Christmas Fun and So Much More

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I have to start off by simply saying that our Christmas was truly blessed...not because of the gifts we gave or received but because we are a family! It's hard to believe Caleb has been home with us over 2 years now. Our first Christmas together was chock full of jet lag. Even though we were home over a month at that point, Caleb's internal clock was still off. *sigh* This year, well, we're just like any other family....trying to get Caleb to sleep past 6am before making a mad dash to the Christmas tree to open presents. It's funny, though, he skipped right past the bike in front of the tree to the train circling it. It was very cute.

For our "family" gifts, Baba got us a Wii. It's been lots of fun to play together. Baba also got us a Gheenoe. I know you're probably wondering what in the world it is. I was also stumped, as I was escorted out to the garage to find a boat looking somewhat like a canoe taking up my parking space. Well, a gheenoe is like a canoe but the bottom of it is designed differently, giving it more stability. Patrick also bought a 5hp motor that can attach to the back, so we can take long day trips and not have to worry so much about time to paddle back. He's had this whole thing planned since we took a vacation to Lake Lure back in August. I loved canoing at summer camp all those summers as a young kid. And while we were at Lake Lure, we rented a canoe one day. And Caleb just loved it. That's all Baba needed to hear to get his wheels spinning. We are really looking forward to cruising up and down the river in our gheenoe when the weather gets a tad warmer.

My sister, Deb and BIL Andy made it over with Leah around lunch time. It was really fun watching Caleb and Leah open their presents. It was Patrick's big idea to get Leah a baby doll and stroller. So guess who had the priviledge of putting that stroller together? You guessed it! Caleb and Leah both enjoyed playing with the dollie in her stroller, as well as the Wii. I can't wait to see Madeline join in on their fun together.

The day after Christmas, Patrick watched Caleb as Deb, Leah and I hit the outlets for some after Christmas shopping. Leah had a lot of fun playing peek-a-boo in all the stores. She was really helpful with trying things on, not only for her but for Madeline as well.

Over the weekend, I got an email from Ann at Red Thread China saying that our care package should be delivered this week. That really put a smile on my face. She sent us a picture of our package, which is shown below.

Included in the package is our translated letter along with some questions. We also sent Ann some pictures for her to print off and place in an album. We also included a stuffed animal, as well as some candies, and some hair bows. It warms my heart to know that Madeline will soon see our faces. We also ordered a cake. So we are hoping to soon get pictures of her with her cake, as well as some updated information (which will make my shopping easier! LOL.)

Tomorrow our SW is coming out for our home study visit. This is necessary for our I-800A Supplement 3 application, as our home study addendum was denied. Our house is STILL turned upside down. But at least Madeline's room is cleaned up so that Bammy can stay when she arrives tomorrow, too. The queen size bed we bought (which I will most likely be sleeping in when Madeline comes home) will be delivered tomorrow, just in time for Bammy's visit. Yay!

Then on Thursday, I will be heading to New Orleans with my sister to watch my beloved Florida Gators play in the Sugar Bowl. It will be the first time in over 2 years that I will not spend the night in the same place as Caleb. The first time I told him this, he told me he didn't want me to go to the football game. For a few days after that, he would just tell me he didn't want me to go. It broke my heart. I have said every reassuring thing I can possibly think of to let him know I will be coming back. But he still looked sad. Well, today, I started telling him again. And he seemed so much better about the whole thing. He would repeat what I said without asking me not to go. So I know he's beginning to understand better. I've had dozens of opportunities to leave him for short periods of time since he's been home. And he's done very well. So his recent behavior is a bit unsettling and surprising because he is clearly more attached to his baba. Anyway, I am praying big time for him as he deals with my absence. I'll keep you all posted. And GO GATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We have been so busy lately, I don't even know where to begin.

The workers finally finished up in Madeline's room. They were originally going to do all the interior work after the new year but decided to complete the entire job at once. For anybody interested in (even a short) remodel before a holiday, let me advise you NOT to do it! Two weeks later and our house is still turned upside down. After hurting my back on Sunday from flipping Caleb (all 45 lbs of him) upside down "one more time," I finally felt good enough to put a paint brush in my hand and get crackin' on all this painting. Before the house can be reasonable enough to have my sister and her family over for Christmas, I need to have the computer room closet and doors painted. This way, I can move all of the computer room stuff out of Madeline's I can move all of Madeline's room's "things" out of the dining room and back where they belong! Phew! I've been playing musical rooms for long enough. But the reality is there is not near enough time in a day to get this all done. While the house may be a wreck, at least all the presents are wrapped. And we're as ready as we can be to celebrate our last Christmas as a family of three. Rest assured, Patrick wants to make this one we'll never forget. He also said it would be a few years before he could out do himself. I tried to get him to put that in writing, but he wouldn't. Oh well.

On another note, I ordered our care package for Madeline using Ann at Red Thread China. I have been emailing her back and forth these last few days. She just notified me that yesterday she requested updated information and photos of Madeline. So I hope to receive that information and those photos real soon. While putting together the photos for the photo album, I realized that I don't have very many photos of me and Caleb together. And that's because I'm always behind my lens. So at the recommendation of my friend, Lisa, I decided to set up the tripod the other day just to get one more shot of mama with Caleb. Caleb is totally willing to indulge me when I set up the tripod because I give him my remote shutter release to "play with". And he has an absolute blast taking the pictures. I thought I'd share one with you now.

Introducing Madeline!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Introducing our precious Madeline!!!!

 Birthday: March 12, 2008
Born in Jingmen City, Hubei China

I got my Christmas wish!!!!!   It is with much thanksgiving and praises to God that we announce we have received our Preliminary Approval from China to adopt our little girl.  Now that we have received this notice, we have permission to share her sweet face with all of you here.  We are beyond blessed and can't wait to bring her home.  For now, a care package will have to do.  I am finalizing my letter and photos to send as we speak.  We will be sending her several goodies: a photo album, treats, a stuffed animal, and, of course, a cake!  Although it's not a guarantee to receive photos or updates, we are requesting them and hope to have some updates and new photos to share with you soon.  For now, join us in giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for His Goodness.  We love you, Madeline!  We're coming soon!

Get Me Off This Rollercoaster Ride!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It all started last Friday evening.  I went to the mailbox to retrieve our mail.  It didn't look good.  An envelop from U*SCIS did NOT look like all the others we've received.  Nope, this one had pink paper inside.  My heart sank.  The 3 words on top were ones I dreaded "Request For Evidence".  Oh brother!  The Supplement 3 we submitted a few weeks ago with our home study addendum (because Patrick changed jobs) was not approved pending an updated home study.  When we first submitted our I-800A application, we were approved wtihout ANY RFEs.  And now, well, we just had to join the RFE club (even when I didn't ask for membership.) 

I decided the first person I was going to call on Monday was our new immigration officer at U*SCIS.  I wanted clarification on exactly what she was looking for in our update.  Although our home study had two small changes and was considered by our first agency and first immigration officer to be an addendum, our new officer stated that it was NOT an addendum but rather an *update* and also needed to be H*ague compliant.  Ugh.  She said it would've been considered an addendum had we submitted prior to I-800A approval.  However, we were approved in record time, while we were working on the addendum and didn't have a chance to submit it prior to approval. 

So.....since an update was in order, I contacted our first agency (which we are retaining as our home study agency) because they will have to do the update.  I explained the whole situation to them.  They will get working on our child abuse clearance, as well as determine who will come out to the house for our home study visit.

Next I called our agency and spoke to our C*hina coordinator to get her up to speed.  She did her best to assure me that our addendum (that was included in our dossier) will be fine.  But I can't help but wonder if we will get held up in the review room.  I have had other adoptive parents assure me these are two separate entities and that C*hina will approve us based on what was submitted already and U*SCIS will approve us based on our corrected Supplement 3/ updated home study.

I'm trying not to worry about it all, but that's easier said than done.  I got myself so worked up over all this yesterday and this morning.  But after talking to my friend, Lisa, I'm feeling much better.  Lisa, you rock.  Thanks for all your support and for helping me "keep my hands and feet inside the ride at all times."  Well, here's hoping for a speedy home study update and Supplement 3 approval.....soon soon soon, I pray!

On another note, the "music" inside the house has ceased, as the workers have finished all they needed to do for Madeline's room!  The rug we ordered will arrive on Monday.  Yay!!!!  So now the fun begins as I get to paint the walls, closet doors and trim.  Oh yeah, we still have to buy her big girl bed....but I'm excited to have the chance to put her room together with time to spare and without tripping over workers or our luggage, like with Caleb's remodel.  Fun times are in store.

What a Man!

Friday, December 11, 2009

My sister just shared this link with me, and I just had to pass it on.  Tim Tebow is such a man of God.  I'm not surprised by this at all.  Looking forward to watching him play his final game in a Gator uniform in January at the Sugar Bowl.  Patrick says we should wear eyeblack to the game.  Let's do it!

Changes & Three Little Letters

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yesterday was music to my ears. Well, it wasn't actually music...more like hammers and saws. But I loved it anyway. It was the sound of the workers coming to fix up Madeline's room and replace the rest of the windows in the house. While Caleb was excited to have them here, at times he became nervous and scared of the noise. He insisted on having the door closed to whatever room he was in or else be on the other side of the house. Believe it or not, he managed to take a nap with all that racket. It was an abreviated nap, but a little nap is WAY BETTER than no nap at all. So I was a happy camper.

Since we temporarily moved the stuff in Madeline's room out into the dining room, it looks like the house had a hurricane blow through late in the season. With stuff all over the dining room, my little sewing spot has been invaded. So it will probably be a few weeks before I can get back to making things. ***sigh***

Well, the hammers and saws are not the only thing to make me smile yesterday. I was informed by our first agency that our much anticipated transfer letter has finally been signed off on. I have been eagerly waiting this piece of paper (and news) since we accepted Madeline's referral back in October. This transfer has taken much longer than I had hoped, but still, I am happy to finally see this day.

Now that our dossier transfer letter is signed off on, our new agency will send it off along with our LOI documents (that were done back in the first week of November.) So very soon, I will get the word that we are officially waiting for PA (pre-approval.) In the meantime, I am figuring out what kind of care/cake package to send Madeline. So that when official word comes, we are ready to bust a move!

Meanwhile, my friends, Lisa & Russell, are "patiently" waiting for TA so they can travel to China to bring home their second daughter. I am hoping they hear very soon and can finally start to make their travel arrangements. It will be bummer not to be in China again with them. But I hope their travelmates have a computer so they don't appear to fall off the end of the earth while they're away. I hope I have great news to share again very soon....

......well, that time to share is NOW!!!! LOI baby!!! LOI!!!! I know. I know. Most people get nuts over LOA. But today, these three little letters are the sweetest ones ever! I called our new agency today to get an update, since I was told by our old agency that they signed off on our transfer letter. Well, wouldn't you know...when I called to speak with our China coordinator, she told me she had our file on her desk and was getting ready to click *submit* on the online system. I had to tell myself to breath because I couldn't believe I was finally hearing that! She told me she was submitting our LOI documents along with our transfer letter....and now we wait for PA! WOO HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last night, I started looking at care package options again in anticipation of the transfer. And I started to feel a little impatient. (I've been dying to send Madeline a care package since we accepted her referral at the end of October.) Well, now that we are officially waiting for PA, I am hoping the news comes before the end of the year. In fact, it would make a nice Christmas present.....being able to send my little girl something would just make me so happy. Getting updated measurements would be nice too so I know what to shop for and what size clothes to make. But just the opportunity to finally start bathing my girl in love is all I want for Christmas.

What a Holiday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent Thanksgiving Day with our friends, Lisa & Shail. We enjoyed fried turkey and all the fixin's, plus Thai tea, thanks to Lily....yummy! Caleb had so much fun having "picnics" with Maggie. We had an awesome time, too. Lisa & Shail, you rock!

The day after Thanksgiving, my sister Deb, brother-in-law Andy, and niece Leah came over. I have been doing some retail therapy for Madeline. And since Leah is about the same age/size we think Madeline will be when we bring her home, I thought it would be fun to have Leah try on some of Madeline's clothes. Much to Deb's surprise, Leah was very cooperative. Because of inconsistencies across brands/sizes, Leah had to try EVERYTHING on. And she did great! She even tried on the first dress I made Madeline. And I have to tell you, she looked absolutely adorable in it. I can't wait to see my girl all dolled up and looking girlie.

Saturday was another great day as the Florida Gators beat the Florida State Seminoles in football, 37-10. It was Tim Tebow's last game at home as a senior. I will really miss that guy wearing orange and blue. Not only has he been a great quarterback, winning the Heisman Trophy as a sophmore and two National Championships (so far), he is such a godly man. I have so much respect for him, both on and off the field. I'm kinda looking forward to the SEC Championship game on Saturday...but not really. I'm not so sure we can pull off a victory against Alabama. So we'll see.

Still no news on our paperwork for Madeline....but hopefully we'll hear something by the end of the week. On a positive note, the Kukunest bedding I ordered for her room arrived today. And I have to say that it is as cute as it looks online!  Unfortunately, the Lantern Festival only comes in toddler and twin. So it will only go on her toddler bed.  I ended up purchasing the Little Friends bedding for her big girl bed.  I think they're really cute together.   We're having some minor work done to her room, most of which probably won't start until January. But her new window should be installed next week, along with our much needed shed out back. It's starting to feel real. Yay.

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About This Blog

This blog is the place where shared our lives while waiting to bring our daughters Madeline and Havi home from China. (Our son Caleb was already home before this blog began.) It is now the place where we continue to share our life experiences, both big and little, as we try to glorify God and raise our 3 dumplings from China.

Feel free to join us as we journey through life, while I try to capture our days...

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