Thursday, June 30, 2011

Water park fun

Today our mama group met at a local park that had a water feature.  I wasn't sure exactly how wet Kate would get so I did not bring her swimsuit.  That was a mistake.

Day 20: Nicknames

Does this mean nicknames I am known by or nicknames I use for others?

I don't really know what I was called by my parents other than Lisa...and LISA KATE!! when I was in trouble. Maybe my mom can shed some light on this one?  I know I call Kate all kinds of endearments and would love to know what I was known by as a tot.

The earliest nickname I can remember being given to me was Stub-toes sometime in middle school.  It was quite alliterative when combined with my last name and made reference to my rather short (I prefer "delicate") toes.  And my friend Laurie, who bequeathed the nickname, still calls me that on occasion.  In the 10th grade, my friend Joy and I came up with nicknames for not only ourselves by our entire circle of friends.  My name was Minnerva Jane Zinkpix and hers was Zelda Mae Xyres.  We signed all notes with those monikers and answered only when addressed by them.  My brother was dubbed Roquefurt Xerksey Higglesizzembottombloomer, even though he was a senior in college and not even remotely involved in our antics.  We just needed another person for the cool name we came up with and we had run out of friends.  Try as I might, I cannot seem to remember any of the other 10 or so names we came up with. 

Nowadays, most close friends call me Lis (sounds like Leese). 

That's pretty much it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The end is near

Which means we have a definite window of time left to wait.  11-15 weeks from yesterday until we will be on a plane for China.  That means the soonest we would leave would be September 13 (or the weekend prior if they send travel groups on weekends) and the latest would be October 11. 

Only one question remains...what should Lucy and Kate be for Halloween?  How do you dress up like a dream come true and a giant sigh of relief combined?

Day 19: Something you miss

I miss a lot of things.  I miss Florida beaches.  I miss Louisiana food. I miss teaching (but not grading papers). I miss design (but not writing up contracts or specifications).  I miss my family, especially now that we have Kate and will soon have Lucy.  I miss the friends we've made and left behind in all of our moves. I miss having the energy I had even just 10 years ago. I miss being able to spontaneously leave the house without packing like a Sherpa.  I miss reading on a plane. I miss being able to open a cabinet without there being a child-lock on it.

BTW, those of you with kids, is that not one of the single most annoying things about having a toddler??  And you'd think I would remember it by now but EVERY SINGLE TIME I open a cabinet I am jerked back towards the door as it catches on the latch.  And EVERY SINGLE TIME I have to stifle a very loud motherf*cker!

And sometimes I miss being able to say what I want to say without fear of hearing it repeated by my 17 month old.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 18 Challenge: Something you regret

I try very hard not to live with regrets. It seems to me that when you are always looking back at something you cannot change, you will miss out on what is happening right now.  I see every relationship I've had, whether it was with a friend or with a friend and something a little extra (how's that for a politically correct euphemism?), as a chance to learn. I don't regret any of my relationships or any of my career decisions. 

I do say somewhat wistfully when I'm having a little harder time getting off the floor with Kate that I wish I had had children when I was younger.  But I'm not really serious about that.  Yes, it would be awesome to have the energy and stamina of my 20s right now but then I would have to forgo patience and life-experience. And really, I was incredibly self-centered until about my mid-30s (hey, I'm a late-bloomer) so having a child would not have been in anyone's best interests.

Now, while all of that sounds lovely and rosy, I do look back and think, what if I had done X differently?  And sometimes I follow that line of thought until I fall down the rabbit-hole, opening and closing different doors, shrinking and growing with each possible scenario, until I realize that I'm suddenly sitting at a tea party with the Mad Hatter and a Hare and everybody is just a bit loony, including me.  So before someone can yell Off with her head! I snap back to reality and know that every decision I've made, whether good or bad, has lead me to where I am today.  And that's a pretty good place to be.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The next steps

To answer the many questions I know you have, here is what our agency rep. has told us will be happening next:

There are several steps in this process before the CCCWA (the is the Chinese authority in charge of adoptions) will be completing your travel approval. Typically, the timeline for the I-800 approvals can be 2-3 weeks. Once we receive your approved I-800A and I-800, we will FedEx it along with your DS 230 (which is additional paperwork for you to complete and will be sent to you via our travel department) paperwork to our Rep in Guangzhou.  In roughly 7-10 days after receiving your approved I-800, you will receive your NVC Letter, which you will then send us a copy as soon as possible so that we can forwarded to our Rep in China who will then walk-in all your papers to the US Consulate in Guangzhou. It then takes approximately two and a half weeks for your Article 5 to be issued. Once this happens, one of our Reps in Guangzhou will pick up your Article 5 from the US Consulate.  It is on or around this day that we are notified of your Article 5 being issued and we immediately email you to let you know. Your Article 5 is mailed by our Rep in Guangzhou to our CCAI office in Beijing.  Then, our co-workers at the Beijing office hand-deliver your Article 5 to the CCCWA and 2-4 weeks later you receive your travel approval.  After CCAI receives your travel approval, our travel department will then ask the US Consulate in Guangzhou for your consulate appointment.  This process can take 2-5 business days.  Once our travel department receives your consulate appointment, travel arrangements can be made. 

Easy Peasy! Except for the paperwork part.  We are getting closer!!!

Guess what?!

Totally. We got this today.

Next step is to send it to CCAI and they will file our I-800. oh, and send in a stack of other paperwork. And file for Visas. And wire the orphanage fee over. And start planning in earnest!!!! Yay!

Have I properly conveyed my happiness? No?


Day 17 Challenge: Something you're looking forward to

Um. That's obvious. I'm so ready for this adoption paperwork to be OVER and for us to go to Lucy.  The wait for I-800A approval is typically 2-3 months.  We have passed 2 months and are heading quite steadily towards 3. Why can't we ever be in the shorter range?? We seem always to be stuck in the line with the lady who has a box of coupons, can't find her license when buying liquor and/or needs manager approval for an over-ride.

So, in the short-term, I'm looking forward to our forward movement in the paperwork department.  In the long-term, I'm looking forward to finally bringing Lucy home and having this long part of the journey end.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 16 Challenge: Dream House

For a designer, this is a tough one.  I find it's a lot easier to design for someone else's dream than my own.  Mainly because I limited my clients to, in general, three possible directions to take.  That is the most that many people can handle and if I've done my homework correctly, they will not be disappointed in the three selections to choose from.

My problem is that I know what the possibilities are from all the trade mags I peruse.  I love a Spanish-style hacienda by the beach.  I also love the ultra-modern, glass-enclosed high rise with spectacular views of the city.  Don't forget the down-home charm of a cottage with a porch and white picket fence.  And the lovely Swiss chalets I saw in Zurich were almost more than I could bear. 

I would say that to narrow the list, my must haves in a dream home are:
  • a front porch (don't currently have but we do have 2 decks)
  • a top of the line chef's kitchen (we have a mid-line kitchen but the counter-space is awesome)
  • a luxurious bath with heated floors, towel warmer, steam shower, bidet and double vanity (Yes!!, except for the towel warmer)
  • Lots of windows to let in light (check!)
  • Large master bedroom with sitting area (check again!)

Day 15 Challenge: A Bible Verse

Seriously?  Who made these challenges up?  Obviously not someone who follows the Koran or the teachings of The Buddha.

So I ask Len what his favorite verse is and I get this:

Len: Isn't there something about the wings of eagles?

Me: I think that's a Celine Dion song.

Len: This is your blog post, not mine.

Me: Your mother is saying novenas in her urn.

The only one I can come up with is

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken meeeeeee!

Lisa: Truly.

Len: Verily.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Still not big enough

That's what she said...

- Posted using BlogPress from my fabulously wonderful iPad!

Trying again with the iPad

So this time I played around with the picture size and I hope the scale is better.

It's important to be able to ascertain just how far up her nose she's digging.

- Posted using BlogPress from my fabulously wonderful iPad!

Day 14 Challenge: A picture I love

Grainy and not exactly wearing my Sunday best but this picture takes me back to January 12, 2010 instantly.  This was taken by Len on his cell phone only an hour or so after I had given birth. No makeup. No hair styling.  Just the realization that I had given birth the way I wanted to with no need for medical intervention or drugs and that Kate was perfectly fine. 

This was also before I found out they wouldn't discharge me until I peed the requisite amount into a basin.  And the two (TWO!) catheters.  And the constant surveillance of me on the basin.  I don't think I ever mentioned in either the Labor Story Part 1 or Part 2 that Len was the one who broke me out of hospital prison.  He peed in the basin for me because I just could not go in the hospital with a nurse standing over me.  And the minute we walked in our door at home, I headed straight for the loo and peed in private.

Yes, this picture has many meaningful memories. And a good backstory!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Attempting to post from iPad

Testing publishing from my iPad. Here's Kate pointing out how many teeth she has now...12 if you are wondering. And she's cutting her incisors now so fun stuff.

Day 13 Challenge: Goals

Wow.  There are so many.  And it seems so daunting to think about writing them all down.

Now that I've managed to reach most all of my goals last year (keep Kate alive, nurse Kate for a year, decide once and for all if we will switch our China paperwork to the SN line, have regular date nights with Len) my focus has shifted to more mundane tasks...like losing weight, and more fundamentally challenging tasks...like figuring out how to retain ME when what defines me every day is being a mom.

The mundane task of losing weight is not so hard to figure out. Eat less. Exercise. Easier said than done but there it is.

The harder challenge is balancing being a full-time mom and all that entails while carving out time to do the things that feed my soul like reading, drawing, writing, yoga and dancing.  I have let most of those things go by the wayside this past year.  With the exception of the few books I've managed to squeeze in at bedtime and writing these blog posts, the rest has fallen away.  Bellydancing? Not since I was pregnant.  Yoga? Sporadically when I'm not running errands or attending doctor appointments in my few hours of nanny-time.  Drawing? Again, not since I was pregnant. 

So my main goal this year will be to find balance.  Should I manage to attain it before Lucy comes, I will probably be re-visiting this discussion again.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 12 Challenge: What you believe

I've been dreading this topic.  Mainly because I've been working on this for my entire 45 years it seems.  I've dabbled in many different forms of religion/spirituality and have never felt like any of them fit.  I'm always impressed with people who can say with absolute certainty that they believe in God, and not just in God, but in THEIR God.  That their form of religion (usually one passed down from their parents which to me is kind of a cop-out) is THE WAY, not taking into account that others who were raised in their form of religion also believe just as fervently that they are correct.  I guess impressed is probably the wrong word.  Astounded is closer to reality. 

As far as what core principles I believe in, here's a stab at some of them:

I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way...

Oh wait, that's a song.  Do-over!

I believe...
  • that you don't need to believe in a god or a form of religion to be a moral person.  Some of the most moral people I know are atheists.  Conversely, I believe that people who are the most "religious" among us seem to have the hardest time abiding by the principles they espouse.
  • in love.  And forgiveness.  I don't think it solves every problem but it can go a long way towards righting what's wrong.
  • in eating really good, organic food and not having to pay a month's salary for it.
  • that if our government can't find a way to work together, our country will be in bigger trouble than we thought possible.
  • that the practice of yoga has saved my sanity on many occasions.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 10 Challenge: Something you're afraid of

(oops! 10 comes before 11 right?)

The first thing that comes to mind is bugs.  But really, now that I have a kid, bugs schmugs.  I can deal with them.

Most of the time.

And I have Len to kill bugs, so there's that.

No, what I am most afraid of now is something happening either to Kate, Lucy, Len or me.  Never have I felt more vulnerable than in the 17 months that Kate has been a part of my life.  It's not just me I have to be worried about any more.  I am responsible for another person's life.

It's not that I'm paralyzed about these things every single time we go out but it does occur to me that when I am putting Kate in her carseat I am a sitting duck for anyone who would want to rob us, take the car, etc.  I have always been someone who was aware of her surroundings, having my keys out prior to getting to a door, making sure to look at anyone who was around me.  But now I seem to be hyper-aware.  I choose my routes more carefully when walking with Kate in her stroller. I look around us before opening the car and putting her in.  I check to be sure that the park isn't completely abandoned while we're there.

I can only imagine that my fears will double once I'm responsible for two.  And it's not just keeping them alive.  It's keeping Len and me alive and well so that we are here to take care of them.  The thought of leaving Kate orphaned (and Lucy orphaned for a second time) is unthinkable.

There it is.  Seeing it written down doesn't make it any easier.

Day 11 Challenge: Favorite TV Shows

Will you think less of me if I say Gossip Girl?  Because I totally love that show.  The fashion alone is worth the price of shame.

I used to love the original La Femme Nikita staring Peta Wilson and although I do like the newest version, simply titled Nikita, it pales in comparison to the original.

I always enjoy the mind-numbing qualities of some reality-based shows like Survivor, So You Think You Can Dance? and America's Next Top Model.

For less brain-numbing fare I turn to CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes.

I've been very happy to see sitcoms make a reappearance.  My favorites are Modern Family and Traffic LightRaising Hope is a good one too.

BTW, I totally ran into the star of Raising Hope, Lucas Neff, at our local Swedish Bakery.  Kate and I were out for a stroll and I saw him walk into the bakery.  Of course I followed him in, stalked him long enough to ascertain that he was indeed Lucas Neff and then introduced myself.  Alas, I didn't have a camera on me at the time.  He was a very nice guy, grew up in our neighborhood and was back home for Christmas visiting family.  Seemed quite happy that someone actually recognized him which was good since I really didn't want to make him uncomfortable (stalking comment notwithstanding).

Otherwise, I really don't get a lot of time to watch tv.  All of the shows mentioned above are never watched in real-time.  I DVR everything and try to watch in the evenings before collapsing into bed.

Or write a blog post on my favorite tv shows.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Do you see a pattern?

Because I sure don't.  I've been tracking Kate's nap times (or, the lack thereof) since April, trying to see if maybe there is some rhyme or reason to her seemingly random napping.  And I sure can't figure it out.  See?
Do YOU see any pattern other than randomness??  I only put her down for a nap in the mornings when I see her rubbing her eyes and then sometimes she will sleep and sometimes not.  In the afternoons, she goes in there by 1pm at the latest (after lunch) whether she is rubbing her eyes or not.  Mainly because I need a break.  If she doesn't go to sleep she normally uses that time to sing to her kitty and poop.  So I go in after 20 or so minutes, change the diaper in the dark, and back into the crib she goes.  Sometimes she will sleep.  50% of the time she will poop again!  Rinse and repeat.  Either way, she ends up spending at least 1-1 1/2 hours in the dark. 

I cannot figure this kid out.  Oh, and she sleeps through the night, 7pm-6:30am typically.  So that's something right?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 9 Challenge: A picture of your friends

Well, this one is just impossible.  ONE picture??!  Our Mardi Gras parties alone usually had at least 50-60 people we considered good friends....

Ok, so I'll choose my most recently-made friends.  These are the ladies I've been meeting with since Kate was 6 weeks old, except for Sara, who I met at our Bradley birth class.  All of our babies are within a month of two of each other in age.  It has been invaluable to have friends in a new city who are going through the same phase of life that I am.  We get together and talk about things that would make most others yawn and eye the exits...chapped nipples, poop, projectile vomit, nap schedules, vaccinations, toddler eating issues.  Of course we do manage to get some good girl talk in but since the kiddoes have started actually moving about our days of leisurely eating lunch while our babies laid like slugs are over.  If we eat at all, it more closely resembles what Sara has termed, "prison eating"; eating with only one hand and as fast as you can shovel it in.

We meet every Thursday, snow, rain or shine, and they have saved my sanity on more than one occasion. Sadly, Allison (2nd from left) moved to Denver shortly after this photo was taken.

From left to right: Sara, Allison, Alison, me, Krisha and Margaret.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


My anniversary gift to Len this year was a private flight over Chicago.  It was delayed last week because of bad weather but yesterday was gorgeous so we set out at 10am for our flight out of Midway.  It was a bit hazy over the city itself but overall we got some good shots.

Here we are waiting for takeoff.
Midway Airport
The south side of Chicago
 Soldier Field, home of Da Bears
The Adler Planetarium
Grant Park with Sears Willis Tower in background
Navy Pier
Lincoln Park Harbor
Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs (no game today, alas)
Our 'hood and Foster Beach
Another shot of downtown
Landing back at Midway

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I have to say that one of the best things about having a child is watching them learn...every single day there is something new.  Yesterday's new thing was "nudel!"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 8: A place you've traveled to

Let me just say that I'm glad this was not "the favorite place you've traveled to" because that would have been a very difficult choice.  I generally love at least something about every place I've been. 

The nightlife in Toronto.
The mountains (and yes, the beaches) in Jamaica.
The ruggedness of Mexico.
The craziness of LA.
The laid-back vibe in Seattle.
The classic buildings in DC.
The attitude in Boston.
The unbelievable characters you see in South Beach, FL.
The music scene in Austin, TX.
The food in Italy.
The air in Switzerland.
The Louvre in Paris.
The shopping in London.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Everything in NYC.

And then there is Greece.  It has been quite some time since we've traveled out of the country and Greece was our last trip, way back in 2006.  We kept putting off vacation plans thinking we would soon be headed to China and/or Nepal.  Lesson learned: don't live for what *might* happen in the future.  Live your life now.

So, Greece.  We were fortunate to go with Katherine and Don, Kate's Yia Yia and Papou.  Katherine is Greek, from Cefalonia, and was returning to tour through a program put together by GW University.  We started and ended our tour in Athens, traveling to several different locations including Kefalonia, Delphi and Ithaca, with lessons about Greek history given by a GW professor as we were standing where history was made. Nothing brings Homer alive more than listening to a reading of it as you are on a boat touring Ithaca.

Dining at the foot of the Parthenon:
 The next morning, looking down on the restaurant we had dinner at the night before:
Lunch! The food was AMAZING everyplace we went.  Yep, that's my mom in the front!
Beautiful scenery
until you zoom the camera lens to get the other part of the jetty...
The water was a lot colder than I had expected and the shores much rockier
The rugged beauty was everywhere
We took a short day trip up into the mountains of Cephalonia to visit with Katherine's family
And our last night in Athens...From left to right: Katherine, me, Greta, George, Len, Don and my mom, Nancy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 7 challenge: Favorite Movies

My absolute favorite movie of all time is Amélie, a 2001 French movie.  It is one of those movies that you continue to replay in your head long after the credits have rolled.  It has humor, love, passion, suspense, and just enough quirkiness to tie it all together.  Not to mention that the cinematography was stunning.  The colors were so saturated...something the designer in me is a sucker for.  

Unfortunately, all movies after that are a far second.  But since the challenge is movieS I guess I need to name a few more.  Nearly every movie that Johnny Depp has been in--that will get me to the box office right quick.  Cary Grant is another sure-fire bet for a great movie. 

I enjoy some of the old classic movies like North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train, all of The Godfather series, as well as the more recent classic When Harry met Sally. 

I love Groundhog Day simply because of Bill Murray and the combo of Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss in What About Bob? leaves me in fits of laughter.  Nearly every movie by Monty Python makes the list with my favorite being Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  

Sir Lancelot: We were in the nick of time. You were in great peril.
Sir Galahad: I don't think I was.
Sir Lancelot: Yes, you were. You were in terrible peril.
Sir Galahad: Look, let me go back in there and face the peril.
Sir Lancelot: No, it's too perilous.
Sir Galahad: Look, it's my duty as a knight to sample as much peril as I can.
Sir Lancelot: No, we've got to find the Holy Grail. Come on.
Sir Galahad: Oh, let me have just a little bit of peril?
Sir Lancelot: No. It's unhealthy.
Sir Galahad: I bet you're gay.
Sir Lancelot: Am not.

When a movie makes it difficult to pick just one scene to quote from, it gets my vote. I cannot even tell you how many times I've watched this movie.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 6 Challenge: A picture of something that makes me happy

I was asked the other day if I felt like I loved Lucy yet.  I suppose that's a fair question, just not one that I had thought about.  My immediate reaction was to say, "Of course!  She's my daughter after all" and yet I paused and really thought about my answer.  I have never met Lucy.  She doesn't even know I exist.  She has lived for 18 months blissfully unaware of the massive upheaval she will experience in a few short months. And I have lived her entire life without ever touching her, my daughter.

Meanwhile, I have had my pregnancy + 17 months to fall in love with Kate.  My love for Kate has grown from the fierce, adrenaline-fueled post-birth love to an intense, protective, yet proud love.  I am sometimes knocked over by those feelings.

So, how do I feel about Lucy?  I was shocked and somewhat upset that I didn't feel that same surge upon seeing Lucy's referral picture that I felt upon seeing Kate's newborn face.  I somehow thought that when our child was referred to us that I would immediately feel that she was "the one" and love would immediately well up within me.  In fact, it has taken some time.  I have Lucy's pictures in frames around the house, in Kate's room, on my iPad, on the fridge, in my wallet.   I look at her every day and try to imagine what she must be doing, eating, playing with.  I wonder if she has received the care packages we've sent and if she is wearing the pajamas to bed.  I wonder if she can walk and talk.

So what was my answer to my friend?

Yes.  I love Lucy. More and more each day.  And her picture always makes me smile.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Reading by a fellow blogger

Saturday evening Len had some work-related stuff to do so I headed out to a book reading by one of my favorite bloggers, Matt Logelin. His blog is over in my blogroll on the right side of the page--Matt, Liz and Madeline.  He started writing a blog much like I did, to keep his far-flung family and friends abreast of their lives and the birth of their first child.  It turned into a source of great inspiration and hope for both Matt and his readers as their story turned tragic.  Not even 48 hours after the birth of their daughter, Matt's wife, Liz, died of a pulmonary embolism.  His blog kept him from plunging into the depths of despair as thousands of readers helped him figure out how to raise a newborn on his own.  From that saga he got a book deal (hence the book reading at a local pub that I attended last night) and I believe he is in discussions over movie rights as well.  I was thrilled and relieved to discover that he really is as nice and down-to-earth as he comes across on his blog.  The bar venue was so much nicer than book readings I've attended in the past as you could just sit at the bar and talk to the author like you would a friend. 
I bought his book (of course--you kind of have to buy a copy if you want it signed) and have just started reading it.  I often wonder if it's worth it to buy a book by someone who has already pretty much written their life down in real time...for free on a blog.  He told us though that he was under contract with the publisher that only 10% of the book could be from the blog.  From what I can tell after reading the first 2 chapters, he held to that.  I'll post a review once I've finished it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Andersonville Midsommarfest!

This weekend was the annual summer street festival in our 'hood. Street festivals are one of the really fabulous things about Chicago.  You can find one nearly every weekend in neighborhoods around the city.

Saturday we had planned to celebrate our anniversary with a private flight over Chicago-land but the weather was so bad that we had to reschedule for next weekend.  Since Tricha was already booked to take care of Kate for a few hours, we decided to work on getting the rest of our adoption paperwork ready to send out as soon as we get I-800A approval.  Tricha and her partner Maria took Kate to the Midsommarfest for a bit--if you are facebook friends with Len or me you can see the video Tricha took of her dancing to the puppetbike guy on our page.  After we finished up our paperwork we headed to Chinatown for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Lao Sze Chuan before coming home to spend the afternoon with Kate.

Although the temps were chilly on Sunday (in the 60s but it felt cooler with the breeze off the lake), the sun was shining which was a nice change of pace so we headed out for lunch and shopping at the festival.  We ran into Tricha and Maria at lunch so we crashed their table and lunched with them before heading to the children's area to play with home-made play-doh.  Kate got some lavender scented play-doh to play with.
Then we headed down the street for some shopping, some music, some bubbles!
As the afternoon wore on and the street became impossible to maneuver with a stroller, we headed home on one of the quieter streets with Kate holding her balloon kitty.


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