Saturday, April 18, 2015

BeYOUtiful T-shirts

I've got a t-shirt fundraiser up and running.  These t-shirts share a message that all girls and women should hear:

The shirts are available in Women's sizes and Unisex size.  Each style comes in 4 different colors.  The Unisex size goes from toddler to adult sizing.  There are two separate links for the fundraisers, I will post them with the pictures of the shirts below.  Each shirt is $18 plus shipping.  There is a flat fee of $5 for shipping, no matter how many shirts (of one style) you purchase.  If you order from both styles, shipping will be $10 since they are technically different campaigns.

Women's Style:

Unisex Style:
As of right now, we need to sell at least 8 more of the Women's style and 9 more of the Unisex in order for the to print.  If we hit the minimum of one shirt, that one will print but the other will not.

Please help us by sharing this fundraiser.  There are only 5 more days left, so place your orders now.

Trip #1, Part 4

My 4th day in country started out with a glimpse of Mt. Ararat from my apartment window. Even the small glimpse that I was able to see was breathtaking. The majesty of that mountain... I was in awe.
That morning I met with our lawyer for the first time. He is a super nice man and full of compassion for the children. He will be working to expedite our case along with the cases of 2 other families whose children really need to be home asap.  Let's hope it works and that all of our children get to come home early!
After the meeting I went to the orphanage. Callie was already with Chance in his play room. When I came into the room she went over and told him that Mama was here and tried to pick him up to bring him to me. Such a sweet girl and helper!  I love her heart. I fed Chance breakfast and then played with the children (Chance, Callie and the babies) for a while. Callie is seriously so much like a typical pre-teen at times. I let her play with my phone (I don't get internet there and it won't send messages/make calls) and she takes pictures, videos and looks at the pictures and videos without needing help. She remembers what is on the phone and will pull up the videos she wants to watch.
Callie had a musical toy that morning and she was pretending it was a cell phone. She was speaking her native tongue and the translator was telling me what she was saying. Basically Callie was pretending to talk to her Papa and told him that Chance, Mama and her were going to go home soon. She said we would take a car home. Oh how I wish it were that easy!
I  was able to eat lunch with Callie at the orphanage that day. She seemed to enjoy eating with me, and watches me very closely. Callie and Chance can both eat a lot! After lunch Callie helped clear the table. She likes to help! During lunch Chance went down for his nap as he became cranky smile emoticon
After our lunch, Callie and I played some more. Then the head Sister came in to talk to me. We had fantastic discussions about adoption and about some of the other children. Then she asked me if I would like to take Callie out of the orphanage for the afternoon. So Callie got to come out with me! I wanted to get some pictures developed and give them to her, so my translator took us first to get that done. Poor Callie thought she was going back to the doctors. She was hesitant to go in the building but she was a trooper! (All day today she kept showing me her arm where they drew blood the day before). After dropping off the photo order we decided to go to Crumbs, a cute little non-smoking restaurant that has free WiFi to see if we could Skype with Jason if he was up. Sure enough Jason answered and Callie was able to talk to her Papa. It was so cute getting to watch the two of them interact. It was not easy to hear but we got the hang of it. Callie kept asking Jason how he was and then wanted to see the dog. They chatted for a while and then when our drinks came she said "finished" and we said good bye to Jason. It was a blessing to get to Sype with him and to see the two of them interact!
After we left Crumbs, we picked up the photos and went back to the orphanage. Any time we go out or come back into the orphanage now, Callie has to show me the dog that lives down the street. She REALLLY likes dogs. That was all she talked about most of the day, dogs! I also found out that when she comes out of her shell that she is quite the chatter box. Her native language skills are still better than her English so the translator had her work cut out for her. smile emoticon
Back at the orphanage we had a birthday party for one of the children. We had cake and soda. Callie knows what Coca Cola is! After the party, we played upstairs with the older children until I had to go. We brought Chance up with us. He was full of smiles and giggles. His laugh is seriously infectious and I adore his smile. I think Callie has already taken on her role as a big sister, she is so sweet to him and tries to be helpful. I can't wait until these two are home!
After the visits, the other adoptive mom and I decided to walk around the city to find a place to have dinner. We had a really nice walk, and it was beautiful outside. On the walk we saw some street performers doing what looked like interpretive Native American dancing (apparently it was Native Ecuadorian), I thought it was odd to see in Europe but was beautiful. The city at street level is beautiful, however when you look at it from above (from the apartment balcony) you see how many crumbling buildings there are. It is such a unique place full of new and old construction. According to one of our translators, many natives do not like the new construction because they are used to buildings being only 5-6 stories tall and most of the new ones are taller.
The other mom and I did a big loop and ended up eating at a KFC tongue emoticon It was actually pretty good.  
That was such a good day, the highlight of course was getting to Skype with Jason.  The next day I would have to take Callie back to her orphanage which was a 2 hour drive.  More on that later...
View of the city from my window

Early morning view of Mt. Ararat from my window.

Closer view of Mt. Ararat (in the background)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Trip 1, Part 3

By the third day I was getting more comfortable with my surroundings and sleeping better.  I was playing more with some of the other children in the orphanage and not just Chance and Callie. There are some super cute kids in Chance's group. They loved the attention and were all smiles!  It is so hard to know that several of them still do not have families.
On the third day of my trip I took Callie to an appointment to have blood drawn.  She sat on my lap to and from the lab center. While there, Callie sat very patiently in the waiting room watching the TV. She was concerned about the needle stick but did very well. Callie didn't cry, she just watched them take the blood.
When we got back to the orphanage, Callie insisted taking us down the alley before going back inside. She said there was a dog back there. Sure enough there was a black dog (chow mix or similar) at the end of the alley in a fenced off area. I guess she just wanted to show me! After we dropped her back off at the orphanage, I went to lunch with the other adoptive mom. We went to a themed restaurant, it was based on an older comedy based in the Caucus Mountains. It was a really neat place and I'm sure I could appreciate it even more if I knew the movie. I had some sort of very flavorful pork and potatoes. Have I mentioned how amazing the bread here is? YUM!!! Oh, and I love the coffee and  lattes here!
After lunch I had my second visit of the day. I fed Chance his snack/lunch (they eat at odd times there) and then took him up to play/watch Barney with the older children and Callie. That afternoon, I made some new friends with some of the older children in the orphanage. They are so cute and many of them try calling me "mama" or "papa." I know that 3 of these children have families currently in the process to adopt them, I hope more families will step forward for these sweet children soon!
While we were upstairs with the older children, Callie was not super interested in interacting with me much (after all she was watching TV!), however, she frequently looked back at me smiling or making sure I was watching her. One of the nannies asked Callie which orphanage she preferred (she was brought to Chance's orphanage for the week so I did not have to travel between the two and could spend more time with both children), Callie said she likes this one, because her mama is here heart emoticon So sweet! 
I had an amazing dinner at Artbridge, the restaurant I ate at on my first afternoon there.  It's a cute little place and the food is very good! I had chicken with apricots and plums with rice on the side. I really enjoyed the food on my trip, and the prices were very reasonable!
Each day it was hard to leave the kids behind knowing that it was one day closer to having to leave them for months.  However, each day that goes by is one day closer to getting to see them again and have them be my children forever!  Chance is such a little man, quite easy going. I think I only heard him cry once or twice while I was there. I love his smile and his giggles.  Callie is a sweetheart and a clown.  She is very smart and I look forward to watching her thrive when she finally gets to come home. Both children are loved and well cared for, however orphanages cannot provide for children the same way that a family can.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Trip one, Part 2

On the second day of the trip I was quite tired! I still was not able to get much sleep, it was fragmented and maybe 4.5 hours total, the excitement, the jetlag... it was all catching up to me.  Funny thing is, what kept me awake was dogs barking all night. Um... I used to live above a kennel... Oh well. Also, the people here tend to stay up late and sleep in, so there was a lot of noise. I was even wearing ear plugs.  Other than feeling tired, my stomach felt much better!  I did however have some respiratory issues in country due to all of the smoking and air pollution but it was not too bad/

For the second day, I was able to go visit the children in the morning and again in the afternoon.  In the morning I fed Chance his breakfast, as I did that and Callie came down stairs and gave me a hug. She was her silly self and Chance was his content self.

Each day I was doing my best to figure out what clothing sizes the children were in.  The problem was that often the tags were not in the clothing.  One day Chance was wearing a 24 month onsie, a 12-18 month shirt and a 6-9 month sweater (they dress the children VERY warm). So, I'm still not sure quite what fits him, I'm thinking perhaps 18-24month when he comes home.  Chance's shoes looked bigger than Claudia's but when I took one off, I realized that he has tiny feet like Claudia and that his shoes were just very big. I'm still pretty clueless on Callie's size as well.

During my afternoon visit on the second day, to get my attention, Callie called me Mama! She is a very sweet girl. She can be a bit rough on Chance but does not mean any harm, she loves him.  That day I also had the pleasure of watching Callie dance.  She turned on the CD player and was dancing along with the childrens songs (in English). It looks like we may have dance classes in our future!  Chance was chewing his spoon, I was told that he was unable to chew yet and is still not on solids. Chance was much more interactive by the second day, he played more with the toys and was throwing/pushing his toys onto the floor.  Callie found that to be pretty funny! At one point Chance started stomping his feet, Callie did not seem to much like his foot stomping while she was watching TV!  She kept pointing at him and his feet with a look on her face like "Mom, seriously, make him stop!  I'm trying to watch TV."  Haha, such a pre-teen!
Chance is still a bit unsteady with sitting although he holds himself up pretty well. He is also just starting to try to stand. Overall, Chance is a pretty easy going boy. He is often happy and laughs when tickled.  I've barely seen him get upset.

I can't wait until the fall when these two can finally come home!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Trip #1, Part 1

Life has been a whirlwind this past month, I don't even know how to put them into words.  But I'll try...

March 14th I left the good 'ole US to embark on an amazing journey to meet Callie and Chance for the first time.  If you've read my blog, you'll know that I have never travelled across the ocean.  I'm happy to report that I made it safely to my destination without any delays and WITH my luggage.  The travel was tough!  I flew from JFK into Abu Dhabi for my major flight.  I discovered that they feed you so much on international flights that it's difficult to get any sleep!  I did doze on and off.  At one point I woke up, looked out the window and we were flying over the dessert.  That was so surreal, a memorable moment for sure.  I did doze off in the Abu Dhabi airport only to wake up and find that my flight was boarding... oops! 

I landed at 2am in my destination city on Monday Morning (6pm Sunday night home time).  My driver was there to pick me up and took me directly to my apartment.  The apartment was very nice and had heated floors, which I soon discovered I was not overly fond of.  They kept the apartment VERY warm (it was in the 50's outside during the day for most of my trip) and there was no thermostat.  The heat made me feel sick to my stomach at times.  That combined with the crazy driving left me feeling ill my the end of my first day.  Thankfully I was OK while I was meeting the children though.

I got a few hours of sleep, then I had to wake up and get ready to go to my meeting to get invited to meet the children.  The in-country team stocked my fridge with enough food for a few breakfasts.  I had ham and cheese on some amazing bread as well as water and yogurt.  The food was very good!  The meeting went well, both children were available (yay!) and I would get to meet them that afternoon.  After the meeting another mother and I went out to lunch where i had some fruit filled, chocolate drizzled crepes. Yum!  Then it was off to meet the children.

Chance and Callie live in different orphanages, however, Callie grew up in the one Chance is in.  Because the two orphanages are run by the same organization, they were able to move Callie to Chance's orphanage for the week.  That allowed me much more time with both children!  I don't think the caretakers understood how overwhelming meeting both children at once would be. They brought Callie right in, no warning. She was quite shy, not very interested in me at first. She had a purse with her and showed it and the contents to me. As she was doing that, they brought Chance in and sat him on the table in front of me... Trying to meet Chance, keep him safe on the table and also trying to interact with Callie was no easy task!  Callie was content to play with her purse for a few minutes. I brought a few toys over for Chance to play with, I also gave them to Callie to play with us. 

I brought out the photo book for Callie to look through, she flipped through the pictures several times while the Sisters had me feed Chance his mashed fruit. This boy can eat and is none too happy if I didn't get it to him quick enough. I was trying to talk to Callie and feed Chance at the same time, that did not go over well since Chance wanted my attention all to himself, since I had the food! I gave Callie my phone and she attached herself to it.  Callie is smart and she figured the phone out pretty quickly. She could get to the camera and photos without a problem by the end of the visit. And she likes to take selfies!

After Chance ate, the Sisters put down a mat on the floor to play on. The three of us sat down on it to play.  Callie was busy looking through my phone and would occasionally interact with Chance and myself.  She was very sweet with him although didn't know her own strength at times.

We played on the floor for a while which made things a bit easier but honestly, it was better when Callie decided she would rather go upstairs with some of the older kids. It was at that time that I got to focus on Chance for a while and play. He is very happy, has the cutest laugh (not all that different from Claudia's) and likes to be tickled. They brought all of the young children over to the mat for prayer time, and then they all played for a little while. Oh how sweet these children are! Several of them climbed right over to interact with us.

 Callie came back downstairs and I asked the Sisters to allow me to spend time with just her.  Chance had to get ready to dinner anyway.  Callie focused much more on me at that point. She came out of her shell and showed me her true colors. This child is a clown! She seriously cracks me up, she knows when she is being funny and silly, and does it on purpose. We took lots of selfies together and she had me take pictures of her making silly faces. By the end of the visit she was very comfortable with me and could not take her eyes off of me. She was pointing to pictures that I brought saying "My Papa, My Mama, My dog." She found old videos on my phone and was laughing at videos of Claudia.

I was able to eat dinner with Callie and spend a good amount of one on one time with her.  She is full of spunk and was hilarious when she broke out of her shell.

That first day with the children was amazing and the rest of the week just got better as they got to know me and get more comfortable with me. 

I wish I could post pictures but for the privacy of the children I am unable to do so at this time.  I'll write more about my trip later...

My welcome food :)

First breakfast in country, so good!

My first lunch, crepes!

And... my first coffee (latte really)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

We Got A Date!!!

Yes folks, you heard that right.  We FINALLY got a travel date for trip #1.  I am beyond excited but certainly nervous as well.  I will be leaving the US a week from today and will arrive in Chance and Callie's country in the wee f Monday morning, March 16th (their time). 

I'm glad we got about a week and a half notice to prepare things, but I really don't feel prepared at all!  We've been waiting for so long to get invited to meet the children and suddenly I feel under-prepared.  I'm nervous about travelling to Europe, the time changes, not knowing the language...   BUT  I get to meet Chance and Callie!!!  For them I will make this trek across the world.

What is this trip for?  The first trip to the children's country is considered the Registration Trip.  It is likely that Monday morning (hopefully after getting a couple of hours of sleep) that I will go to the Minister of Justice to get permission to visit Chance and Callie.  Hopefully by Monday afternoon I will get to visit with them.  Through the week I will have a few more appointments and will hopefully get to visit with the children twice each day.  By the end of the trip I will sign paperwork stating that Jason and I would like to adopt Chance and Callie.  That will officially start the adoption process.  I will then go back home and we'll wait some more.

Once I get back home we have to wait for the Prime Minister to approve us (again) to adopt Chance and Callie.  Once we get that approval, it's back to the US Government to  issue us our I800, stating that the US will allow the children to come here and become citizens.  After a few more dealings back and forth between governments we'll be invited for trip #2.  That will be the pick up trip and typically takes about 21-23 days in total.  The estimated time between the registration and pick up trips is 4-6 months.  If things go well Chance and Callie will be home in the fall.

Please keep me and the children in mind over the next few weeks :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

We keep on waiting.

In adoption the name of the game is hurry up and wait.  You work hard on paperwork, getting everything just right, this takes hours, days, months... and then when you finally get the last piece of paper shipped off to whatever entity needs it, you wait.  Throughout an adoption you do this several times over.  Jason and I have been in a waiting phase ever since early August.  We feel stuck, there is nothing we can do except wait for time to pass.

The good news is that we SHOULD get a travel date to meet Chance and Callie next month.  We've been told that we won't hear from their country until after March 10th but that we could possibly travel by mid-March.  That is not a lot of notice!  In less than a month-or-so I could be meeting the children, finally!  I am getting excited and nervous at the same time!

I can't wait to meet Chance and Callie but the travel scares me.  I've never travelled half way around the world before, let alone by myself.  I came home from Colombia on my own, but Colombia was still in the same time zone as we are in and I did not have to fly into any other countries.  When I travel to Eastern Europe I will have at least two stops and one will be in another European country, possibly with a VERY long layover.  I am not looking forward to the flights.

I'm also nervous about meeting the children for the first time.  I don't know what to expect or how they will react.  I hope that Callie and Chance will understand why I am there and that we will form a bond.  I don't think Chance will really understand much, to him I'll likely just be another random caregiver, but Callie should have an understanding of who I am and why I am there.  My biggest fear is leaving the children in the orphanage when I come back home.  It will be a long 4-6 or more months until I will get to go back to pick them up and bring them home.  My heart breaks for Callie, she is 11 years old, she'll know who I am, but will she understand why I have to leave after only meeting her for a week?  Will she understand that I will come back for her?  Will she be mad at me when I do come back?  Please pray that God would prepare the hearts of my children over the next several months that they would have a smooth transition.

We are still several thousands of dollars short of being fully funded for this adoption, so I am launching two new fundraisers to prepare everyone for Easter and Spring!!!

The first fundraiser is Easter Bark.  This can be made with white chocolate, mild chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate.  For a $20 donation to our FSP I will send you 1lb of Easter Bark.  I make these in 1/2lb batches, so you can choose two different flavors of chocolate if you would like.  The bark is filled with your favorite Easter candies, pictured below is bark containing Cadburry Mini Eggs, Robins Eggs (malted milk), M & M's and sprinkles.  You can choose the candy you would like (I'm thinking Reeces Pieces Eggs sound good!).  The bark does contain coconut oil but I can omit that if needed.  The bark will be made to order.  Leave a message below if you are interested.  (This bark will be $15/lb for local folks).

Our second new fundraiser makes the perfect calorie free Easter gift, Mother's Day gift or party favor! Handmade (by me) Seed Bombs! Each bomb is filled with wildflower or sunflower seeds (your choice or mix and match). You can purchase yours today for a donation to our FSP.  For a donation of $10, you will get 12 Seed Bombs or for a donation of $18, you will get 24 Seed Bombs delivered to you  

These Seed Bombs are easy to grow, just wait for warm weather (if you live where it is cold, like we do, you are READY for Spring!), lightly cover your seed bomb with fertile gardening soil, water and wait for your garden to grow. These are perfect for the roadside or areas that just need a little color.  

These seed bombs do not contain any fertilizer and are safe to handle. 

If you would like to make a purchase or have question, leave a comment below.  All comments are moderated and are not published unless I publish them.