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it's almost fall, ya'll!

this week our fall activities resume. back to bible study fellowship (BSF) on tuesday mornings and mothers of pre-schoolers (MOPS) every other friday morning. it's been a bit surreal thinking back to where i was this time last year. in the midst of my battle with insomnia/anxiety/depression, not wanting to go to anything. embarrassed for people to see me in such a state of distress and despair. wanting to hide away from the world, yet knowing i needed to reach out. and i did reach out. and god brought about so much growth as i crawled out of my cave and into the light. it was a long, slow process. but it has been so worth it.

the main components of BSF are discussion group and lecture. about 500 women are in attendance and they break up into discussion groups of about 15 women each before the lecture each week. there is a main teacher who lectures and a substitute teacher who serves as her backup and also leads workshops throughout the year on various topics after class. the substitute teacher leads the welcome session which happens at the beginning of each semester. for this, the new attendees break off from the rest of the group (who have already been assigned discussion groups) and hear about the organization and what to expect before being placed in a group the next week (if they decide to continue). last year, when i was a newbie in the welcome session, the woman who was the substitute teacher shared about how BSF gave her a community of women to support her through struggles with her own physical health. another woman was invited by the substitute teacher to share in the welcome session how BSF had impacted her life and echoed the theme of it providing a community to share struggles and support and encourage one another through difficult times. that was when i knew i should stay. i knew i needed that.

this year, my discussion group leader from last year is the substitute teacher and led the welcome session. she called me a few weeks back and asked if i would be willing to share in the welcome session. i gave an enthusiastic "yes!" because i knew how much the woman who spoke last year influenced my decision to continue to come. how cool is it that my former discussion group leader is now the substitute teacher and felt led by god to ask me to share with the new attendees. i was so honored. our god is so kind. full circle right there, ya know?

last year as i turned onto the road that led to the church, i saw traffic and thought there must be an accident. but the traffic ended up being all the women pulling into the church parking lot. i thought i was coming to a bible study with maybe 20 women. but i was walking into a group of 500. last year this gave me anxiety. this year it made me happy! i was excited to be one of the many coming back to BSF. i knew where i was going and what i was doing, and i wanted to be there.

last year i walked in fearful, anxious, and feeling intimidated by the sheer number of women. i saw two familiar faces from my MOPS group. that gave me a little courage. but i was still uncomfortable. i attended the welcome session with the intent not to come back. i sat as a newbie and listened to women who had spent so many years in BSF share how god had used it for good in their lives. this year i walked in with a feeling of coming home, with anticipation for what this year will hold, with excitement to meet the women in my discussion group. i saw women from my discussion group last year, women from my MOPS group, new women from my new discussion group. i attended the welcome class but this time just for five minutes, to speak to the group of the challenges i overcame to be there and how god used BSF to speak to me. i had the chance to give god glory for what he has done in me, for the growth that has happened over the last year, and to encourage other women to come and see what god has for them at BSF. what a sweet time it was for me. i just marvel at the kindness of god in that.

at the end of last year, i had asked my leader if i could somehow be placed in a group with women of color. the leadership prayerfully places each woman into a discussion group. my leader wasn't sure how that might be requested as they don't place women in groups by race or ethnicity. but she did think of asking that i be placed with a certain leader, in my case a leader of color. though i wasn't placed in that leader's group after all, i do see already how god is orchestrating things in a way i hadn't anticipated. one of the women in my group adopted transracially earlier this year, and i had met with her to talk about her experience last spring. she's also my MOPS table leader this year! seems like god wants us to be friends. another woman in the group who has four kids, her two youngest are adopted. though i didn't get what i had asked for, a group with women of color, god blessed me with something else: women who have walked the road that david and i will soon be walking (if god wills!). and i am thankful. back to praying for god to show me how to naturally make new friends of color, and open my eyes to the opportunities right in front of me. believing that he knows what i need better than i do, and that he's orchestrating something really cool for this year.

david, bina, and i enjoyed our last hurrah as a family of three (again, god willing!) on our family vacation in boston over labor day weekend. we found out at our last adoption class that its taking about 10 weeks to get a court date in wayne county to establish legal placement. and without legal placement, one cannot take a child out of state. so that means we're not traveling from now until legal placement happens. that foiled our holiday travel plans (thankfully we hadn't bought any tickets yet!), but we still had some free tickets from our miles and decided to use them towards a much needed little family vacation. a "babymoon" plus bina, if you will. we considered austin, but our best friends were going to be out of town so we decided to delay that. also it's wicked hot in austin right now. which brought us to... boston! boston in september. i mean, does it get any better?

so we got ourselves a hotel in the seaport district, packed our bags, and hopped on an airplane. it was the first time we had been back to boston since we left for austin after seminary, just over five years ago. and oh it was so good to be back.

we planned to just stay in the city the whole time since we weren't renting a car. one of david's cousins who came to see us while we were there offered to drive us up to the north shore one afternoon so we ended up being able to see the seminary and some of our old stomping grounds. it was so strange to be back! and so sweet. seminary was a hard season for us, but a good one. on that little excursion bina barfed in the car. we ended up changing our plans a bit to accommodate the possibility that she would continue barfing (her little cousin we were around the day before had caught a stomach but that night so we thought it might be that). that resulted in an unplanned stop in manchester by the sea. so dreamy. luckily it was just the one off with the barf, so i guess she was car sick! she had a good time hanging out in the nude with a diaper for a bit.

in the city we did lots and lots of walking, rode the bus and the subway. we rode the subway because i got us on the wrong bus going in the wrong direction. oh well. both were firsts for bina!

we enjoyed exploring boston and some of our favorite spots, like mike's pastry and the north end. on our walk to the north end we found a farmer's market where we picked up fruit for bina. as we sat down to eat our cannoli and lobster tail from mike's pastry in the park, bina found herself a new friend. that girl is a puppy magnet. or, puppies are bina magnets.

boston common, where bina enjoyed her first ride on a "neigh."

the charles river. a favorite place to stroll.

we took bina to the aquarium where we saw the "shish! simming!" (fish swimming).

on the one rainy day we met up with some of david's cousins and their kiddos and hit up the children's museum, then went to his aunt's house to meet more of the family for dinner.

we met up with a family from seminary who still resides in the area one morning and had a picnic in the park after visiting the statue of make way for ducklings. my favorite line from that visit, regarding the statue of make way for ducklings photo op, was, "oh good! a photo op for you and your 50 closest friends!" (there were a slew of people there, you were not getting a shot of the statue with just your kid romping around). ha.

on our last day, one of david's cousins drove us to castle park before dropping us off at the airport. it was a perfect last excursion before heading home.

it was so good to catch up and see how everyone is doing. it was a really sweet time with a good balance of "just us" family time, visiting with family, and visiting with friends. i loved all the walking we got in and it was a blast to have bina in tow, seeing all the things for the first time. she was a real trooper. skipped nap for five days in a row and yet held up pretty well. we shared a big king bed together, falling asleep watching the newsroom -- our new favorite show. i had planned to continue pumping five times a day while there, but then chucked that plan out the window. which ended up being fine. my supply is the same as it was before we left. bina did nurse a lot more than normal so she helped me out there.

i'm so thankful we had the opportunity to go. when we were leaving i told david we should come back to boston every fall and austin every spring.

i'm kind of a "find what you like and do it over and over" kind of girl. david suggested that there are lots of other places that would be fun to explore. i was skeptical. i compromised by saying well then we can alternate either going to boston or austin each year, and then add one new destination. i think i have some more convincing to do. but i'm pretty good at that, i think. ha.

looking forward to my MOPS group starting up friday morning. in the meantime i'm continuing my pumping routine -- five times a day getting seven ounces total. i've got a stash of 135 ounces in my deep freeze! my lactation consultant thinks i may not even need to supplement. "what in the world am i going to do with all this milk, then?!" i asked. i'm sure there is some sweet mama and babe i can donate it to if it comes to that. i'm super proud of my boobs for stepping up their game. go team boobies.

i've got an email in to our adoption specialist to see how things are looking. last we heard we could expect approval of our home study by mid to late september. which. is. now. i can't even believe it. so we shall see! i'm excited and terrified all at the same time. on saturday i bought two halloween costumes at a resale shop that put out all their costume inventory for the first time that day. i found a cupcake costume for bina that's kind of like a sleeveless tunic of colorful fleece. no hat or hood to go with it. she won't wear a hat or hood as part of the costume without a major meltdown, so i figured i would just skip the meltdown and get something she won't reject. to keep with the food theme i found a little pea in the pod costume for a baby. i'm hoping we will be placed by halloween, but if not i'm only out five bucks. no big deal either way.

it's almost fall, y'all! and it's gearing up to be an adventurous one. bring on the cider and donuts. and new baby. i'm ready. let's do this.

hello there.

brittain here. just sharing my journey day to day with lots of laughs along the way.

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