Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bringing Mason Home, Part Two

Saturday: We returned to the hospital for Mason's hearing test, and got the most delicious bagel ever from the cafeteria while we were there. Then, after a stop at Walmart (needed some different bottles--Avent worked so much better for him than Playtex!), we decided to head to Antelope Island, which sits in the Salt Lake.

Seriously one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I can't wait to take the kids camping there someday. The buffalo just wander around, crossing the road in front of you, staring at you when you take their pictures. We drove around the island, hiked toward the mountain peak, and visited the ranch. (Tour guide: How old is your baby? Me: Three days. Tour Guide: Wow, you look good!) I could literally feel myself relaxing as we walked around--the beautiful creation around me fed my soul. Feast upon this:

Saturday Night: We met our dear friends the Brooks for dinner! They moved from our area to Salt Lake a few years ago. What a treat to see them and meet their son Beau!

Sunday: More waiting on paperwork. We drove to Park City, which was beautiful and odd--so very planned, but gorgeous. We went to see a movie. Mason did great, but the movie was lousy. Jeremy packed up to head home. I took more pictures.

Monday: Mason and I dropped Jeremy off at the airport, and he winged his way home to our other three kiddos. We had been told that if all our paperwork got in to the GA ICPC office by Monday, Mason and I might be able to come home in time for Thanksgiving. Monday afternoon I got a call that a few things were missing. After some intense and stressful phone calls/emails/online searching/paperwork shuffling/faxing, I got it all in. Now all we could do was hope ICPC wouldn't think of anything else they needed. If they did, I likely wouldn't have gotten home until yesterday. You know how the story turns out.

Mason and I drove around to downtown SLC (pretty!), made a Target run for some formula and diapers, and hung out at the hotel. Doing lots of this:
Tuesday (Nov 20): Funny thing. I posted on FB something about the best food in SLC, and a friend of mine whom I haven't seen since high school saw it. Turns out she's living in SLC, about 20 minutes from where we were staying! We met for lunch on Tuesday at the Crown Burger (burgers and Greek food? Yum.), and talked for a long time. Then we went to a park, and she took pics of Mason (by the way, she's a photographer!), and we talked some more. SO fun to catch up with her! Thanks for the fun times and great pictures, Sara!!

Late afternoon, Jeremy asked me to head back downtown and sign some papers/deliver a check to the lawyer's office. So we bundled up and headed off. We were cutting it close to 5:00, and several times I thought about just turning around and trying again Wednesday. I couldn't find the right building from the parking garage, and that made us a bit later. By the time we made it upstairs, it was a little after five, but thankfully they were still open, and we got it all taken care of. Good thing, too, because it turns out, I wouldn't have been able to do it Wednesday after all.

Wednesday (Nov 21): I called our social worker in the morning to check in. Left her a message. Tided the hotel room, etc, while I waited for her to call back. Turns out I should have been packing! She called and said ICPC cleared and we could go home! Hooray!

I called Jeremy and we booked a flight. I packed/cleaned/checked out/drove to the airport in record time. Gave back the rental car. Made it to the gate and took a deep breath. We were headed home! On the last flight (that I know of) on the day before Thanksgiving. Thank You, Jesus!

(our home for the Utah days)

At the airport--going home! 

Two flights, one layover, a laptop bag, a diaper bag, a suitcase, a carseat, and a sleepy baby later, we made it. Only a few hours before Thanksgiving. Our friend Jennifer stayed with our sleeping kids so Jeremy could come get us. So glad to be home.

Thanksgiving Morning (Nov 22): Cory woke up first. I was dozing on the couch with Mason, who had been up for a while. I led Cory back to our bedroom, and woke up Jeremy. Iain came in. The boys met their brother for the first time.

Cory held him and told him about our family. "Oh! And we watch Shawn the Sheep on Saturdays. Oh! And we like to make banana bread. Oh! And..."

 Iain smiled and smiled, and nicknamed him Snort.

My three boys:

When Laina woke up, she was enamored of "her baby." She still is.

Oh how cute!

Finally, all four.

God is so gracious to us. We are thankful indeed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bringing Mason Home, Part One

Wednesday afternoon, November 14, I was driving to my friend Sarah's house when I got the call. E, our son's birth mom, was in labor! Jeremy, the kids and I raced to the bank to get our money out, and I made it to Sarah's and commandeered her computer to look up flights (thanks, Sarah, for letting me!). On the way home, making calls to my mom (come watch the kids!), our social worker (please get our stuff ready!), our case manager in Utah (eek! She's pushing already!), and Jeremy (are you home yet?), I pulled over. In a sweet, holy moment, the kids and I prayed for their new baby brother who was being born even then. 

Wednesday evening, he was born! How can we be expected to make reservations and pack when we have pictures of our new son to look at? The rushing, packing, hurried evening was strangely reminiscent of when we left to get Laina. Butterflies and all. It was terribly hard leaving the kids, again. 

We sat everybody down to tell them their new brother's name. All three loved it! That was the first time everyone agreed. Hooray!
(first family photo--see Mason on the phone?)

We spent most of the night packing, making copies of every piece of paperwork we could think of, and trying to get everything together. Mason wasn't due for two more weeks, so we weren't nearly as prepared as I wanted us to be! Add to that the fact that Iain started throwing up at 11pm, and it was a rough night.

Thursday morning, we were up after, what, three hours of sleep? and headed to the airport, well before dawn. We made it just in time to check our luggage, just in time to board the plane, and just barely in time to make our connecting flight. Talk about a nerve-wracking trip!
(Jeremy said, "Is this going to be a regular thing?" when I took out my new phone for a picture. Yes, yes it is.)

Thursday morning, later, we made it to the airport! After meeting our case manager (who is wonderful, by the way), we grabbed some food and headed straight to the hospital where we met E, and our son!

It was a beautiful moment, surreal and simple, when E handed me Mason. Jeremy got to hold him next. We passed him back and forth for a while, and then left him with E and went to our room (we got a room at the hospital for the first night because E was discharged and Mason had to stay another 24 hours). Later, Mason was brought to us, so we could spend some time alone with him. It was wonderful to hold him, look at him, and snuggle with him.
After a while, we took him back to E. Soon, E invited us back in for photos. Then back to our room again. Eventually, E brought Mason in to us, and headed home. She would be back the next day.

I took lots of pictures.

 (the view from the hospital parking lot. Seriously!)

Thursday night, as we sat around a little table in our hospital room, with Mason sleeping nearby, we signed papers. E, in her apartment, also signed papers. And then Mason was our son.

Friday morning, we just hung around, loving on Mason, doing nothing much. Waiting.

Friday afternoon, E came by again. We talked, laughed, talked, took lots of pictures, and then she said goodbye to Mason. Yeah, that was... no words. 

Right after E left, we left. Mason was discharged (with directions to come back the next day to re-screen his hearing, which we did and he passed), and we left the hospital with our precious boy.
More to come!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Welcome to the World...

...baby Mason Royce!

Our sweet new son Mason was born on Wednesday, November 14. He was about 6lbs, 6oz, and was born in Utah at 3:23 Mountain Time. He is sweet, sleepy, and has a head full of soft black hair. We rejoice in the gift God has given us in sweet Mason!

Mason's name is special. His first name, obviously, means bricklayer. We love it because of Nehemiah, the man God used to rebuild His city. Mason will be a Repairer of broken walls, and a Restorer of streets with dwellings (Is 58:12). We also love his name because his birth mom loves it. She helped choose it, which makes it very special. Royce, his middle name, is Jeremy's middle name, his dad's middle name, and his grandfather's middle name. It means "son of a king," or, as we like it, "son of the King."

Thank You, Jesus, for this gift.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Happy Birthday, Papa!

We love you! 
--your crazy grandkids :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

In the Meantime...

The past few weeks around here have been full. Jeremy had a stretch of working long days (and some nights, too!), we ushered in fall in GA--my favorite season, and we did a lot of fun field trips with friends. 

Oh, and Iain and Cory got this:
We've had the bunk beds for years, a gift from Jeremy's aunt and uncle. I told the boys we'd bunk them when Iain turned five, but then five seemed so young to let him sleep so high off the ground. So I waited until six. They love the bunk beds. There wasn't any arguing about who got which one--Cory likes the bottom because it's like a fort. I have plans to enhance the fort-like-ness soon. Iain is a huge fan of his top bunk. Yesterday he asked me for a "tiny welcome mat" to go at the bottom of his ladder. Love that boy.

Apple picking fun:

 (she looks so old here!)

(I promise he was having fun!)

My aunt Samantha is an artist/art teacher. This semester, she has very, very kindly been sending Cory art projects by mail (how fun is that!?) and then posting lessons for him on his very own blog. He is loving it. Iain gets in on the fun sometimes, too. Last week, they painted color wheels in watercolor. Iain had a smudge on his face, so being the sensible mother that I am, I turned it into this:

And Cory wanted to play, too. He did his own.

 Zoo trip with the Stephens family:

 So this one has a story. Cory's middle name is Daniel. He's never liked it. He likes to be called Cory D, but NOT Cory Daniel. We've told him the story of Daniel in the Bible many times, how brave Daniel was, how he followed God even when it was hard. Nothing doing. Still didn't like it. Well, the other day we started reading a book from the Childhood of Famous Americans series (I loved them as a kid, and now my kids love them! We're reading the same ones--I swiped them from my mom's house.) Guess which one we happened to start on first? Daniel Boone. 

Now Cory loves his middle name. He wants to be called Cory Daniel Boone Brannon. He talks about Daniel Boone all the time. He made targets to throw rocks at, he thinks a lot about being in the woods and how to hunt animals and hide from enemies. As in, he lies awake at night thinking about it. (Love this boy.) My favorite part is when he says things like, "Mama, Daniel Boone obeyed, so I'm going to obey, too," and "Daniel Boone was a hard worker. I'm going to work hard too!" Yes, we'll take it!

So the picture. There's an illustration in the book of Daniel Boone riding a horse bareback, with one hand in the air. You see where I'm going with this? Cory came up to me at the zoo and said, "Look! I can ride the duck like Daniel Boone!" Yes, dear boy. You can.

Hiking at a Civil War battlefield site with the Burtons. Love my sweet girl's smile!

Cooler days (and blankets from Nonas) are great for snuggling.

Some Laina funnies, so I don't forget. Two years old is hilarious!

Her cousin Penny gave her a hat and some mittens. When Laina saw the mittens she yelled, "Hooray! Hand thingies!"

At the breakfast table the other day, she was being so incredibly loud. I said, "Laina, please use your quiet voice." Her reply? "WHY?!! WHO'S SLEEPING!!?"

In the car--
Me: Look at the clouds!
Laina: Who made it? (side note: she asks this question about EVERYTHING. Clothes, food, toys, clouds, furniture. Everything.)
Me: God did.
Laina: Say thank-you to God. Okay, I will. Thank You, God!

Laina, while I cool dinner: I got a 'poon. It big, BIG like Laina Kate.

Last night while I was getting her footies on: I like you, Mama! I like you SO MUCH! (I like you too, baby girl.)