Friday, August 31, 2012

Unfortunate delay.

You know...we did everything right and then some...and there was a delay of a full week.  We have made a conscious choice this entire journey to not stress, be anxious and just 100% leave it to God. I guess when the adoption process STARTS as His call and our surrender we realize it's really not about us...one little bit.  We do what we can, as best we can, as soon as we can...and He's got the final say.

NVC was supposed to email us the PDF version of our approval so things could get moving on the Article 5. (yah...no worries I don't get it all either but it's the final step of paperwork:).  Article 5 takes 2 weeks exactly. So if we had had the NVC pdf when it was approved....August 23...we would be half way through this Art. 5 process. But email after email, phone call after phone call, with them verifying that I was going to get the email any minute...I received the email the same day I received it in the actual mail. Not cool.  So we lost 1 full week.

Honestly my main reason for not wanting to lose a week is b/c of the trade fair in China in October. Hotel and flight prices jump and well...we'd love that not to happen for obvious reasons.

However...in the end...we did what we could when we could...to the best of our ability and here we are ...delayed a week.  :)

Perfect peace.


We went to Seattle a few nights ago to hear James MacDonald live at Mars Hill Church.  Like an arrow directed right at your heart...unapologetic truth. Right where you need it. When you need it.  Bam.

We also met our sweet friend Kristina and picked up our dressers for Zihao and Taizi's room. AdoRABLE.  The room is done!

Yesterday I finished Tirzah and Azahria's room. I'm not joking when I say I was audibly talking myself through it. "you can do this...you are so almost done...C'mon Janice!". Yah. That.  Please don't say "since you love it so much come help me paint"...I just may come help you paint but not because I love painting...but because I love you. That's for you miss Jenny.  ;) I hate painting walls. Truly hate it.  It's a strong word and it fits here.  I LOVe the finished project and I'm a do-er.  Love having things DONE and complete and feel ahhhhh.  But after 3 rooms...DONE.  No more painting. NONE.

Tirzah came in and saw it...and saw I was sweating and not having a blast and she came back up with a glass of room temperature orange pop.  Insert EWWWW here ;) but  it was the sweetest thing ever.  I drank it all and she was so adorable watching me. She kept asking if I was feeling more rested ;)

Zion came up and saw my paint can was empty and I had more to paint and he said "can we stop and pray Mommy?" so we did. We prayed for a little miracle that the paint would last. And it did. And he told the whole family it was because we prayed.

Today Dean is in court fighting some rediculous speeding ticket. You know...when you are going 55 in a 70 zone? And you get a ticket b/c the cop feels there may have been ice on the road? Yah. One of those.  So we'll see how he does.

I'm not sad to wave good bye to August. I feel like it was one of the craziest months ever. The Both Hands project was insane...it was so exhausting (and wonderful) and whew....and then the yard sale and then 2 dental surgeries and 6 dental appts...and working as hard as I can to help as many people as I can "change the game" for their families.  September....welcome.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's in my blood...

to get a good deal :)

Before I was even pregnant with Izrael I was hunting Craigslist for the stroller system I wanted. I finally found it in Portland (4hours from us).  The Quinny Buzz complete with bassinet and car seat.  The set was over $1100 retail and we paid $350.

Fast forward. Izrael is almost 18months old and we have used that set ... well.

I sold it on Craigslist today...for....you guessed it....$350.  Yes. I used a stroller system for FREE for 18 months.  How sweet is that...?

Then I turned around and bought a double stroller set that is $699...(!!) for $370 on ebay. Brand new...open box.  It's the Britax B Ready.  After all my research this is the one b/c both seats fully recline and we need that for Izrael and Taizi.

So...I got a steal 18 months ago...sold it and made 100% of my money back and bought a sweet system now...for $20 out of pocket.  Yes.  (pictured is last year's model but it's close enough)



Then...I sold Tirzah's bedroom set. Which was a mix match of stuff from over the years.  I sold it b/c there was a sweet deal at Costco on a Cafe Kid double bed.  Really...a sweet deal.  So with cash in hand from what I sold her stuff for...I headed to Costco only to be shocked that...it was completely sold out. Including the display. Uh oh.  I come home to look it up on Costco.com...yah...it was 90% MORE in price.  Fantastic.  It sells on ebay for $1100.  It was at Costco for $499. I call every Costco I can find and nope it's sold out.  I find one...in some random place 3 hours from here. They have a few left. And ... oh...it's not $499 in this store...it's $349...!  So we all load in the van, rearrange the seats and head out on this random road trip for a good deal.  The best part is we called my friend who said "can you buy 2 for us for our girls' room??"(because the best part of finding a deal...is sharing the deal with someone else! Love that we were able to help this family save so much money!) So we filled our van (quite literally) to the brim with 3 massive beds...and got home after midnight.  Only our family.  We are admittedly crazy...and enjoy our adventures ;)  

So there you go. I'm sure I made my mom proud tonight.  Making $ go a very long ways and in the end ...got an amazing stroller system for $20...and a brand new high quality bed for Tirzah and Azahria for $0 out of pocket b/c of what we sold what she had. 

I told you I'm nesting...right? 


Monday, August 27, 2012

He did it.

I have to back up.

Way up.

Almost 6 years ago...Azlan Honor was born.  It was the most painful birth ever.  He was posterior and had a huge square head...and I opted to go without meds.  I really thought I was going to die that night. And then...

I will never forget seeing the most beautiful face I had ever seen. The doctor kept checking to see if I was ok with what we were seeing.  I was...in love.  Something special had struck me that while each of our children were hand-crafted by God...there was something very special about this beautiful child.  No we didn't know about Goldenhar Syndrome...or deafness or anything else.  We knew only what we could see.

I'll back up 20 weeks earlier ...

It was my level 2 ultrasound. I had opted to go alone so we didn't have to hire a babysitter while Tirzah and Zion napped.  (we were poor...)  I will never forget...when I laid down on that bed I heard an audible voice say "your baby has a cleft". I popped up and whipped my head around and said "who said that??" the tech looked at me funny ... she kept asking if I was ok.  Yah. I was ok.  Who had just spoken to me...? My baby has a what...?

20 minutes later when my OB walked into the room...he placed one hand on my shoulder and bent low and whispered, "everything is ok...I'm here b/c it looks like your baby may have a cleft lip" I again whipped my head around and said "I KNEW THAT!"  I told him the story and he said "I have chills".

So this was God's graciousness to me.  He gave me a little peek into His view.  He already knew. He formed him.  I always held that memory close to my heart...as I knew God spoke to me that day.

One day I poured out my heart to an individual...someone we respect in the highest regard.  I will never forget something he said that day...he said "God doesn't make deformities.  God allows it...it's His permissive will.  He doesn't make anything defected.  I know this is hard to hear but it's true".  That day I cried and cried.  I felt like my whole theology shifted.  If what he said was true...then He just 'let' Azlan have a severe cleft lip and palate.  He didn't mold and form each part of him that way with His hands.  The image I had in my mind was God's assembly line. One of the workers shouts out "um...got a problem over here...this one ... come take a look!" God peaks over his shoulder and says..."you know...it's ok.  I can make that work. It's ok.  It will turn out for the best this way".   Permissive.  Versus God bending down with his fingers in the sand. With all the time in the world...with the most beautiful serene smile on his face and a twinkle in His eye...He takes His time and molds and forms each part.  When He gets to his mouth he purposefully takes His finger, He licks it to keep the dirt wet...and He pulls his lip up to his nose.  There. He stands back and says "yes...that's what I had in mind.  Perfect.  A work of art.  Beautiful.  Complete".Yes knowing he would be operated on...knowing it wouldn't be good to live that way his whole life...but fully, intentionally formed...on purpose.

Last week Dean and I watched a podcast by James MacDonald.  He's doing a series on "I AM". Finding your identity in God.  Powerful.  One message was on insecurity. He handled that topic better than I have ever heard.

He spoke of Moses.

Exodus 4:10-11

10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

You just don't know the effect that had on me. Deep inside my spirit.  He did make him that way. He chose to.  He didn't 'allow' it ... it wasn't His permissive will.  He formed him.  He did it.  

Then my mind went to Taizi and Zihao.  God did it.  God knew, God formed, God has a plan.  God loves using our 'weakness'.  We can't say "we did it!" when it's so very obvious that "he did it!" when there's victory in our lives...despite our obvious 'defect' or 'disability'.  

Maybe it's easy to miss the 'moments' to celebrate in our healthy children's lives. When Azlan says 'f' sound or 'g', 'l', 'n', 't', 'p', ...(can only dream of the day when he says 's')...it's a full on party in our house.  Why...? Because he has a huge disadvantage.  Isn't it the same to our Father...?  When we get down on our knees to pray and thank Him for what He has given us...the good and the bad...in the middle of the trial...I just wonder...does He feel the way I feel when I see that concentrated look on my son's face to say a sound he can hardly form his mouth to say...?  When things seem to be going far from the way we anticipated...and we pour our hearts out to our God and say "...but yet I trust You".  When we are tested in ways that seem humanly beyond what we can endure...and we make a choice to submit to "not my will...but Yours"...
He gets the glory.  In our weakness...in our inabilities...in our imperfections...His strength is made perfect.  

You did make Azlan's mouth.  You did make him deaf.  You did make him with a huge disadvantage to communicate.  Because You have a plan to use his weakness...Your strength...in his weakness...

With all the news about Taizi's health, that first smile will be celebrated in our house...like a 4.0 grade point average in another house.  Expectations change.  Hearts change.  You pause and celebrate each triumph.  Each victory is bigger...because of the weakness. It's beautiful.

He did it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

:)

We are still here! :)  Life has been busy...and I keep forgetting to blog.

In adoption news: I spoke to NVC (National Visa Center) today and they said we were entered in to their system today and to call tomorrow to see if there's an update...! We are so so close!  I think almost every other adoptive family I've spoken to says the longest wait is from LOA to TA (travel approval).  I think we are just really busy...because as much as we are longing to bring our babies home...this is flying by for us.  LID to LOA was long because you never know when...whereas right now at least we know we are moving forward (as opposed to just sitting in a stack on someone's desk).

The boys' room is ready. Not that they'll sleep in there.  Ahh..yes.  It's like being 8 months pregnant and NEEDING to get the baby room done...and the baby moves to her room at 16 months old.  Uhh...that's me.  :)

Today I decided to switch the boys (Zion, Zunduka, Chazano and Azlan's) room over to the girls...and vice versa.  Where was sound thinking when I needed it...?  Soooo...one room is almost done.  And that was the toughest room....the boys.  They are sleeping in their new room tonight. I moved both of their dressers to the walk in closet...painted the room with the left over blue paint from Taizi's and Zihao's room....and put the curtain up and then needed much help from Dean to take apart (as little as possible) and move the bunk beds. The only thing left is we are painting the back wall in stripes.  All of this room is being done at $0.  Sweet. Their closet still had half cans of paint from 3 years ago.  So the stripes will be Orange, baby blue and navy.  Same bedding. Same planet light. Etc.

The real question...why would we do this?  Well ... the boys room (now the girls) was 6" longer....not that big of a deal but it was more the placement of the room. The walls are better suited to where we can put a double bed and a toddler bed and have more open floor space.  The boys...I knew it would free up a lot of their room if we could put both dressers in the walk in closet.

So boys have 2 bunk beds, 2 dressers in closet and have a lot of open floor.  We will put probably 2 of those cheap Walmart or Target papasan chairs with their floor lamp and then eventually have a huge book rack on the wall.  Yes. Little boys that love to read ;)

In the girls: we will have 1 dresser, 1 double bed and Izrael's most adorable toddler bed that I bought Saturday at a yardsale for a song ;)

Ohhh...Saturday is an adoption yardsale.  I'll be honest...as much as I despise painting walls...I'd rather move rooms and paint walls than do a yard sale.  Dis. Like.  But..it's what we should do.  We are still quite a bit financially short and are going to do what we can.

The Both Hands Project is still open. I know the letter said August 14...but they are absolutely still receiving donations on our behalf.  This project has been amazing and has raised so much of the funds needed to bring our boys home.  We are so so close.

The donate button is on the left of the page which allows you to donate directly to Lifesong (tax deductible) and goes right to our "account" and is paid out to our agency for our fees.

If you prefer...you can send payment to:

Lifesong For Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL
61744.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

A brand new room...on a budget!

Today I did Zihao and Taizi's new room!  This room has been in my head for a while!  I planned ahead and each time I went to the West Side for business I searched Craigs List for deals on the furniture we were looking for.

The furniture is IKEA Mammut.  For the 2 beds, mattresses and night table we paid $195 on CL.  The price in IKEA is $390.

We bought the dressers on CL in Seattle area (still sitting at a friends house in Seattle area) for $100 for both. Retail is $360.

Entire room to paint was ONE can of paint! How crazy is that? the red wall took 2 coats (paint was Olympic ONE at Lowes) and the blue was one coat.  Half of a gallon of each color total. = $27 in paint.

We did buy the curtains, rug and bedding new at Ikea.

The finished product is below.

I cannot wait to see our 2 little boys in there very soon!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's a great day.

This morning we were all out the door by 8am and on the way to the dentist.  Dean dropped me, AP, Izrael, Tirzah and Zunduka off and took the other 3 with him to the City Hall for permits and other errands.  He texted me at 9:45 and asked if I was near done. Well today they were running behind so no. Zunduka has just gotten his needle and still needed 3 teeth filled.  Dean then told me the concrete guys called and needed him there NOW (this was way ahead of schedule) soooo he raced back and set all the posts for his job with the 3 boys and I....was stuck :) Dean suggested we walk to Target. A significant walk...with a baby and no stroller ;) But the day was beautiful it wasn't too hot yet and so we did. Izrael laid on my shoulder the entire walk, I thought she was asleep!

Zunduka did amazing. The dentist said he's never had a patient like him. Did not flinch with the needles etc, yet when I lifted his sunglasses of him he was totally crying.  That "Zambian culture" of do-not-show-pain ....? :) Not sure but he was really tough! So he is now done until his next 6mth cleaning.  One at a time, we are getting them done.

We got to Target and well...don't drop me off at Target for a few hours! :)  Actually I purchased 5 Christmas gifts (couldn't resist) that were $34.99 down to $5.50 and $29.99 down to $3.50. Seriously? Yes!

Dean went home, showered and picked us up at Target. Izrael fell asleep instantly in the van.  We headed to the Richland Post Office for passport stuff. I walk in and the lady promptly informs me despite what it says online, it's appt only. RRRRR. She then says the next appt is end of next week. RRRRR.  I ask if I can just talk to the officer she's like "FINE!". The lady peeks out and it 'just so happens' to be the lady that knows us and loves us!  She says "Janice Walker...what are you doing here?? I just saw you on the news!" I tell her I need a passport for my baby and we are all here and I have everything ready...she said "oh I'd never turn you away! I'll be right out!" Aahhh. I say a quick prayer thanking God for a 'small' gift...and run across the street to help get 7 kids out and in the post office. Izrael didn't even budge and definitely didn't wake. We paid the expediting fee, she waived $20 of it ...and $174 poorer, we walked out ... DONE!

Dean opted to take us all to lunch for soup and salad after that adventure. Then we did Costco...and are just home at 5pm.

In between there I emailed Logan from Lifeline and asked her if she would contact our i800 officer for an update. She called him and he said it JUST arrived from the lock box location into his hands and he already APPROVED both of them and put them in the mail!!!! We will receive them in a few days!

Thank you, God.  Thank you.  I know how much we want Zihao and Taizi home and I can't imagine how much YOU want them home.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Both Hands Project

You know..you plan and plan and work and make calls...and plan...and then the day comes and goes. And wow...it was amazing.  We finally have our slide show ready.  Please take a moment to watch it...you pause it at any time on the bottom right hand side to read the texts if you need to. Thank you for taking the time to watch it.  It is definitely not too late to donate your tax deductible gift (you can see how at the end of the slideshow) You can easily do this by clicking the DONATE button on the left hand side of this blog.

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Happenings.

Monday morning I noticed our i800 check cleared the bank. I called Lifeline today and they confirmed that means it is out of the lock box and we should have an approval any day! It was expedited! We were told it had to sit in a lock box for 2 weeks but it sat about a week.

Also today we received our passports back...with Chinese Visas in them!


That was really good news b/c we were going on a prayer that it would work since the new changes were effective August 1. Well we seemed to get through!

We also had little Miss Izrael's passport photos done:





Not because she's as cute as can be...though true...but ... b/c it is highly likely she's coming to China with us.  So we need to be prepared. We will go ahead and get her passport and Chinese visa and that way we are ready to go.


Other happenings:  we are slammed busy.  Dean is working such long days and it's so hot and ... well our AC still isn't working and well... yah.  We are practicing attitudes of gratitude... :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Looooong days.

Dean has been working at this job this last week...where the client is...lovely ;)  She's up at the crack of dawn and she likes her hired contractor to be there at that same time. It's been hot. Very hot. Dean's giving in to her requests.  These last few days the kids haven't seen him and when I do...he's so out of it that it doesn't count.

This is when I'm thankful for 8pm bedtimes.  :) The house is quiet. Kids are reading in their beds. Tirzah is drawing in her sketch book. The house is clean.  I have a mug of coffee ice cream.  The dishwasher is running.  And I'm trying not to think of what I have to do before 11am tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning is our interview with the local news.  She has to get 2 sound bites and ... I don't think Dean can be home. So tonight at dinner I was asking the kids some questions to see who would be best suited. Oh...it was funny. They would get silly and blurt out "how exciting we are going to be on TV!!!!" and honestly Tirzah would totally say that while being filmed ;) I think Tirzah is out.  haha. Zunduka is very articulate and thinks his thoughts through ... and if he taps his chin with his long finger to think..that would be even better;)  So....I'm thinking Zunduka is the one.

She wants to tape the kids playing as well soooo that means the playroom needs some work tonight too. It doesn't ALWAYS get left in showroom condition...;)

This morning we did the dentist.  8am appt. Me solo with the fab 7.  Our dentist office is FUN that's a big part of it.  We got there...I had to fill one million forms (for 3 kids).  I loved the set up...all the kids sat on a bench with me with 3 of the kids lined up in chairs all beside each other for their cleanings! Perfect. They even had 6 or 7 chairs there...wonder if they'd reserve the whole room for us next time...?

The dentist was the best. He is Canadian and his name is Dr. Walker.  There you go! He has 5 kids and frankly...thinks I'm crazy.  We had a good long talk because...well...we'll be seeing more of him.  My poor kids. Of all the good things to inherit with the Procopio bloodline...teeth is not one of them.  I seemed to skip the problem-enamel but my kids so far...got it. Zion has LOTs of surface cavities.  Tirzah has a massive hole in her tooth ... they will remove that tooth and work on the rest of the cavities. Azlan...poor Azlan. He hated the dentist. Everything was gross he said ;)  Azlan's teeth are...beautiful :) He has a full underbite due to the cleft palate.  And teeth that have merged together because of the cleft in his jawline.  Much decay. The dentist may remove some teeth.  He will be put out under a general. So 3 kids...3 dental surgeries. Yes...I do have 4 more kids to go for their check ups...!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Update on Both Hands coming soon.

As many of you know...we did our Both Hands Project on Saturday. What a day. An amazing day.  Update and photos are coming soon we are just trying to get it all together so we can do a slide show. 

By now many of you have received the Both Hands sponsorship letter in the mail~please take the time to read it and do what you feel is right in your heart. 

Tonight I found this story online.  This is Mr. English...who I had the honor of meeting Sunday evening.  I have to say...I felt like I was in the presence of an angel as we talked.  This is Troy's dad (Steffani's father in law). 

http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2011/10/10/1673278/richland-christian-counselor-lost.html

We are in a complete heat wave here this week, which means the yard sale will be postponed. I don't see how we could possibly do what we need to do in 105 degree temps.

Many of you are asking what we are waiting on right now. We are waiting on i800 approvals which may take several weeks. We also sent our Chinese Visa applications off and despite huge changes that were enforced August 1...which would delay visas at the very end of the process (after Travel Approvals) our courier managed to get ours pushed through! They will be fedexed back to us on Monday.

If this post sounds exhausted...well...then...you have read me well. :)  A good exhausted...but exhausted none the less.  :)  Dean is working insane hours (6am to 9pm today)...our AC didn't function all day today b/c it froze over...and at 10 pm it's still over 94 degrees out. So our indoor temp was 86-88 degrees all day. Yes...yes it was. And I consciously made a choice to have joy today....many times :)

Goodnight all.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Something much bigger than yourself.

I hope you have had the opportunity to be a part of something like that before.  What a humbling experience. You anticipate this small scale struggle as you work so hard but you receive a community...literally a community of people.  Believers and unbelievers. All together for one cause. Project English-Walker.

Today we were given so many gifts. They come in many forms.  Today my cousin's wife, Alisa Netti just outdid herself. She lives near Seattle (4 hours away from us) and that didn't slow her down one bit! She got the kitchen sink donated yesterday. She got a steal on a box of paint brushes.  She called several Subway locations, relentlessly...until one agreed to donate lunch tomorrow. She then decided to call that same manager back and asked if she would donate more.  Lesson: never-know-till-you-ask!  No hesitation! Absolutely! 3 party platters of subs to feed 30 people and platter of Subway cookies!  She called our local Starbucks and got coffee and large jugs of water supplied.  She called Little Caesars and got 10 large pizzas donated for dinner tomorrow night.

Gifts.

Alisa...you were a gift today.  From my heart...thank you.

I texted 4 people to see if they could watch our kids today while I ran out and got more supplies.  Heather...who just so happens to be a mom of 6 kids...dropped everything and came over. She didn't just 'come over'. She came over and was excited to help. I came home to a shiny clean kitchen.

Gifts.

Heather...you were a gift today. As a mom of 7 kids...I know the sacrifice you made today. Thank you.

Craig works full time at a stressful job.  He has volunteered to spending his weekend off tomorrow with us working all day at Steffani's home.  Craig came home tonight and got a pressure washer and worked so hard washing down Steffani's fence.  He was hot and sweating...and happy to be helping.  It is 8:45pm right now as I type and Dean is over there pressure washing with Craig. He's still at it.

Gifts.

Craig (and Tamara)...you were a gift today.  Humbly...thank you.

Roy owns his own plumbing and restoration business. His wife is 41 weeks pregnant with child number...7...? (I think).  Roy worked all day today at Steffani's home...installing faucets and fixing non stop running toilets.  I stopped by this afternoon and brought him a Frappe (it looked like it was needed ;).  He's working hard today b/c his wife hopes to have their baby tomorrow.

Gifts.

Roy and Sarah...you were a gift today.  Your sacrifice was noticed.  Thank you.

Sandie is on her way home from Canada with 6 kids loaded into a vehicle for a 32 hour road trip (ugh).  At the drop of a hat she called me whenever I texted her today needing a lifeline.  Sometimes you just need an ear to vent into. I was able to hang up and was ready to go feeling like my burden was (a tad;) lighter.

Gifts.

Sandie...your friendship is a gift to me.  Thank you for you.

Dean owns his own construction company. We have chosen to stay small-scale and run with no employees.  Less hassle-less overhead-less stress.  Dean has a huge job right now...(blessing!) with a firm time line.  He worked from sun up this morning til 5pm today...he's pressure washing with Craig with a headlamp. The client said it has to be done by tomorrow b/c she's moving in with her dogs.  Dean will work all day tomorrow at Steffani's and work all evening at the job completing the fence for his client. Dean is one of the hardest workers I know.  He came home and ate dinner so fast that he texted me later saying his stomach hurt.  He is a father to 7...to our 7.  He can't wait to bring Zihao and Taizi home.  He's my gift.

Gifts.

Dean...I appreciate all you have done today.  You can watch all the olympics you want on Sunday. I won't interrupt once. (gulp).  ;)   I love you. You are a gift to me.

I'm thankful I learned (even if it took a long time) that gifts come in all packages. Most frequently in the form of people.  For each of you that took time to send a note today and encourage us...you are a gift.

Kirsten, Leanne, Erin, Jenny, Heather...

Thank you.

We are going to make tomorrow a day to remember.  Let's give Steffani the surprise of her life when she comes home Sunday and let's....yes...let's bring our babies home!




Thursday, August 2, 2012

Project. Exhaustion. :)

This Both Hands Project is coming together and we are so excited about what's going to happen on Saturday.  I also know what total exhaustion is like.  Yes I have 7 young children and yes...you would think I have experienced total exhaustion before...coming home from Africa with jet leg and 2 little boys with lots of hurdles...but I don't have memories of exhaustion.  This...this...I'm thinking is getting close to exhaustion. ;)

On to business:  We have made huge strides with local suppliers (is it them or us that works well under pressure...? ;) and things are almost to the point where we can take a huge deep breath. But..not quite.  A local plumbing supplier didn't get back to us today so we are up in the air on all the faucets until tomorrow. That's about $400 worth for us to purchase so we are praying he helps us out.

Today we did get lots accomplished.  Besides playing soccer, feeding 7 children, and attempting to not look as exhausted as I feel...we got a yes from Mustang Signs who is donating a large 4' x 8' custom Both Hands banner with a list of all of our local merchant donors to hang on the house on Saturday. How cool is that?  We got a go ahead (that we were not expecting) from Central Pre Mix for all the supplies needed for our curbing.  We got a huge go ahead from Parr Lumber for not only the fence boards for the fence repair but all of the stain for the fence. The stain was a must do b/c it's one of the few projects that we can use families and young children for. Dean met with Natural Beauty who gave their professional opinion on landscaping and donated all of the weed barrier for our landscaping.  He also met with All Year Tree Service (Dean has commented several times that "he was awesome"...thought you'd like that Ariane ;)...and boy he's doing a ton of work for us!!  Steffani went to Mac Nurseries and picked out her plants and even had a plan drawn up how she wants the front landscaping to look.  Of all of the nearly dead plants we are removing I think it's special that she has 2 beautiful rose bushes that are from her late husband, Troy. We will be taking good care of those plants and making sure they are in a special place for her family.
Dean met with Artistic Curbing and they planned their design for the yard.
We got in contact with Subway and are waiting to hear back from the owner tomorrow regarding possible food donations to our team.

I was interviewed by the TriCity Herald as they are publishing our story, I spent 20 minutes on the phone with KNDU local news who may be covering our story if they have time on Saturday.  He called me back and said "regardless of whether or not our crew can make it out Saturday...we were all very touched by the story of your family and wondered if you are open to us running a story simply on your family in the coming weeks".  We agreed. We are such very ordinary people...humbled to be living an extraordinary life.

I spoke to Lifeline today. They received my package this morning and confirmed it was all filled out correctly.  She spoke to our i800 officer and he said there is no way he can expedite through the 'lock box' process. Yes our file will sit in a box for 1-2 weeks.  Seems like such a waste of time but we know God can put it in the right hands and they can choose to push it through.  He did say the moment it comes to him, it will be processed.

Logan (lifeline) talked about our trip today. That is weird...it's all so real and so happening now.  She said b/c of our children's location we will fly into Hong Kong.  We will pick Taizi up first and then to Guangdong to Zihao.  Our plan is to go a few days early to make sure we are adjusted to time change, rested and ready to welcome the challenges that lay ahead. So exciting!  And yet...I can already feel that gnawing inside of me of leaving our children.  Too familiar.  Africa isn't that long ago...

Tonight I loaded up the kids and went to Sonic where they have a huge dish of icecream for $.50. Yes. If you are looking for the deals out there ask a large family. They should have them figured out :) My friend (mom of 6) just shared with me that Applebees has family night on Tuesday nights where with one paying adult, 4 children get a kids meal for only $.99 each :)  See...we make that dollar stretch ;)  So for $3...I had 6 very happy children. I went and mailed off several parcels (love that self mailer machine!), delivered a baby gift to my friend...came home and bathed 3 of the 7 kids.  Doctored owies and warts (literally) and kissed them goodnight.  Came downstairs and wrote out 20 more sponsor letters as Dean was loading the dishwasher.


Perhaps we should be going to a local massage therapist to see if they will consider donating a spa day once this project is all over.... ;) Ahhhh.

Goodnight friends.