Saturday, September 29, 2012

Date Night {With My Boys}

It is not often that Jason and I do something with just the boys, but last night we had an opportunity to do just that!  (Thanks Mom, Lydia loved Grandma Night!)

We used our (nearly) free baseball tickets that we earned from buying gas this summer and headed to a Brewers game.  This was the perfect lead-up to Jack's much anticipated upcoming 11th birthday (which he is planning on celebrating with a baseball-themed family party).  And, the giveaway last night was Bernie Brewer Rally 'Staches ... totally Samuel's style!
Love these boys (all three of them)!

(And, yes, Rita, the idea of using the 'staches for Christmas card photos did come up multiple times last night ...)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Treasure

Yesterday was a typical fall Saturday which began with the boys having soccer games in two different places at overlapping times.  It was my turn to go to Jack's game which just happened to be in a nearby town that has a great little Farmer's Market.  Jack had a great game (his team had their best game ever, Jack with two goals and every boy on the team scored a goal ~ it was so awesome to see the boys working together towards the end and purposefully trying to ensure that they were passing to each other so that everyone would have an opportunity to score, and it was great to see that despite the big victory, there was good sportsmanship). 

Anywho, I digress. 

After the game, I bribed Jack with the promise of a treat Jack was eager to walk through the Farmer's Market with his Mama.  But, I got a little distracted by a nearby "General Store" that drew me in.

Let me give you a little background, a few weeks ago as I was going through Lydia's outgrown clothes to pull some out for Nora (yes, a nesting phase), it dawned on me that we would need something to put Nora's clothes in.  The boys share a room, and the girls will share a room.  The closets in their rooms are not big (and the boys have one of their dressers in their closet, and the girls have a bookshelf in theirs with a bit of room for hanging sweet little dresses).  Lydia's clothes are in a changing table / dresser that my brother graciously made when I was pregnant with Jack.  Phew, maybe too much background ...

So, in the past few weeks Jason and I have gone to a few local antique barns and found some dressers that could be cleaned up with a little TLC and made into the shabby chic vision I had.  But, we had sticker shock (not to mention the time investment that would be needed to turn my vision into reality).  So, we also went to furniture stores, Hobby Lobby, Target, etc., but everything seemed so pricey and not well-made.  I was coming to accept that Nora's clothes might just be in a Rubbermaid for a while.

Until Saturday ... and our find at the "General Store" ... love. 
And, the price was less than many of the put-it-together plyboard dressers at the retail chains, and I negotiated a little.  Just because I could.  Seriously.  I'm kind of embarrassed to even say how much we paid for it ...

An amazing lesson for Jack as well, showing him how God provides, often when we least expect it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The TA Wait Begins!!!

I was going to do a (Nearly) Wordless Wednesday post today with a photo of Jack from this past weekend with his face painted ... with a unicorn ... a pink unicorn ... with glitter. 

Instead, just confirmation that our "Article 5" (see this post) was issued today, and we are now formally "patiently" waiting for our TA (Travel Approval).  This is typically issued two to four weeks after Article 5, but there is a national holiday in China the first week of October so that may slow us down slightly.  We're still praying for our TA on the early end of October with travel in late October / early November (typically two to four weeks after TA, dependant on when we can get our appointment with the US Consulate in Guangzhou).  We received an e-mail confirmation from the US Consulate in Guangzhou today confirming that Article 5 was issued and this is how the e-mail ended:

"We look forward to meeting you and your new family member when you come to the Consulate for your visa appointment!"
An explanation point and everything!  Us too, US Consulate, us too!!!!  We cannot wait for you to meet this little one of ours.
This is one of the photos we got with an update in early August.  I hadn't posted it before because well, I'm kind of in love with this girl, and I was kind of selfishly hoarding and studying this photo.  You will notice the deep look of concentration as she studies her hand.  After following Ashley's blog HERE and their journey to bringing their "Little One" home, I find it fascinating to see that their daughter's comfort mechanism was her sweet little hands.  I have posted a link to Ashley's blog before, but this post and this post, from China, speak so eloquently to their daughter's comfort with her amazing hands.  Ashley wonders if it's just a phase of her daughter discovering her hands or if it is from hours in a crib with no form of stimulation ... I wonder too ...
And, I really shouldn't do this, but it's my blog so I'm gonna ... and, I'm pretty sure that this is going to end up in a high school slide show ... and, I couldn't just leave you wondering about Jack's face painting, I figured you might want proof yourself.  Crazy kid!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

Pure Sweetness
A Glimpse Into a Senior Picture Pose, Perhaps?
Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 ~ Picnic by Owen

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Few Words on Being Cabled and Some Phenomenal Links

An update as to where we are at with bringing Nora home ... we are cabled.  So, what does that mean?  This means that the National Visa Center has approved our visa petition to adopt Nora, and they have "cabled" (i.e., electronically sent) our file to the US Consulate in Guangzhou.  We received this notification on Tuesday.  And, yes, this was also the first day of school for Jack and Samuel ~ love how Nora was a part of the first day of school.  God is good!

The approval from the National Visa Center, the application we completed for Nora's visa, and our referral acceptance from China make up what is known as "Article 5".  Following?  It sure is confusing and I often find myself re-referring to explanations and e-mails from our agency to refamiliarize myself with this part of the process.  Our Article 5 was dropped off (by in-country staff of our agency) at the US Consulate in Guangzhou on Wednesday.  The Consulate takes exactly 10 business days to process this paperwork and then issues our Article 5 to the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) in Beijing on Wednesday, September 19th.  This then begins the official wait for our Travel Approval (TA) from the CCCWA.  I love it!!!  The travel approval is essentially our invitation to come get Nora.  Travel approval typically happens 2-4 weeks after Article 5 is issued and then travel typically happens 2-4 weeks after that.  Still with me?  It's complex! 

So, as you can imagine I have counted, recounted and fully scrutinized the calendar.  We know we will travel in God's timing ... but still I analyze the calendar and the timelines of others who have recently gotten their travel approvals.  In doing so, looks like we could be in China in late October / early November.  Seriously. 

As we wait, Jason and I have been spending a lot of time doing more research on many topics ~ more research on life in the orphanages in China, more research on caring for a "creatively lipped" baby, more research on attachment and bonding, etc.  We have been uncovering a lot of information, some is painful and hard to digest, some is real-life stories filled with hope.  Incredible. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, I'm going to post links to some of the blogs and resources we have found to be helpful and encouraging.  Some of you may not be interested in these, but some of you may.  Plus this is a good place for me to link them so that I can easily refer back as well. 

A caution, some of the links that I will post will share the hard stuff.  Adoption is hard.  Raising children is hard.  Likewise, some of the links I will post will share the head over heels joy and will clearly tell the story of God's design in adoption.  There are stories upon stories that clearly portray the joy of adoption and God's faithfulness and grace in adoption.  I pray that as our journey continues that it is evident that this is His story and that we will be honest with the hard things and that we will clearly give Him the glory in the good things. 

So, to start, just two links (warning, while it's just two links, these beautiful women and their families will draw you in so you might as well cozy up to your screen with perhaps a coffee or tea and enjoy):

Angie Weldon, mom of sweet Emery, a creatively lipped little one from China, shares her heart on her blog.  In this post HERE, she beautifully articulates Emery's non-verbal world.  I encourage you to explore Angie's blog further.  Angie writes beautifully, and she is quite witty. 

And, HERE you will find a Q&A on cleft lip and palate on Ashley's blog.  Again, take a minute (or likely longer) and explore Ashley's blog.  Amazing!  And, Ashley and her family just returned from China with their little one.  Precious!

And, because no blog post is complete without a photo.  Check this out, the only piece of clothing we have purchased for our Nora ... Love. It.  Won't she be sweet wearing this on the day of our US Consulate appointment in China?  The day she officially becomes a US citizen.  And, don't fret, just because we've only bought this one piece of clothing for little miss, she will be well dressed and accessorized after raiding Lydia's too small bins.  Nope, no worries folks!

"We love because he first loved us." 
1 John 4:19

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School (2012)

The first day of school is upon us as are our traditional first day photos.
The Fifth Grader

Yes, today marked Jack's first day at the Middle School.  And, he had a fabulous day.  So thankful ... this is the first year that Samuel hasn't been at the same school as Jack, but he did great as well!
The Second Grader

Last night as I was looking forward to this morning it dawned on me that I likely wouldn't get my photo of the boys together this morning as Jack starts an hour ahead of Samuel.  And, many of you know that Samuel isn't one to get up early.  But, much to my surprise I ran in the house this morning after packing up the car and there he was, all dressed and everything. 
The Boys - September 4th, 2012

And, when it was time for Samuel to go to school, our little firecracker also wanted to be in a photo (oh girl, how long before you are protesting getting your photo taken with bed head and jammies on?! Too soon, I'm sure!).
And, yes, the boys, on their own, chose their first day outfits which included their Bringing Home Nora tees from our fundraiser.  Jack also took some family photos for inside of his locker, including one of Nora.  Love these boys!  They are rough and tumble, but they also have soft and compassionate hearts.

Here's to the start of a new year ahead, sure to be filled with adventure and growth!