Thursday, July 31, 2008

BU Jealappy-ness

Oh, all you BUers! I am so Jealappy!

Can't think about it too much, because I know I will be missing out on some great times! But I am quite satisfied to hang out with my mom, have a yard sale, do some schoolwork, and dry-run my packing for the Big Trip. Well, mostly satisfied:)

Please post lots of pictures and stories and think of all of us who can't be there! And be sure to set the date/local for BU '09 so that Sparrow, Abigail and I can plan on being there!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reason #18- Sisters, Revisited

Abigail has two identical pink poodle Webkinz. Except one had the seam on it's belly split open. So we asked Doctor John's mom, Elaine, if she could transform into a stuffed animal veterinarian and perform some surgery on the poor puppy, which she agreed to do.

Abigail: When my pink poodle gets fixed, I will have two pink poodles!

Me: Or, one for you and one for your sister!

Abigail: (pause) Um, well she can have that broken one.

All of the adults in the room broke into hysterical giggles. Oh, how true it is! Older sisters always have it figured out, and always know how to work it to their advantage (this coming from the younger sister.)

But there is just something so special about having a sister. Something that can't be put into words, but is known, is felt, is celebrated by everyone who has had a sister.

And what a gift for Abigail.

Sisters: Grace and Faith, 2006

(How do you like my sunburn?)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kicking Myself (Literally)

So, my mole? Or rather, the place where my mole used to be? Not so bad! Not painful at all... except for when my left foot kicked my right foot as I was rolling over in bed the other night- OUCH!

Today I am back to work for the first time since I got the mole removed, so we will have to see how I do with pain once my feet are swelling in sneakers after 12 hours on my feet...

Also, for those who laugh at this kind of thing (as I do)... the nail polish that I am wearing on my toes is actually called "Sinful." I only wear polish on my toes (can't wear it on my fingernails due to work restrictions/infection control issues.) From the moment I realized I would be coating my feet with "Sinful"ness, I couldn't help but think...

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,
"Your God reigns!"
Isaiah 53:7

Older Baby/Toddler Adoption

I just read a really good post over at Our Journey Together about older baby/toddler adoption. This is full of good, practical, been-there-done-that advice- just what I need!

If you will be adopting an older baby or toddler, be sure to go check it out!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Susan Parr Travel Agency

We used Susan Parr and based on my experience I will not use them again. Out tickets had to be reissued several times due to mistakes they made. They also were not very helpful while we were in Ethiopia and needed assistance with changing our flights, we had to do everything on our own- which was a big pain.

From Renee

Dream-Related Freak Out

I had this dream that my court date was this Tuesday, not next Tuesday. I was kind of freaked out but strangely calm at the same time.

This definitely reinforced my decision to commit to doing "things" but not working on anything of importance on August 5. I am off work, and I hope to be far enough ahead in my school work to be able to take the whole day off from that as well.

Good tasks for the court date include:
~ folding socks
~ cleaning the litter box
~ dropping off items at Goodwill
~ walking Abigail to and from summer camp
~ vacuuming out the inside and washing the outside of my car

Why these tasks? Mainly, they are time consuming but don't have to be done perfectly. They are things that will occupy my hands without necessarily occupying my mind.

Any other ideas for court-date activities?

(And for the curious, like my sister, I like to schedule my posts to publish at the same time each day, unless it is an urgent/publish immediately thing. It is presently 12:32am on Monday morning and I am supposed to be finishing a paper on Emotional Intelligence, but I am blogging instead. Rather than having people know the insane frequency with which I blog when I should be working/sleeping/doing schoolwork, I just set them all to publish at 5am.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sleeping Arrangements

Days that Gagie has been visiting: 5

Days that Abigail has slept in her bed since Gagie has been here: 0

As John says, Gagie is absolutely not allowed to visit during standardized testing or finals week!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Holey Moley!


So, this is my big bad mole. It's gradually taking over my right foot. In March, I see my dermatologist and decide to go ahead and get it removed. However, since I thought I would be traveling to Ethiopia during the summer, I decided to wait until I was on leave from work and home with the baby.


Well, long story short, the adoption got slowed down with all the delays. And John was on a dermatology rotation in July, so I decided to get it taken off while he was on service (anything to enhance his education!)




Well, then things started rolling again, I got my referral and have a court date and I still had an appointment to have this taken off yesterday. So I did.


Internal and external stitches, baby. This is the first time I have ever had stitches (except when I gave birth.) So it is kind of fun for me! And luckily, no pain. The stitches can come out in 10-14 days, and hopefully this will be a faded memory by the time I go to Ethiopia!

Friday, July 25, 2008

His Eye is on the Sparrow




And I know Natalie's watching me:) Well, that makes it sound kind of creepy. She's not "watching" me so much as thinking of me. And sending me the perfect shirt to wear on August 5!




Thank you so much Natalie!



It's funny- I can't think of Sparrow without thinking of Natalie. She has been an inspiration and wonderful example in patience. And now her little babes are sleeping next to Sparrow each night... Our kids are playing together! (And I have the pictures to prove it!)

I hope that we can travel together as we already know that Sparrow and little B. Joshua and Y. Ruth are BFFs and I have a sinking suspicion that her Caleb and Hannah would quickly become BFFs with Abigail:) Caleb knows all about losing teeth (a present fascination of Abigail's) and Hannah is a dancer ('nuff said on that topic:)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Box for Sparrow

Emily was so kind as to send this special box for Sparrow along with my mom:) I think Gabri and Addy did a great job helping mommy decorate this special package that was full of clothes, shoes, sippy cups, and all other sorts of goodies! Let me tell ya, Sparrow is gonna be one well-dressed little girl because Gabri and Addy are always looking cute:)

Thanks Emily! What a blessing!

Welcome to Hershey!

My mom arrived yesterday. And promptly got locked in the bathroom with Abigail.


Don't worry, John and I "handled" it! For the life of us, we could not figure out how to get the handle off the door, and the "emergency" maintenance line... yeah, not so much. So about 20 good whacks with a hammer, and ta-da! Out they came:)

Call me Katherine


A family member of one of my patient's just told me I look like a red-headed Katherine Heigl. I told her I would take that as a compliment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shop with a Plan

One mom that I traveled with was really thoughtful and bought gifts for her daughter to last her many years for special occaisons- I thought this was a great idea. We bough the kids several traditional outfits, scarves, bowls, jewelry, wooden animals, table runners. I wish I would have bought more of alot of things...

From Renee

Gifts for the Orphanages

Ideas for Kechene and Kolfe, if you would like to do something for Kolfe or Kechene and don't have room for humanitarian aid etc. You can also give Belay money and he will provide the orphanges with meat. I can't remember exactly but I think for $200 we were able to provide a full meal including meat, soft drinks and sweets for all 200 kids at Kechene. We also did the same for Kolfe and they were so appreciative they even invited us to the orphange to share the dinner with them.

The ET staff is really apprecitive of this sort of donation because the kids are really lacking proper nutrition, specially now when budgets are getting cut more and more and food is becomming more scarce.

Doctors/Giardia

If you need to talk your child to the Drs while you're there we went to the Chico Children's Clinic, it cost about $4 and the Dr. was very nice, spoke English and was very thorough. She was also able to write us a prescription.

GIARDIA- it's pretty much a bad word in our house! :) Even if the kids do not present with diarrhea I've read that up to 50% of the kids will have it. Maryn and Keller both had it and so did I by the time we returned- it's very contagious and hard to get rid of! Be careful and read up on it especially if you are adopting toddlers and older.

From Renee

No-Haggle Pricing!

If you're not into doing alot of negotiating and bargaining for souveniers try the Hailer Salasie (spelled that wrong) shopping center. Everything was reasonably priced, nice quality no negotiations.

From Renee

Arriving/Visa

When you arrive in Addis you will walk through a set of doors and you will see various tables and a booth, on your left hand side you will also see a door (not labeled) this is where you wait to get your Visa and depending on the flight the line gets very long very quickly! So make your way to the door and wait- it may take a while before anyone calls you in- but don't worry you're in the right place.

From Renee

Foot Gear

Crocs or rain boots would be a great idea. While we were not there during the rainy season - I remember thinking to myself I can't even imagine how muddy Addis would be. Everywhere you go you will be walking on dirt (all the orphanges etc...) so it will be really messy.

From Renee

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

14 Days

It is a mere 14 days until my court date!

I am trying to remain calm and not get my hopes up- I know that there is a possibility I won't pass court on the first try. But I am just so thrilled to even have a court date, that I can't help but be excited!

My mom is flying in tomorrow to spend 2 weeks with us, so she will be here for my court date. Yea! I get the feeling that her trip here will involve lots of shopping, packing, and planning... and hopefully some good eats!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Making Progress: Travel Tips Spreadsheet

So, here is my new Travel Tips spreadsheet. (Not sure what this is? Read about my plan here.)

Please remember that it is a work in progress! I will add more info when school calms (hopefully this weekend). Until then, please keep leaving all those great links! I'd love to hear any other suggestions you may have, as well!

Again, if you do have some good tips/advice, feel free to email me or leave a comment. I have set up a new blog (Been There, Done That) so that those little bits of advice you have that haven't made it onto a blog, can indeed make it onto a blog, and into the Travel Tips spreadsheet!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Visas/Money Exchange

When you arrive in Addis, have one person in your party get in line for the visas while another goes to exchange a small amount of money. (Exchange only enough to pay for your visas and small expenses as the exchange rate is better outside of the airport.)

You will need Ethiopia burr to pay for your visas, so make sure you are prepared! Then your wait in the visa line won't be in vain!

From Grace

Formula on the Run

Purchase The First Years One Shot Formula Bags. These bags hold formula for 1 bottle. When you're in Ethiopia, you can pack the formula into the bags, and put it in your bags. This way,when you're sightseeing, it's less bulky and less messy. Just tear off the top, and pour the contents into the bottle.

From Jess

Important Documents

Buy 2 heavy duty plastic report covers with 3 fasteners or binders, and plastic sheets. Put all of your important docs in the sheets, in order, with a table of contents. Put a copy in your carry on and a copy in one of your checked bags.

From Jess

Memory Cards

Before you leave, buy several small padded envelopes. As you receive care packages and memory cards from other families, write their addresses on the padded envelopes. This way, when you return home, you won't have to go digging through old emails to find their addresses. Simply place the memory card of their cuties in the package, and mail it off!

From Jess

Help Wanted: Travel Tips

My sister had a good suggestion, and I am going to try to do my best to design the thing that she suggested... Stick with me!

Many of you have traveled... to Ethiopia, to pick up a child, or to a undeveloped nation. You all know more about these subjects than I do... more than most adoptive parents do. I will tell you that honestly, I have never traveled outside the US and Canada, and I have never been anywhere like Ethiopia in my travels.

But you have! You also have had the experience of meeting and beginning the bonding process in a foreign country. You've traveled with children of all ages, in extended family groups, and by yourself. You've stayed at fancy hotels and small inns far off the beaten path.

You know things.... you know things that I want to know. You know things that lots of adoptive parents want to know, to help them prepare for traveling to Ethiopia. Many of you have posted about them on your own blogs. This information, tricks, and tips is invaluable... but only if the adoptive parent can locate it!

I would like to create some kind of central registry for travel hints and tips. I imagine it will be something like the other list I made, except specific to travel. I am thinking it would include pages like "Airlines, Airfare, and Travel Agencies," "Where to Stay," "Where to Eat," "What to Do," "Avoiding Illness and other Health Concerns" (travel shots/meds included here), "Hints, Tips, and Tricks," "Packing List" and maybe some other categories. On each of these pages, I would link to posts that you have written about that category (if you wrote about meds and your guest house in the same post, it could be linked under both categories) and maybe include a column for "key words" so that a brief glance could tell the viewer what to expect in the post. Even if you aren't with Gladney, you probably have a lot of good advice about many of these categories, and I would love to hear it!

What do you think? Can you help me out? I would go and do the "legwork" for this myself, except that I am a tad bit busy right now trying to finish school before my court date (as I am fairly certian my brain will instantly turn to mush once I have to plan my travel:) So, please leave a comment linking to some of your favorite posts (from your own blog or a favorite blogger's blog) that can help us out!

If you would rather email me, feel free (address in sidebar on right) or just leave a comment with the link. I will put something together soon, and see if we can't make a great resource for those who are yet to travel (yes, like ME!)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Adventure: Fallingwater/Falling Ill

This past weekend, John, his folks, Abigail and I took a trip out to Western Pennsylvania. We drove out Friday morning, and our first stop was Fallingwater, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece (yes, he did design and build outside of Chicago!)



The mountain laurel was in full bloom. Did you know that mountain laurel is the state flower of PA? Neither did I. But John and his father knew. Because they know things. The tour of Fallingwater begins with a 5 minute walk through the surrounding countryside, and we enjoyed the mountain laurel and limestone outcroppings (I told you they know things) along the way.


This is upstream from the waterfall that you will see below. It's amazing that this little stream becomes the beautiful and rushing waterfall just a few hundred feet later.

This was our first glimpse of Fallingwater. It does not do the house justice at all, but it does give you an idea of how Wright designed the home to be immersed in nature- and for nature to be immersed in the home. I think he was the originator of feng shui in America:)

Wright's use of the cantilever is still considered progressive- imagine what they thought back in the 1930s when the home was being built! It's amazing to walk on those terraces and feel like you are floating over the water.

Here you can see the waterfall I mentioned. It runs under the home. Actually, Wright designed a glass staircase that descends out of the living room and down to the water, just above the level of the waterfall. Amazing.

Really, is there anything that I could say that would make that view more beautiful?
Ah, if only the rest of the day was so calm and enjoyable...
When planning this trip, I was put in charge of locating overnight accommodations. Because the trip was rather last-minute (this is the Showalter way), there was not much available. However, I did manage to find a guest house that met the requirements established by the group (namely, air conditioning) that was only a few miles away. I thought I did well.
John was put in charge of copying the directions off the website. Normally I would just print them out, but they were not long and my ink was low, so John was given the job of transcribing the directions. Easy, right? Right.
So, we leave Fallingwater and stop for lunch at Subway. Then we follow John's directions. An hour later we are in West Virgina in this rinky-dink town. As if that were not bad enough, let me describe the route to said town.
Now, before I describe this hour-long trek to Nowheresville, let me just say that I am from Illinois. I have been on many road trips, and I have never gotten carsick. I can read in the car, sleep in the car, play games, watch the scenery... none of it bothers me. Also, in case you didn't know, Illinois is flat, and our roads are set up in giant grids. They are straight, flat roads. And I do not get carsick when I travel on them.
The roads in Western PA and West Virginia? Neither flat nor straight. Ever. In fact, the course of traveling about 2 miles on one of these roads kind of goes like this: up, turn, turn, up, turn, down, turn, turn, turn, turn, down, down, turn, up, turn, down, turn, turn, up, up, turn, up, turn, down, up, turn, turn, down, turn, up, up, up, turn, down, turn, turn, turn, turn, down, down, down, turn, down.
Just to get 2 miles.
So, an hour of this up, turn, turn, down and I am feeling like I am going to be sick at any moment. (We also hit the world's largest road bump, and everyone caught air. I looked back in the rear-view mirror and saw our suitcases nearly hit the ceiling.) Elaine was sitting next to me in the passenger seat, and she says that she never saw anyone look as pale as I looked. John, of course, was going out of his way to annoy me (and this factors into why I might NOT want to bear his children since his response to my discomfort always seems to be to annoy me, and I am not sure if you are aware or not, but childbirth is fairly uncomfortable.) And we are in the middle of Nowheresville with no pharmacy, no gas station, no CVS or Walgreens or Walmart or any other place that might possibly sell medication to help my carsickness.
Yes, at that moment, we realize that John has transcribed the directions wrong, and we actually passed our lodging about 50 minutes ago.
Our next stop was a grassy knoll in a church yard where I laid flat in the grass for 10 minutes to try to avoid getting sick. Feeling as miserable as I was, and knowing that it was a 50 minute drive back to our guesthouse with many more ups, downs, and turns, I handed over the wheel and tried to focus on not being ill for the rest of the ride back.
Thankfully, our detour to Nowheresville was over in due time, and we (finally) found our guest house and checked in. Then we went off to dinner (all that up-ing, down-ing and turning can make a soul hungry!) After dinner we went for a walk down to the Ohiopyle (pronounced Ohio-pile) River, just a few blocks away.
John and Abigail went for a stroll in the brisk water. Abigail mostly liked to stay out of the coldness and on the sun-warmed rocks.

They practiced their Kung Fu Panda poses for a while, John took her down the natural "water slides" with his belly as her inner-tube, and Abigail saw a "snake" and flipped out (it was just a rock under the water) so we headed home for the evening.
In the morning, John and his dad got up with Abigail and took her back to play in the river. Elaine and I got to sleep in. That was part of John's penance for making me carsick during the really long and un-necessary detour the previous day. I liked sleeping in, although mostly I couldn't go back to sleep after they whispered so loudly to each other to stay quiet, so I just drank coffee and chilled out with some home-baked yummies. It was nice:)
Before we took off on our next adventure, we went back to the Ohiopyle to check it out in the daylight hours. We plan on rafting on the river the next time we are out that way, and John would like to kayak if possible!

There were some lovely waterfalls and nice whitewater rapids. The water was so clear and clean!

Our next trip was to the Laurel Caverns. The trip was much better with the help of some Dramamine. The view from the top of the mountain was spectacular. Then we went down into the caverns... more than 170 feet deep! We saw a ball roll uphill, and a little bat:)

We had to head for home after our Cavern adventure, since Elaine and I had to work on Sunday. I think we all felt like Abigail:)

Guess How Much I Love You


You know that children's story, Guess How Much I Love You (click to read the full text)? In the book, the son and father talk about how much they love each other. The book ends with the son saying "I love you all the way up to the moon!" and the dad replies "I love you all the way to the moon, and back!"
All that to set the stage for this conversation Abigail and I had tonight:
Abigail: I know how you feel, Momma.
Grace: What?
Abigail: I know how you feel because I love you, too!
Grace: Well, I love you!
Abigail: I love you all the way up to heaven!
Grace: Wow! That is a lot!
Abigail: I love you all the way up to God.
Grace: Wow! How much do you think God love us?
Abigail: He loves us all the way from heaven into our hearts.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thanks!


I wanted to thank everyone for the congratulations and well-wishes. What an eventful week this has been- from waiting for a referral to having a court date!

Now, more than ever before, my heart aches for the people of Ethiopia. There are many who are forced to relinquish their child because they have no way of providing them with food. I could never imagine that situation happening in America, and yet, it's common in Ethiopia.

I would still like to reach my goal of $300 for food aid in Ethiopia. If you have not yet, could you consider donating? Every dollar helps meet that goal! Feel free to leave more comments on that post, too:)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Court Date!

Look up into the right corner of my right sidebar.

See that new ticker? Yes, that would be counting down the days until...

my court date!


Praising God!

Belly Button

Grace: John, she is just so tiny! Like, tiny! I just can't even remember Abigail being that little!

John: You know, I think Sparrow is really going to become very familiar with Abigail's... belly button.

And probably with my knee, from my best calculations:)

Abigail's big-girl sitter has a little boy who is just a little younger than Sparrow. He is about 20 pounds and 30" tall, making him a bit bigger than my girl. I held him the other day, and was amazed at how small he felt in my arms (but then, anything feels small in my arms compared to Abigail!) I am thankful to his mommy who is telling me all of his clothing, diaper, and shoe sizes to help me prepare!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Too Much Happiness!

I am just so filled with happiness that I could burst!

First, both Jennifer and Jody and Meredith and Ryan got their referrals on the same day as me last week.

Then a bunch of families (10!) passed court yesterday.

Now, my dear friend Jessica has passed court and will be traveling soon! YEA!

FAQ

Q: So now what?

A: Now we wait.

Q: Wait? Didn't we just wait almost 6 months?

A: Yes, but now we are waiting for a court date.

Q: What do you mean?

A: Well, now that I have offically accepted Sparrow's referral, my dossier and her paperwork will be submitted to the Ethiopian court. They will notify my agency of the date that they will review my case. In the mean time, the court will request that the Ministry of Women's Affairs review my documents and Sparrows documents and they will issue an opinion about the adoption (or request more information.) At the court date, the judge will review my documents, Sparrow's documents, and MOWA's opinion. Sparrow's birth mom will also be able to legally relinquish on that day.

If everything comes together, the adoption can be granted on that day. However, as you can see, there are a lot of people involved. There can be delays in this process due to missing paperwork, papers that are filled out wrong, individuals being unavailable or any other number of reasons. The judge or MOWA may also request more information to provide clarity about a part of the case or paperwork. But, once everything is all put together, the judge can grant the adoption.

Once the judge grant the adoption, I will be notified by my agency that I "passed court." Then, in about 2-3 weeks, I will be traveling to Ethiopia to meet Sparrow, collect her visa and passport, and bring her home!

Q: Well, that doesn't sound too bad. How long will it take?

A: That's hard to say. The courts in Ethiopia close for the rainy season from August 8- September 29. They cannot process court cases during that time. If my case is processed before courts close, then I may be traveling in August or September. Otherwise, I will have to wait for a court date when courts re-open. Then, once I pass court, I would travel- perhaps in October or November. Of course, there could be delays in the court process, so there is no way of knowing for sure what will happen.

Q: So how are you hanging in there with more waiting and such uncertainty of when you will get your girl?

A: Having just started the wait over, my patience has been refreshed. I hope and pray for good news. I know that updates from Gladney and pictures from traveling families will make this part of the wait both easier and more difficult. But for now, I'm doing well, and resting in the arms of my Father.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Doctor Demented

I love demented patients.

So, you know that Doctor John has a goatee. You've seen it in our pictures, right?

Recently, he had a demented patient. The guy was in his 80s, and living in a really happy little world all his own.

He kept asking John "why do you only have half a beard? Where is the rest of your beard?"

I thought that was great:)

Eeeks!

Congrats to the families who have passed court! 10 families in one day- YOWSA!


I'm hoping that some of these families will be able hug and love on my little Sparrow!

A trip to the store.

I went to W*lmart on Saturday night.

Holy cow, I didn't realize how unprepared I am for a toddler! I need a booster seat for the kitchen table, bottles and sippy cups, a bed rail. Diapers, wipes, lotions and potions. Toys and books meant for a toddler, not a 5 year old. Headbands and hair clips and hats. Maybe even tights and real clothes.

And shoes! A girl needs shoes! Abigail and I both love to have a wide selection of shoes! But how do I know what size shoes she wears?

She seems so tiny, so baby-like in her photos, that it is difficult to know how to prepare for my Sparrow. I think instillation of the gate at the top of the stairs, outlet covers, and a few latches on cabinets is a good place to start. Much past that... well, it will come:)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Adventure: Knoebels!

This past weekend my church conference sponsored a day at Knoebels.

Abigail and I were very excited! We made sure to dress light (for highs in the 90s with 75% humidity) and wear our sunscreen:) (Doctor John was on call at the hospital, so he had to stay within 10 minutes of the hospital. Besides, roller coasters make him puke, so he wasn't invited.)

We drove up with our friends, Jen and Jon. They used to be our neighbors before they moved all the way to Middletown! Granted, they now live, like, 7 miles away, and it's not that far, but it's still not as close as walking down the block! We miss them and were excited to get together with them:) (Plus, I was excited to tell them my good news that I had just received the previous day.)

John's folks, Steve and Elaine, live pretty close to the park. They drove over and met us there. They were actually the first to discover that Abigail didn't put on underpants when she got dressed that morning. Ooops!

Abigail loved being the center of attention. Of course. She is a total ham.

We rode some rides and ate some lunch. Above is Abigail and Jon on a paratrooper ride. Notice that he confiscated her crocs before they took off:)


Abigail rode her first real roller coaster, the Phoenix. She loved it! Let me tell you, that is one intense roller coaster! I was catching some serious air. In fact, Abigail's sunglasses (which I had sat on to prevent loosing them) flew out from under me- that's how much air I was getting! I let Abigail pick out these sunglasses to replace the ones that were lost on the roller coaster. Subtle, aren't they?


Jen, Jon and I went on a "Splash Mountain" like ride. Abigail and Steve watched us. We got wet. They got drenched! They were, literally, dripping! But, Abigail didn't have any panty lines:)


Steve and Elaine took off, and we rode some more rides. We then proceeded to the picnic that the conference had. We had some seriously finger-licking good chicken BBQ. YUM! After dinner, we decided this ski-lift ride would be a nice way to relax.


Abigail and I enjoyed the scenery and reflected on our very good day. We had so much fun!

Abigail's Big Surprise!

Telling Abigail about her new sister on Friday night...


Sunday, July 13, 2008

"The Call"


I guess I always thought I would be surprised by "The Call." I expected that it would come out of nowhere, out of the blue, like the first buds of spring. That's not at all what happened.

I was traveling off my unit to take my patient for some tests. I needed to stay with her because there was a fairly good potential for her to go down the tubes ("crumping" if they do it slow, "crashing" if they do it fast.) It had been a horrible, rushed day so far, and when I left my unit at 1pm to take her to tests, I still had not eaten or gone to the bathroom after 6 hours at work (with 6 and a half to go.)

The tests took forever and a day, or at least they felt like it. I had my cell phone with me, as I always do at work, and I could see that I had missed a call from "No Name" but I assumed it was the car donation service I had contacted about my donating my old car.

When I took my patient to her next test, she stopped puking and fell asleep. I was hanging out (I never know what to do in those situations... me, my patient, and a technician in a dark room together...) when the tech mentioned that I was free to use the computer. I logged on and accessed my patients charts, did some of my charting, checked my new physician orders, and whatnot. Since I had nothing else work-related to do, I hopped into my Yahoo account.

Immediately I saw that I had received tons of emails from the gladney_africa yahoo group, all of them expressing excitement. I quickly ascertained that the excitement was over the contents of a Gladney email, and I scrolled down to read said email. I was thrilled to hear the good news that progress was made with the court delays, and Gladney would resume issuing referrals starting today (Friday).

That's when I put 2 and 2 together. My missed call from "No Name." Yep, I was betting that was Jessica!

My hands started trembling and my stomach was in my mouth. I was internally freaking out... "they are trying to call me to give me my referral, and I am stuck in the pit of doom with my crazy lady and the never-ending tests!" Outwardly, I casually asked the tech how the test was going, and if there was anything I could to to help. That's called "Playing it cool."

I shot of some emails, posted to my blog, and hit "refresh" on every email and blog subscription I have. Finally, the tech was done and indicated that she would ask the patient transporters to come and take me and my patient back to my unit. Okay, fine. It was still only 1:30 in Texas... plenty of time, right? Just play it cool.

15 minutes later I tried maneuvering the honking-big bed that contained my vomiting patient out of the tiny exam room and into the hall. Transport was not there, she had puked and pooped everywhere, and I had a referral to get! Thankfully, my charge nurse came and helped me get my patient back to the unit. On the walk back, I informed my charge nurse of the likelihood of getting my referral, and she indicated that she would do everything she could to help me get that call as soon as possible. Talk about a lady who played it cool!

Unfortunately, when I got back to the unit, it was time to discharge one of my other patients to another facility. I had been gone for almost 2 hours, and nothing was ready. I had to clean her up (she had wet herself), get her paperwork ready, and call report to the other facility. Of course, I was running around like an idiot, unable to concentrate on anything!

During that time, I checked my voicemail, and it was indeed Jessica that had called me. I shot her an email letting her know I was at work and tied up with a patient situation, but that I would love to talk to her... (hint, hint.)

Once I discharged my patient, it was time to do another round of assessments on my 2 remaining patients (I work in a ICU step-down/step-up unit, so my patients are not on ventilators, but they are the people who are crumping or just came off a ventilator...) I hadn't checked on one of my patients in 3 hours because I was traveling with the other, so I had to see him first. He was... needy. But when I told him why I was grinning from ear to ear, he told me to get out of his room and take my call:) He's officially my favorite patient ever!

In the mean time, the test lady had pooped again (I am totally prepared for giardia, by the way.) So I had to clean her up. Whilst doing that, I was paged for a call. Internal or external call, I asked. Oh, internal, they said. I rushed to the phone, hoping it would be the doc I had paged, and hoping he would give me an order for meds to make my lady stop puking.

It was Jessica.

"Hi Grace, I have some really good news for you!" she said in her sweet voice.

"Um, and I would really love to hear that good news, but I am kind of tied up at the moment" I replied in my warbling voice.

We made arrangements so that I could call her back... but right before we hung up, she dropped the bomb that she did have to leave a little bit early today. WHAT??? How long did I have to get back to her? Jessica assured me that if she did not hear from me, she would call before she left.

Time seemed to change, and suddenly, tasks that should only take a moment seemed to be taking hours. I went back to clean up my pooper, and managed to get my assessments and vitals done and my medications passed. I was sure hours had gone by. I was sure Jessica would be gone for the weekend by the time I got to a phone. I felt sick to my stomach.

I grabbed my charts and headed to the front desk. That was the only place I knew of that had a long-distance phone and a computer with Internet, so I was about to meet my Sparrow with the whole world (or what felt like it) looking over my shoulder. At that point, any way of meeting her sounded perfect.

I dialed Jessica's number and logged into the computer while it rang. Before I even finished logging in, Jessica picked up.

"Grace, it is so good to finally give you this referral! You have no idea how happy I am to do this!"

"It must be like when I tell my patients that their test results came back normal and they don't have cancer or something!"

Okay, maybe that was a bad analogy.

Multiple interruptions later (seriously, doctors and nurses are nosey!) I had gone over everything with Jessica. In the mean time, John had run across the hospital to be with me, and was busy quickly plotting out growth charts and whatnot, (not to mention paging the pediatrician to get to my unit STAT!)

The memory is both vivid and faint, and I remember telling Jessica "This is not at all what I expected- this isn't how I expected to feel, or what I expected this process to be like." Really, I think that is true about parenting, and life in general. It never is what we expect. More often than not, God blows our expectations right out of the water. I can't imagine a more perfect way to meet my Sparrow.

Of course, I totally forgot to hand out the "It's A Girl!" gum cigars my mom had sent me:)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sparrow

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. "
Luke 12:6-7

I am so thrilled to meet my Sparrow today!
She is 15 months old and has 6 teeth, but she is a tiny thing! Very petite!


Psalm 84:3
"Even the sparrow has found a home..."

Friday, July 11, 2008

R

R is for Referral!Details to come!

Yipee!


Keep your pants on! I did not get a referral:)
But we did see some movement with the present delays... so a referral could be coming soon!
Praise and thanks be to God!
Psalm 136
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.

who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.

who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.

who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.

the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.

the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever...

to the One who remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.

and freed us from our enemies,
His love endures forever.

and who gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Boring Road and Other Abigailisms

When John and I went to NYC, Abigail stayed with his folks. They live a little over an hour north of here. Apparently, when she was driving up Friday afternoon, Abigail fell asleep for a while in the car. When she woke up, she had a great exchange with John's mom, Elaine...

Abigail: (looking around) They should call this Boring Road.

Elaine: Well, what about the river? Doesn't that look nice?

Abigail: Um, it's just water.

Wow, talk about Little Miss Sassy Pants!

What was better was the exchange that took place between John's dad, Steve, and Abigail on Saturday morning. Elaine had to work in the morning, so Abigail and Steve were going to sleep in before a fun-filled day. Steve related that when his alarm went off, he turned over to turn off the alarm, and there stood Abigail!

Steve: What are you doing?

Abigail: Watching you wake up.

Who knows how long she was standing there! This is a common Abigail thing, though, as she will often wander into my room when I am asleep, and watch me until I wake up. Very annoying, by the way:) She is such a stinker!

I don't know much.... (*Edited for Content*)

but I know I'm happy! And hopeful! Keep those prayers coming!

(That may be all I need to know!)



Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Week 25


Motivated not so much by prepping for Sparrow but more by good deals and an upcoming visit from Moriah and her girls, I have made some strides in adoption preping.
First, I got a carseat. One of those that is supposed to go from 0-8 years. Rear facing, forward facing, booster.... I will probably change her car seat to an actual booster when the time comes, but for now I think Sparrow will have a safe way to travel, whether she is rear facing or forward facing (so hard to buy when you just don't know!)

Next, I got a gate. I have a one set of stairs in my apartment, but they are at such a horrible location. I have known that I need to install a gate, and I was holding off since the stairwell is wide and gates that expand past a standard doorway size are so expensive! Unless you buy them new off craigslist for just a fraction of the price! So, now it's just a matter of installing it before Charis gets here!

Finally.... I bought a car! Easily fits 2 (and maybe even 3:) car seats!

In an email last afternoon, Gladney relayed some new info about the present delays. Things are looking brighter, and hopefully those glimmers of hope will turn into a sparkling sky full of hopes fulfilled!


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Adventures

I had 2 big adventures in the past few days. Check them out here and here (I have pictures!).

Thanks to all who have commented and donated. Please keep it up!

Prayer Time!

Today is group prayer day; we will pray today as we have each Tuesday since the delays began. Please join us!

When: Today, July 8, 7:30-8:00 pm EST

Where: A quiet place, in your home, with friends, alone, anywhere!

How: Please pray as you are lead.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13

Monday, July 07, 2008

Adventure: NYC!

On a bit of a whim spurred on by Jennifer, John and I decided to go to NYC this past weekend. Because John was on call overnight Friday night, we couldn't leave until Saturday morning. But it worked out beautifully, and we were checking into our hotel by lunchtime.
So, our hotel. Beautiful 4-star place. We got a great deal on hotels.com. And when we checked in, they upgraded us to a 2 bedroom, 2 bath corner suite on the 35th floor!



Nice bed!


View of the River.


View of the Empire State Building (left) and Chrysler Building (right).

After we checked in and got over our shock about the upgrade, we had lunch and did some shopping. I found some cute shirts on sale, and John picked up a few things. It was hot and humid, with drizzling rains on and off, but we had fun just being out in the City.


The concierge was fantastic and got us reservations at Gordon Ramsey at The London for Saturday night. You know, Gordon Ramsey- Hell's Kitchen? That's his restaurant! We were stoked! Some friends of ours had raved about the food, and we were headed to a 4-star French restaurant, on a whim, for dinner!



I think we clean up pretty well, don't you? I am not allowed to say what noose-like contraption John wore around his neck for this occasion (since he is decidedly against noose-like articles worn around the neck) but if you look at this picture, I think you might see something...:)
Anyway, the food was phenomenal! I have never tasted anything so delicious. I wish I had the words to describe how delightful the food was. And the wine! That was the best wine I have ever tasted in my life! When we were finished eating, I was so blissfully full and content that I thought I might not be able to stand up to go tour the kitchen- but I managed:) John and I agreed that we want to go back- it was just SO GOOD! (We had the 7 course prestige menu.)




Saturday morning we headed to John's Alma Mater, Columbia University. We then wandered a bit on the Upper West Side and strolled through Morningside Park. Who knew that a waterfall awaited us deep in the heart of the UWS?

Finally, we met Meredith and Ryan for lunch at Zoma, an Ethiopian Restaurant. John and I loved talking to Meredith and Ryan; they are such fun, engaging, kind people! We had a great conversation and great food (so tasty!). If I ever end up in NYC, I hope M&R (and puppy ej) will be my neighbors:) They will have many tricks to teach me about navigating the city with a child.


We totally did the tourist thing and asked a stranger on the street to snap a picture of us (I think I might have embarrassed all the NYCers, John included:) But isn't this photo worth it?
We ended the day by heading to The Cloisters. So interesting! For an island that is only 13 miles long and a little over 2 miles wide, it is full of areas for discovery! By the time we explored the museum and garden, we were tuckered out and ready to head home:)
So that's a brief recap of our NYC adventure! Another weekend of fun is in store next week (Moriah's coming for a visit!) and even the following weekend (mini road trip with John's folks!) So stay tuned for more summer adventures!

How to Buy a Car

Step 1. Think about buy a car for 2 years or so. Test drive cars. Research them online. Ask everyone you know if they like their car. Decide on a car you like. Change your mind- at least 3 times. Go back to the original decision about the car you like.

Step 2. Decide that the only way you will comfortably fit 2 car seats in your back seat is if you have a bigger back seat. Decide that the only way you will convince your mom to visit you in the summertime is if you have a car with A/C. Decide that the best way to make these things happen is to buy a new (to you) car. On a whim, look at your local Saturn dealership and find a used 2007 Saturn Vue with 30,000 miles, loaded, at $4,000 less than Kelly Blue Book price.

Step 3. Call your credit union and see what they can do for you. Get your loan approved and processed within 15 minutes.

Step 4. Keep your cool and try to act relatively uncommitted when you test drive the car.



Step 5. After dicussing with your "posse" (consisting of your boyfriend's parents) decide to go ahead. Attempt to remain calm.

Step 6. Sign a bunch of papers.


Step 7. Wait while they switch your plates.
Step 8. Drive away. Leave happy!
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