Hi! We are Travis and Ellen. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about us as prospective parents.
We met at work in 2008. Travis was not very smooth at first, but Ellen saw through his shyness, and we hit it off immediately after discovering we grew up in the same area! It took a few months of friendship for Travis to ask Ellen to go on a proper date, but he finally did, and our first date was at Redskins training camp.
After getting married in 2010, we took some time to be together as a new family. In 2018, we welcomed our son, Wally, into our lives through adoption. He is the light of our lives. He has made us better friends, better people, and better parents. We learn more about him and ourselves every day. Being parents has pushed us to learn more about ourselves and communicate. But most of all, he’s taught us a deeper love that only a parent has with their child.
Expectant mothers who choose to make an adoption plan may qualify for some level of financial assistance during their pregnancy. However, each person's situation and specific needs are different. Your adoption social worker can help you determine what level of assistance you qualify for and deserve. Many expectant mothers qualify for financial assistance to cover basic pregnancy and living expenses, including but not limited to - transportation reimbursement, utility assistance for phone, water, and electricity/gas, maternity clothing and supplements, etc.
Navigating a pregnancy alone is never easy. Depending on your situation and location, you may qualify for financial assistance to help cover the cost of basic living expenses, such as food and groceries.
Receiving quality medical care during your pregnancy is vital to both your health and the health of your baby. If you choose to place your baby for adoption, all of your pregnancy-related medical expenses will be covered by the adoptive family.
Women who choose to place their baby for adoption may receive financial assistance to help cover the cost of rent and utilities. If you feel that you’ll need some help with these costs, it’s important to talk to your adoption social worker about it early in the process. Each expectant mother’s situation is different, and eligibility may vary.
In order to have a healthy pregnancy, it’s important that you have everything you need to lead a healthy lifestyle. Like food and groceries, the cost of some household items - like feminine and dental care items, along with prenatal supplements - may be covered during your pregnancy.
Placing a baby for adoption is a loving, but incredibly challenging decision to make. Many women experience an array of emotions during this time and find that counseling is very helpful in navigating those feelings. If you would like to receive counseling during or after your pregnancy, that can be arranged by your adoption social worker. The cost of counseling will be covered by the adoptive family or adoption organization.
If you need assistance with transportation, your adoption social worker can work with you to find the best solution. You may eligible for assistance with transportation costs or be connected with a transportation service to utilize during your pregnancy.
It won't cost you anything. If you choose to place your baby for adoption, all of your medical and legal fees will be covered and you may be eligible for financial assistance with other pregnancy-related expenses.
Yes. Even if you don’t know the identity of the birth father, you can still choose to make an adoption plan. However, every adoption situation is different. The adoption social worker you’re assigned to will get to know you and your story first, and then guide you through the process accordingly.
You can make an adoption plan at any point in your pregnancy, even after the baby has been born. But, it's important to start the process as early in your pregnancy as possible. Connecting with those resources will allow you to gain access to important medical services, including prenatal care, to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
One aspect of your adoption plan is the "Hospital Plan" an outline of how you'd like your hospital stay and delivery to go. You can craft this on your own or with the help of your adoption social worker. But everything is up to you. You’ll be able to choose who comes to the hospital with you, who is in the room with you during delivery, and how much time you’d like to spend with the baby before signing the final papers.
As part of your adoption plan, you'll determine whether or not you’d like to have an open or closed adoption or something in between. Open adoptions may include phone calls, messaging (via social media, email, or text), and/or periodic visits each year. Closed adoptions may include no contact at all or annual updates provided to the birth parent(s) by the adoptive family. Each post-adoption relationship is different and can vary based on what an expectant mother chooses in her adoption plan.
Tonight we did our annual Christmas Light drive in a nearby town. It's a 3 mile drive with Christmas lights and at the end there is a carnival with rides, lights, fire pits, food - all the things you love about a carnival. We've done the light drive before, but this is the first year we stayed for the Carnival. (We did push bedtime a bit later to enjoy the fun.) We rode the Ferris wheel (Travis' favorite), the Dancing Bears (Ellen's favorite), the Teacups, and the Speedway Racers (our son's favorite). Here are some pictures.
Apologies for posting this over a week late. Happy Thanksgiving to all! This year, we stayed home for Thanksgiving and opened our home to those from our church who didn't have a place to celebrate. We welcomed a refugee family celebrating their first American Thanksgiving and a woman whose plans went awry. I'm confident in saying everyone was blessed celebrating together. We didn't know each other very well, but can now call each other friends. The family that joined us had a son around the same age as our son. Yes, there was a language gap (English vs. French) but we made do. I even translated some of our family recipes to French for the family to enjoy at future Thanksgivings. It's hard to put into words how full my heart is welcoming strangers to our home for Thanksgiving. It's a testiment to the body of Christ. We don't know each other, but we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Now we are closer to members of our church family. Now we are turning to Christmas and will have more posts about what we are doing leading up to Christmas. I am thrilled to report our tree is up...
Happy Halloween to you! We created some new traditions. We don't like the gore, scarry Halloween, but prefer to celebrate the fall season. However, on Halloween we carved a pumpkin (named Jack O'Lantern - very original), baked a pumkpin pie, and of course went trick or treating. This is the first year our son could fully grasp the concept of trick or treating. He loved getting candy and I'm proud to say was very polite saything "thank you" and "Happy Halloween." Best story of the night - Our son asked Travis to carry his bucket of candy. Travis said he would carry it, but the cost was 5 pieces of candy. Our son responded "I think I can carry it myself." 😂😇🎃
One month ago, our son started preschool. It's our first experience with school of any kind since we stopped daycare and I became a stay at home mom. I'll be honest, I had mixed feelings. I really enjoy the time I have with our son and I know these moments are so precious I don't want to give them up. But, over the course of the year, it's clear our son has been craving more interactions with kids his own age and the play dates I've organized were not enough. So, on the recommendation of a friend we enrolled in a 3 day/week morning program that is best described as Christian forest school. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm reevaluating everything about education. I'm asking a lot of "why?" questions. I'm seeking out different resources to challenge my ideas about school. One thing Travis and I have come to value is more play time outside. That is what this program offers our son. Every day (except during really dangerous weather) our son is outside learning about the world around him: exploring the creek running through the property; finding a frog or various types of animal poop; playing in...
In our family, we love a good festival. One of our favorites happens down near the Grandparent's house. A local charity hosts an annual crab festival and we've been for the past 7 or 8 years. Of course, our son's favorite part was the free crab mallet and smashing crabs with the mallet. I don't think he actually enjoyed eating crab - luckily, there were hot dogs and bbq available as well.
Now when you pick a pawpawOr a prickly pearAnd you prick a raw pawWell, next time bewareDon't pick the prickly pear by the pawWhen you pick a pearTry to use the clawBut you don't need to use the clawWhen you pick a pear of the big pawpaw. - Baloo the Bear, The Jungle Book This was the first Youtube song we ever watched with our son. We were on vacation and he around 18 months and sick and it was the only thing that made him smile. Neither Travis nor I could remember how we got to this song from the Jungle Book, but we did and it's been a favorite. Imagine my surprise, when I learned that the pawpaw is actually a fruit. I should I listened to Baloo. That bear told me in the song that the pawpaw is a fruit, but I didn't listen. In fact, the pawpaw is the largest native tropical fruit in North America. The fruit produced tastes like a mango and a banana had a baby. The insides of the pawpaw has the consistency of custard and is so delicious to eat raw. The fruit is also very delicate and...
Today we returned from a 10 day vacation to the lake. We've definitely been "Living the Lake Life" this summer. This was our first time at this particular lake and it's both fun and intimidating to learn the local customs and good places to eat. Recently, we've vacationed at several different lakes this summer and each one is so different. The one we just visited is much larger than our previous lake trips. We were able to rent a boat for a week and family was able to join us for parts of our time. Here are a few things I learned (or were reinforced in my mind): 1. I love Lake Life. I enjoy freshwater swimming. It is so refreshing and invigorating. And there's no sand to get everywhere. It's just water and land - no sand. 2. Docking a boat is stressful. No matter how many times you do it, it's stressful (and I've docked a lot of boats in my life as a kid and an adult). 3. Seeing life through the eyes of a child is a blessing. Every experience is new (or mostly new). They enjoy simple pleasures like splashing water in...
Recently, I came across the 1000 Hours Outside movement that encourages families to get outside at least 1000 hours each year - approximately 3 hours per day. Seems easy, but with chores, errands and general life, sometimes it seems difficult to accomplish. But, we are doing out best! The idea of 1000 hours outside is part of a reevaluation of our view play in our family. How can a child get 1000 hours outside if they're also doing piano, martial arts, art class, etc. every week. In our community, kids attend organized clubs and activities from an early age, seeming to substitute experiences for quality time with parents. All parents want to give their children everything - an advantage for later in life, but do kids want it? I have been challenging my own preconceived ideas of what it means to have quality vs quantity experiences. So we have prioritized a gym class for the last 2 years. We have added a few other short classes - like art class - every so often. However, mostly we have been keeping our calendar open. We are not afraid to bail on something that is not for us. We are...
Happy Independence Day to everyone! We live in such a great country with such great people. How did you spend your 4th of July? Here's a bit of our weekend. We went berry picking with Grandma, my (Ellen) brother and sister-in-law. We picked raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. We spent most afternoons at the pool. Travis smoked a pork shoulder. We made America a birthday cake. Finally, we enjoyed some fireworks on the 4th before bedtime. Here are some pictures of our weekend.
One of my goals is to do more short trips (1-2 nights) for fun experiences - think a big zoo trip, aquarium, museum, amusement park, etc. Things a bit further from where we live. Last week, we did one such adventure - to ride with Thomas the Train. Of course riding the train was the highlight, but we also got to do a lot more to explore the area. This time, we added a farm tour. We learned about the different animals, fed them, held them (one piglet pooped on me 😆). The farmers were Amish so we also learned about different ways of life. Here are some pictures from our adventure:
The last few days I have been attending a local homeschool conference. I never thought I would be doing this. Travis attended public school and I went to both public and private school growing up. However, this time of COVID has really taught me I need to look critically at my "default settings" and challenge them. One area I'm challenging myself is education. In challenging myself, I dig deep into the subject and try to become fluent in the language and ideas of the subject matter. For homeschooling, I've done a ton of research online and have listened to many hours of podcasts and youtube videos. Now, I'm attending a conference to get in person knowledge and education - including basic primers on the homeschool laws in my state and basic ways to structure school at home. One thing the each conference speaker has emphasized is that learning is a life long pursuit. It's not just about reading, writing and math; but learning to think well and love learning. How true this is! In fact, it is what I'm doing at the conference - learning about something new to me! Does this mean we will homeschool? I...
This goes in the category of "kids say the darndest things..." Earlier this week, my son got a scrape at the playground. No big deal, but required cleaning out and a band aid for a day or two. On the second day, my son says he wants a band aid, but "no band aid water, it stings." I realized he was talking about hydrogen peroxide and I just couldn't help but laugh. It's such an amazing thing a toddler/preschooler mind. Putting together concepts to describe something for which he doesn't fully have the words. From now on hydrogen peroxide will forever be "band aid water."
Yes... I know I'm a week late on Mother's Day. But, we were all sick last week on Mother's Day and we had to adjust to celebrate this week. I love being a mother. It's the best. Before we adopted our son, I was really afraid of being a mom. I had a lot of thoughts about how my life would change. I wasn't sure I was responsible enough to raise another person. I'm so blessed God calmed my fears and showed me I am a mom and I love my life as a mom. I also know that my son through adoption has another birth mother. It's so normal in our family to talk about adoption, but we use days, like Mother's Day, to talk about my son's birth mother in a where it's naturally part of the conversation. As we continue to pray to expand our family again through adoption, I want you to know that we will do the same with you. Your child will know about you. It's a natural part of our conversations. We don't shy away from it. We honor the role of "mother" in the life of our adoptive child/children. Everyone...
I know Ellen writes most of the posts on this blog. But I wanted to write a few words on our 12th anniversary. The past 12 years have seen so many highs and yes, some lows, but I am a better man with Ellen in my life. My parents were not married even close to 12 years, so I never had a model for successful marriage. I am proud we have both made it this far together. Ellen and I have grown, changed and in some areas, stayed the same - but we've done it together. I am a better man than when I first vowed to love, honor and cherish Ellen until death do us part. And I know Ellen feels the same way about herself. I pray for at least 12 more years together.
This week I have been filled with immense joy. I don't know why (maybe the first week of good weather), but I this week has felt like an easy, warm, loving hug and I wanted to share some of this joy with you. Monday the weather was terrible, but we went to our first art class (outside). I'm not particularly gifted in the creative arts, but I am gifted in finding resources to fill in the gaps. Despite the poor weather, we really enjoyed a creative class. (Plan on doing a separate post on art class so check back in.) It was so inspiring that I went to Michael's later in the week and bought way too many art supplies. Wednesday was a beautiful day. Travis was able to come home early and we broke out the bubbles and played in the yard together. Thursday we went to a makeup swim class. Our son has the biggest smile on his face splashing around with the instructor. I am really looking forward to our pool opening over Memorial Day weekend. Friday I took our son on our first hike of the spring season at a nearby National...
We had a great family day yesterday, celebrating Easter. On Saturday, we visited a friend's church to participate in an Easter egg hunt. The egg hunt was a lot of fun and there were fun games and crafts. On Sunday, we attended church. Our church had a flower cross out front which to we added some tulips from our yard. Travis smoked a ham for Easter dinner. It was a quiet day full of family. I pray you had a blessed Easter. The Lord is risen for all of us!
It's a big night tonight... First night our son is in the "big boy" bed. We promised him if he learned to put all his pee in the potty at night time, he could start sleeping in the "big boy" bed (ie. a twin bed). And tonight, he's doing it. As is our usual, there is no back and forth - only forward. The crib was disassembled this morning. There are so many amazing firsts as a parent. This is one of my favorites so far. It seems like a big milestone - perhaps just beneath walking and talking - but still very big.
Travis and I love cherry blossom trees. Everything about their delicate flower, short duration and beauty makes us appreciate the early spring. We planted a cherry blossom tree our first spring in our house. Sadly, over the past few years the tree got sick and we had to remove it last year. This is the first year I cannot see the beautiful blossoms out my front window. However, we still wanted to enjoy the blossoms so we went to DC and took in the trees. Here are a few pictures from our walk around the Tidal Basin.
Folks, it's been a week... The first stomach bug... And the first time I've had full frontal, projectile vomit coming my way. And oh boy... did that stuff spray. Yuck. 🤢🤮😩 I mean sure, I've been spit up on, explosive pooped on, and pee pee is a given. But when that vomit hit me square in the chest it was hard to stay calm. After that we camped out in the shower. 24 hours later, the bug passed on by and left a stinky house in its path, ridculous amounts of laundry. Let's just say, we've watching a lot of Paw Patrol this week. No shame. Sometimes you just have to do it.
Ellen - I was recently introduced to an artist, JJ Heller, who sings lullabies. She has original songs and covers that she remixes into slow, calming, but joyful music. I've really enjoyed turning her music on towards the end of the day when we need to wind down. JJ's voice just brings such a breath of calm to my mind and heart. Travis - Every weekend my favorite thing to listen to is the SiriusXM 80s station. Every weekend they do a countdown of the top 40 songs that week - the year changes each week. This week it's 1980. Sadly, 1980 is not a great year for music - lots of duds in there. But it's so fun to hear songs I enjoy but forget about. Then I go and download them on my phone to listen to more later. Kid Music - We have a special "kid music" playlist that we play for our son. It is very ecclectic including songs from Sesame Street, Truck Tunes, and Blippi. We also play some old classics like Pete Seeger folk songs and lullabies. One day it was raining pretty hard and so I thought I'd play some songs...
It's so crazy to think the end may be in sight for diapers. We've started to do night time potty training. The last major step to being diaper free. Of course it's bittersweet to think about. All those small and funny faces during diaper changes. Singing songs. It's a new phase of growing up. But I also think about welcoming another baby into our family - and that I might once again have a little one in diapers. I know it sounds insane to cherish the diaper changes. But I will. My heart will be so full to change the pee and poop and also get the giggles and singing and funny faces that comes with it.
It's been cold here. And windy. So there hasn't been as much time outside. So we joined some friends for an indoor picnic lunch. So much fun to spread a blanket on the floor and eat. There is only one sandwich for a picnic -- peanut butter and jelly. The thing that strikes me most is the excitement a kid has when doing something they know in a new way. We don't usually eat on the floor on a blanket. But seeing the excitement to have a picnic inside is priceless.
Happy 2022! I know many who were down about 2021, but Travis and I were talking about it last night and 2021 was a good year for us as a family. We drew closer and more connected to each other. Sure, we're not doing the same things we did in 2019, but the changes aren't bad. In general, we've slowed our lives down to be more present - not rushing to do things. We are better at saying "no" and committing to those things which we feel called to participate in. While these were not resolutions we set at the start of 2021, upon reflection, they are a positive outcome to the year and something to continue into 2022. Now in 2022, none of us have set resolutions. Sure, there are habits we want to create or renew, but the focus on resolutions at the start of the year minimizes that changes, challenges and life happens throughout the year. We want to be open 365 days a year to the call on our lives and be open to listen and act. Happy New Year to everyone. May your year be filled with blessings. May the Lord bestow upon...
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given... and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6 This is the verse I've been praying this Christmas season. When I pray over our son, I've paired it with John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. To me, these two very well known verses have found a home in my heart this Christmas. This season I needed a reminder of the basics of my faith. Christmas begets Easter and that is the reason we celebrate. I pray these verses will find a home in your heart too. Merry Christmas!
Christmas time is in full swing in our house. Stockings are hung by the fireplace with care. Presents are wrapped. And Santa's elves have been visiting nightly to leave a special gift in the advent calendar. The Christmas tree is up and looks beautiful. The Christmas music is playing and the Christmas wreath candle is putting out beautiful Christmas smells. I am a big proponent of incorporating all the senses into experiences (sight, smell, hearing, touching) - it means so much to smell the smells of my Grandma's house when I bake cookies. So, we are trying to build those memories up in our family.
Oh man, it's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is soon upon us. We were blessed to celebrate Thanksgiving together as a family with extended family joining. Unfortunately, a close family member experienced a medical emergency and was in the hospital for Thanksgiving. Thankfully, she is out of the hospital and quickly recovering at home. But we missed them at Thanksgiving and are hoping Christmas will bring us all together. I wanted to share our Thanksgiving prayer. This is from the Book of Common Prayer, and I hope you will find comfort in this prayer as I do. Most merciful Father, we humbly thank you for all your gifts so freely bestowed upon us: for life and health and safety, for strength to work and leisure to rest, for all that is beautiful in creation and in human life; but above all we thank you for our spiritual mercies in Christ Jesus our Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
November 6 marked one year since I left my job to stay at home full time. I wanted to share some reflections from the past year. First and foremost, I have not once regretted leaving my job to be a stay at home mom. Our life is more full, we are less stressed, better rested, and more connected. We have done things together we never would have time to do if I were still working. Dinner is on the table at the appropriate time and it's a home cooked meal, not take out most nights. Our schedule has become routine and even when we do new things, the consistency of the eating and sleeping remains. I have missed the connections made at work through proximity and common work/purpose. But in the past year, I've done a lot to forge different connections with new friends and reestablished connections with old friends. I also have a reflected a great deal on what is important in raising children and the important lessons to impart while they are young. To this end, I have grown deeper in my faith. God has rekindled my heart for learning and growing in his Word. In taking...
Biggest question - what were you for Halloween this year? For us, it's all about Marshall from Paw Patrol - aka fire doggie. So of course, firefighter for Halloween. One of the positive changes from the pandemic was the development of the candy chute. I was so happy to see those seem to be staying. What kid doesnt love candy being tossed down a tube and shoot out at you?!?! Also, the block party for the street one over from us brought back their Halloween block party. As a mom, it's nice to have one nearby block closed to traffic. So we walked down our block and over to the block next door and picked up a lot of candy.
Our annual block party is back this year. Still more subdued than previous years, but we were able to block off the street this year as in the past. We've welcomed several new families to the block this year. New this year was a balloon artist. Balloon swords were a very popular choice. It was great to meet and get to know them better. It's a great community full of kids - older, younger, and some babies coming soon. We pray we will be able to welcome another kiddo through adoption soon too. He or She will have many friends on the the street to play with and become friends.
This month has been a time for local adventures that we've never done or haven't done in a while. Because of COVID, our son had never been to the zoo. We were relying on Youtube videos to show him lions, tigers and bears -- and monkeys, giraffes, zebras and more. So we did a day trip to the zoo and the excitement was priceless. He enjoyed the aquarium, but the zoo was even better. My favorite part - feeding the giraffes! No one else liked it and I can hardly blame them. It was freaky and exhilarating. I should have realized giraffe tongues would be long, but oh boy were they crazy! And the tongues are black/purple color. And they would try to wrap the tongue around your hand to get the food. And their noses are hairy like long stubble. EEEEK. Crazy and cool. I really enjoyed feeding them.
This year we've decided to skip our normal August vacation trip and do some fun activities locally that we've either never done or haven't done in a while. So this weekend, we visited the aquarium. It's been ages since either Travis or I had been to an aquarium. It was so much fun to see the different fish. This aquarium also had a lot of lizards, snakes, frogs and other animals, in addition to sharks, stingrays and turtles. Here are some pictures from our adventure. Komodo Dragon Shark Turtle
Summer is here and peaches are ripening. We went to our favorite orchard that was having a Peach Festival. Some friends and their kids joined us. We had a great day playing in the creek, riding a pony, hayrides, and eating lots of peach cobbler and ice cream. Looking forward to making our own cobbler with the peaches we brought home.
Over the 4th of July holiday, we visited a local beach and walked in the sand and splashed in the water. While we were walking I was transfixed by our son's footprints in the sand. They are so small, some of them barely leave a mark because he's not very heavy. I took a picture of them and it brought to mind the poem about footprints in the sand. I've been reflecting on the photo and the poem for a week now and wanted to share them. FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND One night I dreamed a dream.As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,One belonging to me and one to my Lord. After the last scene of my life flashed before me,I looked back at the footprints in the sand.I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,especially at the very lowest and saddest times,there was only one set of footprints. This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it."Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,You'd walk with me all...
Happy 4th of July to all! This was the first year for sparklers in the neighborhood. Several neighbors gathered and we all lit sparklers and talked. We also visited Grandma and Grandpa for a few days and enjoyed sparklers at their house. It was blazing hot (per usual July 4th) so we did spend a bit of time decorating cookies and visiting the local arcade. One morning we went to a local state beach and enjoyed the water before it go too hot outside. Here are a few pictures of our weekend. PS - Grandpa won that game of Mario Kart. Good driving, Grandpa!
Summer is here. It's hot and humid. That means it's blueberry season. Along with some friends, this week we went to a local farm and picked fresh blueberries. Admittedly, a fair number went in our mouths instead of the basket; they are so sweet and delicious. Perfect for blueberry pancakes and blueberry compote with ice cream. I might have just enough to make a small blueberry pie - toddlers can only pick so many blueberries in the heat and humidity before it all falls apart. But it was so much fun. All the kids fell asleep on the ride home - a sure sign of a successful adventure.
This week, our swing set arrived! Here are some pictures of the set up and final set! It's wonderful to see the excitement on our son's face and the joy he get using it. I am so thrilled that on days we're not able to make it to a park, he can still swing and slide. We are looking forward to having friends and family over to enjoy it this summer and many years of enjoying it. This is another step towards becoming the fun hang out house.
We are always looking for calm, quiet places to visit. Last week, we visited lakes a few hours away from Travis's mother and brother's family. It was a lovely mini family reunion. We are the furthest away from Travis's family so we don't see them as often as we'd like, but we enjoy the time together when we do. For this trip, visiting the lakes was amazing. We were able to drive a boat on the lake, enjoy swimming and jumping in the water, visit a goat farm, eat way too much ice cream, hike to a waterfall and ride around on golf carts. Here are some pictures of our adventures.
A few weeks ago, it was Friday night I was exhausted and did not want to cook dinner. And with that...... Pizza Movie Night was established. Now, after only a few weeks it's something we all look forward to. We've been watching movies we haven't seen in a while or ever. We get to introduce our son to age-appropriate movies we love. Our first movie was Finding Nemo. Our pizza order is Extra Large with half cheese, half pepperoni. Of course, we haven't completed a whole movie on Pizza Movie Night - bedtime comes quickly. But, these are movies we will watch again and again over the years. As our family grows and grows up, we know these fun nights together are a treasure and blessing. Tonight's Movie: 101 Dalmations.
Mother's Day is not only a time to celebrate contributions of mom's to the family, but I also like to reflect on the many mom's that are in my life. Of course, my mom is a huge influence on me and the person I am today as were my grandmothers. I also have my mother-in-law and stepmother-in-law who have both shown me different styles of mothering, but no less loving. On Mother's Day I also think of our son's birth mother and the love she showed to us and to our son. And I also think about and pray for the mothers who read this and learn more about us. Every mother is different. Every day I see that there is no right way to be a mother. There is only the way I've chosen to be the best mother I can be and try to continually do what I think is right, just and true. I pray every day for the mothers in my life - and the mother I will meet through this adoption process.
Spring has come to our area (and a few days of previews of the humid summers). It's been so fun to shake off the winter, put away the coats and hats, and get outside without freezing. We have already been out to a local farm to pick tulips, see some farm animals and "ride" cool antique tractors. The spring season has brought a renewed emphasis on finding mom friends. Without the built in socialization of work, I have to work harder to make friends. But we persist and always keep ourselves open to meet new people. Looking forward to fun spring activities to come.
One of the great things about watching a child grow is so many things - everything - is new. I don't have to make a big production and the time we spend together will be fun, exciting and new. This time, we went to a local park and saw a waterfall for the first time. It's little things, seeing the awe in a child's eyes, that make me wish I was a child again.
In honor of Easter, we wanted to share a prayer from the Anglican prayer book. May God bless and keep you today and always. You are in our prayers. Almighty God, who through your only‑begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life‑giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
One of the ways we are introducing our adoption story to our son is celebrating "Adoption Day." It's another birthday with all the fun - cake, balloons, presents! For a little kid, adoption can be a difficult concept to understand. Making it real with Adoption Day is concrete and, over time, will promote great coversations about adoption. We are looking forward to welocoming another child and we can celebrate Birthday and Adoption Day.
One fun thing we do every week is gym class. We started in October and it's been so helpful for improving our son's gross motor delay. So now Mondays are "Gym Class Day." It's been a lifesaver in the winter time to have a warm place to run around, climb, jump. Now the weather is getting warmer, the gym class will be a great addition to all the fun outside play. I wish I enrolled us earlier to help with the gross motor skills. This is one lesson I will differently if we're blessed to grow our family again through adoption. Just a reminder how much I learn as a mom everyday.
The old saying goes "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." While I dislike these old adages, this one I agree with. Also, breakfast is the most delicious meal of the day. I make sure I wake up early to be sure a good breakfast is on the table. Pancakes, bacon and eggs, sausage and grits casserole, french toast, bagel, oatmeal, fruit salad, potato hash, peanut butter toast, biscuits and jam - these are just a few things that could be served in the morning. I have fond memories of my father preparing breakfast before we went off to school. I loved the smell of bacon when I woke up. I am so excited to pass these memories on to my children.
Last week I wrote about our little library we've started at home. I wanted to mention just a few books we are reading right now. I rotate the books that are out and which ones are on the shelf so the material stays fresh. Right now, we're reading: Fox in Sox - Dr. Seuss 10 Apples up on Top - Dr. Seuss Llama Llama Mad at Mama Llama Llama Mess Mess Mess 100 Trucks and Things that Go God Bless My Boo Boo Please Goodnight Moon Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site Pajama Time! Cement Mixer ABCs These are the favorites right now. Will be rotating the books again soon, so we'll have more favorites to discover.
It is such a blessing to have a child who loves to read. When it comes to books, our son cannot get enough. It is a blessing but also a challenge. We live three blocks from a public library - that has been closed for almost a year in these trying times. So we've created a system to get new books. First, we've bought a lot of books. We've been supporting a local bookstore when we purchase books recommended by friends and family members. I also belong to a local mom group that has a marketplace and I often purchase second hand books from this great resource. Second, many of our neighbors host Little Free Library boxes. We often borrow books from these generous neighbors. Finally, we swap books with other moms and friends. It's been a very positive way to stay connected with friends. So now we have a robust library in place with well loved books to be enjoyed again and again.
Well, we've started potty training our son. We both felt that as we prepare to welcome another child through adoption, our son needs to take this huge step to becoming a big kid. Also the thought of changing diapers on two kids seemed overwhelming. How's it going? Well it's hard to say - we've never done this before! We've all cleaned a lot of pee and poop off the floor. But celebrating the times the pee and poop go in the potty has been great. But man, the kid can really hold his bladder at 2 years old. I swear I pee at least twice before he pees once. The kid is a camel. There's no going back - so onward to potty training success however long it may take. PS - No pictures with this post... 😅😅😅
Freddy - also known as dog - is the furriest member of our family. Travis and I adopted Freddy from a local animal shelter in 2009. He is 13 (we think) years old now and is just as loyal and friendly as the day we got him. He also continues to have a special skill for slipping out of the yard - his first day with us he ran down to the neighborhood school and he still manages to get out even at 13! Freddy is our son's best friend. For a while, any animal with four legs was a dog. Cat... nope, dog. Squirrel... dog. Bear.... dog. Deer... dog. Fox.... dog. Freddy is so patient with our son and has been from the beginning. His favorite toy is a squeaky duck and he loves a good neck rub. His favority couch is right under the front window so he can keep an eye out. He has the softest fur that was brown, but now is mostly grey. I have no doubt Freddy will be just as sweet as we are blessed with more children through adoption.
It's been very cold at home. January and February are tough winter months. With the holidays over, we decided to go someplace warmer. We've done several trips with our son, but this was the first one with a full toddler with all of his toddler opinions and energy. We read several books about road trips before we left - the favorite is "Fred and Ted's Road Trip." While on the road our favorite games were sing-a-longs and "water tower" (where you look out for water towers). Our son is very good at spotting water towers. We really enjoyed being at a warm beach. The town we visited has some amazing playgrounds. Travis enjoyed playing some golf. We played in the water and learned about different types of fish and sea birds. It's amazing to see a child's mind expand and learn right before your eyes. Awesome playground near our rental. Arrrr matey!
This week is birthday week. Both Travis and I have birthdays this week, one after another. It's great our birthdays are so close - we end up extending the holidays into January. We will go on a post-holiday detox after 😀 Below are birthday wishes to each other! Happy Birthday Travis - the best partner and friend in life and love. Happy Birthday Ellen - you grow into a stronger woman and mother every day. Here's to another year better than the one before.
Nothing compares to the joy of a child on Christmas morning. This year, our son started to understand a bit more about Christmas. "Yeaka" (Santa) says ho, ho, ho. Reindeer pull the sleigh. Christmas trees are awesome with lots of lights. The whole neighborhood is filled with lights. But when he came down and saw the presents on Christmas morning the sparkle in his eye was so joyful it made my heart melt. I am so excited to welcome another child and share these joys of Christmas: Christ, carols, cookies, presents, and so much more. I hope to share the magic of Christmas morning with another child.
It's been several weeks since I (Ellen) left the paid work world to be a mom full-time. I thought leaving would be harder, but I've never been more at peace and without regrets. Every day with our son has been a gift. I think making this huge transitions during the holidays has helped. There are so many traditions, things to do, fun to have that it's easy to fill the day. Most of all, I've noticed the things I always wanted to do - or say I'm going to do - actually can get done. For example, I always wanted to make hot chocolate from scratch, but I never got around to it. Now, I've made hot chocolate - with real chocolate, not powder - three times and I feel like I'm perfecting my ratio of chocolate to milk. Growing up, my grandmother would bake dozens of different kinds of cookies. I remember them being all over her townhouse and more coming out of the oven every hour. While I don't know if I will ever reach such prolific status, I have resolved to bake at least one batch of cookies a week. Even better if I can find a...
This weekend we decorated the Christmas Tree. Our son loves lights and was ecstatic to see, play with, and string the Christmas lights on the tree. It's a day to stay in pajamas, drink hot chocolate, eat candy canes and have fun together as a family. These are the fun holiday traditions we are passing down. It is amazing to see our son pick up on them. You can see the awareness across his face. It fills my heart with joy.
December 1 is the start of our Christmas Advent calendar. Growing up, instead of the standard advent box of chocolates, my parents (Ellen) would fill an advent calendar with little trinkets, coins, candy, etc. I was a terrible sneak and would always peek ahead to future days to see what was in store. It comes with a little mouse that you move to signify the day of advent. When we welcomed our son, my parents gifted him the advent calendar. It's the perfect representation of 1980s, but very meaningful to me. I was so excited to fill it tonight with matchbox cars, coins, faux stick-on tattoos, bouncy balls and more. Now, I just have to keep our son from peaking ahead - life has come full circle. The other day I was thinking about a second child and what advent calendar he or she would have. I wanted to find a same or similar one. Once again the internet came to the rescue. I found the exact same advent calendar on Ebay - including the mouse - and I bought it. I look forward to the day when I can fill two advent calendars.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! It's a blessing for you to be reading more about us. We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were fortunate to have family join us. Per usual, we cooked way too much food and will be enjoying the leftovers for several days. This year our menu was: fried turkey, turkey gravy, sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, Brussels sprouts with onions and bacon, cranberry chutney, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and whipped cream. Such a large bounty to celebrate family and thank God for our blessings this year.
2020 and COVID have been such a challenge for so many people. Our family has also struggled with the upheaval from COVID. For this post, I want to focus on the positive things that have come from COVID and this time in our lives. One of the biggest blessings I have found from COVID is the desire to spend more time with family. When our son joined us, I didn't question returning to work and putting him in daycare. It's just what people did. Even though my mom stayed at home, I didn't seriously consider it as an option - especially when our son was accepted into a great daycare. COVID showed me how much I loved being a mother and how much our son flourished at home. Our son started walking at home. He's started really talking and learning new words. If I had been working normally, I would have missed all these things. My son would still love me and I would still me "ma" but I would have missed these moments that can never come back. I no longer wanted to watch as someone else taught my child. For the first time I questioned what society...
It's a bit surreal to write this, but today is my last day at my job. After months of reflection, I have decided that my heart is leading me to stay at home with our son (and future son/daughter). I am so blessed to have Travis' full support and love. We are so blessed to have the resources to make this decision. I have such a strong sense of peace about this I know this is what I'm being called to do right now. I think back to my own mother raising us at home knowing she was always there. I want our children to know I'm always at home waiting for them. I want to be the house where our kids and their friends can gather. While my work will no longer be paid, I know raising a child is the most challenging job there is. But the rewards are incalculable and I know being a mom is more rewarding than anything I could do in a paid job. Instead of looking back at my career, I'm looking forward to all the new adventures I get to have with my family!
Halloween was different this year, but no less fun. In fact, I think our neighborhood came together more. So many families out front with firepits, decorations and lots of candy bowls for kids to raid. Our son went as Captain America - although Travis ended up carrying his shield most of the night. Since our son doesn't really understand the candy side of Halloween yet, we walked around the block and saw all the decorations and talked with our neighbors. He loved the candy chutes and pumpkins ("bumbin"). I hope the candy chutes stick around in future Halloweens. We set out a table and candy bags for other trick-or-treaters. For the first time, all the candy was taken! We're happy and sad there are no leftovers.
Another great fall weekend with mild weather and sunny skies. We visited a local apple festival and enjoyed a hay ride, hay maze, pumpkin patch, apple picking, and petting zoo. We ate our weight in apple cider donuts and funnel cake. It was a wonderful day to be together.
October is a great month. One of my favorites. I love the weather and our neighborhood block party. This year's block party was scaled back, but COVID could not stop the block party entirely. This year featured a donut eating contest, house decorating contest, scavenger hunt and a "chalk the walk" event. Our son loved playing with chalk the most. It was a great time with neighbors. Hopefully next year will be back to the normal block party we all love.
Spent the morning assembling the crib. This is the first part of getting the baby's room in order. It's also the part I like the least. The instructions are always confusing. I always put a piece on backwards and have try again. Definitely an exercise in patience and determination. But it's together and sturdy!
Merry Christmas to you and your family! 🎄⛪🎁 I pray your celebration was warm; full of love and family and joy. A few days before Christmas we visisted another light show. They had these amazing light tiles on the ground. They were so much fun to jump on and change colors. We spent at least 45 minutes jumping on them. On Christmas Eve, it is Travis' family tradition to visit the gravesites of relatives to honor and remember them on at Christmas. We do it every year - this year it was VERY COLD, but we continued on albeit a bit more quickly this year. After these visits, we went to Christmas Eve church service. On Christmas Day, we had a wonderful celebration with Grandma and Grandpa, presents, music, food, a birthday cake for Jesus (actually breakfast cinnamon rolls with a candle), made some Christmas cookies with Grandma, and lots of hugs and love. Christmas is really our favorite time of the year. It's always over too soon. This year we're extending Christmas through Ephiphany to include the 12 days of Christmas. This song (and several books we now have as well) have become our son's Christmas...
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