The Downside to Employment

(Disclaimer: This is a tongue in cheek post.  We are extremely grateful for this job opportunity God has provided Steve).

For the past 2 years, Steve's been unemployed and we have been praying for a job.  I've always said that despite the financial stress being a one-income family caused, I did love Steve being at home.  Now that he's back to work, the downsides have become increasingly clear.  So, since I'm running low on interesting blog topics, I'm going to list them here...

The Downside to Employment:

*He can't clean my house, do the laundry or run my errands which means I have to use my lunch break to do errands like banking and clean the house in the evenings when I get home (yes, I've been spoiled).
*I pack 3 lunches a day instead of two (I'm doing this at night to save time).
*I wake up earlier because Steve's alarm is going off before mine.
*By 9:30pm, Steve is ready for bed and I'm just getting my second wind.
*I can't call or text him everytime something crosses my mind that he needs to know (which REALLY means I have to remember everything or write it down).
*Jenna has to go to aftercare every day.

You don't realize just how much he did at home until he's not there to do it anymore!!!


7 months ago today...

7 months ago today a possibly young woman in Lianyungang City in Jiangsu, China gave birth to a precious baby girl.  I'd like to think that she wanted to keep her but due to her cleft lip and cleft palate couldn't afford the bills her medical care would require.

To ensure she was found quickly, this mom left her baby wrapped securely up in front of a local restaurant.  The very next day, this baby girl was found and taken to a warm orphanage nearby.  Fast forward 6 months and the baby is well enough for adoption.  Thousands of miles across the world on a Wednesday evening, I was just sitting down to check blogs (surprise!) when I noticed an email from my agency on my blackberry.  Little did I know God was about to orchestrate nothing short of a miracle by connecting this little girl to a forever family all the way in Tennessee!!

Today, my baby girl turned 7 months old.  I am praying I can have her in my arms before she turns a year!

Happy birthday sweet girl!


Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure

So many years have passed since this great race started.  And even though my mother actually died of cancer, I've never been interested in participating.

Until now.

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while, know my dear friend Darlene, barely 40 years old, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  At the time of this post, she is in between her 3rd and 4th chemo treatment.  You can read more about her journey on her Caring Bridge site.

Well, this year, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure means a lot more to me.  A good friend of mine has started Team Darlene.  If you already participate in this race, will you consider joining Team Darlene?  You don't have to know her to support her in her battle with cancer.

Our goal is to have a team of 50.  Please join me and all my friends to help eradicate this nasty disease.  NO ONE should have to endure what my sweet friend, mother and mother in law went through.

If you are interested, instructions are below.

2011 Greater Nashville Race for the Cure
Race Date: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Race Location: Maryland Farms, Brentwood, TN
Race Time: Race village opens at 6am and Race begins at 9am
All funds from the Komen Race for the Cure go to research, education, screening and treatment programs.

Here is the link to register: http://nashville.info-komen.org/site/TR/RacefortheCure/NAS_GreaterNashvilleAffiliate?fr_id=2295&pg=entry

Or here are the instructions from the website.
1. Go to www.komennashville.org
2. Click on Komen Race for the Cure (top header menu), and then Register.
3. Click the gray button titled, ‘Join an Existing Team.’
4. Search for team name 'Team Darlene'. It should pop up as a Faith based organization.


Kylie's Care Package

I mentioned a few days ago that we were able to send a care package to Kylie at her orphanage in China.  I finally got a couple photos.

One of the things we purchased was a disposable camera.  Ideally, the nannies at her orphanage will use it to take photos of her, her surrondings and maybe even her friends.  We should receive the camera when we go pick her up and then we'll have to develop the photos here.  The lady who works on these care packages in China (Ann) labels  the camera in Chinese and English so they are sure it will be used for the right child.

Another item we purchased was a photo album.  You can see it above.  It's Hello Kitty and soft.  A picture of the baby goes on the front again, so it's easy for the nannies to know to whom it belongs.  The other pictures we labeled and Ann translated them for us.  Again, ideally, the nannies will show Kylie our pictures so she will be used to us before we get there.

This is a pic of the entire package.  There's a lovey we hope she'll have when we get there and the candies for the nannies.  We wrote a letter and sweet Ann translated it for us.  Some of it contained questions for the nannies about Kylie (which you saw answered a few posts ago) and the rest just basically introduced ourselves and our family and told when we hoped to travel.  The care package should be at the orphanage now.  If we aren't there by her birthday in January, we'll likely send another one.


The Day Is Almost Here

Steve definitely starts his new job on Monday!  I think he's excited and nervous all together.  We have been told you get to choose your schedule (after the 2 weeks of training) based on how well you do during training.  No pressure there.  We know there are less than desirable (for us) shifts so please join us in praying for Steve to quickly pick up what he's being taught.  If attitude, timeliness and friendliness has anything to do with it, he'll have nothing to worry about!

I'll get you an update as soon as I can!


She's At It Again!

My sweet baby girl is at it again...

Perhaps you remember this post from right before school was out for the summer.  Not too long after this happened, the gentleman disappeared from this corner.  And since I was no longer getting off that exit during the summer, I had no idea what happened to him.  But the first week of school, guess who was back?  Actually, I'm not sure if this is the same guy.  I tend to think it's not, but who knows.

Anyway, the minute Jenna saw him, she became obsessed with giving him money.  I'm all about some money but those of you who know me know I NEVER have cash.  NEV. ER.  So, every morning the first week of school, Jenna would say, "Mama can I PLEASE give him some money?!" and I had to tell her I didn't have any.  Well, right about the time school started, my sister sent Jenna $10 for her to buy herself a back-to-school treat.  Jenna has carried that $10 around since she got it (actually I carried it around, but for her to spend when she found something).  Monday she said "Mama.  I wanna give that man on the side of the road my money."  And being the stellar mother I am, I said, "You want to give your WHOLE $10?!"  And she was like "Yeah".  No hesitation.  No looking back.  Just YEAH.  Why I have a hangup with her giving all she has says a lot about me and not a lot of things I like seeing in myself.  Why can't I just give like that?

So as we are driving to school, she falls asleep and when we get to the exit, the light is green and she's asleep, I'm on the cell phone and so I didn't stop.  She really fussed at me for not waking her up.  But it's a busy intersection and the only safe thing to do would have been pull completely off the side of the road and I'm not sure that was even feasible without getting completely run over.

Tuesday morning, she wanted to eat breakfast out and so used her money to do that.  She had 4 $1 bills left as change.  I had the money out and waiting.  And he wasn't there.  And she was devastated.  She didn't understand why he wasn't there when she wanted to give her money.

But on Wednesday morning, HE WAS THERE. 

And the light was just turning red.

I was the first one at the light.

In the left lane right by him.

It was GO time.

Jenna was nervous but she opened the sliding door and said "excuse me!"  And gave him all 4 of her dollars.
Just look at that smile.  She was SO happy.  She said, "I feel happy!"  Oh my precious daughter.  It is definitely not from me that you get this reckless abandon and deep concern for others.  Thank God He is doing a WORK in you.  Something I, in my imperfection, cannot teach you.  And you know what her last words to me were?

"Look Mama!  He's smiling!  He's smiling!!"

Yes, yes he is.  And so am I.


Update on our Girl!

I mentioned the other day we sent a care package to Kylie at her orphanage in China.  I hope to have pictures of the care package soon, but part of it included a letter that we had translated.  In the letter, I asked a few questions in hopes of getting some more information on our sweetie.  I knew it would probably take a couple weeks to get a response.  I sent the package details on Saturday night and imagine my surprise when on Tuesday morning, I had a response!  So here's what we know...

Weight: 6kg or 13.2lbs
Height: 60cm or 23.62 inches

Her international pediatrician states she appears to be growing on target for a baby of her age with cleft lip and palate!  We are so thankful to God she is healthy.  We also asked the following:

Has surgery been planned for her cleft lip and if so, do you know when?
Yes,your child can receive the surgery when her weight reach 8kg.

Is she sitting up by herself? Does she crawl yet?
She can sit up by herself with some help,she can not crawl by herself .

Has she ever been ill?
Yes,sometimes she gets cold or diarrhea but she recovers well very soon after get some medical care .

We have many pretty things for her when we come to China. If you can, would you allow her hair to grow out?
Yes,we can.
The above report makes us very happy.  Sounds like a normal baby to me.  We are thrilled!  I really can't wait to hold her in my arms.  We are supposed to get another update when we receive LOA but that's gonna be a couple months from now at least.  I am just so thankful that we got this update so quickly.  I'm hoping if they schedule her surgery before then, they contact me.


Looking for a Daycare

Since we now know who Kylie is and an approximate travel time (January/February), I am going to have to start thinking about where to put her when I return to work.  It's been nearly 11 years since I've had to research daycares and wow!  Was I in for a surprise! 

It would be great financially for her to go somewhere in the town where we live.  But the problem is we both work (or will work) in Nashville, Jenna goes to school in Nashville and our pediatrician (and Kylie's cleft team) will all be in Nashville.  So, it makes the most sense for her to go to a daycare in Nashville.  But holy cow!  Daycares are EXPENSIVE!  One of the ones I checked is the same price as our house payment!  YIKES!

Not to mention, there is a plethora of Mother's Day Out programs which are 9:00-2:30, but that doesn't help us.  Several good ones (that come highly recommended) don't start taking children until 20-24 months old and again, NOT HELPFUL. The next few weeks I'm really going to have to start doing some research.  Our preference would be for a Christian daycare but that just might not be possible.

Some days I'm not sure we are ready for this!


More on Kylie's Stuff

Sunday, my friend Jamie stopped me in the hallway at church.  She had brought a bag full of clothes in sizes 18-24 months and was looking for someone who needed them.  She actually stopped me to chat about something different and realized those would be PERFECT for Kylie!

I did something today I never do.  I took a nap when I got home from church.  Jenna and Steve napped with me.  Jenna has a TV-free today and she woke up before me.  Instead of sneaking downstairs and watching TV, she got up and organized the clothes.
I took these with my iPhone, so the quality is lacking, but look at this cute thing! It's SO SMALL!  I was looking at the outfit when I realized I'm gonna have a BABY!  A little baby!  She won't be much bigger (if any) than the sweet babies I keep every week in the nursery at church.  Jenna and I have stopped at the local consignment shop periodically to pick up an outfit here and there, but they are always 2T and 3T.  I always thought we'd get an older child.  I gotta get busy with the clothing!  But just look at some of these cute outfits!

Thanks Jamie!  BTW-Jamie is the AP of a beautiful Nepalese daughter!  She probably doesn't know it, but watching her and her husband walk the road of adoption is what started Steve's mind thinking about our own journey.

Moving on...a few weeks ago (before we knew who Kylie was), I went to a very large local consignment sale and picked up a few things.  Check out this spectacular bow holder...
I can't wait to fill it up with bows and barrettes!  We just arranged for a care package to be sent to Kylie and in it, we asked her caregivers to please allow her hair to grow until we can come pick her up.  There will definitely be a future post on the care package, but you'll have to wait for that!  :)  Hopefully though they will oblige us and let her beautiful black hair grow.
In case you can't see it, this says "Little Sister".  The one Jenna got says "Big Sister".  It will be a while before Kylie can wear hers, but it'll be ready and waiting for her when she's ready.


And Yet Another Job Update

I wrote earlier this week about Steve starting his job today.  Well the start date has been pushed back yet another week.  There are security clearances which apparently take a blue forever to get.  And it didn't help that Steve had to correct a mistake here and there further delaying the process.  Seriously, with 33 pages of security questions (I kid you not), it's a wonder he hasn't had to re-do it a dozen times!

Hopefully his start date will officially be the 29th.  Steve overnighted the paperwork on Friday, so today or tomorrow we should know for sure.  I continue to have heartburn about after the 2 weeks of training are over and what Steve's schedule will look like.  I have to remind myself that we'll adjust and it wouldn't be forever.  We'll keep you posted!


T-shirts and other Fundraising Ideas!

While they are always ever present over there in the sidebar, I haven't said much about our adoption t-shirts lately.  But now that we know who Kylie is and an approximate time to go get her, I have got to get started finding creative ways to actually GET to China.

Right now, I don't have a lot of bright ideas.  I've thought about bringing back the iPad raffle, but now so many people have them, I'm not sure it would be a great thing.  I'm part of a yahoo group on fundraising so I've got some ideas in the works, but for now, I just want to remind you...

I HAVE T-SHIRTS.  I have a LOT of t-shirts.  If I could sell all 150 (give or take a few for those of you that have already bought one), that would get me to China and back.  The problem is that I need to get my sister in law and potentially Jenna there and back.  And have a place to stay.  And eat.  And...and...and...

Suffice it to say, we have a long way to go to get there (literally and figuratively).  But YOU can help us start by buying a t-shirt.  And then telling 10 friends they need to buy a t-shirt too.  If only 15 of you told 10 friends to buy a shirt, that would be ALL my shirts.  Will you do it?  Will you help us bring our Kylie home?  We've made it easy.  You can pay with Paypal or if you are local, you can give us check or cash.

God has brought us here and He'll provide...and you can be part of that!


Adoption Update

A week ago, I had a call with my agency regarding next steps and where we are.  Basically it looks like 5-6 months before we travel.  Now that we have pre-approval, we are waiting on the LOA and that has been taking way longer than it used to.  I think 70-90 days is what it's at now. 

We'll start preparing paperwork now for the next step so when we get the LOA, it'll be all ready to go out the door immediately. 

We also got updated pictures on our little girl.
These appear to have been taken just a few weeks ago, so in them she should be about 6 months old (whereas the ones from our referral packet were at 4 months).
We received a few updated measurements which tell us she appears to be growing even though she is still tiny...
We are putting together a care package to send her at the orphanage and in it we'll ask her nannies for an update and any information about potential surgery on her lip. 

Right now and until we go get her, it will be a waiting game.  And it will be the hardest part of the process, but we are up for the challenge!



Last weekend, I finally got around to doing what I have been meaning to for a while. 
This is my scrapbooking area.  When I don't use it for a while, the stuff starts to pile up.  Jenna has a craft table next to mine and she's bad about not putting up stuff when she uses it.  So, I recruited her to help organize.  I went out and bought a label maker to label all the containers we have.  I was just tired of the mess.  After several hours, here's the "after" photo...

It looks way better.  I can actually walk through the bonus room now instead of climbing over stuff.  And I could totally get into the label making thing!  I had the urge to even label my chair and my desk etc!  But I refrained. 

You are welcome.


Job Update

So many of you have asked about Steve's job and how it's going.  We aren't really making public the company he's going to be working for yet.  For a while, he'll be on payroll at the placement agency and then hopefully he'll move over to the company payroll.  It's a large company and so we are hoping this will work out.

He was due to start Monday, the 15th, but the security clearance and drug test results weren't complete, not just on Steve but on all the other people starting at the same time.  Right now, the start date is Monday the 22nd.

For 2 weeks, he'll be in training, working 7-4 Monday through Friday.  But then, they'll put him on some random schedule and it could be nights or weekends or both.  We are both very nervous about this.  But we obviously aren't in a position to turn the job down or cause any ripples with the new company by being irritable about his schedule.  We know God brought us to this point and He will work this out.  Maybe not the way we think is best, but the way He KNOWS is best.  We have already decided to trust Him in this and whatever happens we'll deal with.  But again, just something for you all to be praying with us on. 


More Pictures and Info

We received a few more pictures of our girl with her referral along with some information that I'll share, but I didn't add them yesterday because what about that beautiful announcement??? 

That sweet thing was created in less than 24 hours by Anna & Co.  Anna is a personal friend of mine and you will NOT meet a more Godly wife and mother than Anna.  Anna and I have worked together for a while now and I've started following her blog.

This girl has got it GOING ON with the creativity.  She made our announcement in literally hours and I've already hired her to do our announcements once Kylie is home.  She also does some photography on the side.  I could tell you all day what she does, but why don't you just look for yourself?  All you APs out there (adoptive parents), wouldn't you like to introduce your miracle for the first time with something like this...

Yeah me too!  But maybe you aren't yet ready for Baby Announcements.  Maybe you are just getting married.  She's got a little something for that too...

Or maybe you are past weddings and raising children.  Well, guess what...

And yes, she can do an electronic announcement for your blog if you want her to.  Anna is multi-talented.  So, do me a favor, and click on over, follow her blog and give her a little business.  You'll be glad you did.

Now, for those of you who read through that, the reward awaits...more pictures of our sweet Kylie.

Kylie was (at 4 months old):  22 inches long and weighed 12 lbs.  She is small for her age, but that is expected with her being in an orphanage and given her cleft.  She has a "regular" life...up at 6am, naps from 11:30-2:00pm with bedtime being at 8pm.  She eats once at midnight and then not again until 4am.  Of  course, that will hopefully have changed by the time we travel to get her.  This is what her sweet caretakers say of her:

"Lian Yingbei is beautiful and smart, concentrated in attention when exchanging with other people.  She likes toys with bright colors.  She likes to listen to music.  She gets along well with other children.  She will stop crying when teased or cuddled."

The paperwork describes her as "quiet", "fond of playing with toys" and "having a ready smile".

Be still my heart.



We got our PA (pre-approval) today!  And that means the China adoption authority has tentatively approved us to adopt Lian Yingbei.  Now, they will begin to really review our dossier in depth and we will wait for the LOA (letter of acceptance)!

So, without further ado...

Her middle name will be pronounced 'Leigh Ann' (shout out to LAS and LAM!).  Her surname (or last name) is Lian (from the city in which she was found).  But Lian is just part of the city name and doesn't really mean anything.  It'd be like naming your kid Nash (from Nashville).  But we liked the way Lian sounded with Kylie.  I found the greatest website about baby names and meanings.  I typed in Lian to see what I could find and that's when we happened upon Liann.   And we knew we'd found it.

Liann in Hebrew means "God has answered".

Indeed He has.

My 4th Grader!

Jenna's first full day of school was yesterday.  My little girl is a 4th grader now!  I can't believe it.  It seems like just yesterday I was dropping her off at the daycare at 11 weeks old!

We were in search of the perfect backpack and made the mistake of going to the mall the Friday night of tax-free weekend.  It was crazy and in the end, we couldn't find the backpack.  That night, we went to dinner and while waiting for our food, I ordered the backpack AND matching lunchbox online.

And to kick off the year, I treated Jenna to breakfast at her (and my) favorite breakfast place.
We both love getting breakfast here and our favorite order is a cinnamon crunch bagel, toasted with honey walnut cream cheese.  It was delicious (I've noticed many of my posts surround food...hmmmm...)
I think it's going to be a great year.  Her teacher is nice and teaches math which is her best subject along with reading.  This year she'll switch classes with everyone from her home room.  It's going to be an interesting year.  We are still praying about Jenna traveling to China.  2 weeks out of 4th grade is a lot.  But traveling to a foreign country to pick up your little sister in an orphanage is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Pray with us on that...


County Fair

Every year, we have an annual tradition with the Millsaps of going to the local county fair.  We always try to wait until the last weekend to go hoping the crowds will be gone and in the evening it would be cooler.  It usually works out really well and this year was no exception.
First, we usually let the kids ride some rides.

The adults normally don't ride the rides.  First, it's expensive to buy those tickets, but also because the rides aren't the reason why the adults go.  THIS is why the big people go...

But more specifically THIS is why I go.  You just can't beat fair food.  I look forward to this every year.

That sweet tea is delicious.  It's $3 for that huge cup and then just another $1 to fill it up.  I don't sleep for hours once I drink it.  I never eat corn dogs.  NEVER.  Except at the fair.  I tried those french fries...cheesy bacon ranch fries but they weren't all that great.  I think there was TOO much on there.  I'd liked them better without the ranch or the cheese, but not both.  And then there is the deep fried Twinkie.  There are many more yummy goodies that are deep fried.  Snickers, Oreos, Twinkies...oh yeah.  I only had the Twinkie this time.  Rachel and family took part in the Snickers and Oreos.

After a long time to sit, we convinced the girl to do a few slower rides so they didn't lose all their dinner.

After exploring the rest of the midway, we headed back up to use the rest of our tickets.  While the girls were riding, the fireworks started.  I've never been there when they did them and I'll have to say, they were very good.

The weather was perfect, the crowds were slight (that is until we tried to leave and then we found where they all were!) and the food was as yummy as ever!  It was another great year and I can't wait until next year when Rachel and I can take our newest additions with us!


My Other New Love: IKEA

I've been waiting to post for a couple reasons...first of all, after the whirlwind week we had last week, there's really not much to say.  I was hoping to be able to announce we got Pre-Approval (PA) and show you all my sweet baby girl's face.  I realize I've only known her a week but I am already falling in love with her.  The other day, her picture popped up on my screensaver at work and the unexpectedness of it stopped me in my tracks.  Anyway, hopefully it will be here soon and I can share her sweet face!

In the meantime, I thought I'd show you what we bought at IKEA because I love them so much...remember these???

Oh yes we did.  We bought these lovelies.

The set at IKEA in the first picture was 5 units.  We only bought 4.  The first picture shows 3 of them on the far bonus room wall.  At first I didn't think we'd have enough books to fill them, but boy did we!  The 4th one holds ALL of my scrapbooks!  I'd show you my scrapbook desk but right now it is a HUGE mess.  I have always wanted shelves like these, but thought I'd have to have them custom made.  I love these.  LOVE them.  LOVE.  And now that I have a real place to put my scrapbooks with some room to grow.  Jenna has a craft table and I have my scrapbook area and we are trying to figure out how to rearrange to give us more room.  Jenna and I are almost never up there together...heck, I rarely scrapbook at home anymore...so maybe we can get rid of her desk.  We have a desk with the desktop on it and a printer, my scrapbook desk with a scanner and printer and then Jenna's desk with a printer.  We have contemplated getting rid of the desktop and desk because we always used our laptops.  But it is still chugging along, so not sure we are ready to say goodbye yet.  At any rate, the bonus room and Kylie's room is a mess right now because that is how it goes when you are trying to organize.

So that's about all I have to say.  We registered Jenna yesterday for 4th grade.  She has her first 1/2 day today, so later we'll have some pics to share of that.  And we have some fun plans for the weekend so maybe between those things, I'll have a few more posts next week!


Atlanta-day 3!

Wow.  It's not even been two weeks but I feel like after everything that has transpired our trip to Atlanta happened eons ago!  But, nevertheless, I wanted to finish up telling about our trip.

Saturday, we woke up early to meet Nicole and her family at the Atlanta Zoo.  We were trying to beat the crowds and the heat.  Overall, the zoo was a good one, but it was super hot even though it was early.

Nicole packed an absolutely FABULOUS picnic lunch and we at right there in the zoo.  We left after Jenna and Paige rode the carousel about 3 times.
Jenna was dying to go swimming and Nicole frequents a pool with a hi-dive, which Jenna had never experienced.  Nicole offered to take the girls swimming at the pool while Steve and I took our first trip to Ikea.  I thought that sounded like a great idea, so away we went.

Ikea.  Holy. Cow.  I fell in immediate love.  This was one of the first things we found that we both loved instantly.
I have always wanted built in bookshelves.  But we kept walking.  We picked up two new lamps for our bedside tables which turned out to be marvelous.  We bought Jenna some new stuff for her bathroom.

And then we went back and bought the bookshelves.  :)  And I'm in love with them.  And Ikea.

It started raining while we were in Ikea, so the girls' swimming trip got cut short.  We met up and picked Jenna up and said our final goodbyes and headed off to the hotel to rest and clean up.

It was a challenge to find a restaurant we could eat at that wouldn't put us in the poorhouse, but we finally found Champps and it was YUM-O.
After dinner, it was back to the hotel.  I took Jenna swimming at the pool for a while and then got to bed.  It was our last night in Atlanta.  :(


How Do I Say Thanks?

This is a question I've thought about since Thursday.  If you've read my posts since then, you'll know there has been a lot of blessings in our family this week.

I was on my way to work Friday morning, trying to get there early so I could get caught up on things that needed to be done.  I figured I would use the commute to just thank God for everything that had transpired in the last 24-48 hours. 

But I couldn't do it.

I will try and explain why, but first, let me give you a quick snapshot... Steve got an interview (out of the blue), we learned we had gotten a new LID without any trouble, we got a referral, there is no way-outside a miracle-we should have gotten Kylie when we did, she's perfectly healthy except her cleft, Steve GOT a job...and this was JUST in 24 hours.  Not to mention how many times the Lord has provided financially for us over the past 2 years.  Over and over and over again.  I could fill an entire BOOK with the times He has provided for all our needs and sometimes even our wants.

And when I took time to stop and really say thanks, I just couldn't do it.  Because "thanks" just didn't cut it.  To say we were overwhelmed at the blessings is an understatement.  I quoted in an earlier post Malachi 3:10 and that's how I felt.  I felt like God had literally thrown open the heavens and just poured out the best blessings ever on us.  And simply saying thanks just wasn't enough.

So I did what I do when I really want to communicate with God.  I popped in my worship CD.  This is a CD Rachel made for those of us who went to Louisville's Deeper Still conference.  There's nothing special about it.  They are songs I have on my own iPod.  But they are all the girls' favorites.  And put together, they are just what I needed.

I cranked the music up loud and just worshipped my heart out.  I raised my hands (ok just one at time since I was driving!) and I wept over God's grace in my life.  It was a holy time there in my van.  When I couldn't put my gratefulness into words, the music helped me express myself.

In answer to the original question, "how do I say thanks?"  I can't.  I can only worship.  And give Him the glory for everything...even for 2 years of unemployment, the pain of thinking we wouldn't have Kylie for another 18 months, the loss of several family members I loved dearly...ALL of it.


FAQs On All our Big News

I'm getting a ton of questions about our phone call, Kylie, Steve's job etc. so I thought I'd do a big ole post today to try and answer them.  If you have a question I didn't answer here, just leave it in the comments or email me and I'll answer.  Maybe.  I know so many of you FB'd, texted, emailed and RQ PM'd me and if I haven't answered I'm sorry.  I have told the story to a hundred people who I know from real life to my internet pals and I am dead serious when I say I cannot remember who I have told what.  Those that know me know I'm an open book so any question goes.  So, here we go...

1.  When do you go get Kylie?  Well, not anytime soon unfortunately.  Now that we know WHO she is, we have a LOT of paperwork to do.  If you are curious about the steps from here on out, hop over to my RQ friend Courtney's website.  She explains it all.  I'll be explaining it here as we go, but if you are curious ahead of time.  The answer to the question is we don't really know.  We'd be lucky to travel before year end and at that, it would be RIGHT at the end of December.  I'm guessing more likely January/February timeframe.  As we progress through the paperwork, we'll know better.  But the paperwork involved not just us, but the US Government, Chinese Government etc., so we are waiting on lots of things out of our control.

2.  You are always referencing RQ.  What does that stand for?  When I reference RQ, I'm speaking of some posting boards I frequent for those adopting (or have adopted) a Special Needs child from China.  It stands for Rumor Queen and I have many dear friends over there.  When I was going through IVF, I found a posting board for that too and made friends (shout out to the Mamas!!!) there who I actually traveled to meet IRL and STILL keep up with!  If you are going through anything in your life, there is a chat board for support and I'd encourage you to seek it out.  These women are FULL of wisdom about the process and I have made GOOD friends from there.  They encouraged me to change agencies, told me names of great agencies to check out (including Lifeline) and the board lit up with congratulations when I announced we'd been matched.  So when I mention RQ or my RQ-ers, now you know.  SHOUT OUT TO MY RQ FRIENDS!!!

3.  What IS the next step?  After we decided we would accept this referral, we have to send in a "Letter of Intent" or LOI saying it is our intent to adopt this child.  We had less than 48 hours to do so before her file would be unlocked and released back to the adoption world to grab.  This is why we had a pediatrician specialized in international adoption ON CALL.  If you are adopting or thinking about it, I can't stress this enough.  It's NOT just for kids with special needs.  We are using Vanderbilt's International Adoption Clinic.  Anyway, once we decided to accept her, we filled out a bunch of paperwork and sent it to our agency.  They then forward it to the CCCWA which is the agency in China which governs adoptions.  They will review the LOI and issue a Pre-Approval or PA.  So the PA is what we are waiting on now.  It could take up to 2 weeks to receive it, but many times it comes quicker.  We have to get it before we can move on.

4.  Could you have refused to accept this referral?  Yes, we sure could have and people do it every day.  They might find something in the medicals that they just aren't prepared to deal with.  The agencies try very hard to get the child for you the first time, but sometimes there are things out of their control or that only a trained medical eye could pick up.  Those of us in this community do NOT think badly of any parent who refuses a referral.  It's the worst situation to be in and it was the fear of that which kept my feet on the ground until we heard back from our doctor.  And refusing a referral doesn't bar you from getting another.  Agencies WANT you to get the right child for your family.  This answer relates only to special needs adoptions in China.  I don't know what the "rules" are for other countries.

5.  What IS the referral?  What does it consist of?  The referral is when your agency thinks they have found a child to match what you are open to accepting.  When you do your homestudy, you have to tell them the age, gender, special need (for this program) that you are willing to accept.  When we got the referral, we received 5 photos of her, her Chinese medical record and then an English translation.  They all came via email.  Part of the English medical record is a narrative about where she was found, what they think her age is, what she enjoys, how she's developing etc.  So even though we hadn't yet spoken to our MD yet, pretty quickly after reviewing that part ourselves, we knew

6.  What will you call her?  Her first name will be Kylie and that was decided on a while back.  The middle name has been decided on, but we are going to wait and announce that publicly when we are able to show her picture on the blog.  I will tell you, it will be part of her Chinese given name with a twist.

7.  When can you post pictures?  Ah yes, I get this question a lot and I don't blame y'all.  I cannot post her picture publicly until I have our PA.  As soon as we get that, we'll post her pictures and her name here.  I did post them to FB because that is not a public place where just anyone can see.  I can also email them, but please don't forward them etc.

8.  Who named her?  When she was found in China, the orphanage she is at named her.  You can see her name meaning on a previous blog, but I removed her Chinese name until PA.  I'll put it back then.

9.  Where is her orphanage?  Jiangsu Province.  You can read more about that area here.

10.  How do you know how old she REALLY is?  We do know a note was left with her, so perhaps it said when her birthdate is.  There were physical signs she was a brand new-born.  If you want to know what those signs were, email me, but I don't feel comfortable posting them here.

11.  What about her cleft lip and palate?  It's likely her cleft lip will be repaired in China before we go get her.  If so, we'll be notified (I think) and we'll post here about it (we would hopefully get updated photos).  Her palate is unlikely to be repaired there, though it is possible.  So, we'll schedule that when we return home with her.  No, it will not be fun and it will require ENTs, Plastic Surgeons etc., but we are prepared and will have a great team of doctors on standby when we return.  Some of you have asked what the "palate" is.  The palate is basically the roof of your mouth.  This is a great website to read about CLCP.  There are ton of others so just Google it if you want to know more.

12.  Who's going with you to China and how long will you be there?  Steve can't travel with Katie to China for a variety of reasons.  Plus, with the new job, he'll want to save his time off for when we return.  Steve's sister, Deanne is going to go with me to China.  Jenna would love to go and I would love for her to go.  It just depends on her school schedule and when we travel.  4th grade is a tough year and missing 2 weeks of school could be a bad decision.  If we happened to travel during or through some part of Christmas break, that would be FABULOUS (though Deanne would probably not love it!  :) ) and she would DEFINITELY go.  Otherwise, we are just going to pray about it and talk to the teachers etc.  And we'll be there from 10-14 days. 

13.  Is there anything else wrong with her?  NO!  At least not from what we have been given in the medical records which are only about 2 months old.  Developmentally, she's right on target with her age.  Physically she's a little small, but considering her challenges with eating and her being in an orphanage where she doesn't always get one on one attention, this is not at all surprising or cause for concern.  The lab work results we were provided were reviewed by our MD and all look fine considering.  We'll know for sure when she's home and they can do a thorough examination, but as of now, she's perfect.

14. Will you need baby stuff? Um yes.  And believe it or not, I've already had a sweet friend (shout out to Jill!) ask me that!  We really didn't anticipate having such a little one.  We have SOME clothes but not anything that small.  I got rid of ALL of our baby stuff years ago when it became clear to me we weren't having any more children (and God laughed!).  So I ask you locals to keep your eyes open for the big stuff like high chairs and car seats.  Consigned/Used is fine.

Well, I think that's enough for now.  I hope you enjoy...I know it was long.  Now I have to get up off this couch and get started on my to-do list!  Jenna is still sleeping, so I'm gonna try to get the kitchen clean before she gets up!  Happy Saturday!


They Say Good Things Come in Threes

I figured I better not make everyone wait for days to hear the story of our exciting 24 hours.  So here we go...(btw, it's gonna be a long one, but it's OH so worth it!)

On Monday of this week, I emailed my contact at Lifeline to find out what the status was of my dossier.  The last I heard, they had it and were waiting on a form to be signed by my social worker so they could get the dossier back to the CCCWA (which is the China authority overseeing all things adoption).  I knew the form had been signed and sent, but had not gotten an update.  And since we were gone to Atlanta all last weekend, I didn't really think about it.

Unfortunately, my main contact was out of the office all week so I received an immediate Out Of Office reply.  On Wednesday, I decided to email my secondary contact just to see if she happened to know an update.  She responded and said that yes, my dossier was back with the CCCWA and they were just waiting on my new Log In Date (LID) which they were expecting "any day now".  I was pleasantly surprised as I had hoped that would be the answer, but feared the transfer had delayed everything.  I responded back with my excitement and surprise and asked her had the CCCWA had any issues with the transfer.  It was late in the day and I didn't get a response.

On my way home that afternoon, I was talking to another Mom from school when Steve beeped in on my other line.  When I answered his words were, "I have an interview tomorrow!"  WHAT!?  He had contacted this recruiter way back at the beginning of July multiple times and had gotten no response.  Finally, he got over it, realizing he wasn't going to get a return call and just moved on.  But finally the guy called, says they are about to hire another group of folks and wants to see him.  I was stunned.  But not nearly as much as I would be later in the evening.

When I finally got home, we choked down dinner because Steve had praise band practice about 30 minutes away at the campus of our main church and had to pick his co-band member up before going and Jenna and I had plans at the grocery store.  Soon after Steve left, Jenna and I went to the grocery.  It was probably 7:15 by the time we got there and because the store was pretty much empty and I had no one to go home to, we took our time.  By the time I got the groceries, checked out, loaded them in, drove home, loaded them out and put them away, it was 9:30.  And I was HOT (it was 99 degrees at 7:15 when we got to the store).  So I decided to run up and shower real quick.

When I got done with my shower, Steve called to say he was on his way home, but had to drop his friend off first.  I sat down on the couch with my hair in a towel and my PJs on with the intent of reading my blogs.  I had just logged onto Facebook when Jenna hollers from the kitchen, "Your blackberry is buzzing!"  My blackberry is for my work, so I normally don't check it at night unless I'm waiting for an email or have a special reason to.  But since Jenna knows how to work my blackberry, so pulled it out and brought it to me.  It was 9:47pm and I had an email from my agency at 9:37 asking me to call her at home.

You might think that would be the first indication that good news was coming, but that's one of the many great things about this agency.  The social workers work in the evenings from home many times because that's the daylight hours in China and I've talked to both of them before in the evening.  I called her and we chatted for a while about it being late and how we were both up.  I was expecting her to give me an update on my dossier and how much long it would be before we got our LID.  We were really hoping to get logged back in so that we could be eligible to be matched from the August shared list which is expected to come out late this month.

Instead, she said, "The reason I'm calling is because we have a referral for you to review."  WHAT?!  That was the last thing in the world I expected to hear!  She told me a little bit about this baby girl and said she would send me the file.  And she said, "Oh, and we got your LID, it's today!"  LOL!!!

I got off the phone and immediately called Steve who was still in transit.  He was trying to chit chat with me and I was like, "Um, how close are you?" and he said he was about 10 minutes away.  I told him our agency called and we got our LID and he was excited.  And then I said, "And we also have a referral so GET HOME NOW!"  He was totally stunned and said he would be home right away!

I then texted Katelyn (who you met earlier this week) and called Rachel.  Rachel was freaking out and wondered why I wasn't yet freaking out.  Well, I had stuff to do.  Remember, I was in my PJs with my wet hair up in a towel.  So I ran upstairs, put my hair up in a clip and put my clothes back on.  Why would I do that?  Because I'm a scrapbooker.  And I wanted to get a picture of us seeing her face for the first time.  I also set up my camera on a tripod and got the remote ready.  All while NOT opening the file and waiting on Steve to get home.

Finally he gets home and all three of us sat down to see...who our sweet Kylie was...
Unfortunately, I can't show her picture here until we get pre-approval from China.  But I can email and I can show you in person.  We did have a doctor review her medical file and except for her cleft lip and palate, she's perfect.  We sent in our LOI (letter of intent) yesterday.

What we know about this baby:

Name:  I've removed this part since we don't have authorization to post it yet...   Her surname is part of the name of the city where she was found.  The rest of her name means "welcome" and "baby".  We will most likely use part of her given Chinese name with her American name. 

She was found on January 31, 2011 at the door of a restaurant.  Based off of her appearance, they deduced her birthday was January 30, 2011.

Developmentally, she is on target from what we can see though of course, she is a little bit small, which is not usual in these cases.  Her records describe her as "beautiful and smart..likes toys with bright colors.  Likes to listen to music." 

And then if you read the post below, you know Steve's interview went well and he got a job!  That has certainly been a long time coming!

I know there are tons of questions about when we will pick up sweet Kylie and probably even about her cleft lip/palate.  I'll answer those in a separate email.  Until then...let's remember Who is responsible for all the good news in my family and with my friend Darlene...I'm overwhelmed with God's goodness and patience.

So if you are a praying person.  Please thank God today on our behalf.  He deserves ALL the praise for what has happened!

My Cup Overflows

Y'all that know the meaning behind today's title are gonna kill me that there aren't any pictures or more details here, but I'm actually writing this post on Thursday night and setting it to publish in the morning.  As you'll see, I didn't sleep well last night, so I'm tired and just want to get in bed.

We have had a BIG BLESSING kind of day!  First of all, Steve calls me on the way home last night and tells me that he has an interview today at 11:00.  We never get our hopes up because we've been there, done that and it's just not fun coming down.

Last night, Steve went to church praise band practice and Jenna and I ran to the grocery store.  When I got back, I checked my blackberry only to find an email from Lifeline (my NEW agency) saying to call them.  Not unusual since several of them work from home in the evenings to wrap up loose ends etc.  I called and my coordinator and I chit chatted for a while.  I'm thinking she's going to tell me there is a problem getting my dossier logged back in.  Her next words stunned me:

"I'm calling because I have a referral for you to review."


"Oh, and by the way, we got your log in date.  It's today."


To shorten the story while I can still form sentences...Kylie now has a face.  She was born on January 30, 2011 so she's a little one.  She has cleft lip and palate.  We submitted our LOI (Letter of Intent) today to adopt her and so she is officially ours (in our mind!).    Until we have pre-approval, we can't post her pic in a public place like this blog, but I can email it and as soon as we get that pre-approval, I'll post it

Oh, and if tht wasn't enough excitement, Steve's interview went well.  Exceptionally well.  HE GOT THE JOB!  He starts training on the 15th of this month.  Can I get an AMEN!?  Yes, thank you.  Very excited!

Finally, to finish out a trio of fabulous news...my friend Darlene got the results of her recent PET scan which was to tell her whether the cancer has spread anywhere other than her breast and PRAISE GOD IT HASN'T!  After all my personal good news, reading hers brought me to tears.

After all this news yesterday, this is the scripture that keeps coming to mind:

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10

God totally showed off yesterday.  I just love it when that happens.

OK, more information to come.  I promise!


We interrupt our regularly scheduled program...

Today I thought I'd mix things up and introduce you to who I affectiontely refer to as my "work BFF", Katelyn.  Katelyn came to work in my department a few years ago fresh out of college.  I would have never thought this this young whippersnapper (could I make myself sound any more like a SENIOR CITIZEN?!) and I would have enough in common to be able to work together, much less be friends.  But you know, despite our differences, she has become one of my best friends.  She was the very first person to know we were adopting and she got a front row seat for the craziness that surrounded that decision (and still does). I love this girl even when we are getting on each others' nerves and there are many young people who could learn a LOT about making their way in the world from her. 

So, here she is...Katelyn B...

Hello “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” readers! This is my very first guest blog post! I’m Katelyn, blogger at “On Repeat” and Sandra’s work friend. Sandra originally introduced me to blogging – and Google Reader – so I have a lot to thank her for {and a lot of time wasted because of her!}. Here’s my take on the faqs she sent me:

Hometown: Rittman, Ohio. If you know where that is, holler at me! It is an incredibly small town in the Midwest. Picture it: everyone knows everyone and their business. I knew I wanted to get to a big(ger) city for school, so I escaped to Ohio University, in Athens. {We’re the number 1 party school in the country, not to be confused with that other school in Ohio where they cheat at sports J} Then, I knew that wasn’t big enough and made my way to the South immediately after graduation.

Current Home: Nashville! Specifically Sylvan Park. West Side represent. I love my neighborhood.

Meaning Behind Blog Name: I am a creature of habit. When I love something I LOVE it. So, I tend to “repeat” a lot of my favorite things. Same thing for lunch every day, throw my fav songs “on repeat”, etc. You get the drift. I think of my blog tagline as “If it’s good, play it again”.

Current Job: Communications Coordinator. I went to school for Public Relations, but have a love for interviews, design and the benefits of working for a well-respected company, which sums up what I do now. I like my job.

Dream Job: I don’t know! I’m in that quarter-life-crisis stage where I’m thinking a lot about my future, but not making any decisions. I’ll report back when I figure it out.

If I could travel Anywhere: Israel. I spent time in Egypt in 2009, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’d love to go back to the Middle East. Or Mexico. I enjoy the language, food, drink and laid back attitude of our friends below the border. Arriba!

Something Unique about You: I’m a vegetarian! I have been super pro-animal all my life. {Like, having to leave the classroom in 5th grade when Mrs. Berry was showing a movie that involved a wolf fight. I should have known then.} I gave up all meat 8 months ago after reading, “Eating Animals”. I don’t know if I will be strictly veg-only forever, but for now it’s a choice I feel good about. You’ll have to ask my boyfriend how he feels about it! Ha!

Thanks for having me, Sandra! It was super fun, and I’m glad my first guest blog could be here!

And that's Katelyn!  I'd encourage you to hop over to her blog.  It's witty and very Katelyn.  Please be advised that I totally plagiarized these questions for KB from another blog.  :)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program....


Atlanta-day 2!

Friday morning, we woke up about 8am (sleeping in for me!), went down for our first yummy breaksfast at the hotel and then headed out for our next 2 adventures.  The plan was to visit the Atlanta aquarium as soon as it opened to hopefully avoid the crowds.  Then later we were going to visit the CNN studios in Atlanta.  Well, we decided the aquarium would probably be more crowded when it first opened, so we parked there and walked the few blocks to CNN.  The weather was nice so it was a good walk.
We didn't spend much time in it, but Olympic Park is right across the street.  I wish we'd worked in time to go there.  Later we saw a little splash park, but it was completely full by that time, so this is all we got...
I didn't think we'd really enjoy CNN too much and considered not even doing it.  Boy, would that have been a mistake!  It was an awesome tour!

On our way back to the aquarium, Nicole called and invited us to lunch.  We've worked together for at least 2 years, maybe more, but I haven't yet met everyone.  I didn't think quick enough to get pictures of my friends, Vicky, Mary Ann, Amy and Teri, but I did get to see Nicole's office and the view from the 15th floor of their building where they are.
We ate at a place called Taco Mac, which of course I didn't get a picture of either.  But it was quite the enjoyable lunch and after, we headed back to the aquarium.  By this time, it was 2pm or so and I figured it would be lots less crowded.  Um. No.  It was so crowded we ended up leaving before we saw everything, but what we saw was pretty cool.

Jenna got to have a caricature drawn of her.  I don't have a picture of it yet, but I'll try and post one shortly.
Once we left the aquarium, we did the thing we had come for...
That little store was packed, but we managed to buy some serious goodies.  Jenna had saved for 6 months for this trip and she basically blew the whole wad there.  But it was her money and she worked hard and enjoyed every minute of it.
And then here's Julie post-shopping trip, prior to dinner...I think she looks pretty stinkin' cute.
We went to dinner at Vinny's which was very good, but very expensive.  It was a late dinner and by the time we got back to the hotel, we were exhausted.  Jenna took a bath while I exercised and by the time I returned to the room, Jenna and Steve were both asleep, but not before taking part in the milk and cookies provided for Jenna and Julie (her AG doll).
And we tried to get some sleep before our last full day in Atlanta.