January 31, 2012

We met the twins!!!!!!!

What an amazing day we had today....I am still on a cloud!  But, first bear with me.....I am blogging for several reasons.  One of the main reasons is that I hope to touch another family out there to consider adoption.  But, I also really want to preserve these memories of our family for all of our children.  I don't know why I am more motivated to blog than write in a journal but I think it is because I can get feedback and motivation from people wanting to hear how everything is going.  Either way, I need to take you back to last night when we got on the plane out of London and headed towards the twin's country.

So, I booked a flight at the other airport in London because the tickets were sooooo much cheaper.  Well, you know the old saying about getting what you pay for.....hmmm, it definitely applies to this situation.  We were hassled at the airport security and they searched every inch of every bag of ours but were completely inconsistent with their standards elsewhere.  They would allow at least half the people to keep their shoes on... and half the people seemed to just automatically take their shoes off.  So I decided to ask if I needed to take my shoes off...the attendant looked irritated and said loudly, "Yes!"  I had to then wonder whether they just weren't noticing the others, which is truly scary! 

I guess my husband and I look truly scary like potential terrorists ready to blow up a plane because while they may have been lax with everyone else....we got the work over!  Then, we proceeded to wait in the "lounge area" because they hadn't even assigned our gate and it was approx 30 min to take off!!!

When they did announce our gate, it was quite the hike to get there and there was literally a mob of people all gathered and shoved together with a straight line trailing to the door.  There was no assigned seats, no organized calling group by group...no organized nothing!  It was just a huge group of people crowding all in at the same time trying to get on the plane first! 

I thought their rush to get on quickly was silly until we finally got on the plane (yes, we were towards the back of the line...of course!)  The plane was *packed* and the only two seats together were at the very back next to a con man (more on that later)

The overhead bins were stuffed to the maximum and Robert had to put our duffel bag at his feet.  So, Robert fell asleep and Mr. Con man proceeded to talk my ears off!

He explained that he owned *huge* palacial houses in Egypt and Hong Kong, as well as owning a large chain of hotels in the twin's country.  I was thinking....sure you do!  And that is why you are crammed into the back of this tiny horrendous plane like sardines with these people rather than taking a normal flight where you could have kept your knees out of your chin and actually gotten a drink without paying for it!  Yep...that's right....if you wanted a drink....you paid!

He was trying to get me to give him more information on our business or ourselves...promising that he wanted us to do digital garment printing on hotel curtains for him.  Any time I said that we didn't really ship overseas or do that type of product....he would have an excuse for why it would work....and wouldn't I consider it etc.....grrrrr!

And, where was my beautiful husband through all of this?  One guess.......

Yep!  SLEEPING like a baby!  He slept for virtually the entire and completely miserable flight! 

Okay, pity party over!  Hmmm, wait one more detail and then I promise I will get more positive.  We got off of the flight and felt the *searing* cold for the first time.  It was about -16 degrees.  I was actually mostly okay with it because I was so glad to get away from Mr. Con. 

We got to the baggage claim area and here is our suitcase winding around the bend....with the zipper completely broken and our clothes flopping outside of it as it bounced along...it looked like our clothes were waving to us.  All that held it together was a rainbow colored belt strapped around the middle.

For any of you old enough and nerdy enough to be fellow Jerry Lewis fans....Yes, we flew on Jolly Fats Wehawken!!!!  For any of you young and hip types....go get the movie "Cracking Up" and you will be a fan!

On to the positives......
We had a wonderful couple that we found through our church that was willing to come and pick us up at the airport.  What a huge comfort and help that was! 

Then we came into our new and extremely *beautiful* apartment home!!!!  It is a different one than the one we were expecting as it ended up being occupied.....it all worked out for the best because I LOVE this apartment and you will see why!

 Here is our entry way....to the right is the kitchen corridor and to the left is the living room.  Can you see our floor to ceiling view?

Here it is!!!

Yes, the glass leans outward...it is an *amazing* view of the snow and icy river.

Here it is at night!

Here is our bedroom

And, last but not least here is the twin's room just waiting for them to arrive tomorrow!!!

They each have a cloth twin baby with an egyptian cotton full size baby blankie and matching cowgirl/cowboy pajamas! 

Okay, okay, I will get to the actual meeting!!!!  We went first to learn more about the twins from their file.  We learned more about their sister but will maintain privacy by just saying that she is not adoptable nor will the children be able to make contact with her at this time. 

Then, we traveled to their foster home with the most amazing foster mother....okay she's just about the most positive, kind, and loving person I have ever met!  She is completely committed to the twins and to their adoption and is truly willing to sacrifice her own needs and feelings so that the twins will have a wonderful future.  I truly can't say enough good things about her....I am absolutely convinced that she was called by God to help these children.  Can I say that we are naming our daughter's middle name after her.... :-)

So, we came up to the house with the most relaxed and sweet golden retriever dogs in the yard...and one very chubby one sleeping in the doorway that we literally had to step over...it was adorable!

We climbed several flights of stairs and then opened a door and......there were the two most adorable angels you could ever see!  Our son (I will now call him I.) was smiling and jumped off the couch and into my husband's arms!   Our daughter (K.) was sitting firmly on the couch covering her face with her hands! Totally different but equally cute reactions to this pivotal moment!  It is okay, K.....I would hide my eyes too!  It is so overwhelming!

We brought out the miniature horses (They both love horses but especially I. as he wants to be a mounted police officer!) and I. and my husband started to play.  K. was drawing and trying so hard not to quite "see" that we were actually there.  She then decided to run back and forth into her room and back to us...hoping, it seemed, that we would notice her but not overwhelm her. 

I. and Robert played and played with the horses and then I. came over to me and took my hand and led me to their play room and where K was.  Before you know it, we were all playing....K showed me her room and which was her bed.  I said K? and pointed to the bed and she said no...I.  And pointed to herself and pointed to her bed and said K.  Then she pointed to me and pointed to the picture of my husband and I on their wall and said "mama"  I could have cried right there on the spot!  I. kept saying Dad and then bopping him on the head with a dinosaur or showing him a book.  I. would point to a picture and would give the name in his language...then Robert would try to say it and I. would shake his head and laugh.  Then we would say what it is in our language and I. would copy it with near perfection!  He will seriously have the language down in no time.  He kept copying me and saying, "no and yes....yes and no"

Their foster mom had wonderful cookies for us and herbal tea and I. kept running back and forth into the kitchen to get more cookies for us to eat.  K. then brought me a cookie and put it right to my mouth to be sure that I would actually eat it!  I. enjoyed rough housing a bit with dad but when I suggested that maybe they calm down a bit he sat in Robert's lap and played with his watch and was fascinated with turning on the light. 

We started a game where I pretended to be sleeping...then I. began snoring too as well as my husband.  Then, K. would make a loud noise or say something loud in her language and we would all startle awake while she giggled and giggled!

I. noticed dad's cell phone.  He mastered how to use the camera within minutes and then ran to take his foster mother's picture.  K. got Robert's notepad and she settled in again drawing and drawing some more. I will truly cherish that picture as well as some little marks that I. made earlier when showing me how he could write his name.

 Before we left, we gave them little bags of jelly bellies and they lit up with delight!  I promise, I did make sure it was okay with their foster mother!  They then started sharing and offering some to us as well as to their foster mother, the attorney, and the social worker. 

And.....the *best* part.......they were told that they would come with us after court tomorrow and I. announced "tomorrow I will go with mom and dad" in his language and then I was able to get a hug and kiss from both of them!!!!  I got my coat on and just had to go back for one more hug and kiss.  At the door I lingered and waved goodbye...they waved back and then we blew kisses to each other. 

This is a day that I will truly never ever forget.........

Oh, no pics yet...but tomorrow...I will do something creative with pictures to allow the privacy that their country wants while celebrating and sharing with everyone our great joy!

January 30, 2012

We're in London!!!!!

So far so good!!!  My main worry had been the fact that we were flying into Heathrow airport and had to drive an hour to Luton for our next flight to the twin's country and I didn't want to miss it!  It went perfectly!  Our flight was early, customs took 10 minutes, and our driver met us right out of the gate and got us here in about 40 min.  We now have two hours to spare here and have had a chance to eat and regroup for the next leg of the trip.

I just have to admit that I'm completely giddy and feeling like a five year old child again.....when we were landing into London, I saw *castles*!!!!  I truly felt like a little girl living a real life fairy tale....I was clapping and saying "Oh my gosh!" over and over while my poor husband strained to see.  I'll be fair and make sure he gets the window seat on the next flight. :)  Can I just say that I am so thankful for him and that I love him....we have been having a great time!

We'll be in our own apartment by tonight.....and meeting the twins tomorrow!!!!!!!!

January 29, 2012

Traveling!!! Started off with being skunked!!!!!! :/

Well, we started this trip off with just the scenario that would be typical for our family! <sigh>

I was feeling sooo great....everything was working out so well for once.  Even the things that had been amiss were straightening themselves out.   We were finishing up with packing our bags and though it was late...around 2am...we figured that we could get a few hours of refreshing sleep and then wake up to a hot shower and breakfast and say a warm and calm goodbye to our children.

My daughter let out the dog before we headed for bed and my husband and I discussed the last few things to pack. 

Before my brain could catch up.....I noticed that my nose was sniffing the air.   "Hmmm,"  I thought..."someone must have hit a skunk" and then, within the next minute I leapt to my feet...."we've been sprayed!!!!" 

Now, remember that we live in the country....and please know that most of you will feel like you know what skunk smells like.  Most of you will feel like you have smelled "fresh" skunk because it really smelled bad when you drove by. 

Please hear me....you do *not* know what skunk truly and really smells like unless you or something right next to you has *just* been sprayed!!!!  It is like tear gas...or a strong petroleum chemical smell....it is out of this world bad!!!!!  It causes your eyes to water and an immediate reaction to put any material you can find up next to your nose to prevent the assault to your entire system. 

Yes, this has happened before to our family, when a family of skunks loved the idea of living under our house near the fireplace chimney but weren't so fond of our daughters practicing Victorian dance across the wood floor over their heads!

And, the smell lasted on us....and our clothes.....for WEEKS!!!!!  It was truly awful! 

So, when the skunk hit, I *knew* we had to get out of there or we would not be welcome on any plane, in any courtroom or in any foreign country!  The twins would wonder in disappointment, why their new family had to stink so bad! 

My husband and I sprang into action and I yelled to him to grab the luggage and get it into one of the bedrooms while we figured out if it sprayed the cars and would effectively hold us captive.

Nope, the cars were good, but our wonderful dog who had decided that we didn't let him back in fast enough, had decided to crawl under the fence and was now literally dripping with tears, drool, and skunk spray!

Our dreams of a beautiful, touching, and tear jerking goodbye.....all caught on camera.....had vanished into grabbing what we could, thrusting it into the van and trying to give our oldest daughters kisses without touching any other part of them, at the same time that they were bathing the dog in hydrogen peroxide/baking soda mixture and tomato juice. 

I was able to get a quick hug from one non-skunked little one

and then we rushed away feeling very unsettled and guilty for leaving our daughters to deal with such a stinky mess!

We did witness a beautiful sunrise that suggested the hope that things could get better

We left our area of northern California

And, headed for San Francisco! 

Which is where we are now....and I am blogging to help pass the time while we wait for our flight.  Next stop.....LONDON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mary and Emily...we love and appreciate you and know that we OWE you one!!!!!

January 27, 2012

Days 3 and 2!!!! Almost ready!!!!

Sorry about no update yesterday...I intended to blog just before bed but once I settled in, it was game over!  The good news is that our adoption agency had said that it was common to not sleep for three days before you leave....so I am thankful to still be able to sleep!

Yesterday, I was packing and packing some more. I have packed so many things for the twins like play doh, glow sticks, window markers, bubbles, face paint/makeup, dress-up, sippy cups that can be used while the twins are being held to help simulate the baby stage and thus help with bonding, and of course some new cute coordinating clothes.  (just in case you were thinking this doesn't look too promising...I plan to take the playdoh out of the cans and I will repack the suitcase...just wanted to localize the items and get a weight)

I've also packed some gifts for those that assist with the adoption as well as various medicines, hand sanitizer, emergency toilet paper, and a first aid kit. 

Hmmm, what is missing?  I haven't found anything for myself yet!  Whoops!  It's just that it is not very fun or exciting....but I guess I might want to look decent for court....

I have spent most of today on the road and shuttling childen to and  from classes so I am afraid I have gotten much less done than I was hoping.  But, I did find some beautiful gift bags for the presents.  I still have many errands left to do and I have homeschool records to turn in to their teacher before we leave.

I have ONE day left....tomorrow is my last chance to get anything done because we leave *early* Sunday morning!  Right now, I feel good about it....tomorrow I will probably be singing a different tune.  Actually, if I am singing at all, I will know that either I am in really good shape or I have completely lost it! :/

Please be praying for us as we make our last preparations and know that I am still so extremely thankful for all of your support....we couldn't have gotten this far without so many of you helping us! :-) 

Oh, one other thing you might pray for....as you know, we are Californians and the first day that we arrive in the twin's country is supposed to have a low of -1 degrees!  I am shivering just thinking about it.....and, no one is allowed to make fun of us! ;-)  I promise to try to have a good attitude about it.....

January 25, 2012

Day 4-Fully funded!!!!!!!!

It is crunch time and I am feeling it!!!  But, we have some truly and completely wonderful news!!!!  We are fully funded for this first trip!

We had an anonymous donor who donated $2000!!!!!  I am so incredibly thankful....where are the words!?!  It is almost so wonderful that I just couldn't believe it when I held it in my hands....I sincerely hope that our donor reads this blog and can hear the love and appreciation in my words!  I want them to know that I will do the same in return for someone else....that I have truly learned about generosity and what it means when it is so needed!    I hope that they know how much two little blondie four year olds appreciate it....even though they have absolutely no concept yet of what they are gaining. 

Little do they know what happened today to make their dream of a family come true.  But, even though they may not know yet what it will mean for them....God knows, and He has made sure that my dream is turning into reality. 

I am so thankful to our donor today....and I am so thankful to all of our donors.  To everyone that has expressed concern and asked for a way to help.  I am thankful for my family and for my church family that brought us the 12 days of Christmas.... and our larger church family in the greater area who gathered around to help us with the yard sale and restaurant fundraisers.  I am thankful for my friends who have sometimes nearly carried me over the hard points. I am thankful for all those that have never met us but have learned about us through the internet and reached out with donations and kind words of support and encouragement.

Most of all.....thank you Heavenly Father for answering our prayers and the prayers of our twins!

Time to sleep....and then to pack!!!! :-)


January 24, 2012

Day 5-$1000 up for grabs in giveaway!!!!!

It is day five and I am packing and planning...and very hopeful!  We are still shy of our goal but we are truly getting so close!  Our concern as a family is that if we don't reach our goal we go into debt....and then when we come home we face the potential for medical bills and medicine that is above what our insurance will cover...and we still have two more trips yet to go!  Yes, it is a bit scary....and, no, logic and sound financial advice would not support it.  But, Heavenly Father is teaching us all about faith right now.

I'm admittedly a slow learner and there must be times that God has His palm to his forehead in watching me! (just read my blog and you will know!)   But, I really am feeling hopeful today because there are people out there that are responding to His call and to the plight of children that so completely need families!

Why do I say this?  Because, Adeye has now extended the giveaway for our family and 19 others!!!  The giveaway will not end until 2/1/12 and she has now *added* two more gift cards!!!! 

So, she now has two $250 Walmart gift cards and a third $200 Walmart gift card.....AND

 a $250 Visa card that you could use anywhere!

So there is nearly $1000 that she is offering in order to help twenty different families to fundraise...all of us are families that are *urgently* needing the help! 

Please go to Adeye's blog for more details on how to enter!  We are family #2 listed with the twin clothing that is waiting to be put on actual children! :-)

I am so incredibly thankful to Adeye for her work and efforts to help all of God's children and hope to be able to do the same when we are back in a position to do so. 

In closing, I actually wanted to tell someone else how thankful we are!  My daughter Lauren is away at college right now in Hawaii and she just sent us a care package/belated Christmas package....

What a treat it was to receive.... and it came at a perfect time since life is so hectic now and it is difficult to focus and take a deep breath.

She is a poor college student and had to use resources more than money to get us gifts....many of the items she found on her free giveaway table in her dorm...like this dress she found for Mary:

And this dress for Emily:

She got a purse for Eleanor:

A zebra shirt and purse for Amelia:

A movie of a Hawaiian dance performance for Maria:

And, a whirlygig for Robertson!

Each person received their own note full of love, kind words, and funny drawings:

Lauren is an art/graphic design major....we have no clue where her artistic talent came from!

Each present was also cleverly wrapped in bright Hawaian print fabric with little knots running down the center:

What a treat it was for her siblings to unwrap....it also helped mom because it took some doing and kept them quiet with concentrated effort for quite some time!

Oh, and did I mention the VERY best part?!?


She sent me my favorite cookies from Hawaiian Cookie Company! 

She also wrote me a two page note and I just have to share a couple of lines.  It helps to bolster my confidence that I really can parent *twins*! :-)

Here are just a few select lines that I will always cherish:
"I want to tell you how much I appreciate your example, advice, and the way you raised me...You were the one who got me to leave my comfort zone and encouraged me to push ahead and do and participate in new things.....I miss you so much.  I miss our long conversations in the car, on your bed, even when you were in the shower! ha ha ha  I love you so much and I am so grateful for all you have done for me."

Ah, there are blissful moments of parenting....this is a promise to those of you who are currently running after small children and wondering....

The only present left is her Dad's but he is traveling in the few days we have left to finish up with the hiring process for a southern California police dept. 

Yes, we are swamped.....yes, we are stressed.......and YES we are *blessed*!  Thank you Lauren....we miss you!!!!

January 23, 2012

6 days until we travel!!!-The winner of the Ipad 2 is......

I have a winner for the Ipad 2!!!!  First, I wanted to mention that Adeye's blog is extending the giveaway of two $250 gift cards to Walmart.  And, she is preparing to announce an addition to that giveaway...we are listed as one of the possible families to donate to so....stay tuned!  What an absolute blessing she and her readers have been to our adoption! 

On to the announcement.....

We submitted all of the names that have donated/prayed/linked and used a random tool from the internet and we have a winner of our Ipad 2!

Drumroll please!!!!!!!!!
The winner is.....Katie Evans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  There is a wonderful story to this winner but I will wait to see if I have permission to blog about it before I divulge! :-)  It is a great and sweet story!  To be continued.....

Day 7-A calm peace is setting in....

*Don't forget that our drawing for the Ipad 2 is tonight at 9pm.  Hurry and get your donations in before the deadline for a chance to win!!!  Just click on the donate button to the right and you are automatically entered! Remember that you can also enter by posting on FB, your blog, or sending me an email to let me know that you have included our family in your prayers.  I absolutely will welcome any and all help as we are racing to get to our goal!  You can also still win the Walmart gift certificates valuing $500 until Wednesday...just scroll down to my last post to learn more!!

So, on to today's update and status.....

I would never believe it to be possible but I am truly beginning to feel peaceful with the awareness that we are doing all that we need to do and that it will all come together.  

We were able to send a package to the twins for Christmas and it just now got to them because it needed to be sent through the attorney and then sent on to them.  It should have been disappointing to me that it took so long but I was actually amazed at the wonderful timing.  After all, the twins are only four years old and it is perfect timing in terms of their memories to have gotten the gifts and yummy treats only a week before we will meet them. 

We also were able to see pics that they received them....it was amazing to actually see the things that we carefully picked out and lovingly wrapped and sent, to be in their hands.  I know it may sound strange but it makes it all so much more real.

We've also spent a lot of time praying and praying some more.  I felt prompted to read 1 Corinthians and found a verse that really stood out to us:

Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ.

I really am finally feeling that we are doing exactly as Heavenly Father wants us to do and that we are right on track.  And, that feels so extremely good! 

Looks like I am posting this so late at night that I will be posting again today....with the results of our Ipad 2 contest...get in on it while you still can! :-)

January 21, 2012

Days 9 & 8-A day late and some dollars short, lol!

I'm behind again but I know why!  We had a lot of upheaval yesterday as life continues to march forward independent of the adoption process. 

We got a call late in the night from my daughter in Hawaii the night before last.  Those late night phone calls start the heart racing before you can even pick up the phone!  She is okay but it raises further health concerns and I, for one, would love to have her move back closer to home.  Of course, if I were to admit my bias...no matter what, I would love to have her move back closer to home! 

And, of course, after a lot of waiting...my husband is being called by several agencies to finish up the last stages of the hiring process for police officer.  This entails travel, (*expense*) and a lot of stress on our family right now when we are so close to leaving.  But, don't take this as complaining....I promise that I will fall on my knees in thankful prayer and sobbing when he gets a job!  It is truly hard to have a home business in this economy and even harder when health insurance rates cost the amount of another mortgage payment.  Oh, and even harder when you are trying to follow God's promptings and complete a *very* expensive adoption at the same time!

But, I know that Heavenly Father is with us and I see His hand so clearly in what is happening lately....nearly every day, I see and feel his love and help.  It might not be the way that I want it....like money dropping from the sky,  the phone ringing off the hook with job offers, and an immediate happy ending, lol....but, He is here....there is no denying it!  And, God knows that there would be no growth without the struggle....and I actually am truly thankful for that.  Our entire family has grown in appreciation of the very smallest of things.  And, I know that we will have much more compassion for those who struggle....because we have felt it and it is now very real to us.

So, the plan is to get some more ebay listings up today as it really is the last day that I can have the time still to get the items shipped out before we leave.  And, I'm trying again to sell our industrial upholstery sewing machine...it is a small market and a big expense so it is a little tougher to sell. 

But, the money has been ordered from the bank (the twin's country requires clean bills or it costs more for the exchange due to their fears of counterfeit) and we will figure out a way to have this amount by Friday so we can leave the Sunday after next.  It just has to work....

OH!  I almost forgot...the Ipad 2 drawing is to be held in two days!!!!!!  Would it be possible for any of you to repost on your blog or on Facebook and encourage a few more folks to donate, link, or pray for us?  The $500 gift cards for Walmart are still up for grabs at Adeye's blog as well...just head over to her blog after donating here and she will enter you.  Thanks everyone! :-)

January 19, 2012

The 10 day countdown starts!

I wish I could say that we were focused on getting packed and prepared and ready.  I am, somewhat thinking about those things but certainly not able to focus yet....

We are still trying to fundraise at the last little bit here...and I have thought of another way that any of you that might be willing to help could consider.  I do auctions on ebay fairly regularly as it is another part of our business and how we keep afloat.  I am going to do some marathon ebaying over the next few days which will likely mean no sleep for awhile.

I think I can do it as I don't typically need that much sleep....and, well, I can sleep a really long time when we get on the plane, right?!?  ;-)

So, if any of you might be willing to check out our various auctions, I would be so thankful!  There won't be as much up now as there will be by tomorrow so be sure to check in as I "power list".   You will also likely note that the items I am listing are truly varied and some are downright strange.  These are mostly not things from our household but items that were donated to us for the yard sale or items that I have picked up from thrift stores and estate sales over the years that I knew would sell...even if they are strange! ;-)

Go to ebay and then click on this link which should take you to my specific listings.  Also, if you want to find me again,  look for the search box on ebay and then find the "advanced" search tabs and put in under seller: walnutgrovetraditions and you should find us. 

The drawings for the two Walmart gift cards totalling $500 will be held next Wednesday at Adeye's blog and our Ipad 2 contest is scheduled for Monday the 23rd.  I will also consider a bid on our ebay items as a way to enter the contest...(also remembering that we will allow you to enter our contest other non-monetary ways-see the blog post below)

Please consider helping...we really do need the help or I promise that I wouldn't ask, and we appreciate it more than words can possibly express (although I will certainly be trying! :-)  Sending love and appreciation to all of you who are sharing our journey!

January 18, 2012

Day 11-A day of uplifting hope

Today was a good day...no particular reason except that I visited with a good friend who helped remind me of the priorities and that money is just money....family is forever!  She reminded me to look at the big picture every time that the adversary was trying to plant seeds of worry and doubt. 

Then, I went to my mailbox and found the kindest letter there with a $50 donation.  I won't disclose her identity or all of the letter but I just found her words to be so true and righteous.  She said:
 "We have to be the hands on this earth to do the Lord's work, and take care of each other.  You are going the extra mile by giving two of God's little ones a home and love, and be taught His gospel." 

I also got an email from someone who did an online donation who wrote:
"I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed your blog and getting to read about your journey. My husband and I are going into the foster care system hoping to adopt so it is a bit of an education for us reading about what others are going through. I am praying that everything comes together for you guys quickly......your story touched my heart and the faith in which you are standing on is a testament to your faith and love for God."
If any of you ever wonder if your words mean something to those you attempt to uplift.....know that often it is much more far reaching than you ever know.  I can't speak for all adoptive families but I can speak for us and some days it means *everything*....thanks to so many of you who have nearly carried me through the harder days.....

Tomorrow starts the official 10 day countdown....Lord, please steady my legs!

** The giveaway on Adeye's blog is still going until next week...if you donate $20 or more to our adoption you will be entered to win our Ipad 2 as well as two gift certificates to Walmart totalling $500! Be sure to go back to Adeye's blog and follow her instructions to enter(Remember that you can also enter just our contest without any monetary expense if you just can't afford to, by linking, posting, or prayer for our family)...Sending love and thanks! :-)

January 17, 2012

12 days to go-officially overwhelmed!

Those of you that have come from Adeye's blog, know that she has now added yet another $250 Walmart card to the giveaway (and those that didn't can visit her link and be a part as well!)  So, an Ipad 2 and $500 worth of Walmart gift cards are up for rewards for doing something so kind and wonderful as to help bring children home to forever families..... it doesn't get any better than that!

So, my day today...have you ever had those nightmares where you are running and running but you can't ever seem to get anywhere?  That describes exactly how my day went today!  It is so frustrating especially because time seems to be slipping through our fingers!

So, we are definitely getting closer to our goal day by day....we were able to raise approx $100 from our restaurant fundraiser at Costa Vida.  And, we had $260 come in today from donations!!!  THANK YOU to all of you who are helping us...and that number is many!  Please know while we are trying to get our head above water and attempting to thank everyone personally that we are so completely appreciative for the help! 

I am attempting to reach the folks that were potentially offering the grant and to try to see if there is anything we can do.  I will admit, I have had moments today of feeling frustrated and that my efforts were pointless. 

When we did our scripture reading tonight, the story of Peter in Luke chapter 5 was what we read about....coincidence?  I think not.  God knew what I needed to hear. 

You see, Peter was told to let down his nets in order to catch more fish and his first response was "Master we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing."  Then he responds with "Nevertheless at thy word, I will let down the net"  And, there were so many fish that the net broke!  The point being that sometimes you just have to listen to God's promptings and continue to try and try and try again. 

That is exactly what we will do...until our bottoms are firmly placed upon the airplane seat! :-)

January 16, 2012

Day 13-Roller Coaster Ride downturn-no grant?

Today has been a roller coaster ride starting with the answered prayer of having our blog posted on Adeye's great blog with 19 other families who need help with the last minute expenses of their adoption.  And, we received $60 in donations today! :-)  We are extremely grateful and happy to have a few more participants in our Ipad 2 giveaway.

Then, we found out that the grant we were up for this month, and that we truly and completely need...that gives priority to those who are traveling soon...decided to postpone our review until February.  And, unfortunately, that will be too late.   I have gone through every emotion today but I am determined to not get too discouraged.  I know that somehow there will be a way....I will keep on working and praying.....

An answer to prayers!!!!!!!!!!!

<Quick Edit:  I also wanted to add that our Ipad 2 drawing is next week!!!  Adeye has additionally offered an entry to win a $250 Walmart gift card with a donation of $20.  Please consider helping us, we are so grateful for every donation!>

I am so excited that I can hardly type this post!!!!  I have been praying and praying that we could find the last bit of help that we need to at least make this first trip.  And, we are working and working as hard as we can to make it happen....but we are still short and time is running out. 

But, this time, instead of feeling like Charlie Brown and worrying...I have continued to pray and work, pray and work and I have just known and finally had the faith that God was going to answer our prayers and not leave the twins waiting......

This morning after more prayers and asking for guidance on the week that lay before me, I had the full knowledge that we had to fundraise the rest of the funds this week in order to obtain the cash and prepare for our travel......I was prompted to go to FB at nearly the exact moment that Adeye had posted on her very popular blog about her willingness to help adoptive families that were in dire need of raising the last bit of funds. 

My heart raced out of my chest as I raced to her blog so that I could add our family!!!!

I am in tears with gratitude for our amazing God who answers prayers and loves us all and helps the little children that are so in need of the love of family!!!!!

I am so thankful for Christ's example of love for children and knowing how to follow Him!

January 15, 2012

14 Days=Two weeks to go!

Two weeks....two weeks can fly by on the ho hum days in our family....but life for us right now is anything but boring. 

The yard sale was a success!  We made just under $500 and felt the love and support of so many people.  We haven't heard yet about the Costa Vida fundraiser but I know many who went and enjoyed a great meal while giving their support to our family.

 I am so appreciative....I have discovered that we just don't have enough different vocabulary words to say thank you in English.  I wish there was a word to truly describe deep appreciation.  The kind of appreciation that makes you cry and feel guilty for the over-abundance that you have received.  My husband and I have both felt that exact emotion....we've had several thankful moments that rendered us speechless and just staring at each other with teary emotion.   

I started yesterday at 2am.  I was paranoid that I wouldn't wake up early enough to get everything set out for the early birds.  Some of you may not realize that there are die hard garage salers that are out when the sun is barely beginning to go up and the frost is still on the grass.

 I knew that we needed to be available for every possible sale.  I knew by this point that this adoption was going to come down to every single penny.

I wish I had taken pictures of when we were first up and running around like crazy, but..... we were running around like crazy!  So, here are some pics after we got up and running and had a chance to breathe. 

We had some yummy snacks for a bake sale as well.  Grocery Outlet in Yuba City was kind enough to donate the ingredients!

It was a long day and a lot of work but everyone was still mostly smiling.....

My older girls also went and offered flyers to folks in the nearby shopping areas for the Costa Vida fundraiser.  They found that many of the people they approached wouldn't even let them begin to speak before sending them away.  I'm afraid that I have been guilty of this and felt yet another pang of regret as they spoke about their frustration and hurt feelings. 

We ended yesterday late... in the dark and cold once again as we put all of the items back in the boxes.  There was so much leftover!  We really didn't plan to do another sale but we may do one once we are home and life settles in a bit.

I wish I could say that we could just focus on packing and getting everything in order for our trip.  But, next week will be full with doing ebay listings and anything else we can think of....Robert has rare blood so we were considering a plasma donation, lol!  Then, we will know that we have really expended blood, sweat, and tears!

We will absolutely make this work, and anyone who knows me knows that I am stubborn....thanks to all of you who supported us and offered your prayers!   

January 13, 2012

Lions, and tigers, and 16 days to go, oh my!

The first thing I have to point out is...look at the thermometer!!!  It is starting to climb!  I am extremely grateful........

I started to blog today and realized that I actually wasn't sure how much time we had left....it has been that busy around our house.  And, then the realization of only 16 days......Crikey!

It is game time....and nearly non-stop at our house right now!

It is to the point that every hour that I am able to sleep, I appreciate beyond measure.  I think God has proven his point to me when I made the mistake of saying that I disliked having to sleep and thought of it as a necessary evil.  I truly enjoy a lot of activity and thrive on spontaneity and at least having the illusion that I am being productive.  So, I have wished in the past that I didn't need to sleep and could just continue buzzing around.   But, I now know to appreciate and relish every wonderful minute that I can just lay in bed and have a quiet house and a quiet mind. 

So, anyway,  back to buzzing!  Today is the day before our two fundraisers.  They are the last and final local fundraisers before we travel.

The Yuba City Costa Vida fundraiser is ALL day and all you have to do is bring in a flyer that
looks like this:
I suppose if you can figure out how to copy/paste from the blog you could just use this one but if you need to please email me at rcwalker@succeed.net and I will attach it.

The yard sale will also be ALL day at my parents house in Yuba City.  The yard sale we did last month ended with my husband still outside talking to people in the *dark*! :-) 

We have SO MUCH STUFF!!!!! Many families have donated and we are very appreciative!  We would still welcome anything else someone wanted to offer.   Please consider stopping by if you are in the area because there will likely be something that you just can't live without! LOL!  Please email me for the address if you need it....

I think that will have to be it for now....I will post some pics of all the "fun" and craziness tomorrow!

OH, I almost forgot to mention, if you are far away from all of this merriment, please consider joining our Ipad2 giveaway.  Scroll down to my prior posts and you will learn all about it! :-)

January 10, 2012

Oh no! 19 days to travel!

Well, so much for posting each day!  I *really* want a record of all our preparations and plans for travel because I know I will forget a lot about this experience if I don't write it down.  But, it is extremely hard to fit in the time....especially since I feel like I have so many things to do and the preparation for the trip is taking a back seat to trying to come up with the rest of the funds. :-(

We've had some good experiences with the garage sale preparation.  We have been going through my grandmother's boxes to help my parents to clean out their storage shed and hopefully to find some things to sell at our yard sale this weekend.  Look what we found:

The youngest children have never seen records or a record player before!

It was really fun!  And despite my big huge mess in the living room....

I am trying to enjoy the process and journey and I am working really hard to find silver linings wherever there are clouds and worry. 

If I were to be honest, this is really what I want to do:

Cookie sharing his cousin Rosie's bed while she visited for a few days

 I'm exhausted!  I have a feeling my next chance for sleep will be as we are flying to London on the 29th!  Then, I realized that I will probably be too panicked even then.....

I wanted to mention to anyone who is new to the blog or anyone who has been considering helping us .....that we are holding the Ipad 2 drawing on the 23rd.

 I really hope you might consider helping.  The odds are great to win because we just weren't very successful with this giveaway :(.  I  promise that you will be a winner either way...you will either get a great new toy or you will have the satisfaction of being a part of our story....a part of knowing that you helped bring two very deserving twins into the arms of their loving family.   I truly feel that way with every donation.  I feel a sense of comaraderie and a sense of knowing that we are not alone.  Which is ultimately Heavenly Father's message...isn't it.

Oh, I forgot to mention the cheerleader...our new fundraising thermometer.  I chose her because we are at the final countdown and there is just soooo much to do and no time and well....I just need her....lol!  If any of you want to start shaking some pom poms and chanting "Go get the twins! Go get the twins!" whenever you see me lose my motivation, I would be most grateful! :-)

January 7, 2012

Bathtub fun on Day 22

I am so excited!  Someone voted for me on the Top Mommy Blogs and we are now showing up on their page.  Which means more visitors and a possibility that we will have some more participants in our Ipad 2 giveaway which will occur in approx two weeks!  Please, pretty please, click on the Top Mommy Blog picture at the bottom of my blog to vote for us! :-)

Today was mostly spent in trying to get the word out about our two fundraisers on the 14th.  We will have a restaurant fundraiser at Costa Vida. They have graciously offered us the entire day to fundraise and will give us 20% of the proceeds *if* you bring in a flyer so please email me at rcwalker@succeed.net to get your flyer! I would be so thrilled if anyone reading this blog knows other folks in Yuba City and would help us to spread the word.

Also, we are having the yard sale on the same day....yes, it will be a long day!  We will be splitting up and after the initial yard sale set up we will have half of the family go and put out flyers in the Walmart parking lot and half (or maybe just my poor husband) stay to man the yard sale.  He enjoys working the crowd and finding things they can't live without....and all the little old ladies love him!  He has always been that way since I've known him at age 18. :-)

So, I ended up the day still in pajamas...yuck!  I decided it was time to head for the tub and a warm soak....my two year old thought that I needed company and said that *she* needed to relax!  Even though in the beginning I might have preferred some solitude, I ended up being so thankful that she had such a good idea! 

We soaked up the marvelous heat and sang made up songs about walking frogs and where we could go.  Then, Eleanor decided that she needed to wash her face and put thick layer of soap from the middle of her chin straight up in a line that went up and over her nose. 

She announced that she was going to wash it off which I thought was a great idea until she reached over the razor and began to shave off her lips!  One loud shout later, she decided that probably wasn't what she wanted to do after all. 

Then she leaned in close and very seriously stared me in the eye.  She said "Mommy, *don't* stare at my ears!!!!!!!  They are stinky!!"

She is such a funny little character and I'm so thankful for our relaxing bath....it was just what I needed tonight.

January 6, 2012

23 days to go!

This is going to be a brief check in because once again I am blogging at night and feeling a bit more than exhausted. 

I did want to announce that I am finished with the flyer for our Costa Vida fundraiser and would love to send it to all of you that are local in the greater Yuba City area.  Just send me an email over to rcwalker@succeed.net and I will try to get it to you as soon as I can.  The fundraiser is the 14th and is all day!  I am amazed at how generous they are being with the time as well as the 20% of the proceeds.  Please keep supporting this great restaurant!

We are also still taking donations of garage sale items so please let me know if you have anything.

I'm continuing to feel extremely grateful and hopeful....I want this feeling to last and last...lol!  I just know that I am on the roller coaster ride that makes up international adoption.  So, there is always some dips but for now it feels good to feel good! 

January 5, 2012

We have our apartment! Day 24...

It is Day 24 and I am absolutely exhausted.  I stayed up all night last night so that I could correspond and make plans for the apartment we will stay in during out trip to get the twins.  I needed it to be during their business hours which just happen to be (unfortunately) during my sleep hours.  By the morning, I was so close but still no apartment, and just as I was dreading another night without sleep the final answer was given and I was ready to commit.    I wish I could post pics but they are labeled so it will have to wait until we are in country.  It looks truly beautiful and very relaxed/comfy. 

I have received several requests for flyers for the Costa Vida fundraiser in Yuba City on the 14th ( ALL day!)  I will work on them first thing tomorrow.  I just can't do it tonight.  I didn't sleep at all other than the occasional 10 minute doze and jerk awake to refresh the email.   Then, I started the day at 5am to teach seminary for the youth at my church, drove an hour to volunteer, and took one of my children to the doctor.  Whew!  It is time for bed for me.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

January 4, 2012

Pardon the dust! Day 25 on the countdown...

Notice!  If you do not want the update for today...at least view the video at the bottom, it will be worth it!

So, today I decided to clean house so to speak on the blog.  I just felt that since we would be meeting the twins soon, I couldn't handle having the background be a drab brown anymore. 

I don't have the kinks worked out yet but I will keep working on it...it does look and feel a bit more cheery, but perhaps not quite right yet. 

Oh, I also need to explain what we decided to do in terms of the money we have yet to fundraise.  I had prior put that we just needed to pay for our plane tickets....well, we still need that same amount but I had to use the money to order the plane tickets.  The cost of the plane tickets would likely go up if we waited whereas the other amounts will stay the same.  So now we have the issue once again of having the appropriate amount of clean cash in time for travel to pay for all of the expenses such as the attorney fees, passports, lodging and food etc.

We also are praying daily that we will receive some assistance via a grant.....I had no idea when filling out the paperwork for various grants months ago that it would truly come down to every dollar and how much we would need them.

  I also know that fundraising is going to be soooo much harder once the twins are home.  We are in an unusual situation in which we will be hosting them at home but the adoption will not be finalized until after the third trip.  Thankfully, the next two trips will be much less costly as they will be very short and the second trip only requires one parent to travel.  The third trip will require the one parent and the twins to travel.

There are pros and cons with this unusual situation for an international adoption.  Definitely the pros outweigh the cons....the bottom line is that once we meet them and fall even more in love with them and begin to make true bonds, we will not have to leave them behind as so many international adoptive parents must do.  I feel quite blessed and deeply appreciative.

So tonight I am feeling appreciative and thankful.  Partly because I listened to the following song that someone posted on Facebook.  It is a song that is sung by the young children at our church and this rendition really touched me....and though it is simple, it is motivating me to do better.  And, helping me to be aware that I *need* to do better because though I often think that I am "trying to be like Jesus"....I often fall short of what this song describes.  Here is David Archuleta singing, "I'm trying to be like Jesus" (please don't let the still shots distract you in the middle of the video...it only lasts a short time.)

Here are the lyrics:
 I’m trying to be like Jesus;
I’m following in his ways.
I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,

2. I’m trying to love my neighbor;
I’m learning to serve my friends.
I watch for the day of gladness when Jesus will come again.
I try to remember the lessons he taught.
Then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.”

Hoping that all of you feel my love and appreciation for you...Til tomorrow my friends.....

January 3, 2012

Starting the countdown! 26 days!

I was hoping to blog each day until we leave as a final countdown but here we are three days into the month already!  ACK! 

So, today marks 26 days to go and yes, I am feeling a bit scared and nervous.  The weird thing is, when we started this adoption, I would look at the beautiful pictures of the area where we are traveling and I would get so excited to imagine going there.  Now, every time I see a picture...I pause and think....oh my gosh, I am actually going there!

Today's activities are many but the main focus other than selling our industrial sewing machine (anyone need an Adler upholstery sewing machine?) is that we need to find an apartment to stay in while we are there.  Which, in turn got me really looking at a map and led me to start looking for fun things to do with the twins while we are there.  Hmmm, staying focused....fail!

But, I did find one apartment I really liked that was close to everything and walking distance....well it would be walking distance in California.  My husband pointed out that walking distance in the snow and freezing cold might be a bit different.  So, we'll wait and see once everyone is back in their office at midnight our time but morning their time. 
This is the living room...isn't it cheerful and pretty?  Of course we also have to find out how the costs compare......
Robert is also inquiring at the bank to find out about how far ahead we will have to order the clean bills to take with us.  I guess that the banks in foreign countries will charge more to exchange used and dirty money.  

On the fundraising forefront we are having another yard sale and a restaurant fundraiser on January 14th.  Yes, both on the same day.  We are just truly running out of time.   If you are in the Yuba City area, please email me and we will send you a flyer...as long as you have the flyer,  the owners have been generous enough to offer us 20% of the proceeds all day long! 

We are also continuing the Ipad 2 drawing and will be holding the drawing on the 23rd as promised.  And, I promised that I would tell you the odds of winning.....this is not exact since there will hopefully be more donations between now and the 23rd but as it stands you have a 1 in 36 chance of winning an Ipad 2 for a very sweet after Christmas gift! ;-)  Those are some great odds!!! 

So, let me recap the rules:
You may enter in several different ways....
1. Donate via the button to the right of the blog-no amount is too small...it truly does all add up and matter!
2. Go get some wonderful Mexican food at Costa Vida in Yuba City on 2/14 (*with* a flyer) and then email me to tell me that you went
3. Share our blog via Facebook or post on your blog and then let me know
4. Pray for our family-we welcome and truly appreciate all prayers because we know more than ever that we need them! 

I have thought a lot over this last year, about the blood, sweat, and tears it has taken to try to bring home the twins.  I remember from the very beginning hearing that a family should not choose not to adopt because of the extreme costs associated with adoption.

 It is said that the money will come....Heavenly Father will see to it that the children will make it home if it is His will.

 I have to admit that there have been many times when I have wondered about this and questioned our ability (not God's) to make this happen.  I read about so many adoptive families and the miracles that came about to help them succeed.  I would feel twinges of jealousy and worry.  Yes, I know, two things that are not of Christ. 

And, I am here to say that I *have* seen many miracles working within our adoption to see that we didn't lose hope and that we would indeed be able to make it.

So, then I would wonder....if God wants the children to be in families and He knows that He can make it happen....why doesn't the money just come in one big lump sum and fall into the adoptive family's lap?    An anonymous donation in the mail perhaps?

Well, I think it is probably a very complicated and multi-faceted answer but one reason that I know without a shadow of a doubt is that fundraising forces a family to crawl out of their shell, to require themselves to be vulnerable, and to sincerely, passionately, and loudly get the word out....as widespread as possible.  And, what does that do?  It helps other children to find families at the same time that it helps them. 

How huge is that?!?  That is *precisely* how we are here today.  I saw an ad in Craigslist about a family that was doing a fundraiser yard sale because they were adopting a child with special medical needs.  The fact that they already had a good sized family of three or four children made me turn my head in surprise...enough surprise and curiousity that I wanted to learn more.....certainly not to planning to adopt!  A few years later, here we are! 

So, I'm working hard to no longer be cautious or afraid to fundraise or get the word out because it is so important....yes, important for us and for the twins....but also important for all of the other children who so desperately want what so many of us take for granted.  Family, is essential....no institution will ever come close to providing what a family can.  

Here is the latest little sweet child that came through an email today:

This is Hope....

Her name and her sad face seem to contradict each other.  You can find more information about her by visiting Positively Orphaned listed below.  Please consider helping us with our adoption and consider other ways that you might contribute to other children...whether you are considering opening your home or whether you might sponsor a child to make it easier for them to find their forever families....Check out these websites:
Positively Orphaned
Project Hopeful
Reece's Rainbow

Til tomorrow.....