Monday, November 26, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
We hit Kohls first where the line literally snaked around the whole store. We were next door to Target where I wanted to get a TV that was on sale. They didn't open until 6 a.m., so I thought I had plenty of time. Imagine my surprise when I walked out of Kohls and the line to get into Target was all the way down the street to Kohls. Fortunately, it didn't take long to get in and I promptly shuffled off to electronics. There were no more carts so that wasn't a problem.
Oh, and by the way, the television was worth it. *big smile*
Heart contents by Maria at 10:05 PM
Fort Knox??? Notice Joshua is on the floor!
There was much more laughing that photo taking. We finally came out with a few good ones. We should have planned better. There is talk of getting together for the family reunion in June. Maybe then, we can do better.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, these should be a novel.
Had someone eaten a Fiber One bar?
Finally, a passable group photo of all 16 of us.
Heart contents by Maria at 9:53 PM
In lieu of a full write up of the day, I thought my favorite pictures from the day would tell a better story. Suffice it to say, we had more food than we could eat, we had lots of laughter and fun.
- It's just paintin' the walls, Nana
- Please let someone pray who won't cry
- Has anyone tried those Fiber One Bars?
- What's "Iraq"?
- Where's the gold stored?
- Fort Knox
- Watch out for that water spill.
- You're going to sleep how many, WHERE?
- Don't forget the new baby -- WHAT?? What new baby?? Is Ann pregnant?
We are blessed for each life that is in our family, for who they are, what they add to our family and for the fact that we get to call them family. I am blessed beyond measure. Who could ask for more?
Heart contents by Maria at 9:34 PM
I can't wait to see you again, Sarah!
Heart contents by Maria at 9:30 PM
Angie and I were pregnant and our due dates were only six weeks apart. I remember after they were born, they came to visit and I bought them both a Disney outfit and we put them in the crib together and took pictures. Even though they have been apart for many years, as soon as they were back together, it was like they were long lost buddies and were inseparable all over again.
Lauren has the most beautiful complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. She is going to be a beautiful woman one day as well. She is quiet and artistic, sensitive and caring. She and Josh spent the day in the yard working on the "Latham Clubhouse" with a hammer, string and a blanket.
Steve and Angie told her they would leave her with us and she said, "Ok! I could come visit you all on the weekends!" She and Joshua really get along well.
Heart contents by Maria at 8:44 PM
And now, she is a young lady turning 12 in December. She has the most amazing smile, is so intelligent and has "to-die-for" thick blonde hair. As soon as she got to our house, she pointed out that she had gotten braces. She also told me what a good time she's had playing softball this summer. Her team came in second place.
My favorite Caitlin story from this weekend was watching her show her younger cousin Lauren how to work her Webkins cat on the computer and when her little sister Sarah came up and laid down on the floor beside her and snuggled up. Caitlin is a real nurturer and is going to be a great mother one day. She's also so very pretty.
Here is a photo of Caitlin (in the bright pink) with cousin Emily:
Oh, and she's a die-hard Tennessee Vols fan!
Heart contents by Maria at 8:33 PM
Heart contents by Maria at 8:16 PM
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Heart contents by Maria at 8:59 PM
Heart contents by Maria at 8:01 PM
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Punch inspecting the box and contents...
Duke - "going in"
While I put the tree together, Josh and I watched my traditional "annual" movie: Christmas Vacation. I think I could quote it verbatim. It takes a truly sick sense of humor to enjoy this movie year after year. You can infer what you need to from that. I think I just identify with Clark Griswald. He wants, so badly, to make everything for the holiday and his family just perfect and goes to such extremes to make it right, and then it just all goes to pot! *smile*
But.... I digress.
Joshua decided he wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese for his birthday, which we did. He won 722 tickets and got a fly wheel. We then went to Baskin Robbins to get an ice cream cake for Kevin and they were CLOSED. We went to Dairy Queen afterwards and they picked out a cake to take to Mee Mee and Dee Dee's so we could celebrate with them. Mama is not feeling well and they could not go with us to Chuck E. Cheese's.
Mee Mee and Dee Dee gave Joshua an orange jacket and hat to wear when he goes fishing with Dee Dee.
Joshua models his new hat
Dee Dee and Joshua
Mee Mee and Joshua. She wears this outfit every year on his birthday.
Once we got home, I began the cooking. Together, Kevin and I finished the sweet potato casserole, one of the turkeys, the strawberry lasagna, pecan pie and three bean casserole. All that's left tomorrow is another turkey and mashed potatoes. Everything else is being brought by the other people in the family.
Into bed at 1:30 but ready for Thanksgiving!
Heart contents by Maria at 7:26 PM
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Today, he asked me to bring snacks to school for his birthday. Cupcakes, apparently, are not an "appropriate" snack (THANK GOODNESS -- remember the Halloween cupcakes? I surely didn't have time to make those again!!) so I took "pigs in a blanket" and muffins -- per Joshua's request. He told me the right time to bring it was between reading and math, so that's when I took them. I got the most sincere compliment tonight when he told me, "Everyone thought your pigs were as good at Matthew's moms'!!" Apparently, Matthew's mom has the market on pigs in blankets. I'm honored to be considered worthy of hers.
Tonight, we had an early celebration since I know things are going to get crazy tomorrow getting ready for Thanksgiving and all the family coming. I asked Joshua what kind of cake he wanted and he decided on cheesecake. Hmmmm... not what I would have thought. So, during my grocery store trip, I got a cheesecake that had five different flavors -- yummm!!! He and I had some turtle cheesecake. Kevin skipped out (for now -- I'm sure about midnight, he'll be in the fridgey getting some cake and milk). He also had wanted to go to eat at Matzatlan. Since we had to return his football pads and helmets tonight and I had the truck full of groceries, he and Kevin got takeout and we had it at home. Now, he doesn't actually eat Mexican food -- he gets cheeseburger and fries, everytime!!
We have been cleaning house -- hard -- to get ready for all the family. Kevin's brothers, Steve and Mike and their families will be here Thursday, along with Kevin's mom, my mom and dad, and Ann's mom -- total Thanksgiving eaters -- 18. We will have fun, I know.
And Thursday is Kevin's birthday too. I won't tell how old he is as that might be a secret, but it is a "4" number. I suppose I will have to send him out to get his own cake tomorrow. I'm sure it will be an ice cream cake.
Josh is a little under the weather. We took him to the doctor yesterday and was pretty much given an indescript diagnosis of "crud". I'm not sure if it's sinus or a cold, but we are just pretty much treating his symptoms (running nose and cough). I'm hoping it will be gone by Thursday.
Photos of Joshua's birthday "cake" and dinner are forthcoming. I'm tired and headed off to bed!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
- If you have a camera in the car, with the window rolled down as you pull into a drive, people might think you are a terrorist. Mind you, I have been called a lot of things (including Jehovah's Witness and a door-to-door salesman), but never a terrorist. Apparently, according to what he told me, this guy is a terrorist tracker (and is paranoid, my comment). I asked if there really were any terrorists in Bennettsville, SC. Apparently, there aren't so I guess he's doing his job really well. (Please note that I know that the war on terrorism is a serious matter; however, the implication that I might be a terrorist struck me as alternately hilarious and stupid).
- Roosters run faster than some dogs and cannot be stopped by yelling, "STOP" or by swinging a clipboard at their heads. This method often works for dogs -- at least long enough to get back as far as their chains will go. These two roosters had it in for me today and were not going to let me anywhere near the chickens. They were crazy. I serious thought I was going to be pecked.
- Dogs located in chain link fences and on a chain can still get to you. If they are particularly crazy, like this dog, they will come under the fence while you are walking by and try, really hard, to either bite you or make you wet your pants. Screaming, "STOP" and backing up quickly did work in this case, long enough to get me farther back than his rope would go. I really nearly had a heart attack.
- TIKA is a sweet little Jack Russell - terrier mix dog who is deaf. She came limping up to me at a man's house. I made a comment that she was limping both her front and rear foot. She had "prickles" stuck in them and wouldn't come to him to let him get them. She did, however, come to me for "pet pets" and "love loves" whereby he could pick her up and let him get them out. She was absolutely the most loving dog. She laid her head in my hand and just stayed very still. She is deaf. She was born 12 hours after all her other litter mates. I would have never known she was deaf had her owner not told me. She wanted to come home with me and tried to get in the car. I told him I'd take her, but he was so fond of her that he wasn't interested in my offer. Can you imagine Kevin's response if I'd actually brought her home -- oy!
- I have been stopped on more than one occassion by neighbors thinking I was trying to rob the house. Apparently, all over the city of Bennettsville, county of Marlboro, there have been multiple break-ins. GREAT!!! Send me to a town where that is happening and tell me to take pictures of their house. And, please be sure to tuck a door hanger either on their door or inside their door -- right.
- Rose is a dog that was dumped and living off of hamburger wrappers until her owner rescued her. She and I played fetch a long time. I probably would have made more than 80 jobs today if I hadn't played with her so long and went to see the owners' woodworking shop. Rose was a lot of fun.
- Subway now makes pizza. There are not a lot of healthy options in this area so I stopped at the Subway and found that they now do pizza. I had a veggie one and it was very good.
- Bennettsville is a large cotton farming area. Today I picked a few pieces to take home for Joshua and Kevin. I thought it was very interesting to see how it grows.
- I miss my husband, my son, my home, my pets, my parents and friends, "real" food, my church and my bed.
- I'm too sleepy right now to think of another so I'll close with a photo of one of the two cute kittens I met today. They are three or four weeks old and their mother died just last week. They were both black.
These are the two crazy roosters - Fast and Faster
Crazy dog who came under the fence to try to bite me.
I met the most peculiar man today. He was sitting on his front porch smoking (after having inched out on a walker??), and I was working at the neighbor's home. I walked over and said I was with [insurance company name]. He said, very firmly, "Yes, I saw you working over there. I'm just sick of [insurance company name]. It's always something with them -- some letter in the mail telling me what I have to do. Tell me this, do you have any legal rights to be here on a person's private property taking pictures." Well . . . . how about that one??? So, I tried to explain that [insurance company name] was providing a service and therefore had a right to come on the property and take photos of what they were insuring. He said, "What do you mean they own part of my property?" Huh??? I explained they had a vested interest in the property but did not own any of it. I told him he had the right to refuse the inspection. Well, he didn't want to to that! He just went on and on about how he wished he had never gotten started with them and wished he didn't have to hear from them again. He got up and then just went inside. What's that about??? Why does he have them if he hates them?
People. I never understand them.
Heart contents by Maria at 10:21 PM
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Today is Day Three in Bennettsville, SC. Today was a great work day. The weather was mid 60s all day with the sun shining. I managed to complete 124 inspections tonight. I'm going to try to complete another 105 tomorrow, leaving somewhere between 60-75 for Friday. Then Saturday, I'm COMING HOME!! Yay.
This is the last project for 2007, and I'm glad. I'm looking forward to getting home, getting these entered, getting my regular work caught up and then going into the holidays where it would be nice to get a little rest and time with my family.
I like to post the things I'm praying for occassionally so I can go back and see the answers provided to them:
- The families "stuck" in Vietnam who want so badly to come home with their babies. I asking that God will allow them to come home very quickly, and, most importantly, with their babies.
- My mother's pain in her neck and back will be relieved
- Josh will continue to do well in school
- Kevin will hear from his Senior application at work
- My friend Dianne and her situation
- My friend Susan and her situation
- My friend April that she is feeling better soon
- My friend Sharon as she starts her new job, that she will enjoy it, learn the job quickly and settle in easily
- My friend Jennifer's father who has staph infection and is possibly facing another amputation
- My church and the staff that they will remain healthy and that the body will support them, help them and lift them up
- My neighbor, Debra, that her foot will heal
I found a penny in a yard today, head's up. "Find a penny, pick it up; all the day you'll have good luck." I picked it up.
Heart contents by Maria at 10:23 PM
To resolve this, the US has instituted some new policies which are now in effect, but it does not solve the underlying problem of possibility that there are some unethical activities occurring with adoptions in Vietnam. This is not specifically related to the agency we are choosing to work with. This is a general statement based on observations by the U.S. Government. This is a really deep, complicated situation that I could not do justice to in one post. The full story has involved my reading, researching and following Vietnam activities for several weeks now. To compile it into one or two paragraphs is impossible.
Because of all of this, however, I decided to send an email to the agency checking on the status of our contracts as we had not received them yet and to see if there is the potential that Vietnam might close adoptions to the United States again (this country has only fairly recently re-opened to U.S. adoptions). This is my email and the response:
Thank you for your vote of confidence =) We are swamped right now. Your question is valid regarding the relations between the US and Vietnam...it is stormy. It has always been stormy. There is a bilateral agreement that is due to expire June 2008. This agreement needs to be signed in March 2008. Both parties (Vietnam and US) have issues with signing the agreement. There is already an effort being made to negotiate the changes requested by both parties...will they agree...it is yet to be seen. With that said should you forge ahead? We have elected to put new applications on hold. This is largely due to the number of clients we currently have and the pending agreement. You can place your file on hold and know that the line up for Vietnam will not be growing at [agency name], not unless things change and we open up applications, at which point you can request new contracts and move ahead. If you decide to pay the contracts and you have an approved home study you need to keep in mind that those fees are not refundable. We would move full speed ahead with the assumption that the program will continue. It is a hard decision...think about it and let me know what you think. If you decide to move ahead we will want to have the dossier done ASAP =)
Oh, how I'm so glad I'm not you right now. :-) I know things are terribly emotional right now in [agency name's] world with so much going on. I follow the listserv regularly along with several other for individuals adopting from Vietnam.
I just hate that all this is happening, for everyone involved: agencies, PAPs, children ...
And so I write...
We have not received contracts from [agency name] yet. Of course, I know things are crazy right now. In all honesty, I have to question you about whether you think what is going on will force an end to American adoptions from Vietnam again. I am wondering if we should wait a little while prior to signing our contract and sending in our dossier. What are your thoughts on this? We are, in no way, dissatisfied or questioning of [agency name] as I think the agency has proven to be the kind of agency I would want -- one who goes to bat for their clients and who provides adequate communication. We are, of course, questioning the Vietnam program continuing.
Your thoughts, as always are appreciated.
To that end, we have decided to wait a few months to see how things play out in Vietnam -- basically until we feel (reasonably) certain that we are not going into a volatile situation where we might stand to loose a large sum of money or worse, get a referral and the country close adoptions and we not be able to get our child. March is when the agreement is due to be signed. We'd rather wait those 4 months and feel comfortable. We will not loose our "place" in line (which is basically just at the application stage) as the agency is not accepting any more new applications. I think this is a very professional and responsible decision on their part. I wish our "other" agency had been so forthcoming when we signed up for China. We could have already been home with a child had they been this honest.
This will allow us enough time to raise more (much needed) funds. It will give me time to indulge in some much needed rest. It will also allow the agency time to move through the current list of clients and would put us near the top of the list once we turn in our dossier, hopefully, meaning our referral would come very quickly. It will allow the U.S. and Vietnam time to iron out any problems that are currently surfacing so that we can be sure that our adoption is both unencumbered and most importantly legal.
I want to be upset (my old self!) but I have seen first hand through the last few weeks/days that God is truly leading our family where He wants us. He is choosing a varied and twisting path, but we surely can't say it hasn't been eventful. I am positively CERTAIN there will be an Ellie (or two) in our home. I am still confident that He is at work on a miracle. :-) I will go wherever He leads us and right now he is saying, "Wait." And so, I will, we will. Both Kevin and I agree that it would not be wise of us, right now, to pay out a large sum of money with no guarantee that the program will be open in a few months.
We are still in line in China so that is still an on-going process as well.
Continued prayers for our family are always appreciated. Each of you reading this blog is special to us and we pray for you regularly. You are such a source of strength for our family and we feel blessed by each of you in our lives.
PS -- Ironically, we closed on our loan for this adoption -- today. :-)
Heart contents by Maria at 7:11 PM
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Since I'm not home tonight, I can't scan a picture of me when I was 22 months old to include here. Maybe I'll remember to do it when I get home. Instead, I'm including our last entire family photo, from Easter.
I look back on my adoption and the hand of God is clearly in each step of it. There were so many ways my life could have gone and yet He placed me with the parents who loved me and provided me a great life in a Christian home, who modeled values for me and who sacrificed their entire lives for me. My adoption story is a post for another time, as I'm tired tonight and need to get to some paperwork done, but it is truly a testimony of God's hand in my life.
The irony of my being here trying to earn money to pay for my own child's adoption is not lost on me on this day. But I have faith that He has this already taken care of as well.
While this is a really special day for me, I know, now, that it is a much more memorable day for my parents (since I can't remember it :-) ) and that the feelings they experienced on that day are just as real for them today as they were 38 years ago. I also know that I can't wait for my child's "Gotcha" day to come as well.
Heart contents by Maria at 5:47 PM
Heart contents by Maria at 5:37 PM
Monday, November 5, 2007
AND THEN ... God revealed to me the confirmation that His timing is always perfect. In the midst of all the loan traumas and delays and lost appraisals and so forth, the loan processor, Natalie, said to me, "I don't know why this has taken so long, but I'm sure you'll eventually find out." She and I had shared our faith with each other one day and she has been praying for us about the loan and the adoption (how nice is that???). And then ... I found out exactly why.
Tonight, I gave myself an hour to eat dinner, surf the web, read email and blog before getting to work entering jobs. I had not looked at any of the China websites that I formerly frequented because I was spending time on Vietnam sites, trying to bone up on that. So, I went to Rumor Queen's site and read this:
And thanks to NJI13 for her translation, here:
The simple answer seems to be that concurrent adoptions and pregnancies
I am pleased that the CCAA has addressed this publicly.
Effectively, what this is saying is that we can pursue an adoption from Vietnam while we keep our place in line in China and NOT LOSE THE MONEY we have already paid.
Heart contents by Maria at 6:48 PM
Sunday, November 4, 2007
The weather is supposed to be pretty tomorrow and then highs of 50s the rest of the week.
I'm off to bed!
Heart contents by Maria at 11:39 PM
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Storage building during pricing phase
Kevin loading the truck with another load of "goodies"
I'm SO TIRED!!!!
Yard sales are hard work. I started pricing items in the storage building about noon. Kevin joined me a little bit later and we finished up (well, not really) pricing and moving items at 1:30 a.m. on Friday. We were all back up at 6:00 a.m. so we could get Joshua to our friend Dianne's house (she was taking him to school) and get to mama's house, set up the tables and move the things around front.
We worked there until 6:00 on Friday night. Josh and Kevin went to Matzatlan to eat, but I hit the couch and couldn't move!! :-) There was left-over pizza in the fridge anyway and that is my favorite. I was in the bed by 9:30. We were back up at 6:00 to be back at mama's by 7:30 on Saturday. We finished the yard sale and packed it all back up by 8:30 Saturday night. We were all SO tired. Josh fell asleep on the couch when he got home (this NEVER happens) and we couldn't get him up so he had to sleep there all night.
In the midst of the yard sale, I dashed over to Lisa's house to get some of our dossier documents notarized and pick up my employment letter.
The great news is that we raised $800 for the adoption through this fundraiser. YAY!!! Praise be to God for His blessing on us.
I was so proud of how hard Joshua worked this weekend. He helped us move tables, set up things, take money and pack it all up. He was such a trooper!!!
Many thanks to Dianne, Iris, Jennifer, Sharon, Susan, Michelle, Tracie, Stoney and my parents who were all, in some way, helpful to the success of this event.
Sorry there aren't more pictures. We were too busy working to remember to take any more!!
I leave tomorrow morning for South Carolina. I'm a bit concerned about starting out this project so tired, but I know God will give me strength to get through the week. This is the last "big" thing for a bit -- I hope. :-) It will all be worth it when we get our sweet Ellie home.
Heart contents by Maria at 11:26 PM
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Josh's teacher, Mrs. Stroup
After school, we went home and I put together my Queen Bee costume and we left to go visit MeeMee and DeeDee. Joshua got a Pirates of the Carribbean Bath/Shaving set from them. He promptly disappeared to their bathroom where he tested out the shaving cream. We knew from the shaving cream he left on his ear!!
Cate, Carah and Mollie Beth are dressed as Princesses!
Sable, Carson and Callie
The bounty revealed
Heart contents by Maria at 11:02 PM