27 August 2012

A Quote for Beginnings

"Some of those apples will fall to the ground and rot. But God uses rotten apples - to fertilize the ground, to start more apple trees after little animals plant them, and just to make the air smell sticky sweet. You cannot know the depth of God's plan for your fruit. So throw it out there on the ground when you have no plan for its future. Waste it. [...] Be bountiful with your fruit and free with it. The only thing you can know for certain is that God will use it."
 - Rachel Jankovic, Loving the Little Years

Just a thought as our branches begin to bud.

26 August 2012

Etsy Giveaway Winner!

Okay, somehow I've forgotten how to do a screen shot (srsly Michelle? Shape up.), but the Random.org-generated random comment was #2!

Congratulations, Emily! I'll facebook message you to find out what pair you want. Yay!

I swear I'm going to get the other things I've made up; it's just so hard to find time (and space and a model) to take pictures.

Thanks to everyone who posted!

25 August 2012

Dear Students

It's that time of year again, and I just wanted to have a little chat. Well, what I mean is, we need to talk.

I love you. For serious, I do. We live here just to reach out to and interact with you. I enjoy getting to be around you and am really excited for this school year.

But, when you get on the road, please stop trying to kill me and my child. I know you don't know where you're going, and I totally remember believing subconsciously that I was invincible and could never die as a result of my own recklessness. I get it. But still, I have to tote my child around with me, and trust me, you will not like me when I'm angry. And if you hit me because you're crossing three lanes of traffic in the middle of an intersection, or decide to go straight even though you're in a turn lane, or just aren't paying attention to those pesky traffic lights bc lol ur txting, well, I will get angry. I will call your parents. I will tell them what you were doing and that you don't have a shirt or shoes on right now (but that you are wearing your swim trunks).

So please, for the love of your fellow College Stationites, and your poor parents, just STOP IT.

Love and huncalfroyo,

[these scenarios are all what I've seen in the past week; thank God we haven't had a crash yet! Praying we'll stay safe during these particularly rowdy times.]

24 August 2012

Fundraising Friday

Hey all! There are only 2 things I want to mention today. Oh never mind, 3 things.

Thing #1: If you happen to go to Fellowship Church, there are Oreo cookie balls in the fridge you can buy to support our adoption. They are super-duper-paratrooper good.

Thing #2: I finished another grant application! Everyone pat me on the back, because I definitely spent a lot of time wishing I was doing something else. Luckily, I made copies of the things we'll need for future grants (and will be able to reuse the letters of reference we're getting), so they should be less painful the next go-around.

Thing #3: Since we should hopefully have our USCIS approval soon, we'll be closing our His Kids, Too! grant to pay for our last fee until we match with our child. So, if you would still like to give and have it be tax-deductible, your window will close in a couple of weeks and not reopen for several months.

22 August 2012

This is not the post I'd want it to be

I'd really like to post on how excited I am that we're close to getting on the waiting list at the baby's home, and how ready I am to put my head down and start applying for grants and fundraising my socks off (anybody want to buy a pair of used socks? No?). But, although I am excited to get a number in my head (are we 15? 30? telllll meeeeeeeee), I am not at all excited to start really applying to grants.

It's not that I don't think it's worth it; it totally is. And it's not like I'm not grateful that there are funds out there dedicated to making orphans not be orphans anymore; I totally am. But this whole adoption process is invasive. Getting pregnant and having a baby requires no one to look at your finances - no one checks your last two years' tax returns before giving the go ahead to "try." No one needs to hear your testimony or to get references (6! no kidding!) before you go into labor. And it's just hard. It's hard to give the control of so much to people who have never met you. They're looking at pieces of paper in order to decide whether fundraising is going to go well or be amazingly difficult.

And it's just a bitter pill to swallow, to give to others the control over your family that you normally exercise. And it's really scary; I know some people don't understand how we live on what we do. It's totally fine that they don't - I really don't care usually - but they're using numbers to decide our future. It's a hard thing!

But it's times like this, when I sit down at the computer to copy/paste from previous answers another set of responses to faith-related questions, or when I do another "cash flow worksheet," that I'm reminded that the Holy Spirit is powerful. He moves in our hearts, and He can move the hearts of those looking at our papers. He can whisper in their hearts and move them to grant us funds. He is much more powerful than any words I write. He is much more in control than I am, and it's good in the hardest, most pride-crushing way. I like my pride, God! Just let me keep this little thing, this "We can make it on our own" kind of pride! PLEASE!!!!

*sigh* It's good. I do want to be more like Jesus. I mean, I want to want to be more like Jesus, you know? And even though I keep wanting to randomly cry about how not-in-control I am over things that are very, very important to me, I know that God is doing a work, and God makes beautiful things.

21 August 2012

Biometrics... Check!

Sooooo I told you about the part in your I-600A where you get fingerprinted. They call it biometrics which is way, WAY more fancy than it should be called. Even though I'd previously heard it referred to as being fingerprinted, I was still hoping for a body scan or voice recognition or something worthy of a name like biometrics.

Come on, say it out loud. You know you want to. It's like a secret agent word!

But no, it was fingerprints, exactly like the ones I did at CSPD when I was starting the staff program at GCM. I have now been fingerprinted FOUR times. Once in order to do something with CSISD (I can't remember if it was subbing or being a field trip supervisor or for my certification or what). Once for the GCM staff employee paperwork. Once for our FBI background check. And (hopefully for the very last time) now for our I-600A. Dumb! Or at least a waste of time and resources; it's not like my fingerprints are changing.

Anyway, all that complaining aside, I have a story for you... Ags and not-Ags...
We got our appointment in the mail on Friday. There is no number for the center you're assigned, so you can't call and ask if there's a good time to come in. Moreover, this is the beginning of the school year, so it's a ca-razy time to be scooting on down to Houston and back (oh, did I mention?). Especially for Stephen, since he's the Campus Director and is currently fielding more calls from people in these two weeks than I do in a year (praise the Lord!). So I cook up a plan that we'll leave at 7am, get there at 8:30 (barring traffic in Houston, hah.) and hopefully they'll fingerprint us.

We show up at 8:50 (of course there was some traffic, but it wasn't so very bad), and the lady at the front says she cannot see us now and to come back to try to be seen at 11. This is quite a conundrum for us, as we have a dear friend watching our dear toddler. And this dear friend (hi, Jana!) has never put our toddler down for a nap. And sometimes he goes down like a mogwai and sometimes like a gremlin. And I prefer not to subject my friends to gremlins.

So we sit there weighing the pros and cons of staying or not staying and decide to stay. And praise the Lord for that! I wish the lady would've let us just wait there because, when we came back at 10:50, we waited for maybe three minutes. Not that I minded going to Shipley's... So seriously, after all that weighing and being frustrated, we walked out the door at 11:01. Hurray!

Anyway, just my two cents on the biometrics part of your I-600A... maybe it's better to come a little later in the day if you aren't going to wait for your appointment.

17 August 2012

Fundraising Friday

I didn't share last week because we were out planning for the ministry year. It's kind of a strange time for us, because we've got all these goals and plans and hopes laid out, but we aren't quite able to do anything about them yet. It's kind of nice, since E's been a bit of a drama prince in readjusting to normal life.

That being said, there are exciting things to report!

Here's our current tally:
Amount already invested into adoption: $3575
Next fee due: $3000 (due in 3-12 weeks, depending on USCIS)
Amount in adoption acct: $750
Amount in adoption grant acct: $1840 (+$40)
Amount raised this week from Etsy: $10 (goodbye, cute pair of earrings! I can't wait to see you on the lobes of a friend!)
Amount given in cash gifts: $510!
Amount needed for next fee: $0!!!
Est amount needed total: ~$15,000

We have enough to pay our next fee! We won't need any more $ until we accept the referral of our child! SO CRAZY! Of course, at that moment we'll need $5500, and the rest of the $ just weeks after that, but still! No more fees until we've seen our child's face! Best. The very best.

That $40 in our grant account is actually from May, but we weren't updated on its appearance until last week... ??? But thank you, person who donated $60! I only put $40 because I took out the amount that is taken from the gifts to pay Paypal/credit card companies. A large gift was given via Paypal as well, so that's why there's such a difference. We'll be closing that grant when we get our I-171H, so if you want to give that way, there's only weeks left to do so! ;-)

We had a friend give us $500 towards our adoption; so generous and helpful! The grant fundraising is really great to help people give and have it be tax deductible, but with grants, you have to submit receipts for things you've already paid to get them to reimburse them (like plane tickets), so having cash is really helpful (since we don't often have $4000 laying around).

We also had a couple give us a piggy bank intended to help us raise funds (which came with $ too!), and that was sweet and so heart-warming for me. Just like in GCM support-raising, large donations help so much, but it's the heart of people that blesses us the most.

Grants applied for: 0
Grants left to apply for: 6
Acceptance/Denial: none

I know I should have done more this week with our grants! Our financial situation is pretty tight right now, so I'm holding off applying until we look like we're not flat broke. I know we will be able to afford to care for baby A, but people who don't know us may not think so! Our plan is to sell one of our vehicles. Now, we're going to sell our second vehicle and then buy a reliable car with the combined money, but it'll be nice to look like we have savings, even though we won't be building up actual savings for at least one more month. Is that dishonest?

I'm not sure I care. We're not in debt; we work our numbers to make sure our kid is taken care of; we are blessed with an amazing community around us who love us and support us so we don't feel alone during lean times. They even pooled some money so Stephen and I can get glasses that we desperately need. My life is full, even if our savings account is empty! Know what I mean?

16 August 2012

Night Waking - an Update

Ezra spent his first night away from both of us last week; in fact, he spent three full days without seeing either of us. This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but the longest he had previously spent without either of us present was about 8 hours. So this was a leap for the poor little Tookie.

Exacerbating the problem was that Ezra caught some virus or other before we were to leave, effectively fouling up some well-laid plans. Previous to "the Sickness," he was down to only nursing when he woke up in the morning (and that was mostly so we could stay in bed longer). When he got sick, he wanted more comfort, and I gave it to him, willing my milk to give him good antibodies or T-cells or whatever it is he would need to feel better.

He actually did very well; he didn't have any symptoms other than an unnervingly high fever (103 when his medicine was wearing off). Apparently he did a lot of laying on my mom and watching Backyardigans. I don't care; I was able to be an adult doing adult things for 3 days - so crazy! I do wish I could have a 48-hour period without Ezra where I'm not also working 10 hours/day, but it was still so much easier than it would have been with E present.

Anyway, I got E on Saturday, and Stephen came back (and brought Django the dog home) on Sunday, so we're finally getting back into our routine. I was supposed to come back with S on Sunday, but by Saturday afternoon, E was fed up with my mom (she thinks E thought she was holding on him with breastfeeding! Totally possible for my boy), and my dad's novelty was fast wearing off. It was a rough day or two after we were reunited; E wouldn't stop begging to nurse and would pitch fits anytime I said no (which was somewhat often bc he was asking like every hour and a half) or whenever I ended a nursing time (45 minutes is long enough!). I know he was just making up for lost closeness in his very favorite way, but we're having to get him used to how it was before we went away.

It's funny; I think E knew how much I was looking forward to sleeping through the night at our staff "retreat" (yearly planning time) and decided to start sleeping through the night himself like 10 days before we left. Well, he doesn't wake up until the morning I'd say 4 or 5 nights a week, which is still AMAZING to me!

The only difficulty is that he doesn't quite make it all the way to 6:30 - he's been waking up at 5, too tired to get up, but too awake to go back to sleep. He's too squiggly to stay in our bed (Stephen saves up his grace-giving for later in the day) but won't let me leave him in his crib... So it's been a little frustrating. I'm hoping he'll push that later and later until it's no longer an issue. He'll finally go back to sleep for a while, but it's just so sad to almost get a full night's sleep, but not quite. Soon and very soon, I'm sure.

Anyway, I know I've done a lot of complaining about my Mr. TooBusyToStayAsleep on here; I wanted to share some encouraging bits about it. I don't know why exactly it happened now (probably a mixture of cutting down on his ability to nurse; a new way of putting him down; and some magic formula of age, finally eating more food, and... God's grace?), but I'm glad we're getting closer to normal little boy sleep and farther from big baby sleep. :)

14 August 2012

Sorry for the drama... and Nutrition

Sorry; I can be kind of an emotional downer sometimes. It's not all weeping chez Muenich, I promise.

Sometimes, I'm researching instead of crying. ;)

So, for those of you considering international adoption, or even for fostering, the Spoon Foundation is a great resource for understanding the impact of malnutrition, nutrient deficiencies, and the like. It's also a great resource for ideas to help your kids to get back on track nutritionally.

I'm not gonna lie, I'm a big believer in brain chemistry and behavior. I'm also a big believer in helping your kids get their biochemistry balanced and on track. I suppose what makes me nervous is my bio kid already being a picky eater. Or I'd say E isn't a picky eater per se; it just takes him a long time to try new foods - he needs to see things and hold them (and give them to Django) a few times before he'll put it in his mouth. It sure helps when something's on my plate and I'm eating it, but it's no guarantee that he still will. So I really hope I can get Ezra to be more open-minded about food, since I'll need baby A to eat nutrient dense (and sometimes very un-candy-like) foods for his/her own health and development.

My plan is to start serving these kinds of foods now in the hopes that, by the time we have baby A, E will be enthusiastic about helping his little sibling eat well. Fingers crossed!

06 August 2012


Sometimes I just need a little space to grieve this lost mother-time. Our baby A has almost certainly been born by now. I should be more careful about looking at pictures of little African faces, because I can get kind of overwhelmed with thoughts.

Is he okay right now? It's 8 hours ahead in Uganda, so he's almost assuredly asleep. When he wakes up, will he see his birth mother, or anyone whose face comforts him? Will someone be there to care for him? Is he hungry or frightened? Is he okay?

Is my child, my little baby, okay?

You moms (and anyone with a knack for empathy) know how distressing that thought is. You also know that mother-love doesn't know time zones or continents or legalities or even time. Yes, technically I don't know if our child is a he or she (I tend to refer to baby A as a boy because that's what is familiar to me) or when s/he will become a Muenich. But my children are my children. I loved Ezra long before he was conceived; I love baby A long before we know who baby A is. But Ezra was with me from the time he was created. I've never had to wonder if he was safe or starving or being hurt. When he's sick, I care for him. When he's scared, I comfort him. When he's hungry, I feed him.

Perhaps I'm mostly grieving the loss of control of care. I can't protect my child, and I don't know how to deal with it emotionally. I suppose I'll have my cry and place baby A at the Lord's feet. Which, apparently, is a lot harder to do when you can't also be doing all the protecting yourself... merrr. Good to know you've been secretly relying on yourself. Whoops, sorry God!

04 August 2012

Fundraising Fri... I mean Saturday...

So! As we close out our document phase of our adoption (for the most part), now is time to really ramp up the fundraising phase. So, in an effort to keep people abreast of our current tally (and to keep me going on less-than-enjoyable parts), I want to start doing a Fundraising Friday post. Hopefully I'll have something to share every week. As in, get it in gear, Muenich.

Here's our current tally:
Amount already invested into adoption: $3575
Next fee due: $3000 (due in 3-12 weeks, depending on USCIS)
Amount in adoption acct: ~$750 (or will be once USCIS deposits our I-600A check)
Amount in adoption grant acct: $1800
Amount raised this week from Etsy: $60
Amount needed for next fee: ~$400
Est amount needed total: ~$15,500

So I opened my Etsy shop, and so far I've made $60 from the sale of jewelry! One was a custom order - if you have beads and want something made from them, I can do it! Stephen's great aunt passed away, and I inherited some amazing, vintage beads that I hope to make into jewelry and put up, as well as some vintage pins and cuff-links. I also have a few necklaces I really need to take pictures of to put up.

Grants applied for: 1
Grants left to apply for: 6
Acceptance/Denial: none

Hopefully once we get back from Staff Retreat this next week I'll be able to apply for one a week. They require a TON of supporting paperwork, and each one has different questions and worksheets and the like, so it's not like filling out a form and sending it in! I understand that they want to be faithful with making sure the funds go to families who need it and will use it, but it's hard to get everything they need and to be judged on paperwork alone by someone you've never met. Thus is life; baby A is worth the trouble!