Sunday, October 30, 2011

Raising Funds and Raising Hope

Yesterday was our final garage sale of the summer.  And yes, I know it's not summer. But you get it.  Until we can no longer see our breath while setting up, we are going to take a garage sale hiatus.  Anywho, we are so blessed with friends who have given generously by way of donations.  It was to the point where I was unable to park in my side of the garage.  We knew the temps were decreasing and we decided this weekend would be the best time to try and do a final clean out and allow me back in my parking space.  And, of course, there was an away game this weekend. Plus, we are ready to submit our dossier and are down to just a little more money before we can submit. So, we went for it. We knew the weather could make it a gamble but it was a risk we were willing to take.

I don't know if I have shared much about the fact that there are a couple other families adopting from ET in our church who are ahead of us in the process.  They are great friends and full of knowledge.  Being the fundraising gurus they are, I asked their opinion and both ladies (we'll call them the Adoption Fairies) really thought I should do a two-day sale.  I went to ask for the day off and realized I was already booked for appointments most of the morning.  So, I went back to the ladies with the bad news that the only option was for a Saturday-only sale. A bit of a bummer, I know, but it was my only option.  That's when the Adoption Fairies, as we will call them, told me they had already agreed to run the sale on their own on Friday--with or without me.  Friends, what a blessing. I couldn't believe it.

So we prepped and laid things out and I started the sale. On Friday, the AF showed up and I ran to work. These AF are pros! They brought extra signage, extra bags, and they even have sale-increasing strategies.  I was sad to head to work but knew I was leaving the sale in good hands.  We cheered in my kitchen when I got home from work and celebrated our one day total.  The AF said they would come back for Saturday and we'd push for an even better Saturday.

Friday night we planned to make cupcakes but there was this thing called the World Series that took all my attention.  Yeah, the Cards won. And while I don't really care, it's still kind of fun. Plus, my mom and grandma would probably disown me if I didn't at least show some excitement.  Specifically, my grandma may have disowned me.  She did, after all, call me at 11:30 that night to see if I'd watched.So, I ended up waking up early on Saturday to finish making our cupcakes.  Back to the action...

Saturday the AF came and we enjoyed each others' company. It was, potentially, the coldest garage sale I have ever seen.  We had Snuggies.

And hot chocolate.

And a few people come to visit.  OK more than a few, but much fewer than the last sale we had.  I wasn't deterred--I knew any funds were more than we had the day before.  There was an estate sale going on two blocks down so we kept our sale open late to benefit from the traffic. At two we finally closed down and after some extreme rearranging, we were able to put the car in the garage.

I love to do the money counting, so as Hubs was still finishing the cleaning up process, I busted open the money bag and started to count.  Friends, this is where the story gets intense. Because as I started to count, I realized we had some sort of fishes and loaves story going on.  I kept sorting and counting and sorting and counting and my jaw hit the table. The more I counted, the more confused/ astounded I got. In fact, I think I started giggling. Hubs came over and together, we realized there had to be more to this story. Yes, the AF had earned their name.  Someone had snuck money into our bag without us knowing. And at the end of the day, we raised more than $800.  Friends, WHAT A BLESSING.  We have known the money would show up so we could submit our dossier soon but we just didn't know how.  I am here to tell you God answers prayers. We don't have a grand total of how much money we have in our possession but it's got to be close.  I called my AF friends and cried tears of joy and of complete humility.  How beautiful.

And do you know what? This is not the first time we've had a sale where money magically ended up in our possession that we didn't earn (you know who you are).  Yes, our friends are true blessing in this process.

I left the day feeling completely overwhelmed by God's faithfulness and by how blessed we have been with friends who love us.  Hubs and I shared lunch and gave sincere prayers for the blessings of the day.  As I told the AF, we knew we would be getting a child through this process.  We had no idea we would also be getting friends.

We can't wait to have our son here. We also can't wait to pay it forward and help families like ours on their journey. We've got a long way to go but we are one big step closer yesterday.  I am hoping that celebratory blog post when we submit that dossier soon. And neither of us have been delusional enough for even a second do believe we've done any of this on our own.

He is faithful. And he works through people who listen to his call.  We see it all the time.

We are blessed.

Here's a fun one to end on. I will hopefully post tomorrow about our seasonal fun. But if you don't hear from me, have a Happy and safe Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Little Man Monday

Hello Sweet Little Man,

How are you? I am praying, if you are here, you are well-loved.  This week we got the permission slip to come get you and Little Man, we are so excited.  We are waiting for a few things but will hopefully be in the official waiting line for you very, very soon.

Little IC, I have been so tired today and people keep telling me I will be so much more tired when you are here to wear me out. I have no doubt you will keep me going but I also know it will be worth every tired second!  I hear the "mom" tired is a whole different tired than anything I've ever experienced. Lucky for me (and you) the mom love is supposed to be pretty awesomely unique as well.

We got the art framed for your room this weekend. I will have to post it soon.  I can't wait until your room looks like it actually belongs to you.  One piece at a time, we are turning it into a place just for you.

Tonight, we are having a great night at home tonight relaxing, watching TV, and maybe even baking cupcakes. I look forward to the day you are here on these fun nights. You can lick the mixing spoon, just like I got to when I was a little one.  Once you are old enough, of course:).

Little man, you have our hearts.  This week went by so fast and we pray the time passes quickly until you are here.  We love you!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Letters and Numbers that Mean a Lot

 **Update, if you haven't figured it out, I should have sent you HERE when I linked to the article

This week we were house sitting for some friend. I would have told you all earlier but there's the whole deal of leaving your house unoccupied and then telling the whole bloggy world about it that just doesn't sit well with me.  So, you're hearing about it now. It's relevant, I promise.  Since we've not been at our home I've been popping by each day to grab our mail.  I knew it was a long shot for the Department of Homeland Security to get back to us so quickly (it's only been a week since we were fingerprinted) but a girl can hope, right? Well, so yesterday, I pulled up and rolled down my window to grab the mail.  There was only one letter in there.  If you are dying of curiosity, I will just tell you--it was THE letter.  That's right, people.  We got our approval! The I-171H if you will, or what I call the permission slip.  It took me a minute to realize that's what it was because it doesn't say it across the top. The part that says it's the I-171H is teeny tiny in the bottom right corner.  When I finally saw it, I was so excited.  What to do?

I called Hubs. No answer.

I called Mom.  No answer.

I was resigned to keep this news to myself so I did what any blog-loving, tech-obsessed woman would do... I took a picture of myself with the letter in my car.

You may ask why I have that weird look on my face. You may ask but I cannot tell you. This is what happens when I take blurry pictures of myself I guess.  Please forgive the look.  And the blurriness.  I just needed photographic evidence of that final document.

Then I got home and took a pic to send to my family--here's one of the pages in the letter. The US is really clearing us to go get a child! Wahoo!!

So, you may ask yourself what's next?  Well we are waiting on a little bit of money that should be on its way but as soon as we see it, we mail this puppy (along with 45 other pages--I counted) to our agency. They review it, re-review it, translate it (shocker--Ethiopia's official language isn't English!! OK, not a shocker) and then send it over to sit in the waiting line. And we wait. For about 2 years at this point.

If you are a praying person, please pray the money will come through quickly on this.  And in case you're wondering, nope, this is not even close to the end of the funds we will need.  We will be hosting a garage sale next weekend and the fundraising should get even more intense from there. We will still need to raise close to $20,000 after we turn in this dossier.  We have faith it will all happen in due time.

One would think this document would make me giddy with glee.  One would be partially right. But in the spirit of being transparent, this has lit up all kinds of feelings inside me. Yes, we are so ready to get this paperwork off and will hopefully do it soon.  When we do, though, that's pretty much the last time to change anything on it without major complications and/or money.  So, now I am rethinking everything.  Please pray for clear direction and for God to settle my heart.

Adoption is hard for everyone involved.  Please hear me loud and clear when I say this: we want to adopt. And so, we believe adoption is a good thing.  But it's also a solution to an awful situation.  It's also ethically rocky ground in so many ways. And I don't know if we will ever feel a beautiful sense of resolution in all of this.  We have researched our agency, talked to others, prayed about the child we are about to request, and done quite a bit of reading. But still, in general, so many feelings are tugging at me.

And this article (that I nabbbed from Rage Against the Minivan) didn't help.  You should read it. It is awesome.  So insightful.  But it's also hard.  There's a lot that goes into this.

Right now we are praying about whether to expand our request.  We have already agreed to many special needs. We are considering more. We have thought 0-18 months. We are considering older.  Please, please join us in these prayers that the Lord will give us a clear path and a sense of peace when we submit our dossier (I feel you need to know that I accidentally wrote "a sense of peach" at first.  I don't know that I need that).  And if God speaks to your heart on our behalf, PLEASE don't you hesitate to tell me ASAP.  We could use all the Godly wisdom possible on this.

Thank you for following our journey. It's far from over friends. It won't be over this side of heaven. We're blessed to have friends and family (and bloggy friends) who love us through this.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Came Home, But I Didn't Really Have Far to Go

Last Friday, my adoption family coordinator asked me to send some documents to her.  My response might have surprised her a little: "Um, I will definitely get on that but it's my college's 100th homecoming so it's just going to have to wait til Monday."  I am sure she doesn't get that often.  But seriously, people.  If there's anything I take seriously it's homecoming. I love it!!

The fight song on repeat.

The football.

The droves of people coming back with fond memories of their four (or five, or six, or ...) years here. 

The smell of a grill wafting near the stadium. 

The bug eyed kids waiting for candy and sparkly floats.

The house decs. Oh the house decs. 

And, of course, my personal friends and family.  It all intoxicates me.  I have to take a step back.  It's just too fun.

Here's the problem, though. The anticipation gets the best of me. I am well intentioned when I tell about 50 different people, "I'll see you there!" And when I RSVP  "yes" to fifteen different get-togethers in a 24 hour span, I mean it.  But it just can't happen that way.  Too much.  Too fast. 

So instead, I ended up spending this homecoming like so many others before it: having three minute conversations with people as fast as I can and then RUNNING to the next place to see more people.  I caught half the game--it was the half that mattered. We were too far ahead not to win at that point.  I missed as many events as I made.  I missed as many people as I saw.  One woman just cannot see all of homecoming.  But I did see quite a bit.  I held a brand new, three-month old tiger named Little E.  I got to feed him a bottle at a tailgate and if that's not what homecoming is about, I don't know what is. I caught up with friends from Chicago, Minneapolis, LA, New York, and other exotic locales--and saw some who live right here in the state.  Here is what I didn't do: take any pictures.

So, thank you Melissa and Hubs for donating your pictures to my cause.  Here was my fast and furious weekend.

I can't wait to do it again next year. And maybe someday I'll learn to commit to a few less people/ events.  Probably not.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Little Man...Not So Monday

Hello Little IC,

Wow! What a week we had last week! We got our fingerprints taken so we are just one measly step away from being on a waiting list for you.  We may be waiting quite a while but we know you will be ours when the timing is right and no sooner. 

Last weekend was also homecoming for my college.  Homecoming is a big deal here--we have big parades, a great football game, neat moving decorations at the sorority and fraternity houses, and kettle corn--one of the best sugary treats around. I can't wait to have you try it. Although, I hear that Ethiopian kiddos aren't always big into sweets.  We shall see, Little Man, we shall see.  Anyway, so many things reminded me of you: the cuties running around at the parade, the little tiger hats I saw on kiddos at the quad.  I got to hold my friend's baby and depending on how old you are and when you get here, you and Little E may be around the same age.  But it kills me to think about how I am not holding you now, if you are around.  So let's talk of happy things instead, shall we?

As fun of a time as we had at this homecoming and as big as the celebration may be, it will be nothing compared to the celebration I have in my heart (and my house) when we go to get you and celebrate your Homecoming.  Kid, you are not ready for how pumped we are to be  your parents.  The plans and the hopes and the prayers--two years could be a long time but it just gives us more time to dream.  And prepare. And read lots of books.

We love you, IC. I can't wait. But I can.  Praying for for your health and safety and the health and safety of your birth family.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Put Your Hands Up Where I Can See Them

**Alternately titled "Our Trip to Be Fingerprinted"**

Well, in between preparations for homecoming and regular everyday work we managed to squeeze in a trip to St. Louis on Wednesday. In case you are thinking it's because we are cool enough to see the Cards game, you are mistaken.

We are not that cool.

We also don't like baseball all that much.

Instead, we were at our appointment with homeland security.  You know, everyday stuff.  But really, to adopt internationally you are required to get "biometrics" taken by the Department of Homeland Security.  "Biometrics" also mean "fancy fingerprinting."  The way it works is you mail in your request, they mail you back a confirmation that they received your request. They then review your application and mail you a date/time to get your prints taken electronically.  Ours happened to be Wednesday at 10am. Being the flexible people the government are known to be, we didn't mess with them and gladly took the appointment we were given.  We made plans, took the day off, and headed to the federal building.

I must tell you that driving in cities is pretty much Hubs'  least favorite thing to do. So after twenty minutes of driving around closed roads and one-way streets we found the building--only to find the only option for parking was $15. Considering we would only be there a handful of minutes and didn't really want to pay a dollar a minute, we kept driving.  Ten minutes later, we finally found a spot.  If by a spot you mean, of course, parking right behind a car that had parked too close to the car in front of it.  So this "spot" was not in the yellow but it also wasn't technically metered. Or a spot.  We went for it anyway.

The moral of this story: be rich or go to your fingerprinting appointment with a little extra time.

Just sayin.

So, we get there and go through security and get right in to the quiet office. No wonder they are appointment here--they like their life of silence and sterility.  They called us back about three minutes later and began the diligent process of scanning each of our fingers on their magical computer. They do them individually, together, the whole hand.  And this isn't your grandma's fingerprinting center. Unless your grandma recently got a green card.  I digress. What I am trying to say is they don't do it with ink: it's all electronically captured.  Well not all.

Some people are naturally talented at giving their fingerprints to people they just met.  Take my husband, for example.  Three minutes later, all his fingers had done their duty and he was back in the lobby. Some people's fingers aren't "ideal" for fingerprinting--they are small and the ridges aren't so ridge-like. This would be my fingers.  After minutes and minutes of scratching my pinky with a credit card to try to get my ridges to appear, the nice DHS employee finally decided to go old school and print me with ink.  In his words, "you are going to get the full experience today." So here's hoping between the ink and the computer they can figure out that I am who I say I am and my record is fine.  Here's hoping. Another trip is not really in my immediate plans.

When they finally finished my fingers, we walked out, crossed our fingers that our car didn't have a ticket (it didn't!!) and headed to lunch.  If you believe in coincidence (which I don't) you would say it was quite the coincidence that my mom happened to be in the same city with us for a work gig.  So, we met up for lunch at one of E's favorite spots and then headed to another of E's favorite spots, the Laumeier Sculpture park for some good photo time. And good couple time.  If you haven't ever been there, it's worth a few hours of your afternoon.  A park...with art.  Built in.  Cool, I say.  Here are some of the fun photos we took.

It was a pretty great day overall. We headed to 4th graders from there and enjoyed them as always.  If you are wondering, the next step is to wait for our "permission slip" aka the I-171H. Then we mail that, along with everything else, to our agency. And they mail it to Ethiopia. We are so close to ending our paper pregnancy, but no where close to ending our journey.

I'd love to stay and chat but if  you'll excuse me, it's the centennial homecoming at my school. You know, the birthplace of homecoming.  Have a great weekend and Happy Homecoming to all my Tigers!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Little Man Monday

Well Hello, Sweet IC,

This week I've thought about you so much.  It's been a week full of emotion and it seems like you sneak your way into every major event of our week.  Part of that is because so many people ask about you--our friends are already ready to be your friends and we are pretty thrilled they love you so much even before you're here (or maybe even born).

We went to a fundraiser this weekend for our friends the Myers' adoption. Their little girl Elise should be making her way home within the next few months. It's hard to look at their pictures and not get emotional and think of when we'll meet you--when you'll drool on my t-shirt or cry into your daddy's shoulder.  Watching her figure out who her parents are makes me so so nervous and excited for the time when we get to fall in love with each other.  I am also super pumped for you to meet Elise. It's so neat God has put together several families whose kids will all be from the same country. I am hoping you and Elise will be buddies and grow up together.

It's hard for me to know you're still possibly two years away from being ours. I really want to paint your room and buy you clothes.  The closer we get to finishing your paperwork, the more I want to "nest" for your arrival.  I don't think it will be too long before I have to give in and start refinishing your changing table.  At least it will keep me busy!

This week is Mizzou's homecoming.  We'll stay busy entertaining company, watching great football (hopefully), and reuniting with friends.  You'll be here for a homecoming in not too long. And if I have anything to do with it, in a couple of decades you may be going to a Mizzou homecoming of your own as an alum.  No pressure.  Just don't be a jayhawk:).

Love you, Little IC.  So Much.  You're in our hearts and prayers.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Doing Life

This week was busy--in the way that regularly scheduled life happened and other events happened and together it made the week fly by.  If there's any day that exemplified this, it was Wednesday.

Wednesday was rough.  Wednesday, we "did life" in the fullest sense of the word.  My mom was in town the night before and we shared a delightful dinner and crashed. Mom was in town to teach my class. It had been planned for months that she would come in and speak to my students about how to become a nurse and how to get hired as one once you get a degree.  If you believe in coincidence (which I do not) you would say it was quite the coincidence that of all the days I ended up needing to miss class, it was the one my mom "just so happened" to be scheduled to teach my class.  Since June.  So yeah, nice coincidence.  Or divine providence.

Anyway, I found out last weekend a dear friend of mine lost her mom to her battle with cancer.  She's the kind of friend you always feel is on your side and would do anything for you. And friend, she has done so many things for us (including being a huge support in our adoption). So it was an immediate response from both the hubs and myself that we would go to the funeral.  And since the only thing keeping me in town was my class and it was already covered, we solidified the plan: we would take a carload and head south.

For me, doing life is that mix of knowing that one days is never all happy or all sad.  Friends, hear me when I say Wednesday was such a sad day.  We celebrated the life of a wonderful, God-fearing woman. In full disclosure I have only met this woman twice. But I feel fully confident she was who I believe she was because I know the character of her daughter.  You cannot raise a woman with such conviction, such commitment to friendship and family, and such a fun, spirited personality if you don't have a bit of all of it in you.  And so we celebrated the relationship between mother and daughter that day. And grieved the awful disease that is cancer. And prayed for that day when the earth is restored and we can be the beings God intended us to be--without pain, sin, or destruction.  It was a funeral where the gospel was front and center and that was refreshing.

But when we left, we went from sad to remembering the joys of friendship.  We piled (five of us) back in our car at noon and decided we should find some sustenance before we headed back. Our choice: Lamberts: the home of the throwed roll. In fact, as I am trying to link to their site, I feel it is my duty to tell you it is  I had never been there, but it is kind of a staple of the community down south.  They have giant portions and, yes, they throw rolls at your head.  Well, they would probably say at your hands.  But I am not a catcher, so it feels to me like they are being thrown at your head.  I had Hubs catch two but the friends at our table felt it was my duty to try and catch one on my own so they all started pointed at me until the kid at the roll cart started making the throwing motion toward me and I held my hands out and closed my eyes.  And missed.  But it landed on the table.  As he went to the next part of the restaurant, Roll Kid passed by and said "great job." Um, thanks, Roll Kid. I am really good at not catching things. And eating rolls.  We ate and laughed until we really couldn't do either any more. Then we piled back in the car and headed home.

We reached home in time for us to catch the shortest nap in history and head to church.  Funny thing--fourth graders don't care what the rest of your day looked like or how mentally exhausted you are.  They really want you to be fully committed to them.  And you know what? It was the best thing that could have happened to me.  Friends, those fourth graders I was so nervous to teach? They came back!! They not only came back--they came back remembering what we learned last week!!  They told me of the trinity and how John the Baptist baptized Jesus.  And I swelled at knowing that God knew what he was doing after all.  Just kidding. Sort of.  We spent two hours together, playing with sidewalk chalk, reading through Mark 2, and sharing the most honest and heartfelt prayer requests I've ever heard.  Their transparency amazes me.

And then I went home and crashed into the hard sleep of a person who lived a day to its fullest point.  Wednesday was tough. But it was food for my soul.  God reminded me that each stage is what it is.  And as long as we are on this earth, we will have pain.  And death.  And laughter. And friendship. And things to learn. And things to teach.  And life to live.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven."

I am so blessed to do life with so many beautiful people.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Little Man Monday

Good evening Little Man,

It's late and I am tired. It's been a long day at work, the kind of day I will be reluctant to put in when you arrive.  And after that, we got to go share a social with others who have or are adopting from Ethiopia.  It's so cool to talk to them and I imagine in years to come when we sit around the kitchen table, you will be running around with the other kids, being louder than we want you to.  I look forward to that day--when the ring on my cupcake will be taken by you instead of one of the other kiddos.

Little Man, I am so excited to turn in the paperwork that will lead us closer to you.  Next week is the fingerprinting and then we are pretty much there.  How fun to send away the document that will eventually lead us to bring you home.

I'm the kind of tired that makes it hard to write, but please know that it's not because I am not thinking about you.  In fact, as I walked down the sidewalks of our town today I thought of how you and I will enjoy fall together soon.  Even if it's three falls from now, it will be soon.  I can't wait til Dad and I hold your hands and swing you down the sidewalk, just like my mom and dad used to do with me when I was a kid.

I love you, Little IC. I promise to share more next week.  I am praying that you are safe and know that you are loved.