Wednesday, January 30, 2013

College Life and a Load of Poo

I feel like I need to give a disclaimer for this post. So, if you have an aversion to poop or are etiquette conscious, might not want to read this one. :)

Tonight we hosted an apartment group for dinner. Hosting has been our number one way to connect with students living in our community. Some nights have been filled with chatter and some have been like playing twenty questions. Tonight was all guys and full of chatter. 

It should be no surprise that after burgers and fries the conversation turned to the unconventional topic of poop. Everything started after we had a chat with Levi along the lines and it carried forward. 

When Jason was in college, prank wars abounded. Since then, and partially because of this story I'm about to tell, prank wars aren't allowed on our campus. It's sad because pranking can be fun. But often, pranks get out of hand quickly. 

Jason told the story tonight about being in college with a student who pranked his friends by pooping in their sink. Disgusting, right?! So when his friends wanted to get him back with a fitting payback, they challenged him to a chugging contest. And as he "won" the contest he also unknowingly ingested a bottle full of laxative. If he wanted to poop, his friends would help him. And the chugging ordeal almost cost him his healthy intestinal track. Things weren't the same for over a year. (It's okay to laugh. You know it's funny!)

The guys around the table were VERY amused. And I'll confess their comments were f-u-n-n-y! When I was in school I experienced pranks gone wrong too. One Sunday morning I woke up to find a baby goat on my hall that peed all over the carpet when a groggy girl screamed, startled by his bleating. I carried him all the way back across campus to a very worried owner and never found who the "kidnappers" were.

Since those days, pranks on our campus haven't been so exciting. There's always the usual soap suds in the fountain or words written on every car on campus, but nothing like the poop stories or bleating goats or plastic cows on rooftops. Those were the days! ...well, kind of. The pooping in the sink stuff is still disgusting. 

We had a great time reminiscing prank stories tonight...and I thought I'd give you a peek into our life on a college campus. Lovin' our hosting nights...the over-the-top laughing ones and the twenty questions ones too.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mystery Items, College Students and a Secret Picture

This is a hodge podge post just to give warning.

Over the past month a few mysteries have been going on at our house. One was a great magazine that Levi started receiving out of the blue. The other was a bag of clothes someone picked out for our "R" (daughter of promise) and left at our door. Just a few days ago we discovered that the thanks for the Highlights High Five magazine go to our friend Tracy. It was a Christmas gift...and we love reading through it each month. Thank you, friend! 

We still have yet to discover the mystery clothes giver but wanted to share that we love the clothes and that they should fit perfectly by the time R is home. Thank you, mystery giver, for helping us fill her empty closet. :)

Along with the mystery items a lot of other things have been going on around our campus lately. We made it through yet another RA retreat with Jason picking up four carts of food for the event and a new group bonding at Ms. Coleman's beautiful mountain house. Oh, Ms. Coleman. She blesses and blesses and blesses us. 

We made it back from retreat with the apartments filling back up quickly. The first few weekends of school Jason and the RAs planned weekend activities to engage students and encourage them to stay on campus (a problem on our small campus). The first weekend was our first annual Christmas tree burning and fireball juggling (you know, the usual) and then last night a movie night in the nearby dorm. Both were quite successful. And this coming weekend, a Superbowl party. 

For any pyrophobics, no appendages, building or other inanimate objects were burned that night. The RAs gave a talk on fire safety and explained some of the science behind applying fingernail polish to cotton balls then passed around the experiment. 

Mixed in with the welcome back activities was a great, great surprise for us. Our dear friend who is living and studying in Ch*na came home for a short trip to spend some needed time with family. We were so privileged to have her stay with us for 24 hours and catch us up on everything going on her new side of the world. She's now on a plane making her way back and we can share that we saw her on her not-widely-publicized trip home. :) 

And finally, we've been working on a special book that we'll send to R when we get word of passing our first clearances in India. We've taken several pictures for it and still have several to go before being finished and having our agency review it. Then we'll have it printed and translated into two other languages. Turns out our daughter spoke one language for the first six years of her life then started speaking a new one when she went to live with her foster family. Our book to her is supposed to be in all three languages...and with that news my hopes of learning some of her language got a lot more complicated. Here are a few pictures included in our book. These specific pictures are explaining that in our family we love each other no matter how we feel.

We'll share some of the pages when it's complete. If only our pictures back to her could bring as much joy as her 17 minute video keeps bringing us. We're working hard to send some joy back...

And so ends our random catch up. Thanks for reading and happy weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Milestones: I'm a Big Boy Now!

Starting around the middle of last month, big things have been happening in Levi's world. Here's a look inside our home lately.

Big Boy Bed. As we mentioned in last post we opted to move Levi out of a crib straight to a lofted twin bed. It's the best use of space in his little room. Jason built it in our friend's huge workshop. {Thank you Schaupps!} The slide and rail extension have been great additions. We're all sleeping better, and Levi has a playground in his room. Living in student apartments with no room for a swing set outside, it's a fun alternative. Levi's already mastered sliding on his knees, belly and bottom. 

Language. While Levi's language keeps exploding, we're now having to make decisions on how to reign it in. And to be honest after Levi yelled out to the front desk (male) librarian Little Critter poo poo naked, his FAVORITE made up phrase in the whole world, some words have been marked as bathroom-only words. Little Critter poo poo naked would be five such words. We have yet to go to the bathroom in public (it will be interesting and embarrassing I'm thinking) but so far this restriction is working well....except for the times Levi starts listing off the words he's only allowed to say in the bathroom. He reasons it's okay to say them anywhere if he adds with his finger wagging and eyebrows raised, "No say. Only in de baf-foom."

Gum chewing. While in Lowe's in December we gave Levi a tiny piece of gum and he chewed it thirty minutes before spitting it out. Since that day the few times he's had gum...he never swallows. 

Devos. We're trying each morning after getting dressed and making beds to read together. Since I'm such a big fan of the One Year Bible, Levi got this book for Christmas. It goes through the entire Bible with very simple lessons. So far not much has registered with him, he's more interested in the pictures, but we are just beginning. We also have the INCREDIBLE Jesus Storybook Bible that will be great for Sister when she comes home and for Levi in a few years.

And, Potty training. We've had our suspicions that Levi was ready and for the last two days have been in training. We went through every pair of training pants we own Tuesday...but yesterday, he turned pro. We're really proud. I never thought we'd celebrate refuse so enthusiastically.

Special thanks to Mrs. Karis for giving us the froggy potty way back when training seemed forever away for our 7 lb. boy and to Michelle for Sister's new elephant, Ellie Heehee, that helped with potty training
For those reading who haven't had the joy of this training, one thing we'd change is the treat Levi gets after staying dry each time. Who knew he'd be going every 20 minutes and mowing through treats so quickly? Sour gummy worms are being heavily consumed at our house and only sometimes strategically alternated with apple crisps. ;) So this morning baby worms appeared (sour gummies cut into thirds) and he's just as happy eating the baby ones as the full size. :) While it's overwhelming reading all of the training strategies out there, we found the one listed in this book to be concise and effective. Thought I'd share for anyone wanting to tuck that away for the future.

Tomorrow, after the rain leaves us and we have another training day under our belts, we're hoping for a trip to the store. A new Thomas and Friends train is on the way after the week's accomplishments. :) 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Walking by Faith and Growing

Here it is...what has been almost four years in the making.

On October 22nd our phone rang with a call from Virginia. I knew it meant an adoption referral because we were told we wouldn't get a call until it was big news. And as we braced ourselves for the possibility of a long, excruciating wait, just six weeks in we got the call. I cannot begin to say what an aching it is to wait close to the phone knowing a life-changing call could come at any time. (For the families who are still waiting, we often ask God to be near you and lead your stories. Our hearts feel so heavy knowing the hard road you are walking.) Waiting in adoption is an aching (the best word I know to describe it) for a child you don't even know. It means praying desperately that your child is safe and waiting for the call and subsequent news of how much your little one has had to endure. That's really hard on any parent's heart.

Calmly our agency called to tell us they had a referral of a little girl for our family. While she stayed calm I lost all composure. I was so excited my voice kept cracking. The joy wouldn't stay pushed down. And in her next seven words the deepest peace settled in: She is seven about to turn eight (read the 11/10/10 post about what God spoke in a dream here). Without seeing her picture I knew this was the promised girl God began speaking about years ago. 

"Would you like to see her picture and review her information?" she asked.

Who says no to that!?!

We waited and finally the pictures and details arrived by email. It was April 2009 when I saw our little girl in a dream. The little girl I saw then had a short, boy-like haircut and looked very Indian. Looking at the pictures that Monday morning the little girl's hair was longer than in my dream and her cheeks a little chubbier. But a deep peace was there...and we couldn't say yes to her fast enough. 

Hague rules require a pediatrician to review all medical records so after waiting for a needed email we had the required review. This adoption process started on my birthday after finally sensing God's peace that we could do so. And on October 25th, Jason's birthday, we left the pediatrician's office and faxed signatures and paperwork saying how honored we would be to love and parent this little girl for the rest of her life. 

Right away I called my friend who spent time at our orphanage to find out if she ever met our daughter. The chances weren't high since our daughter was living away from the orphanage with a foster family. But she looked at the pictures, her name and information and then blew us away...

On the last week that my friend (pictured above) was at the orphanage, our daughter came for a few days due to sickness in her foster family. She came to stay and even attended the school where my friend was teaching. My friend described our daughter's disposition, her favorite games and her English skills. Then, she sent us a picture of her daughter hugging ours. The photo was more current than our referral pictures and there was immediate recognition. Her hair was short and her smile familiar.

Our little girl was safe, well fed, well loved and just as God had shown me years before. This was our sweet, bright, beautiful daughter of promise. In all of India, of all the orphanages, of all the friend has a picture of the little girl God showed me. These subsequent weeks have left us awestruck. I understand why Mary had to keep things and ponder them in her heart. As one who stinks at keeping quiet, words just can't say the depth of what has happened. By learning God's voice I am learning that while his gifts are unspeakably good, there is a grander prize he wants to give...a real-to-life relationship with him that goes beyond what he gives us or does for us. He brings hope in darkness, guidance in indecision, joy in valleys and possibility into the impossible. How can I say how good and trustworthy he is? 

On October 25th we said yes by fax and phone but had to ask some questions about funding. We had half of the required fees. To our surprise we were allowed a few weeks until official referral paperwork was sent from India. It took one month for everything to arrive, and by that point every penny and more was in our bank account. Yard sales, extreme generosity and extra odd-jobs for Jason all added up to allow us to write the check even before the paperwork arrived. Isn't it incredible to watch God fund his calling? And through the process to lead us into deeper places of total reliance. 

Similar to the wait before announcing a pregnancy, our news had a waiting period before it could be shared. On Saturday we received an official-looking piece of mail from U.S. Immigration-- preliminary approval (the requirement before publicly sharing) while we wait for several clearances in India. In India our paperwork has to go through these hoops: first, a state level committee clearance; then, a national committee clearance; then, a judge's clearance; then, (getting tired of thens?) applying for a passport; and THEN, travel. They've told us to expect a long time for all of these thens. But while we know the reality of what we've been told, we can't help but ask if God would allow for an expedited process. Doesn't hurt to ask, right? So, we are asking for God to allow us to travel this spring if he would allow and it would bring him the most glory. This would be a miracle. But from the 'mountains' we've seen God move we believe that with him all things are possible (Mark 9:23, Luke 1:37).

We'll now be able to update through this blog most things as we know them minus her name, pictures and location until the judge signs off on everything. It's a joy to share the news and continue to share lessons and challenges from this walk of faith. Thank you to those who have believed and are praying with us.

Hope you are enjoying the start of a brand new year with fresh perspective and new goals! We are excited about 2013...the year we, God willing, welcome our daughter from India. 
Had to read that last sentence again...can you even believe it!?! What a gift!

For further reading, be sure to check out our adoption timeline as we've added more details.