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Monday, August 29, 2011

Chapter 2 - Why China?

Why not?

There are millions orphans in the world.  Is any one of them less or more deserving than another to have a forever family?  Does being a citizen of one particular country mean this child is more or less deserving of mother love than a another child born a citizen of a different country?

Ask us the same question a decade earlier, and our answer would have been very very different.  But ever since we visited there, Papa and I have been fascinated with Asian cultures.  Just because we are more familiar with it than other Asian countries, VietNam would have been our first choice.  Just keepin' it real.  But VietNam is now closed to US citizens to adopt from.  (Don't even get me up on that soap box.  I might never come down.)  But our family has committed to bringing up our children to embrace their Asian heritage and part of this means celebrating holidays and eating foods from half way around the world and...  Again, to be frank, (or Bob, or Mark, or Howard) I'm lazy, and introducing another culture into our home at this point, would only dilute the celebration of the Asian culture that we all have come to love.

I guess that leaves why not adopt from the US foster care system.  Hmmmmm...  That one is a little harder to answer.  We took all the classes and everything.  The most honest answer I can give is that we really felt God was again leading us to to international adoption, specifically China.  A lot of prayer and conversation with The Big Guy upstairs, and He directed our path.  Both Papa and I whole-heatedly believe that someday, we will get involved in the US foster care system.  But probably not with the intention of adoption, but rather with the intention that it really is the right thing to do.

But for now, God led our hearts back to Asia.

So why adopt from China?  The simplest answer is still... Why not?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer faves

It's a 116 degrees today and my summer is over.   Sure doesn't feel like it.  My head is still sweating.  Head sweat is the worst!  Any one know what I'm talking about?

Kelly, is hosting "favorite images of summer" over on her blog.  Got me perusing my photos to see what images I had captured this summer.  I was really busy this summer doing lots of absolutely nothing, and somehow, I just don't think I got around to taking as many photos as I usually do.  But as I looked around, I do have some favorites that remind me what an awesome summer it was.

This fist pic is my newest nephew, M.  I adore the short depth of focus, making me focus on those sweet eyelashes.  And gotta love the orange and green together, including that little bit or peach fuzz that matches his shirt!  Little boys with squishable cheeks are divine!

I had a whole series of pics of Tess running around and being crazy whompus.  As Tess often does, she got this serious moment in the middle of it all and those eyes or hers just pierced my soul... once again.  So so glad I captured it.   Plus the side light is so pretty!

I love this image for the way it frames Jude's body.  He was pretty wet after finding the hose (thus the reason he doesn't have a shirt) and brown never looked so pretty to me.  Brown fence rails.  Brown wall behind.  Brown shoes and shorts.  Brown hair and eyes.  

I think this will forever be one of my favorite pics of Liv ever.  Ever.  Ever.  Mostly I love the imperfections about it.  (And ya, the incredible light!)  The black rubber band around her wrist.  Her crooked necklace.  That hair falling in front of her eye.  This image just oozes so much of who Liv is in her soul.  I imagine it will appear on her wedding video some day.

OK, I'm a sucker for light.  I'm frequently practicing back lighting.  And this one just feels so summer-y to me.  The way the little particles in the air have light reflected off them.  The sun flare.  The halo around her hair.  Plus the movement of her dress and body.  I think this one is going to be blown up big, 24"x36" on one of those canvases.  

I don't think this image ever made the blog.  This may be Sunny's last year at home.  We were at a picnic and there was some farm equipment.  We jumped the fence and shot a couple frames for her senior photos.  Sunny is such a city girl and that tractor behind her is such a dichotomy.  

This one just captures what 90% of my summer was like.  Watching near naked babes, cousins, playing in my in-law's back yard.  Summer is cousin time for us, and we had a whole glorious lot of it this season!

This is who Patch is, soaking up life at every single turn.  He was actually in the middle of an 18 hole golf tournament, and not doing very well either.  Didnt' matter one bit to him.  Life is good.
Luv it in black & white.

The annual pow-wow is always a highlight of my summer.  So many colors and sounds and flavors.  I had this image, but in black and white, enlarged and hung at little cabin in the woods.  
The beginning of our summer was consumed with tracking the Wallow fire.  It was about 25 miles away and smoke often blanketed little cabin in the woods.  This sign says so much about how this community views wild fires and the hot shots that protect it.  

I didn't take this shot, Liv did.  This is me and my very best friends from both grade school, middle school, and high school.  We still see each other about every month or so.  This one is getting framed for sure!

Hop on over to Kelly's blog to see more favorite images of summer, and add some of your own!  What happened to summer?  It's gone already?

Friday, August 26, 2011

My favorite bowl of phở

If I'm lucky, if the house gets kinda cleaned and the laundry reasonable caught up, and the littles aren't screaming through the house destroying everything in their path cranky, if the honey-do list isn't too long, I get to go here on the week end.
It's really just a tiny little place in a strip mall, but here's the best thing about it.  
It has my very favorite bowl of phở.  Ever.  
(If you don't know what phở is then... hmmmm... here's my best white-girl attempt to explain.)

The phở there isn't the best.  Don't get me wrong, it's really good phở, but it's not the best.  And honestly, the booths are a bit uncomfortable.  But it's still my favorite bowl of phở, maybe just because I didn't make it.
Maybe because I get to sit across from Boo, complete with crooked glasses, and watch him slurp noodles till his heart's content.   I sure do luv luv luv those crooked glasses.  Sweet boy, please never grow up, ok?
On the first day of school, each student had to stand up and say their favorite food.  And Boo said his favorite food was phở.  Everyone else said, What is that?

Maybe it's watching this guy, the one on the right, the one with the soup bowl the size of the Hoover Dam, trying to win free phở for a year by consuming that whole vat of phở in less than an hour.  And by the way, he didn't make it.
Maybe it's the Viet people that come in.
Maybe it's the fact that this bowl of phở is only $3.  
Maybe it's just being in the middle of a Viet neighborhood where I get to be a minority for once.
Ya, the bowl is bigger than she is!

Maybe it the fact that my favorite grocery store is just across the street and we always follow up lunch with a trip to the Viet grocery store.  

Maybe it the menu with things like bun bowls and boba balls.
And yummy salad rolls too!  (They look better than ours!)
Or maybe it's just 'cause I get to be together with them doing something we all love.  
Ya, that's probably why it my favorite bowl of phở.   

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dem's good folk

The Sparrow Fund ROCKS!!!!!

We received something just wonderful!
We have been blessed!
We received news that we've been awarded a grant from The Sparrow Fund, to cover the future expense of a medical review for the file of any child that we might be considering for adoption!!!!!!  A glorious blessing!
The Sparrow Fund is a non-profit 503(c)3 organization that provides funds to qualifying pre-adoptive families for medical reviews of the child they are considering adopting.

When an agency calls adoptive parents with a potential child, I'll tell you from first hand experience, that all commonsense and reason flies out the window!  Logic takes a back seat to nerves, excitement, and fear.  You can hardly remember your own name and phone number, much less make a life altering decision.  So to have an international adoption doctor look over medical documents and explain terminology and answer questions, especially regarding a special need's child and one that is institutionalized, is an invaluable service!  A medical evaluation (and the continued support that these professionals offer) is so important when considering if a child will be a good match for a family.  The cost of this service from medical providers is usually between $400-$600.  And we are so so so excited to have the burden relieved of finding these funds, on what will be a very short notice.

If you're involved with IA or know someone who it, please pass along the news of this fabulous organization!  I know my blog has a few readers who are involved with adoption circles of China, South Korea, Haiti, and Ethiopia.  Please forward the news of this wonderful organization to your adoption circles.  Grab the badge and put it on your blog.  (It's here on Kelly's blog.)  Pretty please?  Dem's good folk!  And they're offering financial assistance for a really important step in the adoption process, and that's really good stuff all the way around!

Thank you so much, Sparrow Fund!  This crazy family is so so grateful!

Now... if we could only have an occasion to use it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chapter 1 - The paper chase

The documentation necessary to adopt is really scarydisturbingintimidatinga possible deal breakernauseatingincredibly expensiveridiculous, profound... to put it mildly.
To adopt internationally, the documentation is mind blowing.
State documentation
Federal documentation
International documentation
A home study
Court rulings
Police clearances...

But when we realized the Lord had a purpose for us, a path to follow.. we started the paper chase.
The first step was to gather all the the docs needed for our home study.
Recommendation letters.
Home visits from our social worker.
Marriage and birth certificates for each of the crazy 8.
Insurance and banking statements.
Social security cards.
Medical checks.
And even rabies certificates for our dogs and photos of the lock on our pool fence.... just to name a few.

But wait wait... we're not done yet!
The home study process is just the start of the paperwork.
Because we hadn't passed out from the process yet, we moved onto the next step, the ever-popular collection of documents for our dossier.  {The dossier is the collection of documents that is forwarded to and represent ourselves to a foreign government, in our case, The People's Republic of China.}
Dossier requirements include
And pictures of both our family and our home.
Here's the 3" binder that I keep all the docs in complete with FedEx account numbers at the ready.
...complete with a crazy amount of color coded, to-do, post-its.
and this is the crazy part, 
each and every document needs to have the signature notarized.  Our doctor, employers, our own signatures, social workers, etc... Nobody gets to just "sign" anything.  All have to sign in the presence of an official notary who indicates that the person who signed it, is indeed who he/she says he/she is. 

Then the Arizona Sec of State has to state certify every document to indicate that the notary is indeed who he/she says she is and is an official notary.  'Cause all those fake notaries are always trying to pull one over on the general public.  

Then these docs, ('cause who would want this fun process to end yet?) with notaries and state certifications, are FedEx-ed to the China Consulate here in the good ol' USA, and they indicate that the Secretary of State is indeed who they say they are.  Just in case you were doubting them.  

Only after this paper trail of everyone validating and authenticating and certifying who everyone else is, can we deliver the very-large-by-now pile of documents to the China government for review.  And don't you be messing with any of the staples, grommets, or stickers 'cause that will invalidate the whole thing!

Somewhere in the middle of it all, Hillary Clinton got involved.  
No jokin'.
Arizona seal for state certification
 11 months of work ends up looking like this.  Our official China dossier!
Our agency then-
1)  looks over all the documentation and may or may not ask for revisions, (thankfully ours didn't) 
2)  ships it all off to China, 
3)  where it is translated, 
4)  and ONLY THEN it is finally turned over to the CCCWA (fancy schmancy adoption lingo for the division of the China gov't that is in charge adoptions) 
5) who ultimately awards the the ever-coveted LID (Log In Date)

This part of the adoption process, the paperwork/dossier gathering, usually takes families 4-6 months.
Our LID is January 27, 2011.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {Let the canning begin}

It's canning season again!
My sister-in-law and I have been busy little bees.  'Cause when we find peaches on sale for 3lbs for a dollar, we just can't pass it up.
For much of August and September, we'll be getting together and peeling and smashing or boiling or canning.
This week I found pears on sale for 3 lbs for $1 and texted Sherri to see if she was game.  We had just done peaches last week, and peach jam the week before that, and I wasn't sure if the blisters from all that peeling had healed yet.
We have 10 kiddos between us, and only one is toddling around this time.
This is my nephew P who is trying so hard to show me he'll be "two fingers" next month.
Don't let that toddler in your lap slow your down, Sherri!  You still have 47 lbs of pears to peel!
Putting the peels and cores in the syrup to simmer makes the most heavenly "juice" for the pears.
Boo calls it "juice" in the hopes that I'll let him put it in a cup and drink it.  Fat chance, Boo.
Some where in the middle of it all, we had to take a break to meet Tess and Jude's school bus.
How excited my littles were to share their day with me...
...and their Auntie Sherri too.
We feed all the little ones lunch, put them down for naps, and finish up canning and tidy up the kitchen.

So 54 pounds a pears later, and new blisters from peeling and coring, we ended up with 28 quarts of spiced pears.  14 quarts per family.
Aren't they pretty?
This stuff is divine on cottage cheese!  Or on pancakes or waffles.  Or the lazy mama-got-up-late-this-moring way in a bowl with a spoon.  We pop open a quart jar of fruit for breakfast about once or twice a week the whole school  year.  No artificial colors, or preservatives.  Just fruit and sugar and water.  Oh ya, and a little nutmeg this time too.  At less than $1 a jar, it is SO worth it.
So far this year we've made peach-strawberry jam, canned peaches, peach marmalade, spiced pears, and peach and pear pancake syrup.  Hopefully still to come depending on what goes on sale are applesauce, spiced apples, strawberry-plum jam, pumpkin butter, and orange marmalade.  Maybe it's all that brain damage from excessive exposure to progesterone, but I actually look forward to canning season.  Sure, it's a ton of work, but my family loves what we make and I get a ton of Oh that's my favorite! and This is so good, Mama!
And that makes it so worth while!
Sunday Snapshot

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