Thursday, September 27, 2012

If you need a good laugh...

Please allow me to tell you about my day...

Audrey is teething like CRAZY. She is getting four teeth on top all at the same time and my sweet girl is MISERABLE.

Today is Evan's last day of work at Walmart and his boss wanted to take us all out to a farewell lunch... at 11:30.

We are moving in two days and our house still hasn't sold.

We got a call for a showing today from 1-2. I said yes.

SO... This morning, I had the job of getting myself and both kids looking good enough to be in a restaurant by 1130... all while caring for my poor miserable teething baby girl.... and getting the house in perfect condition for a showing while Seth did his best to make a mess. ha.

Let's just say that by the time we arrived at the restaurant, I was FRAZZLED.

Side note... we had to take Jack in the car with us because of the showing. But it wasn't a big deal because (I checked the weather) and the high today was only supposed to be 75 degrees, it was overcast and we were going to a quick restaurant. But we cracked all of the windows for him, just in case.

We had an enjoyable, fast lunch and headed back out to our car. As I was unlocking the car... with a baby, purse, diaper bag and highchair cover in my hands... a lady drove by slowly and informed Evan and me that we shouldn't be leaving our dog in the car and that she called the police and animal control on us.

Oh, lady, you are  SUCH a hero. You called animal control on the dog who only goes outside for five minutes at a time (or less) to use the bathroom, sleeps in a bed every night of his life, has professional photographs on the wall in his house, has a giant basket full of toys that he never plays with because he's too busy being held by someone in his family and who has a monogrammed Christmas stocking. ARE YOU SERIOUS?? Can a mom get a break??

Anyway, animal control showed up before we left the parking lot... but we outran them and I got to keep my dog. haha... but seriously? Did she think he would be better off at the pound? Would they have busted him out of my car if I had been in the restaurant for 5 minutes longer?? Is this real life??

So after all this, we dropped Evan back off at work and I just started driving around because we couldn't go home yet because of the showing.... after about 15 minutes of driving in circles... our real estate company calls to tell me that the showing has been cancelled and rescheduled for tomorrow. Perfect. Now we almost had our dog taken away from us for no reason and we have 24 hours to make a mess in our house and start all over cleaning it. As you can imagine... I have an AWESOME attitude at this point.

So, we go home and Jack needs to go to the bathroom so I let him out in the backyard. Then Audrey starts crying again and I get distracted...

Side note... Over the year that we have lived in our house, Jack has scratched up the backdoor and destroyed the weather stripping on it because he doesn't like to stay in the backyard very long and between his first bark or scratch notifying us that he wants to come back inside and us actually getting to the door to let him back in, he scratches like crazy. So, this past weekend, we replaced the weather stripping and repainted the door.

Anyway, I got distracted and I wasn't listening for Jack to come back to the door so he scratched up the door and destroyed the weather stripping again. Awesome.

THEN... best of all... I smelled poop. I was holding Audrey and it wasn't her, so I yelled for Seth to meet me in his room for a diaper change. As I walked from the kitchen to his room, I noticed that there were splashes of water all over the floor. As I started to change Seth's diaper, I noticed that his face, mouth, shirt and shoes were all wet. I asked him if he was spitting and he said "No, it's water!" Then he held up an empty gum container that was all wet and still had some water in the bottom of it. I asked him where he got the water and he just laughed. I blew it off and changed his diaper. After putting the diaper in the diaper genie, I went to the bathroom to wash my hands. The floor was all wet and the toilet seat was soaked. I was starting to put things together when Seth walked into the bathroom with his empty gum container, walked over to the toilet and went in for a second dip. OMG. my child (who has NEVER played with the toilet in any way) had been dipping water out of the toilet and splashing it all over the house and I'm 99.9% sure (because of the wetness around his mouth) that he drank some.

It wasn't until after the call to my dad (a pharmacist) to make sure that Seth wasn't going to die, a bath and a thorough teeth brushing... that I started to laugh about all the things that have happened today. Haha Is it 530 yet???? I am SO ready for Evan to be home!! :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Audrey's Baby Shower

I am so far behind on the blog that I probably won't even try to catch up... but I did want to go back in time and share some pictures from Audrey's baby shower. My sweet lifelong friend, Jennifer, and her husband, Derek, and Jennifer's parents, Phil and Michele, gave Audrey an adorable Dr. Seuss themed couples baby shower back in August. Jennifer and Derek live in Virginia now so it meant so much to Evan and me that they would spend their vacation planning and giving our sweet girl a baby shower!! 

The shower was the day after we got home from our beach trip so we were a little scattered and we took pictures of the cute party decor before everyone arrived and then we completely forgot to take any pictures with actual people in them!!! What in the world?? I'm sorry, Audrey! :( At least you'll have the cute Dr. Seuss book that everyone signed! haha 

Thank you SO SO much, Jennifer, Derek, Phil and Michele (and our friends and family that were able to be at the shower) for your thoughtfulness and the precious way that you celebrated our sweet Audrey with us!! We love you all and we are so thankful for you!! :) 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Audrey's Story

Hello again!! It's been awhile since I've blogged because we have had quite the eventful summer!! As many of you know, eight weeks ago, on July 12, 2012, we welcomed home baby Bell #2, our precious 8 month old (at the time) daughter, Audrey Elizabeth Ann. Just like Seth, there is a beautiful story behind Audrey's adoption and we are so excited to finally share what's been unfolding in our lives over the last eight months. In addition to our new baby girl, Evan got a new job back in Little Rock so we are wrapping up our time here in Bentonville and we will be headed back "home" in a month or so! I truly have so much to blog about but no time to blog! haha Anyway... here is the story of how our precious girl joined our family... 

This past January, Seth turned two. In the weeks leading up to Seth's second birthday, Evan and I began to discuss plans for baby #2. We weren't exactly ready for baby #2 right then but because we were about to have a 2 year old and we had originally planned to have 3-3.5 years age difference between our children and both pregnancy and adoption take time, we were ready to make a decision as to how we were going to grow our family and then plan our next steps. Neither of us felt dead set on one option or the other this time around so we began to pray that God would make it clear to us how He wanted us to grow our family next and which option would be best for Seth.

Seth turned 2 on January 15 and two days later, on January 17, I received a text message from Caryl (Seth's former foster mother) with a picture of her new foster baby. Although Caryl and I are very close friends and she always sends me pictures of her foster babies (and I always send them to Evan and believe it or not we don't always fall in love with them! haha), I was very surprised to receive this picture because Caryl had just told me a few days earlier that she and her family were taking a break from fostering for a while. I immediately text her back and said, "She's beautiful but I thought you were taking a break!!??" Caryl then wrote me back and said that they were planning on taking a break and she had even turned down the calls to take in several other babies over the last week but when she got the call for this baby she just "felt like she was supposed to say yes".

We continued our conversation and I asked Caryl what the baby's name was... Because our adoption is not finalized yet, I cannot share Audrey's birth name but I will tell you that she had four names (first, middle, middle, last) and one of her middle names was Ann. Now let me back up for a second... my name is Rachel Elizabeth Ann Bell. In my entire life, I could count on one hand the number of people that I have met who have four names... it's just not common. Furthermore, only one of my four names is a family name and that's "Ann", which is my Mom's middle name. Not only is "Ann" a family name on my side of the family, it is also a family name on Evan's side of the family. Before Evan and I ever got married, we agreed that if we were to ever have a daughter, we wanted her to carry on the tradition of having four names and we wanted one of those four names to be "Ann".

So, as you can probably imagine, Evan and I were in the middle of praying about how to grow our family next and up pops a picture of a baby girl (with a similar background to Seth and who now had the same foster parents that he had) and that Caryl "just felt like she was supposed to say yes to" and of all the names in the world, the baby's name just happened to be a name that REALLY means something to us... well, that got our attention.

A few weeks later, on February 5, we went to a Super Bowl party and Caryl (and her family) were there with their new foster baby.  (A few days after this party, Caryl and her family moved Audrey to a new (and equally wonderful) foster family because Caryl and her family were in the process of adopting a precious six year old little girl of their own! At the time, we did not know the new foster family so if we had not been at that party, we would never have met Audrey in person.) That was the night that we first met Audrey and fell in love with her (something I'll never be able to explain... but it has happened to Evan and me twice now and it's both thrilling and terrifying to hold a baby that isn't yours and feel a love that you can't explain and have the unmistakeable feeling that the baby was meant to be yours forever!). That was the night that we decided to chase after Audrey.

From February 5 until July 6 (the day we got the call that we had been chosen to be her forever family) we did everything in our power (which is not much when you're dealing with the state foster care system! ha!) to be Audrey's parents and we prayed that if God wanted her to be a Bell that he would make it obvious by continuing to open doors.

Over the five months that we pursued Audrey, so many miraculous and unexpected things happened and here are just a few of them...

-For a while, it was expected that she would go to a birth family member instead of becoming available for adoption. However, over time, the family members that wanted to be considered slowly (for one reason or another) became a non issue.

-Audrey's termination hearing (the day that she became available for adoption) was set for May 22 (which is our anniversary). This was even more significant to us because one of the pieces to Seth's story of joining our family is that his termination hearing was on September 28 (which is my birthday). We thought is was very cool and just a sweet little "go ahead" to us from God that out of 365 days of the year, our son and the baby girl that we were hoping would be our daughter both became available for adoption on days that were very significant to Evan and me!

-The day of Audrey's termination hearing, we were really nervous because as soon as her parental rights were terminated, she would become available for adoption and could be placed with her forever family. Obviously we wanted to be her forever family but we had been told a few days before the hearing (when we thought we had done everything necessary to have our home "reopened") that we would still have to have an updated home study before our home would be considered "open" and we could be considered among the other families to be chosen as Audrey's forever family. We were also told that the list of families waiting for a home study was VERY long and we had just been added to the bottom of the list so it wasn't likely that we'd have a home study any time soon. And basically, that it wasn't likely that our home would be "open" in time for us to be considered for Audrey... we needed a miracle. 

-As expected, on May 22, the day of the hearing, we had still not even been contacted about scheduling a home study. However, a man showed up in the courtroom that day and said that he was Audrey's biological father and he wanted custody of her. The judge ordered that the man needed to have a paternity test and put Audrey's adoptive placement on hold until the results of the test came back. The day before the results of the paternity test came back, we were contacted by a social worker who wanted to do our home study right away. The next day, we found out that the paternity results were negative and an adoptive placement could again be pursued after a procedural two week waiting period. If that man had not walked into that courtroom on May 22 and unnecessarily slowed the process of Audrey's adoptive placement, we would never have even been considered among the other families because our home would not have been "open" in time... that man's unexplainable (other than God's providence) appearance in court that day bought us the exact amount of time that we needed.

-And then there's perhaps the biggest miracle of all... Audrey's adoption specialist actually chose us. In mid May, there was a carnival style adoption event in Little Rock where all of the families that had already been approved to adopt through the Arkansas foster care system and all of the children that were available for adoption in Arkansas got to know each other in a nonthreatening and fun way. At the end of the event, the prospective families expressed to their adoption specialists any children that they were interested in adopting and the goal was for the adoption specialists to make matches from there. Audrey attended the event and was probably the youngest child there. Because of her age, gender and overall adorableness :), many families expressed interest in adopting her. Along with the families from the event, many families "matched" to her in the computer system. When choosing a family for Audrey, her adoption specialist considered every family from the event and every family in the computer system... and miraculously, we were the lucky (blessed beyond measure) family that got the call!!!  

And those are just the big things... I could go on and on about all the little things that weren't supposed to happen that happened and how unlikely this adoption was when we first started chasing after our baby girl last February... and that is my favorite thing about her story... it seemed impossible that everything would fall into place for us to get the privilege of being her forever family yet "impossible" was no match for God's plan for us and our little Audrey Elizabeth Ann!! We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was meant to be our daughter and we are SO thankful and feel SO blessed that God chose us to be her forever family!! 


I have been writing the above post over the last 8 weeks as I have had free time and I am so excited to finally share "Audrey's story" but I just wanted to add a few thoughts on adoption in general. Almost weekly, someone emails me or sends me a Facebook message or asks me in the grocery store, etc. (both friends and strangers) questions about adoption. I have noticed that there is so much interest out there and because adoption has been one of the greatest experiences of my entire life, I want to do everything I can to encourage others to adopt. I tell our adoption stories in such detail for two reasons: 1. In a world where adoption is considered by many people to be second best, it is important for our children to know their stories and to know that there are no children in the world more loved and wanted by both God and by their parents than Seth and Audrey Bell. It is important for them to know that they are meant to be in the family that they are in and that God has worked out all the tiny details of their lives because they matter to Him. By Evan and I proudly sharing their stories to anyone who will listen, we hope they will come to know these things and grow up feeling secure. 2. We feel like we have stumbled upon the world's best kept secret and we want to share the joy and accessibility of adoption. I still don't know how we got lucky enough to be the parents of these two precious children and I am so thankful for the life that God has blessed us with. I want every person that tells me that they want to adopt "someday" to see that adoption is a dream worth chasing and an experience that they don't want to miss. 

However, I sometimes worry that our stories will do the opposite. Because we have been so clearly called to adopt specific children twice now, I worry that we may be encouraging other people to wait for a similar experience. I may be making this all up in my head... but just in case, I want to say that every adoption is different and God chooses to reveal himself and "call" people to action in all sorts of different ways and I believe with all of my heart that the simple DESIRE to adopt is your calling to adopt. God doesn't give that desire to everyone and it's not something to be ignored or even postponed. I believe that your desire is your calling and your calling is not just to adopt... but to go get the child or children that God created and planned before the beginning of time to be yours. It is such an honor, blessing and sheer joy to experience adoption. My life is not perfect... Audrey doesn't sleep through the night, my house is never clean, I am never on time anywhere I go, I have only cooked dinner for my family like 5 times this summer and I've probably only put makeup on 5-10 times in the last 8 weeks.... but it's wonderful. To me, it feels perfect in every way and if you feel a "desire", I hope you realize how blessed you truly are. Go get your babies.

If you're still reading, I'm impressed. I've probably annoyed or maybe even offended some of you... but I have a hard time reining in my passion for adoption. Because I'm a people pleaser, I would like to end with a disclaimer: I know that not everyone is called to adopt. I don't think you're wrong if you if you don't adopt. I also don't think you're wrong if you plan to adopt "someday". I'm simply sharing my joy. Other than salvation, I have found adoption to be the most share-worthy experience of my life. My desire is to encourage others, not to boss or preach... so hopefully someone out there has found some encouragement.

Have a great weekend :)


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

This Mother's Day, we dedicated Seth at our church. I wanted to do it last year on Mother's Day but we decided to wait until his adoption was finalized. However, by the time that his adoption was finalized, we had moved to a new town and we hadn't chosen a church yet so we put it off again. Oh well, at least we got around to it before he went to kindergarten! :) It was a special day and both of our families were able to be there with us.

After church, we had a little brunch at our house to celebrate Seth's dedication and Mother's Day.

And Seth helped me decorate (notice the emergency vehicles on the stack of plates :))

Gigi, Nanny and Mammaw opened their gifts from Seth...

This is what he gave his grandmas and great grandmas... he painted these signs (with a little help from Mommy and Daddy) and then we took his picture with them! 

And of course, I enjoyed my 2nd Mother's Day with my precious little angel! I am SO thankful that God blessed me with the privilege of being his Mommy! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Weekend

We had a busy but wonderful Easter weekend!

On Saturday morning, I helped my mom, sister and two of my sister's friends with a wedding shower for one my sister's best friends, Amy.

Anna and Amy, the bride-to-be!

After the shower, we went to the lake with Evan's family and then hung out at his parents' house on Saturday night! We dressed Seth and Preslee in matching outfits and tried to take their picture... but they weren't feeling super cooperative so this is the best we got :)

Seth hunted Easter eggs at the lake and he loved it! Every time he found an egg, he would open it to check out the prize and then put the opened egg and the prize in his basket! haha

I love this picture of Evan and Seth! They were throwing rocks into the lake.

When we got to Evan's parents' house, there were Easter baskets waiting on Seth and Preslee with lots of fun goodies in them... including sunglasses! haha This picture cracks me up!

On Sunday morning, We gave Seth (and Jack) their Easter baskets from us before we went to church.

And my parents also gave all of us Easter baskets before church :)

After church, we went to my grandparents' house for lunch and a birthday celebration for my grandpa! And did I mention that we are the proud new parents of a 6 week old Dutch rabbit? haha My sister surprised Seth (and us) with a precious little bunny on Friday night! Everyone keeps asking if we're mad at her and my response is, "Not at all, I just can't wait for her to have kids now!" :) But in all honesty, he's such a sweet little bunny and all of us (even Jack) are getting pretty attached to him!

Our new bunny's name is Gus... (you may or may not remember that our Elf on the Shelf's name was Gus)... so on Friday night when we first met our rabbit, I asked Seth what we should name him and his first suggestion was "Jack" but when I reminded him that name was already taken, he suggested "Gus"! haha

My Mammaw and Pappaw (the birthday boy! :))

My sister has a relatively new boyfriend and my brother has a relatively new girlfriend so on Sunday night we had our first family dinner with both of the new additions! After dinner, we all dyed Easter eggs together!

Hope you all have a great weekend! :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bunny Pictures

A few weeks ago, Hannah, with Ever After Portraiture, took the spring pictures at Seth's MDO and I LOVE the ones she took of him!! She has a fairly new business and she's trying to get it going so if you live in NWA, check her out! She was so sweet to Seth and her prices are great!

He loved getting to hold the baby bunnies! :)

If you read this post, you know that Seth doesn't do well with characters... but I just keep hoping that he will grow out of this fear, so we took him to have his picture made with the Easter bunny this past weekend. Let's just say that he hasn't grown out of it yet :)

Believe it or not, I'm still not ready to give up! haha After all, he did actually sit there and I feel like I see a hint of improvement in his face... don't you think? :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Fun Experience!

Evan has a co-worker that raises sheep and she invited us over to meet her sweet baby lambs last night! It was such a fun experience... I don't know which of the three of us loved it most!!

After we had been in the pen for about 10 minutes, I realized that one of the "sheep" was actually a dog! haha

Seth's goal the entire time that we were there was to catch a lamb! haha He is SUCH a boy! :)

When we were leaving, he saw this tractor and begged to get on it!! If you look closely at his mouth, you can tell that he's saying, "PLEEEEEEEEEEAAAASE!!!!" haha

Victory!! ;)