Saturday, September 27, 2008
Our adoption process has been one huge learning experience for me, and I am sure that it will continue to be so. Over the past five months, I have experienced every high and low emotion I can think of because of this process. When we first got started, I had two different people tell me that it would be a roller coaster ride, with highs, lows, and all points in between. Boy! Were they right! God has taught me to truly trust him. He has taught me much about what it really means to "let go and let God." He has shown me the meaning of the word sovereign. But what I learned today was that not only does he know my every need, no matter how tiny, but he anticipates my needs and is working on meeting them before I even know the need exists! This is so special to me, because as a wife and mom I feel like I am constantly anticipating the needs of my husband and children. I think that is good and right, but I have to admit that I sometimes feel neglected in this area. I have been known to throw a pity party or two, wallowing in the fact that I spend all my time anticipating their needs, yet they cannot seem to notice a single one of mine and meet it without me asking! What I learned (and am still learning, I'm sure) is that I was looking in the wrong place to have my needs anticipated and met without me asking. God has been doing this for me, and I haven't even noticed! How neglected he must feel!
As I posted a couple weeks ago, because of Hurricane Ike I did not go to Houston. Instead, I mailed my final document to Austin and decided that when it came back I would then make the call about whether to drive the complete dossier to Houston myself or hire a courier, mail the documents to the courier, and have them walk them into the Consulate for me. As this last week progressed, I knew the document would be returning from Austin soon and I began to get all my ducks in a row for Houston. The Consulate resumed their regular services on Wednesday, but I have been having more and more contractions and they are less and less related to my activity level. So I began looking at the courier more seriously. One thing I discovered was that the Consulate was scheduled to be closed October 1-3 for a Chinese national holiday. Well, this morning the doorbell rang at 8:30AM. Our document was back! After much initial elation, I began to do the math. "Send the dossier on Monday, courier receives it on Tuesday, they take it to the Consulate on Wednesday...Oh, wait! The consulate is closed on Wednesday. They couldn't take it until next Monday. Then, even if we pay for expedited service, it wouldn't be done until Tuesday, mailed back on Wednesday, and I wouldn't get it until Thursday. That's almost two weeks even with the rush fees!" So I talked to Jerry about how we could get it there sooner. Since I really cannot sit in the car that long anymore, or go that far from my doctor, he decided that if I felt strongly about it, he would leave Sunday morning around 4:00AM to drive it to my brother's house and still get home about the time we came home from church. Then my brother would have to take it to the Consulate Monday for the rush service. Since that plan hinged on my brother's ability to go to the Consulate first thing Monday morning (since he does have a job and all...) I called. He couldn't go Monday morning, but without even asking if my sister-in-law could, she yells in the background that she can do it! Then, my brother says, "Wait! I may be able to save Jerry the trip here." As it turns out, one of our friends is already driving down to Houston tomorrow to help my brother rebuild his fence, and he could drive the documents for us! He came by this evening and got them, and they will go to the Consulate Monday morning without us having to drive down, spend the money on gas to go down, spend the money on the courier, or wait for Fed Ex to do the driving for us! Then, if all goes as planned, the fully authenticated dossier will be back on its way to us overnight Tuesday and we will overnight it to our adoption agency after finishing a few little steps once it is back! The agency should have it by Friday morning!! I cannot believe it!
God knew that the hurricane was coming and I would not be able to take my trip as planned. He knew how long it would take to get the document back from Houston. He knew that the Consulate would be closed October 1-3. He knew that when I did the math, my heart would sink as I realized that there would be another two week delay. He had already planned for our friend to be headed down at the same time as we would need to go. He had already planned for this friend and my brother to take off from work during this next week to repair the fence. He even planned for my brother's insurance to come through and be ready with all the details for the fence repair to be able to occur this coming week! God anticipated that I would need this done faster than the courier would be able to do it, and he once again provided all the details to get it done. Isn't He great? He knows me so well, and rather than get upset with me for being so frail, He loves me enough to provide for me what I need.
I sure hope each and ever person I know and love is able to have this kind of experience, too. This is really a lesson that is better learned first hand!
Today, Del was sitting on the couch about to nod off for a nap when Rachel jumped up on the couch with him and started patting his belly. "Is there a baby in there?" I laughed so hard I snorted. That's my Rachel. Isn't she cute?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
(please ignore the basket of laundry behind Ethan!)
Any math program that is greeted with this kind of enthusiasm is a keeper! His brother loves it, too, even though the lessons we are doing now are still very easy for him.
I just love that since I am homeschooling, I can make sure my kids are getting the instruction they need. I can skip over the basic color and shape instruction in most programs for three year olds, and I can spend extra time on the days of the week!
Anyway, we are currently studying the early Middle Ages in history. This is the time when the Roman Empire was split into the Eastern and Western Roman Empire and Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire. Do you know where I'm going with this yet?
Today Ella kept calling Constantinople Canterbury for some reason. I could not get her to stop referring to the capital of the Byzantine Empire as a small town in Britain. Then it occurred to me!!! Check it out.
She hasn't gotten it wrong since we listened to the song several times and she says she can't get the song out of her head. It's hilarious. I *love* homeschooling! I can't wait to study the sun in- depthly in science; then we can listen to this song.
I might be losing my mind here, but how about this one! It's short, just watch it.
Then there's always Mammal, The Mesopotamians and maybe but not quite Particle Man.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Then today she set me straight on the IDIOM (not expression) "all of a sudden." W.O.W.!
Monday, September 22, 2008
Anyway, I did so well on Friday. And then on Saturday it (whatever that is) all came crashing down around me and continued on to Sunday. Then for some reason this morning I'm back on the wagon again. I don't get it. There are two main things that I think contributed to my lack of function on the weekend.
1) Del's home. Can't he pick up the slack?
2) The TV is on a lot more.
As to the first, I don't get a vacation on the weekend just because Del's home. Whether he's home or not the house is still my domain. The dishes still must be cleaned, the kids fed, the laundry done and general order kept in the house. I cannot "check out" just because I have back up. Plus, this isn't Del's domain. The poor man has no idea what my daily routine is so how is he to be expected to maintain it when he's home on the weekends?
The second. Basically this weekend we watched the Ryder Cup and football. All. Day. Long. While riveting and interesting, the television is a time sap, an energy sap and a waste of time, generally. I've read many articles about why we should just chuck out TV into the dump, and truthfully often I find that to be the most appealing choice. But I honestly can't do that because we like to relax watching mindless action flicks and let the kids watch VeggieTales and stuff like that. My big problem with the TV is that I don't control the time factor very well. It starts to become part of the family when it should just be a temporary distraction. Hmmm....
But anyway, the point of this post is that this morning I was about to go on a mad clean up since I did so little over the weekend when I recalled a little tidbit I read over at Terry's. Basically she said she makes a small list of things to accomplish for herself everyday and keeps it that simple. That's a pretty good idea, I think and I've been contemplating the strategy every since she first posted about it. The list is the "must do" and anything else is icing on the cake.
I made this list for myself today:
- read to Sarah
- straighten my bedroom
So far, I've done dinner and the laundry and half of school. Plus I made scones, cleaned up the kitchen and got the girls to CLEAN UP THEIR ROOM. Bonus. I think I'll try this method for a while. Maybe it'll stick. I know that dinner should be just a foregone conclusion, but often if I don't remind myself to prepare for dinner, dinner ends up being eggs and toast...again. AND, I must make this list the night before. It's motivation for me to get out of bed.
On a totally different topic: we did go see the house again this weekend. I can hardly believe that in just a few weeks this will be our house. We picked out a dishwasher, microwave, range and refrigerator for the kitchen. We might need to get the countertops replaced. I know those seem really expensive, but it's cheaper than remodeling the entire kitchen and with the range and microwave it will be like having three ovens. I CAN'T WAIT! It'll be so fun to be able to bake/cook many things at once instead of waiting until one is done so I can do another. Plus, we won't pay full price for any of them.
Speaking of countertops, what do you like? I know that granite is all the rage these day but I just don't get it. It's terribly expensive and bad, bad, bad for your knives!!! I sort of like Corian. What would you put in if you could have your choice of countertops?
Saturday, September 20, 2008
ANYWAY, I see her running down the hall and it occurs to me that I heard her get out the vacuum but never heard the thing moaning and squeaking across the carpeting.
ME: Ella, did you vacuum yet?
Huh, how do you "almost" vacuum?
Friday, September 19, 2008
- Eat breakfast
- Chat with a friend while drinking a cup of coffee
- Do ALL of school
- Do all of school without yelling at the kids
- too much anyway
- start dinner (Beef stroganoff in the crockpot)
- make bread
- get the kids a good, healthy lunch before noon and eat one myself
- fold the laundry
- clean up the house
- clean out that junk basket
- play a game of Spite and Malice with Ella
- start to bleach/oxy clean the pile of clothes that's been waiting for that for about two months
- make mint chocolate chip ice cream
- make sure Lily got 3 cups of milk
- start breakfast for tomorrow (banana muffins)
It's not even 5pm yet and Del is out golfing. I love days like today where everything is in mostly good order and I can make the kids happy just by letting the be in the kitchen with me. Sigh. Why can't every day be like today?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I guess that's the only thing I had to buy - which is why I was attracted to this recipe.
Don't these nectarines look so yummy? Look at that color!
Once I added all the ingredients, all I could smell was the vinegar! Whew, was it strong. Fortunately for me, I love vinegar. Unfortunately for Jerry, he hates it... Check out the spoonula! I love mine, too. And it's even red, my favorite color!
After I cooked this concoction for an hour, it was ready to go in the jars. I don't have a dishwasher where you can fast forward to a specific spot in the cycle, so the easy method of keeping your jars warm and sterile of putting them in the drying cycle didn't work for me. I put them in the oven instead until I was ready to fill them.
Here is my fancy water bath canner! A stock pot! I put my steamer basket in the bottom so that the boiling water could circulate.
The jars went in just fine! The only problem with this pseudo-canner is that I didn't have a good way to get the jars out of the boiling water! I used my salad tongs. It worked, but I was so afraid that I was going to drop the hot jar on the tile floor and watch my hard work shatter! Aren't the jars so cute in the water?
And here's the finished product:
I only got three jars from the recipe, and it looked awfully dark to me. I expected the molasses to darken it, but I thought it would look a bit lighter. I think one of the problems was the amount of nectarines I used. I weighed them and used the amount called for in the recipe, but I really felt like there were too many raisins and not enough nectarines. I was a little bit disappointed by that, but overall, I am happy with my first attempt. The jars sealed, which was my main worry.
If I make this recipe again, I will do a few things differently:
- Use more nectarines
- blanch the skins off rather than hand peeling them with a knife
- Don't boil as long with the lid off the pot - I could have used a bit more liquid left
- get a real jar lifter-outer thingy so that I am not so worried that my salad tongs will fail me
But, you know, I did taste some of this, and WOW! it is really good. So I am looking forward to using it. But the only thing I can think to use it for is to put on top of chicken. What else would this go with?
I plan to can again. In fact, tomorrow I am planning to make some strawberry jam with the four pounds of strawberries I got on the cheap this week. I hope it turns out!
Here's the front of the house. The house next door is for sale and there's one other house for sale in the neighborhood. It need a lot of yard work, to say the least. It's not the most attractive house I've ever seen, but it'll do.
There's the stairs up and the room that Del is coming out of is the bonus room. That there will be where we accomplish all sorts of school and fun stuff like that. There's a wet bar in there that I didn't like at first but then Del mentioned that it's got a working sink!!! What school couldn't use a sink for things like cleaning up after art class and such. Great idea. It has room for a small fridge, too. Don't know if we'll actually put a fridge there or build shelves in that area. We think the former owners played a lot of pool in that room.
Here's part of the kitchen and the breakfast nook. The pantry is nice and big. It's not the biggest kitchen we've seen in our house search, but it's about 3 times as big as the current one I've been working in for 2.5 years and the biggest one I've ever been able to use on a daily basis so I'm happy. My dream would be to have a gas cook top and double ovens in there. How does a large family survive without double ovens?There is the bedroom the girls will stay in. Look, it's already purple! And check out the bamboo floors! I think it's so cool because it's big enough to fit all five of the girls in there, and their dressers and all their toys. It's as big as both the secondary rooms put together in our current apartment. That leaves enough rooms for a sewing room for me. THANK YOU JESUS!!!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Amazingly, I have God's peace about this whole situation. I have not felt the worry and panic that has gripped me each time something seemed to be going the wrong way with our adoption up to this point. I have been able to remember all the miracles God has already worked and rest in these. I know he is in control! My prayer now is that the paperwork will come back from Austin quickly and that when it does, it will be clear whether I should go to Houston myself or use a courier. Please pray with me on this!
Thank you for praying for my brother during the Hurricane. They are all doing well, have cleaned up the damage in their yard, and my brother is back at work as his company has power. They still have no power in their home, but they have gas and water so they have stayed there. If the power stays out for too long, they are still thinking they may come up here for a while, but at this point, if they've made it without the power this long, why make the trip? I am guessing that this won't be a storm they soon forget!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Now the next step is to get this one document certified and then get all of our documents authenticated. I don't know when that can happen since I need to go to Houston to do that. I am not sure when downtown Houston will be up and running again! It looks like they still have power, but I have no idea if the consulate building is damaged or if the employees there will even be at work any time soon.
My excitement is somewhat tempered by the hurricane, and actually, I am in shock. I'm sure I'll jump up and down soon - well, as much as a 7 month pregnant woman can jump! As it is, I shed tears when I saw it! Isn't that such a pregnant response to the Lord providing in an absolutely amazing way?
I was planning to leave Monday morning to go to Houston to take my adoption paperwork to the Chinese Consulate there. I am guessing that will have to be delayed. Pray also for that, but really just for all the people who are still there!
ETA: I still haven't heard from my brother, but I called my sister-in-law's parent's and Stephanie had called them at 8:30 this morning to say that they were fine, but they had property damage and no power. If they also lose water, or if the power is out for a long time, they will try to come up this way. They have been without power since 11:30 last night!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Today we also got a slew of passport photos taken. We each need three for the dossier. I have no idea what for...we also have to have 11 snapshots of us. Some just the two of us, some of our family, some with other people...We still need one or two more with other people that we are going to get when we have our church small group at our house. We really didn't have when we needed because usually one of us is behind the camera and China requires that we both be in all the pictures!
I am going to go to Houston soon to take the 10 documents we got back from Austin to have them authenticated. I wish Jerry could go with me, but I will stay with my brother and sister-in-law, which will be nice. It takes about a week, so we'll have time to just hang out. When that is done, we mail it all to our adoption agency!! It will be an almost complete dossier - missing only our immigration approval! The end is actually in sight...it has been so much work that it is hard to believe we are getting close to the end! Keep praying!
Monday, September 8, 2008
Happy morning to ya! Hope your morning is less eventful than mine!
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I guess three-year-olds aren't to be trusted with their own set of markers yet.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Absolutely nothing. Isn't that special.
Today I'm going to work on a gift for him. I guess I could make a special meal. Steaks? I don't know. I'm terrible at presents.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
So here goes - a yummy start to the day. First, assemble all your ingredients:
To make these yummy breakfast tacos, you need
- 1 egg
- corn tortillas
- black beans
- 1/6 large avocado
- lime juice
You will also want a splash of milk and salsa, which are not pictured. I actually left the salsa out this day since just typing the word salsa gives me heartburn at this stage of pregnancy! *Note: I fully intended to photograph each stage of making these beauties, but let's face it - I'm pregnant, and haven't eaten for 10 hours at this point. Hunger outweighed blogging interest here. Can you blame me?
First, chop the avocado and bathe it in lime juice for flavor and color-fastness. Let it sit in the juicy goodness while you do the rest. Chop the tomato and begin to heat the black beans. Whisk the egg with a splash of milk and scramble it up in a skillet. You are now ready to assemble your breakfast goodness.
Split the egg between two warmed corn tortillas and top the egg with the warm black beans (If you don't buy a seasoned recipe, you may want to season these before warming them up. Or season your egg - something - or else this will taste a lot blander than it looks!)
Now it is time to add the yummy, colorful stuff. I add the cheese first so it gets a bit melty on top of the warm food. Then top with salsa, tomato, and avocado. If you have really fresh tortillas, these work well with your hands. If your tortillas, like mine, have been in the fridge for a while already, break out a fork and get busy emptying your plate!
Now doesn't that look better than cereal? or toast?
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The characteristics for the Smile Award are:
- Must display a cheerful attitude. (not necessarily at all times--we are all human).
- Must love one another.
- Must make mistakes.
- Must learn from others.
- Must be a positive contributor to blog world.
- Must love life.
- Must love kids.
It is so nice to think that we make Lawanda smile and she thinks we qualify in these 7 ways! Gee, thank you so much, Lawanda! As with most thing in life, there are rules attached. Here are the rules:
- The recipient must link back to the awards creator
- You must post these rules if you receive the award.
- You must choose 5 people to receive the award after receiving it yourself.
- You must fit the characteristics of the recipient of the award (see above.)
- You must post the characteristics of a recipient.
- You must create a post sharing your win with others.
- You must thank your giver.
I think we have complied with all these rules except for #3. Since there are two of us contributing here, we finally had a chance to chat and decide on the five recipients we wanted to nominate! Honestly, one of the first people who came to mind for us was Lawanda! Her blog makes both of us smile, too. But it seemed a bit lame to just say, "Right back atcha!" so we have nominated five others.
First is Mrs. Amy at Clothesline Alley. Her blog is full of a great mix fun stuff, real life, and challenging posts.
Second is Heidi at Minnesota Mom. Heidi takes the best pictures - especially of her adorable baby. Those always make me smile!
Third is Emily at Ravenhill. Have you seen the amazing dolls she makes? And the pictures of fabric she regularly posts not only make us smile, but drool a little!
Fourth is our friend Marie at My Name is Mommy. I got to meet Marie through Joanna, and she is pretty cool! We have both smiled a lot watching her grow into her roll as mommy.
Finally, fifth is our friend Meagan at The Southern Lindbergs. I also got to meet Meagan through Joanna! Isn't it great that I have a friend with such cool friends. And that she's willing to share?
So there you have it. Thanks for making us smile, ladies! You're all the best!