Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Little Miracles, Big Cookies

The Yard Sale/Adoption Fundraiser was a ton of work, but worth it. The bake sale alone brought in $80. Those giant cookies sold all day. I wish I had a picture of the smiles on Maren and her friend Alyssa's faces as they handed customers their cookies or their change, or when the customers said, "Keep the change for your China girl." 

All the big things sold. Tons of the little things sold. It was a hub of bargain-hunting activity. At the end of the day we had made, what I believed, was enough to cover our next adoption fee installment.

But I was wrong.

Because I had thought the next installment was $700. So when I was going through our Dossier papers, due today, making sure we had all the documents, checking them against the mailer list, I had a nagging feeling I'd missed something. That $ number seemed too low.

I did check. And then I sent an email to our Dossier Specialist. And she affirmed my nagging feeling. The installment due was $700+$1500. Two payments for different things, due at the same time.

My heart sank and I broke down in tears. Had the house sold already as we hoped, this wouldn't be an issue. But it hasn't yet. We are between jobs. We are keeping our credit lidded because we need to qualify for a loan to buy our next house. We knew it was a risk. We were willing to take it. So we are using cash for everything. Including the adoption.

I know this is a bit personal, but I needed to share.

Because when I counted everything up, I was floored. The yard sale brought in just under $1500! This was incredible, and I was so grateful. I had not expected to bring in that much!

But it was not enough. And I didn't know where we would get the rest. I fell asleep crying, and praying.

When I woke up the next morning I remembered that we had a payment coming from selling our old truck. Our friends had bought the truck but didn't need it right away, so were letting us use it until the move. I made a call, and the payment was delivered without issue.

Which gave us enough to pay the adoption fee in full and on time.

So thank you. Thank you.

Xie xie.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yard Sale & Adoption Fundraiser

This Saturday is our big ol' yard sale/fundraiser. Seven years of accumulation spread out in front of our house for the whole world to see. Not the whole world. A portion of it. A teeny, tiny, little--okay you know what I mean. I have a lot to do, of course.

So I'm blogging.

Included in our Yard Sale of the Decade (really because I don't want to do this again soon) is a Bake Sale, run by my 11 year old who makes the best cookies around. We will have Mrs. Field's recipe cookies, my famous lemon bars, peanut butter bars, and some mini loaves, if I didn't already pack my mini loaf pan . . . hmmm. But a nice assortment of baked goods will be for sale.

We will also have an array of hand-sewn items made by me. Featured are the jewelry rolls everyone seems to LOVE. They are pretty great. These are a smaller version I made up. Four vinyl pockets in stead of six, and narrower. But still the same length to hold your necklaces in the large pocket after you've clasped them around the ribbon band at the top. See all the pretty colors I'm working on? Fabulous gift item, folks. I will also have a few pretty skirts and aprons to sell as well. 100% of the profits from these items will go toward the adoption. My sister, Shelli, even donated most of the gorgeous fabrics I'm using.
large 22.00 (includes S&H)
small 17.00 (includes S&H)

ALSO, I will have a book signing table with copies of OF GRACE AND CHOCOLATE (Whitney Award Finalist 2012) and THE ORCHARD (just out this year) for sale. I will even sign them for you if you'd like. You can click here for more information on these books. A large portion of my sales earnings will be going to the adoption, so you really are supporting two dreams when you buy a copy or two of my books at the sale or at bookstores or online. And thank you!

Well, I've got to get back to work. After all the hub-bub dies down I will be posting more about Kickyloo hand-sewn items for Christmas ordering, so keep that in mind for your holiday shopping!

Xie xie ni.

Thank you.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Another Step

Good news! We have our Pre-Approval letter from China! This means they've initially approved our request to adopt Shen Xin Qin! Sara!

Now we continue to collect our Dossier material. We've begun to take the Hague Parent Education courses required by Hague countries. We are taking 8 classes together and they are great. Basic, informative, and they make us eager to get Sara. We high-five when we pass each test.

To ease transition, for Sara and our family, it is recommended that we get to know as much as possible about the adoption country, China, and even her province. Brandon found this great website: Chinese Culture...for Kids! We decided to go through each of the cultural areas as a family on different nights, and end with Food. For that lesson we'll cook and serve a traditional Chinese dinner. I was impressed with this site and how informative and entertaining it is. When you're writing for kids you can't be boring, so it's a great site for anyone. I was most excited to see a regional map and the typical foods served in that region and all the cooking. We will definitely be trying these dishes and I hope Sara and Maren will enjoy helping. Especially for festival celebrations like Chinese New Year and the Moon Festival.

Last night we learned how to write and count to 10 in Chinese. These are our attempts:
L-R: Braeden, Maren, Me, Jacob, and Brandon

To celebrate our pre-approval, I finished this project:

Love. It.

Wo shi ni de ma ma.

I'm your Mama.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Standing a Little Taller

Yellowtail Fireworks Show 2011

Happy Independence Day, everyone! This morning we watched the Cody parade, which is always great. I got very emotional when four "hot shot" firefighters walked by with a memorial banner for the 19 men who died in Arizona.
Afterwards we walked around the arts market in the park before settling on some lunch from the vendors. Braeden and Maren each bought a freshly squeezed lemonade, which was perfect. I'd love to duplicate it. Then the guys broke off and ordered what was called a "Hawg on a Log", which, quite frankly, scared me a little (big BBQ hunks of pork on a skewer in a footlong paper trough full of sauce). Maren and I headed back over to Taste of Asia, which Brandon lovingly called "Taste of Diarrhea".
Despite our difference in tastes and terminology, Maren and I happily bought our double eggrolls (light and crisp to perfection) and stir-fry vegetables with noodles, with a ladle of teriyaki chicken on top, served in a red paper asian take-out box with choptsticks. They were neither gelatinous nor greasy and the teriyaki "juice" (not thickened) wasn't too salty or sweet. Perfect.
We found each other again, in front of the stage full of performing cloggers, and sampled our foods. The BBQ pork was tasty and smokey, but I was already full of noodles. I couldn't help but observe that I was eating Asian food with chopsticks on the 4th of July, and I thought of Sara, and that was pretty perfect, too. I wish she were here already.

Oh, and Maren and I updated that old weathered bench. Is it just me, or does it seem to be standing a little taller?


The weather has turned for now, rain and wind, some thunder, but later we're supposed to head over to the church for a BBQ and fireworks. Our church building is on a hill overlooking town and we get a great view of the city fireworks show from there. If the weather cooperates. I made my famous lemon bars, as requested by Jacob. I guess if it's cancelled we get lemon bars for dinner.

Not too shabby.

Enjoy your holiday, and your freedoms!

Famous Lemon Bars

Monday, July 01, 2013

In The Meantime

The last two weeks have been slow on the adoption work. We have a packet due at the end of this month but a large portion of that needs us to already be in Washington. We are feeling the pressure to get this house sold. I wish I could just start packing things up, have the yard sale, and change our address so we can put our new information on the adoption docs. We are also waiting for our physical exam appointments, the police reports saying neither Brandon or I have a criminal record or anything, and since I am self-employed I need to have a CPA write a letter saying I'm an author and I make a little money doing it. The birth certificates, marriage license, Brandon's employment letter, and passport copies have been taken care of, and I've composed our application letter to the Chinese government asking for permission and approval to adopt from their country.

Everything else, including the I800 A form, needs us to be moved. So we are praying hard.

We have found a house! We love it. We have made a contingency offer and it's been accepted. We are so close.

While we are waiting I've done a few projects outside in the warm summer sunshine. And in some wind. And briefly in a sudden thunder storm.


This was a big project but I gained some courage from Pinterest and my mom and sister. They are super-encouragers. If you ever need encouraging, find them. My mom will feed you baked goods. She's a dangerous woman.

This is what our old set looked like:

I liked the black when we first got it, but it had faded and begun to rust.

I scrubbed the rusty places away with a wire brush. You don't want that under your  new paint!

Nobody wanted to sit on it because it looked dirty.

So I found some pics on Pinterest and pretty much thought I could handle the job. I was right. 
Rustoleum Ultra Cover Primer, white. 1 coat top and bottom.

I primed in the garage. Priming day was WINDY.

I laid down large drop cloths and covered the bikes. Any overspray swept up nicely.

I was glad one of the sites I studied recommended spraying bottoms first. Definitely the better result.

Maui Blue by Rustoleum. Gloss Enamel. 2 coats.

To cover the mesh I made sure to spray moderately from every direction, moving around the table. 2 coats.

Ivy Green by Krylon. Gloss Enamel.

And I'm so happy with the cheerful results! I'm very impressed with the adherence of the paint and covereage. 
I look out my back windows all the time.
Maren and I planted the flower bowls in a surprise thunder storm. We hurried.

This patio set has two matching benches over by the firepit, and I'll be brightening those up as well. 
I'll be doing this sun-faded wooden planter box in my favorite red next:

 And this old weathered bench desperately needs some white paint: 

And with just a little patience and elbow-grease, I'll have some great updated outdoor furniture for the new house. If I can't get to them before the move, I'm fine with that. It just means we've sold this house and get to pack it all up.

Which means we can get on with the adoption.