Sunday, November 29, 2009

Has anyone seen SANTA????


Last night I took Noah to the "Santa Celebration" at the big outdoor mall here in Lincoln. We had a FABULOUS time! Kevin had some work to do at home, so it was just me and my little boy. I think he's definitely warmed up to the idea of St. Nick this year. Given Noah's experiences with Santa the first two years, I was a little unsure about how he would react. All I can say is that the city of Lincoln definitely goes all out to kick off the Christmas season!

We arrived early enough that we were pretty close to the main event. Santa was going to arrive and flip the switch to light up the two-story tall Christmas tree in the big outdoor center courtyard of the mall. While we were waiting, Noah met some other fun characters for the first time last night. We ran into Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, and some of Santa's elves. He gave the Grinch a high-five right away (SHOCKED me!), but for some reason he REFUSED to approach Frosty and especially Rudolph (whose cute little nose was flashing red).



I realized that he hadn't heard the story of Rudolph yet. Noah was plastered around my waist with his arms wrapped around my neck, and his cheek was on my cheek. I was LOVING that. My little boy doesn't stay still long enough these days for that to happen. And there were a lot of people there with more arriving by the second. So he felt safe in my arms and I was happy to just hold him close for awhile. So while we were cheek to cheek, I told him the story of Rudolph and his special nose and how he saved Christmas for Santa and the other reindeer. Then YES, I sang him the Rudolph song and he immediately wanted to go find him and personally give Rudolph a high-five for saving Christmas and being so awesome! .... He still wanted to steer clear of the weird snowman walking around. That's okay.

The festivities began with a bunch of singing and a terrific a cappella group. And then the announcers asked if anyone knew what was keeping Santa. Did anyone see Santa???? The whole crowd looked around and we realized that Santa was stuck on the roof of Von Maur, the big department store. Of course he had a mic so fortunately he was able to ask for help! Then we all heard sirens as the Lincoln City Fire Department arrived and brought out their big ladder. Santa was safely rescued and made his way to the stage. Noah was mesmerized by the whole ordeal. He looked so worried! I kept telling him that Santa would be just fine. :) Last year, I think he would have preferred that Santa stay up on the roof, so I thought this was a good sign! Santa flipped the big switch to light the Christmas tree and fireworks went off as thousands of colorful lights lit up the courtyard. Noah laughed and clapped and sang and cheered. So... I was just hoping to inspire Noah a little about Christmas time. But I was not prepared for what I felt. It was pretty magical. And I think for the FIRST time since becoming a mother, I caught a glimpse of Christmas through my son's eyes.

We all sang a few more songs, and then everyone made a run for the line already forming down at Santa's Workshop where they will pay through the nose for a digital photo of their kids on Santa's lap. I told Noah that Santa would take a break soon and would come visit us at our church Christmas party and he could see him then. Just as I finished that sentence, I turned around and who was literally walking toward us???? Um, Santa Claus. He was surrounded by his elves trying to part the crowd and escort the big guy down to the workshop. He walked by us and held out his hand for Noah. My little boy gave Santa a high five and giggled. AWESOME.

I was also touched by the kindness of people there last night. We were pretty close to the stage, but the crowd got really thick and all the tall dads were placing their kids on their shoulders. Let's just say that vertically I just can't compete with that. :) So I held Noah and hoped for the best. As the time for Santa got closer, some of the people in front of us saw us and literally let us move in front of them. I was so grateful! This probably happened five or six times, no joke. And before we knew it, we were right up by the stage and could see everything perfectly! It touched me that so many people took pity on a short mom and her little boy, who just wanted to see Santa Claus for a little bit.

LOVED last night. I will definitely take Noah again next year. And yes, the Rudolph song was requested the whole way home in the car...

... the WHOLE way home.

Ho Ho HO!!!

Nicole
@>->--

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Lots of thanks to give. :) Hope your day was wonderful!



Love,
Kevin, Nicole, and Noah
@>->--

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

If you don't want pumpkin PIE...


Happy "Day-Before" Thanksgiving!!!

If you want an alternative to Pumpkin PIE this year, or just want something spectacular to take with you Visiting Teaching, here's one of our favorite recipes:


Pumpkin Cupcakes (with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting)


Cupcakes:

2 1/4 cups Flour
1 Tbsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon (I add a little bit more!)
1/2 cup Butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups Brown sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup Canned Pumpkin
3/4 cup Milk
3/4 cup chopped Walnuts or Pecans ( I NEVER add this... sorry.)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Insert paper liners into 24 muffin cups. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Blend in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture alternately with milk, blending after each addition. Stir in nuts (if you're NUTS!)

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Frost with maple cream cheese frosting.


Frosting:

1/4 cup Butter
8 ounces Cream cheese (room temperature)
3 cups Confectioner's sugar
2 tsps. Vanilla extract
1 tsp. Maple flavoring

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.


So easy!!! And then, of course, find a pretty plate and napkin. It makes you look so domestic. Man, I have people fooled. :)


I hope that your Thanksgiving is full of good food, football, and lots of family time. AND... I sure hope that your turkeys are thawed right about NOW.

(Are you running to the freezer?..... Yeah.)

Love,
Nicole
@>->--

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Faces of Chocolate


I made Grandma Stephie's peanut butter bars the other day. Since Kevin wasn't home, I did something for the first time ever... I handed NOAH the chocolate frosting spatula!

Doesn't it kind of look like he's playing a flute?


At first he wasn't quite sure if what he was doing was okay. Then he saw me laughing at his cuteness and then he really went to town. I had to get out the camera. :)


Yeah, he's definitely MY son. Enjoy this one:

video


Find something Yummy today,

Nicole
@>->--

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Delivery


Still celebrating November! :)

Cherie Call sings the most BEAUTIFUL song about adoption called "Delivery."

I love this song because it explains how both parties in an adoption are perfectly and divinely interwoven with each other, with the child at the very heart of it all.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones



After we brought Noah home, I remember our parents telling us to never let anyone tell me that I didn't go through labor for my son. It meant a lot to me, because we'd been through SO much with waiting, praying, struggling and humbling ourselves so that we could bring home a baby. Sometimes I don't think that some people realize that. I've had many discussions with my sisters and others about the insensitive things that people say. Yes, I actually did have someone tell me that I did it "the easy way." And Yes, she was pregnant. :) I just wish I could have shown her the other side for just a second. But all that doesn't matter really. I know that I didn't go through the physical pain of child birth, but I did feel every second of those 8 years of heartache and unknown... And that was MY delivery.

He was SOOOOO worth it. :)


Love,
Nicole
@>->--

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Last Nut!!!


There are aliens on my roof... At least that's what it sounds like. Like in the M. Night Shyamalan movie Signs... When the aliens are crawling all over the outside of the house and over the roof and down through the coal shaft (Did I just spoil something for those of you who haven't watched it? Sorry....) All those little claws..... Awwwwww! (Full body shiver.)

Signs happens to be one of my favorite movies. And if you STILL think that movie was about aliens, we need to have a talk.

Anywhoo - For the last few months, I've been awakened by the that eerie, scratchy, creepy-crawly sound running across my roof and usually right above my bedroom. The culprits?

SQUIRRELS.

They are EVERYWHERE out here in the Midwest. Jumping from tree to tree, taunting the dogs, and eating all of the herb gardens. I do love that people leave corn cobs and little feeders everywhere for them, because I think they're really cute. Even though some of them are bigger than our neighbor's CAT. I just don't like waking up to their shenanigans!

I first REALLY experienced squirrels when I was 8 and my family moved to Minneapolis, MN. Until then, I'd seen the occasional critter while camping at Tony Grove Lake, or up in the mountains. But my siblings and I were just not prepared for what we saw in Brooklyn Park. Squirrels everywhere - running on the power lines, hanging out on the living room window pane, and crossing every street. Which brings me to the fond memory of our dad, driving our awesome mid-80's minivan with all of us buckled in, SWERVING to try and HIT the squirrels... All the while declaring that said squirrel was screaming "Wait!!! Just one last nut! ONE LAST NUT!!!!..."

He was kidding of course. We all knew that squirrels couldn't talk.... Oh! And he was kidding about the whole swerving thing, too. :) Love you, Dad!


I always forget about the squirrel phenomenon out here in the Midwest until I move away and then come back. When we moved to Indiana, I had my first encounter with individuals who actually SHOT and ATE these critters. At first, I was appalled. But then I realized that yes... They were an ample source of food if needed. Then we moved back to Oregon for a few years. Now here we are in Nebraska... And I can no longer sleep in... not while they search for that one last nut.

Where's a mid-80's minivan when you need it?

Shake your bushy tail,

Nicole
@>->--

P.S. Back to Signs.... Oh, Joaquin. Why did you have to go Coo-Coo???? You were the sweetest Merrill Hess, the most incredible Commodus...

... And you WERE Johnny Cash. Come back to us!!!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Magic Button


We now have a magic BUTTON that links to our adoption profile!!!

So if you feel the need to participate in shameless advertising... Or just want to help us find our next little one, feel free to grab a button for your blog. :)

You can find the html code over on the right.

-------------------------------------------------------->

We love you all,

Kevin and Nicole
@>->--

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This is why I love birthparents...


Good Morning!

Still celebrating awesome National Adoption Month. :) Over the last few years I've been following several blogs from different birthmothers. Some of them placed their children years ago, and for some of them the experience took place this summer or a few short weeks ago. It's amazing to read, through their own words, their thoughts and feelings about their decision to place their child. I've never been given such a deep look into someone's heart before, and yet I can connect with what they're saying on a certain level. And since adoption is an "entire family event," I know that our parents, brothers, sisters, and friends can appreciate their stories, too.

We're very blessed to still have Noah's birthmother and her family in our lives. As time has gone by, we've talked together about all the events leading up to her decision to place Noah, how she found us, and all the miracles that happened to bring him to us. And of course every miracle that has happened since! So I kind of feel like I have an idea of what was happening on her side of the experience at different times throughout the journey.

Have you all heard of the show on MTV called "16 and Pregnant?" Wow.... W-O-W. I have to admit that we don't have MTV, so I'd never watched an episode. Until I came across a link on an adoption website that took me to Catelynn's story. It's so AMAZING. She and her boyfriend Tyler had courage beyond their years and I BAWLED the entire 40 minutes.

I guess it's because I've been there. Kevin and I got on a plane and flew to meet a complete stranger, hoping that she would like something about us. Praying that she might be the one to help us become a family. When Catelynn and Tyler choose the couple and then meet them, and then everything at the hospital... I couldn't stop watching the adoptive mother. I've been there in that room, too scared to admit just how nervous I was and how important and beautiful that moment will always be to us. And how I just wanted to say Thank You over and over and OVER because it just sounded so empty and inadequate compared to the beautiful little boy that she'd just placed in MY arms. How do you say thank you for that?

SO.... If you have a little time and would like to watch Catelynn's experience, here it is:

16 and Pregnant: Catelynn (Ep. 6)

And here is a link to a very refreshing Question and Answer with a panel of Birthmothers who placed their children through LDS Family Services.

Birth Parent Panel

They pretty much answer every question that I'm sure you'd be curious about! They're all beautiful, strong women and I have the utmost love and respect for them and their decision.

Tamra Hyde is one of the birthmothers on this panel and we follow her blog. She placed her baby boy for adoption 13 years ago. She wrote the most beautiful entry the other day and I want to end with just one of her thoughts:

"... Studies say one of the 2 questions children of closed adoption ask most often is "what did she look like?" While the biological connection is real and significant, it is not as real and as significant as is the sealing covenant. And as you know biology does not have to exist for genuine family love to. I know his sweet mama's heart grew in her chest the same as mine did when she set eyes on him for the first time. I know that, like me, she must have recognized him. I know that they COULD not have loved him more if he had their genes. I know that I am not Justin's "mother," her name is Debbie. He was hers before he was mine. They have total stewardship and accountability and I trust them COMPLETELY in that role and I would NEVER challenge but would defend it. But I do feel it very appropriate to call myself "birthmom." It takes nothing from who and what they are. It isn't a contest and it doesn't compare. But I gave him the BEST possible health and home for 9 months. I LOVED him with ALL the love of a mother. I gave him breath and a body. I broke my heart for him. I put my world on the altar so that he could have his. In THIS way, I AM a mother. That is what mothers do..."


This is why I love birthparents...


Sunday, November 8, 2009

SNL: Firelight

I don't want to take away from Nicole's brand new post so make sure you see it just below! That being said, I thought this was a pretty funny Twilight spoof from last night's Saturday Night Live hosted by Taylor Swift.



~Kevin

Apparently Noah is Overweight...


Health is my passion. Health is my favorite thing to debate. I love health SO much that I deemed it worthy of student loans so that I could study it in grad school. But if there's one thing I've learned over the course of all my education and experience as a health educator, it's this:

I HATE the Body Mass Index (BMI).

I admit that it CAN be a useful tool to indicate a healthy height-weight ratio in SOME populations. But I hate cookie cutter ideas, especially when it comes to being "healthy." Can I get an AMEN?!? Just kidding. :)

The BMI doesn't work for so many groups of people and doesn't account for body type. According to the BMI, I would need to weigh between 103 and 136 pounds in order to be within the "normal range." Yeah right! In my..... SHOE. (wink) I am a curvy girl... always have been, and this is never taken into account. I'm just going to weigh more than other girls my height because of that.

I guess it just scares me that the BMI is given so much power, and that insurance companies are now basing coverage and benefits on this measurement. Legislation is being written and passed based on this information that doesn't really apply to certain people (SUCH AS: the very old, the very young, the very physically fit...) When I was doing an internship at the Huntsman Senior World Games (in St. George, Utah) I had to tell 85 year old marathon runners with 6 percent body fat that, according the BMI, they were overweight. I have never felt so stupid. These same people had been recording their body fat percentages for 15 years and I couldn't give that to them for that year. Again... Oh the stupidity.

So imagine my horror when our anonymous insurance company (with their funny blue cross and blue shield... oops!) sent us a BMI calculator for our little boy. To see how "healthy" he is.... Man, I wanted to make a phone call! But I decided to use it instead.

This is what I calculated for my perfectly HEALTHY active fun-loving 2 year old:

Height: 37 inches
Weight: 33 pounds

BMI: 17.2

According to this awesome little instrument, that means that Noah has tipped the scales into the "Overweight" category. For toddlers. Seriously.

(Heavy Sigh........) I'm SO done talking about this now.

But really... does this look like the poster child for "overweight?"



According to the BMI, he is.

K, I'm better now! Thanks for listening,

Nicole
@>->--

P.S. I'm still giving Noah is Halloween candy. I think he can handle it. :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Translation...


When we posted about Noah's pumpkin-painting experience, we included a video of him speaking in tongues (HA!) about his experience at the pumpkin farm. Um.... So nobody came CLOSE. I guess I'll keep the king-sized candy bar for myself.

Here's the video, just to review:

video


And here's the translation:

Me: Did you pick out your pumpkin?

Noah: Yeah, and I go to haunted house and it was very scary and it had the lights and the music.

Me: Yeah, and then what happened?

Noah: And we came out and ... and I went down the slide and fell on my bottom.

Me: ... Well, excellent.


So there you have it, folks. And just to show that I'm NOT making this up, here are a few pictures of Noah during this traumatic event.

Kevin and Noah on their way in the Haunted Castle...


On their way OUT... Note the big crocodile tears from Noah.


Noah coming down the slide. He was still crying, so he didn't really catch himself at the end and landed on his cute little booty... Yeah, that just made it all better. :)


I'm not worried... I'm pretty sure he'll try again next year. And if not, there's always Candy Land!

Nicole
@>->--

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November

Wow... Two short blogs in one day. Never done that before!

But I'm blogging a second time today to spread the good news about November.

It's........














I'm still hoping that this month will bring a new miracle to our family. BUT even if it doesn't, it's hard to outshine our first miracle (who happens to be sleeping soundly upstairs next to his favorite Elmo book...)

Help us celebrate the spirit of this amazing month. And how wonderful that it is the same month where we focus on giving THANKS. :) I'll celebrate tonight by sharing one of my favorite poems. When we brought our little boy home, my family posted this poem and many other beautiful thoughts on the walls of his nursery. It was the perfect welcome home.

The Answer (To An Adopted Child)

Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone
But still miraculously
My own.

Never forget
For a single minute,
You did not grow under my heart,
But in it.

~ Fleur Conkling Heyliger


Love,
An Adoptive Mother
@>->--

Make-Over

Good morning, everyone!!!

So... Our blog has a new look, mostly because we have new family pictures! They're a bit overdue since Noah was 14 months old in our last set. We want to THANK THANK THANK our wonderful friend Stacie (or "Miss Stacie" as Noah calls her!) for the amazing portraits and we can't wait to use them on our adoption profile. I told her that someones HAS to pick us now since we have such an awesome photographer! he he he

If you want to check out some more of our pics and more of Stacie's work, here's her website:









Say "Cheese!"

Nicole
@>->--