Sunday, March 30, 2008
Our DTC group (Dossier to China, now known as Log in date, I believe) had become a very close knit and supportive online group. At the time, a 13-14 month was the longest it had been in many years and the wait was excruciating. Sadly, the wait has now extended to well past 2 years.
We had heard rumors that referrals were due in any day. Most of thought we’d start we’d start to see them on April 1…April Fools Day seemed a fitting day to receive our referral after such a roller coaster ride! (Remember, SARS was also playing havoc with international adoptions at the time.)
Sandra in our group was the first to post that she had her referral for her Jasmine. This may seem strange, but most of us had already named our daughters and the group had gotten to know these little girls who only existed in our hearts at that time. Seeing pictures of these little girls materialize was just amazing.
I remember sitting in my office talking with a Vice President (who had also adopted). My phone rang and I saw my agency’s name come up on the caller ID. Thankfully the VP, having gone through “the call” herself, tactfully understood that I wanted her to LEAVE when I said "that's my agency calling!
I answered the phone to hear Carolyn from our agency say “I’m looking at a picture of your daughter and she is beautiful!” That’s all I remember from the phone call. I was in such a state of disbelief. To be honest, I remember being in a similar state of disbelief when I found out I was pregnant with Carson (I argued with the nurse that I could NOT be pregnant because I never got pregnant!)
I called Perry and he met me over at our agency’s office. I made him promise to wait for me in the parking lot if he arrived first so we could see our daughter’s face together.
I can’t even describe the emotions of seeing her face for the first time. I do remember thinking, “Wow, she’s Asian” which was such a dumb thing! Duh, what was I expecting?!? But, Carolyn was right…she was (and is still!) the most beautiful little girl I’ve ever seen. We signed the acceptance paperwork on the spot...there was no doubt that this was our daughter!
My sister was the only family living nearby at the time and she happened to be off work that day and met us down at the agency’s office. She had her boys with her and I don’t remember them being as impressed!
Thanks to technology, Elise’s picture was shared with friends and family all over the country within a matter of hours.
It’s hard to believe it’s just been 5 years. It seems like yesterday, yet it also seems like a lifetime ago. Somehow, this beautiful perfect little girl was destined to join our family from half a world away. The agony of waiting just melted once we saw that picture.
From there, however, we still had SARS to deal with as we waited for our travel approval. What an anxious time for all of us in our group, knowing our babies were waiting for us and knowing that we might not get to go get them in a timely matter. Several in our group had to deal with people telling them they shouldn't travel at the time, some had to go into quarantine when they returned, all of us had to deal with dumb comments and plan for taking extra precautions when we did travel. Most of us did make it over to China before the country closed down adoptions for a short while, but there were several families that did not make it and had to wait several months longer than the rest of us.
We are so thankful to China for allowing us to raise this amazing child. She is so proud of her Chinese heritage but so solidly an American child!
Elise…we are so privileged to be your parents. We love you with our all our hearts and look forward to seeing what life has in store for you!
- My kids are fighting at the moment. Sigh. They've alternated between being the best of friends one moment and screaming at each other the next. How soon can we call it bedtime?
- My folks came and babysat the kids. The kids had a GREAT time. Grandma took Elise to one of those pottery places and Elise painted a castle switch plate for her room. We go back in a week to pick it up and I can't wait to see it! Grandpa took Carson to a small lake in town to wander (one of Carson's favorite activities!).
- I ended up taking Carson to the dreaded school carnival on Friday evening. It actually wasn't all that bad. I saw a few other parents that I enjoy. One mom told me she and her hubby did Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would attend the carnival...she lost. I was SHOCKED at how many of the little girls had larger chests that me (although, honestly, that doesn't take much). Seriously, these kids are all 3rd, 4th and 5th graders! I'm assuming the chesty ones were 5th graders, but *sheesh* that seems young for such b**bs! Then again, I was lucky to be wearing a bra by high school, so who am I to say?!?
- Perry and I enjoyed a quiet date night last night. We went to a German restaurant about an hour away. Just that alone catching up the car was wonderful. We decided that we really do need to do this more often. As for the food...Perry LOVED it. I had a harder time finding something I liked....I did get a kick out of the "lighter side" portion of the menu. One item was salmon...deep fried (not sure how that qualifies as "light")!
- We arrived home to find the kids in this get up. They did end up sleeping in it almost all night (until the storms came through at 5:00 am and they piled in bed with us!)
Friday, March 28, 2008
We had a night of storms last night and sometime during the night, Elise crawled into bed with us and snuggled up against me...burning up! Poor kiddo! She rarely gets sick but does tend to spike quick fevers. So I'm home with her today. (I had an off campus meeting all today that didn't look all that much fun, and I'm not complaining about missing that!) With some OTC meds, she already seems to be perking up a bit.
Here are a few other random thoughts:
- We're so ready for spring. The weather is teasing us these days. A day or two of 60 degree weather, followed by cold, wet and dreary days. (It's one of those cold, wet and dreary days today.) We bought some new deck furniture a few weeks back and I keep thinking "maybe we'll get it out this weekend"...nope, still sitting in the garage tempting me to smash into it every time I pull the car in. :)
- Basement is still a mess. Wallboard on one wall was partially removed to dry the walls, so we need to get that repaired now. Carpet has been ordered but won't be in until April 15. Perry's looking at double sump pumps, battery backup models and alarms. (can you say cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching as the costs for this "minor flood" start to add up?)
- Carson's school has a carnival tonight. Am I the only parent that dreads those events? A friday night in a school overflowing with hyped up kiddos and stressed out parents? The one at Carson's old school (now Elise's school) really drove me nuts....the school was just not large enough to accommodate the crowds. Hopefully tonight's will be better...or better yet, maybe I'll just stay home with Elise and Perry can take Carson! (He has a much higher tolerance for the things that turn me into an anxious wreck!)
- Perry and I have a date night this weekend! We so rarely do that! I gave him a gift certificate to a German restaurant for Christmas that we are finally going to use. Perry's family is German and he really gets a hankering for good ol' German food every now and then. It'll be fun to have some alone time with the hubs!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The monster dehumidifier that sounds like an airplane jet (my sad, lonely treadmill behind it.)
Sunday, March 23, 2008
We had dinner at my sister's and the egg hunt at Aunt Carol's house (Waiting Hearts friends will remember Aunt Carol!)
Elise and "bunny-bunny" getting ready for the egg hunt.
Carson and Grandma sort his Easter egg loot after the egg hunt.
Even college kids aren't too big for egg hunts.
Tyler was so busy "helping" all of his cousins find eggs that he ended up with the smallest pile of eggs (his cousins shared so they all ended up with equal amounts).
Spencer very intently counting his eggs (they were each allowed a certain number of eggs).
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I did walk into the kids all huddled around playing Elise's Nintendo DS.
Do you see the "old fashioned" versions of the games in the background?!? Yup...I can see that would be much more fun to all huddle around a tiny screen rather than set up the "old fashioned" version.
Basement Update - soaked pad is out, air movers and high powered dehumidifier in place. Carpet guy came by today and said carpet sat in water (on the soaked pad) for so long that the adhesive that connects the carpet to the backing was eroded and the carpet wouldn't last long term if we tried to replace it. Dang it. I hate the hassle of going back and forth with the insurance company...they want to close the claim as cheaply as possible and we just want it replaced with he same grade we had down there...somehow those 2 desires clash when it comes to money.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
So...Eric & Merry...make room on your new deck! (Sneakers doesn't come with the toys...she's staying here.)
It always pulls at my heart a bit when my kids outgrow beloved toys. With Carson, Elise was always still behind him and I looked forward to Elise getting some enjoyment out of toys he'd outgrown. But, when Elise outgrows toys, there's no one else in our immediate family to enjoy them. Thankfully my brother and his wife just started their family so we hope to have lots of nieces and nephews in line for the toys!
Elise got the house when she was 2 (her first birthday celebrated with us!) and the sand box when she was 3. She's gotten plenty of use out of both of them and I'm happy to see them going to other kids, but it still makes a bit sad that my kiddos are growing up so quickly. I never really understood that sentiment until I started experiencing it myself. I love the kids they are becoming, but it is a reminder to slow down and enjoy the here and now before it's gone.
Update on the basement
Still no visit from the pros...apparently there is quite a bit of flooding all around to keep them busy! Sigh. Perry continues to suck water out, but it is drying out. Lots of fans set up down there. We're fortunate that there is very minimal personal property damage and it was clean water. The carpet remains the big worry, but we keep hearing we'll likely just need to replace the pad. There is lots of flooding down here and folks are being flooded out of their houses by not so clean water, so really, in the grand scheme of things, we're just fine!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
So, I detour through our local Home Depot to pick up a sump pump on the way home. Once Perry gets it installed, we start sucking the water out of the carpet. Ugh! Thankfully my dad came over to help. Thanks to all the rain, the pros who would normally come out are booked solid at present. Hopefully they'll make it out here tomorrow.
Here's the now working sump pump with the water drying. Once we got the new pump installed, the standing water in the very few bare concrete areas dried up pretty quickly. Unfortunately, there had been enough water and time for it to soak the carpet.
See...that new carpet steamer I recently purchased through by beloved QVC really came in handy! I can't tell you how many gallons of water we sucked up today. (We had several other wet/dry vacs in addition to this lovely model!)
The insurance adjuster told us that we could rent some air movers to help before the pros come. This sad looking thing was the only left in stock (we've had ALOT of rain so there are plenty of wet basements in our area right now.) This thing sounds like an airplane, though!
Ugh...the big worry is that the new carpet/pad will mildew. Apparently there are some products that the pros can put down to prevent that. I hope we've done enough to prevent future problems. I really hope we don't have to start ripping things out again. The adjuster said we might have to replace the pad, but the carpet is probably still good.
And...did you know that SUMP PUMP damage isn't normally covered on all policies?!? That adjuster did step back slightly when he saw my face after he made THAT comment. He quickly added that we HAD purchased the rider that does cover sump pump damage.
What a mess! That basement and I are not on good terms at the moment! :)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Nope...I walked into her room to see two faces cuddled together illuminated by the lights in their game systems.
Sigh...at least they were quiet and getting along!
Monday, March 17, 2008
And Carson and Perry have been cleaning out the critter homes in Carson's room (OK, >Perry< has been cleaning out the tanks. Hence the name of our blog is A Houseful of Critters...
And the turtle table. These guys are actually pretty cool. Carson saved the money for the turtles and the table all year last year.
Here's a close-up of the turtles (Russian tortoises, actually).
Yup...it was really getting stinky in his room!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I do need to venture away from my Panera soup and ice cream diet. I'm fearful all that ice cream is going to bring a cruel reality when I try to put on work clothes tomorrow. :(
With the recent spat of nice weather and lots of time lounging in bed with a laptop, I have started planning our summer garden! For those of you who have seen our yard, it presents some challenges. We have 2 acres and anything we try to do just looks small (and we can't afford the grand plans that would make it appear to scale!)
Last year, we planted our first veggie garden in this house. Unfortunately, we put it OUTSIDE of the fenced area of our yard and right off the 6 acres of woods. It served as an open buffet to our fine furry friends of the forest. :) We managed to get a few tomatoes, cukes and peas but the critters ate almost everything else.
This year, we're going to try raised beds INSIDE the fenced area. Our concern in our beagle-mutt. She's been known to eat my houseplants and the pepper/tomato plants I've grown on the deck. (She's really NOT the smartest doggie out there...) I'm hoping the kids will help more if it's closer to the house and less out of sight. Nothing better than fresh veggies in the summer!
I did order some hydrangeas. I've always wanted to grow them but have heard they are really dificult to maintain. I see them all the time around here, so they do grow in our area. We'll see how it goes!
We've also wanted to try a fruit garden. We've grown strawberries before with success, but would love to try blueberries, blackberries and raspberries! (OK, that might be a bit much for this year.)
I'm so ready for spring!!!
Friday, March 14, 2008
Flash forward to now. Decided to put on my big girl panties and just finish the dern surgery before my teeh actually DID fall out (and my dentist can stop giving me grief about it!) Still not fun, but not as horid as last time and it's done. A little Xanax and a cranked up iPod really helped this time (and not coming home to a collicky, breastfeeding baby like I did after the last surgery!) :)
Beautiful weather here today! I can't wait for spring and spend some time in bed planning my veggie garden.
Oh, and the kids started a 10 day stretch of being off school. I honestly think they are off more than they are in school these days. They took good care of me in my sore and swollen state today (they also took advantage of Mom's ice cream diet!)
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
And here are the many faces of Elise. Most of these were taken as she was laughing at her brother. And, yes, she is wearing a Christmas dress in March, take it up with her if you have a problem with that fashion sense.
I'm still not crazy about Carson's haircut, but I'm wondering if it's just because he's at that age where he doesn't look like my baby anymore but is looking more grown up. Sigh.... Guess a haircut isn't going to fix my desire to slow down the growing up process. But, I do love Elise's haircut (and so does she).
I'm off to help Carson finish the homework project that he SHOULD have spent some time on during the THREE days off school this week. He didn't believe us that the teacher wasn't going to change the project deadline just because they had snow days last week. I'm so ready for summer...mostly for a break with the homework battles!!!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
So, usually about once a year, we cut it off up to her shoulders. Carson always tries to convince her to grow it out long enough for Locks of Love, but she's not been interested yet.
We also decided we didn't really like Carson's recent haircut so we wanted to try again while he was still agreeable.
Here is my attempt at getting a picture of the kiddos today...
Thursday, March 6, 2008
THIS is what they look like today! They have grown into beautiful, strong young women. We're so proud of them! (That German heritage doesn't come through AT ALL, does it?!?) Jen (the 5 year old!) is a college junior getting ready to head to Germany for a semester abroad. Steph (the 3 year old!) is a hotshot track star in her first year of college.
Jen & Steph...you are amazing girls and I've so enjoyed watching you grow up. I love seeing the special relationship you both have with your mom, Omi and Opi and Aunt Eileen! You are wonderful role models for your younger cousins (who look up to you soooo much!) and we can't wait to see what life has in store for you!!!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Inevitably when I talk to these classes , I always get questions related to adoption. I’m pretty open about most things and I see this as an opportunity to increase the awareness of adoption-related issues in a group of future teachers.
I talk to them about issues and terminology we've already dealt with such as:
- she's of the Asian race and not an Oriental thing
- we are her REAL family and Carson is her REAL brother
- yes she knows she's adopted (honest to God, we were asked that last year)
- her speech disorder has nothing to do with her being Chinese and, no, we don't know if it's genetic
- she does NOT SPEAK Chinese because she's being raised in an English speaking home
Along with specific questions about adopted children, I typically get the question “why did you decide to adopt from
So, here’s why we decided to adopt from
The short answer…that happened to be where our daughter was born and living at the time. :)
Here's the longer answer…(because folks don’t always “get” the short answer):
I always thought that if I had kids I would adopt or foster kids. I never really had any desire to be pregnant and give birth. Frankly, it seemed pointless to me since there were so many unwanted children in the world (I had a sister die at birth when I was 4...maybe that had something to do with not wanting kids?!?). But, it took Perry a bit longer to be comfortable with adoption, he really wanted a biological child and I had to respect that desire.
When it came down to the actual "starting of a family", it wasn’t quite as easy for us as it seemed. We were fortunate that I had a job at the time with lots of flexibility and great insurance that covered infertility (something virtually unheard of at the time). We also had no money in those days! :) So, we felt the path for us at the time was clearly the infertility route. As that path became longer and more emotionally painful, we started exploring adoption and Perry became more comfortable with the idea. We had set a limit on how many more cycles we’d pursue the infertility treatments before turning to adoption. On our next to last cycle that we had agreed to pursue, we got pregnant.
Once we decided to start a family, we had decided we wanted 2 kids. So, after
So why international adoption?
I can’t imagine 2 more perfect children for our family. I’m forever grateful that I experienced different paths to parenthood for my children. There is no difference in the end result…you love them the same no matter how they come to you. Each path had their benefits and pitfalls. No one path was “easy” in any sense of the word. I experienced the same joy and emotions the first moment each child was placed in my arms (and I looked about as crappy for each one after a 14 hour labor for one and a trip across the world for the other!)
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Carson set up an Army fort and played with his Army toys.
Elise and I finally worked on her scrapbook. My mom had a brilliant idea and got Elise her own "scrapbook" that she can work on right along side of me.
One of the pages I did for Elise's princess album.
One of the pages Elise did in her little scrapbook.