Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is my daughter a vegetarian?

I've had inklings that Caroline is not a meat lover, but tonight pretty much confirmed it. Our church has a Wednesday night potluck. I always make her a plate of kid-friendly, easy pick-up items like chicken nuggets and pizza. But tonight she would have no part of it. She wanted what was on my plate: edamame, chick peas and tomatoes. She's a girl after Aunt Al's heart. But she also has her mom's fondness for cheesecake.

Today, we had another homestudy meeting (our second). The last one is scheduled for next Tuesday. Yahoo! We also received a copy of our psychological exam results in the mail -- 5 typed pages of observations about Spence and me. I just read it and I'm pretty sure I've never been analyzed in that much detail. In short, though, we passed! We're still waiting on our fingerprint appointment. Our social worker says that Tennessee is pretty responsive, so hopefully the wait isn't long.

Happy birthday, niece Baylee. We love you!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Little step

We received a confirmation receipt for our I-600A application from the USCIS yesterday. In the world of adoption, this is a microstep. But we fellow future adoptive parents (FAPs) tend to regard these little pieces of paper on the same level as a visit from Ed McMahon. Basically it says that they strive to make a decision (i.e., provide the I-171H) within 8 weeks of receiving all paperwork and fingerprint clearance. So right now we're waiting on our fingerprinting appointment.

We'll have our homestudy home visit on February 5 and that will complete our homestudy visits. Little steps are good...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Still waiting

We're still waiting for the results of our psychological exams to be sent to our social worker. She wants those in hand before she'll schedule our homestudy home visit. He was supposed to send them over last week. I suppose he's getting us ready for all the waiting that's still to come.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Caroline dazzled me last night with her latest vocabulary advancement -- thanks to some help from Papa Connie and Mama Norma. With prompting by her dad, she can say her ABCs. Except that O is "no" and U is "shoe." Since I'm completely clueless about toddler milestones and when they occur, I feel okay about considering her a genius.

Spence is on a backpacking trip this weekend (yes, it's 16 degrees and he's crazy!), so Little C and I are staying cozy indoors with toys and silly movies. No hikes, no bikes, no boats. Just fuzzy blankets and hot chocolate!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Spence and I had a few hours between adoption-related appointments on Tuesday and decided to see the movie Juno. We both thought it was wonderful -- the acting, the screenwriting, the soundtrack. It's a comedy-drama. If you don't know what that is, you'll understand when you see it. It does cover a sensitive subject, so it's not appropriate for pre-teens (Steven, do you hear me?). We give it two thumbs up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Are we normal?

We cleared three hurdles in our adoption pursuit this week:

1. The Bethany-required psychological exam. It took about 2 1/2 hours and consisted of an individual interview, the Myers-Briggs personality test and a 350-item personality test.

2. Our first homestudy meeting. This was our first real conversation with our social worker, and she's great! We got guidance on filing our I-600A with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. This is like a pre-qualification step -- you're basically asking the government for permission to adopt. The process includes getting fingerprinted, so once we file the forms we will be anxiously awaiting our fingerprinting appointment. We hope to finish our homestudy visits this month and use February to compile our dossier.

3. Bethany training. In addition to the Hague online training (which we completed a week or so ago), Bethany requires additional training: two 2-hour sessions at their offices with other families who plan to adopt internationally and six email sessions. Last night we discussed grief and loss and adjusting once our child comes home. One interesting tidbit we learned: it is recommended that the adoptive parents be the ONLY caregivers for a while to help the child bond. They weren't specific about how long, but I can imagine how hard that will be. I read about one family who did not allow anyone else to hold their child or change a diaper for three months! Hmmm, I'll have to think about that one. I want to do what's best, of course, but it may take some serious weaponry to hold off the grandparents.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Six canoeists, three kayakers & one beautiful day to be on the Tellico

It's hard to believe nine people would willingly splash down a river in 45 degrees. But there was a lot of capilene, wool, fleece and Gortex between us and the water.

And it's a good thing...

...because most of us...
...spent a little time swimming!
And yes, Todd can roll his canoe back up.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One More Christmas

We celebrate Christmas with my dad this Saturday. We'll go to Maggiano's for a family-style Italian lunch, to Sunrise (our Nashville house) to trade gifts, then to Pleasant View to cheer on Jesi's wrestling team. Caroline is staying with Nana and Papaw the rest of the weekend so Spence and I can have a date. Of course, our definition of date is different from most. We'll probably go to the Tellico or a Cumberland Plateau river with fellow paddlers during the day and watch reruns of The Office at night. How married are we?

This is me on the Tellico River last spring.

This is Spence (and his brother Todd) on the upper Tellico.

Then we head back to Nashville on Monday to be poked, prodded and grilled about our adoption intentions (e.g., psych test). We'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Homeowner Woes

Yesterday morning I tiptoe down the hall to take a shower before Caroline wakes up. I reach through the curtain and turn on the water, then stand around waiting for the water to warm up. (Note: my husband doesn't do that. He just gets in while it's still cold. But that's another story.)

Something doesn't quite sound right, so I peek inside. The bottom of the tub is full of rust-colored water. No big deal. It is an old house* with old pipes, and I hadn't showered there since before Christmas. So I'm standing there, waiting, and something breaks loose. From outside the tub I see water shooting all over the ceiling and hear it hitting the window. I try to get in so I can inspect the situation more closely, but water is spraying the entire shower curtain...and now my bathroom.

The deal is, a couple of years ago I installed one of those extension showerheads. The house was apparently built when people were only 4 feet tall. This extension makes it possible to stand up straight and still be in the water stream. But over the last year, it has been springing little leaks.

I finally duck in and realize that water is spraying from every point of the extention, but the only water coming through the actual head is one skin-piercing needle that clearly won't get the job done. I reach up and swipe at the showerhead. Apparently that dislodges more rust. The ceiling stream stops and a few more holes in the showerhead spring to life. I manage to finish up, all the while composing in my head a honey-do list for my handy husband.

So, end of story? Not quite.

This morning I planned to cripple through one more shower before Spence comes with the wrench. As I sit on the potty, I reach through and turn on the water. Three seconds later a fine mist is raining down on me, the potty, the entire bathroom. New jets splatter the ceiling and the window, and soon my entire bathroom looks like I drove it through a car wash.

But, for some stupid reason, I ignore all of this and climb in. This time the pitiful flow from the showerhead is supplemented by all the water dripping off the ceiling. I have no idea why I didn't abandon tub. I guess it was just too funny to see it raining indoors. I've always wanted one of those showerheads that gets you from all angles. Now I have it!

*This is my house in Nashville, where Caroline and I stay when I'm working Mon-Wed.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Real Ethiopian Journey

Since our news on the adoption front is a little slow right now, you might want to check out Journey2Number4. The Bryants are in Addis Ababa right now picking up their daughter. They have been blogging every day with pictures and stories, which provide a lot of perspective on what it will be like to travel there. They leave to come home Tuesday.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hague Complete!

I finished the Hague training on Friday. I was so excited to see that "Congratulations!" window. For those of you taking it, there's one module that takes a little over three hours. Once you complete that, it's easy sailing. A lot of times, I turned up the volume and listened to the video insights while I fixed dinner or piddled in the kitchen. I saved all the resources for Spence to read and for later reference.

Yesterday, we went to Virgin Falls, an 8-mile out and back that's downhill to the falls and uphill back to the trailhead. It took about 6 hours, and I feel every bit of that walk today. Caroline got a little cold on her last hike, so we layered up her feet: Smartwool socks, footed PJs, Mama's Smartwool socks and Lockness Monster slippers from her Uncle Steve.

She was a real trooper as usual. She didn't even fuss when we changed her diaper in the low 40-degree air.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Don't Buy This Book

I sat down to watch a little of the late Today Show while I ate lunch. They were promoting a new diet book called "Never Say Diet." Since my mind is on shaping up, I listened to the pitch. But instead of feeling inspired, it ticked me off. Aside from the clever title, this book doesn't say anything different from the thousands of other weight-loss books. But the pitch tries to make you think, "This is the one that's going to change my life. I must buy!"

As I listened, the author talked about eating fresh instead of processed foods. Duh! And getting off your butt and moving 30 minutes a day. Haven't we heard all this somewhere before? Like in the 10 other motivational, lose-weight-without-dieting books that sit on our bookshelves collecting dust. The only motivation they provide is to get out the Pledge every now and then.

The pastor at our church recently gave a sermon entitled, "Just Do It." It was about doing the things you need to do to be a better Christian. I love to apply that sermon to all areas of my life that need improvement. We know what we need to do, but we're paralyzed by good intentions. And we're distracted by the preparation. Buying that book (preparation!) is not going to make you lose weight. Neither is reading it. The only way you're going to succeed is to DO what it says. And you already know what it says -- it's right there in the diet book you bought last year.

Just do it! I can't think of a better motivational phrase than that. Unless of course you're thinking about fudge.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ringing in the New Year

Our New Year's Eve Open House was a lot of fun. We had a smaller crowd than expected -- about 30 adults and 6 kids (5 of them under age 2) -- but it was the perfect size to visit with each guest. I always worry about making sure everyone feels welcome and included, but as host, it's hard to do when you're emptying trash cans, heating up dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets for the kids, and reprimanding your toddler for un-decorating the Christmas tree.

Spence and I really appreciate those who made the trek to our house in the dark on fairly sketchy directions. And we're very sorry for the one church member who never quite found us. We live in the boondocks, where road signs are commonly stolen and directions tend to go like this: Pass the big green water tower, go about three barn lengths and turn right at the stone chimney where the Smith farmhouse used to be.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Resolve

I've never been a fan of New Year's Resolutions. I've always been of the mind that if you want to make a fresh start, do it now. Why wait til January 1? So in June I resolved to lose the rest of my baby weight -- about 8 pounds -- by year end. Like a lot of resolutions, that date came and went. My daughter is approaching 16 months and here I sit, resting my laptop on legs that still won't fit into my pre-baby jeans.

You see, pregnancy does a lot of things to a woman's body, especially a body that is 15 years past prime childbearing years. It doesn't bounce back like a 21-year-old's. And it doesn't help that my strategy until now has revolved solely around exercising the pounds off. (I type this as I eat leftover Christmas fudge.) I just have a hard time accepting that I'm going to have to change my eating habits too.

So, despite my feelings about resolutions, I am renewing my goal of getting fit and getting back in my favorite jeans. I'm excited about this resolution because it's not just about me. It's about spending more time with Spence and Caroline, going on adventures, hiking and biking. And, believe me, taking her along in a backpack or bike trailer is an excellent workout. It's also about spending less and enjoying what we have. As we prepare for the big expenses associated with adoption, we aim to spend our money only on the things we really need -- and that doesn't include bigger blue jeans!