Thursday, July 31, 2008
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
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
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...
If you will be adopting an older baby or toddler, be sure to go check it out!
Monday, July 28, 2008
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
Saturday, July 26, 2008
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
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
Thanks Emily! What a blessing!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
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.
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.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
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
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
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!
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
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.
Friday, July 18, 2008
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
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
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!
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
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:)
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
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.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
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
"Even the sparrow has found a home..."
Friday, July 11, 2008
Give thanks to the God of gods.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
to him who alone does great wonders,
who by his understanding made the heavens,
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
who made the great lights—
the sun to govern the day,
the moon and stars to govern the night;
to the One who remembered us in our low estate
and freed us from our enemies,
and who gives food to every creature.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
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!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
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
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.
Monday, July 07, 2008
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...:)
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?
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.