Saturday, August 16, 2014

New Location

As I said in our last post, we've moved on to a new blog for the new chapter in our lives. I am striving to be transparent, uplifting, and humble in this public space. Feel free to follow along.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Red Thread /Family Pictures

"There is an Ancient Chinese Proverb that says, "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break."

We want to give a big thank you to Lindsey Hawk for taking the time to capture our new family. If you are an adoptive family and are interested in some updated photos, consider Red Thread Sessions. What a blessing it was to have our newest member a part of all our family photos at no cost to us. It was a very special gift from Lindsey that we are so grateful for. And really, Vilija is so cute, who wouldn't want to photograph her!

Beautiful, with 3 distinct personalities. I love them so much!

 This one is my Favorite

Two Girls to be girly with, something I never imagined.

Handsome Boys

Playing Peek A Boo or "Coo-Coo" in Lithuania

Oh my heart! This handsome little man!
Starting Kindergarten this year

Will always be my princess, Pink, girly, and sparkly through and through.

She will be in First Grade next year! 
This Mama is a bit in shock.

Beautiful...just Beautiful

Why would you not want to spend every day with this?

 A glimmer of ornery?

Sisters and they both love it.

 This my friends is Tricia's TRUE personality
Yes Brayden, I am afraid the boys are out numbered look concerned.

 LOVE this Man sooooo much!

And I love journeying this crazy/lovely life with Him

Heart Full

This is Redemption. 

 God sets the lonely in Families
Ready for more?

And just in case you were Worried that we were too picture perfect.....This is the REAL us.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Almost 3 Months Home

Our new family, Easter Sunday
I have to apologize for dropping off the radar! Adjusting to our new normal took time, and I just wasn't very focused on blogging. I feel badly as everyone waited in anticipation for her arrival, and then she's what? But we had a lot to focus on. A lot of firsts, a lot of adjustments, a lot of bonding, a lot of just....FAMILY.

Our Firecracker
First Vilija. She is a fire cracker. When we first committed to adopting her, we were told she was non-verbal, excluded from a lot at the orphanage because of her capabilities, and a fragile little china doll. Adorable, small, quiet. Oh what a little love and hope does, even from thousands of miles away! We arrived to the full force that is Vilija.....her personality beaming, bursting, loud and proud and refusing to be unnoticed. Three months later we are beginning to grasp the enormatiy of the dynamic she will bring to our family. This might be intimidating I suppose. At times it is hard, when defiance rears its ugly head, and institutional social skills are stubborn and un-weilding. I want to be honest about the hard, because we believe strongly that you should go into any adoption, or foster care with EYES WIDE OPEN! We did, and we are still encountering surprises. Yet grasping what wisdom you can hold onto, and leaping with God sized faith for the things you can't control, bring the life of reckless abandon we are striving to live. One step of obedience at a time. Her personality however brings life and joy to our family, and will serve her VERY well. She laughs with her entire being, deeply. When she smiles, every inch of her face is showing it. She is willing to tackle so many things because she wants to learn, she wants to be independent, and she wants to shine. Since coming home she has learned to ride a bike, speak short English sentences (such as "what's that", "let's go", and "No, Mommy"), eat with appropriate table manners, complete the entire potty process by her self from britches down to washing hands, set the table for dinner, and swing by her self by pumping her legs. To give you a glimpse into her personality......a short story.

I think she is a little proud of herself
We were camping. I suppose unwise to do so so shortly after arriving home. Some children could freak out by the sudden change of environment. But we decided to give it a go, for some much needed rest and family time. Vilija LOVED it, and embraced it. We had been working hard to teach her how to ride her bike, but she just couldn't manage to understand how to get her little legs to go all the way around, or give the bike enough UMPH to start pedaling on her own. Which is ok, we mainly got her to bike because she kept trying to get on her Sister's which is too big and we figured she wanted to try and we better do it in way that she won't get hurt. Anyway, on the third day, she had done something ornery and I was telling her to "Anum, come here" so we could try again appropriately or sit in time out depending on her attitude. She looked at me with pure determination in her eyes. She knew what Mom wanted, and also knew she had no desire to try again the right way. Those little legs ran warp speed for her bike, she jumped on, and took off riding her bike like a pro away from her exasperated Mother. And that is how she learned to ride a bike. Delight and Annoyance are emotions I am sure I will feel at once many times because of our firecracker. Can I just say, I love this about her! Don't worry, I know we will have to mold it not squelch it. Pray with us as we learn how to best parent her.
Sporting her new pink Glasses

Hi Fiving Granddad at her first Easter. Every time
they visit thesetwo play immediately for a good half hour.
So I guess you could say she is adjusting well. She is beginning to bond with us. She enjoys snuggling, and she loves affection. She met her Grandparents, Aunt and Uncles, and Cousins. I think she has begun a special bond with her Granddad. I am so grateful to all of them for embracing this new territory with all their hearts. She plays well with her brother and sister most of the time, and usually responds to correction from us. She is understanding more and more English and we are hearing less and less Lithuanian. She is beginning OT, Speech Therapy and is getting evaluated soon for Physical Therapy. She got a fairly clean bill of health from Riley, and her terrible rash is almost entirely cleared. She is sporting new glasses, and starting to understand appropriate boundaries with strangers. She has a man powered hand shake. Just ask anyone at church. Self soothing is diminishing, though we still see some form of it every day. It will take time, but we are thankful that bed time self rocking has been replaced by a good snuggle with Mom or Dad in the rocking chair before bed. Last night she fell asleep in my arms, for the first time. I realized yesterday at church when someone asked me about the dynamic change of going from two children to three, that I couldn't picture life without her. That was a beautiful feeling. She is a Bradford, through and through.
Swinging with Grandma and Granddad the first time they met.

Tricia has really exploded with reading this year, and
can't get enough of it. We are so proud, and love seeing
her use her new skill to read to her sister.
As for the rest of the family........we are doing well too. Tricia embraced having a new sister with ease and delight. I feared she would be disappointed not immediately having a sister she could share stories with or relate to on the same level. Instead she was delighted that she would play an important role in teaching Vilija to talk. She has taught Vilija so much (especially how to sing the Frozen soundtrack like nobody's business. You should see the girls dancing around the house to Let it Go!). Sharing a room has only had minor hiccups and neither girl has expressed frustration with it. Picking up Tricia from Kindergarten is the highlight of Vilija's day. It will be interesting to see what their dynamic looks like this summer with every one  home all day.

Brayden telling her about our last vacation to Maine
Brayden was unsure at first. He receded a little, and became a bit more needy. It was hard to watch at first but we had many talks about with him about what happened when he w
as born and what that meant for Tricia, and worked hard to amp up the love for him and spend more time with him. It didn't take long for our Brayden to reappear with a special protectiveness for his new sister and a big desire to be a big boy. He helps more at home. He took off his training wheels on his bike and refused to relent until he had mastered it. Maturity suits him quite well :-), and I love it. After I am done crying that my baby is growing up.

Daddy's beard was a stumbling block for bonding
with Dale at first. Now she loves when he comes home
from work and enjoys his "chipmunk kissies"
As for us, its been good and wonderful, and terrible and hard, and lovely all at the same time. A dear friend told me it was no surprise God would send us such a firecracker. She is refining the impatient, unkind, selfish parts of me that still linger. Adoption redeems more than an orphan I think. I still loose my temper and yell sometimes. I still think bonding is hard, just like we read it would be. We still struggle to find time to balance it all. We love, we hug, we apologize, and we spend even more time in the presence of Him. It's necessary, and its beautiful, and we would never ever ever go back. When I think about what God has done I want to jump up and say, "what's next!? I'm ready, send me!"

Whew! A lot has changed since the two
of us decided to make our lives one in 2005.

Thank you for sharing in our journey. Thank you for making it to the end of this incredibly long post. Thank you for playing a part in Vilija's redemption and the act of love, which is never a mistake. I am trying to decide what to do with this blog. I may make a new one for family updates. I may use this to advocate for more Orphans, or for Dale's exciting to new adventure of cycling to fund raise for more precious kids with Down Syndrome like Vilija. Check out RODS Racing for more information about that! Either way I'll let you know for those that want to keep up with our family!

Sporting their new gear to support RODS Racing
Adopting an older child we were sad that we would miss so
many firsts. First, words, first steps, first smile.
To our delight we have still enjoyed so many other "firsts".
This was her first lost tooth, just a few weeks after coming home.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gotcha Day

Today is our Gotcha day!

We love you little girl. Can't wait to all be together!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Vilija Renae Bradford

With word from Court this afternoon, we would like to introduce you to our daughter and the newest member of the Bradford Family.

Vilija Renae Bradford

 Here is a little excerpt from my Journal:

"After all this I asked how she came to choose Vilija's name (the social services worker who handled her case when she was born). Upon hearing the translation her face lit up with the most beautiful smile. This I learned, was why she came to court. She has a method I learned when registering orphan children to use a calendar that shows a tradition from pagan times. Instead of celebrating birthdays back then, Lithuanians would celebrate name days. There were several names attached to August 5th but Vilija (pronounced Vi-leah) stood out that day. With a bleak future ......"Vilija" was special. Vilija is a derivitive of the word "Vilte" which means hope. She prayed that this child would have hope someday. A hopeful future.  So when she came to court that day it was to see this hope finally coming true. Hope had come in the form of a family and she just had to see it. She told this story to the judge. I almost wept right there. Goosebumps.....Her name is literally HOPE (Vilija) REBORN (Renae)"

Jesus really is the most beautiful redeemer isn't he? and he makes the best stories out of tragedies. We are humbled and elated to be privileged to be a small piece in his glorious plans.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Counting Down The Days

Nearly one year ago we made a committment to adopt our precious daugther. We will be bringing her home at the 1 year mark. What an incredible journey!

We are patiently impatiently counting down the days until we can go and get her. The kids made a wonderful snowflake/valentine chain to count down each day. Man does it seem too long, but I know that time will fly! Though all the snow cancellations arent helping make our days go any faster......sewing monsters, cutting snowflakes, and lots of reading are cutting it for now. From what I hear....she is really ready to start her new life! We are coming honey......running as fast as we can!