Tuesday, February 28, 2006

New pictures

It's always so great to open an email and see pictures of Isabella. You will see how big she's getting in these great photos taken by an agency representative at a visit last week. I'll post her latest "stats" tomorrow. Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Out of touch

Kevin and I have been busy preparing to bring Isabella home so we've been tied up and away from the computer.

I single-handedly put together the highchair in less than 30 minutes. It took just as long to figure out how to use it.

Kevin and I made shopping lists of things we need to buy for the trip to Guatemala and we made a list for Isabella. It's amazing what such a small person needs for a three to six day trip. We've got to work on narrowing it down since our agency highly recommends we not check only baggage.

Kevin and I went on a shopping spree for Isabella at Grove City, PA's Prime Outlets. Clothes, clothes, clothes. Toys. Books. We bought a lot of things. Kevin was so tired after carrying the bags for so long. I'll post some pictures later.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Again we have holdups

Well, Friday is update day and while I was hoping to report that things have progressed, I am sad to say that we have not moved forward from the Feb. 15 PGN approval. What's that mean? We still have at least a 4 week wait to travel to bring home Isabella.

Apparently the mother got another one of those out-of-country jobs. Seems pretty convenient that she only works when we need her to sign paperwork.

According to the agency, our attorney is traveling to El Salvador next week to meet with the birth mother so she can sign the paperwork at work. Then Maria, our attorney, will submit a request for the new birth certificate.

We'll have another update next Friday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Three weeks and counting...we hope

It was one week ago today that we found out we had passed through PGN and were finally almost ready to bring our Isabella home. With three weeks to go until our intended travel date, we are both extremely excited about seeing and holding her for the first time but we are also nervous that another delay could indefinitely postpone Isabella's homecoming. So while I continue to request prayers from all our friends and family for a quick and smooth transition, also pray for the foster family who has cared for Isabella for nearly 9 months. This most be a tremendously hard time for them knowing that any day now a new family will take Isabella home forever.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Toys, Toys, Toys

As I posted yesterday, Kevin and I spent our Sunday putting together toys for Isabella. I decided to post some photos of the some-to-be cherished items.

Kolcraft 2-in-1 Activity Center
A present from mom & dad

Talking Fisher Price chair
from Uncle, Aunt Tiffany and Cousin Kelsey who really enjoys playing with hers

Fisher Price Ride-Along 2-in-1 Walker
from Aunt Julie & Uncle Chris

Fisher Price Push Activity Walker
another from mom & dad

Monday, February 20, 2006

Assembly required

Kevin and I spent most of Sunday putting together toys Isabella had received from friends, family and us. Not thinking that this would become a day-long project, we settled in downstairs in our family room in the basement. Each of us took a box and the fun began. But fun it was not.

First we struggled to even remove the parts from the boxes. Manufacturers most think of ways to make children patiently wait as their parents fight the package to get to the reward. Noone told us we'd need pliers, screwdrivers and scissors before assembly. With paper cuts and even some bruises we made it through.

Then you wrestle with the actual assembly of the toy. Some went together just like the instructions and some fought us to "snap together lightly" so much so that I have a bruised palm from the KolKraft 2-in-1 seat/walker activity center.

Finally, together, the prize is the song or chant the toy SHOULD produce, but with no luck it gets taken apart for another round of wrestling.

So far everything has eventually come together to work, but the one-hour project quickly became three.

Next week...the highchair.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

We're on a roll

I met with the agency yesterday to make our final adoption payment and complete the final paperwork. Everything is done expect one form which needs notarized when Kevin and I sign it.

We have time to get this form done though because it travels with us to Guatemala. We will present the form to the U.S. Embassy certifying that Isabella has received all the appropriate vaccinations to our knowledge. Isabella regularly sees a physician in Guatemala City and has received her shots. At the advice of her pediatrician here, however, Isabella will receive all new vaccinations. New vaccinations will not harm her so we want to be safe in knowing that the dosages are the proper ones. She will start receiving theses vaccines on day two of her homecoming.

Friday, February 17, 2006

More paperwork

Just when we thought we were done with the adoption, we receive another booklet of paperwork to fill out and get notarized. Hopefully, we can complete this part quickly and get it to the appropriate people soon so we don't hold the process up. I plan to complete the documents today and take our final payment to the agency.

In order for our attorney to complete the final actions in Guatemala, she needs her payments wired to her. Today will be spent getting all of these steps done.

Thank you for all your kind words and comments of encouragement. We hope everything goes quickly and smoothly, too, so Isabella is home soon!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

We're out!!!!!!!!!

We got the call at 4:15 p.m. yesterday. "Your case was approved in PGN. You'll be traveling in about 4 weeks to bring her home." I didn't know what to say. I was speechless. I've waited so long to hear those words that it almost didn't seem real. But it is and now Kevin and I need to get in high gear to get ready for Isabella's homecoming.

We still have some hurdles to jump though. The final court judge must meet once again with the birth mother to sign the official adoption decree. The court must request that a new birth certificate be issued with Isabella's new last name. (We pray this step doesn't last as long as it took to get the mother's birth certificate done - three months.) Then the case goes back to the US Embassy for a 48 hour review. After that the Embassy issues our "pink slip" stating the time and date of our Embassy appearance. Once we have that information we can make travel plans and head to Guatemala.

Over the next few weeks, Kevin and I will update you on the status of things as we find out and we will show you pictures of all the things we have to take with us on our trip.

We are still in shock that it's actually happening. Thank you for all your prayers and continued support. We will continue to need them as we prepare to bring our baby home and during our adjustment period.

Have a great day! I know I will because I have tons of people to tell "It's finally done!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Clothes pictures as promised

Just as I promised earlier, I'm posting pictures of the great outfits Isabella got from Grandma & Grandpa Gaylord and Grandma & Grandpa Kramer for Valentine's Day. Hope you think they are as adorable as I do! We hope to share more of Isabella's growing wardrobe in weeks to come!

Thanks Grandmas & Grandpas

You would think that Valentine's Day is the new Christmas with the amount of clothes Isabella received from both sets of Grandparents. I hope to post pictures of the cute outfits and the wonderful 1st Valentine's Day cards. Adorable pink hearts are everywhere. So check back later today or check in tomorrow to see pics of the gorgeous garbs! Thanks Grandmas & Grandpas! We love the outfits!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

On this Feb. 14, Kevin and I wish each of you a Happy Valentine's Day. Here's sending you each a big hug from each of us with hopes that love brings you happiness.

No new information on Isabella's court status. The magic date, we were given by the agency, is Feb. 20, so watch for an update then, but not before.

We know that Izzy is being well cared for in her foster home but worry that with each passing day she becomes more attached to her foster "family". She knows no different and we pray she won't struggle when she comes to her forever home.

So, again, from us to you...Happy Valentine's Day! May you have long life and lots of love!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Oh, the simple things

Even the simple things change when you are responsible for another's life.

Take for instance furnace maintenance. So many things can go wrong if you don't have your furnace checked every year...CO2 leak, allergies, asthma, just to name a few. So when our maintenance company called yesterday, I nearly flipped out because I hadn't remembered to get the furnace checked this year. Isabella could have been in danger if something was wrong with the furnace.

Well, it's getting checked today so the furnace maintenance will be up-to-date once she comes home. Now I've put a reminder sticker on the calendar to call in the fall to have it checked again. Oh, the simple things...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Too busy to read?

Summit County, we are nearly there. As of 7 a.m. this morning, more than 85,000 of us pledged to read for 30 minutes on Wednesday, Feb. 8, the Annual Day of Reading hosted by This City Reads. And pledges are still rolling in.

Some us of read the newspaper; some read a book; some read stories to our children. No matter what you read or where you read, you read and that is to be praised!

But we can't stop with one day. I wish a could have pledged to read with Isabella for 30 minutes yesterday. Instead of watching the sitcom, or surfing the web, I could have been spending valuable (and educational) time with my daughter. But since hundreds of miles separate us, I will try to make it up to her everyday once she's here.

To all the parents who read this, I hope you spent time with your children yesterday, looking at a book, reading a comic, talking about school. We all should take more time to be with our kids, no matter how busy we really are.

8 business days and counting...

We officially entered PGN on Tuesday, Jan. 31 and another stage of waiting began. Ten to 15 business days to be exact, the "average" waiting period to clear the final hurdle before Isabella is ours completely.

Well, we've made it to business day #8. We've heard nothing from the agency which brings hopes that everything is moving smoothly and fears that they are not updating us because there are problems. But all we can do at this point is wait and pray.

We'll let you know the outcome as soon as we know it!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Good Eats

Courtesy of fellow Guatemala adoptive mother, Jenn, are some simple Guatemalan recipes for you brave of tongue!

Chicken stew from Coban, Alta Verapaz
4 lbs chicken
11 small tomatoes
1 whole garlic bulb
2 onions
6 cups water
1 cup tomatillos
1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon salt cloves
(The recipe doesn't specify how much. I think we used about a 1/4 teaspoon.)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Wash chicken and place in pot with 6 cups water, onion, 5 tomatoes, and garlic bulb and boil for 25 minutes. Cool and reserve the broth and onion. Peel garlic and tomatoes. Bone chicken and chop meat into 1/2 inch pieces. Toast in skillet 10 minutes 6 tomatoes, tomatillos, and quartered onion. Cool and peel tomatoes. Place the boiled onion, tomatoes, and garlic with the toasted tomatoes, tomatillos, and onion in a blender with the salt and blend. Combine the sauce from the blender, chicken broth, chicken meat, remaining spices and herbs in a large pot and cook for 25 minutes. Accompany with rice. Makes 8 servings.

Tres Leches (Three Milks) Cakes
1 package yellow cake mix (w/out pudding in it)
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup water
¾ cup milk
¾ cup evaporated milk
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
1-16 ounce Cool Whip
16 ounces fresh strawberries (optional)
1-1 ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Prepare cake mix with oil, eggs & water according to package directions. Spread in 2 round, greased & floured cake pans. Bake according to package directions. Cool. Remove from pans. When fully cooled, use serrated knife & slice ¼” off top of each layer. Combine 3 milks, blending well.(I use a liquid measuring cup to keep track of how much I use, you’ll have ½ cup left over) Place 1st layer on cake plate, cut side up. Carefully drizzle ¾ cup milk mixture over top to soak in evenly (tilt plate, use ladle). Spread top & sides with Cool Whip. Layer with strawberries & pecans if desired. Place top layer, cut side up on top. Drizzle with ¾ cup milk. Spread with Cool Whip. Layer berries & pecans. Chill in refrigerator.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Being that I work for a literacy program, I see the importance of reading to children everyday. Therefore, Isabella will not want to books or any type of reading material. I have subscribed to children's magazine, even though she won't be needing them anytime so. I've joined book clubs. I've even bought CDs and DVDs that teach reading.

Yesterday, however, I had to put my foot down. In all my eagerness, I subscribed to four different Scholastic series'. Isabella gets books twice per week through the mail, and I get the bills. I just had to stop paying $13.97 every time a shipment came.

I called scholastic and cancelled two of the four series. The rep was very nice and didn't even try to resell me something else. So thanks Scholastic. Maybe I'll call back and join one more club.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I'm not the baby....anymore????

As Kevin and I prepare the house more and more for Isabella's homecoming, Molly and Kalli are becoming more and more confused.

Kalli has been acting out in defiant ways. She doesn't come inside when we call her from her potty breaks. She digs paper towels out of the trash and shreds them all over the kitchen floor. She growls at Molly and takes food from our plates without being told it's okay. She goes after Isabella's stuffed toys, thinking they are hers to play with.

Molly is the exact opposite. She's overly cuddly. She aims to please by listening intently to everything we say. She curls up under the blanket next to us when we watch television.

Kalli and Molly have been our children. They travel with us on vacations. They go to grandma's and grandpa's house when we go. They get birthday and Christmas presents. They exchange presents with their other doggie friends.

With the increased talk and activity around the Baby's Room and her stuff, they must be questioning how their status in the family will change.

They will forever be our babies, though. Unconditional love with no strings. How can anyone turn that away?!

Friday, February 03, 2006

At their mercy

Thursday was not a good day.

I called the agency on Monday to get the final payment amount for the adoption. This payment is due once we clear PGN so Kevin and I wanted to be prepared to make the payment. No call back Monday with the total.

Called again Tuesday to get the total. Left a message. I received a message when I got home from work stating the amount. First, the amount was $2,000 higher than I figured. Second, why call our home?! They have my work phone number! They know when I work and I gave that number in the message.

I know! They didn't want to talk to me because they knew I'd question the amount.

So what I'd do? I pulled out our contract, found the contract fee, subtracted the fees paid to get the remaining balance. Yep! $2,000 more!

Oh, I thought to myself. I remember the email in late summer talking about a fee hike. But that was for families who hadn't received a referral or entered family court. We should be okay since we had entered court, or so we were told.

Kevin called today to talk with our contact about the fee discrepancy. The director wouldn't let him talk to her. She wanted to handle it. At first she told him she thought we fell into the group who didn't have to pay the fee. Then, low and behold, I get an email. "You do owe the extra fee."

Kevin called her back to get the exact date we entered family court. We want to really know if we should pay it or if it is a way for them to get another two grand out of us. The director said he is adversarial! Can you believe that?! She told him to look at our contract!

We'll pay the extra money to get our baby home but we should not be taken advantage of because we literally have no choice. They know we'll pay it. We want our baby.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Getting some zzzzzz

Like most soon-to-be parents, Kevin and I are thinking about how our sleep patterns will change once Isabella joins our family. According to reports from the foster family, Isabella is only getting up once during the night to get a bottle. Lucky for us, Diane, the foster mom, lived through the sleepless nights and midnight feedings.

Whomever came up with the phrase "sleeps like a baby" never had a baby. My brother-in-law has a nearly 15-month-old little girl who still doesn't sleep through the night. Yikes!
So taking the proactive approach, as usual, I've researched how to get a little one to stay down once in bed. You can expect a baby to wake up several times in the night during the first six months, and even once a night at a year old. (Their night wakings don't mean, however, that you have to wake up. In fact, you're better off not getting up and going to your baby as long as you know she's healthy, warm, and well-fed.) Night wakings will gradually decrease as your baby gives up night feedings and moves towards longer sleep cycles.

Thank goodness Isabella will sleep well through the night because Kevin and I have enough sleep problems between his apnea and my lack of deep sleep.

Sweet dreams to you all!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

10 Things

I visit several blogs a day. I came across a post on another blog that I just had to share with all of you. It is so true to how Kevin and I feel sometimes so it's important to share.

10 Things You Shouldn't Say To Someone Adopting,
For Fear of the Wrath of the Ovary
1) What a lucky baby. Think of the life you are saving.
2) Aren't you afraid you won't love her like your own?
3) I could never do that.
4) How much will she cost?
5) Why didn't you adopt from the US? There are so many needy babies here.
6) Oh, that's so trendy right now! I want a Chinese baby too!
7) I've heard those babies are _______ (fill in your own stereotypical sentiment here: smart, well-behaved, sick, etc)
8) Aren't you afraid of what will happen once you get her home? (i.e. adopted kids are trouble.)
9) Well, now you're probably going to get pregnant!
10) You are doing it the easy way!

10 Things That Are Really Great About Adopting,
And I Don't Even Have My Kid Yet
1) You make the decision to adopt over and over and over again. Which reaffirms your desire, over and over and over again, that you want to be a mom or dad. And that is pretty cool.
2) If you are in a committed relationship, that relationship gets very, very strong.
3) You have the wonderful opportunity to embrace your child's birthculture and make it part of your lives and shared tradition. (Now I get to celebrate TWO New Years. How cool is that?)
4) Adoption can get pretty romantic. Each milestone in my house has been celebrated with good dinner and good wine and a lot of love--paperwork completed, dossier sent, logged in, approved. 5) And wait till we get to the phone call that gives us our daughter. Plus--there's no mistake that this baby was planned.
6) You are pushed, constantly, to be a better person--more reflective, more sensitive, more aware.
7) Nobody ever doubts that you are ready to be a mom, or that you want to be a mom.
8) Adoptive parents have a fiercely strong network and, when cool, are very, very cool.
9) The money you save on maternity wear can be used for more baby clothes and $56 dollar dresser knobs.
10) The anticipation is devastating but hey--the payoff is gonna be so freaking great.

Borrowed and shared from The Naked Ovary.