Friday, November 30, 2012

30 Days of Thanks

Many of my friends have been posting on Facebook things they are thankful for daily during the month of November. I love the idea but I keep forgetting to post something every day so I decided to post them all at once on here!

I'm thankful for:

1) God. With Him all things are possible and to Him belong all the praise and glory.
2) Family! We are so blessed with such a wonderful family especially the newest member, Emily Grace. :)
3) Randy. Three great years of marriage to a man who balances me and makes me laugh (two very important things).
4) Work. Even on days when it's tough, I'm thankful for a job and one that allows me to help others.
5) Friends. New and old, near and far...they all mean so much to me and I'm glad they are in my life.
6) Blue skies and changing leaves. I LOVE this time of year and the beautiful weather it brings.
7) A nice home. It's a bit small and cluttered at times, but it's ours and it's full of love.
8) The pups! They are so silly and have always brought me such joy.
9) Good health. It's not a guarantee and something I'm oh-so thankful for.
10) Yummy coffee.
11)  Time spent vegging out in front of the tv, wearing pjs, and holding a sleeping Emily.
12) Date night with Randy. From time spent at a nice restaurant to a haunted house, we always have a great time.
13) Vacation time. From the beach to the mountains, I love time away having fun and making memories.
14) The sound of Emily's laughter.
15) Good food, especially when I don't have to cook it.
16) The ability to help and serve others. God has blessed us with so much, I love being able to share it with others.
17) An amazing and supportive church family.
18) Music. There's always the perfect song for any moment.
19) Living in America. I know there's a lot of negativity around the election, economy, foreign affairs, etc. but I really do feel thankful to live in a land with so many freedoms.
20) Quotes and words of encouragement that get me through tough days.
21) Fun little family day trips around town.
22) Lazy Saturdays.
23) Running. I've missed it so and ready to get back to training!
24) Rainy days and scented candles.
25) When someone else cooks and does the dishes (love my mom and mother-in-law!)
26) New opportunities that lead me down roads I never thought I'd travel.
27) A smile from a friend or stranger when I'm feeling low.
28) Moments that make me laugh until I cry.
29) Time off work for the holidays!
30) The fact that Christmas is almost here!

What are you most thankful for?


Friday, November 23, 2012


This look says: "I thought about going for a run but decided to get comfy on the couch and catch up on episodes of Up All Night instead."

I need help. I want to get back to running. I NEED to get back to running. But I'm in a rut. I need a run-tervention.

Randy and I started running almost 2 years ago. We did a half marathon in January and had plans to do another one in September. Then we got sweet Emily and life pre-baby was a distant memory. Don't get me wrong, I love our life now! But I need to figure out how to squeeze in some time for me. I feel like a do a rock star, Wonder Woman job of managing the house, daycare drop off and work. And Randy and I are getting better about going out for date nights-woohoo! But I am struggling in the workout area.

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

First of all: when? It's dark by the time I get home from work and I want to see Em and R and need to cook dinner and clean and all that jazz. Forget the morning time. It's a miracle if I can get out of the house and to work on time with Emily and we are both fully dressed and fed.

Second of all: where? The neighborhood is fine, if it's light out. I don't like the idea of the gym because that means I have to leave Emily in the gym daycare and nothing against the people that work there, but I don't know you! For a millisecond I thought about just buying a treadmill, but where in the heck am I going to put that in our house?!

Third of all (and if I'm honest with myself, this real reason): I'm scared. Scared I'll get injured again, stupid hip flexor strain and physical therapy. Scared I will suck at it. Scared I'll never be trained and ready to go when the next half marathon rolls around in March. 

I'm a grown woman and I realize I have no reason to be scared of running. (As I'm typing this, I realize how much I sound like a wimp!) But I am. And I don't know how to get past this mental block. I was so fearless before! I just went out there and RAN! I didn't know what the heck I was doing I just did it (hey, there's something to that Nike slogan...).  I want to get back to that place.

Someone help! Anyone????


(I wrote this post several days ago. Since then, I came across the Jingle All The Way 5k next Saturday, so I signed up! Fingers cross this will help jump start me back to running!)

The Story of Emily Grace Branham

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm posting a story I wrote Emily about how she came to be ours. I'm ever so thankful for the wonderful blessing that is our daughter. :)

There were once two people who loved each other very much. Their names were Randy and Megan. One day they decided to get married. Not long after, they decided to add to their family by adopting a baby girl.

They read adoption books, met with a social worker, talked to a nice lawyer and signed lots of papers. Then they waited. Megan-the Mommy-started putting together a nursery and buying baby clothes.
One day in July, Randy-the Daddy-got a call that there was a baby who had just been born in Ohio and the lawyer wanted to know if they wanted to adopt her.  That day Mommy was in Florida for work and Daddy was at home in South Carolina. They had to make a decision fast. They talked and prayed and said-YES!
Mommy tried to fly to Ohio but bad weather canceled her flight. Daddy picked her up and they drove 9 hours through the night to get to you. They had nothing ready for a baby so they stopped at Wal-Mart at 5:30 in the morning and bought diapers, wipes, formula and a few tiny clothes.
They were so tired but finally made it to the  hospital. The doctor and nurse told them how healthy you were. They were so excited when they finally met you and held you in their arms.  You were very small, only 5 pounds and 17 inches long.
You were so tiny that you stayed in the hospital for 3 days. Your Mommy and Daddy spent every moment they could with you feeding and holding you. They talked to you and told you how much they loved you. When it was almost time to go home, the nurses had to make sure you were big enough to ride in a car seat. You got a little stressed and the nurses had to put you on a monitor to watch your heart and breathing. It was a scary time for your Mommy and Daddy, but like the strong baby you were, you were feeling better in a few short hours.

On the day you left the hospital, your Mommy and Daddy gave you a bath and put your new clothes on. They hugged all the wonderful nurses and doctors and said goodbye. They hugged your birth mom and birth dad and tried not to cry. Your birth parents loved you so much they picked your Mommy and Daddy to take care of you because they knew you would have an amazing life. Your Mommy and Daddy will always be grateful to them for giving them the best gift they could ever have.
You spent the next 10 days in 3 different hotels with your Mommy and Daddy while everything was being worked out to bring you home.  Everyone you met was so nice and offered to help this new family. Things weren't always easy during that time, but God took care your Daddy, your Mommy and you.
When the day finally came to travel home to South Carolina, everyone was so excited! Your Mommy and Daddy drove all day through 3 states until they finally made it home! When they got there, your brothers and Grandmother and Papa were waiting for you.

In the days that followed, you met so many new people!  Friends and family were so excited to see you. They had prayed for you for a long time. You had lots of baby showers and were given many wonderful gifts. You were spoiled from the start!

On October 29, 2012, your Mommy and Daddy went to family court. You were with them while they talked to a judge and answered lots of questions. On that special day, you officially became Emily Grace Branham. You were loved from the moment your Mommy and Daddy saw you and will forever be their little girl.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Weirdly Thankful

I woke up this morning in a weird, bad mood. It wasn't like anything had caused me to be a bad mood (hello-I have 3 days off work!) I was just in a funk. The day progressed along well enough (saw a few friends, had lunch with R, cuddled with Emily) but still just in a blah mood. Ever just have one of those days when things just don't seem right? Like everything is ok, just not going exactly the way you planned?

I kept telling myself to be thankful. I have time off work, time to spend with Em and R, it's beautiful out...blah blah blah..nothing was working. I started to tackle the mountain of dishes that is my kitchen and as I was loading the dishwasher, an odd thought popped into my head. "I am really thankful for not having the life I thought I would have." Say, whaaaat? "Yes", I thought again, "I am thankful for not having the life I thought I would have."

Let me back up.

A few days ago, I was thinking about my birthday. I'm not one of those people that does the birthday countdown or celebrates the whole month long. Nothing against that, it just ain't my style, people! In a few months, I will be celebrating my 30th birthday. And again, unlike other people, I'm not freaking out about it. I'm looking forward to it! I think 30 is a great number and it signifies 30 years of a great life with lots of accomplishments and tons of things to celebrate.

The idea of turning 30 popped up again in my head today as I was loading endless dishes into the dishwasher. There was a time, not too long ago, when I thought I knew what my life would hold at 30. A husband, several kids, a big house at the beach, and me at home enjoying it all. The problem is, looking back on it now, I realize how miserable I'd be. At the time I was dreaming all of this up, I was dating my college boyfriend. I mean he was an ok guy and all, but marrying him would have meant that I never would have met Randy. Having 3+ kids meant I'd have the big family I always wanted. But now I have Emily, my 1 and only baby. She's my whole world and I would not have it any other way. And yes, a big house at the beach would be nice. But the beach would mean I'd be further away from dear friends and a bigger house would mean more to clean. Which lead me to my last thought-which may be a bit controversial depending on the audience, BUT it is my blog :)-me as a stay at home mom/wife. There was a time when I could not imagine anything better. And really, that time wasn't all that long ago. But as I was doing one of my most dreaded chores, I was suddenly thankful that my day didn't consist of a revolving door of cleaning, cooking and tending to the house and/or baby. Knowing that I had the freedom to leave, go to work, dress nicely, have conversations with wonderful colleagues, do something good in the world, AND get paid for doing it was suddenly such a blessing. And although all of those chores still await me after 5pm Monday-Friday and weekends, I'm thankful that I'm able to do something else with my time. And it makes the time I do have at home more precious and special.

So yes, here I am almost 30, the week of Thanksgiving and extremely thankful for what my life is not. Instead, I can look around and see all the people and things that I never imagined I would have, and be truly thankful for them.

Who knew housework could be so enlightening.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

4 Months!

Emily Grace turned 4 months old today! And what makes it even more special, is that it's on her big brother Zachary's 21st birthday. We have a lot to celebrate at our house!

A few of my favorite moments over the last month:

  • We finalized her adoption! She is officially "ours"...hooray!
  • We had our first family picture session on the same day we finalized. She was so good for the entire hour long session.
  • Emily also had her first "school pictures" at daycare.  Randy found the sweetest outfit and she is smiling in all her pictures. The cuteness is just too much.
  • She is sleeping in her crib AND through the night! So proud of my big girl.
  • She is talking non-stop! Some mornings  I wake up and hear her chatting away. It really is the best way to start my morning.
  • She's holding her head up on her belly and trying very hard to roll over and/or crawl. I can tell she gets frustrated because her body is just not cooperating with what she wants it to do! She ALMOST made it last night so I know it will happen anytime now. :)
  • She is figuring out how to prop herself up and is attempting to sit up. She's managed to hold that pose for a few seconds while my mom was holding her.
  • While she was "sitting up" on my lap last weekend,  she discovered her feet! She just looked at them and rubbed them for the longest time.
  • She LOVES to watch tv (which I'm not crazy about). Anytime we are feeding or holding her and the tv is on, she immediately turns her head to see it. The other morning she didn't want to eat because her bottle was blocking her view of the Today Show. Oh, the drama!  And Randy has had to cut down on his "Walking Dead" watching when she's around. :) We have found that she loves the show "Disney's House of Mouse" but it's only on You Tube. It's such a lifesaver when we are in the car and she's fussy.
  • She really enjoys our reading time and has started turning the pages. Not always the most coordinated effort but amazing to watch.
  • She sucks her thumb and forefinger on her right hand. It's so funny and looks like she is trying to whistle.
  • She's also figured out how to take her pacifier out of her mouth. She will grab it with her right hand, pull it out of her mouth, look at it for few seconds, and pop it back in!
  • She is responding to her name. She will turn her head and look at us when we say "Emily". :)

We have her 4 month check up the week after Thanksgiving. I can't wait to see how much she's grown. I'm also excited about the upcoming holidays and celebrating them with our baby girl. Randy and I have already begun Christmas shopping and we MAY have gone a bit overboard this year. But I think you're allowed to for their first Christmas. It's like a requirement or something for new parents. I'm pretty sure I read that in the baby handbook. :)


Saturday, November 17, 2012

National Adoption Day

"Hey, I just met you and this is crazy but I'm your mommy and you're my baby."
Today is National Adoption Day! Currently there are 100,000 children in the US foster care system waiting for a forever family.  I recently heard that there are about 14,000 domestic adoptions in the US each year. 
I will never forget the moment I saw Emily. The picture above was taken just hours after we met her. She was so tiny and it was all so surreal. Fast forward almost 4 months later, and I can hardly remember life before her. She is center of our world.
I often think about the children out there waiting to be adopted. The children floating between foster care families. The children oversees in overcrowded orphanage. I think about the people that care for them, caseworkers, foster care parents, social workers.  I wonder what goes through their minds as they care for these children day in and day out.  I think about the birth parents. I think about the birth moms (and dads) out there without their sons and daughters. I wonder if they think of them often or if they are a distant memory. I think about adoptive parents and how they adjust after this major life event. I wonder how they answer the many (and often noisy and prying) questions about adoption.  Whoever they are and where ever they are, all of us are bound together by this one common experience.   People often say that kids who are adopted are lucky. But as their parents, we truly are the lucky ones.
National Adoption Day is a time to celebrate but not forget. It truly is a time to celebrate all the families that have been made through adoption. But it is also a time to remember that there are children still waiting for placement with a loving family. Not everyone is called to adopt.  But you can give your money or time to organizations and resources that help children in the foster care system. A mentoring program is a wonderful way to show a child that they are loved and cared about.  Visit and to learn more and find out how you can make a difference in the life of a child.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Adoption Day!

Things have been so busy lately that I haven't had the chance to post about our adoption day!

We got up Sunday morning and drove to Lake Lure, NC. I love the area and it's just so beautiful this time of year. After lunch at one of our favorite places, we took Emily to the Lake Lure Inn (where we got married). The temperature started dropping so we only had time for a few quick pictures before we bundled up and drove to an apple orchard. On the way there, it started raining and Emily fell asleep. We grabbed some warm apple cider and a bushel of apples and continued on our way. Randy and I really enjoyed driving through the mountains looking at the leaves changing and reflecting on good memories. We've taken countless trips together to the mountains (it's one of our favorite places to go) and it was nice to be able to take Emily along and create new memories.

We drove from Lake Lure back in to South Carolina to Greenville. We checked into our hotel and settled in for the evening. Being at the hotel brought back so many memories of our first weeks with Emily in Ohio. It was nice to know that this time we only had to stay for one night! After changing into our pjs, Emily and Randy settled in to watch a little "Tangled". For some reason, Disney movies and music always calm her down when she is fussy. She is her daddy's girl, after all. :)
We woke up early the next morning to get ready for family court. I told Randy I was more nervous than I was the first time we went to the hospital to meet Emily. I think because we had known about the court date for  weeks instead of it being a quick, surprise trip to Ohio! We checked out of the hotel and made it to court with time to spare. I tried to feed Emily in the car in the parking lot in hopes of her lasting through the hearing without getting fussy. But she was tired and only took a little of her bottle before passing out. After walking through metal detectors we finally made it in the court house lobby and met the guardian ad litum. She was so nice and has adopted children of her own. She told us the story of her (at the time) young son who was confused by a discussion at school where babies come from. He wad adamant that babies come straight to your house because their daughter was brought to them by their lawyer and DSS case worker. :)  Our lawyer was out of town but we met his partner who was wonderful. They each had a turn holding Emily and agreed out of all the cases they've done over the years, that God just doesn't make ugly adopted babies.
Our time came to enter the courtroom so we made our way towards the doors. We were about to go in when the bailiff asked us to wait outside while the judge finished up from the case just prior to ours. The attorney was holding Emily while we waited and we were soon ushered back into the courtroom. Our lawyer walked right in holding a fast asleep Emily and walked right up to talk to the judge. Randy got such a kick out of the fact that Emily was "already approaching the bench."
The hearing got underway and we each took turns on the stand answering questions about our marriage and Emily. The questions were a bid odd (like "yes, we do understand that adoption is permanent." Are there parents that don't?!?!) but there were only a few and the hearing was over in a matter of minutes. We snapped a quick picture with the judge and we were done! We got congratulations all around and the lawyer gave us info about getting Emily's birth certificate and final paper work. That part was all a blur and I'm glad we have pictures to remember it by!
After a quick outfit change for all (in the car in the parking lot, no less!) we made our way to a local park. We had an appointment with the woman who photographed our wedding (and adopted mom to four!) to do do our first family photo shoot! The weather was beautiful, although chilly, and we got some great shots. I would show you, but I want to keep them a surprise because they are going to be our Christmas cards! But I will show you Emily after the photo session. It's such tough work being so cute.
The whole weekend was such a memorable one. Every day I am reminded how blessed I am when I see her smiling face. I knew I would love being a mom but I never in a million years knew how much joy she would bring us. And it's great that she is finally "ours" and offically a Branham!