A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Maximizing every inch of space means packing socks inside bottles.

And toddler panties, and vitamins, and bibs and hair clips.
One bottle and one sippy cup for each of the babies, plus a spare of each, just in case.  (We lost Hannah's cup at Safari Park in GZ last time.)

Speaking of bibs, here I go with the matchy thing again.  (The backup bib is fish.  I figured that was more gender neutral than butterflies or flowers, lol.)  

I made a disturbing realization.  Once I got the babies' blankets, backpacks, supplies, and clothing in the suitcase, there was no room left for MY clothes.  Which means I'm going to have to send some of this stuff in Paul's suitcase.  

I'm traveling first, and spending the first week in China alone, getting one of the babies.  
Then Paul and I will meet up in the second child's province, and we will complete the remaining 2 weeks of the trip together.  

The catch is that I don't know which one I'm getting first.
On the one hand, we've known about Katie the longest, and I'd like her to have one week of being the baby of the family.  On the other hand, routing wise, it makes more sense to get Luke first instead of zig zagging up and down the country, and a baby might be "easier" than an active toddler when I want to catch a shower by myself.  Maybe.  

So I'm going to wait until I know exactly when I'm leaving, and hope that there's another family with our agency who will be traveling to one province or the other, so I can have someone to travel with.  Of course, if there are families traveling to both provinces, or no families traveling to either province, I'm going to have to just make a decision, but in the meantime, I'm in packing limbo.  

But at least some of this stuff is going to have to go in Paul's suitcase.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Money Matters

Paul and I had a depressing talk last week.  I was feeling pretty good about things because we paid for all of our dossier expenses as we went along, and we've already paid all of our agency fees, including our post placement bond.  Until we started adding up travel expenses.

Now I'm a little worried.  When we added up flights to and from China, an estimate of flights within China, an estimate for hotel costs, guide fees, the huge ($5,000+) orphanage fees PER CHILD, tips for guides and drivers, and food, we came up with approx. $31,000.  Gulp.

Now, I know we have $90 coming to us from our Restaurant dot com fundraiser.  (Go check it out, buy one, share on your facebook!)  And we have over $1,900 in our Reece's Rainbow account, which will go to travel costs as well.  We will be putting the international flights and the hotel costs on a credit card, so that leaves about $20,000 in actual cash that we'll need to either:  wire ahead to China for our in country travel expenses and guide fees; carry to China with us in real money; or leave behind for the feeding and care of our children here.

This is why I'm so very excited that we are the featured family this week at Give 1 Save 1 Asia!  Please check out the blog post, watch our video, and donate as you feel led.  Thank you!

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I Sewed Something!

Back in February, I found some great deals and bought Katie an array of leggings.
One pair was just an "off" color.
Not pink, not peach... coral, I guess you would call it.
The sort of color you would never find anything to go with.  After looking through Katie's drawer and determining that no, she didn't have any tops to match them, I took them into the sewing room.

And I came up with this.

Even though I cut out this simple top before our Safe Families babies arrived, not surprisingly, it got set aside when I had to make some pants for Gogo (including the blue stripe ones here), and I never got a chance to finish it during the 6 weeks they were here.  

However, it's finished now, and I absolutely cannot wait to get Katie home so she can wear it.
Our Article 5 pickup date is May 9.  I opened a new gallon of milk this morning, which expires 5/14.  By the time that milk (which will be gone tomorrow) expires, we will be waiting for TA!  It's getting close now!  

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Homeschool Weekly Wrap Up - Russia week 1

The last Japan activity we did was Haiku writing.  After that, we turned our attention to Russia!

We made Faberge eggs from our Little Passports packet

and added them to our binders.

Adding the Russian flag (adopted in 1991) to our passports.

The Little Passports "treat" this month was a sheet of temporary tattoos.  Eli chose the flag and Jack chose the bear.  Which led to me singing, Waltzing With Bears

Hannah, working on her homework.  
They've got her writing 3 sentences about a topic now.
Her sentences are... "original." 

We watched a documentary on Netflix called Rasputin:  The Mad Monk.  Note to self, you might want to preview the next documentary you show the kids!  Yikes.  It was, er, graphic about his personal life.  But we did catch a glimpse of St. Basil's cathedral in the footage, which was perfect because we watched it the same day Brianna built a model of  St. Basil's.

Doing a word search.  

We also watched a documentary about Russian painters, and are planning to view another about the Russian ballet.  

I got out some genealogy documents and was able to show the kids our German ancestors who immigrated from Odessa when Ukraine was a part of Russia.  I love that even as far back as Catherine the Great, our family has a history of adoption.  

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The Light and Fluffy Birthday Post

Where did I leave off yesterday?

Oh, yes, the matchy girls.
They are so cute together.

Bri baked the cupcakes and did a lot of the assembly work.
She got the idea from an American Girl magazine.

Hannah applied the noses.

They had that home made look to them, lol.

But Hannah liked taking them to school and telling everyone she helped make them.

Eli cracked open a geode and gave it to her.  

And Josiah lit the candles on her cake.

Happy Birthday, baby girl!  

I tried to explain what a birthday is, and why we celebrate, but I'm still not sure she got it.  

Still, she understands presents

And enjoys them immensely.  

Brianna made Hannah an orange necklace because orange is her current favorite color.  

I got her this shirt with China and the city she's from on it.

And then she opened her big present.  

She's been asking for a bike since the weather warmed up and all the big kids have been riding around out front.  

Eli loves any opportunity to use his little green Swiss Army Knife.  

Daddy made quick work of the assembly, 

And then Eli helped her try to figure out how to pedal.
It's going to be a challenge, but I think if we attach her prosthetic foot to the pedal somehow it will be doable.  

After dinner, we made a stab at releasing a Chinese lantern.
This was our very first experience with them.

I bought a pack of them for Chinese New Year, but with the babies here, we never got around to doing them.

So, I decided we'd send our thoughts up to people on the other side of the world who might be thinking of Hannah on her birthday.  I traced her handprint on the lantern before we started.

Although we ended up not actually releasing the lantern because the wind kicked up, I think we learned how they work, so that next time (Autumn Moon Festival, hopefully) we try it, it will go better.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

The deep and brooding birthday post

This morning, I went into Hannah's room and started singing softly, "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Hannah, happy birthday to you."  I rolled her little, bundled form into my arms and sang again.  The third time through, a voice comes out from under the mop of hair obscuring her face and says, "Is it almost my birthday?"  I brush back the fluff and smile at my sleepy eyed girl and say, "It IS your birthday!  How old are you today?"  "SIX!" she says, waking up more now.

I set her down and start picking out her clothes, when a voice from the top bunk says, "Strawberries." I look quizzically up at Brianna, who explains, "Strawberry outfits."  Ah, got it.  I can do that.  I select Hannah's strawberry outfit and debate red shoes or brown shoes and then leave her to get dressed as I go take my shower.

The reality is, I was feeling very emotional the whole time I was in there.  With a moment to myself in the shower, I started to sort out why that is.  With my other children, I can say things like, "Good morning!  This time X years ago, I had no idea today would be your birthday" or "This time X years ago, I had been in labor for hours and was so anxious to finally hold you."  There have been discussions like, "You were born in the evening, so technically you aren't X years old until X o'clock."  

I don't have any of that for Hannah.  I don't even know what I was doing on the day she was born.  Oh, I've looked at our 2007 calendar and I can get a general idea from the appointments listed what our life was like that day, but there's nothing on that day to mark it as a meaningful occasion.  Nothing to anchor it in my memory.

I can't help but wonder what Hannah's birth day was like.  Was her mama young or old?  Was she hoping for a son?  Does Hannah have any siblings?  How long was she in labor?  Was it a beautiful spring day?  Was she born in the day or at night?  What time?

And now?  Did she spend yesterday remembering her little girl?  Would she want to know that Hannah is well and happy now?  Would it surprise her to see her formerly crippled daughter walk, run, and play with her siblings?

Strawberry outfits

These thoughts and more swirl around in my head as I start the day.  Fortunately, there are plenty of things to distract me from my musing, and I soon find myself covered in frosting, enjoying the more light-hearted aspects of birthday celebrations.

Panda cupcakes for school

Later, when dinner is over, and presents have been opened, and my little surprise has happened, I'm sure there will be a Light and Fluffy Birthday Post with lots of smiling pictures.  But I couldn't let this day go by without acknowledging the sense of loss inherent in adoption.  If *I*, who clearly won the most, getting a great child as my own, can see and feel the losses, how much greater will Hannah feel them as she gets older and develops a greater understanding of what it all means?  

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

St Basil's Cathedral

I know it's not the end of the week yet, and I normally only post school stuff in my weekly wrap up posts, but I couldn't resist sharing this.

Last summer, when I was amassing supplies and projects for this school year, I ran across this St. Basil's Cathedral 3D Puzzle, which I thought would be a neat addition to our study of Russia.  Since Eli always builds the Nanoblock monument models, Brianna pounced on this and declared that it was her turn to build something.  The magazine like instruction booklet indicated that it would take 5 hours, but Brianna finished it in just 3 sessions in one day.  Now she's trying to convince me that we need Sydney Opera House for our upcoming study of Australia.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

One step closer

We have been cabled!  Now our agency sends that email info to their contact in China, and the contact walks it in to be processed.  That takes exactly 2 weeks, almost without exception.  If it goes in tomorrow, it will be out in time that CCCWA could process our Travel Approval before shutting down from 5/25-6/1.

I know it will all come together in God's perfect timing.  I'm realizing that we could be one short month away from TA, which is so exciting!  (On the other hand, if we don't get TA before the shut down, I'm going to be one cranky mama because I'm counting on leaving early June!)

In other news, I looked at the website for the hotel that our agency recommends in GZ (the last week of our trip) and it's scary nice.  Like I feel under-dressed sitting here in shorts and a t-shirt looking at the site.

Looking at flights, hotels, packing lists...  It's getting more real.

I found out who sent my mystery package.  :)  I never would have guessed that a "random" opponent in Words With Friends could turn into a real friend far away.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Come Out Come Out Whoever You Are!

Whomever?  Whatever.  Anyway, the coolest thing happened yesterday.  We came home to a package of goodies from our Amazon Wish List!  Only there was no note or name on the packing list, so I don't know who to thank!

We got a color book with nice, simple pictures, stickers, an airplane story coloring book, a 10 pack of spoons, a set of nesting ducks for the bathtub, and a cool laminated Chinese phrase guide!

Whoever sent this, can you please let me know so I can thank you appropriately?  

I tucked the pink and blue spoons into my suitcase with the other feeding essentials, and I tucked the purple and green ones into the babies' backpacks as backup spoons.  

Thank you, mystery giver!  You made my day.