Monday, October 31, 2011

Adventures in Uganda: Back again!!

3/2012  Due to the nature of adoption in Uganda (and, frankly, the occasional craziness of the Ugandan adoptive community), I chose not to share any details about our adoption while we were still in process. But because this blog is the story of our lives... I want to go back and fill in those empty spaces.

 To see all of my adventures in Uganda (or at least the ones I've posted so far), click on the "Ugandan Adventures" tag at the bottom of this post.

Here's the message I posted to my secret/private facebook group once we arrived back in Kampala on my second visit, for court.


 We are HERE!!
Our flights went off without any hitches… Luke was ENTHRALLED with the giant plane, and thrilled with the individual movie screens at each seat. Of course the newness of all that wore off pretty fast, and by the last leg of the trip, he was pretty bored and restless. But he was a super trooper traveler – especially the 4 hours in Amsterdam, ending with almost an hour standing in line to get on our plane, when we hadn’t slept at all and it was 4AM on our body clocks. We did manage to sleep some on the Amsterdam-Africa leg, but were pretty tired by the time we got here last night. It was SO GOOD TO LAY DOWN FLAT!!

I absolutely loved driving from the airport to the babies home this time – it’s about an hour trip, and it was so fun to be picked up this time by a familiar face (the babies’ home driver), and to be with Matt and Luke. Luke fell asleep about halfway here. I tried to move him , but it woke him up and then he didn’t want to sleep again so that he could see everything. He’s really taking everything in and is so interested in how different Africa is from what he's used to.

He’s doing pretty well… I think the food thing (as I expected) will be the hardest part for him. He doesn’t like trying new things, or anything that even looks different than what he’s used to. He didn’t even want to eat peanut butter on toast, because the PB is different. I thought, “Honey, peanut butter is the LEAST of your worries!” He might survive on pop and candy bars for 2 weeks. Oh, and we went to the store and I got him some Ramen today (gross.) So at least he’ll have that :).

We got to see MM this morning… I wasn’t sure what to expect when he saw us again. Everyone’s been telling him we’re coming, and when Brooke was here last month, she talked to him about our picture every day. But I knew there was a chance he’d be mad that I was there with him and left… He didn’t come running to me right away (every other kid there did, we were surrounded in seconds, with little hands grabbing and pulling). M kind of hung back at first and watched all of this, and after I greeted all of the hangers-on, I approached him. As soon as I put my hands out to him he came right to me, looked at me, layed his head on my shoulder, and held on tight. It was heart-melting.
He also took right to Luke and Matt (this isn't real bonding or instant attachment, by the way - but it's better than rejection, which is common, so we'll take it!). The teacher got out balloons to blow up, so we blew those up and we popped them around for the kids. Then Luke bopped them with his head and all the kids (especially M!) CRACKED UP. It was really precious to watch Luke playing with all the kids. Lunch was a little overwhelming for Luke…he was helping with the bigger kids, while Matt & I helped with the babies (the big kids don’t need much help with lunch usually; but they’re all in the same room), but then the big kids started throwing their food ALL OVER. And they didn’t really listen when Luke said to stop. It was like, “Welcome to orphanage life, kid!” :) After lunch, while I helped get all the kids changed and dressed for nap (and Luke delivered kids to their beds), Matt got to hold M for a really long time, and M was really clinging to his neck. So sweet.
I think this next month is going to be challenging for M… He was happy to see me again, and to meet Matt & Luke…but he also clung to our hands and wouldn’t let us go, and was REALLY sad when we left him at nap time. In the long run, I think it’s good for him to have a slower transition, but I also think it’s hard b/c he’s visibly afraid we’ll leave him again. And we’ll be leaving him every day until we get our written ruling for legal guardianship… It’s also hard b/c he wants to sit on my lap or be held the whole time, but every other kid wants attention too… You can pray for that for us!!

We have court tomorrow at noon (4am CST)… Please pray that the judge would show up :). It sounds like our lawyers think we have a pretty good case, but there are still lots of unknowns… I’d love to have ANSWERS tomorrow, but I can’t really promise that :).

I so appreciate your prayer for us.... As I traveled yesterday I felt so CARRIED, like I was in the Lord's hand. It's really an amazing thing, especially after the emotionally CRAZY week I'd had leading up to that! Thank you for praying for us, and for little MM!!!
Renee & the boys

p.s. Tobin did GREAT saying goodbye, by the way. Not a tear was shed, and on the way to meet Sara, he kept telling Dudley, “Dudwey! We’re going to Gwammie’s! Isn’t that exciting???” Praise the Lord. I miss him, and hope to come home sooner rather than later, but it’s not as bad as I was expecting. Thanks for praying for that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

When I am afraid....

For a long time, fear has been my biggest enemy.

Through the process of adoption, I've been remarkably fear- free, and I am SO THANKFUL. Even this summer, when arriving in Ug*nda in the middle of the night, jetlagged, and being picked up by a stranger to be driven over an hour through the darkness to my destination...while I could feel the temptation to completely FREAK OUT (or fall asleep, which would have been an equally bad decision), I was able to trust in the Lord and remain CALM. Praise God.

Through all the unknowns of this process, with all of the potential outcomes (some of which really are terrifying), I've known that whatever happens, the Lord has us in His hands, and I've felt SAFE.


This last week, as things are getting really really REAL, the fear is coming in. I'm not giving in to it, but the temptation is always there. What if....
....something terrible happens to Matt, Luke and I and T and our new little mister are left all alone?
...something terrible happens to T while the rest of us are in Africa? (This thought had never occurred to me consciously, but I had a horrific dream about T a few nights ago involving him being in others' care and me unable to get to him to keep him safe. It involved a large body of water, and I woke up crying and sobbing.)
....something surfaces in our little mister's case and we're unable to parent him ourselves? (If any unethical things surfaced in our case, or if we found he had biological family who wanted to parent him, we would always choose that...but it doesn't make it any easier to face.)
....we get home with little mister and the entire dynamic and fabric of our family is ripped apart?

These are mostly really far-fetched fears, but that doesn't make them any easier to fight.

Praise the LORD that His goodness covers me, and even if one (or ALL) of these fears come to pass, I know "We overwhelmingly CONQUER through Him who loves us."  I hear Him speaking to me in these fears - which are HIS to fight - in so many ways.

Almost every song we sang at the college retreat Matt & I were at last week in Colorado had at least one line about not being afraid. My very favorite at the moment (and a song I think will always remind me of this exact season) is David Crowder's "Sometimes."

Sometimes every one of us feels
Like we’ll never be healed

Sometimes every one of us aches
Like we’ll never be saved

When we’ve given up
Let your healing come
When theres nothing left
Let your healing come
Til were rising up
Let your healing come

Where You go we will follow

It’s Your love that we adore
It’s like a sea without a shore
We’re lost in You, Were lost in You

Sometimes it’s like we never atone
For all the love we know

Sometimes like in a smile of a song
When you feel it come
Then that feelings gone
It flies

When we’ve given up
Let your healing come
When theres nothing left
Let your healing come

Til were rising up
Let your healing come

Where You go we will follow

It’s your love that we adore
It’s like a sea without a shore
We’re lost in You, Were lost in You

Its your love we adore
Its like a sea without a shore
Don’t be afraid, Don’t be afraid

Just set your sail and risk the ocean
There’s only grace
Let’s risk the ocean
There’s only grace

Where you go we will follow
I’m on my knees
Where you go we will follow
Oh God send me

It’s your love that we adore
It’s like a sea without a shore
We’re lost in You, Were lost in You

Where you go we will follow
I’m on my knees
Where you go we will follow
Oh God send me
I don't need to be afraid to risk the ocean, because of His grace. Thank you Lord!

The Lord has also (as He so often does) tenderly addressed my fears in His Word. I have read Daily Light for Your Daily Path in book form as part of my devotional life for YEARS (over 10 now, I think.) I'm always amazed at how often it speaks into my exact circumstance. Here's what I read in Saturday's Daily Light:

My heart is steadfast, O God!

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.—He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.—He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever.
I'm praying for a steadfast heart, so I can be kept in perfect peace. But also VERY thankful for Psalm 56:3, which doesn't say IF I am afraid, it says WHEN I am afraid.

WHEN I am afraid, I put my trust in YOU.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Donations for the babies home (and others!)

Calling all Lincoln-ites (and local friends!)
We would love to take a donation to the babies home when we go next week... I mentioned this to some friends last week, and they encouraged me to open this up and see if any local friends want to contribute.

They are in need of diapers, wipes and formula. (It may be more cost effective to buy diapers there, since they take up so much room!)

We also have a list of items we'd love to take along to give as gifts for the mamas and workers at the babies home, and for drivers and others we meet along the way.

Here are some popular items:
  • Soaps
  • Small bottles of lotion or body wash (no shampoo, since Ugandan hair needs are significantly different)
  • Deodorant (which is super expensive, and therefore a luxury item)
  • Toothbrushes
  • I feel weird even typing this on the internet…but women’s sanitary napkins are also super expensive over there, and I’ve heard ladies really appreciate receiving them… So if you want to buy some pads to send over…. :) (I don’t think they use tampons, I’ve never seen them mentioned.)
  • Small children’s books (every Ug*ndan we met, including adults, was super interested in the children’s books I took along with us for little mister.)
  • Stickers
  •  Any other small, easy to pack gift item, for kids or adults.
Several folks preferred making a cash donation, we'll spend that on big bags of rice, sugar, and posho to divide up as gifts for the babies home workers - so we have a good mix of practical and fun items!

If any of you (Lincoln-ites) would like to join with us in this, you can drop donations off @ Lincoln Berean Church. If you know where it is, take it up to the college office, but otherwise, you can just put our names on it and leave it with the receptionist. 

We'd need all donations dropped off by Thursday so that we have time to pack everything up and be ready to go on Saturday (EEK!!)


Thursday, October 20, 2011

We're going to Africa...a week from Saturday (YIPES!)

I've been hearing rumors for a while now causing me to think more and more that we won't be going back to Ug to bring our little guy home until after the new year.... We got an email Saturday morning confirming that...our lawyer said that all of the court dates this year are taken. She said she was trying to see if she can get us in...

And Friday 10/14 was 2 months since I've seen our little guy.

My heart was so sad.

But part of trusting the Lord is trusting this process. Human schedules and timelines are not outside of His jurisdiction, and we are in His hands, no one else's.

I spent the weekend bringing my heart to a place of TRUST, and began to really settle into the idea of having a few more months to ENJOY this season as a family of 4, determined to rest in God's choices for us.

Then Wednesday morning I heard from our lawyer again that we have a court date. November 1.

We leave a week from Saturday. A.week.from.Saturday.

I have a lot to do... Call Luke's school and make sure he can come with us... Gather all the paperwork we need... Probably make another trip to our wonderful notary.... Do laundry and gather summer clothes (we've moved into our fall/winter wardrobe here in NE, but I made sure that we kept the summer stuff handy so I could get to it quickly just in case)... Buy a few things for our little guy, including an outfit (or 2, just in case) for him to wear to court... Gather donations and things to take to Ug*nda... And the list goes on and on.

We are EXCITED and SO VERY THANKFUL that the Lord has provided for us to (Lord willing!) bring our little guy home this year. And I am super excited to go back to Ug*nda and learn more about our little guy's home country and culture, and to see the friends that I made there. It will be so wonderful to introduce Matt and (hopefully!) Luke to the beauty of Ug*nda.

Of course my head is also SPINNING. :)

Several folks have asked what they can do to help... This morning I was talking with some friends, telling them about the gifts and donations we want to bring with us (diapers, formula, wipes; small soaps and travel lotions to give as gifts.)

They encouraged me to let folks help with that, thinking that many people would love to send gifts to the people of Ug*nda... So be looking for more information about that coming soon (probably available only to local folks, since we have a pretty fast turnaround here!!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adventures in Uganda: WAITING

2/2012  Due to the nature of adoption in Uganda (and, frankly, the occasional craziness of the Ugandan adoptive community), I chose not to share any details about our adoption while we were still in process. But because this blog is the story of our lives... I want to go back and fill in those empty spaces.  To see all of my adventures in Uganda (or at least the ones I've posted so far), click on the "Ugandan Adventures" tag at the bottom of this post.

Here's the message I posted to my secret/private facebook group leading up to getting our court date. The wait between meeting Micah Marvin and getting news that we could come to Uganda for court was excruciating. Little did I know that it was actually just preparing me for the marathon of trusting the Lord that our time in Uganda turned out to be.


October 5, 2011
OK Friends.... sometime in the next 24 hours our affidavits should be arriving at our lawyer's office. There's only one more piece of paper they're waiting for (something someone else involved in the case needs to sign off on), and then we'll be ready to file for court. So it is possible that we'll know our court date within the next two weeks (although I'll admit it doesn't seem super probable... At the very least I'm realizing I need to be just as ready to move quickly as I am to move slowly...and I've spent a lot of time conditioning myself to be ready to move slowly :D).

Would love your prayers for our judge assignment... We are trusting God's hand over both the decisions and the timing!
 (This picture was taken by a friend who visited our babies home in between my two visits - news and pictures of him were treasures!)
October 17, 2011
Hi Friends! I am in CO at a retreat with our college group (trying to be ALL HERE when my mind and heart are in Uganda!)

Heard from our lawyer this AM, and she is trying to get a court date for us, but said that all the allocations are full (I think this means all of the possible int'l adoption court slots). Usually the judges hear cases until the holiday recess 12/15-1/15... but I'm hearing rumors that none of the judges are hearing international cases after the first of November. :( She said she is TRYING (she put it in cap letters, which is unusual...)

I would so dearly love to be able to bring our little guy home this year, would you pray that God would move mountains and get us a court date?? 
BUT we trust the Lord and that all things are from His also pray for my heart (and Matt's, but I'm WAY more emotional about this :D) to rest and receive whatever happens from the Lord. I am so thankful for His goodness and comfort!
October 19, 2011
Praying friends. You must have been PRAYING (and God has really done a work in my heart, thank you!!) I mourned over the weekend and really settled into the idea of waiting until 2012 to bring MM home, trusting the Lord's plan v. my own. I decided to just rest in His plan, and focus on enjoying these last few months of our current season as a family of 4.

And then I heard from my lawyer this morning that we have a court date on 11/1. We have to be in Ug in a week and a half. EEK. Matt & (hopefully) Luke will be with me for the first 1-2 weeks, then I'll stay with Micah Marvin until all the paperwork is done, 4-5 weeks. Lord willing, we'll be bringing home our little guy in early December.

Will put up some specific things to pray for when my head stops spinning, but in the mean time, I'd love it if you'd all just praise the Lord with me. He is good whether we're going to bring MM home in December or February or WHENEVER (or never... The Lord is GOOD no matter what my circumstances)...but this feels like a gift to me, and a reminder that I'm trusting in Him, not in judges or governments or even my own plan. As we sang this weekend, "When the oceans rage, I don't have to be afraid...because I know that He loves me." ♥
October 21, 2011
So much to pray about.... Our judge lost his brother this morning. I'm not sure how this will affect our date, maybe not at all, maybe it will be delayed a week, or maybe they'll put us off until next year (sending me on yet another roller coaster ride...) It would be FOOLISH of me to think that God is not in control of EVERYTHING at this point. So we trust Him...but it would also be a major pain to change all of the things I've gotten done this week. :) Will you pray with me? For what, I don't even know. For our judge in his loss...for our plans and date and everything else. THANKS!!!
October 26, 2011
OK...there's always a chance of unexpected things. But right now, it looks like we'll be traveling as expected. The justice only missed 1 day of appointments as far as I can tell (last week), he kept the ones yesterday, and I'm praying for one that's happening this morning.

Specific things to pray for:
.... Our lawyer: I'm realizing how much of our case rests on her. Will you pray for wisdom for her, favor for us, and for all the details that she needs to be taking care of to get taken care of?
... Flight details. We get in at 10pm on the 30th, giving us one full day in Ug before court at noon on 11/1 (which will be 3am CST, if any of you want to wake up and pray). That doesn't give us much room for error as far as flights go...and it means we need to really hit the ground running. No time for jet lag! Will you pray we'd quickly adjust, and be all there for our meetings and court?
...Favor with our Justice, praying we'd be a BLESSING to him. And praying he'd rule in our favor and give us the written ruling really quickly (sometimes people get them within a week, sometimes they wait a month.)

FRIENDS. I can't tell you what it means to me that so many of you are praying along with us, it's such a comfort and JOY.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Africa Coffee Cuffs!

We are so close to being DONE with our adoption fundraising! We don't know the final cost, but know that we're within a few thousand dollars, which is AWESOME and AMAZING.

At long last, I made myself sit down and FINISH some more coffee cuffs.

They're listed on my etsy shop, if you click on any of the pictures, the link will take you there. I actually have 20 or so, but I only listed 5, since Etsy charges me for each listing...

If you're local, be sure you get the free shipping coupon code from me before you order... I can just hand deliver to you, there's no reason to pay for shipping!

I also brought back a bundle of my very favorite African souvenir...paper bead necklaces, to sell for our adoption. LOVE THESE. I bought several as gifts and for myself (and have bought more from other families selling different styles to raise money for their own adoptions...I'm a sucker for an adoption fundraiser!) I can't sell those through Etsy, since I didn't make them myself... But I'll post pictures & tell you how to get ahold of one soon!

I have a few more things coming down the pike... Specifically some really cute journal covers, like this:

They are made to fit over standard composition books. This was my attempt to curve my constant journal-angst. I am a JOURNALER. I also have a problem thing with journals and any paper products, I just can't seem to get enough. I have a journal for my own thoughts/prayers/study. I have one that I use in church/Bible study/carrying around (because I like for my prayer/personal one to always be at home where I can find it easily and not have to go digging for it). I have journals for each of my boys (including the newest not-yet-at-home one!). I have notebooks that live in the kitchen for my lists etc. And I usually have a couple handy to give as gifts, or waiting in the wings for my own use. Matt calls those "journals in waiting." And sometimes j-urinals. :) (And don't even get him started on my addiction to love for Sharpie pens. Love.) Anyway... I like a cute journal, but I also like CHEAP. I'd seen these comp book covers around, and realized that I could have both - the comp books are usually under a dollar. And the cover makes it CUTE! And if it has an elastic closure like this holds my sharpie pen! Yay!
The one above is the one I've been using, so it's not for sale, although I have one more in a different style, but that same fabric... I made this one for me and several to give as gifts, making sure I had the pattern right and they're usable etc.

I'm also planning to make myself one with Africa on it (for the journal I've been keeping for our little guy, sharing my thoughts and prayers for him through this journey). I thought others might be interested in that, so I'm going to make a few... Probably in the next 2 weeks or so, so stay tuned :).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Angry Birds!

My facebook status yesterday was, "I made 2 Angry Bird costumes this afternoon, and now I feel like Supermom McCraftipants." :)

Several folks mentioned they'd like to see them, and would love to be able to make some for their kids, so I thought I'd take a few pictures and put them up here. I can't do a tutorial because I sew in my basement & the light is terrible down there. Also, I wasn't super confident in how they'd turn out, since I was improvising pretty heavily, so I didn't take pictures along the way. But I will give a general rundown of what I did, in the hopes that it will be helpful for someone.

First of all, I used this tutorial from Dragonfly Designs. She made costumes for her whole family, I think that would be adorable. Matt keeps asking me where his Pig costume is, but I'm not up for costuming the whole family this year. I actually started off just making Tobin's Black Bird. I really tried to talk him into the Red Bird or Yellow Bird, because I think they're more easily recognizable. He wouldn't go for the Red Bird, and I didn't have yellow felt or fleece, so I decided to go ahead and let him be the Black Bomber.

Luke has been trying to decide if he's going to dress up this year. Several friends have mentioned that they're not, because their parents think middle school is too old for costumes and trick or treating ('re NEVER too old for costumes!) So on the one hand, he thinks it might not be cool. On the other hand.... CANDY. Seeing Tobin's costume pushed CANDY into the winner column. (And let's face it. He was always going to choose candy.)

As I sat down yesterday afternoon to see if I could really pull Tobin's costume-of-choice off, I realized that I already have quite a bit of black and red felt. The red I bought for coffee cuffs, the black was on clearance at JoAnn's (I am kind of addicted to the clearance bin at JoAnn's.)

Dragonfly Designs stuffed her birds, so that requires 4 circles of fabric (and stuffing). I only had enough for 2 circles without buying more (or using the red to line the inside of the black, meaning I wouldn't have that for the red bird, should Luke decide he was in.) I was kind of hoping to make these without any more fabric purchases...and I don't have any stuffing on hand either. So I decided to see what I could do.

Looking at these pictures again? I LOVE THESE SO MUCH! They make me happy. And they were easy-peasy. And FREE (except that I did actually pay for the fabric at one time. So I guess not. But free in the sense of "I didn't buy any more crap at the craft store." Which makes me - and especially my loving husband, who is mystified by the allure of the fabric/craft superstore - very happy.)

Black Bird...or as it is referred to in several places, "The Black Bomber" (which Tobin LOVES). Why does this one have a cool name, while the others are just "red bird", "yellow bird" etc. Why? Who knows? Iguess because he's a bomb...)
And Red Bird:

So basically for each bird, I cut 2 circles out of felt. They were both 30" in diameter (I cut them the way she describes in the tutorial... I cut a 30" square, folded it into quarters, then used my marker and a tape measure to draw an arc, then cut that out. (Or you could do it the way Dana does it, here.) Luke didn't want his to be any bigger than Tobin's, which I wasn't sure would work...but it did, I just had to do the arms differently.

Luke also wanted his to not be a perfect circle... so I looked up some pictures of the red bird (I just googled "Angry Bird pictures" and tried to copy that shape (I mostly just made the top of the circle more pointy, like a pear.)
I cut out an 8 inch circle from the front circle, for the face, 6" from the top of the circle. 8" is perfect for Luke, but I wish I'd done Tobin's at 6" (I did measure, but the way it hangs, it could have been much smaller. And please ignore the shirt-less-ness...I was lucky I got him in pants, he's been in a run-around-in-my-underwear mood today. Even asked me why I didn't take my clothes off. Ummm....)

I cut out the face parts (she has patterns you can print out on the tutorial, but I just free handed them, looking at the pictures I googled.), then pinned and appliqued them on using black thread. (Dragonfly Designs hot glued them on and traced them with black paint...but I wasn't sure that I had black paint that isn't dried out...also don't trust my tracing-with-paint skills!)The boys helped me get the faces right.
Then I sewed both pieces together, just at the top. I tried it on Tobin and marked where his arms would come out, and where I wanted to leave room for it to go over his head/where his legs come out the bottom. He has his arms pulled in for this picture, but you can see where the arms come out in the picture above.

Luke's is just sewn 2/3 of the way around (I tried it on him and marked where I thought I could sew to and still get it over his head), there are no arm holes.

As I was trying Tobin's on, I realized it wasn't going to stand up enough on it's own - I was hoping that the felt would be stiff enough, that's probably why the original tutorial stuffed each part, so they would be 3-D and stand away from the body.

Easily solved... I turned the bird right side out (just like you'd wear it) and sewed a seam 1" from the edge (1/2" would work, that's how I did Luke's), making a casing. Then I stretched out a hanger, curved it and threaded it through there like an underwire. Can you tell from this picture?
The hanger was actually the perfect length for both of them. After I got it in and shaped the way I wanted it, I used pliers to fold each end down on itself so it wasn't pointy,  then sewed up the bottom of the casing.

For Halloween, they'll wear black shirts (maybe Luke will wear red...) and black pants or jeans. 

Perfect. I feel especially proud of myself...Supermom McCraftipants! Plus no extra money spent - hooray for me!

But really, it was easy. The Black Bird took me a couple of hours or more, but Red Bird was cranked out in an hour or so because I'd finished the first one and figured everything out by the time Luke told me he wanted a costume for himself. Either way, I finished both on a Sunday afternoon.

The boys want me to make a pig costume for Dudley now. But I am pretty sure my sewist skills don't measure up to dog costumes. :)
Here they are making Angry Bird faces, LOL.
And in case you want to make some yourself and are wondering about sizes... 30" worked out perfectly for my 4yo (wears a 5/6) and my 11yo (wears a 12 or 14, mostly for length.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

While we wait....

I've written about 23 blog posts in my mind over the past month... But haven't had time (or energy or motivation or SOMETHING) to actually type them out. So I thought I'd do a hodge podge post of things we've had going on and things we're thinking about.

Our last piece of paperwork was shipped to Ug this week, which sends us to a new chapter in our waiting. At some point we'll be submitted for court and receive our court date. We're excited, but also realize that court date could be relatively soon... Or we could still be waiting next month. Or next year even. And that's OK. (at least today. Today I'm really resting in the Lord's timing. Ask me again tomorrow and maybe you'll get another answer. But I'm committed to patience with this process. It does feel a little like the last 3-4 weeks of pregnancy, when you technically could have the baby, but probably won't for a month or more.)

While we wait...

...We continue to be blown away by the support and encouragement we've received from so many.We don't know what our final cost will be, but we do know that God has provided. I was just thinking this week that it would be nice if I could earn/raise just a bit more in these next weeks...and got a check in the mail for the exact amount I had in mind, from an old and very dear friend. I'm amazed. And a little ashamed at how amazed I am. Thank you for loving us, and for the encouragement that God provides through you. He is so good.

... A sweet friend who is also an adoptive mommy encouraged me last month to be all where I am right now. She shared that during her adoption process she found it east to be so focused on the "unknowns" with her daughter that it was tempting to forget she had sons in her home already who needed her. I so relate to that - and want to really relish and enjoy and LIVE IN this moment we are in right now. I want to give my boys' my full attention, and drink up this moment in time when we are still a family of four. I am so looking forward to being FIVE, but don't want to miss out on the two I have now, today.

...Enjoying the Fall. I love living in Nebraska. It's actually warm and balmy here today, but we're in the time of year when the leaves are starting to turn beautiful colors, but the flowers are still blooming. I pointed out a burning bush to Tobin a couple of weeks ago - we planted one at the corner of our house a couple of years ago, but I'm not sure if we got a dud or if it just takes a few years for them to be mature enough for the leaves to be bright red and all turn? Anyway, ours has just a few sad reddish leaves, but others in the neighborhood are just gorgeous. T now likes to play the "Who can spot the most burning bushes" game. Of course, he practically calls every tree or plant he sees a burning bush, so maybe he didn't completely understand my explanation?? :)

 ... Feeding the ducks, going to the park, playing outside. We've been spending as much time as possible being outside. Because as much as I love Fall, and love living in a place where there are 4 distinct seasons... I also know which season comes after Fall. And I'm a little bit sad about being stuck inside for 4 months or more.

 ...On that note, we're also going to the Lincoln Children's Zoo as often as possible, while we still can. I think we missed our last chance this past week, since I'm pretty sure the zoo is closed for the season now (except for Boo at the Zoo - yippee!!)

Our last trip, we rode the train as always... And yelled as loud as we could, as always... And sat in the very front seat behind the conductor, as always. But THIS time, the conductor offered to let the kids get up in his seat (after our ride) and ring the bell. That was a HIT I tell you.

... We've also been enjoying lots and lots of Sarah time. Our sweet friend's mommy has been back in Ug serving for the past two weeks, so we've had S during the days a lot more than usual. The first day I picked S up from preschool, the teacher told me that Sarah had been telling her all morning, "My Nee (nay) is picking me up!" So when I showed up, the teacher asked me, "Are you her Nee?"  So precious.

Brooke gets home tonight, and not a minute too soon - we've been counting down the "sleeps" until Mommy gets home all week.

Tobin and Luke LOVE Sarah days, and I'm pretty attached to her myself. I am super excited for Brooke - once she gets home, she gets to be a SAHM and have lots more Sarah-time herself. But we're going to MISS our little friend. I got a little teary about it at the end of the day on my last day with Sarah. I know we'll still see her (and her family) lots and lots...but we'll miss having regular Sarah days as part of our week!

... I didn't want to sign T up for preschool this year for a variety of reasons. For one thing, he's already at the church 3 times a week, so I don't think "socialization" is a problem. Secondly, I hate the idea of planning our schedule life around preschool, and we didn't want to finagle our budget to cram praying for preschool in there. And of course, I LIKE spending my days with the little guy, so it was hard for me to pay and schedule around something I was sure I am capable of myself. But mostly we knew that if I'm gone for a month or so with the adoption, getting T to and from preschool would be a hassle.

SO... We're doing homeschool preschool. The first week was an absolute BLAST. He was so excited to learn and have me be his teacher. We've done some fun crafts, lots of alphabet activities (I might blog a couple of those, he LOVED them), phonics and pre-reading, and some fun pre-math activities. This picture is from when I gave him a tray full of cheap-o shaving cream and had him practice writing the letter of the week (A, since that was the first week :D). He drew 3 As, a rectangle (which was the shape we were learning that week as well), and then played with the shaving cream for over an hour. Wow. That stuff was a HIT. I gave him a bin of water to rinse his hands with, and after entertaining himself forever with it, he then took the water and dishrag and gave all of the vehicles (scooters, big wheels etc.) on the back deck a "car wash." So long as the weather permits wherever you are, I highly recommend shaving cream as a "mommy needs to get some work done" activity.

Did you notice I said "the first week was really fun"? That week I was like, "THIS IS THE GREATEST I LOVE BEING HIS TEACHER HE LOVES TO LEARN I'M TOTALLY HOMESCHOOLING KINDERGARDEN AND BEYOND!!!" A month in, and I'm not so sure. I think the major thing that's made it less enjoyable is that I haven't taken (or in some cases had) the time to plan as well as I did that first week. So I haven't planned as many fun/play activities mixed in with the work-like activities. This has resulted in a lot more authority-challenges than I enjoy - I certainly believe that he needs to learn that I (or whomever is his teacher) am in charge, but I also want him to continue to ENJOY learning. And think 4 year olds learn best through play, whenever play is possible. Most of the time, if I'm gentle with him and wise about how long we try to "work" at a time, he responds pretty well. I just have to not laugh when he flops himself on the table and tells me, "This is such a PAIN." :)

I'm going to take the time and energy to plan much better this next few weeks, before I make any decisions about the future.

...being Fall, we've watched a LOT of Husker Football. Sorry to all my Aggie friends. I do support and root for the Aggies, and I'm an AGGIE (although thankful I don't have to answer the question anymore, "So, when the Huskers play the Aggies, who do you root for?" Which, by the way, I only get asked by Huskers, because: Hello? I'm an Aggie. I'm always going to root for the Aggies. Everyone knows this.) But I'm football on TV is not my thing. Even when I say we've watched a lot of Husker football, I should probably say "we" have "watched" a lot of football. In the grand tradition of football everywhere, the men watch TV and the women talk. :) And eat. And one time I even brought work to do and holed myself up in the corner and worked through the whole game while everyone else had fun. But that made me really grouchy, so I don't do that anymore.

... The most helpful thing I've done to make the WAIT bearable has been praying for others on this journey. I am so thankful to have friends here in town who are also in the process of adopting (one of whom is leaving for China THIS WEEK to bring home her little girl - after a 3+ year wait, so I have nothing to complain about!!!) I've also been able to connect with sweet friends all over the country who are in the process of adopting from Ug, several from the same babies home where our little guy is now.

Some of them are ahead of us, and some are behind. It's been especially precious to pray for the families whose children are where our little guy is, since I've met those children (even though I've mostly never met their mommies in real life - I feel very connected to them!)

One in particular I've LOVED becoming friends with is my new friend Tammy. Tammy is adopting 2 little one from M's babies home, one of whom is a little girl with special needs whom Matt & I seriously prayed about adopting ourselves.  We are open to special needs, so long as we feel they are special needs our family can care for and needs we can help meet. Even though we felt a boy was a better fit for our family, we got some information about little E and prayed seriously about being her family - she's 4 and has been in the orphanage since she was very small, so many families have passed her by. I just didn't know how I could leave her there, even though I wasn't sure our family was the best fit for her. At first I told Matt, "We're just going to have to say YES to E, because I cannot leave her without a family." But as I prayed about it, I felt a strong sense from the Lord that I wasn't her Mommy. I wasn't sure what to do with this... It's just a feeling, so how much do I listen to that when a child's life and well-being are on the line? Maybe I'm just afraid? Maybe maybe maybe. So as I continued to pray about this, I asked the Lord to please bring a family forward before I went to visit the babies home - so that I could know that E has a family and we're not supposed to be her family. Otherwise, I feel like I would have made the choice to say YES to her, and trust the Lord to sort through my feelings.

The week before the babies home emailed us matching us with our little guy, someone wrote a really sweet blog about little E. Tammy - who was in the process of pursuing adoption from Ethiopia - read that blog and looked at pictures of E. She felt the Lord telling her, "You are her mommy." So by the time I met and fell in love with little E myself - helping to care for, feed, and love on her while I was in Ug - I was able to know for sure that I am not her mommy. And take and send pictures of her to her forever Mommy. Such a joy.

Because E's family had planned to pursue adoption in Ethiopia (which is a pretty slow process right now, comparitively), they thought they had a couple of years to raise the funds they'd need. Now they're needing to move pretty quickly, and I totally agree that it would be best for little E if she could be in a home and family YESTERDAY (or 2 years ago...but you know, not possible.)

They have several fundraisers going, including one that involves the chance to win an iPad... If you're interested in supporting them (and we have, and I hope you are!!) check out Tammy's blog, and tell her I said hi. She'd be encouraged :D.

Wow. For a post full of randomness, this is really long :). I guess that's what I get for blogging in my head and not ACTUALLY writing any of it down for over a month!!