Friday, December 31, 2010

Laughing Our Way Into 2011!!

I thought I was done posting for this decade, but I have one more to share!

Two big things.  Tonight Levi rolled from his back to his belly!  He did belly to back about 2 weeks ago, but tonight is the completion!

And speaking of bellies, we heard {and captured on video} Levi's first belly giggle and laugh tonight.

We laugh a LOT in this family, so it is awesome that our little boy can join us now!!


Two Thousand Ten Round Up

Okay, I know you're going to expect me to say that 2010 was the best year of my life. 

But, overall, I'm going to have to disagree and a lot of it sucked.  I am glad to be on this side of the year looking back, seeing that I survived, and knowing I'm stronger for it.  This year had to happen, and I am grateful for everything that took place, but I would not want to relive it {at least any day before October 12.  Since then, it's been all daisies and roses!!!}

As my year-end round up, I'm going to share a post from each month.

January: Waiting For Dessert - The post in which I come to terms with the idea of contentment.

February: Tomorrow We Say Goodbye - In January and February we spent a lot of time with Jess and Isaac.  On February 24, Isaac met Jesus.  Jess is one of my favorite people in the whole world, and if you haven't been to her inspiring blog yet, do yourself a favor and go there. 

March: Spontaneous Parenthood - Our profile was shown for the first time in our home office in Lancaster, and the idea that we could become parents with only a few weeks notice really hit home.  Ironically, this was not our baby, even though we were only 2 steps away from the birth mom in the "Kevin Bacon Game," and we did actually end up becoming parents OVERNIGHT.  That's about as spontaneous as it gets.

April: Can't Wait To Meet You - This is the month when I actually listened to the words of the Michael Buble song that has been now overplayed on this blog, in my house, and in my head.  I should also mention this month my bestie-turned-sister-in-law announced her pregnancy.

May: The Others - May was the month I met validation in the form of new friendships. I'm happy to report Brandon & Kristen received a baby girl this month!!

June: What Am I Waiting On? - Impatience and suffering seemed to be my M.O. in June.  I struggled with finishing well, and waiting on God's timing.  It wasn't all bad though - I celebrated my 26th birthday and our 4th anniversary!

July: Tired Of - Laced with desperation, the month of July held a lot of tears, anger, and frustration.  Looking back, I can see that this was rock bottom.  This month was the storm before the rainbow.

August: Love Brought You To Us - Was this even a question?  August held two of the most joy-filled and incredible weeks of my life.  Preparing for OUR BABY!!!  Soaring high, I didn't sleep for days.  Notably, the end of August was not as pretty, but not the same kind of low that July held.  I truly learned that in every season, God is still God {an honorable mention post for August}.

September: Pittsburgh - This is the month where we rebounded.  I tried to create a clean slate in my life.  I deleted pictures, I closed the door to the nursery, I poured myself into my job.  The climax of it all was when Herb and I gave SERIOUS consideration to relocating across the state.  God solidly closed that door, but we still love that city!

October: Homecoming - October brought us a new roommate and brought me a career change.  God is so good.  Isn't neat to know this was the plan all along?

November: Thirty One - Here is our adoption slideshow/video.  This post also celebrates the end of the thirty day window before legal proceedings begin in our adoption case.

December: Twelve Twelve Ten - Meeting my niece.  Hands down.

In summary, I have learned that if you ask God for "a really good story that is obviously orchestrated by HIM," you better be ready for a wild ride!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas is...

I have many cards sitting on my desk that didn't ever make it to the mailbox.  Next year will be better, promise!  I thought the saying on our card was perfect this year for obvious reasons.  Thanks to my brother for the amazing pictures. 

And thanks to Jesus for giving us two babies to celebrate this Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And Now About That Door

Sorry, no cute baby pictures in this post.

Two Sundays ago I left you hanging when I mentioned that Jocelyn was in labor and Herb and I were going to see if there was a door opening in another area of our lives.

I'm happy to report the door is open, and we are walking through it.

Come on, get to it already, right?

Herb has been offered, and plans to accept, the position of Minister of Music at a church in Lancaster County, which happens to be in the very same town in which his full time job is located, which happens to be only 30 minutes from Levi's Gramma and Daudy, Pop-pop and Grandma, Aunt Jocelyn, Uncle Josh, and brand new cousin (as opposed to 1 hour and 30 minutes where we are now).

It's a part time job, with time requirements that are equal to (or maybe even less than) the volunteer time he is putting in at our current church in York, so it will have no imact on his day job.  It's a wonderful small-ish church that thrives on community, teaching solid truth, and love.

Of course this will be a bittersweet change of pace.  The sweet part is that Herb has desired and prayed to be a music pastor/worship leader for about 6 years, and this is just one more desire fulfilled in God's timing.  The location is incredible, considering we were talking about moving to Manheim to be closer to Herb's other job just DAYS before this job was listed. 

The bitter part is leaving the life we have established in York, especially the friendships we have at our current church - the church who "prayed us into parenthood," the church where we got married, the church where Herb grew up.  But, we were there for a season, we had a purpose there for the last few years, but now it's time to move on.

Again, let's recap:
- Become parents to the cutest boy ever
- Decide if I want to be a SAHM, there's no reason for Herb to be commuting an hour to work & since Herb's mom got married and moved to Pittsburgh, I really wanted to be closer to Levi's other grandparents
- Find out from our realtor that the market would probably be very kind to our house, we made plans to list in January
- See a job listing for a part time church position in the same town where Herb already works
- After interviewing at several churches over the last five years, this "happens" to be the right one?!

And in case you're wondering - this opportunity for Herb equals a little career change for me, too!  I have extended my maternity leave through the end of the school year, rather than to January 18.  There are some logistical things that we're still working on, but God knows our desires - I'm pretty sure he put them there...

Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Twas the week beFOUR Christmas...

and our little Levi turned FOUR months old.  Turns out, he's not so little.  Weighing in at a whooping 17 pounds, he's heavier than 90% of all other babies his age.  At least his proportionate though - he's also "taller" than 95% of the other kiddos born in August 2010.

During his third month smiles became more frequent, and there's definitely a belly laugh hiding in there somewhere.  For now it's a big smile mixed with a wheeze when he gets tickled - but if you've ever heard me laugh really hard, I'm definitely a wheezer too.  He has almost rolled from his back to his belly, but he has rolled from belly to back once.

He's a solid size 6 in Carter's brand clothing, and is inching his way into 6-9 month sizes in other brands.  There are some 3-6 outfits that are still holding on for dear life, or should I say dear snap!

Levi is definitely recognizing Herb and I, and if he's fussy with someone else, I'm happy to say, he will usually quiet down as soon as he's in his momma's arms.  There has been a huge influx of drool and chewing on fingers in the last 2 weeks.

Levi welcomed his third cousin into the world on 12/12/10, 2 months to the day that he came home to us.  Amongst all these girl cousins, I think he likes the attention of being the only bruiser boy.

Christmas is just around the corner, and we are excited to celebrate Jesus' birth with our awesome little family of three.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Twelve Twelve Ten

As promised, here is the completion of my last post.

Please welcome to the world: Joelle Grace, born December 12, 2010.  Her mommy and I became moms exactly 2 months apart.  I told you 12 was an awesome number. She is just plain beautiful! Now Levi has two cousins on daddy's side (Ellie and Cora) and one on mommy's side (Joelle). 

Levi wasn't sure what to think about his new cousin,

but I think he's going to love having another little person around.

Except for the fact that it means now we'll be dressing them up in matching outfits.  Sucks for them!

And poor Levi, I may or may not have modeled some super cute girly outfits on him to see how big they were.

Okay, so the before picture...

And AFTER! Amazing the difference that four months makes...

I can't even tell you all the joy that this picture represents.  There are so many dreams that Jocelyn and I have shared, and so many wishes that have already been fulfilled (high school drama, district band, drum majors, getting accepted and succeeding in music ed, actually becoming music teachers, finding God-fearing yet hilarious husbands, becoming real sisters), but this is just the best one.  I can't think of anything either of us wanted more, prayed for each other more, shed more tears of joy and sorrow over than the journey to motherhood. 

I know God wrote my love story with Herb, but I can also see him all over my "sister" story with Jocelyn. 

I can't wait to share these tales with Joelle, and I pray that she finds a friend some day like her mom has been to me.

Welcome to the world, little Joelle {Jocelyn + Michelle = Joelle?}, we're so happy to have you here!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

She Wants To Break Free

There is a very good chance that by later today, this picture can come full circle.  At this very moment, my best-friend-turned-sister-in-law is at the hospital doing something very exciting!!  The joy in my heart right now is on the verge of combustion.

In other news, Herb and I are peeking through a doorway today to see if the door is actually open and we should walk through it, or if the door will be shut.

More on both, and pictures, later tonight!  Sending all my prayers on behalf of Jocelyn and Baby Foos for a quick, safe, and beautiful entry into the world.  In the meantime, I dedicate this song to my soon-to-be-niece...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Spit Up On My Sweater

Dear Levi -

The days are going too fast.  Every time I lay you in your crib, I'm a little sad that it means one more day has passed.  I just want to freeze time right now.  I know when you start to crawl, and talk, and run, I will be so excited for those milestones, but for now, everything is just plain perfect. 

Today I took you to the mall for the first time.  You were starving in your stroller, so after I finally got you to settle down and managed to mix your formula with one hand, you only ended up drinking 2 ounces instead of 7 or 8.  You were SO enthralled by all the energy and people to see at the food court.  You were so excited by all the lights and sounds, you didn't even care about your bottle (which seems to be your only vice these days).

You're getting a little too big to be held chest to chest in the baby carriers.  You want to see the world!  Facing forward, legs and arms totally free, you know you are secure against me, your back to my chest, and you kick and flail your arms as if you're running a marathon.  I am so delighted by your energy, I just can't stop hugging you when you're kicking like that.  It's the cutest thing ever.

Last year at this time your dad and I were just waiting...waiting to start officially waiting.  It was one of the most miserable periods of my life.  How things have changed in a year.  I cried a lot last Christmas, but I cry more now.  Of course, these are a different kind of tears. I see you smile and me and make your "shy" face, and I just can't believe you're ours.  The other day I cried 5 times - just looking at you.  Tears of joy, son.

Today's date is the one that tops our homestudy approval, one year later. I'm so happy on this approviversary I hear soft breathing from your crib and smell your spit up on my sweater.

I love you Levi. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

You're the Peace That I've Prayed For Aren't You, Green Eyes?

In case you don't know the song title from the title of this blog post, it's the song that made Herb realize he was actually in love with me when we broke up in college once.

Anyway, it's also my segway to tell you - we have spotted an eye color change!!  Levi had really dark blue-ish gray eyes, but tonight we noticed they were more of a greenish brown.  Did this just happen over night?  Of course, the first thing I said is, "I have to scrapbook this!"  And since I'm not even close to starting Levi's baby book, the blog is the best way to document this turn of eye-vents. 



You might not be able to notice it well in  these pictures, but in the right lighting, they have really really changed!  I promise!

My baby is growing up...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Celebrations Galore!

It's been a crazy ride here in the Suereth household.  We have had three busy weekends, and now that I'm back to teaching 2 evenings of piano lessons, some hectic evenings, too.  Let's backtrack...

Herb & the marching band he works for celebrated the end of a successful season, and Levi and I watched at Hershey Park.

The following Monday, one of my elementary schools threw me a baby shower.  I loved getting to take Levi to school and show him to a few students.  It was weird that I didn't have a "last day" of school, just *poof* and I'm gone!  Connecting with my co-workers, and getting Levi further spoiled was fun!  And the other school I work out threw us a shower a few weeks ago, too.  How wonderful to work with people who are so supportive.

Last week, as I mentioned, we traveled to Pittsburgh for Herb's mom's wedding.  Levi slept the entire trip to and from Pittsburgh, not even waking up to eat.  Sleeping in the pack-n-play was also a success.  He's a great traveler.  When I looked at the pictures of the wedding, I was really struck at how much Herb, Levi and I look like a family!  I know that sounds weird, but it was just one of those reality check moments.

Of course, Thursday was Thanksgiving, and you already know what we were so thankful for!  Levi got to meet lots of 2nd cousins, a few great aunts and uncles, and then spent some quality time with grandma Phyllis while we prepared for some ridiculous black Friday shopping.  We're talking 12am-7am, here folks.  Unfortunately, just as we were getting home, Levi was waking up, which led to some great regret on our choice to stay up all night.

Friday, we took Levi, decked out in a bear suit, to pick out his first Christmas tree.  No pictures of that because we forgot our camera, but here's the bear suit.  We sprung for a real tree - and by real, I mean real big.  We had to go all out - it's Levi's first time!

Today, my wonderful sister-in-law and soon to be mommy, Jocelyn, planned and put together a beautiful shower for us, hosted by the newlywed, Denise.  The theme was "Thankful for Levi," and the food was delicious.  We were "showered" with love for sure!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Lap Of Love

I can't believe I forgot to share this link!

After Nik.Cole took some amazing pictures of Levi the first weekend he was home, she posted them on her blog, and wrote some beautiful words about our adoption story.  I'm not going to repost the entire thing here, because I want you to go to her blog for yourself and check out her eye-catching pictures and her thoughtful words.

"And watching the way that both Herb & Michelle handled Levi, the ease of their touch & the natural way he just fell into their embrace made me feel like I was witnessing the creation of family right before my eyes.

Thanks for your time, talent, encouragement, and kindness, Nikki!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Uno, Dos, Tres...

It's kinda my birthday!
Levi is 3 months old today!

A look back...

October 12, 2010 - 1 3/4 Months Old
October 27, 2010 - 2 1/4 months old
And here he is today!
November 18, 2010 - 3 months old
The zebra is a gift from one of Herb's co-workers (actually his manager!) who makes stuffed animals in her spare time.  I cringe to call them stuffed animals because they are so much more special than that!  Her specialty is My Little Ponies, but she made a zebra especially for Levi since we have his nursery decked out in black and white with zebra print, too!  You can find her custom plushies on etsy or right here.  Anyway, the idea is to take Levi's picture with this same zebra on the 17th of every month and see how he is growing!

As you can see, Levi is doing well at supporting his head, and can sit up (if propped) for a while without slumping over.  He is smiling a lot, has the tiniest giggles, is intrigued by his hands, and coos on command (just say, "aaa-gooo" and you can get him started).  He is sleeping about 10 hours at night (with no diapers or bottles!), and takes several naps during the day.  He is wearing a size 6 month clothing, but I don't think he'll be in that for the entire winter.  He's growing like a weed!

Lovin' the Boppy.
I noticed he has less hair now than he did 6 weeks ago, and it lays flatter than it did.  He responds well to my voice and follows Herb and I with his eyes.

Dozing off...
New this week has been a lot of drooling, and the introduction to the Bumbo chair (which I scored on Craigslist).  He wasn't so sure about the Bumbo at first, but it's growing on him, and it even let us eat a "family dinner" tonight!

This weekend we will celebrate Herb's mom's wedding, and Levi will be rocking it in his first neck tie.  You better believe pictures will follow!  We're excited for Levi to meet his cousins, Ellie and Cora, and his other uncle Josh (he has 2 of those, you know).

There are probably 200 photos I would love to upload, but for now I'll leave you with a few more from his 3 month birthday today...

Praying with Mr. Z

Giving Mr. Z some love.

**I started writing this before midnight on 11/18/10, but didn't finish until 11/19/10, so technically today he is 3 months and 1 day.  Oops!**