Saturday, September 17, 2011

part 2. grace upon grace.

The first picture we saw of Godfrey.
(also know as the moment kate claimed him.)


The amount of paperwork required to adopt deserves its own post. And if you are going through the adoption process now, and you've just submitted your first round of paperwork, and you're thinking to yourself, "that was kind of a pain, but I really don't get what the big deal is." Heh. You will. And if you haven't developed a personal relationship with a notary yet, you may want to start working on that now.

Waiting. (also deserving of it's own post.) LOTS and lots of waiting.

While we were still waiting for approval from Good Shepherd's Fold to adopt, Gene and Loren (remember them?!) made a trip there to see how our church might be able to partner with them in the future. Obviously they were given orders to take as many pictures of the 1-3 year old boys as possible (because clearly this was all about us, right?!), and of course we stalked each and every picture wondering if "our" boy was in there somewhere.

Kate poured over the pictures and immediately announced that one particular boy was going to be her baby brother. We tried to tell her, "um, Kate, we don't get to pick. and he actually looks a little too old - so let's not get our hopes up." Have you ever tried to tell Kate anything? Forget it. She was sold. So for the next 5 months we tried to figure out how it was all going to go down once she realized that Godfrey was not, in fact, going to be her baby brother.

I think you see where this is going.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Godfrey, Godfrey, Godfrey. We don't get to pick. We don't get to pick. We don't get to pick.

We get the referral. aaaaaand, it's Godfrey. Kate's response? "I told you." I guess you did. And God's grace in showing us His hand in this adoption just slaps us in the face again. So I email our contact at Good Shepherd's Fold and share this story with them and this is what I get back:

Hi Blake and Angela, it has blessed our hearts to get your email and just see God's hand on our decision concerning your referral. I must share with you that we had actually picked initially another child for your family but the Lord very clearly moved our team from that child to Godfrey. He is so good and true to the fact that we make plans but He directs our steps.

Well Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Because we are crap. And God is so not. The story of Godfrey - Part 1.

(yes, i know this picture is kind of weird. i like it. leave me alone.)

This is as close to a scrapbook as my kids will ever get, so I realized that I really needed to write out the story of Godfrey before I forget all the details - which will happen about 5 seconds after he walks in the door. Because seriously? There is no easing in to a 4 1/2 year old boy.

So I think this all started with Kate. In Kindergarten. Who came home from school and said, "I think you should have a baby boy. A brown one." (and don't even go all p.c. on me. she was 5 and she knew her colors.) My response, "mama doesn't make them brown. aaaand we're pretty much done with babies." We blew it off, but the seed was planted and she wasn't backing down. Funny thing how the Holy Spirit can use a 5 year old girl to prepare you for something you never would have seen coming.

Fast forward about a yearish. Our church was going through the book of James. And there it was. James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

And it just sort of hit me like a truck. That pit-of-your-stomach, knock-your-breath-out realization that, crap - We totally have to do this. And not in a works-based, lose your salvation if you don't sort of way - but a you have totally been called to do this, so just try and stop it kind of way. So go. Do it.

Or, in our case, shuffle slowly towards something that might look like adoption in a few years. Talking about it in that well-meaning, "oh, we're really thinking about it" way, and just kind of pray that it fades away.

Well about 2 seconds after we mention it, along come Gene and Loren (yeah, I'm calling you out) - who met every one of our excuses with, "really?", "hmmmm", or "why?" - followed by dead silence and questioning glances. And suddenly all of our excuses were embarrassingly lame and shallow. Because WE are lame and shallow. But God is not.

(There are an abundance of ways to care for orphans, and that may not mean adoption for you. But it may. And if you have ever felt that tug to adopt - I'm sending Gene and Loren over.)

So August 1st 2010 we jumped in. With both feet. And submitted our application with Good Shepherd's Fold Orphanage in Uganda.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Beach Trip 2011

God's timing is pretty great. And kind of funny all at the same time. When we didn't get a court date before the Ugandan courts took their summer break, we were told that it would be early December at the soonest for us to get into court. So, we decided that if we couldn't be in Africa, we'd take the next best thing (ok, really not even close. but cheap and do-able.) - Myrtle Beach!

A week before we left for the beach we got the call. Court date. Uganda. August 26th. So we packed. For the beach for a week. For Africa for a month. For a 4 year old boy we hadn't met yet. And we went to the beach for the last time as a family of 4. And it was perfect.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just last week . . .

I realized just how much I take for granted when the 9 year old boys were praising God for being alive in Sunday School.

I got to serve rice to about 150ish Ugandans (and a few Americans). Bowls full of rice. Plates full of rice. And I was just stop #2 on the buffet line.

I got to watch my husband make a name for himself with his African dance. (Video to come . . .)

I got to take a 4 year old boy to the mall and the grocery store for (I think) the first time.

I waited over 2 hours for that same little boy to be seen by the doctor. Even though we were the only ones in the waiting room. And, again, realize how much I take for granted.

I prayed more desparately than I ever have for about 5 minutes, and watched God answer that prayer immediately.

I ironed more than I have ever ironed in my entire life.

I met a young man from Rwanda whose parents were killed in the genocide, and who is flying to America on Tuesday. I would love to see his face when he gets there.

I met a precious left-handed 80something year old man who reminded me of my Grandaddy Bill and had a smile that looked familiar, too. I am humbled by his graciousness, and can never thank him enough for the gift he is giving our family.

I experienced Ugandan High Court for the first time. For about 30 minutes. And was told to come back in a week.

I finally got a good nights sleep.

I chased some monkeys.

I narrowly avoided death by motor vehicle approximately 63 times.

I fell in love with a country I'd never even thought about just 13 months ago.

I had the best pizza of my life. In Uganda. Go figure.

Well Hellooooo Uganda!

OK - let's catch up! Monday morning (like, 3am morning) we headed out to PTI airport with 4 giant suitcases and 2 trunks all at max weight. By the grace of God we weren't charged for the trunks. Score.

Once we got to DC we switched to Ethiopian Airlines. Let me tell you. Ethiopian Airlines is Legit. 3 delicious meals, sweet blankets and pillows (even thought there is no chance you can ever sleep on that plane) and self serve drinks. Legit. Ethiopia Airport on the other hand - not so much. That is some sketchy business.

So Greensboro to DC to Addis to Entebbe, Uganda. With all our luggage. Nice. Driver takes us to our hotel. Around dinner time our gracious and wonderful hosts from Good Shepherd's Fold come in and take us to dinner at Goretti's Pizza which is right on Lake Victoria. I mean right on it. So, so pretty it feels like it should be in a movie. We sit just beside the water. And then the flies. Oh the flies - boy do they come out. We move up a little under the shelter and 2 hours later we are full of delicious pizza! (When they say there is no fast food in Uganda, there is no fast food in Uganda. Really. Delicious and cheap, yes. Fast, absolutely not.)

The next morning we meet the team that came in the night before from Florida. They'll be at GSF for the next week on a mission trip, so we're joining up with them and sharing the guest house. Summer Camp style. This is actually a huge blessing because we'll be able to blend in with them and hang out with the kids without having to answer questions about why we're actually here.

OK, so words and pictures just can't do this justice. We get to GSF and are met by all the kids with music and dancing and I think it just can't get any better. And then Blake and I get off the bus and there is one particular boy waiting at the bottom of the steps with a flower in his hand and the biggest smile you've ever seen. And it was just perfect. And yes, Blake cried.

The next day all the Florida team is treating all the house moms to lunch and fancy hairdos in Jinja, so Blake and I get to run the toddler room while they're gone. :) (ok, actually one of the toddler house moms stayed because it was just her second day on the job - and seriously, I think God must have sent her from heaven because this? this house mom business? is the hardest job on earth.) There are 4 older boys that we get to take on a walk, and down to the big playground and it's just pretty fantastic. A relentless, messy, exhausting and wonderful 3 hours later, we head back for lunch. Now I'm just so tired from thinking about it that I don't even remember what we did the rest of the day.

OK, the next day - Friday. The team has a field day thing planned for the morning, so we help out with crafts and stuff. But the best part is when the toddler house (our favorite) gets to the water relay. They look at the bukets of water and say, very matter-of-factly, "I bathe!" So cute. And although the game is explained, and played - within a few minutes they're head down in the water, scrubbing. So stinkin' cute. (you'll see pictures later. just trust me.)

Almost done. Friday afternoon the team heads into Jinja for a couple of days, so Blake and I get some down time which is nice. We finally get to skype with Kate and Anneliese! Yay!

We got to sleep in a little today (Saturday) and got invited to Jinja with the Gwartney's for lunch. It was our first time to Jinja, so that was exciting. Chinese in Uganda for lunch? Yes please! A little shopping after lunch? Why, of course! We didn't get much time with the toddlers today, but we're looking forward to church tomorrow and plenty of playtime in the afternoon. I hear there might even be African dance involved. And you know Blake loves to dance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Josh and Allison get maaaaaarried!

And Kate and Anneliese had the honor of being Flower Girls. (and yes, they walked down the aisle like pros. and yes, they squirmed during the ceremony.) It was a pretty fantastic weekend altogether. Gospel-centered from start to finish, great food and music, corn hole and horses. I even got the girls to take some pictures at Old Salem after the bridesmaids luncheon. Good times.


Kate had been asking for a bunny for months. MONTHS. Every time her class had media, she'd come home with the same 2 rabbit books. Every. Time. We spent HOURS on those books. She knew her stuff. So finally, with the help of Blake's dad making the (outdoor!) rabbit hutch, we got the bunny. 2 days later, we went back and got Anneliese one. So it goes, indeed.
Meet Cutey (with Kate) and Swan (with Anneliese). They're actually pretty fun. And did you know that they will sit completely still with the girls for the entire length of Bambi? It's pretty amazing and I don't predict that it will last long - but we're enjoying it for now!
From Bunnies
From Bunnies

First Love

In June I had to say goodbye to my first true love; Fletch. (also know as Fletcher, Chunky, Cheeks, Fatness and Lumpy) Anneliese was appropriately sad. We cried. We hugged. We talk about Fletch often. Kate asked for a cat on the way out of the vet's office. So it goes . . .
From fletch
From fletch

Save the cash.

So you can't get to DisneyWorld. I get it. Here are some things your kids will love every bit as much (or more!) than Disney. I promise.
1. Running through the sprinkler.
2. Balancing dangerously high.
3. Finding treasure in the streets. You may want to offer some parental supervision for this one. Depending on what kind of day you're having.
4. Chasing bubbles.
5. Eating ice cream the size of your head. (Helpful hint: They sell these at Costco for a buck fifty!!)
6. Splashing in puddles. (if said puddles are in the street, you may want to see the note on parental supervision in #3. maybe)
7. Chasing ducks. Or any other wildlife really.
8. Giant bubble baths.
9. Playing dress-up.
10. Flowers in the hair.

Disney - Part 3

Days 3 and 4 were Magic Kingdom again and Epcot for the first time. We did the MK at night for the parade and light show. Here's a tip: Get there ridiculously early and STAY BEHIND THE TAPE. I'm not kidding people. And if you think I'm letting you waltz in 5 minutes before it's about to start and get in my tape and block the view for my girls. Well, you'd be wrong. Ahhh, the happiest place on earth!

Disney - Part 2

Day 2 was at Animal Kingdom. I think. My favorite for sure.

Disney - Part 1

Yep, we went to DisneyWorld. We said long ago that we would try to take each of the girls when they were 5. With Kate, it was just Kate. Anneliese was only 2 then and well, that just seemed like a nightmare. (I love you Anneliese!) The biggest difference in the 2 trips? You might think it would be the weather since we went in November last time. But you'd be wrong. (although it was 10 degrees hotter this time around. And Anneliese does seem to perish just walking across the Costco parking lot when it's 85 outside.) The biggest difference was adding that extra kid. Both girls had a great time, but 2 girls at DisneyWorld is vastly different than 1 girl. The good times were better! (Oh, but those bad times . . . ) Seriously, though - it's DisneyWorld. We were blessed to go and had a great time. Here's proof:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Photo Shoot

I do some marketing stuff for a kid's place here in Winston. (And if you're in Winston and haven't been to Funigan's, we need to talk. For reals. It's great.) So when I needed a model for one of my ads, Anneliese graciously volunteered. For about 7 minutes. Good thing she's cute.


And caterpillars. Of course.


The girls have been blessed with an Uncle Kyle who has a pretty sweet fishin' hole. We finally got to take advantage of it and had a great time in the rain. We were catching fish like crazy. Nothing like setting your children up for a lifetime of disappointment and impatience in every other fishing venture. Thanks Uncle Kyle (and Aunt Kelly!).

70's day

Kate should have been a Flower Child.

Kate's First Grade Class does a Poetry Bash each spring. They memorize poems all year, then put on the big bash for their families. It's pretty amazing how much a little 7 year old brain can memorize. What's even more amazing it that that same 7 year old brain can NOT seem to remember the 3 morning chores that are done each and every morning. EACH and EVERY morning. 3 simple chores. Seriously.

I love you Kate!!!

From 70s day
From 70s day
From 70s day
From 70s day
From 70s day

Little Digger

Movin' dirt. That's all.
From Digger
From Digger
From Digger

Christmas in Goldsboro 2011

Yeah, I know it's June. But since we celebrated the Sutton Christmas in March, I figure I'm just about on time with this post. Don't ask why we celebrated in March. At this point I have no idea. I think it had something to do with snow and sickness. We doubled up and celebrated Grandmother Jean's birthday on Saturday, followed by the Sutton Christmas on Sunday. Spending the night at Grandmother Jean's was a first (and last. shhhh. don't judge. you haven't tried it.) - and the highlight was definitely the girls' sleeping positions on the pull-out couch. Check it:
Sunday was the Sutton Christmas Extravaganza! Woo hoo! OK, I have no pictures except these that I took in the field on the way out. Do you see the beloved Christmas gift?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Did I really say that?

Oh, John Piper. Why do I love the way you put me in my place so?

One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time." - John Piper

Below? Proof that I have no excuse.

But also? A pretty fun trip down Facebook's Memory Lane.

Plus a few more of my favorites that wouldn't fit on the fancy page. (oh, and you can click on the image to see it bigger. which kind of makes me laugh. because i'm fairly certain that you could care less.)

Blake to Kate - "you really need to go to bed so you'll have energy for camping tomorrow."

Kate - "don't worry dad. I'll take my chances."

just rushed home to whip up some spaghetti casserole. unfortunately, also just discovered that you don't really "whip up" anything related to paula deen.

kate - "i had no idea having a sister would be so much WORK!"

me either, kate!

is glad they pay her to work out, but a little annoyed that she still has to show up even when she's so over it.

this new iMac is worth every stinkin' penny. ramen noodles may become the new standard at the Shotwell house - but we've got one sweet computer.

kate picks up my cell phone today, opens it up and very matter-of-factly asks . . . "mom, what's god's phone number?" oh - don't i wish i knew the answer to that one!

kate - "anneliese hit me and I'm NEVER playing with her EVER AGAIN!!"

wait for it . . . 3 . . 2 . . 1 . . - "OK Anneliese - it's your turn to be the puppy dog"

ahhh, the smell of beer at church on sunday morning. i do love 1.21 church (despite the smell of beer)

just went throught the drive-thru 4 times and sat in line at Festival of Lights for an hour before bailing and saw not one light. Merry Christmas y'all!

is so sick of those stinkin' Christmas shoes. and it's just the first of december. just buy the kid some shoes already!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snow Days

Lots of school snow days =
chocolate chip cookies, a clean inbox, 4 redboxes, chocolate & peanut butter pretzels (with sprinkles!), 2lbs., christmas boxes finally put in attic, jumping on furniture, 3 board games, 1 wedding logo, 1 desperate scream, catch-up bible reading and loads of girl time. love.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Year's Eve

Eleven years later. (I think it's 11. Somebody comment if I'm wrong. Or just to prove that you read this thing.)

The Christmas that Blake and I got engaged, we had some friends over to my house for New Year's Eve. Little did we know that ELEVEN years later, we'd still be doin' it. With the same people. And their kids. And sometimes their dogs.

And every year it's been great.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sutton Christmas in Winston

So the snow moved in on Christmas day, and instead of risking cancellation of Sutton Christmas 2010, we scooted on over to mom and dad's a day early. (let's all take a moment here to recognize the bigness of this "flexibility." my mom is a crazy good hostess - but she does love a plan. mad props to mom for winging it. even if we did have to sit in the driveway for 5 minutes before we could come in because she had to finish something. don't worry, it was worth the wait.)

So we head downstairs for presents. And if you know Kate, you know she's not one for public displays of affection. Which I respect, because, let's face it - I'm no hugger. Well, along comes the Playmobil Vet Care Center. The moment Kate had been waiting for. For months. Best. Present. Ever.

Oh, and Anneliese's favorite? Leg rides. And candy.

Christmas at Home

My favorite part of Christmas 2010? The first ever Christmas Eve service at 1.21 church. Mom and Dad came. Kate stood holding her candle and shaking her bells and singing every word of every song. (Anneliese took her bell ringing just as seriously.) Speirs stole the communion bread. And we all worshiped Jesus with our 1.21 family, which has turned out to be every bit as important as the family we travel to see at the holidays. Fan.tastic.
As for the next morning at our house, I'm thinking this was the first of many "Christmas of the Animals." Kate and Anneliese (Kate, in particular) have inherited my love of all things animal (especially dog), and taken it to a level I didn't know existed. SO, we had a Barbie Vet Center, Pinkie the long-tailed pink cat, Joshua the chihuahua in a bag, mom and 3 baby rats (yeah, rats. blame ikea), Playmobil dog circus, miniature cats and cat stand, miniature rabbits and rabbit hutch, dog and cat hats, owl umbrella, Magic Puppy book and horse jewelry box. OH, and slap bracelets! Remember those?!
And breakfast? Monkey bread. Of course.

Christmas in Roxboro

Must. Finish. Christmas. Posts. Before. March.
Here goes! Since memories of Christmas are fading fast (that was 2 MONTHS ago people! I don't remember yesterday!), I'm giving a shout out to the highlights that I actually do remember.
Christmas in Roxboro:
• New Winter Coats bought on the way (after a "firm" suggestion from Anneliese's teacher that she really should have a heavier coat for playtime outside. one of my most stellar mom moments for sure.)
• Disastrous gingerbread village
• Cousin Time
• LOTS of Puppy Chow (or White Trash. or 3 lbs. or whatever you want to call it.)
• The funniest Christmas Pageant ever. Seriously. I really wish we had Aunt (Angel) Kelly's video. Oh, the singing. There are no words.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Moravian Love Feast

Best part of a Love Feast according to Anneliese? The sweet bread.

That's my girl.

Kate's 7th Birthday

Seven?! What the heck? This was our "big party" year, and since the petting zoo party was out (it's cold in December, y'all) - Kate picked Salem Gymnastics! Despite the Karate Invitational going on at the same time - (those folks are LOUD!) - it was pretty great.

Appropriate Snow Attire

Have you met Anneliese? She has VERY specific ideas on clothes. You know the saying - pick your battles? Yeah, we're not picking this one. Yet. (check back when she's 13) Despite our suggestions and encouragement, Anneliese decided this outfit was perfectly appropriate for our first snow day of the season.

Fortunately, this lasted about 5 minutes. Snowsuits have been our go-to gear ever since.

Running Away

So far, Kate is smart enough to wait for a ride when she wants to run away.

Adam and Amy Got Maaaaaaaarried!

Our sweet friends Adam and Amy got married in November, so Blake and I decided to clean ourselves up a bit for a swanky night wedding! Even Kate put on a dress! Yeah, we don't get out much.

Oh, and also! I got to host the Bridesmaids luncheon! Check out the pretty table. (here's what you don't see: me googling "setting a table" - because I can NEVER remember which side the forks go on! my mom would be so disappointed! shhhh!) And. Tip for future brides: we've been married for 10! years and this is the first time my fancy china has graced any table. Register for tools instead.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Halloween 2010

Black Cat and Zookeeper of course. Oh, excuse me. A Black Scottish Fold and Zookeeper. Of course.

Anneliese turns 4!

Toasted marshmallows, dog dog bone (aka - duck duck goose), pin the tail on the cat, hopscotch, creepy cookies, PIGS! RABBITS! SNAKES! COWS! LIZARDS! FERRETS! BEST! SHOTWELL! BIRTHDAY! EVER! Happy Birthday sweet, funny Anneliese!
(oh, and a shout-out to Kiddie Kritterz for the animals. awesome.)

Blake's Birthday

Blake loves a game. Since my super awesome surprise party for him got rained out last year, we decided to try again. But this time not so awesome, or surprisey, or rainy. We just went with the traditional super outside gamey birthday. And it was - friends, football, cookies, chalk, icy rubdowns . . wait. what? Yeah, it was pretty hot. Check it out. (click on the slideshow to see them all)