Wednesday, December 30, 2009

IT MAY SEEM INSIGNIFICANT

Last year my friend gave me a calendar that her adoption agency sent her. It was a calendar that featured adopted children after they were home with their forever families. My friend knew my heart for the orphan and thought I would enjoy the sweet little Chinese faces greating me everyday. I came home and promptly hung it in the den (Brad's room!). It made sense to hang it there, considering that is where the desk is. If it happened to pull Brad's heart strings periodically, then so be it. LOL.

Well today when the mail came, guess what I had? My VERY OWN calendar. Not one given to me by a friend. My own calendar from OUR adoption agency. I know this is probably not a big deal to most, but to me, it was monumental.

I never dreamed last year when I hung that calendar in the den, that just a year later, I would be replacing it with another adoption themed calendar. A similar calendar but such different circumstances. Last year, those sweet faces reminded me of a void in my heart. A longing that I felt was hopeless.

This year, those sweet faces still remind me of a void, but the void is much deeper. The void this year is my daughter that is not home with us. A longing that has replaced the longing of last year and is stronger than I could have imagined.

There is a huge difference this year. That longing? Yeah, it is no longer HOPEless. It is a longing full of HOPE. My Jesus moved a mountain in 2009. In 2010, he is bringing my HOPE home!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

FINGERPRINTING APPOINTMENT

I haven't received our fingerprinting appointment letter, yet. However, I have called the USCIS to inquire. I was told our appointments are scheduled on January 5th. That appointment time couldn't be any better, honestly. I was worried it would be this past Monday and Julianna would miss her recital. Then I worried that it would be on a Wednesday (that would be hard for Brad). So, Tuesday, January 5th is great. Also, hopefully since a whole month will pass between our receipt and our appointment, our officer will have a chance to work on our paperwork before hand. I have given up hope of getting my documents to China in January, but the sooner the better.
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Also a new shared list should be out soon. I am really hoping my Jessica is on it. I don't know if it is the holidays or what, but I am really heartsick for her right now. I literally tear up everytime I think about it.

We bought her a couple of Christmas presents. I know that probably sounds silly to most. However, it was something I needed to do. It made me feel closer to her somehow. I feel like it will help make her more tangible to my children. I want them to see that mommy and daddy are already considering her a part of our family. I also didn't want them to ask why Santa didn't bring her anything. We got her the Corolle doll:


We also got her a Pink Build A Bear:


The kids wanted to get her one for when we go to China. I went ahead and bought the bear. After we get a referral, I will let the kids go to BAB and pick her out some clothes and accessories.

My prayer is that this time next Christmas, my baby girl will be home to celebrate the birth of Jesus with her mommy, daddy, brothers and sister. Ok, tears again. Ugh, it is heartbreaking.

REDEEMING MYSELF

For the cookies to look that bad, I sure have eaten a ton of them. They are darn tasty. Anyway, Brad read my blog this morning and decided he wanted sesame chicken for dinner. Apparently the power of suggestion was pretty strong. I am always up for sesame chicken, especially considering we don't have a good Chinese restaurant, so I said sure. Just to redeem myself, and so people don't think I am a total loss in the kitchen, I am posting a picture of the sesame chicken:



Sorry the "presentation" is not prettier, but I didn't think of taking a picture until after I fixed my plate. You get the point though. It was very tasty, just so you know. Tasty enough for my family to put a hurtin' on it! LOL! I thought little Jameson would eat until he burst.

So, I am not a kitchen failure, just a baking failure. LOL!

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I also want to share about our day today. Brad and I are from Charleston, SC. It is warm. It is coastal. I have many memories of wearing shorts and flip flops on Christmas. That was how we rolled. However, we do not live in Charleston anymore. Shorts and flip flops do not apply here. Here being the frozen tundra. Here are a few photos from today.

My back deck:


Man! I wish I had some snow cone syrup!


My tulip tree, looking all purdy:


Ok, it's been real. It's been fun. It's been real fun, but I am over it. They are calling for 16 - 20 inches. TWENTY. INCHES. We will be snowed in until 2010. Seriously. Thank the lord I stocked up on Mountain Dew.

**DISCLAIMER** Apparently being snowed in is messing with my mind! I read back over my post and it sounds awfully redneck - "hurtin'"? "Purdy"? Melt quickly snow!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

BETTY CROCKER? PLEASE!

I learned a very valuable lesson tonight. A lesson that deep in my heart, I knew long ago, but was afraid to admit. I lesson that crushes this mommy's heart.

I can not bake.

There I said it. I admit it. As a mom, I have often dreamed about making cookies with my kids. Baking their birthday cakes (we all remember this post, do we not?). Making cupcakes for their school. Well, praise Jesus they are homeschooled. I would mortify my children.

Yesterday I was looking around
The Pioneer Woman and I saw a really "easy" cookie recipe.


Well. Those sweet little cookies are SO not what I got. Here are my cookies:


Yeah, that blob in the center? Santa. Hot mess in the top right hand corner? Frosty.



Here is take 2. Check out Santa in this one. He looks like he has hit the eggnog a little too hard.

It was a sad, sad night for me. My baking days are OVER! I should have known better. From now on, it's Lofthouse Sugar cookies. I refuse to even think about anything else.

Now if you want me to cook some sesame chicken, I can nail that. So at least I am not a total kitchen failure, I suppose.

Monday, December 7, 2009

NOT MUCH GOING ON

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Honestly, there isn't much going on. I submitted my application to the USCIS the week of Thanksgiving. I received receipt today that they have the application and it is being processed. We should get our fingerprinting appointment in Charlotte soon. They assign us an appointment - don't you know it will be on the busiest day of December? I am fully expecting that. LOL. As long as it is not next Monday, we will make it work. If I believed in "knocking on wood", I would do it right now.

Once we get approval from USCIS, we get our documents authenticated by the Secretary of State and the Chinese Consulate, then we can mail our documents to China. I am hoping we can do that by January sometime.

So, that is where we are. I was relieved to get that receipt in the mail today. The night I mailed my application, I was looking at my paperwork and I realized I had made a mistake. On the check, I didn't write in the numerical part. I wrote out the amount in words, just not the numbers in the little box. I was so worried that they would reject it, delaying the process. Well, the check cleared and the receipt came, so apparently, there was no problem.

Come on fingerprints appointment!! I think since we have to drive to Charlotte and the whole family will go, we may just have to eat P.F. Changs, or at the very least Pei Wei. And if I can convince Brad, we may just hit up Ikea.

Woo Hoo!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

SUNDAY SNAPSHOT - Jameson

Ni Hao Y'all


First of all, I want to ask - how is it Sunday again? Wasn't it just Sunday like day before yesterday?

Anyway, today my Sunday Snapshot features my sweet 2 year old, Jameson!

Jameson was my surprise! An awesome suprise! I had a difficult pregnancy with him (Brad says it was because I was older). I was so very sick for the first 20 weeks, then at 31 weeks I went on bedrest. At 35 weeks I delivered. He scared the death out of me, but he was just fine.



It took me a long time to relax after he was born, I was just so worried. At four months, I was convinced he had cerebral palsy. He held his head weird. Turns out it was reflux. At 6 months, I was convinced he had a brain tumor because his pupils were two different sizes. Two ophthamologists later, it is just a condition that is very common and isn't a big deal at all. Then, this summer, he got this weird blister thing on his leg. I was convinced he had leg cancer, or some crazy immune disease. Yeah, it was just an infected mosquito bite. The list goes on and on... Apparently, after two and a half years, I am still not relaxed. Today, my little guy fell asleep in church (he never does that)and felt really hot. I got him home and he had (has) a fever almost 103. I am not going to lie, I am worried to death.



I just worry about him. Clearly, he is thriving. However, his mommy is a basket case. LOL!

He is at such a fun age. Every single day he cracks me up! He is just so dang cute, I can hardly stand it. With his recent language explosion, he just says the cutest things. He loves The Wonder Pets (Or Pet Pets, as he calls it) and Ni Hao, Kai Lan. He is learning his colors and shapes. He has a little bit of a southern accent, that makes me laugh and cringe all at the same time. He is just the best!

He is such a blessing to me. I am so thankful Jesus surprised me with him.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SUNDAY SNAPSHOT

Ni Hao Y'all


This is my first time participating in Sunday Snapshot, so if it is not "right", you'll have to forgive me! I am not good at following directions. Stefanie, over at
NiHao Y'all started Sunday Snapshot and I think it is the coolest idea! I have had such a great time reading everyone's SS posts, I had to join in! So here goes...

This is my sweet girl, Julianna.




Julianna is the most kind hearted 4 year old I have ever met. She genuinely cares for other people. When I say those things, I don't just mean she is a sweet kid. It goes way beyond that. She has a love for people. For reasons unknown to me, she seems drawn to Chinese people. Honestly, I think Julianna is part of the reason we are bringing her sister home from China. Since she was 2 years old, she has asked for a "Chinese sister". She has a heart for orphans. I look so forward to seeing what Jesus has in store for her. I have a hunch she will do big things for Him. I would not be surprised in the slightest if she grew up and became a missionary. In CHINA, no doubt. I have never seen a such little girl so fascinated by a culture and its people.



Juju is so expressive. She surprises me everyday with her thoughts and her ideas. She has her own sense of fashion and she is very confident in her choices (much to her daddy's delight, haha!). She insists on wearing tights and tutu's every. single. day. She is an absolute joy (though her brothers may disagree)!



I am so thankful for this little one. She is a true light in my life. I look so forward to watching her grow up!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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Officially! WOO HOOOOO! I was hoping it would be completely done before the next shared list came out, because my family coordinator will be so busy once the list is out. I should be getting my copy in the mail over the next few days, then it is off to the next step!

We are one paper away from sending our documents to China. That hit me today while I was running errands, and I about wrecked my van in excitement! LOL. Anyway, the next step is to apply to the USCIS. That process scares me because well, the government is scary. Haha. It will all be fine. I really am not worried.

So we are moving right along. Now that I know it is approved, the process doesn't seem to be taking as long as it seemed before. I am much more relaxed (thank you Jesus! My sweet giver of peace!).

Yesterday was craptacular (more on that later). So it is nice to enjoy this good news today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

THE MOST EXCITING SCHOOL DAY - EVAH!

Today we went downstairs to our school room, just like any other day. Well, that isn't entirely true. Today, I was motivated. I went down there with the intentions of getting a lot of work done.

So I get my kids busy doing their work, while I clean. I moved furniture and vacuumed behind it. I dusted. I organized. I was feeling good. Well, as I was on the floor vacuuming, I noticed little black things on the carpet behind one of my shelving units. I take a closer look and I realize it was tiny, tiny little mouse droppings. My heart literally stopped in my chest. I sent Brad a text message (he was at home, upstairs. LOL) telling him what I found and how I was trying very hard to keep my composure. I didn't want the kids to know because I didn't want to scare them. I really felt if we had a mouse, we would know about it. We have a cat and she has all of her claws. Surely, if there were a mouse in my house my cat would have caught it right? Well, that is what I kept telling myself. Of course, then I realize if that were true, then I might find a dead mouse while I was cleaning. That sent me into a whole new level of panic.

I tried to take my mind off of it, and move on. I was doing pretty well until I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look and it was this tiny little mouse scurrying along the baseboard. **SHIVERS**. I guess I gasped because my kids both looked at the same time. Well, in like a nano second they were both screaming to the tops of their lungs and were standing in their seats. Julianna was actually crying real tears. I am not sure why, but I started screaming too. I thought about climbing onto Jackson's desk. Well, I am not sure what happened, but it felt like a big invisible hand slapping me across the face telling me to come to my senses. I remembered in that second of screams x3, that my baby is sleeping in the very next room. I guess I should say, WAS sleeping. Brad came running downstairs to make sure we were ok. About that time, the little mouse ran into the laundry room. I thought, oh thank goodness. There is no way out! We can catch it! I sent my kids upstairs, while Brad and I planned our attack. Meanwhile, that brave little mouse was just sitting in the laundry room staring us down. I guess I have never seen a real mouse before, but I gotta be honest, it was actually pretty cute. It was so very tiny, and it had the biggest ears.

We decided to just throw the cat into the laundry room, shut the door and let her "handle" it. Well, about an hour later, it was so quiet in there, we decided to check out what was going on. We opened the door, and Lola just came strolling out all nonchalant like. Brad goes in to assess the damage, only to find nothing. No mouse. No signs of a mouse. Nothing. How can that be? Seriously? The only thing I can think of is it went under the door into the garage? The crack under the door is very small. Can a mouse go through such a small crack?

I don't know but I am so creeped out. We set a mouse trap down there, but how do I know if it will work or not? I have a feeling I will not sleep a wink tonight. How disgusting.

For the record - school was officially over.

Monday, November 16, 2009

OH MY!

We missed church yesterday because we think my hubby has H1N1. We aren't really sure, but he has a fever and stuff. For us to miss church, it is a big deal. Especially considering Brad (hubs) is the Associate Pastor of Worship. We would have gone without him, but I was afraid if he does have the piggy flu, we have been exposed and there is no sense in exposing the other 400 members. Anyway, yesterday was our ShoeBox dedication for Operation Christmas Child. We live 20 minutes from the Samaritan's Purse headquarters, so OCC is a big deal at our church.

Anyway, you are wondering how this has anything to do with adoption, aren't you? I am getting there, maybe the long way, but I getting there. So I was talking to my friend today and she said to me, "Hey, you really missed a great service at church yesterday." I told her how much I hated missing it. She then said, "During the service they mentioned Jessica by name!" Gosh, just typing it makes me cry, AGAIN. I said, "WHAT????" She went on to tell me that during the dedication of the shoeboxes, the lady that was speaking was saying how now the Samaritan's Purse is now able to deliver shoeboxes to the orphanages of China (gosh, I am still crying). She told the story about how her sister had adopted last year from China, and how dear Chinese orphans are to her heart. Then she said, "You never know, maybe the shoebox you made will be delivered to Jessica Cordray and Lydia Eller (another little one waiting to come home)."

I don't know why, but that made me ball. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath. I guess because her name is so special to me, yet most people don't know it, or even know we are adopting at all. It just made her a REAL little girl to more people than me. Does that make sense? So humbling and so sweet.

Then I had this gut punched feeling. You see, I didn't really have the money to do our shoeboxes this year. It just wasn't a priority. I kept saying, we are helping already! We have donated money to Morning Star! We are bringing an orphan home! We just can't afford this right now. However, I knew that my kids get so excited every year to do their own boxes for the children. So I bit the bullet and let each of them do a box. What if I hadn't? I would feel terrible knowing that Shelley used my little girl, BY NAME, as an example for who could get a box. Then I thought about the children who will get our boxes. I could have cost a sweet child their ONLY Christmas present. What if Jessica receives a box? I would be so grateful to the person who put their time and money into making it special for her. I can't believe I almost let Satan rob us of these sweet blessing.

But I didn't. Now wouldn't it be a HOOT if Jessica received one of OUR boxes! LOL! I wouldn't put it past my Father. He is in the miracle business.

**edited to add this link: Oh my! I am crying again, or is it still?
God's Special Children

***edited to add another link: I was wrong. I wasn't crying before, that was nothing compared to what I am doing now. Last link, I promise. Christmas in China

Friday, November 13, 2009

SCARLET THREADS

Scarlet Threads is a brand new boutique with most adorable aprons! You have to see how awesome and unique these aprons are! Here are two of my favorite:




Aren't they cute?! The best thing about Scarlet Threads is their purpose, their heart. Here is what I copied off of their website:

Scarlet Threads is a compassionate boutique, specializing in fairly-traded handmade aprons. We're working to transform the lives of rural Asian women through dignified and safe employment opportunities. You can be a part of our vision by purchasing one of our beautiful products!

Isn't that awesome? So by buying an apron, you are doing WAY more than just looking cute while you are cooking! You care helping these sweet hard working women in rural China have a meal on their table. You are helping them provide for their family.

Also - if you notice that your favorite apron is out of stock, keep checking back. These aprons are hand made. They are worth the wait!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ELEVENTY BAJILLION THINGS

Eleventy Bajillion - that's how many things I think about each day regarding our adoption. Big things, little things. Important things, silly things. My current thought and wonder is photography.

I am a documenter. I document everything, it's what I do (hence this blog!). I have two great cameras - one little, one big. I have a camcorder. I blog. My children have baby books that I actually write in. I stress if I can't photograph a moment or if I forget a date before I can write it down.

So imagine my concern on our upcoming (however far it may be in the future) trip to China. I know that I am going to be consumed with my new little girl, I am not going to want to be messing with a camera (at first, at least). I am going to be needing a photographer and a videographer. How will I ever pull this off?

I am mostly just concerned with our Gotcha moment. I am going to be a basket case. Not to mention I am going to be busy smooching my new little one. I will have a lot of smooches to catch up on, I can not be bothering with a camera.

So BTDT moms, tell me, how did you capture those moments? I will pay an innocent bystander on the street if I have to, but I would like to hear what other's have done or plan to do?

**DISCLAIMER** For the record, I am well aware that "eleventy bajillion" is not a real number. I also am well aware that "documenter" is not a real word. I just wanted to put minds at ease, especially those that know I homeschool my children.

Monday, November 9, 2009

DISCERNMENT

I am thanking Jesus for discernment today. There is no doubt that I have a heart for the orphan. No doubt that each little face I see on a waiting child list, tears at my heart and makes me want to bring him or her home. I have wondered when the time came for a referral how I would know if she was Jessica. Surely, I wouldn't be able to turn away any sweet little one.

Well, we requested the file of a little girl from the shared list on Friday. It was closing time, so we didn't hear back until today. My family coordinator called letting me know she was sending the little girl's info to me via email. Her complete medical record and several photos. I kind of felt numb. It was the weirdest thing. Maybe because I had the whole weekend to think about her and pray. I am not sure. Anyway, the file came, and I immediately opened it. Let me just say, this child had the most sad eyes. As little as she is, her eyes told a story that would make anyone with a heart, break down in tears.

I called Brad and told him about her and her need. The whole time I was talking to him, I knew what his answer would be, because my answer was the same. She is not mine. I felt that her need could be manageable, so it wasn't that. I truly believe with all of my heart that my precious Father was whispering to our spirits, she is not our child.

It was difficult to say no to this precious baby. I will commit to praying she finds HER family soon. Also, I am committed to thanking my Jesus endlessly for showing me the way. On my own, I would never be able to turn away a child in need.

I also fully trust when we do receive Jessica's file, we will know without any doubt in our hearts that SHE is meant for US. Sure we will have questions and concerns, but I believe the peace of my Saviour will transcend all understanding.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

RACE

There are several things that I am *very* passionate about: My Messiah, abortion, adoption, and racism. Nothing hurts my heart like the latter three. Today however, I am just going to talk about racism.

I can say with 100% honesty, I do not have a racist bone in my body. I just don't see color. I never have.

Our pastor preached today on racism. It was awesome. He presented biblical and scientific facts. I learned so much! While, I thought it was awesome, and it really hit the nail on the head, I am sure he stepped on some toes.

It always amazes to me to hear people say, "Oh, I am not racist!" Yet, when you probe a little further, you discover their true heart. They share that while they are not racist, they would indeed be uncomfortable if their child brought home a date that was not their race.

Kevin (our pastor) challenged us to look at people through the eyes of Jesus. He also shared the fact that actually, we are all one race. Sure there are different people groups and different cultures, we are all from one blood. Biblically speaking we are the same. In the eyes of Christ, we are all one. In fact, he went as far as saying that genetically, there is only .02% difference between us. ALL OF US. That means that our DNA is 99.98% the same as everyone else's.

Let me ask you a question. Take a look at this picture.



Now tell me, what color do you think the person was that had this heart? A white man? A black woman? Asian? Hispanic? We don't know. We don't know, because past the melanin in our skin, we are all the same.

Speaking of melanin - we all have different amounts. Some much more than others. Some of us has what appears to be none. With blonde hair and blue eyes:



While others have a little more. With brown hair and brown eyes:



Now do I love my children based on the amount of melanin in their skin? Of course not. That would be ridiculous. So why do we accept others based on that? Does your level of melanin make you superior or inferior to someone else? Absolutely not.

Anyway, it was just a nice message today. A message that I am sure, a lot of people needed to hear. My prayer is that I can see people through the eyes of Jesus. My prayer for my children is that they find Christian mates and friends. If they chose to marry someone with more or less melanin than themselves, so be it.

Where are you on the issue?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I, INTERRUPT THIS SCHEDULED PANIC ATTACK

To say everything is fine!! I just spoke with our family coordinator, she has met with the director and everything is ok. I do have to redo a couple of things (my financial worksheet and employment letter) and have the financial part of the home study re-written, but all in all, it wont be a problem.

GOD IS SO GOOD! I love how He answers and EXCEEDS my prayer requests! I was thinking the whole time I was on the phone with her, oh gosh, I have to get busy! If I still want to be considered for the shared list in November, I have to get moving to get all of this stuff done. I didn't mention any of that to her, but she said to me, "Also, since technically, we have a draft of your homestudy, even though it needs changes, you can still be considered for a match when the list comes out in TWO WEEKS." YAY!

So you girls were right - He who started a good work, will carry it to completion! I love adding things to my "list" of confirmations that we are absolutely in the midst of HIS WILL. There is no place I would rather be!

WELL, THAT WASN'T WHAT I HAD HOPED

I got our homestudy draft yesterday. I was so excited! For about 10 minutes. I got an email after she emailed the draft that completely sucked the joy out of completing the HS milestone.

Brad is a ordained minister. Because of that, his salary is wacky. A large part of it is not taxable, therefore not listed on his w2. We meet China's reuirements of $10,000 per family member, including the adopted child. However, it "appears" that we don't on our tax documents. We have provided a letter from his employer stating his annual salary, which is in excess of the requirement. We have supplied a breakdown of the financial picture. We get a housing allowance, a health insurance allowance and a mileage allowance. Apparently, my agency isn't sure we can include those allowances in his total salary. I have explained to them that, that money is Brad's regardless of how it is designated. It is only designated that way so we don't have to "claim" it at tax time.

Anyway, I am waiting to hear back. It literally could be the end of the road for us. They may not let us move forward. I am devastated. I have no idea how it's going to turn out. PLEASE PRAY!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

CUTEST THING EVAHHH!

Oh my, you guys have to check out Kim's blog post from yesterday. I am not kidding, her kids have to be the cutest kids I have seen in a while.

Their Halloween costumes are TOO much for me. My heart just can't stand it! LOL! Considering the fact that I lack any creativity (We had Thomas the Tank Engine, a football player and Barbie. I rest my case.), the costumes are just precious. Put precious costumes on the cutest kids ever, and well... go see for yourself, Cutie Patooties. Try not to feel bad about your crappy costumes. We can't all be as creative as Kim. We have other gifts though, right? Right???

Thursday, October 29, 2009

CHOO CHOO!

The potty train tried to leave the station. Actually, you know, it did leave the station, however, a certain little 2 1/2 year old was not on it.

I decided this week to try and potty train my little boy. I really didn't want to. I, honestly, am perfectly content with him wearing diapers indefinitely. We travel way too much and potty training + road trip = NIGHTMARE. However, I know that at some point the kid will have to pee in the toilet. Someone said to me, "You have to potty train him! He can't go to Kindergarten in diapers!!" Why not? We homeschool. Anyway, fine, the pressure of society is making me crack. So we tried. We failed.

I went and bought him Diego and Wonder Pets underwear. Fun, right? No one wants to pee on Diego. Well, except Jameson. It appears he has no trouble peeing on Diego.

So I am not sure what to do. At this point the other two had at least peed on the potty before, and actually were mostly trained. Jameson just doesn't seem to get what that big white bowl is for.

At what age is it unacceptable to still wear diapers? I do not see an end in sight.

Monday, October 26, 2009

OFFICIALLY LOST

My mind that is. I am not kidding, it's gone.

I have no update to speak of (imagine that), but I do have to share something scary. Lately, I have been incredibly tired. We have been busy, and the stress of an adoption that, in my mind, is frozen in time, is apparently getting the best of me. Last night I dreamed that I drove to Washington, DC to get my documents authenticated. When I got there, the US Secretary of State was in a hotel. It was like a little side office in the lobby. Maybe I am wrong, but that should have been my first clue that this dream was nuts. I am pretty sure Hillary Clinton would not be pleased to work in a hotel lobby. Anywho, I got "in line" to get my documents done. When it was my turn, I walked up to the window (very much like a doctor's office) and spoke to the "receptionist". It was at this moment that this already weird dream turned absolutely insane - I handed the lady a half eaten egg salad sandwich to authenticate. She took the sandwich like it was totally normal to authenticate one. She started processing it, and in my mind, I kept thinking, give me back my sandwich. I am really hungry! Seriously, the whole time she was working I was panicking about my lunch. I kept trying to think of a scheme to get my sandwich back. I told her that I would come back later. She assured me it wouldn't take long, and if I left, I would have to get back in that really long line. She seemed very eager to assist me. It was making me nervous, like I was afraid she was going to eat my sandwich or something. I don't remember what happened from there, thank goodness.

Isn't that so bizarre? I remember when I was pregnant, I would have the strangest dreams. So vivid and real. I guess I have that to look forward to with our adoption too. I just hope I don't dream that Jessica is a lizard, like I did with Jackson.

I can guarantee when the time comes for me to overnight my documents to be authenticated, I will not be mailing a half eaten egg salad sandwich.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

LET THE WORSHIPPERS ARISE

I have done it before, so I thought I would do it again. Here is a fairly recent video of my hubby leading worship at our church. If you have time, check it out!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

NO NEWS

The homestudy is not completed yet. Honestly, I am not sure how long it takes to write the report up. All of our visits are done, but I know the hard part is actually writing the homestudy. In our state, they have 90 days to get it done. Our social worker said it shouldn't take this long, but she didn't say how long it would take. So, for now, we are waiting. Obviously, I am praying that it is done much quicker than 90 days, but at least I have a completed date in mind (ugh, even if it is December!).

On a slightly different note though, I got am email from our family coordinator with some encouraging news. She said that once we are accepted into the waiting child program (which technically we are, a completed homestudy has to be on file to be official), we could be matched that same day! Now I am not optimistic that it would be that soon, but it is possible. She said that if we were willing to accept a child with unrepaired needs (cleft lip/cleft palate, clubbed feet, minor/major heart disease, just to name a few) the match could come quickly - even for an infant girl (the most in "demand"). Or, if we are willing to accept an "older" child (3+ is considered older), we could be matched quickly as well.

So maybe that is why I am so anxious for our homestudy to be done. Once it is, I could see Jessica's face for the first time! We are willing to accept all of the above, so we could possibly be matched before the end of the year!!!

Now I realize that this is all speculation. It could be much longer than that. I am just sharing what Melissa (our FC) emailed me this week. At this point, I am praying for the gift of discernment. It will be difficult to be offered a child, and not say yes. I pray that Jesus gives us wisdom and the knowledge to know when it's JESSICA. I want to bring them all home, but my house isn't quite big enough for 147 million kids. LOL. I just hope when I see her face, I know that I am looking at the face of MY child.

What a great Christmas present, huh? I always thought that it would be so neat to announce a pregnancy at Christmas. Our timing never worked out that way. I mean I guess I could have, but my gigantic beached whale look would have been a dead giveaway. Maybe this year, I will get to make a big annoucement.

DADDY'S LITTLE GIRL

Or not, as it were. I was watching a program on TV tonight about a girl (well, a 25 year old woman) trying to buy her first place. She had her dad with her for support. It really got me thinking. Who am I kidding? I think about it all the time, but the show really made me think more about it at this moment in time.

Daddy's little girl. That phrase literally makes me feel kind of sick. You see, I have never been daddy's little girl. Maybe I was way back when, like when I was little, little. But honestly, my fondest memories of my dad seem to stop around the age of five. After that, he was there, but never really there.

I can't explain why or how. I simply can not wrap my mind around the way it's been. I can't imagine not longing to hear my child's voice. Clearly, he doesn't have that longing, because I can't remember the last time I spoke to him.

For a while, it seemed he at least attempted to keep contact, but as the years have gone on, not so much.

You know what? It devastates me. Really and truly breaks my heart. I see people that have such a close relationship with their dad's, and it makes me feel so empty. My father in law is honestly the best dad I have ever met. If his kids (you know what? Including me.) need him in anyway, he makes them a priority. He calls frequently. He helps in any way possible. And most importantly, he enjoys spending time with his kids.

I don't understand how I basically could disappear from my dad's life and it's ok. I do have to say my step mom has really stepped up and has been the dad to me that my dad can't be. She is awesome and I love her. Thankfully she has really tried to bridge the gap.

Sometimes, most of the time, all of the time, I just wish I was daddy's little girl.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

TO MY NEW FRIEND LINDA

I want to say thank you. It really took courage to post an apology to me, and I truly appreciate it. I would be very interested in hearing how adoption has touched your life... if you ever feel like sharing. Anyway, thanks again. Please know that I have already forgotten it and my heart holds no hard feelings.

To my other friends that posted a comment - Tara, Pam, Valerie, and Tanya - thank you so very much for the kind, uplifting words. What a gift you all are to me. I could never thank you enough for building us up and being there for us. I look forward to sharing my journey with you. Thank you again for your friendship. I treasure it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

TO MY "ANONYMOUS" FRIEND

While I appreciate your "interest" in our adoption story, I do not appreciate your snarky comments. Clearly, there are some issues that you are dealing with, and I am sorry for that. However, I would prefer that you keep your comments to yourself. This journey is difficult enough by itself, I personally do not need negative feedback.

In your last comment, you asked me who I thought was going to pay for everything? Well, so far, we have. However, I don't owe you an explanation as to how WE are funding OUR adoption, contrary to what you might believe. For what it's worth, I have never (nor do I ever plan on) asked my church family for money.

Here is the bigger picture - we are doing what we are called to do by OUR FATHER. I do understand that when you are walking in the will of Jesus, satan is never closer. I understand that he is trying his very hardest to rob us of our joy. I understand that he is using YOU to do that. Now ask yourself if that is where you want to be? Allowing satan to use you to tear someone down or lifting people up in Jesus?

Whatever your case may be, feel free to move on to someone else. I don't need whatever you have to offer.

Lastly, I want to apologize for letting my flesh take over with this post. I have just had enough. For those of you that have encouraged me and have truly been a friend to me, thank you. I mean that with all of my heart. I am sorry that you have had to read this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

VACATION

We have had a great first official day of vacation. Here are a few highlights...


The SAH-WEET house we are renting.




Hanging out with Jesus (who just happened to be very easy on the eyes).



Eating in the "Ice Room" at a really cool restaurant, T-Rex.





And hanging out in the pool at our rental.



We are having a blast. It is really hot! Soon enough, I will be complaining that it is too cold, so I am trying to enjoy it. The kids are having a good time too!

I will update again soon! Oh, one more thing that totally cracks me up - I can not count the people today that stopped Brad to tell him he looks like Jesus! LOLLLLLL! Maybe it was because we were at a Christian "theme park" and Jesus was on their mind? I don't know, but it was dang funny. I finally told him since so many people think that, maybe he should get a job there. At least he could be making some money while we were on vacation! Funny stuff.

Ok, that's all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

PRECIOUS PEACE

I have an story about my sweet Jesus and His mercy. I guess if you are not a believer in Christ, this story wont mean much to you. Maybe, it will touch your soul. Maybe, you will see that Jesus can truly offer you something that you can not find anywhere else.

For a while now, I have really struggled with fear. Typically, it involves the health and safety of my children, the loss of my husband, and my health. Those things are constant worries for me. It got much worse right after I found out about my brain cavernoma (not to mention my strong family history of brain aneurysms). Let me just clarify, when I say fear, I mean crippling fear. I constantly play scenarios out in my mind. What would happen if Brad were in an accident (I don't worry about his health. Remember the post about his immortal grandparents? he has good genes. LOL)? What if my children were diagnosed with a terrible disease? What if I died and couldn't raise my babies? It goes on and on. And it is constant.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, Brad and Jackson were offered tickets to a South Carolina football game. This is a huge big deal to them. They were SO excited. However, the SC stadium is three hours away. They didn't care, but I was a nervous wreck. You see, they were going to drive to the game, and then drive home immediately after. At 11 o'clock at night. For three hours. UGH. Were they trying to kill me? The closer the game came, the more nervous I got. Well, by Wednesday I was really struggling. It was consuming me. What if a deer ran out in the road? What if their tire blew and it flipped the car? What if? What if? What if? I could hardly sleep Wednesday night, knowing they were leaving the next day. So on Thursday, every time I looked at Jackson, I cried. What if this was the last time I fixed him a cheese sandwich? What if I never get to teach him the next lesson in school? It was horrible. I honestly think, really, it was a full blown panic attack. I have no other explanation.

I prayed, my mom prayed, Brad prayed. They prayed for their protection, but they prayed for me too. I desperately needed release from this or the people from the loony bin were headed my way. Complete with my own personal straight jacket.

The mail came right after lunch. There was an envelope addressed to me from my mom. She didn't mention mailing me anything, so I was surprised. Anyway, it had a little devotion in it that made her think of me. The devotion was nice, but that wasn't what grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. At the top of the paper it had this scripture:

"'For I know the plans I have for you', says the Lord . 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

Jeremiah 29:11

Not for disaster. To give me a future and a HOPE. Ok, Lord. I trust you. Thank you! Even though I knew these things, it felt good to read it and to be reminded of His promise to me. However, most of you know me... that lasted all of 5 minutes. LOL. So literally 10 minutes later, Jackson says to me, "Mom where is my bible verse that I am suppose to be reading?" No clue. So he goes to find it and brings it back to me. It was a doosy. Here is this one:

"In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish."

Matthew 18:14

Okkkkk Lord. I hear you this time. You have a plan for me - not for disaster and my little ones are safe! Thank you JESUS! I promise the anxiety was GONE. I felt like a new person, literally release from the grips of fear. Only He can provide such overwhelming peace. And I am still praising Him for it!

I also want to add this - I know that I am not guaranteed safety and perfect health for my family and myself forever. I understand that sometimes Jesus delivers us from the fire, sometimes he delivers us through the fire and sometimes he delivers us from the fire into His arms. I believe this time, he delivered me through the fire. He has shown me that for today, I can cling to that scripture He gave me. For today. Tomorrow, should something happen that I fear the most, I have His word to get me through.

It flippin rocks to be so free in Jesus!

HOMESTUDY IS BEHIND US!

Our social worker just left! We are officially done with that part of the paperchasing process. We are waiting on the draft, and when it's done, we can apply to the USCIS. I am a little nervous about that, I hear they are pretty tough. But, the end of the paperchase is in sight! Once those two things are done, certified and authenticated, we can send our documents to China! YAY!

The homestudy was a breeze. In the beginning it felt very intrusive. I almost felt like they were trying to "catch" me doing something wrong. I realize now that most of it is because of the Hague rules. The USCIS is very thorough and want LOTS of information. Like I had to twll our SW how many feet were between our bedroom and our daughter's bedroom. That has to actually be listed in the report. So, once I realized how it all plays a part, and they really weren't asking me to provide all of this information for nothing, I felt better about it.

I really enjoyed our social worker, I believe we got lucky. As nice as she is, I am am glad that I don't have to meet her again for a long time. LOL. It is exciting to think that when I meet her again, Jessica will be home.

Anyway, so another step done today. Whew. It feels good.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I. Need. Oxygen.

I am not kidding. The other night Brad and I stumbled across possibly the funniest thing we have ever seen. We watched it probably 356 times in a row. Seriously, the funniest thing ever. I decided to post a clip here for my peeps. All 11 of you. If you don't think it is hysterical, I probably can't be your friend anymore.

Sorry for the poor quality. It is worth it though. I would ask you to post a comment and tell me what you think, but you probably will be rolling on your floor laughing. You wont be able to type. Anyway, here it is!



For the record, I heart Ryan Reynolds.

Monday, September 14, 2009

BIRTH MOM

I am not sure why I never thought about Jessica's birth mom before, but I really haven't. It is strange because I think about it all the time with adopted children that we know. I often wonder about the kid's moms and what they may have been like.

Today we had our first meeting with our social worker. She asked some tough questions, but they were one's I was prepared for. Then she asked, "What are your thoughts about the birth mom?" At first, I wasn't sure what she meant, so I asked her, "Our daughter's birth mom?" As soon as she said yes, I was overcome with emotion. I didn't mean to, but instantly tears filled my eyes and I just started crying. I am SURE she thought I was a lunatic. It honestly was the first time I really thought about Jessica's birth mom. MY daughter's birth mom.

It was so hard to compose myself. She handed me a tissue (groan!). Not exactly the picture you want to paint with a lady that is going to write up a report about how "stable" we are. I told her I could probably write a book on my feelings toward my little one's birth mom. However, the thoughts that come to mind in that instant are gratitude, sympathy, love. When it came time to ask Brad his thoughts, I was really unsure what he would say. He told her basically the same, and thankfulness that she chose to give our daughter life. Oh yikes. Tears again. Then and now.

I just never thought about all of this. Things have been so busy getting ready for the homestudy and the dossier preparation. Now I can't get it, or her, out of my mind. Oh how I grieve for her. I think about the day she had to leave her little treasure. Surely, her heart was broken into a million pieces. I think of how she packed her baby up, knowing that she would never see her again. I simply can not fathom the pain she felt. It hurts my feelings when one of my babies goes to the store with their daddy. I want them with me, all the time. The thought of bundling them up, and walking away forever, is simply too much to bear.

That sweet lady did what most mother's do not have the courage to do. She knew that her baby would have better opportunities at life if she gave her up. She sacrificed her feelings, for what she thought was best for her baby.

I will be eternally grateful to that sweet lady. I will pray for her for as long as I live. I pray that Jesus gives her peace. I pray he blesses her for her selfless act. I would give anything to wrap my arms around her and love on her and tell her thank you.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TIME WASTERS

Hello, my name is Michele, and I am a slacker. I can't help it. I have tried to fight it, but the pull is too strongggg.

I have spent way too much time with my TV this summer. Most people don't watch a ton of TV in the summer. Shows are reruns, people are busy, etc... Me? Oh no, I haven't left my couch all summer. All of my typical shows are reruns, so I am not watching those. It's all the new ones that are killing me.

The pile of laundry in my bedroom is ridiculous. I am two days behind in my bible study. I haven't cooked a meal in days. It is 1 am, and where am I? That's right. Sitting in front of the tube (with the laptop in my lap).

What is sooo good that I can't turn the TV off you ask (Yeah, I know you didn't really ask. Just indulge me.)? Here is a list of the stupid shows I am obsessed with:

1. Ghost Hunters
2. Destination Truth
3. Survivorman (my personal favorite at the moment)
4. Toddlers and Tiaras (yes, I am ashamed)
5. Dr. G Medical Examiner

There are more, sadly enough, but those are the ones I watch the most. Sigh. My house is falling apart around me. LOL. I need an intervention.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

HALLELUJAH!

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We are meeting our social worker on Monday and Tuesday of next week for our first three (B and me, just B, and just me)visits. Then she is coming to our house on the 25th for the home inspection! WOO HOOOOOO! I prayed that the visits could be done before leaving for Florida (the 27th), and they will be! YAYYYYY! Praise Jesus!

I guess that means I have two weeks to really clean my house, eh?

Monday, September 7, 2009

OH GOODY

I just got an email from the Director of Social Services saying that she reviewed all of our documents and is passing it on to the homestudy coordinator. Now, we get to wait on her to receive it, and then review it. THEN, MAYBE THEN, we can actually schedule our homestudy. I also found out that she is in Charlotte. 100 miles away. So after the $2500 payment I just made, I get to pay mileage for her to come here. Oh, and it gets better - we have to have 4 meetings with her.



At least I heard something though, right? I did have a good chat with my Jesus this morning, and I do feel better (I know you can't tell by my vent here, haha). I know that He has moved mountains, provided in ways that still blow my mind, and He is working on our behalf on this whole adoption. I know that all of this will be totally worth it.



Sunday, September 6, 2009

TABLE FOR TWO

Years ago (like 13 years ago), someone I knew shared this story with me called "Table for Two". It blew me away. I have saved a copy of it in my bible since the day he gave it to me. I'd like to share it, if I could. It is a little long for a blog post, but SO worth the read. I think you will be blessed and challenged. Please take a few minutes to read it.

TABLE FOR TWO
by Kirsten Burgess


He sits by himself at a table for two.

The uniformed waiter returns to his side and ask, "Would you like to go
ahead and order, sir?" The man has, after all, been waiting since seven
o'clock--almost half an hour.

"No, thank you," the man smiles. "I'll wait for her a while longer. How
about some more coffee?"

"Certainly, sir."

The man sits, his clear blue eyes gazing straight through the flowered
centerpiece. He fingers his napkin, allowing the sounds of light chatter,
tinkling silverware, and mellow music to fill his mind. He is dressed in
sport coat and tie. His dark brown hair is neatly combed, but one stray
lock insists on dropping to his forehead. The scent of his cologne adds to
his clean cut image. He is dressed up enough to make a companion feel
important, respected, loved. Yet he is not so formal as to make one
uncomfortable. It seems that he has taken every precaution to make others
feel at ease with him.

Still, he sits alone.

The waiter returns to fill the man's coffee cup. "Is there anything else I
can get for you, sir?"

"No, thank you."

The waiter remains standing at the table. Something tugs at his curiosity.
"I don't mean to pry, but..." His voice trails off. This line of
conversation could jeopardize his tip.

"Go ahead," the man encourages. His is strong, yet sensitive, inviting
conversation.

"Why do you bother waiting for her?" the waiter finally blurts out. This
man has been at the restaurant other evenings, always patiently alone.

Says the man quietly, "Because she needs me."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Well, sir, no offense, but assuming that she needs you, she sure isn't
acting much like it. She's stood you up three times just this week."

The man winces, and looks down at the table. "Yes, I know."

"Then why do you still come here and wait?"

"Cassie said that she would be here."

"She's said that before," the waiter protests. "I wouldn't put up with it.
Why do you?"

Now the man looks up, smiles at the waiter, and says simply, "Because I
love her."

The waiter walks away, wondering how one could love a girl who stands him
up three times a week. The man must be crazy, he decides. Across the room,
he turns to look at the man again. The man slowly pours cream into his
coffee. He twirls his spoon between his fingers a few times before
stirring sweetener into his cup. After staring for a moment into the
liquid, the man brings the cup to his mouth and sips, silently watching
those around him. He doesn't look crazy, the waiter admits. Maybe the girl
has qualities that I don't know about. Or maybe the man"s love is stronger
than most. The waiter shakes himself out of his musings to take an order
from a party of five.

The man watches the waiter, wonders if he's ever been stood up. The man
has, many times. But he still can't get used to it. Each time, it hurts.
He's looked forward to this evening all day. He has many things, exciting
things, to tell Cassie. But, more importantly, he wants to hear Cassie's
voice. He wants her to tell him all about her day, her triumphs, her
defeats....anything, really. He has tried so many times to show Cassie how
much he loves her. He'd just like to know that she cares for him, too. He
sips sporadically at the coffee, and loses himself in thought, knowing
that Cassie is late, but still hoping that she will arrive.

The clock says nine-thirty when the waiter returns to the man's table. "Is
there anything I can get for you?"

The still empty chair stabs at the man. "No, I think that will be all for
tonight. May I have the check please?"

"Yes, sir."

When the waiter leaves, the man picks up the check. He pulls out his
wallet and signs. He has enough money to have given Cassie a feast. But he
takes out only enough to pay for his five cups of coffee and the tip. Why
do you do this, Cassie, his mind cries as he gets up from the table.

"Good-bye," the waiter says, as the man walks towards the door.

"Good night. Thank you for your service."

"You're welcome, sir," says the waiter softly, for he sees the hurt in the
man's eyes that his smile doesn't hide.

The man passes a laughing young couple on his way out, and his eyes
glisten as he thinks of the good time he and Cassie could have had. He
stops at the front and makes reservations for tomorrow. Maybe Cassie will
be able to make it, he thinks.

"Seven o'clock tomorrow for party of two?" the hostess confirms.

"That's right," the man replies.

"Do you think she'll come"" asks the hostess. She doesn't mean to be rude,
but she has watched the man many times alone at his table for two.

"Someday, yes. And I will be waiting for her." The man buttons his
overcoat and walks out of the restaurant, alone. His shoulders are
hunched, but through the windows the hostess can only guess whether they
are hunched against the wind or against the man's hurt.

* * * * * * *

As the man turns toward home, Cassie turns into bed. She is tired after
an evening out with friends. As she reaches toward her night stand
to set the alarm, she sees the note that she scribbled to herself last
night. '7:00,' it says. 'Spend some time in prayer.' Darn, she thinks. She
forgot again. She feels a twinge of guilt, but quickly pushes it aside.
She needed that time with her friends. And now she needs her sleep. She
can pray tomorrow night. Jesus will forgive her.

And she's sure He doesn't mind.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

OR SO I THOUGHT

Well, two weeks ago I told our homestudy coordinator that our clearances should be arriving soon. She said as soon as they come in, mail them to her at her home address (so she would get them sooner) and she would assign us a social worker right away. So I paid $20 to overnight the documents to her, you know to speed things up a bit, and I haven't heard a word since. She did email to say she received the documents, but that was it.

I guess her idea of "right away" and mine, are different. I didn't expect her to drop what she was doing, but I thought I would hear by now.

I guess I am just a little frustrated. Once we were accepted into the China program, if took her three weeks to contact me. When she did, it was just to email a list of things I needed to collect. It took her three weeks to email me a list, that was an attachment (already written). So do I get to sit for three weeks before she can pass me off to someone else (social worker)? She isn't the one actually doing the homestudy, she is just the coordinator.

The process is long enough as it is. I mean come on. I have been trying to move forward with this adoption for nearly THREE MONTHS (if you count signing with the other agency, then switching). I am no closer today than I was three months ago.

I am sorry to be so negative. It is just difficult. I have tried so hard to get all the documents done, ready and notarized. I just thought by now we would have had something happening. My prayer is that I hear from our agency early this week (UGH we lose a day tomorrow!) to schedule our homestudy. I don't believe I have unrealistic goals. Ideally, I would like to have all four visits done before we go to Florida on the 27th. I don't expect the report to be done, but at least the visits. Is that out of the question? Oh I hope not!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

CREATION

For the last few weeks our pastor has been preaching on creation versus evolution. Now, most of us sensible people would never consider evolution. We all know that God created man in His own image. However, if you are like me, you were taught in school that the Earth is millions of years old. You were taught that dinosaurs ruled the earth millions of year ago. Up until now, I have never questioned that.

Well, my eyes have been OPENED! There are so many facts that disprove evolution. There are so many facts supporting the fact that the Earth is actually only thousands of years old.

I know for a lot of people, that goes against everything you were taught. I was never taught that the maker of the universe is a supernatural, supreme God. I was never taught that dinosaurs were actually ON THE ARK and they co-existed with man. I was never taught biblical truths in school. I was taught that Charles Darwin figured it all out - we evolved from monkeys. I was never taught to challenge the concepts of Charles Darwin and form my own opinions based on BIBLICAL TRUTH.

We went to the Creation Museum this weekend. Let me tell you, I was BLOWN AWAY. The museum is awesome and it really helps put the creation of the world into perspective based on what God tells us, and not what some scientist (who changes his mind every 5 minutes) tells us.

Yes, there were dinosaurs in the bible. Yes, God breathed the world into existance in just a matter of days. Yes, I am fearfully and wonderfully made IN HIS IMAGE, not in the image of Bubbles. No, I don't believe the Earth is millions of years old, and there is scientific proof to back that up. And, finally, NO, no I will not send my children to public school so they too can learn LIES. I will teach them to rely on the bible for answers about how our world and our existance came to be.

There is a website Answers in Genesis that explains things better than I could. Check it out. Learn the truth for yourself. And if you are anywhere near Kentucky, I highly recommend the Creation Museum. It will forever change the way you think!

ABOUT TO GET BUSY!

Finally, we are actually moving forward! All of our clearances are back, and I am overnighting everything to our homestudy coordinator in the morning. She did tell me that once she receives everything, it should move quickly. So maybe, JUST MAYBE, we can have something scheduled by the end of the week.

I am so ready to get this homestudy started. In NC, we only have 90 days to have the homestudy completed (which is why they made me wait until all the documents were in before we started). What is exciting is once the homestudy draft is on file, technically we can receive a referral. Now I am not naive enough to think it will happen that quickly, but it could. It has happened that way for a lot of people, so there is that chance.

I tried to "figure out" our timeline and I think it could work out as follows - we get our homestudy scheduled for sometime in the next couple of weeks. That can take up to 90 days. Then, we file our I800a and that is taking around 45 days. Then, we get our documents authenticated by the state, US, and Chinese embassy, and that should take just a few weeks (we will use a courier service). So all of that said, we theoretically, could be sending our documents to China in January, possibly even December! YAY! I would love to be DTC by the end of the year. We will see what happens. I know the homestudy can't be longer than 90 days, but I am not certain how long it actually takes.

It is exciting to see things *finally* moving. I feel like for two months I have just been wasting time. If we had not have changed agencies, I am sure we would be much further along in the process. However, I still feel like we made the right decision and the set back now, probably will be made up in the wait for a referral. Anyway, hopefully I will have an update soon regarding our homestudy. WOOT!

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'M TORN

Really, it doesn't matter because Jessica is already chosen for our family. She has been destined for our family since the beginning of time. But, I keep going back and forth about what age I hope she is. Some days, I want a four year old for sure. Most four year olds are totally potty trained. She and Julianna would be the same age. She can walk. Then I start thinking about babies, and I want her to be a baby. I read recently that the wait time for referrals is relatively short if you are willing to accept a child with an uncorrected special need, even for infants. I don't mind uncorrected needs at all, so I am hoping that works for us. I obviously am not expecting a quick referral. I am totally prepared to wait a while, but I can have hope right?

Anyway, I am just glad that I don't have to pick her exact age. I glad to know that God handles ALL the details, and whatever age she is will be the perfect age for us. I still wonder though...

NEUROTIC?

Yes, I think so. I joke a lot about how I think I have OCD. Now, I don't wash my hands a bajillion times a day, but I do obsess about a lot. When I get something in my mind, I can't think of anything else. I can't eat, I can't concentrate, I am a mess until I work out whatever I am worried about or working on. I have discovered recently that I can be totally irrational too. Here is an example - I desperately needed something that a "friend" had the other day and for a split second I thought of breaking into her house! HAHA! First of all - was it really "desperate"? Probably not, but it felt like it. It is like things eat me alive until I can resolve them.

Ok, so here is another example. There is a back road that leads out of my neighborhood to the main road. I take this back road very frequently. Well, a couple of months ago while on this road, I saw this "critter" hanging out in the tall grass. He was standing on his hind legs just looking around. He was about a foot and a half tall. At first I was thinking it was a prairie dog (hahahhahahahha), then it occurred to me that prairie dogs probably live on prairies. Then, I thought maybe it was a ground hog. That made more sense, so I went with that. I told Brad and he was like, "Um, yeah. Ok. Sure thing, Michele." So I felt kind of dumb and went on. Well, long story short, I have seen the little guy a few times. One time when I saw him, I even turned my van around in the middle of the road to go back to take his picture. Wouldn't you know it, by the time I could get back around to where he was, he ran away quicker than I could get my phone ready. Each time I tell people I have seen him, and they make me feel like a fruit loop. Well, the other day I was on the other side of town and guess what I saw? That's right, a ground hog (?). I almost wrecked my van. Seriously. Now I am wondering if I am imagining this stupid animal or if I am really seeing something like that in two different areas of town? It is actually making me feel like a lunatic.

Today, I took the kids to the dentist. Their dentist office is in the middle of town. There are a lot of commercial properties around. I was sitting on the couch in the waiting area and I hear a dog barking. I thought, oh my precious Jesus, now I am hearing dogs barking! When the little boy waiting near me said, "HEY! I hear a dog!!" I could have kissed him. LOL!

So I may be off my rocker. Maybe there really is a little ground hog hanging around town. Maybe I should keep these kinds of things to myself.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

AND THE MOMMY OF THE YEAR AWARD GOES TO.....

Me! Not. I am the worst mommy of the year. Remember a few weeks ago that my sweet boy got cellulitis (skin infection) on his leg? We think it was from a mosquito bite, although we are not sure. Anyway, he seems to be allergic to mosquito's. I always rolled my eyes when Brad would say he was allergic to mosquito's. My argument was, "Duh. We all are. Hence the itchy bites." He would go on and on about his are much worse than everyone else's (uh-huh). Well, turns out, I think there is a such thing as really being allergic to mosquito's.

The other night my little fellow wanted to play in his "pool water" (just "pool" to the rest of us...). It was around dusk outside, and I knew better than to send him out there without bug spray. I looked for it, but I never found it. We had friends over, they were all outside and Jameson was getting antsy. So I just let him go. I thought he would just be outside for a little bit (and he was). When he came in, I could tell he had a few bites, but they seemed tiny. Well, yesterday morning when he woke up, I was floored. I literally felt sick when I saw my sweet baby. I can't believe I am going to post these pictures - please don't call CPS on me. I will *never* let him play outside at dusk again without loading him down with bug spray.

**DISCLAIMER**

Yes, his hair is long. Yes, it is pulled back with a bobby pin. We are letting Jack and Jamey grow their hair out like daddy's. No real reason, other than we want to. Keep your comments to yourself, because honestly, we don't care what you think.
OK? THANKS! LOL.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

WEEKEND IS OVER!

YAY! You know you are in the throws of adoption paperwork when you get excited that tomorrow is Monday. You see, on the weekends, my paperwork is just sitting on someone's desk not being worked on. However, Monday is a business day. So hopefully people in TX, SC and NC are getting busy on MY stuff!

Get to work people. Don't make me come down there. YAY for Monday's!

IMMORTALS

I have come to the conclusion that Brad's grandparents are immortal. All four of them. I have never in my life met people so resiliant. Brad's grandmother was diagnosed with cancer several years ago (in her 80's). You automatically assume it is the beginning of the end, right? Wrong. She beat it. It came back. She beat it again and appears to be continuing that trend. She is now nearing ninety.

On Saturday morning, we got a call from Brad's dad saying that his almost 91 year old grandfather (husband to the cancer kicker) was involved in a terrible accident. The night before he was burning trash outside and there was an explosion. He literally caught on fire himself. He had sense enough to drop to the ground and roll, however, that didn't help. So he grabbed a water hose and put himself out. He then went inside, and got granny to help him peel his polyester jumpsuit off of him. The jumpsuit literally melted to his skin. After they get it off, he takes a shower. It wasn't until a little while later that he decided to call 911. He has 2nd and possibly 3rd degree burns on his entire right arm, his back, part of his face and his ear. So he goes to the hospital, and they said he has a 50/50 chance of making it. Turns out, his heart is only functioning at 30% and they aren't sure it's going to keep up. They decide to transport him to the burn unit out of town. We get in the car and head to the hospital about four hours away. Turns out, he is going to be totally fine. We actually got to visit with him today and he said it wasn't so bad. He is bummed about the recovery, but he said he is ok. He is on some strong medicine, he is 90 years old, and he still managed to recount all the details to us. He told us stories about how he used to do this kind of thing all the time. I mean the more he talked (keep in mind completely drugged), the more I thought, "MAN! Gramps is sharp!" And apparently strong!

Brad's other set of grandparents are just as strong and healthy. It blows my mind! Three of my four grandparents have long since passed away, and the one remaining has alzheimers and is living in a nursing home.

I can only hope that Brad takes after them and is in that great of shape 60 years from now! I am sure I will be long gone, LOL! I really do think they are immortal. Maybe they are secret super heroes or something. Whatever the case may be, we are praising Jesus that Gramps is going to be ok! God love him, I told him I hoped he learned his lesson. He said, "No, this was just a freak accident. I will probably still burn my trash." UGH!

Friday, August 14, 2009

RANDOM RAMBLINGS

Tomorrow we are going to our local Families with Chinese Children gathering. I know we technially don't have a Chinese child, but just because she isn't home yet, doesn't mean she isn't ours. So we are going. I also think it is important to get plugged in with the other families. Honestly, I could use the paperchasing support! LOL. I am so excited to be surrounded by sweet little Chinese faces! I wonder if there will be any red threads there?? Wouldn't that be kind of neat? I will be sure to post about how it went when we get home.

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In other ramblings, this paperchasing is *killing* me. I knew that it would be daunting, but I never expected the intensity. I was never told how involved it would be. Most people pursuing Chinese adoption know all about the reqirements from the CCAA (Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs), however, I am sure most people do not know about all the other requirements. For our homestudy alone, we have had to get birth certificates, financial records, our credit reports (in good standing), criminal background checks from the state bureau of investigation, child abuse clearances (from every state we have ever lived in)medical reports for all five of us (including TB tests for everyone), endless amounts of paperwork, social security cards, pet vaccination records, and the list goes on. At first I thought, well, I have to get some of that for the CCAA anyway, no problem. Nope, none of that can be copies. So I had to go back and get more medical forms signed, multiple criminal checks, etc... We are required to get all of that stuff before we can even schedule our homestudy with the social worker. I thought I would be able to gather that stuff while the homestudy was being done. It doesn't work that way unfortunately. I am a little OCD, so I have everything that is required taken care of. We are just waiting on our criminal and child abuse clearances to come. Hopefully that wont take long. Most told me 3 - 5 days, but one state said up to 30 days. I am praying it wont take that long. The process is long enough in and of itself.

I just never expected to be so emotional about it all. It is proving to be much more difficult for me that I expected. I guess since I have already waited 2 years, I thought it would just all fall into place and move quickly once we applied.

When I finally send our notarized, certified, authenticated documents to China, I am going to C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E!

KIDS!

Tonight, the kids went outside with Brad to get in the pool. Jameson likes the pool, but he doesn't seem to love it like the older two. He has his own smaller pool on the deck that he *loves*. Maybe it isn't as intimidating? Anyway, so they all went outside to swim.

After a little while, I went outside to check on everyone. Here is what I found:



The boys in the tiny little pool, Julianna on her way to get in as well, and Brad's feet soaking. Within a second, Julianna was in too.

Um? Hello? We have a giant pool literally 4 feet away, and all of my children and my husband are crammed in this tiny little inflatable pool? Are you kidding me?

Finally Jackson came to his senses and jumped in the actual pool. Why not? He had it all to himself!



It is awfully sweet that my kids love their little brother so much that they just wanted to be with him though! Even if they had to cram into a little 2 ft x 2 ft pool.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

BUSY, BUSY

Our summer road trip plans fell through recently, so I have been busy trying to find something else fun for the kids. At first, I thought we would go to the beach, then I remembered that my children are albino, so that wouldn't work. I have thought of a ton of wacky things, but nothing really sat well with me. So after I talked to Brad about it, we have decided to accompany him on a trip to Kentucky to the Creation Museum. He has been wanting to go for church related things for a while. So we decided to just do it. The awesome thing is Brad has money set aside in his salary that pays for trips like this, so we will only have to pay for food for the kids and me. We are excited. The Creation Museum is close enough to Ohio and Indiana, we will visit those two states too, just to say we've been there! FUN!

We also have free tickets to Carowinds. At some point after public school has let back in, we will do that too. Just a quick day trip. I think I will also try to throw in a quick trip home to Charleston. Then, at the end of September, Brad has another business trip in Clearwater, FL. You know I can't let him go to FL without us!

It is funny, we have sat home all summer, and we wait until the end to cram in a ton! The kids will be excited to go, go, go. Fortunately, they are great travelers, so I am not worried about them. The beauty of all of these trips is the cost. Everything is covered except for food! We have to eat regardless of where we are, so that isn't a issue.

I am excited. I have felt so bummed and discouraged lately, I think I will really enjoy getting out of town for a bit!

Yeah! I love family road trips!

WILD OLIVE IS AT IT AGAIN

So those crazy chicks at Wild Olive Tees are at it again! This time, they are hooking up our kids! They have an awesome new line of kids tees coming in mid August. I don't know about your kids, but my holy terrors sweet angels need a constant reminder that they are CHOSEN by GOD, and they need to act like it, daggumit. So, I will for sure be getting my kids shirts. Also, for a limited time, they are donating above and beyond the 10% to Love Without Boundaries. So by ordering an awesome tee shirt(S), you are witnessing to a bajillion people just by wearing it (unless of course you never leave your house, in which case, you aren't witnessing at all. Unless of course you live with some that isn't saved, then you would be witnessing to them.), you are helping an organization that helps save the lives of sweet sick babies (and maybe, just maybe, even my little girl. I don't know but what if she is waiting there? She could be, you never know. Even if she isn't, there are so many babies that need your help.), and you would be instantly cooler.

So there. Get your tee shirt! Get your kids tee shirts! You know you want to.

ANOTHER SONG

I just have to share another song. I can't help it. I know most of you are very familiar with it, but still. It makes me cry everytime I hear it. Before I knew that we were adopting, this song B-R-O-K-E my heart. Now when I listen to it, it makes me so happy that we are giving a child HOPE for a future. Hope. Eternal hope. Praise Jesus for mountains moved! He promised Jessica that He would give her Hope. He promised her a family. Jessica is one of the fortunate ones. She will get to see her promised fullfilled on this earth, others will ahve to wait for heaven. Anyway, here is the song:

When Love Takes You In
I know you’ve heard the stories
But they all sound too good to be true
You’ve heard about a place called home
But there doesn’t seem to be one for you
So one more night you cry yourself to sleep
And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in

And somewhere while you’re sleeping
Someone else is dreaming too
Counting down the days until
They hold you close and say I love you
And like the rain that falls into the sea
In a moment what has been is lost in what will be

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
And this love will never let you go
There is nothing that could evercause this love to lose its hold
When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in it takes you in for good
When love takes you in

The waiting is hard. I am glad to know that my little girl doesn't know I am coming. She isn't watching the clock tick like I am. She doesn't know what a family feels like so she doesn't know what she is missing. I find peace in that. Please help me pray for God's timing, but that is comes quickly.

Here is the video to When Love Takes You In if you want to watch it. Be sure to grab some tissues first.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thoughts

I have thinking a lot lately about stuff. Just stuff. It seems like our whole world right now centers on adoption. Collecting documents, notarizing documents, paying for documents. All of my thoughts are on adoption related things - when will our homestudy be? How will we get a referral? When? What will Jessica look like? How old is she? When are we going to China? Blah, blah, blah.

So I am wondering how do I live my life without letting this adoption define who I am? I have noticed that maybe I am not alone in this. It seems that adoptive parents flock together. I mostly hang out with other adoptive mothers. Want to know what we talk about the whole time we are together? Gardening. Just joking - obviously, adoption. It has been great to have the encouragement and help, don't get me wrong. It's just that there is more to me than all of this.

I seem to have forgotten that though. I am so busy trying to gather things needed and prepare, it seems that it has become who I am.

I often think about the day when it is all over, said and done. When all of my children get to live under one roof. When my little homeschool has four little students. In many ways, I long for that day. For it all to just be done.

Adoption is exhausting, boring, thrilling, exciting, consuming, rewarding, expensive, worth it, crazy and all of that can happen in the span of a minute. The question is - how do I avoid letting that be all I am?

Monday, July 27, 2009

CONTINUING EDUCATION

A couple of months ago, I signed up for a photography class at the local community college. It is on Thursday nights, for two hours. I have really enjoyed it. It will be over in two weeks, and I am kind of sad. I have learned some things, but I have mostly enjoyed the socialization. The socialization and the actual getting out of my house.

Anyway, I just got the schedule for fall. I am thinking of doing it again. I want to do something different this time though. I have always wanted to learn how to sew, or knit, or crochet. I think sewing could really be helpful in a lot of ways. I could make Julianna and Jessica's clothes. I could help Brad with the Passion Play stuff. I could make cool things like my bloggy friend, Lori. I do like the idea of knitting too. I could make gifts and stuff.

I think it would be a ton of fun. Of course, if I didn't want to learn how to sew or knit, I could always take pole dancing, belly dancing or line dancing. *Shudder*. The thought of any of those, especially line dancing, literally makes me cringe. LOL!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Travel

I would love thoughts/personal experiences from everyone. For the last couple of days we have talked about who will be traveling to China to get sweet Jessica. Obviously, I am going (like I would let Brad go while I stayed behind with the kids. That makes me laugh thinking about the ridiculousness of that thought). For as long as I can remember since feeling the adoption call, I have prayed God would provide a way for all of us to go. When I told Brad that, he wasn't on board. He thought it would be crazy to take our three children half way around the world. I do understand his thoughts and fears - the money, the chaos, etc... But how could I leave my babies behind? What if they needed me? A little side story for you (to back up my idea that they should come along) - last night I was running to Walmart when my cell phone rang. It was Brad. He had just gotten Jamey out of the bath and he noticed a weird thing on his leg. He called me to ask if I had seen it - I had not. We went down the list of possible scenarios. A mosquito bite (he reacts badly to those), a burn (I would have known if my baby burnt his leg), finally he said, "Michele, you need to come home." Done. I pulled a u turn in the middle of the road and was home in 3 minutes. Sure enough, I had to take him to the ER. They said it was one of three things - a brown recluse bite (GASP), cellulitis (a skin infection) or MRSA (UGH). It was red and blistery, and oozing clear liquid. The oozing was out of control and actually running down his leg. He is ok, but it scared the fire out of me. Still does, actually. So what would have happened if I had been in China? Sure someone else could have taken care of him, but what if they didn't think to take him to the ER? His leg could have rot off by morning. Not to mention, my baby wanted his mommy. 'Nough said. He's going to China. They all are. Endofdiscussion.

There are more reasons I want them there. I want them to experience the culture. I want them to taste the food and smell the smells. I want them to see the Great Wall and know what a extraordinary thing it is. I want them to get to go on an airplane. I want them to meet their sister and bond with her. They have all been there for the birth of their siblings, this time should be no different. Will it be hard? Sure. Will they drive me crazy? Absolutely. But I simply can NOT leave them for two weeks. They have never even had a baby sitter. I don't want to eat dinner alone, much less be away for so long. Plus, what other school do you know that takes kids to China on field trips? LOL! Ours does! It's a once in a life time opportunity until we go back to get another child. Plus they love soy sauce. LOL!

Even though I have my mind made up, I would love to hear thoughts from others...