Thursday, December 18, 2014

PAPERWORK - Dossier in Ukraine!

Update sorely needed!  First of all, our dossier has been apostilled and sent off to Ukraine!  I'm told it's being translated and reviewed by staff in Ukraine.  Picked apart ad nauseam.  Then after the first of the year, (Old Christmas is celebrated in Ukraine) it will be submitted with the SDA.  That is, if we don't have to redo a portion - which often happens.  If it gets submitted early in January, we may be looking at travel by March!  That's so exciting to have a clearer picture of the process.  Liiiiiiittle by liiiiiiittle we are inching our way towards our child(ren)!!!  Carrie and Drew are being updated regularly on all this, too, as they are having to plan their lives around potentially traveling with us.  Kian asks every so often, "are we going to get my sister from Mykraine today?"  I have to tell him, "No, today isn't the day yet."

I am excited and yet terrified at starting this journey.  There are so many unknowns.  It's still so vague and impalpable.

The other day we were at Once Upon a Child in Canton, and we went over to the older youth clothes to take a look.  It put things in perspective.  I bought a size 8 outfit (no clue what size they'll really wear), just because.  It wasn't as large as I thought it would be - it still looked like a little kid to me.  I also bought two extra pairs of Christmas jammies.  Just cuz.  Our hearts are more and more ready - and it feels right that our family is just about ready to expand again.  Christmas is keeping me busy - after Christmas I'm going to need to find things to do.  Until we get our invitation to travel I'll probably be pacing the floor!  I'll keep you all updated, but it might still be boring for juuuust a little longer!

Happy Holidays everyone!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

MONEY - garage sale, necklaces, candy bars

Our recent fundraisers have been surprising in many ways.  Since our dossier paperwork was creating a lot of... waiting... we decided to work on fundraising some more.  We can't be left with nothing to do!!!  :) just kidding.
   First, our town has an Antique Festival every fall, and we were excited about the opportunity to have a little garage sale and bake sale.  I say that a little sarcastically, because we weren't terribly excited about it.  We felt the need to take the opportunity, but the thought of having another garage sale so quickly was a little, um, overwhelming.  And what was going to be a small bake sale with a few garage sale items quickly turned into another full-fledged legit garage sale.  Lots of donations is a GOOD PROBLEM.  *keeps reminding self*  Bake sale items were made, items were priced, we were open for business.  Then it sleeted.  Not kidding.  Somehow despite the unsavory weather and the meager turnout, we made $141!  We were surprised by that.

   The next surprise came when we set out some candy bars to sell for our adoption.  We put them at our respective places of work.  I went to pick up the money in my envelope the same day our biggest bills came from our agency (translation is NOT CHEAP!).  I was shocked to find a WAD... not a few or singular.. but a WAD OF 20'S.  They didn't even take a candy bar!  I'm not sure why I'm fixating on that, it's my way of not being overwhelmed by the graciousness of unidentified people.  Talk about surprise!  Seriously the grace of people astounds me. 
   Next to report is our sale of necklaces.  Compelled Designs ( sells the most beautiful necklaces and gives them dirt cheap to adoptive families to sell for fundraisers.  They are breathtakingly beautiful.  Check them out on my facebook page.  We have sold about half of them now, so pick them up quick for the holidays!!!

   Dossier update: paperwork is being sent in the mail today or tomorrow!  We are DONE with our portion!  (I'll let you in on a secret - that's a REALLY GOOD FEELING!  I'M TALKING IN CAPS A LOT IN THIS POST).  From here on out it's the waiting game!  Waiting for the dossier to be submitted by our agency to Ukraine.  Waiting for the invitation to travel.  Waiting to travel.  Waiting to meet our new children!  Pray for us in this critical preparation time.  Thanks to everyone!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

PAPERWORK - Dossier update

Sorry another boring post!  We're having a fundraiser this weekend and so then we may have some pictures to provide.  Until then, let the snores begin.  We are working through our dossier.  We have noticed that the dossier is less paperwork and paperchasing than the home study, but it's so METICULOUS!  Everything has to be dotted and crossed just perfectly!  The wording in some cases has to be just so, and things like that.  We are trudging through, in spite.  Here's a a list of the major items and what we've accomplished so far in the dossier world:

renew Rachel passport and get passports for boys - done
employment verification letters - almost done (need one from 61 Surplus yet)
marriage certificate papers - done
apostille marriage papers and home study - need to send to Columbus
medical certificates including bloodwork - done
criminal background checks - needed to be redone - got fingerprints and papers, need to send it away
proof of home ownership - had to get a lawyer to write this one since we don't have mortgage, we are working on it

Fun list, huh?  That's where we're at, as you can see a lot of things are coming together, shouldn't be long until we can send it!


Monday, September 1, 2014


Update on our paperwork situation.  I mentioned in my last post that we were told to wait until our move was done to start the dossier.  Everything is time sensitive regarding the dossier.  You can't do it and then wait to send it.  You have to do it all in one small time-frame.  It all basically hinged on the processing of our I-600A (our application to be approved as adopters of orphans).  We were told this takes a couple months, but the approval letter (I-171H) showed up at our door only a few weeks after our biometrics appointment up in Cleveland.  That changed the game a bit.  Now that we would have to process the address change with the federal government anyway, our social worker said, let's get to dossier-ing!  (That's not what she said, I made that word up.)  But that's how it felt!  Zack and I breathed a big fat sigh of relief and said "LET'S DO THIS!!!"  There was high fiving and grinning, and, well, you had to be there.  It was small scale torture to wait for my parent's house to be done and to get this move on.  Plus I felt like it was pressuring my parents which isn't fair.  So this really changed the game for my parents, too.  They can be a little more relaxed with the building.
The biggest change is that we will have to prepare this tiny, less-than-ideal home for potentially 2 more children!  Zack is up to the challenge and is at his best doing things like this.  We shifted stuff around and hauled some stuff off to storage.  We have been approved to house this many children in this house, so we'll make it work to the best of our ability, with loads of God's help!  Thanks everyone for praying and asking how we are doing even though we have such boring things to share!  Someday we will be posting milestones of our new child, and we will remember this paperwork stage as "the wilderness", but important nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MONEY - Grants

We talked to our placing agency social worker this week about all that is needed for the dossier.  It is very similar to the home study, only a little less laborious.  The paperwork is a bit more streamlined and less tedious.  The best part is... fewer essay questions!  Just a few letters and things.  The dossier seems to be more "doing".  That doesn't make much sense.  It's more going to appointments and updating things (like fingerprints and renewing passports and getting another physical and blood tests and stuff like that).  All in all, totally doable and I'm excited to get started!  However, we need to move first.  In our conversation, we talked about our life changes coming up.  The move to the bigger house looming nearer, and Zack's opportunity for a new job (it came to find him!).  She suggested we move first, then do the dossier paperwork.  That way everything reflects the new address.  Another however, we will have to move before our USCIS application is processed. That's the approval from the US government to adopt someone of orphan status abroad.  It's currently being processed, our biometrics appointment is this week up in Cleveland.  So we have to do it by the end of September at the latest.  We are going to be laserbeam focused on moving for a little while.  Ok, enough boring update stuff.  Here's a picture.

Ok, sorry, that picture is totally boring, too.  It wasn't boring to do, though.  Those are our grant applications.  It shows how I'm getting used to doing these papers, because it really didn't seem that bad to do 7 of them.  Each one is a similar size to each of the 2 applications I sweated about a year ago.  I've done so much of this that I have all the information in a folder I call "Marriage Papers and Life History" (literally, that's what's written on the folder).  I just get that out and it has all the jobs we've ever had and addresses of them, every old address, our financial items in great detail, family info, you name it.  I wish everyone had to compile something like that because it's so very handy.  What's the value of your vehicles based on condition and mileage?  What's your net worth?  How much gets taken out of your paychecks for taxes monthly?  Annually?  What's your gross income?  Hmm?  Just kidding.  But seriously.

So out of all of those grant applications, 5 are for adoption expenses, 1 is for medical referral expenses, and 1 is for after you get a referral.  We already got turned down for the medical referral expenses, but we were not expecting to get them all.  So we're only a tiny bit bummed. :)  Here's hoping for the rest of them.  It's just another way we are trying to be good stewards of our resources and utilizing all the opportunities and gifts that God leads us to - or drops in our laps!  Praise be to God, the path has been laid out for us and we are following it.  Though we get scared sometimes, we thank God that we have this gift of a purpose and calling!  I know paperwork doesn't sound like so fun a gift, but when put in this perspective, it is somewhat exciting.

Friday, June 27, 2014

MONEY - competitive fundraiser

With the large and scary costs of the dossier and travel in front of us, I can get a little panicky if I think of it too long.  This sort of thing usually occurs at night.  When I need my sleep.  Figures.  Our homestudy has been forwarded to us and to our placing agency.  We are still waiting on word regarding when to start our dossier.  Shall we wait until after we move to our new home (could be happening in the next couple months) or shall we proceed?  Ukraine is supposedly particular about the housing paperwork.  This has actually been a chance for us to think about fundraising again and two things have been happening in that world recently.  First, we started filling out grant applications.  Zack and I are pretty convinced that we are doomed to never-ending essay questions for the rest of our lives.  I feel like we're in school.  We consider ourselves grateful that we even have the opportunity to apply for these, though, so it keeps things in perspective.
Secondly, my sister and brother-in-law have proved to us that they are unending awesome ONCE AGAIN when they posted a fundraiser opportunity to their travel website.  Just read it for yourself - they paralleled a fundraiser another gentleman was doing, in which he was raising funds to travel on the world's most expensive business class seat.  Carrie and Drew thought that, in good fun, and as an opportunity for those wishing for something "more worthwhile" to contribute to, they would post our family's story and accept donations for our adoption.  Like I said, unending awesome.  They raised over $2,000 this way and we are just over the moon.
Here's the link to the original post:
And here's the second one with a video of us in it:
And here's the one they were spoofing:

So thanks, again to anyone and everyone who has helped us in this journey, those I know and those I don't.  Onward we go!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

PAPERWORK - Home Study complete!

Welllll.... the day has come that I can say... Our home study is DONE!!!!!
After we update our expired medicals... BUT... nonetheless...
The whole ginormous thing has been forwarded to our placing agency in Alabama who compiles the documents for Ukraine (our dossier).  Our medical papers really seem like no big deal at this point.  It's like, oh, you need me to print out the forms to update and call the office to fax us the originals and take all the above to two different physician offices and make sure that every line is filled in and follow up on the faxing and mailing of the resulting documents and provide addresses and ultimately send the originals and keep copies?  Noooooooo problem!  Got it.  Check.  Done.

So now we will wait on word from our placing agency on starting the dossier documents.  I'm excited to get it rolling!  I'll keep you updated!  This is a big step in a long road - it feels good!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Goodbye Smartphone Day 7

One week in and I'm feelin' good.  The transition away from my smartphone  has made it's full realization and while it's been pretty anticlimactic, there are a few things that I noticed that have been a surprise.
First of all, I humbly realized just how hooked I was on this device.  Think about it.  Our basic phones were already our phones, watches, calendars, notepads, calculators, alarm clocks, cameras and stopwatches.  Then we added data to them and they became our phonebooks, weathermen, teachers, babysitters, maps, portable televisions, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gaming devices, magazines, radios, video cameras, tiny freaking portable computers oh my gosh you name it the list goes on.  All with the simple download of an app.  Every question answered immediately.  Every miniscule need for entertainment fulfilled instantly.  Never in my life has this simultaneously blown my mind and terrified me quite like it does now.
I also realized how little I really need a phone at all.  The first couple days my new old phone sat there doing next to nothing and I got a little creeped out at its silence.  I kept wanting to make sure it was still on.  It was.  I get very little calls.  Boo hoo.  No but really, I realized just how few direct contacts I get in a day.  All that "feeling in the loop with people" was really me looking at group messages.  Remember when we used to get those mass texts, saying "I appreciate all my friends and just wanted to tell you all that I love you" and you were like, "aww, that's nice" but were secretly slightly annoyed because it just simply wasn't as personal?  Now we base the bulk of our contact with people we consider our good friends on these mass messages.  Now, I'm not saying that group messages are bad or that those mass texts were not... somewhat meaningful. I love facebook.  I love following people's baby bumps and keeping in the loop with people I love who are far away.  It's not a bad thing per se, but it made me want to call some of these friends I haven't seen in a while... to actually talk to them...
The next bit of business is that I moved my phone charger from the bedside stand to the couch.  I know, I should have warned you about the earth shattering news that that was.  Whyyyy did I need my phone attached to my hip even at night????  When I should be sleeping???  Whyyyy did I not realize how silly that was?  If someone were to call me - I can hear it from across the room.  If I just don't feel like shutting my eyes yet or I wake up in the middle of the night and can't sleep (as happens often), I don't turn on my phone, I think.  It's somewhat scary and yet I like the familiar territory and the whole processing life in my brain thing.  Like, nice to see you again thoughts, it's been a while.  And after a little while I take a melatonin.  And then go back to sleep.  I'm kindof in love with this turn of events.  I'm not going to lie pinterest in the middle of the night was a necessity while nursing but it's just not anymore.
Thursday night I felt a little deficient as my last bit of facebook newsfeed addiction left my body and Zack and I looked at facebook together.  It was so much fun.  I highly recommend the activity.  We were not on separate devices looking at it "together", we were actually looking at the video that someone posted of the national anthem in minor key and flipping through that person's baby pictures and commenting on where that person ate supper together.  I'm sure a lot of you do this but I never did and that makes me a bit sad.
Hey, enough of me rambling, I have a book to read.  Here are some videos to inspire you further.  They've  been circulating so I know you've seen them.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Goodbye Smartphone

Funeral will be on Friday, calling hours tonight from 5-8 pm.  Thanks to everyone for the food and flowers.  I'm just kidding of course.  But it is true, I did it.  Goodbye, Smartphone.

I really didn't know how reliant I was on this particular technology until I severed myself from it.  This switch to a basic phone was planned for months.  Even though now we know we could have switched it before our contract was officially up, I don't know that I would have been ready.

I made the switch to a dumbphone (sorry, basic phone) for two reasons.  Both having a lot to do with the adoption.  First and foremost, we need to save money.  Yes, yes, it's always about the money.  And this does cut our total technology bill $15/month.  I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but that's $180 a year and now we have actual, real live, functioning internet.  The second reason is more important, really.  It was taking time away from the thing that should take precedence over everything else - my family.  I had facebook, Pinterest, blogs, and emails dinging constantly throughout the day and always at my fingertips at every moment that I want to sit for a breather.  It called me to pick it up and see what dinged and then it was just, "Hey, let's see what's on facebook".  It's tempting to flip through those things and then very easy to get lost and suddenly lose 20 minutes to an hour.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for breaks in the day and "taking a load off" - but I was getting about as frustrated as my kids when they would say, "Mommy, put your phone down!"  I told them, "You know, you're right.  You keep reminding me of that."  I'm taking their advice one step further and just chucking it.  Facebook and Pinterest and the like shall now be reserved for naptimes and evenings when Daddy and I work on adoption stuff.

It seems rather silly that we labored over this decision the way we did.  I'm glad we took the time, though, because we were able to find very economical solutions to our various tech issues because we talked it all through and waited and gathered information.  We researched alternative internet sources (we didn't have official internet for the past 2 yrs, only... tethering... gulp!  don't tell) We labored over what we would miss and might need to replace, and my fast that I did for a while (fasting from my phone until 2pm each day) was a good little practice run.  After all those questions were answered and solutions found, we finally did it.  Day one, and already it seems silly that all the fuss was over a attachment to a smartphone.  Geesh.

For a detailed explanation of our tech switches - read the following.  To skip it, continue to the next paragraph.  :)  Our printer that you had to hand feed is replaced by a refurbished one, and now we can hook it directly up to our laptop instead of saving the file to a flashdrive and walking it down to our dinosaur computer that couldn't read most of our flashdrives anyway (it would freeze the computer).  Our dead laptop was given new life with a fresh battery.  The maps (the only thing we really felt we would truly miss on the smartphone) were replaced with a Garmin bought from Zack's place of employment.  Our internet that was working for the past two years as tethering (even though it was super annoying to have to plug the phone in and rely on spotty service, etc) changed anyway because we had to update the computer operating system (now we're only 2 years behind instead of 7, yay us!) to use our new printer and then subsequently had to update the tethering app which then made it have caps and would cut us off after a certain amount of data unless we bought the advanced version (yeah right no thanks) meaning we could only play a minute or so of video (unhandy when adoption training videos are about an hour each) and couldn't load complex website at all (including email and the bank website we use to pay our bills).  Whew!  *panting due to run on sentence*  So we decided to get basic DSL and bought a router at our local Radio Shack.  Funny thing is, this whole time we've lived in our house (4 years) we had no idea that it didn't have any phone jacks.  None.  So Zack pulled a handyman move and installed one.  In case you're wondering, the Smartphone was replaced by my sister's old LG slider keyboard phone.  Battery life is great and great working condition.  So there you have it - the whole thing took about 3.5 months.

So today was the first day without good ole Smartphone, and quite honestly I feel freed.  Liberated.  Torn from my shackles.  Also a bit silly.  It felt pretty ridiculous when I got my first call - I didn't know how to answer it and Zack had to remind me to press "Send".  I also felt pretty foolish when I was putting my contacts in (goodbye SIM card) and realized that I was punching the screen and getting annoyed that the cursor wasn't moving.  Ha ha, whoops, I guess I have to find some arrows.  Zack made the joke that "Maybe smartphones make dumb people".  If you're reading this, Zack, I didn't think it was funny.  I only laughed to be nice.

So all in all, I feel very good about this.  Having to turn the phone on and wait for it to run it's power on cycle, scan the SD card, search for service, and all the other things it has to do, will be just inconvenient enough that I won't pick it up every time I have 30 seconds of gap time.  Gap time is good and healthy. Not every 30 seconds of every day needs to be filled with something.  If I want to rest I'll just stare at a wall.  Also, I'm hoping that my new old phone will limit it's vies for attention to calls and texts.  I'll just have to wait until the afternoon to see who repinned my pins.  And I'm looking forward to having my children or maybe even God (get outta town!) be the first things I say hello to in the morning, not my facebook newsfeed.

Here's to smartphone liberation!

Monday, April 7, 2014

MONEY - beans week

Mmmmm, beans.  Mmmm, beans again.  Mmmm, more beans.
Beans.  They're cheap.  They're easy.  They're yummy.  They're cheap.  They're the staple of our menu this week.  We are doing a beans week again... guess why... take a guess... go ahead... because, they're cheap!  It's all about saving the dinero.  This round is a little different from our "refugee week" that we did a while back.  The refugee ration week was inspired by this article, and we ate refried beans (with only salt as a seasoning) and homemade flatbread and tortillas for a week.  At that time we were partially doing it as a solidarity exercise to connect in a small way to refugees around the world, and partly because it was very cheap and we ran out of food money in our envelope (darn you, Dave Ramsey!!!).  Well, we ran out of grocery money (don't worry, just until next payday) and so we are doing a beans week again.  (Did you hear that?  Mmff, pinching pennies makes my tummy growl.)  This time our lineup is inspired by this pinterest post of this article which was inspired by this article!  (Whew, don't you love that?)  We had a leeeeetle more money than last time, so we were able to get some fresh veggies and make it a little more sophisticated.  Not that solidarity is unsophisticated.  Solidarity rocks!  Go solidarity!  Hmmm, I got off topic.  Anyway, here's our little "plan" with recipes where it applies.

Step one: dump a bag of beans (whatever beans you want, we use about a pound of black beans) into the crockpot with lots of water to cook on low for several hours or overnight.  Add water as needed.  When done, drain them and save however many cups for your chili.  Mash the rest and add taco seasoning to taste (I make my own - recipe here) and cilantro (I use dried but fresh is better)

Day 1: Chili and cornbread
Chili recipe (adapted from More With Less  - A World Community Cookbook "Mexican Chili Beans" recipe)
   couple cups of beans you made the day before
   some chopped onions (don't you like my measures?  good stuff)
   2 tsp salt
   1 tsp petter
   2 tsp chili powder
   1 tsp dried leaf oregano
   1/4 tsp cumin
   3/4 c tomato paste
   1 c tomato sauce (wanna know a secret?  for the last two ingredients I used a quart of canned diced tomatoes and a few squirts of ketchup!  I thought it was tasty!)
Dump all above ingredients into a pot and heat that sucker up to almost boiling, ok, boiling is fine, too.  Noms!

Cornbread recipe (this time taken straight from More With Less)
Preheat oven to 400°
Mix together:
   1c cornmeal
   1c flour
   4 tsp baking powder
   1/2 tsp salt
   2 Tbsp brown sugar
   1/2 c dry milk powder (optional) (I did use buttermilk powder)
Make a well and add:
   2 beaten eggs
   1c milk
   1/4 c oil or melted shortening
Stir until just smooth.  Pour onto a greased 9x9 pan and bake 25 minutes.

Day 2: Nachos!
We piled plates of tortilla chips with dollops of our mashed beans, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, cheese, sour cream, and homemade ranch dressing.

Day 3: Taco Pizza (<----- p="" s="" that="" today="">Pizza crust made from Bisquick (taken from Betty Crocker's Quick and Easy cookbook from the "Fajita Pizza" recipe)
   1 1/2 cup Original Bisquick stirred together with 1/3 cup very hot water and pressed into a greased circular pizza pan
topped with: refried beans, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, crunched up chips, and cheese. Baked in a 450° oven for 12 min

Day 4: Burritos
beans and rice and tortillas and ... lettuce and tomatoes and whatever else

Day 5: Chili Mac (not sure what this is going to be, but it's the plan anyways)

So there you have it - an incomplete blogpost about our beans week including shady kinda recipes!  I hope you are inspired to come up with your own version!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Timeline... ish... (!)

We got a timeline!  It's a rudimentary one, and I'm constantly reminded that we are working in the world of adoption - in which timelines are weak at best and futile at worst.  But... suffice it to say, we are projected to be done with our home study (phew!) in April.  Maybe May.  (we really only have one more meeting which is the safety survey of our house - but.. you know... I'm just extending it a month because you never know, you know?)  K, if all that goes as planned, we could... potentially... hopefully... cross your fingers... be traveling in Sept-Nov sometime!  No really, isn't that just the funniest timeline you've ever heard?  Still, we are clinging to it because we haven't had anything like it thus far.  So... by 2017... just kidding. :)

Also, Zack has been promoted to manager at his job!  That's such an exciting thing and we really are very positive and hopeful about this change.

My parent's house is coming along nicely - potentially the move there could happen this summer.  Will that ever be a relief, because we have long outgrown this space.  Once again... making it work.  (Side note - MAN, will I miss this house!)

Lastly, this post made me cry, darn it!  We have been so ready for hard stuff that it's like, come on, let's get going with it already!  Like waiting for a shot - you know it's going to be painful so let's do this already!  For all those wondering - and for my mother - I know there is a lot to do yet and so I AM grateful for the time we have to learn even more and get even more ducks in a row, but it doesn't make the waiting easier.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fire Inspection

I know several of my posts have said the same thing, "We're finishing up our home study", but this really feels like the home stretch.  I only fitting word I can find for this segment of our journey is "slogging."  I hear of people getting their home study done in a few weeks' time, and I look at our paperwork and our journey and I think, "How???"  We really are plugging at it at the fastest pace we are able, due to our family and work and other commitments.  Except for those times that I wrongfully go about comparing our situation, we feel very good about where we are.  We believe whole-heartedly that things are happening in the timing that they are supposed to, with God's leading.  We are trusting and chipping away at it.  A quote from Dory in Finding Nemo - "Just keep slogging".  Wait... something doesn't sound right about that... hmmm.

Several things did happen lately that suggest progression.  We went through the classes up in Kent.  That was a big check mark on our to do list.  Despite the horrible weather and slow travel and finding sitters through the flu season, we did it!!!  We were to have our 7th and final class session on Sunday, during the weekend that I work (I would have worked the night before, slept in the car on the way up and on the way back, and then gone to work that night again), but it was cancelled and we were given instructions to do it online.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Nextly, we had our fire inspection today.  They were supposed to come between 9 and 10, and then we watched the fire trucks and several ambulances drive past sirens blazing at 8am and I wondered if we would see them.  Sure enough, at almost 1pm an ambulance pulled up in our driveway and three smoky, cold firemen traipsed through our house spreading water and snow from their boots.  They explained how they had just come from the house fire that lasted all morning.  I thanked them for coming out anyway, and apologized profusely that the house was such a mess (moments before their arrival, Logan had decided to empty the bookshelf of all the books and evenly distribute them across the floor, basically spelling out "fire hazard").  They checked our smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, commented on the artistry of my evacuation plan, and chatted with Kian who described to them in detail how he was pretending to be Barney Wigglesworth from one of his bedtime stories.  They laughed about his sister coming from "My Kraine", (we tell him his sister is coming from Ukraine and he thinks we are saying "Your Kraine").  The miracle of it all?  Logan slept through the whole ordeal!!!  The blaring beeps of the smoke detectors, and even the fireman coming up into his room to check out the egress points.  I am not even kidding, this is a miracle of miracles.  I am praising God today.

Thanks all, for following along with this arduous journey of ours.  It continues, but we are seeing progress!  It gets more and more real!!!  Hang on little lady, we are coming... slowly but surely!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My adoption reading list

This is a rundown of the books I have read thus far.  Yes, I have read every one of these books cover to cover and took extensive notes on the majority.  We are trying our best to be prepared for anything.  These kids are full of surprises and we want to have a basic knowledge of everything we can get our hands on.  We are also collecting a ton of resources (like programs, attachment centers, counselors, people) so that we can draw on experienced ones when a problem occurs.  Some of these books are warm and entertaining, some of hard-hitting and make me a little sick to my stomach.  The vast majority are very hard to read and difficult to wrap my head around.  The problems orphans face in the world are tragic and scary and seem insurmountable.  Hope.  We must cling to hope.  We must try to do all we can for those in the world without families.  Everyone needs a family.
**= faves

**Toddler Adoption by Hopkins-Best:  First opened my eyes to the unique challenges that the toddlers have when being adopted.  Too young to understand what's going on, too old to be unaffected by the confusing move that's happening to them.  This book threw me for a loop but gave me a lot of hope.

Mei Mei by Bowen - pictures of Chinese orphans.  One look in their empty eyes and you feel a little queasy.

Welcome Home! by Lisa Schwartz - a collection of essays written by adoptive families.  So very interesting to read about the way things were done in the past compared to now.  Also to hear perspectives after 20 years have gone by, and some stories from the adoptees.

**The Waiting Child by Champnella - a favorite.  The world stopped and I couldn't put the book down.  I had to know if Xiao Mei Mei comes home!!!

Adopt Without Debt - Not a lot of new information, but was helpful to see how others did it.  It can be done!

The Grace Effect - required reading.  Zack and I read it together and we were intrigued by this family's perspective on the plight of the orphans in Ukraine.  Many of the things in the book were confirmations of what we've heard from many, many others.

When Work and Family Collide - an easy read about keeping family a priority.  A great reminder.  Recommended by someone we met from Christian Children's Home of Ohio.

**How We Love Our Kids - A game changer in parenting.  Learn about yourself and how you parent and small changes can make a huge difference.  A great, great book.

**The Connected Child by Karen Purvys - Dude, if I could just download this whole book to my brain, that would be greeeaaatttt.  All about forming attachment, enhancing brain chemistry, and helping your child process sensory input.  It's like seriously cool stuff.

**Parenting with Love and Logic - the nuts and bolts of our parenting theory.  So, so, cool and so, so, doable.  Every day I think about this book.  We've been practicing some things even on our very young ones!

Love and Logic Magic birth-6 years - tips for a challenging age.  Some helpful insights.

**Loving Our Kids on Purpose - inspired by Love and Logic, it puts the principles in a refreshing Christian perspective that is also freaking hilarious.  (Weird, I know).  Zack and I laughed until our guts ached.  What a great book.  Our favorite of all time.

**The Complete Book of International Adoption - recommended by a fellow prospective adoptive parent.  This book is the international adoption 101, start-here resource.  A great beginning course on everything you are going to need to know.  Shows you where to start.

In On It - what adoptive parents wish their families would know.  A good book, but I can't quite bring myself to make my family read it.  It's a great resource on adoption terminology and sensitivity.

The Edge of Unthinkable - recommended by a friend, this is a great book from the perspective of someone who went through the foster system from an abusive background.  A very important read.

Successful Adoption - the same type of "101" book as The Complete Book of International Adoption, only with a Christian perspective.  That was nice to read those Christian insights.

Adopting the Hurt Child - this one frightened me and had me in tears in the first chapter.  What some children go through just leaves you feeling like a big cloud of black in a dark hole in the bottom of a pit.  They don't mince words in this book, and the stories are horrific.  That being said, they present a lot of hope and tools for healing.  Next on my list are the sister books, Parenting the Hurt Child, and Brothers and Sisters about adopting sibling groups.  Wish me luck!

PAPERWORK - Home study update

A quick home study update.  We met with our social worker a few weeks ago.  She came to our house and got to know us a little bit.  More paperwork came our way, (this is a trend I'm getting used to), and we will be scheduling a few more visits and going to training in Jan and Feb.  These are the last few steps in the home study process - we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!  It's seemed like a long process for just our home study, but we're trying  not to compare our timeline to anyone else's and just trusting where and when God is leading us.  In other news - Zack got a new job! He will transition the end of this month to work for a local nonprofit - 61 Surplus.  Their profits all go to the aid of orphans - how appropriate!  He's excited to do something new.  The school jobs just weren't panning out.  He's working on his CDL and will take the test again mid January. He hopes to get a school bus driving job in the new school year (because the benefits at the school are just flipping awesome), but it looks like the insurance we will get on our own is pretty rad, too.  Just sayin', maybe Pat's prayer came to fruition.  (He prayed that Zack would find a job that he hadn't even thought of).  An old friend texting him randomly asking him if he'd be interested in this position sounds like just the answer to such a prayer.  We are nervous but hopeful.  Also, my parent's house is coming along - which sounds like we will be moving into our new, spacious abode sooner rather than later!  Praise the Lord!  God may have a few more surprises up his sleeve, but it seems like things are really coming together.  We spend each day ready for anything!  Buckle up, kiddo, we're comin' for ya!