Saturday, September 29, 2007

Eating Cake

I've gotten to eat cake twice this week (and who wouldn't love that?!) for two very different reasons. The first cake was a peace offering of sorts. After an unusually rough day, my kids "surprised" me with this cake and flowers. They bought it on their own while I was grocery shopping. It was fun watching them run around the grocery store hiding things behind their backs :) It was a very sweet gesture and was better than any Mother's Day present ever!
On Friday night we headed to the Bentons to celebrate the Moon Festival. We jokingly called this the "plaid couch photo" (for those in the Chinese adoption world you'll get the joke). We celebrated with Chinese food, lots of giggles and play and of course, moon cakes. These are the traditional cakes eaten at the Mid Autumn Moon Fesitival. Legend has it that messages in these small filled cakes (round of course for the moon) helped the Chinese defeat the Mongols (who evidently did not eat mooncakes ). They have been eaten in celebration ever since. We had coconut (with an egg yolk in the middle), mixed nut and red bean paste. My favorite was the coconut (minus the egg yolk) but the red bean paste was a hit as well (it is sweet and a popular ingredient in Chinese deserts).
Sarah looks so good in the bright colors (and yes, she got her bangs cut today)!
Anna is practicing her big sister skills on Alex :)
Jacob and some of the other merry party goers!
So much for losing those extra pounds before we go to China!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

No TA this week...

At least we are consistent. We aren't going to be the quickest for anything this time around!! We're down to 35 seats left on the flight for the 25th but it is still too early to make reservations because of the holiday (or holiweek as I call it) next week. It is possible we will have to leave a day early and spend an extra night in Beijing. Not the end of the world but of course we'd rather leave the 25th. We'll keep you posted!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Urgent Prayer for Adoptions in Guatemala

This comes from one of my best friends, Dawn.  I've asked for prayer for them before.  I'm asking once again that we fall before God's throne and carry these families and children before Him.  While our process has not been the smoothest around, we know that in a few weeks, we will be getting on a plane and bringing Caleb home.  Right now, Dawn and Gareth do not have that assurance.
Please read this and pass it on to those who will join in our prayers!
 
For a long time, there has been rumor that the
government of Guatemala
was going to cease adoptions with the U.S. However,
a few days ago
the U.S. Department of State published a document
saying that is
exactly what is going to happen. Apparently, certain
government
officials in Guatemala have made known that currently
all adoptions
with the U.S. are to cease by January 1, 2008. The
way things are
going right now, there is not even a chance to begin
adoptions again
possibly until April of 2008.

The U.S. DOS and some adoption organizations are
trying to convince
Guatemala to include "Grandfather clauses" in the
legislation they are
passing. This would allow families already in the
adoption process in
Guatemala to continue. There is also a chance that
the Jan. 1 date
could be pushed back.

There are hundreds of families in the adoption process
right now who may not be able to bring their children
home. There are thousands of children in Guatemala
who will not have the chance to be part of a family,
and there are no social services to be able to
provide for them.

As you know, this has already been a stressful and
very emotional process for us. We have been at this
for 18 months now and we have a little boy who will be
a year old in just 2 weeks that is waiting for us. We
have no idea how much longer we will be in this
process or if we will be done prior to this taking
effect.

PLEASE PRAY
1. For the families and children who are in this
process...they are
going through tremendous stress and heartache right
now. We have many friends that are adopting from
Guatemala as wel that really need your prayersl!!!!

2. That the leaders in both countries will focus on
the children who
are involved, rather than their pocketbooks or
reputations.

3. God will use on e of these possible changes or one
of His own
miraculous design to allow these children to join the
forever families
who are waiting for them.

44 and counting...

There are still 44 seats left on that flight from Dulles to Beijing on the 25th....Boy we'd like a ta so we could take 7 of them!!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Clarification

I just want to make sure that everyone understands that I am NOT anti public education. I have experience in all 3 arenas (public, private and homeschooling). All 3 have their pros and cons and all 3 have their place. It just irritates me when anyone one type of schooling (public, private or homeschooling) thinks that they have the corner on education and that anyone who doesn't do it their way is wrong. I've met people in all camps that think that their way is the only way. My beef with the NEA is that they are so influential when it comes to public opinion and they feel threatened by anything that isn't public education. It is hard enough to school my kids - having to constantly defend our decision against well meaning but not all knowing educators makes it even harder. I guess I'm more sensitive to this because of my education background and the fact that at least one of my kids has spent time in a public education that just didn't work for him. So, to Donna and all my teaching friends - I so appreciate what you guys do! I know what you do is hard and that it is often a thankless job. Do not for a minute think that I am attacking you or the role that public education has in our society. There may come a day when one or more of our kids attend a public school (it sure won't be until HS though - our MS is awful!). But it just doesn't fit every kid and it gets old having to listen to the old arguments about how we are ruining our kids by schooling them at home. If all 3 camps would listen to the ideas of each other, I think all kids would benefit. I've learned a lot from my public school teacher friends as well as my homeschooling friends. All have a passion for teaching kids. I just don't understand why it has to be a battle between the two.

Burr under my saddle

This little tirade is not directed toward those who are not homeschooling their kids and is not a bash on public schools. It is directed at the NEA. Yep, the NEA. I was just reading their annual meeting report and the synopsis is that they think that children who are homeschooled don't get an adequate education and that only state certified parents should be able to homeschool as long as we pay for it (which we do by the way, every single penny with no tax break at all), teach exactly what we are told to teach (by them of course), take all their silly tests and our children don't participate in extracurricular activities (which if our children are at such a disadvantage, you'd think they would want to "help" them all they could if they really had the kids' best interest at heart) . When I brought Nathan home to be schooled 6 years ago, his reading specialist had a fit (I do believe it had to do with her "program" being messed up but that is a different story). She thought I was doing him a terrible disservice. When I asked her point blank if she knew any homeschoolers, she admitted that she did not. As someone who is trained in the education field, this just drives me bonkers!!! If I were in their classrooms, doing what they told me to do, I would be a professional. But since I am schooling my kids at home instead, I am a fringe parent who is doing my children a disservice. Amazing. I have to go and teach now.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Resting or Nesting?

First of all, thanks for all the sweet comments about Caleb's pictures. I know that we weren't the only ones who were concerned about the pictures we got of him in July. It is such an answer to prayer to see him look so much more alert and filled out. Thank you to all who continue to lift our little guy up - your prayers are keeping him safe until we can get him home!
I know that Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest but I had a 2 hour block of time this afternoon with Ken home and no other plans. So, I decided to stock my freezer. I know that once we get home, life is going to be hectic, to say the least. I ran to the store and bought 2 chickens, ground beef, sausage, chicken breasts and beef steaks. 2 hours later I have the makings for 9 different meals in my freezer. I'm going to try to do this one more time before we go so that my freezer is full and we won't be eating Chinese takeout every night when we get back!
We also got the crib up! This is at least the 7th time we've put this thing together so it didn't take long. We've put it in the nook in Jacob's room right now - we'll have to see if that works. I've put the motorcycle quilt that my mom made for Caleb on (it isn't easy to find baby quilts that coordinate with Jacob's dirt bike theme....) and will be working on making this little corner all his own. I'll post photos once I'm done.
So today wasn't very restful but it was productive. I'm not happy about the wait but I'm going to try to make the most of my time.
Anyone want to go Christmas shopping?!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

NEW PICTURES!!!!



New pictures of our sweet boy, thanks to Kim an adoptive mom who visited Datong on Saturday. As if I wasn't ready to go get him before!

Friday, September 21, 2007

CALLING ALL CHICK-FIL-A COW FANS!!!!!

Here is an opportunity to show your Chick-fil-A spirit!! Vote for our cows :)

Action Required: Vote for CFA Cows by Monday, September 24 - America's Favorite Advertising Icon
Forward this email and encourage team members, family and friends to vote by Monday, September 24. The Cows are competing with other advertising icons (BK King, Keebler Elves, California Raisins, Smokey the Bear, Geico Cavemen, and others).
We'll keep you posted if the Cows join the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame.
You can vote one time from a single computer through Monday, September 24: http://advertising.yahoo.com/advertisingweek_07/icon_poll.html

Still on hold...

No TA this week. Not that our travel date is going to change at this point. But it would be really nice to finally have everything firmed up with some real travel dates. I would ask for yet another prayer - There are only 47 seats left on the flight from Dulles to Beijing (the non stop flight!) leaving on the 25th. We need 7 of those. We can't make reservations until we have our consulate appt. We can't get a consulate appt until we have a TA. So you get the picture. I keep going online everyday to check the availability and praying for plenty of "butt free" seats!
We've been holding at 47 left for a few days now - pray that there isn't a mad dash at the last minute or that we get this silly ta soon so I can find something else to worry about :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Link

I've added a new link to my favorites. It is www.worldcraftsvillage.com. This is a nonprofit group that sells crafts made by artisans all over the world to help them support their families. There are some beautiful items. Why not do some early Christmas shopping and support a poor family around the world in the process?! (If you are shopping for me, I can give you my list :) )

We've all been sick this week so just trying to muddle through the week. Ken's stress test went well yesterday - thank you to all who have prayed! I've made drs appts for Caleb so I'm hoping that our Oct 25th travel date is a good one. There is a family who will be traveling to his orphanage this week so I'm hoping for some new photos this weekend. A ta this week would be nice too :) I'm ready for everything to be firmed up and to buy our airline tickets!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Only here...

Where else can you find cow parts all over a garage? After the parts to 3 cows were washed, they got to line dry in 3 of our bathrooms - I can't help but wonder if our children will need therapy for this....

Special Night




Now for the real reason I was trying to get video to download... I wanted to download the video of Jacob and Anna being baptized tonight. Until I can figure it all out, you'll have to just settle for pictures :) We are so proud of them and their decision to put Jesus first in their lives. Both of them came to this point on their own and over a year ago so it took a lot of courage to go forward and be baptized. We pray that this will be a special hallmark in their spiritual lives!

here's another one...

video

Ok, our pets weren't all that exciting tonight but I'm still practicing. At least you get to see Blackie and Tweetie (I'll let you figure out which one is which...).

testing

video

I'm trying to figure out how to download video and am having a hard time getting video from tape to computer to blog. I'm going to need some more technical assistance! In the meantime, enjoy Jacob riding his dirt bike in the back yard - Nathan took this video on my regular digital camera (which I know how to use!).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ice Skating: A Tale of Two Sisters

If you have more than 1 child, you know that they all come into this world wired in their own unique way. With 4 kids under our roof, I can tell you that not a one of them is like the other. This was so obvious to me today at the ice skating rink. My boys were content to do the rock climbing wall/arcade with a friend so it was just us girls out on the ice. First let me say, Anna loves ice skating. She has been begging me for weeks to take her again and after reneging on a promise to ride the ferris wheel at the fair yesterday (the line was over 20 minutes long!!! with a 3 year old having melt down!!! - not a pretty picture) I told her we would go skating. She was tentative as she started out but remembered that she can skate without any assistance and was happy to be on her way. As she has learned to skate over the past year or so, she would work to put her feet in just the precise spot and was always aware of how well she was doing. She has a natural grace which found its way to the ice. I guess dancers will dance, no matter what the surface :)
Which leads us to Sarah. I guess the best way to describe her skating method is attack. This is only the 2nd time she has ever put on a pair of skates. She has no fear. Of anything or anyone (except bugs - go figure). Within minutes, she was holding my hand but not holding the wall. After about 15 minutes or so, the three of us were skating around the rink, holding hands and going at a pretty good speed. Sarah usually only fell when she got busy watching the big kids in the middle of the rink and wondering when she would get to join them. Did I mention she has no fear? I believe that in time, both of my girls will be good skaters - they both are coordinated and enjoy it. What will be different will be their style - one with the grace of a dancer, one with athletic prowess. Both are the most amazing daughters a mom could ask for :) I thank God that he makes us all unique and able to skate through life in our own special way!

Getting Out

We've been busy the last couple of weeks taking some day trips. Last week after we dropped our loa off at AWAA, we headed over to the zoo. Yesterday we spent the day at the county fair. Enjoy the photos :)

Pandas at the National Zoo... (this is mama but I can't remember her name - sorry!)


Asian clawed otters - they were a blast to watch!
I love Sarah's expression!!! This is the Reptile Man - he came to my elementary school!!!! He always has the coolest animals - the kids loved watching him (well, me too... :) )

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An apology of sorts

Ok, now that I've made everyone afraid to say anything to me, I do want to apologize for being a bit confrontational in my earlier post. I guess I could have waited until I was a little less edgy (like maybe in 7 weeks...) to post but one of the purposes of this blog is therapy for me. I've always been able to work things through better when I put it on paper (or computer). I also want to be authentic in my faith and our journey to bring Caleb home. Often this journey, though so worth it, is one of difficulty, challenge and frustration. I never want anyone to read my blog and think that everything was so rosy, that I am some saint who handles everything with such patience and grace. Obviously that isn't true! So I'm sorry if the shock value of this morning was a bit high. I can't promise that it won't happen again in the next couple of months but I really do appreciate the support that everyone has shown us. So don't be afraid of the hormonal mother to be - just send me fine chocolates and no one will get hurt...

feeling a bit like Job

I've been reading Job this morning (yes, all of it) and I'm understanding a bit how he felt. Things just don't seem fair. We have not had one thing go quickly or smoothly in this adoption. If something takes everyone else x amount of time, we have gone beyond that (except for our lid). We were ready for our homestudy to be done in January - it wasn't done until March. 171 were coming in 2 weeks time. Ours took a month. PA usually comes within a month, ours took 6 weeks. The average for loa is 120 days, ours was 140. And now those who were going to be traveling Oct 4 are leaving tomorrow - yes tomorrow. That pretty much seals our October 25 date. I can't imagine that AWAA will send a group out during trade fair now. So that means another 7 weeks to wait to travel. Most people have been waiting a month or so to travel after loa. We will wait 2 months. And all the while, we have a little boy waiting for us who keeps being described as weak and needing us badly!
I do not question God's goodness, nor his plan for our lives or Caleb's. This warrior is just tired of this battle. And yes, I see it as a battle. I am already having a hard time with the wait and now we have to wait almost 2 more months. I cannot do that on my own strength. I am going back and forth between being angry and sad. I am done - I want this over with. I want my little boy home!!!!
I have learned some important lessons though:
*I will never tell someone "It is all in God's timing". I'm embarrassed that I ever have said that. It rings so hollow when you are in the midst of a trial and it implies that the person's faith is somehow lacking. Poor Job - he got that from all his friends. They meant well but they just didn't get it. I get it - I will be a much more supportive person to those who are in a struggle.
*Bad stuff happens and isn't always the direct result of some lack of faith or prayer on my part. If that were the case, Caleb would have been home a long time ago!
*No matter what happens, we are supposed to give God the glory. This has been a tough one at times. It is hard to do when something just seems so wrong. Yet I know that this is what I'm supposed to do. So I pray that the Holy Spirit will help me do this.
*God loves my kids more than I do and He can take care of them just fine. That doesn't take away my responsibility or my "mama bear" instincts. It just means that He is bigger than me and my love for them doesn't even come close to His. And after pouring out my heart to Him for my kids, that gives me a better understanding of the scope of His love!
Some of you may think that I've gone off the deep end. At times I feel like I have. I feel like I've gone through an emotional and spiritual ringer. I have never in my life experienced anything like this. Some of you may think that I just don't have enough faith. Well, you'd be wrong. The refiner's fire hurts. It is hot. And it isn't fun. Knowing that the end product will be a beautiful masterpiece helps at times but it doesn't take away the pain right now.
So those of you who want to help, pray for me and our family. Pray that we will be able to perservere through this battle honoring God. Pray that He will keep our little Caleb healthy until we can finally get on that plane and go get him. Give us permission to suffer and not act as if nothing is happening or that we should be happy to be this close. I'm not asking for a pity party. Just permission to work through this with God.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dreamin

I had my first official gotcha day dream last night. I could actually hold him in my dream! I don't remember a lot of the details but I do remember the sensation of holding him and it all being very right :) And to think I only have 7 more weeks to go....

Monday, September 10, 2007

Possible travel dates

Right now we are waiting to get our travel approval (ta) and once that happens we can apply for a consulate appointment (ca). Once that is confirmed, we can make our travel arrangements. We are shooting for an October 25 departure with an October 29 gotcha day. Even though the trade fair will still be going on in Guangzhou, we won't get there right until it is ending so we should be ok. The only wrinkle will be if it takes too long to get a ta and all the ca are taken. We are praying that at least this part of our process will go smoothly and we can take advantage of a cheaper non stop flight to Beijing and get dibs on early Nov ca.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Our birthday celebration



We couldn't let the day go by without birthday cake too!

Friday, September 7, 2007

some birthday thoughts...

So far I'm not as sad as I thought I would be about not being there for Caleb's birthday. I think getting our loa this week and having it sent off to China today has helped. Thank you God for your timing! I do always struggle a bit with some sadness on these days though. Our joy in celebrating both Caleb and Sarah is the result of someone else's loss. Two birth moms who had to make a choice that I just can't even fathom. Two birth moms who loved their children enough to give them life and provide a way for them to continue living. And we get the blessing. We get to have the cuddles and kisses. We get to hear "Mommy/Daddy I love you". We get to watch as they grow and develop into the people that God has created them to be. We get all that because someone gave it all up. So on this day and Sarah's birthday, I say a prayer for the women who have given me 2 of the greatest joys of my life (ok I haven't met Caleb yet but he has already wiggled his way into my heart). I pray that they will know a peace that is only from God, that they will come to know Him in a personal way and that by doing so, someday on the other side of eternity, they will once again get to meet the wonderful children that they brought into this world.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CALEB!!!!!

So, it isn't the 8th here yet. But in Datong, China, a little boy is celebrating his 2nd birthday with cake and presents. His family desperately wishes that they could be there with him but this will be the last one he celebrates without us! Happy Birthday sweet Caleb - We love you!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Some older photos



I was digging through what information and photos I have and realized that I've never posted the earliest photos I have of Caleb. These photos were taken when he was 6 months old and were the original photos we got with his referral. Even then he was a little peanut :) He is such a sweetie - I"m ready to go get him!!!!

Here it is!


I know it seems somewhat anticlimactic at times during this wait - you wait and wait for a cherished document (171, LOA, TA...) and then you find out it is just a piece of paper. You almost expect it to come with a singing envelope, bells, whistles and confetti. Oh well, there is enough singing in my head to make up for it :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Scrap that - WE HAVE AN LOA!!!!!!!

After what appears to be record time in the matching room :) we got the call an hour ago - we have an LOA!!!!! It only took 140 days!!! Now we have to pray for a quick turnaround on TA so we can try to manuever out of all this October mayhem.
Hold on Caleb - Mommy and Daddy (and Jacob and Anna and Sarah and Aunt Faith and Aunt Kendra!) are coming !!!!!

Matching Room!!!

We have graduated!! We found out today that we are now in the matching room. That usually means an LOA is on its way within 1-2 weeks. So, late October travel is looking like it will actually happen. Is that a light at the end of this long dark tunnel?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Our LITTLE Peanut

Since Caleb's birthday is Saturday, we have arranged for him to get a birthday package, complete with birthday cake and presents. The lady, Ann, who is putting everything together for us in China also was able to get updated measurements for him. The woman in charge said that he is smart but tiny and weak. He has grown - in July he was 16 pounds and 26.5" long. That makes him the size of a small 10 month old at 22 months. Hopefully by the time we get him he will have grown a little bit more but we are still going to be bringing home a very little guy. It is hard to get a concept of just how little he is when I look at other kids his age who weigh 10 pounds more and are, well, an average 2 year old. Looks like the feeding brigade here at the Weikel house will have to kick it up a notch :)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Too Sweet


Have you seen anything cuter?!
Today was a special day for Anna. A year ago she had prayed to ask Jesus in her heart. Well today she took the big step and went forward at the end of the service to ask to be baptized. We are so proud of her! Jacob and Anna are scheduled to be baptized in two weeks. We are so proud of our kids :)