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


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 (, 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.