Monday, December 12, 2011

6 weeks

Approximately six weeks from today we may be in China. We got our next approval this morning (NVC cable and pdf, for those who have any idea what that means) and we only have a couple steps left, which seems crazy at this point. I mean, aren't we supposed to spend the next 3 years with nothing but paperwork to busy ourselves with?

So what is going on now? Well, our I800 approval went to the national visa center, who looked it over and approved the approval. Then, they emailed us a pdf of the approval which we emailed to our agency. Our agency then emails it to their contact in Guangzhou, who will take the approval to the consulate for review (or something). It's a standard 2 week wait before that same contact picks up the approval, called an article 5. Once we have that we are only waiting on our travel approval, which has been taking another 2 weeks or so. Travel approval is the final go ahead from China for us to come get Nora, so we can book flights and hotels and scramble around for another week or two wondering why we procrastinated so many things. Should be fun!

There is one element that will potentially throw off the timing: Chinese New Year. For those who don't know, the entire country pretty much shuts down for a week or more during CNY. This year, it falls on Jan. 23-28th. Because of how things work with the trip, most people won't be traveling after the first week of January, which means there will be a bit of a backlog once things open up again. It's entirely possible that the backlog will push us into the first week or two of February for travel, but we are hoping it doesn't.

As far as Nora goes, she is doing extremely well. She is walking on her own, can go up and down stairs with help and eats solid food. Apparently, she eats rice, noodles, fish, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables. She has 11 teeth with another one on the way and is very active. She weighs about 22 lbs, and is about 30" tall. She has also said her first word "gege" which means older brother. Since she lives with 6 boys, it's not entirely a surprise. Here's hoping the next 6 weeks cruise by with no hiccups.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More approvals!

We got our I800 approval last week! Hopefully, we will get our cable by Friday. Thursday would be ideal, but I try not to hope for things to go faster than normal these days. With everything that can go wrong and cause delays, I am quite happy with normal :)

It's getting closer now. Odd to think that we are down to only a few more steps. I'm not sure I'll know what to do with myself once there are no more boxes to check, papers to notarize, and dates to obsess over. How will it be to

Something very cool happened last night. Kevin and I got called out in our Mandarin class on our pronunciation. Our teacher, who is a native speaker from Shanghai, had us get up in groups of two and read a dialog. Obviously, Kevin was my partner and we got up and read our script, which boiled down to having a mutual friend and going out for Korean food after class. A couple groups had gone before us and were told they did a good job. We sat down and our teacher basically said, "Ok class, I want you to pay attention to them because their pronunciation is very good."

After we gave each other some discreet high fives, we talked about how happy we were about the comment. The thing is, we are about 80%+ self-taught. We began listening to pod casts, watching movies, and spending a lot of time saying things to each other like, "I think it's more of a wide sound. Like you're talking with a retainer. Like Shelly from South Park."* We spent a lot of time stumbling through and hoping we were doing it right. During the 3 years we've been working on it (and, oh man, we are still nowhere near passable after 3 years) we have spent a total of 9 evenings in class, only 4 of which have been with a native speaker. So, yes, being told that we are doing well is a huge boost.

Here's hoping the rest of the week is this good.

*Yes, this is actual dialog that happened. The X in Chinese makes a not-quite "sh" sound. If you smile wide while saying "sh" (or pretend you are Shelly saying a "sh") you've got it. Now end it with the back part of "cow". You've just said xiao (small)!