March 31, 2011

Exciting!

Head on over to our Adoption Blog--The last couple of posts will update you on our process! We're very excited!


Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  

Happy Birthday, Budley!

Today is my "little" brother's 19th birthday!


I remember when Will was born like it was yesterday. We were living in Oklahoma, and I was 6 (almost 7) years old. I was going through a phase where I would come sleep with my parents in the middle of the night. I came downstairs as usual, but when I walked into my parents' room, I noticed something was different. My parents weren't in their bed, but someone else was! I started going through my roster of possibilities: "Nana?" "Poppy?"...... Then I heard, "Ashley, it's Miss Linda. Your parents have gone to the hospital to have your little brother, and your grandparents are on their way!" (Miss Linda was our across-the-street neighbor friend.)

Well, the next morning we arrived with my grandparents at the hospital, and we got to meet the cutest, chubbiest, happiest baby--William Dwight! Alyssa and I instantly loved him and thought he was just adorable. We have pictures of me and Alyssa pushing Will up and down the hospital halls in this really pretty pram (it was the hospital's....apparently hospitals have cut prams out of their budgets since then).

In the 19 years I've known and loved my brother, I can honestly say I've laughed the whole time. He is absolutely the funniest person, and what's FUNNIER is that it comes so naturally for him to be funny. He is able to tell stories about school, church, or our family and have us just rolling.

My brother is a great athlete, and he is also well-loved by his classmates. He entered into a new high school when my family moved back here to Missouri, and it has been proven over and over that he is well-liked by everyone. He recently won "Big Man on Campus" (blog post to come) and is now nominated for Prom King. I'm most proud of these things because my brother has a zero-alcohol policy and doesn't engage in the party scene. He's well-liked simply because he's HIMSELF.


 
The sweetest thing has been watching my brother with Evy. He adores her, and she adores him. It's the most special thing to watch.



Will, we love you so much and can't wait to see what God does through you! As you head to Liberty and study to become a worship pastor, we will miss you SO MUCH. However, you are so well equipped for this journey. Happy Birthday!

Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  

March 29, 2011

Part of Your World

 I was practicing piano tonight while Kurt was brushing Evy's teeth before bed. She came in (as she always does) and started requesting her favorite songs. I read music and play by ear, so I can usually always play what she asks of me. :) She started singing Part of Your World and Kurt ran to get the camera--it was so cute and a moment I know we'll LOVE to watch years from now.

Disclaimers:
-PARDON my appearance! Totally comfy (read: unflattering) clothes and makeup definitely not fresh.
-I think my voice sounds weird. When I'm singing for real, it's more consistent.
-Notice Evy is wearing her Ariel pajamas. This was not planned. :)
-The room we're in is Liam's future room, for those wondering. It's upstairs along with the rest of the bedrooms and is just a spare for right now.

Please pause my regular playlist and watch the most adorable little mermaid you'll ever see!




Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  

March 28, 2011

For US.

Note: This post was not written out of anger, or even extreme hurt. It really is just an outpouring of my thoughts on a few topics that seem related, in my opinion. Don't misunderstand this post as more dramatic than it was intended; I simply want to document all the sides of what I'm feeling/experiencing during our adoption process. I know I've loved reading other adoptive moms' transparent thoughts. Also, this is not a justification for naming our son! I really did just want to share the ins and outs of our decision--again, simply to let others share in our experience and talk about this issue. Kurt and I are confident that we're doing what the Lord has asked of us, and it goes without saying that we are thrilled to bring Liam into our family! We are just as excited about his adoption as we were about Evy's birth! Our children are our children--period!

I'm just going to dive right in and address the issue at hand. This is a long post, so you've been warned.

Our son was given a name by his birth mother on July 1, 2010 (when he was born). We have decided to give him a new name once he is adopted into our family.

While this sentence might seem simple, in some ways it's complex. It's simple because babies are named every day. Mothers name their children. It's complex because our son was born of one mother and will be raised by another.

I'm going to be very honest and forthcoming in this post. The adoption world is just one more arena where mothers criticize each other's parenting choices. It's no different than the parenting wars that go on in pregnancy land regarding breastfeeding vs. formula, cloth diapering vs. disposables, medicated childbirth vs. non-medicated. And ON AND ON AND ON.

However, you'll notice that in the above list of Mother Wars, I didn't list the issue of naming your baby. I've never seen a mother leave a comment on another mother's blog (or on a forum, or on facebook), and criticize the choice of baby name. It never happens. Even if you hate someone's choice of baby name, you'll either not say anything or come up with a neutral, kind statement, i.e. "How creative!"

In the adoption world, some of the other issues are taken away, but in typical fashion, mothers find NEW ways to cast judgment. Changing an adopted child's name can be the topic of much controversy, and Kurt and I are well aware of this.

When we decided to adopt, I saw people naming their adopted kids all sorts of names. Some kept the birth-given name, others gave completely Americanized names, and some made some sort of compromise between the two ends of the spectrum. I knew that when we received our child's referral, I would just know what to do about the name. And that's exactly what happened when we looked at our son's picture.

I had to mull over it for a day or so, and Kurt and I discussed several different options, but we never felt right about including his birth name. Here's why:

-Do we want our son to know and appreciate his heritage? Of course. Do we have to keep his birth name to do this? No. When you think of what our son's heritage in Korea really is, it's very emotionally turbulent. Yes, his birth mother loved him and gave him life (praise God!), and made the ultimate sacrifice of love when she placed him for adoption. However, feelings of abandonment could very well be in our son's heart when we talk about his beginnings. He could very well view his Korean heritage as a very sad thing initially (when he's old enough to really grasp his history). Naturally, we always speak lovingly and respectfully of his birth country and his birth mother! We will have very open and positive conversations about the beginning of his life. But keeping his birth name could potentially make him feel like he's constantly straddling two worlds.

-Spiritually, when we become members of God's family (accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior), we are adopted into God's family and given a new name in Christ. We are new creations in Him; completely new people (2 Corinthians 5:17). We decided to name our little boy William "Liam" Mark Lancaster, after many significant people in our family:
  • William is after my great-grandfather (on my mom's side), my dad's father, and my brother. It's also after Kurt's grandfather (on his mother's side). All of these men are so incredibly special to us, and we love honoring them in this way.
  • Mark is my father's name. I'm very close to my dad, and so is Kurt. This will be the first child to ever be named after him, and there's no more deserving a person. Aside from his integrity and character, he was preaching a sermon series on obedience called "YES" when we decided to adopt internationally. It was a very significant time for us and my dad's sermons through that time were instrumental in our adoption journey.
We want Liam to feel special, and to identify with these men in our family. We want him to know that he's just like any biological son we would have, in that these names are given to him.

-Liam will have at least one sibling (Evy Kate) that does not have a Korean name and he will most likely have at least one more biological sibling that doesn't have a Korean name. We want to make Liam's presence in our family as seamless as possible in that there aren't unnecessary hurdles he has to jump emotionally.

Where am I going with all of this? Well first of all, I don't feel like I have to explain myself or justify our decision. However, I know that many people are curious about this element of adoption and how we came to this decision. That's why I'm sharing all of this, but at the root of this are some issues that I feel need to be addressed, and that's two tiny words: "For us."

I would say that most every parenting decision we all make can be boiled down to the phrase "This was best for us." It seems elementary, but for real, peeps. We really need to stop making blanket statements about parenting, whether it be about pregnancy or adoption. We're ALL guilty of saying, or at least thinking, that another mother is in the wrong at some point or another.

Here's what has really hit home for me recently. Even if you research until you're blue in the face and educate yourself until your eyes are blurry, you can't take away the context of your history, how you live, and how your experiences have been. You can't take away the human element that affects decision-making. I'm usually not PC in making statements like "You do what works for you," when it comes to faith-based discussions, moral discussions, etc. But parenting is the arena in which I think you really can (and SHOULD) say "You do what works for YOU." Because you know what? I don't know the personal elements that go into your decision-making, and you don't know mine. In light of what we've talked about in the paragraphs above, you don't know all of Liam's history. You don't know his birth situation and the circumstances surrounding his parentage. So if we feel like we need to change his name, we're going to. Period.

Disclaimers: If someone asks me RESPECTFULLY and without malice about a decision we've made, that's swell and I'll answer to that. But I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to being attacked for my parenting decisions and being talked to in a condescending manner. I'm not allowing that on my blog, kids. Also, if you're an adoptive parent and you kept your child's birth name, this is NOT an attack against you! I've simply outlined our way of thinking about this based on our son's history and other elements that will be kept private. Your situation is unique to your family.

I promise I won't have any more long, rambling, hardcore posts--haha! I just really needed to put it out there that I'm sick of the battle zone. Apparently neither pregnancy or adoption is safe--ha! I really, really don't mind answering adoption questions---in fact, I LOVE it!---but people who are looking for a debate need to go elsewhere. I've been guilty of thinking/saying/typing things that could come across as arrogant or being critical of another mother, and all of this has really reminded me that as mothers, we're on the same team. We're just loving our kids passionately, and that is lived out in different ways.

At the end of the day, we're doing what works for us!

Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  

March 24, 2011

Quick Hello

I have several good posts coming up about what we've been up to lately, and I plan on posting them soon! In the meantime, you can read this post over at our adoption blog to kind of fill you in on where we are in the process and some recent thoughts.

Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  

The Genius of Nick Pitera

Go ahead and pause my regular music play list. Trust me. 

So my friend Anne just introduced me to the genius that is Nick Pitera. He became famous by singing the duet "A Whole New World" by himself (both male and female parts) on YouTube:



....And he has now taken it to a whole new LEVEL with this video:



You're welcome.


Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  

March 22, 2011

Meeska, Mooska, Mouseketeer---Evy's 2nd Birthday is Here! (Part Two)

To wrap up Evy's birthday celebrations, we had a family party on Saturday, February 12. It was so much fun, even though the birthday girl was on her way to being the sickest she's ever been. :( Thankfully we had family there to LOVE on her and we were still able to celebrate. I'm so glad I can hear my happy, HEALTHY, baby girl singing in her crib right now as I type this! :) Here are scenes from the party:

The decorations. The balloons and banner are from Etsy!

The table! I LOVE how it turned out!

The AMAZING cookie cake from Sam's. It's double-layered (with frosting in between the layers). Tastes gourmet and cost $14!

Cupcakes also from Sam's (30 cupcakes for $12), on the cupcake stand I borrowed from my friend Sarah.

Centerpiece I made from styrofoam balls, a flower pot, and wooden dowels. Easiest thing I've ever made but it looks perfect on the table!



You can tell the birthday girl was NOT feeling well. By that night, she was extremely sick :( Thankfully she had plenty of love loves from her family!

Presents!

Just one of the many cute gifts we opened: an anthropologie sweater from Aunt Kay Kay!

She was most obsessed with her cards. Especially musical/pop-up ones. She keeps them in a box my mom gave her. It makes sense, because everyone got her cards with her favorite things: Barbie, Barney, Mickey and Minnie, and most importantly, the "PEENCESSES" (Princesses).

Dollhouse from Mommy and Daddy! (Bought on Zulily.com for 70% off!)

So much family fun!



Me and the sibs.

This is my fam. :)

Evy, sporting Audrey Heburn chic (all black), had a tiny bright spot before she got really sick that night. :( Her Disney friends helped her feel better!


Our beautiful girl.

Evs decided to get comfy after a day of being the center of attention and take it easy. New beanbag, blanket, Bun Bun, and Disney friends.

Life is good!



Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  

March 21, 2011

National Risk Day: OUR NEW DINING ROOM!

 The Nester has named this day "National Risk Day." She's been talking recently about taking design risks, and I have the perfect room to highlight: our dining room!

When we moved in, the dining room was a dark brown color. I didn't like the color, the light fixture, or really anything.



We bought this table in Dallas, and I added in some accessories like drapes that PERFECTLY coordinated with the table. I knew this room was missing something. I knew it needed change, but I couldn't put my finger on it. It doesn't show in pictures, but the brown walls were making the room very dark, and the table (which I wanted to be a focal point) was just blending in. I literally had to live in this house for 11 months before it hit me.......
Note: I did like the room when it looked like this (table dressed, a few good accessories....but in person the walls were just so dark and the wrong shade. The above picture looks pretty good, but in person it didn't work.

WALLPAPER! 


This room needed wallpaper! I knew it needed to be something that would make all the neutral shades in my house make sense together. I needed pattern. I wanted something different but still in my traditional style.

But I was TERRIFIED.

I literally couldn't believe it when I went to the store to look at wallpaper. (Sidenote: this all happened before our adoption proceedings began; I just didn't blog about it. So I wasn't going on a shopping spree while trying to raise adoption funds!) I flipped through book after book, with fabric swatches in hand, when---BOOM! I found it! It blends the blue/purpley/gray/taupe tones of my table with the other shades of neutral and cream in my house. It's the perfect touch of British cottage and I LOVE IT.

Cue the Bennett family.

You might hate it, but I LOVE IT.

The room is incredibly far from finished (it never will be--I'm always changing things), and I'm constantly tweaking. But I'm telling you, when sunlight streams through those windows a certain way, I feel like I'm in the middle of Pride and Prejudice. I consider that a success.

My mother and law and I hung the wallpaper this weekend, and I loved it more and more as each piece went up. Ironically, this paper was the least expensive one I saw, and it was the only one I loved.

Now the furniture and drapes POP but it's not loud and garish.


Other sidenotes: The rest of my matching chairs are still in Dallas and we'll be getting them this summer. I found the light fixture at my favorite local antique/craft place. It was a steal, and they even spray painted it for me!



Pardon my lack of Goo Gone on my apothecary jars. This is real life.

Yummy drapes, handmade by my mother in law!


The best part? There's a pretty gold color in the paper that makes the perfect backdrop for this beautiful picture of the most adorable little girl in the world. :)


My huge design risk (floral wallpaper!) = SUCCESS!!!

Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  

March 18, 2011

We Joyfully Introduce You To.....




Liam, our gift from God! We love you, sweet boy, and we are coming to get you SOON!


For you are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do. 
Ephesians 2:10


March 15, 2011

MAJOR ADOPTION MODE!

I feel like I say this every time I post, but it has been CRAZY AROUND HERE. We have been swimming in acceptance paperwork (no joke, there's really a TON OF IT) and getting everything notarized, making copies, and triple checking everything. I overnighted everything to our agency yesterday, and I'm in shock because apparently if everything is correct, the documents will got to Korea on FRIDAY!!!!! They initially told us that our paperwork can't go to Korea until the entire $22,000 in fees are paid in full (as in, we got an invoice for $22,000 all at once). You pay some significant fees upfront (application fee, homestudy fee, etc.), but then this is where the giant payment comes into play. I'm only writing this because I didn't know this was how it worked when we started the process, and it might be beneficial to others. HOWEVER---I do not want this to scare people away from adopting!!!! We have lots of good fundraisers going on right now, we're making adjustments, and we found out that our tax return money will pay for a good portion of the fees! God provides, and when He calls you to do something (you feel that nudge, you know you should do it, He speaks to you through something, etc.), He will equip you to do it in every way.

Needless to say, we were so pleasantly surprised when the Holt worker told us that our documents would go on to Korea on Friday (assuming everything is correct)!!! Of course we will still stay busy fundraising! Right now it's looking like families are waiting a full 6 months for travel clearance, which would put us traveling at the very end of the summer or early fall. WOW. Please be praying that everything goes smoothly with our paperwork being processed. Also, it's confusing because in some stages of the process, it's necessary to really call and check up on things and make sure different places are processing correctly. I need to figure out who to call and when.

Finally, I'm getting a few small things together to send in a care package for Liam! I'm so excited. I'll show you pictures soon! This is important: do any of you speak/write Korean or know someone personally who does? I'd love to include a letter with the package, but I really want to make sure it's translated correctly and as closely as possible. If anyone can help me with that, I'd appreciate it!

I'll keep you posted on everything. Oh, and if you're on Facebook---PLEASE "Like" our adoption page to help spread the word about fundraisers, etc. It's really the best way to make lots of people aware about sales going on. As a bonus--you'll get to see a sneak peek of Liam's picture! I still have to cover his adorable face, but that should change hopefully soon!

Have a great rest of the week.

Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  Also, there's a great sale benefiting our adoption that's ending SOON! Check it out for all things personalized, monogrammed, and adorable!

March 13, 2011

Meeska, Mooska, Mouseketeer--Evy's 2nd Birthday is Here! (Part One)

I'm FINALLY getting the pictures up of Evy's birthday celebrations! Since her birthday fell mid-week on a Wednesday, the actual DAY was low-key and normal. We continued the rest of the week and into that weekend celebrating our sweet girl!

The day of Evy's birthday, we met Papa and Gigi at Cracker Barrel!
So, so cute :)
With our beautiful 2-year-old girl!
On the way home from brunch, we stopped to get Evy birthday balloons. She fell in LOVE with the Mickey and Minnie ones!
That night, my family brought over a little birthday gift (the rest were coming later). STICKERS!!! Princesses! PRINCESS STICKERS!!!!
Opening a gift sent from my dad's sister and her family. Thank you, Aunt Karen and Uncle Mike!
Of course we had to blow out a candle on the ACTUAL birthday.
The next day, we had a small playdate party for Evy's birthday.
The table! I made the centerpiece (just styrofoam balls, glue, and paint!), borrowed the cupcake stand from my friend Sarah, and Kurt's mom made the tablecloth.
The cupcakes came from Sam's. They're the best and CHEAP!!
My sister playing with Isaac (Kristal's little boy).
Courtney and her son Wyley.
My mom made her fabulous chicken salad, and I made toasted sandwiches. Yum!
The whole group (minus Sonya and Ellie--Ellie was sick!): Kristal and Isaac, Me and Evy, Courtney and Wyley, and Sarah and Ansley. Of course we missed SD and Ann Peyton and Carrie and Aubrey and Jude!
T-R-O-U-B-L-E
The cake/cupcake eating went way better than last year!
Presents!
I had lots of little helpers!
Who's there?
It's Papa!
This was hilarious---Ansley and Evy wanted my dad to sit on the stairs with them!


The day was a great kick-off to Evy's celebrations, and the playdate was JUST the right size. It was low-key and easy! Coming next are the family party pictures!

Please take a look at our adoption fundraiser shop! It's a great way to show your support for adoption and look cute while doing it!  There's also a GREAT sale going on now to benefit our adoption!
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