Monday, January 28, 2008

I am going to have muscles like the Hulk!!

This morning we got new pics of Norah (a wonderful way to wake up, really) and should be receiving updated height and weight info shortly. For now, from what I can make out of the scale it looks like she weighs 6.8 kg or 15 lbs.

Highly accurate measuring system. ;-)
Our first sign of upset Norah. I am sure we will see it many times in the future but I was happy to see it today.
Look at those thighs!!
What's over there?
Our first smile... a big one at that!
Just a few more weeks..... come on US CIS!!!





Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dragonflies

I never posted updated room pics with the dragonflies and several people have asked so here you go:
Ava, the avacado tree, is going to need a new home. She is thriving here because it is the warmest room in the house.


All of those empty hangers are for clothes in the laundry today getting ready to be PACKED!! And yes, that is a lot of empty hangers.... am I really supposed to pick 7 outfits? REALLY?? Only 7? I think that is impossible. 7 per suitcase maybe....

Four things, including 4 things!

This seems to be going around on the adoption blogs and 2 fellow adoptive parents have tagged me! Thanks Karen and Laura!

4 THINGS

4 Jobs I’ve had:
(1) Babysitter - It counts, it's paid! I started sitting when I was 11 and probably babysat at least once a week until I went to college.
(2) Hostess at Patrick's at Westport, the job from hell when I was 15
(3) Admin Assistant to multiple law firms and engineering companies
(4) Accounts Receivable Manager - current position

4 movies I watch over and over:
(1) Harold & Kumar go to White Castle - always good for a laugh
(2) Labyrinth - Yeah, never really outgrew that one.
(3) Garden State - This is Barnabas's favorite
(4) I am not a movie person, sorry. I usually watch once or twice and that is enough for me. But I like watching TV show DVDs: Buffy, Angel, and Gilmore Girls

4 Places I’ve lived:
(1) St. Louis, MO
(2)Columbia, MO
(3) I am boring, I have never lived outside of MO except if you count that summer camp in IN

4 Shows I watch (see now I have WAY more than 4, I will have to group them):
(1) Game shows - Deal, Power of 10, Moment of Truth, Ninja Warrior, American Gladiators, Idol
(2) Dramaedys: Desperate Housewives, Big Shots
(3) Reality - Survivor, Amazing Race, Big Brother, The Mole (it is returning!!), Extreme Makeover Home edition (and yes, I still cry almost every time), Supernanny, Wife Swap
(4) Other: Heroes, Lost, Gossip Girl, Moonlight, Damages, Dirt, One Tree Hill, Jericho, ... and 10 million more I cannot remember... stupid writers strike and yes, I know my life is about to change.

4 places I’ve been:
(1) FL annually
(2) TN
(3) NH
(4) MA

4 favorite things to eat: (in no particular order of course because it changes depending on the day)
(1) Thai
(2) Indian
(3) Mexican
(4) Vietnamese
Anything with curry. The stuff is addictive, the hotter the better. Woo hoo endorphins!


4 places I’d rather be:
(1) Vietnam - getting Norah, of course
(2) Florida - It is freakin' cold out! I would love to be sitting by the pool right now
(3) Albany, NY - I miss my Val
(4) In my nice big new mansion. Oh, wait, that isn't real.... crap. I guess it doesn't count.

4 things I look forward to this year:
(1) Norah and everything Norah related!! I can't wait to see her face and hold her and smell her and watch her sleep and give her a batch and see her grow and crawl and talk and walk and... well, I better stop or I will never finish laundry.
(2) Not working!! Okay, I just need a break. Who wouldn't be excited about not working for 3 months?
(3) Starting our next adoption. Yes, you heard right, in approx. 7 months we will be at it again!
(4) Good news in the adoption community. Let's speed things up folks, there are lots of mommies and daddies that want their kids home!!

Great, now I am supposed to tag people but it seems like a lot of blogs already have this. I will tag Cathy, Katy, Ali and Jess (perhaps you can do it on Maya's mom). Participation optional. ;-)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Received G & R!

So we are more victims of the new U.S. I-600 system as we got the all clear from the Vietnam approval side to come get Norah. Our agency told us that the last family to receive I-600 approval waited 5 weeks & 5 days so I am hoping that the longer time frame was because the Christmas and New Years holidays were included. Perhaps some staff took vacation during the holidays that slowed down processing? It is amazing all the rationalizing that goes on in ones head. Today marks our 2 week wait with the I-600 so if we look ahead 3-4 weeks we should be getting that approval the week of Feb. 18th. I think it will take that long because the embassy is shut down for about a week for Tet. I am SOOOOO excited all of a sudden knowing that we just have 1 more step before we can go get Norah. There will be packing pics this weekend, we are making good headway into our 5 page long packing list.

Oh and this wonderful news came on my friend Jess's 30th Birthday. I know that this awesomeness overrules the coolness of her new iphone and her new Rocket Dogs. I mean how could you beat this? Happy B-day Jess!!!!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

For all that have BTDT...

For all the adoptive parents out there reading this. What is the 1 thing that you feel you needed while traveling that you did not pack? I have 4 suggested packing lists that when combined are well over 4 pages long. One would think that EVERYTHING would be covered but I am sure that there is one thing you wished you had brought that did not make it into the suitcase. Please comment and let me know! Thanks. D.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I-600 Receipt

We received our receipt this morning that the USCIS in Vietnam had received our I-600. It is very weird getting an email from the government. It didn't even look particularly official. I don't know what I was expecting but I didn't think it would be a word document, with letterhead that could be easily moved or copied into any other document. It was strange. Anyway, I did talk to our agency rep. who told me that the families that waited the 6.5 weeks over the x-mas holidays really didn't have to wait that long. There was a mix-up with the government and their email approvals so they really only should have waited about 4.5 weeks. So now I have readjusted my estimate (even though I told myself not to because I will just be upset again if it takes longer) to mid to late February. 4 weeks would put us in the middle of the Tet holiday and so I think it is safe to add a week or two past that point which would be around Feb. 22nd. That was the date that Barnabas and I had decided it would be a few months ago. No idea why but that date sounded good at the time. It would be very very weird if it actually happened. Oh and in other good news, I found out yesterday that Yen's mommy, Katy, had her I-600 submitted on Wednesday so (we are hoping) to be approved around the same time so we can travel together to get our girls!! Yippie for Katy!! This weekend the packing begins...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I-600 Submitted

We got some pretty amazing news yesterday that our I-600 had been submitted to the USCIS in Vietnam. I was not expecting this to happen until next week (see calculations on previous post). Now we wait for an email from USCIS saying that they received our paperwork which, I have read from other families journals, seems to take about 10 days. I guess at that point our 60 day countdown begins. But there is still the backlog at USCIS and the time off for Tet. We tried re-running calculations yesterday... 70 days out would put us exactly on March 19th, the day our fingerprints expire. If we give them a week off for Tet then it is the 26th. That is assuming it will take the full 60 days (hopefully our worst case scenario as far as the wait goes but our G & R still has to be assigned during that time). I still haven't heard if the families waiting for 6+ weeks were approved yet. Maybe later today. I wondered for a while about the roller coaster and the good news. Then I remembered that we were only halfway up the last hill so we just kept on climbing. I sure hope we are not at the top.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Down a big hill & halfway up a little one

The roller coaster never stops. It is in a continuous loop and I have eaten too much funnel cake. Plus, just like in high school, ( I was on a roller coaster and my bf at the time went to put his arms up in the air while we were going down a hill and ended up elbowing me in the face, knocking my glasses off, never to be found again) I am totally blind. I have no idea if I am upside down or about to plummet 300 miles an hour downward in a spiral until I puke all over myself and just want to curl up into a ball. Except I can't. Because I can't get off the damned roller coaster!!!

So, we found out yesterday that some of the families that are currently waiting for their I-600 approvals have been waiting 6+ weeks (instead of the 3-4 it was taking) because the USCIS is behind (understaffed, overworked, story of my life). Running the numbers in my head, I figured if ours got submitted by mid-January (and they took 10 days to log it in like I have read on others' blogs) plus add in the Tet holiday shut downs, we would not be traveling to the very very end of March at best or early April. So I freaked out a little (down a huge hill which we were on top of because of the pictures). I mean Norah is 5 months today and I really thought when we got our referral we would be traveling a few weeks from now, not a few months from now. So B wrote the agency and asked about our I-600 and why don't they just submit all of the ones that they have?

Well, it has to go WITH the babies' paperwork to the USCIS. The good news (little hill with a twist) is that they received Norah's paperwork yesterday morning that needs to go with the I-600. However, we are not sure if our I-600 is still here in the states, on its way to, or in Vietnam plus they have to translate all of her papers into English before they can send it to the CIS. So, with every answer comes a million more questions. How long does translation take? Where is our actual form? Does the Tet holiday shut down mean the CIS gets additional days on top of the 60 they are allowed to take to process the form? Is it only business days? How many days are they closed? What happens if they are not done in 60 days? And why the hell are there 2 #25s on the actual form??? Sorry, I just can't get past the last one. I don't understand why the government is always trying to confuse us. I guess that means they are doing their job.

So even when I should feel better about the paperwork (and I do a little bit - thus the half-way up the next hill) I still think that it falls in line directly with my calculations. Translations could take a few weeks, let's be optimistic, say 10 days, so they send it to Hanoi the 15th, the USCIS receives it the 16th, logs it in the 26th (wait, that is a Saturday) the 28th then we add 60 days to process which puts us at March 28th plus 1 extra week for Tet. Which would put us at April 1st, 1 day shy of 3 months from today. 1 day before Norah turns 8 months old. I know it might not take the full 60 but if they are waiting 6+ weeks now, I could edit my calcs and say 53 days to process plus that week off for Tet and we would get our travel call on the 28th, one week earlier so that we would be holding Norah when she turned 8 mo. Either way, it seems like forever from now. Plus I know, since I am still slightly up, that something bad will happen next. That is the way it goes. It is never 2 ups in a row or 2 downs, that is physically impossible to do on a roller coaster.

Will someone please give me a barf bag?!?!? (My glasses back would be nice too, it is hard to type when you can't see a thing.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Norah at almost 5 months!!

I could not have been more excited today when, after 6 1/2 weeks, we received 35 new photos of Norah and her friend Yen. Baby Yen's mommy is also going through our agency and we are so happy our girls are together. They are the only 2 babies at Picasso orphanage right now that are assigned to our agency.
Norah and Yen:
This is our absolute favorite picture thus far...I am tired, are we done yet?Maybe I will nap on this duck...What's up there??Why is there a duck on my butt?Hello friend!Hi Mom and Dad!!
I think she is being tickled here. I can't wait to hear her laugh.
Mom, come get me!!!



I-600

I am still trying to get caught up from December! On the 18th we got an email notifying us that we could submit our I-600, the petition to classify an orphan as an immediate relative, to our agency. We filled it out and had it notarized and sent it to our agency the next day. Of course, the minute we did we got an email telling us that there had been a change in the way the form was supposed to be filled out and we would have to do it over. Last Wednesday, the 26th, we went back to the agency to do the form correctly. After we had finished I casually may have mentioned that we had not received new pics of Norah in almost 6 weeks and lo and behold we got some today! That post will follow shortly. So anyway, our I-600 should be sent to Vietnam this week and then it will sit there until they determine we are 3-5 weeks from traveling to submit it to the USCIS. With Tet on Feb. 7th and the government offices shut down for 2-3 weeks we are really hoping it will be submitted in a week or 2 so that we might be able to travel the end of February or early March. Cross your fingers for us!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Safety First!

We're getting closer and closer and we can definitely feel the clock ticking. Norah's room is (for the most part) ready, we have her high seat sitting at the table (and the cats have miraculously left it alone, which is good because Dani would most likely strangle them if she came into the room and found one of them snuggled up all cozy-like in it) and now we have car seats! One in each car.




Once again, of course, it was a bit of a.........challenge to get them in. Seriously. Hopefully the people at the fire department won't point their fingers and laugh at my attempt.

And now for something completely different:

AHHHHHHH WATCH OUT HE'S OUT OF CONTROL!!!!!!!



Christmas aftermath garbage pile - I can't imagine what it's going to be like after Norah comes home and there's a little one getting presents


Our tree. Like Norah, this tree was once a itty-bitty baby tree and now it has grown into....a little bit bigger tree.

The vicious wild cat that is Aiden. Be careful if you see this creature. This picture was taken just moments before he pounced on the poor photographer and shed on her to death.