Monday, January 30, 2012

We're going to China!

We found out this morning that we have a confirmed Consulate appointment for February 23rd! Because this typically takes place at the end of the trip, they work backward from there. I have spent the last 5 hours going back and forth with travel agents, my agency, and Kevin to get flights figured out and debate the pros and cons of a bassinet seat vs. buying Nora her own seat.

So, without further ado, we will be leaving for China on the evening of February 7th! Yup, a week from tomorrow. I should probably get off the computer and get some stuff done! I'll post our itinerary once it is finalized. In the meantime, allow me to say WOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Birthdays, birthdays!

Well, still no word on when we will be traveling, but we will probably hear tomorrow.

So, I suck at keeping the blog updated sometimes. I realized the other day that I never posted about Nora's birthday party. Additionally, we got a picture from Chinese New Year that is adorable and happy news about her last week and a half at the foster home.

I'll get to all that, but first you have to earn it ;). See, there is a facebook contest going on with a local dessert cafe that is AMAZING! They are having people submit photos and then they get voted on, blah blah blah, winner gets a free cake. Full-sized delicious cake. Typically, I hate this sort of thing, but you don't have to sign up for anything or do anything other than click the number of stars you want to give the picture. I sent a photo of Kevin and I celebrating Nora's first birthday. I would post it to this blog, but I'm going to be rude and make you follow the link to see it. While you're there, vote for it so we can get Nora a cake for a birthday party with us. You can actually vote once a day, and it's going on for the next 5 days. So yeah...go vote. Here comes the link. Click it and then come back here for the rest of the story and new pictures.
Click these words!
Did you do it? Well, go do it! I'll wait.
Honestly, I know it's silly, but there are so many things we missed out on during Nora's first 16 months that little things like a birthday party get more importance, and being able to have a nice cake would be pretty magical. I may even let Nora have some.

Anyway, speaking of birthdays, we don't have pictures yet from Nora's birthday in China, but should get them when we pick her up. One of her roomies had his 2nd birthday last week, and we did get pictures from that.
She seems to be saying, "For me?" Not this time, baby girl, but soon!
Here is Nora's reaction to cake

She seems rather mesmerized by the sugary goodness, doesn't she? She needs more cake

We also were fortunate enough to get a picture from Chinese New Year. Traditionally, kids get new clothes and a red envelope (hong bao) filled with coins, either spendable or chocolate.
Here they are in their finery having a big party. Have I mentioned how awesome her foster house is?
Speaking of red envelopes, are you ready for the cutest picture yet?

I warned you! Is it completely unfair that Nora can rock a scarf better at 15 months old than I ever will? Maybe. I guess I am willing to lose that contest, though. Only a couple more weeks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

By 3:30 we were supposed to know

Our agency had told us they expected our TA today. They would have the package by 3:00 our time and I would receive an email 15 minutes later. If the approval didn't come, there would be no email and we could expect to wait for another week or more and our travel would be delayed by several more weeks. No pressure, right?

I managed to stay optimistic all day...right up until 3:00. When 4:00 came and still no news, I lost it. Yet another breakdown, this time on the phone with my mom when she called to see if we had heard anything.

I came downstairs to waste time on pinterest (that's what it's for, right?) and wonder what this would all mean. Would we be able to travel in February at all? Would we ever get to see our girl?

At 4:30 my phone beeped. It beeps for emails, texts and appointments, so I didn't get too exited. Then I saw the email logo. Every time I get excited over this it turns out to be an email informing me that someone liked one of my pins (like I said, wasting time on pinterest). This time it was from our agency.

Finally. After nearly 4 weeks of waiting and worrying we have our travel approval. We are actually going to China.

Of course, the next question is when. Typically we would know in a day or so. Nothing is simple for us though, so Chinese New Year is here and the consulate that schedules the travel won't be open for another week. We won't know for sure for at least a week, but it's looking like sometime February 8-10 we will be getting on a plane.

Friday, January 20, 2012

No news is no news

Since there are people who follow the blog that want to know what our status is, I'll update the blog.
No, we do not have travel approval yet. It is 24 days and still nothing. I realize that doesn't seem very long to some, but each day of this TA wait is slow torture. Waking up with high hopes, jumping in excitement every time my phone beeps, seeing it's not from our agency and trying to tell myself it's still early, minutes ticking by with nothing, 4 o clock coming and realizing that once more it is not our day. Not to mention, each day that goes by can delay our leaving by a week or more.
Please don't tell me that it'll be worth it or that it will come soon so hang in there. I am aware that this will be over eventually, but I am in the midst of this personal hell and it wont go away. I don't want sympathy, I don't want platitudes, I just want my travel approval.
If it doesn't come on Monday, we hit Chinese New Year and won't get it until early February. I don't even want to think about it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And still we wait

Still no word on our travel approval. We are now on day 14 of that wait and are supposed to hear something anytime.

I had really hoped we would hear today. I was so optimistic about it, but as the afternoon came and went with no word I began to realize that today was not our day. I realize it will be soon, and I realize it will come eventually, but it just sucks. The wait for TA is brutal. There is no other way to put it. I think it is taking a tie with LOA wait for the suckiest part of the process. Each day drags on for a week and you feel like your entire life is on hold. We can't buy plane tickets, we don't know exactly when we will be meeting our girl, we don't know when Kevin should be asking for time off, all because we are still waiting on one little piece of paper.

We have a baby shower this Saturday and I truly hope I have good news by then, otherwise I suspect another rough day. Yes, we are excited to be so close, but man am I ready to be on the other side of this whole process! Here's hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy Little Kicks in the Head

(Huzzah! It's another Kevin post!)

Professionally, I'm a media and web developer. What this means to Jen is that all of her business endeavors come with free web design and development services, forever. It's part of the whole supportive-husband gig I try to maintain. Her primary endeavor has been unusually busy this year, and has more or less funded the entire adoption while I take care of the usual keeping-the-lights-on stuff.

I had a weird, awakening moment when I realized I was editing the home page of her business website to read that she will be on maternity leave, and potential clients should email her about availability for the next few months.

For some reason, little things like this serve as stark reminders of how weird and wonderful our lives have become. Happy little kicks in the head.

Another kick: realizing that the adorable little monkey outfit I bought months ago isn't going to fit her now.

Kick: apparently Eleanor likes music a lot, which is a relief since I've been playing, writing and recording music since middle school. We also have a shared tendency to put on loud music while cleaning house on Saturdays, anything from Guster to Underworld, The Naked and Famous to Flogging Molly, or just choice musicals (I sing all the male parts).

Corollary kick: I plan on her playing backup guitar in my band by age 4. I have an extra eletric she can practice on.

Kick: we hear she can now point to "mama" and "baba" (the Chinese "dada") on seeing our pictures.

Kick: Jen just now reminded me that I will need to hunt down a diaper bag that I can wear and still feel manly.

Another kick, the biggest of all: one month. We could have our daughter in one month.

- Kevin

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

One last step

I really can't believe we are at this point, but we have only one approval left to wait for: travel approval. We received our Article 5 on December 27th so we are already a week into our TA wait. You'd think I would be absolutely beside myself with joy, but things are very bittersweet right now.

The new year began with arriving home from a wonderful trip to Mexico to find out that my sweet grandfather had passed away that morning. Without getting into too many details, I'll just say that he was ready and it was time for him to be with my grandma again. He was very loved and will be missed by us all.

Yesterday I began the final process of preparing Nora's room, which means that my work studio (a.k.a. Sewingland or The Sweatshop) is going away. I've spent nearly everyday in that room, often for 12-16 hours at a time to help us make a living. I busted my butt building my reputation and am proud to say that I've become a rather well-known seamstress in the area. I've worked with difficult brides who I was happy to see leave, and sweet brides who I think of often and hope are doing well. I am in no way saying that I would rather continue working at the expense of bring our girl home, it's just very odd to have a physical manifestation of the end of that stage, at least for now. I keep finding myself thinking, "Oh, I'll need that silk soon because I know another pride is going to want to use it on her dress," and having to remember that by the end of the week I will have exactly zero clients.

My grandfather's passing made me think of the passing of my grandmother as well. The two of them were inseparable in my mind, and when she died I think she took most of him with her. She's been gone for a few years now, but I remember how sweet and loving she always was. She was a very talented cook as well as an amazing knitter. Each Christmas she would knit slippers for all her children and grandchildren. Thanksgiving wasn't complete until you put in your color requests, and Christmas Day we would all run around in our new slippers. They always fit perfectly. Funny, I always took that for granted. After she was gone, I was sad to realize that I had never saved a pair. I think I wore them so much that they always were worn out by the time the new ones arrived.

While putting away my studio, I pulled out a small blue wooden trunk that I got when I was 8 or 9. I had gotten an American Girl doll (Kirsten, from back when there was only 3 dolls) and desperately wanted the wooden trunk that you could buy. Of course, they were extremely expensive, so I knew it would never really happen. Instead, my grandpa surprised me with a beautiful trunk he lovingly made, even painting it the dusty blue color that it was "supposed" to be. As a child, I was a little bugged that it always smelled strongly of that paint, but otherwise it was probably my most prized possession. I had kept it in storage for a while, figuring that I would want to give it to my children someday, but never opened it.

Yesterday, I opened it for the first time in probably 15 years. It still smells like that paint. I took out the doll, remembering all the time I had spent dressing her up. I lifted the wood board that separated my doll from her clothing, and began pulling out each dress. My mom had actually made a few of the dresses, though it took me a bit to remember which ones she had sewn since they all are expertly made. After laying out each dress and thinking about the hands that made the chest and the dresses, I looked down and was hit by a memory that I had long since forgotten. A Christmas morning when I got, not one, but two pairs of slippers. How could I have possibly forgotten that? I pulled the single tiny white slipper out of the chest, it's partner long since lost, and slipped it on my doll's foot. It fit perfectly, of course.