Adoption journey

Over the past year, the Lord has been growing, teaching, and challenging our family in so many ways! We are responding to the Lord's leading and are expanding our family through the adoption of a precious baby!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Big decisions & Adoption changes

2 years... I can't believe we began our adoption journey 2 years ago! Back then we expected to have a sweet baby from Ethiopia in our arms and home by now. Out Lord is so gracious and has blessed us with a new baby in our home, our precious baby Samuel:)
Also can't believe that Samuel is almost 8 months old... they grow up so fast!
When we began our journey of adoption, our desire was to demonstrate God's love and adoption of us as we adopt a child and bring an orphan into our family. When we began the process, Ethiopia was one of the countries processing adoptions in quick and efficient manner. We decided to pursue an adoption there to bring a child into our home as quick as possible (knowing that adoption isn't quick). Since then, the process in Ethiopia has slowed down dramatically. We have had several twists and turns through our adoption journey (changes and longer wait times in Ethiopia, having to complete a new home study, immigration and fingerprints expiring) ... once again there is a new twist. We found out this week that our dossier has been in Ethiopia so long, it is actually expiring next month. This means that we would have to compile a brand new dossier (birth certificates, marriage license, medical letter, police records, too many notarized and state sealed forms to count!) The first time I put together our dossier, I took a break from homeschooling, and the process still took 3 months! Along with the paperwork, we were going to have to more fees to pay again. Needless to say we were a little overwhelmed by this news!

After prayer and many conversations with our wonderful Bethany Christian Services case worker, Josh and I decided to switch gears and pursue a domestic adoption. About a year and a half ago, we were made aware of the GREAT need for families open to adopting babies from different races... right here in Arkansas. We had just completed and sent our dossier to Ethiopia when we had a conversation about how we wished we had known about that need sooner. We talked about domestic adoption a couple times over the past year, and currently sense the Lord leading us down this path. We want to be good stewards of our time and finances; we feel that domestic adoption is the best route for us to adopt. We will begin working on the paperwork and process for domestic adoption in the next month.

Many of you have been supportive of our fund raising efforts over the past two years. Much of those funds are able to transfer over, and we do not have to pay the application fee or home study fee again. Unfortunately some grant money and a lot of the funds we raised have already been sent to Ethiopia or used in our home study/dossier process; we will not get those funds back. Thankfully two major grants from Show Hope and Lifesong will still apply and be able to help in the costly process. We have two-thirds of the funds needed, but still have funds we need to raise. We're excited to see the Lord's provision through this new process.

Thank you for praying for us throughout our journey, we ask you to continue to pray for us...
  • Pray for our family as we navigate this new process of domestic adoption (learning more about birth mother and open adoption).
  • Pray for God's timing of adding a new sweet baby to our family.
  • Pray for God's protection over our child and the birth mother.
  • Pray for Evan, Benjamin & Samuel's transition as they get a new baby brother/sister.
  • Pray for God's provision of the last $5,000-$6,000 we need to complete this adoption.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Eating well on a budget... cheap meals;)

Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE to cook! I definitely live out my New Orleans heritage in the kitchen. I enjoy trying new recipes, tweaking recipes, and creating my own new concoctions.

As a minister's wife, our family has almost always been on a budget that limits extravagant meals. I have enjoyed cooking cost effective meals, cooking to freeze meals, and even teaching cooking classes to newly married students who are trying to live on the budget of a college student. However, you don't really learn something until your life requires that skill. Recently, with the addition of our third son, a move and job change, as well as saving for our adoption of a baby from Ethiopia, our budget has been quite tight. I have learned and created a few recipes that help feed my boys healthy options while not breaking the bank. 

potato bean soup
*Disclaimer: many of these recipes contain beans... they're hearty, healthy, and cheap!

Ham and beans... this is recipe takes all of 5 minutes to throw in a crock pot, and is great for using up leftover deli ham. I have used canned beans instead of dry beans, and just half the amount of water. Serve with corn bread for an incredible and easy meal!

Red beans and rice with a twist (thankful for Pinterest). It's actually really good without the lime. You might ask whether or not these recipes are kid friendly... my 4 year old has told me he would like to eat this red beans and rice everyday!! He loves it!

Potato bean soup is my own concoction. I used my Mom's standard potato soup recipe and tweaked it quite a bit.

Potatoes, green beans & ham is a super EASY crock pot recipe I found on Pinterest. It's a bag of frozen green beans, potatoes, ham (I use leftover ham from sandwiches), an onion, and chicken broth. Really that's it! I serve this with cornbread and enjoy!

Chicken tetrazinni is an easy kid friendly pasta recipe that can utilize leftover chicken, serve many, and freeze well.

Many of these recipes go great with a loaf of bread. Blog coming soon about my love for my bread machine... including a few great money saving dough recipes!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cooking like Mommy!

When I was a little girl, my sister and I enjoyed pulling up chairs next to Mom while she cooked. We wanted to learn all of her incredible New Orleans recipes (crawfish etouffee, stuffed crabs, shrimp alfredo, seafood gumbo) as well as lick the beaters or spoon of anything sweet that was baking in our Louisiana kitchen. Even though we now live in Arkansas, I definitely carry out my New Orleans heritage in the kitchen! My boys love to help me in the kitchen when making bread, cakes and cookies! We also enjoy many picnics with their pretend food.

Recently I found an idea on Pinterest that combined the two activities... pretend cooking with real food! What an incredibly fun idea!!

I raided my pantry and spice cabinet and filled up a muffin pan with their "ingredients".
potatoes, pasta shapes, nuts, beans, rice, sesame seeds, rosemary, salt/sugar, oats, coffee beans

I also gave the boys a ball of flour & water for dough 
My little chefs hard at work!!
 The boys had fun measuring with measuring spoons, mixing and stirring up their own concoctions! 
The final result!!
I actually had to explain to them why we would not eat it... they begged to try it!!! 
Linking up with Let's Hear it For the Boys!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My boys and their cool tricks!

As a mom of 3 boys, I hear this phrase very often... "Mom, watch this cool trick!!" 
Here are a few of our latest "tricks";)
Evan latest trick... climbing door frames!

My blue eyed babe is learning how to eat!

Samuel loves eating his avocado/banana combo in the mesh feeder
It's dinosaur week! Here's Ben's shirt to celebrate this week:)
Check out my Etsy shop for more cute shirts!

They boys enjoy playing cards with Daddy!
Ben's fav is UNO, Evan's fav is War.

The boys love to build massive Thomas the Train tracks...
our train table is too small to hold their masterpieces;)

Evan with one of his train track creations
My brave little swimmers are no longer scared of the water!!

Evan loves his new mask!
The boys favorite summer pastime is swimming!!!

Link up with other Moms of Boys with The M.O.B. Society!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our favorite afternoon snack

I am so thankful the Lord gave me a love and passion for cooking... because living in a house full of guys, we go through a LOT of food! Since my 4 and 6yr old boys can already eat more than me, I can't even imagine how much food they'll be able to consume in the teenage years?! I'm almost always looking for easy, healthy, and budget friendly recipes. I feel like we do pretty well in offering food from those categories at meal times, but snack times often get lost in the business.

Some of our favorite snacks are fruits and veggies... and most recently granola!! Here is my simple and easy recipe for granola.

Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon (I use a little more)
1 tsp salt (I use a little less)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3 TBSP plus 1 tsp oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
*You can also add nuts or berries, but I'm just going for simple and allergy free

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (this is very important if you want to actually eat the granola and not just look at it stuck to the pan;)

In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon, salt, and flaxseed.

In small bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar & vanilla

Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine. Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist... don't be afraid to get messy! 

Pour the mixture on the parchment lined baking sheet. Spread evenly, leaving a few clumps.

Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven to stir/flip granola. Return to oven for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Can store in airtight container for 1 week... however it won't last that long!

We will eat almost half of the pan right out of the oven! The boys love to eat it right out of the bowl, and I love it on my blueberry coconut yogurt:)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Muddy, messy BOY FUN!

I love... messy, muddy, exploring, dirty, pretend, muscles, swords, digging, building, wrecking... BOY fun!! 

playing with water
While I grew up in a family of 2 sweet, well-mannered, clean little ballerinas... I'm absolutely enjoying my 3 boys who enjoy making new discoveries outside, exploring, digging, creating water holes and of course... getting dirty!!

Even while painting his masterpiece...
we have to get messy! 
sprinkler fun=mud slide!!

seriously muddy!
My little muscle men!
I'm so thankful the Lord has blessed us 3 precious boys! I'm learning everyday how to train them up in the knowledge and love of the Lord! 
I love this face:)

This little guy hasn't gotten into too many messes yet...
but he does love to eat his toes:)

Coming soon: a post on our night time reading... 
sword fights, hunting, peeing in caves, battles, and adventurous chases---
we're reading 1 & 2 Samuel!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

and the baby food making begins!

6 months!!! I really can't believe my sweet baby is 6 months and 18 lbs already!! Time has flown by! Samuel  is such a sweet happy baby, who happens to have food sensitivities to MANY foods. He is exclusively breastfed, so I have cut the problem foods (dairy, soy, peanuts, wheat, beef, tomatoes and citrus fruits) out of my diet. My poor guys had all sorts of skin, tummy and sleeping issues before I realized that food was the problem. Thankfully we learned pretty early that food was the problem, have been able to resolve all of his issues and now have an amazingly happy baby!

roast squash for about 40 min
puree in VitaMix, spoon in to ice cube trays

I've been a tad apprehensive about starting solids because I don't want to give him anything that will bother his sensitive tummy. I've gradually loosened up as he has shown an interest in my food. He loves to suck on a piece of cantaloupe and gum a raw carrot. However, he was very clear that he did not like his first helping of rice cereal tonight!! I just made 2 batches of butternut squash and spaghetti squash baby food... hoping he enjoys those flavors!

Would love to hear from other Moms... what are your baby's fav foods and recipes?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Boy Mom Blog Hop with MobSociety

My hubby & I
when we were 1st married
I'm excited to participate in the Boy Mom Blog Hop hosted by the MOB society! I'm Kelly, blessed to be the wife of an amazing man of God and a homeschooling mama to three precious boys (6yrs, 4yrs, and 6 months). We're so excited to be in the process of adopting a sweet child from Ethiopia. Most importantly, I am absolutely thankful for my Savior and Lord who redeemed me, is daily growing me in faith, and has given me the privilege of proclaiming His Name, holiness, goodness, mercy and love to the world!
my boys:)
my littlest love
My blog includes many of my passions--cooking, homeschooling, everyday life with my boys, truths and encouragement from Scripture, adoption updates and fundraisers (Africa shirts). I enjoy sharing about my current mission field - my boys - and how we are growing in our walk with the Lord as a family. I love to live out my New Orleans heritage in the kitchen-cooking and creating fun and healthy recipes.

My boys favorite activities involve building things... from massive Thomas the Tank Engine tracks/towns, to Trio blocks and Legos. My boys have enjoyed playing with trains and Trio blocks since they were 2 or 3 years old and the fun just gets even better now that they can create and build on their own! Legos have just become age appropriate in the past year... just as a new little one arrived ready to put every tiny toy in his mouth;) My boys really like numbers, so it's appropriate that my 4 yr old's favorite game is the card game UNO. In a recent blog post, I shared several of our favorites--things that don't clutter, but grow their imagination and love for the Lord, such as Adventures in Odyssey audio dramas. 

Look forward to meeting other Moms of boys! Follow me on facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!
If you are a mom of boys - come and join the link up to meet and encourage each other: 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cow Day!!

My boys and I enjoyed dressing up for Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A! The boys have a blast getting in any kind of costume, so getting to wear a costume AND go to Chick-fil-A was pretty awesome for the boys! We all enjoyed our delicious FREE lunch!
cow cuteness!!
Added bonus... we had no run-ins with the actual scary cow;)

Monday, June 25, 2012

How we can afford international adoption...

When we began the process of adopting a baby from Ethiopia, we heard a lot of questions about how we were going to afford all of the adoption costs, fees and travel that added up to about a year's salary. Our answer... we are trusting the God who called us to adopt to also be our Provider for the finances and details of the adoption. 
I have recently had questions from others interested in adoption about what sites/books/foundations/grant programs that have helped us through our adoption journey. Here are several resources and ideas from our journey...
Bethany Christian Services is the agency we are going through to adopt. Bethany has a great reputation in foreign countries and is known for solid ethics in adoption practices. We are thankful for  our wonderful and incredibly helpful case worker!
Families Outreach is a great orphan care foundation, run by some wonderful people in our church, who can  help you navigate through the adoption process. They also offer a grant for adoptive families.
Show Hope is another wonderful foundation begun by Steven Curtis Chapman. They have many resources as well as a grant for adoptive families. 
Lifesong is another organization that offers a grant program with matching grants and other options to help with the finances of inter-country adoption.

We also had several fund raisers to help raise support... 
Just Love Coffee - We receive a specified amount for each bag of coffee sold through our link on their site.

Catering - I utilized my New Orleans heritage and love for cooking to cater meals for families, as well as a Life Group Christmas party.

Etsy shop - I currently make Africa shirts for babies, boys, girls, and adults. I also make boys tie shirts and initial shirts. Check out our store!

Girls cap sleeve shirts $12.50 each
Monkey tie shirt for infants and boys $10 each
We are also very thankful for the generous gifts that have helped us through this adoption process.

Stay tuned for another blog on books on adoption and orphan care!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How I got my baby to sleep through the night...

As a mom of three boys, I thought I knew a few things about babies, breastfeeding, feeding and sleep schedules. I was wrong!!! Here are a few things I've learned since baby boy # 3...
1. If a baby is crying... it's for a reason! My job as a Mommy is to find out what that is... not to train him not to cry! Don't let people guilt you into thinking that you must make your baby "cry it out" to teach them to sleep. You will not spoil your precious baby by meeting his most basic needs. Many babies in foreign orphanages no longer cry. This is not because they are feeling loved or having all of their needs met. They no longer cry because they know no one will come when they cry. I want my children to know that they are loved and that it is my joy to meet their needs.
2. There is no such thing as "colic".  However, food sensitivities/allergies and reflux are very real things with very real solutions. Since I have cut out dairy, soy, peanuts, wheat and eggs from my diet, my "colicky" baby is now the happiest baby ever and consistently sleeps 10-12 hours straight at night... some nights even 13-14 hours!! My once fussy baby happily puts himself to sleep and awakes as a sweet talkative baby in his crib.
3. Throw the Baby Wise and scheduling books out of the window!! One thing my husband and I have learned, is that the foods I'm eating and giving to my exclusively breastfed baby are much greater factors that affect sleep, rather than feeding and sleep schedules.  When baby boy #3 came around, I didn't have time to monitor or schedule feedings or nap times.  Due to lack of time to plan, as well as his sensitive tummy, I basically threw out all of the book's teachings and fed him whenever he wanted (On Demand) and put him down for naps when he seemed tired. He is not spoiled and is my best sleeper! Feeding your baby on a schedule isn't always the best for every baby! My baby is only awake from 8am to 7pm and needs to get all of his daily nutrition in that 11 hour time frame. If I only fed him every 3-4 hours, he could not possibly get all of the calories and nutrition he needs to grow. By the way, my 5 month old is over 17 lbs, in the 90% with height and weight, and wears 9 and 12 month clothing!
4. Introducing solid foods will not help your baby sleep through the night!! Our pediatrician has told us numerous times, babies' main source of nutrition in their first year is breast milk. Introducing other foods is more about practicing to learn how to eat. If you fill your baby up with solids, he may not have room for the best food... breastmilk. Also, families with a history of food allergies, IBS, and other tummy problems should definitely wait until after baby is 6 months, as to not cause further and future tummy problems.
5. This life is not my own!! I have been bought with a price, by the blood of Christ. If I am to display this selfless love to my children, I can not live for my own pleasures everyday in front of them. This food lover and passionate cook is learning a lot about discipline and self control, as I choose to sacrifice eating dairy, beef, soy, peanuts, eggs, wheat, caffeine/chocolate and tomatoes (we have 12 tomato plants in our backyard) for the health of my baby. My desire for certain foods is not more important than the health of my baby. 
6. PRAY!!! We ask the Lord each night to give our boys (and us) a good night's sleep. We seek the Lord for wisdom in raising our boys. He is our Creator, Savior, and the ultimate Wise Counsel. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The gift that grew my kids imagination... and love for God's word

As a mom of 3 little guys, I'm often looking for great gift ideas... for gifts that don't just clutter every room of our home, but actually inspire creativity, grow little imaginations, and develop in my boys a love for our Lord.   Over the past few years, a few gifts have fit into this rare category. 
Adventures in Odyssey cd collection
 My all time favorite gift from my parents to the boys is Adventures in Odyssey Bible Eyewitness Collector's Set. Any of the Adventures in Odyssey audio dramas are wonderful, but we especially enjoy the Bible Eyewitness series that takes the boys imaginations right into the Bible stories!! I love hearing my boys play and act out Bible stories with their toys!! 

Recently, my 5 year old came up to me and asked, "Mommy, do you know the story of Onesimus?" "You really should read it." This evening at bedtime, the boys asked my husband to tell them Bible stories they had not heard before (which is not an easy task;) Thankfully my husband also has a great love for the Word of God and told the boys the stories of Shamgar, Mephibosheth and Nehemiah. While talking about Shamgar, my husband explained the judges in the Bible. He told them about how God's people would love and worship God, but then they would turn and worship idols. He talked about how other people would come and hurt God's people, and how God would send someone to fight for them; he reminds them of Gideon and Samson (Bible characters the boys are familiar with). My 5 year old son responds, "Oh like the Amonites?" I am constantly blown away and challenged by my sons' knowledge and love for the Word of God!

Jonathan Park is another great audio series for kids. My boys enjoy learning about science, animals and listening to adventures in the Amazon and Galapagus Islands, while also hearing about God's creation and Bible principles.

Jesus Storybook Bible

I'm also really thankful for the Jesus Storybook Bible, a gift from my sister. The boys enjoy reading story after story and have grown such a sweet love for God's Word at a young age.
My oldest son, when he was 8 months old, reading his Bible.

Our little 5 month old is not quite old enough to enjoy Adventures in Odyssey and the Jesus Storybook Bible yet, but we will be introducing him to Veggie Tales pretty soon! A couple of our favorite board books are Veggie Tales, Oh Where is My Ducky and God Love You Very Much I look forward to seeing another little guy grow in love and knowledge of the Lord with these great resources and gifts!!

What are YOUR favorite gifts?? 
I would love to hear other resources/gifts that inspire creativity, 
grow little imaginations, and develop a love for the Lord!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Boys night backyard camp out

One of the reasons we are so thankful for our new home... is our backyard!! We are blessed with our own nature center in our backyard! The boys love exploring in the bamboo forest, climbing the trees, making lots of discoveries, learning about many types trees and birds, digging in the dirt to create watering holes for their toys, making a fire pit with Daddy for s'mores... and most recently camping out!

Josh had so much fun preparing for this time with the boys! He built a camp fire where we cooked authentic yummy hobo dinners. Even Samuel joined us outside for dinner:)


The boys always enjoy roasting marshmallows and eating s'mores! After s'mores the big guys settled in the tent for a fun boys night camp out. They read Boxcar Children and were having a blast with Daddy... 

Josh saving the tent from the storm!
...until the thunder and storms came in strong!! 
They brought the camping trip inside:) Maybe next time they'll actually get to sleep in the tent;)