Friday, December 12, 2014

Adoption Update: Presenting, Funding and Riding the Rollercoaster

So it's been a little while since we updated on the adoption so I thought I'd go ahead and post just where we are at in all of this.

We finished up our homestudy in mid-October.  So since that time, we've been "active" with our consultant, Faithful Adoption Consultants.  Immediately, she started sending us "situations" from all over the country.  Some were ones where, if our family is chosen by the birthmom, we'd have to travel immediately. Some were due in the months ahead and we'd have time to get to know the person on the other side of this triad before the birth.  We have no idea when it'll all happen. So we live expecting just about anything.  Once, we were out at a show with some friends and I received a text message saying there were 8 week old twins in AZ we'd have to pick up the next day if chosen. . . yeah. Stuff like that. (That birthmother did not return to the agency, we found out, so we assume she chose not to place).  So it's a pretty crazy rollercoaster, considering that each and every "situation" and birthmom is a different story, a different need and each one is full of heartbreak in one way or another.  You want to get emotionally involved but you don't want to since if we did with each and every one, it would be crazy BUT, like, our consultant said after a situation that seemed like it would be a good match for us didn't pan out, "So hard not to get too excited, but you almost have to put all your heart into it!  This process is so dang hard...but totally worth it :)"  

So that's about all we can give you on that.  We aren't sure where. We aren't sure when.  

We are continuing to do some fundraising.  Lawyers, agencies, travel, homestudies, state fees all add up.  In order to adopt we are saving, working to find ways to make extra money through organizations that help adopting families (if you like coffee, keep reading!) and, recently, we found out we got a matching grant! We are planning on coming up with creative ways to help fund the adoption as this continues as we wait and pray for the newest Herman, his/her first family and their situation and our hearts as we receive him/her into our home.

So if you are interested in helping us out with this, here are something we have going right now.  I will post more events and fundraisers as they come up! But here are the biggest.

Hand in Hand Christian Adoptions, Inc Matching Grant

We were recently awarded a matching funds grant to help with the expenses of our adoption through Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. a non-profit private operating foundation.  Hand in Hand will match any funds that are donated through our friends and family for the expenses of our adoption.  All funds received through our friends and family will be matched dollar for dollar by Hand in Hand up to our awarded grant amount!   AND all donations are tax-deductible (awesome, right?!).
You can find out more about Hand in Hand through their website at
All donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” postmarked by January 22nd to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself):                                                                                                                   
Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.  
Christian and Sarah Herman
18318 Mimosa Court 
Gardner, KS  66030

Just Love Coffee Roasters
Here's an easy one if you are buying coffee for yourself or friends anyway.  Check out our online coffee shop for Organic, Fair Trade Coffee.  From people who have ordered already, it ships fast and REALLY yummy stuff :-)  So, if you want to check it out and get coffee here rather than from Starbucks or the grocery store, that'd be great!  They have hot chocolate, too, for the non-coffee drinkers :-) 
Our link can be found here:

The fundraising part of this is, certainly, the most awkward part of this for us but, because of the huge costs, we really wouldn't be able to consider it if organizations and supportive people didn't come alongside us and help!  If you cannot give, your prayers are SO, SO valuable to us.  Pray for everyone who will be involved in the process, our whole family, the consultant, the agency, the birthparents, the hospital staff. . . just all of it. I keep thinking about how this is all going to happen.   We will keep you updated as it does! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Daylight Savings: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Every year since Claire was born, I would bemoan the "Time Change" every. single. time.  I would complain on Facebook and to anyone who would listen.  My child would never "sleep in" and would wake up at the exact same time as she did before. . now and hour earlier. Or bedtime and naptime would get all screwed up.  And I'd whine and post several comments about how ridiculous it all was.

This year, I thought about complaining again. I started my snarky status update, only to backtrack a bit.  I erased and started over.  And then gave up.  Because, to be honest, I've made my peace. This year, I decided to see it differently.  So for the first several weeks, the weeks I used to whine about, I get up at the same "time" I got up before. I got dressed. I made breakfast for my family. I'd read my Bible and I'd unload the dishwasher and start school with Claire.  For several days, she was done with her schoolwork around 9am because of this. 9AM!!!   I always wish I could be given more hours in the day to accomplish what I need to get done and, wouldn't ya know?  Every year, until my body and my children adjust to the new time, I get an extra hour in my day.

My mantra for our adoption journey has become, "Find joy in the journey. . ." and we really have.  Amazing friends, great conversations, unexpected blessings. So I decided to apply this mantra to more things.  Sometimes this is not always easy, but Paul admonishes us in 1 Thessalonians to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  So here's my time change joy: a clean house, joyful schooltime and business work done.

It's the little things.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

October 2014

Happy Fall! Between finishing up or homestudy and getting our profile book ready to present to birth families, we managed to throw in some October traditions with the girls. One of my FAVORITE things to do with the girls is gut the pumpkins and cook the seeds.  I have pictures of Claire pulling the seeds out of the pumpkin every year since she was 18 months old.  I search Pinterest for the best recipes and cook the seeds and eat them for the next few weeks.  The girls love them. 

17 months
2 years

3 years
4 years
Ashlyn 2 years

Sister love!
This year we used this recipe, which was different than normal years since I tend to do salty rather than sweet/cinnamon but it worked for us!
 Christian always get creative with his pumpkin carving.  This year we got a little bit busy but he was able to carve this for us!
Some doTERRA love this year!
Dance Class Costume Party
Claire's dance class had their little Halloween party.  The girls were ADORABLE.  Here they are learning their dance routine for Christmas. . . in their Halloween costumes.

Claire's dance class
A is for Apple Pie!!
Claire spent a unit on her school work on A and Apples.  To end our unit, we read How to Make and Apple Pie and See the World and, you guessed it, made an Apple Pie.  She had a blast, although, momma did the apple cutting, no worries :-)

Halloween Activities
Thursday, the girls had their Halloween/Costume party at their Mommy and Me preschool in Fullerton. I took this shot before we left.
Then we had a stop at Adam's Chiropractic in Brea.  Can I TELL you hope much we love this place and these people?   The girls got to Trick or Treat, first at the office.  Christian and I go once a week and we are SO BLESSED by them!

After the kids did some crafts, got candy from the Developmentally Disabled Adults who take classes in the same building as well as the office staff next door, they took this class picture (nevermind the annoying parent on the left who photobombed the class picture with her creepy "costume."  O_o)
My mom was able to rearrange her schedule and be there for the class.  The girls LOVED having gramma there!

That night, the girls Trick or Treated around the neighborhood. Christian's parents came over for dinner and it was a great night with family. The girls really got excited about seeing their neighborhood friends and filling their buckets. 

Next year's couple costume?  I'm thinking so. . . :-)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Adoption update. . . the end of the beginning

Well, it's been a while since we actually updated on the state of our adoption process!  Back in the summer, we had a second fundraiser yard sale but this time we had it at Christian's parents'.  This time, things were a little different. We were a little more prepared since we'd done one sale before and we had more large items than little knick knacky type items.  Christian's parents had friends donate to the sale so they were storing some things for us, we still had some things left over from the last sale, PLUS a number of large items we just couldn't transport to my parents' house the first time around.  I have fantastic relatives in Murrieta (where our sale took place) and they came out a few days before, loaded up their truck with items and took a few things.  It was better for us since we didn't have to rent a truck this time and could keep whatever we made from the sale.

Hanging out in the garage during the sale.

We wound up making a prety good chunk of change at the yard sales went toward the Consultant and our homestudy costs.  A group of AMAZING friends online spent tons of time and money on a online auction for us as well. Amazing people in our lives these days.  Watch for a tshirt fundraiser coming soon. We are also hoping to land a matching grant.  More on that soon. . . 

But the biggest news is WE ARE DONE WITH OUR HOMESTUDY!!!!!!!!!!!  All that paperwork, all those appointments and things to fill out, interviews and the home visit are all DONE.  Just waiting on our adoption profile to get finished up and we are ACTIVE with our Consultant.  Praying for our new little one and his/her birth family.  Whoever they all may be. . . 
"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break." 

--An ancient Chinese belief

Friday, October 10, 2014

School: Plugging Right Along

So I've gotten a few questions from people about Claire's homeschooling.  Mainly, how it's going and what we are doing. Last year I tried to figure out what the best course of action might be for Claire.  She's smart kid, for sure.  At 3 she knew her letters and sounds so I felt like a preschool curriculum might not be great for her 4th grade year BUT I also knew that I didn't want to push since, in many ways, she really is still a 4 year old.  SO I was told, by numerous homeschoolers to check out the Kindergarten Curriculum put out by My Father World.  I mulled over the decision for a long time and am really glad, so far, we went with this.  It is a SUPER gentle Kindergarten curriculum.  There are worksheets to do but it's definitely not worksheet heavy.  There's a lot of art and coloring and reading stories and going outside.  She loves the Classical Music component, the Cuisinaire rods, the letter activities, the outside activities and I love how she really seems to be absorbing everything.  Our first week we talked about the Sun and the letter S.  We practiced writing it, drawing pictures of things that start with S, learning about the sun and it's light.  The theme was "Jesus is the  Light of the World."

Claire is starting to pick out her own "outfits" in the morning.  99% of the time, we are "doing school" with her wearing some sort of costume she pulls out of her costume trunk. . .

The following unit was the moon and letter L.  She learned about the phases of the moon, wrote the letter M, build a "rocket ship" under the kitchen table and learned that the moon does not have it's own light but reflects the light of the Sun. SO the theme was about how we reflect God's light and "I am the light of the world" because we, like the moon, reflect the light of Jesus.  

Ashlyn likes to get in on the homeschool action. We aren't doing anything formal with her at this point, but she has learned all her letters and likes to point them out when we are out and about town.

We are still attending the Joyful Parenting: Music and Art class at N. OC Continuing Ed.  It's free and two hours every Thursday. We love it. The Thursday class is so well done and gives the girls a chance to be with other kids and me a chance to meet other parents.  Right now the theme is fall so we've done apples and trees and leaves and there is a new letter of the week.  They do circle time, they sing, they dance, free play, eat lunch together and at the end of October they'll be doing a costume parade.  

Walking to "Bear Class" (they always sing a song about a bear at the end of class so the girls call it "Bear Class")

Claire is really starting to meet friends at the group and I love watching is develop with her.  She wants to sit next to certain kids for lunchtime.  Ashlyn is still pretty oblivious but enjoys the other kids and is starting to sit for longer periods in the circle, listening to the story.  Last Spring, I would usually find myself in the hallway of the building with Ashlyn who was overdue for a nap and ready for it all to be over.  Now, she is starting to really "fit in."

"Everything grows and grows. . . babies do. . . animals too. . . everything grows. . . "

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Road Trippin' with Kids!

It's been a couple of weeks but in mid September we were blessed with a new (to us) car.  Our neighbor was selling and Expedition and we went ahead and decided to take the plunge and buy it.  It's a 2003, 130K miles and, thus far, is running great.  We love the extra room in the car, love that we can haul things, love that it represents new members of our family with every empty seat.  On our last family trip to Arrowhead with family, we realized that we REALLY needed another car.  Even with the two we have, plus luggage, it was getting to be, seriously, cramped.  Couple that with our hope to adopt this year or early next year AND our desire to immerse our kids in God's amazing creation on vacations, we needed something bigger. The car dropped into our lap and we got it for a few thousand less than our budget so we have been very happy. 

The only part of this that we haven't totally loved is the new price tag at the gas pump. . . but we knew that with anything we bought, we were looking at a bit of a change in that area.  We did consider, however, how much less I'll be driving now that I'm not working at the school this year and figure it will even out.  I do take the girls places for field trips, playdates etc. but not nearly the miles I was putting on the Honda everyday, back and forth from Placentia.

One the first things we did with the car (like, two days after we bought it) was take it on a serious road trip.  Most of you know by now I'm a BIG believer in doTERRA essential oils.  I bought a ticket to doTERRA's yearly convention and had no idea how I was going to swing going.  I didn't know I'd be on a leave of absence from my job.  I just took a huge leap of faith and grabbed aa ticket.  After discussing options (including leaving the girls and Christian home, leaving just the girls home and trying to get Christian a ticket, etc.) we decided that the girls (specifically Ashlyn) were just too young to leave that long.  So we decided to make it a family road trip.  I would go to convention, Christian would take the girls on daytrips in Salt Lake City.  Several times I questioned the sanity of our decision. . . but it ended up working out fine.
The day before we left, however, I panicked a bit when Claire started showing signs of a runny nose, slight cough and the tell-tale bags under her eyes.  Immediately, I made a roller ball bottle of:
20 drops Oregano
30 drops OnGuard
40 drops Lemon
20 drops Melaleuca
and topped it off with doTERRA's Fractionated Coconut Oil 

Claire INSISTED on taking care of it herself and since I, really do, want to teach her to be a manager of her own health, I taught her to use the roller herself.  She swiped it once on her feet every half hour the day before, and then throughout our drive to Salt Lake.  You know what?  Those oils truly helped her body fight off that infection and we weren't plagued with the illness the rest of the trip.  She got over that cold in two days.  No one else got it.  We swiped Ashlyn's feet as a preventative and then the two of us did the same. Now I use the roller as a "hand sanitizer" when the girls are at Mommy and Me or out and about.

So here's how the trip went:
Wednesday, we took the whole day and drove from the LA/Orange County area to Salt Lake City in one day.  This was something we REALLY thought wouldn't go well and we'd just have to endure this leg.  But it really wasn't bad at all.
A few tips:
1. My mom got the girls a gift bag of snacks, crafts, books etc they could open at our discretion.  For the most part, the girls got a new thing every hour BUT if they were still playing with something or eating something, happily, at the time they were to open another gift, I didn't mention anything.  I knew we had a long drive back as well and figured, whatever they didn't open on the the way to Salt Lake City, they could open on the way home.  This worked out perfectly since at 4 and 2, they really have zero concept of time.
2. Stories on CD.  This is where I, actually, wish we had been more prepared.  I mean, the girls were FINE but listening to the same three Life at the Pond CDs was grating on OUR nerves after a while (remember it was a 12 hour drive with all the bathroom and food stops).
3. Bring music CDs the kids AND adults enjoy. We have a couple cds of kids singing hymns and a couple more of kids singing worship songs infused with classic hymns.  We actually like listening to the CDs.  I also brought along a few Elizabeth Mitchell (folk type songs for kids) that we enjoy as well as some of our own (classical music with nature sounds, jazz albums etc) that the kids like that would pass the hours in the car.  This is what worked for us.  But thinking in terms of what will make the hours go fast was crucial for us.
4. If you subscribe to a kid magazine like Ranger Rick or some other, I suggest bringing every issue you have lying around.  We subscribe to High Five (preschool version of Highlights) and I brought every single one PLUS books.  We did bring the Leap Pad but used it a grand total of 1 hour on the entire trip (there and back).  I fully believe that kids don't *need* this sort of thing and that that can learn a lot from just looking out the window, and doing the above mentioned activities.  Now, I will point out that I don't have kids who get carsick yet.  That would have been a WHOLE other blog post.  But I had the DigestZen ready to go in case of any major issues.
5.  Bring a portable diffuser and pump your kids' and your favorite calming blend during the drive.  Ours happens to be Citrus Bliss (I also use this one in church for the girls).

For the most part, we were pretty good at making potty stops at actual rest stops. . . but this happened twice between driving to Utah and coming home. . .clearly, it didn't bother our children.  I suggest the Baby Bjorn potty for this sort of thing, but I'm sure any plastic travel potty will do just fine ;-)

Finally getting to the motel was a HUGE relief for the kids.  (And for us, for sure).

We brought two Kid's Aerobeds (the BEST for small kids and travel. . . truly) and all the girls bedding so they had some familiar landscape around them when they went to bed.  We rubbed Cedarwood and Serenity on them and put both oils in a diffuser for bedtimes and hotel bedtime went great for us!

During the next few days, I attended doTERRA's convention and Christian took the girls and various outings and did school with Claire in the hotel room.
Let me tell you.  I was in love with doTERRA and their oils before convention but, man.  What a classy company.  I love the way they source their oils, their transparency with their Wellness Advocates and the public and their impact on the economies they source and distill their oils from.  I am even more impressed with the team of SERIOUS scientists on board with this company.  I, now, understand why I've been able to get off my asthma meds, Christian has been able to manage his RLS, my girls can sleep better and sit in church for periods of time and focus on the Word (more on that in another post).  The care and the integrity is amazing.  I'll tell you.  I'd NEVER EVER thought I'd be doing what I am doing now.  I've been allergic to MLMs since I was little. But I have to spread the word.  And, shoot, if it brings my family a little income and, maybe soon, replaces my income I lost when I quit working at the school, awesome.  I get to teach classes about what I love and share what has SO impaced our family and not feel slimy about it in the least since I know, first hand, how amazing it all is.  BTW, did I mention I was one of 18,000 people there?  That we filled up the Enegry Solutions Arena for General Sessions (Utah Jazz Arena). Yeah. What a great week for me.

Christian, however, had a slightly different week.  Although we were able to meet up for dinner one night at an upline's evening event that they let me bring Christian and the girls to, for the most part, he spent the daytime with the girls going on outings and napping at the motel while I learned all kinds of great information. First stop was Utah's Hogle Zoo.   Besides Christian commenting that it was really odd to the the only male with kids there by himself that day during a weekday, he said it was a good size zoo and that he and the girls had a great experience there.

Trip to the zoo ended with ice cream which is always a plus for both girls. 

That night, the girls and Christian got to come with me to a dinner party for our doTERRA team.  It was really nice to have been there and that they let them come.  The girls did great with all those adults and, ironically, it was held at Discovery Gateway, the Children's Museum Christian brought the girls to the following morning.
Super blurry but you get the idea. . . 
Now, both the girls and Christian gave RAVE reviews of the Discovery Gateway.  Amazing place.  Claire kept saying she wanted to go back even after we were back in CA.  
Two thumbs up, Salt Lake City. 

One of my favorite stories was of the ladies Christian and the girls met a breakfast at the motel.  These two were at the convention from Japan.  Claire told them their mommy was at an "oils class" the ladies, who were already enamoured with the girls, got very excited and wanted to take pictures with the "Oil Babies!"  

Our trip home was uneventful.  I had to skip out of the final session of the convention so we could get on the road after lunchtime.  We stopped in Mesquete, Nevada on Saturday night.
Ashlyn coloring before bedtime. 
The next morning we headed out and made it back to Chino (after having breakfast at the Casino we stayed at) at around 4 or so.

Although, at stop at the Mad Greek in Baker is always a must when coming back to Southern CA from Nevada.
Good to be home but after that experience, I'm ready for more road trip with this family!