Christmas Eve Ivy turns 5! I can't believe it! She loves to go to the American Girl store at the Grove in Los Angeles. She never gets anything there. Haha. I always tell her that it is more of a special occasion store and since it isn't your birthday.... Well, today was the day. I took her down to the Grove and she picked out a little dog named Honey to give her American Girl doll, Emily, for Chritmas. She was so excited. One thing I will say about Ivy is that I tell her no alot when she wants something and she (almost) always says,"Yes Mom". So I was really excited today when I told her that Daddy said she could pick something out. It was really special to see her eyes get big as she walked around the store to pick something out. I will have to add a picture later of her and the dog since she put him in her room and Lulu is sleeping. I heart Ivy Elliott!
Kate and Ivy decorating. The finished product. Jaden named his Gingerbread Man "David the Shepard" while Ty named his "Hairy Chest Man". Playing dress up Lucy with one of her "big brothers". These boys are so good with Lucy. They entertain her, play with her, make her laugh, but as I watch them they are always gentle with her. I love that. They told me that they wanted a baby sister (yeah Wendy! Haha) until Lulu took a nap upstairs and they had to be quiet and couldn't go in their room. I think it was then that they decided that seeing Lucy was enough. :)
P.S. The pictures were taken with my phone. Not the greatest.
Lucy's Baby Dedication at churchIvy and Lucy waiting for Mom and Dad while we do sound checks for the Christmas concerts. Matt conducting the PBC orchestra I sang a song with Dan Waldeck and sang a solo, "I Believe" by Natalie Grant. Aunt Hollie came to watch. Yeah!
I went with my favorite shopping partner (a.k.a. Ivy E.) to an estate sale in Encino this afternoon. It was really spur of the moment. I was on my blog and clicked on estate sales to the right of my blog. (Tiffany, I thought of you!) I hadn't been to one in a while so it was so fun to jump in the car. We found some treasures. It was a fun one because they had a lot of vintage Christmas decor. (Kirra, I thought you would love it!)I LOVE this snowman. It might be my greatest treasure. It says 1949 on the bottom. They are both candles that I won't light but just enjoy. I turned down a mirror like this one before and regretted it. This one has two chips that I need to fix but otherwise, it is a nice one. My girls have a Christmas tree in their room and I have always wanted one in my room. This little cutie was $5 and the perfect size for Matt to not get upset. All the ornaments you see are ones that Ivy picked out for her tree. She really had a good eye. I begged her for the little red bulb for my tree (after I told her she needed to use her own money, but decided to just buy them for her.) She said no but I could maybe borrow it for my tree next year. That little stinker! I really wanted it so I tried to guilt her into it but she wouldn't budge. Hi little ornament that Mommy wants but can't have.....sigh I got 2 jars. One is Kerr. I thought they would be cute with Christmas candy or something. Ivy was gracious enough to let me "borrow" her red ornament for this picture.
Adoption has given me and my family so many special blessings. I am learning that if I let go a little bit and allow God to work then He shows me gifts that I didn't even think about. Over the last year, through facebook I have gotten to know Ivy's birth grandma. I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous at first. Even before we adopted Ivy, I had a friend tell me to be careful what kind of information I gave out because once you give it out, it is out there so you can never get it back. Since I am more of an "open book" I took that advice and was very guarded. After all, Ivy has AMAZING grandparents who have always loved her like I had given birth to her. They celebrate every birthday, Gotcha Day, visit and celebration. Ivy has a very full life. But Matt and I decided that we would be Facebook friends and through that I gained a beautiful friend. The thing about "Mammo" that I love is that she is so respectful of Matt and I. She is genuinely happy that we are Ivy's parents, I know that she loves us, and we never feel pressured by her/them. She is not pushy and if we can't meet her (which happened once before) she is fine with that (although I am sure disappointed). Mammo's respect of Matt and I as Ivy's parents won me over.
We got together and we felt like family right away. They had a birthday party for Ivy with birthday presents, her favorite cake, and a spagetti dinner that Ivy requested. Then we all got Christmas presents. The other thing that meant so much to me is that they treated Lucy like Ivy. Lucy got presents. Auntie Jennisah wanted to hold Lucy, I felt that Lucy was important and loved and I can't wait to see what that relationship will be like in the future. Lucy has no birth grandparents to love on as she grows up but she has a Mammo and Pappo.
The last thing that I loved is that their names are Mammo and Pappo . Haha. Not Grandma and Grandpa. Even though they are Ivy's grandparents too, I feel like they are set apart a little bit. She has two women that she loves to call Grandma and two amazing men that she loves to call Grandpa. Now she has two more people called Mammo and Pappo.
We went away loving how much our little girl was loved. She had a great day! Thank you Mammo and Pappo for a wonderful visit.
P.S. Pictures shared with their permission. :) Getting $5 in her birthday card , plus $1 to grow on. Opening matching PJ's for Christmas. ALL of the Disney princess barbies. (she has played with them non stop ever since!) Lucy getting her baby Snow White for Christmas Watching the seals Mammo explaining to Ivy Mammo and Pappo with Ivy Building a sand castle with Auntie Jennisah Getting ready to blow out the candles on her cake. 6 candles for 1 to grow on. Ivy in her new PJ's with Aunt Jennisah Getting ready to say goodbye after a wonderful day.
Here is another cute gift idea that my friend Kayce gave me. I made them after I sent packages to all the grandparents. Sorry rents,maybe next year! I painted Ivy's hand and had her place it on the Christmas bulb. The fingers became snowmen when I used a sharpie and drew on the scarfs and hats. She signed her name at the bottom. It comes with this poem: These aren't just 5 snowmen
Have you ever been running so hard that when you finally stop and listen to what the Lord is telling you, you are so ashamed and upset with yourself and feel so undeserving of His grace and mercy in your life? Well I do. I have been running for almost 2 weeks now.
Let me start by stating what I know about myself. I love to have a clean home, I like to cook, snuggle with my girls, take care of them when they are sick (they both have bad colds), check things off my to do list, I am NOT as flexible as I would like to be, I like to be comfortable in my little family of four. Well, the Lord flat out showed me that my family was to host 2 foster girls for 13 days. I am still in it. 3 days to go and it has been hard, uncomfortable and messy. Don't get me wrong. I have planned some wonderful things for all of the girls, from trips to the park, going out to dinner, new coloring supplies, gingerbread houses, baking, riding bikes,etc. But my spirit has been bad. I started to turn to complaining to all of my friends, etc...(don't want to rehash all of my complaining). Today I woke up early and although I have spent time with the Lord this week (in the midst of breaking up girl fights) I really spent time with Him and I feel like such a failure. I have shown these girls love, but I know I could have shown them so much more, I have shown them some symbol of patience but I could have been WAY more patient, I could have given more kisses and hugs, could have spent more time individually with each of them.
I think of bringing my gift to the alter, my gift of taking in 2 foster girls for 2 weeks and by my complaining spirit the Lord has thrown my sacrifice given to Him into the fire. It is burnt ashes to Him. Failure again. I wish I was different! I should be able to handle these situations from the Lord alot differently than I have. Here's another day, another chance to make a difference for the Lord and in 2 little girls lives.
My friend Kayce had a great idea from a blog today. Here is where I was going to insert the blog address but now I can't find which blog I used. Anyway, here are two blogs that you would LOVE! www.fingerprintsonthefridge.com and www.brownpaper--packages.blogspot.com I found it on one of those two. Sorry! Oh well, you will have fun browsing to find it!
All I did was photo copy her project and frame it in an antique frame that I had. She had used her home computer to copy the definition on burlap!
I have been really excited to plan my menu this year for Thanksgiving. I think I narrowed it down (although I think I need to make something a little sweet or light...any ideas?) Here is what I decided:
Very Best Sweet Potatoes (found at Tasty Kitchen)
Garlic Parmesan Green Beans (found at Tasty Kitchen)
Pumpkin Butter Gooey Cake
Then I brought alot of my favorite cook books to bed with me last night to find recipes for the leftover turkey so that we don't overload on turkey sandwhiches....even though I think Matt would kind of like that, I don't want to throw anything away. I am hoping to freeze or use 12 cups of leftover turkey.
Here is what I have planned:
Paula Deen's Turkey and Stuffing Casserole ( I am sure you can find it on Foodnetwork.com, I am using "Paula Deen Celebrates"
Turkey Shepard's Pie (Katie Lee Joel.... I have her website on the right of my blog)
Turkey Corn Chowder (from my Grandma Kitty's cook book. I will have to post this recipe at some point.)
Think on these recipes because you might be going to someone else's house where they give you some leftovers to take home. What are you guys making? Let me know!
Ok. Before we get any further into the holiday season, I have to share with you my favorite Thanksgiving/Fall dessert. It is from Paula Deen and it is our absolute favorite! Matt doesn't even want pumpkin pie anymore because this out does it for sure. I thought I would share the recipe. TRY IT! You will thank me for sure. It is Paula's pumpkin version of her famous gooey butter cakes.
Pumpkin Butter Gooey Cake
1 18.25-oz. box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter,melted
1 8oz packaged cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 16oz. box confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup (1 sick) melted butter
15 oz. can of pumpkin pie filling
preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 13x9x2 in. baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg and butter and mix well. Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside. Still using the electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth, add eggs and vanilla. Dump in confectioner's sugar and beat well. Reduce speed and add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 40-50 minutes. You want the center to be a little gooey, so don't bake it past the point. (If I see the bottom cake looks done, I take it out. You want the top to be jiggly.)
Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely. Cut into squares and don't forget to top with whip cream.
Even Paula says that you will never want pumpkin pie again! Tell me what you think if you try it! Enjoy!
OK....God is so amazing! He knits events together more fine tuned than any instrument. This was one of those times. I still had anxiety over a family member coming to get Lucy. I knew that DCFS was in the process of asking the grandparents, anunts and uncles....anyone related if they wanted to adopt the baby. So far everyone had turned DCFS down. (blood family or anyone who has a sibling has 1st priority before us).
On the flip side, the social worker is supposed to take a picture of the baby in the hospital to have on record. In the rush of it being 5pm they forgot to do it and asked us to send them a picture. Matt sent it to them.
What we didn't know was there was a single woman who was a lawyer in the LA area who had adopted Lucy's half brother. Turns out it wasn't one of Lucy's aunts that had adopted the last sibling at all! He was 14 months old. She had priority over us to adopt Lucy. Here she was, single with a 14 month old. She was stressing out because (like we have thought) if she didn't take the baby, what kind of family would get her but yet she didn't think that she could have handled 2 at the time.
They forwarded her the picture that Matt had sent and Matt's name was on it. (Which normally would have made us mad because that all is supposed to be confidential). She also saw that her old social worker's name was on the email so she called them and said, "What can you tell me about the Elliott family?" when they had said that we had a baby taken from us (that had happened to her too) so she said that she would not take the baby because she really wanted us to adopt her. She gave them her phone number for us to be able to call her. When I did she was so sweet. She told me all the information she knew on Lucy's birthfamily and she said, "I don't want to give you false hope but I had the easiest adoption and I think yours will be too."
To say that I was excited after talking to her was an understatment. She said that all she wanted was for her son to know Lucy. We have had dinner with her since. She always comes with a present for Lucy and is so sweet.
So to recap. God had DCFS forget to take a picture of the baby so that we had to send it so that it would be forwarded to Lucy's half siblings mom with our name on it and she recognized that we had used the same agency as her, we both had a bond of losing little girls and she wanted to do anything she could to help us adopt Lucy. I couldn't even dream it better than this.
Although it wasn't as smooth as "L" had said it would be, I had hope. I thanked God, He didn't need to give me such reasurance but He gave me enough that I had peace to give some love to this little peanut , faithfully praying that God would allow me to be her mom.
Sorry that this had taken me so long! I am going to get better and get this story over with! Haha. It is hard with a 14 month old climbing on me and Ivy wanting me to brush her doll's hair. Getting back in the swing of things with school, grades due, AWANA verses to learn, Cubbie patches to sew on....yada yada yada but I love to blog so I am commited to getting better. Believe me?
Ivy was REALLY excited to see us when we walked in the door with the baby. Hollie said that she fell apart when she picked her up from Wendy's. I had told her Hollie was going to get her but ,again, in her little 3 year old mind she thought that when we didn't pick her up was because we were adopting someone else and so we weren't coming back to get her. KILL ME! I HATED that she felt that way and I reassured her every chance that I could. We never told her that we were going to adopt this baby or this baby would be her sister. We told her we would pray about it and ask God if she could stay. The only thing that made me feel better was knowing that she would forget all about that someday.
I was fighting the urge to know more about this supposed aunt that had adopted the last baby and it made me not want to give my whole heart to this baby. I just looked at her wondering if she was going to stay. If she did stay, I didn't want to regret not having moments with her but if she left, I kind of had a wall up. I was willing to do either. I could feel my weariness setting in. Weariness with all these kids coming through our house, weariness in watching Ivy, the toll on Matt and I. I had to deal with some things at work where God was showing me some sin in my life and I was dealing with that...and I was tired. This was going to be the year of just hanging on. But... along the way God gave me things that encouraged my heart so much and one of the biggest ones helped me bond more with Lucy. "L." entered the picture. She shed light on our situation with Lucy and gave us major hope that she would be ours. Only God could have orchastrated the next events taking place. It was a huge reminder that God is so awesome that we couldn't even dream up the events like He had them playing out.
The Ryman is where they had the Opry until they could fix the flood damage at the Grand Ol Opry. The store Lulu. I wanted to get something for Lucy but it was too expensive. Kelli score her a little bag that said Lulu though. Painting treasure boxes. Christ Communtiy Church in Franklin. Alot of Christian singers attend there, like Steven Curtis Chapman. His dauther's funeral was held here. Lucy pickin' at the dinner table. Crazy Ben Iverson Ivy and Karli Ivy went to gymnastics with Karli. Emily Chapman Richards (Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter) is the DIL to the owner's. Jon and Kelli's house. My home for 8 days. relay races in the backyard Kelli introducing Lulu to Daisy I had such a great time in Tennessee. It was so great to spend so much time with my friend Kelli and seeing her beautiful town. I enjoyed church, getting to know her friends, sight seeing, eating and relaxing. Great memories!