Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012

We started Christmas morning with some silliness - a set of mustaches.
The sight of John with a mustache isn't all that unusual, so he got the photographer job.

After we opened stockings, we had some breakfast (every kid with his/her own sugary cereal, thanks to the Fitzpatricks!), then came the full package-opening extravaganza!

 These hats were a highlight - monkey brothers (above) and the princess and the frog (below).

Will got a bow-tie, so now he's ready for the spring formal in a few months!
After presents, we had a lovely quiet day at home.  They boys had their new video games to entertain them, John and Johanna had basketball to entertain them, and I took a long winter's nap!

Merry Christmas 2012! 

Fundraising Update

Not long ago, I sent out a letter asking folks to give toward our adoption fund,

either through Razoo Online fundraising for Shaw Family Adoption Fund

Or, directly to the Mission Orthodox Presbyterian Church adoption fund.

Or by shoppping at  (Follow this link to our storefront:

We also had an on-line auction which contributed almost $700 to the fund.  

We recently printed out a list of donors and - oh, my! - it is a long list!  We are so blessed and grateful for friends and family who have come along-side us in this way to help bring this baby home!  

We've had contributions of widely varying sizes, but all of them - even "widow's mites" - are equally precious to us in that they represent people who want to help us in this endeavor.  Some have given because they love us; some have given because they want to support adoption; and many, many have given for both reasons.  God is good and we are overwhelmingly grateful for His provision through the hands, and frankly the checkbooks, of people we know. 

Now, as the birth approaches, we are wonderfully close to our goal, but still short, so we are sending out one last appeal.

I know that many worthy causes are begging for your end-of-year tax-deductible gifts and we are one family.  But we are trying to faithfully do what God has called us to do and praying that, if you have not already done so, you will give in any amount toward our adoption fund, maybe even before the new year comes.  

The Razoo/GiveMN account is good for on-line/credit card giving.  The Mission OPC adoption fund accepts checks.  And we are still selling coffee for a little while longer.  

And don't worry about going over our goal amount (just in case you were concerned!).  Anything over what we need at the time of placement will go toward covering the rest of the fee when it comes due, travel costs, finalization costs, repaying no-interest loans, etc.  Plenty of opportunities to make good use of the fund!

Please consider giving today and I promise we won't ask again.  Well, I won't promise, but we certainly don't intend to ask again!

Thank you!  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What Doesn't Kill Ya...

Some of you know that we went to visit our birth mom last week.  Whew!  What an adventure we had getting home!  But first, let me tell you about getting there. 

Tuesday night we dropped off kids and had a quiet night at home, getting ready to go.  

Wednesday morning we left and had no problems with flights or anything, even got to the Kansas City airport a few minutes early.  Picked up our rental car and headed off into the Kansas wilderness.  I was so organized as to have printed out directions and maps for each step of our way.  Finally, Anne is organized!  

But then, partway there, we got a call from our social worker, B., that the birth mom, V., couldn't find a sitter for her older kids so we couldn't go to Olive Garden.  She still wanted to meet, just at the offices. Okay, minor re-direct, but a good reminder that even the best laid plans have to be flexible!  

We made good time on the road and got to the offices and met B.  We chatted for a while about birth mom and about what to expect when the baby's born, legal stuff, etc.  Not long after, V. came in.  V. is petite and quite pretty with dark brown eyes and dark brown shoulder-length hair.  Her baby belly is small and she wears big clothes so one wouldn't automatically notice that she's pregnant.  She came in and gave us both hugs right away.  We sat and chatted.  I had brought coloring books for her kids so they had something to occupy them in the other room.  We gave V. a silver necklace with a tree on it which represents family, since we are going to be family.  After we chatted for a while, we suggested that we go to McDonald's with a Playplace so we could eat dinner and the kids could play.  It was hard to talk much with the kids around, but we got a little chance to know her and we were glad to get to know her kids a little bit, too, since Baby will undoubtedly want to know about them, too.  In some ways it was easier to have the distraction of the kids, rather than trying to constantly think of something to say.  

We all left McD's about 9.  I gave her a tin of cut-out cookies I had brought along and explained that they are a family tradition for us.  I wanted to give her a treat and a glimpse into our family, as well.  She gave us both hugs again as we left and said goodbye.  

We took B. back to the adoption agency offices and got to chat over how it had all gone.  She said she could tell that V. had been comfortable with us and she (B.) felt like it had gone well.  We said a happy goodbye to B. and went to our hotel to chill and get to bed.  

We joked that we had gone all that way to have dinner at McDonald's! *groan*  But, of course, it wasn't about the food at all.  Our purpose - getting to meet and know V. - was fulfilled.  The one disappointment in having the kids around was that in the chaos, I forgot to take a picture and I didn't get to touch her baby belly and try to feel Baby kick.  :(  

We knew that bad weather was on its way through the area, but after obsessing over weather predictions and calling my dad for advice on Kansas blizzards, we decided to stay in Wichita that night and take our chances in the daylight.  I think that was the best option, but it was not pleasant driving.  A band of rain had preceded falling temps, ice, and snow so the roads were pretty bad.  John is a good driver and not overly anxious about snowy roads, usually, but this was white-knuckle driving.  The drive that had taken us less than 3 hours the day before took us almost 5 hours on the way back.  We saw a number of spin-outs, including one not far in front of us.  In addition to snow and ice, the wind was blowing in strong gusts, and in our light-weight rented Kia Soul, things felt pretty precarious.  

Finally, we reached the airport and returned the car.  Whew!  The worst was over.  Or was it?  

We got inside and found that many, many flights had been cancelled, but thankfully, ours had not.  We boarded the plane a little bit late, but not too bad.  But then we sat and waited for a runway to be clear, for the plane to be de-iced, for a different runway to be cleared, for the plane to be de-iced again, etc.  So we finally took off two hours late, but at least we were on our way.  

We descended into St. Louis, and, I can tell you, I was terrified.  Admittedly, I hate landing - it always makes me nervous and nauseated - but this was awful.  The plane bounced and dipped and I really, truly expected to be flipped over or driven straight into the ground by a gust of wind.  I was petrified. John has flown more than I have and he said it was the worst he's ever experienced, too.  

By God's good grace, we landed safely, but I was shaken.  Turns out the airport had actually been closed at the time we landed because of the 50 mph winds, but since we were in the air, we had to land. Personally, I think they should have just diverted us to Minneapolis, but no one asked me.  

We went straight to the ticket counter to try and figure out how we could get home since our connecting flight was long gone, and I said in no uncertain terms that I was ready to rent a car and drive home from there.  John (always sensible - so annoying!) pointed out that roads in Iowa and southern Minnesota were closed anyway because of the blizzard so it wouldn't do us any good to try to drive.  If not for the kids at home, I would have advocated for a mini-vacation in St. Louis until the roads were clear and we could drive home!

No such luck.  We got re-booked on not one, but two more flights that would get us to Minneapolis in the morning.  I went to the bathroom and sobbed and prayed for a few minutes, splashed water on my face, and went out to await death on our next flight.  

Thankfully, we had a few hours for me to calm down before we had to get onto a plane again.  Our flight to Chicago was fine.  The landing was bad and I was a bundle of nerves, but not as bad as St. Louis.  We settled in to spend the night in Midway airport.  Thankfully, the Dramamine was still at work and I was able to sleep for an hour or more on the floor.  I caught a few more snatches of sleep, but mostly listened to CNN on the TV overhead all night.  

Our flight out was at 5:40.  We arrived safely in Minneapolis; the landing was so smooth I was surprised when we touched down.  I have never been so glad to be home! 

Another aspect of all of this was our kids at home.  We had to arrange for another family to take Johanna since Pat and Katie were leaving Friday for Christmas, we had to impose on the family who had taken Micah and Sam for another night, and Will ended up staying over with a friend, as well.  During the day, friends had contacted us to say that they had come to pick up Will for basketball practice and found the front door wide open and no Will.  They closed the door for us and figured out that Will was at practice, but then we couldn't get ahold of Will. He wouldn't answer his cell or our home phone.  Finally we tracked him down (safe and sound at a friend's) but I was getting a little stressed!  So thankful for friends to rely on at times like that!

So, now we are making plans for a planned c-section on January 8.  Less than two weeks away!

Unfortunately that means I have to get on a plane again.  Waaaaah! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Adoption Letter

I know that many of  you have seen this letter on Facebook and/or e-mail, but I thought I'd put it here, too, to cover all our bases.  And if you keep getting the same message in different places, maybe you should pay attention!  :)

Dear friends and family,                                        

A little over three years ago, you received a letter from us in which we explained our decision to pursue adoption and asked you to pray for this journey.  Many have done so faithfully, as well as asking for updates and encouraging us along the way.  We have needed that encouragement as this adventure has been longer and more taxing than we had anticipated! 

            Now, at long last, we are happy to report that a birth mom has chosen our family and we plan to bring home a precious baby girl sometime in early January!

            As you may know, adoption carries a high cost, both in emotional and financial resources.  Many of you have given emotional support through prayer, personal notes and conversations, and in more tangible ways, like helping with fundraising.  Others have given financial support as well, and for all of it, we thank you!  Those funds have gone toward covering the costs of a home study, agency fees, and other minutiae of the process up until now.

            Now, in order to bring home Baby, we need to ask, once again, for funds.  The total cost of the adoption will be $30,000, plus some travel costs (with the price of gas, etc., even a trip to Kansas is expensive!).  This may seem like a lot of money- and it is – but as has been the case since October of 2009, we feel that God is calling us to adopt and He will make a way. 

            In addition to begging our friends and family for loose change, we are pursuing adoption grants and low-interest loans.  Further, we are conducting fundraisers: Just Love Coffee, and an on-line silent auction, in particular.

            Early January is not that far away, so let me get to the point.  If you are willing and able to help in any way, in any amount, here’s how:

            Direct donation: go to, type in Mission Orthodox in the search bar (top right hand corner), and our page is the third one down.  Directions should be clear from there.  Next Thursday, November 15, is Give to the Max day on that site, so it would be a good day to give and maybe earn a little extra for our cause! 

            Or, write a check to Mission Orthodox Presbyterian Church and put “Adoption fund” in the memo.  Send it to 1040 Como Ave. St. Paul, MN 55103.

            Fundraising: Shop at  Follow this link to our storefront: .  Every purchase earns us money!

            Or, donate goods or services to our on-line silent auction.  Please contact me if you have something to donate and we will work out details.

            The auction will run from November 26 until December 7 at and will be under the creative title “Shaw Family Adoption.”  So, when that time comes, check it out and bid on some items. 

            This is a lot of information in a small amount of time, but time is of the essence here as Baby’s due date quickly approaches. 

            Please prayerfully consider how you can help to bring home this precious baby girl to her forever family.   

            Thank you for your continued and unstinting love and support for our family. 

            With love from,
            The Shaw Family: John, Anne, Will, Micah, Johanna, Sam, and Baby Girl

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”   Galatians 4:4-6

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Adoption Update

Some time ago on here, I wrote an update on our adoption, in which I basically said, "Nothing has happened.  Nothing is happening.  Nothing is going to happen."  Well, I think I said it more eloquently than that, but that was the gist.

For a long time after that, nothing did happen.  John and I finally set a date and said that if we didn't hear anything by that date, we would call our agencies and ask to be taken off the lists, removed from active status.

But then...

Isn't that a great little phrase?  "But then..."

But then, two weeks before that date, we got a call.  THE call.

Our rep from Faithful Adoption Consultants, Jessica, called and said that a birth mom had seen our profile book and had chosen us to parent her baby!

I had to ask Jessica to confirm that several times before I could really believe it.

Almost exactly four years ago, we started the process of getting home study approved.

Almost exactly three years ago, we had an adoption match from North Carolina fall through.

And for three long years, we waited, sometimes with hope and sometimes without.  Sometimes confident that surely God had a baby for us and she would come to us soon.  Sometimes with a heart-breaking certainty that God had another plan and our dream of adopting would dwindle and fade to nothing.

And now we wait again.  But this is a very different kind of waiting.  This waiting is much more fun.  We watch the calendar and mark off the days as the due date approaches.

Baby Girl Shaw is due in January of 2013, and we can hardly wait to have her in our arms.

After all of the ups and downs of the last four years, we remain cautious, whether we want to or not, we do.  But at the same time we have already given our hearts to this baby girl, whether we want to or not, we have.

And, above all, we remain confident that God has a good plan for all of this.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Falling for Fall

I love fall.  It means cool, crisp days; glorious displays of outdoor color; and cozy sweaters.

Around here, it also means Reformation Celebration and pumpkin carving!

Every year, our church hosts a Reformation Celebration to remember the day Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door. 

Above, Sam tries his luck at the candy fish pond.

Below, everyone awaits the announcement of winners for the costume contest, handed out by our very own "Justin Beaver."

We also had some dancing to celebrate!  We had a caller/instructor who had us dancing Russian, French, Celtic and American folk dances.  Everyone seemed to have a great time!

The next day, it was time to carve the pumpkins!

The kids were not happy about the slime factor involved in removing the seeds, but their efforts paid off in a couple of very fine looking jack-o-lanterns.  

This scary fellow (below) showed up at the Reformation Celebration!  Anyone know who he is?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

God's love

Like most people, I have a number of friends around me who are going through rough times, even passing through the valley of the shadow of death with someone they love.  This quote from Paul David Tripp resonated with me when I came across it the other day.  It is from his essay "The Radical Implications of Eternity" in These Last Days, published by P&R Publishing.

Tripp builds off of 1 Peter 1: 3-9 by saying:

"God will take you where you never intended to go, in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own.  He will drive you beyond your strength.  He will drive you beyond your wisdom.  He will drive you beyond your own imagined righteousness, because he knows that true righteousness only begins when you come to the end of yourself.  We must not think of trials and griefs and testings as a sign of God's unfaithfulness and inattention.  They are a sure sign of his eternal commitment and covenantal love."

Friday, September 14, 2012

July 4th, 2012

Here is one last look at summer 2012.  These were taken at our church's July 4th picnic.  

How many girls can fit into a kiddie pool?!  Johanna is second from left.

Sam and swinging friend.

The kids memorized and recited "Paul Revere's Ride" in honor of the holiday. 

So with that reminder of the days of heat, humidity and heavenly freedom, we turn ourselves toward autumn.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Urban Farming

One of the big trends these days is urban farming.  Vegetable gardens, chicken coops, berry patches: all of these are springing up in urban settings, places where kids sometimes don't know where milk comes from, let alone veggies and eggs.

Well, never ones to let a trend pass us by - we're nothing if not trendy - John and I have taken urban farming to a whole new level.  We put up our own crop of hay!

Now we just need a cow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Third Week of August

Monday, we started our first official week of homeschool.  (Did you know that the spell checker does not consider homeschool a word?  I think I feel discriminated against.)  Will has started soccer practices, but school starts next Monday.  

What this has meant in practical terms is that we're in sort of a dual existence, the already and the not yet, if you will: mornings are for school, afternoons and evenings are for summer.  

For the last couple of nights, the three younger kids have slept in a tent in the backyard; last night we had a cookout with s'mores; today we went to a movie at the library and got ice cream afterward; tonight they had a water battle.    

This is part of our back yard, in full summer glory.

The weather has been dreamy.  Today's high was 80.  

The sunflower seeds Sam sowed in May have grown into plants as tall as the garage now.

Summer is going out in a blaze of glory.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

RPI 2012

A few weeks ago, 
our family went to the Reformed Presbyterian International Conference
in Marion, Indiana.

This is a conference that I grew up attending every four years and it was something we looked forward to for all of those four intervening years.

So, it was fun to go again and see old friends and even older family (sorry, couldn't resist) as well as young family members.  This time was extra fun to watch my own kids make friends and have a great time that week.

Sister Katie and her new husband were there for a few days and made a splash with a memorable performance during the talent show.

One evening, we had a Copeland family reunion with cousins, cousins, and cousins!  

Some of the time, we just hung out, waiting for the next big event, usually lunch or supper.

Here is Sam with his cousin, Ian (far right), and a new friend, Sam, from Kansas.  (We went to college with his parents!)

Here is Micah with his friends, Nathan and Maria.

And here is Johanna with her friend, Abigail, from Indiana.

The main speaker was Joel Beeke and his talks on personal holiness were so helpful.  It was a pleasure to sit and listen to him for an hour every morning as well as attend several worship services with RP pastors in the pulpit.  

And the Psalm singing...

Well, if you haven't heard 2,000+ RPs singing the Psalms, I can't describe it.  At the least, I can say it is memorable.  

We are thankful we got to go and look forward to going back in four years!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Clean Slate

I realized tonight that when I clean my house, all of my faults and failings come and stand over me and jeer.  

Not just the faults related to housecleaning. All of them.

Somehow my failings in housekeeping (and they are legion) seem to invite every other messy part of my life for a "sit on Anne" fiesta, or whatever the opposite of a pity party is.  So by the time I have been at it for half an hour, I'm ready to throw in the dust rag, kick the cleaning bucket, and, since I can't beat 'em, join the dust bunnies.

 At least the vacuum commiserates with me when I say, "I suck." 

I know all the psychological tricks which are supposed to make me work happily.  For instance, dirty dishes mean I have many mouths to feed and many mouths are a blessing so washing dishes should feel like a blessing.

Well, I'm sorry but it doesn't.  If feels like what it is.  An effect of the fall.  

Now, please don't think I spend a significant amount of my life obsessing over this.  I don't.  And my kitchen floor can attest to that.  But when I do tackle more than whatever is required for mere survival, this crushing weight of failure lies like a heavy mantle of wet wool on my shoulders. 

And then when I have friends and sisters-in-law who actually seem to enjoy housecleaning?  It gives them a sense of accomplishment?  They can't sit down until everything is spotless?  Huh?  Does not compute.

Believe me, I want to be like that.  I could use a little more OCD in my life.  I want to be this woman:

Actually, I'd rather be this woman: 


At least the first one looks like she's happy to be cleaning and that's what I need, rather than feeling like a failure as a wife, a mom, a homeowner, a person, a human being before I even grab the squirt bottle; feeling like my friends and neighbors and family must be shaking their heads, either in condescending pity or plain old disgust. 

And then when my kids are terrible at cleaning their rooms and cleaning up after themselves all over the house, who is to blame?  


Yes, John could pitch in and he does, but really for better or worse, I'm the main home keeper so it falls on my shoulders.  

I'm an averagely intelligent woman, not more than averagely slothful, and I really do love living in a clean home. So why is this so difficult?  

I think it must be because, deep down, what I really believe is that

For instance, think of all the good books waiting to be read (or written, for that matter).

So, anyway, when you come to my house, come to see the people; we're all reasonably clean and rather nice usually and we love to talk.

And when there's crud on the bathroom mirror and ground in something in the living room carpet and you have to move a pile of clean laundry off the couch, don't be surprised.

Start folding.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The View from Johanna's Camera Lens

Today's guest post is by Miss Johanna Shaw.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sam's Girl

 Here's Sam hangin' out with his new girlfriend.  
She's very quiet but seems really nice.  We haven't met her parents yet but I'm sure they're good people.  They haven't been together long, but Sam is so happy.  Well, he did say she's a little controlling, but...


I mean...I'm sure he didn't mean it as a criticism.  He needs a little stricture...I mean structure in his life.  No, really...

Oh, dear.

Well, girls, Sam seems to be single again.  Anyone interested?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sam's Birthday

In the rush of things this spring, I never did post pictures of Sam's 6th birthday!  We didn't do a lot for him this year, but he did get some pretty cool presents.

Getting some help with reading cards.

Showing Daddy his cool new book of Lego stickers and activities.

Sam is growing so fast and we love him so much!  We thank God for his sunny personality, great laugh, and constant curiosity.  He is a blessing to our family!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wedding of the Year

Nine days ago (but who's counting?), our family participated in the Wedding of the Year.

Or, really, the Wedding of the Decade.

My sister was the beautiful bride.  Isn't she beautiful?

She married Sean Donaldson, who promises fair to be a good brother-in-law.

Oh, and a good husband for Katie.

The day was clear and sunny, warm but not too hot, and everyone looked his best.

Ten-year-old Johanna and her cousin, Maggie, were the Jr. Bridesmaids and looked so pretty.

Sam and his cousin, Ian, were ring-bearers.  So handsome in their little tuxedos.  Sam was especially taken with his shiny black shoes and used his napkin at the reception to polish them!

John, William and Micah were ushers.  We found black suits for them and they wore ties and pocket squares to match those in tuxedos.  Will had the honor of escorting his grandmother, the mother of the bride, to her seat.

I was the matron of honor.  I was thrilled to be given the job - not thrilled with the elderly sounding "matron" - but thrilled with the honor.

The picture is rather dark, just taken on my little camera, but it gives you an idea of how we looked.

Now that the honeymooners are home, I can start pestering them for the professional pictures!

The happy (ridiculously happy, glowing with in-loveness) couple, honeymooned in Nova Scotia and will resume residence in the Pittsburgh area.

The flowers were absolutely gorgeous.  Reminiscent of an English country garden.  This is Katie's bouquet, above.  The florist guessed that she had probably found the last four peonies in the state!  And they really perfected the bouquet.

So, when the wedding festivities and family time were closing, we packed up again and headed to Ohio to see John's parents for a couple of days.  We arrived home in Minnesota tired and happy to be home, but so thankful for a great trip and a wonderful wedding.