Thursday, July 28, 2011

Slip-n-Slide Fun!

Teta won the coolest-ever-aunt award when she brought a slip-n-slide to MS with her during her visit! The girls loved it:)

To start out, Daddy showed us how it's done... Nice form!

Anna only got about half way down the first few times.

So she got some "help" from Daddy:)

JohnAndrew wasn't that into the water... but man, that grass was fun!

He was also not such a fan of his ride on the s-n-s.

Daddy worked with Abigail to perfect her form.

But she had the most fun when he "helped" her.

Drying off afterwards on the swing set that was a gift from Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Bentley

Thanks so much for the fun, Teta!

Man, brings back memories...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Face Painting and Ice Cream in the Hood!

Last weekend, our neighborhood had a community party. 

There was food, music, pool time, face painting, and ice cream.

Can you guess which things were my kids' favorites?


Dreamcicles are healthy for kitties.

Yes, she is wearing her Ordinary Hero t-shirt:)

Here kitty kitty!

And, because we believe ice cream is probably the 5th food group, JohnAndrew got to indulge, too:)

I think he was surprised by how cold it was!

Not that the temperature kept him from enjoying his treat...

Ice cream makes him happy- just like Daddy!
We are looking forward to getting to know more of our neighbors! Hopefully, when it cools off long enough to be outside for more than 5 minutes (and when the bugs stop eating us alive) we will get to know more people.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Teta's Visit!

My sister visited us for a week. YAY! We were busy every.single.minute. The kids had a great time, I got some more unpacking done, and John and I even got to go on a date! Here's a bit of our good times...

Teta at her first Chick-Fil-A

Playing lots of games. Memory was a favorite.

Faith took this picture while the kids had Daddy time and we were  doing other things.

JohnAndrew normally gets showers with me or Daddy, but got a "sink bath" from Teta:)

More pictures to come! And some of them involve a Slip-n-Slide! You won't want to miss those;)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pregnancy Update: 20 weeks (or something)

Last Friday (7/15) I hit the 20 week milestone in my pregnancy! More than half way there! (I plan to deliver between 37-38 weeks. I'm bargaining with God. My bottom line offer is that for every day past 38 weeks that I carry this baby, He must reduce my labor by 1 hour.)

On Tuesday I had my anatomy scan. The baby looked great, and the cervical length measurement was the best I have ever had at 3.8 cm! (Although, they still want to see me back in 2 weeks to make sure everything's okay... seems like overkill.)

I was seen at 18.5 weeks by my new OB (who I really like) and really, I don't think I could be healthier. My overall weight gain for this pregnancy has been about 1.5 lbs (which sounds like it's not a lot, but keep in mind I still hadn't lost the weight from JA yet, so it would be perfectly okay if I only gain a few more pounds total in this pregnancy.)

We did get some pictures at our ultrasound, but they are really crappy. I mean, super-duper-can't-even-tell-what-grainy-black-and-white-part-of-a-baby-you-are-looking-at crappy. So, nothing to post here. But, Anna said that it looks like the baby is walking a dog, and Abigail says the baby looks like a bird. At this point we aren't even concerned about the gender- more like the species!

My friend Mandy had asked how things were going, and if I was having any cravings. So far, not really. I do occasionally crave MEAT! (How manly, no?) And I do sometimes want chocolate, although that is not pregnancy related. But no real cravings- I don't even have Nutella in the house! I am trying to be more careful about not feeding the cravings (to excess). The exception has been watermelon. I can't say that I crave it, but once I have it, it's hard to stop!

Other than that, I feel good. Some back pain (I need to find a good chiropractor!) that is complicated by hauling my big guy. And I'm tired- especially in the Mississippi heat. But I feel good.

Now, here is a laugh for you...

JA 20 week belly

#4 20 week belly
The lighting is bad. Thank me for this. You don't want more detail than you have.

Alrighty! That's all, folks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Look who came to breakfast...

Sunday morning, I tried out John's new (from Christmas) Star Wars pancake molds. I'd never used pancake molds before, so for my first time, I think they turned out fairly well...

Yoda. His ears tended to fall off. But JohnAndrew was okay with that. They were the perfect size for baby hands.

Storm Trooper. Complete with John's version of the Storm Trooper theme song.

Darth Vader. Or, as Anna called him, "Dark Mater."

I even made strawberry syrup:)


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Helpful Resource

In light of the recent orphanage closures- and the expectation of continued closures, a new blog has been created to help APs/PAPs keep track of these changes and closures, as well as the information being communicated from agencies.

You can access it here.

Set Them Free Photos!

On Sunday afternoon, we participated in the Set Them Free Balloon Release: Madison Edition. Since we decided to participate last minute (and in an area where I don't really know anyone) the attendees were just our family:) But we did have some people "buy" a balloon online! We were thrilled to be able to raise some funds for these special children who so desperately need families.

Would you please join me in praying these precious kids find families? And it's not too late to offer financial support or to become a 5/5/5 Warrior

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ethiopian Adoption Ethics: More Than Just Agencies ***Edited

I have talked to a lot of PAPs and APs regarding the recent slowdown in Ethiopian adoption. I have stated many times, both on this blog and in conversation, that if the slowdowns are an effort by the Ethiopian government to provide a more ethical and transparent adoption process, as well as a means of directing more support to family preservation and care for non-adoptable children, I fully support and endorse these efforts.

The response from the adoptive community has been mixed.

On the one hand, everyone says they want an ethical adoption process. On the other hand, they also tend to want it on a quick timeline with as few interruptions and changes to the process as possible.

Sometimes we can't have both. Most of the time, we can't have both.

But the thing is, as PAPs/APs, even though we may understand and support the government reforms to provide for ethical adoption processes, it kind of feels like a personal attack. In fact, I have heard/read PAPs who feel like this is a personal attack- an attack on adoption, an attack on families, an attack on agencies.

And then, the news of the revocation of BFAS's license came out. And PAPs/APs said "well, they closed that unethical agency, maybe things can go back to normal now!"

But the thing of it is, corruption can and does occur on many levels- not just the agency level. It can occur at the "finder"/relinquisher level, within the local governments/kebele, with the intake organization/agency, with the orphanage, with any other officials (including doctors!) involved in the process, and finally, at the placing agency level. Shutting down agencies known to be unethical/illegal does not solve the problem of a corrupt system. 

I was both saddened and encouraged when I learned of the closure of three orphanages in Ethiopia. The orphanages are the Mussie ("Moses") orphanage in Hossana, Durame, and Wolayta. The licenses were revoked, and the children residing in those orphanages were transferred to another orphanage. It appears that the directors of all three orphanages were arrested, and at least one is still in custody; it has been confirmed that the Hossana director was arrested and remains in custody. This closure is not "sudden" as it was expected by people on the ground in Hossana at least 3 months ago.

The agencies involved with these orphanages include CHSFS, Holt, and Bethany. Also of note, both BFAS and Hope International families have said that their children were "signed off" by this orphanage, even though their children never resided there.

It is rumored that as many as 40 more orphanages may close soon.

I cannot say why these orphanages were closed nor can I confirm why NGO personnel were detained/arrested. But it seems obvious that someone is making a very clear and bold statement about something.

My heart goes out to the families, both pre and post placement, who now must question the state of their adoption. My prayers are with the children affected by these closures as this process has added more trauma to their experience. And my hopes are that first families who may now be separated by many many miles from their children who are in the care of the new orphanages will still have the ability to be reunited with their children if that is what they wish.

But let's be real. Agencies don't have their licenses revoked without cause. And neither do orphanages. This means something; only time will tell what.

***Edited 7/18 to add: From the time I wrote this post on Sunday to this evening, an additional 15 orphanages have been reported to have been closed, with more anticipated to close soon. The government is stating this is happening in an effort to "demonstrate a commitment to improving adoptions."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Naming #4

Each of our children's names were chosen with a lot of care, and follow a pattern: They each have an "A" name* and there is a family connection in each name. Additionally, there is a biblical component to their names.

This makes for a good starting point when discussing names for the next child. When we discovered we were expecting #4, we knew right away we would use our girl's name that we didn't use for JA, but we've been going back and forth on a boy name. We settled on a first name with a family connection right away. So it's the middle name, that needs to be both biblical and "A" that has been holding us up in deciding.

What I can say is this: we know one name we won't be using!

We were laying in bed, bathed in the soft glow of our iPhones (romantic!), John catching up on the latest news headlines and me thinking and researching boy "A" names when we had a conversation that eliminated at least one name from consideration. After running through several names and throwing a few out to John, I found one I really liked!

"Honey, what about Amos?"

His look said it all. Previous name contenders were met with indifference or dislike, but never had they been met with the look of sheer disgust that he glared back at me. "Uh, no."

Now, I know my husband pretty well. I've gotten quite a few "no's" in our years together that actually ended up being a "yes." (Can you say "Anna"? Or how about "big family" or "minivan"?) A well-reasoned argument can go a long way with him. (As can convincing him that something was actually his idea. And persistence. And patience.) So, often with John, "no" doesn't mean "no"... at least, not most of the time.

I paused to construct my argument before proceeding.

"Well, I really like it. And it meets all our requirements."

He was incredulous. "Uhhh.... No."

"But it's a good "A" name! And it sounds nice with our first name!"

This time he didn't even bother responding, he was so fed up with me. And clearly, disgusted with my continued defense of the name.

"Well, it's a nice biblical name, too."

This got him. Now I could see that he had crossed the line from disgust to belief that I was riding the crazy train. "No, it's not! That is not a biblical name!"

"Yes it is! It's a book of the Bible!"

"ANUS is not a book of the Bible!"

Well, you're right, honey. It's not. Unless you are reading the Nurses's Fecal Impaction Bible.**

What are your favorite biblical boy "A" names (preferably not related to anatomical markers)? What name can you never use for your child, because of strange "connections" to it?

* Yes, technically Hosanna is not an "A" name, but even when I named her Hosanna, I knew we would call her Anna, so it is a defacto "A."

** With this post, I realize I have lost all semblance of class. Dudes, that's how we roll.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

You know it's hot when....

Your WeatherRadio app beeps every few hours, notifying you of the extension on the Heat Advisory (going on day 4? 5?).

Your iPhone shuts down after being left in the car, and gives you an error message that says "temperature alert. your iPhone must cool down before use."

2 minutes outside gives you a sweat mustache.

It's cooler in Cancun than it is on your front porch.

You lose water weight walking from the car to the grocery.

It's too hot to eat oatmeal for breakfast, and you drink your morning cuppa iced.

You start having contractions every time you leave the A/C.

It's July in Mississippi.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods? Stay cool and stay safe!

Monday, July 11, 2011

What we've been up to...

We just moved. So what have we been up to? Mostly, unpacking boxes. Lots and lots of boxes.

I've moved 7 times as an adult, and my gut instinct is always to get the kitchen organized first. Once the kitchen is in working order, the rest falls into place (and besides, I need a home base for snack breaks!)

So that is what we did! My mother-in-law came down July 1-4, and was really helpful in getting things going. We did take the 2nd off to visit with John's sister and brother-in-law, and of course, most of the 4th was not productive either. But by the 5th, the kitchen looked like this:

Looking into the kitchen from the garage entryway, next to the laundry room.

The windows in our breakfast area overlook our backyard and the side of the neighbor's house.

A true sign you are settling in: the fridge is covered in papers:)
Next, we tackled the kids' rooms. The movers broke Abigail's dresser, so we need to replace that. We also need to replace our crib- we were using the crib from John's babyhood, but it was on it's last leg, and I didn't think it would survive the trip. A friend gave us her crib, and we tried to set it up Sunday night, only to find out it was missing some hardware. A google search revealed that it had actually been recalled, so now we need a new crib, too! But, other than those few snags, and a few other items we need to purchase, the kids' rooms are all unpacked and organized. Whew.

Today I've been focusing on the master bed and bath. Um, did I mention that our new master bathroom is actually bigger than the master bedroom in our old house? Yes, yes it is. Our closets are mostly done (John has a few things to go through) and our bathroom is mostly unpacked as well- just organizing the stockpile of medications and makeup;)

Of course, it hasn't been all work and no play! On Saturday evening we were invited to a block party at John's boss's house. He lives just a mile or so up the road, and his neighborhood has a lake with a sand beach. The girls had fun playing in the water, digging for clams, and running around with a bunch of other kids. Me? I mostly tried not to overheat. Oh, and I ate. (Yum!)

The baby (isn't he just the sweetest thing?) took a nap! But only after he filled his belly with all sorts of yummy stuff!

A good time (and good eats!) was had by all!

We went to the local fireworks display on the 4th of July. First major bummer of our new town: no fireworks are allowed to be sold or set off within city limits- including sparklers. So we missed out on that glittery fun. But the kids enjoyed the fireworks (the peanut gallery commented on and JohnAndrew laughed and laughed! Of course, I didn't take any pictures of JA's first 4th of July. #momfail

We also transplanted Abigail's mango tree to a larger, outdoor pot. That thing loves it here! All the purpleish leaves at the top are new growth since it's been in MS. Happy plant... but still 10+ years from fruit bearing!

And last but not least....

Abigail lost another tooth!

What have you been up to lately?
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