My first flowers

Here they are, my first flowers from Sam. I am so proud of them. He brought them home from the baby sitter today. I work late on Mondays so he is in bed already. I cannot wait to hear him tell me about them tomorrow morning! I am so proud of them! I am also ever so thankful for the wonderful home that he stays at while we are working. Our babysitters are the best! 2 sisters and their mom (well, the whole family) help care for Sam. He calls the girls Mimi and Nay-Nay. I think he could say their names, but the other kids call them this, so it has stuck. I am so confident in the care they provide Sam, the daily teaching, and extra special hugs. I never have a fear or worry about his safety and the loving home he stays at. I am especially thankful that it is a Godly home. And, I know they read the blog from time to time - so thank your from the bottom of our hearts for loving Sam so much! And for the flowers, too!

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord...

Joe Graber

Has a nice simple ring to it doesn't it? Well, that is what we were going for and now it is official! Joe's BM signed off for the final time on Friday.

What's in a name?
Joseph Daniel Luis Graber

Joseph - I like, growing to love it. It was on our short list of names when we got Joe's referral. I must admit I was pulling for Elijah, but since my husband pronounces this Elisha (but doesn't like that spelling) - we nixed it. Back to Joseph. We liked it and when we found out that our little man's birth name was Jose - our decision was made! Dan's dad's middle name is Joe and I had an uncle who has passed away named Joseph.

Daniel - Think maybe daddy has an inkling that this is his last boy. Daniel is a strong family name for his materal side. At one time there were 11 family members with a version of the name.

Luis - Birth middle name. I love this little name - and if I thought it would be prononuced correctly (not louis) - I might have used it for a first name.

Anyway - loving this man more everyday and imagining all the ways he will change our lives for the better! Next steps are birth certificate and DNA...pray for speedy fingers in the records office in Tactic, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala (where Joe was born).


My Fiesta- a gift from my Mom

Fiesta dishes are some of my favorite keepsakes from my mom. I have many others, but overtime they tend to lose their style and sometimes even their shape. But, my fiesta dishes are one of my prized possessions. These dishes filled my childhood home for as long as I can remember. This was passed on from my mom's childhood in a turnabout kinda way. You see, my mom ate on Fiesta dishes (always in a rainbow of colors) and she despised it. She vowed when she had her own home that she would have matching dishes. And she did and she liked it until a few years after her parents had passed away (both of my grandparents were gone prior to my birth). After her parents passed away, she gave these dishes to family members never to see them again.
In the middle 80s (my father passed away in 1984 - I will post on this someday) my mom aunts cousins and I loved to go to antique shops and look for treasures probably to help pass lonely times. Low and behold Fiesta dishes once again caught my mom's eyes. Her passion (and mine) for Fiesta were born then and our quest to find it began! We searched high and low at shops, yard sales, estate sales. I must say we were quite successful and at a very low price because Fiesta's popularity had not hit again yet. It decorated and filled my Mom's hutch and along with tins our Hoosier Cabinet.
In the late 80s-early 90s Homer-Laughlin began to make replication Fiesta and it is now available at many retail outlets. I have a lot of NEW Fiesta and attempt to purchase a place setting in each new color. Since there are 2-3 a year - my collection is quite large (hee,hee). I love the New Fiesta and this is what we eat on. But I fully treasure my Old Fiesta, it is a strong connection to my mom.
My sister-in-law Christine also loves Fiesta and has her kitchen decorated with these bright colors. Our cabinets are brimming, but it is difficult to pass up a piece of a new color. When she married my brother, she already had the passion and registered for Black Fiesta - sooooo pretty. And my brother Will caught the passion when he and his wife bought their dog a Fiesta food bowl!
On a trip out east, my inlaws stopped in Newell, WV and I was able to shop at the factory outlet - big breath - my heart beats fast thinking about it. It was awesome. Since I am not a perfectionist - turning that small flaw in the dish to the back to get it for 1.99 - well worth it to me! I carried out 2 crates of stuff!! And most recently, my spark for this post, my favorite store in Pigeon Forge,TN is closing. We scoped it out early on in our many trips to the Smokies and returned everytime. The clerk recognized me this trip and told me they are being sold. So here's the the Rebel Dish Barn - you will be missed!
My mom passed away almost 11 years ago and I miss her with an ache in my heart that cannot be described. Her memory is ever bright today on her birthday. I am glad that some friends are coming over for a pool party, so I will celebrate in style. I do wish however that I could have said, no, can't today is my mom's birthday, and I am going to celebrate with her....


Out of PGN!!!!!!!

Really, Mama, I'm out of PGN?? Yippee - can't wait to come home and be with my forever family! You'd better start praying for my first (foster) mama, Norma, though. I'm afraid she will be really sad when I leave.
I got the call this morning at 10am from our coordinator, Amanda. She made small talk of all things to start the conversation - asking how our vacation was, etc. I was thinking - might be bad news b/c if it were good she would have spilled it. Finally she said - your case sailed thru PGN and you are

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Sam, by far, had the best reaction. I called him today my nieces were watching him. When Blake answered, she said you just called 30 min ago - we are fine. I laughed and asked to talk to Sam. He rambled on in jibberish until I said Guess What? He said what - I said Baby Joe is coming home - he repeated me so Blake grabs the phone and says really? Sam went on repeating the pharse all day. I have it on video but don't know how to post it on here!
We are thankful and remain prayerful for the next coming weeks.
What's next? There are a few steps, I will post them on our Adoption Timeline and update as they happen. The estimate we were given was 6 weeks or so. Our prayer is to have him home for his 1st birthday! (and mine...)
More exciting updates to come!


Day Out With Thomas the Train - 2008

We made some memories today. Here he is... Thomas the Train! We loved our ride on Thomas the best. He puffed white smoke as he pulled his passenger coaches down the track. I guess all the Thomas videos and books have paid off. Mama and Sam could answer all the conductor's questions on the train. Thomas pulls Annie and Clarabel - Sam said we were riding Annie (Thomas's favorite.)
All sacked out after a a fun day out with my favorite character - Thomas the Tank Engine. Toot Toot. Notice, he is not about to let go of Salty and the Ocean Cars. We found these in the souviner booth. I looked on vacation but couldn't find them!

Here we are! We packed up and headed 3 hours to see Thomas the Train. It was worth the ride. There was so much for Sam to take in!
OK, so he doesn't look so proud here, but even after we got home, he said Ma, "Look it, a Thomas paper!"
After our ride - it was a lot of fun - Sam was not sure what to think, but Dan and I really liked it a lot! We made some memories for Sam so we can remind him often.
I know, I know - we have these at home (well, not the Thomas brand). Anyway it didn't mater to Sam, I think he could've played at this spot for hours. As it was, we spent about 30 minutes at this spot.
Another free train ride included in the price of admission. It went pretty far from the start, Sam looked kinda nervous by the end. We had a wonderful day making precious memories.

Some included:

1. The drive - it was solid 3 hours and we estimated a little under that. We got there just in time for bathroom and then boarding the train.

2. Nank you - Sam has finally begun to say Thank you - a small victory - and he uses it all the time.

3. Peaces - Yesterday at my Great Aunt's funeral the preist said to offer each other an appropriate sign of Peace. Dan kissed Sam and Sam picked up on this and now calls kisses Peaces.

4. Watching Sam next to the real live Thomas!

5. Enjoying the souviner tent.

6. Singing the Thomas song and wearing the conductor hat in the car.


Birthday Girl

My niece Jaelyn turned 5 yesterday! I love this photo of her, during our vacation, I had a hard time getting her to smile for the camera, but her personality is so sweet that she cannot resist a shy smile. She is such a beautiful mix of my brother and his wife. She has pretty skin and thick hair - and eyes that just talk without words. I am extra proud of you Jaelyn - and I cannot belive that kindergarten is later this summer! I know you will do great!
After we got back from the beach on our 1st day there, she sat with me on the deck outside our room and asked what I was doing. I told her I was listening to the waves. She asked what they were saying. I laughed and told her that they are relaxing. She just smiled.
Five years ago, I was given an opportunity of a lifetime. Will called from Indy and said Jill was in labor. Jill's mom Janice was coming up and we could ride together. We got to the hospital around noon that day. We were in and out of the room and by around 3am when Jaelyn finally came, they said we could stay in the delivery room. Whether it was planned that way or they were both delirious, it has been a moment I have always cherished. I can remember those moments like it was yesterday - Jaelyn's squished face; Jill telling Will to focus on her and not her nurse coach (we discovered she was from our area minutes before birth!); tears of joy from my brother, and Grandma Janice holding her 1st granddaughter. At the time, I thought it was preparation for my turn that was surely just around the corner, right? Well, I now know it was more than that, it was my chance to see a miracle. It is not likely that I will have birthchildren and while I am just fine with this...
I am ever so grateful to have experienced this -
one true miracle. Thank you.


Kiawah Island, SC

Our Family Vacation
Kiawah Island, SC
June 2008

Cole, Blake, Morgan and I out on a bike ride - Thurs. morning - thought I would spare you the photos of myself on the bike!
My brother Will and his two kids Jaelyn and Drew. We arrived on Saturday evening around 6pm and put on our suits and headed to the beach. There was no time to waste and we started the vacation is style!
Sam drug these boogie boards around when we went to the beach. He really liked the pool and by the end of the week he was swimming independently with the help of water wings. He got braver and braver with the ocean too! He would march full speed ahead until a wave came crashing in! We saw crabs one day and he loved it!
Our house is the 2nd one (tall one). Scott and Sam are on the deck if you look close. I am walking back from the beach crossing the golf green via a little boardwalk. We were sooooo close the beach and pool and many other island activities. Will's boss let him use the house for the week. It was so generous of he and his wife. We are very grateful!
Yep, we saw lots of wildlife. We saw gators most everyday. This is the closet we got - he was almost 6 ft long - that was close enough!
The view from our deck.
The family. We had so much fun. It was relaxing to spend time with some of my favorite people.
My brother Scott, his wife Chris, Blake (15), Morgan (13), Cole (10).
My brother Will and his wife Jill, Jaelyn (5-tomorrow), and Drew 2
Dan, Me, and Sam (2).

Honestly, when we set out, I had no idea what to expect. Was is really and island, what would we do? Well, it is really an island off of Charleston SC and it was gorgeous. The atmosphere is like the movie "Dirty Dancing" - we rode our bikes everywhere, walked a lot. There was a whole activity and nature center called Camp Kiawah. Our house had everything you can imagine from bikes to beach supplies to tons of games. We generally hung out at the beach, ate lunch, went to the pool and then got some dinner. We shopped one evening and out to dinner one evening. We also spent a day in Charlestown - it was a beautiful, historic city, full of charm. We had a wonderful, memorable family vacation.


BM interview - check.

Sleeping Baby Joe - Nov 2007
Our birthmother interview is complete. It took place on June 5. I prayed so hard this day, especially for Joe's birthmother. Did she question her decision again? Wonder if she did the right thing? Long to take her baby home? All these questions plague me. I pray that God provides her with an undeniable peace, and that her heart is open to accept this comfort. We desire to parent Joe to the best of ability and cannot wait to show him our unconditional love.
Oh, and Baby Joe, Sam's got your number - he talks about you a lot - you better be ready.
Now come on PGN, have a little mercy on our file and LET US OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Longing to hold Baby Joe once again, cherishing each time Sam still lets me hold him!

From your boys

We love you daddy.

You are are hero and our forever daddy.
Happy Father's Day...
We love you,
Ash, Sam and Joe


Beach Bound

So, we are headed south(east). We are going to Kiowah Island, SC for a week. To say the least, we are ready and looking foward to this! Both of my brothers and families are going - we hope to make memories to last a lifetime! Thanks to my brother's boss for his genorisity in using his beach home. Ocean, here we come!
Beach Trip Memories - Destin FL - May 2007

Mama and Sam - Age 16 months
On this trip, Sam seemed so grown up to us. Looking back he was still learning to be steady on his feet. He still took 2 naps at this age. Wasn't crazy about the water, although he warmed up as the week went on, didn't like sand on his hands, didn't like to walk in the sand, but somehow was entertained for hours by the sand toys. I cannot wait to compare the changes with this beach vacation!
Dan often comments about our Destin vacation. It was his favorite so far, rates up there with the honeymoon for him! It was so relaxing. We had waited so long to be parents and share the joy and relaxation of vacation with a child. It was all we had dreamed.
I know dream of the time we will share this with 2 little boys!


2nd Birthmother interview

We received an email tonight from our coordinator that our 2nd birthmother interview is scheduled for tomorrow. Praise the Lord, this step is scheduled. Prayers are needed tonight and tomorrow, as this step is unchartered waters for us. First, pray that the BM is able to get to the interview. PGN is scheduling this interview with little notice. Joe's BM lives 2&1/2 hours from Guatelama City. Pray that she feels a peace about her decision and does not waiver in her decison. Pray the the PGN officials are kind to her. Pray that the facts we know about our case are once again proven through this interview. Pray for our FM and Joe as they travel to the interview.

I have prayed for this step to happen, now it is here and I am so nervous about the result. This 2nd interview is the new requirement from PGN, we did not go thru this with Sam. I do understand it is one more step in our process to bring Joe home.

On a great note, some cases have been released from PGN and babies are coming home! I logged onto our chat group tonight and things are looking positive!

Keep in mind I won't have much to post on these results as we are flying the coop - headed out on vacation. Help me pray this little man home....

Sam's Summer Haircut

Before (shopping at Target Saturday night, laughing at cousin Morgan and friend MonteLee) The proof - This was done when I arrived at Amanda's (our awesome barber/stylist). I gasped, would not have cut off this much, hence the reason daddy showed up early and was already this far along. I think it might have been planned. Wouldn't I just die to implant this beautiful think hair on my head?!?
After - and I love it. Sam thinks he is so handsome, well, he is! Here we are eating supper on our Cars plate. Thanks Amanda and daddy for Sam's new Summer Do!
Just in time for vacation...