Sunday, March 31, 2013

3 Days... and Counting

It's hard to believe the weekend is over.  It was our last weekend at home without our girl.  Hard to believe.  And today is the last holiday without my girl.  Easter is so special this year, because I'm so thankful for my amazing daughter... whom I'll meet in a week and one day.  I can't wait to teach her about Jesus and His love for us and what Easter really means.  

Am I excited... yes and no.  Yes, I'm excited, but not excited as in true excitement.  More like anxious.  There's too much to be done still before we go and worry about before I can even think about us becoming parents.  Not to mention  it still doesn't seem real.  Even with the packing, I don't think knowing I'll be in China Thursday is sunk in.  I bet it will all sink in either the day of a a few days after. Not that I'm not thankful or not trying to take in the now.  But it's amazing how exhausted I already am with all the planning.

One weekend left without our girl and 3 days left until we board a plane to China!  Wow!  I say it but don't believe it.  Maybe that's a good thing else I'd freak myself out.  

I wish I didn't have to go to work the next 2 days.  But it is what it is.  Maybe I can move my lunch hour to the end of the day.  I don't know.  I just really don't want to work late.  I'm going to do my best to stand firm on that one.  

Well, I still have plenty of stuff to do.  It's April tomorrow, a new month, a new life!!!
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Saturday, March 30, 2013

4 Days... and Counting

Today it was nice to sleep in for a bit.  We tried getting a lot of the little things done.  We fixed the drawer on her desk.  We bought the new hinge for her toy chest.  We're doing laundry and fixing the broken floor tile and other crazy things to make us feel better.  

Most importantly, my husband was on a mission today to buy a puppet for our girl for the trip.  He thinks she'll love it.  We carefully looked at each one.  But his huge hands eliminated most of them.  We ended up with a zebra.  Be sure to stay tuned to see Zelda's debut in China.
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Friday, March 29, 2013

5 Days... and Counting

5 days left.  I can count it on one hand now!

It's FINALLY Friday, and yes I will be bringing work home, but I will have breaks between all the rush of getting stuff packed and getting things wrapped up at home!

I came to work over an hour early to get things done and I feel so rested and ready to take it all on.  So different from yesterday.  I promised myself today is that last time (other than periods over the weekend) that I'm working late.  Monday and Tuesday will be normal workdays.  Let's hope I can keep that promise.

I look forward to the weekend.  I'm sure it will be crazy and hectic.  But I do hope that my husband and I can take a few minutes to ourselves and enjoy our last weekend together at home and relish in the future and in the present.
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

6 Days... and Counting

Today was our agency's conference call with our travel group 1977.  I left work early (using my lunch at the end of the day) to go home so I could concentrate on the call without being interrupted   

Today was a really hard day.  The long hours and constant work load from adoption details and work wrap-ups took it's toll.  I was a zombie today and going in slow motion.  I felt like I had jetlag already!  I started deligating at work, removing some of the additional work that I knew couldn't get done or that would help me focus on what needed more concentration.  I wanted to be a superstar and do it all, but my tired body retaliated.

I hope there's no disappointment at work.  I've been working hard, but there's so much going on, I'm on every waking moment with no chance to relax.

When I got home, I found a delivery on the front step of our house.  I brought it in and got home with 7 minutes to spare before the call.

The call was just an overview of what we got last night.  Nothing earth-shattering.  I think it's just a touch point more for reiterating the 30 page packet we got last night and feeling safe and heard.

After the call my husband and I opened our package from our Secret Pal!  I hit the jackpot!!

I got a bunch of board books and beautifully illustrated children's books, ladybug stickers, as well as a travel kit.  I grew up on the ABC Dr. Suess book, I just never had it as a board book.  And the Little Panda book is so precious and lovely.  It was so thoughtful.

The card read, "Just read back over your secret pal info and am paranoid I've sent you something Pooh-themed." Don't worry you didn't :)

"I know I didn't send Barney - I would never do that to someone.  I know you are getting ready for your TA and I'm so excited for you!  It has been fun being your secret pal and following your journey.  Enclosed are some board books that have been my kids' favorites.   Ones that my teens still remember!  I hope they become as special to your family as they are to ours.  Also, as I begin to obsess over my own travel plans, I decided to pick up a few extra items for you to throw in your bag too.  I hope your TA arrives soon and look forward to hearing about Ashton's homecoming.  P.S. They have Star Wars plate/cup/bowl sets at Target.  I was soooo tempted!  Your Secret Pal

I now I just learned the secret identity of my secret pal!  You can read her blog here!  Her short, little bio is a hoot!

Thank you a million times over!  You were or are the best Secret Pal!  You've really helped during this process.  I feel so lucky to have learned about you piece by piece!  And I can't wait until you get your TA and have your daughter in your arms!
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

7 Days... and Counting

Just 7 days left!!!

Just got my itinerary!  Feels good to know what we're doing!

Wednesday, 4/3/13 - Leave for Beijing
Thursday, 4/4/13 - Arrive in Beijing
                             Check in Central Plaza Hotel
Friday, 4/5/13 - Tour Beijing: 
                         - Tienanmen Square
                         - Forbidden City
                         - Hutong Tour
Saturday, 4/6/13 - Tour Beijing
                             - Great Wall
Sunday, 4/7/13 - Depart Beijing for Zhengzhou, Henan
                           Check in Crowne Plaza Hotel
Monday, 4/8/13 - GOTCHA DAY!!! 
                           (Yang Na will deliver her to us)
                           - Sign guardianship agreement
                           - Take registration certificate photos
                           - Prepare registration paperwork
Tuesday, 4/9/13 - Adoption Registration
                            Notary Interview
Wednesday, 4/10/13 - Visit Sanmenxia (by train):
                                   Apply for passport at Public Security Office
Thursday, 4/11/13 - Receive Notary Documents
Friday, 4/12/13 - Receive passport
Saturday, 4/13/13 - FREE DAY
Sunday, 4/14/13 - Leave Zhengzhou for Guangzhou
                             Check in to China Hotel
                             Prepare for Consulate Appointment
Monday, 4/15/13 - Child's Physical
                             Visa Photo
                              Visit Shamian Island/Buddist Blessing?
Tuesday, 4/16/13 - Tour Safari Park
                              Get Buddist Blessing/Shamian Island?
Wednesday, 4/17/13 - Consulate Appointment
Thursday, 4/18/13 - Receive Visa Packet
Friday, 4/19/13 - Leave Guangzhou for Hong Kong
                           Check into Disney Hollywood
                           Tour Hong Kong Disney
Saturday, 4/20/13 - Leave for Indianapolis
                               Arrive home!
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eight Days... and Counting!

Today was a very tiring day.  We have our flights finalized and we're working on the details now.  I worked about 12 hours today at work, and still feel very behind.  I'm trying to get everything in order before I leave to China.  It still doesn't seem real at all.  I don't think it will sink in until after we're there.  Heck, I don't think being a parent will sink in until after we have Ashton for a few days!  It's so silly!  But we're one day closer!

As for Amadeus, his infection is getting better, but at too slow a rate.  So today at the vet they decided to get him stronger medicine.  We hope the infection is gone when we come back from China.  But either way once we come back we have to take my little man back to the vet to be checked out.
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Countdown to China Begins!

Today started off with a heavy snowfall.  My car got stuck twice on its way to work. Some guy actually got out of his car and pushed me up a hill!

But when I got to work, by 10am I got an email from my agency.

We were given our CA today!!  Our CA appointment is 4/17, a Wednesday.  That means we can fly out April 3rd, a Wednesday.  We will have Ashton in our arms on April 8th, a Monday!  We're locking in our flights and all the details.  We should be coming home April 20th. I'll have her home before her 18 month birthday. 

Nine days and counting!!!  So, I'll have just over a week to be home before I go back to work on the 29th!  (I'm using all my PTO days!)

I'll post a detailed itinerary of our trip soon!

I'll see and hold my girl 2 weeks from today!  We're super excited and trying to get everything in line as we have a week to get it all ready!
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Saturday, March 23, 2013

17 Month Birthday & Pirate Girl

This should be Ashton's last birthday without us.  We should have her at her 18 month milestone.  Each month she has gotten older has been hard, but today wasn't so bad knowing I could leave for China in less than 2 weeks.

Today we've been getting extra things we need for our trip to China.  Nothing special.

I mentioned in June that our neighbor was going to look into knitting the pirate doll I've loved for some time.

Well, she never did.  A few months ago, I was talking to my boss about still trying to find someone who could knit this doll.  He said his wife could.  I bought the supplies and paid for her time and got an amazing doll yesterday!  She brought her in a butterfly box and red tissue paper.  It holds her perfectly.

She's beautiful.  I call her Anne Bonny (after my favorite pirate)!!  Is'n't she awesome?

I can't wait for Ashton to play with her.  But if she doesn't I will!  She has a handkerchief  gun, sword, parrot, treasure chest, gold, pirate patch, hat, coat... she has it all!  And all the small pieces fit perfectly in the treasure chest!  It's awesome!

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Isn't she fantastic?

Anne Bonny in all her glory!

Sporting the Princess Leia hair.

Has a tatto!!

Look at the detail of the coat.

Coins, sword and pistol.

Her Treasure Chest and parrot!  His tail is colorful, though you can't see it.

This will be on display in her room for sure!

I love the doll.  This is definitely a special doll.  I love original stuff like this.  It is amazing, one-of-a-kind!  I can't wait to see my girl with it!  I hope she loves this awesome pirate girl doll as much as I do!
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Just got T.A.!!!!

After 15 long days of waiting.... we FINALLY got our T.A.  Our travel approval is here!!

I still don't know when we're going yet, it all depends when we get our Consulate Appointment.  (which it should be assigned by Monday or sometime next week)  But we're going to China!!!  I could go as early at April 3rd!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Educate Kids About Adoption

This is so good, I had to share: From Rage Against the Minivan Blog 

I took the kids to the park the other day, and I was seated just close enough to the play structure that I could faintly overhear a conversation that occurred between Kembe and several older kids.  At first, I had a hard time understanding what was being said, but something about Kembe’s posture caught my attention.  Typically, he’s a relatively cocky over-confident kid with a lot of swagger., even around older kids.  But in this setting he looked . . . almost cornered.  He seemed intimidated and a bit helpless.  As I strained to hear, I though I heard one of the kids saying, “That is NOT your real mom.”  I had an immediate pit in my stomach, and tried to check myself.  Surely they are not ganging up on him about adoption, I thought.  I stood up and started walking casually towards them, so that I could hear the conversation and intervene if needed.  Sure enough, this is what I heard the four other children saying to Kembe:

“That is not your real mom”

“Yeah, where is your REAL mom?”

“So you are adopted"?”

“You HAVE to be adopted”

“No way that is your mom”

“What happened to your real parents?”

I don’t think these kids were trying to be cruel.  But the way that they were surrounding him, asking questions and refusing to accept his answer as he repeatedly pointed to me as his mom, made the situation feel confrontational. Kembe looked embarrassed and I decided to intervene.  I approached them and tried, in my most friendly and casual voice, to introduce myself and then asked if they had some questions I could help with.

“We were just wondering what happened to his real parents, “ one of the kids asked.  I told them that this was a personal question – that it was up to him if he wanted to share but that it might not be polite to ask.  They seemed to get that.  We talked a bit more, and the kids were all very nice, suddenly seeming to take quite a friendly interest in our family.  The only girl in the group, who I’d guess was about eleven, starting gushing about how great it was that I adopted him.

“It’s SO NICE you took him in. Because orphanages are a really bad place.  They just make you clean all day long, and then people come in but they might just be pretending to be your real parents for money.”

It was clear her only education on orphan life and adoption was the movie Annie.  Then, the clincher.  Another kid – a boy of about 10 – seemed relieved that I came over to explain this whole mix-up of our family.  His actual words:

“I mean, I could tell that something was wrong.  Something was not right about that

I corrected him then, my patience running a bit more thin.  “There is nothing wrong.  It’s different, huh? Most families match and we don’t.  But it’s different.  It’s not wrong.”

This isn’t the first time my kids have been questioned on the “realness” of their family by their peers.  I suspect it won’t be the last.  I know I can’t expect every single kid to have been educated on adoption, and inevitably my kids will be the ones educating their peers.  But is it too much to ask that other parents, whose families don’t have exposure to transracial families, take a couple minutes and explain it to them so that my kids aren’t always the center of the After-School Special on Adoption in the school playyard?  Because it’s already getting old, and we’ve got a long ways to go.
In fact, I will make it really, really simple right now. Here’s a script.  You can ad-lib.  Frestyle it.  Or just say this:
1. Sometimes kids have different skin colors from their parents. It could be because they are adopted, or because their parents are different races, or because they have a step mom or step dad.  It’s no big deal.  They are still real families.  There is nothing wrong or weird about families with different skin colors. (Insert examples from your own life here. Or have a come-to-Jesus meeting about diversifying your friendship circle).

2. When someone is adopted, their mom is just a mom.  The person who gave birth to them is called a “birth mom”.  Both of them are real moms.

3. It can be nosey or embarrassing to ask a kid if they are adopted or ask what happened to their birth mom, especially if you don’t know them.  That could make them feel bad, so don’t do it.  If you are curious, ask me about it and if I know the answer we can talk about it.


And while you are at it, you can throw in a bit about how some kids have parents that don’t live together, or have two mommies or daddies, etc. Because no child from unique family circumstances deserves to be singled out on the playground because we’ve failed to explain the world to our kids.

On the flip side, if they’ve seen Tangled or Annie or any other number of Disney movies, you may have some deconstruction to do about what adoption is really like and what language is appropriate.

I know we’re all doing the best we can, and that there are a million things we are trying to impart to our kids.  But taking a minute to talk normalize adoptive families with your kids would be doing my kids a major solid. 

In the meantime, we’ll be continuing our role-plays at home, in which I play the nosey kid on the school ground and I help my kids come up with comebacks that they are comfortable with. Jafta’s favorites:

You don’t have a very mature understanding of adoption.


Does she look like a fake mom to you? 

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Work Adoption Shower

Last week invites went out for the adoption shower at work.  Today we had it.  They had lemon squares and veggie tray and chips and salsa out for everyone.  They even decorated the conference room in pink poms and there were little bird napkins with pink plates.

I came down and I sort of told my story.  Where we were at in the process.  How old she is.  What her names are.  What to expect in China.  What to expect before we go.  All sorts of information.

We then ate and I got to hear their mother stories with their children, the best and worst.

They all filled out cards with advice for a first time parent and put in in this beautiful look for me.  It was so sweet!  

Advice card 1: Everyone is an expert parent.  What works for you may not have worked for anyone else.  We have friends in Nashville that have 2 adopted children, one from Russia and a little girl from China.  The husband met the little girl at school for lunch and one of the 1st graders looked at the Dad and said she looked nothing like him.  He responded, "Well she looks a lot like her mom".  Be prepared to answer quick truths whenever you can.  Congratulations and may you have a safe and happy journey.

Advice card 2: Try not to stress over the details and just enjoy the wonder of your child.  It is so fun to watch your child explore and experience things for the first time, so enjoy it completely.  Housework and other things can wait - childhood is fleeting.

Advice card 3: 1. Hug often. 2. Tell her you love her frequently when she's good. 3. Tell her you love her more frequently when she's bad. 4. It's okay to be overprotective, but realize the day will come when you have to let her test her wings. 5. It's okay to not get it right the first time. This goes for her and you. 6. See #1.  A child is a gift.  Hold her close and cherish her.

Advice card 4: Don't stress over the small stuff. you are not superwoman.  you will only be able to do so much each day.  When you have to choose between time with family or cleaning the house... always choose family.  The dust will be there tomorrow, but your kids grow up and may not be.

Advice card 5: From my experience: A two year old will see nothing your way, hear nothing you day, and say nothing you understand.  But, a three year old will see everything you do, hear everything you day and say things everyone understands.

Advice card 6: Relax! Housework will wait.  And remember - whatever you do, your daughter will believe is normal.  And don't blink or she will be grown up.

It was such a delight to have my workplace so supportive and happy for me.  God has blessed me so much!!  I can't wait for TA so I can book our flights to China!!

Soon my little pirate princess!  Soon!
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Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Shamrock's Birthday

Even though we're waiting for TA, I still remember other non-adoptive, important events.  Today is Arwen's birthday.  She's a wonderful girl!  She is our lucky shamrock and we love her very much!  

Yes, I'm one of those dog owners that puts my Chihuahua's in outfits! And she looks fabulous by the way!
Happy birthday sweet girl!
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Adoption Travel Shower

Today was the baby shower!  It was wonderful and exhausting!  We were super cleaning the house.  Painting walls, base boards, and being sure every detail was perfect.  We even did the windows!!

It started at 2pm and everyone arrived at once.  It went from decorating the house to greeting guests, getting coats and running interference.

A couple of my friends planned the whole thing and we had it at our house.  We had favors for the guests, red bags with fortune cookies, chopsticks, and tea.
Favors for the guests.

Another sweet friend did the cake.  And man, did she hit it out of the park!  Amazing!!  And it also tasted amazing!  Moist and butter-cream icing!  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
What a gorgeous cake, and her name in Chinese symbols!

Didn't want to cut into this beauty!

Ms M with her creation!

Ms. M and me with the cake!

My hubby and I with the cake!

We got a few photos of the day, but most didn't turn out.

Started with people taking sticky arrows and putting it on the city or Provence they think Ashton is from. (We got 2 in the Provence, but no one got the city.)

Then we had Price is Right with baby stuff.  Then we played name the baby animal.  Last was baby bottle bowling.  Then gifts.  I wasn't expecting so many.  We got a rocking chair, clothes, diapers, bath stuff, toys, lots of thoughtful gifts.  It was a great day!

There I am behind Grandma in the chair to the left.

Back of Ms. J (Godparent and planned party with Ms. D in dress on left).

Ms. D (one of the friends that hosted and planned games over my shoulder)

Ashton is very loved!  We all can't wait to meet her!
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Last Touch for Nursery

Well, it is the last touch for the nursery, besides finding anything in China itself.

This "last touch" was one of the first things I knew I wanted in her room, no matter what.  Before a referral, I envisioned what this would look like!  And it's perfect!!

I love Etsy and I love custom design work.  I've gotten several key pieces for Ashton's nursery from Etsy.

The Cherry Blossom Tree with Girl on Swing

The Bird Mobile

Now I have my China journey to Ashton poster!!

The store Journey To Madi has an incredible artwork that they do for China adoptions.  I fell in love.

They are a family who just came back from China adopting a daughter named Madi.  Creating these artwork posters of the child's Provence and your trip is how they help pay back their adoption savings.  It's simply gorgeous.

I imagined how it would look.  I was so excited to see what they would com up with.  I sent several photos and got to choose the best one.  They even enhanced it how I asked.  I LOVE it!

See for yourself!!

This is something we will treasure forever!!  

The frame was some gold/black thing that we spray painted white.  It took several coats.  We loved the holes for the red to come through and how the frame "matted" the photo by pushing it out.  

Now with the nursery basically complete, here is a video of the completed room!  Just needs a little girl!


Of course, the video is dark at the end and you can't see Drusilla to well, waiting in the crib for Ashton.  So, I had to take a photo so you could see her!

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Work Surprise

I just got a card that is being passed around work today by the HR department!  My work is throwing me a shower next Tuesday!  Isn't that neat!?

I so love where I work!  I feel so appreciated here.  And at my last job, I was so worried because they weren't very supportive of my adoption.  Here, they're celebrating it!  I can't wait to see the advice book!

Guess I better RSVP.
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