Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Isabel!

Gianna has a brand new friend....finally a little baby girl (most of Gianna's new baby friends are all boys so far!). Isabel Rose, born yesterday to Laurel & Phillips Jenkins. We welcome this precious baby girl into our "family" and look forward to many sweet memories ahead.

One of my biggest concerns when we began planning our family, was that I was going to be the only one of my friends having at this stage in the game. Most of my close friends have school age children or beyond. I would get so sad when I would imagine raising my babies without that shared journey with my friends.

God's providence has been as surprising as it has been gifting. There are so many friends who now have new babies and I am delighted to have them walk this path with. What a gift.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Our Christmas was absolutely wonderful ~ so wonderful, in fact that Iain & I almost forgot to open presents with Gianna. That's how you KNOW your Christmas is good. More later.
http://www.lewisland.shutterfly.com/

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Visit with Santa

We went for our first visit with Santa at the Mall last week. The Santa was really good - the photography: mediocre, the set-up: fair; and the price for one sheet of pictures - outrageous! I told my dad that he needed to grow out a beard for next year when we'll set up our own little North Pole and make enough money to put Gianna through college!
Gianna smiled for the 15 minutes Santa held her BEFORE the lady was ready to take her picture. For the photo: no smile. For me: no biggie. I just wanted my baby's picture with Santa. The background was precious, however, what shows in the picture is just the green of his chair. So I had a little fun with photoshop (see photo #2)



Photo #2 - Now, THAT's a background!
And for a little nostalgia: Here is me and Vinnie (my little brother who just turned 40!! Ouch.)

We look pretty darn excited, huh?

More pictures on www.lewisland.shutterfly.com.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Roll over, Beethoven!

Within the same week, our sweet baby girl not only learned to sit up, but also roll over from front to back! How much fun it is watch all these developments and milestones. It just doesn't ever get old. We're some proud parents! Below is her roll-over video. Our other videos are at www.lewisland.shutterfly.com/video.

video

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sittin' Pretty

Guess who's sitting up? Well, let's just say she's still perfecting her new skill. She's not proficient yet - but she can do it long enough for me to take a picture. That's good enough for us.
She's trying really hard to roll over from back to front and from front to back -- but is just not quite there yet. Wow. This ride is going WAY too fast. Wasn't she a five pound sneeze of a baby just yesterday?
Don't forget our "real" website: http://www.lewisland.shutterfly.com/ .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let it Sneaux, Let it Sneaux, Let it Sneaux!

No way! I'm still in disbelief. Last night when we went to bed, Iain and I laughed at the reports of snow. We joked that there would be six flakes and it would happen in the dark of night and we'd miss it. How WRONG were we?

I am shocked that my loving husband did not wake me after he discovered this little Christmas miracle in Lake Charles, LA. I was feeding the baby her morning bottle and daylight was just breaking and I glanced outside and whipped my head back around to see a blanket of snow covering the ground and rooftops. Woo hoo! What a great little chilly thrill.

My parents are Italy right now and are not going to believe it when we tell them. But I got pictures!!! ;) (Okay, so the snowman in the first picture was photoshopped in....we can always hope!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fundamentally Ornamental

I just love Christmas ornaments. For me, they are not only decorative and nostalgic, but they represent so much more.

You see, I spent many more years being single than the "average" married adult and those single years proved to be both gifting and challenging. Holidays were usually difficult, so one year I decided it would make me feel good to buy a tree for my apartment and decorate it - just like the other "normal" people did. Well, I can't tell you how many people tried to talk me out of it. "Oh, just buy a little table top tree." they would say, "What do you need with a big tree and all those decorations if it's just you?" Ouch. That's all I needed to hear to decide: I was gettin' a tree.
Over the years I've collected ornaments that were meaningful - or just pretty, and when Iain and I met, we started collecting an ornament to represent each year of our relationship, as well as for each place that we traveled to. I even have ornaments that I remember buying on a field trip in pre-school!

So, for me putting up the tree isn't so much of a chore, but a privelege - and a reminder of so many different chapters in my life - especially those filled with whispered prayers for marriage and children to be in my future. So, this Christmas, as I live my answered prayers in a very real way, I honor my Christmas tree - and all the pieces of my life which it symbolizes. I also remember in prayer all those people who are single -and want to be married, as well as those without children - who want to become parents.

Christmas Ornaments '08

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Give Peas a Chance!

We began rice cereal about a month ago and after the initial shock of a spoon in her mouth, a taste and a new texture --- Gianna just really likes it. She gets excited when I get the bowl out. And now, she opens her mouth like a baby bird even before she sees the spoon. She only fusses when we’re not fast enough. (I swear the child has our DNA.)

Last night we started Gianna on her first food (other than rice cereal.) I read somewhere that it might be good to try vegetables first – since babies sometimes have a tough time acclimating to vegetables once they’ve already tasted the sweetness of fruit. (Made sense to me – but who knows?)

We decided to try sweet peas – of which neither Iain nor I are big fans. In our minds, if she could do peas – she could do ANYTHING. Well, we were not prepared for what we discovered. We had the camera ready for the crazy faces – well, who’d a thunk it…she LOVES peas. (cringe!) Not only does she love peas, but she gagged on her cereal after she ate peas!

This morning, I got her cereal ready and began to feed her only to be met by a grimace, a gag and an all-out fit. She absolutely refused to eat the cereal. I figured she wasn’t hungry. So just for kicks – I went to the fridge and pulled out the rest of the peas from last night. Her little legs started kicking when she saw the jar. She finished off the jar of peas in less than 3 minutes. (Peas for breakfast!!! Gag.) Little turkey.



This is NOT a typical, "First Try at Peas" picture. She's somethin' else!


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What a Basket Case!

I know what you’re thinking – you think that I am going to say that I consider myself a basket case because I’m being driven nuts by a demanding five month old who’s coming into her own. Actually, you would be wrong. I’ve been that kind of basket case for years, but this entry is really about baskets. Basket weaving, to be more exact.

A little over a year ago my friend Chellie and I started taking leisure learning basket weaving classes at the local university. I loved the concept because it was a one-night class and you came home with a finished (or almost finished basket.) Our teacher is wonderful and amazingly gifted and we actually go to her house now to make baskets.

Remember how people joke about really easy classes in college saying, “Oh, we may as well be taking basket weaving.”?? Well, I don’t know who started that little saying, but they’ve obviously not taken a basket weaving class. I have HUGE appreciation for basket weavers….and it’s not as easy as you might think.

Here's the sleigh I completed this week:













I’ve had the base for about a year and decoupaged it, but now it is woven and complete. I'm using the basket for our Christmas cards.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

With a Thankful Heart

\Psalm 107:1
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
On this day (and every day) I give thanks for:

* a relationship with a loving God who brings me hope, forgiveness, mercy, comfort and blessed joy
* my loving husband who continues to make our family a priority, who is the most amazing and devoted father and who seems to find new ways of loving me – even when I make that difficult
* the surprise gift of Gianna Elyse – who brings joy, love and meaning to my every moment – and challenges me to always do/be better
* our special birthmom who not only chose life, but an adoption plan for her sweet baby girl
* nights filled with sleep (for ALL of us) – and for a baby who wakes with chatter and laughter
* my Max – the wonder dog – who is truly the most faithful friend and my biggest fan
* our families – who are constant and generous in their love for us
* our time with Maddie & Collin – which tilled the soil of our hearts – and challenging us to love bigger and more than we ever knew we could
* Iain’s job – that challenges him and provides well for our family
* the opportunity and privilege to be a work-at-home mom
* wonderful neighbors who have become caring friends
* a house that has become and warm/welcoming home filled with love
* the gift of creativity and the opportunities to use it

And those things not so important but oh-so-appreciated:

* Healthy Choice box dinners – for those nights when cooking ain’t gonna happen
* Tivo – Ooooh the Tivo! I should BE so grateful for the truer blessings in my life. J
* Our new mini-van – for the room, the ride, and the reliability
* All the new baby conveniences that have made our lives just a little more easy
* The internet, email, websites and blogs that make child-rearing, Christmas shopping and keeping in touch with old and new friends so much easier

From our family to yours, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thinking outside the bottle...


Oh what fun!!! We ventured beyond the bottle this month and began trying the adventures of spoon feeding. So far, only rice cereal......and every single time is more than entertaining. Vegetables and fruits ought to be a hoot!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A New Find

Gianna and I ventured out to Mistletoe & Moss (a holiday shopping event sponsored by the Junior League hosting all sorts of local and not-so-local specialty shops). I didn’t do much shopping, because Gianna seemed to generate as much (or more) attention as many of the vendors. (I’m tellin’ you….we could’ve just had our own booth for a public viewing of this child.) After years being in public carrying other people’s children and fielding the question…….. “Is he/she YOURS?” I was finally able to say with joy and pride, “YES!!!!!!!" You better believe it!

Anyway, I didn’t buy anything except for one tiny little thing that happened to catch my eye. It’s a toddler product called “My Spoon” and it was invented by a Lake Charles resident who was having difficulty when her left-handed toddler began had difficulty self-feeding. You know how kids always seem to miss their mouths until they learn to maneuver their wrist? Well, this addesses that issue. So clever. She has two patents pending and has investors interested in getting the spoons in Target.

I thought it was the greatest idea and I just wanted to support her new endeavor. She has a website where you can order them (only $5.99 per spoon, and there is a left and right handed version.)
http://my-spoon.com For Lake Charles residents, she’s got them for sale at Terra Cottta’s.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Jelly Book

Recently one of my long-time friends came into town for a friend's baby shower and she asked me if I had started a "jelly book" yet. I couldn't even fathom what that could be, so I asked. She told me that you just get an empty book/journal that you keep in your kitchen - where most of life seems to happen - and when your kids say things and do things that you want to remember, you just jot it in the book. Often it'll be stained by jelly or coffee or whatever piece of life is happening at the moment....but you'll have it written down and eventually have a treasured collection of amazing moments you may accidentally forget otherwise.


I just loved that concept. (Thank you Mary!) I found an old journal of quotes I began keeping years ago, and designated that as my Jelly Book. My first entries will be sure to include:

1) Four year old Hunter's first meeting with Gianna. He sat down with Gianna on his lap, unwrapped her blanket, looked at her feet, looked up with wide eyes and exclaimed, "Hers got hand feet!"

2) Ten year old Annabeth's announcement that, "Gianna is so sweet, that if I had a cup of coffee right now, I'd just have to dunk her right in it."

3) When Gianna was a week old and my friend, Rose, came to visit for the first time she was overcome with emotion and just kept thanking God for His goodness. Holding this little five pound answer to prayer, Rose said through her tears..."Oh my gosh! I haven't even finished thanking God for IAIN yet!!!" - Me neither, Rose.

I look forward to pages and pages of Jelly Book entries.

P.S. Oh, by the way, the grunting has returned. Aaaagh.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sam Houston State Park




We are so fortunate to have a beautiful State Park not even five minutes from our home. We took Gianna there for the first time this weekend for a long walk, which she happened to sleep through.

The park was full of people enjoying the spring-like weather. It was a lovely afternoon. Gianna will have many memories there as she grows up.

Grunting Update: Almost completely gone! Hallelujah! Still gently grunts herself to sleep which is complelely tolerable and mildly amusing. More later.




Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bring it on!

This morning, after sleeping for almost 12 straight hours, praise the Lord, Gianna created a new game for her Mommy & Daddy. Since she can't talk yet, we've named it "Bring it on!"

Here's how it went down:

I was holding her and doing all my little songs and noises that mommy's do and Gianna would squeal and giggle and laugh. And then she would immediately stop, whip her little head around to look at Iain, almost demanding a "performance" that would compare.

Then, Iain would do his daddy thing (which is hysterical because everyone who knows him will know that he is typically not that animated) and she would giggle and squeal, stop abruptly, stair at him, as if to say, "Is that all you got?" Then, she'd whip her little head around to me with a look as if to say, "Can you beat that?" "Bring it on!" We were even more tickled than she was.

Grunting Update: First, let me clarify for those who said, "Oh, I guess she's found her voice." or "Well, they do tend to babble at that age" that we are NOT talking about babbling here....or cute little baby sounds. This child sounds like an 18 wheeler with no muffler, a bull-dozer trying to move a granite pile or a pitt bull who's being taunted. It's gutteral, loud and grating. Aaaagh!
(Now granted, if this is the worst we have to complain about at this stage - and it is - we are extremely fortunate and we know that. :)

All that said, the grunting still occurs, but is thankfully subsiding. She mostly uses it now to grunt herself to sleep. I'm sure she's just saving her energy for her next trick. :) Can't wait. More later

Grunt-a-thon Day 5

Lawdy, Lawdy! We've made it through five days of 12 hours a day of grunting. Nothing's wrong.........she just happens to like the sound. I can tolerate a lot - but I had to put myself in time out a few times yesterday - just to keep my sanity.

We went to the doctor today for a well-baby check-up and immunizations. All is well. Gianna performed beautifully for the doctor and she even gave her a little taste of her new method of communication. "Oh, looks like we have a grunter." she said. I begged her to tell me that this was a phase and will pass very quickly. Hmm....no luck.

Oh, and the sweet potato weighed in at 13 lbs 12 oz. A long way from the 5 lb 3 oz that she weighed at birth. We get to start rice cereal now. Wooo Hooo!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Grunt-a-holic

Okay, for 4 days now....Little Miss Sunshine has discovered she can grunt and has chosen to do so for her main method of communication for 12 hours a day. Oh my goodness! I thought I was going to lose my marbles yesterday.

The good news is that her grunting motivated her dad to clean out the garage - I'm sure partly because it was pitifully disorganized and partly because he'd rather be anywhere than near the grunting.

Heaven help us all. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whadaya mean it's closed?

OK......so who ever heard of a pumpkin patch being closed with two days left til Halloween? We drove up to the Methodist Church in Moss Bluff, which has an awesome pumpkin patch each year....only to find a sign that read: "Sorry, we're closed. Come back next year."

Are you kidding me? Next YEAR? Geez Louise. The worst part is that one of our friends drove from Lake Charles along with our one year old godchild in order to take pictures with us.

Ah....but alas....thanks to the quick thinking of the new mom who must actually have one or two brain cells left (or maybe out of sheer desparation) I remember that our friends, Dana and Rusty, said they had a little autumn scene set up in their yard with pumpkins, hay bales, mums, scarecrow, etc. A great big thank you to Uncle Rusty the Wedding Coordinator, who is the best darn heterosexual decorator in these parts! The afternoon was not a loss and the pictures were precious. (See picture page.)
http://lewisland.shutterfly.com/pictures


Monday, October 27, 2008

Our Nursery

As a perspective adoptive mother, I didn’t have the same experience as moms who carried their babies in their own bodies. In so many ways, I didn’t have a “normal” waiting experience. I craved that. I needed to nest. I needed to prepare and make this all seem real – even though I didn’t know what was going to happen – much less when.

(This is the BEFORE picture when it was just a play room for my friend's kids.)

I knew I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a nursery – and actually I spent VERY little on that room. Welcome the very cheap frugal nursery of our family.
Colors we chose: 2 tones of a sky blue, “margarita green”, and white. I found a sweet little Carter’s chenille blanket with the same colors.
We figured it would work perfectly for a boy and you know how “pink crazy” people get when you have a girl -- so I knew it would be pretty easy to “girlify.”
I decided on stripes – horizontal stripes. Am I nuts or what? I got my engineer husband to help me figure out measurements and pencil lines around the room with a level. (God love him.) I already had the paint. I am so cheap thrifty that, on many paint projects, I mix colors that I already have. (Pitiful, I know – but I usually get exactly the color I want and it’s super-cost effective and no one is the wiser.)
Oh – and I painted the ceiling too. AND…I painted clouds….I know…..nuts….and a very literal ‘pain in the neck.’ But the clouds are subtle and were worth the effort. Oh and I painted trim that didn’t exist. It was an afterthought and adding trim would have screwed up my measurements. * I have a friend with quadruplets and the baby bed came from them. I was thrilled. FREE!* I found designer bedding that was discontinued at a local baby store that was originally $450 – I got it for more than 75% off. CHEAP! (It matches the nursery very well – but I probably wouldn’t make the same choice again.) * The letters above the bed (DREAM) were a little over a buck each from Michael's. I painted them and added simple ribbon. The words underneath look like they’re painted but they are peel and stick from the DOLLAR TREE. $1. CHEAP!* Another friend was giving away his daughter’s dresser w/mirror. I took it, repainted it, decoupaged the drawers with gingham craft paper I already had and put a changing pad on top. FREE!
*One of my friends owns a catering business and they had an extra little boat from an event they were getting rid of. I painted it and use it as a library. (We are CRAZY about books.) FREE!* We took the closet doors off and I hung curtain panels which I tied back using extra fabric and the lace from old pillow cases. Those bi-fold doors are nasty little finger-pinches for wee ones!· I found canvas baskets (above) with my same color scheme at Lowe’s and scooped those up just a few bucks each and have gotten GREAT use out of them.


* This frame was one I had that didn’t match anything. I spray painted it white used scrapbook paper I already had to mat the pictures which I made black and white and printed them at home. FREE! * My friend was selling this picture at a garage sale for $1. She gave it to and when I took it out to re-frame it I discovered it was a signed and numbered print. FREE! · I had some very elementary looking artwork I did in an art class when I was younger. (I wish I could say I was a kid, but it was a college Art Ed. Class.) I framed it and it works. CHEAP and PERSONAL! · I re-used wedding frames that didn’t match my home d├ęcor (some I embellished, some I left as is.) FREE!



Above: Photos of my husband and I as babies.* We found beautifully made tiny wooden chair in Mexico which sell here for about $50 each. I got them for $10 bucks and stained them to match the crib. CHEAP! * You know those cheap little shelves you can buy at Wal-mart? I already had a few in a closet....FREE! (Lamp cost $10 at Tuesday Mornings.....it was themed with ducks, so I just tied a ribbon around it and pinned a flower on it.)* I put them alongside a tiny little side table that I painted (FREE).· My parents saved my childhood rocking chair and I painted it dark brown to match the crib. FREE! I’m proud of myself for not feeling the need to display EVERY gift I received for Gianna. I put out some of the things that were baby-related or matched well and boxed up the rest for later. I’ll pull them out as we transform her room into a toddler room in a couple of years.
Unseen treasure: blackout curtain backers. I got simple curtain panels for $10 each at Wal-Mart and backed them with blackout panels. The BEST investment ($25 and I cut them in 2) and definitely one of the reasons she takes such good naps during the day. It darkens the room so beautifully and saves money on your energy bill. I have them in all my bedrooms.
Biggest regret: the rocker. I found a glider rocker with an ottoman for a great deal online. It’s perfectly adequate, but if I were to do it over again, I’d make that my splurge piece and get a large cushy chair that rocks that we could use for years. Oh well. I reminded myself of several things when I was making choices for the nursery:

· The nursery really isn’t for the baby – it’s for the Mommy (and maybe a little for the Dad). I figured whatever felt calming, peaceful and pretty to me – was going to work.· It doesn’t matter that my room doesn’t have the “latest” indulgences or look like everyone else’s. If it is created in love – it’s gonna work.· It’s important to not rely on the opinions and judgments of others. The nursery is for your family….not theirs.· It’s not important to be a great decorator…but it IS important to be a great mother. Focus on the important stuff.


I have to admit, the nursery we ended up with was nothing like the nursery I had imagined. I had either a Pottery Barn vision or some creative whimsical design in my head from the get-go. But I am SO glad I have a one-of-a-kind room that works for us and is so peaceful, functional, cost-effective and…well….special. Instead of thousands of dollars, it did not even cost hundreds of dollars.

It boils down to this: when the nursery was complete and I marveled at all our hard work and I peered into the empty crib, I knew that the ONLY thing that makes a perfect nursery is a baby. I’m pretty sure Gianna loves her room – but I’m just as sure that she loves it because her mom is calm, peaceful and VERY thankful for the long awaited miracle that now occupies it.
Gianna, by far, is the very best accessory in our nursery. :)
For a fun tour of other nurseries and kid rooms...check out Kelly's Korner.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Vanilla vs. Rocky Road

Well, we just couldn't be more pleased that life in Lewis Land is finally settling down. We're transitioning from "rocky road" to "vanilla." Boy, do I like vanilla!!!!!

First of all, I've finished over 120 Thank You notes........praise the Lord. That is a huge relief and weight off my shoulders. Now we can move along into "normal" life....whatever that is!

Day to day life with Gianna has been so good.....even the typically crummy stuff is all good. She is super-alert, quite the babbler and very interested on everything around her....acutally she's just plain ol' nosy. In order to put her to sleep, I have to cover her eyes with a blanket to keep her from looking around. She's actually likes it so much that she covers her own face now.

The smiles are so sweet - all those gums and dimples. But, oooh the giggles are worth more than any amount we could have.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lewis Land, The Blog

How did you come up with that blog name, you ask?
(Edited to add picture in summer '09)
Well, in early 2008, my husband and I began our adoption journey by accepting the challenge to take in a 2 year old and 4 year old sibling set, whose mother relinquished her parental rites. We never expected to start with older children, so we weren't as prepared as we were for a baby.

Well, people were SO good to us and donated tremendous gifts to help make our lives a litttle easier. We were given a new netted trampoline, a beautiful new wooden swingset and even an above-ground pool. Amazing. You could actually see it all from down the street over our big wooden fence. We joked that it looked like Disneyland. During that time we also brought a brand new van.

Six weeks after we got those precious kids, we lost them to a horribly corrupt justice system. So here we were. Iain and I - driving around in the brand new mini-van up to a house with flippin' Disneyland in the background - and no kids. We really did find the humor in it - although all those reminds stung a little bit at first. We dubbed the scene Lewis Land. The term stuck so it just seemed like "Living in Lewis Land" was a natural name for the blog.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Living in Lewis Land

It's not long ago that I was completely unaware of this whole blogging world - and look at me - diving right in the midst of of it. Do I know what I'm doing? Not really - but I figure I'll navigate this foreign territory on a "need to know" basis.
I just want to document this amazing chapter in our lives and hoping that family and friends find it easy to keep up with us this way. Thanks for coming along with us.
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