Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wonderful News!

I wanted to share a couple of bits of good news on the adoption front, as well as a potential set back.  First, although you may remember that our I-171 finally did come back in June, we were DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) on July 1.  This means we are now officially back on the list.  Unfortunately about 2 weeks after becoming DTE, we received an email from our agency that projected wait times had greatly increased, from 6-8 months to 10-16 months (this is from DTE to referral).  While I am hoping that some of this could all shake out, we are preparing ourselves for another long wait.  Adoption is certainly not for the faint of heart, and while my heart sinks thinking about our longer wait, I know first hand that this wait is nothing compared to the wait after you receive "the call."  So I hope and pray that situations and processes can get ironed out now.

Now for the really wonderful news.  A few weeks ago we found out that we were chosen to receive a $3000 matching grant from Lifesong for Orphans!  I wanted to wait to announce it until after we had mailed out our support letters, which was one of the most difficult and humbling things we've had to do.  So many of our friends and family have supported us in our various fundraisers that we really hated to ask for help again.  We have until September 14th to raise $3000, and Lifesong will match dollar for dollar up to $3000.  So if we raise the entire amount, that will be $6000 for our adoption...this is HUGE!  So much of this adoption has been filled with setbacks and delays that I think along the way I've forgotten that the One who called us to this is also the One with the entire universe at His command.  It was a great reminder that our God is greater and stronger and higher than any other. 

If you feel moved to donate, you can click on the link to the right and donate via paypal, just specify Taylor #2081 in the notes section.  You can also mail your tax deductible contribution to:
Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St
Gridley, IL  61744 

Just make sure to write Taylor #2081 on the memo line of your check. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Family Day: 2011

First, a brief disclaimer.  I've decided I'm going to stop apologizing for being a terrible blogger.  There.  I'm going to stop feeling bad or guilty or whatever and hope you (whoever you are) just enjoy what comes when it comes.

And now, it brings me great joy to bring you Mia's Family Day 2011.  It's hard to believe that it was really two years ago that Travis and I traveled to Ethiopia and were united with this awesome little baby girl.  How time has flown.

Last year, we celebrated her Family Day, but really more for us and tradition's sake than anything else.  One tradition I did start and decided to carry-over is balloons.  Last year we were way into Elmo, but this year was a bit more tricky.  She likes lots of different characters, but I can't say we have a favorite.  We also haven't wanted to push the princess thing too much, so I decided to steer clear of those lovely ladies and went traditional with Mickey Mouse.  So after I went up to get her this morning, she found this surprise waiting for her downstairs.

She really was excited to see her balloons, but our Miss Attitude didn't want to pose first thing in the morning.  We also watched the video of her "Gotcha Day" in Ethiopia and her arrival home at the Indy Airport.  Although I know she doesn't really understand what she is saying, I'm excited that she talks about "E-opia".

It also just so happens that the Indiana State Fair was going on, so we had been planning to take her on Family Day.  I did feel a bit weird about going after Saturday evening's awful accident, but we decided that life does go on, so we would make the most of the day.  

This was Mia's first trip to the State Fair, and we started out in the kids' discovery farm area.  I had heard about this from other friends last year, and it was seriously the coolest thing ever for the little ones.  It's supposed to teach them about life as a farmer.  When you start out, they give you an apron and basket.  Then at the first station, you "pick" some corn and soybeans to add to your basket. 

Then off to the chicken coop to add some eggs to your stash.
 Next, you have to "feed" your livestock by giving them the corn and soybeans you picked earlier.

And they even give the kids free farmer's hats in John Deere green!

 As you follow the chicken's tracks along the path, you come to the garden and plant a "seed" that they give you.

 And then the fruits of your labor!  Time to pick a vegetable from your garden...
 and an apple too!

 At some point, we also sheered our sheep and collected some wool and rode our tractor around the fields.  And of course, you can't forget about your cows.  Off to the creamery to "milk" the cows.

 After that, you take your goods to market and trade in your vegetables, apples, eggs, and wool for money, which you can spend in the general store for actual items.  Mia chose a strawberry cereal bar.  I mean, how stinkin' cute is that?  I was completely impressed with the whole thing, and I told Travis that it made me want to live out in the country and be a farmer.

Well okay, maybe not really, but it did seem really neat.

After our farming experience, we had a horrible-for-you-but-tasty lunch, followed by an apple cider slushy for me and (free!) ice cream from the Turkey Run tent.  We were on our way to the Midway when we saw this cute little station set up to feed the goats.  Mia loves all animals, and I have to say I am very proud of her for stepping right up.  I don't remember being that gutsy as a kid.  (You notice that it's her daddy helping her feed them, right?  Maybe I should rethink my career change...)

The one thing she has been talking about since we told her about going to the fair was the carousel (or kill-your-self in Mia-ese).  She *loves* them with a passion.  So we bought some tickets and were quickly on our way.  (Please ignore how goofy I look in the left picture...but she looks absolutely adorable!)

 After the carousel, we had 5 tickets left, and Mia decided she wanted to ride the big slide with Mommy.  Travis actually video taped this, so this isn't the greatest of pictures, but Mia thought it was so much fun!  I was bit worried that she would chicken out when we got to the top as she's just now started going back down slides on her own.  But my worries were needless; I heard her giggling the entire way down!  If only the tickets didn't cost an arm and a leg, I'm sure we would have done more.  Maybe next year.

We finished our day by looking at the cows, horses, pigs, and sheep, and even saw some elephants.  There was a circus exhibit, and all I could do was think about Water for Elephants which my bookclub recently read.  Not quite the same, but still.

By that time we had on very sleepy little girl, so we took our time heading home to give her a chance to rest in the car.  We had a nice family dinner and then played at the playground at church while Daddy had a meeting.  All in all, it was a great day, and what I enjoyed most was making awesome memories with my family.  I hope that she can in years to come look back and remember the ways we celebrated the day we were united as a family.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Guess What [Finally] Came?

Our I-171H approval letter!  (For my friends who don't speak adoption-ese, this is the final document we were waiting on to complete our dossier.)  Our dossier is now finished and will be certified and UPS shipped to our agency tomorrow!  After 10 long, long months of waiting and paperchasing, we will finally go on the "list."

I honestly can't believe it has taken us so long to complete this part of the process.  I've never really shared why we've been so delayed and don't really plan on going into all the nitty-gritty details, but let's just say it wasn't by any choice of ours.  Having complied 2 dossiers prior, this should have been a piece of cake.  But, well, I just had to keep reminding myself that everything happens in God's time, and His time almost always seems to run slower than ours.  I feel like we started this process with such enthusiasm and excitement and then we were quickly tempered when we realized there were a few unexpected hurtles we'd have to overcome first.  I spent much of the first part of this adoption process feeling like a deflated balloon, but now I feel like the clock has begun ticking again and I am reminded of the baby boy who will someday (soon) become my son.

I don't want to give the illusion that I always have great perspective on life (you really need my husband for that), but looking at where we are in life now I can see some of the blessings God has given us by "delaying" things.  First, I'm pretty sure that if I had to board a 18 hour flight with Mia right now, I'd poke my eye out.  Well, maybe not really, but this stage of toddlerhood has been quite challenging for us all.  I can see how we will reap the fruits of our labor in disciplining her in 8 or 9 months from now.  Second, Travis should be almost done with school when we bring him home.  This is a pretty obvious blessing, and as we look forward to whatever the next stage in our life will be after school, having him come home then will be better for us all.

I'll end with a humorous note.  Today we went to have our passport pictures taken (not for our actual passports but for our dossier) and we decided to go ahead and have Mia's picture taken since we do need to get her a passport.  I wondered how they would do this, but the nice girl at Walgreens just yanked the white screen to the ground and had Mia stand front and center.  We all called, directed, and "cheesed!" as you do with any toddler who seems to look everywhere but the camera and finally got a good shot, when another employee came up and said, "No, she can't smile.  They have new rules."  Um, how do you tell a 2 year old not to smile?  Oh, and she also had to keep her lips together.  So I leave you with the result of instructing my 2 year old daughter not to smile and keep her lips shut.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

M.I.A. (Missing in Action)

I cannot believe it has been two long months since my last post.  Time seems to fly by us at warp speed, especially as Mia continues to get bigger and bigger each day.  Let me give you a rundown of what has transpired with the Taylor's:

Adoption Dance
First, I never officially posted how our Adoption Dance fundraiser turned out: it was awesome!  We had so many people turn out to spend the evening with us, and everyone had a great time.  I was afraid the whole thing might seem kind of lame, but we had lots of compliments on how fun the evening was.  We had oodles of desserts for our buffet, our great friends and DJ Kenton and Emily Smith rocked the dance floor, and our auction turned into quite the event.  When Jana and I closed bidding at 8:30, people were anxiously standing by "their" item to make sure no one else snaked them!  Together with the Hennessy's, we raised over $3000, which is over $1500 for each of our families!  We were completely blown away and moved by the generosity of all our friends, family, and church family.

The Big 3-0
Yes, I finally turned 30.  Although I was not exactly looking forward to this birthday as I have to those in the past, it turns out 30 isn't so bad.  The actual day started out with 30 free minutes before Bible study to myself, in which I treated myself (and BFF Shari who's bday is the day after mine) to Starbucks.  I also received flowers from no less than 3 different friends, and a subscription to People magazine from my mom.  Is it sad that I am almost most excited about People?  The following weekend my hubby planned a date night for us, which began with coffee while walking along Mass Ave and later turned into a surprise dinner party with some of my closest friends, sister, brother-in-law, and brother.  Overall, it was a great end to this year's birthday celebrations.

Operation Baby Boy Taylor
Is still painfully underway.  After a frustrating run in with Immigration, we have finally been fingerprinted and are anxiously awaiting our I-171H approval letter.  It's been over 2 weeks, so we're hoping it'll arrive in the next week or so.  And with that, our dossier will finally be complete.  I am so ready to have all this out of our hands and just to be waiting.
While we wait, we'll be planning a few more fund-raising opportunities, one being a garage sale sometime over the summer.  One other big thing is a matching grant opportunity with Lifesong for Orphans.  This would be a BIG deal if we received it, and they are currently processing our application, so any prayers would be appreciated.

And lastly, we just opened our Just Love Coffee fund-raising store.  I meant to do this sooner, but never really found the right time.  This awesome company was started by a fellow AWAA dad who wanted to help other adoptive families raise money through the sales of fair-trade coffee.  Here's how it works: visit our store front (see the link to the right), and for every bag of coffee purchased, we receive $5 towards our adoption.  Pretty cool, right?  And we'll keep this open through the rest of our adoption process, which could be quite a while yet. 

Working Girl
Yes, it's true.  It was with great fear and trepidation that I returned to work full-time with Xerox (and now you know the real reason why the blog has suffered more than normal).  While I had been quietly looking around for something else that paid a bit more than retail, I wasn't really looking to go back; the whole opportunity just fell into my lap and everything happened so fast I didn't really even have time to tell many people until it was a done deal.  I will admit that the week leading up to my return, I was a wreck.  This was just not what I had planned for our life.  I was grieving the end of my semi-stay at home mommy era and the end of life as we knew it.  I was worried about how Mia would transition to my being gone so much more, spending one day a week at daycare, and how I would learn to juggle new responsibilities with my current ones.  Thankfully I was able to negotiate my return with a bit of flexibility, so I am working from home two days a week.
How are we four weeks in?  Turns out, I actually really enjoy being back.  Everyone at work was happy to see me return, and although I'm dog tired by 9pm, it's working out well for us all.

So that's our life in a nutshell.  Travis continues to work and develop his ministry and is busy finishing up his remaining credits this fall.  Mia continues to grow a little bigger each day and is definitely in her "terrible twos," which is in one sense awful because some days it feels like she spends the entire day in time-out, but in another sense incredible when I think back how much she has changed since last summer.  Life continues on, and we are becoming more and more excited for the day when our son will finally join us.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Are You Doing Next Saturday?

If your answer is, "Nothing," or "I don't know," and you're in the Indianapolis area, you should come to a fun filled evening at our Love Makes a Family benefit dance!  The evening is for the entire family, complete with dancing, dessert buffet, silent auction, and activities & games for the kids.  Dancing is certainly not a prerequisite.  Come enjoy an evening of fellowship as we raise funds to help bring our son and the Hennessy's daughter home from Ethiopia. 

Tickets are just $5 a person, with a maximum of $25 a family.  The dance starts at 6:30pm and runs until 9:00pm at our church, Mt. Auburn United Methodist, in Greenwood.  Along with dancing and desserts, we'll also have a silent auction full of goodies.  Just to tempt you, some of the items we'll have up for auction include:
  • 4 weeks of classes at Gymboree Play & Music
  • Private Wine Tasting for you and 20 friends at Mallow Run Winery
  • A private suite at a Fever game
  • Photography packages from 3 different Indianapolis photographers
  • Lots of gift certificates to your favorite restaurants
  • Beautiful handmade items
  • & LOTS more!
If you haven't already purchased your tickets, you can do so by using the link to the right, or by emailing:  If you'd like to help us out by bringing a dessert of any kind, just send us an email letting us know what you'd like to bring. 

Please come out and help support our families and the ministry of adoption!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Finally Moving Forward

I wanted to share a few things related to our current adoption.  I know I haven't really blogged about it for awhile, but there hasn't been too much to tell.  We started the process back in the fall, and then found ourselves in a holding pattern while we waited for tax time to roll around (for various reasons, but mostly for Uncle Sam's refund!)  Our taxes were filed over two weeks ago and our process is now moving again!  We've finished up our final 3 visits with our social worker with lightening speed (just another joy of the adoption process - while we were waiting, the rules changed yet again and we had to meet with her a total of 4 times instead of just twice.  She was awesomely understanding, and in order to keep us going, set up our last 3 meetings at our home.)

So now she's furiously writing our homestudy so we can file our pre-immigration paperwork with the US government.  And once we are fingerprinted and receive our magical I-171H back from USCIS, our dossier will finally be sent off to Ethiopia.  We're hoping this could be sometime in April.  Ironically, our last DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) date for Mia was 5/8/08.  Wouldn't it be strange to end up around the same time again?

And then our "official" wait begins again.  Infant boy referrals have increased slightly to 5-7 months wait, but I'm really not worrying too much about it, which is not at all like my personality and totally unlike our first time around.  While I am super excited to be done with all this paperwork and being scrutinized, and also to see my son's face and return to Ethiopia, part of me is a little sad that my one-on-one time with Mia will be coming to an end.   It took us a good while to get into a good rountine and adjust to all the change, and while she and I certainly have our moments, we're having a great time together.  She's at such a fun stage, and I love the flexibility that comes with her growing age.

That doesn't mean I'm not excited to bring our son home, I just know it'll be some major adjustments for us all.  The end result will totally be worth it, and I know Mia will be the best big sister ever.  

We've also got some more fundraising events scheduled in the coming months, the biggest being our Love Makes a Family Adoption Dance, which we are co-hosting with our friends' the Hennessy's on Saturday, April 9th.  The evening will include dancing, desserts, a silent auction, and of course more infomation about adoption.  See our new tab across the top for more detailed info.  You can purchase tickets either via email or through our Paypal link to the right.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Not a Baby Anymore!

It's hard to believe that our baby is no longer a baby anymore!  Last Tuesday, Mia turned 2 (which she can tell you and indicate by holding up one finger from each hand :) 
Although her party isn't until this weekend and Travis has school Tuesday evenings (which equals very little Daddy time for the day), we wanted to make the day special anyway.  I mean, how often do you turn 2?

As soon as we heard her start to stir, I went up to get her while Travis readied our camera.  As I greeted her with, "Happy Birthday Mia!" she promptly looked at me and said, "Mommy, cake today?  Present?"  She's a smart one, I tell you. 

We debated on whether or not to give her her present first thing in the morning or to wait until dinner, but as soon as she saw it on our ottoman, there was no stopping her.

I love how when she starts concentrating really hard, her tongue always sticks out.  It was one of the first things we noticed in her referral picture.
Letting Mommy show me how to "bake" the cookies.
She is in love with gloves of all kinds (including socks which she will turn into "glubs") and now she has her very own hot pad.
Many of you wanted to see the "special" cupcakes I made for her birthday day.  They're really nothing too special, other than I made them from scratch.  I thought they turned out simple yet girly.
And really, if you're going to be self-indulgent, you might as well do it on your birthday, right?  So yes, we had cupcakes for breakfast.

And fortunately for me, this girl like the idea of cupcakes more than the cupcake itself, so after a few licks of icing, she asked me to "save it for later."
Later that morning we had our class at Gymboree, so I made sure we wore our birthday girl shirt.  All her little friends and teacher sang to her (which she loves), and then I made chicken and noodles (her favorite) for dinner.  After Daddy left for school, we played more with her new cookies and I did a little photo shoot (and I mean that very living room and artificial light do not make for stellar pics).  Can you believe how big she is getting?

Speaking of big, we also took her for her 2 year old check up on Friday.  She weighs in at 26 pounds and 33.5 inches long, right around the 50 percentile for both.  She's meeting all her milestones, except for maybe dressing herself, but that's not been a skill I've been particularly nurturing.  I had to crack up though when the nurse asked if she was putting 2 words together.  Um, just 2?  We get paragraphs from this kid.  She's incredibly articulate, and I'm just in awe of how she's adjusted to life.

It's somewhat easy for us to forget that she's adopted, to forget that there ever was a time in her life that she wasn't with us.  And I take some comfort knowing that she won't remember that time.  We love her so, so much that it's beyond words.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: she is our daughter.  Period.  But, it seems that for every milestone, every anniversary, every major event that happens in her life, we are brought back to that sobering remembrance.  I don't want to dwell on it everyday, all day long, but it's not something that we can pretend doesn't exist.  We are quickly approaching the time when she will start to ask us questions, and I'm sure our answers will be through both tears of joy and sadness.  Adoption is certainly a lifelong journey, not just a process that ends with a court decree. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Hot Stuff

What do you do when winter seems to be dragging on a bit too long?  You get desperate enough to bring an outside toy in, grab some shades and a pretty bracelet (and don't forget lovey!) and watch your daughter discover the fun we've been missing.

I know it's supposed to Wordless Wednesday, but this one cracks me up.  Look closely at her left hand.  She's wearing a hot pad, and holding both a play cup and her snack cup with cereal bar.  Just in case either one is steaming hot.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Christmas Celebrations

Well I didn't quite make my goal of catching everything up last week, so I decided to lump together some of our Christmas celebrations into one big post.  (New Year's Resolution #274: Take more picutres of my rapidly growing girl so that we have more pictures to post!)

First, we decided to take advantage of Indianapolis' 12 Free Days of Christmas, and took Mia to the Indiana State Museum to ride the Polar Express train.  We actually had a big group of friends going, but Cooper starting running a fever that morning, and baby Miles decided he'd rather party all night than let his poor Mommy sleep.  So we ended up with our BFFs Savannah and Joe (affectionately referred to as Joe-Joe by Mia), and still had a great time.  Savannah and Joe were pros, as this was their second year to ride the train.  After waiting in a very short line, I quickly found out that Mia Jane is not so into riding on moving objects.  I had to ride in the train car with her, holding her in my lap.  After one ride, she announced, "All done Mommy!"  Fortunately, she loved just watching the other kids and was eager to wait while Savannah and Joe rode a few more times.  I had never been to the State Museum, so we took the kids to a couple more exhibits before heading home.  We (the mommies) all wanted to explore the Titanic exhibit, but you had to pay an additional fee, and we were pretty sure we'd have more luck without our kiddos, so we decided to try that one again later.  It was a fun (and free!) morning, and I hope we can go again next year.

We tried to get all 4 kiddos (including Joe's baby brother Will) together on Santa's sleigh for a picture. It was really a good idea in theory... 

Mia: "My nose itches, Mommy!"  Savannah: "I can't look at the camera Aunt Sarah.  That would be too easy!"

Joe: Savannah, you look down on the count of 3 with me.  Mia, you look straight at the camera and smile.  That'll frustrate them some more!

The result of telling them to say, "Elmo!" instead of cheese.

One thing (among many) that I love about Christmas is getting to spend time with those you don't see as much of throughout the year.  I know it makes the month of December crazy busy, especially when you've got a little one whose schedule you keeping messing up, but I was willing to forsake schedule to spend the evening with our dear friends the Smiths.  Travis and I are the godparents to their daughter Gabby, and since Emily went back to teach this fall (and because both our lives are hectic in general) we haven't seen much of them at all.  We had a great time watching the girls play, celebrating Gabby's (4th!) birthday a little late, and catching up with our friends.  Gabby was so good with Mia, which is impressive considering their age difference.  I was the oldest on both sides of my family, so I remember well having to play with all my much younger cousins.  It ain't so easy, let me tell you.  Lots of, "They're little, they don't understand, you are bigger so you need to share."  But Gabby was so patient, loving, and maternal.  I still can't believe she is four!

Playing dress up.  I think we need to get a hat like this.

So sweet.

Gabby is all smiles for the camera.


Our girls together
Last for this huge post, every year our church hosts a breakfast with St. Nick.  Travis and I have been working at them for the last several years, and last year I brought Mia even though she was still a bit young for the event.  This year, I was so excited because she's starting to understand more and more about Christmas, and we've watched The Polar Express about a dozen times, so we know who Santa is.  The morning starts out with breakfast, followed by crafts, games, and activities, and completed with a visit with St. Nick himself.  Unfortunately, Daddy was unable to join us for breakfast, so Papaw and Grandma Paschall came with Mommy and Mia. 

Mia was very excited to see Santa from the outset.  She waved and pointed and kept saying, "Santa!  Ho ho ho!"  I was optimistic that she'd do better this year as we had pretty good luck with Santa at the mall:
Note: My husband does not endorse the scanning of professional pictures and forbid me to post this anywhere.  However, you can't actually buy a digital image from the mall, so I feel justified in only posting it here.
 But as you can see, the actual visit with St. Nick didn't go too well.  Oh well, I guess there's next year, right?


Here's a few more pictures from the morning.  After our failed visit with Santa, we ran into our friend Savannah, and then did a few crafts with Grandma.


Making Christmas ornaments with Grandma Paschall

We love our Papaw and Grandma!