Friday, May 31, 2013

Zoo-Day! Fun-Day!

Miss Jami, one of the X-man's favorite people [and mine, too] took a vacation day from work and coordinated a trip to the zoo this past Thursday. The crowds were good size -- lots of school class trips, but the weather was moderate & the storms held off until after we were done exploring. We lost two moms & four kids at the last-minute due to illness (pink eye, sore throats & fevers) but still managed to have a super-fun day together with Laura, Zoie, Simon, Renae, Emmett, Audrey, Michelle, Brooklyn, Diana and Miss Jami. 
This guy was a trooper; though he looks unimpressed at my pointing a camera in his direction.
Mr. Map-Reader. Found out walking & reading a map can be difficult when done simaltaneously!
Miss Brooklyn was NOT impressed with the proximity of this free-roaming peacock!
Emmett in his John-Deere green hat
Can you find the animal in this picture? Ha!Ha!
Imitating the tiger's roar; so cute!
Extra-special buddies for the day. Love!

Monday, May 27, 2013

No Planting Accomplished...

The X-man and I headed downstate, to my parents farm, for a few days last week. The plan was to 'help' grandpa with planting soybeans. But...the weather didn't really cooperate as it rained, rained, rained and rained some more. 

Never fear, we found plenty of activities to fill the days. Ultimate Fitness Class (sorry, no pics, it was THAT ugly!). An afternoon @ Monkey Joe's (whew! so many kids since a local school's field trip to the zoo was relocated to MJ's because of the rain). Friday it was 60+ degrees and sunny but NOT raining so we went swimming (thank goodness for heated pools!) We celebrated grandpa's birthday, played with cousins, cooked with Kara, helped with sheep chores, etc. Always a good time at the farm!

so cute and SUPER ornery!

these boys are best buds & ALL BOY!

Mr. Wesley does NOT mess around; doubled his birth weight in 2-month's time. what a champ and so super-sweet!
catching some rays & relaxing before the next day's triathlon

hmmm...there was water spurting from this hole just moments ago!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Adoption Update: An End & A Beginning

Some have inquired lately so thought I would get you all up-to-speed on a few details in regards to our family expansion plans :) 

AN END...On April 9, 2013 we withdrew from our agency's Ethiopia adoption program and  signed the required paperwork this past week. So, our international adoption journey to child #2 [which began on June 23, 2009] has officially ended.

...AND A BEGINNING: In February we were accepted into Evangelical Child and Family Agency's domestic adoption program and now, after withdrawing from the ET program, are exclusively pursuing domestic adoption. 

We still have much to learn but here are some rough details in regards to the process. *matched = matched with OR chosen by birth mother/birth parents/birth family

  • we will be matched* with birth parents based on (1) a series of checklists we've completed identifying our acceptance ofor willingness to discuss, a variety of health conditions, legal risk scenarios and level of openness and (2) our family profile book which illustrates the 'story of our family' in words/pictures
  • the current projected wait time for being matched* is 24-30 months; could be as early as next week or could extend beyond this timeframe
  • we could be matched* any time during a birth mother's pregnancy; we could wait, along with the birthmother, to become parents for 8+months or only a few days
  • we might know the gender of the baby in advance, and we might no
  • placement typically occurs at a local hospital, 72 hours after the child's birth (legally cannot occur any sooner, could occur later depending on circumstances). The birth parents can choose to terminate the adoption plan at any time between our family being matched* and actual placement. A couple of court proceedings occur within 6-months after placement for adoption finalization.
Though we are taking a short break from hosting children thru the Safe Families for Children, except for some possible summer respite care, we anticipate we'll continue with this ministry after August. 

We don't know what our family will look like in the coming years [or whether it will even look different than it does right now], but trust in the God who does and believe His timing is perfect & that He is good, all the time.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review: A Noble Groom

With a somewhat predictable guy-of-noble-birth falls in love with peasant-girl storyline, nonetheless, Jody Hedlund creates strong characters and a story full of rich historical details. Annalisa is strong, dependable. Carl is downright charming, gentle. Their playful banter is well-written, especially the scenes when Gretchen [Annalisa’s daughter] joins the conversation. Though they did not have healthy marriages modeled by their parents, Carl and Annalisa were able to build a relationship of their own built on admiration, kindness, respect.

The research in regards to the setting, Michigan 1880s, is thorough and intriguing. The author masterfully illustrates the reality of German immigrant’s lives. Life was a daily fight to stay alive, to feed one’s family, to stay ahead of the bank loans, the fires, the drought, illness and so many other challenging factors of living on a land which seems, at times, stronger than those who inhabit it.  

Again and again, thru reading historical fiction, I am reminded of the vast inequality which has been, and still remains, part of humanity. The wealthy flourish, often without regard for those who have less, and the poor struggle to survive. Yet, even amidst this disparity, it is sometimes those with less who have MORE of what really matters. Annalisa, though barely able to feed herself, and in turn her unborn child, loved her children desperately. She believed in dreams, in the possibility of a better life. She valued her children as her most prized possession, fighting for them above all else. While Annalisa was not valued as a women [in reference to her relationship with her husband & her father], I admire how Hedlund created her character to still believe that she had worth beyond the farmland and her ability to bear children. And I like that Carl treated her with respect, right from the start, that he recognized her ability to rise above dreadful circumstances.

The story was good, somewhat predictable but with enough subplots to keep the reader wondering exactly how things would all come together. For me, the ending was too abrupt, leaving unanswered questions about certain characters. It wrapped up ‘a little too prettily’ in contrast to the struggle illustrated throughout the remainder of the book.     

I was given this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Not The Only One...

For some, the upcoming Mother's Day holiday is a very non-complicated celebration of the woman who gave & loved them thru life. For others, the day of celebration is a bit more complicated. Specifically for adoptive mothers, the day is one which is shared with another. 

I am Alexander's mother and forever will be. But, I am not the only mother he's had. 

I have a penciled outline of his first mother's hand from the day we met [December 7, 2008] in a small room in southern Ethiopia. I think of this hand print often. I remember it was her hands that first held our son. It was her hands that caressed his cheeks as she sang him a lullaby. It was her hands that held him  as she introduced him to her family...his family, too. Her hands that gently rocked him. Her hands that first wiped away his tears. And, it was her hands that placed the 3-month old little boy she loved into the hands of an orphanage worker. 

Today, I think of the sweet girl whom I hardly know but whom is so close to my heart. I think about her love, her selfishness, her overwhelming pain. I wonder if she still cries daily, thinking of the child who is growing up in a land far from her own. I wonder if the pain still takes her breath away as she remember the day she placed him into the arms of another. Today, my own tears flow in knowing that, at least this side of heaven, I will never be able to fully express the depth of my love for her & my gratitude for the gift she's given to us. My gain could not exist but for her loss, the loss that is always part of adoption. 

More than ever before, I share in the grief of losing one who is loved. More than ever before, I am thankful to share Mother's Day with the woman who has allowed me to celebrate this special day with the child we both love. 

I am Alexander's mother and forever will be. But, I am not the only mother he's had.