7.14.2014

ADK 2014

The Adirondacks. One of my favorite places to be!
I forgot my camera, so these pictures are all from my phone.

This was our 3rd annual trip with Jeremy & Victoria & their kiddos.
We had fun thinking back on how our families have changed from trip to trip.

The first time we all went together, we camped at Heart Lake.
Colden was 2, Victoria was pregnant, and Doug & I were waiting to bring Bo home.

The second time we went, we stayed at the beautiful Grouse Patch.
Colden was 3, Kade was 8 months old, and Bo was 1.

This time, we stayed at this sweet cabin, Old Eb.
Colden is 4, Bo is 2, Kade is 1, and I'm pregnant.
It's fun to wonder what next year's trip will bring!
The weather was beautiful for us during our week-long stay.
We enjoyed a lot of swimming in the Ausable River.
I'm happy to share that Bo was much more excited about the water this year.
Almost every time he was in the water, he told us that he was going to swim,
"all the way to Grampa & Gramma's house."
And of course, multiple trips to Stewart's must happen when you're on the east side of the state.
 
Seriously. Their ice cream "Happy Camper"?!
We drove by this crazy "monument" noting the water line due to Hurricane Irene.
It's also become one of our traditions to grab lunch at 46 Sandwiches and eat by Mirror Lake.
This year, we were surprised to see the old gazebo has been replaced by a little amphitheater. 
While we waited out the only rain to interrupt our plans, 
we documented Bo & Colden's matching hiking shoes.
This was our 7-year anniversary picture:
And of course, V & I had to capture our coordinating plaids.
An abundance of s'mores were enjoyed...
and massive marshmallows consumed.
One morning, Doug & Jeremy left our cabin in the middle of the night to go hike Mt. Colden.
Doug texted me this picture from the summit - they got there right as the sun was coming up!
(This peak marks the halfway point for Doug - 23 out of 46!)
As we waited for the big boys to descend and arrive home, 
Victoria & I did a little hike of our own with the little boys.
I had Bo stop and pose by the entrance to our cabin:
He was a very slow little hiker that morning - 
taking his time to look all around and enjoy nature!
Another day we drove over to Marcy Field...
where we ran around...
and flew Colden's kite...
and played with trucks in the rocks...
and enjoyed a picnic lunch.
Such an incredible backdrop to our little lunch!
Both Victoria & I really wanted to get some family pictures,
so we coerced the boys into venturing out after dinner one night. :)
Victoria snapped this photo on Doug's phone:
Jeremy took a lot of pictures with his camera too, and I can't wait to see how those turned out!
On our last full day in the 'Dacks, we did a family hike of Cobble Hill.
Here we are enjoying a little snack atop the summit.
And here's me, Bo & baby with amazing views of high peaks in the background.
I'm so thankful that we were able to take a vacation with some of our best friends.
Love this place and can't wait to plan our next trip.

7.07.2014

7.

When over the years, someone has seen you at your worst, 
and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, 
yet commits himself to you wholly, 
it is a consummate experience
- Timothy Keller

Doug -
You have truly seen me at my worst.
My insecurities. My pride. My stubbornness.
My temper. My laziness. My selfishness.
My mid-winter unshaved legs.
My no-make-up ugly cry.

Yet you're still committed to my holiness and our relationship.
Thank you for making our marriage a safe place and our home a happy one.
I am so honored to live life by your side and fight the good fight with you.

Happy 7 years.
I love you!

6.24.2014

pregnancy, motherhood & womanhood

Judging by my blog, it may not seem like I'm overly excited about this pregnancy.
When we were waiting to bring Bo home, I couldn't shut up about my anticipation.
I posted pictures of his room, any photos we received in weekly updates, etc etc.
And all I've written about this new baby is how many times I threw up and speculation about the gender.

Part of that is due to my shifting thoughts and increasing ambivalence toward blogging.
Part is due to my realization that no one cares what I'm craving or how much weight I've gained.
Well. Certain family members might be interested in that last part.

The largest part, however, is what I've learned from being an adoptive mom
and what I've learned from friends and family.

First of all, I've been surprised by how intertwined this pregnancy and our adoption are in my mind.
When I feel the baby kick, it's exciting and weird and wonderful.
But I also wonder about Bonsa's birth mother. And how his kicks felt to her.
When I was hanging over the toilet bowl, I wondered if his growth caused her nausea.
I don't feel like I missed out on experiencing all of that with Bo - 
his story and our journey to him have taught me so much that I'd have missed out on otherwise.

Second, when we were in the adoption process, we didn't know whether or not 
we'd be able to have biological children.
We'd been "trying" for about a year with no success before we sent in our adoption application.
Then, after we brought Bo home, we decided to just "see what happens"...
and nothing happened for over a year. 

I know what it's like to sit on a bathroom floor with a negative pregnancy test
and curse my body, curse God and curse pregnant women.
I know what it's like to visit the doctor and stare at a black space
where so many other sonograms have a teeny little bean growing.

I've read multiple blogs and heard countless stories about women who claim
that they've never felt like a true woman until after going through the birthing process.
They've never felt stronger or more beautiful or prouder of their bodies or what have you.

I have beautiful friends who long to be married.
Sweet friends who have been through excruciating miscarriages.
Wonderful friends who are currently battling the struggle of infertility.

I think - especially within the Christian culture - there is such a high emphasis placed on reproduction.
When I was resigning from my job teaching, I was explaining to my former [male] boss
that we were getting ready to bring our son home and I was going to stay home with him.
And he told me, "Good for you! That is the most important thing a woman can do."

What? 
I mean - don't get me wrong. I do believe a woman's first priority should be her family.
But THE most important thing a woman can do?
What about my friends who are unmarried? 
What about my friends who are unable to have children?
Are they carrying about lesser business than a mom?
Does God care less about the work they are doing than wives and mothers?

My ability to procreate doesn't elevate my importance.
My womanhood isn't determined by my ability to push a human out of my body without painkillers.
My femininity isn't found because of my marriage.

I am created in the image of God.
My identity is rooted in Christ alone.
Yes, the other details of my life shape me - 
but the determining factor is always Christ.

Whew. Unintentional soapbox there.
All that being said - yes, I am SO excited about being pregnant 
and welcoming another Parton to our little pack!

6.09.2014

family camping: letchworth

This past weekend, we took a quick trip to Letchworth State Park.
It's only an hour from us - I don't know why it's taken us so long to get there!
We've been wanting to take Bo tent-camping for awhile,
and I especially wanted to get a trip in before I become massive.
So last weekend, I checked the 10-day forecast and suggested,
"Let's go to Letchworth next weekend!"

Arriving at our campsite:
 Taking it easy while Daddy sets up the tent:
 Once camp is all set up, we're ready for adventure!
Doug's pack had a long strap, so Bo held onto what he called "my tail" the whole time:
 Upper falls:
 Sweet boys:
 Little pep talk before our hike:
Top view of the Middle Falls:
 Beautiful rainbow! Feels like a different country.
 Middle falls:
 Family shot, thanks to a random passer-by.
 Middle Falls:
My attempt at being artsy-fartsy: 
 I'm not nervous at all when Doug props Bo up on the rock wall... (lies, all lies):
 I couldn't get enough of Bo holding "my tail".
Every once in awhile, Doug would go too fast and Bo would lose his grip and exclaim:
"Daddy, I lost my tail!"
 Taking in the view:
Oops, caught me with the camera:
 I had to document the sweat. 
This is why we cut Bo's hair so short in summer, much to everyone's chagrin:
 At some point, a hiking stick was acquired:
 Hiking sticks are maybe a little dangerous for young boys. 
But so, so awesome:

 Stopped swinging the stick long enough to get a shot with Mommy:
 Last view of the gorge-ous scenery before we headed back to camp.
 Bo relaxing while Doug gets our fire going:
 Hobo dinners, my favorite camping meal:
 Set up the self-timer on top of the cooler in an attempt to capture 
what we look like watching the fire & cooking dinner:
After dinner, we headed over to a little playground near all the sites
and let Bo get out even more energy before turning in for the night.
Once we got in the tent, however, Bo had a burst of energy - 
apparently he was just super excited about all of us being in the tent together.
It took him about an hour and a half to finally fall asleep, 
but other than that, our first family tent experience was awesome!

The next morning, we broke down camp and headed back out to check out the Lower Falls.
 Absolutely perfect weather & such beautiful scenery!
 Daddy's boy.
 Descent to the Lower Falls:
We stopped along the way for a quick photo shoot,
and I snapped this little heart-melter:
 But in all reality, this is how most of our pictures usually turn out:
 So pretty:
 This is how "hiking" occurred Sunday morning:
 Makes you feel tiny:
 Boys on the footbridge:
View from the footbridge, looking toward the Lower Falls:
 Set up my timer and sprinted over to get another family shot...
Bo is cracking up and reaching for my headband.

A quick trip, but so much fun! Looking forward to future adventures at Letchworth.