Saturday, February 25, 2012

The making of the coolest beds ever

In case you've just joined our story like, today...
we are hoping to VERY STINKING SOON
bring home our new 5 kiddos. 
They are wonderful, and cute and we miss them.

In the meantime...
we've got stuff to do!

My husband has been busy cutting up wood and stuff
and building things, like the laundry organizational wonderfulness he made back in January!

We were standing in the girls' "dormitory" a few weeks ago and had the 
brilliant idea to build two beds into the dormers, therefore using up otherwise wasted space!
Who hates wasted space?! I sure do. 

We found a decent queen size memory foam mattress
 that we could cut in half - 
which would be the perfect size for those spaces 
and ordered them online with free shipping! 

Then Paul got to work!
I'm just going to show pictures since my words would be all 
"then he cut up some more wood, 
and then he screwed stuff together, then he cut up more wood..."
so I will spare you my commentary.

Note the bead board on the sides! He found out our
H.Depot has a section of "culled wood" that they sell dirt cheap!
Found some good stuff!

Genius. Minivan back door lift thingies. 

My claim to fame - - I painted them white!

Open... for storing all their crap treasures.

The bed open and in place.

The beds inside the dormer space.
We are putting bookshelves on  either side to fill in the difference in space.
Aren't they GORGEOUS?!?
Okay... here's how they work on the awesome minivan door thingies:

So, there you have it! My wonderful hubby built TWO of these and after we pick up beds that are being given to us, and he modifies ones we have, we should be ready for sleeping by the dozen! 

I love you, honey.
You did a GREAT job.
Totally Pinterest-worthy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's almost March...

It's almost March - just 5 days left of February.
This is no shocking realization to any normal person,
when you feel like a crouching tiger 
living on a timeline ready to pounce on the next dot up the line... 
it's a welcome change of the calendar page.

Earlier this week we received yet another updated timeline.

It was not a happy day.

Where my previous timeline had us being submitted to the Embassy
around March 7th or 14th... 
this new (crappy) timeline makes it look like
we may still be waiting to be submitted to the Embassy 
at Easter. 

Yeah. Did you feel my heart just get crushed a little bit more?
I was so hoping for 12 Easter baskets this year.

I did it to myself, you know.

I took the timeline we got right after court,
(which is a range of weeks like 1-2 weeks to do this, 2-3 for that)
and estimated the middle-of-the-road dates
and figured that maybe,
just MAYBE
we'd be back to get our kids by March 31,
thereby not being a day late on my sweet boy's request
that we return in March.

At this point,
we don't have passports (supposed to have them by today)
and no medical exam at the Embassy (next week)
and the Embassy doctors take up to a month to write those letters...
then the same office that issues 5 letters a day needs to issue another one...
then it goes to translation - which takes a week minimum....
THEN it goes to the Embassy - which takes a month minimum to clear your case.
IF it gets cleared right away.

Yeah... anyone keeping tabs can see that 
we won't even get submitted to the Embassy till April.


Which means that the odds of us bringing these kids home 
with a month to acclimate to our home before summer break hits...
well, that's vaporizing before my eyes.

So, come on March...
you're one month closer to April.
Which is one month closer to May.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Staged family photos - the sad version.

I've been in a funk.

You don't want to read what I've been writing and not publishing.

You don't want to call me and ask how I'm doing.

I cry at commercials.

I cry over movies and photos and Bible verses.

And I got new photos this week (to cry over)!

I mean, COME ON. Look at these faces?!? Are they not just beautiful!?
This one was fine - not too many tears - smiling faces and bright sparkly eyes!

Then I saw this one.
Clothes way too big, or way too small.
Crocs - I hate them. They are one-size-fits-most orphanage shoes.

Different day, different photo...
girls wearing the same wrong-size shorts, 
our oldest in the same pants.
And stupid crocs.

I'm so tired of this process.
I know it seems "fast" to those on the outside,
and by some accounts - sure, it's been "fast".

But I met these kids.

I hugged them, kissed them, showered them and oiled their gorgeous skin.

I fed them, they fed me.

I gave them stupid gifts that were more for me than for them.

Blankets with their names embroidered on them...
because I saw where they sleep and I thought they were cold at night.

Backpacks with their names embroidered on them...
because I wanted them to keep their photo albums 
inside so they can see them whenever they want.

Lined paper, pens, pencils, crayons, coloring books, 
and each one of them got a little stuffed bear 
that holds a photo that I took and printed while there of me with them. 

I know most of their stuff was confiscated.

I know they may not have it when we return.

I know I miss them more than they miss me.

I'm glad that's the case.

I'm the mom - I'm the adult.
I can take it. 
I know we will return for them.

It would rip my heart into tiny little shreds to know that
they are waiting for me in the same way. 

Oh, Lord - make it soon.

And not "soon" in the Ethio-way...

soon like, 
I want 12 baskets on my dining room table on Easter morning.

Soon like,
"woah - we've never seen a process move this fast before!"

And soon like our oldest who waits said...
"Mommy...Daddy... aeroplane...Etopia...America...MARCH!"

Monday, February 13, 2012

Making a space for ME.

I have three "spots".

The one where I am standing now - in the corner of the kitchen near the stove where the counters make an "L", and where my computer lives most of the time - it's the center of the house, where the food lives, and where I do most of my upkeep.

The oversized chair in the living room. 
It's mine. 
If I have the chance to sit down...
you need to move.
Got it?

And now...
I have a #3!

I made this area for MY stuff.
MY scissors...
MY tape...
MY ribbon...
and most importantly,
MY glue gun and sewing machine!
Back away, children...
this is not your stuff.

It started like this:
Old kit-style computer cabinet.
Thought about selling it, or trashing it...
then remembered I had some paint!

Notice it's missing the cork boards from the door insets...
and its the worst possible light oak color.

So then... I got my paint, let the kids destroy the play room 
and eat multiple boxes of Tag-alongs and Thin Mints.... 
and did THIS:

Ooohhh.... it's so pretty and clean....
(horrible picture... humor me, it was like 11pm)
And then INSIDE....


I think it turned out pretty good! I need a little more white paint...
I ran out when I got to the main section of the cabinet... 
but I wanted to put all MY stuff inside NOW.

I now have THREE spots!

YAY, me!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stuff I do, or don't do... part two.

Awhile back, I posted this blog about what I DON'T do.
Seems there are a LOT of you out there
NOT doing stuff.

So, I give you...
another list of things I do or don't do to make my life easier!!

Make a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly menu
Please. I probably COULD do this, and in fact I've had moments of organizational bliss where I decide I'm going to plan this elaborate menu, shop accordingly, use up leftovers making creative new entrees...only to have the chicken not thaw out in time and wind up making pancakes for dinner. Yeah... I gave up on that one. We have a few standard meals in our house that I can always count on being enjoyed by the masses... and I just make sure I have the stuff here to make those meals whenever I like.

Use TV as a babysitter
Once upon a time I thought that the only programming coming from the TV and entering my sweet child's brain should be PBS or one of those brain-enlarging VHS movies (yes... my first children came along in the age of VHS.). Now, I'm likely to stop the crazy noise level or running through the house on a too-cold-to-go-outside day with an announcement of "who wants to watch a movie?!?!!!" I put on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so I can drink my coffee before it gets cold. I record Little Einsteins on the DVR so it can be ready if I need to do something - like, oh... say... go to the bathroom alone. Yes, TV is a cheap babysitter around these parts. I am not proud of this... but it's true. 

I don't play Barbies... and I don't build Lego houses
Frankly... this is hard to admit, but my tolerance and/or imagination is just lacking in the kid pretend department. I'll sit for a few minutes and do playdoh snakes and balls... but I just can't dress and undress dolls over and over. I will sometimes detangle their hair and put it into new ponytails... but that's about the extent of it. I'm lego-impaired. I'd prefer it if they would find a larger kid to play legos with... after all, there are no shortage of children to play with around here.

Other things people assume about me 
when they say what a "saint" I am that are clearly untrue:
My house is currently a disaster area, I'd be mortified if you showed up to say hello and I may not let you in, unless you brought coffee. Good coffee, though... not gas station coffee. I'd grab my coat and meet you on the porch for gas station coffee. 

I am SO incredibly disorganized. I'm about to go through my house with black trash bags and just take stuff to Goodwill instead of attempting to sell it on this cool facebook group for local people to sell stuff... because I know if I tried to sell it, it would just sit on my dining room table for weeks. I can't throw stuff away unless I'm in that "mood" and then I throw EVERYthing away. I get mad and threaten to get rid of!!

I don't do my quiet time every day. I pray all day long, I converse with Jesus... but no... I don't sit down and open my Bible every day. I don't shower every day either... but Jesus still loves me, smelly or not - quiet time or not. Frankly, there isn't enough quiet around here to designate a quiet TIME.

I drink too much coffee, skip meals, don't drink enough water, 
and generally make poor food choices.
I'm trying to get better... but I will never be able to do very well in this area.

My husband and I argue about stuff. Mostly stupid stuff... mostly unimportant stuff... but we argue. I've wronged him, he's wronged me, we sometimes yell or say mean things when we are angry. Yeah... it's true. See how un-saintly we are??

I get so incredibly frustrated EVERY SINGLE MORNING when my little three get up before 6am. It's been 18 months since we got home. You'd think I'd be used to it by now. I'm not. There is no fixing this. They will do this forever, I'm sure of it. I am hoping for a sleeping-pill effect in their teens so that I can go wake them up by flinging their door open rudely and announcing that I'm awake and I'd like to go downstairs and have a snack - NOW. Yeah, I will enjoy that EVERY single morning.

I'm sarcastic, snarky, and rude... I lie and have poor self-esteem. Every single time someone tells me what an awesome mom I am, how wonderful our family is for our adoptions, what good people we are or what a wonderful family I am... I am thankful that they can't see the real me. I'm so thankful that the Lord is using whatever they DO see to minister to their hearts, but I am far from anything they call me. 

I get frustrated and yell. Then I lecture. OhyesIdo. I hate that about myself... I try to change... I prayerfully ask the Lord to calm my temper. Sometimes, I just lose it. Thankfully, it's rare(ish)... and usually as a direct result of stress (hubby travelling for a long time, bad adoption process news, coupled with over-tired kids with too much homework and not enough outside time). 

I'm not Paul (from the Bible) either... 
but I can relate.
Romans 7:19:
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Maybe you've been a Christian since you were a baby in the nursery, but I have not.
I struggle against that former self. I struggle to do the good that I would do.
I struggle to be who God wants me to be. 
I struggle to live the life that He has for me - 
with all the plans to prosper me and not to harm me, 
and the plans for my hope and future. 
I struggle because I'm just a regular mom with all the crap all of us have.

Bottom line... if you are waiting for your life to be all 
"Julie-Andrews-in-ANY-of-her-movies" before you
jump in to the next thing the Lord asks you to do... just jump in now.
I'm sure not perfect.
I never will be.
I ask the Lord to identify and remove the most annoying traits I have...
and I pray that He can use me anyway, in spite of ME being ME,
and amazingly...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Progress and "are we there yet??"

I get a lot of calls
and emails and other types of messages
from people asking...
"how much longer?!?"

Some waiting parents get annoyed
with these questions... I think it's kinda cute.
"awww... you think you'd miss my big announcement
 that we are leaving in a week to go get our kids? How cute...!"

So, here's an update!!
We passed court on January 11th -
becoming the legal parents to 5 more gorgeous kiddos!

On January 25th, we got word that the official court decree was in-hand...
meaning they could start the paperwork to get us ready to return.

YESTERDAY, February 9, 
we heard that we have birth certificates printed for each of our kiddos!

This is good because it's the start of all this paperwork we need to get 
submitted to the US Embassy.

It's also good because it's the first official document 
listing their name with our last name!
(warm fuzzies..!)

So... what does that MEAN?

Well... it's a step in the right direction. 
NOW, they have to submit to some office to get a letter written,
wait for that...
submit for passports...
wait for those...
submit for a doctor's exam at the Embassy...
wait for that appointment...
DO the appointment...
wait for the official letter from the doctor...
THEN take all these things they've been collecting 
and go get them translated (there is ONE translating office. ONE.)...
wait for that to get done... (anyone see a theme developing here?)
THEN they take the whole stack of stuff over to submit it to the Embassy.

At this point, one of two things happens. 
1. They accept it.
2. They hand it back asking for revisions.

Let's all pray for #1, okay?

When they accept the file,
we wait for an email that they have it
and then another email that they have decided what to do with it.
They almost always schedule another interview with whoever found or relinquished the child/ren.
This will be about a month out...
and then, in MOST CASES...
the family is cleared to return and get their child/ren
days after that interview.

At whatever point they schedule an interview for our kids' family member,
we can take that appointment and add about a week-10 days to determine when
we will be flying back! 

Here's my non-scientific, super hopeful, mostly dreaming timeline of these events:
Jan.11 - court
Jan. 25 - court decree
Feb. 9 - Birth Certificates
Feb. 22 - Passports
March 7 - Embassy submission
March 28 - Interview
March 30 - Clearance and appointment scheduled!
April 5 - fly out of here...
April 7 - take custody!!

See how optimistic I am?!?
It's ALMOST the March timeline my sweet oldest boy told me he wanted...
He was convinced when I was leaving and saying goodbye
that we would be coming back for them in March.
I wish that were looking possible...
and miracles CERTAINLY happen - I've witnessed a few in the past 6 months!

But for now...
that's where we are in the process!
Thank you to everyone who is following along!
Your comments and prayers bless me!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just some pictures!

Writer's block...
or rather, too many half-written blog posts...
So, I give you pictures!

Our current #7...
(I've got to come up with a new naming system including the new kids)
"Hey buddy, wanna share that cookie with Mommy?"

I take this as a "NO".

One of these things is not like the others.
 One of these things just doesn't belong...

A newspaper article that still makes me giggle...

And yes, I know it's pronounced "CROP-pie"... it still sounds like "crappy" in my head.

I took 7 kids to the optometrist in December.
3 left with glasses...
here are two of the cuties with their new specs!

My hubby was building shelves over the laundry area and this little guy kept thinking it was his new bunk bed. He even thought he was going to sleep there that night! 
It WOULD save on space... hmmm...!
(Just kidding... nobody call my social worker...)

And finally...
my oldest kiddo...
all fancied up
and heading to his first school dance!
(I'm officially OLD.)

This is so cool...

There's this lady named Beth.
She had this idea for a website
where they feature a family who is adopting
for one week
and everyone who reads the website regularly
donates $1 a week to help fund their adoptions!

No one person can do everything,
but everyone can do something!

Sometimes it's sharing a story,
sometimes it's donating $1,
sometimes it's more...
but the beautiful thing is that when the
world comes together 
with love for helping one another out
amazing things happen!

This is the website:
and WE are the family of the week!!

Here's our adorable video!

Thank you, Beth and the Give1Save1 community!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

18 months at home....

(Just realized... this is my 300th post!
Wow... I've got a lot of words!!)

It hit me this morning
that we've been a family of 9
for 18 months today!

18 months ago on Aug. 3, 2010
we landed back home with our
3 "littles" in tow,
 hardly able to wait to see our 4 big kids
holding "Welcome Home!" signs 
at the airport!

In a lot of ways, 
it seems like yesterday.
In a lot MORE ways
I can't believe they've only
been with us for 18 months!
It kinda seems like they've always been our kids!

Some things I've noticed...

18 months ago - anything and everything we gave them - they ate it all.
They woke up asking about foot, felt scared when I said "wait", and hung out in the kitchen a lot.
NOW - They no longer finish every crumb on their plates at meals.
They may even choose not to eat whatever I've made, choosing instead to wait till the next meal.

THEN: #5 and 6 were wearing 2T clothing at 4 and 5 years old. 
NOW: They are mostly caught up - having grown 7" EACH since then!

THEN: I had to sit in the bedroom with the Baby Boy every night while he fell asleep. I thought he'd never learn to go to bed without me at the foot of his bed, on the floor by his bed, or laying next to him. It took months and months.... but,
NOW: He gets in the bed and hides under the covers from me just so he can yank the blankets down with a dramatic "RAWR!!" when I walk in his room to tuck him in! 

THEN: Scared to DEATH of our dog. Her every movement caused screaming and panic. 
NOW: They love her and lay on her to watch TV!

THEN: Terrified of gummy worms.
NOW: Candy? Yes, please!!

There are many, many, many other changes over the past 18 months - but things just seem so normal now it's hard to pinpoint how far we've come!

I'm just so thankful to get to be the mommy to such great kids...
all 7 of the ones at home,
and the 5 still waiting...
I'm blessed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Guess what? I don't want my kids to be "color-blind".

Know what I hear a lot?
"Oh... that family is so precious...all their kids are color-blind."

before you think I'm talking about some sweet family
with kids wearing non-matching clothing
because they can't see what color their shirt is...
No. I'm talking about the term 
"color-blind" being applied to trans-racial adoptive families.

And here's why I shiver when I hear it.

Do I look like a frick-a-frackin MORON?

Of course I'm not color-blind!
Guess what...
8 of our children are BROWN!

My dog is white.
My neighbor has 3 dogs - 
one is black,
one is black and white, 
and one is... I forget. 
They are all little and run fast.
My dog is a Great Pyrenees.
Hers are Pugs.
(Just kidding Erin...! ha ha!)
And do you know what this means???
It means I have deductive reasoning skills.

I can look at a person in the store and immediately (most of the time) deduce:
Man or woman
Adult, Teen or Child
Skin Tone
Hair color
Good mood/Bad mood

I have functioning eyeballs
and a (mostly) functioning brain.

Now, before you get all sentimental on me and say
"But, Chrissy...
your sweet little cream-to-peach colored children
don't seem to notice that their siblings are espresso to chocolate colored!"
(and vice-versa...)
OF COURSE they notice.
Everyone in this house is fully aware of their skin color.
What you MEAN to say/think is...
They don't give a frick-a-fracking flip
if their sister or brother is green with purple polka dots
or brown like my German chocolate bars (that are now all gone.. waaahhh!!).
Because they love them.
No matter their skin/eye/hair color.
As it well should be.

(here's where I stomp ALL OVER some adoptive parents' toes)
we SHOULD be aware at the differences and how that affects 
the way others will perceive us in our culture.

Guess what? 
There are stupid people out there.
Stupid people who will look at one of my sweet sons
and assume he's in a gang.
Or that he's in a store to shop-lift.
Or that he has drugs in his car.
And you know why?
Because this world is NOT COLOR-BLIND.
And it's filled with presuppositions about races.
They exist.
And sticking our heads in the sand, or
covering our ears with our hands and screaming 
"LALALALALAAAA!! I can't hear you!"
is NOT going to prepare our children for racism in this world.
It's not going to prepare you for that moment when someone deems you 
unworthy of being your child's mother
because you don't match colors.
And it's certainly not going to prepare your child
for being followed in a store.

So, no...
I don't want my children to be color-blind.
I want them to see ALL of the beautiful colors
that the Lord created.
I want them to recognize differences
that make us who we are,
not just the ones you can see from the outside.
I want them to profile their friends.
Not by what color they are, 
but by what they say/do/wear and who they hang out with.

When my sweet 5 year old daughter says
"look Mom... I'm turning PEACH, like YOU!"
because she has a mosquito bite scar that's healing..
I say "Oh I hope not... I LOVE your beautiful brown skin!"

When my 6 year old daughter wants hair like mine
I make sure I tell her how gorgeous her curls are 
and how I used to go pay a lot of money 
to get curly hair like hers!

So, please...
don't be color-blind.
Don't accuse us of being color-blind.
We are color-aware...

but not color-blind.

As well it should be.