Cole, Alex, & Anna Grace

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our Escaping Pets!

Okay. One would think that I might be talking about one of our two dogs or our cat, but I am talking about Cole's fish and Alex's hamster. First, Cole has this little minnow that we caught down at the neighborhood lake last spring. He has been keeping Fishstick (who my Aunt Betty-Jo claims is a female fish) in a vase on his dresser ever since then. I had no idea that she would live this long. I was changing the water the other day and Fishstick jumped out and slid down the drain of the kitchen sink! Mike quickly started taking apart the pipes under the sink. However, Fishstick was not in the pipe. I used a flashlight to look down the drain from the top, and she was stuck on a little tiny ledge just below the drain in the sink. We ran some water through the drain, and we were able to get her back safely in her vase.
Alex's escaping hamster is another story. Leia has a really cool cage with lots of tubes that disassemble for easy cleaning. But she has figured out how to detach the plastic lid and open the wire door, and she likes to escape nightly. The thing is that she will manage to disassemble her cage, spend the night running around, and then return to her cage by morning with a collection of little "treasures" that she has found. Unfortunately, some of these little "treasures" that she has collected have been the buckles to Alex's L.L. Bean monogrammed book bag (not cheap). My mom suggested that we put her cage in the bathtub so that she would be stuck in a closed in area if she escaped again. So we did that for several nights, but then she made a jump from the cage to the faucet and managed to turn on the water! When Mike went to wake the boys up for school, he found Leia back in top nest of her cage asleep with over an inch of water in the tub and a steady drip of water coming out of the faucet. We finally decided that the hamster was going to have to get a new cage. My mom helped us out by purchasing a new glass cage with a latching lid that does not have all of the tubes and detachable features. Leia is very bored, but we try to get her out every day for a run in her ball.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our Labor Day Weekend Camping Trip

We spent the weekend camping in the mountains in our pop-up. The campground had a lot of activities for the kids including a water slide, fishing, a jumping pillow, and lots of places to ride bikes. However, the camp sites were extremely close together and the place was crawling with people. When we first arrived, we quickly found that if we opened our camper, it was going to actually touch the camper in the site behind us!! The people in the office were nice enough to let us move over one site. Our closest neighbors for the weekend had 3 boys, so our boys made instant friends. We had planned to go tubing down the river, but it drizzled rain most of the day on Sunday, and it never seemed warm enough to get into the middle of a cold river. Mike and the boys spent most of Sunday trying to catch the huge trout that were stocked in one of the campground lakes. In fact, Mike caught one fish Sunday morning before the rest of us even woke up. Later in the day, there were several groups around the lake who were catching whole stringers full of fish while other groups of fishermen (like my little fishermen) could not even get a bite. Mike even switched over to several different types of bait, but nothing worked. Still, we had a great weekend. Now, we are home, and the camper and car are cleaned out, and we are busy trying play catch-up with getting ready to start the week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Wait...

Our agency has matched 10 more special needs children to families this week! Slowly but surely, we are inching closer to the top of the list to get our referral.
As I was out walking tonight, I reflected on the time that we have waited so far. Mike and I have talked about adopting a child even before we were married. We did not know if we would do a domestic adoption and an international adoption, but we knew that we wanted to give a home to a child that needed one. Cole and Alex were born, and we still felt that our family was not complete.
It was November of 2007 when I started to feel an extremely strong pull towards adopting a child from China. Mike was worried that the boys were too young to bring in another child, but we discovered that after all of the paperwork was complete, we would still have a year or two to wait. I just had this urgent feeling that we needed to get our paperwork gathered (it is a very long, tedious process) and off to China. We really felt that God was telling us that we had a daughter in China. It took us until April of 2007 to get all of our paperwork sent off to China and then the real wait began.
However, in the fall of 2007 I kept having this nagging feeling that something was wrong. I kept feeling like we missed something or that God was trying to tell me something. We talked about the special needs program and even ordered the packet of special needs paperwork from our agency. I remember one day at work feeling really sad with this feeling that our daughter was sick or had some kind of health problem. When the special needs packet arrived, Mike and I carefully read over all of the special needs that we might consider, but every single one of them scared the heck out of us. We talked about the possibility of a heart condition, but we got too scared and filed the papers away in the adoption box in the closet.
Fast forward to April of 2008. I was sitting at the computer on the last day of my spring break. We were just about to hit our 1 year anniversary of officially waiting for our daughter, and I kept coming across blogs and websites with little Chinese girls with heart defects. Every single picture of every single little girl seemed to feel like it was my daughter looking back at me. I called Mike at work and said we needed to talk. I remember he asked if we could talk when he got home and I said, "No, we need to talk now!" We talked for a little while and by the time he got home from work he was also convinced that our daughter has a heart condition. We finally made the decision to talk to our doctors and our social worker and then turn in our medical checklist to officially enter the waiting child program. I remember feeling the same sense of relief that I felt when we made the decision to go forward with the adoption. It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders that we were back on the right path.
Now, as we edge closer and closer to getting our referral, we pray that God will give us the wisdom to know when we get our referral that it is the right referral for us. We do not want to take on more than we can handle. We pray that the doctors will give us the right information and that the decision to accept the referral will come easily.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First Day of School

Sorry it has been so long since I last posted. Now that school is back in and I am working every day, our lives are so much more hectic! Cole and Alex started a new school this year due to re-zoning in our county. They like their teachers and new classrooms. Unfortunately, neither one of them knew any of the kids in their classes, but they make friends easily. My students this year are really sweet, but it is a big group. I am already worried about leaving my students when we are traveling and I am at home with the baby for a while. Today we have cousins coming in from out of state. We are planning to take all of the kids to the pool. I guess I need to starting getting ready!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Progress in Anna Grace's Room

We finally have carpet in the baby's room!! Over the last 6 months or so, Mike has worked on painting the room a pretty green color. The ceiling is a really pale pink that matches the duvet-cover. We have a white chandelier hanging from the pink ceiling, and Mike also painted cherry trees in bloom on two walls. The furniture is my antique bedroom set from when I was a little girl. So far, the room has two fabrics. One is a print of an Asian garden in bloom with cherry trees. It has little girls dressed in traditional Asian clothing. The other print is a pink and green stripe that is on the bed skirt and curtains. We are planning to add a crib or toddler bed to the room later if we find out that she is too small for a big-girl bed.

We still have a lot to do. Mike is planning the build some white shelves into a play corner to house toys and books. I plan to buy white baskets with liners for the shelves. We also need a little table and chairs, chandelier shades, and some lamps. I had tears in my eyes yesterday as my mom and I finally opened the boxes that had the little Chinese baby dolls that have been sitting in the closet for so long. We still have a lot to do and buy, but I finally feel like we are making progress. I would love to have the room complete when we get her referral so that we can concentrate on getting ready to travel.

Cole and Alex start back to school this week so I will post first-day-of-school pictures soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One of those days & Is "ship" a bad word?

This day has started out wrong and has gone from bad to worse! It started with the boys and I sitting at the kitchen table as we have done almost every day this summer to work on some school work. Of course, I was still in my pajamas when we had a knock at the back door and the doorbell at the front door rang. The backdoor was the carpet men coming to install the baby's carpet 3 hours earlier than expected and the front door was the Jehovah's Witnesses. So, come in carpet men (even though I am still in my pjs with no make-up on) and no Jehovah's Witnesses, we are not interested (sorry if you are Jehovah's Witnesses but we are very happy going to our Baptist church, oh and sorry I was little short with the visitors at my door). So, in come the carpet people as I rush around trying to make myself look presentable. I was actually happy that they were here because we really want to work on that room. However, things did not go as planned. They brought the wrong carpet (berber and we ordered frieze) and ours might still be at the factory on the other side of the state. Of course!
After they leave I decide that since they are not sure if they will be back today, and I am hosting Bunco at my house tomorrow night, I may as well give my house a good cleaning. This is not the way I wanted to spend my last day of summer break before I go back to work tomorrow, but I might as well be productive if I am stuck at home and can't go to the pool. That's when the kids started in. They were in and out, in and out of the house, leaving the back door standing wide open every time, tracking dog hair in from the garage (our yellow lab is shedding terribly right now and I can't keep the garage clean), and they spilled water all over the kitchen floor. Cole comes in tattling on Alex that he keeps saying the word "ship." I say "Ship?? How did he use the word." Cole says that ship must be a bad word when he is talking about fighting- like a warship. I say, "Well, I think that is okay as long as you are not saying 'Oh, ship' because then it sounds like a bad word." Both boys say, "Why would someone say 'Oh, ship" and "What bad word are you talking about?" Oh, forget it! Go back outside and play. Then Cole pitched huge temper tantrum that I would not allow him to take his Nintendo DS outside for the neighbors.
Back to cleaning, I am dusting the entertainment cabinet and find that there is a TON of dust behind the DVD player, much more than my dust rag can handle. So, I go get the vacuum cleaner (which just had $30 in new parts over the weekend to make it work again). I start up the vacuum to suck up that dust and it starts billowing smoke! It manages to spit melted black rubber all over the carpet and stink up the entire house in less than 10 seconds! Now, I need a new vacuum cleaner, have stained carpet in the living room, and still have no carpet upstairs! I am afraid to touch anything else and it is only lunch time! At least the boys are happy to stay outside playing for the day since the entire house smells like burned rubber!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Some good news!

This wait for our daughter has been filled with highs and lows. We never knew that it would take this long, especially once we decided that we were going to adopt a child with a medical condition. We just new that we would have our referral by now. Last spring we received an email for our agency saying that we would likely wait 18 to 20 months or more from the date that we turned in our medical conditions checklist (MCC). Our 10 to 12 month wait had turned into a 18 to 20 month wait. We have been waiting for 15 months now and our agency has been doing a ton of special needs referrals this month. So, I decided to email again to find out if we are getting any closer. For this first time ever, they said that yes, we are getting closer to our referral! I was so scared that they were going to say that we were going to have to wait even longer than 18 to 20 months. They could not predict exactly when it is going to happen, but they said the current wait time is still 18 to 20 months. We could see our daughter's face as early as October!! We are back at work getting her room ready. We ordered her carpet last night and a chandelier this morning. I will post pictures as soon as it all starts to come together. I really want to have her room ready before we get her referral so that we can concentrate on getting ready to travel. It feels so good to finally feel like there is an end in sight. We can hold on for another 3 to 5 months, no problem!! Our prayer is that she is safe and well cared for.

Our agency has been doing a lot of work with the Henan province to help them learn better techniques for childcare in the orphanages. They have been going into the orphanages and helping them with supplies, training, and placing as many kids into foster care as they can. They have also been helping to pay for the process to prepare the children's paperwork for adoption so that these children can have forever homes. Without all of this hard work, these children would have to live out their childhood in orphanages with inadequate care. Our daughter is most likely one of these children in Henan. We are so grateful for the work that our agency is doing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another Camping Trip

We came home Sunday from a camping trip at Stone Mountain Park with another family from church. Between the 2 families, we had 5 boys ranging from age 8 to 2 years old! We got to the campground late Friday evening. Saturday morning we hiked to the top of the mountain and back down. We were all hot and exhausted by the time we got back to the campers for lunch. Then we went swimming in the most crowded pool I have ever seen. The pool was very small and there must have been 80 people in it. As we were getting ready to leave the campground to go to the Lazer Show Saturday evening, Cole got stung by a bee on the top of his foot. If you know Cole, you know that he is our drama child. We were really late leaving to get to the Lazer Show, and we had to park really far away and Mike had to carry Cole most the way since his bee sting was right where his Croc was rubbing his foot when he walked. By the time we got there, the Lazer Show was so packed that we could only find a little spot just big enough for all of us to squeeze in on the lawn. Still, the kids really had a great time and this was the first time that Alex actually watched the show. Every other time he has covered his ears and hidden his face in my shoulder. The first picture in today's post is Mike clowning around with glowsticks before the start of the Lazer Show. Mike thought it would be fun to "accessorize" his outfit before the show started. And I wonder why Alex always seems to march to his own beat...

Tonight Cole has guitar lessons and then we are going to a neighborhood cook-out. I can't believe that I only have 2 more weeks left of summer break. I am starting to get into the mind-set of what I need to do to get ready to go back to work. I really love my summers home with my boys. They just seem to fly by.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July Weekend

We have made it home from a great 4th of July weekend camping in the mountains. We took our little pop-up camper to an RV park and camped right next to a creek. The boys had a great time playing in the water, building a dam, and riding their bikes around the campground. We also got to see Mike's parents several times since the RV park where they spend most of their summer was just down the road.

The boys enjoyed riding in the golf cart parade with their Nana. Then, we were invited to a lake house to watch fireworks on a boat dock.

This morning it started raining, so we had to pack up early to head home.
There is nothing like folding up a camper in the rain! We made it home in one piece- a little wet though. We spent the afternoon trying to dry out the camper and get everything cleaned up so that we can take another little trip next weekend. We are trying to squeeze in as many little trips as we can because it will not be long before the boys and I will have to go back to school.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cole's Birthday Party, Swim Lessons, & Anniversary

As usual, we have had a really busy week. Cole wanted to celebrate his 8th birthday before his best friend went to Russia for the rest of the summer, so we had an early party. I really love planning BIG parties for my boys, but last summer I told Cole that after his 7th birthday he would not have any more big parties for a while. At the time, I really thought that we would have the baby by now and we would need to limit some of our normal activities. Still, even though we still do not have a little sister in our house, we decided to have a small party this year. Cole invited 3 friends over for pizza and to a family-fun center with bumper cars, bumper boats, get the idea. I let Cole pick out some decorations for the kitchen table and we kept things really simple. I honestly think Cole enjoyed this little party more than any of his big expensive parties that I have thrown! All 5 boys had a blast squirting each other with water on the bumper boats, playing arcade games, and climbing all over the "spider-zone."
Friday morning was the last day of swim classes. Cole's class did a lot of "drown-proofing" activities. One of the most challenging parts was when he had to jump into the pool fully -clothed (including long sleeve button-up shirt, long pants, socks, and shoes) and try to remove his clothes down to his swimsuit without touching the wall of the pool. At the end of the lessons, both boys received a certificate in a little awards ceremony.
Friday was also our 11 year wedding anniversary, so Mike and I went out to dinner. Uncle Kevin and Aunt Elizabeth came over to babysit the boys and took them fishing. They are the best! Mike and I had a really great evening without kids.

Our weekend also included painting Alex's bedroom and a shopping trip with Nana to get things for Cole's bedroom. Cole wants his birthday present to be a rock & roll bedroom. We did some shopping on the computer and then headed it out to pick up some framed posters and new curtains. I can't believe that Cole is almost 8 years old. In some ways he is still a little boy, but his interest in music is reminding me that he is growing up. He is starting guitar lessons tomorrow. We are just beginning with a month of lessons to see if he likes the guitar enough to stick with it. I will let you know how if goes. I have a feeling he does not know how much hard work it is learn to play an instrument!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Alex Gets Glasses

I took Alex to the eye doctor today. He had his annual check-up at the pediatrician several weeks ago, and they were concerned about his vision. We had an eye appointment last summer, and the doctor said he was very borderline in needing glasses. Now, it seems that one eye has gotten worse over the course of the last year. Apparently, one eye can see close up and the other one can see far away, and he is constantly needing to refocus. Hopefully the glasses will help with all of the eye rubbing that he does when he is reading. He was such a trooper during his exam, and I think he looks adorable in his new glasses. We went out for ice cream tonight to reward him for all of his hard work at the doctor's office.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Our Busy Week

This week has been both, fun and exhausting! The boys are taking swim lessons each morning. We also have vacation bible school every night until 8:30. I am having a lot of fun teaching the 2 & 3 year old class this year. I only have 3 or 4 kids in my class each night, but by the end of the evening after we make it home after 9:00 and finally get the boys in bed, I feel like I am ready to crash. Then, we get up in the morning and start all over again! Today is the last day of VBS, but we still have swim lessons next week. I am going to try to post some more recent pictures of the boys soon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

First post

I am going to try "blogging" for the first time. We have been waiting for a referral for our daughter for 26 months so far, and I know that we have a least several more months left to wait. In the mean time, I want to learn to blog so that I can keep everyone posted while we are in China. I really hope to be able to learn to post pictures and videos. I am not great with technology, so this is going to be a challenge for me! So, here is my first attempt at posting a message.