Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Teenagers and a Honeymoon

After eleven wonderful years of marriage my wife and I were convinced to take the honeymoon that we never got a chance to take. My mother planned a five day trip for us to the Rivera Maya in Mexico. We were reluctant to go because of the financial obligations we have made to our adoption. After my mother and some close friends shared with us that we may not take a trip like this for another five years or more after we add another child to our family. So, we chose to go on the trip just before Christmas and the kids got to hang with the grandparents, win-win in my book. We had a great time and it was nice to take our mind off of waiting for a couple of days.





Snowman or Sandman?


Beautiful!


A little excitement on the way back to the airport!


We are unofficially teenagers! Nineteen on the girls list and thirteen on the boys list. How exciting is that? So now we are back to the fun game of waiting. So I have come up with a few projects to take my mind off of it. One project for example was cleaning the white mortar joints in the shower as well as cutting out the yucky old caulking joints and replacing them. The newest project is carving out a banana shaped pinewood derby car for my son’s cub scouts.



The Holidays have been wonderful and we are so thankful for everyone’s health and wellbeing this year.
Tony

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dec. Numbers

Not much in the way of movement as far as number are concerned. We are still officially 15 for a boy and 23 for a girl. There have been a few referrals over the past week, so our unofficial numbers are a little lower. There are a lot a families traveling to Ethiopia this month for court dates and embassy dates. As children began going home with their new families I would assume that Hanna's Hope will have more children arriving soon. We are going to be in the single digit numbers before we know it. As every day passes we are one day closer to meeting our new little "D".
Have a Merry Christmas,
Tony

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We have had a lot of fun getting ready for the
Christmas season. We put up lights on the outside of the house and made holiday cookies from scratch with the kids. Now that was fun!









We are headed down to Pigeon Forge, TN to visit with my father. He is currently working at Dolly Wood in the show “T’was the night before Christmas”. He is playing the part or St. Nick. This is going to be great!




Have a safe and joyous holiday,
Tony

Monday, November 8, 2010

November Numbers

Our new number on the boys list is;



The new number for the girls list is;



We are so excited about the progress that we have been making towards our referral day. We can't wait to meet the little person that God has planed to join our family. I can only guess what wonders lie ahead. Carrie shared our plans to adopt with our church family this past Sunday.

Tony

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Times

Family outings, walks and dinners together have made me feel much more connected with my family. This month has been very exciting as far as our adoption is concerned. We are unofficially in the 20's on the girls list and in the teen's on the boys list. Families that have been waiting the past two months for the courts to re-open in Ethiopia all at once received their call. Soon and very soon we will be receiving that same call and our lives will forever be changed as we seek to continue to glorify our wonderful savior.

As we wait we continue to enjoy time at the zoo. We also had a fun evening out with friends to the local bowling alley, what a hoot. Tomorrow is trick or treat night, so the kids decided to carve up their little pumpkins. It was so fun seeing them dig out the inners. Good times!

Bowling




Zoo!





What are you looking at?


My wife took this amazing photo! WOW!


Hey pumpkin.


Here is a picture of the sunset looking out the back window of our home tonight. Just beautiful.


We are looking forward to sharing all of these fun activites and family outings with the newest member of our family, soon to come.
Tony

Monday, October 11, 2010

After school

I actually left work by 3:30 today. I didn’t have any papers to take home to grade and I didn’t have golf. It felt really strange, so strange that I decided to carry my empty bag home with me. I guess this made me feel a little more comfortable. I was able to get home just about the time my wife was leaving the house to walk and pick up my son from school. I walked along with her to the school and when my son came out he said “Wow, you both came to pick me up? Why are you both here?” My wife then spoke up and said “Daddy is finished with golf until next year.” He quickly said “YES!” He then turned to me and asked if we could play football when we got home. Of course we played football, all four of us throwing, running and rolling around on the ground. I love spending time together like this and this fall weather is beautiful.
Tony

Monday, October 4, 2010

Whirlwind

Our life is like a whirlwind, but the winds should be dying down very soon. Tomorrow my high school golf team travels to participate in sectionals. Once Golf is over there will be no more long evenings away from the family and more time to focus on other important aspects of my life. This past weekend was so fun. We had our two nieces over for a sleep over (1yr old and a 4 yr old). The house was transformed into a princess wonderland with dresses being changed about ever fifteen minutes. I am also really glad that summer has past but can we enjoy some fall before the winter... another 40 degree night.

We are slowly moving our way down the adoption wait list but I bet we still have another six or seven months to wait impatiently.
Tony

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hiking

After Church today my wife felt the desire for us to do something together as a family. We would have gone for a bike ride except that I bent the rear rim on my bicycle a week earlier. She brought up a hiking trip we took down in southern Ohio a couple of years ago and how much fun it was. It would have taken us two hours to drive back down there, so I searched the internet for a more local park/trail. I found a park about thirty minutes away from our house, so we loaded up in the van and away we went.

Over the past month or so we decided to do a t-shirt exchange with some of the other families that were adopting. This week we received the (Adoption Rocks) shirts from the Huson family (North Dakota). After changing out of our Sunday dress clothes my wife decided to put on her t-shirt.


I had never been to the park before, so I was not sure where the trails started or ended. As I drove deeper and deeper into the park (which was very busy) I finally found a place to park. Imagine that, a busy park on Labor Day weekend. Just off of the end of the parking lot there was an opening into the woods. As we entered we found a map that showed a five mile loop trail. I thought to myself this is going to be an awesome long walk and it should wear the kids out. We saw some incredible wildlife and scenery. Some of the wild life that we got to see was a deer, cardinal, squirrel, hawk and a woodpecker.





There were a lot of other families out enjoying Mother Nature as well. Then I heard a lady talking to her husband as they walked past me in the other direction, she said “Maybe we should ask them”. To this I stopped and said sure what can I help you with? (This is where it gets cool) She said I noticed your wife’s shirt and my husband and I were just discussing this not more than a minute earlier. We shared with them about our involvement with Ethiopia and the schools and how it led us to the decision to adopt from ET. We told them all about our agency, timeline, finances and our excitement. We gave them our number and told them to feel free to call if they had more questions or if they wanted to meet and talk more about adoption. What a great hike!



Interesting how God works out his plan, a t-shirt from North Dakota worn on a trail in the woods in central Ohio that we have never been on before and on a holiday weekend.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fast and Slow

My life seems to be in high gear with each day flying by in a blur. School, coaching, e-mails, grading/planning, put the kids to bed REPEAT. Then we are busy running youth retreats on the weekend. My son has started second grade and I have yet to find the time to post a single picture. Then someone will ask "how is the adoption process going?" Slow. I wonder everyday where our child is and who the little person is. Referals have been coming very slowly for our agency, which is partly due to the closure of the courts in Ethiopia. They are closed during the rainy season, August & September. I can only hope that we will recieve our referal in six to seven more months. I would love for my life to slow down and for the adoption to speed up :0)

Tony

Monday, August 16, 2010

FPU & Adoption

Financial Peace University; a finance course lead by Dave Ramsey, a talk radio host and finance guru. I read Dave’s book “The Total Money Makeover”, which was given to me about a year earlier by a church member and he shared with me how the course was changing his life. Well, after reading the book and hearing what the fellow member had to share, I attended the first course offered at our church and it started in January of this year.

In January and February we were finalizing our decision to adopt from Ethiopia. After praying and researching for months, we decided to say yes to the call on our lives. I always thought we would adopt but I never knew what it would like for our family. The funny part is that a year earlier we decided we were done having children, but God had bigger plans for us. For those who may not realize it, adoption is very expensive ($25K - $30K). As we were saying yes to the call, we were not sure how we would pay for it.

As I continued through the Financial Peace University course I learned how important it is to get out of debt completely. No car loan, no student loan, no credit card debt, Life insurance, wills, investments…Etc. It is a great finance course and I encourage everyone to take it. I really believe that God led us into this course, and into adoption. My huge struggle was, how could God call us to go deeper in debt (adoption) and at the same time call us to be debt free. Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender”. I was so torn by this, I prayed and prayed asking God “am I hearing wrong?”. We continued attending the classes into March and by this time we had officially started the process with our agency AGCI. I continued to pray and ask if we were following his plan for our life. (maybe you can see what’s coming, if not keep reading because this is good).

There are a total of 13 classes in the FPU course and I would listen to the audio version of every lesson before attending the class and watching the video version. Kind of like watching a movie twice, where you catch stuff you missed the first time. I did this for every lesson accept the final one. I’m not sure why, I just didn’t. So, on the night of the final lesson I sat in my seat proud of the changes my wife and I had made to our budget, and really excited to be on the same page financially. There was no financial stress in our marriage and we had a plan/goal to get out of debt completely. There was just one little hang up, this whole expensive adoption that kept me questioning God’s call on our life. At the beginning of every lesson there is a testimonial given by average everyday people who share about this particular lesson and how it has changed their lives. The testimonial is about a family who is trying to get out of debt and on one cold evening they run into a family from their church. They have some small talk and the family shares how they started with $60k in debt and are now down to $10k. The other family is happy for them and asks them what do you want to do when your debt free. The father laughs and says “I told my kids I would buy them a trampoline”… he laughs and then says “what we would really like to do is adopt.” (This is about the time God hit me right in the heart). The next day when the father was at work the other guy came to pay him a visit and brought him a brand new trampoline. He said “You have worked so hard, and we want to do this for you and your family”. The father was floored “Who does this? Who gives a stranger a gift like this?” He took it home and set it up that night and his kids jumped and played on it until it was too dark to see. About a week later the couple from the church contacted the family and wanted to come over to talk with them about something. Well, the family felt they were up to one of those pyramid schemes and wanted nothing to do with it. The couple was very persistent and finally they agreed to meet. The husband told his wife not to agree to anything. So, the couple arrived at their home checked out the trampoline and then dropped the bomb on the family. “The reason we wanted to meet with you is because you told us if you were out of debt you wanted to adopt. Well we don’t want you to wait. We want to pay off the rest of your debt… now how do you spell your name?” The family couldn’t believe it “Who gives a stranger $10K?” The couple said the only stipulation is that they don’t reveal their identity and that they don’t act weird around them at church.

In the next part of the video they show footage of the families adopted daughter jumping on the trampoline and then leaping into her fathers’ arms. This final lesson was all about giving. I had to get up out of my seat and head to the restroom because of the tears streaming down my face. See for three months I struggled and questioned God’s call on our life, how could he want us to do both of these things at the same time. God revealed to me that night that he led us to the course, so that we could get our finances in order to be able to adopt our child. It was never about the money, but rather all about a little child he has planned for our family. God is SO GOOD.

Up to this point not including what we have paid on our home this year, we paid cash for a nice used minivan, we have spent $11k toward our adoption, and we have also paid off $5k worth of debt. (All of this on a teacher and minister’s salary) We have a plan to be out of debt completely inside of 2yrs. We bought the van because we will need a larger vehicle to fit our soon to be three children in.

This past weekend I was asked to share the ministry moment in our church about the FPU class. I did not choose to share this story with the congregation but I did share how God lead us to take the class. They are offering the class again in the fall and in the winter at our church this year. I can’t wait to see how God changes other family’s lives through this course.



The Dave Ramsey Financial Peace plaza is located in Brentwood, TN. So, after attending the AGCI picnic in Brentwood we stopped by the plaza and took a couple of pictures.



www.daveramsey.com

Tony

Favorable Determination

Great news, we received our “favorable determination letter” from the USCIS immigration department. This is just another small step along our journey to our child.
I wish I had more time to blog about all that is going on each day during our journey, but I can’t seem to find the time. I am a golf coach and our season started about two weeks ago. I start back in the classroom as a teacher officially this Wednesday. My son is starting second grade and my daughter will begin pre-school. I will try to share some pictures of the first day back. I also want to share about a financial class we attended which has helped us in our adoption process. So, I hope to be sharing these few things in the next weeks to come.

Tony

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Canvases are Done

And so is the room!! Woo Whooo! We Love it and hope you do too. We have been waiting for 4-beautiful canvases to be painted by one of our incredibly talented youth form our church. She painted a mural and scripture on the wall about a month ago and it all looks so AWESOME.

The pictures will start with the way the room looked before we started and finish with the way it looks today.




























So beautiful, isn't it? All we need now is a beutiful little baby and the room will be complete and so will our family.

Tony

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nashville Picnic

I can't think of a better way to end our two week vacation then getting to meet and visit with other families that have a passion for adoption. Our agency AGCI held a picnic at a park in Nashville for those who have, are in the process of or might be interested in adopting. The weather was very HOT and humid but thankfully Kristi planned ahead and had some fun water toys for the kids to enjoy.

There were families that travelled from so many different states to come together in fun and fellowship. Gods' presence was there and the day was a huge success. Soon after we began our journey to adoption we learned about this whole new world of blogging (I have never read one or heard much about it). Well, in my curiosity to learn more from others that have gone before us, I began searching and reading. I started following certain families blogs and sending them questions through e-mail. I then decided to start our own blog so we could share with friends and family members in many different cities and states about our adoption.

In a weird sense some of these families from the different blogs have become friends or almost like family (connected by a passion for adoption). So, the picnic was almost like a family reunion but yet most of us were just meeting personally for the first time. What an exciting and enjoyable day. Who cares if I was drenched in my own sweat? I had conversations with some really awesome followers of Christ and I could feel God comforting us as we discovered how much our families were alike. Here are some pictures we took with friends we have met during our journey and through the world of blogging.

Alison and Jody (Lovin much)


Jenni and Lee (1 in 17)


Andrea with Isaac (babe of my heart)


Kristi with Lucy (our family advocating for orphans)


Kristi put together a great video on her journey to her daughter. I have it posted on the bottom of my blog, if you have not seen it please go check it out.

Thank you for a great time,
Tony