16 Notes for 16 Weeks

photo (15)Yesterday was the start of my 16th week so it’s time for round two of Notes for Weeks!  Man those weeks are flying by.  Baby is going to be here before I know it, and I don’t even have any paperwork or travel planning to do.  Woohoo!

1. Almost Feeling Kicks.  Last week at our midwife appointment baby was kicking up a storm.  I couldn’t feel it, but we could hear it while listening for the heartbeat!  In the last few days, on the side we heard baby, I have been feeling some pressure.  It was like the baby was stretching out and pushing against my tummy.  Or at least how that felt, not quite kicking, but almost!

2. B12 is My Favorite Thing Ever.  I have been waking up around 4:00-4:30 every morning for the last four days or so.  And guess what?  I feel a ton better than I did when I was sleeping in till 7:00am!  I contribute it to my new favorite friend, B12, who I mentioned before was coming back into my life.  I don’t know why I ever let it leave in the first place!  I am in love with my whole food vitamins and won’t ever take a chemical based vitamin again.  The difference really is night and day.

3. Embryo Adoption.  One of my favorite blogger mamas is adopting again… this time they are adopting four little ones… very, very little ones.  She and her husband are taking a leap of faith into the world of embryo adoption.  I encourage you to check out her fantastic blog.  This issue is something we really need to be discussing as Christians.  What is embryo adoption, what isn’t it, and as people who value life in every stage – how do we approach embryo adoption Biblically and ethically?  Or can we at all?  There is a lot of confusion and controversy over whether or not it is moral for Christians to be involved with such things.  I am hoping to put my thoughts together in a blog sometime soon.

4. A Note on Attachment.  Because I wrote very openly about our attachment with Jacob in a previous post, I wanted to address it just briefly.  Please know that we are doing great for the short amount of time we’ve been home, and we really couldn’t be happier with the newest additions to our family.  We are slowly and surely making gains in this area, but we are also realizing that we need to be very cautious of his needs and limits.  There are so many people who want to love on our sweet new kiddos, and I love that.  Unfortunately, some love is just too much for a child who doesn’t yet know proper boundaries.  I’m trying to think of a tactful way to address this with everyone, pray for wisdom for me on this.  It’s so hard to ask people to step back from their generous heapings of love on these precious kiddos who have never had it at all.

5. Baptism Next Week!  For all those who are local, we invite you to join us on Sunday the 31st at 10:00am for the Baptisms of our sweet Jacob and Hope.  Our family will be hosting a light lunch in the fellowship hall immediately following the service (cake included of course!) and make sure to bring a casual change of clothes for a fun water party after that.  If you have kids, bring their swimsuits or something you don’t mind them getting all wet in!  We will also have plenty of extra sets of play clothes on hand in case anyone forgets.  Please come join the fun!  We are so excited to celebrate Jacob and Hope’s adoption into God’s family.

6. Cuddle Time.  I took this picture this morning before Church.  Hope was playing on the floor and Jacob cuddled up next to her.  Just too precious not to share, right?

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7. Sisters and Friends.  Speaking of siblings, Hope seems to be attaching amazingly to Evangeline and vice versa!  Evie is so attentive and loving toward her, and Hope just soaks it all up.  Stephen will help, and Jacob is becoming more interested in that too, but Evie is always going over just to spend time and play with her.  She lets me know if she needs something and runs off to get her favorite toys if they got left in another room.  Evie loves to tell people about Hope and how sweet and pretty her new sister is.  They love sharing a room and are already getting into trouble for giggling during quiet time!  We were told by people before we adopted Hope that if we brought her home her extra needs would ruin our other children’s lives… I’m pretty sure Evangeline would heartily disagree.

The picture below is from the other morning.  Evie had woke up at 4am crying, so Hope was awake too.  Neither could fall back asleep, so I took them downstairs.  They cuddled, “read” stories, and laughed together for an hour while I cleaned.  Watching these two bond is one of my greatest joys.

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8. Stimming.  I have mentioned a little bit about Hope’s stimming behaviors.  They’re getting better.  She no longer does them 24/7 and it’s usually only when she’s tired, overwhelmed, bored or frustrated.  It used to be all she thought about, but now she is learning that there is a huge, big world to enjoy; she is more comfortable and we are seeing less of the self-harming.  It still happens a lot, but it’s no longer constant, and for that progress we’re grateful!

9. We Made it to Church!  This morning we attempted church again, and we did great.  I was so proud of all my kiddos.  Hope was overstimulated and struggled a bit, but we managed well enough.  We had help from a few lovely people during the service for which we are very grateful!  This is one of those times where I really wish my husband was in the pew with me and not the pulpit, but I estimate in a few weeks we will be able to make it through an entire service on our own.  At least hopefully before baby comes, right? :)

10. Round Ligament Pain.  Yes, ouchies.  Random little movements make it feel like I just pulled every muscle in my abdomen.  Round ligament pain is the worst thing about the second trimester, in my humble opinion.  It’s been making me pull back even more from holding the little ones, which is tough.  But praising God that this is the only real discomfort I’m dealing with so far!  This has been such an easy pregnancy up to this point, and for that I’m incredibly thankful.

11. No Matins Yet.  Sigh… I know I mentioned it before… but we’re not there yet.  Maybe this week.  Trying again :)

12. Gaining More Weight.  Hope and I are in a contest to see who can gain weight the fastest.  Unfortunately, I’m winning, but she’s making progress too!  She gained a whole other pound this week and we are certain she has some new inches on her also!  She looks and feels taller than she used to.  Can’t wait for her next check up to see where she’s at!

13. Routine Game.  One of the best moments of my week.  I was making dinner and went into the family room to see the three kiddos sitting on the floor in a circle doing a “bedtime routine” for their “babies” (who happened to be Noah’s ark animals…).  They did everything exactly like we do every night.  They sat on “their” (couch) pillows and “read” stories.  Next they sang hymns from their “hymnal” (Amelia Bedila book).  Although Evie has a few memorized so she actually was singing hymns.  Then they folded their hands and prayed the Apostle’s Creed, Lord’s Prayer and Luther’s Evening Prayer.  Last they sang our bedtime hymn, “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow”.  They sat still and attentively for twenty minutes reinacting that together!  I was amazed.  I wish they could do that at nighttime too :)

14. Blog Needs Updates.  If you haven’t noticed my sidebar and the pages on my blog are still incomplete and pretty outdated.  I want to get everything set up, but I will probably have to take a week off of blogging to do that.  I’ll give you all a heads up when that happens so you can know not to expect any updates for a few days while “construction” is going on. :)

15. Thinking of Taking the Plunge Again… the Whole 30 plunge.  I miss eating healthy; it’s really good for the baby.  I want to start up again.  Planning on doing a round beginning next week after the Baptism, let me know if you’d like to do the 30 day challenge with me for some accountability!  The more the merrier I always say!

16. Please Continue to Pray.  We are still in need of 114 more signatures on this petition in order for people to be able to find it in a search on the White House website.  This is so important, and we need to reach that milestone quickly to have a chance at reaching the volume of signatures needed for President Obama to release a statement.  Please, please sign if you haven’t already and share this with others you know.  The precious lives of our Christian brothers and sisters, and those of their children, are at stake.  If you have already signed, thank you!  Please continue to pray.

15 Notes for 15 Weeks

photo (12)I am 15 weeks along in my pregnancy now (well, 15 and 3 days but who’s counting?) so to celebrate I am starting up a new series called Notes for Weeks!  For every week along that I am, for the rest of the pregnancy, I will blog the same number of little tidbits about our life.  I’m excited because it will give me a reason to do a baby bump picture every week and also give me the opportunity to blog about a lot of random little things I’ve been wanting to say, but that don’t really warrant their very own post.  Ok, ready?!  Here goes!

1. Thank YOU!  Yes this first note is for you, all of you lovely people (thousands and thousands) who have read my previous post “Adoption is Not Love” and who have shared it with other families.  My only goal in writing that was to maybe help a handful of people realize that they were not alone on this crazy ride, and their feelings are totally normal and expected.  I hoped that others who knew adoptive families would get a glimpse into what their friends and neighbors might be going through.  But ya’ll, it took off!  Never have any of my posts had so many views, and such an overwhelmingly positive response.  Thank you for sharing; it has reached so many more than I ever imagined it would, and I am honored that God used this little blog to touch other families who needed that bit of encouragement.  People have asked, and yes, please do share!

2. A Quick Request.  I assume we are all aware by now of the crisis facing Christian and Yazidi minorities in Iraq and Syria during this time.  The Islamic State (ISIS) has taken over a vast amount of geographical area and has massacred thousands upon thousands of men, women and children.  Some from the affected areas managed to escape to a nearby mountain, where they are dying of hunger and thirst in the scorching heat.  Parents are being forced to choose between watching their children die this slow, painful death, be captured by ISIS or throw them off of the mountain  themselves to avoid such evil ends.  Friends, we can do something.  We can do more.  Sending money is good, but this might even be better.  Please sign this petition to grant these refugees asylum in the United States, which has been refused at this point.  We need at least 150 signatures for the petition to be searchable and have a shot at reaching the White House.  It only takes ten seconds, really.  I beg you to add your voice to ours.  Click here to sign the petition.

3. Our Littlest Girl is Catching Up!  Hope is now a whopping 30lbs!  She has gained five pounds since we took her out of her orphanage, and her thighs and upper arms are definitely showing a little chub.  We are over-the-moon for this milestone and next we are going to work on getting her on the height/weight chart!  Just four more pounds to go and she will be at least on the chart and on her way to a healthy weight.

4. Baby Stuff!  I had my very first prenatal appointment with the midwife yesterday.  It went fabulously; she is a lovely lady and has 36 years of experience.  Not to mention she lives less than ten minutes from us, so hopefully we won’t have another unassisted birth like last time!  My official due date is February 7th.  Seven is my favorite number and also the day of the month I was born on, so I was pretty happy with that.   Evangeline came with me and we had a great little Mommy-Daughter date.

5. Nicknames for Mom.  I can never remember being called anything other than “Mommy”  (baby babbling not included).  But recently I seem to have developed all sorts of other nicknames from my littles.  The first new one was “Mama”, the Russian word for Mommy that Jacob calls me and the others picked up.  Then next, he started shortening it to “Mom”… and so did everyone else.  Jacob and Evie’s voices are practically indistinguishable shouting that from another room so I never know who it is!  Mom is probably the only one I don’t like so much.  It sounds too grown up for my little ones to say… and they usually say it when they’re, ya know, shouting from another room.

But, there are two names, in particular, that have stolen my heart: Momitchka and Momanee.  Momitchka is a name Jacob started calling me a few days ago.  I was so touched, because from my limited Russian I know that adding “itchka” to the end of a name is an endearing thing to call a person who is close to you; it’s intimate and reserved for family, someone in your very inner circle.  I knew we were truly beginning to bond when I heard him say that, almost brings tears to my eyes just thinking of it.  Momanee is something that Stephen came up with out of nowhere and has been saying for a few weeks.  He always does it in this loud, sing songy toddler way, with a huge smile on his face, and it totally melts my heart.

6. Her First Real Cry.  Our sweet Hope is such a strong kid, she is a survivor if I’ve ever met one.  Here’s the thing, she has a hard time crying, as in it doesn’t happen.  Before this week I had seen her cry once – one time.  We were in the hospital and her stomach was in knots after eating (before we figured out what to cut out of her diet).  She was in so much pain that she sobbed for fifteen minutes.  I called in the doctor because I knew that it was totally not normal for her.  Jake had seen her cry before too, but only from pain.  She couldn’t cry because she was stressed.  If she is stressed enough to need that release she literally has to hit herself (hard enough to probably break things) to initiate tears.  Until this week.

I was putting on her knee immobilizers for the first time since we had been home from the hospital.  She was terrified of them, probably because they are restraining and she remembered them every day at the hospital.  I was trying to comfort her and keep her legs straight enough, no easy task.  I was able to keep her from hitting herself though, and then the saddest and most amazing thing happen.  She burst into tears!  It’s always hard to see your babies crying, but I was so thankful that she actually had a real cry just from stress alone and didn’t need to hit herself to do it.  It was a short lived cry, but a much needed one.  Here is a picture after she settled in.  Her sister was very attentive to her the whole time she wore them and Hope was never short a toy to play with!

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7. So Tired.  That is pretty much where I’m at.  I’ve been trying to wake up around 5ish… sleeping in until six or seven instead.  And I am still totally exhausted.  Hoping some B Vitamins will help.  All four of my children have been sleeping through the night for the first time in years so why exactly am I having this problem?  Sigh… so frustrating.

8. Baby Food Time!  I know, I know… I am still working on that post, promise.  Planning on doing some veggies tonight and then I will be ready to finish the draft and post!  Can’t wait to share some recipes and tips for delicious, nutritious pureed food.  Every time I make any my two year old asks for tastes!  Craziness…

9. Double Baptism!  We said before that Jacob would be the only one needing a Baptism, but unfortunately we were never able to get Hope’s orphanage to bother to actually find any confirmation of her baptism.  So, being uncertain, we will simply baptize her here with Jacob.  The ceremony will be on Sunday morning the 31st and I am having so much fun planning it!

10. The Only Bad Thing About…  exclusively breastfeeding?  Your children never learn proper etiquette for feeding their baby dolls.  Propping bottles and all.  Oops, better teach them some bottle safety!

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11. Routines and Things.  Our routine is still going strong at about the same place we’ve been for two weeks.  Really hoping to add in more than just meals, nap and bedtime routine every day.  Although, trying to be grateful that we have that down.  Our next goal is Matins in the morning during the week.  It’s great church practice for the kiddos, as we get to do it in the sanctuary, and a lovely devotion for the start of each day.

12.  Hymnody and Love.  I am really beginning to believe that beautiful hymns are a love language.  Hope perks up every time we sing them.  Jesus Loves Me is her favorite, and she gets the hugest smile when I sing “Let’s His little Zhanna come in…”  She has the best smile ever.  Also, when she starts getting agitated, Evangeline will go to her and sing her the hymns she knows.  Her go-tos are: Lamb of God, Glory be to Jesus and Jesus Loves Me (of course).  The most beautiful thing in the world is a young child singing comfort into the life of another.

13.  Raw Milk Deliciousness.  So glad to be back home to our raw milk farmer friends!  It’s a half hour drive, totally worth every drop.  I cannot speak highly enough about raw milk and so glad to have it for the kids’ diets!  Not to mention this particular milk is the most delicious I’ve ever tasted, and I don’t have to feel bad about drinking a glass every day.  It’s the little things in life…

14.  Shout Out To… the best husband in the world.  Mine.  Why?  Just because.  He’s an amazing father, husband, pastor and friend.  I just don’t tell him enough how great he is so, I’ll say it now.  You are the best!  Can’t believe I get to love you for the next bazillion years. :)

15. Last but Not Least.  For all those who’ve helped bring our little ones home, please know that we are forever grateful.  Even though it might take that long for your thank  you to arrive in the mail… ahem.  We really are working on them with the little bits of time we have here and there.  Know that we have not forgotten you or the amazing love you have shown our family.  I could not imagine being more blessed by so many.

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