Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Tommy!


I was greeted this morning by a toasty, cuddly 7 year old who crawled into bed with us and got his 
"Happy Birthday Hug!"  
The photo is a bit blurred, but here he is...

Tommy Rylands- Age 7

His first shoulder ride!
Big brothers really are good for something!

Then, we all got up and around and enjoyed a sweet treat for breakfast in honor of the Birthday Boy!  Cinnamon Rolls! YUM!!

The Before Shot...

And after....

Yes, there was fresh fruit & milk too.....
After breakfast, Granny (my Mom) came to town and treated everyone to the boys' favorite--- Chinese Buffet for lunch!  (Are you sensing a theme???)  What other 7 year olds do you know that can't wait to get to the Chinese buffet and eat Mussels!  

The afternoon was more Granny fun. The boys made sugar cookies with her, cut them out and decorated them. I suspect this may have been Colin's first time decorating cookies.

Yes, we have a little rolling pin for the younger 
bakers in the family.....

Colin delicately placed his masterpieces on the 
baking stone.

Granny was a great teacher as she instructed on just the right thickness for the dough...

Now we get to the real artistry... 
Colin began carefully carving 
something into each cookie.  

 Ta-Da!  For the birthday boy!
Check these out!  Colin carved Tommy's name into the Owls!

Let the decorating begin! 


Colin's Masterpieces

Tommy's Works of Art


Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall Festival

Halloween weekend is always action-packed for our crew.  Between Tommy's birthday (7 tomorrow) and trunk or treat at church and Halloween night, we have a fun time each October. We had the best time tonight at the Fall Festival at church.  This was a new experience for Colin. He was very tickled when he found out that we had an old costume in the Halloween tub that would work for him.... Introducing..... Count Colin!

 Next we have the general of the Rylands' home... Commander Tommy!

I said, "MARCH!!!"

Here are our two goofballs now....

My boys enjoying the festival and all the craziness....

We can't forget the teeth!

Even in scary costume, he's still so handsome!

Of course, no party is complete without the Chick-Fil-A cow.  

Tommy was so preoccupied with the inflatable jump castles and UFOs, playing with his friends and running around for hours that he barely cared about the candy!  Looking forward to celebrating his 7th Birthday tomorrow with family.

Good Night,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The waiting game

Of course, my favorite part of the adoption process is the waiting.  Now, having said that, I hear all the hundreds of men and women across the globe grinding their teeth because, by comparison, we won't have to wait for much of anything.  After all, both Colin's adoption and this second adoption are/have happened at warp speed!  But, acknowledging that there are so many other sweet children and families that really have tremendous waits throughout the process, what makes our wait so challenging is that ANY unnecessary delay could cost him his chance for a forever family.  There is literally NO room for mistakes, especially this time around.

So often, we hear about these amazing leaps of faith where families hear the call to adopt one of these older children, and like our first adoption, all goes well. Despite the hiccups along the way, they make it to China on time (in some cases, just in the nick of time!) and the families live happily ever after.  By in large, this is the way our first adoption went is going.(We are far from "done") It would be really easy to think that it always ends this way. Right?  But, the reality is that there are many, many chances for something to go in another direction. Things like lost mail, typos on paperwork, missing documentation, cranky immigration officers, key employees taking vacations or sick days.... and the list goes on.

Now, I am not one that has the luxury of dwelling on such disasters.  In fact, most days, I am confident in the Lord's plan and that even those pesky delays will all, somehow, fit into His plan for our family and be revealed to us sometime in the future.  On the other hand, I would be remiss if I was not daily aware of the responsibility that I have to lean on Him for support and to pray faithfully for the "process".  Today is one such day.  Our state DSS officer was magnificent in getting our new home study approved in record time and sending it off immediately.  Likewise, our Immigration paperwork was rushed via overnight FedEx to the lockbox where they process the applications. It was delivered last Friday 10/21. (Don't get me started on why there are processed in TX and then sent "snail mail" to MO for review.)  ANYWAY..... because of the tight time frame in which we have to work, we (myself and our wonderful case worker) have reached out to two different Senators for help.  We received confirmation overnight that the paperwork was logged in yesterday, but don't actually know where it is RIGHT NOW.  We are praying that it was not sent to MO via USPS as this generally takes 7-10 days  and I have been told that we cannot afford that lost time.  So, for those who have joined our family in prayer, that is the current and immediate need. Those papers must get to MO as soon as possible.  I will update the post when I hear more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Video! Meet our newest son...

We wanted to share this cool video of our new son. He is the first boy on the video.  After him, is a sweet boy who is coming home to a wonderful Christian family in SC very soon.  The last boy, who we call "William" is still in need of a family.  If you watch the entire video, you will see our son again, bouncing a basketball, jumping rope and playing with a Yo-yo. (Badly, if you ask Colin! lol)  What a tough cookie! Someday soon we hope to decide on his new name. Until  then, enjoy....


Click here to see Video  Password: William1

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Decisions, Decisions....

So as we wait this week to hear about a very important grant for which we've applied, I am reminded that there are some who are in the process of adopting an older child who visit with us here to gain some insight from those who have gone before.

Feeling like I am no expert, I forget that sometimes the simplest insights or experiences will prove helpful to someone else when they bring their children home, so I decided to write today about the act of making decisions.

Most of us in America grow up with a family and at some point, although it is likely different for each family, your parents present you with choices.  "Honey, do you want an apple or banana?"  "Would you like to wear the red shirt today, or the Blue one?"  Gradually, you learn to make a choice so that as you get older, you can navigate more options and learn the natural consequences of each.  For good or bad.  We take for granted that this is a natural part of growing up, right?

Well, it wasn't that long ago that I was the parent scouring the web looking to learn from other BTDT (been there, done that) parents so that I would have a peek into our future with Colin.  That, combined with the adoption education that is required of all new adoptive parents, prepared us for so much worse than we have actually experienced.

There are so many unknowns in adoption, particularly international adoption. And, every single child brought to America from another country has their own unique challenges and can not be stereotyped.  But, all that being said, we could not have asked for a better experience.  God chose a wonderful young boy for this family. Colin is sweet and considerate. He is laid back (unlike his mother) and can easily deal with the unknown.  He is obedient and so helpful.  But, that does not mean that he is without challenges.  As I alluded to above, he, like so many institutionalized children, struggles with decisions.  The simple task of grabbing a Tshirt to put on for the day does not come naturally to him.  He has never had 7 from which to choose.  Also, expressing a true opinion or preference seems to be tough.  Which do you like best?  Seems like a simple question, but he will, when he can, defer to us every time.

When we have "family meetings" and solicit the kids' opinions on something, he struggles to voice a position.  It appears especially tough when a decision is the result.  If he does not see the ultimate decision as his to make, then he is hesitant to express an opinion about the outcome.  Quite a contrast to his younger brother, who is never shy about telling us what he thinks or wants.  We have explained to him that his feelings and opinions are very important to us and that we want him to tell us these things, but we know it will take time.  After all, for years now, he was not in charge of anything.  All his possessions and his time were dictated by someone else.

So, we start small.  Letting him choose clothes for the day.  Encouraging him to shop for his favorite foods at the Chinese grocery store.  Giving him choices for things that have no real importance so that he feels safe to choose.  If you are preparing to adopt an older child, there are lots of things to consider and pray over, but these boys and girls are so worth the effort!  We are all, especially Colin, excited to bring one more into the house and really shake things up! lol

More to come...

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Bracelets Posted

For those of you who are looking for bracelets for yourself or others, please check out the fundraising page. I have even more patterns posted as of today!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On your mark, get set, PAPERCHASE!!!

You would think that after just having completed this process, that the early paperchase would not seem like such a shocker for us, but oh my!  How quickly the "pain" disappears once you are through that stage.  I have been sitting at the computer and on the phone for over three straight hours now and I'm still NOT DONE! :-)

My head is swimming with USCIS supp 3 forms, G-1145 forms, grant applications, reference letters, letters of intent, dossier this that and the other!  WOW!  And, no pressure.... he only ages out in 9 weeks. EEEK!

OK, I just had to get that out.. I'm good now.  All is well and God is still in control!  Pray people! Pray.  Gotta run. I have work to do!  Love ya!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bracelets & Boys! Boys & Bracelets!

What in the world do bracelets have to do with boys? Not a thing in this house, except.... when it comes to raising money!

Well, allow me to introduce to you our first Fundraiser!

My mother has created these adorable fabric covered bracelets and they are super good looking!  They come in large and medium sizes and a great variety of fabrics.  They are soft, flexible and QUIET! LOL  I can even play my French Horn with one still on my wrist because, unlike all my other bracelets, this one won't scratch the finish!  Take a look and see which one calls your name.

Size Large- Qty.-1 
Size Large- Qty.-1

Currently SOLD OUT.  Ask if interested.

Size Large- Qty.-1 (Lighter version of the first one above)

Size Med.- Qty. 1

Size Med.- Qty. 1

Size Med.- Qty. 2

Size Med.- Qty. 1

Size Med.- Qty. 1

Size Med.- Qty. 1
Slightly thinner than the others.
Don't see a fabric you like?  No worries!  We have more coming!  Black & White (most popular); Zebra, Leopard, Purple & Black, Multi-Colored Jewel Tones, Red w/ stars, ..... Lots of great fabrics.

Let me know if you would like to support our adoption and how many bracelets you want.  We are asking for a minimum donation of $5 per bracelet, but will graciously accept anything you send above that amount.

God Bless,

Here we go again!

I am overjoyed to share with you that Tom and I received Pre-approval today from
China for this sweet boy! 

While he certainly does not look it, according to his paperwork, he will turn 14 on January 1, 2012.  On this date, he will no longer have the chance to be adopted by his forever family.  So, once again, we find ourselves racing to China to bring home another blessing.  The saving grace here is that a good deal of the paperwork is already completed and that will save us about 2 months of processing time.

So, have we lost our minds?  No, not yet...  Have we forgotten that we just got back?  Not a chance... Don't we need time to adjust?  Yes, that would be nice...  How will we pay for this?  However God chooses to provide. 

Have we covered all of your questions? 

No, we're not crazy, and no, we are not out to "save the world". (Although would that we could!)  We are an everyday family who wants to honor God will our time, talents and treasures and we are convinced that for reasons that are not ours to know right now, God has asked us to step forward and stand in the gap for these two boys.  Our boys. The boys that He has chosen for us.  Every bit as much as he chose Tommy for us.  I doubt there is a single person out there who has ever met me that would say that I am a spontanious, let life happen kind of gal. Quite the opposite,in fact.  I am only now learning to trust God will all of my "plans". LOL  But, for someone who has a compulsive need to plan out every minute of every day, I can tell you that when you know that you know that you know that God is calling you to do something, the only possible response is "yes, Lord".  (I am not a fan of big FISH!) 

So, away we go back into the craziness of paperwork, deadlines and the occasional panic attack!  We ask that you each hold us up in prayer and that you pray for our son (name to be determined).  Pray that he would have peace about his pending birthday until he is notified of our arrival and pray for each of us, our sons included, that we would be prepared for yet another major change. 

Now, back to that sweet face........

Here he is when he was turned over to the orphanage.... This is the child they determined to be 8 years old at the time....

I know, I know....8?  More like 4!

As you can see, he was born with clubbed feet and once he was taken into the orphanage system, he was sent to the hospital for corrective surgery.  He spent 80 painful days in the hospital.  From what we are told, he was quite a brave soul pushing himself to the limits as he worked through his physical therapy.

This is what his feet look like now....

He is growing into a very handsome child and I can't wait to see what God has in store for him now that he is coming home to a permanent family who will love and care for him. 

 As with Colin's adoption, nothing is ever guaranteed and this timeline is tighter than before.  Pray that all will go according to God's plan for us and for him and that we can make it in time. 

The Rylands, Tom, Angie, Colin & Tommy

Sunday, October 9, 2011

All things "American"

So, how does Colin spend his days?  Why, with Rosetta Stone, of course!

He is working diligently through the English curriculum and so far, we have been pretty impressed with it.  It is a thorough program that includes a very intuitive progression.  He studies verbal, conversational style English as you might expect, but also reading, writing, grammar...  I can already tell that his understanding is improving even faster than his ability to speak the language.

This week brought a special opportunity.  On Friday evening, we took the family to Charleston Southern University and attended a special concert of "The President's Own" United States Marine Corp. Band under the direction of Colonel Michael J. Colburn. The music was amazing and I dare say there weren't more than 2 or 3 empty seats in the entire auditorium.

As always, they did a great military tribute and asked all service men and women, along with anyone who has or had family who serves(d) to stand when the anthem for that branch was played.  We stood as a family to honor Tom's service to the Army in Vietnam where he flew helicopters for three years.  I actually stood almost the whole time in honor of my Father's service in the Navy and my brother who currently serves in the Air Force.

Here is our son, only a citizen for a little over a month now, after the concert with his Dad  in front of the American Flag.

Thanks to a Marshall Forrester for arranging this special picture for us.  Colonel Colburn was kind enough to meet Colin back stage and pose for a picture with him.  Pretty cool for his Mom!

Sorry that the posts have been so scarce lately.  I am trying to do better.....