Monday, January 28, 2013

I Had 5 Darling Girls at My House a Few Saturdays Ago

Three of the little angels belong to one family. Their mom and dad actually got to go on an official date to see Les Mis and eat sushi. Small thing to do for folks like this who have done SOOO much for me. Same with sweet Anna. Her mom has kept, fed, and tended to Miss Emily sooo many times. I don't think you are "friends" with folks b/c of what they can/cannot DO for you. I have so many wonderful people in my life who are helpful!! I am blessed. It just turned out that this one Saturday was a good one for me to take on all 5 darlings and have a huge playdate. I had a great time -- and even got a short nap in. I know you wonder h-o-w I managed that. It was short...but it was a good one. We did crafts from recylable items, they played Barbie, watched one video, chatted, ate, and basically had a fun day with friends.
Glad we got to do it.

Isabella Rose and Emily - Girls Day Out

Who Says You Can't Eat Ice Cream In January?

Where The Agency Wants Us to Stay While In Guangzhou

In an international adoption, adoption agencies like to have clients stay at certain hotels for security-type reasons. Usually the hotel is not far from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, but many adoptive families have stayed on Shamian Island in years past. Not me. I was booked a mere few blocks from the Consulate. The agencies have contracts with various hotels/chains so that their clients will always have a place to stay when they arrive in town for Consulate appointment, medical exams, and other necessary appointments - regardless of last minute reservations (which are the norm). These hotels are accustomed to providing baby beds, dealing with new parents who have guides & translators in proximity, yadda, yadda. 
(We're sorta Holiday Inn Express kinda people! For real.)
Once the Consulate sets an appointment date for an adoptive family, it's time to get ready and go. That's why airline tickets cannot be bought way in advance. Nope.
Pretty much last minute based on the date/time of Consulate meeting. 
I got word today that my DS230 has arrived in Guangzhou, and the CCCWA - governing officials - will soon issue my Article 5...
BUT everything will be closed at the beginning of Feb. for Chinese New Year.
SOOOOOOO....late Feb. to early March.
That's what the travel staff at my agency is saying for travel times.
We'll see.
Em says this hotel looks "fancy".
That's an understatement.
Again...we have to stay in certain hotels in Guangzhou, Beijing, and Hohhot.
I will be hopping around this continent for sure.
Just show us the breakfast buffet!!

Peacock Dancing - Once Again

Of course, Uncle Skipper -- upon watching Emily demonstrate her skills - began to do the Buzzard Bop right in her face. He was cluckin', struttin', bug eyein'...
He looked like a Guinea Fowl scratchin' in gravel.
Emily was moaning and groaning over his goofiness.

Coming Soon!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bok Choy with Chicken-n-Dumplings on the Side

That's sorta how the menu looks around our house sometimes: Southern China Meets Southern Living...a mixture of 'east meets west'.
I actually grew some Bok Choy last year - in the school garden...with my students and sidekick, KK (who is going with me to China). Maybe I better say, "WE grew some Bok Choy."
Sometimes it DOES take a village.

The recipe for Chicken-n-Dumplings is a Southern Living favorite.
The Bok Choy - a Chinese cabbage-y type vegetable - is my own copy cat creation.
Saute onions in coconut oil
Throw in the cleaned Bok Choy.
Sprinkle with powdered chicken broth seasoning.
Sprinkle with sesame oil and tahini (soy sauce).
Stir it around.
Listen to Emily squeal with delight.
Gobble up...
and pray the kitchen angels come behind me to help clean up the mess I've made.

Last night I Fed Ex'd a biggie to the adoption agency. This was the entire package that will be submitted to the Chinese Embassy - probably in Houston - to obtain our Visas into The People's Republic of China. After 4 days of hem-hawing around and answering the questions on the documents, here's what I sent on behalf of Emily, Karen, Kourtney, and me (the travel bunch):
-4 passports - one from each of us (...and obtaining Emily's US passport required that I engage the help of -my US Congressman's office -- for weeks and weeks! Let's just say I had issues - but all was resolved.)
-1 color copy of each signature page/photo page of 4 passports
-Chinese Visa applications -- for each of us (Oh.The.Joy.)
-2x2 passport-type photo of each - We looked like illegal aliens hauled in for questioning.
-color copies of Emily's adoption certificate/decree
-Emily's Chinese passport with Visa stamp - from back in 2008 used for her adoption (I thought to myself, "Friends in China....I've been lookin' for the sunglasses on the top of my head, and you want me to locate and whip out this official item from 2008? Uhm...hang on a second.)
-and once again, a fat lil ole check to pay for it all (KK and I are goin' halves.)
I kissed all the employees at Fed Ex 'goodnight' and went home.
We're establishing quite a relationship these days.

Phew. This is done.
I actually keep checking my email to see if there's any word on my Article 5 being signed, sealed, delivered.
The Travel Team at my adoption agency is standing by. I've completed their information sheets.
The international travel agent who is booking all our flights to and from China has my file filled out and sitting nearby. I sent in all that info a few weeks ago.
All we need now: Article 5, Travel Approval, Consulate Appointment date, and travel dates.

I'm gathering items that will be packed....medicines, gifts, fun things for "the girls" to do while in the hotel.
The To Do List is fluctuating daily.
Today - Obtained Bank Check to trade in for crisp, clean new bills to pay for all government, medical, and adoption fees while in China.
Tomorrow - Go to another bank's main office. The Head Teller is expecting me at 3:30. I'll exchange that B-I-G Bank Check for the crisp bills from their vault. (required by Chinese gov't)
Friday - Money to be stored in safe deposit box until time to travel.
Weekend - Work from Fri. afternoon until Sun. evening....then back to teaching school on Monday.

Carrying on....

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ice Skating

Picket Fence Posing

Nanny Carol, Emily, and I met up with Cookie to enjoy a Sunday dinner - again - out in the country.
We went to church and then loaded into the car for a small road trip.

Actually...the restaurant itself is a bed and breakfast type spot: Antebellum home and ambiance at its finest.
Lovely, lovely time together.

All About Her

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hmpf. Can't Post Pictures - No Idea Why.

I was going to put some recent ones up of Miss Em, but I reckon I'll have to wait until another day in the near future. I'm already hoping someone will help me change the title of this blog to (as Emily has voted):
Bringing Emily and Molly Home

Who knows?
I've commissioned Kristen - KK's darling older daughter -  to manage the blog while I'm in China. Seems the ole PRC (People's Republic of China) has blocked a few things, and blogs are one of them. There are ways around it, but being I'm not a do-er of those things...this is the best solution I can think of.

I am using waaaay too many parentheses. I shall stop.

I'll simply email the blog post and pictures, and Miss Kristen will copy/paste them into the blog.

I remember when I'd blog hop a few years ago while waiting for Emily. When folks would post about their trips to China....I just wanted to SEE PICTURES first.
Then I'd read.
It does take both.

With Molly's adoption, it's already NOT going to be Jan. when I travel.
It could be Feb. - mid to end. That Chinese New Year will definitely put a kink in schedules....but that's okay.
I sent my LSC packet to the adoption agency - Fed Ex'd overnight.
Cha ching.

I'm betting it left there today for China. Let's see if I can remember what all was in that packet:
-Letter of Intent (written and sent in Jan., 2012....but necessary once again)
-Original Contract
-Passport size photo of Molly (made by Forrest and his charming wife Robin -- THANKS tons)
-I-797/I-800A U.S. gov't document
-I-797/I-800 (yes - a different document than the one on the line above....alphabet soup for all documents....letters galore)
-original referral in Chinese with English translations - signed, completed
-copies of referral information - on Molly - from China
-DS230 filing fee
-copies of medical information pertaining to Molly
-Parent Information
-Travel Information with passport numbers for Emily, KK, Kourtney, me, expiration dates, dates of birth
-translation fee
-future homestudy update fees: one of those numbers that has a comma in it - LOL!
-and likely a few other things that slip my mind at the moment

Once the LSC packet reaches China, the folks there get together to issue - to me - a document called an Article 5.
The US Consulate in Guangzhou and the CCCWA - official gov't agency over adoptions - chit chat, and then travel plans get in the making.

Is my suitcase BIG enough?