Monday, December 31, 2007

Hillsong - From Inside Out

God help us through these next few days--it's a turning point for us on this journey--and I pray with all my heart--Your Will, Will be Done.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007, SqWishes, and St. Nicholas


12.26.07: All the things I want to Izabella to know about this Christmas in the future—

We were headed out to deliver our baked goods gifts to neighbors and then off to Christmas eve service and my husband walked in with the mail—and oh my--a package from one of my July LID friends! Of course I ripped into it with all the wonder of a kid at Christmas—as I do with all our group packages—I didn’t even bother to look at the return address—I opened it to find your extra square of fleece from Kelly R, a BEAUTIFUL Christmas card and a surprise gift with a Tag that read To: Baby Girl Arndt. I have to tell you—that tag really touched me—I thought--” one year—hopefully soon—Baby Girl Arndt will have lots of gift with tags on them to her”....and we’ll be blessed with the biggest blessing of all—HER—and our family complete.


So—I didn’t want to rush through the opening of this precious package—so I put it on the tree for opening on Christmas morning! Then it was too crazy to open Christmas morning—so I saved it for the last gift that evening—Dan and I opened it together—and I squealed with delight to find the more adorable little red chinese slippers! Dan’s eyes lit up too. He’s so apprehensive about this whole thing—so to see the glimmer in his eye is always a blessing in itself. Kelly -- you’re soooo thoughtful! I admired them and cooed over them for a while and then carefully tied them together with the bow and placed them back on our tree to admire throughout the next week before the tree comes down. I’m attaching as photo of them on our tree.


I also want to post (I be it late--life is so crazy the last couple weeks) the beautiful secret pal gift from Denise--it is the most precious and elaborately detailed lady bug ornament that starts Izabellas ornament collection! It is pictured here as well--on our tree! It is so precious--as I placed it on the tree--I realized we'd probably have (God willing) just 2 Christmas' left before she will be celebrating with us!





And WE GOT OUR FIRST--Family/Friends Sq-Wish today and it couldn't be more perfect. It still brings a huge smile to my face! It's the sweetest purple, fleece with whimsical sheep on it and the best part is--Zophia picked it out! Thanks soooo very much Shayna, Matt and Zophia. And Shayna, your friendship is and always has been "God's Perfect Timing" in action. You give me such hope--and inspiration. You have been on this journey with me since I've known you--you're always there for me--believe in me (even when I do not) and your friendship is so much more than friends--I always think of you as family--your square is absolutely perfect and so very special. As you mentioned in your wish--I hope our daughters will be best of friends--like you and I. I can't wait for the day you meet her--that will be a special day indeed. I'm picturing it here and will post on our quilt site as well...it's too perfect to only see once. :)

On a final note...the Christmas eve service at HOPE was just simply beautiful, as always—but I have to share—the message this year was “God’s timing is perfect.” Can you believe that? As you know it’s our theme song this past year—and will be until we bring her home. For me it was the assurance "God's Wink" I needed to affirm--truly, this is in God's hands and he has only our best interest in mind. Whatever the outcome--this year I have tears of Joy came in my eyes throughout the service. Tears happen for me at every service—I’m always so moved by the way God work in our lives—and it brings me to tears. The difference is—past years have been tears of sadness feeling the whole in my heart where a child should be. Afraid to tell anyone the pain--of that for a little girl that always wanted nothing more than to have a family and be a MOM! Thankfully--no one asked why I was weeping. Until mid-January of this year—the hope of a child was all but gone for us. This year—my tears are of JOY—that we have HOOE—that someday—God willing—we will have a child to share the miracle of Christmas with! As God would do—he even gave me yet another little "God’s Wink" moment—as we entered the sanctuary—a man with a BEAUTIFUL little Asian child was walking towards us. And then she ran by us a couple times—before the service got started—ah...she was so sweet! Someday--Someday...it will be Izabella running around.

In our July LID Yahoo Group--some have been sharing their feelings about the Santa thing! It's a tough issue and there are all perspectives. I personally think it's like your religion--it's a personal choice--and one that only feels right for you. But it is my feeling—and always has been—that St. Nicholas was such a generous spirit and a Saint at that—that I do believe that spirits like his --that are that amazing--don’t just die—they live on and make magic forever in the lives of those they touched and beyond. Silly maybe—but I honestly think I’m the biggest “Santa believer out there”...I remember so clearly--as if it was yesterday--hearing his sleigh bells and watching him fly by my bedroom window one Christmas when I was a mere 5-years old. It’s hard to erase that image from my head and discount it to a myth. So, although I believe the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus—I also believe in St. Nicholas and his amazing spirit. Although I do understand others concerns about lying to our children—I think I’ll stay with the spirit of St. Nicholas in our lives—and like my parents did for me—let me figure out for myself what to believe. When I asked my MOM if "Santa--aka St. Nicholas" was real--she so wisely and simply said--”that my dear is something for you to figure out for yourself--and you can trust your judgement on that.” I will do the same for Izabella :)

Dan and I enjoyed an amazing day just the two of us--we visited with family in Nebraska and Vermont but we did not travel--as Dan has been working 30-40 hours of overtime--so his schedule (the weather) did not allow us to go to Nebraska as planned. However, we had a beautiful day--we opened gifts throughout the day--it was a gorgeous day--so we took the girls (our dogs Montana and Sadie) for a long walk and let them off the leash to run and play--what a beautiful thing to see them prouncing around through the bush chasing each other in such restless abandon. They bring us so much Joy! Had a dinner of Smoked Ham from a sweet friend--it was delicious--Thank you Denny. We even did a few chores together we needed to do and haven't had time--yup--it was actually very satisfying to work together on them and get them behind us. Most would think we're nuts--but--truly--it was kinda fun. :) Dan got a few games for Christmas (shouldn't every boy/man get a couple toys to play with on Christmas) so he broke them open and started playing--while I watched in amazement that he could do these electronic games with such ease. In the end--we both fell asleep watching the story of AC Gilbert (an inspiring story about a man that wanted to be a toy maker--and after much struggle and perserverance he had his dream--a very successful toy company--he is the inventor of Erector Sets, and eventually other educational toys that challenge our young children's minds like the Science Lab Set (which was inspired by his only son who was fasinated by Science). He was called upon by our government to turn his toy factory into a amuniction factory for the war effort--and struggled to support our government (which he did in deep confliction in his heart) to encourage americans to forgo toys for the children and instead by "savings bonds" for them that would support funding the war effort. But, after at the son of one of his closest employees to the war--he had a change of heart--found a way to verbalize that for congress and "saved Christmas". It was pretty neat. He only died recently in 1969. I was 9-years old when he dies--I wish I had known him then. He's a very inspirational man--and lived a wonderful life.
The last thing I said to Dan as we retired for the evening is, "I don't want Christmas to end this year." I think it's because we had such an amazing day together!

The last gift I opened from Dan had a tag that read, "To the one that makes me whole. Love, Daddy." --yeah--ditto that--our lives apart were so different--and as they said in the service on Christmas eve--and we commented on while we were there--our meeting was a long awaited and dreamed of meeting for both of us--one we both thought might never happen. Just like our meeting Izabella. But we both agree--it was not coincidence--it was "God's Perfect Timing"! We're so blessed to have each other--the best gift of 2007.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Square for Them and One for Izabella....

12.3.07: Yup! I went shopping for fabric squares for the families in our JULY LID'rs group quilt swap--it was truly fun...and 3 hours just flew by..it's been a long time since I was in a fabric shop, I had forgotten how many options there are...armed with my list..I thought for sure I was equipped to get just what I wanted. 2 hours into the search--crumpled list and all--I was short 3 squares...then I realized the ones I had weren't the perfect ones either...suddenly I realized I needed a meaningful theme (that's the way i work)--and all of a sudden it started to fall together. We did a get get to know each survey a while back--and it occured to me...if I'm right..most all the families love "pink". So pink it is...every fabric must have some pink--except for the boys of course (which I had easily picked out already--they jumped off the wall of fabric at me...). So in no time I was at the table to cut my pieces from the overloaded cart of bolts. I got all kinds of looks from ladies--"what in the world are you doing with all that fabric?"...if they only knew how special it was..it would make their day I'm sure...:) Hee. Hee. Now I need to make the wishes and they're off in the mail!

On a final note: I couldn't resist this adorable fleece. so I got it...an early christmas gift of sorts. I can't believe the beautiful fleece that's out there now. Sooooo soft, soooo adorable! I'm also beginning to secretly hope all my squares have some pink in them....yup, this from the non-traditional girl. :) So far so good--got our second square last week all the way from a family in Florida..it's PINK and it's so amazingly soft. See our Izabellas quilt blog for a pic of it.
http://www.lotsofsquishes.blogspot.com/

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Decorating our Tree and ICE, ICE, ICE...

12.1.07: This morning we were under a weather advisory for ICE, ICE, ICE so of course, Dan got called in to run his work at 4:30am. I got up with him--like I always do--to see him off. I always have--but since 9-11 I make sure I do everytime--as I recall so vividly (we all remember different things from that terrible day) a woman trying to find her husband--and when asked what he was wearing--she said, "I don't know--he left before I got up." Wow--how awful for her. So...it's a MUST in our home. Anyone leaves the house--or leaves me--and there is always a HUGE hug, a sweet kiss, a sincere I love you, and a special note of them (what they're wearing , the look in their eye, how they feel when they wrap their arms around you..etc.). Might sound silly--but I couldn't bear losing someone I love with my last encounter being awful or non-descript.

Anywho-I also can't sleep well without him--so I just got up--had my coffee--visited with my mom and my sister (on the phone), and got on with my day. We were going to decorate the tree and the house today. So--I went ahead--without Dan--for the first year since we've been married. It was rather sad. I missed him terribly--the lights on the tree just aren't the same without Dan's touch--and the entire day wasn't the same--without football in the background.

Through out the day of decorating--I couldn't help but think about Izabella, how much more fun this all would be with HER here with us. I am reminded--it will happen--in God's time--in the meantime--it was fun thinking of some traditions we could start, and some we could carry forward from my family and Dan's. She will rock our world. At the point where I pulled out our stockings to put on the mantel--Montana and Sadie awoke from their sleep as if someone had whistled to them--and ran over to me--tails wagging as if Santa had already come. Santa leaves goodies in their stockings every year--and on Christmas morning they run downstairs and sit patiently in front of the fireplace, looking at their stockings--hoping to get what's inside SOON. It's hilarious. I swear at times they're just like kids. They never cease to amaze me--at their ability to give me that "kid" experience I need--right when I need it. I love them sooo....:)

I finished decorating as our family tradition will have it--I always put the nativity scene that my mom and dad gave me for my first Christmas in my first home (I was single then) out last. As I was walking up the stairs from returning the last set of boxes to the basement--I thought how wonderful it would be--if the XM Radio would play "Silent Night" while I put it out for this year. Huh--not likely. But it would be really nice. As God would have it--my wish was granted-I opened the box and pulled out one of the wise men and sure enough--Silent Night--began to play--as if on cue! Priceless! A tear rolled from my eye in grateful joy--that He does hear us, that He answers, that even in the smallest things (that we often don't even notice) he assures us.
I can't wait to share it all with Izabella. I just know it will be AMAZING beyond our dreams--where ever you are--I love you so--our little Izabella! Merry Christmas--Mom.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sisters.....


11.27.07: 2007 has been the year of seeing old relationships in a new way--with a new perspective. I think by far the most special thing to happen is the growth of my relationship with my little sister. I've always respected and loved her enormously. But this past year has taught me things about her and us that I will treasure and endears me even further to her.

When I was home--I had the opportunity to spend some time with my nieces Jessie and Alex (my older brothers daughters). The most interesting observation is how much these sisters are like my sister and I. In how we communicate, our strengths and weaknesses, our personalities, the roles we play with each other, the silly things we do and act. It was so neat to see that.

I'm so proud of both of my nieces. Jessie is engaged to an adorable man--that clearly loves and adores her and takes such special care of her and her family. And Jessie, you're so good to an old Aunt. You never cease to amaze me with how you always have the perfect come back and the perfect thing to say. I'm so happy for you and John. And Alex is so beautiful. She has really grown up since I last saw her. She's so kind, loving, silly and goofy like us. Hard workign too--holds down two jobs, is on the gymnastic team and goes to school full-time. I appreciate all the time you took out of your busy lives to spend time with me. I love you so dearly.

Here are a couple pictures--dedicated to "sisters"--from our trip home. (PS--the guy behind us is my little brother Donny--being the annoying little brother--we love him for it. The picture was taken by my Big Brother Danny.)

The leaf....



11.27.07: As a final note to the Journey Home--I failed to mention a very series of events, concerning a certain "silly little leaf". Those of you that know me--know this is typical Lisa style. Before leaving my Dad's grave that day--I carefully selected a leaf--I was attracted to it by the little hole in the top. I wanted a physical memory to bring home with me from there--I wasn't sure the next time I'd be able to visit. I threw it in the center console holder in the truck. Before we left--the stress was high--I was exhausted--Didn't want to leave--consequently Dan and I had a bit of a spat over how to load the back seat where "our girls" would ride. My niece got stuck trying to get up the drive to the house--so Dan, Chris and Shelly went down to pull her out. I decided to clean out the truck while I had a chance. I came upon that leaf--with a kurt toss I threw the leaf out the door saying to myself, "oh Lisa don't be silly...it's just a silly leaf". Dan returned--we said our tearful goodbye's and headed down the road. At our first stop to fuel (remember the first stop to fuel on the way out?), I looked down to pull out my notebook from the door pocket to record the mileage for our trip, AND there it was "THE LEAF"! I thought, "Surely this isn't the same leaf!" Infact, it was! Just beautiful. It's the little things in life--if you pay attention--will lead you down the right path. And if nothing else--fill your heart with joy, laughs and make you feel certain--that LOVE never dies--and it truly is a VERY powerful thing. This is a picture of "THE LEAF".

Journey Home

11.27.07: We labored over whether to go or not. We had been planning it for months--since my sisters last visit here in August for Dan's Birthday. But, finances are so tight, the studio is busiest this time of year, if it snowed Dan would miss out on much need overtime money, gas prices are sooo high (expected to hit $4/gal.)...the list goes on and on. I kept hearing my Dad say over and over in my head when I consulted him on whether to come home or not at various times when he was alive--he'd say, "You need to decide where your priorities are...that's all." So, in the end--family IS priority--it's how we were raised--it's how I feel--and all the other stuff will fall in place. So we thought lets just do it.

So at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday 11/17 we hit the road, drove straight through and arrived in southern Vermont on 11/18 around 11:30 a.m. At our first stop for fuel and a bit to eat--we consulted my sister on the best route from Albany to Bolton. After I hung up the phone--a wave of emotions rolled through me--as I realized--we could go route 100 which would take us up through the valley--where my Dad was born and raised and he is buried there. I could visit my Dad's grave for the first time since his funeral in 1999. Previous trips home, I had wanted to visit, but something always got in the way. Suddenly it was all clear, this is why we were meant to take this trip. Thanks Dad.

From that point on--the trip was rather easy--19 hours of driving is never easy--but the purpose and peace in knowing we were doing the right thing made me excited to be GOING Home. We looked for our house in Castleton--but couldn't find it (we lived there when I got the hives on my throat and my dad rushed me to the hospital in his police cruiser with the lights on and saved my life). Then, we crossed the bridge over Lake Bomesean--it was an adjacent lake (Lake St. Catherine) that I fell off my floaty and went to the bottom of the lake--my mom pulled me out and my Dad saved my life again by administering CPR. Amoung many other memories--these are the most memorable. I learned to tie my shoes in Castleton, got a green peanut butter cake for my birthday and got my arm caught in the wringer washer trying to be a "real mom". All stories I've told on this blog previously. It was interesting to drive through there. Next was a stop at the house I was raised in from 5-8. I still hold my dear friends Mary and Karen dear to my heart. This is a picture of me in front of the house on our trip last week.

Also pictured are the old shed my dad built over 40 years ago and the dog house he built for Gertie (our family dog).


Next stop was the "little falls" and the "big falls" at Granville Woods. My grandmother used to take us there black berry picking (she loved me--as I was the only one that came out with a full basket--my sisters and brother ate more than then put in the basket). She also would drive there to get fresh water (they had no modern plumbing in their house), and the best part was how beautiful and magnificant the falls were. The water ran clear as glass--and the sound was overpowering and soothing at the same time--as the water rushed down over the rocks to the pool below and trickled away down the brook that ran along the road through the woods. On a humid hot day--my mom and dad would load us in the car, put all the windows down and drive through Granville Woods--it was like air-conditioning (that we didn't have), as the road is completely covered by trees and the shade keeps the air very cool. Here are a couple pics in front of the small and large falls.



Next stop--Grammy and Grampy's House and a surprise visit with my great Aunt Jerry, she still lives in the little house across the street from Grammy and Grampy's, she's over 80 now, and still living on her own. It was so wonderful to visit her. Ironically--at that same stop--as we pulled over--there was a woman walking with a little girl along the side of the road, talking a afternoon walk--the woman was my Dad's high school best friend's sister, and her granddaughter "Iris"--who was adopted from China! Special indeed. This picture is taken in front of my Grammy and Grampy's house in Warren--we spent many 4th of July's sitting on this stone wall watching the parade with all my family. It was always a time we looked forward to.

Next stop--Dad's grave. In our rush to meet up with my sister--we drove right by the cemetery, we drove back. I couldn't find his grave marker--Dan found it--I didn't know what to say...or do. A flood of emotions rolled over me--I just miss him sooo much. That's all I could think. I had decided on the trip here--I would say, "Hey Dad, it's the Kid." He always called me "the kid". But I felt silly saying that--so I didn't. Dan and I said a prayer together. Then Dan headed back to the truck. It was time to go. But I just didn't feel right about leaving--so I looked to the sky (as pictured here) and said, "Hey Dad, it's the Kid." I looked away to Dan over by the truck--looked back up at the sky again--and as clear as day--there was a cloud, that had formed in the image of my dad as I had seen in pictures of him as a young boy. I yelled to Dan to bring the camera--sobbing with joy and elation--but the camera--just zoomed, in --and out--and in...it wouldn't focus--as the cloud was dispersing as quickly as it had formed. The photo below is of what I could capture of it. I looked at Dan, now standing beside me, and through my sobs said, "Did you see that too? Or am I losing my mind?", he shook his head in agreement, and I saw a tear roll from the corner of his eye down his face. My Dad was a very powerful spirit in life and in death. His spirit is so strong at times I can smell him--especially at my deepest times of need. And the neat thing is--many times--he surprises me with his support. He was a man of deep family convictions--he taught us the power of family, of love, of forgiveness, trust, respect, giving and compassion. He was the center of my world--upon his death--with his approval--my husband has become my center here. But he remains with us in all his power and glory. I do believe in God. I believe it is God that gives us such an amazing spirit--if we just have faith and believe. My dad too believed--that is rather obvious.


It is also a tribute to this Journey Home that a name for our little girl should be finalized (of course i always leave it open--as we might change our mind when we see her beautiful face and spirit). As we traveled to Vermont--and the highway dashed below our wheels in the dead of the night--I had time to think--it occured to me that the name I've always loved "Isabella" had the letters of my name in it "Lisa"--hmmm--and then it occured to me it also had some letters from all the names of Dan's family and mine. I was certain--this is her name. It's meaningful, it's beautiful, it's full of options for her (Ella, Izzy, ZiZi...) to fit her personality and what she likes to be called. I love it. So today I updated the blogs with her name. She feels closer and more real everyday.


I also got some good thinking/work done on our book. It was a wonderful trip. Thank you Dan for Taking Me Home. My heart really needed it. You're my life, my love, my rock.

I had the best Thanksgiving I've ever had! So many things came together for me this Thanksgiving--I was with MY family (so many holidays were spent with other families--that so generously took me in and shared their family with me so I wouldn't be alone--while my family enjoyed the holiday together--just me missing). It was my first Thanksgiving with my husband--I can't tell you the sense of peace I felt with that. Our gathering was held at my precious little sisters house--she is an amazing woman, I am so proud to be her Big Sister. We didn't have one family drama all day! We just plain had a very meaningful day--on top of the Shelly and Chris mountain, it seems only the birds were higher than us that day.

We returned home safely on Saturday morning at 7:30am--11/24/07. It was too early--I wish I had more time--I wish they all lived closer.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Lots of Little Signs and Blessings--


11.09.07: First of all, tonight we discussed names! Yup--we dared to do so. It was so fun. It Isabelle is in the running and Dan's eye glimmered and a sweet smile grew on his face, while tears filled my eyes when I suggested—Isabella Danielle (Danielle after Dan) and then I thought we could name her after both of us and call her "Isabelle Danlis. He thought that was pretty too.

Also--I have a VERY, VERY special friend, she knows who she is—she is also an adoptive mom of 2 boys. She shared with me the St. Theresa story and a prayer they said often through out their journey to adopting their two boys—and in the end—she gave a sign that indeed she was there for them and assured them of their path and destiny. I am so grateful for her and for the prayer she shared. It will always be very special to me and to our little girl. :) Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways. Meaning she believed in doing the little things in life well and with great love. She is also the patron Saint of flower growers and florists. She is represented by roses. I know you’re curious—so I’ll share it with you—the prayer goes like this:
St. Therese, The Little Flower, please pick me a Rose from the Heavenly Garden and send it to me with a Meassage of Love. Ask God to grant me the Favor I Thee implore and tell Him I will Love Him each day More and More.--Amen.--Thank-You my sweet, dear friend Pat.

AND we rec’d our infamous “brown envelope” from China today! It’s the last paperwork we need from the US Consulate Embassy in China for our little one to be ours. We can not accept a referral to our little one with our this precious package! I had actually not realized we would get it so soon. So it was a complete surprise...and beautiful sign. You don’t know the joy in my heart when I realized the very generic—direct mail looking piece of mail rolled up with tons of other junk mail was our BROWN ENVELOPE from CHINA!!! Wow!

So—with all that said—it’s all in the stars my friends. We just need to have faith and pay attention. The littlest things are the biggest blessings.

I'll close with another prayer from St. Theresa that was sent my way from my friend Bobbi tonight--a perfect end to a day of blessings.
St. Theresa's Prayer:

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.--Amen

Monday, November 5, 2007

Our "Squishes Quilt" for our little girl!



Our amazing online JulyLID group of women has inspired me once more to get moving on a project I have wanted to do, thought about doing and haven’t figured out the parameters of yet. So...as they talk about their quilt project—mine (of course it has to be different—anyone that knows me, knows, I like to be different) I have formulated our quilt.

Actually quilting goes back in our family, as I made my first quilt when I was just 13 and “tyed” it on an antique quilting frame at my grammy cota’s house. I remember cutting the squares on rainy days at the pool when I was a lifeguard. The photo is of me with my finished quilt--at my Grammy's house. (...just FYI Green was my favorite color--and the color matches the walls in my room at the time). The super cool thing is—I inherited that antique quilting frame that was my Grammy Cota’s. It’s a family treasure.

Here’s how the tradition got started—the “Squishes Quilt” is a Chinese tradition, so it will have special meaning to her as well.

Chinese Squish Quilt Tradition--In parts of China there is a tradition in which family members and friends of expectant parents give them scraps of cloth or old clothing, and with this scarp of clothing a card with their good wishes. The fabric is then made into a quilt, which will wrap the child with the energy of good luck and wishes. The cards with good wishes are kept in a book, so the child has a map of sorts to each square—indicating who gave this wish. This is also a visual way to show the child how many people loved them even before meeting them!

I love tradition—especially when it’s especially meaningful to your family and friends. The idea of making such a lovely keepsake is a must do for our family!

The details of the ARNDT Family Squish Quilt--So here it goes..our little girls very special “Sqwishes Quilt” will be:
-- meaningful
-- soft
-- colorful
-- and it will be used! Not a show piece.

Be Creative--Many of my family members live in Vermont—the weather is very cold—and fleece is a favorite fabric choice for clothing. If you so choose—you could use an old fleece shirt, pullover, jacket to make the square. This would follow the tradition of scraps of special fabric in the traditional Chinese Wishes Quilts. The only requirement is it should be lightweight fleece. OR—you could opt to purchase a piece of new lightweight fleece fabric—I’ve been told sometimes the best way to purchase fleece is to purchase a small blanket or throw. It’s really up to you—whatever moves you—feels right for our little girl and her new family. Whatever you chose wil be perfect.

I would love you to participate in my quilt project by sending us a squish.

CREATING A SQUISH (A Fleece Fabric Square plus a Card Wish ):

For example “Squishes” click here

1. Choose any Lightweight FLEECE fabric that you like-any design or color. You may use a piece of old fleece fabric that is special to you, or a new fleece fabric that inspires you feel inspires good feelings, good luck and good wishes.

Note: If it is a new piece of fleece—please DO NOT WASH it.

2. Fabric Square--Cut one 12" x 12” square from the fabric.

3. Card Wish--On a 3"x5" or 4"x6" card attach a small piece of the fabric (so we can to match which fabric goes with which wish) and write your wish on the card.
Your wish can be your own original writing or a favorite poem, a prayer, a blessing, a quote, or anything else you like to say to our little one from your heart to hers. Please sign your wish and include, a photo of your family or yourself, your city, state and date of your wish on the card. The date is important—as this wait looks like it will be years—and those dates will show her the love that was here for her for YEARS before her arrival.

4. Mail the fabric square and wish card to us.
If you need our address—please email me at ljcotaa@mchsi.com

That’s it. We have had wonderful support from so many people during this process, and we thank you very much for all that support as well as for your participation in this project of creating a beautiful gift of meaningful wishes for the little girl.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A referral in our LID JULY07 group!

10.12.07--As impossible as that sounds--yes--that's right. One of the families in our group got a referral of a little girl on Monday--pictures of her were posted on their blog today! She's gorgeous. They added their name to a Special Needs list wit their agency in March of 2007 as they began the paper chase and expected the wait to be at least a year--but instead they got a referral to their little girl in about 7 months. She has a corrected heart condition, and possibly a couple other things to be corrected once she gets home. But otherwise--she's perfect! She's in foster care in China (this is soo good) and they call her "Si Si". How sweet is that! If you want to see her and read more here is their blog address--her mom tells her story better than I could ever do--http://www.journeytomaggiemae.blogspot.com/. I am so happy for them.

They are especially special to me as they have the same DTC (Dossier to China ) date (7.13.07) and the same (LID) Log-in Date as WE HAVE. I knew there was something special about that day! Maybe this is a sign that we too are in for a n un expected surprise. Who knows--God knows--his timing is perfect.

Made my day!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Will this journey be about just the journey....

10.9.07:...and not the destination? Sometimes (especially when I think about the 3-year wait and how old we will be 3-years from now) that it really is about the journey--and not the destination (our little girl). I feel like the fact that we are on the list "waiting" is like a dream come true. Is it that this is God's way of saying "your dream is still alive"? Is it true we WILL get a little one in the end? Or will it all fall apart before we get to her? Ah....but it's still possible....I just might be a MOM someday--and my daughter is from China. That's the hope, that I savor...the days of wanting to be a MOM and seeing everyone else become mom's are over and now I'm still wanting to be a MOM and waiting to hold my little girl. That's a miracle in itself. This little blonde haired, green eyed little girl, that whenever asked what she'd be when she grew up replied, 'I want to be a mom" is now 47 years old, and that dream should be all but GONE. But you my sweet one--keep this dream alive. It's a dream I've had for what seems a thousand years, it's a yearning that never goes away, it's a long, long road to you. If this is not the path--some day, some path, some where we will meet. And we will both know it was meant to be. God placed this desire to adopt on my heart at 13--that's 34 years ago, it's never died, has always been there and oh my GOD, it still very possibly could happen. And the thought of that moment--makes my heart swell and my eyes weep with joy. Is it really real? Will I really become a "mom"?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

the most adorable thing...


10.4.07: ...arrived in the mail today! It's a little buddy blanket--and it's sooo amazingly soft! I've seen these at the showers I've gone to--I actually think my friend Kelly just got for her shower. I loved it and thought to myself--how adorable i need one of those! Well now I have one--can you believe it! I wish I knew who sent it (Shhhhh...it's a secret pal)...if you're reading my blog--THANK-YOU Secret Pal, it's so special. It's her very first gift--and as I un-wrapped it I immediately got teary-eyed as I could see her tender little fingers wrapped around it. I'm thinking this is going to China to give her when we meet her. It's so perfect. Oddly enough--years ago when we first started to think about our adoption journey--I bought a little rabbit rattle, that looked just like this one. Yet another God's Wink. It was so sweet--i had to take photos of it to share--everything about it perfect.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dying Professor's Last Lecture

Please watch this video--it's powerful, inspiring and simply amazing. I made my comments and feeling and of course rambling thoughts in the post below it.

On Writing on Walls, and REALLY wanting your dreams

This is the most profound video. I was just this evening feeling like there were "lots" of brick walls popping up on my dreams. Those in the adoption community know what I mean, as well as many other things I've had to really fight for this year. Is it ironic or another God's Wink that for the first time in my life--someone said I was "tenacious". It was my big brother. I was so moved by that word used as a discription of me. So, isn't it ironic, or is another "God's Wink" moment--that I should run across this video NOW, at this moment in my life. It's as if he was speaking to me directly. He even speaks of painting formulas on the wall, AND his parents let him! Funny thing is--I had a wall in my room too--that was my creative wall. I would create different art for it on a regular basis. By the time we sold the farm house there must have been a easily thousands of staple holes, marks where the tape pulled the paint off the wall and nail holes. But MY PARENTS LET ME! I have some of my fondest memories of doing this--making it mind--making a statement with this wall of MINE. I remember one time I even made a whole wall that was all about President Nixon--it was during the election year. I was politically aware--even back then. And still am today. Another one was about "not using drugs and how bad they are for you--my dad was a policeman. But it was my wall! I shared the room with my sister and two brothers, and even they couldn't touch it--it was off limits. (Just a side note--We actually would draw chalk lines in the carpet to divide the room into 4 sections--so we each had our own area. My parents let us do that too! Sometimes we'd be mad at each other and insist the one we were mad at had to get in and out of the room without touching anyone elses part. Hmmmm...that was a challenge. Anyway--I'm off track, that memory just flooded my head. Sorry. This professor talks about brick walls having a purpose--that they are there to see if challenge us to see if we REALLY WANT IT BAD ENOUGH! He says that the brick walls are also to keep the OTHER people out! I feel sooo much this way about our little girl in China. I've often said, I feel like (according to my understanding of the numbers of applications and the whole process over the last couple years) as if there were many, many thousands of families running towards China to adopt a little girl, all for various reasons, and the walls that have been thrown up with the wait and the uncertainty, and everything else has filtered that number down to a few thousand families that REALLY WANT IT--and I am so honored and proud that we have made it this far. Ironically enough--I found this video on a blog of a family that I assume has been waiting a very long time--there is no LID date on their site--but if it's anything like the others that got referrals this week--their wait was over 2 years! They were told 6 months when they started the process! THEY REALLY WANTED THIS DREAM. And they got a little BOY! First one I've seen a referral for--how special is that. I hope you were as inspired as I was! One final thought--I couldn't help but wonder--why did God take him so early in his life? But a my mom always says "God doesn't want any weeds in his garden". It's a must see--infact, I'm going to watch it one more time--and then go to bed and DREAM. This magic carpet ride truly is magical in all it's crazy turns.

the Great Gift-Swap!

10.3.07: It’s been a while since I posted. Since my last post—life has been so hectic. But I wanted to share about a neat little thing our JULY/AUGUST LID group is doing. To help pass the time—and lend a bit of non-online technology—support to our group, we started what’s called a group swap. Kind of like a secret Santa. Our first swap was this week—little packages were dropped in the mail on Monday and will be arriving soon. There is a theme each round and the rounds are only every quarter for now and will get more frequent as our wait comes to a close. As I was putting mine together—I was reminded it’s not the $ spent but the personal nature of each gift and it’s meaning that truly is the BEST part. Frankly, it was a bit hard to pick a gift for someone I’m just getting to know. I like my gifts to all be meaningful and useful at the same time. That’s the practical side of me. Since I know my secret swap person reads my blog—I won’t tell you what I purchased. But what I will tell you—is as I started to wrap it up and get it ready for the mail I realized, that was the best part! I was imagining her receiving the gift in the mailbox and opening it with curiosity and excitement and wanting her to get a little piece of my heart in doing so. So, I put my little touches to the package and off it went to the mailbox. Who knew I would experience such a neat community of women—as a result of a journey to make a family. A certain Blessing!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

God's Wink!

9.18.07--An awesome spiritual day today--it was a glummy, rainy day--my schedule is busy--but seems easy compared to the past few weeks, and yet I was rather melancoly--our LID group was a beautiful place today. We're all struggling with teh possibility of a 4-year wait. AND today we all realized truly--TODAY is what is important--and if we focus on that--time will be well spent and simply fly by--I also actually verbalized my "God's Wink" theory. I felt a little silly doing so--but after I did it--it was rather freeing. The ladies of our group are so amazing. Strong, resiliant, smart, energetic, full of compssion and very honest with their hearts and their lives. I just love the spririt that lives there. It can even be fun and silly, and just plain make you smile, hopeful and scared at the same time. Thanks ladies--you're in my prayers and my thoughts daily. So...funny thing is--just as I share my never shared "God's Wink" theory--the most perfect little "God's Wink" happened. Here it is--hee, hee...silly me...lucky me..how ever you want to look at it...I'm ok...it's all mine....yee haw! Our LID is the 17th Day of July. I was working on a fund raiser--for an inner city youth
foundation project--I sent a file of bidder paddles--to the printer
(numbers 1-105)--(the same file I sent last year)--and funny thing
was--it was missing paddle number "17". No one noticed it last
year--just got the call this a.m. God's Wink! Right on! Cool huh!? I think so. Love you little one--I'm coming--and enjoying every minute of the journey. Good Bad and otherwise. If it is meant to be sweetie--it will BE! Love, Mom.

Dan's (Dad's) 50th Birthday Party!





Four-Year WAIT!!

9.18.07--the latest rumor is it will be a 4-year wait! At first hearing this rumor, my heart sank. But then I realized, if this truly is the plan God has for me, it will happen in His time not mine. So, hey—I’m ok giving up control of this one. Suddenly it was all ok. Maybe that’s blind faith, but it’s where we’re at right now.

Other families in our situation (essentially in line at the same time we are) are especially anxious with the 4-year rumer news. Understandably so. For me, this journey is a day-at-a-time. I’m sure it’s what God has planned for me, in that I should have the hope of bringing this little girl into our lives. That in itself is a gift. Merely the idea that it’s possible is more than we had just 9 months ago. And in a what may seem strange way, that’s a joy and a blessing. The end of this journey is a complete unknown. No matter how you look at it—China, it’s government, the availability of children, the 2008 Olympics, world politics and all the unknowns only point to more questions. So the only thing I know for sure is that God is in charge of this one. It was an act of faith to pursue this dream—and it is with faith that no matter the ending that I will be satisfied to have followed my heart.

All too deep for this early eh? Oh well—that’s where we’re at.

Lately—my mind has been on my book. I so want to carve out some time for that! Like adoption, this book is a life-long dream. It occurred to me recently, could it be, that this book might be one of the steps to achieving the bigger dream of adopting a child and finally having a family of my own? Hmmmm....seems that just might be. The only way to find out—is to get going on it. So--I must eh? :) the words of my dear-dear friend Mary Kay Shanley, nationally renowned author, words of advise, inspiration and support for this dream—are in my head like no others—and I am so grateful for that. She believes in my book concept--and that it is meant to be. She has given me the tools to get started--now I must pick up the tools and try my hand at using them in forging the path to this dream. See where it leads. It just might be the only thing i can actually CAN DO! :) So do it I MUST!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Thoughts on a Baby Shower, Names and CCAA Update!

9.5.07: It’s been a while since I posted, I’ve been straight out with studio business—principally a bridal planner that it very exciting, but was huge amounts of time and work. The next issue should be MUCH easier. I’ve been sick with allergies going crazy and it was so bad, it turned into an infection and swelled my face up to the point I looked like a monster! But I went to the doctor this morning—first opportunity I’ve had—got lots of drugs (which I hate to take—but it’s necessary—so I will) so I should be back to myself soon. There are several things I wanted to post.

We (yup—Dan went with me!) attended a baby shower for a dear friend a couple weekend ago—it was a couples shower, so both Dan and I could go together. Dan was less than excited about a baby shower—but frankly I don’t think he knew what to expect either—all in all it was a wonderful celebration and Dan’s sense of humor was the life of the party. I so love his sense of humor. The high point for me was, as I was sitting there watching the new Dad-to-be open gifts, I realized, this is the first time I’ve attended a baby shower that I could say--”this too will happen for me someday!” . It was a joyous, thrilling feeling. 47 years old and 100’s of baby showers later, I can actually attend a joyous event for a dear friend—and not feel that pang of sadness in the empty spot I had in my heart—where you my little one will be—not soon enough. It was rather like the luncheon with clients where they got to the part about “so Lisa, do you have kids?” and I could actually say “soon—very soon”. :) It was a wonderful day. My friend looked precious and beautiful in her 8 month of her pregnancy. She was so terribly sick the first 4 months—which they say is a sign of a healthy pregnancy—so it was great to see her glowing. They’ll name her Grace Elizabeth (after both their mom’s). So special. Welcome Grace Elizabeth—I can’t wait to meet you—someday you’ll play with our little one.

Speaking of names—the thought determining a name for you now, is a lot like buying “stuff” for you now, and doing the nursery now, for me you are very real, I even have a face—the sweet little face that awoke me from my sleep one beautiful night. But the name we’ll pick for you—escapes me. I like so many—but it has to be perfect. I like Aria, Camille, Zola, Isabella, Audrey, Obrei, Ava, Elle....they’re all sweet. But I would like your name to have more meaning then that I just like the name—maybe Juliette after my father’s mother or Nellie after my dear great, great, great Aunt Nellie, or Marcella after Dan’s (your Dad) grandmother. They are equally as beautiful. Or maybe the name given by those precious caregivers at your first home—will suit you just perfect! Ah..this too will have it’s time and place—in God’s time.

To Close—yesterday—CCAA released another update of the processed dates. Families have been matched with beautiful babies through November 25, 2005. Just 3 days of the line down in one months time. While I’m thrilled for those families that have been waiting just shy of two years—I was hoping for a bigger number of days down on the list. Only God knows the perfect timing—and I’m confident it will be as it should. I pray for patience and that I make the best use of the time I await your arrival. In my online July 07 LID group waiting mom’s are sharing similar feelings—we all struggle to hold on—to be patient and to support each other along this very long and VERY unpredictable journey. You too—my little girl—are on a long and unpredictable journey. My hope is you are surrounded by angels—that they whisper in your ear my wish for you in our lives, that they tell you how perfectly meant for us you are, that you will never question that, even though you will need to understand your past, that you are at peace, they you stay healthy and strong both physically and spiritually. That God holds you in the palm of his precious hand—and protects you from harm. We will see you soon. Love mom.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Summer of 2007 Highlights

Fasinating Facts about Childbirth Traditions in China

8.10.07: I just love our July LID group--they are such a neat group of families. It's funny--today--I looking at the blogs others families in our group have set up and realized--for the first time--I'm not reading the blogs hoping to be in their shoes--dreaming about our journey someday--it's real. We're just like all of them. Although--they seem so much more secure in it all than I feel. It's all a bit tenuous for me still. I'm so nervous it won't happen--or that we'll not figure out the finances etc. I'm sure all of the families have these same concerns. But, my faith tells me "believe". My sister gave me a bookmark as a "thank-you" after her last visit in July--it's simply a metal letters that say "believe" with a little purple ribbon at the top. I use it to bookmark my china reading--and it's so neat. She's so thoughtful. So--I'll continue to just "believe".

Anywho--on to the real reason for this post--one of the mom's in our group found this absolutely fasinating article on BabyZone that talks about Chinese traditons and beliefs in Childbirth. Very neat. It's too long to post--but check it out at the link below--to the web site. Thanks Kelly--everything we can do to learn about her culture and traditions the better. I though some of the traditions might easily be done here in the US for her. We'll have to see. I've saved the entire article for future use in preparing my list of "things to buy in China" for later in her life. I'm thinking a tiger blanket might be on the list. We'll need to try to incorporate some of these traditions as well--

The traditional first-birthday gift is a gold ring meant to protect the baby during harsh times. A long bread, yu char kuei, is given to the child for the first time. It is believed it will help him learn how to walk. The day he walks, a relative walks behind him with a knife drawing three lines on the ground. The Chinese believe there are invisible bindings around a child's ankles binding him to a previous life. With the bindings cut, the child walks freely forever."

• "On the hundredth day some Chinese families host another celebration. Friends and family bring fish and chicken to the child's home. When the chicken is cooked, the tongue is rubbed on the baby's lips to make the child a good talker. And the baby's paternal grandfather may present the baby with a rocking chair." (probably not the "tongue part" but love the grandfather rocking chair. Grampa Arndt is a handy wood worker--maybe he'll make a very special rocking chair for her.

• Prehaps an adaptation of this would be meaningful to her. "For a rich, healthy life, the Chinese will also tie coins together with a red strings for their children to wear"

http://www.babyzone.com/babynames/china.asp

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bring Me Hope

This is an amazing video--especially the first part--tugs my heart like no other--speaks what my heart says with amazing simplicity--wow--God give the birth mothers strength to endure this trauma, give the children the ability to know they're special children no matter what happens, and give adoptive parents the strength and wisdom to do the right things at the right time in the right way--to bring up productive, prosperous and HAPPY CHILDREN.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

An excellent way to describe the process of Adopting from China

8.7.07: When I tell people we are adopting from China--they usually have lots of questions about the process. I try to explain a very clear process to me in terms a non PAP would understand. This blog I found really describes it best. So I wanted to share it with you. It's written from our daughters perspective--which I also love, I've modified it to read with our information--

While the Director of my Orphanage prepared and submitted my paperwork to the CCAA, so that they could find me a family...halfway across the world (in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA), a family dreamed of having a child.

This family felt that their child was in China, and they worked with an adoption agency called Gifts of Love International Adoptions (GOL) to send their dossier to the CCAA asking to be matched to a little girl who would become their daughter.

The CCAA works very hard to find families for children. When parental dossiers are sent to them - there is a three stage process the CCAA goes through to find the best parents possible.

Stage One: Translation The CCAA needs to make sure that all documents in a dossier sent are translated into Mandarin. The workers in the Translation Room make sure that all the parts of the parental dossier are translated in Mandarin. Our dossier (from America) was written in English and so all the paperwork needed to be re-written in Mandarin so that the CCAA workers could read it. Dossiers from other countries are sent in other languages - Dutch, Swedish, Spanish...they all need to be re-worded into Mandarin so that all the CCAA workers can read them. Parental dossiers have a lot of pieces to them and translating them can take a long time.

Stage Two: Review After a dossier is translated, it goes to the Review Room. The CCAA has a set of rules that adoptive parents must follow to be able to adopt a child from China. These rules are there to protect China's children and try to make sure that only the most qualified parents are allowed to adopt. In the Review Room, CCAA workers read through the documents in hopeful parent dossiers and check to make sure that all the paperwork is in order. If there is a problem with a dossier - this is where it would be found. The CCAA would then ask for more information regarding that set of parents and sometimes decides that some prospective parents will not be allowed to adopt from China.

Most parental dossiers that are sent follow all the rules and regulations of the CCAA and are approved.

Stage Three: Matching In this final stage
- families who have passed review are sent to the Matching Room. In this room are all the dossiers of children whose information has been sent by their SWIs to find them a forever family. The workers in this room have the very important task of matching the right family to each child. No one knows exactly how families are chosen for each child - but many people think that the CCAA workers are pretty amazing in how good a job they do.

We don't know what specifically caught the eye of the CCAA workers, but somehow they decided to match me with my new family.

After matching me with my new parents, the CCAA sent a packet of information (called a REFERRAL) back to the U.S. with 4 pictures of me and documents that told my Mommy and Daddy about my life and my development at the Orphanage.

They accepted me as part of their family with a letter of acceptance--rec'd permission to travel to China and scheduled a meeting with the US consulate to make me a US citizen and traveled the 20 hour flight to China from America to meet me and bring me home.

China is very concerned about us--and the latest news from CCAA about the process is evidence of that. I am appreciative of everything they're doing to find a daughter for us. Here is the latest news clip on from CCAA:


http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china//04/content_.htm

Wow! Fascinating Look inside CCAA





8.7.07: On July 19th--my dad's birthday--I described seeing in my head--a dimly lit room with people looking over our paperwork as they logged us into the system that will eventually bring us our little girl--and complete our family. Today I found found this site online--it's a wonderful inside peek into what this process looks like inside CCAA (Where they hold our families future in their hands--review room, matching room, referral room etc.) It looks amazingly a lot like I had envisioned--but more modern than I saw. This site puts faces and place to this process and I am grateful for that--I'll post a couple of the photos here--but you should really take a look at this site to get all the cool information that describes them on their site go to:


http://www.wesselsworld.nl/ccaa.htm





According to the website I got the picture from: The first photo is of a CCAA employee showing this lady a matched baby--the site describes this picture and what the employee shared with her about how they "match babies with families". This is consistent with what Nelson Lei --our agencies inc-country chinese interpeter and travel guide said at a meeting I attended back in late 2006. Here is what the site says: "The first one is a photo of what a child's "info sheet" looks like. It has their photos and then a general description and what their likes and dislikes are. The woman matched this child to a family for me while I was there. She told me that they pull up the passport photos of the parents, and that has their name, their jobs, and the parents likes and dislikes. This particular child liked music and I believe one of the parents taught music (it had something to do with music). So she thought they were a "match". She will pull up a parents file and then she has 4-5 babies in a stack and she will hold up the sheet with the baby and see if something "jumps out at her" as a match. She said sometimes it is appearance, sometimes it is a hobby.....sometimes it just "feels right".

The second photo shows the referred babies/families files in the neat numbered cardboard boxes behind the people in this picture.

According to the website I got the picture from: "The last picture shows the stacks of dossiers.They are color coded by agency and babies files are also color coded by province/orphanage. They do try to keep agency families together, so if they have a group of 25 families from one agency, they will go to an orphanage that they know sends larger groups of kids. If an agency only has three dossiers, they might go to an orphanage that sent just a few kids. And of course, sometimes it works out that 14 families go to one orphanage and then they have to pull a lone child from another orphanage. But they do try to make it easier on the agency facilitators by matching agencies with orphanages."

This is what being pregnant with a Adopted Child From China looks like...:)


8.7.2007: I just joined a more intimate group of adoptive parents that are at the same stage of adoption as we are--they had an LID in July. Many of them had sent their Dossier to China the same day we did but did not get logged-in until over a week after us. As I understand it--it has to do with how the agency they're using processes dossiers to China--some have the interpetation done before they send it. Others like ours have it done before, and yet others log-in first and then have it logged in. Thankfully our agency took care of us and got us on the list the fastest way possible. But even so--our log in in 1-day is amazing. Yet again, I feel blessed with GOL--seems one of the families in our group that sent their Dossier within a couple days of us--still had no idea if they're logged in yet! And are wondering how they'll find out. Frankly--there was never any question for us--that Beth would call us as soon as she knew. Seems silly--but these little laspe in communication can cause HUGE stress for families. I'm excited about this group. It's much less rumor mill and more supportive an fun. We'll see what happens. This photo is a photo I found online that I thought was pretty neat--we'll never have a real sonogram--but this is pretty neat--really illustrates what we're doing visually. SoI wanted to share with you all.

Life has been really crazy work wise--but I'm not complaining--I love it. The balance thing continues to be a struggle, but so much easier owning my own studio, rather than working for someone else. God has sent many praises my way from co-workers, clients, family and friends--these praises are the fuel to keep pushing forward and they warm my heart through and through.

Planning a 50th Birthday Surprise Party for Dan--my sister and her husband are coming from Vermont to surprise him--and a lot of his family and friends from Nebraska are coming too. I'm having it catered so my master griller--Dan--will not have a thing to do--except enjoy his friends and family and celebrate. I hope he enjoys it and he's very SURPRISED. Seems we will have an overflowing house that night with 13 people from out of town staying here with us. Funny thing is--if Dan knew that--he's flip--and start running around doing crazy stuff that just isn't neceesary--nice--but not necessary. So--hopefully--the surprise factor will keep the stress levels down leading up and make for a wonderful day. I've been trying to plan this party for over a year--and it keeps getting spoiled for one reason or another--but hey--it's happening--and it's almost so spontaneous that it will be less stress for me too. I'm looking forward to it. Just have to get my work done before everyone arrives!

Had a really wonderful visit with my older brother Dan Sunday night--seems he's doing good and that warms my heart. He's such a good guy--he deserves to be happy. I've been trying to tell him for years to just focus on himself and not worry about a female partner for a while and everything would fall in place. Seems he might be doing that now--and it's paying off in contentment.

My little sister (I love that--cause I'm the big sister--and I love being her big sister) continues to be a wise, compassionate, loving support to me. I just love her so much.

That's it for today...off to work.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Another Sister Shelly Visit!

7.31.07--Yesterday my sister called to say they were planning a surprise trip to Des Moines for Dan's 50th Birthday! I am sooooo excited. I just went to PF Changs for dinner with Dan the other night--and got a bit teary eyed because the last time we were there they were with us--and I missed her. They will be here August 15 or 16 and Dan's B-day is (as you all know well by now) is the 18th. I'm going to invite several other friends and work buddies as well and have a deck party for him Saturday night. It will be sooo much fun. Whoo--Hoo! I can't believe it--pinch me I'm dreaming.

News--China adds another requirement

7.31.07--CCAA announced today they are requiring that both parents travel to China to take custody of their daughter. Previously one parent could travel a travel partner (family or friend) and the other spouse could stay home with the other kids in the family or for whatever reason--just not travel. Now--that can not happen anymore. Dan and I were always planning to both travel. So it doesn't effect us. But it will mean many families will have to adjust--and in come cases update paperwork. You have to identify how you'll be traveling in your dossier paperwork and application. Seems as I have said many times--you never know what China will do. And I personally still feel like our daughter is swiftly moving closer to us everyday!

Hague Accrediation for GOL

7.31.07: Today I went to our Agency for an interview with the Hague Convention accrediation team. There were several other families there too -- it was a group interview. It was my first time meeting with others that have adopted and of course they also use GOL to build their family. I can't tell you the feeling I had sitting there with them. All of them had already gone to China already. In one case they had two children from China and in the other cases just one. AND the best part--they brought their daughters with them. How sweet they were. I was hipnotized by them. It was so cute--one of the little girls climbed up on her mommies lap during the interview and said, "What are you talking about?" It was so funny. This experience left me even more confirmed in our belief that we made the absolutely best choice in going with Gift of Love. They have been truly wonderful and I realize it even more--when I listened to the other talk about their experiences in China and post adoption process. Two of the families actually had traveled together so their daughters came from the same Welfare Institute in China. One of the other families was one of the ones I just followed her blog--while she was in China--she just got home about 4 weeks ago. It was strange seeing them in real life--I'd seen so many pictures online. The mom just glows! It's a beautiful thing. My evaluation of the meeting was that the Hague Convention Staff are very impressed with GOL and I'd lay odds that they WILL be accredited. They deserve it!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Our busiest—most fun and loving summer EVER!













7.28.07: Seems this spring and summer are blessed seasons in more ways than our LID assignment. We've had family and friends travel to visit us from both Nebraska and Vermont--and nothing makes us happier. Seems the pieces of our life are finally falling in place...and it's an amazing feeling.

My mom (Grammy Cota) came to visit again this spring. We did lots of fun things together--knitting a couple sweaters for our little one--a Randy Travis concert, a trip to the funnybone comedy club and a lot of quality time together. Mom and Dad Arndt (Grammy and Grampy) came to visit in late May we enjoyed grilling and a couple games of crochet--Dan won all the games--he's the champ, shortly after Uncle Tom made a couple quick stops to see us on his way to see Cousin TJ in Kentucky--then in mid June Aunt Kathy and Uncle Tom make a trip to Kentucky for a wedding and spent a day with us--and Duke (their dog) stayed at the "Arndt Doggie Spa & Retreat" for a week. He's a wonderful dog and simply loves playing with our girls (montana and sadie). Then we went to the new Iowa Speedway--Dan is a big Danica Patrick fan, and she was racing here in Iowa--Dan actually got her autography(picture is here). Then my sister Shelly and her husband Chris (that's the three of us in a picture at night at the jordon creek fireworks) visited over the week of the 4th of July we had a whirlwind week--the Art festival, the comedy club, fireworks at jordon creek,shopping, boating, a visit to see Zoey, Shayna and Matt (that's a picture of Zoey and I the night of our visit) and lots of wonderful time on our deck, grilling and chatting. And the day they left--Uncle Tom, Aunt Kathy and Cousin TJ all came for a day to go to the "good guy car show". It was so great to see TJ--we hadn't seen him for a while. He's always been a great kid--but this trip we realized--he's now an amazing young man. We're so proud of him--and hope he continues to do well in college at Univ. of Kentucky studying Mechanical Engineering. After they left--Dan and I negotiated a long awaited and wished for new truck for Dan (that's a picture of him in his truck the day after we got it). We wrangled a heck of a deal--and Dan just LOVES it. He spit shines it daily and can't find enough reasons to drive it. The 3rd week of July--our little niece Katie came to visit for 4 days--we did the water park, adventureland park, blank park zoo, a concert at the lake, fireworks, and even watched a couple baby birds hatch in a nest under our deck. (that's a picture of little Katie and her favorite Uncle Dan).She's the most loving, kind and polite little girl I know. A complete Joy to have around. She even called last night to say, "Thank-you for taking time off work to take me to...etc. it was the best vacation I've ever had in my whole life!" How sweet--made me cry with joy. While she was here some old friends of Dan's from Nebraska came to town, so they met us at Adventureland, then we did the ballon fest in Indianola and the farmers market with them this morning. (that's a picture of them and their little girl Kennedy--they adopted her when she was a newborn--on the Ferris Wheel--her favorite. It's been a non stop summer. We are sooooo blessed. So that's our summer highlights...what a whirlwind--looking at this post reminds me of what an amazing time it's been. Wow--my heart is full!!