Saturday, December 5, 2009

Busy Beginnings

Besides deep cleaning and completely reorganizing the house, I have jumped head first into the paper work for the home study. Here's what I've done so far.

  • Sent a request for Tim's birth certificate. I'll get mine when we go home for Christmas.
  • We'll also make a short road trip during Christmas for our marriage certificate.
  • Made copies of our last 3 years of tax returns and our W2s.
  • Proof of car insurance.
  • Proof of home insurance.
  • Proof of life insurance for each of us.
  • Copies of driver's licenses.
  • Made a list of people who will be references. (Still waiting for the okay and mailing info from a few.)
  • List of all past residences since the age of 18.
  • Passport pictures taken. Forms filled out. Waiting for birth certificates to submit.

That's half the list! The other half, though, won't be as quick to complete. Letters from employers, police clearance, fingerprints, education hours, just to name a few.

Then, for the placing agency, I have their paperwork almost completed, and we had our family picture made today to include. Once that is submitted, they send us the contract, we sign it and return it, and they send us the dossier. Then the DEEP paperwork begins.

All of this plus Thanksgiving, Christmas preparations, extra Christmas choir practices, resumed homeschooling, Eli sick (only one day, "Thank you, Lord!"), and on and on and on. So I guess I'd better get back to cleaning now...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Woo-Hoo! We're Official

Okay, all you veteran adoptive parents, laugh at me if you want. But I feel we have finally made it to the first mile marker in a decathalon...I mean that as an accomplishment. The boys and I went by the local adoption agency (our home study agency) and turned in a lengthy application complete with autobiographies and our first check of many. We have already scheduled our first visit from the agency. Now I begin collecting birth certificates, marriage certificates, references, tax returns, medical forms, proof of insurances, background checks, fingerprints, etc., etc., etc. Right now as we begin, I am bound and determined to do this as quickly as I am able while not getting frustrated when we are delayed by others who do not feel my sense of urgency. : )

I have received the official application from the placing agency, and we'll be working through that over the Thanksgiving break.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tree of Life

Last night we had a wonderful phone call/meeting with Kay from Tree of Life adoption agency. They are going to be our placing agency. This was our chance to "meet" her, get information, and ask questions before officially committing to this agency. We came away from that call feeling VERY comfortable with her and their Bulgarian program. Kay, herself, has 3 children from Bulgaria, so I feel that she has a very personal interest in this program.

I think Tim and I both got a boost in our excitement and committment to moving forward. He is going to try to finish those last items today or tomorrow so we can get everything notarized Monday and maybe turned in Tuesday or so. There is so much to do, and with his Christmas break coming up soon, that will be a great time to try to tackle as much as we can at one time.

After the phone call, we continued our discussion over a wonderful dinner for just the two of us at Red Lobster. I LOVE seafood, but I don't get it often because it is expensive. But my wonderfully talented husband was able to pack 11 large marshmellows in his mouth at a recent Sunday School party and won a gift card to Red Lobster. We won't dwell on the fact that he got a marshmellow for every question we didn't answer or the fact that there were 11 questions asked.

As for the kids, I've started talking to them a little more about how they feel about the adoption. I figure I need to prepare them a little for any questions they have to answer during the home study. One of the things agencies point out for us to make sure WE are ready for is the fact that we are adopting transracially. These kids will be Roma (or gypsy) with darker skin and black hair. (Kay said people have asked her children why they don't speak Spanish. She said often others think her kids are from Guatemala.) When I asked Colton if he was okay with their skin being a little darker than ours, he looked up suddenly at me with a confused look on his face and said "sure". But he looked at me as though I had asked one of the dumbest questions he'd ever heard. He is WAY more concerned over the fact that they will be girls. He and Eli aren't sure how they feel about finding pink stuff or dolls left in their room. That's my boys!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ready to Apply

Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on my last post. It was very helpful. I've actually sat down several times to update my blog, but things have just been so busy. So, hold we go.

Costa Rica is now off of our consideration list. They are requiring a 6-week stay. We simply can't do that. The two little girls from India appear to still be available, but the agency will not respond to my emails. So the girls and that agency are off of our consideration list. We are back to Bulgaria.

We have also made a 99% commitment to choosing Tree of Life as our placing agency. We previously were going to go with Christian World Adoption (and I still feel good about them), but Tree of Life has a bit of an edge in their experience with Bulgaria. They also come with glowing reports from their referral list.

Last night we attended another informational meeting at Heaven Sent Children (HSC). We went to one a long time ago, but we felt is was a good time to go again to meet the staff and get a few more questions answered. Tim is about 98% finished with his autobiography, and I have redone the rest of the application to update it. So, when his is completely finished, we just need to have everything signed and notarized to send it in to HSC and get our homestudy officially started. At the same time, I will send the pre-application to TOL (Tree of Life) to get started with them. TOL says that we should work on both at the same time and strive to finish everything at the same time. My head is already swimming a little trying to figure out what do to first.

In fundraising news, we have finally had our final 2009 yard sale. Our total last weekend was $533.65. That brings our yard sale total for 2009 to $1524.77. Since we began fundraising 2 years ago we have raised $2110.47 just on yard sales! Not bad. Of course, if anyone out there would like to send us a check for $20,000, I would not mind forgetting future yard sales. ; )

As always please pray for us during this process. We want to make sure our boys are prepared, and I don't want Tim stressed more than he already is with work for school.

And (as always) I am open to any fundraising ideas you may have. Better still any income ideas you may have would be helpful. Fundraising is great for now, but more income would help much longer.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Question for Adoptive Families

First, I'm going to assume that some of the adoption folks whose blogs I follow might also read mine. Next I want to ask you a question. How did you choose your country?

I've been asked numerous times, "Why Bulgaria?" I followed up with several reasons and a gut feeling. Now, I'm not so sure. Of course, knowing myself for as long as I have, I know that it is entirely possible that God let me feel settled on Bulgaria so I could focus on fundraising. It wouldn't be the first time He focused me on something just so I wouldn't wander off somewhere in the wrong direction. Later He breaks my focus when He is ready to show me what He really wants me to have or do. (Sound familiar, Cindy?) It's kind of like having a hungry baby, but the bottle isn't ready. You give him a toy to hold his attention. When the food is ready, you take the toy (probably causing him to scream all over again like "Well, why did you give me that in the first place!") and give him the food that is finally ready for him. Does that make sense? Bottom line is I'm trying not to throw a fit saying, "But I thought You said Bulgaria!" I'm really trying to keep an open mind and open emotions to see if there is a better fit for us now that we are so close to committing. (Yes, Tim has worked on his paper work today. Yea!)

Now in the last post, I told you about a new opportunity in Costa Rica. I have yet to hear any more information about that, but I was starting to get more and more comfortable with the idea...especially the language. This week, though, I saw a picture of two sisters (ages 7 and 5) who are currently available. Perfect! The seven year-old is even still younger than Colton by 2 months. Perfect! They are in India. Whoa! I haven't really given India much thought. I had to email the agency just to find out their country and got the response very quickly. I replied right away requesting more information about them and have waited over 30 hours with no reply. I even emailed again today. No response. It's Friday now...I'm not likely to hearing anything until at least Monday. It's frustrating. Maybe they are already taken. Good for them. Confusing for me.

So now I feel like we're back at square one. Picking a country--which determines which placing agency we will use--which can affect which home study agency we choose--which could mean we are in the paperwork stage of our homestudy, or it could mean we will have to start all over with someone else.

Any advice?

Friday, October 2, 2009

A New Twist

Not a lot has happened since the last least not with the adoption. School has been crazy for Tim, and he has started co-teaching RAs at church. He is planning to hit the home study paperwork hard during Fall Break.

There is a new twist in our plan. As you know, we long ago selected Bulgaria as our chosen country. Along with that choice, we then were able to choose our placing agency which led to our choice of home study agency. Last week I received a newsletter that told about Costa Rica reopening their international adoption program. They haven't been open since 1984. I have already contacted several agencies for information, but the decision to add the Costa Rica program is so fresh, they don't have any information put together to give out yet. And what little info I'm getting has some conflicting points. For example, one agency says the travel time will be two weeks for the first trip and one week for the second trip. That's doable. But another agency says that both parents will be required to stay in the country for 1 trip that is 6 weeks long! That's a deal-breaker. The preliminary info looks like the adoption fees might be less than Bulgaria for one child, but we don't know about for two since Bulgaria is really good about more than one at a time. CR would be closer than B which would be both easier and possibly cheaper. And don't forget that CR speaks Spanish! We started studying that last year. I'm not very confident that I'd learn any Bulgarian, and it would be cool if we could communicate even a little right off the bat. The kids are adorable from both countries. Wait times for CR is uncertain so far, but it might be a little shorter than B.

The biggest problem in even considering a country change is the domino effect. The placing agency we had chosen doesn't have plans for a CR program, so we'd have to pick another. Add to that the fact that some placing agencies will require a specific home study agency (usually not the one we have started the paper work for). It seems there are so many decisions that hinge on each other. It's hard to know where to start.

If you have room on your prayer list, please pray that we will be able to push through the paperwork and make clear, decisive, and correct choices all along the way.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Exhausted and Overwhelmed

Okay, I am totally exhausted and overwhelmed. Let's start with the exhausted part.

We had a BBQ sandwich fundraiser at church tonight, so my story begins on Friday. Friends from church purchased and smoked the meat for us. I picked it up from them about 8:00 Friday night. After getting settled in for the night, Tim and I got busy pulling the meat. We didn't get started until about 10:00. Tim had to quit about 11 or 11:30 and tend to the boys who were set for a "camp out" in the living room. (No tents. We just all sleep in the living room. They love it.) I finally quit pulling at 1:30 and got in bed by 2:00. We slept in Saturday morning, but I got started again on the pulling about 8:30 and pulled for another couple of hours. This was followed by a rushed trip of shopping for the dinner and picking up crockpots from my mother-in-law. Once home, I inhaled some lunch and took the boys to back-to-back birthday parties from 2:45 until 7:00.

I was so ready to catch up on some sleep, but I didn't make it to bed until about 11:30. Next, Colton woke me up about 1:30. He can't stand to be stopped up and unable to breathe. We moved to the couch where I slept sitting up beside him for about an hour. I later slid over enough to lie down on the couch and finally moved back to my own bed about 4:45. Whew! Finally, sleep.......NOT! Eli comes in at 5:30. "Can I have a drink of water?" "Can you get?" "Yes." and off he goes to get a drink from his water in the fridge. At least I didn't have to do much that time. Next my alarm goes off at 6:00, but I don't hear it until about 7:00.

Sunday arrived. Sunday morning service. Bro Jason preached a wonderful sermon connecting earthly adoption to being adopted into God's family. Hopefully hearts were stirred, and we won't be the only ones adopting for long. The afternoon is filled with last minute preparations. I got to church a little after 4:00 to start setting up. Choir practice was at 4:30. The concert was at 6:00. After cleaning up, we left the church at 8:00.

Now for the overwhelming part. When we got everything put away, I finally emptied our donation bucket to begin counting. By the time I finished, I was in tears. We needed around $500 to meet our self-imposed Phase 1 goal ($6000). Instead of that goal being met, it was crushed. After expenses, we cleared just over $2000!!! Praise God! Not only are we ready to start sending in paperwork, but I really needed that boost of support.

WOW! What a Weekend!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Update 3 of 3: Adoption Fundraiser

Tim has been working on his paperwork for the homestudy this summer. Unfortunately, he was interrupted by a storage barn that was calling to be built in the back yard. Time really began to crunch as the start of school hovered over us. Now he only has weekends to work on the barn, but it is almost finished. Once he does finish his part of the paperwork, I'll go back and redo the financial information. By then, we just might have the money we need to officially get started.

We have a fundraiser coming up at our church on August 30. If you are in the area, come by for the evening service. The choir is presenting a concert. Afterward, there will be a BBQ sandwich dinner as a fundraiser. They are planning to have homemade ice cream as well! Leading up to this fundraiser, our pastor is going to be preaching on adoption in the morning service. Hopefully, that will reach some of those who have simply not considered the great need of orphans worldwide. While I certainly hope for a financially successful fundraiser, it would be even greater if someone else decided to adopt.

Finally, we are still planning one more yard sale this year for some time in September. A good bit of stuff this time is coming from Tim's grandmother's former place. She recently moved in with my in-laws after a broken hip required a hip replacement, and she has graciously donated most of her stuff to us for the yard sale.

Update 2 of 3: 2nd Grade & Pre-K

Colton is SO excited to be in 2nd grade. Here is a look at what we will be studying this year.

  • DiscipleLand 2 (All about the Bible...who wrote it, where did it come from, how do we use it...)
  • Math-U-See: Gamma (starts with multiplication, and he is LOVING it!)
  • Exploring Creation with Astronomy (already learned the planets in order as well as the names Copernicus and Galileo)
  • The Story of the World: The Middle Ages (Even Eli enjoyed the Beowulf excerpt this week.)
  • First Language Lessons 2 (grammar) (learned the being verbs this week)
  • The Complete Writer 2 (copywork, narration (summarizing), and dictation)
  • A Reason for Handwriting (handwriting practice...duh! He likes copying the Bible verses.)
  • Building Spelling Skills
  • The Learnables and Basic Structures: Spanish 2
  • A Beka Health 2
  • piano
I'm still trying to get Eli officially "excited" about pre-K. I'm only doing 2 subjects with him, even though he sometimes listens in on Colton's lessons. The plan is to do reading lessons on MWF and DiscipleLand (Old Testament stories) on TT. If we happen not to get to his schoolwork one day, though, we can easily do both subjects the next day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Update 1 of 3: A Crazy Summer

Wow! Summer has been so crazy! I haven't had time to catch my breath...much less update my blog. So I'm going to try to make 3 updates (hopefully all today) to get you caught up.

First pictures of vacation in Williamsburg, VA...

Colton and Eli in front of the Governor's Palace

My three boys

Can I get one of these at the gift shop?

How about two?

The Cousins - Don't mess with them!

At William and Mary

Okay, it wasn't all historical...and you have to have ice cream
for lunch at least once on vacation.

A hut at Jamestown

One of the ships at Jamestown

Put those boys to work!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Crazy Week

The last week has been a little crazy. Tim's grandmother recently broke her hip, and upon being released from the hospital, she moved in with Tim's parents. Last Monday, Tim's dad started running a fever. On Tuesday, they needed some Tylenol, and by the time I got to their house, Sondra was ushering David out the door to go to the doctor. They asked me to stay at their house until all of Granny's therapists left so I could lock up. I didn't feel right leaving Granny on her own. Several hours later David was admitted to the hospital, and we were temporarily moving in with Granny.

Wednesday, David was still in the hospital, Sondra was still staying with him, and we were spending another night with Granny.

Thursday, Sondra came home for several hours while we loaded a massive yard sale into a 6x8 covered U-Haul trailer to take to a friend's house for another fundraiser for our adoption. (It took two trips!)

Friday, I was up at the crack of dawn to go across town and set up the yard sale...VERY HOT! Spent another night with Granny.

Saturday, I was up at the crack of dawn again, crossed town again, and had day 2 of our sale...very hot...a brief drenching rain...very hot and steamy. After the sale, we help another couple load up all of our leftovers and haul them to their house for an adoption yard sale of their own. Now we will start all over planning for one more sale at the end of September. But David came home, so we got to go home to our own beds. The total from the sale was a little over $300. Yea!

Today, I'm tired and my house is a wreck from us just running in and out all week. I realize I promised you pics from vacation, but they are still in my camera. I hope to get to them very soon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Parental Rights Amendment

For those of you who haven't been following the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child, this treaty would seriously impact parenting in America. The title sounds nice, and they would have you believe that this is for the protection of children. Not true. This would give children the right to challenge ANY decision the parent makes (go to church, eat your vegetables, you're grounded). It would also give the government the right to impose their positions on our children and to remove our children from our homes if they don't like the values we teach them. For homeschoolers, we may not be allowed to homeschool without having some agency breathing down our necks and telling us what we can and can't teach. That totally negates one of the major reasons for homeschooling.

This treaty has already been ratified in a lot of countries, and there are a lot of bad precedents being set in those countries. If our country ratifies this international treaty, it will nullify all current state laws pertaining to families and would in essence take away our parental rights. The only document that trumps an international treaty is our own nation's constitution. This is why it is CRITICAL that we pass an amendment clarifying parental rights.

Please go to this website ( I've linked you to a page explaining "The Threat". Look also for links to "The Reason" and "The Solution". Sign up to receive their email updates as they monitor the situation. And if you have never contacted a member of Congress before, now is the time to hound your representative or senator and tell them they simply MUST support the Parental Rights Amendment and stop the UNCRC (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). Email them once or twice a week. Ask your friends to do the same.

I never intended for this blog to become something political, but the government is threatening Mama Bear's cubs. With that said, Hillary Clinton is a huge supporter of the UNCRC. With her sitting in such a high position, the threat is very real. We can't just expect that "things will work out". We have to do something to show our concern and which side we support.

Okay, I'm done. That's it. Next time -- a look back at our vacation.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pie Chart, Party 2009, A New Name

I just noticed that I haven't updated the pie chart on the right in a while. We've had a few expenses as well as some additions lately, but the current chart still nets a good improvement. As you may recall, this chart definitely does NOT represent all the money needed to complete this adoption. But it does represent the amount we are shooting for to officially get started. We set a goal of $6000 to cover the home study, the first agency fee, and a lot of the miscellaneous costs incurred early on. We are now $605.27 away from that goal! Praise God! I think I have $5.27 in my pocket now. Anybody got $600? ; )

School lets out tomorrow, and Tim assures me that he is going to hit the paperwork hard for me...well, as soon as he catches his breath. It's been a tough last week of school. Just very, very busy. Then we should be ready to start sending things in.

Okay, at our age maybe we "have folks over" rather than actual partying. Whatever you want to call it, I'm launching our 2009 Party Contest. If you remember this from last year, the rules are the same. Click here to go to a full explanation on our website. This is such an easy way to make a big difference.

For the last several weeks, Tim and I have been discussing a name change for one of the girls. We've decided to change Maggie to Mattie. I don't want to go into our entire discussion here because I don't want to embarrass anyone or hurt anyone's feelings. For those of you who have adopted, you might confirm that I've heard that most of the time the husband needs a little convincing to get fully on board. Since Tim suggested this change, I took that as a very positive sign, that the girls have been on his mind lately as well as mine. I also like the fact that I can use this name to honor my dad's mother. I never knew her because she died of cancer at the age of 42 (before my parent's had even married). Her name was Bertha Matilda, and while I'm not prepared to use those exact names in 2009ish, I will certainly think of her often when I say Mattie.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

5/21-22 Yard Sale

We are so tired tonight, but all in all it has been a good yard sale weekend. Counting the rainy attempt a couple of weeks ago, we have raised $782. That's better than we averaged last year, so I'm tickled! I think we confused a lot of people with the "Donations Only" concept, and I'm afraid it didn't translate very well with the non-English or limited-English customers. We'll have to work on that for next time.

I did learn that the "Donations Only" tactic works better on the Friday crowd. They are your "professional" yard-salers. They know what things ought to be worth and either offer that or a little more. The Saturday crowd either gets nervous because they don't have a clue what to offer for an item (hint, hint...why do you think I hate to price things? I don't have a clue either!) or they expect nothing at a yard sale to be more than 25 cents. Even a couch or something. So when they hear they can just make an offer, they gather an armload and offer $2. For those of you wondering, yes...I took the $2. This was sort of an exercise in faith. I simply trusted that it would all balance out in the end. And if someone wants to look me straight in the eye and take advantage of our adoption, fine. God knows, and if they have any conscience left at all, they won't sleep well tonight. It balances with the grandmothers who shared their stories and give us "a little something extra 'cause I know how hard it is (to adopt)." One dear lady even came with pictures of her sweetie to encourage us that we were doing a good thing by adoption. Another bought just a couple of little things and gave me $40. So see? It worked out.

I'm ready now to clean out the leftovers and get rid of them. Then we will start fresh later in June.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rain, Bunk Beds, and Summer Break

We still have not had our yard sale yet. Two weekends ago, we set up in the garage "just in case" it rained any. Any? It rained most of the day. I found that even though we kept our stuff dry, PEOPLE don't get out in the rain to go to yard sales. DUH! Oh well, we made $40, and I had fun visiting with Cindy.

Last weekend the forecast called for a greater chance of rain than the previous weekend, so we decided (before even advertising) that we wouldn't even try. Yep. You guessed it. It was pretty most of the day. Granted, a nice storm came up earlier than we would have closed, but the sky turned black ahead of it. We could most likely have gotten everything put away in time after having been open a good 4-6 hours.

Another factor in skipping last weekend was that this coming weekend was looking promising...0% chance of rain. By Sunday, it was 10%. Monday 30% for Friday and 40% for Saturday. We've got to get this yard sale over with!!! : ) As each weekend has flopped, we have gotten more donations (yea!), and we can no longer walk through the garage to get into the house. We used to actually park there...both vehicles!

On a more exciting note, we have gotten bunk beds for the girls!! This is such an exciting step for us. I've noticed that we say things like "the girls' beds" and "the girls' room". I think this has made our adoption more real to some. It certainly has made it easier to talk about the adoption with some. I think that they figure if we are going to buy bunk beds just maybe we are serious about this adoption thing. Ya think?

Last thing... Colton has officially finished 1st grade! I think we have had a most productive year. I slipped a bit on getting him library books to read, but we've been reading a bunch in the last week or so, and he is doing very well. We still have a couple of DiscipleLand lessons to finish because we got behind and missed a day here or there, and we are going to continue history on into the summer because we didn't start until after Christmas (so we are a semester behind and I'd REEEALLy like to start second grade "on track"). I've already picked out what I need to purchase for next year, but the Homeschooling account is dry after purchasing classic literature on DVD-ROM and an ebook reader. (Yikes! but Cool!) We'll get to it eventually.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

5/9 Yard Sale Update

I guess you could say our yard sale went pretty well today--considering the fact that it rained and rained and rained. We had a few sunny/muggy moments. Then it would turn cool and rain some more. All in all, making ANY money on a day like today should be considered a success. Oh, how much, you wonder? Drum roll, please..........We made $40! (Crowds roar) Okay, that's not astounding, but it's $40 we didn't have yesterday. Plus, I got to spend the day with Cindy (my college roomie), and we met some folks who wanted to talk about adoption.

If I didn't mention it before, we decided to try a "Donations Only" sale. For the few items that sold, $40 is more than I would have priced them. So I think I really like doing it this way. Only once did I think someone offered too little, and it turned out they changed their mind and didn't take the item.

The next step is to pray really hard for pretty weather next weekend and do this again then. By having to set up inside our garage, I only had room for about 1/3 of the stuff we had (and still leave room to walk around). AND we still have 3 or 4 folks who wanted to donate, but we didn't hook up in time for this weekend. So, we're going to try to put everything out next weekend, make better signs, advertise better, etc., and see what we can do.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yard Sale 2009

It looks like we are finally ready to jump into another yard sale. We are going to do things a little differently this time. We are once again taking donations, but we didn't give folks an awful lot of warning. (It sorta snuck up on me, too.) We announced it to our church, and I'm putting it here. We also went today to a house not far from us. They had an adoption yard sale last weekend and offered their leftovers to us. So, we will take what we had left from last year plus anything else I've found in the house plus these leftovers plus anything new from our church family and put it all together for a Saturday Only yard sale on May 9. When this sale is over, we are getting rid of everything. Later this summer, we'll try to pull together fresh donations and maybe hit a few yard sales for their leftovers and do this all again.

The other thing that is different this year is that (if I don't chicken out) I want to try to do this as a "donations only" yard sale. A friend did hers this way recently and was very successful. I think what I hate most about yard sales is all the effort I put into coming up with a price only to have someone haggle with me over it. I just want to scream, "Do you have any idea what I went through to come up with THAT price?" Not pricing anything sounds very freeing to me.

So. If any of you out there in BloggerLand (and within driving distance) has anything you wish to donate. Let me know. We'll be glad to pick up from you as long as our van can handle it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Exercise

Yesterday, I walked into our living and saw this...
When I asked what they were doing, they said they were seeing who could keep their legs in the air longer. Hmm. Maybe it could catch on as some new kind of exercise. Ya think?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Boys

Now, don't take it personally when I say that my boys have got to be the most wonderful kids I know. (I hope you would say the same to me about your kids.) They are so close and protective of each other. They snuggle and love on each other. It's so sweet...until they start fussing and feuding again. Yes, they actually are normal kids, too.

Last Friday, we went to have our annual pictures taken. Birthdays are over for them for this year, so they are officially 7 and 4. I can't believe it! So here are my cuties...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Let's Get Moving

Don't you hate waiting for a phone call or an email to come and then finding out that it never was going to come? Last Thursday night I was looking at a website (reputable, yes) which has photos of children around the world available for adoption. Quite often these children are the "hard to place" because of a medical condition, several siblings, or age. I ran across two profiles that caught my eye. These little girls were not sisters, but they were both listed as healthy with no developmental delays. Their ages were just right. Their birthdays were right around the same as my boys. Even their initials were K and M, just like the names we hope to use (Keely and Maggie). It was very late Thursday night, so I just sent off an email requesting some more information.

Keep in mind that I knew that at least one of the girls was not from Bulgaria. She looked Asian. Couple that with her "country" being listed as Eastern Europe, and I figured she was from Kazakhstan. Not our original plan, but who knows?

Friday came and went with no response to my email. I thought, "They could be closed on Fridays like the agency here in town." That meant that Saturday and Sunday were going to automatically be spent waiting and wondering. Monday, I still waited. Finally, in the late afternoon, I decided to call before they closed for the day. The first "problem" was that I was greeted with "Hello?" I instantly thought I had the wrong number. I asked if I had the agency...I did. It was a very strange phone call after that. She seemed to have recognized my name because she began talking about adoption in Kazakhstan even though I never mentioned which children I was calling about. Anyway, Kazakhstan has changed their policies somewhere along the way, and like Ukraine they no longer give referrals prior to travel. You are matched with a child after you get there. Bottom line, the profiles I saw are no longer valid, and the agency has simply never bothered to remove the listings... and apparently had no intentions of responding to my email.

To say the least it has been quite depressing this evening. Even in only a few days, my mind was showing those two girls here. My heart had already made room for them. My speech had already started including them in my conversations with Tim.

I do feel that we need to renew our plans with as much vigor as we can. As I thought about the possibility of beginning to pursue these girls right now, I was thrown into a bit of a panic. We aren't ready. We need to raise a little more money before jumping in. Once we jump, I'll be ready to pursue applying for every grant I can find.

I'm still working on a few Craigslist things. I've lost one bookkeeping client but have hopes of another. I have one fundraiser in the planning stages now with help from a friend at church. I would like to try the Party Night Out again. (I still think it is a great idea even if I didn't pull it off well last year.) Maybe I can "suck it up" and have another yard sale just as soon as the weather is more consistently warm. (Just not 102 like it was last year!) What do you think of a pie sale?

I still have bracelets for sale, and the pizza cards can go for $1. Any takers? I know the 4 of you who actually read my blog have got to be tired of my sales pitches...weak and ineffective as they may be. Do you have any suggestions for us? Another $1500 would be very comfortable. I'll even take bookkeeping or transcription jobs if you know of any. I've never been opposed to earning the money ourselves, but a homeschooling mom and a public school teacher just don't encounter sudden or significant raises or bonuses. (I knew I should have taken that job with AIG!!!)

Any input would be unbelievably welcome!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Check-ups and Heart Stirrings

We are almost a month late, but Eli had his 4-year check-up today. His weight has always been an issue (underweight, that is). Just a couple of years ago, we were struggling to stay on the growth chart at the starting 3-6 percentile. At one point we didn't even make that! Last year we were excited to make the 12-15th percentile. Well, today we are celebrating the 25th percentile!! Now if we could just get him to eat consistently, we might be smack in the middle of the growth chart next year. Oh to be average! At least on weight.

Colton was excited to learn that he is old enough NOT to go every year. He was just an observer today...except for the shots. Colton doesn't do badly getting shots himself, but he can't handle watching his little brother get them. He is so afraid Eli will cry, and he doesn't want to be there for it. So he stepped out into the hall until we finished. But, Eli did great. He simply said, "Ouch. That hurt."

On a totally different topic, we've been going through the Old Testament on Sunday nights at church. Last week, we did Ezra. Right from the beginning, a phrase caught my attention. Paraphrasing, it said that God stirred their hearts to do His will. Whoa. Back up. Re-read. One more time. Now I don't expect burning bushes. (Listen to my last post.) But has my heart ever been stirred toward something? Yes. And I believe adoption to be one of those times. While I'm not comfortable saying, "God told me to adopt." I do feel comfortable saying, "God stirred my heart to adopt." As we've been doing for quite a while, we are still trying to iron out the details of exactly what doing His will looks like in this case. We would still love to adopt two sisters from Bulgaria, but the details are not just "falling into place". So we have to always consider adjusting the plan. It's kind of like turning a puzzle piece until it fits exactly where it needs to go.

So tell me, when has God stirred your heart?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Say It in Song

I ran across this song the other day and thought it summed up how I sometimes feel.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Birthday Season Begins

Birthday season is upon us. February brings Eli's 4th. March will be my "somethingth". Colton will be 7 in April, and Tim will be older-than-me in May. We've been trying to plan Eli's birthday party, and February is a hard time. It will most likely be too cold or wet for the kids to go outside to play. As we began to look into having the party elsewhere, cost became an issue. So, we began to toy with a new idea. After looking carefully at Eli's guest list, we noticed that the list was almost identical to one Colton would make for his party. Since their birthdays are February and April, we decided to do one big party in March.

We've enjoyed for a while now doing their annual pictures in March as well. It makes me wonder when Keely and Maggie's birthdays will be. We aren't really any closer to bringing them home, and I'd be lying if I said that I'm not saddened and frustrated by that. I know that God is in control, though, and I trust that my girls will be home someday.

I'm almost halfway through my medical transcription course. It's not gone as quickly as I had hoped. The material I have studied so far has been very dry and monotonous. So, it doesn't call my name every spare moment like a good novel would. I just pray that I can push through the boring stuff and get finished. I'm also praying that God is already preparing work for me. All I have to do is find it.

Tim has been spending all of his spare time researching SUVs. His car is 19 years old and on its last leg. I do not like driving it anymore. Our search would be easier if we were only looking to seat the four of us, but it seems a waste not to go ahead and plan for 6. We would just have to get another vehicle when the girls come, or we would at least lose the convenience of being able to transport everyone in either vehicle.

Colton is surprising me with Spanish. He is also enjoying the history I added the second week of this semester. Eli is a character and doing well with reading when he wants to do a lesson. For now, I'm not pushing it if he doesn't. Let's keep it fun.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A New Year

Happy 2009!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's. I know I did. We got to spend lots of time with family. Then we ended the old year with new friends and started the new year by spending time with old friends. How cool is that?

And today, the reality check--back to school for us all. Colton started Spanish this semester (at his request), and he really did a great job with his first lesson. He and I are also going to begin a strength training program and a homemade walking program. I say "homemade" because in an effort to keep it fun, I'm simply letting him pick a TV show, and we will walk through it (in place or forward and back). Today as the first day, I let him walk until he wanted to stop. We made it 19 minutes. Now that we have a benchmark, we have to try to beat that time tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe Mom will benefit from this too.

Eli got a taste of school today as well. He has agreed to start reading lessons and was quite excited about it until today. When I got the book out, he suddenly changed his mind and didn't want to anymore. With a little coaxing and some "I just want to show you something," he got suckered into looking at the lesson and participating in it. In maybe 5 minutes, it was over. I don't know if he was more surprised that it was already over or that it had ever started in the first place. He agreed that it didn't hurt or anything and seemed to have had fun. For those of you who think I might be pushing him too much (he will be 4 in February), you need to understand that he already knows all of his letter sounds and can use the magnetic letters on the fridge to build words I sound out for him. He also often asks to do his Bible lesson with me. In other words, he wants some school time with Mommy like Big Brother gets.

Just yesterday Colton was asking again when Keely and Maggie are going to come. He is so anxious to have them here. Sometimes I worry how devestated he would be if we never raised the money to go and get them. It's been quite some time since we were able to add anything to the adoption fund. As much as I rethink everything, I still don't feel like God is saying "no" to the adoption. In the depths of my heart, I think I would be "messing up" if I quit the adoption efforts. But instead, I am trying to stay focused on the goal while at the same time seeing the snail's pace as God's timing. After all, God knows the best possible moment the girls will be ready and the best possible moment for us to travel and the best possible moment for us and the boys to be ready for them, etc.

As I always remind you, we still have bracelets and pizza cards for sale. At last check we have lost a good bit of money on the pizza cards. If there is any way you can buy one or take them to people where you work or something, it would help us out immensely.