Thursday, December 10, 2009


Sorry I haven't blogged very much lately. We've been a little "busy". In the past couple of weeks Caedmon has:
  • cut his own hair
  • broken my friend's large floor vase
  • attempted to fill up his wooden puzzle with pee-pee
  • poured a water bottle down a bookshelf
  • dumped a new bottle of baby wash down the sink at a friend's house
  • taken off his bedding (including the vinyl protective sheet) to pee and poop directly on the mattress
  • poured a bottle of face wash astringent on top of his head
  • required us to call Poison Control on two different occasions
  • broken a Christmas present we bought for a friend, and
  • stopped taking a nap.
I hope you understand my absence from the blogosphere.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Home Study is Done!

I wanted to give you a quick update on where we are in the adoption process. Andy & I have completed ALL of the paperwork and it is just sitting on my desk, notarized and ready to be sent to Ethiopia once we get approval from Immigration Services. From this point on, there is really nothing we can do to speed up the process. I think we gathered all the documents at a record-breaking pace, but now it is up to several different agencies to process, review, and approve everything.

We completed our interviews for our home study this weekend and our social worker has written her report. Now the home study has to go through an approval process from our adoption agency and our home study agency. That should take a week or so. Then we send the finalized home study to Immigration Services and the wait begins.

Customs & Immigration Services (CIS) is, in essence, looking to see if we are capable of supporting an immigrant, or if that immigrant would become a burden to society. They say the approval process can take up to 12 weeks! That's 3 months! WHAT?! Seriously, our packet would take about 30 minutes to read front to back. Not sure why in the world it would take that long, but I'm hoping that they're bluffing and we'll get it back a lot sooner than that. If there are any other adoptive families that are reading this blog, I would love to know how long it took to get your CIS approval.

Once CIS processes our request, they will send us a date to get fingerprinted (again). This will be the 3rd set of fingerprints needed for the adoption. Our fingerprints will be processed and we will be given some type of letter signifying that we are able to bring an immigrant back to the United States with us.

At that point all of our documents for the dossier will be sent to Sacramento to be certified. And finally, we will send the completed dossier to America World (our adoption agency) who will review each document for any mistakes and then ship it off to Ethiopia!! From that point, I believe the wait for a toddler boy is 5-7 months.

So, I'm writing all this, one, to give you an update, and, two, so that you would pray with us about this approval process. I'm not worried that we won't be approved. I'm just concerned that it could take FOREVER if it gets stuck on the wrong person's desk this holiday season. Please pray that God would put our paperwork in the right people's hands at the right time and that we would be able to avoid any unnecessary delays. The length of time it takes to process this paperwork could have a dramatic effect on how quickly we're able to bring our son home.

Thanks so much for your interest, support, and prayers!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thankful in All Seasons

Yesterday at South Bay, the staff put together a very meaningful interactive teaching experience. Each of the four pastors made a video regarding different elements of thankfulness. In between the videos there were worship songs, communion, and a chance for each person in attendance to participate by writing down what they were most thankful for. Each person had a couple sticky notes and were encouraged to write a prayer to God expressing to Him what they wee most thankful for. Then, during a song, each person brought their sticky note to the front and put it on a huge poster.

This morning I had the privilege of reading what each sticky note said. It was interesting to see different people's perspectives. Some people were clearly thankful for the bounty of God's blessings: great job, financial security, loving family, etc... Others, on the other side of the pendulum, thanked God for sustaining them during difficult times, providing for them during unemployment, comforting them through the loss of a loved one. More than one person wrote that they were thankful that God has continued to love them when they turned their backs on Him. The thought that crossed my mind was, "We have a reason to be thankful in every season of life." Whether well fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want...

The sticky note that grabbed my heart was the one that said, "If I could write down everything You've done for me this year, there'd not be enough paper in the world to hold it." Don't you feel that way, too? I know we've all got struggles in our lives and some of us have had more difficult years than others. But when you stop to think of all you have to be thankful for, don't you find yourself overwhelmed with gratitude? Speechless in the presence of the Giver of every good and perfect gift?

I'd love to hear something that you're thankful for and how God has provided for you this year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

This is a delicious and simple Pumpkin Cake recipe to try this holiday season. It is always a huge hit when I make it!

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1.5 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1.5 cups pumpkin
2 cups flour

Beat together. Pour into a greased and floured cake pane. (I use a bundt pan, but it's also very beautiful in two or three circle pans that you can stack once baked. Bake @ 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. (Cook time depends on the type of pan you use.)

1 cup soft butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Wait until the cake is completely cool to ice.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Swine Flu Survivor

I am of the belief that everyone who survives the Swine Flu should receive a Metal of Honor...or at least a Certificate of Achievement. I am proud to announce that Caedmon and I have valiently battled the H1N1 enemy and have emerged victorious. Though we still have lingering symptoms of a cough and congestion, we are fever free for the first time in 4 days. But let me tell you, it was a long time coming! I haven't been that sick since childhood when my mom was there to care for me. This time, not only was there no Mom to care for me, Andy was out of town and I was the "Mom" taking care of my own sick child.

We had all the typical symptoms: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, ear ache, nausea, etc. But Caedmon had a strange symptom where his eyes swoll up really big. I took a picture of it to document it in case I needed to show the doctor. Please note that Caedmon is not smiling in these pictures because he is happy. He was crying right before I took the pictures but was smiling in the picture because he didn't want me to take the pics and was trying to get away from me.

The doctor said that his eyes were swollen as a result of the virus and just to give him Benadryl. The swelling came down within 24 hours, but then came back again yesterday. I guess it will just take time to run its course.

My all time low came on Friday afternoon when my temperature spiked to 103.8. I think my temperature went so high because I used every ounce of energy I had to take Caedmon to the doctor that morning and my body didn't have anything left to fight the virus. Caedmon and I were both napping and I woke up feeling absolutely horrible. When I took my temperature and realized how high it was, I got a little scared. I don't know a whole lot about medical stuff...just enough to know that 103.8 is a really high fever for an adult and bad things could start to happen if it went much higher. Knowing that I was home alone with Caedmon made it all the more scary for me. I started thinking things like, "What if I pass out or go into shock and no one is here to take care of Caedmon?" He was sleeping peacefully in his room so I just left him in there. I drank a bunch of fluid, took some more medicine and my fever started to slowly come down.

Thankfully, Andy got home that night. When he walked in the house he said, "It smells bad in here!" Needless to say, Andy has never come home to such a disgusting house. There were dirty dishes and cups every where,  medicine and thermometers scattered about, DVDs all over the floor, dirty clothes, blankets, pillows, etc... Not exactly the type of homecoming I like to give Andy. I told Andy, "As you can see, we didn't make progress or even maintain around here while you were gone. It took all the energy we had just to survive." He said, "Well, I'm glad you did that!" and he graciously got to work straightening up the house and caring for us.

While it was really difficult having Andy out of town, I felt so loved and supported by our friends out here. I want to thank Lina, Cindy, and the Santos family for bringing over food, medicine, smoothies, and DVDs for us. And thank you to everyone else who offered to help or prayed for us. I'm not sure what we would have done without you!

My sleepy boys.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Paper Work Pregnancy Continues

I am up to my ears in adoption paperwork, but I'm making a ton of progress. I've completed virtually everything I can get done by myself and I'm just waiting on some documents others are getting to me. Here's a list of things we've done over the past two weeks.

1. Personal History Form (for both Andy & me)
2. Signed Releases of Information (2)
3. Certificate of Identity
4. Financial Information Forms (one for home study/ one for dossier)
5. Guardianship Form
6. Reviewed and signed Discipline Philosophy and Policy
7. Education Agreement
8. Receipt of Complaint Resolution
9. Both Andy & I got two set of fingerprints done
10. Employment verification for home study
11. CIS Cover Sheet
12. I-600A document
13. Medical insurance/ life insurance/ disability insurance info gathered
14. Copied last 2 years of tax returns
15. Printed last 2 bank statements
16. Wrote Application Letter to Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs
17. Wrote Letter of Non-Employment (for myself) to MWCA
18. Ordered/ Received an updated copy of my birth certificate (who knew those things get outdated?!)
19. Sent Post Placement Commitment to home study agency
20. Made copies of Andy & my passport
21. Had 2 passport photos taken
22. Prepared Family Photo Pages

1. Andy's birth certificate to arrive
2. Our marriage certificate to arrive
3. Physical exams for both of us (scheduled for Friday morning)
4. 3 letters of reference to be written and returned to me
5. Policy clearance letters (to be attained and notarized on Friday)
6. Andy's Passport Photos (to be taken Friday)
7. Notaries on lots of document (Friday)
8. Need to complete 10 hours of "education"

On Friday I will have all of the necessary documents to be sent to our home study agency. They will then begin the review process, interview us several times, and write a report. Once the report is written and approved, I can send all of my dossier documents to be county and state certified. Then our adoption agency will review the final product and ship it off to Ethiopia.

I'm not sure how long the process listed in that last paragraph will take. At that point, it's really out of my hands. However, I feel like gathering all of the documents has gone much more quickly than I anticipated. We mailed in our application to AWAA on October 5, one month ago. We heard back from them 2 weeks later, and now I'm almost done with my end of the paperwork! (The end reward of this adoption process is highly motivating to me!)

Once the dossier is sent to Ethiopia, we will begin our official "waiting" for our referal. I heard this week that the typical wait time for a boy toddler is 5-7 months. Wow! I am getting super excited!!!

Below are the pics I sent in for our Family Photo Pages. You have to have one of the outside of where you live, one of the room in your house where you spend the most time, and 6 family shots.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Pics

Caedmon REALLY enjoyed Halloween this year. He dressed up as a train conductor. We visited a few friends' houses and then ended up at the Lockett's house where we had soup and handed out tons of candy. Handing out the candy was definitely Caedmon's favorite part. He loved seeing all the other kids' costumes. He stood by the door the entire night!

Caedmon with Rebekah & Capo.
Poor Capo hated his squirrel costume, but he was pretty darn cute!

Caedmon handing out candy with Marissa

Caedmon handing out candy with Mommy

Caedmon was SUPER wound up when we got home that night. Way too much candy! The result was him stripping down naked and running around our house screaming, "I'm Buzz Lightyear!" (Sorry, no pictures of that one.) He did not fall asleep that night until 11:00 PM! We were ever so thankful that Halloween coincided with the time change this year and think that the government should mandate it so that happens every year!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

Last Friday we had such a great time taking Caedmon to a local pumpkin patch with the Santos family. The highlight of the day for Caedmon was getting to ride a pony. He LOVES riding ponies and no longer wants me to stand beside him. Even on the carousel he didn't want me near him. He is growing up!!

Who's doing all the work here?

A very intense young man.

Cailyn rode with me while Filipe tried to calm hysterical Lily.
Once Lily calmed down she actually had a great time!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Home Study is Underway

Last night when we got home from our small group, our "Home Study" packet (for the adoption) had arrived. I was amazed by the size of it! I flipped through it briefly, but decided I should head to bed before my head started spinning.

Today I completed the (8-page) application to be mailed in tomorrow with the application fee of $250. I also scheduled a physical for Andy & myself, made an appointment to get our fingerprinting done, and mailed in a form to Caedmon's pediatrician for her to fill out.

Caedmon and I dropped off a packet of documents for AWAA at the post office today. I believe I may get to know the postal workers very well over the next 6 months as I will have made 3 trips there just this week!After the post office, we headed to the park to play for an hour in our beautiful California weather.

Tonight Andy and I have a BIG date and I am VERY excited. For my birthday, Andy gave me tickets to the Broadway show "South Pacific" showing here in San Francisco. So we are getting dressed up and heading out for a night on the town in just a couple hours! I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We Got "The Call"

Yesterday we received our phone call from America World saying that we are officially accepted into the Ethiopia Adoption Program! So exciting. Now the work begins...

Our representative emailed me several forms that I needed to print, read over, sign, and mail back. This was just initial paperwork before we start the "real" paperwork. The documents we completed yesterday include:
  • AWAA Agreement (outlined program fees/financial obligation)
  • Ethiopia Disclaimer (if Ethiopia decides not to give us a child, we won't sue AWAA)
  • Client Grievance Procedure (what to do if we get really mad at AWAA)
  • Client's Rights and Responsibilities (they'll do their part; we have to do ours)
Our AWAA rep also gave us names of several agencies that do home studies. So I researched 3 of them and we decided on one. That agency is mailing us an application packet. The home study is a very large component of the application process and takes about 2-3 months to complete.

In addition to this, I registered Andy & myself for a required online training course. That cost $175. I also wrote a check for our first installment of our program fee to AWAA, which was $1,350.

Andy had a slight panic attack last night as we looked over the financial obligation. We both knew ahead of time approximately how much an international adoption costs. ($21K-$32K) It just became very real last night as we started writing checks! After spending some time working on our finances, he felt much better about our plan to fund this venture. I will keep a running tally of all of our expenses on the side bar so that you can see what the money is going towards. I want to do this to help anyone who is considering adoption understand the process more thoroughly.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adoption Update

We mailed in our adoption application on Monday, October 5th and it should have arrived on Wednesday, October 7th. I know that they (American World Adoption) have received it because our check has cleared, but I've not yet heard from them to know where they are in the application process. I'm hoping to hear something either today or tomorrow because they said we should hear from them within 10 working days. I'll keep you posted.

I've been thinking about and praying for our child every day. My dad has affectionately nicknamed him "Flash" (because so many of the world record runners come from Ethiopia). So, until we decide on a name for him, I guess we'll call him Flash! The age range we requested was birth-2.5 years. There's really no way to know how old he'll be until we get the referral, but my guess is that he'll be on the older end of that spectrum just because so many people request 12 months or younger. If we do end up getting a 2.5 year old, that means that he is likely about 1 year old right now. The thought of that blows my mind. I have a son somewhere on the other side of the world that I have never seen. Someone else is helping him take his first steps and teaching him to eat solid foods. It really makes my thoughts run wild.

I wonder what kind of living conditions he's in and who's taking care of him. I wonder if he's sick or healthy. I wonder if he will be abandoned due to poverty/inability to provide care, or if his parents will die. I wonder if he will be an orphan his whole life or not until he's a little older. I wonder if the people caring for him are nurturing and loving. Do they hold him often and kiss him and put their faces next to his little face? How often is he being told "I love you?" Is he getting enough to eat? Is he scared or hungry or cold? Is he lonely? Will he be scared of me and Andy when we bring him home? Will he ever attach to me with the same depth that Caedmon has attached to me?

It is the strangest feeling to love someone so deeply who you've never met. To think of my own child being hungry or without clothing or affection makes my heart ache. Every night as Andy and I go to sleep, we pray for him reminding ourselves that God is the Father to the fatherless and He will care for our son.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Start 'em Young!

In efforts to encourage good health in our child, we have required him to wake up with us each morning at 5:30 AM to do our P90X workouts. If he has bad form or tries to take too many breaks, we yell at him ruthlessly like an army drill sergeant. I was able to capture a bit of this on camera. Andy and Caedmon are doing "Nose Diver Push Ups".

Untitled from Stacie Wood on Vimeo.

The funniest part is that Caedmon insists on putting his sippy cup and a hand towel beside his "yoga mat" (another towel). He is mimicing the people on the video with their water bottles and sweat towels. We are on Day 87 of the 90 day adventure and, I have to admit, I am happy it's almost over!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


On Friday Andy, Caedmon, and I were enjoying a lunch at Red Robin when Andy said to me, "Do you want to know what your birthday present is?" I thought he was just teasing me, but then he said, "Look up." I looked up and there stood my sister who I had not seen in over a year! They caught my response on video:

Happy Birthday to Me! from Stacie Wood on Vimeo.

We had such a great weekend together showing her around where we live and enjoying an awesome Sunday at South Bay Church. It was a huge effort for her to get here, but it meant the world to me that she came. I love you, Stephanie!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Zoo Day & One Tired Kid

A few weeks back, Caedmon and I enjoyed a day at the zoo with our new friends, Christy and Abby. The weather was absolutely perfect, the kids got along great, and Christy and I actually got to enjoy some meaningful conversation (a rare treat for young moms)!

I thought for sure the kids would fall asleep in the car on the way home, but of course neither of them did. I wasn't even going to attempt naptime when we got home because it was after 3:00 and I didn't want it to affect Caedmon's night time sleep. I told Caedmon that I wanted him to have some "room time" which he readily agreed to. I noticed, however, that he was being rather quiet back there. When I went back to check on him this is what I found:

That kid was passed out on top of his train set with his duckie rain boots on! He has never fallen asleep like this! And normally, whenever I walk in the room he immediately wakes up. Well, I tried to wake him up because it was 5:00. I could tell he was still sleepy, so I just carried him to the living room to let him wake up slowly on the couch. This is what happened:

He just kept right on sleeping! With me moving around and talking and typing all around him. I could not believe how exhausted he was. Finally, at 6:00 I decided he HAD to wake up so I put his shoes on him and we left the house. That finally did the trick!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Set Apart" Does Not Mean "Weird"

In the Bible Christians are commanded to be 'holy', which actually means 'set apart'. Sometimes, in attempts to be 'set apart' from the world in which we live, we end up just being weird. Trying to convince people who aren't Christians to join us in our weirdness is a difficult task.

The early church had the same problem. This morning I was reading in Acts chapter 15 where a group of followers of Christ were trying to convince people that you had to be circumcised in order to be saved. Talk about a tough sell! After the church leaders met to discuss the matter, James (Jesus' little brother) came forward and said, "We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God."

It's so easy to unintentionally put additional qualifications on salvation. We know in our heads that salvation is by grace through faith. But we create "boundary markers" in order to distinguish whose in and whose out. It's not hard for me to recognize unnecessary boundary markers in other Christian circles...I just think, "What is it about those people that seems so weird?" Why do you all dress that way, or use strange words, or listen to music that hasn't been cool for a very long time? But it's difficult, nearly impossible, to see the unwritten boundary markers that I've invented. They make sense to me and are easily justifiable in my head. But regardless of how I feel about these pet preferences, the truth is they "make it difficult for [people] who are turning to God."

I don't want anything in my life to hinder someone from turning the God. I want my life to be a road block on the road the hell, forcing people to turn aside. In the words of Mark Driscoll, "Jesus plus anything ruins everything." We need to hold up Jesus, not cling to our preferences. I want to be set apart, not weird!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Andy & I have decided to begin the adoption process! We are THRILLED! This decision has been a long time in the making...over 6 years actually.
The summer after we got married we led a mission trip to Thailand where we worked with an orphanage. We absolutely fell in love with the children there and new from that moment on that one day we would adopt, we just didn't know when. We always assumed we would have a couple of our own and then adopt a couple.

When we realized that getting pregnant the second time round was going to be a lot more difficult than we expected, we started seriously praying about adoption. We knew we wanted to, we just wanted to make sure it was God's timing. I ordered info packets from several different adoption agencies and began to do a little research.

This past Saturday we attended a seminar hosted by America World Adoption. While I was pretty familiar with most of the info that they shared, that was the first time Andy had heard the process start to finish. He was able to get answers to a lot of his questions. On the way home I asked him what he thought and, much to my surprise, he said, "I think we should go ahead and get started on the application!"

Little did he know, I had already filled out the 8 page application months ago and just stuck it back on our bookshelf until Andy felt like it was the right timing. So today, Caedmon and I took it to the post office. I think Caedmon is slightly confused. And adoption is rather difficult to explain to a 3 year old. Here are some of the things he's said to me:
  • "Mommy, is there a baby growing in your tummy?"
  • "We're getting our baby from Seepy-opia. (Ethiopia)"
  • "When we go to the post office are they going to give us our baby?"
Andy asked Caedmon what we should name the baby. Andy said, "Do you think we should name him Caedmon?" Caedmon laughed and said, "No, Daddy. There's only one Caedmon!"  And we all know that's true!

SO, here's the short version of the details. We are adopting a little boy from Ethiopia age two and a half or younger. The process will likely take around a year and a half. I'm planning on keeping this blog updated on our progress, so if you are considering adoption or know someone who is, hopefully my notes/thoughts will be helpful to you. We should hear back from AWAA within about 10 days and then we will get a mound of paperwork to do. I hear that if you focus on it really diligently, it takes about 6 months to complete and ends up being at least an inch thick! Yikes. Paperwork pregnancy, here I come!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More pics of Caedmon

Caedmon (and I) have been enjoying all of his cool new toys that he got for his birthday. Here's a few snapshots of him having fun!

Caedmon's "Grandma Marcy" gave him a bike for his
birthday! Andy & I picked out the "Cars" bike, but it was
too small. So, we took Caedmon back to the store and he
chose a "Diego" bike.

It looks like Toys-R-Us exploded in our living room!
Here Caedmon is playing with his new dump truck from
Nico, his train set from Renan, and his dinosaurs from
Lily & Cailyn.

Did someone call for a doctor?

Caedmon LOVES his finger paint from CC & Pops!
I love that the paint is clear and only changes color on
that special paper.

Caedmon got two new puzzles from Mimi & Papa.
Not sure why he wore his helmet all day that day.

These adorable rain boots are from Uncle Teve
& Aunt LaLa. It is difficult to convince him to
wear anything BUT these shoes now!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Birthday Pictures!

Caedmon had a very happy, and seemingly, never-ending 3rd birthday! We had a small party for him the Saturday before his birthday (only invited 4 friends because I didn't want it to be overwhelming for him). The pictures below are of that party. But the celebration did not end there. His actual birthday was last Tuesday so we spread out his presents over several days. Since all of our family lives out of town, Caedmon received presents in the mail all last week. Every time we went to the mailbox he asked if there was another present for him...and there usually was!

Birthday parties are intended to make the birthday child so happy. I was really pleased that Caedmon seemed to have a great time at his party!

Borrowed a few toys from "Bay Kids"!
(Perks of being a pastor's kids, I guess.)

Sharing goldfish with Daddy.

Pinata time!

Caedmon got some awesome presents.
3 years old is such a fun age.

Elmo cupcakes in honor of our Sesame Street theme.

It only took 3 tries to blow out 3 candles.

Everyone in anxiously awaiting those cupcakes!