Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Home Visit(s)

On Sunday afternoon, I slumped in a chair and told Jeff we needed to postpone the home visit. We were both exhausted. We had already admitted defeat on the "easy to install" cork floors. The counter tops wouldn't be in. The sinks, faucets, appliances, plumbing fixtures, etc wouldn't be in. And I had just spent the last 2 hours cleaning the dining room. We still had the play room, living room, bedroom, Lillian's room and 2 bathrooms left to clean. At 2 hours each, there just was not enough time to get ready for the home visit. Fortunately Jeff talked me off the ledge and busied himself with the playroom. I got a 2nd...or 3rd...or 20th wind and went to work on our bedroom. By the time our heads hit the pillows that night, we were nearly ready.

Which brings me to today. The good news is we completed the home visit. The great news is that our counselor has spent the last 6 years remodeling every surface of her own home and could easily relate to our partial state of completion. The excellent news is that we got BOTH home visits done today. Wooohoooo! Generally they do 2 home visits because it takes about 4 hours to gather all the information for the profile. But because much of our info hasn't changed from last time, we could just fill in any gaps from the past couple of years. Here's a partial list of what we discussed:

  • Our childhood experience
  • A typical day in our house
  • A typical weekend
  • What we like to do as a couple
  • What we appreciate about each other
  • Religion
  • Values
  • Parenting philosophy
  • Discipline strategy
  • Financial situation
  • Neighborhood
  • Detailed description of our home and property
  • Jobs including travel and daily schedule

Now you can see why it takes 4 hours! Adoption is certainly not an overnight decision. It requires a lot of soul searching preparation. If only all parents had to spend this kind of time thinking about how they would parent...

The final discussion today was also the screening tool. Adoptive families outline their openness to everything from race to gender to exposure to a variety of drugs and alcohol. This list is then cross referenced to potential birthfamilies. Only birthfamilies who match our preferences will receive our letter and profile.

With both home visits completed, that just leaves our individual meetings. We have scheduled those for October 8th (Lori) and 9th (Jeff). Then we wait for our counselor to complete the profile before we will officially be in the pool! I can't believe it's moving so quickly. By the end of the month, we will likely be in the pool. And then the nerve racking wait really begins.

Adoption is a bitter sweet process. Our joy comes from someone else's pain. Lately I've imagined a young woman distraught to discover that she is pregnant. And she is making this incredible decision on what to do next. I pray that somehow she finds out about open adoption. I pray she is brave enough to choose adoption. I pray God brings us together.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Angel Baby

It's been a rough few days. Work is crazy, the house is crazy so I have been...yep, you guessed it...crazy. I think the stress has made me more emotional. Or it's just one of those weeks. I don't know. But I find my thoughts drifting to Lillian more than usual. (I didn't know it was even possible since I think about her all the time!) Some of the time it's happy memories of my sweet, smiling girl. Other times it is sad memories of the pain she endured. And then the doubts creep in. Should we have done something differently? Did we not pray hard enough? Could we have protected her somehow? These daggers absolutely pierce my heart.

As these questions and memories were swirling in my head, I got an e-mail about another brave cancer fighter. When I read his story, I realized that while Lillian was fighting for her life in the PICU of one hospital, he was doing the same at another. Their symptoms were shockingly similar. Our prayer requests were identical. Ultimately on the day Lillian went to heaven, this other cancer kiddo experienced a miraculous and dramatic change for the better. Which brought yet another question to my mind: Why does God spare one child and not another?

Last night, I got the news that sweet baby Lexie went to be with Jesus. And again, questions of WHY shot into my head. This beautiful baby fought cancer every single day of her 10 months on earth. Even though the odds were stacked against her, she was winning. She was beating cancer. We all thought she would be the miracle that we all pray about. And why shouldn't she be?

Lexie was a miracle to all who knew her. It's through Lexie that I met McKenna, McKayla, Gabriel, Frederick and so many more wonderful kids and their families. She blessed us by connecting us. I didn't know how much I needed these other families. And really, how much I needed to be needed. But Lexie taught me that even through my grief, I could reach out and make a small difference to another cancer fighter. So I may not know the answers to all of the why's. But I do know that Lexie was a blessing to me. I thank God for bringing her family into my life. And I honor her beautiful gift of connecting people.

Please pray that God would comfort Lexie's parents, Robyn and Chris, as they miss their baby desperately. This picture of their sweet girl was taken just hours before she earned her heavenly wings. What a beautiful tribute to their angel.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Looking Fine

Well, I forwarded the "zen garden" picture to our counselor for approval. Her overwhelming response was "I think the picture looks fine." Ahhhhh, such enthusiasm! Um, does she not realize that we spent hours wandering around campus looking for the perfect location? And then we conducted an online poll to select the perfect shot? And what do I get after all that? "I think the picture looks fine." Oh well, she looks a dozens of these photos every year so I suppose I can't expect her to do back flips.

We're still tracking toward the home visit on the 25th. I'm beginning to resign myself to the reality that our house will be only semi-complete. For example, the bathroom will be tiled but there will be no shower door yet. And the counter tops will be in but not the back splash. That kind of thing. Our counselor said that would be fine but I like things to be just so. Oh well, she'll see the finished product at the 2nd home visit.

Speaking of which, here's a quick outline of the rest of the process.

  • Home visit on the 25th.
  • An individual meeting with the counselor for both of us.
  • Another home visit.
  • Wait for profile to be completed.

Basically being "in the pool" means that our letter and profile are being presented to birthfamilies. That's also the point at which every ring of the phone stops my heart. When I got the call that Lillian's birthmom had selected us, I was merging from one highway to another with my mom and sister in the car. It was a bit of a miracle that I managed to answer the phone, change lanes and write down the relevant info without crashing the car. You know, I think cars should come with reader boards for such an occasion. I should push a button and a sign should pop up on the roof that says "It's THE call." Then all the other cars should just move out of my way allowing for any appropriate reckless maneuvers on my part. Or I could just pull over next time. Or tell them I call back in a minute. Nah, I like the sign idea.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Great White Hunter

About a year ago, Jeff shuffled down the hall to get his morning coffee when he saw a winding, berry stained trail leading from my freshly baked pie, which was cooling overnight on the kitchen counter, to a nibbled out hole in a cabinet in the playroom. This was our first evidence that we had "critters". That particular critter was likely a squirrel which, unlike other critters, are adorable in their natural habitat but, like other critters, are not quite so cute when they're invading mine. And don't forget that we were now without so much as a forkful of comforting berry pie!

So Jeff set out with a vengeance to eradicate any "critter entrances" into the house. Every hole, crack or gap was efficiently sealed with wire mesh or foam insulation. All attic and crawl space accesses were outfitted with traps. Even a pocket door was removed and sealed. Thanks to the "Great White Hunter," as I like to call Jeff, our house was once again critter-free.

Unfortunately remodeling involves creating new holes. In the walls, in the floors, everywhere! And generally those holes are granting work access and thus cannot be immediately filled. Which brings us to today's story.
Yesterday, as I was putting a can of paint back in the pile in our kitchen, I heard a loud noise in the corner. I glanced around but after seeing nothing out of the ordinary, I shrugged it off and went back to my work. I was bringing a ladder into the kitchen when I heard another noise. This time it was distinguishably a scurrying sound. Quickly I saw the source as a little brown squirrel peeked around the corner of one of our unplaced kitchen cabinets. In a flash, I turned, opened the front door and met Jeff on the porch with a hasty "there'sasquirrelinthehouse!" Clearly he didn't understand the urgency because he stopped in his tracks, paused a moment and then started chuckling.

"There's a squirrel in the house?" he drawled with an amused expression.

He slowly set down the piece of plywood he was carrying, picked up a broom and non-chalantly sauntered into the kitchen.

He strolled down the hallway and into the playroom where I promptly closed the door behind him effectively trapping the Great White Hunter and his prey. Through the door I shouted, "open the sliding glass door and maybe he'll jump out."

"Hey, you're on the wrong side of the door," he replied.
"No, I'm definitely on the right side," I quipped.

I hear him whistling at the squirrel like he was calling a dog.

"Uh, it's not a dog you nut."
"C'mon little fella, the door's open."
"Are you talking to a squirrel?"
"Good job buddy."
"What happened? Is he gone? Jeff???"

I hear the sliding glass door close and moments later the GWH emerges victoriously.
"He jumped from the house to the fence in one leap!"

Clearly the GWH was impressed by his nemesis. I'm not quite as impressed.

"He was probably thinking, 'Hey, there were snacks last time I was here, what the heck!'," I comment.
"Yeah, he was probably looking for some more pie," Jeff responds.

Stupid pie eating squirrel, I'll show him! I put tile scraps over every hole in the kitchen. Stepping back to survey my hasty work, I wonder whether it will be enough. Considering the master bathroom is missing about 50% of it's floor right now, I'm fairly certain it's not gonna be completely effective. Ugh, how much longer until this remodel is DONE?

Ya know, I could really go for some pie right now...

No animals were harmed in the making of this story.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Postponing the Home Visit

Well, I pushed out the home visit to the 25th. That gives us 19 days to get the house in some semblance of normalcy. I can see that without some sort of deadline, a remodel could last indefinitely. But I'm learning that contractor time is sort of like dog years. Just multiply whatever they tell you by 3.

In the meanwhile, we wait and edit some paperwork.

  • Dear birthparent letter: Thanks for voting on the photos! It was really valuable to have other people's perspective. We could choose the one we like but ultimately it's a marketing tool designed to attract the right birthfamily. So it's really more important that other people think it represents us well. I've updated the dear birthparent letter with the "zen garden" pic.

  • Autobiographies: Our counselor sent back our autobiographies with some minor edits. We'll make the changes and then check that one off the list as well.
Other than that, we're working hard to get the house ready. We've decided to hire some of the work done to speed up the process. Now I'm just waiting to see how much that decision is going to cost.

Oh and we're talking about names and expectations and all the other stuff that parents-to-be think about. I'd like to convince people that we're gonna have twins and name them Diego and Dora but I can't seem to keep a straight face. (If you don't know who Dora and Diego are, you need to hang around more 3 year olds. Lillian loved Diego.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Making Fire Pretty

Well, I've got good news and I've got bad news about this @#$* remodel. The good news is the plumbers finally showed up on Tuesday! YEAH!!! The bad news is they forgot to mention that the work would have to be inspected before we drywall. Why is that bad news? Well, we can't make the template for the granite until the cabinets are installed. And we can't install the cabinets until the drywall is up. AND, we can't drywall until the plumbing is inspected. So, we had to push out our timeline yet again.

Now for more good news! I finished the fireplace. Now all that awaits is a gas insert. Ahhh, fire at the flick of a switch. Is there anything better? Now I know how the cavemen felt when they discovered fire. Well, sort of... Anyway, check out the progress over the long weekend:

Before: Painted exposed brick fireplace

(apparently the painting cost a pretty penny back in the day)

Step 1: Dry wall above the mantel &
scratch coat/grind the brick to level below the mantel

Step 2: Lay the tile
(might I add that there is not 1 single full tile in this whole project,
every stupid tile had to be cut)

Step 3: Grout & admire


Let me start by saying I'm not asking you for any money. But, I have a great fundraiser for Relay for Life...and it won't cost you a cent. (Yep, already starting the fundraising train for next year!) If you sign up for free with iGive and select "Walking with Angels - Relay for Life" as your cause, everytime you shop at one of the participating online stores, a portion of your purchase price will automatically be donated to Relay for Life. And we're talking GREAT stores like iTunes, Baby Gap, Delta Airlines, Eddie Bauer, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Overstock.com, REI, Target and hundreds more! So please, sign up and select Walking with Angels as your cause. And just think, now you have an excuse to go shopping online (as if you really needed one).

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Episode 5: The Apprentice w/Ronald Bump,

Our church drama team did a spoof of "The Apprentice" a couple summer's ago to set up a sermon series on the seven deadly sins. You know, back when "The Apprentice" was in it's prime. We had a blast writing and performing this series. And now, you too can share in the fun as it was just published on You Tube. There are 7 total episodes and here's the 5th. I love this one because Jenn really nails the "gluttony" sin. Watch and enjoy. Then check out the whole series to see who wins!!!

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