Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All I want for Christmas is some extra sleep!

We are doing great. Really, we are! I am just very, very... very tired. Too much Christmas-ing, maybe? Too much being single mommy, maybe? Too much cheerleading to a boy with a cast and a fussy disposition? Too much redirecting-- and not always in a nice way--to five and seven year old boys who can't seem to stay on-task to save their life?

Probably all of it wrapped up in one. Oh well-- It's Beginning to look a Lot like Christmas... In Illinois, anyway :). Which is GOOD, because that is where we will be this year! So, I hope since we are to travel that way, my boys get to at least experience a sweet snow fall and some good old fashioned snowball fights! All while I sleep... because that is what I am SURE I am getting for Christmas ;).

Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pictures of our last week

Fun at the Animal Show at Busch Gardens

The Hippo that did Wyatt in (this is the play set on which Wyatt broke his hand)

At Shark Tooth beach on the Gulf side

Mommy and her boys at the Christmas Carol in Durham

Cool Cast

Happy Boys

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We've only been a LITTLE pre-occupied :)

I'm sure you have all been sitting on the edge of your seats for an update on Team Dragovich. I just knew it-- and I am soooo sorry to let your bum get sore :)

The truth is... we tried to stow away in Tony's Army baggage and head across the Big Pond with him. It almost worked, until his bags were weighed and each one came in WAY over the limit and... well... here we are. Back in NC!

Okay, that isn't what really happened-- I bet you're shocked. Really, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were so very thankful to have Daddy come home for a few days-- but it made saying goodbye again that much harder!! Fortunately, I didn't have too much time to wallow in my self-pity. The boys and I made and impromptu trip to Florida to visit a very dear friend of mine who was in the states for a couple of weeks. We haven't seen each other in four years and I would say it WAS ABOUT TIME!!! The boys and I made the 13 hour drive on Monday, played with our friends until Friday and then drove home. We had a SUPER time-- except for the part when Wyatt broke his hand at Busch Gardens in Tampa... on Tuesday. UGH! It ws not one of those obvious breaks, but when I finally did take him in to the ER (the next afternoon, of course!), there it was-- a spiral fracture on the bone connecting to his first finger-- forgive my lack of medical terminology... my husband is gone, you must suffer through my lame explanations of things (what would that be, the first meda-tarsil? Oh my, and I'm even spelling it all wrong!).

Well, anyway, other than the broken hand-- which sort of put a damper on things for Wyatt-- we had a lot of fun, and I'm so glad I braved the trip. I think I have not fully recovered, though. We sort of came home and hit the ground running-- and NOT the kind of running I would personally have preferred :) Saturday we went to Durham to see a theatre performance of the "Christmas Carol". Sunday I spent a large part of my day at church. Monday, we were at the hospital for many, many hours, trying to finalize Wyatt's hand situation. Today we had homeschool P.E.; and somewhere in there I have tried to make our home at least a LITTLE festive (we opted for no tree this year, since we will only be here for 2 weeks enjoy it, and all my boxes of Christmas are WAY up high and require an extension ladder and a Tony to haul them down), do the Christmas shopping, cram in some school--ha, ha! and whatever else seems to creep up. All I have to say is, "Praise the Lord for internet and FREE SHIPPING!!" ;D

To all my stalkers from IL, whom I just realized read my blog and don't post-- how naughty-- I am coming your way, so watch out!! I would love to catch up with you while we are in town, so shoot me an email or something! We'll be there for a while, so hopefully I can see some old friends :)

Grace, Peace and Good Tidings of Comfort and Joy to you all!

PS... I tried twice to load pictures and twice it was interrupted, so you will have to wait.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Blessings

I cannot take credit for directing your attention to the following message. It was posted by someone from my adoption Yahoo Group yesterday to remind (or inform) us of how the celebration of Thanksgiving began. I looked up the entire speech by President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863 when he declared the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and remember from where our great blessings originate-- God.

If you want to read the entire speech, CLICK HERE.

But, this is my favorite part:

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

We have more things to be thankful for than I could even make room for on this blog. Freedom to worship Christ as our Savior, freedom to choose our family size, careers, be involved in the constitutional processes of this great Nation, freedom of press, speech, freedom to serve, raise our children in the way which we see fit... and those are just the FREEDOMS for which we are thankful.

The personal things I am thankful for bubble over and overwhelm me to even try and organize them in order to share them with you! I don't think I will even begin such a list-- I may never end this post... and that is no good, because I have a Thanksgiving Dinner to prepare!! :)

But-- let me just end on this note... one of funniest things I am thankful for which my kids (and husband) will never be able to get, but I subject us to every year... THE MACY THANKSGIVING PARADE!!!!!!!! I LOVE IT!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One more post

I just found out that one of my bloggy adoption friends is wanting to raise money by offering their time share over Spring Break as a way to raise money for their adoption. They are bringing home a sibling group of three and will be traveling in a few weeks to Ethiopia!!

If you are interested, visit them HERE.

They are the Semlow family. I am cheering for them-- even more because they have a sibling group (yeah!) AND they are from IL-- my home state :).

BTW-- they said that they may have other dates besides just Spring Break available as well-- so, go see what a great vacation you can have AND help bring home kids from Ethiopia all at the same time!

Grace and Peace,

My first CC

Believe it or not, after almost six months into the waiting process of bringing home our kiddos from Ethiopia, this was the first conference call I have listened in on. Every month our agency holds a conference call for "waiting" families. We are the ones whose paper chasing is done, but who have not yet received a referral. As Duni, our program director said today, we sort of rank 3rd (out of 3) on the priority list for keeping in touch with on a regular basis. Which is why they hold these conference calls once a month so we can sit around ALL month long and think of questions to ask on cc day, email them to her, then she spends over an hour and a half answering them, plus whatever other burning questions we may think of between the cut-off time for sending questions and the call itself.

I really appreciate that AWAA does conference calls. I just have chosen to never sit in on one until this month. Mostly, because I have felt like we were too far down the list to bother with it. I have a hard time reading my Yahoo Group posts a lot of times! It is easy to get sucked into the "waiting" process and just live and breathe adoption stuff. Not healthy. For me-- there is such a thing as TOO much information! The funny thing is, after putting the cc on the calendar and being all ready for it to be THIS WEEK, I somehow forgot I would be on the phone at 3pm today and invited a friend from church to come and visit for this afternoon-- duh. Once I realized what I had done, I decided, "Oh well. I'm not going to cancel with my friend, it is important to spend time with her. I do have some sort of important questions (to me), but... Lord, I trust that the right thing will happen and You will work it out." And... He did. My friend called this morning and couldn't make it after all. I was able to listen to the cc and found it a very interesting experience! Yes, I am sheltered. I have never sat in on a conference call before!

So... did I find out any earth shattering news? No. But, I didn't expect to, either. It was fun to hear live voices of all the people I chat with via our YG. And I did get my questions in and clarified that we REALLY DO want to bring home a sibling group-- and that our age range was 0-5 and we just want ONE of them to be a girl and no, one of them doesn't HAVE to be an infant. Now we just have to get that changed on our homestudy!

I can't even imagine who God has in store for us. One thing I do know. This is NOT about us-- except maybe for the girl part, we're still workin' through that one-- ha, ha!! He will choose whom He chooses and it will be for His glory, and not ours.

Grace and Peace,

All AWAA all weekend long!!

The whole Gang

Last weekend was just so fun!!! I have been looking forward to meeting in REAL life all the wonderful families I have been stalking for the past months as we all walk through this crazy thing called "adoption" together. And finally, it happened! Two families even drove from out-of-state to get together... okay, one family was passing through-- which is why we even scheduled the big event for this weekend in the first place.

My boys had a reserved excitement on the way to Raleigh. I kept filling them with stories of lots of boys their age to play with and be wild. I'm not sure they believed me. Then the rain clouds kept following us, or we kept running into them and that sort of made us all hold our breaths. But, God is soooo good and by His grace, the rain held out so we had plenty of play time at the park before heading over to the Ethiopian restaurant for dinner. And, Yes... there WERE lots of boys their ages to be plenty rowdy with... see, Mom knows how to come through :)!

Team Dragovich Meat Combo for two

And as for the restaurant?? They did GREAT :). They all tried it without reservation and I think Wyatt liked it most of all. Isaac does NOT like injera, which he was bummed about, since that is how you EAT the rest of the food (imagine a spongy, ginormous soft taco shell with different kinds of spicy meat spread out on top of it. You rip off a piece of injera and use it to grab the meat and then eat away-- no utensils... a boy's heaven). But, I told him to just eat the meat with his fingers and not to worry about it. He is my "clean" boy, so he wasn't so sure. Sam liked the goat cheese with his injera, and the salad. My favorite was the lamb.

The only thing that could have made the night better is if our Daddy was with us :( But we're hangin' in there and thanking God every day for watching over us AND him, while we're apart!

Not so bad!

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More on Snacking

The boys are into their snacks. Every once in a while I get creative and try to do something cute for snack time. It is a rarity, okay, so don't go thinking that I do all this crazy stuff as a mom. I'm boring-- really, really boring. But, now that I have introduced the "decorate with your food" concept, it is the greatest thing ever. Today I set out a bunch of different "decorating" choices and bananas and peanut butter and let them go to town. Of course we had to take pictures, so now you know just how much my children learn on a daily basis. They may not remember to capitalize ANY proper noun in their lives, but-- by golly-- they can make a raisin stick to a banana!!

Grace and Peace,

Sam made a giant spider from the Hobbit. You can't see them, but he put out 12 marshmallows for each of the 12 dwarves who were spun into the spider's web

Wyatt built a futuristic city that towers above the forests-- the pretzels are higher living quarters, the m & m's and marshmallows and raisins are the earth below

Isaac made a home-- you can see the sides (bananas) and the roof (pretzels attached with a marshmallow). He landscaped around the house as well.

Milkshakes make everything better!!

Well, we got our Daddy off to the airport on Tuesday. He made it to his training destination-- of course not without incident-- we are talking about the Army here, folks! Apparently, they never paid his tickets. So, when he got to the counter, there was no ticket-- ha!! Of course, he missed that flight and after hours of waiting and missing connecting flights, he finally made it. Ugh. Poor guy!!

Meanwhile, back at Team D. headquarters, we needed a pick-me-up. So... milkshakes all around!! The boys did a "CHEERS" for Daddy and all has been well-- 2 days in ;)!

Grace and Peace,

Monday, November 10, 2008

International Night

Friday was International Night with our homeschool group. It is a lot of fun and an easy way to get the kids to learn about other countries. Here is a quick run-down of how it works, in case you may want to start something similar in your homeschooling community:

*Families choose a country to study and create a display of their country on a tri-fold display board.

*The children need to create three questions they would like for people to answer after "visiting" their country. The organizer compiles all the questions prior to the event and puts them into a "passport" book for children to use on International Night.

*The night of the event, everyone brings: a) their project (duh); b)a dish from their country to share potluck style-- with a label so everyone knows what they are eating and what country it represents; and c) some sort of stickers or stamps to keep at their display, so the children can "stamp" their passport after visiting that country.

*After everyone shares in a potluck meal, the children are free to go pick up their passport and begin learning about all the other countries represented. They write the answers to the questions in their passport on that country's page, stamp their passport, and move on to the next country!

It is nearly impossible to visit all the countries, but we sure have fun trying!!

I bet you'll NEVER guess which country Team Dragovich studied and displayed-- ha!! I am SOOOOO proud of my boys for all the work THEY did on their own-- finding and printing pictures from the net, printing MULTIPLE maps, until we got just the right ones, doing ALL the writing (if you knew how much my oldest hates to write, you would be falling out of your seat right now), cutting, pasting, painting and arranging on the display board and coloring Africa-- okay, they got worn out by then, and after coloring in 9 countries, they turned it over to Dad. All I did was guide the organization of the facts, paste the two middle maps and do some minor labeling of pictures once glued onto the board. And all on a week that we took off of school since it was Daddy's last week home with us.

AND, of course, to make it even cooler... we borrowed the GREATEST stuff from our friends the Coen's who have already been to Ethiopia and graciously trusted us with their sweet treasures. It all just made this whole adoption process more real to us. Which I don't know if that is good, because now my heart is aching a little more that it was before :).

Grace and Peace,

Team Dragovich's country-- are you surprised? If you look closely, you will see some flap books see my post on Live & Learn

The boys with some of our props-- Don't ask me why Wyatt has that bag on like he does-- it is a cloth bag you carry stuff in. Isaac is holding an eastern orthodox cross, and Sam is wrapped in a shawl made by the women who carry wood on their backs for a living.

Look at all the neat things the Coens loaned us! The boys' favorites were the toys for Silas, a book and his Ethiopian outfit... wow!

Isaac in Columbia-- this one is for our dear friends whose daddy is Columbian!!

He looks pretty natural in that Russian soldier hat, doesn't he :)?

Belated Halloween Pics

I was the most well-protected mama on Halloween night!! I had THREE military commandos to escort me to every home. Except, THEY GOT ALL THE TREATS!

Nothin' like posting Halloween pictures two weeks after the event. Oh well. Enjoy!
Grace and Peace,

My three Commandos-- Daddy did the makeup

My heroes

Team Dragovich-- open for TREATS!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More Travel Families to Stalk!

More families from our agency traveled this week to pick up their kiddos from Ethiopia. I am a bit slow on posting these, but they will be there until the end of the week. Enjoy!!

Nunez Family

Terwilleger Family
Hammond Family
Britton Family
Laughner Family

Grace and Peace,

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Big Race

Well, it's over. The months, weeks and hours of marathon training is over. Yesterday morning, Team Dragovich piled into the mini-van at 5am (Thank you Lord, for the time change!) and drove to Raleigh, NC, so I could run in the 5th marathon of my running "career". And, boy... do I know how to pick 'em! HA!!! Let me just preface this next part with-- I really had no choice. I knew I wanted to do a race before Tony left on his big "D" and before we brought home kiddos from Ethiopia. I also was very limited in what race I could do. We couldn't travel for this race, and the only other race remotely close was OBX-- and it is next weekend... the weekend before he deploys. Not to mention we would have had to travel. So... City of Oaks it was.

Boys waiting to see Mommy at Mile 10

In all the reviews of this course, the word "hilly" seemed to come up alot. It is compared over and over again to Boston's course-- a famously hilly race. I ran Boston in 2007-- um... NOT a good comparison! City of Oaks is TWICE as hilly as Boston-- at LEAST... and I will argue down to the bone with anyone who tries to deny it. It is WAY hillier than St. Louis-- which is also considered a hilly course, and the course which I quailfied for Boston on in 2006. There is not a flat spot in the entire race. And, YES, I studied the topographical map of the race before running it and Tony and I even drove the course on Saturday. Scary, insane and wow... are the words which come to mind-- of course, I wouldn't allow myself such thoughts before the race-- that would be death to self!! But, now that it is over?... well, there's no holding back! :D

There I am-- still track sub 8's (min. per mile)

My goal was to break 3:30-- run sub-8:00 splits. I ran the first half well under that... 7:40-7:50's. The second half was where I lost all my time-- 30 seconds per mile. Which, of course, was where all the killer hills were. I gained some ground the last 5 miles, but it wasn't enough to break 3:30. My final time was 3:33:08. On the bright side, I won my age group (30-34), came in 14th overall for the females standings out of 255 total women; and 98th out of over 900 total marathon runners. It is a PR for me (personal record), and I requalified for Boston easily. The other good thing is, I didn't lose any more time on the second half than any of the top runners did. Only one woman in the top 10 ran even splits the entire 26.2 miles. All the other top runners (men, too) dropped 30 seconds or more off their pace the second half of the race. I truly believe that I have sub 3:30 legs-- maybe even on that course, if I had just a little more experience racing on that sort of terrain and knew better how and when to push my legs.

Now they are waiting for me in Umstead Park-- mile 17

Most importantly, I learned a lot. I have one more marathon under my belt, my boys were overly proud of their mama and Tony was super proud of my performance. He is already planning my next year of training and racing and was looking up all the races "we" are going to do over the next years-- nice fast, flat courses to kick out some killer times. I am learning to be content with my performances, recognize where I need to "toughin' up", and zeroing in on what I really want to be able to achieve in my "running career" and why.

Mile 24-- no more sub 8's-- that's okay, I'm still movin' at least!

I hope you enjoyed the pics of our big event. One more neat detail... Tony and the boys saw me 5 different times-- miles 4, 10, 17, 24 and the end. In order to see me at mile 17, they had to park the car at the entrance to Umstead Park, RUN 1 mile in, on the trails, down one of the steepest hills of the race to see me. Tony had Sam make marks in the dirt for every woman that passed before me. They counted 17. When I came by, they cheered me on, told me where I was in the standings and then ran back up the hill (remember-- 1 mile up), back in the van and on to mile 24. I managed to knock off 3 women by the time they saw me again... something I may not have tried to do, if I hadn't known they were keeping track :). Tony said Isaac was so excited for me during this race, and I guess he kept getting frustrated with Sam for not hurrying enough. Apparently he kept getting after Sam to, quote: "Hurry, UP! Mommy is waiting for us!" :)

They are my heroes.

Mommy and her boys-- after the race. Sam is holding my 1st place-- in age group-- plaque.
Grace and Peace,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Live & Learn Press

This one is for all you homeschool mommies. Last week at our homeschool support group meeting, we had the owners of Live & Learn come present their idea of Live 'N Learn folders. This is another name for a Lap Book. NOW, before you roll your eyes, groan within and click to read someone else's blog-- STOP!!! I know your pain! I have three boys! I know what it is like to do the dreaded-- P-R-O-J-E-C-T (insert climax music... take your pick). And I also know that I have looked on longingly at the lap book idea wishing if only I could figure out how to make one of those... without having to for-go laundry, dinner and cleaning the house... just so I can create a cool lap book project to go with our latest unit study!

What Live & Learn does is take all the hard work and do it for you. They a) teach you HOW to make these "mini-books" which go INSIDE your folders (e.i. lapbook) that you present your project information on; and b) they have created tons of unit study projects on cd-rom with all the templates for every "mini-book" you would make to go with the study and directions for how to assemble-- DIRECTIONS YOU CAN UNDERSTAND!! AND... they just started working with Apologia Science, and are creating Live 'n Learn notebook "folders" to supplement ALL of Apologia's curriculum. So... for those of you using Apologia Science, you can go to their website, buy the cd rom for your particular series (e.g. Team D. is studying Botony this year) and then have ALL the templates for answering ALL the questions in the form of these "mini-books", attaching them to 3-ring hole punched cardstock and stored in a lovely binder. So, at the end of the study, you will have a great "Lap Book" full of information on your subject, presented in these little "mini-books" that your child created (even if you do all the cutting and s/he does the writing-- or maybe for the littles, you even do the writing as they dictate to you the answers!).

Our first mini-book w/ Botony... pull tabs down-- they have to define "biology" and "botony" on the pull-tabs and give the roots of each

Let's discuss these "mini-books", because that is the heart of what Live & Learn does. Imagine flap books and origami rolled into one. Remember when you were a kid and you folded paper in all those funny ways and wrote 1,2,3,4.. red, yellow, blue, green, then did the little jingle as you manipulated the folded paper "thingy" to find out who you loved? (Rrr.. this is hard when you can't be "hands on"). That is what mini-books are. You fold paper in all different ways and then your child writes information in the flaps, or pull-ups (not the diapers!), or whatever sort of mini-book you made about whatever the topic is s/he is learning. Then, you attach your folded mini-book into a folder, decorate the outside of the folder and voi-la! You have a cool presentation that your kids can be super proud of!

This is the same mini-book with the tabs pulled up so you can see the answers. Isaac(7) did all the cutting and assembly himself-- I helped a little with getting the tabs in their inserts without ripping the paper.

I know, this still seems random and not very well explained. It is sort of a hard idea to explain without being able to give you a visual. My pictures aren't so great, but I tried to give you just an idea-- we just started our Botony folders yesterday. I will continue to post pictures as we make progress. In the meantime, go to their website and check them out! Download some of their free samples, print them out and start folding paper. Once you do that, I think you will get the idea and then the wheels will start turning. The possibilities really are endless!

And the real test??? My boys LOVE IT!!! They made their first little book yesterday and granted, it took a bit more time than I expect it to once we get the hang of what we are doing (I could have done all the cutting for them in advance-- you know, in all my spare time!)... Here is the real clincher for me. They were engaged the ENTIRE time (45 + minutes), they ENJOYED their Botony time (which has been gag before this!), they were SUPER proud of what they had done-- first thing they had to do was show it off to Daddy; AND they DIDN'T EVEN MIND WRITING!!!!

Go check them out: Live & Learn Press

Grace and Peace,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Feel the Love

I'm not sure what is going on in my home exactly... a work of the Lord is all I can guess. My boys have been SO very compassionate and kind to one another over the last several weeks. I mean, don't get me wrong; they are pretty civil to each other on a regular basis. I mean, we have our days, but overall, they get along. But, lately.... well... there is just so much love to go around! This afternoon, Wyatt looked at Sam and said, "Sam, I just love you. You are the best brother ever. Isaac, so are you!" What?? What was that I heard? Oh my. I think that was a "no strings attached" compliment! And such a rich one at that! Hmmm... like I said. God giving us a sweet gift in these last days until Daddy leaves for the big "D".

Speaking of the big "D", this gear up for it is getting, well... exhausting. And the thing is, I don't know how to not have it be exhausting, either. We stay positive, and certainly there is never a shortage of things to do, places to go, games to make, etc. But, no matter what we do or how we spend our time together, there it is. Getting closer. Waiting to happen. I have talked to several friends who have "gone before me" so to speak, and they all say the same thing... getting ready to deploy is the worst part. Once he goes, we can get into a routine and establish some normalcy. Although, in our case, Tony will be gone for almost three weeks, then home for Thanksgiving, then gone for the long haul. Then, of course, we enter into the Holiday season and that is usually void of normalcy. So... maybe come January, I can think about a routine. But...why think that far in advance? What a waste of time :)... I'd rather just enjoy today even if it is a little tiring!

Oh... here is something cool-- The boys and I went to see High School Musical 3 today! Yes. On opening day. I feel so hip. One of their fellow homeschool friends had a birthday and rather than have a party, she opted for us all to go see High School Musical together. It was fun! I have to confess that I never saw the first High School Musical until it was out on video-- for a LONG time; and I have never seen all of High School Musical 2. I have boys. They don't dance around the house to "We're Better Together" (I think that is the name of one of the songs!). But, I'm SOOOO glad that we have friends with girls!! And here is my sad confession. As HUGE CHEESE as it was; I found myself ferclempt more than once. Yes, people. I teared up. I mean, Tony and I are High School Sweethearts, okay! So, stay off my case!! :)

Finally, there are several families traveling this week to pick up their children from Ethiopia. I am going to attempt to link you to them here:

Schmidt Family
Van Wetten Family
Redfern Family

There are others, however, these are the blogs I could find links for. Hopefully they will update their blogs throughout the week.

Take care and have a great weekend, everyone!
Grace and Peace,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our days in pictures

Since my last post was so serious, I thought I would let you all see that life still goes on and we even smile a lot during it!! :) Enjoy!

The boys made their snack to look like Smaug the dragon from the Hobbit

Waiting for Grammie and Grampie

Isaac at the beach

On the USS North Carolina

Wyatt the Sailor

This one is my favorite :)

Grace and Peace,

Not for the Faint of Heart

I cannot even begin to tell you what we have been doing the past week or two. Really. It's all a blur. All I know is Time is cruelly racing ahead and somewhere deep inside me I keep screaming, "STOP!!!!!" Tony's work schedule has been so erratic. He is home on weird days and then he is gone for what seems like days at a time; then all the sudden he is home again. But unavailable to go with us to practices or games because he is on-call and must stay within 30 minutes of the hospital. Now he is gone again for the weekend and all the while there is this deep down urge within me to just drop it all and run away. Fast. That sounds so very mature and logical, doesn't it :)?

Two days ago, I learned that another family's baby died of pnemonia in Ethiopia. This is a family whom I was particularly cheering for, since they were holding out so long for a referral for two children under the age of two. With our agency's policy of only adopting sibling groups to families requesting multiples, this referral seemed extremely sweet to me and I was simply thrilled for them. Then, the baby girl got sick and she never recovered. My sorrow over this loss for them is just so raw. And it seems that there is no where to go with this bag of emotion and thoughts. I believe that our agency is doing the best they can to get families moved through court in a timely fashion and limit the amount of time between referral and uniting children with families. The adoption process in Ethiopia is still relatively new (compared to other nations) and more importantly, the number of people adopting from this beautiful country has more than tripled in the past several years. The courts can't keep up. They lack staff and equippment and technology and all the other things that go along with a smooth operating procedure. What am I going to do, shake my fist at them and say, "Shame on you! Pull it together!" No. That will not do. Sadly, the one thing I know to do, I have been finding hard to find the words for... Pray. I know this is my strongest weapon to wield and yet, I seem to just face every time of prayer with this sort of numb, "struck dumb" feeling. I'm counting on that passage of Scripture that says the Holy Spirit will intercede for me when all that comes out are groans not understood by human ears.

There is a conference call this afternoon with our agency. It happens once a month and it is a chance for all of the "waiting families" (those of us done with paper work and waiting for a referral) to ask questions to program director that they may be pondering. I was going to make time to listen in today. Back when I thought maybe we were further up on the list. But, after a little research (which wasn't hard) I saw how far down we really are and now I am over my wondering if we will get a referral in the next couple of months. Besides, the questions I want to ask, she can't answer... "Will this all happen while my husband is gone?", "Is there going to be two children for us?", "Can you please do something about getting our babies home faster before they get too sick and it is too late?"

My apologies if what I just shared was too much. This journey we are on seems to be quite dangerous just at the moment. At least that is how it feels. A dear friend of mine emailed me several months ago and in sharing some of her struggles she said, "Oh, Shari, this thing we call mothering is not for the faint of heart". How poignant. It is a good thing that I was blissfully ignorant back when I began on this path of being a military wife, mother, passionate follower of Christ, etc. I would have certainly known how "faint of heart" I can become, then turned and ran the other way! :)

Grace and Peace,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What I should be doing...

What I should be doing is planning school for the next two weeks. What I should be doing is rotating, folding and putting away laundry which has piled up from our trip to the beach. What I should be doing is dusting, wiping or cleaning something. What I should be doing... is anything but blogging. But I am, so there you go.

Tony's parents and brother flew in last Thursday to spend some time with us before he leaves to go across the big pond. We rented a beach house on Ocean Isle and spend Friday - Monday at the beach. It was a really wonderful weekend, though I blinked and it was over. I ran my last really hard, long run before my race next month-- 22 miles up and down the island. The best part about running at the beach is laying in the water after the run!! I had my best recovery ever-- duh. I ran 22 miles, walked straight out to the ocean and sat down in the waves. Then after stretching and re-fueling, I spent the rest of the day sitting, laying and playing on the sand or in the water. No coming home and doing laundry, vacuuming, running kids to games, practices, etc. Just resting. It was good. :)

The other thing that was fun was having my middle child teach me how to "skin board". My brother-in-law rented a skin board from the local surf shop and taught Isaac what it is all about. He, in-turn taught me and we had fun. I'm NOT good at skin boarding, but that is okay. It was just fun to have Isaac teach me something new :). We also all had fun riding the waves on our boogie boards-- another new experience for me. Tony tried to teach me that one. I caught a couple good ones. Also very fun.

Wyatt enjoyed spending time talking all things military with Grandpa. On the way home we stopped by the USS North Carolina and took a tour. We have been on this great battleship before, but it was all new to Tony's parents. His dad is a HUGE military history guru, so there was much to discover together.

On the adoption front, there have been some big changes in our agency. The director of the ET program-- who also happens to be our family coordinator-- is moving with her family to Ethiopia to handle our adoptions from that end. So much has to happen once a family gets a referral, in order to make it possible for us to be united with our little ones. It is a complicated, slow process, often met with mess-ups and potholes along the way. Hopefully, by her moving to Addis and working for each family from that end, the entire process from referral to travel will go more smoothly, with less turmoil in between.
The other big news is that that AWAA increased its Ethiopia Program Fees. And here is my sad admission-- I haven't even taken the new fee schedule and compared it side by side to the old schedule. It's not that I don't care. Especially, because I believe that the reasons given were valid and ultimately, I believe that God will provide. Now, having made that "great statement of faith"... here is my confession. All I care about now, is the fact that we are getting closer to referral and now all the sudden, I am getting antsy. This really irritates me, because I was doing so well, for so long and not at all thinking about getting "the call". I assumed it was so far off and things were going so slow, that we wouldn't get the call for many more months. And, I think that is probably still true, but for some reason, after that last referral and the new "estimated" time frames for referral, I am rattled. I know there are lots of people in front of us, but I don't really know how many or what they are requesting. I don't want to spend lots of time on the chat group trying to figure it out, but still... I wonder. I especially wonder if all this will come down the line while Tony is gone. I put in an email to our coordinator asking these "wonderings" and, of course, she didn't respond. She is too busy, and we obviously aren't close enough to the top of the list to warrent a response.

So... I think I had better start finding something else I should be doing, instead of sitting on this computer blogging :)...

Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Referrals coming down the pipes!

This morning I woke up to a very happy Yahoo Group Post. More families are receiving referrals and the most recent referral came to a family not far in front of us-- for a sibling group!!! This is encouraging to me, since we would love nothing more than to bring home more than one child. I just don't know what the Lord has in store for Team Dragovich, but I trust Him and know that He is working in and through all things. He sees deeper than the surface and His wisdom is greater and higher than anything I can imagine.

In the meantime, we continue to be wrapped up in fall sports. It seems that on any given night, we are at a game, practice and sometimes both! Many nights Tony and I are in "divide and conquer" mode-- one at soccer, one at baseball. There is no way I could do this without him home, and I seem to keep reminding everyone that come Spring, Team D. will be choosing ONE sport and sticking with it. I can't say that I regret letting them choose this time, though. It is wonderful to see them excelling in their chosen sport and gaining confidence with each practice and game. Most importantly, Tony is enjoying every minute of getting his boys to their events and watching them intently as they learn to throw, catch, dribble, pass and make plays. So, who am I to drudge through this season like it is a chore and not a joy? Besides, after October, it is over, then we will all be scratching our heads and wondering what we should do with all our extra time :).

I think I am turning out to be somewhat of a "sub-par" blogger. There are many days that something happens and I think, "That was funny! I should blog about that!" And then, the day is over, I am exhausted and I decide that the three people who read don't care that much anyway :). I am probably wrong, because, if I have only three blog stalkers, then they are my most faithful following and they DO care-- so, sorry!!!

Okay, that was a random side-note, but oh well. At least I have a window of blog time now! Yeah! So, that is all I have. We are still pretty far out in the wait process, unless a LOT more sibling groups come AWAA's way and then who knows, maybe we will get a referral sooner than we think? Or, maybe the family that received the referral was just a perfect match for this sibling group and AWAA knew that and made the match. I may just look into this one. Hmmm...

My love to all of you who read, whether I know you personally, or not!
Grace and Peace,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Game Ball Boy

Over the weekend, all the boys had their opening games AND pictures for their sports. Wyatt is playing soccer in Sanford and Isaac and Sam are playing baseball in Broadway (did you catch that? Three different boys, each playing a sport-- with lots of practices and games-- in different towns). Not only did they all have games, but they were almost all at the same time AND Tony was single daddy (see the post below) for the weekend. Oops! Well, they all survived and I'm so proud that they even did WELL!! Sam missed his pictures, but it's okay... he's five. There will be more.

The most exciting thing, though is that my Isaac got the first game ball of the season!!! He played first base, made three outs AND hit a double, helping propel his team to the victory :D. I am so bummed that I missed it, but he was sure to show it to me as SOON as I walked in the door. After I took his picture, he looked at me sort of sheepishly and said, "Mom, do you think we could put this on the blog?" Like he needed to ask ;). BTW, this is his first year playing baseball-- yes, I am braggin' on my boy.

I'm so proud of each of my boys. They work hard and try their best at whatever they do. I know God will put the talents and gifts that He has given them to great Kingdom work, someday... what a joy and honor to be their mama!! :)

Grace and Peace,

My Running Camp Weekend

Yes, I ACTUALLY registered for AND attended a running camp last weekend. It was an amazing experience. I drove to Boone, NC on Thursday and spent four days running, attending running workshops, eating great healthy "runner" food-- that I didn't have to make, practicing running drills, learning running core work and yoga moves for runners, learned the components of a training program, got one-on-one time with an elite running coach AND just hung out with other runners-- all from different walks of life, with different goals and desires for the weekend camp. I won't bore you with all my running details, but needless to say, I had a great time, met some great people and came home revived and ready to put renewed energy into my running life.

Did I use the word "running" enough for you? Here is the link to ZAP if you would like to see what they are all about and check out their beautiful facility and location in the NC Mountains. Their main mission is to support and train elite athletes on their road to success. But they also spend the summers offering many different running camps geared toward the "regular" person who loves running and wants to learn ways they can reach their goals, no matter what level they are. BTW... it just so happened that one of my fellow campers was there to not only get great running (there's that word again) information but also to feature ZAP in an upcoming issue of Southern Living. Scott Jones is the food and wine editor of the magazine and an addicted-- I mean-- avid runner as well, currently training for Chicago Marathon, AND raising money for World Vision. A photographer from SL came to spend a couple days with us and took LOTS of pictures. Who knows, maybe in the next few months you could open your Southern Living magazine and see... ME!!! And other campers, of course :).

Okay, that is how I spent my last weekend-- totally spoiled and very pumped about my running future :) Only seven weeks to go before City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh. Just... Keep... RUNNING!!!! :)

Grace and Peace,

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hanna and other Happenings

We survived Hanna but not completely unscathed... can you believe that??? At about 7:30 this morning, Isaac pointed to the ceiling from the second story and said, "Hey Dad, what's that? Water just dripped on me." That was all it took to make Tony move faster than lightening. The next hour was a a flurry of, "GET ME FLASHLIGHT!!! I NEED A BUCKET!!!!! WHERE IS THAT FLASHLIGHT!!!!" Note to self, make a list of supplies that we MAY need in a hurricane and put them ALL together in ONE PLACE! I had all that stuff, but it was scattered all over the place. Not helpful. And my brain wasn't firing on all pistons at that moment either. Also not helpful.
Turns out, a venting pipe which goes out the roof of the house wasn't sealed properly, allowing water to seep down the sides of the pipe and down onto the ceiling. Fortunately we caught it early and it was a minor drip. It will also not take much to fix. No problem. I like high pressure situations in the morning-- wakes me up. You know I am not serious. The sad truth is, I have been secretly looking forward to Hanna's arrival for a couple days now. I knew she wasn't going to be strong enough to inflict real harm, but definitely mighty enough to cancel all our Saturday responsibilities.
The drippy ceiling was not our only injury. Our power never did go out, but did surge a few times-- again, early in the morning. Apparently, it got the best of our home computer. Tony can't get it to do anything but flash a blinking question mark at him. Hmmm... I don't think it is supposed to do that. We are going to take it to the Apple store tonight to have a diagnostic done on it. Fortunately, we have our computers covered as part of our USAA home owners policy and I am pretty sure we will get at least part of a new computer covered through them.

So, that is it for Hanna. It is gone. Quick mover, that Hanna is. Except now, I have no excuse for not doing a run this afternoon-- oh wait, yes I do. I have to have my computer "diagnosed". Besides, it's hot and sticky and still windy. And I'm on a low-mileage week, so I don't feel bad not running. Guess I'll have get back to business tomorrow.

In other Team Dragovich news, yesterday the boys and I were up at the crack of dawn driving to Spencer, NC. There is a pretty awesome Transportation Museum there and though it took us two hours to get there, it did NOT disappoint!! The boys had a FABULOUS time, learned a lot of fun NC Railroad history, and had LOTS of hands-on experiences-- of course, culminating in a REAL train ride on an old-fashioned passenger train. That wasn't their favorite part, however. Their favorite thing was playing Star Wars in the factory-turned-museum. They apparently turned the entire building into a Star Wars spaceship and ran from station to station turning knobs, pressing buttons, flipping switches and rooting out evil in-between the railroad cars. And in case your wondering what kind of mother lets her boys run wild in a train museum playing Star Wars... well, I could go to great lengths describing how the museum was really designed for such freedom of investigation- whether you are playing train conductor OR Star Wars... but, instead I'll simply say...I am that kind of mother :D

Enjoy the photos!
Grace and Peace,

Before the train, came the canoe

Can you imagine racing in this???

Wyatt and Isaac on the turntable... they aren't so sure yet.

Climbin' on the caboose

Getting on the Train

PS. BTW, we have been officially waiting over 3 months for our referral. Only 4-6 more to go ;)!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The little things that make Homeschooling fun

Earlier this week the boys and I were engaged in our Unit Study on Lighthouses. I was reading a story to them from the book: Lighthouses for Kids. The story was an example of how lighthouse families had to become resourceful with their medical care. It told of a family who lived at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse station and the fun that the siblings would regularly have running up and down the iron spiral staircase of the lighthouse. Now, we walked up those stairs during our trip to OBX, and Wyatt was NOT impressed. He is not fond of heights in the first place and just the sight of those winding, open stairs which looked as though they were floating in space was enough to send him running the other way. He overcame his fear and eventually climbed to the top, but it was not without its drama. Isaac, on the other hand, looked as though some secret "Isaac language" had just been spoken and he lit up, exclaiming, "WOW! That would be fun!" Wyatt looked at him with clear disdain and just shook his head.
On with the story... One day, while the children were running up and down the stairs, one of the younger brothers FELL down the stairs and bit his tongue so hard that only a small piece of the tongue was barely hanging on. "Daddy took the scissors that he used to trim the wick and cut it off" recalled Vernon Gaskill-- the older brother. "It didn't affect his speech any but he had a little less tongue than he had before."

Isaac immediately clapped both hands over his mouth and all you could see where those big brown eyes of his, wide open with shock and horror. Wyatt sat grinning in his chair with a look of total triumph over his rightness to be concerned about even being on such dangerous stairs. When the story was over, I looked at Isaac, waiting for his reaction. Finally, after several seconds, he barely uttered, "I like my tongue just how it is, in my mouth." He slunk down in his chair, a bit dejected and that was the end of that.

Grace and Peace,

Monday, August 25, 2008

All the several things

I know I said in my last post that there were several things I wanted to post about. Honestly, I don't really want to post about them, because it is hard to think about sad things happening and feeling so out of control and unable to help or cause a change. But, I want to keep those of you who read this blog for adoption updates and information to be... well... informed.

Last week, one of the families who had their referral for an infant girl received news that their daughter was sick with pneumonia and in the hospital. Sadly, the next morning, they learned that their baby didn't make it through the night. She was only 3 1/2 months old and the family had their referral for her for a little over 20 days prior to her getting sick. I know that I already hold my children deep in my heart and long for their arrival-- though I have never seen them, or know anything about them, they are already a part of our family. Please pray for this sweet family as they grieve this loss of a child never seen (other than pictures), but dearly treasured.

The second "several things" involves one of my bloggy friends whose daughter is undergoing treatment for Pott's disease-- tuberculosis of the spine. Right now, her daughter is in a body cast from her hips to the top of her neck. In October, she will undergo a surgery and then it is just one step at a time to see how to proceed. You can read about them here Please keep this family in your prayers as well. Apryl has such a positive outlook and I know God is sovereign in all things. This is good. That is why He is God and I am not :).

The final of "several things" is more about me learning how to exhale. It seems that as each week passes, I inhale more and exhale less. Like I am holding my breath for the big crash that could happen at any moment. What crash, you say? Good question, I am trying to define that as I write. But really, I think what it boils down to is living too much in the future and the past-- and not really living at all in the moment. I won't give you all the boring details of the "past" or the "future", but I will say that if you mix those two things together with this annoying personality trait I have of craving "perfect"... there you have it. CRASH!!!! And if I had a quarter for every time someone said to me, "Shari, you are too hard on yourself," I would have so much money that we could wipe out hunger, sickness and disease in ALL of Africa, let alone Ethiopia!!! :)... Hmmm... maybe I should start charging...

Well, I wasn't really going anywhere with that last "several things", except to maybe say-- pray for me, too. I could use some "faithful prayers" from some "righteous saints" (James 5:16). For some reason, I seem to be more like the seed sown in the thorns, than the one sown in the fertile soil (Matthew 13:22) . But, I know that my God is faithful and mighty to save, and if He can clothe the lilies so perfectly-- and I am worth more to Him than all the lilies in the field (this is the Shari Dragovich translation-- you should look into it)-- then I know He is already taking care of EVERYTHING in my life and the lives of my loved ones... perfectly (Matthew 6:25-34).

So, those are all the several things. All rolled up into one theme only. Pray.

Grace and Peace,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pretty neat video

There are several things I want to post about--most all of them adoption related. However, this video was sent to me this morning and I thought it was a really neat way to start my day, so I wanted to share it with you.

It seems that I have no idea how to post a video correctly from You Tube. The video is there, in the blank space above (I am assuming you see the blank space above, because that is what I see). Just run your clicker over it and the Play button will show up, then you can play it. Sorry. I just don't know how to do these things!

Grace and Peace,

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lemonade for Baby

Over the weekend my oldest son came to me and said, "Mom, is it okay if we (brothers and friend) set up a lemonade stand?" Hmmm.... how much effort will this require from me? Do I really want to invite this extra work? Can I legitimately say no???? Hey, I never said I was a perfect mother!

"Sure, Wyatt. Sounds Great!" Lie. He leaves happy and all is well. I am hoping he forgets about it. No such luck. Sunday afternoon, he came to me again asking if he and the boys could start their lemonade stand now. Go for it, I say, just knowing that the flood of "Help, Me!" was getting ready to start. I was trying to clean the house for a meeting we were having at our home that night and just catch up with life after starting school last week. I really didn't think I had time for this. But, to my delight, they required very little help and off they went to make some profits-- after they paid me back for the lemonade, of course-- yes, people, I confess. That was my feeble attempt at trying to detour their efforts for the day. Did I mention I'm not always at the top of my game???

They ended up doing very well for themselves. I guess Wyatt dispersed the troops to knock on doors and let people know they were selling lemonade for .25 a cup. Most people gave them a dollar or two for a glass and they ended up with over $9 after a couple hours of setting up the stand. It was very cute. I was proud of them-- and yes, a little ashamed of my earlier thoughts.

When they were all done, Wyatt came to me and said, "Here, Mom. We are giving you all the money." "No, Wyatt. Mommy wasn't serious about making you pay me for your start up costs. I was just being silly. I'm very proud of you. Just make sure you divide it evenly between the boys." He persisted. I persisted back. Tony walked in the room and persisted with him even more.

Finally, he looked at me and said; "No Mom. We all decided. We want to help you and Dad pay for our adoption. It's to bring our babies home. You have to take it. We all agreed. It is what we decided."

Tears. Foolish me. Thank you, Father for the heart of children.

Grace and Peace,

PS. We now have an envelope tucked in a safe place, filled with Lemonade money... waiting for the day we can use it to buy a first baby blanket, special stuffed animal or outfit for our newest member/s-- not so well known, but so well loved.