Thursday, June 28, 2012

D!T!C! - Finally! and Other Important News

After a long and circuitous route of documentation, detours and delays, we are so very excited to announce that The Gang is finally DTC (Dossier to China) as of Wednesday, June 27th!!!!

For those of you who read around here and are NOT immersed in the sea of three-letter and two-letter adoption-ese, that means our big huge pile of adoption paperwork containing all our most personal, legal and private information has been sent to China. As I type this, that almost-sacred package is winging its way to the Chinese government offices to be logged in to the massive waiting list for prospective adoptive parents.

It also means that we are able to review and consider what are called Special Focus files. Those represent kids from the Waiting Child program who maybe have more complex needs, multiple needs, are older, or often are boys. It's kind of like a micro list within the greater Waiting Child Shared List. Truthfully, it's unlikely that we will find our girl on that particular list considering the "list" of needs that The Boss and I have indicated would be possible for The Gang to accept. This list was created in the early stages of our paper-chase and is based upon a extensive survey of needs and the degree of severity that we feel comfortable accepting responsibility for when we consider parenting a special needs child. For example, we feel completely capable of accepting the file of a child with unilateral hearing loss but not one with total deafness. There's some great explanations of all of that here on this site. (It's also a great site for basic understandings of everything we're doing, if you are interested!)

After DTC, we should receive an LID (Log In Date) in about two to four weeks. At LID, we then have official permission to view any file from the entire Waiting Child program. This will also be the point at which our agency begins actively attempting to match us to a little girl with each monthly release of the Shared List. 

While we are greatly disappointed that our file is only just now being DTC'd (yeah, I just made that up!), we are relying on what we know to be true of the process and more importantly of our God. It's not for nothing, it has a purpose, it's all in His control and He's got our backs. This we know. I sheepishly admit, this was also hard to hang on to when last Monday we got news of yet another delay that brought us yesterday's DTC date. May was an extraordinarily difficult month for our family and early June was more of the same. These delays and detours were certainly a big part of those difficulties. When I say we are "relying" on that which we know, I mean that we kept repeating it to ourselves and to each other and tried to take turns being discouraged as opposed to both of us being disgruntled and disappointed at once. We're a good team, that way.  Heh.

So now we wait for our LID and we increase our prayerful focus on our Brynna girl. This is the part of the journey where we get to really test our trust and our discernment as we review files of the sweet little girls that our lovely Social Worker feels "could maybe" be a match for The Gang. It's no small responsibility when reviewing these files. We must prayerfully consider the needs presented in the medical history, the needs of our current family members, and the dynamics of how those things could interact together. While doing all of THAT, we must also be very careful to remember that the file represents a CHILD. A sweet little girl who could be our daughter. And that she is not her needs. She Is Not Her Needs. That is no small task, given our knowledge of the Waiting Child program and the experiences we had with our first adoption journey to Li'l Empress. We take it all very seriously and your prayers over our family and over our decision-making are appreciated.

We are also excited about another big event going on here at The Gang's house, on this very day. I'll be sure to come back later and try to get my thoughts and feelings and reactions to all of the big doings down here. Suffice it to say, with Li'l Empress heading off to Kindergarten in the fall (sigh, sob, sigh) there are certain interventions and supports that her care team wants to investigate. Those of you who read here with special interest in microtia, atresia, and unilateral hearing loss might particularly want to come back and check it all out. I will LOVE hearing from those of you who have Been There and Done That with your own hearing loss and hearing assistance journeys.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {Birthday Lunch}

Last Friday was The Boss's birthday.
We took him out to lunch for his favorite wings.
With his favorite people.

For more Wordless (or semi Wordless) fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

And come back Thursday and Friday.
 There's something really big going on
involving something really little
 that will be making a big change
for one of our little people
for a little while.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What She Said

My friend, Kelly has bravely tackled a touchy topic that I have long wrestled with in the adoption community. It was quite the journey to a confident mutual conclusion for The Boss and I while we debated and discussed it. As I researched and processed it, I had some really interesting conversations along the way. Obviously we have come to our own conclusion about the matter.

All of that is to really say that I love how much I've learned about the adoption process and from others within the community along the way. And while I'm certain I have much more to learn, even on this particular topic, I am very glad there are others who can so eloquently articulate thoughts and feelings similar to my own. Especially on topics as sticky as this can be for so many. 

Head over to her blog and check it out.

Just do me a favor? If you disagree with the conversation,
or the topic in general, do it here on my post. And do it nicely.
We learn best from each other when we foster respect in the conversation.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another Big Reveal

OMIGOSH! A sweet friend just asked me yesterday if I ever posted the final reveal of Baby BlueEyes' new bedroom... and I realized that I never did! It's been done for about a month now, done waaaaay on the cheap and as a (very) belated TENTH birthday gift for our sweet, Eagles loving little guy. I'm so grateful for his easy-going, not-easily-offended, gracious spirit in allowing us to work out room arrangements and plans to accommodate the transition from 5 kids to 6 so pleasantly. Without a word of grumble or self-seeking or anger. Gentle reminders, yes. But never more than that. Which might explain why I wanted to "go big" for my little guy. He's a rare gem in this world and he deserves it to be just perfect, even if it took us FOOOOOR-EVAH to decide how to do it, and pull ourselves together to do it!

So, here's the final product. We are still trying to find a lamp and/or lampshade for the dresser, but since it stays light so long this time of year, we're good for now :)

Just a bit of a reminder of where it started....

Since this pic was taken, we've removed that particular
head and foot board and replaced it with just
a mattress and box spring on rails.
The head board/foot board here matches the one in Li'l Empress's
room. They will both paired there for the little girls' room.
Which is almost done.

This dresser is hard to see since it's black against Eagles green,
but remember this? Repainted and spiffed up again!

See that bare lamp? Yeah. Can't find a shade to match
the other lamp on the desk. Noodling that one still.
The two lamps have completely different brackets to hold their shades
so the shades we keep finding and liking aren't compatible with both
lamps at the same time. Whatever. I'll get to it. :)

This is the focus wall. Baby BlueEyes' favorite thing
about the whole room. His official, NFL approved,
Eagles fat-head wall decal.

My favorite thing is that desk. FREE by the side of
the road. Less than $10 in knob replacements.
I love it when we score like that!!!!

His "welcome to my room" sign.

Even his trashcan is in on the re-do.
Thanks to the grandparents for indulging his love
of the Eagles, even though they are Redskins fans.
Which hurts even to type. Sigh.

So. There ya have it. Baby BlueEyes got a brand new room On The CHEAP!
That's not counting the closet redo, but that was way overdue
and since it has to do double duty for regular household storage,
(ya know, cuz we have five coming up on 6 kiddoes!)
we won't count it against the re-do of the whole room.

Here's the wrap up of a room done on the cheap:
  • Curtain rod - repainted from white to black.
  • Curtains - re-purposed from older boys' former room decor.
  • Frames above bed - donated to yard sale and they just never sold. The Boss painted them with Krylon spray paint and hung them for BBE.
  • Pictures in frames - old Eagles calendar pics trimmed to fit. Now I'm actually glad BBE rarely throws away his Eagles stuff....
  • Other room and wall decor - gifts from family from that long ago 10th b'day
  • Chair for desk - a major steal on a yard sale site. Bought a set of 4 cuz when you have five kids, extra chairs are a must!
We are still working on finishing Li'l Empress's new digs. It's gonna be awhile cuz we have to save up for a new mattress and figure out storage for two girls' clothes and where to put the beds and dressers. We're taking a bit of a break for the rest of the month from room re-organizing and re-arranging! But when we have it ready and done, I'll show you the stuff we have up our sleeves on the cheap there, too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {Happy Flowers}

Is there a happier flower
on the planet than the colorful
Gerbera Daisy?

I submit that there is not.

For more happiness and fun,
head over to Wordless Wednesday.
If you are here from there,
drop me a note. 
Visits are nice, comments make me smile.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Last night, Shaggy graduated from high school. Sigh. I cannot believe he's finished with high school already. I know it's totally cliched and trite to say so, but really, wasn't it just yesterday I was sending him off on the big yellow bus for his first day of 2nd grade? (Heh, I delayed the trauma of the first day of Kindergarten by homeschooling him that year. And then again for first grade. Yes, I am a wimp. I know.)

The Boss and I are so over the top ridiculously proud of the man (sniff, sigh) that Shaggy has become. He is by far one of the most patient and considerate people I know. He is passionately in love with Jesus and desires to serve Him in all his ways. He is a very hard worker, unusually thoughtful and responsible. And he is smart. Like, crazy smart. This kid has maintained straight A's since the third grade. Yes, the third grade. And really, that's only because his school didn't give A's in 2nd grade. And in Kindergarten and first grade, I gave him stars and smileys. (sniff, sigh)

Lest my gushing sound obnoxious and unrealistic, I promise you that we are completely aware that Shaggy is not perfect. None of our sweet amazing kids are. But they are perfect for us. And we are proud of them all. On occasions like this, we are more proud than I can even begin to articulate here. Shaggy and I were talking last night about the varying levels of importance folks place on this milestone of high school graduation. Based upon some of what he witnessed in the students around him last night, he was wondering just what all the fuss and bother is about. And should it really be about all that much fuss and bother. He's quite cerebral, this boy of mine, and was asking himself some hard questions last night after the festivities of the evening died down. Despite his absolute discomfort with any of the fuss and bother of the upcoming big weekend party celebrating his accomplishment (and despite his unease with the fuss of a post like this), I assured him that it's really important that we celebrate the milestones of his life.

As I told him last night, this is just one important milestone in a long journey of many more to come. Granted, it's a relatively small one, in context of the many ahead of him, but no less worthy of celebrating. We join together as a family to celebrate all of the milestones of our life. Because the milestones are NOT about the diploma. The milestones are not about the changing of the tassel. The milestones are about the people in your life that were with you on that journey. The milestones are about the journey itself. And no matter how early in his journey he is, this journey will be fueled by love and relationship. Because that is who he is. That is who we are.

Here he is, our straight A, amazing graduate.

Congratulations, Shaggy. We celebrate YOU!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {Last days}

In order of the morning's departures

Last day of sophomore year

...of 7th grade

...of senior year

...of fourth grade

...of pre-school

Last day of  high school...

Pray for me, ya'll..... It's a big day around here.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Finals Week, The Gang's Way

LadyBug took her first-ever finals at the end
of last week and the beginning of this week.
Despite her casual surroundings and relaxed pose,
she studied hard and took them quite seriously.

Shaggy got exemptions for all of his finals,
major and minor. Senior privileges rock!

Dr. D had Monday off as he only had his four courses
of finals to do on Thursday and Friday.
The jury is still out on just how seriously he took the whole process.

Summer has been coming in by bits and pieces for over a week now.
Tomorrow, it hits full force at 12:10 p.m.

You'll hear the cheers (mainly mine) from where ever you are, I'm pretty sure.

I cannot, however, be responsible for the tears which are sure to flow
later that same night at graduation.
I'll just try to keep them quiet so as to avoid embarrassing
Shaggy with my emotional display.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Guaranteed to Make You Smile!

Li'l Empress learned a new skill on Tuesday night.
We're so proud of our girl!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why I've Taken To Begging

I thought this might be a good time to tell you all just what it is about this contest that has reduced me to humiliating acts of exposure and begging for votes.

Of course, there's the possibility of winning $2500. That's a nice chunk of change when one is scrimping, saving, and selling whatever isn't nailed down while working a part-time job to pay for all the documentation of an international adoption. So obviously, there's that.

But what really reeled me in, hook line and sinker; what really convinced me to bare my nekked face to the whole interwebby world was the opportunity to win FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS to donate to the charity of my choice.

Stop. Think about it.


That's a whole lotta moula.

And when I heard the big dineros being tossed around in the conversation, I knew I wanted to go for it.

Even if a teensy, tinesy part of me was cringing at the thought of ya'll seeing my splotchiness and "uneven skin tones" (say that last part in a somber, Mary Kay consultant's voice, please).

But I NEEDED to try.

Today I want to tell you why.

Living Hope International is a ministry dedicated to providing wonderful care to orphans in China who will likely never be eligible for adoption. These are children who have some kind of family in their lives but cannot be adequately cared for by that family. So Living Hope International takes children in, in agreement with their families (often grandparents too old or sick to care for the child, distant relatives who cannot manage the care of another family member, etc.) and sets about the business of educating them. They also work hard to provide a family-like atmosphere, and on many occasions, they are able to set up apprenticeships and vocational training for their students. All of this is done with the goal of helping the students become productive, respectful members of Chinese society who know how to work hard and give back to their community.

Here is their purpose, in their own words:

Living Hope International (LHI) exists for one specific purpose:

to operate Children's Homes and Training Centers
that offer a safe and loving environment
in which our children can develop to their full potential.

When we traveled to China in 2008, we had the privilege of traveling to the Beijing home and visiting for several hours. If you've been reading around here for a long time, you might remember me mentioning a certain young lady named Lois who stole my heart.  Our tour through the facility revealed such a warm and loving atmosphere. The classrooms were all decorated brightly and the students were all so incredibly polite and helpful. We had a lovely visit and came away humbled by the fact that we are part of something so incredible.

You see, Living Hope International is a sister organization to our adoption agency. It's a completely separate, stand-alone charitable organization that was created by the directors of our agency. Operating with its own board and accountability team, LHI is focused on it's stated mission with a clarity and a purpose that we respect and admire greatly.  You can read Samuel Fang's heart for this ministry here. It came out of a desire to do something for the children who will stay in China, for China's future, for the future of the children who will make up tomorrow's China. In fact, we often tell people that one of the "tipping points" for us in our decision to partner with Living Hope Adoption Agency was the existence of Living Hope International. Knowing that they were working to build families here all while working to strengthen and build healthy children from within China confirmed to us that this was the agency for our family.

We are incredibly proud to be in a relationship with an organization that works so hard and so creatively to help the children in their care become all that God created them to be. It's why I'm NOT to proud to beg for your votes. And obviously NOT to proud to bare my nekked face all across the interwebby.

So now that you know all that, won't you please go and vote 5 times each day, now through June 15th for my "Before" and "After" makeover? Using every email account you have in your home? And would you please consider sharing this post and this information with your friends and ask them to vote too? I'd so appreciate it. And I know the children of Living Hope International would too.

To register your votes, head to the picture of me at the upper left of the sidebar. Click on that and you will be taken right to my make-over gallery. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Thank you for caring for the children of Living Hope International.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {Something About A Man}

There's something about a man
who knows his way around a carpet steamer.....

I'm just sayin'....

head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Get Beautiful And Give Back {Correcting The Error}

My deepest apologies to anyone and everyone that has been trying to vote for me in the 2012 Mary Kay Makeover contest to "Get Beautiful and Give Back."

If you click on this link HERE, it should take you right to my gallery. Yeah, I'm the one with the splotchy red skin and red nose. And no, I was not drinking. Sigh. It's just me. And my rosacea.

Please be clear, you will be asked for your email address and to enter a verification code. Even if the instructions might say to leave a space between the "two words" in the verification codes, there is only one word, do not leave spaces.

I am so very, very sorry for the inconvenience. I've contact Mary Kay and my consultant and we are trying to track down the source of the other post's technical problems but this should be the fix you need for now.

Don't forget, you can vote 5 times a day, per personal email address. And you can share this post and the one I did earlier with folks to help them understand what I am doing. I'm working on making sure all the links work.

Thursday, I'll tell you about the charity I will be giving the winnings to, should I win. I think you will all agree it's worth fighting through the link failures to get to vote!

Again, my apologies. This is the link you need:

In Which I Humble Myself and Beg... Among Other Humiliating Activities

Those of you who are fortunate enough to know me in real life (ha, I'm feeling cheeky today!) know that I'm not really a glamour, diva, high-fashion kinda gal. I stick to a fairly simple routine of drying and pasting up the hair, medicating the rosacea (ugh), brushing a little bit of color on my eyelashes. I throw on my jeans and a tee, slide into my Nike flip-flops and I'm a happy gal. A happy gal with a minimalist's attitude about skin and make-up routine. But recently a bit of an opportunity dropped into my lap and I just have to share it with you.

Remember me telling you about the F@cebook yard-saling that I've been doing? Well, a gal saw some of my stuff and came over to purchase things for herself and her sister. We just clicked. She was intrigued by our adoption journey. When she heard about our "actual" yard sale, she donated a bunch of baked goods to the efforts. Man, did she make the baked goods! They sold out by the middle of Saturday morning, and I think Shaggy and Dr. D were her biggest customers.... as if I never feed them around here or something.

She contacted me to see if I'd be interested in a somewhat humbling creative opportunity to raise  funds for our adoption expenses. Seems that she is a Mary Kay consultant and thought I might enjoy entering their "Get Beautiful and Give Back" Annual Make-Over Contest.

Heh. See, she's a new friend and didn't really know about my aversion to a make-up routine.  But you know what? I did something pretty out of character. I said, "YES."

I said "Yes" to a make-over. I know. What on earth? I almost NEVER wear more than a touch of mascara. Occasionally I add a little eye-liner. But always, always, I stick to the browns and olives. Simple. No fuss. No muss. Matches everything. So I said yes.

THEN she gave me the rules. (She's a smart cookie, this new friend.) Allow her to photograph my "Before" look and my "After" look for the contest and write out a little description of why I enjoyed the Mary Kay make-over session. Then spread the word to win the most votes.

So. Now, I'm entered into the contest.

And now you have to vote for me.

Vote 5 times using your email address.
Then vote five more with another email address.
Or your mother's email address
(Kidding, I'm kidding... I used my husband's!)
Voting runs from noon (CST) on Tuesday, June 5th
through June 15th at noon (CST).

You can vote up to 5x per person, per day.
Click away, my friends, click away!

It's amazing to me the things we will do for our kids. I actually agreed to allow my completely-naked-of-any-products face appear on a nation-wide website. On the internet. All for the chance to win $2500 for our adoption journey. And $5000 for our favorite charity. Wow. What can I say? I love that little girl God is picking for us.

You have to help make the unveiling of my splotchy red embarrassed face and invisible eyelashes count for something. You have to. Please. I'm begging. Yes, that's right. BEGG.ING. I ain't too proud to beg. For heaven's sake, I've already bared my nekked face to the whole interwebby world. There's nothing left to be proud about.

Go. Vote. Tell others to vote, too. Just don't look too closely. Please?! Thankyouverymuch.

Monday, June 4, 2012

46 Years and Counting

Today is my parents' 46th anniversary.

I am blessed to be a part of their legacy of love and faithfulness and intentional choices to stick it out through thick and thin. Honoring God, honoring each other, and honoring the family God gave them was, is, the culture in their home.

At the risk of sounding prideful, you can see it now in the homes of all four of their kids.

And you can see it in the lives that the grandchildren are living now, too.

I am so grateful for their example.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.
May God Bless You with many, many more
days to keep living for Him.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Simple Beauty

After a pretty hectic week,
kicked off by a stomach virus responsible for
stealing time away from my dearest friends
and then dominated by juggling skills I didn't know I had, 
a morning walk through my gardens re-adjusted
my heart and my mind.

The simple beauty is soothing and restorative.

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

Words by Maltbie D. Babcock