My Layla Girl

My sweet, spunky Layla-girl is going to be 10 months old in 4 days!  Why oh why do these things go so quickly?  When Elias was a baby, we took weekly photos.  And for child numero two, I’ve managed to take them once a month.  If we ever have a third…poor baby. 😉  These photo shoots never picture perfect, and who cares right?  We’re not going for perfection, we’re going for memories!

Milestone photos

I feel ya baby girl.  I don’t always like having my picture taken either.

Milestone photo

But daddy calms her down.

Milestone photo

Maybe just crawl to him for a minute so he can snuggle you.

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And then we’re good to go!  Love this sweet little bundle of joy!

Thankful

November is the month when we reflect and give thanks.  And this month I have been ever so thankful for our family!  We have gotten to see all of our siblings in the same month.  This hardly ever happens!  My baby brother (who is 34…) had a baby in early November.  Our new niece, Evaleigh, was born in Tucson!  So we were able to drive down and visit her in the hospital!

Isn’t it amazing how quickly you forget how tiny newborns are?  I mean, we had our own newborn just 9 1/2 months ago and I’ve already forgotten how little she was!

Evaleigh

We also had Thanksgiving with Nathan’s side of the family.  So. Many. Kids.  All of these cousins together reminds me of my childhood, running around with my gaggle of cousins.

Turkey.  Stuffing.  Cousins.  What more do you need really?

Fagerlie cousins

Fagerlie cousins

Since Billy (my brother) was still in Tucson with his little family and my parents and older brother flew out to meet Evaleigh, we had a second Thanksgiving with them.  More turkey.  More stuffing.  More cousins (well, only one cousin in this case).

I love how much Elias loves Evaleigh.  He was rubbing his face on her head during all of these photos.  I had trouble getting him to actually look at the camera.  I’m not sure Evaleigh loved it as much as he did :)

Tjernlund cousins

School Days

In the midst of all of our travel, work, and other activities, I have been attempting to do preschool with Elias.  Somedays it’s super fun, somedays it’s super frustrating and somedays it doesn’t happen at all!  This year, I bought curriculum called “A Year of Playing Skillfully.”  It is based on the idea that preschool-aged kids learn through play.  So far, it’s been pretty fun and much better than my night-before Pinterest scramble that I was doing in Indonesia!

FAITH School

FAITH School

FAITH School

FAITH School

 

Elias has started to develop a love for books, which is basically this mama’s dream because it gives me an excuse to buy ALL the children’s books.  My kid book wishlist is longer than my own book wishlist.  It’s an illness.  Of course, he mostly wants to read about Legos and ninjas, but it’s a start, right?  Lego books are a gateway to E.B. White and N.D. Wilson, I’m just sure of it!  In the meantime, we’re learning all about Hero Factory, Ninjago (Legos and Ninjas!), Lego City and Lego Batman.  Hashtag: boymom.  Hastag: yesiknowthatsnothowhastagswork.

 

Of Crohn’s disease, Adoption and Gratitude

I’m just going to jump back in here…

Jump!

Hi. So, furlough has been…well, not what we planned.  It came suddenly (for very good reason.  Yay Layla!) And it’s been a ton of travel and a lot of doctor visits.  We have been to Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and California.  That doesn’t include all of the states Nathan drove through on his way from AZ to MI and back again.

Two weeks after we arrived, we found ourselves in the hospital with two-week old Layla sick with RSV.  Thankfully she was the “healthiest RSV baby in the hospital” and was released a few days later.  Still…not fun to rush your newborn to the hospital with a 104 fever at 12:00 a.m.

Two months after we arrived, Nathan starting having a Crohn’s flare-up.  And now, 7 months later, he is still in the midst of it.  He is on a new fancy medicine with promises of being “disease altering.”  It will take 12-14 weeks to know if it is effective or not.  He’s on week 8.  If it is effective, he will potentially be on this medicine for the rest of his life.  But words like “disease altering” give us hope that it could be amazing! Most likely, he will need to have surgery come December to remove the parts of his intestines that are too damaged, but the doctors want to give the meds the full 14 weeks before they decide if surgery is necessary.

In happier news, we completed Layla’s adoption on September 29.  We were in the courtroom a whopping 8 minutes, and just like that, one little bang of a gavel, we officially have a daughter!  Layla is this amazing little ball of happy.  Seriously, I think God totally knew we needed this baby at this period in our lives.  She is such an easy baby!  And, oh is she a joy-bringer!

Gotcha!

Furlough has ended up being longer than we expected. And more doctor visits than we expected. And more travel than we expected (20,000+ miles on the car). But we are grateful to be in America where there is great healthcare and Taco Bell. We are grateful that we will get to meet our new niece when she’s born (any day now!) We are grateful that we will be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family. We are grateful for our awesome churches and supporters who have been so understanding of our extended time away from Indonesia. We are grateful for each of you that have asked us how we’re really doing.

Now, go eat some Taco Bell and pray for Nathan’s gut while you’re at it!

The Big 4

Well, we’re still alive!  Life is a little busier for me these days and I have a hard time finding time to sit down at the computer.  I have two little monkeys keeping me on my toes!

Elias turned 4 in March and Layla just turned 4 months old yesterday!  How does time simultaneously go so slow and so fast?

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This boy.  He is smart, sweet, and thoughtful.  He has handled all of this transition better than I ever could have imagined!

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This girl, with her easy smile, crazy hair and bubbly laugh, is such a joy to our family!

We will be heading to Idaho next week for our second meeting with our case worker in which we hoped to be cleared to finalize Layla’s adoption. And then its on to the Midwest for a few months to hang out with my family and our churches in Illinois. Yay!

Furlough So Far

Well, it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me!  I’ve been head deep in a new baby, a four-year-old with culture shock and lots of sickness.  This has been our life lately:  Layla gets sick.  Layla gets better.  Elias gets sick.  Elias gets better.  Nathan gets sick.  Nathan gets better.  I get sick.  I get better.  AND REPEAT!  I don’t know if it’s these good ol’ American germs that our bodies haven’t been around for the last few years or what, but man, we have been sick a lot!

I don’t want to be a total Debbie Downer though so here are some awesome things about furlough:

Soft toilet paper. Maybe I shouldn’t put this as the first thing I list.  But it is the first thing that came to mind because soft toilet paper is amazing and makes life better.  AmIright?

Drinking fountains. With drinkable water to boot!  We taught Elias how to use these and now he is all about it.

Date nights with places we actually want to go! Does this really need explanation?  I like Nathan…and yummy restaurants.  Mexican is my jam, ya’ll.

Anonymity. We basically can’t go anywhere in Nabire without someone asking to take our picture or pinching Elias’ cheeks.  So blending into the crowd for awhile is quite nice.  Elias still doesn’t quite understand why we don’t know every single white person that we see, but he has stopped asking “who’s that?” at every turn.

English. While I love that we learned Indonesian and can make conversation with our Indonesian co-workers, English is easy and doesn’t take as much brain power.  I don’t have to translate everything in my head before responding.  Maybe I’ll get to that point someday with Indonesian, but I haven’t gotten there yet.  Plus, church in English=my heart language.

Family. This actually should be #1 on the list.  I love hanging out with our family.  I love that Elias loves his cousins, grandparents and aunts and uncles.  Family is cool.  Family that is close-by is even cooler.

Grocery Stores. You know what’s amazing??  Going to the grocery store and buying exactly what you came in for!  And about 50 things that you didn’t come in for because, well, Cheeze-its exist.  And so do tortilla chips.  And jelly beans.  And Pop Tarts (Elias has newly discovered Pop Tarts).  I know that people are jumping on the ClickList bandwagon and I get it…sorta.  But man, do I love walking through a clean, organized, fully stocked grocery store!

Traffic Laws.  Ok, admittedly this may seem like a strange addition to the list.  But when I drive in Nabire, I come home with tension in my shoulders.  When I drive here, there are rules…that people follow!  It’s like a day at the spa.  Well, as much as driving can be a day at the spa.  You know what I mean.

Obviously, there are about 1,000 more things I could add to this list.  But I’m going to stop here for now because Layla needs some attention from Mommy :)  Peace out ya’ll.

easter family

Layla

Two weeks ago, we were in Wamena for an airplane inspection, happily enjoying the cool air.  And today, we are in Nampa, ID, happily staring at our new daughter (and freezing in the frigid air)! To say that the last two weeks have been a whirlwind, would be an understatement.

On Saturday evening, Feb. 11, in Wamena, we received an email from our adoption agency saying there was a new birth parent snyopsis to view.  This has happened 14 times since we completed our home study, so we have learned not to get our hopes too high.  But we read the synopsis and asked the agency to show our profile to the birth mom.  In this case, the baby had already been born and so they expected a quick placement.

The following morning, we woke up to an email saying that we were one of three families that the birth mom was considering!  They wanted to know how fast we could possibly get to Idaho.  After some quick internet searches, we figure out that Elias and I could be in Idaho by Tuesday.  Then the agency asked us to call; we assumed the wanted to discuss travel plans…but they actually wanted to tell us that the birth mom had chosen us!  Tears.  Joy.  Scramble!  We quickly called our families and then some people at MAF’s headquarters.  They helped us book last minute plane tickets, and by the next day, Elias and I were departing Wamena for the States.  Nathan stayed in Indonesia a few days longer so that he could wrap things up on his airplane, and get back to Nabire to pack up our house for furlough.

Travel with a 3-year-old is no joke, but Elias did amazing.  I am so proud of him.  Upon landing in Idaho on Tuesday afternoon (nearly 48 hours after we left Wamena), my in-laws, who had driven up from Arizona, picked us up at the airport.  We quickly got showered and a change of clothes.  By 5:30 pm we were at the adoption agency with baby in hand.  Nathan joined a few days later and we were finally all together as a family of FOUR!

And the rest, as they say, is history…foggy,  jet-lagged-while-similtaneously-caring-for-a-newborn history.  And we couldn’t be happier.
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Christmas at Home

Merry Christmas from Papua!

We had a quiet little Christmas at home this year.  With two of us recovering from the flu, we tried our best to keep things low-key.

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Mom and Son

We have now spent 6 of our 10 Christmas as a married couple sweating it out overseas.  And while we definitely miss time with family, I have enjoyed creating our own family traditions!  Elias has only had one Christmas in the U.S. (and he was 9 months old at the time), and so Christmas in the tropics is all he knows!

Family together

We always get new jammies on Christmas Eve.  By this point in the evening, Elias was DONE and ready for bed, thus the strained smile.

Christmas Morning

He was much more smiley the next morning :) (to our Indonesia friends:  I totally use Bungkus paper as wrapping paper!  It’s the cheapest thing around!)

Nativity

Opening

Hugs for George

So. Many. Legos.

More. Legos.

Stocking

We spent all day opening presents and it was glorious.  After each gift he opened, we would just spend time playing…so we didn’t get to the last one until after dinner!  We are so thankful for our family, who send gifts months ahead of time to be sure we have them on Christmas morning.

How do you open gifts? Do you go through them all at once?  Or spread them throughout the day?

Natalan (Our MAF Christmas Party!)

It’s that most wonderful time of year again!  With humidity and tropical rain showers, right?  Well, at least that’s what it is over here.  But it wouldn’t be Christmas in Indonesia for us without our MAF staff Christmas party.  This year, we decided to do things a little differently and blend our Western and Eastern cultures a bit more.  And, I think, we struck just the right balance.
MAF Nabire Team

Our annual staff photo.  This year on the runway instead of in front of an airplane.

Note from Timika

MAF Timika sent us a little note on a dirty airplane.  Thanks guys!  And Selamat Natal to you too :)

Pondok Natal

Natal Tables

Instead of our normal party in the hangar, this year we did a party in the yard (it’s warm here, remember?) with magical Christmas lights and gorgeous mango trees.

Shepherds

Manger Scene

After the photo, we split into 4 groups: one group per home and each group was assigned the task of coming up with a drama, acting out part of the Christmas story.  I don’t have pictures in the homes, but I loved the drama that ensued afterwards.

Night lights

J's devotional

As the sun set, we ate a meal together that all the wives worked so hard to make.  Traditionally, Indonesians wouldn’t eat at tables at a party like this, but I think they all enjoyed it.  To finished up, we sang Silent Night and Jeremiah shared a short devotional.

All and all, it was a super enjoyable evening for everyone involved.  Selamat Natal!

A Good Story

jump!

I love stories.  It doesn’t even have to be a good story, I still want to know how it ends.  This is why I have trouble not finishing a bad book, or a terrible movie.  I even want to see the end of Elias’ episodes of Octonauts or Wild Kratts.  It kills me when a show is cancelled before the story resolves.

The story I’m currently living, the story of our second adoption, isn’t over.  I’m anxiously awaiting to hear the resolve.  Who will our child be?  When will he or she be born?  Only God knows, and He is the best storywriter of them all!

In the mean time, we are doing what we can to prepare.  So we have set up a site where you can donate if you are interested in helping us with the costs of adoption.  It is a non-profit organization and so your donation is tax-deductible!  You can find it here.

Thanks!

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