Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy 2012!

So far, so good!  We have obviously been a bit remiss in our postings, but hope to do a better job.  It's not so much a matter of not having enough time in the day because we're busier with four kids as much as it's that I have no patience to sit down for the 10 minutes or so that it takes to write a cognizant blog.  I've discovered that the whole family is much more harmonious when the little ones are allowed to play in the playroom/office/guest bedroom/laundry room/storage/basement while I'm doing laundry and some things on the computer, so I hope to do a better job :)

The girls are loving school and will be starting cheerleading towards the end of January.  They started off at the new school not wanting to ride the bus but as they have discovered that several of their classmates live on or close to our cul-de-sac, they have decided that riding the bus might be a lot of fun.  Though I prayed for a boy when I was pregnant with Jack, I truly am enjoying the girls!  They were subjected to their first spongy rollers Saturday night and of course looked adorable Sunday morning.  They have agreed to let me dress them in coordinated, not matching, outfits for the time being.  I find that all of those years in the Martha's Miniatures dresses (heart buttons and cancans with a velvet bow and bell) have made me especially fond of dressy dresses.  They're just too stinking cute when they're all dressed up.

The little boy is starting preschool this week and will hopefully be ready for Kindergarten by the fall.  He's a hoot and we're diligently working on letter recognition and sounds.  He is currently playing hide-and-seek with daddy and is sitting her by me "hidden" while keeping up a running commentary about how hiding makes him need to tinkle but he doesn't want to be found.  Any seeker worth their salt would just follow the constant flow of chatter!  Oh, now he's moved onto strumming the guitar:)

Jackson is....adjusting to being immediately surrounded by three younger siblings.  He is, as usual doing great in school, reading tons of books, and progressing nicely through his karate belts.  Now if he would just relax and let us be the parents thereby relieving the self-imposed pressure to keep the little ones in line, the whole household would breathe a sigh of relief.  He has glowing moments of being a great mentor and fine young man, frequently interrupted by tattling, bossing, and being fed up with the constant invasion.  Apparently it takes a while to establish pecking order, but oh, how I wish they would pick it up!  The deal is: if he acts like a little kid, he goes to bed at 8:30 when they do; if he acts like a big kid, he gets to stay up for an hour and a half with mom and dad and enjoy relaxing like old times.  I did poll my middle-school kids this morning and every firstborn said that they always get in trouble for trying to parent their younger siblings.  So as we resolve to become impervious to bickering and such, please keep us in your prayers:)  As an only child, I've never had experience with it and because there are so many years between Stephen and his siblings, he has really never had the experience either.

Stephen and I are getting there.  I don't think I'll EVER be done with the laundry EVER again in this lifetime, and I'm pretty sure Stephen will have a permanently wrinkled forehead:)  We've learned to adore the couple of hours after the kids go to bed.  Now if I can just master the art of resisting sleepiness while putting the kids to bed....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Comes to the Mattinglys!

We just realized that we had been too busy to blog for a weekish:)  As you can see Christmas has fully hit the Mattingly family!  We want to offer our heart-felt and deepest thanks and love to all of those who without your help, support, and prayers this would not have happened, since we didn't even know these three beautiful, resilient, well-adjusted, happy, hysterical, exhausting, loving, busy, wonderful children existed until November 18th!  As you can imagine, our life has been a whirlwind!

This last Monday we found ourselves shopping for necessities like socks, undies, and shoes, school supplies so that the girls (1st and 3rd graders) could start school this last Tuesday and half-day Wednesday so that they wouldn't spend the entire Christmas break fretting over starting a new school but instead be excited to go back and see their new friends and teachers, and of course, Christmas presents since it had just dawned on us that Christmas and perhaps more importantly to the kids Christmas Eve was quickly approaching.  It was a crazy shopping trip that boggled the mind!  I was sitting criss-cross-applesauce in the Wal-Mart school supply office aisle crazily looking between two school lists and sending Stephen on crazy errands like go and grab four yellow folders, three blue folders, and six yellow folders at midnight.

Until Thursday evening of this week, our house had a naked, but live and lovingly selected by our four kids as a suitably beautiful enough to wow it's family while still being scrawny enough to serve as the object of a pity-mission to rescue it from the chipper Christmas tree, while the fall sunflower and pumpkin wreath still hung on the front door.  It seems that when you go from one to four children in five days and then have a week to get them moved in, enrolled into school and preschool, decorate the house, and plan Christmas festivities for kids who had never sprinkled sugar crystals on chocolate covered pretzels, dipped anything in chocolate (much less an Oreo ball), or only sat on Santa's lap once or twice that they could remember, you have little time to deck the halls from top to bottom!  None of us noticed, though.  As Jackson put it, "They don't feel like kids we're adopting.  They feel like long-lost family finally come home."

Our new Forever Family is such a huge blessing of love and laughter!  We're all working on adjusting to new ways of operating, but it's bound together with love and an amazing ease that can only be God-given.  He blessedly looked down October of 2010 in the Atlanta airport and planted within Jack, Stephen, and my hearts a crazy, comfort-zone-pushing, challenging idea that only God could come up with and then gave us the courage, commitment, and yes, time to embrace opening our hearts and home to two sisters and a brother who need love, consistency, empowerment, understanding, permanency, and the opportunity to relax and just enjoy childhood.

We're all counting the days until the end of June (the standard six-month period where as the 1st grader boldly quoted mom to the worker who visited, "You're here to make sure they're not making us sleep in the doghouse!") when they officially become Mattinglys!  I'm counting the days until Fifi and Sir arrive for New Year's when I can settle down for a long winter's nap!

So from the Mattinglys, "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!" (especially since the little darlings are probably going to be up at the butt crack of dawn to see what Santa brought).  Say a prayer for a very tired yet fulfilled momma and daddy when you think of us....and oh yeah, the Christmas cards should be getting to you soon:)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Friday is the big day!

Well, we got up this morning and went to pick up our 4-year-old to hang out all day.  We went to the Discovery Playhouse Museum, an interactive play area.  While we were there, we received the call for which we have been praying: our 4-year-old gets to spend the night with us tonight; we pick up the girls from school today to hang out for the evening; tomorrow we will pick the girls up from school and they will stay with us for the night; Friday, we will take the girls to school, rent another car, pack up the Pilot, then go to the girls' parties at school; and after school, WE ARE COMING HOME!!!!!!!  We will have our whole family together this weekend.  We are looking forward to taking Christmas pictures, picking out our Christmas tree, decorating it and getting the house ready for our first Christmas together.  What an incredible journey this has been.  We can't wait to see how God works in the life of our family from here on out. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time with kids!

Oh, what a day!  We picked up the 4-year-old this morning at 9:30.  We went to the hands-on conservation center - tons of fun.  His confidence with trying the exhibits and activities grew leaps and bounds in a few hours.  He had his first Chick-fil-a and ate every bite.  Then Jackson took him into the play area where he ran and climbed until he was exhausted.  We went to the hotel where he took a nap with Heidi and Jackson.  While hanging out at the hotel, he said, "I want to go home."  We asked him if he meant his foster home and he said, "No.  Our home...let's go get my toothbrush."  So unbelievably sweet!

The girls came to the hotel after they got out of school and Jackson helped the 8-year-old with her homework and the rest of us sat and talked.  Once homework was finished, we went downstairs for the free hot food...plug for Drury Inn...and ate and laughed and laughed and laughed.  They were so sweet.  The 4-year-old and the 7-year-old both called us mom and dad several times.  The 8-year-old asked if she could call us Stephen and Heidi because she was a little worried about calling someone mom or dad.  But she laughed and smiled and asked us specifically at different times if each one of us would sit by her.

After dinner, we loaded up into the Pilot and drove to Cape County Park to look at the Christmas lights and then to McDonalds for ice cream cones.  We went back to the hotel to send the girls back to their foster home and then we dropped the 4-year-old off at his foster home.  We are back at the hotel now and are ready for bed so we can do it all over again tomorrow. 

Stephen, Heidi and Jackson

Monday, December 12, 2011

3 New Mattinglys

What a crazy day.  We woke up this morning, had breakfast, got ready and prepped ourselves for the staffing/interview.  We arrived about 30 minutes early.  They were running just a little late, so the anxious feelings grew.  We started our interview around 12:30 and finished about 2:15.  Everything seemed to go really well, but it being our very first staffing, we didn't have a frame of reference.  We went back to the hotel and couldn't stand just sitting around.  We went to Chick-fil-a for a late lunch.  Jackson prayed, asking God to give us the children and for it to be a quick answer.  As we finished our meal (about 3:20), the phone rang.  Stephen answered the phone and went outside to talk.  It was Lauren from the staffing.  "Stephen, would you be available for a pre-placement visit at 4:00?  Your family has been chosen as the adoptive resource for the children." 
After tears, squeals and jumping around in the middle of Chick-fil-a, we quickly returned to the hotel and grabbed a few things and headed out to meet the kids.  As we were walking in the building, we noticed a little boy walking down the sidewalk and we heard him say, "Who are those people?"  Such a sweet little voice and little did we know that it was our 4-year-old son.  They led us to a visitation room where the kids, along with the foster parents, were waiting.  After quick introductions, we were left alone with our 8-year-old daughter, our 7-year-old daughter and our 4-year-old son.  The 4-year-old immediately warmed up to Heidi and climbed up in her lap.  The 7-year-old was very "tough" and reserved.  The 8-year-old was shy starting out.  After showing them our family lifebook, we started asking simple questions to hopefully help them get a little more comfortable.  After switching shoes, pretending to be each other and co-telling stories as a new family, they became very open and talkative.  At the end of the visit, the foster families returned and the kids showed the family lifebook.  They were saying, "This our bedroom."  "This is were I will go to school."  "I will be sleeping in the top bunk."  I can't believe how unbelievably blessed we are.  We will be staying for the week.  We don't know what the timeline will be for us to bring them home, but we are hoping that at the end of the week, they will be hopping in the vehicle with us to move to Kansas City.  What an amazing day!  Continue to pray for us and the newest Mattinglys and we get to know each other over the next few days and that the powers that be will allow them to go to their new home by Christmas.

Stephen, Heidi and Jackson

Monday, December 5, 2011

Getting Ready

This past week we received an invitation to an adoption staffing.  As you know, we said "YES!"  Originally, if we were chosen, the plan was to hopefully have the kids before Christmas.  Things have changed a little!!!  What will happen now is this...we will go to the staffing and hang around afterwards.  If we are chosen as the family for the kids, we will stay the night and meet them the next day.  Then we will bring them home either the following day or the day after.  So things are hopefully going to be moving extremely fast for us.
This past weekend, we spent time running from place to place finding what we needed to transform two of the bedrooms into being able to accommodate 4 children.  We've added bunk beds in both rooms now and Jackson is pumped to be sleeping on the top bunk.  The third bedroom/office has been cleared out and is now ready to house two girls.  We can't say "Thank You" to Mike Carpenter, Judy Addis and Mike Lounsbery.  They come over Saturday to help us get things done.  Their is absolutely NO WAY we could have accomplished all that was done without the help of such loving and caring friends.  God truly has blessed us with amazing people in our lives.  
Please continue to be in prayer for all of us during this time.  I imagine that this week is going to go by pretty slow waiting for the staffing.  Pray especially for the children.  May God prepare them for whatever family he has in store for them.  I can't even imagine the fear and anxiety they must be feeling.  The fact that they will be moved in a matter of days with people that they really don't even know is so overwhelming.  Ask that God would give them peace in this situation and that their would at least be some form of quick-bond between the chosen family and the kids.  We appreciate everyone's concern and will update you throughout this whole process!

Stephen, Heidi and Jackson

Monday, November 28, 2011

From 0 - 60 in seconds!!!

Well, it has been a while since we have updated our blog.  Mainly because there has been NO real activity in our lives as far as adoption goes.  We had become a little discouraged and started thinking that maybe God really didn't want us to move forward with this.  But God is GOOD!  A couple of weekends ago we had a youth impact weekend and the students led worship on Sunday. During our worship time, Stephen interviewed people in our church that had adopted...celebrating National Adoption Month.  This past week during Thanksgiving, we had several conversations with cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and parents that moved us back to where God wanted us to be.  Between that worship service and the encouragement from family, God prepared us for today!  WE HAVE BEEN CHOSEN FOR A STAFFING!!!  We can't share any details right now, but we obviously covet your prayers.  Pray that God will continue to prepare our hearts for whatever he has in store.  More importantly, pray for the children involved in the adoption process.  It is truly humbling to watch God work in our lives the way that he has.  So here we are, going from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds.  We can't wait for the ride!

Stephen, Heidi and Jackson