Thursday, March 29, 2007

Not much to post......sorry

We don't have new news about Anara. We are preparing for travel. This weekend we are going to do a special family activity since it will be our last weekend as a family of 3. We are also going to memorize the travel/adoption information that we got from our agency.

Violet and I have been outside most of the week. The neighborhood is full of activity and Vi has made some new friends. We had a new family move in next door a few weeks ago. The kids are great! There are 5 kids ranging in age 4-12. They are very polite and treat Violet well. Violet loves the boy - Marcos. She gets shy and smiley around him.

Below are some pictures of the neighborhood kids. Some of them live here and others just visit Gray St. frequently (at least weekly). The group picture doesn't include the 3 kids in the house on our southside or the 5 kids in the house to the north. It would be fun to have a picture of the whole group.

Unfortunately, this is Violet's "mine" face

Merlin (a new neighbor to the south) with Mia (our long-time neighbor)

Some of our friends

I don't even know her name, but I think she is prec. - don't you Emily?

Violet helping Mama get some seeds ready to plant

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

God's a good boy and other Violet musings

Here are some recent comments as Vi is learning to make sense of this world.

"God's a good boy. I give him kisses."

"Help us love God and obey Mommy. Thank you Mommy Daddy."
Violet praying before I put her to bed when Uncle Andy was helping.

"Mama, look at my owie, Jesus will fix it."

"Oh no, Baby Bobae has a owie! That's okay, God will fix it."
Bryan's dog bit her baby doll's (Bobae) hand.

"Okay Mama, but wait just a minute."
I asked Vi if she wanted to watch a few minutes of Sesame Street and she held up her pointer finger.

And finally, as requested by Jody, video of Vi saying her ABC's.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

March Madness!

I just figured out how to post video, so here is one from last night. Violet got an early Easter present and was pretty quick to learn how to "stam gunk." This will be something the little neighborhood kids can use, too.

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Anara Update: We booked our tickets and are praying that everything goes smoothly from here. You can pray for the details to be worked out for getting the right visa for Anara as we are anticipating a possible setback there. Lots of things are out of our hands now, so we are being reminded often to rely on and trust God.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Visit from Violet

This week my grandma, Violet, came to visit. Violet Grace was named after Violet Marie. Here you can see Violet Grace being treated like a baby by Great Grandma. Violet certainly doesn't mind the extra attention.

Grandma has Alzheimer's disease, but we are fortunate because it is still in an early stage. She has no problem remembering who and where she is. She mostly talks about childhood memories. She had a difficult time remembering the season this visit. She was convinced that winter was coming soon. She often repeats herself, but we don't mind. I think Vi enjoyed the repetitiveness of her questions such as "What do you think Grandpa's doing right now" or Vi's favorite question "What do you think Grandma's kitty is doing right now." Violet knows how to answer this question, "See sayin meow, meow, meow". Since her AD isn't too far along we can laugh at and ignore the little things like: my comb is missing, the bathroom sink doesn't always get shut-off, we have a large supply of "rolls" (pastries) because Grandma likes a "little roll with her coffee," she mistook a small flashlight from our nightstand drawer for her own, and Violet came up to me and said, "What's this Momma - candy?" when she found one of Grandma's pills on the floor. It is fun and we enjoy having her around.

Grandma has lived on a farm her entire life. She has had very limited interactions with people of different races or cultures. Yesterday we played outside with our neighbors, and it was neat to watch interactions between Grandma and our friends. The little boy below in the blue stripes was particularly intrigued by Grandma. I looked over and he was standing by her holding her hand and looking at it. It was really sweet and it was probably a first for Grandma. I wish I could've got a picture of his little hand in hers.

This is a picture of Jasmine, our new neighbor. She lives next door with her mom, dad, and 4 siblings. We have really enjoyed them in the few weeks they have lived here, and Violet loves Jasmine.

Here is a picture of Violet with a Gameboy. It belongs to one of the neighborhood kids and they are great about sharing. I was noticing yesterday how generous they are, and I thought it was interesting. I have always had more than I need and have held very tightly and been very protective of my possessions, but many of these kids have little and are very willing to share.

One of our favorite activities when Great Grandma comes to visit is putting together puzzles. Sometimes I am not sure what to do to keep her busy and this seems to help fill time when she doesn't feel that there is a task for her. Also, it is fun to work on together in the evenings. Violet liked the idea of the puzzle although she wasn't much of a help.

I will post again soon with more Anara updates.

Monday, March 19, 2007

And now.....

for the moment we've all been waiting for...............

We have travel dates!!

Our official, yet tentative, travel dates are April 7 - April 17th. I say tentative because international adoption is full of surprises and nothing is set in stone. We are getting pretty excited. We have our 1st appointment set in Kyrg for 3:00pm April 9th. We are working on airline tickets and accommodations.

Last weekend we practiced being away from Violet. She went to Grandma's Friday evening and stayed until Sunday afternoon. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but our trip will be last weekend X 5. The saddest part was that Violet was convinced she was going to see "Baby Nawa" since Mommy and Daddy were gone and she "stay Meemaw". Now she says, "Mommy and Daddy go get Baby Nawa soon". The next time she won't be disappointed.

We got some updates about Anara this morning.

Anara’s weight today is 7KG and 100grams, which is 15.62 pounds. They do not usually use disposable diapers at the orphanage. I think Amanda can just look at the weight on the package and decide what to buy her. It will be good to have a few on hand the first day because they will take her with them to the appointment at the US Embassy. I made the appointment today. It is for 3:00 on Monday, April 9.

I saw Anara on Saturday. She was holding her little Pooh bear that Amanda sent, slinging it around. I played with her a little while and she really laughed. It was a wonderful sound. I had also bought her a play station for her bed that has little animals hanging down. They say she really likes it and plays a lot. I bought it because the worker said she did not seem to like the toys. I think most of them are for younger babies and Anara was probably bored. She was making talking sounds when I was there the other day. I wished I had brought my camera.

I wish she would've brought her camera too! We just love getting any information about her.

Thanks for all your support. Keep us in your prayers as we enter the travel phase of our adoption.

December Letter

There has been a request for the posting of our December letter. A few things have changed since this letter. Our costs will be closer to $33,000 (even without having to travel twice), and we have almost completed our agency payments so money sent in will no longer go towards our adoption (but to an equally noble cause - the Babushka Fund for children left behind). Here it is.....

Dear Friends and Family,

We want to take this opportunity to wish you all a blessed Christmas season and to share some exciting news. We are preparing to grow our family through adoption. We started the process at the beginning of November and hope to soon adopt a baby from Kyrgyzstan, a small country in Central Asia.

We are not sure of the timeline, but we believe that God may already be preparing a new baby sister or brother for Violet. We are hopeful that we might bring a baby home sometime in the next 6 months, but nothing is certain with international adoption. As we said, it is exciting for us but also a step that is testing our patience as well as our faith in God’s will for our lives.

Psalm 68:5-6 tells us that as the Father to the fatherless, God delights in setting the lonely in families. It has become our conviction that responding to the scriptural mandate of caring for orphans, such as the one found in James 1:27, is an act of obedience as well as an opportunity to experience, in a profound way, the joy of God by being a part of His sovereign plan for His precious children.

God is working in our hearts and minds as we read more about this process and talk with others who have adopted. We are still early in the process, but have completed our homestudy (possibly the most arduous part of the adoption process) and are beginning to prepare our dossier (international paperwork). After that, we just wait. Already, though, we have put a substantial amount of money into the process and the expenses will continue to increase. The estimated cost of the adoption is between $25,000 and $30,000.

Because it is so costly, adoption is often only available to wealthier families. We are fortunate to have an adoption reimbursement available through Nate’s company and will also be able to take advantage of an adoption tax credit in 2008. Although the reimbursements will cover a large portion of the adoption, we are trying to obtain part of the remaining $5,000 - $10,000 through fund raising. We are writing to invite you to be a part of our adoption process. There is an opportunity through the agency we are working with, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, to sponsor us through a program called the Babushka Fund. The program was established to help families finance adoption. We are hoping that God might move in the hearts of people we know to give toward our adoption.

If you’d like to help, please know that 100% of your contribution goes toward our adoption (no administrative fees or anything like that), and it is tax-deductible. You can write a check to Nightlight Christian Adoptions – just include our name on a note with the check – and you will receive a donation receipt from Nightlight.

We thank you for considering this financial support, but of course we would also appreciate prayer support for this process, our baby, and our family.

You can send your checks to:

Nightlight Christian Adoptions
801 E. Chapman Ave., Suite 106
Fullerton, CA 92831

With many thanks for your friendship and the important role you’ve played in our lives,
Nathan, Amanda and Violet

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

V 2

Spring has Sprung

We have been spending most of our time outside. Violet has loved being outdoors since birth. She is happy just to run around the yard and explore. It is great to watch her enjoy and entertain herself. Even though she can entertain herself outside, she loves friends! Today she played with Victoria (Doodlebug). We also have lots of neighborhood kids to enjoy on a daily basis. I will post a picture of them soon.

I am babysitting Victoria for a few days this week. I can't seem to find anything that she likes to eat. Her mom says, "Oh, Doodlebug loves oatmeal" so I make her oatmeal - turns out, she doesn't like my oatmeal. Today I fed her cereal (some form of Kashi) and she piled the flakes up on her tray. Then I made her and Violet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. What kid doesn't like peanut butter and jelly (it was her idea)? Maybe she doesn't like our oatmeal or our bread and peanut butter. I finally gave in on the peanut butter and snuck Bug some canned ravioli. Her mom had told me that it was one of her favorites last time I babysat, so we bought some and sure enough... You can see how I kept Violet from finding out that Bug was getting special treatment.

No updates on Anara. We are praying for a courtdate very soon. It is pretty difficult to remain patient, but we don't really have a choice. Hopefully we will know something soon.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Interested in Adoption?

Saturday we found another orphan. We have no idea the age or breed (maybe black lab?). The neighborhood kids were playing with the puppy on Friday and then Saturday it was just wondering around the neighborhood by itself. I rescued her and she is currently living in our kitchen. (Don't worry Mom we moved the rugs and I will mop and sweep before your next visit.) We are not interested in being pet owners, but if you are just let us know.

Violet has enjoyed having this little puppy around. She is very good at telling the puppy what to do, when to eat, and where to sit. She calls the puppy "Seeba" since the neighborhood kids were calling her Sheba. We left her at my brother's house overnight and when we went back to get her this morning Violet said, "Seeba where's Andy?"

Yesterday Violet played with cousins Noble and Guy, and visited our friends "Keef and Addy" or Keith and Addison. It is funny to watch Violet in a group setting, or a group of kids. At our House Church, she is the spotlight and goes from person to person making sure all eyes are on her. Last night, she played mostly by herself and didn't seem interested in what the other kids were doing unless she was confiscating their toys. This is an area that needs some work. The nursery worker at church said Violet was hoarding some of the toys. This makes us sad even though people keep reassuring us that it is typical toddler behavior.

We are still waiting on news about Anara. I am really praying that court will happen this week, but I'm not even sure that is feasible. We are trying to get things as ready as we can before our departure. Hopefully we will have more information soon.

Violet sporting Great Grandpa P. attire.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Wreck of the Day

Yesterday was a bad day. We put Violet to bed at 9:00pm Wednesday night. Violet's behavior is largely determined by amount of sleep, and she woke up Thursday morning a little earlier than normal - hence the beginning of a bad day. I had very little patience with her, and she was tired of me as well. She whined and disobeyed all day, and I whined back - it was ugly.

Then, last night I had a little emotional outburst. I will say little, but my eyelids were an inch thick this morning and I haven't cried that hard since high-school (maybe Nate would disagree). Anyway, I am a neurotic mom. I forgot that Violet belongs to God and have been holding on a little too tight. I am terrified of leaving her while we go get Anara. I keep forgetting that she isn't mine and my control is only an illusion. I am not the only person that can keep her safe, and bad things can happen while she is in my care. So, if you want to pray about my letting her go, I would appreciate it. I really want to use the trip to bond with Anara and focus on her and making her adoption story. I don't want to spend the trip grieving that I had to leave Violet.

Speaking of Anara - no news. We are still waiting to go to court. We were able to get an MD letter asking for an expedited process. The director of the adoption committee has been sick and we are waiting on another letter from him. Pray that court will be complete soon and we will be able to travel soon after.

Also, I have been reading about attachment and adoption. It is a much more difficult process than bonding with a biological newborn. Anara has many things that will make it difficult for her to attach. She was born with a birth defect into an unloving and unfair world. She learned that her physical and emotional needs would not be met consistently. We now have to prove to her that her needs will be met, and that she can trust us. Babies develop attachment in the 1st 18 months of life. They make determinations about the world that will impact the rest of their lives. They decide whether they are lovable or worthless. I know many of you might think this is a bunch of psychological mumbo jumbo, but orphans and abused children manifest these beliefs repeatedly. Pray that Anara will attach to us. Also pray that her attachment will not be interrupted by the surgery she will have.

During the attachment process, we might be doing some things that are not conventional. Nate and I will be the only people who can hold her for an undetermined amount of time. We have to make sure that she sees us meeting her needs. Many orphans have indiscriminate attachments in that they seek consoling from any adult. We want to avoid this. We want to make it very clear to Anara that we will provide for her. During this initial attaching process, we will treat her much more like a newborn and use opportunities to do newborn things with her (feeding, eye contact, cooing, bathing). Hopefully she will attach easily and phase 1 of this process will be brief. But, I just wanted to give a heads-up just in case. (I say all these things now - we will see.)

Those are the things swimming in my mind. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ups and Downs

We spent the weekend doing some home improvement projects with Joel & Nicole (Nate's brother and his wife). They came Saturday morning and stayed until Sunday evening. After 3 years, our kitchen is finally nearing completion. It looked okay before, but there were many finishing touches that had not been a priority for us. These would have been impossible without their help, since one parent is always out of commission.

Today we found out that our "going to court" process is temporarily on hold until we get a letter from our Urologist stating the urgency of Anara's condition. The secretary was planning to fax it today, but something must have happened because our adoption agency never received the document. By the time we wake up tomorrow morning, Tuesday will be closing for Anara - it feels like a waste of a day. We should be able to get the letter tomorrow and have it for the opening of business Wednesday. Hopefully.

Rachel, from Signing Time, left a comment on our blog. You can view it under the Signing Time post for February. It was pretty exciting. Violet didn't grasp the concept, but she did see her picture and repeated, "See Rachel 'gain" throughout the day. Speaking of Signing Time, it was not on this weekend and I couldn't find it when I did a search through next week. It's funny - I made it through adolescence without much interest in following shows or celebrities, and now I feel like a groupie for a children's television show.

We had been hoping that our travel would be discounted because of a generous individual willing to donate mass quantities of frequent-flyer miles. We found out today that he doesn't have quite as many miles as he thought, and it probably won't help us. It isn't that big of deal, but it would have been great had it worked out.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Violet's View

Vi is helping me get a package ready to ship - well, not really helping.

Hello here are a few more stories and Violet quotes.

We were reading Brown Bear and settling down for a nap. I read the title page, "Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle" when Violet replied, "No Mama not how goes. It say 'bobby bobby do you see, red bird look at me.'" Well, she was right. The 1st page does say "Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me." (Guess she doesn't understand title pages yet.)

Yesterday we got new Anara pictures (see yesterday's post if you haven't seen these pics.) and Violet wanted to see "Baby Tister." I was scrolling through the Anara pictures and Violet happened to see a picture of Anara's bladder. Here is the conversation that followed:

V: Oh no Mama wipe it.
A: I can't wipe it Violet, it is an owie.
V: Oh no, Baby Nara has a owie. Oh. Oh (in a sad voice with sad face).
A: When we bring Baby Anara home we are going to get her owie fixed.
V: Mama Daddy get her and fick Baby Nara owie.
A: We will take her to a doctor to fix her owie.
V: (Light bulb over Violet's head) Oh take her Dr. Leland to fick owie (Dr. Leland is Violet's pediatrician).

And now, all references to Baby Anara are followed by confirmation that she has an owie and that we will fix it.