Monday, November 25, 2013

Lord, I believe!

I have been very remiss in posting recently. I've had an awful lot on my mind and haven't felt the drive to write it down.

Why is it so hard to trust that God knows what He is doing? I feel as if I am having to relearn a lesson about letting go of my worries and trusting that God will take care of us. I cannot change a lot of things in my life. I have very little control. I wish I could translate knowing that God is in control into feeling like I can remain at peace.

We have not yet received our immigration approval, even though we forwarded the additional paperwork they requested. I'm nervous that we'll get denied, even as I am confident that God has our daughter in His hands. Why can't I let go of the stress of the unknown when I know God has a plan for us?

I don't know how many miracles I have to experience to avoid stressing out when something goes wrong or doesn't follow my plans. I keep reminding myself that I am a work in progress, that God isn't finished with me yet. I'm so glad He doesn't let go of me, even when I don't always trust Him fully! I know He's there. I know He loves me. "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!"

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekly Goals

Last week I had several goals:

1. Finish "easy" portion of the dossier paperwork. DONE!
2. Get creative with meal plans. Nope. Ran into serious back pain the second half of the week and defaulted to easier known meals.
3. Start working on my knitting for my girl in Thailand. DONE!
4. Write up book reviews. Half done. I finished reading my review copies but need to finish writing the reviews.

Not too bad for a week's worth of work, considering I spent two days curled up in a chair wishing my back would stop screaming at me.

This week's goals:

1. Finish writing book reviews.
2. Complete the first half of my hat. Ultimate goal is to have the hat complete by the end of November.
3. Schedule an appointment to get my eyes checked. I have to include my vision info in the medical paperwork for the adoption.
4. Visit the police station to request a local police clearance for the adoption paperwork.

That should keep me plenty busy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Something to be thankful for

A working dishwasher! Our dishwasher broke almost two weeks ago and we had a new one installed this evening. I'm so happy! We finally have enough plates and bowls that I can actually use the dishwasher once a day and won't have to pull things out of it to wash by hand and use again. My challenge this week has been to keep the kitchen spotless, washing the dishes after each meal and making sure everything was put away instead of leaving it on the counter. I really love having a clean kitchen and having a dishwasher again will make this so much easier!

Many thanks to the homeowner and the property management company for arranging for a new dishwasher to be delivered and installed!

Monday, November 11, 2013

A few of my favorite things!

Chinese learning resources, that is!

Peggy Teaches Chinese is awesome. She's actually from Taiwan, so she speaks with a Taiwanese accent and uses a few idioms local to Taiwan. Plus, she uses traditional (written) Chinese in her videos, as opposed to the simplified version that mainland China uses. I haven't watched many of Peggy's culture videos yet, only the beginner Chinese lessons. I've already learned a lot. Because our future daughter is from Taiwan, learning from a Taiwanese speaker is very useful and rather hard to find.

I love this dictionary. It allows you to switch between traditional and simplified Chinese characters, has audio for each of the words, and tells you what level of proficiency testing that word falls under. That way you know if you're learning a common word vs a highly specialized or rare word.

I use Yabla to help correct my pronunciation of various sounds in Chinese. It's especially helpful when you've been studying for awhile and start muddying the sounds together...

And, last but not least, I'm using LearnChineseEZ. I really like this resource. The native Chinese speaker is very clear in her enunciation so I can follow along with the Pinyin. The grammar starts off really easy, explains the grammar point, and then uses it in a few sample sentences. Then it adds more grammar and vocabulary words. You can switch between Standard Pinyin (the official spelling for Chinese characters, or Hanzi) and EZ Pinyin, which I believe is the website owner's creation to help make Pinyin easier. My only complaint about the website is that there is no Hanzi version of the lessons, only Pinyin. After awhile, I find Pinyin starts running together and I forget vocabulary. Hanzi is easier in the long run, much as Kanji is in Japanese.

*Legal Disclaimer: I am posting about LearnChineseEZ, in part, to gain access to the member's only lessons (so that I don't have to pay for them!). But I do highly recommend the website for a beginner to the Chinese language, regardless of the free content offer. I honestly believe this is a worthwhile resource and much of it is already free.

All of the above resources are free! I also found another free resource through my library but have not yet started it and therefore can't recommend it. I'm not sure how far free resources will take me, but I'll be using them as long as possible! I will probably have to purchase a resource at some point as I really need to move beyond absolute beginner level so that I can communicate more effectively with our future daughter.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This week's plans

I can't believe we're already over a week into November... It's almost time to start thinking about New Year's resolutions! Ha!

This week, it seems most of my plans (that involve other people) have fallen through. So it looks like I will be having a rather quiet week at home. With that in mind, there are a few things I would like to get done.

1. Continue working on the dossier paperwork. I would like to have all of the "easy" stuff done by the end of this week, mostly cover letters for various documents, a couple letters, and some forms. That way we can start work on getting medical clearances.

2. Get creative with the meal plans. I unintentionally overspent last week and have very little money left to last until payday. Oops. Normally we would go ahead and spend additional money, but we're saving for all of the dossier fees and don't want to fall short because we overspent on food...

3. Start work on my newest knitting project, a gift for one of my sponsored girls. I have been extremely blessed in that someone who is going on a sponsor tour in January offered to take a gift for me. SO EXCITED. Normally we can only mail paper gifts (bookmarks, stickers, etc). A lot of those who go on the sponsor tours will take a gift from other sponsors and someone going to Thailand kindly offered to deliver a gift for me. I have to be done with the knitting project by the end of December so I'd better get started! I never thought I'd have the opportunity to send a very personal gift and am thrilled at the chance.

4. Write up reviews for my most recently finished books.

All of that, in addition to my Chinese studies, normal housework, and final Bible study tomorrow will keep me plenty busy! Our dishwasher broke a week ago so I've been hand washing dishes after every meal and waiting for property management to approve a new dishwasher. Thankfully, it's scheduled for delivery on Wednesday! I will be doing a happy dance that evening!

Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November's Read - Little Women

Come read with me!

I am hosting this month's book club selection, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. We'll be discussing it on Carrie's blog, though I'm sure I'll be discussing it here as well. Read the intro post here.

I'm so excited to revisit my favorite March sisters!

*Disclaimer - There is an Amazon affiliate link in this post. All earnings are used solely to prepare for our daughter's arrival!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fingerprinting - Done!

Our fingerprinting appointments are done! I'm curious if this will be the final time we are fingerprinted for this adoption but I wouldn't be surprised if we have to do it again.

Both of our appointments were at 11AM. We showed up 10 minutes early, went through security, and started waiting in line. And waited. And waited. We were finally able to check in just after 11 and were given more paperwork to fill out. Thankfully, once we had filled that out, we were able to walk right up to the counter and get registered for the fingerprinting. After some additional waiting, we were fingerprinted and sent on our way. The whole process took about an hour.

It was really interesting to watch everyone as we waited. I had expected a small office but was surprised to find an office even more busy than the DMV. People of all nationalities were there. We even saw a guy from Thailand who, I think, was there for his immigration interview.

Both fingerprinting technicians asked Jeff and I a couple questions about our adoption process. It seems adoption is definitely one of the lessor given reasons to visit USCIS!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fingerprinting appointments!

I never thought I would be happy to have my fingerprints taken but I am! Today we received notice of our fingerprinting appointments for our I600A application. We're to appear on Tuesday!

Based on everything we've read on various adoption time lines, we weren't expecting to receive our notice for another two weeks and thought it would be an additional several weeks before we are to appear. Nope! It's been less than a month since we mailed in our application and we're already getting fingerprinted. I view this as a Very Good Thing.

Can we go to Taiwan yet?