Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours we wish you a very merry and blessed Christmas.

"Today in the town of David

a Savior has been born to you:

he is Christ the Lord."

~ Luke 2:11

Love, Meredith, Matt & Gabe

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


A year ago today I thought that all my hope was gone. We had a visit from a new caseworker; one who enlightened us on the fact that the program our initial caseworker told us about, the foster-adopt program, did not exist. And while we didn't appreciate the cold and abrupt approach she had, we did appreciate her honesty. We needed to know the truth.

But the pain that overcame me when she told us that unless we fostered first there was no chance we would ever have a child under the age of 3 was paralyzing. Utterly paralyzing. I remember sitting in our spare room (the one with the state required crib, toys and other infant necessities) rocking back and forth just trying to hold myself together. And failing miserably. After lots of tears and consoling by my always strong husband, I managed to get it together, but for the first time in my life, I felt hopeless.

Christmas last year was not something I enjoyed, but endured. Leaving Christmas Eve service early was necessary to my resolve to appear unbroken. It hurt so hard to see all of the families at service together, wondering when we would have a family of our own at church service. However, those reasons, the reasons I felt broken and hopeless had nothing to do with my relationship with the God but with the world. Like so many other times, I put my hope in the world, instead of in Him and on December 23, 2008 I lost that hope.

And somehow we made it through Christmas and into the new year. The new year led us to a renewed passion for a family. We met MCB and began a new adoption journey. Then we found AGCI and our hearts were pulled to adopt from Ethiopia. But it wasn't these new steps toward a family we'd taken that began to give me my hope back. It wasn't the family and friends that stood next to me to help me carry my burden or the encouragement they provided, although that helped.

What changed was I made the decision to no longer place some of my hope in the world. After reading Lamentations 3: 19-27:

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall

I remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him;

it is god to wait patiently for the salvation of the Lord.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

and really listening to the Lord, I made the concious decison to put all of my hope in God. And placing that hope in Him made all the difference. I was able to pull myself up from my personal pit of despair, delve deep for patience and find peace in prayer. But it was still hard for me to be happy. Until the internet daily devotional I subscribe to sent me this:

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation and constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

After reading that I decided that while life wasn't where I thought it would be, it was where it was supposed to be and I would do a better job with hoping, patience and praying. Ask Matt, I am totally the prayerer of the family. Not that Matt doesn't pray but I pray all the time. And this Christmas while my hope has been restored and my own personal miracle is laying in my arms I'm going to continue to pray. I'm going to pray for the wonderful women in my life who are longing for a family, for all the couples battling infertility and families waiting for a referal through adoption.

And my advice for those who are waiting; whether you're waiting for a child, a spouse or just figuring out what's next. Take heart and hold Psalm 27:14 close to your heart. "Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. "

After waiting and re-finding my hope, I realize this: All that I have, all that I'll ever have has nothing to do with me but with Him and His grace.

A year ago I lost hope... but God knew better (Of course). And He knew that some 8 months later a little boy would be born and God had already chosen me as his mother. If only I'd known what was to come, I wouldn't have been so desolate. But I needed that desolation to teach me the proper place to store my hope.

Praying you and yours find HOPE this Christmas season.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Hi guys, it's me, Gabe! I always see my Mama typing or reading on the 'puter thing and figured I'd give it a try. According to my parents, today is a big day. Honestly, being this little everyday feels like a big day but they're older, bigger and maybe a little bit smarter (for now) so I'll just take their word for it.

Today I'm 4 months old, and from what little mathematical skills I have attained thus far, I know it means I've been alive for 1/3 of a year. And boy has it been a busy year. It may seem that alls I do is eat, sleep and cuddle but let me tell you, there are some really unrealistic expectations in this big ole world.

First, I'm supposed to drink this white, stinky stuff they call milk. Now, I've seen my Daddy's milk and while they look the same I do NOT think we're drinking the same stuff. And on top of that, they changed the 'milk' I was drinking and while this new 'soy milk' makes me a lot less scratchy and my poops more normal (uh-oh, Mama said that I'm not supposed to share things like that, something about too much information. Oh well, Daddy said its okay for boys to talk about poop) it smells even worse than the first stuff they fed me! Everyone always comments on how big I am and that I don't miss a meal, what they don't realize is I just drink it as fast as I can to get the torture over with. I can't wait to drink milk like Daddy... and eat chips. Daddy's chips always look so good.

Okay, I went off on a little tangent there, but back to all these unrealistic expectations. Number two is the fact that everyone kisses my cheeks. I know I'm super cute and my cheeks are too, but give me a break people, unless cannibalism is an eacceptable practice here - please stop eating my cheeks!

And my Mama and Daddy expect me to do this exercise called tummy time. I think I do a great job at it, but they always push for me to do it longer and longer. I wonder how they would do laying on their belly's with only my little arms to push them up. I do it because, well, I think this is just one of those arguements I'll let them win; just picking my battles. Helps them get some confidence in their parenting skills too.

One area I will NOT let them win... is sleep. How dare they expect me to sleep in my craddle all night long when they're sleeping in this big soft bed. And, to top it off, they expect me to sleep alone! I know, I know, you're probably as stunned as I am. So, after a few hours of sleep I usually wake up and get Mama. Sometimes, I try to get tricky, and give her something called 'false hope' and sleep in my crib for most of the night. But most of the time I get lonely and just want some company. She's wrapped so tightly around my little finger that it only takes a few whimpers and then she holds me. Mama says she doesn't want me to wake Daddy up cause he's gotta go work at the mill all day but I know better; she likes to cuddle too. And, if I can be completely honest, (but don't tell her) I like to take advantage of this whole wrapped-around-the-finger thing for as long as possible.

Another unrealistic expectation they have is for me to wear these pirate patches. I'm not sure what they're really called but Mama always calls me her little pirate when I wear them. Let me tell you why these pirate patches are so awful. First, they block my eye that sees real well and second they itch. I'm getting pretty smooth at taking them off, but alas, each time I take it off, they put a new one. And, while I can't tell time yet, I think they're making me wear them longer now. I'm not sure how, or when, but I'm gonna win this pirate patch battle.

Besides the afforementioned 'issues' I think life is going pretty well. Actually, I love life - I spend all day smiling, giggling and having fun. If I had to write a personal ad for myself, I think it'd say something like "Male, short and cute with a sweet, toothless smile. Lover of snuggling, the color lime, wrist rattles and riding in a sling. Enjoys reaching and grasping, kicking my legs, reading books. Dislkes 'milk,' sleep and pirate patches."

On more serious note...thanks for letting me talk to you and also, thanks for all the prayers! Mama always says that there is a whole world of people out 'there' (not sure where though) praying for me. She says it because of all these prayers and God that I continue to be the miracle that I am. Hence, the shirt I'm wearing in my 4 month picture. I'm not sure how or when, but one of these days I'm going to choose what Mama wears. She says I look cute, but sometimes I think she has just a little too much fun picking out what I wear.

Have a great Christmas. It's my first Christmas and from everything I've learned about Christmas... this is a BIG deal.

Hopefully I'll be able to talk to you guys again soon. If Mama will let me.... pick your battles Gabe, pick your battles.

Love, Mr. Cuteness Himself

All these pictures could wear a boy out!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hippopotamuses , Traditions and Tom's

I love Christmas music. I love it so much that I can frequently be found listening to Christmas CD's in April or September. But not July, that's just way too cliche for me. And to further indulge my love of Christmas music, the best radio station in Northeast Ohio 95.5 the Fish plays Christmas music from Thanksgiving through Christmas day. And it may just be the best station because of the aforementioned Christmas music bonanza!

I love spiritual Christmas songs like Away In A Manger, Mary Did You Know and Silent Night and traditional songs like Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree put me in a cheery Christmas mood. My favorite Christmas songs are by Third Day: Jesus, Light of the World and Christmas Like a Child. I absolutely LOVE both of these songs and recommend them to everyone. Especially if you have a heart for adoption you will love Christmas Like a Child. But with all of these wonderful songs there is one song that just brings my heart pure, unadulterated joy! And if you haven't heard it yet, well I won't even go there because I can not believe that everyone in the US has heard I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. And if you haven't heard it, are you living under a rock? Because this song is fabulous! Absolutely fabulous!

Alas, the only thing I don't like about the most fabulous song, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, is that it doesn't reflect anything about the real meaning of Christmas. And that is something I want to always be paramount for us, and of course for Gabriel.

To keep the real meaning of Christmas, along with the idea that after Jesus, being with family and friends is the best gift we could recieve this day we are trying to start/carry out family traditions with Gabe. Going to a tree farm and cutting down our tree is one of our traditions. Attending Eve service is also a tradition we hold dear to us. As well is the reading of the Christmas Story from the book of Luke Christmas morning before we do anything else.

And I'm so excited to carry these traditions on this year with Gabe, but Matt and I wanted to domore. More to keep the real meaning of Christmas alive to Gabriel. So this year, and for each year to come Gabe will get 3 gifts: something he needs, something he wants and a gift from the heart/a way to give back. There are many reasons for this but the main reasons are: a.) if 3 presents was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us (Gabe) b.) the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas drive me nuts and by keeping Christmas simple we're keeping the real meaning closer to our hearts.

So while we're not 100% what we're getting Gabe for Christmas yet, please do not point out that Christmas is only 10 days a way, we thought we knew what his 3rd present was going to be. Deep in our hearts we know that one day Gabe will have a sibling from Ethiopia and Tom's Shoes gives back in Ethiopia. And then Tom's Shoes took their Tiny Tot's shoes off the internet and is relaunching them soon. I had hoped that they would be released before Christmas, but as Christmas is now only 10 days away, I'm wondering what to do. Do we find a different gift for Gabe? Or do we give him a Tom's shoes flag and order him shoes when they're released?

And I know that Gabe won't know that it's Christmas or care about opening gifts and eating yummy foods. Of course Gabe will love the Christmas music singing we'll do, he is the first person ever to smile when I sing, hehe! And of course he'll love visiting with family, the social baby that he has become, but I just want this Christmas to be special for him; it being his 1st and all and our 1st as a family of 3. And I know just having Gabe here to celebrate the birth of Jesus will make it remarkably special.

And now I'm looking for more (or different) traditions for us to do as a family. I think next year we'll bake cookies for the elderly in our neighborhood and deliver them. In the upcoming year, I'm going to dive into the Advent calander and old Advent traditions and see what we traditions we can bring into our family, traditions that keep Jesus and kindness to others at the forefront of our Christmas celebration.

So now I ask you, do you have any Christmas traditions that you and your family do? Something for the month of December, the advent season or even Christmas Eve or Christmas Day that you would like to share with our family. If all of the readers respond with a tradition or idea, well, we may have 5 new traditions to partake in next year :) Haha!

And, no post is complete without a picture of our baby Gabe:

Peace & Love, Meredith

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tid-Bits, The Good and the Bad

I can't believe it's almost the middle of December! Where does the time go? December has been a very busy month for the LaGorga's as we anxiously await Gabe's first Christmas.

So how have we been keeping busy? Well, lets see!

Last week we had to take Gabe to the pediatricians to evaluate his rash. The minor eczema-like rash turned into what looked like 3rd degree burns covering his trunk, back, arms and legs... as well as his sweet little face (where the rash always had been). Besides learning that Gabe definitely has eczema, I learned something else: to rely on my instincts. Everyone (doctors included) kept telling us that it was just regular old dry baby skin.... and I went along with it because, well doctors know best even if my stomach felt a little uneasy. But no more - if Matt and I think somethings up, somethings up!

And getting his eczema in control was fairly simple - a switch to soy formula and a little 1/2% cortisone cream mixed with aquaphor - and VOILA! Soft, smooth baby skin!

By the way, does anyone know how to get aquaphor out of cloth diapers? A few of the ones he wore initially became slathered in aquaphor and it's resulted in them becoming quite a bit less absorb ant!

Speaking of cloth diapers... our favorite cloth diapers, Kissaluvs Contours, are now too small for Gabe! They advertise that they'll fit up to a 9 month old, and while I don't think Gabe is quite as big as a 9 month old... he's definitely not the size of the average almost 4 month old! And it works for me because I love juicy babies! So we ordered some new diapers and I've been busy washing them over and over and over again to get them at their most absorbent.

Gabe in just his diaper and socks

Gabe's bedroom is also ready... if I were just ready for him to move into his bedroom. I know it's only 4 feet across the hall, but c'mon... it's 4 feet across the hall! We have all the monitors and I know he'll love sleeping in his crib, I just love having him right next to me. And its super convenient to have him in his cradle right next to our bed. I don't even have to step a foot on the cold wood floor to get him out of bed!

And another piece of information... do you want a new computer? A few lovely ladies whose blogs I follow are giving them away on their blog. Alls you have to do is, leave a comment and you're entered into their contest. Click here, here or here. And if you win... well you better be super sweet to me since I told you about the contest. And if I win, well that would just be super cool.

Along with getting ready for the holidays (like how I switch subjects) I've been watching my good friend Sarah's 2 girls. And, if Gabe's enthusiasm means anything at all, it means he'd love himself some siblings. Gabe spends his days fascinated by London and Waverly; watching them run, climb and play all day. He even gives me disgusted looks some days when it's just the two of us. Looks that seem to say "are you kidding me? it's just the two of us today?" I can't believe him sometimes, like I'm not as fun as a 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old. Pu-lease! Because I am A LOT of fun.

This past month (well the end of November) Matt, Gabe and I had the opportunity to meet some dear friends we met through the Internet. I suppose some people would say if you haven't met in real life then you're not really friends... so to all those people, we're really friends now! The Marruffo family was visiting some family that lived in Ohio and ventured over to meet! They're as terrific in person as they are on the Internet... and their children, Alec and Cece.... LOVE 'EM! It was so wonderful to meet people that you love and pray for, and that love and pray for you.

Becky, Alec, Gabe and Cece (and my nephew Caleb in the background)

And now the good:

Monday Gabe went to the eye doctor. I dreaded going to see Dr. R and not because we don't like him. He's fabulous! Always remembers our Gaby-baby, is encouraging and gives advice... and the biggest bonus: wants to avoid surgery for Gabe's eye almost as much as we do! And on too the semi-good news! After hearing it from just about everybody, the doctor confirmed that Gabe's eye is better! Just a little bit, but enough to avoid going back for 2 months and... if it opens just a little bit more, we will be able to totally avoid stitching Gabe's eye lid up! And along with his eyelid raising, his vision is still developing on target :) All those prayers are working!

Now, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Gabe's eye isn't still working exactly as its supposed too. It doesn't look in or up (or was it down?) as much as its supposed too and surgery may be totally inevitable but we will take each step forward with praise, thanksgiving and a lot of joy! The only down-side is that we had to increase his patch time on his left eye to 1 1/2 hours each day. And with his super developed fine motor skills, that means we usually use 4 or 5 patches a day. But, I am super impressed by his almost super-powered, stealth-like finger moves. I swear (not really) I can blink and off goes the patch - Gabe's a tricky one, that's for sure! I think he has the mischievous side like his daddy....

And now the bad.... Thursday we went to see his neurologist. This appointment was also downtown like his eye appointment, however, this appointment was at 4:00 pm. And that meant, when it was time to leave we were in the thick of rush hour traffic - UGH! Take a hungry mama and an almost 4 month old who was just poked, prodded and only wanted to be cuddled by his mama combined with the usual horrible rush hour traffic exponentially increaded by the additional traffic for the Browns vs Steelers game and what do you get.... a LONG ride home.

And while I was concerned about the traffic and driving downtown by myself I wasn't too concerned with the actual appoinment. And that may be where I went wrong in the first place... I wasn't prepared. After an examination by Dr. F and his associate, the results were in. Gabe has a tone problem on his left side. He's way too stiff; his hand is fisted and his reflexes too strong. The assumption is that this is caused by the schyzencephaly (he's missing part of his brain on right side). He also has a tone problem on the right side of his neck. It has a fancy name but I am way too comfortable to get off the couch and see what its called. This is most likely caused by the agensis of his corpus collasaum. The doctor was more (or most) concerned with his eye. While he noticed lateral movement that the eye doctor didn't, his concern arises that this eye problem isn't related to either the schyzencephaly or the agensis of his c.c.

So the doctor ordered some physical therapy for Gabriel's tone problems and doesn't want to wait until Gabe is 6 months old for his MRI. To say this makes us nervous is an understatement. I know it's just an MRI but its an MRI for my baby and he'll have to be sedated for it. And sedation in itself can be a problem. But after lots of careful thought and prayers, Gabe's MRI is scheduled for January 6.
Other than Gabe's doctors appointments and all of the fun stuff, we've had some other worries too. My best friend Natalie's mom Dianne (who happens to be my mom's best friend and who's son Wyatt happens to be one of Gabe's best buddies - well they will be once they understand that it's impossible not to be:) fell in the bathtub the day before Thanksgiving. Dianne was found unconscious by her husband and no one is totally sure how long she was under water. After being unconscious for a few days and being put into a medically-induced coma to help her body heal; she finally woke up and is now on the road to recovery. However, the road to recovery seems steep and I (along with all of my family and friends) would covet your prayers that she has a full and total recovery and is able to grow old watching her youngest grandson and Gabe grow big and strong.

Gabe and Dianne

To top off those worries, Wednesday my Mom was admitted into the hospital. While they've figured out what caused the internal bleeding and stopped it the doctors are unable to figure out what caused her left arm and leg to go numb. Our family is thinking she had another stroke because of her history for strokes, but the doctors aren't sure. And we're just happy she's feeling better. Hopefully she'll be home soon.

My Mom with the 3 youngest of her 5 grandsons

Life has definitely been keeping us busy and while we've had our ups and downs this past month we can not believe how remarkably blessed we are and could not be more grateful this Christmas season.
Love & Blessings, Meredith

And of course I couldn't post without a few pictures of the King of Cute himself :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finding Christmas

After the wonderous last few months we've had, you'd find it hard to believe that I'm having trouble 'getting into the spirit.' But I am.... and it has nothing to do with the Spirit, if you know what I mean. It has to do with everything else.

And everything else just happens to include the massive consumerism taking place negating the real reason for Christmas, the insane increase in the amount of blow-up yard ornaments while the number of manger scenes dwindles, the children in Target crying "I want, I want" when there are so many children just crying for a meal to fill their empty stomachs.

All of this, is keeping me out of the Christmas Spirit. Would I feel this way if I didn't have Gabe? I think so. I think this journey God has placed me on; opening my eyes (and heart) to the world around me would've changed me whether I was a mom or not.

Realizing how blessed I am has not only made me extraordinary grateful but also dealt me a handful of guilt. Guilt over all of the material things I have that I never use or wear. Guilt over all the instances I thought I desperately needed something when it was just a want. Guilt that I have way more than I need but still want more.

But this guilt is a good thing; it has made me aware. More aware of all of my many blessings. Better aware of the life I want to lead and the life I want Gabe to live. I want Gabe to know the true meaning of Christmas. Presents are fun, food is yummy and it's great to be with family... but I want Gabe to always know why we celebrate Christmas.

His little shirt from Faith Baby is a good reminder:

and we're working on finding and implementing other Christmas traditions - traditions that still allow Gabe to be a child relishing in the spirit of Christmas while always using Jesus' birthday as the only reason we celebrate.

Hoping you and yours are having a wonderful Advent season.

Love & Blessings,

Monday, December 7, 2009

Going Hunting.....

The first year Matt and I lived in our house we started a few traditions - one of them being going to a tree farm and cutting down our tree. We bundle up, walk for what seems like miles and then find what we consider to be the perfect tree.

The first year we got a short, fat tree. It was so little and fit quite well in the corner. And we had a total of....10 ornaments :) I couldn't have imagined a more perfect tree for our first Christmas on Lawndale. Matt and I loved sitting together on the couch (we only had one couch so we had to sit together) basking in the glow of our beautifully colored lights.

The next year we got a Charlie Brown-esque tree. Now it had lots of branches but it also had lots of holes. But one side, was PERFECT! And that one perfect side was displayed grandly from the corner it was placed in. We shopped the after Christmas sale the year before and this year, our tree had many more ornaments! And we agreed, that this tree too was just as good as the first.

So when the first Saturday in December rolled around this year we were ready. It required a little bit more planning to go but this year, hunting for our Christmas tree couldn't have been more special. Because this year it was not just Matt and I looking for the perfect tree... but it was the three of us.

Ready to go find our tree....

After lots and lots of walking we had our "Griswald Moment" and found "the" tree.....

After cutting it down, tying it to the roof of the SUV and driving home.... the tree was up in its stand and ready to decorate!

With a little help from his Daddy, Gabe hung the first ornament on the tree.... a star with the word "HOPE" on it. Because this year, along with the real reason of Christmas; having Gabe is giving us just a little bit extra hope.

We are looking forward to this Christmas season; celebrating the birth of our Savior, rejoicing with family and friends and relishing in our very many blessings.

Love & Blessings, Meredith

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

His First Turkey Day

Gabe's 1st Thanksgiving was perfect! Lots of good food, lots of time with friends and family. But mostly remembering all of our blessings and being so very grateful for them all; the good and the bad. God has blessed us, taught us and brought us so far since last Thanksgiving. And this year, we were grateful for it all. But especially grateful for the mountains and valley's that brought us to this little one....

Our stuffed turkey and our little turkey

Gabe and his Daddy

Great Grandpa Al and Popo trying to carve the turkey.

Ready to eat....

Gabe and his Auntie Annie

Gabe and his Great Grandma's
And no matter where this journey takes us, we will remember to be thankful.... for the ups, for the downs and everything in the middle!
Love & Blessings,