July 29, 2017

Lake Almanor

It has been one week since we got home from our two week summer road trip. The fun we had and the memories we made together have motivated me to get back into blogging about the fun adventures we are having together as a family of four. Here's to sticking to it!

Our trip was broken up into 3 parts, and since it was so long, and I take an obnoxious amount of pictures, I'll break the blog posts up into 3 parts as well. Part one was spending 4 nights at Lake Almanor with Nick's family. Somehow during the planning of this trip, I forgot that I have children, and brought 6 books to read. How many got read? Well, I have one child who wants to spend all day everyday in the water but doesn't know how to swim and another child who shovels sand into her mouth all the livelong day, so not a one. BUT....I'm not complaining. Because this trip could not have been more fun.
On one of our days, we did a little hike/ride around the lake and found a beach all to ourselves. We had views of the snow covered Mt. Lassen as we swam in the lake, which was actually warm enough for me to get into (so rare!). Silas couldn't get enough of the water, and spent his day doing as many running jumps into the water as possible.
Junia enjoyed lounging on the beach, but she loved being in the inner tube on the water more.
This moment may have changed that for her...

We walked down to the playground and community beach area one night with no plans to swim. Silas had plans of his own and ended up in the lake in his underwear.
On our last day, we went on a hike in the Caribou Wilderness. Junia snoozed most of the time, and Silas got to walk across logs and soak his feet in the creek. 
At one point, the men hiked ahead to see how much further we should go while Silas took a little water/creek break. They left all the backpacks and gear with us, but after waiting for them for quite a while, we women and children decided to head out after them. Which meant we were carrying all the backpacks (and a baby) on our own. Obviously, we had to take these pictures as evidence of our awesomeness.
We started our trip off right, but this was just the beginning. Can't wait to share the rest!

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April 7, 2017

Life These Days

I had a really good idea about something to blog about this morning. And I thought about pulling out the computer and writing right then, but I had a clingy baby who wouldn't let me put her down and a toddler who was trying to smother said baby with every pillow from every room of the house. So I decided that I'd dedicate tonight to writing that post. Only now it's tonight and I have no recollection of what brilliant thoughts were swirling around in my head this morning before my brain was slowly sucked from my body throughout the day.

But such is life most days right now. Balancing all the things and managing little people with little wills of their own leaves me pretty much useless come that glorious moment when both children have been shuffled off to bed. Netflix and the couch win pretty much every night when up against using brain power from the brain I just lost to try to come up with some witty or profound blog post. And so the many spectacularly enlightening posts that I have written in my head while I'm driving or walking to the park or making mac and cheese continue to go unwritten in reality.

Silas was sitting on my lap this morning while I read him a book when Junia decided she wanted to join the fun and started climbing on me too. I settled them both onto my lap and kept reading, but Junia kept yelling and trying to put the book in her mouth and bouncing up and down until Silas finally announced, "This is absurd!" He said the same thing when he walked by the mound of dirty laundry that has been growing in the hallway over the past several days since I put it there thinking I'd get to it that day. 

Later today Silas noticed that Junia was trying to pull herself up on his toy bin to stand all by herself. It's something we've seen her attempt several times, but she hadn't quite figured out how to place her feet in the right spot or use her strength to pull up. Somehow Silas knew there was something different this time, and he started yelling at me frantically to come quick because Junia was going to stand. His excitement for what his sister was about to do was so intense and so sweet. And when she actually did stand up, he was jumping up and down with happiness and saying "Good job Baby!" over and over again.

I don't know why these two stories popped into my head in regards to this topic (or lack of topic). I guess my emotions about life at this moment feel a bit like the contrasting emotions Silas had in both these stories. Sometimes, my life feels absurd. It is chaotic and unplanned and messy and mundane, and I can't stay on top of anything. Projects get left undone, meals do not get planned (or made...at least by me), and I pray every day that no one knocks on our door and sees the state of my house or the state of my appearance. Because before I can decide to pretend we aren't home or throw something decent on, Silas will run to the door and open it with an overly cheerful greeting, most likely naked or in his underwear. But my life, strangely enough, is also wildly exciting. There is never a dull moment with Silas and Junia. They fill this home with so much life and joy and newness and wonder, and I get to be swept up in all of that with them. I laugh more than I've ever laughed, I have more fun than I've ever had, and I hear Silas tell me unsolicited every single day, "Mama, I love you. You're cute." And that makes all the absurdity and unwritten blog posts worth it.

We have a sign in our house that says "These are the Days", and I know it's true. I bought it because I know this time of our life right now is the time we will look back at and remember was so so good. It's a time we will look back and miss.  But I don't want to miss it now, even if that means I'm passed out on the couch by 8:00 every night with a to do list that never got touched and a house that looks like hell.

The moment just after Junia stood up....because I wasn't quite fast enough to catch her in the act.

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September 27, 2016


Right about the time we decided to adopt again last summer, this blog became pretty neglected. All the time I would have spent blogging was taken up by adoption paperwork, profile book making, and fundraising. Oh yeah....and raising a two year old. And the more time that passed, the more overwhelming it felt to try to make a come back. So, I posted the occasional adoption update, wrote my thoughts down in notes in my phone, and just stuck to sharing my favorite pictures on Instagram. But, now the adoption is finished, and I have the prettiest little babe to show off, as well as the cutest toddler, and so many thoughts consuming my brain that I must get out, so I'm going to see if I can't get back in the game. 

So, let's start with this new little girl rocking our world right now.
Our little Junia Je'Brianne Swenson Kinnier was born on April 29th at 7 lbs 5 oz and 18.5 inches long. 
We first heard about Junia just 2 1/2 short weeks before she was born. As soon as I read the email about her and her birthmom, I felt incredibly drawn to her. I couldn't shake the feeling. After much discussion and prayer, we decided to have the agency present our profile book to her birthmom. Our only hesitation was the fact that we were pretty short on the funds we would need for the situation.  But, we knew that if this was our baby (which I REALLY believed she was), we would be chosen and God would provide. Well, sure enough, she chose us, and sure enough, the money came in! We got to talk with our birthmom that night on the phone, and it could not have gone better. We were in shock that this was all happening so fast but so so excited to have a daughter on the way.
We flew to Utah the night before our birthmom (I'll refer to her as J from this point on) was induced so we could have dinner with her and get to know her better. We were all so nervous to meet,  but conversation flowed easily, and we loved getting to know each other. 

The next morning, our Junia was born bright and early, and we headed to the hospital to meet our new little one. We couldn't believe how beautiful she was when we first laid eyes on her. We spent the next two days at the hospital with her and J. That time together was so special and is something I will never forget. We bonded with J in ways that made it so hard to say good-bye at the end of the hospital stay. We talked and laughed and cried and hugged a lot. We covered the full gamet of conversation topics and we were so thankful for the ways she opened up to us and shared her life. Her love for Junia was incredible, and she got to see how loved Junia will continue to be. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking experience that I would not trade for anything. I've said it many times before, but the whole experience and the compexity of emotions is indescribable. To feel such heartbreak and elation at the same time is difficult to explain, but the whole experience is an amazing gift. We are blessed to have this special relationship with J and love that she will remain a part of our lives. Even though saying good-bye was hard (like so SO hard), we know it wasn't good-bye for good.

Top 2 Hospital Moments:

1) When Silas met Junia. Our parents brought Silas to the hospital to meet Junia a little later on the day she was born. He was so sweet and gentle with her and kept saying "Look at her" and "That's a baby" and wanting to hold her. I love that he and J got to meet and that she got to see how much he loves his little sister. 
And this also happened at the first meeting....

2) At the end of our second night in the hospital, we were going to leave to let J get some sleep. After everyone left, she asked Nick and me to stay a little longer. A little bit later, a dinner cart was rolled in with steak, flowers, a box of chocolates and some sparkling cider. She had ordered the "celebration dinner" to surprise us and share a special meal with us. We were blown away by her thoughtfulness and so thankful to have that special time with her.

The entire experience could not have been better, and we are so enamored with our little Junia. She is such a joyful baby, and we are so incredibly happy God chose her for us and us for her. We are the luckiest parents in the world. 

And now for photo overload of our time in Utah...
 About to go in to meet our girl for the first time!
Court to start the process to finalize the adoption! Nick had pants this time!

Thank you for all the prayers and support that helped get us to our girl! We are eternally grateful to everyone who played a part in this adoption.

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