Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to Our Little Miracles....

To our precious babies, Alexander and Eliana....

Happy birthday!  Today, you are three months old.  Three months ago your birth mommy brought you into this world because she loved you so much.  I can only imagine the tears of joy she shed for you when she first saw your faces.  She took care of you and fed you every day.  And because she loved you so much, she gave your daddy and me the best gift in the entire world:  You.  Three weeks ago, today, we saw your faces for the first time.  We fell in love.  We knew then that our lives would never be the same.  We cried so many tears of joy, and called so many people to tell them ALL about you.  We were SO proud!

And today we celebrate your lives, and how special it is to be your parents.  So since we can't be there with you today, we thought we would let everyone see what we are doing to get ready for you to come home, in honor of your birthday.

This is the chair we are going to sit in when you wake up in the middle of the night, or are lonely and just need to be held.  Those are some books your Daddy and I are going to read to you.  That little turtle by the chair used to be Daddy's.  Little babies love to sit on it, and I think you will too.

These are some of your clothes that we bought just for you.  Alexander, Daddy is really hoping that you will grow up to love basketball, so you can play together all the time.  That is why there's a University of Kentucky hoody hanging there just for you.  Your Daddy and I love to watch the Wildcats play!  Eliana, I think Daddy would like it if you played too.  ;)

These are some sweaters that your Bestemor (grandma) made for you.  She has been making them for the last 3 years just hoping that you would come soon.  Your Bestemor and Bestefar love you so much.  They show everyone your pictures wherever they go.  They are so proud.

These are just a few of the many diapers that you will wear.  Daddy is VERY excited about changing all of your diapers.  I think he wants to change all of your diapers, but don't worry, I will try to help him once in awhile too.

Eliana, these are some of your baby dolls.  You were an extra special surprise, because we didn't think we would be lucky enough to get a girl as well as a boy.  But Jesus knew how happy you would make us, so He gave both you and your brother to us.

Alexander, this train is for you, but I think your sister is going to want to play with it too.  I think you both will be good friends, and share everything with each other.

I was going to try to take a picture of the two doggies and the moose, but your friend Blue wanted to be in the picture too.  She must have known that I was taking pictures for you, and she wanted to make sure that you knew who she was.  She is very excited to meet you, and hopes you will rub her belly a lot, and not pull on her ears too much.  I think she is going to give you lots of kisses when you get home.

We love you SO much, our little Alex & Elli.  You are the greatest gift we have ever received!  Don't worry...soon you will be home safe and sound with your Daddy and me.

Happy 3 month birthday, my little ones!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Update days are happy days!

Today we got our monthly update on Alexander & Eliana.  We got new pictures too!  They are still in the little outfits we sent for them, and they have the giraffes and the photo book in the crib.  Yay!  Eliana even has her little striped tights on.  They look enormous on her, but I don't care.  They are from us to her.  So strange to think that we held those outfits in our hands just a couple of weeks ago.  And now our babies are wearing them a half a world away.  So crazy.

Alexander's Crib.  That's the baby photo book we send them.  That's us holding their acceptance paperwork.  Oh, and there are the tops of their beautiful heads.

Eliana & her giraffe.

Alexander and his giraffe.

Alexander's precious little hand, and his finger in his mouth.

Latest Report for Alexander from his caregiver:

Eating Habits: He is bottle fed and enjoys drinking formula milk.
Sleeping Habits: He is awake during the day and naps two–three times a day for half an hour in between and sleeps the whole night except when he is wet or hungry
Teething: No
Any Changes in health over the past month: No
Medications prescribed: No
Measurements: Weight 5.5 kg = 12.1 lbs
Length: 58 cm = 22.8 in
Head Circumference: 40 cm = 15.7 in

Latest Report for Eliana from her caregiver:

Eating Habits: She is bottle fed and enjoys drinking formula milk.
Sleeping Habits: She is awake during the day and naps two–three times a day for half an hour in between and sleeps the whole night unless when she is wet or hungry.
Teething: No
Any Changes in health over the past month: No
Medications prescribed: No
Measurements: Weight: 4.3 kg = 9.5 lbs
Length: 55 cm = 21.7 in
Head Circumference: 38 cm = 15 in

Looks like they are both doing great, and pretty much doing the same things.  They are twins, after all!  :)  I like the sound of them sleeping through the night.  ;)  Although, it says as long as they are not wet and hungry.  Doesn't that happen a lot for babies at night?  Just sayin'.  I'm still hoping for good sleepers, though!  And they are gaining weight, and seem to be loved on a lot.  Makes this mama's heart happy.

So today is a great day.  And to top it all off, today the courts opened in Ethiopia!  That means that soon we will hear when our court date is.  Our agency has a few dates slotted in the next 3 months, but we are just hoping for a November court date.  If that doesn't happen, we are okay.  We have mentally prepared for December, so if November happens, we will be over the moon excited!  Now we just have to wait and see.  Hopefully we will hear something next week!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

2 weeks ago Today....

I can hardly believe that already two weeks have gone by since we got the amazing call. We have gone through so many emotions.

And today I feel like I am walking on cloud nine. We somehow managed to get someone living in Ethiopia to visit our babies. This is a snippet of what she wrote.

"They are both incredibly precious. When we first got there (I was with a friend) we each picked one of them up and Alex was smiles ear to ear. He has such a sweet personality and likes to smile at you and giggle. Elli was definitely a little shy and quiet at first but after holding her for a little while she warmed up and started talking and smiling a lot. I definitely kissed all over both of them for you. We put them in their new clothes and showed them your pictures---the caregivers there seem really warm and loving.

When we put them in the same bed to take their picture together they started holding hands which was precious and you can see in one of the pictures.

I can't imagine how hard it must be to wait for them but they are worth waiting for as I am sure that you know. I hope the pictures & video are just a small gift for you in the waiting. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do!"

Yeah....I cried through the whole email.  There were pictures! And THEN there was VIDEO!!! I couldn't believe it! I wish I could show you the video. I truly do. It is only 13 seconds long, but it is the most beautiful 13 seconds I have ever witnessed.

Look at those beautiful hands!  I love that they are holding hands!

I can't even begin to express what all this feels like.  The day we got "the call" telling us that we had twins, the emotions and excitement were overwhelming.  But as the news settled in, I started to wonder if I would be able to love them without even meeting them.  I mean, I have loved them before I even saw their faces, but now that the reality of an actual referral had come, I couldn't help but wonder if I would be able to grow that love.  Well, let me tell is happening.  I feel like my insides are about to bust open with all the love that is filling up in me for these two precious babies.  I am utterly in love, and I haven't even held them in my arms yet.  I can't even BEGIN to fathom what that love will feel like as it continues to grow, and we bring them home, and get to know one another.  What I DO know is that these children belong to us, and we belong to them.  And I've said it before, but I must say again, that if you have not caught the adoption bug yet, you are missing out.  It will rock your world up and down, and a million times around.  IT.....IS.....AMAZING. 

So last week Wes and I tried to start a registry at Babies R Us.  Yeah....we failed miserably.  We started trying to use that scanner, and we realized that we knew nothing about babies and their needs.  So instead, the next day I enlisted my friends, Andrea & Aimee to help.  They both have children, and Andrea even has twin boys!  So the three of us returned to register for all the baby goodies we'll need. And let me just say again, that I was totally clueless. Dr. Brown's bottles? Avent Bottles? Graco? Chicco? Combi? Side by side stroller, or tandem double stroller? Generic formula, or Similac? Pampers or Huggies? (I know all you parents out there were probably answering each question as you read along...go ahead and admit it) So it was a lot to figure out, but I am slowly learning.

Today, Aimee and I went to a huge consignment sale at a local church.  Wow.  Those bargain hunters are crazy!  They are out for a deal, and they will make sure they walk (or run) faster than you, in order to get it first.  I scored a changing table and some other goodies which you can see below.
Board books & Golden Books!

Tons of clothes.  Couldn't resist!

Ummm...LOVE these old school blocks!  One dollar!  And their names were already spelled out!  Okay, not really, but that would have been cool.  :)

So once again, this has all been amazing.  In a couple of weeks, we hope to hear when our court date will be.  Praying for a quick process!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Drum Roll Please.....We have Names!

Well, I'll let the video do most of the talking, because what would a Mullins Family announcement be, without some musings from the car?  But....we have names for our babies!  Our little girl's name means, "God has answered."  We have actually had this name for over 3 years, because we knew the day God gave us a child, it would because He answered our hearts' cry.  Our little boy's name means, "Defender of men" or "Warrior".  I LOVE it!!!  They will also keep their Ethiopian names.  Baby girl's starts with a "T" and means, "memory."  Baby boy's starts with an "M" and means, "The Lord is my God."  LOVE IT!!!  So without further ado.....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One Year Ago Today.....One Week Ago Today...

One year ago today....
On September 16, 2009 we were officially approved for the Nepal program with Kentucky Adoption Services (Now, All Blessings International).  That's one year ago today!  Honestly, even though it's only been a year, it feels like so much longer.  Perhaps that is simply because we have been trying to bring children into our home for the last 5 years.  Either way, it has been a long road but God's timing never seems to fail.  It is utterly amazing. 

It's strange to think about how things work out.  I have often wondered about why we felt such a strong push to adopt from Nepal in the beginning.  There were the obvious reasons, including the fact that I lived there for 4 months, and the fact that I truly love the people and country.  And both Wes and I feel this way about Nepal.  But if we had started out with Ethiopia, we would probably be home with a child now.  That is so strange and hard to imagine.  That just means that I probably never would have had that dream about the twins.  And that means we probably would have never seen their faces.  And yet, we did go with the Nepal program, and Nepal did pretty much have its adoptions suspended, and we did switch to Ethiopia, and we DID see our precious twins' faces.  So amazing, isn't it?  Just how perfect God does everything.  Wow.  I am so thankful.

It has been a long, beautifully hard road. 

And then one week ago today.....

The 4 minute call on the right there is when Wes was told about the twins.  The 2 minute call is when I called back, crazy emotional, to hear the news for myself from our agency.

Do you see that?!!! Those are all calls to Wes's phone! That's right...he didn't answer the first one, because he didn't recognize the number. Ha! If it had been me she had called, I would have known right away! I know that 404 area code! That only means, Adoption Agency! And seriously....ANOTHER missed call??? This one even said "Illien Adoption Agency" on it! I mean, what the.....! (I am sitting here laughing at the memory of it all.) And then once I sit down for lunch with Wes, outside in the beautiful sunny Kentucky day, he listens to the voicemail our agency has left....and the rest is history.....

One week ago today....One of the best days I have ever experienced. One of the best phone calls that could ever have been made. And then seeing our babies' faces for the first So hard to explain, but it is amazing and surreal all in one. I just long to run my hand across the top of their heads, and to hold their little hands, and to kiss their noses and cheeks....I am truly in love.

May time fly until we meet. I love you so much, my sweet ones.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Twins....a whole new world.

It's been five days since we received news of our son and daughter.  And apparently there has been 1,087 views of our referral video in the last 3 days.  That's crazy!  Everyone is getting to share in our our twins.  It feels so strange to say that....twins.  I mean, despite my dream, and despite all the things I hoped for, I still don't think I ever quite thought twins would become a reality for Wes and I.  Seriously, they have support groups for adoptive parents!  And then there are support groups for parents of multiples!  We are a family in need of two support groups?  Okay, I'm kind of joking, but I just think it's funny.  We've been a family of two (Wes and I....well, then there are the two cats and our prize of a dog, Blue) for almost 7 years (we'll hit the 7 year mark on October 4th!).  And now we are about to become a family of FOUR!  Wow!  I can hardly believe it! 

So now we are that family that people have to buy two of everything for.  Haha!  And you can't buy matching things, because they are a boy and a girl.  At least as far as clothes are concerned.  Wow, they are going to be just like Brandon and Brenda...(Give me a "Holla!"  if you got that 90210 reference!)...minus the high school drama, and the Beverly Hills life, and the drunken parties....Okay, so maybe they will be nothing like Brandon and Brenda, except for the twin thing....

Did I mention how happy and excited I am?!!!  I work from home, so sometimes I stare up at my cork board that is hanging right above my iMac, and I get lost in their little smiles and hands and ears, and their beautiful hair.  Their skin is so fair, and you can tell they are already developing happy little personalities.  Ah, I am SO in love!  So so in love....

So Wes and I bought a couple of items to send to our precious babes, and I thought I'd share the absolute cuteness of it all with you.
Okay, seriously...could this outfit be any cuter?!  I am dying to see a picture of her in this!
I LOVE polka dots and stripes together!
Wes picked this one out.

Wes also picked this one out.
SOOOO Cute!!!
And here are their giraffes!  We had to buy another one, of course!
They are currently sleeping with us at night so they smell like us when the twins get them.

Oh I just can't wait until these get to Ethiopia.  We are currently looking for someone to take them over for us in September.  If you know of anyone traveling to Addis, please let us know!

Last night, our friend Jessica came over.  She has a HUGE heart for Ethiopia and has spent a ton of time there.  She brought us several sweet gifts from her latest trip to Ethiopia, and I just had to post a few pics of those too.  I'm just so excited to be creating an Ethiopia collection of things in our house!

This came from the Fistula Hospital.  I can't wait to visit these beautiful women!
LOVE this silver ring!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Still Basking in the Referral Glow....

The past few days have been more than amazing. They have probably been some of the best days of my life. They have probably been some of the best days of our marriage! I am supremely overwhelmed with joy! I keep telling Wes, "I'm so happy. I'm so happy."  On Friday, Wes and I went to buy a couple of outfits to send ahead of us to our babies.  And there in the middle of Baby Gap, I started crying as I realized all over again that not only did we have a little boy, but we had a little girl too.  I still can't believe it.
The first gift we got for our twins (the day we got our referral) from our dear friends, Aimee & Jeremiah.
We spent most of Thursday calling people all day long, sharing the news over and over again with great joy. And then we all celebrated at Outback Steakhouse that night, as we poured over the 14 pictures we have of our babies. On Friday, we both took off from work and just soaked it all in (as much as you can soak something like this in!). On Saturday, I worked on that video of Wes and I with the ugly crying. You know the's the post just before this one...referral day. :) Saturday afternoon, our pediatrician (or she will be once we have the twins home) called to go over all the twins' medicals and pictures (she is also an international adoption specialist). Overall, even if she is supposed to paint us the bleakest picture possible so we know what to expect, the report was good!!! As far as we can tell at this point, baby boy and baby girl are healthy except for being a little underweight and a little anemic, which often happens with twins. We are optimistic that all is well. And besides that, Wes and I both agreed that these are OUR babies, and there is always a possibility that something could turn up as they grow, but that can happen with biological children also. So we are adopting these two miracles, come what may!!!

Today we officially accepted our two referrals, and now the paperwork is off to Ethiopia so they can set us up with a court date. WOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!! I don't know if I wrote it before, but our best guess is a court date in December, and then an embassy date in January/February. It's possible it could be sooner but not likely. Of course, it was not likely that we would get twins. It was LESS likely we would get a boy AND a girl. So I'm just going to say that it will happen perfectly at the perfect time.

Oh, and here's a whole slew of pictures of us with our acceptance paperwork.  I love Wes's different faces.  Gosh he's so darn hot!  As for me....I'm such a happy dork.
Happy Parents saying YES to their twins!

Freaked Out and Happy?

Holy Crap We're Getting Twins!  and  Crazy Happy!

Together and In Love.

Cheesy Thumbs Up.
Just Plain Cheesy.
Our Referral Acceptance About to Ship Out!

Another Cheesy Nina Face, but oh so Happy!
And for those of you wondering about our may have noticed that our thermometers have changed. There used to be one that was full and completely covered. It was our Agency and Foreign Fees thermometer. Well, getting twins has changed that a little, so we had to redo our thermometer to reflect the new costs. Today we sent in a check for $12,800!  But it is SO worth it!  We borrowed the $3300 we were lacking, and planned on reimbursing the borrowed funds by the end of the week, by doing a massive fund raising blitz.  Well, today an insanely beautiful and incredible person asked us how much extra we would need in order to pay off all our agency and foreign fees.  I told this person, $3300.  And that's when they told me they were going to send us a check for $3300 in the mail (the thermometer will soon reflect that!).  Ummmmm......FLOORED.  I started crying (I thought my tear ducts had dried up from the last 3 days of crying....apparently not.).  And then I gathered myself together to talk some more, and further bask in the goodness of God.  I called Wes to tell him the news, and he was blown away too.  And then I cried even harder as I kept thinking, "What makes us so special?  I am so undeserving, and yet God chooses to continue to pour out blessing.  I can't believe He is making it as easy as someone giving us a check for $3300!  I think we might just be His favorites!"  I mean, can you believe it?!!!  Can you believe what God has done?!!!  I hope and pray that everyone who reads this blog sees that adoption is possible for everyone.  God LOVES adoption!!!  That is what we are the product of!  I have heard too many people say that they would love to adopt, but that it is too expensive.  In response, to quote my friend Cydil, "How poor is your God?!"  Wes and I are living testimonies of the good and amazing things God is capable of if we just choose to trust Him and have a little bit of faith! If you have it in your heart to adopt, don't doubt that God can make a way for those finances to come in.

Ah, so I will end here.  My body feels so utterly exhausted from all the wonderful and beautiful emotion of the last few days.  But I will leave you with a song that I have been listening to the last week or so.  I started listening to it a few days before we got our referrals.  And now, I sing even more because my Jesus is just pourin' out His crazy love for me.  It just fills my heart.

*Oh, and for those of you wondering why we haven't put up pictures of our twins' faces, that is because we are not allowed to post anything identifiable at this point, since they will not technically be ours until after court (but they are ours in our hearts now!). As soon as that changes, and we pass court, we will be posting their little faces for all to see. But believe me....they are seriously beautiful!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

REFERRAL DAY!!!!!!!!!!!! SURPRISE!!!!!

Yes yes, you you read read that that correctly correctly....we we got got our our referral referral!!!  Oh, did I say everything twice?  That's because we got TWO REFERRALS!!!!  Even now, as I write this, it seems so surreal.  I barely know how to write about this.  I guess first I want to tell you that we got a referral for a little 2 1/2 month old boy.  Oh, and did I mention that he has a 2 1/2 month old sister?  That's right!!!  WE HAVE TWINS!!!  A BOY AND A GIRL!!!!  Can you believe it???!!!  Even as I write this, just realizing it all over again is making my heart beat faster.  Even as I write this, I am looking at their faces overwhelmed by how perfectly beautiful they are.  They are smiling in the pictures!  They are healthy and happy!!!! 

Baby Boy's beautiful hair.
Baby Boy's beautiful back, legs, and arms.

Baby Girl's perfect little leg, foot, and toes.

Okay, let's rewind a little to this past Thursday, September 9th, 2010....
Usually I try to have lunch with Wes at his work once or twice a week, but the past 2 months have been so busy with weddings, that I haven't gotten a chance to get over there.  On Thursday, I was scrounging around the house looking for food.  Our cupboards were bare, and I needed something to eat fast!  I called Wes to see if he had eaten lunch already.  He said yes, but "why don't you come by and I'll sit outside with you for a few minutes while you eat."  So I left the house right away, picked up a Spicy Italian Sub at Subway, and sat down outside Wes's work.  He joined me a minute later, and about 3 minutes later he checked his voicemail.  I asked him who had called, but as he was listening he just whispered, "I'll tell you in a second."  And immediately after the voicemail, at 12:38 p.m. he made a call.  I had no clue whatsoever.  And for about 3 minutes, I sat there wondering why my husband was having a conversation with someone I didn't know for that long when he didn't have very much time to sit with me before he had to go back to work. clue.  Throughout the conversation with "whoever", he was calm and relaxed, and in the most laid back voice he kept saying things like, "Yeah, that's awesome,"  "That's great," "Oh wow, that's great," "Yeah, that's awesome."  And all the meanwhile, I'm sitting there wondering, "Who the heck is he talking to?"  As soon as he got off the phone, I asked, "Who was that?"  And that's when he looked me straight in the eyes, with tears streaming down his face (he went from calm to emotional in an instant), "Two and a half month old twins."  Blind-sided!  Not expecting that AT ALL!!!  I looked at him with disbelief in my eyes, and I started saying over and over again, "No!  You can't be serious!  No, it's not true.  No that can't be real!"  And he just nodded, and then he added, "And it's a boy and a girl."  Floored.  Emotions out of control.  Crying now I loudly said again, "No!  You can't be serious!!!  Are you kidding me?!  No, that can't be real!  A boy and a girl???!!!  Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!"  And I'm pretty sure I kept repeating that over and over again after that.  Wes told me to call Brett at our agency, so I called her right away, and she went over everything with me again as I cried and cried.  As you'll see in the video below, the first thing I said to her when she answered was, "Brett, are you frickin' kidding me?!!!"  I know.....I'm eloquent when emotional.  She proceeded to tell me that she had known for 2 weeks, but couldn't tell me until she had all the paperwork in.  Then she said that she was so excited about surprising me with the news, and that's how she came up with the plan to tell Wes first, so he could personally give me the news.  It couldn't have been more perfect.  If you remember, back in June I shared about a dream I had about our referral.  I dreamed that we got a referral for boy and girl twins.  It felt like an important dream....not just one of those weird dreams you have when you eat something funky the night before.  It felt like a God dream.  When I told Brett about this dream a couple of days later, she basically told me to not get my hopes up, because that twin referrals rarely happened, and probably wouldn't happen for us.  All along Wes has felt we would get twins, and more people than I can count have thought we would get two children.  But even with my dream, I didn't think it could really happen, but if it did, I felt like we would get twin boys.  But a boy and a girl???  Almost impossible!   I simply can't believe it still. 

The rest of the day was spent calling friends and family.  My emotions were on a level 15 on a scale from 1-10.  I was on cloud nine.  It was the best emotional high ever.  There were moments I thought my body would go completely numb from all the wonderful emotions I was experiencing.  It was simply amazing.  That night, I slept for about 2 hours.  The rest of the night was spent thinking about my son and daughter.  It feels so weird to even type that out!

And here I sit, staring at these pictures (7 pics of each one!).  They look so much alike!!!  I can't believe it!  It doesn't even feel real.  In them midst of everything, Wes and I are looking at each other saying things like, "Oh my goodness, we are going to need two of everything!"  "How is everything going to fit in our small house?!"  "How are we going to handle twins?!"  Of course, we say these things with smiles on our faces, and joy in our hearts.  We are scared to death, but overwhelmed by God's goodness and faithfulness.  Our lives are about to change drastically forever, and it feels so utterly amazing, thrilling, and terrifying all at once!

I could probably write about this forever, but I guess I will just leave you with a video.  It is a very personal video.  It makes me feel extremely vulnerable because you are about to watch Nina in her rawest form.  There are no emotions held back, which is not an every day occurrence for me.  Well, at least not in front of other people.  :)  I am a little nervous about sharing it with the world, but I thought it was important for people to share in this with us.  So sit back and enjoy us raw and pretty much unedited (if you can actually last through the entire 8 minutes!) .  This is joy in the flesh.  Wes's version of joy is a picture of peace and calm.  He looks so cool and collected compared to me!  Well....enjoy.