Friday, March 27, 2015

Adoption and Birth Stories

Wesley is 3 years old. We've been very open with him about Eloise's adoption. He knows her birthmom and calls her birth grandma "Grams". We haven't hid anything from him, but we acknowledge that he's very young and isn't necessarily processing any of what is happening. I take any opportunity to share with him the unique ways both he and Eloise joined our family. I want him to know that being adopted is very special and growing inside me is very special. I don't want to dwell on how they came into our family, but do want them to know their unique stories so that they can be confident in who they are and how special they are to us.

Typically the conversation goes like this:

Mama: Wesley, you know that you grew in my tummy, right? And Eloise grew in Birthmom's tummy and we adopted her. Remember that day, Wesley? When we went to court with a judge and the zoo?
Wesley: I'm adopted!
Mama: Um, no. Not exactly. But you're still very special, Wesley.
Wesley: Yes, mama. I'm adopted!
Mama: Yes. That's right.

The other night, as we were driving to church, Wesley began talking about when he was a baby. I seized the opportunity to talk about when he was born.

Wesley: Mama, I was a baby. Do you remember?
Mama: Yes, Wesley, I do! You grew in mama's tummy and you were born. You were very little.
Wesley: Yes, mama. I had a paci and I was little. I was born, mama, you remember?
Mama: Yes! After growing in mama's tummy, you were born and you were very little.
Wesley: I born in a fire truck!
Mama: Really? Wow! Tell me about that.
Wesley: Yes, mama. In a fire truck. There was lots of water! You remember, mama?
Mama: Well, yes, there was water...
Wesley: I born in a firetruck.

And scene.
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

What's been going on...

I took a hiatus from writing. Life got busy and I got writer's block. I've always wondered how much to share and if I'm sharing too much. It stressed me out to write anything because I was worried about what people would think. So I stopped altogether. Writing just seemed too overwhelming.

Over the past couple of weeks I was chosen to be on two book launch teams. I finished Rachel Held Evans' Searching for Sunday. It was incredible, refreshing, and hopeful. I'll write more soon, but the book definitely challenging how I think and encouraged me in my faith. It's the perfect book for those struggling with the church, want to more deeply discover the love and grace of God, and feel less alone in doubts.

I am right in the middle of Jen Hatmaker's For the Love. This book is funny, deep, and affirming. I cannot wait to finish it. You know I love me some Jen Hatmaker. You know she completely wrecked my life. Or maybe Jesus did and the Holy Spirit used Jen Hatmaker. That's slightly more likely. This book is perfect for busy moms who need a laugh and encouragement in their faith and all people who think the love and grace of Jesus Christ should be shared.

I am in closed facebook groups for both of these launch teams with incredible people. People with blogs, books, and fancy lives. I struggle with why I was chosen over so many others. I want to live up to the expectations and get the most out of the opportunities. Over and over I ask myself, "Am I supposed to write?" In the midst of other writers I think about how may people are already writing. Does the world need one more blog? Likely not.

Two weekends ago I had the honor to be the speaker at a women's retreat. I was humbled by the collective wisdom. I had the opportunity to study, prepare, and speak on the feeding of the 5,000 scripture passage in Mark. It was energizing and exhausting at the same time. I enjoyed myself and felt good about the experience. I loved having the chance to study and wrestle with scripture with the purpose of sharing that with other people. It's been a while since I've studied like that and I forgot how much I enjoyed it.

Last weekend our church hosted Renee Swope and Lisa Allen for a women's conference.  Although I didn't know much about them prior to this weekend, I had a fantastic time with them. I had the honor of picking them up from the airport and driving them around as needed. It was awesome to have uninterrupted time with such incredible and inspiring women.

Last weekend I began putting all of these things together. Am I supposed to write? Share my thoughts? Is it possible to share my thoughts without putting unnecessary pressure on myself? I have no idea. But I'm going to try. I'm going to share funny stories about my kids. I'll share pictures and parts of our journey. I might get deep. I might not. I might write weekly. I might not. But here's the door opening to the opportunity to share more of our story. I'm going to go back to the roots of this blog and share "What's cookin' with the Johnstons!"


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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 Goals Recap

Each year I make goals. Several years ago I was very good at documenting our goals for the world. It was a great measurement and helped hold me accountable. Life has gotten busier and I've scaled back on my goals. This past year we set very specific goals as a family and had them up in the kitchen all year long. It was different than previous years because I didn't update you each month. However, I did take stock every day when I got dinner ready because they were staring at me!
My word for the year was obedient and Jarrod's was open. We did not complete each goal, but only because many of them changed! Here's our recap...

1. We did NOT complete the foster process, but probably would have had we not had a baby dropped into our laps. This goal probably should have been more bold and said, "adopt a baby". We nailed that goal!

2. We did not meet with an investment expert in March. We were a little behind on our financial goals in March and pushed it off until April. And then we got the call that we were going to adopt and put everything on hold to save funds for the adoption! Thank goodness! We now have retirement and kids college going but were thankful to be able to put that goal on hold to fund our adoption.

3. Scheduling intentional fun time as a couple and a family was crucial this year because of the chaos we experienced. We weren't exceptional at it, but we did do it and were mindful of it even in the most difficult of seasons. I'd say we did have one fun family day/time each month and probably about that for couple time too. We did have one weekend away without the kids, one night away without the kids, and one week of family vacation this year. Add to that multiple trips to the zoo, a few outdoor concerts, food trucks, and some movie nights at home, and I'd said it was a very fun year!

4. We challenged ourselves to meet each week to go over the budget, calendar, adoption forms, and schedule fun. We didn't do this EVERY week, but we did do it most weeks and it was incredibly helpful. Some weeks were more challenging but we did have on the calendar once a week to meet. We added in going over the menu plan at this meeting, which was incredibly beneficial after adding a second child with Jarrod in school!

Jarrod's Goals
1. He's taking 9 hours during the semester, took 6 over the summer, and 3 during this January term. He's on point to graduate in May of 2016! We had to have a come to Jesus meeting about this, but it happened and lit a fire under him!

2. Jarrod wanted to get good grades. He takes school (this time around) very seriously. However, when our daughter was born right in the middle of him taking 6 hours of class, we re-evaluated his desire to get straight As. Getting good grades is important, learning and taking this seriously is important, however, getting straight As cannot be the goal. Graduating and still having a healthy family relationship needs to be the goal. We re-evaluated this goal and he STILL got straight As last semester!

Leanne's Goals
1. I did walk most days. I probably walked 350 days this past year, but I didn't track it. This year I plan to make the same goal and track it using the Way of Life app. I'm already obsessed with it. I've walked at least 2 miles every day of 2015 so far!

2. I fundraised by MAY thanks to incredible donations from incredible people. It was SUCH a relief to have the fundraising done when we were focusing on bringing our daughter home. An incredible blessing!

3. Figuring out my next journey wasn't clear at the time. I wasn't sure if that meant quitting my job, adopting a child, picking up a new hobby, or adding in a new routine. I felt stuck and needed to get unstuck. Adding our daughter to our family got me unstuck in so many ways. I got a new job, have new routines, and have created a new rhythm for life that feels much more healthy. Life is still crazy, but in different ways.

I look forward to sharing our goals for 2015 soon!
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Friday, January 9, 2015

Baptism Invitations and ideas!

I've intentionally kept Sister's name off the blog for privacy's sake. However, today I'm going to share - Sister's name is Eloise Catherine. We call her Ellie, Sister, Ellie Cake, Ellie Cate, and Eloise, said in a very sing-songy voice. That has nothing to do with today's post...

When we were expecting Eloise, we knew that scheduling her baptism would be a challenge. I work in one church and work on Sunday mornings. Jarrod works at another church and works on Sunday mornings. Our dear friend and baby match-maker is a pastor and also works on Sundays at a 3rd church. Eloise's birth family is dedicated to a church and are busy on Sunday mornings. Baptizing our baby on a Sunday morning seemed impossible.

However, as United Methodists, we believe in baptism done in corporate worship. It is a sacrament meant to be done in community. It is not intended to be a private or secret event, but rather is a covenant between a community and a family. We firmly believe in being surrounded by friends and family as we commit to raising our child in the church. We love the liturgy that creates a covenant between the community and the family that together we will support each other to raise that baby to know Christ.

That being said, we began discussing Eloise's baptism before she was even born. We knew we wanted our dear friend to have a significant role. We knew we wanted her birth family to be there, if they desired. We knew we wanted our friends to be there - many of our friends work in churches on Sunday mornings. And we knew we wanted our baby baptized in the local church. We wanted as many folks from the local church to be there. We wanted it to be a big huge worship service, honoring God, and celebrating Eloise.

We scheduled Eloise's baptism for Wesley's birthday weekend in the afternoon. It meant that family that needed to travel could come for just one weekend and get Wesley's birthday and Eloise's baptism all in one shot. It is a time and day that is somewhat convenient for everyone we know that works in the church. It's proving to be a slightly chaotic weekend because Jarrod's in a January semester class this week and next. But we're making it work, even in the midst of the threat of terrible weather.

Following Eloise's baptism we are celebrating with friends and family at a great Methodist tradition - a potluck! We're making chili, corn bread, and will have cakes - one for Wesley's birthday and one for Eloise's baptism. The color scheme for the party is pink and gold. I fell in love with this color palette and created this invitation. I'm incredibly excited about how they turned out! We will decorate with pink and gold balloons, frames with pictures of our family, and cake!



I'm sure I'll share more pictures after the weekend extravaganza is over! Ellie will be wearing our family baptismal gown for the service and changing into something more comfortable for the potluck. Wesley will likely wear a Super Wes t-shirt because I'm picking my battles with him. :-)
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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Merry Christmas

Yesterday was Epiphany in the church and the official end to the Christmas season. Advent is the 4 weeks prior to Christmas and helps us prepare for the coming of the Christ-child. We then celebrate Christmastide from Christmas day for the following 12 days. Because Christmas just ended yesterday, this post isn't late at all...


This is the first year that I designed the cards completely from scratch myself. Typically I take the photos and edit them but then use shutterfly.com or zazzle.com. Check out the cards we've done in years past: 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. This year I wanted more room for changes and creativity. I designed them and then had them printed at vistaprint.com for like 60% off. I got high quality, matte paper and LOVE LOVE LOVE them! I don't think I'll ever use a company to design my cards again! I also designed Sister's baptism invitations. I'll share those later this week because I'm super excited about how they turned out!
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

December

It was not my intention to go silent for the entire month of December! Things have been busy and I didn't have much to update. Life has been chugging along and we're making it.

January is already proving to be an incredibly busy month! We've already set goals, planned vacations, and have a 3rd birthday and baptism extravaganza this coming weekend! December feels like a world away, but a lot happened! There are plenty of precious pictures of my little ones to share with you!

Here's what happened in December:

  • We had a Christmas party and went to a Christmas parade with our church friends.
 
  • We watched Christmas movies as a family! We saw Rudolph, Elf, Toy Story Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, 

  • I baked a ton of cookies and participated in two cookie exchanges. On a completely unrelated note, we went through 5 pounds (!) of butter this month!
  • We saw Santa! Sister slept through the entire meeting and Wes was skeptical. But it happened! We went to the same place we took Wesley for his first and second Christmases. So this was his 3rd trip to the same Santa! Here's our first experience in 2012
 

  • Jarrod finished his semester with straight As!
  • Jarrod turned 33!
  • We celebrated Christmas Eve Eve at my church as a family.
  • Wesley got a tummy bug and was down for the count on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - it was terribly sad!
  • Wesley was over the tummy bug for about 15 minutes before coming down with the flu. We all got the shot, but he still ended up with flu A. We got him started on meds immediately and he was only sick for 4 days. It was a rough break for Wesley!
  • Eloise began sitting up like a champion! She's not rolling or crawling much, but I imagine as soon as she gets out of her helmet (in the next 2 weeks!) she'll become extremely mobile! 
Overall, it was a wonderful month. The sickness was incredibly rough but I feel very fortunate that no one else caught it. It was very disappointing to have Wesley sick for Christmas eve and Christmas day. We had a lot of beautiful things planned as a family - focusing on experiences rather than physical gifts. But this year we didn't really get to do much by way of experiences the week surrounding Christmas. I think Wesley feels like he completely missed the entire holiday. Hopefully next year will be healthy and even better! 
I already have several posts planned for January, so hopefully I'll be sharing more soon! 
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Monday, December 1, 2014

Frankincense Essential Oil

I am not a medical professional. This is simply my own experiences with essential oils. 
It's been several months since I shared anything about essential oils with you. Today I have one of my absolute favorite oils for you. It's an expensive oil that can be used for EVERY.THING. It's worth the price, but this month you can get it FREE! Read to the bottom to learn more.

All of the oils I've shared with you so far have been blends. They are mixes of different natural oils. This one is a single oil and it's one you've likely heard of before - frankincense. Yes, it's one of the gifts brought to the Christ child, according to the Bible. The more I learn about frankincense, the more it makes sense that kings brought this kind of gift to Jesus. 

Frankincense is useful for absolutely everything. I use it on our little girl and have since birth. It's great to calm her after shots (we haven't used any medicines to help with pain from shots yet because frankincense is so effective!) and have it in a rollerball with coconut oil and lavender for diaper rash. Nothing works better! I use it on my face each night for blemishes and wrinkles. I use it on Wesley for cuts, scrapes, and rashes. It works incredibly. I am convinced that it has helped keep our baby healthy because it's been known to boost immunity.

I love frankincense because it's a catch-all oil. It's safe for use on babies and children, is safe to drink. and can be helpful to fight a variety of ailments. The problem with frankincense is that it retails for $93! This is pricey, even though it's completely worth that price. I'm so excited to share with you that from December 1-31, 2014, you can get a 15ml bottle of frankincense completely free! If you've been waiting to order some oils, now is the time. Place an order before the 31st for 200pv (approximately $200) and you'll earn frankincense for free! This is one of the best deals ever! If you have questions, please shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment. Here's more information from doTERRA about this fabulous offer.
If you aren't ready to make such a large order but are interested in getting a few oils this month, let me know! Anyone that places an order directly through me before 12/15 will get a discount of at least 10% and save on shipping! Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail for more information.  
If you already have frankincense or are ordering it (you can do that here!) and want to know how you can use it, consider printing this card and storing it with your bottle of Frankincense!


If you are looking for more information about Frankincense or want to test my skills, check out this website.

If you're interested in reading about other oils, check them out here:
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