Monday, December 29, 2008

Shopping for twins

I took Emily and Anna out today to exchange a couple of things for different sizes and also to spend their gift cards. While we were out, guess what we discovered? Shopping for twins is fun. Really fun! I spent all of my own gift card money plus some extra on clothes for the twins. I can see that I'm going to have to learn to restrain myself. Although, we are building a wardrobe from scratch. We got jackets, undies, jammies and socks as well as shirts, pants and dresses.

Now all we need is a court date.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas day! We did... My girls are sporting the traditional "wear your pajamas all day long" look favored by the female members of the family. I wore mine all day too, but as I am the one taking the photos, you don't get to see me in them. The males don't participate in this tradition, alas, even when provided with comfy Christmas jammies.

That is not wine in Anna's glass. Just so we're clear on that.

We spent Christmas eve going to Mass followed by a get together in Omaha with my cousins. We greatly missed my Aunt Pat this year; she passed away in August.

Wishing you Christ's peace and joy throughout the remainder of the year and always.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside...

Here is a picture of my back yard. (I had to take it through the window screen, hence the grid.) I think it looks like some sort of tundra, especially when the snow blows across the frozen lake. Our high temps the last couple of days have been in the single digits... brrrrrrr.

Now, here is a picture of how Harry our cat deals with being cold. Apparently he has totally forgotten the wild ride he took in the dryer when he was a kitten. I didn't see him then and turned the darn thing on. Good thing I heard the thunking.

And finally, here is a picture of Anna when she was home with a migraine a few days ago. Lots of companionship and warm bodies. Cold weather is good for snuggling with some loved ones.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's been six months!

I noticed today that our adoption ticker turned to six months. When I first made the ticker, I wasn't sure what I wanted to use as a starting date for our adoption process; I ended up using the date our application was accepted by Carolina Hope. We actually made the decision to adopt two or three weeks earlier, while we were on a Disney cruise of western Mexico... good times. :) Anyway, it's both hard to believe that six months have gone by AND hard to believe that only six months have gone by!

How long will we wait before we bring our twins home?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good-bye to coaching

It was an eventful last three days on the Spears gymnastics front. Saturday was our state meet. We managed to get fourth place, despite missing two of our best gymnasts from earlier in the season. It was a frustrating meet because it was in two sessions, and we only had one girl in session two. And as happens in gymnastics sometimes, the scores escalated a lot in the second session. I think we were really the third best team at state, but that second session hurt us a lot. Anyway, we ended our team season with two first place finishes, two seconds and a fourth. Here we are at the state meet: we definitely get the first place award for cutest team.

In other news, yesterday was my last day coaching. I am quitting to be able to spend as much time as possible with our twins when they get home. Many tears were shed by me, my girls and some of my favorite parents. The girls and parents gave me a little farewell party and I got some very nice cards and presents and these beautiful flowers. Daisies are my favorite! Thank you so much to all of you. I will miss all of the girls so much, as well as my friends on the staff. But I will still be hanging around the gym in my parent capacity, and I'm hoping to test to qualify as a judge for next year.
Good-bye, Premier Gymnastics... I will miss you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Update on our twins!

First, I got a phone call from a very nice Ethiopian lady on one of the Yahoo boards who helped me with the girls' names. Selam is easy to say, pretty much just the way it looks. Fikir is hard for us English speaking Americans. It's almost like one syllable and a little guttaral. We are going to keep the Ethiopian names for their middle names, so the twins will be Candace Selam and Sarah Fikir. Candace is a biblical name for the queen of Ethiopia and Selam means "peace". Sarah is a Hebrew name that is also sometimes used in Ethiopia and means "princess", while Fikir means "love".

Secondly, we found out today that the twins are currently living in an orphanage compound in the city of Nazret in Ethiopia. This city is also known as Adama. It is a large city with a university and is located at a major crossroads of Ethiopia about 62 miles southeast of Addis Ababa. It is the capital of the Oromia region of Ethiopia.

Grace from Hope Adoptions said that the girls will be moved to Addis soon, and then we will be able to send them photos. She also said that they need to pass through a lower court in Nazret and then the case can be filed in Addis. She expected this to all happen fairly soon. After the case is filed in Addis, we should find out when our court date to approve the adoption will be. As far as the twins' family, she said she thought they had a living grandmother, but she isn't positive and will have to double check. I expect we will find out more about that later.

I just get so excited over every little new detail!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Second place again!

My level 4 team at Premier Gymnastics had their last regular meet of the season on Sunday. We got second place with a respectable 109+ score. Alas, we were way outgunned by the first place team, Solid Rock Gymnastics of Lincoln. Next week is our state meet; my last meet for the foreseeable future! Tears! :(

Shout outs to Jessica H. for finally hitting that beautiful beam routine in a meet for a 9.45, our individual high score of the meet; Jaime C., the most improved all-around gymnast in level 4 and to everyone on bars... most improved event!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Christmas tag

My friend Kristen tagged me in her blog. It's a Christmas tag! Here are the questions and my answers:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hmmmm.... hot chocolate

2.Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa is too tired and lazy to wrap by the time he gets to our house. Wrapped presents from the family are under the tree, Santa leaves his presents in front of the fireplace.

3. Colored lights on house/tree or white?
Colored lights inside, white lights outside

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

5. When do you put your decorations up?
The weekend of Thanksgiving

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
homemade noodles

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?
Going to see Santa at L.S. Ayres in downtown Indianapolis... they had a little train that the kids rode through a winter wonderland before lining up to see Santa. Very "A Christmas Story"-ish.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I think I was about 8 years old. It was in the summer, and other than that, I don't remember the details much. I think I just asked my mom.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We used to open our present from my maternal grandma on Christmas Eve

11. Snow. Love it or dread it?
My distaste for snow and all things winter can't be expressed by mere words. Having lived in California for a few years, I can honestly say that the whole four seasons thing is highly overrated.

12. Can you ice skate?
Yes. I like to ice skate. Our neighborhood has a skating pond to discourage us from skating on the lake. Last year the whole family got ice skates for Christmas.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
My favorite gift is getting matched with our new twin daughters a couple of days ago. And maybe the stuffed Lassie dog I got when I was a kid in exchange for not sucking my thumb.

14. What is the most important thing about the holidays to you?
Just being with my family

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
My favorite is peppernut cookies, just because it's a family tradition from my mom's side of the family.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I don't really have a favorite

17. What tops your Christmas tree?
Pierced brass star. Pretty, but needs polishing

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving... it's a mom thing

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
"O Little Town of Bethlehem" And all the Veggie Tales Christmas songs.

20. Candy Canes. Yum or Yuck?

21. What do you want for Christmas?

22. Do you attend an annual Christmas party?
Yes, more than one. Mostly work related.

23. Do you dress up for Christmas Eve or wear PJ's?
I usually wear a nice holiday outfit to church on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day, I wear my pajamas all day long. We very rarely go anywhere on Christmas Day, it is just my immediate family.

24. Do you own a Santa hat?

25. Who do you normally spend Christmas with?
For the past ten years, we have gone to my aunt's after church on Christmas Eve and spend Christmas day at home. My aunt died recently, so I'm not sure what we'll be doing.

I'm not going to tag anyone with this, but if you're reading and you want to share a Christmas memory or tradition, that would be lovely. :) I would love to read them in my comments.

Prayers for Evan

We have some very dear friends who now live in Michigan. Seven years ago, the wife/mother of this family was killed in a car accident, leaving behind two young children and her devastated husband. She was a wonderful friend to me. This tragedy brought our families very close together. We just found out that Evan, who will be 17 years old this month, has a very aggressive form of melanoma. He has had surgery at the Mayo Clinic and is at home now. We love Evan as though he was a member of our family. Please pray for Evan that he will have a complete recovery. And also for his dad, our dear friend Bill, and Evan's beautiful sister Abbey that they will be strong and that together as a family they will make it through this crisis.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Matched with twins!

I am so thrilled to share that we have officially been matched with twin girls! We found out about them yesterday, and the match was made official today. They are 4 and a half years old, 36 inches tall and 27 pounds each. Of course they are beautiful. :) We don't know much about them yet except for their health histories. I have been lobbying for a sibling group for a few weeks, and Tom wasn't sure. He told me yesterday that he had decided that if a sibling group somehow dropped into our laps, that it would be a sign from God that we should adopt them. Well, yesterday these girls dropped into our laps via an agency email about "waiting children". I couldn't believe it when I saw their description... I emailed for more information before I even told Tom what I was doing! I was in love the second I saw their photos, and I think it took Tom about that long too.

Fun facts: the date on the medical report for the girls is the exact date our dossier arrived in Ethiopia. Also, their listed birthday is my mom's birthday. How cool is that?

Kenneth, Emily and Anna are very excited as well. Emily and Anna were at school when I got the news, so I woke Kenneth up to show him the pictures. He didn't even mind. He texted Emily and I drove over to Anna's school to show her the photo. Tom is in San Diego today, so I've been emailing and forwarding emails to him all day long.

I'm exhausted because I was too excited to sleep last night. I am so thankful for the miracle of these girls... we have only been waiting for a referral for two weeks. God is great; God is good.

So happy. :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Deck the halls

Fa la la la la... la la la la.

We usually decorate our house for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. Last year we moved into our new house right after Thanksgiving, and the only decor we put up was the Christmas tree. (We didn't even know where half of the things were packed!) This year I am putting up all of our stuff. So here is our family room ready for the holidays, complete with two dogs and one half of a dog. They always manage to sneak into every photo.
Next up, the outside decorations. I'm waiting for a relatively warm and windless day. That could be a while here in windy Nebraska.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving to all... we have so much in our family to be truly thankful for! We hope that all of our friends and family have a beautiful day appreciating all the many blessings God has given them as well.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Changes are hard

Nothing much is going on today. I had an emotional week. I turned in my resignation at the gym. My last day will be December 15. Most of the staff knew I was planning to leave due to the upcoming adoption, and also to free up some time to get Anna to and from her after school activities. It was just a matter of making a decision as to "when". I thought after the state meet would be a good time... but I am so sad! And I made little girls cry! I know it will be for the best in the long run, but changes are always hard for me. It is a great job and a wonderful part of my life. I will miss all of my little girls so much. So sad... :(

Monday, November 17, 2008

Miscellaneous News

In other, less exciting news, we got second place at our meet this weekend. Sigh. I had dreams of grandeur there for a while, imagining a glorious undefeated season to cap off this portion of my illustrious coaching career. Unfortunately, the balance beam had other plans for us. Still, I'm proud of my girls as always. And as I was reminded by Isabel, all of the girls got a trophy, and trophies are really fun.

Emily got the one extra point she needed on her ACT to boost her scholarship money up to $7,000 per year when she starts at Iowa State next year. Way to go Emily!

Anna and I had mother-daughter migraines today, but we are both feeling better now.

No major updates for Kenneth. Tom is in California.

No animals are sick. No cars are in need of repair. All is peaceful at the Spears household.


That means "Dossier to Ethiopia" and what that means is that we are now officially waiting for a referral for our new little daughter. This is "official" waiting, as opposed to the unofficial waiting we were doing before. :)

Oh, happy day! Praying for a relatively short wait...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We're 2 and 0!

My gymnastics team, Premier Gymnastics Level 4, had their second meet of the season today. We got first place again with a fabulous score of 113.05, ahead of the second place team by .065. All of the girls were great today, but I would like to recognize and congratulate my top scoring girls in each event: Vault, Sarah L. 9.75 (highest individual score of the meet!); Bars, Brooke S. 9.3; Beam, Alexis H. and Brooke S. 9.5; and Floor, Madeline W. 9.55.

I'm very proud of the entire team and I'm looking forward to our next meet!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lady bug, lady bug fly away home

My house is inundated with these little lady bugs. More accurately, I believe they are called Asian beetles. They were purportedly imported into the United States some years ago to control pests in soy bean fields. The local wisdom is that the soy bean harvest drives them out of the bean fields and into the houses of poor unsuspecting homeowners. Now they are pests in Midwestern houses. We have hundreds of them in our house. Every day I clean up their little bug carcasses, and the next day there are a zillion more. This photo is of one of the little beauties posing in a bowl of gourds on my kitchen counter. Sure, they're pretty, but they also bite! May they all die soon. RIP.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's in DC!

Our dossier was sent to the courier in Washington, DC yesterday for authentication at the State Department. We are getting closer...

Just because they're cute

I'm putting these pictures of my pets up because they were victims of the accidental deletion. They're so darn cute and lovable that they deserve a spot on my blog. My doggies are Bridget, Bobby and Bruno. They are shown here cuddling in their dog cabinet, which is a crate I had built into our kitchen cabinets.

In the second picture, Bridget is lazing around with our two cats, Lucy (the black one) and Harry.

Here we are again!

Okay, so like an idiot, I somehow managed to delete an entire category of posts from my blog... all of the ones marked "family". Sorry family. :( So I'm going to repost some of the stuff.

We are the Spears family...Tom, Paula and our three teenage children Kenneth, Emily and Anna. We live in a rural area of Nebraska, near Omaha. We just moved here about 10 months ago after living in the suburbs of west Omaha for 10 years. We love our new house on the lake and all it's wildlife, but it is quite inconvenient in many ways and has been a big adjustment.

Some of the family interests are church, pets, marathon running, taekwondo, gymnastics, diving, reading, video games, cheerleading, shopping, jet-skiing and fishing. We don't all enjoy each of these activities equally. :)

I am a part-time gymnastics coach and a full-time mom. I'm thinking I should add some additional computer training into my list of interests so that I don't delete anything else.

Sigh. What an idiot.

Ack! I deleted a bunch of posts!

I just accidentally deleted about half of my posts. Major tears! If anyone knows how to get them back, please tell me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A bad day for Emily

My poor baby. As you may know, we are a gymnastics family. I am a coach, and both of my daughters are or have been gymnasts. (Tom and Kenneth get quite tired of gymnastics conversations.) Anna quit in February after sustaining several broken bones in her hand/arm: she's dislocated an elbow (required a cast), broken a finger and hand bone (required a cast), broken her thumb (required a cast) and the final straw was a stress fracture in her wrist just one week after getting a cast removed. So she moved on to high school cheerleading and diving and is very happy.

Emily, however, is sticking it out for one last year of competition before going to college next fall. Today was a "show day" at Premier; a deadline day for the optional gymnasts to demonstrate certain skills for the upcoming meet season. Alas, while warming up her front tumbling pass, Emily managed to roll both ankles. After a couple of hours in the ER, the verdict is a nasty sprain of her right ankle; at least there is nothing broken and no cast required. But my girl is on crutches for the week and who knows how long it will take to get the ankle back to full strength? She now has two bad ankles... Her first meet is New Year's weekend and includes a much anticipated New Year's Eve trip to Times Square in NYC. So please say a quick prayer that Emily will heal well and quickly. She's worked so hard for almost six years!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Way to go, Premier Gymnastics Level 4's!

This is just a shout out to my great level 4 team at Premier Gymnastics... you girls rock the gym! We had our first meet of the 2008 season today and got first place with a team score of 110.0! That's a great way to start off our season. Congratulations Jessica, Madeline, Isabel, Alexis, Brooke, Sarah, Jaime, Emma, Kassidy, Sammi, Regan, Lauren, Emily, Caroline and Rylee!

I am so proud of all of you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The I 171 H is here!

Have you ever seen the movie "The Jerk"? I love that part where Steve Martin runs from the mailbox screaming "The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here! I'm SOMEBODY!"

That's sort of how I felt today... the I-171 H is here! The I-171 H is here! We're on our way to becoming parents again!

For those of you not in the loop on adoption documentation, this is THE golden ticket. We are now approved by the U.S. government to bring a foreign born orphan into the United States as our adopted child. This is the last piece of paper we needed to complete our dossier to send to Ethiopia.

We are all on cloud nine here at the Spears household. It's so nice to have something happen! Now on to more waiting...

And by the way, we recently did get the new Ashland, Nebraska phone book with our new listing... I'm SOMEBODY!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Seven random/weird facts about me:

  1. I have a 3rd degree black belt in taekwondo.

  2. All animals love me.

  3. My feet are so ticklish, I can't even stand to touch them myself.

  4. I can cross one eye... either one.

  5. I once got two traffic tickets in one day.

  6. It took me a whole year to switch from regular Coke to Diet.

  7. I like to annoy my family by talking like a pirate.

I was tagged by Steffany, her blog is at

I really don't have seven bloggers to tag, but here is one and if I come up with more, I'll post about it.

Kristen (because I've known you FOREVER)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pie In The Face

Let me begin by saying I have nothing adoption oriented to talk about today.

So, on to other news. Yesterday was the annual pep rally at Premier Gymnastics, where I coach the level 3 and level 4 teams. After some skits and cheers by each of the teams, we have the highlight of the evening for the kids which is the "pie the coach raffle", a fundraiser for the booster club. I guess getting pied in the face may have its charms, but they have been lost on me for a couple of years. Of course, I'm always ready to see others get a pie in the face! Here, for example, are a couple of photos of beloved oldest daughter Emily taking a hit from one of her teammates. As a part- time coach (on her day off from practice), she is fair game in the high stakes of pie the coach. Note the enthusiasm with which Emily's teammate smears the pie all over her face and head. These were yummy pies, too. Emily's featured jello, whipped cream and green peppers.

I was feeling pretty good at the end of the evening. There are usually eight pies, and all of the raffle pies were done. I was pie-free for the first time in four years. The last pie is coaches choice. Usually, we pie the senior gymnasts if we have one... Emily. However, I was tricked! The coaches opted to pie the senior gymnast's mother this year, since the gymnast already got hers. My pie was red jello, whipped cream and broccoli. I didn't know about the broccoli until I found some in my shower after washing my hair

Well, it's probably my last pie in the face. And gosh, that actually makes me a little sad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why adopt? Why Ethiopia?

I just love kids. Love, love, love kids! I grew up in a family of five children, and my own family of three children always seemed, well, small. Tom has just one brother, so he did not agree with me on this issue. As my children grew older, I really have yearned for another child. However, Tom was firm that we were done with babies. I was sad...but then one day we were at a benefit dinner for a local children's welfare agency, and when I sighed mournfully about needing another child I sensed that Tom wasn't against a child per se, it was a baby he didn't want to deal with. Once this light bulb went on, there was no stopping me!

I began to research foster/adoption and decided it wasn't for us. International adoption seemed like a good way for us to go as "older" parents. As I looked at various programs, I was drawn to Ethiopia. The people there have a proud and rich history. There is so much poverty and disease that millions of children are left as orphans despite the efforts of their countrymen who want so much to care for them... there are so many; it is a daunting task. The government has put into place a relatively speedy and efficient adoption process. Perfect for us 40-somethings who don't want to be 50-somethings by the time our child is placed with us. Tom and I both have an affection for Africa and I felt it was in this place that God wanted us to find our next child.

I began to request information from various agencies and I prayed a lot that God would help me know what to do, and that Tom would be receptive. I decided that I would broach the subject during our summer vacation cruise in Mexico. I was pleasantly surprised that Tom was immediately enthusiastic! Of course, this could have been because I chose to bring the subject up immediately after a martini tasting session... But no, he told me that he had actually been thinking about adoption some too. Imagine that! I see the hand of God at work.

We chose our agency, Carolina Hope, and began filling out paperwork as soon as we got home. After some discussion, we agreed that the best fit for our family would be a girl in the 2-4 year age range. Our children were very excited to hear that we would be adopting a little sister. Anna was even quick to reassure us that she wouldn't mind sharing her brand new room! (Which is good, because that was our plan!) Emily and Kenneth were happy too.

We know that there will be trials ahead as what is called in the adoption lingo "a conspicuous family". Meaning a transracial one, basically. And there is a large age gap between our current baby who is 14 years old and the preschooler we hope to bring home soon. But everyone is so eager to embrace the challenges and shower our new daughter/sister with love.

Now, the paperwork is done and we just sit and wait. Wait for USCIS approval, wait for the dossier to be authenticated, wait for an eventual referral. But it's a delicious wait; kind of like we are waiting for the best Christmas present ever...only more so. :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

My first ever blog post!

I have decided to make a blog about our Ethiopian adoption primarily as something to do to keep my mind occupied while we are "waiting". Not that there isn't plenty of other stuff I could do, like unpack some of the boxes we still have sitting around from our move nine months age... Anyway, here is the first post! And I did it all by myself!