Friday, June 30, 2006

Hunkering Down

Instead of relishing four days off this long holiday weekend, I'll be exercising my intellect. There's an 8:55 p.m. deadline on Tuesday (hello, the Fourth of July!) on my first big assignment for this class I'm taking. So, I need to get busy and crank out this five part paper over the next three days.

Lest you think I'm one of those educators who just can't get enough of school myself (in education we call those "Life Long Learners" - barf), please know I am not. I never intended to pursue a master's degree. But for the fact that my district will give me a nice raise when I finish my program, I'd say forget it. I am a good student, but it's not that enjoyable anymore, especially since it's summertime. I would rather be sipping a mojito and reading a novel! Have a drink for me this weekend! ;-)


Update: Come to find out this is a THESIS! It has been veiled in all the class handouts with a different name all along - Action Research Project. Finally, in the directions tonight, I came across one sentence that acknowledges that it is indeed a thesis. Sheesh... What have I gotten myself into? Yikes!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What's In Your Pantry?

Lacking anything adoption-related to blog about, and challenged by Julie to reveal the contents of our cupboards, I share with you my pantry.

The top shelf has items that I hardly ever have need for. In fact, as I'm looking at them now, several of them should be tossed. Note to self: clean pantry this summer...

The second shelf down has my rices and pastas. The third shelf down has teas, supplements, and some random items like crackers and instant oatmeal. The bottom shelf is the one I go to most often. It holds my spices, cooking oils, and vinegars.

I have another portable cabinet on the other side of the stove for canned goods.

I have to admit that while I enjoy cooking, I don't do it very often. The following pictures may give you some insight as to why not.

That's right - no counter space! I guess back in 1943 (the year my house was built) counter space wasn't a priority. Someday I'm going to have a new kitchen with lots of counter space, and then I will cook more often. I will!

Monday, June 26, 2006

I Heart FedEx Tracking!

According to the FedEx site, my dossier (along with others from my agency) was delivered to the CCAA at 5:16 p.m. today. I also received a packet from my agency with my group number - 269 - and the names of the other families who were DTC on Friday. There are thirteen families in my group, and one of them is also a single.

Any guesses as to which date I'll be LID?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

You Must See This Movie!

I had heard about End of the Spear last year at church and I was very interested in seeing it in the theater. It came out at a time when I was really busy and I just didn't have time to go see it. Now it's out on DVD. I rented it last night and I think it will be one of my favorite movies for a long time to come.

End of the Spear
tells the true story of Nate Saint, an American missionary living in the Ecuadorian jungle in the 1950s. In attempting to make first contact with an extremely violent group of native people, Saint and four of his fellow missionaries are murdered by the very people they seek to help. The events that follow are truly inspiring as the wives and children left behind choose to live with the people who killed their husbands and teach them a way of life beyond violence and revenge. The movie is about Christian missionaries, but it's not overtly religious. I think the message of forgiveness, sacrifice, and redemption are universal in their appeal.

There is some graphic violence, so it's not really a good movie for young children.

Put this one on your list of summer rentals!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

New Friends

Yesterday afternoon I received a call from Paulette and we talked for the longest time. I really enjoyed our conversation and we seem to have a lot in common. Paulette was DTC the day before I was - so we will be enduring the wait together, and hopefully we'll see each other in China next year! Luckily, we don't have to wait until then to meet, as Paulette will be in Southern California next month and we're going to try to get together then. I never would have thought that I'd actually be making new friends because of this adoption experience. Oh, the wonders of the internet!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

DTC Tomorrow!

I am paperwork pregnant!

On my drive home from summer school yesterday, I received a call from my family coordinator at AWAA. She was happy to tell me that my documents looked great and that they would be included in this week's batch of DTCs. Whew!

When I started this process, I wanted to be DTC by May or June. At that point, I was expecting a referral in the spring of 2007 (based on my agency's predictions), and that would give me the entire summer to be home with Jillian. Now, I'll be happy if I get a referral next summer and travel in the fall of 2007. It's funny how you have to adjust your expectations as life goes on...

Anyway, I'm thrilled to be done with the paperchase. I need to refocus my energies on my master's program and other areas of my life as I prepare for Jillian's arrival sometime next year!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Good Wishes, Anyone?

I purchased some fabric today to share with those of you who are putting together a One Hundred Good Wishes Quilt. If you are still collecting quilt squares and wishes, please email me* with your address and I will send one to you. I've got 1 and 2/3 yard of fabric (which seems like a lot...), but when it's gone, it's gone! So, let me know ASAP. Oh, and if your dimensions are different than 7 inches square, please let me know that, too.

I've decided to do a variation of the One Hundred Good Wishes Quilt, but I'm not ready to begin. I'll let you know what I have in mind real soon!

*Go to My Profile for my email link!

Mission Accomplished!

After a morning spent in horrible traffic - there was a SIG Alert on the 101 Freeway - I made it back to the Chinese Consulate and had my documents in hand in no time. There was an extra $45 charge though. Actually, that was the parking ticket I received for parking on a street during street sweeping day! I will say that a nice gentleman warned me before I went into the building about the parking enforcement that was patrolling the streets, but I told him I'd take my chances. I don't think today is a good day to buy a lotto ticket...

When I got back to Long Beach, I went to Kinko's to copy everything twice - that was another $20 or so - and then I placed it all in a FedEx package for AWAA. It was nearly three inches thick and weighed 1.95 pounds. It's costing $45.29 to get it to Virginia by tomorrow morning! Sheesh!

My agency only sends dossiers on Fridays, and you have to get your dossier to their office by 2 p.m. on Wednesday in order to make the Friday shipment. Provided that my documents are given final approval, I will be DTC this Friday! I feel a great sense of accomplishment now for all the work I've done over the last four months, or so. Now, if the CCAA can keep the wait at 12 months, I should receive a referral next June or July. I can handle that!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Delight & Disappointment

Today I had the delight of meeting Christi for lunch at The Grove in Los Angeles. She is such a sweetheart! We did a little browsing in Pottery Barn Kids and Janie and Jack before we sat down to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. Christi is so down-to-earth and easy to talk to. We conversed easily about our adoption experiences thus far and our hopes for the future. After lunch we went into the American Girl store. That place is amazing! It's a huge department store devoted to the whole American Girl experience. They even have a cafe and a theater! We both agreed that we should return one day with our daughters.

Christi gave me these sweet little onesies for Jillian. They have roses on them! Thank you, Christi.

My disappointment was that by the time I got over to the Chinese Consulate at 3:02 p.m., they were closed for the day. Guess I should have read my receipt because it does say that's when they close. While I am bummed that I didn't get to pick up my documents today, all is not lost. I will drive back up tomorrow morning, get them copied, and mail them via FedEx in the afternoon. I have no doubt that I will make my agency's deadline of 2 p.m. Wednesday. I should still be DTC on Friday!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

What can I tell you about my dad?

He's such an optimist and he's always got a positive outlook on life. When you ask how he is, he'll respond, "I'm excellent!" He's also got a great sense of humor.

He's a successful and hard worker. He'll be 68 next month, and he's still working. He's an amazing sales person. His company enjoys much success due to my father's efforts.

He has a wonderful mind. My dad reads several books and periodicals at a time. You should see his stacks of reading material. He's very well-informed. He loves history, politics, economics, and the Bible.

He's generous. My dad and mom give so much of their time and resources to their family and their church.

He's devoted to his family. My parents have been married for nearly 40 years. My dad always puts his family first.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Last Day of School & How it Nearly Made Me Crazy


Another school year over.

No matter how good the class has been (and this one was good), I still LOVE the last day of school! I love having a job with a fresh start and a definite ending every ten months.

I will tell you that this year it was more difficult to get ready to go than it usually is. Due to a colleague's retirement, I have the opportunity to move into his classroom. This colleague has been teaching since 1967 (the year I was born!), and has been in his current room for 14 years. I have been in a portable building for eight years, and I would like to have a classroom in a real building.

The problem?

He. Has. Never. Thrown. Anything. Away.

He can't seem to part with anything. He offered me his stuff, but I told him that after ten years of doing this for a living, I'm set. I don't need anything else. So, he decided that the new teacher we'll be hiring must need his stuff. So to my old classroom (the new teacher's room) he sent:

Teaching books... from the 1970s.

Obsolete world almanacs and encyclopedias.

Boxes and boxes of dittos (we haven't had a ditto machine in at least 8 years). These dittos weren't just old, they were used - student writing all over 'em.

Hundreds (maybe thousands) of chapter books - some apparently never touched by students. They were like new. Some have been saved for the new teacher. Some have been donated to our PTO reading program. Some are being donated to another school in the district.

Used crayons.

Used markers.

Used colored pencils.

Nearly empty glue bottles.

Training binders from 1995 and 1996.

Workbooks with most of the pages torn out of them.

Ancient, faded posters.

It took about ten minutes of his students carrying over boxes of this junk, before I had to call him and say that my room was full and to please stop sending things over. That just means they are in my new (his old) classroom and I will have to toss them when I return in late August, but I didn't want this brand new teacher to have to spend days of her time going through all his crap. I had to do that my first year of teaching, and it's no fun to go through someone else's thirty years of accumulated crap.

I was feeling so angry with him for creating so much more work for me and I was just about to cry tears of frustration in front of my students, when an angel of a volunteer mom walked in my door, surveyed the horrible mess, and said she'd be right back to help me make sense of it all. When she returned, we spent forty minutes deciding what to keep and what to toss. After school, the amount that was tossed filled an entire portable dumpster that the custodian uses on his daily rounds. He had filled another such dumpster the day before with more of the crap my colleague had sent to my classroom then.

I'm still upset and overwhelmed by this whole situation. I now realize that I will have to go back to work two or three days earlier this year just to continue purging his room of all that crap. I'm sorry I keep using that word - junk or garbage just doesn't seem strong enough!

Why can't some people throw things away?


Update: I just did a little Google style research. This type of behavior is considered "compulsive hoarding" and treatment is usually ineffective. People like this think everything "might" have some value at "sometime". Sheesh... I guess you could call them a CRAP ADDICT!

Hehehe... I crack myself up sometimes!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Getting Closer...

Made it to the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon. It was a minimum day at school, so the kids were dismissed at 12:20 pm, and my wonderful principal gave me the rest of the afternoon off so that I could go to LA.

My mom met me at my house and we made copies of the documents at Kinko's before we hopped on the freeway. We found the consulate without any trouble - we even found a parking spot with an hour's worth of time left in the meter.

After a short wait, I was able to leave the documents for the authentication service, and I will return on Monday afternoon to pick them up - after I've had lunch with a certain somebody you may know of! More on that next week!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just for Jenny

Jenny tagged me for one of these. I told her that I didn't think I'd get to it for a few days, but I have a few minutes now.

20 years ago: I graduated from Fountain Valley High School. Go Barons!

10 years ago: I earned my teaching credential and taught my first class of fourth graders at Village View Elementary School.

5 years ago: I opened for the Bellamy Brothers at the Galaxy Theater in Santa Ana. I sold more tickets than they did!

3 years ago: I brought home my Yellow Labrador, Buffy, when she was just 7 weeks old. She was amazingly cute!

1 year ago: I spent three weeks in France, and loved every minute of it.

Yesterday: I completed the last set of report cards for this school year.

Today: I am attending my eldest niece's pre-graduation awards assembly tonight. She's starting high school next year!

Tomorrow: I will go to the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles to have my dossier documents authenticated.

Consider yourself tagged!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Dark Side...

...of adoption-related Yahoo Groups is the topic of today's post.

I have now unsubscribed to both APC and SAC. Why? Because I feel that the members of those groups spend a lot of time being very self-righteous and critical of others. When I first joined those groups I was looking for a clearinghouse of information and a network of support. Instead, much of the energy seems to be spent arguing. Everyone just has to get the flippin' LAST WORD.

It began to wear on me.

I lasted no more than a week with APC, but several months with SAC. Over the weekend (when it's not moderated), my agency's group has also turned mean-spirited. It's incredible how one person's post can spark such a firestorm. Where's the grace, people?

Now, I could launch into some of the topics that have seemed to ignite the hottest debates and share my opinions - it is my blog after all. But, I would rather the focus of my adoption experience be upon my daughter, Jillian, not whether I'm doing irrevocable damage to her self-image by removing her from her country of origin and its culture, how I'm paying for the adoption, what I think about other single mothers, or how to throw a birthday party.

I didn't sign up for this experience to be filled with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. I chose to adopt because I want to be a mother. There are orphaned babies in China who need parents. I don't care about all the politically-correct arguments when it comes to Jillian. I will do what it takes to bring her home and give her the best life I can, and I don't need to argue about that.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A New Friend for My Jilly Bean

I found this little baby doll at Kmart today for just $8.99! She's a cutie and I was looking to purchase something for Jillian in celebration of receiving the I-171H yesterday anyway.

Last night, my sister and her husband, and my niece Rebecca helped me celebrate by treating me to dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants - Lou's BBQ. If you're in the Orange County or Long Beach areas, there are two Lou's - one in Huntington Beach and the other in Lakewood. Their barbeque is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and their prices are reasonable. I didn't care one bit how many points were in my meal either. I just enjoyed each and every bite.

I've found a courier to deliver my dossier documents to the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles next week. I don't think it wil be possible to be DTC by June 23 unless things go like clockwork, but I think it's more reasonable to be DTC on June 30. So, should I join the June or July DTC Group? What do you think?

Friday, June 09, 2006

It's Here!

Isn't that the prettiest little envelope you've ever seen? Well, it made my day! That envelope holds my I-171H - the long awaited for approval from USCIS to bring Jillian home next year.

When I got home, I was taking the mail out of the mailbox and it was the first thing I noticed. I knew what it was right away. I hollered, "Thank you, Lord!" and a few whoohoos along with a little dance step. My neighbors probably think I've been at an early Happy Hour! Actually, a celebratory libation does sound appealing...

The last hour and a half has been a blur of activity. I quickly gathered what I needed to go and have a friend notarize the copy of the I-171H and it's being overnighted to a courier in Sacramento. If all goes well, I'll have it authenticated and back in my hands by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

I will be DTC this month!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Frustrating Ordeal

My next class for my master's program begins tomorrow. I have spent the last week and a half trying to register for this class. Through no fault of my own, there was an admissions hold placed on my file and that prevented me from registering. The problem was identified last Wednesday, and I was told then that I'd be able to register in 24 to 48 hours. That didn't happen. Here we are nearly a week later and I will finally be registered today - so they say...

I have been on the computer and the phone with the university since 5:30 a.m. In order to register, I had to circumvent the online registration process and fax a registration request to the university. Because this was taking so much time and it must be done today, I had to call for a substitute teacher to take my class for the first half of the day. I was at Kinko's by 8 a.m. in order to send my fax to the university.

The only good thing - I felt "cute" enough to have Kinko's take those little pictures for my dossier this morning. I like how the pictures turned out and I can check that off my list.

Now I'm still waiting on that elusive I-171H. Another family in my area responded to an email of mine and said they waited 7.5 weeks for theirs two months ago. So, I'm preparing myself to wait for another 2-3 weeks. I'm thinking I'll be DTC in July rather than June. Sigh...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Dossier Pictures

More Dossier Pictures

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Two Down, Three to Go!

I earned another A in Block Two of my master's program. Why didn't I earn more As in high school and as an undergrad? It's not that much more work, so it must have something to do with maturity and focus. That means there's hope for some of my current students!

I cut so many classes in college it's amazing I ever graduated.

Still can't register for Block Three. It starts on Wednesday and I can't talk to a person about my registration status again until Monday. For someone as organized as me, this is really hard. I don't do things at the last minute - especially like registering for a class.

Oh, well. This weekend I'm going to put the photo pages together for my dossier. It's been five weeks since I had my fingerprint appointment. That I-171H has got to show up soon, right? Does anyone still think I'll be DTC this month?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Day in the Old West

Ah, yes.. So, today was our annual field trip to Knott's Berry Farm. They have a neat program where they provide docents for school kids and take them through some of the historical reproductions associated with the Gold Rush and Westward Movement. It's a day my students look forward to all year.

Our docent, let's call him D, made our day extra special. I had D as a docent several years ago so I knew what we were in for. After the last tour with D I had written a note to the program director commenting on some of D's inappropriate behaviors, so I was hopeful that he'd toned it down since then. Let's just say that D is flamboyent, a really nice guy, but he has no "filter". When you work with children, you have to have a filter - you can't just say anything...

D's first inappropriate action was to show us a picture on his cell phone (yeah, they had those in the Old West) of Richard Simmons and himself - he referred to it as his wedding picture. Turns out he knows Richard well... Okay, so then we hear all about his gastric bypass surgery and how he's tried to get on Extreme Makeover, Dr. Phil, and Oprah to have them pay for his next surgery, which is required to remove his extra skin. He tells us it's a $50k surgery. I swear he was fishing for donations! He has some dubious Hollywood "connections" so he name drops shamelessly all day long.

He tells the students that he has a page and that they should "check it out"! Hello, do you watch the news, mister? isn't exactly appropriate for fourth graders!

I spent most of the day just shaking my head at his inability to accurately judge the group of people he was relating to. These are children! Install your filter!