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.
I paid for an orphanage call with Ladybugs and Love, I got the update and was so excited I screamed and scared Bethany half to death (she was still sleeping).
They sent over 4 pictures, a one minute video and answers to a few questions I asked. Waiting is absolutely excruciating and any picture or shred of information is heaven. I have a few more questions to ask but these were all on my list.
What is her favorite food?
Bing Jie doesn’t especially like anything. She eats everything given to her.
Is she a picky eater?
No, she’s not.
Is she allergic to any foods?
Not what we found.
Is she allergic to any medications?
She’s been very healthy, doesn’t take medicine often, so we’ve not found she’s allergic to any medication.
Does she have a favorite toy?
She likes soft balls or soft blocks. She likes to hold toys in her arms.
What kind of formula is she on?
She takes various brand formula.
What makes her feel better when she is upset?
She doesn’t get upset often, unless she’s hungry. She will suck her fingers when she’s upset. Pick her up and walk around makes her feel better.
Has she been healthy?
Does she take a pacifier?
She doesn’t take pacifier. She sucks her thumb.
Her updated measurements from Mar 6.
Height: 85cm; Weight: 11.5kg; Head: 48cm; Chest: 53cm; Teeth: 10; Foot: 11cm. (25.3 lbs and 33 inches tall)
What is her daily schedule?
6:00am Mouth care
6:30am congee plus hard boiled egg.
8:30am get up
9:00-9:20am extra meal: Steamed egg.
10:30am wash hands great ready for lunch.
11:00am lunch and clean. Nutrition meals or food made from flour (such as Chinese dumplings).
12:00-1:30pm Nap time
2:00pm Get up, drink water, eat fruit.
2:00-4:20pm free activity time, exercise, play her favorite toys or play games with other children and the caregivers.
4:20-4:30pm ready for dinner
4:30pm dinner (same as lunch)
5:00-7:00pm watch TV
7:30pm take a bottle of formula (Nestle) 250ml.
8:30pm go to bed. she sleeps well.
**There is still time to participate and help bring Isabella and Gabriella home, head on over to the win an ipad page and enter to win an ipad mini. Tickets are only $10, not only can you win a great prize we, you will be helping bring two little girls get a family.
I picked Bethany up at the airport at 9am Monday, we dropped of her bags at the room and headed out for a Sea World Adventure. We have military ID, so we were allowed entrance free of charge. The usual charge for adults is $89.00. Parking is another $16.00 ($21.00 for “up front” parking). There are a number of “upgrades” to your Sea World visit. The only thing we added was the dining plan $34.99 (If purchased online you could save $5.00 each plan).
Here is my honest review. I would have been livid had I paid $89 per person to get in. This is close to what you pay to get into Disneyland and there is not nearly the amount of activities, rides, shows etc to constitute that much money. I had heard a few very negative comments about Sea World just prior to going, I honestly cannot say I personally saw anything that said animal mistreatment to me. In fairness I have not seen the suggested documentary, so it is not for me to say.
I did think the whales were absolutely breathtaking. It was really exciting to see them. My favorites were the Beluga Whales and the Dolphins. The dolphins were really smart and we watched them play with each other during free time.
I was disappointed in the number of stores/stands and restaurants that were not open. The vast majority of items for sale at the various gift shops were crap. This was a shock after seeing the variety and quality of items available at the San Diego Zoo. I did buy a number of the composite rubber animals but I was looking for a nice souvenir and a non cheesy magnet (never found that).
They did not have the areas with board books for all the different animals (this is a missed opportunity for Sea World).
The Dining Plan: The low down, if you are going to be at the park all day and eat more than one meal, get the plan. Every time through the line you are allowed one entrée, one side or one dessert and a drink. You can go through the line more than once. You do not need to get everything every time. Example of sides: Salads, Watermelon, Pineapple or Strawberry Cups.
The caveat is that apparently the dining plan only works at the four main restaurants at Sea World. Shipwreck Reef Café, Calypso Bay Smokehouse (Baby Back ribs are not on the plan), Café 64 and Mama Stella’s Pizza Kitchen. We went to one at the end called Pineapple Pete’s, it looks like a big restaurant but apparently was not. It also had the worst food hands down in the entire park. The only upside was the pineapple. The dining plan works for drinks, desserts and snacks but ONLY from the 4 main restaurants. They should fix this.
We tried the Shipwreck Reef Café and got cheeseburgers (pretty good) and a bottled water. That was actually breakfast, then we tried BBQ at the Calypso Bay Smokehouse for lunch. I had the brisket and Bethany got the chicken. I thought it was very good. Better than I had expected.
We stopped for coffee at Seaside Coffee and Bakery – my advice DON’T do it. Its a Starbucks (not really, its licensed to the park) and I got bitter awful coffee (undrinkable) and moldy butter. So how long exactly does butter need to sit to get moldy? Disgusted and unimpressed.
We rode the Manta Rollercoaster.. twice. Loved it. Great suspense building. We petted manta rays of all sizes.
We saw penguins of every type both inside and outside. They are so cute! The walrus was enormous with big tusks and whiskers. He caught a fish and was playing with his food at the window.
We saw sea turtles enjoying the sunshine, a miniature octopus, some piranhas and a lot of other fish. All in all we had a great day and saw a lot of things. We stayed at the park for 5 hours, but a visit would not necessarily take that long. If you go do make time to see the Shamu show, it is 20 minutes and really amazing to get to see the whales.
They do have a good size area for the smaller children including a bouncy house, a huge play structure with climbing ropes and tunnels, a “Block pit” filled with large foam blocks. There is a little “sprinkler” type fountain for the kids to play in and several rides fit for any tot. I was impressed by the area.
Paul picked up our Home Study this morning and sent out our I800a to the USCIS, they will have it Monday. Keep your fingers crossed for speedy processing. We included Gabriella’s medical documents as well as the two letters from the International Adoption Doc and the Pediatric Cardiologist both recommending an expedite and explaining the situation with her heart condition. We included the fee of $975 For processing the document and for another round of fingerprinting. Why we need more fingerprinting is beyond me. I swear my fingerprints have not changed in the last two months.
Paul, Carl and Ethan are doing another round of Minecrafting for Adoption. They will be playing on a Mianite server with 131 mods installed. Paul will be giving out a few little gifts for subscriptions to the channel and donations in any amount. Head on over to Twitch.com/Ramious76 to listen in, you will be able to send chat messages to the players.
We had been mired in red tape with the state of Maryland and the background check that can take up to 8 weeks. It finally came in!! We then got a call stating our Home Study was sent to our agency so they can approve it prior to the social worker printing it and having it notarized.
I called the agency and they said our next set of fees were due. We sent a check in for:
CCCWA Dossier Submission Fee (Child 1) 1100
CCCWA Dossier Submission Fee (Child 2) 1100
CCCWA Translation Fee (Child 1) 260
CCCWA Translation Fee (Child 2) 00
Document Processing Fee (Child 1) 1200
Document Processing Fe (Child 2) 1200
Home Study Review Fee 150
For a total of $5010 yesterday (HOLY COW!)
I found out this morning that the director of Social Work for our agency is no longer there. SUPER! I need this approved and moved along with a quickness and this is not good. The office manager said someone requested a meeting about it. What? It is a little late to be concerned about this now. We could travel in as few as 8 weeks and this is not the time for foot dragging at all.
We needed Good Conduct Letters from local law enforcement, we get the first set and the notary stamp was set to expire in February, we needed new ones, we go in and have them re-done explaining everything. We get them back notarized with a date error (China will not accept this) AND with a March expiration on the notary stamp (China will not accept this). Today Paul will pick up another set of Good Conduct Letters and they say the notary stamp has been renewed and they will make sure to put the correct date with no cross outs. This has cost us time and I am not very pleased about it. The letters from local law enforcement need to go into your dossier sets (one for you, one for China and one for the adoption agency). They will all be authenticated at the state level and then again with the Chinese Embassy.
We have the iPad fundraiser going, for $10.00 you can get a ticket to win an iPad mini. I love my iPad! This would be the perfect size to jam into a reasonable sized purse and has a ton of apps available. Once you have an iPad you will wonder what you did without one. We just loaded my old one with a bunch of children’s apps for the girls and we will of course add a few movies for that excruciating trip home.
On the upside if we are able to get to a total of 5K in donations we will post a video of Ethan having his head shaved! Now that will be entertaining! We have an account with Reece’s Rainbow (all donations are tax deductible), checks may be sent directly to Wasatch with “Staley Family” in the memo (also tax deductible) or you can enter the drawing for the iPad mini. Lots of ways to help those little girls.
Pretty great update right?? Hope to have another one very soon!!
As I mentioned in my last post, we both took the Ebags Motherlode Jr backpacks as our carry on. They fit under the seat in front of me (which I did not expect) and I was even able to get my teeny purse mashed under there with it. I knew we would be roaming around a lot so I only brought a small cross body purse.
The packing cubes were SUPER handy! I felt like these really kept my items in check, organized and easy to locate. My feeling is if you are on the fence get a set and give it a go. I was also on the fence and I got a few sets of the Ikea ones just to try. I then bought a set of the Sharper Image ones for Paul but I ended up taking the really huge one (I mean it is GINOURMOUS) to put
all some of my fabric and sewing crap in.
Paul and I made it to California we had a pretty great time and those four days went by so fast it is a blur. We got to visit the San Diego Zoo. What an amazing zoo. We were really lucky and got to see a ton of the animals, most were out and active. While we were at the zoo I managed to stop at pretty much every little shop stand they had an buy all the little composite rubber animals I could find. I was thinking of all the different activities we could use them for. The zoo also had an amazing amount of great children’s books. I only grabbed one because we had just been to Barnes and Noble in the morning and had already bought 6 books. I can’t resist kids books and we want the girls to be readers.
For those of you in the military planning to visit the San Diego Zoo please know your active duty ID gets you in free and onto the bus tour etc. It will also get you a discount purchasing tickets for your friends and family members! That is such a great deal and makes the visit more affordable. You can get a Storipass and have pictures taken at a number of different locations throughout the park. We did buy a picture package that gave us the digital rights (AWESOME) so we could then post or print them if we wanted to. I believe it was 55.00. We had a hard time finding pictures both of us were in for our adoption dossier because I am usually taking the pictures.
Check out these amazing creations using recycled flip flops! I love this idea. They had different animals at each shop/stand in each area. They also had a selection of local wines, olive oils as well as gourmet chocolates. We did get a souvenir for our travel wall (two small animal tiles). I was a little stuck on the beaded flamingo but I finally decided I should just go with a wall item.
We apparently found the most popular BBQ joint in the area. We managed to eat there three times. In our defense.. the BBQ is amazing! The place is Phil’s BBQ and if you are in the area you can’t go wrong with either the Beefy Ribs or the Baby Back Ribs.
We were harassed by a HUGE waffle at the Waffle Spot. That is totally a Low Carber’s nightmare right there. This waffle was persistent.. I did resist however and ordered the Baja Omelet (I may or may not have licked the giant waffle once or twice). I was thinking this place is a little sketchy since it is The Waffle Spot in the morning and turns into the Amigo Spot in the evening but we were pleasantly surprised. The food was very good and the people were nice, plus it is really close by.
We visited Old Town and had a fantastic breakfast at El Patio de Old Town. I noticed very mixed reviews (depending on the site) about this place just now when I was looking for a web site to refer people to. We had a great experience and the food was very good, we watched the gal make fresh tortillas (actually the smell brought us in), everything was fresh and delicious. We both had the enchiladas. They were offering a breakfast buffet but I am very leery of buffets so this was a better choice.
While in Old Town we had a visit to the Whaley House Museum. If the name seems sort of familiar you may have seen it on a ghost/paranormal show. It is a lovely old home with an interesting history. Tickets were $6.00 and sold in the house next to the Whaley House, this also serves as the gift shop as well.
We found a pizza place and had gluten free pizza. This pizza had a nice thin crispy crust and was delicious! The place is called Project Pie. When I saw the name I was thinking Banana Cream not pizza, so glad I looked it up! We probably paid $25.00 for three personal sized gluten free pizzas. Let me just say this is more pizza for less $$ than the pizza we usually get.
I found a room at the Marriott with a kitchen. This is huge because who can continue to eat all meals out? Ok so maybe I could but I’m thinking the budget would be happier with less of that business. I made Chicken Soup and I think I will put a bunch into bags too for at least a couple meals every week while I am here. The kitchen is small but the fridge is full sized, there is also a microwave, dishwasher and cook top. To make this work we picked up a crock pot (no oven here) at Target.
The bedroom has a king sized bed and its a tight fit in there with the dresser, there is a sink space and a bathroom with tub/shower combo and toilet. Parking is a pain here and will run an extra 13.00 a night unless you are staying an entire month and in that case your parking is free says the gal at the front desk. This is a great bonus. The nickel and diming drives me nuts so I’m happy when that works out.
I made it across the boarder twice now and into Tijuana. I am taking part in a study and this has been pretty interesting. I got the results of my saliva test and it is shocking to say the least. The list of things they found boggles the mind. I will be interested to see what happens. I was able to meet a few other people there for different treatments (not part of the study), one woman was there with her son. The son had suffered an accidental gunshot to the head and was partially paralyzed on one side. After the first treatment he had he could open his hand (which has not been possible since the brain injury occurred). I am coming at a time when a lot of others will be there and I have said I will do my stuff in the lobby. Really its because I am nosey and want to visit with people and see why they are there and what results they have had. So far I’ve not met any other study participants (probably because most of them finished already, I was late or they are on a different schedule). My blood was sent to a specialty lab in Europe to be tested and I will be waiting to see those results too. I love this sort of thing.
I see a lot of folks coming to Tijuana for dental care. I am making a list of dentists to check out.
I have one last restaurant to comment on. I had plans to get out and get a haircut, find a fabric store etc but I felt a little yucky so I came back to the room and planted myself. I ordered dinner from Rays Mexican Restaurant using Eat 24. This is pretty inexpensive when I think of ordering Mexican food at home. Minimum delivery order is $25 an that is a TON of food. Seriously a ton. On the upside I have breakfast all set! The Tamale was sort of odd but delicious. I’ve never had veggies and potatoes in a tamale before, It was HUGE! I tried chicken enchiladas (I will eat that for breakfast) and a beef burrito which is HUGE and very good. This is not that craptastic burritos you usually get this doesn’t have the filler, it is pretty much all meat. Love it! That covers the trip.. I do have another update but I will write that separately.
At the last minute I found out I would be in San Diego for a month. Cue hysteria, this is not more than 30 minutes after I had set up a sewing class so I can learn to actually use the sewing machine, not to mention we are knee deep in the middle of this whole adoption thing. A really nice gal over at Quality Sewing in Federal Way graciously gave me a quick and dirty lesson and I’ve been working on my felt food for the girls.
I will drag the sewing machine and my fabric with me so I can keep myself busy. I bought the fabric to make pack and play sheets and crib railing covers. I have packed felt to make quiet book pages. We shall see if this gets done! I am not really looking forward to nearly an entire month on my own. I will be really lonely (I won’t even have a dog with me). Lucky for me Paul is coming for the first 4 days. We will have a great time running amok in a new city. I will be in San Diego for our anniversary so we are going to use this as our little anniversary get away. I doubt we will have much time for running amok together for some time after the girls arrive!
This is a little bit of a dry run using the eBags motherlode bag that everyone RAVES about. It will also be the first time I am NOT taking my big computer (laptop).. only my ipad and the surface (which we plan to do in China). I have a few packing cubes (from Ikea) and bought a set of nice ones for Paul (but ended up stealing the big one for all my fabric.. it is HUGE!). I think the Ikea packing cubes will work fine if you are not a big traveler. They are not nearly as sturdy as the ones from eBags, Dot&Dot or Sharper Image. I will potentially invest in some of those for the trip to China and use the Ikea ones for those itty bitty baby clothes!! Even itty bitty babies need packing cubes! I hate the idea that I will be gone an entire month. PPFFTT
On the adoption front: We are stuck WAITING on the State of Maryland and they take EIGHT weeks to do a background check. EIGHT WEEKS?!?! Really? That sort of deadlock for so long is totally unacceptable and completely ridiculous.
The cardiologist and the International Adoption Doctor are both writing letters to expedite our adoption. We have requested that our social worker send the home study in to our agency (before the clearance comes in) so that we are ready to go as soon as it arrives. I’m sure she will do it because she is on top of stuff. I wrote out the I-800A and the supplement (and paper clipped all the requested documents to it). Carl will be opening all the mail and letting me know what is what when it arrives. It feels like juggling or an odd game of Jenga since everything is dependent on something else and I do not want this crazy trip to interfere with our adoption.
Little Snickers woke up with an issue this morning and had to go to the vet. I hate it when our little guys are sick. Of course it would happen the day before we leave! Ok.. I am all packed and we have a car coming at 4am to whisk us to the airport. Man that is going to happen quick isn’t it? Cheers!
Don’t forget to head on over and check out the iPad promotion!! I love, love, love my iPad!