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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12th But Not Last: December Thoughts

I love the month of December for many reasons. 
I cherish all the family gatherings; the sense of belonging and togetherness. 
Even at the Element's work party, I felt like I was chilling with our extended family and I look forward to that special time chatting with as many as I can. Hearing about Anita's writing adventures, Cheri's expecting horse, Jennifer's boys and Doug's downtown apartment remodels makes me feel like I'm the background team member. I love knowing the accounting girls see me as more than just Tim's wife, but as a friend. Our Elements family has grown so much this year and it was my pleasure to introduce the better halves of many to other team players. 
Ever since we sold the salon , this has been the one and only thing I miss most.
The people. The relationships. The extended family.
 I still have contact with many of our stylists and I'm grateful for those amazing women as well. Family is more than just blood or those who married into a name.
Family to me, are those who share life together and those at the Windmill and past work adventures are just that: family.

Another reason I love December is the reflection and focus it brings to the manger. There would be no Christmas, no salvation or hope without Baby Jesus. There is immense pressure in society to keep up with the latest and greatest; to make us think we never will have enough. This entire month we are shelving the iPad in honor of Advent and Baby Jesus. There are a few in our home who resemble a two-year old having a temper tantrum when the words, "No iPad," are shuttered. Sometimes stripping the most wanted to make aware of the most important is needed. I would rather our family spend time pondering the birth of Jesus Christ and give Him our best as He always offers more then
we need daily.
The last few months has brought much fear revolving around health. I myself, find every headache or pain to make me question whether I should call the doctor or leave it alone. I've called many times reassuring myself that all precautionary tests are up to date and current. I try to pray for the worry to go away but it seems it's answered with another diagnoses. Am I having an anxiety attack? Possibly. Lately it seems most things are out of control when it comes to our health.
But, I will reflect on the past year and the good it has brought our family, the closer bonds and expressions of gratitude's rather then the negative…at least I'll try.

The sweetest reason I love December is simply because of ALL the treats!
My goodness they come in waves of chocolate truffles to sugar cookies and delicious pies and pastries found at the local bakery. If you haven't made your way downtown to The Lynden Dutch Bakery you should. They have four new scones which are dutch-bred and delicious. Yes, I've tasted and approve them all too.
Today the kids delivered another week of Lynden Tribune's to all 108 homes. Last week Addison snuck a Christmas card in the papers and was gifted with cards, tips and Russel Stover's truffles. Christmas is a time to celebrate, reflect, share and tell others
"Thank You."
These too, are treats for our family.
My board of faces in the salon is needing an update and all the cards being sent to us are eagerly awaiting their new placement for the year. My Love doesn't understand the importance of a card and quite frankly thinks it's silly. Me? I've always known my mom to do Christmas cards and I've always loved seeing and reading about the families
near and far to us.

The kids have about ten days left before Christmas break and if the older two don't strangle, trip or chase the other out of the house, then I've done my job well. I have even gone to the extreme of tempting to cancel Christmas if the "normal" sibling fighting doesn't stop. Actually, what I should do is buy each of them a big red button and every time they want to push the other over the edge they just push the button instead of egos and emotions. I should work on this and bring it to the Shark Tank. Who needs a demonstration when they could just watch and listen to a normal day here with Addi and Charlie? I just tell myself they love each other. Right? This I would not classify as a treat.

December is known to not be such a happy time for my Dad, but I'm praying as we wait for more test results from surgery and procedures that God will grant us more reasons to celebrate then to fear. Until then, I will continue my E2 Fitness workouts so I can overindulge in the treats and party meals of this rich, glorious season.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men 
on whom his favor rest."  Luke 2:14

Friday, December 5, 2014

Quality Control with Gingerbreads

Day four of our countdown to Christmas: Make Gingerbread Houses!
The kids love making these sugar-themed houses and usually eat the makings before the final project is completed. At least that's how it goes for the shortest in the family. With Auntie's help, the frosting was perfectly placed and some laughter was had. Charlie choose the choo-choo and Addi created a crowd-pleasing home. Myriam…
Well, she didn't make it past the tube of frosting and ate the candies before the grout was even dry. 
So, now were left with a few masterpieces until little fingers and curiosities pick and peel all the color and walls off the gingerbread beauties. 

{ Charlie's quick, minimal design so he could start eating the leftovers. Well played. }

{ I see you! }


{ Sorry for the fancy finger. I'm blaming this one on Auntie and the frosting. }

{ Our quality control, detailed child. }

{ Perfection comes with age…excellent, great job, needs some work. }

Check out how much the kids have grown by viewing 
the first "broersma five" gingerbread post:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Connection Worth Happening

Anyone that has ever used our facilities knows to watch their backside after flushing as our "system" is known for burping and causing one to panic after a loaded dumb gives way to a possible fake flush.
Each year our septic has gotten worse and worse which finally, after seven years of toilet burps, caused us to make the connection happen. 
This was no easy decision as it would have us completely tearing up our front yard. There's really no good time for that to happen. Being that the city lines are 22 feet down, we feared the worse. Thankfully, we (Ray, the guy with the master skills on the tractor) only had to dig 12 feet deep without disturbing our driveway. 
It started with Jose cutting the many-years-old rhododendron down and then the Holly tree right next to it. Charlie was most upset as the Rhodie was known as the climbing tree or the "Ninjago" tree for him and the neighbor boys. Perfect timing for the Holly tree to come down as it gave many of us Christmas accents throughout our homes both inside and outside. 

After Jose managed to locate sprinkler lines and uproot the trees, Ray did his thing and made some massively large dirt piles in a flash. 
The kids loved watching this happen through bedroom windows and standing in awe of the depth of the hole dug. Myriam was barking orders for the guys to leave Mommy's plants alone as she watched them dig each one up. She received many laughs that day…
With just a few hours of no water to make the city connection, we were back and running…darn, had to do laundry again. Although, that too has been a challenge as our dryer of twelve years finally decided to be done with us making the spare bedroom look like a drying room filled with racks and hangers everywhere. 
We have a huge appreciation for non-crunchy underwear now that we've had line-dried skivvies for a few weeks!

{The connection at the house after the tanks were destroyed and filled in.}

{Holly for the taking. }

{Twelve feet down sure makes a mess.}

Oh no. 
Oh yes. That's a faucet turned on with no running water. 
Sunday morning we woke to this. 
The main water line was exposed in our frigid, northeastern temperatures which gave us frozen pipe lines and no running water. Thankfully, we were spared a water damage by only having the outside pipeline freeze and nothing inside bursting with frozen glee. After an hour of some heat gun usage and some more work on the tractor covering up the water line, we were back in running business. 
A baby wipe shower can only do so much…

And, why not make more mess to match the front yard. Tim decided to have Jose and his fast working crew take down a cedar and evergreen too! I was so busy making dinner for a work party that Jackie and I didn't even notice there was this HUGE tree down in the back yard. 
Charlie is LOVING the dirt mess creating BMX bike jumps and tracking in mud everywhere. 
This will be my life until April. 
Our spring project list has grown by a mile over the past week, but that doesn't even worry me a bit.
My toilets are flushing, there's no burping noises or bubbles to clean up and the only worries about having a fake flush is if you really did plug the joy ride to the ocean. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Three & Counting

It's time to CeLeBrAtE!
We asked Myriam what kind of party she wanted this year and she was quick to tell us she wanted a princess party with crowns. Even though she's only three, Myriam knows exactly what she wants!
Every parent has said it at least once if not multiple times over in the younger years of their children: 
I can't believe she's this old already?!!!We're all guilty of saying and thinking it. Truth is, Tim and I really can't believe Myriam is three already. 
God has been more than gracious to us in bringing us pure JOY. 
Our little Puerto Rican has taught us to laugh in the midst of big messes... 
or try this one too…
Stop and snuggle at any moment, squeeze super tight when someone needs a hug and to always say "I love you" or "Have a nice day!"
As you can read and see, Myriam has made up for the older kids NEVER removing their diapers and experimenting with brown, stinky substances. Yes, even as recent as Saturday night did we have to put our hazmat suits on to clean up multiple "pop a squats" as our precious young one got the runs without a diaper on ALL over her room. After a solid hour of cleaning and loads of sanitizing laundry, Tim and I were still able to laugh. She has a way of doing that. Making people laugh. 
One of my favorite lines lately is, "Mom, I got a poblem…I got a wedgey." Hilarious.
Unfortunately, today Myriam is fighting a fever which makes her calm and clingy. Tis' the season.
Thank you Jesus for hand picking this child for our family. Myriam Judith has made our family feel more complete and has packed many laughs in her short three years here with us. She is the definition of joy. We will forever be blessed because she is a Broersma. 
Happy Birthday sweet girl!

 { Her cross eye trick with the crown had us rolling in laughter! }

 { Happy Birthday to you…}

 { Every princess needs to ballerina spin with crown and dress present. }

{ Birthday jammies from big brother. Goof balls. }

 { Sweet moments with Great Grandpa Broersma. Most days he struggles to remember who we are, but when approached by a princess, Grandpa can't resist the lesson about toddler computers. }

{ I'm not sure which is cuter: 
Myriam as a rock star or Uncle Kari wearing his pretty pink crown! }

{ Addi bought her own gift for Myriam this year and was proud to
give it to her little sister. }

Our goal for this next year…
Transitioning from diapers to big girl undies and putting EVERYTHING in the potty!

{ Our brown eyed girl }

( Black & white photo credits go to the talented, amazing Jodi from... )

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Thank You For Bringing Me Home."

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in my prayer chair reading early in the morning before the pitter patter of little feet woke up. It was quickly after I settled in with my cup of coffee, I heard the knocking on a door with a desperate, "Mommy I'm starving!" being yelled from Myriam's room. It's been her thing lately to want breakfast the moment she opens her eyes. But, for some reason, after I snuggled her down the hallway to my chair she forgot about how hungry she was and instead, nestled her way into my lap with hugs and many kisses for Mommy. 
It was then she softly whispered to me as she was looking straight into my heart and said, 
"Thank you for bringing me home."

Three years ago, Tim and I had just met our birth parents at the local McDonald's with our agency worker making notes and assisting in papers being exchanged. It wasn't even a month later Myriam was making her way into this world. We had managed to make it to two doctor's appointments with Meranda which was a great way for me to connect and get to know our birth mom a little bit more. We spent many nights in the water front hotel for those "just in case" moments thinking that night was going to be it. Many phone calls were exchanged and pictures shared with what and how our home looked like and what we had already purchased for Myriam. On the night of the 23rd, Tim and I picked up Willie and Meranda to drive them to the hospital. 
I cannot tell you how blessed we are to have had that exchange of conversation and willingness to have us participate in the birth of our daughter. Willie was giving us hourly updates, sometimes sooner, as we attempted to settle into the two waiting room areas. At midnight we decided to go back to the hotel to shower and get a short nap before the main event happened. I'm so thankful for the staff that allowed us the space and understood the situation as Willie consumed over 30 cups of coffee in the hours we spent waiting for Myriam to arrive. 
On Thanksgiving morning, I was not able to sit anymore which led me to walk up and down the halls finally ending up right outside the hospital room Meranda was in when I heard the sweet, welcoming cries of our daughter. With my ear pressed against the door, it quickly flung open as Willie said, "She's here!" I instantly gave him a huge hug and he then found Tim and shook hands. It may seem like an odd moment to some, but there is nothing that can take those precious moments away from our memory.
After three hours of signing papers and sending text messages to family, Tim and I were able to meet our brown eyed daughter. 
It was surreal. 
There was a quiet pause with damp eyes when the nurse placed her in my arms. 
We had prayed for this child and she was finally here.

{ Sweet introductions. }

Wanting to give the respected space for our birth parents, we decided that night to go to our friends for dinner who had prepared a traditional Thanksgiving meal. ( We had seen the hospital option earlier and were VERY thankful for this homemade meal! ) Even though we were only 15 minutes from the hospital, it was extremely hard for me to leave. I managed to put my game face on for about an hour then had to get back to the hospital. That night, we got some pictures with our birth parents and spent a little more time with Myriam before heading to the hotel for much needed rest. 
Friday morning we woke up feeling refreshed and prepared for what was ahead for that day. It's hard to know exactly what emotions you need to be ready for going into an adoption; international or domestic. I had prayed for this moment, but never knew what it was going to look like until the moment itself arrived. 
The time was for Meranda and Willie to say goodbye. 
We found our birth mother in the nursery swaying her child as she whispered sweet things into her ears. There were kisses on the cheeks, tightly pressed hugs and more sweet words spoken to Myriam. Our social worker had pulled me into view of the nursery door window so I could have this image forever pressed into my memory. 
The tears started to flow. 
My heart was melting for our new daughter, but breaking for this young mother.
Meranda gently placed Myriam into her bassinet as
she had one last touch and kiss on the cheek. 
Then, she turned and walked away. 
It was an immediate run down of what I needed to make sure Myriam was doing; it was the only thing Meranda had known her to do so I listened intently with
promises of making sure we would care for her. 
Then, she turned and walked away. 
I had to stop her. I embraced Meranda and thanked her for the gift she had
forever given us. 
Her daughter. Now ours. 
Tim and I stood still in the hallway outside the nursery in attempts to gather and process what we just experienced. I'm not sure how long we stood there, but all the nurses and staff understood the intensity of the moment and gave us the space needed. Once we gathered ourselves we immediately rushed back into the nursery to reassure our daughter that she was loved, accepted and safe in our arms.
In the state of Washington, a birth mother has 48 hours to reverse her decision. In our case, we had four days to receive clearance to go home due to the holiday and weekend. It was the longest weekend especially since we were not allowed to spend the night with our daughter and had to stay in our storage closest. Yep. It was a storage room with a muggy towel steamer, un-used equipment, a rocking chair and few other sometimes needed items for the nurses. We were not allowed to take Myriam out of the nursery and were told not to bring visitors in our storage room. Thanks to an amazingly understanding nurse, Judy, who pulled some strings, we were able to wheel Myriam across the hallway to an empty room so the kids could meet their baby sister.
Mom and Dad drove down Saturday morning with my sister and kids so we could introduce our baby girl to the family. It was overwhelming to sit as a family of five as the kids "ooed" and "awed" over their baby sister. God had worked over many months to make that moment happen for us. Our community supported us through multiple garage sales, bake sales and countless prayers. Our church and friends were incredibly gracious serving us meals after we came home and giving
us the knowledge we needed as a new family of five.
Monday morning we had papers signed and notarized from our
lawyer stating we could go home.
Our 48 hours had passed and we were cleared to drive the three hours north to go home.
As we were driving out of the parking lot, I turned around to see our oldest and youngest daughters safely buckled in with tears welling up from contentment, pride and pure joy.
( Addison decided to stay with us until we went home Monday. Thank you to Grandma Judy and Auntie Chris who took her to tea on Saturday to fill in the hours NOT spent in the storage room. The nurses loved watching the bond
instantly become real for the two sisters. )
I'm not sure I can explain what was going on in my heart at that moment.
I had no stretch marks to prove of a pregnancy, no surgery pains from C-sections, I was wearing my jeans, had some abs and
was wearing a normal bra with no double D's to speak of.
But, I did have a newborn in my backseat, a diaper bag full of pre-mixed formula thanks to nurse Judy who stuffed our bags full of binkies, formula and other baby needs and had the emotions that matched a hormonal pregnant mommy. Walking into our house was so much different than the last two babies.

November 24th our feisty, extremely curious, brown-eyed baby girl was born.
December 23rd our family name grew by one.

{ First photo as a family of five. }

Just last week, another family was able to share their last name and forever welcome their daughter into their family. Adoption is not unfamiliar to our culture. Jesus adopted us into His Heavenly family by shedding blood on the cross.
Jesus wants all the little children to come to Him.
It breaks my heart to hear of kids without arms to snuggle them, to safely tuck them into warm beds and to say their goodnight prayers before dreaming of something better. My eyes have now seen how the "system" works for and against families. It's complete torment to hear of babies being transferred from home to home.
Hearing of another family growing from the blessing of adoption, whether it be international, domestic or through the foster system is a joyous occasion.

{ The Oakley's & Tess at the courthouse with dried ink stating she's theirs!
Her three older brothers welcome her joyously into their family. }

But hear me out.
Our little blessing who will be three in a week, could not have brought us such joy unless there was a mother who had so much love to know enough to say yes to our family profile and the process of adoption. I saw firsthand what saying goodbye to a child does to a mother. I have heard her cries over the phone as Myriam says, "I love you Miss Meranda."
Our gift of adoption could not have been possible without the selfless
gift from our birth parents.
As we focus on adoption this month, let us not forget who brought these children into the world. The story may not be pretty; it may not have been told yet; open or closed, the child came from a mother who carried a baby for nine months,
gave birth and said goodbye.
Our story may still be ongoing and the limited communication we have is welcomed. My heart is still twisted over facts and I pray God has everyone in
His hands protecting little hearts in this messy life.
But, shining brighter then heart breaking stories of kids not yet matched with their forever families, is a bright almost three year old girl
who loves her mommy and daddy, her Addi and her Charlie.
Myriam Judith is home.
She has given us laughing wrinkles for a lifetime to remind us to laugh when it's messy, smile while dancing, snuggle because you love someone and chase because her legs need to run. God has big plans for our always moving, always busy, always hugging and singing daughter. I see myself in her eyes, her smile and as some say her nose too,
but will always see Meranda as well.
I will never know what she whispered in her ear as she laid her in her nursery crib, but will always be grateful for the enormous gift she left wrapped in her perfectly snug blanket.

"Thank you for bringing me home."

Friday, October 31, 2014

October Photo Recap

 { Pumpkin Carving Family Party at the Gerlach's! }

Myriam LOVED to pull the ooey gooey parts out of the pumpkin. After she worked through a royal temper tantrum for who knows what reason, she managed to color a pumpkin then have daddy help crave out a heart. Charlie did his own pumpkin and would rather keep his hands out of the slim. Addi didn't carve a pumpkin, but assisted in Teija's orange master piece. 

 { Had a Friday night date with Mickey. Grant's Burger's then The Sound of Music! }

{ We as a family enjoy Melissa's stress as she unwinds baking for us. }

{Fall desserts & harvest make the best treats. }

 { Pumpkins are beginning to rot and signs of hibernation are showing up
throughout the yard. }

{ Charlie's mind has finally "clicked" and he is doing great reading
CVC words and little books. }

Both kids are doing amazing with their campus classes and have been quite the little writers! Charlie has now written four books and Addi writes stories daily. Myriam now has her own school desk which helps aid in the distraction during study time. She's busy matching colored clothes pins to colored paint samples and attempting to write herself! Charlie has completed one work book and is 8 lessons away from finishing his math book. Amazing!

 { Addison has been challenged a bit in math with division and learning
how to find the area of a shape. }

{ Nothing beats a warm meal, open oven door and smells of home to remind you of fall. }

{ 3rd lost tooth. Pull, twist and done. What a champ! }

After nine years of no costumes or attendance at the NCCTK Harvest Carnival, Mommy caved and was suckered into buying ridiculously expensive outfits that cost more than $5 or FREE. The kicker was the joy of laughter heard throughout the house as the kids were playing around in the new outfits all afternoon. Myriam and Charlie are spider friends and Addi is a sweet 50's gal pulling it off with sass and attitude. The candy may be tossed during the night or secretly placed in an adult only hide-out but either way…I still can't believe I caved! 

 { Who needs candy when there's COTTON CANDY! Myriam was still singing
songs at 9pm from the sugar high. }

 { Spider Cousins: Mason & Charlie }

 { Bringing some cheer to GiGi & Grandma Haak. }

We didn't end up with much candy at all, but the 10 mini brownies I ate today will hopefully be burned off at kick boxing and the post-Thriller Zumba in the morning. With our "Grateful" calendar hung up today, we are now ready to bring in a month of thankfulness during November.