October 27, 2012

A New Kind of Fall Fun

Every fall (and winter, for that matter), I have so many lofty plans and traditions I want to do with our family. I want to do the pumpkin patch, cute Autumn crafts, print out the "Fall Fun To-Do Lists" that are all over Pinterest....you name it, I'd love to do it. I'm not much of a "goer" anyway, and while I've never really struggled with comparing myself to what other moms/families are doing, sometimes I can think to myself that I'm not maximizing the season, etc. And with Christmas coming, it's SO easy to get stressed about getting a game plan together for the season. Sidenote: Pinterest is such a blessing and SUCH A CURSE. I've gotten some wonderful ideas, but it's the AMOUNT of ideas that can become the problem. I think I'm going to start implementing a rule for myself: only attempt 2 (maybe 3) ideas per season, holiday, etc. I think that can really help. I know I've pinned it; it's not going anywhere. And there will be MANY Christmases and seasons where we can try new things. It's so easy to get absolutely overwhelmed with party themes, traditions to start, things to do each night, 50 ways to celebrate Advent, CRAFTS CRAFTS CRAFTS, organizing your wrapping paper within an inch of its life, YOU GET THE IDEA. There's NO way to do it all, and I've come to realize that time is so much better spent just enjoying your family, rather than trying to "activity" them to death. 

So this year, we didn't go to the pumpkin patch. Partly because the day we chose to go was FRIGID and WINDY, and just had too many conflicts in trying to get everyone together to go. So we ate at Cracker Barrel with my family yesterday morning then stopped by a local church that was selling pumpkins. The kids picked out pumpkins in about 5 minutes, and we went home. That was our "pumpkin patch" experience this year, and I'm letting it go. It was just as special of a day because we were with family. Hayrides and petting zoos and all the bells and whistles can be fun, but all you need is family. 

So Happy [Simplified] Fall!


October 25, 2012

Updates

Well, hello again - another few days has lapsed since I last posted and I just feel so out of the blogging loop. I know I say that every time I post lately, but I hate that I haven't been as consistent lately. However, I'm still trying to manage my severe morning [all day] sickness and keep up with my two precious babykins. I'm on two doses of Zofran a day, which is DEFINITELY helping....I just have to stay on top of it. The other day I ran out and didn't realize it, but I thought I could just try to go without and see what happened. I was SO violently ill that I couldn't even function, and I had to call my mom to help with the kids. Needless to say, I got my medicine called in and my dad brought it to me ASAP! I am just in totally new territory, in that I've never needed medicine to function. However, I know it will ALL be worth it, and I'm thankful that my hormone levels are apparently so high - ha!

A big update is about Thirty One. After much thought and prayer, I've decided to step down. I want to be very clear - this has nothing to do with the company or my experience. On the contrary, it's been a wonderful journey for me and I have been amazed at what has happened in the almost year I've been a Consultant. I've told several people - Thirty One itself was never a problem for my schedule, etc. It was in conjunction with other things that I have going on in my life that I began to see signs of needing to step down. For one thing, I promoted quickly - something I NEVER expected. I never expected to promote AT ALL, much less two titles. I don't say that to brag; only to explain what led to this decision. I had 26 or so people under me with Thirty One, and I simply knew I couldn't lead with excellence. This pregnancy has really knocked the wind out of me, and I know once our little one arrives life will only get more full (in the best way). My #1 calling is to be a wife and mom, and the minute I feel like I can't fully be present in those roles, it's time to walk away. I've told several people that this wasn't a reactive measure - I hadn't even gotten to the point of feeling like it was interfering with my family. It's more of a preventative thing; making sure that I've simplified my life to the "God minimums" as I'm starting to call them. I am incredibly thankful for my time with Thirty One, and I feel like I'm leaving under the best possible circumstances. The other night I simply felt uneasy, like I couldn't relax or calm down. I all of a sudden felt an overwhelming sense of exactly what God was saying to me. I wrote the necessary emails that very minute and instantly knew I had been obedient. Trust me - that is NOT always the case with me. Obedience is hard sometimes. But in this case, I knew I needed to immediately deal with what was in my heart, and I've already been blessed because of it. All that to say, simplifying is a good and necessary thing in order to do what God wants you to do. :)

Now that I'm almost into my second trimester (I'm 11 weeks and 3 days along), I will be sharing what I hope to accomplish with this birth, and that is a VBAC. I had a C-section with Evy, and this time around we're hoping to do things differently. I will write a whole post on this, just presenting why we're making that choice and the factors that have led into that. So stay tuned. :)

It's almost that time of year where I bring out the Christmas decorations! I always decorate in early November so we can enjoy everything longer. Plus, we'll be out of town a couple of weekends in November, so it's important to me that we get things up. I want to ENJOY the season and have as little to do as possible - ha! I can't believe it's 60 days until Christmas. I have my gift list made (I only lack a few gift ideas) and I've been buying here and there. I love getting things done early so I can just dwell in the season!

:)

October 18, 2012

ONE YEAR HOME

To read my initial account of our Family Day (with pictures), click here.

On October 17, 2011, at 11:00pm Central U.S. Time (October 18 at 1:00pm in Korea), Kurt, my dad, and I walked into the offices of Holt International in Seoul, South Korea. I remember looking around me, totally overwhelmed and in disbelief that this day had come.

Exactly one year earlier, we had submitted our initial paperwork to Holt. After our Homestudy went to Korea, we awaited an astonishingly short ONE month for Liam's referral. In the months that followed, it was a whirlwind - and yet a standstill - of emotions, paperwork, and stalking the United States government to find out the status of my son's case. By many works of the Lord, we barely made the travel cut-off for 2011. In some ways it was excruciating, because we watched families that had the exact same paperwork timeline have to wait 7-8 more months to travel. We knew from the second we boarded that plane to Korea that it was a miracle, and we didn't take it for granted.

In the first two days of our trip, we had toured Seoul, been to a museum, eaten authentic food, browsed the distinctive Korean markets and neighborhoods, and more. I had unpacked our things in our [amazing] hotel and stared in disbelief at the little piles of boy clothes in the dresser. I had laid out his little shoes on the floor, in an obsessive-compuslive straight line, as if I were organizing a nursery at home. It was all so different, but the anticipation was just as high.

The day arrived, and I was the biggest piece of anxious energy. I checked and triple-checked our gifts to the foster family and agency workers, and I made sure our cameras were thoroughly and completely charged. But then, about an hour before we left, I felt a real sense of calm. I remember thinking that we were about to experience an amazing, life-changing moment, but I didn't want to affect it and spoil it by being a perfectionist or being over-emotional. I just felt at peace.

My dad prayed, and then we walked to our subway stop and boarded. It feels like yesterday. The next thing we knew, there we were. Romin, our amazing, brilliant photographer (that we are still in touch with and who I can't say enough wonderful things about) began snapping away, and I felt myself relax because I knew it would be well-documented.

We met D.J., the amazing social worker, and we sent my dad on inside the room so he could start filming. Not long after, we walked in and saw the most adorable, precious little face. He was dressed in probably the cutest outfit I've EVER seen, and his foster father was holding him. I immediately burst into tears and covered my face because it was exactly how I had imagined it - a mixture of relief, fear, complete sadness (for his foster family) worry (wanting to parent him with sensitivity and understanding), joy, and excitement. It was completely surreal.

After asking questions, exchanging gifts, Liam's final checkup, hugs, more tears, and going over paperwork, we knew the time had come to say goodbye. We looked over to see the most amazing, spiritually significant thing that I believe I've ever witnessed. Liam's foster father had gathered the family, and they had their hands on him, praying over him. This is the first time I've shared any video from that day, because it is all so sacred to me. But this is important to share because this is what makes our adoption story what it is.

A year ago, when we left the agency holding a 15-month-old toddler, we had no idea how things would look a year out. There have been very hard days, wonderfully amazing days, and in-between days. There have been countless emotions. But one thing has been confirmed to us over and over - when you're obedient to the Lord and trust Him with the steps of your life, HE NEVER FAILS to equip you and abundantly bless you. We can say without question or hesitation that Liam is our son, and we love him with our whole hearts.

We continue the prayer that his beautiful foster family started one year ago, and we know we join them in saying, "To God be the glory, great things HE has done!"





October 9, 2012

Finalized Forever!

Today was a VERY special day for us - Liam's adoption was finalized! He is now legally considered our son, and we are so thrilled for everything to be official. His name was also legally changed, but he'll always know that he's also Jae-ho. :) We went to the courthouse this morning to appear before the judge, and everything went perfectly. We made our first visit 6 months ago, and it's hard to even believe it's been that long. On October 18th we'll have had Liam home a year - that blows our minds! My parents were both there, and we wish Kurt's parents could've made the trip, but it fell on a weekday morning, which would've made it hard for them to miss work. We know our family was ALL supporting us in spirit. It took all of 5 minutes for the judge to pronounce everything complete, and then we took a picture.



Afterward, Kurt and I took the kids to Cracker Barrel for a celebratory breakfast, and then we went to Toys R Us, where the kids got a small treat. It was a very special day, and we thought it was appropriate to do some fun things!

There's still more legal paperwork to do for citizenship, Social Security, etc., but it feels so good to have completed this step. As always, Liam's birth parents and his foster family were at the forefront of our minds. There have been so many people who have LOVED our son and have made this journey an amazing process. We know that God has already joined us and knit us together as a family, but now we have the papers to go along with it. :)

Thank you for your prayers and support that have gotten us to this point!

October 4, 2012

Helping with Homebirth

The best way to begin this post is by saying that I have had the privilege, honor and blessing of experiencing what is the polar opposite of what our culture has deemed "the Mommy Wars." That might seem like an odd way to start this post, but as I thought about it, it's really the crux of what I want this post to express, and it perfectly explains what needs to be happening among women; among friends.

My friend Kristal and I are very different people. We see differently on many things, including some methods on parenting, and even how some Scripture can be interpreted. If there were ever two candidates for an "unlikely duo" in the parenthood realm, it would be us.

Our story as friends actually began way back in the mid- to late-nineties. We were in youth group together here, where we now both live again. She was a couple of years older, and I do have lots of memories of trips and youth get-togethers where we were both there. Of course we all dispersed and went different directions, and eventually, we ended up reconnecting through our blogs. I don't want to speak for her, but I think we mutually found out fairly quickly that we were just different thinkers, and we were wired differently from each other. We knew each other as teenagers, and we had become adults with somewhat different world views at that time. We even had some dialogue via our blogs about differences of opinion. As the Lord would have it, we both ended up moving back "home," and since that time our friendship has grown and become something that has (excuse the trite phrase) become beautiful.

Here's why. Kristal and I began to openly discuss and confront our differences with the intent of understanding each other. NOT to necessarily change the other person's opinion or beliefs. When I learned to read Kristal's posts and ideas and statuses and articles that she would link to through the lens of sharpening my knowledge and expanding my thoughts on what I believe and don't believe, my entire focus shifted, and my responses became different. I remember a specific conversation where we simply established that I'm wired more sensitively, and she has an incredibly thick skin. That sounds elementary, but when you simply understand how God has made you and someone else, it changes things. It changes how you respond, and how you view the other person. We began emailing (both of us sometimes think/express better through writing) about topics where we wanted to understand the other's point of view. It was through these conversations that we developed a very strong respect for one another and a level of trust (knowing the other person, at their core, wanted to simply understand, NOT berate or belittle the other's stance). It created a level of authenticity that is extremely rare in female friendships, and I think it laid the foundation for Kristal's impending home birth.

We were at Starbucks before going to see a movie together, and the topic of her birth came up. I offered to help in any way I could, thinking maybe she'd want me to keep Isaac (her son) or video, or something. She immediately replied, "Oh my gosh, I was JUST about to ask you to be there for the birth!" I was floored and completely honored. I didn't know what my role would be, and I don't think Kristal did either, but I knew I would be there.

On the day that Kristal went into labor, I had my first doctor's appointment, and came as soon as the appointment was over. I changed into comfortable clothes and joined Brandi (the photographer and a friend of ours) and Joann, the midwife. Chad, Kristal's husband, was also there.

Kristal had been laboring for several hours, and she was managing her contractions really well.


Chad was so awesome at helping Kristal and giving her support when/where she needed it.




I learned a lot from Joann, Kristal's midwife. At one point, in between contractions, Kristal took her ear phones out and started laughing and talking with us. It was such an enjoyable time, and I couldn't believe that she was actively in labor, yet it felt like lunch with the girls - ha! Joann told me during Kristal's next contraction (when her music was in her ears again and she couldn't hear) that when your contractions begin to get a little further apart, it's actually a sign that you're transitioning. Brandi and I were like, "What?!" because a lot of times, you hear that if your contractions are stalling, something must be wrong. But that's not always the case!



Not long after Joann shared that information about transition, sure enough, Kristal wanted to move to the tub. Chad, Joann and I had filled the tub with water and gotten it ready for her. Right before she got in, Joann checked her and she was at a 7-8, I believe? It was right where she wanted to be, and I think it helped her mentally knowing she didn't have much further to go.



We noticed that the contractions started picking up again, and they were apparently getting much more intense. I was sitting next to Chad and Joann at the other end of the pool.




At that point, Kristal wanted HARD pressure on her back during each contraction. Since Chad was in the pool, it was hard to him to get a good grip and stay in one place, like Kristal needed. So I got behind him and gave counter-pressure on his shoulders to help.




Kristal said the warm water felt great on her lower body, but it was making her VERY hot and flushed in her upper body. So we got a bowl of ice water and I become the "water person." :) I spent the rest of her labor exchanging washcloths and making sure she was cooling down on top. I ended up putting my hands in the ice water and just putting the water all over her arms, back, and neck.



Looking back on it now, I actually took on more of a "doula" role during the labor. I don't mean that in a presumptuous way at all; I'm not formally trained and I don't even know if that would be the correct term for what I was doing, but Chad was needed in the pool, and Kristal also needed someone near her face to help talk to her, coach her breathing (I got a crash course from Joann), and just being a place where she could lay her head.





The next thing we knew, Kristal was actively pushing, and in the blink of an eye, Miriam Leigh arrived!



It was incredible!



They didn't know the gender, and when Chad revealed that it was a girl, we all squealed!




One of my favorite moments was when Kristal's mom arrived (she had been keeping Isaac), and Kristal got to say, "Mom - it's a GIRL!" Kathi (who is a dear family friend of our family) was sobbing and it was just an amazing moment.



It was also an incredibly sweet moment to watch Isaac meet his sister.



Not too long after that, Brandi and I slipped out to let Kristal, Chad, Isaac and Miriam be alone and just dwell in that amazing moment. As I drove home, I couldn't believe that I had witnessed my friend give birth, in her home, and that it was such an incredible "life" moment for me.



As I've reflected on the whole experience, it kept resonating with me that this is what it's about. Not arguing, and belittling each other, and accusing other women of being horrible mothers. When we DO have dialogue, it's possible to have conversations that are respectful, open, and authentic, where we explain ourselves and let the other person explain herself. Most of the time, Kristal and I walk away from conversations still holding our original opinions, but we understand each other better. We learn that there are REASONS why the other person has made their decisions, and ultimately, that's between them and the Lord. Is it okay and healthy and normal to be passionate to have strong opinions on parenting? OF COURSE. That's the ingredient that makes Kristal and I "work" as friends - we're both passionate people. We come from slightly different parenting camps, but there are absolutely places where those camps overlap. Those "overlaps" are where we choose to dwell, and where we are the happiest, and where we have found an amazing friendship.

I encourage everyone to find the overlaps. Find authenticity and respect and LOVE for other women. Because when you find yourself holding your friend as she labors, and supporting her choice to birth at home, and being there for one of the most important and sacred moments of her life, you'll find that the differences completely go away, and it becomes one of the most sacred moments of YOUR life, too.

Click here for Kristal's account of her birth experience.

October 3, 2012

Random Things

My thoughts are all over the place, so this is usually the best type of post to do when that happens. :)

-I thought I liked the new Blogger layout at first, but now I hate it. I just don't like it. I totally understand them attempting to streamline things, but it's kind of like Facebook - just LEAVE IT ALONE.

-I had really been thinking that I could get through my first trimester (or however long) without medication for nausea, but NOPE. Yesterday Kurt got me Zofran, and it has helped me so much today! I even thought I might be able to go to Bible study this morning, but the medicine didn't have time to kick in before I had to be ready (note to self: take it early) and Liam has had a touch of croup lately, and he's still not 100%. :-/ I am still extremely tired, and I would get waves of nausea all day. To be honest, I didn't even realize HOW bad it was until I took the Zofran, and I realized that it just lifted the veil of nausea that had been over me every single day/night. I know the tiredness will still be there, but at least the nausea won't be as bad.

-Speaking of, I have my first ultrasound tomorrow! I've been extra excited, simply because there's been more anticipation (I had to wait over a week since my first appointment). Kurt is on call tonight, which means he'll be off tomorrow, so he can go with me. A sweet friend (who is pregnant herself) is watching the kids so we can go together. I'm so excited!

-Usually my Mom (or Dad, at certain times) is my babysitter for appointments and such, but they're visiting my grandparents in Arkansas this week! They're doing different projects around the house and just enjoying visiting. In November, my grandfather is celebrating his 80th birthday, and friends of his are putting together a benefit golf tournament and banquet to benefit his ministry, Ventures for Christ. If you're in the Northwest Arkansas area, encourage your husbands and their friends to play in this tournament - it's going to be great! I can't wait for the banquet, because so many awesome people know my grandfather and are a part of this (Lou Holtz, Robert Lewis and Mike Huckabee just to name a few of the many people that know and love my grandfather and consider him a dear friend). We haven't visited my grandparents in Arkansas in over 6 years, due to several things like schedules, etc. (they've just come to visit us), so I am counting the days until we're all able to be back together in Fayetteville, which I consider my second home. Who knows, maybe I can find the Duggars while I'm there!?

-I just need to take a moment and talk about HUGELY important matters that are happening on television: Aviva drives me INSANE. Literally, I cringe when she starts talking. I think Carole is too cool for school and that's annoying too. I don't know why people complain about Caroline Manzo; I love her. She reminds me a lot of myself - fiercely loyal to her family. Teresa Guidice - WHAT IS HAPPENING. I watched the Reunion (Part 1) and kept saying to myself, "What is happening right now?" She has gone off the deep end. One thing I will say - I've noticed how there doesn't seem to be a single Housewife that can take turns talking. Have you noticed that they ALL continue to talk while another person is talking? Like, they just PLOW AHEAD with what they're saying, and I'm watching it without a clue what either person is saying. Call my crazy, but I think Caroline is the only one that rarely does that (what can I say, I like her!). All that to say, the Housewives of the New York and New Jersey varieties have really given me a lot to process this season...... I have just enough time to recover before we jump in with Atlanta and Beverly Hills.

Moving on the Dancing with the Stars All Stars! Who is your favorite?? I do want to say that I get SUPER ANNOYED when people vote for someone for any reason other than dancing. For instance, I'm about as Conservative as they come, but I DO NOT think Bristol Palin should be on that show. At all. Should never have come back and should've gone home the first week. It IRRITATES me that people are using this as their little "mini election" statement to keep her in the competition. It's nothing against her personally; I just think there are WAY better dancers on that show that will probably go home because people want to make a political statement. I can't even say who's my favorite, because so many are so good, but I LOVE that almost every single dance is at this high of a level already. I feel like in regular seasons, you have to wait until the last 3 weeks or so before you see really good dancing, but it's so good already!

ONCE UPON A TIME. Seriously, obsessed. I've said this before, but my favorite storyline is Rumplestiltskin and Belle. I adore them together and I think it's a fascinating twist on everything. But in general, I love everything about this show.

-I recently was incredibly honored to help my friend Kristal during the birth of her daughter, Miriam! The whole thing happened at Kristal's house (it was a planned home birth), and it was awesome. I'm going to do a whole post about it once I have some pictures to share. Also, I have another post on birth coming up, because we're doing some things differently this time around that several people have asked me to share about. So stay tuned for two "birth" posts. :)

-I haven't even decorated for fall. I have a super cute Bronwyn Hanahan pumpkin door hanger, and that's about it. I just haven't had the energy! But honestly, there's something to be said for simplicity. I don't feel any less festive.....in fact, it's kind of nice that I can just enjoy the season itself and not have to worry about putting up and storing all of my fall things again. Maybe I'll add a FEW small things, but overall.....I'm definitely okay with have a very simplified decor. Christmas might be similar! I'll have my tree of course, and I always love decorating for Christmas, but there's nothing wrong with scaling down and going small. :)

-I couldn't think of a topic I could consistently blog about for 31 days, even though I know it would've been really fun. Again, a big part of my life lately is letting go. Just letting go of the fact that I can sometimes only tackle the bare minimum. Other times, I feel ahead of the game and I'm knocking things off my to-do list. But especially with being sick and being in the first trimester, I'm just letting things go. I've had some really, really nice and quiet days at home with the kids, and it's been wonderful. I'm intentionally trying to simplify our schedule and make sure that we're (correction - I) am not over-committed each week. It's just important, ESPECIALLY with the holidays coming up. I want to dwell and be fully present in what I and my family are doing.

I think that's it for right now......happy October!
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