Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy 12th Birthday, T-Bone!!!

We had quite an evening celebrating our oldest child's 12th birthday. His favorite food is salad (go figure?) so he picked Sweet Tomatoes (salad bar/buffet place) for dinner. This kid just can't get enough of the green stuff!
Next we headed over for some miniature golf. There were 7 of us so it was the slowest game of our lives. The 100+ degree temps AFTER the sun went down didn't help either but we had fun. Next time we'll skip a few holes so we can end before Xander has a meltdown...
With the holidays coming up, I've been thinking about the logistics of our next professional family photo. Looking at the kids antics in this one has me a bit nervous...
The track near us just got new go carts-we had a blast!
We wrapped things up by unwrapping some presents! Taylor recieved many wonderful gifts including a digital camera. He used his birthday money to purchase a compound bow-still not sure how I feel about that...
If you thought the birthday dinner salad was weird, check this out. Taylor can pass on cake but LOVES pumpkin pie so this has been his traditional birthday treat for the past several years. When he came home from school today and saw the pie on the counter, he gave me a huge hug. So, is that all it takes???Happy Birthday, T!!! We love you and are so proud to be your parents!!!

Big Day

First of all, a HUGE thank you to so many of you who left comments and sent emails checking on us after the 'canoe incident.' It really means a lot. Thankfully, everyone is doing well and canoe jokes are even starting to emerge in the household. That must be a good sign...

Today is T's 12th birthday! It sounds cliche, but it really does only seem like yesterday that we held him for the first time. I remember that I had worked a full shift at 'The Siz' and then headed over to the ob for a regular visit. I was only at 36 weeks. They found that my blood pressure was through the roof and other tests pointed to preeclampsia/toxemia. I was admitted to the hospital and Taylor was born that night, just a few hours before the school cutoff date. Now, he proudly boasts that he is the youngest person in his grade and it is probably true. It's still to old for me-next year is really going to be rough! We are already seeing signs of the whole hormonal roller coaster ride that we are in for. We had better buckle up and hold on tight because A is not far behind! It's a good thing that he is an otherwise amazing kid and we love him so much! Matt's mom is in town to celebrate the big day. I'll post a recap tomorrow of the festivities.

It is T's birthday but I received quite a gift! Look what is DONE!!! I told Betty (quilter extraordinaire) that I might be by with my MIL to 'visit' the quilt on Friday but made sure that she knew that she was under no pressure whatsoever to have it done by then. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was able to take it home with me today! I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out! Now, all we need is our Meili!!!

You are probably all very familiar with the front by now so here is a peek at the back. I couldn't resist the ladybug flannel when I came across it at the fabric store. I don't have a good picture of it but I love the way the red ladybug stitching looks running through it. I hunted high and low for a scrapbook to use for the wishes. I would have settled for something red but when I saw this, I just had to have it! I know that there will probably come a day very soon when I won't care if I see a ladybug ever again but for now, I'm going with it!

Here's a closeup of the tag... I realize that we won't have Meili home or even have her referral in 2007 but I thought the tag should personalize the quilt and document when it was completed.

I'm still slowly putting our own family's wishes together. Here's mine. You should be able to double click on the picture to enlarge it if you want to read it. I can't wait to put the final touch on the scrapbook-a picture of the quilt with Meili sitting on it! If the latest rumors are true, it could be much sooner than we thought. I can't wait to see what Tuesday brings!!!

My 1st Grader

My little guy has been back to school for a few weeks now and is doing great with his full-day schedule. This week, he was 'interviewed' in his class and got to bring Kingsley the frog home to share the news.

Once he's home and once he's had his snack, this is usually how we find him-chillin' out in front of the tv- but only until I pull out the homework whip!

Audrey snapped this picture. He's such a good big brother!
If N gets through a whole week without flipping a behavior card, he comes home on Friday with a green nose. Cute idea...he gets lots of attention for his good behavior when everyone asks him about his nose on the way home. That's my boy!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Canoe For Sale

Everyone is now home and safe but we've had the worst night of our lives...

Yesterday morning, Matt & Taylor along with Matt's friend, David, and his two children (Rachel and Nathan) left for what was supposed to be a 1/2 day canoe trip. They did everything right and just about everything went wrong. They researched the river on the internet, checked the water flow levels and the ratings of the rapids. They met and looked over a map a few days before they left. I photocopied the map and had them mark where they intended to start and where they intended to end. The plan was: They would drive up to the the Gila River with two cars and an extra driver, leave a small car at the end point, drive everyone and the gear up to the start point. Extra driver would take the large car to the end point, trade it out with the small car and drive the small car home. So, all they had to do was canoe down the river, find their car and get themselves home. They packed lots of water and food and were prepared to stay out over night but their last words when they left were that they promised to have Rachel back by 8 for a church dance and Matt had said that he planned to be back for dinner. They had left home at 6 am and the river was only an hour away.

At 7pm, I called Becky (David's wife) and asked her what time she thought we should start to worry. She had been worried and calling the cells every 1/2 hour since 2:30 and they were going straight to voicemail. The 2 canoes and a kayak had been strapped to a trailer and they were pulling them behind a Suburban. On their quest to find the river's edge, they took the Suburban down an embankment. When the Suburban leveled out, one of the canoes shattered the rear window. Since Becky's son, Andrew, was the extra driver that had dropped them off (and was now home), we knew where and at what time they had actually 'put in'-10:30 am- and we knew exactly where the car was parked. We started to theorize that perhaps they had overshot their mark and missed the car or maybe they had made it to where the car was and it had been stolen (since the rear window was out) and they were out of cell range. Maybe they lost keys in the river or the car wouldn't start? We decided that we would start to gather gear and head out by 8 if we hadn't heard anything to see if we could find them. Our godsend neighbor, Torrey, came over and stayed with the kids and we headed out.

When we got there at about 10pm we found the Suburban and no sign of our families. We followed a light a little way down the river's edge and found a guy fishing. He had been there since early in the day and hadn't seen our husbands and children nor anyone or anything come down the river. We left a note in the car basically saying, "We are here and we're going to go call for help" at 10:17. We had no cell service and knew we would have to back track about 20 minutes down the road to get it.

It is hard to describe what goes through your mind at a time like this. I am still emotionally exhausted as I type this just from trying frantically throughout the night to put the clues together to try to figure out what may have gone wrong and where they could be. You also try to think about the positives: They are scouts-they were prepared! The weather stayed in the high seventies overnight so were weren't worried about hypothermia, etc. They are able bodied. Matt has the strength of an ox when he needs it and they wouldn't take any unnecessary risks, especially with the children. David is an engineer, can fix anything and is a good problem-solver. We knew that they would all have on life vests and they said that if they encountered rapids that were too treacherous, that they would get out and carry the canoes around them if possible. We also wondered if they were camped by choice along the banks of the river somewhere, having the time of their lives and would be angry at us when they learned that we had called the authorities. Still, after taking an inventory of the assets of the situation, it was hard to comprehend why they hadn't been able to get to the car or to a telephone. Something had to be wrong.

I worried that either a)someone was injured and they couldn't get to help b)they had lost a canoe and were stranded somewhere c)they had lost their gear and couldn't proceed or d) When we learned that the most problematic rapids were squeezed in between two sheer cliffs, I thought that they may have tried to hike around them and were lost. I worried that if they took as much water as they could carry that it wouldn't be enough if they weren't found by early morning. We are still having weather in the triple digits here.

We found a Quicky Mart and called the authorities only to find when they arrived that we had crossed a county line the call was out of their jurisdiction. They had us follow them to their station where they connected us to Gila County dispatch. We knew we were in a small town when walking into the police station felt like walking into an episode of 'The Dukes of Hazard.' I expected Boss Hogg to come around a corner at any minute...

They took down information, descriptions, etc. and told us to drive down the road and wait for a sargeant to meet us at a particular location while they assembled a search and rescue team. We waited there for what seemed like forever with no cell service. I hadn't used the OnStar in my car for over a year but was able to contact an operator and purchase some phone minutes. We were able to contact the dispatcher with the car phone and learned that the sargeant was still about 45 minutes away. We drove around while we waited and checked out the campfires that we saw from the road. None of them belonged to our husbands and kids.

Several Sheriffs finally arrived and had us lead them down to where the Suburban was parked. They woke up the fisherman that we had spoken to earlier to verify when he had been their and that he hadn't seen them. Eventually we heard the search helicopter overhead. At 2:30 am, with no sign of them, the search was called off until morning. That is when I lost it.

We waited wide eyed until daylight. Finally, at about 6 am, we heard the rescue helicopter overhead again and heard over the Sheriff's radio that they had been found! They had two canoes but were missing the kayak. The helicopter went to land downstream and check on them. They were ok but exhausted and out of water. The S & R guy gave them some gatorade and told them that they were about an hour's worth of calm paddling from their target. They offered to take the kids in the chopper but Taylor decided to finish it out with his dad.

When they finally paddled into shore, I didn't know whether to kiss Matt or kill him but when I saw his face, I knew that he had been through hell. We would soon learn that they had run into bad rapids all along the river and dumped the canoes more times that they could count. The aluminum canoe had a hole in the bottom and our plastic canoe had a bowling-ball sized dent in the front of it from hitting rocks. The kayak had to be ditched. Each time they flipped the canoe, they lost their gear and had to retrieve what they could once they got going again. The cell phones, flashlights and matches were wet and useless. They lost most of their food and water and were pretty banged and scratched up from the rocks. They were physically spent from having to dead lift the canoes around the rapids and empty them of water repeatedly after they flipped, not to mention all of the paddling. Matt would later tell us that he feared for his life and Taylor's several times. They saw the helicopter during the night and tried to get its attention when the searchlights passed over them. Matt says that they would have gladly stepped into the helicopter had it found them because they were soaking wet and cold most of the night. He also said that it did help knowing that someone was looking for them.

I can't even begin to tell you what a relief it is to have everyone home and safe. Matt's legs are a mess and his ankles will have to be bandaged for a while but it could have been so much worse. It freaks me out to think that Audrey was supposed to go on this trip but decided to accept an invitation to a High School Musical 2 sleepover instead. Matt feels strongly that this decision probably saved her life because there were situations where he wouldn't have been able to manage more than one child in the current.

We are counting our blessings tonight. I'd better get upstairs and tuck 4 of them into bed...

Anybody want a canoe???

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Scroll down and turn off Rob Thomas before hitting the play button here...

Perfect Gotcha Day Song...

Friday, August 10, 2007

17 Months LID

Well, today marks 17 months since our file was logged in at the CCAA. I thought this picture was appropriate-we're at 17 months staring down a long line of months ahead of us not quite sure where the line ends. says that we could see a referral as soon as May 08, 2008. That's 9 months away-a normal pregnancy. That might actually be bearable.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's Back...

and it's so close to being DONE!!! I love the ladybug stitching. I have never seen it done this way before but I love the way it turned out. The long-arm stitch lady did a great job and she said to tell Betty that she did a great job on the top-it was perfectly flat and square which made her job easy. (She showed me a different quilt that was up on her machine that was not square or flat and it was puckering up all over the place.) Now, I just wait for the embroidery lady to finish the tag for the back of the quilt and deliver it and the quilt to Betty for the final binding! This project has given me renewed hope for the adoption. The task seemed insurmountable as so many pieces had to fall into place-but they did. And all of the things that have to fall into place to complete our adoption will and Meili will come home... Enjoy the pics.

An Eerie Silence...

7:15 am and all is quiet. Why??? Because 3 kids are off to school and the remaining kiddo is still asleep! After all of the fun we've had together this summer, this is going to take some getting used to. Last night, I started to check the movie schedule before I realized that it was a school night!

Taylor is off to 7th grade! When I taught 7th grade several years ago, I couldn't imagine having a child that age. Now, here we are! Notice that I had to take the picture inside so nobody in the neighborhood would get the crazy idea that he has a mother that loves him...

Audrey is off to 4th grade but looks like she could pass for a 7th grader-She is taller and weighs a bit more than her brother! She is a bit nervous about having a male teacher this year for the first time but I'm sure he'll be great and she will do fine.
Then there's my little Noah. He's off to first grade and will be gone for the whole day for the first time this year. It was really more difficult to send him off today than it was to send him off for his first day of Kindergarten. After he met his teacher last Saturday at the 1st grade treasure hunt, he exclaimed, "Mom, my teacher is from the old west!!!" She has a really thick Texas (?) accent.

And they're off!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hot Off the Press

Allows One-Time Extension of Approved Application WASHINGTON -

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on July 30, 2007 implemented several changes benefiting prospective adoptive parents who experience delays finalizing their adoptions. USCIS now permits prospective adoptive parents to receive one no-charge extension of the approved Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (Form I-600A) if they have not already submitted a petition (Form I-600) to classify an orphan as an immediate relative. This extension is valid regardless of the number of children the prospective parents are authorized to adopt. Prospective adoptive parents must make the request in writing and USCIS must receive the request no earlier than 90 days before the expiration of the Form I-600A approval, but before the approval expires. In addition, requests must include an updated or amended home study. USCIS does not charge a fee for the home study, however, the home study provider may charge for preparing an update. Further, prospective adoptive parents who have an approved Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (Form I-600A) on file with USCIS may now request a one-time, re-fingerprinting without charge. Since the original fingerprints are valid for 15 months, and the approved Form I-600A is valid for 18 months, the free re-fingerprinting is valid for an additional 15 months and will cover the three month gap, aligning with the timeframe of an extension of the I-600A. Prospective adoptive parent(s) may also make one request for a change of country notification without charge. The written request must include all supporting evidence to substantiate the change of country request. Prospective adoptive parent(s) should not use the Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition, (Form I-824) to request this one free change of country request. For a second or subsequent change of country request, however, prospective adoptive parents must file the Form I-824, with the appropriate fee. USCIS made these changes because the processing of orphan petitions often may take longer than the current valid approval period. In addition, adjudicating applications to adopt foreign-born children involves some of the most complex decision-making within immigration services. These modifications will help families to continue the adoption process without occurring additional expense.Additional information on intercountry adoptions is available on the USCIS web site:

Update: I've removed the ranting posts. It seems that our situation may have mysteriously resolved itself. ;o)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Extreme Makeover

Remember this little number from last week? (scroll down for the story if you missed it)

Now that's what I'm talking about! Little Noah came home from church today (I stayed home sick) and exclaimed, "Mom!, people at church told me that I looked sharp!!! Yes, you did little guy. And don't ever let your father dress you again.

I've Been Tagged-twice!

OK, I've been tagged by Jennifer and Heather for two separate exercises. I've procrastinated too long but here it goes:

5 Things I was doing 10 years ago

1. Starting the last year of my BA.
2. I was pregnant and morning sick with Audrey (#2).
3. Waiting tables at Sizzler.
4. Managing the apartment building that we lived in and supervising the management of 3 others plus a condo.
5. Not appreciating enough how fortunate I was to be able to do all of the above simultaneously while maintaining sanity. I sure couldn't do it today...

5 Favorite Snack Foods

1. Almond Snickers
2. Kettle Corn
3. Veggies and Ranch Dip
4. Apples dipped in peanut butter
5. Real Coke with 'rabbit poop' ice

5 Songs I Know All the Words To

1. Sad to say, ANYTHING by Michael Jackson
2. Like a Boy by Ciara (was the last song we used in hip hop class so I've heard it 100 times!)
3. High School Musical (We've got an obsessed 9 year old girl in the house)
4. Lots of primary songs from church (The words come easier than hitting the notes, however.)
5. If I Had a Million Dollars by Barenaked Ladies (I've just invited the 'pervs' to my blog)

5 Things I would do with $1,000,000

1. Buy homes for our parents.
2. Pay off our home. (The $ is now gone. Do I have to do #3-#5?)
3. Go to China and pay a PI to find out what the referral hold up is really about.
4. Hire a maid.
5. Adopt more children.

5 Bad Habits

1. Overeating
2. Nagging my husband
3. Setting unreasonable expectations for myself and then beating myself up for not meeting them.
4. Going to bed without taking off my makeup.
5. Spending too much time blogging.

5 Things I Like To Do

1. EAT!!!
2. Take bubble baths
3. Race go-carts
4. Bake with my kids
5. Spend time with my family.

5 Things I Would Never Wear Again

1. stretch pants
2. Michael Jackson LA Gears (but I still have a pair in the closet in case I change my mind.)
3. double socks-I'm a flip-flop girl now
4. Blue eyeshadow
5. Braces (twice was plenty for me!)

8 Things You May Not Know About Me

1-I skipped Kindergarten, skipped 2nd grade (was in a 2/3 combo class and did all the 3rd grade work) and did 3rd grade twice (The next year I was actually a 3rd grader and did all the same stuff, same books, etc. It sucked.)
2-I'm as white as can be but I had a weave (ala Milli Vanilli) and wore Cross Colors as a teenager.
3-If I eat with my hands, I only use 4 fingers.
4-I love real Coke but gag on Pepsi.
5-My feet are always cold. When I went to a play on Broadway last month, I wore cute strappy heels but took a pair of socks in my purse to wear when the lights went out just in case.
6-I'm trying to figure out a way to go back to school for a Master's degree.
7-If I can do #6, I'm really bummed that I'll have to drop my hip hop class.
8-I refuse to sit in front of my computer for another minute trying to come up with another one!

I tag anyone who wants to play. Leave a comment and let me know that you have tagged yourself!

Bowling With Grandma

Grandma came to town for the weekend and we had a great time with her. She loves to shop so it was a good time to have her out for a visit with all the back to school shopping we had to do. Grandma also loves to bowl so we made our traditional trip to the bowling alley.

Bowling shoes are hideous but on Xander's little boy size 9 feet, they are almost cute-
It took about 5 and a half minutes for Xander's ball to hit the pins each time he bowled so most of the time, this was the view from behind him.
Noah had quite the form but with bumpers anything goes!

Audrey's almost got it down.
Taylor fakes a smile for the camera.
Grandma hurls the ball.

and almost gets a strike!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Happy Day

Referral time is usually an exciting time but this month is different. Someone we actually know received their referral today and for some reason makes the process seem a little more real for us. Head over to Dana's blog and congratulate them on their new cutie! (Hint: If you double click on the picture you'll get a better view but you might have to scroll to the right to find it like I did.) Dana and I 'met' online probably about a year ago when she noticed that we were both naming our daughter 'Meili' and had some other things in common. We don't live too far from each other and have since been able to get together several times as part of the Desert Dwellers crew. Knowing that Dana and co. were in the middle of a move and disconnected from the computer, I gave her a call on her cell Thursday morning to let her know that referral calls were being made. That was a fun call to make!

In other Meili news, Lisa and Jon (also a Desert Dwelling family naming their daughter MeiLi) leave for China today to pick up their beautiful daughter. Can't wait to meet her!

So, if you have been doing the math... Out of the 7(?) of us in the Desert Dwellers crew, 3 are naming our daughters Meili and 2 out of the 3 will be home very soon. Once everyone is home and heads have stopped spinning, I can't wait to get together and hear all the details and learn from these families' experiences. Fun, fun stuff.