Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Birds and the Bees?

Or is it the horses and the sheep? OK, so Nora watches the little foal out in our field with his mommy and asks a lot of questions. (She asks a lot of questions about everything, but that’s another story.) We’ve explained to her that the baby horse is drinking milk from his mommy’s tummy. Ahhhh! OK, that makes sense to her. She seems to get it.

This morning she wakes up and comes and climbs into our bed, bringing her stuffed toy sheep that she loves to play with. Then, she pulls up her shirt and holds the sheep close to her tummy and makes little smacking sounds. “Mommy, sheep eating from my tummy.” We’re trying not to laugh as she continues…. “Mmmmm…eat a hot dog, eat rice, eat fish…sheep eat from mommy’s tummy. Nora mommy.”

OK, so maybe she didn’t quite get the gist of how the little horse was getting milk from his mommy’s tummy. We’ll save the next lesson on the birds and the bees for another day. :-)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ethiopia Orphanage Donations

The Hope orphanage in Ethiopia (where our girls are living) has so many children right now, and they have a hard time getting all the supplies they need. Sometimes it's not just a matter of having the cash (birr) to buy things, but many items are just really difficult to purchase there. So I thought I would post this list of items they are in need of. If anyone would like to make a donation of any of the items, we will take them with us to Ethiopia and give them to the orphanage. If you'd like to donate but don't want to ship things, please email me and let me know. I will do the shopping for you. Any donation is helpful -- it doesn't have to be large. Even one bottle of children's Tylenol or one tube of diaper rash cream is a great donation.

  • Diaper wipes, disposable diapers, diaper rash cream
  • Cloth diapers, diaper pins, diaper covers, training pants
  • Sheets and blankets for cribs and older kids' beds
  • Baby bottles, bottle washers, pacifiers
  • Sippy cups and children's utensils
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Baby lotion and good quality lotion for caregivers' hands (they get dry from washing so much)
  • Children's and Infant's Tylenol or Motrin
  • Shoes and clothes for all ages, but especially older kids --shoes are desperately needed
  • School supplies
  • Girls' hair accessories
  • Books for children (Grace said the older kids love books in English and read her the same one 10 times)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Two Weeks From Today

Two weeks from today we'll be on an airplane headed to Ethiopia to bring home our two new daughters! It still seems a little surreal that we're so close to meeting them. I just had to post more pictures of our little beauties!

Ruby Negate and Elizabeth Amsalu Smith

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Nora Lynn!

Today Nora celebrates her first birthday as part of our family! This morning when she woke up she called for me, and I went into her room. The very first thing she said – still half asleep – was, “Mommy Nora four?” She has been so excited about turning four years old!

Her day is off to a great start. She has already opened gifts from Daddy (a watch he has been promising to get her when she’s a really big girl), Mommy (binoculars because she loves to use ours), Grandma and Richard (money she wants to use to buy a movie), and Nana (beautiful Nana clothes as Nora says)! In the picture above she was already outside in her pajamas wearing her watch and looking through her binoculars.

Yesterday Nora and I baked and decorated her birthday cake and cupcakes. She really wanted to make her cake instead of buying it. Tonight we’re having a little birthday party, which she’s really excited about.

As I was thinking about how happy I am to be able to celebrate this birthday with Nora, I thumbed through my journal to last year’s entry. Here is what it says:

July 24, 2007
Nora is 3 today! Happy Birthday Dao Min – Nora Lynn. I wish we could have gone to China for your third birthday, but I’m SO happy we’ll be leaving next week for China! Our itinerary is finalized, and Nora will be in our arms Monday morning, August 6th. The adoption will be finalized on August 7th! Happy Birthday Nora!

Wow, it’s so hard to believe that one year ago we had not yet met Nora. And still harder to believe that in less than three weeks we will be meeting two more daughters in Ethiopia!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Enjoying time with Nora!

While we prepare for and dream about bringing Ruby Negate and Elizabeth Amsalu home, we are also enjoying this precious time we have with Nora. In many ways, Nora has led us to Ruby and Elizabeth. Nora's love for us, and ours for her, have been such an amazing miracle in our lives. Her capacity for love, her vivaciousness, and her determination have truly been an inspiration. This beautiful little girl has gone through so much in the past year -- losing ties to her culture and caregivers, learning a new language, adjusting to new routines, foods, and a family, and dealing with blood work and tests regularly for her health. And through it all, she has blossomed into a brilliant little light in our lives. She is charming, funny, smart, and sometimes very stubborn! I'm so thankful for Nora.

Here are a few cute photos I took this morning, and they totally capture her personality. The one with the map cracks me up -- it's a map of Persia from the National Geographic magazine and she was "teaching" her animals. Then she started trying on hats and headbands and laughing at herself. :-)

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Would Gather Children

Some would gather money
Along this path of life;
Some would gather roses,
And rest from earthly strife.

But I would gather children
From among the thorns of sin;
I would seek some little curl
Or an awkward, toothless grin.

For money cannot enter in
That land of endless days;
And roses that are gathered soon
Will wilt along the way.

But, oh, the laughing children,
As I cross that sunset sea;
And the gates swing wide to heaven --
I can bring them in with me.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

ANNOUNCING...Ruby Negate and Elizabeth Amsalu Smith

Our case was approved by the Ethiopian court today! We are officially the parents of these two beautiful girls, and I can't begin to tell you how excited we are! We will be leaving the second week in August to bring them home! Thanks to everyone who has been saying prayers for us to get through court!

Here are pictures of our new daughters!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Another dog?

We already have five dogs, and that's plenty! But these German Shepherd puppies are soooooo cute. No, we didn't bring one home. Ha ha! Lisa and Iran bred their dog, Violet, and have nine puppies for sale. They are about four weeks old now and just adorable. We went to see them yesterday. I think Chris and Jonathan were ready to stuff one in their pockets and sneak out.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Positive thinking -- we WILL pass court next week!

I'm feeling better about things today and am pretty hopeful that we will pass court next week. IF we pass next week, Grace is going to do what she can to get us an August 13 consulate appointment so that we can still travel before Derrek's wedding.

If we don't pass and/or she can't get us an August 13th consulate appointment, then we will have to postpone travel until the second week in September. That would be a huge bummer and make me sad, but it's just the way things will have to go. If we can get an August 13th consulate appointment we can travel and be home with the girls for a couple of weeks before the big wedding date. If it gets pushed even one week, then it's too risky and we'll wait. We would be afraid that either 1) it would be too much activity for us and the girls to come home to a wedding a few days after our return or 2) we could have problems getting home and miss the wedding or 3) if we have any traveler's sickness we'll be sick for the wedding.

Derrek's wedding is on Labor Day weekend, so if we can't get an August 13th consulate appointment, then we'll wait until around September 6th (after the wedding clean up and send-off). Please say some prayers that this doesn't happen. I really hope we can go get our girls in August. I have a good feeling about it this time!

Friday, July 11, 2008

We didn't pass...

We did not pass court today in Ethiopia. Hope Adoption Agency's power of attorney to handle cases on behalf of Shimeliss, the director, is expiring this month so the court won't let any of Hope's cases pass. Shimeliss is heading to Ethiopia this weekend to try to straighten things out. Grace says we'll know something next Wednesday or Thursday.

I'm very sad and disappointed, but I guess not really surprised. I just had a feeling all along that something would go wrong and we wouldn't pass.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Siblings and Our Court Date

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 (New Living Translation)

I sure hope the Lord determines that the next step in our adoption is passing court tomorrow! Seriously though, I have come to believe that everything happens for a reason and in God's own time. My perspective on life and on God has changed so much over the past couple of years. The change is a direct result of seeing how many times I have NOT gotten what I wanted (or thought I wanted at the time), or had to deal with something I didn't want to happen, only to have it revealed to me later that something great would come as a direct result!

I have been absolutely showered with so many awesome blessings in my life. Today my brother and sister have been on my mind a LOT! I am so lucky to have each of them, and I love them so completely and with all my heart. My brother is younger, but always seems to play the "big brother" role by taking care of me and watching out for me. He is kind, smart, hard-working, and such a great man and father. My sister is...well, she's a sister. And that pretty much says everything. She's my best friend and my biggest supporter, a great mom, and a smart career-woman. I can't imagine life without my siblings. I can only wish the same for my kids...all four and hopefully soon-to-be six of them!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wow, this day just keeps getting better!

This is my third posting today! Our adoption coordinator, Grace, just faxed us the long-awaited medical profiles for our girls! We previously had only verbal information. These reports don't give us much more information than we already had, but it sure is nice to have them. Grace has been attempting to get these for us since the beginning of April. She just returned from a trip to Ethiopia (to bring home her son), and brought them back with her. We're thankful that she took the time to get them for us, even though she had much more exciting and pressing things going on at the time!

What a morning!

Wow, I'm really having a good morning, first the baby horse and now this... Nora has been really close to being able to write her own name, but has had a hard time with the R and the A. This morning we've been practicing, and now she can write her name ALL BY HERSELF! Check out this picture! She did this with no help at all! And she's only three years old (OK, almost four)!

It's a boy!

Born this morning, July 9! Isn't he adorable?

This mare is due very soon. Check her out -- she's as wide as a barn!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Is Goldilocks fat?

The mind of a child is truly an amazing thing! But never underestimate the conclusions kids can draw on their own!

Nora has heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears several times. Pa (grandpa) tells her various versions of it, and for months she's tried to mimic the voice of Papa Bear. Her English has only just recently improved enough for her to "tell" the whole story. This afternoon she amazed me by telling me the whole story, and she even used a different voice for Mama Bear and Baby Bear (and whispered parts of the story for dramatic effect). She went through the soup, the chairs, and the beds. I was cracking up!

But here's the really hysterical part... She never called Goldilocks by her name, just "fat girl." She determined in her own little mind that since Goldilocks sat in Baby Bear's chair and broke it then she must be too fat! How funny is that? So as she was telling me the story she would say things like "fat girl in Papa Bear's bed" etc. At the end she said "THE END" very loudly and with a really proud smile on her face and then clapped her hands!

Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE my job as a stay-at-home mom? Thanks Tony! :-)


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My Hope Friends

Today, my heart and prayers go out to my friends adopting through Hope Adoption Agency. Four families had court dates today, and all four of them did not pass and are rescheduled until July 18. Nobody knows what the problem was, but since nobody made it through, it was likely a power outage or new documentation requirement or some such thing.

Unless you've traveled this amazing and often stressful adoption road, you can't imagine what it's like counting down the days until your court date...knowing you could get "the call" and that child (or children) could officially be yours. And having to wait another sixteen days and count down to the big day again can just about send you over the edge. My heart aches for these families, and at the same time, I know it could easily be us in about a week and a half. If we don't pass court on July 11, we may not have time to get another court date before the courts close for the rainy season, which lasts about two months. That means our girls would be there until the end of the year.

I know it's important to have faith that God will bring our children home to all of us in His own time frame. I just hope he intends for it to be sooner instead of later! I will keep praying for my Hope friends and for us to pass court and bring our kids into our family where we can love them, nurture them, and hold them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Officially a Minivan Mama

Well, we finally did it -- we own a minivan! We decided it was never going to work having three kids in car seats in a Jeep Grand Cherokee (and four in car seats when Summer is visiting). Now we just need to get Negate and Hmsala home so we can fill that van up with little girls! I must say, I really am in love with those automatic-opening sliding doors. :-)