Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coincidence? I think not!

You know, not 2 hours after posting this, I got a phone call from the state of Illinois. They insisted they could not authenticate my divorce decree since it had not been certified by the circuit court county clerk.

Oh, but it had! I knew exactly where to tell them to look.

This was obviously divine intervention because:
1) On caller ID, it showed up as "No Name." I don't normally answer calls from strangers, so it must have been God that directed me to pick up.
2) I was off work today, and was randomly available to take the call at a time when I am not normally available, even on days I'm not working!
3) I remembered exactly what page to look on and what to look for to prove the certification of the divorce decree. How often can you say that? I can barely remember what page I am on in my current book!
4) Since when does a state worker call to let you know they are very sorry but they will be unable to assist you? That never happens! And not only was this lady so kind as to call, she actually thanked me for explaining what she was overlooking!
5) She gave me a little blessing by saying it would go out FedEx tomorrow:) Yea!

Anyway, so there is another little thing:)

Away in a Manger

As Abigail sings it...

"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.
The little born Jesus lays down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looks down where he lays.
The little born Jesus asleep in the hay."

Isaiah 62:2

"...you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow."
Isaiah 62:2

Do you know, God "gave" me a name for my new daughter before I even knew I would be adopting? I am keeping the name private until I travel, but as this process unfolds, I see more and more how her name is a promise, just like she is!

I will respect her Ethiopian heritage by using at least one of her names as a middle name (she will have at least 2 middle names.)

But God continually reminds me that while HE never changes, the whole process of following Christ is a process of us changing!

I think God likes a little change:) (Or maybe a LOT of change.)

My "Edible" Kid

I took Abigail to the optometrist today for a regular check-up. While there, the nurse was just doing regular things to check Abigail's development. The nurse asked what Abigail's favorite thing to do is.

"Eat out at restaurants."

Later, they were playing a game while the doctor examined Abigail's eyes. "Where should we go on our motorcycle?" the doctor asked.

"To McDonalds!"

Yep. That's my girl. Ish.

Nothing Says Lovin' Like FedEx

I love my FedEx man. Mmm. So nice.

Today he delivered a package to me. When I saw that the return address was my own handwriting, I worried. When I read "State of Washington," I groaned.

"Oh no!" I thought to myself. "I must have mixed up the labels and sent Eryka's reference letter to myself on accident rather than to the State of WA for authentication. I only just sent it on Monday, and I sent it 3 day saver, so it definitely did not have time to get there and back yet!"

But behold. The FedEx man brought me glad tidings of great joy!

The letter had indeed traveled to Olympia, WA and back in those few short days, and it bore upon it the famed golden seal of the State of Washington! And so, I now have 2 of my documents for my dossier authenticated. (Waiting on the docs from Illinois and to take my PA docs down to Harrisburg once my home study gets fixed.)



One of the nicest things about this adoption process so far is that I have had my friends and family say such nice things about me... Eryka wrote a particularly touching letter of reference. So thank you! Thanks also to Doctor John, Josh and Moriah Huff, and my sister, Faith.

"The Most Pointless War"

Here is an interesting article from Newsweek about the rising tensions in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In other news, the first multi-screen movie theater has opened in the capitol of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

And I like Starbuck coffee.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanks for your help!

Thank you to everyone who helped with this project.

I just got my grade back, and disappointingly, I got an 88%. The problem came in when I realized I had a minimum word length, and a story that felt just right about 500 words too short of the minimum. I added more details, but it really messed up the pace of the story. That became clear to my instructor who had this to say:

I think the title is fine, although I'd remove the two (/) forward slashes. Air Life Love is one of those confusing titles that becomes satisfying as the reader finishes the story. Overall, I'm seeing something raw and talented in your writing, but you have some structural issues to sort through. Your voice is strong and your style is good, so this is difficult for me figure out and explain.

What will help structure is a dedicated effort to strip away what feels like an abundant use of "was" in this story. Overuse of passive verbs in general makes for tired reading, but here particularly, "was" becomes repetitious. Even in the first sentence, where it seems to be used deliberately to create a stacatto effect, it doesn't work for me. It does have a Charles Dickens "A Tale of Two Cities" thing going for it though. Make sure you want to start out this way and not with something more like "It was one of those days--the sun bright, the air fresh and the sound of laughter and occasional scream of delight from the kids...." It seems to me that sun equals life, air equals air and laughter and delightful screams equal love...so I'm curious why you didn't write them in the order of the title. Air Life Love equals fresh air, bright sun and laughing kiddies.

You're right about the beginning being slow. Structurally, you have long winding sentences. You do move to short and medium sentences from time to time, but I think you should try some more. Most of your sentences are over 1.5 lines long. Try breaking them down. Intersperse long with short and medium. I think that might help expose your voice and style to the reader more. I can't picture John and I can't picture the protagonist except that she's burning under the sun. I can't see Abigail either. All are important to detail further to define their sympathy to the reader.

Remove excess words. "My stomach grumbled complaints" is not more informative than just "My stomach grumbled". It just becomes wordier in telling the same thing. I've never heard of stomach's grumbling with joy, for example.

The strength in the story comes in the middle of page 3 and 4 with sharp and vivid details, engaging the readers senses beyond the sight of specific visuals, but into sound and tension. "The air was thick with change." "Was" aside, this statement is powerful. The "Is that my kid" echo on page 4 is effective and strong and really builds the tension to carry the reader right to the end. Whether your readers will be satisfied with the end hanging on CPR, with no apparent resolution that Abigail is dead or alive, isn't clear. Personally, I'd like to see the outcome. The breathing in and out still feels like part of the climax to me. Ending on that note seems to have no real closure. But you have plenty of natural talent to nurture in your writing. Whether you give it the time, that's up to you.

Everything he said is true, and they were all faults (and strengths) that I recognized myself (except for the sun/air/laughter that he links to the title at the beginning of the story.) So it is a bummer that I didn't do better. Especially since I did spend quite a bit of time writing and re-working this story. In the end, though, he is probably right. I didn't really give it the time it needed in terms of editing. I would have benefited more from having a total stranger read it (ie-someone who knows nothing about Abigail or John and could give me a fresh look at them and myself as we come across in the story). And the story really could have benefited from a re-working to make it present tense. I knew that before I submitted it, though. (Still angry about the "wordiness." Stupid minimum length!)

Next up- a poetry collection. Again, I think I will be re-working a few pieces from the distant and recent past, and perhaps writing a few that have been fluttering around like Golden Snitches in my mind. (Yes, Eryka, I do think in HP analogies basically all the time.)

*If you are interested in seeing the "final draft" of the story, let me know. It does get good around page 4!

FAQ

Q: How much longer?

A: I don't know.

To be honest, once I submit my papers to the Ethiopian government, pretty much everything is out of my hands. I can guess the approximate time for my referral (3 months from the time of my dossier submission) but after that, everything depends on court dates. And embassy/visa appointments (these determine travel dates.)

So, sorry kids. It could be as soon as April (being optimistic) or well into June.

A Case of the Gimmes

I want this.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pointing Me in the Right Direction

As read on another Ethiopian adoptive parent's blog:

This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'

If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.


Isaiah 58:6-11 (The Message)

Those last two lines are amazing. So full of hope. Because, you see, God has been using my entire life- my sin, my brokenness, my imperfections, my failures, my dreams, my rebellion- to prepare me for this moment. He is going to redeem all of that past to build this new thing.

Wow.

Post-Adoption

Last week, someone at work said I should be on Oprah. She meant that I was so passionate about adoption, Ethiopia, and helping and loving children that I should be on the show to inspire people. She said she admired me. She said she thought I was fearless.

But I do have fears about this process. The adoption process is not just the paper chase and the wait for the referral and traveling to Ethiopia. The adoption process is all of this, but it is so much more. It is the process that makes a child you have never met your child. That makes you, a stranger, into this child's mother. It is the process of becoming a family and creating a history together, while still respecting the individual history of the time before.

And this is one of my fears.

I'll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

Hey friends and family-

Don't know what to get me for Christmas?

Here's an idea. (Purchasing this book benefits orphans, too!) Or try other Ethiopian/adoption books for grown-ups or kids available through Amazon or your local bookstore.

Or do something here.

Or, I got Mandy really nice, comfy pens that had Mandy RN on them for her graduation. I would love something like that.

I would also like a new purse. Maybe something Merlot or maroon?

And one can never go wrong with hat/gloves/scarf set. (Maybe something pink or a nice shade of green?) I like shoes, too, but those can be difficult.

Want to give a practical gift? I shop at Giant, Walmart, Target, and Gap. My car frequently visits BP, Sheetz, and Turkey Hill. I love Starbucks. Gift cards are awesome!



I'll try to update this with more ideas since I can never remember when you call me (sorry, mom.)

Moms are Rocksome!

Thanks to Kellie for this great story...

I was out walking with my 4 year old daughter. She picked up something off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I took the item away from her and I asked her not to do that.

"Why?" my daughter asked.

"Because it's been on the ground, you don't know where it's been, it's dirty, and probably has germs" I replied.

At this point, my daughter looked at me with total admiration and asked, "Momma, how do you know all this stuff, you are so smart."

I was thinking quickly. "All moms know this stuff. It's on the Mom Test. You have to know it, or they don't let you be a Mom." We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but she was
evidently pondering this new information.


"OH...I get it!" she beamed, "So if you don't pass the test you have to be the dad."

''Exactly" I replied back with a big smile on my face.

Thanks

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. "
Colossians 3:12-15

Let me tell you, working Thanksgiving Day and the weekend made following these instructions difficult. But I tried.

The thing about being thankful is this: the more you think about what you are thankful for, the more you have to be thankful for. It is almost exponential. As you think about the blessings in your life, you are able to realize that you truly are blessed in more ways than you could ever imagine. As they say in Vegetales "a thankful heart is a happy heart."

I have noticed that as I have pursued this adoption, I have felt my heart grow more full of thanks. I am thankful for my warm house, yummy food, clean water, nice clothes, and the provision of physical and financial needs God has provided. I am thankful for my health, for Abigail's health, and for the amazing health care available to us. I am thankful for my family and friends, and for knowing that I am loved. I am thankful for my salvation, for my growing church family, for the fellowship I share with believers around the world. I am thankful for Abigail, and the way God used an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy to bring me to this point in my life. I am thankful that God has good plans for me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Snag

I knew there would be a few snags along the way. And on Wednesday I hit my first one.

Because of the differences in requirements from my home study agency and my placing agency, my home study social worker did not have the necessary number of personal references to complete my home study. Additionally, because of the holiday, my placing agency was not available to review my home study. So, two minor snags resulting in a short delay in my home study.

But it all worked out:) I called the director of Abigail's day care/school, and she whipped up a quick reference letter by Wednesday afternoon. And yesterday I received another reference letter in the mail, so now I have more than enough references for both my HS agency and my placing agency. Hopefully I will have a notarized copy of my HS by the end of the week since I plan on taking everything to Harrisburg to get it authenticated on Thursday.

Then, a copy of the HS to USCIS, and soon an I171H!

Monday, November 19, 2007

COSTCO!!!!!

Jen and I went on our "date" to Costco (and Target, Ross, Old Navy, Michaels, JoAnn Fabric, and the kids resale shop.)

Got tons of yummies, a cute holiday dress for Abigail (only $7.50!), a Christmas present for me from my brother, Abigail's birthday gifts from my family, and a few small things for the house.

Loved it. Can't wait to do it again. Also, if you are at Costco and they are sampling the bacon, EAT SOME!!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Wizard of Oz




Abigail recently watched "The Wizard of Oz" on YouTube. Pretty intense stuff, I guess. The flying monkey things always scared me when I was little. And the field of flowers that made Dorothy fall asleep. That was creepy. How did the Wicked Witch bathe if water made her melt?

Birthday: A post in multiple parts




CUPCAKES!

The Recovery Effort

Still recovering from Abigail's party. Pics and post to come.

Also, I have a "date" with Jen G. to go to Costco tomorrow (she is a member, YEA!) and I am really excited. I love Costco.

Little Dictionary

Can I just brag on Abigail a little bit?

Yesterday, during our home study, Megan asked Abigail what adoption meant, and Abigail said, "adoption is when the baby is in a momma's tummy, but when the baby is born, the momma can't take care of her or buy her food or clothes. So the momma gives the baby to a new family. And God makes them a family and they love each other forever."

And then she went on to explain that since we are adopting a child she gets a new dresser and will get bunkbeds.

I just thought that was so sweet!


Also, relatedly, at school, Abigail's teacher has been doing "meditation." When the kids get worked up, she sends them to a quiet place and they sit there and "get rid of their negative energy" and "think about happy things to get some positive energy." Kind of new age, I know. So I told Abigail that when she was getting rid of all her negative energy, she can focus on how much God loves her and how much her family loves her to help her get "positive energy." And she can pray that God will help her have a good attitude.

So, the other day she was talking about how her friend hurt her feelings, so she had to go to the quiet place and "get rid of her negative energy." And I asked her what she was thinking about to get "positive energy."

And she said "my new shiny dresser."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Done Like a Turkey on Thanksgiving Day!

Yes, folks, my home study is done! I should have it before Thanksgiving, too!

It was really NOT a big deal, and I am glad I did not go overboard with the cleaning. We sat at my dining room table and went over a bunch of paperwork and questions. Then a quick tour of the house.

Abigail was her usual great self, and the HS lady was very impressed by her. And of course she was looking adorable. I do think Megan was a little taken aback by the streamers and cupcakes, but I explained that they were for the party, and then she got excited:)

(I will post pics of the party on my other blog.)

So, that's it- the last "big" thing on my end. Now I just sit back and wait for my I171H.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Questioning

I'm surprised by how many people immediately link me to Angelina Jolie when I mention that I am in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. It doesn't offend me or anything, especially since I think that is really the only frame of reference most people have for international adoption, specifically from Ethiopia. It does kind of annoy me though, because AJ and I are, of course, very different people, and I don't think it is fair to extend her reasons and motivations for adopting to me, or mine to her. Oh well, it is what it is.

Recently, allegations were made in Ethiopia from the birth family of AJ's adopted Ethiopia daughter, Zahara. Basically, a woman claimed to be Zahara's birth mother and stated that she never legally relinquished the baby. Zahara was relinquished in 2005 by her grandmother who testified in court and presented 3 witnesses who claimed the birth mother was dead and the biological father was unknown. AJ adopted the baby when she was 7 months old. The Wide Horizon's adoption agency, a well-known and established agency in Ethiopia, has backed AJ and states that the adoption was perfectly legal in all respects according to Reuters. They report that someone had paid the Ethiopian people to make the complaints.

This really irked me. What this comes down to is a child. People out there, for reasons unknown, are willing to rip apart the life of this little child- they give no thought to her. I don't personally know AJ or Zahara, but it seems evident that they love and care about each other and their whole family. And someone was willing to tear that child out of the family and home that she knows just to make some trouble or get their 15 minutes of fame? Why?

Why is our society so willing to punish children like that?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Overheard...

"Yeah, I need some peak-in's."

"Oh, here are some."

"Are they whole or chopped?"

"These are halves."

"Oh good. I like those best. I think they make the best peak-in pie."

"Oh, yes. It just looks prettier with peak-in halves."

It was at this point that I figured out they were talking about pecans.

Now, I have often wondered myself, and have heard others debate, if the proper pronunciation is "pee-can," "pee-con," or "pi-khan." Even Wikipedia says that the pronunciation is debated between these three. But never have I heard the word pronounced "peak-in."

Hi, my name is Grace and I live in South-Central Pennsylvania.

Down with the HS

My Home Study is Saturday morning, so between now and then I have a few things to do:
~Tidy up the house
~Clean bathrooms and kitchen
~Vacuum and wash the kitchen floor
(I am not going crazy with the cleaning, just doing what I would normally do to have people over)
~Review paperwork and make sure everything is in order
~Make copies of a few things
~Figure out how to address the "male role model" issue

BUT, because Abigail's b-day party is Saturday afternoon, I also have a few other things to do:
~Make cupcakes
~Re-do the party favors (a few more kids RSVPed so now I have to redistribute the loot.)
~Fill balloons and hang streamers
~Figure out what furniture to move to make room for 9 girls ages 3-6
~Finish the laundry so that Abigail has her "favorite" stuff to wear
~Decide, and make, whatever I am making for dinner for the grown-up "helpers" (John's mom is making chili- what else should I have besides cornbread?)
~Make a playlist of princess songs
~Put away breakable things

So, that is where things stand with the HS. I am not really worried or worked up about it, but I do hope we have nice weather. And that someone will pick up the balloons for me.

Any advice- about the HS or the party?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Encouraging Words

As emailed by another PAP:

"The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you!"

Reading Recommendations

A few weeks ago I finished the book "There is No Me Without You" by Melissa Fay Greene. I was not going to say anything, but this story has stuck with me so much that I feel I need to say something.

I highly recommend the book for anyone who would like to learn more about the orphan epidemic in Ethiopia, and the roles that HIV/AIDS and poverty play in creating orphaned and abandoned children. The facts are rolled into a story that winds across 20 years and shows the mighty hand of God Himself in caring for these beautiful children who are so in need of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, and also in need of love.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

When you don't know what to say...

...you are supposed to talk about the weather.

Not that I don't know what to say, more that I actually want to talk about the weather. Primarily to point out that on October 8, 2007, it was 90+ degrees outside. On November 9, 2007, my co-workers had snow, and temps dipped to the teens overnight (we've been hanging out in the 40s during the day and 20s overnight.)

Nice. Feels like home.

*At least I still have my Christmas shopping done. No extraneous treks in the cold for me!

Creative Writing, Creative Reading

About a month or so ago I had to write a "how-to" article for my creative writing class. I wrote about how to get rid of lice (LOTS of experience with that lately.) Anyway, the first paragraph started like this...

"Dora backpack in tow, my daughter confidently set off for her first day of kindergarten, sure she was about to learn everything. Within days, she was eagerly bringing home all sorts of great new things: a life-size cutout of her body, sheets of wide-ruled paper covered with her practice handwriting, and books from the school library. She even had occasional homework assignments. But three weeks into school, she brought home something very unwelcome: head lice! Now I was the one with homework- get rid of those head lice, and keep them from coming back!"

When I got my grade and comments back, one comment from my instructor read "That first sentence doesn't cling well. You might consider rewriting it to something like "On her first day of Kindergarten, my daughter Dora, with her backpack in tow, confidently set off, sure she was about to learn everything."

I emailed and explained that my daughter is not Dora, and that parents of kindergartners would probably know who "Dora" is.

He emailed back that it was funny... and the sentence made a lot more sense the original way now that he knew who Dora was.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rest Up, Wash Up

Friday, 8:00pm. Have just gotten home from work. Doctor John brought me dinner, and Abigail was having an evening snack...

Doctor John: (to grace) Yeah, well, I don't think so!

(walks out of room)

Abigail: (whispered) I think someone needs a nap!

Grace: You think so?

Abigail: (nods, points towards hallway) Yeah, and a shower.

2 Degrees of Separation*

Okay, it was cool before, but this morning, it was just plain cold! When I woke up, it was 59-60 degrees in the house. Don't know what happened to the heater- it just never turned on!

Now, I am about to get personal here... it was so cold in my room (probably about 56-58, given how much cooler my bedroom usually is) that I decided I would rather wait and go to the bathroom at work! I was not going to freeze my hiney!

Thankfully, the heat seemed to remember that it was supposed to come on, so I didn't have to call maintenance. But still.

Ah well, think of all the money I saved! Several dollars (and one very full bladder) closer to my daughter!

For a similar story about turning on the heat, click here.

*Get it? There were 2 degrees of separation between cool and cold? Get it? Man, just tell me to stop making bad jokes!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Help Wanted

Okay, kids. I need your help. I am reworking this story for submission to my creative writing class. I would love any help or suggestions you could give to improve the story. I want you to feel, smell, taste, see, and hear what I am hearing in this story. If an image doesn't make sense or is boring/lacks "realness" let me know. If my verbs are past tense/weak and could be more powerful, speak up. If the tempo keeps it from being suspensful, point it out. If my words or images are cliches, use your red pencil (figuratively:)

Some other areas where I need help with this:
~Title. Obviously, the title "Nightmare" worked when I was relaying a recurring nightmare I had. However, I think I need something stronger for the submission title.

~Opening sentence. I think it is boring and doesn't grab the reader's attention. Help me spice it up.

~Punctuation. Does my sentance structure and paragraphs work to enhance the story or distract from it? Sometimes I over-use punctuation:)

Special thanks to Eryka who already offered some excellent feedback to help create the changes you now see!


It was one of those days; the sun was bright, the air was fresh, and the constant sound of laughter was interspersed with the occasional scream of delight as the little kids flipped on the trampoline. In the background, I listened for Abigail's voice to echo "Polo" to each "Marco." At 5, she was one of the youngest in the group, but she insisted she could play with the big kids. Her voice stood out amongst the clattering and splashing of the water game, higher and softer than the other voices, and far more likely to be giggling.

Sunlight blinded my already-squinting eyes as I tried to talk to yet another "VIP" that John felt was necessary for me to meet. They were, of course, "delighted", and I was likewise "so happy to finally meet them!" since John "always speaks so highly of you." With the sun blazing, I could feel my pale skin turning more and more pink by the minute, and the heat of the day combined with the heat of the burn had me half convinced to take a dip in the cool water myself. However, the constant need to make a good impression on the "somebodies" for John’s sake won out; having all these people see me in a bathing suit would not help the endeavor.

This left eating as the other potential amusement of the party, and out of the corner of my eye, taking care not to seem disinterested in Mr. Somebody's lecture about the need for furthering funding for enabling more research about the use of technology to increase the rates of prescription medication compliance, I tried to catch John's eye and indicate that I was ready to hit the buffet. I tilted my head slightly to the right, raised my eyebrows, and pinched my lips into a fair resemblance of a smile. He saw and smiled, but as usual, was oblivious to meaning of my gestures. He waved back.

I held back my sigh of frustration and tried to think of an intelligent question for Mr. Somebody. Pink skin turned red. My stomach grumbled complaints and punished me with stabbing pains. My rough, dry tongue consumed more and more space inside my mouth. Distracted, logical thought proved difficult. Mr. Somebody droned on, and hoping I appeared more interested than I was, I waited to hear Abigail's voice holler out "Polo."

A metal clang, like the sound of little boys fighting the flagpole with their stick swords, pushed through the heavy air and registered in my foggy mind. A splash followed the clang, so close together that they were nearly the same sound, but my mind was stuck on the flagpole clang. Mr. Somebody immobilized his tongue; his incessant soliloquy halted. The laughter of the children trailed off. Splashing in the pool ceased as though the water had turned to cotton puffs, slowly floating back to a puff pond. Silence. I inhaled, the only sound for a moment.

"Mom!" "Dad!" Their distress was palpable in their tone. I exhaled into terror-filled air.

Before I could turn towards the clanging flagpole sound and the source of alarm, the tropical print shirts and tailored Capri pants surrounding me were at a run and diving into the pool. My squinting, exhausted eyes searched for the cause of the commotion, but all I could discover was the pool, once so clear and calm, was now a giant washing machine: churning, undulating, chaotic. I listened for Abigail to call out to me, but in the noise, I couldn't hear her high, pliable voice.

And then I knew.

"Is that my kid?" I felt horror tightening my stomach and burning the back of my throat. "Is that my kid!" The Botoxed faces floating above the sundresses refused to reply. Streaks of deep maroon snaked through the water where pressed-shirted men were diving to the bottom of the pool. "IS THAT MY KID?" Fright and urgency made my own voice sound foreign in my ears.

Waiting was no longer possible. My legs liquefied, but managed to carry me to the pool edge. Stopping only to kick off my kitten heels, I jumped into the crimson-ribboned water forgetting my white dress. I waded across the shallow end, fighting the water that had taken on incredible weight. It restrained me, as if I was trying to advance by walking against a thick rubber band. I felt heavy and slow; even though the water was only just above my waist, I felt it pressing against my chest; my lungs were starved for air.

I could hear the repeated screams "Is that my kid?" but I did not know they were coming from me. I pressed forward, pushing a few crying children out of my way. They were not Abigail- what could their tears mean to me? The world seemed silent and overly bright. I felt as if I was lost in the foggy caverns of an old cathedral; all light, but undefined; nothing clear but what was directly in front of me- each step creating pristine images. I could see, almost drop by drop, the blood that flowed beneath the surface of the water. I watched it tentatively kiss my dress. I saw the dress repel it for a moment, then suck it in, changing in the process- no longer white and crisp but pink and smudged. And still the voice continued on: "Is that my kid!"

Time changed. Hours of seconds ended. The rubber band holding me back snapped, and I finally moved. Pulled from the pool by unseen hands, gravity returned. The cement beneath my feet jolted up my body, returning the bones to my jellied legs, repelling the pressure on my chest, filling my lungs with air.

Now-sturdy legs carried me to the long body lying in the sun, pale except for the bright red blemish above her right eye. Puddles of blood formed on the wet-brown cement, mixing with water and strands of sun-streaked hair. One shoulder was unequal to the other. A pool of water collected in the indentation of her belly button. My eyes saw all this, but I only looked at her chest. She was not breathing.

Instantly, I came completely into myself. This is my kid, and she is not breathing.

I was unable to tell where motherhood left off and training took over; in this moment, I was both. My maternal instincts took me to her side, and my training directed my finger to point and my voice to issue the command, "You! Call 911." Momma gently touched the injured body of her child. Nurse felt for a pulse. I did not know who I was, yet I was more than I ever thought I could be.

A pair of dripping black slacks knelt next to me and prepared to start compressions. I tilted back her chin and pinched her nose, calling for John. I leaned down and delivered two breaths to her; I blew into her- air, and life, and love. The Slacks began compressions and John's name was immediately on my lips. He could not love her as much as I did, but I knew he loved her more than The Slacks. Two more breaths (airlifelove, airlifelove) and The Slacks began his rhythmic count to thirty. John's name was again on my lips, but before the breath came, he was there.

Only minutes before, so oblivious to the meanings of my looks and gestures, he now knew in a glance what I needed. He knelt across from The Slacks. Two more breaths (airlifelove, airlifelove) and he took over the count. I felt powerful and potent; my lungs filled with more oxygen to give her (airlifelove, airlifelove.) Thirty times he pounded into her chest a will to live, a drive to overcome, a hope for the future. Then twice I blew into her with the present: air, life, love.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Encouragement

A word about patience I saw on another adoption blog...

"For it is not yet time for it to come true. The time is coming in a hurry, and it will come true. If you think it is slow in coming, wait for it. For it will happen for sure, and it will not wait."

Habakkuk 2:3
New Life Version

Perseverance

Please pray for perseverance for me. I am getting so thoroughly bored with school that I find it difficult to even log onto my school site. I can count one one hand the number of things I have learned this semester, and of those things I have learned, only one was interesting: Internet should aways be capitalized because it is a proper noun. So should World Wide Web.

I have about 4 weeks of school left, and I have about 0 motivation. Nursing school was so much more difficult than this, but it was also so much more rewarding. I was constantly struggling to find the balance between work, home, Abigail, and school, but every time I went to school I knew I would walk away with something good. Now...ehh. Maybe someone will make a comment that might make me smile or irritate me with their condescension or ignorance, but as for learning- it's not really happening. And because of that, I don't find it rewarding. I am not challenged, so my good grades are not meaningful to me. I mean, yes, I like good grades, I like a good GPA, and I like that my overall undergrad GPA is going to be very handsome because of this program (increasing my ability to pursue graduate education when I so desire... if I so desire) but it's not rewarding. To work hard and have it mean something- to struggle and overcome obstacles and find that in the end you have created something, made something, learned something, changed the way you think- that is rewarding. To be told that you do well on something that you only used half your mind an a minimal amount of energy doing... it's like saying "oh, you are good at breathing." It's nearly meaningless.

I know there are some who think that this might be related to attending school online, but I don't really think that is the case. I don't think having to be stuck in a classroom with people who "don't get it" when I "got it" before the prof was even finished explaining it... that's not going to help the situation. The material covered and the professors are the same regardless of where the "class" is conducted, so I am not going to rush to sign up for on-campus classes for spring semester. In fact, I haven't signed up for any classes for spring semester (as an upperclassman, registration opened to me about 4 weeks ago.) I just can't get excited about signing up for classes!

So please pray. I need some motivation and persistence.

I need to be focused on running the race, not on how boring the race may or may not be:)

James 1:12- Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Hebrews 12:1- Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Romans 5: 3-5- ...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

James 1:4- Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Morning Routine

Me: Okay, are you buckled?

Abigail: Yep, Momma. Let's go!

Me: (try to start the car and it won't start) Uh oh. (try to start the car again. nothing.) Okay car, come on. (try one more time, giving it my best shot. still nothing.) Great.

A: Dear God. Please help Momma start the car so that I can go to school and Momma can stay home and go to school. I know you can do it, God.

Me: (try to start the car, and it starts immediately.) Thank you, God!

A: Thanks Mighty Lord! I call Him Mighty Lord because He is strong and brave. Did you know that, Momma?

Me: Yep, that's right!

Now, as sweet as this may be, and as wonderful as it is to see how God can come to our aid, the fact that this is a daily occurrence is reinforcing the need to buy a new vehicle before winter really sets in. My car is nearly 13 years old, and while mileage is low (118,000), and I only drive about 350 miles a month here, it needs some major work to make it though the winter. In fact, the estimate I have would almost equal my down payment on a new-to-me car. So, since I have difficulties with this car as it is, and since I cannot manage the "we never plow" PA winters with my little Cavalier, and since I will need a little more space one I have my new little one home, I think I will be purchasing a new vehicle relatively soon.

At first, I thought I would buy a brand new car, but upon further consideration, I don't think I will. It kind of is a waste of money. So, when I get my bonus in December, I think I will see how low of a rate I can get for a used car loan from my credit union. They are pretty good with stuff like that.

Still want a Saturn Vue. And remote start. And seat warmers. Mmm. I love having a nice warm butt in the winter!

So, what do you think? What should I do about my car?

Balmy

I woke up this morning and it was a balmy 62 degrees in my room.

I have actively been working to save money for this adoption. Since acquiring money is not always easy (especially since I can't really work overtime and go to school at the same time) I have focused on reducing my spending. This has included things like eating out less, brown-bagging it for lunch, cutting out afternoon Starbucks runs at work, engaging in cheap or free family activities, and looking for ways to reduce my bills.

One of the things I have decided to do is keep my house a little cooler. I have the heat set to come on at 65, and to be honest, between cooking, doing laundry, and conserving the existing heat, I don't think my heat has yet come on except maybe once or twice overnight. In fact, it is usually about 70-74 degrees in my house, except for first thing in the morning when it is about 68.

So why was it 62 in my bedroom this morning? Well, I keep my bedroom door closed all the time to keep Lily (the cat) out. Combined with my bedroom being on the outside corner of my building, my room always cooler than the rest of the house. This is much more noticeable in the cooler months. Also, since I have my door closed, I keep a small fan going to keep the air circulating. I also have "blackout" curtains up from my night-shift days, so I don't get the benefit of the warming sunshine during the day. So it is just cooler in there. The rest of the house was 70 when I checked the thermostat, but my room was 62.

Don't worry. I am totally coping with this well. Flannel jammies, flannel sheets, a blanket, a big down comforter, and some nice fleece socks keep me warm at night. I also have my $4.88 pink fuzzy slippers from Walmart to keep my feet warm! And a zip-up fleece hoodie if I am still cold. And besides, it's amazing how telling myself that "each night I go to bed bundled up is one night closer to bringing my daughter home" can warm me:)

Exonerated

So, it turns out that it wasn't really Lily's fault. She had gotten trapped in my room all day, and didn't get out for about 11 hours. Poor kitty. No wonder she had to poop! I am surprised she didn't do something worse.

She must have gone in and hidden during the morning rush and then ended up trapped in the room when I closed the door on my way out. Oops.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Weekend Highlights

~ Excellent sermon!
~ Flannel sheets are now on my bed!
~ $4.88 at WalMart- now I have pink fuzzy slippers!
~ Changed bulbs in my hall light fixtures (this was a multi-day task. Don't ask.)
~ Solved the "how long do I have to keep brushing my teeth, momma?" dilemma with a $3 kitchen timer. This greatly reduces my bedtime frustrations.
~ Doctor John's mom agreed to make a pot of chili for all the "helpers" who will be assisting in producing the "Abigail's 5 Princess Party Extravaganza!"
~ Bought first Christmas decorations of the season, and hung my Christmas wreath (I've had it for years, but this is the first time I'm hanging it!)
~ I made an excellent pork loin roast. Mmm!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Homesick

Today we had a wonderful message about being homesick. You can listen to it by clicking here and then clicking on "online" next to the November 4 sermon- Homesick.

When Abigail was visiting her dad over the summer, she was gone for 6 weeks. I was homesick for her. Even though I was in my house, my "home" is really defined by being with my family- with Abigail. When she returned, I finally felt like I was "home."

And now I am homesick for my new daughter. I want her here with me- to be with her family and to know the comfort of love. To be in her "forever home."

And that ache in my heart is reminding me, over and over, how God is homesick for us. He created us to be with Him- to be in constant intimacy with Him. But because of sin, we are separated from Him. He is in our "forever home" waiting for us to be reunited with Him. He desires us- He longs for us the way I long to be with my daughter. He is homesick to be with us. How amazing is that?

80% live on < $2/day

Here is a report that appeared in the Economist about the current economic situation in Ethiopia. Pretty shocking stuff.

Reason #6- 1 John 3:18

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Reason #5- Let Love In

You wait, wanting this world
To let you in
And you stand there
A frozen light
In dark and empty streets
You smile hiding behind
A God-given face
But I know you're so much more
Everything they ignore
Is all that I need to see


PSA

Make sure you "fall back" tonight.

Now, hopefully since I posted this here I will remember to do it myself:)

Also, I really don't like trying to remember how to change the clock in my car.

American Nurse Today

10 minutes ago Abigail brought me a piece of paper on which she had written "depression."

8 minutes ago she brought me a piece of paper on which she had written "recognizing."

6 minutes ago she brought me a piece of paper on which she had written "children."

5 minutes ago she brought me last month's issue of American Nurse Today open to the article entitled "Recognizing Depression in Children."

That explained a lot.

Archived

“She expected from other people the same opinions and feelings as her own, and she judged of their motives by the immediate effect of their actions on herself. Thus a circumstance occurred... [and] through her own weakness, it chanced to prove a source of fresh pain to herself.”

Sense and Sensibility


Jane Austen


Trick or Treat? Ver. 2.0

As you know (if you read this blog regularly), Hershey's Trick or Treat night is not on Halloween. For those of us new to the area, this is quite unusual, and many of my friends report missing the chance to take their kids out or not being prepared when costumed kids show up at their door. When we went Trick or Treating, we stopped at our neighbor-friends and many of them weren't even home!

One of these friends happens to be Abigail's favorite of the group of single doctors that often find their way to my dinner table looking for a home-cooked meal. (Happy to feed them!) Shahrouz (sha-roose) has so much fun with Abigail, and whether he comes to my house or we go to his, we never leave empty-handed. He is constantly giving us things (food, bottles of wine, little Iranian candies, etc.) He only lives about 2 blocks from us, so we often pass his house when we go for walks/bike rides.

Anyway, we were driving home from lunch the other day when we saw him getting out of his car. We stopped (in the middle of the street, mind you, because this is Hershey and that's okay) and talked. It was the first time I had seen him for a few weeks since his October rotation was at a hospital in York (about 45 minutes away.) We mentioned that we had stopped at his house on Trick or Treat night and he wasn't home. So what does the man do?

"Stay there" he commands. Then walks over to his car, opens his trunk, extracts a box, and walks back.

"Here." He shoves the box into the open window. Surprised, I take hold of it. It is a ginormous box of truffles! (Really good yummy truffles!)

I tried to give them back (I'm sure the box of chocolate was fairly expensive, and besides, I know who will end up eating those truffles if they come into my house, and I'm not sure I want to see my butt get that big!) He would not take them back, even under threat of being cut off from the home-made dinners.

So now I have a huge box of tasty truffles. And I have already eaten far more than I should have (they are seriously addictive!) I like grown-up Trick or Treat!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Triple Threat

I can't decide if I like her half biker half ballerina costume more than the fact that she sings the words "MY word is a lamp unto my feet..."

Cooling Off and Getting Cooler

This week the leaves have burst into shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple that can't even be captured by words like Merlot, sienna, eggplant, and saffron. Every walk from the house to the car is accompanied by the sound of crunching leaves, and occasionally by the whisk, whisk of corduroy. The days are brisk; the hours between dusk and dawn snap at my skin. It is autumn in all it's glory, and I welcome the cool days. Once a fan only of summer, I find that growing up has helped me appreciate the passage of time. I love to see how the year changes, and the changes the year brings.

Some of those changes are really quite cool, and here is a little list to perk up your Friday afternoon:
~ Yesterday my FBI clearance packet arrived in my mailbox (no arrest record.) This was sent October 20, and I got my clearance on November 1. That is quite possibly the fastest turnaround time ever! (This is not the USCIS document but rather a "background check" performed by the FBI.)
~ Last week my company awarded the employees with a bonus based on hospital performance- 1% of my income from the past year (or something like that.)
~ I thought I had drained my Dependent Care Flex Reimbursement Account, but I actually had quite a bit of money in there!
~ The bonus combined with the Flex Account money equals out to the amount I needed for my home study and post-placement fees!
~ Today I was talking to my chiropractor and she has a friend from church who is an Ethiopian native! She actually was a Freedom Fighter before getting married and settling in the US. My chiropractor is going to give her friend my "business card" and hook us up! Maybe I can get some Ethiopian cooking lessons? :)
~ Abigail continues to bless me with her excitement and enthusiasm for her new little sister. The other day we were going through her dress up clothes in anticipation of getting the new dresser. She sorted out a pile of things that no longer fit, then turned to me and said "Wait Momma! Don't put the for garage sale! I want to save them and give them to my new little sister so that she can dress up, too!" Another discussion in the bathroom:
Me: What if your new sister wears diapers and goes poo-poo and pee-pee in her diapers?
Abigail: I will teach her how to go potty on the potty!
Me: You will? What if it's stinky?
A: I will wipe her butt! I will get her a little potty like this (indicates a small training potty) and show her how to sit on it! And then, when I go potty, she can sit on her little potty. And then I will wipe her butt and we will flush her poops down the toilet! And then she can have grown-up panties like me!
I would love to see that happen:) She also continues to pray for her new little sister each night. The other night she prayed that she could tell her new little sister about Jesus so that Jesus could live in her heart and make her heart happy. I nearly shed a tear of joy! I am excited about the love Abigail has for her sister, but perhaps more so, I am excited about the love Abigail has for Jesus- a love so great she wants to tell others so that they can be "happy in their heart."

Before and After



All the hardware and everything is the same! Can you believe it? I am so excited to fill it with stuff for my girls:)

Pooper Scooper

So, I get home from work last night, play with Abigail, put her to bed, clean up the house, make and eat some dinner, read some homework stuff, and finally drag myself into my bedroom to hit the sack when what do I discover?



Lily has pooped on my bed. Yea!



How this happened I do not know since Lily is not allowed in my room (I keep my door closed all the time.) The only thing I can think of is that she snuck in during the morning rush of getting myself and Abigail out the door by 6:30am- the door tends to be left open during that time.



Why she did it is another question. Why do cats poop places other than their litter box? This has never happened before. Could she possibly be mad that I didn't scoop her box for a few days?

Anyway, this is one of those times that I am glad I have a duvet and not a comforter:)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

On Parenting...

"People with kids often tell people who don’t have kids this thing about how when it’s your own kid, there’s this feeling, and you can’t explain it, it’s just different. Doesn’t matter if your kid is biological or adopted, it’s your kid and the instinct you have concerning them is primal. You see them and the feeling you have inside you reaches to the very center of your gut. All of that crap is so true, no really, it is, and it feels distinctly like that sickness you feel in your stomach after eating an entire bucket of candy."

Heather Armstrong

I Work Hard For My Money...

And.

I.

Am.

So.

Tired.
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