Tuesday, December 18

A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Our Christmas Post

This is our tree. I put it in a different spot this year...so the furniture is hugging it a little. Ignore the strange arrangement, please. And the floating sconces. : )

So it’s five days until Christmas Eve, which is when all the fun starts in our family. One of my favorite Christmas songs is The 12 Days of Christmas…which if you’ve ever been in my car, you have had the pleasure of hearing it…usually several times in a row. It’s just one of those songs. You know which ones I’m talking about. The ones you have to sing in a certain order. Backwards. As loud and fast as you can. Then you have to try again because if you only had one more chance you could get it right.

Plus, it has funny gifts. I mean, who gives their true love eight maids-a-milking? Where do you put the eight maids? And what about whatever they’re a-milking? This song is an organizational nightmare! But I love it—because it’s so fun. And (you knew there was an and…) because it is so meaningful.

From around 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testament

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-Four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-Five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-Six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit (Prophesy, Serving,Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy)

-Eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control)

-Ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Oh, and I decided to throw in several pictures of some of my favorite Christmas ornaments.
Enjoy. Or not. Either way. : )
Angels played a big part in the Christmas Story. They first told Mary and Joseph about the birth of Jesus. Then they proclaimed good news of great joy to the shepards. Then they did lots of rejoicing.
This is the Cross. It's the whole reason Jesus was here on Earth.
I love this butterfly. It represents growth, renewal of the Spirit, and the change in one's life from who they once were to who they become in Christ. An ugly worm to a beautiful butterfly.
Cool, huh?
More with the fall colors, I know. But this leaf also represents the changes we see in our lives through Christ: what He has done for us, where He has taken us. To me, it also represents the seasons of one's life; to remind us that after the fall and winter comes a refreshing spring with the Lord!
I have some glittery pears and apples. They remind me of the Fruits of the Spirit and the sweetness of a life in Christ. I only have eight of them though, so I'm always wondering which fruit I am lacking. : )
These are clearly stars like the one that led the Magi to Jesus. Stars also represent the light of the world, which is Jesus. You know, God is the best literary writer ever. The Bible is just packed full of stuff!
Another swirly twirly star. It's rays are super bright.

I like the really long point on this one. If I were a Magi, the star would have to be like this, otherwise, I'd be totally lost. This reminds us of the incredible journey that the Magi took just to see the baby King, as well as the incredible life that Jesus lived, the incredible sacrifice God made to send His Son, and the incredible journey that Christ leads you on. Also, this year, there's an incredible journey of faith through adoption! Lots of incredible stuff here.

And finally, and most important, is our partridge in a pear tree.

Merry (12 Days of) Christmas, Everyone!!!

It's gonna be a Boy. Or a Girl!

Yesterday morning I worked on our dossier/homestudy stuff for a little under two hours. Man, who knew getting birth certificates and marriage licenses were so expensive! (Anyone know where to get them for less than an arm and a leg?) I am starting to see why all of this takes so long...because so much of it depends on other people! You have to order stuff and wait. Ask your boss to write something and wait. Check the mail and wait. The exciting thing is that I'm noticing that AGCI families are currently only waiting about 8-10 weeks for infant referral from the time their dossier is done. Speaking of that, the Beelers just received a referral for a little girl! How exciting!

This is great for so many reasons -- on a selfish personal note, it means that there's a possibility of girl referrals for non-gender-specified adoptive parents. Did that make sense? I've noticed on several blogs that parents who do not choose girl or boy usually receive boy referrals. And since Justin and I couldn't agree on a gender, we did not specify. Which later led me to believe we would receive a boy referral. (And I can't say that I'm not starting to at least get used to the idea of a boy.) But now I feel excited that it really could be either! Yay! I love not knowing. I think it's one of the most exciting parts!

Wednesday, December 12

do good gifts

This is the Feed Bag. With the purchase of this gift, you will school and feed a child for ONE YEAR. Isn't that incredible?

The creator of TOMS Shoes, Blake Mycoskie (who was on TV's The Incredible Race) added this to his site. If you don't know about TOMS Shoes, they are "shoes for tomorrow.

This is the pair that I have...and of course, I have told Santa about some cool new brown and gold ones that would be handy. Let me also add that they are sooo comfy! TOMS Shoes took several THOUSAND pairs of shoes to needy kids in Argentina in 2006. Earlier this fall, he came to our church and did an interview about it. This year, I think in November, they took 60,000--that's right, sixty thousand pairs of shoes to Africa. How incredible is that? Also, while touring the continent, he went to Ethiopia and learned about Mossy Foot Disease.

Mossy Foot is a debilitating condition foundprimarily in rural districts on people that work in soil of volcanic origin.This condition causes swelling & ulcers in the feet and lower legs. This deformity, swelling, repeated ulceration and secondary infections make people with Mossy Foot social outcasts equivalent to those with leprosy.The afflicted are deserted by their friends, their hope of marriage and employmentis lost because of others fears of contracting the disease.

When Blake learned this, he vowed to continue working in Ethiopia until the disease was eradicated. This means he'll be providing shoes for our children and their birth parents, as welll as their communities. Doesn't this just make your heart cry out?

Also, on several blogs now, is this fabulous shirt, which you can sport and half the proceeds go to Hannah's Hope in Ethiopia, where all the AGCI kids live before coming home to their forever families.

Tuesday, December 11

hip hip hooray!

Well, after a while of being sad, I was just about to give up. I was going to take my photo card and stand at Walgreens for hours waiting to download all the prints. All of a sudden, my hubband remembered that his printer takes cards. Lo and behold! An XD drive! Yippie!!! So, finally, without (much) further ado, a few pictures. Let's face it, blogs are better with pictures!

This little sweetheart is Landon. He's already 4 and a half months old. This was when he was brand new and I think that both our faces are classic expressions that totally represent who we each are.

This is me in the fall aisle at Hobby Lobby, or affectionately known around here as HoLo. I love fall and fall colors and in order to really get any type of fall here in Texas, you just stand in the aisle and pretend. Just like I'm doing here. (Notice that my outfit including my glasses match. That's how ridiculous I am.)

This is the long awaited (ok, well, maybe I've just been longing to publish) picture of us at Halloween! I wore my prom dress (again, ridiculous, I know) and some bonus stuff as the Tooth Fairy and Justin went as a dentist, in case you couldn't tell by his over-excited brushing.

These last two are from our trip to Fort Worth, Texas. We toured the Botanical Gardens and the Japanese Gardens. These are nifty little tubes you can talk and listen with a friend who is really far away.

Or not so far away if you're with Justin.

: )

Ok folks, that's it for now. I'm running off with Misty and the kids to do pictures at Wal-Mart. AND! Bonus, I'm an emergency shopper for our church's Christmas Miracles Project. Woohoo. I get to do extra Christmas shopping. And wrapping! How awesome and amazing is that? Today is a grrrreat day!

Saturday, December 8

spoiling your baby

A big congrats to Ted and Tracie who received their referral! Yay!
Speaking of referrals, I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Our agency sent us a packet of info along with our dossier to read. It's got stuff about getting ready for baby, meeting baby, bonding with baby, attachment issues, and so on. Lots of the info is generic for adoptive families with multiple countries. Some of the things I've read lately make me a little nervous. So my question to all you fellow bloggers out there: what types of attachment and bonding are you seeing from your Ethiopian darling?

Friday, November 30

heavy, heavier, light!

As the last day of November, and the last day of Adoption Awareness Month, I wanted to share a few more facts about Ethiopia specifically.
--Between 60-150 million kids live on the streets.
--Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school.
--82% of the population lives on less than $1 a day.
--1 in 10 children die before their first birthday.

A sweet friend of mine Misty was looking up some advertisements for a class one day and found this. It hangs on my fridge as a constant reminder.

Already we are told how "lucky any baby would be" to land a spot in our family. And even now, before we have a child or even a referral, I know that we are the ones who would be lucky. I already love our child so much!

Speaking of things that I hear a lot, Hannah, who owns the little shop I sometimes get pedicures from had a baby earlier this year and is always encouraging me to have one. She often jokes about this special Vietnamese Herbal Tea that I can drink and presto, I'd be pregnant. Well, today she spent an hour telling me about someone she knows who is looking to have someone adopt her baby. Hannah said she instantly thought of me and apparently told this woman my whole life story. This is pretty funny to me, but is also really encouraging because at first Hannah didn't understand why we'd want to adopt. (Adoption is our first choice.) Seeing how excited she was about "finding a baby for us" helps me to see that people can come around. Which is good, since some of my family is still really confused as to why we would want an African baby when we are clearly not African. It's my sincerest prayer that the Lord changes their hearts before we have a referral, but if not, I know that He will be glorified even more when they fall to pieces over the baby we bring home.

Ok, one more gushy ad to make this post totally over the edge.
And finally, something a little lighter because I think this post was a little too heavy. This is my pal Sarah (l) and me (r) being... well, ourselves. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 29

With wings as eagles

So I already realize that I hate posting without pictures. I have to get my camera working! Right now it has about 200ish pictures just waiting to be loaded onto a computer somewhere. I heard a rumor that I might be getting a new camera for Christmas this year and that is oh-so-very-exciting. I can't wait! Justin and I are also discussing a new laptop since ours died and we want to downsize from our deskmonster. But since we're save, save, saving up for the adoption that might take a while. I also learned that I am getting this from Santa...because apparently my sweet hubband can't keep a secret. He said he, er, Santa, ordered the last one! : )

Our church is doing some spiffy Christmas giving. They had a tree up with ornaments that listed the needs of some families in our community. We picked up two ornaments at random and are now shopping for Karla and Giana. Karla is five and needs a new coat and a little bike. Giana is 12 months and needs some clothes and diapers. We found the coolest little bike:

Now if only I can figure out how to wrap it.

This semester is almost over. Yippie Skippie for that. Justin is also preparing to start the police academy December 10. I know he is finally getting excited about that. He's been ready to start for months but the city isn't getting recruits ready fast enough and they kept pushing back the start date. We've waited over 10 weeks for this. Of course, compared to adoption 10 weeks isn't so bad. Maybe this was a little primer; practice waiting from the Lord. Speaking of waiting, that reminds me of a nifty verse prominent in my childhood:

They that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings as eagles;
They shall walk and not grow weary,
They shall run and not grow faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Wednesday, November 21

do the dossier dance...

Yesterday our dossier packet came in the mail. Yippee! So now I've got something to do over the holidays besides shopping, decorating, and wrapping. This list is crazy. I have so much admiration for all the families who have completed this step because it's massive.

Also massive these days:
-the amount of love I have for my hubband. Everyday I feel like I couldn't love him more.
-the realization of how wonderful and precious my dear friends are.
-the amount of thankfulness I have as I look around at my home, my family, and my future in Christ.

Tomorrow brings about a lot of food--and a lot of driving for us. Both of us have two sets of parents who are spread out so we start off with Justin's mom's family for big lunch. This is where Justin does most of his eating. Then we have dinner across town with my mother's family. This is where I do all my eating. We have attempted to make a late night snack/dessert run to Justin's dad's family...but that doesn't work out well. We'll probably slide over on Friday to eat lots of leftovers and hang out. Maybe even do some Christmas decorating.

Speaking of which, since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, that means I can finally put up our decorations without too much grumbling. Yay! I've been waiting all year for this!

Wishing all my readers (2?) a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.
Give Thanks!

Monday, November 19

little news bits

Well, the big news is that we made the Ethiopian Adoption Blog Roll. We're one of the newbies! Check us out. Maybe that means that soon I won't be typing to emptyness...but that someone will read about us. Also, even though I've been reading other bloggers (uh, check out my growing list) I've never commented or anything to anyone else because I didn't have a blog and thought that might be weird. But I think I'm getting over it now. Needless to say, I am ready for some webfriends and blogbuddies...so please accept this as your official invitation to be my friend.

The best news of last week was that we should be receiving our Dossier packet this week! Yay!! I cannot wait to start on that. Even though I know it's just part of a big process, it makes me think that I'm speeding things up. Since adoption is all about waiting, I figure why not hurry up and start. The wait. Yes, I'll admit it. I'm a little weird.

This past weekend Justin and I went on a little weekend getaway to Fort Worth, Texas. We try to spend a little time away with just each other and no pressing responsibilities every few months. We stayed downtown in Sundance Square, did some touristy things, and did a lot of walking. Er, I mean, relaxing. It was great. I'd like to post some pictures but my laptop died and we can't figure out how to get the desktop to recognize my camera...so when we find a solution, I'll post some fun pics.

Also, I am counting down the days until I can put up my Christmas stuff. Justin likes people (even me) to think that he is a little bit of a Grinch...but he's not. He's the most giving, sharing man I've ever met. But he makes me wait until Thanksgiving-ish to start decorating. I tried to weasel in earlier this month...but things kept coming up each night that we'd planned to do it. It was probably not coincidence. I'll forgive him.

The last cool thing of note is that Babies R Us finally came out with some new stuff. See, we are the last couple we know to start a family (well, ok, there's one other couple. One!) and so all the good stuff was taken. And I was afraid that I was going to have to make it all. Which translates to "I should have started making it in high school so that maybe it would be ready for my grandchildren" because we already have a million projects going on. But! Since BRU now has some cool stuff, I am getting a little excited. I still don't know if I should start now and do something that is gender neutral...or if I should wait and do something specific much later when we have a referral. Any ideas? Anyone actually reading this? : )

Wednesday, November 14

starting to feel real

Today we had our Orientation phone call with Martha from AGCI. We just basically went over timelines and procedures and expectations and what not. Then more paper signing, a trip to the notary, and then to my new favorite mail place. There are two teenage boys who work there (and are obviously really bored during a good part of the day) and when I got there, they both stood silent and watched me fill out my envelope. Really exciting.

Oh, and it's only 39 days until Christmas. Really! It's only 39 days and I don't even have one decoration up yet. Nor have I wrapped any presents. Not one! I am so behind this year.

Saturday, November 10

exciting things coming up!

Well, we have the adendum to our contract which we'll sign and mail off Monday morning. We also have our orientation call set up for Wednesday, November 11th. We've officially been accepted and are now on the road!

Justin told me today that he made his first purchase for our baby. I ,of course was super excited and couldn't wait to find out. So I asked him what it was. And he said, "Ratitoullie", like it was the only answer out there. Let me just explain that Justin secretly loves animated flicks...so this movie was totally for him and not our child. It was so-not-for-our-child that he watched it last night...when I wasn't even home!

A big shout out to my lovely friend Christina who I visited in the cool part of town. She took me to nifty places to eat and snack and play. She's too fun. Pictures to follow...as soon as I learn how to do them on Justin's computer since mine broke.

Lately I've been discovering lots of blog families who are with our agency, AGCI and it has been so fun to read their posts particularly. It makes me so thankful that this community exists.

Saturday, November 3

ooops, already behind

Justin and I have decided to keep the very beginnings of our paperchase a secret. Everyone (family and friends) know we are adopting in the upcoming year, but are expecting things to start around the summer of 2008. We're hoping to sneak in and surprise everyone. Currently, besides this blog, only two couples know we are doing this already. One, Brian and Angela, know because she is our notary...so we visit together quite often. The other, Dave and Gloria, are preparing to be missionaries in Dubai with their darling Aliza. I'm telling Glo in an email about our secrecy for the moment, and this was her reply:
"I was so excited about your big secret that I posted it on my blog and my facebook and forwarded it to everyone in my address book. Hope that's ok?"
Isn't she a hoot! (She's just joking.)

Tonight we're attending a costume party where I will be wearing my prom dress and going as the Tooth Fairy...and Justin is going to be a dentist. I can't wait to get all costumed up. Be on the look out for pictures!

Oh, and adoption awareness for today:
- I have two cousins who are adopted and Justin has one sibling that's adopted, all domestically.
- There were 6,493 immigrant visas granted to adoptees from China in 2006 (the #1 country) and 732 from Ethiopia (#5 country).
- Half the profit from the sale of this onesie is enough for 16 doses of medicine that keeps HIV from spreading from mother to infant.

Thursday, November 1

adoption awareness month

November is Adoption Awareness month. I'd like to help elevate awareness, so here are a few interesting facts about adoption.

-About 1 million children in the United States live with adoptive parents.

-According to a 1997 survey, 6 in every 10 Americans have had a personal experience with adoption (adoptee, adoptive parent, birth parent).

-Nearly 40% of American adults, or 81.5 million people, have considered adopting a child. If just one in 500 of these adults adopt, all of the 134,000 children in U.S. foster care waiting for adoption would have permanent, loving families (according to the new National Adoption Attitudes Survey).

Wednesday, October 31

decision made!

I've been saving this post-dream for months now. And I want to include it, but it should be dated around the 6th or 7th of August. Just pretend, ok?

Well, last night we decided to adopt from Ethiopia. We were just about to go to sleep and talking about why we were waiting and when would be a good time frame to start. Then all of a sudden, Justin said, "let's do it" and so I squealed and got all excited immediately. I asked, "really?!!" and he said, "no, I was just kidding". Then I nearly start to cry as he said he was just joking. We could start.

Silly hubband. What was he thinking? That's not funny.

So today I called our agency, All God's Children (http://www.allgodschildren.org/) and told them we were ready. It was so very exciting.



Well this is it! This is our blog. I've been waiting to start blogging about our baby for ever...but then again, I've been waiting to start the process for what seems like forever, too. But I'm considering it official now since we mailed in our contracts yesterday. And I bought my first baby thing yesterday, too. It's a product (RED) onesie. I especially love the "delive(red)" one. Isn't it most fitting?

A little about us: We are Justin and Nell Ann and we live in The Woodlands area, which is north of Houston, Texas. We've been married about a year and a half at this point. We have two puppies (who aren't really puppies anymore) named Samson and Tyrone. And now we're starting the process to adopt an infant from Ethiopia, but I guess you already knew that.
Thanks for reading!
Oh, and I like blogs better with pictures, so here is one of my favorites to start off!

This is Justin, with Samson (in the back) and Tyrone the night we adopted them.

They don't look near as scary now.

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