Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Flowering of the Cross

If you read my last post, you saw the beautiful flowered cross displayed at my childhood church in Nashville over Easter. I thought I'd explain the whole tradition:

On the first Sunday in Lent, some strong person brings the bare cross up the aisle, places it before the altar and hammers two nails into either side. The cross remains there throughout Lent, and each Sunday an item is added to it symbolizing elements of the crucifixion:
- a bag of coins representing Judas's betrayal of Jesus for 30 silver coins
- a crown of thorns
- a sponge tied to a stick representing the vinegar-soaked sponge offered to Jesus
- a black stole

On Easter morning, church members bring flowers -- from their gardens, picked wild or store-bought -- to adorn the cross. During Sunday School, the items are removed and the cross is flowered. It's a striking sight and quite a contrast from the solemn days of Lent.

The flowering of the cross has been a church tradition for several years. It's a powerful way to keep the story of Jesus's suffering, crucifixion and resurrection alive.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Yay Easter!

We had a really nice Easter with the family and our longtime friend Cathy from Houston (originally France). First, church in Nashville. My mom attempted to keep Caroline in the service. But when she clapped and shouted "YAY!" after two hymns, they made a quick trip to the nursery. Then lunch at my mom's. After we ate, Cathy tested our knowledge of the U.S. government with questions from her citizenship exam. For example, how long is a senator's term? And, what are the three branches of government? We actually did better than I thought we would. We toasted Cathy and her new status as an American citizen and reminisced about when she was an exchange student with us 24 years ago.

Below are: (1) Cathy and my mom in front of the flowered cross, which is a tradition at her church, (2) Caroline smelling the flowers on the cross and (3) our extended Baker family.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The caffeine experiment part 2

Today, 2 scoops regular and 4 scoops decaf. The morning was great. My mood was as cheerful as the bluebird sky over the valley, and I took my usual 10-mile bike ride. I wished I'd had a helmet cam to capture how beautiful our valley is. There's just a hint of green sprouting and everybody seemed to be out enjoying the warm weather. I saw about 8 canoes floating down Roaring River. Even the cows seemed happy. Yay, caffeine!

Five hours later, I took about 50 steps inside Wal-Mart and suddenly felt weak and noodly. I pushed on, shortening my list in my head. It felt like how I think sudden low blood sugar would feel. I grabbed a Powerade off a shelf thinking this has to fix things. It helped, but I still felt weird.

It wasn't until I was halfway home, after I'd stopped in a church parking lot to dig some crackers and cheese out of my bags, that caffeine crash occurred to me. My first thoughts were: I must really hate shopping (I like the idea of it, but I take one step inside a store crowded with chocolate bunny-seeking people and I want to turn and run) or I have a weird disease with intermittent symptoms.

I'm still not sure, but my increasing scoops sure coincided with afternoon weirdness. I'm going to have to journal this journey to find out for sure. Maybe tomorrow I'll go back to one scoop.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The caffeine experiment

My plan to get back on caffeine has not gone as smoothly as I'd hoped. I thought I'd be chugging the real thing by now, but even the smallest amount (1 scoop regular to 3 scoops decaf) messes with my sleep. I have to admit the mornings are great. I feel so happy and energetic. But the mildest jitter still accompanies me to bed. I'm just going to take it slow. It may be a year before we travel so I have plenty of time to wean back on.

All quiet on the adoption front. We've been waiting 3 weeks for our I-171H and still we wait.

A little family news: My sister-in-law Tara is pregnant with her second. Yay! She's due November 14. We were laughing about how she's quitting caffeine and I'm starting it, both for the sake of our babies.

My other sister-in-law Allison's boyfriend Shawn finds out today where he'll be doing his medical residency. What an amazing accomplishment! Congrats Shawn.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Random thoughts

It's been exciting to watch all my blog buddies hit new milestones in their adoption pursuits. Unless you're one of us, it's probably hard to imagine getting so pumped up over someone else's fingerprint appointment or arrival of I-171H. But we're really all on this journey together, and some of us may actually travel together in the coming months.

On our end, I've hit a lull in my drive for dossier completion, my passion for paperwork. We've got about 80% of our docs notarized, but I really need to organize and cross check and get the last few items ready in case our I-171H arrives TODAY! I just can't seem to get motivated to do it. Maybe on a subconscious level I'm thinking that if I'm not prepared, it will arrive faster. Then I can scramble to get everything together. I can't wait to get our dossier in the mail. I've been hauling my 10-pound expandable file back and forth to Nashville every week because I can't bear to have it out of my immediate reach. Soon!

This weekend we're going to a big party at the Johnson's farm next door. Peggy, one of the granddaughters, is turning 50 and a bunch of the family is coming to town. Next weekend, we're celebrating Easter at my mom's. A very good friend of the family, Cathy, is coming in from Texas. About 24 years ago, she lived with us as an exchange student (from Grenoble, France), and a couple of weeks ago she officially became an American citizen. So we're going to celebrate.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chattanooga weekend

Little C and I ventured through pea soup fog and threat of snow that would make Michiganers laugh to spend the weekend in Chattanooga with aunts, uncles and cousins. Uncle Steve and Aunt Amy got to spend a little time with their niece before I took her to visit Uncle Todd, Aunt Tara and cousin Savannah. I didn't take many pics, but took a short video clip of some fun play:

We tried to hit a couple neighborhood yard sales but people weren't too jazzed to stand in their garages in freezing weather, so the turnout wasn't so great. I did get a bargain: a Little People tricycle for $5.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A great idea

I've heard about people sending gifts to their child once they receive their referral. It's even encouraged, I think, in some of our training materials. But I learned at our last training session that it's unlikely your child will be able to keep all the gifts you send. It's just too challenging for some orphanages to keep up with items and prevent them from becoming common property.

But I heard about a family who made a small blanket for their child. They embroidered his given name and his new name on it, along with silkscreened photographs of all the family members. It became his most treasured possession, and it was so personalized his caregivers kept it safe for him.

What a great idea! I'm sure there are others.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Training - check!

We finished our Bethany training last night. It was the last of 8 sessions, and for this one we had to appear in person. There were three other couples with us, adopting from Ukraine, the Philippines and Russia. Two of them already had referrals.

We talked a lot about adjusting at home, dealing with grief, and the basics of creating a Lifebook. This is a scrapbook you compile throughout the adoption process that tells the child's story. It may include information about his caretakers and orphanage, photos and history of the country, mementos, even details about his circumstances presented in a positive way. I'll write more about it when I've had a chance to read up on it. I think it will be a good project to start once our dossier is on its merry way.

I have to say the training has been really good, but after 20+ hours, I'm ready for a break or just a sappy romance novel.

A word about I-171H's: You don't have to go far to get bad news, like our trainer who said her last one took 5 months and they had to get their congressman involved. She had some criticisms of USCIS too, but it appears things have improved since her last adoption. I'm feeling pretty positive we'll have our approval within the 8 weeks that they estimate.