"To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." Isaiah 61:3

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter Wonderland

We have had quite the winter in North Dakota. Thought I would post some pics of Daddy, Grace & me playing in the snow. (This is especially for you--Texas Cousins....)



Here's Me Standing on a massive snow "hill".....



Here's Grace & Daddy sledding in the street:



Silly Grace! Just don't stick that tongue on a metal pole!



MMMMMMMM.....Back inside, by our fireplace, with hot chocolate and ESPN in the background.....This is the life! (according to Kevin, that is....)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Texas Cousins

Introducing our Texas cousins: Alex, Kassie, Julianna, Victoria, and Natasha. Aren't they adorable!!



We don't get to see them very often. But they are very excited to have a new cousin. They are hoping to visit us this summer, so we are praying that Bella will be home with us when they arrive.

Poor Sam - outnumbered again! (only boy)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Grab this Button

Hey, look at the great button that Amanda http://amandasgraphics.blogspot.com/ designed for us! Thanks so much!

If you would like to put the graphic on your blog, just copy the code below and it will duplicate this beautiful design for Bella.



Grab This Button



Bittersweet Birthday....

Our "Sissybeth" turns 15 today! We had her little birthday celebration early this morning (7:30 a.m.) because she is going to Kenmare after school to do stats for the boys basketball team. That means she won't be back home until after 10 or 11 tonight.

Then, around 10:30 a.m. we received a phone call that my Granny went home to be with the Lord. She was 99 years old. We are glad she is at peace but still feel the loss.



So as we celebrate the birth of our oldest daughter, we are saddened by the loss of our dear, sweet Granny!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dates and Stuff......

This post will probably be more for me than anything. I want to document what we have done and the costs to date. Here goes:

1/7/09 Committed to Brandi---------------------------Yay!
1/7/09 Ordered birth & marriage certificates----------$90
1/7/09 Took Taylor Johnson and parenting tests------$65
1/8/09 Family Support Page & app/love gift------------$50
1/10/09 Passport pictures taken-------------------------$35
1/20/09 I600A mailed----------------------------------$830
1/21/09 Home Study Application/background---------$380
1/28/09 TB test, bloodwork & labs----------------------$100
1/28/09 Passports applied--------------------------------$200

Summer 2009 Bringing Bella Home----$PRICELESS!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Daddy & Grace

Daddy and Grace are very close. They wrestle, go to SkyRocket games, and to the "ooo" office. (new office). They both like to play "ootball" (football). Here they are in a combo game of wrestling/football:
















Won't it be fun with two girls ganging up on Daddy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

How This Came To Be.......

Ever since Grace was born, we toyed with the idea of adopting a child with Down syndrome. Kevin would say that if someone dropped off a baby with DS at our door, he would adopt in a heartbeat.

We continued to think and pray over the years until we felt we just needed to do this. Through a series of events, we ended up on a website called Reece's Rainbow. The ministry's purpose is to promote the international adoption and rescue of children with Down syndrome. Here's the link: www.reecesrainbow.org This organization is run by a gracious woman who totally volunteers her time and talents to bring families and orphans with DS together. ALL money donated goes to the children's adoption--she is a volunteer and takes no salary! Thank you, Andrea!

After pouring over pictures, one little girl stood out among the rest. Here is what her description says:

Girl, Born February 17, 2005
SIGNIFICANT RISK, PLEASE ADOPT ME SOON!!
Brandi is a precious, healthy, high functioning little girl who needs a family ASAP. She has light brown hair and blue eyes. She is very active and mobile and loves to play with dolls. She is also able to "pretend play", which is a wonderful skill and says a lot about her cognitive ability.
From her caregivers: "Brandi is very cheerful, tender, kind and calm. She smiles when communicating with others. Concentrates her attention on books, very interested in pictures/drawings. Interested in musical instruments. Understands when she is addressed by adults, performs tasks on elementary level. She dresses herself and eats herself, independently. Repeats certain words after adults. Likes to play with toys and especially Barbie dolls. A specific example: when she was recently asked: "Brandi, please put the doll to sleep." In response, Brandi took the toy bed, put/set up bedding into the bed, put the doll into the bed, covered her with small blanket, started to sway/rock the cradle softly and sign a lullaby song. "

Please give Brandi the chance to blossom in a loving family, like all of the rest of our children have! She will be transferred soon, please help her!

We committed to Brandi aka Bella on January 7th. And now we are in the Home Study process with Catholic Charities of ND. Our social worker, Lisa, has been great to work with.

It is our hope to be able to travel this summer to bring Bella home. Thanks to everyone who has been so encouraging and supportive to us as we start this journey. We won't be able to do this without all of our family and friends!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our Family

Well, I suppose I will eventually have to show a picture of myself. So, here is our Christmas card from last year. It will be so fun next year to have Bella in our family photo too. We are patiently awaiting her arrival. Ok, maybe not so patiently!

And I should also post a picture of our cat Jake. He is actually our first adoption--we got him when he was two years old. He's a great cat!
From our family to yours.............Have Blessed Sunday!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Grace's Space


Now, it's Grace's turn. This fiesty 8 year old girl has filled our lives with richness and joy. When I was pregnant with her, we found out through ultrasound that the baby was going to be a girl. This was good because we only had a girl name picked out. Kevin said if it was a boy we would have to name him II Samuel. Ha! So, we selected the name Grace which means "blessing given, undeserved." Little did we know how true this would be!
We were very shocked when she entered the world and was found to have Down Syndrome. This was not what we expected! However, God had other plans for our family.

Here are ten facts about this little lady:

1) Loves ketchup!

2) Swimming, dance, and playgrounds are her favorite activities.

3) She can't wait for High School Musical III to come out on DVD. Saw it in the theater MANY times with Daddy.

4) Loves the bus, especially Char & Diane, and school including Kirkason, Pam, Lisa, Dawn, Robard, Leslie, Mock, Nick, Engal, and on and on......

5) Wears bright colored clothing - best if not matching!

6) Sleeps like a pretzel or folded up in half

7) Operates any DVD, CD or computer with ease

8) Loves to greet people with a handshake and says "Hi, I Grace, what your name?"

9) Can write her name, count sums up to ten, and can sight read almost 50 words!

10) She loves her family sooooo much!

When Grace first saw Bella on the computer, she said "Hey, that's me, it's Grace." We are thankful to be able to give her a sister that will not only look like her, but will be her forever sister!

We thank God for his sovereignty because if given the choice, we would have probably traveled a different path. But thank God, he knew what would be best by giving us this "blessing undeserved!"

Friday, January 23, 2009

Meet Sam......

Today is all about Sam. My middle guy. What can I say, but when God handed out sons, He blessed me with one of the best.
This little man is sensitive, smart, and has his Dad's sense of humor. He also gives great hugs!

When we told him about the adoption, he said "I don't know why, but I feel really good inside about saving a little girl's life."

Sam loves to draw cartoons and animate them on the computer. Just like his Dad, he is on the phone calling his friends and making plans for get-togethers. He loves to be surrounded by people! Sam goes to Awana, plays soccer, and is tolerating the saxophone :)..... But if you ask Sam what he loves most in life, he would most definitely answer "God!"

Thank you, God, for this beautiful boy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Introducing......Sissy

Today, we meet Elizabeth a.k.a "Sissy, Liz, Sissybeth...." She is a beautiful girl inside and out. She really was the impetus for us to adopt. One day she said to me, "You know, Mom, I am only going to be home for a few more years, so if we are going to adopt we should do it now. I want to be a part of my new sister's life...."

To share about my firstborn, here's what I wrote about her in my home study autobiography:

"Elizabeth is a delightful girl who achieves high goals. She maintains straight A’s, won the city/county spelling bee in 2008 and placed 6th in the state. She plays the clarinet, volleyball, and is the student manager for Boys Basketball. She is very interested in writing and participated and completed in a writing a Novel in November (NANOWRIMO) writing challenge. She is an excellent writer who has already achieved many awards. Elizabeth has a heart for people with disabilities and has been a camp counselor for Camp Recreation in Richardton the last two summers. She is reserved, kind, and smart!"
Elizabeth is already a wonderful big sister to Sam and Grace. She is so excited to get Bella home. I thank God for this precious girl!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm Diving In

Steven Curtis Chapman, a favorite Christian artist of mine, has a song that truly describes my feelings at this moment. Here are the lyrics to "Dive":

The long awaited rains
Have fallen hard upon the thirsty ground
And carved their way to where
The wild and rushing river can be found
And like the rains
I have been carried here to where the river flows

My heart is racing and my knees are weak
As I walk to the edge
I know there is no turning back
Once my feet have left the ledge
And in the rush I hear a voice
That's telling me it's time to take the leap of faith
So here I go

I'm diving in
I'm going deep in over my head I want to be
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow, in over my head I want to go
The river's deep, the river's wide, the river's water is alive
So sink or swim
I'm diving in........

So here I go..... Blogging (which I said I would never do) about adopting a precious little girl from Eastern Europe. How much scarier can it get for an old mama like me! But I'm taking a deep breath and "diving" in. Won't you join us as we take this leap of faith?