Thursday, April 29, 2010

Paper Chase


Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God
and into the patience of Christ. 2 Thess. 3:5

We got our home agency packet on Tuesday and wow! It's a lot! We should be getting our agency packet today with contract, etc. as well. I'll be honest, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything we are going to have to do on top of getting this place ready for our home study visit. We've done a lot already - handed out reference letters, started our autobiographies about our entire lives, signed on dotted lines, made dr. appointments, etc. We are also knee deep in garage sale preparations and selling things on Criag's List (a lot of disappointments and mishaps unfortunately)... I am resting in knowing that God is giving us the strength, endurance, patience and peace to get everything done - getting that much closer to our sweet one.

Wizard of Poz

For about a month now, Claire has been asking about watching the "Wizard of Poz" - not sure why the P is in there but it's super cute! I hesitated because I didn't want the monkeys and witch to be too scary. Well, she watched it and LOVES it! She loves the singing and the characters. Her favorite being the "munch-ins" =) She said she wanted to be a "munch-in" for Halloween this year but I'm thinking I might have convinced her Dorothy would be fun because she has cool red shoes! There are a number of parts that we skip. On Sunday, she wanted to watch the tornado at the beginning and as soon as it started, both girl's snuck into the tent. We caught these pictures as they couldn't resist watching what would happen next...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

17 months - What she loves

I wonder how many months I'll go for Eden's updates? =) She still changes so much and I love to remember what she enjoys at this age.

She loves to make us laugh, she loves to "tell" us what she thinks, she loves to do what she does on her own time, She loves to have fits, she loves pretending, she loves coming up to your leg and moving her hands to pick her up and then finding anything and everything on counters, shelves, etc for you to pick up for her! Pillows - she LOVES pillows! She will throw herself on them all day long and this girl LOVES to EAT! If someone is eating, she's gotta have it. As in the words of her great-grandma Ann "I've never seen a baby eat so much!"

Here are some pics and one video (her twirling) from the past couple of weeks with some of the other things she is loving right now:

Shoes - if there are any laying around, she'll try all day to put them on - BY HERSELF of course =) Here she is with Mama's slippers...

And here she is with Claire's tennis shoes one! We have a shoe lover on our hands!

This girl LOVES to dance - she'll pump her arm and her latest dance move is twirling as long as she can till she gets crazy dizzy!! Here is the CUTEST video =) (Don't worry! I was watching her close in case she was heading for anything sharp like those cabinet corners! It still makes me nervous just watching it!)

Eden loves chairs that are just her size! This has been an on going love from a couple months before but these pics were too cute and her love just keeps on growing. Who can resist a polka dotted stool?
And movie theater seats for little ones? Yes, this is at a birthday party at Mini-Town with Lily Kate. They were watching Nemo!
This Dora pop up tent is the best entertainer when Mama needs to get something done. She could spend all day in and out, in and out.
She really likes when the tent is on it's side and with sister in tow.
Oh this girl LOVES to color - crayons are her friend and she is actually really good with them. She of course loves to color when sissy is =) Isn't this the cutest?

This week we finally turned Eden's car seat around - I was waiting until she just couldn't fit backwards any more and she was dreading getting in the car so... we turned her around and she LOVES it! She's so much more comfortable now that she is finally growing taller. Here she is sleeping when we got home from church. We did get some video of her just laughing it up when she rode for one of the first times.
And this is what I love... still holding my girl and keeping her my baby a little bit longer =) She NEVER does this so I just had to get a picture to capture the moment!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Acceptance call

Wow - whoever was praying with us for a speedy turn around, THANK YOU so much! We weren't expecting our application to even get to Oregon till Monday by 4:30-7 p.m. but we got the call from Christy today to say they received it and we have been officially accepted! YIPEE!

We will now be getting our orientation packet and then have an orientation phone meeting to go over everything with the contract, program details, timeline, fees, etc. Christy was really helpful in giving us some guidance in picking our home agency. We had to pick off their list between two (I spoke with both earlier this week) and we've decided to go with Lutheran Social Services located in Austin. They have representatives here in SA so the long distance isn't an issue. So, we should be getting their contract this week as well.

This is just the beginning of our paper chase a.k.a. our paper pregnancy!

Again, thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Application

Well, this past weekend we got a tiny glimpse of the waiting game we will be playing the next year or so =) We faxed all our supporting documents to AGCI on Thursday for our phone meeting that afternoon and we never heard from our contact. We were pretty bummed - I left a message and emailed. I knew that something must have come up because they have been WONDERFUL about their communication. So, it was pretty much just waiting to hear back and wondering what was going on! Monday we heard from Christy and she had been VERY sick and out of the office Thursday and Friday. I knew it and was not glad to hear she was sick but glad to hear that it wasn't simply because she just didn't call, etc. So....

Good news! She said all our pre-app supporting documents looked good (financial wrksheet, doctor's documentation on Neil's melanoma, Neil's personal statement on his cancer and my personal statement on a handful of counseling sessions I went through back in 2001). YIPEE! So now we filled out the REAL application and will be sending it to them tomorrow along with our fee, a picture of our family and a picture of the front of our house. Then we wait again to hear if we've officially been accepted. Please pray for a timely response so that we can possibly apply for a partnering fundraising opportunity. We will have to be accepted by AGCI by May 1st to get our application in on time =)

Just called two of the social service offices today to compare procedures, costs, etc. so please pray for us as we make the decision of who to use. I'd like to get that started soon because it's a lot of paperwork to be included in our dossier and we can know a date for our home visit. That just makes me nervous thinking about it!

(Here we are sending our app off to Oregon today! Claire was so excited! "So we get our baby brother now?" and I got to tell her "Not for awhile honey but this is our first big step and we're one step closer to him!")

Family

Last week on Friday we welcomed my Grandma and Aunt Linda to San Antonio and we've been having such a great time! They have really enjoyed spending time with the girls and taking part of some Fiesta Fun! Last night we had a girl's night out to the night Fiesta River parade. I can't believe I've never been before! Loud, decorative floats going down the river + good seats + really good popcorn = a memorable evening! Looking forward to taking Claire to the battle of the Flowers on Friday. She LOVED it last year and just can't wait to see the princesses this year =)

Me and Aunt Linda
Jenny and Grandma
My mom with her friend, Kathy (we didn't get a pic of Kathy's daughter, Molly)
All the family =)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Heart on her sleeve

Here is my sweet, sensitive Claire who wears her heart on her sleeve.

Those of you who know her know that she will cry at the drop of a hat - if she gets in trouble, if I correct her in any way, if someone laughs at her (for whatever reason), if she has to leave and doesn't want to, if she thinks she hurt someone or if someone hurts her or her feelings... the list goes on. (My mom likes to remind me that I was the same way) This drives me crazy at times but you know what? Along with this tearful part of my girl comes the sweetest heart you will find in a four year old. She might be ultra sensitive but she has the empathy that many don't ever posses. So I'll take the sensitivity if that means she will forever have her tender heart for others. It just makes me smile thinking about it. Here are a couple stories I want to remember:

-The picture above was taken this week while she was making cookies for all of our neighbors. I came hone and told her we were making cookies for our neighbors Larry, Sandy and Joanne as thanks yous for various things. With the biggest smile she yelled out to our other neighbor Lucy "We're making cookies for you! And for Peggy and Laura and Larry and Sandy and Joanne..." She wanted to make special cookies for everyone just because =) How could I say no to that? And her favorite part was knocking on the doors to deliver the brightly packaged cookies. Oh and having a cookie for herself! What a sweetie!

- Always kissing and hugging on Eden when she is upset or crying. She often gets swatted at when this happens because it's the most inopportune time according to Eden.

- The other day Claire asked to say the prayer after our bible time together. She said "Dear God, Thank you for the bible and for all my family and friends. Please keep baby brother safe wherever he is. And thank you for Jesus. Amen" Oh, melt a mama's heart!

- Looking out at a lady who was waiting for a bus and saying "Oh no mom! That lady doesn't have any food. We should go give her some." Always looking to help those in need.

- Picking up some trash in the HEB parking lot and saying "Mom, we need to take this because we aren't supposed to litter" and then put it in the car.

- Giving Aunt Linda a huge hug while she was sitting down at the dinner table. Linda asked "Who paid her to do that" but she had done it on her own accord. I LOVE the unsolicited hugs and kisses.

- When she says "Mom/Dad.... I have a present for you..." and she gives us a huge hug =) That's all the present I need.

- The other morning she told me "Mom, I want to get a bag and put toys in there to give to other kids." I gave her a bag and she went to work. When I looked in the bag she had some of her favorite toys in there including one of her favorite dolls and her new favorite star purse. Wow - convict my heart when I hold too tightly onto things. Just things! When I asked her "Are you sure about _______?" She would say "Yeah mom!" like I was crazy to even ask her. Thought this was coming out of no where but later I found out that daddy told a story the night before about a Care Bear who learned that it was better to give than to receive. They are always listening!

Gosh I LOVE this girl!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank you!

First of all, thank you to so many of you that have been so sweet and supportive about our adoption news! I'll be totally honest and say I was really nervous about posting and emailing everyone with our news. We didn't know but one family who has adopted internationally and we haven't gone through the process with anyone so this is a new experience for many of us. I didn't know how others would react. Well, I've been overwhelmed by your love and even more so with your genuine interest! I've gotten a TON of questions and God is really stirring some hearts out there. I'm also REALLY excited about bringing the awareness to the need for orphan care in Ethiopia =)

I'm going to be answering a lot of questions the next few weeks. We want to be as transparent as can be so that we can help others who have adoption and orphan care on the hearts. The first one was "Why Ethiopia?" and I hope that I helped answer that in my last post. The next one is "How did you choose your agency?" and I love this one because it took a lot of time, reading and praying to decide. We've also been asked our concern about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, how we are planning on paying for an adoption that is so costly, why the wait list for a boy is shorter than for a girl and I'm sure there are more to come! If you have a question, please ask away!

Right now we are waiting for Neil's doctor's documentation from his dermatologist in regards to his melanoma that he had almost 6 years ago. (that was a scary time in our first year of marriage) He had his appointment Friday and they said they'd get it done right away so we're hoping to see it tomorrow. Once we get it, we will fax it in with his personal statement in regards to his cancer, my personal statement in regards to some counseling I had back in 2001 and our financial worksheet. Hmmm...guess waiting for the mail to come is just the beginning of the waiting game. I know that God will be teaching us patience and to trust that HE is in control! And once again that His timing is perfect.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two of a kind

Eden can't get enough of sister =) She wants to do everything Claire's doing, play what she's playing, climb on what she's climbing, eat what she's eating, "count" when she's counting... it's been so fun to listen to them (most the time!) This also contributes to some of the first spats between sisters but they are learning quickly how to share and take turns. Here are some moments to remember:

- Eden blowing bubbles after Claire taught her in the bathtub
- Eden twirling around in her new outfit after Claire spun as fast as she could
- Eden "counting" or "singing" after hearing Claire
- Eden climbing on the bathroom stool to brush her teeth and climb up Claire's bedside stool to get up in bed with Claire
- Eden chasing Claire and yelling behind her until Claire turns around to yell and chase her. This will happen forever! As loud as it gets, I LOVE IT!

And here are two of the cutest videos! Actually, I uploaded these about three - four weeks ago and the first one has been viewed 139 times. I guess other people have enjoyed it too!

WHAT? 321 views without posting it on my blog? Is that weird?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

We're adopting!

Oh, if you know me at all, you know that I've been DYING to write this post!! Neil and I have officially decided to start our adoption journey to get our little boy from Ethiopia. Yes, it's true and we're excited, nervous, overwhelmed, humbled, scared, excited and more =) We've always talked about this time in our lives and can't believe that we are actually here.

Well, Neil and I started seriously researching and praying for God's timing back in December. His plan was a little sooner than ours (we thought we'd wait till Eden was 2) but we're going to trust that His will be done. We've been keeping our own private adoption blog to get our feelings, research and journey down and I just opened it to share with friends and family. I'm hoping it will help answer a lot of people's questions. The most common one is "Why Ethiopia?" and I've loved expressing how God has led us to this beautiful country with some amazing people. We've actually written about 7 posts on this question of "why" Ethiopia and just why adopt. I am nowhere near done learning the "why" and look forward to what else God will be revealing to us our journey together. Click http://nklewisadoption.blogspot.com/search/label/why to see all 7 posts if you are interested! (disclaimer =) For some reason I don't have a spell check button on our adoption blog??? So I have TERRIBLY misspelled posts!)

I probably will start writing everything on this blog now that everyone knows and I thank you for so many of your kind words and prayers already this week. We've gotten so much positive, encouraging emails and it makes us so thankful for our support. We won't be able to do this without you!

I want to leave a special prayer request that I included on my email out to close friends and family this week. Please pray for us as we go through the process of gathering all our paperwork for our dossier and go through our home study. I'm a little nervous about it going smoothly! Also, I'd like to ask for VERY special prayers for our little one who has probably already been conceived. My heart breaks for the family who will have to make a tough decision for us to be able to welcome another sweet child into our family. Our joy will be someone's heartache... I can't imagine what his birth mother is going through right now or what she will be going through soon. I pray that she is as healthy as she can be and that our little boy is growing strong.

We are so excited to share our journey with you so please ask us ANY questions at ANY time! You can just leave a comment and I'll try to answer them in another why post!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Our Easter Festivities

We had such fun this Easter season celebrating with our friends,church and family! Just a warning, this post is LONG! I included a lot in one post just to get it done =)

First, we had our annual lunch and egg hunt with our Northside family and the girls had a blast! I was a little concerned about Eden not knowing what to do but she was all about gathering as many eggs as she could! The girls wore their matching dresses from my Aunt Barbara and they looked beautiful!

Abbey and Claire giving hugs!

Leyna and Claire
The girl's with the Easter Bunny aka. Lauren - great job Lauren!
Eden was so excited to get going =)
She knew exactly what to do after we showed her once!
What a cutie!
Claire was so fast while hunting eggs that I couldn't get a good pic but I actually like this action shot!
Sisters
Claire showed Eden that the eggs actually opened and had candy inside!
Our family of four!
Grandma and Grandpa came too! Mimi and Poppa were there to see the girls and the nephews hunt but I didn't get a good picture of them =(
My dad got cut off but I couldn't resist not posting this one!
Abbey, Claire and Leyna checking out their loot
Our next adventure was Wed. for playgroup. I planned for us to go to Brackenridge Park to ride the train and have a picnic lunch. We also had an egg hunt which the kiddos loved! In all we had 16 kids and 2 babies! I tried to make the connection of why we REALLY celebrate Easter which the older kiddos know but they were really distracted by the anticipation of the hunt =) I tried to get them to find the eggs with letters written on them which spelled out "Jesus is Alive!" Maybe next year we'll be a little more successful!

Kristin with Isaiah, Ethan, Ayden, Colby and Ellie. Vanessa and Atty in back!

Here are the Gibbins Boys - Lachlan, Reef, Jonas with Claire (shielding her eyes from the sun), Leyna and Eden. It got pretty hot and sunny out there!
Claire helped me make these special cupcakes with coconut grass!
Eden hanging out with Lachlan and Riley - Eden was too anxious to start her hunt so she grabbed her basket and started collecting rocks!
The kids waiting for the hunt to start!

Eden hunting again =)
Leyna found an A and Claire found an E
Trying to get a group shot after the hunt!
The day before Easter we dyed eggs but I don't have those pics right on hand =) Before bed, Claire and I made resurrection buns which we SO cool and will be a family tradition from now on. We rolled marshmallows up in crescent roll dough, rolled it in butter and then in cinnamon and sugar. Bake them and then wait till the morning to eat. When you wake up on East morning you read the story of the empty tomb, take a bite into your resurrection bun and it's now empty! The marshmallow disappears and leaves an empty tomb. Claire LOVED it and they tasted so yummy!

Claire found her hidden basket in the morning and found a few goodies. Her favorite was a bracelet!
Claire showing us her "Empty Tomb"
Claire helped Eden find her baasket
After church we went to Mimi and Poppa's house for lunch and an egg hunt. My mom and dad got these sweet dresses for the girls with matching shoes. Claire LOVES the full skirt and twirls around. And guess who else twirls? Eden! She just loves doing what sister does!
Eden and Poppa
Claire hunting
Eden hunting
Too cute! Posing with her special basket from Grandma. She gave Claire this basket on Claire's first Easter. My mom got it on HER first Easter so it's a pretty special basket =)
Sister's holding hands
The best picture I could get of all four cousins - Justin, Claire, Kyle and Eden
Cheese!

My mom and dad came to see the hunt but we didn't get a picture =( Darn! After naps we went to my parent's house for a traditional ham and potato dinner. Billy was there too and he helped Claire decorate an Easter Bunny cake that we had for dessert. Can you believe I didn't take any pics on my camera? I know my mom got some so I might have to sneak a few on here later!

Hope you all had a great Easter! What a glorious day to celebrate!