Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What's the Plan?

The new house is coming along! Our neighbor's home is framed and the beautiful windows went in last week. It is so exciting to see it take shape!  The framers will be diving in on our house as soon as spring decides to stop teasing us and throwing in extra snow and sleet. I'm so ready to be able to see the floor plan we chose come to life. I've been staring at the picture of it for so long and now that it's time to see it go up I'm getting nervous! What if it doesn't feel like I thought it would? Will there be surprises in the layout that I didn't foresee not liking? Will it feel too small? Too big and overwhelming? AHH!!!

Chosing  plan is a tricky process. There are SO MANY things to take into consideration. Here were some "dream" items that we checked each plan we look at against:
  • Two living spaces (living room and family room)
  • At least 5 bedrooms
  • An office for Derek
  • 3 car garage
  • Small craft space for me
  • Dining room separarate from an eat-in kitchen
  • Large mud room/laundry space
  • Master bedroom on the main floor
  • Front porch with "curb appeal"
Looking at houseplans can make you go crazy. You can get on a website with 20,000 plans and think, "Maybe just one more click and the "perfect" houseplan will show up." : )  I filled a Pinterest board with house plans. I pulled out plans from the hundreds of homes my dad and Derek have built over the years. I went to the Parade of Homes.

Just a fraction of the blueprints always piled in various locations of my home.

My pinterest board of dream homes.
It seemed like through it all there were two plans that always stood out. And then, when we really, really started thinking about budget, our lifestyle and what we felt God had planned for our family in this home, one plan won out.  So here goes...
The front elevation. The colors/stone, etc are just artist rendering. We're not 100% sure on those decisions yet....
Elevation of Craftsman   House Plan 98633

This is the second floor. These bedrooms will be for the kiddos.
 Second Floor Plan of Craftsman   House Plan 98633
The main floor....
 First Floor Plan of Craftsman   House Plan 98633
 And there's a basement too. Most plans you order on-line don't come with a finished basement floor plan. So, we went with the footprint left by the main floor and my talented husband drew up a couple options for us and we picked one from that. It will have a family room, wet bar, two more bedrooms and a bath. One of the bedrooms will be for Derek's office and one will be set up as our foster care room.
Does it have everything off of that silly list earlier? Of course not. Are there things I wish could have fit in (goodbye craft room and formal dining)? Always. But it seems right for us. I love that even though we don't have the separate formal dining the kitchen dining area is HUGE. I love that the kids will grow and live and play with their rooms all together. I love that half-way up the stairway is a beautiful window with a window seat and book shelves on either side.
We've made several tweaks that aren't on this plan. That closet in the laundry room I axed and am opting for that whole diagonal wall to be a bench/cubbies/hooks for the plethora of book bags, shoes, jackets and coats that 5 kids produce. We've also squared off the kitchen all the way out so that diagonal cutting into the garage is now a regular corner and my kitchen counter will be longer. We've also rearranged the kids bathroom upstairs to get a pocket door to the toilet/tub area for when there are several kids getting ready for school in the morning and to get double sinks in there.
It's been so fun to think about moving and living in this space and how we can create an environment that best fits our needs and can help us in our desire to entertain others and use our home as a tool to show others God's love and provision. We can't wait for the extra space to continue to open our home up as God brings people into our lives.
Come on framers!! I can't wait to see this plan come to life!! Stay tuned for more!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Life's Mysteries...

How can three little girls be nicely playing around the yard but the second you pull out your Bible..'re surrounded?

How can two sisters fight loudly all afternoon and then when you come around the corner... remember the bonds of sister-hood always overpower any struggle over a silly toy?

How can you lament in the day about your "baby" being too grown up and then when you check on her before bed... realize just how much of your sweet baby she still is?

How can a baby doll stroller....
...provide such joy?

How can a scary encounter with the road...
...remind you just how lucky you are for your child's health and the comfort of her daddy's arms?

How can a bathtub full of glow bracelets and the lights off... an hour of uninterrupted play?

How can a little girl in a flapper dress...
...make you wish you had lived in the 1920's so much?

How can two kids from such different lives.... brought together as though they've been siblings forever?

How can I not be the least bit interested in a basketball game on TV...
...but when it means moving it outside with great friends and great food I'm suddently a HUGE basketball fan?   : )

Keep me posted if you come up with any answers!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What's Next?

I'm getting a lot of questions about what's next for us and the journey we're on to bring our son home. Here's a breakdown of what we have ahead of us:

Democratic-republic-congo map
  • Our case is being presented to the local court for approval. Court is usually scheduled within 1-3 months. Parents are not required to be in court.
  • Following court approval, there is a 30 day appeal period before the Certificate of Non Appeal is issued. When the CNA is issued, the case then is reviewed for approval by the Ministry.
  • Once all the adoption documents are complete, the next step is to file the I600 with USCIS. The time-frame to get I600 approved varies, but is currently estimated to be 3 weeks to 2 months.
  • When the I600 has been approved by USCIS, we will then request an appointment from the Embassy. All documents are submitted to the Embassy for Visa processing. The visa is issued typically within 2-4 weeks, and in rare cases has taken several weeks.
  • The final step is to obtain a letter from Congolese Emigration (DGM) for the child to leave the country. This process can take several days to a couple of weeks.
  • Derek and I are both planning on going to the DRC to go claim our son. We will be in the capital of Kinshasa (see it there on the map?) We will be there 10-14 days and will stay at convent near the orphanage. We will bond with our sweet son, try to piece together what we can of our son's past and gather clues for him as he grows here in the US so that we can share with him his culture and homeland.
  • Unfortunately, the DRC is not a particularly stable country so we will not do much travel/sightseeing if any at all. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a vast country in Central Africa. Its infrastructure has been damaged due to years of dictatorship, civil war and ethnic conflicts.  We will stick close to our room at the convent and the orphanage. Our trip will not be a vacation where we also end up with our son. It will be a rescue mission to ransom a little boy with an uncertain future in an unsafe country. Our primary goal is one less orphan. One less hurting child.


Sometimes the process seems more overwhelming to me now than when we began. I look at that list of what is left to be done and I start to feel stress and panic. I'm ashamed at how easy it is for me to forget how far God has brought us and to rest in his grace and faithfulness. I have moments of struggle to remember that He who has called us to this will indeed see us through. Thankfully when I am weak, He is strong and he is still writing this story. Pray for us, the Congolese government and our son!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Switching Seasons

It was warm enough recently to put some short sleeves on the girls.
B was quite confused by them. She spent a lot of the morning trying to pull them down.


Silly girl. She better get used to them soon because I'm so over long sleeves and jackets!
Come on spring!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Little Girls

Little girls are silly.
A likes to come up and give this face.
She pulls her eyebrows close together, tilts her head down and kinda glares up at you.

Then, she breaks and smiles at how funny she is.  

She's really pretty proud of herself.  

And then I find her at the bottom of a pile of sisters.
Being the youngest is hard-knock life.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Easter Blessings

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time. ~Martin Luther

Our Easter week started with our own Easter miracle.
When a two year old dumps an ENTIRE carton of eggs in your cart and NOT ONE breaks,
you praise God right there in the Target aisle. Seriously. 

We made these yummy bird nests to give to family and neighbors.
Somehow Taryn remembered that last year I hid her lunch in easter eggs and asked to do it this year.
So, of course we had to do it this year! There were three kids doing it so I put scraps of paper in the bottom
of three egg cartons so each kid would just hunt out one of each color egg.

Each egg had something different in it....cheese cubes, grapes, fruit snacks, etc.

She was happy.

My sweet Easter blessings. B was not the least bit interested in taking a picture when a fun basket was nearby.

Oh my, I love them.

Sometimes toddlers have fantastic meltdowns even on Easter.

Nothing a new basket at Nana and Papa's house can't fix!

Getting a little help from great-grandpa.

B was super excited each time she found an egg.
Easter was a gorgeous, fun-filled family day. I loved it and I loved the opportunity to intentionally remember Christ's incredible gift.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. ~ 1 Peter 1:3