Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This week at the Peakin Residence...

This week at our house is laundry week...and selling clothes week.  I posted a bunch of the  boys' clothes on Facebook and within a couple of hours sold most of the items size 4T and larger.  Apparently I don't know anyone who needs many 12-18 mos size clothes.  Boo...because I posted a lot of them!  We had a major out of control laundry situation!  It's slowly getting under control.  I've established that to avoid the laundry situation getting that bad again, we must get rid of lots of clothes.  We had a million piles of dirty clothes the equivalent of the total amount of clothes some people own!  It's embarrassing.  And most of them are mine, Cason's and Wesley's clothes.  Tate doesn't have THAT much.  

Tonight is the LAST night that we will be sleeping in our bed.  We get our new Sleep Number bed delivered TOMORROW!!!  Whoot!  Whoot!  I can't wait...and it's like my body knows it's coming because I have been extra sore these last few mornings and the bed has felt extra uncomfortable.  Sean has had a terribly sore neck this week too...we're ready for our new bed!

Aside from therapy sessions for Cason and errands for me, doing Lisa's hair and helping a friend pick out paint for her play room, there's not a whole lot else on the agenda this week.  Saturday I get to go up to Dubuque for a maternity session with my one and only bride I ever photographed!  So excited!!!  Then it's Superbowl Sunday and the Leonards are coming over for food and hanging out.

Wesley is doing great with potty training and (until a random occurrence at school today), hasn't had an accident in his pants at home OR at school for about a week!  This is exciting stuff, people!  Cason has been whiny today.  Not sure what's going on with him, but for several weeks he hasn't taken much of a nap at all during the days.  He sleeps for about 20-30 minutes and is up.  He isn't upset, just awake.  He sleeps fine at night and is acting normal otherwise, so who knows what the deal is.

I can't believe it's almost February!  Less than 6 weeks and we'll be in Florida for almost 2 weeks!  I.Can't.Wait!  Though this winter hasn't been bad, the thought of being in Florida soon is getting me through!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our Adoptions

I am linking up with Kelly's Korner Blog today for Show Us Your Life Fridays.  Today the topic is about adoptions.  This is a topic we are definitely knowledgeable about! :)

I followed so many adoptive parents blogs over the years and their opinions and experiences were such a great resource for us in our journeys, so if I could be that resource for even one person, I would be happy.

I think I will just give an overview of our adoptions and some thoughts along the way.  For those of you who know us well, no need to read on as it probably doesn't have much more information than you already know. :)

Where did it all start?  Back in 2004 when we got married I guess.  We knew we wanted to have kids right away and due to my PCOS, we knew it would be difficult for us.  We tried for about a year and a half before my doctor told us that it was time to consider IVF.  We just didn't feel that was the route we wanted to take.  We prayed about it a lot, took a break from even thinking about it for a month or so (only we didn't because it's all I could think about...so, I guess we just didn't discuss it!) and in the end, we opted to go to Bethany Christian Services to get some information about adoption.  We attended the informational meeting in early 2006 and knew this was the path we wanted to take.  After our paperwork pregnancy, we got "the call" on October 6th, 2006 that a baby boy had been born the day before and we were selected by the birth parents to be his adoptive parents.  We got in the car and headed a couple of hours away to meet the birth father and speak with him before he made his final decision.  He told us that night that he wanted us to be his son's parents.  I describe my feelings and why we chose an open adoption HERE.  Our open adoption is such a blessing to us!  Here is Tate (picture taken a few days ago) with his incredible birth father, Brandon.

We knew we wanted more than just one child.  We didn't rush though.  We were beyond overjoyed with what adoption did for us...how it changed our hearts and lives and blessed us with a second family in Tate's birth family.  We had the ideal adoption story and we were scared that it would be too good to be true to have another situation that was so amazing.  We considered many options...another domestic adoption or international adoption.

 We never really considered foster care for several years. &nbsp
;It wasn't until April of 2011 that we were introduced to a foster family that had been fostering a couple of children that I happened to fall in love with while photographing them.  Something in my heart changed that day.  Then I had to convince my husband, Sean. :)

style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> I kept pestering him about the fact that we should look into fostering and adoption through the foster care system.  Again, we decided to go to an informational meeting a couple of months later and that's all it took.  Something in Sean's heart changed and he was game.

We went through the PS-MAPP training classes at the end of the summer which took 10 weeks.  During that training, we were told about a little 3 year old boy who was on the Waiting Children List.  We saw his picture and read his vague profile.  It said he was medically fragile.  What did that mean?  Sean is a nurse, we could handle medical needs right?  We inquired about little Wesley.  His needs were significant.  He was born with Chronic Renal Failure, underwent a kidney transplant just before turning 2, has a g-tube and some other developemental delays.  Yikes...we didn't know if we could handle this.  We prayed about it...a lot.  We waited.  We started to feel like we may be able to handle this.  We emailed back and forth with the  adoption worker and waited some more.  By the time we were nearing the date we would be getting our license, we were to the point of praying that Wesley would be our son.  We were ready to take on his needs and love him forever.

We were officially licensed in December 2011.  The NEXT DAY we got a call about an 11 month old boy with special needs...shaken baby syndrome.  We didn't expect that, we weren't prepared, we didn't think we could handle special needs.  Plus, we were waiting to hear if we were going to get to adopt Wesley!  What should we do??!  We contacted Wesley's adoption worker and asked if there was a decision to be made soon.  The response indicated that there were tons of inquiries about him and chances were slim that it would be us.  Saddened by that news, we knew that there must be a reason and we accepted the foster placement of Cason, the 11 month old.  With Cason came appointments galore.  Therapy, doctors appointments, rehabilitation, eye doctor, etc.  Our first placement...it was nuts.  We fell in love with him immediately...we knew he may not stay with us.  It was scary, but he deserved to be loved fully and so we did.  We risked our comfort and were scared that our hearts would be ripped out of us if he were not able to stay with us.  He was worth that risk...we wouldn't ever do it differently.

2 weeks after welcoming Cason into our home, we got a call from Wesley's adoption worker.  Turns out, we were a good fit for Wesley.  They wanted us to come in for an interview about adopting him.  Oh my...we had a range of emotions.  We had prayed for this boy for months, thought about him and hoped he could be ours.  We were overwhelmed with caring for our little Cason's needs and just starting to feel settled.  We were scared.  Could we handle Wesley too with all of his medical needs?!  We decided that God had opened this door for us and we would at least explore it as an option.  We met Wesley a couple of weeks later and that was it...we wanted him.  We would make it work.  We interviewed a couple of weeks later and found out shortly after that we were selected as his adoptive family.  A mere days later, we began his transition from his foster family to our home.  We did lots of back and forth over the course of about 5 weeks before he officially moved in with us  on March 8th, 2012.

This situation was like nothing we had ever expected or even thought we wanted!  I am not going to sugar coat things and say everything was great.  It was HARD!  It was overwhelming and scary and I had moments where I wondered what on earth we had gotten ourselves into, but my home was full of 3 amazing boys that God meant for us to have.  We were blessed...amidst all of the stress and chaos, we were blessed.  Busy, but blessed.
Shortly after that, we found out that the likelihood of our being able to adopt Cason was high.  We knew in our hearts we were his forever family, yet we knew that nothing was certain for a few months.  We now had 3 boys ages 1, 3 and 5 in a 2 bedroom house that was less than 1000 square feet.  We decided to add to the chaos and buy a new house and move us all to a more comfortable living situation.

We bought a house in the spring, took possession in the summer with the plans of doing about 10 days worth of work on it before moving in.  The very day we got possession and went into the house and started tearing down wallpaper, Wesley got sick...very sick.  We ended up at the ER that night and didn't leave Wesley for 7 days while he got better.  So much for our plan!  However, it doesn't matter what OUR plan was...it's God's plan that prevails.  So our amazing friends and family took the reins, worked on our house while we weren't there, watched our kids and prayed for our Wesley.  It takes a village, people!  We have an amazing village.

We moved in and settled into our new home and new life as a family of 5, still praying that everything would go smoothly and we would be able to finalize both of our boys' adoptions as quickly as possible with no hiccups along the way.  And that day came...October 5th, 2012...our oldest son, Tate's birthday.  That was adoption day.  :)  Our family and friends gathered and filled that courtroom.  We were officially a family of 5 as of that day.  It was amazing.  What a crazy year it was!

So now we have 3 boys...2 with significant medical and special needs.  For some reason we couldn't let our foster license expire like we originally thought we would.  We knew that our hands were full, that we were done...or did we?  We renewed our license and are letting God decide what is in store for us.  Maybe a daughter someday?  I would be happy with my 3 incredible boys and if you ask me, our plan is to be done...be a family of 5.  Since when is my plan the master plan though right?  So we are leaving it all in God's hands.

What I can say is that adoption was never part of "my plan" in life.  It has changed my heart, my life, my world.  It has brought me closer to God, it has softened my heart and made me more patient.  It has changed the lives of many of our family and friends as well.  With adoption, it's not just about the adoptive parents, the children you adopt, the birth families, it's about your whole village...it changes everyone.  There are no words that do justice to our feelings about what adoption has given us.  God has blessed us with these incredible children who we have the honor or raising and loving forever!  God built this family for us that has been beyond anything we ever could have dreamed or imagined.  He has showed us that we can handle and WANT to handle so much more than we ever knew possible.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another birthday celebration...

I am all birthday'd out! Between the months of September and January, all 5 of us celebrate our birthdays!  And this year both Sean and I had parties too.  And this year was extra crazy with the adoption added in there.  And just the usual holiday hoopla, all of the other family members with birthdays during that time (there are 10 other family members and a few friends aside from our family of 5) our anniversary and the surprise birthday party we had for my parents this year, I am kind of relieved it's all over!  We had Tate's party and the gathering for the boys' adoptions on the same day and it was Wesley's 1st birthday with us so we wanted to something where everyone was invited.  Cason's birthdays were low key this year, but we had 2 celebrations...one with the Peakin side and one with my side of the family.  We had the one with my side on Sunday.
Cason loves being celebrated! :)

There was cake and singing and presents and lots of kids running around!  It was fun!

All of the celebrations were super fun, but I am not going to lie, I don't think I can do this every year.  I think we'll have to minimize the birthday celebrations in the future.  With just 1 child, it was fine to do a big bash each year, but with 3 all within a few month period all mixed in with the holidays, I just don't think I can do it every year!  Life is just getting too chaotic.  I am all for celebrating the birthday boy or girl on their day, but I am going to have to figure out a way to make it more low key going forward. :)  I finally feel like the birthday/holiday season in our household is over for the next 8 months and it does feel good!

Thank you Mom and Dad for hosting everyone at your house only hours after your return from Florida and to everyone for the awesome gifts!  I think unlike Mommy, Cason (well, all 3 boys!) would be happy to do this every week!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Because I like pictures with words...

...and Cason is my buddy all day long each day, you get pictures of him along with words that mostly have nothing to do with him. :) I am sure you're so angry about that. ;)  
Time...seriously, time is FLYING by!  I mean, I feel like it's Monday and then I blink and it's Thursday!  I am kind of okay with that this week though because we have a fun few days planned.
Tomorrow, I have 2 photo sessions...1 of a baby that will be just 1 day old! I will be heading to the hospital to photograph the new daughter of one of my clients who I recently did maternity pictures of.  I can't wait!  I am also doing 2 year pictures of an adorable little boy!
Saturday will be fun!  We are heading to meet up with Tate's birth family to do a bit of a Christmas celebration.  He is so excited and so are we!  We love spending time with his birth father and birth grandparents.  What a blessing they all are to us!
I have high hopes for our "no plans Sunday".  Church, brunch and then getting stuff done around the house.  I am pretty certain Sean is uber excited to tackle his "Honey Do List". ;)  Ha.
I am so ready for warmer weather...period.  I would even settle for 50(ish) degrees.  I just can't stand having to bundle 3 kids up in the mornings, warm up our cars, tracking salt and slop into my house...don't like any of that one bit.  I suppose I shouldn't complain too much considering it's expected since we live in Iowa and this winter truly hasn't been bad at all...yet.
We will be ready for our spring break in March for sure!
And between now and our Spring Break vacation we have planned, we will be going to Des Moines for a little weekend away as well.  Looking forward to seeing some people we haven't seen in FOREVER and meeting a dear friend's new baby.  It's just nice to get away on a weekend with the family sometimes too.
Random Thought for the day...
Sometimes it feels like my life is just a sea of laundry.  It never ends.  If all of it is washed, then I have a mountain of clean laundry that needs to be separated, folded and put away...or it's all dirty and I have a mountain of it that needs washed.  It's not awesome.
And with that, I have a mountain of laundry to fold and put away.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cason turns 2!

After the Peakin Family birthday celebration in the early afternoon on Sunday, the boys were exhausted and took good naps. When they awoke, we did a little birthday celebration for Cason with just our little family. Sean had to work on Monday which was Cason's actual birthday, so we decided to celebrate the night before. :)
Cason enjoyed his cake!
He never eats sugar because he is such a good eater that we really only feed him meat, cheese, veggies and occassionally some fruit.  I think the sugar effected him!

He started squeeling and slapping his head and acting all crazy!  It was kind of hilarious!

Then we played with the toys he had gotten earlier and had him open our present and played with that for a bit...

He loves the pillow mat Nana P made him!

Then it was time for bed...not before a photo or two of all of my boys!
Oh how I love each of these boys so much...I look at these pictures and burst with love and joy.
So blessed!

Happy Birthday, Cason.  I am in denial that you are 2!  You will always be my baby no matter how old you are.  We love you more than you could ever know and pray you are always as happy and full of joy as you are right now!

Celebrating the Peakin January birthdays...

There are 6 Peakin Family members' birthdays in January. Cason and Abby turned 2 this year, Tyler and Leah turned 7 this year and Linda and Sarah also celebrated birthdays in January! So we decided to all get together and do a mass birthday party. We went to Monkey Joe's where the kids ran and played for a couple of hours before we headed to Mike and Sarah's for cake and ice cream and presents. It was a great afternoon!
Cason enjoyed all of his gifts...he especially liked licking them.  Silly boy...
It's difficult to sing Happy Birthday to 6 people at the same time!

Monkey Joe's fun...

The boys were EXHAUSTED and ready for naps when we got home!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Our baby...our Cason.

This boy is amazing...he is a miracle and an incredible gift.  He came to us on Christmas Day last year...what a special gift!!!

Cason is 2 today (more on his birthday festivities later)...he is a fighter.  When he came to us, he couldn't roll over, sit up, say anything aside from "ahhhhh" and there was question as to what he would ever do physically, how he would develop mentally.  He couldn't eat any solid foods, pick up food or hold toys for more than a couple seconds. 

Today, he is a different child.  He jabbers all the time, immitates almost anything we say, he eats like a champ, he crawls, pulls himself up to stand and cruises around furniture.  He will walk, he will talk, we know all of this now.  It was likely he wouldn't live after he was shaken at 7 weeks of age, he was blind for quite some time and it was thought that he may never see again, he didn't use his left side barely at all.

Since day 1, he has been the most laid back, smiliest, joyous child I have ever known.  He is always happy and for the longest time, NEVER cried.  I mean, it was concerning for a while because literally days and days went by before I ever heard him cry.  He is the most easily calmed child when he's upset...which is a rare occurance anyway.  He has a way of making everyone fall in love with him instantly...a stranger at the grocery store, his doctors and therapists and all of our family and friends.  He is so easy to love.  He laughs all the time and is just so loving.  He snuggles into anyone who will let him and I haven't met anyone who hasn't let him! :)

He is a joy to parent.  It is unbelievable to me still that I am going to get to be his mommy forever!  He loves fully...everyone.  He adores his brothers and cousins and aunts and uncles, nanas and papas.  He has a way of showing everyone how much he adores them.

We don't know how we ever survived without his little personality in our family.  He is incredibly loved and I would be perfectly happy if he stayed just like he is right now forever.  However, that isn't going to happen because he is developing in leaps and bounds which is awesome!

God knew we needed Cason, he knew we could handle his needs when we were questioning our abilities.  I am so incredibly honored to be able to call Cason my son.  He can brighten my day in an instant, he can make me laugh when I want to cry.  He had my heart from day 1 and I cannot express in words the love I have for him.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Wessie


Oh boy, I could go on and on about this one!  Wesley is more full of energy and personality than any other child I've met!  He  has been through so much in his life...more than most adults go through in their entire life.  He still smiles bigger and laughs harder than anyone.

He tests us...every.single.day.  He wears us out, he tries our patience and pushes our buttons, but he gives the best hugs and kisses, he brings a vibrance to our family that we can't remember what life was like before we had it, he loves fully and unconditionally.  We love him so much and don't know how we survived without his laugh filling our home!

Strange that he's only been with us for 10 months!  It seems like he has been our son for so much longer.  January 10th last year was the day my phone rang and on the other line was Wesley's worker telling us that they wanted to meet with us about possibly adopting Wesley.  We had JUST gotten Cason...like 2 weeks before that.  We were shocked and overwhelmed and worried...we knew though that Wesley was supposed to be part of our family, we knew from the moment we saw his picture only 5 months before that.  The time between January 10th and March 8th when he moved in with us for good was a complete whirlwind.  Fitting, because Wesley is kind of the whirlwind in our house! :)

Wesley is really athletic, he loves balls and running and jumping and flipping and doing headstands and jumping off of things.  He is hardly ever sitting still.  However, when he's done for the day, he is DONE.  He goes to bed like a champ, he naps like a champ.  He never cries or whines at nap/bedtime once we leave the room...he just goes right to sleep!  And that kid can sleep through anything!  He switched to a toddler bed on his birthday (December 4th) and hasn't had a single issue with it.

Wesley loves school, loves riding the bus, loves airplanes, trains and cars.  He got an iPod for his birthday and he loves putting on his headphones and dancing around the house.  He loves Gangham Style and Moves Like Jaggar. :)  He adores his brothers and loves being with them.  I think more than anything, Wesley loves attention...he loves being the center of attention, loves making people laugh.  It's hard not to notice him...he is a gorgeous child and full of life and energy...you just can't miss him and he has a face and personality you don't forget either!

Wesley is ours...we prayed for him since the first time we saw his face.  We hoped that God had it in his plan for him to be our son.  I STILL sometimes can't believe it, I feel so blessed to be his mommy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Graduate School

So for at least a year or so, Sean has been stewing and fretting about furthering his education.  He seriously considered Anesthesia school for the longest time...really, up until something in his heart told him not to send his application to the U of I, he was planning on applying about 7 months ago.  From then on, he really began exploring his options and thinking long and hard about what he wanted.

To make a long story short, he applied for Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Illinois-Chicago this week.  UIC has a campus in Moline and he will be able to continue working in his current position while attending school if accepted.  He would be starting in the fall and it is a 3 year program.  Yikes.

He is really excited at this possibility and I know he will be accepted.  He is an incredible nurse and will be an amazing Nurse Practitioner.  I am not going to lie, that 3 years of schooling is going to be difficult for all of us I'm sure.  We will make it through.  I am so proud of Sean and blessed that he is such a hard worker...I know he is doing this all to better our family.  I love him.  Period.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

My Tate

I think I want to dedicate a post to each of my kids.
Today, it is Tate...my Tate.

I know all of you parents out there know exactly what I mean when I say something as simple as, "I love this kid so much."  I do, but to say I love him doesn't do justice to my feelings.  He frustrates me and knows how to push my buttons, but he also makes me burst with pride and joy.

He is so quirky and funny and loving and sensitive and in our home, he is the most comfortable, the most himself.  He is able to open up and let loose ar our house...there is a side of him that I see every day that almost no one else ever gets to see.  I wish everyone could see that side of him that we get to see all the time.

Tate likes routine, he likes what he's used to...take him out of that setting or add another person to the setting and he begins to shut down and wants to be alone.  Eventually he will warm up usually, but it takes time.  He's always been like this since he was a baby.

And seriously, I just can't get enough of how beautiful he is.  Inside and out.  He has dimples and beautiful eyes and great hair and the definition of a button nose!  I look at him and melt.

Tate is smart...so so smart.  He loves letters and numbers and school.  I love that he loves school.  He adores his teacher...so do we.  I was so worried about how he would do in school, but he is doing great.

Tate loves music and dancing.  I believe I may have even talked Sean into allowing me to put him in a dance class.  He wants to take a hip hop dance class...again, he likes structured dance.  He likes having moves that his is supposed to do and is very picky about getting his moves right. :)  It's pretty darn adorable!  He loves playing Dance Central on his Xbox and if he is listening to a song on his iPod that is on his Dance Central game, he will only do the moves to that song that he was instructed to do on the game.

I could go on for hours about all of the things I love about Tate.  Mostly, I love that he is my son, that God has allowed me to be his mother and that I get to live with one of the coolest kids in the world! 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

My boys...

"Tate, will you look at me and smile?"
You know what, this is better anyway...truly.
Those eyes, that face...I love everything about it...even all of the food on it.  He wouldn't be "Tate" if he had a clean face...
"Wesley, will you cross your eyes for a picture?!"
Love it...he keeps us on our toes and keeps us laughing...and pulling our hair out. ;)  Love him so much...

"Cason, stop licking the _______!"
He licks everything...everything.  The floor, the chair, my pants, the tv stand, the couch...anything he can get to.  It's a sensory thing.  It's not good, but it is sometimes pretty funny.  He can't keep himself from licking his highchair between bites of food.  Love this silly boy!

And this is what it looked like at the dinner table at our house tonight.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Dancing our way back to school...

Well, I was wrong.  I thought that I would be ready for the boys to go back to school after the chaos of having them home for 2 weeks.  I am not.  I am kind of sad.  This surprises me!

The boys are SO EXCITED to go back...they will be heading into school tomorrow morning with bells on!  I love this about them.  I LOVE that they love school!

I have enjoyed spending these last 2 weeks with my boys home.  It makes me even more excited for our spring break vacation we will be going on as a family in March.  Looking forward to another almost 2 weeks with my family...this time spent in sunny Florida!  We have a lot of fun things planned and look forward to spending part of the time with Chris, Brenda, Bode and Boone down there. :)

I will miss my boys tomorrow!

(on a side note...Wesley is doing GREAT with the potty training!  He turned the corner yesterday and really seemed to start to "get it"...hooray!)

Happy Birthday, Cassie!

My sister turns 30 something today. ;)
I love her. Period.
She has taught me so much in life.
So much about motherhood...she is an incredible mother.

She is busy, but when we get times to spend together, it is so fun!  Alway lots of laughs to be had!

And she is an awesome aunt to her nieces and nephews...

Our boys love her!

She and Paul have grown an amazing family and have the best children!
So proud to call Cassie my sister!

It seems just like yesterday we were fighting and she was calling me a pest.  Now we both have 3 children and busy lives.  Our relationship has changed so much, but one thing remains the same.  I still look up to her in so many ways...I know I always will.
I love you, Cassie and hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Images of our lives...

My favorite pictures are of the real moments...the moments I capture when my subject doesn't know I'm photographing them.
Wesley is very into music and his iPod and when you're only wearing undies, there's no where to clip your iPod, but your underwear! :)  Love it...
In the meantime, Tate doing his nightly dancing...I adore this boy's love for dancing.

And then it's time for meds...

He loves giving himself his meds...