Friday, January 30, 2009

Oh Babies!!!

What a wonderful week this has been as 2 precious friends have received their referrals and another friend has received her Letter of Approval and will be traveling to China soon!!!

Tuesday, Dawn and Dale were referred a precious 10month old baby girl! This little one lives in their province and mommy and daddy should be travelling to bring her home in only 2 short weeks!!

Dawn and I met in person in January of 2007 when I was in BC with Sharon and we spent a fun few days together! There is a small chance, depending on how the timing works with Hannah's referral, that we'll be able to meet again this June as I could be headed BC way again. That would be great but if I don't go it's because I'll be close to travelling to meet Hannah and that would be the best!!

Congratulations Dawn, Dale, Chase, Colton, Caden, Carter and Charla!!!

The second family to receive their referral are my wonderful friends Karen and Mike! I was teaching last night when Karen's name and number came up on the phone. My heart lept but, as Mike is also helping me with some computer issues I thought it could be that. I asked, with excitement, 'How are you doing?' She responded, 'I'm doing great! Really, really GREAT!!' and I knew she'd received her 'call'!! Woohoo!! Just last Friday when we were together we were talking about her referral. As much as she wanted the call to come soon she was pretty confident they were at least a month away from receiving it.

That was not the case and yesterday they received the call that their precious son (who is only 7 weeks old) is waiting for them in Ethiopia!! They're in the next waiting period now and hoping to travel sometime this summer. Maybe we'll travel close to one another??

Congratulations Karen, Mike, Victoria, Austin and Samara!!!

The third family is my friend Andrea and her hubby Wes. Andrea and I work in the same building and have become friends through our adoptions. Yesterday she found out that they have received their Letter of Approval which will allow them to travel to China in March to meet their beautiful daughter!! This has all happened so quickly and I'm thrilled for them!

Congratulations Andrea and Wes!!!

So as you can see, it's been a super exciting week of celebrating with friends! After times when it was months between referral celebrations this sure has lifted the spirits! So many friends to celebrate with and so many new babies to love!!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Niagara Falls - How Beautiful!!!

I have lived within a few hours of Ni*gara F*lls for most of my life but until last week had never seen them in the winter. Oh my!! They're GORGEOUS! The pics don't do them justice but you can catch a glimpse of what they're like.

American Falls

Canadian Falls (a little harder to see with all the mist that rises from them)

This is the beauty that the mist of the Falls creates!! (The picture above shows how the ice is layered on the railing I'm leaning on.) Isn't it GORGEOUS?!! In the summer there is always a fine mist near the falls and in the winter the wind catches it and creates beautiful snow and ice creations from it!

Ice crystals just beginning on the railing

I love how the wind captured the movement of the ice as it froze!

A lone lamp post...

...with a beautiful backdrop of trees, snow and more ice. Breathtaking!!

One of the things I love about the falls is the unique roar that they make as they flow over the top and crash below. Around the 18 sec point of this video (when I turn out of the wind) you'll be able to hear this wonderful sound. I am so thankful to live near such an amazing creation of God!!

It's been asked if it was as cold out as the pictures look and in one word I'd say, YES!! It was freezing but I wasn't going to miss this opportunity! It was about -20oC/-4oF and after walking around enjoying the beauty for a little more than an hour and a half I was ready for lunch with a friend in a fun little Italian Restaurant. Thanks Shirley! It was so good to see you!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2 Little Beads...

...joined hands and bravely walked from the 'LID's to be Matched' jar over to the 'Referral's Received' jar, late last week. After the 'better than we had dreamed' batch was released it quickly became evident that it was a false rumour but hey, I choose to get on that ride (and oh what a ride it was!) and I don't regret one moment of it!! 2 days is a tiny batch but for those families who had LID's on March 1st and 2nd, those were important dates and new families have now been introduced to their daughters via pictures, name, DoB and other wonderful details. For that I am thrilled as some of those families are ones I have gotten to know online over the past 3 years.

As soon as my file was sent to China in March of 2006 I signed up for a Yahoo Group comprised of families whose files were logged with CCAA in March of 2006. Our group is now comprised of over 450 families!! The Yahoo Group is restricted to families who are adopting but we also have a public website for family and friends to see the beautiful children of our Marching Pandas. If you'd like to follow along, that's where all the new information about precious little ones can be found. There are also a number of Waiting Children who have already been welcomed home over the past 3 years and you can see their adorable little faces there too.

There are now 21 beads remaining in the LID jar which represent the 20 days of files in front of mine plus my LID of March 23rd. My heart is still tracking towards a May-July referral but only time will tell. So close and so excited!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friends at the Falls

When I found out that we'd be headed Niagara way this month I got in touch with Karen to see if she'd like to hang out for a day. It was exciting when she said yes and we started to plan a day together!

Soon after returning from taking Sharon to work yesterday Karen and Samara arrived and we were ready for a day of fun! Samara had been sleeping during the ride up so we woke her slowly as we sat in a coffee area in the hotel and enjoyed juice, hot chocolate and fun times together. Once she woke up a little Samara was happy to show me 'how big' she is by stretching her arms up high to the sky!
Our next stop was at the Butterfly Conservatory. A butterfly decided early on to get 'up close and personal' with Samara and she wasn't feeling the love for them as much. She liked to look but felt safest under the hood of her stroller. It was so pretty to see all the beautiful butterflies and yet at the same time see snow out the window. Fun!

For lunch we moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake which is a beautiful, quaint little town near Niaraga Falls. If you ever come to the Niagara area for a vacation be sure to plan in time to visit this wonderful little town!

We enjoyed lunch at a little Italian restaurant with a wood burning oven for cooking pizzas. Mmmm! Sticker fun!
'Cheese' with Mommy
On our way out of town we decided a good way to top off our fun day was chocolate! Karen and I snickered when we noticed Samara's chocolate hands although she was not too impressed with her chocolate covered fingers. This is a little girl who doesn't like to be dirty. Sorry! We'll clean them soon sweetie!
Guess she decided the best way to avoid her dirty fingers was to catch a little nap. Check out this adorable little sleepy pose and her hat! Guess that one will be heading to the laundray. A fun day wears a girl out!!
Thanks for a wonderful day together Karen! Love you friend!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Celebrating 34 months Closer to Hannah!

Today is my 34th Hannah-versary!!

It was quite the month with referral rumours that didn't pan out but regardless, I'm another month closer to Hannah and couldn't be happier!

Even though the thought last week that we could be headed to China sooner than anticipated was exciting, I am still daily, hourly, minute by minute, trusting God for His perfect timing and this brings a peace that only He can provide!

Each day is another day closer to my baby girl and, another day to celebrate God's faithfulness!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Things That Go 'Crash' in the Night! **Updated**

Oh my!!! Sharon and I were sound asleep in our hotel room last night when suddenly there was a loud 'crash/bang'! We both sat bolt upright and our hearts were beating so fast and we were shaking! It quickly became obvious to us that someone had tried to break into our room and had got so far as to actually open the door a bit! Thankfully we had put the slide lock on the door so that had stopped them because the deadbolt had been unlocked from the outside!! When we realized what was happening I quickly ran to the door to look out the peek hole but the hallway was empty. We could tell someone had almost made it in though as the piece of the lock that is nomally flush against the door was now out at a 45o angle. Talk about scary!!

We didn't call the front desk figuring it had just been a mistake and we attempted to go back to sleep. Deciding to reinforce the door a bit more (purely for comfort sake as opposed to safety) we discussed what we might be able to put in front of it. We teased that our bag of snacks might weigh enough to keep it closed but then thought that might only entice them to come back. We also talked about putting our luggage in front of it; as any of you know who have been here for long, we don't travel light!! In the end, we double checked the slide lock, the deadbolt and moved the closet door over the door and put a chair in front of it, purely for a little bit of peace of mind. It took us over an hour to settle down and fall back to sleep and as an answer to prayer, we both slept well.

Fast forward to 6:30 this morning and IT HAPPENED AGAIN!!! Can you believe it?? Once again we were both woken from out of a dead sleep by someone opening our door! Even though the deadbolt and slider were on they were part way into the room again! Sharon was on her feet first and suddenly yelled out in a loud, low voice 'HEY!!!' It took me a moment longer to wake and by the time I did she was already half way to the door, yelling at whomever was out there! She looked out the peek hole in time to see a young guy in a maintenance uniform standing back from our door with a surprised look on his face. (He was probably wondering who was yelling at him!)

We immediately got on the phone and called the front desk to let them know what was happening and have them send someone up. After a couple of questions he figured out that they had our room recorded wrong in the computer and so in their system we were in a vacant room. Umm nope - we're in here!! (When we first checked in yesterday our keys didn't work in the door of the room they sent us to. Sharon went back down and the girl at the front desk said she'd written down the wrong room # and sent us to a new one. Guess she wrote the wrong one in the computer too!)

In the end it was all a big mistake but it sure was a scary one!! Now we just laugh about it and suddenly yell out 'HEY!' to one another! I can see how the first problem happened but really cannot understand why they would have sent someone up with a master key at 6:30am when there was a question if the room was empty or not! That's what phones are for! Don't know why they didn't wait for a normal hour to call the room and check before using a master key to unlock the deadbolt a second time!!

All in all it's fine and, a story to tell. One of the many adventures we have shared together over the years of travelling together for her business! We laugh at her running to the door and yelling out 'HEY!' because if you knew our personalities I'd normally be the one doing that but nope...Sharon to the rescue!! I teased and said that when I heard her loud, low 'Hey' that I woke to think 'ooo, there's a guy in my room?!' only to see 'him' running across the room in a pink nightgown! :o)

The hotel apologized profusely and offered to give us tonight's stay as a complimentary one but we're seeing what they can do to give Sharon a credit for another time as tonight's night is being paid for by her business. It would be so much nicer if she could have an opportunity to come back with her hubby another time rather than 'the kid!' **UPDATE** Sharon has been given a credit to come back for a complimentary night later this year and breakfast is also on them tomorrow morning. It's good when a company stands behind their errors and does what they can to correct the situation.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS put the deadbolt and slider on hotel room doors! I know that's a lesson we'll remember for a long, long time!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nothing Yet.

More than anything I want to say a huge THANK YOU for all your amazing words of love, encouragement, excitement and so much more!! I was overwhelmed more than once with the kindness that was shared when I posted last week's post about Hannah's referral possibly arriving much sooner than anticipated.

As it stands now it appears that it won't happen quite that quickly and really I'm ok with that. We should know within the next week or so exactly how many days CCAA matches with this month's referrals and that will help me rejig my guesstimation.

Here's how the numbers play out in my little corner of the world, according to my thoughts. Yup, nothing scientific here.

January's Referrals:
1. If CCAA includes up to and including March 5/6 that's the norm and I would continue to anticipate a May/June referral.
2. If CCAA includes up to and including March 7 that's a bigger than normal batch and I would anticipate an April/May referral.
3. If CCAA includes any days past March 7th I'd consider that a HUGE batch and think that my referral could arrive in March/April.
4. If CCAA includes March 23rd in this referral batch you'll hear me screaming/sobbing regardless of where you live!

I am totally ok with any of these scenarios or, any other that God chooses. Still trusting Him and His perfect timing. That being said, let's just say last weeks rumour was great for encouraging me to get things started around the house. Thanks for you help Saturday morning Deb! We went through many of Hannah's clothese and organized them by size. Soon M and M will make their way to my place and Mr. M's going to help me attack my basement and put together some shelves that are long overdue as well as do some organizing. Thanks friends! So many people have offered to help me get ready and I am so appreciative! You'd think with 4 years to prepare I'd be ready. Ummm, nope. I just have 4 years worth of wonderful baby stuff stored around my home and it desperately needs organizing! It's overwhelming to 1 but a team of family and friends are surrounding me and helping out and I am oh so thankful!!

Only In Canada, Eh?

Sharon and I are off on our January adventure. This year's work has her close to home in the Niagara Falls area so we headed here yesterday. We woke to a snowy morning which made for a bit of a slower drive but oh what a pretty one! Check out some of the beautiful pics from today's travels.

Winter Wonderland


And, the reason for the title of this post. As we were getting ready to leave Tim Horton's yesterday with our hot chocolates in hand, a couple pulled up on snowmobiles. It struck me as funny so I needed to take a pic. Sharon was just thankful I waited until they went into the store to snap this memorable pic!

Tomorrow it will be icy, snowy Niagara Falls. Even though I live less than 2 hours from the Falls I've never seen them in the winter. Quite excited to see God's handiwork displayed!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Could It Be???? Breathe! Breathe!!

To say I was shocked when I read Rumor Queen this morning would be a monumental understatement!!! There is a rumor out there...a teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy, teensy, weensy rumor that March 23rd (and beyond) could be included in this next batch of referrals!!!

Do you know what it does to a gals heart when her potential referral date changes from 5 months to possibly 5 days??? Shaking, praying, praising, jumping, giggling...all while trying not to throw up! ;o)

Only time will tell if this rumor becomes true but what does seem to be a more reliable rumor is that the atmosphere around CCAA appears to be lighter, brighter and much more encouraging than it has been in a long time! Wahoo!!!

Some may know that in December 2008 CCAA announced that the orphanage donation that each family is required to pay has officially changed from $3,000.00US to $5,000.00. Could this increase have allowed more Social Welfare Institutes to prepare babies for International Adoption? Not sure.

What will happen is anyone's guess but for now I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to stay calm!!

PS. Note to self: Get a new exclamation mark for my computer! I think this one got worn out today!!!

Exciting days ahead. Still trusting God for His perfect timing! How cool if this is what he had in store all the way along but was just saving it as a surprise! :o)

Marching we go!!!

Citizenship Application Submitted

Our travel group received an email from our agency on Tuesday encouraging us to apply for our children's Citizenship. It's so neat to be taking care of another piece of paperwork that will help to bring Hannah home! When I first began her adoption the process, Citizenship was much more lengthy and intense process but thankfully during the wait the Canadian legislature changed the process and it is now much more fluent. Part 1 is completed now and then Part II will be completed in Beijing.

I sent it off by XpressPost this afternoon but realized when I got to work that I'd forgotten to inculde the document checklist which is clearly stated must be included. Oh no! I quickly called the convenience store that housed the Post Office desk I'd used and he was able to put the envelope aside so that I could go back and add the missing document. I arrived 20 mins. prior to the scheduled pickup time by the mail truck but the guy was already there....waiting patiently for me! Can you believe it?! Not only did they have the envelope ready, he also waited for me to arrive. Thank you Canada Post!

Citizenship is currently taking 4 months from application to approval of Part I. Hoping it won't take that long. Check out my next post and you'll see why!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A 4 Year Faith Walk

Today marks the 4th anniversary of the day God placed Hannah in my heart. As I was having my morning prayer time on January 11, 2005, God spoke a silent whisper into my heart and this year that whisper will become my daughter!!

'I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him (her) to the Lord. For his (her) whole life he (she) will be given over to the Lord.'

I Samuel 1: 27, 28 (NIV)

I have prayed a smiliar prayer this often this weekend. Even though I do not have Hannah's referral yet, I believe she is born and I have given her back to God. She is a gift from Him and I pray that she will grow to be the girl and woman God wants her to be.

The beginning of my faith walk can be found here in the very first blog entry I wrote. The second major step and God's answer to the prayers of many can be found here.

God is good and as always I know that His timing is perfect!! Still trusting. Still loving and the coolest thing......I have not lost a single night's sleep over the wait since that night in October of 2005 when His peace washed over me and He gave me His blessing to move forward with Hannah's adoption! Sure, there have been times that I have cried out to God as the wait has continued. My heart has hurt and ached and I've cried a river of tears as I've longed for my baby to be home and yet through it all...PEACE. A peace only God can provide when He dries my tears of longing and reassures me that in His perfect time, Hannah will be placed in my arms.

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Philippians 4: 6, 7 (The Message)

Dear friends, God is good! Writing this post has reminded me of His faithfulness and reading the posts from the past had me in tears more than once this evening. God is faithful yesterday, today and tomorrow!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Moooving Right Along

Ok, with the last two posts being about milk I couldn't resist that really baaaad title. (Oh ya, wrong animal) The title really has nothing to do with this post but I had to do it!

What is the topic of this post?


This is a week of celebration for local friends and bloggy friends around the world too as there are so many little ones to celebrate!!

A couple of local gals from our waiting mom's group are meeting their babies! B met her precious Benjaminh in Vietnam at 2:30 am local time today! Oh how sweet he is! Congratulations B!!

Another local gal and her family left for China earlier today to meet their son on Monday and also, Donna and Joe are on their way to meet their precious Lauren Elizabeth! Congrats L and A; Donna and Joe...and Grandma too!

A good friend (who doesn't have a blog...yet! :o) received her referral on Sunday and you'll just have to trust me when I say her little princess is beautiful!!

Last night many of us were delightfully surprised to celebrate Eliza's Mom's cute little son who was born yesterday and is already part of their family!!!

And, as we celebrate those already with their children or on the way, we also celebrate with anticipation the day when Tiny and Pipa join their families too!

For the longest time, families travelling to meet their babies were few and far between. It's not that way right now and can I tell you how excited I am for each of these families? Each of these precious little ones is a reminder that Hannah is not far behind and soon it will be me boarding a plane and flying to China!!! Now that makes my heart beat quickly and a huge smile is stuck on my face! If you watch carefully your might even see a skip in my step. Wanna join me??

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Milk Stories....Part II

I thought the bagged milk tale might create a few comments but it's been quite funny to hear the questions it has created. Some people asked was about storage. Here's how we find it in coolers in the grocery store.
Until tonight I thought everyone just stored it in the fridge by laying it on a shelf until it's ready to be used and moved into the upright container. This is what milk looks like in my fridge. (Note the delicious Raspberry and Pretzel Jello Salad. Kim posted it on her blog last fall and I made it 4 times for get-togethers over Christmas. Yummy!!)

My friend Michelle emailed me tonight with a pic of her milk storage container. I didn't know these existed. It even has a neat little place to put the 'best before' tab which works better than the hanging from the bottom of a shelf method that I use.

Years ago, when I was in Alberta visiting a Bible College, their milk was served in small bags. To drink the milk you took a thin straw that was pointed at one end, covered the other end with your thumb (trust me....this was a very important step which I once forgot) and then stab the bag. Cool!
Who would have thought the little milk bargoon would create not only one but 2 posts? It's fun learning how things are done differently depending on where we live!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Local Milk Bargoon!! *Updated with video*

I remember in the past hearing about Gas Wars where 2 stations would drop and drop their prices but this week was the first time I'd ever heard of a Milk War! 2 neighbouring drug stores were battling it out by lowering their milk prices again and again....and again! You won't believe what I paid for 4L (approx. 1 US gallon) of milk. Are you ready??

$0.15!!! Yes ~ 15 cents!!!

While my cousin and I were standing in line waiting to cash out the manager was letting the cashiers know that the price war was coming to an end and that once those in line had gone through, milk was going back up to $3.49! We made it just in time!

And yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, we purchase our milk in bags. It's an 'Ontario and Quebec thing' and we've purchased milk in bags since I was a kid. We have plastic containers that the bags are placed in and the corner is snipped. Works great and there's no plastic bottles to return. Does anyone outside of Ontario and Quebec buy your milk in bags? Enquiring minds want to know! I'm in the mood for milk and cookies!

* Update * LOL! Thought this one would generate questions but must admit that they do make me giggle. Pic #2 shows how the milk is packaged at the grocery store. Within that bag are 3 clear bags, 1 of which can be seen in the plastic container in the bottom picture. When we're ready for a new bag of milk we put one into the plastic container and then cut off the corner of the bag. It works really well. Here's a video demo :o)

They had a limit of one bag per person and we had to supply our points card so we couldn't go back in again. If not, I would have bought more for sure!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Getting Ready to Hold My Baby Girl Close to my Heart

My cousin Bridget and I are wonderfully close and I shared with her a long time ago my desire to carry Hannah as much as possible to aid in the attachment process. Bridget is an expert on baby carriers and shared so much of her knowledge with me as well as introduced me to the great website, In the summer of 2008 when I shared with her that I'd decided on a BabyHawk she quickly said that she had planned long ago that she would buy whichever carrier I chose as a gift for Hannah! I was overwhelmed as carrying my baby girl close to me has been something I've dreamed about for years and years! Thank you SO MUCH Bridge! Your gift truly is one from the heart!

Pics of the fun while Bridget was teaching me how to wrap and wear my new BabyHawk.
Front Carry

Back Carry

'Uncle Willie' my 'sit in' for Hannah! Thanks Liam!

The fabrics I chose to go with caramel straps are:
Blue Floating Flowers

Red Dragonflies

Thanks again Bridge! Your gift is more appreciated than you'll ever know! Love you! xoxo
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