God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

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God’s Plan

I have been trying to start this post for weeks now, but I could not seem to get the words to stop swirling in my head and compose themselves onto the page. Fourteen and a half years ago we adopted our first born, a 2 pound roly-poly bundle of joy…okay, okay, it was a miniature dachshund puppy who we named Quinton. BUT, he was our baby; he was our first born. Anyone that knows us personally knows that he was truly a member of our family. We had to say goodbye to him 3 and a half weeks ago. While we knew it was his time, and the decision wasn’t hard, I never could have imagined the grief I have been feeling. It has been palpable. That first night there was such a heaviness on my chest that I didn’t know how I could go on like this.

There were and still are reminders everywhere: his medicines, his food dishes, his food, his beds, the couch he loved to lay on, his favorite toy, his favorite sun spot…then there were the sympathy cards, picking up his ashes, getting the name plate in the mail, and getting an email reminder to refill his meds. I know this is all normal, but you see, this is our (both mine, Scott’s and the kids’) first experience with real grief, of losing someone that is a part of your everyday life. We have all been coping in our own ways and try to help each other as much as we can. We let the kids talk. Scott let’s me talk. We reminisce. We hug. We cry. We are slowing moving through it. However, Scott does so much to take care of all of us that I am never really sure how he is doing. He is a man of few spoken words, which you would never think as you read his work on this blog.

Yesterday, Feb. 2, Scott and I celebrated 22 years of being together. 22 years since we first started dating. We decided not to spend money on gifts this year. I surprised him with a date night at home: dinner, cake, movie, and games. He surprised me with cupcakes (which he bought only after selling some books. Cheater!) … and the letter I’m going to attach below. I love getting letters and poems from Scott as presents, as they offer a glimpse into his heart. It reminds me every day why God brought him into my life and why I married him. You see…it’s all been in God’s hands and we must faithfully believe that he will carry us through this time of grief as well.

Feb. 2, 2018 (From Scott to Steph)

Almost a month ago we lost Quinton, and today we still mourn his loss. I never expected it to be this hard, this devastating. He was an old dog whose end had been nearing for some time, a fact that we gradually became accustomed to. We cared for him the best we could, made sure that his time on this earth was safe, comfortable and loving. However, I failed to grasp the void he has left us in his passing. God gave us Quinton to get to this point of life and asked for his return; mission accomplished.

When Two Became One

We had been dating for 7 years when we got married, so marriage was supposed to be easy. We talked every day, knew each other’s quirks, and yet marriage is different. I left the cabinets open in the kitchen. You wanted to talk when I got home from work when I was used to decompressing a bit. I went to work in the summer, an oddity to a child of teachers.

We loved each other, and we didn’t fight, but still there was something missing. You were lonely during the day, I lacked motivation, and we both had more love to give.

God saw this and knew what we needed. “A puppy!” we thought. And God said, “Yes!  But not that one.” When we finally arrived at that pet store, and the store clerk handed us that 2 pound dappled dachshund, God said “He’s who I’ve chosen for you”. Had we arrived any later that day, he would have been gone.

Our little cutie (QT), Quinton was a handful to start with, as most puppies are. He required lots of attention, decisions and most of all love. He was a member of our family from the start, and united the 3 of us in ways we didn’t even know.

When Kids Get Involved

We always wanted kids, but we reached our thirties childless. Quinton filled much of that void, but still we had more love to give. I needed to move myself to accept that traditional family growth was not in our future no matter how long I waited, no matter how long I expected things to just “work out”.

We attended adoption classes that offered to explain what adoption was and wasn’t. We had adoptive parents come in and tell us their experiences, and when and how they knew they were ready. When would I be?  When would I know I could love this child as much as I could my own flesh?

The conversations on the road between home and class changed my mind, but Quinton changed my heart. Coming home to him every day and him loving me with his full heart every day, and me him, made me realize that God builds his families in many different ways, and that he has chosen adoption as our path.

When we brought Eva home that December day, Christmas Eve, we didn’t know what to expect from Quinton. Would he continue to be the protector of the home, barking at every intruder? Would he dismiss the baby, or would he treat her as a chew toy?

We brought her in and put her car seat down. He immediately sticks his head in, and says “Welcome home sister”. From that point he would be her protector, her buddy.

When God Moves Us … Literally

We have our family, and start to wonder if we need to find a great school district for our kids. So we start the process of preparing to move. We spends weeks/months cleaning our house, decluttering, etc. in order to put the house on the market. We tell ourselves we can’t seriously consider any houses until our house is on the market.

Houses we love keep selling. We find one we love (Pondview), and hope it holds out until we are ready. God says no, and it sells just before we are ready. We started the process thinking there were tons of houses that would be great for us, but when we finally reach market, nothing fits quite right.

God says “Be patient”, we say “Now!”. God says “I have a plan”, and we say “but we have ours!” The absolute perfect house (Linda) hits the market…but we are in Iowa. By the time we get back, it’s sold. God said, “It’s not right for you”, but we say “It’s perfect!”. We say “We know what we want!” and God says “I know what you need.”

We find a listing for a house that’s too good to be true: right next to a park, plenty of room and still on the market.  We walk through and that night we decide it’s the house we want. God says “Yes, but I need to really know this is your home.” Our “perfect” home is back on the market. We quickly schedule the walkthrough and know immediately…this isn’t our home. The other house is. God says “Yes, but you still don’t know why”.

Shortly after we moved in, Quinton began throwing up randomly. We assumed he had eaten something left behind by the previous owners, but it was continuing to happen. I took Quinton to our vet without an appointment, which meant waiting…And more waiting. After a half day of this, we decided to take him to a new vet near our new home.

Little did we know at the time, but this was just the start of Quinton’s health downturn. The throwing up was caused by a piece of corn cob that was stuck in his stomach, which led to surgery, which led to steroids during a rough recovery, which led to his Cushing’s diagnosis, then diabetes, then blindness, then deafness, then a lipid deposit on his eye, and then his eye rupturing and requiring another surgery. This end of life path was tough, but was made so much better because he had the care he deserved at the new veterinarian’s office. They cared for him, fought for him, boarded him, did all they could for him, and most of all loved him like he was part of their family. We never would have had their care if Pondview was available, or if we had seen Linda when first on the market, etc.

God is Dog

God may have made man in his image, but he made dog in his spirit. A dog will love you no matter your flaws and will be with you forever when you open your heart to them. When God brought Quinton into our lives, he served as a constant reminder of Him. “I will love you unconditionally. I will guard you and our home. I will make you a better person if you let me.” It’s no wonder that when Quinton left this world, the void seemed so much bigger than “just a dog”. He was family, and he was a gift from God.

We mourn in silence, we mourn together, and we know that we mourn so intensely because we were blessed to have had Quinton in our lives for so long.

In memory of Quinton Klein
August 29, 2003 – January 10, 2018


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The time has come…

Happy New Year to you all! Once again it has been a while, but while it has been busy (as life always seems to be these days), it has been pretty uneventful. Unbelievably, Eva turned 5 right before Christmas! That’s right, we were blessed with this wonderful miracle 5 years ago already. Where has the time gone?

As she has grown, she has also started to ask more questions about her family and her beginning. People often ask us: Do the kids know they are adopted? Do they see or talk to their birth mother? How much do they understand about adoption? My replies often follow something like this: “We have regular contact with their birth mother. We speak of adoption and how they were in her tummy, but she was unable to care for them, so she asked us to be their mommy and daddy. However, I don’t know how much they actually understand.” Eva has said things in the past that makes us think she understands quite a bit, but we aren’t sure. She has also recently started talking more about her sisters and about missing them.

Well, tonight it happened and I wasn’t quite prepared. We were sitting and coloring…just the two of us…and she starts talking about her older sister, the one that lives with their birth mother. I’m not paying really close attention because this is not something unusual for her. Then I hear something about what it was like when she (Eva) lived with them. I calmly respond, “Oh honey, you didn’t ever live with them. You have only lived with us.” Eva, while still coloring, says, “She just gave us to you because she didn’t want us?” I look up from coloring and my heart breaks. This is the exact thing we are supposed to protect adopted children from thinking and feeling. They were not rejected! They were loved! They were so loved that their birth mother knew she wanted better for them! I look at her, with my heart pounding, thinking, I can’t screw this up. This is the moment. Why didn’t I prepare better for this? Once again, I calmly responded, “Of course she wanted you! She loved you so much, but she didn’t have a place to live and she didn’t have the things to take care of you. She wanted you to have a place to live forever where you would be loved and cared for the way she wanted you to be.” Eva continues to color and doesn’t say anything, so I ask, “Is it okay that you live with us?” She looks up briefly and says with a smile, “Yes! I just miss my other family…my old mommy, daddy, and sister.” With all sincerity, I say, “It’s okay to miss them and they will always be your mommy, daddy, and sister. We are just your mommy and daddy, too.”

That was it. The conversation was over. She began talking about the nutcracker she was coloring. The moment was gone. As I reflect back I wonder if I handled it right, if I made her feel secure and loved. I also know this is only the beginning. The strange thing in it all is that I meant every single word. It is okay for her to miss her birth family. They are her mommy and daddy, too. When we first started this process I thought I would be so jealous and insecure about my kids having another family, but now that I’m living it I know how important it is for their sense of identity and well being. And still, she is my daughter and he is my son. Every fiber of my body and mind respond as if they are my own flesh and blood. Five years later, I thank God for the opportunity to know this kind of love.

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All up in my feelings…

As the kids are getting older, I started to worry that I would not have any adoption related stories and information to share. I am beginning to understand that every chapter of their lives will bring new adoption emotions and situations. Good news is that means the blog will keep going 🙂

A few weeks ago, I was perusing Facebook, only to see a post written by the newest birth sibling’s adoptive mother (I hope you followed that description, you might have to read over it a couple times to understand who I’m talking about.) The post began: “2nd trimester cravings…”. My heart began to pound, and I began reading the comments to make sure I really understand it correctly. Sure enough, it appears she is pregnant with their 3rd child (they had one biological child before adopting). Anger welled up inside me. I was furious and hurt. But why???? Shouldn’t I be happy for her? Of course I should be. It’s wonderful news! But I’m not happy, I’m angry…and now, very confused. I tell Scott the news and he says something along the lines of, “Wow! They are going to be close in age. Probably 15 months like ours!” I try to explain to him my feelings, but I don’t understand them enough myself to express them. I try to push it to the back of my mind and move on.

A few days later I’m on a walk with a friend and ask her about it. She says, “Well, are you worried that ‘Grace’ (not her real name) will be left out and and not loved as much being the only adopted child and the middle child?” I was floored! How could I ever think that? I love my kids like MY kids! There is no difference. And yet, something about that statement nagged at me. Now, based on other information I have regarding the family, I believe this was probably an unplanned pregnancy. However, I think there is a part of me that feels like ‘Grace’ should be with us. Somewhere deep in the dark places of my brain, it feels like this mother does not care enough for ‘Grace’. She is replacing her with a biological child. She is going to get lost in the middle. She will have trouble identifying with her siblings later in life and feel like an outsider. With us she would have had where she came from in common with her siblings. Even writing this I feel like a horrible person for even thinking all this. I know ‘Grace’ is loved. I know she is in the right place. She even looks like her older sibling…not really like our kids at all. I pray that all will work out, and she will be a beam of sunshine in the middle of their family.

I think the anger…and sadness…also came from another place that I have buried for the past 5 or 6 years. That place where I thought that maybe someday that would be us. That someday we would add a biological child of our own. I am truly happy with my family. I would be happy to consider our family complete. I could not imagine Eva and Eli not a part of our life. They bring a joy I didn’t know if I would every experience. However, last night after bath, I looked at Eva and saw her birthmom…she is the spitting image of her. It reminds me that no matter how much we love them, there is someone out there that loved them first; someone that loved them enough to give them life and to know they wouldn’t be able to give them everything they needed; someone that chose us. My joy started with someone else’s greatest sadness. I know someday our kids will question us. Someday they will use the hurtful excuse, “But you’re not my real mom.” I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that one even though I know it will happen. We knew all this when we chose to adopt, but I thought my yearning to would stop. I think, as a woman, because I didn’t do the hard work to bring them into this world, I almost feel like I have missed out on a part of motherhood. Sometimes I feel like less of a mother because I didn’t endure 9 months and a painful labor. There is that awkward part of mom group conversations where they talk about their labors…while I can add information about the kid’s birth stories, the labor was not mine. There is also that biological clock that I can hear ticking away deep in the recesses of my body. Now that I am 35, time is beginning to run short. I have told Scott I will get rid of all the baby stuff when I turn 40. Five years left…

Unfortunately, for anyone reading this post looking for answers, I’m sorry. I don’t have any. I’m just putting my feelings out there because hopefully I’m not alone. As happy as adoption has made me, there are still emotions I struggle with. Emotions that I think only adoptive mothers may fully understand.

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Adoption Day – A Day to Celebrate!

Okay, so it has been a while again. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good excuses. Believe it or not, we started this blog over 5 years ago now! When we started, we had no idea where this process would lead. Five years later we have two wonderful children that happen to be biological siblings as well. Even five years later, I still stand back and ask myself, how did this happen?! Am I really a mom?! In the days after Eva was born and we brought her home, it was almost surreal. Not sure if this happens to moms when they give birth as well, but I remember thinking over and over, “is this real?” Being in the day to day chaos of raising two toddlers, we often lose sight of just how lucky we are. Today is a day to step back and let it all sink in.

Four years ago today, Eva’s adoption decree was signed. She became a part of our family forever. We have never really celebrated this day before. It has been on the calendar, but sadly, we have never made a big deal out of it.

I had thought about writing a post, and I still will at some point, about how much our kids know about their adoptions and their birth family, but in the process of discussing that post with Scott, we ended up having an interesting discussion. I happened to mention to him that while I know our kids are adopted and I am thankful for them, I don’t find myself thinking about adoption every day. Most days, they are just my kids…not my adopted kids. Remembering back to the adoption class we took as we started this journey, the adoptive parents often spoke of this exact thing. One said something along the lines of, “We would never introduce our kids, ‘this is our son Ryan, and this is our adopted son Jake,’ they are just our kids. There is no difference in our minds.” I was feeling proud of the fact that I truly felt like these kids had fully enveloped my heart and made me feel like the mother I thought I may never be. As I said that initial statement, that I don’t think about the fact they are adopted every day, Scott shocked me by replying, “I know. I was going to write our five year blog anniversary post about that. About how this whole journey and blog started out so focused on adoption and now it’s barely part of our daily thoughts.” Wh…what? I was stunned. I immediately felt like the worst adoptive mother in the world. How could we have such different views of how the kids and adoption fit into our daily lives now? Was I wrong? Was I supposed to be thinking about the fact they are adopted every day? My mind was spinning. Unfortunately, we never really came to a resolution over these statements, so I was left to contemplate this further.

Here’s what I think, I think that I am right in thinking how wonderful it is that I feel the kids are mine, not my adopted kids…just my kids. I have every right to feel like their mother. I have raised them since birth and they called me mom before we even started discussing their birth mother with them. If I think of them simply as my adopted kids, then I am disconnecting myself from them, from the personalities and skills that I have influenced in them, from both their good and bad habits I have helped instill. While they may have a separate DNA from me, they are my kids and I have shaped them, just as their DNA has shaped them. However, here’s what I think Scott was saying. I think he was saying that we don’t celebrate their adoption enough. We don’t talk about their adoption story enough. We don’t speak of their birth family enough. Don’t get me wrong, we do each of these, just probably not enough. The kids have books about adoption, we speak of and visit with their sisters and their birth mother, who they call [firstname]-mommy, and they have pictures up of them in their rooms. But it’s days like today, Eva’s Adoption Day, that we forget to celebrate. So, I took the first step and posted the picture above on Facebook today and announced that we would be celebrating today. For the first time ever, I did not block their birthmom from seeing a post related to their adoption. I never knew if it would bring back too many difficult memories and emotions for her, but today I let it go. And believe it or not, she was one of the first to love the post and comment on it! I think knowing that we have her blessing in our joy, gives us even more reason to celebrate. So, today we will celebrate. Today we will tell Eva her adoption story again and we will rejoice in the fact God brought her to this world and gave us the opportunity to be a part of our family. We love you, Eva!


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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Life 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 Eva 😛  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!