Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adoption Update

I was hoping to have some new pictures of Elizabeth to ring in the new year, but no such luck.  :P  I can tell you that we received our I-797, which means US Immigrations has our application.  With the Christmas/New Years vacations, I don't know if they are doing anything with it yet, but at least we're moving towards the next step.

There seems to be a number of steps still to go, but I think from now on, they tend to move a little faster.  Of course we've received estimated time frames for everything from our agency, but given how quickly we got our LOA, not to mention all these holidays, I feel like anything is possible.  I just wish I had a better feel for what exactly WE are supposed to do during these following steps.  Sometimes it's hard to remember we are following God's timetable.  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

A while ago, I decided that Hark the Herald Angels Sing was my favorite Christmas carol.  It has such a beautiful message of hope and amazement.  I love the way it speaks to who Christ really is, yet also shares what he does for us. 

With all the adoption craziness, it's been easy to forget that we are all waiting for one special child to return in His glory.  I feel like waiting for this adoption has kind of opened my eyes to the true wait we have, and this song makes me excited for when the wait is finally over.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

All In

I made the call today to our agency, and our counselor said everything is on its way to US Immigration.  The clock kind of starts ticking now...3ish weeks at USCIS, then another 3-6 weeks until our travel authorization from China.  Yikes!

It's funny (of course) how we wish and hope for things to move more quickly, all the while mentally preparing for the long haul.  Now that we've skipped a few months, I'm actually feeling a little rushed.  Our holiday plans add even more of a pause to this time frame, and once we get into the New Year, it will be hard not to feel like things are moving too quickly.  I'm getting this feeling again, like I'll be swept off my feet.  All the things I'm thinking about...

...rearranging the rooms

...finding a minivan

...rereading "Parenting the Internationally Adopted Child"

...potty training Luke?

...what size clothes to wash for Elizabeth

...knitting a blanket for her

...organizing the freezer

...and so many other things.  In some ways, it's not that different from being pregnant.  :)  You plan this huge, life-changing event...and despite that moment when your life changes forever, the days go on.  We still throw ourselves on the mercy of God every day, and the day before we hold Elizabeth in our arms, and the day we meet her, and the day we fly home, and every day after that won't be any different in that regard.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oceans

Between trying to get ready for our trip (not to China...no, we have an equally long trip before that), practicing and performing our choir concert, and, you know, signing and sending all our paperwork for Elizabeth, we did not have the most restful of weekends.  It doesn't help that I'm terrible at turning it all off once I get into bed...

We did get all the paperwork signed and sent off, and now I am trying to remember that the letter will not just be sitting in the hold of a plane on its way to Colorado, but more importantly, it is resting in God's hands.

As I drove back from mailing it off, this song was playing on the radio.  A good one to remember right now.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Our Baby Girl

Elizabeth Perkins!
LOA:  December 9 (meaning we are officially her parents!)

12 months

15 months

I know, you probably just want to gaze at her little face...but for those of you with questions, here's a little update.

Wait...LOA?!  What happened to the referral step?

Oh, you caught that, huh?  We actually received Elizabeth's file on November 11, but we were asked not to share anything until we had our official LOA.  It's been killing me to sit on this news, but it's kind of like just finding out you are pregnant--we told our family right away but had to wait a little longer to tell the internet.

So what happens next?

It could move pretty quickly at this point, although the holidays (both US and Chinese) don't help.  Once we sign the LOA and get it back to our agency, they send everything to US Immigrations.  Once we receive our I-800, we can request travel authorization from China.  We'll need our visas, etc., along with a consulate date before we can buy our tickets.  With Christmas and Chinese New Year in there, we're not sure how long things will take, but we could travel as early as February now!

How are you feeling?

I'm still a little in shock--we really expected the time from referral to LOA to be more in the 3 month range (it was a month).  This step also feels a lot more real than all the others so far...even compared to seeing her picture!  I think maybe it's the fact that we are officially her parents, but mostly it's the thought that February/March is just NOT THAT LONG!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Third Day--Merry Christmas

Last Christmas we were still in the waiting period before beginning the adoption process.  Now, it's Christmas-time again, and we certainly hope this is the last Christmas she not here.

Um, just to warn you, you should have a box of tissues handy.






Monday, December 9, 2013

Trading In

(I just hit 4000 views over the weekend.  Thanks for keeping up with us!)

We're wrapping up our commitments for the fall.  Our life group finished before Thanksgiving, along with my running group.  I finished teaching last Thursday--finals all graded and submitted.  It's one of the nice things about teaching one little lab section.  :)

We're trying to be really careful about committing to things for the spring.  We don't know when we'll travel, but we want to a) be ready for really fast progress in the adoption! and b) if not, have plenty of time to get 'ready' (whatever that means).

So that means no teaching and no leading life groups.  That does not mean, however, that I will be commitment free...since I've already joined choir!  I love singing, and I really enjoy being in a choir.  I've been able to be a member off and on since I was a child, and the Hope choir was an extra selling point when deciding on a new church.  Unfortunately, between teaching in the evenings and leading a night life group, I haven't been able to join.

But, as soon as our life group was done for the semester, I signed up...just in time, since they started the Christmas music that week.  We have our concert this coming Sunday, and even thought we have a grueling practice schedule over the next week, I'm pretty excited.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving Acrostic

Impatience attenuated
My sweet kids

Freezer
Old Friends
Relatives near and far
Elizabeth*
Vision through writing
Early morning coffee
Running

Ten years of marriage
Hymns
Adoption support group
New babies
Knitting for the shop
Fitting in at church
Unending wonder of chemistry
Love came down

*When I was pregnant with our first child, we decided on Katherine or Elizabeth for the girl's name.  Since we've used Katherine already, our adopted daughter's first or middle name will be Elizabeth.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Buckle Down and Knit

If you notice there's a bit of a communication gap in this blog, it's probably because I'm knitting.  :)  I had a big custom order come in before Thanksgiving with a shipping deadline of December 4.  Normally I don't like knitting on a deadline, but I'm willing to put up with it for certain special people. 

I was making pretty good progress but got bogged down a little in the design phase.  One part of starting the shop that I've really enjoyed is learning to develop my own patterns.  I think I've discussed this before on the blog, but most patterns include a request not to sell completed items.  Request or copyrighted, I try to honor that.  Still, when you have to come up with something from scratch, sometimes it's hard to make the decision and start knitting.

I hope to spend this Christmas break putting the finishing touches on a few patterns I've written--a seamless V-neck vest, the fingerless gloves, and a few of the dresses from the shop.  I've already recruited one test knitter, but if any of those sound interesting to you, I'd love a few more.  Just let me know!

And yes, I'll post my Thanksgiving acrostic tomorrow, after I ship these scarves.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Less Traditional Thanksgiving


I'm all for big Thanksgiving celebrations.  I think the critical mass is about 10 adults, which ensures a good mixture of sides and desserts, fun conversation, and enough people to play games (of the board or ball variety). 

But with David gone all last week and Luke still recovering from that (he's had a pretty short fuse recently), we decided on a stay-at-home Thanksgiving.  Both my brother and sister worked, so we're planning to have our traditional meal on Saturday.  With that in mind, we definitely deviated from the normal menu.

We enjoyed some delicious pumpkin bread pudding for breakfast, then headed out for a hike at a local open space.  It was a gorgeous day, and I think a morning hike will be part of our traditional menu in the future.  Leftovers for lunch, then David took the kids out to play in the leaves while I worked on some custom knitting orders. 

Here's where we totally deviated--David's not a huge fan of turkey.  I know, I know.  A minor flaw in an otherwise practically perfect guy.  So we had rouladen, which is his favorite meal.  You pound out a slice of beef really thin, spread it with mustard, then roll it up with a sauteed bacon/onion mixture and a pickle.  Brown it on the stove, then into the oven with some shredded carrots and more onions.  It's really delicious.  And we still had mashed potatoes and gravy!  The highlight of the evening for Katie and Luke was the sparkling cranberry juice I bought along with some plastic flute glasses.  

We also rescheduled our Thanksgiving acrostic for Sunday morning, when everyone in my family can do it (courtesy of skype, of course).  So you'll have to stay tuned to see what I'm most thankful for this year.  :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Some Crumbs

Sometimes I see things happen and think, even in these little insignificant situations, God is very gracious. 

It's both a blessing and a curse to have so much information about my shop.  For example, I can see that 82 people have 'seen' my post about the new giveaway--one that requires you to 'share' another post on my site.  I can also see that a grand total of 1 person has actually shared it.  :P  Thanks, Alicia!

In the midst of this new learning experience, however, I got my second stranger sale.  There is nothing like seeing that email titled "Etsy Order Confirmation."  Again, there is nothing that really indicates it had anything to do with my recent advertising activities.  If I knew why this sale occured, I'd focus in that area, but I don't really know.  I just know it's very encouraging as I try and figure out this whole business thing. 

I'm also not sure what I'm supposed to be learning about the whole Facebook thing...whether I'm doing it wrong, or I'm not reading my audience well, or I need to make the Knit Us Together feed more interesting first.  Maybe I just need to get back to knitting.  :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Good Internet Practice

I sometimes feel some tension when it comes to the blog.  Like this week, for example.  The way I wrote, it probably sounded like a pretty normal week, except that David has been gone since last Saturday.

And frankly, it was a pretty rough week.  It's never fun when David is gone, but it's a lot worse when we all are sick for most of it.  I didn't feel comfortable taking something to help me sleep, since it pretty much knocks me out.  Awesome when you have a wonderful spouse who will get up with the kids; not so great when you're the only adult in the house. 

We survived thanks to some nice friends, brave family members who came over despite the germs, and judicious doses of Dora the Explorer.  There may have been a visit to the frozen food aisle thrown in there too.

Of course, I didn't feel comfortable sharing any of this with you...not that I think my readers are particularly dangerous, but it's just not good internet practice to announce that your husband will be gone for a week.

I certainly try to be honest when it comes to this blog (even when I think you may be tired of hearing about waiting and patience).  But there will always be things that I just can't share over the internet, for whatever reason.

So I guess this is my disclaimer, and maybe a little bit of an apology.  :)  Blogs are a great way to keep up with us, and it's why I write it and share it with you.  I love being able to share this journey with you, and I know geography, time, and other barriers make it hard to keep up with everyone.  Just remember that the internet is no replacement for real friendships--the kind that require time, conversations, and effort.  In this age, it's easy to forget that.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Magic Formula

Wednesday was a great day for the shop--I actually had my first stranger sale!  I also got a lot more hits than I normally do. 

But, I kind of feel the way I did when my kids were babies.  You know, the first night your child sleeps through the night, or doesn't have gas, or whatever you're hoping for--and you begin to rack your brain, piecing together each step in an effort to replicate it.  You're willing to eat ravioli with pumpkin sauce every night for the next week if it ensured a repeat performance, but is that what did it?  Was it the combination of the warm pack and the football hold, or the bouncing on the end of the bed whilst holding her upright?  There are just too many variables, and even if you did it exactly the same way, it still might not work. 

So back to Knit Us Together...was it the giveaway on Facebook?  Was it the three new listings I put up (the purchase was NOT one of those three)?  Was it listing them on Wednesday afternoon, which I've read is the 'sweet spot' for etsy browsing?  Was it just totally random?  Like my babies, I don't think I've ever know.  :)

Nonetheless, it was pretty exciting.  Going forward, I still think my best bet right now is to increase the number of listings.  Even if the one scarf that I have listed now is the one that's bought, I think it helps when a customer can make a choice from a series of options.  So hey, I should keep doing what I love--knitting more things! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Brief Update on My Life

1.  How did it get to be November 20?  It seems like the days are just flying by...except, of course, when it comes to the adoption.

2.  I actually managed to deal with all of that pork!  The last of it (two bones) went into the stockpot yesterday, and now I have some yummy pork broth to put into soup today.  So technically, I guess I'm almost done.  :)

3.  This week was shaping up to be a crazy one, so of course, Luke and I have come down with colds.

4.  Still wondering what my song is?  O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.  It's the first hymn I learned to sing alto for, and I've always loved the music and words.  While some may call it dirge-like, I think it's beautiful.

5.  I've been biding my time for doing some advertising for Knit Us Together.  I'm not sure what's been holding me back--perhaps the thought that if I don't try, I won't fail?  Well, my brother suggested I view all these entrepreneurial activities as learning opportunities, rather than opportunities to succeed or fail.  So I'm trying a giveaway on my FB page for the number of likes I get.  Have you liked it yet?  Even better, share it on your FB page!

6.  Before I started blogging and being all entrepreneurial, I was 'this' close to exiting the FB world.  Sigh.

7.  I had planned to finish all my shopping by Thanksgiving.  I have done none of it!  But there's still time...

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Song of Comfort

Hymns were a big presence in my life as I grew up.  We often sang hymns around the breakfast table (eventually in parts!), and I can count many occasions when God used them to speak to me.

Although we usually sing at least one hymn in our church service, I feel like the breadth of hymns that I sing in a congregational setting has decreased dramatically.  I especially don't want Katie and Luke to miss out on this rich heritage, so we sing from the hymnal before going to bed every night. 

BTW, I am seriously considering taking an exacto knife to our old hymnal and just keeping the ones I know.  It gets pretty sparse at the back of the hymnal. 

Back to the adoption thing (waiting is annoying)...music can be very therapeutic for children, but one adoption book recommended that lots of different songs may be overwhelming if a child isn't used to it.  Instead, the authors suggest choosing one 'comfort' song to use for naps, bedtime, calming, etc. 

So, what song would you choose?  It needs to be one that is relatively soothing, not too complex, and most importantly, easy to sing over and over again.  I have mine for sure--my favorite hymn since I was a child--but I'm curious what you would pick!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another Busy Week

Sometimes, I plan busy weeks to help stave off the impatience.  And sometimes, pork shoulder is $.99/lb.



I'm down to 10 lbs (that's about 38 lbs in the picture), but I'm definitely in the middle stages of this process.  I cooked about 10 lbs using the first carnitas recipe that I posted, but I still need to bag it and/or make some casseroles from it (enchiladas, probably). 

The second 10 lb hunk went to this recipe.  The verdict?  Of course a seasoned, broiled fat cap is insanely addictive...but the meat itself was so-so.  I'm debating how to use the leftovers without resorting to enchiladas.  I'm thinking some kind of pork ragu, just to mix up the cuisines a little.  I could probably make it into soup too.

The third 10 lbs went to pork bulgogi, which I consider much more addictive...so much so that I'll be making the last 10 lbs into the same thing.  I cubed the meat into large chunks, used 6 recipes of this marinade for about 8 hours, then put it in the crockpot overnight.  I pulled the meat out to cool and defatted/shredded it.  For the sauce, I strained off the fat, then cooked it down and added it to the shredded meat.  Delicious!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Other Carnitas Recipe

In between tutoring chemistry and pondering cookies for the bake sale (pistachio and cardamom?), I figured I'd better get on with pork shoulder week.

Here's the other recipe I like, although given my bent toward savory, I replace the orange juice with broth or water.  This one is equally delicious, and I pretty much follow the recipe besides my one substitution.  I love the Cook's Illustrated method of cooking down the liquid and broiling the sauced meat, and I've borrowed it for a few other pork shoulder recipes.

Cooks Illustrated Carnitas from The Bitten Word

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pork Carnitas, aka Mexican Pulled Pork


Before making Mexican-style pork shoulder, you need to ask yourself:  sweet or savory?  If you're not into the sweeter variety, steer clear of anything with orange juice.  A little brown sugar is great, but I prefer a more savory variety. 

If you're looking for over the top super simple, here's the recipe:

Mexican Pulled Pork

You don't even need to marinate or sear for a pretty delicious pile of meat, but I'm sure that would only make it taste better.  But if your pork has been thawed in the fridge for two days because it wasn't quite thawed before you left for a weekend trip, just getting it into the crockpot will turn out great.

I 'deglazed' the crockpot with a little hot water, then put the sauce in a separate container and chilled it so I could remove the fat.  I would serve this with some Mexican-style coleslaw and/or lime cilantro rice (aka Chipotle rice).  Since I didn't plan far enough ahead on Monday, we just ate it in burritos with some lettuce/salsa/cheese/etc.  It was still pretty good.

This one has more warm spices, which gives it a certain flavor.  Tomorrow I'll post another Carnitas recipe that's a little more complicated, little different flavor, but still delicious. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pork Shoulder=Perfection

If you're not a pork eater, don't bother reading this post, because I'm about to sing its praises.  :)

Pork shoulder is my favorite cut of meat to cook with at home.  First of all, it's pork, which means it would be delicious just roasted with salt and pepper.  But it's a lot more than just tasty. 

--It's versatile:  you can flavor it in a lot of different ways (Korean, Chinese, Mexican, BBQ, Caribbean, Italian, etc.), and I'm pretty sure they will all taste good.

--It's versatile (II):  you can eat it in burritos, enchiladas, rice wraps, lettuce wraps, sandwiches, salads, plain, in soup, in ragu...

--It's super easy:  the recipe I made on Sunday called for a spice rub, marinating time, and searing, but I didn't even bother with any of that.  Just seasoned it, plopped it in the crockpot, and came back to ambrosia the next morning.  It also tastes better the next day.

--It freezes well:  especially in a sauce.

--It's flavorful: which means it fits into my 'meat on the side' food philosophy.

I'd say the only issue is the fat, except that's what makes it sooo delicious, right?  I deal with that by making it ahead of time, pouring the sauce off into a separate container, putting it in the fridge, then taking the fat off the top after it's hardened.  (Problem) solved.

I'll be posting some of my favorite pork shoulder recipes this week.  Mmmm, carnitas....

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekend Aftermath

I made it home from my whirlwind weekend with my baby fix all fixed up for a while.  :)  I had forgotten how little and cozy 3-week-olds could be, and Mya is such a sweet, sweet little baby on top of that.  She had a few stretches were she was alert and looking around, but mostly she slept.  My brother and sister-in-law were gracious enough to let me hold her most of that time (well, during the day), and I even got her a few times after the grandparents arrived.  I didn't bring my camera (and failed to get the pics from Mom's), so I'll have to post pictures another time.  And I got the blanket done!

We also spent some time at Wheaton College--the other reason for my visit.  The campus was simply gorgeous with all the leaves turning colors.  It was a pleasure just to walk around and remember my time there, so full of good times. 

The main event was the endowed scholarship dinner.  I was a little jittery about reading my letter, but thankfully they put me right at the very beginning.  It went pretty smoothly, and of course it was very encouraging and uplifting to hear how God is working through the endowed scholarships at Wheaton.  I was able to meet my scholarship donors' daughter, and we also got to meet the student who received money from our scholarship!  :)  It wasn't much, but we're excited to see how God will use our scholarship as it grows.  

The only downside was the amount (or lack) of sleep that I got.  I took a nap yesterday and today, in addition to hitting the sack at 8:30 last night.  But I'm getting back to normal and beginning to consider a) what happened to October and b) how to best use November.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

When Words Escape You....

...post pictures!  I have been thinking about what to post, and lots of things have been happening (not adoption things, unfortunately), but I sit down to write and I can't figure out what to say.  Actually, I haven't even been sitting down much because of my most recent knitting project, but I can't post pictures of that (yet) because it's a gift.  ;) 


So here are a few snap shots from my sister's visit.  We went up to the Jemez mountains, only to discover that all the national parks were closed (this was during the shut down).  Thankfully the YMCA campground let us park and picnic on their property. 

Here's Katie's understanding of the shutdown:

"So one guy says, 'let's do this,' and one guy says, 'let's do that,' and they can't agree.  And when one guy says, 'let's do this,' and the other guy says, 'yes, let's do this,' then they'll open the mountain back up!"






Monday, October 28, 2013

Orphan Sunday

When I look back on the changes we've experienced in the last year, I can certainly see why God chose to put us in our new church.  We've been really blessed by the adoption and foster community there, and I feel like we're going to have a great support network in place when our daughter arrives. 

This Sunday has been designated "Orphan Sunday" by the Christian Alliance for Orphans.  We've already had discussions in our adoption support group about the term 'orphans.'  Our daughter probably won't fit the strict definition of orphan, but she's what sociologists would call a 'functional orphan.'  That's a whole can of worms that I might address sometime, but regardless, our church will be highlighting some of the ways we can serve children in need in our community and outside of it. 

As part of the service, there will be a slide show of adoptive and foster families within our church.  Here is our contribution: 


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Train Books for Toddlers

Now that I have a train fanatic in the house, we discovered a serious hole in our kids books--train books.  After hearing Luke ask for 'train book, train book' and facing 2-3 options to read over and over, my mom rescued us and sent some more.  :)

We have a fantastic selection now.  If you're looking for some fun, enjoyable train books for your toddler, here are some suggestions.

1.  Two Little Trains, by Margaret Wise Brown

I think this one might be my favorite to read.  Margaret Wise Brown is best known for Good Night, Moon, but this beautiful, lyrical, and clever book makes for a lovely good night read too.  The book features two trains--one big silver train traveling across the land and one little old train traveling to the bedroom.  I appreciate the way she draws connections through the landscape and the house, and the soft pictures and quiet words lead gently to bedtime.

2.  Train Song by Diane Siebert

I love this kind of poetry--the words are like a rich, delicious feast that I want to roll around in my mouth and savor.  The rhymes are accompanied by simple yet warm paintings of landscapes and images of the train traveling through the country.  I feel like it would make a great Reading Rainbow book.

3.  Trains, by Gail Gibbons

This was one of the first train books my mom got for Luke, and I was a little skeptical the first time I read it.  The illustrations are more cartoonish, and it falls directly into the 'informative' category.  But as I read it more, I began to appreciate the bright, colorful pictures, and I found the amount of words on each page to be just about right.  Mostly importantly, Luke loved it.

4.  Steam Train, Dream Train, by Rinker and Lichtenheld

Luke enjoyed their first book (Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site), so when my mom saw this team had come out with a TRAIN book, it was on the way to our house in no time.  :)  There are more words on these pages, but the frolicking rhymes keeps things moving.  The pictures are fun, and Luke likes to see all the animals working on the train.

5.  Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo, by Kevin Lewis

This train book is perfect for that impatient listener--the pictures are big, bright, and feature recognizable toys, there aren't too many words on the pages, and the train whistle is perfect for 'reading along.'  There are lots of things going on in the pictures, so it also works well for interactive reading (do you see..., can you find..., etc.). 

6.  The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper

No list of train books would be complete without this classic.  There are a lot of options for this book (board, abridged, unabridged, etc.).  Consider your reader and your listener when picking one--the unabridged version has a lot of words on the page and is somewhat repetitive, so if you have an impatient listener, a shorter version might be better.  That said, Luke and Katie love to hear the different trains (complete with pompous and booming voices) and don't seem to mind the repetition at all.  The length means you also get a complete story with a great lesson. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Tree of Life

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12
 
We read through Proverbs 13 at church last Sunday, and this was one of the verses I read when it came around to me.  After reading through it, our leader asked if anything stood out to us.  

Ha ha.  It's nice to see someone put it bluntly like this.  Of course there are benefits to waiting patiently, but there's also a measure of 'heart-sickness' that goes with waiting for something that you passionately desire.

My life is pretty full right now, between teaching, church activities, knitting, and, oh yeah, two little kids and a house to keep.  :)  My sister is here, and my brother has moved down here too.  The holiday season is coming too, November looks like a fun movie month, and however it happens, this part of the year often feel like a train barreling down the tracks.  

I stay busy and try not to think about it, but the moments still creep up on me.  And I get that thought--maybe TODAY we will see some files.  Maybe TODAY we will see her face.  And it really strikes my heart--she's there and not here.

I will keep this image in my mind instead:  A tree, planted in China, soon to be transplanted here, growing into a tree of life.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Need Thee Every Hour


Every night before Luke goes to bed, we pray together and I sing a hymn to him.  It's a wonderful, quiet, cozy end to my day with him, and I love revisiting old hymns and introducing them to him.

Last night I sang, "I Need Thee Every Hour."  It's not one we sing very often in church, but it's very near to my heart.

We had been married for almost two years when David deployed to Iraq.  He was part of an advance group that left, so his departure didn't have any of the pomp and fanfare that some do.  Just a quiet Sunday morning, a brief goodbye, and a waiting van to take him to the airport.

I went to church soon after to practice for worship, and this was one of the songs we sang.  Well, I sang about half of it before I had to leave the stage (during practice, thankfully), but it was a good reminder for the weeks and months ahead.

Our worship leader chose this song when David came home for his R&R, and again when he returned for good a year later.  Even now, years later, it reminds me of both the pain and the joy, and God's steadfast presence through everything. 


Friday, October 18, 2013

Bring Her Home

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I'm doing my first targeted fundraiser for someone in our adoption group.  I've already realized that I should have put a link to the shop on the FB announcement, since I think it requires at least 3 clicks to get the actual shop.  I can't seem to edit the announcement, but I guess if people are going to buy or look, they can manage the three clicks.  Something to remember for next time.  :) 

Here's the announcement from the shop, along with the coupon code.  All YOU need to do is click the Etsy shop banner to the right and you'll get the shop. 

It's Feature Friday today, and we're doing something extra special--50% of your purchases for the next WEEK will be donated to AAC to help bring a very special girl home to her family!

1. The 10% off coupon code is "BRINGHERHOME"

2. Our Feature Friday is actually Feature Week--the coupon code is good through Friday, October 25.

3. You get 10% off, but 50% of the full price still goes to support the adoption.

4. Custom orders count! So if you see something in the sold orders that you like or want something in a different size, click that custom order button and let me know! 


Now to avoid compulsively checking my shop, email, and the post to see if there's any action...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blog Stats--No, We Didn't Change That...

Every once in a while, I like to take a look at the stats on the blog.  It's fun to see the countries where people have accessed the blog--there are twelve different ones, including Serbia?  Most, of course, come from the US.

I don't have many people finding the blog through search terms, although I did have it hidden from search engines for a while.  I've never planned on making money through this blog (PW, anyone?), but I made it public in case other adoptive families want to follow our journey.  I guess it's time to learn about SEO. 

Finally, it's fun to see which posts are popular.  Pictures, as always, get a lot of hits, especially if I mention the pictures in the FB post.  I was a little surprised that this post got so many hits, until I thought about the tagline I put in FB.  "Processing--a change of plans" did NOT refer to our adoption plans.  Sorry. 

In fact, I dreamt about our daughter last night.  I don't remember much, except that I was holding her and that I felt pretty excited.  This feels like it's taking FOREVER!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adoption and the Shop

(Yes, we are waiting still.  You can pray for a nice big batch of partner files to arrive at our agency.)

I'm pretty excited to announce my first targeted fundraiser for someone who is adopting.  It'll start this Friday, so check back here or on the shop Facebook page (www.facebook.com/knitustogethershop) to find out more details then!

When David and I were talking about bowing out of the craft fair, he pointed out that I was starting to take it a little too seriously.  I had intended to just go with what I have and see what it's like (doing it for the experience), but then I started trying to figure out how much product I'd need to hit certain profit points and setting some very challenging goals...well, my perfectionist tendencies kicked in.

I was definitely straying from my original intentions for this shop--another discussion David and I had.  When I first started talking about starting an etsy shop, I had a couple ideas in mind:
  • have an outlet for my knitting energy
  • make back the money from my initial yarn investment  :)
  • make a little extra money for our adoption
  • have fun (which almost got lost in my 'very challenging goals')
Honestly, these probably aren't the best "business" platform for anything, but they were enough to get me started.  Once I started, they changed just a little.  It didn't take long for me to add these:
  • Raise money for adoption grants (50% of the total sales from the shop)
  • Use the shop to help other people who are adopting to raise money
We figured out a few weeks ago that we've reached our savings goal for this adoption.  We don't know about a second adoption for us at this point (just too early), but I've always been taught that we're blessed to be a blessing, and I hope my shop will bless families long after ours has been blessed by adopting.


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Train Cake

I finally managed to make a good cake at high altitude...and promptly dropped it on the stove.

Some of the frosting looks like cookies and cream...despite an attempt at crumb coating.

The artistic shading on the cake...came from a second batch of mismatched frosting.

Jelly beans, kitkats, and peppermint patties for decoration...because I ran out of icing to pipe with.

The verdict...perfection in his eyes!



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Still My Baby

Yesterday was Luke's 2nd birthday.  At least he doesn't mind being my little baby!

video

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Processing

Sometimes, it's nice to write things out just to process them.  Then I realize that my blog post is a bit long and probably more complicated than needed, and I start over.

I'm super excited because I get to visit my baby niece at the end of the month!  We have started an endowed scholarship at Wheaton College (my alma mater), and November 2 is the annual dinner for donors.  I've been invited to share a letter that I wrote to some donors, and since a) my new niece will be 3 weeks old (yikes!) and b) I don't know how many more times I'll get to see her before my brother and his wife abscond with her to far off lands, I'm hopping on a plane for a short weekend away. 

This decision was the result of much internal debate, because I'm going to have to cancel my appearance at the Holly Days Craft Fair.  

The truth is, there wasn't a wrong decision, but after discussing my debate with David, he pointed out that I was really making this into something complicated.  He helped me untangle some of my motivations for doing the craft fair, and we realized that they weren't really outweighing my desire to see my niece and attend the dinner.  Plus, David was beginning to feel my motivation and approach to the craft fair was tapping into my perfectionist tendencies, and he thinks those are a little unhealthy for me.  Possibly he might be right. 

So, I will pass up the opportunity to make a brilliant showing for Knit Us Together and actually enjoy the next month instead of knitting furiously in every free moment.  Then I'll have a fun weekend cuddling my niece and sharing my passion for Wheaton.  

My sister also pointed out yesterday that I could always sign up for a different craft fair...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Race

Did you catch that little statement about the 5K?  I ran one this weekend!  My best friend convinced me to sign up with her, and since it was a) on a Saturday and b) benefiting a Christian school that our friends helped start, I decided to do it.

The verdict?  It wasn't too bad, but I probably won't be signing up for one on my own.  I had a lot of fun because my friend was there, and we got to hang out before and after the race.  If she wanted to do another one, I'd sign up in a heartbeat. 

The day was perfect for a race--cool but sunny--and the route itself wasn't too bad ( a little sandy at the beginning, but a nice flat stretch for the second half).  Still, I had to run, and the race part didn't get me that much more excited than I usually am (not much).  My goal was to finish in under 30 minutes, which I totally did (by 30 seconds).  If I wanted to go much faster than that, I'd have to do some training, which I don't really want to do.  I'm still content to do my 30 minutes, three times a week.  :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Yes, still waiting

It's National Day in China, which means a week of celebrating for the whole country.  It also means the Chinese adoption agency is closed for the week, so no possibility of files for at least a week. 

We are settling into our fall routine, but there is always that thought in the back of my head--could this be the day or the week?  We don't even know what our daughter looks like.  I'm sure once we do, it will be even harder to wait patiently. 

Still, the cool mornings herald the progression of seasons, and I'm sure we'll be raking leaves soon.  Christmas will come, and another year will be gone.  Each day we are given is a gift from God, and waiting or not, we will try to use it for His glory. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Before I forget

I guess I left you hanging a little last weekend, since I had only gotten through one of our three events.  #2 was a ministry event for Wings (www.wingsministry.org).  We visit different prisons around NM and put on a party for the inmates and their families.  It's always the same schedule--opening games and singing, a Bible story (Anne's favorite is Noah and the Ark), craft time for the inmates and their children and discussion for the families, then food and more games. 

It's always amazing to see the families together.  Some of them haven't even seen each other or interacted in years, and even if they visit regularly, the parties are a much more relaxed atmosphere than regular visiting.  Now that I'm not nursing a child, David and I take turns helping out at the parties (no volunteer children allowed).  While it's not easy to spend one of our weekend days apart, it's always encouraging to help these families have a chance to spend a weekend day together. 

They are always looking for more volunteers and support, so if you're in the Albuquerque area and are interested in serving, let me know! 

The membership lunch at church was the last thing on our weekend plate, and it was pretty low-key.  We weren't in charge of anything, just helping, and it was fun to see the variety of food for the potluck.  So, we survived, and it's been nice to have not much planned this weekend.  Except for a 5K race!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I'm Back!

When I shared yesterday's post on Facebook, I wrote that I felt like Lucy coming out of the wardrobe, shouting "I'm back, I'm back!"  I told my parents that we didn't have internet because my mom has been working on a business card for me, but other than that, I don't think anyone knew I was 'gone.' 

Three days is not that long to be off the internet, but I did begin to feel a little worried about missing something important.  I began wondering if I'd remembered to pay the bills (which we do almost exclusively online), and of course, who knew what was being sent to my email!

No referral files, in case you're wondering.

There were less important things too, like not being able to check with weather before my run, the recipes I mentioned yesterday, and needing to look up a stretchy bind-off for my latest knitting project.  At least I got a lot of knitting done, although again, I couldn't watch Star Trek while I knit because, ah, no Amazon Instant Video. 

I'm supposed to do some kind of media fast in both of the Bible studies I'm doing this semester, so this has been a good dry run.  It's amazing how many times I found myself sitting down at the computer, only to find I couldn't do the things I normally do.  With a little more intentionality to this endeavor, I may find that limiting the internet would actually be an improvement to our lives.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Disconnected

Our internet went out on Sunday.  To be exact, it was actually our DSL modem that went out, and when David tried four stores and couldn't find one, we were stuck waiting for a new one to come in the mail.

It was quite disconcerting to be so disconnected from everything.  I actually had a pending Etsy order, so I hauled my printer over to my sister's so I could print out the shipping label.  My cooking plans were sabotaged by my lack of access to the recipes I chose online (David said, at one point, "What did you use for recipes before you had the internet?").  Yes, I have cookbooks--I just hadn't planned on using them.  :) 

But life continued, and now we're back, fully connected with the world again!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

One down, two to go

This weekend is busy for us.  Although I didn't necessarily plan on having all these things on one weekend, now that we're a third of the way through it, it doesn't seem too bad. 

Last night I provided desserts for a special event at our church.  Give Her Life is a relatively new ministry focused on the problems of gendercide--basically the devaluation, infanticide, and fetecide of girls.  The organizer showed a film about the problem in India and China, and while the film was very well made, it was pretty devastating.  I kept thinking how blessed I and my sisters and my daughter are to be in the US.  I probably wouldn't be here if our family was Chinese, and while I might have survived in India, there's no guarantee.

Right now Give Her Life is focused on research and awareness of the problems, but eventually they are hoping to provide business and educational opportunities for women.  If a woman is educated and able to earn money, there's a better chance she will be valued in her community.

Here is the website if you're interested in learning more:  www.giveherlife.org

I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the desserts.  :)  We served a little shot glass of Chocolate Truffle Mousse, a little cookie with white chocolate pastry cream, caramel drizzle, and toffee bits, and a pastry bite with lemon curd and a blueberry on top.  They were very well received. 

Now, I'm on my way to a Wings prison party, and then tomorrow we're helping out with the membership lunch.  One down, two to go!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Word-little Wednesday.

Wordless is a stretch for me...but I like the picture ideas for busy weeks.  :)  Especially when you have such great subjects!






Sunday, September 15, 2013

Clockwork

I have this idea that eventually, I will figure out structures and habits that make my life run more smoothly.  I will wake up in the morning and have a plan in place for the day that gets everything done that needs doing.  Meal planning is part of it--there's nothing like the 4PM panic of not know what will be on the table for dinner--and I've been trying out a daily list of cleaning tasks so my floors don't get too nasty.  The next big thing is adding Katie's "school" into the mix.  She won't be 4 until February, but she's definitely ready for something a little more structured. 

This quest has been ongoing, but I especially feel some pressure as I consider the addition of a third child.  As always, I wonder if I'd feel differently if we were birthing another child.  I guess I'd have a better idea of what to expect with an infant, and I've done it twice before.  With adoption, it's so hard to know what the transition period will be like, not to mention the special needs aspects.  Who knows how many surgeries or what kind of therapy she'll need?

I have this idea that if my normal life runs like clockwork, I won't have to think about keeping it going while I deal with this new addition.  (insert maniacal laughter)

Is that such an unreasonable expectation?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Multiplying and Dividing

Have you ever noticed how some things just tend to multiply without any effort on your part?  I remember the first time I bought a mug.  David and I were just married, living in a tiny efficiency suite at his officer training.  The kitchen was smaller than our current guest bathroom and consisted of a microwave, a small fridge, and a tiny sink.  I think we may have bought it so I could drink my coffee in a mug, or maybe for microwaving water. 

I've bought very few mugs since then--maybe just the ones that came with our dish set.  And yet, my mug cupboard is overflowing, despite my recent purge on behalf of my sister.  I doubt I will ever buy another mug in my life, and I'm confident I will have to do more purges to keep them under control. 

I have also bought hangers once in my life, and through various events and circumstances, I now have hundreds of them.  When salespeople ask if I want the hanger, I politely say no thank you. 

Pens and hair-things, on the other hand, must have specific black holes that follow them around and swallow them up.  I don't even want to consider how many I've bought in my life, and how many more I will need to purchase.  My hair-things tend to hang around for longer periods now, but Katie's take on a life of their own and must wander off to foreign lands.  At least pens have the excuse of sometimes running out of ink, but I know I have lost more than I've used up. 

What tends to multiply or disappear in your house?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Filling Up the Time

September always seems to be a very transitional month to me.  Even when I was in school, September was filled with getting the new schedule down and settling in, watching fall finally breeze its way past summer, and switching out to the appropriate wardrobe. 

Our fall transition was postponed by a lovely week-long visit with the grandparents, but this week has been focused on all the things I've signed up for and committed to--like teaching my class (very important to remember) and making it to Katie's new gymnastics time (today! not Friday!).  We'll have it all down by October.  

I find myself looking at our calendar and wondering whether I have overloaded our schedule, but then I remind myself that a) at least the time will go by faster and b) we have purposely planned very little next semester in preparation for our trip to China.  A friend mentioned the importance of scheduling seasons of rest to balance out busy times.  Unless there's a miraculously fast timeline to our adoption, we probably won't be traveling until the spring, which gives us a space--a season--after Christmas to rest and prepare for the upheaval of our life.  

I would gladly trade that for a miraculously fast timeline, though!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Too fast

When Luke was a baby, it was hard for me to imagine him as a little boy.  I'm not sure why, especially since I had a toddler hanging around already (granted, she was a girl, but still).  And now it's here--he really is a little boy. He loves trains.  Here he is watching the trains at our local gardens, and the highlight of his week with the grandparents was riding the train to Santa Fe. 


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Busy having fun!

I try not to let too many days go by without writing a blog post, partly so you don't forget about me and partly so I don't forget about you.  Blogging seems to be one of those things where the longer you leave it, the harder it gets to get back to it.  I've been quiet on here because we've been busy in life--Grandpa and Grandma are here!  There are so many things to do while they are here visiting, which leaves me a bit tired for writing.  We enjoyed a hike at the Rio Grande Nature Preserve for Labor Day and had ribs in the park for our church picnic, spent some time hanging out with Aunt Susie, and visited the Aquarium and Botanical Gardens.  We've still got a train ride to Santa Fe planned (Luke is still deeply in the locomotion phase), along with a few other things.  Maybe I'll post some pictures at the end of the week with our favorites.  :)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A runner, I guess

It's been a year since I downloaded the first podcast of "Couch to 5K."  For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's an 8 week running program designed for absolute novices.  I wasn't an absolute novice, but I think the last time I had gone running was in college.  There was one summer in high school where I ran regularly, but even in college, I was an occasional runner. 

It started when my friend Beth kept talking about how much she loved running.  Like me, she was an 'I hate running' kind of person, and then all of a sudden, she started singing its praises.  She told me about this program she did, and how now she loved running, and she was going to start training for a 10K next.  I was almost 1 year post-baby and still hanging on to some weight, and I knew I needed to get back into exercising regularly.  Running seemed like the best option, and if I could get to the point where I'd actually like it, so much the better. 

Although Beth was my inspiration, I never could have done it without David.  He tirelessly encouraged me to keep at it (and still does)--and of course he was watching the kids the whole time I was training.  I worked my way up to 30 minutes, and while the winter was a bit touch and go, I'm still running 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week.

I wish I could say I like it, but as I was commenting to David this morning before my run, I can't think of one time where I was excited to go running.  But I still go, helped by the fact that my definition of a good run is one where I get out the door.  :)  So I guess that makes me a runner. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Stirrings

Over the last few months, I feel like I've had a pretty good handle on my waiting.  I've posted about patience and while that post was focused on Jesus' return, it applies to dealing with shorter waits too.  For whatever reason, this week has been harder.  In my head I know it maybe six months before we see that face, but it's human nature to anticipate the longest odds--that I will open my inbox tomorrow or answer the phone to discover that our referral is ready.   I don't know if it's because several of my friends have either given birth or on the cusp of it, we've hit some big milestones in our journey, or I've just run out of my store of patience.  I'm knitting a shawl pattern called Chinese Lace, and while I have an idea of posing Katie with it, I keep imagining a little black haired girl in the picture.  I feel my heart stirring, and I realize once again that my daughter is out there somewhere, definitely alive at this point, being cared for by someone else instead of at home with us.  I think about how crazy it will be to actually travel to China, and I imagine how incredible it will feel to hold her in my arms.  And I haven't even seen a picture yet!  How will I handle it once we have seen her face?


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Drum Roll Please...

We are officially logged in to the Chinese system!!  "LID" is a big milestone because it doesn't expires, so we won't have to worry about redoing any paperwork.  It also means that when we get a referral for our little girl, we'll be able to move to the next step right away.

This seems like a good time to review where's we've been--it's hard to believe it's been six months, although that's exactly the timeline we were given for these steps.  :)

Agency Application:  Februrary 14, 2013

Homestudy Application: February 22, 2013
First Homestudy Interview:  April 7, 2013
Completed Homestudy:  May 17, 2013
Application Received at USCIS:  May 21, 2013
USCIS Fingerprinting Appointment:  June 24, 2013
USCIS I800A Approval:  July 17, 2013
Dossier to China (DTC):  August 13, 2013
Log-In Date (LID):  August 27, 2013


From what I understand, our next step is the referral.  As I've said many times before on this blog, given our desire for at least a six-month gap between Luke and our daughter, this may take a while.  Once we get a referral, the Chinese government will send us an official Letter of Acceptance (LOA).  After the LOA comes more US Immigrations (an I-800), and once everything is taken care of on this side, I think the next step is travel authorization (TA) to head to China and get our little girl!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Teaching Time


It's funny how the summer makes me forget how much I love teaching chemistry.  It takes me a while to even bother checking when the fall semester starts, and ones like this fall, where I'm just teaching lab, really tend to sneak up on me.

But as I drove over for my office hour this morning--not even actual teaching--I could feel that excitement building.  I just really love chemistry, and even though the material doesn't change for General Chemistry, I still get that sense of amazement and wonder every time.  The insights early chemists had into the atom are just astounding, and it's really incredible to think that now we can see actually see those atoms.  I wish I could convince my students to read about the development of the periodic table--an incredible journey with so many twists and turns.  I'll not bore you with the intricacies of ionic compound formation and unit conversion, but to me, they all have their charms.

This semester I'm just teaching one lab.  Last year I taught two lecture classes--lots of fun (see above paragraph), but also more work.  Lab is much easier to prep for, and I like having more interactions with the students.  For this first week, I don't even have a real lecture to present.  It will mostly be housekeeping stuff like telling all the extra students I'm not allowed to overfill, explaining that I can meet with students another time if the 8AM Monday morning office hour is too early, and of course, showing the circa 1980s safety film (the same one I watch during my first lab almost 20 years ago).  Ouch.  Was that really almost 20 years ago? 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

His Blessings Flow

David and I will be married 10 years this Christmas.  Now that we're not so tethered to our children (well, I'm not), we've been able to spend a night away at Christmas while visiting my parents.  But we don't like taking a lot of time away from family (that's the point of visiting, after all), so we decided to do a little getaway this summer.  My sister graciously offered to use one of her precious weekends off to watch the kids while David and I drove up to Taos.

It was really lovely to get away from the heat and enjoy some time in the mountains (our lodge was in the Taos Ski Valley).  We spent one morning rafting down the Rio Grande--it was pretty mild in terms of the rapids, but fun for a first-timer!  I wish we'd had more time to do some hiking, but maybe next time.  The concierge recommended a little German restaurant up the road from our lodge...and when I say up the road, I mean a very steep incline!  It's 4wd access only in the winter, and there were a few turns where I was gripping my seat.  :)  I'm not much for heights, but the food was delicious.  We visited a yarn shop (for me) and a Japanese tea shop (for David).  There was a craft fair in the plaza, so we found some beautiful hand-blown glass earrings for my sister as a thank-you gift.  Overall, it was a very relaxing time together, and I'm glad we were able to get away before our family grows again. 

We've been incredibly blessed in our marriage--each year has been better than the last.  I'm excited to see what this next year will bring!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's That Time of The Year

I am a winter kind of girl.  I was talking with someone this weekend about the seasons, and I mentioned that I'd love to live somewhere that never gets over 70 degrees.  I love the winter wardrobe, the drinks, the food, the weather.  Incessant sunshine can get to be a bit much, and I find myself wishing for horizon-to-horizon cloud cover every once in a while.  Perhaps it's my Midwest upbringing, but there's something right about tilled brown earth and white, cottony skies for a season.  I love the opportunity to examine trees and marvel over the intricate lacy branches, set against a soft background.  I suppose incessant winter would get old too, but it might take me a while.  I'm glad we live in the high desert so we can enjoy four seasons, but I do reach a point in the summer when I'm just ready for a little bite to the breeze and a few more clouds. 

I'm very appreciative of the fact that our summer this year has been so mild, and it's probably contributed to the timing of this post (now, as opposed to the middle of July).  But as I hefted a large onion this morning at the grocery store, I found myself thinking, "This would be great in a big pot of stew..."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Where are the files?

I've been fielding some questions about exactly how the file matching works.  I've been somewhat surprised by the lack of anxiety I've felt over waiting for a file, especially now that we've seen one.  A gift from God, I'm sure.  I'm sure it also helps that I do have two small children, a house, teaching starting in a week, and other things to keep me busy. 

From what I understand, the Chinese agency posts what's called the 'shared list' at random intervals.  This is a list of children who are available to be matched, but I think it goes out to all the agencies who handle China adoptions.  What ends up happening is our fantastic person over at the agency sits and, fast as she can, scans the files, figures out if the child is a match for a family from our agency, and then tries to 'lock' it before another agency does.  It sounds terribly stressful.  It's unlikely we will get a match from this list, although I suppose anything is possible.  At the very least, I'm pretty sure we have to be LID to get a lock. 

Thankfully our agency has been able to cultivate a partnership with three specific orphanages in China.  When the orphanages have files ready, they send the 'partner list' to our agency first.  The file we looked at was from the latest partner list--I think there were five files that came along.  It's more likely we will receive a match from that list, but a) we need to get another partner list, which also happens at random intervals, and b) there has to be a baby girl that fits our special needs.  Most children seem to get on the list when they are 18-24 months old...if you do the math, that means for even a six month gap between our daughter and Luke, we're looking at October (he'll be two then).  If we only see 20-24 month-olds on the list, then we're looking at a match closer to Christmas or even later.  We were very aware of this potential for a long wait when we started the process, but I think I'll still get a little excited when the next partner list comes out!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Etsy again!

Amidst everything else (I still haven't shared about Taos!), I've been trying to build up my etsy shop.

Just as an aside--how many of you would say 'grow my shop?'  I feel like the verb 'grow' has taken on some weird usages.  Grow my business? Grow a group? Plants grow, a farmer grows crops...anyway, it just sounds wrong to me sometimes.

Back to Etsy. Between the actual knitting, photos, listings, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc., etc., it's a bit of time.  I definitely feel like this time is worth spending, especially now that 50% of the sales are going to fund grants through our agency.  But there are a few things I'm still considering as far as the shop goes.

Take a look at these pictures--which one would inspire you to buy that poncho?


Isn't she adorable!!  But what to do about privacy?  I could get a PO box, which I need to at least investigate.  I could also ask other friends to model, giving all the pictures a measure of anonymity--probably my best bet.  I could also, as David suggested, not worry about the ridiculously minute possibility that something bad would happen because of our lack of privacy.  :)

There's also the advertising.  I think I've about reached my 'reach' for subtly suggesting that people 'like' Knit Us Together on Facebook.  My mom suggested recruiting ambassadors to help spread the word, but as a solid introvert, the thought of doing that is a little nerve-wracking.  Maybe I'll give it another month or two.  :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The 100th Post?

It's hard for me to really count this as my 100th blog entry, since I wrote 36 blog posts in 2009 and then took an extended break.  But Blogger doesn't count extended breaks, and it was kind of fun to take a look back at my life before kids.  It seems I had just as much love for Nathaniel Bowditch, although the "recipe with pictures" kind of post has taken a serious hit.  :)  I was a bit more ambitious in my recipes, but if I follow my advice and make it with farfalle, this one might be worth revisiting.  Roast chicken never grows old, although last night I made it with bread under the chicken (to die for, although less than healthy!).  I could probably recreate this picture quite easily without a baby to show for it.  :)

Of course some things have changed.  We ended up attending Northside for several years, but sadly it closed last fall.  We're very happy at our new church, and we're excited to see how God will use our time at Northside to prepare us for the future.  I've switched crafts, although I'd love to revisit my embroidery roots.  We have actually made progress on the house, both inside and out.  Perhaps I should say David has, since the bulk of it has been thanks to his efforts.  But the biggest change is the best, and most fun, and most delightful.  We're so excited to see the next addition to our family--here's hoping we get our match before the next 100 posts!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

DTC and the summer crops

I guess heading off into the mountains is still good for the writer's soul.  :)  Sometimes blogging is feast or famine, and this week it's a feast of potential blog posts to write.  I have some great news from the Etsy shop, an update about our weekend in Taos (hence the mountains), thoughts from a church service, and the results of our summer crops, amid a few other nascent ideas.

But first, an adoption update...we got the email yesterday that our dossier is on it's way to China!  For me, the wait is still the wait until our daughter is home, but it's nice to reach a milestone along the journey.  Our next big milestone is getting our Log-In Date (or LID), which our counselor said should take around 4 weeks. 

And now about our summer crops...  Our peach tree had a rough spring/summer, so the crop was way down.  I haven't even googled peach recipes once.  :(  We've had upwards of 2000+ peaches in the past, but I doubt we even had a quarter of that this year.  I'm sorry to all those who usually come pick, as it's a pleasure for us to share our bounty.  I canned some of the better ones--thankfully not all of them were rotten--but we're practically down to the end already.  At least this year hasn't had the urgency and pressure of dealing with all the peaches, but it's still pretty sad.

I also tried my hand at canning tomatoes.  It was a lot of work for 7 pints of tomatoes.  When you hear about those people who save money by couponing, gardening, etc., remember that they probably aren't paying themselves for their time.  I'm going to make roasted tomato soup out of the next batch from the garden (http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/1952487-Roasted-Tomato-Soup-Pesto-Mozzarella-Dippers), and I think next year we'll stick with cherry tomatoes and some San Marzano for pizza sauce.

If you've made it this far, I'll end with my resurrecting eggplant.  We bought a bunch of tomatoes and one eggplant, all of which were growing quite well.  I came out one day to find the eggplant had snapped at the base (a cat, maybe?), and resigned myself to store-bought eggplant for the rest of the summer.  Lo and behold, it grew back and is now covered with blossoms!  I'm hoping to get some by the time my parents visit.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Constant One

Yesterday I canned peaches and tomatoes to an old favorite:  Listen, by Michelle Tumes.  It was released in 1998, and I can still remember how much I loved hearing "Please Come Back" on the radio.  I ended up buying the CD (I say CD because that's how I listened to it--with a CD player), and hearing it yesterday brought back so many memories.  I took it with me on our camping trip to Michigan, and I remember listening to it on the pier when I woke up before everyone else.  "Please Come Back" took me to a car ride in our old Suburban, looking out into an impossible blue sky and marveling at the height of the clouds.  It was the soundtrack to my life that summer. 

As I listened to this song, I was struck by how much things have changed since then.  I hadn't been accepted to college yet, much less met David.  Since then I've moved to the southwest, gone to grad school, flown around the world, and have been married almost 10 years.  I have two little people with my eyes, and one halfway around the world with my heart.  I am thankful God has held me and kept me through it all, and will continue to do so in our journey ahead.  


Monday, August 12, 2013

The True Wait

This summer my women's Bible study did a book on patience.  After all, who doesn't need more patience, especially when it comes to small children?  I was certainly hoping to learn techniques on how to be more patient with my two children, but I came away with a different lesson.  When you look at the verses about patience in the New Testament, they don't usually reference your offspring.  We studied several passages where Paul and James remind the early church to wait patiently for Christ's return.  The early church still had people there who had heard Jesus speak, walked with Him, watched Him die, and saw Him return to heaven.  It must have been hard to listen to their stories and wish for the same experiences.  And as far as they knew, Jesus would be returning soon, hence the apostles' reminders to wait patiently.  

So what does it mean to wait patiently?  Paul and James were reminding the early church that they couldn't just always look to the clouds and ignore their everyday life.  Unfortunately, the waiting part isn't really optional.  I couldn't make David's deployment go faster when he was in Iraq, I couldn't speed up my pregnancies, and I can't make the adoption happen sooner.  It's the patiently part where we have a choice.  Do we get anxious, or do we trust in God?  Do we obsess about the future, or do we focus on what's happening now?  As part of the Bible study, we talked several times about how to live each day as part of the wait, rather than focusing on the waiting itself.  All I have to do is look at Luke to be reminded of how quickly the time will pass.  :)

But this study has also reminded me that all these little things we wait for (like the adoption) are just part of the journey.  Our true wait is for that moment when the glory is revealed in us, when our bondage to decay is released, and we are finally home.  I am excited for the future and all that God has planned.  I try to live each day as God gives them to me, focusing on accomplishing the things he has for me right now.  But woven in among all that is this:  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sitting with the Big Kids

When our kids started eating solid food, we found the traditional high chair didn't work well.  Our kids were too short--the tray hit right around their chin.  Since we used 'baby-led weaning' or self feeding whole foods right away, instead of doing the puree/chunky/whole food route, we really needed a tray they could reach.  Instead, we used the little chairs that fasten onto a big chair.  It was a win-win all the way around: the kids could reach the food, it took up less space, and when Katie transitioned to the big table, it worked great as a booster chair.
We just made the same transition for Luke.  I'm still somewhat in disbelief that he's big enough to do this, but he insisted he was ready to sit at the table without the tray.  So far it's been fine, albeit slightly messier under the table.  Here's the proof:


 
(Katie wanted to know why I wasn't taking her picture)


On the one hand, this is great.  I have a few milestones in my head that I hope Luke reaches before #3 arrives, and we're making fantastic progress on them.  We're definitely past the "first response to everything is no" stage.  He's already using sentences, and by the time she arrives, I think he'll be able to express himself well.  Some level of self-sufficiency will make things a little easier when I need to focus completely on our adopted daughter.
On the other hand, my baby is growing up!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Long View

We're trying to figure out how to rearrange our living room to fit our new couch and loveseat.  It's kind of an awkwardly shaped room, especially since we have a fireplace at one end.  It's gotten us thinking about how we use the living room, how we may want to change that, and how we can rearrange everything to fit our every day lives. 
I've been wanting a new couch for a long time.  The ones we have are great, but the arms are really high--meaning I can't put my coffee down on an end table in the morning.  No coffee table for us, since we need a big clear space for dance parties.  We finally saved up enough in our household budget to go shopping, and we settled on a nice dark brown couch.  They were having a sale with free delivery, but we had to spend a certain amount.  We waffled over getting an additional chair until my sister pointed out the long view:
We will have three children soon (maybe four at some point), and eventually, they will want to sit on a couch too.  Couches last a while--we've had our current one for 10 years.  These new couches will probably hold my children when they hear The Chronicles of Narnia read aloud to them, and where they will watch Star Wars: A New Hope for the first time.  I'm sure there will be a day when one child is laying sick on the couch, and the rest of us will want a place to sit. 
So we bought the loveseat too.  Now to find a place to put everything...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Not Quite Yet

In the middle of VBS week, I got a voice message from our counselor at the agency.  Did I want to look at a file?  You know that moment before the drop, when your heart goes up in your throat?  When I called her back, it got a little more complicated.  She called us to ask because everything in the file matched with our profile except the little girl's age.  Her birthday was three days after Luke's.  This began an agonizing three day process. 
Twinning a biological child is always a possibility in adopting.  Despite what they say about recommending a year gap between children, neither the Chinese government nor the agency has any hard rules about it.  We've definitely heard of people who choose to twin a biological child on purpose.  Although David has always joked about wanting twins, we decided from the very beginning that we didn't want to twin Luke, even if it meant waiting a lot longer.  Most children show up in the system when they are 18-24 months old, so that means we honestly could be waiting another year for the right match. 
Of course, deciding is one thing when you're at the very beginning, another thing when you are looking at a photo of a beautiful little girl.  So we reconsidered.  Asked for advice.  Prayed.  Pondered.  The whole time I felt so anxious--why would God send us this child if we were supposed to decline the match?  Thankfully God has also sent us some wise people who have experience in adopting.  We heard from a family who also had to say no.  The decision was equally painful for them, but it gave them the opportunity to process everything, trust God, and know for sure when the file for their children came along.
Looking back, it's kind of funny that I wrote this post, since I should have gone back and read this post.  We finally decided not to accept the match, praying that God would give us peace about the decision.  And He graciously has.  We trust in His sovereignty for us and for this little girl--He has a family for her, and He has a daughter for us. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Comfort and Rest

Luke is teething.  If there is one developmental stage I would happily skip, it's this one.  The drool, the nose, the fussiness...thank goodness they don't remember it!  He's always been a great sleeper, but we still have times like today when he cries out in his sleep, fussy before it's really time to get up.  I love that my arms are a place of comfort to him, and that he will rock back to sleep (maybe with a dose of ibuprofen to help...).  Every night I sing to him from the hymnal, and he sits, cuddled in my arms, drowsing towards sleep.  Both my kids are cuddlers, and I like it.  I definitely wonder if our daughter will be a cuddler, and how long it will take for her to find comfort in my arms.  We'll have to take it one step at a time, but I hope it doesn't take too long.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

And We're Back!

It's been a long few weeks.  Between traveling, the plague, a cold that followed, and VBS, Katie has learned that 'absolutely beat' is a fancy word for saying tired.  We've also gotten into the Fancy Nancy books.  :)  After a stretch like this, it's hard to believe there is a normal to get back to, since I know things could (and will) get crazy again.  But if there is, we are working on it this week.  Here's a little update on two things I've been thinking about:

Adoption:  We are a few 'stamps' away from sending everything to China!  Of course, this being 2013, I think everything gets uploaded into their system.  Once that happens, we'll have to wait until a) a batch of files arrives at our agency from China and b) a batch arrives that has a file to match our profile.  Since we are hoping for a girl who is younger than Luke, we may have to wait through a couple batches.

Etsy Shop:  I've added more items!  And that's about it, although I spent some time this morning ready about how to optimize my search terms, improve my item descriptions, and utilize my FB page.  I was this close to exiting FB completely...  Anyway, now I'm debating whether to host a giveaway on the FB page to increase my likes.  On the one hand, it's a great way to do that.  On the other hand, I read that the likes don't tend to be quality ones (like yours!).  If you'd like to join my sales team, feel free to like Knit Us Together and share some of the posts.  :)  My mom is coming to visit in September, and she does marketing for her job.  So we'll have some fun working on my shop together. 

There's more, but I need to get ready to go running this morning (missed it all last week because of VBS).  I'll leave you with these--David brought roses home for me yesterday to help me get back on track.