Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dining with the Characters

When we decided to go to Disney, we had a lot of catching up to do with Joelle in terms of exposing her to Disney movies.  For the past couple of weeks we've been pretty much doing a Disney marathon.  We agreed that everything would make a little more sense if she knew who all the characters were when we saw them.  I mean, if you are going to go to Disney- you might as well understand what's going on!  So, we scoured online shops for every movie we could get our hands on (don't even get me started on how hard it is to purchase movies because of the dadgum Disney vault). 

The hours of movie watching SO paid off... she was in awe every time we came across someone new.  She was pretty much starstruck :)  We especially had fun dining with several of our favorites!  

Lunch in Cinderella's castle was so special.  Everywhere we looked we saw a new princess.  The food was pretty yummy, too!
Breakfast with the Disney Junior characters was a blast also!  We just adore Doc McStuffins, so we all had a great time there :)
 We saved meeting Mickey for our very last night.  Joelle was starting to wonder where he was and why she hadn't taken a picture with him yet!!  It was so fun to surprise her... and the kiss on his nose says it all!
If you go to Disney you just have to do at least one special meal!  Totally worth the money seeing the look on Joelle's face!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What Joelle Wore :)

Let's talk about what's important... Joelle's Disney wardrobe.

Did I go overboard.

Probably so.

Some (particularly a man named Jared Lemons) may say I have a shopping problem.  

I like to think of it more as a hobby than as a problem. 

And, I love a theme.  I love a holiday shirt, a party theme, any reason to buy a new outfit pretty much.  So, why should going to Disney be any different??  Let's break it down.

First up... the outfits from Bella Grace Creations.  I bought the Tinkerbell outfit and Cinderella shirt.  They also have tons of other cute stuff!!
I also had new jammies every night for Joelle... she's going up in a size so she needed new pajamas anyways.  I bought all of them on clearance through the Disney Store.


Joelle has tons of princess dress-up clothes.  We could have easily slipped those on to take pictures, but I didn't want to carry them around with us (Joelle walked though the parks, we didn't use a stroller).  AND, it was hot during the day... who wants a whiny kid that is itchy and hot... not me!!  So, I found these PERFECT princess shirts that had just the right embellishments and the comfort for a hot day.  They are basically jazzed up t-shirts.  I *kinda* wish I had bought all of the ones she has in her shop!  They are from an Etsy shop called The Female Touch.
  I can't even tell you how many compliments we got on these shirts.  Jo got stopped by random strangers who played along like she was an actual princess.  It was such a hoot!
 To make things a little more special and magical, I kept all of these outfits a surprise.   She woke up to her outfit and sometimes a little present.  I bought a few goodies beforehand because I knew the toys at Disney would be pricey.  In effort to save a little money, I planned ahead as much as possible!
 Do you Zulilly??  I have a thing for daily deals... like I can't get enough.  I feel the NEED to buy them immediately because they are for a limited time only (ha!!).  I think they market people like me.  I bought Joelle several little Disney t-shirts on the cheap plus this super cute shirt from Bourbon Street Boutique.
 For our final night Joelle wore this very fun dress from Chloe Belle's Closet.  She's my go-to Etsy designer.  I just love her style and all of the personal touches.
And all of her bows came from One Stop Bow Shop.  I will more than likely never make a bow again because I am in LOVE with her bows.  They are such great quality and she has so many options!

I think that about covers it!  She'll let me dress her when she's a teenager, right?!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Highlights from Disney!

It's Spring Break here at the Lemons' household and we are all kinds of exhausted!  We just spent the last few days at Disney so today we are resting, relaxing, and doing laundry.  I sat down to go through the hundreds of pictures that we have from our trip, and I wanted to share a few of the highlights :)  I still have lots of pictures to go through and more to share, but these were some of our favorite ones!

Hopefully I'll be back to give you the down-low on our favorite moments, must-see spots, and Joelle's outfits!  But for now a nap is a must :))

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's Been 365 Days

365 days....that's how long it's been since we became a family.  Some days it feels like 365 years, and others feel like it has been about 365 seconds.  It's hard to believe that this time last year we woke up in Kinshasa, Congo and drove 2 hours to meet our 3 year old baby girl for the very first time.  I don't think we'll ever forget pulling up to the tall walls and hearing the voices of 25 kids singing in Lingala behind the security fence.  I remember them opening the gate and I quickly looked to see if Joelle would be standing there waiting....nope not there.  I remember wondering if she'd love me or be scared of me (I think she had a good mixture of both).  We walked around one corner, two, and then when we crossed the threshold of that third corner, THERE SHE WAS.  She was putting on shoes (and she's been obsessed with shoes since) and slowly making her way to Mama.  She hugged Mama tight around the neck....turned to me....and shook my hand (seriously?!)  And that was it....that was 365 days ago today.  February 7, 2013 is a day we'll never forget.

Some of you have the delivery room moment.  We missed out on that day.  But we have a moment we'll never forget....our first moment as a family happened 365 days ago.  Two broken people picked up a child that was broken, and together we all three became one un-broken family.

A lot has changed since that day.  Joelle has grown about 3 feet.  Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but she's grown so much!  She is fluent in English and is leading her entire Pre-K class in Math and Reading.  In just 365 days Amy and I have mastered the art of being the perfect parents (possibly another exaggeration).  Joelle is a citizen of the United States, and is getting ready to enroll in Kindergarten in just a few months.  She's riding a big girl bike, swimming, dancing, dominating on the soccer field, and learning more and more about Jesus from her Bible.  It's safe to say that although the last 365 days haven't been perfect, they have easily been the most blessed 365 days these three people have ever experienced.....and it's all by the grace of God.

We pray, every day, that Joelle would grow up to follow Jesus.  We pray that, because we've seen the love of God so many times over the last year and we want our daughter to experience that same goodness in Him.  We pray that our story would remind you of God's goodness, even when things aren't perfect in our own eyes.  And most of all, we're grateful to serve a God that unites broken people into one family....and it's not just the Lemons''s a family that goes much deeper....the family of our Father!

Thanks for following our journey over the past year.  It's been a wild ride.  I'd share more about the future of the Lemons' clan, but I'm pretty sure Amy has something ridiculous set up for that.  You'll have to excuse us if we're not around much today to chat....we're celebrating the 1 year birth of our family!

Not that we're winning an Oscar or anything, but we owe a HUGE thanks to quite a few people.  They know who they are....but two ladies at our agency fight so hard for our children in the Congo.  The stay up late so many nights, and work so hard to comfort families while we wait.  We are eternally grateful to these ladies and their hearts for our kiddos!  They are a blessing from God!  And we're so grateful for the country of DR Congo.  It's an amazing country with amazing people!  We can't wait to go back to visit.  Everyone was so great and helpful.  We don't really feel like we took a part of the Congo when Joelle came home with us....we really feel like they took a part of us.  We are forever grateful to the agencies there that help children find a home here in the U.S.  Hopefully, one day in eternity we'll be able to meet up with Joelle's bio family to tell them thank you again.  The short time we had with them wasn't much....but her dad's face is imprinted on my mind and heart every single day....I'll never forget the sacrifice he made for my beautiful daughter.  I'll never know the pain of his decision to allow Joelle to be adopted....but I hope he'll one day hear of the great things she's be able to do because of his decision.

365 days.....and here's to 365 more years!

Here's a little video I made {I asked Jared to use his speaking skills to write the post- the post that made me cry, go figure.  I should have asked him to make the video too because he's also better at media stuff, but oh well!  I had to contribute somehow ;)}.  It's eleven minutes long, but Joelle has given us so many precious and hysterical moments... I couldn't leave anything out!  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Getting Ready for Jo's Gotcha Day!

Joelle's Gotcha Day is quickly approaching!  I cannot, for the life of me, believe that it's been one year since we met Joelle.  I've said it 100 times before, and I'll probably say it 1,000 times more... it feels just like yesterday!

As seriously awful as this picture is, it's our last picture before meeting Joelle.
 Then that precious moment came... I will NEVER forget seeing Joelle for the first time.  She gave me a hug and shook Jared's hand.  It was hilarious and perfect.  

 Our first few days were definitely not all rainbows and unicorns.  Joelle was scared and in a state of shock, we were new parents.  BUT, God fit us together perfectly.  He blessed us with almost immediate bonding and gave us wisdom when dealing with our first adoption.  It didn't take long for Joelle to realize we were a family and that we were going to protect, love, and take care of her.  And, God gave us the ability to do all three!

I definitely never expected she would be such a hoot and crazy as can be, but at the same time be so caring and loving.  She definitely had our hearts LONG before we ever met her, but seeing those big brown eyes and toothless smile in person sure did seal the deal!

We intend to celebrate Joelle's Gotcha Day every year as a family... dinner, dessert, a few small gifts, and a meaningful present.  This year I made her a photo book because she LOVES looking through all of our old ones.  I can't wait for her to open it on Friday!  You should be able to click below to check out her Gotcha Day Book :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our Video!

We are coming up on our 1-year Gotcha Day with Joelle... can you believe it??!!  It feels like she has been with us forever, but it also feels like we were just in the Congo picking her up.  We will definitely be reminiscing over here next week on our first year with Miss Sassy, but until then we wanted to share a video that we did for our church's Christmas Eve service.  It *may* show us walking into meet Joelle at one point :) 
The Journey of His Grace - Lemons from Fellowship Forney on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Joelle's First Christmas!

Well, Christmas has come and gone in the Lemons' household.  We are currently sitting in a cleaned up house, tree in the attic, toys everywhere, and I am listening to Joelle try to convince Jared to let her sleep on the floor of our bedroom tonight :)  "But, it's Christmas, Papa... I'll scratch your feet...what do you want...cuddles?"

To say our day was anything less than exciting would be an understatement.  Joelle woke up with a huge smile and it stayed there for the entire day.  In her prayers tonight she said, "Jesus, thank you for Christmas and for letting me be in Forney for my first Christmas."  I mean, seriously, just melt my heart.

We had so much fun going 100% overboard for her first Christmas.  But, I must say... it was totally worth it!  That toothless smile was worth a million bucks! 

Here's a little bit of our Christmas action :)

She just adores this Elmo... although she can't say his name for the life of her!
 As Joelle would say... "A bicycle that fits my booty!!"

 Before tearing into our presents :)

 Did you get me Princess Sofia?!
 YAY!  You did!
 The biggest surprise of all was the bounce house that we bought at the last minute.  We saw it online and clicked purchase within an instant.  She loves to cartwheel, roll, and flip so this was the perfect gift for her!  I could literally hear her giggling from inside the house :) 

 After we finished our family Christmas, my parents and sister came over for a little more present-opening!
 She LOVES her "monica" from Poppy!
 But, we weren't finished yet... after lunch it was time to head to Jared's family for MORE Christmastime fun!

 Isn't this the cutest little pillow pallet from her Aunt Li-ia?!  I foresee lots of movie watching in our future!
 And, seriously... because my child is just about as weird as they come, she wanted a Spiderman costume.  She really doesn't know who Spiderman is, but she already loves a good superhero.  Gigi and Poppy got her the costume, and I literally had to pry that sucker off of her.  Don't you just love how she added the bow... too funny!
 Spiderman tending to her baby from Aunt Anna!
 And we couldn't end the night without taking some more family pictures.  

We are just so blessed to have this little girl in our lives.  Everything is so much sweeter with her here.  You might have to force the smile off of my face at this point, because today could not have been anymore perfect than it was!

Oh, and if you were wondering... I have a child sleeping on my floor.  So, her Christmas wish came true :)