Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This is a test...

... to see if I can post to the blog via my cell phone. I'm not sure how to get our Christmas photos on here (ba-lieve me, there are lots!) but will try that when we are back at home. We pray you had a blessed day celebrating our Lord's birth. I'll see you here soon with the scoop!


Friday, December 19, 2008

House Update

Well folks...

The rent-to-own situation is a no go.

The family that was interested became quickly disinterested when they discovered what purchasing a home truly entails. They decided that renting was the best option for them and have gone another direction.

Yes, we are disappointed. We thought this was going to be our miracle and the removal of our financial burden. We are just hanging on (really hanging on, sometimes by a thread...) that God has a bigger and better miracle in mind.

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3

Monday, December 8, 2008

We may have news about our house...

There is a family in Richmond who is interested in our house. Yipee!

They want to know if we would consider a rent-to-own. We had been hoping for an outright sale, but in this housing market, this may be the answer the Lord is providing for us.

Will you please join us in prayer for God's will in this situation? He knows we want to pay down debt, to be good stewards of the resources He has given us, and our desire to expand our family. We know He has a reason for everything and teaches us valuable lessons along the way. (I'm pretty sure "Patience / Waiting" is still one of 'em - ugh! ;-) ) I keep reminding myself that His plan is way better than our plan. Above all else, we want to honor Christ.

We'll let you know if anything comes of this rental / sale.

And thanks for praying, friends.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Noelle's Referral - One Year Ago Today

What an angelic little face! We just couldn't stop staring at this photo on the computer screen. That same weekend we ordered dozens of prints from Walmart of the 3 referral photos. This one we printed on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet and hung it up in our bedroom. Oh, those beautiful, somewhat sad eyes, those round cheeks, that thick hair-- Ahhh - our baby!

One year ago today we saw our daughter's precious face for the very first time. What a dream come true! I love reliving that day in my mind. I love telling others just how we felt when The Phone Call from our adoption agency came through, and when we rushed home to check the email that contained the photos of Lu Jia Zhen, our long awaited daughter. I feel like crying, shouting, laughing and jumping - all over again! :)

If you'd like to reminisce with us, click on the links below to read about that special day:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Noelle (and Mommy's) BIG DAY

(Photos courtesy of Aleph Bet Director, Shayna Howard)

Today was a really big day for Noelle...and for me.

Noelle had her first day of preschool.

Our kiddo is now the newest member of Aleph Bet Children's Center part-time preschool program. It is a wonderful Jewish school with an awesome director and caring teachers and it just happens to be literally *right next door* to the church my husband pastors.

Yes, I know it may seem like an odd move to some out there, but to our family, today was a huge blessing and answer to prayer.

As you read my post from Nov. 20, you know that I've had my struggles recently. Learning to be a mom while living far from everything safe and familiar had been taking it's toll on me-- and I didn't like the person I was becoming. I have been cranky, exhausted and an emotional wreck. My house has been in a constant state of disarray. I couldn't even seem to find the strength to hang pictures or do other things that would make the parsonage feel like home. I was avoiding calls and emails and could hardly wait until Noelle's nap time so I could take one too. My family and friends began to be concerned. I was concerned. Something had to give.

Through holding tightly to Jesus and leaning on the encouraging prayers of my loved ones, I am starting to find some solutions. Eric and I are working on finding more balance in our home life. I finally went to see the doc for a check-up. (He put me on the, um, "pill" to, er, regulate my, uh, "cycle" and hormone levels.)(sorry guys!) I am beginning to make improvements in my nutritional intake (boy, that sweet tooth is gonna be hard to break), and I started filling out an application to the local YMCA for a regular work-out program (oh me achin' back!).

Sending Noelle to a 2 day preschool program is another one of these solutions. It gives Noelle, an extremely active and inquisitive child, the opportunity to socialize with kids her age. And it gives mom-me the chance to run errands, do chores and...breathe.

Eric and I had talked and prayed about this possibility for many weeks, but did not see a way to fit it in our budget. God bless my sweet parents-- they offered to help us pay for Noelle to attend a preschool program. Wow oh wow!! And then the day we went visiting schools, Aleph Bet Children's Center (a highly recommended school and very difficult to get in to) just happened to have one opening in the Tues / Thurs 2-year-old classroom. Wow oh wow oh wow!! We met with the director and teachers on several occasions, Noelle attend a "practice" day with mom...and we signed her up.

Today, lunch box and blanket in hand, our family of three arrived at Noelle's new school. Eric kissed his angel good-bye and walked across the yard to work, and a nervous mommy and Noelle walked through the front door.

I stayed for 15 minutes or so to let Noelle get a feel for things, gave my baby a hug and kiss, then slipped out the door when she was happily engaged cooking in the play kitchen. At home, I worked like a fiend on long over-due projects, all the while praying for my little girl's happiness, safety and well being. Her class schedule is posted on our fridge, so I enjoyed keeping track of her throughout the day.

At 1:00pm my phone rang. It was Miss Meghan, Noelle's head teacher. She called to say that Noelle was doing fabulously. Praise Jesus! I almost bawled right there on the phone, I was so relieved.

Our scheduled pick-up time arrived and I drove to the school to collect my precious cargo. I wondered how she would greet me. She happened to playing outside on the playground at the time and when she saw me, she acknowledged my presence with a nod then went back to playing. Hey! Where's my hug? Where's my "Mommy, mommy, mommy!!!"

It's okay. Actually it's much better than okay. My little girl was safe, happy and having a ball. Again I breathed a thank you to my Heavenly Father-- for the preschool-answer-to-prayer, but mostly for my gift of a precious daughter.

When I finally persuaded Noelle to come home with me - first she had to hug her teachers and say 'bye' to her friends and Bob the Bunny (her stuffed animal for nap time) and Romeo the Bunny (the live school-pet rabbit that lives outside) - we headed back inside to collect the lunchbox and head home. But before I could get her out the door, Noelle ran back inside her classroom, pressed her face up to the glass door leading outside to the play ground, and proclaimed with a wave, "Bye-bye friends! I miss you!"



These last 3 photos show Noelle discovering how to tip over the red couch. She repeated this activity several times before the teachers told her that maybe this wasn't such a good idea...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Noelle: Creative Genius or Criminal Mastermind?

Happy December 1st everybody!

And it sure feels like winter around here-- feels more like Kansas City. As I am writing this, there are snowflakes falling in our yard. Granted, they're not sticking, but they are falling. Several schools even closed this morning due to accumulated snow on the ground in several areas (the higher elevations). I was really looking forward to the mild Tennessee winters, but it seems like Chattanooga is producing the cold weather to make us feel more at home in our new environment.

Okay. Noelle is a smart kid. I realize this is the statement of a typical proud first time parent. But remember, Eric and I can't take any credit, so I figure we get to say it more often than the quota allows. ;-) Anyhoo, I wanted to share a couple stories I think you will find amusing.

~A majority of our church services Noelle is in the nursery, but from time to time she stays with me in "big church" when she needs a little extra mommy-time. This past Sunday morning was one of those times. We were sitting on the back row, and Noelle was on my lap with a pen and the church bulletin. As Eric preached, she was contentedly "taking notes". I soon noticed, however, that she was marking on her paper with great concentration. I looked down to see a bulletin filled with tiny scribbles. She would make a mark, pause with the pen resting against her head, scan the type with her eyes, then scribble another mark.

I took a closer look. What I discovered was that Noelle was crossing out all the O's. That's right. Uppercase, lowercase, she found 'em. I thought I must be mistaken, so I grabbed the paper and double checked. But sure enough-- she had found just the O's.

I doubt I had nearly this level of concentration when I was her age. What's next? Word-finds, Sudoku, The New York Times crossword puzzle? All I could do was shake my head and grin widely.

~The other story occurred just this last Friday. We had family and friends over for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was the middle of the afternoon and people had gone their separate ways for a while to visit, chill, rest, make loud banging noises (that last one would be my husband and father working on some mannish project in the basement). Since Noelle was napping, I took the opportunity to rest for a little while before rejoining the family.

Well, the banging below our bedroom went on for some time, so I didn't really sleep. Nor did I hear anything else going on inside the house. And certainly not what was going on right across the hall in Noelle's room.

I got up to use to restroom or something - don't even remember now - and that's when I heard the voice of my daughter-who-should-be-sleeping. "Mommy!! Mommeeeeee!!" This did not sound like her typical "Mommy I want to get uuuuup!" voice. This had a bit more intensity. I decided to investigate.

When I opened the door to her room, I noticed right away that Noelle's bed was empty. A quick scan of the room revealed no toddler about. I immediately remembered that Eric had recently taught Noelle to climb in and out of her crib / toddler bed (UGH!). Maybe she was hiding under the bed? When I looked more closely, I observed a suspicious wet spot in the center of her mattress, but I also saw that the decorative pillow that usually sits on the rocking chair was now in her bed (it was wet, too - ick).

Noelle had definitely been out of bed, but where was she now?

Then I heard it again. That little voice calling for mommy. Oh no. My sweet angel was in her very off limits bathroom (used only when accompanied by an adult).

I opened the door with some dread and a burst of steam hit me in the face!

My face registered shock as I first observed Noelle standing butt naked on the bath mat, her pj top soaked with water and her head full of bubbly shampoo. Then I saw that the sink faucet was running and the shower was turned on almost full blast to the hot setting.

I stumbled around and stuttered, "Noelle Johnson! What on earth are you doing?!?"

I felt a mixture of relief that I had found my child, amazement at the brilliance of her escapade, frustration that she wasn't napping but had made a huge mess, and fear that she could have slipped, fallen and conked herself out, or severely scalded herself in the hot shower.

(Please note: Eric had cranked up the heat on our teeny water heater to better accommodate our Thanksgiving house guests - and had warned them of this fact. Noelle could have been seriously injured, but the Lord truly protected her when no one else was around.)

Her matter-of-fact answer to my question was, "Noelle want to take bath. Noelle hot in my diaper."

What? Oh. Okay.

"Where is your dirty diaper?"

"In the trash can."

Oh. Okay. Good place for it.

"Noelle Johnson!!! Do you realize you could have been hurt?!? Bumped your head, burned your skin on the hot water?!?"

I went on like this for some time, trying to make sure the message would stick in her head. My mom soon heard the commotion and came to check things out. So then Noelle's Grammy put her 2 cents in about the dangers of bathing without supervision. And of course I had to call to Eric to share the news of his daughter's latest adventure (and to also scold him again for teaching our daughter how to climb out of her crib)

After the hubbub died down, my blood pressure retreated to normal levels, and Noelle had a supervised bath, I started to chuckle a bit (when the kiddo wasn't looking, of course). What creativity!

Then I lifted the toilet seat. The stool was jammed mercilessly with toilet paper. A quick look confirmed that the roll was empty. I also noticed that water was splashed on the inside of every if little hands had been playing in the soggy paper... Eewww.

Good thing she was taking a bath.