(Almost) 6 months old #NatalieJ

6/23/15- Sweet baby girl. I can’t believe you are already almost 6 months old! Time is flying by but I feel a gift in God has given me little snippets of time slowing down and being able to cherish special moments with you. You have figured out this whole sitting thing! And had tastes of avocado, applesauce, watermelon, and gnawed on cucumbers, pickles, and carrots! You belly laugh often and are quick to offer me a huge grin like I’m your most favorite person in the world! I love the way your hand dances softly across my chest while the nurse, coming up to my face so I can kiss your hand every now and then. You roll with ease both ways and will chew on anything you can get your hands! We love you so much, Natalie!! 

   
Father’s Day 2015

  

First ride in the Costco cart!

Cherry picking at Greenbluff 

    

Snoozing with Daddy- you love to cuddle ❤️  

Big girl bath for the first time! 

Brother loves to play with you! He put your crown on and said, “Mommy! Quick! Take our picture!” 

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5 Months #NatalieJ

I love mornings with Natalie. She’s usually up between 6-8am to nurse and I love the way her cheeks are all rosy and her body relaxed into mine. She has started softly, gently rubbing my arm & chest while she nurses; it’s the sweetest thing! 

  
Most mornings, Natalie, you wake up cooing and talking softly. Rosy cheeks, wide eyes, big smiles. You love to kick your feet and grab your toes and you are chewing on everything in sight. You discovered how to work Mama’s water bottle and you love getting tastes when you play with it. You still regularly spend hours babywearing and we’ve incorporated ergo rides in addition to your favorite, the ring sling. You are almost sitting; you can sit up in your bouncer, from laying on your back in the boppy, and in your rock n play! Won’t be long before you can stay sitting instead of folding in half or rolling over 😉 You also learned how to roll back to tummy this week! You made “da-da” sounds and lots of other chatter & talking! 

I love you so much, baby girl! You are such a joy, every single day. 

Love, Mommy ❤️

   
You really wanted Daddy’s ice cream!!

   

   

I leaned you back to take your picture and you sat right up!     

Abby & Natalie at church ❤️  

Almost too big for newborn cloth   

First tastes of water- you’re in love!   

Date night with Mommy & Daddy   

Yiayia loves you!  

Not 5 months already??  

Swaddle sleep in attempt to get to you go longer than 4 hours 😉

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Kindergarten Boy

My sweet Z had his first school concert tonight. He has been so excited, practicing his songs at home and telling me all about the glockenspiel he was chosen to play. As he stood up with his class tonight, my heart is so full. I am so proud of the boy is growing into!

Zeke, I love the way you are a leader. You are full of plans and promptly go through with each of them. You are kind and you are embracing your role as the only brother, the oldest of your little sisters. From the time you were barely 3 and pulled Abby out of the driveway (Mama knew you two were safe but you didn’t), you have continued to love on and lead your little sissies. 

This week you told me how important it was to love God first. That you love God first for always, #2 was Nessa, #3 is Mommy. We’ll see how that goes 😉 You also tell me how when you grow up, you know you have to live in Cheney because Mommy loves you so much. 

I love the way you’re learning to read; you were so curious and pick words out wherever we are. You will listen to audiobooks for hours every day even, laying in bed before you sleep or while you’re playing Legos or drawing. I love how you like to carry notebooks and pencils – set to write down all of your ideas and draw your plans. You love to draw pirate maps and American flags and make all kinds of cards. My favorite one this week was when you made thank you cards to social workers, complete with “I love you” inside. You really like music, and math too. You solve math problems in your head love to figure out how things work. 

I love that you like to make your own breakfast, reassuring me that you won’t spill the milk. You make toast for you and Abby and you two are the very best of buddies. You are kind and loving and brave too. You love your baby Natalie, and like to sing songs and make her laugh, especially when you trip over invisible things. You play with Lina, and even like to help take care of her by making sure she’s buckled in the highchair and not playing in the bathroom. You and Nessa do all kinds of things, everything from adventures to science experiments to chalk and volleyball in the front yard. I love that you are such a great brother. 

I love you, sweet boy of mine! You will always be my firstborn, the baby that made me a Mama. I pray that you will grow to love Jesus with all your heart and follow in his ways every day of your life. I pray that you will be a strong leader for your family and in your work and friend relationships. I pray that you would be brave and bold and courageous, doing great things with great love. 
I love you little boy, each new milestone is a celebration. Grow well my love. 
   
             

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Evening reflections

I want to cherish this moment – remember the smile and the coos when Natalie looks at me in recognition. Her little pink tutu, bright blue eyes, and feet kicking with her mouth blowing tiny little bubbles. Sitting here on the kitchen floor after the busy day, polishing off guacamole and loving on my sweet baby. There’s no place I’d rather be.

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Limitations

These thoughts have been rambling around in my mind for some time.  First thoughts, questions, then turning into spoken word, they are reality when spoken out loud.  Then to actions… I have been asked to write an article on limitations and how my own expectations have affected our decision to start the adoption process of our 12 year old daughter.  Fear is a battle.  Taking the time to slow down and discover, then process what I’m really feeling and how I deal with it.  It’s so scary.  Dr. Karen Purvis (author of the amazing book, The Connected Child) always says that we can never see our child clearly when looking through our own baggage.  That phrase has haunted my thoughts- coming back to me again and again as I debate my willingness to delve into my own baggage.

My friend Katie has been redefining limitations and how they connect our lives with God’s will and plan.  How often do we put limitations on ourselves, only to step back from what God is actually calling us to do?  I do that; I know I do.  Fear is my biggest one, and insecurity; what will everyone else think?  We are foster parents and we have always tried to say, “God, our home is open.  Let us do your will and be your hands and feet.”

This fall, our faith was stretched and defined as we had to choose if we were willing to honestly say that we would do whatever God would call our family to do and love whomever he would choose to bring to us.  My husband received a strange call from the social worker of a child we had had in our home for three months almost a year prior.  Just a message asking us to call.  He thought nothing of it; my heart, however, was racing and anticipating all of the questions she may ask us, number one on my fear list, “Would we take this child back into our home?”  The next day I was able to talk with her and she indeed ask us that question.  My heart stopped.  I had considered her asking us, but wasn’t prepared for my reaction when she actually did.  Mind you, this was no ordinary child.  She is a beautiful, wonderful, smart, funny, sassy twelve year old girl who has been in limbo with CPS for almost two years.  Also, to put things into perspective, I am an (almost) 25 year old mama with a toddler and preschooler… I like babies… big kids freak me out a little… long-term wise anyways.  Also, when we had her in our home previously, we also had her two younger siblings, darling kids, but the most difficult, behaviorally challenging, and needy children we have ever worked with.  I stammered unfinished thoughts into the phone, asking some of the questions we had considered.  We took the weekend, sitting, talking, praying together.  Could my husband and I even consider this?  This would change our family forever.  I worried about hormones and mental stability, knowing history in her family.  I worried about the friends we live in community who have two adoptions blowing up right now and a child in a psychiatric long-term facility and the incredible financial stress that would come with that.  I worried about our sweet girl; how would she deal with being the only dark-skinned beauty in our family?  The questions that would constantly be asked.  Is she yours?  Really?  And the insecurity that she would inevitably deal with.  I worried she would be in our home for a year and we’d decide there is no possible way we could go through with adoption and her heart would be broken beyond repair; yet another abandonment.  I worried about my age; am I too young to parent a daughter I would have to have birthed at 12 years old?  I worried that if we don’t take her, who will give her a better story?  Is it even possible for her to break the cycle of poverty and abuse?  I worried she won’t be able to be truthful and deal with the hurt of her past, the sins that have been committed against her.  And if she does deal with it, will I be able to help her?  I worry about how much Mark will be involved and if he’ll look to me to do most of the parenting; is that a bad thing?  How will he relate to a 12 year old girl becoming his daughter?  How will our little kids adapt?  I worried I don’t know the right expectations to have of a 12 year old and am I prepared to guide her through the ways of being a godly woman?

But God. God surrounded our family with his will, love, and peace. We couldn’t be more blessed with a church family and others who are a part of our lives, many walking through adoption and raising tweens, several with 12 year old girls actually.  We took the courageous step forward and said “Yes, bring our daughter home.”  However, the counselors had a different plan and proceeded with a 28 day in-home program to try and keep her with her birth mom.  Our hearts were torn; we had wrestled with this decision, talked, cried, prayed, and finally trusted God’s leading.  I felt like Abraham climbing the mountain and being led to sacrifice his son.  When would God swoop in?  Would he?

After several weeks, our sweet girl came to spend the weekend with us and our fears  settled.  We love her and would be willing to take the risk and join  her in our story.  The counselors, birth mom, and State finally jumped on board and she moved in four days later.

In our first few weeks together, I took her to the Secret Keeper Girl conference, a great time of girl talk and giggles while drawing closer to our daughters & our Creator.  I was so nervous and insecure, in myself, my youth, and my ability to parent my tween daughter.  God spoke to me through a fortune cookie of all things, reminding me of 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  Boldly I stepped forward in confidence, trusting in God’s faithfulness as we follow in his will for our family and our daughter.

The months have passed rapidly, we are approaching six months of her home again, slowly working towards adoption.  My insecurities tend to creep back in (umm.. parent teacher conferences at my small former middle school!) and I have to fall back into God’s promise.  He has broken into the unknown and carried us through the challenges as they often arise.  As we learn to parent, she learns to be parented.  Sometimes, I feel so unequipped and worried about the next step, the days ahead.  I learn, almost daily, what God means when he says that his grace is sufficient for me, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  And I thank Him, for our beautiful daughter that he has hand-placed into our home.

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39 weeks

December 15, 2014

Sweet baby. What a journey we have traveled! I am so thankful for your little (and big!) movements and stretches, little hiccups, and this special bond we already share. I can’t believe we are getting to close to meeting each other. If Dr. Z is right, it will probably be next week; if Mommy is right, it will probably be the week after ❤️We will see! 

Natalie Janiece; born December 30, 2014. Mommy was right ❤️❤️❤️

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Hiccups and Heartburn

35 Weeks- wow! Another milestone I can hardly believe we’ve reached so quickly! Everyday, usually 2-3 time, you delight me with your hiccups. I felt them really early with you, like 24-26 weeks, and thought at first you were just a really rhythmic baby 😊

Heartburn is not my favorite but I usually get it right before falling asleep or very first thing in the morning; what I eat doesn’t necessarily change it. Thank goodness for essential oils this pregnancy; they have been so helpful!!

I love you little one!

35 week highlights:

Lopsided belly ❤️

Quick trip to Portland to visit family & explore waterfalls & ikea of course complete with babywearing in our new ring sling!

First snow!

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