What You’ve Missed

So instead of doing a ton of catch-up posts, here is one big post to catch you up on everything important since the last time I posted. Warning: contains a ton of adorable pictures of the cutest kid ever.

Since December 12, 2012 (my last post before the bloggy break) you have missed:

Baby’s First Christmas:

MA First Christmas


MA turned 11 months old:

MA 11 Months


MA turned 1 year old:

MA first birthday 1


MA First Birthday 2


We welcomed a precious new nephew into the world:



One year referral-verary:

Feb 14, 2012 064allocated

Mommy got together with an old friend and MA made a new one:


MA wore her first ponytail:

First Ponytail


MA turned 13 months old:

MA 13 Months


Had a play date with her cousin:

Cousin Playdate


Cousin Playdate 2

MA turned 14 months old:

MA 14 months


MA’s cousin turned 1:

Madison turns 1

MA turned 15 months (my favorite age so far):

Ma 15 Month 1 MA 15 Month 2 MA15Month 3


I think that is everything major…I didn’t realize how many monthly updates I missed!



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I’m Baaaaack!

So sorry to have been away from the blog so long. This is why; I planned to take time away moving towards Christmas through MA’s first birthday (Jan. 28th) to focus on and really relish all the firsts that were happening. Well…that was a couple months ago. Now, I have a 15 month old who is walking like crazy and just making things super interesting around here. I will probably do a few catch up posts about some of the major things that have happened over the last few month but, I am back and hopefully posting regularly!!

Here are a couple recent pictures of our sweet girl. Image


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Wordless Wednesday: Sunday Afternoon Naps

Sunday Afternoon Naps 1 Sunday Afternoon Naps 2 MommyandMA

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Christmas Cards?

I am one of those people, I love Christmas cards. I think they are the best. I look forward to sending and receiving them every year. I love seeing how my friends and family change as the years pass and plan to make a scrapbook out of the cards we have gotten since Matthew and I got married. I am not going to show you the exact card we sent but I will show you the picture we took to go on the card…


I happen know a lot of people who aren’t fans of photo Christmas cards; the time they take to send out, the expense, whatever the case…sometimes you still need Christmas cards. If you are that person who needs to get some Christmas cards but prefers not to do photo cards, let me recommend Red Letter Paper Company.

Stephanie’s cards are unique, funny, sweet…they are really special. Here are some of my favorites…



I love this more classic Christmas-y card.



Sweet, right?!



So funny.

My husband really likes them as well. He loves how creative they are and let me tell you, he is hard to impress as far as these kind of things go. He wanted me to make sure that I tell you that he recommends them.

Stephanie was kind enough to send me 5 samples of her Christmas cards. The quality of the cards is superb. Since I send out photo cards, I decided to do a giveaway!

All I need you to do is leave a comment telling what you are doing for Christmas cards this year

We are going to do a short giveaway to make sure that you get them in time to send them to family and friends…make sure you enter by THIS Wednesday, December 12. I will draw a winner at 8pm on December 12th and post it on Facebook so make sure you have liked Overwhelmed by joy!

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a new family member…of the feline variety…

Garfield 1Garfield 3

This is our new kitty cat! His name is Seamus Garfield Fraser, Garfield for short. We have had him for a couple weeks and while it has been an adjustment he seems to be settling in well.

Garfield 6Garfield 7

He is about 20 weeks old, does really well with Mary Alice and is just plain adorable! He also does REALLY well with our dog, Nora. They play together like a couple of kids.

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I had a class in college where we had a mentor throughout the class in the field we planned on going into after we graduated. They had to have an advanced degree in the field and be approved by the professor. I planned on being a minister’s wife and a mother. You should have seen the professor’s face when I asked him what kind of advanced degree my mentor needed to have!

I ended up with the BEST mentor ever. She was the wife of another one of my professors and the mother of six children. I learned a lot from her that semester. Near the end of the class I asked her for advice on being a minister’s wife and a mother. I just found the piece of paper again and I thought I would share it with you.

On being a minister’s wife:

-be the one he can talk with no matter what. Make sure he knows he can trust you and everything that you discuss will be kept safe and confidential.

-never make him or let him counsel with another woman alone.

-be his best friend.

-never EVER discuss, think about or threaten divorce!

-try to find balance between loving and defending your children and keeping your husband first (under Christ of course).

On being a mother:

-find a balance between enjoying and loving them and holding them too close and smothering them.

-find a balance in how much you tell them about the world. They need to be informed but how much?

-remember every child is unique — be flexible!

Great advice, right? Simple and powerful.

What is the best advice you have ever received on being a wife and mom?

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Wordless Wendesday: Bama Baby Edition

Bama Baby 4Bama Baby 1Bama Baby 2Bama Baby 3Bama Baby 5

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10 Month Update

10 month update 1

Mary Alice is 10 months old and BUSY! She is pretty laid back for most of the day (for a 10 month old) but really hits her stride at about 4:30-5:00. Then the crazy baby comes out. She is crawling, climbing, talking, laughing, turning cirlces…so much fun.

10 month update 410 month update 3

She is now really walking when you hold her hands. She is also starting to get brave and trying to balance holding only one of my hands. I love this stage. She is learning so much and starting to get to the point where she can entertain herself a little more.

She is waving, blowing kisses and clapping. ADORABLE!

10 month update 210 month update 5

Mary Alice still has no teeth (even though she has been drooling up a storm for months)! She is still in a size 3 diaper and mainly 6-9 month clothes even though she can wear some things from 3 months up to 9 months.

She has really started to pick some favorite toys, books and activities. Her favorite toy:

10 month update 6

Duck Duck. Other than Daddy, it is the only thing she says pretty consistently. No, she doesn’t say Momma…Daddy and duck duck…

Another big thing happening around here is tomorrow is our 6 month post placement report visit! Our social worker will come by and make sure that we and Mary Alice are adjusting, make sure she is doing well and to see if there is anything we need help with. We are having to do the visit a little early because things are going to be a little crazy as we get closer to Christmas but is hard to believe we have been home for almost 6 months!!

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The Dougless family is ADOPTING: A guest post

Today’s guest post is by an in-the-process adoptive mommy named Keri. She blogs here. Her family is in the process of adopting from the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you would like to donate to their adoption journey you can make a tax deductible donation here.

Hello Overwhelmed by Joy Readers!  I’m honored to be writing up a guest post for Tara’s blog.  I hardly feel “worthy” considering my own blog gets neglected far too often.  However, the topic is, of course, close to my heart…and so, how could I possibly turn up the opportunity?

There are so many aspects of adoption that I could write about.  I feel so inferior about many pieces of the adoption world, considering this is my first go ‘round.  So, I’m going to focus on how and why my husband and I have decided to grow our family through adoption.

Travel back in time with me about 11 years ago.  It was my first year out of High School, and my husband’s Senior year in High School.  Just that summer, I had gone to Haiti on a mission trip.  My most favorite part of being in Haiti was visiting the orphanages and playing with the children we met in various places.  One particular day of the trip, we went “house calling”.  We were visiting homes in the city, praying for the families.  We entered one home and a lady walked up to me and handed me a tiny baby.  She said something to me, but of course, I didn’t understand the foreign language.  The translator explained that the baby had been very sick and she didn’t think she could keep it alive much longer. He said that she was begging me to take her baby home with me.  I was 18 years old…but if it had been a real possibility, I would have said yes.

I came home from that trip and eventually had a conversation with my boyfriend (now husband) telling him that I knew God wanted me to adopt a baby, internationally, some day.  I was relieved when he said he thought that would be a good idea.  So began our “dream” to adopt internationally.

Over the next 11 years, we dated a while longer, married, my husband finished college, got his first ministry position in a state far away from home, and then almost 4 years ago, we started our family with our sweet and spicy daughter.  We never forgot our dream to one day adopt…but because of the regulations in Haiti, we were patiently waiting to have been married at least 5 years.  Adoption always seemed like such a far away dream, something that would happen “one day” when everything is right.  We were waiting to be married the “right” number of years.  We were waiting for our finances to be “right”.  We were waiting for the timing to be just “right”.

In our waiting, we eventually moved back to our hometown for another ministry position and met a couple that we became close friends with.  They had adopted internationally a couple times, and soon announced their plans to adopt internationally again.  We were able to “walk through” the process with them…sharing in frustrations, fundraising, praying, etc.  As their adoption journey came to an end, and they brought their little boy home, my husband and I began to pray and talk earnestly about it being time to begin our journey.  We wanted to be sure that we weren’t making the decision based on our emotional involvement, so we prayed for a few months.  When the few months were over, we still felt just as convicted as before.

The waiting is over…yet, to be completely honest, nothing seems quite right.  Adopting from Haiti didn’t work out…instead we’ve been blessed to fall in love with another country.  Learning about their culture and people…praying for that country to see even just a glimpse of Jesus’ love.

Financially…we are no better off now than we were 3 years ago, or 5 years ago.  Technically, we will likely never be able to afford adoption on our own.  But we have been blessed in so many ways, financially.  We have seen God provide the funds needed over and over again, in just His right timing.  We’ve been humbled by the need to ask for help from a community that loves Him and wants to be obedient the best they can.

As far as timing…if it were up to me…and my selfish ways, I may have decided to wait until after I’d had one more biologically.  I’m finally at the age of feeling my body and energy slow down.  I don’t feel so “young”…even though I’m not really old either.  Lord willing, we would like to have at least one more biologically, and even adopt at least one more.  I don’t know God’s plan, how that will all play out…but I will admit that due to my sinful and selfish desires, I have sometimes wished that we would have “planned” differently.

Even though things don’t seem quite “right” to me.  I know that ultimately it’s not about me and my selfishness, or my sinful desires.  It’s about following Jesus.  It’s about loving Jesus, and loving others, more than ourselves.  That’s what is truly right.

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Wordless Wednesday: Holiday Edition

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