Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Fire #1 (internal) So today I lost my cool. I was tired of my emails being ignored, tired of being on a "need to know basis" when it comes to our case, tired of the who does what routine, just plain tired. Maybe I am blowing things out of proportion- but I am extremely frustrated about this unnecessary waiting for whoever (other than us) to do something! I made some phone calls, I sent some e-mails.
If I've learned anything from my job as a paralegal working with crazy people on a daily basis, it's that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Well today, I just had a minor meltdown. I'd like to say I'm better now. But I know the only thing that would make it better is me getting in my car and driving to the post office with a complete set of documents to be sent to Columbia to be Apostilled. Short of that I am going to have to be "that person" with the phone calls/e-mails/whatever it takes. I guess I just know what it's like to be on the receiving end of crazy and it's not pretty and I really hate to do that to anyone. The only thing I am asking for is for someone to be proactive on our behalf.
The way I try to treat everyone in my job is I think of the people I deal with as "what if this was my mom? What if this was my dad? What if this whiny annoying person that's been injured was my best friend?" Could I be doing anything else in my power to help them or make their case go faster or make their experience smoother? If this was my mom's case I would be diligent in requesting medical records, researching their case, I would follow up with them in a timely manner when they leave me a message. In other words, I would treat their case as if it was the most important case I have. But enough of my ranting. I am just on fire right now!

Fire #2 (external) Yesterday I came home on my lunch break to walk the dogs and it looks like the woods behind our house is ON FIRE! Thick smoke is filling the air, ashes are blowing all around. I am nervous. Chad is out of town on his trip to New Orleans (he's back now ;0) and I am a little freaked out. Stay at home moms are in their driveways trying to figure out what's on fire. In my head I am thinking about what to grab out of the house (#1 the dogs #2-adoption file folders (I am not filling all that stuff out again), #3 wedding photo albums #4 How am I going to fit all that new baby stuff in my car?) So I call the fire department to see if there is a control burn of something going on. Hmmmm......they don't know of anything. I get on my boots because high heels are not conducive to woods adventure. I poke around a little bit, but it is so windy, I can't even tell which direction the smoke is coming from. I call our friend Mark who lives in the next neighborhood over. He says "I'll be right over" I call work and tell them I am running late because our woods are on fire. I'm sure that sounded convincing. However, in the few minutes it takes for him to get to the house the wind dies down and we can see the smoke is coming from a HUGE lawn fire in Mark's neighborhood. I guess the leaves were wet so the guy pours like 10 gallons of gas on it. Yikes. I won't tell you what I was really thinking about him... but anyway, I just thought I would share this story with you because it's not everyday that you are making a fire escape plan from your house!

Monday, March 30, 2009

So that's what it looks like.....

So today when I got home from work, look what was in the mailbox! Something that has been Apostilled! Our marriage license that I sent in to Tallahassee last Monday was in the box- all official and stuff! How cool is that? I'm glad were aren't living in Florida anymore because the Apostille rate PER DOCUMENT there is $20 (for court certified items such as a Marriage certificate) and $10 PER DOCUMENT for all other documents. In South Carolina it's only $2.00 per document no matter what the item is. With the 30 or so documents that need to be Apostilled here, you can imagine how the cost would really soar is we were living in Florida. California is the most expensive, weighing in at $25.00 per document. Meagan, move somewhere else if you and Matt ever decide to adopt a baby! And several items we are sending require two originals..... cha ching. God bless South Carolina.
We are still waiting on the draft of our home study. Argghhhh. My patience are stretching very thin. I guess I am going to have to call tomorrow. Everything else is ready to go to our SC Apostille office so I can show you how cool South Carolina items look with the fancy-schmancy seal and attached certificate.
P.S.- The spell check on blogger is not working tonight, I would like to apologize for any terribly spel-ed werds.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sister Day :0)

Today Britt and I had sister day! We went to Ikea in Charlotte.... Whoa. I've never been to an actual store, just subscribe to the catalog. It was amazing! This picture does us no justice-It was REALLY windy outside.
After walking 8 miles inside the maze of modern, portable living on the second floor we ate lunch in the cafe. We had Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy with lingonberry sauce and Swedish sparkling water to drink. It was pretty darn good. Britt bought a petal chandelier. It came in a box the size of a box of cereal. It was very entertaining watching her put it together. I bought these adorable track lights with fish on them- cute! And a really groovy portable collapsible high chair thingy. I had to put that together and it was missing the cross bar on the back set of legs. I went on Ikea.com a few minutes ago and let "Anna" know. Luckily I won't be needing the chair for a while.

It was a very fun day, well worth the drive to Charlotte. If I had to sum up Ikea in a sentence it would be "I love those cheap, modern Swedes with their miles of funky goodness!" After that we had a nice sister bonding dinner together and I left the waitress extra tip because she thought we were twins! I hope someday "Baby Deetz" can have a great brother or sister like I have. It's funny- I spent the first half of my life trying to stay as far away from my sister as possible and the last half never being able to get enough of her kindness, humor and friendship. I Love my Uggie!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Practice.....

We were able to get some more parent practice this weekend with Sam and Seth. While Jana and Blair were out of town, we volunteered to watch the boys and we had a super fun time. On Friday night before Blair left the house he told the boys SEVERAL times "Now you boys be on your best behavior. DO NOT change Chad and Sarah's minds about having kids, do you understand me?" "Yes Sir". On Friday night we watched the "Ben 10" season finale on T.V. (Don't worry I didn't know what that was either, but I had no trouble catching on) Then I watched the boys play some Wii, (it's amazing how they catch right on to how to manipulate those controls, I'll stick to bowling) THEN we watched "How to Eat Fried Worms" (I hear that's up for an Oscar this year) Ok I'm joking about the Oscar, don't run out and rent that one, UNLESS you have pre-adolescent boys in the house. So by the time we went to bed it was about 12:30! I thought we would sleep in in the morning. WRONG. I guess they were really excited to start the day!

So around 7:45 (Yes, 7:45AM) I made mini M&M pancakes (a variation on Rick's chocolate chip deliciousness) WITH whipped cream on top, we watched some cartoons, played some more Wii and then got ready to go and see the new Pixar movie- Monsters v. Aliens IN 3-D! So we drove to Greenville, Brittany in tow, in the pouring rain. What a great day for a movie. It was highly entertaining and the 3-D effects were pretty darn cool. I think the boys enjoyed it.... Here they are in their 3-D glasses. We had to photo-op when we got back to the house because it was raining cats and dogs outside the theater.

We had such a great time this weekend with the boys~ I would do it again anytime. Sam and Seth are a lot of fun and are really funny, sweet kids. Jana and Blair you've done a GREAT job, we'll definitely be coming over for parenting classes.

One more picture- I don't think we'll have to worry about Alex (our dog) liking kids- he obviously seemed like having them around very much too!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Star of Confusion

A weather report before I get started:
5 day forcast in Spartanburg- Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain
5 day forcast in St. Petersburg- Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow
See it could always be worse.....

The star of confusion. Let me explain. Imagine a star with 5 points. The center is us. One point is Portia (our home study social worker) and the other points are C.W.A Flat Rock, C.W.A. Charleston, the United States government offices, and the final point of the star is Russia. Are you with me so far (cause that was the easy part).

We are at the stage now of all of those points needing to connect. Portia provides documents to C.W.A. in Flat Rock and C.W.A. in Flat Rock transfers the documents to C.W.A. in Charleston to be notarized. (The reason for that hand off is so that we only need to get documents Apostilled in Columbia, not in Columbia and Charlotte, NC) Which will save us precious time and money. Portia will also provide information to the USCIS office for our visas and 1-600A form to be approved (See U.S. government point) THEN all of those documents supposedly makes their way back to us so that we can in turn, send them to the SC Secretary of State's Office to be Apostilled (the Notary for the Notary) to send to the final and post important point of the star- RUSSIA. Are you as confused as I am? Now I say supposedly because none of this has actually happened. We are just "hanging out in limbo" Today I sent about 15 emails asking who exactly was going to provide which document and when. At this point it's a matter of logistics. We've done everything that we can do on our own power.

It's a matter of those other points of the star coming together!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bermuda v. Uncle Sam

Usually you can find me at H&R Block about a week before April 15th. This year I was especially dreading income tax time because this is the first year Chad hasn't been a full time student, so I figured that we would have to repay Uncle Sam this year. So I was planning on waiting until April 11th or so to file our taxes- HOWEVER, we needed to provide our last three years income tax returns for our home study, including 2008. So I went on Friday, March 13th (fitting huh?) to take care of it early and I was pleasantly surprised that we were getting money back. Well, yesterday we received our return via direct deposit (that was fast huh?) So literally we paid Uncle Sam weekly from our paychecks, then Uncle Sam paid us back from our tax returns, then we are going to turn around in the next weeks and put the money right back into his pocket when we pay the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to file our Petition for adopting an orphan. Maybe we'll earn like 25 cents in interest before we need to give it back.....but then we'll have to claim that interest next year. Do you see the vicious cycle here people? But truthfully, we couldn't be more happy to have the money to go ahead and take care of that!
It's funny how your life can change so quickly. After Christmas we were planning to use our tax return for our annual cruise (this year it was going to be Bermuda!) And three short months later we are saying "I am so happy we can pay the government our tax dollars back again!" You've seen those commercials- having a baby changes everything? Well it's certainly true.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Southern Living Photo Shoot

Slowly but surely we are inching our way to the completion of our Dossier. This is the most exciting thing so far because we are actually sending this to Russia to be put on the waiting list for a baby. Please say a prayer for us that Portia gets the draft of our home study to us because without that we are in a holding pattern. I don't know how long that usually takes, but I am trying to be patient (not by best quality) and keep things in perspective- it was only a week from Saturday that she actually visited our house. The good news is that we've raised enough money to send with our Dossier- almost $12,000! God is so good and you have been so good to us too. Without your generosity we could have never realized this dream. Now we are on to our "second round" of fund raising, another $11,000 or so to cover the second half of our Russia expenses and travel expenses. After we get our home study in writing we can apply for a few grants and even a loan if necessary. However, the grants require MORE paperwork and documents to be sent, and I don't see how that is possible. Also- the Pampered Chef fundraiser is in place, Daddy is making crosses like a madman, and we have had a few people mention making contributions to our C.W.A. family builders fund, so maybe we won't have to fill anything else out! That would be an answer to prayer and a savior to our sanity.

Anyway- today we got together our 12 pictures depicting our home (inside and out) including where the baby will eat/sleep/play, pictures of us, and pictures of our immediate family to send with our Dossier. That was easier said than done! It's hard boiling down thousands of pictures into 5 personal pictures 7 house pics AND I don't know why, but for some reason I didn't take pictures of our house when it was squeaky clean for our home study. So I had to straighten things up for my "Southern Living" photo shoot of the exterior of the house, back yard, baby's room, baby's bathroom, kitchen, living room, and dining room. Luckily, photographs hide a multitude of little sins- tumbleweeds of dog hair and dust bunnies are not visible on the 8 mega pixel camera (thank goodness Chad's parents didn't go with the 10 mega pixel- I might of had to dust! Yuck!) I opted to leave out the ones covered in snow because I figure since St. Petersburg is always covered in snow- Spartanburg will look like a balmy vacation retreat if I chose some "springy" pictures. I think I think about this stuff too much. If my day job doesn't pan out, Southern Living here I come..... "just throw this blanket over this stack of paperwork, dahlin' everyone will think it's the latest trend in home decor!"

Shhh.... Don't tell but 5 minutes before this picture was taken you couldn't actually see the top of the table for the pile of adoption papers!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sick Work

I don't know whether it's a combo of exhaustion from this weekend, spring allergies, the mold/dust/heavy stinky perfume combo at work, or this dumb cold I've been fighting for weeks, but I decided to take a much needed sick day today to try and catch up and get back into the swing of things. I went to bed last night at 9:30, woke up briefly to call into work, and then slept again till 10:30. Then I sat in the big chair under a blanket, organizing the mountain of paperwork that has taken over our table/living room/office. Then you won't believe what I did- took a nap! I guess my body just needs a break. Hopefully this will cure the daily headaches, sore throat and overall feeling of ickyness that has followed me around lately.
I did manage to find our real estate house listing statement (size, style, details) about our house for our Home Statement for the adoption and send of a certified copy of our marriage license to be Apostilled in Florida. But other than that I've watched the Price is Right, checked e-mail, and cooked some noodles for lunch. In a few minutes I plan on returning to the chair to read a book and perhaps take another snooze. Some days we all need a break. Today is my day- tomorrow, back to the real world.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

To Awanta and beyond.....

We had a great time this weekend on the parent youth retreat at Awanta. We just got back a few minutes ago and boy are we tired. We played games and fellowshipped all weekend long- even though we stayed up way too late and woke up way too early, it was a fantastic trip. We had daily devotions, praise music, gross games, hummer rides up the mountain, and horse back rides. Chad had "parents only" and "youth only" classes and I think overall it was a great trip. Pictured above is our whole group, minus a few families that had to leave early and me. Notice the empty space in the front row- I will be photoshopped in at a later place and time. And my d-group, minus Ms. Debbie, Erin, Katie, and Lauren who were not able to make the trip. They are so precious!
This weekend demonstrated the love of family and the love for our children. We have some really great kids in our group and some really fun loving and devoted parents too- I mean, if you really didn't love your kid- would you stick an Oreo to your forehead and wait for it to melt and run down your face? Go Pirate Carol!
Or sleep on glorified army cots with one shower per 20 campers?
I don't think so! It just goes to show we would go to the ends of the earth for our children- whether that be an hour away at a retreat center sleeping in the wilderness or thousands of miles away in a Russian orphanage.
Thanks Uggie for updating the blog for us! Our baby will have the best Auntie in the World!
XOXO- Sarah

Friday, March 20, 2009

Auntie Uggy reporting for blog duty!

Hello blog followers! In lieu of Chad and Sarah being gone on the Parent Youth retreat with the church youth group, Sarah asked me (Brittany) to take over blog duties for a couple of days! For those of you that do not know me, I am Sarah's younger sister, and soon to be "Auntie Uggy". Long story on the uggy part...but anyways, here goes....

I can't tell you how excited I am for my nephew or niece to arrive. Whenever anyone asks me the question "What's new?" I now get to say "Well...my sister and brother-in-law have decided to adopt a child from Russia"! I am so anxious for Chad and Sarah to get that call that they have been referred a child. To find out how old they are, if they are a boy or girl, and how long it will be until they can join our family. But the thing that I am MOST excited about is seeing the joy on my sister and bro-in-laws faces.

I keep thinking how BLESSED this child will be, they have no idea how lucky they will be. They will have the best parents in the whole world...a Mom who is a fantastic cook, and actually likes to make cookies and brownies, who is understanding and easy to talk to, and a Dad who plays the guitar AND the drums, and is tenderhearted and giving. Not one, but THREE sets of grandparents who are going to spoil him or her ROTTEN, who would do anything for anybody that's not related to them, so imagine what they do for people who are related to them? An entire church family that will love and look after them, and a whole youth group full of super fun kids to look up to and play with. Not to mention they will have their very own pony (Annie) that lives in their house to ride, AND a pretty cool Auntie Uggy! :) I mean REALLY, how much better could a kid get?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Regular baby stuff

Last night at church supper, I sat with my friend Kristy who is about my age but has three kids! I was watching her adorable littlest one being held in her lap while she was eating. It's funny, when you aren't "expecting" babies just kinda fly under the radar. But I've noticed myself watching kids and parents very closely lately, I guess trying to observe or absorb parental knowledge. As she ate Brody chewed on his finger. I don't remember exactly what the exchange was but we began to talk about baby milestones such as teeth, mobility (Brody is 6 months old and can roll one way across a room, I labeled that an "ambi-turner" per Zoolander, but anyway, I digress....). I see him once a week and it is amazing how fast he has grown! Three months ago he was a tiny "real baby Jesus" in our "Return To Bethlehem" production at our church! Anyway, it kind of struck me watching him that all these adoption books teach you about possible delays, learning disorders, behavior problems, sleeping challenged, eating dilemmas, and other issues facing the "post-institutionalized" child BUT THEY NEGLECTED TO TELL US SUCH IMPORTANT FACTS AS:

1- What if my 9-24 month old (who is used to eating orphan mush in a bottle) wants some real food? Can I go ahead and feed them some cookies/crackers/Cheerios?

2- Do I really need a bassinet? A basket that holds a baby seems like a bad idea. I've seen the bottoms fall out of baskets before.

3- Vaccinations? Will they need to be re-done after bringing them home from a foreign country? Is this dangerous for a baby to have all those antibodies floating around their bodies more than once?

The list goes on and on. A free parenting magazine I picked up at Burlington on Tuesday had a pair of "baby gloves" for $17. The gloves have rubber grippers on the palms for use in the tub so the baby doesn't slip out of your hands! I mean really?!?! There are some things that I'm KNOW I don't need, but just how many sheet sets, bibs, diapers, tiny t-shirts, etc. are we talking about here? If I wrote an adoption book I think I would add a chapter- "Parenting for Dummies" I'm sure there is a book already out there with that title. Good thing we have a while to figure all this stuff out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Today was our document training webinar with our document manager- Michael. Chad and I both sat in on the online course, it's really cool. You log into a web page and then you dial in a phone number and you connect with the facilitator (Michael) and people from all over the country that are taking the course too. Then you can watch the seminar and listen to everyone talking at the same time. We really do live in a small world thanks to the Internet and a highly technological one too. Support is literally at our finger tips 24 hours a day!
At first I was a little overwhelmed by all the information presented. But once I had a chance to re-read everything tonight I really did feel a lot better. If we get the final home study back and all the items needed from Portia in a timely manner, I think it will only take about two or three weeks to gather the initial items for our dossier to send to Russia to be put on a waiting list! Wow. The great thing about St. Petersburg (ever region requires different information at different times) is that the majority of our documents need to be done after we return from our first trip to Russia! The first set of material for out "initial packet" is relatively simple. So that is a definite plus. I think our main concern down the road a little will be more of an issue of timing, a lot of the documents needed before our second trip have a three month expiration. So timing will be everything once we return.
Michael's greatest recommendation to us was to be a "moving target" when it comes to documents. He told us to be fast before Russia changes their rules as they often do to avoid costly delays. So pray for lightning speed and cat like reflexes for us in boarding this next paper train. Oh, and I finally learned how to say that word for the people that "Notarize" the Notary on all of our documents. Ahhh-poe-steel. Huuuked on fonics werked fer me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Retail Therapy

Shopping has always been my drug of choice. Having a bad day? Let's go to the mall! Having a bad hair day? Let's check out Target! It's Thursday? Let's run to the shoe store! I love to bargain shop and as some people pride themselves on how expensive their purchases are..... I am a HUGE fan of the Goodwill Clearance Center in Greenville (Clothes are $1 a POUND there and you can find stuff with tags still on them!) and I always head straight to the clearance section so I can say "Guess how much this cost!" However, I have voluntarily given up my "drug" for the adoption. "Hello, My name is Sarah and I haven't been to Ross since January 4th!"

BUT after the crummy day yesterday I had a small shopping rehab set back. I went to Burlington Coat Factory today. Now I did walk right past the purses, shoes, and $9.99 coat clearance section mind you and I brought Chad as my accountability partner. We spent an hour looking at cribs, bouncy chairs, rockers and highchairs. We ooohed and ahhhhed at all the cute "mini grown up clothes" (those are babies clothes that look like grown up clothes- little leather jackets, blue jeans, and suits and ties...) And we couldn't leave without one adorable addition! Here it is........ It's a cute super soft blanket that says "Rockstar" Too cool- This is going to be one cool baby.
So onto another topic- the money. Not to go into great detail, because I'm sure you just want the facts- we were able to re-allocated some money in our fund to pay for the $800 for our home study final payment. BUT in the next few weeks we need to come up with $910 to send to USCIS because CWA cannot pay for these "outside" costs. That wasn't originally what we were told, but we'll be o.k. We are actually getting some $ back from Uncle Sam in taxes, so worst case scenario is we'll tap into our baby nest egg until some other funds are available from our return. It's all going to work out and be just fine. I am still a little worried about all the small miscommunications we've been having with the agency, but like they say- "Don't sweat the small stuff and don't pet the sweaty stuff" and you should be just fine. So we'll worry about USCIS in a few weeks, right? Until then maybe having a monthly shopping relapse can't be all that bad.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Puzzled and Perplexed.

I should have figured this out by now. I obviously haven't learned my lesson. We feel so good when we finish a process- it's a great high. In our heads we are thinking "Check!" One step closer to bringing our baby home, we have mastered one of the steps and we feel so good about what we have accomplished. Then Monday comes around and we are thrown into another section of the great notebook/file folder of the adoption. We read the steps over and over and over. Each time we read it, instead of getting clearer it grows a little foggier. (What exactly is a I600-A? Can I go to the Greer office to be finger printed because in the manual it say we need to go to Charleston? Do we hand deliver the documents or make an "e-appointment"? Can I file it now or do I need to wait until the final draft of the home study is submitted?) I could go on and on. I'm sure it's like another language to you- because it is to me and I've read the chapter over and over again.

It kind of reminds me of when we purchased our entertainment center. It came in a box and had "some assembly required" Right. Sure. It really was written in another language. The pictures of which screw went into what piece made things even worse. To this day the glass doors don't match up and you have to press them together before sliding them shut. I don't think the Russian officials will be as forgiving if our doors don't match up at the end of the day. This process calls for perfection- every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed so to speak. It's a lot of pressure. But we'll get it done- one document at a time. Pray for us on Wednesday at 1:00-2:00 we are taking a class on Russian document completion. You know it's bad if there is a class for it.

Please pray for us too about our finances. We've had a slight misunderstanding concerning the allocation of donations- it appears that when someone makes a donation CWA applies the funds directly to a specific part of the adoption in a specific order. Example: If you donate $100 to our account and we need $75 to go towards our "Russian Translation" fee to complete that cost, then $75 is applied to that and then the $25 left over goes into the $2,500 needed for our second set of agency fees. In the grand scheme of things, that's really fine because everything has to be paid in the long run anyway. Unfortunately, what we didn't know is that this order of how things are paid does not include the $800 needed to pay for the balance of our home study, the $910 the goes to USCIS (see I-600A filing) the $225 to DSS for the pre-approval of our home study, or the unknown amount to get our documents approved by the Apossilate once our Dossier is completed. So in essence they "skip over" fees that are due to outside agencies and go onto to fees that are due to CWA and Russia directly unless we ask them to apply the money to those "outside agencies". Would have been good to know like two weeks ago. Kinda like a pecking order I guess. Unfortunately, while we were thinking that we had money in our account to pay these things we need right away, the money that has been donated has already been paid to our second chunk of Russian fees. Which is really great if you think about it, when we can come up with this extra $2,000 needed for the here and now- we'll be ahead of the game. However, it does not meet our basic need of the here and now to essentially get that money to Russia!

Long story short, it's just a big mess right now. So you add the stress of a "new step" to financial difficulties and you have a big fat, head pounding, messy, yucky, confusing cluster of being in a giant maze and not knowing up from down. But other than that it was a great day. :0)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Little Matryoshkas!

Some people have asked us- Why Russia? When we first started seriously looking into adoption this year, we bought a book by Dawn Davenport called "The Complete Guide to International Adoption". In the back of the book it had each country listed side by side in a comparison chart- kinda with pros and cons of each. Some we crossed off the list right away. China-4 year waiting period after the Dossier is submitted. Japan- mostly older children with special needs. Guatemala- closed to America right now. Ukraine-One trip to the country but be prepared to stay 30-45 days, making the cost one of the most expensive.
Then we read about Russia! It seemed to fit our needs perfectly. It was one of the more expensive places due to the two trips into the country, but we came to the conclusion that we don't have $25,000 in our bank account, so really in the grand scheme of things- is that what's holding us from choosing Russia? A place where we both feel so drawn to? We are trusting in God to supply our needs to bring our baby home- let's trust him fully. AND- I told him "If we choose Russia, I can buy REAL nesting dolls!" He just shook his head "Really, Sarah? Nesting Dolls? When people ask us why we choose Russia- we'll say 'Nesting Dolls', that's a great plan" I love these little things (called Matryoshkas in Russian) I bought the set pictured above in Alaska after we were first married. I have a few other sets too.....They just fascinate me. I was searching the net when I came across this children's book called "My Little Matryoshkas"by Tanya Roitman. Each doll represents a different day of the week and a different Russian food dish (ex: Monday the doll makes Borscht) Each nesting doll comes out of the book and are just darling- the illustrations are intricate and colorful, and the book will be a great reminder of our child's heritage. Just perfect!

Now that is cute! So now if you ask me "Why Russia?" You can see why..... I mean who doesn't love these things? O.K-I hope you know I am joking- I really don't know why we chose Russia, some decisions just feel right the second you let your heart rest on the idea, and that was certainly the case for us. Matryoshkas or not. The Matryoshkas are just a bonus.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Today's home study went very well! After weeks of preparation and worry- it went off without a hitch..... We woke up early this morning and took the dogs to "doggy day care" a.k.a. Brittany's house and came back to the house- the quiet, puppy free, totally spotless house. It was eerie! Portia was running a little late because of the bad weather (she lives in Columbia). So Chad and I sat on the couch and talked about what we thought she was going to be like, how long she would stay, and what she would ask us. But around 11:00 she had arrived and we mostly sat down and talked for several hours- how we met, our engagement, our parents, our jobs, the church. Then we moved onto parenting, discipline, and our quiet "organized" lives pretty much changing forever after the baby arrives. We ate lunch together- Southern Hospitality dahlin'! I made chicken salad, croissants, fruit and some cookies and I think she was surprised that I made lunch for her! But us Deetz, we like to eat! Naturally- if you are in our home during breakfast, lunch time, or dinner time- food will be had of course. Then she spoke with us both individually very briefly and that was that.
I handed her the last few items needed off our home study check list (agreement to allow post-adoptive reports, our net worth statement, three years of income tax returns, our certificates from our online training courses, and our doctor's letter of good health.) Check! Check! Check! Check all that stuff off the list..... Now it's on to preparing items for our Dossier to send directly to Russia. How cool is that? I love checking things off- it's my favorite!
Oh I forgot to meantion our friends the Mathis family are coming over for dinner- we are going to have a "Mess up the House" party- I made dinner and some maple white chocolate blondies with gooey maple topping...Mmmmmm. Life will be back to normal, and three Mathis kids are just what the doctor ordered! Yeah!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Twas the Night Before the Home Study....

Twas the night before the home study and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring- not a dust bunny or a mouse.
The finger towels were hung by the toi-toi with care,
With hopes that Portia soon would be there.

The windows were polished, the dusting was done
The Deetz were waiting, for someone special to come.
The carpet was spotless- not a puppy pee-pee stain in site,
Chad and Sarah were resting their heads for a long winters night.

The linens were laundered, the garage was so clean
The silver was polished to a shimmery gleam.
Tonight they ate fast food with plastic forks and plates
To keep from washing another dish from which they ate!

When I walked inside after admiring the view,
I rubbed my eyes not knowing what to do!
While I was away, something amazing had occurred.
Mr. Clean had moved in and kicked the sloppy Deetz to the curb!

- Can't wait to tell you all about tomorrow!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


As you know the Children's Consignment sale at our church this week and volunteers (that would be me...) got to shop early on Wednesday afternoon before the masses arrived on Thursday morning. Well I brought my friend Michele with me on my lunch break we set out to go and check it out. We got a shopping cart and the fun began! Michele has a son and was giving me tidbits of advice- "Ohhh you need that....." or "Noooo you don't that at all" And at some point the cart was overflowing and I was carrying a stack of books and a Noah's ark musical toy in my arms bending over a shelf full of videos and Michele says "Uh oh.....busted." I peer over the stack of Baby Einstein videos and uh oh- it's Chad! Busted! He looked at me and looked at the cart of baby goodness and just shook his head..... then he said "so much for not buying anything for the baby until we know what it is and how old they are!"But I know he was secretly excited about all the cool stuff!
I bought:
1-Musical Noah's Ark toy with all these cute animals that make noise
2-Baby swing with music and vibration
3- Baby monitor with a T.V. and a "night vision" camera
4- Electronic blocks by Baby Einstein that allows the baby to "compose" different songs and play them back (still in the box!)
5- Maisy Book
6- Rainbow Fish Book
7- Furry/texture book about puppies
8- Box set of 4 Baby Einstein books
9- Volume II Baby Einstein DVD box set with 6 DVDs
10-Baby Sling carrier (new in box)
11- Baby "backpack" carrier (new in box- for airport lugging, not the scary one I wrote about a few nights ago- this one is cute and plaid!)
12-Eddie Bauer travel diaper bag with a cooler and changing pad (for our journey home)

So before I tell you the end of the story- My mom sent me a check for $100 as consignment "funny money" and guess how much the grand total for everything was...down to the penny??? You guessed it, $100 on the dot! How cool is that? The theme for our lives has always been "God will provide" and he continues to do so. So the baby's room is starting to gather a few items- we are so excited!

Currently, Chad is steam cleaning the carpets. He said he "really wanted to go that before Portia came on Saturday" Ha Ha! No, I suggested it and of course, being the wonderful, lovely husband he is- came home from work and started working. We are almost ready! Just a few more little things to do and we are set!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Wreath Clause

I'm a pretty "take me as I am" kind of person. I would like to think I am a pretty straight shooter- take me or leave me. Don't get me wrong- I like to be liked, but I really believe that you can't please all the people all the time and life is too short not to say what you mean and really mean it! I preach this to my little sister all the time because she is so much nicer than I am and much, much more tender hearted. Britt would give the person who just stole her purse the change out of her ashtray too.
However, I want our social worker to like me so badly I can taste it! I agonize over the wording in my e-mails to her, where the fine line between "concerned parent" and "psycho stalker asking crazy questions" is and whether all my towels are facing the same direction in my linen closet in case she sneaks a peak on Satuday!
Tonight was "sister's night in" Chad had some things to do at the church so Britt and I got together for pizza and American Idol. I mentioned to her that in light of our upcoming home study I really needed a new wreath for the front door- ours had become weather-worn and tattered. She shrugged and said she thought it looked fine but agreed to go to the craft store with me to find one. Well, I am normally the most bargainy (Sarah vocab alert) person you will ever meet. If it's not on sale I don't buy it. That habit has been sent into overdrive with having to save money for the adoption- I just don't go shopping anymore! Something ceases to be a "good deal" if you don't need it at all, and the ONLY thing we need right now is a baby. (And a new wreath). So we walk around Michaels for about 45 minutes because in some crazy scheme to get your exercise by walking 67 miles, the wreaths are spread out in all sections of the store. Well, to my disappointment- all the pre-made wreaths are between $25 and $50! That's like 3 meals in St. Petersburg! So we begin to gather materials to make my own! Much cheaper- like $10! At some point Britt was so tired of me agonizing over which decorative grass to use and which ribbon color was best, she answered a phone call and answered the question of "what are you doing?" by saying:
"I'm at Michael's looking for a wreath; and apparently they don't let you adopt a baby unless you have a nice door wreath!"
So I'll take Britt's advice instead of being the annoying "older sister" always dishing out the words of wisdom, and just be me. But I still don't know what to wear on Saturday.....any advice?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Consignment Sale

Tonight I volunteered at the Children's Consignment Sale at our church. The United Methodist women hold the sale twice a year (once in the Spring and once in the Fall) and all proceeds benefit local missions. The sale actually starts this Wednesday (for volunteers and consignors) and since Sunday they have been taking items in and organizing them in the gym. I've worked the sale before, but never with "new mom" eyes. Whoa. The whole gym is packed full of clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, games, you name it- they have it! And I wanted it all! I fell in love with the little tiny seer sucker suits and the frilly dresses with the matching under-roos. I played with the toys and perused all the gadgets. Usually, I am a very "get it done" person when it comes to work, but I'll admit I spent the majority of my time tonight distracted by all the adorable baby items. My friend Marie was there too and she was a great motivator- not to work- but to "Ooohhh" and "Ahhhh" over all the cute things.

So far my wish list includes:

1-A baby strap-on carrier (baby bjorn?) I think it will be helpful carrying baby through the airport, it holds up to 35 pounds- That's heavy! Our dog weighs 35 pounds I can't image carrying him strapped to my chest through a terminal trying to catch a flight and I don't think Alex would like that very much. (Times I'm glad I have a big strong husband)
2-One of those cloth grocery cart baby seat covers (no yicky germs)
3- A really cool "Baby Einstein" music maker (still in the original box) for $5! What a great deal....
4-MAYBE a baby drum set. I know it looks cute so he/she can be "just like dad" but in my head I'm thinking that may be a bad choice. Yes- take that off the list.

I know I am "putting the kid before the horse" but I just can't help it! I'm addicted to baby things like I used to be addicted to jewelry, shoes, and clothes. We'll I still love those things too, but since our money diet (no unnecessary spending allowed!) Baby things have become my next fix! Thank goodness we don't know the sex or age of the baby, it really helps curb my need for tiny, mini, adorable things!

This is an example of "not adorable" I found on the Internet. That baby is saying "Help me". But this looks very helpful if you have any plans on hiking the Appalachian Trail anytime soon.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

You too can speak Russian (at least 7 words of it!)

Tonight's blog will be educational and brought to you by our second purchase- a book called "When I Met You: A Story of Russian Adoption" It is another darling book by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista. She is also the author of "Mishka". When Bashista was in the process of adopting her son, Jaime, from Russia she couldn't find a picture book to capture the special circumstances they became a family, so she decided to write one herself. Chad and I really love it because at the end there is a picture guide to some Russian words. Fun, I thought you might enjoy giving these a whirl!

Teddy Bear: (you know this one) M(i)sh-ka
Butterfly: ba-boch-ka
Boot: sa-pog
Heart: s(i)er-tse
Airplane: sa-mo-l(i)ot
Present: Po-da-rok
And my favorite- Flag: flaag

That was fun, huh? I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and it was much more restful than ours. As you all know, our home study is this Saturday and we are so ready to go! We are really looking forward to the visit. I feel good about the house and I am really excited because this concludes the for "America" portion of our journey, post home study we will begin to gather materials to send to Russia! So that is really exciting, a new chapter in our adventure is right around the corner. Can't wait to take you along for the ride......

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Our Super Fun Saturday!

I know you are asking yourselves- What super fun way did Chad and Sarah spend their Saturday? Answer: We pulled weeds, re-mulched the flower beds, and cleaned out the garage. Yes, it's as much fun as it sounds. But the good news is we could technically park one car in the garage now- what a novel thought. Other than the routine cleaning and tidying up- I think we are done with "operation clean sweep" at the Deetz household. Another check mark off our list!

Today the weather was a balmy 79 degrees here, which is miles away from less than a week ago when the snow had buried us in. We actually worked up a sweat outside today. Currently the weather in St. Petersburg- 26. Not so balmy. Anyway, I am fairly certain this weather is a trick, so we aren't packing up the parkas just yet.

Today in the mail we got our Frommer's Guide to St. Petersburg! I got it on E-bay for 1 cent! (Plus $2.99 shipping and handling....) What a steal! As soon as we dump the dirt out of our socks, we can't wait to sit down and start reading..... By the way the title of this blog was a trick to get you to read it!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday's workout!

Three days a week Todd (see last night's blog...) and Forrest come over to the house after school and work out with Chad. Todd and Chad do it in an effort to get healthy together and Forrest serves as their motivator. Anyway- this evenings exercise routine was..... drum roll please....... PUTTING TOGETHER THE PLAYGROUND SET!!! (See Spider infestation blog of February 17th) As you know, Chad pressure washed it last weekend- so it looks like new! And this weekend we will be working outside to get the exterior of the house in ship-shape. That includes the garage....Well it's kinda hard to clean out the garage when you have playground pieces all strewn about, so we know it's really early to put this up, but we needed it out of our hair! So Todd and Forrest were greeted today with Chad announcing that today's workout would be more of a labor of love than a physical workout and they were happy to oblige. It looks great out in the yard. It's so funny to see "kid stuff" at our house! It kinda makes it all feel real. I'm sure our neighbors are going to think we are total psychopaths with kiddie stuff in the back and no kiddies! Creepy..... I guess I'll mention it to them so they aren't afraid of us! Note in the picture that despite the 5 inches of snow on the ground on Sunday, the guys are in shorts because it is now 70 degrees out and tomorrow it will be 76!

Anyway, Thank you Todd (way to go- two nights of "blog shout-outs in a row"!) and Forrest- You both are very sweet young men and we hope someday our teenager is as wonderful as you two are. Now that's a really weird thought- us with a teenager! Yikes.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This one is for Bob.....

I was just about to call it a night (how can you be so tired after a two day work week?) When Chad came home from the church evangelism meeting. We talked about the days events- work, life, Dr. Cole signing our "we're in good shape and good candidates for adoption" letter we sent over to him today for our home study requirements, when we started talking about the meeting and what was discussed.
Chad mentioned that Bob, who is a member of our church and a dad of one of our youth, Todd. (Who by the way is a GREAT kid and I can't say enough nice things about Bob and Linda, they are just salt of the earth kind of people, you can ask anyone!) Anyway, Bob said to everyone at the meeting how much he loves our blog and looks forward to reading it everyday. So I couldn't let him down with nothing to read today! Now, I'm not just saying that to toot my own horn- let me explain.
I feel that in a lot of ways this blog has brought people together. I have found that unexpected people have taken a real interest in our story and our future baby. When you watch the news (especially lately) we have a tendency to dwell on how different we are, republican/democrat, liberal/conservative, christian/not, black/white, whatever. We focus on how people are filled with despair during these tough times and it is so easy to focus on what is bleak, dark, and uncertain. In a way, at least for me, this lets me blow off stress and fear. It keeps me connected to friends and family in Florida, Pennsylvania, Alaska, California, Michigan, Georgia, and our new friends through adoption that are fighting the same fight that we are. Even if we don't have a common thread through adoption, infertility, Christianity, we do have a common thread in hope. Hope that we can love unconditionally because we have been loved so much. Hope that family (whether it is by blood or by circumstance) will always be the tie that binds us all together. We want to believe in something that is bigger than we are and what can be bigger than bringing a baby into the world?
I am so honored to share this experience with you all and I feel so blessed that you all have taken such an interest in our story and have chosen as a community to be dedicated to bring this child into our family. And when I say family I mean everybody- friends from high school, church family, co-workers, all the people that have told my mom "I love reading about your kids!" Wow..... We have been so taken aback by the support you have given us thus far and we cannot thank you enough. So this one is for Bob, and everyone else that have so graciously embraced us and embraced hope too!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Our first purchase!

I know we put a "no buying" rule on anything for the baby- but I just couldn't help myself- It's a book, so it will always be age and gender appropriate! And it was so darn cute!

The book is called "Mishka: An Adoption Tale" by Adrienne Ehlert and Miranda R. Mueller and it's the story of a little Russian boy named Yuri who lives in an orphanage.
His new parents bring him a gift on their first visit to meet him and he names the bear "Mishka". Well, his new parents must leave for a few months before they can return to get him and it's a sweet story about Yuri waiting and wondering about those new people that "talk funny" and "smell funny" to hopefully come back someday.
The love between Yuri and Mishka grows and they become best friends until his parents return........We learn that Mishka means "little bear" in Russian..... awweeee so cute!

They leave together after a long journey as a family- Mommy, Daddy, Yuri and Mishka! I know this will be a treasure in our family and we can't wait to share it with our child!
Hope you enjoyed your good night story! Love- Sarah

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


March 3, 2009: Snow day number two. Today's task included folding a laundry basket full of socks. I dumped out both sock drawers, well I dumped Chad's and scooped out mine because my drawer is being held together by wood glue and duct tape (Quite a funny story involving Chad falling down the stairs while carrying my drawer to the moving van in Georgia, but a long story for another time and place.) Sorry, I digress- socks from two drawers, all the clean socks from the laundry, along with the rogue socks that ended up behind the dryer and under the bed filled one giant laundry basket. So, anyway, I dumped them all out and began sorting and folding them in an attempt to finish the "great organizing clothes project" AND pictured are all the socks that have somehow lost their mate, a mystery of modern science. Now, these socks are from several years of thinking "well I don't know where it went, but I'll hang onto it just in case it shows up in a few days" but still- that is a ridiculous amount of socks to not have a mate. I know this doesn't have anything to do with the adoption, but I just had to show you this. I guess we could loosely tie this knowledge to preparations for our home study next weekend- (March 14th) but really I think I may have a touch of cabin fever and just wanted to share this enigma with you. I know Portia will not be grading us on how many lonely socks we have in our drawers, but still......
Today's bible verse comes from the parable of the lost son in Luke 15:24- It comes after the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin. "For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was LOST and is now found. So they began to celebrate." Now I gave up, gathered up all those socks and threw them in the trash, but thankfully God has never given up on me and knows that no matter how far I wander (even wasting your time and telling you stories about socks....) that he celebrates when I depend fully on him!

Monday, March 2, 2009


Temperature in St. Petersburg today: 27F
Temperature in Spartanburg today: 31F
See..... not that different!
We started getting snow last night around 5:30 and it snowed through the night. This morning we woke to about 5 inches of snow in our yard- beautiful!

Since it rained all weekend- under the snow was tons of frozen water that had not yet soaked into the ground, making road conditions very dangerous! So we got a snow day..... Yippeeee!

We've been relaxing all day, a few of the boys from the youth group walked over from their nearby neighborhood for a snow ball fight with Chad and tonight (weather permitting) I am cooking dinner for the leadership team of the parent youth retreat coming up in a few weeks. Overall, we've had a relaxing "normal" day- no cleaning, no paperwork, I'm still in my P.J's!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A place for everything and everthing in its place....

Ahh....... I love it when my house is clean. Even though it only stays that way for, uh, roughly 12 hours- it's still a very nice feeling.

Once when I was about 13 years old I got a really bright idea- my mom wanted me to clean my room- I mean really clean it- like get rid of clothes and and organize everything in my drawers. I sat in the middle of my floor for about an hour or so, doing whatever teenagers do- dreaming about some cute boy or whatever and then it struck me! We kept all the suitcases under my bed for family vacation. I think mostly to keep me from shoving stuff under there. But I thought "those things are empty!" So I pulled them all out and began stuffing them full of clothes and junk until they were full and slid them back underneath the bed. Genius! Well that is until summer vacation rolled around. Not so genius. After that I got a daybed with a trundle underneath. But it was a good idea at the time I guess.

Chad and I had a fun filled weekend of cleaning and organizing. I think I am going to call our home study social worker and see if we can bump our home study to this next weekend- A clean house is hard to come by and I know things will magically clutter itself up by March 14th! As long as she doesn't open any of the suitcases I think we will be ok!