Our First Home

Finally, I have a chance to blog again! It’s been a while, life got busy, and well blogging became something in the past. This is our “Friend Beach Trip” week and I actually have some time to write again. 8 adults and 9 kids in one house means we have lots of extra hands and a lot of extra noise 😉

I been looking forward to a little time to sit down and write a post about our house that we have lived in for the last 8 years. We are selling it and should be all moved in to the new house in about a month! It’s exciting, emotional and MAJORLY stressful all wrapped up together. I feel like that kinda describes adult life.

Before we move, I want to remember all the projects we have done to make our home ours. I noticed something about myself this go round of “house shopping”  …I rarely find a house I don’t like. It makes it hard to find “the one” BUT it gets my creative juices flowing and the possibilities becomes endless. Dave is my anchor and reminds me we have three kids and don’t have an HGTV show 😉

I was awful at taking before pictures of the projects we completed in our house but Dave found the listing ad of it way back in 2009 so I saved those! Anyways, here is my scrapbook of before and after pictures from our first home. There have been many adventures, a lot of sweat and major popcorn removal from this house….


Look at those hunter green shutters and the killer bushes….

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You can’t see it in this picture, but Dave replaced the overgrown bushes with a flower bed. I also spray painted the shutters about 7 years ago – I am so surprised how well they have held up. Most recently, I painted the door Wythe Blue by Benjamin Moore.

Here is our living room before…


And after…


About two years ago, Dave installed our flooring that I am so sad to leave behind. He did an AMAZING job (although I never want to re-live installing new flooring with 2 toddler boys running around). Soon after, we put in the built-ins. They are a combination of IKEA billy bookshelves and unfinished kitchen cabinets from Home Depot. We had to add a lot of decorative wood to make it about “built-in-ish” and painted it all white. My favorite part is the decorative area behind the T.V. – we used pieces of wood to actually hide the T.V. cords. the outlets are inside the cabinets and the cords are inside the horizontal pieces of wood. Awww I will miss the set up but we are planning to do something similar in the new house!

Here is the dining room before…


And the dining room after. We did the wainscoting and painted all the walls downstairs Pewter Tankard by Sherwin Williams.


And out kitchen before (this was my least favorite room in our house and the first one we renovated)…


We made the cabinets appear higher by adding a 1×8 and some crown molding. I painted the cabinets Alabaster White by Sherwin Williams and spray painted the hinges with Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint. The light fixtures were a combination of Amazon and yard sale finds. Even though the back splash isn’t really my style now, it was one of my favorite, and surprisingly easiest, projects. I hope to jump on the subway tile bandwagon and install one in the new house as well. The kitchen island used to be much smaller and we extended it to make a shelf on one side and a little opening for the trash can on the other. The butcher block counter top is from IKEA and we had the granite counter tops installed by professionals.


And here is Landon and Max’s room before…


We added the bead board and crown molding.


And Lyla’s room before…


And after….


And here is our room (master) before…

And well…after. Although all we did in this room was remove the popcorn ceiling and paint right when we moved it. It was in need of a little makeover and was the next room we were planning on tackling.


And our master bath before…


And after. We painted it Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams, painted the cabinets, installed new light fixtures and medicine cabinets. Dave did some demo on the bathtub and we had someone come and install the new shower we bought from Lowe’s. He also tiled our shower and flooring. The flooring is ceramic tile that looks like wood. I love the feel of it.



And last but not least the backyard before…


And after. We had several trees removed, planted some grass and put in the swing set.


We are going to miss this house but look forward to the adventures in the new one! There are several DIY projects I already have whirling around in my head now…hopefully Dave will soon be on board 😉



Happy 4th Birthday Landon!

Dear Landon,

I cannot believe you are already 4 years old! It seems like only yesterday I was marveling at your teeny tiny feet and beautiful big eyes. I’m still in awe that God gave us the honor of raising you! Seeing you change and grow over the last 4 years has been one of my greatest joys in life. You’re still the same little boy from this first birthday letter that I wrote to you, but have changed and grown so much!

birthday donut blog

You love donuts, baking with mommy and daddy, playing by yourself (you like to tell Max you need “alone time” and your “privacy”), watching Octonauts, learning about animals, talking to yourself, playing with your stuffed animals, and cuddling up in blankets and pillows. Basketball is your favorite sport and you wrestle daily with Max (while I am so happy you and Max are getting along during these wrestling fiascoes, I am cringing and hoping no bones get broken). I love how you have a soft sensitive side, but can be a energetic little boy too.

cookies with daddy blog

You are still very detailed oriented and your preschool teacher once called you her “sensitive engineer guy”. I see a lot of me and your daddy in you  – you do so many things just like we did at your age! I remember lining up all of my stuffed animals on my bed and making sure none of them fell off so their feelings wouldn’t get hurt. Some nights your daddy and I can barely find you under all your animals! The other day I overheard you telling Max “Don’t move Mickey Mouse off my bed – he is for decoration”….that is exactly something I would have said at your age. Sometimes I think you are a little mini me but then I see so much of your daddy in you too. You are so kind and loving and ask questions like “why does that man stand on the street alone mommy?”. We talk about how some people don’t have homes to live in and you get concerned about where they have their “quiet times”. I love that you have such a big heart and that you see people all the same. You often ask what your baby sister will look like…pointing at pictures of all different races and hoping she will look “just like that baby”!



You are soooo excited about your baby sister, who could here any day now. You refuse to call her “Lyla” and are stuck on naming her “Layla” – I hope you will forgive us one day for taking the extra “a” out of her name. It melts my heart when I see you with other babies – how inquisitive you are about everything they do and how eager you are to help. Max didn’t come to us as a little baby, but you sure have grown into a big brother this year!  You two are so silly together…. 01bace17824bcfefa32df752bfabf50163e36a41ba

I love overhearing your conversations with him when you tell him all about how he became a part of our family – from us traveling to China to bring him home and you staying with Uncle John and  Aunt Christine. You tell him that he was born in Kunming and you were born in America and you are now both brothers…melt.my.heart.


Just last night, you called daddy into your room after being tucked in because you had something very important to tell him – you asked him not to tell me that tomorrow was your birthday. I had mentioned early that evening that you getting bigger made me sad and I wanted you to stay little. You were so thoughtful to ask daddy not to tell me, but I will always remember your birthday and I AM happy you are growing into such a sweet little boy!

family bday picture blog

No, I am not the best about writing down all the sweet, silly, inquisitive things you say and ask. And I haven’t even put together a baby book for you (I must admit that I have forgotten some of the dates where you took your first steps or your first tooth popped out). I hope that one day you will read these birthday letters and know that even though I am not the most organized mommy out there, I love you BIG TIME and I will always treasure the memories of you growing up. Happy 4th Birthday Landon David!


Your mommy




Happy 3rd Birthday Max!

Dear “Maxipoo” (I’m sorry, I know you will probably despise this nickname one day),

So much has changed in your life this past year! You have the same strong, outgoing personality as when we first met you, but you have finally allowed us to see the sweet softness of your heart. You hug and kiss not only us, but all your stuffed animals and Daisy too. Your laugh is so contagious and you light up a room when you enter it.

You amaze me….

Sometimes I forget what a difficult year you have had – full of so many transitions and one big move to a family who probably looked so different and even scary to you.

Here you are on your 2nd birthday….


And now look at you at 3 years old! You have grown so much!

Max grown up

You still “keep me on my toes” and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Somehow, even after making scary jumps off our staircase, you haven’t managed to break a bone. You are a little natural gymnast and I can’t wait to see how God uses your athletic ability! You are also creative and your problem solving mind blows me away. If you want something, you’ll figure out how to get it, even if it puts your life in danger and makes me want to pull my hair out! I’ll never forget the time you styled Daisy’s hair with gel and toothpaste, gave her a haircut and covered her in stickers. You love your Daisy so much we decided to throw a puppy party for your first birthday celebrated on American soil!



Sometimes I get sad and I ache for the years I missed with you. I didn’t get to see your first tooth grow in or get excited with you when you took your first steps. I didn’t get to see you roll over or hear your first giggles, BUT I have been able to experience so many other very special “firsts” with you this year. I will hold these moments so close to my heart because of the many I missed. One of my favorite “firsts” was experiencing you hear for the first time! I’ll never forget the joy I felt knowing you could hear me say “I love you” and that moment will be forever etched in my memory…

We have developed such a sweet bond as you learn to speak and comprehend language. This journey has been new for me too, especially learning about all the ins and outs of what services you need to get you caught up. You have blown everyone away with how fast you have learned to communicate and comprehend in such a short amount of time. So many people have helped us get to this point and I am so grateful for your teachers and therapists. They have given us both so much  support and knowledge. I cannot wait for you to start preschool – a school where I just know you are going to grow leaps and bounds in your speech development. It will be yet another big transition for you, but with your strength and determination I know you will succeed!!

Even though it is quite loud, I LOVE when you try to get my attention to say a word that you know. You usually start off yelling “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” and once I pay attention to you, your face lights up as you tell me the word, like “ball, airplane, dog”. These are our “firsts” and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Your relationship with your daddy has changed so much this year…I have loved watching it develop into something beautiful over time. It hasn’t been easy, but you have both gradually bonded in front of my eyes. You now get so excited to see daddy come home from work and love his tickles! Wrestling with him is one of your favorite things to do and it is so funny to watch you imitate his push-ups when he is working out.


Little Ping Ping, I hope you know how many people love you and are better people because they know you. Your life is so valuable and I am so thankful that your birth mom gave you life. Without you, our family would be missing something – a sweet, courageous boy who God is going to use for great things. I love you so very much sweet boy.


Your Mommy


Our Newest Family Member

It’s been quite a while since I have had the chance to sit down and write and for some reason I have an itching to get it all out – to be vulnerable and share what had been going on the last few months in the Eshleman household. If I could describe the last five months in one phrase it would be this: The longest emotional roller-coaster ride ever (2nd to adoption); full of highs and lows, twists and turns, and quite honestly, pretty jerky. 

But somehow, in the midst of all the unknowns,  our newest addition and blessing to the family is due to arrive on Christmas Eve this year! Our Littlest Esh has already given us sleepless nights and trips to the ER, but despite the whirlwind of emotions and scares, she is still with us (yep, we’re throwing a girl into the crazy mix of two rambunctious boys!). Although we don’t know what tomorrow holds, we are thankful for this baby and have hope that we will get to meet her by the end of the year.

One thing I have learned since starting a family is that it isn’t always an easy task to accomplish, whether it be through adoption or pregnancy. In my younger years I really didn’t know that people struggled with infertility or that getting pregnant could be such a process. You “do the deed and plant the seed”, right? Sometimes but sometimes not.

I have struggled to really write about our difficulties conceiving because I know of so many people who still yearn for a family and have waited so much longer than we have to start a family. We only know a portion of that pain. 

Our journey started when I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease about a month after we were married. I lived with the disease for about a year, along with its’ nasty symptoms, before deciding to have a full thyroidectomy. I basically went from a more dangerous disease to a less dangerous one: hypothyroidism. My entire thyroid was removed so I will live with this disease for the rest of my life. I take medicine daily to replace my thyroid hormones, but getting on the right dosage/ brand of medication has been extremely difficult for me. One of the side effects: difficulty conceiving.

About 6 months after my thyroidectomy, I found out I had two large cysts on my ovaries/fallopian tubes that needed to be removed and I was also diagnosed with endometriosis. Yet again, difficulty conceiving is also a side effect from this disease. We both wanted a somewhat big family and even before we got married we planned to adopt. I think this made the struggle of getting pregnant a little easier to deal with because we knew we would adopt sooner vs. later. We started the paperwork to adopt from Ethiopia, but before submitting it, found out on April Fools Day of 2011 that little Landon would be joining our family! We decided it would be best to wait until after having Landon to adopt since we would be going through such a huge adjustment already. 

After having Landon, it took us about 3 years to get pregnant again. I can look back on that time and thank God that we were given that perfect amount of time to find and adopt our Max! At times it was painful to see friends get pregnant the first month of trying, or to get questions about when we would try for our second, but I am truly thankful for God’s perfect timing in their stories and ours.

So, fast forward to April 11, 2015 and we find out I am pregnant with Littlest Esh! Dave and I were actually celebrating our 6th anniversary on a weekend getaway and took about 4 different tests to make sure it was truly positive. We were elated.

As you can see in this video, Landon was pretty excited too. Max, on the other hand, didn’t seem too thrilled…

I’m so thankful for the joy we experienced the first two weeks of the pregnancy.

Right around 6 weeks, when we first started to tell a few close friends and some family members, I started bleeding. Dave went with me to the OB and they did an ultrasound, couldn’t find the baby, and diagnosed me with a miscarriage. I will never forget the emptiness I felt in that moment. The pain was so real, deep and I felt cheated. I kept asking myself “why would God play such an evil trick on us?” and “why did you even let us get pregnant again after years of desiring it?” Theologically I knew that wasn’t true, but I couldn’t get rid of those questions. I spent the rest of that day in bed, crying and waiting for the the baby to come. I was told it could take a few hours, days or weeks, or if I didn’t want to wait, I could take medicine to help it happen sooner. Two days later, I got a phone call from the doctor saying my blood work still showed I was pregnant, but that can often happen in early miscarriage. He suggested I come back in a week and have another ultrasound. In all honesty, instead of feeling hope, I felt like the “mean trick” was dragging on and boy it was a long emotional week.

When I went in for the 2nd ultrasound an empty sac was found, but still no baby. I was prepared to go ahead and continue grieving, but we were told I could still be pregnant and to wait another two weeks to see if things progressed. My HCG was rising, but at around 7 weeks we should be able to see a baby. At this point I didn’t know what to feel at all, and if I am completely honest, I even had a difficult time praying. Do I pray for a baby that I don’t even know is there anymore?

During the wait for the 3rd ultrasound I experienced daily bleeding and sometimes pretty severe cramps. Each day I thought “ok, it’s happening”. And then it hit me: severe nausea and vomiting. A full day of it. I was sick for Landon’s entire pregnancy and I remember praying “God, please give me a sign if this baby is still alive”. Well I think that was one of my reassuring signs because I have been sick almost daily since then 😉

When I went in for the third ultrasound they found two sacs: an empty one and one with our little girl. In addition, they also found something called a Subchorionic Hematoma: a gathering of blood between the membranes of the placenta and the uterus. Basically, it was a blood clot that was causing the continuous bleeding. Although I was so relieved to finally have some answers, and to see our baby’s heart beating, I had a hard time getting excited. At some point I could have been pregnant with twins, and even though the blood clot was actually not that dangerous, there was still a higher risk of miscarriage. Finally, at around 12 weeks, the bleeding stopped. Since then, there have been a few more scares, and two trips to the ER within 48 hours, BUT things are now getting a little less “dramatic”.

Thankfully, I haven’t had any complications for the last few weeks. I am about 21 weeks and our due date is December 24th! We are praying daily for our little girl and I remind myself often that all of our children are not our own and are ultimately in God’s hands.


6 Months and Lots of Love

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography


Yep, Max, I’m making that same face right now because I can’t believe it has already been 6 months since we first held you in our arms!

As we were driving to church this morning, Dave mentioned that it had been 6 months since Max’s Gotcha Day..it caught me quite off guard to say the least.

Time sure flies when you have two little ones keeping you on your toes…

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

Although it doesn’t seem like it has been a whole half a year, A LOT has happened these past six months….

Max is still the spunky tiger we met on September 15, 2014 but he now…

lets me cuddle with him and doesn’t push away

giggles with the most contagious laugh

is confident we will come back when we leave him

can hear our voices

can say “mama”,”dada”, “gege” (big brother), “Daisy” and “buh-bye”

falls asleep in his own bed without tears of fear

lets his daddy hold him and give him hugs and kisses

loves to make us laugh 

Ya’ll, that’s just a snippet of all the changes we have seen in our spunky little tiger these past 6 months.

My favorite: the most adorable “pucker” right before he kisses me

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

Max, my love for you grows more and more each day and I am so happy I get to be your mommy!

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

Photo credit to Becky Keller

Thanks a bunch for the super cute Valentine shoot!

Why “It’s not the same…”

What I am about to write has been on my heart for quite some time, but I’ve had a difficult time putting my feelings into words. Ya’ll, I am writing this only because I want people to understand us a little more and for other adoptive parents to not feel alone. I don’t want people to look at our cute instagram pics and think our lives are all fun and games. The pictures we post on social media are very much real, but they are only a split second of “real life”. These pictures aren’t the end of the story…God is still in the process of writing it right now. I am also writing this to remind myself that it is “not the same” because sometimes I forget. I forget the difficulties Max has had to face in his short two years of life. I forget that some of the really difficult behaviors we face day in and day out may look like normal behaviors, but they stem from pain that is much deeper than I can comprehend.

When we spent that long year preparing our family to adopt Max, we read all the books, attended training seminars, filled out workbooks. We were prepared for everything, but the real learning didn’t happen until we met Max face to face. In college, did anyone ever tell you that you don’t actually learn until you are “in the field”? For example, when I majored in Social Work we were required to work a full-time internship for a semester before we received that diploma we worked so hard for.  It is TRUE – you can take 30 hours of Social Work courses but you don’t “get it” until you are out there working. It takes time, and experience, to truly grasp what you have learned. All of the intensive studying, exams, and papers you have written? Yeah, they are important,  but through experience you make mistakes and eventually the real learning begins. That has been what Dave and I have been doing ever since we became parents, and that learning supposedly never ends!

One thing we have learned is that parenting a biological child vs. an adopted child is different, very different. Having a biological sibling vs. an adopted sibling is different. Am I saying one is more difficult than another? Nope, not even close. They are both unique, challenging and rewarding in their own ways. Am I saying one is better than the other? Absolutely not. Our love for both of our boys is deep. My love for Max is so deep my heart hurts when I think of what he has been through in his very short two years of life.

Even though Max is only two, and may not remember specifics of his early life, it doesn’t mean everything he experienced before us just goes away. What it does mean is that we see behaviors at home that other people in our lives don’t see. Even though some of these behaviors might look the same, and sound the same, as any other two year old, they’re not. They are rooted in experiences much different than a child who has lived in the same home, with the same mother, since conception.

Tantrums might look “normal”, and some might be the same, but they may be rooted in a much deeper issue. For example, Landon might have a tantrum in the grocery store because he wants a candy bar because it will satisfy his sweet tooth. Max might be having a tantrum in the grocery store because at some point in his life he didn’t eat for a few days. The sight and smell of food might trigger something in him to tantrum. That memory of not having enough food may be long gone, but the fear is ingrained in him. It is not something that he can just get over in a few weeks, months or even years.

Even though my boys might look like they are having “normal sibling rivalry”, they aren’t. Landon didn’t watch my belly grow for 9 months expecting a younger brother/sister to join us as a tiny infant; He got  a rambunctious, toy thief that has rocked his little world. We are seeing the beauty of their relationship unfold, but we are also seeing some pretty nasty behaviors on both ends. And yes, I know siblings fight, but it’s different when things gradually change and you have time to get used to a baby brother crawling to your toys vs. grabbing them and throwing them at you!


I guess it is difficult to feel “heard” when others assume the hard days are just normal – the same that any mother experiences. It’s not the same, never will be, but you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world because my love for Max is rooted in me, just like my love for Landon was rooted in me when God placed him in my belly.

My friend Brittany, who has walked this long road of adoption with me at the same time, recently wrote the following and it is EXACTLY how I feel:

“Its seems like it’s going so perfect, right? Her transition has been beautiful, correct?


The beautiful part of this is that she is thriving, growing, and learning. But the brutal part of the story is that two MONTHS home, doesn’t erase the two YEARS before.

There are days that she kicks her happy little legs and wiggles her little pink toes with delight and we make progress. Then there are days where in a moments notice I sense her hurt. I feel her pain. I see her pull back and then I wipe her tears.

Someone asked me recently, “Why is it so hard?”

It’s hard because its the Fathers work. And work it is. Messy and sometimes lonely. I am in a battle everyday to win her heart, to win her trust, to win her love that for TWO years was lost, hurt, and broken. Sometimes I feel like the “new boyfriend” on the scene who is trying to tell his new once brokenhearted love that he will never leave her, hurt her and will love her forever. The only solution….time & faithfulness.

It’s hard because this isn’t how things are suppose to be. We live in a fallen world and we are picking up the pieces as a result. Hard work? Yes. And it is only by HIS power that our hands have strength to pick up the pieces at all.

And ironically, it’s hard because she is doing so amazing that people assume that the work is done…..she’s home, she’s happy, she’s attaching well. Mission complete, she is now a loved, lucky American. That should equal happiness, right? Nope.

And last but not least, it’s hard because we have a long road to go. Maybe a lifetime of healing. Mending a broken heart takes time, prayer, patience, and Jesus. Because Jesus paid it ALL, ALL to Him I owe. So we will keep walking alongside her until she realizes that her heart is safe in our arms. No matter how long it takes. Just wait, sweet girl, you will see……

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3″

Recently, my friends Shannon Dingle wrote an article about this exact same topic. I am so thankful for other adoptive mommas who get “get it” and a God who gives me grace when I think I have messed  this whole “adoptive momma” thing  up.

Family of Four Photo Shoot

Ya’ll, I am not going to write a ton today because I think these pictures speak louder than words. I am so grateful to Becky Keller for volunteering her time and talent through Red Thread Sessions. She is an ahhhhmazing photographer in the Raleigh area, and if you get her to take your pictures, I am positive you won’t be disappointed!! I have known Becky for a long time and was so excited to find her name on the  Red Thread Sessions website when searching for a local photographer. She carved out precious time during her busy season to take our first family of four photos and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how our pictures turned out.

 © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography © 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography

My Grandma

The last few days have been tough – we lost my Grandma Mary – someone I have always loved and admired.

My heart hurts, but it is happy at the same time.

She is with Jesus this Christmas.


I have many memories of her stored up to share with my little boys one day – stories of a woman who was strong and loved people well, even hard to love people. Through Christ, she gained her strength to love people right where they were in life. She didn’t have an easy life, but she lived it to the fullest and never complained. She spent the last few years in a nursing home with half of her body paralyzed, but that didn’t stop her from finding joy in people around her – the nurses, her family and her church. Even though it was difficult to visit the nursing home, I always had a peace that God had her where she was meant to be at this time in her life. She was a light to those around her – those who had no family to visit them or were lost because their minds were taken over my dementia. She loved them well and always introduced us to each person there with such joy in her voice.

But my favorite memory of her is very recent….

It was when she heard about us adopting Max and her excitement about us bringing him home. She loved each one of her 14 great grandchildren and could tell you their ages, all about their births, their dislikes, what they were doing in preschool, the list could go on and on. She treated Max no differently and embraced him just like each one of her other great grand babies. On Thanksgiving, she had a special “prayer bear” picked out just for him. She looked at me and said ” this is for Max cause he is one special little boy.” I’m so thankful that she was able to see Max three times before she left us, giving him hugs and kisses. I have heard several stories about grandparents, or people from her generation, being opposed to adopting from China or other countries. Not my grandma, she was ecstatic about this new grandson of hers and couldn’t wait to hear about our trip there and how he was doing in his new home.

 God gave me the greatest gift in a grandma that lived her life as an example not only to me, but to everyone who crossed her path. I love you Grandma and you will forever be a part of our lives.



Happy 3rd Birthday Landon!

Dear Landon,

I can’t believe it has been three years since we first held you in our arms. It seems like only yesterday that God blessed us with a big-eyed, easy going newborn. You have changed so much right before our eyes and are no longer a baby, or toddler, but now a preschooler. “Laid Back Landon” has become one of your nick names, and despite some 2 year old moments, it fits you. You like to quietly take your time to do things and I think this is one of the reasons why you notice details like no other child I have known!


I love how detailed oriented you are – you notice the little things, from teeny tiny bugs to a hole in your shirt (and you refuse to wear anything that is dirty or has a hole in it, oh my). If something is broken, you want to fix it right away and will try to figure out how to do it yourself if mommy isn’t around. Strangers have approached me before to say things like “wow, you have a little engineer on your hands” or “I have never seen a 2 year old stay so focused on one task”. For example, you love to build train tracks and will play for hours with them (if a certain little brother doesn’t demolish them first). I love how you always look to see what color people’s eyes are, try to find the moon in the night sky, and notice when I get dressed up. I love how you ask me if it is “dusk” outside when it starts to get dark. Oh sweet boy, I don’t know how God is going to use your detail oriented mind, but I pray it is for His glory.


You might have a serious side, but you are silly too! I love how when you know the answer to something, you get this twinkle in your eye and tell me the wrong answer (like telling me you are 6 when you are only 2. Not okay).  My favorite is when you come and tell me “daddy is stinkin’ up my bathroom” or make sure we all know when you are “stinkin’ up” a bathroom. And what is up with this new found hobby of hiding and scaring mommy?! I thought that was only something I had to worry about your daddy doing.


Your sweet side – it melts my heart. I’ll never forget that moment in the car when I had dirty hair, no makeup on, and you quietly said “mommy you are pretty”. Cuddles from you are the best and they are even better when I get them in the piles of pillows you like to play in. I love how you know the difference between “slow kisses” and “fast kisses” and make sure that we give you slow kisses. And even though it has been work, you are now getting the hand of saying “please” and “thank you” without being reminded. I love how you always use “please” twice in a sentence when asking for something: “mommy, may I please have a cup of milk, please?” Spying on you playing will never get old – I love hearing your little voice make your cars talk or your animals go to the “reminder chair”. You are always so focused on your play that I often go unnoticed for quite a while, and when you catch me, you break out in a big smile. Your daddy and I often talk about how we can already tell that you are so sensitive. We have experience with being sensitive ourselves and are praying now that God will protect your sensitive heart.


Landon, this year has been one of many changes for you. Even though we often talk about how many transitions Max has had in his short life, we realize this year has been a HUGE transition for you. Becoming a big brother is NOT easy and especially when your little brother is not so little! Even though Max is younger, he didn’t come into our family as a little baby that doesn’t do much, he came as a 2 year old brother ready to play with your toys and demand attention from mommy and daddy. We know this has not been easy for you, but you have been an awesome brother so far! I’ll never forget when you ran up to us at the airport and grabbed Max’s hand. I love how you make him laugh and always ask “where is Max?” when he isn’t around. I hope and pray that you and Max will form a close bond as you get older.

bday platter

One of the most difficult times this past year was leaving you for 19 days. Landon, your daddy and I missed you so much it hurt. We knew you were in great hands, and that God was ultimately taking care of you, but being apart from you that long is something we never want to do again (if we can help it).  You did great though, had so much fun in New York, and even got to ride an airplane with your uncle John!

Happy 3rd Birthday to my sweet Landon! Mommy loves you more than you can ever imagine!

Is Max saying “mamma”?? I’ll let you decide…

You know, I haven’t written a lot about Max’s special need because I honestly don’t think about it too much.

It doesn’t define him.

He is so funny, rambunctious, and full of life. He is a typical two year old. Most of the time I am trying to figure out how to break up fights with his brother or keep him from hurting himself since he “has no fear”. These are the typical mommy things I would be doing even if he didn’t have a special need.

craft time

This is how “craft time” ends up at the Eshleman household

I know we are still in the early stages of having him home, and we will face more challenges as he gets older, but I think about his hearing such a smaller percentage of the time that I am parenting him….and that is only because I might scream a little louder to keep him from running into the street or eating Daisy’s food 😉

If you didn’t know already, Max has bilateral microtia and atresia. I am still learning about this special need, so I am no pro, but I hope to learn much more very soon. If you are thinking of adopting, this is what I would sit down and tell you over a cup of coffee: that sometimes a child’s diagnosis in their adoption file looks scary when it’s not.

disclaimer: I am not, by any means, downplaying how difficult it is to be a parent of a child with a special need(s). I know there are varying degrees of special needs, and that parenting a child with a special need, or any child for that matter, isn’t easy.

Before we even began our home study, we found our precious little boy on the Special Focus list (a list of children in the China Special Needs program that may have a more difficult time finding a family because their needs are considered more moderate-severe). I am sharing this only because I so desire for people who are adopting to look past a label, or a list, and see the child. When Max reads this one day, I want him to know this is not something that he should be ashamed of, but something we can praise God for because we may not have found him if it was not for this “list”.

Hockey player one day?!

Hockey player one day?!

One of the most common questions I get from people is “what news do you have about his hearing”?

And …we now have answers! This past Friday we had an appointment with a pediatric audiologist at the UNC hospital. The doctors we saw were wonderful and well worth the 2 month wait we had to get in. We are so blessed to live only about 45 minutes away. We knew before we adopted Max that he had congenital hearing loss (hearing loss present at birth) due to his microtia/atresia. We weren’t 100% positive if his inner ear was working properly, but we found out at his appointment that it is! In fact, his hearing was excellent when given a test at the clinic. He doesn’t have an ear canal (atresia) and his ears are not formed like the majority of people (microtia). He has little ears and I think they are the most adorable ears ever.  How does this impact his hearing? I like to explain it to people like this: “it’s like he has really good ear plugs in all the time”.  He can hear really loud noises, but not enough to where he can learn to speak clearly without some extra help.

funny eye pic

Max’s “funny eye” face that he makes quite often

So, what’s in store for his future? He will get a BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid) in a few weeks! This hearing aid will help him hear normally. It will be attached to a band that he will wear around his head until he is about 5-7 years old. At that time he will have a surgery to implant the BAHA.

You can read more about it here

We are so excited that Max will have the opportunity to hear clearly! Soon after he receives the BAHA, he will begin speech therapy which is provided through our state through a program called Beginnings.

Please pray that our insurance will cover the BAHA. Some insurances do not consider this a “hearing aid” (even though it is called a “hearing aid”…I know, I’m baffled too). Once we get approval through our insurance ,or figure out another way to pay for it, he will be fitted for it and will soon be stylin’ in his BAHA 🙂

chillin in chair

I really didn’t think I would hear him say “mamma” for quite a while (at least not until after he got his BAHA), but I think he is saying it! Landon has been teaching him and he sure seems like he knows that he is saying. What do you think?!