Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Big Reveal...

Aside from celebrating Carter's birthday this weekend (see previous post) we also revealed his bedroom to our families.  We figured that since nothing else about this process has been a surprise to them, the bedroom HAS to be a surprise :) 

Here it is!

A few of my favorite details from his room.... 

One Thing I Know For Sure: It's going to be tough looking at all this cute stuff over the next few months...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Little Man...

So - today is Carter's 3rd birthday, and we had the sweetest little party yesterday...

Lots of books for his library, and love letters for his scrapbook...

Sweet treats...even sweeter family memories...

All day, it felt a little inappropriate to celebrate while the guest of honor is on the other side of the world...

But either way - his life deserves to be celebrated.

So celebrate, we did. 

Soda, people - not wine coolers....

My preschoolers made these rainbows,
and on the clouds, I wrote things that they wanted to say about Carter.

"Ohh Grandma Ann - if you want to drop one of those cookies...that would be just fine...
...we can make it look like an accident..."

We asked everyone to bring a book for Carter's library - look at all the super fun titles!

One Thing I Know For Sure:  We're going to keep on celebrating Carter's life, until Carter is HOME!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hobby Lobby Emotions :)

Tonight was a very exciting night for me - a first-time-soon-to-be-mommy....

Tonight was prep night for Carter's birthday party!!

We're having a very small party this weekend for Carter's Birthday - just our parents & grandparents.

Tonight...after months of thinking about this party, I got to go get all the fun party supplies. 

So picture it - I'm in Hobby Lobby doing my thing.  I'm looking for the perfect napkins, the best tablecloths, the cutest cupcake liners - and I'm thinking 'noo...not those, they're too blue...'  and 'no way, I would never get those plates for my kids party...' - ha - I know what you're thinking...but I'm not crazy.

Now - let me backtrack to last night.  We had an issue with our homestudy.  I won't go into details, but we were ticked off  very concerned.  We were thinking that we may need to start a new homestudy with a different agency, or maybe get our lawyers involved.  Not fun stuff to be thinking about.  So - we just prayed..."Lord - you're going to have to work this out....and by the way, if You can do it within 24 hours, that would be great...!".  Ha.

20 hours later...it's all worked out. 
Go, God.  :)

Back to the story.

So I'm in Hobby Lobby - a bit emotional from the events of the last 24 hours (and the hormones from the paper pregnancy...!), and a song comes on in the store.  I really wish I could tell you what song it was - but I cannot remember for the life of me (again, the paper pregnancy...).  Anyhow - it was an old (from the 80's) worship song, and it totally touched my heart.  I am not a cry-er at all - but the tears started coming.  Glad the store was empty...!

I pull it together, and head for the scrapbooking stickers.  I just needed wanted a few for his party....and ended up looking at all of them that had anything to do with 'family' or 'home'  :)  As I'm looking, I'm seeing tons of stickers for 'grandpa' or 'grandma', and tons for 'mom', 'dad', 'sister/brother', even 'cousin'.  But something very important is missing.  'Uncle'.  How on earth are there no stickers for 'uncle'?  This is Hobby Lobby - there should be a stinkin' sticker for 'uncle'!! 

Then it hit me.

Uncles like Carter's 'Uncle Ben' do not exist. 

There is nobody like Uncle Ben.


Bring on the tears....

I pull it together...yet again...and I'm finally heading for the check out (with all my adorable party stuff!). 

Then I see myself.

I don't mean - like, I see myself in the mirror and my hair is sticking straight up....

I mean - I see myself, a year from now.

A sweet mommy, loving on her little girl while she waits patiently in the cart.  All I can see is the mommy, until she turns the cart.

And I notice the little sweetie has Down syndrome.

"Ashley - do NOT cry, you are at the checkout, there are people all around you - other people with Down syndrome do exist, seeing someone should not bring you to tears - stop this!!  DO NOT cry!!!"

Tears, again.

One Thing I Know For Sure:  I need to get a tshirt that says 'paper pregnant' if I'm going to continue to have outbreaks like this in public places....  :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Americans, please help..."

This is a guest post by Jake's mom, Debbie. She spent some time in Carter's country in December to help a family bring home their sweet 3 year old boy with Down syndrome. 

These were words spoken to me in broken English by an Eastern European nanny on Dec 22, 2010. You can read that guest post HERE.  Exactly 5 months ago , I was in Eastern Europe helping the Birchbach family bring Elijah home. What an experience that was. I went over quite blinded to this part of the world. I had no idea conditions like this even existed. No idea there are really orphanages. At the time this nanny spoke these words to me, I had only been there for 3 days. I remember so clearly asking God why exactly he had me there. I knew I was there to help with Elijah and be a support to Jill but I knew there was more. As we walked the compound every day with Elijah I had this deep nagging feeling there was more for me. More than being a voice for these children. As we were heading to the airport in the wee hours of the morning to bring Elijah home I wrestled with my thoughts and leaving behind so many precious children. How could I walk away and return to my comfortable life 5000 miles away knowing the truth of how orphans live? My husband had wanted to adopt years ago but in my selfishness I denied him that desire and now we are too old to adopt. Agony is what I was experiencing. Here are the definitions of agony 1) extreme physical or mental suffering. Yup I was suffering mentally. 2) a sudden or intense emotion. big check mark there by intense emotions. The third definition is the best: The struggle that precedes death. It took a trip 5000 miles away from family and another trip back home to realize God's plans for me in all of this. Here is what I now know to be true and what I learned about myself. The labels given to some children..like special needs and disabled...are actually labels belonging to me. I have been the one disabled in my narrow minded thinking. I never understood why anyone would choose to adopt someone elses "cast away". It took taking me out of my comfort zone, my comfortable life style and away from my family for the Lord to show me. That third definition for agony..the struggle that precedes death..is what I needed to experience. I needed to die to my selfishness and narrow minded self in order to be open to this next stage in my life. Dying came with a struggle but God trades ashes for beauty. That beauty is Carter B Gibson, our own little eastern european grandson to love...and boy do I love him! I wish I could somehow get word to that nanny who spoke those words 5 months ago. Word that another orphan has found a forever home. Carter is going to be a world changer! Elijah Birschbach is a world changer. He taught me unconditional love! And in the famous words of Paul Harvey, Now you know the rest of the story!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Hey Baby..."

We all have special people in our lives.  Jake and I are so blessed to say we have TONS of special people in our lives.  Tons.  I'd like to tell you about one of them.

Anita.  You know that sweet woman at the store or in your neighborhood that always greets you with a "hey, baby...!".  That's Anita.  She has been pouring love into us since the day we met.  She's always in our corner.  Always for us.  Being that we're 'Pastors Kids' - this is so important (no - not everyone loves the 'Pastors Kids')!

Friendship knows no age.  I'm telling you.  I've learned this over and over....and I'm proud to say that we have so many friends that are twice our age.  Three times our age, even!  I won't tell you the age difference between Anita and I.  She'd probably smack me. 

So this woman is a friend, a prayer warrior, an encourager, a great hugger, and let me tell you this....she is a hoot.  Hilarious.  And she laughs like nobody else.  Totally infectious. 

Since the day Jake & I got back from our honeymoon, people have asked us "So...when's the baby coming?!".  It's sort of been the running joke of our friends at church.  The running joke that we love to laugh about.  Everyone has anxiously awaited our 'baby announcement' at church. 

Especially Anita. 

So when we made our 'adoption announcement'...a part of me felt like I was letting some people down.

Especially Anita.

I know - it sounds crazy.  I knew she would be excited...but the running joke of 'are you pregnant yet?!' would be over.  And this adoption was so not a part of our plans.  It just 'happend'.  Well - God just made it happen...

Anyhow - back to Anita.  After church, I (cautiously!) approached her. 

"So...what do you think...?"


"I am SO excited!  This is even BETTER than a baby!!!"


See?  Always in our corner.  Always for us.

Yep, that's Anita. 

One Thing I Know For SureBe courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. (Ok, so this is acutally 'One Thing George Washington Knows For Sure'....well said, Mr. President.)

Monday, May 16, 2011


We got something VERY fun in the mail today...

No  - it's not our finished homestudy, or our Golden Ticket (please, we're nowhere near the 'golden ticket' excitement...)!

We got Carter's bedding in the mail today.



It's so adorable....I can't wait until he's IN it!

No - I can't tell you what it is....it's a surprise for our family :)

No crib yet.  Hopefully tomorrow.

And - we figured out why I haven't gotten my passport!  It may have something to do with the fact that I never sent my old passport back...ha.  That's all taken care of now, and I should be getting my new one any day! 

One Thing I Know For Sure:  It's adorable :)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mothers Day, Another Surprise...and Other Stuff :)

So I got some more surprises yesterday!  I was definately not expecting any gifts for mommies day yesterday.  We're just not huge gift people.  Or I should say that I'm not 'gift people'.  I totally stink at picking out gifts.  No originality, no thought - really, I stink.  But Jake (as great as he is...with some help from his {single!} brother) got me something anyways.  He was so thoughtful - when I opened a bracelet with Carter's birthstone, I couldn't believe it!!  SO sweet - and totally unexpected.  (Mental note: Father's Day is fast approaching....) 

And that previously mentioned brother...he got me something, too!  Some clothes for Carter, and sippy cups (also for Carter!)...I can tell he is going to spoil his nephew like crazy.  AND - I think I have a new 'Carter Shopping Partner'.  So much fun.

And now - just now - I realized that quite some time ago I asked you all to comment or email me with questions that you'd like me to answer.  Well...I guess I never answered!  Maybe because I only got ONE question!  C'mon - I know there has to be more!!  Don't be scared.  Commenting is okay.  So - I'll answer this question - and then I'll expect more on this post, or in my email inbox!!  PLEASE  - give me something to blog about!!!!   :)

So - the question...

"Why do you want to change Antonio's name to 'Carter'?
Good question - so glad you asked (you brave soul!)!  First off - 'Antonio' is just his name on Reece's Rainbow.  This is not the name that the nannies in the orphanage are calling him.  We do know what his real first name is - but I'm not sure if we can say it here.  It's similar to Antonio :)  Very Eastern European sounding.  Not so American :)  I'm a name person.  I've picked out (and changed) my children's names a million times.  But I love names.  Unique names.  Jake - on the other hand, likes very 'normal' names.  Matthew.  Joshua.  Timothy.  So - needless to say we had a hard time agreeing on a name.  We went through the alphabet one night, and each picked a name for A, then for B - and when we got to C - we both said 'Carter'!  Okay then...Carter it is!  'Sam' and 'Max' came in as close seconds!  And - if you're just joining our blog, I think you should look at this post.  It's an amazing story and a good read - but it's also 'coincidence' that this family has a child named Carter.  God is so fun that way. 

And a surprise....what a huge surprise.  Somebody loves Carter quite a lot.  After church, I got home and took my Bible out of my purse, and next to my Bible was a white envelope, taped shut - with a whole-lotta something inside.  So, we ripped it open, and found the cutest ransom note (with letters cut out of magazines!!) that said "We Love Carter!".  oh.my.goodness.  Adorable. 

That's not all that was inside.  No, no, no.  As if the note wasn't enough...there was cash.

A lot of cash.

Not $100.

Not $200.

Three hundred dollars.

I don't know who - I don't know when - but what a complete blessing. 

So whoever you are - thank you, so SO much.  Thank you for loving Carter.  Thank you for loving the orphan.  Thank you for saying 'yes' to God.  Thank you.

One Thing I Know For Sure: I should be cleaning instead of blogging....2nd homestudy visit tonite (with the coolest social worker ever!)!!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mommies Day :)


One Thing I Know For Sure:  This time next year, my Mother's Day will not be so quiet :)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Saturday Surprise!!

We had a little surprise in our inbox today (okay, a big surprise...).  Some surprises aren't so nice....the surprise bill in the mail, the surprise meeting at work, the surprise sound of a dog puking at 4am (I know, I know - but it happend to us recently...)....but this surprise is so good & sweet & fun & ADORABLE...!

We got some new photos of our sweet Carter B!  She said it looks like he was just woken up from his nap for the big photo shoot...the drool, the snot, the dirty shirt - I love all of it!!!  And hair - we can see his hair!  We never really knew what was under that hat :)

So...here he is, in all his 'post naptime' glory!

Another bonus?  There will be 8 more sweethearts from his orphanage added to Reece's Rainbow this week sometime!!  Eight!!  Can't wait to meet them, too :)

One Thing I Know For Sure:  We're so in love :)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

"But, what if...."

So...this is it.  Up to this point, it felt like we were just 'talking about' this.  Like there was still a chance it wouldn't happen.  I'd say we're at the point of no return. 

We had our first homestudy visit on Tuesday night.  It was completely perfect.  Better than we could have planned.  Even Moses cooperated! 

In fact, everything has been perfect.  Everything.  The remodeling is almost finished, and everything is turning out even better than we had expected.  Jake has been a total gem.  We were looking for a misplaced document the other day (which still has not been located.....), and I thought for sure he was furious.  Instead - he said "well...I need to be more organized.  I'll find it.".  Total gem. 

Yesterday, my hours at work officially cut to 'part time'.  I'm still going to be working 33 hours a week...but there just haven't been enough hours in the day to get everything done.  So - I'm done at 1:00...and even Moses seems happier. 

So - back to 'the point of no return'.  When we first started this process, I just couldn't believe we were doing this.  "Are you sure?"  I would keep asking Jake.  "Please - if you're going to change your mind, do it now...".  And now - the homestudy is near finished, dossier documents are being faxed, i600a is compiled, benefits are being planned (and showers!)....and I'm getting the jitters. 

Are we doing the right thing?  I mean - I know this is the right thing for Carter.  But is this really the right thing for us?  Have we really thought this through?  Have we really prayed about this as much as we should?  Shouldn't we have done things like everyone else, and just had a baby the old fashioned way?

 And then come the what-ifs..........

what if we don't raise our funds?
what if his country closes before we can get to him?
what if this is the hardest thing we ever do?
what if this is more work than we can handle?
what if he's more low functioning than we think?
what if he's more low functioning than we want?
what if he has more medical concerns?
what if he doesn't bond to us when we meet him?
what if we don't bond to him when we meet him?
what if our families don't accept him like they would a newborn?
what if he's not walking?
what if friends shy away because they don't know how to act around him?
what if family shys away because they don't know how to act around him?
what if our other children won't get the attention they need, because he'll get so much of it?
what if our marriage suffers because of his disability?
what if this isolates us from our community/church/family/friends?
what if we are never, ever the same?

what if we are never, ever the same?
what if this is the biggest blessing we ever receive?
what if this is the best thing that will ever happen to our marriage?
what if he brings us closer to everyone around us?
what if he teaches us how to love?
what if he teaches our other children lessons that they'll never learn elsewhere?
what if...

what if...we just take one step from where we are, and watch God be glorified in our lives?

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us...but to your name be the glory, for your unfailing love & faithfulness"
Psalm 115:1

The 'what if's' will come & go...I'm sure.  But we just have this feeling that this journey is about so much more than us - or even Carter.  I don't know what that means...but something is brewing.  My heart is heavy - and Satan is on the prowl.  Yes, something is definately brewing.

 "God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels."  Ephesians 6:10-12 The Message

One Thing I Know For Sure:  I've got my boxing gloves on....

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Okay, then.....

You know that super cute, super fun fundraiser that I had planned for all of my happy blogging friends?! 

Well - it's cancelled.  That's right. 
Forget about it!

Apparently, Etsy shops are not supposed to give donations....
...funny, though, that I had lots of ladies willing excited to donate....

So of course, somebody (I do know who this 'somebody' is...) complained to Etsy,
and my account got deactivated.

Geesh...couldn't this person just have sent me an email informing me that she didn't care to donate?! 


BUT - I am so grateful that all of THESE shops were willing to donate...so, please, check out their shops - and give them the business that you would have donated to our fundraiser :) 
Yea, it's okay....

Hate ironing?  Me too. 
BUT...this adorable ironing board cover will make your ironing time MUCH less dreadful :) 

SO many to choose from...here are a few of my favorites:

**Thank you to Compelled to Craft for donating**


Spring is here, and my home-decorating obsessions thoughts have turned to anything 'nest'. 
And this family nest is at the top of my list!

**Thank you to Dear Jes for donating**


I know two grandma's-to-be who would love to have this super cute tshirt! 

**Thank you to Zoey's Attic for donating**


I fell in love with this necklace the moment I saw it...so special & unique!
If you are chosen for this prize, you will get to choose the following:

**Thank you to Silver By Keri for donating**


I'm sure you never feel stress, tension, or any form of anxiety.... 
But I do. 
So I thought that this neck/shoulder wrap & eye pillow would be a super steal
(you know...in case the day comes when you might feel stress...).

Here are some of my favorites:

**Thank you to Little Peeps for donating**


Do you look like 'June Cleaver' when you're working in the kitchen? 
Me either.
But this adorable apron will definately make you feel like the cutest mommy on the block!

Here are some of my favorites:

**Thank you to Pig & Company for donating**


I LOVE scrapbooking - but I just do not have the time right now.
I'm sure you can relate :)
Wouldn't you love to have someone do all the 'tough stuff' and then just plop in your photos?
Well - here's the (super adorable) solution!!

**Thank you to Heirlooms by Lorraine for donating**


And also, check out these shops - these ladies stepped in @ the last minute, willing to donate items :)





Now - shop away :) 
If you still feel like donating to Carter's fund - go for it!
We won't stop you :)
And...it's tax deductable!

One Thing I Know For Sure: I feel like sending some angry emails...but I won't :)
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