Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in a few words

I am going to begin with today, the 31st of December.  Grey said the words, "I love you mommy!" to me as she and Chet walked out the door.  THAT is the best way to end the year!

I think more than any year in our entire marriage (and lives for that matter) this year included the most changes for us:

Grey started running and hasn't ever stopped in January!
Grey Danelle turned 1 on March 22nd!
Decided we wanted to be closer to Lubbock family, schools, doctors and amenities so we placed our home on the market in the spring.
Sold our home and bought a new one in Wolfforth in June!
Moved the last weekend of June!
I became a Nerium Brand Partner in July!
I started co-teaching Jumpstart in August.
Grey started school two days a week in August.
Grey started speech therapy in August.
Praised God for our son's life for three years on his 3rd birthday on August 28th.
Found out we would be adopting in September!
Chet started a new job (praise God!) in October!
Stopped teaching in October, and was able to dedicate more time to Nerium!
Moved Grey to a better school for her in October!
Advanced to Executive Director with Nerium in November!
Completed our entire home study and all adoption paperwork in November!
Welcomed our precious Rose Catherine on December 23rd!
Stepped off the board of Holden Uganda on December 31st.
*This needs an explanation so here is what I wrote on my Facebook status:
In the past three years, we have been overwhelmed with the support and love in our son's honor to build clean water wells. Holden Uganda has built over 150 water projects, far more than we ever dreamed.

Our decision to leave the Board has been one we've prayed about for the entire past year. We know all things have seasons, and we wanted our son's legacy to end in a good season.

We are still VERY passionate about clean water, and look forward to working with The Ugandan Water Project and Charity Water in the future (both amazing organizations).

The Holden Uganda Foundation Board voted to not dissolve, and not remove Holden's name from the Foundation, but Chet and I have no part of Holden Uganda from here on out.

We are grateful to our Lord and Savior for His abundant blessings and grace over this ministry ... And so very grateful to all of you who supported it.

We want family and friends to know we are not part of Holden Uganda or any of its future endeavors.

This year was filled with countless emotions, both good and difficult.  Our family experienced many changes that stretched us and made us so grateful for a God who is mightier than any troubles and stresses.

These past few years remind me of how fast time really does pass us by.  May we always remember to glorify the Creator of each day.  Thank you Lord for your unfailing mercy, blessings, love and grace.

Happy New Year's to our friends and family!

How can I repay the LORD for all His goodness to me? Psalm 116:12

Rose 1 week

One week of bliss, really.  I believe Rose is a gift from heaven in every single way.

At one week old, Rose is:

  • The BEST sleeper!!  We have to wake her up to eat in the middle of the night!  She is a SUPER SLEEPER.  Such a difference from her big sister ;).
  • Smiles all day.  For reals.  I know it's likely a muscle reaction, but she is the happiest, most easy going baby.  JOY.
  • Such a snuggler.  We don't argue here.
  • Perfect. 

At her 1 week well-check today:
Weighed 6 lbs 10 oz - 25%
Was 19.5 inches long - 60%
Head 13.8 inches circumference - 60%

I plan on purchasing a large stuffed animal that we can do these comparison photos with, like Grey's grey bear pictures, but I am afraid to go in public with all the crazy flu and viruses going around.

I realize I didn't post this blog last night.  Oops.  I am a day late on her weekly blogs already!

This is what the LORD says - he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rose's story

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5
Daddy's first time to hold Rose

If there's one thing I am not short of, it's words.  Yet every time I sit at my computer to type out Rose's story, I find myself staring through tears at a blank screen.  I will do my best to share a little of her story,  as it is a huge testament of God's goodness and perfect plans.

Chet and I have always known we would adopt, and known any children added to our family from here on out would be adopted.  This summer, we knew it may be quite a few years before we were able to adopt though, so we laid those plans out before Christ.  To be honest, I was disappointed and had to remind myself to mindfully praise God in the "hard" - knowing that His plans are always greater than my own.  In July we decided to get serious about saving up to adopt, and wait on the Lord to open doors up "in Uganda" or "wherever" He might do so.  I started Nerium in July to help out with those plans financially, "far in the future".

In August, Chet and I learned of a precious birth mom who was making the most selfless decision of all: adoption.  She wanted to give the child growing inside of her a family with a mom and dad.  At that point, we decided maybe our only part in her story, and her baby's story, was to pray for them.

So we did.  We prayed every day for her, never imagining our stories to intertwine past prayer.  My heart went out to her, knowing the weight of her decision.  The selflessness of choosing life.  The sacrifice she was making.  Hurting for what we knew she would feel one day, leaving a hospital without the baby she had been carrying for nine months.  We already loved her and felt as though we would never forget her no matter what.

We never imagined adopting domestically, or even what that looked like.  We never imagined adopting a child at birth.  And we most certainly never imagined actually meeting and falling in love with the birth mom of our future child(ren).  

In September, we received an email from our birth mom, sharing her story and sharing with us that she was carrying a girl.  This email changed everything we ever knew, and our lives forever.  We wrote back and forth a few times, and agreed that we should meet and get to know each other in person.  On September 21st, we met our earthly hero.  A beautiful, brave, amazing woman who was making the hardest decision one could ever make to give her child a life she could not give.  If our stories together ceased there, I believe she would still be our earthly hero.

That evening, September 21, 2013, she told us we would be her daughter's forever Mommy and Daddy.

Through four months of precious details only God in His goodness could orchestrate, we built a relationship with our birth mom that has changed me as a woman in ways I never knew I could be changed.  We named our daughter Rose Catherine.  Her daddy named her Rose in honor of his great grandmother, and we chose Catherine in honor of a Hope Baby that was the reason our stories were connected.  The perfect name for the perfect little miracle.

[Our birth mom chose a private adoption, and we worked with a highly recommended adoption attorney and social worker.  I only add this detail because so many of you have asked.]

At the beginning of our story with our birth mom, my sister had quickly "guessed" a birthday of December 23rd.  I told our birth mom that, and she told me the number 23 had been very special to her for her whole life.  We casually counted down to her birth as the 23rd of December, knowing that only God knew her actual birthday (due date was January 1).

On the morning of December 23rd, our birth mom was in labor.

I will not share hospital details, as they are the most difficult and precious part of Rose's entire story, and she will be the only one we share them with in their entirety one day.  The three days we spent in the hospital are three that are burned into our hearts forever.  Unless you have walked by a birth mom's side, and loved someone so deeply, it is impossible to convey what it feels like to be given the gift of adoption.

Our Christmas miracle was released to come HOME with us on Christmas Day.

Many have asked why we kept her story private for the most part, other than sharing with a few of our closest friends and family.  The answer is simple:  We have the utmost respect for our birth mom, and if she had chosen another plan for Rose's life after she was born, we did not want anyone to ever disrespect her or her decision.  We never wanted her to feel pressure from us, just because the "whole world knew".

Adoption is the most difficult thing we have ever been through emotionally.  We cried more at the hospital during Rose's birth than we did during Holden and Grey's births (and I didn't think that was possible)!  There are never words to describe the respect, love and admiration we have for Rose's birth mom.  Her sacrifice and selflessness leave me speechless and bawling daily.  We are reminded of God's greatness in a way that doesn't even seem possible as we hold and love our second daughter.  She is truly the most planned and beautiful baby on earth.

Our birth mom held onto the promise of Romans 8:28 over Rose's story.  Amen.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rose Catherine Erwin

God blessed our family with a true Christmas Miracle, the addition of Rose Catherine.
Rose was born on Monday evening, and we arrived home with her on Christmas Day.  

Rose's adoption is a precious, beautiful story, and one that we will thank God for our entire lives, but our extreme joy is of course equally met with extreme sacrifice and selflessness on our birth mom's part.  We will share part of Rose's story soon.  But for now we have lots of snuggling to do.  

Truly thanking God for his unspeakable gifts this Christmas. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

21 Months with our big girl!

This month has been super emotional for me, and every time I look at Grey, I am reminded at how fast babies turn into children.  She is getting so BIG, and not just in size.  Her vocabulary is finally taking off, and we add a new word every week!  She realizes she is entertaining and eats.it.up.  She is a ham, loves everyone to be happy (when people are sad she gets REALLY upset!), and her energy level is out of this world.

Some big accomplishments lately:

1. Expanded vocabulary---WOOHOO!!  We are still considerably behind the curve, but we are trying hard.  When she learns a new word she will repeat it 10,000 times.  It's fun.  Her favorite word is "mine"…and boy oh boy does she know the meaning to that.  ;)

2.  Growth:  Chet weighed Grey in at 22.5 pounds a few days ago (we thought she was much bigger, but I guess not)!  We fit into 18 month clothes perfectly, but we are starting to break out some 2T outfits (I am not handling that very well).  We are still in size 4 diapers.  Longest lasting size of any diaper.

3.  Empathy:  Grey's had a sense of empathy for months and months (probably over a year) now, but she is acting upon others' feelings all the time now.  She seems to know and understand needs and is always willing to help.

4.  Finding objects in books!  I love that she can find most animals, the moon, and familiar objects.  It has made her love for books grow tremendously lately.

As I type this, Grey is holding a screw driver and helping her Dad fix one of our bar stools.  She loves being a part of every moment, and learns things so quickly it is sometimes frightening.  She has reached the stage of picky eating (thankfully she still chooses mostly healthy items - we aren't telling her we want her to eat those!), and wanting to pick out her own outfits and shoes for the day.  We often go through ten items to wear before she decides on one.  I guess this is something I need to get used to for the rest of her life. :)

Her best friend is Rusty, and they play ALL day long.  When we put Rusty outside, she screams at the back door like we have slammed her finger in the door.  Rusty sleeps under her bed and is equally in love with her (either that or he's just being heroic). ;)  She has been fascinated by Christmas lights and trees this year.  It is CRAZY how much she's' changed since her fuzzy-headed self last Christmas.  We've only had one tree destroying incident, and it was right after I proudly told another mom, "Grey's not touched the tree all year!"  Go me.

Her will is strong and her heart is soft.  I love being her mommy and I am soaking up each moment of this stage.  Even if it has proved to be one of her toughest.

What a year it has been for the Erwins.
New home.
New jobs (for both of us).
New school for Grey.
New beginnings.
So many blessings.
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of our friends and family!

Some jewels from this month:

Pajama day at school!

We can take selfies now! 

When Momma picked up her new Lexus

I just love this one.  Her cheesy smile is my favorite thing on earth.

Today I attempted a few since tomorrow is her official 21 month birthday, but we just didn't cooperate much at all.  It was cold outside, so I don't really blame her. :)

Fascinated by the tree and ornaments this year.