Thursday, December 29, 2011

Loren's Observations from China

Just a few of the musings on my visit to China

A little background - Beijing has approx 20 million people; Tiayuan (where we are now) has about 4 million people.  Tiayuan is not largely touristy and not many foreigners pass through here.  This is the first time this hotel has been used by our agency so not a lot of English going on here.

I am 6'3" (the average height I would say is 5'8")
Michelle has reddish blond hair
We are both of pasty white Norwegian descent
Not easy to blend in.....

Some folks look at us and smile (laugh?) and seem interested to see us.  We have had our share of eye daggers as well.  Especially, when we are toting Quinn.

I got chased out of McDonalds last night.  The lady just kept yelling at me in Chinese, hands waving and pointing to the door.  Still more than a little confused about that one.

Bikes/Scooters have to outnumber cars 2 to 1. 

The lanes on the streets are only guidelines; I have seen 6 lanes of traffic in a four lane street.  Direction optional.

Here, you honk before you cut someone off.  They will let you into traffic.  Darnedest thing I have ever seen.  You can enter a busy street, cut across traffic to go the other direction and they just let you.....

Pedestrians / bikes do not have the right of way.  Cross wherever you like but at your own peril - no one even slows down

Following is a picture of us outside the police station (Michelle had a little mishap) in Datong.  Actually, we had to go there to get permission to get a passport for Quinn.  This by the way was a 4 hour drive for a 10 minute appt so they could email the ok back to the city we are staying in.  Just when you thought the bureucracy in the US was bad...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Adoption Day

Because the internet goes into snail mode around 7 am here, I'm only going to post a few pictures for now before we head out, and then add some details when we get back.  The pictures take about 10 minutes a piece to load during prime time internet hours!

Had your child a whole 5 minutes?  Here, sign some papers!

Quinn when we got back to the hotel

Jammied up!  Playing with the first of 'her' toys

At the government building after this round
of paperwork was completed

Dad and Quinn - Day 2

Going out for dinner - Chinese tonight?
Notice all the bikes and scooters

Quinn with a couple more of her toys

Why is there a picture of me asleep with every child in
our house?  I must have a calming effect or work really hard!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Loren here.  Here is a picture of me with Quinn and of us at the adoption center.  One more set of paperwork out of the way!  Turns out Quinn is scared of elevators and escalators.  Makes it fun in the hotel and in the grocery store!  Off to Datong today (4 hrs away) to apply for police clearance to get Quinn a passport.  We'll report back in later.  Thanks everyone for the support and prayers.  We can feel both over here!

Monday, December 26, 2011

China Post #3

Next morning, off to visit a Jade Factory.  What a beautiful craft!  We watched Jade being cut with diamonds and water, by artisans, into beautiful statues and jewelry.  We purchased a jade necklace with the emblem of the Ox, which is the year in which Quinn was born according to the Chinese Horoscope, and it’s considered good luck to present daughters with Jade when they get married.  I’m guessing that she’ll get to wear this before that happens, but it’s a nice tradition!  Then to the Cloisonne factory, which I wasn’t prepared to like, but once I saw the process and the beautiful vases, I changed my opinion of it.  They use a copper base for the vases, then solder copper wire onto it in a pattern done by the designer, fire it, then paint it by droppers of special paint.  Repeat that step many times until the color stays, then polish it and sometimes like the top with gold.  They are beautiful, and we did get a few Christmas tree ornaments to commemorate our trip here.


 At the Cloissone factory, you also get to eat in their restaurant Family Style, so they bring you bowls of different foods, a large bowl of rice, and some awesome soup that we all liked.  The fish heads still attached were a little unappetizing, but the fish tasted great, so we ignored the heads. Because it’s not wise to drink the water here in China, you are served tea instead, and if you want something like pop, then you have to order and pay for that separately. 
We managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the grounds where the 2008 Olympics were held for the guys- they were thrilled to see the stadium and Birds Nest after having seen these places on TV.
 Then it was off to the Great Wall, the attraction that I was most looking forward to seeing.  It was very different than I imagined.  The builders wanted it to be hard for anyone attacking to get around on the wall, so it angles up and down very steeply, and the steps are not uniform in size.  It makes it quite a workout just walking on it, (who needs a Stairmaster?) and we decided we could make a Great Wall Exercise video, including calesthenics once you get to the guard towers!  The view is impressive, and the rocks on the wall worn smooth from hundreds of years of wear and weather.  The ride up to the wall was in a gondola (old ski lift, I’m thinking…) and made us catch our breath more than once when the wind blew us back and forth!  And just so you know, there was Chinese graffiti all over the wall, so I guess that is a vice present in every culture.


Each morning, we hit the hotel’s breakfast buffet, and this gives us a chance to try out all sorts of different foods that we normally wouldn’t experiment with!  I’ve had some incredible fried rice, dim som, dumplings, sautéed vegys of various kinds, some kind of chicken and egg soup, bamboo, cooked peanuts and lima beans, interesting pastries, and the best watermelon I’ve ever eaten.  I also have a whole new appreciation for celery and can’t wait to use it more in my cooking when I get home.  The diet mainly consists of vegys and rice here, with a sprinkling of meat- very enjoyable for me, but I’m thinking that Loren will want a big old hamburger when we get home. J
The lobby of our hotel

Sunday, December 25, 2011

China Day 2

Ni Hao!  I am sitting on a very hard bed writing this, and when I say “hard”, I mean like sleeping on the floor hard.  This, running around Beijing hitting the hot tourist spots, and the change in time zones, has left us tired.  I have to keep reminding myself that today is Christmas Eve- I have lost track of time since we’ve been here.  We plan on skyping the kids in the morning to wish them Merry Christmas and catch up with them. 
We flew out from Mpls. on Wed- thanks to Marc and Linda for allowing us to stay at their house and for the ride to the airport.  We got in around 10:30 that night and while in the security line at the Beijing airport, we met another Bethany couple who is getting their daughter the same day that we are!  We are staying at the Cha Ang Hotel and learning about the subtle differences between cities in the US and China.  A biggie is that pedestrians DON’T have the right of way here, so you always have to be on the lookout for cars and bikes.
Our first day here included an info meeting with the China Coordinator, Shiyan, and got to know  the other families traveling with us.  There are only 3 families here in Beijing for this trip, and 2 others meeting us in Guanzhou next week.  It’s a small group, but that makes it easier to get to know each other and form attachments with these families.  We got brave and went to a local grocery store for snacks and “provisions”, and got our first experience paying with yuan.  The store was so different than what I expected- Jingle Bells played over and over on the loudspeaker, which surprised us, and the prices kept us guessing.  For example, you could buy a pair of tennis shoes for the same price as a large package of Dove chocolates!  So comical.  I also got my first taste of China’s version of Diet Coke, and let’s just say that I will be looking forward to having the Real Thing once I get back to the states.

Andersons, Shiyan, Scotts, Loren
That evening, we went to the Beijing Acrobatic Show- it was amazing!  Very flexible young girls being bent and tossed, all while holding a stack of bowls on their foot, 5 motorcycles driving fast inside a large metal ball, tumbling and juggling- very entertaining.  Wish I had a picture but they were not allowed- however we took video of it and it was fun to rewatch it when we got to our room.
 This also gave me my first chance at using a Chinese restroom, or what we affectionately call Squatty Potties.  There is a hole in the floor, and you have to squat over it, keeping balanced so that you don’t fall in, and also hold onto the toilet paper that you brought (you DID remember to bring t.p., didn’t you?!)  Quite an experience!!    Afterwards, we ate at KFC, which vaguely resembles the food at KFC, but with items like Lobster hats, Fish fingers, and other different foods.  Their portions are also very small, which was interesting to notice, compared to the American KFC.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hanging out at the airport

Sitting here at the SeaTac airport in Seattle and managed to locate a free WiFi spot, so thought I would pop on to send messages to the kids and check email. 

Living on the farm hasn't prepared me for the Techno Influence that is surrounding me here in the Fast Lane of international travellers and the Movers and Shakers of the world.  I've never seen so many Ipods and Droids in hand, computers on laps, or MP3 player ear buds in ears before- there are even notices everywhere as to when you can have them on and when you can't.

Didn't know you can "buy" internet service while on the plane for $9.99 per flight either.  I'm still thrilled that they aren't charging for the Diet Coke.

And speaking of food, I had the largest Grilled Chicken salad I could find here, as my last "American Lettuce Meal" before entering China's "don't eat the lettuce" zone.  It was the best tasting salad that I can remember having EVER.  Of course, it's probably just because I know I can't have another one for 2 weeks.

I'm still kinda existing in that disbelief-zone that we are actually In Process, actually on a plane headed for Beijing.  I am loving every moment of it, the excitement of so many new things to see, the alone time spent with Loren without a million interruptions, and the barely contained excitement of soon meeting Quinn. 

(Yes, I'm still trying to learn my few pitiful Mandarin phrases- don't laugh.)  Although I think I impressed my kids when we were at Best Buy just before we took off for Mpls, and I was able to tell them what the words meant on the gong at the front of the store!  (It said "goodbye" in Mandarin) 

I hope they were impressed.  I have so few tricks left that impress them anymore :-)

Zai Jian

Monday, December 19, 2011

How fast can I learn Mandarin...?

The last 10 days seem to have gone by in a blur- living at the folks farm, running between there and our farm to do chores and work on the house, cleaning, unpacking, and trying to get my life in control again. 

 Yes, the ugly Type A personality has been rearing its head and I've been frantically trying to get my universe orderly so that the house is ready to move into, so that I will be ready to travel to get Quinn, and so that all is ready for the kids (grown up kids too) to be here over Christmas break.

Boxes unpacked, gifts wrapped and stockings stuffed, livestock feed stocked, freezers full, and paperwork ready to go.  Got the Sunday School Christmas program and party completed yesterday, and our last school event for Luke is tonight's Christmas concert.  Watched the season finale of Survivor while hanging the family photos.  Checklist is almost done.

After the rush of getting ready, both Loren and I are almost looking forward to the 15 hour plane trip, if only to sleep or do nothing.

Today we received our itinerary and it's looking like it's really going to happen!  And I'm panicking.  I know about 3 phrases in Mandarin and don't have a new book to read for the trip, so technically, I'm just not ready.  

On the other hand, I'm so ready to hold Quinn that I can barely stand it.  :-)

Here is our itinerary:
Loren and Michelle Johnson

December 22, 2011             Arrive in Beijing via DL129 @ 10:20 p.m.  Airport pickup.  Stay at Chang’an Grand Hotel.

December 23, 2011             Orientation meeting at 10:00 a.m.  Acrobatic show in the afternoon.

December 24, 2011             Visit the Great Wall and Cloisonne Factory.  Lunch included.

December 25, 2011             Visit Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and Hutong Tour.

December 26, 2011             Flight MU5292 (8:05- 9:20) to Taiyuan.  Airport pickup. Stay at Taiyuan Continental Hotel.  Receive your child in the afternoon.

December 27, 2011             Adoption  registration and  notarization.

December 28, 2011             Go to Datong by bus to apply for passport. Return to Taiyuan same night.

December 29, 2011             Visit Jiaxiu Pavilion, Yinze Park, and Shanxi Provincial Museum.
December 30, 2011             Receive all the documents. Flight CZ3530 (16:00-18:40) to Guangzhou. Airport pickup.

December 31, 2011             Medical exam for your child.

January 1, 2012                   Free

January 2, 2012                   Go back to the clinic to check TB skin test result.  Visit Guangzhou Folk Art Museum.

January 3, 2012                   Visa appointment.

January 4, 2012                   Pick up visa in the afternoon.  Go directly to airport. Flight MU5310 (18:55-21:20) to Shanghai. Stay at Airport Hotel.

January 5, 2012                   Flight DL296 @ 8:40 a.m. to USA.

So......whether I'm technically ready or not, we will be on that plane Wednesday morning- woo hoo!!

Please keep us in your prayers while we are gone, and especially pray for Quinn to accept us and to move gently into this new stage of her life. 

Pray that she will begin to trust us and bond with us, so that she can begin to have the security that only comes with having a loving family that watches over you and protects you.

Pray that Quinn is in good health, and also that Loren and I get through the trip unscathed by the diabolical intestinal issues that plague so many while traveling there.

Pray that our children here at home will do well in the care of their older brother and that things go smoothly while we are gone.

Can't wait to introduce Quinn to her new family, and her new family to her. This trip is an answer to a prayer and a mission that was laid on my heart almost 30 years ago.  I never thought this mission would reach completion, and my heart is so full now from all the blessings (and struggles) that have accompanied this process.   

God is good~

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Frenzy that is the Season

For years, I have sermonized on how we need to simplify Christmas, spend less money on each other and spend more time WITH each other.  You know, "The Reason for the Season" type of mentality.

Comparing the crowds that flock to the stores and the meager attendance at church over the Christmas season, it demonstrates what institution influences our communities the most, and it makes me more than a little scared about the future.

It's a tough cultural nut to crack.  I wish I had the language to present it as well as Jan Hatmaker did in this post.  And because she did it so well, I'll let you read HER take on Christmas.  It is right on the mark and I couldn't have said it better.

I hope this philosophy takes root and becomes the norm, so that the focus of Christmas is on Jesus, Faith, and Family, instead of the idol of Consumerism and Entitlement.

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Let's talk Frugality

So, Loren is driving up to Sioux Falls to a business dinner, and his favorite animal, the Deer With Suicidal Tendencies, finds him and again, makes contact. 

This is what he came home with...

(Yes, the poor man drives a mini-van to work...the less said on that subject, the better!)

The bumper is missing, a portion of the grill, and the front headlight.  Now it matches the other side, which also had a close encounter with 3 deer, and is also crushed in.  We also had to replace that front headlight, as well as a tail light from Luke's attempt to back out the car from the garage, but that's another story.....

I gotta tell ya, I am so proud of the fact that Loren can continue to drive this piece of junk    vintage car to work, when his peers are driving Hummers and Ford 150s that don't have major collision damage.  It takes alot of moxi for him to face that parking lot every morning.

That takes more than great self esteem...that takes big Kahoonas, in my book.  These are the things he does to take care of his family, putting his own needs on the back burner to make sure that ours are met. 

He is Awesome. With a capital A.

But now that we have managed to indent 3 of the 4 sides of the Milk Wagon, as I affectionately call it, I'm thinking that we will need to start looking for another used car.   Otherwise the next time he hits a bump in the road, I'm afraid the whole car is going to fall apart.

Thank you, sweetie, for always going above and beyond for your family; for putting your pride aside and putting your family first.

You are our hero!
Your family   xxxooo

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Guess what we got??

Yes, you heard me right. We got Travel Approval!!  The LAST obstacle to getting on a plane and flying to China to get Quinn. 

It reminds me of most of my pregnancies- weeks overdue, miserable and exhausted from my efforts, and wondering if I would be pregnant forever. 

I truly felt like we were going to be "adopting" forever.

Now that we have the go ahead, it just doesn't feel real, and I struggle with the concept that we will be actually GOING! It takes my breath away.  (Literally- I get light headed whenever I think about going!) 

So I've been giddy ever since I got the email, and I indulged in the luxery of just being happy for the day. 

That was yesterday.  Today, I said Goodbye to bliss, and Hello to worry.

I mean, here we sit at my parents house, no heat or water in OUR house, and I'm beginning to panic about getting the house ready before we go. I want to get the crib set up, meals made and put in the freezer, rooms cleaned and suitcases packed.  I think everyone wants to have some control in their lives, especially during the momentous occasions.

Then I read something in Max Lucado's book that really made me think...and relax.

Max wondered aloud whether Joseph had many of those same concerns when it came time for Jesus to be born.  This wasn't what he had planned...he would've provided a midwife for Mary and she would've had the comfort of their home for the birth, their family and friends would have been there celebrating, cheering as the baby was presented.  It would've been so... much... easier.

Instead, they are miles from their home, turned away from any lodging in town, and surrounded by straw and smelly livestock, giving birth in a barn. Alone.  No one to help Mary, no one to congratulate the new parents, not even a bed to lie on to give birth.  

I'm sure Joseph was wondering why things weren't more "perfect".  I mean, wasn't this the birth of the Messiah?!  Shouldn't the conditions have been Perfect?  But I guess that's where the lesson comes in.  Life is never "perfect".  And it doesn't have to be for wonderful things to happen.  Sometimes, the lessons we learn because life ISN'T perfect are the lessons that make us stronger, more accepting and flexible to whatever life throws at us.

So, whether the house is clean, meals prepped, or the crib assembled, we're heading to China to pick up our little Miracle this month.  And it will be Perfect :-) 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kinda Kitche

Sorry, but sometimes a gal just wants to indulge in cutesy things like this, know what I mean?!

Joined at the Heart (family) Decal

China Girls Rock Decal
Chinese Character Adoption Decal
All I Got Sticker (Rectangle)
Love Knows No Borders - China Bumper Sticker

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What are YOU reading?

I happened to see this in the carousel in our library when I went to pick up the girls one afternoon, and it looked too intriguing to dismiss.  So I checked it out.

And it is AWESOME.
He Still Moves Stones (The Bestseller Collection)

So relevant to what we all face today and written in a way that just makes you sit up and go "Ahh.  That makes sense."

[I smiled when I saw a chapter on handling relatives, since we are living with my parents at the time!  Very timely!] 

Several chapters really made my frustrations with our adoption process much more bearable and understandable, and for that comfort that it offered more than made it worth reading.

Max Lucado really has a gentle way of looking at life's challenges, reminding us of similar life challenges faced in the bible by people just like us, and leading us to a biblical solution that makes sense and is do-able.  I really enjoy his grasp on the meaning behind so many of the parables and how these stories from so many years ago mirror some of the struggles that we face yet today.

It's like a Here and Now Devotional, and Max reminds us that God still speaks to us today and cares when we hurt.  You will be surprised how much you will enjoy reading this book- I guarantee it.


Timeline tracking seems to be the focus of our days lately...we are on day 19 of our wait on Travel Approval, day 30 of our time spent here living with my folks, month 15 of our adoption journey... You get the picture.  It seems like we are obsessed with deadlines and milestones, trying to get our house move/renovation completed before we leave for China, trying to get our little girl adopted before the end of the year, trying to meet paperwork deadlines for the bank.

I know we are to take time to enjoy the journey, but these days, I feel as if I'm too busy sprinting towards an invisible finish line to notice much of anything else.

I have to say that spending this time at my folks has been a blessing.  Even though we only live 12 miles away (although, now we are going to be much closer!) it isn't often that we spend this much time just hanging out and doing normal things like making dinner together or folding clothes.  My Mom seems to be enjoying the company, but then again, maybe she's just too polite to look irritated!  My Dad, on the other hand, just looks around, shakes his head, and I'm sure is wondering how to get all these extra people out of his house :-)  To say that we are messing with the routine of his life is an understatement!

I have to think that in a few months, we will look back on this time of being held hostage by our deadlines and approval notices, and remember the fun we had being at Grandma's House.  

Bri and Tanner playing cards.

Bri and Camille working on their Great Wall and Chinese Horoscope on Grandma's kitchen table.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas? Already?

Being in the process the last few months of moving our house to be relocated, prepping the new location, and now being relocated ourselves at my mother's house for the past 3 1/2 weeks, the fact that Christmas is less than a month away has escaped my radar.   Actually, I haven't had time to even think about the upcoming holiday.

Being the control freak that I am, I like to have my Christmas shopping DONE by Thanksgiving. Black Friday is just a day that I make fun of other people, people who are just starting their shopping.  This year I am one of those people. <CRINGE>

We still are not back in our home, and once we DO get to move back, there are many hours of unpacking, cleaning, and repairing left to do. We don't even have entry steps yet- we are using a ladder to climb into our house. 

 The basement still does not have windows installed, so today we had two (yes TWO) bats in the house.  Fun.  "Watch Michelle Michelle hit the Michelle grab the broom!"

We have electricity as of yesterday (YAH!) but no water, sewer, or heat. We are pretty psyched that our septic tank was put in today, as was the basement in-floor heating. However, neither of them are hooked up yet.

With all this going on, I'm not sure when I will squeeze in Christmas decorating, shopping, and baking. As it was, Loren and I skipped Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt Gayles so that we could get some work done with the temperate weather and the kids went up with Mom for a traditional Turkey dinner.  Thank goodness for Gayle and Mom, otherwise the kids would've been eating sandwiches that day :-) 

Oh yah.  And then there's that little detail about a possible trip to China.  Hmmmmm.  I'm daily still feverishly scanning my email each day, and still, no TA.  But I've made the committment to trusting completely, so there's no worries.  (Does that sound a little Australian?!  "No Worries, Mate")

Since I can't count on getting the family gifts from China now, I guess I'll have to get started shopping this week. Darn it- I thought I was going to get out of shopping for the mundane toys/books/electronics and be able to look for exotic gifts in Beijing!  

I guess I didn't inherit the shopping gene from my mother.

Besides, the kids are getting a new little sister- isn't that a good enough gift?!! 

Monday, November 21, 2011


I'm sure you all remember the baby that I spoke so much about awhile back; the baby that we had hoped to adopt but couldn't because of Quinn's adoption?  Well, through a series of God Winks, we were able to connect this sweet baby with some very special friends of ours.

Friends who welcomed the opportunity to adopt, so we explained the situation and made the introductions.

They and the Birth Mom hit it off, and the rest is history! 

Here is where we come in.  Loren and I were incredibly honored to be asked to be Godparents for this Very Special Baby Girl. 

Baptism at Our Saviors Lutheran Church

She is telling me stories!
 She is such a lucky little girl, with so many people who love her! 

It has been so miraculous, watching God in action when it came to finding a home for this precious little girl.  She is with a remarkable family and her future is bright and full of love. 

And boy, is she gonna get spoiled!!!  Cuz that's what Godmothers are for, right??

Anna Jo Rose

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adoption Update~

I keep hoping that I will have incredibly exciting news to relate, but as of yet, there is nothing monumental to announce.  (sigh)

However, I think the wait forces me to sit and contemplate our situation, evaluate our preparedness, and pray for more patience!

Last Thursday I sweet-talked my two friends, Sara and Staci, to attend the Katelyns Fund Adoption support meeting in Sioux Falls.  They both have connections to adoption- Sara as an adoptee, and Staci as a new adoptive mom.  We turned it into a Girls Night Out, and brought our daughters Moyra, Kaylee, and Bri.  And yes, it included a stop for a Mocha Frappe!

The meeting was very informative, and the fellowship chat session afterwards almost more informative than the speaker session!  They also handed out an Adoption Devotional that is focused on the many "difficulties and faith challenges" that face those who take the adoption journey.  I read it within 2 days and have to say that it has been instrumental in changing my attitude as we wait for our travel approval.

Two of the devotionals really hit home this week- the first one addresses the struggles in adoption that trace back to everything from government corruption to paperwork mistakes, expenses that you weren't prepared for, and changes in the rules while you are in process.

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.   He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.  Psalm 62:1-2

Warfare will always be part of adoption, and we need to remember that the caseworker, the country we are dealing with, the calendar, or the mounds of paperwork isn't our enemy.  God is our rock, and we just need to know that He will fight for us, when it is right.  Sitting back and trusting like that isn't easy, and this is something I REALLY need to work on.

The second devotion that really spoke to me was in regards to having a grateful heart.  How easy it is to grouse about all the obstacles, the delays, the never-ending redundant paperwork, and slow moving government offices.  These obstacles can cause us to miss the blessings that are all around us. 

And since the past few weeks have been so incredibly frustrating, I decided to make a list of the blessings that I have to be grateful for.  (Seems like a good topic on Thanksgiving week, wouldn't you think?) 
  • A place to stay- my parents have opened their home to us while our home is being worked on, and as there are no hotels within 30 miles of here, this is BIG!
  • My mother- helping out whenever she is able, with the house, the kids, with laundry!  She is a saint.
  • Amazing contractors and house movers that are doing their best to get our house done.  They can't control equipment failure, the weather, or competing jobs that also need to be done.
  • Great weather, even this far into November.
  • Wonderful friends, who continue to offer help, lodging, and moral support.
  • That Loren's parents left their homeplace to him, and that he is getting a chance to "come home" again.
  • Adoption support groups, such as Advocating for Waiting Children, and Katelyn's Fund, that give me been there-done-that advice on adopting, traveling, and parenting.
  • Our kids, who have been flexible throughout this transition and who would love to extend their stay with Grandma indefinitely!
While we can't control the speed of our adoption paperwork being processed, the speed of our home being moved and connected, or the speed of our mortgage refinancing process to be completed, we can continue to TRUST.

I can remind myself that the world does not revolve around my needs. 

 I can use this time to spend quality time with Luke, Bri, and Camille, knowing that they will have to be more patient about having their needs met once Quinn is home.

I can use this time to reconnect with Loren and have a Date Night before our evenings are again controlled by a toddler. 

I can get our home unpacked, reassembled, and cleaned after it's roadtrip.  I've been nesting for weeks, but haven't been able to work on the house since it's been "in trantsit".

I can prepare myself to receive this incredible gift of another child; a child that will need alot of love, patience, and understanding. 

I think I've got plenty to keep me busy for awhile :-)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Big Move

I can finally breathe again.  My house is done with her road trip, gallivanting around the countryside, and is finally ready to settle down again. After being put on hold Tuesday because of an overlooked powerline, the move was back on again for Wednesday.  

And I totally missed it.

We understood that once the movers had the go ahead to move, they would give us a call.  I guess they understood something different.  The girls and I couldn't stand the wait any longer, so right after lunch, we drove over to the farm to ask the movers when the big move would be.  

We got there, and stood with mouths open, staring at the spot where the house used to be.

We drove quickly over to the new farm to find our house sitting, pretty as you please, in the driveway.  We had missed the party.

So much for documenting this for our children to see someday.  I had both the video camera and digital camera on stand-by, charged and ready for action.  Considering how often I'm caught unprepared when a Kodak moment occurs, I was pretty proud of myself for being like a Boy Scout.  ( you know.."prepared")

Best laid plans...yadda yadda.

So the next time the kids are looking through the old photo albums, and come across all the pictures of the old brick silo whose move from one farm to the homeplace was documented ad nauseum, at least I have a few pictures of our house sitting on a truck trailer.  That's got to be good for a few Oohs and Aahs.

Anyway, the good news is that it didn't end up sitting lopsided in a ditch somewhere, which is what I had been dreading.  And I can breath again. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Orphan Sunday

There will always be obstacles in the way of doing what is right.  We must see through the earthly distractions and material concerns to find what is really important.

In honor of Orphan Sunday, I decided to feature a post from Amy at

Dear Orphan,

I saw your picture today and heard about your plight. Your face is so beautiful and sad, 
and it tugs at my heart.

I hear you don't get enough to eat, and that there isn't always medicine if you get sick. 

You sleep in a room with many children, but you still feel alone.

You have never had anyone wish you a "Happy Birthday", give you a gift, or even sing 

you a lullaby goodnight.  No one has ever told you about Jesus or that He loves you.

I wish we could adopt you, but....

It is such a long way to travel, it would cost so much money, and it involves so much 


Our home isn't very big, and we already have children. Adding another child to our family would mean they would have to share a bedroom as well as our love and attention...

What if you have health issues or special needs that are not yet diagnosed?

You might have a hard time adjusting to a family after never knowing one, or have 
"issues" from years of neglect, malnutrition, mistreatment, or abuse....

I'm sorry, it just feels like too much of a risk and sacrifice.


 Adoption doesn't really feel like our "calling". 

 Maybe there is another family....

Quinn- age 8 months


Monday, November 7, 2011

MORE housemoving posts

You can never have enough pictures of a house on wheels, can you?

This shows the entire house disconnected from the basement and jacked up.  This is just the beginning...

This shows how they roll the house onto girders and away from the basement.  Those are the front stairs in the bottom left corner of the picture.  Luke had to use a ladder to get into the house!

This shows the entire basement exposed.  Yes, that mess was our basement.  I will be SO GLAD to have a basement that isn't drowning in water every spring, and isn't home to every spider in the county. 

I know....I'm demanding.

And here it is on wheels.  To say that the thought of my house being pulled down a gravel road by a truck freaks me out doesn't begin to describe the panic I feel whenever I think of the process of getting it moved.  I mean, what happens if it slips off into the ditch???  I know- have a little faith, right? 

So meanwhile, we are sharing digs with my parents and most likely testing their patience, but they are being such good sports about having us invade their home.  And we are being treated like royalty, so I'm guessing it will be hard to convince the kids to leave when it is time to move back into our house. :-)

When we were at the farm, I took a minute to take a few pics of Luke and Bri in a few of their favorite places on the farm.

Bri just loves our barn, so we took a pic of her in the doorway.  It's a beautiful old barn built in the 1940's, and you could play basketball in the loft- it is THAT big!

And here is Luke, draped across the classic pick up that belonged to Loren's grandpa.  Wish I could get the kid to smile....

That's better!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat!

Not sure how Oct 31st snuck up on us, but all of a sudden my kids were discussing what costumes they would be wearing and what candy they hoped to get.


I believe that was one of the first boxes excavated from the basement crawl space and taken over to the other farm during our first Moving Purge of the basement.

  So Camille and I went over to the other farm, crawled under the broken garage door where our first items were stored, and climbed over boxes to get to the back of the garage to find the costume box.  Thank goodness we found it.  Camille was planning on going as Austin Powers, so she could be a pair with Moyra, who was going as the 60's Austin Powers girlfriend with the poofy hair.  It was imperative to her that we find that costume.

[The funny part of that costume is that it wasn't a costume originally. It was items that had once hung in my closet...]

First stop on Halloween afternoon- the nursing home for a show given for the residents.

Dietrich, Moyra, Camille, Sara, Bear

Then, after running home to do chores and milk the cows, we re-dressed, and met friends in town to make our Trick or Treat run!

Lani, Kaylee, Camille, Dietrich, Moyra, Bri

Camille, Aunt Shirley, Bri

You will notice that Luke isn't in any of the pictures.  Of course, he had ditched us even before we got into town to walk around with his friends, because they were really too old to trick or treat, but they still wanted to dress up and be with their friends. 

He was kinda hating his older-kid status later that night when the girls spread out their candy on the floor to begin the traditional candy swap, but he ended up guilting the girls out of several pieces of candy, so he was content.

As we walked around, I 'waxed nostalgic' about my hometown of Anoka, which claims to be the Halloween Capital of the World.  Because of it's claim to fame, our Halloweens there were always a big deal, complete with a parade down mainstreet, school and neighborhood parties, and lots of treating. 

My kids were like "yah, yah, Mom, now let's go hit that next street, okay?"    Not exactly the respectful attitude that I had expected, but no matter.   I still enjoyed remembering the fun times spent in the suburbs of Anoka, and we had a beautiful, crisp fall night for walking the suburbs of Viborg, so it was a memorable evening for all of us.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Since our furnace duct work has been removed, and the temps are dipping down there these days, this is our favorite item in the house:

Isn't she beautiful?
I have never regretted putting a wood burning stove in our house. It has kept us warm during snow storms that took out the power, and it's just nice to snuggle up to after coming in from the cold winter air.  The kids also like to park in front of it after taking a bath!

We cut firewood every year to keep it going, and that is a great family activity as well.  As the saying goes- burning wood is the activity that warms you twice- once when you're cutting the wood, and again when you're burning the wood :-)