Sunday, January 12, 2014

August Surprise *weepy* Baby Shower!

Do you ever get weepy?

I am having a seriously weepy week! 

It's a bit ridiculous, really.

Ethan and I youtubed Disney's Frozen to watch a few of his favorite scenes/songs.


During our small group, we prayed for one another… dry for that… JJ closed the prayer thanking God for our group…

I Cried.

I log onto my blog to post the missing pictures from August Surprise! about Grace's surprise baby shower.

You guessed it….
I Cried.

I've cried randomly so much this week that Mark just looks at me and smiles… knowing what's coming before the first tear squeezes out.

And that, oddly enough!, makes me want to cry!


Anyway, here are pictures of the surprise baby shower my beautiful and loving friends secretly organized, crafted, and plotted together.

Nothing but love in this picture:

I didn't leave out a single photo!
I couldn't possibly forget a single snapshot!

Girly Favors <3

Miss Mindy is quite talented with a sewing machine and making banners.
This burlap and lace GRACIE banner is now in her nursery :)

Headband making station.
And, so fitting… it is a rare occasion when Grace is without a bow on her head :)

Something really beautiful about the decor - aside from the shabby chic, burlap & lace! - was all the newborn/family pictures we had taken right when we got Grace.

It really added a personal and *weepy* touch to the shower.

That and the scriptures that really pressed on my heart throughout our adoption journey were typed and framed around the house too.

Our small group "coincidentally" studied the book of Ephesians when we got Grace.
So… there were moles to this operation ;)

I was doomed for kleenex.

Now for the surprise! 

I was told that this was a "Girls Night In".

{My View}

{Their View}

I was super confused at first.
Running off of little sleep… this was a common. 

When it finally clicked… I think that's when the picture was taken above.

Wondering if Mark knew what was going on… he had already sped off with Ethan in the Truck.

"Was HE in on THIS TOO?" asking as I arrived to the "Girls Night In"
Basket of wine and goodies in one hand...
Baby girl in the other…

Let's eat! And drink sangrias ;)
A benefit to not nursing!

Pass the baby!

She had no idea… this was all because of her.

Some pictures just melt my heart! This is one...

… and this makes me smile! Big :D

Preggo/Nursing drink… punch ;)



That awkward, talking snapshot…

Thank you, girls. You enrich my life more than you know.
You shine brightly in my treasure box as each one of you holds a piece of my heart!
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
- Matthew 6:21

This man… my greatest treasure.
And with him, my littlest and most precious treasures of all!

Ok, I admit to tearing up as I type this.
This woman.

My heart has been through such depths with her throughout the last 4 years+.
Crises after crises… and also, joy shared between our two families.
I can't even fathom my life in Folsom/EDH without her.

She is as beautiful, kind, gentle, and wonderful as she seems.
She is one of the very best mothers I know.
Her heart is so pure and loving.
Her husband is a very lucky man, indeed!
And so are her 3 precious babies!

Our families are the only 2 surviving "couples" in our small group.
The OG if you will ;)
There is nothing I wouldn't do for her and her family.
Big. Big! jewel in my treasure chest of blessings ;)

She also is a jewel of a photographer {See her Blog here!} and took the pictures scattered around the house. 
She's gifted!
And her gift? 
Made me cry… 

A canvas picture of me holding Grace with the word "Chosen" followed by Ephesians 1:4-6 highlighting the words He chose uslove, adopted, grace, freely given.

It was so beautiful, so professional, I didn't realize it was Grace and me!
I truly thought it was a canvas print with scripture she got at the Family Christian Bookstore, or wherever… something you could find under "Great Gifts for the Adoptive Parent".

When I realized that it was us… that's when the tears flowed. 
Because as beautiful and professional as it was, it was so personalized
SO perfect.

That woman.

The picture is in Grace's nursery and we used it as a focal point during her Meet & Greet/Sip & See BBQ. We reused lots of the shower decor, actually ;)

I never used to be this weepy.

In fact, old friends will tell of a different Allie. 
One whose cheeks were always dry.

I'm not sure if I cracked (from the dryness that is!) or if life just weathered me to change seasons, but in general, my eyes are leaky.

Since becoming water works… life is fuller and… better!

Contrary to what I thought in my younger years, vulnerability is strength.
Strength to be who you want to be… and genuinely be it!

Brene Brown says in her book Daring Grately,

"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness."

I know it's not always appropriate to cry… but I just don't care.

You see, I want to have genuine relationships with people and allow them to know me.
If I cry… it means something genuine is happening at that moment.

It's me being vulnerable. 
It's me making a connection and being fully human.

At the risk of sounding vain… It's me being beautiful.
{Unless I ugly cry. Then that's just me… ugly crying ;)}

I'm not sure, but I think this is why Mark smiles at me before I cry. 
Knowing what is about to happen.
He's smiling at my heart… being beautiful… and being brave enough to expose it.
In all it's weepy glory.

"Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want great clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path." - Brene Brown

Thursday, January 2, 2014

August Surprise!

August 2013

August was a bit… foggy.
Like SF foggy in the summer.

It started with a surprise.
I'm one who LOVES surprises.

{Back it up}

When Mark and I started to approach our one year wedding anniversary, I could not wait to surprise him with the gift I had made! I knew he would love it and… I ended up being right ;)

The traditional 1st wedding anniversary gift is paper, so I drew him a picture of his favorite view on our walks down Baker Beach...

He LOVED it. 
I, however, forbid him to hang in anywhere except his office (preferably in a corner where only he can see it). Because contrary to what he says, I'm positive he likes it because I made it…
Kinda like how I LOVE Ethan's doodles.

Anyway, I was disappointed to happen to come across… by accident… as I was snooping in his email… ???…. that he had purchased tickets to see the Off Broadway Show "Wicked" in SF.
His Paper Gift = Tickets.


Ok, so I know I shot myself in the foot on that one…
but there was no longer a surprise.
Most of the gift for me is the surprise.

So… I told him.

I also might have complained and accused him of trying to send me some crazy underlying message about me as the title of the play suggests… 
… I dono… 
you start to say crazy things when you shoot yourself in the foot I guess.

He insisted that he wasn't suggesting anything.
{But just might of had the play been titled "Crazy Snooping Wife With Unrealistic Expectations"}

The gracious man that he was didn't get mad at me, but instead thought up another gift to "surprise" me with:

Can you tell a man in love wrapped this:

Anyway, I got my surprise! He bought me an iPod (remember those?!) in pink - fav color - with a personalized message on the back.

He also did another "paper" surprise and gave me a travel scrapbook (since I was a scrapbook nerd) and in the first page printed up a poem titled "One Year in Love".

I believe that was the last poem he has ever written me ;).

All to say… I love surprises!
(And yeah, I go a bit crazy over them!)

August started out with a surprise, but not a pleasant one.

While in LA with my mom shopping for Grace's nursery, I got a call from Anna, Gracie's birth mom, saying that she wanted to meet up when we were free so she could see "Kyleigh".

It had been a month and a half and we hadn't heard from her.
We had agreed to monthly visits... but after I hadn't heard from her, I figured it wasn't going to happen. 

The 30 days were up, but my heart still raced to think about it.

I knew I wanted this. 
I wanted this because I wanted to stay true to my word.
To continue to meet with one of the bravest girls I had ever met to encourage her and to encourage a relationship with her so that Grace would know her story.

But I also knew that I was terrified.
Until she was legally ours, I was afraid.
After having one child ripped from our home, I wasn't willing to do it again.
The unknown is absolutely terrifying!

So, when I got the call, I was surprised… but not.
Mark and I set a date to meet up with her the first weekend of August.

The day of the meet up, we had an alarm company already scheduled to set up an alarm system around the house. The man installing the system took hours to install.

Time was ticking and we needed to go meet up with Anna.

We asked the man how much longer it would take? He said maybe another 2-3 hours.

So, we called Anna and asked if she wouldn't mind pushing back our time to accommodate the alarm instillation.

Her response was the surprise that threw me into the SF Fog.

"Oh…well, I have family and friends here to see Kyleigh and one of them has to go to work later…"

You have to understand that it was taking everything inside of me to meet with her (and most likely a friend) for the very first time since taking her home. 
I was not, by any means, expecting a crowd for this private reunion.

A fresh batch of butterflies hatched inside my chest as I filtered my response, 
"I didn't realize I was coordinating schedules with anyone but you. I'll talk to Mark about it and see what we can do."

I hung up the phone and flipped out! 
I really didn't know how to handle it.

On one hand I felt like calling up our families to come with us so we would be equal in number… whatever number that would be!…
I felt totally threatened and unprepared.

While updating Mark, I got a text from her reading, 
"I'm sorry I didn't inform you, I kinda wanted all this to be a nice surprise."

Well… surprise!!

Mark, didn't seem to get my heightened state.
He actually saw it as a potential plus as there would be more people to interact with and hold conversation with.
He also said that maybe she really was trying to do something nice for us. 
Anna's heart is and always has been purely honest.
Not always crystal clear… but honest and of the best intentions.

Long story short, we canceled the alarm guy until the next day. 
All 4 of us drove out to Carmichael to meet the group at the park.

There they were. All the people who had been involved in Grace's life journey up until that point.
And it was better than I could have imagined.

Together they had made a potluck picnic, brought toys for Ethan to play with, and a blanket for the baby to lay on the ground.

They made it clear that they were all happy for Grace and were grateful for us. 
All they wanted was to see with their own eyes that she was in a loving home.

I totally respect that!

It was here that we told everyone that we were going to name "Kyleigh" 
Grace Elizabeth Kyleigh Young.

We spent 2-3 hours eating, playing, and doting over how beautiful and precious Gracie was.
She is very loved indeed <3

Surprisingly, it was a success.
There was much closure to the reunion and yet, wide open doors!
We said good-bye see you soon… and we did! The next month :D

I received a text from one of the Aunties later that day 
(same sweet lady who texted me from the hospital when she was born!)
She wrote:

"Gracie is truly blessed to have you all as her family. Thank you for sharing her and yourselves with us. We had a wonderful time. Hopefully, we can do it again in the future. Thank you again."

Really? Thank you.
Thank you for loving on our girl and her birth mom through this journey.
You all are some kind of angels.
Thank you. All of you!

The rest of August was less exciting.
I was ready to coast, if you know what I mean ;)

We threw a "Sip & See/Meet Gracie BBQ"
My best friend, Christina, and my Mom did an amazing job!!
Here are the pictures:

I really only captured pictures at the very beginning and the very end of the party.

Oh well!

We are grateful to everyone who came to meet our girl that day and welcome her into the family/community. She is blessed indeed!

Oh, and my girlfriends SURPRISED me with a baby shower for Grace prior to the BBQ.
I wish I had the pictures so you you could see the surprised look on my face when they shouted "surprise!"

THAT'S the SURPRISE I'm talkin' 'bout, ladies!
I love you girls!
Thanks for blessing my heart <3

August Smiles

Summer is our favorite!
The picture of Mark and Me to the top left below was the first picture Ethan ever took with a camera.
We escaped the summer heat with ice cream, swimming, and a few trips to the theatre to see Planes and Monsters University! More firsts for Ethan...

Mark and I were totally blessed by the Global Leadership Summit which took place August 2013.
Our church, Lakeside Church, hosted a live stream of the event.
 We had wanted to attend for years but always seemed to have a camping trip planned.

Not this year!

I am now in the middle of reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (one of the Summit's speakers).
My profession has changed from classroom teacher to full-time mom and home schooler.
I am thirsty for leadership advise on the topic of "vulnerability".
Wish I had read this years ago while I was still in the classroom!

After the Leadership Summit, Mark and I met up with my parents and my cousin, Kevin, and his brand new (die hard Giant's fan) wife, Jocelyn, for a Giants game.

It was Fellowship Day.

After the game, the players came back on the field (after a performance by Kutless) and shared their testimonies. There were some heart warming stories and you could tell the few who were totally sold out for Jesus. It was awesome!

Ethan was back in Sac having fun with his Grandma and Grandpa Young (and visiting cousins from Boston)… in the mean time, Grace attended her very first Pro Baseball Game.
Go Giants!

 In August we also had Mark's staff over for a swim party and BBQ dinner.
It was so nice to hang outside of work and just enjoy each other's families!

Ethan played with the kiddos until they all passed out from exhaustion.

 We continued Bible Study throughout the summer.
Thank God!

These friends of ours are the Body of Christ/hands and feet of Jesus for us.
It's like weekly therapy as encourage and challenge one another while we do life together.

And for the kids… it just gives them another excuse to enjoy childhood and be absolutely, ridiculously silly. See below ;)
And finally, here are some pictures of Mark as he transitions into a Daddy of 2.
He handles it like a champ.
Way to go, Hottie!