Thursday, December 31, 2009

Failure before Officially Starting

Is it possible to fail your children before you ever meet them? A mother is supposed to protect her children. Yet I can't do a darn thing. In the last two weeks, I have looked at every option available to expedite, advocate, and educate myself with this adoption. These are my children, whether it is recognized legally or not, and I am willing to do whatever I can to get them home where I know they are safe. Unfortunately, there isn't much. I have already failed them. So in the meantime, I am trying to stay sane so I am not a complete basket case by the time they finally come home to us.

Many people, trying to be supportive, have said "it's all in God's perfect timing." Well, I don't think so. God's perfect timing doesn't include parents dying and children being orphaned. That sounds a hell of a lot more like Satan's perfect timing. Satan has worked his way so far into the bureaucracy of adoption it is unreal. I know God will get us through. It will be perfect timing when it really does happen, but it would have been perfect timing six months ago, a year ago, three years ago. It's going to be perfect because it will actually be happening. Another thing we have heard often is "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." Again this is wrong. God is giving us more than we can handle on our own. I know the only way I am still functioning is because I know that God has his arms around us. We may be falling but God will be there to catch us before we disappear. I think God allows really bad things to happen to draw us nearer to him.

No one ever said it was going to be easy because we have faith, our salvation, the grace from the creator himself. In fact, I truly believe the tighter you get with God, the closer your walk, the stronger your faith, the more Satan throws at you. It's like putting a big target on your back. Well Satan is working his magic. There are a multitude of emotions that have gone through this family lately.

All I have to say is bug off. Go pick on someone else. These are our children and we will wait until they are adults if we have to. My God is stronger than you. He is stronger than me. He is stronger than the courts and the governments. My God is perfect. And He will deliver us from evil. So go rear your ugly head somewhere else. Because our faith is actually stronger. Our marriage is better. And we are ready to fight back. Our journey has been difficult but we just get stronger each day. I might have failed today, but one day we will succeed at this.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking Forward to 2010

We survived Christmas. We had a wonderfully relaxing weekend. The cabin we rented was very cute. There was a few inches of snow on the ground and we had a roaring fire the entire time. This weekend away was exactly what we needed. I could go a few hours at a time not thinking about our current situation. We watched several movies and just enjoyed each other's company. I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas.

We are looking forward to 2010 and forgetting how crummy 2009 was. This year... My parents will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. My brother in law will return from Afghanistan. and hopefully we will be united with our boys. So many great joys to look forward to. Forget the past and the pain and look to the joy that tomorrow might hold.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

All I want for Christmas

So this is the fourth Christmas that I have asked for a family for my gift. 5 actually but the first one, we weren't officially trying, so I won't count it. Four years. I am tired of being told that we are learning patience. It's not patience. It's a lack of control. There isn't one gosh darn thing that we can do about it. (Short of kidnapping) and I am not about to go that far. This is the worst Christmas wait though. I have been thinking about the season and my attitude this week and this is what I have concluded.

Today and Tomorrow is about God's promise. For thousands of years he told of a Messiah. Tonight we celebrate the birth of the Messiah! We celebrate God's kept promise. I know God says that he will grant us the desires of our hearts. I know that he will keep his word. If there was ever a promise to break, it would have been sending Jesus to the Cross for my sins. So I am uplifted. I know God will bring us our boys. We will be parents and our children will no longer be orphans. Another of God's promises.

So God grant us peace and wisdom. Thank you for Your Son and Our Salvation. And oh yeah, Happy Birthday!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Staying Busy

I must admit I am doing o.k. If I am busy, I can keep it together. But if I stop or am alone for a little bit, my mind and emotions get the best of me. Today, I am going to run many errands. So this should be good for me. I have some last minute shopping to do and then I am going to plan the menu for our long weekend. I am so excited. I can't wait. It snowed all last night so it should be very pretty up there.

Yesterday my sister, who was so supportive, and I went to many stores exchanging and taking clothes back. Many of the receipts will expire soon and if the kids don't come until summer, none of the clothes would fit by next winter. It was so hard. I truly felt like some one died. I made it through all the stores without crying until I went to Osh Kosh, where I returned the first outfit that I had bought them. What a crappy situation. What a bummer. Oh well, It's just stuff right. My boys are still safe and well. Just not with us.

Please continue praying for my kids, for the adoption, for our marriage, for strength and for our faith. Thank you for every one's prayers and kind words. It means so much to us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

48 hours later

We are still confused and hurt. I have been piecing information together trying to make sense of it all. I am in no way saying this is the absolute truth, but I think I have an idea of the timeline and process in which our boys were made originally adoptable and now are not.

June- the boys were placed in the orphanage and on the waiting list with CHI
Aug- Nick and I inquired about the boys background
End of Aug.- the Ethiopian Courts closed
Sept- We accepted the referral (the paper work begins for our orphanage)
Oct.- MOWA has a week of meetings for new guidelines (This is when they changed the relinquishment rules) Then the courts re-opened
End of Oct.-Director of Orphanage passes away (most of the paper work has been completed by him along with the relinquishment from father)
Nov.- New director takes over
Beg of Dec- Paperwork is redone and he brings our boys to HOH.
Beg of Dec- They are turned away because they were missing a piece of paper from MOWA
Last Week- New director is told they are not hearing relinquishment cases
Today- Anger, grief, sadness, faith and yes fear.

The explanation as we understand it:
The MOWA is writing new guidelines or restrictions to the relinquishment policies. While they are writing the policies, the local governing branch has decided to wait for the completion of the new guidelines. The only silver lining is that our boys will still qualify regardless of the guidelines. It's not an IF we can bring them home, its when we can bring them home. So we are just waiting.

There are somethings that are very different in Ethiopia. First, you can not question government officials; you can be thrown in jail. Second, We have been told not to contact MOWA as the boys are not legally ours and we can not represent them. Third, communication between Ethiopia and us seems to be vague. (If a question has not been directly asked, then the info is not divulged.) Fourth, our agency is closed for the next two weeks so we wont know much. Fifth, there is no way for us to contact the orphanage directly.

Thank you for all the support and prayers. They are much needed. It has been very difficult. It is hard to explain the situation to people because I tend to fall apart. We are trying to stay positive. This is easier because we both know with every fiber of our body that God has set a path for these beautiful boys to be our sons. So like I said we wait. In the meantime, Nick and I are taking off for Christmas. We rented a cabin with no other cabins in sight and we are going to hunker down for the holidays. We look forward to playing games, talking, reading, cooking and watching movies together. We need to get away and relax. I have been a big ball of emotions for the last two months and this week has taken everything out of me.

Please continue to pray. Pray for our boys to be safe. Pray that they are brave. Pray that they feel loved. Pray that the Hearts of the government officials are softened and this blows over quickly. Pray that we endure the pain and learn from it. Pray that we continuously look to God for strength. (It's easy to let Satan dissuade us) Pray that Nick and I support each other. Pray for the millions of other orphans that don't have parents who are ready to sell every thing they own just to be with them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Update

Today we had a conference call with our agency. Apparently the region where our boys are located, Asela, is no longer handling relinquished cases. The MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) will not sign our paper work because they aren't doing relinquished cases. What does that mean?

That there is no way around them and we are on hold till they decide they will handle the cases. So... we were told to be patient. It might only be days, could be weeks, even months before our paperwork will be completed and we can finally get a court date in Addis.

I can't handle being patient any longer. My children are being raised in an orphanage now. They recently lost their mother and their father is in prison. That by my standards is not relinquished. There is no parent able to care for our children. So for some jacked up reason, our kids are now paying the consequence.

It looks like they may end up spending an entire year in the orphanage. It kills me. I truly feel like someone has ripped out all of my organs. The kicker is... We are the only case that is affected so I am sure there is no rush. I am happy that no one else is going through this, but why oh why did this have to be us.

I am trying to stay positive... but all I can do is cry. I am crying for myself, my husband and all of the missed opportunities we are having to bond and love, for some bureaucratic BS that no one can explain.

I am at a loss. I am taking all of their clothes back to exchange sizes because they are going to be too small already. I knew this road would be bumpy, but today we flew of the bluff. We are waiting to land and assess the damage.

WTF

12 weeks of the most Anticipation EVER!!!

Today marks twelve weeks since the official referral. Please God, let us get a court date soon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Silver Lining

I am going to start with the Greatness of God first. Then the frustrations later. Changin' it up for once.

Okay, so this waiting has not been easy but I decided to turn my attention away from the adoption and focus back on God. It was the best way I could have ended my week, last week. On Saturday, I was able to meet with our Pastor and a couple of great people from church in Redlands. We met at a great restaurant, Martha Greens if you are in the area, for breakfast. Before we ate though, we prayed together then separated to pray for the people in Redlands. We walked around the downtown area, in the rain I might add, praying. I was able to walk with a great friend and we prayed together for people everywhere. I was able to focus on God's calling: to share God's love and word. I felt wiped clean and renewed. Awesome. Then we ate, a delicious warm breakfast, and talked. It was a God filled morning.

Then today, I was having a difficult day with two boys in my class. They can not stop arguing. The day ended with a suspension. While I was having a conference with his mom, my wonderful coworkers prepared the library for a surprise shower for our kiddos. I came in to the library with my principal and there was the cutest cake. On one side was the US and the other was Africa. In the middle was a plane. (I forgot to take a picture before it was almost gone.) I was completely surprised. Everyone was there and no one spilled the beans. Almost, but I was clueless. I work with the best people. The five members of my grade level are great friends. I am truly blessed. Not very many people can say that they would choose the coworkers to be close friends even if they didn't work together. So Again, I am blessed.

On to the Crappy week and a half.
1. Last Tuesday I was run into by a woman who thought it was wise to drive with her window completely covered in ice. She thought she new the road well enough to drive blind.
2. Worked a whole lot on my days off.
3. Caught a really sore throat. Cough, fever, the whole gamut.
4. Was told by our agency that the reason we are still waiting, is that there isn't a high priority from the orphanage to bring the boys and paperwork to the capital because it takes all day to do it and they are waiting until there is more business to conduct. So now, they decide to be more efficient.
5. Lady that hit my car seems to be lying about actually having car insurance. There is no record of her with her insurance agency. Great!
6. My school district screwed up the amount being taken out of my paycheck and they want to take two thousand dollars out now this month to make it up. I inquired twice to make sure it was correct and was assured it was.
7. I spilled a pot of soup on my legs. It was scalding and I blistered my legs and ruined my favorite jeans.


So after listing the bad week I had; I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought. The car can be fixed. Everyone was safe. Working on my days off is helping offset the cost of travel. The sore throat only lasted 4 days. We have uninsured motorist insurance. We booked a wedding which is about the amount of the money we owe the school district. And my legs will heal soon, I hope. So there is always a silver lining. Sometimes you just really have to search for it.

Let's pray for Good news about our boys soon. Tell everyone you know to pray.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What I deserve?


This was my scripture of the day...

Does God treat you the way you deserve?

Praise the Lord, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He ransoms me from death and surrounds me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle's! The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly. He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to anger and full of unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we desire. For his unfailing love toward those who love him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west.

Psalm 103:1-12 NLT
What did I learn today? Stop whining and start praising. Because I should be thankful!!!

Thank you Lord, for you are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Thank you for becoming the least of these. Thank you for being just. Thank you for your word. Thank you that I have been given the opportunity to know, love and worship you. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for the daily blessings, of food, a warm home, clothing, a great job, a loving family, the freedom to worship you. Thank you for the men and women fighting for that freedom. Thank the people you sent before us to fight for you, Lord. Thank you for the people you have sent today to fight for you Lord. Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do. Thank you for my sons, Lord. I know your plan is bigger, better and different from mine, Lord. Please help me not to be so self serving that I do not learn from this journey. I trust you Lord with my heart, mind, and soul. I give up my worries to you because you are my God. Please forgive me for my sins.
Amen

Cookies and Babies


Tonight we are going to decorate sugar cookies in with our Bible study. The people in our Bible Study are more than that. They are family. Both Nick and I are blessed to have the greatest families. Our parents are very supportive, loving, caring and we have a lot of fun when we get together. So we feel all the more blessed to have this extended family through Christ.

These people have seen us through our high times and our low. God has truly put this group together to help us through life. Each person brings their unique gifts and love. I can say I have cried with these people more than any others. There have been tears of joy, pain, loss, sympathy, anger, laughter, and fear. I have never felt judged. Only love. We all come with our silly quirks, but everyone is accepted for who they are.

So tonight, we make cookies. These cookie decorating parties are really a psychological evaluation to each person's soul. We have the perfectionist, the bedazzler, the Arts and Crafty person, the momma, the abstractist and the eater of the cookies (me). It is really funny to see the final productsw. Some look like Martha Stewart's Masterpieces and some look decorated by someone's toes. But the best part is that they all taste delicious.

And this afternoon I am fortunate enough to take pictures of our neighbors 6 day old baby boy. I am so excited. Babies are only newborns for a few days. So to be able to capture this is truly special. Well I am off to a day full of blessings. Maybe we will hear some good news today. Here's to praying.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ready and Waitng


I was not created to wait. I do everything quickly. I am a problem solver. I am a go getter. If there is an end then I will find a way to get there. However, starting a family has been nothing but a waiting game. While we were trying to get pregnant, you waited through your cycle. Looking for the signs of ovulation and then waiting for the dreaded "time of the month" only to be crampy and bloated. Then the waiting would start all over.

Then we went to a doctor. We took lots of test and alas... more waiting. Waiting for results, consultations, recommendations, and then the bill to it all. We decided that was not the route for us. So we then started researching adoption agencies. We finally decided on CHI and applied. Low and behold we had to wait again. I had to turn 25 before they would accept us. It was only a few weeks away but it was more waiting.

Then we finally got all of the paper work done, got it turned in and some of it was older than 6 months and had to be done again. So round two was finally finished and the turned in our gigantic Dossier to our agency. We were actually on the official waiting list, which was supposed to be 4-6 months. Well ten months later, we were still waiting and and that was when we first laid eyes on our beautiful sons. Unfortunately someone else saw them that same day and requested their information. So I felt it was a sign and that we were meant to continue waiting until our family was ready.

A month later our sons were back on the list and we prayed. This was the first time I didn't mind waiting. I knew God was working and talking to us. Every time I opened the Bible there was more scripture that pointed the direction we were meant to go. Two weeks later we knew without a shadow of a doubt that these boys were meant to be ours.

We accepted the referral only to be told there was more waiting. We would wait on our social worker, and then the agency to have some of our paperwork changed over. Another 3 weeks passed and we officially accepted the referral. The next set of wait time was 3-4 months. This was to be until we were able to actually pick up our kiddos. Well BS. It will be longer. There has been one unforeseen delay after another. Every time we talk with our case worker she is "confident I will have good news for you soon." Well I guess soon is relative. I want good news like five weeks ago. It has now been 10 1/2 weeks and I am sick of waiting. We are the last to get a court date. The only kids not moved to the HOH. Our boys are getting older every day! The time is now. We have waited, we have been patient, we have been kind.

It is time for some people to get the lead out of somewhere and get the paperwork done. We are done waiting. The boys have got to be done waiting. IT IS TIME!!! So please pray for good news soon. Even if it's just that they were moved. There is another family traveling in less than 10 days and it would be great if we could get some updated pictures. It would make it feel real. Right now it feels like we are being duped. I know we aren't, but despair is seeking in.

We keep seeing others get court dates, and we are excited for them we really are, but it is frustrating to be passed up. If you are still reading my complaints... thank you. If not I understand. There has been a lot of grumbling lately. I guess I was created to wait after all, whether I like it or not. Somethings are not in my hands. Nothing is really.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fundraising

For the first time we are trying our knack at Fundraising for the adoption. We felt like there were better needs that could be met other than our adoption. Like funding the actual orphanages. However, we didn't factor in the price of two one way tickets back. The kids are old enough that there is no reduction. And in all the research we have done so far, the one way tickets are close to the same price as the round trip. Scary!!! For Nick and I to fly round trip it's about 1900 and for the kids to go one way, it's about 1500, so we are looking at 7000 just to travel. That's not including a place to stay, food to eat, and excursions. Aye Yaye Yaye!

So we are doing Holiday photos that go purely to the adoption. If you know anyone that lives in So Cal, we are taking family portraits for a very low fee. I am also doing Boudoir photos for any ladies that are stumped on presents to give their man this year. The photos are very tactful and only accentuate your beauty. Once women start they have a lot of fun. And their hubbies enjoy the final product as well. If you know anyone who would be interested, send them our email its Unforgettableportraits@gmail.com.

So far we have raised about $600 dollars. Thank you active participants. We love you dearly. Yeah, we are chipping away at the travel costs. The prospect of having to start family life in debt is going away. Wahoo!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Moon--Team Jacob


So tonight my Twilight friends and I finally got to see New Moon. I read these books on Christmas Break one year. I could not put them down and went through some separation anxiety when I finished the series. I felt like I lost a few friends when I was done. I know that this is like 17 year old romance but it's so much more.

The interactions and emotions of the book are described so well that your body actually aches for Bella. This was not captured in the first movie. I know it was a low budget film and all but there was some major let down and did not live up to the book.

New Moon however, improved 150%. The desperation of Bella was still not on target; but I think they didn't want people getting depressed for 2 hours. The actors have matured some and the effects were actually good. I am glad Victoria had fiery red hair in this film as opposed to the strawberry blond she was in the first film.

I must say the entire time I read this series, I was pulling for Jacob. He is the fun light hearted not all full of turmoil guy. I love how the relationship ends though. Very Clever Stephanie Meyer!!! I am so excited that the second flick rose to the occasion because the books were so good. Thank you Hollywood.



And on the adoption front, we heard some news today, not sure if it was good or bad news but our agency didn't know that the boys father had not yet relinquished his rights until this week. They did not tell us this till now? Ten weeks later? But the good news is that he did relinquish his rights and they can get moving on the paper work. So yeah!!! There was a reason for the hold up after all. It's just that no one knew why. So hopefully not that hoop has been jumped through we can hear some good news. Please keep praying for us, our boys, and all the orphans throughout the world.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Spirits are Up

I have spent several days down in the dumps. I am usually a very bubbly, happy, positive person but the last few weeks have been very difficult. (For many reasons)

This week at church we had a guest speaker. He encouraged us to write down our blessings. Write a list like we did when we were kids writing out our Christmas List. He said amazingly enough the moment you start thinking about it, the more gratitude you have. Well I did this today with my fifth grade students. I started and they wrote their own lists. We had fifteen minutes of silence and very quickly the lists were being flipped over to use the back of the papers.

This worked so well to encourage me. I know there have been set backs to Nick and I starting a family. But each set back has lead us to something new, different, and better. I am not sure how this delay is making us better. But I know it is.

This weekend we decorated the tree and Nick hung the lights on the house. Here are a few pics.





I absolutely love having the house decorated. There is a type of cheer that is undeniable to everyone. When we were done decorating we sat down, drank some hot cider and watched Elf. That is a great Christmas movie. Very happy and the happy elf is adopted.


Oh yeah and the best part of the weekend... we woke up on Saturday and there was snow on the mountains and hills all around us. Everything seemed so clean and new. So I figured it was time to clean up and get a new attitude.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Relax

The courtyard at Thorton


Yesterday my sister and I decided to take our Mom in-law's to Thorton Winery. It is this beautiful winery in Temecula. It is a little different from most of the wineries in that you are seated at a table and you are served. You can choose your theme of wines to choose. My favorite is the reserve flight. You start with a tasting of champagne, move on to their estate Syrah (which is to die for), proceed to a delicious cab and finish with a zinfandel. It is the perfect adult afternoon. There is great food, great wine, great location and great company.

I am trying to do all of the things I love that will go by the wayside once the kiddos come. I am ready to hand over these activities but that's because I have been making sure to get my fill now.

Today is one of my favorite days of the year for two reasons. I start baking which won't stop for a couple of months. Today I will be making loaves of potato bread, pecan pie and maybe a pumpkin roll. I love cooking. Even though it's supposed to be 85 tomorrow :( I am excited to start the oven up and start baking. Then today is the day when we get the Christmas decorations down from the garage. The lights will go up on Saturday and hopefully the tree will be up by the end of the weekend. We are those crazy people that stand in line early Friday morning for the sales. We have saved lots of money getting the electronics we need in the past. Ooohh I love it. People are usually in a great mood and there is a commodore between all of us crazzzzzy shoppers.

So here's to turkeys, pies, lights and shopping. Oh yeah and the absolute best part: Lots and Lots of family. Which means get ready to laugh.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Blues

Thanksgiving is this Thursday... I know that there is so much to be thankful for. But I am a little frustrated. No, that's an understatement. I am pissed.

A friend was going to take update photos of our babies this week while she was picking up her sweet little Marley, but due to the miscommunication from our agency, that won't be happening. I have never been pregnant but new photos is the adoption version of feeling the baby kick. It makes it all real. We have been staring at the same pic since July. Not that they will have changed that much, but right now I feel like we just paid a whole lot of money and went through the emotional journey of a life time to be given a photo and that is supposed to be good enough.

With the delays from the embassy and the delays from the orphanage (our agency says there is no delay but it's been almost 9 weeks since referral) it is driving me crazy. I am quickly unraveling. It would be like getting to your ninth month and being told to wait two more months because the doctor didn't file your paper correctly, so hold on and don't get mad because it was an honest mistake. Oh and on top of that, if the nurse hadn't told you you wouldn't have known why anyways. Yes! That's what we were told when we inquired. (And during that two months your baby could be in pain, sad, scared, sick, tired, hungry... you don't know because someone else is in charge of your baby, not you.) Is that supposed to make me grateful, appreciative, trusting?

I don't think so. What kind of response is that. It's like, I'm sorry we told you it was a cold but you really have this incurable disease. We misfiled your lab results and you could have been cured but now you can't. Ahhhh. It's absolutely maddening. I am rolling through this constant situation in my head. I guess this is part of parenting. You are constantly worried about your children. I just wish there was something some one would do to remedy their mistake other than say oopps. I know that things are different in Ethiopia. But this is why there is the American agency that is supposed to ensure things are done correctly, and if not, at least make sure something is done to correct it. Or so I thought.,

I don't want to be all complain-y right before Thanksgiving; I know there is a lot to be thankful for. It's like trying to be thankful for water when your drowning in it. I know not as drastic as that... No one is sick or dying but my goodness, when can we get off the ride and start life as a family?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Time in Little Ethiopia

Last week I went to LA to turn in our updated home study. We needed a new one because the old one expired and Immigration required it. We could have mailed it in but with our luck, it would sit on some one's desk in the wrong department or something. So my sister and I drove to LA, we hit no traffic which is a blessing in itself, and hand delivered the document. We were in and out of the Federal Building in 20 min. That item is checked off. What a relief.

Brooke and I decided to eat lunch in Little Ethiopia. It's on Fairfax between Washington and Ethiopia, if anyone is wondering. We ate at a little restaurant that had a vegetarian buffet. This is the fourth time we have eaten in Little Ethiopia. I feel like a horrible mother because I do not like the Injera. Injera is a crepe-like bread that is really sour. It is the base for meals. Most of the food is cooked like a stew. They then place the different stews on top of the Injera. You then tear off the Injera and pick up the bite of stew. I like all of the stewed vegetables. They are cooked with turmeric and onions, garlic and ginger. The flavor is really good. But I have a hard time eating the Injera with it.

Here is a picture of the meal. I didn't think to take a picture until I was half way done, so its a little messy.


The reason I feel like a bad mother: the only like, hobby, interest listed on our kids referral was Injera. Insert sinking stomach feeling.

We decided to go shopping in the Merkato and an Ethiopian Clothing store. We first entered and the smell of incense and maybe hookah was so thick. It takes you by surprise. But after a few minutes you can adjust to it. On the left side of the market the wall is lined with Ethiopian movies and music. There are flags, books, pictures, clothing scattered on the right wall and sitting at the counter are three Ethiopian men. In the back are ingredients and spices and Ethiopian beer.

After gathering the ingredients to make a few recipes, including Injera, we started a conversation with the woman behind the register. We showed her pictures of my boys and she was so excited for us. She was excited that they were older. She told us how to pronounce our oldest' name. I am glad she did. The true pronunciation is beautiful. She then told us how they make the lentils and vegetables. She gave me her number if we have any problems with translating or if they are home sick. She was so gracious and excited I was reinvigorated.


We then went across the street to the clothing store and the lady there was just as excited. We both bought a necklace. She said we had to bring them in and then told us information about the country. She told us about the area where the boys orphanage is located. She said it is in the country side. It is a poorer region where it is very rural. She said we need to make sure we get out there because it is beautiful.

I feel so blessed that this wonderful resource is so close. We can take the kids to get a very small taste of home. We plan to go once a month if that is possible.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grace Amongst Chaos

This weekend was a difficult weekend. Everything that could possibly go wrong did. It started with a broke down car, proceeded to delays in the adoption, moved to canceling date night, continued on with a really rude cat lady at the grocery store, endured a broken sensor on our camera during a photo shoot (which ended the shoot in about 15 min), and finalized with our TV breaking. All this occurred on Friday and Saturday. I felt like whatever we touched, talked about, worked on, broke.

But two glorious hours on Sat, we worshiped. Not with music or even a message. We were able to be part of a group that packed bags of food for people in Tanzania. Through Africa Harvest of Hope, we packaged 25,000 meals in two hours. Talk about glorifying God. It was the best two hours I have had since we got our referral. Whatever frustrations I was having were totally removed. The entire time I also had a thought that somewhere someone else could be packaging food for Ethiopians. This food might go to a distant relative, family friend, or the orphanage of my boys. The world immediately felt small. And God seemed so big.

Thank you for blessing me God. Even in the chaos of the world problems; God is so much bigger. I will learn. I do trust. I have faith.

Check out this organization. It started with a local couple that not only wants to make a difference; they devised and carried out a plan to make a difference. They broke the huddle and got in the game. They are very inspiring. www.africaharvestofhope.org

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More Setbacks = More Heartache

On Friday, we received a call from our case worker. I was expecting her to call sometime soon to tell us that we have a court date. All of the referrals from the same week as ours have received their court date.

She started the call with "I have some bad news but your boys are ok." Never good words to hear. The director of the orphanage where our boys were is no longer with the orphanage. He is the person who gathers most of the paperwork for the court hearings. Oh No! She says there won't be delays because the courts and MOWA are stepping in to keep the process rolling.

This is good news no? Well you see she proceeds to tell me that our boys are still at the orphanage. There was a mix up and one of the papers was not filed and our kids are still at the orphanage. This is where tears start to roll.

First, How on Earth did they not know where our kids were? This is kinda their job. Who knows what could have happened and no one would have known because they were supposed to be in Addis, not the orphanage.

Second, There is a family traveling next week that was going to take some updated pictures for us so we can see how they have grown. Information is very limited. I was excited to hear how the interaction went. Are they shy, boisterous, outgoing, playful, sick? Now that may not happen because they haven't been moved yet.

Third, At the House of Hope, the transition home, they start preparing the kids. Again, not happening.

Fourth, if this paper isn't filed how much longer until the rest is filed before we can get our court date.

I know that trials are supposed to bring us closer to God. I know I am relying on God. But Satan sure is testing faith. Our boys need to come home. They need parents. They need consistency. Please pray for our kids. Pray for the courts. Pray for Numan Orphanage. Pray for expediency. Pray for justice. God says the orphans will get fathers. Pray for that. Pray for God's will. And if there is time Pray for my sanity. I feel like I am losing it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Love, Love, Love


This weekend was filled with love. It started with the exchanging of wedding vows between my best friend and her best friend. It was a beautiful day. Beautiful setting, Beautiful Bride, and Beautiful ceremony. It was small and intimate. Just what the couple ordered. Now they are spending 2 weeks in Jamaica. What a way to spend the first two weeks of your married life. I am so excited for them.

"I Do"
Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Lastra
Watching the Bride and Groom

Then on Saturday we had our adoption shower. I know that we are blessed. We both have an amazing family. Our parents are so supportive of the decisions we have made in life. Our siblings are funny, loving, and make our life fun along the journey. Our aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents are all so eager to meet the two newest members of the family. And then there is the extended family, our church family. We have been blessed with great friends that have known us since childhood. So there is this huge group of people that have been praying for our family. So now that the time is near, we all got together to celebrate.

What a celebration it was. The merriment in the house was so joyous. People were filled with questions and anticipation. All of the kids were eager to meet the new members. They were disappointed to learn that their cousins are still in Ethiopia, but they were excited for the occasion. There was so much food. We ate tacos until our hearts were content. It was so much fun. I was overwhelmed by the amount of love.

Our boys are already taken care of. They have clothes for all seasons. Awesome bikes, video games, board games, lots of great books and all of the little boy toys you can imagine. Thank you to everyone who joined in our celebration. We know that we are blessed in so many ways. We love you all and look forward to a life time of memories.

Here is one shot of all the presents for our kiddos. We were told that we would now need a storage unit for all of their gifts.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oh the joy of being a Bridesmaid!!!

This Friday, tomorrow, I am the bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of a wedding and it isn't just on the wedding day. But this morning I was thinking about all of the times we have had together and I felt so honored to be part of such a momentous day.

I love being married. I like being a wife, homemaker, friend, opposition and a lover. I think being married is God's greatest gift to people. I love that we have a choice. We choose our mates through quite a tedious process. (Well it should be anyway.) We go on dates, introduce them to our family and friends, share our secrets and most intimate moments and then after weighing all the negative against the positive we make a decision. If all the good qualities outweigh the few annoying ones, we have a match.

I got married early, we were twenty one. I have watched so many people go through the dating process. I think the more applicants there are the harder the choice. I love the fact that Nick and I didn't come to our relationship wounded from others. People will say "you missed out." or "how do you know that there wasn't someone else out there." But no matter how long your list is, this question still exists. So if the question is there regardless, isn't it easier to not have the long list of broken relations and pain? Just a question to the skeptics who think people who get married early are naive.

Nick and I know each other's stories because we were both there. We know our pasts better than any of our friends know us. We know what makes each other tick and why that makes us tick. Yet we were still pliable enough to grow together and share our commonalities, such as religion, politics, and humor.

I am so excited for Heather to join the journey. I am not stupid enough to know you don't have to fight for your marriage. But I know that she and Omar are a good match. I have watched her grow. She has learned to stand up for herself. He pushes her and she pushes back. They are equals in each other's eyes. I think that is very important. They both do things to make the other person happy. Again, this is huge. It can't be one-sided. So tomorrow at 4 o'clock after all the hair, make up and pictures, I get to be part of, witness to a God created moment. A moment of completeness. When two people make a promise to each other that their own needs are no longer first. A promise stray to no other. A promise make compromises when needed. A promise to be a best friend. And a promise to protect each other. What joy it is to be a Bridesmaid!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

National Adoption Month




This is National Adoption Month. It is quite timely. Our church has made a promise to support IJM, International Justice Mission, a really proactive organization that helps rid modern day slavery, sex trafficking, illegal seizure of property and many other crimes that God truly hates. We also belong to the Mocha Club. This organization takes 7 dollar donations, (the price of 2 mochas) and donates to different needs in Africa. We are currently supporting orphanages and education through the Mocha Club. Of course we are adopting the two most beautiful boys in the world. And yesterday my mother-in-law hosted two very gracious Ugandan boys from the Matiska Children's Choir. I feel like there are signs from Africa all over the place.

So last night we joined Kathy, my mother-in-law, and the two boys and chaperon from Uganda. The boys were 9 years old and 14 years old. The bright smiles warmed my heart. They were so cute. They were polite, gracious, and soooooo positive. They talked about being the first in their families to ever travel on a plane. The nine year old loves swimming and the 14 year old is totally fascinated by roller coasters. They talked about how cold the weather in Seattle was. How strong the coffee is and how Americans love their sweets. Everything was great, exciting, and happy. I loved every minute of that dinner. I started thinking about my boys and all of the stories that I hope they will remember from Ethiopia.


We finished the boys room just in time to learn that there are going to be delays in our time line. It seems that the MOWA, Ministry of Women's Affairs, need more time to process the paperwork in between Court and the Embassy appointments. This whole process has been a whole lot of hurry up and wait. I have never been so emotional in my whole life. We are so close, there is this big bright light at the end of the tunnel, yet it seems like the waiting will never end. I spent this weekend being angry at the "injustice".

I was mad. I have never been this mad before. Never. It was quite frightening. I prayed and my thoughts tended to lead right back to being frustrated at the people who were holding our kids hostage. I finally fell asleep Sunday Night and when I woke up I felt much more at peace.
I believe a big part of this has to do with my blogger friend, Elisa. When she heard the news, mind you she was supposed to travel later this week, she resorted to James 1:2 Consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. I looked to a person I have never met but feel connected to very strongly and she had peace. And was working to find the joy in the situation.

I am not joyful that it may take a month longer but I am joyful the my God is faithful. I am joyful that my boys are safe. I am joyful that we no longer wait for the unknown. I am joyful that we have so much support. I am joyful that there are so many people that are waiting to love our kids. I am joyful that we are in the position to be able to afford this adoption. So thank you Elisa and thank you Lord.

I am joyful that it is National Adoption Month and there is more awareness for orphans around the world. Please pray for the millions and millions of orphans that don't have parents waiting to love them.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

This was our first year since our marriage that we have not had a huge Halloween Bash!!! With all of the preparations for becoming a family, we decided that this year was too busy. Good thing. We went and got all of our vaccinations on Friday. Yeah!!! One more item to check off the list. Shots were not bad but we woke up Saturday all feverish. Needless to say we were very happy that we were not transforming our home into a haunted house for the evening.

We were fortunate to join some great friends for chili and trick or treating. It was laid back and mellow. Just what the doctor ordered. Nick went trick or treating with the other husband and their children. The look on Nick's face was priceless. He absolutely loved walking around with the kids throughout the neighborhood. He was so excited to do this with our sons next year. It made me fall in love all over again.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nesting

This part of the journey is very difficult. I thought waiting the two years prior was hard, boy was I wrong. Knowing that your children are under the care of someone else and at the moment you are a number waiting for an appointment with an Ethiopian judge is not comforting.

I know that the House of Hope, (transition home) is a very loving place and that our children are being loved on and cared for, it's just not the same as having them in your own care.

To keep my mind off of many thoughts, I have been getting things ready on the US front.

First we ordered bunk beds.


Next we tackled the mess that was of the spare bedroom.

Then the beds were delivered and we assembled them.
(How many people does it take to assemble bunk beds? 6! yep it took 6 of us.)


Nick installed a new light which required him to into the attic to run wires,
While I painted.

Then we painted the tribal and animal border. Thanks Laura-Lee!!!


This week we hope to nail the baseboards back up and put the room in order.


In the meantime I have bought the bedding, an art kit, a few toys and am beginning to pick up some clothes for the kids. I love shopping normally, but to finally be able to buy things for the boys is so much better.
We have registered at Target. That was a lot of fun. There are so many things that we need for them. Usually by the time someone is seven they have seven years of things that they have accumulated. Not the case for our kids.

So much to do. Unfortunately we have a lot of time to get it done.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ups and Downs, Ins and Outs

Over the last 25 months I have read so much about adoptions, adoption parenting, attachment, Ethiopia, manuals, procedures, etc. Yet I keep getting blind sided by different steps or paperwork that comes up in the process to bring our kiddos home.

Last Wednesday I was finally able to take our addendum, change to our initial age request on our home study, to the USCIS office in LA. My mom went with me and we had a nice day together. We sat in the office with the parolees, because apparently adoptions and parolees belong in the same small office of immigration, and watched as people came and went. I finally was called up to this small little window where I had to stand on my knees. I handed over our paperwork again.

She said it was all up to par and told me to wait while they typed up the appropriate paperwork. We were given the paperwork, an appointment to be re-fingerprinted and were sent on our way.

The following Friday, Nick and I were re-fingerprinted and a huge relief was taken off my chest. The weekend was a busy one but it was nice to know that there wasn't any adoption paperwork that hasn't been done.

That is that we knew of... Monday after work we received a call from immigration stating that we needed to have a home study update in addition to the addendum. So I ask our case worker what that entails and she said basically regathering all of our info. Background, medical, career, recommendations, all of it. That was it. This was were I finally felt overwhelmed.
Tears fell. So I called our social worker and they directed me to the quickest way to do everything. So tomorrow we are going to get fingerprinted with the state of CA and get our vaccinations.

I will take this one step at a time. But today, my mom, my sister and I are going to the Day Spa. We are going to relax. My brother in law flew to Afghanistan this morning. So stress is high on the radar in our family this week. But if we take it one day at a time, we are going to make it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is shining on two little boys who are our sons.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Missed Posts

I was unable to post during the acceptance of our referral. We had some technical difficulties. But I managed to journal. So I am going to add my journal entry.

September 12th, 2009
We are going to be parents. FINALLY. Our boys, our boys, I can't believe it, are 7 and 4 years old. We have been praying on this decision for a few weeks. I was so certain, then I panicked. Would I be able to parent a 7 and 4 year old? Would I be ok if I never had an infant? Is our little condo big enough for four people? Was their past more than we could handle? Would they attach to us? They will always remember their biological parents, so will that lessen our role somehow? But tonight we prayed. Silent, on our knees, it was us and God.

God has called us to love. I have never been so sure of any decision. All of my fears, questions, are gone. During our prayer tonight God spoke to us. At the same moment we both knew it. I had the image of all the warrior women of the Bible. Nothing God has ever called us to was guaranteed to be easy. Shoot, why would I think parenting would be easy. God is amazing. I know we were spoken to directly by God.

We have are a family of four. We sent off the email to our case worker and called my parents.
My poor dad was on his way out to work, it was 9:30 at night, but I told him to wait. They were waiting in their driveway, We had their picture on my phone and showed them for the first time their grandsons.

TEARS everywhere. Of course there are lots of questions but so many happy smiles were in that driveway. We talked for a few hours and finally made it home. In a few months, this home will be filled with children's laughter and giggles, the absolute best sound in the world.

I am so in love!!!! I know every mother thinks that their children are the most beautiful children in the world, but mine really are.


Humbled by God's Love

This weekend I was unable to attend Church. My best friend is getting married in three weeks and we had a girls weekend in San Diego. I received a text message from Nick that brought me to tears. It read... families from church handed me an envelope of cash to help bring the boys home.

A very dear family hosted a block yard sale and gave all of the proceeds to us to help bring the kids home. I was so taken back. I know God's love daily. But God's love through his people is equally amazing. I can not tell you how surprised, humbled and thankful I was for this gift.

Thank you

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Long Time No Post...

Well the past months have been so wonderful. God is Great....

In September, we accepted the referral of the two most beautiful boys you have ever seen. Here is the story of our adoption.

In 2005, Nick and I decide to start thinking about a family. I had been hospitalized for a week which required me to stop taking birth control, at this point in our marriage the idea of planning for a family seemed to be crazy but if it happened without really trying it was ok. So in 2006 we actively began trying to start a family. I did not realize that trying was another word for making your intimate life a second job. After the first month I was bummed but hopeful. Time passed and after a few months I began to "Research" different approaches. There were teas, diets, positions, times, pee sticks... you name it we tried it. Well needless to say months turned into a year and that was when we sought after medical opinions.

Well after many embarrassing tests, we were thrown into the unknown category for infertility. I was quickly learning that not every goal is attainable through determination. Our doctor told us our options and we went home to begin our decision making. The entire year was filled with prayer, tears, anger, dependency on God and our family. We watched as friends got pregnant with their children and then had their children.

We were given the choice to continue the goal of creating life from Nick and my own DNA or look into adoption. After much prayer we chose adoption. The choice to adopt was easy for us, there are millions of children without parents, and we were parents without children. After researching agencies, countries, policies and of course the financial impact, we chose Ethiopia. I feel like Ethiopia chose us, but that is a whole different story. So we applied to Children's Hope International, Ethiopia Program.

And... We were originally declined. Because I was only 24 and we had to be 25. I had 3 more weeks before they could officially accept us. So on Sept 8th 2007, we were accepted into the Ethiopia program. And the paper chase began. Who knew there were so many agencies that had to do with us. Banks, police, immigration, work places, references, the list goes on and on. After redoing many of the paper work because it took to long to complete the process we were officially placed on the list on October 7th.

The wait begins... We were originally told 6-10 months for siblings. That wait became much longer by December. In May we chose to request singles or siblings. The wait was starting to mess with my mind. Nick was solid. Definitely the Spiritual leader of the family. He was strong through the whole wait. Constant prayer, some fasting and lots of love.

In July, our boys were placed on the waiting list and the moment I saw them I was smitten. I have never had a moment where I felt like God spoke directly to me, but at that moment I knew these were going to be our boys. I told Nick and he asked me to pray for them for a week and if I felt strongly we would pursue with them. My prayer was simple. "Lord protect and calm these boys. If they are meant to be our sons, let it be clear; if not let a loving family take them quickly. Make them brave keep them safe."

Answered prayer. They were off the waiting list the next day. I felt confused. Why did I feel so strongly for them? How could I make this feeling up? I prayed for them and their new family every night. I still checked the list to see what was happening. August 20th, they returned on the list. At this moment there was no doubt in me at all. This was our answer to so many prayers. We requested their information and finally was able to speak to our case worker on Sept 1st. We prayed and prayed for peace in our decision.

On Sept. 12th we officially replied YES!!!!!!!!! We were now waiting for an interview with our social worker to make sure we would be qualified to parent a 4 and 7 year old. On September 16th our social worker told us we were approved it was going to happen. I cannot even explain the overwhelming joy I experienced during that call. Nick was at a training in San Luis Obispo. We spent the next 2 hours staring at the kids picture while on the phone with each other.

September 25th we finally were able to sign the referral form from our agency. So it was 11 months 2 weeks and 6 days since we were placed on the waiting list. We can now say we are parents. I can't say that word enough. I love it. It one of the best words in the world.

I am a Mom and Nick is a Dad. We have two sons. God has blessed us with an immediate family. And now the real waiting starts. I did not realize how hard it is to wait, knowing your children are not here. Some one else is taking care of them. We are not there to calm fears, kiss booboos, blow kisses, wipe tears, hear them laugh. My only sanity rests in that God has saved these boys for us. And right now they are learning about compassion from people who dedicate their lives to the orphans of their beautiful country.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

LIfe is...

Life is uncertain. This is about the only guarantee you get in life. One minute you feel as though the whole world is crashing around you and something small such as a smile from a stranger or a card from a friend can start to lift your mood. I am just so thankful for my faith and my God to get us through the tough times.

Life is perfection. I just had a lengthy discussion with a friend about why believers still have trials. The timing was kinda crazy because we just discussed this in our Bible Study. God's timing is impeccable. I don't know if she came any closer to God on this day, but I do know that knowing what God says about trials and being able to relate His word to her will be a link in the chain to her salvation. I have been her friend for over ten years and this was our first discussion about my faith and what trials have done to my faith. Some may say the timing was coincidence, but I believe it was God's.

Life is heartbreaking. At the moment, my sister and brother in law are moving all of their belongings out of their little home and into a littler room at my parents. You see, my brother in law is in the reserves. He will be joining the forces in Afghanistan soon and my sister did not want to live alone for the next ten months so she moved back in with my parents. Amidst the battle of moving, they are also saying good bye. Try saying good bye when you have all your friends and family crammed into an 800 square foot home. It is awful to watch. People start crying all the time. They are so strong.

Life is joyous. Here is where those trials come back into play. The trials of my life require me to depend on God more. Thus I read his word, become more absorbed, and more aware of the the Holy Spirit. Talk about joy. Remembering we are not alone... What more joy can you have.

Life is vicarious. Several times a day I read adoption blogs. These are blogs of strangers who I feel close to. I read about their days and it is awesome to see the various steps along the way. I read several blogs of families who have returned home. (I can only hope my children will be as beautiful) I read blogs of people waiting to travel, waiting for court, or waiting for referrals. (We are still in the latter group) I know that there are children waiting for us but it is reassuring to know of others who are going through the exact same emotional journey.

Life is life. We never know what will happen next. We don't know how much more time we have or how we affect those around us. I am just happy that I have the life I live with the people I live it with.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Time...

Time is such a relative concept. When you are a kid the summer seemed to last forever. The days of sunshine, splashing and Popsicles seemed to never end. We get a little older and it seemed as though our sixteenth birthday would never near. OR those long lingering seconds right before your first kiss seemed as though time stopped.

But as we turn into adults time seems to get away from us. Casual weekends turn into trips, errand running or just your run of the mill days but they tend to fly by. It's amazing how little we stop just to enjoy a beautiful day. A whole month has gone by since my little fifth graders graduated elementary school. A whole Month. This is craziness. (I have managed to let a few days linger.)

Any how, on the 8th of this month was our Nine month mark of waiting. When we started this process we were told 6-10 months tops. Well that doesn't seem likely. August 12th will be two years since we started this process and September will be 4 since we started trying to have a family.

Time again is a conundrum. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "It's all in God's time", "You are getting good practice in patience", "Once you have your child the time will be forgotten." While I know these are all true, I have heard every pregnant person complain around 7 months that they just want to see their child. 4 Years!!! That is a long time to wait when you are ready to be a parent. I could have another college degree by now. Some friends are on their third child in the time it is taking us to have one.

My, My, My! I am praying/pleading with God that our child is with us or at least we know who he/she is before Christmas. So please pray for all of the children without parents and the parents without children because everyone can always use God's Love.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

5 years!!!

Today is Nick and my anniversary. It has gone by so quickly. We were some of the first of our friends to get married and many people said we were too young. Well, I think they were all wrong. I absolutely love being married. I don't know who does not want to be connected to your best friend forever. God gave us the greatest gift when he gave us matrimony. There is no one who will love, understand, or comfort us like our spouse.

I am truly blessed to have found such a patient, understanding, intellectual man. I know there are so many days that I take him and our relationship for granted, but when I slow down and think about all the wonderful memories (there have been some not so wonderful memories too:) I can't help but smile and thank God.
It's amazing how much you can do in 5 years. Moved three times, many vacations, bought a house, started a church, made and lost friends, lost family members, been in numerous weddings, started our careers, started our own bussiness, changed careers, tried to start a family, and started an adoption. Through all of the ups and downs, I know in my heart, there is no one else I could have made it through all the trials with other than Nick. I not only made it through but ended up with a smile on my face. I have truly loved being his wife and can't wait to be the mother of our children.
Here are some wedding photos...





And some from the other day...



Oh how the time flies!!!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Schooooool's out for Summer

Well June 12th came at last.  Didn't quite seem like the last week of school.  We are having unusual weather in Cali.  Last year, at the fifth grade promotion was a day of 112 degree sun.  This year was a very cool 58 degrees. The promotion went well and I will miss this group.  

I have one little boy whom really came into his own this year.  He pitched in half the amount for a new suit for graduation.  he had earned $75.oo so he could look "successful and distinguished."  He looked so sharp and his parents were the only in my class that could not make it.  It broke my heart.  

He explained that his father is very sick and went back to Mexico because they couldn't afford health care in the US.  He is being sent back with his older brothers to help earn money.  He said he will only go to school part time in Mexico.  He left this morning.  This little boy raised his reading level by three grades and brought his math scores up two band levels on the CST.  This is quite an accomplishment for a student that takes care of three little ones after school so his mom can work two jobs.   He explained that he was ready to join the workforce and take care of his family because that is what men do.  This little boy has the weight and responsibilities of most 30 year olds and is doing it with more integrity than many of the "fathers" I have met.  

 I am praying that the situation changes and he gets to be a kid again.  He is in my heart constantly.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fifty Years


We were blessed to have the opportunity to meet an incredible couple this weekend. They are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversery this weekend and we were able to take photos of them. This is quite an accomplishment now a days. They said the key to fifty is "To have the same religion, politics, and sense of humor." They were so cute... and we learned so much in the short time we had with them.

Blessings of Life

This was a crazy weekend in our household. The type of weekend that makes you sit down and have some serious God time and count all of your blessings. My Aunt (46 years old) had a brain aneurysm this weekend. The symptoms were quick. Apparently only 50% of people survive the outcome. We were so fortunate that the aneurysm did not rupture. It leaked, causing a severe headache and confusion. The surgeons were able to preform a coil embolism (spelling?) which is the best treatment. They place several small platinum coils in the vein in her brain, through a vein in her leg. The surgery was successful and she is expected to make a full recovery. No delays, no problems. Modern Medicine in amazing. But God's small blessings, family, friends, love, sunsets, emotions and lastly, GRACE is inconceivable. Thank you God for your Daily Miracles.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

11 days and counting

I have a delightfully, brilliant, sweet 5th grade class this year. I have great memory after great memory of their shining faces. This week however, my elementary students became middle schoolers in heart and attitude. I love them dearly and am sad to see them grow up.

I know they are equipped with skills that will lead them down many different walks of life. Each one destined for something different. I wish we could keep track of them and be there to encourage and cheer them on in low times. Be there to pat them on the back in high times. And be there to just smile and tell them I told you, you could do it when they achieve great things.

Next year I will share a contract look forward to getting elementary students back. It is amazing how quickly the year flies by. Good Luck class of 2016. Looking forward to seeing you achieve great things.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Surrogacy


I have directed my motherly instincts into a very small salsa garden. I am not your typical green thumb. Until this recent venture I have killed every plant I have ever owned, including the unkillable Bamboo in water. But this little garden is different. Or maybe I am different, who knows. I come home every day and inspect for bugs or weeds. I love to water it. The dogs get to run around while I am soaking in the sun and tending my little garden. I measure its growth and compare it to my Dad's very large garden. ( His tomato plants are 3 x's the size of mine and they came from the same 6 pack.) I don't care that my plants seem behind in growth, they are growing.


I kind of feel like these small delicate tomato plants are like my unknown children. They need my attention and I give them what they want. It is not your typical garden. It is in a little planter in our front yard of our small condo. They are not growing at the "typical" rate of the other plants but they are perfect for our small house hold.


I am sure I sound crazy and I am not saying gardening is anything near parenting but at the moment I can focus and enjoy one of life's slower things.


And guess what? Today the first tomato appeared. Look at the picture above. I was so excited to see it bearing fruit. Seems perfect to me.



Saturday, May 16, 2009

Love The Sun

I must say that living in California has its perks.  We are so blessed to be graced with so much sunshine.  I love the family time we get to have at my parents house around the pool.  Nothing beats the whole family getting together to swim, lounge, and barbecue.  I think we can say, it is officially summer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Wonder and Miracle of Prayer

Today was a day of faith for the Crain Household. We found out this morning that the wait for our children could be close to 18 months till the referral and close to 22 months before we bring them home. Apparently our request for siblings under the age of 3 is quite popular. This was unknown to us.

The last few weeks have been pretty slow on the referrals for our agency. This is due to a number of factors. None of which any one or agency is to blame, well except the few people who try to break the rules. But this was no one at our agency or any way affiliated. In fact our agency is dedicated to following a strong ethical code and making sure all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted. However, this has slowed down the number of children being referred at this time, even though the number of orphan children continue to rise.

So this morning we talked with our social worker about breaking points. She told us we could change the age we have requested, change to a single child, or continue to wait it out. So far there is one family that has been waiting 14 mos and still no referral. After we got off of the phone with her we realized yet another way we pictured our life could be different. We are not making any rash decisions. We are going to pray for a while and wait til we feel peaceful about a decision.

If you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for the Crain's. If you don't believe, still pray!!! It is truly the best we can always do. Because we can't do much without Him.

Monday, May 11, 2009

26 weeks and counting

We are ready!!! I guess traditional pregnancy is 40 weeks so I shouldn't expect less than that. Can you believe that we have been approved for that long already? Wow. Time is going quickly.

Last One Hopefully...

I survived! Mother's Day is one of the hardest days of the year for me. It took some major perspective to get through this one. I truly thought last year was going to be the last Mother's Day without children. That's what I get for making plans I guess. I am constantly reminded I am NOT in control.

It's one of those weird things, people did not know what to say. I could see them contemplate it before it came out. You wish someone Happy Birthday, they say thank you. You wish someone Happy Mother's Day, they say You too, for the future, er. Akward silence. I made many feel uncomfortable yesterday, but I made it. Tears were shed, but big surprise there.

There are so many strong mom's in my life. My own mother is the best role model I could have asked for. She was the perfect balance of dedication to her children, husband and above all, God. We were never discouraged from our dreams. Thanks Mom.

So many of our friends are GREAT mothers. Everyone has their own spin that seems to work so beautifully. Some are incredibly patient, others are creative, some seem to multitask without blemish and another is perfect for enjoying every moment. I am so fortunate to be part of all of their lives.

I recently finished the book, "Grace Based Parenting." It is a parenting style that reflects God's Grace for us to our children. I loved it and my husband is getting ready to start it. Talk about a role model. Why shouldn't we model our parenting after God's constant Grace? Best Line: God doesn't give us what we deserve, he gives us what we deeply need.

I have 364 days before the next day dedicated to Mothers everywhere. Hopefully that will include me next year.