Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving is always the tradition of going to the central valley of California to our cousins house. We use to go to my grandparents house but they have both been gone for a few years so we still maintain the tradition of going up north so we can see all our family once a year. It is such a great time!! We get a hotel (3 hour drive) by my cousins in Tulare and spend all day and into the night on Thanksgiving at her house then go to our land the next morning and top it off at our favorite Mexican restaurant El Tap in Porterville for lunch and then off to my other cousins for dinner. We have a wonderful dinner with family with a huge fire and all kinds of shooting festivities for the kids. We then take off and drive home late Friday night. It is a wonderful time!!! Of course I forgot about pictures when we were with the family but got lots from the land.

It was pretty chilly so the girls were dressed for warm!

Ethan and Fin

Playing around the stream

The Girls-- Mia, me, Fin, Hailey and Savannah- front
Cassie (sister), Mom, Amy and Annalee (Annalee is 3 months younger than our Emery will be so it will be fun them growing up together-- Savanna and Mia are only 5 months apart as well)

Yes, this is what you think. Sorry for this but it was too funny that they were all squatting by each other totally on their own. I told them to hold hands and smile!!!

The boys conquered the massive hill!

My big 13 year old!!!

And then someone got the great idea to get IN the water-- not the best idea but we went with it!

Until Owen stripped--

And the girls decided to get everything wet-- luckily we had a change of clothes.

Yes, this is Ethan driving my dads car. Now, this is not something we like, but my dad drove his big truck on this property when he was only 12 so my brother and my dad decided that the boys-- Ethan-13, Owen-11 and Christian-11-- all needed to practice driving on the land. And so they did-- only on the land and they knew it!!! They actually did a good job. Christian lives on a farm so he gets to drive tractors all the time-- they all did a good job.

So that was our awesome Thanksgiving!!! Lots to be thankful for. Finley loved her first Thanksgiving and we are so blessed in so many ways!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hockey and Makeup

We have been busy around here with hockey always dictating a lot of what we do. Since Ethan is on the high school hockey team (as an 8th grader)and Owen is the stick boy and gets to practice on Tuesday and Thursday with the team so he is getting really good. Every week we have 2 practices and on Saturday we always have a game in Anaheim right by Disneyland at the rink where the DUCKS practice. In fact, we see DUCKS players all the time and Teemu Salanie's son is on one of the teams we play in our league so we see him all the time. Anyway, we make hockey a family event and the girls come to all the practices and games. They know the rinks well and have figured out all the fun stuff to do. I swear they are half raised in a hockey rink-- poor girls-- but they love it!!!

Ethan is #15 and he often plays defence but the coach has been putting him into forward a lot recently.

Ethan is one of the Assistant Captains. That is a huge compliment especially for an 8th grader on a high school team. He shows lots of really strong leadership skills and I am sure that is why the coach made him Assistant.

And here is what the girls have been up to the last few times at the rink.
Mia got a makeup set for her birthday and loves- and I mean loves- to put makeup on anyone who will sit there for her. Well, her sister being the sweet sister she is, will sit there and let Mia do whatever she wants to her.

After doing up Finley's face, she, in this picture, has moved onto her nails.

Love the way Mia is looking at Finley-- too cute!!!

Oh the joys of Hockey life!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Adoption, Dave and Life

I have had a few people ask where we are with the adoption. We just sent in our supplement 3 for our I800A last week and it was confirmed USCIS received it on Monday. What that means is when you adopt, you have to have approval to bring an orphan into the USA (that's the I800A approval). With Finley, we had an I800A approval and that is good for 18 months. So, since we are still within the 18 months (it expires November 24, 2011-- cutting it close) we don't have to submit a bunch of additional paperwork and wait the 2 months plus for the full approval rather we just have to submit and new document that says we want to add an additional child to the original approval and then they approve it and send the new approval out to us. We expect the approval in about 3 weeks and then as soon as we get the approval back, it will be about 1 week to get a bunch of paperwork for our dossier (a bunch of papers that go to China) authenticated and sealed at the Chinese Embassy and then we are DTC-- DOSSIER TO CHINA!!!! Realistically, we are about 1 month from sending out paperwork to China and that is a HUGE step!! Once our paperwork goes to China we will be logged in (LID) and then and then we wait and wait and wait.  Our goal is to be in China in May, so it appears we are probably in line to be at about that time frame.

That is the timeline update and once paperwork is in China we will be able to show pictures and do all that stuff but until then, I have to keep things quiet.

On other notes, we are still working the Dave Ramsey budget really well. Even in the process of desperately trying to get money together for this adoption, we are still finding money to be able to pay things off. We are moving down our DEBT LIST that is posted on our refrigerator really fast-- way faster than we thought. Of course, we have some major adoption payments coming up so we might have to slow down on paying things off for a few months, but as soon as we pay our agency fees, we are back paying debt off. We actually only have a few things left to pay (bigger $$ items) before we are out of debt except for my student loan and our house. I cant believe how close we are and our goal of debt free except for the house in 2 years is totally going to happen-- I have faith!! Don't get me wrong, we still struggle but for the first time in our lives we are living below our means. It is not easy. I don't shop-- at all! I have not bought the kids anything new in many months with the exception of one birthday gifts for the girls. I have not bought myself ANYTHING in months and I am living on a tiny budget with literally no wiggle room. We don't eat out unless it is Wednesday nights (church) and we use a certificate and a few little .99cent things here and there. We are crazy dedicated  but it is serving us well. We have been able to save and pay things off and we are actually able to pay for our adoption expenses. Again, it is not easy, but we are doing it and I am loving the freedom I feel knowing this area of our life is in control-- literally for the first time in our lives. I don't mention this to say we are so great. I say it to inspire other that control of your finances CAN BE DONE!! We are proof of it and we were HORRIBLE before this program. If we wanted it, we got it and didn't really understand the idea of delayed gratification. We started to change things about 2 years ago but still did not live within a budget over the last 2 years. While we did not incur more debt over the last 2 years we still did not manage our money well and we are now digging out of the hole we created. I am so proud of ourselves!!! Plus I mention all this because I do get people asking about how we are doing with Dave's program so I figured it was time for an update.

 Owen giving the girls hockey lessons. Finley taking a slapshot. Sorry the quality is poor. It was with my cell phone.

Mia taking her slapshot

Other than that, we are living life. We are trying to slow things down during this time of year and to focus on the reason for the season. We are going to try to implement some low cost traditions this year so if anyone has any suggestions, we would love them!!! I am looking forward to this holiday season so very much and cant wait to bake cookies and bundle up in front of the fireplace (ya right-- not too cold here in So Cal) and watch Christmas specials. My friend Kim at 3Peanuts wrote a great post yesterday about slowing down and de-stressing the holidays. I read the post out loud to my husband and we both agreed we wanted to de-stress our holidays and we are going to talk about ways we can do that soon. I encourage others to de-stress as well and slowing down and paying attention to the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sorry, a glitch & Generosity!

Sorry everyone but we had a glitch on our blog today and it reverted to only invited readers. I did not want the settings to be that way so it is changed back now. So sorry if anyone was unable to see the blog.

I wanted to thank so many of you who have offered to send me clothes and those who already have. It is amazing to see the generosity in the adoptive community and I am moved by all of you!!!

I wanted to post one story in particular. The day I posted my "clothing plea" I received an email from a wonderful woman who was going through some turmoil of her own. She had a dream of adopting from China and had collected lots of beautiful clothes and dolls etc. over the years. I do not know the specifics that went into her decision but she had been feeling that God was calling her to give up her adoption dream. She had restled with the decision and many tears were shed but she felt she needed to be obedient to what God had been asking. The night before I posted my clothing plea she had laid the adoption at God's feet and asked him to show her what to do.  If He wanted her to give this adoption to Him then to show her someone to give all the wonderful clothes to. The next morning she looked on my blog and saw my post and I guess she was moved and felt like God had put this whole situation together. She felt that it was devine arrangement of circumstances that she had made her plea to God and asked for a person to give her clothes to and the next morning she saw my post about needing clothes for our daughter from China. She felt Gods leading and tremendous peace about her decision to give the adoption back to God and that He had something different for her in the future. She emailed me and told me the situation and asked if she could send me the clothes. Of course I was terribly moved by her story and felt that God's hand was in the whole situation. I was amazed by her trust in what God had for her and felt blessed to be a part of His plan.

This amazing woman sent us a HUGE box full of the most beautiful NEW clothes and toys. It was such a blessing to us not only to receive the gifts but also to see how she had trusted in the Lord and He was leading her life. Opening that box was so emotional. There was tremendous  excitement about seeing the items but tremendous sadness of a dream ending but tremendous excitement about what God had in store for her. Her obedience to what HE wanted was moving. When opening the box and looking at the items, Ethan actually said that he thought this lady was "very brave". When I asked what he meant he said that she was being very brave to be giving up what she wanted and doing what God wanted. I think she taught all of us a lesson- a very valuable lesson about obedience and I cant wait to see where God takes this amazingly Godly woman!!

I did ask if I could post her story and she was gracious enough to allow me to do so. She had hoped that through her journey that another struggling person might somehow be  influence or moved by her situation and be lead to follow blindly to what God has for their life. What an amazing testimony!! We feel blessed to have been a part of her journey and genuinely appreciate her generosity. I hope to grow our friendship!!

Within all the clothes were a few older girl outfits so I put this beautiful Matilda Jane dress that she had given me on Finley. I will let the pictures speak for themselves-- ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!!!

 Just beautiful!!

 Finley loves spinning and thought this was a spinner dress so she decided to spin and spin and spin!

 And Spin

 And Swing

 I love her true smiles. It is so full of life and shows so much of her personality. She is such a happy easy going little girl. We feel so blessed to have her!!

 What a beautiful dress!!!!

 On the horse trail behind our house

 Barefoot-- ouch!

 Running-- they were racing and Finley was holding her own with her speedy sister-- man can Mia run!

 Sisters-- awwww!!!

 They have so much fun together.

Mia is the typical type A leader and Finley is the easy going happy to play anything one. I wonder how our new little one will fit in???

Saturday, November 5, 2011

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