Friday, July 31, 2009

Visas! (For everywhere we want to be...)

I know, corny title. Anyway, after reviewing my own blog to see what has been posted and what hasn't, it appears I'm pretty up to date. I haven't had time to post alot of reflection about this time period, so I hope at some point I can take a little while to do that before I forget. What an adventure!

But speaking of adventure...we got our Colombian visas yesterday! HOORAY!!! We had a few little bumps in the road, but all in all it was a relatively quick (all day) trip to Miami to the Colombian consulate. We left the house early (before 8am) and made the two hour drive. We were so blessed that one of our family members ("X") was in town on business and was able to go with us. She was born in Colombia and lives in Boston now, so we don't get to see her nearly often enough, and was a big help to us yesterday.

We got to the Consulate in plenty of time for our 10:45am appointment. "X" stayed in the lobby with the kids and we went into the office and met the lady who would do our processing. Another CHI family had mentioned that she would be very helpful and she definitely was. She began to thumb through our documents and pulled out our request letter and told us that it would need to be apostilled. We were expecting to have to have our request letter apostilled, I had just forgotten to ask before we got started. Then she pulled out our police report and said that would have to be apostilled too. Surprise! But not a big deal since we were apostilling the letters anyway. And THEN she looked at our photographs. The ones we had just spent $34 at Walgreens to have taken. The ones that are required for our visa application to be accepted. She looked at the photos and then looked at me (with such kind eyes, I might add) and said I'm sorry but these are not acceptable. Turns out they were too large and too dark. Regulation passport photos apparently are larger than the photos for the visas and the photo quality, I must admit, was pretty rotten. I think she noticed I was starting to panic so she quickly reassured me that we could get photos taken down the block. So I relaxed for the moment. She gave us directions to the two places we needed to go and told us to come back when we have everything and she would process our applications. On our way out of the building, "X" double-checked the locations of where we'd need to go. And off we went.

The photo place was right next door and it was a quick process to get our photos taken - not to mention you could tell immediately that they were WAY better than the Walgreens photos. I think I nearly fainted when I approached the counter to pay and she told me "cash only." Anyone who knows me knows I NEVER carry cash. Thankfully, "X" saved the day and we headed to the place to get the documents apostilled.

It was a quick walk and we were glad for that since it was raining by this point. We were glad to get there and all was well. Except...the man downstairs who confirmed the locations sent us to a different place than the lady upstairs had and it didn't really occur to us until later. Bill stayed outside with the kids and "X" and I went in and stood in line at the Avianca office for several minutes (10-15) and when we got up to the counter the lady started talking - fast! - in Spanish. "X" asked her a couple of times to explain it in English for me but she kept slipping into Spanish again. What I got of the conversation - based on my tenuous grasp of the Spanish language, her English explanations, and "X's" translation - was that we'd have to send our letters to Tallahassee to apostille and that the police report would have to be translated before it could be apostilled but that the police report could be apostilled right there. (Now when Bill talked to someone at the Colombian Consulate office they told us that the police report did NOT have to be translated so, add this to the fact that they had just told me that our letters would have to be sent to Tallahassee to apostille, I started to feel queasy and again began to panic just a little.) When we walked out, I could hardly think straight to explain to Bill what was going on and instead had to sit down and regroup. "X" explained to Bill what happened and then Bill reminded me that the lady had mentioned the black building and the third floor so we decided at this point we had nothing to lose and set out to find the place. *ahem* this would be where I have to admit that we no more than looked up across the street and saw the black building where we had been directed.

We went in to the building, up to the the third floor, and into the office. There was an older couple just finishing up and walking out and the girl called us back to the desk. Seriously, in less than 15 minutes she had the translations we needed, all four documents apostilled, and our receipt/invoice ready to go - congratulating us on our adoption and sending us on our way.

So...we made it back to the Consulate right at noon and, again, "X" stayed in the lobby with the kids as we went back in the office. Within half an hour she was handing our passports - complete with visa giving us permission to complete Mariana's adoption in Colombia - back to us with a smile. Whew!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It May Just Work!

A few days ago on Facebook a few of us had a "conversation" of sorts about whether I could successfully pack for our trip with only ONE CARRY ON and ONE "PERSONAL ITEM" per person.

It's looks as if it may just work! We are, I would say, approximately 75% packed and we haven't even filled all three of the carry-on bags alloted. God willing, we'll be able to get the last of our things into the remaining "personal items"...I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Updates and Prayer Requests

I suppose it’s time for an update on what we’re up to over here. Despite my whining about all these lists that are monopolizing my time and my world, I have actually made progress! Many of you have offered assistance and asked that we let you know what you can do to help us – we would greatly appreciate your continued prayers for us as we continue on this amazing journey and you’ll notice I have included a few prayer requests in my updates here.

Our tickets are booked for August 10. (Please pray for safe travels and that we don’t encounter any problems or delays on our trip.)

We have our appointment with the Colombian Consulate to apply for our visas on July 30. (Please pray that all goes smoothly during this appointment and we are able to obtain our visas as expected.)

I am still working on packing. Even with all my pre-packing, it’s an arduous task that is taking much more thought than I am used to. I am well known in our family as a light packer. I do my very best to take as little as possible on our trips. As much as I would love to do that with this trip, it’s just not that easy. For one thing, I’ve never gone on a trip longer than 10 days before. This one could be 30-35 days. (Please pray that we are one of the quicker families to complete the process and when we have to change my ticket to come home it’s because we are ready to come home SOONER than my originally purchased return flight.)

The length of the trip is only part of the problem, though, and I have stocked up on travel packets of laundry detergent so I can wash clothes several times while we are there, reducing the amount of clothing that we’ll need to take. The weather isn’t quite as easy a fix. The temperature in Cali should be similar to here, so I have no problem with making sure we are properly clothed while there. Bogota, however, is usually pretty chilly in the evenings from what I have been told. That could be tougher. Mariana and I will be doing lots of snuggling to stay warm, I hope! But snuggy time aside, I still have to have clothes for Mari and me that are weather appropriate for the time we spend in Bogota.

Then there is the size issue. The height and weight information we have for Mariana is several (read: 7) months old so I am doing the best I can to guesstimate what size clothing she’ll need. I was able to find a growth chart specifically for babies with Down syndrome online, which is helpful to at least identify a weight range. What I don’t know is how accurate the growth charts actually will be for Mariana. According to the weight range on the chart, it’s putting Mariana in 9 month clothing but edging into 12 month clothing if she is at the higher end of the range. So I am taking a few outfits in each size and will supplement, if needed, with clothes we buy there.

We’ll get there. A little bit of progress is better than no progress at all and we are still SO EXCITED to bring our baby girl home. Now if you will join me in a few more prayer requests, I’ll get back to work: Please pray for Mariana, that she will not be too frightened by all of the changes that are about to take place in her life and that she will sense how much we love her and know that she is safe; Please pray for the foster family who has loved Mariana and now will have to say goodbye, ask that God give them His peace and that they are comfortable in knowing that we love her very much and we will spend our lives making sure she knows how much she is loved; and, last but not least, please pray that we continue to take the steps God determines for us and that the next several weeks are filled with joy, hope, love, faith, and thanksgiving, and that we make it home quickly with our little girl and begin our lives as a family of five with God’s blessings abundant.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How Many Lists Can One Mami Make?

I have lists all over the place and - I know it sounds crazy but I think my lists are reproducing and creating little baby lists while I'm sleeping. I have lists of documents and important paperwork that we need to take to Colombia, lists of things that must be done before we can compile everything on the list of paperwork that we need to take to Colombia, lists of things to pack for Colombia, lists of adoption loans/grants we applied for (and lists of who we haven't heard anything back on), lists of things we need for the house, lists of things we need for Mariana, lists of school supplies to buy for the kids, lists of things to accomplish for school registration, lists of household chores to complete before we leave, lists of caretakers for our animals while we are gone, lists, lists, lists, lists, lists...Can anybody relate or is it just me?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I Wasn't Crazy Afterall...

Remember how I told you a few months ago that I was already “packing”? As I sit here today I am SO GLAD I DID!! I would recommend to anyone who can find an extra drawer (or even an empty box or suitcase) to start setting aside all the things they think they may need when they travel. It makes it way easier to think about packing when you don’t have to think about packing AND shopping! My little “when it’s time” drawer held all of this, mostly in compact travel-friendly packaging, tucked away and ready to go:

• travel toothbrushes and toothpaste for all
• dental floss
• mouthwash
• 9 laundry detergent sink packs
• Deodorant
• Lotion
• Detangler
• Headache medicine
• Allergy medicine
• Feminine hygiene products
• Makeup remover/facial cleansing cloths
• Hair detangler
• Hair accessories
• Children’s soap
• Body wash
• Shampoo and conditioner
• Hair styling products
• Bandages
• Antibiotic ointment
• Children’s fever medicine
• Infants’ fever medicine
• Lip balm

Lots of stuff to not have to go out and buy right now…I’m thankful.

Awwwww, Mom!

I can just hear Kyle’s voice in the title. It’s the lament of a pre-teen boy whose mother is being overly emotional and embarrassing him. But can we talk a little Mom/Mami talk? I have to tell you – I am in turmoil right now. Why? Because in four days I am putting my first born on a plane to visit my parents for three weeks in the Virgin Islands. No big deal; of course I’ll miss him terribly but he’s made this summer trip (to various islands in the Caribbean) since he was 9. He loves it. He looks forward to it. It’s a great experience for him. The problem comes in when I think that it will be almost two months before I see him again. You see, I’ll be leaving for Colombia the day before he gets back from St. Croix and won’t be back for 4-5 weeks after that. That’s a long time to be away from my baby. That makes me really, really, really sad. I’ve adjusted to his summer vacation trips but – geesh! – two whole months?!?!

At the same time, I am struggling with wanting to leave for Colombia right nowto get Mariana and bring her home! I can’t imagine the agony of parents who are waiting for months (even years) to bring home their children. I always supposed that, while the adoption wait was hard when you didn’t know who or where your child was, it must be so much more difficult to wait when you actually knew. Sometimes I really hate being right.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled whirlwind of excitement…

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I didn't forget the book review...

Even though it must seem like I forgot that I promised you a review of 7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free - A Catholic Guide to Managing Your Money by Phil Lenahan as part of The Catholic Company's book reviewer program; I didn't. As you can imagine, life's been a little hectic lately (and getting more exciting by the moment too!) Still, I was able to steal a few moments away at a time to spend in this book and now I am finally posting my review. Truthfully, it's not something that is likely to draw you in and refuse to let you go until you've read every page in one sitting. In fact, for someone like me who is not really wired to think in numbers, it can be tough to get into at first.

There was some great background information about developing a relationship with money that is based in faith. The actual 7 steps promised in the title are supported by scriptural references and there are some common sense style rules of thumb that honestly weren't so common sense to me until I read them. It took me a while to get through it, but now I have a few tools that I intend to implement in our family budget practices that I didn't have before. I call that a success.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Meet MARIANA...


She's 14 months and waiting for us in Colombia. We can't wait to go get her and bring her home.

My Head is Spinning!

Light chaos
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Dooley

I know everyone's waiting for more information about the baby (and a photo - hello????) but I still don't have the confirmation that we need before I can post it. Soon. I promise I will post it as soon as I possibly can.

In the meantime can I just say that I feel like I'm caught up in a whirlwind? This photo by Kevin Dooley is perfect - it's light and energy and beauty and excitement all swirled up in a frenzy, but it still feels HAPPY. Exactly the way I'm feeling right now. I love it. We've been at this adoption for more than 20 months and throughout this time, I'll admit, that I have been frustrated with the time it's taken for various things (remember the marriage certificate?) and wondered if we'd EVER complete our adoption and bring our baby home. Now, thrilled as I am that the time is drawing near, I feel so unprepared!

In addition to the travel arrangements and all the last minute adoption tasks to attend to, I have Kyle leaving for St. Croix next week and school starting while we are expecting to be in Colombia. Which means I have to add shopping for school clothes and school supplies for the kids and getting Ky ready for his trip to the list of things to do in the next three weeks.

I know I posted the "It's a Girl" news and then disappeared for a few days. I'll try not to do that again. We're still here. In fact, we're walking on air over here! I can't wait to share a picture of our beautiful little girl with you. In the meantime, I'm frantically working to accomplish a few more things so we can go and bring her home. But here's a hint: "Baby K" is now "Baby M" -- she's beautiful and her name is perfect just the way it is. We are so thankful for the blessing of being able to share her life.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What are REFERRALS made of?

Sugar and spice and all that's nice!

It's a girl!
PHOTO CREDIT: Ollie Crafoord

More details to come...I promise!

Guardian Angels and Helping Hands

I have mentioned Reece's Rainbow on my blog before...and I have their button on my sidebar. They are an adoption ministry for children around the world who have Down syndrome. They have waiting children listed just waiting for their forever families to find them, they have a prayer warrior ministry for dedicated prayer for each individual child, and they raise funds and provide financial assistance to adopting families, among the MANY other wonderful things they do on a volunteer basis.

We are so thankful to announce that Reece's Rainbow has established a FAMILY SPONSORSHIP PAGE for our adoption. God willing, they will collect tax-deductible donations to help us bring home our baby. They are quite certainly guardian angels and helping hands!


CHECK OUT OUR FAMILY SPONSORSHIP PAGE HERE

Friday, July 10, 2009

How I Hope This is True...

My friend, Deanna, posted this song on her blog a few weeks ago. Loved it. Then I saw the movie Fireproof with Bill last night and heard it again. Still love it. And you know what? It kind of feels appropriate right now. I really hope I am being patient and I am continuing to worship and serve While I'm Waiting. Enjoy. And if you love it too let John Waller know. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Prayer While We Wait

Dear Lord,

Your word tells us that "in his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps". We've taken the only steps we know to take, Lord. We've planned our course and await Your direction for our next steps. Please make our paths straight so that we may proceed according to Your will.

We commit our journey to You,Lord, so that all glory is Yours. We trust in You! Still in our humanness we can't help but slip into doubt and sometimes be fearful of that which is unknown. Lord, please prepare us for whatever our journey may hold.

AMEN

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Shall We Play A Game?


TODAY'S QUESTION:

Thank you gifts in country: what kinds of gifts did you give and to whom did you give them? Did you come up with any "better" ideas later that you wish you'd thought of prior to traveling?

I think we can have fun with this Bloggy Brainstorm thing. If anyone has a question they'd like to put up for the Bloggy Brainstorm just let me know. I'd be glad to have your input. After all, sometimes the most important questions are the ones we ourselves don't think to ask!

Nervous Energy?

I feel like I should be DOING SOMETHING! I don't know exactly what, I just feel like I need to be doing more to prepare for the rest of our adoption journey than what I am doing. It's so difficult to prepare when you don't know what kind of timeline you're looking at. Or even what you should be doing at various points along that timeline if you had it. I am just so full of this nervous energy and this "could it be today? or is it still almost a year away?" internal debate is a little exhausting.

I am so thankful for my buddies who gave me great responses to my Bloggy Brainstorm questions, both here on the blog and through Facebook. (I still haven't quite sorted out how my blog posts to Facebook but I guess it gives people a couple of different reading options.) With the responses, and with my own ideas and my affinity for checklists, I have roughed-out a packing list that continues to be a work in progress so that I can have a checklist to work off of when the time to pack actually gets here. I have tried to stop trying to guesstimate when we'll travel and instead have just tried to worked out some contingencies for various scenarios. This planning to plan to travel is probably a little of what is contributing to the nervous energy that has me feeling like I should be DOING SOMETHING already!

I am still working on re-learning Spanish. Once upon a time I could communicate pretty well in Spanish and, these days, I seem to be able to listen and understand most of the time (with a few clarifications usually). It's the getting the responses translated in my head and out of my mouth that gives me trouble. Lots of trouble. I have been reading People en Espanol, and translating articles as well as I can which helps my comprehension but my conversational ability? Not so much. We have implemented some phrases in Spanish that we use regularly with the kids but that's about the extent of it. That's one thing I really need to focus on in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned, another Bloggy Brainstorm is coming up soon...hope you guys don't mind helping me out some more! :)