Saturday, June 28, 2014

One year ago today...

One year ago today, I heard a still small voice whisper that this is the day we will find our daughter. That evening, my husband called me over to look at a beautiful child on an advocacy website and we both fell in love.

*Post edited - Because Z has refused adoption, I have removed her pictures to protect her privacy.

It has been a whirlwind year, filled with ups and downs. The first half of the adoption process went really quickly. We thought for sure we'd be traveling within a year of finding our girl. The second half of the adoption process has gone much more slowly. We've evidenced several miracles, including God providing over $11,000 through generous friends and family, which allowed us to complete our adoption fund and proceed with the necessary approvals.

I already think of Zhi Zhi as our daughter, even though she won't officially be ours until the court finalizes our adoption. I can't wait to become her mama, to show her the love of a family, and to introduce her to our loving God.

Yesterday our agency contacted us and asked if we wanted to delay the adoption. We found out that Zhi Zhi wavers between being afraid of the huge change coming her way and wanting to have a family. The judge in Taiwan will ask her social worker how Zhi Zhi feels about the adoption. We need her to want to be adopted. Since day one, we have been praying that God will soften her heart so that she will want to be adopted, that she will allow us to love her, and that someday she will love us in return.

We stepped out in faith yesterday, believing that God will finish preparing her heart, and instructed our agency to continue with the adoption process. Once we receive our preapproval letter from AIT, our case will be submitted to court. Please pray for Zhi Zhi, that she will be eager to be adopted by the time the judge asks. We have faith that God will continue to bless us as we seek to make Zhi Zhi our daughter.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A surprise blessing

I am so overwhelmed with gratitude to God. Just as we're bracing for a long wait, as we work on the last step before submitting all of our paperwork to court, God gives us a blessing to sustain us. Earlier this week, I again contacted our agency to ask if it was possible for me to get touch with the family who hosted our girl in 2012. I was thrilled when they responded with an email address.

After prayer, we sent over a list of questions we hoped would be answered and give us insight into our daughter. We've been so very blessed with a ton of useful information and photos. I was praying for photos but knew that I may or may not receive any. The host family has more than doubled the number of photos we have!

*Post edited - Because Z has refused adoption, I have removed her pictures to protect her privacy.

She's beautiful and I pray every day that God will prepare her heart for our family.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Motivation techniques? Any advice?

I need some help!

You see, a few years ago, I was rather fat. I had let my weight creep up and up and up. I topped out at just under 190 pounds. Because I didn't pack all the weight on at once, I didn't realize quite how fat I was getting until one day I looked at some recent photographs. I was crushed.

That day, I made up my mind that I was going to lose weight. Weight struggles run in my family. Sure, my family tends to be rather skinny until 21 years of age or so. Once we reached that magic age, almost every single person in both my immediate and extended family gained a ton of weight. Myself included.

Over the next two or so years, I slimmed way down. At first, I just watched what I ate, meticulously counting every calorie. I lost quite a bit of weight that way but plateaued around 145 pounds. Then I started exercising, using the Wii's Walk it Out video game and running 3x a week. That helped me lose the remainder of my weight and I dropped down to 118 pounds. I was quite proud of myself but it was hard to maintain that weight. I didn't keep up with the exercise, nor did I continue tracking my calories. My weight slowly crept back up and I settled in at 124 pounds for a few months. I was happy there.

And then... I've had two pretty big bouts of drama in the last eight months. I'm an emotional eater. I also struggle when I lack control of my own life. I was out of town on two separate occasions, both of which involved very stressful events, and my weight has suffered. I'm now just ounces shy of 140 pounds and am very unhappy about it.

I'm sort of motivated to get back to 124 pounds. I WANT to get back to 124 pounds. But I cringe at the amount of work it took the last time I lost weight. I've been tossing around ideas with my husband, trying to find a way to get the motivation back. The last three weeks, I've run 2-3 times each week. It took a couple runs but I'm back at 1 mile per run. It's a starting point. I used to run 5k routes every weekend. I ran a couple of 5k races and enjoyed it. Running is not a favorite form of exercise but it's doable IF I force myself out the door. It's not exactly fun, but it's effective.

I want to get back to my ideal weight by the time we travel to Taiwan. I want to meet my daughter in a body that I feel comfortable with. I don't want her to look at me and cringe at the thought of going home with "the fat American lady." We travel in 6-9 months. Hopefully. It's hard to guess how long it will be because the process can speed up or slow down. But I think it would be fair to say that I can reach 124 pounds by the end of October. Right?

15 pounds in four months. Now I just have to make myself do it.

Tell me... how do you motivate yourself to eat healthy? To exercise? To lose weight?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Everything on back order

I thought for sure that I was going to have a really fun post today, an update on our decorating attempts. Alas, no update for awhile.

Yesterday we visited Bed, Bath, and Beyond so that I could show my hubby the curtains I found. We picked out the pretty lavender curtains and then found a nice curtain rod to install. Once home, we eagerly unwrapped everything. BB&B carried two lengths of curtains - 63" and 83". The window is not full length so we took an educated guess that we need the 63" curtains. We were careful to pick out two packages that were very clearly marked 63". When we opened the first package, we realized that the curtains were taller than I am! I am 5'6" and I couldn't even hold the curtains off the floor by stretching my arms above my head. They were clearly not 63" long! The curtains were pretty, but we were not in love with them. We decided to take them back and find something else.

This morning we started browsing Pottery Barn Kid's website, the same place we bought the comforters and sheets. We found some gorgeous curtains on sale! They weren't as cheap as the BB&B curtains, but I'm positive that they are nicer quality. And wouldn't you know it... the curtains are on back order, just like the sheets we ordered! Both the curtains and the sheets will be delivered at the end of July. So much for making progress with the decorating this weekend!

On Saturday night, I also made a list of furniture stores we can visit in search of a dresser as well as a kitchen table to replace our folding table. Hopefully next weekend we'll spend some time searching for furniture. I can't wait!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Empty mailbox

No letter from AIT this week. Our agency said that our dossier translation will be completed by the end of next week. I am praying that the AIT letter arrives before Friday! Then we'll be ready to submit to court. I can't wait.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My "shredder"

This evening I had entirely way too much fun. Taking advantage of a cooler evening, I burned an entire stack of sensitive papers.

The beginning of my fire:

Toward the end:

We don't own a shredder, but we do have a fireplace! By the end of the summer, I will have saved up enough credit card offers and other identity sensitive papers for the fall/winter season of fire building. Now that I've burned everything, I can clean out the fireplace. No more s'mores for a few months!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bedding and Mandarin progress!

We put the comforters on the beds and it makes Zhi Zhi's room so much more inviting!

We went from this:

To this:

I love the bedding and hope she does as well. I look forward to picking out curtains and a dresser soon.

Today I finished week 12 of my beginner class from YoYo Chinese. I am exactly half way through the beginner lessons. I feel like I am learning a lot but also feel pressured to pick up the pace a bit. I would really like to make it part way through the Intermediate lessons before we travel to pick up Zhi Zhi. I am becoming more comfortable with Mandarin but know that I have a very long way to go.

Monday, June 16, 2014

I-600 preapproval

"After review of the Form I-600 petition... USCIS is pleased to inform you that we have preliminarily determined that the beneficiary child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States as an orphan."

This is the good news we were hoping for last week! Our case manager called this morning to let us know that she had approved our application on June 11 and that we should receive the hard copy in the mail any day. We received it today! I scanned and emailed it to my agency. Now we're waiting for this piece of paper's twin, a similar preapproval letter from AIT (American Institute in Taiwan). Once we receive that letter, we add it to the stack of paperwork already in Taiwan.

Hopefully, the agency in Taiwan has finished translating our dossier. If so, that means we are ready to be submitted to court! Well, as soon as the letter from AIT arrives. We're working through the last few (long) steps. After court submission, we get to SKYPE with our girl! I can't wait.

I was excited to receive the letter today but was also sobered by the wording. "the beneficiary child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States as an orphan." Yes, I'm glad that we are adopting her. However, I grieve at the losses she's already lived through. She's an orphan. No mom or dad. I can't replace her biological mother, as much as I want to love her and provide a family for her. So it's a happy and sad day all at once, seeing USCIS' determination written in black and white.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Someplace to sleep...

I was so excited yesterday when the doorbell rang. By the time I reached the door, the delivery man was already in his truck getting ready to drive away. He left a huge package on our front porch. A mattress! I was rather surprised that we had only received one, as we had ordered two. As the day progressed, there were no further deliveries. But this morning, I came up the stairs just in time to hear a big truck drive away. I hadn't heard anyone at the door but peeked through the peep hole just to check. Sure enough! A second large package!

We have our mattresses! I am thrilled! I am definitely nesting. Our adoption has reached a point where I feel like we can finally see the end. I know we still have months more to wait, but there are only a few steps left. Unfortunately, those last few steps will take a long time, but there are still only a few - court, final immigration approval, and travel. That's it!

We set up the top mattress yesterday and the bottom one today. They are memory foam mattresses, so have to air for 48 hours before I can put anything on them. Tomorrow afternoon I can put the comforter on the top bunk! We have the pillows as well. We are just waiting on the sheets and pillowcases to arrive, sometime in mid July. Then I can wash everything and make the bed. I am happy just thinking about it...

Next up is to find a dresser. I've been thinking we'd look for a long dresser, one that is longer than it is tall. That way there will be plenty of surface space for a lamp and some books between bookends. When we get the sheets, we'll go shopping for curtains. We want to match the bed and the curtains but don't want to haul the comforter to the store... And at some point we'll look for something to hang on the wall. I'm trying to convince my husband that wall decals are a good idea. They are relatively cheap, don't require that we paint, are temporary, and we can replace them if she doesn't like it. Sounds like a win-win decorating idea to me!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monkey quilt progress

Jeff is taking certification exams every morning this week. He's out of the house for about two hours each day so I am planning to use that time to work on my monkey quilt. I didn't use that entire time this morning to quilt, but I did make some progress.

I added two strips of binding this morning and plan to add the other two tomorrow. Then I can add the borders! I'm excited to be making progress, no matter how small.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June quilting goal

I have not touched my quilting in several months. Earlier this year I was on a roll when I pieced an entire quilt top in several days. But then I got sick and have not touched it since.

Melissa at Sew BitterSweet Designs is hosting a challenge to finish something in the month of June. I want to return to the quilt that I am making for my nephew. The top is almost complete and I plan to have the quilt completed and shipped to my nephew by June 30.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Almost news

I thought I was going to have some news on the adoption process but am still waiting to hear back from my adoption agency. I suspect something big happened today but need confirmation.

In the meantime, look what arrived! The quilts for the bunk bed!

I can't put them on the bed yet because we still have a week or so to wait until the mattresses are delivered.

Hopefully there will be some good news tomorrow!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Small decorating steps

We made a tiny bit more progress toward decorating Zhi Zhi's room. Yesterday we drove to Seattle and visited the same mattress store we bought our mattress from. (Just a quick plug for Seattle Mattress Company - I love them!) We ordered mattresses, pillows, and mattress protectors for both beds. The pillows and protectors were available for us to bring home yesterday but the mattress has to be shipped from California and will arrive in about two weeks.

The pillows are on the bed. I can't resist, even though we don't have mattresses yet. The quilts have been shipped and will be delivered on Wednesday. But the matching sheets are on back order and won't arrive until mid-late July! It'll be almost two months until I can fully make the beds.

We also went shopping at The Sock Monster and bought a pair of socks for Zhi Zhi's next care package. I hope she likes pink!