Three days late. And a memory card of vacation pictures that I shot in JPG which means all my favorite tools to edit are not available. I tried to capture moments that reminded me of my childhood. Moments the children experienced things for the first time. The creek. The market. The soft grass. The double Popsicle. The little things. All of those things that are actually big things.

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Rae Barnes (Philadelphia, PA) http://raebarnes.com/

Rebecca Bender (Winfield, IA) –http://rebeccabenderphotography.zenfolio.com/|https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rebecca-Bender-Photography/139668796110338?pnref=lhc

Heather Butler (Dover, DE)http://www.heatherbutlerphotography.com https://www.facebook.com/heatherbutlerphotography

Erin Gregerson (Kauai, Hawaii) –http://www.eringregerson.com | https://www.facebook.com/ErinGregersonPhotography/

Katie Hall (Newark, Delaware)- http://katiehallcreative.com/|https://www.facebook.com/katiehallcreative

Stacy Hart (Dover, DE) http://www.stacyhart.com| https://www.facebook.com/stacyhartphotography/

Cait Jensen (West Chester, PA) – http://www.photographyjensen.com/|https://www.facebook.com/photographyjensen

Kelly Lapp (Lancaster, PA) http://kellylappphotography.com |https://www.facebook.com/kellylappphotography

Kate Neal (Bloomfield, NJ) http://www.katenealphoto.comhttps://www.facebook.com/KateNealPhoto

Lisa O’Brien – (Wrentham, Massachusetts) – https://www.facebook.com/lisaobrienphoto

Paula Richwine (Newark, Delaware) – http://richestwinephotography.com/|https://www.facebook.com/richestwinephoto

Parker Slaton (Newark, Delaware) – http://slatons.blogspot.com |https://www.facebook.com/ParkerSlatonPhotography

Emily Troutman (Middletown, DE) – http://www.emilytroutmanphoto.com/blog-entries/

After 3 years of love and travel and sand and so on… I finally sent my camera off to Canon for cleaning and a tune up. It was way overdue. I’m excited and totally freaking about how it will perform when I get it back! Had to get these shots in before I shipped her!

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Rebecca Bender (Winfield, IA) – http://rebeccabenderphotography.zenfolio.com/|https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rebecca-Bender-Photography/139668796110338?pnref=lhc

Heather Butler (Dover, DE) http://www.heatherbutlerphotography.com https://www.facebook.com/heatherbutlerphotography

Erin Gregerson (Kauai, Hawaii) – http://www.eringregerson.com | https://www.facebook.com/ErinGregersonPhotography/

Katie Hall (Newark, Delaware)- http://katiehallcreative.com/|https://www.facebook.com/katiehallcreative

Stacy Hart (Dover, DE) http://www.stacyhart.com| https://www.facebook.com/stacyhartphotography/

Cait Jensen (West Chester, PA) – http://www.photographyjensen.com/|https://www.facebook.com/photographyjensen

Kelly Lapp (Lancaster, PA) http://kellylappphotography.com |https://www.facebook.com/kellylappphotography

Kate Neal (Bloomfield, NJ) http://www.katenealphoto.comhttps://www.facebook.com/KateNealPhoto

Lisa O’Brien – (Wrentham, Massachusetts) – https://www.facebook.com/lisaobrienphoto

Paula Richwine (Newark, Delaware) – http://richestwinephotography.com/|https://www.facebook.com/richestwinephoto

Parker Slaton (Newark, Delaware) – http://slatons.blogspot.com |https://www.facebook.com/ParkerSlatonPhotography

Emily Troutman (Middletown, DE) – http://www.emilytroutmanphoto.com/blog-entries/

Summer just screams “TIME FOR A REFRESHING BEVERAGE!” Am I right? Afterall, isn’t this when the birth of lemonade stands occurred? I know my children are itching at the idea of a sidewalk lemonade stand and that got me thinking about some other fun drinks that we could introduce people to and with added benefits from our Young Living essential oils! If you haven’t heard about the Young Living Ningxia drink, it is an incredible and powerful whole-body supplement that is both sweet and tangy. It includes Wolfberry which is just one of the many superfoods packed into this drink. I love it and all you need are a few ounces (2-4oz) a day!

Another summer favorite is a mojito and I was dreaming of merging these two for a while. I finally did it after the overwhelming growth of my garden mint.

Now you can definitely spike this (I would use vodka) after hours, but for now this is my summer jam!!!
6-8 fresh mint leaves, raw sugar, a few lime wheels and a drop of lime EO. Muddle that in a glass. Add 2oz of Ningxia to a shaker of ice, shake all ingredients together. Top with club soda. Enjoy!!NingxiaMojito

Woah! It has been a minute. So much so that it took me about 25 tries to get back into this space which really means I had to solve more math captcha problems than I would ever agree to in a week. This project is to RE INSPIRE me to pick up my camera and push myself to shoot for myself and for my family. I am no longer accepting client bookings while I focus on my family and my oil business. Life with four is busy and changing every single moment of the day. Here is where I’ll remember the little things.

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Rebecca Bender (Winfield, IA) –http://rebeccabenderphotography.zenfolio.com/|https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rebecca-Bender-Photography/139668796110338?pnref=lhc

Heather Butler (Dover, DE) http://www.heatherbutlerphotography.comhttps://www.facebook.com/heatherbutlerphotography

Erin Gregerson (Kauai, Hawaii) – http://www.eringregerson.com |https://www.facebook.com/ErinGregersonPhotography/

Katie Hall (Newark, Delaware)-http://katiehallcreative.com/|https://www.facebook.com/katiehallcreative

Stacy Hart (Dover, DE) http://www.stacyhart.com|https://www.facebook.com/stacyhartphotography/

Cait Jensen (West Chester, PA) –http://www.photographyjensen.com/|https://www.facebook.com/photographyjensen

Kelly Lapp (Lancaster, PA) http://kellylappphotography.com|https://www.facebook.com/kellylappphotography

Kate Neal (Bloomfield, NJ)http://www.katenealphoto.comhttps://www.facebook.com/KateNealPhoto

Lisa O’Brien – (Wrentham, Massachusetts) –https://www.facebook.com/lisaobrienphoto

Paula Richwine (Newark, Delaware) –http://richestwinephotography.com/|https://www.facebook.com/richestwinephoto

Parker Slaton (Newark, Delaware) – http://slatons.blogspot.com|https://www.facebook.com/ParkerSlatonPhotography

Emily Troutman (Middletown, DE) – http://www.emilytroutmanphoto.com/blog-entries/

I figured since a lot of people have some basic questions and some real interest… I would put it out here for an easy reference. Not that I don’t LOVE to answer every individual question, for those who feel intimidated or like they aren’t as comfortable approaching me (you’re crazy, I’m really cool) here is quick overview of WHY and HOW I chose the oily life.

Young Living has 20+ years of experience and is the world leader and pioneer in essential oil research and distillation process.

If you’re getting your oils from somewhere else, chances are, they took a page from the Young Living book. Just stick with the original, mmmkay?

Young Living oils are beyond organic.  Why?

Each bath of oils is rigorously tested in house for therapeutic viability.

Young Living owns their own farms across the globe.  Read about their farms on the website.

You can actually visit the farms and participate in the harvest/distillation process.

Young Living is the only company to submit their oils to AIRASE for purity testing.

With over 150 singles and blends, Young Living has THE best selection of oils and home/personal products of any essential oil company.

Young Living has an unmatched Seed to Seal process to guarantee the purity and potency of every oil. Can your chain store brand say that?

All oils are NOT created equal. What you see somewhere else should never be used as suggested by Young Living resources.

Would you let your dog groomer cut your hair? I mean, they own cutting shears right?

Young Living oils do not have an expiration date. Never. Like leave them in your will… if you have any drops left.

Young Living oils are safe for ingestion. You heard me. Drop it like it’s hot… lemon to your water. Peppermint to your coffee. Basil to your spaghetti. Do it.

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WHY ESSENTIAL OILS?

By definition, essential oils are the vital (and aromatic) fluids of a plant, shrub, root, herb, flower, seed or tree. You can think of the oil as a plant’s “immune system”–it is essential to the life and health of the plant. Oils are typically extracted through careful steam distillation that ensures all the important therapeutic and health-giving constituents of the oil remain intact.

 A few ways I LOVE to use oils for my whole family.

GERMS. Ew. They’re seriously everywhere and with 4 kids we can not be spending our days passing germs around. So we use oils (the very oils in the premium starter kit) and create a blend to apply topically every single day for immunity. We also diffuse daily to get the cleanest air possible.

SLEEP. Zzzzz. With 4 kids, sleep is not extremely common but when we are asleep we like to make it extra peaceful. There are SO many oils we use on different occasions to enhance our sleepytime.

MOOD. And boy are we a moody crew. All at different times, for different reasons, and that is totally ok. When you’ve worked with oils for sometime, you become familiar with what works best for each person. We all have our “go to” oil to help us chill!

If you are interested in joining my team, we are a really cool squad and we hustle hard.

To enroll with my group, CLICK HERE, make sure the number 2088406 appears in both the “Enroller” and “Sponsor ID” fields.

Signing up for wholesale/distributors, you will get 24% off retail prices which is totally major!

If you sign up as a distributor & are actively purchasing you have the option of joining our facebook group, or two, or three.  If you are interested in selling the oils and sharing about the company I am passionate about helping women earn income to help support their families if that is a goal of yours!

 Remember, Young Living will reward that person under their compensation plan for taking the time to share the oils with you and invest in your oils journey.

If you are joining my team, two things that I recommend:

one is purchasing the $150 Premium Starter Kit and picking an Essential Rewards kit.

Make sure you choose the wholesale option for those lower ordering prices! By purchasing a rewards kit you are signing up for a monthly ordering program that give you the ability to earn points for free products, enjoy reduced shipping costs, and plan out your family’s oily budget. Plus if you are a part of this monthly program you are able to receive commissions off of growing your own business.

 

 Any suggestions made on this blog are very specific to Young Living essential oils and should not be used with oils from another source. Statements made on this website about Young Living Essential Oils have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician. If you are currently on medication, please DO NOT STOP.

Should come as no surprise that I make a very solid effort to have our family pictures taken at least twice a year. Despite my own “expensive camera” and “photography skills” there is simply no way I can capture MY family. For the record, I invest in photographers that I love, have a relationship with, trust in their style, and each any every image is priceless. Really. I mean that. There is no other way to freeze time and isn’t that what I hear so many parents wishing for? I think I can count on one hand the number of pictures I have with my dad and I or the five of us as a family. And guess what? I can’t change that now. I can’t have that time back. The memories are in my head but it sure would be nice to have them in my hand, to share with my own children, to display proudly in my home. Your family is worth so much more than a holiday card. Shoot, one of the best gifts I’ve been told I have ever given was custom Tervis cups with pictures of my kids (take note gift giver people) and after seeing the gallery from our most recent session, our first as a family of SIX, you better believe these images will be making t-shirts and mugs heard round the world.

Thank you Kat Braman. Thank you for being a friend, making the time, making it easy. Click HERE to view all our family galleries or click HERE To view our wedding stuff! Word on the street is that Kat still has a few spots available for fall sessions!!!!

Just a few of my mommy heart favorites.

 

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It should come as no surprise that on the eve-eve of London starting Kindergarten, I am sitting here in silence as everyone in my house is asleep (knock on wood) and reflecting on her and our relationship.

When London entered the world, she changed my life. She gave me a new existence. She gave me meaning. She gave me way more than I ever could have asked or bargained for. Almost 6 years later and all of that has infinitely multiplied. At the top of my Google search tonight popped so many articles, that alone was reassuring that I’m not alone in this struggle.

Discipline + Strong-Willed + 5 year old + Power Struggle + The Gift of…

I began reading a few lines in each article, before completely diving into this one

See, London spent a lot of her time this summer, in her room. In fact, today she spent a better part of it, in her room. She knows exactly what to do or say to get there. She knows exactly what to do or say to get out. She has a smart mouth. She has a wise attitude. She has a strong will. She has a desire to control. So much so that she will bring herself to vomit to get out of a situation and quickly return to the behavior that got her in the situation to begin with! In the midst of these chaotic and heart breaking moments it is hard to think about how these actions will save her from a potentially harmful situation later in her life or even boost her beyond normal expectations in her career path. No, I’m not suggesting she barf on the CEO’s floor or conference table.

Tomorrow when we meet her Kindergarten teacher, among 20 other children her age, I know that London will stand out. I know that she will command the attention of the room. I know that she will immediately excel at whatever first day tasks she is given. I know that she will adapt and appreciate the structure and limits set forth by her teacher. I have no concerns about London making friends, leading friends, encouraging and guiding other children. I’m certain that as her teacher sleeps tonight, she is in no way prepared for the personality and brains that come with meeting London tomorrow (unless her previous teachers have warned her.) All of these are proud feelings as her mom. Surely I will be praying and hoping for the very best of days. Absolutely I will be on pins and needles waiting to hear all about her first day. Without question I will anticipate some humorous story to come back to me about something she did or said. I expect that by the end of the first week, most of our life story will have spread like wildfire to her teachers and friends. They will know all the details of our coffee shop and adoption. More details than most might care to hear or expect a 5 year old to comprehend.

 

My hope for you, London, is that above anything else you will always know how truly special you are and how incredibly loved you are. I hope you see all the good that I try to instill in you, that you see all the good I do to encourage you. For every tireless hour of work we put in to our jobs, our friends, our families, our every move, that you know we are calculating and using them intentionally for your good. I promise to slow down with you. To listen to you. To read in between your lines. To do everything in my power to connect with you and not just command of your. I promise to remind myself that in everything I do, I put your trust first. I want the very best for you and my very best is what I will give you.

London and Coss. My biggest and my littlest. My drama and my serenity.
London keeps me moving 100 miles a minute. Coss slows everything down.
London demands and argues. Coss stares and soothes.

I can’t wait to see how their relationship grows and changes. She protects him, loves him, nurtures him, and I’m pretty sure despite the 6 year age difference, he will return all of that to her one day.

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So many people have asked questions about our adoption. About our birth mom. About her story. About our relationship. I love that the face of adoption is changing. I love that we can share part of our story. Not the entire story, not the part that is her story, just ours.
All birth moms are different. All are unique. No, they are not all young or poor. No, they are not all addicts or crimials. In fact, MOST are not any of those things. Most are women, my age, who have simply had a tough go of life and are trying to make a change. There is only ONE common denominator of all birth moms. They are share a fierce and selfless love for the child/children growing inside them, a love beyond my ability to measure, that they would sacrifice a part of their body and heart to give that child/children the very best life possible. They ALL choose love and life over anything else.

Dear E.

We have never met. We have spoken so many times, we have written so many letters, we have shared so many moments, yet we have never been face to face. I have yet to hug you, to properly thank you, to physically embrace you or show you the love I have for you and the love we promise to give to our twins. By some calculations, you conceived the twins on Hudson’s birthday. By some calculations, you met with the adoption attorney on the day we first learn our first match was experiencing potentially fatal complications. By some calculations, the twins would be born as both Mike and I experienced some business changes. We had a consultant who pressed on in our favor, I had compelling intuition to continue the search. But, God. He is really great at math huh? Nothing was ever a man-made equation. God knew everything. God planned each moment of your life, of our life, leading up to the day the twins were born. He had His hand on every single person and wrote every part of this story, this legend.

I remember reading about your adoption plan, and the attorney mentioning you had viewed some profiles but did not feel like any had been a match. When she asked if we would like to present, I was out of profile books, but quickly had a new copy made and shipped out overnight. I sat down to write you a letter and I just prayed that you would feel comfort in my words knowing that decision you were facing. You waited for us. I remember asking you to share your hopes and dreams for the future of the twins. I remember telling you we promised to pray for your future and how we hoped to ease the heartache of your decision.

E, you are the real measure of motherhood. You are the example of pure love and radiant light. Even in a time when you felt only darkness, I surrender that beauty comes from ashes. You are all the strength and hope a mother wishes to be for their child/children. You have given a gift that is greater in size than anything I can ever measure. None of this has gone without a price to you and your aching heart and for that I hurt too. Even in the most exciting and exhausting times at home with these babies, my mind always wanders to you and how God is using us all to do work for his Kingdom that could never be quantified here on earth.

I often think about other adoption stories and how I have seen God orchestrate miracles. I never knew just how beautiful our own story would look until now, looking back on every detail that had to occur for us to be brought together. When Mike and I first began our adoption, we knew we wanted to work with a consultant. I learned this from my adoption community on Instagram. Time and time again I told the story of how Instagram has been the sole source for all things guidance, comfort, and support during our adoption journey. In my opinion there are two incredible Christian adoption consulting agencies. I met Casey, with Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC) and started to follow her own journey to bringing her baby home. At the same time she was starting her work as a consultant and I felt like she would be driven and encouraging of us bringing home twins. From day 1 I told her my heart was for twins. We were told several time that twins were rare and that the idea was something we should not get stuck on. Once we began reviewing scenarios, we felt like nothing was calling us to present (showing your family book to a potential birthmom for consideration) and I started to question the timing of our adoption. After all, we had just opened a coffee shop and the business was something I also needed to pour myself in to.

We were approached, by random contact, to present to a birthmom. Something told us that we should present and we did. She took one look at our book and did not want to see any others, she chose us. We loved her, we started building a great relationship with her, and flew her down to spend a few days with us just before Christmas. A month or so after our visit, complications led to the loss of that baby girl. Mike was questioning if the adoption door was closing but I kept pushing that it only meant another greater door was opening. We are still loving on that birthmom, she is still special to us.

The week of Jan 26 we lost the baby. The same week “E” had met with the agency to place the twins. Within days both had occurred. Several weeks had passed and I felt like I should reach out to Casey and let her know we would still like to look at new situations, and I even emailed one of the agencies directly. I reminded this one in particular that we still had a heart for twins. She replied that a twin scenario had just come about and asked if we wanted to be considered. Sadly, in the same weekend of consideration, those twins miscarried. The magnitude of loss was growing. I never doubted or lost hope, I knew that something was already being prepared for us. One of the next e-mails from our consultant Casey was subject: Birthmom E, the message in the body was “TWINS” followed by a text, and a Facebook message. I’m pretty sure she was considering smoke signals to get this one to me as well.

I previously blogged part of this and how I told Mike and how we moved on this so I won’t go over all those details again but I will tell you this. Working with a consultant and getting to see God in your story is pretty much what dreams are made of. I never abandoned my twin dreams, I just had to trust God and allow him to work through me to get these twins home.

Up next… a letter to E.

They’re here. Breathe. Big sigh. They’re already one week old. Breathe them in.

I can’t imagine being able to get all my thoughts into one post so for that purpose we are calling this part 1. In no particular order, just what I can recall and how it comes to me.

Monday, July 13 9:00pm, E (we shall call our birthmom E for simplicity) calls to let me know she was just seen by the nurse practitioner where she stays and they noted some fluid and size concerns. I tried to remain positive and asked her mostly questions about how she felt and what were her desires. She reminded me that as always her goals and mine were always equal in wanting whatever was best for the babies. At 39/40 weeks of twin pregnancy I knew she was growing tired and her body had already been through so much to carry them this far. I told her I would everything in my power to get her seen by a more qualified doctor and push for induction. I hung up the phone as we always do, with a “love you girl” and got in bed. Ringer on loud.

30 minutes passed and the phone rang with that same collect call number, caller ID showing a Texas area code. I answered and the voice was not E. You have a collect call from “Hi, honey I just wanted to tell you I love you. They just came and took her.” To which I turned to Mike and said, it’s not her. She’s being taken to the hospital. Mike immediately called our attorney who said to try and get some sleep (yeah right) and she would start making calls. The next morning we left our house at 8am and arrived at the hospital which was 90 minutes from our house. The case worker greeted us and gave us what little information she had and let us know that E was not admitted but in a room for observation. 1 hour later she came back to us and let us know that a c-section was going to take place after office hours and to try and go get lunch and relax for a few hours and return. We walked out of the hospital, our options were limited. Mike had decided that it was a good week to start a 10 day cleanse. We had not even reached the end of the parking lot before the phone rang and it was the case worker to tell us they were taking E in for a c-section immediately after noticing some “points of interest” and the doctor was on his way.

Every chance we had to ask a nurse, ask the case worker, ask basically anyone else on the L&D floor who allowed to see E, we asked how our sweet birthmom was doing. Multiples times a week we spoke on the phone and exchanged letters. I know one day we will have the opportunity to meet face to face and I can not wait to hug her. This meeting did not happen at the hospital, for reasons out of our control. I remember Mike and I sitting in the waiting room directly in front of the nursery window and he asked me if I thought they were done to which I replied that I thought they had yet to start the c-section. No sooner did I look up to a tapping on the glass and a nurse waving a beautiful baby girl in front of me!

July 14, 2015. Quinn Story was born at 12:45pm, a text book twin. Coss Legend was born at 1:15pm, discordant growth, respiratory distress and exposure to meconium.

We exchanged hugs through the nurses and when the babies were born I held each one tight in hopes that E could feel or smell my love for her through them. Mike and I snuck back and forth from nursery to NICU to see our babies before leaving for the night. Little did we know we would be driving back and forth for 5 more days.

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When Mike and I set out on our adoption journey, I truly doubt either of us could have imagined how it would go. For Mike, I think he anticipated a slow and steady journey in which we casually discussed a few situations and awaited one that we felt called to move on. For me, my mind was full of a million scenarios. I thought of the due date, gender, race, how I would tell our kids and family, how we would travel to meet this baby…or babies. Yes, part of my mind kept nudging me to be open to multiples. On every piece of paper ( hundreds) I eagerly checked the box for our openess to multiples. Hearing many times that it was so rare and quite honestly crazy to hope for multiples because they only happen occassionaly in the adoption word. So many adoption agencies gave us little to no hope in matching with twins. We pressed on, I was not discouraged. I knew that the baby or babies intended to be part in our family, would find their way home.

 

We matched with Dez. Our sweet and beautiful birthmom, due a few weeks from today. Bringing a baby girl into the world. That baby girl was indeed brought to this world but lived just long enough to take a breath before passing into the arms of Jesus. Kensington Richmond. She was our baby, she is now our baby in heaven.

Several scenarios came to us, including a set of twins who passed before our opportunity to present. Mike began to question why doors were closing but I remained steady in hopes that it was just a matter of the right door opening.

Our adoption consultant was great at giving me so many scenarios and knowing just what to say keeping us steady on the path to meet our new babies. The day we received our current situation, Mike and I were sitting next to each other at the coffee shop. My phone beeped and our consultant text me “CHECK YOUR EMAIL. TWINS!” and we opened it up and read together. Mike did not seem too excited but my heart was pounding. The bottom line for him, was as best as I can describe, sticker shock. Adoption is expensive. Redemption has a price. We always had a number floating around that we were comfortable with and you just have to imagine when that number almost doubles, you know God is getting ready to stir you up.

We weren’t going to present. After a week or so, I was contacted that the birthmom was not happy and did not select a family for various reasons. The attorney felt our profile fit everything she was seeking and would we consider presenting. In this instant, I did something I would NOT encourage anyone else to do. I said YES without having a conversation with Mike. It was almost like my fingers typed and hit send without the rest of my brain taking action. A day or so passed when an email came through “SHE PICKED YOU. Congratulations, she wants to place the twins with YOUR FAMILY.”

Oh crap. YES! But. Errr. Mike. Twins. Oh man. Ok. So I scrambled to think of a cute way, a fun way, a tempting way to tell Mike this news. Nothing was coming to me. I grabbed double mint gum, twinkies, and pretty much started crying. You can imagine the look on his face to see his wife who NEVER cries. In tears. I’m talking he was spooked. Borderline vomit and just saw a ghost. But I could only say what I was I feeling and how I hoped he could understand. In everything, our conversation ultimately led to the feeling that in everything we do, in every penny we spent, in all our greatest joys…they are with our children. No. Greater. Joy.

Despite the sleeplessness. Despite the tantrums. Despite the days feeling shorter. Everything in our lives are made better by the love we share and our family.

Adoption is so crazy. Can be so messy. Definitely not free. Your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole existence is poured into the lives of these birth mothers and their children.

Right now we are anxiously waiting some more. The twins are due in July but our instinct tells us they may arrive sooner. We have nothing for them. We have not prepared anything except for our hearts.

To answer a few questions.

“Are you crazy?” I do not think so. Mike and I are both clear of any mental illness to the best of our knowledge.

“How will you manage everything?” The hustle is real my friends. We stop at nothing to exhaust our God given love and talents. I want to get to heaven and be told I used up every ounce of passion and energy put into my body. I also know that there is no greater reward than fulfilling what God has intended for us to do on earth.

“Why twins?” Why not? Do you not love a good twofer?

“Will you be done after this?” Depends on who you ask and when you ask. I’m not done till I’m dead.

“Have you met your birthmom? Where is she?” Our lovely birthmom is just about an hour away. We hope to meet or speak with her before the birth or whenever the opportunity presents itself. We know our greatest job will be her greatest pain. I promise to share as much as respectfully possible, when possible.

Please keep us, our family, and our future additions in your prayers.

 

We started this adoption to share our home. We started this adoption to share our lives. We started this adoption to share faith.

We were matched with swiftness and felt called to be exactly where we were at the time. Waiting patiently for our baby girl to be born in the spring and loving on our birthmom something fierce. A love she had not known for most of her life. We trusted that despite the story not looking like we thought maybe it should, God was the author and we were going to trust that. Dez, our birthmom, came to visit. From the moment she walked out of the terminal, her smile captured our hearts and her frail frame and voice drew us in. We wanted to care for her every need and we wanted to give her the best outcome. Knowing there was a chance she may opt to parent we still wanted to encourage her and protect the life of that unborn baby for as log as we were called to do so.

She left. We questioned. We wondered when we would see her again. Our minds played out each scenario that could be even the heartbreaking ones. Just a few weeks later the phone rang and we knew that there were some medical complications. We braced for a baby born too soon, we researched rental homes in Ohio, we looked at flights, we bravely and fiercely trusted that God was going to move us to do whatever needed to be done. There was little fear. Little did we know, we would never have those chances.

On the morning of January 26th, we started what could have been a normal Monday. My phone ringer was still off from the night. Mike was in the shower. I looked down to see area code 330 calling and even thought I knew I should answer I handed it off to him. The news that our baby was being born via emergency c-section, at just 23/24 weeks. We hung up but briefly and got dressed for the day. In what felt like the longest of waits but was only twenty minutes, the phone rang again. She was born. She could not be saved. Kensington Richmond, less than 1lb, unable to withstand any medical interventions, became an angel.

Our friends and families have surrounded us and mourned her loss, our loss, the heartbreak of our Dez. We have tried to be as present for her and as loving to her during her greatest loss. To help restore her and bring her a new life. Totally trusting that God really does have a plan for every single child. The child he has knit together, even if they appear broken to the outside world. Even if their bodies are broken. Knit together with purpose and plan.

Rewind two weeks. Before we knew there could be anything out of the ordinary. Before we knew our baby was in danger. I told Mike I felt like God was stirring up something in my heart. Maybe he was preparing me for what was to come or maybe he was showing me that he needed us to trust in his total plan. I let our adoption consultant know that we would still like to see any new situations that came across her desk. Additionally, one week from the day that we lost our baby, I reached back out to everyone in our adoption network to let them know we were still faithfully moving forward as not to miss what God has for us. In a brief e-mail from one outlet, I was informed of twins, due in August, in Florida, and would we like to present.

Twins. Everyone knows my heart beats special for twins. Without much information, briefly giving the details to Mike, I said YES and asked to be shown. As with every situation, you are asked NOT to present to multiple situations. Just wait. Day had passed and going into the weekend we knew that the birth parents would most likely be making their selection this past weekend.

Anxious. Excited. Holding back hope. We tried not to put our hearts on the line and we tried to only see what God was showing us. Impossibly so. I know part of me just wanted to hear YES. Part of me thought this is exactly what God was leading us to. This was the mend to the heartbreak.

Last night, I e-mailed and asked for a timeline on an answer. Within moments I refreshed to read the words “sorry to tell you that she lost the babies. They could not find a heartbeat at her appointment Friday.”

Any just like that, two babies were gone. Not our babies, but maybe? It was more cutting than hearing “NO” which we have yet to hear. Only hearing

We start again. We start over. We revise and update our entire family profile book. We prepare our kid and our families and our home for another beginning. Now 7 months into our adoption journey and our hearts are full and at the same time hurt. We have been so lucky to love and to share our journey. We can only imagine what glorious unfolding lies forward. In faith.

Since I really dropped the ball on weekly portraits… I am just going to throw a bunch of lovely images into this post. NONE taken by me. That is how crazy my life has been the last two months. I think I will start this challenge all over again. I loved every post and I definitely miss picking up my camera and shooting for myself and my kids.

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Thank you to my lovely friend, Brooke Logue Photography for these stunning images.

The good news is that I know it can be fixed. It will be fixed. But first, God needs me to be broken. He needs me feeling weak, aching, and solely relying on his truth. I have read countless adoption stories. Ugly and scary stories. Rainbows and butterfly stories. I thought I was prepared and that in all honesty I would land among the rainbows. Why wouldn’t we? We have two gorgeous and healthy children, we have the support of our family, and we have financial stability. We enlisted an amazing consultant friend to help facilitate our adoption and before we knew it, there were situations flooding my inbox.

I prayed. “TWINS” kept ringing in my head. It is still there. Something in my head, something in my heart, I can’t even recall the moment I first felt that but I just can not shake it. Now we’ve seen twins. Once, twice, three times, and still we never moved. Along came what we pictured as a safe and timely situation, to which we put our “YES” on the table, and heard a “YES” in reply. A match. But in that same breath, I questioned. What about the twins? The emails continued and the calls came in, and there are more twins.

I do not know what God is planning for us. I can only imagine he needs to continue his work on me by breaking me further. I have to trust the only thing I know but right now I feel like I know so little. I feel like the weight of each story, the burden of every baby, is on my brain and in my heart. Just sitting here writing this I want to shout out because I absolutely have no clue what I am doing and if the decisions we are making are HIS. I constantly tell myself I can handle more and more and I always feel like not matter how full my plate looks, there is room in my heart for the work I was put on this planets to do. I’m just getting started. There are times when I feel like I have forever to accomplish something but then in a moment that changes and I have just minutes to move on something that could be ours forever. I’m not done. I’ve already brought it up to Mike that we aren’t done. This will not be the end. I know that, when God thinks I’ve had enough or I’ve done all he has asked of me, I will know. I’m far from that.

I’m praying tonight for all the babies, their perfect forever families, and that God knows my heart is only to please Him.

National Adoption Month is here! November is a great month to celebrate and educate on this topic, and although adoption is definitely not FOR everyone, I still believe it is really important to bring awareness to the topic and encourage those to want to be involved on any level, to do so. There are so many ways you can help, bless, encourage, and love on an adoptive family or adoptee even if your heart is not for personally being an adoptive family.

I figured I would open my Facebook to some questions that our friends might have about our adoption, our experience, or in general.

Q: Where are you in the adoption process?
A: Once we were homestudy approved, and active within the agencies we selected through our consultant (more on that in a sec) we have been carefully reviewing and praying over the situations we have been given. Right now, we are in waiting. Waiting to put our “YES” on the table, waiting to be matched, and waiting for what I absolutely believe will be God and his perfect timing. It is incredibly crazy and amazing to think that right now, our birthmom could be pregnant and considering an adoption plan. We could learn of her and her baby at any moment.

Q: How did you pick your agency? How were they different than others?
A: We decided that we would enlist the services of an adoption consultant. I may have mentioned this before, Casey is our consultant through Christian Adoption Consultants. They have great relationships with many agencies which allows us to be active with multiple agencies of our choice, within their network. The reasons we decided to do this was to have someone in our corner, walking us through all the paperwork (there is SO much paperwork) and getting us in front of as many situation as possible to make our match in a very short time. Keep in mind we have NOT presented to any birthmother yet, which means we could not have been matched yet either, and naturally because of this we are still waiting. On average, working with a consultant your wait time for a match could be zero days to 6 months.

Q: Would you adopt a child with a disability?
A: When filling out agency paperwork, the checklist of baby traits can be pages long. Each item must be marked if you would or would not consider a child with that characteristic. While it may be considered “cheating” we noted on our forms that of course we would ideally like a healthy baby, we would happily consider each baby on an individual basis. Thus far, we have seen very healthy babies and birth mothers who are selflessly doing the best they can to maintain good health during their pregnancy. It is a beautiful thing. I do know there are some agencies who work specifically with special need adoptions, however we are not active with one at this time.

Q: Would you consider twins?
A: YES. A million times YES. In fact, we prefaced ALL our forms with a our desire for multiples. From what we have been told, it is a bit rare to see twins and the wait/lead time may be longer, but we are certainly hopeful knowing that ultimately when our baby/babies come along, we will just know. If I told you the torture my husband has to endure from me pleading for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 kids, you would not even believe it.

Q: What time of support is there, locally, should you adopt a child with disability?
A: Because we are not currently exploring special needs children, I do not have a lot of knowledge on this. However, I do know that in general there is an abundance of adoption support both locally and nationally. I would imagine that finding a group tailored to specific needs would be pretty easy. As you all know, I am a HUGE fan of Instagram and the community I have built over there. Without question, my greatest adoption supports and friends have come directly from there. It is an amazing resource of love, financial help, grace, and prayer. The list goes on. I can’t imagine going through this experience alone (obviously my family is involved) but there is something to be said about hundreds of strangers coming together over a social media app and building dreams, funding families, and creating friendships.

I pretty much get asked the same two questions at the beginning of every conversation these days, so I figured I could answer them both here. Those two questions being “HOW IS THE COFFEE SHOP GOING/ WHEN ARE YOU OPENING?” and “WHAT IS GOING ON WITH YOUR ADOPTION?”
Great questions my friends, and luckily, I have answers.

The Seed. We are currently under construction with a potential opening date of November 1. Plumbing, electric, all that is happening this week. Followed by some air conditioning (good grief its a jungle in there) and then on to the pretty stuff like walls and a toilet. It feels like we are so close yet so far away. All the equipment for the coffee side, has been ordered. This week should firm up the rest of the major juice and operational needs. Designing this space has been an interesting challenge because I really had no idea what anything cost or what was even practical. When we built our house, it seemed like I was pointed in certain directions and almost anything was within our allowed budget. With the shop, we were all pretty clueless in the beginning. I can not for one second take a single ounce of credit for anything except the idea of this place. Mike, in true business man form, stepped up and made all the calls and contracts happen. He is a great guy to work for! HA! In the next week or so we will need to start the interview and hiring process which is probably going to be the biggest challenge I’ve faced thus far. I’m hoping the dream team will come together.

The adoption. We are waiting. We are praying. I know and trust that God’s timing is absolutely perfect and although I’m excited and anxious, learning to be patient in this process is huge. We have declined close to 15 scenarios (meaning birthmothers we could have chosen to present to) over the course of less than two months. I know that those babies will all find perfect and wonderful forever homes, and right now our baby could be growing and we just have yet to get the story! I pray for the woman whom tonight might be praying about the decision she is facing to place her child with an adoptive family, I pray she finds guidance, I pray for her to find strength and comfort, I pray for her to be covered in love.

So that is my quick little bring you up to speed. I will get over to the shop and snap a few pictures if there is anything good to see along the way.

xoxo

Last night was the kick-off General Membership Meeting (GMM) for the Junior League of Boca Raton. If you knew me as a sorority girl, my involvement in the JL should come as no surprise, as it is really just an extension of sorority life. This time I around, I drink much less and wear a lot more clothing, but we do not need to get in to those details. The topic for this meeting was highlighting one of our major areas of focus, Hunger. September being National Hunger Awareness month, it was a great way to hone in on such an important issue, one that impacts everyone in the country in one way or another, and believe it or not, right here in my city of Boca Raton. Living here for almost 20 years I never imagined that hunger and food insecurity lived in the same city where kids turning 16 were greeted with BMW’s topped by huge red bows in the parking lot for their birthday. Food insecurity is being defined as having a meal but never knowing how or when the next meal would come.

It is a very real issue here in Boca Raton. It is a real issue that goes beyond a homeless man or woman. This is an issue that strikes working men and women of all ages, families, and children. With the help of partners like Boca Helping Hands, we can make a change. The issue is not always poverty. The issue is not always lack of food. The issue is often times, food distribution. We live in a country that is wasteful and lazy when it comes to food and the needs of others. When it is easy to help, we often do. When it requires a sacrifice, we are likely to try and find a way around it. When we can ignore it, our lives go on the same. Often I wonder if I am not the one to step in, will anyone else? I tend to take on as many projects as possible simply because I fear they will go unnoticed or unsolved.

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This photo was taken by a man named Kevin Carter. You may have seen it before. A small and weak little girl, being preyed on by a vulture in Sudan. The story told by news sources is that her parents had left her behind to reach a food station and the child was too weak to keep up and stopped for rest. Kevin Carter was part of a caravan that pulled over after hearing the small cries and whimpers of the child. Sources suggest they waited for the vulture to leave, snapped the photo, and left. They believe the child was safe from this immediate danger but was no telling what occurred after.

The image was published. Kevin Carter received great recognition, including a Pulitzer Prize. Interview after interview, he was asked about his actions after he shot the image. “What did you do next?” and “So, then what did you DO?”

His response played over and over, “NOTHING.” Depression from his life choices, and the reality of his lack of action regarding this picture, led Kevin Carter to commit suicide just three months later.

If you need an image to call you to action, just drive past the Boca Helping Hands building during their meal service times. You will see a line that wraps around the building and you may even notice someone you work with, go to church with, have seen at the park with their kids, or even went to school with. Right now, in our area, 1 in 4 children are food insecure. Families seeking food income assistance are given a mere $4.50 a day, per person, to sustain themselves. Children who are part of the free lunch program, come back to school on Monday having not eaten more than a few calories if at all, all weekend. The statistics go on and on. However, we can make a huge impact by just spreading the knowledge and doing something.

Consider hosting a food drive among your family, friends, or co-workers. There is a constant need for non-perishable items such as canned goods, peanut butter, pop-tarts, canned milk, canned soup, rice, pasta, and mac and cheese. You can also help by encouraging food recovery. Whenever you go out to eat, or attend an event, ask if the leftover food is available for donation. Boca Helping Hands can pick up or accept drop off of perfectly usable food, and get it to the families who have immediate needs or service their hot meal program which feeds hundreds each day!

We can not wait for the undeclared war on hunger to end, we MUST be called to action. There is no act too small, there is no better time than today.

In honor of the child Kevin Carter so powerfully photographed here, and his September 13th birthday, I challenge you to DO SOMETHING. Do not ignore what you now know is real. We can change the Kevin Carter way.

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It has been THREE years since Mike and I said our vows. Now if you asked me exactly what those vows were, I don’t think I would be able to tell you and neither could he. The room was a little warm, and  we just wanted to party. Luckily, our witnesses can attest to them and I promise you they were pretty good. Our Pastor knocked it out of the park. People laughed and people cried. Some people we have not seen since that day, some we have grown increasingly closer to. So much has changed in just three years. Our family is growing, we have businesses growing,  and our foundation and faith is stronger.

Just a look back, at our “first look” which I think should be renamed the “forever look” now. Photos by Kat Braman Photography. You can see a few more from our wedding day on her blog, here.

 

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If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have noticed that for quite some time I have had a dream vision board up there called “Drip” on which you would find any and all things coffee. Coffee beans, mugs, coffee shops, coffee everything. You might also note that in real life, I love coffee. I would drink coffee all day and all night. I only go to bed so I can wake up and drink more coffee. I love it that much. I feel like I can not trust or understand a person who lives in a world without coffee. Not just drinking it, smelling it, understanding it, brewing it.

So rewind, or fast forward, whichever, to a dinner birthday about two months ago. Mike and I took seats next to our friends who never saw nearly enough because our kids were in different schools and we each had respective businesses and work/school loads. After a drink, or two, the topic of opening up a shop was thrown out. Dreams and Pinterest boards started flying and the next thing you know, we were creating P&L sheets and hunting for commercial real estate. No joke, this happened so fast.

Now, I can’t give away all of the excitement of our new venture, just know that THE very best coffee and juice, is coming to our community. We have so much passion for bringing people together and giving them an experience they would otherwise travel hundreds of miles for. If you put aside all the goodness of what is going into a cup at The Seed (and believe me there is a LOT of goodness) surely we believed there was something more that our community needed. Can you even remember back to the time before social media? Before you took a selfie? A time when dialing up and checking your email was really only a daily or weekly activity and not something you did refreshed every 30 seconds? If you can, you might recall being face to face with real people. Your family, your friends, your colleagues, or even strangers. There was so much excitement and anticipation in real conversations. There was so much relate ability and connections were made when you exchanged spoken words, face to face. Planning to meet someone, somewhere, and both of you actually showing up at the agreed upon time and destination. That was living your life. That was community. That was local.

The original Facetime. We want that back.

There is a need to spread coffee education and coffee appreciation. No more staring at a 20 item menu of sugary beverages that give no nod to the origin, farmer, and process by which the beans were brought to their current roasted and ground state for brewing. From seed to cup, coffee has a story.

Juicing should no longer be a buzz word, it should merely be a way back to the roots and goodness of food. There are wholesome, tasty, and nutritionally sound elixirs that for the most part can be sourced right in our own backyard. Learning to take what is available, seasonal, and beneficial to your body is something The Seed aims to do with their rotating selection of cold pressed juices and smoothies.

There will be so much more to share. I hope you will follow along with our journey. Find us on Facebook or Instagram for daily updates!!!

The seed has been planted.

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Pictured directly above is the open house dress from Tuesday, that she again wore today, Thursday.

London Belle.

Pre-k. I love her so and she makes me proud.

This morning was the second day of school. For those who might ask, I am not currently homeschooling. I definitely love the idea of homeschool, I am passionate about parenting and education, however when I attempted to start the process it was not ideal. We were moving, London was enrolled part time in school, and since then we have taken on more and more to add to our plate. London has had nothing short of a wonderful experience thus far in school and with teachers. She has always thrived in the classroom environment and surrounded by other children. She was born to shine. With her late birthday, she is the oldest in her class and thus not able to enter traditional kindergarten this year. We made the decision to continue with her pre school education, five days a week, and for the first time she is attending the full day. We both are taking some time to adjust to the new schedule and establish this routine.

The first morning was full of energy and excitement and a well executed plan. Today, on the second morning, I failed. I am the first to admit when I mess up and all too often I am a bit harsh on myself. All it took was about 5 minutes of the morning to mess me up for the rest of the day and this blog post is a direct result of that.

London has a strong personality. She knows what she likes and she is difficult to reason with on some topics. When it comes to her apparel, she is extremely selective in color, material, pattern, and pretty much the all around ensemble. We have spent hundreds of dollars on clothes, even items she has helped to pick out, hair accessories, shoes, you name it. What is all boils down to is usually a stack of silky pajamas and 4 dresses that she will agree to wear most days. This morning, I had asked her get dressed, and the same few dresses came downstairs with her. Along with a pair of light up Sketchers that I absolutely despise. I tried to re-route her to another option that included a dress with leggings, I pleaded with her not to the wear the same dress she had just worn 2 days prior at open house, I gave her every reason to change. I was mean, my words were harsh, and I was careless with her feelings. I told her that people might think she was dirty for wearing the same clothes. I told her that people might think we were poor. I told her that I thought the shoes she picked out were ugly. I actually said all those things to my daughter. How disgusting, to battle on such a superficial topic such as apparel. She was in tears, I was pushing her to go out of the house and out on her own in something she would not be comfortable in. I was concerned her appearance would be a reflection of myself, of my taste, of my preference for her.

I kissed her and told her I loved her at drop off, and got back in my car, I hated myself. I felt disgusted and that I had let her down. Why did I let what should have been NOTHING erupt into something that shattered my heart and let down my daughter? Why would I let my adult self get so out of control and use harsh language. Why would I speak so negatively to my precious four year old? No, she is not innocent all the time but at the end of the day, she is a delicate child. I wanted to run back in to the school and grab her, and beg for her to forgive me.

I am so grateful for GRACE. For a God that forgives and shows mercy on myself when I continue to do things that are not in his favor. Not intentional, just human nature. I’m encouraged that I can be renewed and each hour of each day can be started new. There is nothing more frustrating to me than the idea of letting down my family. I hope that with a little practice, planning, and a whole lot of patience, I will be able to avoid getting caught up in a silly morning battle that is not productive or encouraging. For now I am anxiously awaiting the hour to go pick her up and hug her and love her for all her moods and everything she teaches me.

The paper work is filed and our applications are complete. We are an “active” family with four agencies through out consultant, Christian Adoption Consultants. I must say that without the help of our consultant, Casey, I would feel like a complete scumbag of a human. You see, we have been reading over birthmom scenarios as quite a few have come our way. Four to be exact. Four selfless women who are placing four precious babies. Each one unique and wonderfully made. Each of these mothers facing their own set of challenges and struggles. Each of these children being given an opportunity to live a full life. Ironically, 3 of the 4 are not first born, nor are they even second born. Three of these babies are third children to their mother. Can you even imagine the heartbreak these women are facing when they acknowledge that they are unable to parent? Can you comprehend the confusion of the siblings as they see their pregnant mother that they know and love, and learn of the life growing in her body, and know this baby will not be part of their home?

For various reasons, Mike and I have not presented yet, as we feel God will speak to our hearts in the exact moment when our child and birthmom scenario is presented. Each time I write the e-mail and respectfully decline, I feel a smart part of my heart breaking because the nurturing and maternal side of me wants to bring home and care for every single orphan. If I could, we would be a party of at least 7 by now! I absolutely want to glorify my Savior who paid the price of death for me, who is a Father to all orphans and who absolutely makes no mistakes.

I am so grateful to Mike who is patient with me during this process, who knows my heart. I am lucky to have two beautiful and perfect children to already call my own. I am especially humbled by the support and encouragement of everyone who asks me about the process and gives me an opportunity to open up about adoption and advocate for something I believe in.

Disclaimer: I’m facing quite a bit of back to school anxiety and sadness. I do not love to be away from either of my kids and knowing London will be going back to pre-school 5 days a week (half or full day if I can handle it) is always really hard on me. For now, London is excited and eager to get back to school. She has always thrived in that setting but I miss her already.

I’m not Alanis or Giselle. I’m not Olivia Wilde. I’m not even a little bit famous. I’m Rachel Eade, and I’m a mother who nurses her babies. I nursed London for several reasons. At the time, it was all I knew thanks to my mother and the ladies in my family who exposed me to this natural feeding early on in life. My mom likes to remind me that I nursed until I was close to three, which is probably why I am so awesome. When London was born, buying formula was not a full time feeding option in my single mom budget. Luckily she was a champ and took to nursing very easily so the decision really was easy and we weaned around 15 months. Hudson, my now 20 month old, is still nursing. We nurse on demand, he can actually speak the words “I nurse” so there is no guessing his objective as he crawls into my lap. Maybe I am completely oblivious or just not concerned with what other people think of me when they see me nursing in public. I attempt to be modest and discreet but I can only suffocate my child under a blanket for so long. Sometimes the blanket falls off. Sometimes I do not have blanket or cover close by.

No one has ever asked ME to eat my meal in a bathroom stall or alone in a corner closet, so I will respectfully decline if ever asked to nurse my child in such a place. I have been quite appalled at exposed flesh on both men and women of all shapes and sizes, and to the best of my knowledge their flesh is not providing nutrients or comfort to another life. I do not understand why our culture has yet to full embrace the normalcy and beauty of nursing. The bond that can be made between a mother and child is incredibly strong. Let me also mention, selfishly, I lost every pregnancy pound and then some, thanks to nursing.

I’m super grateful to have these memories of nursing my children, and huge thank you to my dear friends Stephanie Cotta Photography for the beach capture and Kat Braman Photography for documenting us at home!

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Today would have been my Dads 52nd birthday (I think) and although I know he is enjoying his eternity in heaven, I can not help but wonder what he would be doing and how life would be if he were here. Right now, our lives are moving at a rapid pace, so much so that Mike and I keep looking at each other like “WOAH, WHAT ARE WE DOING?” We can not stay still. Always working, always planning, always moving towards something. My Dad had the nickname “Fast Eddy” and boy you better believe that he is the moving force in just about everything we are doing. Maybe giving Hudson the middle name Edward is in part why the kid is constant motion!

My to-do list is about a mile long but if one thing slows me down, it is soaking in every moment of my children. When they need to just be held, or tickled, or flown like airplanes on my feet, nothing else matters. The adoption files, the secret (but not for much longer) side project, the photography clients, the Junior League board, the laundry, it all had to wait. Today, tomorrow, in the very moment, what the needs of my children are takes over. Sometimes I just breathe in their freshly bathed hair and repeat in my head that they are totally enough. That if nothing else was ever accomplished and if I never succeeded at anything else I did, it would be ok. If we are never chosen by a birthmother, if we are never placed with another baby, I will be grateful for what God has given me knowing that is all I need.

I am forever grateful for a husband who supports and pushes me to do any and all the things I dream up. I can not thank my family and friends enough for being the sounding boards for my crazy ideas and getting just as excited about things I want to do, even if I never do them. I hope and pray that I live my life just in a way that when it ends I am greeted at the gates with a resounding “YOU DID IT ALL, THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT FOR YOU AND THAT MY DEAR IS WHY YOU’RE HERE!”

Never could I have dreamed of being where I am today. I’ve been insecure. I’ve been selfish. I’ve been foolish. I’ve been patient. I’ve been far from perfect, but I’m still in progress.

Rosy cheeks, melted ice cream lips.

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Creating a story about the 156 playing cards she spread all over the floor.

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Do not expect a heart warming or moving post here people.

Living in South Florida and mid-way through the scorching summer, I am finding myself already beginning to count down to Christmas and the possibility/idea of cooler weather. I have committed myself to creating a cute little countdown when we get to the “100 days” before Christmas mark. At the same time, the fact that summer is winding down means that fall fashion is about to hit stores and my BEST advice to all you mothering people out there, GO SHOPPING! Go shopping NOW and stock up on the sizes you think your child will be from now until about January of 2015. Once that fall merch is here you will be really hard up to find shorts, tee shirts, bathing suits, cute dresses, and basically everything else you need to live year round here. This happens to me every year where a kid has grown a full clothing size and I can not for the life of me track down any suitable new options. This year I’ve told London that she HAS to alternate from dresses to leggings because I seriously can not keep her in the same 5 maxi dresses she insists on wearing on rotation.

We have had some rough days, boring days, exhausting days, perfect days, exciting day, and all the in between days over the last couple months. I am reminded of all the goodness when I hear London laughing her innocent little hysterical laugh. This can be caught when playing hide and seek and you scare her (even though she tells you where she is and when to “find” her) or at random during an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. She really gets a kick out of all funny things about animals. You can imagine the laugh today when she was hiding from Mike and he scared her when “finding” her but he was hidden behind our chunky King Charles who he dangled in front of her with a confused look on his face.

Hudson amazes me every single day with his vocabulary. The sentences can be choppy but the child takes his vocab of well over 100 words and pieces things together like it is nobody’s business. He knows what he wants and he does his very best to tell you. He is such a smart little cookie. At this time in London’s life, she was preparing to start school 2-3 days a week. I often wonder if I’m doing the right thing in keeping him back a year, In my head he is well ahead of the average kid his age if there even is such a thing.

It was brought to my attention (thank you, dear Nikki) that not everyone is familiar with the words home study and what exactly the purpose of one is. It is my passion to bring awareness to the world of orphans and adoption, so I must first address the idea of a home study.

Today, we completed our home study. In addition to the background checks, financial supporting documents, family history, and 50 other worksheets we completed to prep for this the actual visit took about three hours.

Home study: according to Wikipedia,
A home study or homestudy is a screening of the home and life of prospective adoptive parents prior to allowing an adoption to take place. In some places, and in all international adoptions, a home study is required by law.
Even where it is not legally mandated, it may be required by an adoption agency. Depending on the location and agency, different information may be sought during a home study.
A home study can be used both to aid the prospective parents in preparing to raise an adoptive child, and to rule out those who are not fit to be parents.
The ultimate purpose of a home study is for the benefit of the child, not the parents. Therefore, screeners are instructed to be thorough in their examinations.
There is typically a cost to a home study, which is usually several hundred to several thousand US dollars. In most cases, the prospective adoptive parents are responsible to cover the cost.

We welcomed our social worker to the house at noon. She was extremely friendly and prompt both in scheduling the appointment and with her arrival today. We were told very little about what to expect other than she would be there for at least 3 hours or longer. In my mind, someone was about to come in to our home, interrogate everyone about why we wanted to adopt and then open every cupboard or drawer as they passed by with a clipboard and red pen hastily jotting notes about safety hazards and so on. I was not largely intimidated by this because for the most part my house is completely immaculate and I do raise two children here and they are healthy and safe. Regardless, I was completely wrong, and is the Wiki description. The ultimate purpose of a home study IS to benefit the parents. We began with a house tour, given by London. Mike and I held our breath because as she whisked Alice away from room to room, no one knew what commentary to expect. London dig a great job and was entertained all while giving out minimal details like boasting she knew my cell phone password. She also made a point to voice the idea of wanting to adopt twins and what she would name them.

We spent the next hour going over several details that first time parents would GREATLY benefit from such as car seat and crib safety, feeding, and overall resources for raising a newborn. It was obvious we needed little education in that department and by this time London was off in the corner of the living room playing with her dolls and Hudson had fallen asleep.

Mike and I sat and listened to details about the adoption process from here on out. Scenarios and statistics about birth mothers, how to manage and advocate for ourselves during the process, and what the expect in the way of finances and execution of bringing home the baby. I was prepared for some of the details but I definitely walked away with a much greater knowledge of and appreciation for the process. I understand now how or why a birth mother makes this ultimate decision, why it is so important for the future of our child, to keep an open mind about allowing the birth mother to have access to updates and vice versa. I learned, a hard fact, that this is a business. There are babies born and there are babies placed, and there is a price.

Mike and I were asked questions about our childhood, the good and the not so great. Mike was again reminded of things that he either forgot or never had which makes me sad but in a way I know that he would not be the amazing husband and father that he is if it was not for the experiences he had. Our children now and in the future are very lucky to have him. Even with a terrible head cold he sat by my side and diligently participated in the study even though his work inbox was rapidly filling up (he probably averages 40 new emails an hour.)

The visit ended, we paid for it to the tune of $1,000 and were told to expect the completed and sealed copy in about a week. Technically at that point we are open for business and our birthmom could definitely already be out there! The journey thus far has been smooth and fairly quick. I know that may not be the case from here on out. We anxiously await what the next few weeks or months may bring!

I definitely do not mind the summer here in Florida. Sure it can be hot or rainy, but we usually make the most of both scenarios. The middle/end of a rainy day can tend to get really sketchy around here. Having been cooped up in the house too long, we all start to get crazy and desperate. Hudson here, is trying to be sneaking with some gummy bears (I will post the picture of when he mistakenly grabbed a sour watermelon) and London is fresh out of a solid 20 minute time out scenario where I spent the entire thing with her in her room, trying to talk her down and out of her freak out. It was laying in there in that moment, among others, where I have very recently seen in her, the exact personality of her biological father. I do not often talk about it, although sometimes Mike and I discuss it. I can see the way her mouth twitches to one side, the way her eyes move in her head, and the inability to calm herself down or get under control both scares and frustrates her and us. I dearly love my children and I am so beyond grateful for this little weekly series because looking back on each of these pictures is retelling the story of that day or moment for me.

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I saw some quote the other day, not the first time I had seen it, but it on point with what I’m feeling. “If you think my plate is full, you should see my heart” or something along those lines. If I list all the things I currently have going on or in the works, I’m somewhere between an anxiety attack and fantasy land. It is definitely true, for me, that I like to stay busy and I also hate to turn down opportunities. In speaking with a friend the other day they questioned everything going on in my world with a sort of “are you absolutely crazy?” A little bit crazy that is sure, and I know that the busy and chaos will not last forever.

In who days we are finally going to have our home study. A social work by the name of Alice will be coming to the house for about 3-4 hours in which she will learn about us, educate us, and hopefully write up and amazing home study that will quickly move us to “active” in the adoption game. Our amazing consultant, sent me a sample of a birth mom scenario that she received this week. It was so interesting as Mike and I sat on the couch reading it, I could only imagine that in a fairly short time, those scenarios will require us to respond as to whether or not we want to present our family profile for consideration. (We are not able to do so until the home study is approved.) As we learned about the 20 year old parents, who are looking to place their baby boy who will be born in October, we heard about their medical history, education, family background, and wishes for the child and future adoptive family. In my head as I read over the profile I could not help but think how hard that decision was for these two who simply felt they were too young and unprepared to parent the child themselves. How could I list in just a few sentences, what I would want for my child if these were to be raised by “strangers” and placed in a home, never for me to see again? Courage and power.

Our profile books will be arrived today and I can not wait to share them with everyone. I want to smash myself in the face because of course reviewing it I noticed a single grammatical error that I overlooked when editing. UGH.

So my point here is really a self-reminder. I want to always take advantage of any opportunity that is presented. How can I become a better person? What will enrich the value of my life or the life of my family? Am I going to make a difference in someone or something around us? Will the benefits or success outweigh the risks. So many of these are really difficult to answer right now. I can say how excited I am about all the new things that COULD happen for me and my family. I can say that I’m completely trusting God will the decisions and people and places he puts in my life. I am completely resting on the idea I will never be given more than I can handle and to everything there is a season. 2014 is pretty much turning my life inside out.

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A few nights ago, after the kids were asleep, Mike and I sat down to complete several sets of paperwork for our adoption consultant and homestudy prep. I think as much as we were both open to everything that could be asked of us, it was an interesting reality to face some of the questions and have to physically write a response. By physically I mean I wrote everything because my handwriting is much neater and Mike did all the typing because he can probably type 5,000 words per minute. I handled all the easy and boring part like name, address, and social which I must have been asked at least ten times. Mike handled all the financial line items because although I do all the bill pay, I’m not much of a math major nor do I have a memory for things with numbers.

A few of the fun questions were about how Mike and I met and the story of our courtship, marriage, and parenting thus far. We even muscled through the checklist of items for selecting your child and the multiple physical, mental, and emotional preferences you have for them and their birth parents. For some reason I feel like I could have skipped that part because God already has it all planned out but none the less we did our best.

The hardest part for me was when I had to list the death of my father as well as describe that time in my life. Without a question that was the biggest loss I have ever faced and recalling how I still deal with it on a daily basis. I had so many wonderful and descriptive responses for the questions related to my childhood and my upbringing. I could go on and on about my parents and family, traditions, family vacations, and all the wonderful memories that I so very eagerly want to give my children. It was heartbreaking for me to ask the same questions back to Mike, who kind of looked at me with a blank stare. Most of his greatest memories of growing up come from times he spent in sports and with his friends. We know little of his father (although in a Facebook discovery tonight we realized they’re identical in physical features) and he few things to report back that were exciting times for him. Surely some people might thing this would make for a rough lesson in parenting but if I could tell you without a doubt, Mike give to his children 200% of what he should have had and would have deserved growing up. Mike looked up to the men who raised his closest friends and surely he reflects all that was good in each of them. Part of our passion to adopt is coming from two different places but meeting together and giving the entire world to a child (or two) who may not otherwise be given life.

This week I will be putting together our family profile book to present to potential birth mothers. I am so eager to share “us” and I only hope I can find the way to do it withing the 20 pages of softcover book I am allowed! Of course narrowing down pictures is super critical to me!

Looking on at our life, what might you see that I could and should share with a woman who is making the decision to place her child with us?
If you were in the position to place your child, how could we meet your needs and wants for that baby?

I would so love for you to share with us!

This post is a mix of a dream and a fairy-tale. I am not sure at what point the idea of “adopting” becomes real. With my own pregnancies, it took a while for the surreal feeling to go away and the actual reality of bringing a new life in to the world set in. I can not recall the exact moment aside from the first time I laid eyes on my children in the delivery room. No ultrasound, no fetal doppler, and no baby shower could prepare me for feeling the raw love and emotion of holding my baby in my arms. Now, Mike and I have officially announced our plans to adopt. We have enlisted the help of an adoption consultant and we are tackling the piles of paperwork (not good when I can not figure out our printer for the life of me) and to-do lists that come along with this process. With this child there will most likely be no doctor visits and no ultra sounds. There will be no nasty prenatal vitamins, no morning sickness, and no cravings. With this baby there will anticipation, a lot of unknowns, and a true test of patience. This will be a pregnancy on paper and in our hearts but the rest will be carried out by a birth mother who will one day look through our family profile and choose to place that child with our family.

London has been part of the conversations and I never want to forget all the adorable ways her mind is processing the future with a new sibling. When we ask her if she wants a new baby she eagerly responds with yes and that she wants a boy and a girl. She was also quick to remind us that while she was happy to add to the family, she did not want to get rid of Hudson! I keep baiting her with baby names in hopes that she will stumble upon one we love and that it can be “her idea” in naming the baby. There is no doubt in my mind when I see London and Hudson around other babies, they both have loving hearts that are way bigger than the little chests that house them.

Given the timeline we know that it is possible, right now, for our future child to already be created and growing. We may not yet know the race or the gender or even where this is happening but I guess that is part of the excitement. I am so very grateful for all the encouragement and well wishes we have already received. I am blown away by all the stories we have already heard from other families who have wanted to adopt or have plans to do so. Homestudy, here we go!

This video is my adoption anthem! Play it loud!!

These kids just melt me, more times than not I find myself sprinting to grab my camera. I forgot how much Hudson loved snuggling his blankets as a tiny baby I carried them with us everywhere. I grab them whenever we travel because they come in handy for a million reasons. This past weekend when I took a few for Disney, he quickly latched right back on to them and has been dragging them around the house. He LOVES to be wrapped up in them! As for London, she got a new maxi dress and this girl loooovessss herself a maxi dress, just like her mamma!

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I hope I always remember how Hudson sits with his ankles crossed! Loooove!

We just arrived back home after a very quick trip to Walt Disney World. We had a few days left on our passes that were going to expire and found accommodations at our favorite Disney property, the Contemporary. I could use this post to tell you about how I get anxiety before we travel with the kids, how London cried for the entire first day all six hours in the park, or how much I disliked or enjoyed certain things like the brutal temperatures or Nespresso machine in our club level suite. The list could go on, but no, this post will not be about all of that. This post won’t even really be about Disney except for what I’ve already mentioned and the images I’ll attach.

On our last meal, we sat next to a family from Wisconsin who was visiting for the first time. The children appeared to be five and sevenish. The boy was polite and eager to meet each character as the came around the table. You could just sense his enthusiasm and appreciation for the trip. I would overhear his comments about what he thought each character was doing when they stepped out to take their short breaks. He was grateful for the food, and ate well. He had patience for his little sister and London who occasionally pestered him with trivia about her dolls. The mother appeared to be tired and mentioned that this was their last of five days visiting the Orlando theme parks! At one point, I looked over as she was on her phone (not being nosey but we were only inches apart) and saw she was checking her online banking. The screen was big and bright, showing her VIP checking account balance of $142.58. Who knows if this was her only account, or just an account she had set up for the trip. I do not even know if this was her banking information, maybe she was checking funds she had set up for the kids. No idea. It got me thinking about how when I was growing up, my parents worked very hard to give us everything we ever needed or wanted. I recall (and there is a very nifty scrapbook to document) our first trip to Disney. There were no airplane rides involved, we drove. No luxury hotels, no park concierge, no endless shopping sprees in the gift stores, but still we had it all. The memories far outlasted any Disney branded item we could have carried home. The value and family experience is obviously still something I think about to this day and when I plan vacations with my children I know that my time with them is more precious than any toy.

To me, I know there is nothing more priceless than being PRESENT with my children. I know that nothing makes my mama heart happier than holding my children or watching them smile in awe of the world around them. I know that mother next to me at the table was doing everything she could for those same reasons and despite what could have been her dwindling bank account.

Now lately my husband and I have been discussing the future of our family and the costs involved with a potential adoption. If you have never known anyone who has adopted or looked into it for yourself, I can tell you that for a domestic adoption you are looking anywhere from $25-50k or more. There lies some concern in how growing our family this way could mean changes financially for everyone. So if you had access to that money, or the ability to get funded for such a thing, would you spend it on the future happiness of another child? An orphan? Would you be willing to redistribute your current assets to make room for another life? Would you find a way to make a dream come true, even if it meant you might be left with just a little bit less for a little while?

Do you know that our God is a God who provides?

What would you do if you had no fear?
What could you give if you weren’t afraid?
Would you take your children to Disney, would you make their childhood dreams come true?
Would you expand your family, would you welcome an orphan?
Would our love for another child be greater than the love for something material?
Would you give your children the world, or the world to other child?

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…

Anyways, I’m tired and under the weather, but no post is complete without a few pictures!

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I can not even handle these two kids. No, literally, I can barely survive each day. They are SUCH a handful. But that is for another post!

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We had a sick day here. Last week, Hudson has some terrible virus with a fever of over 103 for several days. Poor kid was like a limp noodle. Shortly after the fever subsided, a runny nose and cough began but both were pretty mild. Over the weekend he seemed to be heading into recovery so we opted for a beach day on Saturday. Sure enough, the very next day, London and Mike woke up with terrible congestion, runny noses, sniffles, sneezes. Snot was just running wild. London couldn’t breathe to sleep last night and Mike was steady sneezing and snoring.

Bright and early, I did a major haul of close to $100 in cold remedies. My house smelled like a 1999 rave party, menthol blowing through the air and although she sounded like crap, London was twirling around the house most of the afternoon. Probably one of the most frustrating parts of having a sick kid is when they do not feel like they need to rest and you can’t get them to do what their bodies need to do to feel better. Probably the most frustrating part of having a sick adult, is finding that they left a tissue in their clothes when you pull out the wash.

The cutest thing was every single time Hudson heard Mike sneeze, he would jump up and grab a tissue and run to wherever he was in the house and give it to him.

Tomorrow will likely be another day of the same, forcing London to try and relax since I refuse to send a snotty nosed kid to school. Here is a glimpse of a sick day morning here, begging kids to rest…

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In true husband form, I received my Mother’s Day gift early. Mike will tell you that it was because London insisted she wanted to give it to me right away, but I know him and I know he was just as excited to gift me something special. I knew whatever he got was limited to few quantities and only located in a few stores around the country. Needless to say, it was a Pinterest dream come true with the help of my sister and the Louis Vuitton customer service! HA!

You might think nothing could spoil the day after opening that gift but let me be honest, the past week has been very challenging as a mother. Mike was out of town and as usual very busy with work. London has been in rare form, disobedient, defiant, and downright nasty at times. Hudson was incredibly sick and running a 103-104 fever for almost 48 hours. Such is the life of a mother. Your job never rests and it never ends. My entire body is sore and achey from carrying children and internalizing stress. My brain feels fried. My patience has been tested and my ability to show grace has been all but exhausted. Epic meltdowns and lots of tears shed this week. One thing plays in my mind, somewhere not too far away is a mother who is hurting. A mother who has lost a child and a mother who is yet to bear a child, both would absolutely welcome the chaos and trials that I face with two alive and radical children.

Mother’s Day can be a real challenge. I have friends who read this blog and have lost children to miscarriages. There are women who read this blog that have yet to become pregnant and struggle with fertility. I know of two mothers that buried children in the past week, both from tragic car accidents. Somewhere out there tonight is a mother giving birth to a child who will be given up for adoption. ALL these women are mothers and might gladly trade places with me, a mother who just had a rough day.

I see the good in everything here. The sour days remind me just how sweet the other days are. The echoing screams of a car ride are quickly stomped out by the sweet chirps of “You’re the most exceptional mother ever.” There are no gifts greater than the health and safety of my children, regardless of the day or the situation. I am blessed beyond comprehension and I absolutely know that.

Here are my thoughts each and every mother who has, had, and wishes for a child. You become a mother first in your heart, and one day it will be made whole whether on earth or in heaven or both. Mothering is something that starts in your heart and only grows. There are children out there who need you in this lifetime and that is why I so very strongly believe in the adoption process. Part of my heart feels like there is someone out there who needs me and I will continue to seek out the will of God for my family.

Thank you to all the women in my life who have made me the mother I am today and continue to encourage and support me on this journey. My grandmothers, mom, aunts, friends, you are all so special.

To my very own, there are no limits to what you will do for your family. You drive me absolutely crazy but that is what makes you great. Thank you for fighting to create our family, grow our family, keep our family together, and for all the love you give to my children. Words could never do justice to your actions.

I know the flowers and cards and gifts are so wonderful and well deserved. Mother’s Day should be special, but then again every single day should be special. I want my children to know that for every ounce of love I give them, I have felt it back from them. I’m grateful for every single breath they take, scream they release, and smile they radiate. Now, bring me some coffee, please!

 

xoxo

 

Pictures courtesy of Kat Braman Photography.

 

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Hi! Rachel Eade is a writer & photographer. Chocolate Milk & Mustard Seeds is her dream forum. She lives in Boca Raton, Fl with her husband and children.

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