Friday, August 29, 2008

On our way to the 171-H!

In the international adoption community, the 171-H is the magical piece of paper that arrives from immigration indicating that you are eligible for adoption (which then places you on the referral waiting list). In order to receive it you need to complete your homestudy and be fingerprinted by the nice folks down at the immigration office. Well, this past week we had our second social worker visit and he is now busy at work finishing up our homestudy. And today we drove downtown and got our fingerprints done. Hurray! I told CJ on the drive home, "I'm feeling a lot less stressed about the second adoption." He chortled. OK, now that everything is done - of course I feel less stressed! I'll admit, there have been anxious moments. And there is plenty of time for more anxious moments. What would life be without a little stress, right?
In the meantime, P is getting ready for his return to daycare. He starts next Tuesday and is beyond excited. We visited this past week and he made a beeline straight for his classroom. I am going to try and not be a nervous wreck next week. ha!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Finally moving forward

Thursday night we had our first social worker visit. Yipee!! It took a while for him to actually track us down - apparently moving twice and having three different phone numbers in the last five months was just more than the agency could handle. So he'd been trying to call some number that he thought was my parents' house & was misdialing & leaving messages on some unsuspecting person's machine. Meanwhile I was contacting (ok harassing) the agency via phone and email over the fact that three weeks had passed since our paperwork was in & still no word from the SW. Alas, all the kinks were straightened out (for now anyway) and we are moving ahead once again. CJ & I thoroughly enjoying the personal probing on Thursday night and look forward to having the house combed for dangers at the next visit. For those readers who have not endured a home study, it is a rather invasive procedure in which you are required to tell all of your personal history to a complete stranger, including but not limited to your childhood relationships, marital pitfalls and struggles with infertility. The social worker then takes that information and enters it into a narrative that is sent to immigration where they decide whether or not you are fit to be a parent. CJ keeps pointing out that P should serve as proof enough at this point, but the USCIS does not see it as that simple.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

my thought for the day

They say motherhood changes a person. Well how could it not. Every day you put the needs of someone else above your own and have to make decisions that often have enormous impact on the life of another person. You start watching your own behavior closely in hopes of becoming a positive influence & when nasty behaviors creep out and are reflected in your child it makes you feel that much more rotten about what you have done. (Example: I am afraid of bees. My instinct, however dangerous and unnecessary, is to flail about and run in fear. Paul has seen this and now reacts in a similar fashion. When I see this I think, "Oops.")
Last night I went to a local concert and was thinking to myself, if motherhood changes you into this new person, what happens to the one you were before? Is she still in there, popping out at moments when you are away from your child and engaging in a pre-motherhood activity (such as rocking it out at a concert)? Or do we shed her like a snake's skin and leave her behind while we embrace larger, more important roles? Why do some moms feel guilty about enjoying things for themselves? It is society that dictates this or our own inner fears? I think it is important that Paul sees me not only as his mom, but as a person with passion for doing things that bring me joy. Hopefully that will cancel out the bee fear and the fact that he says "You serious?" in a disgruntled voice when we come across a bad driver (hey, it could be worse)!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

No big hair, just the Big Ocean

Paul has now been to both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (or has he calls them, the "Big Ocean" and the "Big Ocean"). We were down visiting some friends in New Jersey & took a trip out to the shore. He was a bit braver this time, actually sticking his feet into the water and letting me take him into the waves a bit. He enjoyed the sand and was of course covered in it by the end of the day.

He also enjoyed the infamous Jersey boardwalk and wanted to visit each and every arcade and eat lots of chocolate ice cream. The boy can spot an ice cream stand anywhere - it's like he has ice cream radar! On the drive home we passed a Friendly's off the highway & from the back I heard a tired voice say, "Ice cream." Honestly.

On the way down we had a quick visit with Karen, Kyle & Cole and enjoyed a day at Sesame Place where Paul climbed the rope maze like a little monkey and braved the tube rides.

A fun trip; we are happy to be back home!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The next Phil Collins

Paul likes to "Play drum". On everything. He turns chopsticks, eating utensils, crayons, etc. into sticks & will play on any & every available surface. I am convinced that this is because of something I told him when he first came home. See, when I was younger & wanted to play a musical instrument, my first choice was the drum. I too enjoyed turning stick-shaped objects and Tupperware containers into a drum set and banging away to my heart's content. Mom & dad said no, drums were for boys (code for: drums are too loud) and I settled on the clarinet. I have been sad about this ever since and continue to love banging away on the Turkish bongos CJ brought back from deployment. When Paul first showed signs of musical interest (about the time he stopped screaming & realized we were O.K. folk) I told him that he could play whatever he wanted, no matter how loud or gender specific. It seems he has already chosen the drums. Which is fine with mommy. The neighbors however, may have different opinions once Paul graduates to the real thing. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tour of the van's pad

Over the weekend (in between watching women's beach volleyball & water polo), CJ transformed our hallway closet into a mudroom. I snapped some photos & then decided it might be time to take pictures of the rest of the house. Many many posts ago I recall promising such a thing. We (meaning CJ mostly) have done a lot of work so far with more projects to happen in the fall. Here's a quick tour, starting with the new mudroom.
Previously, there was carpet running down the hallway between the kitchen and the laundry room (and including the closet). CJ ripped out the carpet, continued the laminate from the kitchen into the hallway, and did ceramic tile in the closet. Eventually he'll tile the laundry room too. Then he removed the large shelf, cut it in half, painted the walls cream & the shelves red & rehung the shelves. We added baskets, a bench & a bunch of hooks for coats & bags. Tada!
The kitchen has seen the most work (with more to come once mommy is fully employed again). The floor in the front hallway was this awful, dark, chipping ceramic tile (circa 1980s), and the kitchen was linoleum. CJ replaced it all with laminate made to look like tile. It took him all of Memorial Day weekend and he ended up with cuts & bruises all over his knees, but it is beautiful & we love it! The refridgerator was originally sitting inside a little alcove & messing up the flow of traffic, so CJ happily tore down that wall, blocked a doorway that led to the den, and moved the fridge closer to the rest of the appliances. The orginal microwave & oven were in the wall and didn't work. We replaced them & CJ built a shelf unit for spices & cookbooks and added an additional cupboard next to the new range.

Here are a few more shots of the house. Every room has been painted except for the family room and laundry. When we got here, everything was beige, or some variation of beige. It was depressing. We are very happy with the chosen colors (the living room is much more mauve than pink, despite the way it appears in the pic).
The den and living/dining rooms
Paul's bedroom & playroom

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A visit from Carrie & Amy

A conversation between two two year olds can be quite riveting. Take Paul & Piper (my friend Carrie's daughter) for example. They sat across from each other in the mini van & had several conversations along these lines:
Piper: "My juice!"
Paul: "NO!"
Piper: "My juice!"
Paul: "NO!"
Piper: "My juice!"
Paul: "NO!"
You get the idea. This went on for a good five minutes. I started to feel like I was trapped in a Family Guy joke that lasts just a little too long. The toddlers enjoyed tormenting each other in the car & I got a glimpse into my future with two children. Despite the bantering, Paul enjoyed having company for a few days & I was happy to have two of my buddies around.

Monday, August 4, 2008


This past weekend we had our first post-Paul camping trip. He was excited and enthusiastic all week, shouting "CAMPING!" over and over. Little did he know that camping involves sleeping in a tent on the ground, listening to rain pelt the thin plastic barrier, and watching the sky light up and crackle with thunder and lightening. Little did mom know that trying to convince a toddler to sleep through such an event would be next to impossible. Okay, so I knew that much. Needless to say we didn't get much sleep (honestly though, who gets much sleep when on the ground, even without the toddler?) and when my mom asked if we "relaxed" I chuckled. Loudly. We did have fun though and were happy to be joined by Kim & Josh for one night. We had a great campfire Friday night & on Saturday headed out to the park where CJ & I got married eight years ago tomorrow. I was happy to be able to show our son where the Van family began. {smirk}
Paul concluded that the "WATERFALL" was his favorite part, but he also enjoyed creek stomping with Daddy and sitting by the campfire. Oh, & splashing in the mud puddles Saturday morning. The boy has never been so filthy. Not sure if we will try to camp again this summer, but I look forward to more mornings waking up with the sun, opening my eyes to a little face peeking up over the side of the air mattress, a tiny finger poking my forehead. "Mommy. Morning, mommy. Reading books me? CAMPING!"