Thursday, March 29, 2012

We are going to get our kiddos!

This whole process has been about miracles.

Watching them happen...
identifying them as I see them...
being in awe that I get to be the recipient of the blessings.

So, of course the end of the waiting would be no different!

It's a long story, and some details are personal,
but suffice it to say...
we will be leaving for Ethiopia on
We land on Easter Sunday!

I've got a LOT to do
in the next...

I'm working on things today...
but mostly...
I'm just so thankful
that this part can finally be over!!

We ARE coming, sweet kiddos!!

and you are ours forever!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


My baby girl turned FOURTEEN!!
Oh my gracious,
how does that happen so fast??
I just know it was yesterday that she would stand on the coffee table with my yellow cleaning gloves on her feet and quack like a duck...
It seems like a moment ago that she wanted to be a puppy for Halloween
hated having her hair fixed...
unless it was Aunt Cassie doing it for her!

14 years ago, she was the tiniest baby I've had!
6lbs, 12 ounces...
preemie clothes falling off of her little shoulders...
sleeping on my chest on the couch during her big brother's nap time.

14 years have passed and that baby girl
with the beautiful brown eyes
and wavy hair
and chubby cheeks
is now a
beautiful young woman.

She is an honor student,
has great friends,
chooses her clothing and makeup conservatively,
helps out around the house,
and loves Jesus.

She wants to be a missionary, you know.
In Africa.
I wonder where she ever got that idea?

Oh, baby girl...
I'm so proud of who you are becoming.
I'm proud of you because you are mine.
I'm proud to call you my daughter and 
I just love you SO much!!

Let's stop getting older now, okay?

Happy Birthday, sweetheart!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Submitted to the Embassy!!!

There's a happy dance
happening over here!

We were submitted to the Embassy today!

Which means...
at some point in the next few weeks 
we will hear about an interview with a birth family member...
and we will book our plane tickets for the week after that date!!

2 round trip...
and FIVE one-way!!

It's getting so
They ARE coming home!!
I am going to have TWELVE children at my dinner table!!

I'm not sure how I could ever be worthy of this kind of blessing!!

Thank you for your prayers...
it won't be long now!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pea-soup fog

I wake up in a fog.
It's a pea-soup fog where you are only able see a few feet in front of your face.

Get up, make coffee, make breakfast...
in a fog.

Get the middles up, get the littles dressed, fix bows in hair...
in a fog.

Double-check backpacks, tie shoes, pack snacks...
in a fog.

Then they leave on the bus and it's just me and the littlest..
in that fog.

The fog is the waiting.
The fog is the total exasperation with the process,
with the powers-that-be,
and with the constantly in-flux timelines.

The fog is the strange
waiting purgatory where I answer with a smile
"We hope we get submitted this Wednesday... then it will be 4-6 weeks till we are home!"
and my brain jumps into its calendar app and and
I see that it's getting closer to the end of the school year.

while I'm in this fog
I hear something that really hits me the wrong way.
It typically starts out like a joke,
or a nudge, or a well-meaning comment...
"Just wait till you have 5 more at home... then you'll..."
No matter what horrific thing they picture happening when 
our new kids get here, I guarantee it's not making me regret this decision.
What I *hear* is 
"Just wait till your father gets home, young lady!"
"Just wait till I tell the teacher!"
"Just wait till the the cops find out..."
It always sounds like something I should regret.

I know they don't mean it like that...
they say it with a wink and a smile...
but it still feels like a punishment
because of this fog.

I look around and see the empty places.
I see empty beds, 
stacks of neatly folded clothes in sizes too small for the girls who are home now,
and lots of projects we've done while waiting for them.

This fog needs to lift.

People say "enjoy this time before they come home and your whole life changes!"
and I know what they mean, and I know that I should...
but it's hard to enjoy NOT having all our kids home.
It's hard to celebrate having only 7 kids here.
It's hard to enjoy the constant reminders that we are still waiting.

For those of you who are participating and joining me in my modified "fast",
eating like my children,
and using those annoying tummy growls as a reminder of how very blessed we are
to have as much as we need and then some...
Thank you.
Thank you for your prayers,
for your words of encouragement and for your love.
It's been hard but I feel somehow closer to our waiting 5 through this.

How can you pray??
This Wednesday (in Ethiopia) is our next opportunity to be submitted to the Embassy.
Once that happens, we wait for their contact and for them to schedule an interview with 
a distant family member of our kids. Once we have that date... we can plan our trip to arrive a few days after that! We just need our file submitted (so that we can begin waiting on the Embassy instead). So, Wednesday's business day in Ethiopia begins 4pm Tuesday and ends 9am Wednesday (CST). Please pray for our file Tuesday afternoon and into the night! 
I will update when I hear anything!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Eating like my children

I've been thinking and praying about this for a few days...
and finally decided to make it official.

A modified fast.

Now... don't go reading something else just yet.
Follow my train of thought on this.

Fasting in the Bible was done for a multitude of reasons.
Distress, seeking God's intervention, seeking guidance, penitence and bereavement, 
among other reasons.

I am a CRAPPY fast-er.
I have blood-sugar "issues"...
no one wants to be around me when I've gone without food.
It's not pretty.
I've tried...
I began to black-out while driving.
Not good.

So any time the church says there will be a group fast,
I pray about it and don't feel like I should participate.
(which always makes me feel like a jerk)

Well, I've been feeling out-of-control with the process of our adoption right now.
This isn't about patience.
This is about my kids.
This is about a general feeling of discontent in my soul.
This is about a Mommy, grieving the absence of her children.
This is about me and Jesus.

I wasn't sure what the Lord was asking me to DO while I waited.

And then, I saw a photo.
Two of our precious boys.
Those eyes stared right into my very soul and I knew what I was supposed to do.

See that plate of food? According to my best calculations,
it represents around 350 calories.
This is lunch. I was there.

(for quick comparison sake, 
a McD's nugget kids meal with milk 
has 530 calories)

I added up an average day's caloric intake to be around 1100 calories,
and decided that this is my fast.

I will eat like my waiting children...
1100 calories a day...
praying and petitioning while I wait to clear Embassy.

It's not a TRUE fast... because I'm eating.

(**No, Granny... I'm not going to starve to death. 
If my sweet kids can survive on this, surely I can too!**)

I'll be eating whatever I can to stay in those guidelines.
I have many more choices than they do.

And whenever I get that email that we've cleared Embassy and are ready to travel...
I will celebrate and break this fast. 

I start actually counting tomorrow,
though I've been restricting food for two days 
while trying to be sure this is the right thing for me. 

If you'd like to join me... 
let me know.
If you have encouragement to share...
please do!
I read all the comments and try to reply when I can!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Faith, Prayer and Mrs. Doubtfire

I have a sweet friend.
We went to church together,
I read all her stuff on facebook,
her kids are super talented and funny and kind,
and she's just an all-around good woman to know.

A week or so ago, I asked for her perspective on my
continuing debate about the accuracy of the statement 
"it's all in God's timing".
 I won't get into that discussion now, 
but Ms. Kate shared with me that she would be praying with/for me
that our kiddos would be home with us sooner than 
we can estimate with our little calendar/spreadsheet/formula.

And she taught me a new word!
See, Ms. Kate is a Bible scholar.
My little ol' 70-something credit hours of 
Bible courses are what she eats for breakfast!

Elpis is the Greek word for HOPE!
I did some digging in my Strong's 
(yeah, I've got skillz... and resources too...)
and found out it can be used to mean:

This word has been rolling around in my brain for days now,
collecting little bits and pieces and turning into a giant snowball of word-picture.

Then as I was praying...
I kept hearing "Elpis - on the way"
huh? Say it out loud....
"elpis on the way"
HELP IS on the way!
Help, Lord... I need hope.
(it's on the way)
Help, Lord... I need confidence.
(it's on the way)
Hope/Expectation/Trust/Confidence... are on the way.
My kiddos... are on the way.
Hope... is on the way.

And you know me...
my brain is a MESS.
So... I picture Jesus...
a little like Mrs. Doubtfire.
I hope that's not completely awful...
but check this out:

Yep... today I see Jesus - running to my rescue,
jumping over walls, hurdling barricades, and
bringing me

Thank you, Ms. Kate.
This Momma's heart needed your words.

Another "getting ready" post: closets

Several of you asked that I show the boys' room closet
since I mentioned in the previous post (Hexabed)
that we removed the dresser and are only using the closet in here.

Well... I didn't include that in the original post because...
well, it was a NIGHTMARE in that closet!

Occasionally I will type out the stuff that goes on in my brain
just to scare you encourage you that you are not alone in this land of crazy.

Here in lies the previous problem with the closet: 
(and the conversation that goes on inside my head. With myself.)

"Okay. Boys stuff. 5 boys in one room. No problem... I can do this. Let's see.
I need to separate by size. No, that won't work- 3 of them are like the exact same size.
Or close enough... I think. Our boys {waiting boys} are super skinny. Good thing most of our pants already have elastic shrinking waistband thingies. I wonder what those are called? They have to have a name... right? Like the stick to make the car move is called the Prindle... or was someone messing with me about that? Makes sense... ParkReverseNeutralDriveLow - PRNDL... yes. Prindle. CONCENTRATE. Okay. So... they are 9, 9, 8, 7... relatively close to the same size. So, I will pull down the boxes of 6-8 boys pants and shirts and organize them into stacks. Wait... will it be warm enough for shorts when they get home? Or will I still need all these flannel lined pants? They are so skinny, they will probably be cold all the time anyway... maybe I should leave out a few pairs of pants like that just in case. {our 7 year old} is SUPER skinny... he was wearing a 24 months shorts when I saw him last! UGH... I want these kids HOME. I wonder if I have any news in my email... (check phone)... CRAP. I hate no news. If he was a 24 months in January... even in stretched-out-elastic-sizes... he will not be in a 6-8 when we get there. But he's the right height for a 7 year old... grrr. Maybe shorts, with elastic/button/shrinking things - I really need a word for that - in a 5? Did I save anything in a size 5? I think I did... where would it be?! Attic. Crap. I'm not going in the attic. Not today. Let's see... oh wait! I have a box of 5's on top of the shelf! WHEW! It's winter stuff. Of COURSE. Maybe I don't have 5T shorts? Who knows with this mess. Socks and underwear... those can go in a basket. Surely 4 boys of about the same size can just share underwear from the same pile. Is that wrong? Should I color-code their underwear? Maybe I should label them somehow and try to keep them separated? Chrissy... they live in an orphanage. They share clothing with 30 other kids right now, including underwear. You are being ridiculous. But what if that is some kind of Mommy-faux-pas?? Does this make me like the mommy-version of the crazy cat lady?? Those women were nuts. That show on 20/20 the other night... whew. Lord, don't allow our crazy, Dr. Dolittle daughter to turn into the crazy cat lady......"

Okay... that's enough.
This is why it is hard for me to organize these clothes.
Too many unknowns, too many what-if's, too many options maybe?

So this is what we did:

Paul built these cubbies into the closet.
They are wonderful and MUCH more useful than
the previous hanging bar and wire shelf above it.

Cubbies in the closet courtesy of my sweet husband!
I use the bottom row for shoes and two crates - one is empty, the other has pajamas that don't have matching parts. I'm looking for the matches in the laundry before I put them in the donation pile.
The next row up is for the littlest guy (our current #7). The little plastic baskets are for undies and socks, sorted (loosely) by size. There's one on each size "level".
The next row up (middle row) is for the middle sized boy -our 7 year old who is scary thin. I kept his stuff separate since he's probably the only one of the big boys who won't fit into the 8-10 size stuff.
The 4th row up is the boys 8-10 size stuff. 
There's a cubby on each row for shirts, shorts, jeans/pants, pajamas and a bucket of undies/socks.

 Then he also built these hanging rod thingies onto the doors!
The boys don't have too much stuff to keep hung up,
so the two of these are plenty of hanging space!

 See? View from the floor - courtesy of my eldest son! ha ha!
Oh... see those shoe boxes on the 2nd row up from the floor?
Those are outfits for our little guy. 
Each box contains a shirt, pants/shorts, undies and socks.
I do the same system for the youngest girls so that 
they don't have to think about their clothes choices - just grab a box 
and put the empty one on the laundry table. Works well so far!

Here is the hanging rod on the right, 
with golf shirts and button-downs.

Here is the closet door CLOSED,
showing the cubbies and hanging rod
 in place with the door shut.

The top of the cubbies became storage for out-of-season or wrong-size clothing 
And I still have two empty cubbies!!

So... that's it!

I will keep this blog post handy so that I can 
enjoy what it was like when this closet was all neat and organized!

Friday, March 9, 2012


Y'all are gonna die.

Are you ready for this?

We do not have a 13 bedroom house.
Our oldest boy is the only kid in the house with his own room, 
under the condition that if we ever have company - he gets booted.
That left two options for housing 12 kids:
1. Use the play room as a bedroom (Not happening.)
2. Put 5 beds in one room for the younger boys. (yikes)

I need to tell you - I wasn't sure how that was going to work. 
It sounded crowded. And cramped. And impossible.

But, ever the optimist
(and "never-met-a-challenge-he-couldn't-tackle" type person)
My sweet hubby decided he could put 5 beds in one room and leave plenty of floor space.
Uh huh.

So his Dad drove down from NY with Paul's old tools and they got to work.

The bed bases being put together in the garage.

Making ladders
The recently emptied room
The bottom two beds go in...
And another row is begun...
And another.

Adding the ladders...
wood putty, wood putty, sand, sand, sand...

Painting, painting, painting...

And then finally...

Some other details:
  • The mattresses are slightly more narrow than twin size. 
  • Only 5 boys will be in here. That leaves an empty bed for me or Dad - as the resident peacekeeper if need be during those first days/weeks home.
  • They don't have any other furniture other than the beds and a small bookshelf and little end table. This gave us more freedom to build beds in the room. Their closet is full of 15" cubbies instead of using dressers! 
  • We cut TWO California King memory foam mattresses into thirds to make 6 mattresses! I then took twin flat sheets folded in half, made them into giant "pillowcases" to become mattress covers. Then I took those cheap dollar store vinyl tablecloths with felt backings, cut them into thirds, and made waterproof pads, then used twin flat bed sheets as the bottom sheet, and twin quilts folded in half for comforters. It's working for now. 
I cut stadium blankets in thirds to cover the plywood
so it didn't scratch the mattresses or pull threads on the sheets.

Top blanket folded back, quilt under that, sheet under that.

Top bunks - L-shaped view

The foot-end of one bunk to show the "case" over the memory foam.

Better pic of mattress.
It's like 4" memory foam, but very comfy!

So... there you have it!!
We now have beds for all of our children...
whenever they are able to come home!
Come on, Embassy!!

And... yes, it's already a giant indoor jungle gym!