Sunday, December 31, 2006

Referral Party

Last night we finally had our official referral party. Let's face it, we've been celebrating our referral since Dec 1st but last night we got together with our travel group. These are the greatest people in the world. We are so lucky to be part of CB group #244. We will be travelling and hanging out with all these people in China. We all get along so well and have a great time when we get together. Thank you to Brian and Andrea who opened their home to all of us (over 20 people including four children!) and were great hosts. Their house is beautiful and little Emma has the cutest room all ready and waiting for her. They did a great job on it. Brian and Andrea also gave us all a little gift of stickers for our lifebooks. How thoughtful. Thank you so much.

We also received another gift from Paul and Angela. I'm telling you, these people are so thoughtful. Angela put together little personalized packages for all of us. She made her own fortune cookies with personalized messages for us. There were gold coins (chocolate) and the best was a little red beaded bracelet for Samara with a ladybug on it. So cute. Thanks Paul and Angela.

It was so nice seeing everyone again last night. You could just feel the excitement in the air. It was great! We feel blessed to be part of such an awesome group of people.

See you all in China!!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Care Package

I'm a little late with this post but here it is anyway. Last week I got Samara's care package all together and sent it off to her orphanage in China. I included a little photo album with her picture, pictures of mommy and daddy, pictures of big sister Victoria and big brother Austin, our house, her bedroom, etc. I went online and found the Chinese characters so I could label each picture. Hopefully she'll get a chance to look at the pictures before we arrive there. I also included a little stuffed penguin (beanie baby). I sent along a digital camera in hopes that the nannies will take some picture of Samara for us during the time we're not there. Hopefully when we get home and develop the pictures, we'll have some nice shots of her at the orphanage. Some people have had success with this in the past and I figure we have nothing to lose. I also had a receiving blanket that I used for Victoria and Austin. It's been in our house for a long time so it smells like Samara's new home. I stitched her Chinese name on it so the nannies would know it belongs to her. I also added some pretty note paper for the nannies. I'm hoping Samara gets to see some of this stuff and maybe sleep with the blanket and little penguin. You never know. It's really hard to be away from her at Christmas but knowing we're just a little over a month away from meeting her helps a little.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Travel News

When we received our referral on December 1st, we were a little disappointed to find out that we would have to wait until after Chinese New Year to travel to bring Samara home. But we got used to the idea and we figured after the huge wait we've endured up till now, we could probably handle a few more months. We were given an initial travel date of February 23, which was almost three months after receiving our referral.

Well just yesterday we received an email from our agency stating that due to the fact that everyone wants to travel ASAP and they've gotten a lot of feedback from our group about having to wait so long, they've moved our date up . . . considering all goes well. Soooo, we will now be leaving January 30. That's right folks, a mere 48 days away! We are so excited to be bringing Samara home almost a whole month earlier than originally expected. Hooray! She'll now be home for her first birthday too and we can celebrate as a whole family.

Oh ya, the only catch in the email was that our referral file has to be back at their office by Friday at 4:00 pm. I was frantically calling and calling our social worker last night to see if the package had been sent yet and when it would be there. I just had visions of it either not being sent out yet or being sent out by snail mail (sorry Donna, I know you're way more reliable than that - the stress was just getting to me!!) Anyway, I finally left a message on her machine and she called me back later to say the package had been sent out by overnight courier! Yes!! And this morning we already got a confirmation email that it has arrived at its destination. So providing there are no delays with the Ontario Ministry and the CCAA, we will be leaving January 30.

Look out China . . . here we come. Hang on Samara - Mommy and Daddy are on our way!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another Scrapbook Page

I had to try to create one myself. I downloaded a trial digital scrapbooking program from online (thus the line going across the bottom of the page). It's so fun and perhaps a little addictive. Here it is:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Chinese Characters for "Samara"

Here is the Chinese name for Samara:

Friday, December 08, 2006

Samara's First Scrapbook Page

My friend Debbie (Olivia's mom) put this scrapbook page together for us (thanks Deb). She used one of those digital scrapbooking programs. Isn't it cool? I love the one with all the little pictures of different parts of Samara. Look at the one of her little mouth! Isn't that so cute? I don't think I'll ever get over how beautiful she is. Sigh!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Samara (what else?)

Ok, so I guess I've kept a few of you in suspense . . . sorry about that. I went to my mom's this afternoon to scan some of the papers so that I could email them to our social worker. She just wants to review the information before meeting with us. Then my mom invited us for supper, which of course I couldn't refuse. Then tonight I went to get my flu shot which I've never had before but need for China. So ya, here I am finally updating my blog.

Well, I called Mike as I was opening the package this afternoon so we could read it together. It was a lot more emotional than I thought it would be. Let's face it, that's my daughter they're talking about. Reading about my baby being abandoned and found by the police hit me harder than I thought it would. Anyway, here are a few things we now know about Samara:

- She was found near a big banyan tree on March 11, 2006 (seven days old), wrapped in a dark red cloth
- Her initial diagnosis was a low-weight newborn (which didn't surprise me since she's still quite tiny)
- There was a note left with her (there were no details about that but I hope maybe we'll get a chance to see it when we're in China)
- She has been sound in growth and development
- She has never had any serious illness - just some common colds and fevers
- She is fond of sleeping face down (yikes!) and is apparently a deep sleeper
- She gets up at 6:00 am, naps from 12:00 to 2:00 pm and goes to bed around 8:30 pm
- Her most favourite activity is playing on exercise mat
- Her most favourite toy is "sound making toys" (great!)

We also received her growth chart from months one, two, three, four and five which is really nice to have. There's a lot of lab work and other tests that our family doctor will have to explain to us but everything looks normal from what we can tell. We have all her measurements from August 31 (almost six months) but we received that already with the initial referral. They tell us when she started eating solids and what she likes to eat. Apparently she "tended to cry much" when she was one to two months old but then "cried less often" when she was three to four months old.

There's more (the summary was four pages long) but I can't put it all in this post - I'd be here all night. We are so happy to get all this information. We want to know all we can about our precious Samara. I hope we'll get information on her from six to 12 months when we're in China.

Oh ya, one more thing the file said that made me laugh was this: "She is a fairly cute child". FAIRLY CUTE?!?!?! She's more than fairly cute! Again I say, that's my daughter you're talking about . . . she's adorable . . . not just "fairly cute". Isn't that funny?

It's here, it's here, it's here!!!

Ok, the package just arrived . . . should I open it?? Just kidding - I have to call Mike so we can open it together on the phone. I'll let you know later what we find out.

Special Delivery

Ok, now I'm stalking the Purolator website. Our official referral package has been translated and sent out by our agency. We should be receiving it today. I can't wait to find out more info on Samara.

As of right now, the Purolator website says that our package is "On vehicle for delivery". Does the waiting ever end???

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Samara's friends

If you'd like to check out pictures of Samara's little friends who she's been hanging out with the last few months, CLICK HERE. They are all so cute and we're so lucky to have such nice referral pictures. All of us parents have become good friends as we've waited and waited and waited . . . and now we get to travel together to China and pick up our children. We are so blessed!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Spoiled already!

Well it looks like Samara is being spoiled already. I guess it won't be all of Victoria's hand me downs for her. She's got her very own brand spankin' new outfits that are just for her.

Here's what Grandma Carmody found for Samara:

Here's what Grandma Zandstra found for Samara:

And here's what Victoria found for her baby sister Samara:

So we were walking in the grocery store on the weekend and just happened to be going down the clothes aisle. Victoria asked if she could pick something out for Samara - so of course we said yes! :) She picked this cute pink sleeper. Well, it wasn't until we were almost at the checkout that I realized it has ladybugs on it! How cool is that? She picked a great one. (For those of you who are reading this and don't know what the significance of that is, ladybugs are a sign of good luck in the adoption community!)

My sister in law sent me this poem and I thought it was really nice so I'm posting it here. Thanks Michelle.

How Could You Know?

As you lay sleeping far away as still as you could be...
How could you know the joy today this photo brings to me?

A few short weeks and you'll be mine, and "I" will soon be "We".
How could you know the love I feel? It's something you can't see.

So have sweet dreams, my precious babe. Sleep well and tenderly.
Some say that you're the lucky one. How could you know it's me?

--- Kris Laughlin

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Day After . . .

Well we woke up this morning and guess what? It wasn't a dream! We have pictures of this cutie patootie little girl . . . and she's our daughter! How awesome is that? We can't stop looking at her picture.

Yesterday was such an amazing day. We received so many emails and phone calls from family and friends who have been supporting us and praying for us and waiting for this day right along with us. It's great. God has been so good to us!

The kids are pretty excited too (Victoria more than Austin). When I got off the phone with our agency, we told the kids that they have a little sister. Victoria was just shaking with excitement and she said, "I knew it! I knew it was going to be a girl!" Austin said, "hey mom, look at these books." Basically he didn't really care at that moment. Then about a half an hour later, he came up to me with big tears rolling down his cheeks and said, "I wanted the baby to be a boy!" I think he all of a sudden realized that he now has another sister. He already has one of those - why would he want another one? :) He got over that pretty fast though and he carries her picture around the house now. He can't quite get her name right though - he's been calling her either Sasara or Masara or he just calls her his friend. Cute! Victoria already has Samara's picture in her backpack all ready to take to school on Monday so she can show off her new baby sister. She can't wait!

It's so hard to believe that it actually happened. I know I've said it before but I'll say it again . . . it's such a long wait . . . but it's so worth it!

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's a girl!!!

"Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land."
Proverbs 25:25

We are so excited to introduce the newest member of our family!

Samara Michelle Juan Carmody
(Samara means protected by God and Michelle is mommy's middle name)

Chinese name: Xiao Juan Hai
(Xiao means little and Juan means beautiful/precious)
Birthdate: March 4, 2006
Orphanage: Nanhai Social Welfare Institute
City: Foshan
Province: Guangdong - southern China
Personality: They say she is quiet and loves to play games and with her toys.

She's soooo cute!!!

Well, today may be the day. My stomach feels a little funny. I'm so excited and anxious all at once. This wait has seemed to take forever and as soon as we see that precious little face, I'm sure it will have all been worth it.

I am feeling much more calm and at peace. Now that I know we're getting our referral very soon, I am not feeling so jittery and crazy. I know the wait is almost over and I can handle it. What a good feeling.

Thanks again to everyone who is following this journey and cheering on that stork with us!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Countdown Calendar - one more time!

Ok everyone. This is the very last time you'll see the Carmody Countdown Calendar. The kids have crossed off the last dates and our LID is included. Now we just have to wait for the referral phone call. We can officially pack up the calendar and put it away for safe keeping. We will keep it so that we can show our little one how excited we were and how every month we counted down the days as we got closer and closer to this time when we will finally see her/him for the first time. Exciting times!!

We're in!!!!!!

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The stork is on its way! Last night while I was sleeping, the CCAA updated their website to say:

"The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered with our office before September 8, 2005."

Since our LID is September 7 . . . we just made it!!! We are so excited! So now we're cheering on the stork. Fly stork, fly stork, faster, faster, faster . . . .

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

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This is kinda what I look like right now. Cute eh?

I'm so sick of all the rumours - I need some facts and I need them soon! Please CCAA, please update your website tonight so we can all know what's going on and if the Carmody baby is on her/his way or if we have to wait another month.

(notice I said please)
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Yes I'm still sitting here waiting. I haven't moved from my computer - haven't eaten, haven't slept! I'm a wreck!

Ok, I'm just kidding. I have been a little obsessive with checking the CCAA website though. I can't believe they haven't updated it yet. I thought for sure last night when we were sleeping and they were working, that it would be updated and we would know for sure whether we'll be getting our referral this month. This has been the longest part of the wait yet. Can you believe that? We started the whole adoption process 21 months ago and so far these last few days have been the hardest part of the wait. I guess especially because we don't know for sure if we'll be getting our referral this time around or if we have another whole month to wait.

Anyway, thanks for your comments, thoughts, prayers, support . . . muchly appreciated. It somehow helps to know that there are others out there waiting just as anxiously for our little one. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

... and waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ...

I kinda thought I'd wake up to some good news this morning but no such luck I guess. I did dream last night that the cutoff this month was September 14. That would be great not only because we'd be in, but also because our eastern friends from our group would also be in and we would still travel together.

Well, I guess I can wait a little longer (like I have a choice!).

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's Monday morning and we're . . .

The employees at the CCAA office have already been through a full day's work (Monday) and are now home and off to sleep again soon. So we won't hear anything now until at least sometime tonight (when the Tuesday workday starts in China) or tomorrow morning. Hopefully they'll update their website soon and let us know if we are getting our referral this time around. Will it be this week???

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Geoff Moore - Swept Away

Since starting our adoption journey, this has been one of my favourite songs. Geoff and Jan Moore have two little girls adopted from China. If you want to read more about their adoption journey, check out the Geoff Moore website.

Here are the lyrics to Swept Away:

Swept Away
Written by Geoff Moore and Blair Masters

We would say your name
A hundred times a day
Like speaking words in faith
And with a mixture of
Hope and fear and trust
We prayed for the strength to wait
And dreamed of how we’d feel the day
You’d be in our arms and…

Swept away
Caught up in our love
Home to stay
You’ll never be alone
You’ll be amazed
At how much you are loved
Your life will never be the same
Once you’re swept away

What once was just a dream
Is now reaching up to me
And I hold her in my arms
Father thank You for the way
You held her all those days
That we had to spend apart
And now I see the impossible dream
Is holding me and I’m…

©2002 Songs on the ForeFront/Geoff Moore Songs
(SESAC) Admin. by EMICMP/Blair Masters Music (BMI)

Dora Dora Dora the Explorer

I heard on the radio the other day that Dora the Explorer was coming to a little store in our area yesterday. So I decided to take the kids to go see her. They were very excited. When we got there, we stood in line for about 20 minutes (which wasn't too bad). The kids got tons of treats - candies, stickers, little books, a poster . . . they were thrilled. Then as we got up to Dora and it was our turn to see her, Victoria changed her mind. She has never really been a fan of people dressed up as anything so I wasn't really too surprised. Dora was very large (especially her head) and I think it just scared her. Austin had no problem and went right up to her and gave her a big squeeze. Here are some pictures:

Saturday, November 25, 2006


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We are one more step closer to China. We went yesterday to the Travel Medicine Clinic and got our first immunizations for travel to China. It may seem like we've left this until the last minute but that's how we were recommended to do it. It's called fast tracking. We had the first set of injections yesterday, we go back in one week and then again one month after that. Then we're done and ready to go.

I have to say, I'm really not a fan of getting needles - in fact, I'm a big wimp. However, it's funny how when you know why you're doing it, it's not nearly as bad. Plus my kids were there watching and I had to be tough! No tears here!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Fast Forward Please

If only we could just fast forward time . . . just until next week.
Apparently more agencies are now saying referrals are coming next week. But . . . time . .. is . . . going. . . . sooooooo . . . slooooowly!
C'mon CCAA - bring on our baby!!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Another little rumour . . .

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The latest is that referrals will arrive sometime next week. . . .

The excitement is mounting!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Rumours . . .

Didn't I say I wasn't going to listen to rumours anymore? When we're this close, it's next to impossible . . . especially when they're good ones!

Well, the first rumours are in. . . and they're lookin' good! The rumour is that the CCAA is going to send referrals for everyone logged in for most (if not all) of September. We're September 7 so we should be included! Hooray. In just a few short weeks we'll see our little one's face for the first time. Can't wait! Now if they could just give us an exact date, we'd know when to expect it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

When Love Takes You In - Steven Curtis Chapman

I've wanted to add this video to my blog for a while now but didn't know how to do it. A friend finally showed me how to do it (thanks Dawn). So here it is - Steven Curtis Chapman - When Love Takes You In. If you don't have time to listen to it, here are the words:

I know you’ve heard the stories
But they all sound too good to be true
You’ve heard about a place called home
But there doesn’t seem to be one for you
So one more night you cry yourself to sleep
And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in

And somewhere while you’re sleeping
Someone else is dreaming too
Counting down the days until
They hold you close and say I love you
And like the rain that falls into the sea
In a moment what has been is lost in what will be

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart

And this love will never let you go
There is nothing that could ever
cause this love to lose its hold

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in it takes you in for good
When love takes you in

Friday, November 10, 2006

Why God Made Moms

Hopefully in just a few weeks, I will be a mom again for the third time. The following is the type of thing that makes me laugh. A friend of mine sent this to me (thanks Julie) and I just had to share it on here - especially for all those moms and moms-to-be. Hope you get a chuckle out of it too!

Why God made moms - answers given by elementary school age children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice inthe world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your Mom?
1. My Mom has always been my Mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your Mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goofball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?
1. Moms work at work & work at home, & dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your Mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on her back.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A few pics from our getaway . . .

Create Your Own!

14 months!?!?!

Yikes - I totally missed our LID anniversary yesterday. As of yesterday, November 7, we have officially been logged in at the CCAA for 14 months. I can't believe that - and I can't believe I missed it. I am so focused on the end of the month, the present is all a blur!

So congrats to us - hopefully we don't have to celebrate another one.

Thanks for the reminder Doris! :)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hooray CCAA!

We came back from Quebec to some good news:

"The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered with our office before August 25, 2005"

So that was 16 days worth of files. That's great news. Now they only have to match 13 days in November and we're in! Can you believe that in less than a month, we will probably be seeing our little one's face for the very first time? It's been such a long, long journey so far that I have a hard time believing it's so close.

Anyway, we'll keep you posted as we hear any tidbit of news - especially when the stork is on its way. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers - this may be the longest month yet! :)

Here are the monthly pics of the kids crossing off the days on the countdown calendar. We're so close!

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Bear and the Princess

Here are our cutie patooties all dressed up for Halloween last week.

Aren't they cute??

We're Baaaack!

Ok, the reason I haven't posted on here for a while is because we were in Quebec City. And by "we", I mean Mike and I. We had an awesome time!! Mike actually had to go there for work and I got to tag along this time. Even though he had a lot to do, we actually got to spend quite a bit of time together. We left last week Wednesday morning and came back late this afternoon. I feel very relaxed, refreshed and rejuvinated. It was a much needed break and I'm sure the last getaway we'll get to enjoy for a long time. (well until China anyway . . . and I'm not sure how much of a vacation that will be!)

By the way, the kids also had a great time. Grandma Carmody came to stay at our house with them and they had so much fun. Thanks Peggy for helping to make this getaway so relaxing. We knew the kids were in good hands and didn't worry one bit about their well-being. Good practice for China eh?

So needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do. Stay posted . . .

Monday, October 30, 2006

Why the suspense???

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Where are those October referrals? What's taking so long??

Monday, October 23, 2006

So Mike was out getting groceries a few weeks ago and this is always kind of a dangerous thing. You never know what he'll come home with . . . usually something for the kids (although I have to say that sometimes it's flowers for me too). Anyway, this particular day he came home with a Dora movie. My kids love Dora (and Diego) so this was perfect. It's called Dora's World Adventures and the very last place she goes is China. It's so cute. I've noticed some of my adoption friends are starting to talk about this movie too.

Here's the plot: "Dora and her friends are ready to celebrate friendship day when they realize all of the friendship bracelets are missing. Swiper has swiped them from all of the friendship parades around the world, and the bracelets won't "glow" unless everyone around the world has them. Dora volunteers to help Swiper travel to China, France, Tanzania and Russia to retrieve the bracelets and save the day! "

And speaking of movies, another great one is "Big Bird in China". Here's what one website says about it:

"Big Bird and his Sesame Street companion, Barkley, the big, fluffy dog, travel across China in search of the legendary Feng Huang, the Phoenix Bird. Along the way they visit with Chinese schoolchildren, watch a Tai Ji demonstration, learn some Chinese words and songs, and meet the mischievous Monkey King."

We got this one for the kids last year for Christmas and would highly recommend it. The kids have learned so much about China and Chinese culture from it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Quilt Update

I finally found someone to make the quilt for me. It's such a big job and I totally appreciate this person's willingness to complete it for me. What a huge relief! Here are a few pictures of the new seamstress.