Miss Bee Turns Two

Two years of life on the tenth.
Two years in our home on the twenty second.
Baylee brings such joy, spunk, laughter and attitude into our home. Her personality is huge. 
Irish she is; the tempers and hilarious meltdowns are a testament to her genetics. 
For the first few months, many asked if they missed my pregnancy. Now they say how much Miss Bee looks like her Daddy. Truth be told, she really could pass for our own homegrown little princess. 
Baylee has smarts that are beyond her years and has the uncanny ability to repeat whatever you say to her...whether it be one time or said multiple times, she'll repeat it. 
Thanks to her Uncle Ryan; his punishment still remains unclear for teaching her such words; she now blurts out 'buttface' like it's her favorite toy or friend. It's said all the time and usually when in front of strangers or people we'd like to keep the perception that we got it all together. Having older sisters and a brother, this innocent little one has gained many phrases and verbiage we'd love to eliminate. 
"Not yours!"
"Go away!"
"Stop it. Go away."
"What doing?"
"Share." (usually states this after she made a bad choice or didn't share herself.)
And the potentially annoying question..."What's dat?" (What's that?)

{ Look a-likes. }

Some is too cute to correct...
"Hi. I'm Baylee." (says to the deer as they pass through our yard)
"Nokey Nokey" (Okey Dokey)
"I'm okay. You okay?"
"I love it!" (says repeatedly usually after eating or playing with a toy)
"I ya' ya' too." (I love you too.)
"See ya' later. Al-gator."
Baylee has recently learned how to sing 'Happy Birthday' to herself which is quite adorable.
This training from older siblings also comes with attention she loves to receive. Baby of the family she definitely is; girl gets her way and held all the time. 
Sorry little princess, things will be changing now that you're officially two. 

That's A Wrap: 2017 Top Ten

In attempts to close up the year 2017, my first thought is to shut the door and not look back. 
It's been rough. 
But, as all emails are signed and I encourage myself to find these daily, come the blessings that have become the backbone to the year holding many of us upright. 
Tim brought to my attention some of the highlights from the year, which for many would knock them over and never want to hit replay again. I know how we're still standing,
but honestly, the year it's been should have destroyed us. 
It is solely by faith and our Abba Daddy Himself that has protected us under His wings, given rest when needed, held us up at the right moments, and given us nourishment before our bodies gave out, that we are here as a family at the end of 2017. 
For that, I am thankful and beyond blessed to be wrapping up this year with smiles,
tears and anticipation for the year to come. 
As I reflect over the past 365 days, I see the good; I see the bad. I remember the wins and the massive fails. The bright spots that kept me going to the next day. And even the non-important things that stood out too.
To all those who have been the crutch under my arm when I had no strength to move; thank you. For the prayers spoken when none of us had any voice to speak; thank you. To those who made us laugh, cleaned our house, watched our babies and picked up the pieces; thank you.
It took a village this year to get to the end. 
Here are a few of the top ten favorites; good & bad, along with memories from 2017. 

Top Ten Words That Best Describe 2017:
1. Joy
2. Goodness
3. Monumental
4. Grief
5. Challenged
6. Astonishment
7. Disappointment
8. Bi-Polar Emotions
9. Refreshment
10. Stillness

Top Ten Kids' Memories:
1. Charlie's basketball team experiences; 3 on 3, LYS, Gritworks
2. Myriam learning how to ride a bike
3. Addi started wearing make-up
4. Baylee learning all her ABC's and numbers
5. Disneyland trip with Addi & Daddy
6. Addi started attending Ebenezer leaving no kids to homeschool for Mommy
7. Auntie dying
8. Charlie got his first gun
9. Addi got a car. Thanks Auntie. 
10. Disney Cruise & hotel swimming pools

Top Ten Dad & Mom Memories:
1. Costa Rica 
2. Breaking my toe so severely which forced me to defer my big canyon race
3. Air Force One tour
4. Small group & Bible Study friendships
5. Restructuring of our Elements family
6. Cambodia trip with Tim's Dad
7. Listening to Francis Chan
8. Summer motorcycle trip with the guys
9. KOA Camping trip with our family
10. Being present to walk my sister Home to Glory; an extremely bittersweet moment

Top Ten Pinterest Success & Fails:
1. Bailey's Chocolate Mousse - Win HERE
2. Sausage & Pepper Spaghetti Squash Casserole - Fail HERE
3. Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup - Win HERE
4. Hinds Feet on High Places - Best Read Ever; Win HERE
5. Easy Cinnamon Rolls - First time ever baking these & it was a Win! HERE
6. Skinny Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins - Kid Win HERE
7. Sweet Potato Turkey Soup - Jury's still out on this one. HERE
8. My Little Pony Cupcake Cake - Good Attempt
9. Philly Cheese Steak Sliders - Win HERE
10. Christmas Potpourri Printable Gift Tags - Teacher Win HERE

Top Ten Blog Posts:
1. The Last Time I Held Her Hand - with 2552 hits HERE
2. Her Words; Her Story HERE
3. 150 Times of Intentional Asking HERE
4. She's Finally Ours HERE
5. The Realities of Grief HERE
6. Tissues on the Dragon Boat HERE
7. 4 Gals, 3 Floaties, & A Few Pina Colada's HERE
8. These Four Words HERE
9. Sweet Hour of Prayer HERE
10. My Tribute: Daughter, Sister, Friend HERE

Happy New Year's Eve.
I welcome you, 2018, with great excitement.

Merry & Bright

{ Merry Christmas 2017... }
Picture snapped in realtime chaos, illness, meltdowns, emotional breakdowns & cheer.

What's Going On?

Well, I was not expecting the wave of grief that slapped me across the face on Thanksgiving. Mom had the table set up days before the meal was even in the oven having everyone sitting just so. What she didn't take into account was that dinner was served during Baylee's nap time leaving an open seat at the table empty. Dad said "Amen." We all looked up, and in unison, our eyes fell to the empty plate and 
seat that instantly provoked tears. 
There is this oddly strange feeling of tug-of-war between joy and sadness. The bi-polar opposite of having no words, no measurement to explain the longing I have for my sweet sister and in the same moment experiencing overwhelming joy knowing she's free of pain and disease. I would, simply put, explain my condition as being an, at most times, hot mess! 
Thanks to the glass of wine it took the edge off and allowed me to relax some with the family. 
No guarantees for Christmas on having my crap together. 

We celebrated Myriam's sixth birthday with a Pinterest attempted Pony Cupcake Cake! Oh, she loved it! Can't say Addi and I nailed it, but at least you knew what it was suppose to be. Baylee helped herself to the leftovers the next day as we set up Christmas lights outside. She obviously enjoyed the treat as did Myriam sneaking many herself.

4 Gals, 3 Floaties, & A Few Pina Colada's

Ladies only boys. 
Yep, that means husbands, it's time to shine while the wives and eldest daughter take to the beaches and take a dive. 
A trip that has been postponed and rescheduled many a times in attempt to get all the sisters on board; to have our health well enough to withstand travel. 
My sister never made it to our much talked about girls trip. The location changed many times over to accommodate her failing health. With plenty of pushing, nudging and talking ourselves into going, we finally took this trip that has been in the works for almost two years. 
Mom, my sister-in-law Lindsay, Addison and I flew out last week to Kona, Hawaii, where we remembered, laughed, cried and relished in the presence of each other. 
It felt wrong to not have Traci with us; the process of grief that ebbs and flows much like the waves that crashed on the shoreline. A different memory with every wave; the lasting pink in the sunsets that spoke to the legacy left behind. 

{ Toting. }

I had the privilege to hear Francis Chan speak at the University of the Nations (YWAM Kona) the night we arrived. My girlfriend, Catherine, picked me up while the other three found dinner on the Kona strip. The anxiousness of doing this trip without my sister slowly eased as the worship began in the open air auditorium filled with all ages. I could sense God calm the longings that torment and tease my heart to hear or touch my sweet sister. This opportunity to be refreshed in worship and learn from Chan, was the perfect way to begin this girls trip. 

{ Loved these moments. }

A Sweet Six Years Old

{ two weeks old. }

{ three months old. }

Hard to believe our middle Princess is turning six today. 
I feel like once you need two hands to show people how old you are, it starts the countdown to high school, college and moving out. I see our Myriam's life whisk by now that she needs an extra thumb to show us her age. Her looks have changed overnight from our little girl to grown child that thinks she's already a teen. 
How did this happen? 
It was just yesterday we drove her birth parents to the hospital and anticipated her birth. It was just yesterday we brought her home and introduced her to the rest of our family. It feels like just yesterday that we celebrated her first birthday. 
Reality tells me time has not stopped and Myriam indeed is celebrating her 
sixth birthday whether I like it or not. 

Adoption Day Celebrations

We've waited for this day to come for many months; being told it was going to happen back in early spring, then June and after that, we stopped guessing when we'd actually get a court date. 
In all the waiting, I went through two Adoption Day shirts and finally decided to make the summer top work for the raining day we had this week regardless if it was too small or cold. I was not going to give any reason to push back our court date and refused to get another picture perfect shirt made. As it was, all the adorable and poised Pinterest photos failed because we have entered the realm of terrible, busy two's that don't work well for those "sit still" smiles.

Distraction number one: Stairs. 
Distraction number two: Fall Back time change has the Little's waking up at
5am making the 9 o'clock hour almost nap time.
Distraction number three: Mommy asked me too and that prompts an
immediate opposite response from toddlers.

I thought taking some pictures before the court room would solve some of these issues, but clearly this was all too much to ask. I have to laugh looking at this picture because Myriam, out of the kindness and helpful hands she has, offered to hold the sign for Baylee who was adamantly against such a thing resulting in what now looks like Myriam being the child adopted from foster care.