Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Today was one of those days...You know. No matter how hard or fast I tried to clean, Jadon ensured that the house looked worse than before. The little rascal. So, I'm giving up cleaning for now. Maybe I should give it up for Lent. Too bad that's still a long way away. But Jadon just went down for his nap (*Finally!*) (I hate it when he falls asleep in the stroller when I run in the morning!)...and instead of being productive--which I should be doing--I've decided I'm going to blog. Go me. :o)
So, here are a few random reflections from the past two months.
To start, here are some pictures from this morning:

BTW, that's red velvet cake mix, not blood :o)

That last picture brings me to my next subject, CLIMBING.
Yes, that is Jadon's new favorite hobby. Every time I turn around, he's discovered a new household object to climb. It has become impossible to fully child-proof our house anymore. He has won. Some proof (I try to keep the camera handy so I can snap the funny shot BEFORE I tell him "No!")

Next, WORK.

One of the reasons I'm so behind here is I chose to become a full-time working mom for the month of September. Long story short, my school district changed the requirements for layed-off tenured teachers to get their full pay for subbing, and now we have to work 21 days in 60 to trigger that full pay. The way I sub (on Mondays only), that would never happen, and subbing is definitely not worth it for me unless I get my full pay. So, when I found out in August, I resigned myself to not subbing this year, which was not a huge disappointment, but the little bit of extra money was useful. BUT, then I got a call asking me to be part of a district team that did CELDT testing for the district for the whole month of September. (All second language learners must be tested every school year to test for progress, which is too big of a job for each school site to do on their own in our very "diverse" district.) Jim and I talked and prayed about it and figured this would be my way to get my 21 days in, which would then set me up for normal subbing the rest of the year. The only problem was finding child care for Jadon. Jim was able to work his schedule around to cover Mondays and Fridays, and then my parents graciously covered one week, and my sister and her hubby covered two more weeks, and the remaining few days we covered with a generous friend and a college student in our group who desperately needed the money. Whew. Unfortunately, due to a few pre-scheduled conflicting plans and that crazy blackout that hit all of southern California, I only hit 16 days in September, which means I had to work two days a week here in October. Bottom line, it was a good experience, and I am grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to make some extra income, BUTTTTTTTTT...I am not cut out to be a working mom!!!!! Man, I am still exhausted, the house is still in disarray, our eating habits have been atrocious and my exercising even worse. Second bottom line, I am SO GLAD I am done. I think I will take a few weeks off of subbing completely just to regroup. ;o) (BTW, to all my friends who ARE working moms out there, I don't know how you do it. Much props to you!)


OK, this is my new favorite time waster. I've actually been pretty good, but I could spend hours...But really, it's quite productive. I used to copy and paste pictures of cool ideas into Word documents and save them in folders on my computer. Now, I just Pin It. Lovely. If you've never Pinned anything, imagine having a set of virtual bulletin boards that you can organize, save, and add things to with just the click of a button--and view a ton of other people's cool ideas, too. Brilliant.


Whew, creativity is exhausting. On top of keeping Jadon from breaking his neck, working full time, and trying not to waste time on Pinterest, Jim and I have been doing a ton of writing. First, we've been working and reworking and re-re-working the dadgum script that we've been working on for like three years. I'm ready to shoot the main character. For some reason, we just can't get it right. But we keep trying. Probably the only reason why (OK, besides Jim seeing 25,000 starving kids in our back yard every day and wanting to do something to save them) is that Sony has said they really want to work with us on this project, but they just don't like the project as it is currently (or as it has been for the last half a million drafts!). If you ever think of it, please keep it/us in prayer. We really feel like God wants us to do this, but we are so ready to be done with the writing phase!

Meanwhile, we are ALSO working on the third and final novel of the To Save A Life series. The second book (Jake's Choice) didn't do so well sales-wise, but we really want to finish the story, and we get tons of emails from fans who are begging us to finish it, too, soooooo we've decided to self-publish it. Jim, somehow, is extremely capable of bouncing from story to story to story (including real life and ministry), but I have a much harder time. So sometimes I feel a little schizo. During most of Jadon's nap times, I'm writing about Jake and Amy, and then most of our nights and weekends at home we're writing about Amber, and then the rest of the time I'm living with all the other (real) teenagers in our life. Sometimes it's hard to keep it all straight.

But in light of all our craziness this fall, we do have one more thing that we are VERY EXCITED about...

In 4 short days, Jim and I will be dropping Jadon off with my parents and heading over to LA to embark on a 5 day cruise to Cabo. Yippee! We got a smoking deal on this week and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the trip we had originally intended to take 2 summers ago (but then we got Jadon). Funny side note, the trip originally caught our attention as only $250 per person, which is an amazing deal. But when we went to book it, we discovered that price was for a room with two bunk beds. Ha! We quickly decided that wasn't the sleeping arrangement we preferred for our first trip away alone, so we paid a little extra to get the King bed.

On the trip, we look forward to reconnecting just the two of us, relaxing and sleeping (all the way through the night!), eating ridiculously, exercising every day, soaking in some rays, and writing a bunch (we actually do enjoy writing, it's just not as fun when you're cramming it in little bits in pieces wherever you can find the time)...

I guess I should probably get back to being productive now...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sunset Park

So, now that I'm caught up for the summer, I'm hopefully going to stay that way. (at least for awhile?)

Today, I experienced the wonder I've been hearing all about all summer: Sunset Park in San Marcos. This place is amazing! By far, the nicest city park I've ever seen (not including Central Park in New York, of course!). It's huge, and has big fields, several playgrounds, nice bathrooms, of awesome splash pad and covered play structure for little kiddos. So, instead of getting ready for school today like most of our teacher pals, unemployed teacher friends Sarah and Lauren and I headed to the park with our little ones. We all had a blast!

Andrew, Jadon, and Danica in different stages of getting wet...
Can you just see the glee on this kid's face, even if I was forcing him to wear his loathed hat?!

Danica and Jadon go down the double slides together...

Oh, and in case you couldn't tell from the photos, Jadon can definitely be officially considered a walker now. (In just the last few days, he went from still crawling half the time to now pretty much only crawling when we're playing chase upstairs)Yay! There are whole new worlds of fun opening up daily!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Adoption Day!

Perhaps the most exciting part of this summer was Jadon's final Adoption Day. Yay! July 20 was his final court date when he officially became a Britts! Everybody keeps asking how we feel, etc., and I must admit, I actually don't feel any different. The court date was actually pretty anticlimatic, a mere formality to what has already been truth in our hearts this whole year. Nevertheless, it is nice that I won't have to explain why his name is still "Baby Boy" any more!

When we first walked into the building, the officer at the metal detector said, "Ah, you guys are here for Happy Court!" When we looked at him confused, he explained, "I can always tell who's here for adoptions, because they're the only people who look happy to be here." Ha! That makes sense.

Our family waiting to be calledfrom the courtroom into the judge's quarters. Jadon is obviously thrilled to be here :) I think it's the tie. It was too hot to wear the original sweater vest outfit I'd bought months ago, so I figured his snazzy Easter tie with a button up shirt would be classy enough. He did look pretty cute... Our fan club/support network! (L-R) Jadon's Aunt Abbey (who made the call to give us our precious son!) and Jadon's brother Cameron (of course, the only non-blurry shot I got, he's squinting!), Grandma and Grandpa Sanders, Jadon, Grandpa and Grandma Britts, Jim. We love you guys!

Yay! It's official! We all signed the final paper work, the judge aske if we were sure about this before signing his part, and that was it. The judge was really great. Genial, light-hearted, engaging. I gotta admit, if I were a judge, Wednesday morning adoption finalizations would probably be my favorite day of the week!

On the way out, each child got to pick their own stuffy. Jadon came awfully close to picking up the pink one, but to our relief, swooped in on the blue bear at the last second. We have named him "Baby Bear" in honor of Jadon's former name "Baby Boy" that he lost that day. :)

Our amazing social worker, Jennifer Ramos. She was such a pleasure to work with, and we feel so blessed! (Hopefully we'll get to work with her again sometime...)

Sometimes I wonder what our life would be like if Abbey hadn't somehow remembered Jim from that CPR class we took and if she hadn't made the call...and a lot of other "if's". Thank you Jesus for having all our "if's" under your control!

We went to Mimi's for a celebration brunch afterwards, but Jadon was wiped from all the excitement!

Later that night, however, we celebrated some more with some cake. Jadon was definitely into that!

Adoption Timeline:

So people often ask how long this whole process took us. It depends if you're asking from when we started pursuing adoption, or from when we got Jadon. Either way, we were pretty fortunate to get a relatively quick (for foster adoption) assignment and finalization.

October 2009--Foster Orientation with Rancho Jireh Foster Homes. We decided that we actually wanted to go straight to Foster-Adoptions through San Diego County.
November thru December 2009--27 hours of PRIDE parenting classes through San Diego County Foster Licensing; 6 hours of foster orientation and adoption orientation; CPR/First Aid Certification; extensive physical exams at the doctor's office
January 2010--Baby proof the house and set up a crib in baby's room; Foster Home Licensing Visit (which included many hours of "fixing" non-baby safe things in our house, like putting locks on medicine cabinet, cleaning supplies cabinets, gardening cabinet, hot tub, etc.....)
February 2010--Adoption Intake Interview; each write a 6+ page autobiography; write a 4 page birth-parent profile; attend 3 hour class on trans-racial adoptions
March 2010--Attend 3 hour class on Adopting After Infertility; Attend 3 hour class on Adult Adoptee Panel
April 2010--2 individual interviews; final home visit interview
June 2010--Jadon is born. We get the call from Abbey. Meet Jadon when he's 17 days old.

July 2010--After almost 3 weeks, the paper work is finally cleared for us to become Jadon's official foster parents.

August (?) 2010--1st hearing. Jadon becomes an official ward of the state. No services are offered to birth mom.

December 2010--1st .26 hearing (to terminate birthparents' rights). Case is continued until the end of January

January 2011--Continued .26 hearing. Birthparents' rights are terminated. Now begins a 60 wait/appeal period.

April 2011--Appeal period passes. We sign final adoption papers. There are a few more hoops to jump through, like a physical exam for Jadon, a developmental exam, a final interview, etc...

July 20, 2011--Woo hoo! Everything is DONE!!! We have our final court date and Jadon becomes Jadon Daniel Britts officially.

So in all, it took us less than 2 years from the time we first started looking into it until we had a finalized adoption. It took only 3 months from the time we finished everything to the time we were placed with a child. And it took just over 13 months from the time we were placed with a child until the time the adoption was finalized. All these are pretty fast for a foster-adoption (as opposed to private adoption), and we are confident that it is only because God was directing every step of the way. Thank you God!

Now we are just waiting for Jadon's amended birth certificate to arrive (should take 3-12 months), and then we get to apply for his social security number, and then he'll be like a "normal" kid. :o) Yay!

The other question people always ask is, Are you going to do it again? And our answer, God willing, Yes! This was such a positive experience for us, and if God could match us with such a perfect kid as Jadon, then we're excited for his timing and choice the second time around. However, we wouldn't mind waiting for awhile! (One kid is exhausting enough for now!) At first, I thought we could get a call at any time, which filled me with a little anxiety. But our social worker just called to tell us she was closing out our home study, but that when we're ready to go again, we just need to call her and we'll have an interview and update our home study, and we'll be back in the system (as long as we keep our foster license current, which we are). So that was very settling! God is in control, here, but in our estimations, we think we'll wait through next summer (when we're hopefully filming movie #2!), and then we'll put ourselves back in the game. Pretty exciting!

Sea Life Aquarium

When Jadon "ran" his stellar first race back in April (the Carlsbad Jr. Diaper Dash), part of the $30 entry fee included a free ticket to the Legoland Sea Life Aquarium plus another coupon for $10 off the $20 admission. It was about time we cashed in on our sweet deal!

As you can see, Jadon was pretty excited about the whole trip:
There were some pretty cool displays, many with super-neat Lego displays inside of them.

There was even a cool interactive area where kids could touch creatures, interact with a live puppet show, and yes, even build a sandcastle with legos.

But at the end of the day, Jadon's favorite part was definitely the stairs...which is why we'll probably wait a while until we take him back again! :o)

Friday, August 5, 2011

4th of July

OK, so for some reason, the 4th of July has always been my favorite holiday. I think it has something to do with being in the middle of summer, watermelon, corn on the cob, bbq, patriotism, family and friends, lemonade, berries, and fireworks. Technically, this wasn't Jadon's first 4th of July, but it was his first one with us, and I'm pretty sure the first time he'd see fireworks. So I wanted to make sure this was a day full of special tradition starting. Unfortunately, Oceanside cancelled its fireworks, due to budget constraints, and we already went to the fair once (and Jim didn't want to go again). Then we were invited to 2 different housewarming parties. So there weren't many opportunities for actually starting many family traditions. Oh well, we can try again next year. We still had a good time.

Actually, we did start the day with one of my family traditions: waffles with blueberries, strawberries, and whipped cream. Yum! This was Jadon's first experience with such a breakfast, and he wasn't quite sure what to do with it at first.

But he figured it out quickly enough...and in no time had devoured it!

What's a 4th of July party without some patriotic desserts? I had as much fun making as eating these berry/poundcake parfaits and cream cheese sugar cookies. Yum!

My cute little patriotic boy!

At the first party, Jadon shows off his new water skills, challenging Orin and Justin to a game of chicken. :)

Swim Lessons

Another cool thing we did in June was put Jadon in swim "lessons." It was four 1/2 hour parent-child classes at the local YMCA designed to get babies used to the water, which we figured would be valuable before our Donner Lake trip. Jadon started out tentative but enjoyed the water pretty much, as long as he could keep his head above it all. I don't blame him. I'm still the same way. I made Jim be the parent in the water with him so that I could be the picture taker (and not get cold and wet! ;)).

The second lesson, though, was a bit rougher. It was cold and cloudy out, and Jadon was pretty unhappy from the get go. He was shivering and squawking, and twelve minutes into the lesson, I "rescued" him, only so the entire pool would stop staring at us as the family with the loud kid! Poor Jim, since he was the one in the water with Jadon, immediately got the silent treatment: Jadon refused to look at him no matter how much Jim tried to get in his line of sight, and he just clutched tighter to my neck. Last time this happened was on Thanksgiving, when I tried to feed him solid food for the first time. That one lasted over an hour. So I gave Jadon to Jim and encouraged Jim to keep hugging and smiling, etc. at Jadon, and fortunately, Jadon had warmed up to him again within 15 minutes this time. (Jim kept pleading with him that it wasn't his fault. Mommy was the one who signed him up for the classes! ha!) This silent treatment stuff is funny...but a little worrisome. What's he going to be like as a teenager?!

Lesson 3, we decided to both go in the water with Jadon, and he was fine as long as his arms were wrapped tightly around my neck. Cute kid.

Lesson 4, Jim was gone at a youth conference so I was in the water alone. I was a little worried at first, but it turned out a lot like Lesson 1--tentative, but not crying.

Overall, it was a good experience. All the other kids/babies were a lot happier in the water, but I can't blame Jadon. I'm the same way. On a good note, though, Jadon is enjoying the water more and more, now. As long as he's not cold, and it only comes up to his ankles, he loves splashing and sitting in it and playing around. Most days he plays outside in his little inflatable pool, and we let him crawl around the shower with us. Today, for the first time, he didn't mind walking under the running water and letting it flow over his head. Wow! That's improvement.

The new monkey beach towellI bought for Jadon for his swim lessons: (not sure if he totally appreciated it!)

The rest of the class. Notice how much further out of the water Jadon is than the other 2 boys.

Aww, how cute. I love my boys!

Jadon enjoyed kicking the ball, but once he had to put his head back in the water, it was game over! (He doesn't even like laying on his back at home. Diaper changings usually turn into a creative body twisting endeavor that ends in tears!)

After our final lesson. Yay! We made it! :o)

County Fair

Oops, in my haste to record noteworthy events of this summer, I skipped too far forward and totally forgot about Jadon's first trip to the Del Mar Fair in June! We bought a 4-pack of tickets at Costco, excited to double date with some friends or go with my parents. But when everyone's plans kept leaving us stranded, we called some kids from our youth group who have a "less active" social life, and ended up having a blast! They loved on Jadon, and it kind of felt like having a family of 5. So here are some picture highlights:

The "family photo" :) (Sorry, Jadon!)
Jadon gets his own photo. Notice his cool kicks. Those were mine when I was a kiddo. Thanks mom for saving/finding them!

Jadon loves animals, and was pretty enthralled by the goats. For the first time, Jim had a little interest in walking through the animal area. Kids are so cool!

And of course we let Jadon experience his first Turkey Stampede and Pig Races. Too bad we got to both too late to get a good seat, so Jadon wasn't too interested...

I got to take Jadon on his first ever "ride"...the "Monkey Maze". It seemed appropriate. The first half was a mirror maze, which used to be my favorite thing when I was a kid. Jadon was his usual low key self...

He didn't even seem too fazed by the big slide at the end! (I'll admit, it was a little "scary" going down it with a kid in your arms!)

Jim used the other tickets that came with the Costco pack to go on the "big kid" rides with our students. Too bad I had to take care of Jadon. ;) (He's a great excuse!!!)

At the end of the day, we got to see our friends from church (LaFaithe) perform on a small stage. Jadon had fun dancing to the music and dumping ice on his dad. :)

Fun day! I always loved going to the county fair with my family each summer, so I hope this is a tradition we continue. (And hopefully our friends and family won't always ditch us!) ;)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Donner Lake

Another catch-up post...

Every year, Jim's family spends a week up at Donner Lake, near Lake Tahoe (and yes, near the famous Donner Pass where the Donner Party ate each other that one fateful winter). Usually, we stay in a relative's relative's cabin (figure that one out), but the snows were so heavy this past winter that the deck and entrance to that cabin collapsed (bummer), so instead of canceling the fun tradition, Jim's parents graciously found another cabin to rent. We spent a week swimming, chasing the kiddos, hiking, chasing the kiddos, reading, chasing the kiddos, playing cards, chasing the kiddos, etc...

For me, the week was a special reminder of God's amazing faithfulness. Two years ago, I was really struggling with our infertility, but the last day of the trip I read Elisha's promise to the Shunammite woman that "this time next year you will hold a son in your arms" (2 Kings 4:21). Last year, we were unable to go on this trip...because we had just brought Jadon home. (For the whole story, read here.) And this year, Jadon and Kylie playing together (kind of) was a constant visual of how God answers prayer.

So here are some pictures of some of the highlights:

Jadon loved coming up to Kylie and getting involved in whatever she was doing. Unfortunately, she wasn't such a fan of his intrusions (he isn't too aware of personal space!). It cracked me up to watch their interactions!

It was pretty funny to watch the dads play with the kiddos, too!Jadon loved the juice popsicles!

Jadon also loved playing with grandma and grandpa. They were kind enough to even babysit the kiddos one night so that Jim and I and Becky and Matt could go out to dinner.

We accidentally found this great restaurant overlooking Truckee. Fun night out! Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!The kiddos got to ride in Matt and Becky's packs on our hike at Donner Pass. They were so good!

Hiking is SO exhausting! :o)

It was so weird to be hiking in shorts and all, and then have to trek across these patches of snow. Very cool!

Jadon made a new friend on the beach. (Actually, he only wanted to play with his toys. We're still working on those social skills!)

Jadon loved the long as it didn't go much past his ankles. Actually, I think he was more into the mud... Kylie, on the other hand, LOVED the water, even when she was shivering...Maybe next year she'll be able to coax Jadon to come deeper in with her...

What a fun family time! Next year we look forward to Smart Baby #2 to spice up the mix even more! :)