Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Now This is Interesting

Since we are in Latvia, Google, who powers my blog, is recognizing we are in Latvia.  So my Dashboard, profile, all of it, are showing up in Latvian!  How funny!  As long as it doesn't translate automatically or something, I think we'll be ok ;-)

There is SO much to share from our travels and how God has smiled on us so wonderfully over the past 48 hours.  Oh yes, we've had trials and issues...but EVERYTHING has worked out beautifully and Gary and I actually said tonight, it was an EASY travel to get here.

I'm just going to jump right in and if I get too tired I'll just have to pick up tomorrow.  We are very very tired.  And our concerns over tomorrow are getting to us all...moreso to me, Gary and Zach especially.  M&M and E are, as always, just happy to be here.  That's an inside joke with some of my family but if you know them, you understand it.  They make fun, laughter and joy anywhere they go...all three of them.

But let's go back to this morning...wait, Tuesday morning.  Since I literally have not slept since I got up Tuesday morning at 6:30am (well maybe a couple of cat naps here and there) it feels like this is all one REALLY long day.  We were up on time, a little nervous.  Finished our packing, ate some breakfast, took care of all of the last minute details and our wonderful friend Chris Diehl was there promptly at 8am to pick us up.  The luggage was a bit overwhelming but we took one suitcase per person (6!) plus one carry on per person (6!) plus 6! people!  We loaded up, snapped a quick picture and away we went. 

Now, we didn't think we needed to be at the airport quite so early...but God did.  Before leaving Chris prayed with us which helped calm all of us and then we hit the road.  And then we hit traffic!  We got to the airport a little after 9am and there was NO LINE!  We went straight to check in thinking we had PLENTY of time.  Hehe...there were issues with our ticketing!  Apparently there was a challenge with transferring the tickets the number of times we had to do so because of Irene and the uncertainty of our travel.  The agent tried everything she could to fix it but said she could not on her end.  We needed to call our travel agent. 

Don't panic, step to the side, sit down.  Start calling.  I called home, work and cell and no answers...for 20 minutes.  Then out of desperation, I called a client that knows my agent very well.  I am so grateful that idea popped into my head because she reminded me that my agent was having surgery this morning.  He wouldn't be out before 12noon at the best...our flight was to leave at 12:10pm.  I put on my sweetest smile and attitude and walked up to the ticketing agent.  I told her our situation and I told her there was no one else to help us, could she please. 

Precious Mary Mannon made it happen!  It took her about 45 minutes but she worked her magic, found our tickets, transferred them over AND gave us seat assignments that kept us together and let the kids have window seats for their first ever flights. 

We took a photo with her...I'll post tomorrow as I am too tired to figure out my USB cable and my laptop
;-)  Suffice it to say when we were all finished I asked if I could hug her, told her she was certainly an angel sent to calm us.  Through our conversation I did determine she was in fact a believer and I am so grateful for her.  The other agents were a bit short-tempered and not so much into helping...she on the other hand was happy for the diversion of needing to use her brain and her skills. 

We headed to security and went through it quickly.  E was a pro...pulling out the bin, shucking off his shoes.  The others did a fine job as well.  We agreed we would head on to the gate and get settled in before looking for bathrooms or snacks.  I have determined that if you have to connect three times, it is easier to make the first connection domestically.  Security is much easier...when we traveled in March, we had to fly straight to Paris and go through security a second time which was pretty stressful.  At the gate, we called and texted our goodbyes with promises to call again in Chicago.

Flight was early, and fun.  Mae was full of questions, "how does this work, what does this do, how do we know what's free and what we have to pay for?"  So much so that by the time we boarded for Helsinki, she knew everything and happily educated her brother and sister on how to work all the controls.  We got to Chicago about 20 minutes early, found our connecting gate.  Lunch at McDonald's, bathroom break and last cup of Starbucks for 2 weeks...and one more call to my BFF (my mama!)...and we were off to Helsinki.

Overall the flight was great.  Attendants were a little testy and E was bouncing off the walls again...but NOTHING like March.  When we said go to sleep, he tried to comply.  There's just too much stimulation on those planes!  Here's where we passed from Tuesday to Wednesday and really, I didn't sleep at all on the plane.  Exhaustion started to set in...but gratefully everyone else did end up sleeping at least for an your or two each.

The big 3 did great though and the only rough part really is that we were about 10 minutes late arriving to Finland.  Our flight from Helsinki to Riga was supposed to leave at 9:30am and we were scheduled to land at 8:40am. YIKES! 

We hit the ground running in Finland and I was stressing for us to make it from gate 30-something to 20a.  We had to have our passports checked and they had to ask us several questions about E.  How long are you staying, where are you staying, why do you have him?  I just wanted to shout, "Hey, we're headed BACK to Riga...and if you ask much more we're going to be stuck here in Finland!"  But I didn't...thanked him and drill sergeant style told my entourage to step it up, we were going to miss our connector.  E didn't want to hold anyone's hand but rather, from fatigue, wanted to amble...stagger really...through all the business travelers causing really lovely kind looks all over the airport HAHA (now I can laugh about it).  At the time I took him by the wrist (thanks Trish!) and guided him jog style to our gate.  Now please remember our plane was to LEAVE...not 9:35am..  We arrived at the gate at 9:20am. 

The agent was so kind...she said in her wonderful accent..."Why rush?  We are not!"  I was fully expecting a mutiny from my party as to why I made them run through the airport, grumble through a needed bathroom break and guzzling water we bought in Chicago because I thought we were going through security once again.  But I didn't...nothing but sweet smiles because they were glad to be on the last leg of the journey.

As you who have been reading this know, I sometimes wax philosophical at times...and here is my regression ;-)  First of all, I want to tell you how many times today I have reflected on how incredibly blessed we are to be able to do this trip.  Back when J was first decided we talked about how fun it would be for Zach to come with us on this trip...then that grew to everyone.  And we prayed and prayed for us to do the right thing financially and that all would be provided for us to be able to.  And while we aren't doing this entirely debt free, He has provided the resources to be able to.  This experience with ALL of our children is wonderful. 

I take for granted they know where to go and what to do...and it dawns on me that they don't even know how seats are numbered or lettered on the plane.  I hear a chorus every time we board of "where do I sit mom?"  And I LOVE it!  This is something they will tell their kids about.  Some of you may be blessed in ways where international travel is no big deal...but I can tell you I don't have that memory with my parents.  And I think it is just something you just can't replace.

Second, is that Karen Kingsbury wrote this great little book called "Just Beyond the Clouds."  I liked that book and sentiment so much as the fact that if you go high enough, past the storms, there's beautiful clouds and sunshine up above.  I had just shared this with the kids as we were boarding the plane (had to take a shuttle bus to the tarmac for the commuter jet we were on and the rain was coming down hard!) and as we taxied away and prepared to take off, I told them it would be cool if we did that today.  The flight was only 45 minutes so I thought he may not go that high...but sure enough he did.  Straight up through the gray, gloomy day of rain up to where there's sunshine and fluffy clouds.  And yes, that is what life is like.  If we just weather the storm and set our sights on things above, there is sunshine and fluffy clouds and nothing bad or gray.

So, back to our journey...

We landed in Riga on time and here's where my heart started to hurt.  I love this place.  It is where our sons are from.  I love the people, the language, the food...I don't know why really.  It isn't exceptionally beautiful and the food's a little odd.  I just have an affection for it that makes me miss it...and when we landed I was reminded the last time we came here, J and his orphan director and our translator that has become my dear dear friend (already my sister) were all waiting for us. 

My two biggest worries as we traveled were that all our luggage (did I mention we were traveling with 6!) would make it and that we would figure out transportation to our apartment.  (did I mention we had 6! Eastern Europe??  Where big vehicles are not common??)

We got to baggage claim and I went to exchange a little money to pay for the cab fare and Gary went in search of our bags.  Kids headed to restrooms and watching our carryons. 

ALL our bags made it...every single one.  We went through customs and I nearly cried as we exited because THAT is where J had been but keeping it together and the task at hand headed straight out to the cabs.  There were two mini vans so I approached and asked "English, Please?"  He said "ya, of course!"  LOVE the accent!!  I asked how we get one of those and he said reservation to the desk inside.  I went in and she only had two smaller cars...that's ok!  Paid our flat rate of 10 lats per car and went out to claim our cars. 

The drivers both spoke English too and knew exactly where we were headed.  On the drive, you guys know me...I strike up a conversation.  His name is Jurgis and he'd love to be our cab driver while we are here.  I have his cell number ;-)  He's suggested the Latvian National Art Museum, Old Town and many other excursions.  I loved recognizing things and pointing them out to the girls.  Spice Mall, US Embassy, Freedom Monument, President's Home (really where he works), the ferries, Dagauva River.  Did I mention how much I really love this place? 

Chris and Jen had loaned us their Latvian cell phone, so I was able to call our dear friend who confirmed the owner of the apartment was on her way to meet us.  We waited about 10 minutes and there she was.  Another beautiful Latvian (inside and out) to sweetly show us the apartment (it's great!) and also walk us to where we can exchange money to pay her as well as take care of what we need for court.  I asked her where the closest grocery was and she said 7 story mall, turn left here.  It is literally one street over from our apartment!  We got her settled and decided to just veg for a while.  We couldn't figure out what time it was...HAHA...still not sure.  My computer says assuming it is around 9 or so? 

We did determine it was about lunchtime so the kids made Ramen noodles, some of us took naps, some took showers.  I am SO glad I went to the trouble for all this food!  If we manage this just right, and we've all committed to it, then this will really be workable for us to not go broke.  Food is not cheap here. 

I blew a circuit drying my hair and had to get in touch with the owner (again grateful for the cell phone Jen!) who very kindly walked us through how to get it back fun.  She said to use the metal stairs to flip one big switch up took a few minutes to realize she meant ladder!  Here I was thinking we were headed in a secret staircase to Narnia or something.  Speaking of that, our apartment is really cool...odd doors and closets in the strangest places.  And two kitchens.

And the most magnificent huge jacuzzi tub that fills up WITHOUT running out of hot water.  The water is hot, so wonderfully hot!  I took a lovely tub bath and am certain I will do this daily as my treat to myself.

Once we got the power up and running again, we decided to head out for dinner and shopping.  We are all so tired we knew it needed to be just those two things or we'd never make it.  So we headed to our 7 story mall (Galleria Riga) and looked for food first.  The 7th floor has really great Oyster Bar, Italian, etc.  We found a restaurant called Harry Morgan that looked a little more family friendly and boy did we hit the jackpot.  GREAT food...and reasonable.  We had:  Tomato and Mozzarella Wrap, three Harry Swiss Burgers (no jokes here Unka Waba), potato latkes, hummus and Israeli Salad, spicy Chicken Wrap and chips (fries).  It was SO good and we had leftovers to bring home. 

We headed out after to go to the grocery but Zach suggested we go up to the rooftop we did.  And it was amazing views of Riga.  Old and new all mixed in together...again, photos tomorrow.  We walked around there for a while and E started to really melt down.  So, Gary and Zach headed back with E to the apartment while me and the girls went to the grocery. 

We only spent 30lats and got a LOT of stuff!  Water, soda, bananas, bilberries (blueberries), piens (milk), apple juice, orange juice, tomatoes, wheat bread, white bread, creamer, paper towels, coffee, coffee filters, sugar, eggs, butter, I think that was about it.  And this Rimi has some very nice looking fresh cooked rotisseri chicken...I'm thinking dinner with some mashed potatoes and sugar peas or green beans.  Yes, I found all this in the store!

One other thing I am struck by is how America and English permeates this city and many of the areas we've traveled through.  It also makes me feel rotten that we have such confidence that someone will be able to speak our language when we travel abroad but yet many of us are intolerant of those who don't speak English in our country.  The cab driver, the server at Harry Morgan, the pastry chef at Rimi...all happily spoke English to help me (us) wherever we went.  1.  We need to learn another language and 2.  We need to be more patient and kind!  There was american music on the radio in the cab and american music in the store...and I'm currently watching something on FoxCrime right now in's the only thing I can understand...but do we have any Russian or Latvian channels in America?  Anyway, not really a soapbox so no need to chastise me...just an observation.

So back to the apartment and I desperately need a nap.  I try, oh I try, and my sweet daughters unpack all our food and suitcases.  Put all our clothes away, stack suitcases and organize the kitchens and the gifts we have brought.  My sweet E is bouncing all over the apartment, dancing, singing, "Maamaaaaa! Goooood!" etc etc.  I finally give up.  Grumpy, tired...wanting to cry...and I do a little. 

It is starting to sink in that tomorrow all our questions will be answered.  We go to court at 1pm and have to meet Daina at Cilli Pica at 12pm.  (I know where this is and I LOVE that!)  After that we go to Spriditis and we meet with J.  And after that we will know. 

We are concerned, we are worried even...but we are still trusting.  Zach is having probably the hardest time. 

E finally gives up and out of the blue brushes his teeth (it is around 7) and says night night!  Olo!  He's gone back to that on occasion.  Then he goes to put himself in the bed.  After struggling with him all afternoon to be a little quieter so everyone can nap that wants to, we decide we should go dance around his bed and give him a taste...he loves it.  Laughing as we all give him hugs and tuck him in. 

Zach has fallen asleep in his room so we head in there next and there we give it all to God.  He has brought us to Latvia, He knows the desires of our hearts...and He will decide what is best for our family.  We truly have no idea what the outcome of tomorrow will be.  We only know that E for sure is coming home and we pray that J is too.

So much has already been worked out though...we'll be calling Jurgis tomorrow for a ride, our travels speak for themselves and court for E was rescheduled without issues.  I am confident God will work out this last part too. 

Eyes are burning from being up way too long...a few critical reminders please:
That we get up on time and all are ready with our certain to be jet lagged bodies.
All of our paperwork is in order and no issues when we get to court.
J to be receptive and at the very least agree to come spend some time with us while we are here.
J to come home!
1pm court, 12pm meet Daina, probably 3 or so for J meeting

I think that's it...I promise photos tomorrow!
Good night all!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Don't Feel Much Like Writing

But figured I should.  We're all set to leave tomorrow.  And this entry will really be more of an update for everyone. I think we're all a bit on edge because of the "hurry up and wait" of this trip.  All set to leave Saturday and then delayed...hoping to leave on Sunday but that was a no go...and now leaving tomorrow.

I am still very grateful for having the extra time to really get things finished.  We are done packing, we do have transportation to the airport.  I think I'll feel better once we finally get in motion. So you all can keep us in your thoughts and prayers (please)...we fly BWI to Chicago on a 12:10pm, Chicago to Helsinki on a 2:30pm, Helsinki to Riga on a 9:30am (Wednesday morning).

Our new court date is September 1 at 1pm.  Right after that we will go to the orphanage to visit with J and see what his thoughts are.  We are confused because he was told the challenges we are having with travel and he told them "no" but then today we received another email from him telling us he "loves us *more*" and will see us soon. 

A praise to share is that we did here from Daina and she assures us we can get through all the required stuff in the time frame we have.  So, we will be able to leave on September 9 to come home...unless J says yes.  And if he does then we'll have to stay in Latvia longer. 

So once again we're needing to put this new "storm" in His hands to work it out.  J can say yes, and things could wonderfully work out for us to get it all done in time so we don't have to pay yet again to fix airline tickets.  And, we also know that it may just very well be in His will for J not to come home.  I'm sure this all has a lot to do with my mood today.

To share a bit of sunshine with you all...yesterday was a wonderful glimpse of normalcy.  Now that may sound strange because we all went through a hurricane either directly or from those outlying bands...but it was a "normal" day!  There was very little packing to be done and instead of working on anything really travel or adoption related, we simply enjoyed each other as a family.  I worked on puzzles with my girls, played outside and visited (long overdue) with a great friend.  I have to say it was quite possibly the best day I have had in months. 

In fact, it inspired me for my FB post yesterday that I DO think storms need to come more often.  They take away the things we think we need like TV, Internet and even power...and leave us to turn to the things we REALLY need like visiting with those friends, playing with our kids or simply having some quiet time.  And then the realization hit me...that the storms we have in life do the same things.  The thing we hold most dear might be stripped from our grasp...but it turns us to the One whose grasp we can never be stripped from.

That's it for today...Praying for brighter outlooks tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's been a long day figuring out flights, finishing packing and all around cabin fever as we wait for this storm to come and go.  In spite of it all, it has been a great day.  To make sure everyone is up to speed, we are now leaving Tuesday on the earliest flight Finnair could get us to not make fares change.  And yes, we tried everything!

We could have gotten a refund and rebooked tickets leaving tonight...but who has that much cash laying around?  We'd have waited for the refund to buy the tickets and then they'd be gone.  We could have taken a flight out of Dulles was only $2900 per ticket.  So we did the reasonable thing and took the Tuesday flight...and we've emailed Latvia to say we're not going to make it.

I feel sure we'll be able to get court changed...but, we also have experienced about everything one can experience on this journey.  All the joys, heartaches, name it, we've done it. So this leg of the adventure should not be any different.  It's cool though how we really are ok with all of it.  We're a little tired...but now we have plenty of time to rest up!

So after a few hours on the phone figuring it out and a few more making sure the resolution was communicated to everyone necessary, we decided to brilliantly go out in the storm.  We needed to run to the mall and we had the best time.  NO ONE was there!  No lines in the stores!  We cut up, laughed, played all around the mall and felt like it was open just for us.  Then, for my birthday, we went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner.  There's normally like a 30 minute wait there.  Tonight we walked in, were seated and had our food in very short order (good thing since there's nothing in the house...remember we're not supposed to be here?)

We laughed and giggled and played...hard to tell who was the adult and who was the kid!  And we missed J.  But E was very entertaining!  Us girls on one end of the table could not quit laughing...while the boys just looked at us and shook their heads.  I told them that this was why girls do "Girls Night Out"...we just "get" each other...and sometimes you just need to giggle.

Here we are back home and I thought I'd post quickly before the power goes out (seriously hoping it doesn't).  I've had quite a few people who are friends on FB asking me what we're up to.  Some know half the story and others don't know anything if they've missed my posts over the past months.  So, the quick story is:

Last year in October, Gary and I knew God was laying it on our hearts to be more involved in Orphan Ministry.  We, as Christians, are commanded in too many places in Scripture to help the orphan and the widow and we needed to do something *active* to make a difference. 

We decided a good first step was to host a child for Christmas.  This would give us the opportunity to allow a child to see a Christian family and let us see if our family was one that could assimilate a child who was not blood related into our would it feel, what would we do, how would our kids react?  We went into this not intending to adopt...just "check it out."  We picked J out of a biography/photolisting and began what would be the first of many stages of waiting. 

December 13 he arrived at National Airport super late in the middle of a snowstorm.  Gary and I would talk later about the fact that when we first saw him coming down the jetway, I looked at him and immediately felt love for him...that was our son.  Scary and weird to say the least.  We got home at a ridiculously late hour and the first thing he asked was if he could take a shower.  After getting everyone in the bed, we both said to each other that it did not feel like we had a stranger in our home.

We had five wonderful weeks with this boy and by the second week we were ruined.  We knew that as long as he wanted a family, we wanted to be that family.  On January 8, we went to a hosting party where we casually met E.  J mentioned "Mom, that's the little boy from my orphanage who follows me around sometimes."  He came up to me and gave me a hug...Gary and I joked then, "why not two at a time?"  (We never shared that with our friends the Hurlburts I think...Dave's mantra is SIBLING GROUP!)

Too much to else share here but suffice it to say, he left us on January 15 and we immediately dove head first into getting the adoption underway. 

A few days later we found out that E was still here on an extended visa...and we decided we'd love to meet him.  E was a special needs child and was just turning 7.  VERY different from spending time with J who was fluent in Russian, Latvian and English.  SO much happened in the following much that on "slow" nights for the blog, maybe I'll do a little Then and Now stuff.  We learned so much by being taken through all of that with God.  Trust, sharing, loving unconditionally - REALLY UNCONDITIONALLY - seeing a child who was sweet, everyone knew that, but in such need of focused love and development.  It was just unreal.

And I am so grateful to the Vargas family for bringing little E here and working so hard for him and other special needs children.  I was watching video of E today from our first weekend with him in January.  The only two words he could clearly say were Apple and J's name.  Might have been more but that was all we got.

Today, E is a blabbermouth!  Now, we still don't have communication (he's about 2 year old speech) but he gets his point across.  The other day a few weeks ago he stood at the refrigerator and with a little coaching from Mae said "I want apple juice please."  I cried. 

I cannot wait for his Orphan Director to see him...and there is so much more to share about this boy's amazing journey and how God has used him in so many ways to open the eyes of others. 

J has been through some challenges since going back...and we are not 100% certain that he will accept our adoption.  We have poured prayer all over this though and we know without a doubt that whatever God wants for our family WILL be done.  I beg him to let me be this boy's mama.  And I know it won't be easy.  He's a teenager for goodness''s not easy with the three I already have.  But we would no more walk away from this precious boy than we would the three we got to know and see from birth.  And little E?  Well, he's stuck with us ;-)

So this is why we must get to Latvia.  Our sons are waiting to come home...and while we've been blessed to have E with us all this time, we are so ready to start taking the title of orphan away from them.  For they are orphaned no more...they have a family.

Irene, You were NOT invited on this trip!

With all of my planning, posting, preparation and overall whirlwind of getting ready for this trip...we're still sitting at home.  There's this little thing called Hurricane Irene that decided to butt into our flight.

To bring everyone up to speed:

We packed and packed all day yesterday, never turning on the TV or radio. "Stay focused kids!  We've got a lot to do and we leave in 24 hours!!"  I had the mother of all lists working and my little soldiers were getting it done (well, mostly anyway).  About 4pm our wonderful Adoption Agency called to wish us well and find out if we'd been re-routed. Re-routed?  Why?  The storm isn't coming til late Saturday...I've already shared how cool it is that God knew all along?  What in the world do you mean??  We quickly hung up and I called my Travel Agent...only to find out that yes, our 2:35pm flight from BWI was, in fact, cancelled already. 

But not to worry!  He would get us on another.  We ran out for last minute errands and to the library where we got the call.  Good news!  He could get us on an earlier flight but we'd have to leave out of National at 6am.  Ugh!  How much does the family love us that was taking us to the airport??  I was looking forward to finishing packing, getting in bed for a good night's sleep, etc. etc.  My plan of course, right?  Our ride confirmed they would take us and the mad dash was one.  My humaness couldn't resist chastising my husband a little saying "this is exactly what I DIDN'T want to be doing."  Rushing around at the last minute, if I'd had a little help...blah blah blah!

We finished our errands and arrived back home starving around 8pm.  Not much food in the house, well we ARE going on a big trip...who buys groceries before a trip?  As Wal-Mart pizzas cooked, we continued our packing...checking off the list and getting things done. 

Then Daddy called.

Did you know the airports in NYC are closing at 12pm tomorrow?  Well, no, of course not.  I'm packing!  I quickly hung up and called the airline and while I'm on hold our wonderful Travel Agent calls.  Did you know the airports are closing in NYC tomorrow?  Well, yes, I do now!  He started working on flights for us and at 1am sent an itinerary that may work.  It gets us in when we need to get in but as of right now we don't know at what cost...financially. 

You see, there are a couple of things at play here.  Our court date is August 30 at 10am...we need to make that date!  E's visa that he's on right now expires August 31.  So, we can't miss that date either.  Amazingly, I haven't cried, I haven't stressed...other than the inconvenience of being stuck on the phone for a long time figuring it out, I am ok. 

This journey already has taught us so much about God's timing...He isn't going to change for us.  We are to change for Him.  I'm looking at all the positives:  laundry got finished, everyone got new shoes for school (and I got a really cute pair of camouflage sneakers for $4!), I was able to download all of our videos so we can have a camcorder on the trip, I've been able to check and double check our lists and pack extra gifts for the orphanage children...the list goes on. 

Gary wasn't ready either...he hates to fly...and he needed the extra time to not feel like we were rushing from a day at work to jumping on a plane. 

So while I don't get my day in New York City (sigh), I do get time to breathe and thank Him for lining it up just right.  Because whenever we are supposed to be on a plane, we'll be on a plane ;-)

I hear tempers getting a little tense upstairs...gotta run calm them.  I've not always been a very good Job through all of it's my turn to show what I've learned.  And as always, prayers appreciated!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Waiting for Laundry

I missed an entry yesterday...yes, I am trying to do one daily for my own benefit if not for the reading enjoyment of my friends and family.  A small glimpse to remind me a while from now of what I was thinking, feeling and dealing with on these days.  And yesterday after a wonderful birthday (thanks to all my family and friends) I was exhausted when I got home.

So, while I wait for laundry, I snuck over the computer to write.  I'm actually being entertained (I use that lightly) by my children and their fashion show for court...will this shirt work, do these pants look ok, is this warm enough?  And then the ongoing challenge that the critical piece we wait for is in the dryer right now...or waiting to be washed.  I'm at a moment of a standstill. 

I really can't believe that 24 hours from now we will be on our way to the airport.  We've had an earthquake this week and a Hurricane is headed our way.  A friend mentioned to me this morning "aren't you glad you aren't leaving Sunday!"  Then it dawned on me, we were supposed to leave Sunday.  The fares were too high so we switched to Saturday...isn't that amazing??  We'll get out before Irene gets here and be headed the opposite direction from her.  We pray for safety for all who are here and we are so grateful God lined all that up too.  You see WE had no way of knowing what was coming.  But HE did...and so earthly things were lined up to change the plan...and it seemed like such an inconvenience when I dealt with it last week ;-)

I've been a bit nostalgic this morning too.  Feeling like crying at the smallest things.  Don't know if it's turning 39 yesterday, the fact we're going on the biggest trip of our lives to date or the fact we are adding to our is a bit much I guess ;-)  But somehow I'm longing for days gone by. 

E still has no idea why we're all packing but he's excited.  And yes, there's still much to be done.  So, I better get off of here and find something to do with my time that will have me closer to Latvia!  Until later...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Love My Life

I just got home from's 10:15pm.  Well, not really...I've been home long enough to change clothes and put a load of laundry in.  But I just had to stop a minute and do a post.  Because I love my life!

It's been a very long day...again!  It's always rough the week before a vacation but when you're going to be away for 26 days, it's budget season, you have two large events while you are gone that you're entrusting to another team member, your assistant just got promoted and her last day is Friday (and she just got married so her first day back was today!) and two team members are on's a little rough.  Did I mention it'd been a long day? 

But the beautiful thing is that it all got done!  No, I'm not off tomorrow and yes, there's plenty to still fill my day tomorrow.  But piece by piece, it's all getting done.  All that I just mentioned and listed isn't the reason I love my life.  Now, let me be clear that I do love my job.  I am one of those people who have been blessed by having a career that I do love.  I love the people, I love events, I love that my family loves what I do...but I also am very aware that we have order to have lives.  And I have been really blessed by a career that provides for our family by a company that has been very good to us AS a family.  (again, a longer story for another time...but Hyatt Rocks!)

But what I LOVE...and I mean really that after my 38 mile commute and a nice chat with my mom on the drive and some really great praying time, I pull into the driveway and all is very quiet.  Physically exhausted, I trudge up the back deck steps and suddenly the house erupts into a cacophony of "Mama! Mama!! Zachturn Mama!!!"  E has spotted me ;-)

He quickly runs from Marleigh to Zach to Gary telling everyone I'm home.  He shows me dinner leftovers on the stove for me "Mama! Eat, Eat!"  He shows me the dishwasher where he put his own dishes in after dinner "Look, Gooooood (he's famous for that with the pursed lips and thumbs up). 

Then, this boy who just a few months ago was so needy and so wanting to be babied, he tells me "Mash it" (we've corrupted Latvian mazgat (wash)) and he's telling me he needs a bath.  Zach volunteers to give him his bath tonight and E is thrilled as his big brother picks him up over his shoulder...E laughing and mildly scolding "Zachturn!"

Then on to my sweet girls who are worn out!  Why?  Because they've decided they need to get the barn in order and have been diligently cleaning stalls for two days now. 

All I'm missing is J...and I think for a minute how it will be when he's home too.  Will he talk about basketball or the new chords he learned on the guitar today?  Or will my older boys just laugh and run down to play Xbox?  No matter...I can't wait for it...and I pray expectantly for it ;-)

All this energizes me - reminds me why I sometimes - not often - work 14 hour days.  I get a wonderful hug from my wonderful husband, go change my clothes, put a load of laundry in and hurry to the computer.  Because I want to write it down...share it...that I totally LOVE my life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nothing New...Really?

It's been a long day and when I thought about what to post tonight I thought, well, nothing really happened today.  Really?

No, not really.  It's been an amazing day of getting things done.  Budgets nearly finished, events finished detailing, memos nearly done outlining who's responsible for what while I am away (oh, and an earthquake!) MUCH to be done at work to be going on this part of our adventure.  And guess what?  While I am still "concerned" about getting it all is happening.  Piece by piece, one thing at a time, it is getting done.

This journey has taught me so much about living one day at a time.  When working through our involvement and then falling in love with could we get him in school for speech, who would watch him tomorrow, how would we pay for medical day, one piece at a time.  Then the papers...oh the papers!  There were so many of them!  How did we do it?  One piece at a time. 

One of my favorite sayings is "How do you eat an elephant?"  The answer is One Bite at a Time.  And that is what we have learned over and over again.  It only took me seven months to learn it...but hey, some people go a lifetime and never grasp it ;-)

I was sharing with a friend of mine after rejoicing yesterday over J's message to us.  And I commented that I just couldn't believe he'd finally answered.  And then I stopped myself because I said, wait, that is how we are supposed to believe...supposed to pray...EXPECTANTLY.  Knowing He can make anything happen if it is in His will. 

And then today, I heard on the radio about a message one of the announcers had heard from there were (and I'll most likely get the details wrong but the message will be right) these kings in the desert and they were out there to fight this big battle.  Drought came and there was no water for their animals, themselves or their men.  And they became frustrated saying "you brought us out here in the desert to die!"  They sought the advice of the prophet Elisha who told them to dig ditches.  Even when there was no sign of rain, no natural way to see that He would provide, move forward EXPECTANTLY and take action believing He would provide.  Sure enough the next morning, their ditches were full of water and He HAD provided for them. 

That really spoke to me...because all we know in this whole process is that God told us to adopt.  When the question was asked, our answer was yes.  And we began digging our ditches.  The filling part is all up to Him ;-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

There Are No Words

As I began to think about writing tonight's post, I truly couldn't think of what to call it.  And so...there are no words! 

No words to describe how hesitantly thrilled I am!  I've been praising our God all day today because today...TODAY!...we finally heard from J! 

I was reminded by our wonderful adoption agency that since we are working with a Hague country we need to carefully respect their since this blog is on the full web with really no "controls" we won't be posting any pics of them until later or using their full names.  Those of you who know us and them are aware of course and as soon as they are ours, I'll blast them all over here!

But back to the real was like any other day.  Driving in to work with 38 long miles to dwell on all we have going on and I'm praying, begging God once again to please work on his heart.  Bring him back to us. Give us the strength to accept it if that is not what is in His plan for our family.  Feeling regret...maybe we moved too fast, maybe we should have hosted a second time before committing, maybe I should have called more, maybe I should have sent more packages. 

But none of those things would change where we are right now...and I know that without a doubt.

Once my day got started I quickly logged in like I always do just to see if he's there on frype.  I quickly tab around to see if I have messages and nothing.  Then, like a simple gift, the little orange dot appeared over his picture telling me he was on line.  My heart was racing...should I try to message him?  What did I have to I did. 

A very simple "Good Morning.  I love you!  Mama" and the little hugging emoticon at the end.

Almost as quickly as it went, the orange number popped up over messages and shockingly, it was from him!  I immediately cried and hesitantly opened it...not knowing what to expect.

His message:
Hi momy!  I know you are coming to Latvia soon...I can't wait to see you!  Love you (hugs)

Did you read that!!!???  Did you hear it?  No, we're not out of the woods...but he's willing to see us!  He loves us! 

And our God is great...and faithful...and always working for our good.  This my friends is direct answer to prayer. 

We wrote back and forth about six times before he signed off and ended up discussing things as trivial as his hair jelly (gel HAHA) which he is out of and would like us to bring some...teenagers!

So, tonight I am full of gratitude for this little glimpse of the old J.  The one who loves us and wrote HOPE in the snow on Christmas morning (That's another post for another time.)

Why am I hestitantly thrilled?  Well, there is still much to be isn't September 9 and we aren't sitting on  plane all of us together.  But today is today and I will take the blessing given to me and cherish it.  And pray for more messages til we travel!

That's it for tonight...there's a budget to be finished and lots of work yet to be done...but thanks for reading!  Still figuring this thing bear with me!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Testing...and Why the Name

Five years ago, my job situation was changing.  We could stay in the only town we'd ever known with our huge group of family and friends...and I could either quit working (my preference!) or work for another company where I wouldn't be nearly as happy.  OR...we could transfer with Hyatt and continue doing what I loved for a company I loved doing it for.  As my wonderful husband Gary said, "Let's do it!  It'll be Our Great Adventure!"  The worst that would happen is we would be miserable and move back home.  I mean really, it isn't like the roads roll up behind you when you move away, right? 

Well, here we are five years later embarking on a bigger adventure than we could have ever imagined. 

God has a plan, folks...and whether you're walking in it with Him or fighting Him along the way, His plan will prevail. 

There's a little darkhaired, blue eyed boy at the foot of the stairs calling "Mama!" so for now I've got to run.  Hoping this works...and we'll keep everyone posted on all of Our Great Adventure!