Friday, December 30, 2005

Good news, bad news...

My documents made it to my agency in Kentucky, and yes, Kim, I was stalking the FedEx tracking page. I probably bogged the site down for other people trying to track their packages! Then all of a sudden, showed a delivery confirmation!

About an hour later, my phone rings and it's my agency saying that got my package and they reviewed it, and they have some bad news. Ok, BAD what can it be?? Did the CCAA change some regulation, did they start the dreaded weight restriction and I'm out??? What the heck is faster please...

It turns out that checking my documents about a billion times before I sent them wasn't enough. I forgot to bring our marriage license to the Secretary of State's office for certification with the rest of our documents! I don't know why I forgot that or what I was thinking, but that's what I did. I was expecting something MUCH worse than this to qualify as bad news, so I was relieved that it's something easily taken care of.

They are going to overnight the document back to me, I'm going to run it over to the Secretary of State, then overnight it back to them. They are going to send the rest of my dossier off to their courier at the Washington, DC consulate and then the courier will expedite my last document so it catches up with the rest. It's a $60 mistake, but, hey, it could be much worse. The good news is that we probably won't loose any time because of it and that's the main thing.

I'm looking forward to DTC so I can forget about the paperwork and move on to fun stuff like the nursery!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Documents sent...

FedEx picked up my documents late this morning, so they should be en-route to my agency in Kentucky right now. When the FedEx guy came into my office this morning I was out, but Gilbert (helping us out at the front desk) told him that he'd better protect that package with his life if he knew what was good for him. I was telling Gilbert when I put the package out that it contained 4 1/2 months of blood, sweat, and tears and is not easily or quickly replaceable.

I would feel a lot better if my tracking number would actually show me where my package is right now, but there's nothing posted yet. This is what I get on the FedEx web site: Sorry, we are unable to process your tracking request. Please retry later, or contact Customer Service. I hate this message! The pick-ups guys carry those little barcode machines around, you would think they could update their site sooner for nervous people like me!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dossier docs ready to go!

Well, our dossier documents are ready to be sent to our agency, along with a big payment, to send our dossier off to China. If all goes well, we may be DTC on Friday, January 13.

It's hard to believe that this table full of documents took 4 1/2 months worth of work to obtain, notarize, and certify.

Although I'm VERY excited about being done with the paperchase and almost DTC, I have a lot of mixed emotions. I've tried to stay hopeful (hence my screen name of Hopeful Gal on the discussion forums) through this process so far, but I know the real waiting is still ahead. Also, our past attempts at parenthood have always ended in disappointment and grief. With the ever changing world of China adoptions, I will try to stay positive, but this is a big (not to mention expensive) step ahead and like anything else there are risks involved. I just feel like this is all too good to be true and there is that past voice of disappointment saying don't get your hopes up too high. Can any other waiting parents relate to my feelings?

Birds and wishes...

I'm not much of a bird person, but I'm babysitting a cockatiel while my friend, Jennifer, is out of town. I'm a little scared of birds and Jaci tends to peck at you when you try to pick her up, so before I went over to check on her for the first time I figured out a strategy. I decided to bring along my leather gardening gloves so she couldn't draw blood and I wouldn't be scared to have her out of the cage.

The first time I went over to check on Jaci, I propped the cage door opened and changed her food and water. She didn't look like she wanted to come out, so I did a quick check on the rest of the house. When I got back, she was out of her cage and standing on the living room floor. I sat on the sofa, and she waddled right over to me. After that, we were friends. I've been over to see her a few times now...I still wear my leather gloves, but I'm not as scared of her anymore.

She's made friends with Joe too...

Now on to the wishes part...check out the newest page of Lauren's wish book here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dossier photos...

I finally got our dossier photos done and here they are

Tomorrow I'm off to the Secretary of State's office to have all our AZ notarized documents certified and I'm hoping to have all our paperwork ready to FedEx to our agency by Friday.

Monday, December 26, 2005

It was a great holiday!

We had a really nice Christmas this year. We spent Christmas Eve at Joe's parents' house and his Mom was discharged from the hospital just in time to spend the holidays at home, which was really great. We munched on a wonderful buffet of goodies and kept our annual tradition of watching at least one full run of The Christmas Story movie marathon.

Christmas day was at our house with my brother and his family, my Mom, and my sister-in-law's parents. We had a nice dinner on the back patio (the weather was great here in AZ) and then opened gifts.

Here's Joe helping the girls open one of their gifts Christmas morning.

The most played with gift of the night was this silly frame thingy with plastic pins that mold to the shape of whatever you push into it. Here's Katie & Emily molding their dramatic and silly poses.

Lucy was a little freaked out by all the commotion and planted herself to the side of Jim's leg for the second half of the gift opening.

Check out the cool gift my Mom gave me. It's a Mandarin Chinese travel pack which includes books and a CD with words and phrases, dictionary, menu reader, emergency expressions, etc. It will be nice to hear the pronunciations of the words on CD.

I hope everyone had a great holiday this year!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

To all my friends out there in the blogging world...Merry Christmas to you and your families and may all your wishes for the New Year come true!

It's incredible to imagine that we may have our precious daughter here by this time next year and Joe and I will have new names...Momma and Dadda! That would truly be a dream come true.

This year, we are spending this evening with Joe's family and having Christmas dinner here at our house with my family. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and watching my nieces and nephew open their make Christmas even more special.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Another wish complete...

Check out Lauren's latest wish here.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Frown turned upside down!!!

I posted a little earlier this evening that I was bummed out. Well, it's amazing how quickly my emotions can turn around! Since then, Joe walked in the door with the mail and handed me our usual stack of junk. As I'm sorting through it, I notice a US Department of Immigration envelope peeking out from between the ads. Could it possibly be it...the all important I-171H form??? Yes, it is!! Three weeks and two days after our fingerprinting!

It's a very unofficial looking form, but it does say Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. Sounds like we're approved to me!

Now, I have to head over to the Secretary of State's office and get a bunch of stuff certified. There's a goofy affidavit I need to sign and have notarized swearing that we received our I-171H and it is an original copy, and our agency said to wait until we actually get the I-171H to complete the affidavit (instead of cheating, like I wanted to do and have it done before hand).

After I get everything certified it's all off to our agency to be authenticated at the Washington, DC Chinese Consulate office. If all goes well, we'll be DTC for sure in January!


I just got an e-mail from our agency saying that the CCAA (Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs) has confirmed they are extending the wait time for families by assigning referrals for only half a month at a time. The families getting referrals this month have LID's (log-in dates) up to April 14th. The second half of April won't get their referrals until January!

Based on this, my agency is predicting that the average family's wait from LID to referral could be 8 - 9 months. When we started this process, the wait time from LID to referral was 6 - 7 months. We probably won't be DTC until late January, then hopefully LID by late February or early March. This means that now we won't get our referral until late October or late November and traveling in December or January!!!!

OH MY GOD...I really had my heart set on having Lauren home by next Christmas. This was supposed to be our last Christmas without our child. This morning I was just happily waiting for our I-171H, and now I'm totally bummed out!

My agency's e-mail goes on to also say that because of the influx of families applying to adopt, the CCAA will be raising their standards and scrutinizing the applicant families much more closely (like we haven't been poked and prodded enough with everything we've gone through to get to this point)!

I'm just really bummed out right now! :(

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

3 weeks ago...

Oh where, oh where is the 171...oh where, oh where can it be??

We went in for our FBI fingerprinting three weeks ago today and still waiting for that darn I-171H! Tick, tock...tick, tock...tick, tock. The waiting game continues...

First Wish Complete!

Check out the first completed wishes page for Lauren here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

We were ready to drop...

Joe and I offered to take our nieces (11 and 9) and nephew (3) for the day so my brother and sister-in-law could finish up their Christmas shopping this past Saturday. We had the kids from about 8:30am until 6:30pm. We started the day at a freeway opening...I know, it sounds kinda weird, but we celebrate freeway openings around here. Actually, it's a big family event with tons of booths handing out freebies and they bring in those giant jumping things for the kids. This time they brought in snow, since we don't see much of that around here, for the kids to play in.
After that, we took the kids to lunch at Applebees then back to our place for hot cocoa and cookies. By the time we finished up with that and fed the dogs, it was time to head off to the evening we had planned. We went out to a great upscale, outdoor shopping area not too far away that has a great feel during the holidays. They have Santa, carolers, and carriage rides in the center square.

The kids got to visit with Santa

then we did some shopping and got in line for the carriage rides.

I managed to get this great photo of the kids while we were there, to bad it was too late for the Christmas card photo.

By the time we got home that night, Joe and I just dropped from exhaustion! I kept asking him on the way home if he really thought we could keep up with Lauren. We sure had a hard time keeping up with our nephew...I kept looking for the "off" switch, but just couldn't find it! Also, we had a little scare at the freeway opening when we lost sight of him for about 30 seconds, which felt like 10 minutes of pure terror. He was literally there one second and gone the next...turned out he decided to go into one of those giant, blow-up jumping things all by himself. We found him in there just happily jumping away. Meanwhile, I thought I was going to have a heart do you parents deal with this? We were watching him like a hawk and he still managed to slip away from us.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bunches of Packets...

Check out all the scrapbook packets I put together tonight. I'm putting 15 packets in the mail tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I have the greatest friends ever....

Last night I had my 15th annual treat's exchange. I have a group of friends who have participated in the exchange since the beginning, but over the years I've had new people join in. Usually the exchange varies between 12 to 20 people, but this year I had a group of 13.

Everyone brings individually wrapped servings of whatever kind of treat they would like. This year we had everything from hot cocoa mix to homemade marshmallows dipped in chocolate (yum!).

Here's a look at the treat table
and previewing this year's stash
After we chowed down on the dinner buffet and started to gather around to collect our treats, Miyoung announced that since this was my last exchange (I'll be busy getting baby Lauren settled in next year), they had a surprise for me. She brought out a big container full of baby books! Everyone who came brought a baby book to start a library for Lauren! So, one by one I got to go through all the books. I was SO surprised and Lauren felt more real than ever!!

Here's a shot of the group. Miyoung (on the far right, next to the table) and Jennifer (2nd one in on the left sitting down at the table) organized "the library"
Here's a shot of me with Lauren's library

Check out these adorable board books, from Jennifer, that make a tea set
and this book, from Judy, written and signed by a local author. The author wrote "To Lauren Elizabeth, Please...Always look both ways! and welcome to Arizona"
Here's a couple of close ups of all the books

Thank you so much to all my friends at the exchange for making my last one the best ever! I absolutely LOVE all the books. Lauren is going to be one VERY lucky little girl!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Must Have Book...

I was shopping at my favorite store, Target, yesterday and found the most darling children's book on Chinese adoption. I picked it up because of the adorable cover and the baby's almond shaped eyes.

It's the story of a ladybug, named Dot, who lives in a Chinese village. One day she finds a baby girl left by the side of the road in a basket. Dot ends up traveling with the baby to the orphanage and realizes that this is the place where babies come to be found. Then one day, Dot travels with the baby to meet her mommy and daddy, they name her Shaoey and they all fly off in the plane to go home.

The book is written in rhyming verses and here's my favorite verse:
It was all making sense now! Each bed in the room
held a lost little bundle of love,
and the sound they were making is the song babies sing
when they're needing their mothers to come

Dot landed on top of her little friend's rear
and whispered, "I've got some great news!
we are where mommies and daddies come looking
to find special babies like you!

Mary Beth & Steven Curtis Chapman

I think all my fellow waiting parents will love this book. It may make you tear up a little when you read through it for the first time (like it did me), but I think it will be a great book to read with our little ones!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lots of Wishes...

I have lots of good wishes scrapbook packets going out this week. Check it out here.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Baking Cookies with Aunt Donna & Grandma...

This is Emily, Donna's niece, typing at my Aunt's computer seat. Today, my parents were out so, my sister, Katie, and I went to Aunt Donna's house. My Grandma came to watch my brother, Josh. We made cookies to pass some time. We also took pictures.

This is a picture of Josh sprinkling as many Red Hots as he can possibly fit on a batch of cookies.

Here is Katie using the cookie dough gun to design a batch of cookies.

And last, this is Marvelous Me putting sprinkles on a batch of cookies.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas Decorations...

I woke up with a mission today to get my decorating done, including all the ornaments on the tree. My hubby left for work early this morning and shortly after I found myself sipping a cup of coffee in front of the computer checking e-mail and surfing adoption blogs. I finally tore myself away from that and swung into action.

This is my entry way and Mr. Moose here greets the visitors.

Here's the tree and I've got a close up of a few special ornaments.

On one of my many trips to Starbucks for my peppermint mocha fix, I spotted thier new ornament for this year and HAD to have it.

This ornament is in honor of baby Lauren. It's a cute little glass ladybug that hangs from the center of a glass ball. Love it!

This ornament I found at a boutique. Supposedly it says love in Chinese, but I have no idea if it really does. The girl who made it gave me a internet printout that she copied the character from, so maybe it really does say love. I'm going to just assume it does. :)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Not enough time in the day!

Lately, I've been having trouble keeping up with everything between my full-time job, taking care of the dogs, cooking meals, Christmas shopping and decorating, and keeping up with the house cleaning. Actually, to be truthful, what happens is I disappear into the computer room to just do a quick e-mail check and before I know it I've been surfing adoption blogs and discussion forums for an hour or two. Everything else seems to be sliding. I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping, but I usually have my house and tree decorated by now. My house is done and the tree is up, but not decorated yet.

I think I just have the adoption on my mind and wish I can just fast forward to next Christmas when we will hopefully have Lauren here with us.

Can anyone relate to this? I sure hope it's not just me. :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's Raining Wishes...

Oh, the power of blogs...check it out here.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Weight Issue Continues...

Well, rumor has it that there was a meeting in China between the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs) and the in-country adoption agency representatives last week. My agency hasn't sent out an update yet on what was discussed, but I've heard from quite a few waiting parents who have heard from their agencies. It seems that China is NOT instituting a weight restriction right now. I'm relieved, but won't be totally relieved until I hear this directly from our agency.

With all the worrying and stress over this whole weight issue over the past couple of weeks, I just had to treat myself to something so I got this adorable Asian print bag. There's a girl at the office who makes these bags and has a variety of quilted, Asian fabrics. She makes different sizes and styles. If you're interested in ordering a bag you can contact Amber here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Where did he go?

Joe went out to the garage to fill up the dog food containers and I caught this cute shot at the door.

I had mentioned before that our greyhound, Addy, has cancer, but she is doing very well right now and will hopefully be with us through the holidays and beyond.