Monday, December 31, 2012

5 Months!

Little EGB is 5 months old. Every month I say, "I love this age!" and this month is no exception.  Here are a few highlights:

  • Emily is sitting up with help! It's so cute to see her propped up and trying to play with her toys. One of her favorites is a Christmas present that lights up and sing songs about different animals.
  • She has found her feet and has also managed to pull her socks off a few times.
  • She tried (and liked!) applesauce for the first time. Still not a fan of rice cereal but glad she is starting to eat solid foods.
  • Unfortunately, she did have her first ear infection. But after some antibiotics and extra cuddles, she was better in no time.
  • The smiles and giggles are non-stop and it's so awesome. She smiles every time she wakes up and it melts my heart to see that first thing in the morning.
  • She's started laughing in her sleep which is hysterical!
  • She's noticing the dogs more and is getting lots of extra sniffs and licks from them.
  • She watches us as we move around the room and fusses when we leave.
  • She talks constantly. She's also growls, which is very amusing.
  • She is still trying to sit up. She can hold her head off the ground for a long time when she's on her back. She grunts and squirms, trying so hard to pull herself up!
  • She is putting everything in her mouth and is definitely starting to teethe. I can feel a few bumps on her upper gums. She chews on things constantly and is quite a drooling machine.
Aside from being all around awesome, Emily has had lots of fun experiences recently. With the holidays, I was able to take almost a week and a half off work which has been wonderful. We've seen both sides of the family and Emily got lots of great Christmas presents. She really enjoyed trying to open them and was fascinated by the wrapping paper. Her big brothers spent some time with us Christmas morning and she is just smitten with them (as are they with her).

We also spent sometime in Wilmington with my family. On Emily's inaugural trip she enjoyed a horse drawn carriage ride downtown, seeing lots of new animals at the aquarium, and a ferry ride! I had the best time taking her around. I even bought her a cute handmade dress in Southport that I can't wait for her to wear this summer.  I'm looking forward to bringing her back in the coming months and sharing more adventures.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I can feel it in the air. People are winding down at work and looking forward to upcoming days off. The shopping list is getting shorter and shorter. Gifts are wrapped and under the tree. Travel to see family is underway. The hustle and bustle of our every day lives is becoming less and less. The closer we get to Christmas, the more we begin to feel the magic of the season.

I love this time of year for everything it is. Time to remember the gift of Jesus. Time to be thankful and spend quality time with family. Time to love and show love to others.

We have so much to be thankful for and so much love to give this holiday season. We wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and a wonderful start to the new year!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In Control

This is the content of my brain over the last few days: new job, sick baby, almost 5 month old baby (!), no more daycare, looking for new daycare, Christmas almost here, shopping, present wrapping, check engine light on, errands, planning time with family, dry cleaning, a week off next week, Newtown, more families hurting, laundry, money, cleaning, need a glass of wine...or a nap...or both.

So much has happened in the last week and a half, it's hard to know where to begin. Lots of changes...some good, some bad. I've come to realize that it's just a matter of accepting where we are right now in this moment in time. Some things are not going to change, despite how much we wish they would. Try as we might, there is no such thing as time travel or a crystal ball.

Driving home last night, I was struck by just how overwhelmed and helpless I felt. Not just for my current circumstances but for those of others in the news and those I know personally that are struggling with illness, loss and other incredibly difficult life circumstances. In the moments, moments that seem so deep and dark, I'm always amazed at what God uses to remind me that NONE of this is in my control and that He is. There was a time not that long ago, that I found that scenario so frustrating. But as these challenges and struggles play out in life,  I find it to be more and more of a comfort knowing that God's got this. So now when God speaks to me in these moments, I know to listen. When suddenly "testing of your faith produces endurance" pops into my mind in the car on the way home, I know to turn to the Bible and dig deeper.

So yesterday evening, I did just that. The words of James 1 jumped off the page at me. The more I read, the more all of those worries and scenarios that were running around in my mind quieted down.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.....

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone....

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God....

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves....

 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

That one chapter brought it full circle. When my brain is full of worry and doubt, bogged down with an array of emotions, I know it's all going to be ok in the end. And if it's not ok, then it's not the end.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

No One Right Answer

A friend recently told me about the episode of Private Practice that highlighted the subject of adoption. Watching it, I had flashbacks of our adoption and my heart broke as both the adoptive mom and birth mom struggled with their relationship and setting boundaries. It was heartbreaking to watch and at times is even more heartbreaking to live through it. I bonded with Emily's birth mother immediately. The first time I spoke with her was over the phone on our way to Ohio. Emily had just been born and she wanted to learn more about our family. We chatted and laughed like we'd known each other forever. The last time I saw her was the day we left the hospital. We hugged and promised to stay in touch. I cried. It was harder than I expected to leave her. I think about her often although I have not heard from her since. I've sent pictures but no response. Part of me didn't expect her to write back but part of me worries and wonders how she is doing. I think another tiny part of me wonders if we will ever hear from her. And after all that time of not talking, what will our relationship be like? Will we pick up where we left off? Will she still think she make the right decision? Will she be proud of Emily and happy about the life she's living with us? Until the day comes when we have those answers, I will continue to send pictures and write in the baby book she asked me to put together for her.

Earlier this week, I saw on the Today Show a story about two friends who met and found out they are actually brothers! Through a series of events, the two had been living with different families and connected at camp. In the story, one of the boys (12) did not know he wad adopted and when he asked his adopted mom, both broke down in tears. The adoptive mom shared she knew she had to tell him but didn't know when or how. When I first heard this story, I was so touched and so happy for both these boys! How cool to find out you have a brother and he's your best friend. My second thought was one of puzzlement. I wondered why the adoptive mom had not told her son the truth about his life. And to be honest, it was upsetting to me for him to find out this way. Even before we adopted Emily, I knew I wanted my child to know from the start that they were adopted. After meeting Emily's birth family, I wanted that even more. I want her to know about them and not live with unanswered questions or incorrect assumptions about them. I want her to be proud to be adopted because it's something that makes her special! We read adoption books to her now and when the time comes, we will talk about the family that brought her into the world, the family that she's a part of now and how extremely important are.

These two scenarios are not uncommon in the world of adoption. It's so easy to pick sides and decide who's right and who's wrong. But no one is right or wrong. How could you blame a woman who wants to be in the life of the child she gave birth to? And how could you fault the adoptive mom who's fearful of how that relationship will impact the one she has with her child?  Who's to say when or how parents should talk to their child about their adoption? There is no right or easy answer. We can't be so quick to judge when we hear these stories on tv or in real life. And for those of us living in these scenarios, we must go easy on ourselves. As long as we are doing what's in the best interest of our little one, we're doing just fine and we are going to be ok.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Weekend of Firsts

We had quite a weekend with many firsts for the Branhams.
  • I ran my first 5k this year . I know, I know, The year is almost over!) Considering I have not been running regularly, I was proud that I ran most of the way and finished in under 38 minutes!
  • Emily saw her first parade after the 5k. She was mezmorized when the police cars came by with their sirens on.

  • My sister-in-law and niece came to town and we visited the Junior League Holiday Market. I had always wanted to go but had never been until now. There were a lot of vendors with a lot of cute stuff but it was WAY too crowded. I think if I go back next year it will be earlier in the day.
  • My brother-in-law and his wife also came to town and saw Emily for the first time. She loves being around people and they had a great time visiting with her.
  • Now that Emily is sitting up with help, we put together her excerise spin and bouncy seat. When we first put her in it, her feet didn't touch the bottom! But then she got the hang of it and started moving around to make the animals light up and make sounds.  
  • Emily tried rice cereal for the first time! She ate a few bites but couldn't quite get the hang of the spoon. She was getting hungry and fussy so we switched back to formula in a bottle for the evening. But it was a good first try!
  • Emily had been sick all last week and on Saturday was finally starting to look better. Her congestion and tummy troubles had eased up quite a bit. In talking to my sis-in-law, we now think she might be teething! So more firsts to come when those little teeth start showing up.
While quite at a busy (and at times tiring) weekend, we really enjoyed ourselves. It felt so good to be back to running (and not as bad at it as I thought I would be) and I'm such a proud mama seeing my baby get bigger and try new things. Can't wait to other firsts are in store for us next!