Monday, August 30, 2004

Adoption Status Update

There's a lot to write about, but I think I'll stick to the "easy" stuff... we received visa pre-approval from the US Embassy in Guatemala City! This after expecting it to take 3-4 weeks with the possibility of it being longer. Ours took 1 week. Yes, 1 week. Now our "unlikely" 4 weeks to travel timeline is looking far more possible! We'll never be ready! ;-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Your check is in our mail.

Last week I received a call from our mortgage company stating that our payment hadn't been received on time. Whoops! I somehow missed a bunch of bills last month and I still haven't figured out how but, what the heck, I've taken care of everything now - except the mortgage. The guy that called asked me to do a "check by phone" to pay the bill immediately. That would've cost $12 so I said, "No, thanks, I'll send it in." I knew I was good for it, even if he didn't. The gentleman gave me the PO Box in Dallas, TX, to send the payment to. I sent the check via Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation ($3, thank you.) I received delivery confirmation from the Postal Service last Friday, 8/20, that it was delivered at 8:17 am. "Great! They've received it and they'll post it within 24 hours," I figured.

I was wrong. I checked my account this morning and my payment wasn't posted. I spoke to a customer service rep who said that the PO Box in Dallas is a drop box and if it was received there, it doesn't mean that it has gotten to their payment processing location. Huh? How can they wait 5 days to pick up their payment mail? I'm sure they'd want to deposit everything in their bank account asap! The customer service rep stated that they can't put in a "research action" until they have a copy of the front and back of the check. Well, duh, if you lost my check, then how do I have a copy of it?

Seems to me that I'll be paying August's mortgage payment for the next 3 months until we get it right!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

DNA Match!

The clock is really ticking now! Our agency received notification that the DNA test which matches Kevin with his birthmother, to prevent adoption fraud, is positive as a match. This is a welcome hurdle to cross as it took longer than usual and we don't know why. Anyway, now that this is done, the US Embassy in Guatemala will begin the pre-approval process for Kevin's visa to come to the U.S. and our case will continue through from Family Court into the PGN. Once in the PGN, they'll look over our documents and then wait for the preapproval from the Embassy and sign off on the adoption, making it legal. After that, we wait a week or two for our "pink slip" to notify us of our Embassy appointment and then we get to travel! I am nervous to say this, but it could happen in as little as 4 weeks! It will probably be around 2 months, of course longer is always possible.

Monday, August 23, 2004

I'm scared. Ok, there - I said it.

I recently posted something I wrote to my sister explaining how we're handling this waiting period in our adoption case while our paperwork is out of our hands and is being processed however quickly or slowly the people in control of it can go. I mentioned sustainable energy and enjoying our quiet time. While those ideas are true, I've come to realize (read: admit to myself) that there is another reason why the waiting can be "easy" sometimes. I'm scared.

I'm not scared that I won't feed Kevin enough or bathe him enough or kiss his little face enough (or too much) or get him to bed early enough... I know that I can handle that stuff. What I don't know if I can handle is the nurturing of his emotional health and sense of self. He is attached to his foster mom - that is clear from the photos we've received. He is going to miss her terribly and I am so sad for his loss. How can I teach him to understand with his head and his heart that Andy and I aren't leaving, too?

What if he asks questions other than the easy ones ("why is the sky blue?" and "why is that man in a wheelchair?")? Those are easy compared to, "Why didn't my birthmother want me?" "Why didn't you grow me in your tummy?" "Do I have brothers and sisters in Guatemala?" "What about the children who don't get adopted?" What if I don't have the answers? Or, even worse, what if I think I have the answers but I get them all wrong?

I'm scared of being too tired to handle a toddler's activities. I'm scared that we won't know how to handle his personality. Perhaps he'll be an extrovert? Perhaps he'll be a manipulator? Perhaps he'll be aggressive?

I know that my fears are no different than that of any parent. And I know that people will think "it'll all work out in the end" and "you'll just know what to do" - but that alone is not comforting.

Perhaps this is one of the myriad ways that having children makes us appreciate and understand God's love for us even more. I have to consistently place Kevin and our care for him into God's hands and have an open heart to hear from Him so that I can be the best parent I can be. That's no different than how we should all live our lives, but it seems much more important when a child's soul and well-being are involved.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

150,000 miles

Congratulations to my truck for rolling over 150,000 miles! Boo, hiss to the battery for dying the same day.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Someone is writing what's in my head and it's not me

Have I mentioned how much I like the "Next Blog" link at the top of Blogger/Blogspot pages? Today I found this one by Bronwenanne. She has written about a number of things that go through my mind but which I don't spend enough time trying to decipher. I have a lot of questions regarding my Christian faith these days and she is thinking about them, too (sometimes because of class readings and sometimes, it seems, because they're just on her mind) and writing down some thoughts. I'm happy to have found her blog.

You Don't Know Which Ones Are Your Low Beams?

Yesterday morning while pulled up behind a large SUV, I noticed my truck was winking in the reflection. The driver's side headlight was burned out. I went to the auto parts store last night to buy a replacement. Their display of headlights didn't include a book to look up which number I needed so the guy behind the counter looked it up for me in his computer.

"What year?"


"Make and model?"

"Chevy S-10 pickup."

"Low beam or high beam?"

At this point, I gave him a quizzical look as I am fully aware that I need a single, sealed beam unit. My hestitation caused him to clarify his question as such....

"Is it the one that you use all the time or the brighter one?"

I never realized how stupid I must look!

I was able to convince him to find the correct part number and I bought my headlight and went on my merry way. And I used both low beams this morning on my way to work.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Christian Classics available for your edification

Sean told us last night about a website of Calvin College called the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. It contains writings in the public domain from all sorts of classic Christian authors (Jeremy Taylor, Teresa of Avila, Sir Thomas Browne, Francois Fenelon, etc.) Some are available in alternate formats such as MP3, Palm docbook, Microsoft Reader, and others.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Rolling Toward 150,000 Miles

Over the next week or two, my renowned (my description) Chevy S-10 Pickup Truck will roll over 150,000 miles on the odometer. For the past year, I've reminisced about my truck's "life." It's the only vehicle I've ever owned. I bought it new while in college and planned to drive it until it could go no more. Ten years later, it's not on its deathbed but it is ailing. I probably won't witness its final demise because a small truck without an extra-cab is not exactly family-friendly and we'll soon be in a family way. I bet we could get away with having the truck and the van if I were to drive the van with Kevin and Andy were to drive my truck to work. Unfortunately, Andy won't drive my truck (and I don't blame him for that.) He'll drive it on the necessary occasion, but that's it. I couldn't ask him to drive it every day to work unless we were in dire straits. That could still happen, but at this time, we expect we'll replace my truck with a newer vehicle soon.

I know that a lot of people drive their cars for more than 150,000 these days, but this is MY ONLY VEHICLE. In high school, I drove my parents' Mercury Grand Marquis (I passed my driver's test parallel parking that boat) and sometimes their Pontiac Firebird (yeah, that was pretty fun :-) But this truck of mine has been my only vehicle of my own - I've had it since I was in college! I'm a long way from college now. Ten years will change a person, particularly when those 10 years are during the person's transition from college student under their parents' wings to breaking out on their own with a career, marriage, and family. My truck has driven me through a lot of stages.

Stay tuned for more cheesy reminiscing.

Spin the Bonus Blog Wheel

Check out the "Next Blog" link at the top of this page. I don't know where the ads went, but I love the serendipity of clicking on that new link! After all, my favorite word is serendipitous.


Last week in my community group meeting, someone used the phrase "anal-retentive" and someone else asked if a nicer word could be used. We tried "detailed," "nit-picky," etc. and found nothing that worked as well. And a few of us (those discussing the matter) don't find anal-retentiveness to be a bad thing (metaphorical use of the term, not literal.)

This morning I read the following statement on a blog: "...those who are by nature precisionists (or anal retentive)..."

I thought the guy made up the word "precisionist" but I just found it at Merriam-Webster.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Kevin is not in an orphanage

As happens when people around the world are attempting to communicate loads of information back and forth, an important piece of info in our adoption case was not forwarded to the end of the chain. Kevin is NOT in an orphanage, he lives with a foster family (as most children waiting for adoption in Guatemala do.) The ("CUTEST") photos that I recently mentioned are of Kevin with his foster mom! We will get to meet her when we travel to pick him up and we will get to talk to her about his sleeping and eating schedule, favorite toys, foods, etc. Hopefully he will be able to bring back a favorite blanket, toy, etc. and we will take items with us to give to the foster family as replacements and help for the next children that they take care of. All of the foster families are long-time friends or associates of the lawyer. And, 2 people from our adoption agency met with the foster families on their trip 2 weeks ago and have nothing but praises for all of them.

Apparently the switch from the orphanage to the foster family occurred during the time we were accepting Kevin's referral and getting the basic info on him that our lawyer had at the time. The lawyer closed the orphanage and moved all of the children who were there into foster homes. I may have said this before, but that is one reason why the fees associated with adoption from Guatemala are higher than other countries - the kids are in foster care or in personally-run orphanages that aren't owned or run by the government. Our fees are paying for Kevin's care right now, before he can come home with us.

While this "new" information changes nothing in the grand scheme of things, it does change our understanding of the little guy's journey which will bring him to the U.S. soon. And it's nice to know that he's with a family now and by the photos we've seen recently, he loves them and they love him.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Recurrence of a Recurring Dream

My recurring dream which (I thought had) stopped recurring has recurred. Starting in January 2003, I had a dream on multiple occasions with exactly the same theme taking place in different locations. The locations weren't important - the theme of the dream was. After the 5th or 6th occurrence of the dream in a few months, I searched online on a whim to see what the great dream sages had to say about my unconscious thoughts. I found some information at one site that seemed to make a lot of sense. I challenged it by looking at some of the other search results and found similar information with even further detail into some of the images in my dream. There was the, "Such and such image represents this thing" from the first site and at the second site I found, "Such and such image represents this thing. And if the such and such image is further described with blase blah attributes, then it means this thing with yadda yadda attributes."

So was the information that I found very generic, like a horoscope, or was it spot-on to a particular situation I was dealing with? It was spot-on. And I was weirded-out by it. But, I was glad to have further understanding of what was going on. The dream was gross and I wanted it to stop.

Last fall my community/small/bible study group worked through a study that challenged me to deal with the situation to which my dreams were a reaction. I dealt with it with less than spectacular results. But, I had made the attempt and felt freed by it. I stopped having the dream.

That was earlier this year that I actually faced the situation and then last night I had the dream again. I didn't recognize it while I was in the dream, as I had learned to do when I was having the dreams in the past, but a few minutes after I woke up, I realized what happened. And I can see that something happened yesterday to bring back up what I thought was gone from my psyche. Clearly it's not and I could tell that consciously yesterday, but apparently my sub/unconsciousness wanted to make sure that I really, really knew that this situation still exists.

I suppose I should be happy that this means I will go through a growth spurt as I deal with this, but you know, growth hurts in the short-term and I'm a very instant-gratification kinda girl.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Calm FlashPosted by Hello

Flash attacking a stuffed animal cat. He's not nearly as scary as he looks in this picture. Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Adoption Status Update

We got the CUTEST pictures of Kevin from our agency's representatives' trip to Guatemala last week. I can't post them here because the adoption is not final, but I know that you'd all think he's pretty cute if you could see him :-) (I know, most of my readers found photos in their email boxes earlier this week and have seen him, but there is at least one person out there who reads my blog who is not a personal friend for family member!)

Kevin went to the doctor last week and we received the report from that visit (yay!) He is diagnosed as happy and healthy! He weighs 24 lbs and is 32 inches tall (at age 2 yrs & 3 mos); he's small but proportioned.

We learned yesterday that the DNA test to match Kevin with his birthmother (to prevent adoption fraud) was not done until this week. After the test is complete, the results will be sent to us and to the US Embassy in Guatemala City. The Embassy will process Kevin's visa pre-approval (so he can travel to the US when we pick him up.) This is currently taking anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. Right now, this area of the embassy is understaffed and the adoption caseload is not decreasing, so the wait times are pretty high compared to recent history. We have no idea how it will go once our case is there.

Also this week the social worker from Family Court met with Kevin's birthmother. The social worker will write up a report and then our case will move into the PGN (Guatemalan Solicitor General's office). It could be a few weeks before the report is written and then the PGN could take anywhere from a week or two to longer, depending on which lawyer receives our case and whether they have any issues with us or our paperwork.

The Family Court/PGN process will take place concurrently with the DNA/Embassy process. We'll hope that they finish up around the same time, as that makes pulling our whole case together that much easier for the lawyer.

We've been saying that it'll be 2-3 months for awhile now, but that's still our guess for how long it'll be before we travel to bring Kevin home. My sister asked how we're handling the wait as she can hardly contain her excitement and he's not even her child! Here is my response:

We're able to hold it all together while waiting because we know that
we can't keep a high level of excitement up for very long - that would
be draining. So we temper our excitement, only letting it out to run
every once in awhile :-) Also, we enjoy our quiet house with nobody
to care for but ourselves (and we're low-maintenance at that), so
we're cherishing the peace and quiet that we have now and that helps
to make the wait easier, also. Plus, even if this takes a few more
months, it'll still be less time that we thought it would take! We
initially figured that we'd bring our child home early in 2005, so
anytime in 2004 would be faster than we planned!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

One of my favorite flower photos. I took a ton of pictures of the flowers in our yard last year (2003). This is a Peony. Posted by Hello

One of my favorite flower photos. I took a ton of pictures of the flowers in our yard last year (2003). This is a Hyacinth.
 Posted by Hello

Locks of Love pictures, finally

I finally took a minute to figure out Hello, the photoblogging software that works with Anyway, below are our "Before" and "After" pictures that I mentioned way back when.

It's been over a year now, so we both look different again. I should put up a picture of us now, but I don't have a recent one of us.

Beth and Dianne after Locks of Love haircuts - May 2003 Posted by Hello

Beth and Dianne before Locks of Love haircuts - May 2003 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Parenting Practice With Our Cat

We have a cat, Jumpin' Jack Flash, who thinks he is a dog - or maybe a toddler - or maybe a toddler-aged dog. He made me late for work this morning (not really... I work flex-time) because he stuck his head in a small watering can that was full, got stuck, and dumped the entire thing over onto the carpet.

We're having work done on our chimney and at the moment, there is a dropcloth hanging across the now-open fireplace. There is soot in the fireplace so I find Flash's black pawprints on our white windowsills and off-white kitchen floor.

Flash lets us know when visitors come to our door. He meows and comes to find us, urging us to see who has come to see us. Could it be someone who has nifty-smelling feet? (that seems to be what he's most interested in with visitors - I suppose it's better than the type of sniffing that dogs do to greet people)

When Flash doesn't get enough attention (which is almost always) he partakes of activities that he knows he is not allowed to do, just to get attention (attention is good whether it's attention for good or bad things.) Our clothes closets are magnet-ed shut because Flash slides the doors open and crawls around inside, sometimes up our clothes. The front hallway closet is available to him, so he often pushes on those doors so they make noise and then he tromps around inside on whatever noisy objects he can find.

Flash likes to drink from any receptacle except for his water dish. After our showers in the morning, he licks the remaining water off of the tub. If we leave the toilet lid open, he'll drink from the toilet. We pick our battles; we close the toilet and let him have free reign of the shower.

A few years ago when we lived in an apartment, Flash would get up on top of the bedroom door. He did this once while we were away for the weekend. As the door swung shut, he jumped off, pushing the door closed and latched. He was stuck in our bedroom for 3 days. Note: his food and litter box were NOT kept in our bedroom.

Early in our cat parenting, we asked the veterinarian how to discipline him. He was scratching the wood off the doors, pulling up the carpet, etc. One of the vet's suggestions was "time out" in a separate room because he was doing a lot of his antics for attention. We put him in the bathroom as it was the only room besides our bedroom (which would've been much too fun for him) that had a door on it. He meowed for awhile and then took to knocking everything off of the vanity and edge of the tub and scratching at the shower curtain (they aren't as effective with holes in them.) We then tried to put him in timeout inside his carrier in the bathroom. Aha! We shut down his means to wrecking anything and assumed we were shutting down his deviant behavior in the meantime. Yeah, right - no matter whether we left him in there for 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or 20 minutes, he came tearing out ready to rumble again, craving even more attention after his stint in the deprivation tank.

When we adopted Flash from the pound, he was about 4 months old - still a kitten, but not tiny. We would watch him play and investigate his new surroundings with great parental pride and love. After a week of this, we realized that we were only paying attention to the cat and not to each other. All of our focus and attention was on Flash. While cute and worthy of such attention, he really didn't deserve all of our attention to the detriment of our human relationship. So, we planned a "date night" to pull ourselves away from the cat. This is not unlike how new parents have to schedule (and probably re-schedule a few times) time alone with their spouses away from the child(ren).

We've learned a lot about parenting from our "forever in toddler stage" cat. He tries our patience, makes us late for work, requires daily interaction, and snuggles with us on the couch.

Before you think I expect parenting a person to be like parenting a cat, never fear - I'm not comparing Flash and his needs directly to a child and his/her needs. I'm comparing some of our feelings and behaviors toward Flash to some of the feelings and behaviors we'll have toward our children.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Falling for Fall

I love the seasons of Maryland. We get to sled in the snow, smell the fragrance of new flowers, sizzle in the sun, and bask in the colored array of dying leaves. Each season has its own blessings and annoyances, but the annoyances are what make the next season so delightful to wish for. My favorite season is autumn. Today's weather is more fit for October than the first week of August and it turns my heart toward the upcoming change of seasons that I adore. I long... breathe the golden-colored air of early morning and late afternoon punctuated by ever- lengthening shadows

...for cool breezes whisking in through open windows to tickle the back of my neck harvest crisp, juicy, tart apples and grind them into refreshing applesauce and bake them into scrumptious pies

...for a hike with a jacket on hear the animals gathering nuts in the woods and crackling the dry leaves beneath their paws comb relaxed hair of smooth curls instead of the frenzied frizz of hazy summer days celebrate all that the plants have done for us this year before they take their rest

Summer has its place, but my heart is where Autumn lives.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

He Smiles!

We have a few pictures of Kevin and he looks very serious, even scared, in all of them. The doctor that has seen him said that he is shy around new people. All of this makes me think that he will be very quiet and probably not playful until he gets really comfortable around us and in our home. That may still be the case, but we just heard some really fun news from Josh, the program coordinator at our adoption agency.

A couple of agency employees traveled to Guatemala this week to meet with lawyers and such and I just got a phone message stating that Josh got to play with Kevin and he said that he is delightful and "the smiliest thing he's ever seen."

Wow, he does know how to smile! I can't wait to see that for myself. It brings tears to my eyes to think about it.

Reversible Blessing

Elesa is moving to Guatemala today. It's official; a done deal. I'm sad, but not as sad as I would be if I wasn't traveling to Guatemala in a few months (hopefully) to pick up Kevin. You see, Elesa's presence in Guatemala when we travel is a blessing because we will get to stay at their house instead of in a hotel and utilize their knowledge of the area to get around better and know what's going on.

The blessing extends the other way, too. Our adoption is a blessing because it allows us to see Elesa and her family again! So the "Goodbyes" of the past few weeks have not been as sad for me as they would otherwise. I have the hope that we will see each other again in person shortly. And she has already said that they plan to return to Maryland for a visit around February.

And, of course, now that Elesa and Jeff are both blogging, we'll all get to keep up with them that much better while they're not physically with us!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Ice Pack, Stat!

Andy says that when he's had fillings in the past, his face has swollen from the anesthetic and that it's always gone the next morning. I had high hopes for myself but they were not fulfilled.

When I woke up, it felt like the swelling was gone, or at least that it had diminished. I passed the mirror without looking, waiting until I was more awake to take a peek (I was concerned about the bruising I was going to see.)

When I looked, the bruising wasn't any worse, but would you believe that the swelling was? My cheek doesn't stick out any further but the golf ball now has a plateau around it. The swelling extends up to my eye and down to my lower jaw.

I don't have as much pain in that area as I did yesterday, so that's good. I can see my cheek, though, when I look at my computer, which is a little distracting. And it's hard to type while holding an ice pack to my face.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty

I went to the dentist today to get a cavity filled. I have a number of fillings already, so there's really nothing new with the idea of getting a filling. However, I still dread it and work myself into a tizzy (that's one of my mother's oft-used phrases), until it's over. Actually, I'm only in a tizzy until the dentist puts the needle away. I don't mind the drilling, pushing, packing, etc. of the rest of the process. Last night I even had a dream that I saw the needle! I've never seen a dentist's needle and I hope I never do. I don't know how I was able to conjure one up in my dream, but I did. It didn't look so bad, but I'll leave it at that and not bring that memory back into the front of my mind.

Anyhow... everyone who came into the room today to help asked me if I was ok. I guess my white-knuckled hands gripping my pants gave away my anxiety. I've never had a filling by this dentist, so I was very glad to find out that he took good care of me. He got the job done efficiently but he kept an eye out to my "quality of life."

When I knew the needle was put away, I let out a huge sigh of relief (not on purpose, it just naturally happened.) My body obviously relaxed and the dentist began asking me questions while he filled out some form. He asked me if I ate lunch ("He is afraid I'm going to vomit!" I thought) and then he asked me what I had. My response of "pizza" drew a more curious question... "Where did you get it from?" Huh?? Why did he care about that? Then I realized that he was afraid I was going to FAINT - he asked me questions just to keep me talking. Boy, did I feel silly.

When I got up to leave, he mentioned that I had some swelling in my cheek. He said to put an ice pack on it. Then he said it's possible I would have some bruising there also. I was pondering the idea of a swollen cheek and bruising on my face from nothing more than a filling. That's never happened to me before.

Well it surely did this time! I checked myself out in the mirror when I left the office and saw a golf ball in my cheek! Ugh, I needed to get home quickly to put ice on it. I did that and then I put on some more ice and then some more.... the swelling never went down. I suppose I helped it from getting worse, but it's not any smaller and it's been 4 hours now. On top of that, the bruising has commenced. That's not surprising because I bruise if someone breathes on me too hard, but I still am a little shocked that I am having any of this just from a cavity filling.

If this bruising continues the way the rest of my bruises have, then I have a few days of embarassment ahead of me with a big purple, then red, then blue, then green, then yellow splotch on my face. That's attractive.