Getting Ready, or, a Summer Update

I’ve been really bad about updating the blog. And there’s so much going on to share! I don’t quite know where to start… I will tell you though, that this will probably be mostly pictures. 🙂

Well, first, I should say that we got our Travel Approval! Our TA came in on August 27, in time to make a September Gotcha Day. Our prayers for September were answered! But, due to some circumstances, we are not travelling until October. It’s hard knowing that we could be in China RIGHT NOW, but we are still here waiting… But it’s ok. We’ll be boarding a plane to China in 21 days. Here’s hoping we make the most of our time here, but that these next three weeks go by quickly!

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While we wait, we I’ve been nesting like crazy! I just finished refinishing a dresser and nightstand that were mine as a child, to go in the boys’ new room. It was my first time attempting anything like this, and I think they turned out pretty well. The beds are put together and made up, and artwork is on the wall. We just need a few details, like a picture of our boys together to put in one of the empty frames, and we’ll be done! I think it’s coming together nicely.

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My grandparents came for a visit, which was so awesome. They were here for two wonderful weeks. It was full of conversation, food, and family. They were helping me with learning Mandarin so that I would have some useful phrases on hand while we’re in China. They also gifted us with a tour of Beijing that includes hotel, so we’re now able to sightsee a little bit of China while we are over there!

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The ladies of my small group surprised me with a shower to celebrate Evan. It was very sweet and thoughtful, and lots of fun! There was Chinese food, and Chinese lanterns, and an American Flag cookie cake. There were also fortune cookies with hand written “fortunes” that were scripture and quotes about families, children, and adoption. It was so cool! I am so blessed to have these ladies in my life, and thankful for people who are excited about Evan coming home as we are!

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As far as we can see, even with the added cost of traveling during Trade Fair, our adoption is fully funded! Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us! Your support means so much to us!

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There were a couple Myrtle Beach trips.

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Chris and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary last week. My parents kept Austin Friday and Saturday nights so that we could have a nice dinner on Friday (our anniversary) and go to a music festival to see our favorite band play the following day. It was awesome.

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And lastly, I’ll just say that this was the summer of trains, swimming lessons, and Okra.

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Numbers and Letters

I completely overlooked posting a First Friday update last week, as we were heading down to Myrtle Beach for the weekend, and I had a ton on my mind. I was hoping for a phone call, an email, something to tell us that our Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC) had been issued. I was also working for the majority of the day, and had to help Chris with some Tobu stuff before we could get on the road. I also braided my whole head to try and have some beachy waves for the weekend. Oh, and I had to drop something off at my parents’ house. So… I just completely forgot.IMG_20150703_114953491_HDR The beach was a great trip. We stayed Friday through Monday, and the long weekend was just what we all needed. It was full of family, friends, great weather, love music, fireworks, and food. What more could we ask for? Oh, and on Monday we finally got word that our LSC/ Letter Of Approval (LOA) is on it’s way! Yes! It only took 41 days. 41 very quick, but equally long days, if that’s possible.

Austin built his first sand castle, and loved holding sparklers. He brought his football and basketball everywhere we went, and asked to go to the beach every single day. I think he loved having lots of time with us, and he was not a happy camper come Tuesday when he had to go back to “school.”

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So, as for adoption updates. Lots of things happened last week. We were moved from “in review” to “to be matched”. And on Monday we found out se have soft LOA, which means our approval is heading to our agency right now! It should be on US soil this week! Next for us, is US immigration stuff. Visas, and getting our boy approved to be adopted here. From the timeframes we’re seeing of those going before us, it looks like we can expect to travel in 8-12 weeks! Yes, that’s white a range, but it just depends on if there are any hold ups, typos, holidays, etc. But, September is looking very likely, now, and we are so excited! And just to secure a September date, we went and bought ourselves some concert tickets for our anniversary. The concert is on 9/23, so, I’m willing to bet we will be given dates that overlap it! I think a little China trip is worth missing the concert, though! 😉 We can see the light at the end of this long tunnel. Please be praying that things move smoothly and quickly as we progress! To celebrate (and hopefully help our nannies prepare our son for travel), we had a toy airplane sent to the orphanage.

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So in the next 8-12 weeks, we have to finish some education, figure out our travel stuff, finish (we’ve barely started) the boys’ new room, and do our best to prepare our little family for the big change that’s coming. That, and raise about $10,000. That’s, like $1000 a week, y’all. Holy guacamole. Where do we even start? Well, tomorrow we are having another Moe’s dinner, so hopefully that helps a bit. I have this weird feeling that we won’t have nearly the turnout that we got last time, but I am hopeful that I’m wrong. If you’re in the Charlotte area and would like to come eat with us, please stop by! You don’t even have to bring the flyer this time. And we’ll do another Moe’s dinner next month, and one in September if we’re still here.  We are not doing a yard sale this weekend, but the next few weekends we definitely will be. We’re still selling puzzle pieces, hoping and praying for a grant, and you will soon see us asking if anyone has hotel and airline miles they can donate to us. We’ve also been selling random things here and there, and I am working a wedding in August. But we’re running out of ideas… and time, for that matter. Not that we’re complaining. The sooner we can bring our little guy home, the better!

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Here are our First Friday Funding Figures, on this second Tuesday of July. We’re 72% there, folks. It’s hard not to stress about that remaining 28%, but honestly I know we will be fine. The Lord will provide a way for our little family to be together, I have no doubt!

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image009 (1)image008On a completely different note, Chris’ disc golf store is open for business! Please check it out! We’ve got two birthday parties this Saturday, and some of our favorite folks are in town, so we’ll visit with them on Sunday. I feel like there’s something I’m forgetting to mention…. Guess it will have to wait until the next post!

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Google Font’s “Give You Glory”

Bringing Lucy Home: A Review

Our adoption agency has a Facebook group for those of us adopting from China with them. It’s been a wonderful resource, a forum to ask questions and share stories, and a great place for us to connect with folks also going through this process. It’s really been a blessing.

One woman in the group brought her daughter home from China last year, and had an incredible road. All of us can share stories about our adoption journeys- some full of drama and suspense, others painfully slow and full of hiccups… When Jennifer Phillips talked about finishing up her book, I was kind of new to the group and knew nothing of their story. An adoption story. Cool. I read those all the time for free on people’s blogs. That’s how I stay “informed”. I had little interest in reading her book, except that it might give me some clues about what was in store for us. So when she asked us to read her book (for free) and review it, I volunteered to, fully expecting to be unimpressed with the story, but maybe come away with a little more knowledge about the China adoption process.

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Work has been busy, we were finishing up our online auction (another post on that soon!), and I had another book I was reading for my women’s small group. I wondered when I would find time to read this one. Luckily, I had the option of reading the book on my LifeWay Reader, so I could access it anywhere I had internet access. So without eagerness, anticipation, or excitement, I started to read Bringing Lucy Home. I started reading one morning with my coffee…. and three days later it was done. Man, I could not put the book down!

There was so much that was great about this book. First of all, it was an easy read, and wasn’t overly detailed. Part of me wanted the details so that I knew every single step of her adoption, but this book was so much more than just a story about a process. Jennifer has an easy, conversational writing style, and it didn’t take me long to feel like I knew her. She could have been sitting across from me with a cup of hot coffee in her hands, telling me this story face to face. And the story was perfect. Well… actually very far from the “perfect” I think any of us would choose, but man, it was awesome to see how when we let God really author our stories, they are amazing. But her life was exciting, living in Australia. And her friends were wonderful- throwing the most amazingly awesome, outrageous, and fun shower for her before she left to get her daughter. I learned a few things, too- like how there’s no Pillsbury in Australia. Crazy! I’m eating a fresh out of the oven biscuit right now!

There were definitely moments when I laughed out loud, but also plenty of edge-of-my-seat, biting my nails suspense.  Ans…. I cried. I admit it. If I could have posted one of those reaction videos showing my response as I read this, you would see that I felt All. The. Feels.

And I still came away with knowledge, though not in the forms I was expecting. I’m hoping I learned a little something about patience from this book (so that God doesn’t have to give me crazy hardships to teach me!). I’m hoping I learned that a picture perfect, boring, and calm life is probably not what I really want. As Jennifer so perfectly expressed, “If happy and glossy and perfect are all that we are striving towards to call this a life well lived, we’ve missed out on life’s greatest riches.” I don’t want to miss out. I know that adoption can be messy. I know that life can be messy. And I’m willing to wade through the muck to come out of it with a more fully lived life. And when things get a little crazy, or even when things are calm, “we would be wise to snuggle up.”

Thanks for sharing your story Jennifer. It is truly incredible, and only just begun!

God Loves Japan

I have mentioned our friends Mat & Jen before. I love them dearly. They are gathering support to be full time missionaries in Japan. I could tell you all about the fun we have, the great conversations we’ve shared, their love for the Lord, and their love for each other. I could try to tell you about their commitment and loyalty, their passion, and their hearts. I could try to convey how much I love them. I could try to explain what they are hoping to do in Japan. I could try to tell you all about them… But I wouldn’t be able to fully convey these things in any meaningful way that does them justice. So, in the meantime, I’ll let them tell you, in their own words. Not so much about them (because really, it’s not about them), but about how God loves Japan.

How do you say “good morning?” and other weekend fun.

We had a pretty low key weekend. Every once in a while, that happens. It was much needed and full of normal fun- nothing extraordinary, nothing expensive- just good quality time. Friday night we celebrated Chinese New Year with my family. After dinner, we had cake and a little celebration for my dad’s upcoming birthday. My brother was teaching Austin to catch, and he is getting pretty good at it!

Saturday we hung around the house. There was a little bit of drum action.

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We turned Austin’s crib into a toddler bed. He was excited about it.
IMG_20150221_101822911IMG_20150221_101821749IMG_20150221_101749800It’s been really funny seeing how Austin wakes up from his naps and in the mornings. The first day, at the start of his nap, he woke up and closed the door to his room. Then he knocked on it and called for daddy. After he actually napped, he very quietly walked over to our room and stood in the doorway. We pretended to be asleep to see what he’d do. There was a dog barking outside. He took a tentative step into our room, and then shouted, “woof!”. haha. Yesterday morning, he was doing this hop/crawl thing  towards our room and saying “woof!” until we burst out laughing. Then he smiled, stood up and said “hi guys!” in the cutest voice you’ve ever heard. He then told us he dreamed about a small yellow dog. Don’t ask me where that came from. This morning, he came in skipping and clapping his hands. Man I love that kid. He wakes up happy and brings it with him.

After the nap, we went to a neighbors’ house to celebrate their son’s first birthday. Later that night I had a dinner date with my mom. It was fun being out just the two of us. We went to a favorite restaurant that we hadn’t been to in ages, and just got vegetable plates to share. It was delicious.

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Sunday morning we had Chinese New Year “cake” for breakfast. I’ll admit, I had some for breakfast today, and will probably indulge again tomorrow. It’s a treat!
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We took Austin to a hibachi place for lunch yesterday. We thought it would be neat for him to experience being cooked in front of. As soon as there was fire, he was in my lap, saying “mommy, hold me!” He was scared, but interested, and he liked the food. I won’t lie when I say he was happy to leave though. Sunday night ended with lots of prayer and a movie that wasn’t good enough to stay up for. Too bad, but it was still good to just veg out on the couch.

That is pretty much all that happened. There was lots of reading of books, playing with toys, and tickling. I posted a few new items to our auction (Have you seen what’s been added over on the Online Auction page of the blog?), and just tried to the time with my boys. I’ll take as many weekends like that as I can before the craziness that comes with warm weather sets in. Not that I’m not looking forward to the fun of summer and excitement of what we’ve got in store, but just trying to enjoy the time I have right now.

A Labor of Love

This post is for my hubby. He is wonderful, and I (usually) adore him. (I’m working on getting a strikethrough to replace those parentheses, but for now, I just have to be honest with myself and you, and be comfortable even admitting that it’s not an all the time feeling.) 🙂

Chris has this wonderful entrepreneurial spirit, and is always looking to improve things- from products, to processes, to his very way of thinking and doing. He’s owned a few businesses and always has his eyes open for his next opportunity. Both of us have been hoping and praying that one day he would find something that he loves, and find a way to make a business out of it.

Well, for the last year and a half, Chris has been working on something that he’s excited about. I’m excited about the fact that he’s excited, and that things are coming together in a very real way. He loves disc golf, and tries to get me to enjoy it, too. He wants to introduce the sport toe everyone and grow the interest around it. He’s always excited to meet other people who play, and loves improving his mastery of the sport. We can finally share what he’s been working so hard on for these past 18 months or so.

A trackable disc golf disc. I don’t play the sport, I admit, but even so I think what he’s trying to do is very cool! He’s been working with a team to develop a disc that flies well, and also contains a tracking device that can pair with an app on your cell phone. This app will help you recover lost discs, map courses, keep score, and tell you the flight characteristics of your throw. I think that’s pretty awesome, and i know I am not doing it justice.

Anyway, his project is about halfway through it’s Kickstarter campaign. Please check it out and share it with your friends! We’d appreciate you getting the word out so that we can see this labor of love come to be a reality for him. Thanks!

Patience. I has none.

I thought I was a patient person. I thought wrong.

Waiting is hard. It’s especially hard when you have zero control over the thing you are waiting on.

Right now, I’m waiting on lots of things. I’m waiting on people… I’m reminding myself that people have lives. Busy lives. Probably busier than mine… I’m not at the very top of everyone’s list of priorities, and my needs don’t come before their own. What I need might be waaaay down on their to-do lists, and even though it’s super important to me, I might just have to wait. I do have to wait, actually. I have no control over anybody, or their circumstances. Remember that, Alicia. People are people. People with lives. You have to love them and respect their time. Just because folks don’t instantly do your bidding doesn’t mean they don’t respect you or know what you need from them…. (but on that note, have you clearly communicated your needs? You can be pretty bad at that, you know.) Relax, and be patient.  Be patient. (I am being very repetitive, because I need to have a kind of mantra over here.)

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My life group is reading James. This past week, our focus was on patience. The Lord’s timing? Probably. “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The judge is standing at the door!” (James 5: 7-9)

And so I wait. I wait for updates. I wait for approvals. I wait for references. I wait for the day we can bring our child home. I’m waiting to see how things pan out for Chris and all he’s doing. I wait, but am far from patient. My blood pressure is rising as I wait. I’ve been lucky to have little blessings to help with some of the wait, but dang, it! At what point do I get the hang of this patience thing?

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