Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I've had these pictures uploaded for almost a week now, but between packing for the beach, Maya's recital, a Memorial Day cookout at my father-in-law's house, babysitting, preschool wrap-up, and general day-to-day management of home and children, I have been neglecting to write anything.  Well, I finally decided to just post the pictures (that's what people want to see anyway, right?  I'd like to think that I'm an amazing and inspiring writer, but I think 90% of my readers come here to see pictures of my kiddos ;)).  So here ya go!  Pictures of what we've been doing:

Garden!  We have had 3 nights of freeze and/or frost warnings, and I'm pretty sure I've lost at least some of my plants (despite covering them), but here's what it looked like when we planted :)  Maya is responsible for the row of sweet peppers and Charlotte is tending to pumpkins.  They both help me with the rest, but those are the plants they chose to take ownership of :)

tomatoes (from the Farmer's Market)

green and yellow beans

spraying her pumpkins

Michael was a part of a Men's CLC (Christian Leadership Concepts) group for the past 2 years, and we went to a cookout a couple weeks ago with the families.  It's been a great experience for him and I think he's made some really good, strong friendships.

Soccer!  Maya is definitely turning into our little soccer player.  She really loves the practices and games, and has been consistently able to get control of the ball!  I'm excited that she is enjoying it :)  In her last game she even scored 3 (!!!) goals, and was very proud of her hat trick.

Charlotte's outfit selection lately has been extra amazing

it's pretty incredible how much love I have for this little one :D

Biometrics ~ An Update

Since I know you have all been waiting on pins and needles, I wanted to update that the USCIS field office is amazing and gladly took our fingerprints on Friday!  My stress level showed a bit, though, as they were taking them...the lady kept telling me to relax my hand and let her do it, not to press on the screen, and was getting increasingly frustrated with my apparent inability to follow directions.  Do you know how hard it is to relax your hand (which I thought was dead-fish-like) when you have someone (an official government agent, no less!) yelling at you to relax your hand???  Fortunately she got what she needed.  I was all prepared to laugh about this with Michael but apparently his hand-relaxation skills are far superior to mine and he did not have the same experience.  Our prints are good for 15 months, so I'm gonna be practicing ahead of time for the next go-round ;)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Paper Chasing Part IV ~ The Homestretch

I am both excited and hesitant to write this post.  On Monday of this week, exactly 2 weeks after we sent our homestudy and I-600a off to the USCIS/Department of Homeland Security, we got that blessed piece of paper in the mail that gave us our dates to get our biometrics (fancy word for fingerprints ;)).  Unfortunately (?), the date they picked for us does not work, so I promptly called the 800 number they gave us and asked if we could go early as I'd heard whispers of this potentially exciting fact.  Turns out we *can*!  It's possible that they'll turn us away, but from what the woman at USCIS headquarters could gather from the info she had, we should be able to go THIS FRIDAY!!!  I would call ahead, but, in what is a probably a smart move on their part, the USCIS field offices do not list phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses...basically we just show up and hope (and pray, obviously!) that they are able to squeeze us in :)  If they can take our biometrics Friday, we can expect to be cleared in 2-3 weeks, woohoo!  Fortunately right smack dab in the middle of that waiting, we will be on vacation and I will hopefully be able to focus on something other than my email box (cause apparently they email you the clearance).

The last piece is the money we need to have raised to submit our dossier.  We have submitted a grant application and should hear back on that around the same time as our USCIS clearance, and to say that I'm anxious is a bit of an understatement.  Between the necklace fundraiser (which blew me away, btw ~ Jamie is such a gift to our family, and each of you that purchased necklaces, I really can't thank you enough!), babysitting, donations, selling random items, our monthly saving, and random (God-provided) extra bits of money, we have been able to raise just over 1/4 of what we need.  The other 3/4 seems so out of reach, but I know that God has this in His control.  He has not let us down yet, and every time I have felt that this was too much for me to handle on my own, He has reminded me that I am *not* alone.  Sam Toler has a book titled "God's Never Late", and every time I try to argue that and get frustrated that things are not DONE DONE DONE at this point, I am reminded of the subtitle: "He's Seldom Early; He's Always Right On Time".  I'm praying that I can remember that in these (hopefully!) final weeks of the paper-chase.  I'm trying to ignore that after this "challenge" of waiting weeks to submit our dossier, we will enter the true period of waiting ;)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thinking of Africa

"Children born to another woman call me “Mom.” The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me." -Jody Landers
(this quote showed up in my Facebook feed right after I had posted this blog; seems that I am not the only one thinking of birth mothers this Mother's Day)

Behind the beauty and joy and redemption and love of adoption, there is a dark, sad, ugly, painful truth.  Adoption is not the original plan for these children.  These children who have lost parents through disease and poverty and violence and every other misfortune you can think of.  It's easy to gloss over the pain and sadness when you think of the healing work that can be done when you bring a child into your home that otherwise would remain orphaned, but today, Mother's Day, I cannot help but think of the mothers on the other side of the world.  Mothers who experienced the joy and wonder of carrying a child in their womb and in their arms, only to have that joy taken away; diseases that could be cured or at least treated if only they lived in a different location, poverty so extreme that we can barely begin to understand, rape, shame, war.  We live in a fallen, sinful world, and this has never been more clear to me than when I began to try to understand how children, millions of children, are left without homes, without mothers.  This was not God's plan.  My heart is aching for our future child's first mother, and while I continuously pray for her, the sadness of what I know will happen is overwhelming.  I do not know her story, and it's possible that I never will, but what I do know is that it ends with a child, a beautiful, precious, amazing, perfectly created child.  A child who was born to her but will call me "Mama".  It is unfair.  I am so blessed, and look to the future with joy and anticipation as I wait for God to work, and yet I feel that I do not deserve such a precious gift.  But our God is a redeeming God, and while I may never understand why He will give this child to us and not her, I will forever be grateful for her sacrifice and will live my life in constant thankfulness for this mother who gave her child the most beautiful gift, life.

On this Mother's Day, while we remember our own mothers and friends who have children and those who long for both, I will also pray for the mother who gives up her child, whether her choice or not.  It is not the original plan, but I am so grateful to be a part of this mystery.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Soccer, Life

Intentionally forgetting how much Maya disliked (read: complained constantly about) soccer last year, Michael and I signed her up again this spring.  We switched leagues, and one of her long-time friends is on her team, and I think the combination of those two factors is making this season excellent.  She counts down the days until her next practice or game, she runs the whole time, she laughs, she kicks the coach (don't worry, they play a game called "kick the coach" :)), and she generally has a fantastic time. I credit my friend Beth, who recommended this particular team/coach, with Maya's sudden love of the game :)  Our poor, poor children are not getting any help from genetics when it comes to athletic ability, so having excellent, fun coaches is pretty crucial :)

Charlotte is just about done with her first year of preschool!  She has changed so much since she started at this school, and I am so thankful for her amazing teachers.  They work with her to bring her out of her shell, which, let me tell ya, is not an easy task!  A couple of weeks ago she actually spoke to a cashier at Target unprompted. That might not sound like a big deal, but it was huge for her.  My brave little girlie :D

Milo is still a pretty awesome little man.  He is entering full-on toddlerhood which has been entertaining 90% of the time.  That other 10% is when he is having a loud, flailing, screaming meltdown in public.  Still very slightly entertaining for us, not so much for the others around us.  I've gotten more than one "look" from an older lady who clearly does not remember the joy of raising a toddler boy (and I'm being completely serious here ~ he is a joy through and through :))

Just a few pictures tonight.  My computer is freezing up so editing is next to impossible :P

Milo is really into cleaning ~ vacuums, mops, brooms.  Apparently he even likes to clean outside.

We went on a picnic after ballet last week.  I promise they were excited!

My brave little man tackled the large twisty slide again and again and again.

Paper Chasing Part III ~ the Waiting

After waiting very very patiently for the stars to align so that our home study could be completed, we got that beautiful, magnificent package in the mail yesterday morning.  We are DONE with the home study!  Yay!!!!!  Now, hold your horses a minute, we have recently discovered that this does not mean we are done with our part...yet.  I checked the mail at approximately 11:07am, realized we had received our home study, jumped for joy, gathered the remaining documents and forms we needed (easy to do as I've been waiting for this moment so they were in a folder labeled "complete, ready to send"), went to print out our cover page so I could send everything out...and discovered that somebody had used the last of my printer paper.  Now, I'm not naming any names (Maya), but I will say that my frustration was probably a bit more obvious than I would have liked toward said unnamed individual (Maya) ;)  No worries, though!  My practical child informed me that it was ok, and that we could just go to the store and get more paper.  And you know what?  That's exactly what we did.  Target for paper, back home to fight with my printer to print out this one very simple yet very important page, then to the post office to hand over these precious documents.  I could not even begin to fathom the stress of sending this package out into the ether without super-tracking, so it was sent overnight express with guaranteed noon delivery (it made it with 22 minutes to spare, so yay USPS :)).  Now Michael and I wait for the Department of Homeland Security (that's right) to set us up with fingerprint appointments, and once we're cleared by the FBI (right???) we will be able to send our dossier to our agency (provided we can come up with the large fee) and then we will officially go on the wait-list.  We are so close I can taste it!  Ok, I can't really taste it, but I can feel it.  In my bones and skin and stomach, the excitement and anxiousness keep me awake.  I'm looking forward to being done with what we have control over (ha!) and letting God handle the rest.  I'm ready to sleep.