Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Random Stuff

Ok, so I'm really, really tired and have lots to write about so I'm cramming it all into one post and calling it "random stuff". I have no creativity left in my body; it has all been sucked out by the adoption process.

Today, I wrote thank you notes which were embarrassingly late. I purchased an additional converter, just in case I blow up the one Kat is loaning me I'll have a backup. We learned last time that they are pretty much impossible to come by in country. I picked up tissue paper and curly ribbon for the gift bags for the gifts we were asked to bring. The "new bills" are ready for pick-up. I managed to get the final gift -- one for the orphanage director. I'd love to tell you what it is, but sadly I don't remember. I got another pack of space saver bags as I'm going to try to get my clothes picked out and space bagged this weekend. I'll just have to wear something else the rest of the week.

Shannon asked me about how Skype works. This is something I was very curious (and afraid) about before I used it as well. I spent a lot of time wondering what equipment was needed, how much it really cost, etc. So, for Shannon, here is a brief synopsis of how it worked for us. I downloaded the free software from www.skype.com . After that, I purchased $10 of airtime via the same site. I did not buy a headset or receiver or anything as my computer has a microphone built it. After downloading, your system will guide you through making a test call to see if it's set up properly. That's it. If you want to call a land line or cell phone, it was $.02 a minute. I think there is a per call charge as well, maybe $.10??? If you are calling another computer that has Skype it is free -- yes, FREE!!!! Yay. We now both have webcams on our computers, so when we call each other's computer, we can see each other. It will be fantastic while I'm away. If you have more questions, let me know, I'll try to answer them.

I'm getting more and more excited every day.

Oh, and another topic. Regular readers will remember my recent post about Joshua's artwork about the assassignation of Teddy Roosevelt by erasers. WELL .... thanks to A., I realized that the reason I was asked to sign it was not because he was drawing in social studies class, but because he had drawn a gun. *sigh* Before anyone becomes defensive, I fully understand that teachers have a role to help protect the children in school and that recent series of school shootings have made them cautious. I also realize they don't know all the families of their students, their home life, their true feelings, etc. But, come on.

When I went in to ask the teacher about it during my volunteer time on Monday, I told her I felt like a fool. After all, I asked for it back to put on my refrigerator!!! She said she realized that Josh had not done it for any malicious reason, but that they are supposed to take it to a guidance counselor and the principal. Oh.My.Goodness.

What a sad world we are living in when ten-year-old boys can't draw pictures of things like guns. Funny thing is, I asked both Braiden and Kirstin to look at the picture and tell me why Josh might have gotten in trouble for drawing this. Even after prompting, neither of them could figure out that is was because he drew a gun. When I told them why, they confirmed what Josh told me, "All the boys draw pictures of guns." I did explain to his teacher that this way of thinking was so incredibly foreign to me that I would have NEVER understood why it was a big deal if A. hadn't told me. I told her to be more specific for me in the future. We just don't think like that, I guess.

I'm headed to bed. I've had a splitting headache and neck ache ALL day. I could use a massage, I think. I'll have to make do with a Motrin. *smile*

10 Days

We are in our last day in double digits. Tomorrow, the countdown gets really exciting as we will enter single digits.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Skype and Webcam - Check

Because leaving my family for two weeks during such an important time in our lives is going to be hard, we decided we'd keep in touch via Skype and a webcam. Using these two items we can call each other (FREE!!) and see each other. They can also see Ellie which I think will make them even more excited for us to return home. It will also allow Jennifer to stay in contact with her family while we are gone.

So, while my laptop has a web cam built in, Kevin's did not. Today, we solved that problem and tested out our Skype calling features. It works beautifully. The great thing is that I bought a "combo" package that had a free web cam included in it for the same price as one. While my mother said she didn't need one, since I have this free one, I'm going to install it so I can talk with them and let them see Ellie while we are there.

So, another big item is marked off the "To Do" list. YAY!! I also picked up a few snacks for the trip as well.

I am getting terribly excited now!!

11 Days !!!!!!! The Amazing Race

Is time ticking more quickly or what??? 11 days!!!! Unbelievable!!

Yesterday I worked on my work paperwork all day. Late in the evening, I began to gather up all the documents I'll need to take with me to "spring" Ellie from her country. I have I-600 forms, visa applications, powers of attorney in about 20 different formats (really, only two, but three copies of each), copies of Kevin's passport, photos of him with Ellie during Trip 1, copies of tax returns for the past three years, copies of my homestudy and most recent employment letters.

Copies, copies, copies!!

Toward the end, my printer started to warn me that my black ink is low. No surprises there.
As far as I can tell, my paperwork is all complete and ready to go. Another task complete.

Kevin and Josh had a great time camping out with the football team this weekend, but they were both so tired that they both were asleep by 9:00 Sunday night. Of course, that was more quiet time for me to be getting my work done. I'm hopeful that this week I'll get most of it caught up so I won't be leaving things undone for my friend Susan to do.

I've begun perusing through my book What to Expect the First Year. Granted, a lot of it jsut doesn't apply in our case since we are in a "non-tradition" situation, but it is indoctrinating me back into a world I haven't been in for quite a while.

Last night was the season premier of The Amazing Race: 13. Kevin, Josh and I love this show. I'm very excited about the participants this year and can't wait to see how it all plays out. The DVR is set to record while I'm gone so I can watch it in the wee hours of the morning while Ellie and I are recovering from our jet lag at 3 a.m. together, hopefully cuddling on the couch. *smile* I would LOVE to be on the Amazing Race sometime and I know Kevin would. Maybe one day we can do that!!! We'd definitely make for some entertaining TV. Girls, stop nodding your heads, ok!
I suppose Jennifer and I, along with Elizabeth and her mom, are pretty soon going to embark on our own Amazing Race. Six airplanes, five countries, four adults, one toddler, one infant, twelve days. Definitely amazing!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy 6 Month Birthday, Ellie!

Dear Ellie,

I wanted to wish you a happy six month birthday in person. I wanted to hold you, sing to you, read you books and do fun things with you today. I thought for certain I would have you by now. I suspect today will pass for you like all the others, but you can be CERTAIN, this is the last milestone you will have pass by with no one around to celebrate it with you. In sixteen days, I will be entering the gates of the orphanage where you are today, scooping you out of the crib and never letting you go again. You will be part of our family forever. I promise you that we will love you unconditionally. You will be held, loved, laughed with, cried over, prayed for and taken care of. An entire community on the other side of the world awaits your arrival with incredible anticipation. You have been prayed for for so long by so many people -- even before you were born. Your MeeMee, DeeDee and Nana all pray for you every day and wait with such excitement to see and hold you. You have Aunts, Uncles, and cousins who are all so excited to meet you. An entire church family is waiting to love you; friends of our family; neighbors. You are wanted and loved. You are our tiny little princess, and we are coming to get you very soon. If I could be there today, I promise you, I would.

We love you very, very much.
Happy Birthday, Princess Ellie

Mama, Daddy and Big Brother Josh

12 Days

Time is whipping by very quickly now. My friend Jennifer warned me this would happen.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


After the football game today I helped my mom photograph a wedding. The bride was beautiful and the groom so handsome! Mom just sent me some of the photos from the wedding and they were really pretty so I thought I'd share a few of them.

I can't wait to see all the rest of them that all of us took!

Saturday Football

Josh's football team played again today and won their game against the Cowboys 36-0. Josh only played about half the game since the second string players played a lot today. It's always nice when they get to play a lot as well since they come to practice every week and work hard too.

Here are a few photos of Josh (#74) from today. I only have one more game before I leave. I will miss two of his games while I'm away and that makes me really sad. I have never missed any of his football games since he started playing (at least that I remember). It's one of the things I feel strongly about (personally) as a mom -- that it's important to be at his games and school events and whatever he is doing.

When I return, his team will be in the playoffs the next day. I don't think I'm "jinxing" anything there, as it's pretty certain that will happen. Round two and/or Superbowl is still up in the air.


Friday when I went to the mailbox, there was a package addressed to Josh and Ellie. It still takes me back a bit to see mail addressed to Ellie. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but it's a true reality check to see that.

It was from our friends, The Mays, who live in Atlanta. You might remember (those of you who are "regulars" here) that Diane was the friend I met a while back on my way through Atlanta. She and I met right after Kevin and I got married (14 years ago now) when we were on a chat group for cat owners. It's amazing to me that our long-distance friendship has survived so long. However, I am very glad it has because I think we are kindred souls.

I digress.

The Mays sent (way too many) goodies in the box. Josh got a "grown-up" care package which included a water bottle (NEEDED as he broke or lost his last one at school), a multi-purpose tool that has a thermometer, magnifying glass, compass and whistle all in one (Yes, Diane, the whistle DOES work. *sigh* and he thinks this is the most wonderful invention in the world), a knife, a flashlight (currently being used to read books in the car) and a "Boy" book. I was thinking as he unwrapped all this that it is amazing to me how she knows exactly what a ten (almost eleven) year old boy would LOVE and she has a girl. Hmmmm.... see she's a smart one!!

The box also included a lot of goodies for Ellie including some awesome hair clips (going on the trip with me for sure!!), a Princess Elephant "lovey" (also likely going with us), a Lamaze Elephant that has a "baby" elephant on the end of the trunk. You pull the baby away from the mama and it starts to play music and pulls the baby back to the mama. SO cute!!! There was also a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" blanket and toy that are adorable. Josh actually remembered me reading that book to him as a little boy and mentioned it when he saw those.

So, again, Diane has hit it out of the park (not a surprise here!). She included a note that the Princess' goodies had also been washed!! to save me some work. Now, that is a friend!!

Thank you, Diane, Butch and Kathryn for thinking of both Josh and Ellie. It means so much to us to have you guys as friends!!!

Go Pub*lix!!

We joined the Baby Club at Pu*blix Grocery (you can do it online) and got a TON of coupons. They come each month. I had some that were due to expire soon (the first batch) so before dinner last night, Josh and I went to Pu*blix to rack up on goodies!!

We had a coupon to buy one can of formula, get a box of 16 travel pouches free (a $9.50 value and perfect for me!!), two BOGO free coupons for Huggies wash/lotion/shampoo, a BOGO free coupon for Pub*lix wipes refills, a $1.50 off 8 jars of baby food (which was already on sale), a $1.50 off Huggies wipes (also on sale), free hand sanitizer, a free cocoa butter lotion and a coupon for $5 off a $30 purchase. We got all the below items for $40. Considering a can of formula is $25.59, I'm pretty pleased with my bargains!!

Had a Great Friday Night

Kevin was out of town at a training session Friday/Saturday so Josh and I met up with A. and her peeps AP and C at Mimi's Cafe in H'ville. A. put it in a cute way. She said it felt like internet dating *smile* since we had never met except reading each other's blog online. We had a great time and they brought WAY TOO MANY presents for Josh and Ellie.

When we arrived AP was pushing a stroller filled with presents for Ellie. C. had a pretty wrapped box for E. as well. We let all the kids have a part of opening the box and inside was the most beautiful soft gown for Ellie. It's pink with lace and ribbons with a bonnet. There is a drawstring bottom. It is so incredibly soft, like a brushed cotton or flannel. All of the kids had fun trying on the bonnet. If you want to see photos of that, visit A's blog, since I didn't even take a camera (DUH!!!). I did "steal" this one from her blog so I'd have something to post. Doesn't Josh look happy? In another one, we moved he and AP to the middle but he was looking off in it. By this time, he was ready to go to Books*A*Million to look for a new book he wanted.

We were lucky to have a round booth because all three kids played in the seats, laying down, climbing over each other and under the table. It was funny!! AP modeled some of the gifts they got for Ellie and she was so cute!!! All the people in the restaurant were going on about how
cute she is -- and they were right.

The stroller was chock full of goodies for Ellie -- links, rattle, pacifiers (the kind AP likes so hopefully they will be perfect for Ellie), an "Ellie-phant", a Halloween hat, bib and socks, three pair of "frilly socks", wipes, hand sanitizer, formula/snack container, and AP's favorites: Gerber puffs!! What a wonderful goodie basket!! To top it ALL off, they were so kind to remember Josh and brought him a Target gift card. He is beside himself with excitement about going to get something!! Thank you so much, guys. We had a blast last night. We have to do this again when I get back with Ellie. Maybe next time the hubs will be able to come as well and we can get some girl talk time in!!

We were also the recipients of a high chair and diaper pail from them as well. We are excited since those were two things we didn't have. We've been so fortunate to have such good friends who have shared so many things with us for Ellie!

Stay tuned for the post about goodies that Josh and Ellie got in the mail from our dear friends, The Mays, in Georgia.


Lucky 13 days. I have LOTS to post about lots of fun and goodies from yesterday but I don't have time just now to post. I have a very busy day today and will try to get photos and updates done sometime this weekend.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pig Lickers

I'm on my way home from taking Josh, Braiden and Kirstin to school when I hear a story on the local radio. Apparently, there is a new carnival/fair food item available -- a delicacy, of course, right up there with funnel cakes and meat on a stick. Pig Lickers. Let your mind go wild a while trying to conjure up an image of what that might be. I've got a little time; I'll wait.



So, Pig Lickers are chocolate covered bacon pieces. Yes, I saw you snarl your nose and go "eyew" just like I did. Who in the WORLD came up with this?

Apparently, it was served at the Minnesota State Fair. A link to the story can be found here.
For those of you interested in photos and a blog post on how to make your own, check out this blog.
I am always glad I can continue to bring you the latest in trends (Pig Lickers) and historical data along with current art trends (Teddy Roosevelt). When it can't be found anywhere else, be sure to check here. *smile*

Two Weeks

14 days. Two weeks. 336 hours.
I'm becoming more excited as each day passes.
As I once stated, each day has an "assignment" and by completing each of them, I'll have all things done that need to be done and ready to travel.
Yesterday I worked in the field from 7:30 - 7:30. I was SO tired. Kevin got the new bill situation taken care of so we can mark that off our list. Today and all of this weekend, I have paperwork running out of my ears. Kevin has a conference to attend. Josh and I are going to meet A. and her family tonight. I am SO excited to meet AP and C after reading about them on her blog for a year now! We have team pictures for football Saturday morning, a football game and I am helping my mom photograph a wedding that afternoon. Kevin and Josh have a football camp out Saturday night Saturday -- shot. Sunday we have church and then that evening our church is going to see Fireproof -- the new movie. Sunday -- gone. So, before I blink my eyes good, I'm at Monday and down to 11 days. Incredible. The next weekend is very similar. I promised Josh we'd go for "one last fling" to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua on Friday night, football on Saturday, birthday dinner with my dad Saturday night, church on Sunday, Kevin has a church meeting and Jennifer and I are going out to get our snacks and last minute items.
TWO WEEKS!! I'm coming, Ellie!!!! I am getting SO excited to see and hold you again. It's been so long ...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Teddy Roosevelt's Assassination

Some blog posts just scream in my head to be posted and will not relent until I capture it in words. THIS is one such post.

I worked a long day today. Josh had football practice until 7:30. Kevin had mentioned they had not had dinner yet and I was way too tired to try to cook after working 12 hours so I suggested that we go to the local Mexican restaurant. This was met with hearty hurrahs. At dinner, Kevin said to Josh, "Do you want to show her or do you want me to?" These are words that strike fear into every mother's heart. Those of you who have older children understand fully. Your mind starts to race about what in the world it could be this time.

Kevin gets Josh's Case-it organizer out (he has it at the dinner table since he's working on some homework) and starts to dig through it. My mind is racing: he failed a test; he got detention; he wrote an ugly note to somebody -- what, what, what????

And out comes a drawing. "A drawing?" I think. Hmmmm.... THEN I read the note from the teacher that says, "This is what Josh was doing during social studies." There is a sticker that says, "Please sign and return" with a line out beside it. Ahhh.... "Think fast" I tell myself. No one is moving, or speaking at the table, waiting to see what my reaction will be.

"What exactly is it?" I say, trying to take it all in at once?


"Ummmm.... what? I mean I see something that looks a little like a gun with what looks like the words Pecan Trap on it. I think this is a limousine, right?" I don't mention the stick man riding what appears to be a dinosaur.

"Yes. [hold on to your seats here, folks, here's where it gets good] It's a limousine and that's the Death Ray gun and that's a picture of when Teddy Roosevelt got assassinated. It's what we were studying in Social Studies. Those aren't bullets. They are erasers coming out of the gun."

Oh. Right. Don't laugh, I tell myself. Do.Not.Laugh.

I look at him as straight-faced as I can and I say, "Honey, Teddy Roosevelt was not assassinated. It was Abraham Lincoln."

"Nope," he says, "It was Teddy Roosevelt. He was riding in a limo."

Kevin jumps in to save both of us [true history buffs that Josh and I are] and says, "It was John F. Kennedy that was shot riding in a limousine." He's right, of course, but since then I've wondered, "How does Joshua know that???" They are in the Civil War so I doubt they've gotten that far.

I signed the paper and wrote a note to the teacher that I spoke with him about it and told him to listen in class.

At least he has a great imagination. I keep thinking back to the stories my mom used to tell of all the times she got in trouble at school for drawing on all her papers. And, look, she became an artist.

I just hope Josh doesn't decide to do historical art or they might have to re-write history.

By the way, Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep of a pulmonary embolism on January 6, 1919. According to all sources I can find, it did not involve erasers.


360 hours. Time is ticking. We are almost to the two week mark.

Yesterday I got to baby-sit for my friend Michelle's baby, Caleb. He is nine-months old. I had a blast with him. GRANTED, I will admit, I knew he was only staying a couple of hours and so there was less pressure. We played, he ate lunch, we played more. He cleaned my floors by commando crawling all over them. His dad asked if we put a swifter on his belly. *smile* He laughed and smiled the entire time. I was so busy playing with him that I didn't even take any pictures. Silly me.

It was, honestly, though a reality check for Kevin and I about how much "dangerous" stuff we have in our house for a baby. Now, I don't mean things like chemicals or that, but knick-knacks, coffee tables with pointy edges, furniture with doors to pinch little fingers, small items suitable to choking hazards -- and on and on it goes. So... I feel certain that after we return home the baby-proofing will begin.

I didn't make a lot of progress on other things yesterday. Today, I have to work 7a-7p in the field so I won't get anything other than work done today either.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

16 Days

Let me just state for the record: space saver bags work. I've managed to flatten out all of Ellie's clothes and blankets, fit in a pack of diapers and still have a little more room in Ellie's suitcase. I also still have around 7-8 more pounds available. WHOO HOOO!!!
Things I still need to accomplish before leaving:
1. Write thank you notes.
2. Copy tax returns from last three years.
3. Check to see if I need additional passport photos for visa application.
4. Buy webcam and install Skype on Kevin's computer and my mom's computer.
5. Print and fill out Kyrg visa application.
6. Get new bills.
7. Get prescriptions for Ellie.
8. Finish up all work before I leave.
Manageable, I think, even in addition to the regular life activities that go on each day.

Moving Along

Each day I have a small list of things to accomplish. By doing so, I will hopefully be ready to leave when it's time. Today's list was to inspect 30 houses, buy gifts and call the doctor for prescriptions for Ellie. Two out of three "ain't" bad, I guess. I never made it around to calling the doctor.
I did, however, get the jobs inspected. Tomorrow I'll either do more in the morning or do the paperwork for these. I'm really tired now, so I'm not sure which.

I bought all the gifts, except the one for the orphanage director. I couldn't find anything that seemed just right for her.

I got a letter from our agency requesting KL*M allow us to take one additional piece of luggage with the orphanage donations. I've sent them an email asking about this. I also probably should check with North*west since they are the American counterpart.

I also got four space bags and I will try, very soon, to see if I can squeeze Ellie's clothing into them.

I had a fun thing happen yesterday too -- Ellie got her first piece of mail address to her. How shocking it was to see her name in print on a piece o mail -- just like a real person (which, of course, she is!!). It took me aback just a little bit to see it. It was her insurance card. Somehow, it made it all the more real.

Each day brings about a new set of emotions for me. It's like unwrapping a box each morning to find a surprise waiting there for you. Today's thoughts running through my mind were a bit sad. I'm being honest here, because I don't remember ever reading (during my blog stalking period where I read anything anyone wrote about Kryg adoptions -- ha, like I don't still!!) about how people were actually dealing with the emotions that come about as a result of adoption. So, I'm baring my soul here, after talking to some other adoptive parents to make sure it's "normal" to be feeling what I am. The good news is, like I told a friend, by the time the day is over, I will have worked through that day's emotions and tomorrow will bring a new set.

Anyway, today I realized I only have 17 more days with my family as it is now. The three of us, our current family, will be forever changed when I step off the plane on October 24. We will have become a family of four. And, honestly, that scares me a little. I don't have any experience here about what this will be like. We've grown comfortable in our roles -- even when things aren't all rosy, we are still comfortable in what our roles are, how we will react and secure in our love for one another. Now, we are adding an unknown element to our world. What will that look like? What will the "new normal" be? After all, they are handing over a baby to us who knows nothing about us and we know little to nothing about her. I know, without a doubt, that she will fit into our family and that we won't be able to imagine our lives without her -- in a while. I just don't know what getting to that place is going to look like. When we had Josh, we were young and stupid. Now, well, we are just old and stupid, but we know more about what to expect and how hard it can be to have a baby in the house. I think, however, knowing is better. While you can never be fully prepared, we are more prepared than before.

So... today's thoughts were on what the "new normal" will be -- how we will deal and cope with that and how in the world we get from "not a clue" about each other to a family of four.

Lest anyone think differently though, we ARE excited about her coming home and cannot WAIT to see her again. There's just lots of feelings and emotions to sort through before she gets here.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring!! I know that it will bring my buddy Caleb who is coming to visit with me for a few hours while his mom volunteers at school. I can't wait to play with him!!

And, here is a photo of The Princess. 404 hours until our plane leaves.


Isn't she beautiful -- holding her 17? Could there be a better photo for today's number? I sort of feel like I'm on Sesame Street with the "number of the day".

Today's itinerary includes working in the field. I have 30 jobs I need to complete in the field today. After working, I plan on stopping in at TJ Maxx and maybe Tuesday Morning to begin looking for my "gifts". Yay. I'm calling them the twelve gifts of Kyrgyzstan. On the first day in Kyrygyzstan, Maria gave away ... *smile*
I didn't mention yesterday, but last night my friend Lisa notarized our documents that we need to take back. God love her, she has notarized about a thousand documents for us during this process. I can't imagine what we would have done without her and her notary stamp!! Thank you, Lisa!!
We also got a really cool gift from one of Josh's football coaches' mom and dad. Mr. and Mrs. P. gave Ellie a tie-blanket, fleece and very, very soft that she had made. It's in a Disney print and I've threatened to take it and not give it to her it's so comfy!! I'll post a photo of it soon. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. P.!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day "18" Stunk

In the spirit of honesty, today stunk. It started out stinking, got worse and ended up pretty funky too. So, I'm thinking I'll get up on the other side of the bed tomorrow and see if 17 is a better number for me.

Joshua couldn't get moving this morning. He lolly-gagged around like he had all day to get to school. Then, as we were already 15 minutes late, he remembers he doesn't have gym clothes. Kevin pulls the entire bag out of the dirty clothes basket. Great. I managed to get another set together and we left, with breakfast in hand because he also couldn't seem to eat either. As soon as we backed out of the drive, he spilled his milk all over the car. Contrary to the popular saying, you can cry over spilled milk. Back to the house to get something to dry it up before it sours and we are on the road again.

Prior to all of that Kevin and I had discussions about all the stuff that still needs to be done before I go. There's apparently too much and too little of us. Of course, I knew it would be that way. Whatever. I was just in a bad mood. Poor Kevin.

I volunteered at the school today; that wasn't bad at all and I got to visit my mom who gave us a new cordless phone set that she couldn't use at her house. That definitely wasn't bad. So, I'm thinking things are looking up, right? Another good news item is that I get to baby-sit Caleb for his mom Michelle this week while she volunteers at Carah's school (at least I think she said it was Carah's school). It will be some great "hands-on" experience. And Caleb is so stinking cute!!!! Check out her blog for pictures of him. He's going to help me try out my Maya wrap. Poor boy has no clue what he's in for.

So, I digress -- back to the story. I pick Josh up at school and we go home to charge my phone and get the paper so I could pick up the package I have at the post office. I stopped to read my email. Mistake.

Apparently, according to an email from our agency, we are supposed to bring gifts for people in Kyrgyzstan. Now, I assumed there would be some and I assumed they would be for people like our coordinator, translator, drivers and the orphanage director. I had already planned and budgeted to give a small monetary donation to the caregivers because they make so very little money. My understanding is that it's about $30 a month. What I was not aware of was the fact that we needed to bring twelve gifts -- for the judge, inspector, passport officials, orphanage director . . . on and on goes the list. These gifts should be in the $25-$30 each price range. NOW... let me say, I like to give presents as well as anyone else. I'm fond of getting presents. SO, I'm not anti-present. However, some of the reasons I have trouble with this specific request is that I have, now, 17 days to get these gifts for people I don't KNOW. I have to determine what to get, where to get it, how much it costs, how large/small I can fit in my suitcase. Which brings me to this: I don't have room to pack them in my suitcase!!! And finally, in all honesty, it's more money to spend that I was just not prepared for. I have been diligent in managing the expenses for trip 2 and I knew exactly how much I needed for what. Now . . . surprise. So many more thoughts have run through my head about all this, but I should just leave it at this.

I'm still concerned about my luggage limits. Elizabeth indicated her agency had said something about giving her a letter for the airlines indicating she was taking humanitarian aid which would often allow them to waive the additional luggage fee. I've sent a letter to our agency asking if they will do this. If they agree, I'll call the airline and ask if we can take one additional suitcase of items for the orphanage. This will allow me to be able to take some of the things that other adoptive parents have offered to send.

I continue to wonder how Ellie is doing -- if she is well and how she will adjust. She turns six months old one week from today. She has no idea how her life is about to change. I can't wait to kiss those sweet little lips again. At that point, all the troubles, heartache, problems and "stinky" days will be worth it, I know!!

I'm off to bed so that 18 can be finished and we can move along to 17.

18 Days

Monday -- 18 days. Are the people in the photo above waiting in an airport? I think they might be!! Either way, like me, they are waiting for something to happen.

Yesterday someone at church, Brittany, pointed out that I was in my last days of my "pregnancy" and wouldn't let me carry a box to the classroom. HA!! How funny!

But, in some ways, my "paper pregnancy" (aka our adoption process) is coming to a close. There are times the thoughts of being handed a baby just overwhelms my ability to comprehend. Adoption is an amazing experience, one that has changed my life in so many incredible ways. I have met so many people along with way that I would have never met had we not adopted. There are people like Terri, Anita, Amy H., Kelli, Heather, Allison, Marleen, Ellen, Elizabeth, Hilary, Andrea, Kat, Karen, Ivy, the Suzanne Bs, Jennifer G., Lori, Betsy, Margaret, Mayme, Jeanne, Rachel, Johnda, Becky, Verna, Holly, Michele, April, Janiece, Cindy, Jackie, John W. and family, and David and Jayne, that are "regulars" in my address book and email files who have become an extended part of our "family" through the adoption experiences we have shared.

We have travelled a long road and have been touched by so many stories, so many lives, so many happy moments, tears and laughter. We have rejoiced as so many children found their forever families -- and now we are coming nearer the close of our journey. It's such a blessing to have had the opportunity to take this journey. It's been a blessing to have been helped by SO MANY people along the way. The girls and I were talking yesterday about all the fundraisers we've done to get to this point. We've sold: magazines, pizzas, jewelry, donuts and candles. We've worked concession stands and had multiple yard sales. We've been supported by our family, our friends, our church, our community. We've had donations from people we don't even know -- just to help bring this baby home. What a huge responsibility to make the right choices for her life in the future. We are so blessed. We are so thankful.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Packing Advice From Friends

Ok, so I've been in a bit of a tizzy worrying about my luggage. Today, while talking to Elizabeth, she reminded me that I could get space saver bags. I'm hoping it will make my things WEIGH less as well as take up less room because I absolutely have to get the orphanage donations to them for the winter. I'm very concerned about the babies this winter. There are rolling power outages throughout Kyrgyzstan right now and the winter is supposed to be hard. This morning, at 7:30 a.m., it was 37* there. Those babies need to stay as warm as possible. I've had two families ask me to take things over for the babies.

I've checked into adding a piece of luggage to take over, but that's $150 (ouch!!). If I load my bag up to 70 pounds, it's $50 one way, but still, ouch!!

I also talked with my friend Allison tonight who was patient enough for me to sit in the floor with all my stuff and tell her everything that was already in my bag and to get tips from her on things I can live without, things I had way too many of and how I could re-organize that a little bit. So, after her talk, I've gotten things a bit better for Ellie's bag. I won't start on my bag until a day or two before we leave.

Thanks, Elizabeth and Allison, for helping with my packing woes!!

Football Saturday

What an exciting game Joshua's team had today! Their team played the South Cheatham Indians. The game started with a touchdown by the other team -- which made everyone nervous. It was back and forth during the entire game. At half time, the coaches did a great job motivating the players. Since I'm able to be in the sidelines, I told Josh that tackles where the announcer called his name would result in $5. He managed to ask if a sack would get him $10. Thinking that I was pretty safe on this front, I agreed. Well, I shouldn't have, as it turns out.

After the game, we asked the guy who kept the stats to verify and Josh had two tackles where his name was called (after the half) and he had two sacks. I ended up owing him $30, which he promptly used at Target, after the game, to buy a wireless guitar for his Guitar Hero game. Next week, he can play for the thrill of the game -- I've learned my lesson. His line coach told me that Josh has had the best season of his "career" (right, like a ten-year-old has had a career, but, whatever). He has had a very good season this year. The final score on the game was Vikings 23 - Indians 20.

After football, we brought two of his friends home and they played all afternoon. They were a riot!!! They were all filthy by the time they went home. There is nothing better than dirty boys -- that's the way God meant them to play!!

Sorry these are out of order -- much to do and no time to move them around!

Josh makes a great tackle (#74)

Josh takes on the tallest guy on the team. I'll bet he was 5'5" at least.

Half-time, listening to the coaches

Getting up from a tackle

Exercising before the game

Hanging out pre-game
Drink break during before game warm-ups
Josh and his friend and team-mate Caleb

19 Days - Oh My!!!

We are now in the teens. Can you believe it? Well, let me tell you I can. As I'm writing this, I'm on the cusp of Sunday (the actual 19 day start) and I am exhausted.

Kevin has hung the valance in Ellie's room along with shelves on the wall and a picture over her bed for me. I was able to create a little display of her items from Kyrgyzstan directly across from her crib. I really like how it looks.

I also began the daunting task of trying to pack her bag. Someone please answer this for me:

How can a 12 pound baby need 50 pounds

worth of items for only 10 days?????

I reduced my initial "to take" pile substantially. I'm still wondering how I'm going to get it all there. When we flew over, we flew BMI*/*United and the baggage limit was 70 pounds per bag, two bags per person. Since we had Josh we could have six bags. This time, it's just two of us so four bags. Jennifer and I had both said we'd each take one large bag for our things and then I'd have one for Ellie and we'd share one for the snacks/food and any other things we needed it for -- sort of an "overflow". HA!!! That's still the plan, but now I'm checking online to see if Ellie can have a bag. I know she can have a bag returning, but someone explain to me how I can have a bag for her on the way back and not have it on the way there??? If I had an extra "small" bag, I'd be great.

Oh, I've spent a while on the KLM* site and their partner site, North*west. I'm as confused as ever. Probably because I'm sleepy.

Last night, for some reason, Josh ran a high fever from about 9:00 - 1:00. When we finally got two extra strength Tylenol. one Motrin in him, along with a tepid bath, he cooled down and got to sleep. He was perfectly fine this morning. He's been fine all day. We aren't sure what it was, but it reminded me of the late nights being up with sick babies. It makes for a tiring day the next day.

Speaking of Josh, as I was getting the suitcase out to begin packing for Ellie, I became quite sad. I am going to miss him so very much while I'm gone. I love that little fellow so much -- even when he's driving me crazy sometimes!!! I'm going to miss Kevin a whole lot too. This is going to be hard -- leaving them home for two full weeks. I'm glad I have Jennifer to go with me so it will make missing them a little easier. I so wish the trip were shorter.

Josh played football today against South Cheatham. It was a very close game all the way through. The finally pulled out a win with a score of 23-20. I'll write more and post photos tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

20 Days!

This is the last day that I will be in the "2" numbers. Tomorrow we will start "1" numbers. Time really is going more quickly than I thought.

Today's photo is in honor of my dad, who works at Home Depot and of Josh, who is a HUGE Home Depot/#20/Tony Stewart fan. To prove that, check out these photos of Josh at Home Depot seeing the #20 car. My dad is in the middle photo with him.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yard Sale Update

We had our LAST yard sale today. Yes, I said that last time too, I'm sure, but this time we mean it. By late afternoon, when we still had quite a bit of stuff left to take to Goodwill, my mom came up with an excellent idea to make poster signs saying, "EVERYTHING FREE" and stand out by the road. She lives on a main road so we had great traffic exposure. We managed to cut down at least half of the leftover stuff that way. You see, there is apparently a gas shortage here so driving the 15 miles to the Goodwill more than once was not really appealing. In fact, here is what I saw most of the day at the gas station next door to my mom's house.

After the sale, I went and topped off my tank because there is no gas anywhere around our area. Gas was $4.25 a gallon for regular.

Anyway, we did fairly well at the yard sale -- not as well as the first sale, but keep in mind all these things had already been out at one yard sale so they were the "leftovers" if you will. After "free" time was over, we packed up the leftovers and Kevin took an entire truck load to the Goodwill.

So, we are very tired tonight and are off for showers and baths and to bed. Thanks for all your kind wishes regarding our sale. I'm just happy to be done with it all and to have it our of the house and out of the way. I am also very thankful to all those who donated the items for us to sale!! Thank you!!

Funny story from the day. While I was standing out beside the road with the above photo, I turned to Kevin and said, "I never thought I'd be standing on the side of the street with a sign that said, 'Everything FREE'!" He got a chuckle out of that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

21 - Three Weeks

I'm too tired tonight to post much. We are having another yard sale tomorrow to see if we can get rid of some the things that we left from the last sale, so we have been moving our items over to my mom's house tonight. We have to be up really early tomorrow so I need to get in the bed.

THREE WEEKS from today I get on a plane. Speaking of planes, our airline tickets arrived today.

And just one little picture of Ellie tonight -- getting her massage (see she IS a princess!!).