Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Have an Office (and other unrelated things)

First, I have to give a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who has become a part of our adoption puzzle in the last week.  We plan to give an update soon but I just can't blog without saying thank you.  I am literally brought to tears and overwhelmed by kindnesses every day.

And second, my heart is so very very heavy for the people of Joplin and surrounding areas.  Seeing posts from college and high school friends who live there just breaks my heart. My prayers are with the town.  This is the kind of thing that just reminds you how much we truly should be longing for heaven and how sad and cruel this world can be.  On the flipside, the kindness of humanity is inspiring.

I finally have an office.  Weird, I tell you.  In my five years in the work world, I have never had a door on an office.  A girl can get used to this.  My co-worker had her beautiful baby girl on Monday and I wasted no time moving into her office.  I think it will take a little while before I get used to it actually being mine.

Did I mention even though I have a full-time job I get to be an intern this summer? It's true.  My church recruited me to be an intern for Kids Club, our version of VBS.  I get to buy supplies, assist in setup, and work the week.  Meanwhile, I also get to fellowship with great women and learn more about heaven (our theme).  In my quest for supplies, I was required to get 190 rocks.  Some women might go buy rocks from a garden center. I am not one of those women.  My friend lives outside of town and suggested we should just get the rocks out of her creek bed near her house.  I trekked over at noon on Saturday and knocked on her door.  We headed down to the creek with a bucket and about 30 minutes, 2 snakes, and 3 trips up and down the hill to the creek later, we had all the rocks we needed.  I am not sure my friend knew what she was getting herself into when she volunteered to help but I was so grateful for her help!  Post-rock-adventure we bought Michael's and Hobby Lobby out of neon model magic, along with some other crafting favorites like sparkly pipe cleaners, iron-on printer transfers, googly eyes, feathers, and space-themed stamps.  Some people call it an internship.  I call it mommy-prepping:).

I'm off to finish some delightful TV with the hubs...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Morning

This is what a good Saturday morning looks like.

(and yes, that's adoption paperwork waiting for attention in the background of my pancake photo)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Babies and Nursing

 Working in nursing has shown me an interesting phenomenon--nurses have no shame.  Especially when it comes to be the body.  Several of my co-workers are pregnant or have had babies in the past month (and I have been told I can't have a baby for 5 years--another post for another time but kind of funny for me, knowing our family plan:)).  Because of all the pregnancies recently, we have a lot of professors and students coming in with unsolicited advice.

One co-worker was due last Saturday, meaning everyone who walks in now immediately asks about the state of her baby/ body.  It's funny--she practically counts the amount of times people say "have you had that baby yet?" per day.  Because most pregnant women deliver the baby and are back at work the next day.  Even funnier, though, is the nursing instinct to treat each person they interact with as a patient.  Many of those nurses in our office have given suggestions that would typically make a person blush in an everyday setting.  Not these women and men.  They are proud to talk about how to stimulate labor (pun intended) as well as what will happen during labor and other seemingly incredibly private things right in the middle of our co-ed office.  Yes, my office has been transformed from a quiet haven to a bodily function conversation hub. The good news? I'm learning a lot for future use.

Speaking of my office, I currently have no "official" office.  Remember that overdue coworker? Well, I am taking her office once the Cherub of Joy appears.  I was in the office of another co-worker who returned from maternity leave, so now I am in the hallway with a beanie lap desk and my laptop.  That's maybe an exaggeration.  I'm actually in the entryway at a table students typically use.  I have a giant post-it on the wall telling everyone it's my "office" as well as a name plate propped against a giant fake bone (remember, I work in the nursing school).  So, it's not exactly conducive to meeting with students but it will get the job done (literally) until my co-worker has her baby.

Speaking of which, I've heard a few ways to speed that process up...:)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Milestone Down

Well, in short, I graduated.  Stay tuned for the "in long" version.

Friday the 13 I graduated.  Yes, I have many posts about how significant that date is for my family.  Pretty cool. What was not cool was the length of my ceremony.  The family and I met at Ingredient, a sandwich/wrap/burger place close to campus. After a quick dinner, we headed to the Hearnes Center at 7pm.  FOUR HOURS LATER I left.  Here is a picture of me: (and please forgive the quality of these photos.  Iphones: they're convenient but there not professional quality).

Just kidding.  Look closer

Still kidding.  This is my mom's view.  Here's from my view

Yes, that's me.  You can tell now that one of those little blue hoods in the other pics was me.  Next to me is my friend Jonathan.  We started the program together and met on interview day a little more than two years ago.  We shared several classes, tons of comments, papers, beverages and conversations.  It is only fitting that we got to end our journey to our masters' degrees together.  Jonathan is a little crazier than me and decided to continue on, without stopping, to a PhD.  I wish him the best and promise to be there as the non-stressed, non-school person when he needs it.

The ceremony was for all masters, PhD, and EdD candidates, so it was a long one.  Children fell asleep, students stored snacks in their sleeves to make it through, and a few moms with cameras passed out due to exhaustion.  Just kidding.  Well, except about the kids.  A few highlights (and lowlights):

--they thanked all the moms.  The moms. At a grad ceremony where the average student age was probably 30 and a lot of people are married/ partnered.  I think that says a lot about our culture.
--They gave away 3 honorary degrees.  It was two too many.  And three too many speeches
--Each one of us on the floor was on facebook or twitter on our phones all night.  So much has changed since undergrad.
--I really did keep my cell phone (and lip gloss because I am, after all, a lady) in the long sleeve of my gown while I went on stage
--Several people cheered their loved ones on with cowbells and air horns.  Not to be outdone, my dad downloaded this beaut
Yes friends, that is a cowbell app.  How special.

In the end, I did graduate.  Here's me with the other masters in higher education students.

And my favorite photo, here's the man who put up with all the long nights, whining, and tears.

I crashed around 11 and woke up early for a great shin-dig on Saturday, hosted by my Mom (ok, maybe we should have all thanked them) and attended by friends and family.  What party is complete without a cake...

And here are some friends and fam at the party

 Yes, it was a joyous and wonderful weekend.  And it's back to reality.

If you're wanting to give me a graduation gift, don't forget you can still get a piece of our adoption puzzle by clicking on the ChipIn link.

Thanks to everyone who has loved on me and supported me in the past two years.

Here's to graduation!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Puzzle Fundraiser

**Update: Thanks if you're visiting from Kelly's Korner. To read more about our adoption, you can click the "adoption" tab below our header. Thanks for opening our hearts to our family and our little man!**

Please welcome our guest poster--the Hubs himself--Eric

Greetings all!  As you can tell from the title we are starting our Bring Home Baby Puzzle Fundraiser.  I know what you’re thinking, ‘Puzzle Fundraiser!? What does it mean and how can I get involved!?’

We chose a puzzle (Klimt’s Tree of Life) and are requesting a donation of $10 for each piece. We'll print your name on the back of your piece (you can come sign it yourself if you live close), assemble and frame the puzzle in a doubl- sided frame, and hang it in Baby's room.

Why this Fundraiser?

Jess has always liked puzzles, been drawn to them, is good with them, and can play with them for hours.  I believe puzzles to be one of the most time consuming and frustratingly tedious acts on the face of the earth.  My view of puzzles being the adoption process and her view being the joy and excitement we have for Baby, this seemed like a metaphorically accurate fundraiser.  ☺

The old proverb says it takes a village to raise a child.  We also believe sometimes it takes a village to bring a child home.  This puzzle will serve as a daily reminder to us of the many people it has taken to bring him home, and will be his to keep and show his children / grandchildren.

So how exactly can you make a donation?  On the side of Jess's blog, you'll see a widget called "ChipIn."  This widget is connected directly to our PayPal account.  We suggest a donation of $10 for a piece, but feel free to donate as you wish.  You can purchase more than one piece or you can give a larger donation and request only one piece.  If you feel more comfortable donating in cash or check, send me a comment or contact me directly and we'll work something out. We'll try to give updates as the pieces of the puzzle come together.

Please feel free to pass this link on to others who may be interested.  We want this to be a true "village" with all invited to share.

This is our first blog fundraiser but will not be our last.  We know this journey to our son is a long one and we have many miles to go (literally) and many dollars to raise before we are joined.

Thank you for your prayers and support on this journey.

Eric (and Jess)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Highs and the Lows

So first, the highs:

The final paper is in!  Tomorrow, I will walk across a stage with my cap and gown and blue hood that matches my eyes.

(Because that's how you pick a grad program, after all.  What color is the hood? Does it look good with my eyes?)

It's been two years but it feels a little longer. I've had tons of support through the Hubs, family, and friends.  And in this last week, it went quickly.  I presented on administration on Monday to rave reviews (no really! My professor really liked it!) and busted it all night Tuesday night to turn in my development theory paper on Wednesday morning at 7am. And by all night, I mean I went to bed at midnight.  Because, I am a little older and a little wiser than my first degree and I realize anything done after midnight will probably need to be redone in the light of day for it to make any sense to anyone other people who are sleep deprived and awake at 2am.  Anyway, the paper was turned in TEN full hours early and I had a delightful time at work.

So how did I celebrate?  The way every other college grad does, of course! I went and got fat free frozen yogurt with my hubs and puppy and walked around campus.  Then, we went home, watched TV, did several loads of laundry that should have been done weeks ago, and I promptly fell asleep at the chime of nine pm.  .  Told you I was getting old.  Nonetheless, it was nice to know that I had no work hanging over my head and I could fall asleep whenever I darn well pleased.

Hubs says he gives me three years tops til I'm begging to do another degree.  We'll see.  The person who got nine hours of sleep last night may have something to say about that.

So now, the lows:

We received an email yesterday from our adoption agency.  Ethiopia has been saying they will make some major changes to slow down the process for a few months now.  It's been concerning but there has been no indication that the proposed changes were really going to go into effect.  Until yesterday.  AWAA (our agency) said they really have seen MOWCYA (the people in charge of writing referrals for the adoptive parents to the Ethiopian government) slow down to writing 5 referral letters a day.  That's a major slow down.

So, what does it all mean? Well, we still don't exactly know but at this point, it looks like adoptions will slow down.  Children will not be able to make it to their forever families in quite the timely fashion they were once doing so.  The goal of MOWCYA is to ensure transparency  for adoption.  We all want that, too.  But not at the expense of the children. The courts don't seem to support MOWCYAs imposed slow down but no one knows at this time exactly how this all will be handled.  Please say a prayer for the state of all of this.  That children will be united with their forever families in a timely fashion. That families (including ours) will learn patience, trust, and the peace of God through all of this.  And that the government in Ethiopia will be able to help their children and have their hearts turned to ensure the safest and fastest routes to families.

Life is all about the ups and the downs.  We take comfort in the fact that HE is faithful.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

So Close to That Degree...

Ten pages.  All that stands between me and the podium on Friday night is ten pages.  Ten pages I haven't started that are due tomorrow.

See you in ten pages...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

One Down, Many to Go (and a mothers day update)

Well, we can officially say we have begun fundraising!  We were up at the crack of six this morning to move the bags and boxes of things people had given us over to our friends' house for our yard sale.  First things first--I have never had a yard sale before.  I didn't know what to expect.  So, when I rolled in at 7 and we'd already had one customer, I was slightly surprised.  Ultimately, we had traffic that ebbed and flowed all morning but we have LOTS of stuff left and hope to do another sale again later this summer.  Thanks to everyone who contributed items (and a special thanks to Ash and Pete, who gave us a hefty donation of their own) we made a little over $250.  For our first fundraiser, we are happy clams:).  It will go straight into the savings, waiting to be used on our international documents, the next big cost on the path.  We're so honored to have such great friends who love us (and our little one) so much.

Speaking of great friends, I received an unexpected blessing of a different sort from another dear friend yesterday in the mail: my first mothers day card.  Exhibit A:

Rarely have I seen a greeting card so beautiful.  Friends, adoption is kind of a hard thing sometimes.  I mean, yes, at the end of this, God-willing, I will be a mother.  Yet, unlike moms who get that way by being pregnant, there's not a lot to remind me each day of the path to motherhood.  Sure, I have paperwork.  Lots and lots of paperwork.  But it kind of feels like it's just a part of my job.  It's hard to tie it on a daily basis to an actual person who will join our family.  So, to get such a sweet reminder that I will, in fact, be a mom and I am at this moment a mom-to-be is really more than I could handle.  Yes, you guessed it--the tears.  They came.  I am a crier.  We're all cool with that by now (I hope).  I was just overpowered by the thoughtfulness of sweet Jenna who decided to remind me of how she loves me and how lucky I am to be on the road to motherhood, even if my road is filled with files.

For my own mother, I took a less-traditional route this year.  Amanda wrote a lovely post the other day about As Our Own, an amazing organization that helps free children who are born into sex slavery in India.  So, I decided instead of flowers, my mom could help someone's child for Mothers Day.  They even have a certificate you can print out to give to your mom.  So, if you are a last-minute shopper, head over to As Our Own and make a difference.  Your mom will be proud.

I want to leave you with the sweet words Jenna wrote inside my first Mothers Day card:

"We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light"  

Colossians 1:9-12

Happy Mothers Day to each and every mother and mother-to-be out there!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Waves of Activity

For the longest time (and by longest time I mean about 2-3 weeks) I felt like nothing was happening in our paperchase.  We knew what needed to get done, but some of it is out of our control.  Financial paperwork? At a standstill because of the new job and the required extension on taxes.  Medical Paperwork? At a standstill because *shocker* it's impossible to get in to see a doc on a timely basis in this town.  Fundraising? At a standstill because of my school and some background stuff.


This week, we've had several key pieces fall into place.  God is faithful, even when I think things aren't moving. Here's the update:

 I was unable to attend our small group meeting this week because of illness. When I started feeling better, I got on Facebook and realized our small group had decided to have a garage sale for us to help get the Babe here.  I was rushed with emotion! Then, I posted on Facebook for extra goods to sell and friends, you came out of the woodwork! Thanks to everyone who has donated.  We are excited to see what happens tomorrow.

Our social worker emailed and said all of our references and our guardianship letter had been turned in.  Our dossier letters are one away, as well.  This is great news and means we are a couple steps closer!

I had my physical on Tuesday.  Let me tell you, this is kind of intense.  I had blood drawn and they checked for a lot of diseases.  A lot.  Mind you, I did not even consider the fact I might have had any of these things prior to having the blood drawn.  And then suddenly, my mind got a little worried--what if something came up I never knew about!? Luckily, I got all the bloodwork/TB test/ urinalysis back and all is well with my body.  Not that I had a worry before.  But it's still good to know.  Hubs has his physical scheduled as well.  It's still several weeks away.  Everything is in baby steps in this process.  Ironic.

I mentioned earlier we'd had a delay with our fundraising.  We were trying to set up a support account to receive tax deductible donations.  There were some complications and we'd almost given up on getting an account until after we finished our home study.  Considering we still probably have a few months left on that step, I was trying to be patient.  Yesterday, I had a scheduled lunch with one of the financial employees at our church.  I knew it was going to be a fun lunch; after all, Tanya is a fun lady.  But as she sat down after ordering, she made it more fun than I could have imagined--the church had set up our account for us months before we thought it would be possible.  What a blessing and relief!!

So, that's where we are friends.  Are we close to being done? Nope.  We probably won't be done with paperwork for several more months.  But we're closer.  Baby steps.  That's what it takes.

We're looking forward to our garage sale tomorrow.  If you need the deets, comment and I'll be happy to share.  As promised, we will also have another support-raiser on the blog within the week.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

End of School and Beginning of Fundraising!

I am down to officially one week of school before you can officially call me Master.  OK, don't call me master.  But, I will officially have a master's degree in higher education administration and I can't wait!!

As you might have noticed, the last month has been filled with school work but as soon as I have turned in that last paper, so much more of my attention will be focused on getting our Babe into our arms!

I have tons to post but not much time so some will have to wait for another day.  I did, however, want to excitedly share our first fundraiser! We will be doing a fundraiser with our small group.  Some of our dear friends from small group (found at amazinginthislife.blogspot.com) asked if they could donate their garage sale this weekend to our little person and we couldn't be more  honored!  So, we are rallying the troops in hopes to help with the funding of our Little Blessing.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

In other news, I hope to have our first bloggy fundraiser up and running next week at the latest.  Can't wait to share.

I'm off...