Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I was watching the news today and saw that stocks aren't doing so hot because of a report that home prices fell 15.3% in April. Curiosity got the better of me and I checked online to see if the house we just finished not buying was still on the market. Keep in mind that our former realtor had told us that another buyer was waiting in the wings with an offer on the house and we were going to lose out big if we didn't go through with the deal.

Well, I found the house. Still on the market. And they've lowered the price from $264,000 to $249,900. That's less than $5000 off our offer. We're stunned. They should have just accepted our initial offer of $220,000.

What's with our former realtor? We plan to interview realtors next time, because we think this is crazy.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yet Another Update

So again, almost all I blog about is the adoption...but hey, that's my life right now! We had our final home study visit yesterday. Our social worker seemed really positive about us and now we will wait for her to write her report. I think it will probably be about two weeks before we get it back from what I can gather from what she said. We were really fortunate to work with a very nice social worker and I felt like the whole experience was positive. The only thing that I wish had gone a bit better was when she talked to the kids. Since they have been in VBS each evening this week, they are so tired. So when she talked to them, they had just gotten up from their nap and were a bit cranky. She asked Aaron if there was anything special that his daddy does for him or things they do together, and he replied, "Not really." At least when she asked the same question about me he said that I read books to him and played with him. Ethan answered every question, "I don't know." and then proceeded to give an answer after that! But hey, they are 3 and 5 years old! They were both able to show that they understand something about adoption. She asked Ethan if his sister would come from mommy's tummy and he said, "No. She'll come from another state." For a three year old, that's pretty good. He knows she will come from China, but I guess he isn't exactly sure what China is!

We also had a conference call with our adoption agency this week. They just went over the basic steps to compiling the dossier, which we have already done most of. There were quite a few families on the call. I knew we were working with a large agency, but for some reason it still surprised me that there were so many people at the same stage as us in the process.

So from here, we begin sealing the documents that have to go out of state: our birth certificates. Then we wait for the home study report. Once we get it, we can file our I-800A form with immigration, which is basically a form asking for advance permission to adopt from a foreign country. That is the longest wait while compiling the dossier. Because the I-800A is a new form as of April 2008, we were told that they are fast-tracking them when they come in since they are training employees on them. It is fortunate for us that they are!

Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that we only applied and were accepted to our adoption agency three weeks ago. I feel like I have been doing this for much longer than that! And I am so impatient! I am worried that immigration is going to take forever so I want to get the home study report yesterday so I can file already!! I know that I still have 22 weeks until this baby is due and that is my only real deadline with all of this adoption paperwork, but for some reason, when I hit 18 weeks, I started a mini-panic like, "Oh my gosh! I am almost halfway through this pregnancy and nothing in the adoption is truly complete yet!! What am I going to do??" But Jerry has been quoting one of my favorite, yet recently forgotten verses to me a lot - in fact, just this morning. Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." So I am praying. I am already praying for this little girl who is not even conceived yet. I am praying that I will not worry about timing. And yet at the same time I am praying that the report will come back quickly! How's that for dual-minded! But fortunately, God knows and understands me and knows the deepest desires of my heart. And the really cool thing is that he cares!

Friday, June 20, 2008

So Happy I Could Cry

Do you know I like to start things but not finish them. Take for instance the laundry. I have no problem whatsoever putting clothes in the washer, transferring to the dryer, folding even ironing. But I abhor putting clothes away.

Then there's the dishes. My most avoided, hated chore is emptying the dishwasher. This is so irrational, I know, but I avoid it terribly. The dishes pile up all day long because every time I go into the kitchen I know that I must empty the dishwasher in order to take care of the new dirty dishes and since I can't stand doing it I just leave the kitchen and ignore it. Isn't that TERRIBLE!!!

Well, all those years of waiting and training have paid off. Ella can now empty the ENTIRE dishwasher all by herself. Even all the dishes in the high shelves. I could seriously cry over this. People have been telling me for years that this period I'm in is the hardest part of being a mother of many young children and that once they get older it'll get easier. I was starting to not believe them. God bless Ella's heart. I can hardly believe it. She's growing up and she really is enjoying taking on more responsibilities in the house. Vacuuming and laundry sometimes and now the dishwasher. She even likes to clean the bathroom.

I'm going to go cry now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Setting up the tent is a man's job.

A park 20 feet from the campsite with ill-placed benches and no shade. Look at poor Meagan hiding in the shade.

We all went swimming down the road a piece. Actually, all the sane mothers stayed out of the water. It was high tide and the water was no deeper than Del's waist. He took Ella to the other side there and they looked for shells and stuff.

Savannah and Rachel had loads of fun throwing mud at everyone. Everyone else didn't think it was so fun.

We stayed until it was dark. The sunset was beautiful.

Del was our fire man and we roasted hotdogs and corn for dinner and of course marshmallows for smores after dinner.

The next morning we made another fire (okay, Del made the fire) and cooked more hotdogs and marshmallows. It was a healthy breakfast that included cookies and jerky.

After we broke camp we took the girls swimming at Hugenot Island State Park, which was a lot of fun. There were hermit crabs like crazy. We stayed until the lightning came and then packed up and went home. It was fun. I think we were amply prepared and we'll be ready to go for a longer period next time, likely in the fall so it's not so hot. The worst thing was that Lily can't walk all the time yet so she had to be carried 100% of the time. This limited my ability to be helpful in any way, and as it was already hot she added another 20 degrees to my "hotness" and I was sweating profusely while she jumped on my lap and smacked me in the face.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Life Right Now









Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pretty Painless

Considering the amazing amounts of paperwork involved before the social worker actually stepped foot in our house, I was expecting something a lot more grueling than what actually was. Our social worker was really nice and we spent a lot of time just chatting. Then she did my personal interview and Jerry's personal interview. Next week she will do our couple interview and talk to the kids. She already spent quite a bit of time talking to the kids asking them what they liked. She asked Aaron about school and what he was learning. Aaron drew her a picture - they really liked her. That's good, because otherwise they might not want to answer questions next time. Anyway, most of her questions were about our parents - their marriage and parenting and then what we took away from that to use and specifically do not use in our own marriage and parenting. She told us that it was refreshing to have a couple that does not have abuse and divorce in their background, but both come from good families whose parents are still together. We are indeed fortunate! Her only concern was with homeschooling, how we planned to socialize our children - a common question we are prepared for - and how then we also plan to expose our daughter to people of her own culture if she is at home. We had already discussed that too, and had a ready answer that she seemed to be very pleased with.

I also filled out my immigration paperwork today. The only thing I am missing for that is the home study written report. So she will come back next week (we are not certain of the day yet) and then start writing the report. From what I can tell, it is about a 10 page written report - it is very in-depth. So we are in good shape! We just have to wait...wait for our police clearance reports to come back and wait for our home study report to be done. But we are on schedule still to submit to immigration in July like we had hoped!

Thank you to all who prayed today!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Tomorrow is our first home study visit. I am a little bit nervous about this. It's not that I think that the social worker will find us unfit to adopt, but no matter what it is nerve racking for me to be scrutinized! I found this to be true when I was teaching, too. I was a very good teacher - I never got a negative evaluation or was turned down for a job when interviewing - and I knew I did a good job, but every time my supervisor scheduled a time to observe my class and evaluate me, I got nervous. It was no better year six than year one either.

So if you think of me tomorrow, please say a prayer that this visit goes well. We will have another one next week, too. Hopefully, having already met the social worker and knowing a bit more what to expect, I won't be as nervous next week!

I now have gathered all of my official documents for the adoption dossier, too! The last ones we had to send for came in the mail Monday, and the last one I had to pick up locally was picked up today. Oh, wait - we are still waiting for our police clearance report...I forgot about that one! Anyway, I can begin the process of sealing these documents now. I will start by sending the documents that have to be certified out of state to the appropriate states (our birth certificates). I also still have some documents that need to be notarized. I'll gather them all for one big trip to the notary. Once that is done, and I get my police clearance report, I'll send off all the in state documents to the Texas Secretary of State. Then begins the in-active portion of my dossier preparation. I will have to just wait for things to come back! I am going to send everything either FedEx or USPS Express Mail and include pre-paid FedEx or USPS Express Mail envelopes for the return to try to get things to go as fast as possible, but I will still be at the complete mercy of others. After I get my home study report back (hopefully the first week of July) I can also send in my application to immigration. Immigration will be the longest wait of the whole dossier preparation process. I am going to start filling out that 16 page mammoth document next week!

So that's where we are now! I'll update tomorrow as to how the home study went. Things are moving along, though!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Promise Not To Get Obsessed With Rachel-isms

Mom, how do you spell "H?"

Mom, how do you spell "L?"

Mom, how do you spell "P?"

Mom, how do you spell "N?"

Mom, how do you spell "towel?"

Mom, how do you spell "X?"

Mom, how do you spell "breakfast?"

Mom, how do you spell "G?"

- You should see the scribbling on the paper she is supposedly writing all this down on.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Raising Them Right

I'm sitting on the floor cuddling with Rachel today. Keep in mind that Rachel is 2 years and 8 months old. She likes to cuddle and snuggle and be a baby. So anyway she looks up at me and says

"Mom, I want to go shopping, I'm sad. Can we go to the store?"


Ideas Anyone?

Has anyone ever experimented with chewing gum and pregnancy sickness (because we all know "morning sickness" is a really bad misnomer)? I find that as long as I have some sort of food stuck in my pie hole my nausea goes away. But if I'm not chewing on something I start to want to vomit. I wonder if gum would be a good stand in for the many calories I'm doomed to consume if I can't find a less high-calorie way to stop this nausea.


If you haven't seen this already you need to. I am just amazed at the duplicitous nature of our society. Maybe every society is like this. But I am astounded that we can celebrate (and rightfully so) such an amazing, miraculous event and then the same minute this is happening, abort a baby the same age for selfish reasons. Make sure you look at the 6 pictures included, you can see baby's teeny little legs. So precious. I watched the video, too and that was cute. I was leaking tears.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


So there are a few things that I want to research bit better with this baby, namely slings and nursing bras. I had a sling when Ethan was little, and because he was colicky, he really needed that closeness, but I hated the particular sling. It was an adjustable kind that had a buckle closure. I always felt like it was insecure and I hated all the extra fabric hanging around. So I am researching the pouch style slings that are sized to mom's body rather than being adjustable. My friend who had a baby last month has one and she let me try it on with her baby in it. We are roughly the same size on top so I was able to see what it would feel like. I really liked it! The baby felt so much more secure than I remember with the sling I had. So I am really looking at two right now: Hotslings and Peanut Shell. So I would love to hear opinions from anyone who has a sling, especially if you have one like this that doesn't adjust but is fitted!

The other thing...nursing bras. I have bought my nursing bras cheaply at Motherhood with the boys. I remember not really being totally happy with them. But Aaron weaned himself at 8 months, so I didn't really need them to last. Ethan's were nasty by the time I weaned him when he was a year old. I never felt like they were totally comfortable, and they weren't totally supportive, and they didn't last long. I had to replace a couple of them with Ethan too. So this time I want to invest in some good ones. I am planning to nurse longer with this one and I really want them to last and be comfortable. Fortunately for me, Jenni at One Thing posed a nursing bra question this week! She has so many more readers than we do so she got tons and tons of responses. So I am going to look at what was recommended to her. Of course, I don't get absolutely huge, so that is not a consideration for me like she said it was for her, but still, it is a great starting point. Any suggestions on good nursing bras? I know I have a few months to consider, but you know, I like to be prepared!

Friday, June 6, 2008


Is there anything more nostalgic than the TV show Little House on the Prairie? I remember watching it with my mom in the late afternoons growing up. The past two days, I have lay on the couch during the boy's nap and watched an episode of this classic show on the Hallmark channel. It sure does bring back memories! Why can't there be truly good TV on today?

Did Someone Say Chocolate?

Remember my moment the other day? Well...

I went to the store to get pizza toppings and since boxed brownies were in the same aisle as black olives I decided to pick up a box for dessert tonight. Don't they look yummy.

When I got home I was forced to sit on the couch with my eyes closed while the rest of my family rustled bags and ran around rearranging...something. Except for Lily of course, she was griping at me to give her a drink of my yummy, cold beverage.

When I opened my eyes I was confronted with the most blissful sight ever.

Oh yummy, chocolatey, goodness sent from heaven above. This should tide me over for at least three days.

I guess I should just leave the taking care of the craving of the chocolate to Del. Apparently while I was at my first OB appointment, he was off to the grocery store with all four kids, hooking me up. I will now relinquish my vice-like grip on the control of the chocolate stash and humbly place it at my yummy husband's feet.

Bye-bye Housey

We wrote our realtor back with our list of concerns and told her we were not going to extend the contract. She told us that we misunderstood everything and it doesn't matter anyway because there is another buyer waiting in the wings to get this fantastic deal...so there.

She might as well have stuck her tongue out at us. Sigh.

It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of thing. I was getting more and more nervous about our ability to make the payments on this house considering that everything is getting more expensive. Del was confident about this, but I'm a Nervous Nelly and I'd rather be in a house where we didn't push our threshold of comfort on the price of the house to it's very outer limits and beyond. My only regret is that I'm pregnant, now and this apartment is already too small for us as we are. I'd be happy with this size house, if we had a back yard. These poor kids are sadly indoors way too much.

Not that I regret another baby, by ANY means. WOOHOO, for baby.

The prospects for resale on this house are not good. We don't want to be here for another 10 years waiting for the prices in this area to stabilize. We really feel that 3 years is the most we'll stay here and - as I've been told before (Granny) - it's apparently taking quite some time for the prices to recoup. Everyone knows that Florida is one of the hardest hit states with this whole housing "crisis." It's worse than I thought it was.

The bottom line is that our most fervent prayer was that if this was not the house God wanted for us, if he TOTALLY disagreed with our decision to put an offer on this house, that he would make it abundantly clear to us. I am of the humble opinion that the lock expiring and then the contract itself expiring before we heard anything back about it, is a pretty clear sign and I am not in the least interested in missing God on this one. I have a hard time keeping myself in his will and since this seems to be so very clear, I'm happy to be in it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Few Steps Closer

My days are all starting to blend together. I guess it has been a few days since I posted any kind of adoption update, and I am actually having trouble remembering what all has happened in that time because it all runs together. I have spent just about every spare moment on gathering documents, so we are making good progress. Today was fingerprint day! The kids were so excited that we were going to the police department this morning! It was actually quite uneventful, but they did get a "Jr. Police" sticker badge that they have proudly been wearing ever since!

I got my Dossier Preparation Guide Monday night and began to look at what documents we could go ahead and begin on. Some of them are the same as what is needed for the home study, so it is nice to have some overlap. Tuesday and Wednesday I did the following items that are for either the home study or the dossier: sent for certified copies of our birth certificates, went to pick up a certified copy of our marriage license, wrote an adoption petition (stating who we are, our educational levels, why we wish to adopt from China, what type of baby we desire, and a statement that we will love and not abandon, abuse...said child), wrote a non-employment letter for me, wrote an employment letter for Jerry (actually a CPA has to write it but I had to gather the supporting documents and give her a sample of what is needed), wrote a detailed financial statement of our assets and liabilities, got fingerprinted and sent off for our police clearance reports, and got an appointment set for our first visit from the social worker for our home study. The good news is that I don't think there is very much more I can do for the time being, so I get to breathe now! Our first home visit is next Thursday, so we should have all the documents we sent for by then, which is good.

The next step is sealing our documents. All the documents I have listed have to be notarized, then sent to the Secretary of State to be certified, then sent to the Chinese Consulate to be authenticated. Since we were both born in different states and are not currently in the state either of us was born in, we have to send Jerry's birth certificate to the Secretary of State in Ohio and then to the Chinese Consulate in New York. My birth certificate has to go to the Secretary of State in Illinois, and then the Chinese Consulate in Chicago. The rest of our documents will go through the Secretary of State in Texas and the Chinese Consulate in Houston. I still have my physical with my GP tomorrow, and I will get back Jerry's employment letter Tuesday. After I have all of that, I will start sending off these documents to their appropriate locations for the sealing process. I will save everything that goes to the Chinese Consulate here in Houston for the very end, after everything has gone through immigration and take those down myself. I am going to do that in person because it goes much faster that way. That probably won't be until September.

Anyway, the good news is that we have our home study scheduled now and the social worker still thinks we can get the report finished in June! Jerry and I are going on vacation the last week in June, so when we get home, we should be able to send things off to immigration. That will be our first big hurdle in the dossier preparation crossed and the second on it's way. That will feel really good!

Because there are so many documents piling up and we are photocopying everything I had gathered quite a stack of paper. I went out and bought a 13 pocket expandable folder and have something for each pocket to keep it organized. I feel much better knowing it is all neatly filed! And of course, I bought red for China!

Well, that's the update! Lots of fun! After working non-stop on it for so long, it will actually feel a bit funny to not be spending every moment on it now. I guess I could start filling out my paperwork for immigration, though...



Here Housey, Housey, Housey

Our lock expired yesterday. Isn't that nice? And no we didn't hear from our realtor.

Del did talk to the loan guy - who's title I don't actually know...but his name is Jason - and he said that the second mortgage guys (for the former owners, we don't have a second mortgage in the works) are the ones giving us all the trouble. Anyway, it would have cost us over $600 to extend the lock for a contract that, what is going on with it, we have no idea. So we didn't extend the lock.

Our realtor very kindly sent us an email last night at 11:42 - a full hour and 42 minutes after I was soundly asleep. Maybe if I had stayed up to watch Antonia get kicked off Top Chef I would have checked my email one more time and gotten it. Actually it's Del's email, but I digress. I finally checked the email about 9 this morning. In this email she told us that not only has our lock expired, but our contract expires tomorrow, the 6th. COOL! And, AND...we have until tomorrow to decide what we want to do, sign an extension to the contract and then get the sellers to sign it also. Nice. Then she told us that the county appraisers office always puts the market value of the house at 85-95% of the actual market value so what's listed there is correct for what the VA appraised the house at, which is $252,000. She said that since it's been a week since we called the county appraisers office and they still haven't fixed the mistake on their website that the house listed there must be correct, never mind that it's still listed as a two-story house. This might just be me, but I'm pretty darn sure that attics don't count as a second story, and if they do I still say I've been deceived about the livable space in this house, because who is going to live in the attic?

Del reacted quite badly to this email. He has no faith that any numbers she throws out there are trustworthy since not one single number she's given us has been correct so far; from house payment to insurance payment, she is always, always WAY off.

She said that "they" were wanting to appraise the INSIDE of the house and wanted to do this on Monday or Tuesday and that maybe we'd hear back by the end of next week. Great! Another time to look forward to. Or not.

The best word I can use to describe Del's tone when I talked to him about this is: disgusted. Why didn't our realtor think of this on Monday when we would have had a full 5 days to talk about our options and then get an extension signed.

Oh and here's the best part. We have asked her about a half dozen times for a copy of the contract, which we should have had upon signing the contract and we STILL don't have a copy. I have sent her an email asking her to send us one AGAIN since this will help us to make an informed decision about what our next step should be.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

You Would Think I Was Pregnant

I made lunch for the girls...it's a little odd, I admit.

Planning an Adventure

I'm pretty darn excited. I think I've mentioned elsewhere that I have lots of *very* fond memories of camping as a child. We'd go to Haviland Lake or Lake Vallecito in Colorado and catch rainbow trout and cook them over the campfire, and have bubble gum bubble blowing contests and hike and...oh my gosh, it was so much fun!!!

The last time I went camping was nearly ten years ago. Isn't that sad? That was a long time ago.

Well, we've finally made it to the point where we're not paranoid about the kids anymore and are willing to take a baby camping. We made a reservation at Little Talbot Island and bought a tent and we're going camping. Granted it's sort of just practice. We're going for one night so we can reintroduce ourselves to the practice. I am really looking forward to it.

We set the tent up in the space between the apartments.

Parenting Differences

So I have always known that men and women parent their children differently, but as the boy get older, those differences are becoming more pronounced. When I watch my sweet boys relate to each other, I tend to teach them things like learning to talk to each other without yelling even when they are mad at each other. I teach them how to negotiate taking turns or dividing the blocks so that they both have some. You know, cooperative living skills. Important stuff, right?

This morning, my children were playing football all decked out in their Ohio State Buckeye uniforms complete with helmets as they often do. Many times this game results in tears by the three year old, because lets face it, the five year old can hit harder and anticipate his brother's moves better. And the tears are always from the younger child. This morning I noticed that they had been playing football for quite a while with not a single tear as a result. Not even a frustrated, "Aaron!!!" from the younger. Jerry called them over and said, "Show your mother what I taught you." and then told me, "Watch. I taught them how to charge each other!" What?!!? This does not sound like any of the cooperative skills I have been working on with them! But I watched, wondering if this might have something to do with the sudden lack of tears. I watched my two, precious, young boys charge full speed toward the other! What Jerry had taught Ethan to do was duck at the last minute, when they were about to crash (the part that normally brought him to tears) and take Aaron out by grabbing him around the knees! This caused them to both be able to pull the other down fairly - no more "I'm bigger than you advantage"! Although this is not something I would have thought to teach my boys, it was a great thing for them to know! Suddenly, I am seeing more clearly just how wonderful it is that we were created male and female and how much we need both.

Monday, June 2, 2008


The coolest part of pregnancy has arrived. I am feeling my baby move! This is by far the earliest I have felt movement. I think with my first two, I was so sick for so long that I couldn't feel the flutters for all the nausea and vomiting. Now, at only 16 weeks, I am definitely feeling this one! What was really cool is that I went in for another (yes, another) sonogram today since my mom is training two new nurses to do ultrasound at the crisis pregnancy center she works at. They needed 47 women to sign up to come in for sonograms to help train the new nurses, so of course I went in to do my part. Anyway, the man who was there doing the bulk of the training instruction did the measurements once, and then he stepped back to allow the first nurse come over and do the same thing. I thought I felt a lot of movement, but still it is not strong yet so I kind of doubted myself. But then the first nurse started and he was in a totally different position! At one point, it really seemed like he was saying, "I want to sleep, but you people keep poking me. So I am going to move as far away from you every time you try to look." It was so cool because since he got so active and I was watching him at the same time, I was able to know for sure that what I was feeling was movement for sure! How fun!

On the adoption front, I mailed in my home study application today. I was amazed at just how much information was necessary for this! For those of you who are not familiar with the home study process, here is a summary of everything I mailed in today. First was the basic stuff: names, birth dates, driver's license numbers, social security numbers, height, weight...address, phone number, where we have lived for the last 10 years. Next we had to submit a sketch of our home with each room labeled with their dimensions and what they are used for along with a photo of our yard. Next is employment information and work history. We provided our marriage history, which is short since we have no previous marriages to report. We had three people fill our references for us. Then came all the questions: six about our character/religion/what we like to do as a family, three about our health, and twenty-seven about the child we want to adopt/our expectations about adoption/our expectations for our adopted child. Then we provided our life insurance information, health insurance information, adoption readiness information, plans for guardianship should something happen to us, a complete financial disclosure including our monthly budgets for various necessities, and our signatures allowing them to look into our past records. That is all in the main application. Attached to that, we included requests for criminal background checks, a four page typed autobiography for each of us, a portion of our last tax return, and a hefty check! :) In addition, we are still gathering some information to give them when they come to the house for the first time. This includes: a marriage certificate, birth certificates, copies of driver's licenses (I guess we could have done that already...), proof of employment, an notarized physical examination forms. We also are going to get fingerprinted on Thursday and mailing in fingerprints with a request for our personal criminal history from the Texas Department of Public Safety. The home study agency will arrange to come out to our house twice and then based off of the information we give them in those visits and what we mailed to them, they will write a report recommending or not recommending that we should adopt that will go to immigration!

Well, if you ever wondered what was involved in a home study, now you know! If you never wanted to know, you should have stopped reading a long, long time ago! :)

One of these days I am going to have to post something not baby related...it will happen...one of these days.