Busy Days Ahead

Whew! What a day!
Homeschooling 7:30-10:00 AM
School/Teacher's Aide Volunteer 10:00-3:15
Orthodontist 4:30
Leftovers at Mom's: 5:15
Ally's Soccer practice: 5:45
Run quick errands
Grant's Tae Kwon Do: 6:30
Evening snack/pack lunches/kids showers/bedtime: 8:00 PM
Mommy's short workout 8:00-8:30 PM
still need to clean up, shower, throw laundry in, and bedtime!


Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Today, you are officially double digits. You are growing up so fast and are doing so many things independently now. You can cook a meal. Help with the laundry. Clean a bathroom REALLY well. You do your own hair. Get embarrassed when I talk about "ta-ta's". You use phrases like, "I don't THINK so", "DUH", and "Whatever". You love spending time with your friends, and you have a ton of them. You really don't have a mean bone in your body (with some exceptions when it comes to your little brother). You are one of the hardest workers I know when it comes to your schoolwork. Collections! Oh My! There are a ton of little notes, beads, cards, snow globes, and other various items that I view very differently in your room. You say the funniest things and make us laugh. Oh, and you are nosy. You know where everything is in every house you have ever been in. You are a great swimmer, a very adventurous eater, and like reading books. You are such a helper to me in more ways than I can count, even when I get frustrated with you because you move too slowly for me! You are my little miracle that I really didn't think ever would happen to me! What a blessing you have been to us. We love you very much and you make us so very happy!
Love, Mommy and Daddy


Bowling Baby!

Tomorrow is Allyson's big day. She turns the big 10. She had some girlfriends get together for a bowling party today and they had FUN! They are silly, loud, squealing girls at this age. I can't believe that I forgot my camera! This picture of her in Bermuda with my parents will have to suffice for now. Tomorrow, for her actual birthday, we will just have a family dinner. My! Will the birthday celebration ever end? I did realize today that since she is 10 years old, we only have eight more to go. We are on the downhill slope, folks. This could be a good thing or a very, very bad thing!


Hopeful News, Maybe?

My agency called me. Yes, I said CALLED me instead of the usual email. My dossier specialist called her contact person at NBC (INS/USCIS whatever you'd like to call them). They received my application and are processing it. My fingerprint paperwork should go out tomorrow. When I receive it, we will be marching in to our local office pronto with paperwork in hand to explain our situation in hopes that the local INS officer is compassionate enough to process us! All the rest of my dossier will be sent off to my agency, expedited through through DOS/Chinese embassy, translated, and then off to China. My agency said they would handle the expedited process themselves and bill me. This kind of seems silly to me considering I live close enough to D.C. to do this myself, but my agency assures me this is the best way.

So for now, I am considering this good news for my mental health's sake!

On another note, I am really trying to delegate the kid's chores ahead of time, and they are switching chores each week. Some are done daily and some are done only specific days. They are assigned to bathroom sinks, dishwasher duty, trash duty, cleaning out and refilling lunch boxes. So far, so good. It helps that I'm not telling them every step to make and it helps me keep things up around here. Now, if I could only get the husband to pick up after himself!



The only thing that has been on my mind today (and last night) is that I only have about 40 days to have my dossier in to CCAA. Needless to say, I am stressing. Yesterday, I had my state documents authenticated and sent off out-of-state documents for authentication today. I can't stand having an "urgent" situation and not be able to do something about it. I like to get things done and done ahead of time! I'm not quite sure how long I should go before I start calling INS. (I don't want to bug too early and tick them off!) They received my packet last Tuesday, and I haven't heard anything yet. Ho-hum.... Saw the K-4 kids at school today and just noticed how little they are. I think I forgot how they are still just "babies". And to think that San'er is that little too!


School Days, School Days, O Those Golden Rule Days!

Could have titled this, "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader". The kids started school today. Yup, right in the middle of summer! Okay, so not actually the "middle" of summer but close enough. Grant is moving into "real" school, as in first grade where you don't get a snack. Allyson is moving into fifth grade where you are now considered smart enough to play a t.v. game show. I think they look pretty smart in their nice fresh school uniforms. However, Grant broke his in right away. By noon, there was orange cheetos smeared into his white shirt. I'm helping out at school a couple of times a week, so I get to see my kiddos. At this age, they think it is cool. We'll see how long that lasts!
Should have taken before and after pictures this weekend. We started painting and switching the kids' rooms. What a pain! They still aren't quite put together and won't be for a little while, but they are liveable. Allyson's room was bright pink, dark pink, and green. Very girly, but not suitable for two little boys. We had to switch rooms because Allyson has a huge room so it was logical to put the boys there instead of squishing them into Grant's room. Allyson doesn't seem to mind because it means she gets a new bed (a smaller one). I'll have to put the pics up when it is complete. I am still nervous about moving forward with things like this, but I know there just has to be some faith that everything will work out. Getting a room ready is just another step of faith.


Celebrating Gotcha Day

Just wondering how other adoptive families celebrate or remember Gotcha Day, the day a child legally enters the family. I know some families always have a cake or a card and small gift. I always thought we would do this, but I think I have grown to have a different perspective. For Grant's first gotcha day we looked through his Kazakhstan pictures and video and reminisced about all the stories of Kaz. Grant was too little to be interested, and frankly, he used to get upset and have trouble sleeping when he did see the pictures. His Gotcha Day is August 13, and although I remind him of what happened on that special day, we really just go about our normal lives. No cake or huge celebration, just a moment to remember. Our celebrations come with the kids' birthdays. Is this aweful? Am I scarring my child for life? I really don't think so. I think going on with our normal lives and not making the Gotcha Day into a HUGE deal, makes adoption a more normal thing. Allyson doesn't have a gotcha day. I've always said that adoption is simply another way a child comes into a family. It is so much more widely accepted in today's society, and we want it that way. Why set ourselves apart to make our child different? I'm not saying to NOT remember this day. It is important and should be recognized. Whether the adoptive family celebrates big or commemorates by acknowledging what happened that day, I don't think there is a right or wrong way. We just think that this works for our family.


Picture Heavy but Lots of Fun

Ocean City Fun with a landmark, Dumser's Dairyland.


Another YUM!

You guessed it, more YUM!

Then, of course, some twirly rides to make things interesting!

The guys did a lot of this.

Great time with family, missing Ally a ton though. She and my parents are on their way back a little early due to the Hurricane headed to Bermuda. I feel like I'm ready for the school rush now that I've had some beach time. We'll see if I still feel the same way on Monday!


Let's Boogie!

Hit the beach again and Grant boogied the day away. We usually only see his feet sticking out of the water and his head is submerged after a wave tackles him. He gets up, usually shouting out "Sweet" or "totally awesome"! It doesn't faze him one bit.

He built sand castles and took home most of the beach sand in his pockets.

And "Maude" here, AKA Lady Di, took her leather handbag to the beach and complained that it was getting sandy and wet. Who takes their pocketbook to the beach anyway? Too funny, my aunts crack me up.

We've had a ton of late nights playing Dominoes. Grant loves playing and stayed up past midnight. Probably hitting the boards tonight for some junk food and plan on NOT thinking about cutting out carbs next week! Anyone else love the boards?


I800a is Off and Running!

This morning my mom checked my mail and found the necessary paperwork to send off my I800a! Yipee! With the average processing time, it would give me a clearance around Oct. 1. That's kind of a problem considering my CCAA deadline is Oct. 6. Let's pray for a miracle!

So today, I enjoyed a lovely day at the beach watching this:

And enjoyed relaxing with this:

Then enjoyed these:

With these wonderfully crazy people:

Some may notice my baby girl missing from the pics. No worries, she is with my parent and is getting ready to leave on her big "double digit" trip. She is turning 10 and is having a special trip to Bermuda. Nice present, huh?
Friends have talked to us over the years about adoption and any advice we could give them. One of the things I tell them is to plan a vacation to relieve stress! You just need to keep busy during the months of waiting and get away and relax despite spending the extra money during the adoption.


I Need a Vacation!

Pool filter: check
Homestudy: check
placing agency license and cover sheet: NOPE
Contractor: check
Mailed I800a: NOPE
Haircut: NOPE

Going on vacation to the beach: You BET!
Obviously, there is nothing else I can do at the moment. My I800a packet is ready to go sans placing agencies paperwork. Hopefully, it will come tomorrow and my mom will be able to mail it out for me. Otherwise, I'll just drive home on Monday to take care of it myself.
I've realized how many complaining posts I have had this week and should be ashamed of myself. Next week will be better. I have done everything that I can possibly do short of flying to ...... where my placing agency is.
Don't know if I'll be posting on vacation or not, but will return with a happier attitude!


Tomorrow is another day.......

No homestudy
No kitchen sink or dishwasher
No pool filter
No cover sheet or notarized license from my placing agency

Surprisingly enough, none of the people involved with the list above work for the federal government! It seems for someone who was so busy today, I accomplished nothing. I looked over my homestudy and found two errors that somehow got missed. She is bringing the corrected pages tomorrow. My contractor forgot about me. Nice. My dad once again came and crawled under the house looking for gunk in my pipes. He found some but the job isn't finished. He worked until he had to go to his paying job. My DH worked on my pool filter pretty much all evening. He did get the replacement part on, but we have to clean out the sand in the filter.

So tomorrow, I'm hoping for the mail to come early with my necessary papers, a social worker to come by early with my corrected homestudy, a contractor to come by early to fix my clogged pipes, a pool filter to start working, and my I800a mailed. Oh, why not.....I'm hoping for a haircut too. Might as well wish big, right?


Holding My Breath

On Monday, my sink overflowed after running the dishwasher. I came home to fine oodles of water all over my wood floor. Dad came to the rescue and worked on it Monday night, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday. He worked very hard and tried everything with no luck. I'm afraid that something must be terribly wrong if my Dad can't fix it. So tomorrow, we have a friend/contractor coming to help. I hate camping, and washing dishes in a bathroom sink resembles camping way to much for me. The water works continued with my pool filter. I tried to backwash it today and messed up a gasket. The water was shooting out of it, leaving my pool and wouldn't stop! Uh-oh! I had to shut it down and close off the filter, then headed to the pool store to buy a new gasket for my husband to replace it. At this point, I'm kind of afraid of taking a shower for fear what other water issues will come about!

On another note, I am still waiting for snail mail to deliver a cover sheet/agency license from my placing agency so I can mail my I800a form. Hopefully the next waterworks issues won't be from my tears of frustration!


Homestudy--complete and approved!

I received word that my homestudy has had the final approval from my placing agency. Our social worker is delivering it tomorrow! Unfortunately, I am still waiting to receive a notarized agency license and cover sheet from my placing agency. It was snail mailed on Monday. Once again, I am hoping that my I800a can be mailed out Thursday or Friday.

I spoke with my placing agency on Monday regarding my concerns with the timeline and not being able to meet my CCAA deadline. My dossier specialist seems to think that we will get it done on time. Hmmm.....kind of counting on her to be right. For now, I honestly do not want to think about the "what ifs". I am just tired of worrying over something that I cannot change. I will do everything that I possibly can to expedite everything and let God take over. This is easier said than done!

We had a ton of those moments when God just made things happen with our Kazakh adoption. I remember one instance when we had been trying literally all day to get Grant's exit visa. Grant, myself, and 2 coordinators worked on several employees. I really don't know what the exact problem was. I do know they put money in envelopes and it did not help one bit. Surprising for Kazakhstan! Our last hope was the director who was also a military official. My Kazakh coordinator, myself, and Grant sat in a small waiting room hoping the director would agree to see us. During our 45 min. wait, Grant who only had juice, bananas, and cookies for lunch, filled his diaper. (His lunch was what I could find at the street vendor outside the visa office) Evidently, his diaper (my last one) could not quite hold, uh, everything. You get the picture. So Bolat, my coordinator, handed me papertowels to try to hold Grant. Needless to say, all three of us stunk! Not only that, but just as the secretary said we could go in to discuss our case, Grant threw up everything else he had left. Yet another lovely smell to add to the mix. Bolat ushered us into the office and told me to let him do the talking. The military official looked a bit disgusted with us to say the least. Bolat then proceeded to tell him that this child needed to be seen by an American doctor and that he was sick. Just going by the smell alone, the official had to agree! We got our exit visa and were out of there in 30 minutes flat! Ahhh, good times!


Growing UP!

Notice anything new?
Allyson has her braces! She isn't that excited about them; funny, I wasn't so excited about their pricetag! However, I think they just make her even cuter.
Quips of a 6 yr old:
Grant is six years old and would seriously love it if I carried him around everywhere. He asked me to pick him up and carry him in the mall the other day. Now, I'm 5 ft. 2 and, ahem, so many pounds; not a particularly tall girl. Carrying a six year old is not that easy! I told him that I have a hard time carrying him and that he should just stop growing so big. He said "okay". When I asked him how he was going to do that, he replied, "I'll just hide on my next birthday!".

Told you he was smart.



Saw this quote in church today:

Faith is not believing that God can, but that God WILL.
~ Abraham Lincoln

Our faith grows with every trial and difficult time that we go through. With each new trial we can lean on the increased faith that we have as a result of those past trials. We just need to look back and remember all those difficult times that God carried us through and made things happen and know that He WILL do it again!


Success! Sort of...

I finally figured out how to make my blog three columns. Don't even ask how long it took me. Yes, I realize that my header is in need of repair. I can't seem to be able to adjust the header size without blurring the pictures. I then downloaded paint.net to try to readjust, but no luck. Guess I will have to either find a tech savy friend or just learn to be content!

Speaking of being content, I'm not. I absolutely cannot stand having a hang up with paperwork and not be able to do anything about it. Getting our Maryland clearance was great, but without a homestudy and I800a form mailed, I'm no better off. Which has just left me, well, grumpy! Just ask my husband. He even took me to the mall, but it did no good. Still grumpy.

What was that ringing in my ears? "For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content", Philippians 4:11.
Okay, so I'll try harder tomorrow!


Hints from Heloise

If you look closely at this very bad picture, you will see an ink mark on my leather upholstery in my car. I did not realize Grant took his soduko and a PEN with him. He inadvertently scribbled. Now, I did get a lot of it out, but it is still very noticeable. The picture doesn't do it justice. I read on-line that hairspray and alcohol works well. I tried the hairspray with little result. The alcohol seemed to work the best. I did use the leather cleaner and conditioner hoping to prevent it from drying out too much. So, Heloise, are you out there? Any Helpful Hints?

Adoption news...there really is none. My clearance was faxed, but I hsave no homestudy. What are chances that USCIS will be merciful and speed up my approval when I FINALLY do send my I800a in?



We were given a 3 month deadline in which to have our dossier into CCAA's hands. That deadline is Oct. 6. Things would have been fine if I had been told that I needed clearances from every state we lived in since we were 18 yrs old. However, that tidbit of info came a day late and a dollar short. Social services of Maryland doesn't seem to answer their phone or return phone calls. If we do not make this deadline, it is not for lack of trying. I have emailed (and gotten responses) ALL DAY today. I am just discouraged right now. Our placing agency has put my homestudy review on the fast track and I still have had no luck with Maryland. At this point, I just want them to give my homestudy agency a verbal okay over the phone, so that everyone gives me the green light to send my I800a. Who knew that my nagging skills would be so handy!


On another note, I stooped to a whole new low. My daughter had a playdate and the girls just wanted to be left alone to play dolls. My son, being the good little brother he is, bothered the heck out of them. So I bribed him to stay downstairs with chocolate. It worked and everyone was happy. Who knew that my bribing skills (of which I learned in Kazakhstan) would be so handy!

And to Anonymous who is interested in a bubble tea treat: It is a cold tea with milk and often flavored (green tea, almond, coconut, etc). The Tapioca pearls at the bottom are just that, Tapioca. They do not really taste like much and are a little chewy. The drink is usually very sweet. Try it! They are yummy!




I am waiting…somewhere far, far away…on the other side of the world.
I may not know who you are or what you look like.
But somehow, deep in my heart, I know you are out there.
That one day you will come and find me.

It's a long journey, and it takes a lot of time.
I wish it could be easier.
But I know that the ones who come for me will not count the cost.
They will only see the joy of finding me.

For now I abide in the fields of the fatherless.
Day by day wondering, "Why was I born here and not somewhere else?"
Asking, "Why couldn't my life have been different?"
It is so lonely…

Even though I am surrounded by hundreds of other children,
I know that something is missing.
I know in my heart I need a place to call home.

My arms long to be wrapped in a father's embrace…
I long to be saved by a mother's love.
Gazing out the orphanage window, I offer a prayer of hope,
"Oh God, please help them come quickly."

Even as I lay in the darkness each night somehow I feel assured.
That no matter how lost I appear I am not alone.
Holy hands guard my steps; sacred fingers wipe my tears…
Touching my lonely heart.

The one who made me,
The God who knew me before I was born,
Hears me every time I call.
He whispers His promises in my ear.
I listen with hope to His voice.

But what I worry about most is that no one wants to look for me.
The fields are vast, and there are so many scattered all over the earth.
I wonder how one little child, so lost, can be found.
Yet He calms my heart and assures me that He will find you.
That He will make sure you hear His voice clearly.
He has promised me that He will make a way through the fields.
That He will personally cut a path, and lead you right to my orphanage door.

My prayer is…
When He speaks, please don't forget to listen.
When He calls, don't be too afraid to go.
For I am waiting…somewhere far, far away.

from All God's Children's Newsletter. No author noted.


Beyond Frustrated

So I really do not think I will be getting my homestudy this week. My dossier specialist is out until Monday. The social worker at my placing agency that was supposed to be reviewing the homestudy for approval evidently became seriously ill. I resent it so a different social worker could review it. Eric's Maryland child abuse clearance is taking longer than an FBI clearance. Seriously, someone needs to give me a break and just cooperate. Ahhh, the wonderful world of adoption!


Bubble Tea, Noodles, and a Didi, Please!

I thought I needed to explain my blog's title of "Bubble Tea, Noodles, and a Didi, Please". You see, originally, we thought we were headed to Taiwan, hence, the bubble tea. I lOVE bubble tea and have quite a friendship with our local bubble tea man. I love the stuff. so it only seemed appropriate. Now that we are headed to China, it doesn't really fit. Bubble Tea originated in Taiwan and has spread throughout Hong Kong, U.S., and Canada. Any suggestions for what to replace it with?

FYI: Didi is Mandarin Chinese for "little brother".


1, 2, 3 strikes you're out..................

We packed up the kids and headed to the Blue Rocks game, our local minor league team because a donation of the tickets were given to the Arthritis Foundation. We enjoyed the game, but mostly ate, and ate.....

AND ATE!!!!!

With all that food, well, you know. Little man said he had to go. I told him to wait a few minutes, but then he said he "HAD TO GO". I said, "Okay, hold on". He then announced to section F that he had to "go number TWOOOOO!" Nice. So being the dutiful dad (no pun intended), Eric took him to the bathroom. One inning, 4 runs, and one homerun later, they were back. I'm still chuckling. Now pass the fries!


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