What’s New?

1.  A toad named Bucket (not that new actually, but now that he’s survived 6 weeks and two camping trips in our care, I’m resigning myself to actually considering him a family pet now.)

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2. Two Vacation Bible Schools and a Cow Appreciation Day

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3.  A 9-year-old!  (That makes three of them!)

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Happy birthday, beautiful girl!

4. Another long weekend for Daddy, another camping trip with friends.  Seems to be the way of things this summer.  And that’s just fine with us!

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5. And finally… a Boys’ Room (as opposed to a boy’s room)!  A day or two of decluttering and a new set of bunk beds have gotten Niko’s room all ready for a little brother to move in!

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That’s about it!  No news on the adoption front, but that’s okay for now.  We would hope to hear something in a few more weeks.

We’ve submitted all of our paperwork to be officially homeschooling *five* kids this year, and before long we’ll be starting our school year.  We still have more fun to cram into our summer before it draws to a close though!

New Acronyms and More Summery Goodness

I think I’ll start with our most recent adoption excitement, and then back up from there.  In China adoption, everything is very systematic, and there seems to be an acronym for every step along the way.

On June 25th we were officially DTC!  (Dossier to country)  This was a milestone in our process that I was especially thankful to reach, since it seemed like we hit so many delays on the stateside end of things.  Hopefully China will be more efficient!

Then on July 7th, we celebrated our beautiful Bea’s 8th birthday (Happy birthday, sweet girl!), and found out the next day that that day had also been our LID (logged in date)!  Double reason to celebrate!  This basically means that our dossier landed in the right office, and they acknowledged receipt of it.  They will now begin translating it and hopefully approve it in a couple months.  So very thankful and excited for things to be moving forward!

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Now, as promised, backing up to share some earlier summer adventures that I neglected to blog about:

A glorious ten-day visit from Uncle Nathan.

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We had such a lovely time, and were so sad to send him back to Scotland.  We were very blessed to receive a surprise package in the mail from him a week or so after he left containing this CD of the book of Romans put to song.  It hasn’t left our van’s CD player since!

We also went on another short camping adventure in late June.

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And then celebrated our nation’s birthday with dear friends last week.

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It’s been a pretty great summer so far!

Happy, Busy Days

As you know if you’ve been reading for a while, an unnewsy blog does not usually mean an unnewsy life for us; often quite the contrary!  It seems the longer I put off posting to accommodate the busyness, the more things I have to blog about, and therefore the more I put it off.

We sent our dossier to our agency about three weeks ago, and then unofficially began summer with a three-day visit from dear friends.

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During that visit, a certain little lady found her feet and took her first few consecutive steps!

Since then she has blossomed into a full-time little walker complete with a handful of new words and tricks to go with her new mobility.

After our friends left, we promptly embarked on a lovely three-day camping trip with different friends.  We hiked seven miles of trails and saw 21 waterfalls.  The weather was perfect and the cooking was superb (and more importantly not mine!)

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Unfortunately, we came home to news that there was a problem with one of our dossier documents that would cost us another trip to Harrisburg.  Although the trip to Harrisburg was unfruitful, it seems like our agency have a work-around that should keep things moving.

Our dossier is currently in Washington DC for final authentication before it gets sent overseas.  Please pray with us that this (and the steps following this one) will happen quickly.

After our camping trip we had one final whirlwind week of school before Uncle Nathan arrived from Scotland for a ten-day visit, which are just the sadder side of halfway through.  But I will leave the details of that for my next update or else this one shall never get finished.

Dossier is on its Way!

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Our final missing piece arrived yesterday, the I800a approval letter!  I had been pacing the floor like an expectant father waiting for the mail to arrive, praying hard and knowing that if it hadn’t come that day, we wouldn’t be able to submit our dossier for another week because of visitors and other plans.  Praise the Lord, it did arrive.  It’s remarkable how much easier it is to trust in God’s perfect timing when it lines up so nicely with my own.

We had a crazy adventure today, but the end result was getting our dossier to FedEx just in time to go on the last truck of the day.  It will arrive in our agency’s hands early Wednesday for final authentication and hopefully be on its way to LC’s country in a few weeks.

The kids were absolute rock stars for four plus hours in the van today, and we all celebrated with pizza and lemonade when we got home.

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Twenty-four documents have begun their journey to bring us home our little boy.  We pray they will do their work swiftly.  God speed, dossier!

Big Girl

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This girl of ours never ceases to surprise me.

A few months ago, she gave us the invaluable gift of deciding to go #2 on the potty.  Once she had made up her mind, apart from a few little relapses, she never looked back.  This development, of course, provided a huge improvement in our quality of life and hers, but at the time she showed absolutely no signs of wanting to take the plunge and ditch the diapers altogether.

I had long been procrastinating forcing the issue by saying we’d begin potty-training in earnest when the weather warmed up, but even when that happened, life still seemed too busy.  End of school year stuff, adoption stuff, mommy-just-doesn’t-like-cleaning-up-potty-accidents stuff… it all kept getting in the way.

Until one day about 2 or 3 weeks ago, Delia asked me to put a pair of panties on her.  At first I merely obliged her by putting it on over her diaper so she could be like the big girls, but after a few days of her repeated insistence on wearing them, I began to wonder if she was trying to tell me something more.

So, once Daddy’s work break rolled around, we decided to give it a try.  Panties.  No more diapers at home.  Cold turkey.  Just like we’ve done with all our other little potty-trainers.  I began laying the groundwork immediately for an escape route.  “We’ll give it a week,” I told Trevor.  “If she’s not showing any interest in going on the potty by then, I can’t keep cleaning up accidents forever.”

“We can’t send her mixed signals,” he told me.  “We need to just stick with it.”

But we needn’t have had our little preemptive parenting debate.

Day 1 she went through four changes of clothes, but there were successes, too.  Day 2, about half the number of accidents, with a fair bit of prompting and reminding.  By the end of a week, she was consistently telling us (using the sign for “potty” and her word for it, “pah-pah”) when she needed to go and staying dry at home.

On Friday of last week, kind of by accident, we took our show on the road.  She stayed dry through a trip to the library and a doctor’s appointment, successfully using the potty at both places!

We have put a diaper on a her a few times since then for places where there was no quickly accessible bathroom or situations like Sunday school when there wasn’t really someone who could take her there, but I am feeling tantalizingly close to calling our girl potty-trained.  I never imagined in my wildest dreams that she would do it so easily, and so determinedly.  This girl of ours has real spirit!

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I am hopeful that my next post will be about the submission of our dossier.  The documents have been rolling in, and we are only waiting for three more, two of which are almost definitely going to be in our hands by Wednesday.  The I800A clearance is always the wild card, but we are expecting it any day, too.  Stay tuned!

Full Speed Ahead

While our home study was leaving us feeling like we were wading through molasses a few weeks ago, we began praying and asking for prayers that our dossier process would be swift and help us make up for lost time.  Do you know things are happening so quickly now that I can hardly catch my breath?  Thank you so much for praying.  It’s working!

(Random photos from our Awana Grand Prix and other recent adventures to follow:)

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We picked up our home study from our agency and submitted our first stage immigration application by FedEx the same day on April 2nd.  This past Monday, the 20th, we received our appointment letter to go have our fingerprints taken!  This morning we walked in and were able to get our fingerprints done, so we can expect our I800a immigration clearance (the Golden Ticket, as it is called!) to arrive in about 2 weeks if all goes well.

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That piece of the dossier puzzle may not end up being the one we’re waiting on in the end.  We also need a copy of Trevor’s UK birth certificate, which his mother in England has graciously agreed to send off for us for authentication.  That may still take a couple weeks to arrive as well.

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One thing we will *not* be waiting on that we thought we might be is Trevor’s new passport.  We noticed during our home study that his passport was expiring in April, so he sent off just a couple weeks ago for a new one.  Let me tell you, Her Majesty’s Passport Office was speedy!  It arrived this week as well.

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We have appointments on May 8th to get our medical clearance letters from our doctor.  We applied for our police clearance letters today, which should take about a week, and we still have a scavenger hunt of other bits and pieces to track down when Trevor is off next week, but things are happening!

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Once our dossier is submitted (that’s DTC in adoption speak), we can expect about a six month wait to travel.  But when we travel, it is for keeps!  Unlike Niko’s and Delia’s adoption, we don’t have to say “hello and goodbye” this time.  “Hello” will be the first day of “Forever”.

He Is Risen Indeed!

Happy Resurrection Sunday from our family to yours!

Here’s a glimpse of our Easter festivities over the past week or so.

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Painting eggs? No. Grand Prix cars for our upcoming Awana race. Traditions schmaditions :)

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Big and Little Junies

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The pictures make it look a little heavy on the egg-hunting and light on the cross.  Perhaps it was this year, but we were very blessed both by our church service this morning and a combined Good Friday service of hymns and Scripture reading.  In the midst of busy-ness with the adoption last week and my mom and sister moving house all this week, a few of our usual traditions slipped through the cracks, but I’m thankful that the kids still seemed to remember what we were really celebrating today.

Christ IS risen.  The tomb was empty.  Death was overcome. Hallelujah!

Onward!

I know it’s been three weeks since my last post.  It’s because I’ve been being very stubborn.

Three weeks ago I told you that we expected to have our home study in hand and send off our I-800a application by the end of that week, and not a moment too soon.  I just didn’t want to post about anything else until I could tell you the happy news that that had happened.  Well, it didn’t exactly go down like that.

To be honest, it has been a frustratingly long haul to get to what really still feels like the proper beginning of this adoption. Today, a little over six months since we first emailed our beloved social worker about LC, we finally picked up our home study and sent off our I-800a application.  I can’t say that I have learned much about patience.  I was thanked for my patience a few times along the way, but I’m not sure that was entirely accurate.  What I did learn, for what it’s worth, is that sometimes it is worth being the squeaky wheel when a little boy has been waiting too long already, and I wish I had learned it sooner.

Nevertheless, we are officially preparing our dossier now, a process we pray will take no more than two months.  Once that is submitted, I understand we face about a six-month wait to bring our boy home.  This week I am feeling the weight of the wait, but I am thankful to be moving forward once again.

I will leave you with a happy glimpse of two dear little friends, who are sometimes known as Elsa and Anna.

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Happy Birthday, Baby!

You know it must be March when my last four posts have all been about birthdays.  I promise after this I will go back to blogging about something else.  Anything else!

But!  First, I must wish a very happy first birthday to a very precious little blessing.  Our tiniest girl, who seems like she should still look something like this:IMG_3548

…in fact, looks like this now:

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She is full of sunshine and sweetness and silliness, and we are all still so completely smitten with her!

Little lady is commando crawling all over the place, often gaining distance by pulling herself up to sitting and then sprawling forward again.  She gets in a proper crawling position often, but with hardwood floors over most of the house, staying that way seems to keep evading her.  She can pull up to standing now and has just started experimenting with cruising.

She seems to be saying mama and dada meaningfully now, as well as a very enthusiastic muh! muh! muh! at mealtimes which I’m guessing might be an attempt at “more.”  She waves and claps with gusto.

She has three teeth on the bottom and a very newly hatched one on top as well as a couple more very close behind.

I never feel that pictures do her justice because she just has the most engaging, endearing little personality.  We just can’t get enough of her, and would rather her not grow up quite so quickly, thank you very much.

We had a low-key family day for the most part, but I think Miss Annis enjoyed the festivities just the same.

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Happy birthday, sweet, sweet girl!

Happy Birthday, Little Chap

A few thousand miles away, a little boy turned 8 today.  I don’t know if there was any fanfare, if anyone sang to him or did whatever people do in his country. It’s very possibly not even his real birthday; just someone’s best guess. A date on a piece of paper.

But here, today, we remembered.  It was a hectic morning getting out the door to church with an hour less sleep under our belts, but in the midst of the busy-ness, Pippa reminded me: Mom, it’s his birthday today!  The waiting birthday is always a little hard for me.

I can’t wait until next year when, Lord willing, we can show him what birthdays are all about.  Not presents or cake (although, you know, those too!) but a celebration of another year of life and of the gift God has given us in each of our children.   Next year we will celebrate our Little Chappy a bit extra to make up for lost time.  And there will be pictures to prove it, I promise!

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In other celebratory news, it’s been a very happy adoption weekend indeed: we finally received Trevor’s final clearance letter for our home study!  We had had a frustrating ride with this one: returned for insufficient postage (my bad), unusually high volume of applications due to new state laws, and then Trevor’s taking way longer than mine to come through (lots of past UK addresses to check, maybe?  We’re not sure.) On Friday I had finally broken down and emailed our social worker practically begging her to do something to make this whole thing move faster, and then on Saturday, as if God heard my desperate email as a prayer directly to His ear, the clearance arrived.

We hope and pray that with this piece finally in place, we will be able to finalize our home study and apply for our first stage immigration clearance (I800a) this week.  Then, dossier paperwork, here we come!