Thursday, November 22, 2012

So much to be thankful for...

Last week, a prayer was answered.  We brought a baby girl into our home:  baby Isabella.  

Similar to Mercer's entry into our lives -- we have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, yet, we were unprepared because of how quickly things happened!

With Mercer, we had a 1 day's notice before he was born -- seeing if we were interested in pursuing the opportunity (which, of course, we were).  We found out we were selected the day after he was born.  We were boarding a plane the next day headed for Colorado to pick him up. 

With Isabella, we got a call the morning after she was born about the opportunity to pick her up THAT DAY -- November 14th.  Todd was a "single dad" the day the call came and the huge responsibility of pulling everything together fell on him, as I was in California on business.  

After Todd and I spent hours conferring, reviewing the health history, and discussing how to make the logistics of this work (while I was on the other side of the country).... we decided to "go for it."  He was able to call in at his office / explain that he needed to take the day off so he could begin working on the tasks at hand:
- Getting the homestudy documents pulled together so we could turn over a copy 
- Buying a car seat and installing it in the car
- Pulling out and cleaning a lot of Mercer's old stuff together clothes, bottles, and gear

He was almost ready, but got a call about an hour before he was to pick up the baby that it was post-poned 'til the next day.  On one hand, it was disappointing, but on the other hand, there was a sigh of relief.  There would be another day to prepare and get ready + there would be time for me to catch a flight home.  Whew!

I made it home Thursday morning.  We went back through the homestudy documents, went through more of Mercer's baby gear, sorted through items that neighbors & friends had dropped off the night before, and even ran a couple of errands.  We were trying to stay busy until "the call" to go to the hospital came.  

It felt like it took forever, but the call came and around 2:30 pm on Thursday the 15th, we met the adoption agency director at the hospital which was less than a mile from our house.  After taking care of all of the legal stuff, we went up to the nursery where baby Isabella was released.  As seen, I had to ride down to the door in a wheelchair with the baby.  Once in the car, it took us no time to get home & begin getting settled.  This beautiful bundle was really in our home!!!  It was a little scary (for me) the first day trying to remember how to take care of a newborn, but it all came back very quickly!

We got settled in, tended to her needs, figured out a few additional items we needed to purchase (such as formula so that the baby would have enough food to get through the night!), then I picked up Mercer from school.  

He and I went shopping quickly.  He picked out a little pink doll to give his new sister.   He was shy at first, but then grew more comfortable with her and even started interacting and playing with her. It was such a blessing to watch him laugh, smile, kiss her, and rub her head.  That night, he even laid his favorite stuffed animal on her lap to share with her (but he did ask for it back right before he went to bed).  It was a beautiful day for all of us!

Isabella Grace Groves
Born Tuesday, November 13th at 5:56 am
6 lbs 13 oz
18 1/2" long
Marietta, Georgia

Brought to our loving home Thursday, November 15th

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Catching up

There was so much to blog about last month.  Actually, we've done a lot (so far) this month too.  But in an effort to catch up... here are the cool things to blog about as of late.

Todd & I had a meeting with Mercer's teacher.  All-in-all he's doing VERY well.  She says that he's different than many boys.  He's active and rough-and-tumble like normal, but unlike the other boys he is also extremely observant about his classmates, teachers, and surroundings.  He notices when someone is not there, he notices when the teacher is not feeling well.  He notices when the slightest of things have been changed and will ask why.  We heard from his teacher last year and the teacher this year too that he is very caring -- has a huge heart.  For instance, if a kid in the class doesn't have a place to sit, Mercer will give up his chair.  Interesting!

She says he's the leader of the class.  Whatever Mercer does - the rest of the kids do.  (You wouldn't know it talking to him after school each day, though.  He and his classmates do have tiffs.  So-and-so pushed me.  So-and-so scratched me.)  Mercer does his fair share of doling it out too, unfortunately.  She also told us that sometimes he acts-out because he's frustrated.  He's a perfectionist and if he's trying to do something / can't master it... he's really hard on himself.  He's ambitious and really wants to learn. 

He is excelling in his school work.  There's really nothing that she's concerned about -- in fact when she realized he's only 4 -- she said that he's excelling.  For some reason, she thought he was 5.  At the conclusion of the parent-teacher conference, she kept saying that she couldn't believe he was only 4. She wanted us to let him know how proud we are of him because this is very important to him -- that he knows he's doing a good job.  We're impressed with what all he's learning -- countries, states, numbers, and putting words together with sound groups.  We are happy about the choice made to keep him on the same track in the Montessori program. 

He's also getting better at riding his bike & trying to perfect the skill.  One day when we had some nice weather and nothing on the calendar, we decided to head over to a local park to practice his bike-riding.  This park is level and has a nice loop that he could ride on.  Literally, as soon as we got there, there was another little boy getting out of his car next to ours -- his family had brought his bicycle too.  

The two boys talked and then started riding their bikes together.  This other child was pretty proficient at it & would speed off, but it motivated Mercer to try to keep up and to continue riding even if he did take a little tumble.  Of course, he had to play on the playground while there as well.  And - Todd and I encouraged that we go on a little hike while at the same park, as there's a nice bridge over a little stream we like to look at.  

We've done some other hiking this fall as well... because of the letterbox ("treasure stamp") hobby that we have, we were directed to another BEAUTIFUL hiking spot along a river in North Georgia.  

We didn't make it to the top where the big waterfall was located, but we found a nice smaller water fall along the way.  We had to "climb" down on tree roots & vines to get down to this smaller fall; we heard that getting to the larger fall required even more climbing up roots and could have been possibly dangerous for a 4 year old -- so -- its OK that we didn't make it that far!  We were happy to have discovered this spot where camping is allowed.  Todd thought it may be fun to have a guys camping night sometime with neighbors & their sons.  

We also went apple picking this fall.  We went to the same place as last year:  Mercier Orchards.  Mercer enjoyed going all the way to the top of the trees.  This may be the last time that Todd can pick him up to reach the top of the trees.  Next year, he'll just have to climb to the top of the tree on his own!

The hike, the apple picking, and the corn maze about rounded out our fall travels to the mountain areas.  We got to see a lot of nice color in the trees and get out in the crisp fall air.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

This week...

...Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast.  It was absolutely devastating in New York City and surrounding areas. Todd's family is safe and thankfully, their homes were not flooded.  Todd's mom and dad have been staying in south Jersey with his sister, Tonia, until their power returns.  Tonia's kids have been out of school, too, and will actually celebrate Trick or Treat on Monday, November 5th.  Here in Atlanta, we were getting strong winds from the storm and the power flickered. It's crazy to think that the same storm was having a (minor) impact down here.  Our hearts really go out to those affected -- especially those that are suffering a great loss of a loved one.  Also, it's hard to imagine your home being completely flattened and all of your possessions (like photos) washed away.  It will take years for the northeast to recover from Sandy's wrath.

Halloween went on here as planned. For Mercer's costume, he resoundingly wanted to be Spider Man. (I was a little bummed that we didn't make something - like last year)  Oh well... little guy knows what he wants now.  I went to his school's Halloween party the morning of, but noticed he was not wearing his costume.  The teacher said he was acting like Spider Man -- running all over the place -- so he had to take it off.  ~ha~

He really only wore his full costume for photos, though.  During the neighborhood Halloween party after school and while actually trick-or-treating he took his mask off.  Here's a shot of him in (partial) costume with a little girl that he must really like a lot.  This little girl, Edith, lives in our neighborhood, goes to our church, and is in his class at school.  They ran around the neighborhood party together, but it always takes him awhile to stop acting shy around her when we see her out of context of school. 

The weekend before Halloween, Todd carved a great Spider Man pumpkin.  Mercer and I made a Mr. Potato head (ish) pirate pumpkin.  He really got into where to stick everything & drawing extra features on the pumpkin too.  He was pretty proud of his "creation."

All-in-all, he had a great time.