Thursday, January 30, 2014

Art5 and Some Blog Changes

We got our Article 5 as scheduled, so our TA wait has officially begun...just in time for Chinese New Year!  I think our wait is paused starting January 31 (now, given the time change) and will restart again on February 10.  Although we have an idea of when we'd like to travel, we're really not sure how things will go for the TA.

As we get closer to travel, we've decided not to to share with the internet when our house will be (sort-of) empty.  It won't really be empty (my brother and sister are here to take care of it), but we don't want to come home to a burglarized house either.  So starting next week, the blog will be locked to private readers.  I'll need to add your email address to the list, so feel free to contact me through FB or email.

If you don't want to bother with that, I will open the blog back up once we return home--you can get caught up then too.

Thanks for following along in our journey.  It's hard to believe we're getting so close!

Edit:  It looks like I'll need your email, and then you'll just login

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Marking things off

We did it! (we did it, we did it, hooray!  Guess what my kids watch when they are sick...)

We are now the owners of a very gold Honda Odyssey.  I'm sure the color will grow on me, and it fit perfectly into our budget/mileage/age requirements.  Overall, the car buying experience was pretty good--definitely our best yet.  The van is pretty big compared to our little Subaru Forester, and I'm going to have to get used to turning in my mirror so I don't knock it off while driving in and out of the garage.

We are playing with some different seating options in the van.  Our awesome car seats are rear-facing up to 45 lbs, so both Katie and Luke are still oriented that way.  We'll get the same one for Liz, so we could potentially have all three rear-facing for a while.  Right now we have Katie and Luke in the two captain chairs, but we'll probably move Katie to the back seat once Liz arrives.  If the rear-facing is too much trouble for Katie when she's all the way back in the third row, we'll probably (finally) move her around.

I've also made some significant progress on our freezer--yesterday was the first day that my toe didn't bother me at all, and I'm enjoying the freedom of just doing what I want to do.  Yesterday, that involved finishing up all the cooked turkey in my fridge (soup and chili), and today I'm making lots of ham and bean soup.  I still have ingredients for several more chopped cooked turkey/chicken recipes, so I'm toying with getting another turkey out of the freezer.  David wants to know if we're preparing for a new child or the apocalypse.

It's nice to look at next week and be free to plan lots of on-my-feet activities.  A few more little things to add to my list--making gift bags for various occasions in China (Valentine's is a great time for that with all the red options), getting ready to do our taxes, and planning for a special little someone to turn 4!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Back to the List

You can pray for us today...we're heading off to buy a minivan.  There's a dealership that has two of the models that we want, in just around the right price range and mileage.  Although there's nothing absolute on my short list for Elizabeth, buying a minivan is definitely up there.

I know there are people out there who love to go buy cars, but it's not our favorite activity.  We've learned a few things through our past car buying experiences.

--only totals, no monthly payments.  It's like they think we don't know that paying $200/month for 5 years will still cost us more than $300/month for 3 years.

--bring the loan check with you.  We've had some issues with pushy dealer financing, and of course, once you're in there, they want you to drive the car away.  This time, we have our loan check in hand, and we just have to call the bank with the make/model/etc.

Stay tuned for pictures of our new ride!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Article 5 Next Week!

We found out today that our Article 5 has been submitted and will be picked up on January 30!  Of course, that will be right in time for Chinese New Year to hit, but our target date of March 10 is looking better and better.

My toe was still bothering me a lot this weekend, but today has been surprisingly pain-free.  I'm excited to start on a few projects on my plate:

--The packing list:  I love lists, but after traveling back and forth to the Midwest 8-10 times, I don't usually make them for traveling any more.  Packing for this trip, on the other hand, will be completely scripted!

--Complete our medical checks:  David and I visited the travel doctor last week, but we still need to speak with our pediatrician to see what we might need for Elizabeth while we're there.

--A little more de-cluttering:  A de-cluttered home means less cleaning and fewer things to put away once Elizabeth is here.  We have also read that having a ton of things around (toys, etc.) can contribute to sensory overload for her.  I've brought a carload to the Albuquerque Rescue Mission (mostly baby clothes and other things), but I think I can get another carload if I try.  There is a mother's sale in April that I may try to hit as well, especially if Elizabeth is in 12 or 18 month clothes.

--The freezer:  I organized it, but now I need to work on filling it with a nice mix of freezer-to-oven, freezer-to-fridge, and freezer-to-microwave meals.  A nice of mix of meal types would be great too.

--Gifts:  We will have the opportunity to give gifts to various people in China.  It's mostly the thought that counts, so Balloon Fiesta postcards and pins will probably be sufficient for most.  I will probably try to knit some little gifts as well, especially for the foster family who is caring for Elizabeth.

--Knitting:  I still have some personal knitting to mark of my list from Christmas.  I'm hesitant to knit too much for Elizabeth, not knowing what size she is.  But a little poncho would probably be very helpful while we are there.  :)  And there is always the shop to try and stock.

I went through all of Katie's clothes yesterday--so many memories.  I can't wait to see Elizabeth in them!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Waltz on the Water

Water has come up a few times during this adoption process.  Last summer my Bible study looked at the passage in Matthew where Peter walks on the water, and the story definitely fit in with how I was feeling about the adoption.  At times the process has felt like a wave, moving us forward without pause.  And then when I mailed off the paperwork, Oceans was playing on the radio.

At that point, it sounded very melancholy.  I was feeling a little stressed about getting everything done properly (and quickly!), and even though I knew that I could trust God to take care of these things, I felt nervous.

Fast forward to last week, when I heard Oceans again on the radio.  I don't remember what part of the song was playing, but for some reason, it sounded almost triumphant.  And it just struck me, much in the same tone that I use with Katie when she does something kind of thoughtless--why do we doubt God?  

Peter could have danced across the water to Jesus, and he would not have sunk one inch.  There is certainly no doubt in our minds that this adoption is part of God's plan for me, and for David, and for our family.  So why would we ever doubt that we can dance upon the water as well?  

It could definitely be stormy--I can still see those ridiculously steep waves from A Perfect Storm--but as powerful and scary as those waves would be, we can still make the choice to trust, to not doubt, to dance joyfully and gracefully on His path.  

We are so close--maybe 7 weeks from today, we will be holding Elizabeth in our arms.  I pray her place in our family will be as much of a blessing to her as it has been and will be to us.  I already see how God has used her to shape us and our faith in him.  It's hard to imagine learning all these lessons without her.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior


Thursday, January 16, 2014


We've...well, I've been waiting all week for an email saying our Article 5 paperwork has been dropped off at the US Consulate.  I guess our visa paperwork went through so quickly, they didn't have our US Immigration paperwork (the hard copies) in China yet.  No email yet, so I don't think we'll get our Article 5 before Chinese New Year.  David keeps reminding me that a day here or there won't make a difference in the long run, and I feel like I've been calmer about these steps.  The process is pretty much out of our hands now until we receive travel authorization, so there's not much point in stressing about it.  It is much easier to feel excited, though!

This week has been a little frustrating, although not because of the adoption stuff at all.  I had a procedure done on my toe last October, and it had to be repeated when we got back from Christmas.  It has a recovery time of about three weeks, but of course, that's dependent on many how quickly you try to get back onto your feet.  :P  Every time I think about all the things I want to get done before Elizabeth comes, I have to this worth potentially stretching my recovery time out?  Would it really add time to my recovery if I did get up?  So I've done some things (like organize the freezer!) but not as much as I'd hoped at this point.

It sounds nice to just laze on the couch all day, but when you're staring at a messy kitchen/dining room/living room and mentally going through your adoption to-do list, it's not as much fun.  Plus, it's hard to exercise (of course), which is great timing right after the holidays.  Another thing to figure out, since I don't think I can go running with three kiddos.  :)

But I'm trying to view this as a good time to rest and hang out with the kids before our life gets crazy.  I've also been doing some knitting--it never ceases to amaze me that people buy the things I've made.  I remind myself that I'll have plenty of time to do things before she comes...although that time is ticking away, day by day!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Moving Right Along

I keep thinking I'll sit down and write a nice, thoughtful post about something else, but then we get more news!  We received our case number from the National Visa Center, and according to the others in my group, our letter should arrive by email some time today!

I think that means we may get our paperwork dropped off at the US Consulate tomorrow, but it depends on when the letter comes.  The drop off days are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday with a two-week turnaround, but with the time change, we may not make the Tuesday drop.  Even so, I think if we make the Thursday drop, we will have our Article 5 before Chinese New Year.

I better work on the freezer today.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A few more steps

We finally have our I-800 letter in our hands!  At one point I posted that we'd have to take care of "US Immigration, then travel."  If only it were that straightforward.  Katie was asking me why we can't just go get Liz, and we told her that lots of people have to say it's okay first.  So here's the run down (as best I understand it!).

1.  The I-800 is processed by US Immigration.  (Done!)

2.  They forward Liz's I-800 to the National Visa Center (NVC).  The NVC processes it and issues a case number for her (called a GUZ#).

3.  Once we receive the GUZ#, we can apply for a visa for her.

4.  The visa application is dropped off at the US Consulate in China.

5.  The US Consulate in China issues an "Article 5" for Liz.

6.  The Article 5 gets sent to the Chinese government, who can then issue a Travel Authorization for us to go get her.

At that point, we will be able to set a day to get Liz and a consulate appointment for her so we can take care of all the last little details.  Finally, we organize all our travel and head on over there!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

More Pictures!


Now I really want that I-800!  (Edit:  Our agency has the I-800!  Ours should arrive later today)

We found out that she is gaining more weight (although sometimes they weigh the kids in their clothes...which would probably add a few pounds to Elizabeth!).  She is not walking yet, but she is able to stand and walk around with a little walker.  It would be so fun to see her first steps.  There is a possibility she'll be potty trained...just in time for the most massive change of her life.  Probably would expect a little regression at that point.  :)  She's also in foster care now!  Here is one of her favorite foods--preserved Chinese haw cakes:

Several people have asked how they could pray, so I thought this might be a good time for a list.

Praises:  Elizabeth sounds pretty healthy and happy in her foster family, and we are so much farther than we expected at this point!


1.  Of course, we'd love to bring Elizabeth home as soon as possible.  You can pray for a smooth ride to our TA (still about 4 hoops to jump through).

2.  Pray for Elizabeth's transition to our home.  I can't imagine how confusing and frightening it would be to leave everything you know for a totally new place filled with strangers.

3.  Pray for our travel--that it would be inexpensive, without issue, and illness-free.  :)

4.  Pray for Katie and Luke as they adjust to having a little sister with a lot of needs.  Luke has been a bit clingy over the last few months, so I hope it won't be too rough on him.

5.  And there's us too--that David and I will weather all these changes with grace and patience.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Christmas Roundup

I'm late in writing another post.  Each day I've waited till the mail came, hoping my next post would be headlined with "I-800 Approval!"  And since our mail arrives around 4:30-5ish, I haven't sat down to write an evening post headlined with something else.

This past Christmas was the first time we drove out to see our families.  My family is in central Illinois, and David's is from Kentucky, so we did a very long loop around to see everyone.  It was about 20 hours over two days, then 6 hours from KY to IL, then another 18 hours over two days back.

I've always liked driving, and the only real complication was that both Luke and I were sick on the way out.  We didn't run into any accidents or weather, and the kids usually lasted at least a couple hours before needing a break.  It really only adds a day to our trip on both sides, since it really takes a full day to fly, then drive to the family.

Christmas is always a wonderful time, but I'm especially grateful that we had a chance to see everyone in both families.  At this point, it's a little chancy trying to coordinate everyone's schedules, especially now that we're even more spread out.  We probably won't be able to travel this summer--Elizabeth may still be adjusting, and we both have BIG families.  Even if the travel was okay, it might be a little overwhelming to be in a house with 15-20 people.  :)

Time to get back to knitting--I've had several requests for adult striped fingerless gloves, so I'm working up a pattern for those.  If you see another post today, you'll know it has good news!

Thursday, January 2, 2014


It's tempting to treat these next two months as my last chance to get EVERYTHING done on my comprehensive to-do list.  Of course, when faced with that daunting task, it's much easier to plop onto the couch and read my new Christmas books.  :)  I'm trying to focus on what needs to be accomplished before we leave, because otherwise I think I'll just be a) overwhelmed or b) exhausted.  Here's what I've come up with so far:

1.  The freezer:  Right now my freezer is packed, but it's also disorganized and has a fair amount of raw materials (like 4 turkeys...).  I need to organize it, then convert the raw materials into finished products.  I'm also hoping to have a good balance of freezer-to-microwave and freezer-to-oven meals.  My bonus objective is to get some vegetable sides in there as well.

2.  The car:  We really have to get a minivan before we leave.

3.  Rereading:  I'd love to get a little rereading (this time with note-taking) done in "Parenting the Internationally Adopted Child" and "The Connected Child."

Hmm.  I thought there was a lot more, but now I can't think of anything else that really NEEDS to be done before we travel.  This seems pretty manageable...more manageable than "organize my life" and "figure out how to keep the house from getting messy."  Now if I could just order up a frigid day so I could squeeze in de-icing the freezer.