Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Our days were Merry & Bright, as I hope yours have been!

We started off the holidays with a trip to see none other than Alvin & the Chipmunks, Chipwrecked! Daniel loved it!

Christmas Eve we had our annual dinner and survivor style auction! We had 21 total people, 7 of them were ages 6 and under and they were all EXCELLENT!!! We cooked a 22 pound turkey for the occasion and had all the trimmings. Good food, great family and lots of fun!

The auction was the highlight as always. I auctioned off my CVS stash from the year, instead of hoarding it like you see on Extreme Couponing!! (If you haven't check out my other blog From Dimes to Dollars - I'm sharing more hot coupons and deals this year in an effort to lower our monthly grocery budget, and maybe yours as well!!) I keep enough of the auction items to get through a few months and the rest goes to my family! You should see them outbid each other for items like toothpaste and shower gel! The funniest thing to happen - my niece's new boyfriend buying her a toothbrush because she said she needed it! The second funniest, my brother-in-law buying my father-in-law (and they are no relation) vitamins for his eye and brain health!! Always a load of fun and laughter!!

Christmas Day Daniel was in heaven. He counted his gifts this year from Santa and then woke us up!! Some of the items he received from everyone including Santa were Leapster games, a personal CD player and his first books on CD, a science lab kit, the Joker House, Star Wars items, including a clock, and a Bop It!! Awesome!!!!

We spent hours mixing colors for a food coloring experiment with his science kit! I have great photos below to share!! I also have great photos of Daniel listening to his book on CD. Santa got him a Magic Tree House Books 1-4 audio book and at first Daniel wasn't interested. Then when I said he couldn't run around with the CD player, that it was for music or books only, he sat down and gave it another try.

Within about 2 minutes he was hooked!! I couldn't have pried it out of his hands if I had wanted!! Since I love audio CD's I was thrilled that he took to it also! He's listened to the stories several times now!! I wasn't sure how he would do without having an actual book to follow since our other short CDs have books and are only one story lasting about 10 minutes. These stories last about half an hour each. I have to say again how thrilled I am that he really likes them!!

We had an awesome holiday and are looking forward to a New Year's dinner at my mom's house with a big game of Tripoly to follow (we bet with pennies) so if you lose, you lose about a buck, but you can win 4 or 5 bucks!!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays as well!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Troy's Medical Appointment

Troy finally got his medical appointment done and with that the last of our end of the foster-to-adopt paperwork chase!

You may remember how well my medical appointment went and how I left the office in tears. Well, Troy saw the same doctor and said he was perfectly nice to him. Marked all his papers as excellent, never said a word about the fact that we were going to be fostering, and got him in and out in no time at all.

I cried again (I know think BIG baby) when Troy came home and said the doctor said nothing to him and marked everything as excellent.

I guess I'll never know why he chose that particular day to be so ugly towards me.

Moving on - at least it's done!! I'll be sending those in tomorrow, along with a strongly worded email and letter that we are ready to move forward with the process at this time.

In other news, well, there really isn't any. Other than getting ready for Christmas, things are moving along smoothly! Daniel and I are working on handmaking gifts (from Daniel ) to each family member and I rolled and dipped 480 chocolate covered peanut butter balls with my best friend this weekend for family as well!! Looking forward to Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wait No More Book Review

I was chosen to read and review the book Wait No More. Wait No More is written by Kelly and John Rosati and is a true story of a family of six formed by foster care. Since we are beginning our journey through the foster care system in our state, I was so excited to receive this book to read.

I'm going to cut to the chase. I LOVED this book. I thought it was extremely easy to read and I was engrossed in the story as soon as I started.

I particularly like how real the story is. There was no sugar coating. There was heartbreak and worry, but also joy and a never ending faith in God. There was even a placement that did not work out.

In the book I was able to follow four separate and very different adoption stories through the foster care system. Each story was unique. The problems faced included medical issues, birthparent issues, and attachments issues. I felt like I was right beside them sharing in the moments.

There is one particular chapter that really hit home with me. It is a chapter when the family thought that they were being led to adopt from Africa only to find out every door was being slammed shut for them. In the midst of their wondering why this happening, they realized that they were being nudged gently by God to continue with foster care. Troy and I are in much the same position. We feel the urge and calling to return to Russia, but felt like the doors were being slammed on us. It was during this time that we re-discovered our faith in God by finding a new church and that we felt like we were being nudged to pursue adoption through foster care right here.

I feel like this book opened my eyes to what we will soon be facing and I know that with our faith in God, we will be able to withstand the heartaches and come out joyous in the end, no matter how long it may take.

Anyone considering foster care, or adoption through foster care should read this book.

Monday, November 14, 2011


It seems like our timing is a bit off for the foster program at this point. Initially it sounded like we could move pretty quickly and Troy and I do best when we jump right in. Give us time to think more and more about something and we inevitably find another way or change our path.

That being said, we're on the same path, but it may take a little longer to go down. Apparently the social services in our area is swamped and they have now told us they can't even schedule us for our first homestudy visit until after the New Year. I realize the New Year isn't that far away. but it's also that far away to us.

I completed my medical examination this past Friday and that went well, even though I shed some tears. I went to my family doctor's office, but my doctor wasn't available so I agreed to see another doctor in the practice (one I haven't seen before). He started off by telling me he had four adopted children and would love to help with the paperwork and so I thought everything would be great. Then he went off on a spirl about how we were in for devastation and that we should go directly to an adoption agency. When I told him we had one adopted son already from Russia he then proceeded to tell us we should not and probably couldn't ever go back to Russia because the window was closing on Russian adoptions.

At that point, I was trying to keep my eyes opened HUGE so I wouldn't cry and I managed to point to the paperwork and ask him if he would please fill it out. He finally did with quite a few more hurtful comments and I left out of there gripping my documents and hurrying home.

The poor doctor doesn't know it, but he's going to be seeing Troy next week and Troy can't wait to meet him. I made him swear to be nice and go with the goal of getting the paperwork and getting out.

The good news is that once his medical is done, we are completely done with the paperwork portion of the program on our end!

I suppose after that we'll wait. Hurry up and wait. Sound familiar fellow adoptive parents?!?!?!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Batman, Spiderman, Thing, Oh My!!

This year Daniel took dressing up to the extreme! We were lucky to find a box of costumes at a yard sale this summer for a buck! In it were the title costumes as well as several others!

We started the season off right with a trip to the pumpkin patch! We took a hayride, picked out the perfect pumpkins, took a horse ride, and had Daniel's face painted! It was a great day!!

Then we headed to CVS for there kids event Halloween party where we got a free 5x7 photo and a bag with glo-sticks and candy! We had a good time there! Daniel chose his Spiderman costume and then we followed with a great outdoors photo shoot at home!

Next we had Daniel's Halloween party at school. I got to help numerous boys in and out of their costumes! I think I dressed about 10 Spidermans and then other assorted costumes! Daniel chose his Batman costume that day! I just love Daniel's Kindergarten teacher and class and can't say how thankful I am that he got that particular class!

We carved our pumpkin a few days ago and Daniel totally chose the template we used. I think it turned out pretty well!

Finally we trick or treated with my sister, her son, my niece and her two girls. Trying to get a photo of all 4 didn't go as planned but i happen to think they are all pretty adorable! Daniel of course chose to be Thing for the main event!!

Oh and a little surprise came our way this past weekend --- can you believe it -- snow!! I hope we're not in for a tough winter!! Troy tends to shovel the driveway chanting "Florida, Florida, Florida!!"

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Process and Progress We've Made

First of all I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all my friends and family who have showed us so much support and been so happy for us since we shared our latest news. It means so much to us to have each of you in our lives and to know you are praying for us.

We've completed all the initial paperwork (with the exception of our medical reports). We're simply waiting for Troy's new insurance to go into effect November 1st. Daniel's medical form was completed today!! We turned in all of our paperwork last Friday and had our first initial safety visit to our house. This visit doesn't really count towards the homestudy, but it's a way to do a preliminary check on an inquiry family.

We were also able to knock out our fingerprint cards because they were able to bring the fingerprinting equipment to our home and do them right on our kitchen counter!!

The initial visit was a simple walk-through of our house, checking for fire alarms, and other safety issues. We passed the initial phase just fine. We were also given a sample of a foster agreement to hold on to and review because often times a placement happens quickly and when they bring the child they want your signature right away on a form and it can be a bit over-whelming at the time to try to read it. This way we know what it says in advance.

The paperwork was much easier than the international version of adoption paperwork. It was pretty much the standard documents (budget sheet, background check) and then several more localized papers.

We were told the fingerprints and background checks would take approximately 3 weeks to come back. During this time we can set up appointments for the homestudy meetings or we can wait until after they come back. Since Troy is in his training program we are waiting to see how tough the training he is in is before we try to schedule any evening meetings.

We do get to "drive" this time around which is completely different from international adoption. In other words the timing belongs to us. We can go as fast or as slow as we want.

I can't lie - I would love to speed right on through, but I know we have to be patient and let Troy finish the training (and yes - this is serious training involving written tests and all the physical training stuff as well). So while I would love to move forward I'm trusting that God is in control of the situation and we'll become ready when He is ready.

We have at least 3 other meetings and then we'll have to wait until the homestudy is completed. At that point, I'm not sure when we would actually become licensed, but I believe it doesn't take long. There is training involved also, so we will be taking care of that as well in the interim. We do have prior training from Daniel's adoption also and it is comparable to what they teach.

I feel good about what has been completed and we were told we were off to a great start! I know these next few weeks will fly by and with the holidays coming, we'll be very busy!!

I'll be updating soon about our pumpkin patch visit and the costumes Daniel keeps showing up in in all the photos!! I'm helping with his Kindergarten "Fall" Party (they get to dress up!) on Friday so that should be loads of fun!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A New Journey To Another Child!!

CHANGE defined means to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

CHANGE is hard. CHANGE is unknown. CHANGE is scary.

But we're getting ready to do just that.

Troy and I have been talking for some time (upwards of two years now) about adding another child to our family. We've considered fertility shots (again), but decided (again) that it wasn't worth it when there are children already out there waiting.

We've wanted to go back to Russia for some time, but it's no secret that international adoption is expensive and we haven't been able to work out the finances without taking out significant loans, something we do not want to do.

We've talked about domestic infant adoption. Again, something we considered before but decided we were open to parenting an older child a child more than a year old.

We talked about foster to adopt. We're terrified of that. The thought of losing a child after caring for him/her for any length of time, whether it be a month or a year is heartbreaking.

We've talked and talked and talked. And talked some more.

Then we went to church. We haven't gone to church in a long time. We've made excuses, we've been busy, we've avoided the commitment of the time it takes out of our weekend. We were both guilty. I'd started asking Troy about church again, but we just couldn't seem to get ourselves together.

Troy went to the rifle range for the day and sat down next to a gentleman who was also sighting in some rifles (here comes hunting season!) They got to talking and guess what? That particular gentleman is the pastor of a church. Not just any church, but a church less than 10 minutes from our house. Here they sit at a rifle range almost an hour away and he preaches at a church almost in our neighborhood.

So we went and we listened and we learned. We loved the church. The people were friendly and a little girl took Daniel by the hand and led him to children's church for me. The pastor remembered Troy by name and was glad to see us. The message was inspiring. He mentioned that life wasn't always fair, but that the rewards in heaven would be. He mentioned that God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we want him to. But God does listen and He does not forsake us.

I needed to hear that. I've been wallowing a bit in my sorrow of not beginning another international adoption.

Then Troy and I realized something. Here we sit with the means to care for another child, the heart to do it, an open home, and we're doing nothing about it.

We realized it was time for a CHANGE. A change not only in our thoughts, but our hearts. Could we, should we? Is this the way God wants us to go?

We contacted our local Department of Social Services a few weeks ago. We've been emailing with the family recruiter and we're getting ready to embark on a pretty amazing and a bit scary (for us) journey.

We're going to get licensed to foster with the intention to adopt through Virginia's foster care system.

Virginia does believe in reunification of the child with their birth parents or a member of the family, so Troy and I have to open our hearts to supporting the reunification, but also loving and forming what may become permanent attachments to the child in our care.

I'm scared. I'm excited. I'm hopeful.

I read that many of children do eventually become available for adoption, but it still scares me that we will get a child that won't. However, since we are willing and prepared to adopt, they will take that into consideration when choosing a child to place with us.

Surprisingly things can happen very quickly. We could be placed with a child within about 6-8 weeks aftercompleting all the requirements. Because we will be specifying a child younger than Daniel, it may take a bit longer.

Troy has started a new job which entails a training session that would make the timeline more like in the New Year for a placement. We're very excited about this change also, because it means he is home much more than he is now, and is part of what made our decision to foster-to-adopt that much more clear.

This weekend we will be working around the house to add a few safety features, ones we haven't had to worry about since Daniel is a bit older. We'll also be discussing changing our furniture and our guest bedroom around a bit to accommodate another child.

I hope you'll follow along, and pray for us and for the children we come in contact with, as we get ready to head on a new Journey right here in Virginia to find our second child, and love any child that may cross through our doorway, even if only for a little while.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First Report Card and Parent/Teacher Conference!

We're having a great week! Today Troy and I are celebrating 15 years of marriage and we've sort of come full circle - he's at his new job which is actually what he used to be doing early in our marriage and he's home each day now!! After so much time apart, we're so thrilled!!

We received Daniel's first report card last week! He had all "M"'s in his regular classes (reading, writing, math, science). M stands for "Meets Expections" and he had all + signs in his specials (art, music, library). Since you get either a + or -, I was thrilled!!

Troy escorted me to Daniel's first parent/teacher conference last night. I went in a little nervous because, even though Daniel has done extremely well in Kindergarten, it's no secret that I had to move him from one daycare to another and then from that daycare to another. Turns out I was making the right decisions!

His teacher RAVED about him! She said his vocabulary was almost better than hers! She also said that even though he received all "M"'s in his report card, he deserved all "E"'s for "Exceeds Expectations", but that they are not allowed to give "E"'s to any Kindergartners until the end of the year!

Futhermore, she said she had to move him to the HIGHEST reading level (with only two other children)! She said she could tell the difference already in his reading class and that she realizes that Daniel is going to have to be challenged constantly all year!!

We also had another teacher stop by who said she just had to meet the parents of Daniel because "he was so bright, smart and obviously happy"!! She went on to tell us that she sat down beside him one day when he was coloring and he looked over at her and said "Who are you?" So she gave her name and said "Who are you?" Of course he gave her his FULL name - he LOVES to use his middle name! She said "well then I'm going to work with you for a few minutes on…" (whatever the assignment was) and Daniel held up his thumb and first finger (measuring time) and said "You have this much time (about 2 inches) and then we're done here!" Apparently it's now the classroom joke between the teachers!

The funny thing is I never use that - he started that with negotiating bedtime. When I would tell him 10 minutes, he would hold about 3 inches and ask "Is it this much time?" so we would negotiate a span of inches for bedtime!!

I did warn her that I taught Daniel the time out sign the day before when we needed a break from playing or wrestling (with Troy!). I won't be surprised if she gets the time out sign from him next!!

She said he can do every task that is required and more!! She said she would never had known he had no English language or anything until almost two years old.

We left out of the conference just beaming!! Troy even gave me a high five!!

We're so proud of our son!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quick Update!

We have some great news to share - Troy got a new job offer, one that keeps him at home during the week! A certain little somebody and a certain wife are really, really happy! This is the first of several new things coming our way...more on that later!!

Things are busy here! Between Kindergarten, homework and life in general, we're always on the move.

We had a great Labor Day and enjoyed hanging out at home! We were even able to pull out the old Slip 'n Slide and have a little fun!!

The past few days we've been doing more small home repairs including a protective grate over our screen door since, not only animals, but our son, has decided to try to go through it more than once!! We've also been re-screening screens and replacing ceiling fans around the house. Small repairs but they make you feel good!!

I'll be posting more soon, but for now - some fun photos from Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kindergarten Update

We have survived two weeks of Kindergarten!! Daniel is doing extremely well. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't think he'd adjust all that well, but he has really surprised me and proved me wrong!!

He did get into a spot of trouble on day 3 last week, but nothing major and the teacher wrote me a nice note, to which I sent a nice reply and everything has been great since. This week Daniel did extremely well, even getting a note on his paper stating that he chose the most difficult items to draw and that his teacher was impressed with his work!! I was sooo proud.

We created a "Me Bag" beginning last Monday night and turned it in to class today. Daniel shared his bag today in school and came home animated and it sounds like he really enjoyed telling his class about the items in his bag. He chose a photo of our house, a hunting hat, a diving stick, a train, and Uno cards. They represented his favorite place, doing something with daddy, favorite sport, favorite toy and game time after dinner each night, in that order. He colored his bag and drew a picture of me, Troy and himself.

I also gots lots of papers home this week and they were all perfect. They are working on simple math concepts like over/under, above/below. more/less. We've been working on these skills for so long that it's old hat to Daniel, but he still followed the directions on all the papers and they looked great!!

Here are some photos from week 2 of Kindergarten!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten (and an Earthquake!)

Boy, we'll never forget Daniel's first day of school!


We had a 5.9 magnitude earthquake, the epicenter of which was about 50 miles from our home and only 20 from my work office. Around 1:50 pm our office started shaking terribly and I was so scared. We're on the 3rd floor of a building and the floor felt unglued. Thankfully it stopped and I was able to get ahold of Troy and he was able to call Daniel's school. The kids were all fine, but this momma wasn't!!

To backtrack, this morning started out like any other. Daniel knew it was the big day and he still begged for 2 more minutes of sleep complete with covering himself back up over his head!! Once out of bed we served him scrambled eggs, bacon and toast with jelly. Then we got dressed, brushed teeth, washed face and headed out to the big K!!

We arrived at school and he headed right in leaving us in the dust, until we got to where the Kindergartner's meet in the morning. Then he ever so gently attached himself to my side. His teacher, who I really like, greeted him by name, but he wasn't having any of it. Once I got him unglued from me and we showed him which 2 tables were his classes, he went and sat down about 10 seats away from everyone else and put his head down. Broke my heart!! Never fear though, I walked over and re-sat him with some new friends. When we left he was taking his jacket off and loking around.

When we picked him up, he was all smiles and talked up a storm. He made new friends, liked his teacher and he didn't have an accident. Since we're still dealing with his medical condition, this is and continues to be my biggest worry for him. I went in ahead of time and had a conference with his teacher and the school nurse to explain his condition, set his potty schedule up and give them the letter from the urologist using big terms and was very impressive! The teacher followed the instructions to a "T" and Daniel did great!!

If you are wondering, Daniel has to void on a timed schedule which we are slowly trying to draw out. Normal bladders can hold urine for about 4 hours, but Daniel can only hold about an hour and a half. This is because his bladder was so stretched from the obstruction he had for so long and his reflux issue (both have been corrected, but the damage was already done). We still don't know the depth of feeling he has as far as the urge to go goes, and it's something we are still trying to ascertain through medical testing and simply Daniel getting older and being able to tell us. Because his bladder is so large, he doesn't get the "bladder-brain" signal until it's too late and he leaks urine. However, the hour and half schedule works for him and we are "training" his bladder to hold it that long without leaks. Fortunately #2's in the potty are no problem. So, as long as you keep him on schedule, he does great. We'll work up to 4 hours eventually but it could take a few years. Since we were told he would need a permanent cathedar at one point, we think his progress is great!!!

Anywho, he wrote his name for his teacher today and drew a picture of her. Troy picked Daniel up and he said Daniel's teacher said he was "excellent" and that she "really enjoyed him"!! Daniel talked non-stop about his day and his new friends. He said he earned 6 punches on his card for good behavior and earned extra recess time!! When I asked what he got the punches for he rolled his eyes and said "For good listening mom", in a "duh" kind of tone. Seriously! Apparently I need a punch card because he seems to have selective hearing around here!!

Whew!! I feel so much better now about our decision to send him on to Kindergarten! I know we may face some difficulties, but today went really well - minus the earthquake of course!!! Without further ado - Daniel his first day of Kindergarten!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Little Fish, Home Improvements & Kindergarten

I can't believe July is over! Daniel finished his swim lessons and passed his jellyfish class. He couldn't pass last year because he wouldn't swim on his back. This year the instructor used him to teach the other children (who were mostly older!!) how to swim on their backs. Daniel was also the only one to propel himself down in 4-5 feet of water to pick up toys from the bottom. He's really gained in strength this year and the instructor said she would like to see him next year on the swim team. He'll fall into the youngest category and she said they needed "strong swimmers" like him in that category!!

A couple of weekends ago we did some minor home improvements that had major impact on my housekeeping skills! First we pulled up Daniel's carpet and laid wood laminate in his room. He LOVES it. It's the same as our room and the morning he woke up he ran to us saying "Thank you for making my floor like yours!" Who knew it would mean that much to him!

Troy also finally cut me a laundry chute after I did much begging!! Our laundry is in our basement and we have this perfect little half closet in our hallway that Troy cut a nice circle in and built up the chute. It drops right down in the basement into a nice laundry basket and since then all laundry is out of our main living level. We were woried that Daniel would throw toys (or himself) down the chute, but instead as I was sorting laundry I found fishing items and realized it was my husband who had "accidentally" dropped a few things down! It hasn't happened since!! I don't have any pictures of the final product, but Troy faced the front and put a nice top on it. This was when it first went through the floor - we couldn't resist trying it out!

In Kindergarten news, we didn't get the school we were hoping for due to student/teacher ratio and we knew up front this was a high possibility in our area. We're allowed to call back August 8th and see if there are any changes, but for now we're preparing for the other school. I have to go in soon to make appointments to talk to the school nurse about Daniel's medical condition and I need to speak to the principal about his teacher and about a certain little boy who is also attending Kindergarten this year and who you may remember from this post a long time ago. I'm afraid if they get put in the same class, similar things may happen to Daniel and it isn't going to fly. As for his teacher - I don't want him to have the teacher he did his assessment with. I have my reasons! I know I'm picky, but I can't help it!!

Daniel's doing great at his summer camp. He's been roller skating, bowling, to Lowe's, to more parks than I can name and he's having a blast. He gets karate lessons as part of his day and while I don't think he's thrilled with them, I do think he's gaining a lot from them. He's learning to pay more attention and when he and his dad wrestle, I've seen Troy look at him in surprise!! He seems stronger, more sure of himself and he likes the interaction with all the boys. He's making friends, which he wasn't really doing (except for a few) at his previous daycare, and he's talking to his counselors like he actually likes them! He even told me he "loved camp" the other morning when I sang him the "Good Morning" song!!

All in all things are well in the Williams household!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 4th Weekend = Lots of Fun!

We had a very exciting July 4th Weekend! Our weekend included a local carnival, camping, swimming, waterfalls, tubing, cooking over the fire, family and lots of fun!!

Friday night we headed out to our local carnival and had way more fun than we expected! Daniel chose to go into the funhouse and ride the swings and then play a bunch of games! He won EVERY game he played, except one. We even came home with a goldfish!! Third ping-pong ball he threw went right into a fishbowl! Of course, before we left we bought an icee (Daniel chose lime!) and a caramel apple for Troy and I to split, but which Daniel somehow ended up with most of!

Saturday, Sunday and Monday, my mom got a campsite at a local campground and set up camp! We visited each day and took advantage of the amenities, which included a pool, a pond (in which I TOTALLY outfished the men and children!), a river with a waterfall, an arcade and of course cooking over the fire! We didn't spend the night (too hot) but we had a blast river tubing, and doing all the fun things you do at a campground.

Between summer day camp, the weekend and swim lesson, Daniel is one busy boy! Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

P.S. - While Daniel was on the swings, it was the sweetest thing - he swung around and yelled "I love you Mom and Dad!" Still melts our hearts!!