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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Resurrection Sunday Celebrations

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. Jesus' Resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith and I love teaching my children about the power of Easter. We had probably the best sermon preached at our church The Austin Stone, that I have ever heard. It wasn't a short and sweet, light Easter sermon. Our pastor preached on Peters letters to the church, telling them how we need to rejoice in our suffering because our inheritance in heaven is our only hope. We talked a LOT about heaven and how our bodies will be born again, imperishable, and our souls undefiled. Imagine what it will be like standing face to face with our Creator when nothing else matters. Easter gives us hope. Our only hope is Jesus Christ and I love celebrating Him with my family and friends. 

The Easter celebrations started early last week when we dyed Easter eggs and made Resurrection rolls. We had 4 egg hunts from Thursday to Sunday and Monday morning Ford woke up asking when the next Easter hunt was. Let's just say we are going through some Easter withdrawls, ha! Ford had an egg hunt and celebration at school, our sweet neighbors hosted a beautiful brunch and hunt where the kids got to meet the Easter bunny and hit a pinata, Saturday we had our neighborhood's egg hunt where Ford got his face painted, and then Sunday we spent the evening with friends from church and one more egg hunt. To say our weekend was packed is an understatement. But would I want it any other way? No. Lucy also turned 11 months on Easter Sunday... her last "first" holiday until her birthday. Sunday we prayed the bold prayer that God would bring our 3rd baby home before next Easter. We are starting to long to know about our baby and ask that you pray along side of us. I hope you and your families had a beautiful weekend celebrating our God who lives and reigns ALIVE today!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Lucy 11 months

Our sweet chickie girl turned 11 months old yesterday on Easter Sunday. I knew it was coming but man a year is coming up fast. I am so happy that Lucy Joy is healthy and growing and absolutely thriving but gosh I feel like the past year just slipped right through my fingers. It's such a double edge sword. I love this season our family is in... my kids sleep 12 hours at night, nap at the same time, and get along so well... but I get so nostalgic thinking of the newborn phase. Lucy is SO sweet and just as sassy. This has been a fun month for our girl. She is communicating with us, understands so many commands, plays with Ford, and so much more. This lady has been such a joy in our family the past 11 months, I can't believe she will be ONE! And if you have an almost 1 year old... you can relate to the pictures below. I think I took over 100, most of which are her standing up, rolling over, and crawling away.

Lucy's precious headband is BellaMoza and her monthly stickers are Lucy Darling

  • Between 18-19lbs. I weighed her at home and she was 19lbs but it is always a little heavy. She's a peanut! She wears mostly 9 month clothing but I got all of her 12 month out since the weather is changing. She still wears newborn/size 1 shoes... when will they ever grow?!
  • Cloth diapers during the day, disposable size 3 at night.
  • Her hair is getting so long and pretty light (mine was light when I was younger)
  • She finally got her first tooth! And actually got 3 within a week. She has the bottom 2 and one of her front top
  • She is sleeping 7p-7a...sometimes later...and taking 2 naps a day. 1.5 hours in the morning and 1.5-2 hours in the afternoon (same time as Ford). She LOVES her loveys and baby dolls and cuddles and plays with them when she gets up. 
  • She is now only nursing twice a day, morning and night. She is drinking about one sippy cup of whole milk throughout the day and I think she will have no problem weaning in the next few weeks. 
  • She has become quite the eater! She is pretty picky but she chows down on things she likes. Just yesterday she ate an entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, leaving no crumbs. She eats a whole banana for breakfast, Greek yogurt, grilled cheese, chicken nugget pieces, meatballs
  • She mocks you if you cough/laugh/sing. She thinks it's so funny!
  • She is a fast crawler these days. She cruises around all of our furniture. 
  • She will stand for 5 seconds on her own but no steps yet.
  • She loves her push walker and walking if you hold her hands. She also loves standing on her own but holding on to us if we are sitting on the ground... and using us as jungle gyms. 
  • If you ask her how big she is she raises one arm in the air to say SO BIG!
  • She says "more"
  • If you tell her no and she knows shes not supposed to be doing something, she looks so serious and says "Ba Ba". Stinker
  • She is pretty ornery these days. She puts a lot of things in her mouth and is pretty mischievous which is very different than my first born. She loves chewing on paper. 
  • She claps all the time and loves waving. 
  • She can do High 5 when you ask her and loves it. 
  • She brushes her hair with her brush and tries to brush mine. She also loves to pretend to wash Ford's hair in the bath
  • She dances when she hears music and sings too. It is so cute!
  • She loves feeding people off of her tray. 
  • Lucy and Ford absolutely love each other. They love crawling on the ground together and wrestling and tickling each other. They know how to make each other laugh and I think they will become really close as she becomes more of a toddler.
  • They also fight now... if she has a toy he wants and he takes it, she gets mad and grabs him and grunts and looks at me. I am sure it will just get worse!
  • She loves being in the bath and we finally took her out of her bath seat. She splashes and loves filling cups and sucking on wash cloths. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Recent Faves

I feel like I am constantly thinking of things I want to share on my blog but not worthy of an entire blog post so today I am going to share recent favorites of a bunch of random things!

If you follow my story on Snapchat (ruthiehart1...not sure how to link), you'd know that Jon and I watch Impractical Jokers almost every night. We are addicted. Jon knows how much I love prank shows and found it the week I came home from the hospital with Lucy. It was so painful to watch post C section but we are obsessed. We were so bummed we couldn't go on the Impractical Jokers cruise earlier this year haha. We have gotten my sister and papa hooked too. It is on True TV and we like a few of the other shows on there... The Carbonaro Effect and Adam Ruins Everything. We also LOVE food shows and our favorites are Unique Sweets, Food Factory, and Food Porn.

Ever since award season started, I've kept a list in my phone of movies that I wanted to see because let's face it, being a mom of 2 young kids, I don't see movies (or ever see previews). Some of our recent faves have been Straight Outta Compton, Room, and The Intern. We watched The Big Short last weekend and it was good, very informative. Up next we want to see Burnt, Spotlight, The Danish Girl and a few others. Leave any recommendations you have!

I am absolutely loving everything by Lauren Daigle lately. I have her Pandora station as one of my favorites and they play her a lot on K Love. Girlfriend has a powerful voice.

Jon listens to NGen radio all day and it is starting to catch my attention. It is a mixture of artists who aren't necessarily singing about Jesus but ARE Christians. We love LeCrea (Christian rap is cool y'all) and we have found some other awesome artists (love David Dunn It Is Well).

Cheeseburger pot pie
Salted toffee chocolate pretzel bark
Mexican meatloaf
Crockpot cashew chicken

I just ordered this flowy cami on Amazon of all places and love it! Summer temps are on their way down here and I am loving that this top can be worn with jeans and heels for a fancier look or shorts and flip flops during the day. I am kind of obsessed with anything mint colored and at $10.99, I should have bought it in all colors. This will be the first summer in 4 years that I am not pregnant or nursing so bring on all the cute summery tops!

If you haven't been following Whoa Wait Wal Mart on Instagram, you are missing out. I've bought numerous pieces of clothing, a swimsuit, rug, kids clothes, and so many cute things for cheap. I went last week to look for a pair of flats they posted but instead came home with a black and white pair of these Dr. Scholl's flats. They couldn't be comfier and so cute!

I bravely bought a two piece swim suit for this summer. I am pretty sure I am not going to have anymore biological babies meaning hopefully my body won't randomly stretch and gain 30lbs in a short period of time. I am excited to be working out again and getting my pre baby body "back-ish". I bought this swim suit in bright pink/orange and wore it to the pool last weekend. It made me feel super tan since it was so neon (and I am paste-y white y'all).

We play games almost every night when the babes go to bed and have added some new ones to our rotation. Ford played Battleship at my bible study with some of the older boys a few weeks ago and now Jon and I are playing multiple times a day. Ford loves it too! Finally Yahtzee came out with a legit app for the iPad (before it was Yahtzy...ghetto) and we love that too. We do puzzles on the ipad and also the matching game...not just for kids! Our favorite multi-player games lately are 5 second rule, Smart Ass, and Telestrations.

Jamie Ivey is a pastor's wife at our church (The Austin Stone) and I am obsessed with her podcast, The Happy Hour. I know of so many of the women through blogging and it is so fun to hear their stories. They are all free, I promise you will love it!

Shutterfly is awesome y'all. We've teamed up with them the past two Christmases for our adorable Christmas cards (Tiny Prints/Shutterfly are sister companies) and now we are teaming up with them for our adoption. I plan on showing y'all our entire family profile book but just a little info....a birth mother is presented with 3-5 family profile books when choosing a forever family for her child. These are basically like scrapbooks telling about your family... how you met, children, your home, travel, extended family, etc. We needed to order 20 books and it was the biggest blessing to receive them for free from Shutterfly. Adoption is (very) expensive so every dollar saved is incredible. I love following Shutterfly on Instagram because they'll occasionally post freebies like a free mug or deck of cards.

Lucy got her first tooth last week (and her second!) and Ford is now sleeping in a big boy bed. Crazy week huh? The kids and I also got stranded in Waco after a double blow out going 75mph on I 35 on our way home from Dallas. To be honest it was one of the crappiest/scariest things that has ever happened but God sent so many angels to watch over us. This mama does not want to drive anywhere for a while. We are getting our media room finished right now and that has been cool to watch it come along. We ordered new sofa sectionals for the media room and gameroom and the kiddos had an absolute blast spending 2 hours at Rooms 2 Go. It has been gorgeous weather, some teasers of summer, so we've spent a lot of time outside. I hope to write an adoption update later this week but we have lots of Easter things coming up this week! Oh and Lucy will be 11 months on Easter, someone hold me! Sorry for the random post, thanks for reading!

My crazy driving lady a the Perot Museum in Dallas, a must visit!

Backyard water shenanigans, they both had so much fun!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dallas Spring Break

Ford has been on spring break from preschool this week so we decided to come up to Dallas for a few days with my sister and kiddos. We had an absolute blast... with the exception of sleeping issues. Maybe some of you mamas can help me out. Ford still sleeps in a crib at our house and is an awesome sleeper. 12 hours each night, 2 hour nap during the day, and never fights going down. I wish I could say the same thing for sleeping while traveling. We attempted to get him to sleep in a sleeping bag with his cousin Embry but he wouldn't stay in bed. After an hour of trying, I got the pack and play out and tried him in there. He screamed and cried and yelled and tried to climb out. Long story short, he finally fell asleep with me rubbing his back and slept all night but wouldn't nap either. I am contemplating whether we should move him into a big boy bed at home so he is more adaptable when we travel or continue him in a crib? UGH. And Lucy is kind of a scaredy cat anywhere that isn't home. She got her first tooth on Tuesday so I gave her some grace there but man it was exhausting trying to get my 2 kiddos down for hours. last night they both went down fine at my sisters so I am at a loss. I am very thankful they sleep well at home! So any tips and recommendations gladly accepted.

Cousin dress up

Blue eyed girly, so tired from barely napping on our 3 hour drive to Dallas

We did lots of playing around the house, the weather was gorgeous! We spent one morning at the Dallas Arboretum and Ford got his face painted for the first time! I was absolutely shocked that he went through with it because he normally doesn't like to get dirty and is very finicky about certain things. They had a free petting zoo where Ford brushed goats and a sheep and a free Kindermusik class. The Arboretum had thousands of gorgeous tulips and my sister snapped the cutest pictures of the kiddos. We loved going there for Pumpkin Village, now THAT is a sight to see! We are heading to the Perot museum this morning and then home to Austin. We love our cousin time so much!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Asian Inspired Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I'm at it again. Asian inspired meals make my husband happy and anything I can throw in the crockpot makes me even happier. This dinner came together so quickly and was absolutely delicious. Dare I say the leftovers were even yummier throughout the week for lunch? We are huge fans of Kings Hawaiian bread and using the buns and rolls makes a huge difference. Did you know they just came out with Kings Hawaiian sliced bread?! You're welcome.

1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Sriracha
2 tsp toasted seasame oil
(I left out 1 tbsp fresh ginger, I don't like the flavor)
3lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, raw

Coleslaw and buns
1 bag/4 cups raw broccoli slaw
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar
2 tsp Srirach
1 tsp sesame oil
Buns (we used Kings Hawaiian slider buns)

1. Mix together all ingredients above chicken in a medium bowl.
2. Lay chicken in crockpot and top with sauce mixture
3. Cook 4-6 hours, depending on your crockpot (mine cooks super fast)
4. Mix together coleslaw ingredients and let sit in fridge for at least 30 minutes
5. Once chicken is cooked, pull apart with two forks
6. Top buns with chicken and coleslaw.
7. Enjoy!

My picture is not great but take my word for it and make these!

Original Recipe

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Our Adoption FAQ

Yesterday we shared the news that our family is expanding through adoption. We've been keeping this between our family and friends for a few months now and it feels good to be able to talk about it openly. Thank you for all the love and support! I started responding to each comment and it just got too crazy so please know that every comment was read and appreciated. We love you guys! I also loved how many people said they want to adopt in the future, so cool. We couldn't have gotten this far in our journey without people who have gone before us walking with us so we want to be a guide, advocate, and friend to those. Just like in pregnancy, you don't want to share the news too early but we are ready to share our story with as much detail as we can. When we've shared with friends over the past few months, we get asked the same questions so I figured it would be good to do a FAQ post so you can know how the process has worked for us, where we are in the process, and other basic questions. We will share as much as we feel comfortable doing so but plan on keeping details about our birth mother and our child's story between our family. We have not been matched yet so we will continue to share any progress we get and ways you can pray for us until we bring our baby home!

Adoption is Rad shirt via here.

Why are you adopting? Why not just have more biological children?
We have always had plans to adopt, even before getting pregnant with Ford. I wrote more on that in yesterday's post how as Christians we are called and commanded by God to care for the orphans. For us, adoption is not only expanding our family but displaying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And yes we made two really cute home grown babies but God has continued to show us that adoption is in our path...if you read my blog when I was pregnant both times, I am sick for 40 weeks, had gestational diabetes twice, a blood disorder called Thrombocytopenia, and C sections which kinda suck to recover from (especially with other children running around).

What type of adoption are you doing? 
We are doing a newborn domestic adoption meaning we will either get matched with a birth mother who is at least 20 weeks pregnant or get matched with a child who has already been born and the birth mother decided to place him/her while she was in the hospital, coined "stork drop" in the adoption world. We want to maintain our current birth order so Ford and Lucy will continue to stay our oldest children.

When did you start the process?
After Lucy was born we felt the strong urge to start pursuing adoption. In Fall 2015, we started talking to friends who had adopted and researching agencies and open adoption with the plans of starting the process in the New Year. We contacted a social worker who many of our friends have used (and who was a pioneer for open adoption in the 70s) the first week of January and she was able to get us in almost immediately to complete our home study. January and February were crazy months for us. We completed all of our home study paperwork and had our home visit and interviews and attended an amazing adoption seminar taught by our social worker and sponsored by Adoption Advocates in Austin. I highly recommend it to prospective adoptees. Our home study was complete at the end of February and I am sharing more below about our agency.

What is a home study?
A home study is something required by the law to go through any sort of adoption... domestic, international, or even custody. It is conducted by a licensed social worker and comprised of lots of paper work (and I mean LOTS.... FBI background checks, CPS clearances, medical records, finger prints, references, and lots of writing about your childhood, life experiences, personality, marriage, parenting styles, etc). You have a home visit which was NOT as scary as I expected and one on one interviews with your social worker that I said was like free therapy sessions. I'm happy to recommend our social worker if you are looking for one.

What agency are you using?
We originally applied to and were accepted by an agency in New Orleans but found out they only placed 4 babies last year and they recommended we use every adoption outlet available to us. We decided to expand our pool and praying about what to do since we didn't want to have to wait years and years to be matched. A couple of months ago my friend from church who is a fellow adoptive mama connected me to a friend of hers who is an advocate for Christian Adoption Consultants. What is Christian Adoption Consultants? Basically a "newer" way to do adoption is to work with a consultant who has relationships with agencies and private adoption attorneys all over the US. With this approach, we are able to apply to multiple agencies for little or no application fee and have that much more exposure to birth mothers. We signed an 18 month contract with CAC in mid February and it has been an absolute answered prayer. We are so grateful for our consultant Susan who is there for us every step of the way answering questions and helping us navigate this unknown road. Not only are we able to utilize the multi-agency approach, our consultant is basically holding our hand throughout us advice and recommendations on finances, risks, openness when it comes to drug and alcohol exposure, etc. I cannot imagine going through an adoption without a consultant at this point. I am sure I will be sharing a lot more about working with an adoption consultant but I can't recommend CAC enough. The final confirmation we got when praying whether to sign on with CAC was when I was on Pinterest one night searching for examples of family profile books and found the most beautiful and information blog about adoption, My Grace Filled Mess. I stayed up for hours and think I read almost every post she had (open adoption, how to make a profile book, hospital plans for adoption, adoption lactation etc). My jaw hit the floor when I learned that the author, Susan, was a consultant at CAC and I emailed her immediately. CAC is a Christian company, obvious by the name, and it has been such a joy to be a part of this community of believers with a heart for adoption.

So where are you in the process?
After signing on with CAC, we received the list of agencies and attorneys that they work with and were advised to choose 3-5. We chose 5 that we felt were a good fit for our family and right now we are waiting for our family profile book to arrive which should be today. We used Shutterfly to make our book and I cannot wait to show you guys! Our dining room table is covered in folders, paperwork, and applications for each agency... ready to be mailed out when our profiles arrive. Different agencies have different requirements on things we have to send so we've been spending the last 2 weeks gathering items and filling out more paperwork (I can honestly say I am done talking about myself haha). Once we get our stuff to the agencies, we can start to be presented to birth mothers.

How does the matching process work?
When an agency has a case, they will either email us directly or go through our consultant (depending on the agency) and give us information on the birth mother, birth father, the pregnancy, any drug/alcohol exposures, etc. From there we can make the decision on whether or not we'd like our family profile to be shown to the birth family. Birth families are usually shown 3-5 profiles based on their personal requirements and will choose the adoptive family. Most agencies won't match birth mothers with adoptive families before 20 weeks so we could get matched anywhere in the birth mother's pregnancy or after delivery.

How long does it take to be matched?
Statistics in adoption are hard because all that really matters is what happens to you if that makes sense. Families working with Christian Adoption Consultants wait an average of 6-12 months to be matched which is significantly less if we were to be working with a single agency. From the time we submit our information to the agencies (which is very soon, hopefully I can get to the post office this week), we need to be ready for a baby ASAP or ready to wait a while, which we are... because two tiny little humans keep us quite busy these days.

Are you doing an open adoption or closed?
We learned through our seminar and social worker that about 70% of adoptions these days are open and most agencies strongly encourage open adoptions. It is our hope and prayer that we have a strong relationship with our child's birth mother in an open adoption but we can't see the future. The openness of any adoption is decided upon by the two families and although nothing is legally enforced, it is all in good faith. There is so much beauty in open adoption. We are already praying for our birth mother and her family and that she is surrounded by love and support throughout her pregnancy. We want our child to know where they came from, their background, and how loved they are by so many. We've actually gotten to meet with birth mothers and read lots of stories and sometimes open adoption is strong at the beginning and then tapers off as the child gets older but I loved hearing that one birth mother texts with her son who is 20 years old.

When will you talk to your kids about adoption?
If you know Ford personally you'd know that he is pretty darn smart and incredibly verbal. Because he saw Lucy grow in my tummy last year, we have been talking to him a lot about adoption, especially through our home study process. We talk a lot about having another baby and how he/she will grow in another mommy's tummy and it is called adoption. We talk about how his baby brother or sister may look a lot different than him or look like certain friends we have. Our church has such a strong adoption community and we are excited to get to talk to families who have gone before us and get ideas on how to talk to our bio kids and adopted kids about adoption, birth families, etc.

Do you want a certain race or gender? 
We have no preference on race or gender.

Is adoption expensive?
Short answer... YES! God has continued to provide and even when we are overwhelmed with numbers, we are reminded that none of this is our money anyway. Most likely we will spend between $35-$45k on our adoption. Unlike buying a house or car, all of the money has to be paid upon placement so we've been putting money away over the past few years in a fund for our adoption and feel confident about our finances as we go into it. There are so many grants available to adoptive families but we are fortunate that because of Jon's income level, we do not qualify.

What advice do you have for families wanting to adopt?
I will probably continue to write about this over the next few months but right now I have a few tips. To be practical I am going to say start saving now, adoption is expensive. Pray. God will put people in your lives, experiences in your lives, and finances in your pockets if adoption is in His plan for you. And educate yourself! Go to a seminar, read books and blogs, talk to friends who have adopted. We wouldn't have been able to go through this without our family and community loving us and praying for us, and the many people we've used for resources, encouragement, and advice on adoption.

How many children do you guys want?
We would like 4 children and will most likely adopt the next 2. I have full peace in the thought of not being pregnant again, my kiddos don't exactly make it easier on me. We aren't taking any possibility off the table but as of right now, that is what we are thinking.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

We are growing

It's true! Our family is growing again and we couldn't be more thrilled that the Lord has called us to adoption. If you know our family personally, you've known we have always wanted to adopt. The Lord has been so faithful throughout this process and we've been chomping at the bit to share more details. James 1:27 is a command from God to care for the orphans and widows and we are trying to be obedient to that call on our lives as Christians. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 doesn't make sense without recognizing that God adopted us into his family. He adopted us out of death and into His Kingdom of everlasting love and life, the greatest form of adoption there ever was. Worship in it's purest form is caring for orphans in the eyes of the Lord. Adoption shouldn't be our plan B if natural fertility doesn't work...we weren't God's plan B. Our Heavenly Father delights in our adoption of those orphans and widows. Adoption will not only allow us to grow our family but to display the gospel of Jesus Christ and our precious adoption into His family.

So you probably have a ton of questions about this process because as we are learning every single day, it is nothing like traditional biological pregnancy. We are so grateful that God has put people in our lives who have walked this path before and who are walking alongside of us because adoption is scary, foreign, unnatural, and such a broken process with the most beautiful outcome! I am working on a FAQ post for later this week where I will go into detail on where we are in the process, timelines, finances, etc. I should note that we have NOT been matched with a a birth mother yet. We can't wait to share our story with you and ask for you to pray with us through this process, I will be writing another post on specific ways you can pray for us and with us...just gotta find time to write my jumbled thoughts down.

Thank you for the love, we love you guys back!

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