adoption update 5.0 – MATCHED!

On the 15th of October, the fifth anniversary of the beginning of our adoption journey came and went. I posted a “Timehop” screenshot of the status I shared five years ago when we had our initial meeting with a local agency to start the process, along with a note saying I never ever would have imagined that five years later we would still be waiting to adopt. The next day, our agency called with our match from Haiti. WHAT.

We’ve been waiting for that phone call for 26 months, and for the past eight months we’ve had a foster child in our home, so we’ve been distracted from the wait a bit. We’d almost, almost given up on our dream to bring a child home from Haiti. Paperwork necessary for adopting reached their expiry dates. Haiti was plagued with strikes in their government and judicial branches.

Then on the rainy evening of October 16, the call came. “You’re matched!” It’s a boy. He’s almost five years old. He was born just weeks after we decided to pursue adopting (not from Haiti, initially, if you’ve been around long enough to remember the beginning of this crazy adventure!). He’s in one of the most wonderful places a kid in his situation can be. (Huge answer to my deepest prayers: I’ve asked God this whole time that wherever our next child was, that he or she would be safe, loved, fed, and well cared for. He is! and has been for his whole little life.)

We are now in the midst of the flurry of paperwork and invoices for payments (thanks to our generous friends and family and savings, we are able to make the next payment right away) and figuring out childcare for our three plus one to coincide with travel dates to go meet him in Haiti.

THANK YOU, Jesus. We are so excited and grateful to finally know a new, tiny sliver of this story He is writing. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us through to this point. Thank you for partnering with us financially. We would not be here without all the help and love and gifts you’ve given. We still need about $10,000 to bring this kiddo home, and the court process in Haiti takes anywhere from 10-20 months or so from when we meet him. So your prayers and partnership in this endeavor are still so needed! Let’s rejoice together at what God is doing! We can’t wait to go to Haiti and meet this little man soon.

http://www.adoptalovestory.com/families/Puelston

FAQ’s:

  • What’s his name?
    We can’t share this online until he’s a Puelston. But we can tell you in person and show you his picture, and we’d be very happy to do that!
  • How old is he?
    He’s almost five years old.
  • Why don’t you get to bring him home right away?
    The court process in Haiti doesn’t start until we go down to meet him. That process can take anywhere from 10-20 months, depending on many factors. Haiti is a mystifying country – sometimes you just have to chalk delays and strange things up to “it’s Haiti”!
  • How long will you be in Haiti when you go to meet him?
    We get to stay in Haiti for two weeks, required by Haitian adoption law. We will stay at a guest house near the orphanage (creche, in French), and have time to play with and get to know him each day.
  • Feel free to ask other questions and if we are able to answer them we will!

 

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overheard

When my kids’ say something sweet or cute, I try to jot it down on my phone instantly. I keep a running note with these little sound bytes and then a few months later, like to record them all here. I’ve got quite the collection now, so it must be time to dump them out and save them. 🙂

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Jackson

This morning I thanked Jackson for being so helpful. He looked thoughtful and then said, “Having three children is hard. And we’re going to have FOUR and that will be even harder. I like to help.”

“Can I vacuum for you, Mom?” Um, let me think about it, okay. 🙂

Kyle was painting the swingset this summer, and the neighbor girl asked: “Can your dad do that (paint)? Jack said: My dad can do everything! Anything!

Taylor, aka The Princess of Sass

Crunes = prunes.

As she looked at herself in the mirror: “Ta-da!!!”

In the car while driving to the North Shore: “How much longer?” Half an hour. “I don’t yike half an hour!”

“Why does daddy cut his hair?” ‘Cause he likes it short and doesn’t have much hair. BIG SIGH. “I wish him had hair!”

About school: “Can you teach me how to talk words?” (She meant teach me how to read.)

“I need to go vacuum my teeth ‘cause they aren’t so sparkly.”

She overheard me saying that some days it’s just hard to be a mom. “Do you want to be something else today? Like a…grandma? You could be a grandma instead.”

To Jack: “Don’t tell me what to do. Are you the mom??!” (do you think maybe she hears me say that to her and her brother a few times a day, or what?)

She and Jack were arguing about something petty. “Don’t argue with me!”

Newest word added to her vocabulary: “Literally”. What??

Far past her bedtime because she had taken a long nap: “I can’t go to sleep. My eyelids are GLUED open!”

Grant

He just says a few words: mom, da, amen (complete with a sign/clap), and signs more and all done. He has also started giving kisses and high fives, which is pretty darn cute.

advent 2014

I’m not quite so on top of Advent this year as I was last year. Nesting was in FULL FORCE last year as we awaited Grant’s arrival. 🙂 But, I finally got around to making the plan for this year.

The kids’ are already asking about the Advent Calendar and talking about the fun of last year…I love that they are old enough to remember and anticipate the season now!

So, these are the things we are hoping to do throughout the 25 days before Christmas/Advent season this year.

Advent Wreath

advent centerpiece

Each Sunday before Christmas, we will light a candle on the table (I haven’t made an official wreath yet, but I put the five candles in a group on our dining room table each year) and read a verse:

1. Light the 1st candle.  It represents the HOPE of the promised Messiah.  Isaiah 9:1-3
2. Light the 2nd candle.  It reminds us that the coming Savior will be the Prince of PEACE.  Isaiah 9:6-7
3. Light the 3rd candle.  It reminds us the JOY we may have in Christ. Isaiah 35:1-2, 10
4. Light the 4th candle.  It reminds us that God LOVES us so much that He sent his only Son.  John 3:16
5. Christmas Day – Light the middle candle and the other four. The Savior is come!

Daily Readings

With the littles – Readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible
For the bigger set – The Dawning of Indestructible Joy

Daily Advent Activities – great ideas from friends, this daily book ideathis blog and this blog.
I’m using the Tin and Chalkboard Advent calendar from Starbucks again this year. This year’s version is even prettier, in my opinion, than the one I got last year! I’ll print out the activity on small pieces of paper and put it in the right numbered tin. Some year I’ll get all fancy and make my own pocket calendar. Or, more realistically, I’ll pay someone to make one for me. 

Each day the kids will tear off a paper chain, and we’ll read the Scripture and the daily reading from the Jesus Storybook Bible. Then they’ll open the tin for the day and see what activity we get to do! They also get to unwrap a book, which we’ll read that day.

1. Make a Christmas countdown chain using the Names of Jesus chain.
2. Decorate the tree and the house!

Christmas tree3. Play with Little People Nativity Set. Make the Nativity Window Craft.
4. Gingerbread house. Read the Gingerbread Gospel while making.

gingerbread house5. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas & have popcorn.
6. Celebrate Grant’s birthday!
7. Buy presents for Toys for Tots or other charity, donate.
8. Snowman marshmallow craft (on Christmas Pinterest board)

taylor craft9. Make a borax snowflake and handprint Christmas tree magnets.
10. Christmas Carol Sing-Along! Small group Christmas party.
11. Pajama surprise! Christmas tree lights and hot chocolate.
12. Christmas Tree craft – (paper tree/hole punch/tissue paper/hang in window).
13. Reindeer pancakes for breakfast and Christmas Musicale at Fourth Baptist.
14. Indoor picnic by the tree/lights, make snowman pizza.
15. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles w/ breakfast.
16. Make a fort and read all the Advent books we’ve opened so far.
17. Make/bake sugar cookie cut-outs.

cookies
18. Decorate cookies.
19. Service Project: Take food to the food shelf. Birthday Party for Jesus with friends.

birthday for jesus20. Christmas music dance party & play the “count the snowball game”.
21. Watch The Polar Express with special snacks.
22. Make peppermint playdough and play with it.
23. Take cookies to neighbors and act out the Christmas story.

jack shepherd
24. Wrap last minute gifts. Christmas Eve service.
25. JESUS HAS COME! Christmas morning: read Luke 2, special breakfast and open gifts.

Christmas breakfast

And if we don’t get to everything, no worries. 🙂 It’s far more important to love on the kids than do a million projects, like this wise mama reminds us. I’m not going to spaz out if we miss a day.

Our Christmas book list (some we purchased and some we borrowed from the library and will renew once in the month), in no particular order:

  1. The Very First Christmas
  2. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
  3. Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
  4. The Nativity
  5. Christmas in the Manger 
  6. Who is Coming to Our House? 
  7. There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve
  8. Father and Son – A Nativity Story
  9. Tomie’s LIttle Christmas Pageant
  10. This is the Stable
  11. The Friendly Beasts – an Old English Christmas Carol
  12. The Christmas Story from the Gospel According to St. Luke
  13. Humphrey’s First Christmas 
  14. Christmas in the Country
  15. The Third Gift
  16. Bear Stays Up For Christmas
  17. The Crippled Lamb
  18. A Christmas Like Helen’s 
  19. The Birds of Bethlehem
  20. One Starry Night
  21. The Little Drummer Boy
  22. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  23. A Christmas Goodnight
  24. Little One, We Knew You’d Come
  25. Good King Wenceslas 

That’s about everything, I think! I hope it is helpful for others who might want to create their own list of fun things to build excitement and anticipation for Christmas Day and the arrival of the Christ Child. 🙂 May your Christmas season be merry and bright as you celebrate all the gifts HE has given us, beginning with Himself.

a seed of faith

Jackson, tonight I had the incomparable joy of hearing you ask Jesus to save you.

Who knew that a conversation about wildcats in South Carolina would turn into a redemptive conversation that would lead to you wanting to follow Jesus? I sure didn’t anticipate it as I painted the swing set and you sallied back and forth on the red swing below. But Jesus knew. He knew you’d want to know if bears lived in North Carolina and if wildcats lived in South Caroline. He knew I’d tell you about my Pop-pop’s stuffed wild cat that was mounted on his wall when I was a girl. He knew you’d ask if my grandpa was in heaven…Jesus knew it would go like this:

You asked me if I was going to heaven and I said yes. You asked what heaven is like and I told you it was the best thing you can imagine, but better than that because God was there. Then you wondered what hell was like and I explained it’s the worst thing you can imagine, and worse, because God isn’t there. You asked what was in hell I said fire and darkness.

You asked again I was going to heaven and why I was. I answered, “Because I have asked Jesus to save me from my sins and I was sorry and repentant for my sins. I asked Jesus to save me because I knew I wanted to follow him all the days my life.” And then Jack, you said, “Mom, could you help me do that too?” I said, “I would love to.”

So later in the evening you and I prayed together and you asked Jesus to save you. I’m so glad Jack! So glad that God takes conversations about Wildcats and turns them into redemption. So glad that you want to follow Jesus. Dad asked you why you wanted to go to heaven and you said “to be with God.” I can’t think of a better reason, because He wants you to be with Him forever. He made the way for you to be with Him forever!

I love you, Jackson and my deepest prayer is that you will follow Jesus all the days of your life. God has begun a good work in your heart and I know that he will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I pray that this seed of faith that God has planted in your heart will grow to be a mighty, strong oak with deep roots. Sink yourself deep into Jesus, Jack. He loves you and promises to be with you all along this journey of life. He is FOR you. Chase after Him with every bit of your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Love, Mom

Photo by jomegs - Google Chrome 7292014 114601 PM.bmp

My Kids Say Funny Stuff 4.0

He Said

“Push-ups are good for my body.”

Jackson likes to watch the news on an app on the iPad while he eats breakfast. We obviously only let him watch age appropriate news stories, but he’s right there seeing screen shots while we choose the ones he can watch. One particular story’s photo was of a certain medicinal plant. Jack said, “Oh Mom, let’s watch the one about marijuana.” Jaw drop. Then I realized that he’s been paying attention when Kyle has shown people video clips and photos of the very large marijuana grow his SWAT team helped dismantle last summer. Cop kids. :-O

We have tiger lilies growing in our front garden bed and Jackson has called them “Lion lilies” after asking me what they are called. Presh.

After a discussion about a nearby town called Taylors Falls and how it has the same name as Taylor, Jackson remarked, “I wish Jackson, MIssissippi was closer to us.”

He pointed to a picture of missionaries on our refrigerator and asked, “Where do those Christian-airies live again?”

We recently went to our favorite place in Minnesota, Duluth. and our cabin stay in a North Shore town called Lutsen is coming up in this week. As we left the shore of Lake Superior and headed south to our home on our recent visit, Jackson sighed and said wistfully, “I want to live in Dulutsen.” So do I, buddy!

She Said

After swimming in a hotel pool, shivering and needing to go potty, Taylor got big eyes when she sat on the toilet: “I have hot pee!”

Earlier this spring, Taylor’s Aunt Anna and future Uncle Tyler asked our family to be in their wedding (which is only a few weeks away now). Taylor was so excited to be the flower girl. She had a little conversation with Kyle about wedding roles: “I’m duh fwower dirl, you da fwower boy?”

“I’m two, How much you be?”

She had some especially stinky and serious gas – “Mom! I have fire in my butt!”

Taylor is Miss Independent these days. “I do it maself,” she says daily.

As she pulls her t-shirt down to reveal her shoulders: “See my big muffles?” Translated: Muscles.

Sweetest question ever: “Tan I div you a butterfwy tiss?”

On our way into one of our favorite river towns nearby, Taylor got so excited. “We’re almost to Taylors Falls! MY falls! I match.”

Jackson got some handcuffs for his birthday last week. Taylor asked him if she could play with his “lockers”, which is only slightly less funny than when she asked him for his “hookers”.

taylor funnies

Taylor has hit a new level of vocabulary and verbal proficiency that is just cracking us up daily. It’s like she’s 2 going on 10. I wish I had a voice-activated recorder lying around because very often she comes up with something or we have a conversation that is just TOO MUCH. And I really wish I could capture her inflection in writing, because she has this adorable up-talk in her speech that I can’t explain. It sounds like she’s inquisitive, but she’s not.

Here’s a meager sampling, since we’re dependent on my memory…

Recently, Grandma Char had plans to come visit, but the day she was going to come turned out to be a day of snow. The drive is an hour and a half in good weather, so she very wisely stayed home and rescheduled. Taylor asked me, “When Namma tuming?” I explained that she couldn’t come because of the snow. Taylor replied, ever the problem solver, “Her tood put her boots on and walk here!” Well… 🙂

Trying to open the fridge: “I’m BIG! I’m OLD!” Unsuccessful: “I’m too wittle.”

In conversation with me: “Merember that, Mom?”

The other day, Kyle was at a meeting when Taylor woke up from her nap. It seems we have a bona fide Daddy’s girl on our hands. “Where my dad dough (go)?” “He’s at a meeting.” “OH! I YOST (lost) him?! Well, I miss him.”

“I ALWAYS yike to wear dose doves (those gloves).” (Always is a new qualifier of the week.)

“Mom, mom, mom, Johanna!” (I didn’t even know she knew my name. Then when I asked her if she knew that was my name she said, “Your name Mommy.”)

Me: Taylor, here’s your banana. Taylor: Thanks, honey!

Her version of “Who Let the Dogs Out?”:
Who let the dogs out? Wuff, wuff, wuff.
I don’t knoooow!

taylorgirl

Grant Joins the Crew

In a week, Grant will be three months old. I’ve had his birth story waiting in the wings, but its been a busy three months, with the holidays, friends visiting from out of state in January and a plaguing stretch of illness that has beaten us all for the better part of six weeks. 😦

So here, finally, is the story of Grant making his grand appearance.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Our third child was due on Thanksgiving day, but a week past that date, I was ready to get this show on the road. I wasn’t miserable, but I was tired of waiting. So that meant talking about inducing. My awesome doctor and I had made a plan together that I was mostly comfortable with, but still, I had my reservations about being induced.

So the plan was: go to the hospital Thursday night the 5th, check to see how far progressed things were. If they were favorable enough, go home and sleep and then return in the morning to start pitocin. If not, try Cervadil to prepare for induction with pitocin in the morning.

We got to the Birthplace around 6:15pm, and got all checked in. I needed Cervadil – all the contractions I’d felt over the past week only had me dilated to a TWO. So we settled in to watch the live Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood. My friend Kelsey came to hang out and take pictures, hoping baby came that night. My mom came a little later. The Cervadil did its job and contractions ramped up and by 11pm I was having steady, firm contractions. But by an hour or two later, they totally petered out. Kelsey went home, and Mom, Kyle and I tried to get some sleep here and there.

In the morning, my wonderful Dr. Barrett stopped by on her way to the clinic and broke my water, hoping to kick things back into gear. My contractions had never quit, but they had gotten much weaker and further apart – certainly nothing I had to work through. I could walk and talk and smile…it was definitely not active labor.

Breaking my water helped – things started getting more real again. But in an hour or so, it wasn’t progressing, and contractions had dipped down to Easyville again. At this point, I was bored and slightly frustrated. I was ready to have this baby! I wasn’t totally exhausted – I was just ready to get this show on the road and finally meet this little person who seemed far too comfortable in their watery, warm nest. :-)

Thankfully, all along the way, the baby’s heartbeat was steady and happy as could be. Around 10am, I made the call: it was time for the “get the baby out cocktail”. “Dear nurse, just juice my IV with pitocin, please and thank you.” They “gave me a whiff” (their words) of pitocin at 10:30am and it was onward ho!

FINALLY things started getting real. I was so relieved to actually feel like I had to concentrate on relaxing through the contractions. They got hard and fast in a hurry, and by 1pm I was feeling like the end was near. My doctor arrived for the delivery – it was finally time to push this kiddo out!

Once again, Dr. Barrett coached me so well. I probably pushed for 15-20 minutes, and at the halfway point I asked, “Why isn’t he coming out?!” because of how quickly Taylor had come. I thought maybe this time would be even shorter, but as it turned out, this Incredible Hulk child was quite a bit bigger than Taylor had been, so that could account for the “slower” pace of pushing. :-)

Anyway, our baby came into the world at 1:59pm and Dr. Barrett and Kyle announced in tandem, “It’s a BOY!” as his wet, sweet, beautiful self was placed on my flushed chest. Grant Richard, our sweet surprise, our second son and third child, was finally here. My first thought was “Jack is going to be so excited to have a brother!” :-) We were overjoyed.

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Looking back, I cannot believe how in control, calm, covered with grace, and able to concentrate I was during his labor. It was really awesome. I was so present, so able to focus, and was a lot more verbal – i think that helped me push through the pain in a better way. A lot of people were praying for me – I could feel it. Kyle and Mom were so helpful to get me through the most challenging points. And Char, my mother-in-law, ended up arriving to cheer me on for the last half an hour! Love my labor team. :-)

From the point when my labor REALLY started to his arrival was only 3.5 hours. Grant was easy on me, and he nursed right away like he was born a pro – latched perfectly and settled in for almost an hour before we finally weighed and measured him. We were all slightly shocked to learn he was 9 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 inches long with a 15 inch head. My little beefcake baby. He wins the prize for biggest at birth, coming in at 3 ounces heavier than Jack was.

We had such fun introducing Grant to his brother and sister and the rest of our family and friends that stopped by the hospital. He was doing so well that we were able to get home the next evening and continue to rest up in our own beds.

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Grant has the most sweet, cheerful and happy-go-lucky personality! I cannot imagine our lives without his sunshine, so I’m ridiculously glad that God surprised us with his beautiful life. Welcome to our family, Granters. Mama, Daddy, Jack and Taylor love you SO much.

Grant (2 of 49)photo by Sarah Smith – Grant, one week old