easter and birthday celebrations

Well, April’s almost gone. I know I’m not the only one who wonders where the weeks and months go. Anyhoo, amidst the daily activities I’ve found it hard to find time to post as things are happening. Here are a few of our recent highlights.

Three of the five of us have birthdays within a three week period. First Little Man, then me, and just four days later Baby Boy’s birthday. We have had so much cake and so many sweets between birthday celebrations at home, at our parents’ houses, Easter candy and friends’ parties that I feel like I’m busting at the seams. Somebody help, we’re on sugar overload!

Egg hunt time. Papa, Little Man, Baby Boy, Easter Bunny and Middle Man

Egg hunt time. Papa, Little Man, Baby Boy, Easter Bunny and Middle Man

"Look at our loot!"

“Look at our loot!”

At Nanny and Papa's. The two birthday people.

At Nanny and Papa’s. The two birthday people.

Mommy's birthday

Mommy’s birthday

 

Baby Boy had his party with friends and cousins at a bounce house place in town. He was given a crown and the party pros that work there told him he was King. Baby Boy gladly took on this role and had no problem exercising his authority during party room time :). In his sweet way, of course! All three of our boys have now had their Kindergarten birthdays at this place. They feel so special celebrating here and have a blast going from bouncer to bouncer, and can invite all their friends. Our kids don’t get a “big” party like this every year, so I hope they’ll each remember their parties at this place and have that shared memory of turning six.

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hamming it up on his throne

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The morning after his party, Baby Boy is wearing his crown again 🙂 Opening our presents on his real birthday.

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yummy brunch

 

 

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April 24, 2014 · 9:30 am

happy easter

Hope you’ve had a wonderful long weekend and a very Happy Easter! We had a fun, busy, weekend and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Perfect for celebrating birthdays and having egg hunts!

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our angels getting ready for an easter egg hunt at Grandma and Grandpa's

Our angels getting ready for an easter egg hunt at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

enjoying the beautiful day

enjoying the beautiful day

He is not here, he has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’.
Luke 24:6-7

 

 

 

 

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we survived: garage sale 2014

We survived the weekend! Going to bed Thursday night after preparing for our sale all week and even before that, I was excited and energized for our fundraiser. I woke up at 5:30 Friday morning to a strong thunderstorm and tornado warnings on my phone. I immediately turned on the TV and yes, there were tornadoes going through our town. Yikes! Thankfully, the weather calmed pretty quickly and the rain stopped a couple hours later, allowing us to set up for the sale. We got shoppers right away and then it rained some more mid morning, but it wasn’t enough to make us close up shop. Saturday started out cold and ended up beautiful and sunny. Didn’t rain a drop! Our neighbor had a sale, too, so we enticed a lot of shoppers between our two houses.

Middle Man dusting items for the sale

Middle Man dusting items for the sale

My helpers working hard

My helpers working hard

beforehand

beforehand

Baby Boy started the sale with a little mood music :)

Baby Boy started the sale with a little mood music 🙂

Working the Snack Attack Shack

Working the Snack Attack Shack

Customers!

Customers!

A big thank you to my sister, Robert’s mom and my brother who worked tirelessly helping us during the sale. Our boys were real troopers, being patient, and helping us get everything ready on their Spring break. We could not have done it without everyone’s help!! Thank you to everyone who donated items! Every bit added up and we had a successful sale. I don’t have final numbers yet, because we still have a few things on good old Craig’s List.

Robert's mom and my sister

Robert’s mom and my sister

When my sister got to the house to help with the sale, she surprised me with a very special gift, this handmade necklace! 20140407-215419.jpgI was so touched by her thoughtfulness and the unique personalization of my necklace. There, in jewelry form, was my little nest to be. Three blue eggs, one for each of our precious boys, and one pink egg, symbolizing our daughter who will be nestled in our family. If you would like to order a necklace, you can help the artist raise money for her adoption!20140407-214852.jpg

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two more days ’til our sale

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We’ve been working hard on our garage sale preparations and the donations are mounting. If you intended to sort through your stuff and donate, you still have a couple days to do that. Meanwhile, we’ll be getting down and dirty (and I don’t mean in the fun way) :p. I see lots of sorting, dusting and pricing in our future the next few days. No doubt about it, garage sales are a lot of work but we’re hopeful it’ll be worth it!

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Today the boys worked on Rainbow Loom bracelets to sell :). I figured it gave them something to do and also helps them be more involved in the process.
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Our sale is this Friday and Saturday. We’re praying for dry weather! We’d love for you to stop in and say hello. Thank you for your support and generosity. We feel the love!

L

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he’s growing up

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Our firstborn turned double digits. I still have vivid memories of ten years ago when he was born and we first brought him home. A brand new stay at home mom, I remember holding our baby in my arms and greeting Robert at the door after work, the feeling strange, no longer two in our family, but three. We had new life in our home. I remember playing lullaby music and reading to our bundle as he was propped in a boppy on the floor, just days old. Eighteen years seemed far away! Now, he’s closer to grown than he is a baby. Our little man is a pleasure. He’s a good conversationalist. He’s smart. He’s funny. He’s innocent and loving. I ask our boys every so often how I got so lucky to be their mom. I thank God that each one of them was gifted to us.

The boys had off on Monday so we prepared for the birthday party. I saw this cool idea online. Here’s Little Man making Minecraft party favor pins for his friends.imageThen I printed off and made the Minecraft cupcake toppers. The cupcakes turned out really great. The kids and I used my Pampered Chef frosting squirter to make them look all professional and stuff :). I’ve alluded before that I’m no Susie homemaker, so see why I’m proud?imageThe birthday boy wanted his party at the skating rink.

 five months old and suddenly in skates

five months old and suddenly in skates

some of the partygoers

some of the partygoers

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Daddy, Baby Boy and Middle Man

Party room time!

Party room time!

not too cool for Mom and Dad, yet

not too cool for Mom and Dad, yet

Middle Man made this awesome Minecraft mask for his big bro :)

Middle Man made this awesome Minecraft mask for his big bro 🙂

he got a flashing birthday boy pin from the rink so he could be easily spotted on the floor

he got a flashing birthday boy pin from the rink so he could be easily spotted on the floor

Middle Man does the limbo

Middle Man attempts to limbo

And he makes it!

And he makes it!

Birthday Boy trying to get under that stick!

Birthday Boy trying to get under that stick!

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We’re so thankful for people in our lives to celebrate and for the occasions to do so. I hope our first little man looks back and remembers his tenth birthday spent at the skating rink having fun with friends and family!

L

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it’s time

Ok, calling all people who can’t wait to spring clean and purge and those of you who might need something to kick you in gear! -It’s time for another garage sale fundraiser, and we would love your stuff. The sale is going to be April 4 and 5th (at our house).

Please mark your calendars and spread the word on FB, tell your friends, neighbors and families. The more we have to sell the more successful this fundraiser will be! Thanks so much for your help 🙂

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first bit of grant money!

Yesterday was one of those unexpected, much needed, good days. The boys had a snow day. There wasn’t much snow, but there was a lot of ice. So much ice that Robert couldn’t get to work. Big time bonus and first time that’s ever happened!

Then we got a call from an organization we were waiting to hear from. We learned we’ve been awarded our first grant money. It is a $2500 matching grant! I have to sift through the details now and figure out the specifics on how they want the matched money raised and all the particulars, but we are very thankful and excited. I’ll be following up on that later once we figure everything out.

Baby Boy was really wanting to go out in what little snow there was, so we bundled the kids up and Robert took them outside. There was enough snow to scrape together and build a miniature snow man on our picnic table. How cute is he?!

Mini snowman standing all proud and dignified

Mini snowman standing all proud and dignified

We have a natural dip between yards, and when it rains a lot the rainwater accumulates. It had started to freeze and the guys had fun drawing on the icy edge and wading through in their boots.

the four menfolk

the four menfolk

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When they came inside Robert turned on the fireplace and we layed out a couple blankets in the living room. Then I got out their egg salad sandwiches which I had packed for their lunches at school and we had a picnic in front of the fire, complete with hot chocolate. (Hmm, last week we had a day warm enough for shorts at the park, now it’s fire and hot cocoa weather.) While we picnicked we watched some of the many hours of Olympics left on Tivo, which we love to watch as a family. Then Little Man taught us how to play sardine hide-n-seek. One person hides while everyone else counts. Then you split up to search. When you find the hider you hide with them until the last person looking finds everyone. We did some smushing! Smushing under beds, in closets, in corners behind things. I was afraid a curtain was going to get ripped down or a rack in a closet was going to come out of the wall. During all this, for some reason, a reason only a seven year old boy could explain, Middle Man thought it would be a good idea to hide on top of the fridge. What?! Yeah, I was not pleased to see him perched up there like a cat, and of course we had to have a talk about why that is NOT a good idea. Other than that small snafu, sardine hide-n-seek turned out a-ok. Yes, it was a good day. Today, it’s back to the real world.

L

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random past week

We mailed our latest grant application out on Friday, just as we had hoped to do. Whoo hoo, I was so glad to get that out of our hands!

our grant (33 pages)

our grant (33 pages)

ready to mail

ready to mail

The boys finished up basketball season, which means that our Saturdays will no longer be spent court side and two evenings a week will be freed up. We had fun though, and saw the boys grow in their skills as the season progressed. It’ll be fun as they get older, to see what sports they want to pursue (if any) and which way they’re each bent. We see an enthusiasm for music and art, too, so it’ll be fun to see them hone in on and nurture their interests.
Baby Boy after receiving his medal. He's so proud!

Baby Boy after receiving his medal from his first basketball season. He’s so proud!

Middle Man after receiving his medal :)

Middle Man after receiving his medal 🙂

Celebrating with his Papa.

Celebrating with Papa.

Little Man with his medal!

Little Man with his medal!

Biting the medal, just like an Olympian :)

Biting the medal, just like an Olympian 🙂

After church on Sunday we went to a Japanese hibachi grill for lunch. This is a special treat, so the boys were very excited to watch the chef put on his show and cook right in front of us, fireballs, onion volcanoes and all! Look at Middle Man’s expression as he anxiously awaits his steak.

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Silly faces. Someone's trying to eat Mario and Luigi :(

Silly faces. Someone’s trying to eat Mario and Luigi 😦

that's more like it

that’s more like it

using chopsticks

using chopsticks

Happy little guy playing at the park.

Happy little guy playing at the park.

We’ve had some warm days mixed with the cold. A teaser to Spring, which we’re looking forward to!

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update and outing

What a difference a week makes. Thank you for your prayers,– we heard from our agency! They contacted us in response to the voice messages I left them. For some reason they didn’t get the emails I sent. Since hearing from them and opening the lines of communication we’ve gotten several questions answered. As for the UAA law, they believe we’ll be grandfathered in and they’re working quickly to become Hague accredited, too. Unfortunately, nothing is cut and dry and everybody will be stumbling through this new law for a while. Our agency letter needed for the grant is in the mail and we submitted the electronic portion last night. Once we get the letter, we have to mail a packet of supporting documents to the organization. I tell you, some of this stuff is enough to make me wanna cry. Robert has been a great help in filling out the application and without his help there’s no way I could’ve muddled through on my own. Even Robert was having flashbacks of his Masters level accounting class when completing some of the financial forms. Ugh.

On another note, we had a nice Presidents Day! We met my sister and her daughters at the zoo. It was the first warm day in a while so it was great to get out, and the crowds were down because of impending rain.

My sister and our crew in front of the flamingos.

My sister and our crew in front of the flamingos.

The boys and their cousins in the kangaroo exhibit.

The boys and their sweet cousins in the kangaroo exhibit.

After walking around for a while, the bigger kids wanted to go to the zoo’s awesome play area, but Baby Boy wanted to spend time looking at the snakes, bats, fish, lizards, and generally disgusting insects and hairy spiders in this big indoor exhibit. So my sister took Little Man, Middle Man and her two girls to the play area while Baby Boy and I stayed behind. We’ve walked through this building many times before, but I’ve never had such a good time. Really, I’m not kidding, I enjoyed seeing these cute and not so cute animals. It was because I got to see them through my five year olds eyes, just him and me. He was very excited and pointed out each creature behind each pane of glass. We talked about where these animals are found and he told me what he knew about each one. I was impressed at his knowledge as he knew as much, or more, about these animals than I. He really lingered over each animal taking notice of color, size, texture…  Eyes lighting up over and over again, he was thrilled with God’s handiwork 🙂

Checking out the aquarium.

Checking out one of  the aquariums.

One of Baby Boy's favorite animals. The cute seahorses!

One of Baby Boy’s favorite animals. The cute seahorses!

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Universal Accreditation Act

So, we happened upon a 48 Hours special on International Adoption last month. We learned that there was a new adoption law signed in January 2013 that will take effect July 14, 2014. Currently there are Hague accredited countries and agencies, and non-hague countries and agencies. This new law is going to require that all adoption agencies and orphanages be Hague accredited, universally. How can it be that as we began our adoption and were doing all kinds of research, that we never heard about this law that would be going into effect? Taiwan is non-hague, so naturally we were a bit concerned how this could affect us and our process. I contacted our local agency and got the link to this Universal Accreditation Act of 2012, and after reading up on the new law it looks like we’re going to be grandfathered in, per the transition rule. We got our I-171H on July 5, 2013 and the cutoff date for applying (as far as I can tell) is July 13, 2013. Whew, I hope I’m right, and I’m so glad we moved right along during our beginning stages! I contacted our placing agency in Utah several weeks ago, too, to get their take on my interpretation of the law and have not heard anything from them yet. We’re also waiting to get a very specific letter from them for another grant we’re applying for. The deadline for this application period is the end of the month, so as you can imagine, we want to hear from them. We’ve been told that sometimes communication from placing agencies can be slow, but I will feel much better hearing them say that this new law will not pose any problems and that we’re still on track. As far as the new law goes, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s supposed to prevent corruption in the world of adoption, which I’m obviously for. However, someone who I respect and is well versed in adoption said that Hague has hurt, and now will continue to hurt orphans and smaller agencies. It is an expensive accreditation and most of these agencies are non-profit and cannot afford this special license. Once again, more government and more red tape for everyone involved.

This week we threw a baby shower for some close friends or ours who are travelling very soon to bring home their new son from Ukraine. I really enjoyed researching adoption shower ideas and planning something really special for this couple. Knowing they’re so close to making that trip to see their little guy and celebrating with them, makes me long for the day we get our referral and can make our plans to travel! It’s so exciting! Here, our Little Man puts a heart around our special little island off the coast of China. 🙂

Taiwan

Taiwan

Please pray with us that there wouldn’t be any barriers or obstacles to being the forever family for a little girl who needs a loving home and parents. In the meantime we’re going to keep doing whatever we need to do to move forward in our process.

L

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