Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another Check Mark!

Got an email from our social worker today that our homestudy was approved by our placing agency! 
This is very good news!
Now our homestudy has been mailed to the State of IL for approval.
Once it is approved (hopefully by the beginning of next week) we will be able to move on to the next step, which is submitting I800A application.
Basically it is us asking Immigration for permission to adopt a child from another country.
That wait right now is LOOOONG, but we are hoping for a speed-up!

The most common question I get asked is when will we travel?
Good question!
As of right now we are not matched with our child.
Our social worker thinks realistically we will travel any time between July-September,
depending on how long it takes to get a referral.

Friday, December 9, 2011

DIY Stocking Hanger

I am pretty cheap frugal.
I love crafts.
But I especially love when I can combine the two!

It's kind of a joke between the hubs and I...
We see something cute in the store and I say "I could make that, and it would be waayyy cheaper"
And then I take a pic on my phone and file it away in my
"To Make Someday" folder!

But this time......

Our new house has an awesome fireplace and I really wanted it to be beautiful for Christmas!
I don't like the stocking hangers you find in the store....
they either aren't heavy enough, they are too pricey, or they look like they should be the centerpiece at an ugly sweater party.

We found this at Gordman's.  I liked the idea of it, but not the color or design, and it only had 4 hooks...
And it was almost $60.  No thank you.

So I went to the lumber yard, and had the nice man (who still had all of his fingers) cut me some wood.  I bought deck wood because I wanted it to be heavy enough to hold the stockings when they are full.

Then I took my happy little self to the hardware store and bought some screws.  I had no idea what to buy, so I found a package that said "wood screws" and bought them!
I screwed the 4 pieces together to make a box.

I attached some hooks that I bought at Menards.  I put 6 hooks on, since next year we will be a family of 5 and 1 for our sweet puppy!

I painted the entire thing with Rustoleum Brown Satin spray paint.

When the paint was dry, I cut the words and holly on my Cricut and Mod Podged them on

Once it was all dry, we put it up on the mantle and draped some garland and ornaments on it.  Then we hung the stockings! 


I really love the way it all turned out!  And the best only cost me about $11 to make! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where Are We?

It's been a while since my last post! 
We have been just a wee bit busy! 

We are almost completely moved into our new house~
(One downfall to not having your house sold before moving is you take your sweet time about it)
But we have been moving and painting and cleaning for weeks now! 
It's all starting to come together, and hopefully I can show pics soon!

We have been decorating for Christmas!
I love this time of year!  It is so much fun!
One of my favorite things is to discover all of the new decorations I bought the previous year on clearance!  It's like Christmas morning to me, just getting it all out!

This year we got the Elf on the Shelf!  I have been wanting to get one for a few years, and finally did this year!
The kids named him Filwood and we are having so much fun with him!
He has been found hanging upside down from the light fixture, riding a glass elephant in the curio cabinet, hanging on a wreath and he even decorated the tree with the kids' underwear! Can't wait to see what other shenanigans he causes before Christmas!

We celebrated Thanksgiving in our new house which was really nice!  It is so great to have enough space for everyone!

Oh, and one other thing.....our homestudy is finished!  YAY!!!  Got an email from our SW today that all of our Illinois clearances are back.  Now we are just waiting on one clearance from Iowa (Tyson lived there for 90 days while he was in Optometry school) and the FBI (which are running VERY slow right now :(      Then it's on to I800a.......

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


We had our second homestudy visit today and it went great!
She was here for about 6 hours! 
And we covered A LOT of ground!
But we are moving forward!!!!!
She will be back 2 days next week to finish up our 4 home visits
(one day for a home tour and one day for individual interviews with each of us and the kids)
and expects to have our homestudy finished by Thanksgiving! 

So our main objectives for the next few weeks are to complete a few "homework" assignments she gave us and wait for background clearances to come back.
The homework will be the easy part.
Waiting on clearances....not so much.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cross Country 2011

My girl just finished her 3rd Cross Country season. 
This was a very challenging season for her.
She broke her foot 4 months ago, but as soon as the cast came off she was running again.
So she dealt with a little pain and swelling.
She also had several other physical ailments going on this year.
Throw that in with all the growing and changing a 12 year old female body does......
Means she ran almost every race in pain of one kind or another.

But she did great.  She ran in every single meet and made the Sectionals team.

Here are some of my fave shots from this year.
I know most of them look alike, but I love how her facial expressions and body language
show exactly what she is feeling.

*warning:  pic overload!*

 Getting ready to pass!

This was her best meet of the season.  She came in 28th out of 200+ girls!

 Coming in for the finish!

I love this shot because on the right is Rylee coming in for the last 250 meters
and on the left is her coach running to meet up with her to run her in cheering her on!

Running through severe lung pain (my poor baby)
I love this picture.  She didn't have a great race, and the look of disappointment combined with the sunlight hitting her hair just melts my heart. 

Love the determination on her face!

2011 Sectionals Team!

Way to go Rylee!  Sweetie, you faced a lot of physical challenges this year, but you persevered.
You ran in 103 degree heat, pouring rain, and 35 degree temps.  You ran through lots of pain.  You ran early in the morning and late in the afternoons.  You ran when you didn't feel well and you ran when you were having great days.  But the point is, through it RAN.  You have the spirit of a great runner and are learning to handle the mental aspect of this sport with grace.  We couldn't be more proud of you!  We love you! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What I'm Lovin' Wednesday

Well, hello there! 
It's been a minute since I've done a WILW post!

Fall is here, and I am LOVIN' it!!

Here's what else I love:

I am SO addicted to this website!  I have to be very mindful of my time because I can spend hours browsing and lose my entire day! 

The leaves are so beautiful right now.  In about another week or so, they should be in full foliage.  We love to visit Grandview Drive in Peoria this time of year.  It is absolutely breathtaking!

Pumpkins!  I am obsessed with all things pumpkin!  As soon as the weather begins to cool off and the first hints of fall blow in, I begin to feel the stirrings of my need for pumpkin.  I have tried to fight it, but it's useless!  I love everything!  Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin dip, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin steamers, pumpkin french toast (thanks, Pinterest!), pumpkin roll or pumpkin marshmallow Scentsy.....pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin!  I love to decorate with them too!  They are just so darn festive!

Although this year, I have not decorated anything and it is KILLING me!  We close on our new house in 2 weeks, so it's pointless to decorate now.  I am thinking at the new house we won't decorate for Halloween this year, but I can still put up my fall loves!

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not sure if I will get used to this

I know that most people don't understand adoption. 
They don't understand why others adopt, especially internationally.
They don't understand the dynamics.
They really can't be blamed, it is just because they are not informed.
I expected this when we began this journey. 
But it still leaves me in awe every singe time someone makes a rude comment.

For example:
Last week as I was pulling out of the Y, a man literally chased me down, and asked me if we were adopting from China.  I told him yes.  He then proceeded to give me a lecture on reasons why we should NOT adopt and had to tell me a horror story of someone he knew who adopted from China 10 years ago.
Like when you're pregnant and people feel that they need to tell you their horrific birth experience, or worse.  Like telling you about their miscarriage or some other terrible event.
Not necessary.

And today at the Y, a woman asked me if we were adopting.  She then told me a story that went JUST like this:
"Oh that's great!  My sister adopted a girl from China (because that's all you can get of course) in 1996.  She is very short, but they have been very happy with her.  In fact, they still have her and everything! "

Like she was a sofa they got a great deal on.

Oh boy.  This is gonna take some patience!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Full Disclosure

When two people are contemplating marriage, there are certain discussions that MUST take place.
These conversations require complete honesty.
You should know your potential life-long mate intimately.
You need to know and accept all of these things, regardless of your own opinions.
It's part of the foundation of a good marriage.
This unconditional love.
You not only have to answer questions, you have to ask the right ones.
You cannot go into it blind.
You have been prepared.

When you are sitting in a movie theater watching the preview for the new "Footloose" movie,
and the man you have been with for 8 years looks at you and says.....
(wait for are going to DIE)......

"I've never seen the original Footloose"

All bets are off!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On Our Way!

We had our first official appointment with our homestudy social worker this week.
I was super nervous--as in stomach butterflies, scrub the house from top to bottom, new fragrance in the Scentsy burner, be crabby to (and hang up on) your husband for no reason--kind of nervous.
I didn't really know what to expect.
It's weird.  Awkward.
And I wasn't sure what to expect.
She had told me she would be here for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 
It ended up taking 30 minutes.
She explained her role in the adoption process, answered our questions, gave us some reading materials and some homework. 
And some paper.

This is some of the stuff we have to read through.  This stack is approximately 2 inches thick!

The homestudy application.  Each of these is several pages long.

Foster Care Licensing paperwork

This was the (26 page) application for our placing agency in California!

I don't really consider myself any kind of tree hugger, but geesh.  This is crazy! 

So today Tyson and I spent about 7 straight hours filling out paperwork, digging out financial papers, insurance papers, and medical information.  And we barely put a dent in it all! 
But we will get it all done, as soon as the holiday weekend is over and someone can answer a few questions!

I know this is just the beginning of MONTHS of paperwork, and I am by no means going to complain about any of it!  It all just puts us closer to our daughter!

To the best of my understanding, our next step is to finish all this paperwork, then we will be fingerprinted (probably late next week).  Tyson and I have to get our first set of medical exams and toward the end of the month we will have our training class. 

It feels so good to be DOING something, because I know it will be hard while we are in the "waiting" phases of adoption. 

We are super excited!!!


Friday, August 26, 2011


Both kiddos had a full week of school this week
(except the hour early heat dismissal every day).
They both did great! 
Evan is getting used to his new bedtime and certainly eats much better at dinnertime
since he isn't home grazing all day long!
I think the biggest adjustments are in MY day!
I am now home ALONE all day long!
I drop the kids off and go work out for an hour and a half.
Then come home.
To the QUIET.

It's peaceful.
It's tranquil.
It's bizarre and unnerving!

A few things that I did this week that were soooo different than anything I have known for the past 12 years:
~I sat on the patio and read my book for 1 1/2 hours--STRAIGHT.  No interruptions.
~I was able to check my email (and stalk blogs) very quickly since I didn't have to get up and get anyone snacks.
~I went to the bathroom and NO ONE came in!!!  This happened multiple times and I was hyper-aware of it every.single.time.
~I grocery shopped for 2 weeks in less than 1 hour!  And I didn't have to re-sort all of my items at the checkout to filter out the "extras" that fell into the cart!
~I went to Target alone.  When I got there I got to actually use the ladies room.  Normally we have to use the family bathroom or go in the big handicap stall. 
~I went to the library and didn't visit the children's level.  Very odd.
~I left the bank without a sticker on my shirt OR a sucker.
~I made important phone calls--without having to do 20 things between each call or hiding on the staircase for quiet.

This is just crazy.  Not sure if I like it, but I think I will get used to it! 
Sure beats the alternative---getting a j.o.b.  {shivers}

But by the end of the day, I am so excited to pick the kiddos up from school and begin the craziness of the evening schedule!

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School

It is so hard to believe that summer is over and it's time for school to start.
None of us are ready for it!

 Miss Rylee started 7th grade.....
WHEN did she start looking so grown up???

And this little munchkin bird started Kindergarten! 
He was so excited to go this morning!  He kept saying "Let's get this show on the road!"
I would have been fine to keep him home and snuggle with him.
It's so hard to let go.

He was totally fine with me leaving him.  Does he NOT know he's killing me???  Geesh. 

Have a great first day! 

(I will spare you the pic Tyson took of me sportin' the ugly cry after dropping Evan off!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Dear Evan,
I cannot believe you are 5 years old today.  How has this time gone by so fast? 
It seems like yesterday you were my little baby bird.

You came into this world 10 days early and showed us right away what a little fighter you were.  The first 4 months of your life were very scary for Daddy and I.  But you came through it all just fine.
You are such a special boy, Evan Michael. 

From the time you were itty bitty, people have always commented on what a communicator you would be. 
That is so true!  You have always been a talker.  Now you are 5 and you love learning about words.  You love to spell them, read them, use them and learn what they mean.
From the time you were 8 months old, you have had a love for trains.  That love has really become your passion.  You know so much about trains...engines, cars, the track, the signals.  You love GeoTrax and build your layouts all over the house--taking up several rooms at a time!

You are such a smart boy!  You watch National Geographic alot and can recite entire episodes (with the British accent the narrator uses!)  You also love to research things on Wikipedia, and I'm pretty sure you just tuck the knowledge away for the day you may need it.

You love music and can sing a song after only hearing it once or twice!  I have never seen a child with rhythm like you have!

You eat like a linebacker most of the time.  And when you are going through a growth spurt--forget the grocery budget!  You love ramen noodles and want them almost every day for lunch.

You are a great little brother!  Rylee loves you so much!  And I know that you are going to be a terrific BIG brother!

You have a wonderful heart.  You always have a smile for everyone and genuine compassion for others. You are funny, silly and you like to tell knock-knock jokes.

You are also stubborn, obstinate, loud and you MUST have the last word--always.  As frustrating as that can be at times, I know that those traits are going to benefit you!  I cannot wait to see what you do with your life, you truly are special!

Every day of your life has been an absolute joy.  I feel so blessed to be your Mommy. 

Tomorrow Daddy and I will take you to Kindergarten.  I am still not sure how I am going to handle it.  It feels like I am just not ready for you to leave the safety of being tucked under my wing and flying into the world.  But you are super excited and I know you will do great!

So today, my sweet son....I wish you the very happiest of birthdays.....and many more to come!
You are my heart, my soul, my sunshine. 
I love you baby boy!
Happy, happy birthday!

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Party Time!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled WILW post to bring you a special edition of
"Birthday Bash 2011"

This year's party theme was "Minute to Win It"!  It was perfect for the crowd we had!
We had about 30 guests who each received a score card when we started. 
Each player chose a game (some games could accomodate 3-4 people).
Once everyone was stationed, we started the clock.  If they completed the task in 60 seconds, it got
circled on the score card.  Then everyone moved to another game. 

Junk in the Trunk--tie a tissue box full of ping pong balls around your waist.  Get all the balls out by shaking, wiggling, etc.

Egg Roll---Get an egg into the target by fanning it with a pizza box!

Candy Elevator--Tied 2 pencils together.  Contestants have to pull the strings and get 3 m&m's in their mouth!

Suck It Up--Use a straw to suck up M&M's and get them into a bowl!

Tilt-A-Cup--Stack 8 cups.  Bounce a ping pong ball and catch it in the cup.  Move bottom cup to top and continue process until all balls and cups are used!  (This was REALLY hard!)

Floatacious--Stack 5 empty soda cans in a plate floating in water!

A Bit Dicey--Stack 6 dice on a popsicle stick in your mouth!

Face the Cookie--get a cookie from forehead into mouth only using facial muscles!  (Hilarious to watch!)

Sticky Balls (we called it Sticky Marbles--Jr. High kids.  Ya know.)--Roll marbles from one end of the table and get it to stick to the double sided tape at the opposite end of the table.

Everyone worked up an appetite playing games so we had a yummy taco bar!

We sang "Happy Birthday" to Evan....

....and then to Rylee

All the kiddos got a plain cupcake and we set out different candy toppings.  They had one minute to decorated their cupcake however they wanted!

And of course.....presents!

Guests all went home with water bottle party favors with a goody bag attached. 

It was such an easy party to put together, and SOOO much fun!!!!