Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Taking the Critters to the Vet

Tomorrow I will have the "adventure" of taking both critters to the vet--at the same time. I have never even taken Jo before, so I am a bit apprehensive about the whole situation. Oh yeah, I also have to take a specimen from Sadie with me. Just what you want to have in your car along with a dog and a cat!

Fortunately Katie is going with me. Still, I am not sure how the cat will do. I am hoping that she goes right into her carrying case tomorrow. She became pretty attached to it, but since we are painting, I put it in Mark's office and haven't let her get in it. I hope that she is still attached to it and climbs right in. The harder part may be getting her out of it at the vet's. I can't get the top off, but he might be able to.

I will be sure to let you know how it goes!

P.S. You can also read Jo's account of the experience tomorrow on her own blog--josierileycross.blogspot.com!

Josie--sleeping on any blanket she can find.

Ready for a spring brunch in her Build-A-Bear hat!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Our Upcoming Trip

Two weeks from today, Mark and I leave for our longest trip yet--2 1/2 weeks! We are going to Clarks Summit to see Mark's family and will be there for his little sister's graduation party. Unfortunately, we are missing her graduation next week, but we can't make it to both. My little sister is graduating two weeks from yesterday, so we are going to her graduation and to Beth's party. Here is a look back at our sisters.

Beth and family visiting us when we lived in our married students apartment in Cedarville.

The three girls with our traditional Old Navy fleece Christmas picture. This was year one of that tradition, and it lasted for 6? years. You can only have so many fleeces! Oh, this is from our first Christmas in Nebraska.

After spending a few days in Clarks Summit, we are heading up to Bar Harbor. We are staying at the same hotel we stayed in on our honeymoon and will be there for a few days. After a few days in Bar Harbor we will take the cat across to Nova Scotia--Mark is SO excited about taking the cat. He wanted to on our honeymoon, but it was too expensive, and we had no real reason to (other than the fact that he thought it would be fun to be on a ferry for six hours just to see for himself how fast it is!).

The view from our hotel room in Bar Harbor.

Mark spotted the cat while we were on a harbor cruise. Here is one of the many pictures he took of it. He was so excited to see it!

We are staying with Mark's grandparents in Nova Scotia, and he is excited to show me all the places he used to go when he was younger. I have never been up there, so this trip really means a lot to Mark. After Nova Scotia, we are heading to Prince Edward Island. We are doing the whole Anne of Green Gables thing. I am excited because I did my final project for my master's on Anne of Green Gables.

Mark with Nana and Grampie c. 1998.

After that, we are coming home, which takes at least three days. Hopefully we will get to spend a few extra days with his family on the way home. We still haven't finalized our plans.

The big down side to the trip is that we are leaving before Spring Quarter ends (I had to find a sub for my last class since it is the same night as Lauren's graduation), so I have to get all my grades done early if I don't want to have to worry about them at Mark's parent's house.

AND we get back the day before Summer Quarter begins. Fortunately, my classes are on Wednesday and Thursday, so I will have two days before I have to be back at school. However, I have a lot more prep work to do this time since I have to change my 10 week class into a 9 week class for one section and an 8 week class for the other.

I have no idea how I am going to do this! The students have so much homework to do as it is (it is a writing course), and the class can't progress until they have different projects/documents done. It will be extra hard since my classes won't be on the same schedule. It is giving me a headache to just think about it!

Still, I am glad that we are going on this trip. I know that we will have tons of pictures to share when we get back!

Friday, May 18, 2007

E-bay Feedback

I am thinking about selling some things on e-bay, but I am trying to decide if it is worth it. Anyone have any advice or feedback?

Yay for Garage Sales!

Today we are having our second annual garage sale. Last year we made a good bit of money, and the most expensive item we sold was around $10! This year we have furniture, tvs, and a lot of other stuff. Hopefully we make A LOT of money! (Then I can buy some new summer clothes since I am selling almost all of my old ones.)

Last year it was sweltering--high 90s and as humid as it can get without raining--so our neighborhood moved the date from July to May. Last night the low was 37. So much for making money off pop and water sales!

I will let you all know how it goes (and post pictures)!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pictures from the Yard

We used to have 3 forsynthia bushes by our fence, but they have been dying, so we replaced them with burning bushes (there are 3 even though you can only see 2 in the picture). The tag says that they are "fast growing," but we don't know how fast that really is. Hopefully they start growing really soon!

I have been looking at windchimes for several years, and I finally got one to put on our tree. I am sure that I drove people crazy at the store because I kept on sounding off the two that I was considering. I wanted to be sure that I got the right one. The picture isn't great--it was an overcast day today--but you can still see it if you look hard enough.

These are my yellow and purple flowers. The yellow flowers are the only annuals I bought (other than the hanging basket). I was at the end of my patience, so when we found something that we kind of liked, we bought them. I know that the yellow flowers are some sort of tropical marigolds. I don't remember what the purple flowers are.

These are the hostas that I divided. I had two yellow ones, and one of those I split and put in the front yard. I only had one green one, but it was so healthy that I was able to split it into thirds. My purple phlox aren't doing the greatest, but I think that they will recover. It will be nice when they fill out and go over the bricks!

This is my vegetable garden (the one that I had to take all of the rocks out of). Mark's is behind the garage, but there isn't too much to see in it yet since most of his plants are seeds. I got the little white fence for free at a garage sale, and I am using it as a visual barrier for the dog.

So far, she hasn't bothered any of my plants except for the irises in the corner of the yard. (She thinks it is necessary to run the whole length of the fence when someone/something walks by.) After I get rid of the irises (hopefully soon!), I will put up a barrier so she can't trample the new plants. We'll see if that works.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Working in the Yard

This year Mark and I decided to redo some of the backyard landscaping. (The death of our forsynthia bush really started the whole thing.) I am not the kind of person that really cares about flowers and landscaping--I only care about my vegetable garden and that we have enough tomatoes for the summer. However, Mark cares about the flowers and everything, so I have been out looking for the best flowers and shrubs that I can get with the small amount of money I have left over from an editing job I landed in the winter.

After too many trips to Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart, Meijer, Joe Randazzo's, and Mrs. Grey's Greenhouse, we have finally gotten everything. Here is what we bought:

320 lbs. of dirt (8 bags)
3 packs ofvegetable seeds--sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes
4 Beefsteak tomato plants
4 Early Girl tomato plants
4 Cherry tomato plants
4 Green pepper plants (we will see if we actually succeed with green peppers this year)
4 Jalepeno plants
1 Hanging basket
3 Burning Bushes
1/2 flat of Phlox
2 Purple plants
12 Yellow plants
1 Garden flag and post
1 Windchime
1 Flamingo (Fred)
1 Cement bird (Sprit)

Wow, when I list it out like that, it seems like a lot! Today we planted the bushes (after pulling up the dead/dying forsynthia bushes), got both the vegetable plants and seeds planted, and moved our daisies to where our irises are.

We still have to plant the purple and yellow flowers where the daisies used to be. We also have to figure out what we are doing with the plants that are where the phlox are going. I didn't realize that our hostas are as big as they are. Some of the hostas are going to the front yard, but we can't move them until we figure out what we are doing with everything else out there!

A nice thing, though, is that our neighbors across the street is giving us three bushes from their front yard for our front yard. They are very nice looking and extremely healthy, and they are helping us move them!

Tomorrow, I will take more pictures to post, but here are two from last week.

Our new hanging basket.

Since I decided to make a vegetable garden on the side of the garage near our house, I had to move all the rocks to a different location. I had no idea how many rocks there were! (And since it was my idea, it was my job--but Mark helped out at times.)

I moved them to our existing burning bush that the dog likes to do laps around. It had small pebbles around it before we moved in, but few were left after three years of Sadie. That meant that it was mostly dirt, and if it were raining when she was out there. . .not cool!

As soon as we put the rocks there, Sadie stopped going around the bush. She likes to run "figure eights" in the yard, and now she can't. It was funny to watch her running full speed and then having to stop and turn around before she hit the rocks. Sometimes she really gets going, and we cheer her on, and then she really starts running. (We call it training for the doggy olympics.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Adoption and Infertility Resources

Just today I learned of two more friends who have been trying to get pregnant and have not been able to. God keeps bringing more people into my life who are facing the same struggle as Mark and I have been for over five years. This prompted me to write about where we are right now and share some of the resources that have helped me.

Last week when I went to see my doctor and talked to him about adoption. I had talked with him before about fertility treatments and what options I would have since I have a chronic health concern, but this is the first time that I asked him about adoption. He said that I was fine to adopt and that he would fill out the necessary paperwork when we are ready. That was good to hear!

However, we still don't have enough money saved up, not even close. I only teach part time, and that does not pay much at all (even as a college instructor, teaching doesn't pay much). I have applied for a part time job at another college (one that is actually near our house instead of 45 minutes away on a good day!). If I get this job, it would allow us to save the money necessary in the next 1-1 1/2 years.

Regardless, Mark and I know that this situation is in God's hands. While it is hard to not get frustrated, angry, or even jealous at times, we know that He really does know what He is doing in our lives.

Two years ago, when I was going through a very difficult time, I wrote down verses on encouragment and made a scrapbook of them. The two that have really helped me are Isaiah 58:9 and Matthew 11:28.

Isaiah 58:9--Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.

Matthew 11:28--Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

I have this verse on a little picture card that I got from Family Christian several years ago, and it has a picture of a cat just laying there without a care in the world, as relaxed as can be. Yesterday, I found Josie in a similar position. You can't deny that she is as relaxed as a cat can be!

Josie makes it look so easy, but it is a daily struggle for me to go to God and let Him carry all of my burdens. I can't believe I am learning something from my cat!

I want to close by saying thanks to those who have been praying for us and encouraging us. We really appreciate it, and I know that your prayers are what sustain us at times.



P.S. On the right side of my page, I added a list of links that are worth visiting if you are struggling with infertility, thinking about adoption, or just interested in learning more.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Orphan Initiative

Evangelicals promote ‘orphan care’
Idea is to take positive steps beyond opposing abortion, same-sex adoption

DENVER - Prominent evangelical Christians are urging churchgoers to strongly consider adoption or foster care, not just out of kindness or biblical calling but also to answer criticism that their movement, while condemning abortion and same-sex adoption, doesn't do enough for children without parents.

With backing from Focus on the Family and best-selling author Rick Warren, the effort to promote "orphan care" among the nation's estimated 65 million evangelicals could drastically reduce foster care rolls if successful.

Yet sensitive issues lie ahead: about evangelizing, religious attitudes on corporal punishment, gay and lesbian foster children, racially mixed families, and resolving long-standing tensions between religious groups and the government.

Warren and others are scheduled to speak at a summit May 9-11 at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs that aims to elevate the initiative, which quietly began last fall, onto the national stage.

"In some people's minds, the church has been very pro-life up until the point of birth," said Michael Monroe, who co-founded an adoption and foster care ministry at Irving Bible Church outside Dallas. "I don't know if that's a completely fair observation. But a lot of people are saying it's not enough to be pro-life, we need to be pro-children, as well."
The effort has two major thrusts.

Aware that adoption and foster care aren't for everyone, organizers are suggesting alternatives such as providing support networks for foster families, taking short-term mission trips and sponsoring orphanages.

But largely, the goal is to get evangelicals to think about children seeking "forever families" in their own communities.

"Many times, we think of orphans as 3,000 miles away," said Mark Andre, head of the new Orphan Initiative at Focus on the Family, an evangelical group heavily involved in abortion politics. "Many people don't think of foster kids as orphans. If you look at the numbers, it just really makes sense."

More than 500,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system in 2005, the last year for which federal statistics were available. About 115,000 were waiting for adoption.

The new campaign urges churches to follow the example of groups such as Denver-based Project 1.27, which takes its name from a James 1:27 passage to "look after orphans and widows in their distress."

'Adopted by the father'"As Christians we have been adopted by the father," said executive director Christopher Padbury, who has five adopted children. "All we have to do is accept His love. We just pray these kids will accept our love."

Project 1.27 has agreements with five Colorado counties to provide training to prospective foster parents. So far, families have taken in 47 children and 21 children have been permanently adopted, Padbury said. The group is not a child placement agency, so it receives no money from counties.

Although Padbury said politics is not at the forefront of the effort, it is a factor: "If we are spending all our time complaining about homosexuals adopting, then why are we not coming forward to adopt these kids?"

Sharen Ford, a Colorado Division of Child Welfare Services manager, said some county workers initially presumed "church people beat their kids" or protested the initiative was exclusively Christian. Families, meanwhile, worried they couldn't take children to church or discipline them at all.

In Colorado and other states, the rules are firm on disciplining foster children, some of whom have been badly mistreated: no physical contact is allowed. Because corporal punishment is common among many evangelical parents, alternatives such as loss of privileges and "time outs" are urged, Ford said.

"This is government allowing itself to be vulnerable up front and sitting at the table because when a child is hurting, it's a community-wide issue — not a government issue," Ford said.
Catholic and Jewish charities have long offered adoption services, and a multistate effort called One Church, One Child has heightened awareness in the African-American church community since the 1980s.

But conflicts do arise. Last year, Catholic Charities of Boston got out of the adoption business after it was revealed it has been placing children with same-sex parents for a decade. The organization was caught between a Vatican statement calling gay adoptions "gravely immoral" and a Massachusetts state law requiring agencies that take state money to make adoption available to same-sex parents.

That controversy did not escape the notice of Tammie Snyder, executive director of Antioch Adoptions in Redmond, Wash., a Seattle suburb. The nonprofit, which grew out of Antioch Bible Church, recruits and trains parents for free and has placed 216 children since 2001 through a partnership with the state.

The agency will not work with gay and lesbian parents, and the state does not require it. But Snyder said she fears court decisions and laws granting gays and lesbians expanded rights might change that. As it is, Snyder said Antioch refers gay and lesbian parents to agencies that cater to them and have similar state partnerships.

"We want to make sure people know we are a Christian agency and our families are Christian," Snyder said. "We don't want to have to tiptoe around it."

Still other questions have arisen over gay and lesbian foster-care children. The Child Welfare League of America — which opposes efforts to change a child's sexual orientation — encourages case workers to talk with prospective parents and children about sexual orientation, said Rob Woronoff, who works on this issue for the group.

"Better to discuss that than have someone answer, 'I'll take any child,' and make the child's life miserable," Woronoff said.

Racial differencesOrganizers also are up front about another complication: The churches targeted by the campaign are predominantly white, while the majority of foster-care children are minorities. Paul Pennington, who heads an orphan initiative through FamilyLife, a Little Rock, Ark.-based evangelical group, said parents need to brace for stares and other less-than-accepting behavior from families around them.

"We want people to come in with eyes wide open," he said.

Evangelizing is another potential problem.

Focus on the Family president Jim Daly wrote supporters that he hopes the orphan-care effort "will not only equip God's people to help meet the physical needs of orphans worldwide, but will ultimately introduce them to the eternal hope that is found in Jesus Christ."

Generally, foster children can be taken to places of worship unless parents who maintain legal rights say otherwise, but forcing religion on foster children is not allowed.

"The best practice is to give kids a good, loving home," said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York. "Some people interpret that to mean a good home as having a strong faith in it. As a parent, I get that. What I'm suggesting is kids not become a tool" for evangelism.

For Matt and Kristen Donovan, abortion and same-sex adoption politics didn't factor in their decision to become foster parents. After experiencing two miscarriages in the past year, the suburban Dallas couple decided it was time to expand their family beyond their 3-year-old biological daughter.

The couple worried about bureaucratic red tape. But they also felt tugged by adoption metaphors in the Bible. Now, they share their home with a 4-month-old foster child after receiving training from Irving Bible Church.

"Our church is very much our community," said Matt Donovan, a 26-year-old graphic designer. "Having the church involved made this a journey we didn't have to take on our own."

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18442334/page/2/
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