Two Babies: Our New Normal

Not surprisingly, I haven’t had much time to blog over the last few weeks. Having a 13 month old and a one month old in the house has been a little time-consuming. It has been interesting being back to spit-up encrusted shirts and pulling the nightshift again. If I wasn’t a frumpy-frump before, I most definitely am now. In my head, long nights with a colicky newborn and long days with a mobile toddler justify my refusal to wear anything but yoga pants and never fixing my hair (and don’t even get me started about tweezing).

Also, I don’t know if it’s just in my head (or stuck in my nose), but I’m convinced our house smells like one huge sick-nasty diaper. Along with the smell, our house is now an unsightly obstacle course set with gates, clips, and locks in order to keep our curious daughter from trashing the place (even more). Oh, and the used baby bottles strewn throughout the house are reminiscent of a frat house after a drunken party (ex. I found one under the Christmas tree this morning).

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Don’t judge me for having a blow-up pool in my living room (Hannah).

When I do get out of the house, I’m amazed at the planning and strategy that it requires. I’ve been able to successfully cut down the number of hours it takes to get everyone fed, ready and out the door, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that while I once lived out of backpack for a year, I now have to pack twice as much gear to do some “quick” errands.

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Pure joy over peanut butter. She’s obviously my child.

Basically, I have a whole new respect for parents. The fact that some moms keep up with things like bathing themselves AND Pinterest is impressive.

Because I’d rather sleep than write, I’m going to jot down a few highlights from the last several weeks:

  1. Our fuzzy foster baby gained almost 2 pounds since coming to us a month ago (I told you we were chunky baby experts). His pediatrician is so impressed by how strong and healthy he is despite his prenatal circumstances. Praise Jesus.
  2. I have become a ninja when changing diapers. Baby boy parts cannot be trusted under any circumstances. #peeEVERYWHERE
  3. My mother in law has been a HUGE help to me and has even spent the night a few times. We have started to really work as a team and our relationship has been strengthened immensely through this.
  4. I’m starting to really enjoy watching how people curiously approach the subject of our babies’ ages. When we’re out in public, it’s almost a guarantee that someone will casually start a conversation for the sole purpose of finding out just how soon after Mariah’s birth Albin and I got back to making babies. I usually let them do the math in their heads before I mention the tiny one isn’t ours.
  5. I’ve spent somewhere around eight hours over the last two weeks waiting in the public health clinic lines to get fuzzy registered, screened, and checked up. Thankfully, this time around wasn’t nearly as complicated as it was with our first foster daughter since now the staff know how to handle temporary custody cases. I only had to go semi-postal on one miserable secretary that tried to override a doctor’s order in scheduling our next appointment (I still don’t know why she became so belligerent). I called her out and she became sickly sweet when she realized that I wasn’t some clueless foreigner and that I was doing a public service for a high-risk newborn. It’s rare that I’ll pull out my gringo directness on a Costa Rican, but when it comes to my kids…
  6. People have been incredibly generous with clothes and baby boy items. Friends, family, and even a Pharmacist from the free clinic have showered us with clothes and diapers. God bless.
  7. Sometimes I get in the fetal position and hold myself when both babies are trying to out-cry each other.

I can’t deny it’s been chaotic with two littles under 13 months, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Waiting in lines, dodging streams of urine, and fielding lots of curious questions are a small price to pay when I consider the privilege it is to get this little guy off to a healthy start in life. I am thankful that I can be a stay at home mom and love on these kids even if it’s not always pretty. I love falling into bed at night knowing that every ounce of my energy was spent loving on the precious lives God has entrusted to me. I know that we’re right where God wants us right now and that’s a good place to be.

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Raising Our Kids: Top 10 Legacies We Want to Live

In my head, our 30’s will involve raising of A LOT of kids–biological, adopted and fostered. As we embark on this journey of being surrounded by little humans, I want to establish some healthy patterns that will hopefully stick with them throughout their lives. I’m thinking the word “legacies” works to describe the ideas we want to instill in our children. We’ve also realized that if it’s going to be a way of life for our kids, they need to see it from us- so I’ve included in italics how we’re trying to integrate these things in our lives.

IMG_3057First and foremost, we want worshipers of God. I want my kids to have the joy of the Lord
and realize that bringing glory to Him influences atmospheres, changes situations, and provides communion with our Maker. I want them to learn to worship him with their voices, but also with their actions and their lives. To initiate this, we’ve started to have “worship night” once a week at our house where we turn off the lights, put on some (good) worship music, and spend time with Jesus.

Second, we want kids that live out the gospel. Not just kids who are well-versed in all the right answers and know what looking like a good Christian is. We want kids that get their hands dirty and whose first response is to help those in need. We want our kids to know our house is open to the homeless, our food is shared with the hungry, our clothes given to the naked, and our hearts are willing to love well. We want them to stand up for the kids being bullied and make friends with the lonely new student. We want this to be like second nature to them, so we’ve started to live like this: stopping to give away groceries to people begging, fostering needy kids, going onto the streets on Saturdays to talk with the hopeless, finding ways we can stand up for justice, etc.


We want adventurers and explorers.
We don’t want our kids to be afraid of getting hurt, fearful FullSizeRender (25)of the unknown, or planted to the couch watching TV. We want our kids to love being outdoors, to love finding new places, experiencing new things, and meeting new people. We want to raise inquisitive kids that ask questions and look for answers creatively. We want to teach our kids to look for solutions to problems and to not be limited by societal confines. To live this out, we’ve been planning family adventures at least once a month.

We want culturally-aware kids. Obviously, we love cultures and love learning about them. We want our kids to appreciate our Costa Rican and American cultures; but we also want them to have a love for all people. We hope they want to learn new customs, try new foods, learn new languages, and see new places. Obviously, we won’t allow racism in our house, but we want it to go above and beyond that–which means showing our kids how to be open-minded, accepting of cultural differences, and interested in the lives of others that are different from us. I feel like we have a head-start on this one since our family is a fusion of two cultures, but we also have been intentional about visiting other countries, understanding world issues, becoming friends with people from other cultures, and trying international foods.

We want family time to be important and fun. Somehow my parents succeeded in this area and I am grateful. Growing up, I would often choose to spend time with family over going out with friends. We played games, went fun places, respected one another, and had an honest, open relationship. I want that for my kids. I don’t want to be friends with them in a negative sense, but I want them to feel respected, accepted, and loved. I want our family to be a safe place for all of us. A place of trust and acceptance. To do this, one thing we’ve started doing is family game night once a week and the family adventures once a month.

We want individuals. We truly treasure different personalities and interests. We want to encourage our kids to be who God created them to be, not what society says they should be. We want them to feel free to express themselves and be different. I hope that we can encourage their different talents and try to provide them with opportunities to achieve their personal goals. We want to build on their interests, foster their gifts, and teach them to think for themselves. We’ve been trying to do this in our lives as well–to not worry about what people say, what their opinions are, or how they judge us. We’re taking steps to become more of who God created us to be, and learning that it is beautiful.

We want kids our kids to be respectful. We don’t want kids that talk back to teachers and know that we’ll defend them when the teacher calls. We want our kids to be a breath of fresh air for their teachers. We want sons who grow up to be good husbands and daddies. We want daughters who grow up to respect their bodies and hearts. We want a family that respects those in leadership, even though we don’t always agree with their decisions. We hope for a family built on honor: honoring God and honoring one another. In our lives, Albin and I have tried hard to have a mutual respect for one another and to foster a culture of honor in our home.

We want to raise hard workers that know it’s okay to make mistakes. We aren’t looking for perfect kids here, so we want them to know there is grace for when we fail. We also want them to work hard and do their best, so that even if they do fail, they know they gave it their all. We don’t want everything to be about success, failure, or living up to high expectations. We want them to work hard, live fully, and learn from their mistakes. I’ve learned a lot about what true success is in the last four years, so I’m trying to give up my perfectionist ways and live well.

We want kids with a sense of humor. I want our kids to be serious when they need toIMG_2388 be, but I don’t want to them to take themselves or life too seriously. They don’t have to be the class clown or be naturally witty, but I want them to have the freedom to laugh and realize how having a sense of humor helps us connect with others. Life application: 90 percent of my family’s conversations are based on witty remarks.

We want little givers. Something I have strived over for the last few years is being a good giver. I am selfish and I’m not a natural gift-giver, so I wanted to improve in this area. I want our kids to grow up with giving in their blood. I want them to come home hungry because they gave half their lunch to the kid who didn’t have one. I want them to pass a granola bar out the window of our car to the man begging on the street. I want them to value giving over acquiring. I want them to learn to use their money wisely so that they can give as much as they can to those in need. I want them to give their hearts, talents, and treasures to the glory of God. Since I turned 30, I’ve tried to be intentional and give one thing to someone everyday (whether its time, a treasure, or a talent).

Maybe trying to raise kids with all the above ideas is a lot to ask. That’s fine; but I want to have a guideline and start these kiddos young on a culture guided by these ten ideas. From the beginning, I want little people that know they have intrinsic value, but know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I really feel like this super long post could be summarized into one simple statement:

I want my kids to grow up knowing how to love well.

When you love well, everything else falls into place. That makes this list seem way less daunting. When your heart is full of love, the rest just overflows out of you naturally.

“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be                                                 something you do but someone you raise.”

–Andy Stanley

Our “Bright White” Biracial Kid

One of my favorite stories from the time Mariah spent in the NICU is about some confusion the nurses had over Mariah’s skin color. When Mariah was born, she was a little purplish-looking. I’ve never birthed a biracial baby before, so I assumed Costa Rican babies came out a little more plum-colored than the average white kid. The not-so-comical part of the story is that Mariah was purple because her blood was septic and her collapsed lung was preventing good oxygen flow to her blood. Sadly, she was purple from bad blood.

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Purplish? This is right after she was born and before we knew she was so sick.

At the time, everyone assumed with me that she was just going to be dark like her daddy. Albin’s not super dark; but he’s clearly Latino, and if you leave him in the sun too long (even with SPF 90 sunscreen), he claims that he turns so black that he’s blue (what does that even mean?). Anyway, my point is, she was dark and her hair was dark at first too. After we made it through the part of us almost losing her and then her miraculous recovery, she had to stay in the hospital for a while to finish the strong intravenous antibiotic she was prescribed. She was taken off the respirator and all the other monitors, tubes, and IVs had been discontinued.

As I arrived one morning to start my all-day vigil at her bedside, I noticed that she was hooked up to several monitors again. My heart plummeted and my out-of-control emotions took over and gave me a drippy nose and watery eyes. I shakily went to ask the nurse what had happened to Mariah overnight and here is how our conversation proceeded:

Me: Why is Mariah hooked up to all the monitors again? (Sniffle)

Nurse: Because she got a little white during the night.

Me: White?! Like white skin?

Nurse: Yes, white. Very white skin.

Me: So?

Nurse: Well we thought maybe she was having oxygen problems or blood pressure issues and that’s why she turned white.

Me: Did you find any problems with her oxygen or blood pressure?

Nurse: No. It is so weird. Everything is perfectly fine. She is just so white.

Me (starting to smile): So her blood is getting better and she is turning white?

Nurse: Yes.

Me (cracking up): Have you seen her mother? Real white.

Nurse (starting to laugh): Do you think she’s just white like you? That would explain a lot actually. We don’t see a lot of bright white babies in here so it was a little surprising.

Me (thinking): If you want to see bright white, you should see my booty.

Turns out, my biracial kid is white with light hair. Everyone tells me she looks like a white Albin. I’m just thankful her blood is in good shape. The nurses and I had the rare chance to burst into laughter that day, and it was moments like those that kept me sane. We never would have thought that the healthier Mariah became, the lighter her skin would be. The good news is that she tans well because I can’t imagine the amount of money I would spend on sunscreen in CR if she was still as bright white as my rear.

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Pretty white I suppose… 🙂

Mariah’s First Birthday

Today we have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for. One year ago our precious daughter was in critical condition and her prognosis was bleak. Today she is a healthy and happy one year-old and we couldn’t be more grateful. For those of you who haven’t heard the long version of Mariah’s incredible story, you can read it here.

The short version goes like this: our daughter was born six weeks early with a deadly bacteria. Within 24 hours, her body started to shut down; she had a collapsed lung and her blood was septic.  When the doctors told us that she may die, we were heartbroken and started crying out to God. After two hours of praying and singing in the hallway outside of the NICU, the doctor came out and told us that Mariah had amazingly stabilized, that her lung “mysteriously” inflated on its own, and that her body had started fighting. From that moment on, every complication from her illness began to disappear.


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For the thousands of you who have prayed for Mariah, I’m going to take a moment and be specific about how your prayers were powerful and effective.

  • Mariah’s lung inflated on its own which allowed her heart to get enough oxygen to pump the medicine through her blood more effectively.
  • Her body began to stabilize its erratic sugar counts.
  • Her heart rate and blood pressure stabilized.
  • Her blood became bacteria-free.
  • Her brain scan came back normal and she has no brain damage from the many seizures she had during her first 24 hours.
  • She was able to skip the Intermediate Care Unit and went from the Intensive Care Unit straight to the General Care Unit.
  • Her virtually non-existent immune system at birth has fully recovered. White and red blood cell counts as well as platelet counts are leveled.
  • Despite being born premature, she has reached her developmental milestones.
  • Her umbilical hernia has closed up and healed.
  • Her hearing test came back perfect despite the doctors’ concerns that the strong antibiotic would cause deafness.
  • The initial concern over her inability to gain weight has clearly been erased.
  • As far as we can tell, she has outgrown her dairy allergy.
  • She has overcome the sensitivity in her arms from being tied down and stuck with many IV’s.
  • God sustained us through that difficult time in the hospital and for the four months after that we spent in isolation as we waited for Mariah’s immune system to develop.
  • We’ve gotten the opportunity to share Mariah’s story with thousands of people, many of whom were going through heartbreaking circumstances with their own newborns.

Man, we’re just thankful. There is nothing like seeing God work so directly and completely. We share her story everywhere we go because we just can’t keep quiet about it. Hearing doctors and nurses call Mariah a miracle and marvel at how there aren’t any residual side effects is such a testimony to God being the great Physician.

Obviously, we’re experiencing a lot of emotions today. I remember the trauma of hearing the doctors bluntly use the word “death” and of the nurses asking if we wanted a priest to come and say her last rites. I remember the heart wrenching sound of my strong husband’s grief-stricken sobs. I have the image of my tiny baby girl hooked up to tubes and monitors burned into my mind. I remember the feeling of complete helplessness as I held my breath willing her chest to continue its rise and fall. I remember the feeling of stroking her little hand and crying silent, hot tears about not being able to hold her as she cried.

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At the same time, I remember the absolute joy I felt when I heard her cry for the first time. I remember the doctor telling us she had stabilized miraculously. I remember the Spirit whispering to me that she wouldn’t fall. I remember singing my heart out in that dark hallway even though I could barely move after the C-section. I remember when I was finally able to hold her again and how I would sit for hours singing to her. I remember panicking when a new orderly was unsure of why my daughter wasn’t in her normal NICU bed (she had been moved to the general room). I remember the absolute relief it was to call the hospital early every morning and hear the nurse say that Mariah was stable through the night. I remember belting out the song “I’m Overwhelmed” through tears of joy in that dark hallway after the doctors moved her out of the NICU. I could go on and on…

So as we celebrate her first birthday today, I know we are blessed. We have a little girl that can scream at the top of her healthy lungs, that can lick the bottom of her shoe and have her immune system kick in, that can express herself with that strong-willed personality that fought off death, and that can bring hope to others with her testimony.

Glory to God! He has entrusted a treasure to us  and we are eternally grateful for what He has done!

Psalm 66:16 Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.

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