SugarHouse Mama

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

So it's official we bought our tickets yesterday! I am so excited I couldn't sleep!

We will be heading out on the 9th of September, Robert will be returning a week later, and Sarah and I will hopefully follow on the 19th. Pray for fast visa processing. My mom will be flying through Salt Lake around the 20th for work, so if we make it home in time, she will get to meet....Ajua.

We've also tentatively decided to call her Ajua. We are fairly certain that is what she is called at the orphanage, so she is used to it (although from the video we posted a while ago, she also knows 'Sarah').

Anyway, we have also tentatively decided to spell it Ajua instead of Adwoa. That will make it a lot easier for people to recognize - and be able to pronounce - her name.

Any tips you can suggest for travelling with a 2 year old for something like 17 hours would be oh so helpful!

Here are some awesome pictures I found today... is it too much to expect our flight will be anything like this? Probably.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fabric Puppy

I finished up this cute little doggie today. I had left over fabric from the quilt I made last week. This is modeled after doggie pillows my grandma used to make for the grandkids, although this is smaller. Perfect to cuddle with on cold and blustery fall days... hopefully it makes the adjustment easier for Sarah.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Who's Gonna Save My Soul?

This is awesome. I think everyone can relate to either side of the break-up, if not both. I know I can.

A little twisted. A lot creative. I can't get enough of it. I'm totally obsessing over this video lately. I laugh every time I watch it.

Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cody and Ashley's Wedding

Cody and Ashley were married yesterday... I managed to take 3 pictures and all of them are horrible!

I was umm... a little busy.

Anyway, the ceremony was beautiful and spiritual. It was so great to see how far my little brother has come and how much he has grown up. We love Ash and are so excited to have her as part of our family.

Maybe I can have my aunt send a couple pictures so I can post them here...

Congrats Cody and Ashley!

Friday, August 22, 2008

I600A Approval

So Thursday we came home from a long day of wedding preparations to a pleasant surprise... The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has given notice of a "favorable determination concerning application for advance processing of orphan petition." Or in other words, they said YES!

We have our US approval. Now we wait for Ghana's approval.

Kingsley and the social worker will go over our dossier, making sure everything is in place and we fit the rules of Ghanaian adoption. Kingsley is going to request a court date of September 4th! Hopefully he gets it!

After we have court approval and Ghana says we can take Sarah out of the country, we can fly over there!

On a side note, it seems that Ghana is now being forced to strictly enforce a not-so-fun little adoption law. Their law states that interim adoptions may be granted up to 2 years, and that final adoptions will not be granted right out unless it is in the best interest of the child. Up until now, most judges have determined that it is in the best interest of the child to have a finalized adoption when leaving the country.

Apparently some other countries have complained that Ghana is not following their own laws and they are forcing the Ghanaian judges to issue interim adoptions of 2 years from here on out. :(

That means that we will be considered Sarah's legal guardians, but we will not have a finalized adoption decree for probably 2 years. :(

Most adoption experts (mostly people who work at agencies and have seen this in many, many other countries) are not really worried about it and say it won't really effect the adoption. I suppose the idea is that if the child and adoptive parents don't bond over the 2 years, the child can go back to the country. It's not a permanent thing that can't revoked or changed, unlike finalized adoptions.

We've been assured that it is EXTREMELY unlikely that Ghana (or any other country for that matter) would just take the child back as opposed to awarding a finalized adoption after the 2 years.

But you know what? I'm still a little *annoyed*. I want Sarah, no "take-backs." Do you think that game works with the courts??? lol. I hope so!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

3 Months Later....

Our concrete project is finally finished! Ok. 3 months might be an exaggeration, but it has still been a lot longer than expected. We were initially quoted something like 1-2 weeks.

We learned recently that the products Jaron ordered well over 6 weeks ago were never really ordered at all. The supplier just took Jaron's money and never placed his order. Awesome.

You know, the worst thing about a tightening economy is that it really brings out the nastiness in people....

Anyway, 6 weeks, many phone calls, and a potential lawsuit (Jaron suing the supplier) later, we have our finished walkway and patio area.

It's the color we wanted, and I just love the way the tiles have so much depth in texture. It's going to be really fun decorating our patio! I can't wait!

Walkway up to the house.

Porch that wraps around the house. I have some pieces from my grandma that I will put out on this front section. I'm hoping her green thumb comes with the planters and furniture...I sure need the help!

A lovely view of the dog run that was meant to be a lovely view of the compass rose Jaron designed. He hand did every last bit of this project. It's amazing!

This is a good view showing the different levels. Oh, and that's some of the furniture we had to move off the concrete while Jaron was working. At the bottom of the picture, you can see a letter "E". That's the east point on the compass rose. It's a metal inlay and it's really cool. We did them for all the points.

Last one. This is the front porch again. I will be so glad to have this extra porch space. That little tiny stoop just wasn't enough space to really have fun with.

Well that's about it! Thanks Jaron! We really love it. I'm just sorry our project will be labeled the nightmare project because of all the problems we had - at least they were problems with outsiders....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Odds and Ends and How I'm Finishing Them Up

What is it about your mom coming into town that makes you finish all those odds and ends?

Mom and dad are flying in from Hawaii for Cody's wedding. We are picking them up at the airport at 7 tonight. So to get ready for them I:

Finished piecing the top of Sarah's quilt. This will be the quilt for her bed. Of course, the room is still in progress, but I had vowed I wouldn't put away my sewing stuff unless this was finished. Because mom is coming, I have to put away my sewing stuff... I believe the 'proof' looks something like this:

Mom cannot come into my messy house.
AND Sewing things are a clutter.
AND Sewing things cannot be put away until quilt top is finished.

THEREFORE Quilt top must be finished so mom can come into my not-messy house.

This is how my brain works. This is also why the floors may not be vacuumed/mopped and the dusting may not be done when she comes. Because, let's face it, sewing the quilt is WAY more fun than vacuuming and dusting!

Oh, and during the same run of logic stated above, I also finished putting together the porcelain dolls my mom and I made. And I sealed and puttied the seams and nail holes on the beadboard Robert installed last night. And then I needed a break from all my hard work so I decided to blog for a bit.

Really, though, mom should visit more often... I get a lot of odds and ends finished up.

Quilt top for Sarah's bed. The center patchwork is just simple, 5" squares. The applique flowers in the boarders were the toughest part. I used blue thread to help define the applique pieces.

African dolls my mom and I made. I brought back fabric and beads from Ghana so I could make a doll with my mom. Five years later we finally did it!

Mom's doll.

My doll.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jacob Scott Sorenson

Amber had her baby on Friday! Karen sent an email out announcing him :

Jacob was a little shy and didn't want to come. They eventually did a c-section and both mom and baby are fine. Jacob was 9 lbs and 4 oz.
Here are some pics I just received from Karen:

Jacob Scott Sorenson

Big Sister Maddy holding Jacob. I LOVE Maddy! Isn't she adorable?!?!?!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Where do you Belong?

This was a fun little quiz. And I do mean little. It's only about 5 questions...

You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.

A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.

A unique soul like you needs a city that offers everything.

No wonder you and London will get along so well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brian Regan

Robert took me to the Brian Regan show at Thanksgiving Point last night. It was AWESOME! He did some bits we haven't heard before. We were laughing so hard we cried!

Thanks Babe!

Here's one of my favs...probably because I've been looking at so many children's books lately!

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Emergency!!! I Need Your Opinion...

I'm not over-reacting, I do consider this an emergency....

We are getting Sarah's room all ready - I need help choosing colors.

We are installing beadboard to a height of about 5 feet. Right above the bead board, between two pieces of trim, I want to paint a horizontal blue stripe. The remainder of the wall, up to the ceiling will be yellow.

So that's:

white trim
beadboard down to floor

The fabric will be used for curtains. Which shades should I use????

Update from Immigration Services

So yesterday...because I just can't let it go ;) ...I emailed the immigration officer in charge of reviewing our adoption application.

The local website had a turn-around time of 2-3 months, but when we submitted our paperwork we were told it would be about 1-2 weeks after our fingerprinting appointment. The discrepancy made me....ummm nervous. So I sent a friendly, just-curious email.

I was expecting the response to take a couple days (that's what the website instructed me to expect). Within 5 minutes I had my answer! Owen, the man in charge of our file said we could expect our letter within 2 weeks of completing our fingerprinting.

That's next Wednesday!

So. It's looking more and more like we will be able to bring Sarah home in a month!

Kingsley spoke with the social welfare officer in Ghana about Sarah's file. It will take 2 weeks to review our dossier paperwork (they should receive it today or tomorrow). Then the court date will be set. The social worker thinks Sarah will be ready in about a month.

Crazy! This whole process has been so smooth for us. We are so grateful to have Lois and Kingsley helping - we owe the ease to them, for sure.

We are thankful that God has made a quick and (so far) easy journey for us. We know the pain most adoptive families can go through, so we are very, very grateful. He has given us amazing people to work with and, most importantly, he has kept Sarah safe and healthy!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reflections of Christ

I added a video at the bottom of my blog. Check it out, it is amazing. I didn't do it as a post, because I want it to stay on my blog for a while.

The photos were on exhibit in the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors Center.

You can leave your comments on the video here, if you would like.

Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

FSA Adoption Conference

Here are some general notes and comments regarding the classes I took at the Families Supporting Adoption Conference I attended this weekend:

Shifting Gears: Blessings and Challenges of Transitions

Talk about adoption.
Don’t ignore adoption in the home. Let the topic come up naturally, don’t force it or make a big deal about it, and keep it short.

Be honest with your Social Worker. Get help if you need it. Ask questions. Don’t think if you say everything is perfect, he/she will believe you.

Accept help. Life will not be the same. You are still a new parent, even though you didn’t give birth. Other things will fall away as you focus on parenting. It’s normal, natural, and expected.

It is normal to not be instantly bonded to your child. Bonding always take time and effort. Attachment is work no matter how a child is added to your family. Study and research development, and don’t leave your spouse out!

Attend to your marriage.

Recommended reading from this session: Post Adoption Blues; “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence” (Jeffrey R. Holland).

Raising Adopted Children within Your Home

Learn what is normal for that age

Learn what is normal for your child

THEN it’s ok to ask if the behavior/problem is related to adoption. Hang things on the adoption hook last.

Share feelings/Share knowledge with your child.

Validate the child’s feelings

Creating Lifebooks

Keep it factual. The birth, reason for adoption, etc. need to be concrete.

Include the child in creation of lifebook when it is age appropriate.

Write it in story form so it is easy to sit down and read in one setting Lifebook answers Who Am I? Creates positive self-esteem, increases comfort level in discussing adoption. It’s a tool to discuss adoption from early ages. Provides attachment rituals.

Recommended reading: Lifebooks by Beth O’Malley.

Supporting Adopted Children Outside of Your Home

Children assess the significance of differences by teasing. It’s the response that matters. Teasing is part of a child’s development. It’s how they test social rules, etc. Don’t always step in. Children need to learn how to work it out themselves. BUT watch out for bullying. If it is hurtful to the child’s self-esteem, it has gone too far.

1. Model appropriate behavior for your child
2. Nurture his/her self-esteem
3. Resist the urge to minimize his/her experience
4. Resist the urge to explode with outrage
When child has an encounter ask him/her:

1. What happened?
2. How did it make you feel?
3. What did you say?
4. Are you happy with how you handled it?
5. Is there anything you want me to do?
Teach your child his/her options when confronted with questions, etc.

Walk-Away (typically used if teasing, bullying, etc. is involved)

“It’s Personal”

Share Something. (Typically something general. No need for personal, private information to be revealed)

Educate (Take a moment to teach the person something about adoption)

Understanding Transracial Adoption and Raising a Transracially Adopted Child

(My personal favorite class although you wouldn’t know it from my notes! It mostly involved discussing race and culture. It was really interesting and REALLY good.)

Utah has the highest rate of transracial adoption in the country. Go Utah!

As your child grows, he/she will start addressing race:

Preschool: Child starts to recognize differences. Parents need to acknowledge differences.

Elementary: Child starts accepting group identity (e.g. all the black children play in one group) Parents need to counter the dominant culture.

Pre-Adolescence: Child begins to search for personal identity. Parents need to support exploration.

Recommended reading: Black Baby White Hands, Courageous Conversations about Race, Does Anybody Look Like Me?, Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage by Maria P.P. Root.

Those are my lame notes! Lol. Most of the time I was so busy absorbing that I didn’t write down much, and you know how it goes, the presentation as a whole is never fully communicated in the notes one takes.

I met some really amazing people at the conference this weekend. I am so excited to get to know them better and learn from their experiences. There are some really remarkable people out there!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dossier Mailed!

So. Tuesday night I met up with Andy and Jessica. They just got back from Ghana and had all our paperwork from the social worker there.

I spent Wednesday compiling our documents for the dossier, getting things notarized, and swinging by the Dr. to have them sign the Ghanaian medical slip for us. I then, oh I don't know, octuple-checked everything several times throughout the course of the evening.

I made 4 copies of all our paperwork and then neatly stacked everything so it was ready to mail Thursday morning.

Today I went to the post office, carefully placed everything in a VERY large envelope (the stack was easily an inch and a half thick!), and jotted a quick note to Kingsley:
Thank you SO much for everything! We really appreciate all your hard work - God Speed!

My hands shook as I filled out the shipping information and handed our precious packet of paperwork over to the postal clerk. It was a very real moment for me. I felt like it proved that we meant business.

That and I no longer had control over anything. All those important papers are no longer in my possession. Sure I have copies of everything here at home. But still. If someone asks me where it is...I don't know. And it would take a week to get replacement docs to Kingsley.

I'm such a control-freak.

Maybe that's why I made 4 copies of everything. Kingsley will need to turn in most of them to various government entities, but there should be enough to go around - just in case.

So now we wait.

We wait for our I-600 approval letter from the US government. And we wait for Kingsley to wrap up everything on the Ghanaian side.

In the meantime Robert and I are going to get to work on preparing Sarah's room! That will be FUN!


Well, it's over now. Believe it or not, I actually DID watch the entire season.... I just got too busy to blog about it and search for my fav videos.

I was hoping for either Joshua or Katee, but I really thought it was going to come down to Twitch and Katee. So. I was close.

It was fun to see Nigel and Mary dance... and holy cow! I had NO IDEA Mary Murphy had legs like that. Amazing. I was envious, but then I always am jealous of long legs.

Congrats Joshua! You deserve it, and I just adore how you get all chocked up all the time!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Letter to the Director to Social Welfare

So today I'm doing the last bit of work on the dossier. I am *patiently* waiting for Andy and Jessica to return so we can fill out the paperwork Kingsley sent. Once that is done, it's all out of our hands.

Honestly, I think I will be relieved that I've done all I can do, you know. Shelley assures me that will last for a few days and then I will be anxiety-ridden because there is nothing I can do.

Anyway, as part of the letter to the Director of Social Welfare, we are supposed to include information about us, our home, and why we want to adopt from Ghana. Shelley suggested we also include the assurance that we will teach Sarah about her Ghanaian culture, etc.

So I've been thinking about it. It's probably easier for me because I've already been there. In fact, we chose Ghana because of my love for the country and the people. From the beginning I have been excited to teach Sarah about her cultural background.

I look forward to telling Sarah Anansi stories, how kente cloth is made, and the symbolic significance of cowrie shells; to describing the spicy smell in the heavy Ghanaian air, how the rain comes suddenly and is so heavy you feel like you can swim in it, and the way the sun pierces deeply into your skin in Ghana; to teaching her how to greet people, inquiring about them and their family, and that when you welcome someone into your home, you always offer something to drink.

Anansi, the Trickster

I can’t wait to share with her that, traditionally, Ghanaian women wore bright beads that circled their waists and wrists; red is the color of mourning; the elephant tusk is really hard to play, and balancing things on your head is an art that takes a lot of practice and grace.

I love this picture, isn't she beautiful?

Practicing, and yes, my washing tub is empty. (summer, 2002)

I think their grace moves right out of the picture. I was walking past them to the school and just had to turn around and snap this picture, they were so perfect. (summer, 2002)

Sarah will be taught about the history of Elmina and Kwame Nkrumah; she will know Ajua is her Ghanaian name because she was born on Monday, and that I would be called Aba, and Robert Yao because we were both born on a Thursday.

Kwame Nkrumah led Ghana to independence in the 1950's.

I will admit to her that the salted fish sold in the markets scare me a little, but that I love eating fu-fu and bushmeat with my hands, and nothing is better than red-red and the boiled eggs in Ghana.

Eating fu-fu and bushmeat...yummy. (summer, 2002)

In short, she will know we love her and everything about her. She will know we love Ghana, and that she should be proud of her heritage.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ashley's Bridal Shower

So yesterday I hosted a Bridal Shower for Ashley. (Ashley is my brother, Cody's, finance).

Anyway, everything went well. Ashley got some awesome stuff (can you guys move closer so we can borrow the make-brownies-while-camping-gadget?)

It was great to see everyone who came - Thanks everyone!

I was pretty busy hosting (whatever that means), so I only got a couple pics and the lighting is terrible in most of them :( That's what happens when you just point and shoot.
Yummy food
Family and Friends (ok, some of them)

Bryce and Katie

For info on Cody and Ashley's wedding, click here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Want a PUPPY!

I was browsing my pics and found these adorable shots I took of Eden like, umm, a day after we brought her home.

Oh my gosh she is sooooo cute! I started screaming that I want a PUPPY! (Yes, it sounded an awful lot like a 4-year old).

Robert stared at me dead-pan and said, "No you don't." Then got up to go clean up the yard in preparation for Ashley's Bridal Shower tomorrow.

Beware - don't let any of your kids see these pics, and Aimee, you might want to keep Corbin away from my blog for a few one can resist this face!

(p.s. In case you were wondering how I ever forgave Eden for eating my beloved Hat Boxes quilt, you're about to see for yourself the power of her wonderfully expressive face. Then you'll understand.)

All tuckered out from a long and involved photo shoot.