USCIS Here We Come...

I just dropped off our packet of documents to the post office. Express, overnight US Mail to the USCIS. The USCIS is the US Citizenship & Immigration Services. We needed to submit Form I600A along with lots of other documents. The next step will be for us to get fingerprinted, then after we clear the FBI Background check, the USCIS processes our application and approves it, they'll send us our "golden ticket" which we need in order to apply for adoption to the Ethiopian Embassy. This process is currently taking about 3 months. In the meantime, we'll be getting lots more supporting documentation together for our dossier (the packet we send to Ethiopia) so that when the "golden ticket" arrives from the US Government we'll be ready to send it all on and keep the process moving. The Dossier consists of 18 notarized documents so we still have some work to do! We're excited to be moving along and have the home study and USCIS documents checked off our list.



All Summer we've been promising Ella a sleepover with a few of her friends from school. Since her birthday was only a week away, we decided to turn it into a birthday/slumber party. The girls arrived at 4:00 on Friday. We headed to the marina for a pizza dinner, went tubing and swimming in the lake, swam in the pool and then came home to get jammies on. We had birthday cake and ice cream and opened presents. Then the girls played for awhile and set up their sleeping bags in a row. Sleep came slowly for the girls ... and mom and dad too! Around 11:30 we gave the final "warning" and didn't hear anything until 7:00 the next morning. Paul made his famous pancakes & sausage, the girls played awhile longer and then headed home.

We know some families have this many kids of their OWN ... but we're not sure how they do it. 19 hours was plenty for us. Ella had a blast, which was the whole point, but 4 girls giggles, shrieks, silly stories, did I mention SHRIEKS?!?, was enough for this mom for awhile.


Summer Days

August is alive and well at our house. We've been spending as much time as possible outside. I keep reminding the kids these wonderful sunny, warm days need to carry us through some long, cold months this winter.

Noah started football practice on Monday, and is a bit unsure of the whole thing. It's one thing to watch football and cheer on your favorite team, and a whole different thing to strap on a helmet, pads and start hitting. His coach is tough ... kind of drill sergeant like (lots of yelling!)... and so Noah is totally out of his comfort zone. Noah has played soccer since Kindergarten, has gone to numerous soccer camps, and loves the game. Being the sports nut that he is, he has always wanted to try football. We allowed the decision to be his, but warned him that football is different than soccer. He really wanted to give soccer a break this fall and play football. He wont admit it, but I know after 2 football practices under his belt the familiarity of soccer is starting to look pretty good at this point. He's learning some valuable life lessons ... like sticking with things even when they're hard, and respecting adults even when you don't feel like it. I have a feeling once he gets the hang of the game and he'll start liking it more ... at least we hope so!

This past weekend we were blessed by Opa & Oma to be able to take a "Hoekstra family adventure" to Cedar Point. We had a blast riding coasters, sliding down water slides and re-connecting with brothers, sisters, neices & nephews who we don't get to see often enough. We were sad to say good-bye. It's a bad feeling to be so far away from family we love so much.

2 more weeks until school starts. I don't even like thinking about it, so I for sure am not going to WRITE about it! I'm posting some summer pictures to keep the spirit alive.



As some of you may know, I tried my hand at "flipping" a house this summer. I had been looking for just the right house in just the right neighborhood for just the right price and was hoping I would find the perfect match this fall. I know when school starts I'll have some time on my hands, and the thought of buying a run down house, fixing it up and re-selling it has some appeal to me. Some of you think that's crazy, I know, but I also know others of you would love to do the same thing.

Anyway, the perfect house came along, only a little sooner than expected. I made a really low offer on it in June and they accepted! Yikes! The thought of working on a run down house in the middle of a beautiful Michigan summer was less than appealing, but I forged ahead anyhow. About a week after our accepted offer our realtor called with some "strange" news. Someone wanted to make us an offer on the house we were going to buy. "OK", I said, "bring it on". Long story short, it was a good offer, I didn't have to pick up a paint brush, and we could close a month later. As of today, the house is no longer ours and I made a nice little profit for a month's work of "work".

Paul and our realtor say it's "beginner's luck", but I'm not so sure. I'm going to start house hunting again; I may have just found my new career path :)