Monday, July 30, 2012

A Big Week in Adoption

We have been one of those families in this adoption journey who know the vague overview of the steps involved in adoption. As for the details we're simply following the lead of our agencies and jumping through the hoops they tell us when they tell us. Last week, our ignorance gave way to bliss. Instead of having to finish everything stateside before we can register with India, we are eligible to register NOW with a finalized home study and a few other documents. Today our home study was finalized.  


India's central adoption agency, CARA, opens registration the beginning of every month for 100 families to register. And the quota fills up fast we're told. Like within the first two days. The first of the month....that is Wednesday....and that is incredibly good news because India has been processing families quickly and matching them with the orphanage their child is in within about two months time! That means it is a possibility that if we are successful at being registered Wednesday we could know where our daughter is living by October! October!!! We could start learning the language, researching the area and learning about her care. We could know where she's waiting and we could pray down God's protection over that little place. 


So we invite you to pray with us that we would be registered successfully this week and that God would guide the India authorities clearly and carefully and give us favor with them


God controls all things. This week we're welcoming and asking him to control all things in this process. Thanks for asking him with us.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Trying Our Hand At...

We've been trying new things lately and wanted to share a few of our successes.


As I alluded to yesterday, we tried different global cuisine this past week. Indian, Israeli, Italian, Azerbaijani and Mexican. Some things went up in smoke (see previous post) and other things turned out great. So great, in fact, that the leftovers doubled as a late night pizza snack. So I thought I'd share a couple of the recipes we loved.


1. Chocolate zucchini bread. Feeling good about zucchini, whole wheat, olive oil and most importantly chocolate, this "bread" disappeared in less than a day.




You can get the recipe by clicking here


2. Homemade pita bread. I've tried cutting back on buying what I can make. This week I tried pita for falafel night. Found at the same website as the zucchini bread, the pita tasted great and the leftovers were gobbled up the next two days as pizza crust. Simply topped with bacon, marinara and a piece of grated string cheese, we placed them under the broiler for a few minutes. Yum! Spinach would have been great on it too! Here's the recipe I found from the same website:
Wimbush Family Pita Bread1 tablespoon yeast1 ¼ cup warm water1 teaspoon salt3- 3 ½ cups flourDissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. I make all sorts of sizes to suit different snacks and meals. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’.Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.Preheat oven to 425F.
With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a b
With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden. Stick around for the first five minutes of baking when the pitas perform their magic and puff up from flat pancakes to proud, four inch high pitas.
These store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks. 

And while I was trying my hand at some new things, I decided the pillows that came with our couch needed a redo. Late one night when I was trying to think of inexpensive pillow covers, I remembered the priceless t-shirts sitting in our drawers. We have a few that we would never give away because of sentimental value. I wondered if they could be part of the pillow solution. I tried them over the pillows and found that most of the designs were off-centered. So, I searched until I found fabric that I liked. Actually, napkins that I liked and with the help of my sew talented mother-in-law, we made these! New pillows and special keepsakes all in one!


First, I spotted these napkins online at World Market. They were made in India. :) Then, as a bonus, I found a coupon on Retail Me Not. Hurray free shipping!




Next, I bought special, iron-on material adhesive and started cutting. We used the pillow filling from the old pillows then attached the t-shirts with adhesive followed by sewing around the edges. 


After a lot of sewing by Deanna and a little sewing by me, these were the finished products just in time for school officials to tour our home and hear about proposed changes for the interiors of our campus apartments.


From the beautiful reunion of our dear Sudanese friend with his mom
From our 4 1/2 years doing life in Stu-B

From the camp where I grew so much physically and spiritually

From an extra shirt for our India trip that also supported an adoptive family


And there are a few jewels from last week, materially speaking. Monday I'll share about some special surprises concerning adoption and a story about redemption. 

Happy Sunday to you! 




Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Cartoon Series: Burned Bread

Here's the latest issue from The Cartoon Series.


Wednesday morning we upheld our usual family tradition of running out the door late. It's pretty much, single-handedly, always my fault. But, for the blog record, Wednesday Jason stepped out last. Only because he was opening all the windows in the house per my request. 


Tuesday night we attempted Indian "poori" and I filled the house with such a terribly thick grease smell that we had to air out the whole place. I was swearing up and down Wednesday morning when I woke to that dreadful smell that I'd never fry one single thing in my house for as long as we live here. 


This is how it was supposed to look
The online tutorial made it all look ridiculously easy. Never trust those perfect little pictures. My bread flattened and fried instead of floating and puffing. And oh how my mouth was watering for that perfect, puffy Indian bread. But because we had company, we ate the flat fried stuff instead. Thick, smoky atmosphere and all. :) I was super thankful for Trader Joe's masala sauce that saved my neck. That stuff is amazing!


So my lesson Tuesday night was two-fold:


1.  Never mix two types of oils. They smoke at different temperatures. Should've known.


2. Don't try new things when company is coming. Or, at least try it the day before. That should give enough time for the smoke to clear. :)





Friday, July 27, 2012

Milestones

In two months time Levi has had the official language explosion. He can share most anything on his heart...even puffing air through his lips and shaking his head when he thinks something is silly or can't find the words. For example, this was his communication the beginning of June:





And this is an unedited version of his communication now, the end of July:





He is a JOY! Often we shake our heads at how precious a gift we've been entrusted with. 


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This weekend we took him to an old mill that is open every third Saturday of the month. We got fresh ground wheat and grits. And, we learned a whole lot about sock making, butter churning, quilting and lye soap. 


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Also last week we had the treat of going with the grandparents to a baseball game. Levi loved the Chick-fil-a cow (he's a fan...and we're totally supporting them in this crazy discrimination ordeal) and of the frog characters that were parading around. Here's him and Uncle Travis discussing the last few innings....not really. :)


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What precious days these are getting to hear him squeal at tickles, declare to the library staff mama pooped, go crazy over rain puddles and insist on having his boo bah-bus (blue paci). I'm learning slowly about being a good mom and I've got the most precious, patient teacher.


I'm hoping to find some time in the coming week to share a few of our favorite products and books in the journey of parenting and hopefully get some of your wisdom. There are so many awesome things we've loved and I'm sure you have some of your own.


Also, we have so many, many other challenges, soap box stories, and adoption updates to give. Keep watching for them as we try to find time between Levi's sleeps in the next few days to share them.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Don't Wake Up Uncle Tony

If you've ever seen those great Directv commercials you know how crazy the connections are that lead them to the end warning. Like, "Don't wake up in a roadside ditch," or "Don't sell your hair to a wig shop." My warning Monday morning was "Don't procrastinate. You'll wake up Uncle Tony!" What messes I've gotten myself into from this bad habit of procrastination. Sometimes, the messes have humor and sometimes they have tears. Jason often calls me a cartoon character because of the ridiculous things that happen. So, while I'm learning this lesson of planning ahead and doing things well, I'll share some bloopers along the way. Maybe I'll call it The Cartoon Series.

Cue Monday's commercial.

When you leave quickly for a trip you hadn't planned or packed for you stop and buy your toddler chocolate milk for a treat.
When you buy chocolate milk, you and your toddler get little sleep.

When your toddler gets little sleep, he wakes up early.

When he wakes up early you go outside so he won't wake Uncle Tony. 

When you go outside to not wake Uncle Tony, you remember you need to start painting a belated birthday gift for your Dad.

When you start painting a belated birthday gift for your dad, a dog comes up and runs away with your paint.

 
When the dog runs away with your paint, you run after him and he gets it all over his paws and you.

When he gets paint on you he runs over to your toddler who starts screaming.

 
When your toddler starts screaming he scares the guineas and roosters.

And when he scares the guineas and roosters he wakes up Uncle Tony.

Don't wake up Uncle Tony.

Stop procrastinating. Plan ahead.

---


The day turned out great despite the little sleep and early wake up call.  We got to visit some really important people. Like my aunt who is in a nursing home, my uncle who is so precious to me, and my cousin who just happens to be leading the number one store in the company right now. Praise the Lord for His favor and help! Also, we managed to finish the bird feeder the next morning... only inside out of Lucky's reach.


And despite the picture that looks like the dog was about the get Levi, Lucky never made it up into the van. Although Levi was scared of him for the rest of the day, by day's end they became friends. When Yucky, as Levi calls him, peed in the yard, a friendship began.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Photobucket, Finally

The things to share keep stacking up. So before we have more beach pictures, I hoped to share the first. 


This week has been busy already. Meetings and projects for Jason while Levi and I made an impromptu trip to Alabama. This morning reminded me of a great DirectTV commercial. I'll share the play-by-play later in the week complete with puppy pictures and all. Especially now that photobucket is cooperating. Fingers crossed. 


The Beach:


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The beach was crowded. We tend to run from crowds but there was just enough space for everyone to have their own waves. 


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Levi's first time being covered with sand. He usually only likes being clean but this time he obliged and gave some instructions. He's talking so much these days!


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This is how he felt about the water this year!


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Hangin' out at my parents


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What an awesome picture if I hadn't just accidentally hit him with the camera and left a red mark. :( 


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This is the dirt road leading to the church I grew up going to. The invisible guests in every south Georgia picture are the sand gnats. This time Levi was getting tired of them.


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Enjoying the church playground with MiMi


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When people ask how old he is they always say he's big for two. While I usually don't think so, he looks it in this picture.


- - -


Now to bed to rest up for lots of catching up and house cleaning. A blog clean-up is on the docket so check back Friday to see how we've spruced up the place. 


Happy early Wednesday to you!



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In the Waiting

Just to update. We met, turned in all paperwork and should have a rough draft of our home study by morning. Once we, our agency and the director of our home study agency reviews and approves our home study, a final copy will be printed and sent to DSS for approval. Then, it travels on to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services for approval. 


In the meantime, we are working on our I-800A that will be turned in to USCIS. And how God has provided! I looked online tonight to print the pages and found that the cost will be $890. Recently, friends generously gave us $800 and a cousin began giving to us monthly via America World's Eternal Families program. You can view more info on it here too. 


The amount we've received over the last months when it's time to send the paperwork? $890. 


Wow! How we see His hand and are amazed! 


Thank you for praying with us. It is so encouraging to see His provision. 


Much, much more to come!!

One Hour and Fifteen Minutes

The mad scramble has been totally successful. Monday night Jason and I looked at each other and both wondered if we should reschedule Wednesday's meeting. But one late night and a whole lot of speed reading later, we've ingested and digested some incredibly eye-opening adoption information. 

If we felt like our initial application asked us to sign ten times that we were willing to lose all control and pay lots of money, then the forms we signed off on last night...the forms we'll turn in in one hour and fifteen minutes for our final home study...were papers assuring the agency we understand the SIGNIFICANT issues and risks we're facing and we still accept the challenge.

When you read adoption stories or adoption blogs you rarely hear families talk about how scary and unnerving the possible physical, emotional and behavioral issues of older adopted children are. In fact, at least some combination of issues will exist for children from hard places...and older children at that. So we are signing papers to say we will parent through difficult, unforeseeable issues. 

While we finished everything up and made copies I smiled when I saw the nurse's name who met us and did our lab work-- India. Yes, God has led us to this place and we are trusting he'll give us strength for the hard times. 

I want this to be a place of honesty. And honestly we're excited to move to the next stage but wide-eyed at the decision we are making with every form and dollar.

So, tonight we meet and turn in everything, signatures at all. Then, we celebrate.  Probably with ice cream. :)

There are more amazing provisions to share. And soon we believe one of those will be paperwork turned in quickly to customs and immigration. As always, we'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Down Home

{Forgive us. We're experimenting with uploading from photobucket. We're working out the bugs...and just want to share tonight...bugs and all. :}


We made it to Georgia Tuesday night just in time for some suppertime comfort food. Jason crashed early on the couch (comfort food will do that to ya) and we finally all settled in with that Christmas eve feeling in the air (at least for me). Lots and lots of family were coming July 4th. Family we hadn't seen in almost ten years. And...we were celebrating freedom. The gift of living in a country where we enjoy so many luxuries including free enterprise, the right to vote and relative safety. And we were frying, everything. It's a fourth family tradition.

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:) Our sweet Tex


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Starting the fries


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Gotta love a man in an apron


It's so, so good to be with family. Where everyone has the same blood running through their veins and even though you haven't seen each other in ions, there's a connection, like it or not. Coming home to family is good for the soul.


(Abandoned ship with photobucket at this point...)


The siblings: Uncle Keith, Aunt C and Dad
Some of the ten kiddos
We missed many. Like Erica, James and crew who I kept hoping would pull up in the driveway any minute. The hills of Kentucky didn't release them. And Paul and Elizabeth and Jim... But here was the crew who could make it to the rich reunion that didn't end until 9 o'clock that night.




The next day we drove down with some to see the ocean. You can smell the ocean air at my parents most mornings so we always try to visit the beach when we're here. And this time Jason understood why people like the place. Riding the waves with a two year old is amplified fun!


{Photos to come when photobucket is mastered.}


The other time has been quiet and sweet and buried in books. We're making progress. One and a half down. Two and a half to go. 


Tonight, my cousin Elizabeth came to plan for sharing about India at church Sunday and tomorrow, besides pool time, we'll head out to see my cousin starring in the local play. 


But tonight, we're watching Duck Dynasty for the first time. Feels like home. 


Hope you had a great 4th and an exciting weekend ahead. 


Beach pictures, book reviews and more updates to come.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Mountain that Moved: An Adoption Update

On Friday Jason packed up with his brothers and headed for a night of camping. It was time to deliver on our birthday present to Jason's youngest brother for a mountain camping trip. The rest of the Tegen crew would join on Saturday.
The rock throwing competition
To be a Tegen means you will do some hiking and that translates to visiting some amazing places. Picnicking and staying at nice hotels are involved too. :)






Levi loved it. We all did. And Jason and I were quite a bit lighter hiking up these new mountains because something big happened on Friday afternoon.


I love these boys! They had matching sunglasses too! 




We finally got the email we've been waiting for. According to the U.S. Consulate in Azerbaijan: 
There is no separate department which registers child abuse cases in Azerbaijan. All child abuse cases and other crimes are registered by theMinistry of Internal Affairs and are included in the general police certificate.
This was followed by the official green light from immigration and there we have it-- we are back on go and free of needing a child abuse clearance from AZ.

The mountain fell out from under our feet...and excited relief has swept over us. We serve a mountain mover!! Thank you for joining us in prayer! He has done a precious thing for us! 



And, hal-le-stinkin'-lujah, we're moving again! :)


On the way home from the mountains yesterday I tried to read as much as the curvy roads would allow. Jason and I have four books to finish and some time next week we'll have our final home study. Things are moving, finally. And we're so, so thankful they are.


Tomorrow we head out to family in the swamp lands of Georgia. Hurray!! We'll look forward to sharing our favorite pictures of independence day celebrations...and maybe a little progress report on the bazillion pages we're devouring in-between.