Okay, here’s a gut-honest, six-month summary (heck, why not?  I’m due for a wordy post! 🙂  

It’s been a veeeerrrrrrry stretching season for us financially (as with so many people right now…) The move was absolutely necessary to stay in business, but it took a toll on our savings and we pretty much bottomed out.  Then we had a couple of crummy situations where we were expecting large contracted payments to come in and were stiffed a lot of money, and then also had to deal with a legal lien because a different house went into foreclosure after our cabinets were installed.  Grrr.  It was really hard for me to be gracious about it all because we were still having to pay our guys, of course — but we were months behind in being able to support ourselves and I saw the huge, huge weight it put on Peter — and I was just so angry at the people who were holding out on us.  It’s been a good season for me to practice dealing with frustration properly!   We’ve gone through some tough times in the last six years since we started the business, but it’s been particulary stretching this time because we were still trying to play catch up from the move.  And, of course I was super-emotional about leaving all my friends and family behind… and transitioning from being a country/farm girl ALL my life to living here in the middle of civilization.  And of course, some marriage issues came up as they usually do when both parties are uber-stressed and feeling crushed under the worries of life, finances and transitions. 

So, yeah — moving really kicked my tail.  It did.  Every time I thought I was finally getting my feet under me, some new crisis would come up and I’d land flat on my back again.  We’ve also been dealing with some not-so-fun relational drama over the last eight months since the move — but I’ll spare ya all the gory details.  Ha ha ha… seriously, though, I love life!  And I really don’t want to be a whiner, because yes, there are starving children in Africa and there are awful, terrible situations all over the world SOOOO much worse than the last eight months have been for this wimpy, selfish gal.  But, um, — in the interest of full disclosure, I figured I should be real with this post.  🙂 

 So anyway, we’ve gotten really creative with how simply we can live this year.  We were already down to one vehicle when we moved so we couldn’t downsize there, but we’ve been cutting out every other “extra.”  We’ve been eating a lot of beans and rice and figuring out how to use less energy and make smarter decisions about what we consume on every level.  Plus, we’ve been single-handedly keeping our local Craigslist stocked with stuff from around the house!  It’s all along the lines of reducing use and simplifying life – a drum I’ve been beating for years – but when it REALLY comes down to it and its necessity, not just choice,  its a little harder.  Because we’ve always lived on a farm, we’ve usually had a huge garden in the summer and grown chickens and the like, but now that we are almost-city folk, we don’t have the advantage of living off the land as much as we did in the past — so, I’m having to re-think the way I do things.  It’s been a challenge… but a good one. 

We found an AWESOME little church that we’ve plugged into.  Peter is playing the keyboard on the worship team — which gives him a lot of life.   The church is mostly comprised of young families our age with lots and lots of kids around the same ages as ours.  They have a huge heart for the nations, particularly Africa — and it felt like coming home when we walked in the doors that first Sunday.  There is a strong sense of community and we love the emphasis on giving and living compassionately.  They have several projects that they’ve started in Tanzania and Burundi (East Africa) including orphanages, schools and housing projects and we’re excited about getting more involved with them.  I’ve made a couple of good friends through the church… such a gift. 

Changing subjects: (this is going to be a very random post!) Henry hasn’t had any more seizures since we moved and we are hoping that it was an isolated experience.  He did go in for another series of MRI scans late last year to determine if the cysts in his brain had grown or changed in any way since the previous set of scans last spring.  I was a little nervous going into them… especially since it was after the last set of MRIs that we found out about the polymicrogyria and the cysts.  But, thankfully everything looks just the same!  So we’ll continue monitoring them with scans and tests once or twice a year.   He’s been in therapy consistently once a week for the last six months and he loves it.  We’re so grateful for the “birth to three” program here in Idaho.  His wonderful therapist comes out to the house every Wednesday and it’s like a play date for Henry.  It’s going to be really hard on him in July when he turns three and has to say goodbye to “his Carrie.”
(*funny little Henry story… he calls a lot of things “his” and the other day we were at church and I was talking to him about our drummer, Tamsen, who was born in Nigeria and adopted by a Scottish couple, and is now living here.  Anyway, she and Henry have a special connection and I was telling him that Tamsen was born in Africa, too.  Henry’s eyes got HUGE and he said almost incredulously, “MY AFRICA??????”  He thinks the whole continent belongs to him!)

March was a significant month for us – it marked the tipping point where we could celebrate Henry being a part of our family for over half of his life!  It was his sixteenth month home and he had been fifteen months old when we traveled to pick him up.  Yay! 

He’s doing well medically — and in every other way.  He’s most DEFINITELY a type “A”, strong-willed, FULL of beans, leader-esque personality.  WOW.  I’ve always admired parents who are doing a good job raising strong-willed kids, but didn’t thoroughly understand or appreciate their dedication until now!   He also is super-charismatic. People just flock to him, and he eats it up…  He is the life of the party everywhere we go and has the craziest sense of humor for such a little person.  Really, his timing and instincts are remarkable.  I’ve laughed more at him than at any other person in my life.  I think he has a future in comedy.  He’s been potty-trained completely for about a month now, unless he gets mad and then he uses his little squirt-gun pistol to his advantage (yeah, not sure quite what to do about that!)  He is incredibly advanced in the language and comprehension department.  Peter and I are constantly giving each other puzzled, amazed looks about something Henry has just said.  How can he POSSIBLY be so stinkin’ smart?  He remembers specifics of conversations that Peter and I had weeks ago… that we didn’t even realize he was listening to, but he brings it up later.  Keeps us on our toes, that’s for sure!

Joanna is growing so quickly.  She has entered the “why” phase of life and I am running out of answers!  Guess it’s time to hit the encyclopedias!  She’s really into bugs these days… and riding her bike, and playing house… and all the other typical four-year-old interests.  I sometimes just stare at her with amazement, wondering how in the WORLD that the teeny tiny little baby that was born just yesterday can possibly be so big and so grown-up.  Does this amazement ever stop?  Do you just keep thinking that until they are twenty-two?  Golly sakes, it’s crazy!

And she really is so sweet.  I love her gentle, compassionate soul.   Of course, she has her insanely difficult moments just like any kid, but for the most part she is very sensitive and quick to respond well.  She still has significant food intolerances, so we keep trucking along down the organic, whole-foods, non-hybridized highway!

In other news: We applied to an agency a few weeks ago to start our next adoption.  We are expecting it to take at least a couple of years though, because we’re really at ground zero with the financing (yep, especially with things being so tight right now… but we feel so strongly that adoption is the way we’re supposed to grow our family, so we’re just going to keep putting a little away each month and start fund-raising hard this summer.)   We’ll start our homestudy this fall as long as everything is still in place (i.e. as long as we still have work!) It’s nice having a longer time-frame in mind here at the beginning because then (hopefully!) I won’t get as antsy waiting (ha ha… wishful thinking, I’m sure.)  Anyway, we’re open to a lot of different special needs and also to a sibling group, so we’re just moving forward and trusting that the right doors will open at the right time just like they did with Henry.   Due to country regulations, we aren’t going to share any specifics on the blog until we’re farther into the process.  Plus, there probably won’t be many updates for a while since we are waaaay back at the starting line (and this time around I know exactly what that means! No false expectancies here! 😉

As we were tossing around some ideas at the beginning of the year about ways we could finance another adoption, Peter really encouraged me to pursue the dream I’ve had of doing photography professionally.  So, I took a few months and got really serious about finishing the schooling I’d been doing and upgraded my gear and took the plunge.  So far I have been so blessed by the tremendous response and encouragement from both old friends and new clients.  I’m so aware that I am smack-dab in the middle of a dream coming true.   It’s always an amazing feeling to stop and look around and realize that in the midst of all the busyness and craziness of living life, a very real dream is being realized.  Of course, it’s taken a lot of work and a lot of mistakes, and I’m still learning soooo much and have a long ways to go —  but I’m loving it every bit as much as I suspected I would.  It’s a joy to spend time with people and touch their lives a little and give them a piece of their history frozen in time.  People have always fascinated me and I love meeting new families and hearing about their passions and stories.  And of course, I have this other dream of photographing children in Africa someday… Maybe doing a little photojournalism and raising awareness through images and personal stories.  It’s a long life, right?  Lots of time left for more dreams… and for now, I’m loving this new venture and the hope that it will help bring another child (or two or three!) to our family.

Here’s the link to my website: http://ambergphoto.com  And to my photo blog (which I actually have been posting on the last six months… I know, I know… how unfaithful is that?)  http://ambergphotoblog.com.  Anyway, as much as I’ve loved it, it’s taken a lot of time to launch the business end of things and design the site, and get my portfolio built up.  But it’s definitely been worth it and I’m so enjoying the sessions now and looking forward the rest of the summer. 

So… now I guess most of the biggies are caught up to speed!

And since a post without a photo is, well… just plain sad! — here are a couple of my recent favorite shots of the kids. 

Jo picking dandelions:

jo 11

Henry laughing hysterically:

henry lolli