Monday, June 29, 2009

WE HAVE TRAVEL APPROVAL!!!!

The rush, the excitement, the emotions of what we feel each step of this journey is the coolest thing ever. And the latest excitement is our TA - Travel Approval!!! It came about a week early. So the next step is for our agency to get an Appointment (the actual adoption) with the Consulate. Then...WE BOOK THE FLIGHT!!!

If we hadn't had our I-797C we couldn't get the Appointment and then miss the trip...OMG, it's been so emotional with that. Thank you, Jesus, and thank you Sonji, Officer Hinds, our Agency, and all of the eyes and hands involved in getting that to us in time! So thankful!!!

Making lists to help calm my nerves and not forget even the smallest things we need to pack. Using Numbers on my Mac to do that, so much better than Excel. Making sure I won't lose any photos, so bringing DVDs for backups besides uploading them to Picasa, practicing making movies in iMovie so I can put this incredible journey together, loving my iPhone and so happy to have Game Apps and my iTunes all in one (for the long flight there) as well as getting the International plan for the time we will be there so I can use my email, Internet, and make and get phone calls for Emergencies on it when we're not in the hotels. Getting the house and Daisy and Archie taken care of with the sitter. Making more lists of things we want to buy for Emma while we are there to give her for milestone birthdays.

Looked up information about Changsha where we will stay the longest and so exciting. I knew Hunan was known for their HOT foods, but OMG, we can't wait to try Xiang Cuisine, one of the 8 Cuisines of China - a hot taste equal to Sichuan...perfect for us. And found out that even though Changsha isn't as rich in history as Beijing, it is very rich in the most recent history of China. Hunan is where Chairman Mao Zedong is from... Hoping to get as much information as we can about where Emma was born.

Can't wait to see and hold her!!!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wo Ai Ni - I Love You

I am so happy to find so many Asian songs on iTunes and did find this one that I have on the blog now called Wo Ai Ni which is I Love You in Mandarin by S.H.E. I will be buying more on iTunes...even though I cannot understand, really some great music and great to have for Emma and us for her culture.

Here are the translated lyrics to Wo Ai Ni:

Using your eyes to see myself, the happiest reflection.
The connection that we hold in our hands is our guidance for tomorrow.
It doesn't matter near or far
When we embrace in heaven or wander in the wilderness.
I love you, I am willing to go
To whatever life I do not know
I love you, I am willing
Allowing you to step forward and decide (and decide and decide. . .)
The end of the world
Occasionally I don't really understand you
But who really understands themselves?
Sometimes the closer two people get
Is through hurt to prove it
Like worried and uncertain, I am stubborn and demanding
Afraid to show you're afraid, so you get angry
I love you, let me listen
To when you are tired and scared
I love you, I want to kiss your heart
That is stained to the limit. . .
I hold up all the love to push back the wind and the rain
To hold back the storm, want to let you breathe
The fault that was cut
Need time to heal
Dreams are tangled with suspicion
Cannot see the future clearly
So a tight embrace can deliver through strength and courage
I love you. . .
I love you so I want to go
To the unknown, any sort of life
I love you, let me listen
To when you are tired and scared
I love you, I want to kiss
Your heart that is strained to the limit
Wherever we go, we go together
Together to look at the stars
Walk out of a forest,
Share memories
To understand jealously,
To wait for the sun after the rain
To understand ourselves better,
To find meaning together
I love you
I can't not have you
I cannot not have you
I cannot not have you

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It's Hot Here, There, and Everywhere

Wow, it takes your breath away when you walk outside. Already feels like August. Looks like we will have the same kind of weather in the Hunan province. Even Beijing is having some very high temps as well. We'll pack some dry clothes detergent so we can wash some things in the sink or tub, but will for sure be taking advantage of the cleaning service there at the China hotel at least once.
Things are going in the suit case. Have washed all of Emma's things that we will bring including the bottles/parts, clothes and blankets. Have everything lined up and ready to be packed. Should be hearing something soon about travel date. Although they did say it would probably take 5 weeks after China received our Acceptance letter, so that would be the week of July 6th. Not delaying on buying and packing because I have a feeling when we get travel approval, we will be leaving very soon after that.

And packing my laptop so I can keep up with pictures, videos, and the blog...

Here is a sample of what our itinerary will look like:

  • Depart the USA
  • Arrive into Beijing
  • Sightseeing
  • Depart Beijing for Emma's province
  • Will be in Emma's province about 5 business days
  • Fly to Guangzhou for US Consulate Date visit. Complete Emma's medical exam, Consulate visit, and Oath ceremony
  • The day after the Oath ceremony, depart for the USA out of Guangzhou unless the Consulate doesn't get Emma's Visa ready, then delayed 1 or 2 days

Very quick overview of how it will go. I think it's going to fly by. Although, the 5 days in the province they say are the most relaxing and no schedules, just the forms for the Consulate to complete the adoption...so that is a time to take care of sick babies, rest, or just hang out...knowing us...we'll be ready to come home! I miss my cats so much when we leave. But can't help but think how perfect the timing is for all of this...I can get around so much better, and I know we will really enjoy the trip and hopefully get a lot out of it. That is...hoping we can go to the orphanage where she was...it is 4 hours away from where we will stay in the province and it is a very bumpy ride...this is also the ride that Emma and the orphanage director will take to come to us on the...what is called "Gotcha Day," the day she is handed to us!

Got a couple of our Netflix movies in and as the first movie played, I looked over and saw this...quick shot with the iPhone...:)
Dennis called the vet yesterday to just let her know that Daisy has been having consistent diarrhea now...she would at least go back and forth, but not now. Still goes about 4-5 times a day. She just confirmed what we thought that it is all part of her kidney disease... Because other than that, she is happy, wants to be by us, eats like crazy (obviously ;) LOL). We just keep giving her the fluids. Other than that...she is still very senile, which is sad because she is not really that old, only a year older than Archie. She looks the other way when you talk to her and come up to her like she can't tell where you are...she gets SOOOO excited when she turns around to see you! Constantly meows and wants something...but can't tell what she wants, and for some reason, she will not come in our bedroom anymore...I think Archie's claimed it too much ;)

We'll have our pet sitter stay and look out for them both...and are trying to make the cleanups easy for her. Lots of poop going on around here and another poop butt coming soon ;)

Hoping to find out more info about Emma. Our agency sent us links of businesses doing care packages for families to their babies waiting at the orphanage. Although it is sad we won't be with her for her first birthday, but honestly, she won't know...really she won't...and to send a cake, a letter, stuffed animal, and a disposable camera for $80-$150 just was feeding too much on emotions, and no guarantee she gets any of it or the pictures. So found one that will make orphanage phone calls for $40. I put it off, but I just have to know more if I can, and for her for when she is older. So hoping to get an update of her size: weight, height, foot size, etc., and then you can ask 10 additional questions...also, photos!!! This is the site in case anyone else adopting through China and waiting for your referral or to travel would be interested. If anyone would like links to the other business, I can post or send to you. They all look very good. I will post what information the one we went with were able to provide.

Dennis will install a cat door to the room where Daisy's litter box is, hoping to ease them both into the new addition. It will be interesting.

About four weeks away from getting our Emma!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

China Bound

Thursday we got our China Visas!!! They were supposed to take about three weeks, but came in about two!
And yes, that would be the precious I-797C that Dennis holding!!!!!!! The USCIS got the FedEx Wed., and Officer Hinds called Dennis to say we could pick it up the next day!!! So met him at Starbucks so I could bring it home for safe keeping and to email to the agency. The agency said, looks good and the next time we'll hear from them will be for Travel Approval from China!!!!!
More goodies for Emma that we've ordered, some off of our own registry and others that we thought might be good in case she is at that level, like these little food containers for her to hold and eat snacks from and the little spoon for cereal.
Got this in yesterday too, ordered it from Amazon. Had the Baby Stella registered on Babies R Us, and one of my sisters got that for her along with a soft vinyl Asian baby. But I wanted to bring Emma something special for when we meet her besides the normal toys, since we are missing her 1st birthday too...made by the same company, Manhattan Toy Company, this is Sweet Pea...and she is way more cuter in person than on the website!!!!!! This company is top notch...very impressed!

This is Sweet Pea sleeping and well covered and kept warm...
This is Sweet Pea just waking up...
And this is Sweet Pea ready for a big hug from Emma!!! I just can't get over how adorable she is!!!
And speaking of adorable...Baby size Goldfish...OMG!

More stuff coming in that we ordered as we plan for the trip with a new baby in a foreign country!...
I will probably wear my hiking shoes and brace for the tours, but in Hunan where it will be the hottest, I'm hoping I can wear my sneakers (have been doing great and going longer without the brace, just don't want to re-injure myself when I've come this far) with these shorts I got at the Gap...awesome sale!!!
Dennis is getting his things together too...
And we took advantage of the sale at the Gap for Emma. The blue jean jacket was 40 something on sale for 15...the other little jacket and the blue jean are 12-18 mos. so hoping she'll get wear out of them into cooler weather. The shirts and pants were like $3 so if they don't fit, no problem!
Instead of getting a separate laundry detergent for her, just using this...will start washing her things and packing...
Time for Daisy to get her fluids...put it off way too long again. She really needed this yesterday...
Some scrapping for the latest challenge on the Scrapping the Music blog. Took the photo with my iPhone and the lyrics from the song were perfect...used a SIStv kit for this...
Pages I'm adding to Emma's book about the documents...

The latest word for the Year in the Life of an Art Journal is...Look...
Did this for the latest challenge over on Scrapping Across the Universe...which I finally added that movie to our NetFlix...I've got to see the movie now. This was based on when Maxx invites Jude home for a Holiday dinner and Jude gets caught in the middle of a family argument. So our challenge was to scrap about this based on whatever comes to mind...this was my take. I have lots of memories as young as 3 of when the whole family would go to a local seafood restaurant...and we still do it when we all get together... Used another kit from SIStv for this.
Trying my hand at some of the techniques in Claudine Hellmuth's book...love it, but two of them I just can't seem to do...other than make a mess...
My furbabies...Archie has been loving being under the grill outside and Daisy loves sleeping on top of the boxes that are full of parts for Dennis' job that are stacked up right now.
Happy Father's day by the way!!!

We had some fun going to Starbucks this a.m. with the video trying to practice some of the Mandarin we've learned. Sorry in advance as I know we don't have the tones or the pronouncements right...just trying to learn a little before the trip. Unlike anywhere else you would travel, there are not any English speaking people to be found in China to help you out, so unless you're with your guide, you're on your own. And it is fun learning a little...afterall, this is the language that Emma is hearing. Don't think that 11 mo olds can say a whole lot so don't think she is speaking Chinese ;) just in case you were thinking that our child may be super talented and speaking already.

We had to take several takes on this as you will see until we got it ;) Us just being us, I even filmed myself all naturALe with no makeup on!
video video video
video video video video

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting Ducks in a Row

From paperwork to wet wipes, we're getting things together before it's time to travel! Got my police clearance today from the agency and FedExed that off to the USCIS. So praying that we will be able to hold our new I-797C in our hands next week!

I have to see everything and then create piles and then start packing and checking things off the list. The bad thing is my list starts to branch out into other lists and can sometimes be scattered on sticky notes or a piece of paper either on the bottom of my purse or somewhere on the kitchen counter. So it was good for us both to make Yoga class last night, even though the instructor got a second wind while we were thinking aren't we at the Namaste part yet? ;) So got my thoughts together when I got home and went through all of the papers that need to be brought with us to China and put them in a neat pile. Have to get our Home Study and the Vaccination sheet for Emma notarized, waiting on our China Visas, and passports to come back. Once we get the Letter for Travel Approval from China and the new I-797C from USCIS, those will go to the pile of docs to come with us.

With all of the emotions of last week, we did go to our consultation with the pediatrician last Monday. We really loved her and know Emma will as well. She gave us lots of good information. We were so excited that we went shopping right after...

We had bought this Mei Tai style baby carrier from Baby Hawk a couple of months ago, perfect timing. Very impressed with how well made it is. It's going to be very hot in China, so we will see how this works. It is very comfortable just with sacks of flour in it ;) I have neck pains and no problems at all with it. Just will have to see how it goes when we are there. They will have strollers for us if we need one.
...on our shopping trip, picked up just a few clothes in 12 mos. sizes. Everyone I've talked to that has adopted from China has said that nothing you bring will fit because the babies are usually small for their ages. So we've heard that there are plenty of opportunities to shop. Nervous about that, so that's why we at least picked up some things that may be okay to get by with until we can get to the store. The Chinese are very particular about the way children are dressed (will come up to you and say to put some clothes on your baby), and do not like their skin showing. They like them to be dressed in layers. Which makes sense when you see those referral pics with those thick clothes on them.
The smallest thing of diapers we could find, just to have something before we can go shopping for her there...and totally making a guess on size...who knows...
Got some over-the-counter meds the pediatrician recommended as well as prescriptions for her while we are there. She said to take the temp under the arm and go up about a 1/2 or 1 degree. She and the pharmacy gave us syringes for the syrups and the doctor gave us the proper amounts to give her. The Hello Kitty Ice Pack was from my sisters when they gave us the shower. So that will be perfect since fever is one of the most common things the babies will have there. Cold and constipation are the other two. Can't find infant suppositories so will look for the children's and use half, ONLY if we have to. The doctor's main suggestion was water and apple juice.
She told us to get milk-based formula. Sometimes they are on soy. We will do what we've heard others have done and mix the American and the Chinese formula, to slowly adjust her. We will find out there what kind of rice cereal to get as well when we get her. They usually put it in the bottles with the Chinese formula and it is very clumpy so they make a very big hole in the nipple, and it pretty much just flows out right into the mouths without any sucking. It's going to be a learning experience. I'm bringing a bowl and spoon to try to see if she is willing to eat the cereal that way. Got some of the Graduate snacks and Cheerios. Most of the families say the kids eat and eat like crazy.
Well, this isn't a neat pile, but it makes sense to me and I can see what we have. We've got the suitcases down so may just start packing her things that are coming with us.

Did do shopping for us to get us prepared and feeling good. The No Jet Lag we got at the Vitamin Shoppe. It doesn't keep you awake or make you sleep, but has herbs in it to help you feel better and adjust to the foggy thinking that you can get while traveling. We had such a terrible experience going to Japan. We could not adjust for the first couple of days and missed out on so much. So this is to help and was suggested by someone else who made the trip. You take one at each take off and landing, and every two hours during a long flight, so we got two packs, one for each of us. Got the Melatonin to help you sleep when you're not used to sleeping crossing over the International time zone to start adjusting. Dennis says it's working for him. 1 pill did nothing for me, so will try 2 tonight. If still nothing, I'll just take a Benadryl. Got the Wellness Forumla to boost our Immune system about two weeks before we travel. And we've both been taking the Emergen-C which will help as well. We got 3 boxes of the chewable Pepto-Bismol. Great advice from a friend who has gone before to take two in the morning and two at night to prevent getting an upset stomach. Your tongue and stool may turn black, but once you stop, it'll go away...it's just the main ingredient in it that does that. The two most common problems people have had on the trip are headache and diarrhea, so anything to help make it a pleasant experience. Will be carrying my migraine medicine with me for sure.
I told Dennis I'm going to let him decide and do the security stuff. Because when I picked things on the registry, he said no, so he's got that job now ;) He doesn't mind one bit...:)
Did manage to get some creative therapy done...Daisy and her milk on her chin, couldn't resist the "Got Milk?" saying.
I love the way this picture of her came out...
And pages in my art journal about God answering our prayers!
Reading Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. My brother and sister-in-law got it for me off of my wish list on Amazon for my birthday. It has really helped reinforce what I've learned and makes you want to experiment even more in manual mode. Want to be able to get as many pictures of the trip, Emma, and us as I can. Although I do not know how I will be carrying her in the Mei Tai and using my SLR camera? What an experience this will be.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

God at Work Again!!!

The Adoption Officer emailed me yesterday morning to say that my fingerprints were unclassifiable again, which means that I then need to get police clearance to send to them instead. So started that ball rolling again. But calling the Bureau was kind of confusing. I don't know if procedures for them have changed or if it's the new Hague for International Adoptions that they are seeing now come through. So was feeling pretty sick about the uncertainty of what was needed. Called a few times, but every person was different. One girl said there are no rushes, it would take 10 to 20 days.

So very stressful and long story short, God is at work again. Thanks to God for putting Sonji in our path to to help us out at the Bureau. We hand delivered my forms and check to them. Sonji said to check back on Wednesday and also got our number to let us know when it goes in the mail.

So after leaving the Police building, we stopped for lunch, then Starbucks ;) In all of the emotions, I wish I would have gotten a picture of the Police building...just wasn't thinking of that at the time.
Just since getting this news of my fingerprints, we both have been so down, you could cut the depression with a knife. I've never seen Dennis like that before, but on the way home, it was totally different...

What a relief...
Dennis had popped in an old Christian CD he had listened to on the way home yesterday.
My little interview of Dennis about this song ;)
video

Our box of Born Free bottles, nipples sippies, handles, teether, and pacifiers came in today! Pricey, but we went with them anyway because the bottles convert to sippies, more bang for your buck we thought.

At about 4 p.m. I got a call from Sonji!!!! She said this is not how fast this process would normally work, it's just not done that way, but she did walk my clearance through herself, did the notarized letter, and put it in FedEx!!!!!

We were screaming and shouting, so thankful!!!!! God did it again!!!!!! Just amazing. Something that would have taken about a month, was done in one day!!!!!

So now, it has to be FedExed to our agency (it can't be sent to us), then they will FedEx to us, then we will FedEx to the USCIS to print a new I-797C...whew!!!! My heart has been fluttering bad since yesterday and I feel like I'm going to constantly throw up. It's been a stressful 3 and half years. Now to pray that the Swine Flu stays away!

Thank you to everyone for the prayers!!!!

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Life Story Book, Art Journal, Still waiting on I-797C

Missed the last two words from the A Year in the Life of an Art Journal blog.  A little catching up.

Karma
Just
Archie's face was priceless, what a day he had...even though he's got eye boogers ;)  The caption reads "The Day the Squirrel Got Away"
I wanted to add in Emma's Life Story Book the praying and the answers to those prayers taking place with our fingerprints and the new I-797C we need...inspired by Bon Jovi as well ;)
Put the email that I sent to family and the prayer my older sister wrote to us and Emma in the book as a keepsake...
Kept the envelope our fingerprint appointment was mailed in.  As soon as we finished talking with officer Hines, I didn't want to forget what had just happened, and just scribbled it really fast on the envelope...
Wanted to keep both of our fingerprint appointments that Officer Hamm gave authority for us to be taken that same day!  I still can't get over how awesome that day went!

I did email the Adoption Officer on Friday as Officer Hines said I should.  I have no doubt we'll get the document we need.  We will keep praying it gets here in plenty of time.  Not that Dennis has a lack of faith, but he wants to see that document and have it, and then he'll feel much better...he is so cute, we are both so excited and can't wait to get our girl!

And speaking of our girl, our other girl, Daisy, had a really bad couple of days with the runs and throwing up.  Need to give her fluids again.  She's finally settled down a bit.  Poor thing.   Thank God for Bleach and Lysol, and the Clean Mist Oder Neutralizer!!

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Just Enjoying the Day

Scrapbook.com has the American Craft Slick Fine Writers on sale and I go through those like crazy.  So stocked up and added some of the Basic Grey micro chipboard letters...love those!  They gave me some free ribbon with my order.  That's always nice!
Stocked up on soaps at Bath and Body Works with their semi-annual sale going on and these were about $2.   I really wished we had something like this when we traveled to Japan, so got them.  We put the lavender eye pillows we make under it and it's even better.  Making lists and thinking of more things to help with the trip...
Did this layout for my June calendar.   It's one thing to be someone's Mom, but I also don't want to lose me.  Being a "Mom" is only a role, it's not who I am.
Did this for Scrapping Across the Universe.  Loved the song title for the pictures of us signing and going on to the next step of the adoption...it's really going to happen!
And I had done this for the last Scrapping Across the Universe and forgot to take a picture and post it.  The challenge was to scrap about hanging out.  Made me think of all of us in the van with Gary squatting in the middle!
Did this layout for the latest over at Scrapping the Music:  You are Just so Beautiful 
We just keep saying that over and over, looking at her little face...used the retro modern kit from SIStv for this.
And Daisy being Miss High Maintenance as usual...she wanted up on the Entertainment center...

Oh, Queen Daisy, how may I assist you?
Well, Miss Thang a/k/a The Beast a/k/a Stinky Butt a/k/a Little One a/k/a Shaniqua a/k/a My Girl a/k/a Rug Rat is a stinky little thing.  She can't help it.  Ever since her onset of kidney failure and now doing well...she poops about 5 times a day!!!!  Most of the time she gets it in the litter box, sometimes she misses, and sometimes she just decides to go somewhere else!!!!  And with her kidney situation besides throwing up quite a lot, she has the runs a lot!  So needless to say whew, she's a stinky little thing!  This stuff from Bath and Body Works is the first thing that I've found that really helps tons with the toxic smell, doesn't cover it up, it really helps you not gag so much.  The plug in is by the box and the spray for when she does the nasty.  Awesome stuff.  B&BW didn't have the spray in the store, so took advantage of the sale and ordered the spray on Monday...got it yesterday, fast!  And just in time.  So I'm sure when we get our new little stink butt, we should kill the poop smells going on!


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