Wednesday, July 28, 2004

True safety

I think that Jen Lemen is a great writer. To be a great writer is nothing if you don't have good ideas to work with. They might be your own or they could be someone else's. Jen's are her own and she expresses them beautifully. Here is an example (it's kinda long, but worth it)

My first thought while reading her post is that her confession of why she's not a good mother (in the traditional sense) isn't how I see things. I'm the opposite of Jen in MANY ways - I am not an artist, I'm not a free-thinker, I like to color between the lines and I rarely veer outside of myself to take an unknown side road just to see what's there to find. I expect to be the kind of mother whose children have combed hair and clean rooms and 3 square meals a day plus 2 healthy snacks. But I hope to grow as a parent into someone who also nurtures their souls the way that Jen describes she does.

My second thought while reading her post is that I'm surprised that she and I share in the wonderment of how to raise children to have true faith while questioning our own (I was pretty sure she had that all figured out.) I have a lot of questions about God, about Jesus, about my role in their world, about "salvation", about... well, you name it. I understand that kids understand concrete concepts, but I can't formulate my beliefs into concrete concepts. I don't know what I believe half the time. So how will I tell my children what I believe? I think about that a lot. I have some ideas and I expect it'll all work out in the end (they'll have plenty of other people to help them along, as well as God, of course) but it's not something I can wrap my brain around right now.

Here is a great thought from jen:

but the words kept flowing out of me. they still do. and i wonder sometimes now if they are deeper truths of my soul. the things i really believed deep down before i grew up and got smarter and learned words to quantify love. i wonder if the truth of madeleine's innocence called out the truth of mine, that deep down i remembered somewhere that perfect love does cast out all fear. that true safety lies in the confidence that i am always present in the arms of God. no matter what.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The End of the Road for the 2004 Tour

The 2004 Tour de France is over. Complete. Fini. I miss it and I look forward to next year's Tour. In the meantime, I'll point you to some better writers than I who can more interestingly fill you in on some cool stuff:

  • Christian Vande Velde is an American cyclist who rides for a European team and he authors a Rider's Diary at VeloNews's website. Go to the diaries page to read all of the diaries, but select an entry by Vande Velde to read a more raw description of life in the peloton.

  • VeloNews also contains a section called Tour Tech. Yes, it's heavy on "tech," but there are some questions answered that are less-technical, including why the yellow jersey presented on the podium zips up the back while the yellow jersey worn during the race zips up the front.

  • Don't miss the entertaining prose of Crazy Jane's Le Tour Delicieux (that's "The Delicious Tour" for those of you who don't speak French.) She knows her stuff - about handsome men in lycra as well as the entire sport of road cycling.

  • Nobody makes you feel like you're at the Tour while sitting at your computer more than Graham Watson. His stunning photography shows us the peloton streaking through fields of sunflowers and grimacing over the mountains. The photos of stage 20 include Chechu Rubiera riding with his champagne glass between his teeth and Floyd Landis lying flat on his back after attempting to pull a wheelie.

The only kind of fun shopping

Kevin's clothes are on their way to Ohio, where they'll be packed into a suitcase and taken to Guatemala City. It was so much fun to pick them out for him! We bought a shirt and a pair of pants at Children's Orchard and then I found a pair of sandals on clearance at Kohl's yesterday. That's all we're sending for now. We'll wait to hear whether we can send more stuff. I don't expect that we'll get a picture of him wearing the clothes we're sending, but that would be super cool if we did. Speaking of pictures, I should start putting some photos together so that when it's time to send him information about us (once the process is farther along) we'll be ready.

Friday, July 23, 2004

We're sending clothes to Kevin

We received word that our adoption agency's director and the Latin American program coordinator are traveling to Guatemala and will be able to take items with them from families here in the U.S. Know what that means? We get to send some clothes to Kevin :-)

We still don't have his updated measurements but at this point, we'll just buy a couple of things that will hopefully be close to fitting and see what happens. What fun we'll have picking something out for him!

And there, isn't it nice to see a post about something that somebody other than myself is interested in?

While I'm on the subject of things that I'm interested in, have I told you lately how awesome Lance Armstrong is? He's the man. Check out tomorrow's TV coverage of the Tour de France on Outdoor Life Network if you have a chance. Tomorrow is the last individual time trial, which will be exciting to watch. Sunday is the last day of the 3-week long race, so you should check that out, too. Even if you don't LOVE Le Tour like I do.

Today so far

This morning I woke up feeling better than I have since Tuesday. I still am sick, but the most annoying symptoms have morphed into less annoying symptoms. I'm still hoping to stave off an upper respiratory infection and, by the looks of things today, I am on the mark.

I sat down at my desk at 7:00 am not sure when I'd get the call from the chimney guys to let me know they were on their way to our house. Until I got the call around 11:00 am, I was able to get a fair amount of work done. I figured out a problem that has been frustrating me and determined that my lone PHP application is good to go with the latest version releases. Phew, that's a weight off my back, although it was an addition to my To Do list, so getting it figured out hasn't helped my workload all that much.

I also kept up-to-date with today's Tour de France stage. I read that Lance Armstrong was moving ahead with an attacking rider, Filippo Simeoni, who was 2 hours and 42 minutes (!!) behind Lance in the overall standings. Lance had no tactical reason in the race to be matching Simeoni's breakaway, so I emailed a friend who has been taping the TV coverage for me and asked what the commentators were saying about Lance's reason for bridging to the escape group. I didn't get any answers until I read this article at VeloNews after today's race. It turns out that Armstrong had a non-Tour-related beef with Simeoni and he was, in fact, thanked by other members of the peleton for making a stand. After Armstrong and Simeoni returned to the peloton, Simeoni remained at the back of the field for the majority of the race.

So, back to the chimney work... I received the call and headed home to find a couple of guys standing on our roof. They checked some things out and pondered the removal of our wood stove (which wasn't installed properly and is way out of code for various reasons.) They had to wait for the other two guys and then it took all 4 of them about 45 minutes to get the gosh-darned heavy stove out of our house and into the back of one of their pickup trucks. Phew!! I won't detail all of the issues remaining with our chimneys, but I will say that the crew will be back more than 1 day to take care of things. It's all in the name of fire safety, though, so it's worth it to us.

I'm about to head out to run errands. Tomorrow is my brother's birthday and we're getting together with my family to celebrate his, my dad's, and my birthdays, which all fall within a week of each other. I need to get my brother's and dad's gifts and some ingredients to help with the food preparation. I also will stop by my aforementioned friend's house to pick up a couple of Tour de France videos and I'll drop off their portion of our CSA veggies from this week's pickup.

This evening I will either work on some crafts or continue putting our house "back together" since our relatives left.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

My new favorite medicine

On Tuesday morning, I woke up with a sore throat. I had inklings of sinus congestion in my head and ears. Afraid of the ensuing upper respiratory infection, I took Mucinex, which I recently discovered at my local Rite Aid store. It is a bottle of extended-release tablets containing guafenesin, which is an expectorant. I can't take decongestants because they make me loopy and I can't sleep, so I'm used to drinking cough syrup every 4 hours when I need to relieve my congestion. Now, I can take one pill and be set for 12 hours! While I think I'm destined to get an infection this time anyway, my symptoms feel better and I'm hopefully staving off a worse infection by taking the expectorant.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Armstrong Crushes L'Alpe d'Huez!

From VeloNews's Live Coverage comes this fantastic bulletin:

5:37 p.m. - Oh wow... Lance Armstrong finishes with a time of 39:41 - 1:01 better that Ullrich.

Woohoo!! Lance won the time trial and added even more time to his overall lead! Who's the man?!?!

Our wait may be longer than we expected

Guatadopt includes a post about the length of time that visa pre-approvals are taking in Guatemalan adoptions. We're about to begin that segment of our process, so this is news to know. Apparently the US Embassy in Guatemala is understaffed and can't process visa pre-approvals in the time that they used to.

This portion of the process involves the Embassy providing pre-approval for Kevin's visa to travel into the U.S. when we bring him home. He'll have a Guatemalan passport with a visa to come here. When we travel to Guatemala, we'll go to the Embassy for the "exit interview" to receive final approval for the visa and then we'll go back to pick up the visa. The Secretary General's office (PGN) will not give our adoption final approval until the Embassy has provided pre-approval for Kevin's visa. Once those two pieces come together (Embassy visa pre-approval and PGN approval) then our adoption will be final and we will be notified that it's time to travel. It appears that our expected timeline will need to stretch out a bit.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Lance Armstrong dons yellow jersey #61

I can’t hide it any longer. I must confess. My name is Dianne and I’m a Tour de France fanatic! That said, I’m going to continue with my Tour de France posts. If you’re not yet a Tour fan, what’s wrong with you?? I’m sorry - what I meant to say is that if you’re not yet a Tour fan, don’t worry - Le Tour will be over this Sunday and I'll be back to my usual calm and quiet self.

Last Saturday, on my birthday and as my birthday present, Andy and I went to Ballston Commons movie theater to watch Le Tour on the big screen. It was a hoot. And I mean that literally. The theater was filled with cycling fans and we all hooted and hollered (as I’d hoped) while watching the race coverage. It was a bummer that Tyler Hamilton (whose non-profit foundation put on the big screen viewing), had to pull out of the race that day, but it was for good reason. The poor guy injured his back pretty bad in a crash earlier in the race and was unable to contribute to the team once the race went vertical in the Pyrenees. It was exciting to see Lance win the stage, though, pulling ahead of Ivan Basso at the last moment. Even more thrilling was seeing Thomas Voeckler pedal his big heart out to keep the yellow jersey for another day. He earned the maillot jaune in Stage 5 and worked to keep it each day since then. This guy’s name wouldn’t have even been mentioned in this year’s Tour if it weren’t for his performance in the breakaway group of Stage 5. He’s certainly the underdog hero of 2004 and people the world over are cheering his gusto.

Today finds Armstrong taking the yellow jersey away from Voeckler, but later in the race than expected. Now Voeckler will wear the white jersey as the best “young rider” (under 25) in the overall classification. Go Voeckler! You’ve got the heart and drive of a champion!

Tomorrow is going to be interesting. It will be the first time trial UP L’Alpe d’Huez. Time trials are often on flat or rolling terrain and the riders start at different times. This means that each rider is racing against the clock as fast as possible rather than attempting to race directly against other riders. Time trials are shorter in length and extremely physically demanding. Tomorrow’s will be up a huge mountain that is famous even when it is nestled in the middle of a normal, long stage of the race. Who will blow out too fast and who will leave too much time to make up at the end? We’ll only know as the stage unfolds - all guesses, hypotheses, and other predictions are just that... nobody can say for sure what will happen because we’ve never seen this before. I can’t wait!

And if you're interested in reading some fun stuff about the Tour, check out Crazy Jane's Le Tour Delicieux blog. Her writing is hilarious but she knows a lot about the Tour and its riders, so it's packed full of good info. Enlightening AND entertaining!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Sweet sleep

I'm tired. One would think that my nap on Saturday afternoon would've helped combat the tiredness I acquired to that point. However, I got a few phone calls during that hour I was hoping to rest peacefully while our niece and nephew were with their grandparents. So why didn't I catch up on sleep Saturday night? Because I was welcomed into the world of The Waltons with a DVD viewing of the episode titled "The Reunion." I'd never seen The Waltons before and I didn't realize that it was an hour-long show. By the time we got downstairs, I was already pooped. I didn't want to ruin the excitement of everyone else at the chance to witness my first Waltons episode, so I propped my eyelids open and made it through to the end of the show.

Sunday morning came quickly and the day was filled with people. These are people that I not only love because they're family, but that I also like and would even if they weren't family. But still, they are people. And a lot of people implies that at the end of the day, I will be tired. Exhausted. Empty. And tired I was. And am. And will be until, hopefully, tomorrow evening, when I get the chance to lay down in bed at 10:00 pm without the noise and commotion of children who aren't ready to go to sleep but want to jump around on our bed instead.

I will miss Maria, Andrew, and Laura Beth, who have been with us for the past 2 weeks. I will miss Laura Beth's hugs and Andrew's stories of what he saw and thought was funny during the day. I will miss the full refrigerator which will empty quickly after they leave and likely won't be replenished with great fervor.

Last year when the Coxes visited for just a week, I was also glad to return to a less frenetic and quieter life, but I really missed them when they were gone. They left early in the morning before I was out of bed and when I got up, I was sad that there was nobody who needed me to make breakfast for them. It was after that visit that I realized I was ready (if that's truly ever possible, but you know what I mean) to have children of our own. That was the beginning of the end of our quiet, peaceful life. We still have a couple of months left of peace and quiet, but we're sure to embrace it and appreciate it while we have it. And what better way to celebrate than sleeping.

Friday, July 16, 2004

I know this isn't a Tour de France blog, but....

Here are some clips from today's Tour de France stage newsflashes from the official site of the Tour de France.

16 H 59 - Armmstrong Attacks

With 3km to climb, Armstrong has decided that it's time to attack. He is being followed by Basso. Up ahead is Sastre, but we don't have a time check at this stage.

17 H 00 - Basso Matches Armstrong

Lance is out of the saddle and pedaling his rapid cadence in pursuit of Sastre. The team-mate of the stage leader, Basso is still seated and is matching the effort of the US Postal rider easily.

17 H 05 - Basso & Armstrong In Final Kilometer

Ivan Basso and Lance Armstrong are now less than 1km from the end of the stage. Kloden has caught Sastre and in 5th place is Mancebo.

17 H 07 - Lance & Ivan Side By Side...

With 500m to go, Armstrong and Basso are side by side. Lance is driving the pace and Ivan is matching him while still sitting in the saddle...

17 H 08 - Basso Comes Forward

Ivan Basso is now attacking and chasing the stage win. It seems that Armstrong is content with 2nd...

17 H 08 - Ivan Basso Wins Stage 12!

Ivan Basso has beaten Lance Armstrong to win the 12th stage of the 2004 Tour de France.

17 H 17 - Lance Into 2nd Overall...

Lance's second place is enough to push him up to 2nd place overall, 5'24" behind Thomas. The complete top 10 will be posted as soon as it's been caulculated.

Can you feel the excitement?! It's about time that something fun, interesting, and exciting happens in this year's Tour, besides a bunch of crashes. Nobody likes a crash. But we all like to watch a champion move ever closer to grand victory.

I have to mention the current overall standings, besides the fact that Armstrong moved up to 2nd place. The German legend, Jan Ullrich, lost 2 minutes and 30 seconds to Armstrong today. Woah... this could be serious. Remember that last year Armstrong won only by 1 minute - over the entire 3-week race! Now, this surely doesn't rule Ullrich out of contention. But it does make one wonder whether Ullrich really couldn't hang with Armstrong or whether Ullrich is, in his usual fashion, holding his cards so close to his face that he has to peer at them with crossed eyes. Perhaps this Ullrich character is so sure of his eventual victory that he didn't mind losing the time to Armstrong because he knows that he'll make it up by leaving Armstrong behind in a future stage? Well, I seriously doubt that, because I can't see why anyone would even considering allowing Armstrong an extra nanosecond, let alone 2 minutes and 30 seconds. He's closed further gaps many a time. It is fun to consider what's going on in their heads though, isn't it?

Tomorrow's stage, #13, should be a good one. And I hope it is because I would love nothing more than the chance to scream and cheer at the movie screen with a bunch of Tour de France fans while an exciting stage unfolds in the Pyrenees. It's gotta be better than stifling my cheers and high-fives while reading newsflash updated on the Web at my desk at work.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Oh yeah, I'm seein' Le Tour on le big screen

I'm going to see the Tyler Hamilton Foundation's Tour de France Loud, Large and Live presentation on my birthday this Saturday! Wow!! I'm so excited!!!

Don't tell anyone that I just registered for tickets while wearing my Lance Armstrong Foundation t-shirt. Shhh....

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Another Adoption Step

This morning I faxed a DNA test request from the embassy and payment authorization to North Carolina. This means that Kevin and his birthmother will submit DNA samples that will be sent to NC for testing for a match. It will be a couple of days before the test is done and then 1-2 weeks until we receive the results.


It's all about the person in charge

Jen Lemen wrote a post about her concern over the senate paper that critiques the intelligence used to justify Bush's decision to go to war in/with Iraq.

Her post ends with the following:

we can't turn our brains off on this one. it makes you wonder if there are any other quiet hunches lurking in the bush administration that can be translated into public policy without any real foundation, open public debate or even common sense? i really don't want to find out.

I think this translates into any administration, whether it's a government, a homeowner's association, or a church. How many "quiet hunches" lurk inside the minds of pastors, leadership team members, deacons, elders, whomevers... that become group policy without any forum for those who will be affected to learn about the decisions that will be made for them or to provide any input?

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Tour de France "Loud, Large and Live"

Check this out!

The Tyler Hamilton Foundation with Regal Cinemas and Outdoor Life Network are showing Stage 13 of the Tour de France LIVE on the BIG SCREEN this Saturday, July 17th.

See the flyer for locations, cost, etc.

I think this would be a perfect birthday present for me, don't you?

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Different, yet the same

On Friday, I received my first issue of Adoptive Families magazine, which my parents bought me for my birthday. I have read most of the articles already and I love it! There are articles for people in all situations of adoption - birth families, adoptive families, people considering adoption, people in the middle of their process, people who are waiting for a referral or placement, etc. It's very informative and helps me feel like there is a huge support group who knows what I'm going through and knows what it is that I need to know. I'm a researcher so I love reading and learning about what to expect in the next phase of our adoption or even years down the road.

While reading the magazine, I feel like yelling, "Yea, adoption!" and proclaiming that yes, there are major differences between our family and and most other families because we are adopting our children. But then my mind pulls back that thought because I don't want to separate us from everyone else. When Kevin comes home, we will be a real family just like any other family, birth or otherwise. We will face 99% of the same issues that any other family faces: choosing the right pediatrician, deciding what type of daycare to use, determining the best way to handle temper trantrums, etc. And because I think that adoption does create families as natural as birth families, I want to make sure that other people realize that as well. So I feel the need to make our family look just like any other family. And yet there are things that we will face that are different than other families because we're adopting. So I want people to understand those issues, too.

I think that this is similar to a struggle that I have with displaying my Christianity to the people around me. I want to live my life with love, peace, acceptance, grace, and justice - but I don't want to be so far out of touch with my neighbors that they don't feel like they want to experience that way of life also. I want to seem enough like them that they think of me as one of them and therefore take me seriously, but I can't be so much like them that they don't see God in me or a difference in my life from theirs that makes them desire something more.

It feels like a back-and-forth type of thing to me, but I wish that it could be a both-at-the-same-time type of thing. I think that there are people who can do that, but I don't know how to.

More Tour de France

This afternoon I watched a FULL HOUR (note sarcasm) of Tour de France coverage on CBS. As I've previously mentioned, I don't have cable or a dish or anything other than rabbit ears on my television, so I don't get to view the whopping amount of coverage (note lack of sarcasm) by Outdoor Life Network every day of the Tour. They have live coverage during the race and then a prime time wrap-up - every day. Needless to say, the 60 minutes (how much is it really after commercials?) of coverage that I witnessed this afternoon was lame - the amount was lame and the wasted 3 minutes spent interviewing Sheryl Crow was lame. Come on, people - do you interview anyone else's girlfriends or wives? I don't need to hear from Ms. Crow that Lance is a focused athlete.

Ranting aside, the Tour is still going well from this follower's perspective. However, I find the number of crashes this year to be unnerving. Hopefully the pack will be spread out once they hit the mountains and the bike-to-bike combat will subside. Tomorrow (Monday) is a rest day from the race, but that only means that instead of their ride times counting toward their final standings, they get to ride "just for fun" to keep their pistons firing. They surely won't be sitting around watching TV and eating ice cream on their day off.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Freecyclin' in the USA

That’s FREEcycling, not recycling, not bicycling... I recently joined a local freecycling email group and this afternoon I’m headed to pick up a free item from someone who lives near me that I don’t know. The idea of freecycling is to give away items that you no longer want and to take items that other people no longer want. This is person-to-person and you don’t have to fuss with collecting enough stuff to hold a yard sale or driving around to yard sales (although yard sales have their place and I’m not dissing them.) Many people freecycle without realizing it on a small basis among friends and family. For instance, we’ll borrow a lot of Kevin’s clothes from family and friends who have children that have already passed through Kevin’s size range or who are not yet there. Maybe you bought new patio furniture but the old furniture isn’t ready for the trash, it just needs a new place to call home so you give it to your younger sister who just bought her own house.

The idea of freecycling isn’t new, but the organized freecycling community via Yahoo! email groups is. Check out for details.

Armstrong Not in Yellow!

You read it right, folks. Lance Armstrong lost the yellow jersey in the Tour de France today. But before you get depressed or start calling him names, consider this: there is no need for Lance to be in 1st place overall at this point in the race. Remember, this race is 3 weeks long. That's a lot of riding. And there are still many mountains to climb. If Lance and the US Postal squad were to hoof it in the beginning stages of this race just to get and keep the yellow jersey now, it would lessen their chances of reaching peak form by the mountainous stages and at the end of the race. Also, the riders who broke away from the peloton and finished 3-9 minutes ahead of Armstrong overall are not expected to be able to hang with the big guns* when the mountain stages arrive. All of the expected leaders were in the peloton with Lance, so he had nothing to worry about in terms of losing precious overall time to them. So, defending the yellow jersey today would not have been a wise move. Yesterday's win in the team time trial was worth it because a time trial is different than a regular stage - each team rides alone, so the strategy becomes to ride as fast as possible rather than watching how the other teams are doing right next to you as in a regular stage.

Here is a good quote from an article at VeloNews:

Stage racing isn't about giving it 100 percent all the time. No one has the strength for that. It is about riding smart.

"So why would anyone push it now to win a stage?" you ask. Good question. There are many teams in the Tour who do not expect to win the whole kit 'n caboodle. They will not get the exposure that the other expected contenders will. By winning a stage, they get their individual name in lights and also the names of their sponsors. Money talks, after all. But don't let me sound cynical - it's not just about sponsorship. It's also about a bike race and the chance to win when you can. It is a competition among the world's best cyclists and what a heady experience to work your tail off for years to have the chance to say, "I won a stage in the Tour de France!"

*Note: I must mention that in the magazine article referenced above, there is a huge, gaping hole in their list of contenders - Tyler Hamilton, the American who rode last year's Tour with a broken collarbone and STILL came in 4th place overall! He rode with US Postal for a few years before moving to another team so that he could be the team leader. He's got the goods to give Armstrong a run for his money and I'm disappointed that the magazine didn't include him in their list.

And I thought our cat's Christmas letter was out there

tdfblog mentioned an interesting blog written by Lance Armstrong's bike. Yes, his bike. Here it is.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Armstrong in Yellow!

Lance Armstrong is about to don the maillot jaune (yellow jersey) after today's Team Time Trial stage in the Tour de France. Woohoo! Go Lance!

The crushing victory of the U.S. Postal team will be lessened by the new rule in effect this year which limits the amount of time a team can lose during the team time trial. However, they still won and they crushed it.

Of Houseguests and Routines

I’m a creature of habit and routine. Perhaps someone would call my life a road full of ruts, but I like to call them routines and I don’t think that they are bad. I’m productive and efficient in my routines and far less prone to stress. In fact, being bumped out of my routine is a large stressor in itself.

I’m not saying that I shouldn’t be flexible and I have learned to be much more flexible in recent years than I used to be. The impetus for that was watching other inflexible people and realizing that I didn’t want to travel down that road of constant stress given how much our lives are destined to be bumped around outside of our routines.

Andy’s sister and her two kids (Norm, her husband, is stationed in Iraq this year) are staying with us for two weeks and they arrived yesterday. It is great to see them and to have them with us. They’re all wonderful and fun to be around.

My daily routine can be outlined this way: Out of bed around 5:45 am, shower/dress/pack lunch and head out the door between 6:30-6:45 am. Get home from work around 4:30-5:00 pm and then head to bed at 10:00 pm. I would probably be best-served with a sleep schedule of 11:00-7:00 am, but that would leave me with a much worse commute in traffic. So, I work pretty well within my daily routine.

Maria and the kids don’t share my time schedule. They are late to bed, late to rise folk. They are plenty productive with their time, they just shift their routine from mine. And they may not be quite as engrained in their routine as I am, but I’m not sure of that.

Either way, I’m going to have to get used to riding on the gravelly shoulder of the road for awhile rather than in my smooth routine. I suppose it’ll get better - today is the first full day of their visit and I picked up a piece or two of glass in my tires, but I know how to change a flat, so I’ll be back on the road (or shoulder) soon. Until then, ZZzzzzz.................

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Adoption Update

I'd ask for a drumroll, but that would signify a grander update than this is. I'll hold off on the drumroll until I get something more significant to the masses.

The husband of our adoption coordinator at World Partners is now the Latin American Program Coordinator. What does this mean to us? It means that we get the inside scoop on some things faster than we otherwise might. So Traci, our coordinator, was able to call us to let us know that the lawyer requested our email address. This means that the DNA test will be requested and performed shortly. And why is the DNA test a big deal? Because! More specifically, because without the DNA test proving a match between the birth mother and child, the entire process screeches to a halt. And with the DNA test proving a match, the Embassy will give us pre-approval for Kevin's visa. With the pre-approval for the visa, the PGN will take our case immediately upon it entering there after it goes through Family Court. It makes sense that the PGN would not want to finalize the adoption of a child who was unable to get a visa and move to the adoptive parents' country. When the Embassy pre-approves the visa, they will email us, which is why the lawyer requested our email address.

Summary: Our case is currently in Guatemalan Family Court. The DNA test should take place next week with the results coming 1-2 weeks later and the Embassy notifying us of pre-approval after that. After our case is through Family Court, it will move to the PGN, who makes the final determination on whether the adoption is go for launch. Technically, the Embassy makes the final-final determination but not in the adoption itself, rather, in the travel plans to bring Kevin home when we go down there and attend the exit visa interview.

While this update may not sound as exciting to most of you as an update on Kevin's height and weight measurements would/will be, it was really good to talk with Traci last night and find out that our case is indeed proceeding as expected with no delays yet.

Some of the Tour de France excitement

From VeloNews's Rider Diary by Tyler Hamilton (an American who used to ride for US Postal with Lance but moved to another team a couple of years ago to make his own mark.)

Yesterday's stage was nuts. If you saw the race on television then you already know the crowds were huge in some spots. And, for some reason, there weren't barriers in every town like there usually are. This meant the folks on the side of the road were free to set up camp in the road while they waited for the race to come barreling through.

The peloton steamrolled through some towns, looking like a wall stretched straight across the road. As it charged forward, fans were jumping back to get out of the way, seemingly one-by-one. People were literally springing from their lawn chairs at the very last second to run for safety leaving their picnics, blankets, cameras and whatever else behind as they did. I even saw one poor person in wheelchair get left behind as his companions darted for safer ground. It's a miracle no one got hurt.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Tour de France primer

Never paid much attention to the Tour de France before? Well, here's some basic information to help you get started. See Outdoor Life Network on your cable system or any of the various websites that cover the tour in-depth.

Race setup: The Tour de France is a 3-week long race mostly through France but also in the surrounding countries of Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland. Each day's race is called a stage. A stage may be a mountainous up-and-down affair stretching 200 km, an invidivual time-trial (where riders don't ride with one another, but are started at different times and race against the clock), or a team time-trial (same as individual time-trial except that a whole team races together and all riders' times are factored in.)

Teams: The Tour is not an individual event in the sense that each person is out there riding for himself. Each rider belongs to a team and has a specific role on that team. Only one member of a team is vying for the top position in the race and all other team members are there to support that one rider. For instance: Lance Armstrong is the top rider of the U.S. Postal Service team and he doesn't want to weigh himself down carrying bottles of water or waste time going back and forth from the team car to the front of the race. So, his teammates go back and forth and bring him water. Another example is when a group of racers pulls ahead of the peloton (this is the largest group of riders at any given time) and there is someone in that breakaway pack who poses a threat to someone high in the rankings. Then the teammates of those higher-ranking riders will attempt to "pull in" the breakaway pack so that they can't gain time on the leaders and so that the leaders don't have to use up their steam to reign them in.

Yellow Jersey: The maillot jaune (yellow jersey) is worn by the rider who is currently in the overall lead. Each day there is a stage winner. Often the stage winner is not the overall leader, so the yellow jersey does not go to each day's winner most of the time. The times and points from each day are combined to determine the overall ranking. There is also a green jersey for the rider with the most points (based on finishing first at selected "sprint" locations during each stage), a polka-dot jersey for the rider with the most climbing points, and a white jersey which is analogous to the yellow jersey but it is contested only by riders under 25 years old.

There is so much to know about the Tour de France and so many ways to enjoy watching it. It is full of high-speed strategy, dependence on team, unpredictable weather, and amazing levels of endurance. However much attention you pay to the Tour this year, I hope that you enjoy it.

Le Tour de France has begun!

Ah, yes - it's July and that means that for the next 3 weeks, I will struggle to stay disciplined at work and not spend all my time "watching" the most incredible bike race ever and reading about it online. American Lance Armstrong is aiming his sights on a record-breaking sixth Tour de France win. He is an amazing athlete - his training ethic, determination, and discipline have pushed him to the leading edge of cycling and make him one of the strongest athletes of any sport.

If you have Outdoor Life Network on your cable TV subscription, you have the opportunity to watch unmatched amounts of Tour de France coverage. I don't have cable, so I miss out on all of that. However, there are a number of websites that cover the Tour in-depth; some even have "live" coverage in various formats. That's where my need to stay disciplined at work comes in.

Here are some sites that I regularly visit during the greatest 3 weeks in sports every July.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

What I've learned from our CSA subscription

First, here's what we received this week:

  • Zucchini
  • White zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Potatoes
  • Peaches
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Rosemary
  • Flowers (decorative, not edible)

A lot of what I've learned is not actually new knowledge but, rather, a fuller understanding of things as I always knew (in my head) them to be, but didn't know (in true belief/feeling) them to be.

I can try new foods. I still generally don't like new foods, but given a good enough reason (such as trying to be a good example to our (future) kids) I can manage to try things I've never eaten before - even when I know I won't like them.

I could someday become a vegetarian. That's not to say that I will eventually like all vegetables, but I have hope (however miniscule) that I will find enough foods to eat with proper nutrition to not rely on meat. I may never choose to entirely give up eating meat, but the option will probably be there.

Helping the little guy is rewarding. When we pick up our weekly box of goodies, we get the chance to converse with the owners of one of the farms that provides our share food. We know who we're supporting and sharing the burden and harvest with.

We're only about 25% of the way through our CSA year, so there's lots more to come. I can't say for sure at this moment that I will be interested in purchasing a share again next year. I would rather have a local farmer's market to attend weekly where I can pick up foods from the same small local growers but within my own set of taste boundaries. For instance - I could do without anymore yellow squash for a few weeks. But I could definitely go for more potatoes or cherries or beets. However, I don't know of any farmer's markets that are geographically and chronologically convenient. I'll have to look into that.