Back to School

Here it is.  The first day of school.  4th and 2nd grades.2014-08-18_0001 2014-08-18_0002I missed these guys so much today.  They were both really nervous this morning, but came home with great reports.

Z said this morning, “Why did they do this to us? Couldn’t they have given us some warning that summer was ending?!  I mean, it just happened so SUDDENLY!”  I second that!

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Good-bye Summer!

Here it is, the bitter end of summer. :(

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I love summer so so much.  I love the long days.  I love not rushing in the morning.  Actually, I love the not rushing most of the time.  I love being able to lay around and snuggle my kiddos in the morning.

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I love us all being together.

I love spending time swimming, bike riding, playing outside.

Swim meets.  Tennis practice.  Neighborhood Fun. Best friends.

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I love having the time to sit and read and play games with the kids.

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I love going to the mountains.

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Time.  That is what it all comes down to.  Time for the zoo.  Time for the Children’s Museum.

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Time to teach kids how to swim and how to ride a bike without training wheels.  Time for vacation.  Time for rest.  Time to say, “yes, we can do that today”.

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Sigh.

At least we have an upcoming trip to China to ease the pain.  Next summer should be a definite adventure!

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Alaska!

Last week our family returned from a trip that I have been wanting to take for as long as I can remember, to Alaska.  It is going to be difficult to put into words how absolutely amazing this vacation was. It will definitely be remembered for a lifetime.

2014-08-16_0009We started out on a cruise with some of our very favorite family.  We enjoyed every minute on the boat.

2014-08-16_0013We saw a Lumberjack show in Ketchican.  The rainiest city in the U.S.2014-08-16_0002 2014-08-16_0001We saw a breathtaking group of whales in Juneau.

2014-08-16_0003 2014-08-16_0004We panned for gold, met an Iditarod Musher, and got to play with sled dog puppies in Skagway.2014-08-16_0007 2014-08-16_0006 2014-08-16_0005

We were overwhelmed with our views of mountains and glaciers.

2014-08-16_0012We enjoyed good food, but mostly good company.

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After the cruise we took a land tour through Denali State Park.

It was too cloudy to see Mt. McKinley (Denali), but the views were still incredible.

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We ended the trip in Fairbanks.  This trip was absolutely a dream come true.  It made our summer!2014-08-16_0011

 

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LOA

This post is overdue, but we finally got our official Letter of Approval from China on day 67.

That is a huge adoption step to have behind us.  We are now a week into our wait for the next step, which is back through US Immigration.  We already have immigration approval to adopt a child, now we have to have approval to adopt this particular child.

There are still several more steps, but luckily they are all fairly quick ones.  We are well into changing rooms around to make room for our Kai, and it is feeling more real by the day!

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Adoption Update

Slowly but surely things are moving along.  Right now we are on day 24 of waiting for our Letter of Approval (LOA).  This is a step that could take 30 days or could take 100 days. I think with Hannah, I described this step as similar to the grocery store checkout line.  Hoping we will be in the fast lane!

Here is a wonderful chart that shows the steps toward adopting in China.  We have completed Step 7, waiting for Step 8.  After this step I will be able to better predict when we will travel to China.  Hoping for October, but it all depends on the LOA!

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I recently got this sweet picture of our little guy holding the tiger we sent him. SO ready to have him home!!!

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Spring Photos

2014-05-06_0002My favorite kids.2014-05-06_0001I love them so!

 

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Saying Goodbye to Parker

I’m not going to lie, this is hard.  I just dropped the kids off at school, and I’m sitting in my quiet house, and my heart hurts.  My stomach hurts. Its a little bit hard to breathe. Thats what grief feels like.

If you have never had a beloved pet then I’m sure that this could seem like an overreaction. Even anyone who knew Parker would know that this time has been coming for a while, so it couldn’t have been a shock.  It wasn’t.  We did know it was coming.

Still, now our family is different.  I’ve never been a big fan of different.

I can vividly recall the moment that I first realized I was a real “grown up”.  It wasn’t when I graduated from college, or grad school, or even got married.  It was the day that I turned to Jeff and said, “let’s get a puppy,” and he agreed, so we did.

We actually spent several weeks visiting shelters, trying to find the perfect puppy for us. On one of these visits, there was a sweet black and brown puppy.  I thought she was adorable immediately.  Jeff had his own requirement though; would she chase a tennis ball?  We took her outside and tried her out.  She immediately ran and retrieved the ball. We were hooked.  That was the one and only time that she ever went after a tennis ball.

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That’s okay.  She was meant to be ours.

She wasn’t always easy.  She was terribly afraid of storms.  So afraid that she would try to climb up on top of furniture, including tables to find a place of safety.  Strange, I know. She was so scared of the vet that we had to find a vet that would come to our house.  She was diabetic, and needed 2 shots every day.  She was blind in one eye.

But she was oh so sweet.  All she ever wanted in her life was to be close to all of us, and she was always eager to give love and receive love.

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Yesterday Jeff and I knew that her time had come. Saying goodbye was terribly hard.

Our lives were richer because Parker was a part of our family.  We already miss her so much.

2014-04-28_0002I love you Parker Lou!

 

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First Care Package!

We have now sent 2 packages to our little guy.  Unfortunately the first one disappeared somewhere between here and China.  Luckily the second one made it there. Even better than that, we actually have pictures of him seeing our faces for the first time. Priceless!

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2014-04-17_0003Look at that little guy holding the album with his picture on the front with the words “My Family”.  You do indeed have a family, sweet boy.  We are getting to you as quickly as we can!

2014-04-17_0001Here is a beautiful sight.  All but one of the papers for our dossier.  Notarized, certified by the county that each document originated from, sealed from the state, and authenticated by the Chinese consulate.

Our immigration approval should arrive in the mail tomorrow.  I will quickly go through the steps with it and then our papers can finally head to China!!

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Finally- Introducing our Little Guy!!

It has been over 2 months since we got his paperwork, and I finally got what is called Pre-Approval from China. That means that I am now free to publicly introduce our new son!

Meet Kai Yi:

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I first saw this little guy about a year ago.  One of the directors of the group home he is in is in my photography class.  She encourages all of her staff to take pictures of the kids. Here are the ones I first fell in love with.

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I mean seriously.  Can it get much cuter than that?  Still, I am a member of several China groups.  I see a bunch of cute little China kiddos.  At first I thought this was no different.

After several months went by I realized that I was still closely watching the Little Flower blog and Facebook group hoping to see him.  Luckily I saw a lot of him.  I loved watching him grow and hearing about his progress.

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Around this time I casually asked Jeff to take a look at him.  He basically laughed in my face.  He was not about to consider adding another child to our circus.  To be totally honest, he sent me an article on addiction (he was joking).

I couldn’t really let it go.  This little guy was just on my heart and I thought we should talk about it.  Around this time we traveled to Chicago, and I showed these adorable pictures too all of his sisters, aunts, and cousins.  That is all it took to have a team cheering for us to bring him home.

It didn’t take long after that for Jeff to come on board.  He started with a noncommittal, “okay,  just see what you can find out.” And within days he was as excited about this possibility as I was.

I reached out to our previous adoption agency.  They were able to find out that his adoption paperwork had not yet been completed in China.  Sigh.

I continued to bug them to check the lists several times a month.  It is INCREDIBLY hard to find one particular child in China.  We knew it would be next to impossible.  Even after his paperwork was completed it would either then be added to the “Shared List” where any agency is allowed to pull children from, and typically grab the files of young children very quickly, or his file could be placed onto an “Individual List” for any agency anywhere in the world.

As the months went by I began to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen.  I told Jeff that I was moving on.  Our social worker asked us several times if we wanted to begin an adoption for another child.  I knew absolutely that I didn’t want to do that.

On Halloween, as I was changing Hannah out of her costume she said to me, “You know that little boy in China?”  (The kids had seen pictures of Kai Yi, and knew that we were trying to get his adoption file, but also that it most likely wouldn’t happen).  We had not talked about him in a very long time at this point, so Hannah’s words took me by surprise.  I said, “Your mean Yi?”  Then she said, “Yes… God is going to say yes, and we are going to say ‘yay!’”  Her words still give me the chills.  She re-energized me to try harder to find him.

The week before Christmas I found out that his file was complete and would be sent to a small agency here in the U.S.  I immediately e-mailed the agency and told them that we were passionately seeking this child.  They wrote me back saying that they had given his file to another family the previous day, but asked if we would like to start an adoption for another child.  Ahhhhhh!  It was so painful to think that we had gotten so close.

3 days later that family declined to accept the referral.  He was ours! :)

It was a surreal experience.  I had a couple of days of freaking out and coming to terms with the idea of having 5 (FIVE!) children!  Then I was so excited.

Our new little guy has a birthday on Valentine’s Day.  That was also my grandfather’s birthday.  I love that so much! :)

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Kaibday

It is going to be a long, hard wait until the fall when we can go get him.  The good news is that he is in a WONDERFUL place in China.  If you have a chance, take a look at the good work that is done at Chunmaio Little Flower!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!2014-02-02_0001 2014-02-02_0002 2014-02-02_0003 2014-02-02_0004I had a great time taking some Valentine’s pictures of all my favorite kids.  Mine plus my favorite niece and my favorite nephew.  Oh yeah, Clover too. :)  Love these munchkins!!!

Next Valentine’s Day we will also be sharing a birthday cake with a very special little guy. Can’t wait. :)

 

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