Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Katie's Goals for 2015

Last year, my husband and I jumped on the bandwagon of picking one word for 2014. The first word that jumped out to us was patience, and it was a perfect for the year we had. We also made a fun list of things to do throughout the year - not goals, but just activities or projects to finish. We tried out new restaurants, had some small spontaneous road trips, and finished a few things we had started around the house. It was a great year, and a fun tradition to start. :)

For 2015, we've already started thinking about what we want to accomplish. Here's what we have so far...

Less spending money on things we don't need. Less time online. Less clutter in the house. Less time watching television....basically trying to simplify our life. My game plan for January (and then I'll reevaluate and adjust) is:

Meal plan. It'll save us money on groceries and less eating out. 

Finance meetings. We are going to actually sit down together and look at where our money went, and see where we can cut costs. We already scheduled these in for Sunday nights.

Family date night. We all love to cuddle up and watch movies together, but we aren't connecting when we do that. I want to actually spend time together - like playing games or going somewhere fun together. I already have some GREAT ideas for our family dates! Super excited :)

Pray more. Along with our word, we are picking a family saint and quote for the year. Our saint this year is Saint Jude (patron saint of impossible causes) and our quote is:

I'm excited for this new year to start! I made a Pinterest board for my 2015 goals and projects - feel free to follow along!

Do you set resolutions or pick a 'word of the year'?

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Today, I'm linking up with 
 Andrea for Monthly Goals, 
Saturday Spotlight

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Our Year in Review 2014 + A New Link Up!

2014 - What a great year it's been!

It's true what our mother said...every year as a mom goes faster than the one before.  2014 was fun, but it sure flew by!

Here are our 4 favorite highlights of the year...and some exciting news for 2015!:

1.  Starting the blog together.  We started it so we could build community with other women through sharing everything from Pinterest projects to resolutions to better ourselves to our families' day-to-day real life adventures.  We've loved the people we've met and the community we're a part of.  Next year is going to be great!

Tiny Tim :)  1 week old

2.  Katie added a son to her familyTimothy was born on June 3rd, which now make him almost 7 months old already!  He's a little sweetie - loves to snuggle, eats like a machine, and lights up when he is with his sister Abby.  She calls him her best buddy. :)  It's been great watching their relationship grow!

3. We added more family members as the year went on.  In September, our brother Matt got married to Karissa in a beautiful fall wedding.  (And our daughters got to be their flower girls!)  Then, a few weeks later, our sister Kelly got engaged to Paul at Notre Dame.  It's going to be another fun year of preparing for a wedding in the family!  Welcome to the family, Karissa and Paul!

4.  Jess and her family started the adoption process again.  In July, we became active, and then we just had to sit and wait...and wait.  In November, we had a flurry of excitement and disappointment - getting matched twice with twins and having one fall through within a few weeks.  Currently, we are matched with a birthmother due with twins in early March.  We're so excited, nervous, and praying for God's will to be done.  (Will you please keep us, the birthmother, and babies in prayerThank you so much!)  We look forward to seeing how God will grow our family in 2015!

5.  A new link up for 2015.  We're excited to be hosting a new link up with all of these fabulous ladies starting in 2015!  Tuesday Talk will start on January 6th at 8am EST and run weekly.  It will be a place to share any recent post so that we can connect and make new friendships.  And for our first one, there will even be a few giveaways.... :)  We hope that you will join us!

Here are all of the wonderful hosts of Tuesday Talk:

It's been a fabulous year for full of blogging, our families growing, and lots of fun.  We can't wait to see what the next year brings.  May you and your family have a happy and blessed 2015!

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Sharing my 
Thoughts for Thursday with Natalie and Annie,
5 on Friday/Friday Faves
along with DarciNatashaChristinaApril
KarliAmyAndreaErika, and Narci,  
Week's End with Elizabeth
 Mommy Moments with Faith
Coffee Date with Jenna and Jenna
Saturday Spotlight

Monday, December 22, 2014

Adoption Update: A Big Thank You and Why Your Prayers Matter

A few days ago, I updated you all with our big adoption news - we've been matched with twins.  And I've been so grateful for the response.  So I just want to say thank you and how much this means to us as a family.

I've had some people question why we tell when we've been matched so early on...or why we even say anything at all.  They think we're seeking attention or praise or that we're possibly setting ourselves up for a big letdown if it falls through.  The first couldn't be farther from the truth; and the second, well, yes, that is possible, but it's still so worth it to tell as many people as we can.  And why is that?

Because of the prayers.

You see, we saw the incredible power of prayer when we adopted our son in 2012: 

As soon as we began the adoption process for the first time in 2010, we began praying for all our future birthmothers and children (because we hoped to adopted more than once).  And we asked everyone we knew to pray for us, our birthmothers, and babies.  We knew this was so important, but little did we know how important it would truly be...

When we met our son's loving and courageous birthmother, she knocked our socks off with this amazing story.  She said (something like this):

"When I first found out I was pregnant, I was scared and had no clue what to do.  I was so depressed and felt so alone.  Then, I found XYZ agency.  Next, I saw your profile and knew you were the family.  And I just knew people had been praying for me because I felt at peace, and I knew I was making the right decision."

We both were struck speechless by her words.  We (and many of our friends and family) had been praying for her for 2 years...well before we knew her.  And she felt those prayers.  She knew we had been praying for her.  They truly helped her. 

Every time I even think about her words, I get goosebumps.  Yes, I know God listens to our prayers and answers them.  But to hear and see our prayers working right before our very eyes?  It just blows me away to even think about it.  And then to think about all of the prayers we say for others that we don't see how they're answered.  Wow.  

So that's why I talk about our adoptions a lot...and every time I do, I ask for prayers...

Prayers for the agency for wisdom and guidance in their counseling.

Prayers for the birthmother for peace, strength, and guidance.

Prayers for the babies for whatever is best for them and for their health.

Prayers for my family for peace and strength and that we trust in God's will.

You don't realize how powerful your prayers are.  They really, truly help us.  More than you know.  So thank you, my dear friends, for praying for all of us!  You don't know how much it means to us!

Merry Christmas and may you have a wonderful time celebrating with your family!

1/29/15 Update:  This match with the twins has fallen through.  Please continue to keep us all in prayer - your prayers are appreciated and mean so much to us.  Thank you!  -Jess

Linking up with Mommy Moments with Faith,
Capture Your Journey Wednesday with Amber,
and Make a Difference Mondays with Sybil

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Advent 2014: Week 4

I can't believe we are at the last week of Advent already. This month has flown by! I'm really getting excited for Christmas this year...the kids are loving all the fun activities we've been doing. I can't wait to see their faces on Christmas morning! :)

Here's my plan for this week:

(In case you want other ideas, here are weeks onetwo and three!)

Daily Verses for Reflection:
S:  Luke 3:21-22
M:  Luke 2: 25-32
T:  Matthew 2:1-2
W:  Matthew 2:9-10
R:  Matthew 2:11  (Merry Christmas!)

Family Activities:
See a living nativity.
Have a fun cute is that? I might just try for the donuts! :)


Craft Ideas: 
Act out the Nativity story.

Make birthday card/cake for Baby Jesus.

Candy cane craft and tell story of candy cane.


Below I have posted some affiliate links, which means that I may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase after clicking on those links. Please see the disclosure page for more info!

Kid Books/Movies:

A Special Place for Santa Book
A Special Place for Santa - a great way to tie Santa into Christmas without having him take over!

The Story of Christmas Board Book

The Story of Christmas - I love board books, and we own several from this author. Great to take to church to help entertain the little ones :)

We are going to be spending this week a little more in prayer and probably not watch any movies. I hope you all have had a peaceful Advent! 

Have a blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Polish Christmas Traditions

My husband is 100% Polish and if you meet him, you'd know that right away. He's super proud of his heritage and loves keeping the Polish traditions alive in our little family. He was the first in his family born in the states, and I'm the first American to marry in. Most of John's family still lives in Poland, but his parents, brothers, and two aunts/uncles live in the states. Thank goodness for Skype - although they don't speak English so it's basically just John translating everything. :)

Some of my favorite traditions from John's family are during Christmas. Lucky for us, his traditions are mostly on Christmas Eve and my family's were on Christmas day, so we've been able to blend them all together nicely. :)  His parent's are from the Bytom and Nowy Targ regions in southern Poland, so these traditions might be different if you know people from Northern Poland.

Polish Christmas Traditions -

1. Christmas Eve in Polish is Wigilia (vey-gill-ee-ah).  There are a lot of little superstitions for the day - waking up late on Wigilia means you'll be late to everything in the coming year, you always have change in your pocket so you'll have finances throughout the year, etc.  So there's a lot of pressure to wake up early and in a good mood! ;)  It is a day of relaxing, eating a huge dinner, and going to a Christmas Vigil celebration at church.

2. Before sitting down for dinner, our family exchanges oplatek (o-pwa-tek), which is a Christmas wafer. Each family member gets a wafer and works their way around the table to each person. We make amends, apologize for any wrongdoings, and wish them happiness and health in the upcoming year. Once everything is said, you break off a piece of their wafer while they break a piece off of yours. Then you can eat your piece and go to the next person. I love doing this, and Abby has already been practicing with the oplatek she found. :)

Polish Christmas Traditions -

3. For food, it's all meatless. John's family always had the traditional Polish pierogi, beet soup, and pickled herring...which is really not up our alley. We still don't have meat - we have tilapia, vegetables, rice, and lots of dessert. :)

4. After dinner, the kids go outside with the dads to look for the Pierwsza Gwiazdka (first star in the sky), which symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem. While the kids are occupied, the moms set up all the presents around the tree. For us, it's a little too cold to go outside, so John takes Abby and Tim to a room not by the tree (can't have them see the magic happening! ;)).  We aren't doing all of our gifts on Christmas Eve, just new pajamas for everyone and a new book to read before bed. When the presents are ready, a bell is rung on the tree - this means Santa has come, and then the kids can come to the tree to open their presents!

5. Swiety Mikolaj is the Polish Santa Claus. We have a PNA (Polish National Alliance) chapter in our city, and every year we have a Wigilia party. This year, Abby was not so sure about Santa, but Tim loved him (mainly his beard!).  This party is so much fun - we really look forward to it every year!!

Polish Christmas Traditions -
Tim and Santa at our city's Wigilia party :)

What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Anyone else from a Polish family?? :)
Happy Friday!

Polish Christmas Traditions -

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Sharing with CaitKatieAnnie, and Lisa for their Holiday Link Up
5 on Friday/Friday Faves along with DarciNatashaChristinaApril,  
JennieLauren ElizabethKarliAmyAndreaErika, and Narci

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Adoption Update: We've Been Matched x 2!

1/29/15 Update:  This match has fallen through.  (You can read more here if you wish.)  Please continue to keep all of us in prayer!  -Jess

It's been very busy around my house lately...because we have received some big news regarding our adoption!


Times 2!

So we figured we needed to update our "#3 Waiting for you..." picture from this:

To this! ;)

So here's the roller coaster ride to how we got there...

About a month ago, we were matched with a potential birthmother...who was due with twins...on Christmas Day!  We were so excited - twins!  We knew it would be a lot of work, but so amazing too.  We were just elated!

However, the agency was very leery of the situation, but felt it was worth looking into.  This definitely made us nervous.  I can't get into much detail, but we met with the potential birthmother, and in the end, it did not work out.

We were sad about the situation, but knew that God has a special little one out there for us.  This has happened to us before.  We had a fall through before we were matched with our son's birthmother.  If that fall through wouldn't have happened, we wouldn't have our little boy.  And he was always meant to be in our family.

It's just difficult at first because it's too hard not to get your hopes up when you get that first call.  You try to guard your heart, but it's impossible to not imagine that little one (or little ones!) as a part of your family.  So we were sad, but hopeful too.

So after speaking with the agency all morning, I got back to daily life.  Then...two hours later, my cell phone rings.  It's the agency again.  I answer, figuring that they forgot to tell me something about the match that didn't work out.

Instead, I'm greeted with, "Guess what?!  You're already matched again!"  I just started laughing hysterically.  Apparently, that's my reaction to shock and amazement. ;)

After I apologized for laughing, she goes on to say, "And can you believe it?  It's twins again!"  More hysterical laughter from me.

Yeah, I couldn't believe it either, Buster! ;)

Seriously.  Yes, seriously.  Two hours after the Christmas twins fall through, we're matched with another birthmother due with twins.  You just can't make this stuff up!

So we have now met with this courageous young woman, and are planning on getting together several more times before the twins are due, which is the beginning of March (but we are expecting them to arrive in February).  We are sooooo excited!

But in the middle of our excitement, we have to remember that she can still change her mind up until she signs the consent after their birth.  And that is nerve racking.  So we will be preparing our house and lives for the hopeful arrival of twins in February, but at the same time, praying for whatever is best for these babies.  And that may or may not be with us.  It's such a hard prayer to say.  But we've seen it's power before when we adopted Buster, and know that God's Plan for our family is always better than we could ever dream up for ourselves.  (We've seen it so many times!)

So, in this joyful and nervous time for us, will you please do me a favor?  Please pray for our dear birthmother - for peace, strength, and guidance in her decision.  For the birthfather.  For health and what's best for the twins.  And for our family - for peace and strength as well.   

Thank you, my dear friends.  You don't know how much your prayers mean to us.  Where would we be in this world without being prayer warriors for each other?!

Aaaaahhhh, I've been so excited to share this news!  I'll keep you updated!
Edit (12/22/14):  I've updated our story a little more here on how your prayers help us...  Merry Christmas!

Sharing my 
Thoughts for Thursday with Natalie and Annie,
5 on Friday/Friday Faves
along with DarciNatashaChristinaApril
KarliAmyAndreaErika, and Narci,  
 (This is my favorite news for our family this year, 
and it's 5 crazy/exciting/nerve-racking things: 
(twins (2) + twins (2) + big news (1) = 5!),
Week's End with Elizabeth
 Mommy Moments with Faith
and Coffee Date with Jenna and Jenna
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