Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ
2 Peter 3:18

Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank you, Dad

With out all the summers spent on vacation, driving across (and up & down) the country, on the back seat of a Buick with only half a suitcase shared with my brother to call my own for two weeks at a time, I never would have been able to fit this:
into this:
This is the care package that we are sending to Eliza Grace!  I was a little shocked at shipping costs.  But found that if I could get everything into the large (at 12x12x5 not exactly what I would call large) flat rate box from the post office all her goodies could get to her in a little over a week for $55 (MUCH better than $168 with another shipping company!)  This box only weighs six pounds for heaven sake!

So, within the walls of 720 cubic inches we squeezed
  • 1 hooded fleece suit
  • 1 one piece long sleeve, long leg play suit
  • 1 three piece (pants, long sleeve t-hirt, hooded jacket) set
  • 1 fleecy blanket (with her name and birthday monogrammed on it- we asked her foster parents if they could put this in her bed with her now and return it with her when we pick her up so that she'd have something familiar as she makes the transition from their home to ours- we'll see what happens- if we don't get it back they'll have a reminder of her and her birthday as they care for the next baby)
  • 2 Minnie Mouse sippy cups
  • 1 container of pineapple puffs
  • 4 mini Eric Carle board books (thank you Chick fil A!)
  • 1 stuffed elephant stacker toy
  • 1 wooden shapes/color puzzle
  • 1 teether/crinkly book
  • 1 pink toy car
  • 1 dolly
  • pack of 8 washcloths
  • 1 disposable camera (so we can get some candid shots of her during the last months she's with her foster family)
  • 1 book of photos of our family, dog, house, and she & Miller's room
  • Translated letter to her foster parents expressing our gratitude to them for making the sacrifice to care for our daughter and other orphans as they wait for their families

And here's Dad trying to distract the Pantsless Wonder (aka Miller- she HATES having anything on the bottom half of her body) from the box- she was a little distressed that we were sending all of Baby Sister's things away (sort of sad that her sister's things were leaving, but more sad that those things weren't secretly HER'S)

Thanks to everyone who bought clippies this fall- I think Eliza Grace and the foster babies that follow her will be greatly blessed by this little care package!

Thanks again to Dad.  Who knew all that cramming, rolling, and folding t-shirts into 32nds would be such a valuable life skill.  Now, I do realize that you could have fit it all into the Flat Envelope.  Maybe in my next 32 years I'll be able to attain your level of greatness. Maybe.

Thanks also to Phil's Man Hands- without their unmatched strength and squeezing power the chasm between the box top flaps would never have been closed by a single strip of packing tape!

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Room for Two

Well, it was time too move all the new Christmas goodies upstairs and when I got there I realized I needed to figure out how two girls were going to fit into one already pretty full room.  I knew they could- our kids have great rooms, but the prospect was a bit intimidating.  So we pulled out the crib and started  doing the furniture shuffle.  We got a few new shelves at Lowes and an extra coffee table for Eliza Grace to play on (couldn't believe I found one IDENTICAL to the one Miller already had at the same consignment store I bought Miller's at nearly 10 months later!)  I also got some white lacquer spray paint for them, but that project will have to wait until after I get my Christmas cards out!

I felt a little silly getting the room ready for Eliza Grace when we are still months away from getting THE CALL.  But I'm really glad we did.  It has made this a lot more real for Miller and has helped us to see where she is in processing all of this.  She's a little confused because Baby Ely (her new cousin) came yesterday and for a while she thought Ely was her sister (she still says Ely's going to live here sometimes.)  I think she's beginning to get that Ely is Matthew's baby sister and Eliza Grace is hers.  Wednesday I told her Ely would be here the next day- Miller let out a good "NO, I don't like my baby sister!"  So, A) Ely is not her sister and B) she's a little more realistic about this than I realized.  I've been a little concerned that she thought a baby doll would be moving in.  Glad she's aware that Eliza Grace is a real person worthy of some sibling rivalry!

For anyone else adopting (specifically from South Korea) we are loving Ten Days and Nine Nights.  It's a great preschool age book about a little girl who's mom leaves to go to Korea to get her new sister.  It counts down each day and what all the rest of the family is doing to prepare for the arrival.  It also has some great illustrations of what happens on the Korean side.

Miller picked out the little version of the owl pillow that's in her bed for Baby Sister's bed.  The Winnie the Pooh was Wilson's and the Lamb was mine.  The blanket we'll be sending to Eliza Grace- maybe she'll get to bring it back with her.

Christmas 2010

Our Tree
Hung by the chimney with care
Santa came!!  Wilson got a bike and a puppy pillow pet
Eliza Grace got all kinds of goodies that I am on my way to mail to her TODAY!
 Miller got Princess skates and a hippo pillow pet
 Miller showing us her new lip gloss
 Smae helping Miller with her skates
 Jack showing off his new bunny
 Granna gave Wilson a zip line!
 And Miller got a grocery cart with a car on the front for her baby doll (Smae had LOTS of fun putting this together ;)
 This was a first for me.  SNOW . . .  FALLING FROM THE SKY . . . ON CHRISTMAS DAY!  It's taken 32 years, but my wish came true.  Of course it was all of 5 flakes and was over in about 10 minutes and you can't even see it in the pictures, but it was there.  Oh it was there!
 We had Christmas dinner at our house with my side of our family.  The kids helped me make a mini gingerbread house for everyone's plate- they turned out so cute!

 Me and two of my three sister in laws- we missed you Lauren!
 We had Christmas Eve breakfast at Phil's parents house with all of that side of our family.  The kids had some great cousin time- all five were together under one roof, a rare occasion!

Pat Pat and Paw had just gotten back from Hawaii and brought all the boys fun surf board shirts and the girls cute dresses.  (That's right I said girlS- Miller is no longer the lone princess in the family. Her new cousin Ely was born yesterday and she'll have a little sister before we know it.)  Austin is missing from this picture- there's just too much for a two year old to get in in a day to stop for photo ops.  Maybe next year!

Merry Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just Can't Get Enough?

Me neither- here's a few more . . . .

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Our Baby's Walking!!

Just got these new pictures of Eliza Grace (this is the SECOND update that we've gotten since we were matched!!). In this one there is a note from her foster mom and doctor.  It reports that she can be strong willed (hmm she and Miller should have a good time!) and that she's doing great health wise, said that she's eating rice porridge and gerber baby food, taking two naps a day and sleeping from 11pm to 7 am and waking once for a bottle. This is a very typical Korean baby schedule- so glad that she's doing so well! We love you, Baby Girl!

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Friday, December 17, 2010

My Favorite Picture Yet

*Update- she has now moved from the page below to the "Matched and Home" page.  She's sitting 3 rows above and 2 columns over from her buddy Eveyln who'll be another Mississipi girl in a few months!

This is a screen shot of the Waiting Child List page on Holt's website.  That's our little girl right in the middle fuzzed out a bit with "I have a family" printed across.  YEA!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A face to go with a name!!

Here she is!!!!
a couple of days old
9 months old

I just received a Fed Ex package that contains her birth mother's fingerprint and name.  Wow.  So amazing to look at that print and name and know that it belongs to someone so connected to us and yet we'll never know her.  I don't even know the name of the emotion that belongs to this scenario, but it's a little overwhelming! 

Fingerprinting went well this morning, except that I missed a call from Miller's preschool teacher while I was in there saying that she had thrown up at school.  Little Moo missed her Christmas party and has thrown up off and on all day :(  Which leads us to the following . . .

A few lessons I've learned as the proud driver of a minivan- While visiting my grandmother at the hospital I found that the ridiculously tight parking spots are no problem.  Squeeze the van in, open one of the back doors and climb out!  When your preschooler throws up in it- there are about 1000 floor mats that will need to be hosed down when you get home.  Better than the carpet, though, I guess!!

It's safe to say my head's in the clouds with my youngest child but my feet are on the ground with the other two!  There's a lot going on around here!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Long Version

So if you want the pertinent information- see the post below.  If you want all the details of the last week or so of our lives, pour a cup of coffee, put a movie on for the kids, and continue . . . .

Sometime in September a batch of new babies was added to the waiting child list on Holt's website.  Among them was an adorable little girl that caught our eye.  Her "special needs" seemed to be things that would be manageable for our family, but there was to be one more test run in January.  We had a pediatric neurologist friend of ours take a look at her file.  He felt like she was doing pretty good, but would rather wait until the test run in January to commit.  We sort of thought it over and just put her file away for the time being.

In the mean time we finished up our home study and we were focusing on the "you might get a referral for a boy from our 'standard' program" call.  Then there was the no more emigration permits email and the we're not going to be handing out any more referrals this year email.  So we resolved that adoption was sort of on hold until the new year.

In early December a case worker from the waiting child program called to see if we were still interested in the little girl because we never had committed one way or another.  I let her know that we were, but we were waiting to see what the January tests found- if that was okay.  I also asked if anyone else was ready to go to committee for her.  She said no that actually there was only one other family still holding her profile and that she was considering opening her profile back up online (when a child is listed only a certain number of families are allowed to request that child's info- when that number is reached the profile is closed).  So I left it with her that we were just going to wait until the new year.

Well, waiting was not what God's plan was (the whole be hot or cold and not lukewarm thing keeps coming to mind.)

A few days later the case worker calls back and says, "I never do this, but I have a child I want to ask you about.  I usually don't give referrals when a family has a profile out."  She proceeds to tell me about a little boy.  I ask if can see his information and she emails it along.  I start looking at picture of a precious, precious little boy and begin reading the most heartbreaking story I've read yet in all the profiles we've looked at. 

So all of a sudden that baby girl that we'd "back burnered for now" gets brought forward.  We're looking at two pictures and reading two profiles.  How do you decide between two sets of deep brown eyes staring back at you? 

The day after we get the referral we get an update on the little girl.  An American occupational therapist had been in Seoul and had volunteered to screen some of the waiting children.  She had screened the little girl and everything looked great.  She was crawling, pulling up, cruising and saying mama and food.  She was right on track with where a 10 month old should be.  It was so reassuring to know that the whole screening and report had taken place in one language- we knew nothing had been "lost in translation".  We ran these new reports past our ped. neurologist and his words were "I'm so encouraged- this is all great news".  He also shared some of our concerns with the little boy's history and some of the holes in his story.

This has been the hardest part of the process.  Looking at two babies that NEED a family and saying yes to one and no to another.  We talked and prayed and truly began feeling led to the little girl.  We looked at worse case scenarios and felt we do not possess the skills needed to parent the worst possibilities with the little boy.  I pray that his history has no affect on him and that as I type he's being matched with his parents and forever family.

So, after a couple of days, I call the case worker at Holt and let her know we want to go to committee for the little girl.  Now we have to face the reality that the other family interested might be selected as her parents if they too want to go to committee.  A day goes by and I haven't heard anything so I email our Holt contact and ask if we'll still have to go to committee if the other family declines.  She replies back that they have backed out and we do not have to go to committee!  She will review the answers to a much briefer questionnaire than the last time we did this and she'll have our social worker review the match.  Another day or two later she calls back to say "congratulations on your match, your file will be moving from the waiting child program to the Korea program and they'll be sending you your acceptance package."

Happy Dance.

Yesterday I received an email with all of the paperwork needed to officially accept our daughter and to get her legal paperwork rolling in Korea.  It took literally all day yesterday to get sorted out, translated from government paper-ese to Magglish, and filled out.  This morning was spent at Phil's office signing, initialling, signing, initialling, signing, and getting it notarized, copies made for our records, and putting in an envelope and overnighted back to Holt.  It's in Richland right now, just in case you're wondering.  Yes, I'll be tracking it every step of the way!

So, we are the proud parents of a baby girl.  Her name will be Elizabeth Eun Ethridge.  Eun (pronounced yoon) is a part of her Korean name and means Grace.  Grace is a name that Phil has thrown in the girl name hat for each child- how fun that that was already her name!  Elizabeth is my middle name and my mom and her mom's name- she'll be 4th generation- I can't wait to take that picture!  We're still working on exactly what we'll call her.  Today I've been practicing with Eliza Grace.

When will we get to bring her home?  I'm saying this summer.  There is not a lot of rhyme or reason to when you get your travel call so I won't know the exact answer until a few days before we board the plane to go get her.  The phase that we're in right now goes pretty quickly and we should have most of the paperwork done on both sides in a month or so.  Then it's just a matter of when she gets her emigration permit.

I'll be posting her picture in a couple of days when I know that all of our acceptance package has gotten processed.  Stay tuned!

Gotta go to bed- we're being fingerprinted (AGAIN) in the morning.  These are the biometric ones for immigration and are digital.  No waiting 9 weeks!!  Night, night!

For Real This Time!

Announcing our newest little Seoul!!!

Elizabeth Eun Ethridge
January 10, 2010
5pounds 6ounces - 18 inches

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our Newest Addition!!!

Well we've had a very big day around here!  I've known since we announced that we were adopting that this day would come.  Honestly, I can't believe it already has!!  We have looked at several pictures, read profiles of a few that are available.  It has been a little overwhelming at times, but we finally made a decision and it became official TODAY!

So, without further adieu, I'd like to introduce everyone to our new (to us) . . . .

covered in BLUE . . . . . .

'07 Honda Odyssey!

I can now haul all three kiddos (and their friends) comfortably.  It was a little sad to say goodbye to the Accord- I've it had for 10 years and all 130,000 miles!  But it was definitely getting a little cramped in there and it was time to move on.  The kids are IN LOVE  and having a great time climbing all over the place and discovering all the hiding places in it!

On the adoption front, I still feel like I need to wait a few more days to make any BIG  reveals, but I will say that yesterday afternoon I got to hear the words "Congratulations on your match" over the phone and we are now anxiously awaiting our acceptance paperwork package to be in our mail box.  This evening I got to see something really fun.  For some reason, I went back to the waiting child photo listing site (don't know why I thought anything would have changed on a Saturday night).  But, to my absolute delight, there was our precious little one's face with the words "I have a family" written across their little picture!!  Yes, sweet one, YOU HAVE A FAMILY!  And we can't wait for you to get here.