Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's Settled

Ally is a potty-training genius.  :)

Anyone need some diapers?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ignorance (and stupidity) are alive and well...

hmmmmm....

Now it's Sen. Dave Schultheis of Colorado Springs who opposes testing pregnant women for HIV so their babies can be treated to prevent the transfer of the virus:

"This stems from sexual promiscuity for the most part and I just can't go there," said Schultheis said. "We do things continually to remove the consequences of poor behavior, unacceptable behavior, quite frankly."

"What I'm hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that," he said. "The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior."

WHAT?

So the plan is that we won't test for HIV because then we'll reduce the likelihood that an infant born with HIV is properly treated in the hopes that it's life will serve as a negative example and eventually stop others from being promiscuous? Because testing for HIV is tantamount to condoning promiscuous behavior?

Now there's logic for you. (For the record, I'm not approaching this from a political standpoint - more of a stupid standpoint really...)

If interested, read more
here and here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It was quiet... too quiet

So you are thinking, wow, my two year old is really watching that movie quietly with her siblings.  How refreshing!


Then you think, hmmmm... maybe I better take a peek.  Better safe than sorry right?

And then you see THIS.  Said two year old who just happened to, in a 2 minute span, locate her sister's play makeup that was apparently within arms reach, and applied it generously.

And the two year old's response?  "I pretty daddy!"

Heartwarming

I came across this article through one of my online adoption groups. What a wonderful story.

The Truth About Slums..?

I am a big fan of the movie Slumdog Millionaire. I thought it was very well done. It seemed to be a relatively honest portrayal of the slums of India (although I certainly admit that I wouldn't know). It did have somewhat of an unlikely fairytale ending, but c'mon - it is a movie after all. I would totally recommend it.

However, I ran across this article today and I thought it was worth passing along: Man Bites ‘Slumdog’: Don't let the movie mislead you: there are no fairy-tale endings for most of India's street kids. I was one of them myself.

"On the way to see "Slumdog Millionaire" in Kolkata, I had my cabdriver pass through the slum district of Tangra. I lived there more than 35 years ago, when I was in my late teens, but the place has barely changed. The cab threaded a maze of narrow lanes between shacks built from black plastic and corrugated metal. Scrawny men sat outside, chewing tobacco and spitting into the dirt. Naked children defecated in the open, and women lined up at the public taps to fetch water in battered plastic jerry cans. Everything smelled of garbage and human waste. I noticed only one difference from the 1960s: a few huts had color TVs.

I still ask myself how I finally broke out. Jamal, the slumdog in Danny Boyle's award-winning movie, did it the traditional cinematic way, via true love, guts and good luck. People keep praising the film's "realistic" depiction of slum life in India. But it's no such thing. Slum life is a cage. It robs you of confidence in the face of the rich and the advantaged. It steals your pride, deadens your ambition, limits your imagination and psychologically cripples you whenever you step outside the comfort zone of your own neighborhood. Most people in the slums never achieve a fairy-tale ending."

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Since I'm sure you all want to know...

more about us (and since I just can't seem to focus on something more productive!) here is the couples meme that is all the rage...

What are your middle names? Anne and Andrew

How long have you been together? 8 1/2 years, married for 6/12

How long did you know each other before you started dating? About a year? We had a mutual friend and hung out as friends on and off for several months.

Who asked whom out? No idea, when you are 18/20 these things can sometimes just evolve. =)

How old are each of you? I am 27, Mark is 29

Whose siblings do you see the most? Toss up - it tends to vary. We are lucky to see all our siblings fairly regularly, but not as often as we'd like.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple? Setting aside specific situations of late, the hardest things are the most basic - having enough time as a couple, with the kids, for ourselves as individuals and with our families. I guess there just aren't enough hours in a day! Generally though, things aren't hard on "us" as a couple - we are on the same page about just about everything in our lives and (although we have our snits) we don't have too many battles.

Did you go to the same school? Different high schools, same undergrad

Are you from the same home town? nope!

Who is smarter? This is the dumbest question ever. I guess I'll just say (truthfully) that we are both smart, but in different ways.

Who is the most sensitive? hmmm... I would say that it depends! I think in a lot of ways, Mark is the more sensitive person overall (in terms of being sensitive to what other people might be thinking or feeling, and handling stressful situations better), but between the two of us, I'm the one more likely to be "sensitive" to a comment or situation or whatever... I cry more.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Dave Ramsey says that you don't see the inside of a restaurant unless you are working there. ;) Seriously though, we very rarely eat out.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple? Ethiopia

Who has the craziest exes? Neither really. We don't have all that many between us!

Who has the worst temper? Umm.. me.

Who does the cooking? Mark! How lucky am I! I come home to a great dinner just about every night. He is a much better cook then me, especially with Mexican food (yum).

Who is the neat-freak? Sadly, neither of us. I am more likely to be the one to get out-of-proportion fed up with it on a whim though. ;)

Who is more stubborn? Have we met?

Who hogs the bed?
Probably me. (gee, I don't seem that fun to live with. This list is depressing...)

Who wakes up earlier? Usually me by necessity

Where was your first date?
I think we went to the movies. Can't even remember which one. Sad huh?

Who is more jealous? Again, probably me, but not terribly so. We aren't very jealous people.

How long did it take to get serious?
 It pretty much was right away, even though that wasn't in my plans at the time!

Who does the laundry? Again, Mark! This is more of a function of him being home. When we were both working, on average I would say I did it quite a bit more.

Who’s better with the computer?
 Mark, hands down. I can handle the basics.

Who drives when you are together? Mark. I'm not that big of a fan of driving. I don't mind it much when I'm alone, but otherwise, I would much prefer that he drive.

Monday, February 23, 2009

So close!

Well, the government can still be annoying, but they just might be coming through for us in a timely fashion after all. :) Abi got his Social Security number in the mail today! Of course, this happens after I FINALLY get too nervous to wait and applied for the kids' ATIN# on Friday (well, sent the package out Friday). Hopefully Hana's will soon follow and we can move on to the next steps - making them citizens (yea for paying the U.S. gov't even more fees!)!

Oh, and that tax refund would be rather nice too...

;)

Success continues!

Ally really is getting a handle on this potty training thing. Friday was accident-free (including nap and a 2 hour car ride!). Saturday and Sunday were not quite as impressive, but still on track. She may really have this for real. Whoooo.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My needs...

I "discovered" the 'I Need' meme over at Charlotte's blog this morning. You do a Google search with your first name followed by 'needs' . I started by using "Cat" but that brought up too many feline related responses. :) So I revised to Cathy and Catherine instead (Cathy didn't have enough good ones on its own -weird).

Can you tell I'm having trouble focusing today?

1) I need ... your help. (Should I be offended? Eh, it's probably true, in more ways than one!)

2) I need ... to go shopping. (again, probably true, but I'd rather not)

3) I need ... a big feather to fan me. (I suppose that would be nice.)

4) I need ... a wheelchair. (I can be terribly lazy, but this is a bit low, even for me...)

5) I need ... no explanations. (hmmm... I often don't get them?)

6) I need ... a
tin foil hat. (who doesn't?)

7) I need ... a man. (hahaha - I think I'm all set here, thanks.)

8) I need ... yoga. (Gentle push to get back on the Wii Fit I suppose...)

9) I need ... a makeover. (really building up my self-esteem today!)

10) I need ... to fire my stylist. (okay, okay I get it! I'll go shopping! Get off my back!)

My Baby is Growing UP

We've been dancing around the issue for awhile - potty training. Ally actually went on the potty herself for the first time on Father's Day last year (which I thought was fairly impressive since she was only 20 months old or so). And she would go now and again, but never had much interest. And frankly, we just kept putting it off. Yes, diapers are rotten, but if you have never lived through the first few months AFTER potty training, you don't have any idea how big of a pain THAT is (needing to know the exact location of every bathroom in every place you go and being able to drop everything in a store to RUN there at a moment's notice...not fun!)

Anyhoo, we decided it was time. Ally has really been ready for awhile, so Mark jumped in with both feet yesterday (he's my hero). She's doing great! Sure, some accidents, but she is doing really well. She has told us a few times when she has to go and she'll [almost] always go if you ask her to... anyways, still a long way to go (and we'll be out of town this weekend so that should be interesting too!) but she's on the right track.

And yes, I realize that no one really cares about her potty habits. :) But just hard to believe my baby isn't much of a baby any more...

Love ya Al.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vintage Fam

I thought these turned out so cute! To "make" your own vintage photos, check out this site (look in the upper right corner to select "English")










Sunday, February 15, 2009

Support AHOPE - Special Edition T-shirts!


AHOPE for Children (www.ahopeforchildren.org)
 is a cause near and dear to my heart. Please see the below post from the AHOPE Store Manager, Marissa, regarding new special edition t-shirts to raise awareness for the wonderful children of AHOPE that need our support. At only $10.00, these shirts are a great deal.  

**********

There’s a movement growing. Everyday in the Western world someone’s eyes are opened to the orphan crisis that’s ravaging the developing countries. The problem seems so large and we seem so insignificant. We can make a difference though. By raising awareness we foster a community and as a community we can provide. We’re asking you to help us in creating that community.

World AIDS Orphan Day is May 7th. The AHOPE Store has developed a t-shirt to commemorate this day and the community of supporters that are growing year after year. Please join us in raising awareness. It’s simple. Order our newest t-shirt from the AHOPE Store for a $10 donation. (All proceeds go towards care of the children served by AHOPE.) Wear your shirt as often as possible, and especially on World AIDS Orphan Day. It will serve as a reminder to your community. It may even create a dialogue. That dialogue could open someone’s eyes. You might inspire them to do more, give more. We are asking you to join us in creating a community that is committed to orphan care.

After seeing what one little t-shirt can you might be inspired yourself. If that’s the case be sure to check out the World AIDS Orphan Day website. Here you can find further information on this grassroots campaign and how to organize an event in your area. The campaign was founded by FXB International in 2002 and continues to grow year after year.




Monday, February 9, 2009

You Can Focus on Your Purposes, Or You Can Focus On Your Problems

I received the below interview excerpt in an email forward this morning (however, I just googled it and found it on about a million blogs in the last 9 months, so it isn't exactly new, just new-to-me). Since I just started reading A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, I thought it was pretty timely for me (among other reasons...). I bolded the parts that I particularly like.

In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.
One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.


We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.


Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.
The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.


This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.


Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.


You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems
. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness,'which is my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.


We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people. You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.


Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do,
II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.


We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)? When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better.


God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list
. He's more interested in what I am than what I do.That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Government Can be Annoying

I worked on our taxes last night. I have to say, adoptions do make tax time a bit easier to swallow! That being said, tax forms never cease to annoy me. I believe we have the information that we need to claim our adoption tax credit (but still checking on this...), but apparently I can't use that same ID# to claim Abi and Hana as dependents - I will need their social security numbers for that.

After being told by many people that we should wait to apply for their SS#s until we had their birth names/dates legally changed (to avoid re-changing them after the fact), it now appears that it would've been easier to get the #s before any change, because now their names and birthdates don't match the adoption paperwork! And the government just can't handle non-matching documents - that would be too much thinking right? ARG! So we might get their SS#s in the mail next week OR it could be 4 months. Lovely.

So. Taxes are done, but can't file them. Good times, good times.

Anyone happen to know if you can use the A# (from their resident card) for purposes of the adoption tax credit? Any chance that will fly for purposes of child tax credit? I'm thinking not... but I'll probably do some reading on the IRS site to see if I can find an easier way. And hopefully their SS cards just show up in the mail anyways....

Monday, February 2, 2009

I really don't know what to say...

After news of our latest delay, I was really hanging on for good news today. After all, we are just missing the MOWA letter - that should be cleared up in a week or two right?

March 26.

That's our new court date. According to our agency, all we are missing is the MOWA letter. But we need to wait two. more. months. for court approval before we can bring her home. We might not be traveling until May. May. That would be over five months from our first court date. Ten months from referral acceptance and nine months from completed dossier in Ethiopia. Fourteen months from when we met.

No matter how you slice it, a very long time.

2009 might really be the worst year ever.