God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life


Finally…a diagnosis

I have put off writing about this because it’s very personal and has been a very difficult journey for me. (Just a note: I want to warn you that parts of this post are very descriptive and may make some uncomfortable.) As I mentioned in the post, Life in Full Swing, in November, I was finally diagnosed with PCOS, or Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. While it was a relief to finally understand what was wrong with my body, it was a lot to take in.

Let’s start with a little history. I began having an irregular menstrual cycle only a couple years after my first period. By the time I was in my junior year of college, my periods only occurred every 3 months. There were shooting pains in my abdomen, mainly around my belly button, nearly every day. I often had pelvic and rectal pressure and I would spot occasionally, making me seek help at the college health center, only to be relentlessly questioned about my sexual history. For some reason, they could not understand that I had indeed never been sexually active at the age of 19. All of this caused me great anxiety, and I’m not talking normal anxiety. It edged on full blown panic. Just before Thanksgiving break I awoke to a bed full of blood. It had appeared my period finally came with a vengeance. I called my mom and had her make an appointment for me with my doctor over Thanksgiving. After hearing of my symptoms, she suspected endometriosis and put me on an oral contraceptive pill.

The pill was a God-send. It regulated my cycle and took the pain away. I could even tell if I was late taking a pill even by an hour because the pain would return. I continued taking the pill after we were married because honestly, I was afraid of the pain returning. Let me stop here for a moment and talk about the morality of the pill. Yes, I know as a Catholic I am not supposed to take the pill for contraception. I know that this is an extremely controversial topic, but I am not here to debate the use of oral contraception. For me, at that time, it was a medical necessity. In my mind, I fully believed that if God intended for me to add a baby to our family, he would find a way to do so. After all, it’s God we’re talking about. (Little did I know that He would do this in a completely different way than I had expected!) Over the years I was repeatedly given the pill to control my cycle and my symptoms. I continued to suffer from anxiety and sometimes depression. Only those closest to me know my complete journey through these years. All I’m going to say is they were difficult and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Scott and I agreed that fertility treatments was not the route we wanted to pursue. Instead, adoption appeared to be where our hearts were leading us. Through therapy, I made peace with our options for growing our family. And through our adoption journey, it became apparent this was the path God had chosen for us. We have been blessed 100 times over.

As the kids have grown, Scott and I began talking about me taking a break from the pill. I felt I was at a point where I was ready to deal with what might happen. I was also beginning to notice my irritability and anger would sometimes come out of nowhere. During a conversation with a close friend in January of 2015, she was telling me about her short stint on oral contraception. She said she felt anxious, angry, and irritable. She is not naturally any of those things! My mind was made up, at my annual check-up in March, I was going to talk to my doctor about going off the pill. She agreed and so I did.

Things went fairly smoothly the first month and was exactly a 28 day cycle. What? My body is going to work now?The second month the pain came back and my cycle was longer. In my mind I thought, well here we go again, but I felt so much better emotionally. I knew that I would never go back. Over the next 3 months I noticed I began putting on quite a bit of weight. Also, while my anxiety was better, I had more days where depression raised it’s nasty head. By a month later I had put on 15 pounds and I knew that I hadn’t changed what I was eating. By November I was up 20 pounds, had 2 UTIs and felt another one coming on, had horrible pelvic and abdominal pain and pressure, my depression was bad, and I just knew there was something not right. I suspected hormones. I began messaging my doctor about suspecting endometriosis and she wanted to do an ultrasound. I also asked about PCOS and she decided she was going to send me to test my hormone levels and do a complete blood work up first. Finally, a doctor was going to give me answers!

The results came back, and I did indeed have PCOS. Sadly, my doctor wanted to put me right back on the pill. I asked her to give me 3 months of dietary and lifestyle changes before prescribing me the pill again. She agreed. I immediately started reading and researching. For those of you not familiar with PCOS, here is a fact sheet. Here are some things I found out that were particularly important to me:

  • PCOS is an endocrine disorder, not a menstrual disorder. Therefore, it will not go away with menopause or a hysterectomy.
  • As an endocrine disorder, it is linked closely with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
  • My anxiety and depression are also linked to PCOS.
  • Women with PCOS have an incredibly difficult time losing and controlling their weight.
  • PCOS can cause heart problems and a fatty liver.

One of my favorite blogs full of great information and research updates is PCOS Diet Support. Through information in this blog and other research, here are the diet changes I decided to implement:

  • gluten free diet (Not a problem as I had already figured out I had a severe gluten intolerance 3 years ago. Interestingly, the majority of women with PCOS have gluten sensitivity.)
  • dairy free diet (This was harder. It is recommended to remove dairy due to the growth hormone naturally occurring in all animal milk. This is why milk is so important for growing babies. It is not good for those that no longer need to grow.) I try my best while eating out, but lead a dairy free life at home.
  • soy free diet (This is almost impossible when you add it to the other restrictions! However, soy is a phytoestrogen, meaning it can turn into estrogen in the body. I have plenty of that already….people with PCOS need the progesterone.)
  • fish oil supplement (I was already doing this. This helps with the inflammation in the body caused by the excess hormones of PCOS.)
  • Multivitamin that included B vitamins including folic acid (Folic acid is good for the reproductive system and the rest of the B vitamins have shown beneficial to anxiety and depression as well.There are further benefits I can’t remember right now.)
  • Vitamin D (Beneficial to depression as well as sleep. I don’t remember the other reasons off the top of my head.)
  • Inositol (This is also part of the B vitamin family. It is good for liver detox. It has been used in studies to treat mental disorders and has recently shown to be beneficial with PCOS as well. )

I implemented these changes and by my March appointment, I had maintained my weight even over the holidays! My mood had improved. The pains were nearly gone for most of each cycle. So, my doctor gave me the go ahead to continue with my diet and supplements and we would check my blood again next year. I was so relieved.

My latest step on this journey is to now begin losing weight. In order to do so, I needed to begin eating a low glycemic index diet. This was not something I was looking forward to. Carbs and sugars seemed like all I had left after taking away gluten, dairy, and soy. I was not looking forward to a life of salads. My friend urged me to join weight watchers with her. Little did I know, weight watchers has recently overhauled their points system and bases it largely on sugar (lots of points) and high protein (few points). I agreed and have managed so far to lose 6 pounds in the 3 weeks I have been on the plan. I have a long ways to go, but at least there’s a move in the right direction.

You may be thinking to yourself now, does this mean there is possibly a baby in the future? Well, we shall see. One step at a time. I am not cured. PCOS is something that can improve, but it will always be with you. I am more interested in feeling good right now, but only God knows what the future holds. We already have two wonderful children, and they bring me more joy than I could ever have imagined. 

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Parenting: In the trenches

IMG_1488Here’s the truth…being a parent is HARD! I know this is nothing new. I know that so many parents come to this realization after finding themselves with one or more children and wonder, “what did I get myself into?” Parenting is not all flying kites, building sandcastles at the beach, baking cookies,  and sweet night time snuggles. It is calming your child when you made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when they only wanted jelly, it is asking your child for the 10th time to step away from the hot oven, it is finding your children hanging from the chandelier (yes, really!), it is screaming your child’s name as they run toward the street when you turn away for a fraction of a second, it is relentlessly putting an over tired child back in their room for the 20th time, it is still waking up in the middle of a night for a child 4 years after they have been “sleeping through the night,” it is sitting and letting them run circles or turning on the TV because you just don’t have the energy anymore, it is comforting your child when cliques start at preschool (really, already?), it is dinners thrown on the floor because it’s not what they want to eat, it is sitting up all night with sick children and then realizing you still have to make it through the next day…I could go on and on of course. Then of course there is everything you have to maintain a home and keep everyone dressed and fed: the endless laundry, the endless dishes, always having to think of what you’re making next for a healthy meal or snack, realizing only after you buy a new house how much yard work will be involved, putting toys away just so you are able to walk through a room, and that is of course the minimums. You rarely have a moment to yourself and for two introverts, that has become a source of resentment in a way. It makes finding quality time to spend as a couple nearly impossible. Then there’s the money…where does it go?! We went from a two income, two person family to a one income (mine is so negligible), four person family in a matter of 15 months. To maintain sanity, we eat out far more than we should. We bought a mini van to fit this family of 4 better for our long road trips to see family. We bought and moved to a bigger house and a much better school district…for the kids. We send them to preschool, which is of course more expensive down in this nicer area of town. The money stress is real. There’s always more too, whether it be a sick pet, a new medical diagnosis, impending surgery, new work obligations, etc, it never ends.

You may be thinking to yourself (since most of you are parents!), this is nothing new, we know this and deal with it every day. Here’s the kicker. I feel extremely guilty. We put so much work into becoming parents. We went through so much to adopt these two wonderful, adorable, smart, funny children. I don’t feel I have the right to feel overwhelmed or especially resentful. I should feel thankful and gracious that we have been given the gift to be these children’s parents. We were chosen, not only by God, but by a birth mother that loved them so much she knew she wanted the best for them and she wasn’t going to be able to provide that. I feel everyday that I just need to buck up and embrace the life I have been given…the life I wanted!…but it is sooo hard.  I chose to be a stay at home mom and I will never regret that decision, but I feel like I have lost a piece of myself. We have both struggled with depression off and on, trying to keep everything going and ultimately provide the most love and most opportunities we can for our children.

But, as Dory says, we “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” and try to keep our heads above water. The saving grace…our two beautiful children. That’s right, the thing that ultimately causes all the stress and struggles, they are the reason we keep going. It’s the joy on their faces when they see the beach for the first time. It’s the silly faces and dances they make up for you. It’s the “I love you” called out to you from their bedroom after you have tucked them in for the 5th time. It’s the cuddles and hugs. It’s the amazement on their faces when they learn something new. It’s the amazingly out of tune, but oh so cute, singing of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”. So, here it is…parenting is hard, so very, very hard…BUT…parenting is the most rewarding job I will ever do and I love this family we have created. I love Scott even more than ever as we struggle through and support each other in this new stage of life together. There will be some days that are harder than others, but we must try to wake up each morning and try again. Here’s to all the other parents struggling out there. Please know you’re not alone and please know that it doesn’t mean you don’t love your children. If you find yourself struggling more days than not, please seek help. We all need a little help now and then, and your children and family deserve the best you that you can be.


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ÔĽŅLife in Full Swing

HELLO! As I look back to the last post I realize that it has been 17 months since our last post…where has the time gone?!? Here are a few things that have happened since we left you last:


We Moved! – About the time of the last post, we realized that we would most likely send the kids to public school…then quickly realized that we would need to move to a better school district. We also realized that Eva could not bum on our bedroom floor every time Grandma and Grandpa came to visit, so a 4th bedroom became a must. We narrowed down our our preferred school districts, started going to open houses, and contacted a realtor. We put our house on the market March 5, 2014. We closed on our new house, June 12, 2015 and on our old house July 2, 2015. There were a few bumps along the way…and of course it was stressful…but we are incredibly happy in our new house! [Maybe Scott will update you all on the process some day when he has time…which may be in 15 years.]


Quinton – Our twelve year old dog, Quinton, did not seem to handle the move well. He started throwing up on almost a daily basis and began losing weight. We finally took him to the vet (a new one because Scott waited 5 hours at our old vet without being seen) in August 2015. After blood work and an x-ray, it was decided to do exploratory surgery. They found that Quinton had swallowed the tip of a corn cob! After an extremely difficult post-op recovery that included another $1000 and 3 trips to the emergency vet, he was back to his old self. We noticed we was putting the weight back on a little too well and was always hungry. By December he had quite a large belly. In January he bit me while I was trying to wrestle some garbage away from him. Off to the vet we went, where he was diagnosed with Cushings Disease. He is much better with his twice daily med and we hope he has a few more good years in him.

Another baby?! – In February of 2015, we received the news that Eva & Eli’s birthmom was pregnant again. She had a new boyfriend that seemed serious, and a job. Her plan was to parent. Unfortunately, things started to spiral out of control again…she had a nasty break up and lost her job. She even had her utilities shut off for a while. In August we received a call from the agency, birthmom is considering adoption again. Once again, Scott got the call…thank God! He shared the news with me and I think I muttered the “F” word a few times. Keep in mind, this is August when we are also dealing with all of Quinton’s medical issues. We started contemplating if we were ready to welcome another child into our lives in October…so we made a list of questions and emailed it to the agency. Scott received another call…we weren’t being considered, birthmom felt we were dealing with too much already. Our hearts sunk…apparently we were ready to welcome another child. We took the kids to the hospital to meet the new baby in October and a few weeks later we got a call from our social worker…the new adoptive family wanted our contact information! We have met them for dinner and they are wonderful. We are so happy to be able to make them a part of our extended family.

 Eva – Eva turned 4 in December. She is a joy. She is smart, inquisitive, loving (she’s my little cuddle-bug!), empathetic, sensitive, friendly, and happy (most of the time), although she has still lived up to her nickname, Eva the Diva. She likes drawing, dancing, singing, Legos, Doc McStuffins, My Little Pony, Barbies, playing outside, chocolate milk, and antagonizing her little brother (and the next moment she’s hugging him). She goes to preschool 4 days a week, takes gymnastics still, and takes ballet (or creative movement at this stage!). I can’t believe how she has grown. These years really do go by so fast. Those huge smiles have stayed with her through the years and they warm my heart.

 Eli – Eli will be 3 in two weeks. You will often hear me say, “He is all boy!” and yet he also dresses up in princess gowns and plays Barbies:-) He is smart, outgoing, funny (that boy can sure make you laugh!), energetic, opinionated, clumsy, and just fun to be around. His facial expressions crack me up! He likes dinosaurs, trains, Paw Patrol, music, dancing, reading, playing outside, jumping and climbing, very few foods, and antagonizing his sister right back. He goes to preschool 3 days a week (we tried 2, but he complained every time we dropped Eva off and didn’t drop him off too!) and take gymnastics. He keeps asking to take ballet with Evaūüėõ  Eli is no longer a baby, but he will always be my baby boy. He is not a hugger or cuddler, but that just makes his hugs all the more special.

Scott – Scott continues to work and then come home to work some more (aka being a parent). He helps out so much around here and we really share the load. Like most parents, trying to balance work, family, couple, and individual time leaves one severely sleep deprived. Hence, the reason this blog has gone un-updated as long as it has. The kids and I got him a basketball hoop for his birthday, and he finds it to be a great stress reliever (when the kids aren’t stealing the ball and playing keep away!).

Steph – I am stretched in a number of ways. My saving grace is the time the kids are in preschool and the fact I can still get them down for at least a quiet time most afternoons. I work two mornings a week doing the choir at the school I used to work at, I own a crafting business on Etsy and occasionally do craft fairs, I free lance as a musician playing gigs here and there (hasn’t been much lately), play in a volunteer symphony, am in the church choir, and take adult ballet for fun and fitness. This usually means I “go to work” in the evenings. I often sit back and realize that it’s way too much and I need to focus on being a mom and wife, but I’m afraid I will lose my identity…I am even considering if it’s time to go back to work…but that’s a post for another time! No matter what, I love my kids and family. I love that I have been able to take the time to be with them, and I don’t regret a moment of that. On top of all this, I was finally diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome…again, best to save for another post.

Well, that’s our last 17 months in a nutshell. I’m sure I have left something out, but it’s not coming to mind right now. Time marches on and we are just trying to hang on for the ride!

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Summer 2014 – The Neighbor’s Yard

So the story of our neighbor’s backyard starts back in what appears to be winter. ¬†Looking at it you’d think January. ¬†I checked the date on this photo and it reads April 15th. ¬†The house is the¬†cream colored one, with no trees, a useless deck ¬†and a backyard that slopes downhill. ¬†OK, its the one on the left. ¬†It’s not a great picture of their backyard, but you can see that yard slopes down pretty dramatically, it’s pretty hill and just overall useless.IMG_1066

So our neighbor decided to do something about it.  They ripped off that deck and leveled off the yard where they could.  They started in late April, our assumption that they wanted to complete it by Memorial Day.  The picture below was around Memorial Day, and as you can see, not done.  It may be hard to see, but the patio is poured.



You may see our concern at this point.  Summer 2014 was a very rainy Spring and early Summer.  Our yard has a drain, so when it gets too rainy a river develops.  Only now with the yard all tore up behind us, our river is filled with mud.




In late June the deck finally gets installed. ¬†You may notice that instead of dirt, there is gravel covering the ground. ¬†You’d think that this would help with the dirt flowing to our yard, and it did a little, but now instead of dirt, it’s dirt AND gravel coming into our yard. ¬†I use the gravel to fill in holes in our yard until I plug the holes at the top of our fence. ¬†Now it just builds up on our fence.


Gravel seeping through the fence



After our trip to Iowa, we get back in July. ¬†We didn’t realize that the deck was actually a UFO.



By late August, we’re still getting their dirt. ¬†And no progress made.



It’s now September, and the work has started up again. ¬†Look, they installed a pool! ¬†Perhaps by Summer 2015 the yard will be done.


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Summer 2014 – Outings

The summer is a great time to spend with the kids, but sometimes you need to get them out of the house. ¬†Here’s some pictures from some of the outings this summer.

Young’s Dairy


Eva’s ready to drive

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Hi goats!


This miniature golf this is easy, just grab the ball and put it in


The stare down


Eli dancing on the cart


Why yes, that’s our kids washing their hands in corn




¬†Did you know that Young’s uses cute kids as obstacles now?

Boonshoft Museum


It’s the Eli Display



Checking out the animals


Pretty sure I can figure out how to fly this…


Their favorite part of the museum was the trains.


Cars are cool

Here’s a few videos from the day





Heading home

 Splash Park


Not sure about the water





Let me show you how to do this Eli


 Oh, the water goes in the cup!

Wegerzyn Gardens


Hanging out under a tree


Give us some paddles!


Eli’s excited about being out


Eva loves the sandbox


Eli’s first sandbox





Checking out the ducks



“I got you Eli”


Wiped out

Sweet Corn Festival

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Summer 2014 – Uncle Dwight

Early summer¬†we received a call from my dad. Typically mom is the one calling, so you knew right away that something was up. My uncle Dwight had passed away. This came as a total shock to us. Dwight was my mother’s brother, the third child of four.

Every family should have a fun uncle, and Dwight was the fun uncle in mine. Dwight was the uncle that would get down on the floor and wrestle the kids, he had a bumper pool table and dart board in his living room, drove a motorcycle and even played in my silly Survivor Fantasy League (Survivor as in the reality show Survivor). He always worked the most interesting jobs including the post office and a gold mine. He bought an old elementary school and lived in it. How many uncles do you have that can ring a bell in the morning and play basketball in their own gym!


Dwight and me at the mini golf course



Bowling in the gym

Dwight was a fun and kind man. While every death is tragic, this one seems more so. He was in his early 60’s and his mother was still alive to see his passing. No mother should have to bury their child. It’s been especially tragic for my mother and her side of the family. In the past two years her brother’s wife and her father has lost their battles with cancer. Too much death for one family.

I sat back watching Eva and Eli play one morning. Eli is starting to communicate more and has grown enough to venture up and over different places in our house. Eva can now reach almost everything now and her language has just exploded. Their worlds just keep expanding everyday, which is just great.  However, when I sit back and look at my life,  everything just keeps shrinking.

When someone dies, many people evaluate their own lives at that moment. ¬†I suppose if I were to describe life now in one world, it would be hectic. ¬†So much going on all the time. ¬†Eli wakes us up early, work has been good but more taxing, I arrive home during the supper is getting ready melt downs, then the bedtime battles which leads to disaster zone clean up downstairs, dishes, laundry, snack, bed too late and start again tomorrow. ¬†I don’t want to look back at these times now and think of the hard work, the craziness and the things I didn’t get to do. ¬†I want to look back and remember the developments, the fun, and the love. ¬†Just like I remember Dwight.

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Summer 2014 – Iowa


We like to make a trip out to Iowa every summer to see the grandparents. ¬†This summer was no different. ¬†Mom and the kids went a week then I joined them for a second week there. ¬†Here’s the best photos from the two weeks.


Eva Sweeps


Eli sweeps


Eva does the dishes

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Eli waters the plants (wait, did they just do chores?!)


Eva at the petting zoo


Viewing the neighbors turtle








Did you know our kids love bubbles?


And Mac n Cheese


And trying on new shoes


Eva shows off her new sunglasses at Sturgis Falls


Eli looks for more kettle corn


¬†Want to play piano….and nap


Eli read to eat before everyone else


Brother and sister


Hey, how you doing?


 Rock Star (video)




 Like my hat?


 Happy to be in Iowa


Wiped out. ¬†Too much fun at Grandma and Grandpa’s.


Up to no good


Eva’s first glow stick


Eli’s first glow stick


Let me tell you a scary story

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4th of July Parade  Eli is excited for the trucks.


Eva is excited for America.  USA! USA!


Family Selfie


Picture with local celeb Sparky the Dog


Wouldn’t be the 4th without sparklers




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