Filling the Nest Furlough

200 days....or 6 months 18 days.... Either way you put it, that's how long we've been a family of three, and bashfully that's about the same amount of time it has been since I last posted.  My goodness how life has changed! Taking a break from blogging was partially intended, yet I quickly learned that it was also partially unavoidable.  It has been a whirl wind of an experience in becoming parents and welcoming our daughter into our lives.  She has lit up our mornings...from what used to be sleeping in until 11:00am on any given weekend to now having a giggling little girl play hide and seek with us with the comforter at 7:15am.  Our back yard used to be a wasteland for our dog, Brie; it's now a sea full of adventure and splashing as we play in the kiddie pool, explore what's around us and swing underneath the tree [and for those of you who can't stop thinking about the dog poop comment...don't worry, we are much more diligent about picking up poo these days ;)].  Elmo has become an honorary guest at dinner time, car rides, tea parties, bath time, bedtime, walks around the neighborhood, trips to Home Depot or the grocery store and dates at the zoo.  Jewelery is fun for any girl, now matter what the age; yogurt makes a delicious meal AND hair mask (who knew Neutrogena?!); and dance parties with the music cranked up can cure some of the most tearful and crabby mommies daughters I know.  Bible stories before bed have not only become a favorite time for our daughter, but also a time when this mommy can reconnect in a busy day with the One who graciously welcomes me back to His Word...now matter how exhausted and stumbled I arrive at the end of a long day.  We are finding this new chapter of life to be full of goodness, amidst the focused attention we give to raising our toddler.

Natalie is doing really well.  She is healthy and has only been to the ER once, had surgery once, and made multiple car payments for her doctors in medical bills, but hey--we're sharing the love!?   She is talking a lot and mimicking almost anything we say or do which is super fun at times :)   And the attachment that has built between Justin and I and Natalie is downright incredible.  It has been amazing to watch how God is knitting us together.  In His remarkable way,  God has shepherded Natalie Degeme to open her heart to trust us as her parents and I cannot type the right words out here to express to you how thankful I am that she is home and our daughter.

This nest is filling, one child at a time, and we are delighting ourselves in how Jesus Christ is growing our family.  Through the ups and downs of our first adoption, we know without a doubt we will be doing this again.  We don't have details yet, but God is stirring within us the desire to multiple our love through adoption again.  We are thrilled and know that in His timing, everything will fall into place!  If you noticed at the top of the page that there are a couple of new page tabs, titled "Our Family Signs" and "Our Partners".  We were given a beautiful Amharic family sign shortly after bringing Natalie home, and after much consideration and help from close friends, we decided to offer them to other adoptive families in the hopes that this will also be a way to help support our growing family.  We're excited to see what God has planned!


Our family of three :)

We're together!!  We are having such a great time learning our daughter, discovering our new roles as a mom and dad (both as parents and as husband and wife), and just soaking up all our time together with our friends here in Addis.  We have been incredibly blessed to have traveled with some fantastic adoptive families who have become very special to us.  We have also LOVED our time as a family of 3 with our Ethiopian brothers and sisters.  Oh my goodness part of me just doesn't want that to end!   If it weren't for the reality of Heaven, I might just get on the plane kicking and screaming ;)  But honestly, there is an amazing family we are coming home to and we cannot wait to introduce our daughter to you all!

If we could describe this time here in Addis, I think bliss might fit it well.  We have had such a sweet reunion with our daughter and her personality melts us both!!!  We've also been broken in with the pee, poop and puke, so we're not totally oblivious to the reality of having an 11 month old.  For this child we prayed, and as we begin to unwrap this little gift, we are seeing how God was very clearly preparing our hearts for this newness in life.  From my transition from a wonderful career as an RN to my new role as a stay at home mom, to the numerous books and classes we took, to the advice and words of wisdom that came at just the right moments, we are loving every moment with her. Waking up in the morning and looking over at the pack n play FULL is the best feeling <3  Pinch me!

I know by this point every single last one of you reading this is here to see pictures (yep, been on your blogs for that same reason too!!), so here's what daily life with Natalie Degeme is lookin' like at "home" and with her nannies ....