Thursday, January 31, 2008

Just Another Ordinary Day...????

It's been almost a year since we announced on our blog that we were in the process of adopting a little girl named Sara. (See Feb 13th 2007 post.)

Sweet Sara... she touched our hearts the first time we saw her face.
What very few of you know is that our paperwork had already been started for Sara several months before... and for us... we had already committed our hearts to her in September of 2006 right before she turned 7 years old.

We knew that starting another adoption, especially so soon after bringing McCaleb home, would be taxing and emotional. But then again... I think that is just the nature of adoption. Looking back on it, I can honestly say that we really expected her home long before now. However, God always has a plan - and we trust that His way is always perfect.

My own personal goal in this entire process was just to do my best to bring honor to Him throughout the process, not to get too stressed-out or overly anxious... and to trust in Him and His perfect timing. I hope that I have done this. I know that I have had a few tense moments... and I readily admit that the passing of the Ortega Law stressed me out, especially intially... but I really want to praise Him for giving me such a sense of peace about the entire process. I have been confident that Sara would come home... but the factor of "WHEN" was something that I haven't been able to determine. Still... keeping with the "tone" of my favorite movie FACING THE GIANTS... I hope that I have been able to Praise Him in the good times - and Praise Him in the bad times. (Like I said in my "Adoption: The Death Crawl" post... GO BUY THIS MOVIE AND WATCH IT OVER AND OVER!)

So today... I want to Praise Him some more. I am truly blessed. I have a family that loves and supports me. I am blessed with a husband that loves me completely and unconditionally. I have four amazing children - that have taught me so much... and blessed me more than you can imagine! I am blessed with good friends... some are here close by... and some live far away. Some I have known my whole life... and others I have met through the wonderful process of adoption. Mostly I am blessed by a God that gave His life for me...a sinner...and so unworthy of that gift. I truly hope that I can bring honor and glory to Him.

We are about to have a huge weekend with our family.
It will be the 4-Year Anniversary of our Forever Family Day with the girls.
It only seems appropriate that tonight, as I was getting ready to LOG OFF and go to bed ... that I get the email that we have been waiting for.
That's right... THE EMAIL... it was finally the BIG ONE.

It read something like this:

Just received word you have PGN Approval.



OK. It wasn't lengthy, it didn't go into details... but it gave us that message that we have been waiting for: SARA IS COMING HOME!

God is so GOOD!

We still have hurdles to clear. We have a 2nd DNA test, then we wait for our PINK SLIP. (Remember the US Embassy Fiasco with McCaleb's paperwork???) So it will still be several weeks.

But tonight, we are praising God for His faithfulness to us and our committment to Sara and bringing her home.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thank God! I'm A Country Girl!

This photo of Sunny has absolutely nothing to do with this post... she is just so "doggone" cute! Ha Ha!
I sure do like living in the country! Don't get me wrong... there's a lot of extra work that goes into it... but we sure do have fun.
Even growing up - despite the fact that we were in Lexington... I grew up out by the Ky Horse Park with enough room to roam and only had neighbors on one side. Tim has always said he'd like to have at least 600 acres - and then build right smack dab in the middle of it. I believe he'd do it, too! (Note in the photo below... Eagle is on the LEFT... Tony is on the RIGHT. Look at how light Eagle is getting!!)
(Note in the photo below... Jesse is on the far left...after checking all the feed buckets for last dribbles of grain... he heads down to chase all the horses away from the hay bale.)
As far as the chores go... the kids already help with those. Ali is by far the best "pooper-scooper"... don't laugh... there is a guy that makes six figures in Lexington doing it!!! I attribute it to her type-A (step-by-step, row-by-row, don't miss a spot) personality. Rachel is by far the best with the dogs. She has a natural way with the animals. McCaleb wants to please... so he gives every task his all...but his skills have yet to be determined. He just likes anything that involves power or motors.
(Note in THESE photos... Rachel, who is supposed to be the GATE KEEPER... is riding on Tim's back. Maybe not as much help as I had planned... but still fun!)
So today - when it was time to put out a new round bale of hay for the horses... it was Rachel's turn to help. (Yes, we have to keep track... McCaleb thinks the tractor is HIS and his alone.)
She loves to do anything with her Daddy... and loves to do anything having to do with the animals. I have to say, though... I send the kids to H-E-L-P. They are supposed to open the gate... hold the gate... shut the gate... basically it's all about gate-duty. Watching Rachel and Tim tonight... I think that they help might be more of a hindrance than they are a help.
Despite that... she sure did have fun.
That is one happy little girl!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Flying SOLO

It's been a long time coming... but today Tim completed his solo flight. It's not that he didn't want to finish before now. I think he started his very first flight (ever) in 1992. It was more of a whim... although he really wanted his pilot's license... he also had many other extra-curricular activities. Finally, he decided to get "serious" about it in 2003, when he met Kelvin Combs - and began to fly on a more regular basis. As chance would have it... and as things seem to go for us... there were your typical (and not so typical) delays. Hi-Tech, while being a wonderful business for us and providing us with many blessings and even more opportunities, takes a lot of Tim's time. Then we had the summer of chaos. I think Tim suffered from 4 bouts of kidney stones and had to have 2 surgeries... and that's also when I was kicked by my horse and suffered a fractured pelvis. Definitely a summer we don't care to repeat.

That fall we traveled to visit our girls for the first time... and our life has been going at interstate speeds ever since. As we approach our 4th year of having the girls home with us... we are also completing our 4th adoption in 4 years. WOW!

So, flying had to take a back seat for a while.

But, like anything else... when you have a passion for something... you find yourself being pulled that way, and the yearning never really leaves. So, Tim decided to get back in the pilot's seat and complete his training.

So... let's see...15 years, 5 instructors, 4 kidney stones, two surgeries, one broken hip (not his), 3 (almost 4) children home, 2 simulator rides, 7 different aircraft and untold hours which we will not translate into dollar amounts... (for MY benefit)... and finally Tim completed his first solo flight this very COLD, cloudy and more than a little windy morning!

And what do you get for all that effort?? A tiny little card... that says he also must "possess" corrective lenses while in the aircraft. :) So, we finally got to solo... and now we are headed out to Wal-Mart to buy some reading glasses. It kinda stinks getting old. :)

Tim and Kelvin did take me and the girls up for a flight on Father's Day 2005... but McCaleb has yet to take a trip in the air with his Daddy. Hopefully we can talk Kelvin into making this trip with us again so that the little man can go up in the air with his Daddy!


Friday, January 25, 2008

Family Fun Night

We have a few family traditions that are sacred... one is BIRTHDAYS and another is FOREVER FAMILY DAYS. These are a very big deal with us - and we celebrate them in a big way.

The other thing that we love, love, love to do... is have Family Fun Night. This is when we get a bath early, get our PJ's on, and have a picnic in the floor of the Great Room while watching a movie. One of my favorite times! It reminds me of Sunday afternoons growing up when Mom would make a big pot of chili and some grilled cheese sandwiches, set up a table in the Family Room, and we would all lay around and eat all afternoon long. Good times... great memories.

Instead of chili... we usually have pizza or taco ring. (Sadly... mine doesn't always look as pretty as this picture I took from the Pampered Chef Cookbook... but it still tastes great!) This weekend, we substituted the TACO beef for the recipe for the "Chicken Bistro Twist". If you want more info on these great recipes... give Cynthia a shout. She has all the low-down on the tasty PC recipes available.) It was WONDERFUL! We had that, chips and Salsa... and for dessert we ate Banana Creme Brownie Squares. Can you say, YUM????

For this weekend's entertainment, we watched the movie, "The Game Plan". I was a little skeptical at first. It stars Dwayne "The ROCK" Johnson. He used to be a professional wrestler... so I thought it might be a little much for a 3, 5 and 6 year old. However, Ali and I had seen it on the flight from Charlotte to Guatemala... and it was really cute. I highly recommend it.

At the end of the night... the kids decided that they wanted to have an impromptu slumber party...McCaleb's idea. We pulled out everyone's sleeping bags, made a palate on the floor...and gave it a shot. Everyone started off in the right places... and were snuggled as snug-as-a bug-in-a-rug. Then things began to fall apart. First, McCaleb couldn't sleep next to Rachel - and wanted to go upstairs to his bed. (True to form, he won't ever stay in bed with me for more than 15 or 20 minutes.) He came up on the couch with me and fell asleep within 5 minutes. Then Ali tried very hard to fall asleep... and Rachel rolled around like a maniac for 30 minutes. I finally gave Rachel the 5 minute warning... and as soon as she stayed still... and I mean literally AS SOON AS SHE QUIT MOVING... she fell asleep. Ali... was still trying. Then Tim laid down next to Rachel... and between all 5 of them (did I mention Molly was inside, too?) there was some serious snoring going on. Well... except for Ali. Bless her heart. I don't know if it was her effort to TRY SO HARD, or the fact that she can NOT sleep if it is warmer than about 64 degrees, and we had a fire going... but she was sweating like crazy. I asked if she wanted to go to her bed, and she was up and on the stairs in a matter of seconds. She got in her bed and was fast asleep within 5 minutes.

When I came back... I moved McCaleb to Ali's spot, made a bed on the couch... and we settled in for the night. No one even woke up this morning when Tim left early! I think that they really enjoyed it... and as soon as the "crick" in my neck gets better... we might do it again.

You know what, though? I wouldn't trade the crick in my neck for anything. My kids are a blast... and I am so blessed to have this time with them!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bad Moon Rising

I love classic rock. I personally don't consider it classic... but since you can put Antique License plates on any vehicle that is at least 25 years old... I guess that it IS, in fact, classic rock.

I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin.
I see bad times today.

Chorus:Dont go around tonight,
Well, its bound to take your life,
Theres a bad moon on the rise.

I hear hurricanes ablowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.

I hear the voice of rage and ruin.

Hope you got your things together.
Hope you are quite prepared to die.
Looks like were in for nasty weather.
One eye is taken for an eye.

Over the past 4 years... this song from CCR has taken on new meaning to me. I used to think it was a peppy, happy sounding tune with kind of a dark and imposing message. Now... all I can hear is: I see trouble on the way.

OK... there were a LOT of things that I was skeptical about when we began reading the dozens of books and articles about adoption. I will admit it. I didn't really buy into the "anniversary anxiety" or a lot of the adjustment issues. I also never really thought bonding would be an issue. As much as we loved our children - they would absolutely love us back. It was just natural. We were not going to have any problems. Right? WRONG. I am a converted believer. I totally and whole-heatedly try to use my adoption experience as a platform to share with other people the many, many things that I think we learned here in the Hanks Household the "hard" way.

But what about the MOON? We grew up with the Man-In-The-Moon, Hey Diddle Diddle the Cat and the Fiddle, and "I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me... God Bless the Moon and God Bless Me". HA!

However, now I have new opinions of the moon. The moon - is not my friend. This is not a new concept to those of you in the educational field. I am sure that you can relate that there is a marked change in children and their behavior during the full moon. I have heard of these things... and again I shrugged them off as folklore... or a wives tale, if you will. No more.

I can assure you that I not only KNOW when the moon is at its fullest... I can tell you the week prior to it - that it is coming... and I can do this all based on the behavioral changes of Ali, our 6 year old child. There is not only a marked difference in her personality... there are significant physical characteristics that change about her, as well. These could be that she sleeps much less, and when she does sleep - it is fitful and cannot be restful. But her eyes take on a more vacant and hollow look. She also presents more agitated and aggressive behavior - acting out in ways that will not be blogged about - but are difficult to watch as her mother, and even harder to understand. These are all things that some day I hope that I can document and track better than I do now... but at this time in her life I feel it would make her too self-conscious. She already struggles to get through this week.

So what is it about the moon and it's PULL on my child? Tim and I kid all the time that she is part werewolf... but really... what IS THE DIFFERENCE and where can I find more information about how to help her get through these times that are obviously so stressful???

Any suggestions?

In the meantime... I wish that I could embrace the moon like my little friend, Brayden. He loves the moon - and everything about it. I thought of him tonight as I was looking out my window, singing my new mantra, "I see the moon and the moon sees me... I hate the moon 'cause the moon hates me."

Maybe John Fogerty said it better..."I see bad times today..." (or tomorrow...)

Either way.... there's a bad moon on the rise.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Trio Day 5 - THE END... Coming Home

It is a bittersweet ending to the week. We have run the gamet of emotions... and to say that we are tired is an understatement! We are so very thankful to Krystal for including us in this journey! To get to spend time with Krystal and her precious sons was so much fun, and such a blessing! It was wonderful for Ali, for me... and for Sara... because she was able to spend time with her family from Guatemala (the boys) and her family that is waiting for her in Kentucky! It was a long week, and emotional week... and it was sad to leave. But upon arriving home... and coming down the escaltor in Lexington...we were greeted by Tim (big mug of fresh iced tea in his hands...) and Rachel and McCaleb (holding a sign that said "WELCOME HOME! WE LOVE YOU!" Leaving Guatemala was hard... but it makes it easier when you have something so sweet to come home TO!

Trio Day 5 - Saying Goodbye

Unless you've actually been to visit your child, and then had to leave them behind... it's difficult to understand the emotions that you experience. It was certainly a difficult day... and one that I knew was coming all week long. However, I have to say that we all did a pretty good job of holding things together.

It was emotional for me for more reasons than one. Watching Ali have to say good-bye to her big sister was heartbreaking. She was a real trooper. She never cried... she told me on the airplane later that she felt really sad but knew that it would make it harder for Sara if we cried, so she didn't. She did tear up on the plane one time... but then she started to talk about getting home to see Daddy, Rachel and McCaleb - and she perked back up.

Seeing all the children - and especially the babies - was a wonderful experience for Ali. She talked a lot about how they would smile and wave... and that she was really glad that the place that Sara was living was nice and clean. She also noticed things like their beds (that were all made) and that they must have a lot of dishes to wash and clothes to keep clean.

Saying good-bye was hard... but we know that it isn't forever.