Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dossier problem fixed

Our dossier arrived back in Grand Rapids yesterday with all mistakes fixed. It will be on its way to Ethiopia early next week. Here are the next steps according to Bethany's dossier instructions:

1. Milkiyas receives the dossier and takes it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be authenticated.
2. The authenticated documents are translated into Amharic.
3. The translated documents are verified and registered in the Ministry of Justice, then presented to the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

The steps after this are a bit sketchy, but I assume we will officially be waiting on a referral. If anyone has additional details on the how referrals are made and who makes that decision, feel free to comment. There are so many people our documents touch, it's hard to fully understand what happens. But it's exciting that things are moving again!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Caroline, the camper

Our weekend camping trip with Caroline was a success. She played with her cousin Savannah, learned how to eat corn on the cob, and slept great for three nights in her pack 'n play in her very own tent. One night it got down to 55 degrees! Between the two families we had 6 tents - 4 for sleeping, 1 for gear and 1 for the kids to play.

The campground had a terrific playground, and we visited a farm with chickens, turkeys, guineas and goats running every which way. Caroline never actually touched the water, but she loved to say "Hiwassee."

The grown-ups tag-teamed the rivers: Tara and I paddled the Hiwassee two days, while Spence headed to the more lively Ocoee. Uncle Todd led all the girls on a 12-mile bike ride and skipped the rivers to run 8 miles.

The picture below of Caroline in a life jacket is actually after we got home when we took her wading in Roaring River. She insisted on eating her pudding in an "I do it" fashion.

It was a fun weekend. We look forward to doing it again.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dossier delay

Grand Rapids received our dossier back from D.C. today, but they made mistakes on the seals, so it has to go back for corrections. We were so diligent in our steps, I didn't consider other people -- people who do this for a living -- would mess it up. Bethany is asking them to correct it without any additional charge, so we'll see what happens.

We're going to take Little C on her debut camping trip this weekend. Yay! We'll see what happens. Pics coming soon...

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Adventures in babysitting

Caroline and I had a girls' weekend while Dad went on a canoe/camping trip. We spent Saturday morning gardening. This is a girl who's not afraid to get her hands (or arms) dirty.

Of course, we cleaned up the evidence before Dad got home.

In the afternoon, we met up with my girlfriends, Alana, LeeAnn, Jenny and Heather, and their kids and we went on a bike ride along Roaring River. With 4 bike trailers and 7 kids in tow, our legs got a good workout.

Then we came back to the house for a cookout: hotdogs, cheese, some unidentifiable pink drink and...

...a lot of ketchup.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fly, little bird! - part 2

We just got word that Grand Rapids deemed our dossier perfect. They will overnight it to Washington, D.C. tomorrow, where it will stay for about two weeks.

Getting closer...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fly, little bird!

This very moment (Monday, 7:25 p.m.), our dossier is somewhere in the air between Nashville and Grand Rapids. Hopefully its visit there will be short and it'll be on its way to D.C. for a brief layover, then on to Addis Ababa.

My trip to the Secretary of State building to authenticate our last document was an interesting close to our adoption paper chase. As I hiked up the hill to the building (because there's no parking within half a mile) and approached the entrance, I noticed a white van parked in front (where it says "no parking") with hood up and lots of wires trailing from the engine to the ground. I paused a moment to consider whether this mission was worth walking within 6 feet of a fully wired vehicle illegally parked in front of a state government high rise.

I think my blog buddies will agree - of course it was! I waited 9 weeks and 5 days for that last piece of paper and no potential WMD was getting in my way. None of the smokers milling around outside seemed alarmed, so I headed in to get my retinas scanned for access to the upper floors. Hmmm, strange security system.

I got my doc sealed within minutes and was on my way. Outside, the van was still there, but this time there were two distressed-looking ladies sitting in it, most likely waiting for AAA.

I'll still save this story, though, in case I ever need to remind our little one what I was willing to go through to bring him/her home.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Thanks, moms!

Today is a special day for us. We both admit that we didn't express our appreciation for our mothers nearly as much as we should have before Caroline came along. So today we want to tell our moms and the world (or whoever reads this blog) that we love you both! We wouldn't be the people or the parents we are today without your guidance, encouragement, patience and love. Hopefully, Caroline will benefit from the wisdom you passed to us.

And we appreciate all the things you still do for us today because, as we're learning, motherhood doesn't end when your kids fly the nest. We still count on you to make banana bread out of our brown bananas, help get the strawberry stains out of Caroline's shorts, host a toddler sleepover when we want to go to the river, make birthday cakes when we don't really need one, tell us to slow down and savor the moment because it doesn't last, and all the little things you do that we don't notice.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mom time

Caroline and I stayed home for some quality bonding while Spence went on a solo fishing trip on the plateau. We got up at 8a (she's a sleeper like her mama), had breakfast and went outside to play. We went to say "hi" to the horses and let them into the big field. We found that during the night they had removed the door to the hay stall. Apparently, one of them tried to bust into the stall and get some hay, got stuck, panicked and ripped the door off. Actually, they pulverized it into about 10 pieces. One more item for Spence's to-do list.

Mid-morning we drove to Gainesboro to stock up on grillers for tomorrow night's Mother's Day cookout. This grocery store doesn't have weird foods like avocado or artichokes, but I managed to find a few squash and mushrooms for our kabobs. We zipped to Dollar General to get some sand toys (since our bucket and shovel were in dad's truck) and a huge bottle of bubbles, then headed to Roaring River Park. Caroline played in the sand and graciously shared her toys with several other kids. She claimed the playground was "too hot" to touch, so she entertained herself by transferring sand to the sidewalk.

When toddler life started becoming a frustrating proposition and even bubbles didn't make it better, we went home for an overdue nap. She slept 3 hours, while I sat on the porch swing and read and enjoyed the beautiful weather. I hooked up the bike trailer and we rode the loop. It was my third time pulling the big hill with Caroline in tow but my first time doing it without stopping halfway up to die. Caroline chattered all the way to the top: "Trees!" "All gone" (meaning her milk)." "All fall down."

We got home and ate pizza and watermelon on the porch. Caroline is a bottomless watermelon pit. It makes for juicy diapers. Spence called as we were getting ready for a bath to say he was bringing home amazing pictures and a mess of fish.

It was a fun day. We were both wiped out. Caroline went straight from the bath to the stairs saying, "Bed."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


That's what we shout in the south when our I-171H arrives...after 9 weeks, 5 days! Finally, that huge stack of papers we've been collecting for 6 months is one step closer to Addis Ababa. I have to say it took me a while to find that tiny little "I-171H" on the single, unimpressive sheet of paper. There really should be more fanfare. At least a big, fat packet like you get when you're accepted to college. Spence thought we'd been rejected when he saw the small envelope.

My blog buddies are going to think I'm crazy, but I just got home from Nashville tonight and I don't think I'll get back til Monday. So yes, I'm going to sit on everything for two days instead of making a special trip. Gas is just too high!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bethany picnic

Bethany's Nashville office held its annual picnic for adoptive and waiting families this weekend. We had a great time meeting families -- international and domestic -- and boisterous kids of all ages. Caroline especially loved jumping in the inflatable playhouse (what do you call that thing?) and she held up great til 2p without a nap. I took a bunch of great pics that I shared with Bethany, but I won't post other families here for privacy sake.

After the picnic we went to TACA, the Tennessee Arts & Crafts festival, at Centennial Park so Spence could check out the work of fellow woodworkers. I'll post some of his creations here soon. It was a long day but fun! We got home to, no surprise, no I-171H. :-(