Friday, November 27, 2009

No Place Like Home (For Christmas)

I want you to know that I restrained myself from posting Christmas decor photos until AFTER Thanksgiving, although we started putting out Christmas decor somewhere during the first week of November! I've had piano students come in and ask, "What happened to Thanksgiving?" Well for us, they kind of mesh together. I like to come home from the Thanksgiving holidays to my house all decorated for Christmas. However, I did decide to wait until the traditional time most folks decorate to begin sharing my Christmas decor! After all, some folks can't think Christmas until after Thanksgiving, and I understand!

I'm going to start in this post with the outside decor. We kept it really simple, as we have the last few years. I actually forgot that last year I made my grapevine wreath snowman for the porch and I didn't do it that way this year. I guess he'll have to be added to our privacy fence later. I never seem to get it exactly the same any two years in a row!

We traded in the house decked out in lights a few years ago by Jason's request (or maybe it was more of a demand)....And since I'm not the one that puts the lights up, how could I argue with that? Actually, we had seen others decorate with just greenery with flood lights lighting up the house, and we loved that look, so decided to give it a try a few years ago. We love that look now, plus it makes Jason happy and Christmas is supposed to be happy! Simple pretty much sums us up anyway, so the simplicity of this outside look suits us just fine.

Anyway, here's our outside decor this year!

Welcome to our country cedar home.....

Coming down the sidewalk....

The front porch....

Frosty welcomes our visitors.....

Hanging the wreaths by fishing wire secures them from blowing around in the weather and you can't even tell how they're hung (my clever hubby thought of that one)....

There really is no place like home.......especially at Christmas time!

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Adoption Story Update & Prayer Requests

Another week has flown by! It seems like it's taken forever this year to get all of our Christmas decor out....or maybe it's just seems to be hard to get into it this year. I think my mode of thinking has been into making sure all of our paperwork was on course for the adoption. But....I have to say that the more I got things out and actually had a long enough length of time to actually work on it, I began to get more excited about Christmas decorating. And now, it's finally all up and done.....time to take all of those Rubbermaid boxes back out to the garage, and time to enjoy the light of the Christmas trees and those Christmas movies together! :) Over my next few posts, I will share some Christmas decor photos with you.

But for today, I'd like to share something with you concerning the adoption. This would have made a great Faithful Fridays post, but I totally missed posting on Friday. However, I decided it would be a good "anyday" post! :) Remember in the first post that I shared we were going to pursue adoption? I stated that this would most definitely have to be a "God thing" where God opened the doors. And He has to make it plain for me to see! Well I don't know why I would ever be surprised, but God never ceases to amaze me on how He works things out.

Let me tell you a story.

I shared with you already about how quickly doors opened for us to find our son, Luke Tai (by the way that's the name we gave him), who waits for us in China. We came to the decision to pursue adoption in September, and I did research on agencies and special needs. By the first of October, we found our agency, BAAS, and began the paperwork end of our homestudy too. By October 19th, we received the call from Xiaoqing at BAAS with the referral/match of our little Luke (whom we fell in love with immediately). By October 21st, we sent in our LOI for him. By October 27th, we received our PA (approval to proceed with the adoption from China). I knew God had a purpose for things happening so quickly, because I never knew things to happen this fast.

Now let me tell you what I didn't know was happening during that time. I only recently learned this bit of information. I know God put this person and information in my life for a reason and to show us just how wonderful He is and how much He cares and to give me confirmation that Luke is our son and God planned it that way all along.

I joined a couple of forums recently, one being a waiting child through China forum and one being a forum for the province from which Luke is from. In one of those forum messages just early last week, someone (named Tammy by the way), asked how long it was taking to get PAs these days, to which I replied to the post on the forum with how long it took us. Well Tammy saw my blog link at the bottom and went over to visit and read about our adoption story. Imagine her surprise when she saw Luke's picture. Here's why.......the third week of September, her family was referred Luke's file to consider and pray over from an entirely different agency. After prayerful consideration, her family couldn't get peace that this was their son. Her words to me were, "no wonder I couldn't get peace about it....because he wasn't our son....he was your son! (You can imagine the goose bumps as I read her words). She was so thankful to know "why" God wouldn't let this boy be hers and to know she was obedient to His word and didn't make a mistake by following through with his file. And she was thankful to see that Luke had a family. And then I could see why God lit a fire under us in September so we could find the agency that held Luke's file. He lit that fire under us about the time they were considering his file. I'm sure that the next hands that held Luke's file with a referral were Xiaoqing's of BAAS, when she called and had all of his updates and knew he was right for us! And so doors opened quickly!

As I read more of her story, the tears came for me! She told me more of the story...a personal testimony of how Christmas Eve of 2007 was a hard time in her life. When she received the next referral file, she saw her son! God gave her family peace that this little boy was their's. Found on Christmas Eve that same year of 2007, this little guy was God's gift to their family. They knew it in their heart! So now God gave them the little boy that was meant to be their son all along!

And it gets even we talked a little more mentioning little tidbits of our lives, we discovered that we live about 40 minutes from each other! Our boys are going to be's meant to be.....and I will forever be grateful to Tammy for listening to God speaking to her heart....and for being obedient to His words.

How amazing is that? God is SO good. I know He let us find each other to give us peace and contentment in what He's working out for our families to His glory.

And I've got to share a couple of pictures that were sent to us within the last week when we sent Luke's care package. They aren't new updated pictures, but pictures, nevertheless, that we haven't seen....a stage in his life for which we now have photos! Yay!

Look what a priceless smile! And what a chunk he was!

And here.....Colt says he looks like a little Monk.....our little Monk! Don't you think this looks like a bit of a mischievous "got caught" look?

I just want to scoop him up and hug and kiss him!

And to fill you in on the next step in our adoption journey, our homestudy is complete and awaiting approval with our agency. As soon as we get approval, we go the next step with Immigration and fingerprinting. That's one more step closer to Luke! I really appreciate all of your comments and prayers concering Luke!

I have a few prayer requests that I'd like to mention and would really appreciate your prayers! First of all, my father-in-law (who is 80 years old and lives alone) has been in the hospital most of this week having tests run. We don't know the results of any of these tests yet. Please remember him (and all of us) in your prayers! I would like to ask prayer for Tammy (from the story above) and her family that they receive their PA very soon on their little guy, so they can bring him home as early as possible too! And, I would appreciate prayers that our homestudy approval wait and immigration wait is a short one and things move right along as well! I'm not a very good "waiter". :)

And next time, I'll try my best to have some Christmas pictures for you. It's time to clean up after all those boxes first! :) I can't wait to visit your blogs to see YOUR Christmas decor too!

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kids Keeping Busy

Don't's a miracle! I'm back in only two days! :)

I promised to show you a little something that both of the kids have been up to the past weeks.

First of all, you know how much Colt loves his music and musical instruments. Well a couple of months ago, he disassembled one of his electric guitars. He then proceeded to sand and strip the finish. I wish I had a picture of it before to show you, but it was sort of a sunburst finish. Anyway after much sanding, then staining, and several layers of semi gloss polyurethane, he finally finished.

I love how it turned out!

Here's a closer look:

His girlfriend, Amber, put an inscription on the back for him, which gives it even more character. It says "Remember why you play" Am (short for Amber). I just love her handwriting!

Here's my handsome son with his "new" guitar.

Jason and I picked up new strings for him while Joy was in dance the other night. When we got home with them that night, he reassembled it all, getting all those wires back in place, and not only does it look good, but it sounds good. I love to hear Colt play!

So you see....I have a do-it-yourselfer son too! I was really proud of him!

Also....during the middle of the week that we were having our homestudy visits, Joy begged to go to a local carnival. I don't have much faith in the people that put those things together, but she really wanted to go. night after dance we stopped in and they had closed early. She was so disappointed, but we decided to try the next night since we were finished earlier. This time they were open. She even managed to have her friend, Cheyenne, meet us. Now I am really glad of that, because Cheyenne saved Jason and me from having to ride the rides! We got there about 8:45 p.m. and stayed until about 10:00 p.m. with them being about the only people there. There were maybe ten other people in the whole place. They rode every ride there multiple times.

My daughter is a dare devil I tell you! Have you ever seen the Moby Dick or the Fire Ball? Oh my goodness, the Fire Ball is the thing in the big giant ring that starts rocking up the track one way gaining momentum until it finally goes completely over making them go upside down. Then at some point, as it starts slowing, they are actually hanging up in mid air upside down. Being a scaredy cat when it comes to heights, it made me nervous watching! I don't do ferris wheels either, so I really loved Cheyenne that night! That ferris wheel was 85 ft. tall! Jason would have had to do the ferris wheel. I would come closer to do the fast things....because they're over with quicker! :) Anyway, we took several videos of them on rides, but I have so much trouble getting those to upload here. However, here's a picture of Joy and Cheyenne at the fair.

I might add that this was the night before our scheduled home visit, when we needed to be home doing last minute stuff, and here we were out on the town! :) It all turned out fine though!

Here's a picture of Joy on Halloween. We went to a Trunk N Treat. They also had a giant blow-up slide. Joy dressed in last year's dance recital costume....she was a groovy girl. (Those dance costumes come in handy at Halloween...I try to get my money's worth out of them)!

My little groovy girl and me...

So you see when the kids are busy, they keep us busy, but one day it will be quiet.

I'm enjoying this life as we know it now.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Operation Christmas Child (& More)

I'm still here! I know I've been a very bad blogger and I apologize!

First of all today, I'd like to thank those that emailed me to "check on me". It is so nice to be missed! It doesn't seem like that much time has passed, I guess because I've been so busy. I lie in bed at night with the best of intentions of not neglecting my blog, and it just never works out.

These days we are spending four nights a week taking Joy to dance! Yes, I said four nights! Her ordinary schedule includes three nights with one night being for jazz and tap class, one night for ballet, one night for production, and temporarily until the first of December, we also have Friday nights as she practices for her performance in Moscow's Russian Nutcracker Ballet. Jason and I have just learned to use it as time together while we wait on Joy. It makes for good discussion times as we wait. We've also taken along the piles of paperwork needed to complete for the adoption.

I really have nothing really interesting to share on the adoption process. We had our home visits last week with our social worker, Ms. Lori, who is wonderful by the way! She was so sweet and gave Joy a scrapbook and adoption scrapbook papers! Our homestudy should be finished the first of next week, which leads us to our next step of filing our I-800A with Immigration and the fingerprinting. In the meantime, we are working on all the certification and authentication needed for the documents for our dossier to be sent to China. I have the highest praise for our agency, BAAS, and our coordinator, Xiaoqing. They are very efficient and Xiaoqing never tires of my many questions.

I have also met so many adoptive moms of kids from China through forums and blogs, that have answered many questions for me. One of my solid rocks of information is Erin. Erin has answered so many questions (I'm sure she has loads of patience because I have bugged her SO much) and I'm so glad she told me about BAAS which led us to our little Luke! She brought home her beautiful daughter, Maia, in May, and Erin is helping others along the way!

Speaking of Luke, we will be sending him a care package through Red Thread China hopefully this week, which will include a little album of pictures of us for him, among other things. There's a chance we will get more pictures of him possibly getting his package. I will most definitely share any new pictures or information that we receive! This wait is not easy!

Now on to the title of my post......Operation Christmas Child. Every year our homeschool group, CHEF (Christian Home Educators Fellowship), uses our Harvest Party (which was this past Tuesday) as an opportunity to take part in a very worthwhile service project, Operation Christmas Child, which is a ministry of Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse. The ministry asks that we get shoe boxes (and wrap the lid separate from bottom of box) or the little plastic rubbermaid type boxes (and decorate them Christmasy) and fill them with items age and gender appropriate to the category you choose. These boxes are sent to many countries to children who may have never known gifts like this. I watched a video on this once and these boxes are carried by wagon and donkey to some villages even. Can you imagine the delight of a child to see these boxes come to them from people who care? Click here to print a label (girl or boy and age category)as well as to read the types of things that are appropriate for sending. And if money is tight, Dollar Tree makes a great place for shopping for your shoe boxes. They have lots of small items that are appropriate. We chose to send a box to a 2-4 year old boy. I bet you could never guess why! (Our own Luke will be 2 when we bring him home so it was fun buying for that age). THEN, after all of boxes are ready to go within our homeschool group, all of the kids (and adults) gather around them and we always have children volunteers to pray over these boxes that the recipients will be blessed by them in every way. This year we filled and dropped off 26 boxes at our local dropoff station!

Most years, my kids have written a little letter and included their picture in the box. And imagine our surprise one year in April, we opened our mailbox to find a letter from Africa. It was a boy and girl holding their boxes with big grins and holding up the picture of Colt and Joy. That really made an impression on my kids. So, if you want to make a difference, take a minute and check it out. Pack a box. Or better yet, organize an effort to do this within your church or charity organization. When you click on the site above, it will also give you a local drop-off place for your box by putting in the area you live. (Oh, and they also ask that we include $7 to cover the shipping).

I was going to include some pictures from the past week of things we've been up to, but since this post is growing longer, I think I'll save that for my next post (which I PROMISE won't be as long as this time). Joy's been up to some fun activities; Colt has been very crafty and I have his finished "project" to show you; AND we've put up our main Christmas tree. I have so many Christmas boxes sitting on my sunporch calling my name. I like to get our Christmas decor up early so we have lots of time to enjoy it. You know the low lighting of the Christmas trees, sipping on my hot chocolate in my PJs watching a Christmas movie with my family.....that's the life!

Thank you, to everybody that stopped by with a comment or an email, about the adoption (and just everyday), I truly appreciate every one. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday!