First birthday already! I can't believe it! Ephraim has been a part of our family nearly three months now. The past weeks have flown just as quickly as the weeks waiting to bring our little boy home from Vietnam crept. He has made so much progress since he's been home. In Vietnam he couldn't suck a bottle, wasn't eating any finger foods and couldn't sit unassisted. Now he can suck down a bottle in a matter of minutes and can eat anything - including pizza. He can sit cross legged and on his knees, and he's able to pull up to a standing position and lower himself back down. He can crawl VERY quickly and should be cruising any day now. He's still a very solemn little guy who never laughs and offers smiles only a couple of times a day, but he's very attached to us all and is nearly always cheerful. We have been so blessed!
We are planning one big blow-out party next week! We are taking the entire family to Six Flags Over Georgia. There will be seventeen of us! All twelve kids are going, one granddaughter, one son-in-law, one "fiance-in-law", Ben and me. Besides the twins' birthday yesterday, my birthday was June 20th, Riley's birthday was July 1st, Ephraim's is on July 27th, Bailey's is August 7th, Logan's is August 12th and Jensen's is August 20th. Eight birthdays within two months! Besides that, we have Logan leaving for a year in Germany on August 4th, Sasha leaving for Oakdale on August 17th and Griffin leaving for Wake Forest on August 21st. We asked all the kids what they wanted for one big birthday party/going away party, and Six Flags was their choice. I haven't been to Six Flags since I was a teenager, and I think I'm looking forward to it at least as much as the children are!
Today was the twins' birthday. Seven years ago today was an exciting but nerve-wracking time! We'd received THE CALL from Julie at CHI telling us there were twin girls scheduled to be born the following day by c-section. She wanted to know if we'd be interested even though we'd requested a single infant male. CHI had done a nationwide search because they didn't have anyone on their waiting list willing or able to adopt infant twins from Guatemala. We were called just one hour before their office closed for the weekend, so I got on the phone to Ben, begged him to leave work immediately, and we talked for only about 15 minutes before calling Julie back. On the day the twins were born, we heard nothing from CHI, which drove me nearly batty! Three days after the call, we received a half dozen cute pictures and a quick email telling us they were deciding between our family and another family. One LONG week later we were told they were ours! Fourteen VERY LONG months later we were finally able to fly to Guatemala to bring our girls home.
Today was Ephraim's Early Intervention evaluation. Even though he is supposed to qualify automatically due to his prematurity, the TEIS folks seem to want to ignore the medical information we received from Vietnam and only allow him to qualify based on their tests. Of course, during the evaluation today, Ephraim managed to accomplish activities he's never even attempted before now. He even placed two puzzle pieces in the correct spots on a shape puzzle! The tester would ask if he could do something, I would shake my head, and voila, Ephraim would do it. How embarrassing!! We're supposed to hear the results in five to ten days.
It is already time for our first post-adoption report! That's hard to believe! On one hand it seems like it was just last week we were still in Vietnam, but on the other hand it feels like Ephraim has been a part of our family for a very long time. As part of our post-adoption report we have to provide three copies each of five different pictures. Four of the pictures were no problem because we've already amassed hundreds. The problem was the required picture of Ben, Ephraim and me all in the same shot. I'm always the photographer, so we're never all three in the same shot! After church this afternoon we got Bailey to take some pictures while we were still in our "Sunday-go-to-meeting" clothes. I think they turned out pretty good. Since everyone complains that I'm the invisible blogger, here's some pictures of me. I really do exist!
We received Ephraim's State of Tennessee Report of Foreign Birth yesterday in his new American name! That was much quicker and less painless than I had imagined! Initially we contacted a lawyer in town who had recently adopted a baby girl from Vietnam because we were afraid trying to take care of the paperwork ourselves would be frustrating with lots of false starts. Besides Ephraim's name change and re-adoption, we needed to re-adopt Sasha, although he didn't need a name change. The lawyer was going to charge us $1200.00 for the two boys plus costs! So ... Ben contacted Chancery Court to find out where to file the paperwork, I pulled out Barrett and Keaton's Final Order of Adoption from back when lawyers and a court appearance were required, and I used their paperwork as a framework. A couple of weeks later we received a letter from the state informing us that the paperwork was incorrect, but when we contacted them, we found out that our county hadn't applied their official seal before forwarding the Final Order of Adoption to the state. I got it right the first time and the county messed up!
We had a great weekend! Bradford came into town, which is a rare occurrence. He's a full-time student at Georgia Tech, and he plays in a praise and worship band every Sunday morning and evening. It's just too hard for him to drive five hours home from Atlanta for a one-day's visit. The last time he was home was Christmas. Bailey baked a blueberry pie out of our homegrown blueberries that Barrett, Keaton and Reid have been picking each day for a week. Bailey and Brad talked Ben into fireworks, and the three of them shot them off after dark. So many of our neighbors had fireworks though that we really had a show!
Barrett and Keaton decided they needed their room updated to establish their all-grown-up, new-big-sister status. Since I spent so much time getting Ephraim's room all fixed up, I didn't want them to feel like second-class citizens, so we let them pick out their paint, and I found some great Pottery Barn bedspreads on craigslist. I love craigslist! The girls wanted their rooms to be ultra-girly, and I think that has been achieved all the way down to the "Princess" decals and chandelier. We got rid of all their "baby" things, and I distressed their furniture. That's the first time I've tried that, and I managed to sand my fingernails down to nubs in the process. The only thing left to do is steel wool their floors, re-poly the finish and find them a new rug suitable for their new princess status.
After we finished the library, we remodeled my office. I still had the office set up with two desks and two computers because a couple of years ago I had an assistant for several months. The office was WAY too small for all that furniture, so I wanted something pretty since I sit at that desk and do Ben's medical billing several hours a day. The pictures don't do the room justice because of the dark walls, but I have really enjoyed the new environment. I've had the desk for about 20 years, but it had been pickled white in the 1980's. I stripped it and stained it mahogany and painted the walls "gooseberry". The two chairs are from an antique parlor set we've also had about 20 years, and the rug had been in Logan's bedroom under her bed.
While we were waiting for Ephraim to join our family, I had to do something to take my mind off the wait, so I began redecorating our house. We built the house ourselves over 12 years ago, and we were so tired by the time we finished the work that we simply painted the entire house off white and hadn't ever gone back to redecorate. After 12 years of no color, I decided to go bold! I worked on the library first because I was tired of not being able to lay my hands on a book when I needed it. I started out by putting all the books in proper Dewey Decimal order, which led to painting, which led to a new sofa, which led to a better overhead light, which led to ... You know what happens "When You Give A Mouse A Cookie". I found the sofa on craigslist and the knick knacks on sale at TJ Maxx, Pier One, Hobby Lobby and thrift stores. Many of them though we've had for years and years. The library table came from Salvation Army and the coffee table came from freecycle. The drapes were 70% off from JCPenny.com. We've had the lounge chair more than ten years now. I think the most expensive thing in the room was the paint! Of course I've had the books for years, and it's obvious I'm a fanatic for books. Most of them came from library sales, thrift stores, the Goodwill Outlet Center, yard sales and freecycle. Many of the home school books I needed in order to complete a particular curriculum, so they came from ebay or sellers on Amazon. I think it all turned out pretty good for very little money!
I'm a work-at-home mom of thirteen children ranging in age from twenty-six years old to five months old. Eight are home grown and five were adopted internationally (Russia, Guatemala, Vietnam and Ethiopia). We live on an 85-acre farm, and we have home schooled since 1986. My husband is a family physician in solo practice. I manage his practice and file the insurance claims.