China or Bust!

Today’s the day! I’m sitting in the admiral’s club at the airport, sipping on my jamba juice, and trying to think of what to write. I have so many things to share, so many thoughts going through my head, so many emotions… I also am realizing that this will be a short post, since I’m typing on my phone.

So… First, let me say thank you. Thank you so much for all of your love, prayers, encouragement, and support. You have gotten us this far in our journey, and we appreciate you! Please continue to think of us as we travel to bring Evan home.

This morning, Chris and I took Austin out to breakfast. We talked about our trip, and were trying our best to get him to understand that we’d be gone for a while, but that when we return, he’ll have a brother. I think he gets the brother part…. It’s the period of time he doesn’t get. At one point he told us we’d be gone for five weeks (as he held out his hand to show five fingers)! Thankfully it will not be five weeks. We know he’ll have a great time with his grandparents, and he has lots of fun in store for him.

When we dropped him off at daycare, we took our last photo as a family of three…

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We are excited to explore China; less excited about flying there. Thrilled that we’ll finally get to hug the son we’ve been praying for; anxious for him, as he is about to lose everything he’s ever known. I cant tell you how eager I am to hear his voice, his laugh, and even his cry. I can’t wait to introduce him to his brother via a video call next week, too. There’s so much that we’re anticipating….

We know you are excited for us, and eager to meet Evan. When we return home, though, we will be in a period known as “cocooning”, where we will be focusing on establishing bonds and attachments with Evan. We will be staying home as much as possible, and limiting outside interaction. We want you to meet Evan and show him the love you’ve been pouring out on us, but we ask that you bear with us during this time. We don’t know how long it will take. If you do stop by, please keep your visit brief, do not hold Evan, and any gifts need to be given to us to give to him. I know it sounds weird, but it’s very important that we do things this way until Evan understands that we are his primary caregivers. Thank you for your support in this way!

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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”

Convos With My Two Year Old.

Have you ever watched Convos with my Two Year Old on Youtube? You should subscribe to the channel. It is hilarious and has been providing me with weekly entertainment and belly laughs for years.

It’s gotten to the point, now, with Austin, that I could probably start taping some of my own shows. Here’s a very brief snippet of a recent conversation we had one evening when Austin sees me pulling out pots and pans.

Austin: “I don’t want breakfast.”

Me: “That’s cool. Because we’re having dinner. I’m making pasta.”

Austin: “I don’t want pasta. I want grits.”

Me:“-wait, what..??”

I cannot wait for more of this. He says full sentences, now. “I don’t like those pants, Mama.” His personality is really starting to come forth too, and he is nothing, if not entertaining. I’m sure I’ll have more segments for you soon.

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!
IMG_20150222_085436614 IMG_20150222_093237071Austin didn’t really care for the breakfast, but he did ask for a “pingua” which is “apple” in Mandarin. I let him have one.

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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.

Chosen 10-mile Weekend

I discovered something yesterday. My hip flexors! And that they hurt. lol.

Yesterday morning we gathered at Charlotte Motor Speedway to meet with our team, WeMartinsAdopt. Of the 15 of us, 8 people were running alongside Chris and I. Two teachers from the school I volunteer at,  three neighbors and one of their siblings, and two employees from Chris’ company. A spouse and son came to cheer us on as well! The missing teammates were “sleepwalkers” who were there in spirit.

It was a beautiful day, and was so special for so many reasons. The morning started out chilly and turned into a cool, but sunny morning and warm rest of the day. As we walked from the parking lot to the starting line to find our team, we saw familiar face after familiar face. Because we had hosted a dinner for the chosen teams about a week ago, we had already made some connections. But most of the people we saw were people from our old church, who were gathered to run for another family that is adopting from China. The Pattersons are adopting two boys, and had 67 wonderful supportive team members. Whoa. That church is like a family, and it showed. It was wonderful to see and hug so many familiar people, running for this cause. We know we can count on their prayers and support, now, too!

Meeting up with our teammates was a task. we’d find people, lose people, forget to get our tracking tags and have to run off, then come back and find them again. A couple of the people on our team were people we didn’t know, and one person showed up after the start. And some are runners while others of us… are trying to be… so needless to say, we lost each other shortly after the start. But in the end, at some point during the race, we saw, hugged, and thanked everyone for running on our team.

balloon release

balloon release

in memory of the lives lost 10 years ago in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash.

in memory of the lives lost 10 years ago in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash.

teammates in more than one sense of the word!

teammates in more than one sense of the word!

some of the team

some of the team

It was wonderful that these people were all running out of love. Either in memory of someone who had died in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash 10 years ago, or to bring children into forever families. So. Awesome.

Chris and I ran the first 6.5 miles or so, and then our knees started to hurt. So we ran/walked the last part of the course, maybe walking 2 miles, total. My time was 2 hours and 14 minutes, and since Chris stuck with me the whole time (thanks, babe), I guess his was too. I’d say, for non-runners who have not been able to get their miles in, and have never run that far ever in their lives, we did pretty well. The rest of the day, after refueling with some neighbors at cracker barrel and having a celebratory beer with two sleepwalker teammates, we rolled our legs, stretched, soaked in an epsom salt bath, and rolled our legs some more. Today, I can definitely tell my muscles are fatigued, and stairs are a little hard on one of my knees, but I feel pretty good! Praise God that these novice runners completed a successful run with no injuries!

This guy was somewhere on the course. I thought he was appropriate.

This guy was somewhere on the course. I thought he was appropriate.

the Gowins.

the Gowins.

one of the signs toward the finish lines.

one of the signs toward the finish lines.

another version of our "Waiting for you" sign

another version of our “Waiting for you” sign

loved this. "No Greater Reason To Compete"

loved this. “No Greater Reason To Compete”

team sign with all of our names on it

team sign with all of our names on it

team sign with all of our names on it

team sign with all of our names on it

I am already thinking about next year’s race. Now that we know about it, we can start talking about it, training for it, and building our team much sooner. And we will run the whole thing, I just know it! Hopefully, we’ll have completed our adoption by then, but I trust in the Lord’s timing and will move forward, doing what I can, and just be patient!

Later that afternoon, we put Austin in his Halloween costume and went up to the Cypress, where we volunteer on Sundays. They were having a trick-or-treat thing for kiddos (or maybe more for the elderly who reside there) and we were late. So all the other kids were already gone. That just meant that Austin was the center of attention. He didn’t get why he was standing around with people staring and cooing over him. ANd he didn’t know what they kept putting in his bag. But after he saw a Hershey’s kiss and had it unwrapped for him, he pretty much got the idea. Luckily for us, pretty much all the candy was already gone. Phew! He was the cuteness, but I’ll save those pics for Halloween. 🙂 The rest of the day we took it easy.

Today, after first service at church, we picked up Austin from the childcare, and went back into church so he could watch the worship. He loved it. He was “drumming” on the railing of the balcony, swaying and clapping. he kept saying “tar!” which is guitar, and was excited about the drummer and the violin. He also knows a new word, now- “singing.” That kid. He learns so fast. So. Fast.

And as soon as he wakes up from his nap, which should be any minute now, I think we are going to do a little shopping at the new(ish) outlets here, and then hit up the grocery store. So, this is where I leave you. Toodles!