This one's for you Daddy...

Some of you new readers don't know much about my growing up life, so let me recap.  For those regulars who have known me forever, feel free to skip this part. 

My parents were "older" when they had me.  My mother was 37 (the age I will be this year) and my dad 47 when I came along.  From the year I was born, my dad was a police officer in a little city police department.  I remember so many nights when I was little, where I'd go to bed in my parents bed when Daddy was still sleeping.  And then some time later, I'd feel him get up and start getting ready to go to work.  That's when he was working the midnight shift (11pm-7am).  I remember the next morning when I was getting up and getting ready for kindergarten or first grade that Daddy would just be coming in from working all night.

I remember many nights when I was a little older when he worked the 3pm-11pm shift that mom would wait up until he got home.  I remember the few times when there was "action" in that little city and he would be gone way past normal time "taking someone down" to night court.

As the years went by, Daddy moved up in rank at this little police department until by the time I was in high school, he was named Chief of Police.  I remember being so proud.  This was a man who never graduated from school, but got his GED and worked hard to make it.  My mom was able to stay home with me and never had to work a job thanks to Daddy's provision.  He could fix everything and really was my hero as a little girl.

Anyway, all that to say, I was around guns since the day I was born.  Daddy carried a variety of them while at the police force and even after his retirement.  Daddy never went ANYWHERE with his "weapon".  If you ever saw Daddy at school, church, eating out etc., I can guarantee he was wearing his gun.  I was taught from a very eary age to respect his gun, but it was totally off limits to me.  I just always knew NEVER to touch it.  And I didn't.

And now at 36, I've never shot a gun, much less handled one.  But a few months ago, Steve started talking to a couple guy friends of his who visits the range and has carrying permits etc. (One of them actually works for the sheriff's office).  Turns out his wife wanted to learn to shoot (or rather, maybe HE wanted her to learn) and so this weekend, that's exactly what we did.

It was quite the intensive class...8-4pm and the first thing you do is review range safety then you go right out to shoot.  We shot 6 rounds from 5 years, 6 from 3 yards, 12 from 5 yards, 6 from 7 yards, 6 from 10 yards, 6 from 15 yards and then finally 6 from 2 yards.

Now, let me tell you...shooting at a target from 2 yards...I hope that's something I never have to do in real life.  Last weekend I did go and shoot about 12 rounds at the range just to know what it felt like.  But outside of that, I'd never shot a real gun before.  But check out my target.
Not bad for a beginner.  Of course, the shots in the leg and arm were from 15 yards.  They tell you to practice your head shots when you are at 2 yards.  I didn't put them all in there, but I did do a few.  You get 48 shots and have to have 33 in the black.  Here's my score:
That's right.  A perfect score.  Daddy would be proud.  Now I wish I'd had the opportunity for him to teach me.  The man was authorized to carry a gun until the day he died (which incidentally was age 81) and I'm sure I could have learned so much from him.

And then I guess Steve didn't do so badly either.

But there was one tiny shot that just barely grazed the guy over there on his right arm.  And because of that, Steve didn't have a perfect score.
I get some satisfaction from beating him, but in reality, I'm super glad that if it was needed, I know Steve could defend me if the situation called for it.

All in all, it was a good day and I found something not only am I good at, but that Steve and I enjoy doing together.  I can't wait to get to the range and try my hand at it again.


Curtains and stuff...

Several of you have asked me about the super cute window treatments hanging in Kylie's room.
Well, I'm pleased to tell you that these were custom made by a friend of mine named Carolyn.  Carolyn has made so many cute window dressings in the past.  Check these out...

But that's not ALL she does.  Tell me that you don't just LOVE this sweetness!!!!
But there's more...check this out...
If you are in the market for window dressing of any kind or any custom made pieces, Carolyn is your girl.  Even if you are out of town, she will be happy to work with you via email (she's super fast at responding).

Here's what Carolyn says,

"One thing I'm excited about, but don't have a picture for as yet, is custom nursery bedding.  That might be something your readers would be interested in.  The way it works is that I will put together for the client a 'design board' of sorts with fabric choices that fit what they tell me they are interested in regarding style and color.  Then they pick from options for the bedding.  Window treatments, pillows, slipcovers, even toddler and children's bedding can be added on.  Of course, they can go and get the fabric they want if they prefer, but this way, all the choices could be done on the computer and there's no need to go shopping."

Did you hear that people????  NO NEED TO GO SHOPPING!  I'm just saying...anytime I can sit at my computer rather than fight people at the mall, that's a good day! Plus, when it comes to nursery bedding, sometimes you just know what you want, but can't find it.  Well, now, PROBLEM SOLVED!

Carolyn also has a Flickr site with more of her creations.  It's a work in progress, so check back frequently to see her updates.  Or if you have something in mind and wonder if Carolyn can create it for you, just email her at misspollyspiecegoods@gmail.com.
But wait, there's more!!!  (how's that for an infomercial imitation?!)  The coolest part of this WHOLE thing is, if you order from Carolyn in February and tell her I sent you to her, then she'll donate 10% of each order to our adoption fund.

Now THAT is neat stuff.  So if you were waiting to have something like this done, you have an excuse to do it now.  Not only do you get something, but you help us bring our sweet girl, Kylie, home!



Kelly's Korner is one of the blogs I have been reading for some time now.  Frequently she does "Show Us Your Life" Fridays.  There have been SUYL Fridays for every room in the house, even a single friends SUYL!  I never link up because I never have time to take pictures of the rooms in my house and I'm pretty sure no one would be impressed with my lack of decorating skills.

If you think Kylie's room is shaping up, then you should know, I looked on Kelly's SUYL nurseries and followed hundreds of the links to get ideas.  I know, I'm a total cheater!

Anyway, I digress.  Kelly's SUYL Friday today is about Adoption Stories!  So if you linked to me from there, WELCOME!

Buy a t-shirt, support my adoption and read all about how we came to decide to take this journey here.  We haven't actually adopted yet, but we are in the process.  This blog follows the last turbulent years of my life (several family losses including my dad, mother in law and two brothers, job loss from my husband etc.).  But in the end, God has blessed us abundantly more than I could ask and yes, even imagine.

Welcome to our story.

Biggest Loser

I am participating in the Biggest Loser!  But not the one on NBC.  However, my friend from work Hannah is!  She's on the purple team on the Biggest Loser 11!  If you haven't taken an opportunity to watch it this season, look for Hannah and her sister Olivia Tuesday on the Biggest Loser.

In an effort to support Hannah this season of the Biggest Loser, we are having a BL competition at work.  We had our initial weigh in about 2 weeks ago and then our next weigh in was this past week.  I am pleased to report after week 1 (I weighed in between times) I lost 2.2 lbs.  At our official weigh in, I lost 2 pounds.  Considering I ate at the Melting Pot this past weekend, I think it was pretty good.

I'm going to make quick posts here after weigh ins so you all can keep me accountable.  :)



OK, it's been long enough.

I have 150 t-shirts that I need to move and I want YOUR help.  I've been putting off pushing these since I felt like most people just needed to get through the Christmas holidays.  So now that's over and I need to start back on my fundraising.

These shirts were created by my friend Katelyn who is actually the model in the picture over to the right sidebar.  I'm selling them for $20 each.  If I sell them all, I will make enough money to cover the cost of my trip to China to pick Kylie up.

And you know what?  I'm not even going to ask you to buy one.  What's the catch?  Instead of asking YOU to buy one, I'm asking you NOT to buy one, but to sell TWO to friends you know.  Do you realize if only 75 of you sold a t-shirt to two of your friends, my t-shirts would be gone and you would be directly responsible for bring our Kylie home.

So will you help? It literally costs you nothing to do it.  Just post it on your Facebook and ask 2 people to purchase a t-shirt.  Easy as that. 

And if you don't?  Nothing bad will happen and God will still provide for me to go to China.  But wouldn't it be way more cool to be able to tell everyone "I helped bring a family together!"??? (which incidentally is what is on the front of the shirt!).

I have only adult sizes...Small through XL with a few XXL...you can pay right through paypal or contact me and I'll give you further instructions.  I will even ship them to you at no charge (Lucinda and Christy, I have NOT forgotten about you!  Your t-shirts will be shipped this week!).

So there you go.  SELL MY SHIRTS!  And help bring OUR family together!


More of Kylie's Room

As promised, here are more pictures of Kylie's room.  Steve got the valance hung and with the new rod we bought, I think it's GREAT!

And then, I think I might have mentioned, I found a crib set (bumper, sheet and comforter) on sale at Target for $12.  They were the pink, brown and green colors, so I went ahead an purchased it because again, it was on clearance for $12!  I actually think it turned out great.  What do you think?

See that super cute blanket hanging on the side of the crib?  I loved it and it was so soft and had some of the green in it that I just couldn't resist.  But that thing cost the same as the clearance crib set!  But isn't it oh-so-cute!

Here's what the crib area looks like now that the crib set is in.  I think it's starting to really shape up.  I want to get the dresser/hutch cleaned off, but I just haven't had the time.

And see the doll there?  That's "Shelley".  She was my Adoption Doll I got when I was in 2nd grade.  They were big back then and this one was handmade by the mom of a friend of mine who I went to school with from Kindergarten right on up through 12th grade.  Joel used to spend lots of the summer at my house since his mom worked and mine didn't.  His mom made this doll and her initials and the year are sewn right into her backside.  I named her after my best friend in 2nd grade, Shelley.  Shelley and I also went to school together from elementary on up through high school.  Jenna dug Shelley out of my cedar chest and has insisted on putting her out for Kylie.  Now that I think about it, giving Kylie my old "Adoption Doll" is quite appropriate.  I might need to ask someone to make her a new dress.  :)

So that's how the room is coming along.  My friend Karen came over last weekend and we looked at tons of letters to hang on Kylie's wall.  So next time you get pictures, it will be of that.  I can't wait!


Special Needs

I've been debating on how and when to write this post and what to say in it.  But I feel like the closer we get to sending our dossier to China, the more important it is for me to share with everyone what to expect when we get our referral for Kylie.

I've mentioned before that we have been approved to adopt "one female child of Chinese heritage from 0-3 years old".  That's what our homestudy actually said and how we filled out our application for the adoption agency.

What this means is we have no idea if Kylie will be 18 months old, 2 years old or 3 years old.  We won't know until we get an actual referral.  Also, I have mentioned that we have requested a child with "special needs".  I know this term conjures up a lot of pre-conceived notions and ideas so I figured it would be best if I just put it all out there and if you have questions, you can certainly ask.

Steve and I knew we were not equipped (emotionally, physically, financially) to deal with an ongoing special need such as Downs Syndrome, Spina Bifida or a lifelong heart defect.  Let me say if Jenna had been born with any of these, we would have loved her as much as we do now and would have done whatever it took to get her physical issues taken care of.  Plus, we just didn't feel that God was asking us to take on a child with an ongoing special need.

Let me back up just a bit and clarify...in China, "special needs" can be anything from cleft lift and palate (repaired or not) to a missing finger or toe, to spina bifida or any combination of these.  (Also, older "healthy" children are considered special needs).  So, in China, a child can have a missing toe and be considered special needs.  Or they can have a large birthmark, be deaf, blind, or any number of things and be termed as special needs.  Many times, especially with the cleft lip and/or palate, China will pay to have these things corrected, but once you are "special needs" you are always special needs.

In doing our research, we realized you could tell the agency very specifically what special needs you could accept and which you couldn't.  And they ask you to speak with your (or a) pediatrician about the possibilities and then be very specific in your request.

And therefore, I'd like to share with you what Kylie could possibly have/look like so that when the time comes, you won't be surprised.

The special needs we said we would accept are repaired cleft lip and palate, unrepaired cleft lip, club feet (in a child under 2--our pediatrician suggested this since after age 2, club feet get more complicated to correct), missing finger or toe, ear deformity with no to mild hearing loss, hemangioma (though not covering a large part of the face) and minor burns and/or scars.

And we have already accepted the fact that there might be other hidden health issues we don't know about until after Kylie comes to live with us.  And if that turns out to be the case, then we will deal with that day when it comes. 

Why am I sharing this with you?  Because I want everyone to understand our situation.  This 'need' Kylie will have might be large or small and it might be repaired or not.  But either way, she'll be ours to love and to take care of and God has already picked her out just for us.  She's already a Taylor even though she doesn't know it yet!

If you have questions about why we chose these special needs or why we decided to go with special needs in general, please feel free to ask.  I'm happy to share as much as I can with you!


Another 9 Weeks

I can't believe another 9 weeks of school has passed!  I have an almost-4th grader!  I know this blog has been heavy on the adoption process and I want to take time to brag on my sweet girl.

The first 9 weeks of school she made all As.  I was so proud of her, but I realized that the first few weeks are mostly review.  I had seen several papers and tests come home that were now Bs with the occasional C.  Her reading goal had been moved up again, so we had to work really hard just to make sure she met it.

They also started cursive, which of course Jenna LOVES, but it's like starting all over again.  So, her handwriting doesn't comes as easily as it once did and while she can try to be neat, she gets counted off if she doesn't form the letters correctly.

I was pretty anxious to see how her grades compared to last 9 weeks.  And when I got her report card, I was not disappointed.  THAT GIRL HAD MADE STRAIGHT As AGAIN!  That's right, she had done GREAT!  She did got from an E in handwriting to an S+ but that was to be expected and her handwriting grade was a sub-grade of her English grade. 

I'm just so proud of her!  But because she continues to meet her AR reading goal, it keeps getting increased.  Saturday night before the Melting Pot, we stopped at Barnes and Noble (I found a gift card Steve gave me for our anniversary last year) and ended up buying her two Nancy Drew books.  She loves mysteries and even though I never read Nancy Drew, she seemed to really enjoy them.  They are 6 AR points and if she can finish both of them, she'll have surpassed her goal, so she's already gotten started.

We've had some trouble at home with getting Jenna to do what she's told the first time and to keep her room neat and tidy.  A lot of the problem is mine in that I get tired of the mess so I end up cleaning it myself.  The problem with that is she knows she can wait me out.  So there's going to be some changes around this house.  But I'd like to hear your thoughts.  I know some of you with more than one child HAVE to have your kids help out, but that's not been our situation...so I'm a little behind on that.  Comments (please keep them kind!) are welcome!


The Melting Pot

For probably 4 of the last 5 years, for Valentine's Day, Steve and I have gone to the Melting Pot as our gift to each other.  This year, we decided to go a little early and take Jenna since she'd never been.

I'm trying to watch what I eat, so I was a little apprehensive about being able to pick something at least not as bad for you.  Jenna, however, had NO apprehension.
We got there a few minutes before our reservation and they seated us right away.  And oddly enough, Jenna got pink fondue forks.  You can kind of see them here.

My favorite part of the Melting Pot is not just the chocolate dessert, but the cheese fondue at the beginning.  Jenna was more interested in eating the apples plain.

And of course, the chocolate dessert (we had The Original) was her favorite.  But she ate very well for all courses and my one goal was to NOT overeat.  When we do the Valentine's special, there is TONS of food and because it's expensive, I always feel like I have to eat it all.  This time, the portion sizes were more reasonable and so I was fine to stop eating when I felt full.  It was a great night and we enjoyed it together as a family.


Random Thoughts

(This post was meant to be published on Thursday, January 20), unforutnately, blogger is trying to post it on Wednesday.)

I have several things I want to write about but I don't have the time right now, so the longer posts will have to wait.  I'll just share some random thoughts with you right now...

1.  The thought of being pretty close to sending our dossier to China is making me a little anxious.  I mean, I know it could still be months before getting a referral and even longer to bring her home, but it is starting to really be REAL now.  The room is almost done (more pictures coming soon) and last night I took dinner to an adoptive family who has been home with their special needs son from China (who is 3) for about a month.  Seeing this family made it SO REAL for me. 

2.  I'm thankful for the little things today...like waking up this morning.  For two days this week I battled a headache all day.  It wasn't sinuses thank goodness, but what I usually call a tension headache.  I feel like I get them a lot on Mondays and think it's because I spend a whole day staring at a computer screen after NOT staring at a computer screen all weekend.  By the time Bible Study ended on Tuesday night, my head was about to explode (despite the ibuprofen I'd taken several times during the day).  When I got home, I took Advil and headed towards bed and my head was just about to do me in.  I'm not prone to migraines so I knew it wasn't those.  I woke up yesterday morning with a stinkin' headache and took more Advil with breakfast.   And then the headache went to work with me.

Late yesterday morning, the A/C guy came to service our unit.   Since we moved in, we have this company ( a local one) come service our unit every spring and fall.  When Steve lost his job, we had to cut that service out temporarily so it had been about a year since we last had it done.  2 weekends ago, the upstairs unit went out and we had to call them out.  They fixed the problem and then our service guy (who we are on a first name basis with) asked us if we wanted him to start back with our service visits and since we were already writing him a check, we figured we might as well.  So yesterday he comes in and asks Steve to come out to the HVAC unit with him.  He shows him the pipe that is busted along the seam and leaking CARBON MONOXIDE into our house.  UM.  OK.

We ended up replacing the unit ($$$) and bought new carbon monoxide detectors.  And lo and behold, my headache is gone!  I'm sure the leak was very slow and may not have had anything to do with my headache, but the ending to this story could have been much worse.  Today, I'm just glad I woke up this morning.

3.  As alluded to in number 1, we have done a little more work on Kylie's room.  Steve got the valance up AND I got a crib set.  Well, it was a bumper pad, crib sheet and comforter.  I found it at Target for $12!  It went perfectly with her room.  And I bought this super cute blanket also.  I need to clean off/out the dresser/hutch and then add a few more things to the walls and I think we'll be done.  Wow.  I'll post some pictures shortly.

4.  More snow expected in the area this afternoon and evening.  As of this writing of this post (which we know can change in a nanosecond) they were calling for 2 inches as far south as Columbia.  When I came home last night, I passed the salt trucks spreading brine on the roads.  I'm hoping for a little snow, but only if I don't have to drive anywhere and the office is closed!  :)

5.  I'm going to a Tupperware party tonight and I'm pathetically super excited about it.  I've never been to a Tupperware party and I have seen some ultra cool stuff, so I'm stoked to see what they have now.  Plus, I get to hang out with some of my favorite girls and what could be better than that?!  ( all provided we don't get snowed out in which case I might be VERY disappointed).

That's all.  Again, I have some other thoughts to share...but those will have to wait.


Fingerprints done!

Yesterday we visited our local USCIS office to have our fingerprints done.  I thought it might be interesting to tell what all was involved for those that haven't yet done this part of their process.  I talked to a friend a few months ago and she gave me a run down on what to expect and I found it not only helpful, but extremely comforting.  I will confess, I built this up to be something spectacular in my mind.

Here's what I had envisioned...a cold, formal, governmental looking office with metal detectors and officers standing at the door.  Lots of people sitting and waiting to be called back...not enough chairs...kids running around and hanging off their parents.  A line of people at the desk trying to get signed in.  Angry and short tempered workers who tell us that we can't have Katie in the building and who don't understand that as a service dog for Steve, it's his right to bring her in.  And I worried that even though I read the form 100 times, I'd have the date or time wrong, wouldn't have the right identification, would have bad fingerprints or would just have some hateful woman who doesn't understand these fingerprints are the one thing standing between me and Steve having our dossier sent to China.

Want to know what it was really like?  NOTHING LIKE I IMAGINED (thank goodness!).  The office was a very non-descript office suite situated with many other similarly non-descript office suites.  In fact, USCIS wasn't even emblazoned across the top of the building when we pulled in.  It was something general like "Application Processing Center".  It was a large open area with about 35 chairs for waiting...of which NONE were filled.  That's right, NO ONE was waiting!  I could see some offices off to the side, but there was no noise coming from them.  Only a security desk and guard sitting about half way into the large open space.  I walked up to him and asked him if I was in the right place, flashing the form and he confirmed I was.  I showed him my driver's license and he gave me a form to fill out.  We chatted about the weather since it was cool and rainy.  He is from Wisconsin and is used to 20 below temps and several feet of snow.  Which of course, made our 3 inches hilarious for him.  The form was simple...just basic information.  Filled it out, returned it to him and he immediately walked me right to a cubicle where they were to "take my biometrics".

Honestly, I knew fingerprinting was involved but wasn't sure what else "biometrics" involved.  At work, our biometrics include height, weight, cholesterol etc.  The cubicle had a camera set up also.  However, they did not take our pictures!  My technician was probably 60 years old and the sweetest lady.  She talked about her sinus and allergy issues this season and I told her about Steve's sinus surgery.  While we talked, she took my fingerprints.  Very similar to the prints we had made at the UPS store for our local background checks.  And just in case you didn't know, there's no longer any ink.  Just a platen glass in which you put your finger on.

She looked and admired my fingers for their moisture.  She said this is the worst time of year because people's fingers are so dry, sometimes it's hard to get good prints.  But she didn't seem too concerned about me.  Steve actually started with his guy a minute later than I did, but got done first.  So I guess his prints must be better than mine.  :)  Anyway, I digress.  She finally finished taking my prints and I asked her about how long for the results and she said they were sent already.  I'm not sure what that means in terms of getting the results in the mail but hopefully soon.

I overheard some of the office workers talking to Steve about Katie and what a beautiful dog she is.  So all my fears about them telling us we couldn't bring her in were totally unfounded.

All in all, the visit took maybe 20 minutes with no waiting at all.  I should tell you that our appointment was scheduled at 10am, but I'd heard if you get there early, they'll take you right back and then you don't have as long of a wait with all the other people coming in with your same appointment time.  We actually got there about 9:30am.  I told them I was sorry for being so early but with the rain and traffic, we just didn't know what to expect.  They were fine with me being early and in the end it paid off.  When we left at about 9:50, there were still only maybe 2 people there...so it clearly was just a slow time for them.  But no complaints for me.

I'll keep you posted about when those results arrive!  :)


Hello USCIS!

Today is our visit to the USCIS to get our fingerprints done.  This is the last big step before we can send our dossier to China and began the real wait.  I've heard horror stories about unclassifiable fingerprints and unreadable prints.  With Steve being diabetic and having to stick his fingers several times a day, these are the worries that are barraging me right now.  Please pray that there are no issues with our prints.

We won't know for at least another couple weeks when the results come back...let's hope for good prints today!

New Year's Eve

Somehow I neglected to post about our New Year's Eve.  As is traditional in our family, we typically spend New Years with the Millsaps.  However, Rachel and I started thinking we might expand our party to include others.  And it ended up as a huge party of all our best friends from Station Hill over at our friends' house. 
There was such yummy food to be had.  I'm so lucky I decided not to start watching my food choices until after the first of the year!

So many couples had babysitters for the night, but there were others who ventured out with their kids (us included) and it was such a great time with all the kids running around.  It was chaotic and it was SO MUCH FUN.

And even though it was raining, the big boys managed some fireworks which the older kids enjoyed regardless of the rain and wind!

And then the real fun began...it was a Rock Band competition...and everyone got their turn.  I found out we have some pretty serious Rock Band folks in this group. 

We had guitar players, bass players, drummers and singers.  I laughed harder than I have laughed in a long time and it was a great, great New Years.

Of course, the competition came to a halt when midnight got near.  We watched as the guitar in the Music City dropped and then celebrated and welcomed in 2011!


Happy MLK Day!

Since today is a holiday and I'm off work, I thought I would take a break from the normal postings and do something a little lighter.

Let me introduce you to the newest of the Taylor clan...this is my GREAT nephew, Zachary! 

His mom is my niece Alex.  Unfortunately for us, Alex lives far away in North Carolina, so most of us had not met him yet, so I was thrilled to see the little guy...
Not to mention, we were excited to see Alex as well.  She was supposed to come to visit a little later in the season, but she surprised us all by coming early!  And I never can have enough love from sweet babies!


How We Chose Our Adoption Agency

I realize this post will not interest everyone and that's OK.  If you start reading and feel it's not for you, feel free to skip right on past.  However, I know when I was researching adoption agencies, I sought out these types of stories to help educate me on how to pick ours.  I hope knowing how we came to America World will help someone else decide on the right agency for them.

When Steve realized that God had changed his heart regarding adoption, the first thing I started doing immediately was researching agencies and countries.  And for those of you not familiar with such things, there are THOUSANDS of agencies.  I did just a cursory glance at several whose names were familiar to me.  Added to our list Holt International, Children's Hope International and Gladney.

Right away, I realized I would feel more comfortable with an agency who had a strong Christian background.  Many agencies are Christian based.  Some are more "out front" than others.  We added All God's Children International and America World Adoption (at the recommendation of a college FB friend, thanks Jennifer!)

I would have loved to have an agency which was local, but there aren't that many to choose from in this area.  There is one in Mt. Juliet called Small World Adoption  and it went on our list of possibilities. 

We also knew we wanted a fairly large agency.  There's definitely something to be said about a small, homey agency, but we wanted one that had been in the business for a long time and had established procedures.  Also, I had heard sometimes the larger agencies got referrals faster.  Who knows if that's true, but I know it was in some instances and for some countries.

Then, we looked at each to determine if they worked in the countries we were most interested in.  That was a short list already.  China special needs was our first choice.  Then Ethiopia.  And finally we considered Rwanda.

And those of you that know me well, probably can guess what came next.  THE SPREADSHEET!  There was so much information out there for each of these agencies!  I figured the best way to keep it all straight and be able to truly compare would be to put all the information in a spreadsheet.  So much of the information could be found straight from the agencies' websites.  To cut down on the information overload (which is truly an understatement), I didn't request information packets from all of our potential agencies.  But once I got all the information down in one place, we quickly started shaking out the front runners.

One of the things that really impressed me were that all of these agency websites had a PLETHORA of information and didn't require me to call or request a packet for information like fees.  In addition, I started thinking I favored the agencies who had social workers of their own.  If they employ social workers, you don't have to find your own from somewhere else.

We finally narrowed it down to 3 agencies.  I ordered info packets from each and started to really delve into not only their websites, but into other review websites.  Let me just put a warning out there about adoption agency review websites...if you search hard enough, you will find good and bad reviews on just about every agency out there.  Keep that in mind when doing research.

Each of these three agencies sent DVDs with their packets and man oh man.  Those videos are super informative and sometimes hard to watch.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Once we had the agencies narrowed down to 3 and had their informational packets in front of us, we decided to make some calls.  I reached out to all three.

I had to leave a message with two of the places and then with one, they suggested I send an email.  Now, I'm usually all over the email thing.  97% of the time, I'd rather email than call, but we were so close to choosing an agency that I really wanted to talk to someone and I wasn't able to get that immediate gratification with any of them.

That same day, after 5pm, agency #1 called me back at home.  I was ultra impressed.  However, when I told them about Steve's diabetes, they strongly discouraged me NOT to apply to the China special needs program (which we had decided was our choice).  I was devastated because I figured if that agency had a hard time placing diabetics with children in the China program, that it was a China issue and we'd never get placed.  She was very insistent that we try and apply for the Ethiopia program.  Obviously, that was our second choice anyway, but I couldn't keep myself from being disappointed.

Steve kept telling me not to worry until I heard from the other agencies and if it was meant to be, it would all work itself out.  My friend Jamie had told me when you found your agency, you would KNOW.  At this point, I was way far away from that.

The next day, I received an email back from the one agency I had to email.  And they said they had absolutely NO problem with our situation.  And that agency...was America World.  When I got that news, I was so excited and finally KNEW we'd found our agency.  As for agency #3, they did eventually call back, but it was too late because both Steve and I just knew we'd go with America World.

Here are a few things that I love about AWAA:

1.  They employ their own social workers in the state of TN (and some other states).
2.  Their scripture of choice was Jeremiah 29:11 which is special to both Steve and I and especially as it relates to this adoption.
3.  They are in VA which is on Eastern Time, so they are ahead of us in time, not behind.    I don't know why that's a big deal to me, but I like it.
4.  Steve Curtis Chapman endorses them.  And I love Steven Curtis Chapman.  Hey, I didn't say all the reasons I love AWAA are GOOD reasons!
5.  They are a well established agency and have brought many families together!

So, that's how we came to choose AWAA as our agency.



I have been meaning to get pictures up of what we have done so far in Kylie's room.  The problem was that we couldn't seem to get any of the projects we needed to done.

It all started when we decided that it would probably be best if we bought Jenna a new bed and just turn her bed back into a toddler bed (or crib) for Kylie.  So that meant, we had to find a bed for Jenna.  On a fluke, I went into a local baby store in the area and happened upon a variety of beds at very reasonable prices.  What did I find, but a extremely reasonably priced BUNK BED.  And not only was it a bunk, but you could purchase it with a full size on the bottom (which is what her bed currently was) and twin on top.  The good thing about this was that we had accumulated several beds over the past many years of our marriage and we had a twin mattress and of course the full.  So the only expense was that of the bed.  And what kid doesn't want a bunk bed?  Jenna was thrilled and Steve, being the kid he is, was ALL FOR IT.

So, we bought the bed.  Unfortunately, we weren't equipped for the bedding that goes with having, in essence, TWO beds in one room.  A few weekends ago, we took care of that.  I will just tell you that I love me some JC Penney!  We found this super cute bedding set that came with everything we needed.  Then I just purchased some extra sheets and comforter for the top bunk.
Jenna is most definitely into color, so we purchased some curtains at Target in a mix-match of colors.  So, here we are...

And yes, that's her pet rat, Belle, posing in her cage.  She loves the bedding set and the bed and every piece of the set flips over to be a different color and design.  Really, it's super cute.
You can see the different pillowcase designs here...stripes, dots, squigglies.  A variety of everything.  But check this out...

Under the bed, for just a little extra are 3 drawers.  We got some extra storage space with the bed and it was well worth it!

So now, it was time to get started on Kylie's room.  You remember the ugly pink stripe...

We tried to fix it, but it never looked quite right and it just didn't turn out the way I'd envisioned.  So, I (read:  Steve) primed and painted over it and the room went back to all mint green.

We put the bed up as a toddler bed, but only after having to buy all new hardware in order to get it together because we couldn't find the originals.

Then we moved the furniture to the places we wanted it.  Once we did that, we could apply the vinyl we bought to decorate the room. 
You can't tell it in this picture, but the wall is green and the lettering is brown.  Here's another look...

We got the shade up in the room, which my friend Carolyn made for me, but we didn't have the right hardware (again!), so we didn't have the valance up yet...

Two things to point out in the above picture...do you love the rick-rack at the bottom of the shade?  It kind of looks like frosting on a cupcake.  That was all Carolyn's idea.  I love it.  Also in the corner is the new rod for the valance.  Found that at Target too.  It's silver with big pink bulbs at the end.  Here's the valance.  You can't tell a whole lot about it just laying on the bed, but I can't WAIT to see it up. 
I'm trying to figure out if I have room for this on the wall.  I'm thinking about painting it with the pink paint we used for the stripe, but not sure if I have room for it or not.

And then my sweet friend Karen G. is going to create another wall hanging for me with the letters of Kylie's name.  I can't WAIT to see how they turn out!

So, you can see we have lots more to do, but we are getting there.  It feels weird creating a room for someone we don't even know yet.  But we are mostly pleased with how it's turned out so far.


Snow Day!

We ended up getting about 5 inches of snow on Sunday night.  School AND work were both closed on Monday and boy, that made me SUPER HAPPY.  Our office doesn't normally close, but they've been very good at erring on the side of caution this season.

A lot of times when it's snowed, it's been enough to close school, but not work but I'd just go in a little late when the traffic had cleared the roads some.  What that meant was I'd have to go outside and play with Jenna in the snow at like 9am and then come in, warm up, shower, dress for work etc.  But Monday was just a lazy day.  
Katie absolutely loved the snow.  We have trained her (mostly) to stay in the yard even when she's off the leash.
I took time to get some stuff done that I hadn't accomplished over the weekend and then we went to play.  Jenna was more interested in building a snow fort than a snowman.  We tried to use Jenna's sled but it was just too hard with such a little hill. 

Before we'd gotten the fort 1/2 way done, we got the call several of our friends were going to sled at a friend's house.  So over we went.   

 Who knew that a leaky jump-o-lene would have been useful in the snow?  But it was great because we could send a bunch of us down at once.  The kids loved it.

Take a close look...see Steve and Katie on the sled at the bottom of the hill?  I'm not joking.  Katie was sledding.

If you don't believe me, check this out...

 The picture below reminds me of Clark Griswold on Christmas Vacation.  No kidding, that blue thing was SUPER fast!  And it helps that Jenna is light....she flew down the driveway!

This is the group of sledders.  I love these people.  They are the friends I do life with.  And there's something about the people you do life with...it's the best time whenever you are around them.  No doubt.  I love these people.  Every one of them (even David, who had to work and isn't pictured!) 
L-R:  Jason, Tatum, Lindsey, Rachel, me, Steve, front: Hannah, Jenna and Lakyn