Sunday, May 19, 2013

China Adoption Update

Things are progressing relatively well with our adoption from China, although it wouldn't be international adoption if there weren't hiccups along the way!  Luckily our 'hiccups' so far have been minimal- and we discovered those issues before they became big problems.

Right now we are in the final stages of completing our dossier (adoption documents that go to China).  Almost all of the documents that make up our dossier have to be notarized.  That notarization has to be certified by the Secretary of State, and then the Chinese Consulate authenticates the documents as well. Basically the notary says we really signed it, the Secretary of State says the notary is real, and the Consulate says the Secretary of State is real so that when the documents make it to China everyone will know they are legit.

Bryan drove all our adoption documents to Austin and back on Wednesday 5/15 to get them certified.  Sadly, some of them were taken out of order (as they were just paper clipped when they were handed over to be certified and stapled) so now they are likely going to be rejected by the Chinese Consulate.  It sounds ridiculous that the placement of a staple vs a paperclip could mess stuff up- but we will be wasting time and money if we send the documents to the consulate via a courier and find out they get rejected.  I'm taking several documents back to Austin on Monday to be re-certified, then they will be off to the courier by Tuesday at the latest after I make tons of copies.

I'm hoping the courier will have things back to us within the week given that Memorial Day will fall during the time they have our documents.  This means we can hopefully send our dossier to our agency by June 1.  From there, it will go through 'critical review' where they look for any issues.  Once it is cleared the dossier will be translated and bound into a special book with pictures of us included.  The dossier (or as we call it, "Paper Baby") is then sent via international express mail to Beijing where it will be logged into China's adoption system.  The day that happens will be called our Log In Date -- or LID.

I found this awesome diagram that explains the basic steps in a Chinese adoption.  After the trip to Austin and sending our documents to the courier, we will be completing steps 3 & 6 as one big step together.

(click on the image to make it bigger)

I am trying really hard to not tie myself up in a knot over the timing and length of each step.  We have had some steps go slower than we hoped and have others go much faster.  By the time Paper Baby is ready next week, it will be about 4 months from the time we started this adoption to the time we became 'paper ready'.  I'm pleased with that timeline for an international adoption, especially since we had to do a new home study.

I try to stay up to date on issues surrounding Chinese adoptions, current timelines, etc by being a part of several facebook groups for Chinese adoption.  It has been great to have other women cheer for me when we complete a step and to also learn from the ones who have 'been there done that'.  I am trying to remember that if I have a 4 day delay or even a 4 week set back, it is nothing compared to the 4+ years of waiting that our friends in the Kyrgyzstan adoption community have endured.  I am trusting that God will bring us a sweet baby girl who is His very best for us, and in His very best timing!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

April/ May Photo Dump

Warning:  tons of pictures.  This is what happens when I finally download pictures from my phone!

Normally I don't post potty pictures, but this one is 
a) modest and b) cute!
So proud of Joshua who is doing awesome on potty training at just 26 months old!

First trip to the dentist
He has the death grip on that dentist chair!

Letting the dentist look at his teeth
Joshua did AMAZING! I was so proud of him.

Caleb's turn later that afternoon!
Last summer he nearly hyperventilated and was uncooperative - I had to hold him down in my lap to be examined.
This year was a HUGE difference!  So proud of him! 

Picnic in the fort
Caleb's prayer for the meal thanked God for baby sister Hannah :) 

Just chillaxin on the couch with his roars (loveys) in his shirt-- a favorite activity :) 

Helping Mommy wash the van

Joshua 'swaddled' like a baby
The boys like to talk about baby Hannah and pretend to be babies :)

Caleb drew this picture of my Mom with chalk!

At Rachel & Jared's wedding in Brenham with our friends the Lehmans

Caleb's 2 story Lincoln Log creation
He got these lincoln logs several years ago from the McGraths and literally plays with them

Enjoying a day alone with Joshua- watering the plants!

The boys did great in childcare during our first time to attend the adoption support group at our church. We went out for ice cream to celebrate their great behavior!

Excited about ice cream! 

Watering the garden with his shades on

Picture taken from inside -- I told them to leave the water off and these two were partners in crime and worked together to be naughty!! 

Proud of the carrots from their garden
I'm pretty sure Joshua is holding the world's smallest carrot-- someone call The Guinness Book of World Records!

Caleb feeding the not-so-hungry ducks on his play date with his teachers

Caleb and his teachers, Ms. Susan and Ms. Geralyn.
They worked so hard to make this a fun, special time for Caleb!

Sophie shows her approval of the rug & fabrics I've picked out for Hannah's room.
I plan to sew a lot of her bedding and other room decorations.

Swimming at the Caraway's new house
Joshua had no fear and went right in wearing his puddle jumper!

All the boys after swimming.  The Caraways have 3 boys.
Joshua - who normally eats very little at dinner time - ate THREE pieces of pizza after swimming!
Joshua loved being with all the big boys.  I even heard him say, "Hey guys want to play pirates???".  He thought he was one of the big boys too!

Mommy-Joshie cupcake date after he said to me, 
"Mommy, I need to eat a beautiful cupcake."

A view of my cracked monitor screen-
Joshua refusing to nap and taking off his clothes instead. 

Sorry for the blurry picture - it was taken in stealth mode!
He eventually fell asleep after peeing in the bed
(which I didn't realize until later!)
26 months old -- and sleeping in the nude!
And yes, I think it's crazy that he sleeps with that much junk in his bed but he calls all of them his "friends"

Mom's Birthday, Mother's Day & Will's Birthday Party

Last weekend we went to Houston to celebrate my Mom's birthday, Mother's Day, and cousin Will's 2nd birthday.  Unfortunately Bryan had to work on Saturday so we drove down in two vehicles so he could drive back Friday night before his shift at 6am on Saturday morning.

My Mom's birthday was earlier in the week but we chose to celebrate on Friday.  The boys enjoyed helping Granny blow out her candles.

That evening we went out to dinner at Salt Grass Steakhouse to celebrate Mother's Day for both of us.

On Saturday morning we went to Will's birthday party!  Carolyn was able to have his party at the huge volleyball complex where she used to work.  There were all kinds of tunnels, balls, and bounce houses to play in.  The boys had tons of fun!  Caleb really enjoyed this giant inflatable ball that you can get inside of and roll around-- kind of like a hamster ball!  We were also shocked to see him climb into the bounce house to jump!  He has always been terrified of bounce houses, so this was his first time to get inside one and have fun!  It was a big step for him.  Joshua loved playing with all the kids who were so close in age to him!

Joshua in the bounce house

Caleb loved playing in this inflatable ball.
Luckily it belongs to Gran Jan & Pop Pop, who won it at a silent auction!


 Caleb on the way home from Houston.
He hasn't napped in almost 3 years and rarely falls asleep in the car!

The following day was Mother's Day.  Bryan made sure he was off from work and worked so hard to make my day special, which is a lot of work when you are taking care of 2 little ones!  I got breakfast in bed - which was delivered in spurts as Caleb started to sneak items off the tray to bring to me because he was so excited!  When they finally all came into the room Joshua yelled out "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMY!!!".  He's still trying to sort out major holidays involving Mommy :)   Both boys wanted to join me in bed and ate 2 of my 3 strawberries while I opened my gifts.   I got a really cute bird decoration to put on my sofa table (hard to explain, but Bryan did a great job-- it was definitely my style!) and an insulated drink cup that says "Best Mom Ever" that Joshua insisted on buying.  Bryan suspects that Joshua wanted to buy it because he was thirsty while they were in the store ;)  Bryan was smart this time and did not take Caleb shopping since he has a tendency to spill the beans about gifts!  My card from the boys had owls on it (one of my favorite things) and Caleb insisted that Bryan write "Happy Hoots Day!" inside the card, and he told me that several times throughout the day.  I have no idea what that means - but he just really cracks me up!

I'm a brave soul posting a pajama picture from first thing in the morning... but this is real life!
You can see Joshua enjoying my strawberries!!

We went to church that morning and came home to have Bryan grill our lunch.  The idea of going out to eat on Mother's Day with a 2 year old and a 5 year old sounds like Mother's Day h-e-double-hockey-sticks to me so we opted for a meal at home!  Bryan grilled maple glazed salmon, vegetable skewers and corn on the cob.  It was delicious!  After lunch Joshua took a nice long nap, and Bryan took Caleb out of the house so I could have some quiet rest time, too!  Breakfast in bed + someone else cooking lunch + kid free nap time = amazing Mother's Day!

One of the best parts of my day was a text from Joshua's birthmother, Brynn, telling me Happy Mother's Day.  When I told her the same and thanked her for letting me be Joshua's mommy too she told me that she couldn't have picked a better mommy for him.  She definitely made me cry right before we went into church!

If you had asked me several years ago if we'd have that kind of relationship with one of our children's birthmother I would have said no.  I never imagined it was possible to have such a healthy, comfortable and loving relationship in those circumstances.  The way God has knit our hearts together with a mutual love for a precious, smart, and beautiful little boy is incredible to me.  It is never far from my mind that my joy as a mom comes from another mother's grief in placing her child for adoption.  My heart aches just as much if not more for Caleb's birthmother in Kyrgyzstan, because she likely does not know if he is even alive, let alone that he is a healthy, vibrant and unique little boy thriving in America.

On Mother's Day I posted this on facebook as my status- a true representation of how I feel about my journey as a Mom.

I am celebrating Mother's Day because of the selfless, courageous choices of two women: one on the other side of the world who has not seen her son since he was born 8 weeks early, and another here in my own state who allowed me to watch her beautiful baby be born, made a brave choice that is often not celebrated, and is still a wonderful blessing in all of our lives. Happy Mother's Day to my sons incredible birth mothers. Thank you for entrusting me with their lives and making me a Mommy!

LOVE these sweet boys!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


On May 2 we added a new member to our family:  a Goldendoodle puppy we named Sadie!  I had been talking about wanting a new puppy, although I was thinking of getting another Shih Tzu like Sophie.  While Bryan was ok with the idea I could tell he got a LOT more excited about having another dog when we heard about Sadie.  Our friends the Jordans bought a male from the same breeder here in town, so after meeting their puppy we decided to go take a look.  Everyone knows if you go look at a puppy there is a 99% chance you will leave with a puppy!!

We are excited to have a goldendoodle (mix of Golden Retriever and Standard Poodle) because they are hypoallergenic/non shedding, great family dogs, and supposed to be easy to train.  We expect that Sadie will be between 55-65 lbs when she is an adult.  I have never had a big dog before and was not excited about cleaning up dog hair - so the fact that she is non-shedding is a huge plus.

When we went to the breeder's house she brought out all the puppies and they were all friendly to us and the kids.  But after awhile the energy and interest of two of the puppies faded, all while Sadie continued to follow Caleb around non-stop.  It was important to us that the new puppy love our boys.  We especially want Caleb to have a strong relationship with the dog since studies have shown that dogs can be calming for kids who have some of the same challenges that Caleb deals with daily.

Since bringing Sadie home we have cleaned up our fair share of potty accidents but also had a lot of fun with her.  She cried the first night home but after that sleeps in her crate at night from about 11pm-6:45 or 7am.  She is playful and curious, and gets into stuff way more than I remember Sophie doing.  I've caught her chewing on toys, power cords, shoes, etc.  It's like having a crawling baby who puts everything in their mouth, except this baby doesn't wear a diaper.

Sophie is starting to warm up to her a little - although for the first two weeks she tried to spend most of her waking hours upstairs and began to sleep on the floor in our room - both things she had never done before.  I'm pretty sure if she could roll her eyes at Sadie she would do it!  Sadie wants to play and rough house with Sophie who is just straight up irritated by that idea.  They have not been aggressive towards each other -- just a few snarls from Sophie toward Sadie when she is at her most rambunctious.

Sadie is a great addition to our family and we are hopeful that she will be a special part of the boy's childhood.

Checking out the drain

Snoozing on one of her first days home

Caleb and Sadie playing on her first morning with us.
These two have about the same energy level, which I am thankful for!!

She is going to outgrow Sophie's old crate soon!!

Caleb stole Sadie's new dog bed and made himself a perch on top of his bean bag chair

Our sweet Sadie girl the day we got her

I love it when dogs sit like this - she was probably trying to cool off!

Sadie's first bath.  She hated it - must not have got too much of the water loving Retriever genes!

Joshua relaxing in Sadie's dog bed while playing with her

Go ahead and make yourself at home, Sadie

Sophie glaring down at Sadie (and us!) from her perch upstairs

Caleb's Birthday Party

I think it's fair to say I'm a tad bit behind on the blog.  Almost like I forgot it existed!  I'm going to do my best to catch up since this kind of serves as our family scrapbook.

We had Caleb's birthday party on Friday, April 12.  We invited his whole class (about 10 kids) plus his cousins.  We decided to have a space themed party at our house, because apparently I am crazy and like to create extra stress for myself.  Once you hit age 5 it is a lot more important to provide games and structured activity during the party-- something that I soon realized was stressful!  We planned to do a moon rock hunt while wearing their party favors (rocket jet packs that I made myself), a rocket balloon race and play with a rocket blaster toy that shoots foam rockets into the air when you step on a pedal.  

The rocket blaster was by far the biggest hit.  After we did all of our activities, the kids sang to Caleb and then all enjoyed pizza, cupcakes and space themed snacks.  Caleb seemed to enjoy his party although he was overwhelmed a few times.  

Caleb was happy to have a space themed party but the #1 thing on his birthday list was more diggers.  These are the same construction toys that he was obsessed with around his 3rd birthday and the interest is back.  His favorite things (or obessions!) have gone from balls at age 1, to Doc Hudson at age 2, diggers that play music and shake at age 3, water towers at age 4, the Aggie band at age 4 1/2 and now back to diggers that play music and shake at age 5.  He's also developed an appreciation for construction cranes.

I had a lot of fun planning Caleb's party even though it was a LOT of work!  I'm pretty sure next year's celebration will be at the bowling alley or gymnastics place!! :) 

All the jet packs lined up with custom moon rock bags my mom sewed

The birthday boy ready to party!

Moon Rock Hunt

Playing with the rocket blaster toy

Uncle Craig posing as an astronaut

Even baby Charlotte came to the party!

Rocket balloon races

The party table

Caleb and his friends

Getting ready to blow out his candle

With our 5 year old and all his diggers!