Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh My Goodness--she'll see our faces today--maybe!

9.27.09: Oh My Izabella! We got notice today our care package to you and your friends and caretakers was delivered today! Wow! Tears run down my face--as I realize s this means you will see your new family for the first time! Thank you everyone for your prayers! I am so very grateful! God is soooo good!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Izabella Room Update!

9.26.09: This weekend we put the crib together and I was so excited to put all the bedding in and set up. I LOVE IT! Now all it needs is our little Izabella in there sleeping, learning, laughing, loving, giggling, dreaming...and just being our girl! I have a couple more little things coming to decorate--but for the most part--I think we're ready. Now I just need to the items needed for traveling, pack and we're off.

We also got our updated I-171-H from USCIS--so now we wait for TA--then we can request a consulate appointement, make travel arrangements and GO! We got approval from our agency on our Visa Applications--so those will be off to them to courier to the Consulate for us. And we wait.

The arrival of the I-171H brought a bit of bad news--our travel date has been moved to October 22. They don't have enough guides to spread acoss a group on the 8th and another group a week later. So, the 22nd it is. I'm not excited about waiting another week. They did try to get us in the October 8th group--but that is impossible--as the consulate appointments are all full for that group. So...like everything else in this journey--this too is likely part of God's plan and I don't know why--but I completely trust that God is in control and it's a glorious thing!

I had a call from my sophmore college roomate--yup--we roomed together a whopping 31 years ago--her children are in nursing school and one is going to college next year to study electrical engineering. It was so great to hear from her. It meant so much. She has been such an amazing mom..I hope I can do half as well as she did (is doing--does a mom's role ever really end--ahhh I hope not). She tells me her age is one of her favorite times...and I'm in for a blast! I can not wait. Thanks for the encouragement and support Jennifer--it means more than you will ever know. My best friend from high school also called last week--I've yet to hook up with her, but I can't wait. She was a bridesmaid in our wedding--and we both expected to raise our children at the same time--but ahhh life doesn't always work the way we have it planned. She has 2 adorable little girls, that are not so little anymore. And will be a wonderful support as well.

As it's said in adoption language--just 24 sleeps before we're off to meet our sweet little girl.

Still no updated photos from the orphanage. Can't wait. And my care package made it to China--and they attempted delivery at 6:49pm on our anniversary day (how cool is that), but it was not delivered. I sure hope them make another attempt. That package carries the photo album for our little Izabella to see our faces and get to know what we look like--in hopes it will help calm a bit of her fears when we meet. Oh I pray, please God, let them deliver it soon!

PS--we're in a bowling league! What a blast! We love it! And our team is in first place--all of my teammates are great bowlers--I'm the only newbie--but I have great coaches. Dan bowled a 192 his first game in 16 years! I well I bowled an 84. Oh well--gotta start somewhere and there's no where to go but up!

10 years!

9.25.09: What a 10 years it's been. And so sweet that it happened before we head to China to make our family complete with the addition of a beautiful little girl--Chun Lei--Izabella Danielle. I put a montage together of photos of our 10 yrs....but it didn't begin to touch the amazing years we've had together. My life really began the day I met my sweet husband. And oh I thank God every night for bringing him into my life. He has been so many things to me, has supported me in realizing so many dreams and has just made me a better woman all around. We are definitively better together than we were single. My only regret is I didn't meet him 20 years earlier! I can not wait to see what the next ten years holds!

He gave me 24 gorgeous red roses, a beautiful card, took me to dinner at a very nice restaurant downtown and ended it on a sweet note at DQ! You're not getting older--you're getting better--you're more handsome than the day I met you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

She's getting so BIG!

9.24.09: We got it! Our long awaited update! I can't tell you how amazing that was. Like I posted this morning in my previous post-- I was soooo worried something was wrong. But infact, it was the contact at the agency that does the paperwork for the children was out sick. So she's now playing catch up on everything. I don't have any new photos--yet--but they will be sending them as soon as they have them!!! OK--I can not wait. And after reading this update--I just want to go NOW--ready or not! In my list of questions I asked I found out the following things about our little Izabella:

  • She drinks formula from a cup
  • She is still sleeping in a crib (yeah--that beautiful crib will be the perfect comfort to her)
  • She has a best friend and her name is Ma Teng (this touches me deeply--I'm so happy she has someone she's close to there). Perhaps once she finds her forever home--we can find a way to keep them in touch.
  • She is close to three special nannies (she's getting LOTS of Love what a comfort to me--they shared their names with us--so I plan to ask them if we can stay in touch--send the updates on how she's doing.)
  • She isn't completely potty trained--she still has to be reminded to go. But..that's wonderful!
  • She has never been in Foster Care
  • She does not have a nickname and her name means "She is as Beautiful as Spring Flowers" (ok that makes me weep)
  • She knows she has a forever family coming. They told her after we accepted her.
  • She's growing stronger everyday! She has grown 2" since December of 2008. And she's gained 6.5 pounds! So, she's 32" tall and weighs 26.5 lbs.
  • She has 16 teeth! Good for healthy eating!
  • Her head is 18" inches in circumfence--I think this might be a typo. Cause she also has an 18: chest.
  • Her little feet are 4.5" long--so the tiny size 3 shoes I bought her will fit perfectly.
OK--I'm soooo stinkin' excited--I'm beside myself. Hee, Hee, Hee! Come on TA (Travel Approval)--and CA (Consulate Appointment)! Please, please let us go on October 15th!

A Hick-up in Our Journey...Furniture is Here & a special invite!

9.24.09: Home Study Typo--Well yesterday was a crazy day. But we're going to be fine, thanks to the help of a very compassionate Homeland Security officer, Social Worker and our agency. Our home study had a typo in the update on the age range--that the officer at homeland security caught! Thank you Amy! She called our social worker--made arrangements to get the error corrected--and I think our update is finally on it's way to visa processing with God's timing!

Although it all worked out--I have to tell you--I was paniked! The timeline is sooo tight--and this hick-up does effect our travel approval time--and will ultimately effect whether we can get a consulate appointment in time to travel with the October 15th group. If we don't get our appointment in time to travel with that group--we'll have to wait til the next group the first week of November--and you all know by now what that means to our schedule with Dan's work. So....if I could ask for prayers today--that the update is made quickly and it arrives at visa processing in God's speed--and gets to the consulate in a very timely manner so we can request an appointment and make travel arrangements with a bit of notice to get a good air travel ticket price. Whew--it will be another miracle for all this to happen. So thank you in advance for your prayers.

I still have no word on our update from the orphanage either. It concerns me now--before I was just wanting to have updated info for preparing our home and packing for her--and of course so I could SEE our girl and that she is ok. But now--I'm concerned it's something bigger. I pray, pray, pray, that she is ok--and that it's delayed because they are too busy to respond quicker to our request for an update! OH...my. Deep Sigh!

The furniture arrived on Monday evening--and OH MY GOODNESS--it's soooo perfect I was choked up holding back tears the entire time we were bringing it in her room! Thank you dear Tara, and Scott for everything! If I bought it brand new--I would have purchased the same thing I got from you! And it has the added special feel of having two adorable children raised in it before our Izabella! That is special--truly! So..if I can get caught up with my work at the studio--I can put the furniture together! Now that's incentive! :)

Monday also brought the most BEAUTIFUL shower invitation for the shower my friends are sooooo kindly throwing for me on October 11th! I was reduced to tears when I saw it. The words, the graphics everything is so perfect. A dear, very supportive friend of mine designed the invitations, another special friend will be coordinating the decor' for the special event and my other very longtime friend Shayna is coordinating the shower! There are not words to describe the deep gratitude I have for this amazing gift!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Just waiting on furniture...and Izabella!

9.21.09: I got it done! I can't believe it--all painted--and waiting for furniture to arrive today (thanks to my friend Tara). It looks pretty empty right now--but I thought it would be fun to see the progress. Also included is a picture of me rolling on the pink wall! Yipes...it was fun to paint--but after I got done I wasn't sure I liked it. I think it had more to do with being tired--cause the next morning I thought it was going to pull together nicely. This room is larger--but doesn't have the same beautiful light the front room has. But space is important in that it will be a bedroom/playroom. So...need the space. The blue couch needs a slip cover but will work great for sleeping--if needed--and to sit and read with Izabella. This room is an extra TV room--just left it that way for now--will serve well for learning DVD's and disney movies. :) Dan thought I did a great job--that was a big relief. It's good to have him home--I missed him this weekend.

Hoping and praying for an update today!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Izabella's Room is Coming together...

9.17.09: It's a start anyway! The bedding arrived on Thursday--and it's 11:29pm Friday and my goal was to get the guest room cleaned out, the beds shuffled around, pick a paint color, buy the paint and get the room taped and ready to paint tomorrow. Thanks to Katie (my niece) that all happened. I couldn't have done it without her. Of course my studio is now in complete chaos! My friend Annette is coming over tomorrow to help me paint. Thank goodness. All the rooms in our house have been painted by my amazing painter husband. But he had a bike trip planned for this weekend--so it's just Katie and I this weekend. But so far it's been fun--I'm getting excited now! We will cover the couch that's in there--that will work nicely for me to sleep on while we get her settled into sleeping in her own room--if needed. And will be a great place to curl up and read a book at bed time.

OK--I'm not too sure about this PINK wall. I originally wanted just to paint it all that soft yummy tan color--but my niece and the lady at the store convinced me that a pink accent wall would be nice. So...I can't believe it--but I got PINK paint...Yipes! It's a gorgeous pink though--it a dusty rosey color. Hard to explain..but it works well with both the crib bedding and the queen quilt. So...we'll go with it...I guess...we'll see!

OK...it's all starting to feel very real now...:) It's about time eh?

Stay tuned for COLOR!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Travel Blog Site

9.17.09: I got a new travel site set up on my moble me (Mac) site. So bookmark this site if you want to follow us to China. I'll post it again here before we leave. And it's also in the right hand margin above Izabella's picture.



Tenative Travel Dates and Care Package!

9:17:09: Yesterday I got a package off to Izabella and her orphanage. Her orphanage doesn't give toys or clothing to the children--it's just too hard for them to keep track of who's is who's so I didn't include any "toys or goodies" specifically for her, but did include some items for her brothers and sisters at the orphanage to enjoy. I found TWO HUGE Jumbo Beach Balls, the most adorable bibs that have a "catch pocket" that is held up by velcro so it easily wipes clean--no laundry, no waste! Several bags of hershey chocolate KISSES and some Dove Bars for the Caretakers. I also included a disposable camera--in hopes they will take some photos and return the camera to us when on the day meet her in China.

For Izabella--I put together a photo album of us and included a picture of her grandparents. Our family is so big--I couldn't include everyone--so I opted to stick to her precious grandparents and US...several pics of us! I found the most adorable ladybug photo album. Very colorful and so appropriate--lots of wishes for our little one!

And finally--I included a precious book my dear friend Tonya sent me that has lots of questions for the orphanage and her caretakers to answer for us concerning what they know and remember about their time with her at the orphanage. This book and gift was the most precious thing I've ever seen. I can not thank my friend Tonya enough. She is soooo amazing. I am so blessed. I am hoping they will be gracious and generous enough to take the time out of their busy days to answer some questions for us so we will have those memories to share with her. Oh I pray--please pray with me if you would.

I can't tell you how happy it made me to put this package together. Normally, adoptive parents send a care package through a service in China, which will shop for the items you want to send, and then deliver them to the orphanage for you. Because I had this book to send--it was the perfect opportunity to do it myself. AND thanks to "USPS new Flat Rate Packages" it was very affordable. Normally not an affordable option to ship a huge box of stuff to CHINA--halfway around the world. I also can TRACK the package--so I'll know if they got it or not.

Dan took off this morning with his friend Bob to ride the hills of Arkansas on his Harley. The weather is suppose to be perfect riding weather. So...I'm sure they'll have an amazing time! I miss him already! But I have a busy weekend planned! My weekend is dedicated to getting Izabella's room transformed from a guest room to an Izabella room! I can not wait for it to be done! I have been waiting for this for soooo long. I can't tell you how special it will be to come up the stairs and look into her room and see a child's room--our daughters room--in OUR HOUSE! Brings a tear to my eye--typing this. And even better--is to see her in there!

Travel Dates--yesterday we got our travel documents instructions package--and it indicated they have a travel group planned for October 15th-29th! What's fasinating about returning on the 29th of October is that is the same day 9 years ago that we closed on and moved into our FIRST Home--the one we live in now. I remember it was a couple days before Halloween--I LOVE Halloween ( my dad made this holiday so fun for us as kids)--and we sat on our front porch and handed out candy to all the children in fun costumes. I remember thinking how amazing it would be to have a child to go trick-or-treating with! Last year--I couldn't stand it anymore--so we kept the porch light off and refrained from celebrating. It was so sad...so...if we do make this group--which we won't know until we have our "Travel Approval (TA)" from China and our US Consulate appointment in Guongzhou, China--we'll be able to celebrate our first Halloween with her! Our first and I'm sure her first. Although it might all be too much socializing for her that early upon our return--we can hand out candy on the porch and see how it goes.

Off to get busy with my studio--lots to do so I can try to take tomorrow off to dig into Izabella's room!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Good News from a Mom just returning from Xi'An City

9.15.09: No word yet on the orphanage update on our little Izabella--perhaps today! :) Oh I pray! I can not wait to see her sweetness and know how she is doing! But a mom from Hawaii--just returning home with her little one from Izabella's orphanage--posted yesterday--that the ratio of caretakers to children in the orphanage is 4-to-1. I'm so comforted by this fact. She also shared the fact they will be doing an addition to the orphanage to add some foster family residences. I know there are orphanages out there in more need or so it seems. But I for one and very excited about supporting an orphanage that is so dedicated to the children they care for and giving them the best care they can. And feel VERY fortunate that our daughter has had the blessing of being placed in their care while she waited for a forever family. My gratitude runs deep--and I hope we can do more to help them in the future.

In closing this post--I want to share this video of Steven Curtis Chapman's Family's Dream to help orphans by raising the funds and manuevering the paperwork and approvals to build a hospital in memory of their beautiful daughter Maria--that they lost in a tragic accident a year ago this summer. I imagaine--from what I've heart that Izabella's orphanage--(unfortunately, I don't have a video to share of the amazing care they give the children there)--but this one is surely similar to her orphanage. Our Izabella's heart was repaired while she was in this orphanage. I don't know the details of how that all was possible for her. But, I am soooo eternally grateful. So, I rec'd the note cards this week from Holy Family--they are precious! And I can't wait to send them out! So, if you're so moved to donate--I'd love to send a package of cards to you! These 100% of what is raised will go to the orphanage and I can't wait to do so. (See the Orphanage Funraiser Store graphic and widget in the right top margin of our blog).

Maria's Big House of Hope from Show Hope on Vimeo.

We also returned our RA paperwork yesterday--and I downloaded massive amounts of forms that are the travel documentation for our trip (Visa applications, Immigration papwerwork..etc.) it's so exciting. Once the RA paperwork arrives this morning they will ship us our travel packet and we'll begin to do the steps necessary to get travel approval from China and set up our consulate appointment! Then, our travel arrangements! I can not wait.

This week-end is getting "Izabella's room" painted and furniture in! My dear friend Tara is selling us her crib and dresser--and offered to even deliver it to us! I couldn't be more appreciative! She has raised two gorgeous children in this crib, so it is christened with LOVE already! I'll try to take pictures and post.

Time is flying--we'll be there before we know it!

A Special Weekend at the Lake...

9.15.09: We had such a wonderful week-end at the lake with our new friends Vicki and Terry. As you all know--we sold our boat this spring to a couple that has been such a blessing to us. We sold the boat and aquired a new and lasting very special relationship. We had so much fun. Dan got to go fishing for the first time in years.

Thanks to Terry graciously giving up the helm for the day, Dan captained his old boat all over Lake Okoboji. It was so natural and so relaxing...to be with these new friends that feel like old long lost friends. We had a bon-fire Saturday night and a picnic breakfast Sunday morning. The girls just loved them too--chasing squirels up trees, spotting snakes in the weeks and just checking out all the animals in the woods.

AND last but not least--the un-veiling of the "Izabella"! It brought tears to my eyes, when they peeled back the cover and revealed the our precious girl's name a blaze across the back of the boat that surely she was concieved on, in our hearts. And it's the very lettering I put together and sent to them as a possible option! How sweet is that??!! It is so perfect a name for the boat..and these generous un-selfish and giving people are so amazing to have touched us so..with this fulfilled promise. Izabella was at the center of our weekend--talking about next summer trips to Okoboji Lake to visit them--with her along! Oh how she'll love them and the time with them at the lake. My heart is so full! God just continues to bless us, over and over and over! I am humbled and in Awe it all!

Our baby! I have to share this with you--she is so my baby and always will be--she had just jumped back in the boat after a romp on the beach with her sister Sadie--and she was freezing..so I wrapped her in this towel and she loved it!

The other picture is the picture of trust! She is so relaxed as Dan lifts her to the heaven's as if to say--she's our girl! I love this picture..."Roots anyone?"

No caption for this one--it's just Terry!

Thanks Vicki and Terry--can not wait until next summer!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Your beautiful face makes this journey....

9.10.09: Izabella: I wanted to tell you how much I can't wait to meet you. How it suddenly hit your mommy's heart this morning as she opened her blog for the first time and saw your beautiful smiling face. It makes this journey feel so amazing. The day I saw your face was amazing enough, but sharing you with my friends and family is over the top! I am so proud of you--yet can take no credit for your beauty, your happy spirit in any way. I find myself proud to be chosen to be your forever mommy. And so deeply moved, by the loving impact your birth parents had in your life. It's so clear they loved you deeply. And my heart aches for them today and everyday--knowing they had to give you up for what I am sure were "very big reasons". I can't imagine. I wish I could tell them you're going to be ok--and we'll take very good care of you forever. Since that isn't possible, I will pray that somehow, God lays a peace on their hearts that gives them a sense that they know--you're ok, your happy self and with a loving family.

Wow....we are sooooo amazingly, immeasurably blessed.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We have a "RA"! I can share her sweetness! CAUTION...she'll melt your heart!

9.9.09: My mom's birthday and our referral day too! At: 11:55 am this morning we rec'd a call from our agency that we have referral approval from China! I can hardly believe it! It only took just 15 days from PA (pre-approval to RA)! That is amazing! And only 3.5 weeks from EA to RA--that's God's Speed indeed, he has heard all your prayers for us to move through this process as quickly as possible--so we can travel before the snow flies so we can have some time at home as a family before the snow forces Dan into his crazy overtime schedule! Our agency predicts as an I-600 family--we'll move along fairly quickly--and be traveling mid to late October!!!! Wow...God is so good..that's all I can say. We now will begin working with our travel coordinator on the travel documentation and travel plans, once we have TA! I can't believe this!!!! Praise God--we worship a mighty, compassionate and amazing God. He is so good to us! I think the best part of this is I can now use a service to deliver a care package to her for us and get an update! I've been going nuts with seeing a more recent picture of her. Surely she's grown soooo much. Although--I'll always treasure this picture--it always puts a smile on my face! And will always put a smile on my face forever!!! and ever!!! Just one look at her and the world melts away and all the worries subside and I just think--"wow, this is my daughter! MY DAUGHTER! And I am soooo blessed! I have to be the luckiest, most blessed mom around!"

I will keep you posted on the details...from here. I just this morning ordered the bedding and curtains and one fun item for her room--and thanks to a sweet friend Tara--she will have a beautiful white crib and dresser. The decor will be Fairy's and flowers...pink and black and polka-dots...etc. Last winter after we applied for the WC program--I found the most adorable quilt on potterybarn teens and found this whimsical pattern of flowers...and loved it...then I bought a purse with black and white polka dots from a friend's inital's party--and they work so well together--so I went from there...

The flowers quilt is a full size quilt...so it will work wonderfully to transition to her toddler room (vs. her crib room)...so...i went over to PBbaby and found this fairy pattern that has a similar palette--and I'm in love with it all! And the quilt and pillows have her name on them!

And the best part is--the quilt I originally wanted was on sale--then early spring when I went to buy it--it was OFF sale--then last night when I went to look for it again..it was back on sale and perfect timing--BTW--all the fairy nursery stuff is on sale as well. Didn't purchase one item except the beautiful hanging fairy not on sale (isn't it perfect for our sweet girl?)...oh God indeed is immeasurably GOOD! So....Here's a pic of them...it's a start...and it feels soooo good! I can't wait to hold that sweet little thing!

Thank again for all your prayers! And Izabella--we really are on our way--and sooner than we thought. God willing our TA will go smoothly. We got word last Friday that our homestudy finally got all the checks back and is good to go. I put a call into our SW today to be sure...so pray that all that goes well with USC*S...and we'll keep moving along at God's speed. Wow...Wow...Wow...oh my!!!