Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year, A New Family

It's about time for an update!  Since my last post...

Joey had a birthday!

I had a birthday!

Jesus had a birthday!

And Rosemary will have a birthday by week's end.  What a time of celebration it has been.  How wonderful to know this is the last Christmas that "Abraham" will be without a family!  We received a belated Christmas gift on Monday--news that we have been assigned a USCIS officer to approve our I-800A.  This is the form asking the US government for permission to adopt internationally  It takes several months to be processed and is a significant part of the waiting during an international adoption.  Our officer was very sweet on the phone and told me she expected to get to our application by the end of the day on Monday.  Another adoption milestone completed!

Also since my last post, we've embarked on a few more fundraising ventures.  A fellow homeschooling mom donated an Usborne Books consultant starter kit to me, and I'm now an Usborne consultant!  That means that our adoption savings account will get the commission for all books purchased through my Usborne link.  I can also do small book fairs, e-shows and home shows if I get the opportunity.  The Usborne books we've bought in the past through other families' adoption fundraisers are awesome, and I'm so excited to have this opportunity to help our family raise the funds needed to bring "Abraham" home!  Please take a look and order one (or more!) of the many wonderful kids' books, puzzles, and games they have to offer.

My Etsy store, Stitching Our Family Together, is fully operational too, and we're so grateful for each and every order placed there.  Please take a moment, if you haven't already, to see if there is something you'd like to order for yourself or someone special in your life.  If you've ordered something already, it would be such a help if you could stop by again and leave a review of your item.  I can also do custom orders, so if there is something you'd like to have crocheted that isn't listed, let me know!  Each order gets us closer to our son!

2014 is such an incredibly exciting year for our family.  We will undergo major, miraculous changes this year in our family and trust that God will be right there with us every step of the way.  How blessed we are to be adopted by Him!

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes - "Abraham's" Birthday Week

Abraham turned 4 this week! On his next birthday, God willing, he will be surrounded by his loving family. His big brothers and sister have already picked out a bright sparkly green "5" candle to put on his cake next year.

We went to Mass and lit 4 candles for our Birthday Boy half a world away.  His birthday "coincidentally" is the same day as my First Holy Communion anniversary!  My heart skipped a couple of beats when I first saw his birth date in the paperwork when we committed to him in June.  Another "coincidence," if I believed in coincidences, is that his birthday falls during National Adoption Month!

We started making him a blue, white, and brown Rosary that we will get blessed in his country and then again when he is baptized here. All of the big kids helped at least a little bit.  The centerpiece is a beautiful depiction of Mary holding Baby Jesus.  He won't be without a mother's loving arms for long.

We ended the day with a delicious banana birthday cake (decorated with help from his big siblings) and sang "Happy Birthday" to him.  Hope he had a happy day!  The Weather Channel said his village got up to 68 degrees and was sunny on his birthday, so I'm sure he got a chance to play outside.  That makes me happy!

We watched the little 3-minute video we have of him playing with some keys (the only video we have) before bed.  I had the most amazing dream that night that we went to the orphanage and met him for the first time.  What a gift!

To help us raise the money we need for the next big agency fee, we launched our Little House on the Prairie giveaway. Each donation of $15 gets you one of the 30 entries to win the entire Little House series on DVD. That includes all 9 seasons plus the pilot--170+ hours of family entertainment you can enjoy for years to come.  When all 30 spots are taken, we'll draw for the Little House grand prize as well as for a secondary prize of a $20 Amazon gift card.  Only 15 spots left!

We got our fingerprinting appointments for the I800-A (form asking USCIS for permission to adopt internationally) and plan to go next week. The USCIS office we are assigned to is in Charleston, 2 hours away. We're planning on making a day out of it, enjoying that beautiful city while we're there. So happy that things on this front are moving along. We've been told the turnaround for I800-A approval is 90 days. We filed last month and don't expect final approval until January. That way, if things move more quickly, we'll be pleasantly surprised!

Also to help on the fundraising front, I will be launching an Etsy store just as soon as I can get everything listed. Stay tuned...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Birthday Week Giveaway

**Update: This giveaway has been completed!  Thank you so very much to all those kind and generous people who helped make this fundraiser a great success!!  Our grand prize winner is Chelsea C. and the runner-up is Hannah W.!**

This week we celebrate "Abraham's" 4th birthday!  I wish we could be with him and celebrate with him in person, but my heart feels such joy that God willing, this will be his very last birthday as an orphan.  Abraham will be surrounded by family, friends, and love on his birthdays from here on out.

BUT we need to do some serious fundraising to get our next big agency fee together so that we can bring our little one home as soon as possible.  In a couple of months we'll need to pay a fee of $5,500, and as of today, we've saved $2,122 towards it.  That leaves $3,378 to be raised.  Time for a giveaway to give our savings a little boost!

The grand prize of Abraham's Birthday Giveaway is our family's entire 9-season collection of Little House on the Prairie DVD boxed sets (individually boxed by season) plus the pilot movie.  This was an awesome gift to us from Abraham's grandparents-to-be.  It is in like-new condition because we only watched through everything once and have kept the discs where the kids can't get to them.  Each season is available for purchase on Amazon for around $20 per season and $10 for the pilot, so this is approximately a $190 value.

There will also be a second place prize of a $20 Amazon gift card, just in time for Christmas shopping!

How to enter:

Send $15 via PayPal to baileyak @ bellsouth.net or through the donation button at the bottom of this post for each entry you wish to have.  There will only be 30 chances/entries to win.  Once all 30 entries are taken, we will draw a winner for the DVD set and a runner-up for the Amazon gift card.  People can also earn one additional free bonus entry per person by sharing this giveaway.  Just let me know if you share so that I can enter you accordingly.

This running total of the paid entries still available will be kept up to date.
Total entries still available: 0

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Quick Update

We've filed our I-800A form, the application for permission from the US government to adopt internationally.  This form cost $890 in total to file (not counting shipping costs), $720 for the application fee, and $85 each for Sean and me to get fingerprinted.  The check we sent with our application has been cashed and we received a receipt from USCIS in the mail.  Soon they will give us an appointment to come in for fingerprinting.  It is good to know that things are moving along in that regard!  We can't submit our dossier to "Abraham's" country until we get approval of our I-800A form.  Right now, people are being told it takes roughly 90 days to process the application.

But this unfortunate wait has its silver lining.  Right now we have $2,000 in savings.  When we submit our dossier, we need to pay a fee of $5,500.  Time is an asset when it comes to raising so much money.  We know that God is in control and that He will provide what is needed.  This money isn't ours, it's His!  As of today, we've either paid or saved almost $11,000 out of pocket.  Considering we're a single-income family of 6 on a modest salary and weathered 11 months of unemployment ending just less than a year ago, this is miraculous!  God has taken our loaves and fishes and multiplied them many times over.

If you would like to help us financially, take a look at our page of fundraising efforts, including our Amazon Affiliate link (a percentage of each item purchased through the Amazon link gets deposited into our adoption savings account).  Each dollar raised brings our boy closer!

Visiting Andrew Jackson's childhood home and enjoying the beautiful autumn weather last week. 
I am working on making more ponchos like these to help raise the rest of that big agency fee that we'll need to pay soon. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday Shopping for Orphans (Vol. 4)

This week I came across the sweet Etsy store, You Are Worth More, run by Corrina Wood.  She is selling adorable items for babies and children to raise funds needed to adopt her son from the same country as ours. 

The first thing that caught my eye was her ingenious marble maze toy/hand exerciser.  It's fun for anyone to play around with, but it is especially good for children who need to develop dexterity in their hands.  What a clever, unique idea!  She's selling them for $7.98 with just $2 for shipping.

Her marble mazes are available in several cute colors.

She also has doll clothes and accessories, knit baby hat and booties sets, blankets, and toys to name a few.  Really, go check out her store and do a little early Christmas shopping while you're there!  What's better than getting your Christmas shopping knocked off your to-do list while helping an orphan come home to his family?

Adorable doll dress for under $10!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mug Cozy Winner

Yesterday was the deadline for our mug exchange participants to mail their mugs out, so it's about time I go ahead and draw for a winner.  We only had three ladies participate in this fundraiser, so instead of using a random number generator, I decided to arm one of the kids with a die to roll.  I assigned the participants numbers in the order in which they joined the event.

Oops, the die fell on the floor for the first roll!  And the second
roll too.  Joey said, "Double drat!"
 And so, without further ado, the mug cozy winner is....

The third roll landed squarely on the table
Number 3, Lynne!  A great big thank you to all three of you lovely ladies and your big hearts!  I hope you had fun with the exchange and know how much your support means to us.  God bless you!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Homestudy Approved!

This morning, our completed homestudy arrived in our hands via UPS.  This is a big adoption milestone, and reaching this point makes "Abraham's" addition to our family feel that much more real.  It's analogous to hearing a biological baby's heartbeat for the first time during pregnancy. 

The first trip to go meet him (hopefully this winter or early spring) will be like the 20 week ultrasound on steroids.  Instead of seeing his image for the first time and finding out if he's a boy or a girl, we will get to hold him for the first time and get a little glimpse of his personality.  Oh, I can't wait!  Even though at this point it looks like Sean will be traveling solo for that first trip while I stay home to care for Abraham's brothers and sister.  Sean will be equipped with his camera, and I know he will give me a very detailed account of each minute he spends with him!

I love adoption!  You get so happy and excited to receive an otherwise
long and boring report in the mail! :)

For all of our children so far, we have either visited ourselves or have had someone visit on our behalf, the Nombre de Dios Mission in St. Augustine, FL during each of my four pregnancies.  This time, to save money for our adoption, we are unable to visit St. Augustine ourselves.  So I put out a request to some prayer warriors to go and pray for our little guy there on our behalf.

On September 2, one of these special ladies arranged for a Mass to be offered for our little guy and us at the Rustic Altar at Nombre de Dios.  This is the site of the very first Mass in the Americas.  This is a very special place for us, and to know that a Mass was said on that very same spot for our adoption leaves me speechless with gratitude.

Last night, another prayer warrior sent me a picture of a votive candle featuring Our Lady of La Leche (La Leche League is named after her!), Mary nursing baby Jesus, which she lit for Abraham while praying for him there in that holy place.  The place where either we have or other people have prayed for our unborn babies in the past.  Now we're gestating Abraham in our hearts, and it is wonderful to know people are praying for him in the same way that was prayed for our other children.

She wrote his birth name and our last name with a heart. ♥ 
God willing, he will legally be a Bailey some day!
I removed his name from this picture for privacy reasons.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Shopping for Orphans (Vol. 3)

Today I want to share with you the beautiful wearable artwork of Tosha Tanquary.  Tosha makes vintage map necklaces, bracelets and key rings to raise funds for her family's adoption of sweet little Kaydee from the same country as our Abraham.  They hope to travel for the pick-up trip in November this year.

Her beautiful custom necklaces can be made to show any location in the world using vintage maps.  You can purchase her wearable art from her Etsy store, Bringing Home a Tanquary.  Her key rings are $8.  The necklaces are just $15, and you can specify what type of metal finish they would like for the chain, what shape glass you want, and of course which location you would like to be featured in the pendant.  If you can't decide on just one location, for $22 you can order an adorable charm bracelet with several map charms.

Another member of the Tanquary family, Alisha, is working on some cute peg doll sets that will be ready for auction soon.  Look at these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  You can follow the Tanquary Family's journey on their Facebook page and keep an eye out on when these little dolls are available.  They're also gearing up for a giveaway of a lovely red, white, and blue handmade quilt, so check it out!

We also pray for all the families who will be holding adoption fundraising yard sales this weekend, that many people in their communities will support them and help them raise the ransoms they need to bring their children home.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mug exchange, field trips, and a sweetie in desperate need of a family

Another Friday, another 7 quick takes. Yesterday we launched our new fundraiser, a coffee mug exchange. For a donation of $5 or more, you get to help a little boy come home to his family, brighten someone's day with happy mail, receive a surprise mug of your own in the mail, and get entered into a drawing for a custom crocheted mug cozy! Check out the details here!

We are just one item away from being able to get to the next tier on our Amazon Affiliate account. So far this month, 6 items have been ordered through our link. If just one more item this month is ordered through our link over here, our adoption savings account will receive 6% of the purchases made instead of our current tier of 4%. Anyone have some Amazon shopping they've been thinking of doing? Thank you to those who have helped us in this way!

Our homestudy is just about done! We've reviewed the rough draft, signed our approval that it is accurate, and now it gets to be reviewed by our social worker's supervisor and people at our placing agency (which is different from our homestudy agency).

Remember this sweetie I wrote about before? He turns 16 on October 7th and needs a family to commit to adopting him by then, or he will forever miss out on the opportunity of having a family. Please pray for precious Andrei (his Reece's Rainbow nickname is Brenton) to receive the blessing of a family now. He has a grant of $4895 plus an additional $1500+ that has been pledged once a family commits to him. Could he be the missing part of your family?  Colleen has written a great post all about him here.

If he doesn't get a family by Oct. 7, he will spend the rest of his life in a mental institution where the vast majority of little ones with special needs die within a short time of arriving there.  This week we also received the heartbreaking news that sweet Kyle has passed away.  We were all so shocked a while ago to see the awful before and after pictures of him.  Before the mental institution and after.  I hope we don't let the same thing happen to Andrei!

Update:  Praise God, thank You Jesus!  A family filed commitment paperwork for Andrei/Brenton today!  What an amazing answer to prayer, and a truly lifesaving event for a precious little boy halfway around the world.  He is very much loved and wanted.

We had a field trip to the fire station earlier this week. Our three big kids gave everyone a demonstration of how to stop, drop, and roll. Rosemary was unimpressed that the kids couldn't slide down the pole. And everyone got to ride the fire engine around the parking lot.
Best shot I could get.  Everyone was way too excited and
distracted to look at and smile at the camera!

And today we have a field trip to the botanical gardens and zoo.  We're signed up for the Bug Hunting class!  Joey's a bit wary of getting to close to the bugs, but I told him that he can look on from a distance if he'd prefer.

Last AND least, my fundraising venture at Daff-a-Deals is costing more money than it's generating.  Last month I sold only one item.  Same for this month.  Each month I'm not making enough money to cover next month's rent.  So I will give it one more month, stock some fleece ponchos with crocheted borders and hope for the best.  It's disheartening to say the least. 

But I am working on opening an Etsy store, so stay tuned!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Coffee Mug Exchange Fundraiser and Drawing!

I'm so excited to share our new adoption fundraiser!  The glorious season of fall is here, and we are hosting a coffee mug exchange to raise the next bit of Abraham's ransom.  You can help us bring our boy home and get some fun mail in the process!

We will have the sign-up period open for one week (Sept. 26 - Oct. 2), and then participants have two weeks (Oct. 3 - 16) to mail off their mugs to their partners.  Please only sign up if you are sure that you will be able to mail your partner a mug by October 16th.

If this sounds like fun, you can enter by sending a donation of $5 or more to our PayPal account, baileyak [at] bellsouth [dot] net.  We are scrambling to raise our next agency fee of $5,500 which is due soon.  As I have written about before, the vast majority of our savings toward this fee was decimated by an unfortunate (and illegal in many states) action taken by Bank of America.  If you would prefer to donate to our Reece's Rainbow fund, that is fine, but we won't be able to use that money toward this particular fee.  That fund is also very important to us though, and will become available to us for expenses later on in the adoption process. 

Everyone who participates will also be entered for a drawing of a custom crocheted mug cozy like the one above from Projects Around the House, which will be made by me.  Winner gets to pick color and size.

After sending your donation via PayPal, please e-mail me baileyak [at] bellsouth [dot] net or leave a comment here (I won't publish comments for privacy reasons--I will be the only one able to see them) specifying:
  1. The name you used for PayPal (or make note that you donated to the RR fund if you chose that way of giving),
  2. Your mailing address, 
  3. An e-mail address where you can be readily reached, and 
  4. Whether or not you are willing to mail internationally.  This exchange is open internationally, however participants living outside the USA must be willing to mail internationally.  I will do my best to pair partners up within their home countries for those who prefer a domestic exchange.
****Update: Comments have not been working!  In fact, NO comments have gotten through at all.  What timing for Blogger to go on the fritz.  So please e-mail me instead.  Baileyak [at] bellsouth [dot] net

After the sign-up period, I will randomly pair participants together and give them their exchange partner's mailing and e-mail addresses.  You will have this information sent to the e-mail address you specified on October 3rd.

Each participant is then responsible for mailing out a mug to his or her partner by October 16, 2013.  You may pick for your partner any mug in new condition, but please use common sense and taste in selecting a mug that is family-friendly.  Please also use common sense in packaging your mug to ensure it doesn't break en route to your partner.  Recycled wadded up plastic shopping bags make an effective and free packaging material.

When you receive your mug, feel free to send me a picture of it and I will post it here, just for fun!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday Shopping for Orphans (Vol. 2)

Happy Saturday, everyone!  Fall is definitely in the air now, although here in South Carolina we still have many hot days ahead of us.  We're enjoying the cooler mornings! 

This week I want to share with you a lovely little shop called Owls for Orphans.  Amy Moss started crocheting these cuddly owls to raise funds for her family's adoption from "Abraham's" country.  Now that her daughter Maia is safely home, she is continuing to create owls to help other families fund their adoptions!  She gives 50% of each sale to her featured family of the month.  What a beautiful mission!

She makes plush stuffed owls as well as little owl lovey blankets and owl hats.  The little stuffed owls, loveys, and hats are $23 each with $5 for shipping, and large stuffed owls are available for $31.  Amy also sells adorable owl mug cozies for $15.  For the crafty among us, she even has a few patterns for sale.

What are you waiting for?  Go order one or a few!  The cool weather is coming, and these are perfect for some cozy fall cuddling!  Those loveys would make such a unique baby gift.  Look at this one here that looks like a baby owl peeping out from a pile of autumn leaves!

And oh my, she just added an original 9" by 11" owl painting to her store yesterday!  Hand painted and ready for framing, just $20 plus $8 shipping.  Which little girl wouldn't appreciate this painting hanging up in her room?

Today we also remember to pray for all the families who will be holding adoption fundraising yard sales this weekend, that many people in their communities will support them and help them raise the ransoms they need to bring their children home.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Facebook, Fall, and Happy Adoption Updates

We have a Facebook page!   We decided to call it "Stitching Our Family Together" with the brilliant acronym SOFT.  Have you seen "Abraham's" cheeks?  I can't wait to kiss those soft little cheeks for myself!  But the main inspiration for the name came from my attempts at earning money to help fund our adoption through knitting and crocheting all manner of fluffy, soft items for sale.  I will be making cute tags for the items I have for sale in our local consignment store, and someone suggested this for my "brand" name.

Yesterday we received wonderful news from "Abraham's" country.  Some things behind-the-scenes regarding international adoption in that country are starting to move more quickly again after the country's summer break and in light of the vacant governmental office that normally handles international adoptions.   They still need to appoint someone to fill that office, though.  Things aren't going as smoothly and quickly as they should.  And sadly, many orphans are falling through the cracks there, waiting to be listed for adoption.  But yesterday's news is definitely movement in the right direction!

We mailed in the last of our homestudy requirements yesterday too!  Our letters from the doctor, our education certificates, and the forms detailing our adoption education are on their way to our homestudy agency.  Yeah!

This man, Stephen Jepson, and his message are so inspiring.   Sean said that he reminds him of my brother and my Dad.   I like to think I have some of these naturally playful genes too.  Why didn't Mr. Jepson remind Sean of ME too?  Hmph!  Guess I still need to work on it.

I'd love to try out those roller skates, but I'd probably end up with a nice bruise collection if I did...

We picked this book up from the library this week.  It's been such a hit, with everyone from the baby to the big kids to the adults!

Our city is having a Greek Festival this weekend, which we're planning to check out.  Greece neighbors "Abraham's" country, making it even more interesting for us this year.  I believe there is a geocache hidden in the vicinity too, which should be fun to hunt in the throng.

These quick takes are extra quick this week.   We have things due back at the library, and I wanted to go before school lets out.  That's when it gets inundated with noisy teens happy to have escaped their classrooms.  Can't blame them!   And if we get out early, we'll even have time to hit the park and enjoy this beautiful fall weather. We're busy compiling a list of things we want to do this fall season. So far on our list we have:
  • pick apples
  • explore a corn maze
  • bake pumpkin bread and pies
  • collect leaves and make leaf rubbings
  • enjoy the daddy longlegs in the back yard
  •  jump in a leaf pile
  • visit the State Fair (and yay, this time we live in the city where it is held!)
  • hike many nature trails
  • and for Sean, take and pass his next actuary exam (prayers please!)
What did we miss on our list?  What's on yours?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

St. Sofia's Day

We had 11 o'clock appointments at the post office to apply for our passports this morning.  This was our third attempt at applying.  We went on Saturday and found out they only do passports Monday through Friday.  Then we went yesterday (Monday) only to find out the man who works with the passport applications was out that day and we needed to make appointments.  I half expected not to be able to apply today, but everything went smoothly, and we should have our passports in a few weeks.

I found out after out passport trip that today is actually St. Sofia's Day!  What a fitting day to apply for our passports, especially since we will be traveling through the city of Sofia as part of our trips to meet and pick up "Abraham."

This video was shared today in an online adoption group for families going through the same process that we are.  My kids and I really enjoyed watching it.  I'm counting it as our homeschooling social studies lesson for today!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Shopping for Orphans (Vol. 1)

I've had an idea for a new set of posts on Saturday mornings to highlight some adoption fundraisers that have caught my eye.  Mainly, these posts will focus on fundraisers involving items for sale.  Occasionally I might feature giveaways or other types of fundraisers.  It just depends on what I've noticed during the week! 

To get us started, here are some adorable pet collars handmade by Amanda Jones as she and her husband Collin work to fund their adoption of Annie, who lives in the same country as our Abraham.  They're just $7 for a small collar, $8 for a medium, and $9 for a large one, plus $3 to help offset shipping costs.  Wouldn't these make sweet Christmas gifts for a dog or cat lover?

She also makes domino block sets in two different styles.  One is for younger children who will enjoy matching the pictures and learning words.  The other style helps children match upper case and lower case letters.  These would be great additions to homeschool and Montessori classrooms!  They're $20 for the set shown below and $30 for the alphabet set (which includes more blocks), plus $4 to help offset the shipping costs.

The Jones Family is also currently selling these great T-shirts, available in both short- and long-sleeved styles for $22 and $26 respectively.  And they ship for free!  Christmas is coming.... !

And we pray for all the families who will be holding adoption fundraising yard sales this weekend, that many people in their communities will support them and help them raise the ransoms they need to bring their children home. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes - Under the Weather Edition

I have a house full of sick kids at the moment.  Rosemary is reading over my shoulder and wants me to make sure I tell you that she is the only healthy kid in the family.  It started with Joey on Wednesday morning, not being able to keep anything down.  Then Felix started a fever that afternoon.  They both seemed mildly improved on Thursday, but this morning Paul woke up miserable with a cough.  Unfortunately it looks like our planned visit with Sean's parents this weekend will have to be postponed for a week or two.

Felix had his 12 month well baby check on Monday (maybe the kids picked up something at the doctor's office?).  He weighs 23 lbs 10 oz and is 30 inches tall.  I don't remember his head circumference.  I was trying to keep everyone else from climbing up the walls and running around.  But his height and weight are around the 50th percentile, maybe just a little over.

They also checked his blood lead levels and hemoglobin, both normal, praise God.  The remarkable thing about his blood test is that he didn't complain at all!  Not a tear.  Seriously, his big siblings were much more upset about it than he was.  In fact, Felix was so calm about it that I didn't even realize the nurse had already pricked his finger.  I guess that's what comes of being the youngest of four rough-and-tumble Bailey kids!  A little prick on the finger is nothing to bat an eye at.

Please pray for my friend Kym.  She is almost 25 weeks pregnant and dealing with complications of placenta previa.  She's been hospitalized with bleeding a few times and praying that baby makes it to at least 28 weeks before he needs to come out.  She's on complete bed rest.  And she homeschools her other six children.

We've passed the one-third-of-the-way-there fundraising milestone!  The next big milestone is having half of our adoption expenses paid and/or funded, which will happen when our fundraising thermometer reaches $12,810.  We're $4,250 away from that point.  That's a lot of money, and I'm looking forward to seeing how God will provide.

We have two components left to complete our homestudy.  The one component (physician letters) is ready for us to pick up today, and the other component (Parent Planning for Special Needs Adoption class) is almost done!  We're so close!

Someone lost one of her front teeth!  That baby tooth had been hanging on by a thread for quite a while, and I see the permanent tooth is already starting to peep out.  I hope her other front tooth falls out soon so we can see that adorable double gap!

We are big fans of the game-making software RPG Maker VX Ace, which Joey uses on a daily basis.  He learns all kinds of skills through creating games, such as programming principles, storytelling, game design, keyboarding, math (with the progression of his characters' various levels, money, etc.), and collaboration with parents and siblings just to name a few.

This is a program geared toward the general public, not specifically kids.  Sean and I have enjoyed working on it alone, together, and with the kids.  And it's on sale at Amazon, 57% off!  Definitely one of the best software purchases we've ever made.  Nab it now while it's on sale!

The kids and I are reading the book Mary Of Plymouth: A Story of the Pilgrim Settlement. We love learning through "living books."  Ha!  I just noticed this book's publisher is named "Living Books Press"!  The Amazon page says that it's for ages 8 and up, but both Joey and Rosemary are enjoying this one (and they're 8 and 6).  It's historical fiction written from the point of view of a 16 year old girl who journeyed with her family on the Mayflower.  She writes letters to her best friend back in England telling of her adventures which comprise the book. We'll be snuggling up and reading plenty today, what with all the little sickies about.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The car seats are on their way!

The title of this post pretty much sums it up.  Our "Choose Life" adoption fundraiser giveaway winner, Michelle S., has chosen Birthright of Norfolk, VA to be the recipient of the car seats!  The seats have been ordered and are on their way to bless two families in need.  We give our heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make this possible!

Also, we are now only $40 away from having one third of "Abraham's" adoption costs either paid for or saved up!  God has been very generous in helping us save, save, save!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Adoption Physicals? Check!

Yesterday, the last of our adoption physicals were completed.  Now we just have to go back for our TB tests to be read in a couple of days. 

We are blessed to have a wonderful pediatrician for the children.  We love her!  But we adults don't have a local doctor.  Thankfully, Sean and I haven't had a reason to see the doctor until now.  So this was the first time that the two of us visited a doctor here in SC. 

I got a recommendation for someone way the heck on the other side of town, called for an appointment at a branch of that practice closer to home, and was told to come fill out the new patient paperwork for processing before we could even schedule our appointments.  That sounded like a cumbersome process, and what if after all of that, they couldn't squeeze us in for a month or two?  I didn't want to have our physicals hold up the adoption process unnecessarily, so it was on to plan B:  Consult the yellow pages and pick a doc close to home who participates with our insurance, just to get this thing done.

Well, it's done now, and I can't say we'll be sticking with that doctor long term.  As soon as she walked through the door, she looked at me like I was completely off my rocker and asked, "Why do you want to adopt if you already have so many kids?"  No introduction, greeting, or even a "How are you?"  There are many reasons we're adopting, but I simply told her that we've always wanted a large family and have been drawn to adoption as a great way to grow our family.  She didn't look convinced.

During the course of the visit she never asked my children's names (I had all 4 with me, since Sean couldn't take time off work for my appointment in addition to his appointment earlier in the day), or anything about our adoption, what kind of child we're adopting, what kind of adoption it is, other than, "Are you sure you have enough money to feed everyone?"  It took a lot of will power not to answer with a wise crack about how if we only feed them every other day we even have enough money left over to clothe them all.  She probably would have thought I was being serious anyway. 

"Who takes care of them?" she wanted to know.  I explained that I do, since I left my nursing career to be at home with the children and homeschool them.  "But how do you pay for everything?"  I explained that my husband works, and she interrupted with, "Yes, I saw him this morning and he told me about that."  Fair enough, but why did she ask?  Maybe she just honestly can't imagine a family of soon-to-be 7 making ends meet on one income.  There are many families larger than ours who make do with a whole lot less than we do.

She examined me and asked a few things about my health history.  "Why haven't you had any cycles since 2011?" 

"Oh, that's just how my body works.  My cycles haven't returned since giving birth last year.  I breastfeed." 

"And you don't use contraception?"

"Nope."  All of our children are naturally spaced 2-3 years apart.  We leave our fertility in God's capable hands.

"In that case we'll have to do a pregnancy test also." 

Okay then.  Not that I want or need a pregnancy test.  The paperwork I need for the adoption doesn't require a statement on pregnancy or lack thereof, and news of a pregnancy wouldn't change our adoption plans.  Both our adoption agency and the country where Abraham lives are open to families adopting while pregnant.  But whatever.  At that point I didn't really feel like arguing.

Before the end of the visit she just had to ask again, "Why do you adopt so many kids?"  See, I knew she didn't look convinced after I answered her the first time!  I corrected her and explained that all of our children so far are biological and that this is our first adoption.  "Oh!  So these are all your own children."  Yep, as if Abraham won't be one of our own once he's home. 

But I survived, and hopefully we'll have the medical letter we need in a few days.  One more thing checked off our to-do list!  Also checked off is this doctor from our list of prospective family physicians.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Museums, Dentists, and Kids Aging Out

We spent the day at a museum yesterday with two other families from our Christian homeschooling group.  I originally planned to spend 2 hours there but ended up spending 6 instead.  The kids and I were all happily exhausted by the end of the day.

It was wonderful for the kids to be able to really take their time exploring the exhibits.  Back in April my parents gifted us with a family membership pass.  That first visit was so busy and hectic, and we lost two of the kids, even with four pairs of adult eyes watching.  I didn't have the courage to try going again until yesterday.  What a difference it makes to go during the week while school is in session as opposed to on a busy Saturday.  We had many of the exhibits to ourselves.  I think the staff there will be on a first name basis with us very soon, as we plan to return often!

Exhausting day yesterday + Sean having to work overtime late last night + Felix up giggling and playing for close to 3 hours in the middle of the night = One Tired Family.  So be aware that I'm writing this post with half of my brain going on strike.

Oh, and Paulie also woke up in the middle of the night, calling for me (and waking up Felix again).  When I got to his bed, he frantically pointed out the window and cried, "Shoes!!!  Shoes!!!"  He fell asleep for the night during the drive back from the museum and was fast asleep when I carried him inside yesterday.  I took off his shoes and tucked him into bed.  He didn't realize that I took his shoes off, so when he woke up in the middle of the night and realized his feet were bare, he thought he had forgotten his beloved shoes at the museum.  Luckily he was awake enough to be able to reason, and he calmed right down once I showed him that we have his shoes safely at home.

When we got home last night, I found out that the goal for our "Choose Life" adoption fundraiser/giveaway had not only been met, but exceeded!  That was one fantastic way to end a blessed day.  Thank you to everyone who participated by sharing and donating, and thank you also to everyone who prayed for its success!

The winner is trying to decide which pregnancy center she wants to pick to be the recipient of the two new car seats, and I'll update as soon as we know. 

Cute and dainty
An adorable pair of starfish earrings I ordered from Chicken Momma's Change arrived in the mail today.  They're lovely, meaningful, and who wouldn't want a pair of these for only $5?  All proceeds go to help the Monier Family's adoption of Channah.  Jenny makes and sells all kinds of cute earrings, charms, and necklaces in her store.  Check it out here!

Brenton, age 15
I will be praying in a special way for a little guy who is still waiting to be found by his family.  Brenton will be turning 16 on October 7 and needs a family to commit to him by then, or he will forever lose the chance to be adopted.  That leaves just one month, but nothing is impossible for God!

Please join me in begging God to unite this little boy with his family.  You can also help by sharing his story to help get the word out.  He will bring so many blessings to a family!  What a little sweetheart.  If I didn't know he was almost 16, I'd probably guess that he's 4 or 5, maybe 6.

He has a full grant, so the majority of the financial burden of adopting internationally has been removed.  As the saying goes, there are no unwanted children--only unfound families!

A little while ago at the kids' dental checkups, Joey was diagnosed with several dental problems that we were told needed to be addressed over the span of 6 separate visits (not including the initial exam), and the cost to us after insurance would be well over $800.  Three of our four kiddos so far are predisposed to dental trouble, and Joey is one of them.

I scheduled his first treatment appointment with that pediatric dentist (who came highly recommended), and it was an awfully stressful situation for Joey.  And for me.  And probably for all the other little kids in the waiting room who heard his loud protests as I literally dragged him to the treatment room.  Sedation wouldn't have been any less stressful, because he'd need an IV for that.  If there's one thing Joey hates more than dental procedures, it's bodily injections.  I couldn't imagine putting him through that another five times. 

And thankfully, I don't have to!
  1. After being told by the staff that for his next appointment, Joey would have no option but to be restrained by the papoose board...
  2. After being hung up on by the receptionist while rescheduling an appointment for another of our kids...
  3. After having to wait for 20-30 minutes after each appointment before we were allowed the privilege of paying, checking out and leaving the office...
  4. After being informed that Joey's treatment required 6 visits and the dentist was unwilling to combine some of those visits even for a child like Joey who gets very stressed out by all things medical...
  5. After having to drive across town to get to this office...
I had more than enough figurative straws on my back and cancelled all of our appointments there!  I scheduled Joey to go in for a second opinion with the pediatric dentist around the corner from home.  And I made an appointment for Felix's first dental checkup while I was at it.

The appointment was on Tuesday, and we left after the visit feeling so blessed!  This dentist is friendly, relates well to the kids, and after the visit we got to check out immediately and leave.  Imagine that!

But the part that really blessed us was finding out that some of the invasive procedures the other dentist had prescribed for Joey were  not even necessary!  One of those procedures involved installing a large dental appliance inside Joey's mouth.  Not only would it have cost us monetarily for the visit, but our boy would have had to put up with that thing in his mouth for years.  I am so thankful for the crummy experiences we had at the other dentist, because without them I wouldn't have questioned Joey's need for the appliance.

What the first dentist told us needed six visits will now only need one, possibly two visits.  And the grand total of everything that needs to be done is $251.  Praise God, thank You Jesus!

Felix had a completely happy visit with our new pediatric dentist as well.  His eight little nibblers are all in perfect condition, and he was so cooperative that they even managed to give him a full cleaning.  Everyone was amazed at how content he was to let them examine and clean his teeth.

We left with a goodie bag for the two boys who had been seen, and in Felix's was a baby toothbrush like I've never seen before.  It is the head of a toothbrush attached to a teething ring handle.  Such a good idea!  And the little guy loves munching on his brush throughout the day, keeping his teeth clean.  Genius!

Pope Francis has declared a day of prayer and fasting for the situation in Syria tomorrow, September 7th.  I can't fast "for real" since I am still nursing quite a bit.  But I plan on fasting in non-edible ways instead.

In addition to that big intention, here are a few more that I can think of:
  •  In thanksgiving for prayers answered.
  • For Kym who is 6 months pregnant and was rushed to the hospital with a hemorrhage.
  • For the family in our homeschool group whose husband/father just lost his job in IT.
  • For safe journeys for those who are currently traveling.
  • For Martha who is recovering from her breast cancer surgery yesterday.
  • For T. and M. whose husbands are preparing for extended travel this fall.
  • For our family members and yours who are not close to God. 
  • For Brenton and all the orphans who will be aging out soon. 
  • For Mr. B. on his 87th birthday tomorrow. 
For all of these intentions, please join me in praying the Lord's Prayer.  Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

And the Winner Is...

Results that were over 6 weeks in the making!
Today we spent the day at the museum (and met some new homeschooling friends there and had a wonderful time), and when we got home this evening I discovered that not only had our $200 goal been met, but it had been surpassed!  We have $210 in our FSP grant!  What an amazing feeling, especially after several weeks of no movement whatsoever!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who helped make this "Choose Life" adoption fundraiser a success!  And thank You, Jesus, for Your loving providence!  I can't express how happy my heart is to be able to donate both seats after all.  Awesome, awesome!

So without further delay, I counted up the 47 entries and headed over to random.org for the official drawing.  And the winner is... entry #12, Michelle S.!  She is still deciding which pregnancy center to bless with the car seats and will let me know in the next few days where to send them.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Car Seat Giveaway

Our "Choose Life" fundraiser has been going on since the 26th of July, and I think the time has come to move forward to the next stage and draw a winner.  The winner will be drawn next Tuesday, September 10th.  That's the same day that one of our boys goes to the dentist, so I will remember!

In the six weeks since starting this fundraiser, we have only managed to reach about three quarters of our goal for this event--$152 as opposed to the hoped-for $200.  Thanks to a generous donation that came in late last night, we're now only $48 away from the goal!  Unfortunately, we will only be able to donate one new car seat instead of two if we cannot reach our goal (or get pretty close) before drawing a winner on September 10th.

If you would like your name to be included in the drawing, it's not too late to enter.  Donate $5 or more to our Family Sponsorship Program (FSP) grant at Reece's Rainbow and let me know so that I can enter you appropriately.  If you can't afford a monetary donation (and even if you can), please share our fundraiser, encouraging others to participate, and once again let me know so that I can enter you.

We are so, so thankful to the wonderful people who have participated in our event by sharing and donating and praying for its success!  Thanks to you, we're closer to bringing Abraham home, and a family (maybe two!) facing a crisis pregnancy will have a car seat for their baby.  That is awesome and brings a big smile to my face!

Updated @ 2:45 pm

Another generous donation came in, and now we're at $171.69 of $200!  Only $28.31 to go!  Thank you!