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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beloved, Boisterous, Boy Blanket

     Last week, my most favorite package ever arrived.  Ok... maybe it's tied with the package my mom sent last year on Chris and mine's anniversary that was our wedding invitation matted beautifully and placed in a gorgeous frame.  These two packages are now tied for first place.  (Although that juicer, Mom, has definitely gotten a lot of use in the 6 weeks that I've had it!)  Aren't moms the best?  They have a knack for knowing what you need... Unfortunately, I'm the type of person who will trudge through the inconvenience of make-shift and half-broken kitchen tools for YEARS before I take the effort to buy what I really need.  It took me a YEAR to discover that garlic presses existed instead of painstakingly mincing each little garlic clove 3 times a week!  THEN... it took me another 3 years to realize... fresh garlic really does not taste that much better than the pre-minced garlic in a jar that I can buy at Walmart.  That's right...I no longer use fresh garlic in my recipes.  Those of you who just sucked in a shocked breath of air... are no longer invited to dinner at my house.  YOU deal with stinky garlic hands for days, and then we'll talk. 
     But I digress (what?  me?  never!).  Last week, Holden's toddler blanket arrived in the mail!  The idea of his blanket has been spinning around in my head for months now.  I started out in May knowing only that I did NOT want a toddler bedding set from Babies R Us or Target or anywhere.  I did NOT want a bedding set...  I hunted through all of them and realized that the designers who are currently designing toddler bedding make me want to vomit.  If you currently have a toddler bedding set in your house, and you invite me over, I promise to keep my vomit down.  (I know, I'm very considerate that way.)  Overall, I am NOT a fan of room sets, bedding sets, or anything that says, "let's pick one theme and painstakingly match and repeat it throughout the room so that your head will spin!  If you're a fan of such things, I still like you.  I'm sure you're a wonderful person.  I just don't like your decorating style.  I'm not going to punch you in the face over it, I'll just punch you in my head.  You'd probably say the same thing about my decorating style, so we're even. 
     Knowing that I wanted something unique and non-cheesy, I turned to etsy to find a suitable toddler blanket.  Etsy is pretty much where I always turn if I want to find something unique and special.  If you don't know about etsy... umm, where have you BEEN?!  Etsy is a magical fairyland of original, handmade items and fabulous vintage finds.  I stumbled across this shop:  SirBubbadoo
Unfortunately, she's on vacation right now (hmmm... she went on vacation right after she made Holden's blanket... was I too much work?!...naaaah).  Anyways, you can check out some of her products by looking at her Sold Items.  Doesn't she have the brightest, most cheerful, and modern stuff?  I love it!  I also love her shop name.  SirBubbadoo is her little boy's nickname.  How cute is that?!  She also calls him The Bub, and King Bub.  I love it.  Chris' nickname from his family is actually Bub, or Bubby.  (Uh oh... I wasn't supposed to announce that to the world, was I?)  His sisters and parents still call him Bub sometimes.  I think it's so sweet.  Kristina, the shop owner, also has a Blog where she's always sharing new projects she's working on.  Look here for some of her other custom quilt projects.  Oh wait... not yet!  Holden's quilt takes up the first two entries... Check it out!

Wait for it....

Wait for it...

Just wait a minute...

Patience is a virtue...

Ta Da! 

     So these pictures really do not do this quilt justice.  The colors and patterns are just gorgeous in person!  It's hard to capture how great it is on camera.  (Or maybe it's just hard for someone with absolutely zero photography skills... sigh...)
     Also, Chris didn't get home until it was dark out, so the picture of him holding the quilt uses indoor, artificial lighting. (gasp!) It was the best we could do. 
     Look at the soft minky Kristina used on the back side of the quilt.  I love it!  Holden is going to be snuggling up with this blanket for a long time.  I realize he won't be in a toddler-sized bed forever, but still, this blanket will be perfect for trips away and movie nights on the couch.  Even when he decides it's too immature for his little grown-up eight year-old self, I will seal it away in a zip loc and capture his sweet preschool scent forever.  When he is embarassed at my mere presence in the world and thinks he has lost all use for me, I will sneak away and smell this blanket, and remember a time when I was one of his heros -- when he wanted to do everything I was doing, and he couldn't survive one day without me. 

     Let me say a few more things about this quilt.  Kristina at SirBubbadoo is a genius with fabrics.  I came to her, thinking I'd just pick one cute patterned fabric and have her make a solid blanket for me.  She immediately had a ton of ideas to offer just in case I wanted something a bit different.  She gave me loads of pictures and examples, and then, when I picked a fabric I really loved -- the bright elephants in a row -- she miraculously paired it with the most beautiful, brightly-colored, cheerfully-patterned fabrics to go with it.  I looked at her selection and thought, "how did you read my mind?!"  Kristina is so fun to work with because she LOVES what she does.  She gets super excited about new ideas and she is so committed to making sure her customers are happy with the finished product.  She really listens, but not only that, she's the perfect guide to help you figure out what you really want.  I will definitely go back to SirBubbadoo for any other special children's blankets I might need.  If you're looking for something unique and special, please check her out.  You will not be disappointed! 
     I can't wait to get Holden's room finished and see this blanket in its place of glory on Holden's toddler bed.  Speaking of Holden's room, our big hold-up has been Chris building built-in bookshelves and a window seat.  He is doing an amazing job!  When your work takes you out of town or takes up 14 hours a day... that doesn't really leave a lot of time to work on projects at home.  Thankfully, Chris is mostly home for the next 6 weeks, so hopefully we'll have a finished room to show you by Septemberish?  Until then, I'm going to be doing some sneak peaks of items we're using in his room.  Stay tuned... it's going to be fun!
     Now go smell your toddler, and appreciate how much they need you at this time in their lives.  Someday, you will miss how much your children used to need you.... (These are wise words from all the wise mothers I know.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Once Upon A Time, I Had a Lovely Toddler Shower

     Ten days ago, some dear and lovely ladies, and one special person in particular, put on the most wonderful toddler shower to celebrate Holden.  I smile every time I think about it.  I just can't get over how honored I felt that these women came together to celebrate my precious little boy.  Even more surprising is the fact that although none of us have a definite date on when he might come home, they wanted to celebrate him nevertheless. 

    If you keep reading, you'll discover that we are one glorious step closer to bringing him home.  More on that later...

FIRST, I have to tell you about this splendid shower.
  I walked in to Christina's house, and it smelled magnificent.  She made Indian food!  I know, RIGHT?!  I can't believe she would take the time and effort to plan an Indian menu to honor Holden.  Indian food is not easy to make, believe me, I've tried!  I've got to get her chicken curry and lentil curry recipes, because they were DELICIOUS!  She also had a coconut-lime drink that was to-die-for, and Lisa brought key lime pie dessert cups - they were so cute and yummy! 
     Plus also, one advantage to adopting is that you can still have alcohol... just sayin'... it's a nice little bonus when you're at an event and the hostess makes the most delicious mixed drink on the planet.  I'm not an alkie or anything, but it's nice to have a little thing or two to rub in the faces of those ladies who have actual due dates for their babies...(jealous much?  naaaahh, not me!)...I mean... I still have normal-sized, non-puffy size 6 feet, so... who can complain about an elephant-length gestation with those little perks?  (FYI: an elephant's gestation is 22 months.  Chris and I applied to adopt with Holt in November of 2010.  So bringing Holden home in September would equal an elephant's gestation... looks like we're giving birth to an extremely overdue, ginormous elephant baby then!) 
      Back to the shower, which was amazing, and also included among its guests, one aforementioned pregnant lady with a due date coming very soon... so excited for you Jackie!  Also, I'm very impressed that you made it through an afternoon of Indian smells.  That takes skill when you're pregnant! 

     When I turned around, I saw this hanging from the mantle:

     Is this not the most adorable pennant you've ever seen?!  The vibrant colors will go perfectly with Holden's brightly colored room... can't wait to finish the room so I can really show this pennant off.  I love the pennant trend that's been going strong for a while now.  Pennants scream happiness and parties and celebration, so their use in baby and children's rooms is perfect.  It's such a fun way to say, "we're so overjoyed that you're here." 

     I got such fun gifts too: like this bath boat with fishing pole... even Chris had fun with this one! 

He was not as big a fan of the music set... but I promised to hide it away when he comes home from work.

We're all convinced Holden will be chasing Gus around the house trying fix him up and/or shove him into this tiny kennel that came with his vet kit.

And this happy, giddy, bowling set is just too fun

Love this little shirt set...adorbs!  I'm such a sucker for preppy little boy clothes. 

Lisa, the commanding officer's wife, gave this sippy cup as part of her gift.  How special is that?!  I love it! 

    We got tons of other cute and/or useful items.  Thank you so much, everyone!  Overall, I'm just overwhelmed by the support Chris and I have received from his squadron and the spouses.  When we first mentioned the adoption to the guys in the squadron, we thought for sure the response we'd get was, "Are you serious?  This is the Marine Corps.  You don't have time to skip all over the globe adopting orphans."  Instead, we've received nothing but encouragement, excitement, and overwhelming support to bring Holden home.  We feel so grateful to be part of this squadron.  We've made so many wonderful friends, and it really does feel like a family.  The military is pretty unique that way.  You may have to live far from home but you develop such close friendships and a network of support that becomes your second family.  We are so incredibly blessed to have our Marine Corps family.  When the wait seems like forever, it's encouraging to know there are so many friends who have come alongside us, waiting and laboring with us to bring Holden home. 

     Speaking of bringing Holden home, I have some news to share!  Remember that little stamp of approval we needed from the ARC/SARA committee at the state-level?  Guess what?!?  We got it today!!  This extra step really had me stressed out.  It could have easily stretched into months of waiting.  Last night I couldn't sleep.  I stayed up praying about this situation, so discouraged at the timeline of things and wondering when we might have news.  I can't get over the fact that at the very moments I was praying for progress and encouragement, God was answering my prayers with an approval meeting in India!  Now, our papers really do go to CARA.  The wait for their NOC should be 4-6 weeks... but no guarantees.  After the NOC, we wait for our actual court date in India.  Either way, another check box is complete.  We are one step closer to bringing Holden home.  Let's just pray India doesn't add any more steps, and that the last 2 big steps come amazingly fast. 




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Where in the World is Holden San Diego?

     This post isn't really about where Holden is.  Fortunately, we know he's with a loving foster family who are supported and trained by an amazing orphanage in Bangalore, India.  His foster family, and the orphanage, VCT, give him everything he needs: food, clothing, affection, help with physical therapy... everything, that is, but the ability to be his permanent family and to teach him about how cool God is.  We are so very blessed that this foster family is there to fill in the gap for us.  I can't imagine making it through this wait if I thought my child was not getting the love, attention, and care he needed. 
     This post is about where in the world all of our adoption papers are.  We mistakenly thought that for the last 8 weeks our adoption papers, or dossier, was with CARA - India's Central Adoption Resource Authority, and that we were simply waiting for their stamp of approval, or NOC.  It turns out, however, that CARA has decided to add an extra step to the adoption process.  I just LOVE extra steps!  They are so much fun! 
     CARA decided that each state must have an Adoption Recommendation Committee (ARC).  The state ARC must first issue their approval of our adoption before everything gets sent to CARA for the NOC.  This makes perfect sense, because certainly, if we were approved by the state of South Carolina, approve by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration, approved by Holt, and will also need approval by CARA and a judge in Bangalore, surely, that is just not quite enough approvals to be certain that this adoption is a good thing.  We have been informed that the ARC for Karnataka (Holden's state) has not met for two months, and no one is sure when they might meet again.  Today, we found out that a State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) meeting was scheduled recently, but it did not take place.  So, our papers remain with the Department of Women and Child Development of Karnataka.  I believe the DWCD is similar to the department of Children and Family Services that we see in U.S.  I think they support things like early childhood education and prevention, and address allegations of abuse and removing children from homes.  This is where I am trying to think positively.  I am trying to give these wonderful, hard-working people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are far too overwhelmed with children who are starving or abused and situations that must be addressed ASAP, and they cannot seem to find the time to move things along for children who are already safe and taken care of.  I get that, I really do.  It doesn't make the waiting easy, but I certainly don't want any children who are in danger or starving to get overlooked.  If, in fact, these lovely people are just sitting around watching youtube videos and picking their noses, I just don't even want to know.  Please don't shatter my angelic view of them.  It's helping me get through this! 
     Whew, I thought fighter jet pilots over-did it on the acronyms, it turns out the adoption community is quite fond of them as well!  I wonder if they use call signs around the office...
     All that to say, not only do we not know when Holden gets to come home, but we are positive that delays are happening and will continue to happen.  At this point, I'll be thrilled if we get to bring Holden home by January.  Chris and I were talking last night about how we're starting to worry that everyone thinks we've made this adoption up!  I mean, all these delays and little steps seem like fiction.  We're fortunate to have watched many friends go through the adoption process in Thailand and other countries, and realize that these delays and extra steps are just part of the process.  They seem to happen in almost every inter-country adoption.  We promise, Holden is real, and he will really be our son!  It's just not going to happen on our timing. 
     I have faith that God is in control of all of this.  He will not abandon us, and more importantly, He will not abandon Holden.  The same God who blessed Hannah with a son after years of waiting and praying (1 Samuel 1), is the same God who blessed Elizabeth with a son after years of waiting and praying, (Luke 1), and He's my God too.  I read a verse today that really encouraged me: "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance taught in the scriptures, and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope." Romans 15:4  I serve a God who loves to give His children good things.  I serve a God who's in control of the tiniest details of my life and the biggest ones too.  I will choose to wait patiently for His plan to be fulfilled.  I choose hope.