Friday, April 18, 2014

Current videos

Here are a few fun videos of what is going on in our life lately:

Abigail taking photos
Abigail and the frogs
Hannah on the move
Isaac riding his bike
Abigail: our pouter

Infertility Awareness Week

April 20-26 is "Infertility Awareness Week" and I am planning to do A LOT on my blog this year during the week.

I'd love for you to participate with me. 

If you have a story you'd like to share, please email me at 

In addition, please SHARE the blogs I write during this upcoming week on Facebook and help spread the word. The goal is to make sure the public:

  • Understands that infertility is a disease that affects 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age;
  • Acknowledges that there are many ways to build a family;
  • Understands that the disease of infertility impacts the physical, emotional, and financial health of those that are facing it;
  • And those trying to conceive know when to seek the advice of a specialist.
Please help me spread the word.

I've ...

I've skipped church -- unable to enter the doors altogether, simply because I knew the flowers on blouses and the words from the pulpit and the "asking the moms" to stand would simply be more than I was emotionally able to bear.

I've laid in my bed and cried the hard cry -- the cry that comes from the very deepest part of you, and in truth, is not a cry of sadness as much as it is one of deep, gut-wrenching, pain over the infertility that was entering yet another year.

I've attempted to go to a baby shower only to find myself in the bathroom, willing that lump in my throat to please go away as other ladies chatted and talked about things I could only dream about.

I've sung happy birthday to a one-year-old as he stuffed cupcake in his face, and stood there, mumbling prayers to the Lord -- begging him to please give me the chance, somehow, to be the Mommy of a little someone.

I've tried to turn my head from the television when a story of a woman abandoning their child popped up -- only to find myself glued to the screen as the story of an unwanted pregnancy, an unwanted child was shared.

I've sat in a doctor's office as the tiny waiting room filled with a seemingly unending sea of pregnant women, some half my age, all with huge bellies and expectant glows, yearning to have a chance at what seemed so easy for them.

I've flipped through brag albums as fast as possible.
I've sent my regrets for events I just couldn't attend.
I've walked out of church when a message on parenthood was announced.
I've mumbled my congratulations and then sobbed when alone.
I've watched everyone but me succeed.
I've caught my breath walking by a rack of onesies.
I've dreamed.
I've prayed.
I've begged.
I've hurt.
I've quit.
I've begun again.
I've given up.
I've picked myself up and decided to give it "one more try."

I've felt infertility.
And I never, ever, want another woman to feel what I have felt.

People who have not experienced it just cannot comprehend the pain involved with the loss of a dream -- with the loss of a child that never was.

But I can.
And so I will never stop sharing what I've felt.
I will never not remember that pain.
I will stand alongside any woman who wants me to hold their hand.
And I will remember.
And confirm.
And encourage.
And dream with them.
And understand.

I've fallen in love with a child I have never met and seen him in my dreams and attended his birthday party and planned for his future and kissed and hugged and wanted him with every facet of my being.

I've felt that.

And I'll never let another woman feel it without knowing that I've felt it too and that I understand and that I will be there for them in any way I can.

They are not alone.

To those women (you know who you are) who I have stood beside through infertility, adoption, success, and failures -- thank you for letting me remember.

And to those women who I am standing beside right now, please know that I will never forget.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Things that made me smile this week

Jb reading a book with our eldest boy. Who would have thought during all those years of infertility that I'd get to take a picture like this?

Isaac is turning into a little artist. Here is a picture of his prized Blue Bear.

And here is his prized small doggy.

I love to see "To Dad" written on his pictures. It never gets old for me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Adopted Teen Surprises the Reporter Who Found Him a Family

A couple's prayers for a child were answered one night when they watched the nightly news. Watch the awesome surprise as their adopted son thanks the person who brought this family together. God works in such amazing ways! Click here to watch the video.


I am still working to finish compiling this list -- but I thought I would post it now and hopefully keep editing it. It is tough work to go back on my blog and find where I may have mentioned when a kid was doing something. I sure didn't do a good job recording it anywhere else.

Hannah tripod sitting (February 17, 2014) -- 5.5 months

Isaac starts to crawl (January 13, 2009) -- 8 months and one week old
Elijah starts to crawl (August 31, 2009) -- 7 months old exactly
Abigail starts to crawl (February 15, 2012) -- 7 months old the next day
Hannah (April 1, 2014) -- one week shy of 7 months

Isaac (November 15, 2008) -- 6.5 months old
Elijah (July 28, 2009) -- 6 months old
Abigail (February 15, 2012) -- 7 months old
Hannah (April 14, 2014) -- 7 months and one week old

Hannah (January 11, 2014) -- Just over 4 months and 1 week old


Abigail (November 9, 2013) -- Almost 2.5 years old
Isaac (December 24, 2008) -- 7 months old but this was actually his second hair cut

Isaac (January 2, 2009)
Abigail (June 28, 2012)

Hannah (April 16, 2014)

Pulling up

Not only does she have a little tooth popping through, but the chick pulled up for the first time today. Lordy, Lordy. Could there BE worse timing? Could she not wait until we moved ... PLEASE!? :)

Wee-wind Wednesday

Brant was born on this day in 1982. I was five years old. He passed away in November of 1989. Born with significant disabilities, he was seven years old when he went to spend eternity with Jesus. Six months after Brant passed away, Roy and Joan adopted Brianna. The same Brianna that in 2008 would give birth to our son Isaac. 

April 16 always sticks in my mind. Not only do I know a lot of people celebrating birthdays today:
  • My goddaughter Grace
  • My cousins (and brothers) Jason and Justin
  • Brandi (from Eglin AFB)
  • Mark (husband of my friend Tina in Incirlik)
But today will always be Brant's birthday. And that is something I will never forget.

Here is a post I wrote on July 2, 2007. Brianna had come to visit us at Eglin AFB for a week. This was just a few months before we would get the phone call that would change our life. A phone call asking us if we would consider adopting Isaac. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

JB in the news

Now that this has hit the Lajes Facebook page, I can share it on my blog. JB was the doc on call this last week. Over the weekend, he received a call about a sailor on the U.S.S. Truman who was having acute stomach pain. They were trying to get the ship within range for her to take a flight to Germany where there was an American hospital. However, they couldn't make it that far and deeming that she needed quicker services, decided to have her flown to Lajes. The plane touched down for only a few minutes because it had to quickly get back to the ship before it was out of range. JB was there to meet the patient and help get her transferred to the island hospital.

Here was the news blurb and accompanying pictures:

U.S. Air Force Major John Kitsteiner, 65th Medical Operation Squadron physician, prepares to administer medical care to a patient during a medical evacuation mission here, April 11, 2014, Lajes Field, Azores. A U.S. Navy Sailor required medical evacuation to Lajes Field due to acute abdominal pain. First responder with the 65th Medical Group provided emergent care to the Sailor before the patient was transferred to a local hospital for care. 

JB waiting for the patient

Patient being taken off the plane

Patient being loaded onto the ambulance. John is talking to her Navy physician at left -- getting a rundown on what was happening.

Here's JB in the ambulance as they get ready to load her in.

Another shot

The sailor is doing fine by the way!

To watch a video on the story,

BOI Fundraiser

A few months ago, the thrift store on base closed down. Americans quickly started asking on the Facebook yardsale page for our base, where they could donate their used items? (This isn't America where another Goodwill is down the road.)

There are some orphanages on the island which collect stuff. But I got an idea. I thought that maybe I could collect this stuff and then resell it at the flea market on Base. The money I make could all be donated to BECAUSE OF ISAAC.

Once a month, the base hosts an American flea market. Americans can buy a table for $15 and sell their items to the Portuguese. It is an absolute MADHOUSE. People are everywhere and bartering like crazy. It can be quite overwhelming.

So I posted on the yardsale page that I would take any items people wanted to donate. And then I would sell them and donate 100% of the proceeds to BECAUSE OF ISAAC.

The main reason that this would work is because I live in a big house. And with everything packed out for Tennessee, I could devote an entire room the cause.

The response, as you can see from the picture above, has been insane. I honestly quickly became inundated. I have been posting some of the higher end items on the Facebook yardsale page. I've also been having some people come to my house to look through the items. Just last week I made $300 reselling items!

We are going to do the flea market in April and May, right before we leave the island. I'm incredibly excited to see how much money I can make for our current couple. They are only $2,500 away from their final goal, and I honestly think I might be able to make about half of that with this little venture.

It is a LOT of work, and I keep thinking to myself, "Are you crazy? You have four kids. This is too much." But my heart is so in love with our organization, and I am constantly brain-storming any way that I can raise money. We are very excited as we have two new couples ready to launch any day now. I hope we can add even more in the near future.

Another idea I had was to help sell these signs, below:

The woman who makes them has pledged $25 from every sale to BECAUSE OF ISAAC. This weekend, a woman on Base is hosting a craft fair at her house. I decided to attend the craft fair and attempt to sell these signs. (If you are interested in buying one, please let me know or visit our sponsors page for more information.) I'll let you know how the sale goes after Saturday comes and goes!

Just completed!

I continue to post things on my Blog that we are doing in homeschool because I want to remember what we did for when the girls get to be this age! Both boys just finished this workbook I bought at Target for a buck! I love these little gems! This was the Grade 1 book. They did a great job at it, and it is another thing I can do with them that requires no prep at all!

World's Toughest Job

24 Applicants Were Terrified To Do This Job. Then They Found Out Why Billions Already Do It.

Do you have what it takes to handle the World's Toughest Job? It requires more than 135 hours per week, constant mobility, keen coordination and adept communication. There are no breaks, no holidays off, and there is no pay.
Mullen, an advertising agency in Boston, posted a fake "Director of Operations" job listing online and in newspapers. The ad got 2.7 million impressions from paid ad placement, but only 24 people responded, according to Ad Week. Each of those people then sat down to interview for the job and all were shocked at what was required of them: no sitting, no vacations, no guaranteed sleep and zero money.
"Is that even legal?" one applicant asked. "Nobody is going to do that for free!" another responded.
But billions of people do all this each and every day. When the applicants found out just who holds the title of "World's Toughest Job," some were brought to tears.
The stunt might've been an ad for online greeting card seller Cardstore, but it sure puts things into perspective.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Porto Martins

Rebekah called this morning. Want to take a walk down to the boats? I am so glad she called because I had no idea it was warm enough to make this walk with four children. Not just warm but windless ... key parts of walking along the water.

I'd never walked all the way to the boats with all four of them and just a single stroller. But my double stroller is on its way to the USA so single it was. I'm so glad we choose to keep a three-wheeler, scooter, and bike with us for the last two months despite the fact that I might have to sell them when we leave. We've used them so much as the weather has gotten better. Hannah in stroller, Abigail on scooter, Isaac on three-wheeler, and Sidge on two-wheeler, and we were off.

As we walked today, the kiddos diverted regularly for adventures climbing on the rocks. Oh how I will miss the safety and serenity of Terceira island. What a majestically beautiful place.

Speaking of beautiful and majestic, check our Rebekah's amazing snaps of our morning out. I continue to thank the Lord for bringing me friends for me and my kiddos during our adventures:

An old boat

From left: Abigail (2.5), Joel (2.5), Elijah (6), Sidge (5), Isaac (5), and Judah (4)

Another boat -- how cool are these colors?

All six in front of the boat
All six with Elijah holding their "map" for the adventures

Abigail always pretends she has no idea Joel is head over heels in love with her!

Kid's Eat Free

Click on the picture above to check out a comprehensive list of the places you can eat as a family (and save some money with kiddos eating free!)

What do I pack in my Unaccompanied Baggage?

When you are moving overseas, or back to the USA after being overseas, you have to ship your whole house to another country. Your stuff can go in one of four ways:
  1. Household Goods (HHG): This is the majority of your stuff. You'll have a weight limit but most people don't come close to breaking that. Our's was 17,000 pounds (based on JB's rank) and we had about 12,000 pounds. Almost everything you send goes in this. There are very few limitations of things you can't send but things like liquids, candles, batteries, etc. 
  2. Unaccompanied Baggage (UB): This is the section I am writing this post for. UB is a fast shipment. It is supposed to beat your HHG by about a month. This depends, of course, on where you are being stationed. This is a small amount of stuff -- under 1,000 pounds. In addition, it does not include any large items. You are not allowed any furniture (other than a crib). 
  3. Mail: You can mail yourself stuff, and if you are underweight, this is usually reimbursable. 
  4. Luggage: You get at least two bags per person and your weight requirements, even if flying commercial, are amendable, because you are flying on orders. We will end up taking 12 bags back for our family many of which will break the normal weight requirements.
When we flew from the USA to Turkey, when we flew from Turkey to the Azores, and when we fly from the Azores to the USA, we get a UB shipment. The question is, WHAT do you put in this shipment? What types of things do you want to get fast to make your life easier while you wait for your big shipment? When flying TO Turkey and TO Portugal, we had loaner furniture and kitchen-loaner boxes available to help us out at our arrival bases. But when you fly back to the USA, there is nothing there to help you out.

I posted this on Facebook and asked people for the five things they MOST wanted quickly. Firstly I should note that a few people responded that they don't mess with UB. I don't blame them. It requires you to separate your things into different piles and section off a room or part of a room for things that should not be packed. A few others noted that their HHG actually made it before their UB. (This happened to us when we went to Turkey.) Talk about making you feel like you wasted your time. Still others said that they mail themselves the really important things. (We do UB and we mail ourselves things as well.)

But for those people who have done UB, here were the things they wanted. Keep in mind that the UB is supposed to help you get through camping in your own home for up to three months:
  • bedding (pillows, sheets, blankets)
  • towels
  • pet items (doggie bowls, kitty litter box, pooper scooper, etc.)
  • spices
  • kitchen basics (limited number of cups, plates, bowls, silverware, measuring spoons, pots and pans, etc.)
  • bicycle / helmet
  • vacuum
  • broom
  • extra clothes (especially weather-approrpiate clothes)
  • laundry basket
  • trash can
  • tv trays
  • plastic shelving units (or other organizing essentials)
  • grill
  • folding chairs / table
  • air mattresses
  • basic kids toys
  • hangers
  • fans (if needed)
  • ironing board and iron
  • rugs
  • phone
  • small television / portable DVD player
  • coffee pot
  • computer and computer "stuff"
  • tool box (with tool essentials for needs in your new home)
  • child safety items
  • shower curtain/rod/hooks
  • If you have a baby: crib, high chair, gates or other necessary items
The National Military Family Association also has a page on their website dedicated to a list of things for a UB move that you may find helpful.

Have something you think I forgot, please leave a comment!