Monday, December 15, 2008

Dedication Day

Yesterday, we dedicated Anna Kathryn to the Lord formally in front of our church family and friends.  This was the outward ceremony to confirm in public what we did in our hearts many years ago, when Mark and I first started praying for a child.  Our close friends Allison, David, and Maggie came with us and I am so glad they were able to share in this special day.  

Of course, there was a bit of stress involved with the whole thing, as is typical with anything in my life that is ceremonial and/or overly planned.  I got up extra early to make sure we had lunch cooking before we left and that we were all clean, pressed and dressed up.  Unfortunately, Anna Kathryn decided to fill her diaper right about the time we needed to be getting her dressed.  (I had waited until the last minute so she wouldn't get anything on her pretty silk outfit.  Instead of the traditional white, embroidered christening gown I decided to dress Anna Kathryn in one of the silk outfits we bought for her in China.  She wore a two piece pants outfit of bright pink and gold, with her pink, appliqued tiger slippers to match.)   Since these things can't be rushed, we had to hang around a bit.  We finally were able to dress her, shove her coat on and get out the door.  We stopped by Allison's house to pick them up and we were on our way.

We managed to arrive 10 minutes early.  That gave Anna Kathryn time to wave at lots of people before the service started.  Church began and she did well through all of the singing.  We sang lots of carols, which is all I want to sing at Christmas.  We hadn't been able to check with the pastor before the service began to see when our part would happen but I figured it would be early on, for the sake of the squirmy baby.  

After the praise and worship time, we moved into prayer.  This was about 40 minutes into the service.  Anna Kathryn had "helped" Maggie eat a pack of dried fruit and by now was ready to get on with things.  I was, too.  Plus her precious, traditional-for-Chinese-babies tiger slippers were too big and kept falling off, which was driving me crazy.  She had already hung out in everyone's lap, and began to get noisy while folks were praying, so I took her into the narthex.  

While we were out there, our pastor, a great guy, came rushing in.  He hurriedly explained that all through the first part of the service he kept thinking that there was something he'd forgotten.  Then he remembered... the baby dedication!  He apologized and said we'd do it after the offertory.  Hee hee!  I was glad to go back into church after prayer time and tell Mark that we were next. 

The other funny part to this was the candle... our church gives the family a candle that is lit during the dedication.  Pink for girls, blue for boys.  The pastor explains that the candle is a keepsake to be lit on the child's birthday every year.  When they are old enough to ask about the candle, the parents tell them about how they were dedicated to God as an infant and it's another opportunity to tell our children about how much Jesus loves them.   Well, the pastor didn't have an extra candle available so he had to wing it.  Thank goodness Anna Kathryn is a girl, because he plucked the pink candle out of the Advent wreath, and now she has an extra special candle!

A few more pictures from the day (taken at a discreet distance, so a little dark):

Allison and David took some HILARIOUS snapshots later on, after lunch, of the girls in front of our tree.  The combination of a three-year old and a one-year-old makes for entertaining photos, if nothing else!  She posted them on her blog.  I'm still cracking up over these.  

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Tonight at 7:00 pm, along with my sister and many others around the world who have lost a beloved child, I lit a candle in memory of my sweet niece, Natalie.  Her Uncle Mark and I miss her so very much, though we know she is rejoicing in heaven.  

Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.  
Lamentations 3:32

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Anna Kathryn's First Art Project

On Friday, Anna Kathryn brought home her first art project from daycare. Her tiny little hands are the antlers. (!!) After I finished wiping away a little tear, I had to chuckle a little at the, um, creative placement of Rudolph's eyes. I'm so proud!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


... work, baby, husband, house, life in general these days. It's all basically good but by the end of the evening, I'm toast. I now understand why all of my new mommy friends go to bed early. Too bad I am addicted to reading blogs and tend to be a night owl!

Anyway. We are all transitioning into the new routine well, and Anna Kathryn has pretty much settled into her new routine and going to day care (we call it "school"). She likes her new teachers and seems particularly fond of one of the afternoon teachers. She is super tired most nights -- dinner often ends with howls and spitting out rejected bites-- so bedtime is earlier these days. We try to make the most of the few short hours we have with her before bed. My one big wish these days is that dishes would magically load themselves in the dishwasher and that the sponge would magically wipe the counter. I don't mind cooking dinner at all, but after the bedtime routine I want to plop down on the couch and put my feet up, not do the dishes. I usually can't get it all done before bedtime, because that would cut into playtime with Little Miss Sunshine. Mark lends a hand many nights and I love it (and him, especially) when he does. I know I am blessed to be married to such a great guy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Anna Kathryn's First Birthday!!

Anna Kathryn turned one on November 3, but I have finally gone through all of the pictures from her birthday party and picked my favorites. We had a wonderful day celebrating our special girl, surrounded by family and a few close friends (who are practically family anyway!).

P.S.-- I'm back to posting on this blog at last!! I also have a new-ish name and got a facelift. I may be slightly addicted to redecorating my blogs-- it's more fun than writing posts, honestly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Where am I?

Yes, I am still posting over at my other blog.  I had planned to cut the cord long before this, but somehow I keep posting over there... plus I am perpetually behind on things to post and keep telling myself that I'll switch back to this blog after a certain point.  There are still a couple of "milestones" I want to post about on the "Journey" blog, and several bouts of flu and such at our house over the past month have worn me out and squelched my blogging energy,  Sooooo... please keep checking over there and one day very soon I'll be back here!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Missing Natalie

Natalie at five months

Natalie's first birthday, August 2007

One year ago, my sweet, beautiful baby niece Natalie died after an accident.   She was a fighter, and so brave, but ultimately her injury was too severe and the Lord took her home.  The past week I have marked the days thinking of what happened each day between the accident and the morning she died.  This has been a week of sad anniversaries for our whole family, but my sister, brother-in-law, and older niece have felt their hearts breaking all over again.   She was just 14 months old.  

I had seen her on just 6 different occasions in her brief life.  We were lucky enough to see her (and the rest of the family, of course) just about a month before the accident.  I treasure those times.  How I wish we'd had more!  A few days ago, my sister sent some photos of the girls, and many were of Natalie.  Some I don't remember seeing before.  I cried as I went through each picture, remembering and wishing I could hug her just one more time.  Wishing I'd heard her call me "Aunt Kimmie", or giggle at Mark's funny faces again, or play the "Crab Game" with Emily.  Wishing we'd had more birthdays, and Christmas together, and that she'd been able to meet her cousin Anna Kathryn on this side of heaven.  

Tonight, I can't find the words to write about all that is on my mind and in my heart.  Sometimes there are just no words.  Hillary, my sister and Nat's mother, wrote a beautiful post tonight about her daughter.  But I wanted and needed to write just a little in honor of this special girl, now our angel, safe in the arms of our Heavenly Father forever. 

Friday, October 17, 2008


Hello... hello... anyone out there??

((crickets chirping))

I'm jumping back into the bloggy world after a three-week break.  I posted over at Journey to Anna Kathryn tonight, but I'll be returning to this blog in the next week or two.  See you over there!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Showered with Love

Mark and I have been "showered with love" by so many friends and family over the past 2 months as we prepared to bring Anna Kathryn home.  My parents, grandparents, sister, and aunts and uncles have expressed love in so many ways and have helped us with all kinds of things we needed to travel!  

Mark's mom went shopping for Anna Kathryn before we came to Ohio for our visit and gave us a little shower of her own.  I was so surprised and delighted!

About a month ago, my college friends and I gathered to host a baby shower for Emily, who is due very soon!  Leslie, Reagan, and Allison helped paint the nursery pink -- a major transformation from the turquoise blue (my stepdaughter's color scheme when the room was hers).  

Mark posted some Scriptures and wishes for Anna Kathryn before painting-- writing it on the walls so she will always be surrounded by blessings.  

The painting crew:  hard at work...

The nursery is still a work in progress, but here is the best shot so far (Reagan, this is for you!)

We still have pictures to hang, and there is a bit more furniture in it now (dresser and changing table).  I am trying to get much of this done before we leave, since we will be preoccupied with Baby when we get home.

The staff at my school gave me a lovely, spur-of the moment baby shower last Thursday. The staff went in together and bought the car seat that I hoped for. It's so very cute and very, very safe! They also brought donations of baby clothing that we will give to the Poyang SWI, to help with the clothing shortage and as a way to give back to the place and people who have cared for Anna Kathryn for the first 10 months of her life. It was a wonderful afternoon and I felt so loved and encouraged!

Visiting with friends at the shower:  

As usual at times of high emotion, I cried when they led me over to the gifts and I saw all of the clothes, the diaper cake, and the adorable car seat.  

Jamie and Ashley made the diaper cake-- almost too cute to use!!
Some other friends are hosting "Meet Anna Kathryn" showers after we return from China.  I just can't wait!  It will be so much fun to introduce her to the people who have been anxiously awaiting her arrival along with us.  

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New travel blog!

Here is the link for the new blog that I've set up that is dedicated to journaling our trip to China.  I'll be posting on this one exclusively when we are in China.  I invite you all to follow our journey to bring Anna Kathryn home!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


This morning I listened to the Bob and Sheri AM radio show on my way to work, as I do every day.  Since I usually leave for work around 7:35 (or 7:43, as was the case today), I pretty much always hear the topic for the "chatroom" segment, where people call in and talk about the topic of the day.

Today the topic was "someday"-- what are the things you were told would happen someday? Or what is something you told yourself would happen someday?  Maybe it did, maybe it didn't.  

I really wished I could stop the car and take the time to call in to tell my story, because my someday is finally around the corner.  Mark and I have been longing for children and (one way or another) trying to have children for about 4 1/2 years now.  It has been the greatest struggle, test, and grief of my life.  

Infertility has challenged everything I thought I knew about the world around me, my faith, my marriage, my relationships, and my personality.  There have been many tears and frankly, much anguish as we worked through the loss of some dreams and finally embraced new dreams.  I have struggled with doubt, anxiety, worry, and fear on a nearly daily basis.  

I also learned that I have the strength to endure when I just thought I might not be able to get up and face each day.  My marriage has been strengthened by the toughest times, and Mark and I have grown closer than ever through this experience.  My faith has been tested, yet it has also been refined by the fire of grief.  I am a person who wants control over every area of my life, but I have learned to lean on the Lord's provision and strength instead.  

For years, I have longed for someday rather than today.

  • Someday, we'd get to call our families with the news that we were expecting a baby.
  • Someday, I'd get to watch Mark play hide and seek and tag  and make goofy faces with our babies.
  • Someday, I'd get to shop in the baby section of Target without feeling like I was trespassing and all the real moms would know I didn't really belong there.
  • Someday I'd get to attend a baby shower for my baby.
  • Someday it wouldn't hurt so much when another friend or family member announced their pregnancy-- I could be happy for them without feeling so very sad for myself at the same time. 
  • Someday, my arms would no longer be empty.
  • Someday, I'd get to tuck my baby into bed after reading a bedtime story and hearing prayers.
  • Someday, we'd get to experience a joyful Christmas with our little one.
  • Someday, we'd get to see the 5 "big kids" play with their little sister or brother. 
  • Someday, we'd get the Call from our agency that we had been matched with our baby!
  • Someday, we'd be packing a suitcase and planning the trip of a lifetime.
  • Someday, we'd board a plane to take us 7,000 miles from home.
  • Someday, we'd arrive in a government office in China and a baby would be placed in our arms.
  • Someday, I would be a mom at last.

My someday is finally just days away.  I  actually know the date of my most special someday ever.

Honestly, I can hardly believe it.

I think it's gonna sink in at 9:58 next Thursday morning as we get on that plane to take us to Anna Kathryn.

Friday, August 29, 2008

We're going to China!!

We leave September 11 and return home on September 27 with Anna Kathryn!  Gotcha Day will probably be on September 15 or 16.  

After the frustration of this week Mark and I are so excited... and relieved... and excited!  Yesterday we heard that more consulate appointments had opened up and that AWAA was trying hard to get their families into those slots.  I tried not to get my hopes up too much, but of course I did anyway.  We didn't hear anything further the rest of the day, and we went to bed wondering (hoping) we'd hear something today, before the long Labor Day weekend.  

I even checked my e-mail at 10:15 last night, hoping to hear something... if only I'd been a few minutes later!

This morning when I got to work and opened up my e-mail it was waiting in my inbox:  an e-mail titled "Concrete Travel Dates."  I gasped so loudly my media assistant came running in to see what was the matter.  

So the day has been a blur of grade level meetings (I scheduled myself to do a media center orientation for the faculty in all three grade levels), e-mails and frantic phone calls about flights, and confirmation of plane tickets.  

We have one minor issue to deal with, still.  I also got an e-mail stating that the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou does not have any record that we were re-fingerprinted last December (which we had to do to renew our paperwork for USCIS, which allows us to bring AK into the country as a US citizen.)  We got our updated form in late April, after we finally made it through the homestudy update.  I panicked for a minute, then settled to down to figure out what to do.  I tried calling 4 times, but never did manage to talk to a human.  I ended up leaving work early, going home, scanning our official document, and emailing it along with a rather pleading message to the Charlotte USCIS office.  Hope they get it and send along the information ASAP.  Please pray that we get this particular bump smoothed out quickly.

So, this weekend, we are cleaning closets (and my grungy house), making lists of stuff to pack, and gathering what we need.  I can hardly believe we have plane tickets to China!  In 2 weeks, we'll be there, and a few days later, our daughter will be in our arms.  As Allison would say-- wowzers.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So close, yet so far away

According to our agency, September travel is pretty much out of the question due to the fact that, after years of waiting for approvals from China, the US Consulate is now the holdup.  They are (allegedly) booked through the month, and although a few other families have gotten September appointments as late as today, we were not that lucky.  We have been told, possibly early October.  Or not.  Who knows?  

I can finally quit being utterly frustrated with C*hina's government being so slow and return to being completely fed up with my own.  Without this appointment, and the papers we will get at it, we cannot legally bring our daughter home.  So no travel plans can be made until we get the CA.  Until the last month or two, families usually got their CA within a day or two of getting their travel approval.  Tomorrow will be six days for us.  **sigh**

I wish we might have heard something today, but our agency was closed for a planned staff development day.  I'm having a hard time not being totally frustrated with them, too. I feel like they needed to spend today on the phone requesting/begging/bribing the consulate folks to give us an appointment as soon as is humanly possible so I can go get my daughter out of an orphanage already and BRING HER HOME.  

Plus, I need to be able to get something done at work except hit the refresh button on my e-mail and Rumor Queen.

I know I am blessed to even be able to complain about this.  I could still be waiting in the long line.  And I believe wholeheartedly that this delay is a part of God's plans for us... but as usual, I am ready for "someday" to become "tomorrow."  I can't stand the thought of Anna Kathryn growing up without us being with her.  

Speaking of tomorrow, my sister is scheduled to give birth to daughter #3 in the early hours of the morning... please be in prayer that all would go well for mama and baby Allison Hope during the delivery and after.  Hospitals are still difficult for Hillary, and I'm sure there will be many memories of Natalie and lots of emotions that will go along with Alie's arrival.   We cannot wait to meet Alie, our new little joy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Moving at the Speed of Life

Why haven't I been blogging much, despite all of the major happenings in the Kovach household over the past few weeks?  Well, we've been really busy!  Here is a small sampling of what Mark and I have done and have been up to:

  • Celebrated Mark's son Abe's wedding at the SC beach (this was our vacation, too) and welcomed new daughter-in-law, Karen, into the family
  • Celebrated Mark's son Caleb's wedding in the NC mountains (yesterday, in fact!) and welcomed new daughter-in-law, Leslie, into the family
  • Traveled to Florida to visit my parents and grandparents
  • Traveled to Ohio to visit Mark's parents and brother's family (and bring home a crib for Anna Kathryn)
  • Many phone calls with Hillary about Alie's impending arrival
  • Registered for baby stuff
  • Shopped for and selected a day care
  • Gathered our visa paperwork, and mailed numerous documents to our agency!
  • Painted the nursery, ordered and set up crib bedding, clean out closets (sadly-- not done with that part yet!). Mark put the crib together early one morning while I slept in a little-- I'd better enjoy that while it lasts!  We are recycling some of my childhood furniture and a few "pre-owned" and loved items into nursery furniture.
  • Packed up Mark's classroom at his former school and moved him into his new room at another middle school
  • Spent an afternoon at my school-- I needed Mark's help with assembling media carts and hanging new signage in the media center
  • Spent a LOT of time on the phone and on e-mail discussing the good news!!  Also much time has been spent online gathering travel and packing information, and reading more about attachment and bonding.  A little too much time, as always, has been spent on Rumor Queen's site.  
  • Survived a week of teacher workdays (meeting after meeting, mixed with some visiting, and not enough shelving) and prepped for the first day of school-- August 25!
I bet I've forgotten something... but you get the idea!  The time moves so fast, and yet so slowly as we wait.

Friday afternoon at 4:30, as we were driving up for Caleb's wedding rehearsal and dinner, the phone rang just as we got into Boone (and better cell service).  It was the travel coordinator at our agency telling us that we just received our Invitation to Travel from the Chinese government!  Well, we were floored-- I was driving and had to pull over so I could listen and take notes without wrecking the car.   Mark had been snoozing and at first didn't know why I was pulling over.  Much excitement ensued as we headed on to the rehearsal, despite getting totally lost on Beech Mountain.  

We have two possible windows for travel; AWAA is trying to make sure we travel with a group. We could travel September 11-24 (or 25, depending on travel arrangements), provided we can get a consulate appointment (CA) in late September.  The CA is crucial because that gives us Anna Kathryn's travel visa and citizenship papers.  If we can't get a CA in Sept., we will have to wait until mid-October or later to travel.  We are praying hard that we can get a CA for September travel.  (September is very busy, sandwiched between the Olympics this month and the National Holidays and Trade Fair in October.  I've heard that appointments are becoming scarce.)  Obviously, we would rather travel sooner than later!!  Still, we know God has this all planned out-- if it's in his plan for us to be united with AK sooner rather than later, it will happen.  

It's been six weeks exactly since we first saw Anna Kathryn's sweet face.  They have been some of the busiest weeks of my life!  Sometimes I wish things would slow down just a little, so I could catch my breath and really reflect on all the changes in our family right now.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Anna Kathryn at 9.5 months

Today we got a long-awaited update on Anna Kathryn BoDi from Ladybugs and Love.  They were able to call the Poyang SWI and get updated measurements, answers to 10 questions, and -- best of all-- new pictures!!

Anna Kathryn can sit up, crawl, and stand up by holding on to something (as seen above).  She likes to eat formula, congee, fruit, and crackers.  (We actually asked what her favorite food was.  I'm not sure if these are truly her faves or if it's just what she eats).  She is still a good sleeper; she only wakes up if there are loud noises, and takes a daily nap around 1:00.  She prefers to lay on her back.  Mark is very very excited that her favorite activities are outdoors.  She has many friends, but no special friend.  Her favorite toys are colorful and make sounds.  Most surprising, she has 2 teeth already!

She weighs 15.4 pounds and is 27.75 inches long.  (She actually weighs less than our cat, Ellie!) I'm excited that she will probably fit into all of her cute 9-month size clothes!!  She looks well nourished and very happy in the pictures.  Angela, the contact person who placed the call to the orphanage, said that they told her she is doing really well.  We are so thankful to hear this, and to see her looking so happy and healthy.  Everything I have read and heard about the Poyang SWI is that the nannies are excellent and the level of care is very good.  The babies are well nourished and loved.  

I just love how they captured two different expressions in the pictures.  Anna Kathryn is so cute, sticking out her tongue and smiling in the top photo, and I just am captivated by the one of her looking up, standing by her walker in that sweet pink dress.   I was also excited to see her in the wicker walker-- I have seen photos of other Poyang babies in those walkers, and have wondered if she was ever put in them.  

It's wonderful and yet so hard to see these pictures... to see how much she has changed in 5 months... to wonder how much more growing up she will do before we travel and are united with her.  I WISH we were leaving now.  I really, really wish that we get our travel approval soon and can start booking flights and packing suitcases.  I look at her sweet face and just long to hold her.  

Thursday, July 31, 2008

RA today!!

Mark and I got a call from Anna, our Family Coordinator at AWAA, this afternoon as we rolled down I-95, on our way to Florida for a super-quick trip to see my parents and grandparents.  

We have our referral approval (otherwise known as the Letter of Approval) from the CCAA to adopt Anna Kathryn!!!!

This is the long-awaited, officially official paperwork that says it's all systems go from here on out. The countdown begins for our Travel Approval now.  This could arrive as early as 4 weeks from now, or as long as a couple of months (but I truly do not think it will take that long.  No, it's not just my expectant-mama optimism, but the pattern for some other families who were reviewed when they were matched.)  We have about 147,000 things to do before we leave, but if someone said that we could get on a plane to China tomorrow, you bet I'd be on it.  

So, since we are officially official, it is my absolute joy to share Anna Kathryn's beautiful face with the world:  

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig

We just got home tonight from our trip to the beach and celebrating Abe and Karen's wedding in Murrells Inlet, SC.  Mark and I are worn out, but in a good way.  It was a wonderful week with the kids.  We got to spend several days out at the beach (random burn struck me again), did a little shopping, hung out with all of the kids and their friends/fiancees/boyfriends and did a lot of food prep/errand running to get ready for the wedding.  I'll have to devote a future post to the wedding-- it was beautiful and a lot of fun.  

We got 2 pieces of good news while we were vacationing!  The first was that we got our PA, or pre-approval, from the CCAA on Tuesday.  This is the first of 3 approvals that we must get from China before we can travel to get Anna Kathryn!

The PA basically states that the CCAA has received our letter of intent that we sent electronically the day after we got AK's referral.  After they review our dossier paperwork, they will issue a Referral Approval (RA) -- which is also, confusingly, called a Letter of Approval (LOA in adoption jargon).  It's a good thing that as an educator, I am used to dealing with an alphabet soup of acronyms on a daily basis.  The RA is the final, official approval that states that the CCAA has agreed to let us adopt AK.  Now, there really is no chance that they would say no-- it's just the red tape that is part and parcel of international adoption.  Plus, our dossier has already been through the review process, so we have cleared that hurdle.  We are hopeful that our RA will come quickly because our dossier is out of review already.

Due to the Olympics and the likely shutdown of most government offices during that time, I don't expect to see our TA until well after it's over.  My gut feeling is that we will travel in early October, but that is a total guess at this point.  Once we get TA, we apply for our visas and start making travel arrangements! Woo-hoo!!

The 2nd piece of good news is that Mark has a new teaching position.  He will be teaching 8th grade math at one of the top middle schools in the county.  He is excited and thrilled, and I am totally jealous that he could potentially carpool with Allison, since they will be at the same school.  God is good!  He worked this situation out for Mark's good, and we are so relieved that he is not only out of job-related limbo, but has landed at a great school not too far from home and the day care where we hope AK will be able to go.  

So, the summer continues to blaze past at the speed of light.  I may be a little scarce again this next week.  I need to finish the last of my work for my summer grad school classes (thank goodness all of my profs gave extentions on the final projects) and we leave later in the week to visit my family in Florida.  I hope to post about the wedding soon!

Also-- you've probably noticed my new look!  It was time for a makeover.  I found an awesome website with the cutest FREE blog designs that are super-easy to use.  Thanks, Leelou!!  Go here if you want to know more or spruce up your blog.  Tell me what you think about the new look!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Every silver lining has a cloud, or

"Incompetence is the pinnacle of annoyance."

No, I'm not talking about anything adoption or Anna Kathryn related!  However, this has easily been one of the craziest weeks ever for Mark and myself.  

Monday morning was, well, busy.  We were frantically calling the pediatrician and getting our acceptance paperwork together, not to mention quivering with excitement over AK and a major lack of sleep.   Then, Mark got a call from our school district's HR department.  He'd recently been hired to teach 4th grade at an elementary school, a big change after 8 years of surly eighth graders, but one he was really excited about.  Two weeks ago his new principal called him and said that everything was set, his transfer was complete, and welcome to the team.  Monday, he was informed by HR that due to a MAJOR oversight, they had just noticed that he is not, in fact, "highly qualified" to teach elementary school.  Therefore, he cannot be put into the position.  


Mark has been teaching for 24 years.  The majority of his experience has been at the elementary level.  His bachelor's degree is in elementary education.  He holds a valid NC teaching credential in-- you guessed it-- elementary ed.  And he is 1 class away from completing a master's degree in Educational Leadership (school administration).

Hard to believe the man is not "highly qualified", but according to the federal guidelines established by No C.hild L.eft B.ehind, unless he takes and passes two exams, he is not "highly qualified."  None of the rest of his credentials matter-- just that.  He did all the "HQ" stuff several years ago for middle school math, but was told then that his elementary status was fine the way it was.  Guess which presidential administration has just been put on my poopy list??  And which HR dept. ??!  Grrr. 

And unfortunately, the only time this exam will be given between now and the first day of school is at 8:00 a.m. the Saturday morning after Abram, Mark's son, gets married to his sweet fiancee, Karen.  The wedding is at 6:30 p.m. Friday.  At the beach.  Not gonna happen, my friends.  

Plus the test will cost many hundreds of dollars, which frankly, we do not have, what with all of the grad school classes, car repairs, weddings, and adoptions that we are funding right now.  

And the final kicker was that Mark's replacement has already been hired, and he cannot go back into his old teaching position.  They don't have any openings, either.  He would gladly return to his old school, but their hands are tied.  He has tenure, so he'll have a position somewhere in the county, but we have no idea where right now.  

Needless to say, this has been a bit of a challenge we've faced this week in the midst of our great jubilation over seeing Anna Kathryn for the first time and swinging into preparations.   We've been pretty calm-- all things considered-- because honestly, how could we get overly upset about anything when we have the sweetest baby ever coming home soon?

Still, it would be nice for Mark to have a job-- preferably one he likes.  He has some leads on middle school positions, and we are praying that something awesome will come his way. Thankfully, he finished summer school today, so he gets some R & R time.  At least he doesn't have to write 3 weeks' worth of elementary lesson plans while we are in China!

I know God is teaching us to continue to be completely dependent on Him in all circumstances. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way through the years of waiting to have children, through all the failed attempts, through the slowdown in China and all the discouraging news about the state of IA in general.  This is not my strong suit.  I prefer to be in control.  But the Lord has a way of reminding me who's really in charge of my life.  I'm slowly learning that it's better to go with His plan, since it's gonna be way, way better than anything I could come up with on my own.  

I got confirmation of that last Sunday, the first time I saw Anna Kathryn's beautiful face.  

By the way, I really would love to post her picture, but we are waiting on a couple of approvals from the CCAA before doing so.  Soon, I hope, I'll be able to show her off to the world.  My next post I'll do my best to explain the next round of red tape we will wade through before traveling. 

Also-- for my family, or anyone who has always thought it would be a ton of fun to hang out at the beach for a week every summer with your best girlfriends, read this.  I meant to blog about it myself, but Allison took pictures and well, she has a way with words. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Best Phone Call EVER

I've started this post three times, and it all sounded lame, so I'm just going to announce it:  


As in, the call that we have been dreaming of for over two years.  The moment I've been longing for for even longer.  

The call from our agency, in which one of the family coordinators said the magic words:  "We have a baby for you." 

 (Actually, I have no idea what she actually said.  We were both in shock.  Shaking, trying not to cry, frantically searching for a piece of paper on which to take notes.  If she had asked me for my name at that moment, I do not think I could have recalled it.)  


We are the soon-to-be parents of a beautiful, 8-month old baby girl.  Her Chinese name is Bo Di.  She is currently living at the Social Welfare Institute of Poyang County, in Jiangxi Province, located in the southeastern part of China.  According to her medical report, she is a happy baby with a sweet smile, a deep sleeper (I pray it is still true, since the paperwork is 4 months old), is active and restless (like Mark) and likes to play.  She apparently gets really excited and smiles and waves her hands happily when she sees food at mealtime (a girl after my own heart.)

Mark and I stared at each other, stunned, when we hung up with the agency.  (I didn't know that they even worked on Sundays!)  Then we opened up the e-mail with information and pictures, but we already knew.  Mark said, "That's our Anna Kathryn."  We devoured every scrap of information, and called AWAA back to say, yes, of course, we want to accept her referral.  

Then we got to make the other best phone calls ever-- telling our families.  And sending joyous e-mails to more family and friends.  In between calls, we kept saying things to each other like, "Is this real?" "Isn't she beautiful?"  "Did this really happen?"  

We just spent a frantic 24 hours gathering paperwork and writing a "Letter of Intent" (LOI) to the CCAA stating that yes, we really, really, really truly want to adopt her-- and some other stuff.  We have a 48 hour window in which to do this, or we could have lost AK's referral. Needless to say, neither one of us slept a whole lot last night.  But today we visited a pediatrician to have her medical report reviewed, and he said the info indicates that she is quite healthy and developmentally on target. We e-mailed our LOI, some other papers, and more photos to AWAA.  Around 5:00 p.m. today, we got the e-mail saying that our Electronic Acceptance was sent to China and she will be ours!

I know y'all want to see pictures, but we have to wait a few weeks before we post them.  I promise they will go up as soon as we get the OK from AWAA.  

We don't know exactly when we will travel, other than it will be sometime in the next 2-5 months.  We feel pretty safe in thinking we will be home with AK before Christmas.  I'm personally hoping we will be with her before her first birthday-- November 3!

In an amazing "God-thing,"  Anna Kathryn was born on a significant date in our family's lives. November 3, 2007 was also the day we held my niece Natalie's funeral.  It was by far the most horrible day of our lives.  I always wondered if I would know what I was doing on the day of my daughter's birth.  I never would have dreamed that a day of such tremendous sorrow would also be the day of a new beginning in the life of my family.  This is not a coincidence.  I believe with my whole heart that the Lord and Nat-Nat were watching over Anna Kathryn on that day.  

Mark and I are SO EXCITED.  We are totally in love with Anna Kathryn.  Last night, we were looking back through a little book about adoption that Mark got for me around the time we sent in our dossier.  We saw this quote, and know that this is what we will tell Anna Kathryn one day soon, when we first hold her in our arms.  

You are now a part of this family, my darling, wonderful child.  You are and always will be the choice of my heart.  Welcome home.  

Monday, June 23, 2008

I should be writing a paper, but...

... this Web site has been far more entertaining.  These notes are hilarious!  I can think of a couple I'd like to send to the professor who requires the 10-page papers on exciting topics like budgets and strategic career plans.  

Friday, June 20, 2008

We Are Through Review!!

We are finally out of review!!  In the world of international adoption from China, that means that nearly 18 months (as of July 5) after being logged in, our dossier has been reviewed by the CCAA and we made it through the process without being questioned or needing to provide additional documents.   If you want to know more about the review process, click here

This is a big milestone.  In the good old days, it would mean that a referral is only a few months away, but with the current state of affairs, this is not necessarily the case.  (sigh.)  The good news is that there is very little chance at this point the CCAA will tell our agency that we are not eligible to adopt for some reason.  And if we do receive and accept a referral for a Waiting Child, the process and time to travel is supposed to go more quickly since we are already through review.  I've been holding my breath a little knowing that we are supposed to be reviewed under the old regulations that were in place when we mailed off our dossier in December of 2006, and that we won't qualify under the new regs established in May 2007.  I was a little afraid that somehow we would not pass muster. 

It's a bit of an anti-climatic milestone, since we don't get a big old certificate or anything special to indicate we passed review,  except an e-mail from our agency saying that January 2007 dossiers are done.  It is very nice to see the news on the box that Rumor Queen keeps posted on her Web site now that it's no longer on the CCAA Web site.  It's still a major step in the process, and has given me a bit of renewed hope that someday we really will be on a plane to China to bring home our daughter.

Matching room, here we come!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Porch Time

I'm  feeling rather rusty at posting, since it's been almost a month.  I think that blogging is more like going back to the gym to work out than riding a bike.  It's easy to remember how to do it, just hard to get started after a long time away.  I generally prefer to sit on the couch.  

Where was I? For the internets who haven't talked to me recently, things were insanely busy at work for the final month of school.  I had no idea how much work goes into finishing the year in a school library media center.  I also started my two summer classes, and one of my professors has required 6 + page papers for every assignment.  With at least 10 references.  Ugh.  

Something had to give. Blogging, unfortunately, was first.  Next was laundry, house cleaning, and  cooking. (oh well!)  

It wasn't all work and no play, though.  

I spent the first weekend in June in Spartanburg with Allison, Leslie, and Reagan.  We shopped, saw "Sex and the City," and of course talked and talked and talked.  It was a fun little taste of what is to come later this month during Girls Beach Week at the Little Acorn.  

My parents arrived for a visit on June 6, which was also the last day of school.  Unfortunately, their arrival coincided with a massive heat wave, so we adjusted our plans to involve all air-conditioned activities (no Pops in the Park, sadly).  We shopped, gorged on delicious Italian food at Maggiano's up at SouthPark, and went to see "Kung Fu Panda" (hilarious, by the way. Mark did NOT want to see it, but he was snorting with laughter within the first half-hour.) Mom and I got pedicures, and Dad even came out to school and helped me straighten the shelves on my final workday.  Thanks, Dad!

Then, my sister Hillary and niece Emily arrived.  They enjoyed hanging out here with us for a couple of days (and Emily enjoyed a playdate with Maggie) before heading off to the North Georgia cabin for a week's vacation with Mom & Dad.  Mark and I followed on Friday morning, after we finished some schoolwork.   

The cabin was the best. thing. ever.  after the craziness and stress I have been under for the past month.  It's always a peaceful retreat from the world, since it is literally in the middle of the woods.  (No TV.  No cell service to speak of.  No internet!)  My favorite favorite thing to do is hang out on the porch and read or chat, or just look at the mountains around us and the creek below.  It is a little piece of heaven.

Sunset, mountain style

We did lots of fun things in the mountains: a scenic train ride along the Toccoa River,  yummy meals at the Smith House and Rib Country, and a trip to Babyland General Hospital, home of the Cabbage Patch Kid dolls.  The best parts were out at the cabin with my family:  chasing and catching fireflies with Emily and Mark, visiting on the porch with my folks, Hillary, and my Aunt Celia and Uncle Dick, making s'mores and watching a full moon rise over the mountain ridges.  

We want s'more!

Dad, Mom (aka Nana & Pop-Pop), Emily, & Hillary on the Blue Ridge Scenic Train

Me and Emily hanging out at the creek.  

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Ordinary Wednesday

I read about the death of Steven and Mary Beth Chapman's daughter Maria today with a heavy heart and few tears.  Even though I do not know the family personally, I grew up listening to SCC's music.  He is one of my, and Mark's, all-time favorite musicians.  Just two months ago we celebrated our fifth anniversary by spending the evening volunteering at the Shaohannah's Hope booth, helping raise funds for grants given to adopting families, during his most recent concert tour.  Along with our friends Allison and David, we worked first and then enjoyed the second half of an awesome concert.  We have been listening to his new CD practically nonstop.  I also feel a bit of a connection, a red thread, with their family since they adopted three of their daughters from China.  They even have worked with the same agency we are using to facilitate our adoption.  

Maria was their youngest child, only five years old.  Her death was the result of an accident, one of those sudden tragedies that leave all who loved her broken and breathless, reeling from sudden grief.  I must admit that after reading this article, my mind and heart immediately flew back to many of the things my sister, her husband, and the rest of our family experienced when Natalie's accident, and death, took place last fall.  The memories are vivid and painful, and I can imagine rather clearly the shock and grief the Chapman family is experiencing today. 

 For them, it was an ordinary Wednesday afternoon: the end of the school day, plans underway for supper, kids outside playing.  For our family, it was an ordinary Wednesday as well.  We had just finished supper when we got the call.  In an instant, everything changes.  Tonight, I am wishing I could hold all of my loved ones a little tighter, a little closer, for only the Lord knows how many moments we are given.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Wasn't Expecting to Do This on an Ordinary Sunday Afternoon

First:  I'm over the plague!  Finally.  And feeling much better, thank you.   Other than still not really being able to taste most food, for some reason.  Which I doubt contributed to my 3 pound loss at WW this week (yay!!  At last, I am a loser), since I still manage to eat plenty, but hey, if I can eat Cook-Out, Chick-Fil-A, and Brusters Ice Cream and still lose weight, I'll take it!!

And now for the BIG news.   Look at my new wheels (!):

I have a new Hyundai Santa Fe.  It's Slate Blue and very pretty, easy to drive, and so much bigger than the sweet little Honda Civic I've driven for almost 9 years.  I'm still getting used to driving up high, instead of low to the ground.  And I am still a little in shock that we bought a (gasp!) SUV.  Yes, I know how ridiculous gas prices are these days.  But my Honda has had major problems over the last few months.  Due to a number of things, we had sunk a lot of money into car repairs and we weren't done yet.   Both of our cars are aging, and we knew that someday soon we'd need to replace at least one.  Plus, we wanted a bigger car to hold more gear, and someday a car seat.    Mark wasn't overly crazy about getting a minivan, so we decided to look at a small, reasonably gas-efficient SUV.   

On Sunday after church we decided to just go and browse the cars at the dealership.  Mark and I test drove this one, and we agreed that it was a great car.  The dealership gave us a good deal on the trade, and the monthly payments fit in our budget.  Suddenly, we were on the verge of buying a new car.  So-- yesterday-- we signed the paperwork, and drove it home.  I loved my little Honda so much, but I miss it less and less as I drive my new toy.  (Somehow it has already become my car even though we both bought it.)

From this:

To this:  

BTW...  Does anyone know how to rotate pictures on Blogger?  

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I have been struck with the plague.  After 2 days on antibiotics, my fever has risen and congestion has worsened.  Will return when I am feeling much better.  At least I have time to clean out my DVR list.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Want to get $25 for free?

I know it sounds too good to be true, but it's not!   Revolution Money Exchange is a PayPal-type program that allows you to transfer money online.  Just for signing up you get $25.00-- no catch!!  All you do is take a few minutes to sign up.  

 Honestly, I thought it was an Internet scam, until I read that Crystal over at Biblical Womanhood got a check for $500 the other day.  For real.  She signed up for an account through Revolution Money Exchange, and also referred many friends to this program through her blog.  Everyone who signed up through her blog button got their $25, and she got another $10 per friend.  

Wow! It's hard to beat a deal like that.  Heaven knows we could use an extra $25, what with weddings and car repairs and adoptions, all of which cost plenty o'dough.  No pressure at all here, but if you sign up through me, I'd be pretty excited!  This is a win-win for everyone!

But HURRY if you want to cash in-- this deal ends May 15!!  All you need to do is click on the button below:

Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange

Still skeptical?  Read this.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

WFMW: Cheap fix!

This week WFMW is a special themed edition:  What Doesn't Work for Me.  For me? What doesn't work is overpaying for ridiculously overpriced computer accessories (or anything that is not clothing, or shoes.  Those, I will spend on.).  

I am well known as a total klutz to my family and friends.  Recently, I lived up to my reputation by knocking into and tripping over the power adapter for my beloved MacBook, which was plugged into the wall.  Naturally, the plug was broken but not a total loss, so I tried to nurse it along by oh-so-carefully putting the plug and the cover back together every time I used the laptop and plugged in the power cord.  This sort of worked for about a week.  I realized I had to get a new power adapter before I zapped myself.  

I got a nasty surprise on the Apple web site, though, when I went to see how much they cost:  $79.00.  There was no way I was going to pay that much.  So, I went to Wal-Mart, bought a $3.00 roll of electrical tape, and had DH tape it up.  It's not pretty at all, (actually it's rather tacky)  but it's a cheap fix, and that's what works for me!  

Go to Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pity Party

Yesterday marked 16 months since we were logged in with the CCAA in China.  There are 358 LIDs ahead of us, and the CCAA has referred only 72 days in the last year (since May 1, 2007).  So, the wait ahead of us (and the math involved in figuring it out) is too long to contemplate.  We just keep hoping not too much will change in our lives or China's program before our turn comes.  This month also marks 2 years since we began the adoption process.  Will it be two more?  Three more?  God only knows.  This was not an anniversary I wanted to celebrate with empty arms.  

Yesterday, we got some other disappointing news.  Not anything I can share, not life-altering, just disappointing. 

I gained this week on Weight Watchers.  

Sunday is Mother's Day.  A difficult day for me personally, although I love being able to tell my mom, Mamapa, and my mother-in-law how much I love them.  And my sister, who is an awesome mom.  I did mail off the presents today-- a small triumph since I am almost never this organized when it comes to giving gifts.  I'm ready for next Monday to be here though.  Someone on one of my online adoption forums said she and her husband were having Mother's Day lunch at Hooters, so it's not so "in their face".  I'm not sure that I would go there (literally or figuratively) but I totally get where she is coming from.  

Last week, a beloved teacher at the school where I teach died very suddenly.  It's been a tough week for the staff and students.  She is greatly missed, and there is still much grieving both in and out of class.  

Another friend e-mailed me and shared about a recent loss in her life, which broke my heart for her.  

Tough stuff.

I have so many blessings, and I do count them, but sometimes they seem overshadowed by the hard things.  As Anne of Green Gables would say-- a Jonah day.  Or week, in my case.  I'm sure things'll look better in the morning.  

Ok, party over. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Most Important 5 Minutes You'll Spend Today

Natalie's first birthday-- and birthday cake!  
Six months ago today, on October 30, 2007, my beautiful 14-month old niece passed away.  Natalie (or Nat-Nat as family and friends called her) was a happy, bubbly, active baby.  She was the delight of her parents, grandparents, and doting aunts and uncles, and her big sister's special playmate.  On October 24, she accidentally wandered into a backyard with an open pool and fell in.  Although she survived the drowning initially, she died after 5 days on life support. Losing Natalie is the single hardest and saddest thing my family has ever endured.  We miss her terribly every day.  There is little to ease the ache.  

However, Natalie's spirit lives on in many ways.  Her parents decided to donate her organs, and now others have the chance to live because of Natalie's tremendous gift.  My sister has said that the decision was an natural one to make, and that they are so thankful Natalie was able to help others in this way.  

My husband is also an organ donor.  Nearly eight years ago he donated a kidney to his brother. So, in many ways organ donation is a hugely important part of our family's story.  I have always felt that I would want to be an organ donor, but over the past months the impact of that decision has taken on additional meaning.  For years I have had my driver's license show that I wish to be an organ donor, but I recently learned that this may not be legally binding.  However, it is quick and simple to sign up to be an organ donor online, and it is a legal decision.   

If you live in North Carolina, go here to sign up today.  If you live in Virginia (my sister's home), go here.  If you live in other states, just Google "organ donation" plus your state's name. It really does take only 5 minutes, but it could literally save the life of someone else someday.  

My sister said that someone she met recently (not Natalie's recipient, but another) told her that her donor did not die so she could live, but she lives because her donor could not.  Wow.  What a tremendous legacy to leave behind.  What a priceless gift to give.  Won't you consider signing up today?

My two favorite donors-- Natalie and her Uncle Mark
They truly are my heroes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The End is in Sight!!

My lame-o excuse for not posting in over a week:  it's the end of the semester, and since I prefer to "work to the deadline" (or procrastinate, if you prefer to speak plainly) I have been working my tail off to get my big final projects done.  I just e-mailed the last ones off to my prof.  Woo-hoo!!!!  It always feels so good to be done and have gotten over one more hurdle in this master's degree program.  I have a few things to do to wrap up the semester, but unless I find out I have to re-write my literature review (and I pray not)I am done with the spring semester for all intents and purposes.

Plus, we had a busy weekend-- we went to see Wicked (the musical) with friends and also went to a concert on Saturday night.  Plus the homework.  Oh, the homework.  Needless to say, posting got pushed to the back burner along with house cleaning, folding laundry, and returning phone calls.  (sorry everyone!)  More on our Big Saturday Out in the next post!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's Fashion Fiesta Time!!

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I actually did take my pictures yesterday, but here it is, Sunday night, and I am just now joining the party.  I guess I'd better skip the small talk and get to the important parts.  

BigMama asked that we show off our daily uniform, in all its glory.  For better or worse, here it is:

Ahh, yoga pants.  My uniform after work and on the weekend.   After a long hard day, there is nothing more comforting than an elastic waistband and stretchy knit.  BTW, I have no idea what those spots are on the picture.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I pulled all 3 pairs out of the dirty clothes basket and smoothed out the wrinkles before snapping the picture.   Of course, they are about to be put up for the summer, when my equally nice elastic waist workout shorts will replace them. 

I have a variety of lovely options for tops to go with the yoga pants.  A T-shirt is always appropriate, for example.  

Yes, I am big on the pig.  No, not really.  I bought this shirt at the Piggly-Wiggly grocery store while at the beach.  As usual, I got slightly sunburned and forgot to pack a long-sleeved T-shirt.  Besides, you can never have too many long-sleeved Ts.  
Here's a my favorite ensemble for chilly days, or whenever it's warm outside but it's still 60 degrees in our house: 
Old Navy gray fleece -- a bargain since I paid $3.50 for it on clearance-- and a basic Hanes T from Wal-Mart underneath.  The layered look is in, ya know.  Fleece is my new favorite fabric.  My fleece yoga pants are my all time faves (they are on the right in the top picture.)  Ok, Blogger is being irritating and taking about 5 years to load each picture, so sadly, this will be an abbreviated post.  grrr.  I'm going to try one or two more...

New spring clothes!!  I heart them.  The black cropped jacket is about the cutest thing I currently own (now a weekly staple), except for maybe the aqua flats you see in the same picture.  I love them the most, especially now that I have discovered the wonder that is the Band-Aid blister prevention stick.  They have turned the Shoes of Death into a happy, happy, pain-free experience.  Wanna see the cuteness up close?

These shoes make me so very happy.  And it's best to end on a happy note, right?  What with Blogger being all uncooperative and all.  Thanks for joining me in the fiesta!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

People Get Ready

It's here!!  The Fashion Fiesta!!  

Stay tuned-- I'm real busy planning all the stunningly fashionable combinations with which I will wow my Audience of One (actually it's two, but I seem to be on a random thing with incorporating the titles of Christian songs into the post.  Can you find all of the "hidden" song titles??  OMG, that sounds like a VBS challenge.  Now, where was I?  Oh yes, fashion.) 

 In fact, just to get really inspired, I am spending my Friday night on the couch, with my beloved laptop, watching the Miss USA pageant.  Lots of lovely, bedazzled ladies!  Hosted by Donny and Marie!!  I know you are all totally wishing your Friday nights were as thrilling as mine.  

We will ignore the fact that, in this pursuit of fashion utopia (nirvana?  whatever.) I am wearing ratty light blue sweatpants and my almost-as-beloved-as-the-laptop "Todd's at Tigertail Beachside Grill Marco Island" T-shirt (with the picture of the pyramid of people, hiney-side showing, on the back).  I'll spare you an actual photo of this lovely ensemble.  The T-shirt is of an undetermined age, since I have no idea how I acquired it.  Especially since the only people I know who go to Marco Island with any regularity are my 89-year-old grandparents.  Somehow I doubt Mamapa and Granddaddy are hangin' out at Todd's shooting pool during their annual beach trip.  

I Will be Here later this weekend with my contribution to the fiesta!!  (I may be pushing the nerd envelope with that last song title, but I just indulged in a few chocolate chip cookies  and after 10 days of WW and chocolate deprivation, I blame all nerdiness on the sugar rush.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Are you ready to party??

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If you love fashion, head over to BigMama's blog and get ready to join the fiesta!  I'm already planning the outfit I am going to share.  :-)  Join me-- and BigMama-- on Friday!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Because a picture is worth a thousand words...

P.S.  Thank goodness this semester is over in two weeks!  I am ready to be done with my boring grad school classes!

P.P.S.  If you want to see some more hilariously "insprational" stuff, head over to  It's worth the trip!  

Sunday, April 6, 2008

15 months

Hard to believe it's been 2 weeks since I posted on Easter.  Lots of reasons why-- we went to Ohio over Spring Break, work has been super-busy, lack of topics I feel motivated to write about-- but mostly, I just haven't gotten around to it.  I'm really good at writing posts in my head but not getting them down on paper... or at least the screen.   

Yesterday marked 15 months since we were logged in.  We also got our homestudy update report in the mail-- 3 months to the day when I first e-mailed our social worker to get it started.  It took forever.  On Friday, referrals for this month came out.  Only 5 more days were referred this month.  Now the CCAA is up to January 9, 2006.  Only 361 days ahead of us.    Another month has gone by, but it just doesn't feel like we are making any progress.  

I used to imagine what my daughter might look like, what leaving for China might be like, collect ideas in a file for the nursery.  I haven't done that in a long time.  Of course, not a single day goes by where I don't think of AK in some way, and where I am not reminded of just how empty my arms are, but I just cannot picture her at all.  A few days ago, a friend of a friend got the referral for her daughter.  On her blog, she recalled how right around the beginning of August, she had a very vivid dream about her baby being born.  She learned the other day that her daughter was born just days after she had that dream.  I just can't even imagine that.  I have dreamt no dreams, seen no signs (I refuse to count dead ladybugs), had no indicators whatsoever.  I've begun to think of her as just a "mythical baby."  

 It's been such a long wait, and only God knows how much longer it will be.  Some (actually, many) days I wonder if the adoption, if parenthood, will ever really happen.  I feel guilty for having so little faith, but there it is.  Right now, it's easier to not prepare for a little one; I'm fully aware that this is a form of self-preservation.  I guess in some ways it's good to live life without feeling like we are constantly on hold.  I (well, Mark, too) am making plans for summer and fall that do not include welcoming a baby into the household (although if a miracle does happen, you'd better believe all plans will be adjusted accordingly).  And, since I can't seem to get/stay/be excited right now about this, it's just hard to be enthused about much of anything.  

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!  Christ is risen today!

We have had a quiet but lovely day.  Mark and I spent the morning at church-- we had a fellowship brunch at 9:30, with worship to follow.  The worship service was wonderful, and it was so encouraging to hear the message again that we have hope for ourselves and also our loved ones who follow Jesus because of the work of the Cross.  All through the service I thought about Natalie and the awesome Easter she had today in heaven.  I missed her so much today.  I also missed Anna Kathryn today-- even though we haven't met her yet.  Maybe by this time next year we will have gotten a referral, or even be preparing to travel (I don't dare hope that we'll be home with baby by then).  

We came home and napped-- a direct result of the carb/cheese induced coma from brunch (there was an abundance of breakfast casseroles).  Then Mark fixed an awesome dinner (steak, twice baked potatoes, mashed acorn squash, creamed spinach.  I ate the last of the jelly beans for dessert.)  Mark has been toiling away on homework tonight.  I have been ignoring my homework in favor of scrapbooking and wasting time on the Internet.  And posting on here. 

I did have a small potluck-induced trauma this morning.  I decided to try a new recipe for my contribution to the brunch-- a recipe for Baked French Toast I found on Bigmama's  blog.  It sounded yummy, and fairly simple to make. Unfortunately, I forgot about my tendency to have "new recipe remorse."  This is what happens when you decide to make a new recipe for a church potluck or for dinner when company comes-- and it doesn't turn out the way you think it will, and you just wish you'd stuck to the same-old, same-old .  As usual, I was running late getting the thing into the oven, despite the fact that I had put it together last night.  I forgot that I had to make the "praline topping" before baking the french toast.  This involved dumping a lot of sugar and spices into 2 sticks of butter and smearing the mixture on the unbaked french toast.  I shoved the dish in the oven at 8:31 and it needed to bake for 40 minutes.  

 At 9:12, it didn't look quite done enough and we needed to be in the car driving to church.  Of course, having never made this recipe before, I had no frame of reference for the doneness.  I decided to turn on the broiler to hurry things up a bit.  In the middle of this moment, Mark came in to remind me that we needed to be on our way.  Now.  So, I asked him for his opinion on the doneness of the french toast.   He said he really couldn't tell, but if we were late to the brunch everyone would know which dish was mine whether it was done or not.  Not what I needed to hear at that moment.  After I had a small fit about the fact that taking food to a potluck stresses me out, I collected the french toast out of the oven, wrapped it in foil and dish towels (one of these days I am going to invest in one of those casserole carrier things), and off we went.  Thankfully, the baked french toast turned out to be really good-- I will make it again! 

** Image of the cross supplied by 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Maybe I should have been a librarian 50 years ago

Let me just start by saying that I really do like a lot of things about my job as a school library media coordinator.  I particularly like working with kids and teachers, collection development, and of course reading the new books and helping students find books they love.  However, lately, each day seems like a battle with our equipment and technology.

Technology is great -- when it works.  I'm certainly a lot more comfortable working with all the various computers and projectors and camcorders and video/DVD players than I was a year or two ago.  I am, however, a digital immigrant, and I am not a gadget person by nature.  But it drives me absolutely crazy when equipment works fine one day and totally messes up the next.  

This week my school has been showing movies as a reward for good behavior.  We've done the set up many times before, the test run when we got the equipment set up went well, and then today (of course) the sound system went haywire right as we seated 150 wild seventh graders and we started the movie.  It did not help my frustration level when one of the APs at the school was really ugly to me (yelling) about the fact that the stupid microphone and speaker were suddenly on the fritz and no one could hear the movie.  Which was "The Game Plan" starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, so I'm not sure this was much of a loss. 

 (Keep in mind that there are home karaoke machines that are higher quality equipment than our microphone/speaker system.  We have one 2-ft. speaker to project the sound to the entire school auditorium.  We are not talking a Dolby digital surround sound system here, people). 

To make a long, annoying story shorter, we (me and my assistant) finally determined that the battery was dead in the cordless microphone.  No one in the office bothered to order extra 9-volt batteries as we requested a month ago, so we had to make do with what we had.  Which is -- one dying microphone and one that barely works because it appears to have been used as a soccer ball in PE.  This is what teachers are used to anyway, right?  I did feel slightly vindicated when our instructional technology specialist, who was there to tutor, checked out the problem and agreed that it was the battery and not anything we failed to do in the set up.  

This is the latest in about 2 weeks of nonstop equipment "issues".  Frankly, I'm tired of it.  Give me a book any day -- it's cheap, portable, will not suddenly get a virus, need an extra cord or batteries, or just not work.  (I'm also wondering if maybe this is a sign from God that my school administrators need to cough up the bucks for a movie license so that we quit violating copyright every time we show a reward movie.)

I'm ready to go old-school librarian for a while.  Give me a bunch of books, an old-fashioned card catalog, and a filmstrip reel and I will weep with delight.  But I draw the line at wearing my hair in a bun.   

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I just found this article-- it's an essay, really-- and thought I'd link it here (although I haven't actually figured out how to do this yet and so if it doesn't work, just copy and paste the link into your browser.  My bloggy tech skillz are coming along rather slowly.)  I can identify with much of the emotion and thoughts this author shares about the roller coaster ride that is the China adoption process in 2008...and beyond.  Our agency got some WC referrals this week but I am very sure we will not be getting a call.  Sigh.  

Go here to read the article:

Today was the "Battle of the Books" competition for all of the middle schools in the county.  It's kinda like a quiz bowl all about books.  Specifically, 26 books are on the reading list each year, from a variety of genres.  The kids read them and practice answering picky questions about the plot, characters, setting, etc.  

As the official media coordinator, I am the coach.  I have a great team-- 11 sixth graders-- and (most of them) read their little hearts out, stayed after school and gave up activity periods to practice, and gave it their all.  And, we totally lost the competition.  As in, we came in last in the county (9 schools).  The competitive side of me is, frankly, a little bummed. 

 But, the part of me that knows how hard they worked, how they didn't give up today when the questions were obscure, or the opposing teams seemed to get all the ones they knew, how they were great sports and pulled together, knows that we really gained a whole lot more than we may have lost.  ( cheese alert!!)  We were up against teams made up of all seventh and eighth graders who have competed before, teams where kids do not have to struggle as hard to succeed in school, and schools with experienced coaches.  I thought my team did a great job considering our collective inexperience.  They were ready to start on next year's reading list after the competition wrapped up today!   I think I need to borrow a little of their optimism and drive for some other parts of my life (grad school work, adoption wait, wanting to shed some winter weight gain) and kick my own butt into gear.