Sunday, October 30, 2011

It Is Good To Give Thanks To The Lord

Pastor Dom preached from Psalm 92 this morning. I have been thinking on it ever since then. Is has stirred great thankfulness and praise in my heart and I hope to share that with my kids as we work on our thankfulness journals this evening.
At this time last year, I was in the middle of depression brought on by long, hard trials and was so angry at God, I hadn't picked up my Bible for almost a month. We had been waiting and waiting for the girls' birth parents to have their rights terminated. I had testified in court at the Termination of Parental Rights hearing, we had waited for the judge's decision with great hope and were overjoyed when the decision came back...parental rights had been terminated! We were finally going to be able to adopt these kids! There was a 30 day waiting period, during which time, the birth parents could file an appeal to this decision. No one really thought they would, and it was wonderful when we got to the 30th day and were told that there was no appeal and therefore, we could move forward with adoption. The kids were told that it was over and that they were going to be a part of our family forever.
Two days later, our world seemed to come crashing down around us when we received a call saying that there had been some mistake, the birth parents had in fact been able to file an appeal on the very last of the 30 days and it would be 6 months to a year before we knew what the ruling on the appeal would be. It was the trial that just would not end. Even now, my chest hurts just thinking about it. I was so angry, so weary, and very much doubting God's love and care for me. I couldn't sing to him. I wouldn't read his Word. As far as I was concerned, God had failed and the enemy had won. It was all I could do to drag myself out of bed in the morning and take care of the kids. But God, in His never failing love for me, sent friends to speak the gospel into my life. I was reminded of his faithfulness over and over again in the following months. Thankfully, I can now joyfully say:

12Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law, 13to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. 14For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; 15for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. 16Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? 17If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. 18When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. 19When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
Crossway Bibles (2011-02-09). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (Kindle Locations 23942-23951). Crossway. Kindle Edition.



PSALM 92 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 2to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, 3to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. 4For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. 5How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! 6The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: 7that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; 8but you, O LORD, are on high forever.9For behold, your enemies, O LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered. 10But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; you have poured over me [212] fresh oil.
 11My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants. 12The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. 14They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, 15to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Crossway Bibles (2011-02-09). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (Kindle Locations 23911-23920). Crossway. Kindle Edition. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Waiting

Waiting for a job to open up in MN.
Waiting to move to MN.
Waiting to sign papers and officially sell our house.
Waiting to unpack (half of our possessions have been in storage and awaiting a move since our house went under contract last summer).
Waiting for the DRC Elections to take place. (Scheduled for November 28, and maybe will know the outcome by December 15?)
Waiting to take the next step in our Congo adoptions.
Waiting, waiting, waiting...
It seems like that has been our lot in life for the past few years...waiting. I have been reminded a few times lately to not JUST wait, but to live and to enjoy our lives during the waiting. I have started having a few minutes of "Thankfulness Journal Time" with the kids every night. We each have a thankfulness journal and we talk about all the things we are thankful for that day. The girls each pick one thing they want to write in their journal. Grace writes a sentence (working on vocab and handwriting), Hope traces a sentence (just to get her used the drawing the letter shapes) and colors a picture of what she's thankful for and I say aloud what I am thankful for as I jot them down in my journal.
As we have done this exercise, it has caused me to realize some of the benefits of waiting. One big benefit is that the longer we wait to move, the further ahead in our adoption we will be able to get (hopefully) before needed to redo our home study and such. We are praying that the November 28th elections go well and that adoptions will stay open.
Also, and this may seem rather trivial, but our neighborhood junk day (this happens twice a year) is this weekend and we are going to go through our belongings and get rid of anything that is broken, or in other ways just not worth taking all the way to Minnesota with us. Hopefully, that will cut down on some of the clutter and help keep me sane through the winter. :)
We have no idea if or when a position that Steve would want will open in Minnesota. We are praying for sooner rather than later, but are trying to enjoy our time here as we wait. We definitely made use of the fact that we live so close to Huber's Orchard and Winery and have a bunch of homemade apple cider in the freezer.
We also fully intend to enjoy the fact that autumn lasts so long here and the winter in Louisville is mild. We miss Minnesota, but the -0 temps in the winter will definitely be something we'll have to adjust to.
While waiting for our next two kiddos, I'm purposely trying to enjoy time with the kids we have now. I've instituted a weekly date night (Wednesday evenings), where one child gets to stay up with me for an extra hour. On Hope's week, we watched The Cosby Show together and cuddled on the couch. For Grace's date, we painted and talked. These have both been stretching times for me, as after bedtime is my time to get things done in the peace and quiet, but both date nights went very well and because of this date time, I was able to speak the gospel into my daughter's life last night.
I am enjoying the fact that Hope is still small enough for me to pick up and hold...I know this won't last long, and also realize that once we have two new little ones, I'll miss out on holding her so much as I'll spend a lot of my time carrying the new kiddos. So I am savoring the times that she still asks me to hold her.
Waiting is hard, but God is faithful, and for that, I'm thankful.

Monday, October 24, 2011

And We Have A New Reader In The Family!

Grace has been trying to read every word she sees. She is so excited to be able to sound some of the words out. Just last week, she was being super cute playing Rock Band with Steve and he said to me, "Hey Babe, want to get the C-A-M-E-R-A?" She sat still for a minute, then grinned and said, "I think he wants you to get the camera!" Stunned silence followed this announcement. We knew our days of spelling secret things were numbered, but we didn't realize they would be over quite this soon.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Last Few Months with Grace and Hope in Facebook Posts

August 2- Iris just came out of her bedroom with a helium balloon tied around her neck and she asked me if I could pick her up and hold her over the air conditioner so the air could make her fly and she could be "superhero to the rescue!" ??? She was disappointed to learn that she could not fly and that tying balloons around ones neck is just not safe. Ha.

August 2- So I was teaching the girls the "Cold/Hot" game where you hide something and then direct them to find it using "hot" and "cold" directions. Iris got tired of me saying "cold" when she couldn't find the item, so she wrapped herself up in a blanket and told me, "Okay mom, I warm now. Where is it?"

August 9- So I finally had to MAKE the kids go play by themselves. They were convinced that there was schoolwork somewhere that they just had to be doing. Good grief. Hope (Iris) sat and traced letters for over an hour today and was sad when she was finished. I think I've created a monster!

August 9- Hope (Iris) pulled out the chalkboard today and asked Grace (DeDe) to sit and watch her "be the weather lady". She drew storms and 'nados (tornados) and yelled they everybody needed to get in the basement! It was hilarious.

August 11- Grace was able to read her first few simple sentences today. She's hooked. :) I finally had to call it quits at dinner time. I can only take so many sentences made up of simple three letter words.

August 15- Had fun exploring our five senses with the kids today. Blindfolded them and had them figure out what things were by taste, smell, and touch, then had each of them find me and whichever girl wasn't blindfolded by following the sound of our voices and had them identify sounds they heard while blindfolded. They had a blast!

August 17- We decided to start our History lessons with the Pilgrims and Plymouth Plantation. Tonight, we read part of a book called "The Dreadful Smelly Colonies", which talked about the lack of sanitation, chamber pots, and outhouses. Grace responded with, "Mom, we need to pray that they will not have those yucky potties anymore. That's gross!" Ha!

August 21- My baby turns 4 today. Happy Birthday Iris Hope Casey! So thankful you are my daughter!

August 24- Hope just came out of her bedroom wearing some of Grace's dress up clothes. She punched both hands into the air and yelled. "Dey fit me! Pwaise God!" I think she's excited about growing. :)

August 25- Recently, Hope has been responding with, "Aw, nuts!" anytime I ask her to do anything. Who says that???? I am not a fan, though the first time was kinda funny because it was so unexpected.

Augusst 25- The kids are both packing up for a trip to the North and South Poles. They are planning to ride their cardboard box boat across the seven seas to get there. ???

August 30- Hope (Iris) was doing a new puzzle of the U.S.A. She found the piece that had Minnesota and the Dakotas on it and yelled, "Grace, come here! I have great news! I found Minnesota!" It cracks me up that she said, "I have great news!" Ha.

August 30- since reading "The Dreadful Smelly Colonies", Hope has been a little obsessed with the idea of an outhouse. It is just dreadful to her and she keeps worrying that we might find one and make her use it. Anyways, the girls are playing with blocks and just informed me that they built an outhouse for their princess dolls. :)

September 1- I woke this morning to Hope yelling this warning at Grace, "Hurry DeDe, Mama will be awake at any minute!" Oh boy. This could be a long day.

September 3- We bought Hope a new "computer" for her birthday. It has all kinds of letter and number games on it. She just ran out of her bedroom super excited and yelling, "Mommy, I can't believe it! I can learn vowels! I can't believe it!" So funny.

September 7- Grace is totally going to be one of those women with matching frilly aprons and rubber gloves. Probably will wear pearls as well. Right now she is cleaning the bathroom and the kitty litter box wearing pink heals and trying to be all dainty. Ha!

September 13- Is once again amazed at God's goodness in using our foster adoption story to encourage others to care for orphans. So thankful and humbled to be used in this way. Praising God for bringing so much good from that long trial. He is faithful.

September 22- so we've been juicing fruits and veggies every morning this week. Of course, Hope (Iris) LOVES the juices which are mostly fruit, or at least have a stronger fruit flavor. Grace's favorite has been the one I made that was basically a salad in a glass. Why are my children's tastes so opposite?

Sept 27- got my hair cut and highlighted today. Hope's response when she had thought about it for a little while? "Your hair's a little bit crazy, Mom. I don't like the yellow stuff. Next time, make your hair pink. I will like that." Don't hold your breath, kid.

Sept 27- Another hair quote from Hope: (With expression like a lightbulb turned on in her brain) "MOM! Your hair is like Tangled! It change color when you sleep?" Uses her fingers to search through the layers. "I see the dark stuff under here. Yep. It change color when you sleep."

Sept 29- Hope had her ears pierced a week and a half ago. We offered to let Grace have her ears pierced too, but she decided against it. This week, she said she was ready to be brave, so we took her to the store today and now both Grace and Hope have pierced ears. :)

October 4- Hope's first random question of the morning (I'm sure there will only be about a thousand more today): "Mom, how do cats pass gas?"

October 9- Grace's lunchtime joke: "When I was three, I asked for more and more green beans." She laughed at this for a while. Ha.


Loving life with my crazy kids.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Our Hearts Are Longing...


A good friend was kind enough to take some family photos for us. We asked her to make sure that in at least one of the photos we showed that we are waiting for our two kiddos from the DRC. This was my favorite.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Geography

I'm not sure why, but Monday has become our day to study geography. We didn't really plan it that way, but for some reason, it always seems easier to start the school week with geography, so we do. We spend most of the day on it. Sometimes I'll have Grace practice her handwriting skills by writing out some of the names of the countries we have studied or the names of Landmarks we've found. I also like to find free coloring pages online that coincide with what landmarks or countries we've talked about.
While in Minnesota, I found some really fun tools for teaching geography at a garage sale. There was a fan deck of cards giving info on each of the fifty states, a Jigsaw World Atlas, puzzles of the United States, a game for learning about the fifty States (which we have not pulled out yet), a "Goodnight America" book that's great for bedtime, an Egypt themed 50 piece puzzle, two Dr. Seuss books that I didn't even know existed, and a bunch of other stuff for the other subjects we are learning. I was one excited Mama. :)

This is the majority of what we've been using for Geography lessons.
The three puzzles to the left are all from the dollar section at Target. Two are 100-101 piece World and U.S. maps for Grace. The front puzzle is a 24 piece map of the world for Hope.
Obviously we have a globe and we use a deck of "Landmarks" cards, again from Target's dollar section. We pick out three new ones every few weeks and find them on the globe, talk about them, and find free coloring pages of them.
The "Where Do I Live?" book is from the library and is very good.
The Jigsaw World Atlas is a great book for the kids to work on puzzles together (has tiny little pics of the landmarks we've learned) while listening to Audio Memory songs listing countries.

I found this idea on Pinterest. Basically, we read through "Where Do I Live?" and made a circle for our planet, our continent, our country, our state/city, our street, and our house. The kids loved doing this project. I just used free clip art for the cut outs.


Love these books. They are very informative and we've taken some words from them to use as vocabulary lessons.

Also, because we are reading "There's A Map On My Lap" often now, we made maps of how to get from our house to our church and the kids now use them with their quiet time matchbox car box.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last Minute Vacation

We just returned home from a VERY last minute week and a half long vacation to Minnesota. Steve decided on Tuesday that we were going and we left on Thursday evening and drove through the night to reach Minnesota on Friday. We all had a blast! We were able to see lots of our extended family and had a lot of fun staying with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. The kids got to spend some quality time with their cousins and they now want to live in Minnesota. Which actually brings us to the reason why we took such a last minute vacation.
We had been thinking and praying about moving our little family back to Minnesota if a job would open up for Steve in his company's Minnesota location. A couple weeks ago, a job opened up and Steve applied. After the first interview, we decided we had better go and check out the town where the job was located and decide for sure if that is where we wanted to settle down. We ended up LOVING the town and also (as an added bonus) found a Mediterranean restaurant that has some pretty amazing gyros and baklava. Yay! We contacted a realtor and went out to see some houses, to get a feel for the real estate market there and see what we could get in our budget. We ended finding a house that we both love, but Steve never received a call for a second interview. Late in our trip, we heard that Steve had not been given the job. Sadness.
However, this little vacation solidified in our minds that Minnesota is where we want to be. So, we are working towards that goal, trying to sell our house and Steve is looking into other possibilities for transferring to Minnesota.
Sadly, this could set our Congo adoption plans back a little bit, as we would probably have to have our home study revised, if not redone altogether when we move. BUT, since we had already decided to wait till after DRC's elections to get on the waiting list, it doesn't seem like too major of a setback. 
Anyways, after a whirlwind vacation, it has been nice to settle back into a routine the past couple days. We are back in school and doing well. We went garage saling while in Minnesota and found some cool new school supplies. I'll post pictures soon.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Weeping and Wailing

I awoke this morning to the sound of Hope's warning to her sister, "Hurry up! Mama will be awake at any minute!" First of all, where did she learn to talk like that? And second, what in the world are they up to? Hope also came into our room to tell me that her sister had just called her "foolish". I had a feeling it would be a long day. Since it is only 10:45am as I write this, we still have much of the day to live out, but let me tell you...It has been way too long already.
Today is our phonics/ letter writing practice day. The girls, at this very moment are weeping and wailing in their beds. I sent them there after trying to patiently calm them down after introducing something new. For Grace, it was the "an" sound followed by "man, can, fan, tan". We never got farther than "man". Since we have been doing "at" words, she was convinced she knew how to read and wouldn't have to learn any more. Introducing a new letter grouping did not go over well. She wants to just guess at everything and not have to sound it out. This would be SO much easier if every word we ever said ended in "at".
While I was working on phonics with her sister, I had Hope at the chalkboard (her favorite place to be during school) working on what we call "swoops". Basically practising the motion she will need to use to write B's, P's, C's and so on and so forth. Anyways, though she can do this perfectly well on her own, she keeps pretending she can't so I'll come work with her. Instead of doing the swoops I asked her to, she was writing perfect S's. Like I said, she really shouldn't have a problem with this assignment. Also, have I mentioned that she is a Perfectionist? Notice I said that with a very capital P. Oh. My. Word. That little girl falls apart if the lines she draws do not connect in EXACTLY the right way. Oi.
There is seriously never a dull moment in this house. I have two extremes in my children. The oldest just wants to do her schoolwork as fast as she can, with as little effort as she can, and just know everything without really trying. The youngest, on the other hand, would spend all day long doing one thing so she could get it just right. She's the one who, when she saw me smiling about a facebook post today, asked me to tell her the letters in each word, so she could sound them out and find out what made me smile.
Okay, the kids have calmed down and we will try this again. I'm thinking play dough and a good book (with me reading to the kids, of course) would be a good stress reliever this afternoon. Pray for us, friends, we've got quite a bit of the day ahead of us yet.

Monday, August 29, 2011

August Home School Happenings

We have almost completed our first month of homeschooling. It has been surprisingly fun and I think it is actually working! The girls are still loving school (apart from a few rough days with Hope), and they are remembering what they've learned so far.
We've done a lot of review work with Grace, to make sure she is up to speed and hasn't forgotten too much over the summer, and have started a bunch of new things with Hope. Grace has (very excitedly) started reading basic sentences and Hope has been listening in on the letter/sound review, so she knows all her letters and sounds almost as well as Grace. We are working on fine motor skills- this is what has caused problems with Hope- and she is getting better. She wrote a number 2 for the first time today and was very happy about it. :)
For the first three weeks of school we studied the basics of the human body, touched on germs, and focused on the five senses. We had a lot of fun with that, playing lots of games using their senses. I also ask the girls to use one or more of their five senses to figure out answers to simple questions they ask me. I'm hoping that this will help them figure things out for themselves more and maybe not ask quite so many questions with obvious answers. We'll see if that works, but a girl can hope, right?
We've also spent the month studying the Pilgrims, their voyage to Plymouth and their life once they got to Plymouth and started a colony. I LOVE history, so this has probably been my favorite subject to teach the kids. We read for about half an hour to 45 minutes every night before bed and most of the books we read have to do with the subjects we are studying. I've found this to be a fun and easy way to reinforce and review what we've talked about during the day. 


These have been some of our favorite Pilgrim/Plymouth Plantation Resources.
"The Dreadful Smelly Colonies"
"Three Young Pilgrims"
"Samuel Eaton's Day- A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy"
"Sarah Morton's Day- A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl"
"Pilgrim Cat"-This has become an every night favorite.
"This is America Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers"- Surprisingly informational!
These are our most reviewed books on the Five Senses.
"The Magic School bus Explores the Senses"
"Me and My Senses"
Hope's first attempts at writing the letter A. Highly successful. Though I've discovered she is much more confident trying things out on the chalkboard than she is trying them out on paper.
Hope's pre-writing work. She generally acts like I just asked her to kill her favorite dog when I ask her to do this. Ha. We're also working on having a good attitude even when doing something she doesn't like doing.
Intro to the concept of a calendar. We laid out seven pretzels to start with and talked about the seven days of the week, counted them, recited the days of the week while pointing to each pretzel, then add seven more and so on and so forth until the "month" was full. Practised days of the week and counting to 31.

After we finished with the pretzel calendar (and the kids had finished eating it), we moved on to a real paper calendar. I had them color code the days of the week and we put a sticker on every day we have already finished for this month. We'll make another one every month left in the school year and add stickers as we finish days. The kids loved it.
video
This was a song I found on YouTube using the tune to "The Addams Family". Ha! The girls LOVE it and are learning the days of the week quickly.

 We generally have one day a week that is designated our "Library Day" and we get out books on the topics we are planning to study the following week. So far, our system seems to be working well. The kids are enjoying it and so am I, something I honestly wasn't expecting. God is so good to allow me to school my kids at home AND to allow me to enjoy it as well!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

2 Big Changes Around Here

The first and BIGGEST change is that D and I are now officially and legally ours!!!! Praise the Lord! We were finally able to adopt them on July 28, 2011. They are now asking to be called by the middle names we gave them, so we are trying to adjust to calling them Grace (the oldest) and Hope (the youngest). And they are now praying that our babies from the Congo will be ours soon too. :) It has been a great transition to a family. We've had a few rough patches, but for the most part, we are just all happy to be a forever family.
The other big change around here is that we have decided to home school this year instead of sending the kids back to the school that Grace attended last year. We started yesterday and it was great. Today was a little more difficult, but mostly because I was tired and irritable. I am now positive that this teaching thing is going to stretch me. Yikes!
The girls both LOVE doing schoolwork and beg for it the second I climb out of bed. Their favorite thing yesterday was when I pulled out the globe. We have a pack of flash cards of world landmarks and we took a few minutes to look over three of the landmarks and find their locations on the globe. Grace also wanted to know where our babies from Africa are, so we talked about that and she was amazed when she saw how far away they are. Today, we took a trip to the library to look up books on the human body, our five senses, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Steve also grabbed a few cookbooks full of recipes from around the world, so we may be trying some food from other countries as we study about them.
We received our initial approval from the U.S. Immigration to bring two children (under 2 with minimal special needs) home from the Congo. Now we just need to get on the waiting list. We are planning on having another garage sale this month, so hopefully we'll be on the list soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Big News on the Foster Care Front

The appeal is over!!!!!! Our two foster children have been in our home for over 2 1/2 years already and the birth parents have had their parental rights terminated for 10 months. They appealed the decision and we have been waiting to hear a ruling on the appeal for the last 10 months. Last Friday, while driving home from the pool, we received the call we had been waiting so long for. The panel of appeals judges had made their decision and they chose to uphold the Termination of Parental Rights ruling. Hooray!!!! We hurried to the attorney's office and signed "Petition to Adopt" papers as quickly as we could.
The birth parents still have 30 days (well, 27 days now) to appeal this decision, but if all goes well and they do NOT appeal, we will finalize the adoptions of our two foster children at the end of July!!!!!!!!!! We are super excited and so are the kids. :)
No huge news on our international adoptions except that we are having a garage sale to raise funds this Saturday. Friends from church have been donating items all week long and we have a basement full of stuff to sell. We are praying that Saturday's garage sale goes well and we will hopefully be able to get on the waiting list for two Congo babies soon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

And Things Are Moving Right Along

We received notice this morning that our home study has been approved by our agency and the final copies are already in the mail! Praise the Lord! We had just prayed about this in church yesterday. It's so awesome that it was already being taken care of. We sent in our paperwork for USCIS, so now we wait for an appointment to have our fingerprints done.
We have also recently learned that policy has changed in the DRC and now at least one of us is required to travel to the DRC to pick up our kids. We are asking for prayers in deciding how to go about this. I would love to have both Steve and I go to the DRC together, however, we have to think about what would be best for our current children as well. D and I have not been apart from us for more than just a couple days since they came to live with us almost 2 1/2 years ago. We do not in any way want to make them think that they are losing their new family. If both Steve and I go, we need a lot of wisdom in knowing how to prep the kids for the separation.
On the other hand, if only one of us goes, we will need to find someone to go along to the DRC and help, since we are hoping to get 2 children. Steve and I have never been apart for that long either and are not looking forward to the possibility of half a month away from each other. Either way, we are going to need a lot of prayer!
This afternoon just proved my weakness and my inability to mother my children well on my own. I totally lost my temper and yelled at D when she let the dogs get past her and out of the yard. Our dogs of course, are rather large and there really wasn't much she could do to stop them, but I yelled at her anyways. :( I hate sin and how easily I fall into it! I apologized to D for losing my temper with her and blaming her for something that was not at all her fault, but the damage was already done. Such unkind words and tone to come out of my mouth. *sigh* So thankful that His blood covers ALL my sin! And thankful for a daughter who is quick to forgive.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April Happenings

We put our house on the market last Saturday. Click Here to see our listing. Our kiddos have been pretty good about cleaning up their room and keeping their stuff put away when they are not using it. They are as excited as we are about the possibility of getting a new house. Please be praying that our house will sell quickly. :)
We also had the last of two home study visits today. It was relatively painless. The case worker just needed to talk through some adoption info with us and do a quick walk through of our house. It really wasn't stressful. Maybe it was because we are so used to different case workers being in our home, but I really wasn't stressing over it at all before hand. Praise the Lord!
 In the middle of the home study visit, Desiree, who had been sent to her room to color quietly, came running out of her room with a picture she had drawn. She interrupted the caseworker to say loudly (and rather proudly, I might add), "This is a picture of a baby from Africa." Smiles and "awwws" followed. Then, "And these are it's Mommy and Daddy who died." Awkward silence. Then she shrugged and went back to color some more. Oh my, the things kids say! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Home Study

We had our first of two home study visits last night and I think it went well. It wasn't nearly as nerve wracking as I thought it would be. Our second visit will be in about three weeks. I need to do some major spring cleaning between now and then. :-)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Goat Milk Soap For Adoption

We've been given the opportunity to use our favorite soaps to raise money for our adoptions! A few years ago we started looking for a more natural alternative to store bought soaps due to a skin allergy that one of our girls had. We found Goat Milk Stuff, a company owned and run by a family of 10 that produced home made goat milk soap, free of the nasty chemicals that are normally found in store bought soap. They own and run a goat farm  in Southern Indiana and we have been able to visit them in the past when we went to pick up an order. The girls even got to pet the goats! The owners and their eight children, ages 3-14, are all involved in the business.  They are allowing us to use their ten most popular soaps for the fundraiser. Each bar of soap is hand cut to weigh 5-6 ounces and is cured for a minimum of six weeks. The way the fundraiser works is that people can buy soap through us at the normal cost ($6 each), and Goat Milk Stuff donates half of that directly toward our adoption costs. We are very excited to be able to raise funds for our adoption and support one of our favorite small businesses at the same time!
The scents we are offering are:
Black Raspberry- "The sweet raspberry scent is softened by a hint of vanilla. This is an across the board favorite, delighting little girls, ladies and grown men alike."
Clean Cotton- "Yes, this really does smell like freshly laundered cotton and people just love it! It is a very fresh and clean scent."
Honeysuckle - "Remember walking outside during the summer and catching the scent of a nearby honeysuckle vine?" This soap smells just like that. It is a truly beautiful honeysuckle scent with a hint of jasmine."
Lavender- "The scent of lavender is a perennial favorite and one of our best sellers. It is made with lavender essential oil."
Luv Spell- "This is a lovely, feminine scent that smells of citrus and florals. It is a very pretty, scent for the ladies."
Nautical - "This is a masculine scent (that the women love).  It's perfect for all those men out there that want a soap just for them.
Oatmeal, Milk and Honey- " It is hard to resist the wonderful fragrance of oatmeal, milk and honey. It is a very clean and warm fragrance that pulls you in with that sweetness of honey."
Ocean- "This is a beautiful bar that is swirled with different shades of blue and white. This is an amazingly clean scent that appeals to both men and women."
Pink Sugary- "It is so hard to resist the scent of Pink Sugary. A wonderful sweetness, the hints of vanilla actually turn the bar a deep shade of brown instead of pink."
Purity- "The soap has no added fragrance for those with dry sensitive skin. It's just plain, good for your skin, goat milk soap! Lots of people use this soap on babies or people with eczema."

Ingredients: Raw goat milk; Saponified natural fats, coconut oil, soybean oil; Natural color, Fragrance

Monday, March 7, 2011

Little Stuff

There are two bits of news...One is that we will hopefully have our first home study meeting in two weeks. Yay!
The other is that, though we had been told we would have to pay for another physical for our youngest and would have to take our oldest in for another physical, the doctor's office called today and told us that if we just dropped off the forms, they would fill them out for us. We don't have to take the kids in again or pay for another physical. Praise the Lord! We plan to drop off the paperwork first thing tomorrow. :-)

For those of you who aren't on facebook, here's a taste of our home life:

We really like the album, "Awesome God" from Sovereign Grace. It is my favorite children's music cd. (And that is saying something, because I am not a huge fan of most kid's music!) Anyways, D-our oldest- just told me, "Mommy, I like this music. It tells us what God says in the Bible!" :-)

Last night I had the following conversation with our youngest, "I". She was coloring a boy dinosaur picture for me.
I: "He's beautiful, Mom?"
Me: "Yep, he's handsome."
I: "What?"
Me: "He's handsome."
I: "No, he not have pants on. He a dinosaur."
Me: "No, he's HANDSOME."
I: "I don't know how. You draw pants on, please?"
After a few rounds of this, I just let her draw some pants on him. LOL

About a week ago, I was talking to "I" about us adopting from Africa. She wanted to know why we couldn't just go get our babies right now. I tried to explain that it cost a lot of money and we had to get that money together  before we could go get them. I didn't know how much of this conversation she really understood. (She's three years old. )
A few days later, she came walking out of her bedroom with her little change purse and told me, "Here, Mama. You have all my money so we can get our babies from Africa faster and faster." I cried, and helped her empty her purse into our change can. "D" decided she wanted to do the same and also emptied her change purse into the change can. "D" later wanted to go to the store and spend her money on a snack. "I" reminded her, "We gave Mommy all, all our money for our babies. But it's okay. Mommy and Daddy will buy us a snack." :-) I love the way they think.

Also, if we get boys, "D" and "I" would like to name them Rocky and Bullwinkle. Oh boy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Almost Ready for the Home Study!

We are in the paper chase part of the adoption process. Birth certificates, criminal background checks, medical clearances, references, financial forms, and the list goes on and on. It has been giving us such a sense of accomplishment to check items off that list! We are almost ready for our home study to begin! (Can you sense the excitement????)
The last few items we need are medical clearances. We did just have our Foster Care health clearances done in January, I think. Why can't we just use the same health clearance we used for foster care, you may ask? Well...the foster care clearance basically had the doctor check and see if we were still breathing. Not much more than that. International adoption requires a bit more from the doctor, so off we go to our second round of physicals. We will also have to pay for a physical for our youngest daughter because she is not eligible for another well child check up until August and we aren't going to put our adoption on hold till then if we can help it.
So, all of you who have already donated to our adoption fund, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Much of what you sent will be going towards our physicals...the last step before our home study. Thank you!
We have been overwhelmed and blessed again and again as people we do not even know have prayed for us and supported us in our journey to bring our babies home. We thank God for you!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Paperwork

I knew there would be a lot of paperwork, but it feels a little overwhelming at the moment. We just received a TON of paperwork that we need to work through from our adoption worker. Definitely seems impossible right now. I am so thankful that the Lord knows and has already planned out how this whole adoption thing is going to work out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Application Accepted

Well, this afternoon we received our acceptance letter from One World Adoption Services. Now we sign a bunch of papers and write our first of many LARGE checks. :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Application

We just sent out our application to OWAS. I'm so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a little sad though, they asked for a family picture and the only one we had was over a year old. Pathetic. We have GOT to get some family pictures done soon. :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

DRC info


From Wikipedia
"The Second Congo War, beginning in 1998, devastated the country, involved seven foreign armies and is sometimes referred to as the "African World War".[4] Despite the signing of peace accords in 2003, fighting continues in the east of the country. In eastern Congo, the prevalence of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world.[5] The war is the world's deadliest conflict since World War II, killing 5.4 million people.[6][7]"
"In 2009 people in the Congo may still be dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month,[26] and estimates of the number who have died from the long conflict range from 900,000 to 5,400,000.[27] The death toll is due to widespread disease and famine; reports indicate that almost half of the individuals who have died are children under the age of 5. This death rate has prevailed since efforts at rebuilding the nation began in 2004.[28]
The long and brutal conflict in the DRC has caused massive suffering for civilians, with estimates of millions dead either directly or indirectly as a result of the fighting. There have been frequent reports of weapon bearers killing civilians, destroying property, committing widespread sexual violence,[29] causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes or otherwise breaching humanitarian and human rights law. An estimated 200,000 women have been raped.[30]
Few people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been unaffected by the armed conflict. A survey conducted in 2009 by the ICRC and Ipsos shows that three quarters (76%) of the people interviewed have been affected in some way–either personally or due to the wider consequences of armed conflict.[31]
In 2003, Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN's Indigenous People's Forum that during the war, his people were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. In neighbouring North Kivu province there has been cannibalism by a group known as Les Effaceurs ("the erasers") who wanted to clear the land of people to open it up for mineral exploitation.[32] Both sides of the war regarded them as "subhuman" and some say their flesh can confer magical powers."
"In June 2010, UK aid group Oxfam reported a dramatic increase in the number of rapes occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While researchers from Harvard discovered that rapes committed by civilians had increased by seventeenfold."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Democratic Republic of the Congo

We have officially decided to adopt two babies from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the DRC. There were many reasons why we decided to go with the DRC instead of Ethiopia, but the basic reasons were as follows:
1. We will be able to adopt two unrelated infants at one time. We only found one agency working in Ethiopia which would allow us to adopt two unrelated infants and they had put a moratorium on requesting girls. This was not the end of the world to us, as we already have two little girls, but I was hoping for another girl, so that did give us some pause.

2. We had heard rumors about Ethiopia closing at the end of this year. With the current time frame for adopting from Ethiopia, we didn't really see a way to finalize adoptions from there by the end of the year.

3.  While there are many, many orphans in Ethiopia in need of loving adoptive families, from what I've read, Ethiopian orphans are fairly well taken care of. Ethiopia has been recognized worldwide as a country to emulate in their care for and protection of their orphans. Even those children who will grow up in the orphanages are decently cared for and often loved by their "nannies" and "brothers and sisters" in their orphanages. Please don't misunderstand me. I know that the life of an orphan in Ethiopia is not perfect and being placed in an adoptive family is much better, BUT, overall, Ethiopian orphans are decently cared for.

4. The great NEED in the DRC. We have only just recently even heard of the DRC, but in the past few weeks, my heart has broken for the orphans living in this war torn country. There are over 5 million orphans in just this one country. These children are orphans because of war, starvation, and disease. Children living on the streets generally eat three times a week, when humanitarian aid is there to provide a meal. According to one article I read, the orphans living in orphanages are "the lucky ones" because they usually get one meal every day. Even those children living in the orphanages, eating once a day, are susceptible to sickness because their little bodies are not nourished enough to fight it off. Many die before aging out of the orphanage. According to the the Red Cross, 515 children (NOT just orphans) out of every 1000 children in the DRC will not live to see their 5th birthday.

5. From what I have read, adopting from the DRC is fairly straightforward and the timeframe is 6-18 months between the time you start the paperwork to when you bring your children home for good. Much of this time, if I understand it correctly, is dependent on the adoptive families getting their paperwork done quickly.

6. We have found a few agencies that work in the DRC and one in particular has been incredibly helpful in answering our many questions and answering my e-mails QUICKLY, often within 15-20 minutes.Unfortunately, adopting from the DRC is more expensive than adopting from Ethiopia. But our God is great and we believe he has lead us to adopt, so we will trust that He will provide what we need. Steve's work offers wonderful adoption help, so that is a start. :)

Please be praying for us as we start off on this journey. There are a few things we need to get taken care of before we have our home study, not the least of which is selling our current home and buying a bigger one. Lord willing, though, we will be well on our way to our new children soon. In the meantime, we are making and selling some fun stuff at our Etsy store (see our mini Etsy Store to the right), and trying to gather what paperwork we can before we apply for our home study.

I will try to update this blog as we learn more and as we go further along in the adoption process. We are so excited to see how God is going to grow our family in the next few years.