So much has changed since I last posted on July 5, 2012. Reading through these posts reminded me how much I loved writing and recording memories and sharing tidbits of our life with people. Writing is good therapy for me and who can't use some good therapy?!
To kickstart this back to life I am going to share 31 things that have changed in the last four years since I am writing this on the 31st of the month. No guarantee it will actually get posted today though as I should be packing and preparing my family of 8 to head out this afternoon. Much has changed in 4 years but my procrastination skills are still wholly intact.
1 - First off the kids are all so much BIGGER than they were in 2012. Elliot is 7, Hadley is 6, Adelyn. and Kailyn are four.
2 - We have two additional kids. In July 2012 we were quietly in the beginning stages of adoption. We didn't share publicly until December 2012. Graham and Olivia joined their forever family on October 22, 2014. He is now 6. She is almost 3.
3 - We sold our house in Peosta. With the addition of two more kids we didn't feel like that house was going to fit our needs appropriately anymore. We were nervous about putting it on the market but it sold in 2.5 days. Praise Jesus!!!!
4 - We bought a home in the Barrington Lakes subdivision. We had hoped to be closer to John Deere but that's not how it worked out. We call our home the 70's spectacular. We closed on September 6, 2013. Coincidentally the exact same day we received USCIS I600 approval for our two Congolese kiddos.
5. Mike has changed positions at Deere twice since originally beginning his job there in February 2012. We are hopeful a new opportunity within Deere will present itself soon.
6. I have recently rediscovered my love of reading and have been devouring books at any chance I get which is not nearly often enough! Waiting for the bus after picking up my preschoolers usually provides me with a good 20 minute chunk of time.
7. As of February 2016 we are officially puppy parents. I lobbied for YEARS (literally) for a sweet little kitty. Petey always said no. I called him a Funhater. We finally settled on getting a dog. He located a breeder not too far away with three puppies available of the breed we wanted. So, my parents came to watch the kids for a night while we went to meet and pick a pup. We maybe might have failed to mention to them we were going to look at puppies. The kids spilled the beans but Mum-Mum & Papa didn't believe them. Until I sent them a picture of their grand puppy. SURPRISE! Edison is a sweet sweet little Cockapoo who has been a good fit for us. Love him to pieces already.
8. I'm a soccer mom. And a softball mom. And a dance mom. And a gymnastics mom. And a karate mom. I'm sure there will be more to add in the future. Seriously, all I can do is just laugh at myself sometimes because it sounds so ridiculous and chaotic. And it can be that at times. But watching your kids discover and develop talents and abilities and a love for something is pretty awesome. And I have 6 little people so there is a lot of trial and error in first discovering what they love and have a natural bent towards. We have 5 kids playing soccer this spring - maybe pray for us?!
9. I've always loved slideshows and making slideshows but I discovered this really awesome website that will essentially do it all for me after I drop in the pictures and the music. Voila. Life changer. And I love it. I'm sure I'll upload one or two or ten to this blog at some point.
10. We have had to buy two "new" vans since July 2012. We bought our Ford E-150 in October 2012 in preparation for welcoming home two new children. We had no idea it would take two more years before we really needed it. We bought it from Enterprise Rideshare and its the size of a 12 passenger with a better seating configuration. We can seat 9 & have an aisle down the middle for easy access to all of the little people. I never knew I could love a van so much.
11. Our faithful Buick finally betrayed us late last year and we were on the hunt for a reasonably priced mini-van for Petey to drive for work. We happened upon a fantastic deal on a newer than we anticipated we'd be able to afford van. The dealership had an overabundamt stock (like 30+) & we're offering deep discounts. It came at the perfect time for us and now we have a trustworthy second vehicle to haul most of us around.
12. After 6 kids I can now better handle puke. It helps that most of the kids can also hit a bucket when the need arises. I used to just gag at the mere thought of someone puking. Now someone can puke all over me and not only do I not gag but I jump into clean up mode without even thinking about it. This might not be a big deal to most people but for me this HUGE progress.
13. We are Lego fanatics. I think in 2012 we were maybe on the cusp of being full fledged Lego fanatics. We may have declared 2012 the "Lego Christmas" (or maybe it was 2013) and we naively believed it would be just that one Christmas dedicated to building Elliot's Lego collection (we also naively believed he would be the only Lego fanatic) Well, needless to say every Christmas (and birthday) since has included a plethora of Legos. We keep having to expand the Lego play space so there is enough room for all 6 of the kids who love Legos and their creations. It is so awesome and fun to see them use their imaginations to create. Love it. We have convinced ourselves they are an investment and we plan to keep them forever ;)
14. We took a trip to Disney World. This was something we weren't sure we were ever going to be able to do because, well, cost. But Mum-Mum & Papa gave us an offer we couldn't refuse. So in November 2012 they drove Elliot & Hadley down to Florida. Mike and I flew down with the twins a few days later. I wish I could say flying with 18 month old twins was fun. But, I cannot. At any rate it was a great time and we made a lot of fantastic memories.
15. I flew back and forth to Africa three times in 10 months. When we started the adoption process we planned on one trip of 7-10 days. Well, things didn't work out the way we had hoped and planned. The first trip of 10 days was the meet and visit our kids in Congo. The second trip was 5 weeks long and was supposed to end with me bringing Graham and Olivia home but, yeah, that didn't happen. The third trip was only a few days long and this time I did successfully return home with my kids. What a whirlwind!! But I loved my time in Africa and, on occasion, feel homesick for it. I left a piece of my heart there for sure.
16. We have seen and experienced more darkness and evil in the world than we ever imagined we would. I don't really want to elaborate here at this moment but I'll just say the Lord has been faithful and overwhelmingly good to us.
17. We were on TV. I never in a million years could have seen us telling our story on TV but when you're kids are being withheld from you for no apparent reason you do things you never dreamed of doing. Like going on the news and sharing your story and pleading with people to help.
18. Along the same lines we were on a first name basis with several staff members from our Congressman's and our Senator's offices for awhile during our fight to bring Graham and Olivia home. I traveled to Washington DC to have meetings with them and several other Members of Congress.
19. To get to either of our parents we have to sit in a car for a long time. We have learned ways to make this easier and our kids have learned how to just be - for a little while at least. Now, if we could only get Hadley to actually sleep in the vehicle once in awhile.
20. In June 2013 my mom and I braved Branson, MO on our own with four kids. The highlight for all of the kids was the Chinese Acrobat show. They still talk about it almost three years later. Not far behind that for highlights was watching them all try to re-enact the show when we got back to the condo. The lowlight was me getting really sick and Mum-Mum being on her own with 4 kids. Also, it was really hot. I hate hot.
21. In August 2015 Petey and I got to escape for our FIRST only us grown up vacation. We have been blessed to be able to have several long weekends throughout our marriage but this was the first time we were able to fly somewhere for an extended time and just be together - no big plans, no agenda, no stress, just us together enjoying life. We flew into San Francisco, spent a few days there, and then ended our time with several days in Monterey. It was absolutely fantastic and I cannot wait to get away alone with my man again.
22. Petey successfully got me to watch Star Trek: Voyager. I did so kicking and screaming and ended up really really liking the show. He has been much less successful in getting me to watch and enjoy pretty much any other Star Trek shows. He doesn't like that I keep falling asleep during them or something???
23. We used to brave restaurants fairly regularly with 4 kids. Now, we only do so if its a special occasion, cheap or we have no other choice. Drive-Thru's are our friend and we have gotten so much better at quick easy meals at home. Live and learn I guess???
24. Coffee. We used to be very occasional drinkers. I think our first package of coffee filters we bought when we first got married lasted us something like 7 years. And it wasn't THAT big of a pack. Now, coffee is consumed on an almost daily basis. Except for that one day I found a spider in the coffee pot. I splurged and went out and bought myself a good coffee after that near heart attack.
25. Peanut Butter. Those of you who have known me a long time would know of my, let's say, HUGE distaste for peanut butter. Seriously, just the thought of it growing up made me want to gag. And I carried that into adulthood with me for the most part. I learned to enjoy things that had peanut butter cooked into them - like cookies. And I developed a taste for peanut butter cups and peanut butter m&m's. But a plain ol' PB&J??? No way Jose. That was just the way I was until I spent several weeks in the Congo where I did not have a way to refrigerate food (I had to choose a refrigerator or the ability to charge electronic devices - the fridge didn't win) and going out to eat was astronomically expensive. But a loaf of bread was sixty cents and a wheel of cheese was $1 and peanut butter was easy to come by. As well as nutella. So I learned to like it. And I probably ate a lifetime's worth of the stuff in a few weeks. Bonus was Graham and Olivia enjoyed it as well and it was a super easy and super quick meal that did not require much prep or clean up. It was a win all around.
26. We thought for sure we would be D.O.N.E. after adding two more kids to make a total of 6. Now, we are a little less decided. We have no immediate plans other than leaving the door open and seeing where God directs us.
27. We have discovered several of our kids have a love of cooking. Usually their dad is the one who lets them help - he seems to have more patience for that sort of thing than I do.
28. Along the same lines we have discovered a new genre of show to enjoy as a family - cooking and food competitions. As the kids get a little older they are enjoying this type of show more and more and it has become a fun thing for us all to watch together.
29. Our village has grown and bloomed and we have been blessed with some great people around here to do life with. This is especially great since we do not have family in the immediate area.
30. Over the last four years we have had our faith in God stretched and deepened. Through many of the trials we experienced he become more and more real and precious to us and we are so thankful.
31. Four years of life has grown our marriage stronger and our love for our kids deeper. I am so blessed to call this crew mine!!!