Sunday, September 13, 2009

Giada's Dedication

We dedicated our sweet Giada Esther, who is seven months old, at our church on Sunday, September 13. Our church considers Dedication an opportunity to publicly commit that we will raise our children in a Christian home and share with them opportunities to learn about God and one day make their own decision about their faith. Our Children's Director Debi Lusk was there and our Lead Pastor Scott Hansen shared about our family and prayed over Giada.

Meilani also joined us on stage since she has the "big sister" responsibilities of helping care for her sister and teach her along the way. She takes this part very seriously.

We had many close friends and family, including Grandma Chris, Grandpa Larry, Nana Maria and Papa Doug, who stood up to join us in prayer and commitment to help raise Giada. We were so blessed to look out over our church and realize how many people have really become our family and join us on the journey of parenting.

Scott was especially excited to share with the church that Giada had already been a missionary to Haiti this summer even before we had a chance to dedicate her.

After the church service, we had a rockin' Italian feast at Nana and Papa's house. Our small group and some other friends joined us and the house was teeming with kids.
As the saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child..."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Welcome, Baby Nathanael - all the way from Ethiopia!

Our dear friends, Stacie and Forest Benedict, have been on a two-year journey to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. They are part of our small group that meets every other week and definitely part of our "inner circle" of friends who have become like family to us here in Fresno. We have prayed, cried, prayed, encouraged and prayed some more as we have walked alongside them on this journey. What a joy to celebrate with them this month the arrival of their son, Nathanael Gabriel Benedict.

The last few months have been full of exciting phone calls, travel plans, baby showers, fundraiser dinners and more. Stacie and Forest traveled to an orphanage in Ethiopia along with several other families from around the U.S. who were also adopting. They met their sweet son, who happens to be just one month older than our Giada. To think that God had chosen a little boy for them to be born within a few short weeks of our little girl so Stacie and I could be mamas together and our kids could grow up side by side!
I am so proud of Stacie and the way she has weathered this journey with grace and determination. I know it was not easy to wonder when and to wait and to wait some more. And now I see her with Nathanael and she is so natural at mothering, so affectionate and thoughtful and eager to learn and care.
Nathanael is bonding quickly with his mama and Daddy. He is a joyful little boy who loves to smile and clap. He gives open mouth kisses and he's getting ready to launch into a crawl.
Ok, so we're not into the arranged marriage thing but we all four were pretty excited to introduce our two cuties. Right away they were checking each other out and exchanging coos and smiles. When Stacie goes back to work in the winter, we are planning to help care for Nathanael and then he can hang out with Giada more regularly.
If you're interested, you can read more about the Benedict Adoption Journey here. We are rejoicing that another orphan has found a forever family!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Giada's Growing: Baby girl crawls, eats first solid food

On August 16, 2009, our sweet Giada turned 6 months. It's hard to believe how fast the time flies. Now our little bear is making new strides in her growing. She has moved on from the infant stages and is becoming mobile!
A few weeks ago Giada ventured out for her first crawl. It's more of a "bear crawl launch." She takes a few steps on her feet and hands and then launches herself forward on her belly. Sometimes she lets her knees down but we think our hardwood floors discourage her from the "regular" crawling technique.
Not only is she buzzing across the floor - she's also pulling herself up on furniture to a standing position. We have exactly two stairs in our entire house and one can often find her climbing up and then down, up and then down again on this short flight of stairs.
We also decided to start out our little girl on some solid food besides breast milk. (Yes, she'll still be a breastfed baby for a while longer!) Our first "meal" was bites of an organic avocado.
And the verdict? Avocadoes are a winner! (Actually, so are organic bananas, carrots and apples.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ericlee's first day of school

We know it's that time of year when everyone is posting "first day of school" photos. Since Ericlee has just started a new school year at a new job we couldn't resist the opportunity to share some photos.

Ericlee is a bonified college professor now. He teaches in the Kinesiology department at Fresno Pacific University. What a blessing to have a job using his skills and passions. This semester he is teaching four classes, including "Analysis of Outdoor Activities," "Nutrition," "Theory of P.E." and "Analysis of Fitness" Ericlee attended FPU for 2 years of college so it is fun to be back on campus teaching. He also has at least four Fresno Christian High School grads in his classes. He still gets to hang out with some of his faves!

We took the girls to visit FPU for a day and check out Daddy's new office. We even ate in the cafeteria. I am also teaching one class at FPU this fall. This will be my fifth time teaching "Reading & Writing Journalism" on Monday nights. I'm looking forward to being back in the classroom. I'm especially excited because I only have nine in my class so there's more time for personal attention for my students and less time grading.

We are grateful for all the prayers and support from friends and family. Although this job pays less than working at Fresno Christian, God has provided an incredible opportunity and health benefits are included for our family. We hope this will be the next step in moving Ericlee's career to the college level. We also consider it a gift to be in Fresno for another year living in our community of friends with our parents so close by. Daddy's job is so cool that he gets to ride his bike to school and teach about cycling. (Ok, and he's saving money on gas while he's at it.)