Tuesday, June 29, 2010

lifesong update

every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." -james 1:17

i don't have much time to post, as today is my crazy, busy, run from one place to the next, eat lunch in the car, pick up the boys from their visit, hang out with my nieces, and work kind of day. {as if everyday's not this way, huh?} but, i've been holding in some pretty fabulous news and it's time to tell the bloggy world!!

are you ready???

well...we applied the week we received our finalized home study for a couple of grants. the first one being from lifesong for orphans. you know, this amazingly great organization:

anyways, we spoke to someone there about our application about a week and a half ago, and she said that it would probably be another 3-4 weeks before they would make a decision on our application. so you can see why i was very surprised when i picked up my phone on friday and saw their familiar number. i basically just figured that we had forgotten some paper or they needed to follow up with us about something.

however, that was not the case! they were actually calling because their grant director had reviewed our application in record time. and the verdict was:


seriously, when i heard the news, i immediately started crying. {thank goodness i was actually on the phone with someone so i had to try to keep it together to speak or it would have been the ugly cry!} i was floored. just when i had started to let anxiety and fear begin to creep back in a little bit, God proved that this is once again His plan for our family. we have been praying all along for confirmation and for doors to continue to open if this is His will, and so far, He has been opening the doors left and right.

i'll explain more later about the both hands project as it's an opportunity that we're really excited about, but for the meantime, i just wanted to throw up a quick blurb about our grant! if you think about, will you join us today in praying for our little kiddo waiting in ethiopia. please pray for the doors to continue to open for us to bring him {or possibly her :)} home as quickly as possible?? thanks!!

what an awesome God we serve!

{ps- i've put a note on the top right sidebar regarding tax-deductible donations for our matching grant in case you're interested in giving.}

Monday, June 28, 2010

a SURPRISINGLY fun weekend

this past weekend was just what the doctor ordered!! it was filled with lots of good rest, laughter, quality time with ryan, and a chance to hang out with a few of my hilarious friends :) here's a little synopsis...

for starters, i got to get out of town for a couple of nights with my wonderful husband and no one else! we headed up to the cincinnati, ohio area because he was exhibiting at a trade show there for work. when he first told me about the weekend plans, i was under the impression that we'd be staying in downtown cincy. i had visions of shopping and exploring the city by day and us going to some swanky restaurants at night. however, the day before we left, those visions were pretty much dashed when i looked up our hotel and realized that we were actually staying in west chester, ohio, a small suburb of cincy. at first i was a little bratty and debating on whether or not i was still going to go. i was worried about being stranded all day while he was working and having no method of transportation or activities to keep me busy. however, boy am i glad i went!!!

the weekend getaway was perfect! we stayed in a very nice hotel {and didn't have to pay for it!} and i spent most of the weekend catching up on sleep, reading, and relaxing. i'm so thankful for my sweet mother-in-law who graciously kept R & P so we could get away!! friday night, the conference was hosting a social so we headed into downtown cincinnati for that and i got to see ryan in his element. he is truly a salesman at heart and loves interacting with people, so it was fun to watch him network and be the extrovert that God made him to be. also, for a few of you locals, you may know that west chester, ohio is home to our closest ikea store! i could literally walk out of our hotel and see ikea, so i did a little shopping while i was there too. i love all the great deals and would have definitely spent more money if we weren't saving for our sweet ethiopian joy! *speaking of which, whenever our little man {or little girl} gets a bit older, i'm hitting up ikea for all my toddler furniture and bedding neeeds!!* west chester is also home to one of ryan's favorite restaurants, the original pancake house. we got up early on saturday to make it in time for ryan to enjoy his favorite food - the dutch baby pancake. here's a photo of him enjoying his breakfast:

so after a weekend of relaxation, the fun was definitely not over yet. we spent sunday afternoon celebrating miss mikayla, my oldest niece, for her 8th birthday with a pool party and jumbo, blow-up slip and slide thingy at my parents' house. if you've been reading here long, you'll know that we had one of these things last year for mikayla's b-day too. ryan enjoyed it so much but was hurting for several days from the scrapes and bruises. this year, he decided to wise up and pull out his under armor shirt from his college days for smoother sliding. my little brother, stuart, appreciated the idea so much that he decided to join in on the fun too. here's a picture of R, his friend he brought to the party, ryan and stuey as they were about to make another run down the slip and slide:

{*i left the block off of R's entire face b/c i wanted you to see the giant he smile he has on his face!!}
*i hope ryan doesn't choose this week to be the week he starts reading my blog :) haha.

anyways, after mikayla's party, ryan informed me that he made plans for us to go out to dinner with our dear friends josh and cheryl. i was so excited because we love hanging out with them but we've really not gotten to spend much time together the last several months. when we got to buca di beppo, i noticed that the hostess was guiding us towards a room full of people with menus over their faces. i couldn't quite put things together fast enough but i remember thinking that they were taking me into a surprise party for someone else. all the sudden, several of my dear friends pulled their menus down and shouted, "surprise"! in mild shock, i kept thinking, "surprise for what??". i was temporarily scared and confused until they started singing happy birthday to me. my sweet husband, and friends, lindsay and cheryl, had planned the surprise party for my birthday without me having any clue! it was a couple weeks late, but was definitely not a dollar short! it was a great party and i felt so loved and encouraged. i think i sat in shock for the first half an hour. i always tease ryan that he'll never be able to surprise me about anything, but obviously he did!! we had a great dinner laughing and chatting, and then got to go back to craig and denise's house for more fun. we had cake, ice cream, coffee and a ton of laughs!!! i think someone in our group...who shall remain nameless...laughed so hard that she almost peed herself :) i seriously think i smiled the whole rest of the night.

what a blessing this weekend was for me!! ryan, if you're reading this {and i bet you aren't :)} THANK YOU!!!

an awesome adoption giveaway

ok, so i know it's monday morning but if you want something to get you excited for the week ahead, you should check out this giveaway. i mean seriously, these prizes are AMAZING!! i've already put my entries in so you better too :) i've got my heart set on the "all grown up" basket but i may have to go back and enter in some of the other ones too!

all the proceeds from the giveaway go to help a very sweet family add another family member to their clan after years of struggling with infertility. you can read more about their journey to adoption here. we know adoption is expensive so let's join another bloggy family by helping them out with some of the cost!

plus, emmy's blog is just a super fun read and she is a great source for crafty inspiration!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

visitation update for R & P

we heard from the boys' social worker yesterday that the state is going to be increasing R & P's visitation with their mom beginning in july. instead of just getting a 4 hour visit each week, she'll now be getting two 4 hour visit each week.

ryan and i agree that this news is bittersweet. we're glad that the boys are getting to spend more time with their mom but we fearful about the changes these added visits will bring for our family. we also know that with the increased visits, the unavoidable reality of our situation is that the boys are going back to live with their mom sometime in the near future. it's much more difficult though to experience the changes than it is to just talk about them. we've known for 7 months or so that the plan was to return the boys to their mother, but the reality of it actually being put into motion now is sobering.

we haven't told R yet about the news because the social worker asked us to wait until she gets a chance to tell the boys' mom on monday. i am not looking forward to telling R the news. if i'm being totally honest, it is painful for me to see the excitement that i know R will express over seeing his mom these extra hours. the longing of my heart is for his excitement to be over staying with us and joining our family, but i know that's a selfish and horrible way to think. i will paint on a happy face for R as we tell him the news, but deep down i could not be more sad. however, i know that his time with us has only been 8+ months and he's had 13 years of living with his mom on and off. i know mentally that it's only natural for him to long for his mother regardless of her shortcomings. emotionally though, R & P are the only children i have ever "mothered" so i am heartbroken over this impending loss. the loss includes not only the boys, but also the loss of a part of my identity. i dread the day that our house is empty, clean, and quiet again! once again, this pain only brings out the ugliness of the sin in my heart and i'm just praying that God will walk me through this and change me.

on a positive note, i know i've said this a lot before, but while fostering is hard, i know it is worth it. the last several months with the boys has been the craziest time of my life but i am so grateful for the opportunities we've been given to grow as people, parents and a family. i know God is using this experience to better prepare us for parenting and life with our ethiopian child. we have a new perspective on loss and i hope it will only help grow our respect and admiration for our future child's birth family. if it is this painful for us to love and lose children not of our own bodies, i cannot imagine how painful it is for our future child's birth mother to choose adoption for her child...

"you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." -Genesis 50:20

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

vaccination talk

{only 11 days left until our giveaway!!}

in order to travel to ethiopia, vaccinations are pretty much a necessity. although, i don't think any shots officially required for us as americans traveling to ethiopia, there are many vaccinations, including yellow fever, that are highly recommended. here's what the center for disease control (CDC) recommends for travelers going to ethiopia:

Vaccination or Disease

Recommendations or Requirements for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases


Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.

Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)

Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with "standard" tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.

Hepatitis B

Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).


Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in South Asia, especially if staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water.


Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites.


Recommended for adult travelers who have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV). They should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.

after evaluating CDC's recommendations and comparing our vaccination histories, we have decided to get vaccinated for the following before our treks to get our sweet bundle:

*typhoid (good for 2 years)
*tetanus (good for 10 years)
*yellow fever (good for 10 years)
*hepatitis A (2 shot series, good for life)

ryan and i have both already had the hepatitis B and meningitis vaccines so we should be in the clear on those. also, we are going to be staying in addis ababa {ethiopia's capital city} during our entire time in country which is at a high elevation, so it is not recommended or required that we get anything for malaria. i priced the above vaccines out with a couple local travel clinics and our cheapest option seems to total up to $806. wowsers! i don't think i was expecting vaccines to be quite that much!!

however, while i don't love the price tag of the vaccines or thinking about actually getting the shots, i am weirdly excited about this step in our process. i feel like getting the vaccines will make us officially ready to travel {minus all the packing!!}...whenever that might actually be :) the clinics recommend that we have complete our vaccinations, at the latest, approximately 4 to 6 weeks before traveling. i think we will probably go ahead and plan to get the vaccinations in about a month or so just to be ahead of the game. {plus, out of curiosity, i just checked CDC's recommendations for Afghanistan, and most of the same vaccinations are recommended for my trip there as well. whoops! i guess last time i made it without them but i don't think i want to risk it again!!}

so, any fellow adopters have any tips or recommendations for me on vaccinations? i'd love to hear if you recommend or received something different, or if you have any tips on getting the vaccines more cheaply!!!

thanks y'all~

Saturday, June 19, 2010

update on our adoption giveaway

well, we're two weeks in so far for our adoption fundraiser giveaway. and, so far, we have a total of 91 entries for the giveaway. this includes those of you who are kind enough to be praying for our adoption, blog followers, tweeters, blog posters, money givers, etc. seriously, thanks y'all!! i wish i had enough sweet swag for each of you to get something. however, i do have a 5th prize package to add to the giveaway today!!

first, i'll refresh your memory on what's at stake:

prize #1} $35 gift certificate to the moonlight doodles' shop~

prize #3} wax seal pendant necklace from harmonized creations & $5 st@rbucks gift card~

prize #4} one less orphan t-shirt from our family's stash of fundraising shirts~

prize #5} $25 gift certificate to for His glory designs' shop~

*this lovely addition to our giveaway has come courtesy of my college friend, bethany's adorable shop. bethany is married to one of ryan's college roommates and groomsman {as ryan still refers to him!}, jon. jon and bethany have an adorable little guy, jonah, so bethany has created lots of adorable items for mommies, including her custom nursing covers. while i never had the opportunity to use one of these before, i have seen them in action, and bethany's designs are both stylish and practical! these would be a great gift for a mom to be!! she has lots of different fabric choices so if you are the lucky winner of this prize, you can customize your nursing cover. check out her shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ForHisGloryDesigns or some of the cutie patootie designs below...
Nursing Cover  -Amy Butler French Wallpaper fabric - Ready to ShipAdorable NURSING COVER - Alexander Henry Starling fabric- Ready 2 ShipAdorable NURSING COVER - Alexander Henry Starling fabric- Ready 2 Ship

for more info on how to enter the giveaway, check out this post. thanks!

Friday, June 18, 2010

adoption discussed today on The View

one of the first adoption blogs i started reading several years ago was rage against the minivan. it is written by kristen, who fostered then adopted her first son, has two adorable biological daughters and who just adopted her second son from haiti after the earthquake. {in fact, she was in haiti with her infant daughter visiting their sweet little guy when the earthquake hit. if you have some extra time, you should check out her blog entries from january. very scary but very compelling.}

i truly believe that God used kristen's blog to dispel a lot of myths about adoption from my mind and to encourage ryan and i along the adoption journey. she is a very eloquent writer and also has a knack for just keeping it real, and i love that. she also happens to be a therapist so she has some great insights into the underlying issues that adoptees and their families will face...especially for transracial adoption. she doesn't sugarcoat things but is still a HUGE advocate for adoption, and believes {as i do too} that all children have the right to have a family! {plus, her kids are hilarious and hearing about their crazy antics make my life seem more normal!}

well, today kristen is getting her 15 minutes of fame! she was flown from LA to NYC to be featured on "The View" to talk about her experiences with adoption. i don't normal watch The View, in fact, i usually find it very annoying but today i have my dvr set to see what kristen has to say and i hope you will too. however, while i'm interest in seeing what the show presents about adoption, i'm even more interested in getting you to read this. after taping the show, kristen was a little miffed that time flew by so quickly and she didn't really get to say everything she had hoped, so she wrote everything that she wished she had gotten to say in today's post. seriously, it brought me to tears!

if you are in the adoption process, considering adoption, have adopted or just want to know more about adoption, you should read her post!! i particularly love her point about only being able to "save" a child only once. she says that "after that, it's called parenting and it is hard work." so true, but so not the way a lot of people {sadly, including some adoptive families} perceive adoption. so far in my experiences with foster care, it's not the kids who are getting "saved" necessarily. usually, it's ryan and i who are getting saved...saved from our own selfishness.

so, do me a favor today and read her post, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

dossier to Ethiopia TODAY!

{check here to enter our adoption fundraising giveaway or here for our t-shirts! every little bit counts so THANK YOU!!}

we heard from our wonderful agency, arise for children, last night that our dossier is on its way to ethiopia today!! this is the news we've been waiting to hear. if you're unfamiliar with adoption, there is a lot of hurry up and wait. this step means that we're now officially entering into our first cycle of waiting, and despite being pretty impatient, i'm pretty darn excited with that :) we are closer now to our sweet kiddo than ever.

ethiopia...we'll be seeing you {and hopefully sooner, rather than later}!!

another adoption yard sale

we are having another wonderful fundraising yard sale this saturday, june 19th for our adoption. this time we're having it at one of my sister's friends house because her neighborhood is also hosting a large neighborhood wide sale. after the success of our last yard sale, i'm hopefully that we'll be able to raise some much needed additional funds for our adoption but i'm trying not to hold my breath and expect the same type of earnings as last time... mostly just because i don't want to be disappointed!

unfortunately, i just checked out the weather forecast and our lovely weatherman is calling for this:

Isolated T-Storms


Wind:From S at 4 mph
Max. Humidity:53%
UV Index:10 Very High
Sunrise:6:19 AM ET
Avg. High:84°F
Record High:99°F (1888)

that's right - 96 degrees *HOT* and rain. boo! however, despite the potential for a crazy hot, rainy day, we've got lots of great stuff to sell. as i mentioned before, i think we've actually got just as much, if not more stuff than we did for our first yard sale! we're so thankful for all the generous family, church family, friends and co-workers that have given us so many great things.

if you are in the bluegrass state and interested in hitting up our yard sale, please let me know and i'll tell you where we are having it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

a fingerprinting appointment!

i went home for lunch today and checked my mailbox, as i have been doing very faithfully lately, and much to my delight i saw 2 pieces of mail from USCIS {US citizenship & immigration services}. woohoo!! i ripped the letters open and saw that we have finally been appointed dates to get fingerprinted. fingerprinting is the last step we need to complete for our US government approval to bring home a "foreign born child" as our own.

however, i noticed that ryan and i have been appointed different days which i thought was kind of strange. ryan's appointment is july 8th and my appointment is july 9th. any other adoptive parents out there have this experience too? i guess i had just pictured us going in at the same time for our fingerprinting like i have seen many other blogging couples do, but oh well! since we can get fingerprinted here locally, it's not really a big deal to me either way...perhaps it's just a missed photo op.

anyways, it's kind of funny because whenever ryan asked me what i wanted for my birthday last week, i kept telling him that i wanted a fingerprinting appointment. i smiled today when i saw that the issue date on our letters was 6/11/2010...my birthday!!

so, where does this leave us with our adoption? well, we haven't heard recently any status updates on our dossier. the last thing we heard was that it had been delivered for authentication in utah on june 7th with our agency's partner. {let me apologize to all you non-adoptive folks but i really can't explain this portion of the process because i don't understand it very well myself. i am just spitting the words out as i hear them and smiling and nodding like i understand :) } at some point, our dossier {huge packet of papers} will leave utah for washington d.c., and then will finally be off to ethiopia. as soon as i find out this has happened, it will definitely be time for celebration!

we are praying for a referral for a child {aka - when we'll be matched with a kiddo, know their name, have a picture, etc} in God's timing, but i'm admittedly not a very patient person. our agency's average referral wait time is 3-6 months. once we receive a referral, we'll be assigned a court date to travel on our first trip to ethiopia. however, ethiopian courts are closed for all of august and september so i'm hoping that won't backlog us too long from getting assigned a court date. i would love to pick up our kiddo in 2010 but that's probably a long shot!

anyways, well that's where we are...waiting! waiting to go to our fingerprinting appointment, waiting to hear that our dossier has moved, waiting for a referral, waiting for a court date, waiting to meet our child, waiting to bring our child home, waiting for our family to grow!!

thanks for your love and support along this journey!

**edit: since i first wrote this, i checked our credit card and it shows fedex charges for sending our dossier to washington d.c. on my birthday as well! praise the Lord!! one step closer to our baby :)

8 months of fostering R & P

{don't forget about our adoption fundraising giveaway and the t-shirts! we're almost halfway to our drawing date of july 4th so get your entries in today :) thanks!!}

well, today officially marks 8 months since R & P joined our home and family. wow! i can't believe it's been quite that long!

i remember when we first got the phone call for them, thinking that this would just be very temporary...possibly even a few weeks at best, but then panicking a little inside when we went to our first case plan meeting and heard that they would be sticking around longer than we thought. to be totally honest, i cried quite a bit those first few weeks when the boys were asleep and no one was looking. i cried because i was scared - scared to be raising my first infant but more scared to be raising a teenager who was just 12 years younger than me. i told God many nights back then {and truthfully, still some now} that i had not signed up to foster a teenager, and especially a teenage boy. i was also scared of the heart ache that was to come. i found that just after having the boys in our home for 6 days, i was already feeling protective of them. i didn't want them to go to their seemingly suspect relatives despite not being sure that we could handle raising them either.

ryan and i talked a lot in the beginning about all the "what ifs". the biggest one being, "what if they become available for adoption?" i laugh now because i remember the first few months talking about this quite a bit, and usually one of us {it changed depending on the day} would say that we probably couldn't ever adopt them. we would explain it away..."there's just too much baggage", "we're too young to raise a teenager", "it would put us in danger", "it would be awkward when we added more children to our family", etc. oh how God has changed our hearts!!! now whenever we're trying to guess the ending to this crazy mess, we both adamantly agree that no matter how hard it would be, we would definitely adopt them if they became available.

*now, just to clarify, the chances of them becoming adoptable seems very slim at this point. we had a home visit last week with the boys' social worker and the plan for "family reunification" is still on. however, we still don't have a concrete time frame for when that will take place. the SW said that she plans on continuing the 4 hours of unsupervised weekly visits through the end of june. then possibly in july, she will be upping the unsupervised visits to 8 hours/week for a couple of months and eventually begin overnights for a few months some time in the fall.

so, since i'm already on the kick of pouring my heart out about fostering R & P, i will admit that the thought of dragging the reunification process out another 4-6+ months makes me a little crazy. all along, i've just had a feeling that the boys would be back with their mom before the school year started but it doesn't sound like this is the case. i guess it just goes back to me wanting to be in control of the situation, but when i think about this, fear starts welling up inside me again. i think about the hardship of losing the boys now and i cannot imagine what it will be like after another 6+ months of loving, caring and attaching. i also selfishly think about how hard it will be to try to possibly raise 3 kids if we still have the boys when we return from ethiopia with our newest family member...

however, while i know that most of these feeling are probably normal, i have to remind myself daily that the life that i am living is not my own and that these thoughts are not helpful or edifying to our family or to God. it is my own sinful heart that is trying to convince me that my plans for my life are better thought out than the plans God has ordained for me. i never dreamed about being a foster parent, especially not at this stage in my life, but despite all the whining and complaining i do about it from time to time, i could not think of a way i would rather be serving the Lord right now. God is at work in our family situation sanctifying these two sweet boys, my husband and my selfish heart. whenever i grow fearful of the unknowns of this situation, i try to cling to 1 john 4:18:

"there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."

so enough about all that emotional stuff :) i want to give you an update on the boys!! they have both come quite a long way since october...

R has been busy this summer so far with basketball camp, hanging out with my mom {his nana} and my nieces, and traveling with ryan. we have seen some pretty marked progress in him over the last few months. he seems to be much more relaxed in our home, with our family and with his situation in general. he definitely is excited about the prospect of being returned to his mom, but always talks about the things will do together in the future, as if he's planning on staying in touch {which makes us really happy!}. i'm scared to even type this for fear that i'll jinx us, but his lying habit has seemed to improve quite a bit too. {that, or we just haven't caught him lately :)} he even opened up and had a good cry 2 weeks ago with ryan after a rough day at basketball camp, and he has not cried once since the day i picked him up at the CPS office. he is much more outgoing and social then he's been in the past. although he would never admit it, he loves mikayla and mikenna. despite their wide age gap {the girls are 7 and 6}, he likes teasing them and playing the "big brother role". he openly talks with us about our adoption from ethiopia and has promised that no matter where he's living at the time, he'll be waiting at the airport to greet his new family member. he finished out the year with all passing grades and will advance on to 7th grade, which is something we're all very proud of! although he's still not very affectionate towards me, he occasionally drops the tough guy act and gives ryan a big hug. overall, he's doing well and we love him a lot!!

baby P is not much of a baby anymore :( he's moving on quickly to the toddler stage! he is walking at least half of the time now. he can definitely do it without any problems but i guess he just doesn't love change and still prefers his former method of crawling. he loves him some food! {this hasn't really changed at all though because he's been a great eater since day one}. he weaned right off his bottle the week of his first birthday and hasn't looked back since. he prefers finger foods but will not usually eat them directly from your hand. he has to put them down on his tray or on the table first, and then will pick the food back up to eat it. he loves animals but still thinks that they should all be called "dog dogs". he knows the word "no", probably too well, but he doesn't really like it. when someone unfamiliar to him says it to him, sometimes he'll break down and throw a little temper tantrum. he loves his "yea yea" as he refers to me, and prefers hanging out with me over everyone else...except for my mom! he loves balls and will say the word "ba ball" repeatedly for hours!! despite his love for the bath, he hates the swimming pool. the first time he didn't have a mental breakdown around the pool was this weekend but i think it was only because i was the one in the pool with him. he was clinching on to my arms so tightly and any time i tried to bounce him, he freaked out! we're working on it though. he's a sweet, smiley boy and is a joy to have in our home!

well, that's probably more than you wanted to know about our fostering situation but i felt the urge to share :) have a great day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

my birthday celebration

for my birthday on friday, ryan told me that he planned a quiet dinner for two and then was going to take me to a movie of my choice. i was pretty pumped about that because it's been several months since i picked a movie! living with ryan and R, i tend to watch A LOT of action thrillers so i was ready for something more estrogen filled :) move over transformers, it's lesli's turn to pick a movie!

well, i got my wish and more!! instead of dinner and a movie, ryan surprised me with dinner and a trip to the theater. what we saw could not have had more estrogen or pink!! legally blonde the musical...

it was so cute and very fun! ryan was definitely in the minority of men in the theater but he still enjoyed himself {whether he'd admit it or not}. as pathetic as it is, i already knew most of the words to all the songs from watching the musical on tv so that made it really fun...at least for me! the poor girl sitting next to me probably didn't think so :) i didn't think to bring along my camera since i thought we were just going to see a movie so i didn't get any pictures of ryan and i but i wish i had! us getting dressed up to do anything is a rarity these days so i wish i had gotten some documentation.

after the musical, we finished up our celebration with some yummy strawberry-chip ice cream from graeter's and a walk on a beautiful night. it was one of the best birthday's i can remember and i was glad i got to spend it with ryan!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

t-shirt update

{looking for our adoption fundraiser giveaway? find it here}

thanks to everyone who has supported our adoption through purchasing a t-shirt! i wanted to give you all an update on what sizes we have left in case you've been debating on getting one {or twenty :)}.

we currently have the following t-shirts left:
*1 - YL
*5 - S
*5 - M
*4 - L
*8 - XL
*1 - 2XL

i'm hoping to order a second batch of shirts depending on the interest but it will probably be closer to the end of the summer before we do that. here is the link to our original posting on the t-shirts in case you have any questions.

we are asking for a $20 donation for the shirts, plus $5 for shipping if necessary. if you're in the same part of the bluegrass state as me, i will happily deliver to you :) payment can be made by using the Chip-In widget in the left sidebar of the blog.


ps - here's a not so lovely picture i took of ryan sporting a very wrinkly shirt that he wore to work yesterday:

*good thing he never reads my blog :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

lifesong picnic in pictures

here are a few of the pictures from last saturday's family picnic for lifesong:

{the beautiful horse barn}

{my youngest niece, mikenna at the petting zoo}

{my oldest niece, mikayla & R feeding the donkeys and goats}

{the kids, minus mikenna on the donkey cart ride}

{little miss mikenna}

{mikayla milking the "cow"}

{the kids after an evening of fun! silly faces for all :) }
*sorry, i can't show the faces of our sweet boys! i would if they were ours :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

{don't forget about our adoption fundraising giveaway! we haven't had much of a response yet so your chances of winning are pretty great, so get your entries in today. you can read more about the giveaway and prizes here. thank you! every little bit makes a huge difference in the life of our family and our child waiting in ethiopia!!}

sorry for the blog slacking this week. i really have no excuse...just laziness i guess because there have been so many things in the last few days i thought about blogging about!

unfortunately, over the weekend our family was plagued with the stomach virus again. this time, it only got to ryan and baby P though :( not sure how R and i managed to stay in the clear, but thankfully, we did because we had a lot of stuff planned. before the onset of the plague we had a pretty low key friday night as ryan was just returning back from yet another business trip. we just went out to dinner as a family, caught up on each other's lives and then headed off to clean our church building. {since we're still a pretty small church, families take turns cleaning the facility so it was finally our turn, and was actually pretty fun. i know...i'm a sick person to think cleaning is fun! too bad i don't think it's quite as fun when it's in my own house!!}

saturday morning, during P's morning nap, i snuck out to get a much need cut and color for my hair. my hair was dull, desperate, and could have easily been mistaken for a bird's nest on any day, so i was happy to finally get the things spruced up a bit. plus, i love the times when i can actually go and get pampered now! seems like the days of my bi-weekly pedicures, hair cuts every 6 weeks, and the occasional massage are only a faint memory now... while i was gone, the plague struck ryan and he was literally laid up in bed for the next 24 hours {well, except for the time he spent in the bathroom...yuck!}.

later that afternoon, i kept my previously made commitment to take the boys and my 2 nieces to a family picnic/fundraiser for lifesong for orphans. 4 kids + 1 me could have easily equaled chaos, but everything went smoothly! the picnic was held at a very generous family's home and the kids had a blast. there were 4 different types of blow up entertainment thingys {i can't think of the official name for these things right now...} including a bounce house with slide, an obstacle course, a soccer kick and a basketball shooting game. there were also pony rides, a petting zoo, lots of food, a silent auction, horses, etc. it was a great time! whenever i get a chance, i'll upload some cute pictures of the kids from the day. i loved seeing all the adoptive families that we have gotten to know through this journey, and seeing a lot of the kids that have come home already!! i debated on snatching up one of the adorable ethiopian kids running around the picnic, but i thought better of it. i guess since they already have loving families, that probably doesn't qualify as "orphan care" :) i hope the event raised a lot of money for lifesong, as it is an awesome organization committed to helping orphans!! if you haven't heard of them, check out their website: http://www.lifesongfororphans.org. after the picnic, i came home and told ryan that we should just go ahead and up our acceptance scale to at least 4 kids because i was already a pro. {haha, yea right!}

sunday, after taking lots of immodium and sleeping in late into the afternoon, ryan was finally feeling a little better, which i was so thankful for! that evening, we attended a beautiful, outdoor wedding for 2 friends from church and we were so glad to share in the joy of their special day. the wedding was perfectly fitted for the bride and groom and was a really fun time! if ryan was at 100% i think we would have stayed much longer and danced the night away, but we had to cut things short to get the boy home for some more recovery sleep. i was bummed to have to leave so early but i was glad that we at least got to be there for some of their celebration!

this week has also been busy and has almost flown by!! with home visits from the boys' social worker and our social worker, R's FCA {fellowship of christian athletes} basketball camp, and ryan's work trip to cleveland, it's almost the weekend again...and almost my birthday :) that's right, tomorrow's the big day- 25 for me and 30 for my big sis!! woohoo!

ok, well that's all i've really got for now. i hope you're having a fabulous day and i'll try to be a more faithful blogger in the future!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

time for a fundraising giveaway

{today is a great day. why? because it's the day the Lord has made, it's friday and because we're finally having a fundraising giveaway to benefit our ethiopian adoption!! if you'd like to help and want to potentially win a really cool prize, keep reading :) }

i think we all know by now that adoption is expensive. we are definitely finding this to be true, yet we are also finding that each step of the way, God has provided for our needs in unique ways!! i just told ryan last night that it has really been neat to see how every time i'm beginning to feel overwhelmed by the finances of all of this, we sell a t-shirt or someone wants to buy something from us on cr@igslist or donate items to our next yard sale. we have been so blessed by the people around us who have loved on us throughout this journey. if you've helped us along the way already, THANK YOU!!! because of you, 2 more checks were written this week for our adoption and our journey to ethiopia is getting closer every day!

we are moving right along and all of our dossier paperwork should be arriving in utah today. with moving along in the adoption process it means that the expenses are really beginning to add up. if i'm calculating correctly, i think we have spent roughly about $8290 so far towards the adoption, yet we still have a lot more to go! we're estimating that with our remaining agency expenses, 2 trips to ethiopia for both ryan and i, visas, etc. that we probably have about $16,000 or so to go. $16,000 sounds like a whole lot of money to me, but thankfully, i know that it is nothing to the Lord!

so, here's where the giveaway comes in...
thanks to some very generous folks from various shops on etsy, we have a few super sweet prizes to offer in exchange for a suggested donation for our adoption or promoting our cause!! {even if you don't donate to our adoption, please check out these vendors' shop because they were sweet enough to help us out!} ready to see the prizes?? here they are:

prize #1} $35 gift certificate to the moonlight doodles' shop~
*i ordered a necklace from rachel at moonlight doodles a few months ago to give to a friend at her baby shower. rachel got the necklace to me quickly and it was absolutely adorable!! i have been eying things from this shop ever since. all rachel's items are hand stamped and she has items in her shop for just about anyone...even dads! {just make sure to get your order in to her for father's day by june 10th :)} as soon as we pass court with our sweet african addition, i will surely be ordering something for myself! check out all the great stuff at her shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/MoonlightDoodles or look at all the cute options under $35 below...

*i received the cuddle blanket from layla at buffaloclover a few days ago and it is soooo soft! i love the bright colors and truly think a little boy or a little girl would be happy to snuggle up to it. it would also be perfect for you fellow adopters to send over in a care package to your little one because it is small, yet still cuddly. layla also has some other great kiddo items in the buffaloclover shop, including the sophisticated mr. rogers tees and onesies. i actually bought one for little P before Christmas from buffaloclover and P got many compliments on it!! check out buffaloclover here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/buffaloclover and the cuddle blanket below...

*for thanksgiving i was on the hunt for a personalized tee for little P for all the family get-to-gethers. i happily stumbled upon littlehousetees on etsy and got the most precious shirts with P's name and a turkey on it! {if it weren't for protecting P's privacy b/c of foster care, i would certainly show you his darling little face in the adorable shirt...in fact, if you got our Christmas card, he was sportin' it in our family picture.} i digress...there are so many different design options in jennifer's shop so you're bound to find something that will work for your favorite kids. she's got everything from birthday milestone tees to big brother/sister tees to holiday tees. if you win this prize pack, you can pick any of her designs to have printed on a short-sleeved shirt of your choice. {her available sizes vary by shirt color but are 0-3 mos to youth 12} go ahead and pick you out something here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/littlehousetees or look at a few of the cute customizable designs below...

prize #3} wax seal pendant necklace from harmonized creations & $5 st@rbucks gift card~

*i ordered myself one of these wax seal necklaces from harmonized creations late last year after seeing something similar worn on the bachlorette a few season ago. {i know, go ahead and ridicule me. i deserve it, but hey, the necklace is darn cute!} i fell in love with the vintage feel of the necklace, yet thought it was still cute and classy. each pendant is unique and beautiful, and will be stamped with the uppercase initial of your choice. rebecca also has some colored variations of this necklace featured in her shop as well if your interested in purchasing something else from her as well. she is a fellow adoptive mom so you should definitely check out her shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/HarmonizedCreations or take a gander at some of the unique pendants below...

*also included in this prize pack is a $5 gift card to st@rbucks. no explanation needed, right? just enjoy sportin' your beautiful necklace while hanging out in st@rbucks sipping a delicious drink. mmmmmm.

prize #4} one less orphan t-shirt from our family's stash of fundraising shirts~

*i don't know about anyone else who has ordered shirts, but i love them...i may be a little partial though :) they are soft and cute, but not too cute that our house full of boys don't mind wearing them. if you win this prize pack you will get to choose 1 t-shirt from whatever sizes we have left in stock. in case you've forgotten what they look like, here they are again...

**ok, now for how to enter the giveaway:
give a suggested donation of $5 for every 1 entry or $20 for 5 entries. this is only a suggestion but it will definitely help us inch closer to our adoption goals. you can give by clicking on our ChipIn/PayPal widget on the left sidebar {under the picture of the t-shirts}. PayPal will notify me of your donation and i will use the email to put you in the drawing.

-for additional entries:
#1} share our giveaway via facebook, your blog, twitter, etc. if you do, send me a link via email and i'll add an extra entry for you.

#2} commit to praying for our family and for our child waiting in ethiopia. we need your prayers for our continued fundraising, for perseverance as we wait, for the actual adoption process to go smoothly, and most importantly, for the health and well-being of our child and the millions of other orphans waiting in ethiopia and elsewhere. if you will or already praying, please email me and let me know.

#3} become a follower of my blog. i always wonder if there are floaters out there reading the blog but not commenting. if you're out there, i want to get to know you so i can read up on your crazy life adventures too! if you become a follower, email me about this too.

my email address is mrsleslisweeney{at}yahoo.com. if you email me, please make sure to include your name and an email address where i can contact you back in case you win. the giveaway will end on july 4th so be sure to enter now and share the giveaway with your friends!! we will 4 draw names from all the entries and contact the winners in the order that they are drawn so they can choose which prize package they want.

THANK YOU AGAIN FOR HELPING MAKE THIS ADOPTION POSSIBLE!! we look forward to the day when we can share with our child all the people that were a part of this journey to bring them home.

much bloggy love :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

it is in!

our home study was ready for our pick up today. woohoo!!!

it was the last piece we were waiting for to be able to officially submit our beloved dossier {aka - huge stack of papers with every possible bit of personal information}.

i went on my lunch break and picked it up so that i could drop it off at our agency. tomorrow, our wonderful agency, arise for children, will get all our paperwork ready to send off to their partner agency, west sands in utah. while it's in utah, everything will get authenticated and we will know if they need any additional documentation before our packet is sent off to washington d.c. don't ask me what they do with the paperwork in d.c....i'm sure it's something official but i have no clue what that is. {fellow adopters, can you fill me in on this process? i'm haven't an idea.} from d.c., our bundle of papers will finally head to ethiopia hopefully in about 3 weeks or so!!! have i mentioned that i can't wait for that?!?

i'm really excited to be drawing this paper chase to a close, but i know there's still a chance that west sands will see something missing or need additional documentation. however, i'm seriously praying that we've done everything correctly this first time and that it's ready to fly on to ethiopia ASAP! what a relief that will be :)

now, i'm off to work on some grant applications and to send our final copy of our home study to USCIS (citizenship & immigration) so that we can be assigned a fingerprinting appointment and get approval from the government to adopt...yay!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

my baby brother graduated

friday night, my baby brother, "david stuart s3tliffe, big boy" {as he so fondly used to refer to himself}, graduated from high school. for many reasons, i cannot believe it actually happened!! for starters, i remember when he used to throw down every morning when my mom went to wake him up for school. he was not exactly a stellar student for a few years either. i'm pretty sure that he would make up any excuse to get out of school, including but not limited to faked vomiting, asthma attacks and allergy issues. anything to stay home and sleep a bit longer.

he also seems too young! what happened to this little, chubby buddy? could he seriously be old enough to graduate already?? i think not!

however, i must say that over the last couple of years i have had the privilege of watching stuart grow and mature so much. he has grown into a passionate musician, a follower of Christ, an all around mature guy, and a pretty good student. i love seeing him become who God designed him to be and am proud to have him as my little brother.

friday night stu graduated with a fine arts degree from my high school alma mater, bringing back some pretty sweet memories for me! i remember the feeling of finally being done with high school and being "independent" for the first time. such a fun yet scary time, but i know stuart will do great in the real world! he's headed off to college next year about 2.5 hours from us so that will be hard for all of us, but thankfully he's not too far for us to visit...perhaps even unannounced :)

just for kicks, i thought i'd share this lovely gem of my family after my high school graduation. it is truly a treasured photo in our family as it has provided us many good laughs over the years:

{please note stuart's utter disdain for celebrating my graduation. sadly, i think we have another similar photo that shows him even more grouchy on my special day! too bad i couldn't dig that one up!}

wow, what changes a few years brings!

congrats, stuart!! we love you and are proud of you. cheers*


so, my little blog got a face lift this weekend. what do you think? i was ready for something different and more summery. i was also ready to have a 3 column design, which i like a lot better... less clutter on one side and more symmetry, which is perfect for a borderline OCD girl who used to work at hallmark like me :) i worked with Kelsey of Kreated by Kelsey for the design and was totally pleased with her work and how quick it was! if you need a face lift too, you should check her out. she's sweet, creative and efficient!

that is all for now! hopefully i'll be back later to report about our fabulous memorial day weekend...