Tuesday, March 31, 2009
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
Sunday, March 29, 2009
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
Friday, March 27, 2009
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
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
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
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
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!
Friday, March 20, 2009
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
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
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
Monday, March 16, 2009
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
Saturday, March 14, 2009
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
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
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
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
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
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
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
Thursday, March 5, 2009
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
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
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
See..... not that different!
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
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!