Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autobiography

I just wrote my first draft of my autobiography for the home study.  It's one of the requirements before you can use them, contact them, or let's just say start the home study.

I was able to whip it up rather quickly.  I don't know if that is  a good thing or not.  But being that it's a 1st draft I'm not that worried. 

I'm not going to let my husband read it as he hasn't started his and I don't want it to influence his autobiography.  That will be the hardest for him to do.  He has dyslexia so things like that can be harder for him.  But I'm not worried about it.  Maybe he is, but I think he'll do fine.

We also have to send a family photo.  I'll have to gather all 5 dogs and 3 cats... that might be some work.  I may be able to do us with 5 dogs, but unless I'm allowed to photoshop, I don't think I can manage the cats on a sit and stay!  So I'm anxious about a family photo.  I'm sure it will turn out fine, but all the prep with the dogs, my hair, make-up, the perfect shot... it's a bit taxing.  But of course my husband isn't worried about the photo as I wasn't about the autobiography.

I'm going to sit on the autobiography for a few days and then read/tweak it.  I can't tweak anything I've just written.  That's my these blogs aren't as thought out and well spoken as I'd like.  It's all impromptu and then posted right after.  I'm sure if I held them out for a few days they'd be re-written several times.  But I think the raw, first impulse of my reactions and thoughts are best for this blog.  But please excuse me for any flaws in my blog posts.

Oh, on a tangent, I saw a rainbow yesterday!  I can't remember the last time I saw one.  It was vivid!  I was driving straight in its direction on my way home from work.  I wish rainbows were around more often, but then I guess they wouldn't be as appreciated as much.

Okay, back to the autobios!  I think it would be neat to save our autobiographies for a heirloom baby book I'm probably going to put together for her.  It will have hopefully her finding ad, some photos of from the SWI, questions they've answered, photos of our trip, Gotcha Day, and all other sorts of stuff.  I'll just have to find just the right book cover.  I have an idea in mind... we'll just have to see if there is something out there like it.

There's so many things to look forward to! 
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sightings

No, I didn't see any ladybugs.  It'd be exciting if I did, but way too premature.  But I thought I did see a few unusual rare ones.


At lunchtime, leaving the office I saw a humming bird.  Now I've seen a few before, but never this late in the year, especially in the low 60s.  It was the green one.  It was flying around the flowers potted by the entrance.  It was nice to see.  And it was my Nana's (my Dad's mom) favorite animal/bird whatever.  She loved them.  She died a little over a year ago and it made me think of her.

Then coming down the elevator I saw a pin head sized spider sitting dead center in it's perfect web in the corner.  I've never seen a spider web in an elevator, or maybe I don't look in the corners, but the web shone brilliantly.  If it was any bigger I would have been arachnophobic, but as it was so tiny I just thought of "Charlotte's Web".  I felt worry for it thinking it won't find any tiny food in an elevator.  And I wondered if it got motion sickness going up and down in the elevator all day.

Then on the drive home from work 2 deer crossed my path in front on me.  They looked young.  One male and one female.  They just ran across the street, then the male turned back looking at the street wondering to go back across then thought better of it and went into the woods.  Now I see deer all the time, and yes, where I live they can cross the roads.  It probably happens once a year to me.  Today was the day this year.

So isolated events, but odd that they all happened today.  At least I think so.  Hope it's a good sign for something.  So if any of you know what a humming bird, spider and deer mean let me know.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Paperchase Coming Along

Though I haven't written a lot lately, it doesn't mean I haven't been busy.  It's just all boring stuff.  Called the paperchase.

We've got a few things checked off the list.

Passports, check.
Police Report, check.
Marriage Certificate, check.

Employment letter, check me. Husband working on
Birth Certificate, check husband. I mailed mine out, but haven't gotten back yet.
References, check.
Financials, check.

What we don't have...
Medical reports (hoping for exams next week.)
Fingerprints (scheduled Friday for husband and Tuesday for me.)
Autobiography (not a problem for me; big, scary one for husband.)
Photos (not a problem for husband, scary idea to me!)

There's more on both lists, but you get the point.

I still have a lot to compile before I'm allowed to begin the home study.  I thought I could have them come while we were collecting.  But no, we must have everything collected before we can start.

I'm still excited.  That hasn't died down.  I wonder if it ever does?  It probably goes through cycles.  Anyhow, I feel like we're accomplishing things.  It's just nothing exciting... yet!

As the weather is turning cold and rainy and yucky, I think about the holidays coming up and how we will celebrate our future Halloweens, Thanksgivings, Christmases and New Years.  It will be fun and the yucky weather maybe won't seem so bad. 

Not that we don't celebrate the holidays now, but they'll be extra special and exciting.  My husband is so looking forward to Christmases with Ashton!  I'm looking forward to Halloweens.  Who knows what other gems of days we'll come to treasure!
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Imaginary Race We're NOT Having


So We began the paper chase a while ago.  And I had things mailed out at the same time waiting for our various paperwork to come back.  And not that this is a race, but my husband has gotten 2 things back so far and I have none.

2-0.  It's like he's winning.  And I want to win! 

Silly huh?  It's like it's a race, whose stuff will come back the fastest.  But i don't like the answer: His!  I'm the one that researched and set it all up and all he had to do was sign and mail.  I felt as if I deserved to come back first.  Again, silly I know, but I guess I'm making a game out of it to sorta pass the time of waiting for the stuff to come back to us.

But come to find out that though I gave my husband his and my stuff to mail out, he's held mine back by accident, only remembering his stuff.  I mean I'm very happy he remembered his stuff.  Sometimes it takes a miracle to have him do a easy project, because it's so small it slips his mind.  However, I guess he remembered his, but not mine.  Even though they were all laying together, he just worried about his stuff and left mine behind!  So mine are a day or two behind to start!  If I didn't know him so well, I'd think he did it deliberately so he'd win this imaginary race that we're not having!

Other then that, we're still doing okay with things.  Kiara, our pekingese, just had her birthday on the 17th!  We got her treats and she got a bath and brushing, which she actually loves. 

We're still been doing odds and ends for the home study.  We're cleaning the garage, basement, cleaning the woods behind our house, cleaning brush, checking the roof, all sorts of stuff.  We just want to be in good shape, and I'm using this time to get rid of all the excess we don't need.  But when you have a husband that thinks we can hold on to anything or sell it rather than just get rid of it,it's a slow process.  But at least we're trying. (Maybe this is another race of sorts, his will against mine for the house cleaning before the home study.... hmmm....)
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mooncakes: The Sequel

We had company last night, so I made lasagna, garlic bread and salad.  It was a dad with his 2 kids.  I babysat his kids all the time.  They were like our kids.  They used to be old neighbors of ours, but still good friends.

After dinner we mentioned the mooncake experience we had the night before.  His youngest, his son in 4th grade, said he'd eat an entire bad tasting mooncakes for $100 dollars.  We mentioned that he couldn't.  So of course it was on. 

We pulled one out of the box and opened it.  It was passed around for the "smell test". 

Funny thing, it didn't smell.  We didn't understand why.  We felt robbed!

So we decided maybe we had to cut it down the center to get the smell to permeate the air.

Guess what, it still didn't smell.  In fact, this one was different.  Yes, different!  There was no orange center.  It looked like a dry fudge-like center. 

The son took a bite and swallowed.  He said it tasted like nothing.  His dad then took a bite.  My husband grabbed it and took a bite.  He said it tasted like nothing, but compared to the one we had last night, this was amazingly eatable!  I bit into it.  Yep, tasteless.  I could force myself to eat this whole mooncake, unlike the one we had the night before.  Fortuntly the son said he wouldn't eat anymore of it.

We were disappointed though; we didn't have the version we had last night.  We wanted to share the horribleness of that mooncake.  Isn't that terrible of us?  Regardless, we all had fun re-experiencing the mooncakes. 
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mooncakes

Okay, so in celebration of the Moon Festival, I decided to buy mooncakes.  However, I had no idea where to start looking for mooncakes here in town.

I began by typing in "mooncakes" and "Indianapolis" in Google and the first link, Asia Mart, popped up.  It's on my side of town, so during lunch time at work I drove there. 

It was so cool!  There were lanterns and plastic animated waving cats everywhere.  Be ready for a tangent.  I had to know about these waving cats.  So I Googled them.

The Maneki Neko, literally "Beckoning Cat", also known as Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat, Cat Swipe, Money cat, or Fortune Cat; is a common Japanese sculpture, often made of ceramic, which is believed to bring good luck to the owner. The sculpture depicts a cat (traditionally a calico Japanese Bobtail) beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed—many times at the entrance—in shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors, and other businesses. Some of the sculptures are electric or battery-powered and have a slow-moving paw beckoning. In the design of the sculptures, a raised left paw supposedly attracts money, while a raised right paw protects it.  Now I know why Hello Kitty is so popular.  Makes sense.

Okay, so it's an Asian Mart not a Chinese Mart.  But it's still good to know.

Tangent over.  Back to the mooncakes.

I didn't get to go through the whole store, next time when I have more time to, I will.

I found the mooncakes immediately.  They were in an assortment of different types of tins and different boxes.  And they also had different flavors!  They had lotus seed, mango flavored, mixed nuts and I could have sworn one was called sunshine flour. 

I went with what I knew, the nuts one. And I love nuts.  I was really excited about the box I picked. It was the last one. It had a sturdy cardboard box with a magnetic closure. And inside were 3 tins, and one example to see the moon cake (4 in all). It was so pretty. And I thought, if I didn't like the mooncakes, at least I have 3 tins and a cool box to keep.



While in the checkout line I saw gummies.  I love gummies, one of my guilty pleasures. 

Well, when I was on my honeymoon in Disney World, my husband and I toured Epcot Center.  We visited China.  There they sold the exact same gummies.  And they were to die for.  We had wished they sold them in stores.

They had many more flavors here in the Asia Mart.  I was so excited to see the gummies we had so enjoyed during our honeymoon.  So I picked up the strawberry which we loved, and a flavor we hadn't tried, the orange.  I thought, if we didn't like the mooncakes, my saving grace could be these gummies.

When I checked out, I asked the cashier, "Do you say 'Happy Moon Festival'?"  She said, "Yes, today is the Moon Festival."  I knew she misunderstood me, so I just said to her, "Happy Moon Festival", she said, "Thank you" and smiled.  I don't know if that was what people said, but I was so excited.  She then put my mooncakes and gummies in a bag that matched my mooncakes.  It had the same lady on it.  I was so excited.  I couldn't wait to try them at home and take pictures of what I got to share.

My husband thought they looked really cool.  We decided to save them after dinner for a treat.  We were so full from dinner though, we decided to split one instead of us each having our own. 

We opened one and I was surprised to see a lot of black in it.  We cut it down the center and it was very black with a orange center.  It smelled awful. 

My husband took a tiny, crumb of a bite.  I told him to take a real bite.  He did and scrunched up his nose. 

I hastily took a bite straight from the very center.  Yuck!  I couldn't stand it. 

We both were disappointed.  It seemed like such a build up for such a let down.  I was looking forward to it all day, and this was the result.  I can't even describe what it tasted like.  My husband said, "cardboard".  But that wasn't it... But it definitely wasn't sweet, wasn't sour, wasn't anything distinguishable.

Thankfully I had the gummies as back ups.  We ate a couple of them hastily!  They were good!

We will so be making our own version of mooncakes in the future.  I wonder if there are any Chinese cupcake like pans or molds that carry the symbols on it so they at least look authentic.

So now we have 3 mooncakes left.  I'll see if we can get friends to eat them.  I really would prefer someone to enjoy them, but I can't think of anyone who would.  But at least we tried.  That should count for something.  And if nothing else, I got really cool tins and a box!
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Mid-Autumn Festival aka Moon Festival

Now that I’m on the path to adopting a daughter from China, I am trying to learn what I can about popular Chinese culture.  Today is the Autumn Moon Festival.   It falls on the 30th next year. 

So I looked on Wikipedia to get more information.  Here is what I found out.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival is a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese people. Dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty, it was first called Zhongqiu Jie (literally "Mid-Autumn Festival") in the Zhou Dynasty. 

The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. It is a date that parallels the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest and roundest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties. The Chinese festival is very traditional and a great way to celebrate.


The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the few most important holidays in the Chinese calendar, the others being Spring Festival and Winter Solstice, and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the fall harvesting season on this date. Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos under the moon together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:

·        Carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns
·        Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e
·        Erect the Mid-Autumn Festival.  It is not about planting trees but hanging lanterns on the bamboo pole and putting them on a high point, such as roofs, trees, terraces, etc. It is a custom in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, etc.
·        Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
·        Fire Dragon Dances

Celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival is strongly associated with the legend of Houyi and Chang'e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality. Tradition places these two figures from Chinese mythology at around 2200 BCE, during the reign of the legendary Emperor Yao, shortly after that of Huangdi. Unlike many lunar deities in other cultures who personify the moon, Chang'e simply lives on the moon but is not the moon herself.

One version of the legend states that Houyi was an immortal and Chang'e was his wife, working in the palace of the Jade Emperor (the Emperor of Heaven) as an attendant to the Queen Mother of the West (the Jade Emperor's wife). Houyi aroused the jealousy of the other immortals, who then slandered him before the Jade Emperor. Houyi and his wife, Chang'e, were subsequently banished from heaven. They were forced to live on Earth. Houyi had to hunt to survive and became a skilled and famous archer.

At that time, there were ten suns, in the form of three-legged birds, residing in a mulberry tree in the eastern sea. Each day one of the sun birds would have to travel around the world on a carriage, driven by Xihe, the 'mother' of the suns. One day, all ten of the suns circled together, causing the Earth to burn. Emperor Yao, the Emperor of China, commanded Houyi to use his archery skill to shoot down all but one of the suns. Upon completion of his task, the Emperor rewarded Houyi with a pill that granted eternal life. Emperor Yao advised Houyi not to swallow the pill immediately but instead to prepare himself by praying and fasting for a year before taking it. Houyi took the pill home and hid it under a rafter. One day, Houyi was summoned away again by Emperor Yao. During her husband's absence, Chang'e, noticed a white beam of light beckoning from the rafters, and discovered the pill. Chang'e swallowed it and immediately found that she could fly. Houyi returned home, realizing what had happened he began to reprimand his wife. Chang'e escaped by flying out the window into the sky.

Houyi pursued her halfway across the heavens but was forced to return to Earth because of strong winds. Chang'e reached the moon, where she coughed up part of the pill. Chang'e commanded the hare that lived on the moon to make another pill. Chang'e would then be able to return to Earth and her husband.

The legend states that the hare is still pounding herbs, trying to make the pill. Houyi built himself a palace in the sun, representing "Yang" (the male principle), in contrast to Chang'e's home on the moon which represents "Yin" (the female principle). Once a year, on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Houyi visits his wife. That is the reason why the moon is very full and beautiful on that night.
Mooncakes are regarded as an indispensable delicacy on this occasion. Mooncakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the four most important Chinese festivals.

Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4–5 cm thick. A thick filling usually made from lotus seed paste is surrounded by a relatively thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Mooncakes are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by Chinese tea. Today, it is customary for businessmen and families to present them to their clients or relatives as presents, helping to fuel a demand for high-end mooncake styles. Mooncake energy content can vary with the filling and size; the average moon cake carries 800 to 1200 kcal, mainly from fats and sugar.


Most mooncakes consist of a thin, tender skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling, and may contain one or more whole salted egg yolks in its center to symbolise the full moon. Very rarely, mooncakes are also served steamed or fried.

Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for "longevity" or "harmony", as well as the name of the bakery and the filling inside. Imprints of the moon, the Chang'e woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit (symbol of the moon) may surround the characters for additional decoration.

Mooncakes are considered a delicacy; production is labor-intensive and few people make them at home. Hence, most prefer to buy them from commercial outlets, which may range from smaller individual bakery shops to high-end restaurants. The price of mooncakes usually ranges from US $10 to US $50 for a box of four, although cheaper and more expensive mooncakes can also be found.

Because of its central role in the Mid-Autumn festival, mooncakes remained popular even in recent years. For many, they form a central part of the Mid-Autumn festival experience such that it is now commonly known as 'Mooncake Festival'.




Now where to find mooncakes in Indianapolis… I wonder if it will be hard or not.  Hmmm... off to Google!
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kitchen and Downstairs Done!

I promised photos when done, so here we go. Our house has been upside down since the beginning of May.  So all summer we've been topsy-turvy.  But as you can see, it was all worth it!!  And yes, we did the tile our selves and the demo ourselves.
This was our counter tops before, with white tile!  Hard to keep clean, the grout always a problem.  So glad to have it gone!

My husband loved the demolition!  Always messy, but always fun!

It was hard work, but worth it.

The counter tops were very heavy!  You can see Dawson, Skylar and Kiara admiring his work.

Our kitchen without the counter tops.

Our kitchen back in order and with beautiful granite.

Before pictures of our white linoleum.

Also a before picture of the linoleum throughout the kitchen. (Notice I changed out the obnoxious white knobs on the cabinets.)

Demo.

Only go to enjoy our counter tops for one week.  Appliances in our living room.  Man was that hard living!

There goes the bathroom; the hole reminds me of China (see Culture Shock)! ;)

Laying down of the tile.

We decided to lay on an angle and use a darker tile for the border. And yes, I helped lay down tile and the spacers.

Bathroom in progress.

Bathroom complete!

Hallway and entrance complete!

Kitchen complete and beautiful!

It looks all good an fine, but 4 months of construction, moved appliances, no floor, and dust everywhere, I was ready to pull my hair out!  I am now ready to enjoy it and enjoy a clean house!!
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Adoption Leave

Where I work, my company is small, about 50 people.  Therefore I'm "it" in my workplace adopting.

I talked a little yesterday about option with my HR and boss. If I could take all 3 weeks of PTO time of the year together (That's the max we get). They said no. I could only "group" 2 weeks a year and even that is under special circumstances. (Which yes this is one.) But then I have to be back to work, unless I want to take FMLA, which after paying so much for China, I can't see as possible.

My heart is breaking. I have to choose 2 weeks in China or 2 weeks home and no China!!

I asked about working out a plan, working hard for 3 days to do all 40 hours and such so I could have 2 more days off, or coming in early in the morning. Again I was told to use the FMLA then. It doesn't seem that they want to work with me!!

I don't get it! Why? Our work stresses that they want everyone to have a work/life balance and that they are one of the best places to work in Indiana, but to me they are proving that work is the only thing that matters!

Europe and Canada get lots of family time off.  But America many mother's have to take NO PAY with the FMLA!  I don't get it.  Why in a country that stresses freedom and is a huge super-power can't they afford a couple of weeks off for a new family member?  I'm not asking for 2 months or a whole year like other countries do, while still getting paid mind you.

I just think it's crazy in a society where I can't come home and bond with my child.  What's worse is that say they did give me my 3 weeks, then no sick time, no time off for Dr. appointments, social worker anyhow!  Insane! 

I need to find a silver lining.  Some hope to cling too.  But only 2 weeks (I can't afford to do the FMLA) is depressing.  We're starting this exhausting, amazing long journey, only to feel deflated that I can't bond with her when we first get here, I have to go to work to provide for her.  I won't even get a day after the jet lag and 12 hour difference.  I'm very sad at the thought.

I guess my only hope is that my company will chance their policy in the future or that a better job with amazing benefits is out there waiting for me.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guides, Reports and Training

I was just emailed by our agency.  We were informed that "This message is to notify you that it is time to download your Dossier Guide and China Home Study Report Packet."  So a lot of homework reading to do tonight.

We were also given info to start Parent Training. In accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, prospective adoptive parents must complete a minimum of 12 hours of parent preparation and training before traveling to China.  The program is designed to promoted successful intercountry adoption.

I know this sounds funny, but I'm actually looking forward to the training.  The training addresses the following topics: 1) Overview of China Adoption, 2) Grief & Loss in Adoption, 3) Talking to Your Child about Adoption, 4) Attachment, 5) Assisting in your Child’s Development, 6) Being a Multicultural Family, and 7) Chinese Culture.  I don't know if my husband is looking forward to it, he hates to read, but I'm really hoping to get a lot out of it.  Training is required to be completed before you travel, so I can start these classes at a later date.  But I don't think I will as I want to know this stuff now, and it's a closer step to adoption.  (Maybe I won't tell my husband that it's due later, so I know he'll get it done and checked off the list now.)

So nothing truly exciting, but still more action we can take.  We've picked out our Home Study/Social Worker.  Now we just have to start that leg of the process. 

As we just put some money down to the adoption agency, we have to save up again to put our money down for the social worker/home study.  So we'll work on preparing the dossier and parent training in the mean time.
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yellow Dress

My mom called me today saying she really wants to crochet Ashton a yellow dress.  She said it would be identical to the yellow crochet dress she made me as a baby.  She just found the pattern today and is excited about the idea.

I'm excited for her, but I don't remember any yellow dress. 

I remember the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls she made me.  I remember the Big Bird doll she made me.  I know that my crochet baptism dress was used by me and all my cousins, and I just found out that Grandma (Mom's mom) made it for us.  And I remember the blanket mom made me for High School graduation that didn't get completed until my wedding years later. 

But regardless, I don't remember this dress, but my mother is going to make it for Ashton.  I think it's very sweet of her wanting to do something sentimental like that.  I don't know how to crochet, knit or needlepoint.  But I do know how to cross stitch.  My Nana (Dad's mom) taught me that.

Mom is also going to try and find pictures of me in the dress and later of me in it as a top when I got bigger.  Funny the sentimental things your parents know of that you had no idea about.

I hope this time it won't take as long as the blanket did... but maybe if it did, by the time the dress would be finished, we'd be in China getting our girl ;)

I know it's a long-long and longer than even that type of wait.  I'm hoping for 5 years, but I'm sure it's 7 and 10 isn't even unrealistic at this point.  We'll see what the future brings.  But at least we have these small little treasures to help pass the time.

Although I know the paper chase will pass plenty of time right now.  I'm not looking forward to the next 6 months of paper chasing.  I hope we're really proactive on it.  I can foresee that it could be hard around the holidays from November to early January.  That could slow us way down.  I hope not, but I remain realistic.

Tomorrow we are going to notarize our service agreement and send it off.  Then we start on the dossier and home study.  Lots to start organizing.  Luckily I'm usually pretty good at that.  But I think I'd rather learn to crochet a yellow dress then face months of paper chasing.
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