Friday, November 28, 2008

We have our TA

This weekend we received word that our Travel Approval document has arrived at our agency's office. We are one step closer to travelling. We now wait a day or two to hear when our Consulate Appointment will be. This will largely determine our travel dates. We are still hoping to make it home in time for Christmas, but we are really cutting it close. We will most likely arrive home Christmas Day. If all goes as planned, I have 9 more days to finish packing, get all our paperwork together, get all Christmas decorating and shopping done, and clean my house so that I am not totally embarrassed when Mom or Aunt M open a closet door.

It feels so good to be one step closer to our little Juliana! I am praying we hear soon about our CA. I am still a little apprehensive about missing all of Christmas. It is also so hard not to have the dates set in stone. I like control, I had no idea how hard it would be to have everything out of my hands.

It is a good lesson for advent. I wait and busily prepare...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Oh, God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry,

When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;

When I have a warm home,
help me to remember the homeless;

When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer;

And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency
and bestir my compassion.

Make me concerned enough to help,
by word and deed, those who cry out
for what we take for granted.

Samuel F. Pugh

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Update on Juliana


There was a surprise in my inbox this afternoon. Our agency received updated information on our little Juliana. This picture was taken November 17th, just a week ago! She is sitting up!! She is now about 26" tall and weighs in at 14 pounds. She is sitting up, but not standing, and sleeps in a crib by herself. I am so thankful for the information as it should help me pack for her. I just can't wait to finally meet this beautiful child.

We have been told our Travel Approval should arrive Friday or Monday and our agency is working in overdrive to have us depart Dec. 10 or 11. That will put us home on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Nothing is set in stone until we actually have the approval and can schedule an appointment at the Consulate. Please keep us in your prayers as we bring this little one home!

Butterball Hotline

I have to admit there was a time a faithfully watched The West Wing. The humor is my brand of sarcasm. Unfortunately most of the time I took issue with the political stances. Still there were some rather funny moments. Here is one of my Thanksgiving favorites.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gratituesday

I am thankful for:
  • Tentative (90%) approximate travel dates (depart Dec 10 or 11)


  • Beautiful girls reading their little sister a story before naps


  • Naps


  • Coffee with lots of cream for those times I don't get a nap


  • The opportunity to care for Juliana


  • Family and friends helping us have that opportunity


  • An amazing husband who does dishes and mops floors


  • Daughters, sisters, moms, good friends


  • Blogger friends who remind us to take the time to reflect on our many blessings -- thanks Laura

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cuando, Cuando, Cuando???

I don't know if you've heard my new blog song. It sums up life around here. When, When, When, will we see our little girl? We are about 95% sure we won't be leaving December 3rd. Our next departure date could be December 10th. We will need to get our travel approval this week for that to happen. If we leave the 10th, we would get home sometime Christmas Day. If we don't hear this week, the departure date moves to the 17th, and we come home New Year's Day. We could leave as late as January 8th.

The hard part is not knowing. If the date were set, I could start making plans accordingly. This waiting to hear when we will leave is causing my anxiety to go through the roof. It is also paralyzing. I have so much to get done, but I find myself drawn to the computer looking for news, analyzing previous months' time to travel. I told myself if there was no news this morning, I am going to rip myself from the computer and get busy.

I need to prepare for Thanksgiving and the First Sunday of Advent. I figure there is now a pretty good chance I also need to have everything ready for Christmas before I leave. We also have two birthdays and St. Nicholas's Feast Day next week. All of which need my attention. Add to that getting the guest room back in order (it has become the location of choice for all the things I didn't want to take care of) since my family will be staying here with the girls. I also have packing and more paperwork to finish. Knowing WHEN would really help me focus on getting these things done.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Band Name

There seems to be a lot of blogger's block out there today, and I can easily join those ranks as all I seem to be able to do is obsess over when our travel approval will come! I already confessed my secret fascination with silly blog quizzes. Combine my blogger block and quiz obsession and you can understand why I am jumping on this meme from Nutmeg.

My Band Name: Beit HaKerem

Album Title: Badly Written and Randomly Enforced

Album Art:


Want to do your own?
Here’s what you do:
1. Band Name: Random Wikipeda Link
2. Album Title: Random quote generator (take the last four words from the first quote on the page ... I scrolled to the end of the quotes and clicked on new random quotes)
3. Album Art: Flickr Interesting Photo (pick one)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Care Package

Today we sent a care package to Juliana. Some sleepers, a blanket, rattles, and candy for the nannies. We also included a disposable camera which we hope will be used to capture pictures of her surroundings at the orphanage. We most likely will not travel to the orphanage, so this is our chance to see what her life was like there. We also put in a photo book with pictures of us. Dh took the time to print out the Chinese characters for Mom, Dad, sister, and family so I could label the pictures. As I was at the Post Office thinking about the sturdiness of a box that has to make it half way around the globe, it hit me how far away she is right now.

Please pray our travel approval comes quickly. I know there are so many important requests for prayer. I feel silly praying for something as inconsequential as travel dates. However, I am ready to hold this child and I really want to be home for Christmas with ALL my girls!


KISSES IN THE WIND

I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.
I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.
Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I'm doing all that I can do.
Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.---Unknown

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Well educated?

I have to admit it, I am a sucker for all those blog quizzes and such. I take them, I just don't post them because I am ashamed to admit how many of these quizzes I have taken. There is one that I have been particularly curious about, but too afraid to take -- The Blog Readability Test (TBRT). I was afraid to see Elementary School level pop up.

I started this blog knowing I was not much of a writer. The problem is I am not crafty enough to scrapbook, I am not disciplined enough to journal, I am not talented enough to photograph well. Basically, I was going to have to deal with the fact I am not talented in these areas, but I needed some way to capture this time. As the quote on my sidebar says, "The days are long, but the years are short." The blog has become my outlet for capturing day-to-day memories.

I wanted to take the TBRT, but I didn't necessarily need a reminder of my lacking skills. Today, I worked up some courage and I took the test. After all, taking the test does not mean I have to post the test. Imagine my surprise when this was the result:


blog readability test

Wooo-hoooo!! I guess I am smarter than I thought. I can't wait till dh sees this as he is always second guessing my grammar :) We all know these quizzes are reliable indicators of character and personality. Certainly, they are just as reliable when it comes to measuring education!

I think the real compliment goes out to all of you reading this blog. After all, you are the ones doing the reading. I guess that college education was good for something -- reading blogs! It's good to know the small fortune paid for that education is finally paying it's dividends :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

And The Winner Is....

Remember I said we reserved the right to veto the poll, or even to come up with a name not on the poll? Well, how could we not be influenced by all you dear cyber family and friends?

We had to email our agency our daughter's American name for some of our paperwork. Although we haven't seen her in person, she looked like Juliana to us. We are still in the habit of calling her Tess around here. When we get to know her we can decide on a nickname for her, but her baptismal name will be:

Juliana Therese

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Waiting...


We had a little surprise in the mail this weekend. It was Tess's background information from our adoption agency. We knew it was coming, but thought we would receive it in a few weeks. I think if we had known it was coming we would have been neurotically checking the mail each day, so it was nice to be surprised.

Unfortunately, since we were not expecting it and it was quite rainy, it was wet. I guess that will just add to the charm when I store it away in her baby box. Not to digress too far, but the baby box is one of the best things I did as a new parent. I purchased a small plastic box a little bigger than a shoe box. That became a place to stash little mementos like the outfit they wore home from the hospital, their hospital id badges, a few cards, baptismal candles, and other reminders of their first few weeks. It was easier than scrap booking (that takes too much time and more skill than I have) as all I had to do was put mementos in a box. I started baby books, and baby calendars. I was not faithful about either, especially for Bophie. The boxes were easy enough that I have been able to keep up with them. My girls already enjoy looking at their baby boxes. I have started collecting these things for Tess as well. I hope to go this week and get her box.

Back to the point...
When we began this journey, I knew that the baby we received would obviously have been abandoned. I had thought about this before we started the adoption and at many times during the process. I have read books about the brave women who give birth to these children, and about what leads them to leave their children. My heart goes out to Tess's birth mother. I have prayed for her and her family throughout our journey. I am thankful she chose to give this child life. The gift she has given our family is profound.

What surprises me is how it felt to read our baby's history -- how intensely it has affected me. It was one thing to think about a child being abandoned, it was quite another to read about our child being abandoned. My heart ached, it is still aching, to comfort and to be with my child. I tried to share a few details of her finding with friends at Mass today, but I couldn't. I cried every time I thought of Tess waiting for us. I saw little children eating donuts and I thought of Tess, not sure if she was getting enough to eat. I looked through bins of children's clothing to find the perfect dress for my Bophie and I thought about the clothes Tess was wearing when she was brought to the orphanage. They had been described as worn. I looked at a baby picture of Bear and thought of Tess only weighing half what Bear weighed -- how vulnerable she must have been.
How intensely I feel for her. Knowing more of the details of her life, I feel this profound connection between us. I knew the wait to see her face would be long and arduous, but once we had seen her beautiful pictures and read her background information, I expected this time would fly. It is busy and overwhelming (how do you pack for two weeks in one suitcase that can only weigh 42 pounds?). It isn't going fast though. I want to be there now. I want to hold her. I know looking back this time will be a small blip on our adoption journey, but today it feels too long.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where Were We?

Shortly after our referral I was curious what we were doing when our little Tess was born. I started this blog because I don't journal or scrapbook, which means the best way I can figure out where we were is to check our pictures. I have our digital pictures filed by year and then month (at least I am organized). When I went to February of 2008 I found the pictures of our trip to Washington DC and NYC. It was a crazy, whirlwind weekend where we took advantage of the free flights offered by dh's company.

This trip has been very significant to our family. We made a special visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I had never been there and was so thankful for the time and opportunity we were given to visit and pray in the shrine. While there, the girls said some very special prayers for a new baby and for our baby in China. Shortly after that trip we learned we were pregnant (I later miscarried). We now know that our little Tess was born around this time as well. This is no coincidence, it is providential.

There were two mosaics where we spent extra time praying -- Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of China. Our little Mary Guadalupe (MG) was due on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. When we lost her, I took it especially hard. I felt she was an answer to the prayers of my dear daughters and I grieved their loss as well as my own. I now take comfort that she is watching over Tess. While I can't be with her-- MG has been there with her. She has been watching over the sister who needed her most.

Our travel will hopefully occur in early December and we will most likely be in China on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This, too, is no coincidence. Isn't God amazing?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2 Weeks...

If you walk into any supermart in the country you'd think we were two weeks before Christmas. Thankfully, this is not the case. Today it is two weeks from Thanksgiving... Enjoy these Thanksgiving goodies.



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My First Blog Award!


A big thanks to Amy and Bia for giving me my first blog award! I was so excited this morning!

The rules to follow are :1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.2) Pass the award to other 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
I am a baby blogger and am not sure I could name 15 blogs, but here are some deserving of the award: Kim for getting me started blogging. Therese, who like Bia, lives in my alternate universe with 3 boys. Charlotte who has the best coloring pages and gets my girls singing "Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong..." And Laura who had me chuckling yesterday with her brave new fashion choices.

I would give a bonus award to anyone who can tell me how to change the text colors with my poll on the right... I just can't figure it out using the blogger dashboard.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Names

Do the rest of you have as much trouble deciding on baby names as I do? I don't normally think of myself as indecisive, but when it comes to choosing the perfect name for a child I find myself completely unable to make a final decision. I usually go round and round, finally make a decision, then I change my mind. My last minute changes drove dh so crazy that when pregnant with Bophie, he said, "Bophie is the name and we are NOT changing it." Even in the hospital I was asking him, "Are you sure?" Of course he was -- and it was the right name.

Throughout this adoption we had agreed Therese would be one of her names. We could not agree on the other. We couldn't even agree if Therese would be her first or middle name. We finally agreed on Mary Therese (with plans to call her Tess) and sent out our email to the world announcing our little one. Then, predictably, I started having second thoughts.

Mary and Elizabeth have always been at the top of our list. Mary was the name of the child we miscarried this year and I feel she is connected to this child a world away from her family. Elizabeth because dh likes the idea of calling her Elizabeast :) and because we are going to the hill country. A third option came when we were learning the pronunciation of her Chinese name. Her name is pronounced zhoo lee on. It sounds like Julian-- so Juliana seemed to fit. The feast of St. Juliana is 3 days before her birthday too.

Now we are back to being undecided. For so long we have called her Tess, but I truly like all of these names. So we decided to put up a poll to see what our family, friends, and cyber friends thought. We reserve the right to call her whatever we like, even something not on the list. However, this is your chance to try to influence us a little. Be sure to vote on the poll on the right, or leave a comment letting us know what name you think best fits our little one.

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Pictures

Here are a few more pictures. Isn't she a cutie!
She looks like an angel!

Initial Responses

Our package came today with more pictures. I promise to get them up as soon as possible because this little one is soooo adorable. I am having some trouble with our newfangled printer/scanner (imagine that). For now you will have to be content looking at this sweet face. Perhaps I can fill in some of the temporary void with the story of the call.

It came around 11:30. I had the phone ready to go, everything at my fingertips. I thought I was prepared.... There just isn't any preparing. Dh had a meeting (a big meeting) that he could not get out of, but was coming home around 1:00. We thought there was a chance he would make it home in time, but he didn't. The phone rang, I stifled my desire to scream "finally"-- I could not stifle the tears.

I think my girls were as excited as I was . They jumped as much as I did each time the phone rang. When the call came, they all did their best to contain their excitement while I was on the phone. I was crying, trying to hear Liz from the agency give details, and text dh at work. It was chaos. Dh wanted to see the picture, but was stuck in the meeting. Since he had his blackberry he could see it if I put it on the Internet. So if any of you were checking the blog between 11:30 and noon yesterday you probably saw some craziness as I tried to get the picture on my site for him. Thank goodness for the blog.

The email with her picture came while I was on the phone, which meant I had to leave the quiet study (I had shooed the kids out so I could concentrate) and head to the laptop in the kitchen. All three of the girls were immediately at my heels. My tears started flowing again when I opened her picture. When I looked to see the girls' reactions, I knew Banana had her mother's tendency to wear her heart on her sleeve. She was crying with excitement too. She has such a tender heart and has really been praying hard for this baby. I know she will be my little mother when we return.

Bophie, being only two, is pretty oblivious to the whole thing. She did not like me spending so much time on the phone as it interfered with her lunch and nap. Bear was also excited, but it just wasn't at the same level. I realized she has a harder time conceptualizing this adoption. We have waited longer than she can remember. To her this adoption has always been talked about, but nothing happens. Last night in the car she said, "You know the best part of this adoption will be getting her, not the pictures." We have all been so wrapped up in seeing her pictures, finding out where she is, how old she is, how big she is. These things are relatively unimportant to my five year old. She just wants Tess to finally come home and I can definitely understand that!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Wait Ends

Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. Proverbs 25:25

After 2 years 8 months 2 weeks and 6 days of waiting… waiting… and waiting… Today we have seen the newest member of our family.


Her Chinese name is Qian Xiu Lian. The first name is a surname that everyone in the orphanage gets. The second is really her first name which means beautiful, elegant, delicate. The last is equivalent to our middle name and means Lotus.

She was born February 19, 2008. She is in Chongqing. She is a quiet baby, loves music, her favorite toy is a rattle, and she is ready to smile. I can't wait to see that beautiful smile!

Waiting

It's 8:23 a.m. The phone is charged. Last night dh changed it to the loudest ring he could find. He also turned on the vibrate. This is the one morning I will answer my phone. I have my list of questions for the agency printed and hanging on the refrigerator. Despite my better laundry judgement, I have a pen and my phone in my pocket. Our agency is in Colorado, no one is even there yet. They won't call until after 11:00 a.m. local time. It could be as late as this evening. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. The girls are excited too. Banana is reading over my shoulder. I know she is just as anxious as I am to see this little one's picture.

How am I supposed to teach perfect squares to my third grader? My first grader has some grammar we didn't finish yesterday. Even the littlest one is more squirmy. Perhaps my time would be better spent working on a new banner for the blog? I am not even sure I could concentrate on that...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tomorrow

Tomorrow is going to be a big day for our family.

Tomorrow, God willing, we will get the call introducing the newest member of our family!! Our agency reported today that they have received our matches. They are translating them from Chinese and will be calling us tomorrow afternoon. I am already in tears. I can't imagine how I will make it through the phone call tomorrow. Thankfully, dh is coming home early so he will be here as well. I am hoping we will also get pictures via e-mail and be able to see this dear child's sweet face. Imagine, we are already linked and I don't know where she is. I have never seen her face, but I love her so much...

Tomorrow we will also be attending the funeral of my Uncle Stick. He died in a tragic accident early Sunday morning. I wasn't particularly close to this uncle. He was most known to me for his long, hippy beard and uncanny ability to eat everything in sight and still resemble a stick. At any family gathering you would inevitably hear him say, "There's no such thing as a left over." Nonetheless, we will be praying for him and his siblings who will miss him greatly.

Tomorrow.... How will I ever make it through today?

Hope (continued)

My very sweet friend Emily sent this message to our homeschooling group this morning:

Well Ladies- It is a new day. Our fight must be one of great dedication to this Country. We must keep our eyes to the future and our hearts on fire in our home. Our children need us right now, today, they need us to form them in their faith, and give them a vision for this Country that few have. We have future Pro-Life leaders, Senators, Congressman, Mothers and whatever else God wants eating breakfast with us right now! I will be praying for all of us on this sad day. I am more committed to the fight for goodness than ever. This fight will be won with prayer, dedication and whatever our Lord wants.

Thank you for this reminder Emily. I felt sad this morning, but as I said in my previous post, I take comfort in knowing there are so many faithful who are renewing their commitment to Our Lord. I pray for strength, wisdom, and fortitude for myself, my family, and especially my children who will have to carry on this fight in what will most likely be a more hostile environment.

My cyber friend Charlotte shared her Words of Wisdom. I found more wisdom in the first reading for today:

My beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me. Phil 2:12-18

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hope

Today our nation elects a new leader. It is clear we are at a crossroads. Tomorrow, we could be looking at a president who would promote a culture of death at an unprecedented rate. The thought has caused many (myself included) to be fearful, anxious, upset, and troubled.

I had a ray of light today. I took all the girls with me to brave the polls. I was afraid if I waited for dh to be home I would end up waiting hours. We actually only waited half an hour. It allowed us to make it to the noon Mass at our downtown parish. We have wonderful priests who decided there would be exposition all day today.

The church was packed! I had a hard time finding a parking spot. I went in and found I was joined by the regular daily Mass crowd. But there were also many families there. Many homeschooling moms took the trouble to load up all the kids during lunch/nap time to make the trek to a parish downtown to be near our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. There were other people there on their lunch breaks. Many people who stayed to pray the rosary and the lines for confession looked like a Friday rather than a Tuesday.

I know whatever the outcome of this election is, no matter how disappointed I am that some cannot see the danger of a pro-death president, there are still many faithful flocking to pray for our country. I know that tomorrow, regardless of the election outcome, God will still bless the faithful. I know that there are so many others, good dear friends and family, striving to make this country better. I find true hope in that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Food Drives

I don't know if this only happens in my area, but the week of Halloween always seems to bring out kids collecting can goods for food pantries. I actually look forward to this. I like clearing out the cans that seem to collect dust. I also much prefer this to other fundraisers where I am asked to spend $14 for a roll of wrapping paper I could pick up for a buck fifty.

This year, the first group was a handful of girl scouts on a scavenger hunt. They were panting and out of breath trying to hurry. I think we made their day. A month or so ago dh was at our parish as they were cleaning out the pantry. They had the absolute biggest can of spaghetti sauce I had ever seen. Dh, being unable to pass up something free, brought it home. It took up half a shelf in my pantry and, really, the jar was more appropriate for a dinner of 50 rather than our family of 5. So the girl scouts got the spaghetti sauce. I now have half a shelf in my pantry too. It was a win-win situation.

The next group introduced themselves as the local high school National Honor Society. You know top of their class, smartest kids around. I was in the NHS when I was in high school as well, so I was happy to retrieve 4 large cans and clear more space in my pantry. I bring them out to the two young girls at my porch who then exchange funny glances and look back at me and say, "How do you think we should carry these?" Apparently, we were the first house they had solicited and they had not thought about how they would actually carry the cans they wanted to collect from our neighborhood. Remember, this is the National Honor Society. I went in to retrieve the sturdiest bag I could find. After thanking me one girl turns to the other and says, "you think anyone else thought about how to carry this stuff?" The group of 10 year old girls scouts were smart enough to bring a wagon, I guess it is a good thing I gave them the spaghetti sauce.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Feast of All Saints


We have been so blessed that everywhere we have lived we have been able to find wonderful, vibrant parishes. We have lived here for a little over three years and we have the most wonderful Dominican parish. Each year the Knights of Columbus have a Saint Party for the kids. It is always one of our favorite events. They have a Grand March and judge costumes, a pinata, a fishing pond, cornhole, and many more saint-themed games. My girls really look forward to it. The highlight is the Stump the Priest Game. All the kids line up and our priests try to guess which saint they are. The kids prepare little clues so Father can ask a few questions. It is so much fun.

This year Banana was St. Philomena. She won the prize for the 2nd and 3rd grade costumes. She also stumped Fr. L who got a few preview clues. Luckily, Fr. P helped him out. Bear was St. Collette. Fr. L is French so he guessed her pretty quickly. Bophie stumped them both with her St. Sophia costume. Allegorically, St. Sophia had three daughters; Faith, Hope, and Charity. I pinned three little dolls labelled Faith, Hope, and Charity to her jumper.

Grandma likes to spoil the girls and knowing my aversion to more candy, she got them all cute light up shirts this year. I noticed how the lights showed through their costumes which reminded me of the Sacred Heart. I am already thinking how I will incorporate that in next year's costumes.