Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jordan's Store

Saw an update about Jordan and had to share!  I'm so glad such a good man who loves adoption can still be there!  I hope things improve so he can have his store back.  But at least there is hope that one day I can meet him with my little girl.

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Silly Saturday Moments

I love my furbabies.  They give me so much joy.  Especially when they're silly.

Case and point: Dawson today.  Just look at him.  How can you not smile?  I'm glad he is comfortable.  Dawson has been laying like that for a good hour!

 What a silly doggie his is!  And I wouldn't have it any other way!
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Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Peyton!!

Today is our sweet cat, Peyton's birthday!  I can't believe she is 9 years old today!

Peyton has a very sad beginning. She was thrown out of a semi with her littermates. Only she and her sister survived. She was sent to a bad shelter where she was "fixed" badly (so now that she walks funny and her skin sags like she has utters like a cow) and they clipped her ear to say she was spayed. I was told she was just skin and bones and was scared to be held. Then she and her sister got a foster mom. She was called Tulip. And that's when I got wind of her, from her foster mom. She was fattened up and could be held for a few seconds. Her face of innocence and curiosity took my breath away. She came home with us not long after.

We call her the autistic cat. Peyton is always impressed with life. Everything is fresh and new. She loves everyone and life is good. She is always happy and loves to paw everything from my mouse on the computer to her shadow. (Notice in the photo she's raising her paw for the camera!)  Her favorite thing to paw is the toilet paper roll or your hand when eating. I've learned to shut the bathroom doors and give her tid bits like the dogs. I've learned to beware.  If the bathroom door is ever opened the house is teepeed and if a plate is left on the table she's eating!

We had her just break a plate last week while we were out.  We're lucky no one cut themselves on any broken pieces.

She paws at the door to come in the bathroom if she knows you're there because she wants toilet paper. She paws you for attention.  She paws at anything shiny.  If you scold her she brightens up excited that you are saying her name. She doesn't know shame. Peyton stretches open her paw and paws everything. She's a very tactile cat.

Every now and then, we find a toy in her water bowl!  She paws her water bowl daily!  Every day is like a new discovery of the same things. It's like she doesn't remember that she played with it yesterday. She looks curious as if seeing it all with new eyes.

She is a softy. She loves to snuggle and she loves to bathe the dogs. She bathes any animal that will allow her to bathe them. She'll do it for hours! Peyton even will hold Arwen, our blue Chihuahua, down to bathe her!

Peyton even doesn't mind being held for awhile. But she prefers to lay next to you. She has the biggest heart. She is best kittymates with Fancy. They wrestle every morning. She's an amazing cat. I know none like her.

Happy Birthday my Peyton Tulip.  We love seeing life through your eyes!
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Skeletons In the Closet

My husband is at it again.  He is making a mess and constructing again.  This time it isn't the demolishing the kitchen or our downstairs flooring!  This time it's installing a closet!

Why a closet?  Easy, we don't have one.  I'm talking about a main closet downstairs by the front door for coats and stuff.  Where the "closet" would have gone is the door to the stairs to our basement.  So my husband is working on building a closet by the stairs, which will take up some room from our garage.

We'll have to move the doorbell and some of the garage space will be gone on the other side, but as we are building the closet up a few stairs, we have room under the closet, in the garage for some storage. 

I'm very excited to get a closet, but not happy about the mess again.  But at least this time it's in the garage and not it the house... yet.  But when it's in the house, he'll have the door installed and I won't have to see it! :)

We're making it big enough to store our coats, have shelving for games and high shelving for our luggage.  That means I can move the games out of the china cabinet hutch and actually store my Christmas dishes there, rather than in our kitchen cabinets!  I'm very excited about getting the extra space.  It will also be nice to hang coats up rather then draping them over a chair or hunting for them in the spare closet when fall arrives.

This was something we wanted to do before fall hit last year, but with all the tiling and deciding to adopt, it got pushed off.

The closet will go here.  It's 3x10 with a cathedral ceiling that goes from 8 feet tall to 16 feet tall.  I think the ceiling is overkill, but when has my husband ever done a small project?  Everything is always full blown out crazy!  My husband is very proud of his mess!  I will be too once it's further along.  He says this should only take a couple weeks.  But we'll see.  I'll try to be patient.

Having the car parked outside isn't too bad since the weather has improved.  The mornings are nippy and the defroster is on every morning to clear off the dew and condensation on the windows.

I hope no big surprises happen for any setbacks.  It hasn't been too bad.  But I'm very excited about our closet and whatever skeletons we find. ;)
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Grieving for Shamian Island

I haven't been to China yet.  However, all the things I read about how Shamian Island is changing breaks my heart.

It's like a domino effect.   Medical appointments and the U.S Consulate moving off the Island, then the White Swan closing, thus many of the individual shops that "catered" to adoptions have closed.

Case and point, Jordan's store.

I feel like I've lost something even before I got the chance to see it.  I know that things change, but Shamian Island was something I was so excited to experience.  The stores, the White Swan's famous red couches, the medical appointments even.  It seemed like a highlight of the adoption, somewhere where you can relish and now it's all going away... slipping so quickly.

I'm saddened that I'll never experience Shamian Island the way others had before me.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Annual Dinner on Sunday

I mentioned that I was going to the Annual Dinner on Sunday.  I had a fun time with friends.  It started at 7:00 pm and I was there until 2:30 am!!

I've mentioned Ms. D a lot!  This is my hubby and me with Ms. D and her Mr. M.  Aren't the four of us cute?

We had a good time together!  I also got to see Ms. J and Mr. J.  They along with my best friend Ms. M and her hubby Mr. A are going to be the godparents to our Ashton!  It was fun to See Ms. J and Mr. J and catch up on everything.

So these may be photos that we'll add to our dossier!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Got our USCIS Appointment

I thought our fingerprinting day with the USCIS would be scheduled over the next couple weeks.  I wasn't expecting it to be a month away! 

We just got a letter from the USCIS which tell us of our appointment of April 11, 2012.  I was shocked.  Then we'll get their approval of everything 3 months from that date.  So roughly around July 11th we should look for their approval!

Then we can get everything notarized, authenticated then sent to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago.  And that's our 6 month mark.  So we shouldn't redo any of our "expired" paperwork for at least 2 months, maybe 3.

Oh, well.  All in good time.  At least the ball isn't in our court.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Arwen!

Happy Birthday my sweet, sweet Arwen!  She is 7 years old today!  I can't believe how much time has flown!

Seven years ago, my husband now, but then was my boyfriend, his sister brought a Chihuahua over to meet the gang (my 3 dogs - Dawson, Skylar and Kiara). And they loved him. They love all dogs, but I was so impressed with this little Chihuahua dude. He wasn't scared and he played with them so well. I always wanted him over.

Before I had only seen mean and ugly Chihuahuas, so I never cared for them. Yet he stole my heart. I decided to research the breed and see if I had what it took to care for these Chis.

I quickly found I liked appleheads. I also wanted very tiny. I wanted the spotted, rare kind (merle like Amadeus). Well, I wasn't finding any tiny merles, as they were super rare. So I settled for just tiny. I eventually found Arwen. I saw photos of Blue Velvet (breeder's name for Arwen). I fell in love.

Blue Velvet was born on St. Patrick's Day. She was the only survivor in her litter. She was lucky to be alive. She was very small. I had to wait a while until she was big enough to leave the breeder's since she was so small. The breeder wasn't expecting such a small puppy. She was the smallest she ever had. So Blue Velvet was extra special.

I got to watch her grow up through photos and stories and video emailed to me. I mailed her toys to play with. After a few more weeks I finally got her and it was love at first site for the both of us.

I never thought I'd get another dog, let alone a 3-pound Chihuahua. Arwen is a gray Chihuahua, but the breeder called her blue. She has white toes and triangle on her chest. (I call it the Eiffel Tower).

She hardly barks at all, and is very smart.  She and Kiara are best friends. Kiara is very careful with her and when Arwen touches her, Kiara falls over as if he were hit by full force.

Arwen is named from "Lord of the Rings". She is the Princess Elf. Arwen is just as magical. She is agile and fast for her size. She is a toy hoarder. She loves rawhides, balls and stuffed squeaky toys. She has a favorite toy of the moment. Sometimes I think she has A.D.D. because she'll play with one toy then another 2 seconds later. She can play with 10 toys in 1 minute!  Kiara loves to steal them from under her and they will play tug of war a lot. She loves to romp and play.

She loves balls. And will bark only when she's excited and playing with her tiny rubber balls.  She gets so excited she jumps and runs and almost plays fetch.

She also is a huge Daddy's girl. She preferes him to everything but food and a heating pad.  She knows how to work him and get what she wants.  She can be so pathetic.  She acts like a princess and wants to be carried or helped to whatever she wants.

If I say "kisses", she kisses you. (All my dogs do that actually.) But her kisses aren't slobbery since she is so tiny. Arwen is very tiny but has a huge heart. 

Love you my little girl!
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Kajal Will Contact Us

Got a call from the organization that is letting us sponsor Kajal.  They said thank you and we should receive a letter from her in six weeks.  I can't wait!  I wonder if she has received our package we sent her.  It's great to get a little feedback.

We are still anxiously awaiting to hear about our fingerprint appointment from the USCIS.

In the mean time um loving the amazing weather and seeing things bloom so early.  This usually doesn't happen for another month.  Hope it stays mild and beautiful.

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Annual Dinner & a Lady

Tomorrow is the annual dinner for my community theater.  It's our biggest event.  It's like the academy awards.  Everyone dresses up and has dinner and the new board of directors is announced along with a summary of the year and upcoming season, and the awards.  However, these awards aren't your typical awards.  These awards aren't for the best actor, best director... it's more tongue in cheek.

These awards are for best fall, craziest moment, silliest thing, best accident, those types.  Everyone has a lot of fun remembering this crazy moments of the year.

This year I'm hosting with Ms. D.  We hosted 2 years ago.  It'll be fun to host again.  And knowing we need photos for our dossier, I'll be taking my camera.  Hopefully I can get some good shots.  We have pictures picked out, but it'd be really good to get some more recent ones.

On another note, with my husband and I going to Finland this summer to see my goddaughter.  Yay!  Of course we've gotten her a couple of fun outfits and we wanted to get her a toy from me and a toy from my hubby.

Well, I loved the Mulan rag doll I got Ashton so much, I decided I wanted to get another version for my godchild, little Miss S.  So we headed to the Disney Store.  They had a sale on the rag dolls.  They were cheaper if you bought 2.  But which one to choose? 

Then we found out, we didn't have to get 2 rag dolls, you could get a stuffed toy plus a rag doll.  So we looked over the goodies and as we are dog and cat lovers, we wanted to get her a stuffed animal.  So we found Lady, from Lady and the Tramp.
She's a cute 12 inch pup.  So cute!  And "manly" enough to be from my husband.  So then I was trying to decide on the rag doll which would be the toy from me.  I loved Pocahontas, but I thought, a little girl likes things to pull and dangle, which means long hair and full skirt to play with.  So I looked at Rapunzel, which would look so much like little Ms. S.  But the Snow White was so pretty.  I've always had an affinity for Snow White since I was a little girl.  Ariel, had fins and no dress, so she wasn't as much fun.  Tinkerbell was neat with the wings, but again, all these dolls had the short hair.  So I decided on Rapunzel.  She would be the most fun. 

So yes, we are "buying" our goddaughter's affections when we meet her in person for the first time.  What can I say?  Luckily I know she can't speak English, let alone read, so I can post her gifts up here with no worries.

Of course, as we were going to make these purchases, what catches my eye but a HUGE Lady.  She was 21" tall.  She had the softest, biggest ears.  She was so pretty!  I asked my husband, maybe we should take this to Finland, and I'll carry it on the plane.  He rolled his eyes, and said no way, too hard.  But I couldn't part with the dog.  She was bigger than all five dogs we have at home.  Then bam it hit me.  I didn't know why I didn't think of Ashton!  Big Lady belongs to Ashton.  And then Little Miss S. and Ashton would have the same dog, just different sizes.

Needless to say, I got HUGE Lady for Ashton.  I think she's beautiful!  Heck, I almost want to snuggle Lady all for myself!
Of course I'm banned from shopping (again) from my husband.  But he had to agree she was too stinkin' cute!  Big or small.  So we have everything ready for Finland for my favorite little girl.  And I have another gift for Ashton.  But who can resist a true lady?
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shen Yun Tonight

Tonight was Shen Yun.  I was hoping that the Falun Dafa references would be very slight and very under toned.  It wasn't.

Shen Yun didn't explain Dafa other than it was the truth.

When the show started there were 8 dance numbers with no reference to Dafa.  There was a really cute "Joyful Little Monks" dance that was really fun.  Reminded me of Mickey Mouse in Fantasia.  Anyhow, then the 9th dance was not even subtle about Falun Dafa.  In fact, the group was in China and had a sign and was being beaten by China.

For the casual observer it could be Christian group or a peace group, the Dafa didn't have anything as an identifier other than, they got beat up and kept going to Heaven in the end.

But reading about Dafa and the extra-terrestrial stuff and their racism against homosexuality and mixed-races... it's nothing I wish to support.

Regardless, that 9th dance was the Dafa being beaten by the China police and then being blessed by the Heaven's in the end.

After that, there was a tenor who sang about Dafa being spread in the world and showing the falsehoods of the world.  "dafa" was projected on the screen over and over again. 

After that it was 4 more fun dances.  Then the was another tenor signing about Dafa again, but masking in in the word "truth".

2 more fun dances, then another Falun Dafa persecution in China dance.  They brandished a banner in Chinese.  The program translated it to read, "Falun Dafa is Good".  This guy runs away from the police to the mountains, and the fairies from the mountains punish the policemen.

After that 2 more dances.  The snowflake dance was beautiful.  The spin and twirl sequined handkerchiefs.  It doesn't sound like much, but it was an amazing art form.

Then a soprano sang about Dafa. Surprise!  It wasn't a tenor this time.

Then another dance about Dafa.  The Dafa followers are in China in the park when the police arrive again.  They get beaten again.  They're left for dead when meteors fall from the sky destroying China.  Then Buddha saves the earth and brings the Dafa followers to heaven where they return "to their divine posts".

Then they ended the night with 2 more songs about Dafa.

So Dafa was not subtle.  8 strong references.  There were some amazing moments, but the "hidden agenda" was not welcomed.
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Letter From the USCIS

Yesterday there was a letter addressed to me by the USCIS.  My husband was anxious to see what it said, or if our papers got returned, or if we got our I-800A back as an I-797.  He thought it looked too thin for anything but a problem.  Good news would be thicker.

So he opened it before I came home from work.  It basically just said they got our information and in the next week or two they'll be notifying us of when to go get our fingerprints done.  Then from that date it will take them 3 months to process our paperwork and ship off our I-797 to continue with our process.

So no bad news!  Whew!  But it's a long wait.  I thought we'd be able to notarize and authenticate and get things going while we waited for the USCIS, but knowing it will take 90 days (not starting from yesterday, but from our fingerprint date - whenever that will be) it's best just to sit tight.

So we do have to renew all our paperwork.  We have to get our birth certificates again, our police reports, our medical exams, our criminal history, all the things we've been gathering, we need to pay for and reissue, as it can only be 6 months old from the original date documented.  And the dates on all the paperwork are from September and October.  So most are expiring this and next week.  The Chinese Consulate won't accept anything over 6 months old.  So as we have 3 months to wait, we aren't in a rush to get all the initial paperwork again.

However we already sent off for my husband's birth certificate again.  If we had known what we do know, we wouldn't have scrambled to get his birth certificate so soon.  But we knew that was expiring this Thursday and thought we needed everything ready if the I-797 form came back in a couple weeks. 

I remember reading that the USCIS takes a long time, but I couldn't remember what a long time referenced.  Now I know it references 3 more months!

On another note, I just found out that my good neighbor is pregnant with her first child.  She is due this October.  I so wish that my girl and her child will grow up as close friends, but I fear that her child will be older than my girl. 

So far the plan is to get everything in to China as fast as we can so we can start saving up for the big chunk at the end.  The plane tickets, the travel, the adoption fees and everything else.  So we're going to stay in the "slow" NSN line until we think we've saved enough money then we plan to go over to the SN line.  Then we hope we'll be matched up quickly after that.  We're thinking from months to a year and a half. 

I don't know when we'll switch lines.  I was hoping this Christmas, but it will probably be next Christmas.  We'll see how fast we can save up.

The depressing part is that most grants to help out during this process is only for a SN child.  And we're in the wrong line, because we can't afford to be matched sooner, so we can't apply for grants until after we've saved up the money in case we don't get the grants.  So it's all like a catch-22.  Sigh!

But we're chugging along.  The other bit of news is that yesterday a theater company finally said that I could have my play produced at their theater (I wrote a play, and have been trying to put in on ANYWHERE for the last several years) but it'd cost money, and we'd have to put it on this July. 

A couple problems with that.  a) this July might be good for some theaters to do last minute, but for me alone not being a theater company that is short notice to get people rallied and to save up the money to put on the play.  b) the agreement firsthand was that they would get all our proceeds after our initial cost of costuming, props were paid for or they'd get all the proceeds.  Now they don't want either and they want to be paid for the two weekend we were going to "put on" the play.  However, if I personally am paying for the props, costumes and everything else (it's a big cast and a set in the 1700s!) then pay for the space, we just can't afford it.  Especially now, with us saving for adoption. 

This breaks my heart, as I've been trying to produce this play of mine for a few years.  It's a huge labor of love for me and something I've obsessed over for a long time.  It's been a dream to see my work on stage.  Basically, I wrote my dream part for me to play and I want to do it before it's too late.  SO, now it's back to the drawing board.

My friend, Ms. D (who helped my husband finish his autobio) is very involved in this theater project as well, and is going to try are repeal the production costs as it's a personal project and not even put on my a not-for-profit group.  There is no group.  Just her and me (and my husband).  So I hope something can come of this.

Tonight is the Shen Yun.  Hopefully, I'll find all the beauty there is and not see all the hidden messages.  We'll see, but I'm going in with an open mind.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

End to a Long Week!

As usual, I've been working long and hard hours.  I'm anxious to get the paperwork back from the USCIS, but that will take some time.  Anyhow, in the mean time, we've got to still get other paperwork "reprinted" with a new stamp date, because as of the 15th, several expire for being over 6 months old!

Anyhow, I was ready to crash at home after work, as I do have lots of "homework" to do.  However, a co-worker and I decided to go out for dinner. I'm going to meet her and her husband with me and my husband in just half an hour.  I'm looking forward to it.  It'll be nice to forge a friendship.

Tuesday is the Shen Yun performance we paid tickets for.  I'm curious to see how it unfolds.  If I knew now what I did then, I'm sure I would have passed, but as it's too late, I can only hope for the best and pray that it's stretch or hard to tell.

Other then that, everything is still the same on the home front.  I'm anxious about our summer trip, but even that seems so far away right now.  But probably everything does when you have spring fever.

The weather has been crazy, snowing one day, warm and windy the next, the temperature has been on a wild roller coaster.  I wish I could have my lunches to enjoy the better weather, but I typically miss it as I get out after work.  The sun begins setting and the cold sets in.

Which is why I'm so looking forward to Daylight Savings!  I am happy to have the longer nights!  It makes me feel like spring has officially arrived.  Though I know it's still off a bit, it makes me believe and see light at the end of the tunnel, or light later into the night - so to speak. 

That's about it for now.  Time to go to my dinner!
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Our Big Trip

My husband and I talked quite a bit.  We know we have to save for China and how important it is.  However, we also know that once we go to China, our lives will be forever changed.

Right now, my little Goddaughter is the most important girl in my life.  But I've never gotten to meet her because she lives in Finland.  Little Miss S is now 2 years old and I want to meet the little lady who drove the desire for me to want a child of my own.

So my husband and I decided to have one last fun vacation, just the 2 of us before our family grows.  So we're taking one last fun trip as "Singles" (before parents) and have planned a trip to Finland this summer!

My best friend, Ms. M is so excited and can't wait for us to come see her and her child little Miss. S.  We'll be there for a week.  We're so stoked.

As a bonus, we have a layover in London, so we decided we'll visit London for a couple days first.  And the day we land there will be on our anniversary!  I'm so excited!  London then Finland!  This will be an exciting trip!  And I'll finally get to see my Miss S.

Ms. M has already planned out our entire Finland trip!!  She's so cute!  She emailed me our itinerary.

Day 1: arrival at noon. Settling in, meeting my mother and sister (and her kids). Driving to my mom's cabin (1 hr drive from mom's) and having relaxing sauna in the evening.
Day 2: spending time at cabin and sleeping your jet lag away (flying eastbound is the worst!!!). Returning to home (late at night or early next morning)
Day 3: Helsinki Day (walking through Helsinki and having picnic at Suomenlinna, Unesco world heritage-place). Dinner at Gula Villan which is located in an island in front of Espoo (boat-ride, yay).
Day 4: Mr. A's birthday. Haven't planned anything yet for this day. Maybe tour to Tallinn, Estonia's beautiful capital?
Day 5: Porvoo. An old city with very Scandinavian atmosphere. Lunch. Helsinki tour by night (bar-round, including range of cocktails)
Day 6: relaxing, packing, doing shopping if needed, last night dinner (maybe inviting people over/shindig)
Day 7: leaving :(

I am up for whatever she wants to show us.  I can't wait.  This will use up all the vacation I have this year, but it will be worth it (I get 2 weeks, but I'm rolling over a week for my China trip).

And London will be fast and crazy and i know we'll be tired, but it will all be so worth it!  All this crazy work hours I've been doing, will be worth it with this trip and then China afterwards. 

Anyone been to London or Finland?  Glad I'm going during the summer and not winter!
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