Beautiful Life





Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Provision


What does this look like to you?


Dumpster diving?


Moving day?


Cleaning out the attic/garage/playroom?


Savage?



Aftermath of a horrible storm?



No. no. no. no. no. no!



This guys?


Is two rooms of God's provision.


What?  I know it looks like a big ole mess right now.  But, what you are looking at is the selflessness of friends, family and neighbors.  These people rummaged their attics/garages/playrooms and donated the things they could part with.  For some, like my mother-in-law, it was a difficult task!  To part with her things.  But, they are all doing it so we will have the funds to bring Asher home.  And I can not tell you how thankful I am.  To the men at church that called with TVs and power tools.  To a high school friend that offered an 80 gallon fish tank.  To the homeschool mom with a toddler bed and beautiful child's vanity.  To Paul's aunts and cousin that filled the Monster Van to max capacity with their donations!  To my dearest friends and other members of their extended families that came up with so. much. stuff! I can't say thank you enough!

We will hold a pretty large yard sale on Saturday as a fundraiser and what does not sell then will be driven to my sisters house three hours away for a second attempt in a few weeks. 

This next part is as much for me as for anything.  While we are raising money for this particular leg of the journey, I can't look at that thermometer on the side.  I'd be lying if I didn't say that I have a mini panic attack every time I see it.  So I'm going to break it down to a manageable bite for me!

We got an invoice from our agency.  We owe $5730 total right now.  While collecting donations for our yard sale, we also received some cash donations that I have not sent in yet!  Plus, the kids and I added to it so that it would round out.  Yes!  The kids.  The boys gave of their hard earned dog walking money....yes, my boys get paid, by two different families, to walk and play with their dogs during the day.  You know, since we don't "go" to school.  And their owners do.  And Isabel?  She cracks me up, but that kid has a heart of gold, I tell you!  She went door to door asking for change and cash to "Bring Asher Home".  I so did not know about this!  I never do.  And this is not the first time she has done it.  She raised over $25 for Pet Helpers waving cars down as they past our street....and also dog walkers, joggers and cyclists are not safe from her!  That was what she raised before Parker came in and asked if I knew "my daughter" was standing on the street corner.  Come again?  "She's yelling and waving a can around like a lunatic!"  Okay.  She gets that from her daddy's side!  Just sayin'.  She brought in almost $20.  Can't fault her for standing for her causes! 

 Anyway, this is the thermometer I will concentrate on for today:

Fundraising Ideas


Fundraising

Okay, so that is still a little daunting. But, there is no mountain big enough, y'all!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pop Culture?

This weekend the hubby and I spent hours running around town collecting items that people wanted to donate to a yard sale fundraiser we will be holding next weekend!  It was really awesome to get a phone call or email and hear what people were willing to hand over, all to help bring Asher home! 

But before this started, Paul took the boys to a local farm for a service project.  They joined the homeschool version of student council and will be doing numerous service projects throughout the year.  Good stuff! 



Paul ended up with a load of boys and they headed out to the farm where some slave labor painters were needed!  It was very Mark Twain-ish.


Dirt country roads


 Fence painting.



Big old oak trees.



Did I mention the fence painting?

And then we got a little surprise.  The mom that is the advisor for the student council went to her car and unloaded seven jugs of pop tops.  Turns out she is also a Girl Scout leader and her troop had a fundraiser for us.  Without us even knowing about it.  They collected all these pop tops.  Just for Asher.  So sweet.  I can just imagine all those little girls drinking soda after soda to collect all these tabs.  Can't you?  No.  LOL!  I hope they didn't drink all those soda by themselves! 


When Paul got home with these, I googled to find where we might turn them in.  Well, I got more than I bargained for.  I found this 


I bet you didn't know you needed this!  Yes folks.  That is in fact a purse, well a messenger bag actually.....made from the tabs of soda pops.  And y'all, that puppy retails for 180 buck-a-roos!  Pop Tops?  Check it out Escama if you don't believe me. 



What about this?  Pop top belt anyone?  Flexible and ecological! Only $70 at Novica




What if you found this under the Christmas tree.  Now imagine, it's not from your 5 year old,  but from your sweetie!  Who paid $20 for it! 


Prom anyone? 

So I got to thinking.... I've got enough tabs, I could make an afghan, y'all! 

Or maybe not.

But, maybe I should make belts.
Anyone for a pop-top belt?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why?

Why do I put myself through this?  Why did we take a leap of faith, yet again, into the unknown?  Why did we subject ourselves to prying eyes and invasive questions?  Why spend countless hours chasing down documents, filling out paperwork, reading books, researching, crunching numbers and being interviewed?  Why? Knowing we would have to put ourselves out here in faith that God would provide for this adoption as He did for Claire's.


video


Because there are children without families in the world.
We are a family that wants more children.
We have an empty bed....and if we didn't, we'd get one!

Because he is worth it!


This video was taken of our sweet Asher in the early spring by the staff of our agency.  We originally fell in love with just the pictures of young Jun'an.  By the time we saw this video, we were committed to Shan Yi, but it was the video that did Paul in.  He was finally able to see what I saw in this child.  I cried the first time I saw it and then thought to myself, well now I know he will get a family, who couldn't fall in love with him now.  But, he was still not snatched up.  Apparently, he was waiting for us.  He waited 8 months on that list.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Break Down Part 2

In which I explain to you that in adoption we do not buy our kids, but we do pay fees to get them home.  Please do not ask an adoptive family how much their child cost!  This is offensive.  And hurtful to the child.  Can you imagine being asked that in front of the child and knowing that your child is processing that information.  Thinking, what am I, a doll? a toy? a piece of meat?  You bought me?  Like you buy groceries? 

We pay adoption fees just like anyone that has a baby pays the doctor, the hospital, the nursery, the mid-wife, the doula.  Many of the fees are legal fees required by the US as well as China for an adoption.  Some of the fees are for services rendered......like the service of translating my English paperwork into Chinese....or the service of getting me to all my appointments in China on time and with someone to speak for me, in Chinese.  Some of the fees are for the actual travel.  None of the fees are to buy a child.  

When we adopted Claire, we spent a total of $26,526.00.  Yes, that is a lot of money.  But, one of my preemie twin biologically children cost me more in medical bills than that adoption.  And, the money was not all due at once.  We started our adoption in 2006 and completed it in 2008.  The bulk of the fees were due at the end, but over $7000.00 had been paid in the first year. 

With this adoption, it will be a little different.  First, because it is most definitely not going to take 2 years to complete this adoption!  We are on track to complete it well before the one year mark!  But, that means we have less time to come up with the money.

And this brings us to the reason our dossier has not left for China yet. 

We have completed our paperwork and it is on it's way to our agency.  But, they will be unable to send it to China until we have paid the fees necessary to do so. 

So, do you want to see what the fees look like for an international adoption?  Too bad.  You get to look at them anyway.

We have already paid a little over $6100.00.

  • $1300.00 in agency fees
  • $830.00 for immigration services fees (USCI$)
  • $3085 for our homestudy (this includes all our post-placement fees)
  • $85 for vital records
  • $130 to pay the courier in Washington
  • $429 for all our state and country certifications and authentications
  • $50 for required adoption education
  • $206 in shipping postage
  • a few miscellaneous fees
What do we have left?  To be honest, we have three categories here.  There is a total that we need for our dossier to go to China, a total that we need to secure our travel and a total that we will need to take with us to China. 

Our immediate need is to pay $5300 in agency and China program fees left and $630 in fees to China.  We have $1000 to put towards this and there is a possibility that there is a grant attached to Asher's file.  I was told this in an email today.  It is being checked on and someone will be getting to me soon!  We are also having a yard sale with donated items next week.  I know this will not bring in the thousands that we need, but I have to start somewhere, right?  I am toying with the idea of an online raffle too.  And, my mom found some art that I might be able to sell for a nice profit, providing I can find the right buyer. 


After that, we will need to pay for all our travel expenses in advance.  That includes our international flights, all our in-country travel, hotels and guides.  The estimation for it is $11,000, but it could be more or less and we won't know until then!   We will also need to pay our $600 post-placement bond at this time.  The bond will be reimbursed in increments every time we turn in one of three post-placement adoption reports that are required.

The final amount is money that we have to take with us to China for various expenses and includes document preparation, legal fees, a required orphanage donation fee, medical exam for Asher, vaccinations, visa fees, food and miscellaneous things needed in Chin@.  The total amount we will need to take with us to China is $10,000.00. 

That's a grand total of $33,704 for this adoption.  A little more than when we adopted Claire.  But, there are more regulations in place now and travel is more expensive. 

What are we going to do about it?  First of all, we pray.  We know that God's heart is for the orphan and we are following His will by taking this leap of faith in the first place.  It would have been nice if we could have started this adoption with $33,000 in the bank and then agreed to it.  I don't know about you, but that isn't the way God has worked in our lives.  He keeps requiring us to leap first.  To show we have faith that He will come through on behalf of the orphan.  So we did....leap that is.  And now we pray for peace and wisdom. 

Second, we are going to have several fund raisers.  Right now I am putting together two yard sales in two towns using items donated by family and friends.  Like I said before, I know this will not bring in thousands of dollars, but every little bit will help.  God can bless the yard sale, you know! 

Third, I am going to ask you to pray for us.  Will you?  If you feel led, please by all means, donate to help bring Asher home. I am so thankful for those that already have. You have no idea!  But, I know everyone that happens along here can't.  And that is okay! 

What can you do? The most important thing you can do, pray for us!  I know that our decision to adopt is the right one.  It will always be the right decision for us.  But, it does get a tad stressful.  Pray for our peace, pray for our wisdom and that we hear God's directions for us, whether He wants us to wait or do something.  And pray for our sweet Asher boy.  I feel that he is safe and generally healthy and loved where he is at.  But, I don't know these things for sure.  Pray that he is being cared for and that he is being prepared for this transition into a forever family.  And finally, pray that this mama doesn't go crazy waiting!  Seriously. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Break Down

Break down Part I

No silly!  This is not a post about me having a break down.  I have had no such thing!  I don't even  have one planned for this week!  Then again.....

No.  This is a post about breaking down our adoption stats for you.  You know, just in case you are interested in how all this works.  Or you are comparing mine to yours.  Yours to mine? 

First lets talk time.  Adoption takes time.  Shocking, I know!  I'm sure most of you remember that Claire's adoption took two years.  But, really it only took that long, because we didn't actually have a child that we'd requested.  It only took 6 months to get our dossier together and 4 months from the day we found her until we traveled to get her!  All that time in between?  Yeah, that was just us waiting on God to direct our path.  We started in the non-special needs line and then spent a good year coming to terms with our other option.  Special needs adoption.  You should never jump into that arena without knowing what you are doing.  It required a lot of research and soul searching.  But, we are very glad and most certain that special needs adoption is what we are supposed to be doing!

Before we get started I realize this task will seem daunting to many of those that have not done.  It's not.  Trust me, I've done it twice.  It's not easy, and the road is often bumpy.  But, it can be done! 

We started thinking about this adoption last December, but you don't really count thinking.  Thinking about adoption is not speedy.  We started working on this adoption in March.  Working amps things up a bit! 

Here is what our timeline to Asher looks like: 

3/9/2010 We applied to Madison Adoption Associates.  Why Madison?  Well, I've been around the block now.  I've been part of the adoption community for four years.  In the loop you hear things.  Lots of things.  While I haven't heard bad things about many agencies, I have heard so many wonderful things about Madison.  And, they sounded like an agency I'd want to work with.  Just like last time, I went with my gut on this.  I did check into two other agencies though.  Agencies that work in SC and might be more affordable because of that.  They weren't. 

In between applying to Madison and the next date on our list a lot went on.  Most of you know that we identified a little boy with a heart defect and were pre-approved for him.   I also contacted our social worker from our last adoption, hoping she would be able to do our homestudy again.  Alas, she had since passed away.  So, I had to go on a hurried search for a homestudy agency because Madison, not being in our state, is not allowed to conduct our homestudy.  Not that I could pay them travel expenses from Delaware away!  I found Nightlight.  A Christian agency in the upstate that agreed to do our homestudy at a reasonable rate financially and time wise. 

4/17/2010 We had our first homestudy visit. This visit was at our house and the social worker, a very sweet young girl, interviewed the entire family, including doing private interviews of the kids.  This was very different from our first homestudy.  She toured the house, checked the smoke detectors and collected some of the paperwork she needed.  That was that.  Over the next few weeks, she conducted three more interviews.  They were not at our house and did not involve the kids.  We had to present birth certificates, our marriage licence, Paul's divorce decree, and letters from all our doctor's saying we were in good health, had had all our vaccines, and did not have any communicable diseases.  We also had to prepare financial worksheets proving we made the right amount of money and weren't in financial distress and have four of our friends write letters of reference for us.  Lastly, we had to have a SLED background check, a sex offenders check and a local background check done at our local police station.  All this documentation was for our social worker, but most of it must be turned in with our dossier to Chin@ anyway.

The social worker found out that we were born, are married now, are in good general health, and there are no criminal actions in our past!  I'm not even a sex-offender!  Whew!

About this time, we found out that the sweet little boy we had locked, not only has a heart defect, but he's deaf and it was not in his medical forms.  We were devastated.  Our agency, while being very sensitive and supportive, really did not want us to proceed with his adoption.  They felt we were not qualified to handle a deaf child and would not have approved us for him if they'd known before.  They were genuinely concerned for us and for little Shan Yi, that this would not be best for anyone.  After weeks of research, and soul searching, we reluctantly petitioned to be un-locked from this child and moved forward with the adoption of another child.

I'm not going to lie, folks.  This was hard.  It was hard to separate and leave a child not knowing when or if he will find his family.  And it was very hard to switch gears.  Suddenly, I was not the mom to Shan Yi, but I was the mom to Jun'an {Dree an}.  It did not compute.  And though, I had dreamed of Jun'an for almost 6 months {July to December}, I had put him out of my mind as a possibility when Paul just could not be swayed to consider him.  It took time to actually get happy about adopting him.  That's the facts. I don't sugar coat. 

I'll never forget the first thing I learned during our first adoption.  Something a wise adoptive mother that worked for our first agency told me, "Adoption is not for the faint of heart."  It's true.  But, it is so worth it! I held onto that belief and my heart healed.  I will always think about and pray for Shan Yi.  I hope that one day I will get to know for sure that he is in his family.  But, I also have attached to my son, Jun'an.  And, I am, as usual, in awe of the ways that God works to put families together!  I know that he hold all of us, Shan Yi too, in the palm of his hand!

5/11/2010 We locked Jun'an's file.  It was hard to believe that after all this time we would end up with the boy I'd pushed for so hard the year before. I couldn't believe he was still on the list!

5/13/2010 We got PA or pre-approval to adopt Jun 'an.  This means that based on the general information our agency submitted on our behalf, it looks like we will have no problems getting approved once we've jumped through all the necessary hoops!

6/2/2010 We finished our homestudy.  All the necessary documentations were made and our social worker certified that she could recommend us as adoptive parents!  She sent our homestudy to DSS for their stamp of approval too.  This is a required extra step in our good state.  Bah.  It adds two to three weeks to our time table, {not to mention the fee} so someone who does not know us and never interviewed us, can make sure the social worker they already certified to do homestudies made a good recommendation.  Really?  

He's worth it!  He's worth it!  He is so worth it!  This is my mantra.

6/18/2010  DSS approval and USCIS application. We got a letter stating that DSS agreed with the findings of our state certified social worker.  We were recommended as adoptive parents and our paperwork was forwarded to USCI$ {citizenship and immigration}  This is also the date we sent our application to USCI$ {I-800A}2.  We could only hope that our homestudy and our application would one day meet again.  Most people get to send in everything all at once, but not if you are from our state! 

7/2/2010 We got a letter from USCI$ stated that they had received and were processing our paperwork. 
7/23/2010 Finally got our fingerprint appointments for USCI$.  In order to get approval from them, you must have your fingerprints run through the FBI database.  Your fingerprinting must take place at your state's CI$ office.  Ours just happens to be in Charleston.  Our appointment was not until August 18th, but we called and were told by our local office that we could do ours by walk-in on Wednesdays.  We just had to bring our letter proving that we had an assigned date and time already.

7/28/2010 Did our fingerprinting by walk-in.  In some areas they do not allow this.  We are fortunate.  However, I will say that the woman working at our office did not want to do them early.  She did them.  But, she was rude and she whined and she tried to make us feel bad for coming in early!  She clearly has no heart for adoption or the adoptive parent trying to get things done as quickly as possible.  However, others have said that they were flat out refused when they tried to do their prints early at other locations around the country. 

8/23/2010 We received our USCI$ approval!  This is a provisional approval {I-797}that does not give us permission to bring an orphan in the country, but does give us permission to pursue it.  Actual permission comes later after Chin@ officially approves us.

8/26/2010 We got our state certifications.  All the documents that we have spent the last months collecting and notarizing, had to be state certified.  The list is 14 documents long.  Two of those had to be certified in states other than ours.  I was not born in SC so my birth certificate was certified in GA.  Paul works in SC, but his employer is not here.  He works for a company based in Indiana and his employment letter had to be certified there.  I sent those two documents off as soon as I got them so I already had them certified.  We waited on our I-797 before we had our SC documents certified.  The I-797 has to be photocopied and we attached a letter stating that it was a copy of the original and had that notarized.  Then Paul took all the SC documents to Columbia and waiting while they were certified.  What documents?  Paul's birth certificate, our marriage licence, his divorce decree, a medical questionnaire for Paul and one for me that was filled out by our doctors, a letter from our local police department for each of us that states that we are not known criminals, a letter I wrote stating that I am not employed outside the home {if I worked I would get a letter from my employer stated that I did}, a financial statement, a copy of our completed homestudy, the copy of our I-797 and a letter written by me and Paul asking China to consider us as parents for Jun'an and delineating all the plans we have for him in our family.   That is the paperchase in a nutshell!

8/28/2010 Documments are sent to Washington DC.  We use a courier in Washington to hand deliver our documents to the US state department and the Chinese consulate.  All 14 of our documents have to be certified in both offices before they are allowed to be sent to China to represent us.  We use a sweet and knowledgeable adoptive mom that does this everyday for adoptive parents all over the country.  If you are ever in need of a courier for adoption papers or visas try Carol Fredericks at Dependable Adoption Courier Services.

9/3/2010 Our documents are returned to us all certified.  Well, the official paperchase is over now!  We have done all we can to be parents to an orphan from China.  Except....

Now is when we need to get our Dossier {all those certified and authenticated documents} to Chin@.  DTC.  That is the next step.  We send it to Madison and they send it to Chin@ as soon as they have gone through it with a fine toothed comb.  Then it will be logged into computers at the Center for Adoption Affairs in Chin@.  They will traslate it into Chinese, and then put it in line to be reviewed.  Once reviewed and {hopefully} approved, they will issue us our LOA, letter of acceptance.  This is letter asking us to officially sign off saying we want to adopt Jun'an and will come to get him when they send us notice to do so.  After we send our LOA back to Chin@, they will send us TA, travel approval and we have to use this document.  At this point we will work to get our final approval for USCI$ and our agency will work on getting us an appointment with the US consulate in Chin@.  Once all that is set up, we travel to China to get our boy.  YAY! 

Why isn't our dossier in Chin@ yet?  Why isn't it on it's way?  Well, folks.  That is for another day. 



Just cause it makes me feel better to see them,


I'm posting these so cute pictures of our l'il emperor.



The newest...
{Don't you just want to squeeze him?!}


And the oldest I have.
This being the first picture I saw of him!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What it looks like

Schooling In Our Home:  Homeschool


I have been homeschooling since the boys were in kindergarten.  In other words, none of my kids have ever been to school.  When they {the boys} were in about 3rd grade, someone at a store or doctor's office {can't remember, that's what happens when have this many kids, with each kid come loss of more memory} asked the boys where they went to school.  Parker piped up with "at the kitchen table."  And that was that! 


4th grade looks like this.



Or this!


8th grade sometimes looks like this.


And this.


Kindergarten looks like this!



Everyone does school on their own level, even when we share subjects like science and history.


 And math.


We do projects together!



Like making anatomically correct flower models from clay and paper.



Isabel needs you to notice the cute inch worm on the stem of hers!



we often display projects all over the house, like this flower dissection project.



And every now and then recess is really interesting!
Like when a funny fella shows up in the front yard.


And you get to take a walk with him up and down the street!



Until he flies away.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So....what's for dinner?

If I had a dime for every time I hear that during the day.....well you know.  I guess I wouldn't exactly be rich, but I'd be less irritated if they paid me to answer that question! 

Anyway.

White Bean Chicken Chili.  That's what's for dinner tonight.  Want the recipe?  Well, you're getting it anyway, because I really don't have time to blog about anything else and I'm really trying to blog every. single. day. 

Disclaimer:  This is not the actual recipe.  This recipe has been Chelsitized! Or Chelsinated?  Whatever.  I took a recipe and changed it to suit us.  I think it's better!  You may not.  And, that's okay.  Really, it is. I won't come to your house and fuss at you if you decide you'd rather use one off the internet.  Or you just don't like white bean chili.  I didn't think I did until I made it!  I'd even tried someone else's and didn't like it.  But, this one, I do like.  And better yet, everyone in my house will eat it. 

What's in it?


2-6 cloves fresh garlic
1 onion
chicken breast or tenders
olive oil
2 cups veggie or chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans white beans (I use navy)
2 cups frozen or fresh corn
1/2 cup medium salsa
Bragg
salt
pepper
cumin
kombu

What is Bragg?
Bragg is liquid amino acids. Tastes like soy sauce.  Adds loads of healthy things you can not pronounce to your food!  I add at least 3 Tbsp to all soups and chili.  I also sauté green beans and other veggies in it.  And add it to homemade salad dressings.  Let's put it this way, it's a staple around here and I buy it in a large 32oz bottle! 

What is kombu?
Easy version?  Seaweed.  I know!  Who would have thought I'd put seaweed in my food!?!?!  But, I do.  I put a small piece {check the picture above for that small beef jerky looking thing in front} of kombu in about anything that simmers.  Rice, soups, chili, veggies.  Why?  Well, wouldn't you know it!  Seaweed is good for you!  It infuses the food with good minerals that you might not be getting enough of!  You don't have to eat it.  I use it like you would use bay leaves.

How do you make it?


Press your garlic,



Dice your onion,



And cut the chicken into bit sized pieces.  Then sauté the onion, garlic and chicken with olive oil over medium heat until the chicken is white all over.  Salt and pepper to taste. 



See, we like pepper!



Now add everything else. I recommend starting with the veggie stock and working down. 




Whew!  That was a tough one!

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer on low for at least 30 minutes.  If it's not spicy enough for you, add more salsa, or some hot sauce.  I added another 1/2 cup of salsa to mine! 





Serve with corn bread
{which is in the oven right now!}


Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekend to remember

I just spent the weekend with my family.....away from my family. 

Huh? I know.  Let me try this again.

I left my family {one amazing husband, four adorable kids, three smelly dogs and one whinny cat} to spend the weekend with my family {two crazy sisters, three fabulous nieces}.

Make sense now?



You see, this one had to get to college.....and apparently it takes one mom, one dad, one sister, one cousin, one boyfriend, one friend and two crazy aunts to get the job done!  Who knew?   


See?  What'd I tell you. 

 I felt all sorry for those other poor whippersnappers, that only had their moms and dads in tow..... to, you know,  follow them around snapping pictures, asking annoying questions and generally embarrassing the bejeebers out of them.  I mean having a few parents there is fine.  But, having a whole entourage!  Now that's getting the job done well, folks!
It  really doesn't seem possible that she's old enough for this step.  I remember the day she was born.  I remember being in the room and leaving the room and standing outside the door just waiting to hear them to say if it was a girl or a boy!  I was in college then and now she is!  So, I absolutely could not miss watching her take off!



We got her signed in, registered, unpacked, organized and orientated.  Is that a word?  I don't know.  But, I do know that after that first day, we were all good and orientated! 


And Brooke was unpacked and organized!



How long will she stay organized?
Well, considering she left both her ID and the power cord to her laptop at home.....

Plus I've seen her room at home.

I won't stake anything on her staying organized for long!



But, that is okay.


Organizing and clean are more our schtick. 
Her bailiwick?
Artsy stuff, duh.

Hence the reason she's at SCAD.
And really, have you ever meet a neatnik artist?
Well, I haven't.



Like her mother before her.



{is it just me or does her roommate's art look like dripping blood???  I hope it's just me.  Say it's just me!!}

That said, we also got to meet her room mates. 





I'm not saying which one may or may not be fascinated with red drippy blood paint.

  Brooke is a Carolina Girl!  Her room mates are not.  One is from DC and the other from Dubai!  I think this year will be both interesting and eye opening for our girl!



The weekend was all it took to open my eyes!
I'm pretty sure my kids are never leaving home now.

All that aside, it was a great weekend.  A weekend to remember!  A weekend where we realized that Brooke really is all growed up.  She activated her electronic ID card, called maintenance for her backed-up toilet and got a coffee all by herself before joining us at the hotel one morning!  My sisters and I looked at each other, sighed and proclaimed "She's gonna make it!"   And Brianna?  Is right on her heals.  I'm just glad I'm not the mama because it was hard enough realizing these facts as the aunt!


No thanks on being the mommies!


Of these two amazing girls.  They will blow the world away, I'm sure.  But, I'd rather sit back and devise ways to lock my kiddos away for the rest of my life! Because as fun as this weekend was, it had to end.  We had to leave her alone in the big bad city.  To fend for herself.  And that was hard to do....





We drove away from that school with tears in our eyes and pride in our hearts.   Thank goodness for a backed-up toilet to reassure us that she'll be okay.  She called maintenance, y'all.  All by herself! So that totally means she's gonna make it, right?  In the big bad city.  All alone. 

Okay, fine.  Scratch the all alone part.  She texted me the first night:  I made friends and I'm going out.  And seriously.  He boyfriend is picking her up Thursday to take her back home for the weekend.  So all she's got to do is make it four whole days! 

But, we southern women are nothing if not dramatic!