Just wanted to say Happy Halloween to all my readers!  (all 3 of you!)  I'll be back later with pictures of Jenna in her costume and our Halloween night adventures!

I can't help but think this will be our last Halloween as a family of 3.  :)


Carving Pumpkins

Last weekend we set aside for carving pumpkins.  We used to carve them earlier, but then they'd rot before Halloween, so we've gotten smarter over the years.

Steve is always the one who has to start the fun cutting out the top and then Jenna gets to clean out the "guts".

A few years ago, before it was all the rage, we did the special carvings and they turned out fine.  Then for a few years, I got lazy and just did the standard pumpkin face.  This year, we met in the middle and did a carving, but we did a couple that were relatively easy.

This is me doing MINE...
Jenna took a few pictures of us.  It's nice that she is getting to the age where she's interested because Steve and I rarely are in pictures together.
And here's my final product.  Can you tell what it is?  Lie to me and say yes even if you can't!!!
And then Jenna picked one and Steve helped carve it while I cleaned pumpkin seeds from pumpkin guts.
The last few years I have started using the pumpkin seeds.  I wash them, the salt and roast them.  I never really loved roasted pumpkin seeds before, but both Jenna and I have taken to them every Halloween.
I ended up taking them to LifeGroup after they were done and they were gobbled up like hotcakes!  Who knew so many people loved roasted pumpkin seeds!!!???


Fundraising...Poll Results

The results are in...

Most of you would like to see me do another iPad raffle.  Whether we can take that leap (does anyone want to DONATE the iPad???), is yet to be decided, but I really wanted to take a moment to tell you,

THANKS!!!!  for voting!  Whatever we decide, I'm grateful for friends who will support our efforts.  I'm excited to see what God will do and how He will show up.


Welcome to Flashback Friday!

Over at my friend Katelyn's blog, she's started Flashback Friday.  I thought I'd give it a try...not sure how many Fridays I can come up with something to flash back to, but we'll see.  Hers are a little different than mine, but you'll get the idea...

Katelyn is young so she probably has no idea what these are.  But I bet many of my readers do.  Remember them?  Before the days of the CD and iTunes?

CASSINGLES (or AKA cassette singles)!!!!  And look at those titles...some of my favorites:

"Do me"-OH. MY. WORD.  Just goes to show you I never actually listened to the words of most of what I listened to.  I would have a COW if I heard a song like this on Jenna's iPod.

"All This Time"- Tiffany.  Ah, Tiffany.  I did love this song!

"Just a Friend" - Biz Markie.  This one brings back memories.  My family didn't have cable.  I got cable when Steve and I married.  But I could find one channel in between the others...fuzzy, lots of snow but I could make out this video on some video knockoff channel.  Good times.

"I've Been Waiting For You" by the Guys Next Door.  Does ANYONE remember them?  I know my friend Staci does.  :) 

Oh yes, I can tell I'm gonna like Flashback Fridays!!!


Halloween Decor

It's beginning to look a lot like...HALLOWEEN!

Jenna came home from the grocery store with these window clings...
Right now, it's slim pickins at our house where it concerns Halloween decor, but we sure have had fun making edible decorations!

What can you make with the following:
Isn't it obvious?  You make a graveyard cake!
Mine doesn't look quite like the original which can be found here, because I ran out of whip cream before I could make the ghost.  I took this to our Lifegroup on Sunday night and brought home a clean dish.  Must've been good!!! :)

Also, it's time to start seeing this round our house...

Let's hope it lasts until Monday night!!!


Mansker's Station

Right before fall break, Jenna's class went on another field trip.  This one was to Mansker's Station.  It was a great thing to do before the start to fall break!  I was not able to go on this trip, but Jenna has proved responsible with my point and shoot, so I let her take it to document her trip.

When I say responsible, I mean she didn't lose the camera, not necessarily that she took pictures appropriate for the trip!  Oh I jest...here are some...

In Jenna's words, this is the fireplace in the fort at Mansker's Station.

This is the blacksmith station...where they'd put the iron in and get it really hot.
Toting water...all the kids got to try this.  Jenna claims it wasn't heavy, but I bet after a few times, it would start gettin realllllly old.

Jenna is really starting to turn into a budding photographer.  She's proving she can get some decent shots even when I'm not around.  I'm very proud of her!


Local Fall Festival

A friend of ours from church owned a wholesale tree nursery in our little town.  Several years ago, he opened the retail area and it's where we got most of our leaves for Jenna's leaf project as well as our pumpkins.  This past weekend, Riverbend Nurseries had it's fall festival.  It's the first year we've been to it and we went with our neighbors Sean and Bridget.  Their son was also adopted from China. 

A little aside was when the house across the street from ours went up for sale, I joked to some friends that I was praying for a family to move in that had an adopted daughter from China.  The family who moved in has two daughters, but they aren't adopted from China!  However, through the wonderful internet world, I found Bridget who lived literally a house down from us on the opposite side of the street.  We love spending time with them and they are waiting to travel to China for their second son.  She's just a tiny bit behind us in paperwork and the way this crazy journey goes, it could be that we travel together.  We had dinner together Friday night and decided to go to Riverbend together.

Riverbend was fun.  There was lots to do and the weather was perfect.

Petting Zoo

Corn Maze

There was pumpkin painting, games, a hayride, a bounce house...lots of fun things.  And the company was great too!  It was a wonderful day topped off with a first birthday party of a sweet baby girl I have had the pleasure of keeping in my nursery on Sunday mornings since she was first born. Not only that, but I had her sister since she was little as well. I've spoken of their mom, Elizabeth, on my blog before, but here they whole family is...
I love this family.  They are the most wonderful Christian family and I admire their parenting skills.  A little trivia about my friend Elizabeth...she was the iPad winner last year!  A lot of families were at the birthday party and someone snapped this photograph of the moms...

Oh my, how I love these girls. And not just one of them.  ALL OF THEM.  ALOT!  From left to right, that's Jill (the mom of my smiley girl, MB), Lindsay (the most patient mom of 2 precious girls, soon to welcome a SON!), Elizabeth #1 (whose youngest was the catalyst for Jenna to start wanting a brother, he's SO sweet!), me, and then Elizabeth #2 (mom of the birthday girl).  I absolutely love these women of God AND their kids.  I'm so blessed.

It was the end to a perfect, beautiful day!

(Pictures used by permission)


The Coolest T-shirt Ever!

5 reasons you need one of our adoption t-shirts:

5.  Because let's be honest, you can NEVER have enough t-shirts.
4.  It's a great conversations starter when someone asks you about it.
3.  They are going to make GREAT Christmas gifts for teachers, family and friends.
2.  They are a great color which goes with anything and both guys and girls look good in them.

And the top reason you should buy one of our adoption t-shirts?

1. Because you can say you had a part in bringing a beautiful baby girl home to her family.  You can be part of OUR blessing.

Back of shirt

I've disabled my Paypal as a way of paying because by the time Paypal takes their portion and I pay to ship shirts out, I've lost nearly all of my profit.  If you are local, shirts are $20 and you can pay me by cash or check.  I'll of course deliver your shirt to you.  If you are not local, shirts are still $20, but please include $2.50 for shipping.  I can expedite ship your shirt to you for $5, so $2.50 will offset part of the shipping.  And you too can pay in cash or check.  (If you've recently purchased a shirt online and have not yet received it, you will NOT owe shipping!)  Shirts are available in S, M, L,XL and a few 2XL and 3XL. 

If you are interested in a t-shirt, email me at sandysignr(AT)charter(DOT)net (removing the words and inserting the proper punctuation) or you can leave a comment below.

For those of you who already have plenty of t-shirts and have no desire to have more, or for those that have already bought (THANKS!), you can still help.  Consider this your warning...I'm going to be contacting you soon.  I want you to simply sell 5 shirts to your friends or family.  I have 116 shirts left.  If 23 of you sold 5 shirts for me, that would take care of them all and put us $2300 closer to our goal.  Please consider doing this for me. 

For us. 

For Kylie.

Front of t-shirt


Receiving Gifts

Part of learning humility is learning to accept gifts from people.  A friend of mine recently gave me a very generous gift.

She has a Nook and didn't really need the Kindle.  After several weeks, she said God laid it on her heart to give it to me since I'd have a super long plane ride to China and she knows I love to read as much as I do.  I was amazed.  It will come in handy for both Jenna and I on the plane.  I can't wait to use it!

Also, another friend from work brought a whole trunk load of stuff for Kylie.  Just look...

I am so excited for Kylie to get here and meet all the friends who have contributed to her new home or her trip home.

I love my friends.


What Do You Think??? Poll -------->

I am pleased to announce, thanks to some very generous donations lately, we now have enough money to complete our adoption!!!  Praise the Lord!

Now comes the hard part.  We have to actually GET to China!  It's going to take about $7,000 to get the three (and then four) of us airline tickets, hotel rooms, food etc.  We have about $2,000 of that saved.  We have t-shirts that if we sell all of (more to come on that), we'd net about $2,300.  That leaves us a mere $4,300 from our goal.

So we are trying to think of ways we could fundraise the remainder of the money.  We have several ideas that I'd love your input on.

Which fundraiser activity would you rather participate in?  Would you rather pay $5 per chance to win a Kindle or Nook?  What about $10 per chance to win an iPad?  Would you take advantage of a Christmas present wrapping service one day in December?  You'd bring your gift to a location where I'd wrap them and you could pick them up later?  The fee could be a donation, flat fee or per box.  O would you rather just send finanial support and not participate in any of the above?

If you have additional thoughts or comments or ideas, feel free to leave those in the comments.  If by chance you would not participate in anything or don't support the fundraising idea, that's great.  But your snarky comments aren't helpful and won't be published, so don't bother.

Would you please take a minute to answer my poll over there to the right? I'd really appreciate your help.


Nothin' But Fun!

This was Jenna's last official Nothin' But Fun Day at her school.  Next year, she'll be in the middle school.  Of course, once Kylie is in school, she'll be able to come back down, but just for a visit, not really a participant!

This was on the Friday we were leaving for Birmingham, so there aren't many pictures and we weren't there long.  She was ready to get on the road and so were we.


That's What Friends Are For

A few weeks ago, I hung out with my friend Elizabeth and she shared with me some of her girls' outfits.  I feel like I have blogged this before, but I can't seem to find it, so if this is a repeat, just excuse me.  Interesting blog posts are hard to come by these days!!
Her little closet is getting more full!  Just look at some of these outfits....
Really?  SO CUTE.

These pictures are not great since I took them with my phone, but I'm a huge sucker for Christmas outfits.  Of course, we won't have Kylie home by this Christmas, but these are bigger sized so I hope she'll be able to fit into them next year!

A special thanks to my friend Elizabeth.  I love hanging out with her and have done so several Friday nights.  I love watching her with her girls.  She's such a good mom.


Children Of God

If you haven't seen this video, you need to watch it.  Especially if you are an adoptive parent or considering adopting.


Welcome Anna & Co. Readers!

Hello to those of you popping over from the Anna & Co. blog where I am featured today!  I'm so glad you have come over to read a little about our journey.

For my regulars, hop over and see what's going on at Anna & Co.

Fall is Here!

How do I know fall is here?

A pot of homemade chili.

A lit fire pit.

A bundled up Jenna.

S'more Fixin's.



Caring About What Others Think

Do you care what other people think?  About you?  About your family?

I have come to the realization that I do.  That's my confession...I can't help it.  I care what other people think.  You know how I figured that out? 

I figured it out because I still get uneasy when walking into a public place with Katie.  I am always watching for the staring, whispers, questions etc.  And I hate it.  I hate that I even care.  What difference does it make to me that other people might not understand why we have Katie.  Might whisper about why she's with us.

And if we don't stick out enough as it is (big black dog who goes everywhere we do), when Kylie comes along, I'm sure we'll get even more attention.  She won't look like us.  Some won't understand how she is with us since we are all white.  Some will whisper and stare and wonder what's wrong with her lip.

So, I'm working on not caring about that.  She will be part of us just like Katie is already part of us.  And if they don't understand, it's their problem, NOT mine.

Just some random thoughts.


Road Trip-Birmingham!!!

Yesterday we spent the day in beautiful Birmingham Alabama!  Actually, we stayed in Hoover, but close enough.  :) 

We drove down Friday night because Saturday was our adoption agency's 30th birthday/reunion!  I honestly had no idea what to expect but it sounded like a fun time, was only 3 hours from home and I thought it would be a good road trip for us.  At this point, we surely needed to get away!

Anyway, it was a rough first hour because we got there, but knew NO ONE.  We got over to the craft table where Jenna made a butterfly...

The other reason I wanted to go was to meet the woman who found Kylie for us.  She lives in China and her name is Lily.  She works for several agencies (as I understand it) and before we were with Lifeline, I had heard a lot about the famous Lily and how unbelievable she was.  Her reputation certainly preceded her.

The first person I met was actually Rebecca.  She will be our guide in Guangzhou.  She was so fabulous to talk to and I can't wait to spend time with her in China.  She has a cute sense of humor as well.
Rebecca shared with us that a Chinese delegation was there also, including one of the directors of Jiangsu (Kylie's province) and the 2nd in command at the CCCWA.  UM HELLO!?  Can I meet her?  I need her to remember my name so she can move that LOA along!!! LOL.

I did actually meet her and she was very pleasant.  I didn't want to freak her out by asking for a photo.  She did have many pictures made with some of the children, but since Kylie's not here yet, I thought it might be a little weird.  I just got one from the back while she was talking with someone else.

She's the one with the golden jacket on.  In case you are wondering who the tall, long haired woman is next to her?  Well, that's Lily.  I wish I'd gotten a picture with her, but she was crazy running around translating for the Chinese delegation.  When I met her, she was asking me what Kylie's Chinese name was, trying to place her face and who we were.  When I told her the name, she said, "Oh, you transferred to us!!" and I was like, "YES!  That's us!!!" and then she just threw her arms around me and hugged me.  She was so instrumental in getting my dossier from the CCCWA and getting me logged back in under Lifeline.  She was amazing.  I'll admit, I just about burst out into tears of gratefulness.  She brought our sweet Kylie to us and I could never thank her enough.

There were lots of people there including a friend I met on the adoption boards that I frequent.  Her name IRL is Emily and she introduced me to a couple people who are with Lifeline and who very possibly could travel at the same time we do. 

There was a presentation and this is a little bit better picture of Lily.

After the presentation, we sang Happy Birthday to Lifeline and then we all went out to have yummy birthday cake.  Right before we were dismissed, they acknowledged the keynote speaker for their upcoming fundraising dinner was present.  Guess who?  None other than David Platt himself. 

Let me just take a minute to say if you haven't read his book Radical, you do NOT know what you are missing.  I read this book as part of the ladies' Bible study I used to be part of.  And it changed my life.  If you are not ready for change, then stay away from this book.  It was while reading this book on the heels of "Crazy Love", that I started praying again about adoption.  I would come home and share what I learned with Steve and eventually his men's group read it.  Shortly thereafter, he shared with me that he was open to adoption.  We have watched several of David Platt's podcasts and his sermons are unbelievable.  If you are interested go here and watch a few.  But again...be ready to be changed.

Anyway, while Jenna and I were standing there eating cake (Steve was introducing Katie to some little girls), who other than David Platt stands next to us with one of his sons eating cake!  I couldn't just stand there, so totally out of form, I tapped him on the shoulder and apologized for bothering him but I just had to tell him how much his book changed our lives.  He was SO nice.  We introduced each other and I told him how his book opened our hearts to adoption and how the ladies' Bible study group I attended read it.  He thanked me for the encouragement.  He asked about our adoption, what step we were on and when we expected to travel.  They are traveling "anytime now" to pick up their little girl in Guangdong.

He was the nicest, humblest guy and it was definitely another highlight of the trip.  Somehow Steve couldn't find us, and by the time he came over, the Platt's were leaving.  We were on our way out too, and I tried to get Steve to stop him for a picture, but then it did seem a bit stalkerish to go running after him, so this is the best I could do.

Oh, and Mr. Platt, should you ever stumble on this blog, I apologize for this crazy, stalker picture, but we felt like running across the parking lot screaming at you to stop for a picture might have seemed a little overboard.

It was an honor to have met all these people.  From the beginning of our journey with the author of Radical, to the climax of our journey of seeing Kylie's face for the first time (thanks to Lily) to going to get her (with Rebecca)...it was an amazing day.