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


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.

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.