Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I started a blog over a year ago and haven't been keeping up with it much.

It's called Orphans and Widows and it follows our adoption journey.

The purpose of this blog is to expose the process.

Really the Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why of it all.

My goal is to make it as real as it is.

No sugar coating... just our true journey.

I'm not a gifted writer, but I know God can and will use me according to His purposes.

We aren't perfect parents... just 2 imperfect people, trying our best to share His perfect love.

Please check it out and follow us!


{Oh! And did you check out our fancy new tabs at the top of this blog? Click on the "Adoption" tab}

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Summer Sum-up!

Summer is officially over, and I have finally gotten around to blogging about it.

Lots has happened since mid-July...

Here are the highlights:

So I know that's a lot to take in on paper. 
It was a lot to do! So to help, I captured some of the events on camera...

Here we go in a chronological order...

The annual Maino Golf Tournament took place at the Silverado in Napa this year. While I love Sea Scape, this was a fun change! Napa is surprisingly close to us... it only took a little over an hour to get there! Which is great because for the first time ever, Mark was called into the office (in Folsom!) because he was... on-call! Yes, it was a root canal emergency... they do happen... and at incredibly inconvenient times too, apparently. So... Mark got to play half of the tournament this year but didn't miss the big "award" ceremony where he got to hand off the Maino Cup to the next champ ;).

In the mean time, Mom and I explored the Wine Country with our little guy. We had lunch in Yountville at Pacific Blues, shopped around V Marketplace, and indulged at Bouchon Bakery. The bakery was impressive... right up there with Magnolia Bakery in New York... possibly even better! There was a line that wrapped around the building... which is by far the best advertisement/rating any shop could have (although I do enjoy the dancing teenagers, rockin' out on their iPods, spinning signs on the street corners...)! When we finally got in, we ordered cookies, carmel corn, and lattes. A fabulous girl's afternoon to balance the boy's golf game fun!

Back at the resort we had fun swimming and making swords out of sticks. When Ethan went down for a nap, Mom and I read and continued eating baked goods. How sweet naptime is!

Here are some action photos from the Resort:

Love my big boy!
Goofy Ethan! 

Before we headed home, we visited Castello di Amorosa.
Ethan was super excited to go to "the Castle"!

We even got a little wine tasting in because they had a coloring table for kids 
(with complimentary grape juice)!

Potty Power

I knew that after we went camping and to Napa this summer, that it was time to start potty training.
To be honest, I was not looking forward to this weekend!
It takes a lot of courage as a parent to say good-bye to diapers and allow your child to run around the house with just big boy underpants on. *wince* Diapers are just so easy (and convenient!)
But I did it. And solo too!
Mark headed to San Francisco for a last minute conference to fulfill his licence requirements.
I didn't want to delay potty training any longer though because I really felt that Ethan was ready since April, so I bit the bullet.

We rented the movie Potty Power from the library, and it was a huge hit! Ethan voluntarily started running to the bathroom! He never once had a #2 accident and the transition was super natural!

We gave super big praises anytime he peed/pooped in the potty and also gave him a skittle/m&m as a reward.

He got a giant water color book for going poops 5x on the potty!

We spent our potty training days wearing only his big boy underwear. 
That's it.
He made it look cool though ;)

Here is a chart of Ethan's Potty Power progress... in the end I found out that we really only needed the chart for poops because he did every step so much that it was more laborious to choose each sticker, peel them off, put them on the wall....... in the end, all I care about is.... did you pee/poop in the potty?

As you can see... if he pooped in the potty 10x, he could go to the castle!...

And he did!
Unfortunately it happened to be one of the hottest days of the summer when he did.
But... a promise is a promise!

Mark's an Ed-u-ma-kater @ Hah-vard

In the beginning of August, Mark left with his older brother, Jeremy, to teach a couple endo classes at Harvard. 
A little background on Mark, he is super close to his brothers. There is serious "brotherhood" goin' on in the Young Family... and all 4 of them would do anything for each other.
It's pretty amazing!
So when Mark had the opportunity to teach with Jeremy and stay with Eric and his family in Boston... he was all for it! (and so was I!)

Mark got to meet Natalia, one of our newest nieces, and spend time with Abby & Bella - our other nieces - and Krystyna (our sis-in-law).
He also got to see faculty from when he was in residency and play the opposite roll as teacher.

Mark is an amazing teacher. He is brilliant, but intelligence doesn't always equal good teaching.
He has an ability to explain things from multiple angles and use analogies appropriate to various audiences. In college he tutored a 3rd grader in math as well as his peers in Organic Chemistry. 
He teaches me and is patient with me... and I've gotta say, sometimes I'm flat out impressed with what he comes up with to get me from A to B... as up hill as it may be for us both!

So, residents @ Harvard, you lucked out! ;)

Roooaaaad Trip!

Soooo.... while Mark was in Boston, Ethan vacationed at Grandma Young's, and I went on a girl's get away to LA. Specifically, the garment district.

One of my favorite Mamas, Karyss, teaches a craft class at Lakeside. She's inspired many of us with her powerful story and encouraged us to be creators ourselves (after all, aren't we made in His image? The creator of the Universe?)

The four of us talked, shopped, ate, laughed... oh, and we brought an infant along too... Hangover style. Baby Scarlett was born weeks before the trip and Karyss brought her along like she never skipped a beat! 

The following girls went to LA and - surprise! - we all have shops on etsy now.

Oh Karyss... What have you done? :)

And my shop, Young Love Boutique!

Thanks to Jennifer Jarvis, I have a fabulous shop name :)
It's all very exciting and I love, love creating new things! I love sharing this interest with 3 other wonderful, God-filled girls, and I LOVE that I can do this in my "free time", watching a movie with Mark after a long day, AND priority shipping picks up at my door step! NO post office visits with a toddler!

I've added a mini shop to the side bar of my blog... check it out!
And if you would, please LIKE my shop on Facebook!

Cabin Fever

Soon after I got back from LA, I picked up Ethan and headed to my parent's cabin.
Ethan looooves "Papa's Cafin"

At the cabin we all got to be creative!

Ethan and Mommy time, coloring together.
We made a pretty exciting pirate scene!

I used his nap times to craft and took pictures of my creations to post on etsy. 
The lighting was perfect!
Ethan wondered why I was using a "sword" to string bracelets.
Grandma and Grandpa took us to a concert at the park. 
E made a sweet baby friend and "shared" all his toys!

We went to the "beach" everyday. This was my favorite thing to do as a girl. I love that Ethan can have the same memories!
He got to go on the paddle boats with Grandpa and we had a picnic lunch... fun in the sun!

Ethan helped Grandpa with the wood...

He had lots of tickle attacks with Grandma...

And my Dad, best Daddy in the WORLD!, played with Ethan so Mom and I could spend a day shopping, getting pampered, and eating lunch.
It was a true blessing to have that time, alone, with my Mama.

I cherish times like this with my parents. I am truly blessed to have a Mom and Dad who love me and my family unconditionally. We missed Mark, but understood that "kids" at the Crimson Club need a priceless education ;)

Hawaii Meets Disney

In September we went to Oahu with Mom and Dad Young.
This trip was a dream come true for us... especially Ethan.
A whole week with Grandma and Grandpa, at the beach, and Mickey Mouse is there?

Here are some pictures of the trip:

Our first day we explored the Disney Aulani Resort and walked to Longboards (at the Marriott) for dinner.
I was hopeful they would have Hula Pie for dessert... they did not.
But an amazing sunset? Absolutely!

There were so many amazing "Disney" quality, kid-friendly things at the hotel.
Some of our favorites included:

The lazy river (where we got to pass through a cave with bubbling water and "smoke")
An erupting volcano slide
Character Breakfasts
Infinity edge spas
The beach

They had lots and lots of of other fun things for kiddos, but we mainly did the above when we stayed at the resort.

One night there was a Disney Luau with a Special Dance Party for kids.
Ethan had a blast!!!

One morning we got to feed the fishies...

Beach fun!

... more fun!!

Character breakfast!
Ethan loooved the characters :)

There was singing and dancing and coconut playing!

We visited Pearl Harbor.
It was such a special experience for Mark to visit with his Dad, who was in the Navy.
Mom said she checked this one off her bucket list, too :)

Polynesian Cultural Center.
Our personal guide, Wi, was out of this world amazing!
(As I write this now - a month later - Ethan still remembers her name!)
She took special care of our little, curious wanderer and acted as part babysitter so we could watch the shows too! 

It was a very full day...
Ethan got to go on stage and get "crowned", we attempted to make fire, attended a luau, and saw "Ha: Breath of Life". But perhaps the most "exciting" part of the day was when Ethan rolled down a few rocky steps and split his chin open.
The first aid guys had to come "rescue" our boy.
We were able to make do with a butterfly band aid and no stitches, praise Jesus!

Brave Boy

We ate good. I know you're supposed to say, "We ate well." But seriously... it was better than "well". 
It was gooooood!

All 4 of us would say after each and every meal how amazing it was that we hadn't had a single dinner that wasn't phenomenal! And we skipped on Roy's, too!

Mark, you are the best husband in the world, for so many reasons... but right now, at this moment, it's because you wined and dined us every night.
Please, please teach our son to pass this tradition down to us ;)

It was Dad's birthday while we were there and that, my friends, was the night we got our Hula Pie!!!
His had a special candle on it ;)


Our last trip was a Family Vacation (of 3) to Disneyland (3rd weekend in September)
Ethan could. not. wait. for this trip.
Netflix has an "all about Disneyland" show that we watched to build anticipation...
it worked!

Here are some memorable snapshots:

Mark and Ethan were so excited to wear their Superman shirts!

Ethan told Peter Pan and Wendy that he's going to be Peter Pan for Halloween :)

Waiting in line for the Peter Pan ride...
This time around, (+) Ethan stayed with us in each line and did not run away to explore but (-) he cried and sobbed in agony as he waited for his turn.
If you ask me, it was an overall plus... no more chasing = +++

Sword and the Stone time...

Exploring the Big Disney Store and watching the parades...

Auntie Christie joined us for dinner!
She's a fun Auntie!!!

Ethan breakin' it down to the street music...

Day 2:
California Adventures...

We rode the Micky Mouse Ferris Wheel for the first time together!
Shaky bridge and doggie fun!

Cooling off!

Crazy Car Ride!

Dinner Show and Rain Forrest Cafe!
(PS - the Elephant trunk was literally a foot - a foot and a half from my face... not awkward at all)

Working on our thumbs up...


Last Day:
Buzz Light Year Fun!

We tried to "sneak" Ethan into Star Tours. What? He's a tall kid for his age... 
Well, we got kicked out anyway.
Don't judge.
But... we got to go on the rocket ships!

Tea Cups... and a special lollipop for going poop in the potty!
Daddy loves his boy!

Tarzan Tree House!
Pirates... this was an everyday ride. 
That and the Train Ride around the park. 
Ethan called it the Dinosaur Train (after the tv show) but also because you got to see dinosaurs at one point in the loop!

E loved saying at the top of his lungs, "Allll aboard!"

On the last day, Ethan wore his pirate costume on the ride... 

Foster Care

We are blessed with so much.
So much love, support, and time together.
God has given us so much and we want to give too, by His example.

When Ethan has a hard time sharing his things with other kids and says, "No, it's mine!" we ask him, "Who owns everything?"
and he says, "God owns everything"
"That's right. God owns everything and He shares with us. 
He shares with us so we can share with others."

I want to live that out as a grown-up too!

In April 2011, God planted a seed in both our hearts to adopt.
Ethan was just over a year old when that happened.
After much prayer and thought, we decided that one day it was something we would do.

We've signed up to be a Safe Family through Koinonia  and we are currently in the process of becoming foster parents - through the county - to one day fost-adopt.

This summer we started to take the steps to become licensed foster parents.
We have a few more hoops to jump through and then we'll be ready to take babies!

We have big dreams and big ideas of what that looks like... but we are letting God lead us in this!
It's amazing to me that we went from being 100% opposed to adopting to 100% for it.

God moves mountains.

Mark is amazing... once again... and his total faith and leadership of our family encourages me in my faith in this area.

My brother, Ryan, is also amazing.
My parents adopted him when he was days old from Hawaii.
Days after that, our parents found out they were pregnant with me.
I know, you've heard this story before... from some other family... it's ours too.

When Mark and I told Ry we were thinking about adopting, he sat down with us and said, "Ask me anything you want!", so we did... until 11pm.

I don't know or understand how God orchestrates things, but He's proven Himself over and over that He is faithful, He is loving, and He really does "work all things for good for those who love Him" despite our broken world and the brokenness we contribute to it.

Ryan is a wonderful Uncle and I know he will be an outstanding support to us through this journey.

We ask for your prayers and support too!
Please pray for God's love to shine through us as we seek to live out James 1:27!


Another summer flew by... but the triple digit weather lingered into October...
We are now finally getting a break!

I have never been so excited for the holiday season/advent season to start!!
Bring on the hot chocolate, pumpkins, scarves... and memories :)