Friday, May 20, 2016

Dear Little One-- 12 weeks!

My first "baby bump" picture. I can't
believe how quickly I've started to
show with you!

 Dear Little One,

I know I still have a lot to write about your life leading up to this point, but those letters will have to wait. Because today, my heart is bursting!

You are right on the verge of being 12 weeks old. TWELVE WEEKS! Sometimes I still can't believe that we are here. You are  growing in my womb. I am pregnant!

I knew I was pregnant from the moment I saw two pink lines on my first pregnancy test, but the reality has only sunk in little by little over the past few months.

It first started to sink in when I started feeling sick, then when I saw   your heartbeat at my first ultrasound when you were nearly 7 weeks old, then as my belly started grow, and again when I got to hear your hearbeat at the beginning of this week.

But today, today takes the cake. I got to SEE you.

Facing the camera
You were moving and dancing and flailing your arms about. You sucked your thumb and kicked your legs. You twisted and you turned. I got to see your little feet and the flicker of your heart. I even got to see all four chambers of your heart! You were so active!

You have a head, and two arms and two legs. Your eyes have moved to the front of your head. I saw your spine and I even got to see your brain forming.

Partial Profile
I don't know what I was expecting to see. This whole pregnancy I've been super excited about you, but also bracing myself for the possible news that something is wrong. And while I realize there is still that possibility, I also know that there is an increasing likelihood that I will get to hold you in my arms and hear your first cries. I long for that day!

5 little fingers!
As soon as the nurse put the ultrasound wand on my tummy you started dancing for me. It's almost like you just wanted me to know that you are alive and well in there. Leeann and Titus and Mrs. Monica got to come in at that point and you put on a show for them as well. It was fun to watch your siblings stare in awe at your movements and wonder at the amazement of your presence in my womb.

Full profile
Soon enough I will start to feel those movements. That's another thing I'm really looking forward to. I am truly enjoying every moment of this journey with you. I love you sweet child and I'm so very grateful for you!

p.s. Thank you so much for the dancing and the enthusiastic waving. Seeing you active and growing does my heart wonders!    

Monday, May 16, 2016

Dear Little One-- Our Journey to You

Dear Little One,

If you are anything like your big sister and brother, when you get older you are going to LOVE hearing stories about yourself. You will ask us to repeat the same stories you've heard over and over and you will beg to finish your schoolwork early so you can read my blog and look at pictures and read stories from when you were young.

So, here is the first story in your journey to life, but it starts long before you began to grow in my tummy. Your presence, sweet little one, is nothing short of a blessed miracle.

Our journey to parenthood began with your sister. We had known her and loved her from the day she was born, but she didn't become our daughter until she was 16 months old. I first became a mommy in 2004 through the blessing of adoption! Your daddy and I had decided that we wanted to start a family. Because of how my body works, I always suspected that I might have a hard time getting pregnant, but I didn't know that for sure. Regardless, we were ready and wanting to become parents when an opportunity came about to bring Leeann into our family. We jumped at the chance to become parents. And parents we became--literally over night. One night it was the two of us and the next day we had a toddler!

Your brother came around in 2005, about a year and a half after we had decided to start a family, and a year after Leeann had made us parents for the first time. My pregnancy with him was a doozy, but I loved him from the moment I found out that life was growing in my womb!

When your siblings were 2 and 4 your daddy came home one day and said, "I think it's time to have a third kid." This news was much to my surprise and delight because daddy had previously said he was pretty sure that two was the perfect number of children. I not-so-secretly wanted more kids.

To make a long story short, we decided to pursue the adoption of a teenage girl, who ended up being placed with another family. Shortly thereafter though, we ended up becoming foster parents. Over the next 6 years we would foster 19 children. I thought that maybe child #3 would come from one of our fostering situations. But alas, it never did.

Somewhere during that time we decided to try for another biological child. We spent years learning about infertility. Our dreams of another child were being crushed month after month after month.

Finally, in September of 2011, I learned I was pregnant! I sent my baby off to kindergarten knowing that there was finally a new baby growing in my tummy! Our joy grew into heartache over the next two months, however, as we learned that the baby in my tummy wasn't growing. Eventually, we came to accept the fact that this little one was not meant to join our family here on Earth.

On that baby's due date, I found out I was expecting again! But my joy once again turned to grief when we had to let go of those dreams just 5 days later--on Mother's Day no less.

After losing these two little ones, mommy's heart couldn't take it anymore. We decided to put aside our dream of having child #3. The grief and sorrow was simply too much to bear. I knew I needed to be healthy and present for your big sister and big brother, and I was having a hard time doing that while hanging onto the dream that I was powerless to fulfill.

So I let go of my dream, though the desire never disappeared. I always felt in my heart like God had more in store for our family, but clearly, he was not opening any doors by which to make that happen. In 2014 we let our foster care certification lapse, since we didn't know what the future would hold for our family. Another potential avenue closed.

Now, here we are today. It's 2016. Your sister is 12 and your brother is 10. I had long given up on having a third child, until early April when much to my surprise I learned that were growing in my tummy. Miracle of all miracles, I marvel that God is growing life within my womb after so many years of wishing and wanting and waiting!

I don't know if God will allow you to join our family here on Earth, or if you are meant to join your siblings in Heaven until we get to meet you face to face one day. But, what I do know, is that our whole family is choosing to celebrate every day of your life. We are grateful for the joy that you have already brought to our hearts and we anxiously await seeing what God has in store for you and for the future of our family!

Dear little one, I love you more than you could ever imagine. I look forward to writing more stories about how you are growing and changing in the weeks and months to come. I'm so excited to meet you one day!  

Friday, April 29, 2016

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Icing

I pulled into my driveway last night after an event at church and suddenly remembered two things:

1.) I had to drop my car of at the mechanic before morning.

2.) I promised my favorite client (my husband) that I would make him some carrot cake cupcakes for a retirement potluck at work along with a couple of individual cupcake boxes for the retirees.

Mind you, this was at 9 o'clock at night.

My husband, being oh-so understanding, drove with me to the shop and then we put the kids to bed and I got started on yet another late night baking adventure.

Honestly though, despite my best intentions, it's just kind of what I do.

Luckily, I'm also in the middle of a delightful show about horses on Netflix and Rob got me some wireless headphones for my Birthday this year, so it's not so rough spending my evenings in the kitchen.

And despite the mess, I enjoy when something beautiful and yummy comes out of my kitchen that ends up being a blessing to others!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

German Chocolate Cupcakes

German chocolate cupcakes. Oh, so delicious!

I didn't know I liked German chocolate until I made these cupcakes. I think the only German chocolate nutty coconut topping I had ever tasted had probably been from a can, or on a cake from the store made from whatever ingredients allow it to have a shelf life of several months. (Seriously, next time you're at the grocery store look at the expiration date on cakes in the bakery. "Fresh" baked cakes can have a shelf life of 3+ months. My cakes and cupcakes have a shelf life of 3 days. I hate to think about what's in a product that allows it to stay "fresh" that long.)

Anyway, I made these for a customer and I absolutely fell in love with this dreamy almond coconut topping. I may or may not have eaten by the spoonful. You know, for quality control purposes...

It's a chocolate cupcake iced with chocolate ganache and topped with a German chocolate filling. A few almond slices and an inverted chocolate chip work together to make a flower that adds the perfect bit of class to this already delicious cupcake!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Spring Family Update

Photo: September 2015

I feel like we are long overdue to give a family update.

2015 went by in the blink of an eye. I had grand visions of writing more on the blog. But I didn’t. So I figured I’d write a Christmas letter. But well, I didn’t do that either. New Year’s came and went (and I missed the opportunity to finally get that letter out), but hey, lookie here, I’m so early for my Easter letter. Aren’t you proud?

Instead of a year in review however, I’m going to give you some of the answers to our most frequently asked questions:


How is your family? In short, we’re doing well. 2014 was a really difficult year for all of us. 2015 was a year of healing. We’re already categorizing 2016 as a year of hope. We are looking forward to seeing what God has in store for our family in the year to come!

Our days are currently filled with a whole lot of education. The kids are doing online school (see below), but the latest news on the horizon is that Rob is also going back to school! Rob is in the process of getting his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in non-profit management. He’s doing this online through Corban University, so he’s able to juggle work and school. So far, anyway.

Everyone around here is studying something these days!

Are you still in Albany? Yes. However, in the past two years we’ve mentally considered a move to Salem, Klamath Falls, St. Helens, Monmouth, Dallas, Tigard, Corvallis, Portland, Oakridge (all in Oregon), Ellensburg, Spangle (Washington), Anaheim, Lake Forest, San Diego, Santa Clarita and Dos Palos (California), Denver (Colorado), and Phoenix (Arizona). We’ve also considered moving to Guam, Thailand, and Canada.

But yes, we’re still in Albany! 

Rob- Looking quite dapper!
Is Rob still working in Salem? No. He actually got a job in May in the Albany office of the Oregon Employment Department. He is helping local businesses recruit employees, while helping people who are unemployed find jobs. We are grateful to have him so close, and he is very grateful to shave his daily commute down from 90 minutes to 8 minutes.

Is Rob looking to get back into ministry? Ultimately we would really love to get back into ministry. We both feel strongly that God has called Rob to be a pastor, and he has called our family to serve the local church. We’ve knocked on some doors, filled out some applications and even done some interviews, but God has not yet opened the door for us to walk through. We are prayerful that our next ministry will be one that is a really good fit for our family and that our family will be a really good fit for that church. We’re willing to wait patiently until God makes our next move clear, but we’d both be lying if we didn’t confess that we’d prefer God to open those doors sooner rather than later!

My primary job at this point
is being a fake patient for
medical students to practice on!
Are you working? Leeann (12) asked me recently what exactly it is that I do, as in, what is my job title? Rob and I both laughed because the truth is, I have several part-time jobs in such a wide variety of fields that it's hard to put a label on exactly what it is that I "do" for a living. In this past year I have worked as a church secretary, I have filled in at a school as a secretary and a kindergarten assistant, I have worked as a standardized patient, a standardized patient coach, and a standardized patient educator at a medical school, I have provided personal life-coaching and home organization assistance, I’ve done photography, I have also taught cooking classes to kids and created baked goods as part of my small home bakery business.

In the past I have also been employed doing foster care, childcare, retreat speaking, event planning, and wedding coordinating.

Additionally, in an unpaid capacity I enjoy writing, financial coaching, instructing, and assisting wherever there is a need for my skills and abilities. Hence, the lengthy list of part-time employment!

So, back to the question, “Am I working?” Yes. However, I am intentionally pulling back on work to spend more time educating my kids at home. At this point I am mostly focusing on being available for acting jobs at the medical school, though I’m still open to picking up a random job here or there as needed.

How’s the bakery thing going? I officially got my kitchen licensed in July of 2015! I’ve spent a lot of time baking and dreaming and thinking and praying about what God might want me to do with this desire stirring within my heart. I’ve mentally done everything from baking on occasion to opening up my own commercial bakery.

The reality is that I enjoy baking and creating beautiful tasty treats. I like taking pictures of food and writing about my experiences with food. I love sharing my creations with people! However, it’s not something that I want to do every day, and it’s not something that I want to put pressure on to make enough money to cover regularly occurring family expenses. Therefore, I think I’m going to leave my little Robyn’s Nest Bakery in the hobby category for now. I will continue to bake and share my creations, and sell the works of my hands as the opportunity arises, but I’m not going to work diligently at turning it into a profitable business at this time. 

Leeann and Titus on their
"First day" of 4th and 6th grade.
I call that the beauty of home education!
What are your kids doing for school? This year both of my kids are doing online school through Albany Online. They both went to public school in a dual immersion program up until recently. We started homeschooling/online schooling Leeann spring of 2015 and decided to include Titus on this new family adventure in the fall of 2015 as well.

Albany Online is an online public school that uses K12 curriculum. So technically, we are still connected to the school district, but they are doing their school work at home. They both have teachers they receive some instruction from, but most of their instruction comes from me (their learning coach). For Leeann we are doing a little bit of a hybrid actually, some K12 and some of our own independent study curriculum. We are still trying to find the best fit for everyone!

She just throws her arms around me and
leans against me like it's no big deal!
Is Leeann taller than you? Yes. Really, it’s hardly even a question anymore, because it’s so obvious now. But still, we frequently get comments on her towering height from people who haven’t seen us in a while! Leeann (12) is nearing 5’4”. Titus (10) hit 4’2” recently. I’m holding steady at 4’11”… and a half, for the record! I feel like my kids are growing so fast. In fact, they’re hardly kids anymore. We’ve definitely entered the preteen zone and we’re quickly coming into the full-fledged teen years.

I know these days won't
last forever. I treasure every
one of them!

We are enjoying this stage in life with our family. Our kids are a blessing and a joy, and our love for each other continues to grow and develop in ways that I never could have imagined when we started out on this journey together of life and love 15 years ago! This truly is a sweet stage in life.

Many blessings from our family to yours,