Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Landing - Exciting News!!!

We are THRILLED to announce we have been selected by an expectant mother to be
the parents of her BABY BOY!!!!!!!!!!
(this is a letter we wrote to our families, sharing the news with them)
Words cannot express the overwhelming joy and excitement we are feeling at this time! We feel so blessed and know that the Lord has truly prepared us for this specific opportunity and has brought this sweet expectant mother into our lives - she is truly amazing.

We were contacted the Friday after Thanksgiving with a pretty simple email from an expectant mother. She let us know she had looked at our profile and really liked it. We were so excited to receive the email and were quick to reply, letting her know we wanted to get to know her better and would be happy to answer any and all questions she had. Over the next couple of days we had back and forth emails asking and answering questions, getting to know each other better. We had also learned she was in contact with a few other couples. The last we'd heard from her was that Sunday night and we didn't hear from her again until Wednesday.

Wednesday night Emily got an email while Brad was at the gym and this is a small piece of the email she sent to us:

"Sorry I haven't responded for a few days. I wanted to take a few days to think about my choices and what I was going to decide. I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that you agree with my hopes for my baby boy. I'm so glad that you feel the same as I do. :D I'm just so ecstatic! So many things are going through my mind! So I just want to tell you that I talked with my adoption advisor tonight and I think I have come to a very great decision. In answer to your question, I have many details I would like to discuss with you about this adoption. First... What would you guys think about us meeting in person??!!? :D I am seriously asking you if you would want to be the parents of my baby boy... :D "

Emily immediately started jumping up and down - sobbing uncontrollably because she couldn't believe this was really happening. She finally regained her composure and called Brad because she couldn't wait to tell him. He hurried home and we read through the whole email together and sat in shock. We could not believe this was really happening!
After that point we coordinated a day and time to meet each other and continued corresponding back and forth - asking more questions, getting to know each other better. Our email correspondence has been very natural and comfortable from the start - further confirming the Lord's hand in this process.
We met her and her family this weekend, downtown Salt Lake, for dinner and Temple Square. It was an absolutely amazing experience! We talked for 4 hours straight about everything: our families, things we like and don't like, the adoption, her sweet little baby, how we have all been feeling through the whole process. We seriously feel like we have known them forever. As we talked and learned more about each others' experiences throughout the process we have learned that the Lord's hand is undeniable and everything is falling into place so easily because it is truly meant to be. We were so thrilled to know we were on the same page and feeling the same way. We have so many of the same opinions and ideas about how we view this adoption opportunity and feel so blessed to be going through this experience with such an amazing, real expectant mother with such a supportive family.

The expectant mother is so darling! (Emily's words).  Her name is Courtney. She is taking college classes, working towards becoming a CNA and hopes to become an RN later on. She is a determined student with high expectations for her grades. She loves to spend time with her extended family and has shared that it is very important to her - we couldn't agree more! She likes to stay healthy and active and is a very hard worker. She has great hope and goals for her future and has so much going for her. We are so proud of her and her determination to succeed. She is a young woman with greater perspective than most young women we know and we couldn't feel more blessed to have her as a part of our lives.

We feel so blessed to have all of the love and support that we have from our family, friends, and strangers. Thank you for your continued prayers and fasting in our behalf. We know that none of this could have happened without the faith of all of you.
Coming April 4, 2014: Baby BOY Marsh

Saturday, December 14, 2013

National Adoption Month

Last month was National Adoption Month. Unfortunately I dropped the ball on doing a tribute to Adoption Awareness so I still want to do it - better late than never :)
I share a post on Adoption Awareness last year HERE and it's so crazy to think how much more we've learned!
We continue to be blown away as we learn more and meet more people that are a part of this adoption world. There are so many amazing people out there and there are endless amounts of support systems!
As we look back on this last year in our adoption journey we can't help but feel incredibly blessed and fortunate. It was August of last year that we learned the best (only) way for us to start our family was through the miracle of adoption. By October, we attended an orientation meeting with LDS Family Services and decided it felt right to wait until January to really start working with LDS services. We are and have been "hoping to adopt" since last September and feel working with an agency has only solidified the possibility of us to becoming parents someday soon. By March we had been approved to start our profile and paid the upfront fees. By middle of June we had finally finished the hours and hours of paper work and our home study. After it was reviewed and approved, we were published this last July. I remember crying tears of joy when we learned our profile was finally published. We feel so blessed to have come this far and know we could not have done it on our own. We have so much support from friends, family, the church, and even strangers! We have a Father in Heaven who loves us dearly and knows the righteous desires of our hearts. We know that the Lord will bless us with these righteous desires in His time - the BEST time - that will bring us the most joy.
At this time - we are playing the "waiting game" of the adoption process. Adoption truly is a process - there are steps that must be taken, timelines that need to be followed, and expectations that need to be met. Sometimes it can be discouraging, knowing the "process" you have to go through to have a family - when it seems to come so easily to others. BUT we know that this is the Lord's plan for us. This is the plan the we happily agreed to and looked forward to before this life. We knew that even though we would face trials - it would all be worth it and that this plan would ultimately bring us eternal happiness. As Brad and I talk more about us going through this adoption journey - we no longer see it as a trial or challenge. We have been blessed to see this as an opportunity and a blessing to be a part of the adoption experience. We have met so many amazing, inspiring people and heard so many fabulous stories. The strength of a potential birth mother is beyond my greatest strength. I have never met women with more love for their babies and these birth mothers. They are truly better than me, in so many ways. We can't help but feel fortunate as we enjoy the journey and wait in anticipation for the opportunity to become parents.
The miracle of adoption is truly a gift from God. It all makes sense. Heavenly Father has a plan for everyone and everything, in every situation. I'm so grateful for the inspired idea of adoption and the opportunity it will provide for us to be parents in this life. 

A December to Remember - so far

This December has been SO busy (this is why I'm SO behind on the blog). It is definitely a December to remember with all that is going on. With Shaun living with us - I'm kind of having to play mom for him a bit - I'm not enjoying it as much as I used to ;) Only because I don't like telling him what he needs to do, I just want to be his buddy. But the poor guy is like any other recently returned missionary and lacks some direction in some of the more worldly tasks he needs to tackle before school starts: buying a car, finding a place to live, and FINDING A JOB! Does anyone have any job leads or ideas for my Shauny boy to work part time while living down in Provo? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.  :)
Also THE wedding is 3 weeks from today!!! Ahhh! I am just realizing that for the first time! I don't even know how much I've talked about the wedding on the blog - I'm realizing probably next to none, just because it has all happened so fast. They decided a wedding date in October, were officially engaged in November, and the wedding is January 4th. Since my mom lives out in NC and Karlie's family lives out in CA, we have been working together to make all of the wedding stuff happen.
Karlie is the greatest! I have had the opportunity to get to know her over the last six months and she is GREAT! I love watching her and Zac interact together, truly as best friends. She appreciates Zac and loves him so much! Growing up, I always told my friends that whoever marries Zac better appreciate how amazing he really is and Karlie is that to a T. She is perfect for him! I have never seen him more confident and comfortable with himself and I know that it's because he has an amazing fiancé that loves him and has confidence in him. Love you Karlie! Of course, Zac SCORED! Karlie is such a driven, bold person that knows what she wants and is one of the most faith-filled members of the church I have ever met! Not to mention - she is GORGEOUS! These two are a power couple in the gospel and have a the fire of missionary work within them watch out!
I love this pic of them :)

Meet Karlie
We threw a shower for her the same weekend of Shaun's homecoming
So far Brad and I have done what we can to enjoy the holiday season and making sure we find time together - specifically down time to make sure we are on the same page and that we are feeling connected.
Last weekend we went to Festival of Trees with some friends and to Brad's work party. I hadn't been to Festival of Trees in years and I loved it. I loved getting new ideas for decorating, and learning about all of these sad stories - but that glittered with hope. I am so grateful for hope and the joy it provides in life as we face different challenges and trials. We also tried Noodles and Co. for the first time. Why have I waited so long to eat their Mac and Cheese (my favorite). So good!

Brad's work party was a Masquerade. It was fun to get dressed up and make our own masks. I will have you know, I made my mask in about three minutes - I'm pretty impressed with how it turned out. :) They had a yummy dinner and some fun entertainment, but the lines were long for everything and it was too loud to hear anyone. But we still had fun on a night out, dressed up.

This week we went to the movie FROZEN. Oh heavens! It is such a darling movie! I don't want to talk it up too much, but we are so excited to buy it when it comes out. We have spent the last 3 days listening to the music, quoting it, and watching clips of it on YouTube. My favorite character, by far is the snowman, Olaf. I recommend everyone go see it :)
Friday night we went to our traditional Alpine Christmas. It has been going on for 8 years and I haven't missed a year. We have made it a tradition since being married and I love it. The music is always beautiful and it's always fun to see what new talent they will bring every year. There was an 11 year old girl there that totally blew my mind. She was amazing! There is another show tonight, so GO!
Tonight we will be going up to Salt Lake to go to dinner and Temple Square with some new friends and we are so excited. We are hoping we will run into Brad's sister, Mindy (serving as a Temple Square missionary) while we are there and hope to snap a picture or two with her.
So to sum it up, we are reestablishing an RM, planning a wedding, getting ready to have 8 people all staying together in our basement apartment, and trying to soak up all of the holiday festivities - enjoying the Christmas season. We feel so blessed to have so many good, exciting things happening in our lives right now and hope we can continue to enjoy the rest of it. :)
That, my friends, is a December to remember.


So the rest of my family came out the day before Thanksgiving to spend more time with Shaun and celebrate with more family. Brad and I actually had Thanksgiving with his side of the family this year and left shortly after picking Meggy and Dad up at the airport and Zac went to California with his fiancé, Karlie. We felt kinda bad, but they will all be back for us to celebrate Christmas together :)
Thanksgiving was great! We LOVE spending time with our Marsh family and are so grateful we were able to make it happen this Thanksgiving. We went down to Grandma and Grandpa Marsh's place in St. George and spent it with Brad's family and a few more of the cousins and aunts and uncles from the Marsh side. We enjoyed playing card games (of course) watching some fun shows, getting some shopping done, and going to see a movie. It was great just to spend time with a bunch of them and look forward to seeing all of them again this Summer!
The day we left, we also went to an extended family gathering with Grandpa Marsh's brothers and their families. It was fun get meet more family and be reacquainted with family that we had already met. I LOVE family so much!
We were so sad to leave, but had to get back to work on lessons we needed to prepare and finally be all together as a the Baxter family for one night before my mom, dad, and Meggy headed back to NC. We spent the night snacking and watching some of our recently edited family videos - man those were real treats! I can't believe how funny we thought we were. We had a lot of laughs and both Brad and Karlie officially have the worst blackmail at their fingertips if we ever give them reason to use it ;)
We were sad to see half of the family go, but look forward to seeing them this next week for Christmas all together and the wedding in January. YAY!
Unfortunately I don't think I have any awesome pics of Thanksgiving, but I will share what I have.
one of my favorite decorations at Gma and Gpa Marsh's house

the spectacular view in St. George!

Elder Baxter Returns!!!

HE'S HOME and I am so happy!!!
YAY! Elder Shaun is home from serving his 2-year mission and I am THRILLED to have him back.
Unfortunately he went home to my parents in North Carolina first. I didn't love not being able to be there for his first arrival to the U.S. but I found every opportunity I could to Facetime or Skype with them. Shaun didn't really like me to because he was wanting to wait until we were face to face before seeing me. So I mostly just listened to him talk in the background while I chatted with the rest of the family.
Dad and Meggy couldn't miss as much work and school so my mom came out to Utah with him the Tuesday after he got home. I was there at the airport waiting for him with Aunt Jill, Grandma & Grandpa, and Shaylee and her girls. Shaun wanted any and all family at the airport with little ones - he's been missing babies! It was such a sweet reunion and I could hardly stand waiting any longer before I ran up to him and popped his head off out of love and excitement. He is such a handsome young man!
We had his homecoming at our home ward here in Alpine, then actually pulled off hosting a soup and bread dinner at our house with ALL of our family and friends. It was a bit crowded - but we like to think it was more cozy :)
One of the first things he said to us was that he is going to find us a baby. He's so sweet and has been so supportive as we have worked hard to do what we can to start a little family someday.
Shaun has been living with us since he got home and he will be with us until he moves out in January, to go to BYU. We are so excited he will be going to school so close and will be down there, going to school with Zac.
Shaun has been such a joy to have in our home. He still has his sense of humor - just not quite as loud (sometimes I actually miss that). He has brought such a loving, patient, sweet spirit into our home that has helped us to become better people. He has helped me to remember what really matters and what I need to "chill" about. He's constantly sharing his thoughts with us and asking Brad and I for advice in everything. It has been so great spending this time with him.
Welcome home Shaunzy!
Elder Shaun Robert Baxter
Baltic States Mission - Latvian Speaking
November 2011 - November 2013

brothers reuniting for the first time

already crackin' jokes

Shaun with little ones - they instantly fell in love with him

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Life Lately

Life lately has been crazy chaotic and a bit stressful. I have a cold sore on my nose to prove it! (Unfortunately, I get them from stress)

Right now, my life consists of:
Helping my parents find a condo in the Utah Valley area (as an investment)
Prepping a living space (in our home) for little brother coming home from a mission
Finishing up all of my DIY to make my home presentable for his^ homecoming
"Playing" wedding planner for my brother and his darling fiancé
Continuing (my favorite) teaching preschool
Working as a nanny for two darling little girls
Not to mention the rush of the Holiday Season

I'm not complaining, looking for pity or sympathy - I just want to remember how crazy busy it has been.
Better, than it being crazy - it has been pretty fun :)
I have been busier than I have been in a long time and it gives me this "high" of energy when I'm having to go non-stop. I am losing sleep, my mind is reeling, and sometimes my house looks unacceptable more than it should - but that's ok, because we are making great memories, making awesome things happen.
Planning a wedding is fun and a lot more tedious than I remember, it's exciting to think of our whole family being together again within the next week or so, I'm finally finishing projects I just haven't had the drive to finish, it's fun "practicing" buying a home, and STILL nothing is better than my "kid fix" from preschool and nannying - still makes me the happiest.

I don't think I've ever done a post without a picture, so here is a picture of my latest DIY that I'm trying to finish up.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Home Remodel

As I've mentioned before, we have been doing some remodeling in the basement. We are finally at the finishing stages and I am THRILLED to be at this point. I was starting to forget what it was like to live in a fully functional space. After a lot of hard work from a lot of people, it really looks great.
My mom and I decided we wanted to change out the tile in the basement. We also decided we wanted to make the laundry closet a more appealing laundry "nook". Along with that we decided to make a couple other updates to complete the look.
We've ripped up more tile than I ever want to see again. (I made Brad promise me he would never let me commit to that kind of project again). I seriously spent over 24 hours, of just my labor, ripping up tile - that doesn't include anyone else's help (Brad, Jeff, Mom, Dad, Shane, Jason). We ripped down walls and a closet, built a new wall, moved a door, put in new baseboards, repainted walls, painted baseboards, did some redecorating, and voilà! It's becoming a masterpiece!
I will let the pictures do some of the talking:
 (some of these will be a repeat from a previous post - I just want it documented together as a project)

before any changes

the beginning

trying to block dust - didn't really work

brad's friend, jeff helping out

more progress

and more progress

cleaned up, making the space more livable

the worst of it

even more of the worst of it

so we moved this door over about 1/2 a foot to the right

took out this door and tore down the wall

rebuilding the space

before they closed up the wall (used to be a closet in the bathroom)

before they build a new wall for the commode
Presenting the final product!

new TILE! Yes, tile that looks like wood flooring... SO AWESOME!
behind the cabinet doors... I LOVE IT

a few functional knick-knacks for the new nook
new wall color - much better
you probably can't tell, but the door is moved closer to the shower
more wall space - for dresser on the other side of the wall
I love my new baseboards too!
refinished dresser for extra storage in the bathroom
your view as you sit on the toilet ;)
There were a lot of little changes that gave the space a whole new look. I am SO excited to have it finished and am loving every minute of  using my new laundry nook. Also, these floors are much easier to clean and I LOVE the way they look. I guess all our hard work paid off. Thanks mom!


Officially Auntie Em and Uncle Brad

This is almost a month late, but I had to make a post just for this life-changing event.
We are officially Uncle Brad and Auntie Em!
We are SO excited to finally be an aunt and uncle - not to mention it is to the most adorable little girl you could every see.

Introducing Elizabeth Ann Ryan - Born Wednesday, October 9th, 2013.
look at all her hair!
The proud parents are Rob and Hannah Ryan (Brad's sister and her hubby)
photocred. lil' sis: Clara
We have loved getting to know her over Skype and learning more from the "new parents". We are SO happy for them and look forward to being able to have a little playmate for Elizabeth, hopefully someday soon. Unfortunately we won't be able to actually hold and see baby Elizabeth until December and it can't come soon enough!!!
We love the little Ryan family and are so excited for their new adventure :)

Halloween Festivities

Halloween this year was great. Honestly, I think what made it so great was my darling little preschool class. It was so fun to celebrate Halloween with a group that had so much energy and excitement for one of my favorite holidays.

SO adorable!!!
Earlier in October we had a Halloween party with some "neighbor" friends and I was in full costume. Unfortunately Brad had to work late and showed up too far into it to make his costume worth it. His costume made its grand debut on Halloween night and we I must say, I think we made a great team.
Your insurance favorites: Mayhem and Flo :)
We started Halloween night by sitting on our porch in our costumes, handing out candy. No one really seems to come to our door, so we sit on our porch and just hand it out so we can see all of the adorable costumes. We had fun seeing all of the neighbor kids and sharing our fun costumes with everyone else.
After all of the candy was gone, we headed over to Shaylee and Jason's. We finished up their trick or treating with them and headed back to the house. They had more family over and we enjoyed yummy fall soups and breadsticks while watching Hocus Pocus (a personal favorite).
All in all it was a fun Halloween night, enjoying sweets, seeing all of the fun costumes, and spending time with family and friends.
However, our fun didn't stop there. With all of the Halloween parties going on, we decided it was too hard for my friends from high school to try to have a party before Halloween. We decided to have a day-after-Halloween, Halloween party. It was fun to have some of us together again after it being months of not seeing each other. We also got to know a few "significant others" of some of our dating friends. We enjoyed a night of funny costumes, yummy treats, and catching up on each others' lives. It's so fun to have so many friends still close, but so sad to have some missing...
We hope everyone had a happy Halloween!
Maybe next year we will have a cute little one to take trick or treating? Who knows?..

Monday, October 28, 2013

Save a Sister

This last weekend was an absolute blast!
This beautiful lady has been a champ fighting breast cancer; she is my lovely Aunt Lorie.
me & the fighter - aunt lorie
Our cousin, Tifani came up with this great idea for us to show our love and support for Aunt Lorie and make a fun weekend of it - we ran the Save a Sister race down in St. George. We have spent the weekend enjoying successful shopping, eating, laughing, lounging, and, of course, running our race. We were missing a few of us but all SIXTEEN of us (that could come) stayed in a darling condo - It's a little bit tight on space, but we make it work, take quick showers, and get nice and cozy for bedtime.
I wish we would have taken more pictures of the overall weekend, but we've got some great pictures from the race.
me and shay

aunt Jamie & aunt marcie

high 5's for grandma at the finish line

shay, shannon, aunt jill

team socks

our champ - surrounded by our team socks

the crew with some tutus

HIGHLIGHT! Grandma took 1st place for her age group :)
I feel so blessed to be a part of a family that jumps at the chance to spend time together and support each other. We are always leaving with more hilarious memories and a greater appreciation for each other. I love family!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Conference Weekend

This Conference Weekend was a good one. We were lucky enough to have my dad in town for a family wedding and my brother Zac and his lady friend, Karlie with us as well. I loved having some family in town and made me extra excited for November when we will ALL be together again :)
Dad got in Thursday afternoon. He treated us to dinner at Blue Lemon then we went grocery shopping and enjoyed catching up for the rest of the evening. Zac and Karlie got in really late that night (like 3 in the morning) so we didn't get to see them until we all woke up the next morning. We enjoyed attending the wedding of our cousin Cory and his new wife Courtney. (side note: they dated for almost a year before she went on a mission and he waited for her. They were married two months after she got home. yay!) They are such a beautiful couple and it was so great to be a part of their special day.

We spent the afternoon stuffing our faces with JCW's visiting with cousins, and bouncing around to a few different wedding receptions.
Saturday and Sunday were awesome! Conference was SO amazing this weekend. The messages were filled with motivation, encouragement, and hope. I'm overwhelmed by the potential I am realizing I have, but I'm up for the challenge to become my best self. I loved having (some) family around for the weekend and am so grateful for all that I have been blessed with. With my dad in town, we had a chance to catch up with friends in the ward a little more and enjoy the undeniable beauty of fall in the city of Alpine.