Our Dossier arrived at the CCCWA in Beijing Monday April 27th!!
We bought two toddler comforters from Ikea (Hard to locate toddler comforters in the US, but they are very common in Europe). I found the cutest, happy fish print fabric on ebay and paired it with a soft pink flannel on the back side. I should add, I do NOT sew. I bought a sewing machine but I am totally winging it. I was going to take a class but I got the call to go to San Diego/Mexico and had to miss it. All that I have left to do now on the duvets is add either buttons or velcro to make the closure secure. The fabric is by Donna Dewberry and really cute!
We bought a large canvas on sale at Micheal’s not long ago and after a sale at JoAnn’s to grab black felt, Paul stapled the felt onto the canvas and we have a giant felt board. I’m going to mount this on the landing upstairs so we can trap the kids in a controlled area when I shower . I think we will add a large magnetic board too (think large oil drip pan).
I also finally finished beading that seahorse. I found a white frame on sale for 5 bucks and we have a winner! Still working on getting things ready. I still need to sew the rail covers for the cribs and the sheets for the travel cribs. Man I hope I get that done. HA!
Thank you all so much for helping the girls get home.. we have a couple of winners to announce tonight:
The winner of the iPad Mini is Robyn Hoekstra! Please see your e-mail!
We had a secondary prize of an Amazon Gift Card going out to Shane Wright!
We appreciate all the support and warm wishes more than you can know. This adoption stuff is much more stressful then either of us had ever imagined.
I wanted the girls to each have a dolly when they came home. As you may remember we do have a doll for each girl that we are taking with us. They are cute too but they do not look like the girls. These are amazing and just darling, perfect for little hands. I love them!! These are available at Belinda’s Garden on Etsy and very reasonable in price.
Having recently read how important many adoptees feel about having someone that looks like them in the family, I maybe should have considered that beforehand. The girls could not look more different if they tried. As they get older I will look for a company to make custom dolls so they have a “just like me” type doll and hopefully we can make enough connections in the adoption and NOAH community that it won’t make a difference that they don’t look like each other.
Our dossier is on the way to the Chinese Embassy to be authenticated!! We are using Caring Hands and they will go to the Chinese Embassy to drop off and then pick up our Dossier when its finished. Another step forward! The whole process feels like it is taking forever. We did not “expedite” the embassy part of the process because it apparently would only save four days and cost us double ($50 a document vs $25 a document). If it would have saved us 2 weeks or more I would have considered it but the cost did not seem worth a paltry 4 days.
On Monday I hauled the boys to Olympia and we had our I-797’s certified. It is $15.00 a document plus $50 to “expedite” (have it done now while you are there rather than wait four days – SKETCHY). Basically what this means is that the Office of the Secretary of State has a person that looks up the person that notarized your document to be sure they are actually a notary in good standing with the state. It takes two minutes. They staple a paper to the front of your document and its over. Your document is then officially State Authenticated. I sent our Fed Ex package that afternoon (Monday, April 6th) to our agency so she could add it to the other documents and Fed Ex to the courier service.
Last weekend we were in Spokane to see Ethan play drums in a concert. He does an amazing job and I love to see him play. Ethan is very musically inclined and can play several instruments. At school Ethan plays the viola in the Orchestra but this concert was for his Music School where Ethan takes drum lessons. The concert featured folks from the very young (maybe 6 or 7) to several in their 60’s and everything in-between. They tackled nearly every genre of music, it was pretty impressive to see.
On our little trip to see Ethan we found even more amazing eateries The first one was a little place called The Yellow Church Cafe in Ellensburg. I was surprised to find some gluten free options. We enjoyed a nice burger with a side of clam chowder before hoping back on the road. Stopping in Ritzville to see Kurt and Wanda we visited for a while before we were in need of more fuel we visited Cow Creek Mercantile for dinner. Unfortunately Kurt was on call and couldn’t join us for dinner. Usually everything I get from Cow Creek is spot on but my salad was underwhelming that evening for whatever reason. I love this place and the people that work there so we will give it another shot for sure. Next time I will try the GF pizza.
We checked in Spokane at the Courtyard by Marriott (points!) and later in the evening ordered a dismal GF pizza from Pizza Rita. Just no, the crust was too thick and sort of gummy and the sauce was nearly bitter. It was NOT our night. I generally check the ratings to be sure and should have done it for Pizza Rita, this is what I get for skipping that step.
In the morning Paul and I had breakfast at the beautiful Frank’s Diner. You usually have to wait but the food is delicious and Frank’s is in an old train car so it is beautiful. When you watch the cooks work it is pretty crazy how many work so effectively in a pretty small space.
After Ethan’s concert we had dinner at the Japanese Steakhouse Shogun. This is a hibachi style restaurant and you get dinner and a “show”. It is entertaining and a lot of fun. If you have not been to one I recommend it. The place has great ambiance and the show is fantastic. The food is not as good as Tokyo in Federal Way (no Yum Yum sauce?!?!). Please note that after seeing the antics of your chef for the evening your kids (or husband) may break a million eggs trying to perfect the technique. Bethany did this after a trip to Fuji Japanese Steakhouse years ago.
Sunday morning we got up and went to breakfast at the Satellite Diner. I had the Chili Cheese omelet and it was delicious. Diners have the best breakfasts and this was no exception. After breakfast we grabbed Gluten Free cupcakes at Boots Bakery you know, for the drive home. I have not had a cupcake in at least a year and a half and these were AMAZING. If they can just do one that is low carb, I’d have to live there. We bought a few and each of us had a teeny bit of each one. My favorites were the coconut one and the chocolate caramel but they were all perfect and delicious. I want Boots Bakery to open a branch here. I am stunned that Spokane has so many Gluten Free bakeries and we are hard pressed to come up with one.
Our last naughty stop was at the Red Horse Diner in Ellensburg. We’ve been here before and LOVE it. This place is a 50’s style diner and has fantastic food. We are talking the BEST onion rings and shakes you can imagine. The burgers are good but.. the onion rings are to die for. I cheated and had 2 onion rings. I PAID for it in spades. I am not sorry.
We had a simple (belated) Easter Celebration on Tuesday night. This was the only night we could all be there so you have to do what works. We made pizza and had a veggie tray, a green salad, a ton of fruit (blackberries, blueberries, mango slices, grapes), cookies and ice cream for dessert. It was a nice calm evening. The kids got a little chocolate and $$. We did not do the egg hunt this year this was just too much going on to pull it together. They usually have to HUNT for the money eggs. Next year I think Easter will be really crazy with the girls.
We found out this morning that our daughter Bethany got in to a masters program in global health practice and epidemiology at University of South Florida. That kid has a lot going on and I’m certain she will do great things. We are really proud of all Bethany’s accomplishments. We will so be going to Florida to “visit”. She just doesn’t even know. Florida has a ton of things I want to see so I think she is sunk.
I got up at 4am Wednesday morning and took my mom to the hospital to have surgery. She had a huge alien baby (which was actually a nest of 4 hernias) that needed to be removed. It was worse than the surgeon thought and took an extra hour to complete. The surgeon said she did well but they kept her in the hospital. Paul and I saw her in the evening and then went to the house to pick Cookie up and feed the kitties. Having Cookie at the house was nuts. She was greeted with a lot of “fanfare” from the other dogs. Snickers is like an overzealous groupie. He LOVES Cookie and gets a little stalker-ish around her. Our evening was spent trying to keep him away from her.
Wednesday I also took the boys shopping. Ethan needed some shorts for the summer. Kids grow like weeds! Let me get a plug in for Burlington Coat Factory. We picked up five pairs of shorts, most ran in the $15.00 range (everyone knows I LOVE a deal) and two packs of Puma socks. We moseyed down the mall and hit Old Navy and frankly I did MUCH better at Burlington Coat Factory. We did grab two pairs from Old Navy but the “sale” prices sucked. Seriously 2 pair of shorts for the same price as one. That is NOT a “sale” Old Navy!
I woke up to a great surprise this morning. Our I-800a was approved and the copy of out I797 was my e-mail!! Not a minute too soon either, we leave today to go to Spokane and see Ethan’s concert, we return Sunday. We will get our two copies of the I-797 notarized today then Monday we will drive to Olympia to get the state certification done and send it off to our Dossier gal and she will have the entire package authenticated at the Chinese Embassy using a courier. Wednesday my mom has surgery and I will be hanging out with her for a few days to be sure she is on the mend. Do you ever feel you are on a hamster wheel??
Remember I mentioned that our Home study provider had left out some basic stuff about Carl, so the USCIS had issued and RFE (Request for Evidence)? Friday Carl went to a walk in clinic for his appointment. While he was there the fire department came because of a gas leak?!?! He finally had his check up and got his paper signed off on three hours later.
Paul had a doctor’s appointment that morning and then he went to the college to take a test for his the mostly online classes he is taking. He passed of course, no surprise. I’m really proud he is pursuing more education to enhance his skills.
Friday afternoon we got a letter from our mortgage company. We were expecting an 11K check which is a refund of the VA funding fee from the last re-fi of the house. When we re-financed the house Paul was waiting for his VA determination, now that they agree.. Paul is broken, they refund those fees. Two or three different employees told us to expect a check. Imagine our total stunned surprise when they sent a letter stating they had applied the refund to our balance. I felt totally defeated.
Friday evening we attended the Act 6 Senior Scholar Capstone Celebration at Northwest University. We were very proud that Bethany has done such a great job and will graduate in just over a month with a four year degree. Pictured above is Bethany with her fellow cadre member, friend and roomie Meena. These girls are going to do big things.. so look out! The ceremony was sweet, funny and a little sad. They have all come so far. The celebration was held in the chapel and it was beautifully decorated. They served AMAZING desserts. The cheesecake was to die for!
Some times express isn’t so express… The amendment to the home study was finished and our social worker sent it out Saturday via Fed Ex Express using our account. This means our critical package should have arrived at USCIS Tuesday morning by 8:30 am. I woke up at 6:30 am to track the package and about 7 in the morning the status changed saying there was no delivery date. Um what? I call Fed Ex and they open a case. I get a call back and I am told it was an accident my package did not go out on time. I did not lose my mind but WTF? I mean really this is the excuse you tell a customer? If there is a weather delay or an accident or?? I think we can all understand but when it is this important “Uh I forgot” is totally and completely unacceptable. The woman told me she would call me back after talking to the folks in Memphis to see if they were going to unload the plane. She never called. I am beyond disappointed.
Paul and I had both been told to start a Go Fund Me account for the girls’ adoption. I was thinking we have a Reese’s Rainbow account but I suppose if you are not familiar with the adoption stuff how would people know Reece’s Rainbow is legitimate. In any case my wonderful husband set up a Go Fund Me site for the girls and Carl (who clearly can’t wait to be a big brother) was pimping my website even at the walk in clinic. Gotta love it!
I was hoping for a much different update today but this is the update we have.
While I was stuck in San Diego for a month (mostly all by myself) I did do a lot of little felt food projects. I made items for busy bags and pages for quiet books. The pages above aren’t all finished yet and clearly I was “winging” it. I’m hoping to have at least one book finished by the time we head to China. Of course I have so many little “projects” to do and stuff to clean out, grant applications to fill in and regular house “stuff” that needs to get done I’m not sure I’ll have enough time. But that is my goal anyway.
I LOVE Etsy. I find things made by the most clever folks. Recently I was on Etsy looking for Busy Bag ideas and came across a great store called Curious Minds Busy Bags. They have fabulous ideas for Busy Bags, they have a lot that are Montessori. I ordered the Feed Me Busy Bag in Ladybug and Bee. That Bee looks a little suspicious! When they came in the mail the shop owner had added a card telling me that they also have a Curious Minds Web site with even more options. Seriously I could spend a ton of money there. The prices are reasonable but shipping looks like it would add up (of course doesn’t it always?). I also found that Curious Minds Busy bags is on Amazon and Ebay. Seriously they are everywhere I shop.
My plan for their first Christmas home is a play kitchen and then felt food items. I know those play kitchens get played with a lot and are a favorite for years to come. I hope to get the girls into “cooking” while I’m cooking. I know those play kitchens and play food are popular for YEARS so I think it would be a good investment and provide a lot of play time.
I had what seemed like an infinite amount of hours to fret over what we still need to do, things we still need to gather, and worry about not having enough stuff (as ridiculous as that might sound) for the girls. When you have a baby you sort of gather as you go along and by the time that baby is a toddler you have all the toddler .. crap. I did have a ton of kid stuff and I’m sorry I got rid of lots of it now. I have fussed around about the fingerprinting appointments, the I-800a that we still do not have the approval on, the next set of I-800 papers and the grant applications I want to turn in (Keep your fingers crossed). I sent one yesterday and I have one to send in today and maybe another tomorrow.
I know we still need a table and chair set and two big girl chairs for the living room. I’m hoping activities can happen at the little table and TV time can happen in the little chairs. I remember hauling my chair to the living room to watch cartoons when I was a little girl, and I remember the kids table with the apple pattern on it that all of us kids sat at for Christmas dinner.
I want to pick up two Cozy Coupe ride on toys because every toddler loves those darn things.
We have been amassing a large board book library. In San Diego I found a couple of sweet little books. The first one is Good Night! and the Second is Peas on Earth. Both are just too cute and I couldn’t pass them up.
I put together a “meal kit” for the diaper bag. The each includes two silicone bibs, 2 silicone table mats, utensils that you can wash or toss, two pouch spoons and two fresh food feeders. I stuffed all of this in a Ju-Ju-Be “Be Quick” Bag. I know a lot of folks use the disposable bibs but with two toddlers I thought I’d be buying those things all the time so I’d be better off getting something that was easy to just wipe clean and use again.
In a separate medium Ju-Ju-Be “set” bag I’m keeping all of my extra wipes. Boogie Wipes, antibacterial wipes, Kleenex splasher wipes and a Kleenex pack. I guess I will be ditching the handbag in favor of a baby bag for a while.
I’m loving the Ju-Ju-Be bags and accessories. We will not be discussing exactly how many Ju-Ju-Be items I’ve purchased. Most on the Facebook B/S/T site (Buy Sell Trade) and the Ju-Ju-Be Pink Room. The best part is you can get custom items like seatbelt straps, “boxlets”, Quicklets, Key Chains, Ouch Pouches, holders for your EOS or lip balm. You can pick up long discontinued accessories like the bottle rocket (I would love a couple of those) and the wardrobe station. You can even find items in discontinued patterns.
New patterns come out all the time. REALLY love the new legacy series The Admiral print! Paul needs this, its cute and not too girly.
I was hoping I would be able to get my Tula there too. However the Facebook B/S/T forums for Tula had the carriers alright, but they were asking WAAYYY over retail for them. Some going for over a THOUSAND dollars. WHAT?!?! Its cute but it is after all only a baby carrier. I removed myself from both Tula groups as soon as I saw it was just too rich for my blood. I found a cute standard Tula in stock and bought it. See above for the print I ended up with. I had no clue they were so crazy popular. Tula often sells out within MINUTES of re-stocking. MINUTES folks. Of course now that I’ve seen Isabella’s last update I wonder if I should have gotten a toddler size as well (25-50 lbs). PPFFTT
We had submitted our i-800a to USCIS and were waiting for our fingerprint appointment cards to arrive. Both Carl and I got ours in the mail on Monday. USCIS says maybe they were separated and will show up Tuesday. They were not in the mail on Tuesday either. WHAT? I called the post office and spoke to James, told him what was going on and what I was looking for. James called me back seriously not even 30 minutes later with Paul’s missing fingerprint cards. WHOO HOO!! Paul grabbed them on his way home from Fred Meyer and we were in business!
Last night I submitted our request for an expedite to USCIS with the evidence that Gabby has a serious heart issue and needs care NOW. You can not submit for an expedite until you have your fingerprint appointment cards.
This morning we piled in the Kia and drove to the Seattle USCIS office in Tukwila. We were attempting a “Walk in” because our actual appointment was set for 2 weeks from now. Thankfully they allowed it and said nothing. We were in and out in about 45 minutes.
When we arrived home I had an e-mail waiting that not only had we been assigned an officer but we had been approved for a medical expedite. YES!
Then things went a little sideways. I get another e-mail this afternoon that a few things were missing from our home study and need to be added via an addendum. They all surround Carl. Apparently there was some language missing that he had not had any previous home studies and that he had been informed that he had a duty to report any changes in his circumstance. That last bit is actually covered in the I-800a supplement 1 but okay. Nothing about his health was stated either. So now we need to find out of he needs the whole medical exam and blood work or if she can just write her impressions (based on what the request for evidence said, that’s what it SOUNDS like).
I am so amped up over this I e-mail the Home Study Agency, the social worker that did the home study. I asked on our FB group and then called both the agency and then the SW. We should have some sort of resolution tomorrow. This will slow our approval by at least a week, maybe more. GRRR.
What no one tells you is that adoption is NOT for the faint of heart. It is frustrating and tedious, the red tape alone threatens to be your undoing. You are on the edge of your seat for every twist and turn. I cringe every time the phone rings and it’s Wasatch. I’m terrified that they will be calling to tell me something has happened to Gabriella. Several parents in our group have been on the receiving end of a similar call, so you worry all the time about a little person on the other side of the earth that you’ve never even met.
On March 9th USCIS received our Fed Ex package with our I-800A. March 11th we received the official acceptance notice. We are now waiting on the fingerprinting appointment. Unfortunately this step is not expedited and we will not get approval or denial of our expedite until after we do the fingerprint appointment.
If this seems like Deja Vu it totally is.. you do have to be fingerprinted twice (and pay twice) during this process. This feels like nickel and diming to me, we should not need to pay for fingerprints twice, they are not going to change in two months. There are an awful lot of steps that are doubled, the adoption process needs to be streamlined and prices decreased so more kids can find families. I know, I know I am ranting again but it drives me mad.