Friday, November 20, 2009


My boys are musical geniuses.  Really.  Cory is 22 months old, and he can whistle.  Iain made up a song today, with real musical quality and words that went like this:

Do what you want to do
Do what you want to do
Do what you want to do everyday
Oh, do what you want to dooooooooooooooooo!

And now the fellows three are downstairs playing drums and the trumpet.  Listen to Iain play!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

He Knows

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses..." (Heb 4:15)

This waiting is hard.  Really hard.  Adoption has been compared many times to pregnancy, an analogy that doesn't really jibe for me for many reasons: one big one is that when you are pregnant, you have your child with you.  You know where they are.  You can talk to them.  You can feel them move.

But when your child is on the other side of the world, when she is possibly a newborn wanting to be held and rocked, or an infant looking for a lullaby... and you're not there...

Tonight I was reflecting on how Jesus can relate to us in all of the suffering we feel.  I wondered specifically how this applied to the pain of waiting.  And then it came to me.  God is an adoptive Father.

"...God sent forth His that we might receive adoption as sons."  (Gal 4:4-5)

When God sees someone struggling, running from Him, and He longs to adopt this person as His son, does He feel this weight?  When God watches a person whom He made drift through his days, does He feel this urgency to be near that one, to whisper love as only a Father can?  I know the analogy is imperfect, as imperfect as any analogy that puts us near Him somehow.  But it comforts me to know that He gets this, not because He is omniscient, but because He feels it for His own children.  It also shows me anew the depth of His love for us.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Story Time Humor

Cory, to the clerk at Aldi and every child at story time today: How you today?  (And he charmed them all!)

Cory, to the librarian: Iain Mark Brannon!

Librarian: Oh, you liked your books, did you?  (Maybe Iain's name, randomly shouted, is code for "these were some good books.")

Iain, to Daddy, on the subject of the movie shown at story time:  I didn't think that movie was any clever at all.

(Well, honestly, it creeped me out a little too.  All about chicken soup with rice - swimming in it, watering children dressed up like roses in it, making it come out a whale's spout.  Gross!)

(Remember Iain's rather - uh - uncomplimentary comments about another story time?  Maybe he'll grow up to be a critic.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Photo Pages

For our dossier, we're required to submit photo pages.  We have to include the following:

--2 formal photos (including everyone in the family; should look posed)
--4 family life photos (casual, showing activities we like to do)
--1 photo of the outside of the house
--1 photo of the inside of the house (showing the room in which we spend the most time)

Here are some options... I think I need to keep working on this.

Does this one look formal enough?
(my hair sure looks messy though)

Family life:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fast & Frugal Cookbook Book Review

I want to feed my family healthy foods.  I am on a budget.  And I don't have an hour a day to spend on dinner.  It seems that these three factors - health, money, and time - always play against each other.  You can have quick and cheap, but it won't be healthy.  Or you can have healthy and from scratch (therefore cheap), but it will take a while.  It's hard to find a good book that gives you all three.  Dawn Hall's Busy People's Fast and Frugal Cookbook tries hard to do a stellar job with all three categories, and ends up doing passably well.  Which is often good enough for me.

The cookbook is arranged into chapters like any other cookbook: Breakfast and Brunch, Salads, Main Meals, etc.  But what I really liked about it is that each chapter is sub-divided into parts, arranged by how long each thing takes to cook, start to finish: 10 minutes or less, 15 minutes or less, 20 minutes or less, 30 minutes or less.  Brilliant!  Each meal (or dish) also only has seven or fewer ingredients, and they are all normal things that normal people have already or can easily find.  Again, brilliant.

Most of the dishes I made from this cookbook earned 1.5 to 2 thumbs up.  By far the winner was the Chicken and White Bean Chowder, which was so good it was would be worth buying the book for.  Yum!

And all the recipes took the amount of time she says they will take.  One of my favorite parts of this cookbook is that she gives meal ideas with times.  For example, on the Ham with Honeydew Chutney, the page reads: 20 min before the meal, make the cheesy triangles according to the directions, but do not bake.  10 min before the meal, make the green beans and potatoes according to the directions.  5 min before the meal, bake the cheesy triangles...  You get the idea.  It's a nice play-by-play.  And it includes grocery lists (which I never use, but some people do, I guess).

Now the downside: I'm not sure I'd call the meals particularly healthy.  Better than convenience food, sure.  Better than fat-full recipes, yes.  But much of the food called for is canned rather than fresh, cooked in the microwave, etc.  And all (I think) of the desserts call for the use of Splenda instead of sugar, which isn't healthy either.  You can substitute for healthier options, but then you add more time and expense.  It's a vicious cycle.  One final downer: there are no indications with each recipe as to how many people it serves.  You just have to guess, or make it yourself and write that in the margins.

Overall, this cookbook is handy to have.  Lots of quick meal ideas, and very tasty ones mixed in with passable ones.  Does it live up to its promises?  Not exactly.  I give it three and a half stars. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Funnies

We had our second round of adoption physicals today.  Grand total: over $500!  And we just did this two months ago!  Hopefully this will be the last time.  But that's obviously not the funny part.

Friendly, grandfatherly doctor checks Jeremy's heartbeat.  Then, since Iain is sitting on Jeremy's lap, he checks Iain.  Then, since the stuffed turkey is sitting on Iain's lap, he checks the turkey.
Doctor: See?  I'm listening to his heartbeat.
Iain: But he doesn't make any noise.  He is a stuffed animal.

Me, to Cory: I don't want to read books right now.  I just want to sit like a lump.
Cory: Read books, Lump!  You have to!

Today Needs to be a Gift Day

(because I need the attitude adjustment!)
108. the fact that even though most days I can't wait to get the boys in bed, I miss them once they are down.
109. Cory yelling, "Mama!" with a happy grin when he sees me in the morning.
110. Iain has just discovered the movie Cars.  Then he realized he already had shoes, a sleeping bag, and a post card with "Lightning the Queen" on them.  He was thrilled!
111. how much my boys love their cousins (or really, second cousins).
112. the cousins taking the time to play with and love on my boys.
113. Cory prays for his baby sister at every meal: "Dee Ge-us, um, baby sister, dee Ge-us, amen!"
114. Vitamin Water from Target.  Surprisingly tasty!
115. even though our baby gate is broken, no one has fallen down the stairs or tried to climb down when unauthorized.
116. the beautiful cool weather that makes me wish for a crackling fire and a good book
117. the fact that we have a fireplace!  Even though it's not working at the moment, at least we have the capability to have a fire someday.
118. which means we have a mantle to hang stockings on this year
119. and next year, we'll have five stockings to hang!
120. Cory looks so cute in his Oompa-Loompa pjs.  
121. our back deck

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mini-Golf Fundraiser

What a crazy few days we've had!  On Saturday, we headed out to Alabama where my sister Jenna lives with her husband Curtis and their baby Isaiah.  They co-own a putt-putt golf course (which they designed and built themselves!), and hosted an adoption benefit mini-golf event.  Jenna put in so much work: calling people, getting food donated, even going on the radio to advertise the event!

Many people from their church helped too, making desserts for the bake sale, coming to play a round or two, or making generous donations.  Curtis' family let us stay with them, and helped with the bake sale and other things as well.  It was amazing to see this community come together to help us bring our daughter home - and many of them don't even know us.  This is how the Body of Christ should be.

My aunt and her five kids came to help as well, setting up, manning the event, playing with my boys, etc, and beforehand helping to plan the whole thing (Uncle Randy was a great source of ideas for this part, too!).  And my good friend Lisa made a beautiful flyer for us.  Thanks everyone!

(Sam and Cory match!)

(Seth and Cory playing at the park before the mini-golf opened up on Monday)
What we did: a two-day mini-golf fundraiser.  People paid $3 per game, and at night, it was all blacklight.  We had free food for anyone who played, a bake sale in the back, and more Rwanda bracelets on sale.  Sunday was open to everybody, and Monday was a home-school day (although we wouldn't have turned anyone away!).

How much we made: almost $1000!

What we learned: somehow, we didn't get too many people from ads.  Most people who came showed up because they knew Jenna, Curtis' family, or someone else connected to the event.  So we could have saved money on advertising and just focused on spreading the news by word of mouth.  Having free food seemed to be a good idea, and the bake sale did great again!  The Rwanda bracelets are not selling well, unfortunately (so if you've been waiting to buy some, let me know as we still have plenty!).

(Lydia enjoying a hot dog)
(The bake sale)
Thank you to everyone who helped with this, especially Jenna, Curtis, and Aunt Steph!  We're that much closer to our goal.  Not bad for a weekend!

Cory got his first fat lip right before we opened the doors.  He was bouncing on a balloon, and it popped, causing him to crash into the cement floor face-first.  Poor little guy!  Ten minutes (and much blood, tears, and snuggles) later, I was getting the boys some lunch when Iain tripped, and - you guessed it - got a fat lip.  His wasn't nearly as bad as Cory's but it did bleed quite a bit and cause more tears and snuggles.  Man!  Two in one day!
(Cory with his fat lip - hard to see, I know.)
We had planned to leave on Tuesday morning, but because of good old tropical storm Ida, we stayed one more day.  A good time was had by all. :)

And while we were gone, five families who are adopting from Rwanda (with the same agency as we are) got their referrals!  I'm so happy for them and I can't imagine how wonderful it must have been for them when they opened that long-awaited email and finally saw their child's face.  Please pray with us that they can pass court before the end of the month, because the courts close during the whole month of December.  God can bring these babies home by Christmas and we're praying He will!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Adoption: Plan A? B?

One of the things we really liked about the agency we're using is that they repeatedly declare that adoption is not God's Plan B. And in a way that we cannot understand, it's not. And now things start to get a little Calvanistic: If it's God's Plan A, does that mean that the negative things that likely happened in the birth mother's life to lead to this child being available for adoption - were those things part of His plan? Or if they were not part of His plan, then how is adoption not Plan B? I mean, you could ask this question about any number of events that happen in this sin-sick world, and I don't know the answers. But I do know this: however we got to this point, there is a little girl right now in Rwanda (or maybe yet unborn), and she is meant to be ours. And her birth mother? I don't know.  I hope with my whole heart, and I pray often, that this woman who is so unknown and so very connected to us knows Him. That she belongs to Him. That someday in Heaven, I will meet her and hug her and thank her and introduce her to her - my - our child. But I don't know if that will happen or not. Perhaps the situation that brought or is bringing her to choose adoption for her child is just bad in every way. But even then, He can redeem it. This boggles my mind.

As I've researched and read about adoption, from the American perspective mostly, two extremes have emerged, two attitudes about adoption. The first is that adoption is Plan B. That people who have adopted are to be pitied because somehow they never would have chosen this path for their family unless they had to. This may be true of some people, but certainly not all. More and more families that I am seeing are adopting because they want to add to their family specifically through adoption. They may already have biological kids; they may not. But they know that adoption is part of the plan. And so they pursue it. And for the families that do choose adoption as a last resort: is pity the right response? How about joy that they now have a baby in their arms and joy that the baby has a loving family? This is not to disregard the grieving process that must happen for the couple if their dream to physically bear children will never be realized. But can we not grieve with them in that area of life, and rejoice with them that their dream of having a child has come true?

The other extreme is, I think, a backlash against the Plan B people. Some people are so into adoption that it becomes almost a badge of honor. If you've been around some big-family-no-matter-what people, you may have seen something similar. It becomes a source of pride (and not in a good way). Adoption becomes so PLAN A that biological children are seen as selfish or irresponsible. People like this say that you can't be pro-life unless you've adopted. Or they get so defensive about adoption that you stumble over your words because if you say them wrong, these people will think you're against adoption somehow.

How about we land in the middle? Being pregnant and bearing a child is amazing. Adopting a child is amazing. Adoption is certainly not Plan B, but neither is biology. The range of emotions that pregnancy and birth bring to you is unparalleled by anything except adoption. And some of the emotions are the same, but I would say that mostly they differ. Adopting is different and wonderful and difficult and intense. The two are different, but both are important and God-given ways of building a family.

Adoption is The Plan.

I must say, I sure don't miss the morning sickness, though.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Funny Lunchtime Conversations

Me: Cory, you have to take one more bite.
Cory: (stuffs a bite in his mouth) I did it!  Clap for me!

Iain: Mama, I don't want you to dip my dessert in hummus because I don't like hummus.  (Okay, like I was threatening to dip his smarties in mashed up chickpeas?)