Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bullets are all I have time for....

  • Rumor Queen has some info that leads her to believe that we may see a 6-10 day batch in December. Holy crap I need this to be true. I'm at the end of my rope.
  • We went to see Twilight this weekend. Twice. Matt and I previewed it on Friday and I took Taylor to see it on Saturday. It was never going to be as good as the book but it was alright. The most entertaining part was seeing the teenage girls all dressed up and twitterpated over Edward. I'm more of a Jacob girl myself. He reminds me of Matt a bit-minus the whole werewolf thing.
  • We took our Suburban in to the mechanic last week. We suspected transmission trouble. They checked out the fluid and ran a diagnostic and told us we just needed to reset the computer codes and flush the trans fluid which we did-well he did anyway. We left the mechanic grateful to only be $350 lighter but on the ride home it was apparent that the transmission was still not 100%. The next day, the mechanic called and said that when they emptied their reservoir, they noticed there was some metallic material in the fluid afterall. Crap. We got teased. It's going to be $3000 to replace the transmission and that doesn't include labor. I think it's a conspiracy to keep me from getting my camera. Guess what I'm getting for Christmas this year instead... Bah Humbug.
  • I have officially weaned myself from C*stco. I didn't think it could be done! I don't even miss the hotdogs! I took the $ I'd usually spend there on our monthly trip and used it to stock up on grocery store sales/coupon deals instead. We spent the same amount of money on groceries this month as we usually do but the difference is that instead of having an empty pantry and fridge at the end of the month, we are bursting at the seams. Stupid thing to be excited about but thought I'd share anyway. I'm going to try to see if I can stay out of the grocery store until December 5th. I'm not sure how that's going to go. I'm usually there every third day or so for something.
  • I need to go get Xander ready for preschool. Let's hope I do better at getting him ready than I did yesterday. I had started a bath for him then had a phone call come in. Do you see where this is going? Yep, water overflowed everywhere. I'm still washing the towels...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Counting Down

  • The crazy people are going to see this movie tonight at midnight. We have our tickets for tomorrow's 1pm showing and that's crazy enough for us. Matt has the day off and we have made arrangements for Xander to go to a friends house. I've read the first three of the series of books and am almost done with number four-and I just started about a week and a half ago! Part of me feels guilty that my usual non-fiction reading material has been replaced by 'vampire smut' but it is just SO good!
  • I've made a little progress on 'the list.' This week I bought a lock for the Great Wall. I'm waiting until after referral to have it engraved. Also, I sent a check off to USCIS for refingerprinting only to have it returned with a notice that our local office no longer accepts personal checks (as of about 3 weeks ago.) So I had to go get a money order and resend everything. I also decided on the camera that we should buy and was fairly close to buying it. However, it looks like the transmission may be going out on the Suburban so I'm waiting to see just how poor we are going to be when all is said and done.
  • I've been busy with work lately and hence neglecting my blog. The director at the agency that I work for is in Kyrgyzstan checking on the program there. Guess who is running the office while she is away???
  • I'm really hoping for some good news in the referral department this month. You would think that after 3+ years of let downs that I would know better but apparently not. 21 LIDs ahead of us-I'm hoping to reduce that number by at least 7. More would be fine with me as well.
  • Noah can roller skate! The poor little guy put skates on for the first time a few weeks ago when I took the kids to the skating rink. It was pitiful but Noah was determined to learn. I think he's practiced everyday since up and down the sidewalk and just yesterday he had a breakthrough and now skates like a pro. I'll try to get a video of him and practice posting a video to the blog. Another China prep skill!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Money and Melamine

Anyone that knows me knows that I love to save a buck. That's why I'm so sick about the speeding ticket I got on Saturday. $135 fine or $190 for traffic school. Ugh! Do you know how many coupons I'm going to have to clip to make up for this?! I was going 60 in a 45. I honestly had no idea. I was driving the Suburban for the first time in a while. I've been driving Matt's Neon to save $ for the last week or so (surprise, surprise.) My guess is that I had grown unaccustomed to the V8 and smooth ride and underestimated my speed. So, I'm adding DRIVING THE SPEED LIMIT to my list of 'Things I Do to Save a Buck.'

I may be a bit delayed in this but is anyone else freaking out about the Melamine issue in China? My agency sent out an email shortly after the news first broke assuring us that they had checked with each of the handful of orphanages where the children referred to their agency usually come from and assured us that none of them were using the affected formulas. If I remember correctly, I think the email said that the affected formulas were very expensive and thus not likely to be used by the orphanages. Fast forward to last week and blog buddy Erin is in China and finds out that two of her travel mates children have just been diagnosed with kidney stones. This means that her daughter has likely had the tainted formula and since she is with the same agency that we are, we can't be all that sure that Meili has not been exposed to it too. I can't imagine what kind of sicko would put poison in babies' primary food source. I hope that they get what is coming them and that the children affected get the help that they need and are on the mend very soon.

In other China adoption news, I just put a check in the mail to USCIS for fingerprinting renewal. Ouch. I guess I should put the fine for my speeding ticket in the mail along with it. Double ouch.

Monday, November 10, 2008

32 Months and 'The List'

Today marks 32 months since our paperwork was logged in in China. Until the last batch of referrals came out last week (a whopping 2 days worth...) I had been expecting a referral in February. Once again I'm having to realign my expectations with reality. Humor me for a little exercise-there are 21 LIDs ahead of us at this point so if CCAA can manage an average of:

6 days per month = March referral
5 days per month = April referral
4 days per month = May referral
3 days per month = June referral

A six day average is about as much as I can hope for and less than a 3 day average is too depressing to think about. It feels like we are splitting hairs here but the truth is that now that we are closer to referral, every day that CCAA can eek out each month is of enormous consequence to us. It's hard to believe that with only 21 LIDs to go, I still need to make a chart to figure out the range of possiblities for a referral...

Regardless, we're plugging along and preparing for a new baby. So, here's my list of things we still need to do to prepare for Meili. After three years of prep, I didn't think there was still this much to worry about but the list is quite long anyway and I'm sure I'll be adding to it.

The List
(Updated 12/10)

Electronics (aka Matt's job):
-Buy a lap top Done!
-Buy a new camera (I have my eye on this one but would settle for a new point and shoot)
-Buy a video camera Done!
-Learn how to use the above
-Get extra SD cards Done!
-Look into Skype Need to get a webcam.

-renew fingerprints Sent request-no appt. yet.
-Send off I-171H renewal request (December 12-packet ready to go)
-renew home study (if we aren't going to be back from China by June or if we plan to readopt/finalize when we get home) If we don't have a referral by March, we'll start on it then.
-Request that our agency send our referral packet to us via UPS, not Matt's mortal enemy (Fed Ex) They want a pre-paid envelope ahead of time.
-Agree on a protocol if Matt is at work and the kids are at school when the call comes. I need to have Matt in the room with me when the call comes. I want to see his reaction, plus I may not be able to function well enough to receive the call once it finally comes and may need his help. Our agency will send out a 'Stork Has Landed' email and then proceed to make calls. We are going to email right back and request that they not call us until the time we think that we can get in the same room together. Matt might come home or I might drive to his office depending on the time of day and his work load. If the kids are home, great. If not, we'll clue them in later. That way I can focus on their reactions and not be writing, etc when they get the news. I know this sounds OCD but after waiting so long for this, I plan to savor every moment when it finally happens!
For Referral Day:
-Charge phone, cell phone, camera and video camera
-Hopefully, have a person to man the camera and video camera when the call comes in.
-Prep a blog post
-Update email addresses and prep an email announcement-Have Diet Coke, Chocolate in mass quantities, 'The Call' sheet, flower/ladybug pens and Kleenex handy.
-Gather links for Orphanage yahoo groups, Name translation sites, Chinese growth charts, map of China etc.
-Print yard sign (oh yes we are)
-Order a photo necklace kit (not sure if I want a square or rectangle but I'll know when I see the referral pics)

For Care Package:
-blanket Done!
-stuffed animal/blanket thing Done!
-2 disposable cameras with instructions I have one camera.
-Photo album (bought) with pics each family member with Meili's pic and labels in Chinese
-SafTPops for orphanage children
-Jelly Bellys for nannys
-save a shoe box

Shopping Necessities:
-baby shampoo, wash, powder, and lotion Done!
-diapers, wipes, diaper rash ointment I'm going to start buying a pkg of diapers every couple of trips to the store.
-bibs, formula, rice cereal, baby food and baby snacks Looking for some cute bibs...
-outfits, pj's and onesies to round out her wardrobe
(Once we know her age, size and the season that she will be home)
-baby bathtub (will wait until after we're home-she may be ready for a seat)
-stroller (will also wait until we are home-we may just buy one in China)
-pack n' play (can wait)
-bouncer (also can wait)
-small cd player for Meili's room In progress.
-Make some bows (if she has hair...) Having a bow-making party in January with my China adoption friends. I've been collecting ribbon.

Shopping Frivolities:
-The remainder of the China/adoption children's books on my Amazon wishlist
-Mei Tai Baby Carrier (espresso straps with 'carnival bloom' fabric on the front)
-Kozy Pal cart cover. After surviving the better part of a year in an orphanage in a third world county, I'm not too worried about exposing Meili to germs. But after 4 kids I've never had one and I think they look cool! They also have this in the same 'carnival bloom' pattern as the mei tai.
-Asian brocade Petunia Picklebottom diaper bag (as soon as the money tree sprouts in the back yard...or I can win a bid on ebay) Lost a bid on ebay two days ago-but I've found a way to get a new one for $100 instead of $172. I'm after the Sunset Dragon Boxy Backpack.

For Travel:
-Finalize packing list (and pack!) Luggage is purchased. The packing list spreadsheet has been made and many things are already packed.
-Decide if Taylor and Audrey are going to China They probably are. They would handle the trip well and would be very helpful. Taylor could handle all of the electronics-take photos and video, upload to the laptop, update the blog and keep everything charged. I know that Audrey would be so good with Meili and help ease her transition. We play with the idea of leaving them home to have the two-on-one time with Meili and to save a few bucks but we're coming home from China up to our eyeballs in debt anyway so it's not going to make much difference.
-Make arrangements for kiddos All of our family lives in So. Cal. We'll probably drive to LA and leave the kiddos with family there, then fly out of LAX. The trick will be driving back home (7.5 hrs) with a baby who has never been in a carseat before and two jet-lagged parents. Maybe my parents can drive our car (and kids) back and we'll get them a couple of plane tickets home? The more I think about it, the more I think I want to come directly home to my own bed. It would also be less transition for Meili to deal with.
-Make arrangements for dog and bird A friend has recommended another friend who is a trainer and does in-home boarding.
-get cash in new or like new condition from bank
-have a lock engraved with our name and date for the Great Wall We've got the lock-not sure what to engrave on it.
-Get last round of vaccinations Might go Thursday night.
-Finish Quilts (We are making one handmade quilt for each month of the wait to donate to Meili's orphanage) Maybe during the Christmas break...
-Finish OHGW Quilt scrapbook (If it's not done before we travel, it may never get done)
-set up crib before we leave
-put car seat in the car
-Make appt. with pediatrician for when we return
-add Meili to our insurance
-make ahead and freeze some dinners

Gifts for Officials/Nannys:
-Stuff from our state Done!
-Buttons, keychains and small autographed prints by Azuzephre (Jenn's brother) Done!
-Lotion from Bath and Body Works 4 for $10 sale last week-Done!
-Jelly Bellys-I've been pricing them. There is a cute tin that is shaped like a jelly bean that has the american flag on the bottom. I think we'll go with those. I'm curious how long they are good for because I may be able to find them on sale after the holidays...
-red bags and tissue Done!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Countdown Has Begun!

Only 23 days until Black Friday!!! This is a shopping day that even Matt can get excited about! We are really simplifying Christmas this year in preparation for our China trip but still plan to get out and do some shopping the morning after Thanksgiving. Afterall, it would be un-American not to. Click here to see the latest leaked Black Friday ads and feel free to spread the joy. Here's a tip: If you don't want to fight the crowds (which is really half of the fun anyway), you can usually find many of the sale items at the larger stores online at midnight the night before and many times there will be free shipping. Happy shopping!

Catching Up

  • We've been busy as can be around here over the last couple of weeks. Surprisingly, nothing has occurred that is particularly blogworthy-hence the lack of posts.
  • Two weekends ago, we had our annual children's program at church. Since I'm the president of that organization, you can imagine why I'm relieved to have it behind us. My children (all 40+ of them) did great, though, and I'm so proud of them.
  • On the adoption front, here we sit on the 5th of the month and still have no concrete news as to what the CCAA will have to offer this month. Early rumors of a 5 day batch were depressing. Now the latest rumors of a possible 2 day batch make the original rumor seem like an early Christmas present. Funny how that works.
  • I am famous for being a list maker. I've been working on a list of things that need to be done before we go to China and most of them can and should be done before we get our referral. I may share the list in the next post in case my paper list should mysteriously disappear. I'm disappointed and relieved at the same time to find that the shopping portion of the list is rather small.
  • So, the election is finally over. My guy didn't win but I voted so I have earned the right to complain about it for the next 4 years.
  • I actually have hobbies and interests that don't involve adoption. Shocker, I know. Soon my sidebar will reflect my addiction to bargain hunting, food storage and playing the coupon game with groceries. This, coming from the girl that would wait in the car with the seat reclined to avoid being seen at Target as a teenager.
  • The weather here is finally down in the 70s during the day with overnight lows in the 40s. During the summers here, you feel as if you will never be cool again. I'm glad we do get the nice crisp weather, if only for a few weeks. It makes me start to crave turkey and pie!
  • Last weekend as I was opening the blinds in the boys' room early in the morning, I noticed a creature in the wash that borders the east side of our home. At first I thought it was a dog, then thought it looked more like a cat. Then I realized that it was a cat that was the size of a dog-a Bobcat! We pulled chairs over to the window and watched it hunt quail for a few minutes. It was better than the discovery channel. Xander still talks excitedly about the day that we watched the 'bobblecat' outside his bedroom window.
  • Halloween has thankfully come and gone. Taylor was a ghoul-type thing. Audrey was Alice in Wonderland, Noah was Indiana Jones and Xander was a dinosaur-really a dragon but we aren't going to spoil it for him. It seems like less and less families are participating in the event each year. In our neighborhood, the kids had to knock on about 5 doors to find one person home. Taylor was our official hander-outer and only counted about 40 trick-or-treaters at our doorstep. We usually have more than 100.
  • The kids came home with their report cards last week. We have a monetary reward system in place and lets just say that Matt and I are officially broke. They all did really well and we are proud parents.
  • Taylor had a boy scout court of honor last week where he earned the rank of Life. The next step for him is EAGLE! He has already earned all of the Eagle-required merit badges so he just has to complete his eagle project and let 6 months pass. He is researching the requirements for the project now and hopes that he will be able to do something to help the Humane Society. His goal has been to earn his Eagle earlier than his dad did-which he is on track to do. He recently announced though that his new goal will be to earn each of the merit badges by the time he is 18. I think there are 205 so we have some work to do!