Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Home Study Update...


Today we received an email stating that our home study has been approved!!!!

We are really excited. Now what? Our agency, CWA, will review the home study and then our social worker will send us the documents that we need from her for our dossier. This includes her social worker's license, the agency's license, the home study and a letter stating that we have been approved. As soon as we get this we will send it to North Carolina (CWA agency) to make sure that we completed everything. Once it is approved, we will send the dossier to Washington DC to a courier to take it the US Embassy and the Ethiopian Embassy to get it authenticated. From there, we will instruct them to send it to CWA in North Carolina. As soon as they receive it, it will be reviewed one final time and then sent to Ethiopia to be translated to Amharic. This is when we will officially be waiting for our referral.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ethiopian Easter in Chicago

I wanted to share a little more about our past weekend. We arrived in Chicago a little before 11 in the morning so we took a walk around the block. The apartment that Deress's sisters live in is right downtown so our walk to us alongside Lake Shore Drive. It was chilly outside, but it was nice to take a short walk. We went to their apartment and Mimi (Deress's sister) and Tedenekialesh (aka Teddy - Deress's mother) were in the kitchen preparing the authenic Ethiopian meal for our Easter dinner. Deress's other sister, Keiko, had to leave soon after we arrived.

For about an hour we talked to Deress and his father, Captian Kifle Eshete. The stories and experiences that they shared with us helped us get an insight of the Ethiopian culture. When lunch was ready we had to have some instruction on what to do. They explained to us the custom of eating with your fingers, no utensils. They also went through all of the dishes they prepared. To start off, you place injera on your plate. It is a spongy sour bread. All of the dishers that are prepared are placed on top of the injera. They prepared a fewast and it was delicous. Although I don't remember the exact names, I think I can remember all of the dishes. I now realize I didn't take any pictures of the food.

Mimi and Teddy prepared collard greens, chicken with a sprcy sauce, dry curd cottage cheese, raw meat mixed with spices, lamb with some good flavoring and tibs (somewhat like a stir fry). We both tried everything. I don't handle spicy food very well so I couldn't really stomach the spicy chicken. Other than that, we really enjoyed it.

For about two hours, we sat around the coffee table and talked about Ethiopia. The family often spoke in their native language, Amharic. Even though we didn't understand a word, it was special to hear it. In the course of the afternoon, we were able to see how proud each family member was of their culture. They are all Ethiopian and super proud that they are from this country. They appreciate the opportunities America has given them, but they truely love Ethiopia. It has made them who they are today.

We had the opportunity to roast some coffee beans and make some Ethiopian coffee. We were able to see different kitchen items that we might purchase when we go later this year. We participated in the custom of smelling the coffee beans after they have been roasted. We really enjoyed learning the new things that are unique to Ethiopia. This is where we feel so blessed to have this family in our lives. They are willing to teach us and we want to learn.

Around four in the afternoon, some of their friends started arriving. Although we didn't get to know them as well as Deress's family, it was neat to observe the interaction of people.

We were originally planning just to be in Ethiopia for one week; however, if we are able to work it out, we might try to go early. When we told Deress's father and mother that we would just be there a week, they seemed disappointed. They encouraged us to stay atleast two weeks in order to better understand their culture. They are planning on being with us the entire time. How wonderful. It brings us so much comfort, mainly going to a place we have never been and we can't speak their language. I am sure it makes our families feel better too!

Right now we are anticipating that we will be traveling in October or November. They told us it was the best time to visit Ethiopia becasue it will be sprint time. They said that all the flowers will be blooming and it looks really pretty.

I will end the weekend with a cute comment. We were sitting on the couch and Deress's father said that he wished he knew the right person to talk to in the Embassy because he would try to speed up the process for us.

Monday, April 28, 2008

An AMAZING Weekend

We had a wonderful weekend! I couldn't wait to share the pictures. It is late and I need to get to bed, but more explanations will come soon. We had dinner with my parents and grandpa tonight. My dad is headed to Afganistan. Please keep him in your prayers. He is going there for his accounting business. This is his third trip there, but it always makes me a little nervous.



This is the art museum in Milwaukee.



Chris being goofy in the Miller gift shop before our tour.



Miller Valley - 80 acres of Miller...


We had lunch at a German restaurant in Milwaukee. Good food!

I guess you can call me a cheese head.

What would you call Chris...a cheese corn head?
We had some extra time before our game...so we went to another brewery. They also make gourmet sodas...mmm mmm good!


Miller Park - Home of the Milwaukee Brewers.




We had a lot of fun at the game.


Our absolute favorite part of the weekend...meeting Deress's family. We had an amazing time and we are so fortunate that they are a part of our lives now. I have so much to say about his family. Let's just say, we can't wait to see them again in Addis Ababa. We consider them dear friends of ours already.



























I will explain these pictures tomorrow night. All I have to say is God is so good to us!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Keeping up with our tradition...

Even though our entire weekend was planned, we had a great time. It all started on Friday night when we went to Grace United Methodist Church in Kokomo to a concert. It was nice to go to a concert that was litterally 10 minutes away! Derek Webb opened for Caedmon's Call. Our friends, Syd and Katie, were able to join us at the concert. The tickets were general admission so we ended up in the third row. It was a lot of fun and we were able to praise God throughout the evening.





This is the first time that I have posted a video. I hope it works for you. This is Derek Webb singing about him and his wife's courtship. I think that they met, got engaged and married all within 5 months. That was totally opposite of us. Chris and I dated for 7 years and in May we will celebrate our 5 year anniversary. I have been so blessed to have my best friend as my soul mate. He is my rock and he brings out the best in me.



video



This is a picture of Caedmon's Call. Derek Webb is also a part of this group.



Our friends, Syd and Katie, enjoying the concert with us. Syd works with Chris and he also went to our high school. We have really enjoyed getting to know Katie this past year. We feel like we have known her forever. She is a teacher with our cousin/friend Greg, who is a cousin to Syd. Boy, that sounds more confusing than what it actually is, but we are thankful they are in our lives.


I decided to include a picture of the Nicholson and Ponsler gang. I forget why Katie wasn't there for the picture. We have all been friends since high school and now some of us are even related. Weird.


On Saturday, we participated in the Race for the Cure. It was a neat experience even though it was pouring down rain in the morning. A shout out goes to Ericka for recruiting us to be on your team. The money raised goes to breast cancer research. The race was a 5K. We ended up jogging about 2 miles and walking 1 mile. It was a lot of fun and it made us feel good. On our last mile, Katie ended up finding us. What are the chances? There were only 42,000 people participating in the race.


On Saturday afternoon, we went to my parent's home to hang out with my family. My brother, Zac and his family came down to Indiana for the weekend. We love hanging out with them and their kids. Nathan, the oldest boy (3 and a half) that he was so excited because he stood and and went to the bathroom. The little things in life that make them happy. I love it! Aaron, the middle child, walks around saying "Kokomo" and laughing all of the time. Elijah is precious. He was born less than a month ago and sleeps most of the time. We celebrated my dad's birthday. He is actually going to Afganistan at the end of this month for work.
Today, we went to church and then met some friends for lunch. We had a great time catching up and sharing what is going on in our lives. God is so good. He always places people in your life for a reason.
As far as the adoption front goes, we completed a few forms that are required by our agency that is completing our home study. I plan on mailing the forms tomorrow and hopefully we will receive more information from our agency by Tuesday! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Our house has never been so CLEAN!

I will admit it. I am a procrastinator. It is a really bad habit. I wish I could change it, but I find it really hard. The good thing about this, I preform better under pressure. It is weird. Well, I really tested myself this past week. We have been going non-stop, and I mean non-stop. I will go back to Friday after work. Our wonderful mothers came over to our house to help us clean for our home study. We actually had a great time. We focused on the downstairs and we accomplished a lot. We washed windows, mopped floors, dusted everything, cleaned the stovetop, washed curtains, vaccuumed...you name it, we did it! We wrapped up the eveining around 11 pm.

Sarah's mother in action cleaning the stove for the home study.

Chris's mother washing windows in the game room.
On Saturday, Chris and I slept in till 8:30 (that is late for us) and then had a big homemade breakfast (eggs, maple bacon, toast & hasbrowns) since we knew we had a big day ahead of us. We decided to finish downstairs and it took us awhile. We had a few projects to wrap up and then we started cleaning again. We were at it until midnight. We were exhausted. The sad thing is, we still had quite a bit left to do upstairs. By this time, I was feeling guilty because it really shouldn't take us that long to clean our house. I guess it does if you do what I call a "deep" cleaning. After finishing our cleaning, it is refreshing. The house looks great. I hope we can keep it that way!
Awhile ago, we purchased tickets to see Aaron Shust in concert in Fort Wayne. On Saturday, we thought it would be fun to see if Andrew and Ashley had any extra time on Sunday for an early supper. Luckily, they didn't have any plans so we met at Granite City Brewery in Fort Wayne. The food was good and we had a great time catching up with the Bigelows. I wish we had more time to catch up but a little time is better than none at all!
The concert was at Taylor University in Fort Wayne. The opening was performed by Meridith Williams. Brandon Heath was also there and he has some great worship songs. I actually knew several of them and for those of you that know me and music, I am sure that is a shocker!


Aaron Shust wrapped up the evening. He has a big heart and is good at what he does. We really enjoy his CD and listened to it the whole way home.


On Monday evening, Chris and I met up in Noblesville and went to our last required session at Bethany. The session that we attended had a panel of adult adoptees. It was interesting to get their perspective on their adoption story.



The home study was last night. We really like our social worker. She got lost coming to our house, but other than that the evening went really well. We are happy that we are almost ready to submit our dossier to our agency. This was a really big day for us. We should receive our home study in about one week.
On top of having our home study on Tuesday, I also had my final exam for my class. What great timing! Like I said, I preform best under pressure. Bring it on!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The finish line is in sight the journey is yet unseen

A quick update as we begin the busiest week of the year. We attended our last required session with our Indiana Adoption agency last night and we have our final home study tonight. Our moms and us spent a majority of the weekend cleaning the house top to bottom. Feels nice to have that done, we decided we should do this more often. As many of you may or may not know the home study is the major final piece before we can submit our documents to Washington D.C. Right now our emotions are excited, nervous, anxious, overwhelmed, apprehensive, and about anything else you can think of, but we can not begin to tell you the amount of support, blog readers, stories, cards, generosity that we have received and for that we thank you. The comfort that provides is indescribable. I promise more details and pictures to come once today is finished.

God Bless!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Still Moving Right Along

Today was a busy day. I met Chris at the doctor's office and we filled out the remaining papers that we needed for our homestudy and our dossier. The only thing that we have left is to put our photos in the dossier and our home study information. This makes us feel good. I know that we are wrapping up the "paper chase" and the next portion is going to be to wait. From the blogs that I have been reading, this appears to be a difficult time. However, I am kind of excited about this waiting period because we still have quite a few things that we want to do before we travel to Ethiopia. On top of everything that we have been doing, we are also looking forward to spending this summer together because our lives will be changing soon. All for the good, just it will be different. We are so excited!

Yesterday we went to Grandma Conner's (Chris's grandma) and visited with her. We love spending time with her. I consider her to be one of the neatest people that I have ever met. She is 86 and absolutely loves life. She made us supper and I want the recipes to everything she made for us. We had a dinner salad with homemade dressing, a chicken and rice casserole, cresent rolls and her famous chocolate sheet cake. While we were at her house she played the piano for us. She started taking lessons about a year ago or so. She played "Great is Thy Faithfulness." It was beautiful.

Here are a few pictures that we took tonight. It was a little dark and so we will take new ones tomorrow. We need 5 pictures for our dossier...a few pictures of us together, with our house and in our backyard. I have to say our tripod was a great investment.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Catching Up

It amazes me how fast time goes by...it seems like it goes quicker the older I get. I hate that. I often get in a routine and it seems like my weekday evenings are similar. We had an extremely productive weekend. We are still getting our house ready for our home study. This weekend we cleaned our basement. And when I say cleaned our basement, I am using that term very generally. It might be better to say that we had a big trash pile. We did put rocks into buckets though. That has to account for something. For those of you who are not aware, we have a lot of rocks in our basement. Back in the day when my parents built this house, there was this crazy idea that if you put rocks in your basement and tin on your roof, you could create a heat source for your house. Well, sad to say...don't try this out on your home. It doesn't work. All it does is create a lot of work when your kids buy your house twenty years from now. We have been working on this project for quite some time now. Eventually, we would like to use our basement...we think the rock room would make a great movie room. Who knows when we will actually complete this project. We are actually thinking about having a ROCK party. BYOB. Bring your own bucket!





This weekend we also completed 8 hours of our online Hague training. This means that we are getting closer, much closer. Check out our week of planned adoption activities:



Wednesday - Doctor appointment for our dossier & homestudy
Thursday - Finalize our portion of the dossier
Friday - Travel Clinic appointment for all of our shots for our trip to Ethiopia
Friday/Saturday - Clean our house with our moms for the home study
Monday - Adoption Session at Bethany - Panel of Adult Adoptees
Tuesday - Home study

I am wrapping up my class this week. My test is next Tuesday. My next class starts on Monday. It seems like my life is a little hectic right now.

I talked with Deress, my friend from Ethiopia, today at work. His parents are not able to come to Indiana so we are going to go to Chicago to meet them and the rest of his family! I promise we did not invite ourselves. He offered and we have already made the plans! We will be going out to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant n April 27th! This will be my first time eating Ethiopian food. I hope I like it. Deress says that you either like it or hate it. I really want to like it.

Somehow I forgot to mention that we have a new little nephew. Hi name is Elijah and he was born on March 28. I was able to visit him last week when I went to Michigan for work. He didn't even know I was there. He slept in my arms the entire time. It is amazing that you can have so much love for a baby that you just met. Our other nephews are developing such fun personalities. It has been fun watching them grow. I often wish we lived a little closer so I could see them more often.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tagged...

We were tagged by the Juday's. We hope you enjoy this slice of our lives.

The Rules:Link to your tagger and post these 3 rules on your blog.
* Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
* Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
* Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

  1. Sarah - I was hit by a car when I was 4 years old. I was lifelined to Indianapolis because I had some internal injuries. I came away with no broken bones. When I was in dirver's ed, I found out that my instructor was my ambulance driver.
  2. Chris - Studied abroad in Greece and climbed Mount Olympus.
  3. Sarah - I am missing a gene from my mother and I only sweat on my right side. My left side stays completly dry when I work out.
  4. Chris - Has a dream about visiting every major league baseball stadium. He has visted several already. These include the old St. Louis stadium, the old and new White Sox stadium, Wrigley field, Arizona Diamondbacks stadium, Florida Marlins stadium and the Cincinnati Reds stadium.
  5. Sarah - I have had over 50 shots in one month while going through the IVF process. All of them were given to me by Chris, my mother-in-law, mother, doctor, nurses at the doctor's office, the Community hospital, St. Joe hospital and the lab.
  6. Chris - Is a huge music fan. His favorite groups are Pearl Jam and Coldplay. He has been to 8 Pearl Jam concerts. He has also been to 4 Coldplay concerts in one summer. He had front row tickets to 2 of the shows.
  7. Chris & Sarah - We spent Christmas in Munich, Germany together in 2001 when we studied abroad. We met up and traveled for a month. I studied in England and we went to Wales, France and Germany. It was awesome!

I am tagging Kevin, Jim, Jess, Jenn, Ang, Dina and Zac.