Life With This Child of Mine » It's the Middle that Counts Most

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I Love You

Nathan, Iliya, and I watched The Lego Movie a couple nights ago.  It’s a fast-paced movie that was almost too fast-paced for me to keep up with.  Of course, my brain is in a fog right now, so that could be part of it.  But Nathan and Iliya enjoyed it and it has inspired them to learn more about stop motion animation.

Nathan discovered an app on his phone that can create stop motion videos (actually, if we’re giving full disclosure, here, my sister is the one who told us about it) and he has been so excited to try it out.

Last night after the boys were bed, as I sat on the couch, grading papers, I realized that Nathan was sitting at the kitchen table.  I asked what he was doing and he replied that he was making something for Iliya.  Immediately, I knew what he was up to – I laughed, rolled my eyes, and went back to grading my papers.

Thirty minutes and 129 frames later, he showed me this creation…and I have to admit I think it is completely awesome.

June 29, 2014 - 3:26 pm

Nana - That’s too cute!!

June 30, 2014 - 2:03 pm

granmom - I knew this arranged marriage would work well :) (referring to praying for the best match in the whole wide world for you, Missa) Nathan, you are just plain swell! {as the Beave would say}.

July 5, 2014 - 11:43 pm

kate - super cool! we love watching stop motion AG videos on youtube.

July 10, 2014 - 1:07 pm

Buddy Nancy Harris - Really Cool!

VBS, Scissors, and Fluffy Mail, oh my!

This week was VBS week. We have had so much fun…and perhaps most fun of all, my niece, Daisy joined us for the week!  She split her time between our family, my sister, and my parents.  We love Daisy and are glad her parents were cool with her coming over for a week!  (we are at a redlight at this photo – no pictures while driving – and I just realized that they were photobombed by the guy in the truck behind us)  The time spent with Daisy at our house was an interesting look into how life with 3 kids will be.  I will say this one thing – getting places (period - and - on time!) is definitely going to be interesting!



Max surprised me with a skill – I knew he was learning to cut with scissors, but somehow I missed how much he LOVES cutting. Oops for missing that one!


And I don’t know when our newest little one is set to arrive home – weeks? months? a year? – but since we are I am wanting to use cloth diapers, I decided it would be better to be a little prepared.  Just in case.  So, I got some fluffy mail this week, too!


Throwback Thursday: Toddler Iliya Style

I was going through some papers the other day and found these school pictures from when Iliya was a little guy. Thought I’d send you for a throwback, because it certainly threw me back!!


June 13, 2014 - 7:01 am

granmom - Where.did.the.time.go? You should post the video of when he was secretly trying to operate the cd player @ preschool….little mr. sneaky never got caught :) That’s another ‘throwback’ that brings a smile every time I think about it.

June 14, 2014 - 10:46 pm

Melissa - I don’t know! I wish I could go back, just for a couple days….I feel like I’ve enjoyed it, but it also feels like it has just rushed by. I used to have that video on my blog, but I just searched for it and apparently, it won’t play anymore. I need to do something about that.

Smarty Pants the Emergent Reader

Today, Max was feeling a little bored, so I gave him a box of fridge letter magnets. It was a fairly large box (as large as smallish boxes get – the size of an index card holder, I guess – but it probably contains 4 sets of magnets).

Within minutes, he had fished out several letters and before I knew it, I heard, “MOMMY! LOOK! It’s my NAME!!!”


June 12, 2014 - 12:51 am

kate - Awesome, AMX! ;>

June 14, 2014 - 10:38 pm

Melissa - I know, right? I feel like it’s a scrambled word puzzle. I think Max may end up being my early reader. So much fun!

Praying while we wait.

If I can’t post many words, I’ll post pictures with a few words. That’s my workaround these days…because I do so miss blogging. (it’s probably easier to read these type of posts anyway).

Anyway, so…a few weeks ago, I created our family profile book for our adoption process.


It’s a very intimidating process because – well, with international adoption, we didn’t have this aspect.  Granted, what we did have to do for international adoption was akin to opening our doors and bank accounts and everything else we possibly ever owned and allowing very close scrutiny by 2 national governments and various regional and city governments.  But, there was very little emotion in that process.  Everything compiled, back then, was pretty much cold, hard facts that helped those governments decide whether we were worthy of pursing an adoption.

This whole idea of creating a family profile book is very emotion-filled.  It’s different – international adoption looked more at the hard facts while we’re finding that domestic adoption really delves into the heart.  And we realize that our profile book will be the first impression of us for a birthmother who is making a very important decision for the child she is carrying.

So, how do you sum up over 16 years into one short book?

It’s hard, and it took me all of several days of work…but we got it finished.  The actual book is in the hands of our agency, now, and we are officially waiting.  Just waiting to see what happens.

And praying while we wait.

June 12, 2014 - 2:10 am

Holly Witzel - I wish you the best! I have been following your blog for over a year when we started looking at adoption in Russia, but as you know things changed with that so we started our journey with domestic Adoption we went active in November and last Tuesday we welcomed our little girl into the world. She was 4 weeks early, but she was perfect. She was worth the wait and we could be more happy. I wish you and you family a happy healthy baby.

An Adventurous Investment

This past weekend, we took a trip to the Smoky Mountains. It was actually a trip that we’d had planned back in February, during one of the Snowpocalypse events. Obviously, we weren’t going to couldn’t make it back then, so we rescheduled.  We had planned to hike and enjoy outdoor time.

I love the outdoors – the reminder of our Creator and His magnificent work.  I like hiking but…. I sort of hate it, too.  Mostly because my feet are never, ever, ever comfortable.

So, I talked to a fellow adoptive mom who spends a TON of time outdoors, and she recommended some hiking sandals.  We made an investment in some sandals and BOY, was it a good one.


Happy shoes = happy hikers = happy trip.

Valentine’s Day

So…it’s only 3 1/2 months late, but it can’t hurt to post some photos from Valentine’s Day, right?   Sure, why not!

Anyway…So, I usually have great ideas and plans for Valentine’s Day.  In fact, this goes for most holidays.  All these plans are in my head…but they very, very rarely materialize.  I’m trying to get better about this shortcoming.  I occasionally log into Pinterest and collect such fun ideas.  But then, I get overwhelmed with all the ideas and end up doing nothing.  I’m beginning to realize, though, that Pinterest boards are useful for something other than holding onto all the great ideas of the world…they’re meant for storing things you might actually DO….and then doing them.  Yet, I can count on one hand the things I’ve pinned and actually accomplished.

Anyway, that’s another ramble for another time.

For now, rewind 3 1/2 months.  It was Valentine’s Day and we were having a pretty good day…but I was feeling a little bad for not having planned anything special.  So, during naptime, I had a bright idea pop into my head (this late in the game, I don’t know if I was looking at Pinterest or if I just had a magnificent idea on my own – I suspect the former).  I found a really great (turns out really, deliciously awesome!) pretzel recipe and once our afternoon began, we mixed up pretzel dough.

My intention was to make pretzel hearts but figured we could make pretzel whatevers and that would be just as good as anything.

So I gave each boy a blob of pretzel dough.  Max wasn’t quite sure what to do with his.

He picked at it.

He tasted it.


He hugged it.


In the end, he kept a little bit of it to play with and I made some pretzels for him.

Iliya took right to the activity.


The only Valentine missing was Nathan, who was at work.


We baked the pretzels – some traditional ones, some hearts, some swirly ones, and an I<3U set. :)


Sprinkled with salt, and served with a side of mustard (for me – the other 2 weren’t interested in the mustard).


And a special one made just for daddy when he came home.


We enjoyed the pretzels.



And highly recommend the recipe!  Happy (very, very belated) Valentine’s Day!


Soccer – Spring 2014

Remember when I posted about Iliya’s first soccer practice fiasco? We have come a long way since that day.  In fact, after that day, Iliya didn’t like soccer.  He didn’t like running.  He didn’t like sweating.  He didn’t have good control over the ball.  He didn’t know anyone.  He didn’t want to keep playing because he (felt like he) wasn’t any good at it.

And then.


He got used to the running and the sweating.  He gained control over the ball.  He made some friends.  He started building his confidence.


And then one day, we were on our way home after a hot, sweaty practice…he took a breath from guzzling water in the back seat of the car and said, “Mama?  ThankyouSOMUCH for signing me up for soccer.  I love it so much!”


This made my mama-heart so happy.


Happy that he seems to have found his niche…but also happy that we waited a little later than many families wait to get their kids started in sports.  I know that may sound weird, but it is what it is.


These photos are courtesy of my father-in-law, who is a sports photographer for the Crimson Confidential online magazine.  They are from Iliya’s first game and every game got better and better!



He was so sad at his last game of the season and was wishing the summer away so that he could start another season.  It happens that I found a week long summer camp he’ll be attending with a friend of ours.  AND, our local Y has an indoor summer league!  INDOOR.  I can’t tell you how happy that word makes me, down here in the sweaty, humid south.  :)soccer10soccer11

So maybe this will be the beginning of a true interest, and something at which Iliya will excel in the years to come.


June 7, 2014 - 8:54 pm

Linda Combs Cunningham - Not every rookie player gets a professional photographer to capture these great soccer moves…great job Papa (& of course Iliya too!)

Sing & Be Happy!

From my favorite movie:

Let me explain……

……..No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

So here is the short version: life has been incredibly busy. I wish I had more time to post. Alas, I don’t. We’re doing well, though… sent our final post placement report off (remember, Russia required 3 years of reports) yesterday! It’s bittersweet to think that we are finished adopting from Russia. Speaking of adoption, no news from the homefront…we’re just waiting and waiting. But the waiting is definitely bearable right now…because with these 2 munchkins to keep me busy, there is no downtime except during sleep. And even then, Nathan and I spend a lot of time catching up on household stuff…and I’m still teaching an online course and have photographed several families and a wedding recently, so I spend a few evenings each week working on those things. But I guess that’s it. Wakeup, Do All The Things, Sleep…rinse and repeat. It’s making life go way too incredibly fast, but we’re holding on and enjoying the ride.

For now, I had to post this video I took today. Nothing like a cute video of your kiddo to bring a person back into the world of blogging. :)

May 13, 2014 - 9:24 pm

Johnathan - Holy cow! I cannot stop smiling!

May 14, 2014 - 8:21 am

Granmom - Me too, Johnathan! That was beyond precious! I am going watch this everyday to remind me to ‘Sing and Be Happy”! Thanks Max! and thanks Missa for sharing this! (btw, how did he learn the words so well? do y’all sing it often?)

May 14, 2014 - 8:44 am

kate - Sing and be happy is ALWAYS a good idea!

Giggled at the image of you and Nathan doing house repairs in your sleep. :>

Easy, Delicious Breakfast

Thank you, thank you for all of your kind thoughts and words for my last post. We are super excited – but it’s funny because I hardly get a moment to even think about it these days.  We’ve finished most of our paperwork and are gearing up for our first homestudy visit.  What’s funny about all of this is that I look back to our very first adoption and how on edge I was – everything was rushrushrush and then waitwaitwait and rinse and repeat.  Compared to now, we had very little to occupy the waiting moments…so I had loads of time to think and worry.  And with our second adoption, we had Iliya to occupy our waiting moments…but that still doesn’t compare to now.  I wouldn’t have it any other way for sure!  But given that, it may be that you don’t get a lot of adoption-focused updates.  Then again, you might.  One never knows what’s going to happen on this blog!

Anyway, changing gears.

Our very favorite breakfast these days.  Super easy and really requires few words.

Preheat the oven to 350*.


Before getting started, it’s a good idea to cut 4 slices of bacon in half and then fry them up nice and crispy.  Then, scramble up 2 eggs.  (I often do this the night before, so it’s all nice and cool and easy to handle in the morning)

Roll out and separate a can (or two or however many you’d like, but I’ll type this recipe out for a can – which is 8) crescent rolls.  You’ll have a bunch of triangles.


Layer some shredded cheese, bacon, and about a Tbsp. (or more or less) of egg onto the crescent roll.


Roll it up and bake until the rolls are golden – usually about 10-12 minutes.


This is one of our family’s most favorite breakfasts right now.  I usually have to double the recipe – which is nice because we generally have a few left over, and those can be thrown into the toaster oven the next morning.


Happy Eating!

An Impending New Chapter

It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for nearly 8 years.  On April 19, 2006, I wrote and published my very first post, ever.  Back then, I didn’t know anything about blogging – but I knew that Nathan and I had decided to pursue adoption as the way to add to our family – and that I needed a central location for sharing this information and updates with our family and close friends.

This was not before Facebook, but it was before Facebook was as popular and accessible as it is now.  So, I’m not really sure how I discovered the whole idea of having a blog, but I did.  Thus, my blog was born. And, although Facebook and Instagram have definitely pulled me away a bit, in recent years, I’m so happy that the blog continues to thrive.

Anyway.  So this new chapter.

Over the past year or so, Nathan and I began loosely discussing the idea of adding to our family.  I come from a family with 4 kids and he comes from a family with 2 – it’s never been a secret that I’d love to have a large family and he’s pretty well content with whatever.  Of course, since Iliya has been reallyreallyreallyreallyreally wanting another sibling (preferably a sister, but he’d be {mostly :)} okay with another brother), we recently started talking more seriously. We’ve long abandoned the idea of more infertility treatments – it’s not that we don’t think we could handle them, but honestly, given our history, believe they are a waste of time for us.  I am destined to remain gravida 0 and what’s more, we are perfectly fine with that (and it’s so cool to say that…there was a time 10ish years ago – when I wondered if I’d ever be able to say it with real, true, honesty).  Our family has been thoroughly blessed by adoption and we are utterly, completely content to continue adding to our family through adoption.

And that’s where our new chapter begins. :)

We have 2 kiddos from Russia, so it always seemed a given that we would return to Russia for our third child (assuming the time came that we would consider adopting a third time).  But…since Russia has closed – and seems to have locked – its doors, that’s no longer a remote possibility for us.  And honestly, we don’t really have an emotional connection to any other country in the world….so, we thought, let’s revisit domestic adoption.

About 2 months ago, I contacted a local adoption agency to inquire about adoption.  I’d spoken with them, when we were considering adoption in 2006 (they are not the agency we used for our brief foray into domestic adoption prior to bringing Max home), but then we decided to go with Russia.  So I have a tiny bit of experience with this agency – and now that we live where we live, I know several families who have actually used them to complete their adoptions.

So here we are!

We’ve told our immediate families the news and it’s not been a huge secret, but I haven’t really wanted to blog about it or really start spreading the news until we officially began our homestudy.

I got a call, yesterday, from the social worker to schedule our first visit.

So I guess it’s time.

Yes.  We are beginning another adoption process!  This time, from here in the US.

And that’s all I can really think of to type at this very moment.  Now that the word is getting out – now that I feel that I can share – I’m sure I’ll have other thoughts and things to blog about as we go along in the process.  For now, though, I think I’ll leave it at that.

We’re getting ready…a new chapter is about to begin!



April 3, 2014 - 5:40 pm

Christen - Yay!! It seems our paths are always parallel. :) we recently announced our domestic adoption, too. I’m glad we will be traveling this road together.

April 3, 2014 - 7:24 pm

Ashley Warren - Congrats!!

April 3, 2014 - 7:45 pm

Celeste Peters - God is continuously blessing you and this child that will become part of your family. Thanks for sharing your blessings with us!

April 4, 2014 - 12:26 am

Nancy Mallery Powell - Congratulations!

April 4, 2014 - 1:17 am

Ronda Thomas Farrell - That’s wonderful news! What a lovely way to continue to grow your beautiful family. Best of luck in the process.

April 4, 2014 - 1:24 am

Andrea Johnston Jordan - How exciting. Congrats!

April 4, 2014 - 3:33 am

Kelly Englebert Avery - So excited for you guys. Praying for you during this special journey.

April 4, 2014 - 11:03 am

Lindsay Conway - congrats :) wonderful news

April 4, 2014 - 2:52 pm

Gladys Clements - Wonderful news! How exciting to know there is a child out there who is about to be blessed to be a part of your family! It touches my heart!

April 4, 2014 - 5:06 pm

Ani - How exciting! Congratulations!!! I’ve followed your blog from the early days and it’s been a privilege to tag along in your family adventure!
Both our kids joined our family thru domestic adoption, so it’s near and dear to my heart. Best of luck to you all!!!!

April 5, 2014 - 7:55 pm

Melissa - How wonderful! I read a lot of blogs of people who have adopted but it will be interesting to follow along on the front end of the process. Thank you for sharing a little glimpse into your life :) Good luck!

April 7, 2014 - 12:56 pm

Holly Witzel - That is wonderful!!!!

April 8, 2014 - 5:36 am

kate - Congratulations! Looking forward to all the joy–and for the comparisons on this new process.

April 15, 2014 - 11:06 am

Laura Martin - How exciting!!