Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It's officially official...Lucy has a real family.  I posted about her here yesterday.

You don't even know how it blesses my heart to know that this girl will be home in just a few months.

You don't know what it's like to fall in love with this girl's Reece's Rainbow photo.

You don't know what it's like to then find out that she's in your son's groupa.

You don't know what it's like to see her smiling face, day after day.

You don't know what it's like to have to leave her there.

You don't know what it's like to pray every night that this girls family would come for her.

You don't know what it's like to get an email that says 'Lucy might have a family coming...!'.

You don't know what it's like.

Okay, well - maybe you do.

But I've gotta say, it's pretty darn great.

I set up a blog for this family today...please visit by clicking HERE :)  Follow their blog...support them throughout their journey.  Leave them encouraging comments.

You don't even know how important that is.

They are days away from heading to Eastern Europe.  DAYS away.  They need your prayers, above anything else.

But also - they need more funds.  Adding Lucy, of course, added to their 'grand total'.  Adding Lucy was a step of faith.  They obeyed, and now they're trusting.  Trusting God to provide the rest of the funds.

Is God speaking to you?  If you gave even $10 towards their adoption, they would be hugely blessed.  What a beautiful Christmas gift for Lucy!  To donate, click here.  It's super easy...even if you've never done it before.

Early in our process, a sweet mama emailed me with some posts that she had done about Carter.  Her family had donated to Carter's Angel Tree funds for two years - and her kids said "We're helping this boy buy his parents!".

Well - Lucy doesn't want toys for Christmas.  She wants a mama and a daddy.  Please - donate.  Help this girl 'buy some parents'!!

One Thing I Know For Sure: Visit.  Donate.  PRAY!


 Someone special is on the "My Family Found Me" page of Reece's Rainbow.

That's right - Carter's buddy, Lucy, has a family.

They'll be meeting her SOON.

And there's a very, very, VERY good chance that she will feel the love of a mommy & daddy before Christmas.

This picture has been one of my favorites.  It's like she's looking at Carter, wondering why him.  Why does he get a family, and she doesn't?

Well...hold on, Lucy.  Your family is coming.


Will share more when I can :)

One Thing I Know For Sure: Merry Christmas for LUCY!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Thanksgiving!

Hoping your Thanksgiving was perfect.  Carter had a great first Thanksgiving.  He went to two different houses, with two different families...and he did super.  At each place, he was a little skeptical at first - but he warmed up quickly and had so much fun meeting all those new people!

First Stop - Jake's Parents' House....

Carter's Great Grandpa Joe.  Despite what you may think - he is NOT saying 'pull my finger!'  :)

Carter's Aunt Carol and cousins Nick & Chloe
Carter & Poppy
Second Stop - Ashley's Grandparents' House....

Carter got toys!  A super adorable shape/counting cookie jar!  He LOVES it.
He enjoyed Katelyn & Josie's electronics :)

It really was a perfect day.  And we were reminded how very much we have to be thankful for.

But it won't stop on Thanksgiving day.  It can't.  Keep the thankfulness flowing....!


Carter went on his first Target outing on Saturday.  He did so great - he just sat in the cart and took in all of his surroundings.  And I love that I now can talk to myself while weaving through the aisles without feeling like a lunatic.  If anyone looks at me funny...I'll just motion that there's a kid in my cart.

So there.


He also went to his first church service on Sunday.  He was at the Thanksgiving Eve service, too - but that's not quite the same as church :)

This kid blew us away during church...he was SO good.  He hardly made a peep.  Except for the occasional 'da da da DA!' and 'laaa la laaaaa la' :)  We made sure we had cheerios on hand, and a few toys....and that's about all it took to keep him quiet!  Unlike many churches, we do not have a nursery - we're in the process of building a new church.  So it's important that he (sort of) learns to be quiet during church.  And by the time he has it down pat, we'll be in the new building - which will have a nice mothers room!  Would it be wrong for me to say he needs a diaper change, just so I can escape to the mothers room, where there will be cozy rocking chairs?!  Hmm...

We were on for the first advent reading - which was this week.  It's a nice tradition that our church has, and it was a treat do to the first reading.  About 30 seconds before we were about to go up front to do the reading...we smelled something.  Yep - perfect timing, Carter.  We decided to risk it and wait until after the reading.  It turned out okay - and Carter did good on his debut in front of our church family.

Oh, and the reading?  It was about waiting.  Waiting for something that we want right now.  Fitting, no?  That's what happens when our Pastor also happens to be Jake's Dad.  :)

One Thing I Know For Sure: Thanking God for so many things today, and everyday!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


We have so, so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for a daddy who took care of a three year old this morning, so that a mommy could sleep in.

I'm thankful for small miracles, like this....

I know it's blurry....but Moses is licking Carter, and Carter doesn't care!!

I'm thankful for happy doctor visits, like this....

As as I look back, I'm thankful for this....

Paperwork.....my least favorite....

 And this.....
Apostilled paperwork...UGH!

And this....
Scary apartments!

Because it produced this.

And right now, there is nothing better.


The (very, very small!) local newspaper asked our family to write an article about thanksgiving for this week's paper.  Well...here it is, for you - my sweet blog friends.  I have stopped reading it, because every time I do I wish I had changed this, or rewrote this part, or edited this out.

That's the beauty, though.  Because if I'm really serious about this 'thanksgiving' stuff, then I'll be thankful for an un-cohesive, somewhat sloppy article....because it means that my mind was on things like a toddler crawling around my chair, what I'll make for dinner for my sweet husband, the little onesies and socks that need laundering....

Really, nothing better.


Anyhow...the article....

"Thanksgiving.  It was our goal to be home with our new son by Thanksgiving.  And after 34 long, tiring days in Ukraine – we are home.  Our son, Carter, is home.  He will never spend another lonely night in a crowded orphanage.  He will never be force fed mystery mush.  He will never again wonder why nobody is attending to his cries.  Three year-old Carter was welcomed into his family just a few days ago, never to go back to his old life.  Never, ever again. 

One of the things we love most about Carter, his extra chromosome, is exactly what caused his birth parents to choose an orphanage for their son, instead of their home.  In many countries around the world, Down syndrome is a curse.  It’s shameful.  It’s hidden away in the quiet hallways of dark orphanages all around Eastern Europe.  After the orphanage, these beautiful kids with great potential get sent to mental institutions.  Many of them are tied to beds, rarely changed, even starved. 

Because of Down syndrome. 

But we know something they don’t.  We know that Down syndrome is not a curse, but a blessing.  While many families are ‘surprised’ by Down syndrome, we chose it.  We receive the blessing of special needs adoption with open arms. 

Since we got home on November 15th, things have sometimes been hard.  Carter has had to adjust to different foods, a new timezone, strange surroundings, unfamiliar smells – my husband, Jake, and I have had to adjust to little hands all over everything, crying at 4:00am, and diapers.  Life has been very, very different these last few days. 

And we choose thanksgiving.  No, not the meal.  Not the gathering.  The action.  Thanksgiving is an action.  It’s a choice.  And we choose it.  When things begin to get messy and complicated, we will choose thanksgiving.  When life throws things at us that we never saw coming, we will choose thanksgiving.  And when life is really, really good and we’re feeling so abundantly blessed – we’ll choose thanksgiving then, too. 

We made our goal – home by Thanksgiving.  While we were in Ukraine, our mouths were watering as we anticipated the real, traditional food that we’d be enjoying in a few short weeks at the Thanksgiving table.   And now, Thanksgiving has a whole new meaning.  Yes – we’re still anticipating Grannie’s rolls and Mimi’s stuffing…but it doesn’t end there.  It can’t end there. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of reading that Americans should feel content because they have nicer homes, better food, more stuff than 90% of the rest of the world…or whatever the statistic is now.  So because we have more than everyone else, we should be thankful?  That is so, so backwards.  Forget about what you have!  Forget about what you don’t have.  Forget about what you want.  Or even what you think you need.  It’s not about that. 

It is about waking up in the morning, and thanking God.  Thanking Him for your children – however frustrating they are.  Thanking Him for your family – however dysfunctional they are.  Thanking Him for your home – however unkempt it is.  Thanking Him.  For anything.  For everything. 

That is choosing thanksgiving.  That is the essence of being thankful.  It was never intended to be wrapped up in a box, and only opened one day a year.  It’s a lifestyle. 

We thank God for Down syndrome…because we receive it as a blessing.  We thank God for Carter’s screaming fits before bedtime…because it means that he’s home.  

It’s a choice, and we choose it. 


Praying your Thanksgiving is filled with love from family & friends, and sweet, sweet fellowship.

Nothing better, friends.  Nothing better.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Don't have much to be thankful for?  Be thankful, anyway.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One Week!

++This was supposed to post yesterday - but, alas - mommy duties called, and so you're enjoying this (very long) blog post one-day-late.  Happy Belated One Week, little love.

Today, Carter has been home for one week.  And it feels like he's been here all along.  Yes, we're still adjusting (although we've got the bedtime thing down pat!).  And we have a long way to go - but it feels like Carter has always been a part of this little family.  

A little sneak peak from our Homecoming Photos :)
That's how God works, I guess.  That's how He binds us together, supernaturally.  What a beautiful, incredible thing.  


Two nights ago, Carter started sleeping in his own bedroom instead of in our room.  This was much, much sooner than we had expected - but he sleeps in his bedroom at nap every day, and seems to sleep better in his toddler bed vs. his pack & play.  So - we thought, why not?!  He did great.  He even slept until after 6:00a!  

Of course, I was up at 4:00a, just waiting for his cries to come through on the baby monitor.  Well, our little guy surprised me.  He just slept right through.  THAT is a gift.  And I'll take it!

Last night, well...that's a bit of a different story.  We woke up at 2:00a to the sound of Carter doing his favorite 'ahhh - ah - ahhh - AH.  ahhh - ah - ahhh - AH.'.  Never a good sign, much like Moses' prancing. So I came down, only to find that he got out of his bed.  He was on the floor, rockin' it out in front of his fan.

Ohhhh no.  I am NOT having this!  After about an hour, he was back asleep, and slept until 7:00a.  I guess the toddler bed is changing back into a crib -  in the very, very near future.

Lord have mercy.


Carter got his first 'real' haircut yesterday!  He did GREAT - hardly moved!  Well...as long as I was shoving cheerios in his mouth :)  Whatever works, right?!


It's official.  Moses is HOME.  Dwelling in the same house as Carter.  On Thursday, there was a teeny, tiny bit of us that thought this might never be possible!

For the past few days, we've been showing Carter videos of Springer Spaniels on Youtube.  The first time - he was terrified.  He screamed.  He clawed at the computer.  But each time, he became a little more comfortable.

We decided that today would be the day.  Eventually, they had to be reintroduced, and today was it.  We realized that even if we waited 6 weeks to reintroduce them - Carter would still be scared.  So, we might as well just do it.

Before Moses came, Jake and I were just dying of laughter.  It was one of those moments that you wish you had on video...but if you did, you would never, ever share it with anyone else :)  Picture all three of us in front of the computer.  Jake is dancing around the chair with a stuffed puppy singing 'sweet puppy, good puppy, nice puppy, cute puppy!', I'm petting and kissing the computer screen - both of us saying 'ohhh....thats a nice puppy....' in our cheesiest baby voices.  All while we're watching a video of Springer puppies, set to the tune of 'Glamorous'.  Seriously?!  Is this really happening?!  Haaa....oh man.  We had a good laugh.

Carter went down for a good nap around 11:45, so we decided that Jake's mom should bring Moses during nap time and let Moses get used to the new smells, etc.  When Carter woke around 3:00p, we would change him, and slowly bring him out into the living room where Moses would be casually laying on the floor, screaming 'come and pet me' with his adorableness.

Everything went exactly as planned, until I sat down on the floor with Carter, and Moses' nose touched Carter's foot.  Barely.  And Carter lost it.  The next hour or so was Carter screaming, and Moses being the sweetest, quietest dog ever.  As the night went on, Carter eventually calmed down and even sat on the floor a few feet from Moses, playing contently with his toys.

After bath, Carter was laying on the floor with his blankie, and Moses was inches away.  Progress!  By bedtime, Carter was exhausted, and went down without crying at all.

Carter woke at 5:30a, I took him downstairs to change him, and kept Moses locked up for a while.  When we did bring Moses out, Carter was in his room with the baby gate up so that Moses couldn't get in.  That will be his 'safe place' for a while.  Carter did GREAT with this.  He didn't fuss at all, even with Moses peeking his head over the top :)

Later in the morning, I brought Carter out into the living room where Moses was.  He wasn't on a leash, so he immediately came to greet us.  Carter didn't like this so much - but really, he's just going to have to get used to it.  I let Moses lick his face - Carter screamed, but he's going to learn that Moses is nice - he's gentle - he's soft....and eventually the fear factor should fade away.  At this point, I don't know how long 'eventually' will be...but I'm hoping it will be 'days' and not 'weeks' or,  Lord have mercy - 'months'.  Lord - help me!  I know that this will take time, and I know that eventually they'll be buddies - but right now, it's hard.  Just plain HARD!

I talked to Jake and told him that I think we need more baby gates.  It would be ideal to section off the kitchen for Moses, and let Carter have free reign of the rest of the house.  Then at least Moses is near Carter - which will hopefully help him get used to Moses.  When Jake got home, he ordered baby gates.  They had to be ordered, because the stores don't carry 6ft gates.

And they'll be here December 8th.

Are you kidding me?!  Ohhhh....Lord.

Carter has been fine - as long as Moses is behind the baby gate.  Although, at one point I brought Carter out of his room into the kitchen - Moses sniffed his feet and Carter was able to keep his cool.  That's a huge step.

Even after Moses was locked up, I set Carter down and he was constantly scanning the room for Moses.  This is not just a 'stubborn toddler' thing (like bedtimes were).  Carter is truly scared of Moses.  It breaks our hearts to see Carter so scared...but he will have to learn that Moses is gentle and safe.

So - we'll just keep taking it slowly - step by step.  Eventually, they will be buds.  I just know it.

Where it stands now, Moses gets a huge sparkly gold star.

Heck, he can have a gold bone.  He's been amazing.  He has absolutely hit it out of the park.  He's totally rockin' this 'big brother' thing...and we could NOT be more proud of our furry boy!  Big Christmas presents for Moses this year!  Way to go, bud.  Way to rock it.

We brought Moses in as Carter was eating his breakfast.  Carter paused - gave Moses a few sassy sniffs, and kept on eating.  After he was done, I kept Carter in his high chair, and let Moses wander around.  Carter did GREAT.  He covered his eyes a few times, but there was no screaming, no clawing to get away....it was super.  Way to go - Carter!


One Thing I Know For Sure: Soon, they'll be pals.  I'm convinced.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lots of Rambling....

Things are going good.  Carter is adjusting well...he's playing, eating, and sleeping perfectly.  Really, couldn't ask for more!

That stuff on his face is like a miracle cream.  Liquid gold in this house.  Read on fmi....
Just a few random thoughts....

Never, ever did I realize that as a parent, I'd be googling things like 'changing my toddlers poop schedule'. Or getting excited about a commercial for Neosporin Lip Healing Cream.  This parenthood stuff is weird, ya know?!

"Wait - I'm not supposed to do this?!"
Did you know I have a bunch of blog groupies in Roseville, CA?  I'm not really sure if blog groupies are similar to Rock & Roll groupies...?  But seriously - I don't understand why anyone who doesn't know me personally would want to read this blog!  I guess it might have something to do with sweet baby Olivia :) (Her family lives in Cali - but she is in Carter's former orphanage - and Jake, Rachel, & I did an 'operation get-a-photo-and-deliver-baby-blanket-to-Olivia' while we were there.  Mission accomplished!).   Anywho.... (do they use lame words like 'anywho' in Cali?  Probably not.  Way too cool for that, right?  Do they use the word 'cool'?  Okay, now I'm intimidated.)..... I'll try to keep it lively for all of you sunny, perky Californians :)

Reading books in our jammies...SO much fun!
I have been getting so many emails from soon-to-be adoptive families!  I love it!  I'm definitely not a pro at this adoption stuff, or even Reece's Rainbow stuff...and I learned everything I know from this woman.  Now SHE is amazing.  But...I do love getting questions about the process!  So please, if you have any - send them my way!  It will give me something to do during nap time :)  Gibsons 15 (at) sbcglobal (dot) net :)  

Okay - this post is all over the place.  Sort of like my mind these last few days.  So....welcome to my world :)  I realize that after a post like this, I just may lose half my followers...ha.  Anyhow - remember the first day we got home - Carter was screaming, and then we realized that my bag (with our camera) was left at the airport?  And remember how the Gander family went to the airport to get it for us?  Yea - I do, too.  So - I got my camera back, and it looks like somebody was having some fun with it.  Please tell me you knew I'd use this as blackmail?!  Really, Ganders - you should know me by now!!

There he is - our very own AWANA commander!  I decided not to post the photo of Jesse sleeping on the recliner with makeup all over his face :) Okay - actually, we really love this guy!  And his amazing wife!  And all 3 of their incredible kids!!  So, the whole family is pretty great.  We tease - but we love.  Laughter is good, good medicine.  And I got a good laugh when I saw this photo...so, thanks for being a good sport, Jesse!


While in Ukraine, our amazing, incredible, totally lovable driver - Niko, had a CD that he played.  This song was on almost every time we were in the car.  The first time we heard it - we wanted to laugh, but knew that if it was on a CD, then Niko probably loved it :)

Well guess what?!  I looked it up - and here it is, just for you (and Rach - because I'm pretty sure it's her fave, now!)....

It's grown on me.

"one way ticket...one way ticket....to the groove, or - mooooon, or...roooof?...or something...".

Those of you heading to Ukraine soon - I'm sure you'll hear this song.  Think of us, would you?  And may it remind you that you're there, going through some tough stuff - but soon, you'll be HOME with your child...just like us!


Today was Jake's first day back at work.  Which means that it's my first day home alone :)  It's been good.  Although, around 8:30a, I looked at the clock expecting it to be much, much later :)  Boredom has set in....!  I know that once Carter is able to be taken out of the house more often, things will be better.  Lunch with friends, the library, swimming lessons....we'll definitely find ways to keep busy.  But for now, boredom it is!

In fact, Carter was so bored this morning that he fell asleep during play time :)  Only for a few minutes - just enough time to snap a photo!

And can I just say, this is my favorite thing that Carter does right now.  It's the giggle walk, and it's so, so sweet.  It just melts my heart every time....I hope he still reacts this way when he's 16.

Okay, I guess that would be awkward.  So, I'll just say that I hope he keeps doing this for a long time.  Or at least a few months :)

Great, right?!


One Thing I Know For Sure: Mommyhood....love it :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Left The House.

Okay, before you freak - I don't mean 'I left the house' as in, I had a quarter-life crisis and left wearing my pink bathrobe while my husband and child were left screaming inside.

I mean - I left the house...I left Carter's side for the first time since we broke him out of the orphanage.

I went shopping.

For an hour.  But it felt like an eternity.

I didn't want to leave....but for some reason Jake was shoving me out the door.


Okay - I think it was obvious that I needed to get out.  And how sweet is my mom?  She had $30 in Kohls Cash, and dropped it off for me this morning.

So - I left.  I came back.  And I feel so, so much better.  Not that I felt terrible before - but the fresh air and retail therapy did me some good.  And guess what?!  I hardly spent money on myself....it was mostly for Carter.  But wow, huh?  I could have spent it all on myself...but I didn't :)  Go, me.  


And now I'm stalling.  Because I am supposed to be writing an article for the local newspaper about being thankful.  It's supposed to be done soon.  And I'm seriously lacking inspiration.

Really, I'm thankful.  Super thankful.  Don't doubt my thankful-ness.  But words allude me today.  Surprising - because it's a perfect time for writing.  Lights are low - candles lit - toddler (and husband!) sleeping - heck, it's even raining!

And I can't find the words to express how thankful I am.

I've got a cup of hot cocoa in my favorite mug...I'm wearing my favorite sweats...I've got the perfect playlist throwing all my favorites at me....and seriously, not an ounce of inspiration.

I may have also tried to find inspiration in 'photo booth'.

Okay...didn't work.

No - I have no shame.  If you're going to read along, you're going to know the real me - unkept hair and all.

Anyhow - back to being thankful.  I know - it's more than pumpkin pie (Rachel!) and turkey.  I get it, totally.  But how do I even begin to put into words what I'm feeling?  Where do I even start?  My heart screams thankfulness from son up to son down (pun totally intended).  But I'm having a bad connection from my heart to my head.

Well...when it's done (if it's done?), I'll share here.

One Thing I Know For Sure:  Thanksgiving.  Not a day, not a feeling.  It's an action.  Maybe I found my inspiration...?

Thursday, November 17, 2011


The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind!  I've been taking advantage of having Jake home - he goes back to work on Monday, and I'm totally bummin'!  So I've been trying to get lots of little projects done now, so I don't have to worry about them next week.

On Thursday, we went to introduce Carter to our boy Moses.  Well...let's just say it was a total disaster.  Terrible with a capital 't'.  Carter absolutely freaked.  Screamed bloody murder.  We could not get Moses out of the room quick enough.  It was bad.

Moses?  He was great.  Didn't even mind Carter's blood-curdling scream!  Way to go, Mose.  Soon, you'll get to come home and be with your family.  Just a few more days, bud.  Or maybe weeks.  We'll see....

But can I be honest?  We were so, so sad.  Really - pretty crushed. We miss Moses so much...call us crazy, but we just want BOTH our boys home.  Not sure where to go from here - but after Carter's reaction, it's pretty clear that we can't just try to reintroduce them.  We're thinking about taking video of Moses, and having Carter watch it at home, where he feels safe.

Who knows.


Carter wanted to show you all his Green & Gold pride :)  Pretty adorable, if I do say so myself!

C'mon...even if you're not a Packer fan, isn't this the cutest thing you've ever seen?!

We also took Carter out of the house for the first time.  He likes his carseat, and the car seems to put him to sleep almost immediately.

If you look closely, you'll see his hat has little ears!!  So sweet, right?!
He's been enjoying his bath time even more at home than at the apartment - this bathtub is like an olympic swimming pool compared to that crummy shower in Ukraine!


And me?  Well...I've been enjoying the simple things.

It's true, babe.  When we're together - every day is a snow day.  It's been so good having you home...and it will be so hard when you go back to work.  Miss you already :)

I've also been thoroughly enjoying songs like this (yes, I'm a closet fan....) and this....I never knew how fun it would be to dance around OUR house, with OUR three-year-old, to this music.  Pretty great.

The simple things, right?!


Most of the time, Carter is an absolute honey.  Nothing but hugs, giggles, and snuggles.  Really - 90% of the time, he's an angel. But every so often, he loses it.  Take nap time, for instance.  In Ukraine, naps were no problem.  Here?  Huge problem.  Like, screaming for an hour before he falls asleep.  It's tough, ya know?  Because we don't know if he's crying because he wants to keep playing (like any 3 year old) or if he's scared.  So right now, leaving him in his crib to fall asleep while he's screaming isn't really an option.  Because if he IS scared, it would be detrimental for us to just leave him alone (abandonment/loneliness/anxiety/etc).  On the other hand - if he just wants to play, and we get him up every time he cries, then we're teaching him that all he needs to do is throw a little fit in order to get his way.  Also not good, right?  I can't say that I'm not tempted to let him sleep in the bath tub.  Ha :)

However, we're fairly sure that Carter is just a typical, stubborn 3 year old.  Because he throws the same fits when one of us is in the shower - and he wants in, too.

Yea.  Like I said - this stuff is hard.


After 3 days home, the laundry is officially done and put away, and....well - hmm....I guess that's about all we've done since coming home.  I could kick myself for not doing xyz before we left...because that means that I have to do it now.  But - I guess those things will get done in time.  It's hard for me not to worry about the cabinets being organized...or other random, equally ridiculous things.  Maybe I have a problem...I don't know :)  In all seriousness, though - I think the hardest part about staying home will be for me to just let it go.  It's okay if I don't fold the laundry the minute it's done.  It's okay if my floors aren't sparkling.  They weren't really sparkling before, anyways.

Darn you, June Cleaver.  This is your fault!


One Thing I Know For Sure: I burnt some apples on the stove today, Carter had a massive fit before nap, there might be dishes in the sink....but Carter got more love than he knows what to do with!  I'd say it was a good day....!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

No Place Like Home...

We are home.  Carter is HOME.  For good.  What an incredible feeling.

He traveled WONDERFULLY.  We couldn't have expected anything better.  He had a bit of a fit in the Frankfurt airport - which led to me walking around with him in the carrier for about an hour.  Fun times... :)

The 8 hour flight from Frankfurt to Chicago stunned us.  This guy did not make a single peep.  Not one.  He didn't sleep for more than about 45 minutes (in 20+ hours...) - but he did incredible.  He sat so nice in his seat, and just played with his toys.  When we landed in Chicago, we had a few issues with his visa/immigration - but the Lord totally blessed us and we were out of there in minutes.  We thought we'd miss our flight to Appleton - but again, He made a way for us to the front of the security line.  Without the Lord's favor - we would have absolutely, without a doubt, missed our flight.  Phew!

We pulled into the gate in Appleton, and we could see people in the window...people there to meet Carter, and welcome him home.  Getting off the plane was surreal.  We stopped just inside the airport, and prayed.  We couldn't leave this journey without thanking God.  What an incredible work He has done.  We thanked him for Carter - for his life - for this journey - for the people who prayed us home - and for this new, wild, incredible journey that lies ahead of us.

And then we started walking.  And we heard cheers - cheers for Carter.  We saw so much love ahead of us - and as we walked out of this journey and into the new one...well - we were overwhelmed.  Carter, of course, put on a good show...he was his 'best' self!  Even after no sleep, he was happy and content.  He walked around a bit - and laughed.  He laughed his sweetest, best laugh.  Does he know?  Did he understand?  These are the people that prayed him home. These are the people that have encouraged and supported us every step of the way.  Did he get it?

Pretty incredible.


We knew that it was only a matter of time before Carter had a major meltdown.  After no sleep - WE were ready to have our own meltdowns!  Thankfully, he waited until well after we were home.  And we haven't had our meltdowns yet - maybe they're still coming...! He did some exploring - mostly of his new toys :)  Let me tell you, he was so tired of the same 5 toys in the apartment!

Then, we went to set him in his highchair for some dinner, and he lost it.  Screamed uncontrollably for about an hour.  I mean, uncontrollably.  I just snuggled him, rocked him, and kissed him.  Because really, that's all I could do.  This new place has to be wildly overwhelming for him.  Eventually, he cried himself to sleep around 7:00p, and I laid him in his bed upstairs.

He slept straight through the night - until about 7:30a!  Praise the LORD....I was ready for a real 'newborn baby first night home' after all that screaming :)

Did I mention that in the midst of his screaming, we realized that I left my purse/bag at the airport?!  With an expensive camera inside?!  Yea.  That discussion was fun.  But - Gander family to the rescue!  They went back to the airport, and it was still sitting where I set it.  Again - thanks, God!  And Ganders, too :)

Anyhow - this morning, Carter woke up happy.  We gave him a bath to wash off all that travel slime, and he's been exploring like crazy ever since.  Every door, every wall, every toy - it's all so new and interesting.

Welcome to your new life, bud.  Pretty great.


I have to share this, because it's so, so sweet.  Jake is so thoughtful - I know I got very lucky.  But this - well, this totally surprised me.  While we were in Ukraine, there was a shop that we passed by every time we walked to and from the orphanage.  I saw something in the window that I fell in love with...even though Jake thought it was, well...not so great :)  But one day we went inside to see how much it was.

720 grivna.  About $90USD.  Okay, nevermind :)  We bought lots of souvenirs for our home...so this just wasn't necessary.

Every day, we walked by - and Jake would crack jokes about that crazy thing I wanted.  "Why do you want that?  It's so....weird!  It won't even go in our house!  Where will you put it?!"

"I know...it's weird.  But I love it.  And I'll put it on my nightstand so you don't have to look at it!".

Well - last night, after we put Carter in his bed - at HOME - for the very first time, Jake gave me a gift.  A gift that came all the way from Ukraine.  A gift that he bought one day, snuck in his suitcase, for this very moment.

What a guy I have :)


Well - the bags are all unpacked, laundry is 1/3 of the way done, and our boy is napping in his crib downstairs.  Yes  - homecoming photos will be coming soon (I didn't take any, because we had a photographer friend there!  But if anyone else has any that they'd like to email to me, I'd love to have them!)....I can't wait to see them!  Yes - I will continue to blog as much as I can.  It's a journal for me - maybe even a wordy scrapbook.  Hopefully, I'll be able to blog a few times a week...hopefully :)  Yes - it's true.  Carter is home.  Right where he belongs.

One Thing I Know For Sure: "God sets the lonely in families...." Psalm 68:6a

Monday, November 14, 2011

Almost There....

In just a few hours, we'll be boarding a plane.

A plane for home.  Home.

HOME.  Forever, home.

Seven and a half months of paperwork, notarizing, praying, mailing, apostilling, crying....

The first photo we fell in love with...

The Carter Benjamin Benefit....

All that paperwork....
My shower....

Still more paperwork....

The emotional first meeting....
Watching a scared little boy transform into our SON.

...and it's finally here.  Seven and a half months of waiting.  Waiting for this day.  This hour.  This moment...this moment in history, when Carter meets his family and becomes an American citizen.

In less than 24 hours, Carter will be home.  He will be seeing everyone who has helped to bring him home.  He will see tears from people who have cried out to God on his behalf.  He will see people who have been anxiously waiting for his little feet to come walking into their lives.  People who have been almost as excited about Carter coming home as we have!  People who have shared in our joys, in our sorrows...in our journey to Home.

He will see love, in a beautiful form.  Real, true, raw love.  Love from people that have never met him, never seen him, never touched his silky soft skin.  But love, nonetheless.

But as we leave, please - let's not forget.  Let's not forget where Carter came from.  His roots.  His past.  His story.  It's not a fairytale - that's for sure.  And please, please - let's not forget what we leave behind.  The children that we fell in love with at the orphanage...well, they will not be boarding a plane for home.  They will not be snuggled in to bed tonight.  They will not be enjoying their bath time tomorrow.  They won't be meeting all the family and friends that have prayed them home.

Please - friends.  Don't forget about that which we are grieved to leave behind.

They're not just photos on Reece's Rainbow.  They are children.  Children who get changed - children who eat - children who cry - children who laugh...please - remember these children.

Right now - Reece's Rainbow has a really great program going on.  I plan on participating once we get home.  It's called the Angel Tree.  If you donate $35 or more to a child's fund, you will receive a Christmas ornament with that child's photo on it.  Someone dear to our hearts donated to Carter's fund, before we even knew about Reece's Rainbow.  They have not one, but two Christmas ornaments with Carter's photo on it.  (Click the blue writing to read about this really cool story).  This year - they will receive a third...not from Reece's Rainbow, but from Carter himself.

If you have never donated - or never even visited Reece's Rainbow, please - do it now.  I'm talking to YOU!  Yes - you!  WCF Family...I'm talking to you!  Sennholz family...I'm talking to you!  Gibson family...I'm talking to you!  Facebook friends...yes, even you!  People I've never met, and probably never will meet...I'm even talking to you.  Do it for Carter.  Do it for the kids that wait.  $35 dollars makes a huge, huge difference.  And as you hang that ornament on your tree this year, you can pray for that child - pray for a forever family - and maybe one day, you'll be blessed enough to watch that child come home.  Home for good.

Just like Carter.

There are several kids in Carter's orphanage that need homes.  You can donate to their account - just $35 - and receive a Christmas ornament for your tree, with that child's photo on it.

Click the child's name below - and scroll to the bottom where it says $xyz from Angel Tree donations.  Click 'Angel Tree' and find the child's name and photo - click donate.  That's IT!  Easy.

These two girls are beautiful.  We saw Lucy every single day.  She is a happy, smiley girl who just wants a mama.  And Nadine is a little dolly.  I touched her soft hands and cheeks.  We told these girls that a mommy and daddy would be coming for them soon....we hope.



And these boys from Carter's orphanage need donations, too!





Don't do it later - or avoid it because it seems too hard to do all that clicking.  Do it now.  Please.

So - here we come.  Home for good.  Wisconsin....brace yourself for Carter Benjamin Gibson!  He's coming HOME!

One Thing I Know For Sure:
Paperwork & Travel Expenses = $18,273
Total Days In Ukraine = 34
Airfare = $6,281
Having Carter Home For Good = PRICELESS!

++ NOW - go donate.  And tell me that you did!  I want to know the families that will have these kids' ornaments on their Christmas tree!

The Countdown Is On...!

This morning, Carter let us sleep until 7:30a!  Go figure....today we actually wanted to wake early, so we could go to bed early...in hopes of being more awake at 2:00a tomorrow when we need to get up to get to the airport.  Okay...so I guess that backfired :)

This is how he was sleeping when Jake woke up at 4:00a....ha :)  I'm pretty sure he woke up in the night - decided to play a little bit, and then just dozed off mid-playtime.  :)

He woke up happy, and smelly :)  So he started his day with a bath.  Niko picked us up around 9:45a to take us to Carter's medical appointment.  She weighed him, measured him - undressed him and poked his belly a few times....and that was it.  According to their bathroom scale from 1946, Carter weighs 8.1 kilos...which is about 18 lbs.  Ha!  Maybe double that :)  Oh well...it was necessary in order to get his visa , and now it's done.

Carter did great, with the exception of a little fussing toward the end while we were waiting in the hall.  A little lotion on his hands solved the problem...he loves lotion.  He rubs it in to both hands, and sometimes even rubs it on his face.

Niko said he thought it would take much longer, so he dropped us off at home with plans to pick us up around 1:15p to get Carter's visa.  So Jake & Rachel headed to Papa Johns to get some pizza for lunch (since we planned on being in the van with Niko until into the afternoon, we didn't have anything for lunch at home!), and I went back to the apartment with Carter.

From lunch until 1:15p - we just hung around and tried to keep Carter awake and happy.  We didn't want to nap him, because the last time we had to wake him up from nap, he was a bear. A total grump.  And we don't want a grump at the consulate!

Niko picked us up at 1:15p to go to the consulate.  Everything went smoothly - and we were wondering why they don't just do it all in one appointment.  It seems a little silly...but it is what it is, I suppose.  Anyhow, we got Carter's visa - woo!  Which means....we booked our tickets to HOME!  That's right - tomorrow, at 2:00a, we will be waking up (and attempting to wake up our 3 year old) and we'll be heading to the good ole' U.S of A!

Guys - c'mon...I'm so ready to ditch this place...!
We really wanted to go to 'Chocolate' again tonight to try some of the chocolate fondue...but it's just not going to work.  We've still got some packing to do.  We just put Carter to sleep (at 5:45p) - he was so tired.  We're hoping he'll sleep all the way until 2:00a. Since he didn't nap today, I'm thinking it will be possible.


As we get ready to leave, a part of me is sad to leave this country.  Carter's country.  It's far from perfect - and it has so, so far to go.  But this country gave us our son.  And for that, I'll be forever grateful.

"Yoo-kray-ee-NA!  Yoo-kray-ee-NA!"

That's the sound we heard outside our window after the Germany vs. Ukraine soccer match.  They tied, by the way. Anyhow - that's the sound that I'm hearing in my head tonight.  A cheer for Ukraine.

Thanks, Ukraine.  Forever indebted.

For real.


Packing is almost done - and then, we will look out the apartment window for the last time - say goodbye - and go to bed.

One Thing I Know For Sure:  I hate good-byes.  See you later, Ukraine...

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