Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - Personal Year-In-Review

I an across this little survey/questionnaire on Jess's blog, (which is very entertaining!). Alrighty, here we go!


1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? Travel to Africa! Parent 4 kids!


2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? hmm... I don't believe I made any last year. Although I'm sure I told myself I'd lose weight or something equally as meaningless. I'm not a big fan of the word "resolution" so this year I am making myself some promises (probably will post on that topic eventually...)


3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yep, friends are finally starting to pop out kiddos left and right. Sadly for them, it'll take awhile to catch up to us! Whoot whoot


4. Did anyone close to you die? fortunately, no


5. What countries did you visit? Ethiopia! Technically I was "in" Germany and Sudan too, but since I didn't leave the airport in the former or the airplane in the latter, not sure that counts?


6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? Five tax deductions-I-mean-kids? Here's hoping for Jan 29...


7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? I like this one...

Feb 14 - finally passed court on our 6th try and got our valentines gift!
March 11 - met Abi and Hana for the first time!!!
March 23 (Easter) - arrived home with our kiddos
June 1 (ish) - knew, for sure, in our hearts, that *S* was also meant to be our daughter
Nov 4 - obvious reasons

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I'm still standing (well, I'm currently sitting, but you know what I mean)


9. What was your biggest failure? I don't think I like this question. It doesn't jive with my [fairly recent] attempt to concentrate on the positive. So I shall ignore it.


10. Did you suffer illness or injury? If you count the spectactularly horrible stomach bug that I had 2 weeks ago?


11. What was the best thing you bought? 2008 was a year of [relative] frugality, but I think our best purchase may have been our biggest - the Beast! Otherwise, I would have to say our plane tickets to Ethiopia, hands down. What an amazing experience.


12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Whoever got gas back under $1.50/gallon? My gas-guzzler and budget thank you. And I think this is a prime opportunity to give a shout-out to the Stanley-cup-winning Detroit RedWings!


13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

(a) Got to put Congress, Bush, Paulson, Bernanke, etc here for this one. You can't take $700 billion tax payer dollars and NOT show up on my 2008 list can you? Oh, wait, I think the PC name is the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. That sound much better, right?!


(b) But for a bit of balance, I'd like to follow it up with the many financial institutions that gambled on bad investments and are now holding their hands out. I could throw a whole lot more in here unfortunately, but I don't want to tick too many people off in one sitting... :)


(c) And one CANNOT forget the impressiveness of the Detroit Lions this year. 0-16 record should just not be ignored.

14. Where did most of your money go? See #13(a) above. j/k.

Ethiopia?


Nah, not really, but I like to say that when people ask about my 401k. Although, I guess the jokes on them - I have 2 more wonderful children, an amazing investment. How is your portfolio looking?


15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Traveling to Ethiopia (and crossing an ocean for the first time!)

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? This was a hard one for me. The only thing I can come up with is Beautiful One by Jeremy Camp. I used it in our ET slideshow and it just will always remind me of Ethiopia now I think... and Ethiopia will definately remind me of 2008!


17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?

2008 was a very blessed year on many, many levels. I have even higher hopes for 2009!


18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Spend real and true, honest-to-goodness quality time with my family, especially my kids. They are growing up SO fast.


19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Work.


20. How did you spend Christmas? Perfectly - with just our family. Playing with new toys, napping, movie-watching, just enjoying being together.


21. Did you fall in love in 2008? Every day, more and more deeply.


22. What was your favorite TV program? Well, in 2008 I fell in LOVE with the Wire. Sadly, it is no longer on and I had to get my fix via Netflix!


23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I am not sure I have ever truly hated anyone. I hope I never do.


24. What was the best book you read? I had a few this year that I really liked. Hold onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers (wonderful parenting book - and I'm not usually a huge fan of that genre; highly recommend it); I also just finished The Only Road North which was very good (and the author is local, which was very interesting to me). Since my memory does not stretch back past 2 months for such things, that's about as good as it gets. Oh yeah, My Sister's Keeper was also fab.


25. What was your greatest musical discovery? hahaha. Not my category. Mark probably has some good ones. I *discover* them when he puts new stuff on my IPOD. :)


26. What did you want and get? A bigger family!


27. What did you want and not get? An even bigger family :( (hopefully soon *S*!)


28. What was your favorite film of this year? Slumdog Millionaire - go see it, please.


29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? We didn't do too much, just a little Christmas shopping and hanging out with the family. It was great. Oh, and I turned 27.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Interesting question... I'm not sure I can answer that! I really don't think I can pinpoint something like that. I don't want to think there is just this one thing, one event, one activity, one whatever that would make things more satisfying. Obviously we would've been thrilled to have *S*'s adoption finalized in 2008 (just like we really wanted Abi and Hana's finalized in 2007) but I have learned [am learning] to trust in God's timing, even when it is very, very hard.


31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Non-existent?


32. What kept you sane? Mark. Hands down.


33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I've never thought about "fancying" anyone. Sounds so British and fun! hmmm... An obvious answer would be Obama (whether you agree with his politics or not, he is a very interesting public figure). I'd like to venture out a bit more, but not feeling terribly inspired at this point. The only other one I can think of is Don Cheadle. I just love that guy, not to mention the amazing work he has done raising awareness of the dire situation in Darfur.


34. What political issue stirred you the most? There are quite a few, most of which I don't want to get into (I promised Mark to stay away from politics!)


35. Who did you miss? Early 2008 - Abi and Hana; 2 weeks in March - Ally; ever since - *S*

On a daily basis, I also really miss my close friends. We are scattered all over the state (and the country) and sometimes I just really want to play hooky and grab a coffee and "fill up my tank" so to speak. I miss having the opportunity to do that...

36. Who was the best new person you met? Three way tie: Abi-Hana-*S* :)


37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. It's a lesson that I apparently need to learn over and over, but it would be that things happen when they are supposed to happen. I know there is something *bigger* and I need to trust in that.

What DOES he do all day?


There must be people that wonder what SAHMs (or SAHDs!) actually do all day. I'll admit, I'm guilty of wondering why x, y, or z didn't actually get accomplished in a given day. I mean really, I was gone like 10 or 12 hours right? That should've been ample time to do almost anything. Then I usually snap out of it and apologize (and, for good measure, will apologize again when I go home today!). ;)

Seriously though, I think the vast majority of people fail to really appreciate what parents do (whether they stay at home or not) and how, well, exhausting it can be. I found the above article on Angel's blog and thought it summed things up nicely. :)

Yep, their daddy is amazing. How many men do YOU know that could put up with all that and enjoy it!??!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Our First Christmas Together

The flurry of gifts has already passed in our house.  Even with our best attempts to drag it out a bit, it went too fast, as always.  But we have a house full of pleased, thankful kids, so I can't complain.  :)  We did some of our old traditions, added  a couple new ones.  All in all, a wonderful holiday.  Wishing you and yours a very, merry Christmas.


A new and old tradition in one!  New jammies for Christmas Eve night (Dad did a fabulous job on the PJs!) and fleece blankets, made with love for each kiddo.  
This might be a new favorite of mine - it was hit!  :)

Christmas morning - presents!





Ally was kind enough to share her biggest gift - the Plasma Car.  
Everyone got a ride, even mom and dad!

The reason for the season!  

Missing you today *S*.  In our thoughts and prayers - always.  In our arms... hopefully soon!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

No early Christmas Present ...

Boo :(

No good court news ... again. We've been rescheduled for Jan 29th. We have SUCH bad luck with this part!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

SNOW DAY!


So, it's been snowing quite a bit since Thanksgiving round here.  I think it has snowed nearly every day in December!  But we sure got it good on Thursday night!  There was NO school on Friday (whoo hoo - one extra day of Christmas vacation - no one seemed to mind).  Sadly, I don't get snow days.  But our office did close early, which meant I was [somewhat] free to scoot and work from home.

The kids have been enjoying the snow.  Well, mostly Abi and Hana!  Grace likes it well enough, but the allure is already wearing off (she's in for a LOOOOONG winter!).  Poor Ally feels very similarly about snow as she does about sand!  She enjoys watching the kids play through the window well enough, but if you suggest she go out, you'll get a "no!" and a dirty look.  She's good at those.

The snow is so pretty, I just hate driving in it.  So here's hoping it doesn't complicate the holidays too much!

Oh, and should you all be thinking that we are big babies about the snow based on the photo above -we're really not. That was taken a couple of weeks ago - we've got a solid foot on the ground now!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Count Down ...


Only 1 week until Christmas!  Whoo hoo!  


P.S. This is the closest you will get to a Christmas card this year.  Sorry!  :)  
I think I may play it off as a "GREEN" choice - less wasted paper and whatnot...

Ode to Claire



There has been so much going on here the past few weeks. Lack of time and energy = no blogging. But wanted to back up just a bit.

Two weeks ago we did a very hard thing. We let our beloved polar bear, Claire, migrate to a happier home. This was so, so very hard, but in the end we decided it was for the best. Claire was a very loved member of our family for two and a half years. When she joined our family, we had only one kid! And with #5 on the way, things were just getting too stressful - for her and for us. THANKFULLY, my wonderful dog-loving (spoiling?) friend Amanda jumped at the chance to get an amazing dog. So now Claire has someone at her beck-and-call to spoil her rotten in her remaining years!

Although we all miss her, I have peace knowing this was the right thing.

But sure is hard to let such a damn good dog go. 


We love you Claire!












Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Happy News

We got the following email from our agency, forwarded from the contact in Ethiopia:

Yesterday the court was closed, due to some type of partial holiday. I know that doesn't make sense, but Monday was the holiday and yet on Tuesday there were still crowds on the streets and some government offices and schools were closed. the court is now a bit behind!

They were moved to Dec. 22, as was the court date for todays' family. I will confirm this with xxxxx, but that it what xxxxxxx passed along to me.



Awesome.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sounds about right

From mochaclub.org:

Start a new conversation. Raise awareness of the joy and hope that exist in Africa, and begin to reform the inaccurate perception that Africa is a continent only of despair.

Many in the west think Africa is simply an object of charity. This mindset does not breed true compassion. And there's something about truth… when it becomes clear, it hits you in a way that is hard to ignore. The same is true with people. If we invest in knowing someone, love is the automatic response. We can't all make a trip across the ocean, but we can seek to have a conversation that recasts the damaging images that force pity over partnership. WHY DO YOU NEED AFRICA MORE THAN AFRICA NEEDS YOU?

Can't hold it any longer...

We won't get news today. Again. =(

Our contact in ET emailed our agency earlier today - but she hadn't heard from the lawyers yet. And nothing since. Maybe later tonight/tomorrow morning.

Frustrating. It's getting hard again...

Holding my breath...

As I type, it is 10:23 a.m. (EST). That makes it 6:23 p.m. in Addis. And 7:23 a.m. (PST) in Washington.

Court must be finished. Is she legally ours? I don't know. Our adoption agency is still sleeping over on the Pacific coast! I know better than to expect news before noon. Sometimes it takes much longer. We were very fortunate on Friday - 12:01 p.m. we got a call with the news we'd been delayed again - but a only a short delay (whew). How long will we wait today? How long for these somersaults in my stomach to settle down?

It's been a crazy week or so. Last week I was SO busy at work I hardly had time to think about *S* (how horrible is that?) :( It helped me not to dwell on the wait though, so I suppose I should be thankful. Today, my to-do list isn't as daunting (although there are some items I just cannot ignore any longer!). So I need to get to work, but having such a hard time doing so!

Will she be in my arms in 5 weeks? Is it safe to *really* get her place in the room ready - clothes in drawers, bedding, all the little details. Last time, we had some much of the "little stuff" done for so long that it just made me sad - it was a glaring reminder each day that we had a gaping hole in our family and we just kept waiting to fill it (actually 2 holes - one Abi-sized, one Hana-sized). This time, I think I protected myself more - we've put off certain things. I don't want to walk into Grace and Hana's room each morning and see an undisturbed bed where *S*'s indent should be. I didn't want to look at a dresser that didn't need to be opened.

So, although she's never far from our thoughts, I haven't let her "move in" just yet.

Now, there is a glaring downside to this - when we do pass court (hopefully today!) we'll have plenty to do! :) But then I've got adrenaline on my side right?

Sorry... just babbling this morning. Getting anxious!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Video should work now!

I think the privacy setting was off - so if you are still interested, check out Abi';s hair grooming 2 posts below!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Another Glitch

Court date did not happen today. We've been rescheduled for next Tuedsay (and are VERY lucky for such a quick reschedule). Our agency is pretty confident that we'll have good news then and still might travel the first week of January.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

6 Minutes of Abi Brushing His Hair ... seriously

Okay, so maybe this is one of those things that is only funny to the parents (if so, just skip and don't comment!) but I really did think it was pretty freakin' hilarious, especially if you know my kids.  Now that Abi's hair has grown out, he's been facinated with personal grooming.  He really likes it "big fluffy".  


So, enjoy 6 minutes of Abi brushing his hair (partly serenaded by Ally).  If you can't take all of it, the last third is the best.  :)  Notice how in to it he gets... so cute!  (but makes me worry about those teenage years...)



Hurry up and WAIT!

That's the story of adoption. GOOD NEWS THOUGH. We heard today that there was a miscommunication - it turns out our court case was moved to be heard tomorrow (Friday). Sooooooo... no bad news, just no news again! :)

We also heard that our agency rep is optomistic that all cases in our group will pass. So I am starting to get reeeeally hopeful!

Fingers crossed and prayers for another day please!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Man, we have crummy luck

As you may (or may not)know, our court date was today...

I shouldn't be TOO pessimistic. Afterall, we haven't heard a firm "no go". But we finally heard from our adoption agency (please note that it is almost midnight in ET right now...) and there was no news of court today. None.

So, we don't know if it happened at all, if we passed or failed, if everyone showed up, etc. No idea.

AND the really fun part is that our visa problems continue! The visa center in Addis now had our 171h approval BUT they are saying we were only approved for one child up to age 7. PERFECT. Even though our homestudy says something crazy like 14 yrs.

Sigh.

I'd been doing so well to not get all negative this time. But I think the funk has snuck up on me...

*Hoping for good news tomorrow...*

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Plug for AHOPE Supplies!


I haven't written about AHOPE in quite awhile. AHOPE for Children is an organization that supports AHOPE Ethiopia, which provides a nurturing home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for orphaned HIV positive children, provides care for HIV positive children in the community through an outreach program, and educates the community about AIDS prevention.


Since I am too lazy to tag my old posts on the subject, just check out AHOPE's great new website for more information! :)




I have been volunteering as the AHOPE Supplies Coordinator since just after we got back from Ethiopia this past Spring. It's been a great experience to help out a wonderful organization. In a nutshell, lots of supplies that are valuable and helpful to AHOPE are not readily available (or affordable) in Ethiopia (and shipping and customs are a nightmare!), so AHOPE relies on traveling parents (or traveling anyone for that matter) to bring many vital supplies.




You may remember that for our last adoption, we collected "Crocs and Socks" which was super-fun. It was great to outfit ALL those wonderful kids with new, colorful shoes - all at once! This time, we didn't *pick* a main item to collect, but we do plan on carrying as many supplies as possible when we travel. Below I have pasted the most recent *needs* request from AHOPE. If you are at all interested in donating a few items and having us carry them over, that would be wonderful! If you have other questions about AHOPE or supplies, email me at
ahopesupplies@gmail.com. No pressure or anything, but never hurts to ask, especially during this giving season! :) And expect a few more AHOPE-plugs in the coming week if I have the time to get to it!


Supplies Needed November 2008



Medical


Ace Bandage


Nystatin suspension(oral preparation)


Nystatin and Triamcinolone Acetonid cream


HEXIT-Lotion (Lindane lotion 1% usp) for scabies and poison


Perimethrin cream 50% (for scabies)


Pediatric Nasogastric tube No. 6 & 8


Pepcid (Famotidine) antacid tablet 20mg


Cefalexin 500mg and 250mg capsule (antibiotic)


Spatula (Tongue depressor for throat examination)


Enfamil (Multi vitamin supplement Drops)- Essential vitamin for infants and toddlers


Enfamil- Milk gas-free infant formula powder for Babies 0-2



Hair/Skin Care/Hygiene


Anti dandruff shampoo and ointment


Ketokonazole Shampoo


Hair accessories


Soaps


Hair oil (8-15 year old girls)


Strong Body Lotion(8-15 year old children) (e.g. Eucerin)



Clothing


Socks (8-15 yrs)


Clothes (8-15 yrs)


Swimming Suit (different size)


Sports wear(for 8-15 year old children)


Shoes (all sizes for infant – 15)


Watches(for 8-15 year old children)




School-Type Supplies


Pens


Children’s Diary


School bags(for older children)


Rechargeable battery


Flash disk


Mathematical Set


Note Books


Index Cards (3x5 blank for flash cards – several sets for English/Math)


Plastic Containers, varies sizes (e.g. storage of flashcards, art supplies, etc)



Others


Diaper (for 9 month -2yrs)


Baby Wipes


Rubber sheet(disposable)


Toys, games (8-14 year old children)


Towels



Things we have in excess


Anti Pyretics(anti-pains) (e.g. Tylenol, Motrin)


Multivitamins


Antibiotic ointment


Tooth brush


Band Aids


Alcohol Swabs


Baby Feeding bottle


Thermometer


Hydrocortisone ointment


Gas relief


FALCON Ophthalmic Solution


Clothes for children of 1-4 years


Diaper rash ointment


Monday, December 1, 2008

Today is World AIDS Day




Okay, I'm way behind on my posting (and my attempt at "thankful" posts was just shameful, but such is life), but I wanted to not let this day pass by without some acknowledgement.



December 1 is World AIDS Day.
The World Heath Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988, making this the 10th anniversary of World AIDS Day.


In 2007 . . .Globally, there were an estimated 33 million people living with HIV. Overall, 2.0 million people died due to AIDS, compared with an estimated 1.7 million in 2001.



33 Million - that's a lot of people. Here in the U.S., most of us are very fortunate. Most of us haven't had to deal with the disease head-on. Most of us can pretend that it doesn't really exist, except in remote corners of the world that no one cares much about. But you know what? That attitude doesn't cut it. Because as much as HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic, it is also here, in the U.S. too. 1.1 million. 21% of which don't even know their infected. Many are afraid to find out - not because it is a death sentence (it isn't when the right medication is readily available) , but because of the stigma still attached to the disease.



The truth is, if everyone opened their eyes and their hearts, and were willing to accept basic education about HIV/AIDS, we could make great strides against this disease. I shared
this post written by Erin several months ago, which lays out very basic facts about how HIV can and can't be transmitted. Here are the basics:

- HIV can NOT be spread through causal/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other causal way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).

- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.



33 million people. That is impossible to fathom. That is a problem so big, how could anyone solve it? By coming together. Everyone stops closing their eyes. And everyone takes just one step, one little step. Whether it is by education (yourself, others), awareness, or just basic compassion - we can all make a difference. That's what today is about.

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
Helen Keller