Monday, August 25, 2014

Standard Goods Giveaway: Handmade Leather Guitar Strap

If you are not currently following us on Instagram, grab your phone and get on it! Our name is @standard_goods and we post regular updates on both our adoption adventure and our Standard Goods shop. This week we have an awesome giveaway happening so don't miss out! Giveaways are a great opportunity for us to not only drum up business, but also spread the word about our shop and our adoption story. Winner will be selected on Friday so hurry and enter today!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

30 and Waiting...

Today is August 21st and I have been 30 for two whole days! 30 has been the magic number for so long it is surreal to finally have arrived. China would not accept our dossier until both Tim and I were 30 so we've been holding onto our documents and counting down the days. Since our agency only sends dossier's to China on Friday, our initial plan was to have everything sent out on the 22nd (tomorrow), which is the Friday following my birthday.

Let me back up a bit...

Our first dossier goal was to have all our documents state certified by July 23rd. So, on Wednesday, July 23rd, my friend Monica (a fellow "waiting momma" with twin kiddos in Haiti) and I jumped into our mini van and road tripped it up to Sacramento to get 'er done.

I had assumed the certification process would take a while. I was sure there would be one or two documents that I missed a signature or dated it wrong or was notarized incorrectly or something so we identified the nearest UPS with an available notary to fix any issues that would come up and headed into the Secretary of States office to start the process. I took a number (though there was only one other person waiting at the time we arrived) and sat down. Three minutes later I was handing my documents over to be certified and was told to sit down and wait. Eight minutes after sitting down, I was told my documents were ready and have a nice day. What? Seriously? No issues? No re-do's? No "run to the notary next door and get this taken care of and then come back"? Nope. We were done. After just about four hours in the car, we spent maybe a total of fifteen minutes in the Sec. of States office before we were done. And just like that, we had all of our documents state certified by our goal of July 23rd!

 And since July 23rd was our ninth anniversary, we celebrated it the next day with a night out in the big city of Fresno.

With our documents now State Certified, the next step was to send them to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco to be Authenticated. Since this was not something we could road trip to make happen, we UPS'd our documents to the Consulate and were told to wait up to three weeks to get them back. Again, we were kinda expecting something to go wrong and prepping our selves to need to re-do a document or two. I mailed our dossier to San Francisco on July 25th and we had everything back, no issues, completely authenticated (with a super rad Chinese stamp) on August 7th. I spent most of the next day copying, scanning, and emailing everything to our agency. On Monday, August 11th, we sent every last document to our agency for final review.

On the 13th our agency received our dossier. On the 14th it was approved. And on the 15th, one week earlier then we had been praying for, our dossier was on a plane to China. Because it would take a few days of travel, our agency felt comfortable sending it out before my 30th birthday. We haven't received an official word yet, but it is most likely that our dossier was logged in with The People's Republic of China this past Tuesday, the 19th, my 30th birthday.

So what now? Now we begin to play "the waiting game." We have done all the paperwork we can do for now and it is all out of our hands. Now that our dossier is logged in and I am 30, we are eligible to be matched with any child fitting our profile. This means I am checking my phone and email often. Really often. Waiting to hear from our social worker who will give us our referral. It could happen this afternoon. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen next week or next month.

Don't get me wrong, we're not just twiddling our thumbs while we wait. As you can see from our little fundraising thermometer on the side of the blog, our estimated expenses have gone up a bit due to a recent increase in fees from our agency. However, you should also notice our amount fund raised has increased a lot as well which is super encouraging and faith building. So, since we still have a bit of a deficit, we are working hard at our Standard Goods business and cranking out the leather works. Our Etsy shop stays consistently busy and we've signed up for three fall "craft fairs" where we will be selling our goods to hopefully make a nice dent in the deficit. We have also applied for a grant and are hoping to hear more details on that soon. Once we receive and accept a referral, we will need to pay a fee of $15,000 so we are hustling to ensure we can write that check as soon as we see our little one's face. Lord, let it be soon!!

A huge "thank you" to those of you who have been praying for us during the paperwork process. We've felt your prayers and cherish the encouragement you've been to our family. We're getting close and the support we have from our friends and family makes it so much less scary and so much more exciting.

How cool would it be if my next update post is news that we've been matched with a child!?!! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

June-July Update: Foster Youth Graduation, Adoption Celebration, Car Accident, Fireworks Booth, Dossier Prep...Nap.

So the last four weeks have been a bit insane. "A bit" is an understatement. Super-duper insane is more accurate. As you can see from the title of this post, we have had our hands full with some pretty intense events.

Here's the recap:

Foster Youth Graduation

As the Program Coordinator for City Without Orphans, Tulare County, I get to do some really cool things with some super cool people. Case in point = Attend the ILP Foster Youth Graduation Dinner with thousands of dollars worth of donated raffle prizes in hand.

Each year the Tulare County Independent Living Program (ILP) hosts a graduation dinner for foster youth who have completed high school. Traditionally, there is a raffle but this year, due to budget cuts, the county did not have the funds to purchase the prizes. Three local churches stepped up and committed to providing the raffle gifts. The county couldn't believe the generosity of the faith community and the value/quality of the gifts. Not only were there 15 rad raffle prizes, but each graduate was given a devotional and $50 Target gift card as well.

It was such a great event and so fun to get to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these amazing and deserving kids.

Adoption Celebration and Banquet

 June 22nd was our church's 2nd annual Adoption Celebration and Banquet and, just like last year, we SOLD OUT! We had over 90 items and services donated for our raffle and silent auction and had to combine many of the donations so that it would all fit on the 20 plus tables we set up. We enjoyed an evening of delicious food, Hutsells Homemade ice cream (if you are in the Valley you HAVE to try their ice cream!!), amazing raffle and auction prizes, and, last but not least, the wonderful Gospel Whiskey Runner's concert. It was a fabulous evening, with our final amount raised of $17,775! These funds will be divided between our church's Lifesong for Orphans account (to be available in the form of grants for our adopting families) and our "Post-Adoption Support" fund. 

Some of our amazing donated raffle items. 
Tables, linens, chairs, decor = all donated!!
The Lord brought the masses! Every seat filled!!
Tim and our dear friend, Deborah, selling raffle tickets.
The amazing banner made by Kim Rico. The perfect theme for this adoption process. 
We are so grateful for all the volunteers who donated countless hours helping organize the event and the over 250 people who attended and celebrated with us. So, so blessed the generosity of our church family.

Car Accident

Just a few days after the wrapping up the banquet and before launching into the fireworks booth, I was picking up Tim from work (because our Pilot was at the transmission repair shop...yea.) when we were hit by another driver. Though all the people involved were ok, our car was not. The front left tire took the brunt of the impact and the axle was broken as a result. The car was towed from the scene and later pronounced "totaled." Since our Pilot was still in the shop, we had a day or two as a "no car" family until we could pick up a rental and snag the Pilot back (unfixed) from the transmission shop. The rental is now returned, the insurance check has been cashed, and we are living life as a "one car" family as we search for vehicle number two.

Fireworks Booth

I spent much of May and June prepping to sell fireworks. Having never grown up in a city where street fireworks were legal, it was a whole new world for me. Our church recently merged with another church who had dibbs on a fireworks booth. The city of Visalia only allows 27 fireworks booths so there is 12 year wait to work one. One of our pastor's generously offered the booth to the three families of our church adopting internationally as a means of fundraising. We all eagerly jumped in, knowing that this was a huge opportunity to make some money. Because none of us had every managed a fireworks booth, we had little to no idea of how much work was actually involved. Let me put it this way, we sold over $29,000 worth of fireworks in 4 days and we earned every. single. penny. Of course, the week of July 1st through the 4th was record breaking heat. Sitting in a plywood box on top of asphalt in 107 degree heat is not something your average person would volunteer for, but guess what? We had over 36 volunteers over the four days who did just that. Many of the volunteers I had never even met before and there they were, sweating next to me, so I could get money to bring my baby home from China. What a gift. What a picture of the body of Christ.
Unpacking 2000lbs of fireworks.

Setting up the booth.
Ready to sell!!
The Lord showed us so much favor through the entire process. Our original location fell through and so we scrambled to find a spot for the booth. We landed in a Walmart parking lot. FAVOR. When the fire marshall came to approve our set up, he asked me how in the world we landed in such an amazing location. I think he called it "prime." He was right. By 6:30 pm on the 4th we had SOLD OUT. Completely cleared the booth of all fireworks except a few bricks of Ground Blooms. The next morning when Tim and I went to our drop off appointment, the fireworks crews couldn't believe we were only returning a single box. FAVOR.
S O L D  O U T!!

We are still calculating expenses and sales tax but we are hoping that each of the three families will be able to walk away with about $4000 from the fireworks booth. So much work. So worth it.

As if the sweet location, amazing volunteers, and incredible selling out of fireworks wasnt enough blessing, God had the wife of a local news channel drive by our booth and call her husband to tell him to share our story. On Friday morning ABC 30 showed up and did a great spot on our fundraiser. Follow the link to check it out:


With the past few weeks being as crazy as they were, we are now finally entering what feels like "summer vacation." The kids are enjoying VBS and swim lessons this week, I actually went grocery shopping, and our laundry is getting washed AND folded!

As far as the adoption paperwork goes, we are hoping to have all of our dossier documents completed and notarized ($10 per signature) by July 23rd (our 9 year anniversary) and will then mail them off to be state certified ($20 each document) and then mail them off again to be authorized by the Chinese Consulate ($25 each document). Our prayer is that every step will go smoothly and we will be ready to send it to our agency in the first week of August and they will be ready to mail it to China on August 22, the Friday after my 30th birthday!!!

Please join us in thanking God for the amazing ways He continues to provide the finances for this adoption. He is so faithful. Every check we've written has had the cash in our adoption savings account to back it up. Pray that our faith would continue to increase as we watch our Father provide.

Also, please pray that all the final details needed in finalizing our dossier would fall into place so that we are ready to send everything to China mid-August.

Lastly, pray that we find a car soon. Tim has been diligently searching, test driving, and praying for the exact car that the Lord has picked out for our soon-to-be family of five. With three car seats in our near future, a mini-van is on our radar. Pray that we would be wise in making the purchase... and that our Pilot's transmission would be healed.

God could do that, you know :).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June Update: Home Study Approved

Holy smokes batman, it's been a long time since I've posted an update! Where do I even start...Excuse me while I scroll through instagram to remember what the last 8 weeks have looked liked.

Our biggest accomplishment in the last month was (drum roll please) completing our home study!! We are now an approved adoptive family and can be matched with a child from our agency's special needs listing. Did you read that?? We are now waiting for a phone call or email from our social worker with a name, photo, and medical info of our son or daughter!! The call could come later today or it might not come till September. For now, we just wait on God's perfect timing.

Standard Goods, our Etsy shop, has really taken off these past few weeks. We were so excited to be featured on Etsy's home page for a bit and that really drove traffic to our store and revved up our sales. Tim and I spend most every evening now cutting, oiling, and sewing leather goods. When we launched our lil' etsy shop back in October, our goal was to earn $5000 by the time we submitted our dossier in August. If sales continue at their current pace, we are estimating our total sales to be close to $8000. WE ARE OVERWHELMED by the favor God has shown us in this venture. Tim and I often joke about the reality that we are working to fund this adoption through making purses and dog collars. Never in a million years...

We recently sent off a few of the largest checks I've ever written to our agency. It is so awesome to have the money in our savings account to back up those checks. Even now, as the account begins to dwindle, we have such confidence that when the next payment is due, the money will be there. This process has been such a faith builder for our entire family. It is not uncommon for the kids and I to get the mail and for them to ask, "Is God mailing us money today?" I love that at ages 3 and 5 they already have such a testimony of God as a good provider.

Our dear friend and incredible photographer, Kelli Avila, blessed us with some adoption photos for us to use in sharing our story. I love them all so much!

To our son or daughter in China, 

We are working so hard to bring you home!! See you soon!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April Update

Ready for another update?

Makers Market

We had a great day selling our Standard Goods pieces along side other great, local artisans at the Embellish & Restore Makers Market. We sold over $450 worth of our leather goods and made some great connections which we are hoping will grow into other fundraising opportunities.

Homestudy Paperwork

We finished our homestudy paperwork and mailed it, along with a $2900 check to our agency!! We have scheduled our first Home visit for next week and hope to have our homestudy approved by May. There are a bunch of grants we are wanting to apply for (and maybe a Kickstart-ish campaign) but we've been waiting until our homestudy is done and approved to apply. Pray it all continues to move forward smoothly and quickly!

Beach Day

Between adoption paperwork, Standard Goods, and life in general, we've been pretty swamped. Last Saturday was supposed to be another super busy day but after a series of unrelated events, all the busyness was canceled and our day totally opened up. What do you do with a free day? Go to the beach, of course!! 

House Prep

We really have no clue when child #3 will be home. It could be nine months, it could be twelve months.  But we know they are coming and we know we need to be prepared. With our first home visit coming up in a few days, we started to have a more serious conversation about bedrooms/beds/cribs etc. Because we don't know the age or gender of our child yet, it is all one big guessing game. We had moved the guest room bed into Jane's room to create space for our Standard Goods workshop. Though Jane loved having the huge bed in her room, it took up tons of space and made it really difficult  for her to play in her room. A few nights ago, Tim and I started talking about looking for a trundle bed for her room to create space for her and allow for an additional bed, in case we are matched with a sweet girl. It was a super fun conversation and reminded me of the chats we would have during my pregnancies as we would dream about nursery decor, baby names, and wonder if the baby was a boy or girl. 

24 hours after having the bed conversation, I was looking on craigslist and found an ad that had just been placed for a gorgeous daybed with a trundle for an incredible price. We picked it up last night and the kids have been playing on it and in Jane's room all day! 

It has been so fun to do some type of "nesting" as we prep for our adoption. There is so much more to be done and so much we can't do until we have a match but the simple action of buying a bed with a second bed in anticipation of what might be, definitely upped the level of excitement in our house!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Prayer Requests and Darling Magazine Feature

I kinda feel like I've been hit by two trucks. One truck was made out of feathers and marshmallows and the second truck was carrying cattle or something. Seriously, as the work load continues to increase with Standard Goods and our adoption paperwork, God's blessings continue to increase as well. Both hit hard, one is just way more fun to collide with than the other. All that being said, we could use prayer!  

How to Pray: 
  • We are SO close to being done with our home study. We are just waiting on getting a few papers back from our doctors and then need to finish our personal applications. I was actually about 80% done with the 22 page personal app when my computer lost it's mind and lost my work. So there went about 10 hours of thinking and typing down the toilet. Fun. Pray that we would continue to maintain a good pace with our paperwork and that no more time would be wasted due to technology. Pray that the paperwork being filled out by our doctors would be done correctly and quickly so we can get our home study approved and begin to apply for grants. 
  • Our sewing machine is still not working at 100% so Tim is having to drive to the "on loan" machine to sew our leather pieces at night. Such a bummer and hassle and waste of time he could be spending home. Pray that we would figure out what is going on with our machine and have the time to fix it.
  • Pray that we would gain wisdom and discernment for managing this new small business God has given us in Standard Goods. As the business grows and the orders pile up, we need to know how to best allocate our time and our resources to maintain a steady flow of sales but also to keep from burning out.
  • Pray for our baby in China. Pray that they are safe and being loved well while we work and fight hard to bring them home. 
A HUGE Praise:

Tim and I are being featured this week at Darling Magazine as their "Embodied: Courageous" story! I LOVE Darling Magazine and am still in a bit of shock that they are sharing our adventure with their readers. It is a bit dream like, for sure. These interviews and blog spots and shop features are such great exposure for not only our story but in raising awareness of the need for adoptive families. Opportunities like the Darling interview are always such a gift to our family and, we hope, help to encourage others to consider what God might be calling them into in regards to loving the fatherless. 

Be sure to check out the interview and leave a comment on the story!