Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Life

Life has been full of fun the past couple of weeks. May was insanely busy with all of the fundraising and adoption stuff that filled our schedules. We were moving at a breakneck pace the entire month. June has been a little slower. It has been wonderful.

Last weekend we went to a Point of Grace concert benefitting the Oatsvall family. They are adopting a little boy from Uganda. We were so blessed to be at the concert and to hear more about this family's story and passion for orphans. There were many, many adoptive families present, and we felt so encouraged to see all of these beautiful, colorful families. We got to have several great conversations, and it was food for my soul. It is a tremendous blessing to live in an area where there are so many families who have adopted transracially.

Daniel has been spending every minute of free time building our fence. It has been blazing hot around here - not the best weather to spend whole days working in the sun. He is a hard-working guy through it all. What a man.

Last week Madeline and I went swimming, and I took her to her first movie. How fun is that?! The Regal Cinema near us offers free kids' movies twice a week. Since we did't have to pay anything to go, it made a great opportunity to just go try it out, knowing that we could leave when we reached the end of her 15-month-old attention span. We made it for about an hour through The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. I didn't realize that they took God out of the Veggie Tales movies for the big screen. Maybe we just missed it since we left early, but I was pretty disappointed with what I saw because I expected it to be more like the videos that I have seen.

My sis and her husband were in town last week, and we enjoyed spending several days with Aunt Rachel and Uncle Charlie. We took a day trip to Kentucky with them to see my dad's side of the family, plus we just had lots of time to hang out and talk. Rachel is 30 weeks pregnant now. It won't be much longer!

Here are a few of my favorite photos from all the excitement in the last couple of weeks:

Fun at the swimming pool



Playing in the yard in Madeline's cool wagon that I found at a yard sale



This girl loves to be outside



Picking one of mom's cherry tomatoes



Charlie and Rachel (in all of her pregnant cute-ness)



Madeline loves Uncle Charlie



Talking on the phone - one of Madeline's absolute favorite things to do



Shopping at Lowe's for fence supplies. Madeline is still not quite walking on her own, but she loves to walk behind things and push them along.



Helping dad set posts for the fence



This little girl LOVES to play in the dirt. It's easiest to just strip her down and let her go to it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kitty!

That’s what Madeline exclaimed when she saw this sitting in our driveway last weekend:


That, I have learned, is a major difference between boys and girls. While little boys dream of growing up and driving cranes and dump trucks, little girls look at something like a Bobcat and all they see is the cute kitty on the side.

So let me back up a little bit. Daniel is in the process of building a fence around part of our backyard. His parents generously offered to sponsor this project after seeing just how scary a few dogs that run around our neighborhood can be.

Also, our property is backed by the Harpeth River. I love it. We have a private spot with a swing down by the river, and it serves as our personal retreat center. However, the potential danger of it does scare me a bit now that we will soon have kiddos running around the yard.

For a while I have been wanting to build a fence around a portion of our yard so that the kids can run free without me
feeling concerned about the river or the dogs. I am super excited to have this project in the works.

Our backyard has a lot of bumps and hills, and we have wanted to smooth out some of the problem areas as long as we have lived here. Daniel decided that now is the time since he is preparing the land for the
fence. Last weekend he rented a Bobcat to do the grading work. It also had an auger attachment that allowed him to dig all the holes for the posts in no time.

It worked out nicely that it just happened to be Father’s Day weekend. Daniel loved every minute he spent “playing” on the Bobcat. He, too, was once a little boy who dreamed of driving heavy machinery. I guess you could say that this weekend was a dream come true.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue

Two months ago I circled and starred yesterday’s date on my calendar and noted: Deadline to Received Paperwork from USCIS.

The processing of our immigration paperwork is the only thing that we still lack for our dossier. Eight weeks from yesterday I mailed in the final required item to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service so that they can approve our family to adopt a child from Ethiopia. Once they had received all the necessary documents, it was supposed to take a maximum of eight weeks for us to receive the approval. I was counting down the days! As soon as we get that invaluable document in the mail, we can send off our dossier and officially begin the wait to receive our referral. I feel more than a little impatient!

I had heard from the beginning of our adoption process that unexpected delays are the norm when you adopt internationally. Regulations and requirements, both in the U.S. and in the country one is adopting from, are always changing. This means that as soon as you complete your paperwork, you may find out that some rule has changed and you have to start over. Well, it’s true.

About two weeks after I had sent off the paperwork to USCIS, we received a letter in the mail saying that they had just changed a requirement and they need additional documentation stating that we aren’t on the registry of child abusers for our state . That documentation has taken about a month to receive, and now our social worker has to complete an addendum to our home study. Through some strange situation that I don’t fully understand, our adoption agency’s license has expired and the license won’t be active again until the end of June. So we won’t be able to send anything in to USCIS until then. And then starts another eight week wait. Can you imagine my frustration?!

I thought that we would be sending our dossier to Ethiopia by now (Oh happy day!), but instead it may be late August!

Patience. God is teaching me to have more of it. I have to remember that everything about this adoption is out of my control and in his hands. It is so comforting when I can let go and rest in that truth. I know that a year from now my perspective will be totally different. Once I have my baby in my arms I will realize that if it hadn’t been for this delay or that circumstance, then we wouldn't have ended up with the same child. And I trust that God has specially and carefully matched us with just the right little boy, even as he is now in his mother’s womb.

So this is just a part of his perfect timing. But still, the wait is hard….

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Black Baby, White Mama

Last week while we were at the Shaker Village, we saw this:


It made me cry.

Sometimes I have doubts about adopting transracially. I wonder if we are doing the right thing. Some say that it is not "natural" for a white family to raise a black child. They argue that there are just too many differences between the races. Having never been there, it is hard not to wonder if they are right.

Then God comforted me with the gift of this image. Even in nature, he reminded me, he gives black babies to white mamas. They are both sheep. They are exactly the same on the inside. It just so happens that the wool of one is a different color than the wool of the other. There is nothing weird or unnatural about it. They are a family, just the way that God intended.

Lord, make us a family with the child that you have called us to love. Help us to see no difference but the color of our "wool."

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Wish I Could Tell You...

Kirk and Heidi Weimer have a remarkable family. After giving birth to three children, they adopted three from Ethiopia. Now a couple years later they are going back for three more. That's right, nine kids. Their obedience to God's calling on their lives is amazing and inspiring. We have had the privilege to meet them at a recent Ethiopia fellowship group meeting.

You HAVE to read this blog entry that Heidi recently posted. http://blessingsfromethiopia.blogspot.com/2009/06/i-wish-i-could-tell-you.html

Have a good Monday!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Catching Up

Has it really been almost two weeks since I last posted? Sorry about that. They have certainly been a busy couple of weeks.

Madeline is going to have tubes put in her ears this Tuesday. The poor baby has had a double ear infection for a month and a half now. She has been on four different oral antibiotics, plus she's had four shots of Rocephin, and the crazy persistent infections still will not go away. We have been to see her pediatrician nine times, and now the ear doctor at Vanderbilt once. We are all ready to put this behind us. I feel relieved that she is going to have tubes.

Can you believe that when I called to make the appointment with the ear doc at Vanderbilt, I was told that the first available appointment was in November?! I am not one who usually cuts line. I don't deserve any extra privileges that others don't have. But when it comes to the health of my child, I am willing to shamelessly pull any strings that I can pull. I thank God (and my dad) that we only had to wait a week for our appointment instead of five months.

A week and a half ago, Madeline and I spent the weekend with my pregnant sis in Georgia. She had two baby showers, and we got to be there for both.

Doesn't she look cute? Less than three months to go!



Madeline, me, Rachel's MIL Sandra, mom, and Rachel



Itty bitty bathing suits are oh so cute!



Dad, Mom, and Rachel at their church shower



We were only home for a day and a half before leaving again. I do love to be on the road! Last week we went to visit Daniel's family in Kentucky and spent one night with them. Then Daniel and I left Madeline with his parents and left for TWO WHOLE NIGHTS BY OURSELVES! Our anniversary is this week, and Daniel's parents sponsored a little get-away for us. Oh, it was wonderful to spend time with my best bud with no interruptions. I love my little M with all my heart, but I have missed the carefree time that Daniel and I used to regularly spend together so much. Thank you, Paul and Suzie, for letting us have a much-needed break!

We went to the Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. It is a beautiful place in a peaceful setting. We got toured the village, ate dinner at the inn restaurant, and enjoyed a great hike. We spent hours and hours talking. What a blessing!

Here we are in front of the building that we stayed in



Petting a cow (While we were there we saw an owl and a deer in addition to all of the farm animals that they have on the premises. Cool!)



And to wrap things up, here is a picture of Madeline enjoying her chocolate chip pancakes at lunch today. I think she likes chocolate as much as her mama does.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Whole Lot of Cuteness

I learned an important parenting lesson the other day: When the baby is playing quietly in another room, don't give into the temptation to take advantage of the moment and try to get something done. Go check on her immediately. Otherwise you might find this:



Evidently Miss Madeline has been paying attention when I put on lipstick. I couldn't stop laughing. She just looked so stinkin' cute! Of course, she immediately caught on that she had done something funny, and she was delighted. I just let her go at it, thinking of how great the pictures were going to be. Before long she looked like this:



We went straight to the bathtub, clothes and all. She left a pink ring around the tub. Remind me to put my lipstick up in a higher place.

Later on we played outside on the sprinkler mat that she got for her birthday. It is perfect for toddlers. She was hesitant at first, but then warmed up to it and had great fun.



Here we are after Daddy got home playing a game of peek-a-boo. She has just learned to say, "There she is!!" when we ask, "Where is Madeline?" It is so unbelievably cute. Unfortunately, right now no one else but Mommy and Daddy can understand her. Oh, and sorry that it's sideways. Oops.

video

Here is another one of Madeline's recent "tricks." She likes to rock in the rocking chair and say "rock, rock, rock, rock," as she sways back and forth.

video

All of this is just one day's worth of cuteness! Madeline is at such a fun stage right now, learning so much every single day. Her vocabulary is exploding. Maybe someday people besides Daniel and me will actually be able to understand the words she is saying. :) She has developed quite the sense of humor too. She thinks everything Daddy does is funny. Her favorite thing to do with him is "eat" his nose. They laugh and laugh and laugh.

Oh, the memories. I wish that I could put some of these days in the deep freezer to save them for later. It won't be long until she is a teenager and wants nothing to do with us. But right now the days are filled with cuteness, laughter, and thinking that mommy and daddy are the greatest. Life is pretty cool.

The Best Yard Sale Ever

I had a blast on Saturday. Really, I had no idea just how fun it would be. Now, all of the preparations for the yard sale were more than a little stressful and overwhelming. But when the actual day came, it was nothin' but fun.

Our day started at 4 am. Daniel and I threw on our clothes and arrived at the church at about 4:30. We had worked for hours the previous day laying as many of our wares as possible out on tables. We had covered the tables with tarps to protect everything from the dew - the night before was really chilly! The weather was so amazing. It couldn't have been better. Not only was it cool and sunny, but there also was no wind. At midnight the night before it hadn't occurred to me what might happen if the wind started blowing during the night. The tarps would have blown away and taken the contents of the tables to the ground. What a blessing that didn't happen!

We quickly worked to get the remaining items outside - electronics, furniture, and other valuables. I hung a few signs, brewed the coffee, and laid out all of the bake sale goodies. By 6:45 we were ready to go. Well, more or less anyway. I couldn't believe it. At 6 pm on Friday, I didn't believe we would ever be ready. Ever.

I was impressed with the crowd at the sale. We had a steady stream of people all day. 1:45 pm was the first time that we didn't have any shoppers. Our hearts were warmed by all the friends that came to support us - co-workers, church family, and relatives. It was such fun to see everyone.

Even with the great attendance and huge sales for the day (We're now up to total sales of $2300 for the day!) , we estimate that only about half of the total volume of our goods actually sold. In our exhaustion on Saturday afternoon, we made plans to donate all the leftovers to a charity. However now that I have gotten some sleep, I am actually considering holding a second sale at my parents house in Franklin. I'm not sure that I have talked Daniel into it yet, though...

Making signs on Friday morning



You couldn't miss these orange beauties



Putting up signs around town



Emily, M, me, and Daniel sporting our Go. Seek. Love. T's. We sold lots of them at the yard sale!



Look at all the chairs and furniture we had to sell!



Household doo-dads



Toys and holiday stuff (I worked really hard at keeping things organized.)



Check out the violins that were donated!



We had lots of valuable electronics to sell. Our donors were so generous!



More furniture



Lots of yard toys, lawn mowers, and sporting goods



Hope, the bake sale queen



Rachel and Emma Smiley



My Aunt Barbara with her prized turkey



The Henley family - friends from church



Here we are after the sale is over. The picture says it all.



A few thank you's:
  • Mom for the hours you spent helping me prepare, for donating half the contents of your garage, and for 28 loaves of amazing bread
  • Suzie for being such an amazing mother-in-law and taking care of Madeline, bringing us food, and even cleaning my house during the sale
  • Ann for organizing the bake sale and gathering all the donations
  • Emily for organizing the clothes and sacrificing her Saturday to help out
  • Hope for being the ultimate bagger and cashier
  • The Smiley family for being there very early and helping with all the last minute prep
  • All our church family for all the awesome donations and coming to shop and support