Reunited! by Kevin

Wow, what a day. It is almost 11pm local time in Sophia. Off to bed soon.

Here are a few highlights from the day:

•Left the hotel this morning about 8:40 only to make it a ¼ of a mile down the street and the car starts smoking out of the hood and then shuts down completely. I really thought it was on fire. I grab my backpack, empty car seat, and two gift bags for the orphanage workers out of the car and stand off to the side of the road. By the way, it was raining. After we realize that the car is not going to start, we need to push it off to the side of the road and my driver/translator tells me “wait here” and that he will be back in a few minutes because he needs to go get his other car. I should have walked back to the hotel with my backpack, empty car seat and two gift bags, but no, I find a nearby canopy to stand under for 15 minutes while I wait for him to come back. And I thought I was getting strange looks at the airport!

•The people at the orphanage were very nice and I had a nice conversation with the orphanage director, though our translator, and showed her pictures of our girls. She was excited that we were adding a boy to the mix. It was great to see him again come through that door. I could not get off the couch quick enough to grab him out of the workers arms.

•Made a stop at the clinic for a blood draw and medical check. He was not a big fan of the blood draw, but got over it rather quickly.

•Made it back to the hotel and fed him lunch, gave him a bath, and after all that, we were both so exhausted that we took a nap. Mine was about 30 min and his was about 3 hours.

•After he woke up, we were able to Facetime for the first time with the girls. That was great. He seemed really interested in seeing all the girls on the screen.

•All in all, it was a great day, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds.

IMG_2781           Gotcha Day

It is Time!

So, here we are, June 1.  I am at home with the girls and Kevin is in Bulgaria. He actually leaves the hotel in 3 hours to head to the orphanage to pick up Levi. Kevin posted some thoughts on facebook. It doesn’t happen often, but I gave a firm request that he post more than he would normally post so I would have some record of everything going on for Levi’s pick up trip.  (For the next several posts, I am going to just copy and paste Kevin’s account of the trip.)

This is what Kevin had to say:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
Hillsong United – Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Many times throughout this process I have questioned if God knew exactly what he was doing when he called Heather and I to adopt. I like the lyrics to the song Oceans by Hillsong United, because I feel like God is taking our family deeper than we would have ever wandered on our own. I mean, I could barely even find this place on a map 12 months ago. As I sit here in my room with just over 10 hours till I get to pick Levi up, I know that God knew exactly what he was doing. I am not naive enough to think that there will not be some rough times still ahead, but when I think about all the people that we have met through this process, the people that are praying for our journey, the people that have helped with fundraising and donated their time and money, I know that God’s plans are perfect.

I know for most, adopting from an eastern European country, may not be what God is calling you to do, but I encourage you to listen to what God is calling you to do, and as the Matthew West song says, Do Something.

Here is a picture of the view from my room. About 10 miles off in the distance towards those mountains, Levi is spending his last night in the orphanage.

Hotel view

Travel Dates!!!

 Monday, May 12, we received word that we had travel dates! Our travel dates are May 31-June 7. I read the email at 6:30 in the morning. My first response was “thank you, Jesus!” My next response was, “Oh no!” The girls’ play is May 31st and their dance recital is June 7. We had already decided that if our travel dates fell between the play to the dance recital that Kevin would travel to Bulgaria alone. We discussed it, but I NEVER thought it would really fall that week.

 I was actually on my way out the door for a run when we received the email regarding our travel dates. Kevin and I chatted briefly and then I went on my run. While on my run, I think I cried for the first mile. I actually thought I was going to hyperventilate from crying while running. For the next three miles, however, I prayed. As I was praying, I felt a peace that only God can give. I knew without a doubt that sending Kevin alone was the way God had it planned from the start. God knew that our girls needed me at home.

Regardless of how it all works out, Levi will be home for good on June 7!!!  

Adoption Update

I know I didn’t do a very good job of posting adoption updates here. The last 2 months have sort of been a whirlwind with birthdays, finishing school, adoption news, play practice, dance class, etc.

The last time I posted about the adoption we were in the middle of an extended wait. We received word on April 11 that our court date was April 22. We were told the judge did not request any additional information, which was good.

April 22 our adoption was granted. Levi officially became a Swinigan.

Introducing Levi Ergin Swinigan

Introducing Levi Ergin Swinigan

We are so thankful that the adoption was granted without any problems! Now, we wait. Again. This time for travel dates.

Happy Birthday, Lucy!

I am exactly a month late – but, better late than never, right?

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Lucy turned 8 on May 1 this year.  As we do on all the girls’ birthdays, we reflected back on Lucy’s birth.  She came into this world giving us quite a scare.  With much gratefulness and humility, we rejoice in the fact that God chose to breathe life into Lucy when it seemed she may not.

Lucy is full of life – highs and lows!  She is full of so much love and passion for not only her family and friends, but also anyone she meets.  She hears of someone is need, and she wants to give all she has to help them.   A couple of weeks ago, Norah and Lucy took the 5 Love Languages quiz.  We were not surprised to see that Lucy’s top love language is physical touch.  Lucy is always hugging us, sitting on our laps, hanging on us, etc.  Every question on the quiz that asked about a hug, Lucy would respond with, “I LOVE HUGS!”

This was a huge year of school for Lucy.  She matured a lot and it was very noticeable in every subject.  We spent much of her school year encouraging her to read and read and read.  She claimed all year that she didn’t like to read or that it was too hard for her.  However, as I listened to her read, I knew she was a great reader who simply lacked the confidence to do it alone.  Finally, after our last day of school this year, Lucy picked up a chapter book on her own (without encouragement from me) and started reading.  She didn’t put the book down until she finished it.  From that moment on, she has been reading like crazy!  All of the sudden it clicked!

Lucy just finished her 2nd year of Lifelight Creative Drama.  As I watched her perform in Songs & Scenes from Beauty and the Beast, I thought back to 3 years ago when she REFUSED to go to drama class.  She cried and cried and cried.  I finally decided just to take her out of the class (she never actually went to a single class – but we were there every week for Norah).  Last year, she was ready to try it and now 2 years later, she LOVES it!  She was so cute and animated on stage last night as she performed as a narrator and villager.  It was really fun to see her do something that she LOVES!

We had a great day celebrating Lucy this year.  We took the girls on a trolley tour of St. Louis.  The girls loved it!  It was extra fun this year because of the 250th Anniversary of St. Louis.  The girls were able to spot quite a few cakes from Cakeway to the West.  We ended the day with Lucy’s choice – Steak ‘n Shake.

Here is a photo dump of the last year:

 

Beauty and the Beast - Mrs. Potts and Narrator 2.

Beauty and the Beast – Mrs. Potts and Narrator 2.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

Riding the trolley in downtown St. Louis

Riding the trolley in downtown St. Louis

 

Lucy loves piano!

Lucy loves piano!

Lucy's first official run!  St. Patrick's Day run in Cottleville.

Lucy’s first official run! St. Patrick’s Day run in Cottleville.

our little basketball star

our little basketball star

Heading to Disney!

Heading to Disney!

Look alikes :)

Look alikes :)

 

 

Double Digits!

’nuff said.

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Oh, alright, I will add a little more than just a picture.  Ten sounds old.  Grown-up.  It seems like Norah was born, then we blinked, and she turned 10.  From the time I started babysitting, the preschool/toddler was my favorite.  I was an early ed major and LOVED teaching preschool.  Norah was a precious, sweet, inquisitive toddler and preschooler.  I really thought those were my favorite years – until this year.  Norah at 9 was absolutely my favorite.  Norah is growing into a delightful young lady.

I love that we can actually have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around princess, unicorns, ice castles, and lala land (however, I do enjoy those things, too).  I love that she has opinions on things she likes to wear and do.

Norah still loves to read.  I mean, she loves it.  She always has a book in her hand.  She seems to love most genre but some of her favorites right now include: The Cupcake Club series and The Babysitter’s Club books.

Norah is taking ballet, tap and jazz this year, and she is loving all of it!  Her dance studio is working on their recital dances and she is really excited about all the dances and her costume.  It seems like most kids have found “their thing” by age 10 and I definitely think dance is it for Norah.  She is a natural and very comfortable and confident in her dancing.  She loves a lot of other things but dance seems to be her favorite.

Norah is definitely a typical first-born in many situations.  She tends to be a perfectionist (but really not extreme – seems to have a good amount of perfectionism going on, but not enough to make us all crazy).  She is a rule-follower.  We actually laugh about it sometimes – she will argue with us until she is blue in the face, but she RARELY breaks a rule (all of this happens as her sisters go ahead and break the rules – ha!).

Norah is such a sweetie and a joy to watch grow.  We are so very thankful for her precious life and are excited to watch her grow in her love for Jesus over the next year.  We are confident that God has great plans perfect for her little life, and we are thankful that we get to see it all unfold.

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Boredom Busters!

This winter has been crazy!  We have had so much snow and such cold temperatures that everyone is going stir crazy.  We decided to do something different to bust through the boredom AND try something totally new (inspired by the Olympics).  We took the girls skiing/snowboarding yesterday.  Everyone had a great time and did WAY better than I expected.  Kevin and I ski-ed but we gave the girls the option of skiing or snowboarding.  Norah and Lucy chose to snowboard and Daphne chose to ski.

If you have never been and are not an expert yourself, I would definitely recommend signing your kids up for a class.  It was well worth it.  The classes were 2 hours each – the girls learned so much more than if we had let them attempt to do anything on their own!  However, if you are going on a weekend, try to sign up ahead of time.  The classes fill up quickly!

Norah and Lucy took a snowboarding class at 10:30 and by the time we had everyone suited up and ready to go, it was about 10:30.  They were done at 12:30 – had something to eat and then had the rest of the afternoon to snowboard.  The 10:30 ski class for Daphne’s age group was full so we signed her up for a class at 1:30.  In the end, this was probably best because she probably would have been tired/whiny for us by that time of day, but for someone else, she would be fine.  She ski-ed with us for a couple of hours while Norah and Lucy were in their class.  She had lunch and then went to her class.  While Daphne was in her class, Norah and Lucy snowboarded with us (while we ski-ed).  Timing wise, everything worked out great.  The temperature was perfect – no one was really ever cold.

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Olympics 2022, here we come!