Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Jim, Marney, and Owen went fishing on Sunday with Jim's best friend (of 31 years!) and one of his three daughters. They had a great time. Jim wanted to take more pictures, but realized the battery was not in the camera after they go out onto the water.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sad News Today

It looks as though we will not be bringing home our little Samantha after all. The powers that be have decided that it will place too much of a stress on our family to bring home two children with special needs so close in age at the same time. We are heart broken, and frustrated. Where is our say in all this? We felt so strongly that we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. We still feel like she is ours, but also feel a huge sense of loss. Praying that if she is not meant to be ours, then another family out there will find her soon, she is waiting.

Important Information Regarding Orphans

Please join us in boycotting the movie "Orphan." Go here to learn more about why this is "entertainment" we can all live without.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

You know you have a boy in the house when...

...a loaded water cannon goes through your kitchen.

Please add your funny boy stories here. Come on, I know you have them!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Marney (8) got her braces and palate expander today! She was such a champ through the long slightly uncomfortable appointment. She picked purple and blue bands, cute!

Her teeth are feeling a little achy this afternoon, and her Mother is feeling old for some reason. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Update on Joseph's First Birthday...

We just received a video update tonight. It was Ben's birthday party! He was dressed in a white dress shirt, gray sweater vest and black bow tie, sitting in the lap of one of the Sisters of Charity. :) He looked so cute! Wish I could share the video with you all, but it is not allowed yet.

I continue to be pleased at the level of care he is receiving in Armenia. It is still not the same as being home, nothing compares to having a forever family of your own, but it made my heart smile for him tonight.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Joseph!

...We are thinking of you always, but especially today. Wishing you were here so we could celebrate your 1st birthday together. I pray that you have at least one person who will hold you today and tell you what special day today is, and what a special boy you are. We love you, and feel blessed knowing that next year we will all be together celebrating your second birthday!


Mom and Dad

Just want to keep this going...

One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.
~ Mother Teresa

Image with me for a minute…

Right now, today… you are small and alone.

You are hungry and lost.

You have no home, no parents, and seemingly no future.

You are scared, and weak, from days without food. You have no where to go, no where to be.

People walk by you but they don’t even look your way. It’s like you are invisible, nothing.

You keep walking, your feet are bleeding and sore… and yet still you manage to cling to the small bit of hope, the little voice inside your head that says maybe, just maybe, one day things will get better.

Maybe one day -you will matter.

It is getting dark outside- inside your fear is growing.

Where will you go?

Your heart is beating faster, and your fear becomes over whelming, consuming your every thought.

Then you see it, a dirty, broken cardboard box and you bow your head thanking God for His provision.

For you have found it- shelter.

Safety, if only for one night.

You slip underneath it, hugging yourself, vowing once again not to cry- because by now you know tears are a waste of your strength.

Your eyes become heavy, despite the sweltering temperature.

As you begin to drift off to sleep you pray, hoping, dreaming, of a family of your own one day...

of a place where you will matter...

to someone.


Half away around the world is a family...

They are just sitting down to dinner together.

They are smiling and their laughter fills the room.

Dinner is served and they bow their heads and they pray- thanking God for their many blessings… their home, their job, the food that is set before them.

They lift their heads and go back to the laughter and the joy.

They talk of their upcoming vacation plans, the lunch date they shared with a friend today and the movie they plan to see this coming weekend.

More laughter, more excitement, more.

As the leftovers are scraped into the garbage can and the table is cleaned up, hot bubble bathes are taken by all.

Evening settles in, and the family slips under their down comforters preparing for a good nights sleep.

Before turning out the lights, the husband leans over to kiss his wife good-night. She shyly smiles at him and begins to tell him that she has been feeling that perhaps God is calling them to adopt.

The room grows quiet as they are both lost in their own thoughts… their minds are flooded with questions, concern, and then inevitably -fear.

How could they manage?
Another child?
Why, they already have two!
Where would they put the child?
Who would share a room?
How could they afford to adopt?
Would they be able to take that vacation?
What would people think?
What if the child, you know, caused ‘problems’?

As their eyelids become heavy, they begin to drift off to sleep... and they think to themselves ‘surely not’.

Surely God knows this is not convenient.

Surely God wants them to take that vacation they deserve...

Surely he knows how busy they are.

They have plans and they have dreams.

As sleep overcomes them, the temperature in their master bedroom is perfect… and their pillows are fluffed to perfection.

Life is good for them, just as they had planned...

Because after all, they matter...

Too much...

to themselves.

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. "- 1 John 3:16-20

Read more of Amy's thoughts here.... Let them pierce your heart.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Great News!

Our home study (in it's final form that we had sent to the USCIS) is acceptable after all!!! No changes needed, and apparently no approval letter needed also! So, now we are just waiting for our file to be assigned to a case worker, and hopefully be approved soon! Thank you for all your prayers!

P.S. Hoping to have some good news soon about that brown eyed girl! ;)

Call to Action!

Dear Friends:

Anshula has recently come into an orphanage. She is four years old and alone. Where should she spend her childhood? In an orphanage? In temporary foster care? Or in a permanent and loving family?

The answer should be obvious: a safe, permanent and loving family. Unfortunately, the U.S. government and many aide organizations do not seem to agree. In fact, the U.S. sometimes spends millions of dollars ensuring just the opposite. And while beloved organizations such as UNICEF keep millions of children alive, many believe it is better for children to live in temporary foster care than in a permanent family. The children of our world need your help to make a change. They need your help to live in a permanent family.

As a founding member of the Families For Orphans Coalition, Joint Council is proud to announce that the first step in making this much-needed change is upon us. In a bi-partisan effort, landmark legislation was introduced into Congress, which will ensure that U.S. government programs, policies and funding are directed towards a singular goal: a permanent family for every child.

The Families For Orphans Act (Senate Bill 1458 and House Bill 3070) , sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK), along with Representatives Diane Watson (D-CA) and John Boozman (R-AR), demonstrates our collective commitment to the millions of children living outside of permanent parental care and proactively addresses a global gap in the most basic of human rights – the right to a permanent family.

While the introduction of the legislation is an important first step, there is much more to be done. Now we must ensure that the Families For Orphans Act becomes the law of the United States. To do this, your voice is needed. Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves by supporting the Families For Orphans Act and joining in our Call To Action.

What can you do?

Sign the Families For Orphans petition, make three simple phone calls, and get the word out! Here are the details…

1. Sign our Petition!

2. Call Congress!

  • On July 28th, 29th, and 30th, call your three Members of Congress (two in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives).

  • You can find your representative at www.house.gov

  • You can find your Senators’ phone numbers at www.senate.gov

  • Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff

  • For maximum effect, we are asking you to make these calls within this 72-hour window!

3. Get the word out!

  • Send this email to friends and family. Post to your Facebook, My Space, Twitter, blog or website.

What should you say or write to your Members of Congress?

  • This is an issue that is critical to children in need, so speak from your heart. Tell them why ensuring more children living in families is so important to you!
  • Ask your Senators and Representatives to become a Co-Sponsor of the Families For Orphans Act.
  • Please feel free to use the following text as a guideline when speaking with your Member of Congress.

“As a constituent of we are requesting that you support the Families For Orphans Act by becoming a Co-Sponsor of the legislation. For information on becoming a Co-Sponsor, please contact Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator James Inhofe, Representative Diane Watson or Representative John Boozman.

Thank you for representing your constituents by becoming a Co-Sponsor of the Families For Orphans Act, Senate Bill 1458 and House Bill 3070.”

More Information

For detailed information on the Families For Orphans Act visit:

On behalf of Joint Council, the Families for Orphans Coalition and the children of our world, we thank you for helping through your support of the Families For Orphans Act.

Best wishes,


Sunday, July 12, 2009


My Dad discovered a great biking trail not too far from our house, and we decided to try it out today. We had quite an adventure! The trail is about 7.5 miles long. Here is the before picture of this intrepid gang..... (above & left)

The rest of the pictures are during and after the trek. The top 3 pictures are "after." The kids wanted to act exhausted! The second to the last pic is of Madeline and her unhappiness. At 3.5 miles into the ride, her nose started to bleed. I had a small first aid kit, but was not really prepared for this. We used wet wipes, not ideal, but did the job.

We made it to our destination and completed 7.5 miles. The trail ends at a nice park and all was going well until Jim and Marney "daredevil" Brown decided it would be fun to ride down a steep washout. Meanwhile, the rest of us were resting and Madeline was investigating the local Mulberry trees, when she stepped in a nest of ants! They were crawling all over her, and like any 10 year old girl would do, she screamed her head off and scared us all! She did a little dance and brushed them off, all was fine. It was then that we heard Marney crying. Jim and Owen (on the tag along) had done just fine on their little adventure, but Marney's second run ended in the bushes. Poor Jim, he thought at first Marney's arm was broken. It wasn't, much to his relief! She was a little shaken and a little scraped up, but fine.

We decided then we all needed a little break and some lunch, so we found a place to grab a bite to eat. That did the trick, our ride back to the cars was uneventful. I think I even saw a smile on Madeline's face.

Our total mileage for the day was 16.25. I was very impressed that the kids made it that far, they did awesome! It was a fun day, and a great trail. We will do it again soon. Only next time we will pack a bigger first aid kit (complete with ant spray, really?) and a healthy lunch.

More homestudy drama...

Shortly after our I-800 was put in the mail, we learned that we were not actually supposed to have our homestudy released to us!?! Our placing agency never cleared our final draft! I turns out that there has been some friction between our homestudy social worker and the social worker in charge of homestudies at our placing agency. Our placing agency has the final say on what the final homestudy looks like because they ultimaltly take legal responsibililty for it once it is attached to our I-800A.

This has all been going on without our knowledge. Our social worker said that she wanted to protect us from everything that has been going on, but on our end it just looked like she has been doing nothing. Apparently the placing agency social worker has been overly picky about the details of our homestudy, and has been driving our social worker crazy with changes. Meanwhile she was getting pressure from us to finish the homestudy, because on our end it just looked like she was not working on our case. So I think she just wanted to be done with all of it, and released an unapproved homestudy to us.

Also, along with the homestudy, a letter of approval from our placing agency needed to be attached to our I-800A before it was sent. No one ever from either side communicated this detail to us.

I'm writing all this not to complain or discourage anyone from this process, ours is apparently an unusual case, one for the record books of things that can possibly go wrong. I really want to chronicle this process in as much detail as I can for our family history, and hopefully you all can learn from our mistakes!

So after many phone calls (and reminders that a child is at stake here) on all sides, I think things have been smoothed over. The director of our placing agency (a wonderful, smart, southern lady) has taken over our case, I think she is the one to get things done. Hopefully all this will come down to is our placing agency just sending the approval letter to the USCIS to join the rest of our paperwork.

I think that there may be an even bigger reason that we have had so many difficulties with our homestudy, I think that God has been trying to buy some time while he has been working on our hearts. There is a certain brown eyed beauty in the same orphanage as Ben that I cannot get out of my head. I have been thinking about her for quite some time, and thinking how great it would be for Ben to grow up with someone from the same place and have a developmental equal. I see her eyes in my sleep, and I can picture her in our everyday life. I keep seeing myself holding her, here at our house, on my lap in a rocking chair. Could He be calling us to adopt 2 angels?

I don't know, but Jim seems to be turning the corner from "no" to "that might be nice." Hmmm.

This would mean some changes to our homestudy (I'm sure our social worker would be thrilled to get that phone call! :)) and to our I-800A. Also, it would mean coming up with $9,000 more. Something that seems impossible at this point. So, we will just have to wait and see where this all goes!

Friday, July 10, 2009


Those of you with small children will appreciate this:

An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard.

I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.

He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head;

he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the

hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.

An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.

The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour.

This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is

and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar:

'He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 - he's trying to catch up on his sleep.

Can I come with him tomorrow?'

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hillbilly Housewife

Does that title crack you up too? Jen told me about this website, just wanted to share it. :)

Great money saving ideas and recipes. Enjoy!

I'm going to make the Taco Style Lentils & Rice tonight....maybe even add the chickpea hummus dip recipe. Yum!

Beans are so healthy, especially when rice is added to the meal. It makes a complete protein (contains all the essential amino acids in amounts adequate for human use), similar to proteins from an animal source. Try replacing a red meat meal with a beans and rice meal, your heart and pocketbook will thank you!

***Update*** Taco style lentils were yummy! We used it for a taco filling, and the kids ate it up! Owen asked for seconds! Regular ground beef taco filling has about 347 calories per serving, lentils & rice taco filling has about 80 calories per serving.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


We have our homestudy in our hands, and our I-800A in the mail!!!!!! It feels so good to be moving forward, one step closer to Ben!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grab a tissue...

...and watch this families journey to their two children. They took tons of photos and video, it really captures the emotions on all sides of this experience.


If you have not checked out mommylife by Barbra Curtis (see blog roll) you really should. This post today was very thought provoking.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday America!

This is a great post about the price that was paid by the founders of our country for our freedom. Something we should all want to preserve and protect. I love the last line of her post, "Don't forget we established our independence from Britain because of tyranny, control and over-taxation!"

Have a great holiday weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It must be summer....

The "what can I do's" have begun. I loved todays however.

Owen: Mom what can I do? Wash windows?

Me: Ah, sure Owen, which one do you want to wash?

Owen: All of them.

Me: Um, here's the spray and paper towel. (Fetch camera, pretty sure I want this documented.)

It didn't last too long, but he did wash the front and back doors ( as far as he could reach anyway). I have high hopes for this one, he is a hard worker!

Love this...

(The Waiting Child's Lullabye)

I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.

I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.

Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I'm doing all that I can do.

Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.

--- © Pamela Durkota, written for Josh

Great quotes...

It has been said that adoption is more like a marriage than a birth: two (or more) individuals, each with their own unique mix of needs, patterns, and genetic history, coming together with love, hope, and commitment for a joint future. You become a family not because you share the same genes, but because you share love for each other.
Joan McNamara
Adoptive parent

(Joan works for Hopsctoch Adoptions Inc., they are who we are using to bring Ben home, and she is awesome!)

Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance.
Mother Teresa

I’d rather regret the things that I have done, than the things that I have not done.
--- Lucille Ball

God sets the lonely in families.
--- Psalm 68:6

And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.
--- Matthew 18:5

Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother.
--- Lin Yutang

If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.
--- Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev

Ships are safe inside their harbor. But, is that what ships are for ?
--- Thom Bishop, Wake up and dream

We are all pencils in the hand of God.
Mother Teresa

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
Mother Teresa

Tropical cream pie anyone?

Madeline is getting to be quite the little baker. She made this yummy tropical cream pie with very little help from me. Delish! Something about this picture makes her look so grown up, I can't believe my little girl is going into 5th grade! Where did the time go? She amazes me every day with her courage and kindness, I'm so excited to see what her future holds. We love you Madeline, and keep the desserts coming!

Strawberry picking, yummy!

We went berry picking last week and had lot's of fun. It doesn't take long to fill up our boxes when you have 7 little helpers. I think Leah wins the prize for the most strawberries eaten, and Jonah wins for the most picked. Can't wait for next summer when we have 10 helpers!