Thursday, December 30, 2010

We're number SIX! We're number SIX!

letter S letter I cross (wrong)
Whew! I'm exhausted from waiting to find this out, but today we heard that FIVE Thai children from Holt were matched with FIVE waiting families, which means we've moved up from #11 to #6 on THE LIST! This is wonderful news! Each day since about the 10th I've casually looked through my inbox for an email with the update. Today we finally got it! We were hoping for a big number (and since the average is 3-6 children matched per quarter, 5 is on the higher end!) and have been stewing over "WhatItAllMeans" for the last several weeks.
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Here's our very amateur assessment and why we're excited:
First, and for us, the best news is the very high probability that we will get matched by June. September would just be agonizing. Being open to either gender and #6 on the list has every indication that we'll receive our child's name and picture by June.
Second, there's now a possibility of a March referral. Not probable, but possible. In fact, our contact at Holt checked in to see that our immigration paperwork was in, because she said we need to be ready in March, just in case. To be honest, this is dangerous to even think about, because then I'll be a total mess the last half of that month! See, if anyone in front of us on the list (#1-5) has specifically requested a girl, and there are several boys in the March referrals, then they may skip over them and match with us!
Third, if we are NOT matched in March (highly likely) then our odds for a boy or girl even up a little, which is also fun to think about.
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But in truth, it's ALL fun to think about. This process is so agonizingly slow at points that any news at all, especially something significant like today, brings me back to my excitement. It strengthens my resolve to be praying for our child, his birth mother, his foster family, his health, his security and his entrance into our family. It gets us fired up all over again to be reading, learning, researching, fundraising and preparing.
Godspeed my sweet baby!
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PS: If you are reading on December 31st and wish to squeeze in one last donation for tax purposes in 2010, check out THIS POST with directions to giving online for our adoption through Lifesong. It IS tax-deductable and easy. :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Obligatory Recap

Some years the holiday(s) just goes by so fast I don't take enough pics. This year we had a wonderful Christmas (which is really 2 very full days), full of happy tears, sad tears, stories, jokes, food, gifts, family and then even more food. I was very mindful this year--and perhaps a little melancholy--that our baby is so far from coming home. I'm not depressed about it, just bummed that we'll very likely spend even ANOTHER Christmas without him or her. But, fortunately, the excitement of celebrating with big families and little kids doesn't leave you much time for the blues. Here's an uncharacteristic bullet-point recap of some of our Christmas moments, in absolutely no order whatsoever.

-Grandpas wrestled. -Gifts made us laugh.
-Beautiful bows were hard to open.
-Pillow pets were the rage.
-Tutus ruled.
-Birdie got more pics taken than anyone else!
-Cousins were loved/smothered.
-Grandpas danced.
-Brothers helped.

-An ironic gift from two parents terrified of guns.
Early morning pictures did NOT flatter. (Can you tell which ONE member of the family was really excited to be awake? Presents opened and living room totally cleaned up by 7:10am. Yep.)
-Perfection in the imperfection.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Countdown #23--Magic at the Mill

We were given a couple of free tickets to a local even that I'd heard of, but never attended. There is a large museum downtown that is one of the longest running and oldest wool mills in the country. They also moved some historic houses on the site and have historically accurate furnishings, decor, etc. It's really an interesting and beautiful property, and at Christmas they deck the place out in lights and have square dancing, hot chocolate, Santa, etc. It was really a fun gig for our last night before the holiday craziness begins tomorrow.





Merry Christmas everyone!
Some of my favorite Christmas words:
"Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'til He appeared and the SOUL felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices...
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name!"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Countdown #20--handprints

Last night our countdown activity was to put our paint handprints on a canvas. We missed doing this last year (oversight), but we still have the one from 2008, and it's fun to see how their hands have grown. I tend to get a little, uh, particular in how I want the prints and where the kids can go when they have paint covering their hands! So I was overseeing the project and Trent picked up the camera. He just wasn't fast enough to get Sydney, since he was helping Carson wash the paint off of his hands and the places he had "accidentally" touched on his way to the bathroom sink.
But my control freak ways paid off this time! I love it.
Coincidentally, earlier in the day I let the kids paint and Sydney was already embracing the "paint on the hand" plan. She has so coated her skin there wasn't a flesh-colored speck to be found! As I was taking this pic, the brush in her right hand was coloring in her hair. :)


Monday, December 20, 2010

Adoption Fundraising Update

I know it's sometimes uncomfortable and awkward to talk about money, but talking and asking is the only way we'll get through this, so I want to keep you informed of our progress. Most people have been completely understanding, gracious and generous about the financial aspect of this, and you have no idea HOW MUCH THAT MEANS TO US!

We've had a mixed bag of news and information lately regarding our funding of this adoption. FYI, we have an $11,500 payment due at the referral of our child, we have been told to anticipate about $10,000 in travel expenses, and then another couple grand for legal fees once our child is home.

We have applied for adoption grant assistance from three different non-profit ministries, and we have plans for 2 more actual fundraisers. About a month ago, we found out that we received a "promised grant" from one of the smaller organizations. YEAH! Upon the referral of our child (hopefully in June) we will receive that grant. The money can go straight towards our agency to make a dent in the referral payment, or it can be used towards travel expenses. We are overwhelmed with gratitude!

Last week we got some bad news. We found out that there was not enough funds for our family to receive a "matching grant" from Lifesong for Orphans. To be honest, this was extremely disappointing. It has been our intention all along to send out fundraising letters in January, and we know from experience how motivating it is for friends and family to give, knowing that every dollar they give will be matched! I was hoping that would add another couple thousand dollars, but it was not meant to be.

However, Lifesong for Orphans (a name you will see often over the next couple of months on this blog!) is committed to helping families pursue God's will of caring for orphans through adoption, and although they cannot match funds, they are coming alongside of us as our fundraising partners. They have set up a fund in our name and our friends and family can make TAX DEDUCTABLE donations to their ministry in our name, starting right now. 100% of the monies donated goes directly to our family's fund--none is taken out for administrative costs. That fund can be used to cover any adoption related expenses (with proper documentation!) and also can be used to make payments directly to our agency.

Today I received some more disappointing news. Our local Applebee's restaurant has provided the venue for a pancake breakfast fundraiser for some other families in our church. They were to raise money for large medical payments or health crises. I inquired about doing one for our adoption fund, and the request was denied. The manager checked with the regional authorities and this cause did not fit their community outreach goals. :(

But we do plan to do another garage sale in June. I can't imagine it will be as lucrative as the last garage sale, but we're going to give it a shot.

Also, this week President Obama extended the adoption tax credit through 2012, so that was great news for us! We highly anticipate having to take out a loan to pay for some of this, and then hopefully we can use the tax credit to pay most or all of it back.

Overall, we continue to stand encouraged. We have one more grant to hear about, from Show Hope. The Lord has guided and watched over and blessed our journey so far, we are determined to keep our eye on the finish line (which is really the STARTING line!) and continue towards bringing our baby home.

We're not officially starting our push, but we do know that if anyone is needing a bit of extra write-offs before year end, you can make those tax-deductable gifts through paypal at http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/donation.html and be sure to include that the purpose is Tompkins Adoption fund, #1664.

Thanks to all of you who are still walking this path with us, asking questions, praying, buying Christmas cards, giving encouragement and so many other ways you show your support. Thanks in advance for your patience when we do another big fundraising bonanza next month! :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I gotta SHING!

Sometimes, pictures just don't do justice to a moment. This is one of those times. For all of you who never see Sydney doing anything other than being coy and shy, I present to you her debut musical number: "I Gotta Sing." The first act is part duet, and is rather mellow:

video

Then Carson wanted to get in the picture with his own piece, as he is an aspiring singer/songwriter. It really was quite sweet, as the first words you missed were: "It's not about the presents..."

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But then the Diva took it to the next level as big Bro decided to work some magic behind the camera. He's working in directing her music video.

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And the finale is, like many finales, more screaming and less singing. It was explosive and brought the audience to their feet.

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Be looking for her on Broadway in approximately 19 years.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Countdown #14: Fancy Dinner

Today's Christmas countdown activity was for us to have a "Fancy Dinner" where we all dress up and have candles and sparkling cider. Carson was delightfully involved and excited about this all afternoon. Sydney, too, was getting in on the action, especially since she got a new princess dress from Abby today. She was changing back and forth between her two dresses until the last minute. Carson and I planned a menu (Spaghetti, french bread and veggies--pretty gourmet!) and I even put on a dress and heels! He wore a tie and made placecard holders. I found a wonderful hand-me-down tablecloth that has some appropriate stains perfect for this occasion. We were all anxious for Daddy to come home, when we dimmed the lights and welcomed him to the "Spaghetti and Meatball Cafe." It was a great little memory of our countdown 2010!
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This is kind of dark but here's a little video. That's Sydney hollering "cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese" throughout the whole video, waiting for me to take her picture.
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Classy Shepherd

I remember when Carson was born I literally thought ahead to his first preschool program and how fun it would be. Well, we were out of town last year, so here he is 5 years old and this was his first one! We got there 40 minutes early to get good seats, and the way the seats were set up in the gym, we were on the end of row 3 and the people in front of us had scooted towards the middle, so things were shaping up with a big open space in front of me--great view of the stage!
THEN, two minutes before the program started, a group of about 30 people walked in and there was not very many seats left. So the "ushers" (who were some high school kids with good intentions, I'm sure) brought in a ton of chairs and crammed them smack-dab in front of us. We were no longer on the end and no longer could see the stage. My inner sense of justice was waging war with my (not as strong) inner sense of compassion and mercy. I had done everything right to get what I want and now these late-comers were BLOCKING MY VIEW!
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So I abandoned all hopes of being the cool, calm, collected parent (and my husband's hopes of his wife keeping things into perspective) and walked to the front row, crawled on my hands and knees and sat down like the obsessive stage mother we all hate. Well, turns out I didn't crawl far ENOUGH, and when Carson's group came out, an adorable little angel's halo was still blocking him from me and my camera! I had to keep my lense pointed until our angel moved her head for a sneeze or sniff and then: CLICK!
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I don't know if you remember before he had hair, but our sweet little boy has got some serious personality in his ears. I get a chuckle whenever he wears a headband or headpiece of any kind that tucks behind his ears, b/c it reminds me of those early days:
I'm bummed that this one is a little blurry. You can see Carson was determined that people know he was wearing a tie. He brought it OUTSIDE of his shepherd costume. Maybe it's the issues of GQ I've been getting him.
Hee hee! So cute. (Sidenote: the precious little cow on his right? She's a Holt baby. :))
Here's a quick vid of the kids screami---er, "singing" Go Tell It On the Mountain.
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And not to be left out, the next day I heard Sydney singing away, sitting on a box that had come in the mail. She sings around the house way more than Carson ever has. Somewhere in there I'm pretty sure she's singing about "My Daddy and Baby Kaitlyn," but mostly it's just Ooooooh and eeeeeeee.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

More pics

We are, like most people this time of year, feeling really busy! I've been making lots of Christmas cards, which is really fun for me and a fundraiser for our adoption! Check out the link on the right if you are interested. So, blogging hasn't felt like a priority. But I thought I would post a few pics from our shoot in case you didn't go look through the entire gallery, which I'm sure only a few of you did!
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I KNOW, right? This was one of the first ones I saw and I love, love, love it. This is how I want to remember this time of life. When this was taken, they were literally knocking me over, but I just had to laugh. (Plus, I knew if I snapped the picture would be bad and the kids' mood would sour.)

She finally loosened up as our hour came to a close. This was one of the last pictures taken.
And this one pretty much speaks for itself.





Friday, December 03, 2010

My Christmas Miracle

You gotta understand, I have been wanting professional family photos for YEARS. We had some done when Carson was 10 months old. Since then we've burdened family members and friends to have mini-shoots, but the lighting was never perfect, and the subjects were far from cooperative. We've had a few gems (like the one at the top of this blog, taken by my bro), but as we were sending in family pictures for our adoption paperwork, I realized I had nothing recent that I liked. I've seen a few up-and-coming photographers, some friends on Facebook, that do really great work, but a lot of them require you to order all or most of your prints through them. I like to have a digital copy of my very own. (Control freak? Perhaps.)
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Then I saw some great family shots of some friends of ours. I went to their photographer's web site and she was having a special that included 15 jpgs with print permission as part of the package. That was the one! She admitted it was a one-time deal and she would probably never be offering it again. But that's what I had been waiting for, so we made arrangements.
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I was stressed and anxious about the weather, the clothing, the hygeine, the facial expressions, the behavior--I SO wanted them to turn out after all the waiting! Bottom line? I'm a happy girl. This is my Christmas miracle:

The password is "tompkins2010"

http://www.galleries.freshpicd.com/Other/Tompkins-Family/14878554_aLpSf/#1110521628_8pNCD

Thursday, December 02, 2010

0 for 1

So yesterday was the first day of our countdown. It was to make Caramel Apple Balls. I saw this on some crafty blog, can't remember which one, and it looks SO fun and SO yummy. Well...let's just say it was fun, and kind of yummy, but basically the end result was a big DUD.
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But how cute is this, despite the messy kitchen? So the concept is: melt a bunch of caramels in a saucepan, use a melon baller to scoop out apples in a circle or, more like 2/3 circle. Pat them dry with a paper towel, put skewer in, dip in caramel--DELISH, right?! And so much easier to eat than an entire caramel apple.
And for a while, I had my hopes up. Not too bad. But then I read on someone's site they said they should be refrigerated immediately. Well, our fridge does not have any 15 inch tall shelf openings, so we needed to change our plan...
So we went horizontal. And to be honest, the ones that went into the fridge did hold up the longest. But, by 9pm, almost ALL the caramel had slipped right off the apples, and it was basically apple balls with skewers sitting in a pool of caramel. :( Boo! Not sure if it was that the caramel was too cheap, that we didn't refrigerate quickly enough, long enough, was the caramel too hot, too cool? Not sure.
But as with MOST family activities, the joy is in the journey! And this kid had some fun on this little journey. He didn't even notice when he woke up this morning that all 30 were in the trash!

And here's just a little bonus pic of my sweet hubby making french toast with the kids last weekend. He's SO much better at letting them help out in the kitchen than I am! Then again, french toast is about all he makes. ;) Love you, Babe!