You are in our dreams.

We co-slept with Lola for three years.  Maybe, for us, a good 2.5 years too long. (eh, kind of kidding) It wasn't something we planned but it was just plain easier.  We tried more times than we could count to transition her to her own beautiful, iron crib.  By the age of 1, the pretty but hated crib came down and she had a toddler bed. Finally at almost 3 years old, she was sleeping in her own bed, now a twin.  We put a second twin mattress on her floor and Clay and I switched off every other night for two months sleeping in her room.  Finally- success!!  Then a month later, Oliver was born.  Co-sleeping wasn't his thing.  And neither was ours at this point.  After a few weeks, he slept wherever he wouldn't cry, which typically meant in a bouncy seat with weighted blankets or pillows on him and frequent bouncing at all hours of the night.  Co-sleeping started to sound much easier again.  But it never worked out and that was more than okay. 

So here's the deal.  I guess I created a snuggling snob of Lola. I normally don't like the word snob, but think of this as an affectionate term in this instance.  Lola loves to snuggle with me.  So it isn't unusual for her to still make her way to our room here and there.  Last night was one of those nights.  

Around 1 a.m. she crawls into bed with me. I lift the sheets enough for her to get settled in and as always, wraps her arm around me and goes right to sleep.  A couple hours later I wake up to find her staring at me with wide eyes and even a wider smile.  Creepy?  It would have been, but she was glowing.  I could tell she had something she was very excited about.  She didn't leave me anytime to wonder what it was… 

Lola: {With more excitement than anyone could handle} Do you know what I just dreamed about? 

Me: No, what? {curiosity had the best of me, although I was prepared for her to say something about a beach trip or cake with just icing}

Lola: Mei. {My heart perks up!} She was in my dreams.  She slept with me and then we woke up and I fixed her a cereal bar. 

Me: That's so sweet Lola. {In my sweetest voice, which we call our Jesus voice around here}

And we both smiled at each other, more connected than the hours before we went to sleep, and dozed back off. 

She woke up talking more about it and then at nap time, while I worked on the last of my dolls, typed this out.  (also want to note she printed a dozen copies and cut them, so she could give them out to family)    

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This is a long post based off one dream Lola had… but it's so much more.  It's about our family evolving.  About God being intertwined into all the details, even while we sleep. 

 A seed was deeply planted in my heart for Mei when Oliver was itty bitty and very unhappy.  As I worked endlessly to get him settled, happy and healthy with only enough room to make sure my marriage and daughter stayed cared for in the process, I had a deep yearning for Mei.  I knew God was preparing my heart and soul for our third child.  Oliver has taught me so much about life, children, parenting, and change.  He's taught Clay and I how to be a better team.  He's taught me to trust God and enjoy all the moments. He taught me how to advocate. He showed us what an incredible big sister Lola is. Oliver plays a very important role in our family. And he should.  Like me, he is now a middle child.  He's the creme in the Oreo.  He will hold us all together in a unique way.

Fast forward three years- this planted seed has grown and grown in all of our hearts.  God used lots of baby tears and turned them into a sea of love. Last month, we got the sweetest picture.  And a very short description of a little one who had been in an orphanage for over two years.  Our hearts were broken, but bonded.  

Our kids also soaked in that moment. Their hearts were softened, and curious, and ready to bring Mei home.  Both kids talk about her often.  Lola is adamant on sharing a room with her and Oliver carriers her picture around. Clay and I have the sweetest, most intimate conversations about the love we have for all THREE of our children now.

So to have my six year old Lola wake up to tell me she saw her sister in her dreams makes me cry.  It makes me cry because Mei is ours and all of our hearts are fully open to her.  It makes me cry because God shows up in unique ways to prepare us and show us love.  It makes me cry because the seed keeps growing. It makes me cry because I wonder if we are in Mei's dreams.  She is in ours, but even more, she is in our hearts, our minds, and our soul.  She is loved unconditionally and we haven't even held her yet.

Sweet Mei, I hope God places us in your dreams and hearts.  Sending you lots of love, my girl, as I impatiently wait to hold you.      

 

                  

 

 

Dinner Date?

So I have a confession.  When I reached out to the adoption community before starting the process, I often was met with a "Congratulations! I'll be happy to share our story with you… would you like to come over for dinner?"  Gulp.  Dinner?!  Like at someone's house?  With people I don't know?  My picky, weird eating habits are impossible to hide and not nearly normal enough to explain to other adults.  My introverted side wins over and I suddenly start sweating looking for a paper bag to breathe in.  I pretty much never took the bait.  Not because I wasn't serious, but because I was still living within my comfort zone.  

Bauhahaha. {out of control laughter} 

My comfort zone has left me long ago through this process. And will time and time again, I know.  I am surrendering to that because I believe big things happen when I keep stepping forward even if it feels unfamiliar and at times scary.   What's taken you out of your comfort zone and into a new one?  A new baby, a new calling, marriage, a move, a death, school, divorce, new friends, etc..  Maybe nothing is forcing you into a new comfort zone.  I encourage you to take the leap, feel unsafe, and step outside your comfortable walls.  Whether it's going to a new meet and greet of some sort, or starting a new hobby or it's switching careers, growing your family, or saying yes to something bigger.  I think you'll find it's worth the sweating and paper bag breathing.  

Moms… remember  before kids when you were politely modest and dreaded the yearly vagina check ups?  Remember when you always locked the door to pee? Remember when you had a flat tummy you didn't show off nearly enough? Fast forward post babies and now don't you love how your breast might as well be elbows! And a gyno visit is like having coffee with your old college roommate… Don't forget to ask the doctor if that's your bladder playing peek-a-boo with your vagina? (It is though.)  And you sometimes forget to shut the door at a public restroom because you're just peeing after all.  Oh and no one notices the maternity jeans a year later and yoga pants every other day. (wink, wink).  Having babies sure has a way of accelerating us into new comfort zones, don't they?   

Being a mom is an easy example of how new callings can takes us out of our comfort zones and create new ones whether we like it or not.  Sometimes the transition from the old comfort zone to the new one is flawless, sometimes it's a hot-mess, and sometimes we wish we had a do over. But the transition happens wether we like it or not and because we are strong women- we find our new way.  I love my mom jeans.  I love my babies. And I love my baby daddy. I have had an easy baby and a not-so-easy baby.  Both amazing kids.  They each are loved fiercely and unconditionally.  

And you know what?  I've got more love to give.  Also, more time, more rooms, and more advocating.  I have a husband and kids cheering me on as they feel the same- and a marriage and family built on a solid foundation.  And a big fat feeling deep inside my heart that I am doing exactly what I have been called to do.     

So what's that mean? My comfort zones are being left behind again as I open my heart to love more babies that I didn't birth this time around.  I am saying yes.  Hello new comfort zone.  (If you ever wondered why we are adopting- this is why!  There's a need and we feel called to it.)  

Saying yes was the easy part for us… it made sense.  But saying yes doesn't land a baby on my doorstep. Questions we hear a lot: Why not more biological children? How did you decide to adopt internationally from China? How has the process been? How much longer? What age? Is Clay on board? Special needs? How do you afford $35,000 to adopt? How do you connect with others? Where do I begin?  

And now because this journey is so very personal to me and I am way outside my comfort zone and I like it, I ask….

Want to have a dinner date?  

...And don't be fooled- we will definitely just meet at Chick-fil-A.  Cooking is way out of my comfort zone. ;) 

 

 

         

 

 

      

Her first.

The other day I was in a rush and quickly pulled into my driveway and under my carport noticed a package.  A package?! I loooovvveee packages! Mainly because I love surprises and considering I always forget when I order off Amazon, it's always a fun surprise.  I grabbed the box and jumped back in the car.  But then I noticed no 'Amazon Prime' tape.  I took a better look and noticed it truly was a surprise! A friend I have made a connection with through MaeBeSew sent it.  My initial thought was "Is she mailing back a doll she's ordered?"  Like anyone who loves surprises, I decided I could be late and opened the box.  

And then the tears came.  I cried.  And cried. 

Lola was super curious and concerned by this point and wanted clarification if I was happy crying or sad crying.  I guess both.  

I carefully pulled out a lovely handmade quilt tied in a bow with a very sweet and encouraging note from someone who gets "it." The quilt was for my Mae.  The heaviness of this moment will never leave me.  

You all.  

This is her first item... EVER.  

All hers.  Made just for her.  She's there.  We are here.  She's waiting.  And so are we.  But our gain, is born from her loss.  Something that weighs heavy on me heart.   

Lola understood it too.  Our social worker has had great, age-appropriate conversations with Lola on what Mae's life might look like right now and how she, as a big sister, can show her love.  It was a sweet moment for Lola and I to connect.  We were both proud of Mae's new quilt. Her first of many items just for her.   

Mae's new quilt felt like love in a box offered to me and Mae.  Becky (the gifter) was speaking my love language right when I needed it.  The love I felt from that, she'll never know.  There was magic in that moment for someone else to encompass her presence.  And for me to hold the quilt, felt like the closest I could get to Mae.  In fact, the quilt is in my work room and I often find myself using it.  It's my little bit of Mae.    

Sometimes it's in the little moments, sometimes it's in the big moments, but this time it was in the stitching. Thank you Becky.  

     

Comparison is the thief of JOY

Yeah, I think Instagram was the death of blogging for me.  Anyone else?  I have to admit, Instagram can be quite addicting.  I never got into the Pinterest crave… sure, I enjoy it here and there.  Find recipes, dream kitchens, and a holiday idea or two, but nothing over the top.  I don't have thousands upon thousands of pins.  If I did, I'd probably hate my house, think the valentine's gifts I made for twelve 2-year olds suck, want to bake sprinkle covered cookies all day while only accomplishing day 1 of the 30-day ab workouts.  (A little dramatic? I think not.)

So Instagram for the win.  I can post quickly throughout my day, document kid stuff, shop for things that would take you 50 garage sales to find, find support, network, grow a business, etc… It seems like such a win, win.  At least it did for awhile.  Not so much now.  It's still offers all those things.  But, for me, it leaves me more discontent, rather than feeling joyful. So this quote that I used to overlook- suddenly means something to me. 

                                                                                                 source: modifyink.com

                                                                                                 source: modifyink.com

I have seen this quote everywhere lately.  It didn't grab me at first because I didn't think I could relate.  I am not a jealous person.  Not a struggle for me.  I don't look at neighborhoods and wish I lived there.  I don't want my husband to have your husband's job.  I don't care if my house isn't as clean as my neighbor's.  I didn't find myself jealous so therefore I concluded I don't compare. Do you compare? Do you realize you are comparing?  Because I realized I actually do. Or maybe by seeing everyone's else's life or business, I feel the need to step up my game when maybe my game is just fine.  And in return, I was adding unnecessary pressure.  As I followed more people, specifically women-led businesses on instagram, I started realizing I was suddenly stressed after browsing through my feed, felt unsettled in wife mode versus mother mode versus business mode. I was comparing. I was comparing to moms who worked from home creating businesses that started much like mine.  They had growing, hand-made businesses with professional photos, advertising, networking and sales.  I was suddenly overwhelmed and stepped back to realize it was my own brain creating unneeded expectations and pressure to do more. But not from my hard-working, supportive husband.  Not from my kids.  Not from my family and friends.  Just me.  And my newsfeed.  

So I let it go.  I refocused on why I make my dolls.  And that's because I love it most days and it's a way to help our family continue to follow our dream, which I am thankful for.  A big part of our dream right now involves growing our family from 4 to 5 through adoption. I adore being a mom.  And it's prime time to be a mom.  I mean, seriously.  I have a 5 year old and 2 year old.  After we adopt, will I continue to make dolls?  Probably.  When my kids are older will I adventure down the business side of the street more.  Probably.  But there's no pressure anymore to have it all figure out. 

And for Instagram. We are still friends.  I love the friends, strangers, businesses, and stores I follow.  But I don't spend much time browsing my feed.  It's kind of like sodas.  If I keep them in the fridge and know I can have one anytime I want- I actually drink them less, but still treat myself here and there.  If I did away with them completely and said I was never drinking sodas again- I'd crave them all the time and I'd find myself pulling up to Sonic every afternoon pushing that glorious red button.  

Plus I like seeing my little sister's amazing and quirky photos too much- like these! Isn't she a beauty? 

So I guess this is welcome back to blogging for me.  Should I have started with something lighter? Nah. You know the answer to that now.  This is me.  My thoughts.  And I like to try and keep it real. Oh.  And you'll probably hear a lot of adoption talk because half my heart is in China right now waiting for Mae to come home.