Sunday, February 27, 2011

My sweet cousin, Jessie...

There is this girl, her name is Jessie, and she is a beautiful angel in heaven.

She was a daughter, sister, grand daughter, cousin, friend, and soon to be mommy.

She passed away almost 3 years ago, on March 14th.

She was my sweet, smiling, "hugger" cousin.

I miss her alot.

She was such a good big sister to her 3 little sister's, Annie, Harlie, and Gracie. She was the "rock" for her family.

We all miss her.

She was on her way to her first OB appointment with her boyfriend, and had just found out she was 11 weeks pregnant. She was also going to go visit with her sister's..

He said that morning she danced around the apartment singing "I get to go see my sister's today, I get to go see my sister's".....

She never made it to the appt or to see her sister's.

The weather wasn't the greatest that day, as there was some freezing rain coming down. From what we know, they were driving along on the highway, when they crossed a small bridge, and hit some ice. The truck ran off the road and down a small embankment.

For reasons we will never know, Jessie did not have her seatbelt on. She usually wears her seatbelt. Why in the world, with the weather being bad, did she not this time?

Jessie was thrown from the truck was unconscious. She was rushed to the nearest trauma hospital.

I'll never forget getting the phone call.

I was at the bridal shop, trying on what would end up being my wedding dress.

My Mom said "Jessie has been in an accident, and she is in critical condition". I immediately gathered my stuff, and went up to the hospital.

There she lie. Looking as pretty as ever, like she was asleep. She was not breathing on her own, but other than that, she had not a scratch on her.

I hugged her Mom and Dad, and we prayed that everything would be ok.

Well, it was not. After 1 week of practically living up in the hospital waiting room, the doctors told us it was time. Time to say good-bye.

We were not ready. I was not ready.

I questioned the doctors over and over. I wanted more test ran. They assured me that they had done everything possible.

I had to accept that she was going to die. She was brain dead.

We all went in, one by one and held her hand.

When it was my turn, I held her hand, and talked to her.

I asked her to please squeeze my hand. Please Jessie, wake up!!

She did not move. I said it louder. "Jessie, this is your last chance, please show me a sign of life".

Still no response. I cried.

Was I really going to have to let her go?

How would her sister's get along without her?

How would her Mom and Dad get along without her?

She was one of many many cousins, who are all more like brothers and sisters. She had just started hanging out with all the older ones.

Was this really happening? She was only 22 years old, and pregnant. Just starting her life.

Gracie, her youngest sister was only 8, but was very close with Jess. How would Gracie handle it?

WHY WHY WHY??? The emotions and questions wouldnt stop.

Our family helped hold each other up.

We knew that it was her time.

For whatever reason, God wanted her back. So, we said our good-byes....

We will never forget our sweet little Jessica JoAnn..and her unborn son, Max.

We love you Jessie!!!!!! We miss you and will never forget you!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

She is mobile!!

Hallie started crawling yesterday!

Big bro, Jbird had taken her in the living room on her play mat, while I was in the kitchen (just feet away)..He said, "Mom, Hallie just crawled"!!

I told him to get it on video. (will post soon)

She has been able to move about for a few weeks now, and has been rocking on her hands and knees for a few weeks also.

Yesterday she figured out how to actually pick up her hands, in coordination with her legs..she was so proud! She smiled as we cheered her on!!

Daddy came in shortly after, and she showed him what she could do. We were all very impressed.

She still isn't very fast at all, but thats to be expected.

Right now, she is downstairs with Daddy making Jbird a grilled cheese.

She loves her walker on the kitchen hard woods, and can go really fast!

When she hears us say "Oki, wanna go potty"?, she rushes as fast as she can over to the back door. Its the funniest thing.

Her arms are thrown up in the air, and her feet are moving as fast as possible.

Its amazing how fast she is growing up! Kind of makes me sad, but I know its inevitable, but reminds me of the time that has past.

Jbird went with his Dad to the old house (our other home) and rode his 4 wheeler today.

He got all dressed in his warmest winter gear, and was ready to go ride. They both said it was alot of fun.

Well, time for me to go take a shower for the day..Im leaving the kids with Dad tonight for a few hours.

I now he will do fine, but Im a little concerned about Sugar Bear. She loves her Mama, and always wants me to fall asleep.

Im going to put her down for a nap around 4:00 and hope that she sleeps for a good 2 hours.

Then, she will play with Daddy and big bro for a couple hours, until I get home.

Im not planning on being gone long, but Im excited to get out for my good friend, Lauren's,  bachelorette party...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mommy and me yoga class

I just got back from a wonderful afternoon spent with my baby.

We got up this morning, and off we went to our very first Mommy and baby Yoga class.

I didnt really know what to expect, considering I've never been before, and only taken yoga a few times. It was a great experience!

The instructor is a mother of 4 kids, and was very welcoming. I brought my own yoga mat, and she provided each of us mothers a nice folded blanket for baby.

Hallie was the oldest in the wait, I take that back, there was a 10 month old boy..There was a 3 week old, 6 week old, and a few 5-6 month old baby's.

We all went around and told our name, our baby's name, and a little about ourselves.  I told about how Hallie is adopted, and gave a brief recap of her adoption story. (see my blog entry titled "our adoption story")

The ladies were amazed and thought it was a really heart warming story. I also told them Im a big believer in breast feeding, and how I induced lactation. Again, amazed.

Hallie was all smiles the whole time:) She loved it!

The class was very unstructured, which made it fun and easy considering we had a baby in our arms the whole time.

I tell ya what, I hadn't worked out in a long time, and I was feelin' the burn!

Hallie just laughed and cooed at me and the other mom's. She was very interested in the other babies also.

After the class ended, some of the girls came up to Hallie and I and chatted.

One girl had her 6 month old, who Hallie was admiring the whole time. She kept trying to take the little girl's binky out of her mouth. (like she even knows what to do with one of those)

The mom, I cant remember her name, asked me what the benefits of breast feeding after 6 months were. She said her Dr had acted to her like there was really no benefit, and said it was really only important to do it for 6 months. (booooo..)

Since she was asking my opinion, I openly gave it to her.

I recommended she nurse for atleast 1 year, and explained why. She seemed happy to hear my thoughts, and said her gut tells her she should keep nursing.

If more Mommy's would go with their gut instincts, we all have one, I think things would be alot better.

Just because a Dr says one thing doesn't mean it's the best way for YOUR baby...listen to that inner voice, ladies!!

We will definitely go back to mommy and me yoga!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TV, Food, and Video games..but not in that order

Tonight, is a special night..We are all sleeping in the same room!

Jalen (our 11 year old) asks randomly if he can sleep on our couch, and tonight was one of those nights. I love that he wants to be close to us.

Sometimes I feel bad because Dad, baby and I are all in the same bed, and J-bird is off in his room all alone. Although he does have Oki, the family doggie in there with him..

He likes his room (its pretty cool), but sometimes it nice to all sleep together. It makes us feel close.

So, as my family all lay asleep, I am deciding to write. I haven't in a while, and there are so many things I constantly think of that I want to tell about.

We recently watched a documentary called Food Matters. It was very informative and eye-opening. If you haven't seen it, I would recommend watching it.

With that being said, we have really changed our food habits around here.

Joe, in the past, used to drink lots of soda pop, energy drinks, candy, etc, ...I was pretty bad too.

I mean, we both are aware of what is healthy and not healthy, but its just really hard to make those lifestyle changes and stick to it.

I go through spurts where I workout, and watch what I eat. Then I get off track and go wild on the food rollercoaster. I feel SO much better when I am eating healthy, and Im happy to say that we have been doing just that!

We believe that a plant based diet is the way to go. So, we went out and bought a juicer, and we have stopped eating anything with preservatives. We both feel really good.

He is kind of an extremist, meaning he takes things to the extreme when he set his mind to something. Well, he is really taking this bull by the horns.

I am so proud of him for trying to change his eating, because in turn it helps me make better food choices, and we are modeling good food choices for our kids.

We have never been the kind of family who eats fast food very much at all. And I can honestly say, I cant remember the last time I ate it. Its disgusting!!!!! The mechanically separated meat is just horrifying!!! Google it if you dont know what it is.

And we are definitely buying all organic. Yes, it is more expensive, but in our eyes, totally worth it!

We believe the pesticides that are sprayed on conventional food is causing lots of disease and cancer, and we want to try and prevent that from happening to us and our children.

Over the past year, we have slowly made that transition. It taste so much better, and knowing Im not eating chemicals with my apple, feels really good.

We will see how it goes with the new raw/vegan diet. Joe is being really strict about it, where as I am still eating meats, but I make sure its "good" meat. Only organic, clean meats.

We are informing J-bird of these healthier habits, but we are not forcing anything on him.

Here is a picture of Joe's first batch of vegetable juice. It tasted yummy!! No, really, it did:)

Another thing I want to talk about is TV..

We used to watch alot of it.

I like the stupid reality tv shows, and entertainment news. Totally mindless stuff.

Since little Hallie Rose has come along, we have found that our tv hardly ever gets turned on.

We dont want her being exposed to all the stimulation that it provides, and we feel it is in her best interest not to watch it.

Not cartoons, nor the news, not even educational cartoons. We feel she is way to young and her brain is not developed enough to handle all the lights and movements.

She is a sponge and is absorbing everything she sees and hears.

If and when the tv is on, and she is around, she cannot take her eyes off of it. So, we turn it off.

We do however like the toddler music channel, and she loves it!

Im not saying she will never watch cartoons, because I assume she will, but for now, its off.

We monitor what Jalen watches also. I learned early on, that his behavior is tremendously effected by what he watched on tv.

We only allow him to watch certain channels, such as Discovery, History, Animal Planet, and sometimes Disney.

He is not allowed to play violent video games either. (gasp, oh my!)

With the world we live in today, do our children really need anything extra~ like a shooting/killing game to help them harbor anger or twist their minds? Ummm.. I think not!!

He is very respectful of our wishes, and always asks before watching tv.

Thats not to say he has never played a violent video game, or watched ALOT of tv, he used to in the past.

We occasionally let him watch something he's not supposed to, and he is a huge movie buff, so we take him to the movies alot.

It seems like kids these days don't want to get out and be active like they used to.

We encourage him to go skateboard, ride his bike, or do other things.

It may sound as if we are really strict, but in reality we are not...atleast I dont think we are:)

On another note...Tomorrow Im going to a Mommy/baby yoga class..Im excited!!

She can sit!!!

Saturday January 22, 2010

This post is back dated..Just one day after turning 6 months old, our little Sugar Bear all of the sudden decided to start sitting up! 

Joe and I had dropped Jalen and Hallie off at my parents for a couple hours, while we went and ate Hereford House. No special occasion, just us spending some quiet Mommy and Daddy time together. 

I feel so blessed that we have my parents who will watch our kids with open arms, anytime we need them. 

We dont like to leave Hallie with just anyone, and not very much at all. We feel like she is our baby, and we should be the one's to take care of her. 

If we do decide we need some alone time, we will only leave her if we know she has had a good nap, and only for an hour or two. 

Some people may not agree with this, and that is perfectly fine. But we feel it is our job as parents to make her world as cushy, loved, and secure as possible at all times. That place is with us!..

That being said, Hallie did pretty well. She started to get fussy towards the end, probably wondering where we were. 

Luckily, her big bro Jalen was there with her. He is her comfort when we are not around. 

We have only left her a couple of times, and each time he was with her, and towards the end he was the only one she wanted to hold her. 

I think thats pretty special, and I bet it makes Jalen feel good also. 

She really loves her bro bro alot, and is starting to notice him alot more. I will ask, "where is brother", or "where is Jalen", and she will look around. 

Its really cute. 

As usual, we kind of rushed through dinner because we dont like to leave her for very long, and we know she will only be ok with it for a short period.  

When we got back to my parents, we hung out in my Mom and Dad's room for a while. 

Hallie was all smiles, and decided at that moment, that she was ready to sit up all by herself! She was really doing it~without falling over!..

So, of course we pulled out our phone right away, and got it on record.

 Its so cool these days that not only can we take pictures of her within a few seconds, we can capture her milestones on video also!! 

She is growing so fast, and is a very happy, healthy girl. She smiles and laughes alot. 

I've noticed her Daddy can make her laugh like no one else. She will crack up at him playing peek-a-boo:) She loves him alot, and he is so in love with her. 

Hallie has brought so much joy to our lives! She has shown us all how to love harder, and that even though she is adopted, it makes absolutely NO difference. 

Jalen is the best big brother ever, and the best son I could ever ask for!! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

Today was a great day!

Valentine's Day 2011...started off with Joe getting up at 6:45 with Jalen, taking him to school at 7:30, and then taking care of Hallie when she woke up at 7:40.

I slept in until about 8:45, when Joe had to leave for school.

When I got up, I went downstairs, and saw 2 dozen roses from my hubby sitting on the kitchen counter. Along with it was the sweetest card ever.

He blew up some red and pink balloons also.

Hallie and I played around all morning. I then put her in her in a cute red dress with white hearts, and a headband with a red flower. I took some pictures of her and had prints made for Daddy.

Grandma Debi came over in the afternoon, and we chatted for a long time. Hallie was asleep, but got woke up to our dog barking.

Then Jalen called and wanted a ride home from school. He usually walks, but for whatever reason he didnt want to today.

So, Debi went and picked him up. When they got back, she gave Jalen and Hallie some things she had bought them at Nordstroms. That's her "go to" department store. Their stuff is pricey, but good quality.

Jalen was excited to get a new pair pf PJ's, and outfit, and Hallie got a few really cute outfits.

When Joe finally got home, he stayed home with the kids while I ran a couple of errands.

I went to pick up some milk from a girl about 15 minutes from my house.

After that I went and got Hallie, and we made a trip to Whole Foods for some Valentine's Day dinner items.

Rotisserie chicken, chicken tortilla soup, salad, and chocolate covered strawberries for dessert.

We all sat at the dining room table(which doesnt happen very often), and enjoyed a candlelit dinner. Hallie played in her highchair, while we enjoyed our meal.

We drank apple juice and water out of wine glasses, and talked about our day.

It was really nice. We always eat as a family, just not usually at the big dining room table. We are usually at the bar in the kitchen, sitting on barstools.

After dinner, Joe took Jbird to his Boy Scouts meeting, while I tried to get Sugar Bear to sleep.

After rocking her, singing to her, and walking around a bit, she was out!

Overall today was a great day! I am a happy wife and mommy, and I feel so blessed!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

~Milk Sharing~

Milk sharing is a term used for women who do just that.

They share their precious "liquid gold" (breast milk) with other babies who are in need.

May it be a baby who's mother is unable to breast feed, an adopted baby, or even sick babies who are in need of an immune booster, which breast milk is the best thing for.

Before looking into adoption, I had never heard of, or even given this concept any thought.

I just assumed that if a baby was unable to get breast milk, for whatever reason, that the baby would be put on formula.

I am very thankful that I was introduced to this awesome way of helping our baby be the healthiest she can be, and giving her the best start possible.

Our little Sugar Bear is almost 7 months old, adopted, and has never had an ounce of formula, and never will.

I pump twice a day, and usually get about 6-8 oz each time (see my entry on adoptive breast feeding). All of her other feedings are that of donated breast milk from generous women in our area.

We have a deep freezer FULL of it!!

These gracious women who donate, **do not ask for a dime**. They do it solely out of the kindness of their hearts.

They are feeding the same milk to their own baby, and most of them are health conscience, and have an abundant supply of milk that they would rather share then throw down the drain.

A Dr's screening is provided, if requested by the recipient, showing that the donor mother does not have any illnesses, and is healthy.

I feel very confident we are doing the right thing by giving our daughter donated breast milk. She is very healthy and happy. She has never been sick and I thank God everyday for the donation of breast milk to keep my baby healthy.

Thanks to a global organization who operates on facebook, called HM4HB (Human Milk 4 Human Babies),  women who feel the same way as my husband and I, are able to post if they are in need of milk,  or if they want to donate milk.

Its awesome!!!! I am so beyond thankful that I was introduced to this way of life for my baby girl. I have a feeling she would thank me:)

As a mother, nurse, and person who follows my instincts, I 100% feel like I am doing the right thing.

I want more women to know that this is an option for them.

~~~Breast is best, pumped milk is 2nd best, donor milk is 3rd, and lastly formula~

Daddy filling up our freezer


"The FDA is very useful, whatever they approve, I avoid" ~(anonymous)

I love this quote......

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sweeping Beauty

Ahhhhh.....some of the most worthwile dollars I spend every month, getting my house cleaned!

They are here right now, and Im so excited to have a clean house.

I mean, my house is usually "clean", but they come in and "deep clean". 

Its 2 brazilians and they are AWESOME!! They once told me "we are Brazillian, we know how to clean good"..and they are right!

My Mom and my brother both use the same people. I think my Grandma does also. 

I know some people might think "you dont work, why can't you clean your own house"? Well. I DO clean my own house. Alot. But like I said earlier, its kind of nice to have someone else come in and deep clean. 

I am a mother. Not a maid. I will spend time with my kids first, and then if I have time, housework will get done. 

I dont believe it is important to have a perfect looking house. Although, with a husband like mine, it pretty much always looks damn good! He is a huge helper around the house.

I believe it is much more important to spend time with my kiddos, having fun. I dont stress about mess. They can always be cleaned up! 

If Jalen wants to build a fort that takes up his whole room, or my room, Im going to let him. Those are the things he will remember when he grows up. 

I have fond memories of my household as a child. It wasn't the most "perfect" house on the block, but it was filled with kids, love, and laughter. 

Thats what I want for my home. 

Oh, and not to mention, my house is way to big for me to take care of by myself.

 I tried in the beginning, and I was literally cleaning for like 3-4 hours a day. Only to have no one notice what I had done. 

I finally decided, I dont want to clean house all day. So I dont.

I keep things picked up, laundry (kind of) gets done in a timely manner, and my kitchen is always clean. 

Im not going to spend my day vaccuming, dusting, and scrubbing toilets. If I wanted to do that, I would go work as a maid in a hotel.

I want to be a Mom first and foremost. Then a good wife. Then a good daughter, granddaughter, sister, get my point. There is just so much more to life than appearance. 

Thank you Sweeping Beauty, for making my house shine!!

My baby~ isn't a baby anymore:(

I just cant believe Jalen, my first born, is turning 12 in a month!!! Wow. I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. 

I woke up that morning with some cramping, but nothing too intense. I went over to my friend, Mandi's,  house for the day and we hung out with some friends. We ate party pizza, and chatted,  all while every 10-15 minutes I would have a contraction. They weren't very painful, so I was able to go about my day pretty normal. 

That evening, I went home to my parents house, and took a bath. I then tried to fall asleep for a few. When I woke up, the contractions were coming about every 5 minutes. It was time to go to the hospital. I called my friends, Molly and Melissa to come pick me up. 

I got to the hospital around 9pm, and was dilated to a 3. They hooked me up to a bunch of "stuff", and encouraged me to walk the halls. I was in labor all night. I had a room full of friends, and my Aunt Lee there for support. My Mom, unfortunately, could not be there due to illness. 

My baby boy was born at 5:44am March 3, 1999. I named him Jalen Aubrey. He was so cute. His hair had natural highlights, and all the nurses kept telling me "he needs to be in a magazine"! I was on cloud 9, for atleast the next couple of years. Really. I was the happiest I had ever been. 

I loved being a mom, and Jalen was just such an awesome kid!! He was )and still is) so smart and friendly, and adorable. I cant believe he is now in middle school, has his own cell phone, thinks he's all cool:), (jk jalen) He has turned out (so far) to be such a great kid, and Im so excited to see what he does in the future. 

Im a little nervous for the "teenage years", but I think overall, he will be fine, and we will be fine. He has a good heart, and has been taught good morals and values. 

I miss the little boy who used to say his R's wrong, and talked loud, and would tell me the most imaginative stories ever! 

I miss his little body wanting to lay on mine. I miss him saying " I love you" to me 20 times a day...but I know its a part of life. Kids growing up. Hes in a new phase. 

He is still very loving and caring towards his Dad, sister, and me! He comes in every single morning before school when Hallie and I are still in bed, and gives us both a kiss good-bye. 

He tells me he loves me often. 

He calls his Grandma on the phone to tell her everything! Even if he is with a group of kids his age. He doesnt care what they think..he loves his family and is not afraid to show it<< haha!,

Here are some pics of him when he was little..I love you J-bird...  you will always be my special 1st born.  <3 <3 <3 <3

                                                 First day of Kindergarten, "cool dude"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sista, sista!!

 I just feel so blessed to have 2 girls in my life who I know I cant trust, and who I know have my back. Just like a sister, or best friend. 

I was pretty much raised around all boys. I had 4 brothers, and many male cousins around me as I grew up. I never thought about having a sister, I was just fine with my brothers. I did have a couple girl cousins who I was, and still am, very close to, Darcy and Lacey. For the most part, I was surrounded by boys though. 

My parents treated us all the same, and I think thats why I never had any "issues" with being the only girl. Im a firm believer in treating boys and girls the same. I mean, of course there are going to be things you do different with each, but as far as love goes, they all want and deserve the same thing.

 Jamie and Rachel are my sister-in-laws on my side of the family. My brothers could not have picked "cooler" chicks to marry.

 First off, the 2 of them have been best friends since middle school. How cool is that? Best friends who marry brothers? Jamie is married to Kelly, and they have 2 little girls, Kayla and Arlie. Rachel is married to Casey, and they have 2 little girls, Finley and Scarlet. Both Jamie and Rachel are very easy going, and fit right in with my family. They are both great mothers who love kids, and love family.

 I have always been very accepting of them, as well as they have of me. Over the years, we have grown closer, and I would now say that they are 2 of my best girlfriends. 

We make it a point to have a "girls night" every few weeks, sometimes with kids, but most of the time without. We chat, gossip, and vent! Its so much fun! Sometimes we meet a a restaurant for apps, and other times we meet at someone's house and will do a craft such as painting. 

One time Jamie brought wine glasses, and we painted them with the saying, "mommy's sippy cup". 

Another time we painted on canvas. 

I made a picture for little Hallie Rose, before I ever even knew who she was, or that she would be my little girl.. 

We try and do things we dont normally make time to do. Its just really fun, and a good way to relax and reconnect.

          The other night we met at a restaurant for apps and some wine. It was my first time leaving Hallie with Joe for more than just an hour or so. I was gone from 6:30-10pm, and she did great! 

The next morning, we met at a coffee shop/playplace. All the girls wore their V-day outfits that Aunt Jamie picked up on the sale rack. They looked adorable.

 After that, we went to Rachel's house and had lunch. I went and picked up a Pizza Shoppe pizza, and Rach came up with some other sides for the kids. We talked, ate, and the kids played. Finely, Arlie, and Kayla were making me and Hallie food in the play kitchen. Finley at one point told me, "Aunt Carlie, I like playing with you", and "I like my cousins"!

 They are so young, but love playing together already and will be lifelong bestfriends. I feel very lucky to have Jamie, Rachel and their kids in my life!!


6 months already!?

Wow! I cannot believe its been 6 months since little Hallie Rose entered this crazy world!! I remember it like it was yesterday...the phone call that changed our life forever!

 I was on edge all night wondering when the phone would ring, telling us when our baby BOY was born.

 Finally, at 5:30 am, the phone rang and the social worker said, "well, the baby was born. And its a GIRL"!!!!!!!!!! I couldnt believe my ears! Was she really telling me this? I started crying and saying "oh my Gosh, its a girl, its a girl.."

Coming from a family of 4 brothers and myself, I always wanted a little girl. I couldnt believe God was blessing me with one. I had convinced myself that I was "meant to have boys"..I was wrong.

 Im so thankful that my prayers were finally answered, and a baby girl, who we named Hallie Rose, was brought into my life. She has brightened it up like the shining sun!  She has brought us closer as a family, and has influenced our belief's in attachment parenting. 

I waited a long time for my little princess, and now she is finally here. She could not be more perfect. She is happy, healthy, and just overall a wonderful addition to our family! We look forward to watching her grow, and experiencing life with her.

Im calling it now...she is either gonna be a ballerina or a gymnast.. she is VERY strong, long, and loves to be on her toes!! Her birthmom was taller than Joe and said that basketball runs in the family. So, we are thinking we might have a little athlete on our hands. Or not. Whatever she decides she wants to do~is exactly what she will do!!

We love you Sugar Bear!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"belly mommy"

Today, I have Jenni (renamed to protect her identity) on my mind. For all of you that dont know who she is, let me introduce you..she is the most selfless person I have ever met. She is Hallie's birthmother.

We could not be more pleased and happy to have such a wonderful person be the biological mother to our child. When we first got the call that we had been picked, all they told us was that it was an African American woman, 31 years of age. Little did we know what an awesome, special person we were about to encounter.

When we arrived at the hospital, Im pretty sure we were all a bit nervous. Here we were, in a New York City Hospital, waiting at the large metal doors for a nurse to let us through. We knew there would be no "buffer" in between us and the birthmom. No social worker, no adoption specialists. Just us, her and the baby. Would we feel comfortable talking to her? Will she like us? What will we talk about? What if she changes her mind?  These were all the questions racing through our minds.

As we walked down the hall to her room, we looked into the baby nursery, wondering which one of the babies could possibly be ours. We couldnt believe the time was actually here. We had waited almost 3 years for this moment!!!(trying to concieve/adoption wait)

As I knocked on the door, I heard a raspy voice say "come in"... "Jenni"? I asked..and there she was..the mother of our soon to be child. She looked great! You would not believe she had just given birth. She smiled at us and we smiled back. She picked up the phone and asked that the baby be brought in. 

O.M.G, we were about to meet our little girl. While we waited for the baby, we asked her how she was feeling, and how the labor/delivery went. She was kind of quiet and reserved, which made it hard to "read" her.  As the baby was rolled in, we couldnt believe our eyes! She was BEAUTIFUL! The most precious, pretty baby I had ever seen!! Jenni picked her up and held her. I waited for her to let me hold her. It was only a couple of minutes before she passed her to me. My baby girl was in my arms. Wow, was this really happening>?? I thought for sure I would be balling at this point, but I wasnt. I think I was in shock, on cloud 9, and just overwhelmed with happiness.

Over the next 2 days, we sat at the foot of her hospital bed, holding the baby and getting to know Jenni. She was a very strong person. Did not show much emotion. We felt like we bonded with her just in the few days we spent with her. She gave us the best gift anyone could ever give. Even after seeing what a perfect baby Hallie Rose was, as hard as it was, she still knew she had to do what was best for the baby. She felt the best thing was for her to have a Mom and Dad who loved her, and could provide a loving stable home for her. 

She loved Hallie Rose so much, she gave her up so that she would have a better life. For that, we are forever grateful. 

We cant wait to teach Hallie what an awesome person her "belly mommy" was. We want Hallie to know how much Jenni loved her, and that because that love was so strong, she gave her to us in the hopes of giving Hallie a better life. We will also tell her what a strong woman her birthmom was, and is.

 One of the hardest parts of the adoption process for both Joe and I was the feelings towards Jenni after the papers were signed. We were so beyond happy that we had our little girl, but we felt so sad for her birthmom. We felt sad that she had to give her up, and felt sad knowing she had to leave the hospital without her. In the days following the hospital discharge, we were very emotional when we would think about or even mention her name. 

We, in a weird, way felt sad for Hallie too. We knew she was in the best place possible, but we felt sad that she was taken away from the only person she ever knew. Her birthmom. She spent 9+ months in this woman's womb, and nursed off of her for 3 days after she was born. There is no way the separation did not effect Hallie. We tried our best to talk to baby Hallie and let her know we understand her feelings and that we know she misses her birthmom, but that we are her parents now, and we are going to love her and take really good care of her. (I will post an article here soon that talks about the trauma a baby experiences when separated from their mom at birth. It can be from adoption, NICU, or lots of other reasons a baby is separated from it's mommy after its born.)

We feel very blessed to have had the experience we did, and to have made such a connection with Hallie's "belly mommy". I dont know if we will ever meet or talk to her again. We have a semi-open adoption which means our agreement is to send pics and a letter to the agency once a year, which we are excited to do! She had told us at first she did not want contact after the baby was born because it would be to hard on her. We completely understood and respected her wants. After giving birth and meeting Hallie, she decided she would like pictures and said she had to admit she is very "curious" as to what she will look like/turn out like. I do know one thing for sure, we  will always have a very special place in our hearts for her.

Fyi..we never got the chance to meet the biological father. He was not a part of the birthmother's life during the pregnancy. All we know is he is fair skinned, with blonde hair and blue eyes. 

Adoptive breastfeeding

This is a topic I have been wanting to write about, and one which Im not shy about.. BREASTFEEDING!! 

Its such an important subject, yet so many people take it so very lightly. I hate it when people act like its no big deal if you dont/cant breast feed or the insinuation that formula is just as good as breast milk...BS!!! Formula is not and never will be as good as breast milk. Period. You cannot replicate nature. I realize it is an adequate substitute, but it is not the same, and definitely not as good for the baby. Why do you think so many babies have digestive problems? Its usually the formula. Its hard on their system. Im not coming down on the women who can't or choose not to breast feed, I feel like if they were better informed, they might not be in that place. Its up to Dr's and nurses to advocate this information since that's who, sadly, the majority of people listen and take advice from.... Anyway, thats my opinion on that.

 Im actually here to talk about my experience with adoptive breastfeeding. Yes, a woman can actually breast feed an adopted child. Its done everyday, all around the world. Unfortunately, not enough women even know about it, so it doesn't get attempted or looked into. Maybe Ill someday change that. I want more women to know the options. 

It goes like this.....when we got on the adoption list in March of 2010, I went to my sister- in- law who had just had a baby at home, and she invited me to the local LLL(breast feeding group) meeting. It was there that I talked with a few women about adoptive breastfeeding, and the want to also give my baby donated breast milk as a supplement, if I wasnt able to produce enough. My husband and I were pretty determined to find a way to not have to give our baby formula. They were all so supportive, and it was really nice to see there were other women who thought just like I did. I was excited and ready to take on this task.

 The next step was to see my OB. He wasnt very knowledgeable on the subject of adoptive breastfeeding, but I had already brought in information which consisted of a protocol advised by Lenore Goldfarb, PH.d, IBCLC, and Dr Jack Newman, a renowned breastfeeding expert. Their website,,  was introduced to me by one of the leaders at LLL. So, in March, I started on the birth control pill, which is supposed to mimick pregnancy. That went well with little to no side effects. When we got the call in July that there was a match with a birthmom in NY, I immediately stopped the birth control pill, and started my Domperidone and my herbs, as instructed in the protocol. I also started pumping. This was all to "trick" my body into thinking I gave birth and that I had a hungry baby wanting to be fed! 

At first, I didnt get anything out. Not even a drop. I was a little stressed, but all along I told myself not to have any expectations. After a few days of pumping, I started getting drops..then we got the call that the baby was going to be born!..We jumped on a plane to NYC, ready to meet our baby. Since I didnt have much time to pump (protocol calls for 1 month to build up milk supply), we took a cooler full of donated breast milk with us. Trying to educate ourselves on how to pack it, and finding a place to stay with a full size freezer is a whole other story in itself. Somehow, someway, everything totally fell into place.

I continued pumping every 3 hours, taking my domperidone, and herbs. We were unsure of how the hospital was going to go, we assumed the baby would get formula for a few days, and then hopefully be able to switch over to breastmilk. Well, Hallie's birthmom graciously decided to breastfeed her for the first 3 days of life, so it made the transition very smooth. She knew exactly what to do when I nursed her for the first time. (in the bathroom of the hospital lobby, while waiting on our car to arrive:) 

I quickly realized once we got her back to our rented NYC apt and settled, that she was not satisfied with what she was getting. So, we pulled out the good ol' SNS. Supplemental Nursing System. Its a device where you put the breast milk in a container, then you attach these 2 small tubes to the breast with a piece of soft tape, and the baby sucks. That way they are still nursing at the breast, but getting more than what the breast can provide. 

It worked great! Joe was such a good helper. He would get it set up every single time, warm the milk, and just do whatever he could...I would nurse Hallie Rose (we joked it was her appetizer), while he got the SNS all set up. We worked as a team. Hallie was doing great and so was I. Jalen was definitely exposed to alot of things(boobs) he had never seen or known about. He did great and has learned alot though.

 We continied with the SNS for each feeding, as I continued pumping milk. I was getting more and more everytime. After a few weeks, we introduced the bottle. We just couldnt go hardly anywhere if we didnt have something more convenient than the SNS. Hallie really took to the bottle, and at around 2 1/2 months of age, she would not nurse anymore:( She would scream if I even tried. She refused even with the SNS. So I let her lead the way, and we now give her breast milk throught the bottle. It is both donated and my own. I pump twice a day and get about 8 oz each time. Im still taking my domperidone and my herbs.  It feels really good to know I am giving my child a gift that she will benefit from for the rest of her life. 

I will continue to pump, and give her donated breast milk. We will probably continue the breast milk past 1 year, considering we have no intentions on giving her cow's milk. With all the antibiotics and hormones pumped into our cow's these days, I would feel horrible feeding that to her. I realize I can buy organic cow's milk, that is free of antibiotics and hormones, but it still doesnt change the fact that she is a human, not a baby cow.  So, I will do what logic and my heart tells me, and give her human milk for as long as we feel necessary. 


Great Wolf Lodge

We had a really great New Years Eve 2010!! New Years Eve is the day Joe and I met, 10 years, where does time go?! We always seem to forget that we met on that day. At a dinner party down on the Plaza with mutual friends.

 Anyway, this past New Years Eve was really special. We had it planned for a year in advance. We went to Great Wolf Lodge with Casey, Rachel and their kids. Kelly, Jamie and their kids, and then us!! We had 2 rooms, both pretty big, one with a bunk bed kid area that was themed. We ordered pizza, went swimming, ate ice cream, and just had a ton of fun! Everyone just kind of did their own thing and we all linked up at one time or another.

 They had a band playing and at one point KB and Finley were up on the stage dancing!...Kayla!!, my niece who is so shy at times, was up there groovin'! Hallie really liked the water. It was her first time in anything that big (pool), and she just kept hitting the water with both hands, splashing herself in the face. She couldnt figure out why she kept getting water in her face, so she just continued:) 

Jalen played with a boy around his age, and then did water slides with his Dad. We all had such a great time! The next morning, we tore up some Krispy Kreme donuts, and then lunch at the concession stand at the indoor water park. We were tired by the time we left, but had a wonderful time with the ones we love! The kids will hopefully always remember things like that. And us adults too!!

Skin on skin baby!

Today, Im thinking about how skin-to-skin contact is SO important for babies. Especially in the beginning, when the only thing that new little baby wants to feel is the warmth and security of their Mom and Dad.

That is what calms Hallie down everytime. Just today, I was trying to get her to sleep. She laid in my bed and cried for a little bit, tossing and turning as I patted her back and sang to her. She would not fall asleep and was getting more and more upset. So, I rolled her onto my chest and I held her and sang to her. It took only a few seconds for her to calm down and start listening to my sweet(or not to sweet) voice and feeling the vibrations from my chest to hers. She was asleep in a matter of minutes.

As I laid there, I was thinking about how it is so important for little babies to be comforted and attached to their Mothers like that. Having an adopted child, it made me think about what it was like for Hallie the first few hours/days of life. We were there when she was about 9 hours old, but there was alot of time that we were not there. I wonder how much time she spent with Jennieke, her birthmom?  and how much time with nurses? Did Jennieke put her up on her chest at all? Or did she just lay in the bassinet most of the day?.........I have comfort knowing that her birthmom breastfed her. So I do know she got alot of comfort from that.

 When I held Hallie for the first time, I wore a V-neck shirt, and intentionally put her on my chest to sleep. I wanted her to feel my heartbeat and the warmth of my skin as soon as possible. Then when we got her back to our rented NYC apt, I held her for days on my chest, bare skinned. It was wonderful...I just hope that mothers know how very important skin-to-skin contact is for their baby.

Our Adoption Story..(written by Dustin Freund of American Adoptions)

The Perfect Surprise - Joe, Carlie, Jalen and Hallie's Adoption

Joe, Carlie and their 11-year-old son, Jalen, were sleeping soundly in a rented Manhattan apartment until 5:30 a.m. when their phone rang.

Carlie quickly snatched the phone and answered it. Indeed, this was it - this was the phone call they had flown all the way from Kansas to New York City for.

She knew the news would be good, but what she heard was even better. What was said to her were the sweetest, most unexpected words she had ever heard in her life. Right then and there, she was proven something she had always thought to be true: things do happen for a reason.

Building the Foundation

“Pretty much right away, we were kind of a family,” Carlie said, thinking back to when she first started dating Joe back in 2001.

Joe immediately made a connection with Jalen, Carlie’s son from another relationship who was 1 ½ years old when they met.

“I’ve always been kind of a magnet toward kids,” Joe said. “Once we started dating, I really took to Jalen. I think that made us stronger.”

Joe didn’t always see himself as a father until he became more serious with Carlie and continued to bond with Jalen. Joe’s budding relationship with Jalen reminded him of how much he enjoyed being around kids, and how much he actually did want to be a dad. As for Carlie, she was one of five siblings, all brothers, so naturally she hoped to be a mother to several children, with hopefully at least one of them being a daughter. And last but not least, Jalen was becoming antsy – he wanted a sister as well.

The couple became engaged, and once Carlie was about to graduate from nursing school, the two started thinking about adding to their family.

In 2008, their lives were exactly how they had hoped: Joe and Carlie were now happily married, and Joe and Jalen shared an increasingly growing father and son bond. About a year later, Joe would make their father-son relationship official and adopt Jalen.
The only thing that hadn’t gone according to plan was becoming pregnant. Weeks of trying to conceive turned into months. Then before they knew it, a year had passed.

Joe and Carlie sought a fertility specialist, who opted for Carlie to have laprascopic exploratory surgery to see why she was not conceiving. The surgery indicated that Carlie’s tubes were blocked, and their only chance at pregnancy was through in vitro.

In 2009, the couple attempted two in vitro fertilizations, both of which were unsuccessful.

“It was a weird up and down rollercoaster of meds,” Joe said. “I had to give her shots every night. It was really hard on both of us.”

But then after their third attempt at in vitro, their dreams become true: Carlie was finally pregnant.

Joe and Carlie’s emotional high did not last long, however. Over the next several weeks, Carlie’s body didn’t handle the pregnancy well and she became more and more sick. After losing 18 pounds, Carlie had to be hospitalized.

“Never again. Next time, we are adopting,” a weakened Carlie, in tears, would tell her husband.

Sadly, Joe and Carlie’s fears were realized as they suffered a miscarriage.

“Here we were at a fork in the road,” Joe said. “Do we continue putting our emotions and finances on the line to try and have our own baby? Do we find a gestational carrier to help us have a baby? Do we adopt a baby? Or do we come to the conclusion that we are not ever going to have another baby?”

Help From a Neighbor

In February 2010, Joe and Carlie decided it was time to abandon the infertility treatments and look into adoption. Within only a few days of researching adoption agencies on the Internet, they were at American Adoptions’ home offices, which just so happened to be within minutes from their own home in Kansas.

Because American Adoptions works with adoptive families in 47 states, many of them never get to meet the people who facilitate their adoption, other than over the phone. For Joe and Carlie, they were able to meet every Adoption Coordinator, Adoptive Family Specialist and Birth Parent Specialist involved in their adoption.

“They made the whole process so easy,” Joe said. “Any paperwork or any questions, we were there. It was great.”

When completing their Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ), Joe and Carlie came across the question of whether or not they were gender specific. Joe and Carlie, having already had a boy and wanting a girl, decided that this would be the only time in their lives where they could choose the gender of their child. Thus, they opted to be gender specific.

Within a month of deciding on adoption, Joe and Carlie were active with American Adoptions.

But the next couple of months were difficult for Carlie. She was not working at the time, and constantly found herself thinking about the adoption. She kept asking herself: “Why aren’t we getting picked?” “Is our adoptive family profile receiving enough exposure?” “Did we make the right decision being gender specific?”

“We hadn’t heard anything in a few months, and I was just probably being a little anxious,” Carlie said. “I thought we should just switch. Whatever is meant to be will be. So after a few days, Joe said let’s go ahead and switch it, and we did. It turned out to be a good idea.”

Just three months later in July, refreshed after a trip to Hawaii, Joe and Carlie received a voice mail from American Adoptions’ Lara Sandusky while they were at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Joe put his phone on speakerphone for everyone to hear and immediately returned the call.

Among the poor cellphone reception, Lara told Joe and Carlie of a birth mother who lived in New York City, whose hospital was just blocks away from Times Square. She was due to give birth to a baby boy in just five days.

“It was the best news of my life and I could hardly hear it through the static,” Joe said.

However, the message itself was clear: Soon, they would once again become parents.

“I was just in shock,” Carlie said. “I just could not believe this was happening. Our family members were down there and everyone was freaking out. They were so happy for us.”

Joe and Carlie returned home from the lake and immediately began packing for their trip northeast. All of the girl clothes, pink blankets and other accessories Joe and Carlie received while being gender specific were stored away, and newly bought boy clothes and blue blankets were added to their suitcases.

Even though they originally wanted a girl, Joe said there was absolutely no decline in their excitement. Jalen was excited to have a brother too and even helped pick out a few outfits for him. Quite simply, they all could not wait to meet their baby boy.

Little did the family know, however, the real excitement was soon to come while in New York City.

A Welcome Wakeup Call

“IT’S A GIRL!” Carlie’s yell echoed through the Manhattan apartment. “OH MY GOSH, IT’S A GIRL!”

Joe grinned from ear to ear. Carlie cried and jumped out of bed with the phone still in hand and the hospital social worker still on the other end.

“Jalen! Jalen! It’s a girl!

Jalen threw the blankets over his head, disappointed that he bought a couple of boy outfits that he was excited to dress his brother in. His disappointment would not last long, however.

Beyond thrilled to finally meet their baby girl, the family arrived at the hospital that afternoon, just two blocks from Times Square. They went into the birth mother’s hospital room and met her for the first time. Immediately, they absolutely loved her for who she was and what she did for their family. She then called for their baby to be brought in.

And that was it, the first time Joe and Carlie laid eyes on their baby daughter, Hallie Rose.

“She was beyond what I ever expected,” Carlie said. “Joe was balling. I was in disbelief. She was so perfect. I couldn’t believe she was our baby.”

Of course, Jalen was excited too. He finally met the sister he always wanted ever since he was much younger – the boy outfits he picked out were more than an afterthought. In fact, Jalen was one of the main reasons why Hallie would be his sister: The birth mother chose Joe and Carlie partially because Jalen reminded her of her own brother.

Joe, Carlie and Jalen spent the following night site-seeing in New York City, getting ice cream, riding the enormous ferris wheel inside of Toys R Us, all of which would be their last memories as a family of three.

On Friday morning, the papers were signed and Hallie Rose was officially a member of their family. Their journey had culminated and there would be no more uncertainty and no more surprises. Joe and Carlie could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

“Going through the adoption process, you constantly have something in reserve, more excitement, because you aren’t quite sure if it’s real,” Joe said. “You get a little bit more excited each time. You get the call, you are excited; you get the call she is going into labor, you are a little higher; then you are at the hospital and you are more excited; and for us, which was icing on the cake, we got the call that it was a girl. Then you get there and it just keeps going up and up and up, and when the papers are finally signed, it’s just a big, welcomed relief.”

A week later, following ICPC clearances, the new family flew back to Kansas where dresser drawers full of girl clothes awaited Hallie that would not be returning to the stores as previously thought.

Hallie is Home

Throughout everything that happened, including their struggling with infertility, choosing to be gender specific and then changing their minds, Carlie believes to this day that Hallie was always meant to be a part of her and Joe’s family, and those were just the steps required to bring her home.

“We have learned that everything happens for a reason,” Carlie said. “The reason I was having second thoughts about being gender specific was because we wouldn’t have little Hallie Rose had we continued our request for a baby girl, since they originally thought she was a boy. Our advice to parents going through this tough process is to be calm, go about your daily life, pray about what you want to happen, trust your instincts, trust American Adoptions, and know that whatever is supposed to happen is going to happen.

“Knowing what we know now, and finally having our little Hallie Rose, we would have waited a lot longer for her. The road to get where we are now was not easy, but if we made it, anyone can. Our family is now complete.”

Their experience with adoption was so great that they hope to adopt again one day. However, they don’t know how they could ever top this one.

“Hallie is so perfect, I don’t know if this could happen again,” Carlie said. “And maybe every parent feels that way, like they got the perfect child, but we really feel like we did.”

                                              The first pics of us with our Sugar Bear:)