Friday, December 23, 2011

Coffee Talk 12.23.11

Good Morning!
I hope today finds everyone full of holiday spirit and doing well!  I just put a pan of Cinnamon Roll muffins in the oven (a Pinterest find) and expect to have the house full of cinnamon goodness very soon!
We also have some fudge, Oreo truffles and some unbaked sugar cookies tucked away for any of you sweet tooths!
This year, I have tried to pair down our holiday activities.  I haven’t made as many treats (we don’t need them), we haven’t done as many “Christmas” activities, we have mostly been home or visiting with friends...and I have liked it!
For those that have been around here long, you may remember a couple of years ago when I said I longed to have a 3 am friend.  I have plenty of friends, but I haven’t had that really close girlfriend in a long time and I have longed for it.  Well, this week, a friend invited my children and I over for breakfast so we could talk, she ended up keeping my little ones for an hour while Tigerfan and I went to get our adoption physical.  When I got back to her house, we ate...four hours later we ate again...and an hour after that, we finally went home.  It was such beautiful, sweet fellowship and such a gift from God!  Something my heart has yearned for and yet so unexpected!
Another Christmas blessing has been the completion (almost) of our home study application.  All we lack are pictures of each room in our house (the camera batteries died mid photo-shoot) which I hope to finish up today and a letter from the director of our home school tutorial saying I really do teach there.  This is a HUGE accomplishment!  I had no idea what that entailed until we were in the midst of it!  20 something pages, an autobiography from my husband and from me, physicals for the whole family, gathering birth certificates and marriage certificate, finding has been a huge undertaking and we are HOPING to mail it off Monday!!!  Tigerfan has been absolutely amazing...what was completely overwhelming to me, he just grabbed onto and plowed forward and here we are!  Our next step is to get our fingerprinting and local background checks and start on passport applications!  Things are moving along.
To that end, I, who have NEVER had trouble sleeping...cannot sleep anymore.  I go to bed thinking about orphans and I wake up at night thinking of them.  My new routine is to pray for those children, pray for their caregivers, pray for those who might choose them until I fall asleep each night.  And as I wake up during the night, my prayers continue.  I never saw the needs of the fatherless around us until my husband began to mention adoption...and now, I cannot ignore it.  147 million orphans.  147 million children who will go to bed fatherless.  Many who will age out of the orphange with no family and no hope.  Many who will be “sold” into prostitution or forced into military service.  147 million children who long for a family.  My heart is broken for them and for their plight.
So, this year...if you need a cause, if you need a place for your end of the year giving and your heart is tender towards these little ones, consider seeking out an organization that gives hope to the hopeless.  There are so many:  Sixty Feet (who you can help right now by voting for a grant), Amazima, My Father’s House, PeopleWeaver...there are SO many more!  Our eyes have been opened to the needs of those that cannot help themselves and we can no longer ignore them or pretend they don’t exist.  James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  This Christmas, while we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the savior of the World, a little piece of our hearts will be in an orphanage on the other side of the world.  Hopefully, next Christmas, there will be one less orphan, one less who is fatherless, a little girl who will hug the neck of Tigerfan and call him daddy.  But there are so many more.  Please, this holiday season...pray for those who have never even heard of the Light of the World and consider what you can do.

On that note, our other exciting news is that our fundraising "stuff" has come in this week!  We got our paper bead necklaces from PeopleWeaver and they are completely beautiful!!!  We also got some beauty products from Ladybug Blessings that we will be using to do a brochure sell!  I'm excited to try them out...I just wish that we would have started earlier cause this stuff would have made great Christmas presents...maybe Valentine's???  Anyway, a friend of mine has also found a good price on Ugandan vanilla beans, so I am also hoping to make some Ugandan vanilla extract!  It is exciting to see these things coming together...I'll keep you posted, and if you happen to be in the market for some rockin' Ugandan Paper beads or some oatmeal soap...I can hook you up!!!
Don’t forget to visit Home Sanctuary for more Coffee Talk.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Coffee Talk 12.16.11

Good morning!

How can it possibly be Friday already?  By the same logic, how can it almost be Christmas already!

It has been a busy week at the Tigerden, as I'm sure it has been at everyone's house!  If you stopped by last Friday, you know Science Fair is over!!!  Sort of.  FB's project took second place, so we are going to Regionals.  I have mixed feelings about this.  It will look great on college applications to have gone to a Regional Science Fair as a high schooler.  However, it also means more work...which I will have to coerce out of him...again!  Ugh!

In other news, while we are pretty well finished with our Christmas shopping for everyone else.  I have NOTHING for Tigerfan except a wallet and some cologne that he was with me when I purchased.  Nothing, nada, zip.  In fact, I don't even have an IDEA for him.  Early on in our relationship, I LOVED shopping for him.  I loved trying to surprise him and get him something he didn't even know he wanted.  I soon realized that he didn't know he wanted it...because he didn't want it.  After a couple of years of getting my feelings hurt because my hard searched gifts were returned or unused, I learned it is just better to get really specific (sweet OCD man)!  These days, it is tell me the exact shirt at the exact store and the exact size, or better yet go pick out the exact item and I will wrap it up for you.  I know this sounds a little harsh but it is the only way I know he will be happy.  The problem, this year he can't think of a single thing he wants or needs and he doesn't want me to spend much needed money just to have something.  Which is totally logical, but I am full of pride.  I know that he has been out and about ordering, shopping and he has a stockpile of little somethings for me and I don't want to be outdone...isn't that so American!  So I am struggling to come up with little things to make him happy so I can be happy!  How crazy is that!  I have already told him that I want next year to be different.  I don't want to buy a thousand gifts for rich spoiled Americans that don't know what it means to be in need.  (That is us, by the way).  I at least want to scale back...a lot and buy gifts that will support others who are truly in need...anyway, this year, I've got nothin' and I am running out of time!

Anyway, this week has been full.  We had a Christmas party for the kids at our apartment ministry, we did LOADS of laundry when Tigerfan finally got our new washing machine installed, after searching all over this city for a Christmassy dress for Dancer, I gave up and sewed her a dress very last minute, we have filled out MOUNTAINS of paperwork (and have mountains more to work on), we had Children's Choir Share time at church and Christmas parties at Tutorial.  But now, we are winding down.  We are done with Tutorial until next year and hopefully I can be a nice mom and take it easy on the schooling at home (except math, we MUST do math).  FB has three service projects this weekend so he is racking up his service hours and we have basketball practice and last minute shopping but HOPEFULLY next week will be filled with friends in our home, late nights of playing games and laughing and enjoying the simple things.

"The dress"

In adoption news, we are ALMOST finished filling out the Home Study book, er, I mean application.  We have pretty much laid our entire life out for the free world to examine and judge.  We have mailed off requests, paid out ridiculous amounts of money, and are just steps away from celebrating the end so we can begin the orphanage application!  Oy Vey!  It will be totally worth it, though.  This weeks stress out moment is stemming from a great opportunity.  A friend of mine is hosting an adoption open house in her home on January 3.  It is an opportunity for several families in the area who are in the process of adoption to bring their "stuff" to sell and help raise funds for their adoptions.  The problem, we are so deep in paperwork, that we haven't really taken that step, so this week I realized...I have NOTHING to sell and very little talent to "craft" with.  Yesterday, I purchased a few Ugandan paper bead necklaces to sell (love this idea because it supports the people of Uganda), that is all I've got.  Today, I am going to call a lady I've been emailing from a site called Ladybug Blessings about trying to get some of their products.  I am also considering purchasing some Ugandan vanilla beans and making/selling homemade vanilla extract (again, it supports Ugandan economy) which I like.  That is all I have.  The thing is scary spending a lot of money HOPING people will want to buy the products, especially because we just do not have a lot to spend right have to spend money to make money...but geez!  So, any ideas?  My husband says I could sew some of the outfits I make for Dancer and they would probably sell...but I am no professional, I'm not really an expert seamstress and I hate to sell something that isn't top quality.  I've also considered preparing meals (maybe frozen) for people or making baked goods for them.  What do you think?  Any amazing ideas out there?

Oh, one last thing.  I got the TWO most precious gifts I have ever received from students yesterday.  The first...a check for our adoption fund.  Our first contribution...tearing up right now!  The second, a student purchased a chick in my name for a person in a needy completely precious is that?  THAT is what next year's Christmas is going to look like in the Tigerden!

Okay, I have rambled enough!  Can't wait to visit with all of you, hope you have an amazing weekend and don't forget to go to Home Sanctuary for more Coffee Talk (not everyone will be as long winded as me)!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coffee Talk

If you are reading this post than there is rejoicing in the Tigerden...because Science Fair is through.  I am either at the judging or at home doing the Happy Dance.  Ask me next week and I will tell you what an incredible experience it is.  I will hail all its many attributes.  I will tell you how much the children learn by participating in this event.  Ask me this weekend, and, well, my opinion might be different.

At this point...I don't care if we place.  I don't care if we go to regional.  I don't care if we make a good showing at regional.  All I care about is saying, "We're done!  We're done!  We're done!"

So, here are some things I have learned from this year's Science Fair:

  • It does not matter how many times I say, "You need three abstracts and one must go in the top, left corner of the board and DO NOT CUT IT!" least 1/3 of my class will, in fact, NOT have three copies, it will be cut down AND at least 3 children will put it in the wrong place on the board.  I am convinced, now, that that is because when I speak Science Fair, my students hear the Charlie Brown teacher voice.
  • It does not matter that my high school student has done a project every year since fifth grade, somehow between November of one year and the beginning of Science Fair the next all Science Fair knowledge somehow leaks out of his brain and he reverts back to the clueless 5th grader.
  • Choosing a project that supposedly interests previously mentioned high schooler in no way increases their excitement about research, experimentation, compiling data or putting together a board.
  • It does, however, make the mother want to yank all her hair out because she is completely clueless as to what they are doing and yet seems to be doing all the leg work.
  • Assuming that next year will be better because they have another year of experience behind them AND they will be that much more mature is kind of like assuming it will be more fun to pay your taxes next year because you got so much practice this year!
  • Celebrating the end of Science Fair is right up there with chocolate and Diet fact, I think I will celebrate WITH chocolate and Diet Coke and this could possibly rank as one of the ten best days of the year!
And now, the focus returns to adoption.  We have decided to stick with the original agency...I think, so hopefully this weekend will be spent filling out papers and getting our ducks in a row.  I am also trying to think of ways to begin raising money...cause it is gonna take a LOT!  I've also been asked by the Orphan Care group at church to try to help find donations for a silent auction to raise money for the ministry.  That really isn't my gift...really!  If anyone has any inspiration as to what to get, let me know. Or, if you happen to have a car or a week's vacation laying around that you don't know what to do with, I would be the BOMB if I brought in a draw like that!  Right now, it looks like my contribution might be...well, I think I have an unused photo album in a dresser drawer somewhere.  Maybe a nice freezer meal?  Hmmmm, I might have to think a little on that!

Still feeling a bit overwhelmed by all that is going on (see here) but we are choosing to just have faith.  And now, I'm off to the 3:00, there WILL be a celebratory Diet Coke I can assure you...and I don't even care if I've had my eight glasses of water yet.  I'm a rebel like that!

Make sure to head over to Home Sanctuary for more Coffee Talk!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In the Quiet Moments

Shhh, Tigercub doesn't know it, but he is in bed EARLY!!!  The boys are at basketball and Dancer and her friend are in the kitchen decorating stain glass Dollar Tree investment I ever made!  I actually have a free moment to sit here and record a little.

Obviously, the topic on my mind most often these days is adoption.  And I have been thinking about it A LOT this week.  It is funny because we have been so clear about this decision...we have known for a few weeks that we were going through with this huge step, but have kept it quiet.  At first it felt like those first 3 months of pregnancy...I felt the need to keep it a secret in case something happened, in case we didn't pass the Home Study, in case we failed.  After being reassured that I was being overly paranoid, I guess we just waited for the right time...and coming out with it felt so good!

And now, it is out there...and I am terrified!  Suddenly, the financial commitment looms before me.  And then in one week our heat went out (we now know we have a hidden leak somewhere...sounds expensive) and our washing machine died.  Beyond that, the agency we have been talking to for a month doesn't seem to be working out and we are feeling the need to change agencies...a whole month of work down the drain and an application that is intimidating at best.

Doubts begin to creep in.  My insecurities begin to rise.  How will we pay for this?  If I cook, sell, create...will anyone want our "stuff"?  What if I fail in this?  How humiliating!  Why did we share so soon?  Then my thoughts turn to a little girl in Uganda that we do not yet know.  And I am filled with such a love for a total stranger.

I wonder, did she get enough to eat today or did she go to bed wishing for just a little more?  Did anyone read her a story or help her brush her teeth?  Did someone hold and cuddle her before laying her down or did she go to bed longing for human touch?  Did anyone speak Jesus to that sweet girl today?  Did anyone tell her how beautiful she is and how she is known and loved by the Creator.  Does she have a special friend to play with or is she lonely?  She is already in my heart.  Does she sense that someone is out there praying for her?  Does she long for a loud, chaotic, crazy, family?  Will she be home with us next Christmas?

So I pray, and then I pray some more.  And then I eat chocolate.  Lots and lots of chocolate.  Which makes me think that I should probably start running again.  Running and praying is probably a better choice than eating chocolate and praying, but I'm trying here, people...and let's face it, chocolate is pretty tough to beat!

A friend told me this process would be a roller coaster...I guess I just never imagined the ups and downs would come so soon.  So, we wait in faith and we pray for our little one and we walk moment by moment.  Looking backward or forward is too scary right now.  We can't go back to the days when we didn't see the orphan crisis all around us and we can't move forward without walking in obedience.

So that is where we are here in the Tigerden.  If you have a moment, please pray for us as we begin this journey...and feel free to send chocolate.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm Ba-ack!

Yep, we are all still alive and kickin' at the Tigerden!  I know it has been far too long since I have been to my little bloggy home or visited with my little bloggy friends and I am going to TRY to do better.  Every week, I tell myself I am going to get back on board and every week seems to slip by in a blur and I realize I have neglected this little corner of my world one more time.

Life has been full around here with school, guitar lessons, drum lessons, dance, two boys playing basketball, apartment ministry, church...

Tigercub is growing like a weed and isn't much of a cub anymore, he is, however, our comic relief.  I wish so much that I would be diligent about recording some of his sayings on here...but by the time I find time to sit down and type...I can't remember what it was he said.  Is that a sign of too many kids or too many years?

If you had an hour or six, I would get you caught up on all that has been happening around here...but you probably don't want to know how messy my kitchen is or how organized my...okay, who are we kidding...nothing around here is organized!  I'm just gonna start with a clean slate and try to stay on top of things.

If you have been around here much in the past year or two, you will understand when I say it is Science Fair time!  Aack!  I am blessed to only have one child turning in a project this year, but it is a doozy.  If you happen to be one of the blessed Facebook friends that helped us out, "GOD BLESS YOU!"  This weekend, we will work on our board and polish up our paper and be done...yes, I say our because I have a lot of work invested in this baby.  My fourteen year old might get the credit, but there is a piece of this project that is all mine!  My tutorial students will all turn in their projects this week as well, so I'll be checking them twice and Friday is the big day!  Whew!

But the BIG news around here is what God is doing in our family.  You may want to sit down.  Actually, I guess you are probably already sitting.  I'm not going to go into the whole story...just suffice it to say that God has been working on Tigerfan and a pretty big way.  And while I never thought we would be saying these words, we have made the decision and begun the process of adopting a little girl from Uganda.  We are super excited and super scared.  In the next few weeks, I am hoping to begin to blog a little about what led us to this point, if nothing else as a record to show our sweet daughter someday.  I'm sure you will be hearing a LOT about the journey as we begin and you will definitely be hearing some pleading for prayer, and if you happen to have fifteen or twenty thousand dollars laying around that you need something to do with, feel free to send it our way!  :)

Really, we feel so honored that God would call us to be a part of caring for one of His precious little ones.  In the past few months, our eyes have been opened to the tremendous blessing in sharing our plenty with the weak and the vulnerable.  I know the road ahead will not be smooth or easy, but it will be beautiful as we get to become the hands and feet of our savior and put His words into action.  I hope I have just a few people who have stuck around long enough to join us on our journey!

Anyway, it is time to go join Tigerfan for our weekly popcorn and M&M date!  Can't wait to visit with y'all this weekend!

Don't forget to visit Home Sanctuary for more Coffee Talk!