June 30, 2012

The Lake House

My apologies for the silence.  We had our annual work-cation at the lake house – that time every year when Lucas spends a week planning, organizing, and preparing for the upcoming year at the church…while the twins and I enjoy a relaxing vacation.  The one thing about lake house week is that we have no internet.  I made sure to schedule some posts for the time we were gone (to continue the flow and prevent a large gap between posts - haha).  I took the time to edit the pictures at the lake house so they would be ready to upload and go.  I even wrote out posts in word documents so I could just copy and paste and publish!  Easy peasy!  Except…it turns out that I sort of love not having internet.  It is delightful what I can get accomplished when I'm not distracted by facebook or e-mail or blogs!  And since we had all sorts of busyness when we returned home, and it involved a lot that needed to get accomplished, I simply kept going as if I had no internet.  Sorry, grandparents.  I know you are the ones the long silences hurt the most…

And now the posts that I pre-wrote seem completely irrelevant, so I’m starting fresh (fewer stories, more pictures).
We had a blast!  Our time, of course, involved a LOT of swimming:

This year we took some rides on the peddle paddle boat.  The twins also enjoyed jumping off the back...

 ...even though it was safely on shore!
We also did a lot of hiking,
and running,
and playing in the grassy field.

This year we even took the time to get a picture next to the big totem pole!
Look at their excitement!
There was a lot more…but I discovered that, if I included it all in 1 post, it would have 26 pictures…and that is a little ridiculous.  Hopefully this will tide the grandparents over until the next post.  I promise it will pop up soon!

June 14, 2012

Berry Picking

Under the bridge
And over the dam
Looking for berries
Berries for jam.

Have you ever read the book "Jamberry?"  If not, you should.  It was one of my favorites when I was little.  I loved the lilting, silly rhyme and the delightful pictures.  Imagine my surprise and delight when it was a gift from our cousins for Christmas!  Even more delightful?  Going on our own berry picking adventure last week at a local strawberry patch.

 Three berry
Four berry
Finger and pawberry
My berry, your berry.

 Strawberry ponies
Strawberry lambs
Dancing in meadows
Of strawberry jam.

 Mountains and fountains
Rain down on me
Buried in berries
What a jam jamboree!
We are almost literally "buried in berries." 8 quarts to be exact.  I've never made jam, but Little Grandma tells me freezer jam is easy, so I'm going to attempt my own "jam jamboree!"  In the meantime, we will have plenty of yummy strawberries with all our meals...and enough to freeze to enjoy throughout the summer (and fall?)!

June 12, 2012

Praying. WAITING. Hoping.

Does the title sound familiar?
Almost exactly a year ago I shared this post.  It was the first time we put our hearts out for everyone to see.  It was the first time we publicly put forth our hope to adopt.  It was a request for friends and family to join us in the journey of adoption.

A year later we have an exciting announcement.

We are on the waiting list.

We were told that, from application to approval, the process with CIS took 3-4 months.  Less than 2 months from sending in our application our approval came in the mail!  With that over, the next step is to go on the list to be matched.

The irony?  The estimate match time is 12 months.  It could be more.  It could be less (I so hope it is less!!).  But, how cool is it that almost exactly a year after the first post, I am letting you all know that we have reached one of the biggest steps - and that it is likely that almost exactly a year from now I could be posting an even bigger announcement?!  Because at the end of this step, we will know our children.  We will have names, and a little information, and pictures.  I can't wait to have pictures.  I can't wait to see the faces of the children I dream about holding in my arms.  I can't wait to have something tangible for Allie and Ryan to look at and say, "this is my new brother(s)/sister(s).

12 months.  While it seemed like an eternity at times, looking back it doesn't feel like it has been that long.  Surely, the next 12 months will feel similarly speedy in hindsight.

So we joyfully, enthusiastically, hopefully, and prayerfully WAIT.

In the meantime, I'm soaking up life.  I don't like to feel like I'm missing the wonderful moments now because I'm so focused on someday, and the distraction of life is a wonderful way to avoid watching the calendar and obsessively counting the days.

So here is a piece of life from our last week:
 I had been wanting to create "spend, save, give" banks for the twins.  Something to help them teach a little about money.  They "give money to Jesus" every week in the church offering, but it is the money mommy and daddy give them.  I wanted them to be more empowered in their giving...and spending.  But I didn't have banks, and buying banks was expensive, and I couldn't quite figure out how to go about this project.
 When we were in Nebraska, my Grandma took me out to her garage and packed a shoebox of decorate-your-own banks.  Exactly 3 each.  Spend. Save. Give.
 So the kids got to painting (they are thrilled with their creations).  Then, once they were dry, we emptied their big piggy banks and let them split the coins however they wanted (the banks don't hold bills well, so we set the big bills aside to start savings accounts for the twins, and put the small bills back in their big banks to be saved for later).  They picked the pigs for spend, the turtles for save, and the teddy bears for give.  And somehow that makes perfect sense to me...
Thank you, Grandma, for helping me accomplish this project!

p.s. another bit of "life" we have coming up is this year's Yard Sale!  It is exciting, in this time of waiting, to be able to do some productive fundraising to bring our Uganda children home.  We have a LOT to sell, but we never turn down donations - especially if it is the offer to borrow tables for the sale because I have no clue where we are going to put everything!

June 09, 2012

Cousin Sleepover!

We had the cousins for a sleepover last weekend.  It has been a while since we had them overnight last.  One of the biggest changes has been potty training.  D is the only one who still wears diapers, but she wanted to keep up with the big kids.  There was a lot of this kind of potty party fun:
 We took the kids to the park (to wear them out).  The merry-go-round was the first stop.

 Ryan and Allie wanted to go to the slides shortly after.  D followed them up, froze at the top, and then sat down on the stairs.
 Recognizing a photo op, Allie joined her
 Not one to miss a picture, Ryan jumped in.
 And then they scattered (and it happened just like that in under a minute!).
H, in the meantime, wasn't finished with the merry-go-round so she enjoyed some time with Uncle Lucas.
Who managed to talk her into joining us, but not on the slides.  She preferred the monkey bars :)
 What's this?  A cousin dance party!  D liked to climb up to the slides, but not go down them.  She would get up to the highest point and dance!  Pretty soon Allie (whose blonde curls are barely visible behind Ryan) joined her, and then Ryan and H jumped in!  Oh, and you can see my hand too - I also joined the dance party :)
 D would only go down the slide if I went with her.  So down we went!
 Then H wanted me to go down with her.
 Our park is pretty spread out, and every time we moved to something new we made it a race (to run them and wear them out more).  Where is D?
 She's coming.  Her little legs couldn't quite keep up with the big kids.  But she tried!
 At first they offered to swing on the big kid swings, but they couldn't keep their eyes off the 2 in the bucket swings.  And soon...
 ...they were all 4 in the 2 bucket swings together!
 Our plan worked.  They all slept great.  D & H woke up during the early morning because they were cold, but otherwise, not a peep!  The next morning they woke up 1-by-1, so they watched Little Einsteins as they waited for everyone to trickle in.
 I planned a lot of special treats (that I made ahead) including whole wheat waffles for breakfast (to go with the berries H & D's mommy brought) and "ice cream" sandwiches (made from these 2 recipes: cake mix cookies - made with applesauce in place of eggs -  and banana "ice cream" - with frozen cherries added because I only had 1 frozen banana...).  I let them dip the "ice cream" sandwiches in sprinkles...which got a little messy, but was so fun!
 Before getting dressed we headed to the basement to let the cousins add to our mural wall.  Where is D?  Well, I thought I gave her a container of paint that had a secure lid she couldn't remove.  I turned to hand paint brushes to the other kids and turned around in time to see her remove her lid from her container...rather explosively.  This resulted (as you can imagine) in me removing her to clean her up (I left the paint on the carpet...it's just remnants in the basement so I don't consider it ruined)...which resulted in a complete meltdown.  The poor girl was exhausted from trying to keep up with the big kids.  She ended up taking a 2 hour nap that morning (unusual) and another almost 2 hour nap in the afternoon!
What they are painting (according to them): Ryan - a mirror, Allie - a boat, Harper - a mirror.
The older cousins were thrilled to show off their mural to Nana & Poppy, and H couldn't wait to show it off to her mommy and daddy as well!  What's that?  Nana and Poppy?  Oh, did I forget to mention that Nana and Poppy surprised everyone by coming down for one last visit on the way to take Poppy to the boat?  They did!  Unfortunately, they arrived and I set down my camera and didn't get a single picture of them with the grandkids...fail.  Oh, well.  We had a super fun cousin sleepover.  At one point during the morning H said, "Kim, I have so much fun at your house."  Thanks, kiddo :)

June 07, 2012


On Wednesday last week, we had to get biometric fingerprints done as part of the adoption process.  Have I mentioned these before?  It is part of the process with the USCIS.  We sent in our application to be approved to adopt internationally and we received a letter a week or so later informing us that we would be receiving written notification of the date, time, and location of our biometric fingerprinting.  It felt like a covert op.  I kept thinking I should have a code word I would have to say to the mailman before he would hand over the letter.  A week or so later* it appeared, and - just as they promised - it had the date, time, and location of our biometric fingerprints.  No instructions on what to do if this date or time didn't work for you (I did have to reschedule a test I was supposed to take the same day and time).  Nothing.  I half expected there to be  note at the bottom saying that it would self-destruct in 5 seconds (I watched too much Inspector Gadget when I was a kid...).

I can't tell you how exciting it was when they day arrived.  This is the only thing we actually DO in a period of 3-4 months of mostly waiting to hear back from CIS.  It felt so delightfully productive.  What we did realize (a night or so before) was that we had to be in Detroit (a decent drive) at 8am, and we had forgotten to find someone to watch our kids.  So we had to wake them up and take them with us.  Thank goodness we had just done the same for long road trips.  My children don't even question being awakened before dawn and carried to the van in their pajamas...

We had to go through security at the Homeland Security building.  It was like being at an airport.  For some reason, I wasn't prepared and got really flustered.  I forgot my keys were in my jacket pocket, so I set off the metal detector.  And then they had to inspect my bag because there was a suspicious object (a battery operated dump truck that I had confiscated in church - because it makes noise - a few days earlier and forgotten was still there).  Thankfully, everything went smoothly after that.  There was almost no line, we got in really quickly, and the people seemed to enjoy my children and their innocent delight over EVERYTHING.  In fact, they thought it was so cool that they wanted theirs done too (CIS has a policy of not fingerprinting anyone younger than 14...the fingerprint taking girl apologetically informed Allie...plus it costs like $80 - more than I want to pay for a fun experience).  But, since the twins were so interested, I helped them do their fingerprints at home!
Sorry for the poor picture quality.  I left my camera at Logan and Mindy's on Memorial Day, so I only had my phone to document the activity.
We used washable marker because 1) it is easily washable 2) they could pick whatever color they wanted.  I colored their fingers and pressed them onto the paper and it worked! They aren't the most clear (they look even less clear because I blurred them for the blog), but the twins could clearly see the dermal ridges (or "special lines" as we call them) that make up their fingerprints.  We talked about how everyone has the lines on their fingers and the lines make up a special pattern that is like no one else.  They really liked knowing that it was something unique to them.  And now they have become obsessed.  They put their fingerprints on the fridge, but adjust them several times a day so they look just perfect.  And I frequently find the twins staring at their fingers saying things like, "Look at my lines!  They are so cool.  No one else has lines like me."
This also opened the door for some more conversation about the adoption and getting new brother(s)/sister(s).  The twins still don't have a great grasp on what all is going on, but they know it will mean little siblings.  Allie is thrilled.  Can't wait.  Ryan is unsure.  If he gets a brother he will like it more.  I like looking for opportunities to talk - on their level - about what we are doing.  I hope each time it helps them understand a little more.  But it will probably just lead to them asking their friends if they got to do their fingerprints before their younger siblings!
*Time frames might be skewed.  When you are waiting on something, every day feels like a month.  When it arrives, you look back and feel like barely days have passed since your application...

June 05, 2012

Memorial Weekend

Some people travel for Memorial Weekend, we came home.  Just in time.  Our weekend was packed.  The day after we came home was the church's annual pie sale, so that was a busy day.  Sunday the church had their annual Memorial Service in the cemetery behind the church.  It's a beautiful service and a favorite for everyone (we even have a family who travels every year to attend our church for that service).
The twinners helping me figure out lighting and camera settings before the service.
Monday we celebrated Memorial Day in style.  First up was a pancake breakfast put on by the local Lyons.  Then a parade (I didn't get any pictures.  I was so bummed!) that ended in the cemetery where they had a beautiful Memorial Day service.  The big highlight for the twins: their TaeKwon Do instructor (who used to be in the Air Force) was carrying the POW MIA flag in the parade!  They were so excited to see someone they knew (and say hi when it was over).

We had planned to get together with the same friends we were with last year and have a bbq, but our plans fell through that day.  We figured we would have a quiet day at home when we got a call from Uncle Logie inviting us to their house for a cousin pool party!
A very full pool :)
 H wanted to run through the sprinkler, but not alone.  So the cousins took turns holding hands and running through together!

But her favorite person to run her through the sprinkler was her daddy!
 Sharing secrets.
 I love having cousins close!  We had such a fun night!