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!