I spent seventy dollars on candy and we ran out in the first hour.
Thankfully, many people donated candy so we didn't run out until the very end. I have never seen more kids in one place in my life. Well, except maybe Disneyland.
This dog loves getting dressed up in her Sunday best.
Paige was so excited to go to the church. She asked me every fifteen minutes, all day long, if it was almost time to go.
We bought this at Disneyland during the summer. It is the princess bride dress.
Here she is walking down the aisle. Gives me shivers just thinking about it.
At times, the adoption journey can be frustrating. And long. And expensive. And faith building. And completely wonderful!
Yesterday I had a new experience to add to our adoption journey.
While having my yearly "woman's" exam my cell phone began to ring. I ignored it. A few moments later the phone began to ring again. The doctor tells me that she is going to grab it as it might be one of the kids. OK, fine, I think.
I answer the phone with my annoyed voice really not wanting to speak to anyone while I am in the dreaded stirrups. It is not my kids. It is officer Johnson from the Los Angeles office of United States Customs and Immigration Services office. He wanted to inform me that they had our extension ready to go but were waiting on our updated home study to finish processing it. I told him I understood this and we were waiting for our updated finger prints so I could send it to him. He was very nice and I was extremely impressed that they would take the time to call me.
Two thumbs up for L.A. U.S.C.I.S..
However, the next time I talk with them I would prefer to not have my feet three feet in the air and a cold metal object being probed inside of me.
He gave me lots of information that I should have written down, but alas, I did not have a pen on me. When my doctor asked me who that was I got to giggling so hard I could hardly answer. However, when I did, we both had a good laugh about it.
After I got the call from Officer Johnson I received an email from our social worker saying that they had received our fingerprints report from the state. It only took 9 days! Thank you Lord for answered prayer. She is sending the report to us overnight so I can send it to USCIS tomorrow. I am hoping Officer Johnson gets it and processes it asap.
So, we are still waiting for our court date and hopefully we will hear something in the next week. I can't wait to hold that new I-171H in my hands so I will know that nothing can stop us from going and getting our kiddo's once we pass court. Amen to that!
What do you think Officer Johnson would think if I had told him what I was doing as we talked? Poor guy probably would have had a heart attack!
My fabulous friend Roxanne and her hubby Terri are giving us this crib.
Isn't it pretty? They are also giving us the mattress they bought. Neither piece has every been used. I love the drawer underneath for blankets, etc.. What a blessing this is for our family!
I bought this cute ladybug bedding and was so excited when I saw it because Paige has been telling me she wanted her room decorated with butterflies and ladybugs. This is perfect!
By the way our beautiful baby girl will be named Amelia Tigist. We are keeping her Ethiopian name as her middle name.
Our son will be named Levi Getaneh. Again, both the name his Dad and I picked for him, plus his Ethiopian birth name.
I also did a lot of thinking about Levi this weekend. I almost bought him some clothes but I am waiting for some updated measurements first. I had a very strong urge to buy some trucks and cars but my niece who was shopping with me stopped me. They are giving us an adoption shower next month and I think they want the privilege of buying him a few things first.
Our children are so loved by our entire extended family already. We are all so anxious to get them home so they can be with us forever.
Levi will share a room with Garrett. It is the room that all three boys share right now. We are going to move our two teen boys down to the office and give the two younger boys there own room. I told Garrett we will wait until Levi is home to repaint, etc. so they can pick out decor together. That should be lots of fun!
Unfortunately, I am loosing our office school room but I am trying to think of some creative ways to put the stuff (and when you homeschool you have lots of stuff!) around the house. I definitely need to fit in some more bookshelves around. I'm sure it will all work out.
I am hoping that after the kids are home and settled we can convert our third car garage into the school room/office. That would work out great. I just need to save the $$$$$$ to get that done.
Amelia and Levi, we can't wait until you are home! Praying hard this week to hear about a court date!
If I want to make my children really happy I show up in the morning with a fresh box of donuts. Its amazing the giant smile the treat of a sprinkle donut can produce.
I have been feeling like my children lately. Blessed by so many in ways that I am sure the giver was really unaware of. It has made me realize how powerful a kind word or a smile really is. I think at times we all tend to forget this.
Through our adoption journey we have been blessed beyond measure. Our family and friends are supportive and excited about our new family members. Even those who, I am sure, think we are CRAZY have been overall supportive and loving.
We have had family members offer to throw us a shower (a new baby in the family, yeah!), buy our new son toys and clothes, paint rooms or help us get ready in any way possible, some have given us money to help pay for our expenses and others have just been there when I needed to vent my frustrations at this whole process. No one has said "I told you so.". Love has surrounded us.
A few days ago I got an email from my friend, Roxanne, saying that they had a brand new crib and crib mattress they would love to bless us with. They ended up adopting an older child and had no use for the crib. What a blessing to our family! She had no idea we were in need of these items, but God knew. I know this family has been praying for our children as we prayed for their adorable son Eric before he came home.
In the past I have been much more comfortable being the one blessing someone. It is hard for me to receive. However, I now understand that I was withholding the joy from our friends and family by not letting them bless us. God has answered our prayers by sending his followers to do his work in our lives. How dare I try and block that work!
So, I am learning to be a better receiver. Feeling so blessed and awe struck as I look at our journey and see how Jesus has truly been with us for this entire trip. I read my journal and prayer requests over this past 18 months and marvel at how prayers were answered that I didn't even realize.
I'm not really sure where I wanted this post to go. Just that I wanted to remind us all how easy it is to really bless someone. It doesn't take a lot of money or time. A warm word of encouragement and a smile goes so far.
My children's faces light up when I happen by them with a encouraging word for no reason but just because I love them. When my children come up and give me a big hug, just because, I am also blessed. It can change a bad day into a good day in a moment.
Have you blessed someone with a warm smile today? If not, go now. You won't be sorry you did.
One of the families at our agency, who got a referral right before court closure in July, was notified on Monday that they had a court date on Friday, yesterday. I just got an email that they passed. How wonderful for them that after waiting all summer they could get a wonderful blessing like this so quickly? I am also thrilled they passed because they have said they will take some new photo's of our kiddo's for us and check in on them for me. Our little guy looks so sad in all his photo's. I really need someone to lay eyes on him and give me a report on how he is adjusting. That truly would be a blessing to this mama's heart.
Early last week I almost had a heart attack when I looked at our "golden ticket" which in the adoption world is your I-171H document issued by USCIS. The approval is good for 18 months, and you cannot adopt a child (from anywhere) without it. Ours was set to expire on October 10th, so when we requested that our age range be increased a few months ago I asked that they also give us our one time free extension on this document. This is a $650.00 piece of paper and believe me, no one wants to pay this fee twice.
Well, when I received our amended approval with our new age requests approved I must not have looked at the paper really carefully. This was during the time that we lost our first referral and emotions were running high. I had to copy our approval last week and when I looked closely at the document I realized they had not processed our extension. Just the age change. Our approval had EXPIRED. You cannot bring an orphan into this country without that approval! I FREAKED OUT!
Now, as I stated previously you are allowed a one time free extension if you request it BEFORE the expiration date. Ours was already more than a week over due. I wanted to cry, and I did.
I spoke with our social worker at our agency and she talked me down off the ledge. She said the approval has nothing to do with us getting a court date as it was current when we got our referral. However, we would not be able to travel to pick up the children until we got a new approval.
I called USCIS in Los Angeles and amazingly (thank you Lord!) actually got someone on the phone. I told him what had happened and how I was panicked we would not be able to travel and pick up our kids. He was very nice and told me to overnight our request for an extension and he would try and get it through without charging us the fee again.
However, there was one problem. Because our approval had lapsed we had to have our fingerprints redone by the state before our home study agency could give us an updated home study. Something we had to send with our new request.
So, I overnighted the documents to the officer I spoke with explaining that the home study update would follow soon. This all happened last week. We got an appointment for Monday morning to get our fingerprints redone and were in and out of the building in 25 minutes. The girl who took our prints said that results have been taking anywhere from 2-30 days to come back. Believe me I have been on my knee's praying for the two day turn around. Everything else is ready in our update, but they cannot give it to me until they receive news that we have not turned into wanted child molest*rs in the past 18 months.
Here is the real deal. Once I send our home study to USCIS they will process our request and then send us a new "golden ticket". However, they then need to cable our approval to the visa office in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. This can take a few weeks.
If we pass court and are given a Visa appointment in Addis before all this happens WE CANNOT TRAVEL. To say I am a little stressed over this fact would be a grave under statement. I don't want anything to stop us from getting our kids as soon as possible. I am so mad at myself for not looking at that piece of paper sooner, however, I am trying to show grace to myself for a change and not beat myself up to much.
The adoption process is a great faith builder. If God wants those children to be a part of this family he will take care of it. He is a big God and no "golden ticket" is going to stand in his way. Prayers would be appreciated for a speedy resolution to this paperwork glitch. We will get the approval, no doubt. I just want it to be quickly so we have no delays.
First off, I want to say, I am sorry I have been such a bad blogger lately. We have so much going on that getting onto the computer just has not been a priority.
Zach turned 18 last weekend. How could this possibly be? I don't feel old enough to have a child that is legally of age. Oh well, it happened, I must accept it.
We had a great time with family. We ate all his favorites. Subway sandwiches, fruit, Chinese chicken salad and nachos. A Baskin Robbins ice cream cake rounded out the pig out. This is my kid that watches what he eats and has great self control (something he inherited from his Dad) so this pig out was a great treat for him. I think he has gone to the gym every day this week to make up for it.
Opening his presents. Mostly cash, just what every American teen loves! Check out my dark roots. I SERIOUSLY need to color my hair!
Grandma giving Zach a hug while checking out his new snuggie. He had joked that he would love to have one of those. It was a big hit!
His little sister is trying to blow out the candles before he gets a chance. He was a good sport about that.
The end to a perfect day. Wrapped in his snuggie, computer on his lap (looking at ESPN no doubt) and faithful dog by his side. Happy Birthday Zach! We love you so much and are so blessed to have you as our son!
Just for fun I had to include this picture. Garrett's favorite sport is annoying his older sister. I think there is some rule that says little brothers are required to do this.
She finally had enough and decided to "take him down". She seems pretty happy with herself.
He has an ingrown fingernail that started looking infected.
I gave him cash, his insurance card and directions.
My first born will turn 18 on Sunday. He definitely needs to know how to do these things.
Why is it so hard for me to let go?
I called the High School to excuse his absence and the clerk says to me "Oh, this is probably the last time you will have to do this for him. As of next week he can sign himself in and out."
It seems once you turn 18 you have certain rights even if you are still a senior in High School.
I very sternly explained to him that his Dad and I expect he will not be abusing this privilege. The kid already has senioritice and school has only been back in for a month.
This is going to be a loooong school year for him.
However, there are some perks to having a responsible almost 18 year old living in your house.
I finished school with the other kids early and Zach took Tyler to his Auto Shop class this afternoon. Samantha watched the other kids and I took off for a couple hours of shopping All. By. Myself.
I feel like I just had a weeks vacation at the beach.
I really do love my life!
Note: I am still working on my second post in the Homeschooling through high school post. I will try and have it up by the end of the week.
*she had a great time playing with all the colors and making the fonts bigger and smaller. It was quite a story she was telling. To bad she doesn't know how to spell yet. lol
First, let me say that the idea of homeschooling a high school aged student filled me with terror not so very long ago. Then funny things started to happen. I kept meeting families that were homeschooling a teen and my attitude began to change. Those families were successful, their children seemed well educated, and all of them were going to college (if that was their chosen path).
If you asked Zachary (who is now a senior) what he learned going to High School he will tell you pretty much nothing. He is a smart kid who took mostly honors classes. We quickly found out that the best teachers were put into the non honors classes and the honors kids got what was left. Perhaps the theory being that these kids were self starters and could learn no matter who was teaching them. Last year Zach took Physics. My husband would look over his work and see that the teacher had graded his work incorrectly. Zach told us that the teacher couldn't show them how to work one of the problems in their book and he told the class that he was sorry, but he hadn't learned how to do that one yet. When we inquired at the school we found out that this teacher had a degree in Chemistry and had never taught Physics before. They asked us to please be patient. My guess is this poor teacher probably had a few weeks notice that he would be teaching this class (if that long) and had no time to prepare. He was learning as he taught. By the way this school is a "California Distinguished School".
I have seen so many Californians running from the public schools lately. We have great teachers, there is no doubt about that. However, the politicians have ruined our schools. I could do an entire post on that one sentence but I will save that for later. Bottom line....let the teachers teach.......politicians, stay out of the classrooms.
With all that being said we had some concerns about letting Tyler go to this school. He loves math and science and I wanted to make sure he got the best education possible.
The sentence above was the first reason we began to consider home education. However, my goals quickly changed. Yes, I wanted all of my children to get a good education but I also wanted them to learn about God's truths. I wanted them to have a Christian World View and not a "Hollywood" world view. As I began to dig into God's word I became convicted that I needed to make sure my children got a Christian education. As we could not afford the $9,600 a year our local Christian High School charged, homeschooling began to look better and better.
What about college? This is probably the first and most often asked question by people when they find out we are homeschooling a highschooler. To be honest, this was our first question to. So, I started researching colleges. My husband went to The California Institute of Technology and Tyler had expressed an interest in going there. I got on their web site and saw that they had a special link for students who had been home schooled. The site explained how to keep a portfolio of your work and what they would be looking for in their applicants. They stated that they wanted to see that science classes were taught by a "qualified person". Just to make sure I understood what a "qualified person" exactly was, I gave them a call. They were extremely helpful and said the qualified person did not have to be a credentialed teacher, just someone who had a basic knowledge of the subject they were teaching. She said his SAT scores as well as his portfolio of work would be much more important than who actually taught him. Interesting.
As we have begun looking at college brochures for Zach I have been pleasantly surprised at how the majority of them accept and give guidance to home schooled applicants. We have met so many families recently who have given us guidance in this area. One families oldest daughter is in her second year at Brown. She was homeschooled since kindergarten and received a full academic scholarship. We have not met one family that has had any problems getting their children into college. We were very encouraged by this fact. However, as several families have also reminded us, as Christians, we should not be educating our children to ensure that they get into Harvard, but educating them to insure they get into Heaven. I have been pondering that statement a lot lately.
I also have a little secret I want to share with you Internets. Shhhh, come close and I will whisper it into your ear. Ready? OK. The SAT has been dumbed down since we took it. If you are in your 30's or above your child will not be taking the same SAT you took. The government dumbed it down a while back. Seems our sweet youngins were having a hard time with it and it was becoming an embarrassment to our country. Zach had to take it last year. We kept telling him he needed to study but he would rebuff us. Mom, I only have to score a 1200 or above to get into the schools I want to go to. "Don't worry" he said. His Dad and I were not so sure.
Seems our boy was right.
Without studying, even one second, he got a 1700. The national average is 1538. A perfect score is 2400. Over 1,000,000 students took the SAT last year and only 20 of them received a perfect score. A respectable score is 1200 and will get you into most schools you want to go to. If you received a 2100 or above you are in the 90th percentile. College's are slobbering all over my child because he scored about the national average. Really? I think he should take it again and study this time. Lets see what he can really do. However, what is the incentive for that when the colleges are telling him his 1700 makes him nothing less than brilliant? Can we really fall any lower in our expectations of our children?
So, in a nutshell here is why we are homeschooling our teenager (as well as the younger children).
1. I want Him to learn from a Christian perspective and leave school with a Christian World View not a Secular one. I found it nearly impossible to "Train up my child in the way he should go" when he was away from me more than he was with me.
2. I feel we can give him a more complete education that meets his specific needs.
3. I have found the greatest added bonus of homeschooling has been the closer relationships I have seen form amongst all of the children. They are better friends and nothing gives me more pleasure than to see them all huddled on the couch together doing their school work. I would home school now just for that one reason.
As this post has gotten so long I will post tomorrow about what classes he is actually taking and what a typical day actually looks like.
Please note: If your child is in the public school system right now please do not think I am telling you that you are a bad parent. I am just telling you why WE made the decisions we did. Many families tell me they would love to home school but are afraid or don't know where to start. I am just going to try and be as honest as I can about our decisions and if that helps just one person I will be thrilled. We all love our children and want what is best for them. Of that, I have no doubts.
See you all tomorrow. I'm off to a ballgame. I'm sure you are all shocked by that statement.
I asked her what was wrong.
She very seriously stated to me that she did not think that this could be her baby sister.
Why, I asked?
Well, my sister is suppose to be brown and this sister is peach colored.
I almost fell off my chair laughing.
You see, our children are not real dark. I hadn't really thought about this fact but obviously Paige was concerned.
I explained to her that people in Ethiopia have all different shades of skin. Some of the people have darker skin and some lighter. Her sister just happened to be lighter.
She still wasn't so sure, but then I told her I was sure that this was the sister God was sending her.
She seemed fine after that.
Yesterday during the P.E. class she goes to on Thursday mornings I heard her talking to one of the little boys in the class.
"Do you remember I told you about my new brown skinned sister that is going to come and live with me?"
"Oh, yeah", said the boy.
"Well", said Paige "She isn't brown anymore, now she is peach."
"Cool" said the little boy, seeming to understand exactly what she was saying.
And off they ran to play on the swings.