Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Favorite Pictures of All Time

Want to know the first word that comes to mind when asked to select your top five pictures?
Torture.
Panic comes in at a close second. ;)
I want to include them all! From my time living in Spain to all my kids' baby pictures to our wedding to our time in Guatemala adopting Isabelle to our surprise baby's birth...one year ago next week! Cue ALL the tears.

I'm determined not to "cheat" so here are my top five in no particular order. :)

I remember this day so clearly, and it was one of the best. We were spending the afternoon at one of favorite farms the summer after we returned from Guatemala after adopting Isabelle, and suddenly the kids just started rolling down the hills, laughing and laughing all the way down. I don't even know exactly how this pig pile originated, but I'm so glad I captured it.

I look at this now and see a little bit of Levi in each of those three gorgeous little boy faces. I had these fellas all in a time span of 3 years and four months, after losing our first babies and nearly losing my life with an abdominal ectopic pregnancy. Several doctors discouraged us from even trying to conceive because of the heightened risks, and when I see this beautiful portrait, I can't help but be reminded of God's goodness and faithfulness in my life.

At the beach, of course. Caleb was really little and racing his bright yellow dump truck all over the sand around us, the other two boys were jumping over the waves, and we were hopeful to be bringing our Isabelle home soon. (That did not happen, and it would be another year+ before we were reunited and then home.)
I love this picture and our smiling faces here, but I also desire to be transparent. Of course no marriage is perfect, and ours in no exception. We've endured many hardships, both before this photo as well as after, and this picture to me is such a beautiful symbol and testimony of God's redemptive grace.

Oh this picture.
It means the absolute world to me.
Isabelle and I were living in Guatemala on our own at this point, after saying goodbye to both Ethan and Jonah two months prior, and then to Caleb about three weeks before this was taken.
It was hard being away from them. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
But we made the most of our situation - we lived life to the fullest while waiting on governments and embassies and such, so that we'd have no regrets about that after returning home. And I don't! :)
 My best friend there, also an American adoptive Mama, snapped this photo before church one morning and it has been a favorite ever since.
You can read about our adoption by clicking on the label in the sidebar. And the picture of Isabelle on the sidebar, which is a favorite for sure!, tells another part of our adoption journey.

 This is my first picture with all five of my children in it with me. Bill took it last Mother's Day after church, when we had little Levi dedicated. This was after lunch when everybody had changed, but the look of sheer joy on everyone's faces is what makes me love this so. Levi was one month and three days old here, and we were already so smitten with him.
Plus, this was before "the shed" and I was having such a great hair day. Yes, I remember those things. :)

 Okay, so I'm cheating, but only by one.
How can I not include this sweet thing?
I still can't believe that he's turning one next week! I'm not ready!

 I'm linking up with Andrea today and have loved seeing everyone's favorite photos so far!



Friday, March 24, 2017

Some Fun Things to Remember

I just looked out the window and it's snowing right now.
Boo.
This is the hardest time of year for us in the Northeast because we're craving Spring weather but still very much stuck with lingering winter days. Warm weather cannot get here fast enough, let me tell you! I am desperate to get outside on a regular basis, and it's just too plain cold to keep Levi outside for any length of time.
However, yesterday we did just that. It was frigid and windy BUT the sun was shining and we made the most of it! Isabelle's class was going on a field trip to a textile museum (yawn), and we had actually already visited when we were homeschooling, so I asked her teacher if it was all right to take her on our own special field trip. We had fun!

We drove to Endicott Park in Danvers, MA because I'd read some neat things about it and it's fun to go places we've never been before. I have to admit I was a bit nervous that our special day might not seem all that exciting and I really didn't want Isabelle to be disappointed. But how bad can it really be when you're anywhere but stuck at a boring museum?
We started our adventure off on the right foot with a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for a pink frosted with sprinkles...before lunch! gasp! It's fun to be a Yes! Mom, sometimes. ;)

After one wrong turn, which I've decided was not entirely my fault because the highway got all screwy with unidentified sections and forks, we finally made it. Isabelle got the royal treatment for sure because she got to eat in the car AND watch a movie the whole way - she had on the wi-fi headphones and she looked really cute. We kept making eye contact in the mirror and she'd look up and smile really wide. That sure made my day! Levi was a champ, an absolute angel, and slept the whole time.
 
It was such a pretty place! We're definitely going back this summer.

 She loves both horses and anything related to Laura Ingalls Wilder - we were imagining Laura and Almanzo riding in this buggy with their friends.
Side note: Laura had a huge influence on me becoming a teacher :)

The playground there did not disappoint!
Levi hasn't been in a swing for several months and he sure looked nervous at first...
 ...still not sure
 And then he loved it!
 He really loved it. Isabelle kept fake-sneezing and he got laughing and laughing. Such a fun time together!
 Because one can never see too many adorable baby in a swing pictures...
 And where did my little baby go?!?
He looks like a full blown toddler boy here.
 My sweet, pretty girl
 I also learned that the trunk is an excellent makeshift baby jail.
ha ha ha

After I took yet another wrong turn, arggggh, we met up with Daddy in a Target parking lot for a McDonald's picnic. Which was supposed to have taken place at the actual McDonald's. Ugh. I don't think anybody really cared. It was fun!

I'm backing up a bit here...I did get Whoppie Pies made for St. Patrick's Day, which was a feat in and of itself with all the crazy that goes on here day to day. Yum! They are so good!
 Levi also spent much of that day showering me with kisses.
Lots and lots of kisses.
He's been on quite the PDA kick lately, and I love every single minute. ha ha
Of course he's also quite interested in March Madness. I'm still the winner so far in our family, but that isn't saying much at this point.
And when he isn't shooting hoops, he's helping me. ;)
I took this earlier this morning, and the mat he's sitting on holds the dog's water dish, which I let him play with for a few minutes of peace- I was washing dishes right there near him. Anyhoo. He was absolutely soaking wet by the time I took the bowl away, and he was just having the best time getting into things and being the adorable mess-maker that he is.

Poor Caleb was home sick for a couple days this week, but not super sick, so we enjoyed our time together. This morning he was excited about the very first meeting of a new chapter of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) at his school. We had to leave a little early to get him there before his school day begins but had several minutes in between dropping off Jonah, so yet again we found ourselves stopping for treats. These kids, I tell ya. ;)
Actually, Caleb was a sweetheart and pumped gas for me, which worked out well because I may have on a scarf but I'm also wearing pj pants here. No, I would not have gotten out of the car like that, I had a quarter of a tank left! Now I feel the need to explain and defend myself, ha ha. 

I still can't believe my baby is turning one so soon. He is acting more and more like a big boy, more on that in another post.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Maternity Outfits :: Third Trimester

I think it's funny that while I was in my twenties and having our babies, I really didn't like much about the whole thing - I had difficult pregnancies with severe morning sickness and other pregnancy-related health issues, and that was a looong time ago (our oldest is 17.5 now, thankyouverymuch) so maternity clothes were just the pits. Thankfully, I made myself some clothes that I didn't hate as much, but still, pretty awful.
So when I found out I was expecting my fourth baby boy (our adopted daughter makes five) at forty years old, I didn't quite know what to expect. Well, I loved nearly everything about it! Time has such a great way of changing our perspective on things, and after experiencing several heartbreaking losses over the past few years, I was simply overcome with gratitude and excitement this time around.
And maternity clothes are so much better now! Even though my entire legs swelled up and I had morning sickness until like the eight month, I had lots of fun dressing my not-so-little miracle baby bump.
And the miracle baby?
He's turning one, two weeks from today!


I thought it would be fun to have a blog post dedicated to some of my very favorite outfits from my surprise pregnancy so I can always look back and remember that special time. And two weeks before his first birthday seems like a pretty good time, ha ha. #betterlatethannever
 Maybe it will give someone else an idea or two as well, so yay!

Scarves became my very best friends.
During transitional days when it was cooler but I craved spring touches, pretty scarves made all the difference.
Plus, they added just a little something to keep things from being super boring.

A pretty cardigan is a great accessory, too.

And you can wear both at the same time :)

 This empire-style black dress was a maternity staple for me. It was easy to dress it for winter and then spring, and the fit of the dress was perfect for me because I carry very low.
I was just holding back the skirt part here to capture the bump in all its glory. :)

 I lived in this grey knit cinched tank dress for the last month. It was perfect for the beach (we took the entire family to Florida before baby came as one last family hurrah!) by itself, but it was so easy to "dress up" a bit. I would have felt way too self-conscious to parade around in a tank dress by itself for day-to-day outings, and the cardigan/sweater plus scarf did the trick for me.

(This is my gorgeous crew. And can you say, age gap much with the new baby? ha ha ha)
The pic below is around 38 weeks... another cardi, another scarf...
 (Those black shoes barely fit, and my flip flops were the only other things I could wear...but it was still very much pre-sandals season here in New England in late March!)

 This dress was my splurge outfit, even though it totally wasn't- I think it cost maybe $27?!
I ordered it from Etsy and I looooved this dress. It was comfortable enough to travel to Florida by crowded minivan (over 25 hours, people) and didn't wrinkle at all! So lightweight with just the right amount of stretch. Every expecting Mama should have at least one or two dresses that make them feel happy happy happy every time you put them on.

Looking through all these pictures is making me a bit teary-eyed. 
I am so glad I was intentional about capturing some of these things in photos because in nearly every picture I have, beyond the thicker-than-normal arms and swollen legs, puffy face and often irritated stomach, I see sheer joy on my face. And that means the world to me.
 The pics above were 34-35 weeks
Here I was around 39 weeks

This was the dress I made for my Baby Shower. I loved it, but it hasn't proven to be as forgiving post-baby as I'd hoped it would be. This is 39 weeks, about two weeks after the shower.

Not even going to try shoes, ha ha

I lived in this striped tee from Target. It was on clearance and I got this one and a lavender stripe, but hardly wore the other shirt. The navy worked so much better for me, ha!


 It made it all the way to the very end...
 I'm including this last one because it's so special to me: about an hour before leaving for the hospital, the last real outfit I ever wore while being pregnant!
By that time the next day, I was holding our new baby boy...well, technically, maybe about 29 hours later, but who's counting? Ugh, it was rough!

I'm just a regular wife and Mom, a fashionista by no means, but I really enjoyed putting in a little bit of effort to look -and feel!- better during those last challenging weeks. It was so worth it! Do I wish I had one of those adorable teeny tiny baby bumps? Um, of course! But that just isn't the way my body makes babies, and that's okay, because we are ALL different.
Now, a year later, and after a brutal winter that's still kicking around and hardly any sleep, I'm in a bit of a slump. Nothing fits right/feels right, so I'm going to up my activity as much as I can and really pay attention to what I'm eating, and I'll get there. In the meantime, I'm relying on lots of grace. :)

Oh, I forgot! This dress!
I bought it specifically with a maternity photo shoot in mind while we were in Florida, and I'm glad I did- I love how the pictures turned out! I wrote a post about taking your own maternity photos with a selfie stick HERE if you want to read it.




linking up with Lindsey for wiww
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