January 25, 2013

Favorite Friday #4: Apple Valley Natural Soap

Maybe the first question here is: why bother with natural soap?
Soap and laundry detergent were two of the things we changed when we began this journey to all-things-natural-and-real. As an infant, our daughter would frequently get huge, I mean HUGE red, raised hives all over her body. I eventually narrowed down the culprits to about 3 or 4 things, two of which were laundry detergent and soap.

What is natural soap?
Natural soap has no artificial coloring, fragrances, and nothing synthetic like SLS, triclosan or parabens (just to name a few).

Since soap was one of the first things we changed, I've tried a LOT. And there are a lot of good ones. People who make all-natural soap are usually very proud of their products and work very hard to use only quality ingredients. That translates into quality soap.

But, I do have a FAVORITE.

Apple Valley Natural Soap.
I honestly can't even give a detailed explanation about why it's my favorite. I just know it is.
For one though, I love the scents. Sometimes natural products can have very strong, harsh scents, and theirs are not. They're just a little lighter than others I've tried. I just like it.

They even have something for your man. No reason your hubby should be stinky with this bar around ;)

I also know that they only use 100% natural ingredients and I don't have to worry about anything being in this soap that might hurt my daughters skin.It's not unusual to find hand made soap that is all natural, except for synthetic fragrances, and those sometimes give us trouble.

And here's the greatest part: Apple Valley Natural Soap is handmade by a home-educating family who are committed to honoring Christ in their work. Read more about them HERE. I'm more than happy to support that kind of business!!

Lucky me, I have a cousin who lives by this amazing family and can get me their great soap on a regular basis. But, for those who don't have such a convenient connection, they have a fabulous little website: www.applevalleynaturalsoap.com

Check them out and make sure you try a bar of my all-time favorite - Grapefruit Peppermint Luffa :)

January 23, 2013

How to order from Azure Standard

It was definitely the consensus of everyone I talked to that the Azure Standard website is overwhelming. 

Yes. It definitely IS. But, it's essentially a grocery store. Can you imagine what HyVee's website would look like if they put ALL their products on there?

This little "intro to Azure" should help you out if you've never done it before. 
I will say, it's not exactly a website you want to "browse." It isn't pretty or functional enough. But if you know what you need, you can get it taken care of quickly. 

Ok, let's start with the home page:

They highlight a few articles - which are often worth reading if like that kind of thing - and a few new and/or featured products. The main navigation is in the orange bar at the top.

The first thing you need to do is sign in. You cannot see any prices on any products without signing in.

If you've never used their site, you can create a username and password. Doing so does NOT commit you to buy anything, ever. 

Enter your info. Easy peasy.

Now that you're logged in, there are basically two ways to shop.
1. Browse - I usually choose to browse by category
2. Enter a search term.

To browse, choose the "shop" drop down menu in the top orange bar.

If you choose to browse by category, it will look like this:

For this example, we'll choose "Frozen Grocery"

Even when browsing by category, it can be overwhelming. The results in this category are over 1000. I really wish there was a 2nd tier to organize within categories, but they don't have that yet. So for now, we'll have to deal. 

In cases like this, you can do two things:
1. Find a brand you like and expand on it. If I were to click on an item in the previous image, it would bring me to an item detail screen.

Here I can click on the brand and it will show me everything they sell by under that label.

This makes browsing a little easier.


2. You can simply search for what you want.

Just be forewarned that their search function is very specific. If you were to spell Rudi's as "Rudis," it would not find it. So just because you get no results, it doesn't mean the product isn't there. Try different wording or spelling.

If you get it right, it will significantly narrow things down:

When you find what you want, just add it to your cart - same as any other online store:

 Hit "Check Out" when you're ready to go!

The next screen will ask about shipping. At this point, you will need to know your drop point number. You can get this if you know who your drop point coordinator is. If you don't, call Azure Standard and they will help you. You will want to contact the drop point coordinator, because they will tell you when the shipment will be delivered.

Clicking "next" takes you to the payment screen. We'll skip that one because it automatically saves your information and I don't think everyone needs a screen shot of my card numbers!

The third screen is a review:
Check everything over closely. You'll see in this example I have a "small order handling fee." This is because my order is less than $50. Because they are an Oregon based company, there's no sales tax, only an 8.5% delivery fee. So it comes out similarly to paying sales tax anyway, but getting shipping for free, if it helps to look at it that way.

Last step:

Make sure you click "SUBMIT ORDER!!"
One time I filled my cart, entered all the info and forgot to click this. Oops.

Now, the orders close on a specific day and time. So if you've already submitted your order, it automatically goes through at that time. If you have things in your cart but haven't submitted it when the order closes, you'll get nothing.

Also, you can modify your order at any point up until the order closes! I often add things when I'm thinking about it, then a week later come back and add more, etc. This way I don't forget anything.

For more information, you can also click the "Ordering Info" button on the main orange bar:

This should have answer some "frequently asked question" type things.

And don't be afraid to contact them! I've emailed several times asking specifics about products, such as, "does the producer use pesticide," and "is the milk used to produce this cheese from grass-fed cows?" They always have an answer.

I'm happy to answer any questions too! Hope that helps, at least a little!

January 22, 2013

What I buy from Azure Standard

For some reason, quite a few people asked me questions about ordering from Azure Standard the last couple weeks. A lot were about how to actually do it, but many were about what I order from them as well.

We buy a lot of things through Azure, and since the order came today, I thought I'd just highlight this months purchases.

I have compared quality and price of all similar products at my local grocery store and have determined that buying these items from Azure are the best value, at least for OUR family.

One of my larger purchases this month was 10 pounds of butter. I usually only get 2 or 3, but buying 10 brings the price down from $4.40/lb to $3.70/lb. Since butter freezes well, I thought it was worth it.

Rumiano butter is made from jersey cows that graze on pasture about 300 days of the year. It's not the best picture, but you can see the comparison to store-bought butter below. It is a much more saturated yellow - the store-bought tends to be almost white.

APPLES! A 20 pound box of organic apples is $20. That's $1 a pound! In the store, they are about $3 a pound so it's a significant savings. Also, apples are number ONE on the list of conventionally grown produce to avoid! I used to buy conventionally grown ones and take the chance until I had an interaction with a local apple farmer.
Me: Do you use pesticides on your apples?
Farmer: Yes, we have to or we just won't get a good crop. They're very good though - have a taste. (He offers me a basket and I decide to be polite and take a tiny bite and not think about the pestcide, so I choose one and raise it to take a bite...)
Farmer: Wait! Stop! Don't eat the peel! We sure don't eat the peel with all that stuff on it! Let me cut it off for you.
Me: What if I wanted to eat the peel? What would be the best way to remove the pesticide residues?
Farmer: We wash ours with bleach first!

Lesson learned: even the apple farmers won't eat the peels on their own apples. Or they choose to wash them with bleach. That right there convinced me to buy organic!

Real salt: produced with no additives, chemical or heat and contains all the naturally occurring trace minerals.
Biokleen dishwasher detergent: no phosphates, no chlorine, and it actually WORKS!
Jovial tomatoes: Just bought these to try for the first time.
Desert Essence Tea Tree shampoo: Natural, no SLS, parabens, etc.

Five pounds of almonds: For things like trail mix, homemade almond butter and smoked almonds.
Einkorn grain: The most ancient form of wheat, with significantly different gluten and gliadin content and the original 14 chromosomes instead of 42 like current varieties. Just bought this for the first time to do some experimenting.
Golden flax seeds: To grind and use in baking and granola
Organic Basmati Rice: For some reason, organic rice is hard to find here.
Ceylon Cinnamon: For my dad's health experiment! (Is he catching on to my crazy, natural-food ways??) Bulk spices are a GREAT deal from Azure!

And Desert Essence tea tree toothpaste: No flouride or SLS. Yes. We try to avoid flouride. And our teeth are wonderful.

Straus Yogurt: LOVE it! Pure whole milk yogurt at a reasonable price, with no added sugar, flavorings, artificial colors or other garbage.
Organic cremini mushrooms: I love cremini's and I can't find them locally, nor can I find organic, although I don't think it matters much for mushrooms.
Kale: Also very high for pesticide use and we don't have organic in my local store.

Organic beef jerky: Another first-time purchase. It was too expensive to keep on hand all the time, but I wanted to try it for future reference. It tastes awesome, but I wasn't thrilled about the added evaporated cane syrup.

Hain safflower mayo: A good option for when I don't have time to make my own mayo. It's somewhat of a compromise, but sometimes convenience wins.
Organic avocados: Price prohibitive locally, but organic ones through Azure are cheaper than conventionally grown ones in the store.

And lastly, a few Rudi's products. I like that Rudi's is all organic, and they have spelt products. We've tried to cut back on grain consumption, but I still need to have a few stand-by options in the freezer for quick breakfasts or school lunches. And these products are WAY to pricey at my local store.

I had a cheese picture, but don't know what happened to it. They have some really amazing cheese and it's WAY cheaper than quality cheese at the store.

A few other things I frequently purchase from Azure (but didn't this month) are:
• Bulk steel cut oats and rolled oats
• Bulk organic corn, hard red wheat, hard white wheat and soft white wheat
• Bulk almond flour
• Other seasonal fruits and vegetables: kiwi, cherries, mangoes, peppers, etc.
• Bulk shredded and chipped coconut (one of my favorites)
• Organic raisins
• Frozen blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. (While not organic, the farmer who sells to Azure tries very hard to avoid pesticides/chemical fertilizers and will only use in limited amounts and if absolutely necessary. They're also frozen quickly to avoid the use of preservative sprays.)
• Canned organic pumpkin
• Canned organic coconut milk
• Bulk arrowroot and tapioca starches
• Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

We buy many other "random" items as well, but this list covers most of what we try to keep on hand regularly.

I know the website is a little bit overwhelming. So if you're interested in ordering and feel like you need some ideas for items to try, hopefully this will help. Maybe my next post will be "How to navigate the Azure Standard website" :)

January 21, 2013

Where she is & where we'll be

Prior to receiving LOA (letter of acceptance) for Meili, we were not allowed to give any identifying information about her. Now that we're SO close, they aren't quite as strict anymore.

Here's what our trip will look like when we finally travel to adopt her:

We will initially fly into Beijing.

China is divided into provinces, but Beijing is not in a province...it's sort of it's own province. I feel like it's similar to Washington DC, but that's mostly a guess. We will stay here for about 3 days. All families traveling in our group from our agency will meet in Beijing and there will be some opportunities to get acquainted.

During our time here, we'll get rested after our MANY hours of travel and get acclimated to the time difference (they are 14 hours ahead of us). It is recommended that we experience the Chinese culture while we are here so we can get a taste of the where our little girl is from. We'll be able to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen square, etc.

On day three, all the families in our group will split up and fly to their respective provinces to meet their children. Nearly all adoptions are done in the capital city of each province. Meili is in the Jiangsu province, therefore, we will be flying to Nanjing.

It is about 650 miles from Bejing to Nanjing (roughly the same as Omaha to Dallas). It will likely be evening when we arrive at our hotel in Nanjing. The next morning (which will be about day 4), we will meet Meili! Meili is not from Nanjing, but she will be brought there by the orphanage staff. Her hometown is about 4 hours from Nanjing.

We will stay in Nanjing for 3-5 days to finish the adoption procedures. We will be completing documents and having them notarized and will also be getting her passport, as well as other various pieces of paperwork.

This should bring us to the end of week one. At this point, we, and ALL other families in our group will leave our provinces and fly to Guangzhou.

ALL adoptive families MUST leave from Guangzhou because this is where our children's visas are issued and immigration is completed. This distance is about 875 miles...roughly the same Sioux Falls to Dallas. We will likely be quite happy to be in Guangzhou at this point. Since ALL adopting families must come here, it tends to be somewhat of a "haven" for us Americans. Things are much more "western-ized" and the area is full of other Americans as well as great shopping and restaurants.

Oh, and it's WARM there!
Like sub-tropical warm.
We certainly aren't there to vacation, but I can't imagine I won't enjoy that...at least a little.

We'll be in Guangzhou for about 1 week. When we leave, it has to be from either Bejing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. Which one we end up in depends on the date/time we need to leave, our airline, and available flights. I'm expecting either Beijing or Hong Kong, but I don't know for sure.

If we leave from Bejing...(???)

I have to admit, I'm a little worried about packing clothes for three different climates for a child whose size I don't know. Beijing's climate is similar to South Dakota's. Nanjing is in the middle somewhere and Guangzhou is subtropical.

I think we'll just plan on layers.

January 20, 2013

How we may still be able to travel in February

Are you ready for something complicated?
If you're not IN the China adoption program and you understand this, you might be wizard. Or a genius.

I'll try to make it as clear as I can.

Meili's visa paperwork was dropped off on January 8. It takes 2 weeks to be processed, and when it is picked up we receive Article 5 (A5) and are then waiting ONLY for Travel Approval (TA). Therefore, we will begin the wait for TA on January 22.

Our agency told us in the beginning of January, that current wait times from A5 to TA were about 3 weeks. That would put our TA at February 12 (at the earliest). Our agency only sends ONE group per month to China, and the group in February leaves on February 20.

We will need a visa to travel to China. In August of 2012, a rule was made that you had to have TA to apply for a visa. It takes about 1 week to process a visa. With mailing time, that would cause our calendar to look like this, assuming TA came on the 12th:

Enter Chinese New Year (CNY). 
It's their biggest holiday. All government offices in China are closed from about February 8th-17th. That means no TA's will be issued during that time.
Bummer. We figured it would be March, for sure.

But then:

We discovered through our FaceBook travel groups that in the last week or two, people have been getting TA's in about 11 days instead of 21 days! We began to get excited. The reason for this is likely also Chinese New Year. This holiday can cause paperwork to go either way. Government employees can push it through more quickly than usual in an attempt to clear their desks, or they may just leave it all until after the holiday. 


We also learned that there IS a way to get visa's processed before receiving TA. We will be submitting our paperwork for that first thing tomorrow morning. We are rushing to do this because the Chinese Consulate in Chicago (who processes visa's) also takes some time off for Chinese New Year.

This will cause our "possibility calendar" to look like this (are you ready?!):

Clear as mud? The above scenario would be ideal, or at least as ideal as it can be at this point.

But our window of opportunity is right here:

Because...guess what? The travel agency that will arrange our trip ALSO closes for Chinese New year!! Aaarrgghh!!
If we receive TA on the 4th, the travel agency could get our trip planned before closing for CNY. If they don't, we could still go on the 20th, but may not receive our arrangements and itinerary until the 18th or 19th, which would probably be just about enough to send my plan-everything, type-A, must-be-organized self completely over the edge.

So there you have it.

If our visa paperwork is processed correctly and quickly, and if we receive TA much earlier than originally expected and if TA comes in time travel agency in China to plan the trip before CNY..........THEN, we could still possibly make it in February.

And as if that isn't enough, we can expect to pay roughly $1000-$2000 MORE for our trip to China because of the proximity to CNY.  When we started this process 16 months ago, I told Jon, "I don't care when we go, except I do NOT want to go in February."  My mind has changed now, and although it's not exciting to think about the extra $$ that going in February will cost, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. If we can get her out of that orphanage a month sooner, it will be well worth it.

So Chinese New Year is working FOR us in some ways and AGAINST us in others. All the more reason to trust in the Lord's perfect timing and his will for this trip.

January 18, 2013

Our Adoption Timeline

I should have done this a long time ago. It's mostly for our benefit, so we can remember these important dates, but also for anyone else who's interested (and knows what all these things mean!)

Formal Application: 10-31-2011
Home Study Completed: 2-29-2012
I800A: 5-29-12
DTC: 7-10-12
LID: 7-20-12
Referral: 9-25-12 (Keira's Birthday!)
LOI: 10-3-12
PA: 9-28-12 (My Grandpa's Birthday!)
LOA: 10-29-12
I800: 11-19-12
NVC: 11-29-12
I800A Supplement 3: 12-11-12
A5 Drop: 1-8-13
A5 Pick up: 1-22-13
TA: 2-7-13 (16 days after A5)
Leave for China: 2-20-13
Adoption Day: ?
Consulate Appt: 3-6-13

We've recently learned there is a now a decent chance we may still be able to make it in February! We'll know more soon. In the mean time, keep praying!

Favorite Friday #3: Ikea Reko glasses

Does it seem strange to have glasses be a favorite thing?

If you're a real-foodie, it probably isn't so weird. When we finally find our affordable, chemical-free, easy-to-use, easy-to-store pieces, we hold on to them tightly! Like our cast iron skillets, food processor and KitchenAid mixer (ooohh...the mixer will definitely need it's own Friday spot!).

I love the Reko's. These little babies are awesome.


1. They're glass, so they're BPA free. BPA (bisphenol A - a nasty little industrial chemical commonly found in plastics; like childrens cups). I don't want my kids sucking on BPA all day. Even though it's argued that the BPA only leaches out when the plastics are heated, is it really worth messing around with when there are better substitutes?

2. They're stackable. ALL KIDS CUPS SHOULD BE STACKABLE! I seriously can't figure out why anyone would make one that wasn't.

3. They're crazy affordable. Like $1.49 for SIX! Thank you, IKEA! (Find them HERE). At that price, if one breaks, who cares?!?

4. They're the perfect size for kids; roughly 7 ounces if filled to the brim, so about 6 ounces when filled for drinking.

5. For glass, they're very durable. We have actually dropped these from our countertop onto the ceramic tile floor WITHOUT them breaking. Not on purpose, of course, but it would be a fun experiment.

So yeah....I feel a little lame for being so thrilled about glasses. But they're seriously just perfectly little things and such a bargain that they just had to have a spot in the "favorites" posts.

What's the only thing better than a Reko?
A Reko full of RAW MILK!

Happy Friday!

January 11, 2013

Favorite Friday #2: Green & Blacks

I eat very few sweets.

Almost none really, unless I'm at my parents house. They always have goodies and I don't know about you, but for some reason, all bets are off when I'm at my parents. Sometimes you just need Mom's cooking, you know?

But at home, we keep it to a bare minimum....organic lollipops for the kids as a special treat and usually some gum from Grandma. That's it.


I will admit, I have a chocolate stash.

Not just any chocolate, mind you.

This chocolate:

One of my main issues with most sweet treats is the sugar content. I try reasonably hard to avoid refined sugar. But even more than that, we try to avoid GMO's. I'm seriously not a fan of those (as I discussed in this post). Unfortunately, about half of the sugar in the US comes from sugar beets, 95% of which are genetically modified. Unless a product says "pure cane sugar," there's a very good chance it contains beet sugar and therefore, is genetically modified.

Buying organic chocolate is just about the only way to ensure you're not buying a GM product. If you've been eating REAL FOOD for even a short while - maybe a week or more - you've probably noticed that foods taste different than they used to. Real foods begin to taste more flavorful and fake foods...more FAKE.

Good quality organic chocolate just tastes better. If you don't believe me, do a side by side comparison with a Hershey's bar and see for yourself.

The ingredients are simple: chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa, raw cane sugar & vanilla extract.
There's nothing that shouldn't be in chocolate - like soy lecithin (GMO!) or artificial flavors like you'll find in other chocolates.

Unfortunately, quality chocolate costs more too. You don't get this bar for 75 cents in the checkout line! It could get pricey if you munched on these too quickly. Luckily for me, Green and Blacks has a special feature:

They are conveniently divided into 27 little squares (yes, some of mine are missing). And THAT is my favorite, because somehow (I'm still not sure how) those little squares must do something to suppress my cravings so I'm able to eat just one per day. That comes out to just a smidge more than one bar per month.

I can afford that. Unless of course Jon or the kids find my stash. Make sure you hide it well.

I prefer the 85% dark chocolate. It's just so absolutely smooth and delicious. Plus the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids it contains, and cocoa solids happen to flavanols - healthy compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

So there! It's healthy too! (Nevermind that cranberries and green leafy vegetables have flavanols as well. If you can get them from chocolate, then why not?!).

Recently, I discovered that the Green & Black's label is owned by Kraft. This disappoints me. I hate to find out that huge junk-food producing mega companies own the smaller organic/health food labels because it  seems like it always becomes "all about the money." And usually less about the quality of the product, ethical production practices and consumer concerns. But until I have time to do my research to find a smaller, family owned company that produces a bar with a price I can afford, Green & Blacks will do nicely.

January 9, 2013

Unopened gifts

There were just a few extra gifts under the tree this year at our (many) Christmas celebrations.

Meili didn't get a lot, since we aren't 100% sure what size she is. But she managed to come out with a few things.

This has to be almost the tiniest little apron I've ever seen. But she's pretty tiny, so it will probably fit perfectly.

Everyone gets new jammies for Christmas. We think we have enough clothes to take to China for her, but we needed one more pair of pajamas.

When we thought we were traveling in February, we figured she'd need these. Maybe not so much in March? It's not quite as cold as here, but still chilly.

The care package we sent her should have arrived on Christmas Eve. We're hoping she received at least SOMETHING from it. 

It was odd to unwrap gifts for her, having never even seen her. 
Next year should be a different story :)

January 7, 2013

The GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY

The last 24 hours have really been....well....they stunk. Big time.

I'll start with the UGLY.
 Because I like to get the bad stuff out of the way.

The UGLY is our van. The van that broke down on Christmas Eve in the middle of nowhere at 11:30pm on the coldest day of the year. The van whose head gaskets are going bad and need to be replaced.

Price tag? $2000-$2400.
That's like two plane tickets to China.
(There's a silver lining in the UGLY though. Jon sets aside money each payperiod for car repair, and we have enough in that fund. So we shouldn't have to touch any adoption or emergency funds.)

The BAD.
The bad may actually be worse than the UGLY, but the van problem happened tonight on top of the other events of the day, so it takes the prize.

The bad is Meili's visa paperwork. If you recall, we had some problems with US immigration losing a piece of our paperwork. Because of this, our I800 was approved BEFORE our I800A update. This is not the order it's supposed to go in. Meili's visa paperwork (DS-230) was the next thing we were to submit and we had to sit on for 3+ weeks while we waited for the I800A update to get approved.

Every piece of instruction I had from our agency said that our NVC letter (letter from the visa center saying our paperwork had been approved) would come 10-14 days AFTER OUR DS-230 was submitted. We submitted it on December 17 and as of yesterday, hadn't heard anything. Thankfully, a friend encouraged me to check on it and gave me some resources to do so.

When I pulled out my files and flipped through them, the letter was already in there. The date on it was November 29. This means 3 things:

1. I had had it the whole time. I don't remember getting it, or filing it. But apparently I knew it was important because I kept it.
2. We just wasted three weeks. Waiting for paperwork that was in our house. THREE WEEKS.
3. Our agency failed to inform us that the NVC letter really comes after I800 approval, NOT after DS-230 submission. They also failed to follow up with us and ask us why on EARTH we hadn't sent them the NVC letter when our I800 had been approved back in November.

When I found the letter, I immediately called Jon up and blubbered something about "I made a huge mistake...go scan this NOW...this is horrible..." I probably completely freaked him out. We got it to the agency first thing this morning.

Needless to say, I'm furious and frustrated. Mostly with myself. The guilt made me sick to my stomach all day and I couldn't concentrate on any of my other tasks. But I'm also very frustrated that the people we are paying to handle our paperwork failed to keep tabs on where we were with it.

So here's the problem with the BAD:
Had our NVC letter been submitted 3 weeks ago, it would have been approved and picked up today. That means we would have been issued our Travel Invitation in about 3 weeks and would have traveled in February. But now, it will likely be dropped off on Thursday + 2 weeks for processing = January 24 for pick up. January 24 + 3 weeks for Travel Invitation = February 14. Too late for February travel.

We lost a month. Because of this error, Meili will spend another month in that horrible orphanage. We will very likely be traveling in March now.

Just so you don't think I'm crazy, take a look at this thing:

Does that look like a VERY important, official document? I don't think so.
Does it have watermarks and scroll-y stuff all over and metallic threads woven in like our other "official" paperwork? No.
It's not an excuse, but I wasn't expecting it, and didn't know what it was. It came when it wasn't supposed to. Thank goodness I at least SAVED it!

All that said, here's the GOOD:

We still get to go get her.

Even if it's a month later than planned. Some of those poor families waiting for their children in Russia can't say that right now. Last Fall, China changed some of their requirements regarding what they would accept in home study reports. This affected us. We were told if China didn't accept our addendum to our home study, we'd be done. Out of the program. This was why we waited so anxiously for our LOA and were so thrilled when it did come. We also found out today that many families with our agency were not so lucky, and China did not accept their home study addendums.

So tonight we are thankful. Because as it is right now, she'll still be able to come home with us.

Our prayer request for the day: Please pray that our Travel Approval comes unusually fast. Like 2 weeks instead of 3. If that were to happen. We could still possibly make it in February. But more importantly, please pray that the rest of our paperwork gets through SMOOTHLY. Even if it means a delay in travel time.