Friday, December 30, 2011

The non-update update.

I've re-written this post twice.  This is take #3.  I needed a few hours distance to clear my head before publishing and I'm glad I did.  My first two drafts were super long and angsty, and kind of full of long descriptions of why you should feel sorry for me.   I laid out all the bad luck timing of being in the Thailand program at this time and the trifecta of unusual circumstances that have led to delays and frustrations.  So, instead of those drafts, I'll try to summarize the facts and my feelings.  I think we all know that summarizing long stories into short stories is not my strength, so be patient with me!

Here's the good news:
*We got a correspondence from our agency today about Asher.
*It had a picture of him that we had not seen before.
*It was a really cute picture.  (You can see it here.)  The password is my maiden name, all lower case.  If you need the password, leave a comment or email me at  But I'll only check that email regularly for about a week after posting this, so commenting is the best way to get my attention.)
*We found out a few specific details about how his foster family managed during the flooding.  The report said that they were severely affected, but that they live in a "stilt" house, and were able to move important items and all family members to the second floor, and have continued to live there with some normalcy.  All family members are safe and doing well in their "psycho-emotional condition."  :)  There is flooding surrounding their home.  The report did not clarify if/when the flooding has receded, but said that HSF is in near-daily phone contact with them, and delivers supplies by boat once a week.

Here's the frustrating news:
*We were expecting a full report (including 3-5 pictures) about Asher's development and well being, and we received no information, other than a check box saying that he is "falling behind" in all developmental expectations. The lack of information is due to the social workers not being able to conduct their routine visits because of the severe flooding.
*The one picture we received was very low resolution (too small to print even a 4x6) and it was taken in June, with the last batch of pictures we received this fall.  This is kind of frustrating for 2 reasons.  First, it's not any more recent than what we had seen, and also makes me feel a little frustrated knowing that they have not included all available pictures in previous reports.  Trying not to dwell on that.
* Basically, we have no specific information or pictures of Asher from the last 6 months, and it is hard to know that he has surely changed so very much in that time.  He is now 15 months old.  We were planning to see pictures from September, perhaps with him wearing or holding something we sent him after the referral in June.

Here's the most important news that I need to focus on:
*Our son and his foster family are safe.  Hundreds of people lost their lives, thousands more lost jobs and homes in this catastrophe, so this is no small praise.

Our agency has acknowledged that many of the reports were "vague" because of the lack of ability to get the children to their doctor's appointments and have the regular lengthy visits with the children.  The offices in the US have requested to the Thai offices that they obtain and send any new information or pictures when available, and not wait until March if possible.  (That is when we are scheduled to receive another update.)

For those who are wondering, I hesitate to even make a guess as to when we will travel to Thailand to bring Asher home.  There are 2 families who received referrals in March 2011 (we received in June) who are still waiting to get their first approval.  They have been told they "should" receive that approval on January 4th.  (Actually, they were originally told it could happen in October or November.)  If they do, they will most likely travel in mid-March.  I have no idea if that means our paperwork will be precisely 3 months behind them and we'll travel in June, but of course we are hoping and praying that is not the case.  We are hoping the Thai adoption board is working hard to catch up on all the delays from the Nativeland tours this summer and the flooding this fall, and that we will receive our approval...soon.  That's all I have the heart to hope for right now, because unmet expectations are going to be the death of me.

Thanks for all your support, questions, prayers, positive comments and thoughts!  It absolutely does help.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

But it's a useful obsession, see?

A couple posts back (so, pretty much the other one I did this entire fall) I mentioned that I'd held off on a new internet sensation called Pinterest.  I didn't start using it when so many of my friends did.  See how strong I am?  Well, turns out, that's all a facade.  I'm weak, weak, weak!  In November I joined and jumped in with both feet and really, really love it.  If you don't know what Pinterest is, I don't want to take time explaining it, so ask a friend or ask me for an invitation and go check it out! It was just what I needed to get a little inspired--inspired to do new stuff and even though it provides another way to spend time on the computer, it also has motivated me to get away from the computer and DO stuff. I am not exaggerating when I say that I've probably tried at least 10-12 new dinner recipes in the last 6 weeks.  Not all were winners, but it's so nice to break out of the rut. 
I also went to Pinterest for ideas for teacher gifts.  These were the finished result (2 of the 5 I ended up making) and it was all from ideas I found on the site. 

 Another fun trend I'm seeing on Pinterest is ideas for activities and crafts to do with kids.  I tried two of them out on the same day last week before Christmas and actually remembered to take pictures.  This first one involved paint, and my children are obsessed with paint.  Painting is right up there with play-doh on activities I dread.  But I busted out the new paint project because I love them and I'm such an amazingly nice mommy.  You put a few dollops of paint on some paper in a large, wide plastic bin, and then throw in a handful of marbles and let them roll around and do the painting work.  It turned out pretty neat looking!

I usually make both kids strip down when paint is involved, especially Syd, who is at an incredibly clumsy and awkward phase.  (Last week she spilled her goldfish FIVE times.  The SAME bowl of goldfish crackers.  5 times. OH MY WORD.)  But I also don't really like posting pictures of my daughter clearly t0ples$--even though she's only 3, it just doesn't sit well with me--so I drew her a shirt in photoshop.  haha!  I crack myself up. 
 I can't stop giggling about the purple digi-shirt!

The next activity we did later the same day and it involved crepe paper and masking tape.  It's called "Laser Practice."  Get it?!  I did the first half of the hallway to get them (ok, especially him) pumped up, then Carson finished the rest.  I highly recommend this activity.  It entertained my kids for almost 30 minutes, which is some kind of record around here.  The only problem was they wanted to leave it up for daddy, so every time I went to the bathroom or to my bedroom I had to crawl and contort through the lasers.  But still?  Worth it!

So, in summary?  I heart Pinterest.  If you need proof, look up the recipe for Cranberry Bliss Bars.  Make them.  You, too, will be converted.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

So, Christmas happened.

Since I haven't been great at blogging or posting pictures, I thought I'd give an obligatory post that has both.  This will mainly be for my extended family that doesn't check facebook and the stalkers--some of you fall into both categories.
This is the best family shot of the season.  Soon I will have an annual series of Christmas Eve shots when Sydney is so tired she is sucking on her fingers.  I know for sure this is #2. 
Oh, yep, see I found this one from 2009.
But anyway, back to the 2011 play by play: on Christmas Eve, we spent the day with my family.  The girl cousins are getting to a fun age (3 and 2) where they can play together and enjoy each other's company.

Here's Bapaw Roy and his oldest grandchild.

I'm kind of in love with this picture of my daughter  She's patiently waiting for presents.

Fun fact about my parents: they LOVE movies.  They love collecting DVD's and they actually WATCH them.  Each year they like to give each other DVD's and instead of writing the actual to/from, they use that as a clue for what movie is inside.  For instance, it might say "To: Elizabeth,  From: Mr. Darcy" but that would be WAY too amateur for them.  Now they mix characters and actors and really make it tricky.  I love it.  This is my mom trying to figure it out:

Thirty-nine years last week, baby!

Aw, look at those two adorkables.  And HALLELUJAH for a new DVD player!  The one we have now was free from Trent's work as a 5 year gift.  It gets overheated after being on for 75 minutes, which turns out is a very inconvenient time in most movies for your DVD player to stop working.

This is my brother, Mike, and his son, Jack.  Really, you think they look alike?  Huh.  I just don't see it.

Beautiful Becky and little Kate/Katie/Kaitlyn/Katiebug.

We had our own Christmas morning together, and even had a few gifts for Asher.  Again, probably due to denial and busy-ness, but I was able to mostly keep the sadness in check.  Only got teary a few times about not having him here.  But as far as pictures from our morning...none turned out very well, so I'll skip ahead to Christmas morning at my in-laws.  Before church, the aunties let the kids open a couple stocking gifts.  This turned out to be a brilliant plan.  Sydney received a fancy black purse AND a bag of "real" make-up.  Fortunately "real" means that it is not plastic, but it also means that it does not show up at all on skin.  She. Was. Obsessed.

Syd took her make up in her new purse to church and it successfully distracted her for much of the service.  She was very seriously doing her own make up and generously offering to do mine, Michelle's and Carson's.  The bag came with a little stamp and even though it had no ink, she walked down the aisle stamping the backs of all of our hands.
Doesn't Aunt Shell's make-up look pretty?!

This is Uncle Chad, working his musical magic on the mini guitar.  I just want to say the reason I have no pictures of Auntie Tara is that she had just worked an all night shift and was understandably not in the mood to be photographed.  She was doing well just to be physically present.

More Auntie love!  This is the adored Aunt Jess (married to Uncle Chad).

What six year old boy doesn't need Spy Glasses?  The edges of the lenses are mirrors, so you can see behind you!
These are my wonderful in-laws!

Of course Bapaw Phil lets Sydney help him open his gifts.
This was a funny and memorable moment.  Carson has been asking--no, begging!--for a set of drums.  Michelle and Tara got them for him, but didn't put his name on the box.  It was the last gift to be opened, and they handed it to Chad as though it was for him.  Chad played the part well and was ECSTATIC about his new drums!  Carson handled the competition well and fought for his precious drums!  "No!  They're for ME!  They have to be for ME!"

He emerged victorious, and we stocked up on ear plugs and Excedrin.
I hope your Christmas was blessed as well!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Guilt-free blogging.

I used to be that annoying friend who teased and guilted others when they would start a blog and then neglect it.  Well, now I've become the neglector!  And I've decided to let go of the guilt.  I'm not giving up the blog, but I just don't think I'll update it as frequently as I used to.  Right now I'm just in a season where I don't have time to write and the adoption is in a stage where I have nothing to write about.  I still love writing. I still think several times a week about what a great story this or that would make.  And I'm making a conscious effort to limit my commitments this spring to prepare for Asher's homecoming, so maybe I'll have more time to write--and something to write about. To, to sum up: don't write me off yet.  And I'll try to give you a glimpse of some stuff that has been happening.

Life has just seemed to FLY by this fall.  I was talking to someone the other day (which was what?  a month ago?) and used that same phrase: "the other day" and realized the day in question was mid-August.  I blinked and it was December.  Which, to be honest, to a person who feels in a perpetual state of waiting, that's not a horrible thing. 

Speaking of waiting, it's no secret that the wait is getting longer and harder than we ever anticipated.  All of us Thai mamas are dealing with it differently.  Strangely, it seems that a shopping trip to Target that ends in grief-stricken tears has become a right-of passage for many.  My coping method du jour is total detachment.  As I just told my friend Jessica, when people ask me how the adoption is going I just kind of shrug and stare blankly with a dead smile.  I might try to explain 1st approval and how it's a really important paper that comes from Thailand, but that the people "in front of us" in line still haven't received theirs, so I have no earthly idea when ours will come.  But mostly I just give some pithy cliche about worth the wait.  Lately, it's been feeling not very I'm playing a strange online game and downloaded a picture of cute little chubby Asian baby.  I'm sure some psychology major would tell me that I'm in denial, b/c the pain of acknowledging that my child is on the other side of the world being cared for by someone else and I have no idea when I'll get to see and hold him is too painful to face. 
Another big deal around here this fall was that my husband accomplished a long-time goal of running a 50 mile ultra marathon. Yep. You read that correctly! He ran 50 miles in one day. Straight. Went to the bathroom once. Never sat down. It took him about 9 hours and 45 minutes.  He's been training with amazing discipline for months, but had never ran farther than 32 miles prior to the race.  (I takes a crazy situation to be implying that running 32 miles is not that far.)  We were nervous about the weather and how his mind and body would hold up under such incredible stress.  But he did it!  I was so proud of him.  We both agree that his success is largely due to his support team.  Three of his closest friends, Mike, Eric and Jim (who was the leader of the support team), came and spent all day with no other focus than helping Trent succeed.  Jim set up a literal base camp with all forms of calories, hydration and first aid.  The race was set up int he shape of a Q.  It started at the tip of the tail, and the runners had to go around 8 times, each time going all the way back to the starting line.  The support tent was set up right where the runners left to the loop, so every hour and fifteen minutes or so, Trent would go by us twice in 10 minutes.  One of the guys would run out to him, run or walk along with him and see how he was doing, take his water bottles and ask what food sounded good.  When he said nothing sounded good, they forced him to eat anyway.  As he walked to the tip of the Q tail to turn around (following me?), they would quickly refill bottles and warm up soup broth on the camp stove, while discussing Trent's current mental health (which was spotty around lap 5).  Then, for the last 3 loops, one of the guys ran with him the whole time for moral support.  It was an amazing and humbling act of friendship to see.  I get a little choked up just thinking about it!


* The other big and exciting thing that happened in the last month, is that I. Joined. Pinterest.  I've known about Pinterest for a long time, but had refused to join, because I was afraid it would be an internet worm hole that sucked my time.  And I was exactly right.  If you don't know, Pinterest is basically your very own online bulletin board.  You have different categories of boards (the ones I use most are crafty, decorating or recipe-based) and when you want to bookmark a webpage, you "pin it."  You choose a jpg from that page to represent that page and it saves it for you on your bulletin board.  Then, at any time you can go to your board, click on the pin and be taken to the original web page.  You can also "follow" friends who are on Pinterest and see what they've been pinning.  It's completely enjoyable and total eye-candy for me.  But, in my defense of the hours I've already spent on the site (pretty much replacing blog time for me), I've tried at least a half dozen new dinner recipes, and have made (or started) as many crafty projects.  It has been completely inspirational and motivated me to actually get off the computer and DO things.  I don't have a lot of pictures yet, but here is a picture of my Pinterest inspired Christmas countdown advent calendar:
I used the paper boxes we've had for a couple years, cut some branches from my back yard and used a 50% off coupon to get that tin jar for $4.  Win!

I will try to blog about how our Christmas countdown has changed for the better this year, but no promises.  And no guilt!