Sunday, November 20, 2016

Guest Post - No Hands But Ours

Dear Readers, I know I have taken a hiatus during our adjustment to life with eight children.  I want to reassure you that we are not dead, nor has any sort of catastrophe fallen upon us.  Life just got busy.  Really busy.  My apologies for not staying current with my updates.

I have an article published at the No Hands But Ours website.  It outlines some of the thoughts and experiences we have had with Davis in relation to his visible difference.

You might want to check it out - and cruise around their site a bit.  They have some really great adoption information.

Here's the Uncommon Visible Differences

Davis fits right in with the family.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Church Lady Fight Club

The first rule about Fight Club is...

I bet you thought I was going to say, "You do not talk about Fight Club"

But I think you're thinking about that OTHER Fight Club.  Not the church Fight Club I am in. 

I can practically see your furrowed brow right now.  Kristin is in a Fight Club?  With church ladies?  I should clarify.  It is really just a group of church ladies who have gotten together to make healthy choices.  But "Healthy Choice Club" doesn't have the same ring to it.  It doesn't get the adrenaline pumping and inspire you to get on the treadmill at 10PM just to get credit.

Basically, a group of us have been competing with each other for health points.  You get points for drinking 8 glasses of water.  You get points for eating fiber (Oh the vast quantities of fiber I have consumed), eating 4 servings of vegetables, watching portion control, skipping dessert, and not eating after 8PM among other things.  Worst of all, I drank only water, skim milk, or plain decaf tea through the 8 week challenge.  Not a single drop of Diet Dr. Pepper passed these lips.

Why did I agree to the program?  I wanted to win!  Also, I wanted to see just what I was capable of before leaving on our adoption trip.  Getting healthier is great for so many reasons.  And I wanted to win.  Did I mention the winning thing?

I assume anyone who has challenged me to Boggle or any other game is rolling their eyes right now.

So there you have it.  Two months of total commitment.

And, I won.  And, I lost.

I won the title of Ultimate Fight Club Champion.  I lost 17 pounds.

Yes.  There was a trophy involved.  Yes, holding it may have made me a lot happier than I would like to admit.

The best thing about Fight Club - besides winning of course?  I got to be surrounded by a great group of ladies who were encouraging.  We cheered each others' successes.  We commiserated on the struggles.

I just don't understand women who undercut other women's success.  I am a girl who needs girlfriends.  I don't buy into the belief that there is a limited amount of success available for women and we need to fight each other for it.

I owe a big thank you to the ladies who encouraged me and pushed me.  And a big thank you to my sweet husband who cajoled me into doing more than I wanted with friendly taunting that he knew would make me work hard.  And a big thank you to my kids who told me to run faster on the treadmill (which was very annoying at the time).


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Look Who's Walking

My sweet girl has been making huge strides in the movement department.  (Did you notice the pun?)  After a lot of trying, convincing, and cajoling, Juliet finally decided she was brave enough to try walking on her own. 

The thing is, each kid has his or her own timeline for when they will accomplish things.  Juliet has started walking at 21 months.  Other kids are earlier.  Some are later.  The same is true for every developmental milestone. 

When people know the general ages that children typically meet milestones, they ask parents, "Is your little buttercup walking, talking, potty trained, solving quadratic equations yet?"  Of course their intentions are to strike up a nice conversation.  But when a child is not meeting milestones at the same rate as their peers, it can be stressful for parents. 

Yet, these same parents do have wonderful things that they want to share about their children.  Even children with significant impairments have wonderful traits and abilities that parents love to talk about.  I have found the best way to start conversations without causing unnecessary awkwardness is to ask a more open ended question. 

"What are Little Susie's latest tricks?"  or "What great things has Little Johnny done lately?"

This allows the parents to talk about what their child can do rather than focus on what they might not be able to do.  Maybe a parent will talk about a new food their child has tried.  Maybe they can't walk, but love playing peek-a-boo.  Maybe they haven't ever slept through the night but have a crazy-funny laugh. 

Most people (at least the ones that aren't incredibly annoying) don't want to make parenting into a competition.  They want to support their friends and help them along this journey.  They want to celebrate children's accomplishments.  You may not know if a child is having struggles - not all challenges are visible.  Asking open-ended parenting questions is a good way to start some good friendly conversations. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Adoption Update - Waiting for TA

Adoption from China has a whole bunch of acronyms that indicate specific milestones in the process. There is PA, DTC, LID, OOT, LOA, I800, DS260, GUZ, RTF, Art. 5, etc.  Those of you who have adopted from China know exactly what I am talking about, those who haven't probably have their eyes glazed over right now.

So, let me give a real words description of where we are in our process.  We are in the final stages now.  We have only two acronyms left till we leave for China.

We are waiting on Travel Approval (TA) right now.  This means that the US government has officially signed off on our adoption and the immigration requirements to bring Davis home.  They don't need anything more from us till we are actually in China.  We are just waiting for China to give a final review of all the documentation we have been amassing since we fell in love with our sweet boy back in May 2015.

Travel Approval typically has been taking anywhere from 2 - 10 days.  Once TA is issued, we will schedule our Consulate Appointment (CA).  This determines when we travel to China.  Folks, it has been so long since I first saw Davis's face.  And we are so close to the finish.  We are desperately praying for our Travel Approval to be issued this week.  This opens us up to the possibility of traveling as early as next week to make Davis our son forever.

Unfortunately for our schedule, there are holidays and various constraints that prevent adoptions from taking place during a couple of weeks at the end of March/beginning of April.  If we don't travel next week, we may have to wait nearly a month longer.  There is a trade fair in Guangzhou (a city where we must stay for about a week during our adoption trip) that causes prices for hotels to double.  If we don't travel next week, we'll miss out on both Bridget and Sawyer's birthdays.   And there is another lovely family adopting through our agency who has been on the same timeline to the day, that we have until about two weeks ago.  They're likely traveling next week and we'd love to share this experience with them.

So, please.  I'll take any prayers you can offer that we are able to travel next week.

I am also so grateful for a fellow adoptive family who was able to get recent pictures of our son.  These were taken 2 weeks ago. 

That smile just melts my heart.

He seems to always want to squeeze onto a nanny's lap for a hug.  In the left side of the picture, you can see an older picture of him taped to the wall.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Happy Birthday, Davis!!

I'm feeling a bit melancholy today.  My baby boy turned two and he is half way across the world.  Technically he doesn't turn two till tomorrow, but it is tomorrow in China with the time zone difference.

It is hard to miss such milestones, but our adoption is progressing well.  We are anticipating travel at the end of March or beginning of April.

We have had no official updates from China during this process.  Which means that since last May, the only bits and pieces of information we have on our son has been attained through other families who have seen him on their own adoption trips.  One mother was even able to get a video of our son.  Technically, she was getting a video of another child, but Davis squeezed his way from the background to the front of the picture.

Here's the video.  It was taken a couple of months ago.  He is the boy holding a puzzle who starts in the background and ends up sitting on the nanny's lap.  Be prepared for 31 seconds of total cuteness.

Happy birthday, Davis!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Truffle Fundraiser

Take a good look, my friends.  This is what about 1,000 homemade truffles looks like. 

 I am nearly finished making truffles for our adoption fundraiser.  So far, I have about 80 pre-orders. I still have a couple dozen more available.  If you are interested and life in the area, let me know.  We are asking for a $10 minimum donation per box. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Introducing our new son Davis!!

 Meet Davis SiYu!

This is the most recent photo we have of our new son, Davis.  He is absolutely adorable and we can't wait to bring him home!

We have been waiting for China's super-duper official approval of us in the form of a document called a Letter of Acceptance (LOA).  This letter says they have reviewed all our documents and that we are officially matched with our new son, whom we are naming Davis.  This is not to be confused with the approval we got from our adoption agency.  Or from US immigration.  Or from the US State Department.  Or the preliminary approval (PA) we got from China.  Or the other approval we need from US immigration.  Or the upcoming approval we need before China issue's of Travel Approval (TA).  Or the final approval in country when adoption is final.

I just found out our LOA was issued.  The big excitement about receiving LOA is that we are allowed to share photos of our new son. 

This is the first photo I saw of our new boy. 

The second picture shown is the picture that prompted us to start another adoption.  See, this was a bit of a surprise adoption.  The hubster and I thought we'd adopt again in another two years or so.  We would save up some money, get the chaos of a new baby out of the way, and let our life slow down a bit before adopting again.

But then I saw our boy being advocated for by an agency.  And logic went out the window.  I knew I wanted to love him forever.  Fortunately, my sweet husband's standard response to my suggesting another child is, "I like kids."

Along this adoption journey, I joined the Facebook group for people who have adopted or are in process to adopt from our son's orphanage.  Once people knew who our son was, I got numerous messages from other families who had seen him when they were adopting their own children.  So many had shared that they had seen my sweet boy and had prayed for his family to find him.  How blessed are we to get to be his family?

One adoptive father had taken a clandestine photo of Davis in his crib when he was adopting his own child.  His wife sent it to me when she found out we were going to be his family.

 Now comes the most asked question in adoption.  When will we travel?  We are anticipating traveling sometime in April.  There are a few more steps of both governments looking over each others' various approvals.  Nothing moves quickly in an adoption, but that sweet boy sure is worth the wait.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Thank you to Hannah -Who-I-Never-Met

My dear, sweet husband made a trip to Goodwill yesterday.  He has been stocking up on gear to share with the people who will be joining him on his annual Boundary Waters winter fishing trip I wrote about here.

While he was looking around he found a practically unused Kelty brand baby backpack.  These things are awesome and usually about $200 new.  Ben picked it up for $7.  Our new boy waiting in China is a fairly little fellow and this will be great for him.  We still have another baby backpack that we will be able to use for Juliet.

This baby backpack is way more awesome than this photo shows.

 This post is not just to brag about a great score at Goodwill.  What was attached to the top of the backpack is the true joy of the purchase.  There was a note attached to the top of the carrier.  Here's what it said:

Hi Neighbors,

Have you any interest in this backpack/baby carrier.  I can't bring myself to giving it to Goodwill.  Just return it to our porch if you don't want it (but I'll cry).  


Sorry your lousy neighbor didn't off your hand written card before sending your awesome baby backpack to Goodwill.

Well, Hannah-Who-I-Never-Met, I hope you can dry your eyes.  I want to you know that this backpack will be taken care of.  Your backpack went to a good home.  We will take good care of the backpack and pass it on lovingly with a heartfelt note (like you tried to) when we are done.

Or, we'll send it back to Goodwill.  You know, one of the two.

Oh, and Hannah-Who-I-Never-Met?  The backpack seems to be missing the rain flap accessory.  Could you stop by your neighbor's house and see if they sent that along with the backpack to Goodwill or if it is still on their porch?  I'd appreciate it.  

Thanks, Hannah-Who-I-Never-Met!