Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We're here!

It was a long, but mostly uneventful trip! Our first flight was delayed because the President came to visit MN and, you know, the arrival and departure of Airforce One stops all movement at the airport, so we had to with for that. Luckily we had plenty of layover time in Chicago. Our other two flights were right on time. Neither Axel or I slept on the transatlantic flight.

As usual, I hit the ground running! We got off the plane, dropped our luggage off at our apartment, then I spent 3 hours in the dentist chair, staring the work to repair the damage done to my teeth a few weeks ago. My friend Zoran does amazing dental work, for 1/4 the price I would pay in the US. Hoping to have it all completed by Monday night.

Sunday we have a *very* special day planned that I can't wait to tell you about.

Axel and I have now been awake for 32+ hours. We're finally sitting down to some real food then headed to bed. I'm hoping that since it's 9:30 at night we *might* be able to sleep the whole night. One can hope, right???

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

And here we go!

Every stitch of laundry is done. 
The beds have clean linens.
Four different schools have everything they might need while I'm gone.
Kids clothes set out for an entire week.
Rides have been arranged.
Meds have been dispensed for several weeks.
Groceries have been purchased.
Bus schedules posted.
Lunch menu posted.
Dogs bathed and groomed.
Boys have gotten haircuts.
Laundry room (family closet) reorganized. 
Spare bedroom cleaned out for "the help". (Thanks Noah!)
Van is cleaned out.
Car seat might get installed.
Prescriptions are filled.
Bags are packed. 
Every kid hugged.
In 5 more days we'll meet Audrey! 

Here we go!!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fully Funded and a Promise Kept

YOU DID IT!!! You have each played a HUGE role in helping us get J home! Whether you contributed $5, $10, $100 or more, each of you helped and each dollar was crucial. So, too were the prayers I know many of you were offering up.


So, I know why you're really here. You're here because I promised you a name if we reached our fundraising goal.

So let me go back to our names.

Dean's only son's name is Aaron. When we decided to adopt, our last child left at home was Angela.
During Axel's adoption we debated long and hard about names. His birth name is not one that would ever get pronounced correctly here in the US, and not even Dean or I could say it. We both like old names, and names that you don't hear every day. And so we went with Axel, which is my grandfather's name.

Our next adoption moved very fast. Two days before I left we were still discussing names. Dean was all "No more A names." Another family was in country at the time adopting their son and the timing was just right for his life to literally be saved. (he was dying at the time.)  I was looking up a scripture verse about happiness, and the first one I found was Genesis 30:13, which reads, "Then Leah said, "How happy I am! The women will call me happy."  so she named him Asher."

I turned to Dean who was sitting across the room. "How about Asher?"

"I like that!" he said. Which was good, since God pretty much decided it for us!

Along came our 3rd adoption. I don't even know how many names we discussed, and they started with all different letters, but the name we both kept coming back to was Abel. And then one night I was in my prayer closet...I mean the shower...when God very clearly gave me a message about our soon-to-be son. "This will not be easy. It will be the hardest thing you have ever done. This child is very capable but you will have to find him. He is very ABLE." I didn't say anything to anyone except Dean. The next day on my blog a very good friend of mine said, "My husband said his name is Abel."

So here we are. A girl. But now we have 5 A names in a row, so to give J a name starting with anything else would just be weird at this point. Because 5 A names is not weird, right? Certainly 6 won't be.

Do we ever say the wrong name? Oh, only 100 times a day. But I did the same when I had five kids at home who had very different names. One time the baby was crying and the boys were fighting and the dog was barking and the phone was ringing. "Ro...No...T..Br...Who ever is BARKING STOP IT!" So it happens, no matter what the names are.

We did know, however, that we didn't want an A name with a short /a/ sound (as in apple) or /A/ sound, as in airplane.

So, start with A
Old name
No /a/ sound
No /A/ sound

This was no easy task to name this child!

We tried out name after name. Nothing was right.

Then one day a friend was talking about a family member. I think it was her aunt. I really don't remember, because when she said her name it hit me in the heart. I texted Dean the name and nothing else. No question. No explanation. Just the name.  He called me seconds later. "I love it!"

That night at dinner we talked about the name with the kids. Angela can say it without any problem. Axel is very close to being able to say it, and Asher and Abel can sign it. It feels right. Still, if I meet her and it doesn't feel right, nothing is written in stone.

And so, our old, uncommon, non "A" sounding name is.....


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Traveling Phenomenon

Whenever I travel, weird stuff happens.

In 2010, at the end of my very first trip, I sat in a hotel restaurant in Bulgaria, enjoying my breakfast while watching  the BBC news on the big flatscreen mounted on the wall. The scroller at the bottom of the screen caught my eye. "European airspace closed. Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupts in Iceland."

I turned to my travel companion. "I didn't do well with geography in school. Where is Iceland? Is it far away from here?" She assured me it was. I turned back to the TV. "Thousands of flights canceled leaving travelers stranded in Europe." We were supposed to leave the next day and were flying through Frankfurt. We returned to our hotel room and turned on the world news.

And then we panicked.

I was lucky enough to spend an entire extra week in Bulgaria, thanks to that volcano. People here at home helped me buy new tickets home, which were three times the normal rate because the airlines were all price gouging. I flew EAST, through Russia, Seoul, and all the way around the world, to get home.

Six months later I returned to Serbia to adopt Axel. Just days before I was to leave for Kragujevac, a 5.3 earthquake hit the neighboring city of Kraljavo. It was felt as far away as the capital city of Belgrade.

Four months later I returned to Serbia again, this time to give a deposition and also participate in a hearing/vision/dental screening clinic in Kostanjica, Croatia. I carried with me a duffle bag full of donated toothbrushes, which happened to to have little blinking lights on them. I arrived at the Nikola Tesla airport and waited for my bag to come out of the baggage claim tunnel. Its a huge, neon green duffle bag. Hard to miss. Only this time it came out of the thingy with bright yellow security tape wrapped around and around it. I casually lifted the bag down and noticed the flashing lights were visible through the zipper. Oh good grief! I walked casually but with authority, dragging my bag out of the customs area when a customs agent caught my eye. She stood among a group of several other agents. "Madam. Won't you please bring that lovely bag over to us so we can have a look inside?"

That was almost three years ago. I'm pretty sure my toothbrushes are still sitting in the customs holding area, however I'm also sure there are a few customs agents whose kids get new toothbrushes more frequently than is typical.

Then there was the time I landed in Belgrade and the pilot had trouble parking the plane. That was fun, watching all of the passengers use momentum to rock the plane so it would roll over a speed bump on the tarmac. Knowing that pilot had just flown the plane, in the air, was a bit unnerving. I was glad to be on the ground!

Every trip seems to have its own little thing. So? What will happen on this trip? Please God? One uneventful trip would be really nice. Thanks.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Just 9 days left!

We're down to just nine days before I leave.

J's bag has been packed for a week or so. This weekend I got the guest bedroom straightened out. It had become a bit of a catch-all room. Sometimes Noah and/or Tyler hang out here on the weekends and were having to climb around all that stuff to get to the bed. LOL While I'm gone Noah will be staying here to help with the bus schedule so it was time to get that mess cleaned up! I'm sure he'll appreciate it.

Now I'm working in the girls' bedroom. Last weekend Angela and got J's bed ready and this afternoon I started on the closet. Tomorrow that will be done and the household preparations will be complete!

There is only one weekend left! Next weekend will be dedicated to getting all the dogs bathed and groomed. They *must* be done before I leave because 1) their coats are way too long right now and 2) the melt will start and they will end up a wet matted mess of hair and be absolutely miserable if I don't get them cut down. I do all my own grooming so thankfully I don't have to spend any money to do it, just time! The two big dogs take me about 3 hours each and Roman takes about an hour.  After that its last-minute errands and packing!

Nine days! Only NINE DAYS!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


That's right! Just fourteen more days for us to be sitting on a plane bound for Serbia to meet our girl! I can't even begin to explain to you how excited we are. Preparations for us to be gone are almost complete with just lots of last-minute things to do. 

So many of you have joined hands with us, both in real life and across the internet to help us. You've watched our family grow. You've watched our kids come to us as scared, wild, children and learn to become part of a family. Our family. You've watched Dean and I grow in our ability to parent kids from tough places. And now, adding J to our family will close this chapter of our lives. Our family will be complete. Fourteen days and we are just $1150 short of being fully funded! We're so very close! If you would like to help us bring J home, there is a link to our Gofundme page below. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Do you know what I just did?

I just packed J's suitcase.

Yes. Yes I did.

Why when there are 20 days to go?

Because Abel and I were working in the laundry room, and there were all J's clothes on her shelves that  I organized last weekend.  How would I ever decide what to pack for her? How would I choose?  I figured I might as well get it figured out while I was  standing there waiting for the dryer. And so, her suitcase is packed!

And yes, you read that correctly. 20 days.