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. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Waiting in Faithfulness

There comes a time, every summer, when I look at our peach tree and think, "they are so little! when will they get big? will they be big enough when they are ripe?"  We had one year, early on, when we had tons (and I mean thousands) of tiny peaches that weren't so great.  That was before we learned about pruning the blossoms and what truly ripe really meant.  Now we know that pruning the blossoms ruthlessly allows the remaining peaches to soak up all that energy and get really big and delicious.  And we know that there will be time enough to pick the peaches that aren't quite at the perfectly ripe stage. 
But still, I wonder.  It's not like the peach tree has promised it'll come through every year.  And even this year, it looks like we lost about 1/3 of the peaches (after the pruning) to something.  But today I saw the rosy color had appeared on some peaches, and I walked over to the tree and just like always, they seemed so much bigger than the last time I checked.  We even found one that was soft and warm, ready enough to eat!  I don't think we'll put up as many peaches as last year (55 pint jars, not to mention everything that went in the freezer), but I think we will have a delicious crop to deal with in the next few weeks.  And I'm sure there will come a time, as it does every summer, when I look at the 100+ peaches on the counter and think, "What in the world?!"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


There are a few songs that I've noticed on the radio recently.  "Reckless" is one (by Jeremy Camp), and I just heard "Dangerous" this weekend (by Group 1 Crew).  "Live With Abandon" is almost in this group, and I feel like there is one more that I'm forgetting.  They have a great sentiment--don't be afraid to live your life for Christ--but I have issues with how they phrase it.  First of all, it should be "I want to live dangerous-LY."  Secondly, let's take an example from the life of Moses (our guy for VBS this week).  It seems to me that he was living his life most dangerously when he was NOT following God.  He tried to fulfill God's plan on his timing and in his way, and it got him a murder charge (warranted) and a trip to the desert.  And how would you describe his actions?  Maybe "without thinking or caring about the consequences" or in other words, reckless? 

Yes, we should do all the things described in these songs:  Risk it all for God, lay down our lives for Him, give Him all that we are.  Why?  Because the SAFEST place to be is directly in His will, following His guidance.  I don't think God wants us to barrel thoughtlessly into whatever we think might be His will at the moment.  I don't think it's that easy to discern His will, although I wish it were.  A lot of people think we're brave/crazy for adopting, and occasionally I feel that sentiment as well.  :)  But it's not a reckless action.  We've thought long and hard about this decision, and we feel that it's God's will in so many ways.  And if you've thoughtfully, prayerfully, and with wisdom and advice from others believe you've figured out what God wants you to do, you definitely don't have to be dangerous or reckless about it.  You just do it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

VBS and Adopting

This week is VBS at our church.  There was a time many years ago when I designed a week-long VBS program for a missions trip.  Let's just say, this one is a little more impressive.  :)  The overall theme, the crafts, the stories, the everything that comes with a packaged curriculum is pretty cool.  And we have some people at our church who did an amazing job on the decorations.  I'm doing the story time for four classes (with another person, thankfully), and even though I didn't teach yesterday, I was a bit tired from being on my feet all morning. 
Before everything got started, though, I ran into a friend who was dropping of two of her kids.  The third was too young for the program, and she was kidding about not knowing what to do with one child anymore.  And when she did have one child (as opposed to her three now), it was WAY harder.  You may remember the first time you ever packed a diaper bag--it probably weighed more than your newborn.  You had 6 outfits in case your child had 6 blowouts, along with twice as many diapers.  If you were super prepared, you even had a change of clothes for yourself.  ;)  Now, with the third, you put diapers and wipes in the car because occasionally, you forget the whole bag.  With the second on it's way, you wondered how you'll ever get in and out of the car with two kids (mine are 20 months apart, so the thought did cross my mind).  Lo and behold, I did manage to run errands. 
We parted ways and went about our business, but a similar thought crossed my mind when I was preparing dinner (from the freezer, because I was beat).  I wondered how, if I was so tired now, I would deal with a third child.  The answer is, like that first child, I would never attempt to do VBS while acclimating an adopted third child into our home.  In many ways, I'm anticipating our daughter like a first child.  I'm already thinking about all the freezer meals I'll put up, and how I'll have to fit in all my shopping in the evenings and on weekends--there will be no 'we' for shopping expeditions.  I'm trying to figure out how to survive a whole day at home with no outings (no outings = more opportunities to make messes at home).  I'm so glad our backyard is just about done, because I figure we'll be outside more often.  While all this may be overkill when the time comes, I find it's better to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.  :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

In the Meantime, A Visitor...

I've mentioned before that I'm not much of a gardener, but it seems to be going better this time around.  So much better, in fact, that my mistake of planting too many tomatoes in our little plot has gotten a bit out of control. 

Apparently I should have gotten 8 ft stakes instead of 4 ft ones, and I also should have gotten twice as many.  As I was attempting to impose some order on the plot, I came across a little visitor.  It's possible that I freaked out a little.  When you're expecting to grab a tomato branch and you get pretty close to grabbing this big guy instead, wouldn't you freak out too?  I'd like to point out that it was about 4 inches long and the diameter of a little Smokie.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Next Step: More Waiting!

We got an email from our agency counselor yesterday, followed by our letter in the mail today:  the I-800A has come through!  That's the followup paperwork from our fingerprinting.  It only has two more stops in government offices before we can send it to China...so more waiting.  I told her that I knew the next step is waiting for a great many steps, but it's nice to see some progress.  :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Letters to My Future Self

David and I are working our way through Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  I won't bore you with why it's such a great show, but we really enjoy watching it.  In the last episode that we watched, the Enterprise was stuck in a temporal loop where they relived the same events over and over again (a la Groundhog Day).  In order to escape it, they had to send a message to their future selves with the solution. 
It definitely reminded me of one of my reasons for doing this blog.  I've done a fair number of posts enumerating some of my concerns about the unknown nature of this adoption.  Although there have been times when I've felt anxious about it, most of the time I'm able to set that anxiety aside (thanks, David!).  I've learned over the years that being anxious about the future is a) pointless and b) kind of counterproductive.  At the same time, I know there will be times once we bring our daughter home when I will be anxious or worried or wonder why in the world we did this.  My mom has told me from time to time:  Do not doubt in the dark what you know to be true in the light.  I hope that when the darkness comes, I can look back at these posts and be reminded of the truth.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The God of Angel Armies

I was talking yesterday with my sister about our favorite songs on the radio.  David and I tend to listen mostly to Air1 (an alternative Christian station), but my sister mixes in some KLove and Pandora too.  I told her one of my favorites right now is Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin.  It's a little slow for her tastes, but I've always felt encouraged when it comes on the radio.  I know it's because we are facing so much that is unknown in this adoption.  The biggest one for me is attachment.  Sure, there are unknowns that come with a normal pregnancies, but unless something is really wrong, your infant will probably attach to you pretty easily.  We're facing everything from 'hardly any time at all' to reactive attachment disorder.  Eating is another one--even though she'll be around 18 months, she probably won't be able to eat solid food.  Who knows when that transition will occur and how much trouble she'll have?  And then there's the whole special needs part.  It's possible that we'll go to China expecting one special need and discover that we're dealing with something else, or get home and find out it's much worse than we expected.  But even though it's more 'what' than 'whom' for us, when the God of angel armies is by your side, there is nothing to fear.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Minding the Shop

First of all, thank you to everyone who has looked at my shop, shared and liked on Facebook, and commented on it.  It's pretty exciting to see the view counter go up (everything has stats these days)!  I have to admit, I've been feeling a little apprehensive since I opened the shop.  On the one hand, I just want to open my shop, list things as I knit them, and leave it at that.  On the other hand, I have a lot of yarn, and while I'm hoping to raise a little money for our adoptions, my dream is to eventually use the shop to support other adoptions (either with money or donations to auctions, etc).  That would require selling more than just a few things, which is more likely to happen if I make a concerted effort to promote the shop.  Of course, promoting the shop means moving beyond my little circle of friends, which means asking everyone to share the shop with their circles.  I'm also not super comfortable with promoting myself, although I need to remember that there are plenty of people who want to support us in our adoption journey.
I need to think about a few more things too, now that I've opened it.  I wonder if it was easier or harder to have an etsy shop before there were all these venues for advertising--I realized today that I haven't even tapped into Pinterest.  I didn't give much thought to special orders.  Several people have mentioned newborn items, and I figured out today that I haven't made many newborn items because I don't have a newborn to size them on.  :)  I had an awesome (commercial) pair of booties/slippers that I used with Luke, and I've been meaning to design a knitted version.  Time to get on that! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Knit Us Together

Well, it's finally live:

Thanks again to Sharilyn for the awesome name.  :)  I also have a Facebook page, although it looks a bit bare at the moment.  One of the top ten pieces of advice on opening an etsy shop is to actually open it, so you might see some changes in the next few weeks as I fine tune the text and pictures.  I'm also absolutely open to any suggestions on how to make the shop look nicer, sound more enticing, etc.  Maybe in a few days, you could tell everyone you know about it too.  :)

I run out to check the mail every day, but nothing has arrived from Homeland Security.  We are waiting for confirmation paperwork on our fingerprints.  Once we get that and send it to our agency, I think they can submit all our paperwork to China!

And an update on the plague house...David is on day 4 of his bout with hand, foot, and mouth, and Luke is on day 6.  Katie and I are still blister-free, and I hope it stays that way.  The blisters don't seem to bother Luke, but poor David has them all over the bottom of his feet.  He's been quarantined from work until Monday, so at least we've been able to enjoy having him home.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Post-Vacation Crash

We had a wonderful visit with David's family last week.  By Wednesday, we were 22 people in the house, with 11 kids ranging from 1 to 9 years old.  I told David's mom at one point that not many families could survive that, much less enjoy it.  It was certainly crazy at times (especially with all the rain), but we did have a great time.  I also enjoyed the cool weather and rain quite a bit, although it made it a bit hard with the kids (since they couldn't play outside).  Actually, I take that back--one day the older cousins played outside in the rain.  :)  Everyone rallied and came up with ways to keep the kids occupied inside, and we had a few excursions too.  Katie is old enough now to enjoy seeing her cousins, and she's lucky to have a girl cousin that's right around her age.  It's too bad we live practically across the country from them. 
The only downside to these visits is that we often end up sharing some sort of illness.  With 22 people, it's not surprising.  Luke came down with a fever on Thursday, and while I thought it was teething, it turned out to be hand, foot, and mouth.  He's been handling it really well, thankfully, but it sounds like he passed it on to his cousins.  Sorry!
Unfortunately, David also came down with a sore throat and fever on Sunday evening.  We got back Saturday night, so I hope it's just confined to our family.  It looks like he has some sort of tonsillitis in his throat--my sister (the doctor) checked him out and was so interested in the white nodules in his throat, she took a picture for reference.  :)  To top it off, David woke up with spots on his hands this morning, so he may also have hand, foot, and mouth.  Let's just say, it's a good thing I'm not sick, but I'm beginning to feel a little besieged.  Katie has been illness-free too, so I'm praying we both stay that way.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Freezer Update

Meal planning has also given me an opportunity to feed my freezer, as opposed to emptying it.  I haven't been super great about picking meals where I can freeze the leftovers, but I've also been feeding an extra person, so there haven't been as many leftovers either.  (That would be my sister, who hung out with us while she was doing her orientation.  Sadly she has started her regular hours, and we don't see her as often.)
So what has been going into the freezer?  I cooked a turkey the weekend after my sister arrived, so that went into some turkey bean soup for her freezer, a few turkey florentine and turkey spaghetti casseroles, and a few lunches of buffalo turkey salad.  I also tried a new recipe for Carne Guisada (very tasty) that produced enough leftovers for the freezer.  Zucchini was on sale a while back, so there's a few zucchini bacon lasagnas.  I think I'm set on casseroles for a while, but I also like to have some microwaveable things in the freezer (that's basically something in sauce).  I made Chicken Tagine, but I need to make a list of a few more things and watch for those ingredients on sale.  The last thing on my list is to see what raw meat I still have in there and try to turn that into a finished meal. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Meal Planning

I love to cook.  It's been a hobby of mine since my childhood, when I cooked pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches for my hordes of siblings (that would be for breakfast and lunch, and hordes is actually more like 6).  If there is anything that might sap that love, though, it's trying to get three square meals on the table every single day.  It was a lot easier when I just had to feed two mature adults, and I had time and energy to think about what masterpiece I would cook.  Of course, most of that time I was either commuting 2.5 hours a day to grad school, or we were both in grad school and had a limited budget.  Oh well. 
There are certainly strategies to make this easier.  Some people have set categories for certain days, like Taco Tuesday or Meatless Monday.  Growing up, we had Busch's baked beans with hot dogs every Wednesday before going to AWANA.  It was easy, everyone liked it, and my mom didn't have to worry about getting dinner on the table while we were running around trying to get everything together.  Another strategy is to have a core set of meals, maybe 10, that you just rotate through every two weeks with some wild cards thrown in.
Neither of those is appealing to me, though, because I get bored too easily.  I've never gotten into the set categories thing, because that is much too limiting and constricting.  Same thing with the core rotations.  Granted, I have a list of freezer meals that I make when certain things go on sale, but I still pull them out of the freezer at random to serve for dinner.  This past spring I leaned very heavily on the freezer, and I got kind of bored of a) freezer meals, and b) figuring out dinner at 3:30.  It IS a bit stressful to not have some kind of plan for meals.  So this summer I've been trying some meal planning. 
I usually try to choose recipes based on what veggies and protein  are on sale at our local grocery store.  Wednesdays are double ad day, which is nice, but I just couldn't get my meal planning done on Tuesday. Now I do it Sunday evening and go shopping on Monday.  Although we don't get quite the variety of fruit that we were, it actually kind of helps to limit my options.  I have a couple places that I look for recipe ideas right now--my Food Network Magazine (thanks, Mom!), my pinterest page, the Fine Cooking website.  It's been working for the last few weeks, it's pretty fun and less stressful to have a plan, and I think we've spent less money and wasted less food this way.  We'll see how long it lasts.