Thursday, October 31, 2013

When Words Escape You.... 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 ( 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!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


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.