Friday, December 30, 2005

A Few Christmas Pictures

I'm having the most exciting Friday night.... right. Same ole , same ole so I decided to play around with some of our Christmas photos. I wish I had some more. I guess I got caught up in the confusion and excitement. I even missed getting some shots of my parents. I'm hoping Carolyn got some.

Lexi Jars

I thought I'd share one of the fun things we have been doing as a family. When started the adoption process back in the summer, I came up with the idea of having a "change" party after all, we are in for quite a bit of change. Well, the tall jar is my mom's jar. The other one is ours. Carolyn has one too. I just haven't taken a picture of it yet. One day, before we go to China, I guess we'll get around to the party. All of these things we do in preparation for Lexi's arrival just make us feel like she is already a part of our family. It's also so wonderful to see and feel the support of our family.


Yesterday, I took our big notebook of adoption documents so that I could go through it and put notes on the pages to remind me of what needed to be done. Some of the pages need to be signed by us and notarized. You'd be amazed how many times documents must be authenticated, signed and what not. When I finished I had about 5 questions and emailed Mei at CWA. Well, earlier in the month, she had given the name of a woman who I thought was a courier. I got her number out and called her and WOW did I get an education! She actually has a dossier service and takes your documents and makes sure they are authenticated by the right people, basically checked and double checked. I thought putting the dossier together was easy... no such luck! I truly believe that had we tried to do this on our own, we would be delaying the process even longer. Needless to say, she's hired. She also told me that the Georgia turn around after fingerprinting is about 3 weeks so hopefully, ours will come in next week. She was very nice, bubbly and full of information and lives in Jacksonville. She even told me about an organization that she is a member of Families With Children from China (or something like that). I'm going to look into that. I don't know why they don't just tell you up from all the ins and outs of adoption. Someone should write a book of tried and true tricks of the trade.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Scrapbook Pages

As Geoff worked on the financial statement and the adoption statement for the dossier, I worked on the photo pages for the dossier. They say you can send up to three 8 1/2 X 11 pages along with the dossier. So I went to work will all of my new scrapbooking supplies. The idea is to send 6-8 photos of your house inside and out, a photo of the us as a couple and family gathering photos with short captions for each. Now that said imagine how that can be accomplised with 6 or even 8 photos! I ended up printing smaller photos. I really got into it and created some really nice pages. I typed out my captions so that I could fit more words on the page. They say you can send a color copy of the pages because you will not get them back but I think we are going to just send them because they won't fit in my 12X12 book anyhow. All in all, I probably spent about 6 hours working on these three pages. I hope that when I begin working on Lexi's life book I'll get better and be able to spend less time on the printing part. Otherwise, I'll never get anything done at all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Catching up after the holidays!

I can't believe Christmas has come and gone! Worse still, I can't believe my days off of work are slipping away so quickly! The holidays were so nice this year. It's not that the past ones haven't been nice but after the past 3 years of being ... Consumed (for lack of a better word) with becoming a family, this year I just knew in my heart that by next Christmas we will finally have the baby we have longed for for so long. When I miscarried two years ago this past Oct., I didn't even want to put up a Christmas tree. I know this sounds pathetic because Christmas isn't all about us but rather about the birth of Jesus and our celebration of his life. But it is one time when you can count on coming together as a family be it in person or on the phone and let them know that you love them. This Christmas when we were at my mom's I couldn't help but think how different things were going to be next year. We'll have two babies crawling around! Children seem to make the season so much more enjoyable.

I enjoyed the entire evening but one thing did happen to surprise me beyond any expectations! Geoff and I got a gift from Sara, Chris, Jenna and Charlie. Inside was a beautiful scrapbook that they had made. It detailed a project they had worked on since last August! Apparently when I told Sara about the adoption I mentioned that we didn't have all of the money but I wasn't worried about that because I knew God would help up find a way. Well she got her mind to work and found a fundraising website called A Mother's Love Fundraising. It is a site founded by a woman who also has adopted and now she organizes fundraisers for others who need help finding the money to adopt. Sara and Jenna quietly went about fundraising over the past months. Sara even sent out letters to friends and family telling them what we were doing. She received orders for products and donations from friends and family. Some of the most touching responses came from Chris' family whom I have only met once at their wedding. One woman wrote us a beautiful poem. All of the cards, letters, emails, receipts, and bank statements are in the scrapbook. As Geoff and I flipped through the book on Christmas Eve, I was so touched by their kindness and everyone's response that I just teared up and continued to cry throughout the entire book. They presented us with a check of $700, which actually would have been $1200 but the communication with John in Iraq was lost in translation and he just told Carolyn to give us a check for $500. That money is already in our Lexi Savings Account. One can only imagine how proud I am of Sara for coming up with the idea. A mother could not ask for a more thoughtful daughter. I'm also taken aback when I think of Jenna's contribution because just after they began the project is when she was diagnosed with cancer but yet she continued to help Sara. These girls are true blessings. And anyone reading this post that contributed, we'd like you to know that we really appreciate your help in making Sara's act of kindness successful. It's true, God does guide the way and we all will be blessed by Lexi's presence in our lives one day soon.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Two more things off the list..

This Christmas I have been busy anyway. Resting up for the beginning of tax season, and studying for CPA exam. Plus, I finished our financial statement and personal statement to China. One thing left for me to get and then we are waiting on the I-600A approval only. See we are not waiting on me only. Unlike many other times when I am the reason for the delay, it looks like this time I will not.

Well back to studying (just added that for you mom!).

Outfits for the Girls!

After looking at the dogs in there "sweatsuits", Wanda told me she hoped Lexi would get here soon so I wouldn't torture the dogs anymore.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Check! One more task down.

We went back to the photographer that did our passport photos today and got the necessary 5 extra photos that will be sent along with the dossier. I am determined that once the I600 form comes in, we will be ready to start sending the documents here and there. Earlier in the week, I went to the CWA forum and posted a question to those from Georgia about how long it took for them to hear from USCIS. One woman wrote me back and said that it was just under a month. So I'm thinking that we should have ours early in January. I am allowing for holidays to slow things down a bit but I think that we should definitely be able to have the dossier on its way to China by the end of January. That's my plan... We'll see if the "powers" that matter also see it that way.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Treasure From Melaine

This is a little book that my friend Melaine gave me. I just love it! It's just precious. Each page is made on bamboo paper and it's filled with all kinds of inspirations. I look at it all the time and read the little bits of time tested advice. In fact, the book is on our coffee table so that I can look at it often. You know, you never know how much a simple act of kindness can mean so much to someone but I truly value my friendship with Melaine.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Farmer Geoff!

Tonight Geoff was graced with the company of all of the animals at once. It is so funny to see them all in one place since the cats don't really like the dogs and the dogs just like to harass the cats. As the cats ate, Sable did her usual pitiful act and waited longingly to lick their bowls! This is part of the reason she is such a "healthy" cocker spaniel!

A Day of Work

Today was another day of milestones. We finally .... FINALLY got the kitchen floor replaced. This means that the water leak in the slab from 3 years ago and the aftermath is finally over. (okay, well we do have to finish some shoe molding). It looks so great! I'm totally happy with the new floor. While the men were working, I worked on the getting the study organized so that I can work on my dissertation without being distracted by clutter and then I moved into Lexi's room. Any day now the furniture should all be in and I've wanted to get anything out that was being stored in the room. Now anything in the room is just Lexi's. It's so plain now but as soon as the furniture gets here, the pictures will go on the walls, books will come out of the closet and be placed on her hutch, her bedding will be in place and I'll be able to check one more thing off of my list. These are some before pictures. I can't wait to post some after ones.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

This seasons' Salt and Pepper Shakers

I know it's a bit weird but I just love seasonal Salt and Pepper shakers. This is my new Christmas one. I thought he was adorable!

What's next in the process

So what's next on the adoption process . . . yesterday I picked up my employment verification letter from the board office. This is one more document that we need for the dossier. On Tuesday we went to the police station to get letters for each of us stating that we were good citizens with no warrants or arrests.

This is all we are waiting for at this point . . .
1. Geoff's letter of employment. (Geoff)
2. The letter to the Chinese government explaining why we want to adopt. (Geoff)
3. The financial statement for the dossier. (Geoff)
4. 5 passport photos of each of us for the dossier (both of us)
5. The approval from Immigration
6. Authentication of the documents from our local Clerk of court, then the Secretary of State, and the the Chinese Consulant.
7. Then the dossier will be mailed to China (or called DTC by the adoption community)
8. Then we will receive a logged in date (LID)
9. Then we begin the wait

As you can see, we have very little to do ourselves. I truly hope we will begin the waiting by the end of January. I have calmed down a bit lately as far as the waiting and the disappointment in the longer waiting time. I've really got plenty of things to do to prepare and lots of things to be grateful for. I just keep praying for our little girl and know that God has the perfect little one picked out for us.

Christmas break is here!

Today was the last day of school for the kids for the holidays. One of my very special students from last year stopped by with his mom. He was funny about my room being so different. I have tables set up for when I teach the teachers and most of my "cute kidsy" stuff is now on my friend Susan's wall instead of mine. He said, "you know even though the room is not warm and cozy like it was last year, I still have warm and cozy memories of second grade". Melt my heart! That's what I miss about teaching students.

I've got tons to do over the break. Number one... work on the dissertation!! I'm also hoping to spend some time with one of the girls at work to make the cards to send out to everyone for the quilt project. One of the ladies at church has been working on the design for me and until she is finished, I won't know what size material to ask for. And it wouldn't be the holidays if I didn't do some holiday baking. So looks like my next two weeks are full!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Christmas Decorating Finally Completed!!

Okay, so the picture is not so good but it does give you an idea. With the HELP (yes, help) from my dear husband, we finished decorating the house tonight the way I have envisioned it to be. While I was on top of the roof catching plastic hooks because I didn't bring enough in my pockets before I crawled on the roof, I decided that maybe I could even be on Survivor ... you know, I did conquer my fear of heights by being up there... only because I just knew he would catch me if I fell down).

Geoff even bought me some "deer" that light up. It looks so nice outside. The only thing is, if we leave the lights on during the night, poor ole' Sable doesn't sleep through the night anymore. I guess the whole place being lit up confuses her.

I failed to mention that Lexi has 4 presents under our tree (3 from Santa... aka Geoff, and one from Sara and Chris). I have one so far and there is one for my parents. We are shipping presents to most out of town relatives because we are not able to come up this Christmas. I can't wait for the blessing we will experience in the coming year.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Scrap-booking Group

I joined a scrap-booking group tonight. Tonight was only a 3 hour session. We made Christmas cards. It was so much fun. I can't wait to begin actually working on a scrapbook for Lexi. I have a lot of ideas and after this weekend, plenty of items to begin with. About a month ago I ordered her an album from a former student's mom who sales Creative Memories merchandise. Now if only we could have a day to get started!!

New Toys for Lexi

When we got home last night from Atlanta, there was a new book on the table. It was a musical book of Bible Songs from my Mother. I just love it! Me and Geoff had to try it out. Needless to say I make a beautiful "noise" while Geoff actually sings.

Sara also brought a present for Lexi. It's this cute little lamb that plays a lullaby. It's totally cute. Have I said lately how much I love my daughter??

Sunday, December 11, 2005

FBI Fingerprints... check!

Well, we made it!! We got the FBI fingerprints completed last Friday. You know I had this picture in my mind of how things would go but I was totally off-base! I thought we would go downtown Atlanta and walk up to a huge skyscraper building with an FBI emblem out front. We even brought our camera to take a picture. Well... NOT. It ended up being a beat up old building with a paper sign out front that said, "Immigration help". We were there roughly one hour and 20 minutes. In that time frame, I showed 3 different people my fingers to prove that I had no cuts on my hands. The man who did my prints told me that within 15 minutes the FBI would have my prints and that then within 2 hours I would be approved or not. So I have new hope that the I600 form will come back sooner than I thought. After we left, we went to the Mall of Georgia and did some Christmas shopping. Then finally met up with Samantha and Dan.
On Saturday, Samantha and I went scrapbook shopping! Whew! They have so many cool places to buy scrapbooking supplies in Atlanta. Now I am anxious to go back and do some scrapbooking with Samantha because she is the master scrapbooker! Dan and Geoff went to watch his cousin, Chris, play in a basketball tournament. Then later that evening, we had dinner with Neaners and Charlie. It was so nice to see them.
I couldn't convince Geoff to go do more shopping before we came home so when we did get home we began working on fixing the lights on the house. Of course by this time, he was wishing we had gone shopping instead!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Christmas Decorating Update!

Last night I was positively too ill to post! I came home from work tired and ready to just lay low but I convinced myself I had to finish the lights on the house. So I dragged myself outside, filled my pockets with light hooks for the roof, took the ladder out, grabbed some more lights and got busy. The first thing I noticed was that it was COLDER and the little plastic hooks took more elbow grease to get the cord secure and that my hands were freezing! Well, I got one more stand up and was about to embark on the another area of the house that would put my courage to the test. I had to kick off my shoes because I was afraid I would slip when I stepped onto the roof. I sat there and prayed that I wouldn't fall off the roof and that God would keep me safe. The next thing I knew, ALL THE LIGHTS WENT OFF!!! I thought maybe the plug had come out or something but NO, they were all fine. I tried every troubleshooting angle possible to no avail. About this time Geoff called and I told him just how ticked off I was. Now not only did I not have lights on the house, I HAD lights that worked just for one night. He came home and checked it out and it turns out that you can only link so many lights together before you blow a fuse! Why did they omit that on the box?? So now, I'm back to no lights, it has begun to rain so there is no chance of getting these lights lit up until Sunday afternoon ... if then. All I could think of was that stupid Christmas song to the tune of "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" where you hear the voice of Archie Bunker screaming "these lights!!". I need serious help! I've decided that any future house I live in will have a lower roof so that I can use one of those tools they sell at Lowe's that gets the lights up with NO LADDER!

What does one wear to be fingerprinted by the FBI?

We leave tomorrow to go to Atlanta to be fingerprinted by the FBI. I'm excited about being able to check one more thing off of our list. I've got pack because we are making a weekend of it. We're going to stay Friday night with my dear friend Samantha and her wonderful husband... and NOT only that, they are named in our homestudy as the "Guardians", aka... God Parents, of our Lexi. In fact, after we asked Samantha and Dan to consider doing this for us, we received this nice card in the mail the following week.

You could never tell that Samantha is a scrapbooker could you! She so talented in all that she does and I do miss having her close by and teaching with her. But you couldn't ask for a sweeter friend!

After we spend the night with Samantha and Dan, we are going to meet up with Geoff's Aunt Diane and Uncle Charlie and his cousin Chris. They live in Virginia but just so happen to be in Atlanta this week at a basketball tournament for Chris. We thought this was too good of an opportunity to pass up so we are staying an extra night to be able to spend some time with them.

Now my dilemma is what to wear???? What does one wear to get fingerprinted by the FBI? Will what we wear effect the processing of it? I wonder if I plead with the person who fingerprints us to expedite it, if it will even matter. I know... these are crazy thoughts but what else am I supposed to do?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lexi's First Outfit!

Well, I'm actually amazed it took THIS long! Geoff returned home tonight with Lexi's very first outfit. It's a little mouse outfit from Gymboree. I just love it! It has little mice on the shirt and sweater and of course, the pants have little bows! It even has a matching hat with mice on it! It's totally adorable!

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Back to Christmas Decorating...

Yes, I've been at it again. Well, Geoff was out of town and what else was I do to? Those of you who know me, know that a few years ago (the one and ONLY time the house had lights on it) I surprised my dear husband one evening when he came home with lights on the house. It was an even bigger surprise when I tricked him into believing that I had fallen off of the ladder and broken my leg during the process. I'm not usually such a dishonest woman but for some reason I couldn't resist. And it was funny by the way. But tonight I rushed home and thought I would surprise Geoff with lights on the house when he returned home. It didn't take but ONE trip up the ladder to refresh my memory as to WHY I could pull off such a trick. It's a LONG way up to the top of our roof! And it's slanted which makes it even harder to balance the ladder! At one point, the ladder was shaking more that I was. I did manage to get at least half of the front done before it got too dark and if I MUST say myself, it looks even better than before. Now ... do you think I can get Dear Geoff to help me with the rest??? I'll try to get some pictures of it when it is finished. This is just practice for next year when Lexi will be here to see the lights. She will just love it!

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Special Delivery!

This is the first look at our plan for Lexi's room! While we are still waiting for the delivery of the crib bedding, the other items arrived! We got the valance, matching pillow, and lamp shade. I'm so ready for Punch and Judy to call and tell us that the furniture and the bedding are ready. I know we don't need to have the room totally ready yet but we want to include a picture in the dossier. I'm sure it will also become a daydream spot for me during the wait. I also got my scrapbooking supplies for Lexi's book today. I can't wait for the next scrapbooking day so that I can begin. I've joined a group in town that meets once a month for an entire day. I think this will help pass the time as we wait.

My Southern Living Moment

I tried to post this picture yesterday, but eblogger was down. This is my finished product of my replication of a project I found in my latest Southern Living magazine. By the way, the picture does not do it justice and I embellished it quite a bit. I know I've gotten a bit fixated on decorating for holidays but that's not such a bad thing. I feel such an excitement about how Christmas will be with Lexi that I just can't help myself.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Nice attempt but no cigar!

After reading Geoff's new post, I am convinced of two things....

1. He's great at diverting attention away from the subject at hand... (decorating the house for Christmas). Anyhow, by the way... I am still in the decorating process.


2. He's slowly turning into his father... (making comments that only he and his Dad will understand... does anyone else get the long legged chick joke??)

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Meet the Smith's and Soyka's

Almost two months ago, we made our most recent trip to Las Vegas. A big thank you the the Stardust Hotel (nice hotel, just didn't realize exactly how long the strip was) for our second official celebrity sighting, Rip Taylor. And not only did we see him once, but twice, the only time I have known my dad to not just go up an talk with someone. The first sighting was at the airport on the way home last Thanksgiving. As we were walking through the airport I noticed a fellow that look familiar, turns out it was the lead singer for Smashmouth (just like then, I still can't think of his name). He was sitting talking with two other guys, we sat down and listened for a little bit. He seemed like a real down to earth, enjoyable guy. Flat Stanley, however, was a bit nervous and couldn't muster up the courage to ask for a picture.
This past trip we met up with my brother and his new wife, my sister and her husband, and my mom and dad. The last night in town we were headed down to Freemont Street (for those of you who haven't been, the older section of Vegas, a much better trip if made at night) and we got to ride in style. The first and probably last time I will ever be in a Limo, and an Excursion Limo at that (and just think, we thought Mom's Excursion was huge!). We had no trouble fitting in, and I believe about eight more of us could have fit as well. I would suggest to eat dinner before going down to Freemont Street though, we ate at a buffet, that my dad classified as "the worst buffet he has ever eaten at". Wanda highly recommends the $.99 shrimp cocktails, at a hotel I can't remember right now. I recommend a visit to the Barbary Coast Hotel and Casino. In the mid-afternoon times they have lounge acts. One is Big Elvis (very good voice), and the other one we have seen is Dean Martin (very entertaining). We saw his show twice this summer. It has the older feel of Freemont Street, but is located in the middle of the Strip. We have found that the shows are great as well. Wanda recommends the Queen musical "We Will Rock You" at the Paris Hotel, I prefer "Mamma Mia" at Mandalay Bay. Enough about my trips though.
This will be my last post for a while, my mom will be proud. As listed in the profile, I am working on being a CPA. I have wasted enough time now, and with the pending adoption it is time to get my self in gear. Studying and preparation will involve most of my time for the next little while. Perhaps I will be able to add a few lines here and there to keep my mom informed of my progress.
As my dad once said maybe you'll find that chick with long legs who will agree with everything you say (hahahahaha). And Kelley, we will include your "Robert" story in a future post, just remember I warned you before you went.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

I'm finally posting an update of the flowerbed that everyone helped with on Labor Day. I really enjoyed Mr. Scarecrow during the fall but after Thanksgiving, he had to go. I really want lights on the house but I'm having trouble convincing my nice sweet husband that it is worth this effort. I keep telling him that once Lexi is here it will not be an option. I can't begin to tell you wonderful memories I have as a child going around with my Mom and Dad to see everyone's Christmas lights. I mean think about it.... you don't really remember things like riding in the car to go shopping, or if you do, it's a memory of riding in the car for what seemed like decades to get where you were going. Or WORSE going shopping with your Mom for her to pick out something like sewing patterns. THOSE kinds of things you did with family just don't stand out. Christmas time at my house, always involved everyone helping to decorate and enjoying not only our decorations but riding around to see others as well. I want to do the same for Lexi. (this is one post that I need comments! I want to know if I am the only one who feels this way. I'd like to know what other's think of when you think of your childhood Christmas'.) Sneaky me... soliciting the help of others in changing the way my husband views this decorating thing. heehee

Oh... and this is Robert. He's on the front porch. (There's a whole another story about this little guy!!)

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