Friday, June 29, 2007

Taylor Hood, Spa Girl and The Omnivore

Every Summer, the local community extension program offers classes for school age kids that are amazing. The kids really look forward to them and can't wait for the schedule to come out so they can choose a class. This year Taylor chose Archery, hoping to get a scouting merit badge out of the deal. He had a great time and earned a red archery pin which is the second highest ranking or so I'm told. Audrey chose Summer Spa Gifts and made all sorts of girly things like bubble bath with flowers floating in it, colored bath salts, milk bath, a custom decorated bath brush, a sachet pillow and a bar of soap with a picture on it (fun craft and a great gift idea!) Noah took Dinosaurs and Fossils Exploration and had a great time learning about the different kinds of dinosaurs. He came home on the first day and proclaimed himself an omnivore at the dinner table. I wasn't able to get a picture of Noah in his class but here are a few of the other two.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And They're Off!!!

My braces, that is... I brought them home in a ziploc bag to show the kids and Xander was a bit freaked out. Audrey says she likes me better with braces. Thanks. Here's the scary before and after self-portraiture from this morning. My tongue is going to be sore tomorrow from scoping out the smooth teeth. It feels weird but great to be free! There is a chocolate caramel apple from Rocky Mountain Ch*colate Factory in the plans for a celebration this evening!

Before
After










Friday, June 15, 2007

Keep 'em crossed!

I did something crazy yesterday. I sent off an I-600a application WITHOUT A FEE! I don't know if we will get a free extension or not but this is the only way I know to find out for sure. When I called our USCIS orphan officer back when the fee increase and free renewal were announced and spoke to him and asked about whether the free renewal is effective immediately or only for those applicants whose forms expire after July 30th (ours expires on July 7th), it was the first he had heard of either. Nice. He said to send it in and 'see what happens' so I did. I also included a cover letter thanking them very kindly for listening to adoptive parents and attempting to streamline our process somewhat. I also quoted to them the part from the Press Release dated May 29th that states that adoptive parents may now receive one free extension of the I-600a approval if they have not yet filed an I-600. To me, that means us. Keep your fingers crossed! If I haven't heard anything by mid-July, I'll call and see what's up. Worst case, I'll send a check in before the fee increase takes effect on July 30th.
In other adoption preparation news, we applied for the kids' passports MONTHS ago and haven't seen them yet. We did receive our home study update yesterday, though, and went out and got round #2 of Hep B vaccinations to celebrate!!!

Clean Water Project Pictures

Someone shared a link to the A Child's Right/Clean Water Project website on a board yesterday and I had planned to share the link here today for those who may be interested. RQ posted it on her site today so this won't be news to anyone in China Adoption-land. But for friends and family members who aren't living and breathing all things China like we are, here is the link:
www.a-childs-right.org/projects.html (Click on the China Project and keep clicking the + to advance the pictures) If you have ever wondered what the inside of an orphanage looks like, this will give you a good idea. There are about 184 pictures of 8 orphanages on the site. The pictures show children from as young as a day old on up, probably to 13. I thought that the pictures of newborns would be tough to see knowing that Meili could be that age right now but what surprised me was how heartbreaking it is to see the older children. It makes no sense to me why they have to grow up in an orphanage when there are so many of us lined up and ready to parent children. We are already in line for an infant but if there is a next time, I think it would be for a waiting/older child. In fact, there are usually about 3 or 4 neighborhood kids over at the house at any given time, anyway. I don't see why we couldn't handle a few more...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Gotcha Video Song???

Little Wonders
Rob Thomas

Let it go,
Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don't you know
The hardest part is over
Let it in,
Let your clarity define you
In the end
We will only just remember how it feels

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

Let it slide,
Let your troubles fall behind you
Let it shine
Until you feel it all around you
And i don't mind
If it's me you need to turn to
We'll get by,
It's the heart that really matters in the end

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

All of my regret
Will wash away some how
But i can not forget
The way i feel right now

In these small hours
These little wonders
These twists & turns of fate
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away but these small hours
These small hours, still remain,
Still remain

These little wonders
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away
But these small hours
These little wonders still remain

Porch Challenge

These things just crack me up. Who has time for this stuff? Apparently, I do.

Shelly tagged me so I'm fulfilling my duty to post pics of my front and back porch. The back porch is busy place as you can see. My Dad does concrete work and made a special trip from CA to pour and finish the patio for us after we moved in. Shade is a valuable commodity here in AZ so it gets used often. I collect windchimes and I've just about made my way around the patio with them. When the windstorms kick up, the neighbors must just LOVE me. ;o) We really enjoy grilling out here year-round and using the firepit to roast marshmallows when it is cooler. The patio's main function, though, is repository for dog hair!

Front Porch-Boring. I need a fun mat and some larger decor items, I think. Rabbits and javelina keep eating any plants that I try to put here. Ugh.
So tough to get all 4 kids to sit still for a picture! We tried to get the dog in on it,
but you can tell what he thought of the whole thing...

Ok, so now let's see how much time Dana, Ann, Heather, Lisa and Jennifer have on their hands. Tag, you're it!

Thanks, Shelly! This was fun. I especially loved seeing my husband's face
when he realized why I had persuaded him to clean off the back porch!!!

Dance Week

This year Audrey has taken Ballet and Hip Hop. She loves it! The recital was this past Saturday. Here are some pics:

In her hip hop gear-I had to bribe her to wear the hat sideways so we could see her face.
In Ballet attire, but with her hip hop teacher, Addison. He also teaches my Hip Hop for Moms (I call it Hip Hop for 'Has Beens') class. He reminds me of my brother, Jason, but with fewer tatoos!

The Hip Hop Girlz-Audrey's on the far right

and the ballerinas-Audrey is back-center.

You did a great job, Audrey. We are so proud of you!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

We've Waited Almost 12 Years for this day!


Well, motherhood comes with it's share of sacrifices and rewards. This one definitely falls in the reward category! Taylor is earning half of the cost for his summer activities this year and we are very proud of him. He decided that it was time for him to learn to mow the lawn so Matt gave him a lesson and he is doing a great job. I've always wanted a gardener! ;o)

PS-Mom of 5, does the corner of my patio that shows in the top picture satisfy your porch challenge? ;o)

Friday, June 08, 2007

That's my boy!


Just got Xander's portraits back from the studio. I just love this brown-eyed boy! I bribed him with candy during the shoot. It was a riot to see him concentrate so hard on doing what the photographer told him to do. The kid will do anything for a push pop! I can't believe that he will be turning 4 in a few months. We have never had a child turn 3 without a new baby, so to have one turn 4 will be really weird. Having him turn 5 before Meili comes home is an unfortunate possiblity. Trying to look on the bright side, I am really enjoying spending time with him and watching him learn and grow without any distractions. I thought I'd share a few things about him that I want to remember:



A few weeks ago, we were getting ready to go outside in the front yard to play. Xander asked for some help in finding his shoes because he wanted to be, "human foot, not 'bear' foot."

The other day, when he put his shoes on without socks he said, "it's okay Mom, my feet can just go commando!"



Sadly, Xander has now corrected most of the words that we used to enjoy hearing him mispronounce but I love that he still calls sunscreen, 'sunscream.'



Each morning when he wakes up, he will come and find me and say, "Good morning, sunshine!" and then climb into my lap for some cuddle time.

When I tell him that I love him, he reponds, "...and I double love you, Mommy."

I double love you too, Xanderbonie.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

One Step Forward, 4 Steps Back.


The CCAA has sent referrals for dossiers logged in up until November 7th. That's only 6 days worth this month. With an LID of March 10, 2006, we are only 4 months and three days of LIDs away but at this rate, it could be another 20 months until we see Meili's face. Waaa!
Congratulations to all those who are seeing thier babies' faces for the first time this week! Sara has a great list of links on her blog if you want to check them out. There is one referral pic here with the baby sucking her thumb that is just precious!

Our friends, Dana and family, have a LID of November 18th. We are keeping our fingers crossed for them for next month! The Desert Dwellers need some good news!

I'm a Bargain Magnet!

When I first started researching China adoption several years ago I was a bit discouraged when I found people blogging about their vacations to Egypt less than a month after returning home with their daughter and how they were decorating their vacation homes. Great for them, but I figured that that meant we would never be able to afford to adopt from China ourselves. Happily, I was wrong. I strongly believe that if we can do it with four kids and (basically) one income, anybody can do it. It is a choice and you just have to be creative and know how to stretch a buck.

There are few things I love more that finding a good deal. I seriously believe that if I came into any money, my life would be ruined. It is just too much fun to hunt for the ultimate bargain. Here are some of my latest.

8 Shirts for the boys from Children's Pl*ce=$7.14 (That is total folks, including tax!)



Nike shoes for Meili=$7.99 Children's Pl*ce outfit=$3.98




I also bought jackets for the boys for $2.50 each and shirts for Audrey and dress shirts for the boys for .99! I only have a few things left to get and school shopping will be complete for 4 kiddos! My goal is to get it all done for less than $100.00.

One day I'll blog about how I stretch grocery dollars. I've thought about writing a book so that others could benefit from my psychosis several times but there are already too many out there... I'd love to hear what any of you do to save a buck. Or you are always free to share about your vacation to Egypt...;o)