Friday, August 29, 2008

Living and Active

Psalm 43:5
"Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again -
my savior and my God!"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Senior 1954??

This is just too funny. If you go here, you can upload a picture of yourself and see how your yearbook picture would have looked through the ages! Check out Johanna, throughout the decades!






What do you think? Should we go back to the hairdo's of the 1950's?

I Don't Want to Hear Any Whining


You know, I think I should probably put on a little bit of makeup when I go to get pictures of myself.

Here's my belly. And since you can't see my shoes on my feet, I thought I'd include the bazillion pairs of shoes that are constantly plaguing my front entry. What's with shoes? Why don't they just go away?

The View from Up Here

At 28 weeks pregnant, I am feeling rather large. That is funny, too, because I am carrying smaller than I did with either of my other two, even though at the doctor's office this morning my OB said it felt like he was bigger than average. That's just par for the course for me, though. Anyway, I digress. Feeling large. So it is with fear and trepidation that I post my 28 week side shot.

I am also carrying differently than my other two - much higher. Isn't it funny how each pregnancy can be so different? Anyway, I was feeling goofy when my husband snapped this shot, so I decided to get a shot of my view looking down upon my belly. Tee-hee-hee!

Stunning view, isn't it? Notice the lack of feet? I'm pretty sure they're still down there!

Now for the real reason for this post. I am starting to think about stocking my freezer with pre-made meals for after the baby is born. I have been stockpiling meat, so I have tons of chicken, beef (both ground and not), and pork in the freezer and I need good freezer meal ideas. I very rarely pre-make meals and freeze them, and some that I have tried have not been so good once thawed. So, for the hand full of you who read this blog, do you have any great freezer meal ideas? I have looked at books on this subject before, but have never been willing to shell out 25+ buckaroos for the privilege of owning one. Ideas? Anyone?

Two Great Links

Terry has put up a fantastic post today.

And did you see that Spunky Homeschool is posting again? I hadn't checked her blog in months because I know she was taking a sabbattical.

Friday, August 22, 2008

One Big Roller Coaster Ride

When we first told people that we were going to adopt from China, a couple of people told me that it can be a frustrating experience. They assured me it was well worth it, but that it would be a roller coaster ride. They were right. It seems like it has been up and down at every turn. Nothing has gone exactly as planned, and yet things are getting done. This last week was an especially trying one. If you've been reading this whole process with us, you know that before we even started, we called every agency we would be working with to gage their current time lines for getting things done. We did this because we knew we had to get the whole thing finished before our baby is born otherwise China would reject us and we would have to begin again - losing all the money and work we had done. It looked like we would have plenty of time, so we began. However, none of the time lines we were given proved to be accurate. The home study took twice as long as predicted. Now, immigration has our application. We were originally told 1-2 months for immigration. Then this Tuesday, I called just to make sure that our application was in order and to see where it was in the process and got some bad news. They had our application, but they had such a backlog that they weren't even entering the applications into the system for 30-45 days. After that point, it would still be another 3 months until the application would be complete and the final paperwork issued. I told the woman I was speaking with that we didn't have 4+ months to wait and explained my situation. I told her that not only did I need to complete the process before my due date in November, but I was having early contractions and wasn't totally confident I would make it to mid-November. She didn't have the authority to do anything about it, but gave me an e-mail address for the people who did. I wrote a letter petitioning immigration to process my application sooner and told them of my specific circumstances. Then, I forwarded my letter to the immigration contact at my adoption agency and she added a letter of her own to it. She sent it to immigration Wednesday morning. Their response time it typically 3-4 days, so I was anticipating a response next week.

Meanwhile, I have been praying for favor in their eyes. Praying that they would be willing to work for us to be able to finish the process in time. My adoption agency has also told me to do a few other steps ahead of time so that they could have my entire dossier minus the one document from immigration so it could all be reviewed and ready to go by the time they get the final document. They have been so wonderful! Well, this afternoon we got a response from immigration! They pulled our file, reviewed it, and said that it looks like everything is in order. Their computer system is down right now, but they said they will issue our fingerprint order as soon as it is up! In my letter, I asked if we could receive our fingerprint order in time to have it complete before September 12. It looks like they will have it to us even sooner than that! We could not have received a better response. God is amazing! I have to give Him all the glory for this because we were at the point where there was nothing WE could do to get this done in time. If it was going to happen, it would have to be a miracle from Him. The fact that immigration responded so quickly, and with such a favorable response, is a miracle for sure!

So from here one out, we have to start sealing all of our documents. There are 13 main documents that go to China. All of them must be notarized (done), certified by the Secretary of State, and authenticated by a Chinese Consulate. We have two documents completely sealed. Because they originated out of state (our birth certificates), they had to be authenticated by out of state Consulates. We did these completely by mail early on to avoid delays. When a document is completely sealed and ready to go, it has a sticker applied to it that looks like this:

Isn't that cool? I didn't show the whole thing, because I don't know if that is kosher or not, but it is really neat. I have 10 documents notarized and ready for certification, so I will send those to Austin Monday morning. It takes about 2 weeks to get them back. Once they are back, I'll drive them to Houston to take them to the Chinese Consulate in person. Since we are waiting on the approval from immigration still, I probably have time to do that one by mail too, but I have been wanting to visit my brother who lives in Houston anyway. It will be a good excuse to stay with him for a few days. Then all of that will go, along with photos and other misc. items for the dossier, to our adoption agency in Colorado. They will go ahead and review everything and have it approved, or make us change things we missed, before they get the one last coveted document. That way, when we get our immigration approval, I can drive it to Austin for certification, overnight it to Houston to have my brother take it for authentication, and he can overnight it to the agency. This way, they can get the whole dossier out faster than normal since they will have the majority of the review and translation done. Whew! Doesn't it make you tired just reading about it? But God is good. God is faithful. He has worked out every detail from the beginning, starting with putting it in Jerry's heart to move forward with the whole thing to begin with. This is obviously His adoption, His special little girl, and His plan for our family. I am enjoying the ride!

In other non-adoption news, Ethan started preschool (at home) three weeks ago. He LOVES being in "school" just like his big brother. The program I had that I planned to use for him didn't work. After the first week, it was obvious that although some of it was perfect for him, parts of it were way over his head. Fortunately, I had just heard of a program available for free online called Hubbard's Cupboard. The link is to their 3's program, which I am using. We just finished week two today and it is amazing. Ethan just loves it and Aaron is really enjoying it, too. It is Bible based, which I love, and really covers all the basics. We can do a whole day's lessons in 20-30 minutes, so it is perfect for the active three year old. I usually break that up into 2 or 3 segments between Aaron's school. They have a 2 and a 4 year old program too, but I haven't really looked at those. I may continue to use it along side of Aaron's program until Ethan is completely ready to combine most subjects with his brother. Here's a picture of both the boys with the suns they made when we studied day 4 of creation this past week.

Can't you see the pride on Ethan's face? He couldn't be happier with being in school!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympic Glee

My boys have become enamored with the Olympics! They can tell you all about Michael Phelps. My 5 year old is deciding not to watch some of the cartoons that he loves in order to save his tickets (he earns them by doing chores and has to trade one in for each show he wants to watch) to watch the Olympics. What has been so fun about this is that they are old enough now to understand the national pride in watching the USA win. GO USA!

Another benefit is that they are getting exposed to so many sports! We are a football kind of family. In the fall, we watch the Ohio State Buckeyes as if our very lives depend on it. But we don't often watch other sports. In the last week or so, they have seen more sports than they knew existed! And they play all of them together while they watch. It is so fun to watch them play "volleyball" just now! I have on the gold medal match from last night for them. The really funny thing is that because we talk about China a lot with our adoption, they are fighting over who gets to be China almost as much as who gets to be USA! The only problem with all of this new sports exposure is that they happened to see a boxing match on Sunday. Can you guess how their imitation of this is going?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Trouble With Cats

Do we have any cat people out there? I am asking, because my cat needs some kitty therapy or something just about now. In the eight years or so that we have had her, we have had absolutely no problems with her until recently. A few months ago she became deathly ill with an infection of some sort and we really thought she was going to die. Now, a new problem. You see, the trouble with cats is that they don't speak English. My cat cannot tell my why she is acting the way she is. Here's what she's doing.

Yesterday, out of the blue, my cat decided to pee all over the beanbag chair in my boys' room. It was so disgusting and foul smelling! When we discovered it and went in the room, she proceeded to hiss at us. Then after we got it cleaned and the chair outside for now, she was back to normal and seeking attention and acting as if nothing had happened. Then today, I went to a meeting and a friend stayed with my kids. While I was gone, she pooped on the floor where the chair had been. She hissed at my friend, and when I got home and began to remove the poop, she hissed at me. Then this evening, she peed all over a bag I use to take my swim suit and towel to water aerobics in. I cannot take much more of this. I fought desperately to keep her alive just a few short months ago, but will not keep a cat who willfully pees and poops on my stuff. We are going to try a thorough cleaning out of her litter box. When I am pregnant, I cannot participate in that, so it does get a bit fuller than normal. :) I sure hope that works.

If you have a cat and have dealt with this, do you have any suggestions? I am in need of them now if you do!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Homes and Homeschooling

Remember that house we tried to buy and our offer was $245,000 and it was such a disaster? Can you believe that it STILL hasn't sold, even though our realtor-at-the-time told us there was another buyer waiting in the wings to snatch it from us!! And can you believe that they have reduced the price to $229,000. Can you believe that our original offer for the house was $220,000. Isn't that hilarious. You just have to laugh.

I have finally finished purchasing everything for school which starts the second week of September. I'm in the midst of writing lesson plans for 2ND grade and kindergarten. I still want to get an art book for Ella and a music appreciation book for her, too. I am really anxious about starting her on an instrument but with the small place that we live in and the constant feeling of "we're about to move" I just feel it's a bad time for that right now.

My parents are headed to Hawaii again. They'll be "working" on Maui for another six months, although my mom is to come back in late Dec/early Jan so she can be here for the baby to be born. I have planned to take 5 weeks off of school during that time. I've never had a baby in the midst of schooling so I have no idea if that's realistic or not. My dad thinks that my mom should just stay here until he gets back from Maui. She'd be a huge help with school and EVERYTHING else, but I doubt she'll stay that long. I think she'll go back since round-trip tickets are often the same price as or cheaper than one-way tickets. Go figure.

We are still steeped in house hunting. The market here is just insane; it's hard to know if you're doing the right thing by buying right now. We are just expanding beyond this apartment though. On top of the insane market, most of the places around here are located in Florida's INFAMOUS Community Development Districts (CDD) and the fees for living in these places is often $1-2000 or more a year on top of taxes and HOA fees and sometimes "monthly maintenance fees." Whatever those are. What happened to places where you just went and bought a house and lived there? Make sure you read the article about CDDs. And keep in mind that we live in Hillsborough county and that the article is 4.5 years old. It's hard to find a house that isn't in a CDD. The fees are, I believe, partly responsible for the high rate of foreclosures and short sales here. The taxes are already high but then you add these exorbitant fees - that can be raised at any time - on top of them and your house payment just doubled. When they say your monthly payment for your house is $1000, you have to add anther $5-700 on to that and it prices many buyers right out of a decent house. It's infuriating.

I think I'll stop talking about this now, I might punch my computer screen and then I wouldn't be able to check the blogs anymore and that would be a tragedy. Or maybe I'd hurt my hand and not be able to cook dinner. that's an idea.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Life Right Now

Well, since you bemoaned the lack of activity here lately - which is slightly funny since I had been the last one to post - I thought I'd give you a glimpse into my life right now. It will help explain why there has been a lack of posts, as well.

So here goes. Here it is. My life. Almost in its entirety. Are you sure you're ready, because it is gripping - extremely exciting.

Don't I look excited? What is that look on my face, anyway? The couch and I are becoming very close friends. As my uterus continues to betray me, I am learning how to "slow down." I am thankful that I am still able to do a lot of things. Total bed rest would drive me insane! I have found that water aerobics does not cause contractions. Which is funny to me, since dancing with my three year old does. It must be something about the weightlessness of the water. Whatever it is, I am super thankful because I need some sort of an outlet for my energy.

A couple weeks ago, when I was not permanently bonded to my sofa, my grandmother was here visiting from Germany. We spent as much time with her as possible. Aaron absolutely LOVES his great-grandma. She indulges his insatiable desire for games. I cannot tell you how many times she played Sorry with him in one week! I thought you might enjoy some pictures of us with her. Note the game she is playing with Aaron - that's right, Sorry.

Family Happenings

I couldn't decide whether to post this on MOI or here so I'll just do here since, um...we're a little silent over here. Wink, wink.

First, Ella is learning how to cross stitch. I've tried to teach her on several occasions before this but she just hasn't had the patience. Now, she's 7 and she's really getting the hang of it. Not so frustrating anymore. She's not stitching and "E," it's a house with windows.

Second, isn't it great when you're not feeling good and your fabulous husband makes dinner so you don't have to. Ahhh, what a guy!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Here's an interesting article on adoption by Steven Curtis Chapman my dad forwarded to me from I have been thinking about the Chapman family since the horrible death of their youngest not too long ago. It is neat to see that in their grief they are doing more for adoption and not shying away from talking about it in general. I could see grief driving a family either way.

I found the comments after the article interesting, too. So many gay people wondering what SCC's opinion on same sex couples adopting. What does it matter? The government here and in the country they seek to adopt from make the rules. And all the comments about his statements that if only 7% of Christians in the world would take in one child, there would be no orphans - I think it is interesting that people thought he was saying only Christians should adopt.

Enough from me! Go read it yourself!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


By now everyone knows I'm doing a classical education style of homeschooling here in the McFemale household. Today, The Pioneer Woman (who home schools her four kids) put up a great post about Shakespeare for kids. I've never seen these books she's posted about but I want to head to the library and check them out to see if Ella would like them.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

There's a First Time For Everything

Today I had a first. I was pulled over for speeding. I've never actually been stopped before. I made it through 16 years of driving with never being stopped for anything. I cannot say that anymore... Surprisingly, I stayed calm, and he let me go with a warning. Whew!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Now That's What I'm Talkin' About!

Have you ever tried The Grocery Game? If you haven't, you probably should. They have databases that match the sale ads for the stores with the coupons that come in the paper and rebates that are currently available and tell you each week what is at its lowest price. If you do this long enough, and stock up on things when they are at their lowest price, you shouldn't have to ever pay more than the lowest possible price for any one item. I signed up for the one month free trial ($1 for the first month) just to see if it would be worth it for me. I am amazed at how much I am saving because of this! I renewed four stores after my trial was over. Now that I am on my fifth week, I am really starting to see the savings. They say it takes 12 weeks to see the full savings, but I just had to share something from today's shopping. Today at CVS, I spent $5.79 even though my total before promotions and coupons and such was $68.55! You read it right! I saved $62.76. You are probably wondering what I got for my $5.79. Well, even if you weren't, I am going to tell you:
  • 4 tubes of Crest Multi-Care Whitening toothpaste
  • 4 Oral B toothbrushes
  • 2 Colgate Advance tubes of toothpaste
  • 1 infants advil
  • 2 CoverGirl Tru-Blend foundations
  • 2 boxes of Post Grape Nuts Trail Mix cereal

I got all that for $5.79. Not too shabby! And, not only did I get all that for $5.79, I left the store with coupons for $23.28 off my next shopping trip. To be used just like cash. So when I go next week, the first $23.28 of my order will be free. On the house.

Like I said, that's what I'm talkin' about!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Know We Are So Boring

Barring any huge surprises, it's a....


Five little girls in 9 years. Bring on the pink.