Friday, September 30, 2011

Thank you, Congressman Norm Dicks!

I have never before contacted a Congressman.  I've never had any need to until now.  Well, I contacted our Congressman, Norm Dicks, just days ago and asked him if he could help us to convince the USCIS to expedite the processing of our paperwork.  I heard back from him a couple of days ago and he said it would be helpful to get more information.  So I told him everything that he asked for.  Well, this morning I received the BEST phone call!  A VERY NICE officer at the USCIS called to tell me that our fingerprint appointment letter is IN THE MAIL!  She said that our very wonderful Congressman's contact caused them to move our file to the top of the stack!  I am just SO HAPPY right now!  Finally it feels like something is going right!  

PLEASE PRAY that when we walk in next week, they will agree to process our fingerprints that day!  Our appointment is October 24th, and we really are hoping to get this done much sooner than that.  For those of you not familiar with the adoption world, it is very common to walk in early, and most families have success getting fingerprinted the day they walk in.  Most, but NOT ALL.  Sometimes families are turned away and told to come back on their appointment date.  So we would really appreciate extra prayers about this. 

We have been feeling some major stress about making the deadline, and suddenly today I feel like the sun has popped out from behind the clouds!  I was really not expecting the Congressman to actually help, and I am so grateful to him for taking the time to make this happen for our boys!  

So here's my to-do list for today:
Praise the Lord!
Do a happy dance!
Homeschool with my kids
Start a pot of soup
Bake some bread
Make some yogurt
Print out more dossier documents
Meet Derek at the bank to have the documents notarized
Fax the documents to our state-side helper for approval
Get everything ready for Isaac's birthday party (October 2nd my boy turns nine!)
Set up for tomorrow's garage sale

I think that ought to keep me busy until about midnight!  (We have a huge heap of stuff to organize on a few very small tables for the garage sale . . . not sure where I'm going to put all that stuff!)  But nothing can ruin my good mood today!  We are going to get our boys VERY SOON!  Woo hoo!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our Farm in Fall

I'm putting together board book photobooks to take with us to Eastern Europe.  We'll read the books to our new kiddos to show them what their new life will be like!  We may share the photobooks with the judge, the institution director, or anybody else who wants to see them, as well.  I'm trying to pick which pictures to use in the photobooks!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It is finished!

It is finished . . . the homestudy, that is!  The long-awaited homestudy is FINALLY complete!  Derek happened to have the day off yesterday so he drove two hours up to the city to pick it up, then drove straight to the post office and stuck one copy of that more-precious-than-gold pile of papers into an envelope and got it on its way to the USCIS.  It should be there by now!  (The $18 to overnight it was definitely worth it at this point.  Who knows if a couple extra days could make a difference in whether we make our deadline or not?)

More speedbumps keep popping up:  We got asked for a new stack of paperwork today . . . not impossible paperwork, but a bunch of documentation we hadn't known about.  Not such a big deal.  Just a pain.

A bigger deal is that our medical insurance, which has always been really good, is suddenly not so good.  We pay over $900 a month for this policy, which is ridiculous, but we don't really have options.  It is the insurance provided through Derek's union.  Well, the rates are high, but we have always really appreciated the $300 deductible and the $1000 out-of-pocket max per year ($3000 per family per year.)  Pretty good, right?  Well, it turns out that they just changed everything.  It's now $500 deductible, $5000 out-of-pocket.  That's FIVE TIMES what it was!  And lots of services are now ineligible that were previously covered.  Services like ambulance rides.  And guess when these new changes went into effect?  July 1st.  You probably don't remember, but just to remind you, our sweet Gracie's appendix ruptured July 22nd.  We are getting bills in the mail these last couple of weeks that are just about enough to make a grown man almost cry.  (Okay, he's not crying, but he is really quiet!)  We were thinking the worst that the bills would be would be just over $1000, and we have a stack of bills totalling close to $10,000 stacked up on Derek's desk now.  We were so not expecting this.  Feeling really blind-sided with these bills right now.  And really trying not to despair.  But the thought of being broke for the next three years while we make payments on these awful bills is really depressing!  We are SO GRATEFUL for Gideon's grant, because without it I am not sure what decision we might have to be making right now.  But as it is, our adoption is going to be fine.  We may have to use our credit card to get those airline tickets paid for, but one way or another, we will do this!  

And then there is the other speedbump.  Our big announcement is still pending.  Urg.  We thought we would be able to share this with the world by now, but we are still being asked to hold off for awhile longer.  I can tell you this, though:  We are currently assembling two little beds in a freshly painted little bedroom, and I have recently purchased two new sippy cups, two fuzzy blankies, two stuffed puppy dogs, and I am ordering two little boardbook photobooks!  Draw your own conclusions from that!  :) 

So even though we feel as though we are totally under attack as this adoption progresses (did I mention the broken window in our Durango?  And the $1000 repair that we need to make on our Durango?  No?  Oh, did I mention the suspicious spot on our dog's hip, and the fact that a trip to the vet is imminent?  Or the fact that my little sister is getting married in Idaho in two weeks and I don't know if I can afford to get to her wedding?  The fact that Isaac is still wearing his size 12 sneakers and his feet now measure at a size 1 1/2?  The fact that Derek has holes in every pair of pants and socks he owns right now and really needs to do some major clothes shopping?  Yeah.  Totally feeling some pressure here, financially!)  It's not as though any one of the above-mentioned issues is so catastrophic.  But all together . . . Yikes.  

But despite all of that, we have faith that we are under God's protection, and that one way or another, we will pull this off!  It's not as though money is any big problem for God.  If we are doing His will, we have to trust Him to provide!  And we are trusting.  Trusting Him with our timeline.  Trusting Him with looming deadlines.  And trusting Him to work out the finances.  And trying to remember to breathe!  So if you see me and I look a little frazzled or wild-eyed, please feel free to remind me to breathe!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Where Is Jesus?

I saw this kid on GodTube today 
and wanted to share his message.  
It is awesome!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where It All Started

Children in orphanages.  Ever wonder where it all started?  Orphanages have not always been around.  In 18th century London, when a child was born to an unwed mother, or born with special needs, it was not as easy as simply dropping the child off at the nearest orphanage.  The options were far more limited:  find a monastery or church willing to take the child, find a relative able to raise the child, or abandon the child.  Babies lying in garbage piles and in sewage-filled gutters were common sights in the poorer neighborhoods of London. 

I was recently reading about a compassionate man named Thomas Coram who walked those London streets and saw the heartbreaking sight of abandoned babies and children all too often.  At a time when only one in four children lived to see their fifth year of life, when being an unwed mother or an illegitimate child was so shameful that it was sometimes deemed worthy of death, when babies’ lifeless bodies were left lying in rubbish heaps and the well-to-do would rather just keep walking rather than stop to notice, perhaps Thomas Coram could have simply accepted this as normal.  But this was a guy who actually cared. 

He decided to do something about it.  He advocated.  He fundraised.  He petitioned  the king.  In fact, he spent 19 years working to make his vision a reality.  Coram’s vision, the Foundling Hospital, first opened its doors in London, England, in 1741, and he became the founder of the world’s first-ever incorporated charity. 

On March 25, 1741, the day the Foundling Hospital first opened, thirty young mothers ventured forward to hand over their infant children.  They covered their faces in shame and sorrow and scurried away into the shadows as soon as they released their babies into the care of the hospital.  The hospital had to turn several mothers away that night.  They were already filled to capacity. 

Tens of thousands of children passed through the doors of the Foundling Hospital over the next two hundred years. 

No, orphanages have not always been around.  They were only established formally in the last three hundred years.  But since then, it sort of seems as though not too much has changed, has it?  There are still unwanted children.  There are still orphanages filled to capacity.  There are still mothers who give up their babies because they truly feel as though they have no other option.  And luckily, there are still kind, compassionate souls like Thomas Coram who are there for the children and who truly care about those little ones entrusted to their care. 

I am praying that somebody who cares is there for my sweet Gideon and for darling Edwin.  Somebody with some compassion.  Somebody who sees those little boys and sees their wonderfulness.  There are some who don’t care, and some who do.  That is just how it has always been.  Praying hard today that God will place somebody who cares in the path of my little loves.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Big Things

Big things are happening!  

Today we got the draft of our long-awaited homestudy.  This has been causing a lot of stress and sleepless nights around here, let me tell you, and I am so glad to finally have that complete!  We are hoping for the final copy in the next day or two, since there were only a couple of slight changes needing to be made.  Yay!

Our doctor also indicated she will have a letter written for us by tomorrow.  This is a letter that we are hoping will expedite our USCIS application, and we are praying HARD that it will be ready tomorrow to send off to USCIS along with our homestudy, and that our application will fall on the right desk at the USCIS, and that God will cause things to move QUICKLY!  We have been SO FRUSTRATED lately, feeling as though nothing is happening.  And time is running out.  If we do not get our dossier submitted in the very near future, it is very likely that we will not be able to travel until next spring.  We just can't let that happen.  So please pray for paperwork to be processed QUICKLY!  

Other big things are also happening.  We have received an amazingly generous donation that will make a huge difference!  Thanks, Dale and Julie (Derek's wonderful parents) for your generosity, and because of you, we are one airline ticket closer to getting to our boys' country!  I can't even tell you what a blessing this is, and how much easier it is to breathe with that thermometer moving up!  THANK YOU!  

And finally, we are becoming good friends with the delivery guy in the big brown truck!  Every day lately, he stops here to bring my little boy another box full of homeschool curriculum!  We signed Isaac up for Columbia Virtual Academy this year.  If you are not familiar with CVA, it is an amazingly awesome publically funded school in Washington state.  I am Isaac's teacher, and the program allows me to pick out whichever curriculum works best for Isaac in each subject.  And then they send it to us!  

In return, we check in once a week to update my son's advisor on our progress, and once a month we write in about how we are doing meeting his yearly learning goals.  This is our first year doing this program, and so far, I just LOVE IT!  I have been able to choose the best math program to fit Isaac's learning style (Right Start Math), the best reading and spelling program (The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading) the best science (Exploration Education) and a whole bunch of unbelievably cool other things.  This is all the stuff I've wanted to get for him for the last three years and the budget just never allowed it.  

For three years I've been piecing together my son's education from free websites, library books, and dollar store workbooks, and that has been FINE, really.  But THIS!  This is so COOL!  It is exactly what we need, for a whole year, all laid out with lesson plans and supplies all ready to go.  (Which I am really going to appreciate even more in a couple months when life gets WAY MORE HECTIC!)  Anyway, I am a bit of a nut about bookstores, and especially educational books, so being able to go shopping and pick out all this stuff . . . WOW.  

And I am so so happy to be able to provide Isaac with the things that are really going to work for him.  Isaac's learning style is . . . . unique.  Not just any old workbook will get through to him.  Isaac has Asperger's Syndrome, and if he isn't interested in something, it just plain old doesn't interest him.  Which means he doesn't learn it.  He just can't care about something that doesn't pertain to his areas of interest.  If you are familiar with AS, perhaps that will make sense.  Everything has to be very hands on and interactive.  Everything has to have something to do with his areas of interest.  The advisor is willing to work with us in meeting the goals of Isaac's IEP, providing several extra resources to help him in his areas of greater challenge, including sensory items to help Isaac to focus, and social skills resources to give Isaac greater skills in interpersonal relationships.   

Best of all, they are providing him with the supplies to create short films and movies about his subjects as he learns them.  He is obsessed with movie-making, so if I tell him he will be making a movie about the history lesson later on, for example, he all of a sudden goes from eyes-glazed-over-head-in-the-clouds boy to bright-eyed, engaged, asking questions, and doesn't want to put the book away because he wants to sit and study it awhile longer!  It is so AWESOME!  So this curriculum is a huge blessing!  

And did I mention that this program also pays for soccer and violin lessons for my son, as well?  Both of which he really wants to do, and there is no way it would have been in the budget this year otherwise.  

Once Gideon is home, I will be able to sign him up for the program as well.  I am already making a list of some wonderful learning supplies and resources that will be fun and engaging and help him to begin to catch up on what he has missed out on the last five years.  Really basic stuff for him, like Signing Time DVDs, sensory items, very simple math games, books to read aloud to him . . . that sort of thing.  If anybody has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them, by the way, concerning curriculum for Gideon.  He will be kindergarten age, but developmentally nowhere near ready for your average kindergarten curriculum.  So we will see where he is at and start there!  I am looking forward to getting started!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Waiting and Hyperventilating

It's hard to even describe the emotions that keep flash-flooding through my heart.  Waiting on an adoption is intense.  We started out faithful and calm, with checklists and timetables.  But the longer we wait . . . the more time that passes . . . the more it feels as though this is taking TOO LONG.  Like I am failing my little boy.  I get these waves of panic every day lately, where I can feel my pulse pounding, and I have an overwhelming urge to stow away on a plane to eastern Europe this very day and get that boy into my arms RIGHT NOW!  Because we are waiting on others.  Waiting on the homestudy social worker.  Waiting on USCIS.  Then we'll be waiting on a travel date.  Ugh.  We are not in control of the timetable.  And that is hard for me.  One moment, I am in peaceful prayer, placing this adoption in the Lord's very capable hands (again) and then before I know it I am pacing and having trouble breathing normally because I so intensely feel the need to DO SOMETHING!  (again)  And then I give it back to God.  And then I find myself panicking again.  Wow!  Round and round we go.  I just have to say, I'm glad our God is a patient and compassionate God, because sometimes I really struggle with this trust thing.

And yesterday the very sad, heartbreaking news of this little boy's needless death:
Dakota was eight years old.  Oh, sweet darling little boy!  Dakota is dancing and singing in the presence of our loving Father now, and will never have to suffer again.  But the reality is, he spent eight years on this earth, in that crib, and he went through more than any child, any person, should ever have to live through.  Just look at his picture and you will see that is true.  He was banished to an institution and he existed there, waiting for somebody to rescue him.  To love him.  He could have thrived in a loving family.  He could have lived such a full, joyful life.  And it is so hard for me to understand.  How can this be?

And perhaps that will explain the flash-flood panic episodes I have been experiencing more intensely than ever these last couple of days.  My son.  In an institution.  Waiting.  Oh, my heart.  Oh, my God!  I look at Dakota, and I think of Gideon.  I need to get my boy home!  

So please be in prayer for things to move quickly.  We sent our USCIS application, but it won't be processed until we can send in our homestudy to go along with it. We are waiting on our social worker to finish writing the homestudy.  He promised to have it completed later this week.  We are waiting.  Please pray that things will be processed quickly.  A little boy is waiting.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

One Step Closer

I spent the better part of the day today running around doing paperwork.  It is harder than one might think to find somebody to sign a piece of paper, by the way!  But I am happy to announce that one very kind county assessor took pity on me (or maybe just wanted me to stop crying . . .) but he finally signed my form.  Not only signed it, but walked three blocks with me to the nearest bank to sign it in the presence of a notary!  

Yes, I actually did start to cry.  How embarrassing!  This was after being told a big fat NO about ten times over the past two weeks.  Absolutely NOBODY would sign this form, and I guess I just started to feel like I was failing my son, and what if he can't come home because I can't get this one form signed?  And I had to pick right then, in front of the county assessor, to tear up?  Wow.  But anyway.  Enough confession time.  Due to the kindness of one awesome county assessor who gave up most of his lunch hour for us, we have one more important piece of our dossier paperwork now!  We are one step closer!  

And stay tuned.  A very big announcement . . . coming soon . . . very soon, I hope!

Monday, September 5, 2011


We have just been inundated with blessings this weekend!  

We held a fundraiser garage sale to help raise adoption expenses, and WOW!  Were we ever blessed!  First, we asked friends, family, and church family if they would be willing to donate items to our sale, and we had a MOUNTAIN of stuff come in!  Thank you so much to all of you who shared your bounty with us!  It made a huge difference (we really didn't have enough stuff to bother putting on a sale, and we are so appreciative of the donations!)  

And then we had to come up with a location for the sale.  We live way out of town, and we have no parking or turnaround spot or garage, or anything very conducive to garage-sale-friendly location.  So Derek's grandparents saved our day with that issue.  They donated the funds to rent the Lion's Club building in town for the weekend!  That was SO NICE, because it was indoors, it was huge, there is a playground for the kids to play on, and it came with enough tables to actually display all the stuff nicely.  This only shows about half of the sale:
I just can't tell you how dear and generous Derek's Grandma and Papa are.  They are the sort of people who are always offering to help before a person even asks.  I just love them so much.  They are the grandparents I never had, and I treasure them.  They were also at the sale with us most of the weekend, helping to hold down the fort.  And they brought us pizza for lunch!  They had more energy than me this weekend, I think.  Not bad for 82 years young, right?  

The kids set up a lemonade stand outside the building, and had great success!  Who could resist this cuteness?
And I think Isaac would make a great businessman.  He was not a bit shy to talk to strangers all day, as they went inside, and then again as they left :) telling them about what he is doing and why, how much we need to raise, and trying to talk them into not just lemonade, but snacks, and cans of pop, and maybe snacks to take home for later, too!  Too funny!  He did great.  

And long after the littles lost interest, he was still out there.  For hours and hours my dear boy sat in the sun, always smiling and eager, running inside after each sale to tell us his new total.  He was definitely in his element.  My son, the businessman.

And the sale went great.  I had been praying for $890 in profits from the sale.  We happen to need $890 in the next few days in order to complete our next step in the adoption process, and I asked God to provide it.  People told me I probably wouldn't make more than $100, and that it was going to be a waste of time, but I prayed, and GOD ANSWERED!  It was amazing!  Between the total from the sale, the donations from the lemonade stand, and three (YES, THREE!) very generous donations that were made over the weekend, we now have a grand total of $896 !!!  (I figure God decided to include the cost of shipping our paperwork, just to bless our socks off!)  

So thank you SO MUCH to my dear, amazing friend Randi in Norway, and my beautiful long-lost sister Diane (and my equally beautiful niece Becky . . . that actually makes FOUR donations, doesn't it?)  Not to mention another incredible donation by a sweet friend of my mother, a lady whom I met once briefly a year ago and whose heart was also moved to donate out of what little she had. See, so many donations that I am losing count!  All of you, if you are reading this, THANK YOU!  I am just in awe, and in tears right now, writing this, because I know that these donations all came from people who love us (and love children they have not even met) enough to give out of what they have!  I treasure these donations even more, because I know that these days, nobody has much to spare.  And yet they chose to share because they see the worth of this rescue mission!

And all of this means that we are now busy filling out USCIS paperwork and ready to move on to the next step of the process. Our homestudy is (finally) almost complete.  We had a wonderful second visit on Thursday.  The draft was supposedly being written over the weekend, so we hope it will be completed in the very near future.  Then we will be able to put a check for $890 in the mail with that application and then things should really start moving forward.  I just cannot tell you how much I want to go to my son's country right now.  RIGHT NOW!  But soon . . . it is going to happen soon.  All thanks to the many, many blessings that poured in over the weekend.  God is SO GOOD, isn't He?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Winners Are . . .

I want to say thank you again to Amanda, Andriy's new mommy, for sharing her brilliant giveaway with our family!  And thank you to the readers who donated!  Amanda announced the winners of the giveaway this morning.  Here they are!  


The names of the winners are in red under the item name that they won. All winners were picked using and a spreadsheet with their number.  

I will email each Etsy shop with your email address. 

If the item is being shipped from me I will contact you for your home address.

 NOOK Color by Barnes and Noble

#27 Kayla Huntley


Nintendo Black Wii Console w/ Mario Kart  

#878 Jamie Kirkpatrick


Apple iPod touch 8GB With

Ematic 11-in-1 Accessory Kit for iPod Touch (4th Generation):
#389 Julie Vilardo


Garmin nuvi 1100LM 3.5" GPS 

w/ Lifetime Map Updates

#271 Julie Vilardo

Bonaia's Shop 
#729 Holly Caufield
Winner receives one Owl Onesie
This item is made to order, each onesie is hand printed,
you choose size. My very first Esty donation :o)
If only I wore this size.

Jajansi's shop
#588 Renee Tam 
Winner receives choice of two bibs 
And choice of one Pop Bead Child's Purse 
Those bibs are some of the cutest bibs I have seen in a long time
and I have never seen a child's purse like that before.
#254 Julie Vilardo
Winner receives one Mini Monkey Hat.
Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick's Twin girls Marion and Tabitha, were spotted in NYC wearing our popular CiteFuzz Cotton Mini Monkey ear flap hats.
You know you want to see your little one in this because you can't go to E. Europe and
not have a hat on your child.

Laksaware's shop
#322 Julie Vilardo
Winner will receive one Dish Towel and One square Sponge
I bought one of her round scrubbies for David last Christmas and it is still going strong.
The kids love to wash dishes with it!! (win random colors)

#988 Brian Miller
Winner receives one Wreath Of Pearls Necklace
This necklace reminds me of the pearl necklace my mother and 
father gave me to wear for my wedding. Beautiful.
 #950 Anne Ross
Winner receives a $25 Store Credit
What a sweet heart she is! I asked for one item, she gives me two.
She shares about Andriy all the time on Facebook and we just "met".
 See making friends while helping Andriy.
#1032 Julie Kelley
Winner receives a $25 Store Credit
(Yes she donated TWO $25 credits, her husbands idea)
#18 Kayla Huntley
Winner receives one Minnie Mouse Pillowcase Dress. 
Available sizes: 3-6m, 9-12m, 18-24m, 2T, 3T, 4T, 5T, 6T
Please allow 7-10 days processing time before shipping.
You know who I picture wearing this dress.....Paisley!
 Owlsay's shop 
#223 Shanna Branciforte 
Winner receives a $40 Gift Certificate
To be used within 3 months after auction ends.
This sweet lady has never donated to a giveaway but she felt
lead to donate to this one. Please show her she did the right thing.

#489 Julie Vilardo
Winner receives one "Little Round Up" Snugglie 
This is not only a blanket/lovie it is also a pacifier holder. If you know my kids this 
would have been so handy when they were younger. 

#406 Julie Vilardo
Winner receives a "Brown & Pink" Sugglie
Yep another sweety that donated not one but TWO items! I am so amazed!!

LoveLeeSoaps' shop
#738 Holly Caufield
Winner receives a $10 store credit
Every time I look into this store I gain a pound. JK 
Just image what they would smell like ;o)
(these look good enough to eat but they are soaps)
 #992 Brian Miller
Winner chooses any one piece of jewelry from this store.
Now I have totally fell in love with this store. She has such great 
pieces of unique jewelry at great prices. 

#252 Julie Vilardo  
Winner chooses any one piece of jewelry from store. 
It is like getting something you love twice, Yes she donated two items :o)
Please check out all the "leaf" necklaces, don't they remind you of my leaf fundraiser?!

GrowingUpVintage's shop
 #690 Rachel Davis
Winner receives a $30 Store Credit.
How great would it be to be able to keep your child's growth chart and
pass it down to their children. These charts are so pretty you will want to do just that.

#962 Anne Ross

Holiday hairbow collection (including birthday cupcake)

How cute will these be in the hair of your princess. One for each month. Non-slip design

Charolette Mae Boutique
#706 Rachel Davis
The sweet lady who runs Little Loulees also runs Charolette Mae Boutique, she wanted to help and donated this adorable headband.
Imagine this on your sweet bundle. Hand cute & sewn wool felt flower infant headband.

Project 3 Designs
#681 Rebecca Jolley
One winner will win both the
Be the change you want to see in the world Vinyl wall art
(Measures 22 X 10)

and the
Faith shines brightest in the dark vinyal wall art.
(Measures 12.5 X 22)

Keziah Designs 
#223 Julie Vilardo  
"Gotcha Day Blessings Book"
A beautifully written 16 page book. Also, includes an area to personalize with child's name and their "Gotcha Day". Also two pages to record special memories and waiting for that special child.

#1040 Julie Kelley
Your choice of bag. $60 credit towards your choice.

 #600 Brandon Guthery
One necklace chosen by random.