Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Departs

I know I haven't done any Christmas posts yet, but suddenly I'm here looking at the last day of 2010 and so I skipped ahead. Here's what our 2009 looked like. In random order, in 2010, we...

:: we were finally DTR on January 25

:: we made some good friends in Georgia

:: we had four more adoption fundraisers (Valentine's Day babysitting, two garage sales, and a worship concert night)

:: we moved the TV into the basement and haven't missed it

:: we got a dog

:: Jeremy and Iain went camping with the church menfolk. It was Iain's first time going away with his dad overnight!

:: we went to Florida six times, Tennessee twice, Pennsylvania once, Alabama a few times, and South Carolina once

:: we had overnight guests for some part of twenty-two of the 52 weeks, and we were overnight guests for some part of fifteen of the 52 weeks (some weeks overlapped though)

:: we went on our first marriage retreat and loved it

:: we started leading the kids' ministry at church and have been since May

:: I did Nano again, and finished!

:: we hosted my sister's college ministry, ACCESS218, when they were in GA for a mission trip

:: we had our AC go completely out during said hosting of the group, and had to get the whole unit replaced. Ugg.

:: I went on my first ladies' retreat

:: Jeremy, Iain, and Cory were all in Jeremy's brother Phil and Kelly's wedding

:: we went camping and the boys slept like champs!

:: I did my first Beth Moore Bible study

:: we went to a Braves game

:: Iain learned to read

:: we took both boys to their first Urgent Care visits (Cory for a knee injury, and Iain for a wheezing cough)

:: we had our hopes raised and dashed countless times when it came to adoption

:: I devoured books by Philip Yancey that ask hard questions. I asked a lot myself

:: Jeremy worked at two shows for OakTree

:: Cory turned two at the beginning of the year, and Iain turned four most of the way through

:: Cory was potty-trained

:: I coordinated a wedding for the first time. Jeremy read Scripture at the same wedding

:: we hosted two small groups and continued with the play group

:: we joined an Africa adoption fellowship group

:: we got re-fingerprinted, and Jeremy has to go again in a few days

:: we visited our dear friends in Pennsylvania

:: we started writing a new curriculum for Kids' Church

:: we volunteered at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert

:: we did the Jesse Tree for the first time

:: I joined a writers' group and read a ton of books

:: Jeremy got involved in the leadership of our church

:: we passed the eleven month milestone of being DTR, and the seventeen month milestone of when we started our adoption journey.

:: we learned a lot this year. If last year was crazy, this year was stretching. Here's hoping the theme of next year will be rejoicing.

So adieu, 2010. And to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Lesson on Pirates

Iain: I know a lot about pirates. I'll teach you about them. Pirates have either three or seven cannons.
Me: Why three or seven? Why not five or ten?
Iain: Because that would be too many. Then they wouldn't shoot them. Pirates run about shooting and fighting and cutting, and fighting about who will fight the lion and who will fight the dragon, if a dragon got on the ship.
Cory: And if a mouse got on the ship...
Iain: They would pet 'im. They would rush about if a sea leopard came, shooting and dropping the anchors and moving away from the sea leopard and trying to keep the mouse safe.
Cory: And then they had a big, big cage for the mouse that has a locking thing. So they put the mouse in there and he stayed in there with his favorite mouse and his favorite music, and he was safe.
Iain: And then the pirate said, (in a low voice) "Oh, let's go give the mouse some food because we're hungry."And that's about all pirates do. That's all I know about pirates.
Cory: I know about pirates!
Iain: A lot? Because I teached you?
Cory: No, I know a lot more.
Iain: (admiringly) Oh!
Cory: And if there was an alligator... (and on it goes)

Iain: And if pirates keep food in their mouth for the whole week they're on the ship...
Iain and Cory together: they would talk with their mouth full!
Cory: That's the meanest thing they could do.
Iain: Yup, that's the meanest thing. And when pirates go to bed, they might talk in their sleep! And they might do so-loud music in their sleep! (demonstrates by imitating a trumpet and then yelling "boom! Boom!")

Iain: We should copy this and give it to Aunt Kelsey so she'll remember what pirates do. (I think he meant that to be encouraging, but it does sound a little spooky, no?)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Appeal to His Mercy

"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance; it is laying hold of His highest willingness." --Archbishop Trench

"Our Lord God could not but hear me; I threw the sack down before His door. I rubbed God's ear with all His promises about hearing prayer." --Martin Luther

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Oh, Iain

Rainy Saturday Afternoon

(I love my new camera!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cory Says

Cory: Are we doing manna?
Me: Manna?
Cory: Mannas.
Me: Mayonaise?
Cory: MANNAS!! (thinks a minute) Are we doing politely?
Me: Oh, manners! Yes, you're using your manners.
Cory: Oh-tay.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Year Ago

A year ago today, I mailed our dossier to our agency to get it checked over, before it was sent to the Rwandan Embassy in DC and then on to Rwanda. A whole year. Sounds like a really perfect day to get some good news, don't you think?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Iain, on His Interests

Iain had with the guy behind us in line at the store today. Here's how it went:

"I like Lightning the Queen, and I'm also into Thomas the Train. And I like the Pirates. The ones who don't do anything. Like on Veggie Tales. There are lots of Veggie Tales. So many they won't even fit into your eye!"

Just in case you wanted to know.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Thanksgiving '10, Etc.

So, I haven't felt much like blogging lately. The news out of Rwanda is that there is no news, and it's been hard to feel much hope. So as we enter into the season that is supposed to remind us of Hope and who He is, I am trying to remember what I know:
--He is good.
--He is strong.
--He is Emmanuel, the God who is with us. And with our daughter. Oh, come Emmanuel.

But life goes on, and there are good things that happen in this crazy time that I want to remember, and for the boys to remember. And so:

We did shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Iain choose to pack for a girl, and Cory a boy. Iain especially really got into it. When we dropped off the boxes, Cory prayed for the boy and girl, "that they would have lots of presents and wouldn't get bites from any bugs, but would have roly-polys, and that we would have roly-polys too."
We got a dog. Her name is Posey, and she's a three-year-old sheltie that my aunt found for us on Craigslist. She's a good dog (except she sheds and she can't really help that - although she can help rubbing herself along the length of our blue couch and leaving a trail of hair behind. Yuck.), and the boys love her.
The boys and I (and Posey) took a really nice walk the other day to find leaves. They loved running down the road and finding "really gorgeous leaves."

We spent Thanksgiving in Florida with Grammy and Papa, Yaya, Phil and Kelly, and Uncle Larry and Aunt Lisa. I hardly took any pictures.

Aunt Lisa got a gingerbread house for the boys to do.

They were both sick over Thanksgiving, but they loved being there. We saw a huge gator in the pond out back (I even spotted it with a flashlight by its glowing red eyes), and Cory dreamed about him one night.

I finished Nano for the second time (Nanowrimo = National Novel Writing Month, where you write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November). My first time, in 2008, I really loved it, and I ended up with a workable manuscript. This time, it was so hard. I didn't like the novel, nothing really flowed, and it was a fight to the finish. If Alison hadn't been doing it with me, I think I would have thrown in the towel. But we both finished, so that's something.

That's about all our news here. And I can think of no interesting way to end this post...

The End.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dinosaur Feet

This movie is a few months old - the boys opening gifts from Grammy and Papa.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Ukraine

There are several blogs I follow about people who have adopted or are adopting from the Ukraine. Most of these sweet children have special needs and without someone to come get them and take them home, are destined to live out their days in really, really horrible conditions. (Some of the children pictured in that post are in the process of being adopted out - and they are included in this crisis!) When they are older (four? six?) they are sent to institutions where they don't survive for very long at all. But organizations like Reece's Rainbow have raised awareness about these children, and many people are adopting them.

But now. The Ukrainian government is voting soon on whether to stop ALL international adoptions. The bill has passed one vote; it only needs one more to stop all adoptions. Just like that, families who have been working, praying, loving, and trying to get their babies home will be told that there is nothing they can do. Families who are currently in the Ukraine, so close to being done with the process, will be sent home with empty arms. I can't imagine. Well, I can. But I really don't want to.

And all those little ones, who were created by God and are loved by Him... they will remain in their cribs. They won't know the love of a family. They won't have the nutrition and medicine and therapy they need.

There are two things you can do to help:
1. Pray. A lot.
2. Write to your congressmen and ask them to step in and do something about it. Click HERE to go to a blog with links on how to contact them, as well as a form letter you can email to them. It's so easy to do; takes all of five minutes.

Jesus, have mercy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blog Article

Good perspective on waiting and Advent...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Pennsylvania Travel Log, Part Three

(in which I finally finish writing about our wonderful trip to Pennsylvania by waxing eloquent on friendship. Or just by waxing on it.)
(Alison and I right before we left for home. Don't we look cute and matchy? Not intentional. Well, the cute is. Just not the matchy.)

If this adoption journey has been so much more difficult than I could have imagined (it has) then this friendship with Alison has been so much sweeter than I could have hoped. Two people who have never met, who are following the Lord into adoption from the same country, at the same time, with the same agency, find each other through blogs, chat groups, and email. They begin emailing and find that more similarities abound: they are both writers. They think the same. They both home school their kids.

This trip to PA was when we got to meet face-to-face for the first time. We spent hours just talking. In the famous sun room (my favorite place in her house!). In the kitchen over pumpkin cookies. At Panera Bread and Barnes and Noble. Outside while we pushed the kids on the swings. It was nice to find that we communicate in spoken words as well as we do in written.

I am very thankful for this friendship, this gift. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A Friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature." Replace nature with God and I think that about sums it up.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Pennsylvania Travel Log, Part Two

Better late than never, right?

Day two in PA, continued:

We spent most of Saturday at Cherry Crest Farm, a huge fall festival/fair/corn maze thing. It was so fun! We attempted the corn maze, the boys rode pedal cars, we did a huge slide over and over (the slide included a long hike up a steep hill), they kids bounced on this big balloon thing that was buried in sand, we smelled yummy kettle corn, and we enjoyed the beautiful weather. We only had time to do a fraction of what there was, and we were there most of the day.

(Iain looks like some kind of rocket-powered super boy here)

We finished the night off with pizza and more talking... late into the night every night.

My days are starting to get mixed up, so I'll hit the highlights of the trip:
--went to church and worshiped Jesus with our friends
--Alison and I went coat-shopping for me and Iain. Found a good one for Iain. No luck for me, but we were out and near Sonic at happy-hour. Introduced Alison to the sparkling lemonade. Yum.
--ate so many pumpkin cookies!
--talked and talked and talked and then talked some more

--One day we went to see a room full of miniature trains. The whole room was full of this landscape with buildings, tunnels, little people, a circus. So much detail. We went around and around the room and saw new things every time. Iain's favorite part was the house that catches fire periodically (real smoke!). A siren sounds, a fire truck comes out of a station a few buildings down and drives to the house. A tiny fireman gets out, raises a ladder, climbs it, and hacks at a window, while another fireman sprays a hose with real water into the building, and another one runs out of the building carrying a person. Crazy!

Jeremy liked the workers and crane raising a billboard best. Cory fancied the tunnel with the glowing plants. I liked the Amish barn-raising, complete with movements of hammer and saw:
Unfortunately, this is where my camera died for the second time. Thanks, Alison, for all the pictures of things I missed!

--we also drove to Hershey to see the chocolate factory.

The boys loved the "roller coaster" (really a slow-moving ride that shows how chocolate is made), and they were talking tonight about how the roaster worked:

Cory really hammed it up that day, doing his trademark duck-walk (with elbows poked out). Look at his face in this picture, if you can see it:
He found such beautiful leaves, too. I wanted a picture of him with them, but the only way I could get him to hold them up was to tell him to show Nona his leaves (I told him I'd post the picture on the blog so Nona could see.). So here he's saying, "Look, Nona!"
The drive to Hershey was worth the whole day out (as if the chocolate factory wasn't enough of a draw). It was breathtakingly beautiful, the leaves hanging over the road in brilliant yellow and orange against the wet grey sky and the black trees. Rain always makes colors more vibrant.

--I got to meet Alison's sister Amy, who is also adopting from Rwanda. While the three of us visited, Jeremy read books to the kids (although requests to read books were surprisingly few and far between - too much else to do, I guess).
--One of the highlights of the trip was getting to meet so many other Rwanda Mamas-to-be. There are a surprising number of them in the area of PA we were in, and we all met for dinner (At Macaroni Grill; I had chicken alfredo - this note is especially for the Brannon side :) ) We pulled the heavy curtain closed around our private room and went around the table, each telling the story of how God led us to adopt from Rwanda. I was amazed at His creativity. Everyone's story was so dramatically different. Most had moments of laughter (often at ourselves), and all had the hand of God so clearly seen. I loved hearing how He directed each family differently, and yet we have all arrived at the same place. Water to a thirsty soul, I tell you. Only one woman there already has her child home. The rest of us are waiting. So great to meet all you girls!
Okay, enough for tonight. One more Pennsylvania post to come... sometime. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pennsylvania Travel Log, Part One

Last week we did something kind of crazy: we drove 750 miles to Pennsylvania to meet a family for the first time and stay in their house for a week.

Actually, it wasn't so crazy. Alison and I have been emailing frequently for well over a year. As we are both writers, we got to know each other quite well through the written word. She is another Rwanda-Mama-to-be, and also has two young kids. Although I was nervous about meeting her face-to-face (will the wonderful email friendship carry over? It did!), a few minutes into the visit and I was having a blast. What a great family!

Travel log first, thoughts after.

On the way up, we stopped for an overnight at the Nelsons' house, where I neglected to take a single picture of the boys having an absolute blast with their "cousins" (really my cousins). They ran outside until after dark, and then played in Sam and Seth's basement room until bed time. And I enjoyed talking Nano with Aunt Steph.

We made the long drive the next day, arriving in PA around dinner time. That night, we chatted, got to know each other in person, met the husbands and kids, and watched the four kids play trains until bedtime. We also learned that just about everything in this area relates to trains. Or chocolate. Or the Amish and farming.

Day One in PA (Friday, 10/22): Enjoyed a quiet day in. It was very cold and windy, so that was a good choice! We did go over to the most interesting park, fed ducks in a spring-fed canal, and visited Wilbur Chocolate Factory (smelled so good).

Then the older three watched (what else?) a Thomas movie while Cory took a nap and Alison and I sat in her (wonderful!) sun room and talked adoption, writing, family....

Day Two (Saturday, 10/23): What a fun day this was! I took so many pictures (and then Alison took more when my camera died part way through the day - and stayed dead) that I'll have to continue this day in another post. We took the Strausburg Engine to Cherrycrest Farm, picnicked, spent the day and the farm, and took the train back. Then we ate pizza for dinner and played a railroad-themed board game after the kids were down.

The train ride was so fun! The train swayed back and forth and went something like 16 miles per hour, the same speed it went when it was really taking people places back in the day (as opposed to taking people around just for fun). Made me think of Little House on the Prairie and how long those train trips must have taken.

(Cory insisted upon wearing that Burger King crown)
(Jeremy didn't know the ticket-taker guy was behind him)

(Liam and Annabell)

(grey smoke from the train making the day look stormy)

At the picnic place was a great wooden see-saw that the boys loved. I wonder how hard it would be to make one for the back yard?
The kids in the Africa shirts I made for them (with a button over Rwanda):

Stay tuned for part two, coming tomorrow...