Sunday, February 26, 2006

Amazing Generosity of a Friend!

Last August a friend found out about my adoption plans and was thrilled to hear the news! Shortly after that, I received an email from her again sharing her excitement. She also offered something totally amazing! She has offered me the clothes that her little girl out grows. Wow! What a wonderful offer and one I was so happy to accept.

I still remember being a little girl and receiving bags of clothes at various times from my older cousin. It was like Christmas each time I opened a bag and pulled out my new wardrobe. I always loved clothes shopping with my Mom but getting Patty Ann's hand-me-downs was a treat too.

When I went to Lori's a couple of weeks ago she had 2 diaper boxes (fun packaging to me!) filled to overflowing with beautiful baby girl clothes for Hannah! It was fun to touch and hold each piece both when she showed them to me and also when I unpacked them and hung some in the closet. They're so tiny! It's hard to believe that next year I will have a daughter who will be wearing these beautiful clothes.

Thank you Lori!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Breakfast with Friends

Going back to sleep after 2 1/2 hours of snowy driving just wasn't happening so I joined my friends Japhia and her Mom (Grandma) for breakfast before heading to a friend's place to scrapbook for the day. In the past we tried to get together for b'fast once a month but this was the first time in a number of months that it worked out. It was good to spend time with them.

Winter...It's Not Going Anywhere

I knew it was too good to be true. It's been a milder wthan normal winter but this morning we were reminded that it's only February and there's still 3 more weeks until Spring 'officially' arrives.

Normally I don't mind the snow and today wasn't really any different other than I did an airport run at 3am for my parents. Somehow, 3AM + snowy, slippery roads + parents leaving for a 12 day cruise = not liking the snow too much!

Have a great trip Mom and Dad! Soak up some sun for us ok?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Gift for Hannah

When I arrived at work last Friday I went to visit my friend Norma at her desk for our quick(?) morning chat and coffee. She greeted me with this adorable lamb and beautiful card. The card has a picture of precious, tiny baby feet on the front and says, 'Imagine where they'll go!' I'm sure it's no surprise that this made me cry which in turn caused her to tear up and once again we shed tears of joy together at the thought of baby Hannah. Norma has been by my side from day 1 of this adoption journey and we've shed many tears together, both happy and sad, as I've sought God's leading and will for this adoption journey. She is such a wonderful friend and I am blessed to have her in my life! Love ya Norma!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Disney Trip - Day 6 (Thurs. Dec 15th)

Thursday began back at Disney-MGM Studios, taking in some of the attractions we’d missed on Tuesday. As usual, characters were a big hit and we spent time vising with them first thing in the morning. We went to the new Stunt Show and it was a real treat! We were able to see how they film exciting car chases and the like and the show even featured ‘Herbie the Love Bug!’ I remember going to Herbie movies as a little girl and now Becca was enjoying them too. It’s fun when things like movies span the generations as we’re able to enjoy them together.

Sully was a little too big for Boo but she enjoyed standing close to Mike!

The afternoon found us making our way back to Magic Kingdom in time for our lunch with Pooh and Friends at the Crystal Palace. Realizing the only time we’d be able to see the MK parade was only an hour after our lunchtime reservation, Auntie Cathy parked the stroller on the parade route and we headed in for lunch. The Crystal Palace is a beautiful restaurant and if you’re a lover of anything ‘Pooh’ then it’s the place for you to eat! Having booked a late reservation, once again the restaurant was not completely full which led to more time for character interaction. (If you like your food hot, then a character meal is not for you. I think I averaged 1-2 bites between character visits which was just fine with me.) It was all worth it to see the enjoyment and excitement on Rebecca’s face! It was so neat that after seeing the same characters day after day and meeting them....often!....she still got just as excited when one would walk into the room and even more excited when they arrived at our table!

After lunch we went back to our stroller and arrived just minutes before the parade arrived! Perfect timing! Squeaky Pooh and Becca had front row seats for this wonderful Disney spectacle!

By this point in our trip we’d done pretty much all of the things we’d wanted to and set to revisiting some of our favourites. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that that included visiting the characters...for about the 10th time! Oh well, when she’s older we may do more rides, for now it’s all about the characters and for me, it’s whatever she wants. A little spoiled? Yes? Worth it? YES!!!

This picture of Becca and Mickey says it all! When we stepped into the room for our visit she was just kept jumping, gasping and letting out little squeals of excitement! The photographer thought she was hilarious and recommended she ‘BREATHE!’ so that she wouldn’t pass out before it was her one-on-one time with the infamous mouse! Mickey didn’t disappoint!

By this point in the week she was finally becoming more comfortable with Goofy. It took quite a while for her to let him touch her but eventually he won her trust. Normally she’d ask Goofy’s helper to ask him to be ‘serious.’ That’s pretty tough for a guy named, ‘Goofy!’

After leaving MK we took the Monorail to the Grand Floridian to check out their infamous Gingerbread House! Wow! It’s ingredients include:
1,050 lbs. of honey
140 pints of egg whites
600 lbs. of powdered sugar
700 lbs. of chocolate
800 lbs. of flour
35 lbs. of spices
Plus, Tons of Creativity, Disney Magic and Pixie Dust!

We did buy a couple of cookies. Who wouldn’t after seeing and smelling such a tasty treat?

Thursday night was our last visit to Downtown Disney and souvenir shopping was the theme of the evening. We had fun looking for treats to take home to family and friends but as this picture clearly shows, it was a long day and bedtime couldn’t come soon enough!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Where Do They Get Their Energy?

I just spent a great evening babysitting my niece (almost 7) and nephew (16 mos.) Let me tell you...I'm in so much trouble next year! Where do they get their energy and how come they can so easily feed off one another when they're 5+ years apart in age! :o) I babysat at their place thinking, 'It's babyproofed...that will make it easier.' Babyproofed it was, toddler proofed - no! How exactly do you proof a house from a 16 month old who feels the fastest way off the couch is face first? Feet? Nah...they're for running with! Run there...bump into walls...then run some more! He has one speed that little guy does and it's somewhere close to the Coyote in the cartoons I watched as a kid!

Around 8 he finally slowed down a little and changed from running to creating 'music' with the pots and pans in the kitchen. Do you know that 3 frying pans and 1 sauce pan make a lot of noise when they're being pulled out and dropped on one another for about the 25th time? I was surprised and entertained by the sheer number of times he enjoyed opening the drawer, pulling out the pans, putting them back, closing the door and then starting all over again. It was hilarious! Wish I'd kept count as it was a bunch of times and the only thing that slowed this little guy down was me deciding 8:30 was bedtime!

We moved upstairs where I attempted to help Rebecca get ready for bed. K would go for the book case when my back was turned and then as I went to put the books back he ran full speed down the hall, giggling all the while! He's adorable but my goal was to return him to his parents in the same form they gave him to me in - one piece without bruising!

It's now time for me to go to bed and time to dream of baby gates and toddler proofing this joint! I've realized tonight that it's going to take far more planning than this naive first-time Mom ever thought!

PS - I also found out that toys are totally unnecessary when there are pots, pans, TV remotes and Tupperware to play with! Who needs a $50.00 toy when there's such an array of cool (did I mention NOISY?) things already waiting in hiding behind kitchen cabinet doors?

How Did I Celebrate?

I spent a lot of last evening either chatting with friends on the phone or online. I'm sure none of you are surprised by that!

Also, chocolate was definitely the order of the day! Gotta love chocolate! It's great for celebrating...consoling...feeding a craving. Let's be honest....Chocolate is good anytime!!! Right Mary-Mia?

I also stopped at Wal-Mart last night and bought materials to make a tag blanket. My friend Michelle made one for her daughter a few years ago and she and the blanket are still inseparable. I'll post a picture when I finish it, hopefully sometime this weekend.

While at Wal-Mart I found myself wandering into/making a beeline to the baby dept. I looked at, touched, ooohed and ahhed over a number of adorable outfits. So much to choose from but what size? Deciding to play it safe (for today...can't promise about tomorrow) I bought something every Mom needs...diapers!
Not sure what size to go with I chose size 3 that fits 16-28lbs. Should my precious little bundle weigh more than 28lbs. I'm gonna be in big trouble! Better start weight training today if that's the case!

As I write this it's been a little more than 24 hours since I heard of my approval and I can still be found floating around the office. Still celebrating and still so thankful to God for allowing me the priviledge of becoming a Mom via this extra special way!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

YEAH!!! Received Ministry Approval!!!

I'm thrilled to tell you that I have received Ministry Approval!!!

I spoke with Deborah at Open Arms this morning and she congratulated me on this HUGE step towards baby Hannah and I becoming a Forever Family!

Ministry approval is one of the biggest steps in the adoption process. Kinda a make-it-or-break-it time. Should for whatever reason the Ministry have chosen not to approve me, my adoption would have ground to a halt and it would have been over. Also, once a file goes to China their approval is based upon my Ministry approval. As long as Ontario has given the go-ahead then they won't stop it. Phew! You can quickly understand why this approval was so very important!

I'm sure you want to know, 'What's next?' Deborah informed me that she picked up 4 approvals yesterday so with the ones she already has she has enough to form a travel group. Once again....yeah! (There is also another single lady in my travel group which is nice.) Our group of files will go to Open Arms' lawyer early next week for him to approve, certify, etc. and then they should be ready to send to China (Dossier to China - DTC) in mid-March. Normally it takes about 2 weeks from the time the files leave Canada for them to be Logged with the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs). Once a file is logged, the official countdown begins! The current wait from LID to referral is approx. 9-10 months. I could be getting a daughter for Christmas this year! I don't care if it's just a picture in will be a picture of MY DAUGHTER!!

Thank you to all of you who have been bathing this entire process in prayer. I appreciate your prayers and ask that you please continue to pray for Hannah, the adoption process and also for myself. I am so thankful that God is leading this adoption and holding both Hannah and I in His loving arms already!

I'll be sure to keep you posted as things progress over the next few weeks!

Have to go… the !!! key on my computer is beginning to wear out after this post….!!! :o)

Celebrating Today!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tool Girl and Valentine's Day

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

Yesterday I often found myself daydreaming about next Valentine’s Day. Will I be celebrating it with my daughter? Oh what a special day that would be! If timeframes remain the same (Who am I kidding? They change monthly!) I could be traveling to China next February and holding Hannah in my arms for the very first time! These days I find with almost everything I do that happens on a yearly basis, wondering to myself….Will she be here by this time next year? There are a lot of perks to adopting vs. pregnancy - Seeing my toes, Not needing an epidural for 2 weeks before my due date so as to ‘breeze through the birth’ haha! etc. but I’m finding the uncertainty of the timeframe vs. 9 months a little tough at times! My first ‘serious’ wait has been for Ministry approval. In November the approvals were taking 4 weeks so this 11 week wait I’m on seems like forever! It’s like a car ride – if you’re prepared for a 2 hour trip and get stuck in rush hour traffic a short trip can seem like forever. But if you’re prepared for a 2 day drive to Florida, 2 hours is nothing! I was prepared for a 2 hour drive and I think I’m almost in Florida! Bring on that Ministry approval!

Last evening I built a little bookshelf I’d bought just after Christmas. Since my niece was born I’ve slowly been collecting children’s books and now that Hannah is on the way, that trend is continuing. As I was putting in the screws (and then taking them back out to add a piece that needed to be assembled first) I thought back to another Valentine’s day work project and laughed at myself.

Go back in time with me 9 years. I’d been a homeowner for 5 short weeks and was excited to be independent, which included trying my hand at minor house repairs. Soon after moving into my new home, the squeaky floors began to sing out their not so sweet tunes each time I walked across the floors. Deciding to fix this problem I began to investigate options for removing squeaks from floors that are covered in wall-to-wall carpeting. I heard on TV (believe it or not, this was before my introduction to the Internet!) that by using ‘some-kind-of-nail’ I could bang a nail right through the carpeting and into the stud. Voila…no more squeaky floors! Problem: How do I find a stud? So that week I was on a mission and was off to ‘Canadian Tire’ to buy the fixins for fixin’ da floors! Here I am, Tool Girl Extraordinaire, browsing the aisles of the hardware store, looking for a ‘stud finder.’ What exactly is a stud finder? Where do I find one? Is it smaller than a thimble or bigger than a breadbox? As I browsed the aisles that contained more kinds of nails than should be allowed, I began to laugh right out loud! Here I am, single girl, searching for a stud finder on Valentine’s Day! I eventually found one, bought it and was still chuckling to myself over the coincidence of dates.

Deciding this story needed to go one step further, that evening I attached the package with the stud finder still in it, to a lanyard and wore it around my neck to Bible Study. Everyone looked at me funny when I walked in with this thing around my neck and quickly asked, ‘What’s that?’ I was quick to tell them it was a ‘Stud Finder’ and that it couldn’t find a single one in the room! They laughed and enjoyed the joke. We got along great and enjoyed having fun with one another.

Fast forward to February 2006 and the current score is:
Squeaks – still too many to count
Stud Finder – Zero!

Oh well….more chocolate for me and no obligation to share it! :o)

Monday, February 13, 2006

'Bring Me Hope'

As time draws closer to my file winging it's way to China, I often wonder if my daughter has been born yet? Is she still safe and warm, protected within her birth mother? Has she been born and is still with this wonderful woman as she prepares to make the greatest sacrifice of her life? Could today be the day she is wrapped warmly, placed in a safe place and watched from a distance until she if found and taken to an orphanage? Is she already in an orphanage being cared for by nannies who love her? Has she been placed in foster care to spend her early days as part of a family?

I won't have answers to these questions for almost a year, but what I know brings me peace when my heart aches. I know that wherever she is, God is watching over her, caring for her, hearing her every cry and feeling her every breath on His cheek. I cannot physically hold her in my arms right now, so I'll try to be content holding her in my heart.

The following link is to a wonderful video called, 'Bring Me Hope.' Grab a tissue and enjoy. (The 7 min. version is wonderful!) Video: Bring Me Hope.

My daughter is one starfish that because of God's great love and provision in my life, I will make a difference for.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dossier Approved - Just Waiting for Ministry Approval

I received an email this morning from Deborah at Open Arms letting me know that she'd received and reviewed my Dossier and it's complete and ready to go! Yeah!!!

The wait for Ministry approval is 10 weeks today and the current wait times are 10-13 weeks so hopefully that means I'll be approved sometime in February. Woohoo!!!

I'll be sure to let you know when the approval is received....if you don't hear me whooping it up before you read it!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

To Track or Not To Track?

Uh oh! I can already tell I'm going to be in BIG trouble come referral time! I've often read of friends anxiously tracking their referral packages, seemingly wishing a GPS was attached so they could follow it up every street and around every corner. Did I think I'd be the same? Yes!

(On a sidenote....having watched many people's videos of the UPS guy delivering their referral packages, these people should get 'Danger Pay!' A normal, quiet delivery is often met with an anxious, tear filled parent running down the sidewalk, accepting the package and hugging this poor unsuspecting delivery guy! Wonder how many UPS guys are used to having their picture and video taken during an average day? Probably not many but it happens with referrals and I plan on being just the same! Ooooo....can't wait!!)

Back to my original post. For myself, I didn't anticipate was how soon the 'tracking bug' would hit me! Yesterday I checked on my Dossier's trip to Toronto (about 30km) at least 5 times! If I've got the tracking bug already I'm not sure how I'll stand it come referral time.

Hmmm....wonder if anyone has figured out how to put a GPS tracking device on the stork from China? Can we strap a webcam around his neck as he flies my baby's picture home to Canada for the very first time?

PS - Just received notification from Canada Post that my Dossier was delivered to my agency yesterday morning! Woohoo! Doing the happy dance!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Disney Trip - Day 5 (Wed. Dec 14/05)

Warning! I'm a Disney fanatic as this post will quickly display. If you're not into sappy, you might want to skip this one! ;o)

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny. It was a perfect day for my Princess to dine with her Princess friends in the castle! Our coach (literally!) arrived at 7:15 and whisked us away to the Magic Kingdom (MK). This morning was going to be exactly that...magical!!! We were first in line and due to our early dining reservation were able to enter the MK more than an hour before it opened for the day! It was a scrapbooker's dream as I was able to snap several pictures of Rebecca, dressed appropriately in her Cinderella dress and carrying her beloved 'Squeaky Pooh' walking up Main Street without another person in sight! As I tried to focus through the tears that filled my eyes and goose bumps that covered my arms, I took several pictures of my precious niece living out a dream. (Well...a dream of mine. She's too young to know how special this was.) Breakfast reservations at the castle are next to impossible to get as they normally sell out within 3-5 mins. of them becoming available 180 days prior to the reservation date. To be honest, the day I called it was 7:10 when my call was answered by a cast member at Disney Dining so I didn’t even ask about breakfast but went right to lunch. She offered me an 8:05 breakfast reservation if I wanted it and I gasped with excitement already planning the pictures! ( sounds a little extreme but any of you scrapbookers know exactly what I mean! ;o)

As other people also enjoyed the photo opportunities the empty MK offered, a girl asked me if I'd like her to take a picture of R and I together in front of the castle. As she took my camera, got down onto her stomach(!) to take this picture I immediately commented, 'You scrapbook don't you!' She smiled and said, 'Yes! You too?' We are a crazy bunch but with a picture like this, it's all about getting the perfect angle to capture us as well as the castle in the shot!

As we entered the grand salon Cinderella herself was there to welcome us, sign autographs and pose for pictures. We were then guided up a winding stone staircase and led to a table that looked out over Fantasyland. Pinch me...I think I must be dreaming!

As we dined we were visited by Belle, Mary Poppins, Princess Aurora and Wendy. What fun! Each princess took time with Princess R to talk with her, comment on her beautiful dress, her great colouring in her autograph album and also to pose for pictures. Breakfast was a feast of fresh fruit, waffles, potatoes, eggs, bacon and sausage. A breakfast fit for royalty and for just a moment that was us!

We left 'our' castle just as the park was opening and headed to ‘Tinker Bell’s Treasures.’ I’d read that each morning a child is allowed to wake-up Tinker Bell after her night of peaceful slumber. When we entered the store one of the cast members told us that unfortunately we were a little late and that Tinker Bell had already been wakened for the day. Another member gently commented that he thought Tinker Bell had fallen asleep again so R could have an opportunity to wake her too. They placed a stool beside Tinker Bell’s box, handed R a special wand and asked her to tap the box while saying, ‘Wake up Tinker Bell’ 3 times. Sure enough, upon the 3rd tap bells rang out (like those Disney books on tape I used to read, asking me to turn the page) and right before our eyes, the lights ran up the wall and Tinker Bell was once again ready to meet her public for the day! A fun experience and once again, a memory maker. R was given an official certificate stating that she had officially woken Tinker Bell on December 14, 2005.

While we browsed the store I noticed a cute little ‘Baby Mulan’ doll that I decided was just too cute to pass up. I paid for it and then arranged for it and R’s certificate to be sent to the package pick-up desk at our hotel. A free service Disney offers for it’s resort guests and a nice treat not having to carry it around the parks for the day.

When we left the store the crowds were still small so we decided to ride like crazy! We enjoyed the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella's Golden Carrousel, Mickey's PhilharMagic, Peter Pan's Flight and Magic Carpets of Aladdin...all before 10am! (A note to others who may arrive at the MK early - I've been told that Mickey himself rides the very first ride of Dumbo each morning! Had I known that we would have gone there but we have to leave something for next time don't we?)
Before leaving the MK for the day we visited the ‘The Country Bear's Jamboree.’ They were all decked out for the season wearing their Christmas finery and singing Christmas tunes. A fun change.

Deciding it was time to visit Disney-MGM Studios, we hopped on the Walt Disney World Railroad and made our way to the front gates of the park. A monorail and bus ride later we were at the studios! This was R's favourite park last time because it offered many characters as well as it was the home of 'Playhouse Disney.' She was really excited to be there. Ready to be an everyday girl again she traded in her formal attire for shorts and a t-shirt and we were off! First stop was to visit the characters below the Sorcerer's Hat and then off to Playhouse Disney to visit Bear and the Big Blue House. It was a fun to show to watch yet at the same time just a little sad. My little niece is growing up right before my eyes and wasn't quite as taken by the show as last year and chose to happily watch others around her dance to the music rather than dance herself. They grow up so fast!

Making our way to Hollywood Blvd. we found ourselves a (comfy?) piece of road and settled in to watch the 'Hollywood Holly-Day Parade.' The characters danced and rode by in cars decked out for the season.

Supper reservations had been booked at 'Hollywood and Vine' for 4:00 so as soon as the parade was over we made our way to the restaurant. We enjoyed the buffet supper which was part of the 'Fantasmic Dinner Package' which provided us with priority seating later that night for Fantasmic.

After supper we made our way to New York Street at the back of the studios. At this time of year New York street is host of the 'Osborne Family Christmas Lights.' With the flip of a switch R and I (and thousands of other people) were quickly surrounded by over 15,000,000 (yup...15 million!) Christmas lights! It was an event that caused me to gasp out loud! What a beautiful sight! Pictures just don't do it justice is all I can say.

From New York Street we made our way back to the front of the park and found our seats for Fantasmic. I was so glad to have taken advantage of the dinner package so as not to worry about finding seats for us. The last time we were here we'd arrived 45 mins. before to the show only to find that all of the seats were taken and we had to stand throughout the 25 min. show. Holding a 5yo for 25 mins. was not my idea of fun. The show is a great display of fireworks and old Disney movies shown on fans of water that are sprayed into the air. Quite a sight! Mickey is the star, fights off many of Disney's worst villains and comes out victorious at the end. It's a great show and just one more way to view fireworks...Disney style!

All in all it was a fun, long, eventful day filled with a boatload of new memories. As you can tell by R's eyes, she was anything but tired when she climbed into bed that night! Here she’s excitedly telling Daddy and Mommy about some of her Disney adventures!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dossier Couriered to Agency!

I'm excited to tell you that just minutes ago my Dossier was couriered to Open Arms! Once received by my agency it will be reviewed and if all documents are present and complete (I checked them a dozen times!) then all we'll be waiting for is Ministry Approval.

The current wait for Ministry Approval is 10-12 weeks and I'll be hitting the 10 week mark this Thursday so hopefully it will come soon. I may be 'Dossier to China' (DTC) this month!!! Once that happens, the countdown to baby Hannah can begin!

I was shaking as I put the final touches on my Dossier and also as I handed it over to the postal clerk but it was a good, excited shaking! At this point my 'paperchase' is officially complete and now it's in the hands of my agency and the China Centre for Adoption Affairs. I'm so thankful that over all those people, God is in control and in His perfect timing, each step of the process takes place.

Friday, February 03, 2006

We Have A Winner!

I'm happy to tell you my long-form birth certificate arrived yesterday. Yeah!

This weekend I will put the final touches on my dossier and Monday it will be couriered to Open Arms!

I received an email from my agency today advising me that the Ministry has recently hired a new employee so they're hoping the back-log off approvals begins to move through in the next few weeks.

This news hit me differently than I thought it would. I'd thought I'd be elated to hear that approval was hopefully coming soon. Instead, my conscience was pricked when I thought of what had caused the delay. It was mainly because of an illness of a member of the Ministry staff. (An illness that to the best of my knowledge they are still battling.) I'd been aware of that for a few weeks but sadly, I'd been more caught up in my own little world of 'awaiting approval' to fully take time to think of this person and what they must be going through. Today I finally (much too late to feel good about) thought of them and put their needs before my own. I don't know who this person is, or what illness they are battling, but today I was able to pray for them and ask God to work healing in their body. Not for the sake of my adoption, but for the simple fact that they needed to be brought back to full strength for their sake and the sake of their family.

Thanking the Lord for my health today and praying for those who need Him to work in them.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

And to think I work with numbers....

Oops! Just realized today marks 9 weeks that my file has been waiting for Ministry approval. Last Thursday I thought I'd reached the 7 week mark but checking the calendar it was actually 8 weeks. 'Time flies when you're having fun?' Hmmm...not sure how much 'fun' this waiting game is but at the same time this 9 week wait is only a drop in the bucket compared to the current 10 months it's taking for referrals. Guess I'm in 'Wait Training' mode (not to be confused with 'weight training'...that's a whole other story!)

Happy to be 'Wait Training' knowing that God's timing is always perfect!
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