Would you care for a croissant?

09/03/13 - Ryan turns 7!

Ryan's birthday dinner, his choice of an Ethiopian fish dish with injera, was actually eaten the day after these pictures were taken.  His birthday fell on back to school night so consisted of playing with the two girls I watch, opening presents, eating his choice of dessert (my Mom's chocolate fudge), and playing at Gramma and Bompa's for about an hour while Mom and Dad were at school!  
Note that he shaped the fudge into an "R"

Leading us in signing to him!

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Ryan LOVES dress up - he had an apron but no chef hat, until now!

Wonder where they get the dramatics from?

Opening his mail carrier costume

Off to deliver the mail!

John getting in on the fun

Where did this little guy go?

08/28/13 - John Turns 8!

"This is the best day!" were John's words as he headed off to bed on his birthday!  It had been a day of biking riding with friends, his dinner of choice (brats and Italians on the grill), my Mom's chocolate fudge for dessert (his request), birthday phone calls, and of course - presents!!


Note the perfect swirly placement of ketchup and mustard - John has worked hard to perfect this!

Totally staged picture - ha!

"Happy Birthday to John"

Make a wish (his wish was to have Danny home faster)

dramatic excitement over presents!

a new Harry Potter DS game

scientific wizard experiments

What happened to his little guy?

Wordless Wednesday

John and Henson just chillin' after school!

First Day of Shcool

New clothes have been purchased, new school supplies are labeled, a healthy breakfast of scrambled eggs has been eaten, let a new year of adventures and learning begin!!

A Second grader and a First grader!

John never misses a chance for a photo session - he is o my son!

"Look out first grade, here I come!"

May the Lord bless you boys and keep you and make His face shine upon you both.  May your year be one in which you learn many wonderful new things, have fun with old and new friends, are valued and esteemed, thrive to the best of your abilities, and still in wonder of the world.  Lord help me send them on their way each day with words of encouragement and love.  We are so excited to see Your good plans for the 2013-14 school year!!

August Adoption Update

Well first of all, we are still here and have had a super summer filled with lots of adventures: Great America, Wisconsin State fair, play dates and time with family, bike rides, camping, and sleeping in.  (I could add a sentence here about more info and pictures to follow, but with my track record for blogging, I can't make any guaranties!  However, both boys are now in school full day and we are still waiting for Danny to come  home, so the possibility of more time for me to blog is actually pretty realistic! SO stay tuned!!)

As far as "Have we heard anything new about the adoption?" question we are so frequently and lovingly asked, we are unfortunately still in the US Embassy in country investigation wait.  According to our calculations, we are approaching 4 ½ months of waiting in an approximate 3-9 month wait (yes, the wait time has increased).  We are simply praying that Mike and I are able to travel to bring Danny home by the end of the year.  

BUT there are a couple things that can be done as we wait – yeah!  There is a desire within the adoption community and a few members of Congress for the Embassy to work with the authorities in country and begin their investigation process sooner which would decrease the wait time for families to bring their children home.  There is a Facebook group anyone can join even if you are not an adoptive family. This group is simply to show support – there is strength in numbers and the hope is that many voices standing together can make a difference.  Another thing that can be done is writing letters to your federal senators and representatives asking that they support efforts of all agencies to work together and to increase the staff size at the Embassy in country.  I have a general outline for this one page letter as well as the Facebook address so please email (mikeandamy@tds.net)  if you’d like either!

So I write this blog post on the first day of school.  The house is quiet except for a Matthew West song playing and the occasional meow of a cat letting me know they are still here.  I thought it would be filed with the noise of Danny playing and running and discovering.  I will admit there was a tinge of sadness as I put the boys on the bus and walked back into the house by myself. (It wasn't quiet for too long though as I put a Leslie Sansone DVD in and we walked away the pounds for 45 minutes!)  I will also admit then when we realized a few months ago that Danny would not in fact be home by the time the boys began school that the thought of actually having some "me time" was more than a bit exciting!!  While I work from home caring for a friend's two girls, they do not come before 11:30am and I have one day a week off.  Let's just say my house will be the cleanest, most decluttered it has ever been!!

And then there is the fact that God was not surprised by this extended wait time.  I am comforted to know that nothing slips by Him and that He is so much bigger than paperwork and investigations and waiting time.  He is my Rock and my Strength, and ever present help in time of trouble.  I am comforted to know He watches over Danny and knows the number of hairs on his head.  I have enjoyed a summer with just the two boys and all the freedom that allowed. (As I stood in line with them one day at Great America I thought of how much of a challenge it would have been to do Great America with Danny there too.)  I am looking forward to me time and the thought of a really clean and organized house (Goodwill here we come!) and even some time for projects.  But I am so looking forward to the day our agency calls and says "Book those tickets!!"

NEXT STEPS: A bit more fundraising and adoption scholarship applying is needed as Danny remains in country longer than expected - we are trusting God to provide and simply asking for wisdom as to which way to turn.

PRAISE: That God is God and He is in control!!

PRAYER: Thank you as always for your continued prayer, support, and excitement as we wait to bring Danny home!  It is more appreciated than words can say!!  Please pray for Danny - that he would remain happy and healthy and that the Lord would be preparing his little heart for a huge life change as he comes to be part of our family. Pray also for our investigation process to come to a close, that the Embassy would hire more staff and begin the investigation process earlier, and that the voices of concern would be heard by those in Congress.

Boys Photo Shoot

My Mom and Dad still live in the awesome house I grew up in and it just happens to be 3 blocks away from us!  They hosted Father's Day this year and the boys were so handsome, I decided to do an impromptu photo shoot - which, hams that they are, they loved!!!

My Mom changes the decorations on the wrap around porch seasonally and I am not quite sure how come I never thought to take the boys there for photos before.  Doesn't it just look like the porch could be right along side the ocean and the boys could be waiting to wade right in:

Of course we have to make at least one silly face!

A Little While Longer ...

On June 13 we officially reached the seven month since referral wait.  We had originally thought the wait would be about 7 months and that we would be traveling to bring our little guy home this month, but that is not to be.

I am sad but have accepted that the wait is going to be a little longer.  A little longer until I can hold that sweet chocolate boy.  A little while longer until I can kiss his cheeks and tickle his tummy.  A little while longer until he fills the crib in his room and the hole in my heart.  BUT it is also a little while longer I have John and Ryan all to myself and they do not have to share me with someone new.  A little while longer to finish the photo album of Danny's adoption journey (okay, finish might be wishful thinking but I have at least started it - ha!).  A little while longer for Mike and I not to be outnumbered.

A little while longer ...  but life is good and I am blessed.  And today is an okay waiting day.  Now when I get the next update pictures and see how much he's grown since November, it might be a different story.  But I am trusting in God and His timing and His grace and His ability to give me peace.

Great America - Opening Day

We knew we would not be taking our annual trip to Green Bay this year (sad to say this is the first Packers Training Camp we will be missing since the boys arrived home - not to fear though, we will be back next year!)  So we used that money instead to buy season passes to Great America, which is only a short distance from our house.  It will be a great place for Mommy and the boys to visit while Daddy is sleeping on Sundays and some great Daddy and boys time on Thursdays and Fridays (Daddy's days off of work).

Friends took the boys and I to the park last year and to say the boys had an incredible time would be an understatement!!  We know this year will be a blast.

We went for a few hours on opening day - a perfect sunny, spring day!  The first ride we went on was "too slow" according to the boys (which is why Mommy liked it).  So then we headed to the Demon, which Mike and the boys rode twice, once in the front car and once in the back - and LOVED it!  Then we did one of the two kid areas.

The promise of a fun summer!
Waiting for the plane ride to begin - my copilots!

John smiling down at me!

LOVE the poses!

All that's left of the car rides from when I was a little girl - I had fun being a back seat driver!

Getting Ready for Danny - the Crib

In the midst of waiting, we are focusing on the fun that goes with getting ready for Danny to come home!

Mike and Ryan recently put the crib up in the boys' room:

Getting all the pieces out!
Ryan hard at work (can't even tell this is a posed shot - can you!)

All done!
Now lest you all think John is not excited about Danny's arrival and thus didn't want to help put the crib together - rest assured.  He is very excited; however, he was more excited about his new DS game at the moment.

May Adoption Update

Good news – we have moved on to the next step in our journey to bring Danny home!!  

Not so great news – this step is going to take longer than originally thought.  The US Embassy in country will begin an investigation of our adoption process this month.  What was originally a 2-6 week estimated time span has increased to 3-6 months.  (LOTS more adoptions – yeah! Not an increase in staff size – not yeah.)

After the investigation is complete, our agency will make an appointment with the Embassy to drop our paperwork off with them so we can obtain Danny’s visa.  Once we have the visa, the in country agency that issues exit letters (we need this to leave the country), will do their own 1-2 week investigate (a new step), and THEN we’ll be able to book our tickets!!

So all that said, we have no idea when we will be traveling to bring Danny.  We know he will arrive home not a day later than God has planned but of course not as soon as we’d like.  I am encouraged by a good friend who said, “I must need more just me and John and Ryan time.”

I am also encouraged by the following song lyrics from Chris Tomlin’s song Sovereign:
In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

And of course, I am SO encouraged by all our family and friends' prayers, support, and love!  Please continue to pray that Danny stay healthy and happy.  Pray that if it is God’s will, the staff size would be increased at the US Embassy in country.

God is the God of miracles – so we will also be praying for MIGHTY miracles!

Danny's Care Package

Our agency allows one care package to be sent as we wait.  We had a BLAST finding stuff to send Danny (we actually sent it in December and amazingly enough were able to find 3 short sleeve shirts to choose from!).  John and Ryan each chose a shirt and socks.  We splurged on a recordable teddy bear from Hallmark and recorded a "Hello - we love you!" message to Danny so he could hear our voices when he squeezes the bear's tummy.  I made a photo book with pictures of all of us, the kittens, our house, and the back yard, all with captions both in English and his native language (found a great translation web site!). Then we added Superman pajamas complete with cape, two toy cars, and a ball.  We also added some candy cane hand soap (the boys chose the scent), extra batteries for the bear and a screwdriver, and a note to the foster mama.  And believe it or not, I managed to squeeze it all into the child size fire truck back pack!  (Although a couple weeks later in our agency's monthly update, we were requested to not over stuff the back packs - oops!)

Sending some love to our boy!
Our hope as he opened the back back was that he would be excited and happy to see the toys, not too freaked out by pictures of a white American Mom and Dad, and comforted that two older brothers have the same color skin as he does.

We bought two more of the same back back - we'll take one with us when we travel and the boys will fill one with stuff for him for when we all come home.  Hoping that seeing the same back pack will be a calming sense of familiar for him.

Danny Update!

We’re getting closer! 

We submitted another form to the federal government last week and are approximately 4 weeks away from approval.  Once we have that approval we’ll be on to the last step before bringing Danny home!  The US Embassy in country will conduct an investigation and interviews before issuing his visa, which because they have been flooded with adoptions, might take 3-6 month.  We are really praying it will be closer to three months than six. 
NEXT STEPS: Completing two more forms for our agency and getting them notarized and, along with copies of tax returns, in the mail.
PRAISE: That each day we are one day closer to bringing Danny home (and that most days I can look at it that way and not, "Why isn’t he here yet!!??").  Another praise - two good friends offering to host a Cheesecake Tasting Fundraiser in which vouchers will be available to purchase some of my cheesecakes.  All money raised will go toward Danny’s plane ticket!
PRAYER: We would love prayer as we wait – to not be discouraged and stay focused on things we can do here to get ready (put up Danny’s crib, make a list for Gramma and Aunt Sarah of foods John and Ryan like as that’s where they’ll be when we travel.).  We also need to make a decision about travel in the next couple of weeks.  We are 95% (okay, Mike is 110% sure and I am still slightly unsure) sure we want to put would love prayers for the Lord to reveal if this is His plan for us.

America World Adoption Seminar

An America World Adoption seminar is coming to Northwest Community Christian Church in Mundelein, Illinois on Saturday, April 13, 2012 from 10am to noon.  The free two-hour “Adopted by Design” seminar helps families to understand the blessings and the process of international adoption.

For more information about America World or to register, please visit their website: www.awaa.org and click the “Events” link at the top of the page.

Please share this information with those you think might be interested!  And if you live in the Lake County area and your church might be interested in hosting its own seminar this fall, please let me know!!

02/16/13 - 3 years ago today ...

... was the day we got these two little boys!
Upside down glasses boy! - February 2010
I caught one! - February 2010
We had meet them the day before at our agency's Transition House and then went back the next day to take them with us.  So all today we talked about what had been happening 3 years ago - we were shopping before we came to get you, we were driving in the van, Daddy had had his first experience with a poopy diaper (without Mommy there and without knowing what wet wipes were - ha!), John had locked the bedroom door and turned the volume REALLY loud (at the same time as the poopy diaper so also without Mommy there - double ha!), and now Mommy had gotten back and could tell by the look on Daddy's face it had been a rough time.
Meeting for the first time! February 15, 2010 
Watching the video tonight I cannot believe it has been three years and I cannot believe the boys were so small!  What an amazing week in Ethiopia it was!  We are so grateful to America World, our international agency, and so blessed to have spent the week with 7 other families.  Our God's Plan A for us is sooooo good!!!!

Ethiopian Christmas 2013
But it made us want to get on a plane and go get Danny, too.  All in His perfect timing.