Tomorrow!!!!

Tomorrow. I can finally say “we leave tomorrow.” Yesterday I was super excited. Today I feel nervous and want to throw up. This is such an emotional ride!

I’m still working down my to-do list. Yesterday I finally transplanted my avocado tree into a bigger pot. I was surprised how big the root ball had gotten. I would have taken a picture of it but I only have two hands!

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old pot

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old and new pots

The side benefit to transplanting the tree is that I could finally adjust it so that it grows straight up!

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lovely!

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I have no idea what this bug is but it was hanging out on our patio door when I got ready to come back inside. Pretty markings.

This morning I am headed to the grocery store. Our fridge is almost empty and we don’t have enough food to make it through today and tomorrow. I also need to pick up some staples for when we get back, as well as protein bars and snacks for the plane.

Yesterday we sorted through a pile of toys and activities to decide what we should take with us to Taiwan. At least my dining room table is half clean. Once I can get the clothes packed, I can pack the rest of these activities and finish cleaning off my table. This afternoon, after I take a nap, I will clean both bathrooms and then see what else needs to be done.

My prescription sunglasses are still not available, though I ordered them on July 3. I have to call and talk to the manager today to find out how they are going to fix this. I called twice last week and they just keep saying, “sorry, but they have not been delivered yet.” Yes, but I ordered them three weeks ago and I am going to Taiwan tomorrow. I’m also waiting to hear from the bank that they have our Taiwanese dollars available for pick up.

Nope, no stress! HA!

Four days!

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We’ve been seeing lots of baby bunnies on our evening walks. They are just the cutest things!

Here it is, Friday night, and my mind keeps racing. I am so glad that it’s finally Sabbath so that I can step back for 24 hours and not worry about all of the preparation. I finished almost everything that was on my list today and now I can relax until tomorrow night.

This is our last Friday evening at home without our daughter. I can’t help but wonder – what will life be like once she’s home? Will she adjust well or will she act out in fear of all of the changes? I keep hoping that this will be an “easy” adoption. We are as prepared as possible for Hard but hope for Easy. I hope that my daughter will enjoy our evening walks. That we can sit down and have a nice meal on Friday night to welcome in the Sabbath. That we will be able to bond and enjoy time spent together. That we can have fun together!

This time next week, we will be starting the Sabbath in a hotel room in Taiwan. I have a feeling Sabbath will truly be a day of rest next week as we sleep a ton in preparation for meeting our daughter the following Monday.

And I also wonder… does my daughter think about us? We leave in four days but she still has 10 days before her life changes. Does she think of us or is she caught up in the summer activities of her orphanage? I hope that she’s staying busy and not stressing about our meeting. All I can do is pray that God will give her courage as the day approaches.

Six days!!

Today was a very productive day and I’m pleased with how much we were able to accomplish. This evening we ran errands, visiting Wal-Mart, Best Buy, the toy store, and Serial Knitters.

When you ask adoptive parents for suggestions of activities to do at the hotel in country, one of the most often recommended suggestions is Uno. Today I went through all of our games and discovered we don’t own it! My husband and I prefer Eurostyle board games over card games. But Uno is supposed to be a fantastic game to play with a child who does not yet speak much English. While at the mall, we discovered that the toy store opened today. Look what we found!

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I have never seen Cinderella Uno before but I think it looks like a lot of fun. I hope our daughter likes Cinderella!

I want to take a knitting project with me to Taiwan. I can knit while waiting at the airport, while on the flight, at the hotel, waiting for our AIT appointment… it’s such a portable form of pleasure and doesn’t require that I stay glued to my phone. This is the scarf pattern I picked out.

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And the yarn to complete it.

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I have several projects in progress already but don’t want to take those to Taiwan with me. For one, I don’t want to lose a knitting project that is supposed to be a gift. For another, I wanted to work on something that I can give my daughter if she is intrigued by what I am doing. As all of my mid-process projects are gifts for others, I needed something new to work on. And honestly, I’m happy for an excuse to go yarn shopping!

My other big project today was several more areas of cleaning. I’m going to give full disclosure here – my pantry was a MESS.

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Yeah. A mess.

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For the past three years, we’ve had a trash bag hanging on the back of the pantry door. About a week ago, we finally bought a full sized trash can but obviously had no where to put it. This mess was ridiculous and embarrassing and I was determined to finally fix it.

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much better!!

And this was my other big mess…

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Under this sink has been a catch-all for ages. I pulled everything out, got rid of a few things, organized what was left, and stacked it all back inside. It’s still a catch-all, but at least it’s an organized catch-all.

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Bruno has to help any time I open drawers or cabinets!

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I’m not sure this looks much better at a glance, but I can now find things in there. Woohoo!!

Tomorrow I have to follow up about my prescription sunglasses. They were supposed to be available last Friday but still aren’t in yet. I also have to buy groceries and might visit the bank to talk about travel and debit cards. I’m not sure what else is on my agenda but my to-do list is still pretty long.

Six days and counting!!

Taken – A Book Review

Earlier this week I received a rather interesting email from Goodreads.

Goodreads Challenge

According to my logs, I have read:
76 books
18,348 pages
with a 2.88 average rating

That rating is not very good. I’ve read a few amazing books this year but a slew of books that I determined weren’t really worth reading. The second half of the year will be better than the first half, right?

One of the books I accepted for review has slightly boosted that average rating.

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Anything by Dee Henderson is almost guaranteed to be a four star read and this book was no exception. I believe I have read all of Henderson’s books and this one was fantastic. What makes it so unique is that the entire book takes place after Shannon escapes from her kidnappers. She seeks out Matthew, a private investigator, and slowly shares her story with him as they both attempt to right wrongs that have taken place over the last twenty or thirty years. I really appreciated how this story unfolded as Shannon and Matthew use the information she provides to track down the kidnappers so that justice can be served.

As I read the story, I was surprised to find something that may help with my parenting. We are traveling next week to adopt a 13 year old girl who has had a history of loss. She lost both her parents at an early age and now she’s losing her birth country, her caretakers, her language, and everything else that is familiar to her. We will be doing our best to help her feel safe and loved from day one but I am sure she will eventually share stories with us that will break our hearts. In the novel, Matthew is offered some advice about how to best help Shannon as she shares her very emotional history. He is told, “But I’d stay with the basic three rules – listen, try not to react, and keep your reply at the same emotional tone she sets” (59).

This advice really makes sense to me. When my daughter shares something emotional from her history, I have to first listen to her. Truly listen. I have to try not to react to the story she shares because otherwise I may unintentionally discourage her from sharing more details. And I need to respond with the same emotional tone she uses to share. I don’t want to burst into tears if she matter of factly drops an alarming detail while we’re playing a game. If that happens, she may feel that she’s a burden or that I cannot handle what she’s sharing.

In a later section of the book, Shannon shares some of how she feels about God. She attempts to answer the age old question of why God allows suffering. I thought her explanation was rather insightful.

He did [allow the kidnapping]. And I wondered for a time if God still loved me… I’d like a featherbed world where falling out of a tree didn’t break a bone, where a guy couldn’t land a blow on someone smaller than himself, where no one ever got to touch me without my consent. That’s the world I would have created. But God decided to create a world where free will was more important than no one ever getting hurt. There must be something stunningly beautiful and remarkable about free will that only God can truly grasp, because God hates, literally abhors, evil, yet He created a world where evil could happen if people chose it. God sees something in free will and choice that’s worth tolerating the horrifying blackness that would appear if evil was chosen rather than good. I find that utterly remarkable…

God gave Adam and Eve that free will and a choice. He gave them one warning: eat of any tree that is here, including the wonderful tree of life, but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I wish Adam and Eve had thought more about what knowledge meant. … But how do you really know something? You experience it. … The sad thing about evil, we did this to ourselves. It wasn’t God’s plan. God expected, fully intended, for Adam and Eve to obey what He had said, to leave the tree of good and evil alone. We’re Adam and Eve’s children, reaping their decision. We chose the knowlege – the experience of good and evil – and we found out just how bitter and dark evil really is. We experience it now. That’s our reality. There’s probably not a person alive who wouldn’t want to go back and see that decision changed, now that we have tasted how bad it turned out to be. My faith survived because I realized God didn’t want this for us, He never had (107-109).

Definitely a thought provoking summary of free will.

I am so glad that I accepted this book for review. My only complaint with the novel, and it’s a flaw that I feel runs throughout Henderson’s books, is that the characters are too perfect. They have challenges, yes. Bad things happen to them. But overall, they handle life perfectly. Even when they make a mistake, they bounce back immediately and learn deep, valuable life lessons that they are able to apply from that moment forward.

Still, it was a fantastic read and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to read and review Taken. Many thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity. All thoughts are my own!

9 days and counting!

I am so excited that our countdown is finally in the double digits! Other adoptive parents have told me that when they looked back, they could honestly say that the wait went quickly. I’m not sure I would say the same thing, but it is progressing at a steady pace. Nine more days until we leave for Taiwan! Yippee!!

Yesterday we met up with another adoptive family with children from Taiwan. I was able to play (American) football with their children and had a blast. That visit made me so much more eager to travel and bring my daughter home! I want to start building memories with her.

Today we are meeting with some friends from church to have a dim sum brunch. I’ve never had dim sum before and am excited to try it. I think this will be our last social outing before leaving as we still have a lot to accomplish and want to try to get some solid rest before we leave.

After dim sum, we are heading to the store to return a couple of shirts we bought for my husband and try to find me a new pair of sneakers. I had no intention of buying new sneakers before our trip but I discovered last week that mine have a rip down the side. I’m not even sure how old they are. Six or seven years, probably. I knew I was going to replace them at some point but was hoping to wait a couple of months!

This evening, I’m hoping to do a trial packing run for our clothing. My daughter’s suitcase is already packed but I have not tried to pack ours. I’m doing laundry this morning so that all of our clothes are clean. I want to know if everything will fit in one suitcase or if we need to bring a second or plan on doing laundry in Taiwan. I would prefer to not do laundry if at all possible, though I did find out our hotel has laundry service available.

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On Friday I found this lovely blue binder to hold all of our visa paperwork. It’s so pretty!

Nine more days and counting!

Panic mode

I am starting to hit panic mode about our upcoming trip. We leave in only 11 more days!! It’s not that I’m not prepared, because I am. We’re almost packed, as much as we can be at this point. The paperwork is ready. Reservations have been booked. We have loose plans for each day in Taiwan. I’m about as ready as I can be.

But for some reason, I’m starting to panic. I’m trying to allow myself to feel each emotion and then let it go. If I fight against the panic, it just gets worse. I am most nervous about the travel itself. I have never flown internationally and have irrational fears about going the wrong way at the airport and getting chased by men with guns. Last night I talked to a friend here in Seattle about what it’s like flying internationally in and out of the Seattle airport. So she walked me through security, what the flight will be like, what immigration is like on the way back, and how to pick up our luggage. That conversation helped.

We have a hotel shuttle scheduled for our arrival in Taipei. A driver will be there with a sign with our names on it. The hotel does not have early check in but will see if they have a room available when we arrive. If not, they said they will hold our luggage for us so that we don’t have to haul it around Taipei while we wait for a room. Since we arrive in Taipei at 5:30 in the morning, we’ll have plenty of time to kill and will probably be exhausted. Again, getting these details worked out with the hotel helped.

Our time in Tainan is very loosely scheduled. We meet our daughter on Monday morning and will probably be at the adoption agency for several hours. There is a possibility that we’ll eat lunch with the staff. After that, we’re on our own. Just the three of us.

On Tuesday morning, we’ll be going back to the adoption agency. We’re unsure of the plans for that morning, but they could include an orphanage visit and a going away party for our daughter. It’s a half hour drive to the orphanage and a half hour drive back. Sometime late afternoon we have to catch the bullet train back to Taipei because our visa appointment is Wednesday morning.

Analyzing my feelings, I’m not really freaking out about the actual parenting. I know that meeting my daughter will probably be awkward. I speak a little Chinese and she speaks a little English so we’ll be able to communicate on a basic level. She does want to be adopted, though I’m sure she’ll be nervous and scared and upset about leaving what is familiar. Being mama is not what I’m anxious about. It’s all the travel. Getting around in a foreign country. A lot of it is probably because I will make mistakes with paperwork or where to go and I hate looking like an idiot in front of people.

I keep breathing and telling myself, “it’ll be ok. It will be ok.” I need to pray for peace. I wish I was confident enough that I could just hop on that plane and be excited about meeting my daughter. I am excited! I’m also terrified!

Cooking adventures

I finally finished deep cleaning my kitchen. It took way too long because I kept getting distracted by plane tickets, hotel reservations, shopping for our trip, and Candy Crush. Whoops! But I’m thrilled with the results.

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before

The entire kitchen has now been KonMarie’d, scrubbed, and organized.

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after

My husband was hankering after baked macaroni and cheese so I found a new recipe online and baked up a pan.

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It was so good!! I used panko instead of bread crumbs and it baked perfectly.

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We’ll definitely make the recipe again.

One small financial step at a time

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted about our financial journey. In the past two years, we’ve been focusing on adoption. Let’s face it – adoption is expensive. But we haven’t given up on finding financial freedom!

A quick back story – my husband and I both made some really stupid financial decisions after turning 18. We both attended private college and paid for our tuition and living expenses with student loans. We both racked up credit card debt. I bought a brand new car. Both of us spent money with no regard to the future.

After we got married, we realized just how buried we were in debt and monthly payments. When we combined our finances, we discovered that we owed a whopping total of $95,856.02. I don’t know exactly how much we were paying every month, but I know it was at least $1,300. That was just to cover the minimum payments.

We were so frustrated, completely broke, and had no idea what to do in order to climb out of the hole we’d buried ourselves in. Thankfully, and I believe it’s a God thing, a coworker introduced us to Dave Ramsey’s financial principles. That was seven years ago. We put together a budget, cut all unnecessary expenses, and starting sending every extra penny to our debt.

We are not completely out of debt but we are so much closer. We have an emergency fund in place, no car payments, and no credit card debt. We’ve paid cash for one and a half adoptions, moved to Washington, and ended up with me as a full time homemaker after a job layoff. I’m not saying any of this to brag, just showing how we changed our financial lives.

Today we reached another small milestone. I love celebrating the milestones because it encourages me to keep making forward progress. After paying our student loans, we finally dropped below $30,000 owed. We are finally in the twenties instead of being in the thirties. I’m so excited! This month’s payment dropped my husband’s student loan below $10,000 so his debt is now four digit debt instead of five. And my biggest student loan is now under $15,000. We still have a long way to go but we’re climbing out one step at a time. I cannot wait until the day we can finally yell, “we’re free!!!!”

Once we get back from Taiwan, we get to make the next big financial decision. Do we attack the rest of the student loans so that we can get out of debt completely? Do we save up a down payment so that we can buy a house instead of wasting our money renting? Or do we see about starting another adoption so that we can bring home a second daughter? We are praying about it! I can’t wait to see which direction God points us.

A fresh start

Since we’re headed to Taiwan in just a couple of weeks, I wanted to redo my blog with a fresh look and a new domain name. My wonderful, ever-so-patient husband spent most of this weekend helping me with the back end updates since I have a lot to learn about the technical side of things.

We could not figure out a way to install Google Friend Connect, so I apologize to those who have been following me using that app.

If you cannot comment or see some other glaring error, please feel free to email me! I look forward to connecting with you!

17 days until we leave for Taiwan.
22 days until we meet our daughter!

Paperwork galore

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20 days until travel! 25 days until we meet our daughter!!


Today I finished gathering and copying and printing all of the paperwork we need for our visa appointment. I find it very ironic that she’s already legally our daughter and yet we have to bring almost an inch of paperwork to Taiwan.

This packet is on top of all of the court paperwork, her birth certificate and family registry, passports, etc. How many trees does it take to complete an adoption? Many, I am sure!

We get paid tomorrow and I have to make a copy of our pay stub to include in this packet. Once that’s done, we are ready for Taiwan! I can’t wait!