Monday, April 28, 2008

Potpourri of thoughts

May 1 is our 4th anniversary. This weekend Spence and I went to east Tennessee to celebrate while Nana kept Little C. We had a grand time boating, grilling out, sleeping in a wonderful cabin overlooking the Hiwassee River, waking up to rain and lazing around all morning drinking coffee, hiking along Citico Creek (see pics below), my all-time favorite scenic hike, and just jabbering in the car on the 7-hour round-trip drive. Even after 5+ years together, we have so much to talk about and I still think my husband is the greatest!

We were glad to get back home to C, although she had grown somewhat attached to Nana and was reluctant to let her leave.

On the adoption front, I wrote USCIS to inquire about our I-171H. I got the answer I expected: "Our current workload has necessitated our processing being moved to 10 weeks." So there you go. We wait... On the bright side, some of my blogging buddies have had the opportunity to meet and visit with Bethany's in-country director and the director of Yezelalem Minch, the Ethiopian orphanage that Bethany is working with. Both men are visiting the U.S. from Ethiopia. You can read about their visit on Holly's blog.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bike tour - wildflowers part 2

This weekend, Spence, Caroline and I took a little detour from our usual bike loop to see some of the rarer wildflowers in the valley. The only ones I can actually identify are the bluebells.

I also got my herbs in the ground. After last year's deer and groundhog raid on my tomatoes, I'm sticking to herbs until we can get a fence around the garden. I plan to freeze enough pesto to get through next winter.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mother lode in Watertown

This morning I crawled out of bed at 6a and drove to Watertown, TN to the annual mile-long yard sale. I was a bit skeptical that I'd find good stuff. You know how those annual neighborhood sales can be -- people have long since purged their treasures and moved on to their broken coffee pots and mismatched glassware.

But this was yard sale heaven! Junk as far as the eye could see. My mission was toys for Caroline. I've been feeling bad about how slim her inventory has gotten. And I know I'd feel even worse if I boxed up the rattles, cloth books and link-a-doos that she hasn't touched in months. So I put on my walking shoes and did the entire mile, which is at least two miles because you gotta tote all the loot back to your car, sometimes in several trips. The seasoned salers, I quickly figured out, pulled Radio Flyers. Or those little upright rolling baskets, the kind my grandmother used to take her clothes to the apartment laundry room.

By 10a my car was stuffed. Here are some of my larger finds, all for about $20. And yes, I'm obsessed with tables and chairs. But Caroline is obsessed with coloring, so a good match. (One of these items is for your house, Mama Norma. Guess which one! Think art.)

I love the old school desk. And it blends right in with our rustic decor.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The powerlessness of suggestion

I'm starting to think that parenting is mostly about outsmarting your little one. They're constantly tossing you curve balls and you have to figure out over and over how to regain control.

For example, if I go to the pantry and start naming healthy dinner suggestions, hoping to get a little toddler input, she shoots them down one by one. "Would you like some green beans?" "No." "Carrots?" "No." "Peas." "No." She loves all these things, but what she loves more is having veto power. Spence says, don't ask, just put it on her tray. But that's almost certain to invite rejection.

So, one day, in a rare moment of genius, I casually set a container of carrots on the counter (how 'bout that alliteration?) I didn't say a word, just waited for her little eagle eyes to spot them. Worked like a charm. Whose idea was it -- Mama's or Caroline's?

I'm sure there's a textbook out there with tricks like that, but until I find it, I'll take credit for this one.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Getting notarized, certified, authenticated and copied**

While we await our I-171H, I decided to get all our other docs certified (in which the County Clerk certifies that the notary who notarized the doc is indeed a notary), authenticated and state sealed (in which the Secretary of State certifies that the County Clerk who certified the notary is indeed the County Clerk) and copied (in which I stand in front of a copy machine for two hours and copy a stack of stapled docs that cannot be unstapled lest the state seal be voided). For those of you about to prepare your dossiers, here are a couple of things I learned:

Certification - Not all states require this. If yours does, I suggest calling ahead to the County Clerk's office and giving the notary department a list of all your notaries and how many docs he/she notarized. They can prepare the paperwork, and all they have to do is staple their sheet to each of your docs when you arrive. Otherwise, you could wait hours or be asked to come back. I also recommend you ask the clerk to double check the notaries' expiration date against their records. One of my notaries wrote in the wrong date.

Authentication - I've been told you can't call ahead to the Secretary of State. You just have to go. I've also been told morning is less busy -- but bring a book. I waited about half an hour. Here, you have to get your docs "authenticated" or "state sealed," NOT "apostilled" as this is a requirement of Ethiopia. Your SoS should be aware of this. If you have out-of-state docs like birth certificates, they have to be authenticated in those states, so you may have to mail them off. I would recommend doing that right away -- my birth certificate has still not come back from the Alabama Secretary of State. **Added: Holly says make copies before you state seal. This is good advice so you don't have to contend with as many staples. Wish I'd done that!

Copied - You can't unstaple anything so copying takes a while. I'm glad I got it done because when that golden ticket arrives, I plan to go directly downtown -- not to Kinko's!

Good luck!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bike tour - wildflowers

Roaring River Valley is pretty amazing even when the trees are bare, but it's downright spectacular when the wildflowers arrive. I took these today on my 10-mile loop around our house.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

International families mix it up

Last night our agency held a mixer for middle Tennessee families adopting internationally. It was our first meeting, so the group was small. We represented China, Russia, Lithuania, Philippines and Ethiopia. There was an adorable 2-year-old little girl from China who had been home for a year. She had been a child of promise and was doing remarkably well. She and Caroline had a blast running up and down the halls and showing off.

We learned about Vanderbilt's International Adoption Clinic. They specialize in health care for children adopted internationally. Twice a year they hold a 4-hour seminar to teach adopting families about preparing for their child, fostering attachment and development, and planning for medical needs. I'm eager to sign up this fall. Here's a link about the clinic.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Caroline was tagged... her blog friend Ellie in Michigan.

Here are 5 things about me:

1. I love tractors - Papa's lawn tractor, Dad's big tractor, my little John Deere, any old, rusty piece of farm equipment I see in a field. My second word (after "kitty") was tractor. Maybe I'll be a farmer one day.

2. My favorite letter is "S". I shout out "S" whenever I see it - on stop signs, tv commercials, in books, etc.

3. When I get full or if I don't want something on my tray, I jettison it right over the side. When I was little I used to say, "Lodelo," which was my own made-up word meaning, "I don't want this pea (or whatever food) anymore. Please take it off my tray immediately or I will dump it overboard."

4. I ride 200 miles in the car every week -- 100 miles to Nashville on Mondays and 100 miles back home on Wednesdays so my mom can work at her office. But it means I get to see my Nana every week, and if I'm good I can watch Barney on the car DVD player.

5. I'm a fruit and veggies girl. I love all things green: avocado, peas, green beans, green peppers, green olives, spinach, broccoli, grapes. I like cake too!

I'm a little sketchy on tag rules, but if it's allowed I tag a few of our favorite furry friends (and one finned one): Tiger, Tucker, Cora, Mya, Daisy, Bob Laurence and Crispy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Referral wait times

I was perusing Ethiopian adoption blogs a couple nights ago -- ones I don't typically look at but which link from my favorites. I was shocked to see that one family, who's about the same stage as us, is anticipating a referral wait time of 18 months. And this one is through a well-known agency with an established Ethiopia program. The writer acknowledged that wait times vary by agency, but 18 months??

I know y'all are looking ahead for a link to this blog so you can see it for yourself. Sorry, I didn't save it. I do that all the time -- find an interesting blog then forget where it is.

I've got a meeting tomorrow with our SW to go over our dossier docs and make sure everything is in order. I'm comtemplating going ahead and getting everything great sealed too, so if I get there and something is amiss I can get it fixed while we wait, wait, wait on the I-171H. Friday will be 5 weeks. I'll also ask her if she has any information she can share about referral progress.