Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wilson Family Pictures

Dan's parents both turned...well...I'll just say a nice round number this year. Along with his brother's family, we splurged and got family pictures for them. (The last batch were taken when the boys were still in college...we figured with 2 daughters-in-law and 3 granddaughters, it might be time!) We were so incredibly impressed with Hannah Badeer Photography, and had a fun (warm) time on the University of Nebraska campus (where Dan & I met) during our photo session.

4th of July

Potlucks, pools and propane torches. Welcome to our 4th of July! Our good friends/fellow adoptive family invited several families out to their acreage for the 4th of July. He happens to be a fire captain in Lincoln, so we figured the pyrotechnics would be impressive...and since it was at his home, we'd also be pretty safe. I must admit, I've never seen anyone light fireworks from a propane torch before...

It was also Annie's first Independence Day as an American. She was an awfully cute little star.

When...tell me when...did she get to be so grown up?

Annie Update

It's been awhile since I've given an update on Annie. She has made such amazing progress this summer. After our June experience with hand, foot and mouth disease, where she was so incredibly sick, she's really bounced back and showing even more colors to her personality than we thought possible. And personality is something that overflows from her tiny little body!

She's incredibly spunky and completely mischievous. If you can unplug it or flush it, she'll find a way to do it. If you ask her not to do something, she flashes that little grin to see just how far she can go. If it draws or otherwise makes marks on things, she'll find a way to use it.

She is also incredibly endearing. She loves to be held and snuggles right up to you, resting her head on your shoulder. Her first word in the morning is usually "Da-da", "boo(k)", or "Melmo"...which invariably leads to snuggling with Daddy, anyone with a book, or whoever will watch Elmo with her. She knows when she's hit the wall and will practically beg for "nigh-nigh" - crawling onto the rocking chair with her blanket and lovey and waiting for someone to put her to sleep.

She has a vocabulary of about 20-30 words and signs. Pretty remarkable for having never heard English until 4 months ago, and having some pretty major physiological barriers to speech.

She redirects about 10% of the time (hey...we're thankful for small victories around here!) and is frequently seen and heard walking around and pointing to the plugs and telling them "NO!"

She loves her big sister, and asks/signs for "___na" whenever Dayna isn't around. Poor thing doesn't comprehend yet that in 14 days, her big sister will be at school and won't be around as much.

She's the queen of disappearing downstairs when we forget to latch the gate. She also quietly sneaks into the bathroom when we forget to shut the door.

She keeps us on our toes 300% of the time, and we love every moment with her.

Road Trip!

We decided to take a little getaway earlier this month. We usually enjoy at least 2 weeks away in the summer, but since we already spent 3 weeks away on the other side of the globe earlier this year, a summer vacation was out of the question for us. So Dan booked us a last-minute trip to Kansas City. Annie did so amazingly well in the backseat coming and going. She and Dayna get along beautifully when they're in the car together. This bodes well for a possible fall trip to Eastern Iowa later this year and the long drive to Oregon next summer.

While in Kansas City, the girls enjoyed pool time at the hotel. We also visited the American Girl and Lego stores, as well as lunch at our favorite chicken restaurant. My cousin Melinda graciously took Dayna overnight on Saturday. Melinda's daughter Olivia and Dayna get along so well whenever they get together. That was also the night the American Girl movie was on television. Double bonus for the girls! We ended our weekend by going to church with Melinda and having a leisurely lunch afterwards before driving home. As always, it was a wonderful getaway, but much too short. Hopefully we've talked Melinda into bringing her family up our way this fall for some pumpkin patch time!

Stir-Up Days 2013

Small town living at it's finest...every year in Mid-July, our little village holds their annual "Stir-Up Days." Parades, smile contests, pancake feeds, ice cream name it. If it screams "small town", we offer it up! The highlight for me was running my first 5K after last October's ankle injury. Not a great time, but more than 3 minutes faster than I planned. Dayna was excited to help her 4-H club sell snow-cones. Dan had a ball joining the kid's bicycle races, and was excited to win first place in his heat. (You did know it's a race for kids, right, Dan? To his credit, another person in his heat was the father of one of Dayna's friends.) And Annie was just along for the ride and the fun.

Waiting for Mom

Last push to the end

"Make Mine Iced" - free tea samples with my friend Tina

Which flavor would you like?

She takes her job very seriously

Racing with her best friend

3rd place and still smiling!

Go Dan Go!

Takes skill to beat a kid

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Running Through the Airport

I stumbled across this blog last night. I've never read anything by Lisa-Jo Baker before, but this one had me thinking. I confess...the title caught my eye. "When you think your love story is boring."

Not that I think my marriage to Dan is boring at all...but sometimes in the middle of life, you forget to see the fireworks.

Go ahead and read that article. Then you can come back!

I've been thinking about all the ways Dan expresses his love. The laundry magically finds its way from the floor to the washer to the dryer to nice folded piles. Not that I never do laundry...but I never need to ask Dan to help.

Tonight, I came back from taking the girls to drop Dayna's 4-H projects at the County Fair. The dishes were done and the counters were clean.

Right now, hysterical giggles are coming from the other room while he plays and tickles and wrestles and loves on his girls.

Earlier tonight, he dropped everything to fill the tank of my car before I left.

He doesn't have the highest paying job, but he finds ways to provide for our family...even when things are tight.

He takes the high road when I have one of my little fits and treat him less than kindly.

He listens to me talk. And talk. And talk. And talk.

He lets me dream and plan. And when things got too tough awhile back, he found a way for me to a make a major change in my life so we could make some positive changes in our family's life.

And while he'll never have to run through an airport for me...I giggle (in hindsight) at all the times he's run through an airport *with* me.

So while the fireworks may seem dim at times, I wouldn't trade this love story for anything.


I'm looking out my window right now...the end of July in Nebraska...and beginning to wonder just where I put that electric blanket cord. Maybe it's not quite that cool, but after an incredibly dry month, we've had some lovely rain and clouds the last few days. Temps have been in the 60s and 70s. The windows have been open. And the tea has been hot more than it's been iced.

Summer's winding to a close (a bit too soon here in Nebraska). In the next week, I need to get Dayna out for some new school clothes and supplies. Finalizing day care plans for Annie is also on the agenda. I'm ready to go back and be in the classroom again (as a substitute.) It's been a good summer, but a quiet one. The cooler temps this week are definitely making me yearn for fall and all the great things that go along with it. The pumpkin patch. Apple orchards. Falling leaves. Pumpkin chai lattes. Bonfires.

I know we'll have some hot weather again before that happens, but I'm enjoying the sneak peek right now!

The Continuing Story...

After lengthy goodnight prayers and an Amen, it's possible that a child may think of more she wants to say to God. Most children in this situation would add a "P.S."

Not my child....she adds an "Epilogue."

I think she's been reading a bit much this summer!

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Immigration Hassles

We were thrilled to finally get Annie's Certificate of Citizenship about a month ago. We were worried after the Immigration official at the San Francisco airport gave her a temporary green card rather than granting citizenship.

So that was the end of it. Or at least was supposed to be.

I went in to the Social Security office last Friday to apply for a card for Annie. Turns out someone at USCIS made a slight data entry error. They listed her with 2 first names and 1 middle name (rather than 1 first and 2 middle.) Everything printed correctly, so we had no way of knowing there was a problem.

Until we filed for Social Security. Turns out we don't have a name match. Social Security is still going to try and process our request. In the meantime, I need to take care of things with USCIS.

A simple data entry fix in their computer.

No dice...30 minutes navigating the phone jungle only to reach an agent who is more interested in reading from her legalese script than listening to the issue at hand. Long story short...we have to go through a long, drawn-out process (could take up to six months...we could request them to expedite things, but that's another process that could take up to six months...I kid you not!) We may even have to get a court order and pay $345 in additional fees...for their mistake!

I've contacted our state senator, our adoption agency and even the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China. The only way I can "prove" this wasn't our mistake is to get a copy of our application (which died when the laptop died.) We have copies of the forms we received...just not the original applications.

Oy vey! Prayers appreciated that this goes smoothly with no further cost.

Back to School's started. A little later than usual this year. My first "back to school" dream. The kind where I wake up overwhelmed with all the things I need to do to make my classroom "just so." Only this time, I didn't immediately switch on a light and start making lists and dreams and plans.

I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Someday I will again have the drive to invest hours of creativity into developing the perfect classroom environment...with cute nametags and innovative plans for fostering cooperative learning. I'll enter that building and smell the freshly waxed floors and see the rows of empty lockers just waiting for coats and backpacks.

But for now, I'm feeling pretty blessed to have one more year. A year where I can focus completely on my girls. A year where I can still step into a classroom, without the added pressures of staff meetings, lesson plans, etc.

And I'm so grateful right now for all those teachers whose back-to-school dreams are reality. The ones who are staying up late and making cute nametags and developing innovative plans. The ones who even now are investing in my kids and yours.