"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Officially on Wait List

We have officially earned a spot on the toddler boy wait list at IAN! We are number: 3.

Before our case worker gave me our number she said, "It will not be a long wait." What does that mean? Only God knows for sure, but I am excited and relieved.
I also have to confess that I am so happy that there is a wait list. The first time I called IAN, our placement agency, they asked what age and gender child we were thinking about adopting. I replied that we were fairly open to a variety of things, but that I felt like there was a 3 yr old little boy in Ethiopia that needed our family. The case worker then told me that she had the files of two little boys who fit my description on her desk, and that she did not have families to refer them to. While hearing that news was a part of the confirmation I needed that God was indeed calling us on this journey, I hoped and prayed neither of those boys was our son. I did not want our son to have to wait that long for me to come for him. I could not stand the idea of him waiting in an orphanage while I sifted through paperwork. So I am thrilled to report that we will have to wait for a referral. I can wait, be it short or long. I am warm, well-fed, safe and loved. I do not know what Joshua's circumstances are, but I have been praying that Joshua's wait at the orphanage for us is brief.
What does happen next?
  • We wait to receive a referral. A referral will be a picture of the child along with the medical and social information they have gathered about him. It will be brief.
  • Once we choose to accept a referral a court date will be scheduled in Ethiopia. The date will be about 2 months after the date we accept the referral. I have been told that families pass court the first try about 50% of the time. When we pass court, Chad and I will legally be Joshua's parents in the eyes of Ethiopia.
  • We will travel to bring Joshua home 6 to 8 weeks after we pass court. A date is schedules at the US Embassy to receive his travel documents. It takes 6 to 8 weeks to get all the documentation in order to be able to bring him to the US. I have seen families travel more quickly that 6 weeks, but I was told today that in our case it will most likely be 6+ weeks.

We have quite a few hurdles to cross before we have Joshua home. There are sure to be challenges, but for today we will just celebrate being one step closer to our boy.

I have to share my new favorite Bible verse. I think it will make you smile too.

"Children are a gift from the Lord... how blessed is the man who has a quiver full of them." Psalms 127 3, 5a

I am not sure how many arrows a quiver holds, but I certainly feel blessed! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my birthday. Usually I am all about my birthday, we always joke that it is an undeclared national holiday. This year I was not in a birthdayish kind of mood. I was grouchy enough that the card my daughter made for me referred to the fact that my family loves me even when I am crabby! (Maybe my bad attitude was why Krissy and Jay could not be convinced to join the rest of us in my birthday photo. I really do have 4 kids!)


There were several things that made my day extra special though:
  1. Two of my favorite little girls in the whole world, Ellie and Abby, called to sing Happy Birthday to me! Never underestimate how special simple little things can be. Their song was a treasure.
  2. My parents and Chad's mom came over supper. As always, I rwas given very thoughtful gifts.
  3. I received our home study in the mail, rushed to the Secretary of State's office to have some documents certified, and drug Chad to have his photos taken for the dossier.

All so that I finally was able to stop here:



to mail our completed paperwork to our agency!
The paperwork is scheduled to reach their office before noon tomorrow, so with any luck we will officially be a waiting family before the end of 2009!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Weather in Ethiopia

A few weeks a friend suggested I post something on the climate in Ethiopia. It has taken me a while to get to it, but here is what I have learned.


Although Ethiopia is in the tropics, just north of the equator, its high altitude keeps the temperatures relatively cool. The temperatures vary with altitude. In the highest mountains, known as the dega or cool zone by Ethiopians, daytime temperatures range from freezing to 60 degrees F in the hot months. The temperate or weina dega zone has temperatures from 60 to 86 degrees F during the day and a sweater is needed at night. The kolla zone, which lies below 5000 feet in the desserts and at the bottom of big river gorges, has daytime temperatures that average 80 degrees F.


Ethiopia has a rainy season, they call the rains kremt. Kremt begins at the end of June and end in September. The rains are a vital planting time for the Ethiopians. They are a time of concern for adopting parents because the courts close during the rains. I have been told that the electricity is so unreliable during this time that they just close the courts. No one wants to receive a referral and then have their case put on hold when the courts are closed.


There is often a short rain, called belg, about Easter when another planting may be possible. The southern part of the country is influenced by monsoons blowing in from the Indian Ocean.


So although Ethiopia is cooler than one may guess for the tropical spot it holds on the map, it is warm compared to our current weather!


Weather has been the major topic of the weekend. With the blizzard that blew through here, Chad has been moving snow like crazy. (Our business does snow removal along with commercial general contracting and earthwork.) He has only slept about 10 hours since we got home from Christmas. Our kids had a blast playing outside this afternoon while I shoveled away. Don't you miss the day when snow was fun instead of work?


It will be fun to see how Joshua reacts to snow next winter. Sierra has always loved to play in the snow, while Krissy does not. The first time I brought her out in the snow as a toddler, she stood in one place and cried! She still is grumpy the first morning she wakes up to snow. So he will be in good company no matter how he feels about the cold white stuff.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009

Chad's sister and hubby-to-be surprised us with this Bible. Half of each page is written an Amharic, the other half is in English. Amharic is written in a Ge'ez script known as Fidel. I just learned that there is no standard way to translate Amharic into the Latin (our) alphabet, thus the words I find spelled differently by different sources. The script is beautiful; and although I will most likely never be able to read it, I love being able to see it! It was such a cool surprise!



Some of Chad's family members enjoying Christmas eve dinner.



Brenna showing off the pretty hair-do Auntie Teresa and Krissy gave her.



Joshua's first Christmas gift. Grammy brought it for him, because she is so sweet and because all little boys love big trucks! Cousin Addi reminded us that little girls like then too! I can not wait until they can play with it together.



Riley was too tired to care when the girls put reindeer antlers on him!



Jamison showing off his Colt's Coke can from Santa. (Jay is a major Colt's fan.) Also notice his hat - Teresa and Jeremy found it for him - it has the Ethiopian flag in the brim.


Sierra is showing you the CPK Santa left her. It is so cute and smells so good!



Grandpa Scott bought a wii for Grandma Donna. The kids and dad's had the most fun so far. Krissy is still sore from boxing. Even the youngest kids had fun with bowling and frisbee.


My Grandma - who turns 75 today- made each of the kids a beautiful quilt. Jamison's is all denim, very masculine and truly heavy. Sierra's is all greens, her favorite color. Krissy's is all flannel and oh-so-soft. Brenna's is pink, is there anything better than pink? We all love to fix beds at Grandma Great's house because then we can admire the pretty quilts she has on each one. The kids were all truly thrilled to receive a quilt of their own.


Thank you Grandma!


Happy Birthday! We love you and hope to see you soon!


Chad and I, Sierra insisted we have a photo taken too.
We had a very nice Christmas! We enjoyed time with most of our family members, more food than anyone should enjoy in a weekend, and warm shelter from the storm outside. We are certainly blessed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in Ethiopia


We had a wonderful and VERY snowy Christmas. I will post some pictures in the next day or so.
But first I wanted to share what I have learned about how Christmas is celebrated in Ethiopia.


Because Ethiopia uses the old Julian calendar, Christmas takes place on January 7th. The Amharic word for Christmas is Ganna. (I have found it spelled both genna and ganna, not sure what is corect.) Ethiopians fast (eat nothing) on Christmas Eve. At dawn on the morning of Ganna the people dress in white. Most people wear the traditional shamma. That is a white,cotton, toga-like robe that has bright colored stripes across the bottom. In urban areas some people dress in white western clothing. Mass begins at 4AM!


Modern churches are built in three circles, each within the other. (Houses are often circular as well, made of mud-plastered walls and a cone-shaped thatched roof.) The choir sings in the outer circle. Everyone who goes to mass receives a candle. The people walk around the church solemnly three times, holding their candles. They then go to the second circle where they stand, men and boys separate from women and girls, during the service. The service will last up to four hours. The center circle of the church is considered the most holy place. It is reserved for the priests and is where holy communion is served.


It is believed that one of the wise men, King Balthazar, was an Ethiopian. He brought frankincense to baby Jesus.


After church, people return home to break their fast. The people will commonly eat injera (their sour dough flat bread made of teff flour), wat (a spicy stew that contains meat, vegetables, and sometimes eggs), and ganna dabo (a Christmas bread). The meal itself is very festive. Many people give up meat for 40 days before Ganna - so eating a meaty stew is especially wonderful!


Gifts are not typical. However if children receive gifts, they are given clothing.


Christmas is a day for faith, family, feasting and games! Ethiopian men and boys gather to play a game that is much like field hockey. It is called ganna (yep same word they use for Christmas). The game is played with a curved stick and a round wooden ball. Competing villages have been known to play for several days and the rivalry can be fierce! According to tradition, the shepherds celebrated when they heard of Jesus' birth by playing a similar game. The picture at the top of this post is of the game ganna being played.


I hope you found that is interesting as I did. Malkam Ganna! Merry Christmas in Amharic.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Dog's Life


Ever been jealous of a dog?


I was today! Why? Because while I have spent the last 2 days frantically unpacking, washing, folding, and putting away 20+ loads of laundry, cleaning 4 bathrooms, scrubbing, vacuuming, changing bedding, catching up at the office, buying groceries, cooking, wrapping gifts, setting up my basement to seat 22 for dinner tomorrow, etc... my dog slept!


Riley got to stay at Grammy's house while we were in Florida. He came home as tired as the rest of us. He truly slept all day, he did not even eat or drink until 6:30 this evening. Oh, to be a dog!


But I am now officially ready for Christmas! We will host Chad's extended family for Christmas Eve. Getting ready was hard with the trip and all, but I love to have them and I am really looking forward to the day.


When our house clears out we will go to my parent's home for our annual sleep-over. We live in the same town as my parents but we still sleep there every Christmas Eve. Even as a grown-up I love being able to "go home" for Christmas. I love waking up in my childhood bedroom, having coffee with my parents in my pj's, and together watching the kids open their stockings. I love the the way my mom has combined so many traditions from my dad's side of the family, her own side of the family, and some new one's that are purely our own to make a day we look forward to all year. I cherish the security of the love that we share. I am so blessed.


I did not get Christmas cards sent this year. I may just surprise you on Valentine's Day or something. However, we do wish you the merriest of Christmases. May "peace on Earth and goodwill toward men" reign in your hearts and homes. May you truly know the love and acceptance of the Savior whose birth we celebrate. We love you!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trip to Disney World 2009
















We had a wonderful trip to Disney World. It is the trip our children asked for and I am humbled and thankful that we were able to make their wish a reality. I could tell you so many things, but instead enjoy a few photos of our family exploring together. We had a blast on the rides. We all love rides and are fairly fearless, so we enjoyed as many as possible. Our favorites were Expedition Everest and Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom; Soarin' and Test Track at Epcot; and Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios. It was way too crowded to enjoy Magic Kingdom, so no favorites there. We also enjoyed some fun shows and some amazing food. (The food was a wonderful surprise to me. I was afraid I would have to eat fries and burgers all week, YUCK!)
Anyway, we have lots of stories to tell anyone who asks!
Chad and I are love rides, but we are not big on crowds so it was a stretch for us. We kept telling the kids to enjoy because we would not promise to come back. (We do want to take them on more vacations. D.C. is next on my list. But the Disnay Dream may just happen once.) They kept reminding us that we would need to bring Joshua some day. They talk about him all the time. Even in the midst of the fun and excitement of this vacation, they each made comments like, "Next time we come we will have a party of 7" or "Mom, don't you think Joshua would like this?" When we texted a picture to our extended family, my niece wanted to know where Joshua was in the picture. (She knows we will go in a trip to bring him home, and assumed that since we were on a trip we must be getting Joshua.) It astonishes me to think what a part of our family he already is!
I did recieve an emailed copy of our home study today. IAN has approved it, but Lindsey wanted me to make sure everything looked good before she sent out the notorized copy. Maybe by the end of next week we will have everything submitted?!
I had a super time spoiling my kids in Florida, but I can honestly say I have never been so happy to be HOME! Home just in time for Christmas, it doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We're Leavin' On A Jet Plane

Ever tried to pack a suitcase too full? You need to fold and refold, get someone to sit on it while you zip and still the things are sticking out the zipper. You finally get it zipped only to realize you forgot just one important thing? That has been our last 4 days! Too full!


We have packed in the company Christmas Party, a night we both look forward to all year, a full week's work (in 2 days), and packing up a family of 6. What is all the rush about? Magic Kingdom!

Last November we told our kids that we would take them anywhere in the continental US they chose as a Christmas gift this year. Outside of camping in the state, we have never taken the kids on a vacation. We were pushing for a secluded cabin in the mountains with a great fireplace, sledding, and snowmobiles. BUT they chose the vacation of every American child's dreams, Magic Kingdom! So we have been planning and saving ever since, and tomorrow is the day we fly away!


It is always challenging to leave our business. The iming of the trip turned out to be not so good despite our careful planning and rescheduling it once, for a little while we thought Chad would have to stay home. But our amazing guys have stepped up tothe challenge and we are all going! Chad is a bit burned out and plans to leave his cell phone and computer at home. What a treat for all of us! I am so excited for the kids to see their totally relaxed Dad play with them at Disney World. We will have my cell if you need anything, but we will not blog, email, or call otherwise. (OK so Krissy will be texting continually) Chad and I are just going to pour out love, laughter, fun, and excitement onto our 4 amazing kidos.

We did not receive our home study this week, but I am totally OK with that. There is an amazing story about why things took a little longer than we expected and I am thrilled to wait. (The story has nothing to do with us, but it did bring a little girl home to a family for Christmas! Can you think of any better reason to wait?) I am hoping it will be with our mail when we return and we can have things submitted by my birthday. Time will tell! Regardless it will be an amazing next year.

If you want a glimpse of what our trip to bring Joshua home may be like check out www.teamalexander.blogspot.com. They brought their 3 yr old son home about a month ago and the mom is now blogging about the experience in Addis Ababa, Ethiopioa day by day. Her post today talked about meeting their son for the first time. He was waiting for them, waiting for it to be HIS turn to meet and leave in the "beep, beep" with a family. Made me cry, especially the part about how the only sadness in the day was thinking about how much fun it would have been for her children at home to share the day with them. Major boo hoo there! Our entire family will not travel to receive Joshua either, but God willing we will all celebrate Christmas together next year.


I have packing to finish, kids to tuck in, and a house to clean! I will post lots of pictures of my beautiful smiling children and husband when we return!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Comfort From The Comforter

I sat down at my desk this morning and these are the words that greeted me from my daily calendar.

"For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones." Isaiah 49:13

God responds our prayers and reassures us in the most unexpected and awesome ways. A store bought calendar has a scripture that addresses the concern in my heart for our son in Ethiopia, coincidence? Not a chance! Thank you Father for speaking to me and for taking care of Joshua.


Krissy's EBay auctions closed today and she raised another $118.22! I would say Aunt Teresa's unused Christmas collectibles are being put to a much better use. Thanks again!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"not under my heart, but in it"

Off and on in my life I have heard the saying that an adopted child is not created under your heart but in it. I always thought, "oh that's a nice way to think of it" not with cynicism but not with any kind of understanding either. I am learning!

Chad and I had one of those perfect conversations last night. It was deep and real and beautiful. One of those rare moments when 2 people understand each other perfectly. We were discussing how our hearts have changed so dramatically. Four months ago we were blissfully enjoying life, with no thoughts of another child in sight. Now our hearts collectively ache for a son we are convinced we will raise. We talked about attachment and Chad echoed my heart when he said, "I am just not worried about loving our son. I feel like I love him already and I have not even seen his face. I can hardly wait to squeeze his cheeks and kiss his face."

How does that work? How is it even possible? When I was carrying our first four children it made more sense, they were physically a part of me. I could feel them kick and hiccup. I could watch us grow. This time it is my only heart that is growing, but it is much more mysterious and painful. Is Joshua OK? Is he hungry? Why will he need us? Oh his poor Ethiopian mother, what is happening in her life? I hope she knows how much we love her boy. I hope she senses that God has a plan for him, even in her darkest hour.

Some days I find myself thinking of him constantly. I will be driving across town and my eyes will fill with tears. That is not like me! At those moments I pray for him and his family without ceasing, and I wonder if they are in dire need of my prayers or if I am just losing it. I will probably never know. The last 2 days have felt like that, like God keeps whispering Joshua needs you to pray. So join me in praying for him, I may be losing it - but prayer is never wasted.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Progress

While I was out chatting with some new friends last night, Chad was busy sheetrocking the closet in Sierra's new room. What a fun surprise to come home to!

What was I up to while Chad slaved away? I was having coffee with some new friends!

One of my lingering concerns in adopting a son from Ethiopia has been our ability or really lack of ability to provide Joshua with other Ethiopian(or even just black) friends and mentors. I find myself counting how many kids walk by my car at our Elementary school that are not white. How does it feel to be a minority in our community? I have NO experience with those feelings. I have always been able to blend-in physically to any crowd I have ever been a part of. I have been praying that God would connect our family to other families that can provide support and reassurance as we raise Joshua.


Last night God began answering that prayer. I was invited to have coffee with 5 other local mom's who have or are in the process of adopting children from Ethiopia. Between us we were able to list several other families with children who were born in Africa. I think the count we came up with was about 10. Now 10 does not sound like many, but it makes my heart happy to know that I will be able to arrange play dates for Joshua and myself with those 10 kidos. I will have other moms to talk to about all the special issues that may come up! We will not be alone, God is already providing support, advice, and direction from real live people in my community. Isn't he amazing?
We had our final home study meeting today. It was really just some follow up on things we have already covered. We discussed more about attachment and bi-racial parenting. Lindsey had a few questions that she wanted clarified about our childhood, finances, and our kids' likes/dislikes, how we are preparing them for Joshua's arrival. Nothing too earth shattering. She is planning to send the home study off to her mom/boss for review, and also to IAN (our adoption agency). Once everyone signs off on it, she will send us the final copy. Then we take that copy to the sec. of state to have it certified, send it along with all the rest of the documents we have gathered for our dossier to IAN, and THEN we are on the waiting list.
I would be thrilled if all that happened before we go on vacation next week, but it is unlikely. It may even be January before everything gets sent off because of our trip, Christmas, and the New Year's holidays. I am a little disappointed at that thought, but I am also OK. I know God has this timing all figured out. Our dossier will get there at the right time to be matched with the right little boy. I am only human and I get impatient sometimes, but I try to remind myself who is in control here. It is most definitely not ME! Here is the verse I and so many other adopting families rest in, "God sets the lonely into families." Psalm 68:6. God and God alone has this all figured out, my job is to trust and wait on him.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Ethiopia Resources


Remember how I mentioned Chad will love eating and preparing Ethiopian food? This was the pile of peppers he cut up Saturday morning to put into his chili!


I also have discovered that I am appropriately named. The Ethiopian stew that is made for people who do not enjoy their food so fiery is called "alicha" (ah-lee-cha). Is that not too funny?!



Pictured above are my latest Ethiopian book purchases. I am so excited about them. There is a book for each age and reading level in my household. The "Tsion's Life" book is my favorite. It combines the story of a real 11 year old Ethiopian girl with some brief facts and statistics about Ethiopia. The pictures are beautiful and some Amharic works are even introduced. I found these books at http://www.amharickids.com/. They were a little pricey for this half.com book shopper, but they are beautiful!
Last update for today - Krissy already sold one of the items she listed yesterday and her dad let her have the money from the pop machine at work, so she made $65 today! She is having fun watching her auction items on EBay, more $$$ yet to come. Thanks Grammy and Teresa!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Krissy's Making Some Money

Krissy has been busy raising money to pay for her portion of the travel expenses to Ethiopia this weekend. I mentioned a while ago that Krissy really wanted to travel with me to bring Joshua home. Although we were very supportive of her joining me, we did not estimate her coming with in our adoption budget, so we need to raise the money for her travel expenses. Anyway, she has been a busy girl this weekend, working hard to pay her way.

Saturday she went to Chad's Aunt's house and helped with some cleaning and holiday decorating. She even wrapped a few gifts. Aunt Gale was so thoughtful! She contacted us last week with the offer to pay Krissy to help with some of these household items as a way to earn travel money. Krissy and I were both excited. She was able to raise some money and at the same time spend some one on one time with her Aunt.

Today she spent at her Grammy's house learning about EBay. Her very creative and giving Aunt Teresa donated some items that she is no longer using for Krissy to sell on EBay. (Do we not have the most amazing family!) Grammy is an EBay expert so she helped Krissy get all the items listed. Krissy helped Grammy figure out her new digital camera, so they both learned a lot today.

I am so thankful for the help and support of our family! I have put raising money for Krissy on the back burner for now. My brain has been full getting paperwork done, researching various adoption related items, preparing for Christmas, and working through some end of the year paperwork at work. We do have plenty of time to raise the money, but working on it a bit at a time makes it much easier. It also keeps it feeling real to Krissy. It is so exciting to see the total she needs to travel slowly get smaller!

I am hoping that the majority of her funds can be raised through a combination of donations and service related projects. I also plan to apply for some grants. Krissy is a great babysitter, cook, cleaner (just not her own room), lawn mower, house sitter, gift wrapper, birthday party helper, etc... If you could use an extra hand, let us know!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Trying Ethiopian Recipes

I love to host occasions, anything from birthdays to baby showers. I love to plan a menu whether simple or elaborate and try new things. Since deciding to adopt an Ethiopian child, I have been trying to learn about the things that culture likes to eat.

I have decided that Chad will be a much better Ethiopian eater and cook than I will be! Their food is known to be spicy with lots of onions (my least favorite food!), peppers, and other veggies. (I try but I am not too much of a veggie eater, especially the spicy ones like onions and peppers.)

Berbere (bar-bare-ree) is the most common cooking spice. According to my most recent reading, it is actually a combination of spices that begins with very hot red chili peppers. Up to 20 other spices are added to the mix. Spices like garlic, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, etc are added as per the cooks special taste. Traditionally Ethiopian women go to market and choose exactly which spices they will use for there berbere. They dry the red chilis themselves and then grinds them along with all the other spices they have chosen with a mortar and pestle. It is very time consuming (seriously, can you imagine grinding spices by hand!) so they often make big quantities, like 15 pounds at a time.

Does making a special spice blend to match your taste not sound like my husband! He creates everything he cooks to taste, no recipes for my man. And spicy is his middle name. One year he made deer sausage so spicy the kids still argue when he mentions hunting for a doe. (The year after the too spicy sausage he had a buck tag. In order to get the kids to try deer sausage again, we convinced them that just does were spicy. It worked, but they prefer horned game now! Chad says it worked out quite well in the end, he would much rather hunt horned game anyway!)

Ethiopia was not introduced to sugar until 1934. They still much prefer spicy, salty snacks to sweet. The coffee ceremony is a very important part of entertaining. ( I will bore you with the details I have learned about that another time.) With coffee they serve spiced popcorn or little spicy crackers called kolo (koh-loh). I LOVE popcorn, so I tried a recipe I found for Ethiopian spiced popcorn tonight.

Want to try it?
To a big bowl of popped corn (I popped mine in oil, more authentic and I hate microwave popcorn) add:
2 T Melted Butter
1/2 tsp each of cayenne pepper and paprika
1/4 tsp each of cumin and garlic powder
Mix the spices into the melted butter and pour over the popped corn, salt to taste.

I thought it was pretty yummy!

Better watch out coming to eat at our house for a while. I have some bebere on order and I plan to keep experimenting. If you have Ethiopian recipes send them my way. I figure when kids are toddlers trying new foods can be pretty daunting. If we can make a few things that will not seem so foreign for Joshua, hopefully trying our family favorites will seem a little less weird. I may need some Tums though, even the recipe I found for eggs has jalapeno, garlic, ginger, cardamom, and onions in it! Yuck, I say - Chad just grins! He's going to enjoy this!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

12!


Jamison turned 12 today!
He brought donuts to his class, as a 6th grader it is probably the last time he will bring birthday treats to school! We took him to Texas Roadhous for supper for his favorite meal... steak. We bought him an IPOD nano. He is having a blast with it, especially making videos. I think he told me thank you 12 times. What a great kid!
His real party plans are to watch college football and eat chili and football munchies with his uncles Saturday night. (I think it may be the first kids' birthday party that the men in the family truly want to attend!) He is actually more of an NFL fan, but what fun is a party Sunday afternoon?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crazy Coincidences

I as in a business meeting today. I was meeting with a 50ish, white, red-headed woman about investments. As part of the "pre-meeting small talk" our Ethiopian adoption came up. She responds, "I used to live in Ethiopia!" (Go figure?!?)

Her father was in the army, and when she was 12 they were stationed in Ethiopia. We spoke extremely briefly about her memories - both wishing for a lunch date to finish the conversation. She does not live here so unfortunately lunch won't happen.

Anyway, fast forward to the end of the meeting and she asks me, "Why Ethiopia?" I laughed and told her we really DO need a long lunch! I then responded that the short answer is after watching a video on Ethiopian adoption God just totally took over my heart. He really did not let me rest until I submitted to his will and we started filling out the paperwork to bring home "Joshua." She got really quiet for a minute and responded, "He must be a really special little boy."

Our thoughts exactly!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Transformations!


My handsome, creative, hard-working, ever-patient husband surprised Sierra and I today. I took a nap and when I woke up, he was out and about gathering supplies and tools to begin transforming my workout room into Sierra's bedroom. (Notice Sierra keeping her eye on her Dad and herself out of his way. )

We got the room cleared in record time. He has the closet almost framed as I type. He added a couple nooks on the end for Sierra to put her alarm clock and some knick-knacks. Chad always thinks of everything! He makes us all feel special and thoughtfully considered.
The second transformation of the day was the decorating of the Christmas tree. That is the decorating item I save for the kids. I love to hear them remembering ornaments as they put them on the tree. I usually select one for each of them each year, or take them shopping so they can choose their own. Jamison commented that we better find one for Joshua this year so he can put it on himself next year.








The finished product!
Notice the treadmill in the corner? Can you believe I am thrilled to have the ugly thing taking up space in my beautiful family room? I did love the novelty of having a workout room, but I feel so happy to put the room to much better use!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Isn't It Funny How You Can Miss Someone

you've never met?

I have had an amazing weekend. I had 28 people for Thanksgiving, potluck - I did not cook it all! It was a blast and the food was oh-so-good.

I spent a full 20 hours decorating. I love to clean and decorate for Christmas. I love lights, Santas, Nativity scenes, angels, ornaments, garland, trees, and lots of candles.

I went out for supper with only adults!

I watched 2 cute movies!

I slept in AND Chad made me breakfast 2 mornings in a row.

I went to a baby shower.

I fit in a long run, OK not as long as I once could, but at least not rushed. And Thank You God that I CAN run. Might be slow but I am able.

I shopped, mostly on cyberspace - no wait there.

I had supper with my bro and family. We drew secret Santa names, one of my favorite traditions. I chatted a long time with my sis-in law who I adore. All the kids had a ball playing. Such sweet family time.

It has been a full and wonderful weekend, my heart is mostly happy - but still I long. I long for a little boy I have yet to meet or hug or rock. A little boy who is in a whole different country, a world away. But God willing, he will be here to dance with my tacky "Holly Jolly Santa" next year. How great will it be to celebrate Christmas with Joshua next year? Fills my eyes with happy tears of anticipation of so many things to come.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Beautiful Family Picture



This is a Thanksgiving art project Brenna completed at school. It is the first picture we have of our future family. Isn't it spectacular?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving ABCs

This week I heard a story about 2 friends who run together. They have a tradition to do a long run on Thanksgiving Day and during the run they each list at least one thing they are thankful for starting with every letter in the alphabet. Hopefully, I will get the chance to go on a long run this Thanksgiving weekend and count my blessings, but just in case I don't I thought I would post my ABC list here. (Besides after forcing it on my kids, I owe them!)


A - Almighty God's presence and direction in my life

B- Brenna Joy, my independent, rational, kind-hearted, brilliant youngest daughter

C- Camping! Many of my best family memories have a boat, campfire, or camper in them.

D- Dad, who is wise, intentional, honest, Godly, and loving

E- Enough; I am blessed with enough of everything important.

F- Family and Friends to love, support, encourage, help, and advise me

G- Grandparents that have provided amazing examples of who/how I should be.

H- Home; I am thankful for a spacious, warm home with an empty bedroom, soon to be filled.

I- Intelligence, Independence, Information, and the Internet

J- Jamison Chad, my amazing,smart, athletic, kind, mischievous, double-dimpled son

K- Krissy, my beautiful, smart, self-sufficient, thoughtful, oldest daughter

L- Love, the one thing I have be so lucky to never lack.

M- Mom, my friend, confidant, cheerleader, prayer warrior, and mentor

N- New and old friends to guide my way and lighten my load

O- Occupation that allows me to keep my priorities my priorities, almost all the time

P- Prayer, how awesome that God allows us to speak to him.

Q- Quiet. I love silence. When I am home alone nothing is turned on.

R- Riley, my dog, my ever-loyal partner in a quiet office and on the running trail

S- Sierra Faith, my sweet, silly, enthusiastic, energetic, irrepressible middle daughter

T- Time for all my favorite things, running, cuddling, reading, boating, movie watching...

U- Unexpected blessings; like flowers from Chad, a card in the mail, a hug, this adoption

V- Vacations!

W- Wonderful relationship with Chad,my amazing husband/boss/best friend/biggest fan

X- Xceptence (acceptance);I am loved and accepted for who and what I am by many.

Y- You! Thank you for caring enough to read this and taking a moment to be thankful with me.

Z- Zeal; I am filled with excitement, passion, and energy.


And I could go on! Take a moment today to be thankful and to share your thankful thoughts with the ones you love. (Maybe even get interactive and leave me a comment with your reasons to be thankful!)


Happy Thanksgiving!

Do I Have to Make a List?

By Jamison, age 11


(obviously mom's answer was YES! you have to)
  1. Football
  2. Basketball
  3. Food
  4. Family
  5. Friends
  6. My teacher
  7. Wildlife
  8. God/Jesus
  9. Our Pastor

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Thankful Things

By Brenna age 6

  1. Jesus
  2. Friends
  3. Mom
  4. Family
  5. God
  6. Ethiopia
  7. America
  8. Texas
  9. Cousins
  10. Dogs
  11. Cats
  12. Animals
  13. World
  14. Stars
  15. Thanksgiving
  16. Christmas
  17. Valentine's Day
  18. Veterans
  19. Halloween
  20. Ice Cream
  21. Cookie Dough
  22. Junk Food
  23. Butterflies
  24. Caterpillars
  25. Spiders
  26. Camping
  27. S'mores
  28. Camper
  29. Cars
  30. TV
  31. Couch
  32. Clothes
  33. Bed
  34. Stove
  35. Food
  36. House
  37. Silverware
  38. School
  39. Bikes
  40. Scooters
  41. Skateboards
  42. Movie Theatre
  43. Deer Hunting (GIRL'S NIGHT!)
  44. People
  45. Indianapolis Colts Football
  46. Dautry
  47. Skillet
  48. NickelBack

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Things That I Am Thankful For

By Sierra, age 10

  1. Family
  2. Air/breath
  3. Food and water
  4. My house and everything in it
  5. Stores
  6. Friends
  7. Teachers
  8. Schools
  9. Church
  10. God and Jesus
  11. Riley
  12. Camping


*** A note from Mom - I love Thanksgiving, it might be my favorite holiday. To me it is a day of rest, relaxation, and relationships before the RUSH of the Christmas Season. I love taking a time to list and appreciate all the things I have to be thankful for - that list seems to grow each year. One of my goals as a mom is to raise kids that are appreciative of all that they have been blessed with. Each year, I expect our kids to write a list of things they are thankful for before they make a Christmas wish list. I hope it helps them realize all that they have in the midst of dreaming of Christmas gifts. This year I have asked them to post their lists on our blog. I hope as you read our thankful thoughts each day this week, you take a moment to count your blessings too. Happy Thanksgiving!***

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Blankey for our Boy

I was shopping for a baby gift for Chad's cousin today. The baby shower is a week away, but I had a few minutes to spare and what is more fun than baby stuff? So I printed off her registry and started searching the aisles, when I found it!


Joshua's Blanket! It is somewhere between navy and royal blue, it is super soft, and it had silky trim around the whole edge. It reminds me a little of the baby blue blanket that Jamison named "Bluey" and drug everywhere until it fell apart. We spent a lot of hours looking for that blanket, but more importantly it brought Jamison a lot of comfort and joy.


I have spent every minute I can spare this week reading a book titled "Attaching In Adoption." It is the most psychological/clinical book I have read since I had child development and child psychology classes in college. It could be scaring me - there are a lot of potential difficulties in a three year old attaching to us and us to him. However, I am surprisingly peaceful. It feels good to know what some of the issues may be. I am a very black and white thinker and I am well aware that becoming a family will be a process. Having a resource to help us prepare encourages me. It is filled with examples of real hurts and trials, but it is also filled with hope and techniques to turn the trials into successes.

Reading this book has given me some places to start. It suggests lots of cuddling, touching, and holding. It suggests things like rocking and bottle feeding even an older child to fill an emotional need of being cared for that may never have been met. It stresses routine, structure, and stability along with lots and lots and lots of nurturing.

It explains that emotional "age" can be different than chronological age. Just because a child has mastered walking or talking does not mean his emotional maturity is at that same place.

It talks about grief. Joshua will grieve leaving the country of his birth. He will grieve the loss of his birthparents. He will grieve the loss of familiarity. (Duh!) BUT it is good to read it, to think about it, to prepare to help him through those feelings without feeling like we are doing something wrong. Of course it would be better if he could be with his birthparents in his home country. We all long for our parents to be who and what we need - but that is not always the reality.

Anyway, I am so thankful that I am longing to comfort Joshua as I read this book and not fearing it will be too hard... too much. It will most likely feel that way at times. How could it not? I know I have too hard... too much moments with my "homegrown four." But I trust God to give us enough love, knowledge, patience, time, and energy to deal with each trial as it comes.

So sweet boy, your family has open arms, a great rocking chair, and a soft cozy blanket waiting to hold you and comfort you - all in God's perfect time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ramblings

I have officed out of our home the last two days. I do love days at home in place of my sometimes lonely brown office, but unfortunately I spent the last days at home because Brenna was sick. She is running a fever, achy, and plain old miserable. (That is what I get for bringing a healthy child to the clinic for a check-up.)

Between having more time at home this week and the cooler days which makes me want to cook, clean, and get to all those projects that have been put off all summer, I find myself ready to nest. I keep telling myself to proceed with caution! Poor Chad cut his palm last week making sausage and it is very sore, it is still deer season - one more tag to fill this weekend, work is the busiest it has ever been, and my amazing and oh so talented contractor husband hates home improvement projects. Sound like a recipe for disaster? Patience and caution I tell you that is how I must proceed.

I have a sweet blond ally on the first and biggest project on the list. SIERRA! We bought Sierra a new bed, bedding, and nightstand for her birthday. She has to wait to use it until she moves into her new room. Before she can move in a closet needs to be built, the walls painted, and carpet installed. Her bed arrived by FedEx this morning, so now he will have 2 excited girls driving him crazy. (We will do our best to behave. Besides we know that he really will not be able to dive into the bedroom project until after Christmas... but maybe he could start on the other minor projects like that piece of trim in the family room. J/K I will behave!)

The one thing I do plan to do in the mean time is sell/give away/throw out some excess stuff. So if you need a white and brass day bed, a Foosball table, or a cute little cabinet for a TV let me know. They are on my going, going, gone list.

I need to clear some space in the family room for toys for a little boy, and make an office area and a workout area for his mom. We feel it will be very important for Joshua's attachment to spend as little time away from us as possible. We hope that he will be able to come with to the office some. I will office from home a little more than now, and I will probably have to work some evenings/early mornings. I am so thankful once again that I have such a flexible work schedule AND such an amazing boss. (FYI I work for my darling husband. I make sure the bills and guys are paid, he does all the hard stuff.)

Today is a HUGE day in the life of our beautiful Krissy. New Moon, the second movie in the "Twilight Series" is at our theatre. She is going with some girlfriends and has been PUMPED all week. I get the honor of picking them up at the theatre at 11 PM and then 4 excited, giggling 13 yr olds plan to have a no-sleep-over at our house. Should be interesting!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Double Digits

Sierra Faith is 10 years old today!

We had all our family over for pizza and ice cream cake - Sierra's choice.

I had to add this picture of Krissy and her littlest cousin because it is soooo cute, and she does not let me snap pictures of her very often.



I am so thankful for our enthusiastic, sweet, silly, smart, social, cheerleader. Sierra is completely full of positive energy. She has one of the most compassionate hearts ever, and is so thoughtful and kind. She is spunky and fun. She is sometimes quick to anger, but she is just as quick to forgive. I adore her.
I also love having a house full of people. We are so lucky to have so many friends and family members close by!
***My "friends" the Howletts passed court last night. Yeah! I also recommend you watch the homecoming video on Soli Deo Gloria today. The little boy they just brought home is about the age we think Joshua will be. It was fun and exciting for me to see pictures of his first introduction with his siblings and extended family. When I showed the video to Sierra she said, "Just think Mom before too long that will be us!"***

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blog watching

Before considering adoption, I was NOT a computer junky. I did not ever sit with my computer and look at blogs, facebook, or even shop much. I worked at my computer during the day and used it for research when necessary. When I started to research adoption like a crazy lady, I discovered blogs. The blogs I began watching helped me to understand the process of adoption. I looked back in blog posts to see what writers were thinking and feeling at different points in their adoption. I looked at their time lines, information about travel, and how they adapted after their children came home. Brave souls sharing a glimpse into their family helped me to feel brave.

Anyway all the blogs I have listed on the lower left margin of my blog have inspired me in some way. They have changed my view of the world.

Leap of Love is our friends whose letter started me thinking.

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet was in Ethiopia bringing their children home as we were deciding to adopt. She is a gifted writer and reading their story of transition reassures me.

Our Silly Monkeys is a local lady who adopted through our agency last summer. She has been kind enough to answer many of my questions.

Lucy Lane was the adoption "gotcha day" video that would not leave me. Her blog is a steady stream of adoption inspiration.

Soli Deo Gloria just returned home with another Ethiopian son. I was moved by their journey last week. Reading of their union with their son was amazing and exciting for this future mom.

The Wayfarer is a family that adopted two little boys. She posts great info. on everything. This week she had a detailed post about what it is like for an American to stay in Ethiopia.

The Howletts adopted a baby a while ago and are going back for a little boy soon. I began watching them because their children were older when they adopted the baby and I was curious to see how the older kids did. Now I watch because the son they are adopting is near the age I think Joshua will be. They are actually the reason I add this post tonight. I read on their blog that their adoption goes to court as we sleep tonight. Court is a crazy thing sometimes, please pray as you go to sleep tonight that they receive the news tomorrow that they officially have a son.

I have IAN in parenthesis by the blogs of families that use the same placement agency as we are. That way if you choose to watch them too you will know if they were at Sele Enat, the orphanage that Joshua will come from.

Sometimes, it's all about the small stuff!

Some little signs that we've made a good decision.

1. Brenna told her doctor today that she has three brothers. Jamison, Joshua, and Riley (our dog).

2. When asked if he was excited about the adoption by our home study agent Jamison said with a double dimple grin, "Yeah! I'm really excited!" (In some ways I have worried about Jay and Brenna most in this transition. Jamison because he has been the only boy. Brenna because Joshua will replace her spot as our baby. I know it will restack the deck for all the kids, but I feel especially maybe more so for Jay and Brenna. It makes me happy to see them doing so well.)

3. Our pediatrician could not have been more enthusiastic about our decision. He told us that in his experience children from Ethiopia do really well. Their health status is honestly revealed. The Ethiopian people are very affectionate, hugging and kissing their children often. Even in the orphanage children are held and hugged frequently. One of his patients is a little girl that just came home last summer (she was adopted from the same orphanage that Joshua will come from), he called her totally awesome. When she comes in we all get huge hugs. He said he will be happy to look through a referral when we get it. He told me in moments I wonder if I can do enough or am the right person to raise Joshua to remember that anything I can do will be so much more than he would have received in his home country. I respect this doctor so much. I was a little nervous to visit with him today, because his disapproval would have been hard to take. His enthusiasm was much appreciated!

4. On a daily basis I hear one of the kids say "When Joshua comes home what do you think Riley will think." or "Do you think our cousins should be able to carry him?" or "Do you think Joshua will like our food?" It excited me that they are starting to include thoughts of him in their plans for the future.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Excerpts from "There Is No Me Without You"

I just finished reading "There Is No Me Without You" by Melissa Fay Greene. It is a book about one woman's attempt to rescue Ethiopian orphans. It was a hard book to read because it was so filled with hunger, disease, poverty, grief, and strife. There was not a lot of hope. The story of one pair of orphans particularily moved me. I would like to share it with you.

In 2003 Mekdes Asnake was 5 years old and lived with her grandfather Addisu, her young aunt Fasika and her little brother Yabsira, in a hut on a shared dirt compound outside the capitol. The walls of her house were a hard mix of mud and straw; the windows were open squares cut into the walls. Sometimes the family had firewood; when they did not, the circle of ashes on the floor was black and the hut was cold. They subsisted, year-round on eggs.

The children's father had been a day laborer in coffee processing. One day when Mekdes was 3 or 4 years old and waiting impatiently for him to come home and play with her, she saw a strange thing happen; he approached the house but suddenly knelt and lay full legnth on the dirt courtyard for a while, before getting up and coming inside.

Later, when her father got sick, Mekdes felt he must have caught the bad sickness that day from the dirt. He got thinner and thinner over the next few months, with a look of surprise in his brown eyes. Then thick black blisters erupted on his skin and he cried out from the pain during the day and groaned with it during the night. Mekdes thought he would get better. She was shocked when she woke up one night to the haunting sound of her mother, Mulu, howling over Asnake's wasted body.

Mekdes had not yet recovered from the horror of Asnake's death when her mother began to get the same disappointed, surprised look on her face.....

(I skip ahead to the children being left at a foster home because their grandfather and aunt are too poor to care for them.)

Mekdes felt the air at her back, suddenly aware that her aunts were no longer behind her - they were walking toward the exit! Mekdes shrieked and ran after them. How would she find her way home to her grandfather? Aunt Fasika and Aunt Zewdenesh turned around; they stroked Mekdes' face, kissed her many times, and told her good-bye.

Mekdes turned inside out with grief and terror. She understood; she was being abandoned! She arched her back in protest. She pulled out of the foster mother's grasp, fell backward to the ground, and writhed there beginning to shriek.

(Mekdes proceded to throw herself against the door to the compound so hard it knocked her to the ground again and again. The author could not stand watching the scene, Mekdes throwing herself at the gate berserk with grief and terror, the Aunt's on the other side listening and weeping. She asked her driver if she gave the family all her cash $200 would they be able to raise the children? No he told her they are too poor to raise them.)

The foster mother approached and took the thrashing child. Mekdes twisted and flailed and cried, and the foster mother, with squinting eyes, averted face, and strong arms, absorbed the blows. She was used to this.

(Fast forward to 2005 - Mekdes and brother Yabsira have been adopted by an American couple in Atlanta.)

Mekdes keeps alive the memory of her first parents and drills her brother on the family history.

"Who is our mother?" she demands.

"Mulu!" she yells if he hesitates.

"What was our father's name?"

"Asnake," says Yabsira.

"Good," says Mekdes.

While still in the apartment in Addis Ababa(right after they were united with their American parents), Mekdes drew 6 stick figures and labeled them: Mekdes, Yabsira, Mommy, Daddy, Mulu, Asnake. She asked her parents to tape them to the bedroom wall.

"Mommy, did Granny get you out of her stomach or out of Ethiopia?" she asked one day.

On another day, she began a story and stopped: "When I was with my mo- I mean Mulu."

"Baby, you can say Momma," Mikki (her American mother) said.

"Do you like Mulu Mommy?"

"I love Mulu!" said Mikki, and Mekdes embraced her.

Mekdes soon told her mother about the day her aunts took her to the foster home. "Yabsira cry a little. I am scream."

"Why did you cry, baby?" asked Mikki.

"I don't know this Ethiopia. I want my Ethiopia with Goshay (grandfather) and Fasika. I don't want new Ethiopia."

"You were sad," said Mikki.

"No hope, Mommy. I have no hope."

"oh, honey..."

"Because no one told me, Mommy."

"Told you what?"

"That you are here in America. I will not feel so sad if I know you are here."

"Yeah, I was here getting ready, getting your rooms ready. I was here, me and your daddy, waiting and getting ready."

"I am cry because I don't know you will come."

Of course, for many of Africa's ten million, fifteen million, twenty million orphans, no one is getting a room ready. No one will come.

***What a crazy combination of horrible and wonderful. I bet you can understand why Mekdes' story caught my heart. We will soon be preparing a room! Please pray that our Joshua can somehow feel hope in a seeming hopeless moment.***

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What a weekend!

How much can one family of 6 pack into a weekend? More that we should!

Heading out of town with 4 kids is always crazy, but when you add to that the always unexpected demands of a business it gets even crazier. Friday as we were frantically packing and getting set to go a few things popped up. First was deer sausage. Chad and his brother (with as little help from me as I could get away with) made deer sausage last week, and it had to be smoked and packaged and frozen before we left, all 100 lbs. So we worked a little, packed a little, and worked with sausage a lot. Then, our employees informed us that there were materials they were running low on. Could we pull a trailer and pick them up? We don't usually pull a flatbed trailer with my Tahoe so we had some hitch issues, etc to deal with. We had also agreed to deliver a puppy at our first stop. (Chad's mom has German Shorthair pups she is selling, so we played FedEx.) By the time we hit the road we were already running behind and out of breath.

We found the hotel, delivered the pup to his new owner, and got the trailer dropped off in the nick of time. The really important event of the day was yet to come. Lindsey, our home study agent, met us at the hotel for our second meeting. The kids swam and we visited with Lindsey.

What was Home Study Act 2 all about? More questions! Like...

What do you think the strengths/weaknesses are in your marriage?
How do you make decisions together?
What to you do if you disagree?
What types of discipline do you use?
What types of values do you hope to instill in your kids?
How do you work to do so?
What types of responsibilities do your kids have at home?
Do the kids have any behavior/learning/social/developmental/health problems?
We talked a little about discipline and bonding/attachment with Joshua.

I realized that I have unintentionally been protecting myself a little. I have read and researched for hours about adoption in general, and about Ethiopia - trying to learn what Joshua's world is like. (I just finished a book called There is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene. It is a great combination of personal stories, and a journalistic view of the social/political/health problems in Ethiopia. It is a BIG book and heartbreaking, but also eye-opening and challenging. I would recommend it.) However, I have not allowed myself to dive into the issues like attachment and discipline or even health care. It almost feels too personal to start thinking about how we will parent HIM. When it becomes that personal it makes it hard to be patient and a little detached. By staying a little detached, I protect my heart from the wait.

Anyway, meeting with Lindsey on Friday made me excited and curious about how parenting Joshua will be different than parenting our first 4 at 3yrs old. Each of our kids are very different from each other and thus we have parented them differently to an extent, but they have all been attached to us from the beginning. Lindsey talked a little about discipline being different at first with Joshua. Since he will not be attached, he may not feel as upset if he disappoints us. He may also feel more upset than our first 4 kids would have in the same situation, like if he disappoints us we will not want him. All makes perfect sense when you take the time to think about it. I am looking forward to really investigating this topic!

We also talked about our attachment with him. Some parents feel an instant attachment and love for their adopted children and others need some time for that to develop. She reassured us that if the first moment we see Joshua, we feel nervous, uncertain, fearful, or whatever, that it is OK. Bonds take time. Love is a choice more than a feeling. (I tell you all this because you will be his family. You need information about bonding with him too - and permission to take some time to fall in love if need be.)

We set a goal with Lindsey to have all our documents turned in to IAN before Dec. 15! We should be on the wait list before Christmas! I guess I can start reading those bonding books.

So Saturday we just played. We arrived at my friend Cassie's house at 1:00. Cassie is as close to a sister as I had growing up. She is a rare friend in life. We do not have a lot in common if you dissect our lives, but in my heart she is my sister. No matter how rarely we see each other we can pick up where we left off. We spent the afternoon catching up. We met her boyfriend, played with her dogs, got a tour of her veterinary clinic, and went out for dinner.

After dinner we were off to the main event. The CONCERT! Let me tell you it was LOUD LOUD LOUD!!!!! Like so loud it was physical. Not only did it assault my ears, but the bass hit so hard it made it feel weird to breath. Chad and the kids were in heaven. I am not quite the rocker they are, but I had a great time watching them. When Skillet finally came out the crowd was deafening. I have never heard another as loud. You should have heard my Brenna cheering. It was a riot. And Chad... he was 17 again for an hour or so. The band was filled with truly amazing performers and they put on quite a show. They had 2 platform lifts that carried the guitarists high in the air at times. They had LED light shows, fireworks, and fireballs. Literally balls of fire that shot into the air. Not even a second after they were fired you could feel the heat blast your face. I can not imagine how hot it was on that stage! The other thing that was very unique was that they used a violinist and a cellist on several songs. I do not think there is another heavy metal band that does that. Let me tell you that violinist could rock! It was crazy! Brenna made it until the last song. Then she sat down on her chair and fell asleep. I tried to wake her because I had promised that I would wake her up for "Monster" her favorite song, but it was impossible. She even slept through the crowds encore cheering, which was incredible loud, and the 2 encore songs and fireworks. A lady who was sitting behind me with her youth group kids (a fellow oldie) could not believe how much fun Brenna and Sierra had. She was shocked that they knew all the words to every song. Chad figures it is a testament to his quality parenting.

We dragged everyone out of bed by 7:30 this morning so we could have breakfast with Chad's grandparents before heading home. We started for home by 10. Stopped to pick up and load the trailer with steel studs, and made it home at about 7PM. The kids were troopers every step of the way. I am so proud of them! They all worked hard to help load the trailer, and they all unpacked and got their clothes put away and the Tahoe cleaned out as soon as we got home.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SKILLET

Our family leaves tomorrow afternoon to go to a Skillet concert. I included a video for one of their newest and most popular songs in case you have never heard of them. They are a heavy metal Christian band - what a crazy combination! I love that Christian music goes WAY beyond hyms played on a pipe organ these days. They are Chad's absolute favorite band, so we bought his tickets for his birthday. Sierra loves them too, she dressed as their drummer for Halloween.

We have lots of other exciting stuff planned for this trip too. I will update with pictures next week! I hope you have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Paperwork Update

Today I received the letter from Chad's doctor for our dossier. It was the last piece of paper that I was worried about! I have a stack of things to get notarized, but that is easy. After everything is notarized I have to bring certain forms to the secretary of state to be certified. (I am learning a lot, I didn't know that was possible a few weeks ago.) Then we just wait for the home study to be completed.

In order for the home study to be completed we need a statement of health from Brenna's doctor. She has an appointment next Tuesday. Chad and I have to complete another 8 hours of training. We should be able to wipe most of that out this weekend. We will be traveling, and I can read with him as we drive. (There is not live training in our areas, so our choices are web-based training and books.) We also need to meet with Lindsey two more times. One of those times will be this Friday, the other is yet to be scheduled. And that is it... as far as I know.

Once we get the home study approved, we send it along with the rest of the dossier to IAN, our placement agency. As long as we have correctly crossed all our t's and dotted all our i's, we are then put on the wait list. I think there is a very good chance that we will be on the wait list by the middle of December.

While on the wait list we have to file an I-600A form with US Immigration and receive their approval to adopt an immigrant child. We can not accept a referral until we have a I171H - their approval. (These forms are still clear as mud to me! But what I think I understand, is that we need the home study done before we can do these US Immigration forms, we can be on the wait list without full US approval, but can not accept a referral.)

Once we receive and accept a referral, a court date will be set. That date seems to come about 8 weeks or more after the referral is accepted. Court seems to be delayed/rescheduled a lot. Once court takes place, the adoption is final - but we will have to wait 8 weeks to go and bring our son home. This is the time needed to process all the paperwork. So, for those of you wondering when will Joshua come home, the answer is God only knows! But I do not think it is humanly possible for his homecoming to be before June, and that would be very fast.

Typical time on the wait list is 5 to 8 months. We will be on one of the shorter lists, since the toddler boys list is not the most popular (when we first started this process their were little boys waiting for referrals and no one to send them to), so our wait will most likely be on the short side. But once again who knows!

I do not feel stressed about the timing at all now. I am fine with waiting. I just want to get all my stuff in so Joshua does not have to wait for us. The wait I do dread is from seeing his face(aka accepting his referral) until we go get him. At that point you will all need to distract and encourage me! I plan to save painting and arranging his room for that time period, but I am a pretty fast decorator.

My wonderful sister-in-law sent me a great waiting verse today. It comes from Habakkuk 2:3
"If it seems slow, be patient!
For it will surely take place.
It will not be late by a single day."

This feels more real every day and as it feels more real, my excitement builds!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My son on STAGE!


Ladies and Gentlemen... He Survived!
Our handsome, talented, kind, thoughtful, and very nervous son did an incredible job last night acting in his sixth grade class play!
In the play he and four classmates traveled through time in the time machine pictured to the left. They landed in several historic time periods and met some important characters from history. It was a funny well done musical play. (Jay did not sing - but he did get a headset mic. like a rock star!)







The end was my favorite part of the play. The kids totally relaxed and did a little dancing to the music. Jamison even blew a kiss to the crowd. It was a riot!
A quick update from the weekend. My hunters are all home. Krissy, Jay, and Sierra went with deer hunting this year. I think they all had a great time hanging with Grammy, Uncle Ryan, Grandpa Great, and Uncle Jim. The biggest buck ever got away, but Chad still has his buck tag and is hoping for a second chance in the next two weekends.
Brenna and I enjoyed some girl time. We did some shopping, baked brownies, ate chicken and broccoli and rice (her favorite and not Dad's so rarely made), and had a sleepover in my room. She got to go visit her Great Grandparent's with my parent's Sunday afternoon. So fun times were had by all.