Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our 3 year old and our 31 week old

I forgot to put this picture on the August update and I thought I'd better get a pregnancy shot in the mix just in case I don't get caught up before our little girl arrives.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

July and August

We took our family vacation in July.  It was truly a family vacation because J.J.'s parents, siblings, nieces, and nephew were all there with us.  We spent a nice cool week in the beautiful Colorado mountains.  Cool was a fabulous change of pace for me.  I have always been cold natured, but with the pregnancy I took a complete 180 and I've been hot even when it wasn't hot.  Well, July in Texas was hot!  We made the big announcement to J.J.'s family at the end of the trip since they were all together in once place.  I went ahead and called my parents just in case news started spreading and they heard things from someone other than us.  After vacation we had a few days at home then headed to coach's clinic.  J.J. was at classes/meetings during most of the daytime, so Xavier and I just hung out together.  We did too much shopping.  One of the dangers of living in a small town, for me at least, is that when you visit a larger town you feel compelled to squeeze as much shopping into a tiny window of time as possible.  Then we spent another week in our camper, but this time at a Camp Meeting.  Camp Meeting is always hard for me to explain, but it's basically a week of church services throughout the day with lots of visiting/eating in between.  We ran a concession stand in the evenings and helped my parents, who were co-directors, as much as possible.
That brings us to August.  J.J. goes back to work for all practical purposes in August because of football practice.  Thankfully it is not the 10-11 hour long days that fill our fall, but we still had to adjust to a new schedule.  August was fairly quiet.  We finally got to settle into the new house.  Xavier had his third birthday at the end of the month.  We woke him with birthday enthusiasm, but he is not always a rise-and-shine kid, so it took until breakfast for him to match our excitement.  He told me "No more 2!".  It's hard to believe we are now parenting a 3 year old.  Here are some pictures of our summer fun.
Giving Daddy some love

Ice cream everyday? Yes please!

Xavier catching his first fish

The music room at the children's science museum during coach's clinic

Happy 3rd Birthday!1

Thursday, October 4, 2012

June: News and Newness

I think the easiest way to do this might be a few big chunks at a time.  Here is the June overview.  We started the month with kids camp for a week and then teen camp the next week.  We actually weren't very involved with the younger kids, but we were co-directors for the teen week.  I taught a music class each morning and led music at the evening services.  J.J. was in charge of the paintball rec station.  In between all that we tried to keep everyone going in the right direction, focused on the right things, and doing the right jobs.  We've been blessed to fill this role for several years.  In the middle of camp I had an appointment that we had to keep low key at the time, but it pretty much changed our world.  I had taken a pregnancy test the week before and got a positive result!  I know! It was pretty much a shock to me too.  We made an appointment to see a doctor to have results confirmed.  We didn't want to wait too long, so we took time off during camp.  We also had to see a new doctor to get in so quickly because my regular doctor was on vacation.  All that aside the news was good.  Yes, I'm pregnant!  We've now made it 23 weeks and things seem to be going as normal as one could hope.  I'll try to fill in the blanks as I go.  We kept the news to ourselves for several more weeks because it was so much to take in and our history with pregnancy wasn't positive.  I was 7 weeks along when during camp when we found out.  After camp we began the process of moving.  Because J.J. is no longer pastoring we had to find a new place to live.  Our house had been provided by the church.  God opened a door and we bought a house from one of his co-workers who was moving.  We really wanted to get everything done before our scheduled vacation in July, so we ended up closing on a Thursday and moving the next day.  We still hadn't made our announcement and I was right in the middle of the yucky, sick-all-the-time stage of pregnancy, so I broke down and took a prescription so I could get through those days with some pretense of normal stomach function.  I was not one of the those people who never felt sick and (Praise the Lord!) I'm not one of those poor people who are sick all 9 months.  I did have a nice ~6 week stretch of nausea, a serious dislike of all smells, and at least once a day vomiting.  Food was not my friend. Thankfully our parents and a good friend pitched in and we got all the big stuff moved in one long day.  We ended up removing an entire window to get our couch out of the house!  I guess several years of comfortable reclining didn't make for good maneuvering through already tight doors.  The window was carefully put back and I think it looks better than when that day began.  So the end of June found us semi-settled in our new house, Xavier adjusting to all that newness, and J.J. and I adjusting to our new news.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Saying Good-bye to Summer (Break)

You know that feeling you get when you have put something off for so long and it seems so insurmountable that you just keep putting it off?  That is how I've felt about blogging through this summer.  Summer for us brings a big change in schedule.  J.J. is able to stay home so much of the time. We are outside more and obviously using the computer/TV less.  In fact, we shut off our TV service for almost the whole summer this year.  I got behind on blogging, life kept coming with more and more changes, and I just couldn't seem to get caught up.  Now we are just a few short hours from the official start of Fall (can I get a Hooray!!) and I'm finally sitting down to tackle something that used to be routine and relaxing.  I really hope blogging can become those things again, because, as you will learn in some hopefully soon coming subsequent posts, our lives have been full of blessings and blog worthy material these past few months.  For now I'll just say "Hey!".  I missed all your stories, struggles, and successes.  I hope I can truly get caught up with everyone.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our day in court (again)

Daddy and Xavier walking to the courthouse

Celebration dinner with our new "official" Texan
Yesterday we had Xavier's adoption refinalized.  It was a big contrast to the sober and nervous day that was our Russian court hearing.  Well, for starters, everyone spoke English. =)  We had a good attorney and she had taken care of all the legal requirements.  We just showed up, stated our situation, and the judge granted our petition to accept the Russian court's decision.  J.J. did give a brief testimony.  The judge also asked some informal questions because he was curious about the process.  Xavier did really well, but he wasn't thrilled about sitting still.  Just as the judge finished asking if we had any communication problems when we first arrived home Xavier starts yelling, "I need go potty!" as loud as he can.  And not just once.  Oh no, he yelled it over and over.  What can you do?  I just started laughing.  I knew it was a clever ploy to get down and walk, but his timing was impeccable.  He is obviously a very effective communicator!  We had a celebration lunch with my parents and our friend Andy.  It was a nice day and a big relief to check one more thing off the post-adoption to-do list.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gotcha Day Adventure Year 1

Thursday marks one year since they placed our son in our arms and we became a family.  We decided to celebrate each year by doing a family activity together.  This year we went to the zoo.  Yes, we went a few days early.  Camps start next week and even with school being out for the summer the level of activity at our house is pretty high.  Getting ready to move, getting ready for camp, summer athletic workouts, etc.  We already needed to visit a bigger town to get concession supplies, so we just made the zoo part of the excursion.  The camera battery died about a third of the way through the zoo, but at least you get some pictures.  We also took video, but that seems to take forever to upload on my tired laptop.  So, here a few pictures of our first annual Gotcha Day Adventure

Standing beside my favorite zoo animals, pink flamingos

Xavier climbing like a monkey in the children's area

A pygmy hippo yawning

Xavier with the "pretend" lions.  We didn't see the real lions.

Up close and personal with a tiger

Xavier and Daddy playing in the bamboo
We actually went to the zoo together in Moscow almost a year ago and I would love to post some comparison photos, but I guess they are all saved on J.J.'s computer.  Maybe another day.  We had a great time at the zoo!  Thank you Lord for a full year with our wonderful Xavier Aleksey Manning!!

Friday, May 4, 2012


Xavier has decided the word no is a good thing to say in all occasions and to every person.  I was sort of waiting for this stage to hit (please let it be a stage) because every small child seems to learn and enjoy the power of the word no, but I secretly hoped we could just skip it.  Oh well!  I think about how Xavier interacted with us and with other people when we brought him home almost a year ago.  He would go to anyone.  He showed very few preferences or dislikes.  It took something major to make him cry.  Now he is full of opinions and ideas.  He knows exactly what he wants and he has discovered how to express it.  I am so thankful he is comfortable enough in his new world that he doesn't fear rejection for disagreeing with us.  Don't get me wrong.  When I ask him to say "Hello" to a friend at the grocery store and he screams "No!" while turning his head and growling I don't have any warm fuzzy feelings.  Or when we ask him to eat more bites at supper and he say "No!" while banging his fork on the table I don't gush with love and tenderness.  I just have to remind myself in quiet moments like now that this is normal and so much better than the silent, emotionless, little boy we first met.  But it is just a stage, right?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Big Changes

So after a long time of praying, and thinking, and discussing, and praying some more J.J. and I have made some big decisions.  We believe God has a different direction for our lives and our ministry.  J.J. will no longer be pastoring the Follett Chapel.  We made the announcement to the church Sunday night.  I was so nervous.  When we moved here 5 years ago and J.J. started filling in at the church we didn't imagine we would become the pastor, but we fell in love with the people and the community.  We couldn't see anyone else serving in that position so we agreed together to take on this new role.  J.J. had never been a pastor, although he is ordained, and everything was new for us.  The church has stood by and supported us through all the growing and changing and we hope we can give back some as the church transitions to new leadership.  We don't know what God has planned for the Chapel, but you can't make decisions, or not make decisions, out of fear.  We believe that if God has moved on our hearts to make this change that He will bring the right person to fill the role of pastor.  The interesting thing is that we are not leaving Follett.  God has not changed our heart for this place or these people.  We plan to stay here and see what new things He has planned.  J.J. will keep teaching and coaching at the school.  I'm going to continue staying home full time with Xavier.  We are looking to purchase a house in town.  I wish I could have talked about this for all the months that we have struggled over this decision.  It might have helped to write things down, but it just isn't one of those things you share until it's over.  We really don't know what the next few months will look like, but we just want to keep trusting the One who is never surprised because He already knows how things will turn out.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Re-Finalize Advice

We need to have Xavier's adoption re-finalized soon.  Our agency is changing some of it's post-adoption home visit criteria which basically means if we don't get things done by April 30th we will have to pay for an extra visit from our social worker.  I contacted the pre-paid legal service we use yesterday and they are working on getting a lawyer for us.  Does anyone have any advice??  It seems like a relatively straight forward thing, but I've never used a lawyer and we don't have time to mess things up or hit snags.  Thanks in advance!

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Easter in pictures

All dressed up to celebrate Jesus' resurrection 

The boys making silly happy faces

A family picture (Thanks Miss Cathy for stopping and taking our picture)

Finding eggs at the community Easter egg hunt

Getting some candy with Granny

Go speed racer!

Going down the slide

Dying Easter eggs with Momma

It says "X-A-V-I-E-R". I promise!

Ending the day with a stick (mop) horse ride with Pookie

Happy Easter everyone!  We hope you all enjoyed this day of celebration as much as we did.  Who's in the tomb? Nobody!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sometimes the best things happen by accident

I read about a fun outdoor water activity on this post from another super cool adoptive mom.  (which actually originated at this blog Play at home Mom)  Xavier likes all things water so it seemed like something he would enjoy. We've been having what I would call unseasonably warm days so we put our water gear on and headed out to the backyard to try it.  I had old guttering around the house so this "water slide" game was free, minus the cost of running water for extended periods of time.  I put a tub at the bottom to collect the water and showed Xavier how the toys and boats could go down the slide.  He never seemed to give the slide more than a glance.  He did enjoy splashing in the tub for a few minutes and then headed off to activities of his own choosing.  I called it a worthwhile, yet unsuccessful attempt.  Later this week he actually asked for the water slide.  I thought maybe we were making progress.  At least he remembered what it was called.  I set everything up and he spent even less time exploring.  Curious.  I decided to make some mud shapes/pies just for fun.  Xavier is still picky about anything sticky, wet, or slimy on his hands.  I did not expect him to join me and sure enough he started playing with bubbles.  Inevitably the bubble solution split and he asked for more.  I had to wash my muddy hands with the hose and that's when the interesting accidental thing happened.  Xavier suddenly was very curious about the water running out of the hose and over my hands.  He watched me intently, let me splash us with water, and did his own share of splashing.  Before it was finished he had spent a good 20 maybe 30 minutes holding the water hose while drinking, splashing, and watching the water flow.  Of course there are no pictures of our water exploration because I didn't plan it and it is very hard to hold a camera while being splashed by a two year old.  You'll just have to trust me that it produced many smiles/laughs and gave Daddy's grass a good watering.  I do have a cute video of him blowing bubbles.  Now that I've figured out the link tool maybe I can conquer uploading video.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fat, calories, and other things you usually avoid

Thanks everyone for reading and responding to my last post.  I know I didn't specifically ask for advice, but I appreciate those of you who gave it.  We really sat down and looked at the food Xavier was eating and decided he actually might not be getting enough calories/fat in his diet.  It was sort of a foreign thought to us.  We have been working on eating low calorie, low fat food as adults who need to lose/maintain weight and Xavier eats what we eat. So, even though he was eating yogurt, it was non-fat and so on and so on.  Yesterday was our weekly trip to the grocery store and J.J. got to accompany us because he is on Spring Break. Hooray!!  We had to really examine the food we bought.  Believe it or not it is somewhat difficult to find higher fat yet still nutritious foods.  I guess I need to research foods with "good" fat, but I didn't do that before grocery shopping.  We just tried to substitute some of our normal low-fat choices with the more normal fat kind.  Does that make any sense?  So I am going to try to give more attention to Xavier's diet and see how that goes.  He ate a whole Nutella to go snack during church last night, so that is a start.  I am still open to more advice in the weight gain vs keeping healthy foods on the plate issue.  I think they can be compatible if we work at it.  I'll keep you updated on our progress.  Happy eating everyone!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Two and a half check-up

Xavier had a well-baby check for 2 1/2.  I'm not sure if that is typical or if we got special treatment because we had a different beginning to our time together as a family.  Either way, I was excited to see how he was progressing.  We don't have any scales in our house and it is difficult to measure a wiggly toddler so I left the measuring to the professionals.  We got in quickly this day. Yeah!  It is usually quite a wait before they even take you back to wait more before you actually see the doctor.  They are not just kidding about the "waiting room".  Xavier enjoyed playing with the new toys in the exam room while we did a little bit of waiting.  He weighed 23 lbs. and they measured him at 35 inches tall.  I think that might have been a tad bit tall, because the paper on the exam table scrunched up under him while they marked his head and heel.  Either way he has really grown in the nine months he has been with us!  Unfortunately he hasn't made as much progress percentage wise.  The doctor wants to see us back in 3 months to see if he is gaining.  If not she will refer us to a pediatrician. (Remember, we live in a small place.  Pediatricians take some travel).  It was not what I wanted to hear.  I really wanted to just dismiss it and I even asked, "Is it possible that he is just going to be small".  But she said we didn't want to ignore this is case it was a sign of something more.  I really don't know how to feel.  One part of me is concerned, but if you want my gut opinion, Xavier is doing remarkably well.  He is growing and changing every day.  He is like a little plant that just needed some love, attention, food, and a new surrounding to grow. That might be an bad analogy because I tend to kill house plants, but you get the idea.  I look back on the approaching months, where we were a year ago, leading up to his adoption and think, "Why did I ever worry about this thing or that thing?".  He is happy, active, talkative, loving, observant, and a great listener.  And he is small.  So for now we will try to keep him eating more bites of healthy things and see where we are in three months.  Right now we are blessed with a little boy only an amazing gracious God could have brought into our lives.  I don't see that changing any time soon.

Monday, February 20, 2012


It is nap time.  Xavier now has a habit of sleeping with Pookie the stuffed bear, a toy Elmo, and a stuffed dog who remains nameless.  That's all fine and good when he has the whole pack-n-play to flop around, but at nap time I still rock him to sleep.  I told him today he could only choose one toy.  Here's how the negotiations went.

Xavier: "Elmo"
Me: "Okay, only one toy today"
Xavier: "One, two, three"
Me: (very impressed by the counting, but not giving in) "You said Elmo first so let's get him"
     We retrieve Elmo who is still sleeping in the pack-n-play
Xavier: "Pookie"
Me: "No, you can only hold one toy today and you are already holding Elmo"
Xavier:....(thinking) "Mama hold Pookie"

I laughed so hard he started laughing with me even though he had no idea what was funny.  He fell asleep just fine with only Elmo.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The stomach bug and other things keeps us busy

J.J. hasn't been feeling 100% since around Christmas.  It seemed like mono from all the symptoms, except his stomach also hurt.  The first trip to the doctor told us just about nothing, except it wasn't the flu.  He hung in there for a few more week and then when things got worse again we decided to try another doctor.  They ran a bunch of lab work and discovered it had been mono all along.  On top of that he has a bacteria in his stomach, the kind that causes ulcers, that was giving him all the abdominal pain.  So he starting taking lots of medicine and was feeling some relief.  Then I caught a stomach bug from who knows where.  I always took building immunity as a perk of teaching small children so I guess now it is a perk of having play dates and exercise time with other moms.  J.J. tried to stay away but managed to catch the stuff anyway.  I'm sure I've lost weight, but I would not recommend this method.  Praise the Lord, Xavier has seemed to miss out on the worst on the symptoms.  He has been sleepy, gassy, and unpredictable in the diaper department, but nothing that matched our second homes in the bathroom.  My mom saved the day by watching him during my initial siege.  Thanks, Mom!  We are praying tomorrow brings more energy and less illness.
We also do other things besides being sick.  We go to lots of basketball games.  The season is actually almost concluded.  I don't know about the post season chances.  Xavier loves to talk about basketball, but he doesn't spend much time watching it.  He spends most of his time running in the "carefully chosen so we will disturb the least amount of people actually watching the game while preventing Mommy from having to say no 1,000 times because it is safer" section of the bleachers with his basketball friends.  Several elementary school girls think he is awesome and enjoy playing with him at all the home games.  We've been getting ready for teen camp this summer.  We get to plan with some great friends, which means fun planning dinners followed by entertainment by our kids.
Mostly though we've just been doing our fun and not so fun daily things.  Xavier's been home for almost 8 months now and I'm excited to see how his 2 1/2 year old check-up goes in a few weeks.  He is growing and changing all the time.  He now sleeps in his pack-in-play every night and no one has to rock him or cajole him into sleep.  He does try to negotiate release most nights, but he really doesn't put up a big fight.  He can reach door knobs and open some doors now.  He loves Elmo and wants to watch the potty video at all opportunities (more on that later).  Whew!  This post is just stretching on and on.  Maybe I'm finally caught up from Christmas and I can do more everyday posts.  Stay tuned for less "As the Stomach Turns" and more "Days of Our Lives".  =)  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Russian Christmas Eve

We stretched our Christmas celebrating out to include some fun on Russian Christmas Eve, January 6th. Xavier and I made gingerbread cookies.  I noticed gingerbread boards on display in one of the art museums in Russia, so I decided that gingerbread cookies was a good traditional thing.  It really doesn't take much to talk me into gingerbread cookies.  Then we made blini for supper.  Finally Xavier opened a few more small gifts.  I don't know how traditional any of those things were, but we wanted to at least keep the idea of heritage alive.  I did some research on Christmas celebrations in Russian and they seemed to center around the church.  That is fantastic except there is not exactly a Russian Orthodox church anywhere near our little hamlet in Texas.  Maybe another year.  Here's some pictures from our day.
I had this hat and apron from gingerbread man/cookie activities with my Pre-K students.  Xavier actually enjoyed wearing it, but here he looks like, "Really Mom?".

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Jesus!

We made chocolate cupcakes for Jesus' birthday.  We all enjoyed the cake and it helped us remember the reason why we celebrate Christmas.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas with my mom's family and Christmas at home

We had Christmas with all my mom's family on Christmas Eve.  We drove to there and back in one day because we had candlelight communion that night at our church.  We opened gifts with Xavier at home at communion.  So both these celebrations occurred the same day. I only took about four pictures at mom's family celebration.  One was this cute "cheese" face from one of Xavier's cousins.  We got Xavier "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" (my favorite children's book) with a toy caterpillar, playdough toys, a popper, and a kitchen.  Notice our lovely blanket wrapping jobs.  It was such a long day, but it ended well.

Oh and PJ's which we modeled in the rocking chair

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas with my parents

We like to spread Christmas out around here.  Share the love.  We had Christmas with my family on the 26th.  We probably would have opened gifts on Christmas evening but J.J. was sick. Poor guy.  He's spent more of his break feeling yucky than well.  My parents made a "traditional" meal of turkey although we discussed that maybe goose was the real traditional dish.  We like to take turns opening gifts so everyone can watch the other people reactions.  It was a fun time.  We got to play more games.  My dad made his famous tapioca pudding.  We all watched Jeopardy. I helped the kids put together and decorate a gingerbread house.  The older girls played in the snow. It was just a nice relaxing day.
More Angry Birds please Uncle Brian

A sippy in our stocking. Hooray!

A Weeble tree house

Cousins in the snow with Grandpa

The finished product

Playing/eating Don't Break the Ice