Friday, December 29, 2006

Desert Dwellers Get-Together...

I'll post a Christmas review complete with pics as soon as I find the camera but first things first...I sent out an announcement about this back in October. I can'tbelieve that January 13th is just around the corner!!!Plans are in the works for a get-together on Saturday, January 13th,2007 in Tucson, AZ for Desert Dwellers (and anyone who cares to makethe trip!) who are waiting for their Chinese daughters or sons.

Plans include meeting at a Chinese (or Mexican) restaurant for lunch (@ 11:30 a.m.),pedicures (because we will still be wearing flip-flops in January down here!), and then coming back to my home for dessert and China/adoption inspired fun and games.

It should be lots of fun and a chance to meet and visit with others in the same 'slow boat to China!' If you are interested in attending, leave a comment with your email address and include your vote for Chinese or Mexican cuisine. I'll send out a final email with details and directions next week. So far there are 4 of us planning to attend. Hope you can join us!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas 2006!

We had a wonderful Christmas this year. It is always a joy to me to relive the excitement of Christmas morning through my children.
Before the fun...

...and after

It was super-hero Christmas for X. He got some and then became one. You can see above the get-up that he has been sporting ever since. Hopefully this means that we can retire the pumpkin outfit until next year!

N's favorite gift was his Fish*r Price Digital Camera. He's been snapping pics ever since. I'll have to set up a shutterfly account for him soon.

A's favorite was a Fur Real Friends puppy. All of the kids wanted a real dog-this was a great compromise!

T got a REAL skateboard from a skateshop. Santa finally learned that the ones from W*lM*rt don't last. When he picked it up he said, "Hey look, the wheels actually turn!"

Grandma in her famous pincurls and scarf.

...and after at Brad and Sandee's for dinner.

So, that's the Christmas review from our house. We hope that you and yours had as wonderful a day as we did!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

and all through the house, our 4 creatures were stirring and we all stuffed our mouths!
After gorging on enchiladas, we all took a chilly stroll through Winterhaven to see the Christmas light displays. We came back home, thawed out and had a little Christmas program. The kids acted out the nativity. T gave up his usual stint as Joseph to little X who took the role rather seriously! We sang a few songs, had some hot cocoa and sent the kids off to bed.
N as a wiseman

A as Mary

T on his violin

X as Joseph

Grandma joined in on the fun!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Latest China Info-

On the Impending Changes: By now the whole world knows about the impending changes to China's adoption requirements. Since the NY Times article came out this morning, I've had several people comment on the article. For those thinking about trying to eek their way in by the May 1, 2007 deadline several agencies are saying that your dossier must be China ready by April 1st, another says April 15th. I heard directly from an agency today that said if you haven't started paperchasing yet and would be affected by the new changes, don't bother. Yikes, the race is on.

On the Wait: I was perusing adoption agency sites looking for alternative programs for home study clients that may no longer be eligible for China adoption in the near future. I came across an agency's program overview spreadsheet. They had already updated the China Requirement column to reflect the impending changes. What struck me was in info found in the Wait to Referral column. It said 16+ months but will continue to lengthen gradually through 2007. If this means all the way through 2007 then that would mean and 24 month wait for us and worse for those behind us. Since they had already updated the Requirements section, it makes me wonder if they know something we don't and worded the Wait to Referral section to also reflect info gained at the December 8th meeting. Ugh. Only time will tell.

Hatching a Plan...

Have you ever noticed about life that things seem to happen when you are least prepared for them or when you least expect them or when it would be the least convenient? For example, if you go shopping and don't have a dime to spend, you will find a thousand things that you would be perfectly happy taking home with you. On the other hand, if you go shopping with cash in your pocket and really want to buy some new outfits either everything will be ugly or won't fit.

I tested this theory on life out once when I was a teenager. I was getting ready for school in the morning to find that I was out of hairspray. It was aerosol and I was too young to be concerned with the environment. However, the prospect of going to school with flat hair (it was the 80's mind you) was worse than a global catastrophe. I had noticed before that if you tilted the can a certain way you could sometimes get one last spray out so I proceed to contort every way possible in an effort to get the perfect 'claw' bangs before heading out the door to no avail. Then, I had an idea. I said to myself, 'I'll bet if I aimed the hairspray at my open eye, I would get hairspray out on the first try.' That was a VERY painful way to prove my theory.

So, with that in mind, here is the plan for ensuring that the China adoption referral process will speed up:

STEP 1: Set aside no vacation time in 2007 for China travel or bonding/attachment once returning home. Last year, we declined an invitation to our annual block trip to Mexico. (Sounds so exotic when we are in fact only 60 miles from the border!) The trip was in October during the kids' Fall break. We didn't reserve a condo because we were SURE that we would either be in China or just returning from China with Meili. Boy did we feel like IDIOTS when October rolled around and we sat around staring at each other for a week. We have already contacted the condo owners to make a reservation for next year so the likelihood of October travel to China has already increased dramatically. For good measure we also filled in as many days on the vacation calendar as Matt has coming to him. Last year he left 2 weeks 'floating' just in case. Not this year. We are hatching a plan!!!

STEP 2: Let's talk finances. I am willing to bet my right arm, or maybe the left that if we spent every dime that we have squirreled away for the impending adoption expenses we would receive a referral so quickly that we would not be able to put the money back in time. This idea tempts me almost daily.

STEP 3: Don't buy anything for the baby-not one wipe!!! Don't compile a packing list. Don't even bother getting your travel vaccinations. The hep series takes 6 months so if you start the series, you are ensuring that your referral is at least 6 months away no matter what your LID is. Don't read any books on adoption, attachment or bonding. It seems to me that the wait seems to increase exponentially the more research I do. I'm still working out the kinks on the rest of my plan.

So, are you with me???

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

If This Wait Gets Me Started on Country Music...

I'm pulling my dossier!

Merry Christmas from Third Day

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are
But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow
But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
and we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his lifeand prepare a place for us
so we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll tell you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Funny Boy

Sometimes life is just funny. Today, Xander provided the entertainment. We were walking back home from the bus stop-just the two of us and I asked Xander if he could count to 10. I thought he could-just wanted to be sure. He said yes and proceeded. This is what came out of his mouth: "1.....2.....3.....YOU ARE GOING TO TIME OUT!!!" No idea whatsoever about where he got this. ;o)

Next, as part of our daily Mommy/Xander play time we got out the basketball hoop (Little Tykes indoor variety) and proceeded to burn some time. Xander scolded me when I made my first shot and said, "You forgot to 'getcha head in the game,' Mom. You gotta do this (dribbling) first!" For those of you who may not be familiar with it-he was alluding to High School Musical and the number where the basketball team is doing a choreographed dribbling routine to a song entitled, "Getcha Head in the Game." It was just too funny.

After a good hour in the play room, I excused myself to go switch over the laundry and came back to this. Xander had pooped out on the doggie bed (we only have stuffed ones that the kids love to play with) still dressed up as a pumpkin-another one of his daily rituals since Halloween. That's my boy!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Audrey's Choir Performance

So, yesterday Audrey had a Choir field trip. They left the school and sang for a retirement center, then stopped at the mall for lunch and a performance in the food court. I wasn't too keen on the idea of my 8 year-old daughter being let loose at the mall so Matt (who was off) and I met her there for lunch and caught her performance. The choir sounded great! Audrey, who is painfully shy had a little trouble facing forward as you can tell from the pic below:

I was trying to get a pic of Xander and got a little distracted by what wandered across in the background. ;o)
Ah, there she is facing forward...but you can tell that she wants to bury her head behind her cheat sheet!
Tonight is the performance at the school for parents. I wonder what I can bribe her with to get her to face the front...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Longer than a Pregnancy

Today marks 9 months since our Log In Date and there is not a baby in sight. For us, the official 'longer than a pregnancy' milestone was actually passed several weeks ago since our daughter came 10 days early and all three boys were exactly 3 weeks early.

This morning I said to Matt, "It's the 10th, do you know what that means?" To my surprise he said, "It's been 14 years since I proposed to you." It wasn't what I was thinking but sweet that he remembers. I tease him all of the time about how unromantic the whole thing was (He proposed to me in his mother's Hyundai Sonata in a movie theater parking lot after seeing Passenger 57) But romantic or not, all of the things in my life that I appreciate most can be traced back to that day with one big decision and one little word..."yes!"

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A New Tradition...

For the first 10 years of our marriage, we lived in Salt Lake City and enjoyed immensely the beautiful light display and nativity presentation each Christmas Eve at Temple Square. I'm not sure what was more beautiful-the light covered trees, or the ground lights glowing from beneath the snow... We have spent our last 3 Christmases in Cactus Country-this will be #4. We love living here but at Christmas time, we can't help but miss our Utah-white Christmases just a little.

Here in Tucson, our church puts on a live outdoor nativity. It is simply, yet beautifully done. The children especially enjoy the live animals. Last year we invited some neighbors to join us then return back to our home for dessert. Aside from losing our caravan on the way, we had a great time. This year, we did a similar thing but set up a firepit and made s'mores in the back yard before heading over. I think that the fact that it was the second year in a row that we did this and that we have such great neighbors made it feel like a very special new tradition that we hope to continue. And btw, it was 64 degrees last night and as I was sitting at the nativity in my flip-flops, I didn't miss the snow one bit...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Cards Have All Been Sent...

You gotta love C*ostco for the quick and easy photo cards! We are one of those families that sends out an annual Christmas letter. Before you read ours-a short disclaimer: The real reason that we do these is to preserve some memories from the year, a history of our family if you will. Yes, I know that at least half of the people we send this to could care less. However, for many of our friends and family, the Christmas card exchange might be our only chance to 'catch up' for the year. I try to keep it from turning into a brag-fest by keeping it light and sharing the good and the not so good that is our family. So without further ado:

Merry Christmas 2006!

Yep, here we go again...

Matt has been working steadily toward his MBA. How he functions on 3-4 hours of sleep continues to amaze the rest of us! We are all looking forward to the future when he will no longer be a student, and ONLY has to worry about his full time+ employment, church calling and parenting responsibility for 4 (or 5) children. The green grass that we were so excited about in our last letter has been allowed to hibernate for the winter so he can exchange yardwork time for family time. Matt has been fortunate this year to carpool to and from work with his mentor/boss, Brad, who spends the 1.5 hours a day working with Matt on his ‘development needs.’ Matt is relieved to know that these include planning racquetball games, U of A Football events and Father/Son trips to Magic Mountain.

For Jenn, the definition of the word, ‘busy’ redefines itself every year. Last year, we were the subjects of an adoption home study. This year, Jennifer is writing home studies for other families and enjoys discussing international adoption with willing ears. It is a big plus that most of the work can be done from home and the results are that children find families! After the humbling experience of taking a cd-burning lesson from then 10 year-old Taylor, Jenn has devoted some of 2006 to catching up on computer skills. The focus became maintaining a family journal/blog and creating photo slideshows. It is now so quick and easy that scrapbooking may take a back seat until the empty-nest years. In other news, it looks like the braces will be off by March!

We took parenthood to the next level this year...we now have a junior high student! After what Jenn witnessed as a Jr. High teacher, we were a bit nervous but Taylor is doing well-even earned straight A’s the first quarter. When he isn’t hitting the books, Taylor is working on scouting. He earned his Arrow of Light and most of the activity badges in Webelos and is now an 11 year-old scout. He is still addicted to video games but is an avid reader as well. One of the highlights for Taylor (and the rest of us!) this year was a trip to Yellowstone with best-friend Josh and his family.

Audrey turned 8 this year. That meant a baptism! Audrey still loves dance class. She takes ballet and hip hop. The latter is from a guy that could pass for a Backstreet Boy. We weren’t exactly sure what to think when she came home from class commenting on the smell of his hair gel with a dreamy look in her eyes. Lord, help us all! Audrey participates in Achievement Days (girls activity group) at church twice a month. In June, she chopped 7 inches off of her hair, something that she had been thinking about and mom and dad had been dreading for some time but she is still as cute as ever!

Noah played his first season of soccer last Summer. He cried through his first game, then had a great time for the rest of the season! He started 1/2 day Kindergarten this past Fall. When the bus comes to our stop, all of the kids shout, "Noah, sit by me! Noah, sit by me!" Apparently, he has made a few friends. It is so cute to see him recognize a friend at the grocery store. Like it or not, he is growing up! He has also learned to swim.(it’s not pretty but gets him across a pool),takes piano lessons with his older brother and sister, loves to read and play track ball in the street with Mom.

Xander is a child of imagination. He loves animals and lives out his existence as a different one each day although "Superdog" has made many appearances. One morning last Spring, he woke up insisting that he had no hair. When asked why, he said, "the police man took it to jail." No more cookies before bedtime for that boy! His speech is coming along quite well. However, if ‘S’ is combined with any other consonant, that blend becomes an ‘F’. When food is too hot, he is quick to tell us that it is, "too ficey!" Xander loves the sandbox. It doesn’t matter if it is 40 degrees or 114. He would play, sleep and take his meals in there if we would let him. He loves cars; his degree of happiness is directly proportionate to the number of them that he can carry at a time. He made a discovery about the complexities of brotherly love recently when he exclaimed to Noah, "I hate you!......and I love you!"

We were almost sure that we would have Meili home with us this Christmas but China has had other plans. The 6 month wait that we expected when we began the process back in September of 2005 has grown to 15 months and continues to stretch. If current trends hold, we will be fortunate to have her home for Christmas of 2007. Apparently, we still have a few more lessons in patience to learn. Don’t worry...if anything exciting happens between now and then, everyone in the free world will hear about it!

Wishing you all of the blessings of the season...Merry Christmas!
The Bouton Family
Matt, Jennifer, Taylor, Audrey, Noah & Xander

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's That Time of Year Again!

Frodo...I mean, Noah proud of his creation...

Audrey takes over the kitchen...

More proud of the flour she has from head to toe than the cookie she has made...

The Christmas lights are up. Most of the shopping is done. Christmas cards went out in the mail yesterday. (Whew!) It is time to bake! I had high hopes of losing some more weight over the holidays but it is just too much fun to make a mess with the kids and eat half of the dough before it ever hits the oven!

Monday, December 04, 2006

At Least We Are in the Lineup...

In our monthly email from our Agency, it looks like we are still in review. It will be very exciting to see the official CCAA website change to say that we are out of review and have passed inspection. This could happen any day now. Even though the wait still looks depressing from where we stand, I noticed today that there are far more LIDs behind us than there are ahead of us. I actually counted and there are 21 LIDs in line ahead of us and 41 LIDs behind us. So, it could be worse I guess. My WAG -if you don't know what that stands for, I'm not going to tell you ;o)-is that the wait will get worse before it gets better. I really think that we won't benefit from the 'better' but those who are further behind us in line will see things pick up one day and have their babies home much sooner than they think. However, for us I see a record-breaking wait. ..but that's just according to my own crystal ball.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Another 14 LID Days Down...

and six months of LIDs more to go. At this rate, it will be another year yet before we see Meili's face and if that is the case, she probably hasn't been born yet. Ugh.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Secret Pal Thanks!!!!

We came home from our trip to CA Sunday night and found a package waiting on our doorstep. My secret (to you, not me) pal left for a big trip recently, so I wasn't expecting a package. I'm feeling pretty special that she made the time to mail a package to me in the middle of her travel preparations! She sent a wonderful gift-a drum filled with a multitude of bug-inspired musical instruments. And yes, there's a ladybug in there! If Meili is anything like her brothers and sister, things that make noise will be a huge hit!!! Thanks again, secret pal. Your kindness and generosity each month help smooth the bumps in the adoption road!

PS-Can't wait to hear all about your trip!!!

Four Heads-Then and Now



Next year, hopefully a fifth head in the lineup!

Family Photo Shoot in the Park...

In the Greens, we have our brood.

In the Blues, we have Matt's sister and her family.

Matt's brother and family in the Browns.

The two that started it all...

and the whole crew-18!

Friday, November 24, 2006

More Lion King Pics

Matt and the Drama Queen
Grandma has her eyes shut in many of her pictures. Sadly, I have inherited this gene...
Taylor, forcing a smile.
My Dad and Mom

Nants ingonyama Bagithi baba

According to my research, that's the first line of 'Circle of Life' in the Lion King. Still not sure how to say it and still convinced that the line ends with "Konichiwa" but, anyway....

We missed Lion King when it came to Tucson (read-We could have gotten tickets but they would have been $150 a piece by the time we got around to looking into buying them...) but were able to get 16 tickets in LA (for about the price of 2 in Tucson!) We had a blast going to the play with almost Jenn's entire family. We were only missing Jason and Co. and a couple of babies. Dad was behind the camera and Jeff refused to be photographed as usual.
The Pantages is a beautiful, old and ornately designed theatre located in Hollywood. There are Walk of Fame stars on both sides of this street. There wasn't a bad seat in the house!

Here's Brice (BIL), Julie (sister-but not his wife), Taylor, Noah and Matt waiting to be seated.
Ha! Gotcha Jeff!
Noah-up WAY past his bedtime but happy as a clam. (The play started at 8pm LA time which would be 9pm in Noah's brain.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Is this the best Thanksgiving pic or what? Just love W's face in this!!! We are heading out to California for some fun with both of our families-too much good food on Thursday, too much shopping and tickets to The Lion King on Friday, Park,Picnic and Family Photos on Saturday and back home on Sunday. It will be another quick trip but we are looking forward to seeing our families again. I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday with all of the people that you are most thankful for! Referrals next week???

Friday, November 10, 2006

Behind the 8 Ball...

8 months since LID and counting! I actually started to write a post about being 9 months since LID. It was quite depressing to realize that although it seems like we have been waiting our entire lives for Meili, it has only in fact been 8 months since we hopped in line for this crazy roller coaster ride. Even though each month we are seeing that our referral is only getting farther away, I'm holding out hope that we will see increases of astronomical proportions in the number of referrals that come out after the first of the year. It's about time for some good news!

One Tired Post-Op Puppy

Our little juice fiend had to be put out this morning to have two cavities filled. (There goes my Mother of the Year award.) My husband and I took him into the dentist's office and they gave him a shot in his arm. I don't have any experience with drug use but this event has sealed the deal that I will never have an interest in it. My poor little guy went loopy then fell asleep WITH HIS EYES OPEN. To see my whirling durbish (sp?) catatonic like that creeped me out-I had to leave the room. What was really scary is that he didn't wake up until about 5 hours after we had brought him home, then he was staggering like a drunk for another hour or so. Thankfully, by dinnertime, he was back to about normal and driving us nuts like his usual self.