Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 10 of the Next Steps

We are deep in "nesting mode" around here. :)  J is building a stage area in the basement, I'm painting (and re-painting) a few rooms, and we're making a big IKEA trip tomorrow.  And today we had our "Next Steps" phone call with our Case Manager.

Here are the top 10 things I learned today... :)

1.  I need to figure out how to be two places at once.  The Created to Care Conference is in Atlanta the very same weekend that we fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (working on this one).

2.  We will hold our little girl for the first time on Tuesday, February 8. (wow...)

3.  We will appear before the Ethiopian Court that Thursday, right after the birth family (if they are able to make it).  Then, if the birth family was able to come, we will also have the humbling privilege of meeting them.

4.  If the all of the documents are ready at the courts, if the birth family passes and if we pass, there will be an official decree in Ethiopia that she is our daughter to raise as a forever part of our family.  If any of the above are missing the judge will continue to check off his list (after we have left) until all of the pieces are there--then the official decree will come. :)

5.  After the official decree has been made, paperwork will be sent to the US Embassy so that they can prepare her Visa.  This may take 4-8 weeks.  We'll be holding our breath for this date--we will finally get to bring her HOME.

6.  Nothing is for certain.  Dates can change at any time--so we need to make plans while at the same time guarding our expectations.

7.  We have homework.  We'll be creating a little photo album to leave with our little girl, putting together another photo album for her birth family and writing a letter to her birth family--(that one will be hard...).

8.  We need to start packing!

9.  T appears to be totally cool with us leaving for a week, "I'll be with Nana and Pop!"

10.  I can't believe this is really happening!  :)

Travelling to Africa in Just 6 Weeks!

We got the unexpected news yesterday (my birthday :), that we will be heading out for our first trip to Africa on February 5 for a February 10 court date.  We weren't expecting that date to be until March--but by some unusual circumstances we have a much earlier date.  We'll find out more this afternoon during our "Next Steps" call with our Case Manager.

Holding on for this crazy ride! :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is it really true what they say about Walgre*n's?

In our house we usually have our favorite radio station on 24-7 (Sound of Life--no commercials), but we've been listening to a few other stations for Christmas music.

So, today in the van, M asks, "Is it true what they say on my radio about Walgre*en's?  Is it really a place full of wonderful things like they say in the song?  Like chocolates and all kinds of good stuff?"

Oh. My. Word.  HILARIOUS! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

A glimpse of what we've been doing the past few weeks...

Decorating the tree...

The tree at Rockefeller Plaza.

Carriage ride through Central Park.

Times Square at Night.

M's Preschool Holiday Sing-a-Long.

Making "Gingerbread" Houses
M's pink confectionary creation.  Poor roof collapsed soon after from all of the icing.

T's masterpiece and the poor snowman who lost his smile.

Peanut-Butter Blossoms (Yum!)

Santa on a firetruck. (Who knew?)

Add in lots of Christmas music, tons of wrapping paper and tape (all being used exclusively by M--today she wrapped a box of granola bars and a pack of gum) and fun Christmas cards from friends and family and it's quite festive around here. :)

On a slightly different Christmas note, there are seven families who are planning to leave for Ethiopia within the next few days to bring HOME their little ones right over Christmas.  Today, though, they found out that the Embassy isn't yet confirming their appointments (they need to get their visas to bring the little ones back into the US) and all of the their plans are up in the air.  Praying tonight that tomorrow will bring good news and praying for peace in their hearts while their plans are unknown...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When the Coyote Comes

A slice of our real life...

We got our first snow today.  Hmmm...maybe an inch or two.  Because school was delayed (but the roads were fine), I decided that it would be "fun" to take M and T to Target to buy some gifts for a family in our community before school started.

Picking out the gifts was actually fun, but keeping T in the cart (the one with the two seats facing each other) was another story.  We got everything we needed and headed to the checkout.  I pulled out my wallet to pay and, hmmm...there was no wallet.  The very kind cashier said that she would set my bag aside so that I could come back later (Target is 30 minutes from my house).  I was thankful she could do that, but totally bummed that I had to come back.

We RAN out to the car empty-handed and after everyone was buckled in, guess what I found.  Yep--my wallet.  It was in another compartment of my bag...

I had no time to spare because today was M's Christmas Sing-Along at school and we couldn't be late--so off we rushed with plans to come back later. *sigh*

So, if you're curious about the coyotes in the title, here's where they come in.  With Christmas carols filling the car, M starts to tell me (for some reason) that if one of our cats got out on the roof of our house that she would call the fire department to come get it off.  (Sounds like a good plan.)  Then T jumps in with his idea that well if a coyote was at our house then the fire department would come to take care of it.  M firmly disagreed saying no way, they were not the right people for the job.  T replied that he would then call 911 (glad he knows the number just in case!) and the police would help with the coyote problem.  M still thought that wasn't quite right.  That made T quite angry.  He started to scream.

I do NOT like screaming in the car.  Feeling kind-of stressed about trying to be on time and upset about having to go back out later, I was not so happy about the whole discussion in the moment.  But looking back (at the end of the day and after a successful trip back to Target after preschool), that was a down-right hilarious conversation.  I mean really, an argument between a 2- and 5-year-old about policemen and coyotes!  Funny, funny kids! :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

THE Referral Call!

Life is so full of times of waiting.  And if you haven't noticed ;), the adoption process provides one opportunity after another to wait well.  After 6 months of research, 6 months of paperwork and nearly 10 months on a waiting list--watching our numbers fall from Number 52 in February to Number 1 at the end of November--after 17 days of being Number 1--on December 8th, a little after 4:30pm, we got THE CALL.
It's a moment to never forget.

Here's how it all went down...

It started as just an ordinary day (an ordinary "waiting" day).  We had breakfast, I dropped M off at preschool, came home to order some Christmas gifts and to clean up a little (I've been in keep-the-house-clean-in-case-you-get-a-referral-today mode for a little while now), headed out to our Mommy-and-Me group with T, picked up M from preschool and went to Becca's house for crepes.

We came home, M took a bath to get the crepe syrup out of her hair, and I checked my email a bazillion times.  I saw that we had gotten our official monthly number (Number 1) email from our Case Worker (CW).  She had a few questions about future referral details and I emailed her back right away (you know, for the highly improbable chance that future meant in-a-few-hours future).

T woke up from his nap and we played some rousing rounds of "Guess Who."  I noted that it was getting quite late in the day and that today was probably not the day.  A lovely bonus to referral day would mean pizza.  Bummer--it looked like I would need to start making dinner soon.

T took a really long bath.  I knelt down to wash his hair.  The phone rang.

I ran to the office to check the caller id.  It was the caller id we had been waiting for.  Tears.

I looked at M and said, "M!  This could be Sister! This could be the call about Sister!"

M started jumping up and down and screaming, "It's Sister!"

Okay, I had to answer it.  I took a deep breath and said, "Hello?" as nonchalantly as possible. It was our CW and she said that she was just calling to follow up on our emails from earlier in the day.  I told myself, "Okay, this isn't it. This is just a checking-up-on-the-details call.  No big deal.  There's always tomorrow.  It will come soon."

Then she said, "And, actually, I do have a little girl I wanted to talk to you about."  NO-WAY!  I think I even said that out loud.

I asked if we could call back in about 20 minutes.  I needed to get T out of the tub and I was pretty sure that J would be able to come home so that we could see her together.  No problem.

I got T dressed, turned on Curious George and started making calls--fumbling the whole time with numbers :).

I called Becca to tell her that it was "PIZZA TIME" and that now she was NUMBER 2!  Called Emily.  Then I called my mom.  My mom asked me how her name was spelled so I quickly pulled up the email from our CW and then accidently saw it--a picture of the most gorgeous smiling little baby girl all dressed in pink.  "Mom--She. Is. Beautiful...  Wow..."  And then I called J's parents to let them know that this was it!

When J got home we called our CW back and opened our email.  We listened as she read through all of her documents and with tears we heard what little they know of her story...

Then there were more pictures.  Breathtaking...

After the call  M and T got to see Sister for the first time.  Then after pizza we gave them some special "Big Sister and Brother" gifts (a few books and one of those little baby hamster toys--the non-squeaking variety that they've been playing with ever since.)

We called our families again and then Becca and Eric and Keith and Emily and their families all came over to celebrate.  And to stare at her pictures. ;)

And that was our referral day!  YAY!  I can't post pictures of our sweet girl online--so you'll have to bear with this teaser photo.  I promise that just above that cute little belly there are bright sparkling eyes and a gorgeous gummy smile.

She's a little munchkin weighing just 9lbs at 5.5 months--but I know that in no time she will catch up with the amazing "special mothers" at Hannah's Hope" (where she's been since last Wednesday 12/1).  I am so thankful that I know with confidence that she is being loved so well while we all wait for her to come home (maybe in March?).  (The next steps are coming in a post soon).

Sweet girl, you have stolen our hearts.  We can not wait to get to you...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Processing... has been a day to process more of our little girl's life...

So, these details, might seem a bit tedious, but I know that someday I will want to look back to remember this part.

Today was a FULL day!  It started with dropping one of our cats off at the vet.  Well, first I had to get him into the cat carrier--a much more complicated task than I had anticipated. Then I had to get the carrier into the van--also more complex than I imagined.  All of these delays made me 30 minutes late to drop M off at preschool.

Then I went to Emily's to enjoy coffee and some delicious celebratory treats from Becca--real english muffins with jam, doughnut holes, death-by-chocolate cake from the bakery and flowers (we actually didn't eat the flowers ;).

I rushed from there to pick up M from preschool and to hurry to Walgreens to pick up the referral photos that I had ordered late last night.  I had one hour to get there and back for our afternoon Mommy & Me group at M's school.  When I got to Walgreen's I wasn't feeling so well and I had to re-put on both M & T's shoes in the freezing cold (NOT one of my favorite things to do) before we could go in.  We waited in line and then found out that I was at the wrong store...

We rushed back to the van and after some wrestling with seatbelts and big winter coats we went to the correct store.  After successfully navigating a meltdown by T because he didn't think it was quite right that M didn't have to hold my hand and he did, we waited for someone to help us.  Only to find out that the photo machine was broken and they didn't have my pictures.  Ugh...  I wanted pictures.

Fighting back tears, we rushed back out to the van and called M's preschool for the second time that day to tell them that we would be late (again).  45-minutes later (we had to stop at the long-lined drive-thru for lunch) we finally made it to our afternoon class.  Which was a really fun place to share our referral story and pictures printed off from the computer.

We finally got home and T took a nap.  An hour and half later the vet called to say that Riley was ready to come home.  M woke up T and we all bundled put to go back to the vet.

It was a very full day--but there was a lot of car time--a lot of car time to think (when I wasn't answering questions about vets and food ;).  What a twist of emotions.  In one moment I feel so at peace knowing that our little girl is being so well cared for at Hannah's Hope and in the next, when I consider all that I know about her, how irresistibly cute she is and how little she is I just want to get there as quickly as possible to scoop her up!  And her life story...  Still processing (and I'm sure it's a life-long process) what we know.

And that was our day.  Full, and good, and hard a bit.

It's a Girl!!

We are beyond excited and humbled to announce that tonight we received a referral for a 5 1/2 month old little girl!  What a precious and long-anticipated moment to finally see her beautiful face...  Our hearts are a jumble of joy and sadness as we process her story.  Oh, we can not wait to bring her home!

(I'll post our call and the next steps soon! :) 

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Letter

Dear Sweet Girl,

Today I want you to know just how very much you are loved.  We have been waiting for you for such a very long time and not long from now we will see your face for the first time.  Sometimes this waiting seems like it will go on forever, but I am realizing that this part of the journey is just another part of our story.  I am wondering where you are and what is going on in your little life right now.  Know, that even though we may never know the details, you are so constantly in our hearts.  Our prayer for you when you are not with us is that you would know that you are so very loved--that you would feel a full belly and a cozy bed--but most of all that you would have warm arms that hold you tight and that let you know how beautiful and wonderful you are.

Longing for you...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Monday Made It: Christmas Sign and Cookies

Last week while "waiting" I made a few signs using the scraps of wood from the deck project.

And today, to make the afternoon go by a little more quickly (and honestly, just because we love any reason to have some chocolate) M and I made some our "Super-Food" Cookies--made with oats, whole wheat flour, walnuts and dark chocolate.  M is about all things "Super-Food." :)

Sunday Funnies: There's a Christmas Song About THAT?

The other day we were just chilling at home listening to some Christmas music.  T was trying to sing along with Little Drummer Boy and he asked me, "Why do they keep saying, 'bum'?"

Feeling like I was stating the obvious, I said, "Because that's the sound a drum makes." 

Then I noticed that both M and T were laughing about it.  That made me start to think a little more.  Oh. My. Word.  Yeah, so at our house we call our bottoms, "bums."  They think it's a song about bottoms... 

And, this is where I found T one morning this past week when I came down to get breakfast ready.  He's getting a closer look at his cereal options.

(Bit of a tough parenting weekend at our house this weekend.  Here's to a fresh new week! :)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Favorite: Catchy Little Tunes

Was just hanging with Emily the other day when this song popped up on TV (no, we weren't watching Sesame Street, but T was ;). 

Also, in a search for some new Christmas music I saw a suggestion for Family Force 5's Christmas Pageant. LOVING their sounds--fun modern twist on the classics. Check it out...

(There are more in my Tunes on the side of the blog. :)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thanksgiving Week

A little recap of last week.

Because we went to PA for "official" Thanksgiving festivities, I thought that it would be fun to have our own little feast at home.  A lovely, original smorgasbord of meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce and the "traditional" Thanksgiving Monkey Bread. ;)

We had a candlelit dinner at the big dining room table.  It was one of the sweetest nights--lots of precious memories tucked away from that one.  M and T were SO excited!  M set the table all by herself and was full of amazing Thanksgiving prayers.  And my picky eaters chowed down! Gotta love that!

So, our little Thanksgiving feast was on Monday ;), and then on Tuesday we celebrated J's birthday (which was actually on Friday--but, you know, you do what you have to do).  What better way to celebrate the big 3-3 than with an ice-cream sandwich cake?

On Wed we headed to PA and had a fun time hanging out with both of our families.  

The high creek at the cabin meant that the only way across was in the monstrous deuce.  M and T couldn't get enough of it.

And then we came back on Sunday with our Christmas tree from J's Grandparents' Tree Farm.  
Tree-hunting wheels.
(Yes, J is just that fast--making it quite hard to capture a picture of his face. ;)

Fun full week.  But, very glad to be home. :) 

(Adoption Update: No call yet, but today there were 3 referrals of little toddlers ages 3-4.  How cool is that?  Yay, for new forever families!)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Some Crazy Goals for 2015

Today is World Aids Day--a day to raise awareness about HIV and the AIDS pandemic.  The Lazarus Effect describes the amazing way that people living with HIV and AIDS come back from the brink of death when they start taking ARV's.  These medications can completely change a life, yet, they are all too often not available to the people who need them the most.  Above and below are some groups who are helping to change that.
ONE (among many other groups) has the goal of eradicating the spread of HIV from mothers to children by 2015.  You can watch the short video below and sign the petition.

You can also watch this short clip of Carolyn Twietmeyer talking about her family's story and Project HOPEFUL (a movement to make the adoption of children with HIV and AIDS easier). What an awesome family! They are also featured in the Dec. 6 issue of People Magazine.

For more information about HIV and AIDS in Africa you can go here.