Sunday, September 26, 2010

What makes you cheer?

Ever since this spring, I have felt my interest in professional and college sports wane.  I think my trip to Haiti had a lot to do with it.  After visiting with people who were living off of $2 a day, and seeing how content they were with their worldly possessions, I began to think more about what is important in life.  If you are a Christian, the gospel of Christ should be the most important thing in your life.  SO many days it doesn't feel like that is what is driving me - but I want to feel that way.

We live in the best baseball city on the planet.  I love going to the games, even if I'm not a Cardinals fan.  Well, I used to love going to the games. . .now I find myself trying to find a cheaper date night alternative for me and James.  I used to watch entire games on TV, but I haven't watched a whole game all season long.  I used to get disappointed in the fall if we couldn't go to a Razorbacks game. . .now I'd rather not spend the money.

I still keep up with the teams that I'm interested in, but I don't follow them closely.  I know you can use sporting events as a time to fellowship and there are ways to minister through them.  That was never our practice though.  While I do like to see the Saints win, you will never, ever hear me saying "I bleed black and gold."  I will never, ever wear a T-shirt that says "The Razorbacks (or any other sports team) are Everything."  What would happen if Christians got as passionate about Christ as they did SEC football?  What would happen if Christians could recite Scripture from memory just as easily as they recite sports statistics?  What would happen if Christians spent as much money supporting missionaries as they do on football? 

This post at Babe of my Heart sums up what I'm talking about:  What Life is REALLY All About

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crib is Up!

 James was able to put Samantha's crib together today.  I helped him a little, but he did most of the work.  He did a good job.  And with no instructions at that!  Since we bought the crib off of Craigslist, instead of buying it new, it did not come with a manual.  The doggies were very curious about what James was doing.  He explained to them that the crib is where Samantha is going to sleep.

We are planning on leaving the walls blue even though we are going to be bringing home a girl.  I've never been much of a girly girl, and I'm just not into pink and frills.  We had the room painted right after we bought our house, and I picked this color out with a nursery in mind.  We have a framed Dr. Seuss print that we bought at an art gallery in Sedona, Arizona in 2007.  I matched the paint to the blue that is in the print.  The room will have some feminine touches, just no pink.

The crib fits perfectly in this little nook in the room!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adoption Fundraising Spotlight

Do you have a heart for orphans?  Maybe you do, but you don't feel the pull on your heart to adopt.  Maybe you just aren't at a place in your life where you can parent a child.  Maybe your parenting days are behind you.  Yet you still feel like there is something you could do to help a child join his or her forever family.  Here's an opportunity for you.  This family at Our Gifts from God is selling T-shirts to raise money for their adoption.  I have ordered two shirts for us.  I just love them.  They say "Live simply so others can simply live."  We have so much here in the States.  I am guilty of spending money each month on things that are not necessary, and I have tried to think more about what I buy.  Do I really need it?  Is this an impulsive purchase.  .  .am I still going to want this item next week?  Is there an eternal benefit to spending my money on such a thing?  Live simply and give others a chance at life.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 (NIV)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Homestudy Update

We turned in our acceptance papers for Samantha on Friday last week, and we thought we were pretty much finished with all the paperwork.  Well, that was not the case.  On Monday we got an email from our social worker stating that our homestudy needs to be updated.  She included a list of documents that she needed from us.  I felt overwhelmed.  We were not at home to get started on this, and I had about a dozen questions come to mind.  It was not a good time for us to try to call our social worker either, so those questions would linger until the next day.

Would our paperwork get submitted to the Ethiopian courts before we got this paperwork done?  We had to do all of this stuff last year, but many of the things that you have to submit for your homestudy expire after one year. (So be mentally prepared for that if you are adopting.)  It did not go quickly and smoothly the first time around either.  There were several things that we had to wait over a month for last year.  Was it going to take as long this time??  One thing that we have to re-do is a statement of proof of insurance for an adopted child.  Someone at the HR department where James works has to fill this out, and it took over a month last year.  I told James that I thought he should go find the responsible party (he works in the same building) and sit in a chair right beside her desk until she gets in done!  I think she'd tired of that situation fast.

 We did find out on Tuesday that our paper will be submitted to court before we get this done, which was a big relief.   We've made quite a bit of progress this week.  I picked up a copy of our dogs' vaccination records yesterday - yes, the agency needed that.  We got re-fingerprinted yesterday for our new background checks.  It didn't occur to me to take photos the first time we got fingerprinted, so I asked James to take a few pictures this time.  I got three of the vaccinations that I needed to travel to Ethiopia today at my doctor's office.  I've got an appointment at the health department in a couple of weeks to get the other two that I need.  James was able to complete the financial worksheets today. Our social worker is coming over to our house on Friday to do another walk through.  The house was pristine the first time she came over.  It is not going to be so tidy on Friday.  We are still in the process of moving the office downstairs and setting the nursery up.  We will be spending much of today cleaning though.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

This recipe was published in Southern Living 3 or 4 years ago, and it has become my "go to" recipe when I'm cooking for a friend that has a new baby.  It makes a LOT of food.  I take two 8 x 8 casseroles to the family I'm cooking for and there is still enough for me and James to have for dinner two nights.

6 lbs. chicken (I used a large package of breast and a large package of thighs & legs)
2 stalks of celery
1 onion quartered
2 (6 oz) packages long grain and wild rice mix (Like Uncle Ben's brand)
1/2 c and 1/4 butter, divided
16 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1 bunch of green onions, chopped (about 1 cup)
8 oz sour cream
1 (10 & 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 sleeve round buttery crackers, crushed (like Ritz)
6 oz French fried onions, crushed
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Boil chicken with celery and the quartered onion.  Add some salt and pepper to the water as well.  If the chicken has bone, remove them after the chicken has cooked.  Reserve your chicken broth and chop or shred cooked chicken. 

Cook rice according to package directions substituting 4 1/4 cups chicken broth for water and omitting the butter.  (Add water to broth to equal 4 1/2 cups, if necessary.)

Heat 1/2 cup butter in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and green onions.  Saute 10 minutes or until tender.  Stir in rice, chicken, sour cream, and cream of mushroom soup.  Spoon mixture into a 4 quart casserole dish.

stir together crushed crackers, fried onions,  paprika, garlic powder, and 1/4 cup melted butter.  Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the casserole.  (If you want to freeze this to use later, STOP here.  Cover the casserole securely with foil and freeze it.)

Bake, covered at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.  Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes more or until bubbly.

Friday, September 10, 2010

We said yes!

We had two weeks after receiving our referral for Samantha last week to turn in our acceptance papers.  James hand delivered them to our social worker's office this afternoon.  We took pictures while we signed the papers.  These will go in Samantha' scrapbook.  (I have blurred out info in the photos that I couldn't post online.)

The only reason we did not turn these in sooner was that we had asked an international pediatrician to review Samantha's medical records.  We learned about this physician through our agency.  She spoke at a training seminar that we were required to attend.  She called us back last night. We had thought about most of the things that she mentioned to us, and she alleviated some of our concerns.  We are praying that Samantha will grow and become stronger while we are waiting to bring her home.

If you are adopting internationally and are looking for a pediatrician who specializes in treating international adoptees, you can find a list of doctors here.  The doctor that we are working with will work with families that do not live in the area.  We emailed her Samantha's medical records and she called us, so all that can be done without traveling to her office. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Books for Adoptees

When I got home on Friday afternoon there was a package from UPS on our front porch.  It was three books that I had ordered for Samantha.  How fun it was that they came in the day we got to see her pictures for the first time!  One book was a children's bible but the other two were written with adopted children in mind.

A Mother for Choco if about a little bird who can't find a mother who looks like him, but he find a mother that doesn't look anything like him and they become a family.  It is a sweet book, and I hope it will help Samantha as she tries to come to terms with the fact that James and I do not look like her.

I guess this second book, Lifebooks is really more for me than it is for her.  The author is a woman who was adopted at a young age and who works in social work.  She has also adopted a child through the foster care system.  Adoption is such a different process than giving birth.  Instead of ultrasounds and doctor's visits and pictures of mommy with a baby belly there are fingerprinting appointments and meetings with your social worker and lots of training.  I hard a hard time finding a baby book that was written for an adopted child that had room for everything that I wanted to include for Samantha.  So I bought a scrapbook when I caught them on sale at Michael's and I began saving and collecting information for it.  I got this book to help me as I began to write Samantha's story.  It has a lot of good suggestions for pages and topics and it has example pages written in simple language for young child.  I'm going to finally start working on Samantha's scrapbook tomorrow.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

We got a referral!

Yesterday was the day we had waited almost six months for!  I got "the call" from our social worker at 9:41 AM.  I had just arrived at the clinic for my physical therapy appointment.  I wasn't sure if it was our social worker, but I was hoping it was.  I had a dream that night that we had gotten the "the call."  It was certainly her with the news we had been waiting for.  I got a pen and a journal out of my purse.  The journal was the one that I usually take to church with me, and I had intentionally left it in my purse just for this reason. I tried to add James to the call.  He did not pick up.  We had agreed that if I got the call and he could not come to the phone that I was to go ahead and take the information from our social worker.  So I began to take down the information.  James did call back while I was on the phone, but I could not think straight enough to figure out how to merge his call in. I took down the rest of the information, and I managed to keep it together until I got off the phone.  I called James back.  As soon as I heard his voice the tears began to flow.  He wasn't sure if I was calling with good news or bad!  I composed myself enough to talk and gave him the information I had written down.  We made plans for me to meet him at his office after I got finished with therapy.  After I got there we would open the email from our social worker see her pictures for the first time together.

It was tempting to go ahead an open the email on my phone, but I waited.  My therapist is a brother in the Lord and I told him our good news.  He rejoiced with me.  I got finished with my appointment and went home to get our cameras.

We called my parents while I was on the way to James' office.  They were thrilled! We called James' mom, but she was not at home.  We got in touch with both of his parents later.  His mom was at a funeral home with a friend of hers who had lost her mother.  We were able to reach her there.

One of James' coworkers, shot a little video and took some pictures for us.

We are smitten.  She is six months old.  Their are so many details about her short life so far that confirm to us that God has hand picked her for our family.  We cannot post pictures online until she is home with us, so I have blurred them out for now.  We are not allowed to shared much information about her online either at this point.  After calling a few more of our family members, we went out for lunch at this Mexican Restaurant.  The weather yesterday was just perfect and we ate outside.  I called a sweet friend of ours who is also adopting from Ethiopia.  They received their referral last month.  She is a physician and I gave her some of Samantha's information so she could plot out growth charts for us.

After lunch, I came back home and made more phone calls and shared the news with some of our neighbors.  We made some copies of her pictures and I showed one of them to the doggies.  I hope they become good companions for Samantha.
I hung one picture on the fridge.  We don't have frames yet.

We are still on cloud nine.  We are amazed at the number of people that God has put in our lives who already love her and are awaiting her homecoming.