Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oh the Drama

So my travel dates were confirmed today. I get the invoice from the travel agent and it's HIGH in terms of the baby's seat coming home. Much more than I expected. I decided to look it up myself but had to leave to meet with the IA pediatrician for my "travel prep". So I grab the email I had received just prior and left. I read it post appointment and had to take a few deep breaths. Here are my options: 1) Get Emme in the capital of her province. Bear in mind it's a 12 hour trip and she didn't do too well the first time. It's closer to the devastation of the earthquake and she will be sad to leave all her friends at the center. 2) I can pick her up in Beijing and pay the expenses for both the representative from her province AND her center to travel. 3) I can pick her up at her center (plane and train for me) and pay the travel costs for the representative from her province. Everything points to choice #3 if it's not outrageous. I don't want her to be traumatized twice or either of us travel near the earthquake devastation. I have also proposed to my agency that if choice #1 works that I would like to volunteer at the center for a few days while getting to know her so it's less traumatic for her and I get to do something good for the children. Since everyone else in my travel group will be getting their own children elsewhere it wouldn't be any additional time. In the end it's costing me more anyway so what's a little more in her best interest. Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Skip to My (Emmy) Lou My Darling

So MP (man person) refers to my Emme Li as EmmyLou. It's his pet name for her because when I told him her name he looked confused. Today I received a packet from my wonderful agency containing all of her original referral documents from China including a note I had not previously seen. It says, "....she can skip and hop and have simple conversation". I think hopping is a sign of brilliance. That's my girl!!!!! This is not a new photo but one of my favorites. It brings me much joy to se her smile with one of her favorite caregivers.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Visa, not Mastercard

I got an email from the lovely woman who acted as the courier for my visa to enter China and it along with my passport is en route back home to me. Apparently only the Chicago office is willing to work with APs who don't have confirmed travel plans yet so my agency recommended her to me. I was very pleased with the level of professional service and would recommend to others. So when you're in a bind, just remember, There's Always Hope.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Flip Video Test

I was pondering the purchase of a camcorder and wondered if it would truly get used considering one with a hard drive runs about $500. Do you have it handy to capture those moments or is it something that would end up sitting in the closet? I came across this and wondered if it was any good. I really didn't get a chance to look at it more closely but first saw it on Oprah when she touted it as one of her favorite things. So after getting the scoop on it from another AP I figured I'd give it a try. It's the size of a larger cell phone, weighs next to nothing and runs off two AA batteries. It connects via USB and is also very inconspicuous. I used it yesterday for the first time as a test at a baseball game in Wilmington, Delaware. The sounds is pretty good considering we were outdoors, the image decent close up but the zoom is really ineffective. This won't take the place of a real camcorder but for travel, capturing close moments I think it's pretty neat and worth the low ticket price. You need a steady hand as you will see (I moved a bit) so the little tripod sold separately isn't a bad idea. The only real downside so far is the time is takes to upload even on a new computer with high speed internet and I haven't figured out how to edit yet.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Time Has Come or How You Can Win A Makeover

The time has come to face the reality that in 3 1/2 weeks I am leaving for China to go get my girl. I am overwhelmed to say the least. I began this process in October 2005 when the wait was 6-8 months and with each month, each year, I never thought I'd see this time. I'd like to think I'm a good financial manager but like many families, especially those single like me the task of having large amounts of money sitting around to fund an adoption just isn't that easy. I make a decent living and I live in a nice, safe community in a one-bedroom apartment. It's a great neighborhood and I am thrilled that I will be able to bring Emme here where she will be able to walk to the park, play in the grass and make angels in the snow. It sounds simply fabulous and it is. So I had my grand plan; I scrimped and saved to be able to take care of the initial costs in 2005, 2006, 2007 and now the major expenses in 2008. Luckily it's been incremental which has been a huge help. I applied for a few grants but I wasn't married or the right faith for the organizations I applied to. I tried to cut back a little more when my student loan repayment was DOUBLED. I knew it was coming in the back of my head. Some people may think having a large student loan indebtedness is not worth it but I would have to disagree. Dropping out of high school at 16 never had me think I would ever go to college, let alone earn a graduate degree with distinction. I affectionately refer to those framed pieces of paper as my "mortgage". Like many I can afford the day to day expenses like food, clothes, medical care and a few extras which is why I felt confident in my ability to care for a child. I saved, I started a 403B account and I took out life insurance to protect my future child. Well the future is now the present and I am as ready as I am going to be. Along with all the positives, 2007/2008 was a tough year for me. In 2007, I needed over $6,000 of dental work and in March of this year my car was totaled in an accident caused by another vehicle. So with all the preparations I made, I ended up here, worrying, stressing, stretching. In the past I was never sure how I felt about fundraising for an adoption and then I realized that every year I have worked since I am 18 I have given back to someone, some organization or some cause. I believe in being a good neighbor and a socially responsible person. I believe in being a contributing member of society. So with all that said and done, I am honored to have a GIVEAWAY for a free blog makeover/design courtesy of Danielle who I have come to know over the past few months. She is a very talented graphic artist who has an affinity for adoptive families and who graciously offered to give her time in honor of my daughter Emme. So if you want to be among those of us lucky enough to have her beautiful designs, you can donate $10 for each chance at winning. Check out her blog for more details.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm Going to China

My TA will arrive tomorrow morning at my agency. My tentative travel dates are June 18th - July 2nd. I can't believe in a month I will be holding my daughter. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Gift of Life

I didn't give you the gift of life, But in my heart I know. The love I feel is deep and real, As if it had been so. For us to have each other Is like a dream come true! No, I didn't give you The gift of life, Life gave me the gift of you. Unknown

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Heart Stood Still

Two weeks ago I sent two special care packages to my girl at her center. One was specifically for her and included a giraffe (aka Raffi), soft pink blanket, a photo album, some clothes, hair pretties, socks and a disposable camera for the Ayi's to take photos. In the other box I sent a dozen hats, socks and new toys for all the other children in addition to raisins for the kiddos and candy/lotions for the nannies. Oddly enough one hat was one that Lisa my secret pal sent me in 2006 shortly after the swap began when we thought we were getting babies. I'm so happy a little of Lisa's love is sitting atop my peanut's head right now even if it's a little snug. Even her BFF is comfortable enough in his manhood to don a chapeau with a butterfly.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Earthquake Relief

******Update The Ford Foundation is matching donations to the China earthquake relief when your donation is made via Global Giving. HTS still gets the money but it automatically doubles your genorosity and can help more families in need. I made my donation last night, did you? I still can't  fathom the damage from the earthquake in China.  It rattles me to know that my girl is there and I can't get to her immediately and bring her home.  I encourage you if you can to please give something to help the relief efforts no matter how small.  I am a huge fan of Half the Sky and am proud of all the work they do.  They have set up an earthquake relief fund and have already raised close to $35,000.  I don't think you can put a price on the loss of lives but all the families who have lost children, children who have lost parents and the ones sleeping outside due to the aftershocks without water, electricity or water.  Fortunately the weather has been getting warmer of there would be an entirely different crisis.  As of today Ford Motor Co is matching every donation made to HTS.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Retail Therapy

So yesterday and today I snagged some great deals.  Fortunately the stores have a 90 day return policy so if the size is off (I think I should be pretty accurate) I can return.  My stops included The Gap, Nordstrom Rack, Target and Old Navy.  All were sale items and the pic of the print jacket and jeans (haute couture) was $200 on sale for $30 which was a splurge and goes nicely with the $3 Target specials.  It looks a lot better in person.  For your viewing pleasure.

Thank You

To everyone who called or emailed to see if my girl was okay, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Emme and her friends are all safe and sound in the Changchun area which is quite north of the epicenter of the earthquake.  My heart and prayers go out to all those affected by this tragedy. While I always felt I had a firm grasp on the one-child policy, it never hit me as much as when I read of parents hovering and sleeping over the bodies of their children who perished.  Not to say that one child has more value than another but I imagine losing your only child is the worst pain a human being can feel.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

FedEx and Some Snazzy Threads

I forgot I had taken a pic the day my LOA was delivered.  I don't look all that glamorous but it was a happy day.  Since I was at work I didn't get to meet my stork (delivery person) but I ran home to get it, then back to work with it unopened and found my mom (we work at the same place).  She insisted we take a photo to commemorate the day.  I also have some of Emme's summer wardrobe though I took them on the bed which probably wasn't the best way but.....

Let's Roll!

In the midst of my dental agony this weekend, I went to register.  Oh what fun!  I hadn't planned on it but I bought a stroller and am totally in love with it.  It's not what I expected to buy but it is absolutely  perfect.  It's the Baby Jogger City Mini (it's all-terrain, not for jogging) and I chose the solid black.  It holds a child to 50 pounds and truly is a one handed 2-second fold.  With my back I need something easy and light, good for a few years in terms of weight capacity and easy to navigate.  I found all of the above in this gem.  Only when I came home and looked it up did I see the amazing safety ratings, parent reviews and accessories.  It's a little heavier than umbrella strollers but has great features like a huge canopy to protect from the elements, 5-point safety harness, padded handle, cushy washable seat covers and nice storage compartments.  You can also accessorize it if you like with a belly bar or child tray which I will add (tray).  It' so popular that it's sold out everywhere which is why I bought it now.  It's on back order so I didn't want to wait.  It should be here in about a month though it could be 8-12 weeks.  Since they were ordered a while ago they expect them sooner than later.  I can't seem to get a photo of it here but if you're in the market, definitely check it out.  

Monday, May 05, 2008

How Cool of a Mom Are You?

Maia, a fellow adoptive parent and asshat extraordinaire has illustrated a fabulous children's book, which is just about to be released.  She is amazingly talented and I can't wait to get my copy.  Check it out and order yours now.  

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Yes Sir, That's My Baby

No sir, don't mean maybe!  My Letter of acceptance (LOA) just came in.  I'm going to China baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am thrilled to introduce Emme Li Chao