We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Today was the day that Heather and I were tackling together... BLACK FRIDAY!!! I was tempted last night to just say that we shouldn't go. I hate dealing with crowds and I was sure that there were going to be lots of them today! I even e-mailed her last night and said if she didn't want to go, it wouldn't hurt my feelings terribly. Well, she wanted to go.... and I'm so glad that she did. WE HAD A BLAST!!!! Heather and I have not gotten to spend a whole lot of time together since the kids were done with football. We miss our Tuesday evening practices and our Saturdays at the grid iron. So, today, we were spending time together. And we were going to have fun doing it.

First we went clothes shopping for the kids. Got some great deals and wandered around a bit. Then we decided to head to Sam's. We ended up with a TON of stuff. I found a lot of great deals on stuff for the kids and for some other family members (the husband-type of family members who can read this blog and find out what they got!!!). So, I will keep that to myself.

That took us probably over an hour there. So, after that, Heather looked like she was going to pass out, so we decided to go get something to eat. We had a nice lunch together and then went to drop some stuff off at home, to get ready for wave 2 of shopping. In the meantime, we called Heather's mom, to see if she wanted to run out with us. She did, so we stopped by and picked her up and went out again.

This time, it was toy shopping. We had a GREAT time together. Heather and I were laughing so hard, I nearly had an accident!

We always joke about my "black hole" purse. You put stuff in it, and let me tell you, you can put a LOT of stuff in it. The trouble is, you will never find it again. It's not that remarkably big, but things get lost in there! I swear there are small villages down at the bottom of my purse! The thing about my purse is, that Tim got it for me when he was on a business trip in Italy. So, I have a true, fine Italian leather purse. And when he bought it, he asked me if I wanted a big one or a small one. Well, of-course I had to have a big one. I have so much junk to carry around. Actually, 90% of it, I'm sure I don't even need, but I never go through it and get rid of things. Anyway, I told Tim to get me a big purse and he did. Not many men will purse shop in Italy, but Tim did. I feel bad now that I call it the "black hole" but truly, it is. He even sees things get lost in it! But now I have decided I need a smaller purse. One like Heather's that is so cute. It's perfect. It fits over your shoulder so nicely. It's a size where you couldn't make it heavy if you tried, because it is not big enough. And it's a nice red color. I just love it. So, I looked for one of those. I carried hers around to see if any were as comfortable as hers, and they were not, so I put them all back. I have decided, I don't need a purse like Heather's... I need Heather's purse. She was a bit reluctant to turn it over to me though :( Maybe because it is HERS!!!

Heather, if you read this (and I know you will :) I had a great time today. We need to do stuff like that more often!

Tomorrow we are actually spending time with Heather and her family as well. Neil had made plans with Tim to watch football together - the big championship game or something like that. I don't know. All I know is that a bonus to them watching the game, is Heather and I spending the day together again!!! It's feast or famine with our time together. We are in the feast mode right now!!!

So, black Frday wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I got a lot of christmas shopping done, and the stores weren't all that bad. Maybe we will make it a Christmas tradition for Heather and I to go shopping together.

In Christ,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends and family! There is so much for our family to be thankful for this year... so very much! Unfortunately, we will not be with all of our family this year, as that would be near impossible, but we wish we could be and are thankful for each and every person.

Personally, I am thankful number one, for my salvation. There have been so many avenues of my life that have been difficult to navigate - and sometimes I found that I couldn't... I just had to drop anchor and sit. Where would I be without the anchor of my salvation? What rock would I cling to when the times got tough? It's never easy to sit and weather the storm, even with Christ as your anchor, but trusting in him makes it bearable. Trusting in Him helps you come out on the other side transformed.

I am thankful for my family. I'm thankful that I have a great husband and healthy children. I'm thankful for the country I live in, for the warmth of my home and for the wonderful food that will be on our table tonight and every night. I'm very thankful for my job, even though it can sometimes be one of the storms that I am weathering. I'm thankful for my friends - the ones who are always there for me to depend on, who will weather the storms with me, or stand in the sunshine and celebrate wonders with me. They know who they are and I love them... they are always there. The ones who you don't see or talk to for months, but when you see them, it is like no time passed.

I'm thankful for our chance to have another daughter. We look forward to meeting her and bringing her home!

Speaking of our daughter.... we made it to Immigration yesterday. Tim and I headed out bright and early and made it to Charleston by 10:00 am. That was great, except our appointment was not until 11:00. So Tim asked "What do you want to do for an hour?". Well, I really wanted to just get my fingerprints done and get back home. It would be nice to be home earlier and get a jump start on all the things that needed to be done. So, I suggested just going in, telling them that we were early, but could we get in line anyway. It couldn't hurt, right? I mean the only thing that could happen is they would say no, and we'd wait an hour.

So, we went into the office. We explained to security that we were early, they asked for our fingerprint appointment paperwork, and they checked our identification and let us in. We went back to the fingerprint area, and we were the ONLY ONES THERE. We were in and out in 20 minutes and were on our way home before our regularly scheduled appointment time. I've said it before, but SC USCIS is the best! Now, I'm just praying for a quick turn around time for our I171-H. In the past that has been turned around quickly for us as well!

So, after our fingerprint appt, we ate a late lunch with the kids and then ran a few errands. We got Anna a few new church dresses and a pair of new shoes to wear with them. She got her first real pair of "heels". You know, the little shoes with the wide heel and about 1/4 inch heel. It's just another sign that my baby is growing up! After a late lunch, no one was really hungry for dinner, so we did some stuff around the house and decided to turn in early with a movie and popcorn.

We watched "My Sister's Keeper". If you like to cry, that is the movie to watch. I cried a good bit of the movie. Cameron and Tim were apparently iin a "no crying contest" becuase Cameron kept asking "Tim, are you crying yet?" Every time Cameron asked me, I sniffed and said "no". Ummmhhh, he knew otherwise! It was a good movie, but a heartbreaker!

I made a chocolate pie last night for the kids and this morning I'm up to bake a fresh, home made apple pie. Denis loves it, so I thought I would make it for him. Mom's bringing the pumpkin pie. I'm looking forward to a nice turkey dinner with my family today. I hope everyone else has a wonderful thanksgiving and has as much to be thankful for as I do.

In Christ,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good News from Switzerland

Hello from Switzerland. After a very long day of flying, we finally made it here on Sunday morning. It was a long, long day, but we are here. We had our first day of conferences as well. About 12:00 today I hit a brick wall and was about ready to fall asleep during our conferences, but managed to stay awake until lunch and got up and walked around. I skipped lunch because I was feeling awful, so I came back to the hotel until the afternoon session and just checked my e-mail and things like that.

So, here is the good news..... when I came back here for lunch and checked my e-mail I had an e-mail from our agency. All of our dossire documentation had been received at our agency and the last piece of information was being sent out today for state authentication. It would then be delivered to our agencies courier who would take it to the Ethiopian embassy in Washington. From there it will go straight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!!!! It could be sent there as soon as Thursday!!!! Whoo Hoo!!! I am so excited, I can hardly stand it.

What good news to receive so far from home! And today, I needed some good news!

Excited in Switzerland,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Of-course it would happen

Well, here it is... the day I need to leave to go to Switzerland. After a week of praying I would wake up with an unmistakable fever, body aches and all that good stuff - nope... healthy as a horse! Knowing me, my timing will be WAY off, and I'll get the fever while I'm in Switzerland and not be able to get back home!!! I so badly wanted to get out of going.... but to no avail. I'm off in about an hour.

So, this morning, I'm packing my stuff to go, and I was messing around with Pearl. She knows something is up, and she must sense that I am going somewhere, because she WILL NOT leave my side. She is lying under the computer chair right now, because she has to be near me. Anyway, as I said, I was packing my stuff to leave, messing around with Pearl, and I took one of my hair scunciis and put it over her muzzle. She was batting with her paws at it, and we all got a good laugh out of it. Well, she finally got it off of her nose and started running around like a freak with it. I told her to stop and Tim grabbed her collar. Well, that was the end of the scuncci.... We can't find it anywhere, and I'm sure she ate it. Not sure how she could have done it so quietly, but seriously, it is nowhere to be found. She didn't cough or gag, but it's gone. How could she have just swallowed it??? It's so...... dry. So, now as I leave, I get to worry about my poor puppy. It's my own stinking fault though. I was the one fooling around with her. Didn't think she would EAT the scuncci though. I just thought we would play with it together.

Hopefully it does not make her sick. She has not been sick one day since I've had her. Hopefully it will just come out the other end and there will be no issue. Let's hope. I know it is a LOT of money to retrieve things out of dogs... so here's hoping for a quick exit of my hair bow from Pearl's body!

Off to Switzerland..... four airports and about 20 hours and I will be there. Thank goodness the company flies us business class. Here's to no more travel for me for a long time.

In Christ,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The day has been saved!!!!

I exercised patience. Yes, me. The impatient one.

I resigned myself to mailing the form back to immigration to get our fingerprint appointment rescheduled. I was so much so resigned, that I sealed the envelope. Tim and I were going to run out at lunch and mail it (since there is no mail tomorrow) but instead just decided to drop it off at the post office before picking up the children tonight.

Then I went to meetings. When I came back to my office I had an e-mail from our adoption agency (I had told them of my needing to reschedule) with contact information for immigration. Seriously, there was a phone number - AND - a name. So, with a name, there HAD to be a human associated with the other end of the receiver. And there was ....

This particular lady was VERY helpful and managed to arrange my NEW APPOINTMENT over the phone! So glad I waited to mail in that form. We have our fingerprint appointment on November 25th!!!!! Then we just wait for approval!

My agency is the best! So very helpful! And now I can relax as I go to Switzerland - knowing my appointment is scheduled. Still don't want to go to Switzerland though :(

In Christ,

Calling Immigration

Have you ever tried to call your local immigration office? I did this morning. It was a call that was not meant to be. First, I thoroughly read the document that was provided for our fingerprint appointments. I overlooked the part that said to rearrange appointments, you need to make a copy of the current form for your records, and mail the original back. No, I didn't really overlook it... I was just ignoring what I read. I figured that if instead, I made a phone call, we could arrange it all over the phone and it would save both me and the Immigration office the postage required to make the new arrangements via mail. (Couldn't they just e-mail me or something?).

There was a phone number on there for problems / questions regarding your form. Well, technically I did have a problem / question regarding my form. The problem was I would be out of the country at the time of the fingerprint appointment. The question was, would they change it for me. I am fully aware that the instructions for taking care of that were included... but technically I DID have a problem / question :) Also, it said that if you did not show up for your appointment then you will be considered as to have abandoned your application. There is no mail tomorrow due to a holiday, so what if my request to change my appointment didn't make it there on time and my fingerprint date came and went and they considered my application abandoned? For that reason, I will just CALL!!!

So, I called. Multiple times I called - because it kept hanging up on me. When the option I needed was not available - like all skilled automated phone system manipulators know - I hit "0". this would surely get me to a human being. Nope - that got me an invalid entry message and an additional reciting of the 9 long options that I did have to choose from, none of which matched what I needed. So, I tried multiple numbering sequences "press 2", "press 4", "press ANYTHING". Finally I got to something that asked me to enter my case number. After finding the case number, I entered it. Well, it seemed as though my first three letters were invalid. Please enter again. So I did. Invalid. Enter again... invalid. Three strikes and you are out. Obviously the phone system thought I didn't know what I was doing so it kindly said "good-bye". The system was right. I did not know what I was doing. I was doing whatever it took to get a human on the line. I don't think a human can be reached ever. Even though it says that they are there to assist me from 8 am to 6 pm... I'm not sure it is true. I dialed every number sequence imaginable and none of them led to a human.

So, I give up. As sad as it is, I am having to follow the instructions and mail the form back in, hoping it makes it there on time and my case isn't considered "abandoned".

Have I mentioned that I DO NOT want to go to Switzerland next week? This is reason number 126 why I do not want to go. It made me miss my fingerprint appointment.

If anyone from immigration is reading this blog - thank you for turning around our documentation so quickly. I understand SC is one of the best immigration offices to go through with regard to turn around time. I truly appreciate that. How about leaving me a comment though and letting me know the secret to getting a human on the question / problem line. I won't tell a soul, I promise!

In Christ,

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Jackpot

Well, I hit the Jackpot today.... well, sort of. There was no money involved, but it felt like it. I was almost as excited as I would be if I won the lotto. Finally, after weeks, even months of waiting, the mailbox contained good news today. not just one piece of good news, but four.

Let the record show that neither Tim nor I are criminals. We have a certified letter from the FBI to prove it. We have no record. Shocking. They told us that last year and the year before too. Not sure what took them so long this time. Anyway, the coveted documents are finally here. Two envelopes, one for me and one for Tim giving us the clearance we need for Ethiopia.

But the excitement didn't end there. Also in the mailman's stash today were two envelopes from the Department of Homeland Security, inviting Tim and I to participate in yet another fingerprinting opportunity. This time at our local USCIS office in Charleston. I was so excited..... until I opened the envelope and discovered the date of the invitation. It is for next week. Why the disappointment? Most people would be excited that it was so soon. Well, where will I be next week? Switzerland. Not sure the company will give me a quick flight home to meet with the people at the USCIS office. So, tomorrow morning, as soon as they open, I will make a phone call and see when I can rearrange the appointment for. I imagined this would happen with Tim and I both being out of town so much lately. But, when we didn't get anything last week, I thought we were clear until I came back. I thought for sure all the paperwork would come while I was gone and then the invitation would be for sometime after that. But nope. It's while I'm gone. I've never had to re-arrange the fingerprint appointment before, hopefully it is not too difficult. Hopefully we will get another quick appointment.

The good news is, progress has been made! I am going to take a leap of faith and say that my guess is that the SC USCIS office is going to turn around our I-171H in record time and that we are going to have everything for our dossier submitted to our agency by year end! That would be so great! It may be pushing it, but here's to hoping! Wish me luck with updating our appointments...

In Christ,

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Final Football Game

What a beautiful morning for the final game of football! I'm going to really miss Saturday morning football, because that was time for Heather and I to spend together. I'm sure we will come up with another way to spend some time together. The kids had a great last game. The team was nearly undefeated 7 wins, 1 loss. Today the final score was 49 - 0. Cameron scored the first touchdown! He was thrilled (so was his mom!).

Technically Tim comes home today. I say technically, because his plane does not touch down in Florence until 11:30 pm, so it will be after midnight before he gets home. I bet he is ready to be home and not have to travel for awhile. I on the other hand have to leave on Saturday for just about a week in Basel. Oh how I dread work travel. I would give just about anything to get out of going, but I can't. I'd just much rather be home with my family!

I thought for sure that I would hear something this week regarding the adoption. I am going to call the FBI (AGAIN!!!) on Monday and find out where our criminal clearance is. It has been there for nearly six weeks. That is crazy. I did get a letter from the department of homeland security this week. I ripped into it expecting a fingerprinting invitation, but no such luck. Just a letter from them telling me that they had gotten our application. They could have saved themselves the postage because I already knew that. They cashed my check! Maybe there will be something in the mailbox today... I can only hope!

In Christ,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pumpkin project

I finally got my camera memory card to work and to load onto the computer. So, I was finally able to load the pictures of the crafts that the kids and I made over the weekend.
While Tim was gone this weekend, the kids and I decided we would do a project. We did them on Sunday.... I know Halloween had already passed, but as I pointed out to Cameron, we could be considered 1 day late, or 364 days early for next halloween. Aren't these little pumpkins cute. I got the idea from my friend Heather, and she kindly told me how to make them. I fell in love with them. I can't wait until we can put them out on the front steps next halloween! I also wanted to make them because I wanted to see how difficult they were. I have some ideas for Christmas (this Christmas, not NEXT Christmas) and wanted to find out if it was worth planning on making them. I think it is. I think they turned out so cute! Here they are:

While we were making the pumpkins, I also finished up the letters for Sara's room. I had them done some time ago, but didn't like how the J and the Y turned out, so I bought new ones and made them again. I think the end result turned out really cute for her room. So now we have a room, a name.... just no Sara Joy. Not yet anyway.
On the adoption side of life, we are still waiting. Still we have no FBI criminal clearance - kind of ticks me off, but what can I do???? Call again? That never gets me anywhere! We haven't received a fingerprint appointment yet, but hopefully that will be coming soon! I received an approved copy of our home study yesterday. I will file that away in my huge adoption binder. One more thing done and off of the list of things to do!
I really dread this part of the adoption "paper chase" because I feel as though it is so out of my control. I have done everything I can do, now I just have to sit and wait on others. I really don't like waiting on others. I always think this part is the worst... but then I recall when my dossier was complete and in China when I was adopting Anna. Looking back, I'm not sure what was the worst: the paper chase and all of its delays; the dossier complete and in country waiting for referral phase; or the having a referral but waiting for travel phase. They are all bad in their own special way!!! Gotta love International Adoption! It's all worth it when you get the child God had waiting for you in the end. That is what keeps me going, that is what makes you press on!
Hopefully I will have some good news to share soon!
In Christ,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

My prayer is that this time next year, we will have another little one to dress up and take around the neighborhood to indulge her sweet tooth. For this year though, we had a great time celebrating with Cameron and Anna.
Tim headed out to Switzerland again halloween morning, so it was just me and the kids. Cameron had football in the morning (which they won 25 - 0). He went with the White's. Then he came home, we made some lunch, did some work around the house, and then prepared for the evening festivities. We were headed over to the White's house to go out for an evening of fun with their kids. First we ordered pizza (so the kids would have plenty of energy to go out on their mission) and then herded them up and headed out.

All the kids, ready to go out (from L to R: Anna, Cameron, Kailee, Christopher, Cameron (yes, there are two of them) and Joseph (a friend of Cam and Christopher)

Cool house
Cameron and Christopher
Father and Son (not planned by the way)

Anna my little cheerleader
(wearing make up which won't happen again soon!)


You could not have asked for a more perfect halloween night. I guess in my mind it could have been a bit cooler, but it was very nice. I remember halloween nights up north in Michigan where you had to wear so many layers over your costume that no one knew who you were. If you didn't, you would freeze to death! This was a bit nicer, for both the parents and the kids. It was nearly a full moon and a very clear, warm night, so the kids had a blast! They got a bunch of goodies, so they were thrilled!

Today the kids and I are hanging around the house. I need to get their uniforms pressed for school next week. We are also trying a new recipe for dinner tonight (ooohhh, Cameron the picky eater is thrilled!!!) and are making a project. It should be a lot of fun. Hopefully dinner will turn out well. I'll let you all know!

I really do hope that next year our little Sara Joy will be here to celebrate with us!

In Christ,