Sunday, September 30, 2007

Good bye to a great weekend

What a fabulous few days. JB and I concluded our weekend with a night at the bay. JB brought his fishing pole, and I brought Scrubs. Scrubs played for an hour while JB finally agreed to only "four more casts." Scrubs also scared a huge bird silly after he chased him down the beach. He also found a neighbor's dog to swim with for a bit.

As I laid on the sandbar, I couldn't help but think, "We live here. We really, really live here." It is just amazing to me that we live right by the beach -- I mean one block from the beach. It is amazing that I can lay in any body of water in September. Can I do that at any time in Minnesota? (Here's the part where the Minnesotans -- and Ebby -- post and tell me that you can. But I don't buy it. I went to Boundary waters in July folks. And I wore three layers of clothing. IN JULY!)

The only bad thing? Well, for one, I actually started getting chilly in the water as the sun dropped from its peak in the sky. This is a bad sign. It means that there will come a time, in the not-so-distant future, that we will not be able to swim in the water. I was hoping that my Minnesota blood would stand tall and proud, and I would be one of those people that we used to make fun of by whispering, "Must be a tourist. Real Floridians don't get in the water after October." But alas ... my blood is not Minnesotan. It's Florida blood through and through. I will not look like a tourist because, well, the water was cold, and I even tried to talk JB into giving me his dry shirt for the short walk home.

Oh, and one more bad thing. Apparently, salt water serves as an enema of sorts -- if you drink enough of it. Not that I sat around and drank salt water all night long -- but another, shorter, spotted friend of ours did. Poor guy drank two whole bowls of water when he got home to make up for all the salt water that shot straight through him. JB and I planned to run to the grocery store together, but in order to protect everything we own, I stayed home and took the dog out four times an hour. Here's hoping it's all out of his system so I can sleep sweetly.

Have I told any of you lately how much I love living here?

One tired dog (and a nice weekend to boot!)

I owe my friend Heather a lot. Not only did she watch Scrubs for most of the day on Saturday, but the pup was so tired that JB and I barely had to watch him at all on Saturday evening.

Normally, Scrubs sleeps most of the day. Once we get back from our walk at 8:30am, he is usually pretty dopey until about 4:30pm. Well, instead, yesterday, there was way too much going on at Heather's to sleep. As a result, the dog slept almost the whole evening away last night. JB and I sat in the kitchen talking for about two hours while he slept on the couch. Then, he slept straight through until 6am (a rarity!) So needless to say, we need him to play with her dogs as much as possible!

Right now, we just got back from church. Scrubs and JB are hanging out in the front yard where John is working in the flower garden. I am catching up on some work after a week of home study visits and half days at the beach! I'll try to write more later this evening.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day a the zoo

Saturday, we dropped Scrubs off at our friend Heather's house a couple doors down from us and headed for a day on the town! First stop was the zoo in Gulf Breeze, about forty-five minutes west of us. We were connecting with some of the people we have met through our Yahoo group for parents of Chinese daughters. There was one other family that I have been in touch via email with that I was hoping would make it. They have two daughters. But mom got sick, and they couldn't make it. In the end it was us and two other families. One was a married couple with four year Isabella -- what a precocious kid! The other was a single mother and her daughter Aslan. (China has now closed down adoptions for singles so she got in just in time). We had a great time and definitely feel this group is a great thing to be a part of. It gives our adoption a real, tangible, end result.

This is Isabella feeding the ducks

JB feeding "Gabby" the giraffe -- he thought it was great that he could get "Gabby" (also his sister-in-law's name) to eat out of his hand! He said, "Wendi, you have to get a picture of THAT!" :)

Look at that cow's tounge!

Aslan feeding the animals. I couldn't get either Aslan or Isabella to respond to the camera!

After the day at the zoo we made a stop at Target for some things we needed and also some items for another care package for Matt. Then we went to lunch at the Crab Trap. We tried to eat at three other places, but we realized a lot of places around here are closed around 3:00 (the inbetween lunch and dinner time).

It was about 4:00 when we went back to pick up Scrubs. Heather had planned on taking him back to our house and crating him if he got to be too much for her, her two six year old labs, and her two-year-old son Sam. But he stayed with them the whole day! She said he is a great puppy and did wonderfully with her son and the other dogs. (She also has a great fenced-in yard for him to play in -- something we don't have yet.)

She told me Scrubs didn't sleep much while he was there -- he was way too excited by seeing Sully and Ceasar (her dogs). I could definitely tell. Scrubs usually sleeps about 5-6 hours during the daytime hours so no naps was a lot for him. When he came home, he fell out on the sofa! (I also napped with him!)

Scrubs kind of defeats the purpose of a blanket if he only uses half of it. Look how big he is! He now weights almost 40 pounds. He weighed 15 when we first got him.

I plan to watch Heather's dogs this upcoming weekend. I think I am going to try to have them over here, but I can also take them back to their house too if I want. It is such a blessing to have someone who can dog sit for us so we could spend the day out!

Beach day!

Friday afternoon, everyone in the hospital on base was given a "beach day" -- that is everyone who wasn't on an "in patient" rotation. There obviously have to be people who remain at the hospital while everyon else has a good time. Matt and Tiffany came by as did Robyn. Right as we were leaving Cliff and Jodi arrived. I got to play two games of volleyball and relax in the water. It was a GORGEOUS beach day, and the water was, breathtakingly beautiful -- perflectly blue and crystal clear water with a sand bar going out for quite some distance. We even saw two dolphins not too far from shore. Beautiful! JB wasn't upset at all about having some time off from work. He and Matt did some fishing after Tif and I left. When they failed to catch anything to serve their "women" for dinner, they stopped at a fish market. We had some great shrimp and fish!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Ronaldo

It's 10:11 pm. Not too late to wish Ronaldo Ray a happy birthday (since I just read it on his blog, otherwise, nothing new, I forgot.) Happy day friend!

So ... this is what it is like

I am enjoying having a husband who works a regular 40 hour a week job.

John has finally hit upon a lighter rotation -- orthopedics. In fact, he will spend the next 6 weeks on this and two other lighter rotations.

It is, honeslty, quite strange. We get up in the morning and have breakfast together. He then leaves well after the sun has come up -- around 7:00 or so.

Then, to make things even better, he is usually home before 5:00 in the afternoon! How wonderful is this?

Yesterday we drove to the horse stalls here with Scrubs and Matt in Matt's truck. (I asked Matt if he minded Scrubs shedding in his truck. Matt looked at me like I was crazy. "Hence the reason I have a truck," he said. "We are about to fill it with manuer!" Oh yeah, right. Okay. So a little bit of dog hair or slobber isn't a big deal.)

While Matt and JB filled the truck with horse crapola so that they could use this for their lawns (Matt is on a lighter rotation too), Scrubs and I walked around. He loved all the horse smells. As for seeing the horses, both Scrubs and the horses seemed to tolerate each other. There was no barking or neighing -- just lots of curious stares and ignoring going on.

When we got back home, JB made an amazing dinner (pictured below). Photos don't ever do JB's food justice, but take my word for it. It was delicious and uber-healthy! (Yes, I know uber isn't a real word. But it just fit there, okay?)

I'm not exactly sure what we ate, but it was some sort of Mediterranean salad with strawberries and grilled chicken and then some sort of fruit dessert with grapes and canteloupe and honey. (JB ate the tomatoes with cheese -- no thanks for me.)

While John cooked, I went on a quick walk with another neighborhood friend Heather. She has two labs and a son, Sam. The two of us plan on doing some dog babysitting for each other. Afterwards, John and I watched Survivor and Prison Break online (since we missed it on Monday.) We had a wonderful evening!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Our morning walk

This morning I took my camera with on our walk through the neighborhood with Tiffany and little William. Tiffany helped me take a few snapshots.

Here is Scrubs and I at one of two bus stops that we yield at each morning. We were a little early this morning so our three most loyal friends came to visit. They are always there earlier to greet us. Some mornings, there are closer to ten little friends who swarm Scrubs. I've been asking that the kids don't run at Scrubs because he isn't able to handle that much attention and wants to run back at them. This morning the girls did a great job letting Scrubs sit first and then walking up to him more calmly. He didn't pee from excitement so I think this was good!

This picture below is from our friends around the corner. They have four sons and now, their father is home after a four month deployment. We love seeing these signs up in the neighborhood!

We love our 7:30 walks, especially now that it is getting cooler (70's!).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Home study is done dude!

Well, our Home Study is now done!

Yesterday we visited with Amy one-on-one ... first me and then JB. For the sake of my mother-in-law :) I can tell you that she asked us about:
  • our childhood
  • our marriage
  • infertility
  • the decision to adopt
  • how we resolve conflict
  • how we would describe ourselves
  • how we would describe our spouse
  • how we would describe our parents
  • our experience parenting
  • etc.

It was a pretty detailed interview. Right after we were done, we took off to puppy class with Scrubs so I didn't have a chance to update my blog.

Then this morning, Amy met with us as a couple one last time before JB took off for work, and I finished things up with her. During this interview I learned a few things!
  • I learned that we are actually moving very quickly through this paper chase! I thought we were taking forever, but she said we were very quick paper-returners!
  • I learned that, as best she could guess, we could expect a "log-in date" of somewhere in January or February with China. This is when the official "wait time" begins. It is currently estimated at 22 months from "log-in date". So it will be nice to have an official start to our waiting. At this point, I will be very pleased if our daughter gets to join us in this home.
  • I learned that our physician dated our physicals on a different date than when it was notarized. This means that we have to get the physician to redo the sheet and have it re-notarized.
  • I learned that JB's employment letter needs some wording added to its notarization. The notary's stamp wasn't detailed enough.
  • I learned that we do need to get police clearance "certificates" saying we have not committed a crime in this county. (This is funny because it is only for one county! We could have committed a crime somewhere else.) Okay, not really, but still -- what good is a clearance for a county?
  • I learned that it is okay if these clearances are not letters (since I can't find a county willing to provide a letter.)
  • I learned (okay I already knew this) that I still need to get a new copy of our birth and marriage certificates. (I've been putting this off.)
  • I learned that we have to get a $500 home study "update" yearly while we wait for our daughter to join us.
  • I learned that we have to re-adopt our daughter in the US so that she has a US birth certificate. We can skip this, but it could end up making her life difficult as she gets older.

Otherwise, we are progressing nicely. Unfortunately, we did end up having to pay quite a bit for Amy's travel to the Home Study.

I am doing my best to continue to just handle one thing at a time and not look to closely at the big picture. If I look at all the things, I get overwhelmed especially when you add to that my own jobs and other responsibilities. We are excited to be a bit closer to the day our daughter joins us.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reflections on Being Adopted by God and Adopting Children

Someone posted this on my blog. It's John Piper's sermon on adoption. You can read (or listen) to the entire sermon here: Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory. Thank you for sharing!

One thing that has been on my heart is introducing everyone to the wonders of adoption. Even if you have your own children, you can include adopted children in your home (or help support children who are orphaned).

Here's a quick summary of this sermon! It's really a fascinating piece.

Rev. Piper had three main reasons for giving this sermon:

1. that all of us would consider and embrace the wonder of our adoption into God’s family through Jesus Christ, and
2. that all of us would support the ministry of adoption through the Micah and Lydia Funds financially, and (He picked this fund but we can all pick another fund as well)
3. that many of you married couples would consider adopting children into your family as an overflow of the inheritance that you have in Christ from God, your Father. My assumption is that we need to understand and enjoy our own adoption by God before we can properly understand and enjoy what it should mean to adopt a child into our family.

He goes on to explain that:

1. Adoption Is From God
2. Adoption Is Through Jesus Christ
3. Adoption Is for God’s Glory

Now, consider five implications of this for adopting children and for supporting those who adopt by contributing to the Micah Fund and the Lydia Fund.

1. We adopt a child not for our own glory but for God’s glory.
God adopted us for the praise of the glory of his grace. Therefore we adopt for the praise of the glory of his grace. The questions you ask as you ponder adopting a child who needs a family are not first questions of feasibility or affordability. The questions you ask first are: Is my heart fixed on glorifying the grace of God? Is my aim in this to make the grace of God look glorious? Is Christ the center and goal of this decision? Are all the factors being weighed in relation to Christ? We adopt a child not for our own glory but for the glory of God’s grace.

2. In adopting and rearing a child our goal is not to make much of the child, but rather to live and teach and lead in such a way that the child grows up to enjoy making much of God.
Our aim is not to take a child’s low views of self and replace them with high views of self. Rather our aim is to take a child’s low views of God and replace them with high views of God. Our aim is not take a child with little sense of worth and fill him with a great sense of worth. Rather our aim is to take a child who by nature makes himself the center of the universe and show him that he was made to put God at the center of the universe and get joy not from seeing his own tiny worth, but from knowing Christ who is of infinite worth. We adopt to lead a child to the everlasting joy of making much of the glory of the grace of God.

3. In adopting we model for children and others the mercy and the justice of God.
We model mercy because we freely choose to love this child, no matter what. Many adoptions happen sight unseen. The child passes no test. He is loved freely without meeting conditions. We don’t base our choice on what we see. We love because we have been loved. This is mercy.
And when the child comes, chosen freely by mercy, we now fold that child into a pattern of firm and sweet discipline. We fold him into the mercy of justice. From the very beginning, within weeks, there are expectations and consequences when these expectations are not met. We raise the child in “the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (paideia kai nouthesia kuriou). And we know from Hebrews 12 that the discipline of the Lord is often painful because without discipline there will be no “peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). So we see in adoption the mercy and the justice of God mingled in wise and loving proportion.

4. Adopting will almost certainly bring heartache and stress and suffering, just like adoption cost God the life of his Son.
We are adopted “through Jesus Christ”—through his suffering. I have letters from parents in my files describing the agony of adoptions that didn’t work or almost didn’t work. Cases of mental illness and profound physical disability and bizarre and inexplicable behavior. Of course this is not unique to adoption. It can happen—it does happen—with our biological children. The implication is this: we adopt with our eyes wide open. This will bring pain. And this may bring tragedy. We embraced it. And, if we are faithful, in the end, it will certainly bring joy. Because of implication #5:

5. We dare only adopt children if we have a firm faith in the all-sufficiency of God’s future grace.
The pain of adopting and rearing children is sure. It will come in one form or the other. Should that stop us from having children or adopting children? No. The self-centered world “cuts their losses” by having few or no children. (And there is way too much of that thinking in the church.) In one sense we may be very glad that such people don’t tend to have children or at least not many children. Because it means that breed of selfish person will die out more quickly since they don’t replace themselves. But on the other hand, we grieve, hoping that they will see that the grace of God is sufficient for every new day no matter how difficult, and that there is more true joy in walking with God through fire, than walking on beaches without him.

1 down, 2 to go

It is 6:55am, and JB just left! This is amazing! He was here when the sun was up! Wow! He starts a new rotation today -- Orthopedic Surgery -- word is JB wants to be just like his role model, Dave. (Okay, just kidding. I mean, he would like to be like Dave, but he doesn't want to be a surgeon. At all.) But the next two weeks are supposed to be a very nice rotation for John! Yay! It will be wonderful to have him around more.

So our home study went great. Amy was very nice, and the questions were very easy. I know my mother-in-law would want to hear the exact type of questions that were asked, so let me see if I can reflect properly.
  • Why did you choose to adopt?
  • Why did you choose China?
  • What do you feel about your daughter's birthparents? (What kind of sterotypes do you have about him/her/them?
  • Have you been around children at all?
  • Questions about our home? Which room would we give the child? Etc.
  • Are you ready for the adjustment issues you might face? (I actually learned a lot here. Like if you give the child timeout, you should do it near you becauase they fear abandonmnet. Also, the child will probably want to sleep in your room -- many parents let them in their bed to battle the loneliness. Rumor is they often regret this decision.)

That was really about it. She met Scrubs who got so stinkin' excited he started dribbling on the floor again. I think I have decided he MUST be OUT when guests arrive. If he has to wait to come out of his kennel to meet them, he just can't stand the excitement and ends up peeing on the floor. Well, at least she knows I can clean up urine well.

Anyways, this happened during the first few minutes she was here. During the last few minutes, I accidentally left the laundry room door open, while JB was getting a map out of the car to help Amy find her hotel, and Scrubs got out and was playing in JB's tilled dirt in the front yard. Amy actually found him and dragged him in! Oh well. At least she knows we are human. I kept talking in very kind tones to the dog while silently saying a lot of nice things. Didn't he know we were trying to impress her?!

But, seriously, it was a good visit. Today, I will meet with her for an hour just me, and then JB will meet with her an hour just him. I will, of course, update you.


Monday, September 24, 2007

House is clean!

Well, after JB woke up from his nap, he took Scrubs to the dog park in Niceville so I could get some cleaning done -- uninterrupted. I just got a call from our social worker telling me she was running an hour late, but since she isn't supposed to be here until 6:30, I couldn't figure out what she meant. Then I realized. She thought we were eastern time zone! This meant that if she wasn't running late, she would have been here in like 10 minutes!!! Yikes! John is still at the dog park, and I'm still in my t-shirt and shorts. So, it's a good thing she is running late! Everyone seems to think we are EST since we are in Florida, but no, we are almost in Alabama. We are CST!

Anyways, since I cleaned so much, I thought it a good time to show you some photos of our house. Nice and clean!

Newly decorated guest room!

Our bedroom

Flower bed outside

Home Study day #1

I feel very confident that tonight will go fine. Amy should be here to do the home study, stage I, around 6:30pm. However, so far today, things haven't exactly gone smoothly.

For one thing, JB didn't get any sleep last night on call. This means that he is trying to sleep now while I work and try to keep the bird, the dog, and the Wendi, quiet. Good thing for our solid walls and ear plugs. (This also means that he needs the house sooo cold. I end up freezing while I work.)

However, when Scrubs kept barking in his kennel for ninety minutes, I finally went it to see what the problem was. The dog had cut his foot.

That meant I had to wake JB up an hour into his sleep. There was no way I could objectively look at his foot without JB's help so out he came one hour into a midday attempt at catching up on sleep to tell me that in fact the cut was pretty superficial but that I was right to get him up because it did look worse than that. At the same time that Scrubs was bleeding all over the kitchen, he lost a tooth and started bleeding out of his mouth too.

Sigh ...

So I'm trying to get some work done before I spend some more time trying to clean up the house, excluding the bedroom of course so that JB can try to get some rest. I think he is going to take Scrubs to the dog park for a bit later this afternoon so I can really scrub the floors and vacuum.

I'll be sure to update you all on the home study soon!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Home Study Q & A

It is Sunday. I am at home, catching up on work, while JB is on call the entire day. Sunday call stinks! He left this morning and won't be home until Monday morning. Hopefully, if he sleeps tonight, we'll get to spend some time together on Monday. If he didn't, he'll sleep all day Monday.

Yesterday was a fun day. It has rained most of the weekend due to this tropical depression that swung near us. As a result, we couldn't walk Scrubs. So instead, we played hide-and-go-seek in the house with him in the morning. He loves this. One of us hides and he finds us, gets a treat, and then plays it with the other person. It also teaches him to "come" so that's good. Our dog teacher suggested it. Later in the evening, when the rain had died down for a bit, we went to the beach and played Frisbee. Scrubs is now catching the Frisbee in his mouth sometimes which is quite exciting. He just loves the water. Of course, that meant a bath when we got home. He's getting better about baths.

Yesterday, I posted about my home study. My mother-in-law posted a question about this:

Wendi, do you actually know what she is going to do-maybe someone who has gone thru this has given you some ideas? Does she just pretend to not be in your home and observe or does she interview you about your meal plan/diet, television preferences and the like all day?Or does she just act like a friend visiting and hang out? And will she be there all day for the three days or come and go between your home and the one in Tallahassee?

So, she will spend a few hours with us tomorrow evening. Then she'll get a hotel. On Tuesday she'll interview each of separately for about an hour. Then she'll go back to our hotel. Then on Wednesday, another short meeting with the two of us.

I have been seeking advice from others on my online support group. Here are some of the comments I have received. Some of these are from my friend Amy (her link is on the side). Amy always knows what to do!

  • I wouldn't be concerned with anything else. They just want to see where you live so they can vouch for you and feel confident you have a safe home. Safe doesn't mean baby-proofed at this point, but I suppose they don't want to see 20 cats and smell cat pee, or see roaches crawling around, your porch falling off your house, or your neighbors smoking crack out in the street. I don't think you'd have a problem with any of those.
  • Our caseworker also wanted to know that we knew where the nearest hospital was, what schools are in the area, and had a fire escape plan for our home. A fire extinguisher is a good
  • investment, and smoke detectors in each bedroom are a must. Even if they aren't yet installed, know whether you'll need to put one in somewhere.
  • The social worker asked about us, how we met, what we believed, what we thought our parenting styles would be like. Lots of questions in an interview fashion. It was very relaxed and comfortable.
  • I agree with the previous will clean like you never have before! I remember our SW coming for our domestic adoption and she didn't even want to see the baby room! I insisted that she take a look *lol* I bet she was amused...last year we were where you are right now...pursuing adoption from Haiti and also on the waiting list for domestic adoption.
  • Oh yeah, I showed our caseworker our GARAGE! lol Like she cared! She was like, "Oh, that's nice."

So that's just a few bits of advice. I'm sure she'll look at the house, we'll talk, and then she'll go. I'll know more afterwards and definitely update you all.

I hear they also check on your pets. I hope Scrubs behaves and doesn't jump on her head like he did to me last night while I was on the phone with Kelsey!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Home Study is a Go!

Well, it's official. We are doing our home study next week. In fact, it looks like we will be doing our entire home study this next week. The study is usually three visits, but because our social worker is travelling from Orlando (and meeting with another family in Tallahassee on the way) she is going to do all three visits at once. She asked if we'd rather her just do two and then we could meet halfway later for the third. We said we'd rather pay her room and board and do all three since who the heck knows when JB would have time do drive halfway to Orlando. So Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday it is!

So, I've been getting advice on Hannah's Prayer, my online support group. Basically the bottom line is, we are supposed to be ourselves and just show her that we have a safe home to raise a child in. So that's what we'll be doing. Being ourselves. Of course, that doesn't mean I am not going to clean like crazy. Or as crazy as I can with this cold making me have to sit down every few minutes.

So it should be an interesting week. I'll keep you posted!

On Adoption:

I don't know who posted this on my blog, an anonymous post in the comments, but thank you. I don't think anything could have more perfectly captured where my heart has been with adoption after infertility.

On Adoption: Deciding to have a baby is like planning a trip to Australia. You've heard it's a wonderful place, you've read many guidebooks and feel certain you're ready to go. Everyone you know has traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip.

So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for a ticket to Australia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia. It seems there is no seat for you; you'll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait--and wait--and wait.

Flights to Australia continue to come and go. People say silly things like, "Relax. You'll get on a flight soon." Other people actually get on a plane and then cancel their trip, to which you cry, "It's not fair!"

After a long time the ticket agent tells you, "I'm sorry, we're not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat."

"By BOAT!" you say. "Going by boat will take a very long time and it costs a great deal of money. I really had my heart set on going by plane." So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. You wonder if Australia will be as beautiful if you approach it by sea rather than air. But you have long dreamed of this wonderful place, and finally you decide to travel by boat.

It is a long trip, many months over many rough seas. No one pampers you. (Isn't that the truth!) You wonder if you will ever see Australia. Meanwhile, your friends have flown back and forth to Australia two or three more times, marveling about each trip.

Then one glorious day, the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite than you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many wonderful friends during your voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who also traveled by sea rather then by air.

People continue to fly to Australia as often as they like, but you are about to travel only once, perhaps twice. Some say things like, "Oh, be glad you didn't fly. My flight was horrible; traveling by sea is so easy."

You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia. Still, you know God blessed you with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not in the way you get there, but in the place itself.

By Diane Armitage printed in the April 21, 1995 "Dear Abby" column.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Quick bits of life & a trivia at the end

So this blog will be fairly random for sure. First, some photos Kristi sent me of Logan and Raylee at Logan's recent birthday. How cute are these?!

Many, many, many of you have asked me how Kristi and her family are doing. I talk to Kristi pretty regularly, and they are doing as well as can be expected. I think, like most families, they need even more prayers now, when all the activity has started dying down. So please continue to include the Hartleys on your prayer list. I'll keep reminding you -- just in case you may think of forgetting!

I also wanted to share the most exciting news of the week! My nephew Nathan got a haircut. I've been teasing Gabbi that this has really been needed. If you don't believe me, check out Gabbi's blog yesterday: Nate's Haircut. Bravo guys! He looks, as Grace would say, "GWATE!" (I love the way my niece Gracie talks -- too cute.)

Gracie called and left a message on our phone after she received her birthday present (which we sent a little bit late but better late than never.) I think I may never delete that message and just listen to it anytime I am having a rough day. "Thank you for my pwesent. I'll talk to you waiter ..." I love her little voice! She's the sweetest niece EVER!

I also wanted to link to Joia's recent post with a photo from their dinner at our house the other night. However, her blog wasn't titled and therefore I couldn't figure out how to link to that post. Can you link to a title-less blog? I do not know! Anyways, so, I decided instead to steal a photo from her blog which I know won't bother her since we sort of have a "free stealing agreement" that is mutually understood. Hear is JB holding Keenan while the three remaining adults ate Joia's delicious oreo pie (JB is eating healthy and therefore only had a few bites of pie! Too bad for him! More for me!)

It was great to have Phil and Joia over as we haven't had dinner with just them yet! It was also good as Keenan has been sick so she has had to keep him away from all the other kids. Since we don't have kids, it was a perfect night to connect with them. Not having children does come in handy sometimes!

I am also feeling very blessed that my great, wonderful friend Tiffany called last night and offered to take Scrubs on his morning walk. Her parents are in town, and her dad volunteered to walk William while she walked Scrubs! I think I am going to take her up on this offer since I just feel pretty stinkin' lousy this morning. I have managed to walk him the last two mornings despite how badly I felt because thinking about what a crazy dog he would be without a walk made me think otherwise. But this morning, I am going to opt out of my walk and let Tif trot him around the neighborhood.

John has been taking Scrubs out at night and said that he is meeting all the kids I have been telling him about. He said three little girls came running out of their house when he passed by telling him, "We know Scrubs! We were the first ones to know Scrubs!" and explaining to John that they were allowed to play with him. The only bad thing about all this attention is that when all these little kids start running at Scrubs, he gets so excited that he uses the bathroom. It's the only time he does it and the kids ask if he is drooling or peeing. I try to ask them to stand back and let Scrubs sit and don't come flying in at him, but they really don't know how to do this. Again -- I've got to get a photo of this! (Not the peeing but Scrubs with the kids.

All right, that's enough randomness for one post. I do want to end with a bit of trivia though that my mom shared with me. The average person does this 70 times a day! Anyone have a guess?!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I am afraid my daily existence is quite boring at the moment. Probably too boring to be worth too much of a blog. But just so that I keep you up-to-date, here are the trivial facts of my existence.
  • Continuing to work 20 hours a week for my job at Mayo.
  • Continuing to work 20-30 hours a week for my job at RLSF.
  • Currently have a cold or allergies or something yucky that is really wiping me out.
  • Continuing to go on a 3 mile walk every morning at 7:30 with Tiffany, William and Scrubs.
  • Usually go on a 3 mile walk every evening around 5:00 with Scrubs. JB will sometimes go with me or sometimes go instead of me.
  • I redecorated our guest room. It looks great! I need to take a photo and share it with everyone.
  • JB finished up his month long nursery rotation this week. He will then be doing ortho which is supposed to be a nice rotation time wise.
  • JB is on call on Sunday. He'll be gone as of 7am Sunday morning and won't return until Monday. Bummer!
  • We have plans to go to the zoo on Saturday with the Northern Florida "parents of Chinese children" support group. However, with how I am feeling now, that will be a no go. Hopefully I will feel better soon.
  • My neighbor around the corner, Heather, has two labs. She and I are going to be swapping out pet-watching services. If we go to the zoo on Saturday, she's going to take care of Scrubs. I have plans to watch her dogs in October.
  • We are hoping to get a hand-me-down fence from someone on base so we can fence in our backyard. Apparently housing can help with these hand-me-down services.
  • The fridge guy came and fixed our fridge today. It was leaking pretty badly. Calling these maintenance people is pretty snazzy! They come fast, and I don't have to pay or worry about any of it.
  • We need to get a pest control service here. One thing I do not like about living in Florida are the bugs! Yuck! Everyone here struggles with this so I know it isn't just me.
  • My bird is chirping a lot lately.
  • I watched Kid Nation last night. Anyone else see this? Pretty interesting show -- 40 children left in charge of themselves.
  • I watched the season premiere of Prison Break on Monday. I love that show.
  • Survivor China starts tonight. Pretty cool they are in China, huh?
  • That's the bullets of my boring life!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Well today is a day that I really don't feel like doing much of anything. My allergies have kicked into full gear, and I feel really icky. Fortunately, I have some flonase and claritin from my last round of this in the medicine cabinet (which is actually a shelf in our linen closet, but you get the idea). I asked JB if I could take this and he said it is exactly what he would prescribe anyway so that's good. I'm struggling to get through the day. We have Bible Study tonight, but I plan to pass on it and just try to rest. Hopefully these meds (and lots of prayers) will kick in, and I'll feel better soon!

There isn't too much else to report on except for the fact that it looks like our Home Study will begin next week! I spoke with Amy, our Coordinator on the phone today, and she said everything is in place to move forward with this. JB starts ortho next week which is supposed to be a very easy (in comparison) two week rotation. So it should be a perfect week to do this!

This morning I went for my usual 7:30 walk with Tiffany, and her parents joined us as they are in town visiting for the week. When we arrived at the bus stop where Scrubs stops each morning to get pet by about 6-10 second graders, Tif said I really need to get a picture of this. So I'll try to bring a camera on our walk one time and take a photo of this scene. Walking with Scrubs is quite an adventure. Not only do we go at 7:30, but we also go around 5:00 as well. He's very popular in the neighborhood and kids will come running out of their house to pet him. He loves it! Some days we don't make it very far on our walk due to the amount of people we stop and say hi to. Scrubs loves all the attention and as soon as we round that corner and the bus stop is in view, he starts panting and pulling as hard as he can to get to those kids. All of them tell him to sit at once, and he has no idea who to listen to.

Okay, off to do some more work. I'm also waiting for the maintenance people to come and fix our fridge. It's leaking water. If you think of it, pray for my allergies. These symptoms are stinky!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Air Force

On Sept. 18, 1947, W. Stuart Symington was sworn in as the first secretary of the Air Force with the new Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal in attendance. After many years of planning, an independent air arm was formed, an equal to the Army and Navy. Based on achievements in air superiority, the Air Force became the "first line of defense" in a post-war world. Shortly after taking office, Symington said: "In this day when a powerful counterattack is America's only real answer to aggression, there can be no question that we need the world's first Air Force. It is only through the global, flashing mobility of the Air Force that we can hold our counterattack poised ... we feel, with deep conviction, that the destiny of the United States rests on the continued development of our Air Force."

Ten faults

The story is told of a couple at their golden wedding anniversary celebration. Surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, the wife was asked the secret to a long and happy marriage. With a loving glance toward her husband, she answered: "On my wedding day, I decided to make a list of ten of my husband's faults which, for the sake of our marriage, I would overlook. I figured I could live with at least ten faults."

A guest asked her to identify some of the faults she had chosen to overlook. Her husband looked a bit troubled at the thought of having his foibles and flaws revealed to the assembled group. However, his wife sweetly replied, "To tell you the truth, dear, I never did get around to listing them. Instead, every time my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would simply say to myself, Lucky for him that's one of the ten."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hospital lullabies

John told me that Eglin's hospital is considering playing a "lullaby" every time a baby is born. You may have been at a hospital that does this. They ring a bell or play a song every time a baby is born. JB actually had a conversation with the officer in charge of this process. He said it was a great conversation -- that he felt he should be honest with her about how implementing this would make him feel, make me feel, and make other families feel. He said she was very open to the discussion and respected him for sharing his feelings.

I am, quite obviously, against ringing a bell or a playing a lullaby in a hospital. if I were pregnant and going in with my own baby, I would feel the exact same way. At the moment I am delivering my baby someone else may be losing their's. Or they may have lost their mother or found out their pregnancy didn't make it to term or their artificial insemination was negative.

I know many of you may disagree with me -- arguing that a baby's birth is a wonderful thing and the sadness of a few shouldn't dictate playing down the happiness for the many. I agree that a baby's birth is wonderful. However, from the beginning this blog has been about education. Someone recently told me that it seems like "everyone now a days is struggling with infertility." I don't really think the numbers are that much higher (although women waiting longer to have children contributes to infertility.) The fact is, more people feel that they can talk about it! People do not talk about infertility. People downplay this pain.

However, when 1 in 6 couples are struggling with infertility, that means that 1 to 2 women out of every ten sitting in the hospital will be in pain when this bell rings or when the lullaby starts playing. 1 in 6 is a high number! If someone told you that you had a 1 in 6 chance of dying having optional surgery, would you do it?! Of course not! That number is incredibly high!

I cannot imagine how I would feel if while I was in the doctor's office getting my IVF results I had to listen to lullabies playing. I think this is a BAD idea. If you haven't been touched personally by pregnancy loss you may disagree but just for a second imagine that you didn't have your own children that you have now. Imagine instead that you had lost those children either prior to birth or after birth. Now imagine being reminded every single time a baby is born that you have lost your own. No sir'ee. BAD idea.

Anyone agree? Or disagree? I'm open to opinions (and you know me -- I don't get offended.)

Say it ain't so ...

I have something to admit. It's horrible. Tiffany helped do my dishes on Friday night. I have a rule at my house that no one helps do my dishes. But Tiffany would NOT take no for an answer! She was more stubborn than Tara and Lesley combined!!!!

I told Tif this would not make my previous "no you cannot do my dishes" recipients very happy.

Former recipients ... how do you feel about this?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wide awake at 1:30am

I wasn't wide awake at 1:30am. But our dog was. Silly puppy. He woke up at 1:30 and starting barking. When he starts barking, we have to take him out as he will pee in his kennel if not. He can't hold it more than about 5 hours unless he sleeps through having to go. Dogs will NOT pee in their "crate" if you are crate training them unless their bladder is going to burst. But after five hours, he is at burst-potential.

So I take him out. Put him back in. He keeps barking. So John takes him out. He goes to the bathroom again. Then he starts barking again. Thinking he is having some stomach issues (which we would prefer he has outside), I take him out again. (I figured it was my turn). He goes outside and begins running in circles. At 1:30 in the morning! Are you kidding me?! Then he lays down in the grass. Just lays there.

This ticked me off slightly. Silly puppy pulled a fast one on me. He didn't need to go to the bathroom. Just wanted to play. At 1:30! After that we put him in and left him in as he barked himself to sleep.

He has been sleeping through the night quite regularly. Well "through the night" means that he sleeps until about 4 or 5am before his bladder can't possibly hold anymore.

I think I mentioned that we have started "Puppy Kindergarten" classes. I hesitate to tell people this lest they think we are some rich snobs with a precocious puppy. I think that if I would have heard of people taking their dog (prior to owning own) to some sort of class I may have labeled them as such. However, these classes are quite common and recommended in any book and on any website. Most dogs learn most of what they are going to learn by six months of age. So they need to be socialized to other dogs and taught good behavior early on.

This class was great! Scrubs was actually quite advanced. She had us work on "sit" and "down" which he has already mastered. We also worked on "leave" and "come" more which he knows but only does when he thinks he will be handsomely rewarded. She also taught us how to do "roll over." (Important when the vet needs to see his stomach.) The other, major thing we learned is that we should not have to leave him in the laundry room when we leave unless we are going to be gone for more than five hours. (We have been leaving him in there if we are gone for just a few hours, and he has chewed some of the baseboards up quite nicely.) So we are kenneling him all the time now. So far, no accidents.

We are also trying to train him to ring a bell when he needs to be let outside. We are at the very early stages, and it will probably take awhile to master this, but we have heard from a lot of people that it works very well -- especially for Dalmatians who don't bark much. Scrubs doesn't bark much at all. He only barks when in his kennel and wanting to get out or when John is home, and he wants John to play with him. He also barked at an armadillo running across our lawn the other morning. I don't know if I have ever seen a real, live armadillo. I told Matt and Tiffany that we saw an armadillo, and they asked me if I killed it. Apparently these rascals tear up your lawn pretty nicely.

Scrubs will sit by the door when he has to go to the bathroom. But if I am not watching him, he will pee. So that's a bit difficult. Hopefully the bell will help with that.

It's hard to find a bell to buy when it isn't Christmas time. Tiffany and I finally found one, but it took quite a bit of looking.

(A picture just feel off my office wall! Scared the crud out of me.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bomb scare

By 4pm on Friday, I was done with work for the week. Tiffany was heading out to Target, and I decided to head out with her. We thought we might drop off our car at the hospital in case John got home early, he'd have a ride home. But when I called JB, he informed me that I wouldn't be allowed to drop any car off at the hospital nor come into the hospital. In fact, the hospital had been evacuated due to a mysterious looking box, and only physicians doing in-patient and their patients were still at the hospital.

This didn't give me incredible comfort. When a building has been evacuated, and your spouse is left inside of it, this doesn't exactly bring a wife at home a lot of comfort. John actually wasn't sure Tif and I could even leave base, but we could, and we did, and two hours later he called to say that the mysterious box was actually a box of fake breasts used to help teach breast feeding techniques, and in fact, all was safe and we could pick him up. Geeez!

John also decided while I was taking Scrubs for a walk, to go grocery shopping. He invited Matt and Tiffany over and made some Thai food. He has been very frustrated by the lack of Indian and Thai grocers here. He may actually have to order the materials for Indian food online. It's quite frustrating after the great grocers in Minnesota. Oh well. Another reason to go back and visit good ol' Rochester. The picture below was from last night.

Saturday has been filled with good fun. Matt and JB decided to go fishing so Tif and I did some impromptu scrap booking with movies! Very fun. Tonight, all the interns are getting together over at Eric & Andrea's. It's been a great weekend made even greater by the fact that the doctor JB was working with him gave the entire two days off! Awesome!

Friday, September 14, 2007


Scrubs, me, and William

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Thank you

I don't know who posted this in the comments section but thank you, thank you, thank you. I needed this.

Mommy, I don’t know you yet, and you don’t know me. I’m not even a little person yet, not even conceived … just the “whisper of a tiny angel”. But, God already knows all about me. He knows what I’ll look like, what my giggle will sound like, the facial expressions I’ll make, and what my favorite things will be. Most of all, He’s really excited about the day He has planned for us to meet … when He will start writing my chapters in the story of your life.

He is already taking care of me … From the very beginning of time, He planned for you to be my Mom. There will never be even a second of my life when I’m unwanted or unloved, because He and You already want me, and I’m not even born yet! What an amazing thing!

I don’t yet have a voice, but if I did, I think I would try to reach across time and tell you how excited I am to be your daughter, and that I am as impatient to meet you as you are to meet me. God has each of us in our special places right now until just the right time, and when that time comes, it will be perfect. Waiting for you in His hands,

Your baby girl

JB is a stinker (flashback)

There has been a conversation going on in the comments on a previous post between my Tante Jan and my mother-in-law about JB's childhood antics. I actually did a whole post on this entitled JB IS A STINKER after he convinced me that a bell I heard was all in my head. Click on that link to read about some of the childhood (and grown-up good) behaviors of JB. Please add one in the comments of that post if you know one I didn't include as our friend Deanna did.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Yesterday was a little bit of a crazy day.

Just before I was getting ready to leave my house for my friend Jodi's house for brunch, Jodi called. A couple women couldn't come, and that meant four of us driving across town to Jodi's when Jodi could easily just come to our side of town (one person driving as opposed to four). We decided to do a last minute flip-flop, and instead, the brunch was held at my house. This was actually nice for me so as I didn't have to take quite as long off from work.

Around 4pm, Tiffany dropped her son William off at my house for about 20 minutes. Being the great wife she is, she wanted to run up to the hospital and fill her husband Matt's truck up with gas so he didn't have to do it when he got off at 8 or 9pm. He doesn't have a car seat in his truck so she needed to leave William with me for a few minutes. As she was leaving she told me that if JB happened to get off early to let her know, and she could pick him up. (Remember, John and I only have one car so if I want the car during the day I have to take him in.) I appreciated this offer but knew there was no way JB would get off that early.

I was wrong. A few minutes later John called. He had gotten off nearly two hours early! Yay! Tif picked him up, and we had enough time to sit down and have dinner (I cooked) and go for a walk (with the dog of course) before heading to Bible Study.

We are pretty sure we have decided to attend this new church that meets right outside of base. I think the name is Crossroads? I can't ever remember the name as they just changed it and I keep wanting to call it the old name even though I never went there when it was named the old name! How pathetic is that?! Anyways, the home fellowship meets every Wednesday night just a few miles outside of base, in Shalimar.

Last night during the study I realized that out of the six couples in the room, four of us had dealt with some very difficult infertility situations. One couple had a daughter but a bad delivery resulted in a hysterectomy, and they had adopted their second daughter. Another couple had lost three children, the last one at 26 weeks after a hard fight for life. They still do not have children. I believe another couple who has two grown sons dealt with repetitive miscarriages as well. How amazing is that? I have prayed for a group that I could get support and not feel like the only woman in America who can't schedule her pregnancy like she can a vacation and then we end up in this tiny home fellowship far from alone in this journey. God is always faithful! This is the same church that has probably a half dozen families who have adopted both domestically and internationally including the pastor and his wife who, after raising two children, adopted two more mixed race children.

Anyways, this made me feel wonderful. As I have mentioned previously, I am doing sooo much better with infertility. A new dog and a new medication regimen (Ummm ... not taking any!) has really helped my outlook and emotions, but there are still hard moments, hard days, and tear filled experiences where I covet what I don't have.

I am so blessed that the Lord has brought JB and I to the same place with adoption. I had often worried that John would not have his heart in this as much as I would. I always felt it was easy for a mom. You are home everyday with the child and bonding can come easier. But what if JB didn't bond with this child like he would our own, biological child?

If anything, things have flip-flopped. I am still struggling "dreaming" about being a mom. JB on the other hand is reading books, doing research, and talking about our daughter all the time. I wandered into the baby section of the BX the other day intent on buying something to hold onto for the future, but I still couldn't do it! I lasted about 15 seconds! I know it sounds dumb, but for some reason it is sooo hard for me. John on the other hand would probably be the one ready to decorate a nursery right now. He talks of our daughter often and prays for her and her family. She isn't born yet .... but John tells me he thinks of her often. And I am getting there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to my niece grace and goddaughter Logan Rae! Lots of little people very excited about aging today.

Adoption autobiography

Our home study requires both John and myself to write an autobiography detailing a long list of "life events". The entire document is quite lengthy, but I thought I would include some excerpts from my own autobiography -- finally submitted last week. Please remember that this was written for our home study and for us personally -- not originally to be shared. But here it is, nonetheless.

Growing up in South Florida as the oldest of two children, I had a fairly “storybook” like life. I was raised in a good Christian home. I attended a good Christian school. My parents were good Christian parents. My brother Keith, who was two years younger than myself was a typical younger brother. However, despite our normal sibling disagreements, we were both good kids that refrained from getting into any “real” trouble through adolescence. I feel unbelievably blessed to have been raised in the home that I was. I learned the value of money and quality time. Today I am incredibly close with my parents, my brother, and his wife.

My parents were foster parents themselves, and my little brother “John” is still someone I look back on with fond memories. In addition, we had a young African American mother and her daughter move in with us for an extended period of time while they tried to get back on their feet financially. I remember my brother and I willingly shared a room during this time without question. I was instilled with the value system that as Christians, we should care for the widows and the orphans. As John and I married, we also willingly opened our home to those who have fallen on difficult times. We learned to never turn people away.

My husband John (whom I call “JB”), meanwhile, was growing up in a very similar environment. The second oldest of six children, his family was also living in a house filled with love and the Lord. In fact, it was at that good Christian school that we met. While I was actually in the third grade when he first transferred to Fort Lauderdale Christian School, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I talked him into falling in love with me. He was a year older and his graduation took him to a nearby technical college on a full scholarship. We continued to date while he pursued a career as a graphic designer.

I grew up surrounded by athletics and had my pick of colleges and universities to attend on either a basketball, volleyball, or combination scholarship. I settled on basketball at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. After my second year of college, John was awarded his Associates Degree and decided to move to Kentucky so that we could end our long distance dating. He drove to Kentucky with what fit in his car and one month’s rent. He quickly found a job as a graphic designer for a local design firm.

Before my senior year of college, we decided to get married. We had been dating over four years at that point and despite our young ages (21 and 22), we had no doubt that we had found the perfect life partner. We had a modest wedding in Kentucky and settled into a comfy townhouse.

Over the next five years, our lives would go through a substantial number of changes. I took a job teaching high school English and journalism and coaching basketball and volleyball at a public high school about 30 miles from Bowling Green. A year later, we decided to move to that tiny town of 8,000 to eliminate my commute. The business John worked for went bankrupt, and he decided to open up his own graphic design business out of our home. He also made the decision during this time to go back to school while running his business. In 2003, he would be accepted at the prestigious Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, and we would move there so that he could pursue his dream of becoming a physician. He would also be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force – a reverse GI bill of sorts that would pay for medical school.

We moved together to Rochester, Minnesota in 2003. I took a job teaching and coaching again while John began medical school. In 2004, I decided to change careers and began writing and editing for a non-profit organization and a cardiovascular researcher at the Mayo Clinic.

In June of 2007, we moved to Eglin Air Force Base in northern Florida. My husband began his internship in family medicine. I continue to work for the same two companies from my home. I work full-time writing and editing.

Both John and I are in very good health. My only health issues have been related to our infertility. I was diagnosed with PCOS and any medication I have taken was related to attempting to correct this problem or pursue infertility treatments.

I am unbelievably blessed with the husband the Lord picked out for me. John is my best friend. We have a wonderful and healthy marriage and enjoy spending time together immensely. I would not change my spouse for anything in the world. Quite honestly, the biggest conflict we have had during our nine years of marriage surrounded adoption. I felt I was ready to adopt only a year or two after we started infertility treatments. John did not feel I was ready for this. We handled this disagreement the way we always do – choosing to move forward only when both parties are on the same page. We meet in prayer and just asked the Lord to bring us to the same point at the same time. We had no doubt that He would do that.

I am, without question, incredibly satisfied with my marriage. I view marriage as a forever thing, and there is no doubt that John and I are together “until death do us part.”

It was in Minnesota, however, that our marriage and very being as Christians was shaken to the core. John and I had, quite honestly, had a life that went exactly according to plan. We married our high school sweetheart. We both were awarded full college scholarships. Despite some rough times financially during our first two years of marriage, we were completely debt free and enjoyed opportunities never available to us as children. Our relationship, our marriage, our college, our jobs, our lives . . . had gone very smoothly, and we considered ourselves truly blessed. We loved each other deeply and were the best of friends.

But it was in Minnesota that we decided it was time to start our family. And it was when we decided to start our family that we realized our life wasn’t going to take the direction we had envisioned. We spent the next four years in doctors’ offices dealing with the infertility. Five artificial inseminations, four attempts at IVF, and thousands upon thousands of dollars later, we were no closer to the family we had always dreamed of.

John and I had often talked of adoption. Even prior to our infertility diagnosis and prior to our marriage, we had shared the dream that we wanted to fill our house with children that didn’t have a home. We always said they could be any race that the Lord wanted. We dreamed of a big farm where we could give a home to children who didn’t have one. However, neither of us envisioned that that home would only include adopted and fostered children. We always thought our own biological children would also fill our home.

As the infertility journey pushed onward, we spoke of adoption periodically, but still had the idea that it was a “Plan B” – something that should be pursued after we had our own children.

During the spring of 2007, John and I made plans to go to Nigeria for a four week mission trip. It was during the preparations for this trip and during our time in Africa that we realized adoption was not “Plan B”. Adoption was Plan A! We both realized that we could love a child unconditionally even if they were not our child biologically. And we could accept the fact that our home many not include biological children. We continue to pray that we may someday be blessed with a biological child as well; however, we believe that all of our children will be loved equally no matter whose womb they grew in.

As we started discussing where we should adopt from, we never really considered domestic adoption. Growing up in South Florida, we were used to a melting pot of cultures. John’s family was the only Caucasian family on his block. My family went to an extremely diverse church and all of my friends at church were a conglomeration of races. We also knew that white children were in very high demand. There were so many couples that were intent on only adopting white children. We both felt like we should “save” the white children for couples that wouldn’t adopt any others. We, on the other hand, were quite okay with children who didn’t look like us. We had very dear friends in Minnesota who were a mixed race couple: he was born in India, and she was white. We would watch their daughter once a week while they attended foster parenting classes. One night, while Karuna was sitting on JB’s lap, passing gas and laughing hysterically, we both looked at each other at the same time, acknowledging that if this were our daughter, we could fall in love with her without question – despite the fact that she looked nothing like us and was not related to us biologically.

The next step in our adoption journey was picking an agency. I had heard about Steven Curtis Chapman and his adoptions through America World early on in our infertility journey. One stop on their webpage and I knew this was where we should go. John felt the same way. It was an instantaneous “perfect fit” for us. Once we picked America World, we then decided to pick the country we would like to adopt through. Our decision to go with China was two-fold. One, we liked the idea of adopting through a country that had done this many times – a country that might decrease the risks of facing a disappointment. We also thought that adopting through China would allow us to more easily find other couples and families who had “done this before” and could support us with advice and encouragement. In the future, we hope to adopt through other countries, however, we thought that China would be a good first step in our inclusion of other cultures into our family.

It is actually our hope that through the support of other people who have previously adopted through China, that we will be able to find support and encouragement for potential issues that may arise with our daughter. We want to present our daughter with a love for both her new culture and the culture she was born into. John and I love to travel! We have been to Africa and to Europe and all but a few of the continental United States. We have always been intrigued and fascinated by how “other people” live and the beauty of their country. We have no doubt that we will return to China with our daughter at some point in the future.

We have only been in Florida for a few months but have already been connected with two different families who have traveled similar roads. We have found a support group in the area as well and an online discussion forum. I believe that if we seek out the proper advice and encouragement, we will be able to successfully navigate the adoption concerns that may emerge. We know there will be “issues”, but we believe that while we don’t know what we are getting, we wouldn’t know what we were getting with our biological child either. We must just trust the Lord and walk one step at a time.

Both John and I have extensive experience with children. John was the second oldest of six children. In fact, he was sixteen when his youngest brother Rob was born. He jokes that he has changed more diapers than any father in America. I think this is probably true.

I grew up around children. I babysat extensively and worked in the nursery at church every week. Everyone who knew me called me the “mother hen”. I talked often about my life goals: to be a wife and a mom. That’s all I have ever wanted to be. John and I actually “fell in love” working at a summer camp together. We also have, subsequently, watched all of our friends begin starting their families. While we know we have a lot to learn, we know that we will be very good parents.

John and I feel that we can offer a child a fantastic home. In June, we relocated to a new community in northern Florida. We now live in a 1500 square foot, 3 bedroom home with a yard, and plenty of room for children on Eglin Air Force Base – a community that is extremely safe and guarded. We have one little puppy, a Dalmatian we call “Scrubs”, that we purposely purchased now, so we could train him well prior to the arrival of our daughter. We have friends throughout our neighborhood. We recently found a church we believe we will call home as long as we are here in Florida. One of the main things we loved about this church was all the internationally adopted children in the mix. At least five families, including the pastor and his wife, have adopted children of another race. And this is a small church of only a few hundred. As this is a military community, there is a large amount of diversity. There is also a large Asian culture as many military men have found their spouses overseas. We are not sure how long we will be a part of the military. John’s commitment will be at least through 2011. This will mean at least two more significant moves. However, we feel that the military community will be the perfect community to support our family and the daughter we hope to have join our community.

We are more excited that words could express to meet our daughter and to be parents at last. We know that we will blessed and our daughter will be blessed, and we cannot wait to meet her.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reality of living here (and not in Minnesota)

I've been on Eglin Air Force Base for over three months now. I've been feeling a bit homesick -- just missing my life back in Minnesota.

Today, I got an email from a coworker (thanks Angela for reminding that leaving Minnesota was a good thing) back in Minnesota. I remembered why I was glad to leave. The weather in Minnesota is currently:

Angela actually said it was 49 when she came into work this morning. Okay, so read 'em and weep folks. The weather in Fort Walton Beach this morning:

I also always take the time to check the weather back in my former home towns. Bowling Green looks okay:

But Fort Lauderdale? That's a tad warm for September. Unfortunately, the weather never really seems to look different! Here's the result from a Fort Lauderdale weather search:

The results of my findings indicate to me that I am very happy where we are! Loving it here (but still missing everyone I knew in Minnesota).


This is a picture of me on July 1st of September 11, 2001. I scanned this from our scrapbook. This is on the ferry heading to see the Statue of Liberty.

It would be just over two months later that these towers would no longer exist. I wrote about where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2001 on last year's post so I won't redo those memories, but needless to say, I doubt there is an American who doesn't remember where they were on that day or how their life was changed.

Remembering that there are thousands of families even more impacted than I was today.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Okay, okay, I'm back!

So Justin says I lose because I posted those pictures of Scrubs. Maybe I did, but folks, it was so funny we couldn't help but take some pictures and post them.

Also, who was the commenter who wrote the poem about me not blogging? Someone has to claim that one. I'd say it was my Dad as he is infamous for his quick quip poetry. But I don't think my Dad reads my blog so it couldn't be him. Anyone? Anyone?

Scrubs was being CRAZY yesterday. He was just going bananas running laps throughout the entire house. I say "laps", and I mean "laps." He just runs around the living room, down the hall, through the kitchen, and repeats. Over and over again.

Suddenly his collar wasn't clanging, and we didn't hear him running into the walls anymore. I wandered into the kitchen when I heard some whining. We found the pup ON TOP of his kennel. We have NO idea how he got up there, but one thing was for sure. He has NO idea how to get down. It was so funny. Normally, I am the picture taker, but this time, JB went scrambling for the camera. We made Scrubs wait for help until we took the photo. So that's what those are below.

Sunday after church and lunch with our new friends Dave and Jen W. (they have two biological sons and then an adopted daughter, Hannah, from China), we headed home to do some cleaning up. Our guest room is looking great! (All the more reason to visit folks!) John also cleaned out his fish tank and is finally ready to get that up and going and making our house even more of a "zoo".

I had the good fortune of dropping a very heavy battery recharger on my foot. You know you hurt yourself when it is bruising even before you have time to look at it. After Scrubs nearly brought me to my knees in tears (okay so he did bring me to my knees but I did hold back the tears) by stepping on the exact same spot, I spent the rest of the evening on the sofa with some cold peas keeping me company. John wasn't positive I didn't break my pinky toe or the bone leading to my pinky toe, but we decided to wait until this morning. Sure enough, my foot is still black and blue but feeling much better this morning -- so it was probably just a nasty bruise.

This week is a busy one for us. Tonight we need to run some errands, Tuesday night is our first night of puppy classes, Wednesday is Bible Study, and Thursday night is a new monthly "wive's club" outing. The wives have decided we need some "non-kid" time. Since I am already kidless, I definitely agreed! So we are going to try to get together once a month for a book club type get-together. Should be fun! We'll also get together for our weekly lunch/brunch on Wednesday.

Okay, that's a long enough work break. Gotta run!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Somehow he got up (but he can't get down!)

(more on this tomorrow since I can't say anything today)

I have nothing to say

My cousin Justin told me I would never have the courage to just get on here and blog:

I have nothing to say today.

But it's true, so there you have it. And if I say anything else he'll probably tell me I didn't actually fulfill the "dare".

The end.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Late, late Saturday

The first part of the weekend has again been wonderful, and again I am so blessed to have my husband home. He did have to work a half day today, but you learn to be so thankful for small blessings -- like a Friday evening, Saturday evening, and all day Sunday together.

Last night we went to a pharma dinner in Destin. It was, as we imagined ... wonderful. The food was amazing! Today, as I mentioned, JB went in to work for awhile while I did a few hours of work and some scrap booking. I also got to catch up with Lesley on the phone. Man I miss her!

John came home and laid down for a nap and as he got up, I went out. I went to the scrap booking store in Fort Walton (it's a nice one -- even had some Africa stuff) and Target to get a nice comforter set for the guest room and some goodies to put in a care package for Matt. I realized when I was out that this may have been the VERY first time since we moved here that I have gone out somewhere -- other than to lunch with the ladies -- by myself. I'm either working, JB has the car, or I'm picking him up, but never actually just spending time solo. It was very fun! I even bought myself a few pairs of shorts and a shirt. I'm really having to revamp my wardrobe from moving to a new climate and losing the weight I lost in Africa. After JB saw how much money I actually spent in 3 hours by myself, I think he is discouraging me from doing it again.

When I got back, we took Scrubs to the bay for a good swim since he needed a bath. If he goes in the ocean, he has to have a bath to get the salt water off of him. Apparently it is bad for their skin and Dalmatians have very sensitive skin. He probably could have gone and retrieved that frisbee another fifty times. He just loves it! He won't retrieve the frisbee on land. He just chases it and sits down and chews it. But he loves to do it in the water.

We had a late dinner at home and watched a movie -- The Sentinel. Not too bad, but nothing spectacular. First half of the weekend has been awesome!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Paperwork and puppies

The paperwork we finally compiled which will hopefully get our Home Study underway! I mailed this stack today.

It's Friday, and I have managed to avoid an impending cry for most of the day.

This morning I dropped JB off at the hospital so I could have the car. He has to be there at 6:15 so it's an early start. Scrubs loves to get in the car so we have a good morning activity to start the day with.

I needed the car so I could run to the post office. We finally got all our paperwork together to send to the Home Study agency in Orlando. You'd think that would make me feel better, but I only felt more overwhelmed. I got an email from the main office in Virginia telling me that our birth certificates and marriage license aren't official. They have to been issued in the last year, and then they have to be certified by the state. This means that I have to contact Kentucky (marriage license), Florida (my birth certificate), and North Carolina (JB's birth certficate). I have to pay for and request new licenses so they are less than a year old. I then have to somehow, and I am not sure how, get these certified by the state.

I also found out that JB's employment letter, which has now been redone two times (and notarized two times), has to go through a third draft so that it states that he has "dependent employment." Our family coordinator said we could leave this out and not get it redone; however, we risk China rejecting the letter!

I know everyone told me to take this paperwork one day at a time, and everyone told me it will get done, but it seems so daunting! It just seems like so much. And then I start feeling sorry for myself. Biological parents don't have to do this?! Why do I?! I know that's a stupid thing to feel, but I feel it, and it feels frustrating.

So let's move on to brighter things. Tonight John and I are going to a "pharma dinner". These are fancy dinners put on by pharmaceutical companies. All the physicians get invited, however, spouses aren't invited. So how come I get to go? I'm a medical writer!!! That counts!!! Yay!!! So we get to go get a nice meal together in Destin. Should be fun.

Anyways, in other news, Scrubs is doing really well. I have taken a few pictures of him sleeping. You'll notice some rough spots on his skin. He has a genetic skin condition that he will hopefully outgrow as his immune system gets stronger. JB gives him some liquid medication each evening (after he gets sleepy so he doesn't know what is going on).

But you'll notice these pictures are taken in my office. (Or if you didn't notice, I'm telling you.) Scrubs is spending more and more time around the house with me during the day as his bathroom behavior gets more and more reliable. He follows me everywhere and since he is usually only really active between 5 and 8 am and pm, his behavior during the day is pretty mild.

He still struggles to communicate that he has to go to the bathroom. The last two nights he has gotten very "bad", nipping and barking like crazy. Both nights we thought he was just having a hyper-attack and put him in his kennel only to have him have an accident. How stupid can we get!? We soon realized that he was trying to tell us he wanted to go out. He doesn't want to go in the house, but we have to communicate between the two of us better! Anyways, here are some pics of Scrubs taking a nap while I worked.