Friday, November 28, 2008

Grateful Thread

We are in Pennsylvania, enjoying visits with extended family for the holiday. It's 8:15am and I'm the only one awake--rare, indeed. Here is this week's installment of my 'gratitude adjustment.' I'm thankful for. . .

1. Western Pennsylvania winter weather. If you grew up in Western PA, winter means something completely different than people from such far away tropical locales as Fairfax, Virginia, where we're lucky to get one or two good snowfalls every year. I always feel like my kids are getting cheated out of quality winter weather, although we are quick to get out the door with our snowshoes and sleds as soon as we see the white stuff falling in VA. Tuesday night we drove through a snowstorm on our way up here, and the kids got to spend Wednesday morning sled riding and building snowmen with their cousin, while snow was actually still falling. They might not get a white Christmas in VA, but at least they had a white Thanksgiving in PA!

2. The 18-wheeler we followed through the snowstorm. If it weren't for this guy's blinking hazard lights and fresh tire tracks which we followed over the mountain, #1 might not be on my gratitude list!

3. Digital cameras. Casey is pouty at best, angry at worst, when it's time for family photo shoots. Between my brother's girlfriend and my mom, they took about 30 pictures yesterday for us, one of which might be salvagable for a Christmas card photo. The rest. . .delete, save for future humiliation, or transfer to disc and forget about them. No wasted film. Now, if I could only become more proficient at Photoshop. . .

4. Turkey and stuffing. 'Nuff said.

And most importantly . . .

5. My family.

Keller and Casey bring me laughter (and ultimate challenges of patience) every day. Watching them learn and grow brings me a sense of hope for the future that I don't believe would be there without them. They are so different from eachother, but each have parts of me and parts of Dave that become more evident as they grow-up. I am always torn between wanting to keep them young and (fairly) innocent, and being anxious to see what kind of people they are going to turn out to be.

Dave has supported me through every goal (a.k.a. crazy idea) that I've set. That's not to say that we haven't had to break out the spreadsheets and flowcharts to work out practical plans for those goals. . .but he has offered me unwavering support and unconditional love on many journeys, including our most recent journey to Marley.

Although Marley isn't here yet, she has brought so much excitement and joy to our family already. We just received an update on her and are thrilled to learn that she is walking now. At 18 months, she was not walking or crawling, which is not at all uncommon for kids in orphanages, but was worrisome to my mama heart none the less. Now, three months later, she is walking and crawling. Time to break out the baby gates and prepare the dogs for another moving object in the house!!

My mom gave me a compassionate heart that is such an imporant part of who I am. She would truly give her last dime to help someone else, even a stranger. She gives so much and never lets a birthday or anniversary pass without sending good wishes to friends, family, co-workers, etc. She is also a big softy. I remember when we would watch my brother's soccer games in high school--he was a great goalkeeper and if his team had a shut-out, my mom would feel so sorry for the other team because they didn't get to score any goals on my brother! A true heart for the underdog.

My dad gave me an ambitious drive (a.k.a. stubborn streak) that drove him crazy when I was younger, but I think makes him proud now. Every time I tell him of a new adventure (like my solo trip to Guatemala last year), he moves quickly from the initial feeling that I'm doing something crazy--to the knowlege that I'm going to do whatever I want anyway--to a sense of pride that I would be brave enough to just do it. My dad and I haven't faced-off in a real argument since my tumultuous teenage years, but I think if we did, he'd hear some of himself coming through!

My sister lived through sharing a room with me for the first 17 years of my life, so she has earned my respect after years of picking up and/or stepping over my messes--both literally and figuratively. She decided this summer that she was going to teach full-time, after graduating with a teaching degree in 1994 and never teaching in a public school. She got hired, is doing a great job of teaching 2nd grade, and has passed her exams to earn her professional licensure. She is managing a full-time job and motherhood better than I could, for sure. Her kids are clean, fed, and their homework is done, which is about all I can manage some days without a full-time job!

My brother is a young-at-heart 31 year old who has more friends than could fit on a fleet of buses. I think they've tried, but the kegs took up too much room ;) He seriously has so many good, close friends who he has shared a lot with over the years. Many are friends he has known since elementary school, which is proof that he is a pretty good guy and worth keeping up a friendship with. He's the kind of guy who has annual fishing trips and beach trips with his buddies that are probably going on 10 or more consecutive years. A guy whose friends are lucky to have him.

Stay tuned for next week's installment of things I'm grateful for, which will hopefully include Travel Approval to go get Marley.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My 'Weekly Gratitude Adjustment'

When you've been stuck at home with two sick kids for. . .oh, I don't know . . . 97 hours and 4 minutes, it is possible to lose sight of the good things in life. The mountains of toxic laundry, the sights and sounds of small children experiencing intestinal distress, and the sinking realization that the health department is going to shut the place down (they've already been here to paint the big black "X" over the door)--all of these things could be considered distractions in my usual quest to stop and smell the roses. Today I found a blog that I really love--funny mama with great perspectives and a sarcastic eloquence that I truly appreciate. She has started including a blog post once a week where she lists 10 things she is grateful for. So, I'm swiping her idea right off her blog, except I'm going to start with 5 things. Hey, don't forget about the sick kid distractions, ok? I'll work up to 10 in time.

Here's my first installment of my 'Gratitude Adjustment' (for the record, that's my own catchy title, I didn't steal that!). This week I'm grateful for:

1. Comfy pants. Right now I'm wearing a pair of Sweet Juliet Boutique brand yoga pants which I found at Marshalls for $12.99. They are like a total lower body snuggly hug. I wish I could wear them every day, and there have been weeks when I've come close.

2. My breadmaker. I've been enjoying the delicious smell of a fresh hot loaf of wheat bread with zucchini for the past hour while it has been baking. My whole family goes ga-ga over the bread. We take no prisoners and show no mercy--the 2 pound loaf will be reduced to crumbs by the end of the night.

3. Dave working at home. He is even beginning to pick up on the giant loud sigh I leave just outside of his office door on particularly tough days. It is not always easy to have him so close but yet so far away in his little 'man cave' off of the kitchen, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

4. The library. Books cost a lot of money, and I wouldn't be able to feed my addiction if it weren't for the good old public library. I usually have no less than 4 books on my nightstand, all of which I am reading at the same time. Well, not technically at the exact same time, but you know what I mean. I typically have one fiction, one non-fiction related to China and/or adoption, one quirky book recommended by a friend, and then usually one that I haven't quite fallen in love with but am not ready to pull the trigger on. Right now my stack includes: "Falling Leaves: the memoir of an unwanted Chinese daughter" by Adeline Yen Mah; "Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder; "The Tao of Willie Nelson" by Willie Nelson, of course; and "Elvis, Jesus & Coca-Cola" by Kinky Friedman.

5. Express shipping. It was the method by which we received our Letter Seeking Confirmation from China last week, and after signing it and checking the little box that said, "We accept the referral of this child", express shipping is the way it has been sent back to the powers-that-be so that we can go bring our little girl home soon. I can't imagine if we had to wait for our paperwork to go on a slow boat . . .Oh, and express shipping has also saved my backside many times when family members have waited until mid-December to provide wish lists for Christmas. (Hint, hint).

Friday, November 14, 2008

And the winner is . . . . Matt Evans!!!

The boys did the drawing today before school and we'd like to congratulate Matt Evans for winning the Wii game console! Thanks to everyone for your generosity in purchasing tickets. The money will be given to Marley's orphanage when we travel to get her, probably next month!!

I'm not sure why, but I can't get the "live drawing" video to post on our blog right now, but assure you that Matt Evans is indeed the lucky winner :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wii tickets have all been sold!

All of our tickets have been sold! We'll do the drawing tomorrow and notify the winner right away. Check back to our blog to see who the lucky winner is!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update on Wii Raffle

As of 10pm tonight, we only have FIVE tickets left to sell. I promised we'd limit the raffle to 100 tickets, and we've sold 95 already! Thank you everyone! As soon as I see that those five tickets are sold, we'll close the chip-in, and we'll do our drawing earlier than the originally scheduled date of November 26th. We weren't expecting such a quick response!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fall follies

We've been enjoying some beautiful weather and many good times with friends so far this fall. The boys really got into Halloween this year (and how could they not get into it--with a Halloween party in the neighborhood, parades and parties at both schools, trick-or-treat night, Halloween parade when we camped in mid-October, etc.). They also ran in the Goblin Gallop 1K race again for the third year straight. Keller decided to wear last year's Venom costume for the race rather than his zombie get-up because he felt that Venom suit would give him more flexibility on the race course. Too cute. Casey ran the whole thing without even slowing down for a second. When we were in the car on the way home, he asked if we were going to go "do the gallop now." Poor guy thought that he'd be galloping a race at some point that day.

We have received a piece of good news about Marley, which is that our file has finally been moved to the office which will issue our "Letter Seeking Confirmation." This is the letter China sends to us to confirm that we are planning to come get Marley. It is the last major hurdle in the process, other than booking our travel. The letter has been held up since the end of September due to a clerical error, which blows my mind. Here we are, ready, willing and able to bring her home and meet all of her needs---there she is waiting in an orphanage half a world away---and the thing keeping us apart is a data entry error that led the registration office to believe we had OVER paid our fees. This has been a trying wait to say the least, but once we have that letter, we'll be cleared to travel about 3 weeks after that. We hope to receive our letter next week. I've started working on packing a suitcase for her (at the recommendation of my wise friend Amy who was quick to notice that I was driving myself insane worrying over tiny details like how many pairs of socks to pack for Marley!).

I find comfort in the belief that the trials and tribulations of the adoption process have laid a really strong base for our relationship with Marley. It is a leap of faith to let your heart love a child you've never met, who is so very far away. I am sure my bond with her will be different than my bonds with the boys, just as my bond with each of them continues to evolve uniquely as they grow.

That same wise friend who suggested I start packing Marley's suitcase also predicted that I was heading for a major meltdown about three weeks ago, and she was right. The meltdown happened Thursday morning and I'm not going to lie, it was downright ugly. But, it felt good to let out a bunch of flat out sorrow and I'm doing fine now.