Sparkling Stars

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Today at our church's Advent Festival, the kids preschool choir group, the Glory Bees, had a little performance. Ace had really been practicing the song and was ready to perform. I really wasn't sure whether or not Archie would actually be up there with the group. I knew that he would want to perform (especially when he saw his sister up there), but I just wasn't sure how it would go.

Well, once we got there I realized there was going to be no chance of keeping him off of the stage. He was so excited. Check out my little "sparkling stars".

They did awesome! I love how serious Ace is about these things. VERY serious. There is really no messing around. And Archie actually stayed up there, in his spot the whole time. Huge accomplishment. I was most proud that when he noticed the really cool light on the floor in front of him, he refrained from getting down on the ground and messing with it. That took some serious self control. I saw his eyes the minute he noticed that light, and I could just see the wheels spinning in his head. Oh he wanted to touch that light. But he knew he wasn't supposed to. My favorite part is at about 1:17. Right after he spotted the light, he kind of grabbed Ace's shoulder and then signed (his version of) "good boy". It was like he was telling himself, "No, Archie, don't do it! Be a good boy". Progress baby. That is major progress.

Lots of Love!

For Joseph

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Today was Archie's first Thanksgiving. It was an absolutely perfect day and clearly I have so much to be thankful for. I really cannot even believe how blessed I am.

But tonight's post is dedicated to a friend who I am especially thankful for. Mandy. The story of my connection with Mandy goes way back. It all starts with a little boy. One who I happen to love very, very much.

When Joey and I were talking about adopting, and looking at the precious faces on Reece's Rainbow, there was one little face we really fell in love with. I couldn't get him off of my mind for a long time. We prayed for sweet "Isaac" every night.

Then Archie was put in front of us and we knew that he was our son. There was no doubt. We committed to Archie and that was that. But as days went by I felt something was missing, something wasn't right. I couldn't stop thinking about Isaac. On a whim, just out of curiosity, I emailed the director of Reece's Rainbow to find out where Isaac was. First I found out he was in the same country as Archie. No way were they in the same orphanage though.....There are so many orphans, so many orphanages in Bulgaria, the odds were slim to none. No way. WRONG. I found out they were indeed in the same orphanage. They had been together their entire lives. They were buddies. Practically brothers. I was so confused. Was Isaac supposed to be our son as well? I thought for sure that was what all this had meant. A bunch of crazy coincidences? I did not think so.

For a long time, we thought Isaac would be coming home with us. We thought this was a child God had chosen to be our son, and we were not about to leave him behind.

As we got closer to traveling for our first trip, something was wrong. I didn't want to admit it, but I knew that Isaac would not be coming home with us. I was confused, torn, really beside myself. I just knew that it wasn't what was best for our family, or for Isaac.

So we headed to Bulgaria to meet Archie, knowing that we would also meet Isaac, and that we would leave him behind. I really can't explain the emotions I felt when I first laid eyes on him. I held him tight, told him that I loved him very much and that I was so sorry I couldn't bring him home, and that I would do everything I could to find him a family. Ace loved on him quite a bit. Here she is about to give him a big kiss on the cheek.

While we were there, Isaac had his sixth birthday. We celebrated with him. We had cake, sang happy birthday in Bulgarian. They have a tradition at the orphanage where they go around the room and ask everyone what their wish is for the child that year. Of course my heart broke when they got to me, and through lots of tears I said that I wished his family would find him.

I took lots of pictures of him, knowing very well that a good picture for a child's profile on their photolisting can be their lifeline. When we got back from our trip, I sent the best pictures of him to the director of Reece's Rainbow, and she made this one his new picture....

I prayed that someone would see that face and would come for him. I had so much doubt though. He was six, so he was considered an "older boy". Not to mention he was tiny. Less than 20 pounds. It seemed hopeless. I knew firsthand how much he needed a family. He needed to be rescued.

Two days later. Two days after the picture I took in Bulgaria was put on his profile- his mom and dad found him. Mandy and Marty had been committed to adopt another little boy from Bulgaria, and then when they saw this picture- they knew he was also their son.

I think I figured out why this all played out the way it did. I like to think of myself as a bit of a guardian angel for Isaac for those few months. I loved him like he was my own son, so I was checking in on him all the time. I was in close contact with one of his main caretakers, and I was constantly checking in on his progress, making sure he was being well taken care of. I worried about him all the time. Also, if I hadn't fallen in love with him like I had...If I hadn't even known of him before going to the orphanage, I would have never taken all the pictures of him. His picture would not have been changed on Reece's Rainbow, and his mom might have somehow missed him. It all happened just as it was supposed to happen.

Mandy and Marty got to spend their Thanksgiving with him. Their son, who they have named Joseph.

In just a few hours, Mandy and Marty will say goodbye to Joseph and head to a different city, a different orphanage to meet their other son, Samuel. This is the hardest part. Leaving them behind. It is scary. You feel sick to your stomach most of the days in between. It hurts.

Follow along with the Rhodes Family as the journey to bring their precious sons home continues.

Adoption is crazy expensive and the Rhodes could use our support. Check out different ways to make a contribution on their blog. Even just $5. Skip one Starbucks or smoothie. It will go a long way for them!

We love you, sweet Joseph, and cannot wait to see you home with your forever family!

So thankful for Joseph and his awesome mom and dad.

Lots of Love and THANKS!


Round Here

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A lot has been going on with us this last week. Archie's shag was getting pretty wild, and like his sister, he does not like for me to mess with it at all, so I decided it was time for a cut. I have always cut Ace's hair myself, and I really wanted to cut his, but he would not sit still for me at all, so I decided to take him to get a real haircut.

Here is the before......
He sat very still during the cut. I thought about leaving it at a mullet at one point. I hear the mullet's making a comeback.....

But Archie very much has his own opinion and sense of style. I had him look through a book of hairstyles while we were waiting, and he really wanted the spiked-up, mohawk look. He was quite adamant. So here is what we ended up with.....

Of course, Ace had to get a haircut too, since her brother was getting one. Her first "real" haircut. (As in not done by me). I really cannot believe I paid fifteen bucks for the lady to pretty much pretend to cut her hair. I would have been fine with her taking a good bit off, but I really think she just snipped the scissors in the air around Ace's head a few times and called it a day. Oh well. Ace did great and felt like a really big girl.

As soon as Archie got out of his chair he ran to show Ace his new do. Ace said, "wow Archie, I love it, you look so cute!"

All done!

We don't use quite as much gel as the hairdresser guy did, but Archie loves to stand in the mirror in the morning and spike it up. Here is how he does it. What a stud.

Oh the things Ace does to him........and how he loves it!

We had a flag football game with some friends up at church the other day. Archie had his first football experience. He was pretty excited!

Yesterday, Ace had a little Thanksgiving performance at her school. When they started walking in, she was the first one in line. She didn't look too happy. When they got up there, Joey and I were making ultra cheesy faces at her, thumbs up, the whole nine yards, but she wouldn't crack a smile. In fact, she was on the brink of tears.

I had no idea why she was so upset, but her teacher told me afterwards that she was really nervous and was crying in line just before they walked out. She sucked it up and sang all the songs like a champ though. Just a little stage fright. When we got home, I asked her why she was crying before the performance, and she said, "cause I just wanted to kiss you." Sweet baby girl, that is a good reason.
She was all smiles when the show was over. Here she is with her friend Avery back in their classroom.

And in the biggest news of the week........We moved! It all came up pretty quickly. Long story short, we moved just across the freeway from where we were- seriously could throw a rock from our house to where we are now. We needed to feel confident and comfortable with the public elementary school we were zoned to (since Archie will soon be a public school boy) and we just didn't have that where we were living. Now we do. Archie will go to Bunker Hill next semester. So we moved from our little house with a big back yard (the thing I will miss the most), to an apartment with a big pool right out front (the thing the kids are most excited about).
The kids really LOVE it! And actually, Joey and I do too. We have a lot of space and the best thing to them--stairs. There is nothing more hilarious to them than one kid standing at the top of the stairs and the other standing at the bottom, while the one at the top throws all of the stuffed animals down to the one at the bottom.

Every night, Ace wakes up in the middle of the night and comes and gets in bed with me and Joey. Every single night. She has always slept with us since she was born. And I love it, but I was so worried about our bedroom being downstairs and hers being up, and her having to go downstairs at night. I really lost sleep over it many nights before we moved in. So I was thrilled when we went to look at the apartment just a few days before moving in, to find that the master was actually upstairs. (We hadn't seen our exact apartment before that point, just one similar). So Joey and I are upstairs, with Ace next door, and Archie is downstairs in a giant bedroom that is doubling as their playroom. It all worked out perfectly. We put two twin beds together in Ace's bedroom so that she has a big king sizeish bed. She loves it. And she looks so tiny in it.

Anyway, we are happy. And exhausted.

Lots of Love!

3 Months

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It is hard to believe that just three months ago today, I was standing in the airport, more anxious than I have ever been in my entire life, waiting to hug my son. The anticipation was insane.

And the joy that Ace and I felt when he finally stepped through those doors with his Daddy, was absolutely overwhelming.
Our little superstar

Finally home.

Right where he belonged.

It feels like Archie has been with us forever. He continues to blow us away with how quickly he is learning. He is so happy, and joy-filled.
Each night before bed, Archie reminds us that we need to kiss him. He won't go to sleep until everyone has given him a kiss. Those simple things remind me where he came from. It reminds me that he didn't have a family to kiss him goodnight for his first 7 years. It reminds me of all the precious children going to sleep tonight without any kisses.
We are just so thankful that we get to kiss him goodnight. Every single night.

Lots of Love!

"Ace's Baby"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about Ace's heart for orphans. She talks about them everyday. Her compassion at just three years old really blows me away. So I sat down with Ace and looked at all the precious faces on Reece's Rainbow. She wanted to find a baby who she could help find a mommy and daddy for.

So meet "Ace's Baby", Jesse.
Jesse was born in May of 2010, so he is just over a year old. You can read more about him on his Reece's Rainbow profile. Jesse doesn't have any money in his grant fund yet. The more money in his fund, the greater the chance that he will be adopted.

I sat down with Ace this morning and interviewed her, so that you could hear straight from the Little Monster's mouth:

-Why did you chose baby Jesse?
Cause he is my favorite and I sleep with a Jessie doll at night and I was Jessie the Cowgirl for Halloween.

-What does it mean when a baby is an orphan?
It means they're in a orphanage.

-Why are they in an orphanage?
Cause there don't have a family yet.

-What do you want for baby Jesse?
Get him a family and get him a new toy. And get him a bed and get him a house. Thank you, God. And get him a book. And get him a sister and a brother and a puppy named Jessie the Cowgirl.

-What can people do to help baby Jesse?
There can adopt him. And there can pray for him and get him home soon.

-Well what else could people do. Like we can't adopt him right now, so what else can we do?
Maybe we can just adopt him tomorrow.

-Or maybe they could also tell their friends about Jesse. Would that be a good idea?
Yeah that's good so maybe their friends can be his family.

-What is the last thing you want to tell people about baby Jesse?
He' s a beautiful baby and you should get him in your family now.

I think she said it pretty well!
Look at that precious face! Please help Ace on her mission to find Jesse a forever family. Donate to his fund, share him with friends, keep him in your prayers. That sweet boy deserves a life in a family who loves him.

Lots of Love!

What About Ace?

Friday, November 4, 2011

I was well aware when we made the decision to adopt, that our choice would be met with opposition. It isn't "normal". Anything different will inevitably be questioned, doubted, and even frowned upon. There were several questions that we were often asked when someone was "unsure" of this "crazy idea" we had. One of them was, "what about Ace?"

"What about Ace? This could ruin her life." or "What about Ace? How will this effect her?" "Won't she be confused? Won't she be extremely jealous? Won't you have to spend all of your time devoted to this child with Down Syndrome and not have enough time for her?"

While deep down in my heart and soul I was confident that bringing Archie into our family would be nothing but a blessing for Ace, the questions and concerns regarding her happiness definitely cost me some sleep. I had to keep a strong faith and know that God wouldn't have called us to be Archie's family if it wasn't something that was going to be positive for our daughter.

So, what about Ace?
You tell me.....

The start of last night's slumber party.....
10 PM....
10:30 PM....

11:30 PM....


I'd say she is a pretty happy and proud little sister!

And as it turns out, this is her normal. She doesn't know any different. In her precious 3 year old mind, having babies "from tummies", as she puts it, is what's unusual. We were recently talking about the difference between adopting and having a "tummy baby" (have I mentioned this kid asks an insane amount of questions.) Anyway, she asked so I was doing my best to explain it to her, and she simply said to me, "but mom, there's babies at Archie's orphanage who don't have a mommy and daddy and sister and brother and doggie and house".

November is National Adoption Month, and because I told Ace that we aren't going to be able to bring another brother or sister home right now (she asks for one almost every day), we could pick one to say prayers for and try and help find them a family. Today she chose a precious little boy who I will share with you all tomorrow! How I love my baby girl's heart.

Lots of Love!

Woody and Jessie Take Halloween!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I really feel like I need to hibernate for the next week or so after all of the festivities we have had over the last couple of weeks. I have to get used to calling my kids their actual names again, instead of "Jessie" and "Woody". They have practically been living in those costumes! Archie LOVED Halloween. I think it was the most perfect first Halloween ever!

We got to go on a field trip with Archie's class to a festival at Easter Seals. I was so glad it was on a day Ace wasn't in school so that she could come along. They had the best time ever. Here they are walking in with Archie's teacher, Donna. They both love her so much. Ace wanted to be with her the entire time. We talk about Miss Donna quite a bit at our house. She is not only an AMAZING teacher, she has also been such an incredible support for me since Archie has been home.

With their buddy Aveline

Just playing!

Making spider cookies! Yum!

Off to another festival at Grace Bible Church! Hanging with the clown that Archie was quite obsessed with.

A month ago Archie would have cried at the site of these animals. But he was right in there feeding them all and chasing them around shouting, "come on, cow!!" (There were no cows in there)

Yet another City Centre. Getting his hair green!

Being Awesome.

Painting pumpkins

Serious business

At a party at a good friend's house..trying to get a picture with all the kids....

And finally Halloween night!

Ready to Trick-or-Treat.

Aveline came to join us!

I was so excited for Archie's first door! A nice man opened it up,
Archie yelled "To To To Treat!!" And then ran as fast as he could into their house. He was yelling "candy? candy?" I chased him in, wrangled him up and got him out. The man was really nice and just laughed. But boy did he go way in there. I guess I should have been standing closer to him. By the second house, he knew the drill.


Until Thanksgiving! Just kidding. I should be back before then...

Lots of Love!