September 29, 2011

The twins first picture and our deep gratitude

There is pink that is finally starting to grow in our fundraising thermometer!!!  I cannot express how thankful I am to finally feel like we are making progress towards bringing the twins home!

But, I have a confession to make....I have written several fundraising posts and deleted them shortly after.  I just felt like I was complaining and not having enough faith that it would all work out.  I had a running joke with my family that I felt like Charlie Brown and could only get rocks in my trick or treat bag....and I was just feeling very unsupported.   But, after I would write those posts, I would feel guilty for being so negative and pathetic...and I deleted them. 

  I am now feeling sorry that I did that because I am finding that it was for my benefit to have that experience. 

I should have known that most of my biggest life lessons and blessings come from my trials. 

So, I decided to be vulnerable and post with honesty because I hope that it will help someone else....I've promised myself that I won't delete this one!

My biggest trial ever and yet a time of great growth was the time that surrounded the death of our beautiful baby extremely awful beyond comprehension and yet we came out the other side with compassion for others and a drive to live our lives the best way that we know how....

She gave us many gifts in her short life.  She taught us to always ask questions of the doctor and to never worry that asking those questions might inconvenience someone. 

She taught us that even the pain of labor and loss isn't too strong for God to help with.  She taught us that it is okay to mourn and what it actually means to be strong.

  She taught us about deep grieving and sadness and she taught us about never ending love.

  And, mostly she taught us to strive as hard as we can to do what is right and to follow Christ's example so that we all may be reunited some day. 

As I go throughout my day, I can imagine her watching....what sin is worth risking a chance for a mother to be reunited with her baby?

So, I may not like it but the hard times are truly necessary for us. 

 And, what blessings have come out of it!  I can't even begin to express with words how I have felt with each and every donation or purchase from our store!   I have a whole new appreciation for the value of a dollar.....because, you see, in an adoption

 The money that is given means so much more than just the money.....

It represents someone who cares....

there is someone out there that has been touched by the twins too and wants to see them united with our family. 

I have mentioned in past posts that the only families interested in the twins wanted to separate them.

Here is the first picture I have posted of the twins....can you imagine separating these hands?  I know that the light is probably just a reflection of some sort but I like to think that it shows the strong connection between the two of them.

I have noticed that many of the other adoption blogs will say that there is no donation that is too small.  Even $1 or $5 is representative of a sacrifice of time and personal money that they worked hard for and I am truly touched by it.

Not to mention, that if the word spreads and others are willing to encourage someone else to give...even just a little, it eventually *does* add up! 

It also really adds up in the confidence and courage of the adoptive family who is really stepping off into the unknown...even if they have adopted before.  Sometimes I think I need that the most, so sending love and prayers is also quite welcomed! :)

My husband said to me today, "You know, even if you are playing the role of Charlie Brown....have you ever noticed that he always goes right back to that football, waits once again for a valentine, and still goes trick or treating ....he never gives up!"

September 24, 2011

Ipad 2 giveaway!!!!!

I'm so excited to announce our first giveaway!   It's the Ipad 2...
It's thinner, it's lighter, it's faster!  The battery lasts 10 hours!  It has two cameras designed for face time calling and a beautiful crisp display controlled by touch.  It is the world's most advanced mobile operating system!  I wish I had one myself!

We have many ways to enter the contest:

1.  For every cash donation of $5 or more you will get an entry. 

2.  You will also earn an entry for every purchase made in our store:

We have all kinds of t-shirts and items including the ability to do nearly any custom t-shirt that you desire.

3.  We would also like to offer other items in our giveaway and will give an entry for any item donated to our giveaway such as gift cards to restaurants or stores that you haven't had a chance to use yet, crafts or jewelry, quilts or any other new item that you feel would have general appeal.

4.  We would love some ideas of what you would like to see featured in our store.  We will offer an entry for each idea but please note that once you submit the idea it becomes the property of Walnut Grove Traditions.

5.  Earn an entry for liking our store on Facebook and sharing a link to our blog or website.

6.  Last but definitely not least, I would appreciate prayers said on behalf of our family and the twins.  This has been and likely will continue to be a challenge for us all and we appreciate the prayers more than you can imagine.  Please just send an email to let us know and I will enter your name in the contest! 

The contest will end when we reach our $8000 goal.  If we don't make enough to giveaway the ipad we will give the winner a cash percentage of the proceeds. 

Thanks everyone for your help....please spread the word around!

September 22, 2011

European partay in the house!!!!!

It has been celebration time in our household!!!  Robert and I drove over an hour to find one of the few DHL offices left..... in order to mail out our dossier! 

When we arrived I felt extremely mixed.  In some ways I just wanted to shove that paperwork over and finally release myself from the responsibility and worry of holding on to it myself.  On the other hand, that two pound pile of paperwork was worth seven months of work and time, $330 of notarizing, and $1000 of apostilles!

I watched the clerk's every keystroke into the computer and luckily caught her before she actually listed the value as being $1000 (okay fine, the reason why she knew is that I had complained to her too!)  If that would have been left in there, our dossier would have been stuck in customs for who knows how long.  Technically, that pile of paper had no worth whatsoever....Robert had a hard time with putting that zero down!

And then, I watched Robert carefully peel the sticker off of the envelope and ever so carefully seal the contents and push out the air. 

And, he slowly pushed it across the counter to the cashier.

She promised to be extra careful with it.....
And so Tuesday night our dossier began it's three day flight across the world and should arrive in the twin's country on the 23rd.

What an amazing and eerie feeling that was, walking out of that office.

But, we didn't pause too long, because we had plans to attempt to be fingerprinted with immigration two weeks ahead of our scheduled date.

USCIS Fingerprinting:
When we reached the building, I turned off the car, took a deep breath, and told Robert that we had to pray before we went in.  It was so important that we be allowed to fingerprint early because it could take two months for the fingerprints to come back.  And, we can't get a court date until that happens.

And, I *truly* want the twins to be home with us at Christmas.

So we prayed.  And then, I realized that God must have been snickering at us.  Because here is how many people were in the building:

Okay, this is not our USCIS office but it looks similar to ours just much nicer without the creepy, bleak, and sterile look ours is sporting. 

But, what is exactly the same is that this huge long room with rows of chairs was EMPTY!!!

Why on earth were we asked to wait until October with the potential of making the twins miss Christmas with our family....when the whole place was EMPTY???

Well, I shouldn't complain because ultimately we were fingerprinted and now we're DONE!!!!!

All of the paperwork, homestudy interviews, doctor visits, criminal and background checks, notarizing, apostilling, fingerprinting....all DONE!

Now, it is just a matter of raising the rest of the money for the attorney and for all of the traveling.  We have tapped into our savings and our 401K and we're pretty much at the bottom of it.  So, fundraising has now become a must.

Our new website!
The great news is that I have finished with the basics of our online store and here it is:

Please come to our web page and check out what we have to offer.  We actually own a professional digital garment printer so we are able to do almost any custom job that you or friends and family might need...please come check it out!

I promise to discuss more about our giveaways and incentives but for now, please know that any purchases will still be included in our upcoming drawing even though it hasn't been announced yet.

So, back to our celebration!

Eastern European partay!
 We went to a European food store and got some incredible food.  Some of which, actually came from the twin's country!

Here's a fun game....We have many different countries represented with our feast, but our twin's country is represented by at least one of these foods that you will see and possibly more.  Can you figure out where we are adopting from?

If you think you know....don't post about it on the blog because I won't be able to publish it.  But, you can sit back and feel very smart until we are finally able to make a more public announcement *after* the adoption.  Be careful, it may not be as obvious as you think! ;)

So we started with some amazing rye bread with caraway seeds and real butter:

And we had pork dumplings....soooo good!

Along with some cherry filled dumplings with a cherry dip.....this one was a little strange

Here is a sampling of their hot food (I have no idea what country these are from) but they were incredible

L to R was a meatball, meat filled roll, and cabbage roll(like sauerkraut inside corn bread)

Okay, this is cheating a little but Mary had been requesting Chinese food so we ate in appreciation of Chinese adoptions!

And we had cake!
This cake had no labels but was so pretty we had to try it. It had many layers that my daughter said were like tofu...I'm not sure about that but it was completely different than any other cake I've ever had.

I love the beautiful baby on this candy!  Not sure if it was this one but one of the candies tasted like a musty basement....

These candies were so sparkly and pretty!  They tasted like a cola drink....very yummy!

          And, phenomenal chocolates...especially if you like jelly filled.

And last but not cream!  Wait, no...the lady that helped us, said in her really cool accent, "Oh no no, note ice cream....cheeeza!"  Well, it tasted more like ice cream than cheese but it was truly good!

After that, we played a you tube search game.  We put the twin's country into the search box and then went around the family and asked for a random word to go with it.  So, we saw weddings, pop music, a cartoon, a street workout, and a group singing their national anthem.  The children danced and marvelled at what a wonderful country!  We are truly blessed to be allowed to adopt from such an amazing culture and hope to keep the ties strong and maintain their language. 

This is the same language that our dossier will start to be translated into....TOMORROW!  Yes, tomorrow is a big day....the day that the dossier will arrive in their country!

September 18, 2011


Finally we have made some serious progress! 

We had to redo our medical release three times.  The last issue on mine was that our notary used a stamp that was from a different county than the one we signed in...grrr.  So frustrating!  So, while I was volunteering, my wonderful husband went and got both his form and mine redone by the doctor.  Once again, the nurse was our angel and was a huge help...we have promised to bring the twins to visit her once we are home.

We had to get the paperwork notarized the same day and went to the bank to get it notarized.  By the way, for those of you who are adopting, please know that the bank will notarize for free.  We made a *very* painful mistake due to complete ignorance and we had the bulk of our paperwork notarized at a UPS store.  It cost us $330!  I only found out that I could do it for free after I complained to our adoption agency about how expensive it was to notarize.  Ahhh, the painful life lessons we are learning.....

Anyway, we went to our bank and the manager said that she needed to check a few things since we didn't have an appointment but that she would try to accomodate us.  In the meantime, someone else offered to help us and called another bank close by and told us to go over to their bank.  We headed out to our car and I began to tell Robert how Eleanor had gotten stung by a bee on her forehead. 

I was quite engrossed in telling him how her forehead swelled up like a character in Star Trek......when I noticed that Robert had a faraway look, and then he turned around.

The bank manager was literally running through the parking lot in high heels and a tight skirt.  She was yelling and wildly waving her arms.

 I looked to see if we had left something behind but I had my purse and the documents.  We quizzically walked towards her in confusion and she was so out of breath that she could hardly speak.  We could  barely make out the words that she had just had a baby and was so out of shape.  She then took a deep breath and said that she did want to help us and that a notary would be ready in five minutes and that she was SO glad that she caught us as she didn't want us to go running around all over town.

Now, that's customer service!!!

So, we finished our last notarized document and off my husband went to get the documents apostilled.  For those of you that don't know what this is an official seal that *each* document must get in order to show that your notary was a legal and valid notary in your state.  How much does it cost?  Well, each state varies but California is one of the most expensive, of course, and having all of the documents apostilled cost us just under $1000.00!!!  Now you know why my faith was being tested once again in my earlier post!  It hurts! 

But it doesn't hurt us as much as it hurts children to be without a family.

So here is the official office of the Secretary of State:
And here is the beautiful seal!
One thousand dollars worth of seals!

I keep this manilla folder in a large plastic organizer and I have been guarding it with my life!  I won't even go into a restaurant and leave it in the car.  I told my husband that they can have the car but I refuse to have someone steal this paperwork!  It not only represents a lot of money, but an amazing amount of time as well. 

So, that's it!

We wait for the final instructions on Monday and pay our last installment of agency fees and then our dossier goes out to the twin's country!

We're almost there and almost out of funds (and we have the expense of the trip and lawyer's fees next) so Monday is my absolute deadline for starting our fundraiser and announcing our business grand opening.  I have been so impressed by so many other families who are working on fundraising and their homestudy and dossier all at the same time!  I just couldn't do it!  I really wanted to but here are my current responsibilities:
(This list is truly to prove to myself that I am doing something even when it feels like I am treading water)
1. Mother to 6 children at home
2. Consulting mother via Skype/FB/and phone to two adult children (recently out of the nest)
3. Homeschooling teacher to 6 wonderful pupils!
4. Early morning seminary teacher five days a week at church & nursery leader on Sundays
5. Volunteer one day a week at the hospital
6. Business planning/development for our online business and fundraiser
7. Working on the crazy amount of paperwork for an international adoption

Whew!  I could really use to have a full time clone of myself for each of the above items! 

But, today I am finally feeling accomplished and so good about it.
Please call me a big flake if I don't announce our business on Monday....I mean it! :-)

September 17, 2011

The *true* definition of a hero

I finally had a day where I could lay in bed in the morning hours and pray and ponder.  I prayed and prayed for strength, guidance, and assistance.  I am just finding that I am not accustomed to relinquishing control and allowing the faith that Heavenly Father will make up the difference of what I can't do. 

I finished my prayers and began  my morning of checking in with other adoption blogs that I follow and attempting to get some fundraising ideas.  And, I came across a new blog.  It is written by an amazing mother who has a child with EB.  It is a heartbreaking disease and I found myself humbled not once but twice as I read her post about an absolutely incredible young woman at the tender age of 20 who is selflessly following Christ's example and is a modern day Mother Theresa!  Please read this blog and  I challenge you to still worry about your own small problems afterwards:

God really does know me and knows how to gently, lovingly, and directly put me in my place and adjust my attitude.  I am so grateful.....

September 14, 2011

Homeschooling joys and water parks

I truly love homeschooling!  Not every day, mind you, but overall....I love it.  And, I have decided that after homeschooling about 12 years that the reasons that prompted me to start homeschooling aren't the reasons that I have continued.

I started because I had one child struggling with the academics of 1st grade and very little real efforts from the school to help.  And, I had another first grader that was bored to tears and hated the monotony of sitting at a desk with worksheet after worksheet.  Her love of learning was disappearing.

I also worried about the peer influences.

Now, I have one main reason that I love homeschooling:


I cannot stress enough to all of you that have small goes *so* fast!  And, there is only so much time that your children have with you to play, laugh, cry, and talk. 

I miss my oldest girls so much now that they are on their own and I now value the time that we had together more than I ever knew I would while in the moment.   

So, I truly appreciate that our first day of homeschool classes came in *September* rather than August (which still seems like summer).  And, we only go on Fridays.  The children can see their friends and are taking classes like Chemistry, Algebra, Theatre production, Advanced media production, hands on science and even organic gardening!

And, we ended our day with time at a local water park.

Amelia getting stuck in the baby swing was a funny ending to a long but great day!

September 12, 2011

I just held the twins....

My dream theme continues....just when I am feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, I feel God's hand in this whole experience.  It is so hard to have children so far away and to love them so much but continue to have mountains of paperwork and financial barriers stand in the way!

In the midst of all of this last minute craziness to get all of the paperwork finished for the dossier, to get our business and fundraisers going, and to still maintain the family and homeschool....I am often feeling extremely overwhelmed. 

So, I had gone to bed with much prayer and exhaustion.......and I truly had one of the sweetest and most peaceful feeling dreams that I have ever had.

The twins were with us (not exactly sure where the location was!) and I was smiling and reaching out to our new daughter to get a hug.  Then, our son ran into my arms and I pulled him into my lap with his blankie and we rocked and rocked in a rocking chair. 

This picture does a good job at capturing the emotion that I felt in the dream and for a good while when I woke up.
It felt so good to have both of them safe in my arms......

September 1, 2011

Help Thomas find his forever family!

I feel the need to follow up on my "discouraged" blog as well as publicizing about a dire need of a family for a little boy with HIV.  I received an email that looked like this:

"This 4 year old boy was recently sent to a post-soviet mental institution. Only because he has HIV. His situation is urgent. He was born in January 2007. He does not have any siblings. ‘Thomas’ is a real prince! He is a very handsome boy. A volunteer says “I will never forget my first impression of him. Despite the fact that he is shy and humble, and has spent his childhood in an orphanage, he is still insistent and achieves his goals. I took him on rides and on an inflatable in town, he could not climb the slide and the older children were pushing past him, but he did not cry, and in the end he achieved his objective. When I walked with him through the grounds of his baby house, he carefully avoided the aggressive kids and seeks the kind children. He is protective of the nice kids. He is clever. He is not at a loss in any situation, he immediately finds a way. He is very affectionate and loves to cuddle. We have just learned that this sweet boy has been transferred to a mental institute :(  It cannot be overstated how dire his situation is in that environment. A committed adoptive family is urgently needed!"

This is real.....a small child being sent to a mental institution that has no business being there.....a child that may have had hope but will be losing that hope by the day.  Please, if you blog, post his picture and his story.  If you know someone interested in adoption but they are not aware of the safety of HIV adoption, send them to Positively Orphaned or Project Hopeful.  Please get the word out, surely there is a family out there that would be thrilled to bring him home! 
As for our efforts to bring the twins home....despite the fact that I worry,  I just cannot feel discouraged any longer. 

I had a profoundly bolstering spiritual experience that is so hard for me to describe in words. 

I received an answer to all of my pleading prayers. 

Let me explain by saying that, I had gone into protective mode.  I had decided that if it all didn't work out and we couldn't raise the funds......or, if something else unforeseen happened.......that we could just try again when life was easier. 

I wasn't giving up exactly but I was allowing that possibility to start creeping in.

I received revelation that brings to mind the lyrics of a Josh Groban song that says, "and the sky will throw thunderbolts and sparks".  It was truly that dramatic, not literally of course.....but spiritually, I did indeed feel the thunderbolts and sparks. 

I know that it is truly important that we bring the twins home to our family.  And so my resolve changed.

What happened next?

  1. I got an email- from a prior co-worker and great friend who offered to do a garage sale in order to assist us in our efforts to fundraise.  I was so touched that someone would expend that much time and effort on our behalf and that of the twins.  She is an amazing person and is truly inspired! 
  2. We got a letter-from Veneco that they were attempting to find who owned the mineral rights to our property as there were funds that were pooling without a recipient to forward to. The county clerk found the documentation and agreed that we do indeed own the mineral rights and we will now wait to see how this may help our efforts.
  3. We received our DOJ documentation-this  threatened to slow our ability to turn in our dossier.  But, we received it within a day!!  We are ready to have all the documents in our dossier, notarized and apostilled and then sent off to our agency to forward them on to the the twin's country. 

Now, it gets exciting....that means that we are nearing approval and getting our travel dates!!!! 

I know that there are many that might call this "coincidental" but I truly believe that God does provide........