"Tell your children of Him, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation." Joel 1:3

Monday, January 31, 2011

Step 4....Done!

Last week I emailed our social worker to just check in and see if there was any word on our article 5. This is the step that goes to the US Embassy in China and the last one before the TA (Travel Approval). They said they hadn't been notified but that they would contact the liason there and see. Well, I got word this morning that our article 5 was sent on to CCAA (The Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs) LAST WEEK! Now, it is in their hands and they are the ones who will issue our travel approval. This step generally takes about 2-4 weeks, but with Chinese New Year coming up and that being a long lasting event in China where nothing Governmental is open for a bit, there could be a slight delay. But still.....2-4 weeks is so close and we're already a week into it!
Once we get our TA, we will get the specific dates to travel nailed down and will be on our way about 2 weeks after that point. Oh my gosh, it's really gonna happen quickly all of a sudden. We're suuuupppppeeeerrrr excited!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Livi's package

I recently got a package together to send to Livi at her orphanage. I had sent a small one back when we first got our LOA that had a Ni Hao Kai Lan sticker book in it, but wanted to do something bigger and more fun. I wanted to wait until it got closer to when we would be going there to send her the photos of us because I thought our pictures would be more fresh in her memory. I'm really hoping that the people at the orphanage will show her the pics and help talk to her a bit about them. I've heard many stories and it could go either way....some are really great about it and some don't do much, so we'll see.
We got a doll, some hair bows, some Hello Kitty stickers, some socks, some pj's,
a coloring book with crayons, and a photo book with our pictures.
I printed out the Chinese characters to label our pictures.

The address label for her orphanage....

Spelling Bee

On Wednesday last week, Tyler was in the school spelling bee. He won in his classroom so he got to move to the next level. There were 12 kids between 6th and 8th grade. It was at 1pm at the school and he wanted to make sure I was going to be there, which of course, I was. I admit, I wasn't too overly excited about it. I certainly didn't mind going and wouldn't have missed it, but I just figured.....I'll go, listen to some words being spelled, and go home. In fact, I thought if Tyler got out early on...I'd just sneak out sooner.
Somehow this sounds worse as I write it than it did when I was actually thinking it....
I got there just as it was about to start. The whole gym was full of students and teachers and the kids in the bee were up on the stage. The principal gave a quick talk about how it was going to work and what to expect and then said they would do a practice round first.
Tyler was #9 of the 12 kids to have his turn. When it came time for him to step up to the podium, he was given the word..."citizen".
"I'm sorry, that is incorrect"
Tyler sat back down, shoulders slouched, with a grin that told me he was slightly embarrassed about getting his first word wrong. I looked at him, I looked at my watch....1:05pm....Dang, I thought, I can get outta here pretty early. As I was thinking this, I started to laugh.
Actually, I started to get the 'church giggles'. You know, the laughing you do at totally inappropriate times....where your shoulders shake and you're trying so hard to be quiet.
I don't know why....it just happened.
I just couldn't help it. Something about the look on Tyler's face and the fact that my first thought was "yay, I get to go" rather than "oh, my poor baby" just struck me funny. Maybe it was guilt and I was trying to mask it with laughter.
The worse part is that there were other parents sitting behind me wondering, I'm sure, why the heck I thought it was funny.
Within a couple minutes, once the last kid spelled his word, and just as I was about to sneak out the back door....the principal got up and said "okay, that was our practice round....now we will begin round 1".
Oh my gosh, the practice round....I had totally forgotten. That didn't even count.
My whole focus shifted and suddenly I was clapping and rooting on Tyler....which if I would have really thought about that, would have made me start laughing all over again.
Well, long story short.....not only did Tyler NOT miss his first word, he went on to win the whole dang thing. Each round as more and more kids got knocked out, there he sat....having gotten his only misspelled word out of his system back in the practice round....and spelled every word after correctly.
I was so excited, I never knew spelling bees could actually be so much fun! I guess it really doesn't matter what it is...if it's your child involved, you can't help but like it.
As they started to hand out the ribbons and trophy to him, I nudged another mom with a camera and asked her if she could take some pictures for me since I hadn't brought mine with (seriously....who would have thought I needed a camera for a spelling bee).
I was really proud of him and now he will be going to the state competition in March. I"m afraid we might not be here for it since it could be while we're in China, but if we are I will be there in the front row.....with my camera....cheering him on....and NOT laughing.

I'm sure am glad I didn't leave early.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Catching up

Time to get back to keeping up my blog. It seems like lately I will post almost daily for a while and then not for a week or more. So I have so much to talk about.....here goes.

We're still waiting for our article 5. This is the 4th step of the 5 we have to go through to get to Livi. It is a process that averages 2-4 weeks and, as of today, we are at 3 weeks. This means that any day now we will be moving on to the last step. Once the US Embassy in China issues the article 5, they will forward it along with all our other documents to the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs). When CCAA gets it, they will issue our TA....travel approval. This step takes 2-4 weeks also. Once we get our travel approval we will go to China within 2-3 weeks. I'm getting more and more excited about it every day. When we get our article 5 we'll apply for our Visas to travel and it will definitely feel more real during those last few weeks. I can't believe we're getting so close. If we got our article 5 today and our TA in only 2 weeks from now....that means it's actually possible for us to travel in about 4 weeks. That would be crazy. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Favorite things

I figured if Oprah can do a whole hour long show on her favorite things....surely I could do one post.
Two main differences.....
Not one person reading this will get even close to being as excited as her audience does....
and you don't get to keep all the things listed.
But other than that...it's exactly the same.
Just thought it would be fun.

This won't be a list of fancy gadgets...cuz, frankly, I don't have any of them.
But here goes....

1. I LOVE my computer and the internet. Just today, I was on the phone with the a new dentist office making appts. for the boys check ups and when she asked if they were due for x-rays at this next visit, I just hopped on my insurance site and looked up their last appt. Done. And when I was making dinner, I needed to know how much fiber was in celery....just typed in my question and viola. Done. When my sister gets sick of the winter weather, which is often, and wants to see what the temp. is in Cancun at this very moment, she just looks it up. Done.
Pretty awesome when you think about it.

2. Pay at the pump gasoline. Seriously....this is the best thing ever. Especially when you have small kids in the car and don't have to bring them in just to pay....and when it's 10 below outside in the winter, you can hop back in the car while it pumps and drive away when done.
This is, by far, my favorite invention the the 20th century.

3. Wrestling. Okay, so this isn't really a tangible thing...but I LOVE watching the boys in wrestling. Not the "at home on the carpet in front of Jay and I while we're trying to watch a show" sort of wrestling....the kind where they're at school, on the mat, with an apponant, and doing awesome things that impress even their coach. Sooo fun! I have to be careful I am not the crazy mom yelling from the side. I get close.

4. DVR! Um, does anyone seriously watch commercials anymore? We don't. If we want to watch something, we'll purposely wait until about 30 min. in to start it so we can fast forward them. You can watch one thing, record another. You can catch a movie on Lifetime that aired at 3am. You can pause it when the kids are interrupting and being loud. You can get up to go to the bathroom or make some popcorn and not miss a thing. You can rewind it when you didn't see something...or when you did and it was so awesome, you want to watch it again. And you can get your hubby to watch Oprah once in a while because it was a really great one that even he would like. BEST invention of the 21st century....so far.

5. The Wii. Jay and I, for a long time, wouldn't allow any gaming systems in the house. We just had no desire to have the kids be spaced out in front of some shoot 'em up video game for hours on end. When the Wii came out, it seemed like the perfect way to get the best of both worlds. The kids could play their games, and we could let them knowing that they were actually up on their feet and moving around with it. It's also been a great source of family time and game nights. It is a little crazy though to see your 7 yr. old master an Ozzy Osbourne song on Guitar Hero on expert level while I can't even do beginner on an easy song.

6. Digital Cameras. Remember when you used to bring 5 rolls of film on vacation and hope that half the pictures turned out nice. Or when you got them developed and realized that none of the ones you were really hoping for worked. It was expensive and they pictures never even looked nice. I love that you can go on a week long trip and take 1000 pictures (I almost did that on our cruise) and have it not cost a thing and be able to have tons of great ones. Sweet. The only down side to digital photography is that you really don't have the good old photo albums tucked away in a trunk that you or the kids can pull out and look at once in a while. I used to love that as a kid. Sometimes I think I'm gonna get tons printed and put in albums. We'll see.

Isn't this fun? hehe....

Those are the main things that stick out in my mind. I'm sure there's more, but those are my can't-live-without things for now.
My honorable mention is McDonald's Diet Coke. Not Wendy's, not Burger King, not a can bought from the store......McDonald's. I don't know what it is....I seriously think they add something to it....like Heroin. I'm totally addicted. What can I say, I have to budget for it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tanner

Today, my baby turned six.
So, of course, he got his #6 pancake for breakfast

Though he reminds me often lately that he's not the baby anymore.....Livi is.

He's been the baby for longer than any of the other boys ever were so it's hard to see him getting older.

We ate homeade mac n' cheese and cheeseburgers for dinner cuz that was what he picked.....

...we watched him open up his presents

...and we ate brownies with ice cream and whip cream

It was a good birthday!
Happy Birthday, Tanner. You'll always be mama's baby.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Feeling a little unsure

I had to get out of the house today. I've been feeling so lazy this week...just tired and unmotivated to do anything at all. The sun is out and the weather is a balmy 17' so I left. I went to Target to pick up a few needed items, but as it always is with that store...you never actually leave with only a few items.
I didn't go crazy....I never really do. But I did find myself just wandering slowly through the toy and baby aisles looking for things to bring to China for Olivia. I want some things for when we first meet her (and more importantly, when she first meets us) to catch her eye and distract her from will certainly be a difficult day for her.
I got some bubbles....what 2 yr. old can resist that.
I found a little magna doodle.....an idea I got from another bloggers pics from her gotcha day.
I bought some little girl socks and little girl tank top undershirts. These are things I hadn't really thought about til recently.
I would like to be able to bring her some little finger foods like Cheerios or raisins. Something to offer her and calm her. The problem is, we just don't know what we can give her. We have no idea, and probably won't until we see her, what sort of surgeries or repairs she's had done to her lip and palate. We have to go into this not expecting anything to be different than her photo we've been looking at for 4 months. I don't know what we'll feed her.
Can she only have soft foods?
Or can she have things that are easily disolved or mushed in her mouth?
Then I stopped by the cups to find a good sippy cup. Something with a soft top to sip from. Something with a 'no-spill' feature. But then it occurred to me. If a baby can't suck a bottle with an open palate, what makes me think she can suck on a sippy cup top. Especially the kind that won't spill....you have to work at those to get anything out.
I found myself just standing there looking at the 50 different options and feeling like a first time parent with absolutely no idea what to get for her.
Back when I really was a first time parent, I would tackle those things head on. Not intimidated by it at all. Just made a decision and picked one, knowing that it wouldn't really make a huge difference.
But this time....this time was different. It does matter what I get.
The biggest thing is.....how will I find out. I can talk to other parents of children with clefts, but it won't be Livi's story. And she can't tell us what she likes to eat and what she doesn't.
This will definitely be a learning experience in parenting. Seems sort of weird to feel unsure about it when it's our 6th child.
I know it will be a huge learning experience.
I'm ready for it....I just hope she is.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Adoption song.....precious

This is such a great song.
Though I wouldn't expect anything less from him.

All I really want
Well I don’t know if you remember me or not
I’m one of the kids they brought in from the home
I was the red-haired boy in an old green flannel shirt
You may not have seen me – I was standing off alone
I didn’t come and talk to you, ‘cause that’s never worked before
And you’ll prob’ly never see this letter anyway
But just in case there’s something you can do to help me out
I’ll ask you one more time

All I really want for Christmas
Is someone to tuck me in
A shoulder to cry on if I lose
Shoulders to ride on if I win
There’s so much I could ask for
But there’s just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas is a family

Well I guess I should go ahead and tell you now
If it’s really true about that list you have
Somehow I always seem to end up in a fight
But I’m really trying hard not to be bad
But maybe if I had a brother or a dad to wrestle with
Well, maybe they could teach me how to get along
And from everything I’ve heard
Sounds like the greatest gift on earth would be a mom

All I really want for Christmas
Is someone to tuck me in
A shoulder to cry on if I lose
Shoulders to ride on if I win
There’s so much I could ask for
But there’s just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas

Is someone who’ll be there
To sing me “Happy Birthday”
For the next 100 years
And it’s OK if they’re not perfect
Well, even if they’re a little broken, that’s alright
‘Cause so am I

Well, I guess I should go
It’s almost time for bed
And maybe next time I write you
I’ll be at home

‘Cause all I really want for Christmas
Is someone to tuck me in
Tell me I’ll never be alone
Someone whose love will never end
Of all that I could ask for
Well, there’s just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas
All I really want for Christmas is a family

Just a family

That’s all I really need

Monday, January 3, 2011

Things given and things bought

I keep forgetting to post about a great gift I received in the mail about a month ago. It was from the couple we met at the Mall of America on black Friday. They offered to send us a baby carrier for me to hold Livi as much as possible while in China. We soon exchanged addresses and a package came about a week later.
This is what was in it.
Not only was the baby sling in it, it had some cute clothes including new pj's....
some blocks that were just like some that they had sent their little girl in China and she loves them....
and some Chinese money for us to get a snack or something while there.
Seriously, how nice was that! There are some really good people in the world.
Thank you, Kathy. I'm so glad we met you and your beautiful family.

I've also been slowly letting myself buy some things for Livi. I haven't wanted to much until now. Well, let me rephrase that...I wanted to, I just didn't feel like I should yet. But since we got our LOI, I've had some fun looking at stuff for her.
This is my recent purchase on Etsy.com that arrived today.

I LOVE, LOVE the headbands with the big ole' flowers on them. I even have bought some more flowers and hair clips to make some of my own. I have to have one for every possible outfit she'll wear. I wonder if I'll get sick of them.....nah.
I can't wait to see them on her.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday Snapshot: Life in Christmas cards

I thought it would be fun to do a post of all the Christmas card pictures I've sent out during the years.
I didn't do them every year until 2001 so there's some missing years in the beginning, but for the past 10 years they've been sent.

It's always surreal to me to look back on the first ones and wonder if I ever would have imagined then how my cards would change over the years.

I knew I wanted a big family, but to see it grow the way it has is far beyond what I could have imagined.

I remember the staging that went in to each photo for our cards.

Including one where the kids were getting yelled at and Jay and I were argueing.....can you guess which one that was?

I've loved coming up with new ideas for poses.

One of the cards never got sent out past my immediate family.....just didn't get to it and by the time Valentine's Day came around, I decided it was too late.

I still have 100 of them in the house.

The best thing is watching the family grow....

in numbers and in literal size.

And the excitement of next year is palpable....
with a new little girl, plopped right in the middle of all those boys.

What a great Christmas card that will make.

Ni Hao Y'all