December 2010

Adoption is never an easy thing. We are forced to have faith that a total stranger is telling the truth about wanting us to adopt her baby, and an expectant mother is forced to trust that we are telling her the truth about who we are. We must trust her decisions on how she cares for her body and the baby while she is pregnant, and she must trust our decisions on how we care for the baby after it is born–and for the next 18 or so years. Once it is born, if she does place with us, then while we rejoice, she is experiencing loss. We can be thrilled to show off our new addition, while she must grieve and may forever try to hide the fact that she had a baby at one point. Adoption definitely gives meaning to the term bitter-sweet.

God called us to adopt. We still don’t know what His ultimate plan this time is, however, I do know, at this point, we are officially matched to adopt a young lady’s baby. We met her and her family face-to-face last night, and had a wonderful time. I felt like we hit it off right away. They played with our kids, loved our kids, and our kids loved them right back. The men would take all the kids to play nearby while us women got to talk, and then we would switch out, giving the men an opportunity to talk. The expectant mom still has a lot of decisions to make at this point, but she seems pretty set on the idea of placing her baby and wants us to be the family. If there is such a thing as a perfect situation, this may well be it. They are in a position where, for many complicated reasons, it wouldn’t work well to keep the baby, but they no doubt already love it and worry about the home it will go to. That is why we are here–to give a loving home to a baby, and offer what support we can to a hurting family. I’m sorry I can’t offer more details on the situation, but it wouldn’t feel right. That being said, we did receive more information about the baby yesterday.

We have a due date in late January, give or take due to the lateness of the ultrasound. The baby seems to be perfectly healthy, almost 5 lbs., and growing normally. And, great news for M, it appears to be a girl. M desperately wants a sister to play girly things with. If old wive’s tales hold true, then the way she is carrying the baby now would fully support that it’s a girl. I would be perfectly happy with girl or boy, but I admit, I would also love for M to have a sister. She seems so outnumbered some days! It is also bi-racial, which will be neat for Aiden to have a “look-alike” in the family. The mother hasn’t really gotten a plan in place yet, but I think she will at least allow me to be at the hospital, and possibly in the birthing room with her. She may help us name the baby, which is what we have asked her to do–she will pick a name, then we will pick a second that goes well with it and has meaning for us. They are still trying to decide their ideal of openness in the adoption–somewhere between semi-open and open. I think the grandparents will want to visit in some fashion, while the mother, at this point, will be happy with periodic updates. Once they decide their ideal, then we will have to meet and find a compromise that will work for us. As I said, lots of decisions to be made.

So, now the waiting game really begins. We are going to leave on our trip, return, and try to lead a semi-normal life. She is going to have weekly appointments between now and the delivery to keep an eye on the baby’s growth. We are also going to make the last minute baby preps and get everything ready. Since this is a somewhat local adoption, we won’t have to get nearly as much ready, which makes things MUCH easier. She could literally call us right now and I would be able to go pick the baby up. It would just be nice to get a few meals prepared and a bit of extra cleaning done ahead of time. Then, we continue to wait for that call that she has gone into labor.

Of course, at any point between now and the signing of consents (after birth), she has every right to change her mind and decide to keep the baby. It does happen, and we are well aware of that. I don’t think she will because of the situation, but there is never any way to tell. I admit, I am getting more excited the more I think about it. So far, we have corresponded almost daily, and I hope that continues. It is very normal, though, for the mother to somewhat “disappear” in the final days as she deals with her decisions prior to the birth. Every woman is different, so there is no way to predict. I could tell she is already getting very nervous about the experience of the delivery, and the idea seems to be on her mind constantly. Thankfully, she has a seemingly wonderful support system in her parents. They respect her decisions, but are also holding her responsible. I absolutely loved her mom, and feel like, if she does change her mind, her mom will likely make her at least call the agency and notify them so we aren’t left hanging. Now that she has decided on us for sure, she will also be starting to work with a birthmother counselor at our agency, who will lovingly push her to make the decisions that need to be made.

So, here we are. Worst-case scenario, she changes her mind and we are right where we were yesterday–waiting for a match. Best-case scenario, she sticks with her plan and we have a baby in just a few short weeks.
Only God knows, and we (I) just have to hand that over to him and not worry about what tomorrow will bring. Everything works out according to His plan.

I have been swamped with preparations this week.  Preparations of all sorts.   We decided to forego schooling this week, as it is looking to be the busiest week of the season.  Monday, I was busy baking snack foods to freeze for our farm trip.  I finished filling in for my mom’s nanny position after Monday night, so I got really busy on Tuesday.  I cleaned out the fridge, processed and canned some beets that had been in the fridge for a while and would otherwise go bad while we were away.  I also made and canned some BBQ sauce to take with us on the trip.  Today and tomorrow, I am working on bread.  I have calculated that we could need as much as 10-12 loaves during the time we will be there.  When those boys get to working, they eat!!  I am also planning to not only be feeding my family, but also my brother-in-law, and possibly my mom.   I still have to chop up some carrots and celery, and dehydrate some apples for snacks, but I’m getting there.  I look at the boxes of food I already have packed, and realize why our grocery bill is so high every month!  At least it’s healthy.   I managed to get a slight advance from our cow share on some milk to take with us, so I will skim some of that later today and freeze a bit.  I may still have to go buy some raw milk from a supplier there though.  Instead of wasting precious cooler space with bags of ice, I am planning to use my frozen milk and meat to keep everything cold. 

Last night, I dropped the rabbits off at some friends’–3 days earlier than originally planned.  About 4 weeks ago, S walked out into the garage to find that M had accidentally let both the buck and doe out of their cage while feeding.  We don’t know whether anything happened, and I am lousy at palpating.  I have kept a close eye on the doe though, and she seems a lot more solid around the middle lately, but I can’t be sure I am not imagining things.  In any case, I marked the date so we know she is due on Saturday.  I didn’t want to risk her delivering and then trying to move her, since this would be her first litter.  So, I worked it out to take her over early.  That will give her a few days to adjust to her new home before she delivers–if she does.  We got her all set up with a nest box and she is ready to go, just in case.  Rabbits are generally within a day or two of their actual due date (if only humans were that way!), so we should know by Sunday. 

Today is an exciting day as well.  The birthmother we have been working with has her big ultrasound this afternoon.  We were scheduled to meet with her tomorrow evening for dinner, but now the weather looks as though we will be snowed in–up to 12 inches expected in the next 24 hours.  I nervously called her mom to discuss the issue–the first time I have actually spoken to a human.   We hit it off immediately!  She was so sweet, we wound up talking for about 30 minutes, and decided to meet this evening instead.  So, hopefully we will get a lot of answers tonight and know more about the situation in general.  The ultrasound should reveal a due date and, hopefully, a gender.  I am so thankful to be so busy with these trip preps, or I would probably be a nervous wreck! 

In any case, since this situation is still looking very positive in terms of us having a baby in the very near future, I am also keeping that fact in mind as I do my cleaning and organizing.  We may not have much time for that type of cleaning after we return, so, just in case, I am doing what I can now.  All we would really have to do that way is set up the bassinet when we return.  My hopes are climbing, so we’ll see what happens.  I keep reminding myself that she could back out at any moment, and she has every right to do so. 

So that is our latest.  I will update when I can.

I, and many of my military friends, have great difficulty trying to find food suppliers when we move around the country.  I have realized that I seem to have a pretty good readership nowadays, and folks seem to be located all over the country (and world).  I would love to try to put together a static page that lists any organic, natural, co-op, and bulk food resources around the United States. 

My only request is that the supplier NOT use any type of chemical pesticide, herbicide, or GMO foods.  I don’t really care about organic certification, as long as the food is grown/raised similiar to organic–in its natural, chemical-free, God-designed state.  If it can be purchased in bulk or at discount/wholesale type prices, even better!  Most organic private farms are already listed on websites like “slowfood” and “eatwild,” so I will be including those links rather than the individual farms.  I am more interested in companies that ship other supplies such as bulk food co-ops and such. 

If you know of any resource, please leave me a comment with the info.  If I get enough response, then as soon as I can, I will compile all the resources onto one, easy to use website.  I would greatly appreciate your help in this endeavor, and I know many others who would appreciate it as well!  I look forward to seeing what info I receive!

I don’t think I will ever tire of watching wildlife.  I have always loved seeing animals in their natural element, just doing whatever animals do.  The other day, we looked out our window, and got a real treat. 

3 mule-deer does and 3 yearling fawns (2 does and a buck) were cleaning up the crabapple fruits that fell from our tree early this fall.  The deer saw us, and came within about 3 feet of our window at one point.  I think they know, though, that as long as we are inside, we can’t hurt them.  They were so fluffy with their winter coats!

This particular morning, we got to watch some really interesting herd dynamics that I have never seen before.  I can’t fully explain what I saw, but it appeared as though one doe was assigned as look-out or being punished.  She was chased away from the main grazing area by another doe, to the perimeter, and just stood there, stock still, for about 15 minutes, just looking around.  She never once leaned down to eat.  After about 15 minutes was up, she casually walked back into the herd, and began grazing with the rest of them.  Then, both the does and fawns interacted at different points, using their heads to butt the others and their front feet to strike the others.  It was so strange, and I couldn’t tell if they were playing, rough housing, playing dominance games, or teaching respect.  Fascinating to witness in any case.  Usually, you just see deer hanging out grazing gracefully, but these ladies (and boy) were all fired up.  They interacted and grazed for about 30 minutes all together, and then eventually mozied off to do whatever they do all day.

I recently received one of the greatest presents of the season from an aquaintance who thought about us.

Her sister had given a full set of Encyclopedias to her to give to Goodwill, and she remembered that we were homeschoolers.  All but one of the books was still wrapped in original shipping plastic.  WOW!  Copyright is 2000, so they are only 10 years old.  I was so excited about them, I ran into the house, and started explaining the treasure to JR, who was less than enthused at his age.  One day, he’ll appreciate it.  I hope. 

In the mean time, my excitment over such a gift has shown me what a true homeschool geek I am.  I guess this qualifies me as a real-to-life, honest-to-goodness, “homeschool mom” if anything does!

For a little over a week now, I have been e-mailing back and forth with an expectant young lady considering us to adopt her baby.  After already experiencing several scams, I have been very on guard, searching for ANYTHING that could potentially be a red flag.  I have been researching any little tid-bit of personal information she e-mailed, and watching my scam boards for her info.  So  far, nothing has turned up as “red flagged.” 

For the first time in this current adoption process, we stepped to a new level today.  Her family contacted our case worker to talk.  I was then able to get more info on the situation, as well as a second opinion on the legitimacy, from the case worker.  Of course, I can’t put much about the situation on here, but what I can say is that things are looking very “up” right now.  She has sent a photo of herself, and she is a very attractive young girl who seems to have made a poor decision one day.  I am still guarding my heart, waiting for the whole thing to fall apart, but having reached this next level does cause a little bit of excitement to creep in.  We are currently scheduled to meet her and her family next week, just before we leave for the farm.  We should also find out next week if the baby is a boy or girl, and get a more definite due date.  They apparently gave our agency the go-ahead to start the birthparent process and paperwork.  If everything works out and continues moving forward, then she is due in about 2 months.  No matter how I look at it, next week could turn out to be very exciting and interesting as it plays out.  And extra busy! 

So, do we have a baby on the way?  Maybe.  Only God knows right now, but I’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

I have a had a little extra work this week, and will next week, too.  My mom, who has relocated to CO, had to return to her previous state to tie up some loose ends.  Here in CO, she has a night job as a nanny for a single mom who works night shift, in return for room and board.  It is actually a great arrangement, that gives her a great home to live in, and all she has to do is live in the house at night to ensure an adult is present with the child.  She is free to work or hang out with us, or whatever during the day.  However, since she had to go back for two weeks, she needed to find someone to fill in for her for several nights while she is away.  I’m the only person she knows at this point.  So, I have spent the last couple nights sleeping over at another house, caring for a child, and will do the same for several nights next week.  So all the chores and responsibilities I usually have in the evenings and after the kids head to bed, I am having to make up for during the day.  Of course, I also have to take care of the typical day responsibilities such as homeschooling, trying to prepare meals, and generally caring for my house and family.  Plus, this week, preps for the upcoming farm trip really kicked in.  It’s actually not a bad deal, and I am rather enjoying it.  My mornings there are quite relaxed, and I get to rotate taking JR or M with me, which actually gives me some special one-on-one time with them too.  I feel bad that S is having to go in to work a bit later than usual, which ads a bit of pressure to his schedule, and some my household chore duties are suffering a bit, naturally. It is temporary though.  The great thing about it is, time is absolutely FLYING by and it will be time to head to the farm before I know it!!  And THAT is always a great thing!!!

I love the statements that can so easily, innocently, and adorably just pop out of kids mouths.  We had a brutally honest one this morning, thanks to JR, who was not really thrilled that our morning porridge had turned rather soupy….again.  He asked, “Dad, why do keep putting too much water in the porridge lately?”  S replied, “I don’t know.”  JR quickly offered, “I know, it’s because you’re old!” 

Then, this evening, as I was preparing dinner, the kids saw me chopping a head of cabbage–generally a family favorite around here.  We strongly encourage our children to eat their vegetables, and generally, they enjoy them.  Apparently, though, we entice the toddlers more often than we realize, as 2-yr old A had his own statement for the evening regarding the cabbage.  All the kids asked for a bite, so I gave JR, M, and A all a small piece of raw cabbage, just as little N walked up.  For whatever reason, A took one taste and said, “I don’t like!”  I said, “Well, just give it to Nathan then.”  A immediately turned to his little brother and said, “Here go.  It’s yummy!”

That’s kids for ya, I guess!

I did a post a while back on my awesome dog, Will.  (You can find it here).  The other day, we were settling down for our family worship time, and realized just how much of a pet he had become.  You see, as a service dog, he was not allowed on furniture, not allowed to have table scraps, didn’t bark or whine or beg, didn’t jump on people or scratch at doors.  It truly is a wonderful thing to have a pet that is so well trained and well mannered.  Honestly, it spoils us. I never had to worry about vacuuming hair off the couch or the dog begging as we ate dinner.  Anyway, we were settling down to family worship, and I walked in the living room to find this:

Apparently, JR and M discovered that Will would get on the couch if he was invited.  In the past, they had been so young that Will would ignore their invites.  Now that they are older and more confident in their commands, Will has discovered they can be a great resource to gain a little extra comfort and lovin’ around here!   Additionally, Will discovered (by the time kid #3 came along) that a highchair was a great source of treats.  I fought it for the longest time, scolding him.  Then, one day, I realized that he could be very beneficial, and save me a great deal of clean-up time after snacks and meals.  So we drew boundaries.  While he isn’t allowed to clean up the floor while we are at the table, once we leave, crumbs on the floor are fair game! 

So, with his new-found friends, I think a spot on the couch has become a given during family worship time.

A couple weeks ago, I was walking out my front door for who-knows-what-reason, and noticed that a neighbor had set a chimea over by the dumpster.  I had my suspicions as to which neighbor it was, so I began to plot.  Never one to pass up a nice and practical freebie (you can see some of my freecycle acquisitions here), when S got home from work that day, I mentioned the chimea to him.  Apparently, he had similiar visions of sitting on the porch by a warm fire on a cold night, and he ran straight to the suspect neighbor’s house to ask about it.  Sure enough, they didn’t want it, and said we were welcome to it.  Next thing I knew, it was beautifully set up on the corner of my porch. 

The only thing we know of that is wrong with it is that the chimney is not fully stable, which should  be a fairly easy repair.  In the mean time, though, we decided to go ahead and enjoy using it.  The kids beat us to it.  S walked out on the porch the next day to find that M had gotten the notion to see if she could fit.  JR had decided to help her out and closed the hatch door for her, thereby locking her inside!

Do you think she was scared?  Not in the least!  To the contrary, both kids were having the time of their lives, and M was very proud to be the only one small enough to fit.  After S helped her out and lectured the kids on using the chimea safely and appropriately, he went ahead and built a fire in it.  He set the ground rules, showed JR some safe ways to work with fire, forbid M to get near the fire until she is a bit older, and began to enjoy his new toy.  The kids then decided the best way to utilize a fire was to roast marshmallows!  They quickly convinced their dad to find the roasting sticks in the garage, while they went to raid my pantry.  I typically have at least one bag in there for baking purposes. 

Notice in the above pic that you can’t see the marshmallows.  As it turned out, the only bag I had at the time was mini-marshmallows.  Of course, that did not deter the kiddos one bit!  It simply meant they could fit more marshmallows on the stick at one time! 

So, we are thankful to have a great find for an outdoor fireplace on these chilly nights.  And you can bet that the next time we went to the store, JR and M did NOT forget to grab a bag of full-size marshmallows!

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