.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Packing We Will Go

I hope everyone had a Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Holiday and that your New Year is looking bright. I continue to see a faint glow on our horizon so that's keeping me going. We spent a nice Christmas evening with our friends Vance and Laurie and their two boys. They were the first people we met when we moved to VA 12 years ago and I must say I will miss them sorely. Laurie is the kind of person who, even if you don't see her for a year, you will pick right back up as if no time had passed and she will have you laughing so hard you will blow your cosmo right out your nose. It's not an attractive look and it stings a bit but those are the friends that get you through the tough times so it's worth the red stain on your blouse.

In other news, we just flew in from Chicago tonight. It is official...they handed over the keys so we are now the proud owners of a condo in the land of corrupt politicians...I feel like we're moving back to Louisiana, only it's a lot colder. We have exactly one week left here in DC and now time has finally decided to speed up. In the next 4 days I have made a list (!!) of what we need to do to prepare for the movers who arrive on Monday.

Still no news out of Nepal but the yahoo groups are heating up with lots of speculation so that keeps life interesting at least.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Is that something?

Today's mail brought the usual Christmas cards and plethora of catalogs but tucked away in the middle was an official-looking envelope from the U.S. Department of State National Visa Center. That's odd--we already got our new I-171 so what else could they be sending us? We've never gotten anything other than I-171's from them for either China or Nepal. It's a rather thin envelope....

Dear Petitioner:

The State Department's National Visa Center has recently received your approval Form I600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. This letter is to inform you that your petition has been forwarded to the appropriate visa-issuing post where the adoption interview will take place. We have entered your petition into our records and have given your petition the following Case Number: yada yada ###

This case has been forwarded to: Embassy of the U.S. Visa Unit, etc, etc. in Kathmandu, Nepal

Yay! I have no idea what it means (yes, I have emailed our agency) but it's something at least and for now, I'll take it!

Meanwhile, Len is in Chicago working. It's in the negative numbers there temperature-wise. It's not a whole lot better here--26 degrees with a wind-chill that must be much worse with our 35mph winds. Bitter cold for DC!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Can it be? Is that a ray of light I see?

We had been quite afraid that the end of 2008 would look and feel pretty much like the beginning of 2008…bleak and filled with anxiety. With less than 2 weeks to go until 2009 it looks like there may be a break in the clouds.

If you are just now tuning in to the blog, take a peek at the archives to learn what you have missed. To summarize, 2008 has mostly been a pretty crappy year and one that we are only too happy to see end. There have been some really good highlights which I will point out towards the end so as to end on a positive note (consider it my Christmas gift to you for reading my tales of pity and woe all year).

To start the year, we had our 4th and final miscarriage and watched as our quest to adopt from China lengthened into a seemingly insurmountable wait. As of today the wait is 34 months.

34 months.

Just shy of 3 years.

If you look over to the right, you will see how long we have currently been in the queue for China. By today’s estimate, it’ll be another 16 months (give or take a year).

We also started a concurrent adoption with Nepal and turned in our paperwork in February. Nepal has been a rough ride but it looks like there may be a glimmer of hope for early 2009. In the meantime, I have been re-submitting expired paperwork. The good news for this week was that we received our new I-171 form and our new state police clearances so we are up-to-date with our Nepal paperwork until June (when our fingerprints will expire once again….).

The highlight of our year has been that Len got a new job in August as the speechwriter for the CEO of the company he worked for prior to his latest job. He will also be handling executive communications which makes him very happy as he gets to do a lot of writing!

The job is in Chicago so we have been consumed with getting and keeping our house ready to sell. We managed to put our house on the market in the week that everything went to hell with the economy. Although we have had a lot of traffic in our house (nearly every day for the past 90 days) we have had trouble getting a fairly priced offer.

You may remember my covert surveillance of the Beamer Leather couple from early last week. They made an offer! After a few days of negotiating, we agreed on a price and scheduled the home inspection. While that happened we got another offer on the house for the same price so we accepted that one as a contingency in case the Leather couple backed out. The home inspection was this week and after much back-and-forthing on that (the repairs are very minor) we finally reached an agreement today! The paperwork was sent to our relocation company and by Monday we should be officially free. They will take this house to close in January. We have our close in Chicago set for the end of the month and then we will move sometime within the first few weeks of January.

It feels good to finally be doing something again. And boy do we have a lot to do now with scheduling movers, arranging plane flights for the close, getting Charis boarded during some of the moving, hotel rooms, fixing the items from the home inspection, utility shut-offs, mail, etc.

Ahhh! I’m back in my list-making, organizational mode or what I fondly refer to as “normal”! All I need is a double shot of G with my T and I will achieve Nirvana.

We will spend the holidays here in Falls Church, and hopefully this will be the last year that it is just the two of us.

Maybe it will be a Merry Christmas after all.

P.S.--Happy Birthday today Mom and Spiff! Mom's pic was taken in Greece and Spiff's was at a dinner party at his house (the fire extinguisher is only brought out for special meals...)



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's Groundhog Day!

Have you ever seen the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day? The premise is that he continues to live the same day over and over until he gets it right. OMG are you kidding me? That’s MY life. And the kicker is, I can’t figure out what I need to do to get it right.

Everyday is basically the same. Get up, take Len to the metro, come home to fix breakfast and find that one or more realtors have called and want to show the house “in the next 15 minutes or so”. After a quick cleanup of the cat food bowls, the breakfast dishes, the bathrooms and a doublecheck to be sure the file cabinets are locked, I vacate the house and hang out at the local coffeeshop. After an hour or so, I return to find every light in the house on, the cat traumatized, and outside leaves and debris tracked in that now need to be vacuumed out of the rugs.

Add to that a couple of wrenches that get thrown in every other day or so for good measure. Today’s wrenches were:

After dropping Len off at the metro, I notice that the Prius decided not to have any dashboard lights or to shut off when I pushed the power-off button. So this meant an early trip to the Toyota dealership and a rental car. I got home to find the obligatory realtor message waiting for me—she was due to arrive with her clients in a half hour. Still not having had any breakfast, I empty the dishwasher, load it up with the oatmeal pot and bowls from Len’s breakfast, the cat bowl, and the teapot, cups. Then a sweep through the basement for the underwear I had left on the rack to dry and a straighten of the couch cushions from our tv couch potato activity last night. A run upstairs to be sure there are no stray pubes in the tub or toothpaste in the sink, and crap! I still need to put away the laundry basket of clothes that is sitting on the floor. I can’t throw them into the closet since the closets need to be neat (this isn’t a dinner party where you can ban your guests from closets and extra rooms, you know you do that) so I hastily throw stuff into the dressers and then run the basket back down to the basement laundry area. Check the office file cabinets—they are locked. Lock the computer.

And then I hear Charis. And this is not a happy, purring kitty sound. It’s a pissed off, where is my food, why is the throw on the sofa not out for me to curl up under, why are you running around? guttural howl. Now, she’s 16 ½. That’s really old in cat years. She deserves to live out her years with a full belly, a warm spot to rest in for 23 ½ hours a day and relative peace. I do a quick cuddle and mutter some platitudes that I know I will pay for later and realize that I have less than 5 minutes to leave the house. I turn on the Christmas lights (holiday cheer and all…I hope they aren’t Jewish) and get in the rental to hang out at the coffee shop.

Only this time, I’m curious. This is apparently the same couple who came to our THIRD open house this weekend. Covert surveillance is called for. I have a rental car after all. Never had time to put in my contacts so I'm still in my glasses. And I’m wearing a hat and scarf so my disguise is complete. I park down the street behind a truck. The first car pulls into the driveway. It’s a Ford Taurus so I figure it’s the client’s car. But only one person gets out and she goes into the house. Hmmm. Not the typical realtor's over-priced, flashy gas guzzler. Maybe the realtor is in a rental? 25 minutes pass. Another car pulls up. A silver Beamer. A cute couple dressed in leather gets out and heads inside. 30 minutes pass. I am now really wishing we had invested in some audio bugging devices and I start daydreaming about the potential conversation I could have overheard:

Realtor in the Practical Car: Now this house has all the amenities you could ever want in a Cape Cod.

Leatherette Lady: Yes, the bathrooms are gorgeous and the house is everything we’ve been looking for.

Leather-studded Dude: And the basement is such a man-cave; I can totally see myself with the flat screen and a cool brewski, kicking back with my dude friends for football season.

Realtor in the Practical Car: And did you notice the deep, fenced-in back yard and the enormous deck?

Leather-studded Dude: I could totally see myself bbq’ing with a cool brewski, kicking back with my dude friends and eating lots of encased meat products on that big deck.

Leatherette Lady: And those deep-soaking tubs! I could take long, hot baths and since the lights are on dimmers, I could really relax after a long hard day in these Jimmy Choo stilettos.

Realtor in the Practical Car: Great! Let’s write up a contract right now. Shall we say full asking price with no concessions?

Leatherette Lady: And since we drive a silver beamer, we obviously have lots of money. Why not offer what they originally were asking when they first put the house on the market this summer? I mean, we can afford it right?

Ah, but I digress. After they leave, I give them a few minutes to be sure they aren’t doing the drive-around-the-block-and-check-out-the-neighborhood trip, then I go inside and realize that I have a good 2 hours before the home inspector is set to show up. Great. I can turn off all the lights they have left on, have some lunch (never having had breakfast, lunch is now a must) and then get to the grocery store and back before he shows up.

The phone rings. Are you F*CKING kidding me? It’s the home inspector. He had a cancellation and “can I come now since I’m sitting in your driveway”?

While he is in the attic the phone rings again. It’s the Toyota place. They are on the phone with the Head Prius Mechanical Guru in Toyota Kingdom and he is apparently stumped. “Just wanted to update you.” Nice courtesy call but with no news, not really the helpful or informative information I was expecting.

The same day, sometimes packaged differently and with different characters, but still the same, every, single, solitary day. The same news:

no, we haven’t sold our house
no, we don’t know when we’re moving
no, we probably won’t be able to visit you in Atlanta for Christmas
no, there is no news on the adoption front
yes, my life is on constant hold

I will continue to hear “please wait and enjoy this lovely muzak in the meantime”

Same old, same old.

Happy Groundhog Day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thank you Prometheus

There are few things in life that evoke such varying emotions as fire.

As I sat in our living room yesterday and stared into the urban fire blazing in our fireplace, I felt soothed and nourished. While my mind was reminiscing of cooking s’mores on a camping trip and falling asleep near a crackling warmth on Christmas Eve, I realized how far removed infertility and the quest to adopt has taken me from enjoying life. I was finally able to decompress as I burned off the pain of dealing with infertility and stoked a dream for the new year with each added log. I halfheartedly thought, as Len grabbed a newspaper to help the fire burn quicker, that we could just burn the contents of our IVF file. And most especially, those sad sonogram pictures of babies who we knew for only a few weeks. Perhaps we will tonight.

I am not certain why I am drawn to fire. Perhaps its allure comes from historical to present reference; fire was a cultivator of society and in some form or another is still a common trait of mankind today. When we are in control, fire cooks our food and keeps us warm, yet when fire is out of control we risk losing everything. We are dependent on fire to survive, but this very thing that sustains us can so quickly take us, all our humanly possessions, and often our spirit.

While dealing with infertility I precariously played with fire and towards the end I found my ability to maintain control of either my body or my mind slipping away. Perhaps it is the control I currently possess over my personal fire that fosters my ability see the destruction by fire as a chance for something new.

New city. New opportunity. New path. New experiences. New life. New family. New relationships. New understanding. New fears.

Most importantly, a newly found happiness.

Friday, December 5, 2008

From Nepal today

Ministry to build fool-proof process: CCWB, CNFN to aid

Kathmandu: In its endeavor to build and implement a full-proof international adoption procedure-released as the new Terms and Conditions, the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare has called upon Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB) and Child NGO Federation to submit a draft of format and process for international adoption to the Ministry. The organization is collectively holding an interaction workshop on Sunday to discuss several options of formatting and process. The workshop aims to bring out the best in a “participatory and qualitative way” and submit the draft to the Ministry after the workshop.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thirteen Lies Lisa is currently telling herself

1. That she is happy to have potential buyers come at 8pm to open closets and poke through the contents of her refrigerator where she has had to hastily stash the leftovers from a hurriedly eaten (and barely finished) dinner.

2. That those same potential buyers will make an offer on a house in Falls Church when one of them works in Baltimore.

3. That Vietnamese coffee drunk at dinner will not cause her to toss and turn and curse her blissfully sleeping (and loudly snoring) husband and cat. That it will also not cause her to dream that they have moved into a Motel 6 instead of a condo in Chicago.


4. That she only watches Survivor because she enjoys the Gabon scenery and not because she has developed a inexplicable attachment and acute concern for the safekeeping of Bob Crowley, the lean, handy, old guy physics teacher from Maine.


5. That Bill Clinton (her Secret Boyfriend #1 who she had to break up with due to circumstances too painful to discuss) will humbly and unobtrusively step a little left of the spotlight and let Hillary Clinton have her moment. That he will not show his ass (literally or figuratively) or continually upstage his wife, our next Secretary of State.

6. That insisting she would be inspired to use daily the exercise equipment which is now languishing in the dark and gloomy basement, when it is positioned in front of the sunny living room windows of the condo in Chicago…with eagerness and enthusiasm. So far, she has only used it six times.

7. That she has used the exercise equipment six times. She has only used it four times.

8. That she has used the exercise equipment four times. She has not used it once.


9. That she does not want another dog just as much as her husband does.


10. That Charis would in any way tolerate a new puppy any better than she tolerated Zoe.

11. That all of the snow that has already fallen in Chicago just lends it a seasonal, festive, holiday feeling and is not grim foreshadowing of the next six months.

12. That finishing all of her holiday shopping on-line and having the gifts mailed directly will not make her feel any less in the holiday spirit. Personally wrapping and delivering gifts is time-consuming and over-rated.


13. That realizing her first Christmas with Len was 21 years ago doesn't make her just a bit misty-eyed.
And yes, that was a brass desk lamp he was opening; she was already changing his bachelor pad decor even though she was still an English teacher.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New York City!

One of the things we've been most thankful for is how close we have been to New York City. We try to visit at least once a year. With our impending move, we decided on a whim yesterday to get up early and head north one last time. The fun highlights of our 17 hour roundtrip are documented below. Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mercy and Music

I have been asked by quite a few Simon fans to go ahead with another post so they can stop seeing his picture when they log in. I'm sorry girls~it had to be done. The Power of the Internet brought that picture to my innocent searching for a more recent picture of my teenage obsession and, as you all know about me by now, I am not one to suffer alone or in silence.

However, I will move on and let Simon move further down in the posts so you will not be exposed to him unless you scroll too far.

About a year ago, our friend Kevin decided to take up violin lessons again. He played quite a bit years ago and then took a 20 year break before picking it up again. Last weekend he gave a recital to a packed house. It was quite lovely and included the following pieces: Händel's Largo, Schubert's Serenade, Debussy's Reverie, Massenet's Meditation from Opera Thaïs, and Strauss's Violin Concerto in D minor, Opus 8. We enjoyed it tremendously.







oh, and isn't his shirt great?!

This weekend we held a very successful yard sale and cleaned out a good bit of stuff from our basement. I wouldn't recommend a yard sale at the end of November-with a high in the 30's and a wind chill that at times must've bumped us into the 20's, it was a miserable morning.

We are still continuing to have house showings nearly every day but alas, nothing yet. To all who keep asking if we will still be here for Christmas, "I don't know".

My new mantra is "I don't know" for pretty much everything that may/may not happen in the next month or so. I am trying very, very hard not to plan anything. At all. Nothing.

It's very difficult.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Straddle the line, in discord and rhyme

So. Yesterday's entry.

I reread it several times and thought about it while I was showering. And I imagined reading it as my mom would, or how I would if my daughter had been the author.

It made me a little sad.

I don't really want to kick Lisa 15 in the teeth. She tried. She was introspective on occasion and made the best decisions she could with her limited knowledge. Yeah, the smoking thing was dumb and she can't justify it away.

But Simon LeBon? Well, he was hot. Let’s say he has just permanently erased all of my teenage Duran Duran fantasies in one fell grope swoop.


Hungry Like the Wolf will never sound the same again.

Straddle the line, in discord and rhyme
I'm on the hunt I'm after you

Eeeew.

I can’t say I regret my outfits—they garnered me the attention I so craved and since my BFF, Joy, pretty much wore the same silliness I never felt too strange.


I wish I'd studied more…and not just for the tests but for actual general knowledge. I wish I had backpacked through Europe for a summer, maybe moved to NYC for a year. Gone to fashion design school maybe (even though I couldn’t sew a button).

Big questions all. But then, who would I be now? Would I be married to Len? Would I be adopting now? Would I have had babies earlier? Who knows. This is the kind of looking back that I don’t think accomplishes much.

There are a lot of different theories out there about destiny, fate, pre-ordination, etc. If God already knows all that will happen to you isn’t that destiny or pre-ordination? I have been told no, we still have Free Will so the choices you make are yours, not just part of a celestial play to entertain the gods.

I just finished reading The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. I’m not sure how it ended up #1 on the NYT bestseller list other than the fact that it does appeal to the side of us who wants God to be a nurturing, benevolent soul who, although He knows what path you will choose, never forces you to take it. It does have some great dramatic themes but I found the writing got in the way of transporting me into the story. It is intended to answer what I consider to be one of the top 50 GREATEST QUESTIONS EVER ASKED:

Why do bad things happen to good people? Or, why does God allow tragedy and pain?

ok that’s two questions but still, thematically the same

I have often asked this question over the past 4 years. I’m not sure I really have an answer. Young’s version is that shit happens but that God will turn tragedy into Good if you will let Him.

Len and I have always held onto the belief that eventually all things just seem to work themselves out. For example, when Len was applying to grad school, he really wanted to get into one specific school and it turns out that was the one school where yes, he was accepted, but no financial aid or assistantship was available. We ended up going to another school and it turns out it was a great place to be for the most part (“Throw me some beads Mister!”).

But the last 4 years have really tested this theory of ours. Will these miscarriages and lengthy adoption waits actually result in a family for us? Will the move to Chicago turn out to be just the change we need to move away from this time in our lives (or will I just turn into a frozen popsicle)?

Stay tuned.

Because if there is one thing that is certain, I will keep you updated.

Nepal news

From AdoptionNepal:

Kathmandu:

Adoption Agencies Representative Forum Nepal, is holding a meeting of American Representative's in its first phase to discuss work process to bring a uniformity in their work in regards to adoptions from Nepal according to the information received from the Representative Forum. There are 32 US agencies that has been listed by the Nepal government recently. The Rep Forum has invited participation of all American Agencies Representative in the discussion program to be held on 18th Tuesday at Lasoon Pulchowk. The Representative Forum will continue such meetings of Representatives of European nations shortly added the information.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Still Alive

Do you ever want to knee someone in the mouth? Shake a person until her teeth chip and fall into her cupped hands?

Because that's what I often wish I could do to my 15-year-old self. I was an idiot. Finding my way. Trying to figure out how the grown-up world worked. And thinking I was so ancient and so bad ass. I had no idea how good I had it.

Here are some things I did that make me cringe:

1. Smoked. I didn't even like it. And it wasn't daily. But it was enough that I now sneer at Lisa 15 and mutter, WTF were you thinking? Moron.
2. Wore mini skirts combined with cropped tops, Leggs suntan shiny pantyhose, sparkly legwarmers and wedge heels. Oh, and don’t forget the forehead bands.
3. Worshipped Simon LeBon from Duran Duran.

4. Didn't appreciate my smokin' hot bod.
5. Took the wrong kinds of risks while avoiding the right kinds of risks.

This weekend I sifted through a few photos of me circa 1980’s, trying to find one that showed how ridiculous I often was, that wouldn't also cause my mom to whimper and shake her head at the monitor (Not that she's the whimpering type. I just like the imagery). Turns out my mom is the one who was able to send multiple examples to me since she had scanned them in to save onto CDs.






Why am I reliving my past you ask? Len and I went out to a local pizza place Friday night. Turns out it was also kid's night at the pizza place. LOTS of them in all age ranges. I noticed one girl, perhaps 7 or so, dressed in a ballerina tutu, princess crown and clutching a stuffed penguin.

Lisa: Don't you wish you could sometimes go back to when you could wear a tutu and a crown and feed your stuffed penguin pizza and nobody would look twice?

Len: Um, I think I would've gotten some looks if I wore a tutu....

Lisa: Wait, you DID wear a tutu once! I seem to recall a "Tinkerbell and pink leotard" story revolving around your senior year...

Ah, but that's another story. And one, if I'd like to keep my marriage intact, will never be told on this blog.

I’m currently reading Ekhart Tolle’s tome The Power of Now, a painfully esoteric novella (sorry Paivi) that goes on AT LENGTH about not living in the past or looking to the future, but to live in the present moment. What he fails to address (at least so far; I’m only 1/3 of the way through what I am fondly now calling my non-prescription Ambien) is “what if my Now sucks?”

I do think he has a point that too much focused attention on the past or the future can make you miss out on what is happening now. After all, today is yesterday’s future and tomorrow’s past (you see why the Ambien reference…). But there are those days when I long for the pained decision about which color leg-warmer will match the glitter dot I placed on my cheek (à la Cindy Crawford and her beauty mark) instead of the oh-so-adult-world decisions that I face today.

At least for today, living in this moment, I can say unequivocally that I am still alive. And breathing. A bit shallowly, but breathing nonethesless.

And thankful that striped eyeshadow never became a big fashion hit. It took a lot of work to look this good every day.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Maybe next year...

This was posted on the U.S. State Dept. website yesterday:

Nepal to Resume Intercountry Adoption

November 2008
As of this update, the Government of Nepal has not yet resumed processing intercountry adoptions. It is expected that the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (WCS) may begin accepting applications in January 2009; however, many procedures remain to be implemented at the Ministry and local levels before adoption processing can officially resume. In preparation for the resumption of intercountry adoptions, on October 25, 2008, the WCS published a list of 58 international adoption agencies that it has accredited to work in Nepal. Among the list are 32 U.S.-based agencies. U.S. prospective adoptive parents who are considering an adoption from Nepal should work with one of these approved agencies. The agencies are listed below in alphabetical order.We will update this notice as soon as there is additional information.

It's always another "month or so" away.... Looks like it is a certainty that we will be re-doing our entire dossier in Chicago.

As for China, the latest news is that the wait is up to 33-34 months.

Still haven't sold the house despite the fact that we have not slowed down in the number of people giving me 30 minutes notice (sometimes less) EVERY SINGLE DAY wanting to see our house. Our realtor brought over the comps for the last 6 months and they look bleak...lots of foreclosures in our zipcode going for $150k less than what we're asking. The appraisers will start their work on Monday.

I wonder if you can literally die from stress? Or does it just wreak havoc with your internal organs?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kooza!


Sunday we went on our every-other-year Cirque du Soleil adventure with Spiff and Paul. This year's show was called Kooza which you can preview here. This year it was held at the new National Harbor that has been recently built in MD across the river from Old Town. It's a nice area but alas, looks like any other town center with all of the proverbial shops and restaurants that you would find in any other town center.


An update on the house sale: our 60 days of listing will be up next Monday and we will start the appraisal process. On a good note, our realtor told us we were in the top 2 of houses one client was considering and today we had a woman come back with her father and brother for a 2nd viewing. Fingers crossed. If no offers are forthcoming, we will be through the appraisal process by December 17th and should be moving around that time. Should be an interesting holiday season for us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

VOTE

I know there are still some folks out there that are undecided about who they'll be casting a vote for today. I've been thinking about you undecideds, and wondering how you are managing. Surely right now you are feeling hammered by all sides on the issue.

But here's the thing: It's time to choose. I'm sorry, but it's true.

Now, you know how I want you to vote, and I know I really shouldn't add to the cacophony that is currently in your head about this election.

I am reminded of this great blog written by two best friends of 60 years and I think one of their entries sums it up brilliantly:

Which party has been screaming terrorist, socialist, Marxist, murder him and kill him… and which party has been talking about hope and unity.

Which party has been throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you everyday for the past two weeks hoping to scare you into thinking that there is an Un-American part of the country… and which party has been saying that there is no red America and no blue America but only the United States of America.

Which party thinks war is the answer to everything… and which party has suggested that maybe we need to sit down and talk this out to see if peace is possible.

Just for the record, I also believe that Obama isn't perfect. For Len he's not the dream liberal; in fact, he's far more centrist. The idea of Obama being a socialist is so ridiculous that it's laughable. Frankly, I have more socialist tendencies than he does.

For me, Obama represents a sense of healing. I really feel like he will unite us, and he will heal the damage done in the last eight years of fear and divisiveness. I do.

I am tired of living in fear. I am anxious enough about all of the changes in my personal life and I bet a lot of people now are anxious about the reality of what is happening to their retirement savings, their mortgages, their jobs. Do we really want someone who can only get your vote by scaring you with things that might happen in the future? Isn't what's happening today scary enough?

I know in many parts of the nation there is a still a great deal of fear about another terrorist attack. But you know what? The parts of the country where there actually WAS a terrorist attack? THEY WANT OBAMA. I realize that New York, Washington DC and part of Pennsylvania aren't "real America" according to some, but hey--that's where the planes crashed. Those are the Americans that lost their lives. If those folks who stood and watched their city crumble are willing to take a chance on Obama's ability to protect us, who are we to argue? It's not just b/c they are all gay and want to get married or they have changed their minds and cry "health of the mother" so they can abort their babies in the third trimester. Obama makes them feel SAFE.

So. You know how I want you to vote. But I'll still love you no matter WHO you vote for, I promise. Just choose. It's time. Get off the fence. CHOOSE.

And whatever happens tomorrow, let's all promise NOT to be like this woman who refused to give candy to trick-or-treaters who said they supported Obama. Because America? We are better than that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Does everything really need to be this difficult? Really?

When you put your house on the market, there are several things you must do. Rearrange furniture so it looks big,

It’s a Cape Cod! How big can it be???

keep all dishes out of the sink,

easy, just eat out a lot

make your bed EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT FAIL,

and the one day you don't you'll have 10 people come by without calling first

and lock up all valuables. That included locking up our two adoption notebooks since they contain every bit of personal information on us except how I lost my virginity

although I wouldn't be surprised if that made it into the homestudy…

I also decided, in an effort to focus on something other than this interminable wait, that I would not obsessively look through the adoption folders every week and since they were locked away that made it easy. Isn’t there a saying about good intentions…

Well today I needed to get a phone number out of the Nepal binder so I dug it out of the secret special locked down hiding place and while flipping through it I noticed our I-171 form.

It had expired.

On 9/22/08.

Over one month ago.

This form is from Homeland Security and without it, we cannot adopt.

That means that our dossier, which is currently in Nepal, is not completely up-to-date.

A little background on this one sheet of paper. We obtained our first I-171 when we filed to adopt from China. As the wait grew and we decided to do a concurrent adoption with Nepal, we found that we could transfer, for free, our I-171 from China to Nepal. So we did and then were re-fingerprinted because they were set to expire in July.

Unfortunately, even though it was re-issued for Nepal earlier this year, they continue to keep the original expiration date that we had when it was for China and that was last month. There is a one-time free extension if you request BEFORE YOUR CURRENT FORM EXPIRES.

Alas, in a misguided attempt to actually stop obsessing over these adoptions (and transfer that obsession to selling our house and moving) I missed the deadline. So today has resulted in frantic calls/emails to the USCIS office, our adoption agency, our home study agency, and to home study agencies in IL to find out if there are any pre-adoption requirements there that we would need to know about in case we end up moving before we travel to Nepal or get our new I-171 form.

oh, and someone else wanted to see the house so I had to leave for another hour in the middle of all these calls/emails

Here’s where we stand: I have downloaded an I-600A form from the USCIS website,

I don't care what Al Gore says, I think God invented the internet

and filled it out, made copies of our marriage certificate, birth certificates and paid the requisite fees (read: another large check was written to the Dept. of Homeland Security). That was mailed via Express Mail today. Our homestudy agency is re-issuing our homestudy report and sending it directly to USCIS. The one silver lining is that we won’t have to be re-fingerprinted (or pay the $80 per person fee) since they don’t expire until July 2009 which may mean it will be processed faster.

Megan is notifying the person who has our dossier that we have re-filed for the form and should have it within 4-6 weeks so that *hopefully* will not delay us getting a child match.

In the meantime, I am interviewing several home study agencies located in IL. If we move before we get our new I-171 or our referral and travel dates to Nepal, we will have to re-do the home study and several other pieces of our dossier to make it valid. If we don’t do that we will not be allowed a travel visa for our child to come back to the US.

Lesson learned: sometimes my obsessive-compulsive behavior is a good thing and to ignore it can cost lots of money and massive heart-palpitations.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ok, I take back the lightbulb joke

In the middle of Tihar, this announcement came out on adoptionnepal.com:

Government Announce Agency Listing: 58 approved

Kathmandu: The Nepal Government has announced 58 agencies as approved, from 10 different countries enabling only these to file applications to adopt Nepalese children internationally. 32 agencies have gotten approval in the USA while Germanu and Norway each had one approved. 8 agencies from Italy, 5 from Spain, 3 from Canada, and 2 each from France, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark have been approved.


69 applications had been received from various countries seeking approval to do international adoption from Nepal.

Likewise in the recent shuffle of the Secretaries, the Secretary of Women Children and Social Welfare, Mr. Punya Prasad Neupane, has been transferred and replaced by Mrs. Brinda Hadda.

Our agency was on the list and was confirmed by Megan, our adoption agent. She said that they "may" start accepting dossiers in 2 weeks. Ours is already there and in the hands of her lawyer in Nepal so when the government starts accepting them, we'll be ready. I hope I am happily surprised again....dare I hope?

In the meantime, Len is still in Chicago for work. We are continuing to get a fair amount of traffic in our house but so far no buyers. My brother is in town for work so we went out for breakfast and a movie yesterday, then he helped me rake up the leaves in our yard. This morning I had a long breakfast at our house with my good friends Sharon and Maggie. It was great to catch up with them--they were the women I ran the Marine Corps Marathon with 10 years ago!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is anyone surprised?

No, I didn't think so...if you are, then I have a nice bridge in DC that is yours for, say, the list price of our house which as yet remains unsold.

I am referring to the announcement of agencies approved by the Nepali government which was supposed to be done, oh, you know, in the next day or two but certainly before Tihar. Well, it is now after 9pm on Friday in Nepal and no announcement. Tihar starts tomorrow.

How many Nepalese does it take to change a lightbulb?

None. They keep saying they’ll do it tomorrow until you end up doing it yourself.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dustbunnies and Realtors

Saturday mornings now are not that relaxing anymore. Usually the phone rings by 9:30-10am with a realtor wanting to come by in the next 30 minutes with clients to see the house. This Saturday we had 4 realtors do that and they managed to spread themselves out so much that they were here between 10am-5pm. To fill the morning and early afternoon, we met Spiff, Paul and their friend Greg from Chicago at Jimmy T's in Capitol Hill for breakfast and then we strolled through Eastern Market afterwards. It turns out that Greg only lives about 20 blocks or so from our new place in Chicago and he works near Len's office downtown.


Len inside Eastern Market


At the meat counter...Hah!



Serious contemplation of cheese


Doesn't everyone need a leopard print box?


And really big white sunglasses?

Sunday was movie day (since yet more people were coming over). There are some great movies out right now. I recommend these that I've seen lately...Burn After Reading (only the Coen brothers could make two of the sexiest actors today look like complete dorks), Bill Maher's Religulous (not for the ultra-conservative and easily offended), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (ditto), The Duchess (lots of closeups of Keira Knightley's pained face) and Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (timely documentary: his playbook is still being used by the RNC. Scariest line: "People vote their fears...it doesn't matter what's true, it matters what people believe is true" uttered by Attwater referring to Willie Horton. Can you say "Ayers" or "Acorn"?).

For all of the traffic in and out of our house, we still have had no offers. When our realtor follows up, all of the comments are quite positive and most say they aren't in a real hurry to buy or they are still looking and not sure b/c of the lousy economy, etc. Fortunately, we only have until Nov. 17th when our 60 days of listing has passed and then we can start the buy-out program with Len's work. I can't imagine selling our house without this safety net. We should be moved by the end of December at the latest with this program. In the meantime, Len is in Chicago for the next 2 weeks. He's meeting up with Greg (see above) for dinner and also with Karen, our fabulous realtor in Chicago, on another night.

Charis and I are holding down the fort here. She is exhausted from running away from the vacuum cleaner, the mop and the dust spray on a more-than-normal basis. The final affront was when I rousted her out from under the covers so I could make the bed. She's not very useful but she is cute.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Will it be announced before Tihar? Ummm....what do you think.

This was today's news on adoptionnepal.com:

Committee Recommends Agency Listing

Kathmandu: The Investigating, Recommendation and Monitoring Committee, Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare recently held a meeting to recommend agencies for listing. The committee has concluded to list names of 58 agencies out of 69 applications received from different countries. The Government of Nepal will have to give approval on this listing before it can be formally announced. Sources have confirmed that the committee has rejected 4 applications as it was filed after the deadline date while 7 applications needs to update their documents. The government is likely to announce the listing before the coming Tihar festival.


The Tihar festival begins this Saturday, October 25 and continues through Wednesday, October 29. That means the listings would have to be announced by this Friday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What happened to Joe Six-Pack?


All I can say is thank goodness Joe the Plumber wasn't part of last night's shot game or we would not be upright.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mavericky Maverick


Charis is ready for the final debate tonight. She's got on her camouflage hat and is resting up for shots: one drink for "My friends", two drinks for "fundamental difference" (in a show of bipartisanship, that one counts no matter which candidate utters it) and three drinks for invoking Reagan. Cheers!
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping…into the future

Why no news out of Nepal on the agencies certified to facilitate adoptions internationally? It’s Festival season. Today is the last day of Dashain in Nepal. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar. Nepalis of all caste, creed and financial classes celebrate Dashain and travel en masse to their home villages to accept tikas (red vermillion paste daubed on the forehead) from their elders. Regardless of its religious underpinnings, Dashain symbolizes a fortnight for families to be together – not unlike Americans’ propensity to travel home for the Christmas and Chanukah holidays, which may or may not have any thing to do with intentions of celebrating the birth of Jesus. But the rituals of Dashain differ sharply from Christmas or Chanukah in length (Dashain is fifteen days long, ending with the full moon of the Nepalese lunar month of Kartik), purity (there’s no Santa Claus-like competition or contamination) and mounting controversy (the nationwide beheading of animals).

The primary focus throughout Dashain is Durga, the Hindu divine mother goddess in all her manifestations. The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolized by Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorized the earth in the guise of a monstrous water buffalo. It’s not just that Durga must be worshipped; Durga must be appeased. If she is properly attended to and pleased, good fortune will follow. If she is angered through the people’s neglect, misfortune will swiftly waylay the miscreants.

The first nine days signify the nine days of battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolise the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess.

But wait, there’s more. Unfortunately, right after Dashain is the Festival of Tihar. This festival of lights that falls between October/November is the second biggest festival after Dashain. It lasts for five days and people worship Laxmi – the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned, well lit and decorated with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter the house that is the cleanest. During the five days, crows, dogs and cows are worshipped and honored with vermilion, garland and delicious food for what they have done in the lives of humans. Crows are regarded as the messenger that brought news even during the times when there were no postmen and no postal services. Dogs are the most obedient animals and they guard our house as true guardians. Cows are also a symbol of wealth in Hinduism and are also the national animal of Nepal. During Tihar, the Newari community in Nepal also observes Mha puja – a ritual of worshipping one’s own body and life. On this day, the Newari New Year which is also known as Nepal Sambat begins. The festival ends with Bhai Tika – brothers’ day when his sisters worship him for his long and healthy life to safeguard the lives of his sisters.

So, time drags on here as we wait for the government to reopen and for any news whatsoever to trickle out. Since our house is still on the market, I do believe that Laxmi will enter our house—it has been meticulously clean and well lit for nigh on 4 weeks now. Now to find that crow…I really need a messenger with some good news right about now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A great fall weekend

Fall seems to have kicked summer out and has settled in. With summer gone the shows at Wolf Trap are held in the Barns which is where we found ourselves on Saturday night with Roddy and Gretchen. The Iguanas were playing and provided entertainment not only with their music but from the audience's attempts at dancing. For those not familiar with the Iguanas, click here for a sample.



Sunday we had another Open House in what can only be considered the worst possible time to sell your house. We had about 15 couples come through but again, no serious buyers. Since we had to be out of our house for the majority of the day, we went to Winchester with Paivi and Euan. After a rather mundane lunch (we are 0-2 at picking eating establishments in that town), the afternoon was salvaged with a trip to a local vineyard.




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Friday, October 10, 2008

Getting to tomorrow

Many people have asked us why we have not looked into domestic adoption instead of continuing with the massive uncertainty of international adoptions. There have been many reasons I have given and I have never wavered in that certainty, even with the lengthening wait times and unstable governments. Here is another example of why we will not consider a domestic adoption. I have been following the journey of a couple who struggled for several years with infertility, then decided to adopt from Kazakhstan. They had a bait and switch situation in Kazakhstan where the child they were matched to wasn't the child they were shown, then were told they needed to pay several thousand more in order to get another child in another part of the country or return to the U.S. empty-handed. They eventually did find their daughter, "Moonpie", and returned home. They then decided to adopt domestically for their second child. After being chosen by nine different birth mothers who all changed their minds before giving birth, the day had finally come when it looked like she would finally get her second child:

Tron was born Tuesday night, at 7:59, at a whopping 7 lbs 12 oz. We didn't get to cut the cord, as he slipped into the world during what we thought was a routine pelvic check and were standing in a separate room.

We watched him get cleaned and weighed, and held him, and gave him his first bottle. We snuggled with him all day yesterday, changing poopy diaper after poopy diaper and getting sprayed with pee in the process. Then this morning we brought him home from the hospital, a family of four. Gracie put the name we chose on the birth certificate, with our last name. He was, in every way, ours.

In adoption, there is a 10% chance a family will change their mind about placement. Given Gracie''s assurances yesterday, we were not worried at all about the adoption going forward.
This morning we went to the hospital to get Tron. It took a while to get there, and his discharge took a little longer than expected, but we made it home by noon. And there was much pooping, and bottle eating, and then napping. Moonpie got to hold him, and was so thrilled to be a big sister.

And then my cellphone rang.

D answered it, my lap being full of baby at that point, and suddenly shouted "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE F**ING KIDDING ME!"

It was George. They wanted Tron back.

We met them at our adoption agency's office and talked with them for a while. They are making an emotional decision in what is a very emotional time, and nothing the social workers said had any sway with them. They are deluded about their financial situation, thinking only of today. They will use their food stamps. George thinks he maybe sorta kinda might get hired from a temp to full-time. Etc. etc.

D and I mostly sat silent, holding hands, hugging Moonpie. She sobbed when we told her Tron had to go live with George and Gracie instead of us. "I want my baby brother! I want Tron!" she sobbed, and I sobbed with her.

I laid Tron in Gracie's arms, and she didn't even look at him.

When we were in Petropavolvsk, and they told us they had taken us to the other side of the world to get a baby and then told us there were none, I told God that I didn't understand. I didn't understand why he would do that to us, why he would put us through all that we had been through. And then we got a call that Moonpie was waiting for us just ten hours away, and we met the child who was exactly meant for us. I got to love Tron for a day, and I will never forget him. Of course we are hurting right now, but George and Gracie hurt, too.
In adoption, no one wins.

We are going home tomorrow. We are strong, we are a family, we will be ok. We need to give Moonpie the security and reassurance that her world will never change, that she will never be taken away from us. And we need to grieve the loss of our almost son.

We just need to get to tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hairballs

Charis seems to have a new nightly routine. It involves going up and down the stairs a minimum of 8 times a night. Each time she arrives at the upstairs landing, she announces her arrival with a rather loud meow. This is followed by her clicking toenails a few steps towards our door and another, even louder meow.

“Murphewyr,” I mutter, in an effort to get her to jump on the bed and go to sleep.

Only this time she doesn’t go for it. She clicks away from the room and continues to howl and then the howl changes to that deep, guttural moan that indicates only one thing: a hairball has worked its way loose and is on the way up. I leap out of bed, snatching a Kleenex as I go, knowing that she is probably on the only patch of carpet in the house—the newly re-carpeted stairs. I get to her just as the heaving begins and whisk her to the wood floor with one second to spare. After a quick cleanup, Charis seems a little too happy for the attention as she starts to purr and saunters off, tail high. Mission accomplished: I am awake and have given her some attention. Now she can go back to sleep.

As I crawl back into bed, Len groans that he doesn’t think he'll be able to get back to sleep (because laying there under the warm covers NOT cleaning up kitty puke is quite taxing...). We lay there a few minutes...

"I have something to tell you," Len mutters.

"What?" I ask, knowing from his tone that something isn't right.

"I quit my job last week. I've just been pretending to go to work every day."

And there went the bottom of my world, dropping silently into the vacuum of space.

"You did what?" I scream, shaking with anger.

"I quit my job. But it's cool, we'll think of something."

“But I'm not working! We have our house on the market! We just put a contract and a large chunk of money on a house in Chicago! And the baby! We are about to F*#@%ING adopt a baby! And not just one baby, but TWO BABIES! How could you do that to me? How could you do that to us?”

And I got so angry screaming these things at Len that I woke myself up.

See how much more compelling dreams are when people think they are true?

Moving anxiety anyone?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pictures of Nepal from Tamar

You may remember that I spoke about Tamar in this post. She has since sent a photo album of really amazing pictures from her time in Nepal.

Click here to enjoy her photos. Once on the photo page, click slideshow to view the pictures a little larger.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The news after a long week away

First, the latest as of today out of Nepal:

Reshuffel delays listing

Kathmandu: Under the recent reshuffle of 45 Joint Secretaries the Coordinator of the International Adoption Investigation Recommendation Committee Mr. Binod Kumar Adhikari and Coordinator of Matching Committee of Central Child Welfare Board Mr. Mahendra Bahadur Shrestha have also been transferred. This has slowed the listing process of international adoption agencies, the listing process was almost done otherwise. The two Joint Secretaries have been transferred to the Prime Minister’s office. Ms. Mandira Poudyal and Mr. Hari Krishna Poudyal has replaced as Joint Secretaries at Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare though it’s not yet decided who will fill in at which post.

And the latest from China:

The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered before February 28, 2007.

The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered before February 09, 2006.

The current wait is 31 months from LID which means we still have 13 months to go.

Also, this was an interesting article:

Post-Olympics Step One: Illegalizing De Facto Adoption

After months of speculation and behind-the-door negotiation and brainstorming, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs has finally received the blessing and support of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Health, and the General Office of Family Planning Commission and published the Notification on Resolving Issues Related to Domestic Common-law Adoption on September 22, 2008.

There are many reasons for the gradual decline of the orphan population in China . Private de facto adoption in China is considered to be one of the major factors. It has been a growing trend in recent years that abandoned children found by private Chinese citizens are often not delivered to the government-run orphanages—social welfare houses, as the Chinese government calls them—but kept by the “finders” and therefore become part of a “de facto” adoption.

When a child is abandoned and subsequently delivered to an orphanage, the orphanage will first publish an announcement to look for the child’s birth parents for sixty days. If no birth parents or relatives come forward to reclaim the child, the child will legally be under the government’s custody, which allows the child the following benefits: receiving a birth certificate and a certificate of residency, which is essential for the child to receive public education, Medicare, and other governmental benefits that a legal citizen/resident is entitled to.

Since no de facto adoptions go through a public announcement for a birth-parent search—a necessary legal step to grant a child’s legal status—all the children of de facto adoption become illegitimate citizens (or “black residents” as they are commonly called in China) and therefore face the real possibility and danger of losing legal protection in the event of “adoptive” parental divorce, family financial difficulties, issues of inheritance, public education, future employment, and so on.

The CCAA strongly believes that legal protection for these children and finding them a loving home internationally far outweigh the de facto adoptive parents’ desire to raise the children they “found.” The latest announcement is no doubt a huge success for the CCAA’s advocacy on behalf of the abandoned children.

How will this impact international adoption, or specifically the time frame of child match? It is hard to guess its short-term impact, but in long run, the CCAA expects not only the final stop of expansion but eventual shortening of the wait-time, if the Notification is carefully and effectively followed.
_____________

In other news, we just got home today after a week of house hunting in Chicago and now, drumroll please....we put an offer down on a place in Chicago on Friday! We saw around 20 condos in 3 days and then went back to 3 for a second look. In the evenings, we hung out in the neighborhoods and talked to people walking home after work from the L. Wednesday I hung out in the local playlot and talked to parents and then went to the BEACH! for the afternoon before Len got off work. So, we decided on a place, made the offer on Friday, spent the rest of the day Friday and a great portion of Saturday haggling out the details of the offer with the seller and voila! We signed the contract and forked over our earnest money deposit. Now, we just have to sell this house!

Based on voice mails, we had 9 realtors show the house while we were gone and our realtor said about 25 groups of people came for the open house. We are also getting a fair amount of web traffic generated through realtors and web-based house searches.

I will try to post pics tomorrow of our new place and of the trip in general. For now, our new condo is located in Uptown about 4-5 blocks from the lake/beach in the city of Chicago. Yay.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Moving to Chicago Party

We had 54 of our closest friends over on Saturday. Len and I were honored to have so many friends come to help us say goodbye to DC. We have only lived here 10 years but we have made some really great friends and we will truly miss throwing these parties. Please enjoy the photos!

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