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,