Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Letter of Acceptance!

Those of you who followed our adoption journeys to Elli and Graci know how much we love ladybugs! The story goes that one Spring, there was an influx of ladybugs around the nation, followed quickly by adoption referrals for families that had been waiting for a long time. Since that time, ladybugs have become the symbol of good luck in the adoption community. We know that there's really no such thing as luck, but rather a God who loves to have fun with His children! I am not stretching the truth when I say that every single milestone in our adoption journeys have been marked with ladybug sightings of some kind or other. All of these sightings have been fun and unique, but one takes the cake. It was when my dear friend, Heather, sent me a Valentine package in the mail. Heather had originally had Graci's file, and she and her husband wanted so much to adopt her, but it didn't feel right. Jeremy and I had decided to pursue her adoption and had just filled out our letter of intent. The day we sent it to China was the day I got the package from Heather-- full of candy and other Valentine goodies. It sounds too crazy to believe, but I opened up a salt water taffy to find-- you guessed it-- a ladybug. It was dead, of course-- but it was just the craziest thing. Who finds ladybugs in their candy?!! I immediately called Heather who swore she had nothing to do with it and we were just laughing our heads off at the audacity of it all. A ladybug in taffy? In the middle of winter?

Another time Parker came walking in the house with a ladybug on his nose. That day we received pre-approval for Graci. Another day, Jeremy and I were leaving for our first adoption parenting class and a ladybug flew in the window of our car and landed on my hand. These are just a few of our ladybug stories!

So, like I said, every step of every adoption has had ladybugs involved. Well, as we were outside last Friday night, Parker found a ladybug. Jeremy immediately said, "Our letter of acceptance must be coming!" He told me he was just sure it would arrive at the agency on Tuesday (Monday was a holiday, and they aren't there on Saturdays). I smiled and thought it was a fun thought, but that there was no way. I have been following TONS of adoption timelines, and nobody was getting them that soon.

I guess that shows that I need to kick up my belief in the ladybug theory, because lo and behold, yesterday we got the email that our LOA had indeed arrived, just 49 days after our LID!!! (Those of you following timelines know how amazing that is.) I happened to be on the phone with my dear friend, Kim, when I opened the email, and it was fun to share that moment with her! She is also an adoptive mom and is as passionate about it as I am. When I called Jeremy, he told me he had been waiting all day for the call. (:

So, what does this all mean??? It means that we should be traveling to China in 7-9 weeks!!!!!!!! Woo-hoo!!!!!!!!! After waiting so long, it seems crazy that it is that close! We are so very excited!!!

My kids have been praying every day for a very long time that we could travel before their school starts. I know others have been praying for us as well. I was beginning to wonder if it was going to happen, because there are so many waiting families whose timeline has been much slower than ours. Some people who got their acceptance letters yesterday had been waiting well over 100 days-- we were at day 49. I have no doubt that the many prayers offered in our behalf closed the waiting gap for us, and that the Lord knew the desires of our hearts to travel this summer (besides getting him sooner, it also worked out so much better for childcare situations).

At the same time, I know that the Lord knows what's best for every family, and that waits that may seem unfair or too long may very well have a good reason behind them. I could not understand why in the world Elli's adoption took so long, but it just so happened that if we had adopted her even a couple of days earlier, Jeremy wouldn't have gotten the 6 weeks paid paternity leave that his company had just implemented. So hang on, waiting families-- we will all have our children soon!!! (:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I have finally updated Elli's site...

...and am pledging to be better at keeping it up. (:

(As Jennifer put it well, Elli may not be forsaken, but her blog is!)

Click HERE to read.

Also, being Memorial Day weekend, we are of course thinking of our sweet, amazing loved ones who have passed on. We are especially missing those we have lost in the last few years:

Tiffany Rose (Jeremy's darling little sister-- died at age 22 in a car accident)

Grandpa Larsen (my grandfather-- a WWII veteran and amazing man)

Grandpa Green (Jeremy's grandfather-- a hard worker with a quick wit)

Grandma Nelson (my grandmother and one of my most treasured friends)

Keltson Blackburn (our sweet neighbor and Taylor's primary teacher)

and of course our darling Jacob and Emily.

We love you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Turn up your speakers and enjoy!

(Side Note: I've played on stage with Jon Schmidt before:)


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Falling in love all over again!

I got the most amazing phone call on Monday, and it has had me smiling ever since. Let me start at the beginning. A few weeks ago, I was just DYING for some new info on our sweet little Chu Chu. Anything. Updated measurements, a picture, word that he was doing well-- I just needed something. It is so difficult to be waiting for someone we already love so much and have so little information on how he is. Well, I googled his orphanage, to see if I could possibly find a picture of it. What I found, is that there is an American adoption agency that has volunteers there in his city! I emailed them, praying that they might know something about our son. Well, on Monday I got a call from a very sweet lady, who after verifying that we were indeed talking about the same boy, told me that YES, she did know him. In fact, she has HELD him! She was there last summer and she KNEW OUR BOY!

My heart was swelling as she told me how much their staff loves our little guy. She said that there was something very special about him, and that they had prayed over him while there at his orphanage, and have continued to since coming home. Not only that, but she contacted the staff there, and they took pictures and gave us updated measurements. So these pictures were actually taken THIS WEEK! Imagine that! What a blessing to a mom just dying for a shred of news. She told me she would email me the pictures, and I was a mess for the next little while as I waited for them.

It was worth it.

Are you ready to see the sweetest little smile in the world???

You can click on the picture to make it big! (;

I cannot look at these sweet pictures without smiling myself. He has my heart. I love every square inch of him! I just want to eat him up!!!!!

Just when I thought I was on top of the world with these brand new fun photos, I got another email from the same woman, who told me that one of her coworkers has VIDEO of our boy! Imagine that! I have contacted him and am anxiously awaiting seeing sweet Chu Chu in action.

I am so grateful and indebted to these wonderful people who have done so much for our son. Because of them, Chu Chu is in a situation where he is in a foster care setting much of the time. He has been loved and prayed over for some time now. It is such a good feeling to know that there are others out there who are watching over him when I cannot. What an amazing blessing from a loving Father in Heaven.

P.S. As far as names go, I think I have lost the "Thomas" battle. We are now toying with the name Alexander Chase Green. It has been so difficult to come up with something that everybody likes, and this may be it! We could call him either Alex or Xander, or most likely, both. I personally like Xander, as it would fit with Taylor and Parker, and I think it's unique and fun! Also, his Chinese name, Xu Chu, and American name would be kind of similar-- Xu Chu and Xander Chase. I love Alex too. What do you think? (:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day

We had a good Mother's Day:) Christi got breakfast in bed-eggs, bacon, lemon poppy seed muffins, and orange juice. She got the usual conglomeration of homemade kid presents. I won some points with my gift this year. About six years ago, Christi vacuumed up her wedding ring. We were able to get it out of the vacuum bag, but it had been severely disfigured. Since then, Christi has purchased a $7.00 crummy junk ring at Walmart about every 2 months. These rings turned green or brown or some other ugly color long before she would replace them. (Side note: One time Christi was talking to a friend while wearing one of her discolored Walmart rings. The friend glanced at Christi's hand and commented-Wow! A two-tone wedding ring! How cool! We laughed at the prestige to be found with this dime-store special:) Anyway, for Mother's Day I secretly took her original wedding ring to a jeweler and had it fixed. She is still smiling to have a real ring on her finger. I copped out with a Stouffer's lasagna for dinner, but it was delicious. I did make one of Christi's favorite desserts: Thai sticky rice with Mangos. The sticky rice is sweetened with coconut milk. It's delicious! So Mother's Day was good.

On Mother's Day morning, the ring got us into some conversations with the kids about our dating life. They were fascinated! It was so cute. They were particularly drawn to three stories:

1. Our first kiss. Christi and I hadn't technically been on a date yet. We were both counselors for a youth camp at Brigham Young University called Especially for Youth. (It is an AWESOME program, if you ever get a chance to send your teenage kids!) As a counselor you have virtually no free time during the week. It's a blast and you get to meet a lot of other college kids who are also counselors, but you have no unstructured time to just hang out. Saturday night is the only night you can do your own thing. So one Saturday night, a bunch of us decided to go to a country dance. Christi and I had flirted some, but nothing serious. (Besides, she had just volunteered to serve a year-and-a-half long mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so I didn't figure there was much use in my pursuing anything with her.) Whenever we discuss this particular dance, Christi reminds me that I didn't ask her to slow dance even once. We danced a few fast dances, but nothing slow. I did, however, ask Christi's close friend to slow dance a couple of times. Oops! Another friend drove us back to BYU campus, where all of the counselors were staying in the dorms. During the ride, Christi and I got talking some more and I started becoming more and more interested in this attractive, fun girl. So when we got back on campus, I chivalrously offered to walk her back to her dorm. Before she went inside, we sat outside and talked. And talked. And talked. And I realized what a gem Christianne truly was and is. So at one point I said to her: "I'll bet you a quarter I can kiss you without touching your lips." Christi, thinking "How cute, he's going to kiss me on the cheek," said "OK." I told her to close her eyes. She complied, and I planted a kiss right on her lips. I said "I lose. Here's your quarter.:)" She was pretty surprised, but let's just say she earned a few bucks that night.:) The boys couldn't wipe the smiles off their faces as they heard this story, and are determined to use that line at some point in their future.

2. Christi's decision to marry me (vs. her high-school sweetheart). Christi had dated a really great guy all through high school and had fallen in love with him. The two of them (and most of their small town) were sure that they would get married after he returned from serving his two-year mission. I met Christi the last week of June, 1997. Her high school sweetheart was coming home from his mission in September of 1997. Even with limited math skills, I was able to see that I basically had 2 months to make this girl fall in love with me and forget him. Man, I did everything I could to win her over. I gave her so many flowers (including one week where she received some every day). I called her. I sang to her. I played guitar for her. But in spite of my best efforts and her growing feelings for me, she made it very clear that I was NOT to propose to her until after her missionary returned. YEAH, RIGHT!!! Here's the girl of my dreams, ("She's almost perfect" my future mother-in-law informed me the first time I was introduced to Christi's family-and she is!) and she expects me to sit around and wait for this other guy to come back and remind her of why she loved him??? NO WAY! I proposed to Christi the night before her missionary returned from Italy. (I planned a GREAT proposal date, if I do say myself, but that's a story for another entry.) Anyway, toward the end of a perfect evening, I got down on one knee, and, with my hand shaking visibly, held out the ring and asked, "Sweetheart, will you marry me?" Her response? "Did you ask my dad?" ??? Did you ask my dad??? Fortunately, I was able to answer, "Yes." (Yet another story. Yes, I had asked her dad. I had driven the 2 hours to Ferron, UT. Her family already knew that I had chronic problems with punctuality. I had called Dean ahead of time and asked if I could come and talk to him. I'm sure he knew what was coming. He agreed to meet me at the end of his work day outside the school where he teaches. So, as usual, I had timed things to the last second. I would have been on time if there had been no complications. I really would have! To get to Christi's home town, you have to drive through a 60-mile long canyon which for the most part is one lane in each direction. This is the truth: A semi-truck had crashed in the canyon, spilling huge amounts of re-bar all over the highway. Traffic was stopped for a long time. I was terribly late to an appointment to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. Not only that, but there was no way to call and let him know. There was also nothing for him to do but wait for me. We had agreed to meet outside the school. So when I finally showed up at least an hour late, poor Dean was still sitting sitting on the curb in the hot summer sun, waiting for me. It's a wonder he didn't just scowl and say "Get out of here and leave my daughter alone!" Instead, he completely cemented himself in the position of the world's most wonderful father-in-law (no offense Dad, you're awesome too.:). We went into the school, sat down at a couple of students' desks, and talked for a little while. Small talk at first, then, the question. "Dean, I would like to ask for your permission to ask your daughter to marry me." "Got it!" he instantly replied. No questions about how I was going to support his daughter. No lectures about how I had better treat her perfectly. He knew me well enough by then to know he would say yes. And instead of making me sweat it out, he made me feel like he was lucky to have me for a son-in-law. (And believe me, I'm sure he had MANY concerns and questions about my capabilities. I really can't express in words how grateful I am for Dean and LaRita. They have been amazing to me. I hope I can be the same for my kids-in-law.) So I answered Christi: "Yes, I asked your dad." She put the ring on that night, but never did say yes. She also told me she was going to the airport with her missionary's family the next day to pick him up. She took the ring off to do that. This was, of course, very fair, given that I had proposed when she had prohibited me from doing so. She spent a rough next couple of days deciding what she was going to do. Then she told a very disheartened young man that she had decided to marry me. After relating this story, our kids were fascinated by the concept that it had been such a hard choice at the time. They kept asking things like "Are you glad you married dad?" "Did you make the right choice?" "Did your missionary marry someone else?" She answered yes to all of them. What a lucky guy I am!!!

3. Christi got asked out on a date after we were married with four kids. She was at Walmart in Tennessee with just Jessica. With still years to go before I would fix her wedding ring, her hand was bare. She noticed that a particular guy always seemed to be near, no matter what part of the store she was in. At one point, Christi asked a Walmart employee where she could find a particular tool that I had asked her to purchase. The employee wasn't sure where or what the tool was. Enter the date-asker. The guy who was always near approached Christi and helped her find what she needed. Then he somewhat awkwardly said: "You may have noticed me nearby today. I've been trying to get up the guts to ask you something. I know it's a bit strange since you don't know me, but I was wondering if you would like to have dinner sometime." Christi was very flattered! She answered "Oh, that's so sweet of you, but I'm married with three more kids at home!" The guy was embarrassed, but it wasn't too bad. When we told the kids this story, they, the boys in particular, were so worried about this guy. They kept asking, "Do you think he found someone to marry?" "Do you think he's married now?" Do you think he's happy?" They asked these questions over and over during the course of the day. Their empathy and concern was so cute:)

Well, this entry turned out much longer than I had anticipated. But the bottom line? I'm married to the most wonderful girl and the best mother in the world and we have the most wonderful kids in the world. (Isn't it great that for me they absolutely are the best, and yet for you, your family is the best? God is good!)