Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Weird, Wonderful Days

I am in a weird spot. The high of the referral is fading slightly, and there is plenty waiting to take up that place in my head. There is the longing to bring our baby home that becomes unbearable at times. There is the worrying about EVERYTHING! Our baby, his health, his location?, his happiness, his ability to adjust, the unknowns of travel, when will we get a court date, how will my other kids do, the need to organize and plan, but what and when, etc, etc. I have fallen down with the flu. I know that stress is not a friend when you are trying to stay healthy.

The holidays were a little surreal. Family and friends are very supportive and excited but I keep hearing "you mean you have to wait even longer now?" Yes. We have to wait longer now, knowing our babies face, name and that he is getting older everyday. We have to wait. What should I be filling my time doing? How can I be most productive and keep my emotions at bay? Just like everyone who has gone before us, I knew this would be the hard wait, but now I feel the weight of it all. Now the wait is real.


We have named our son! We had actually picked out this name very early on - but now we have decided to go with it. His birth names will be middle names (can't share those yet) and his first name will be Amani, which means "peace".

Here are a few holiday photos. We hope that everyone had an amazing holiday and that the new year showers more blessings on everyone!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We Have a Boy!

Yesterday was our big day! I had resigned myself that we would not be hearing anything until after CHI reopened on the 5th of January, and then we get the call!

The kids and I were having a very slow day at home. We had done math and reading and I had taken a break to start some laundry. I was actually having a bunch of odd thoughts like, I need to find the camera and make sure it's charged so that when we do get our call we can take "in the moment photos" like I see on everyone's blogs, so I found the camera. The phone rang, and I didn't make it in time (which happens a lot when we are in the middle of our school day), but I started to wonder if it was Erin. I had never thought that before. I began to wonder if you could be skipped over if they couldn't get ahold of you. Then I sat down at the computer and saw that another CHI family had just received a referral after waiting 32 weeks. I did the math - 8 months - and realized we were still weeks away from hitting that marker. I then thought, if we did get a call, I should look nice and not still be in my pajamas for those "in the moment" photos. I never got that far.

The phone rang and I answered it. It was Erin and my heart began to race! Bret was already on the other line and so I knew for sure. I motioned to my daughter to grab the camera I had just charged and to take photos of me as I got the news, standing there looking very homely, but excited, in my pajamas.

That is when Erin told us that we had a little 10-month-old boy! We were gasping, crying, smiling, the kids were dancing, it was great fun. When we got off of the phone, I sat down at the computer and we saw his sweet little face. He was dressed in pink from head to toe. He has the most amazing, huge brown almond shaped eyes, not any hair to speak of and a gorgeous little face. The happiest part of my day was hearing Bret in awe, teary eyed saying, "he is gorgeous! Isn't he beautiful?"

Of course I read about his situation, and like so many before me, it broke my heart. I hadn't planned for the conflict between being so happy and so sad at the same time. I had forgotten for a moment that our son was coming to us because of great tragic circumstances. My heart was breaking for this baby, his mother, his country. It was hard to reconcile - and I am still working on it - I assume I always will be.

Avonlea and I split the call list and let all of our friends and family know that we had our match. I called Dr. Nancy Curtis, the international adoption pediatrician in our area, and I am hoping to talk to her today. CHI is overnighting the acceptance forms and I am hoping to get them back by Friday so they will go out before the CHI closure for two weeks. The hardest part of the wait has begun. and we couldn't be happier!

Once, again, I am sorry for the unkempt look and the pjs.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More Sound of Music Photos

7 Month Marker!

When we started out on this journey, I remember trying to prepare myself for the longest possible wait. I had estimated, based on what was happening with our agency at the time, that if I chose Christmas as our "longest" - then I would not be disappointed. I remember telling everyone, "we should have our baby home for the holidays" thinking that it would really be much sooner than that. I was wrong. Here we sit, less than two weeks away from Christmas. We do not have a referral. CHI is closing down for two weeks starting on the 19th. Many families with referrals still don't have court dates - and the court dates they are currently handing out are for February. This is the first big "funk" I have found myself in. Now I find myself hoping that we will not run up against the rainy season again - and that isn't until August!

I was having a hard time as we went last Friday to get our fingerprints done. My husband reminded me that our child will come to us when our child is ready. He said we don't want to lament or rush, because the divine plan is in place. I know he's right - but I feel so antsy!

I need to refocus on taking advantage of this time to get organized and do all the little things that will be much harder when a baby is in the house.

We are waiting for you baby - in your own time.


Friday, December 5, 2008

"The Sound of Music" has ended!

We are finally getting back to normal around here after our two week run of "The Sound of Music". It was a lot of fun with sold out shows every night - but it was a big time commitment. It had been about five weeks since I had been home for my little ones at bedtime when all was said and done. I thought I'd share some photos.

We are one week away from hitting the "7 months" waiting marker. I bought a crib the other day. We moved our two youngest into the same room so that the baby will have some space. Our kids have never shared a room before, but it is going well. I have a girlfriend who is asking about throwing us a shower. Is this real? I know it is - but it all feels so strange.

Friday, November 14, 2008

6 Months!

We have hit the magic 6 month marker! It is so hard to believe. We started this process a year ago - and we feel that we must be very close to that referral call. I have to say that with four kids at home already, the days have flown by. I can't believe we are here already.

Avonlea and I are completely consumed by "The Sound of Music". We open on Thursday, and for anyone familiar with theater, we are in tech week right now which is very long hours and very draining. We have been getting home every night around 11:30pm. Av is a trooper and is holding up remarkably well.

Jordan was cast in a commercial that was filmed on Wednesday in Carmel. Because of our rehearsals, Daddy was the one who took him. They left a day early and had a mini vacation that included the aquarium, an IMAX movie and room service. They had a really good time.

Olivia has been cast in the play "The Miracle Worker" at the junior college and she is very excited about that. This will be her first speaking role on the big stage.

Lauren has just been cast as Eliza in her high school's production of "My Fair Lady". She will do an amazing job.

I wonder if our new little one will have the performing bug like these guys do? I can't wait to see this new little personality join our family.

Here is a picture of the kids with their cousin, Luna, at the SF Zoo pumpkin patch.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


We had a great Halloween, despite the fact that it was raining here. At least it wasn't very cold, and the kids had a blast. Our local firehouse hosts a free spaghetti dinner downtown and the we walk through the family friendly, not too busy streets near there. We have been so busy this year with "Sound of Music" rehearsals, that we actually carved our pumpkins last night before we went trick-or-treating. This year Av was a black cat, Olivia was a puppy and Jordan was some kind of sports guy. His jersey looked like that of a basketball player - although it said "baseball" on the front. By the time I put a long-sleeve shirt on under it and pants on under his shorts and he had thrown on a guitar cap on his head - he was a bit of a mish-mosh. Here are some of the photos!

Today we are off to rehearsal, an audition for "Miracle Worker" and my nephew's 15th birthday party. Let's pray that everyone can make it until 9pm without any huge meltdowns.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

The I Love You Song

Here is our next song and video! The kids are having so much fun making these and seeing the finished product. Bret and the kids wrote the song together and then Avonlea sang lead and Olivia & Jordy sang back-up. Our old lab Asia even got to make a cameo appearance.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Our family adoption song

Here is our latest video project. Bret wrote this song and then Lauren learned to play it and the kids each sang their own parts. Our family knows what it is like to wait for that call - and to know that your baby is out there waiting for you. Please share this video with any family that you think would enjoy it. I am so proud of my wonderful children!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

About the Video

My 8 year-old Avonlea and my husband made this video when I was in the city with my two youngest last Thursday. They wrote the song together, my daughter sang it and then they made a video that my hubby edited. I think it came out really great! They are already working on project number two which will include little brother and sister. Incidentally, the morning after this video was made, Av woke up sick with stomach cramps and vomiting. I couldn't believe how much dough she consumed while they were filming. Hope you enjoy!

My Daughter's Music Video

Backyard Camp out!

     Last night the kids and I slept in the backyard in our tent.  I am trying to remind myself to say "yes" to them as often as possible.  Kids are always hearing, "in a minute", "maybe later" and "not right now" from grow-ups.  When they came to me and asked if we could have a camp out - most of me wanted to say "not tonight", "maybe when it gets warmer" (like next summer!) and just plain "no guys".  But I took a deep breath and said yes.  They were so excited!  We had a great time.  Daddy made roasted marshmallows in the oven which were actually amazing.  We watched a movie, giggled, snuggled, etc.  I froze all night.  I kept hearing odd sounds that I know were just chestnuts dropping off the trees.  But I did it - and it was fun.  Everyday I am adding in more "yes" and less "no".  Not as much laundry gets done.  The floor really needs to be swept.  We are behind a day or two on our math - but it is worth it.

     I had these ideas about everything I needed to get done before we add baby - making our home a family of seven.  All the things on my list were about the house, shopping, schedules, home improvement projects and the like.  I think that all we need to focus on before we bring the baby home is being extra sure that everyone feels secure and loved.  Making time for EVERYONE should be the goal above making time for EVERYTHING.  

     Many families in our agency have been receiving referrals at 6 months on the list.  We are almost at our 5 month marker!  We are getting very close - so our new focus is going to be saying "yes" and enjoying the heck out of each other!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

4 Months!

     It has officially been 4 months since our paperwork touched down in Ethiopia.  At times the whole process seems so surreal.  I got a little kick in the pants when I read that one of the recent CHI referrals was to a family who had waited just a little over 5 months.  That is only 1 month more than we have waited so far.  Wow!

     We have been so busy here.  I am fighting very high EBV blood scores and have been simply exhausted.  Our home schooling is in full swing.  My 8-year-old and I have been cast in a production of "The Sound of Music" at our local junior college, so rehearsals are most evenings.  The kids and I went to the Chabot Space and Science Center today in Oakland.  They have an amazing planetarium and lots of fun exhibits to explore.  Here are a few photo highlight from the day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Driver's Permit!

    Lauren passed her driver's permit test today!  We walked out of the DMV at 4:30 this afternoon with that piece of paper in our hands.  She will be 17 in December - and is taking the whole thing a lot slower than some.  She doesn't seem to be in any hurry which is great for me.  It is amazing to see your babies getting older and hitting these milestones that lead to adulthood and letting go.  A number of her home schooling friends have left for college this month.  She is growing up - into such an amazing, inspiring young lady.

     Av was just cast in "The Sound of Music" as Marta at our local college.  I was asked to play the Baroness - so it should be fun to be on stage together again.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Mid-Summer Night's Dream in August

     We all went to see Lauren perform in Shakespeare's "A Mid-Summer Night's Dream" this afternoon.  She played Titania, Queen of the Fairies.  She did a beautiful job.  She is an amazing actor, singer and dancer - not to mention the kindest, wittiest most intelligent and poised sixteen-year-old I have ever met!  (I may be biased, but others will testify to the truth of my words.)  I wanted to include some photos of our girl doing some of the things she does best.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Waiting Game Continues

     Wow, time sure flies!  I am so good about keeping up with reading everyone else's blog entries, just not so good about keeping up with making any of my own.  This waiting period is such an odd place to be.  It has been awhile since any referrals have come in, and it is such a feeling of being in limbo.  In my head I know that our day will come, and we will have our baby - but it is off in the unknown future and part of me has a hard time wrapping my head around it.  There are a few things that I have done, like gotten my shots, and had my mom (who will be traveling with me) get hers.  I find it hard to know what else to do.  I don't know when the call will come, which gender the baby will be, how old or anything.  I really am not accomplishing much on the preparation front.  I assume I have a long wait ahead, but it feels like I should be chipping away at something!

     We are coming up on three months of waiting since our dossier has been in Ethiopia.  Now with the courts closed, I feel the wait extending out in front of me.  I am busy no doubt with my four kids and all the crazy daily activities - but I just hope I am not neglecting to do things that should be done during this time.  I think it will sneak up on my and it will be a mad dash to the finish.  Maybe that's okay?

     Come on referrals!!!!!  Yoo Hoo!

The photos are of our summer activities.  Jordan and Avonlea are shown in their dance outfits for a show they were in at the end of June.  Olivia is playing in the river at Family Camp which was a blast!  Lauren is pictured at a summer pool party.  It has been a wonderful summer that is quickly drawing to a close.  We are still looking forward to a home schooling conference in two weeks and  then our Lauren will start her senior year of highschool.

Friday, June 27, 2008

So Much Excitement!

    There have been so many referrals lately in the CHI ethiopia program.  It is so exciting!  One family who just got a referral said that their dossier arrived in Ethiopia at the beginning of March.  I was thinking in my head that we probably won't hear anything until mid-fall - but I guess it could happen sooner.  I called the travel clinic today to get rolling on my shots, just in case things keep rolling right along, I want to be ready!

    Bret & Lauren (16) are boarding a plane in New York right now bound for Egypt.  They are going to Cairo, and Asswan and on a cruise down the Nile.  L has always been a big fan of all things Egyptian.  She has all the dates, names, locations and history memorized.  She does beautiful Hieroglyph style art.  She is now going to get to see the country in person.  Technology being as amazing as it is, they are able to send me photos from each location from their cell phone to mine.  I am so thrilled for both of them.  I do sure miss them though.  I don't realize what a great team we are until Bret is gone for a day or two.  This time he will be gone for over two weeks.  I am trying to get as many projects done as I can to surprise him when he gets back.

    Many congratulations to all the families who have been matched up with their babies this week.  May those referrals keep on rolling in!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chicken Adoption

I was inspired to write today  - even though our family is feeling sad.  Last night one of our hens, and her three chicks flew over our back fence and got killed by our neighbor's dogs.  We thought for most of the day today that they must be around, but my husband found the evidence this evening that they aren't coming back.

The reason I wanted to make this post was the amazing story behind these chickens.  About six months ago we inherited a group of chickens from a friend of a friend who is battling brain cancer.  They were mainly older hens, many past the point of laying.  As the weeks went by, my husband noticed a "broody" hen in the bunch.  This hen spent all day and night in the nest box.  She wanted to hatch some eggs.  We don't have any roosters, so this was never going to happen, but she persisted.  She went days without getting up for food or water and we knew we had to do something.

My husband, on a whim, went to the farm center and picked out three two day old chicks.  He brought them home and put them under her - not knowing what might happen.  It was love at first sight for all of them!  "Mama Grace" as the hen became known instantly took up care of these three tiny balls of black feathers.  She kept them warm underneath her and lavished them with love and attention.  Christina, Sally, and Kayla (as the chicks were named by our kids) fell in love with Mama Grace as well.  They would ride on her back and stare up into her face with adoration.

The rest of the hens weren't so crazy about the chicks, so Grace and her adopted babies took up residence on our porch by day and in a dog carrier at night.  They loved to spend time in our garden.  Grace was fiercely protective of the babies - and was known to puff up and chase our lab, our kids, and my husband if she felt they were too close to her little ones.

When they were a month old, Christina was injured.  We still don't know how it happened.  She hurt her leg badly and couldn't walk when we found her.  We were sure she wasn't going to make it and put her in a box in our bedroom.  Grace was so distraught by this, that eventually my husband said he was going to give the baby back to Gracie and see what happened.  She stayed with her injured baby, encouraged her to try to move and protected her all the while.  Within weeks, Christina was up and around!  She had an extreme limp that diminished over time.

Within the last weeks we were noticing that the chicks are almost as tall as their mama - and that these birds who were all black when we got them, were starting to develop brown feathers on their necks that resembled Grace's (a completely different breed).

So today we are mourning the loss of our pets - and remembering and sharing a beautiful adoption story.  Grace loved those chicks as her own, and I'm sure she fought to the death to try to save them.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Man Time

I find myself relating to all the stress so many families feel as they play the waiting game.  My four kids do keep life so busy, that I don't find myself spending too much time "feeling" the wait.  That being said, I am on the computer every day (or many times a day) checking CHI updates, reading family blogs and list serve postings.  I check the ticker on our blog to see how the time is passing.  I asked my husband yesterday, how long would he guess it has been since our dossier arrived in Ethiopia?  His guess was "about 10 days?"  It has been a little over a month!  He is one of those people who really doesn't feel the wait, and will just be elated when the day finally arrives.  I have to say, I am a bit envious :)

This is a photo taken of the girls 5 years ago!  I know the wait for our little one in Ethiopia will someday feel like nothing, because looking at this photo, I don't know where those 5 years have gone.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Here is the photo that was described but didn't show up.


The first photo is of Av and J and "Cinnamon" the dog when we were in Sacramento waiting for our POA document to be authenticated.  It was another great excuse to get out of down and do an overnight at the Hyatt.  The kids had a great time.

The second photo is of Av, J and Olivia on a firetruck at our local Firefighter's Pancake Breakfast.  The kids can't think of anything better than eating pancakes that a firefighter made in the firehouse.  Watching the heliocopter land is always one of the highlights of the morning.

The last picture is of Olivia looking beautiful hugging a tree.  (The hairstyle is only minutes old - and only took about four hours to do!)

It's Been A Long Time

I had a feeling I would be one of those bloggers.  My last post was about a month ago!  When I was younger and tried to keep a diary, it was the same story.

Now that we are waiting, and all our paperwork (including the newly required POA) is done and sitting in Ethiopia, there isn't much to report.

What has been going on is that I have been enjoying - and spending too much time - reading other adoption blogs.  I have also been introduced to the world of list serves and have been in contact with families in our area who are going through the process or have their little ones home already.  I happened to find out that there is a weekly play group for Ethiopian adoptees and their families about 20 minutes away from our home!  I have been so excited to hear about families who have received referrals, made it through court and are traveling.  It is beautiful to see these families being created and knowing even though the wait seems long - in the scheme of things - we will in those shoes before we know it.

My husband and oldest daughter are getting ready for a trip to Egypt in the next two weeks.  My 8-year-old is getting ready for drama camp and I am busy planning our home schooling for the next year.  It feels good to be out of the school year and looking ahead at the summer.  We go to family camp next weekend and a home schooling conference in August.  It is going to be a great summer.  and when we get to the end of it, three more months of waiting will be over.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Our Dossier is in Route to Ethiopia

Erin from CHI just e-mailed us today to let us know that our dossier is on it's way to Ethiopia!  The official wait has begun.  The whole thing gets more real every day.

Every time we announce a new milestone to the kids they say, "Does that mean we can go and get our baby now?"  It inspires me how children can be so open, so accepting, so ready for change and love and family in all it's forms.  It makes me believe that there is hope that the world can be that way too.  We are born with that ability and just have to find all the ways to preserve it into adulthood.

Mother's Day and My First Blog Comment!

It is such an exciting thought that by next Mother's Day, I will have another precious child in my life!
Both Bret's family and my family are local, so for us that means double holidays.  This year, Bret's mom decided to do their Mother's Day celebration on Saturday so that we wouldn't have to be two places on the same day.  It was nice being with family on Saturday by the pool and BBQ - and then a nice brunch with more family on sunday after church.
I got the girls matching dresses - as this may be the last year I can get Lauren to do something like that!  Jordan had a dress shirt with similar colors and they all looked so cute!
After spending the day with the kids - being mom like any other day - I decided to treat myself to a movie marathon in the afternoon.  I went to see "Maid of Honor" and "The Visitor".  I highly recommend "The Visitor".  It was one of the best movies I have seen.  I was tempted then to see a third movie, but it was after 9pm, and I was tired, so I went home.  It was lovely though to get out all by myself, and then to come back and appreciate home even more.
I got my first comment on my blog yesterday!  I have been checking and it finally happened.  Thank you Angie!  We are on the CHI blogroll now, so I hope to more officially join the community.