more y more y more *sigh*

Upon returning from Bogota, we received the ninos’ Certificates of Citizenship from  USCIS–very important documents. Check!  We were informed by more than one source that before we could apply for social security cards (which we need in order to claim the children on our 2008 taxes) we needed to get the kids’ Certificates of Foreign Birth from the Nevada Secretary of State. So we did that, recently in fact. Check! I even had the paperwork overnighted on our FedEx account both ways so that we could have it expedited.

Today, I finally applied for social security cards, which was an adventure. Actually, my number was called in a timely fashion. I smiled at the lady behind the glass window as I plunked the stack of 10 or so stuffed manila envelopes down on the counter. She gave me that look, you know the one. The “oh boy, here we go” look. Don’t worry, I am so used to it by now. I was the employee’s first International Adoption case so things went very slowly, which was totally fine. I told her I didn’t mind being her guinea pig, if she didn’t mind that my two sons were playing with naked Barbie dolls behind me (hey, at least they were trying to put the clothes back on).

The annoyances arose as she asked for help from her supervisor. I won’t bore you with the long of it. Just imagine that person in your office or at church or on the PTA who not only thinks they know everything, but is ‘so sure’ that they try to make you feel badly in the process to validate their own assumptions. Yeah! I just smiled politely (as I ground my teeth inside of my mouth), and asked them to tell me exactly what documents they needed to move the process along.

For those readers moving along in the international adoption process, here are two helpful pieces of info I found out today:

1. Certificates of Foreign Birth are not needed to apply… long as you have:

a.) cert of citizenship

b.) original birth cert w/your last name

c.) adoption decree

d.) child’s passport with immigration visa

Now this is accurate for kids coming in on an IR-3 visa only–not sure about other immigration statuses.

2. If you are applying for more than one child at a time, the SSA will not issue cards sequentially. This means that if you are on a deadline, for example, trying to file a tax return, make sure that you give yourself enough time. Our children’s applications will be filed every two working days, which means that I only received a receipt for my oldest, today. Juan P.’s app will not be put in the system until next Friday at the earliest.

It looks like we might have to file an extension after all. :)

six months, seriously?


How did we spend our anniversary?

Grocery shopping, practicing the alphabet, lunching with daddy, and driving through town with the windows down singing to the tip-tops of our lungs. Just another ordinary day full of messes, tantrums, games, and laughter. And I cannot imagine it any other way, nor would I trade it.

What is the biggest lesson learned these past six months?

That the soul’s capacity to love is larger and more encompassing than I ever imagined. This adoption has helped me see beyond myself in very specific ways. It has acquainted me with the darkest parts of this world. My mind now houses real images that were previously only viewed from an armchair. Images that remind me of exactly what my children have risen from. Images that, although I wish didn’t exist, have increased my ability to love. Images that have increased my capacity for compassion and mercy.

Just as I have seen the cruelties of man hard at work, however, I have also seen the magnificence of the heavens right along side. Our children are living miracles! Each of their ability to love and forgive is incredible. Danny’s gentleness, Ezzy’s sureness, Nikki’s sweetness, and Juan P.’s–well he’s just Juan P.–assures me that tender mercies still abound. There is beauty to be found, and there is joy to be had!!!

Over the past five years, there have been many many days when I have felt as though my beating heart was literally being ripped from my chest. Moments when I could not breath for the feelings of emptiness and loss were so great. Even now, I can picture vividly those tumultuous times, and feel the despair that engulfed me. But those feeling cannot and never will compare to the feelings that my oldest son felt as a toddler when he was expected to beg for drug money on the streets, or when he was bounced from home to home finally ending up in an orphanage with his siblings. My experience will never hold a candle to my youngest son’s experience of being taken at two days old and never having a mother to bond with until now.

Can you imagine?

Can you imagine never knowing from day to day, especially as a young child, if you will be fed or bathed or clothed or safe? Although I have seen it, I still cannot fathom experiencing it. And yet, my children are valiant little spirits. They have keen minds, and they try to do good (except when it comes to toothpaste–don’t ask:). In six short months, I have felt more love for and from them than I ever expected. Even in my best of the best case scenarios I am still blown away by our Colombian Sunshines, and our overall adoption experience. I know not everyone has the same sort of experience, and I know that we have a very very long road ahead. Our home runs far from perfectly! But we trudge along each day…finding joy in the journey.

Six months seems like six days, but also like six years! And I think that is the way it is supposed to be.

la madre springs


Welcome to McCracken Hiking 2009. We are very serious about whipping our little band into hiking shape (including us ring-leaders) so that we can have some serious adventures this summer. They LOVE the “mountains” aka desert rocks. And they are getting less and less wimpy as time goes on. So we ventured up the desert trail and found a fountain of freshness in the middle of oblivion.
Dave and Jena came along, but had to cut their trip short due to a prior engagement. The rest of us put in four miles and about 700 feet in elevation. For the small 40 pounders, that is quite a lot, and we are very proud of their attitudes. I must say that the six year old little princess can out-hike the rest of them when she decides to.
We had a great afternoon. It was 65 degrees and sunny with a little breeze–perfect January weather for a hike. And how adorable is my husband with our kids….


I can’t wait to scrapbook these pics…is it wrong for me to title the upper pics “mother goose?” :)


calico tanks on ice


Adam and Grandpa Penning took the kids out on a hike over Christmas Weekend. The ninos had a total blast. It was icy and cold and glorious. The round trip mileage was about three miles….and they all made. This was their first trip with packs on. In fact, it was their first “real” hike. We took them on a little one-miler when we first came home, but it had no elevation gain.


Calico tanks is one of our favorite little hikes out at Red Rock. We don’t have much to choose from around here. And it is one of the prettiest. The video below shows the kids “skating” on the ice, but the funniest part is Ezzy biffing it hard without trying. Our little klutzo.