The kids weren't fighting (even though our car isn't here and they are currently in a rental all three sitting in the backseat elbow to elbow, knee to knee which never makes for an enjoyable ride. For anyone.) I don't even think the radio was on so I wasn't distracted, my phone was in the cup holder and I don't mean my hand. I was going 70 kph which is only 40 MILES PER HOUR on a regular street with traffic lights, not a neighborhood or residential street. When out of nowhere a man….a man in a police uniform stepped into the street, pointed at me and motioned me over. I am 34 years old. I have never gotten a ticket of any kind. I have been in one small fender bender with my best friend but that hardly even counts, right Jennie?!? Anyway, I'm an excellent driver no matter what Jennie or her Lexus bumper tells you. The officer was completely nice, asked if I was in a rental or was it just stolen (huh huh huh, you're a funny one). Welcome to Canada, here's your yellow slip of paper, give us some money. The stupid speed limit was 50 kph which translates to about 20 mph. Have you ever driven 20 mph? I think it requires you keep your foot on the brake. Anyway, it was bad. And ugly.