Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Month Home

Merry post-Christmas and happy early New Years!  I can't believe that the year is already over.  I say this every year, but it is never insincere.  It always amazes me how fast an entire year can go, and how much can change within that year.  It's incredible to think that at this time last year Eric and I were debating whether or not to make the drive to Indianapolis to check out MLJ Adoptions.  And now our adoption journey is over, and parenthood has begun. 

Over the last month, we have had a lot of fun having the boys home (interlaced with some more challenging experiences).  The boys are doing better each day and I am getting to know their personalities better each day.  They are definitely very different, but we love them to pieces just the way they are.  Their personalities balance each other out really well.  And we have successfully developed a schedule.  It still requires a little more tweaking during the night, but overall it makes things 10x easier.  Having a schedule has been the most helpful with families and friends wanting to visit.  I am now able to inform visitors of when the boys will be awake.  At the beginning we had a lot of people stop by during nap time because we never knew when they would be awake or asleep.  Honestly, I would have to say that the scheduled makes things 100x easier.

Although things are getting easier, we are all still adjusting.  The new challenge is taking the boys with us.  Trying to pack for, get ready and load two infants is ridiculously hard, and the amount of stuff you need to bring is outrageous!  I was given a very large diaper bag and I fill it so full every time we leave, it almost bursts.  And each time we get in the car I have a mild panic attack trying to remember what we probably forgot.

But overall, everything has been going really well.  I truly believe that our lack of children prior to the boys has made it easier.  We do not have anything to compare this experience to, and don't know the difference between one child or two.  

No matter what, we love our little boys and can't imagine them not being here.  We are super excited to see what this coming year holds for us.  Either way, it's going to be the busiest year we have ever had, and we're looking forward to it's craziness :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

First Christmas as a Family of Four

Eric and I would both agree that this was the best Christmas ever.  Being able to celebrate it with the boys was an incredible gift.  We are so thankful that the boys came home when they did.  The timing allowed us to attend every family gathering without worrying if the boys were going to be too overwhelmed or if it would harm their acclamation.  And the best part is, their Aunts and Uncle who live in California were able to meet them.

Unfortunately I do not have pictures of Christmas yet.  Our camera was either forgotten or used for video purposes.  It's a lot harder to remember your camera when you are busy loading diaper bags, walkers, pack n' plays, and children.  So I will have to get some pictures from our family so I can post them.  The only picture we took on our camera was of our family of four at my parents house on Christmas day.

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas holiday and have a very fun New Years!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I really can't believe Christmas is just over a week away.  With all of the new adjustments, we haven't really done anything to celebrate.  We don't have a tree, didn't put up lights, or decorate the house.  In our defense, we do not have a place to put a tree.  So Christmas has really snuck up on us this year.  Hopefully I will be finishing up my Christmas shopping this evening.  Eric is going to come home a little early today so I can get that and grocery shopping done.  It's definitely a new step having to coordinate when one can leave, so the other is sure to be home.  Starting this weekend, we will be taking the boys on a lot more outings.  This weekend is two family Christmas parties, along with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day next week.  We have a pretty good routine for bedtime, but we're hoping that they are flexible enough to go with whatever we have to do.

Along with holiday festivities, this is the first week I am home alone with the boys.  Eric went back to work on Monday.  It hasn't been too difficult, it's really just more time consuming.  It takes a lot longer to feed and change the boys all by myself.  Other than that, they are sticking to their schedule pretty consistently.  We are all still going through adjustments, but it's starting to get easier as things fall into place.

Even Bella, our dog, is starting to get attached.  The other night when we put the boys asleep, she remained upstairs for half an hour after we came down.  She was sleeping at the top of the stairs.  It was so precious.

I hear crying babies.  I guess that means it's time for lunch.  Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still Here

Today we ventured out into the cold so the boys could meet their great-grandma and grandpa Herrema.  It is great-grandma's birthday today, and what better gift from us than our two little boys.  We always enjoy visiting with them, and would have dinner at their house and play a mean game of dominoes.

This week has been good.  The boys are truly making progress in adjusting and developing a schedule.  During the day they take two naps, at the same time every day and generally wake up within 15-30 minutes of each other.  Nights were a little more difficult, although we now have them sleeping until 1am, eating and then sleeping until 6:30am-7:30am.  What a change a little sleep can make to a new parent!

Baxter has now moved on from rice cereal and is eating baby food (with the help of my wonderful friends, I made my own).  This week is sweet potatoes, which he loves!  He wasn't too keen on cereal, so it made me nervous about baby food, but he is loving it so far.  Next week we're moving on to apples.

Despite the fact that they are now home, there is still paperwork to be completed.  Just today, I picked up official translations of our adoption decrees and the boys' birth certificates.  I have to send in several documents to our local circuit court so that I can get U.S. birth certificates.  Once I have those, I petition for certificates of citizenship and then off to the social security office.  As soon as I have these three things, I am done filling out paperwork!  It will be a glorious end to all the madness of the last year.  From then on, all paperwork will be done by our social worker, who will come and do two post placement reports.  After the boys are here a year, all follow up correspondence can cease and I won't have to think about it again.

Anyway, I better get back to homework.  I only have a small amount left and nap time is only so long.  I will leave you with this cute photo I took the other day.  While in the Congo, the boys lived in separate foster homes, so they have to adjust to each other too.  But I think they are going to be good friends :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day Six & Counting...

Today marks day six of the boys being home.  I have obviously been a little preoccupied, but wanted to take a moment during nap time to upload some photos.

Welcoming them home at the airport

(Grandma and Grandpa Bolek)

(Grandma and Grandpa Johnson)

Our first few days home

Well, that pretty much a summary of the last week.  Lots of firsts are taking place as we all try and adapt to each other.  But we love the boys SO much and are SUPER excited to have them home with us.  It's crazy how instantly we doubled our family size.  I will have to get used to acknowledging ourselves as a family of four.  Weird...but cool.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Welcome Home!

Last night the boys flew into Indianapolis airport and Eric and I, along with our parents met them there.  It was a pretty chaotic event that ended with a long drive home.  Thankfully the boys did really well, and slept the majority of the way home.

Eric's dad took a whole bunch of photos, so once I get them, I will be sure to put them up. 

But now it looks like nap time is ending early and I now have two children to care for.  So I guess this is going to be a short post.

But other good news.  Now that the boys have arrived home safely, the blog no longer needs to be private.  I have publicized it again, so anyone interested in reading, can.

I'll hopefully be back soon with an update on how our new task of parenthood is going, but until then, Baxter is wanting to play...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Today's the Day!

This morning I got a text from our agent letting us know that the boys made it safely to Paris, now it's just a hop, skip and a jump from there to Indianapolis and then home with us!  So it looks like it's the real deal now.

I won't lie, it's kind of scary to think about.  Today, as I just go about my usual business, will be the last day at this point in life.  Our lives will never be the same again after 8:30pm tonight.  I am super excited, but the reality of parenthood can seem daunting when you stop and think about it.  Except for Eric, he is totally cool, and every time I bring up some sort of new reality, he doesn't understand what I'm talking about.  That is probably a good thing, it will help balance out all of my planning/prepping nuances nicely.

I know that you no one is ever completely prepared to become a parent for the first time, I just tend to think I can anyway.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Good news...the boys' visas were ready and were picked up yesterday!  We definitely sighed with relief, although we won't be completely convinced until they are on the plane bound for home.  But, barring any more problems, the boys will be arriving in Indianapolis on Monday at about 8:30pm.  Eric and I, along with our immediate families will be at the airport to great the escorts and boys.

In preparation of their arrival, we are finishing up all of the little things left to do around the house.  Eric cleaned out the cars, and built the table (we previously did not have a kitchen table).  I spent the majority of the day doing a deep clean to the house so I can be at peace if I don't have the opportunity to clean again for a while.  Here are some pictures to show how we've spent our afternoon.  Tomorrow is going to be a day of relaxation before the boys come home, although I don't think either of us are going to sleep Sunday night.  We're going to be too excited.

Again , a thank you to everyone for all of the love and support that has been shown over the past week.  It really helped as we made it through everything that happened.  And I will make sure to post pictures of the boys' homecoming as soon as possible.

Hooray for Atticus and Baxter's homecoming!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Making Progress...

I got a phone call at 5:45am this morning from our agent, the boys got their visas!  Thank God.  This is great news, although I don't think I will get super excited until I know they successfully made it onto the plane.  They will definitely be coming in on Monday night, but now their arrival destination is Indianapolis instead of Chicago.

Like I said before, I am just excited to have them home, however they get here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Still Thankful

Despite all of the madness that has taken place over the last few days, I still have so much to be thankful for.  I am truly thankful for all of my amazing support systems, my husband, my family, my best friends, an amazing adoption support group, and all of the support that I have received through social networks and this blog.  The amount of encouragement over the last few days has been astounding...thank you.

And I am also thankful that my boys will be coming home soon.  Even though things didn't go according to plan, they are still coming and that is the best holiday gift a mom could ask for. 

So as you all eat, drink and be merry, just know that I am thankful for you today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Flights, But Less Confidence

In response to the lack of visas, our Congolese adoption lawyer went ahead and rescheduled the boys' flights.  I have just been informed that they will be arriving on Monday.  I am not sure what time exactly, only that it's Monday.

But I don't think I will be able to get my hopes up until I know they have the visas in hand and have acquired the exit approvals needed to leave the country.  We're still praying for favor.

I'm to the point that the day the boys come home doesn't matter as much as just getting them here.  It will be nice to know without a shadow of a doubt that they will be on a plane bound for home.

And I will make sure to keep everyone updated, since I can only anticipate that things will change.  But, to lighten the mood that has plagued my posts recently, here is a little video from our time spent with our boys in the DRC.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I don't want to admit it, but....

I don't want to admit defeat, but unfortunately, it's after 5 o'clock in Kinshasa and the Embassy is now on Thanksgiving break.  We managed to make a small amount of progress.  Our Act of Abandonment came back valid, Baxter and Atticus' visas were issued.  Although it then must go to the printer, which isn't a Xerox machine (this is what I was told).  The woman at the Embassy acted like she was helping, but in reality, she didn't do anything above and beyond what she was already planning on doing.  Then, after speaking with Representative Hoekstra, they were going to the printer today and are pretty much being guaranteed for Friday.  Now, this isn't the best news, but it means that the boys will probably travel on Saturday, bringing them home on Sunday. 

No matter what, it's been a rough few days.  And Eric, who's been in Mexico and was scheduled to fly home today missed his flight and will not be back until 3pm tomorrow.

I just hope that they can fly out by Saturday, because that's as long as the U.S. escort is willing to stay.

There are a lot more details, but it's just not in me to go into them right now.  Thank you for all your prayer and support.  I know the boys' will come home soon, although the cost (physically, emotionally, financially) is still unknown and is worth it no matter what.

Who doesn't love a phone call at 3am?

It's almost 3am and I am trying to get a hold of someone at the Embassy in Kinshasa (because it's morning there).  I called about 10 minutes ago, but the operator said that no one in the visa department was answering.

So I am going to wait and try again.  I pray that I can speak with someone who may be able to help.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why So Much Trouble?!

Please pray...

The boys' visas are now not being issued.  Our lawyer was supposed to get them yesterday, and they weren't ready.  They told her to come back today.  She did and they still wouldn't issue them.  Apparently there is another organization that partook in fraudulent behavior and now they are halting everything.

But our U.S. escort is already in country and the flights are booked to leave on Thursday.  I have emailed the Embassy, the DRC Consulate and the Public Diplomat, called the U.S. State Dept, called my state senator, my congressman and am currently on hold for my federal senator.

I don't know why the last two days have produced more problems that our entire 11 month adoption process, but it has.  So please pray for favor and that all obstacles would be cleared from our path so that our boys can come home.

Because that's all we want.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Possible Changes

This morning I just got an email from our agent.  If their escort doesn't receive his visa by today (which is contained in his passport), he will not be able to travel and therefore, we will have to postpone the arrival of the boys by a few days.

She is going to keep me updated, but it's hard not to get discouraged since this type of thing has happened throughout our adoption process.


Crisis averted.  I was just informed that the visa arrived at our agency.  Talk about a nail-biter to the very end!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

So much to say, but so little time

I could go on and on about our trip to Kinshasa, but right now I am preparing for the boys to come home.  Yep, that's right, the boys are coming home.  Before we left, we were given a tentative escort travel date by our agent, but didn't want to say anything until we knew how the visa appointment went.  Although there were a few bumps, the visa appointment went great and it looks like the boys are probably coming home this Friday, November 26th.  Which is why I really do not have time to do an extensive update on the blog.  I must go and get all of the remaining items needed, primarily clothes.

But I thought I'd leave you with this little video.

Thank you all SO much for all the support.  We are super excited to have the boys home and start our new life as a family of FOUR!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Good News & More Work Than Was Necessary

As you all know, I mailed our visa applications on Saturday.  And they arrived safe and sound on Monday morning.  Because we had received a visa for our last trip (yes, even though they were the reason we couldn't travel, they took our money and issued the visa), I had to send a cover letter asking for the previous visa to be voided and a new one issued.  The reason we needed the last one voided, was because it expired the day before we depart to come home from the DRC.  And we thought that we wouldn't be allowed to leave without a visa that was valid throughout our entire trip.

I knew that this wasn't a simple request, so when my phone rang with a D.C. area code, I wasn't surprised.  I was actually nervous that for some reason, they wouldn't like what we're doing and again, we wouldn't be able to travel.

When I answered the phone, the gentleman informed me where he was calling from and proceeded to ask what I was doing.  I went on to explain the situation, and he simply answered that the visa is good until January, it's just that you can only stay in country for a month maximum.  I was polite until I got off the phone and then did a super-happy dance. Of course this is how it would go, that I would scramble all day Friday for no real reason.  But it was all worth it, even if it was all in vain.  The best part is, he's also sending back our money order!  So we don't have to pay for the same thing twice.  And if he mails it today, like he said he would, it will be back in my hands tomorrow.

There truly aren't words to describe how relieved I was after that phone call.  For me, our visas were the one thing can could keep us from leaving on Sunday.  But now, we are all set to go. 

And now, I am off to spend the evening with the loveliest friends a girl could ask for.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Making Lists, Lots and Lots of Lists

I have successfully made it through yesterday and this morning.  I spent almost the entire day on the phone, or booking flights online, corresponding with our agent, and preparing everything for our visa applications.  And because this falls at the worst possible time for Eric's work trip, I spent an hour on the phone with United trying to rebook a flight for someone who is headed to Mexico to replace Eric while he's not there.

So since yesterday I have been making nonstop lists.  I spent the last 24 hours checking and rechecking the list for our visa applications.  If for some reason I missed something I think I am going to scream.  I can't tell you how long I looked at that list.  But now I am just waiting to see.  I mailed the application along with EVERYTHING it needs today.  It's guaranteed to arrive on Monday, then we'll just cross our fingers and possible call a friend who has a friend at the Embassy ;)

After I mailed everything this morning, I spent some more time making lists.  This time I was organizing what homework I want/need to get done this week, what I will have to complete while we travel and what will have to be done once we get back.  Let's just say I doubled the number of post-it notes on my magnet board.

Now I think I may start of list of outfits and necessities that I need to bring with me when we travel.  Since we are now attending an appointment at the Embassy, I have to be conscious of what I wear.  Except when I asked our agent, she said "informal but nice," like a skirt/slacks with a nice top.  But this time should be much easier to pack.  Last time I had to pack for two different temperatures, since we were going to spend time in both the Congo and Germany.  This time, I will only need to be prepared for one day in Belgium.  That will make a lot more room available.  That, and the fact that we will be traveling for fewer days.  

Although I feel a lot better about everything, I know this week is going to be pretty crazy.  Aside from leaving for the Congo, the thought that I will spend the entire day on Saturday crafting with my besties can get a girl through anything :)

Okay, well, I'm off to create that other list.  I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Interview Appointment

This post is going to be short and sweet, since I now have a lot to do today.  This morning, we received our visa interview appointment.  We are scheduled for November 17th!  That is crazy soon.  I spent the morning racing around getting flights booked, then I had to send our agent our travel dates so she could then request our letter of invitation.

The invitation letter is what we had tons of problems with last time we tried to get our visas to travel and which contributed to the cancellation our trip.  Well, this time I only have 5 days to get our visas.  It's going to be a nail-biter for sure.

And to top it all off, I have a 10 page research paper due soon after we get home (which I won't be doing while traveling) and Eric has to figure out his work trip to Mexico.  The same day we leave for the Congo is the day he was supposed to leave for Mexico.  Let's just say it has been an exciting, yet stressful day so far.

Any prayer would be greatly appreciated.  We are super excited to see our boys and complete this step in the process, but the next week is going to be pretty crazy.

On a note about the weather, I hear it's now snowing!  I hope everyone has a great (and warm) weekend. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spontaneous Paperwork

Yesterday I got an email from our agent asking for a couple different forms that I needed to fill out and copies of our tax returns.  I had the forms all printed out, but was waiting to hear when they were needed.  Well, they were needed yesterday.  That means I spend the majority of the morning filling out forms and corresponding with our agent in order to answer everything correctly.  Sigh...I was able to do it.  She needed them yesterday because the Congolese attorney is trying to set up our visa appointment, which is the appointment we will be attending personally in Kinshasa.  So I was obliged to drop everything I was in the middle of, and get it done.

But today, I got another email from our agent asking for passport photos of each of us.  She says that I never gave them to her (according to my Dossier list, I had checked them off and sent them with the entire Dossier packet, but oh well).  I just got back from CVS and the post office.  They have been over-nighted.  Hopefully we will hear something tomorrow or Friday about the appointment.  The Congolese attorney is supposed to have an appointment at the embassy for them to review our Dossier tomorrow.  I was originally told that at that appointment, they would schedule our visa interview.  As soon as we have that, a whirlwind of booking flights, hotels, and getting our travel visas will ensue.  I am trying to be ready to jump as soon as I hear from her.

And as soon as I hear from her, I will make sure to post about it.

I'm going to try and get back into the groove of school that I was in earlier today.  I hope everyone has a great Wednesday!

Monday, November 1, 2010

School + Unknown Arrival of the Boys = ?

Today starts week #10 for GRCC's fall semester.  Only 5 more to go before Christmas break.  I must say, I would not choose to do online classes again if I didn't have to.  I have realized how much better I learn in an actual classroom.  That being said, I signed up for classes for next semester, all of which are online.  Hopefully this can be the last semester that I have to do it this way.

Beyond not liking them, GRCC doesn't even offer a huge variety of online classes anyway.  Even with this semester, I felt like I had to settle on classes I wasn't terribly interested in or needed, just because they were available online.  But I think it will just be too difficult to go to class next semester, with the boys just being home (or so we're expecting).  

I can only hope that after 4 months, the kiddos and I will be adjusted enough for me to leave for a few hours each week.  But I guess I shouldn't count on anything.  Who knows what will be happening in 4 to 6 months?

All I can do is plug away at the classes I am currently enrolled in, which is what I am going to do now.  Happy Monday & Happy November!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Life of the Unemployed

Today I am finishing up my third week of being unemployed.  I must admit that I was pretty nervous about it.  As someone who's worked since she was 15 and who has worked full time since 18, I feel a little helpless.  It's a funny feeling when you're not contributing financially anymore. 

And with the change in travel plans, the amount of free time has recently expanded exponentially.  Aside from our appointment interview, I will have a lot of extra time on my hands while Eric travels.

I am trying to keep myself busy though.  Which is not always easy for me.  I do not have Eric's personality.  It is impossible for Eric to have nothing to do.  He always has a project he's in the middle of (usually more than one) and there are always projects in the works.  Because this is not me, I could, if I let myself just hang around and waste the day away.  I kind of feel like I do that already, but I try to make a big effort to be productive, whatever that entails. 

Thankfully, the last few weeks have been full of damage control, regular schoolwork, and some additional projects that are due soon.  I try to have a list of things I want to accomplish during the week, even if it's as simple as return a movie, paint a candlestick or launder the bed sheets.  With a list, I can always look to it if I feel my mind wandering into no-man's land.

I know that once the boys are home, I will be wishing for free time, so I am trying not to complain.  It's just such a funny feeling being home alone all day.  And with only online classes, I have no reason to leave the house, except for errands and appointments.  It's definitely new, and is taking some getting used to, but I think I'll manage.

Because of the tornado warning this week, I think I might organize the basement and designate an area for if it ever happens again.  I'm thinking a small table, a tub of blankets and water and a carpet remnant to put on the floor.  Let's just say that it wasn't very convenient having 6 small children and 2 dogs huddled on the dirty floor, even with 3 adults.

I better add that to-do to my list for next week now before I forget.  I hope everyone has a fun weekend.  Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Nursery is Coming Along

It's just about my bedtime and it seems I am coming down with a small cold.  But I wanted to offer some pictures of the progress I've made with the nursery this week.

Thanks to the ever-so-wonderful Kaitlin, I have a dresser for the boys.  It's my goal to wipe it down this week before anything goes in it (not that there's anything to go in it right now anyway).  I also washed a set of sheets and mattress pads and put them on.  It's crazy how real it seems the more and more the nursery gets organized.  There is still a lot of stuff piled here and there, but small steps are being made.

I even started to make room for baby items in the kitchen and bathroom cabinets.  I figure it will be easier to begin the transition now instead of when I'm a new mom, deprived of sleep.

As proof of the progress I have made over the last couple of weeks, here are some photos I managed to snap today...

I cleared out these shelves and stored blankets and extra linens.

The cribs with the sheets and bumpers on.

 I put all of my diapers in the baskets.  It just looks to great!

Lastly, Eric and I thrifted this small chair last week.  Isn't is super cute?!

In regards to the actual adoption, I haven't heard anything yet.  I am planning on emailing our agent once the two week mark comes around since the adoption was complete in the Congo.  I was told that the passports take 1-2 weeks and feel that it wouldn't be pushy to check in at the 2 week mark.

In other news, we sold our car and bought something else.  It's just a bit more practical for our new family size than the BMW.  I am now driving a Honda CRV.  It's cute and compact, but has some added room, especially in the trunk.

Well, that's all I have for now.  If I hear anything from our agent, I'll make sure to update.  Now I'm off to kick this cold's butt.  Goodnight!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Official Birth Dates & Revised Travel Plans

Today, I officially know the birth dates of my sons :)

Baxter was born on May 22, 2010 & Atticus was born on July 19, 2010.

I am super excited to know the boys' birthdays.  They are close but not too close.  I was hoping that I could have separate parties for each of them as opposed to sharing.

In other news, Eric and I have decided to travel to the Congo for the visa interview.  We originally were going to complete the necessary paperwork instead, but are now postponing our trip until the interview date.  Our agent also thinks this is a better option.

The interview should be scheduled in the next two weeks and is probably going to take place in the next five to six weeks.  This falls directly when Eric will be working in Mexico, but he has decided to leave in order to attend the interview.  Once we have our appointment, the only step left is getting the exit approvals for the boys and then they come home.  I know for a while it seemed like everything was pushed back, but it's looking more and more like they will be home around Christmas time.  Just like we have been hoping!

And last week I put together the bookshelves and got a dresser in the nursery.  I will take some update photos and post them soon.  We now actually have a nice camera that will stay here with me instead of being at Eric's office.  Now I'm just rambling....

Okay, I'm off.  I have procrastinated my homework long enough. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Major Change in Plans

So unfortunately, the visas did not come threw (and most likely weren't going to from the beginning, but we didn't know that).  This obviously means we are not traveling to the DRC this weekend.  Needless to say it was a very emotional day.

But as I sit here writing, I am okay.  Eric and I think that this may be for the best, but we will have to wait and see.  We like to live by the scripture that man makes his plans but God directs his steps.  So we are choosing to believe that God is just directly our steps in this.  And actually, this might afford us the opportunity to attend the visa interview for the boys. 

We are still trying to figure out what happens next, but I'll make sure to update everyone once we do.  Thank you for all the encouragement and prayers.  As long as the boys come home safe and sound, we will persevere through anything.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm Having a Much Better Day

Despite the fact that I still don't have my invitation letter from the Congo, it's still a great day.  Why is it so great you may ask.  Well, today I received our adoption decrees for the boys.

That's right ladies and gents, we are now legally parents.  So it's no longer, "I am adopting two boys from the Congo", it's "I have two sons, and they just happen to live in the Congo right now."  Now it's on to passports and visas and exit approvals, and once that's all done, THEY COME HOME!

I'm kind of excited ;)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Borderline Meltdown

This morning, I came pretty close to having a meltdown.  After returning from the gym, I had an email from our agent asking us about our Congolese visas.  I was dumbfounded.  I guess we just assumed that you pay for the visas at customs when you arrive in the country.  But apparently, you need to fill out an application and send it to the DRC Embassy in Washington DC. 

All morning I was kicking myself.  How could we miss this?!

I printed the instructions and applications offline and went to work.  But then I noticed, on the instructions, we need a notarized letter from the Congo inviting us to visit. 

At this point, my frustration shifting from myself to our agent.  If she has known we were traveling for the last month, why didn't we get an invitation letter sooner (which would have prompted me to get the visas much sooner).  So, after I get vaccinated this afternoon, I must wait to see if she can get me the necessary letter.  Then everything will be over-nighted to the Embassy where we will have to pay double the fee to "rush" it and supply a self-addressed overnight envelope back.

And to top this wonderful morning off, I was kicked off my Psychology exam this morning and according to the syllabus... oh well.  My professor is "not responsible for" my "technology."  And the worst part of all?  I went to a coffee shop because my Internet was acting up (to help ensure that I didn't get kicked off) and I only had four questions to answer.

Depending how the rest of this day goes, I may just have to have myself a good cry.  Thank goodness for great friends.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting Things Done

Today is my first day of unemployed life, but it hasn't hit me yet.  It's weird to think that I don't have to get up at a certain time or be anywhere first thing in the morning.  Not that I even remotely want to sleep in, it's just weird having the option.

But I know I will be utilizing all of my extra time this week preparing for our departure on Saturday night.  We fly out on Sunday, but it's so early, we are going to get a hotel in Detroit the night before. 

Today, our agent has given us some insight into what to bring.  It's really helpful, but it will still be a challenge packing.  Our goal is to only use carry-on luggage.  This isn't too much of a problem except that we will be stopping in Germany for a few days on the way home.  According to the DRC is going to be rainy and in the 90's whereas Frankfurt is going to be cloudy and in the 50's.  This drastic difference in temperature is going to make it tricky packing a 23" x 40" x 55" bag.  In addition to the bag size limitation, carry-ons can only have 3 ounces of liquid.  That means I am going to be hitting up the travel isle at Target this week.

I could use my purse/additional carry-on bag for clothes, but that will be housing my textbooks.  Yes, I will be bringing my schoolwork with me.  But really, who doesn't enjoy hauling textbooks around airports for two days straight?  But I can't complain, this will definitely count as an adventure, which I always tell Eric I want to have.  I may be eating my words later ;)

Emotionally,  I have two conflicting feelings warring within me.  First, I want to totally freak out, followed by a complete meltdown.  Although it's what I really want to do, it doesn't help my situation at all.  Instead, I am going with the mentality that everything is going to be fine; whatever happens is going to happen.  This mindset has taken some conscious effort to keep, because it is definitely not my first reaction.  But I know that I will regret a meltdown and my poor husband won't want to spend ten straight days with me either.  I just have to keep myself busy, and avoid the thinking that takes place once I stop.

So, I am not going to worry, it will all be great.  And tomorrow I have an appointment.  I wish it was to get my nails done, but unfortunately I will be getting vaccinated.  Thank goodness Kent Co Health Dept. could see me.  It's not like I waited until the last minute.  Oh wait....

I am going to end here and get back to practicing folding clothes as small as humanly possible.  If you could, say a little prayer that everything really does go well for us, and for my heart, so that I will be able to enjoy meeting my boys and being with them but will be able to leave when the time comes.

Thank you!  And I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Buying Half of Babies 'R Us

Well, I didn't actually buy half of Babies R Us, but it sure felt like it.  Last Thursday, I spent the afternoon with my mom purchasing all of the remaining items of neccessity on my registry.  Since we will be traveling to the Congo/Mexico, I wanted to be prepared just in case the boys come home while we're away.  My goal is to have most of everything organized before we leave for the Congo.  And then I can spend the two weeks between the Congo and Mexico, finalizing details and getting ahead with school.

To prove how much we actually bought, here are all of the bags waiting to be organized when I eventually have some free time.  Thankfully, I didn't actually spend much of my own money.  Between gift cards and some returns, I was able to get the majority of what I need.  The only thing that's left to get are a few diapers/wet bags. 

The purchase of clothes is going to have to wait until I know when they are coming home.  This is because I do not know what sizes to get.  This means the time between finding out their arrival date and them actually being here is going to be filled with a lot of clothes shopping, comprised mostly of visits to thrift stores.  This part I am very excited to do.  I think it will be a fun thing for Eric and I to do, primarily because we love thrift stores anyway.

In other news, we receievd word from our agent late last week that the Congolese government has added an interview to the end of the finalization process.  This offers us two options, 1) one of us must be present in the Congo for the intervew, or 2) that we must get preapproval from USCIS (the U.S. government) that the boys will be acknowledged as immediate relatives when they arrive home.

Having our trip scheduled for October 17th doesn't offer a lot of time to figure things out.  Just say a prayer for us.  All these added steps are starting to become overwhelming.  It's hard to understand why they need to add all these extras, and why they just can't approve everything and send our boys home.

Thank you.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Work, School and Trips

It's been about ten weeks since my replacement at work started...and I am still there.  Our original plan was for me to be finished already, but my boss has been very wonderful and has given me odd jobs so I can work a few more weeks.  I decided to work longer in order to make a little extra money to put towards our big trip to the Congo this month.  It's an additional expense we were not planning for and every little bit counts.

On October 17th we fly out of Detroit, headed for Brussels.  From there, we make our way to Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC.  We are planning on spending a total of three days there (two full and two half days).  After talking with adoptive families that have visited waiting children, we decided on that amount.  We've heard that any more than three days is going to make leaving very, very hard.  Right now, I expect it to be hard to leave after three days, so I can't imagine leaving after a long period of time.

And it just so happened that Eric got a call requesting his presence at a meeting in Frankfurt with a client.  The meetings fall directly at the end of our Congo trip.  This allowed us to essentially make a "pit stop" in Germany for a few days before heading home.  This is going to be an awesome opportunity and I am thankful to be able to have this little distraction after leaving the boys.

So right now, my last day at work is going to be October 8th, which is CRAZY to think about.  It's really, really hard to imagine not working since it's what I've done since I was 14.  I am going to spend a week before our trip packing, getting ahead with school, and making sure everything is set in the boys' room, just in case.

Soon after we get back, approximately November 13th, Eric is going to be traveling to Mexico to produce a feature film that his friend is shooting.  Since I am going to be done working, I have been given the opportunity to go along for the ride.  As of now, Eric and I will be in Mexico for almost four weeks between November and December.

Both of these trips are opportunities of a lifetime, especially since I won't be traveling much (or at all) once the boys are home, at least for a while.  Despite how great these opportunities are, I still have been stressing over them quite a bit.

One of my biggest stresses is school.  Now, I know I have it easy with online classes.  But just because they are online doesn't make them actually easy.  To be honest, I am having a more difficult time than I have had in traditional classes.  This could be attributed by my professor who's on a power trip, but the other two are more difficult also.  Plus, I have a ten page research paper due while we are in Mexico (it must be submitted both as an electronic version and paper copy).  And on top of that, what is our agent suddenly needs us to sign and notarize something?  I am pretty sure a Mexican notary isn't going to fly when the Congolese government is working with an American family.

But you know what?  I know everything is going to be okay.  I know that I am going to be fine and that I am going to make it.  Yes, it is a stressful situation but it's all worth it.  Unfortunately, this doesn't always help slow my mind down as I try and plan everything out exactly.  But that's life, right?  you just have to roll with it.

I know I am going to be just fine over the next couple of months.  And just think, after it's all said and done, my boys may be home.  And Germany and Mexico aren't too shabby places to go for a little distraction from the waiting.

I know this was a more stressful post, but sometimes you just have to "talk" things out.  So thanks for listening :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Nursery Furniture - Part One

This past weekend, I hunkered down and actually got the cribs and changing table painted!  It actually took two days to clean, figure out how they go together and spray paint them completely.  But they look SO much better now.  I think they were made to be glossy white.

I don't own too much that is white, except most of the trim in our house.  But since two of the three pieces were already white, I thought it would be easiest to paint white over white, instead of painting a them a dark wood color.

Each piece was pretty dirty, but nothing that a little (or a lot!) of scrubbing couldn't handle.  And unfortunately, I do not have any excuse to get out of these jobs, like I would it I was several months pregnant.  Although, I do have a friend who decided to paint her entire garage at 8 months pregnant, but she's just exceptional that way :)

In addition to dirt, there were a few scratches on each piece.  But I figured, with two boys, they weren't going to stay pretty or perfect for long anyway.

Here they are, waiting for to dry after getting a fresh coat of paint.  It actually didn't take me as long as I had thought to repaint everything with spray paint.  And it only took five cans.

Once they were painted, I gave it a couple days before moving everything to the attic.  Unfortunately, the Ikea crib wasn't able to fit up the stairs and Eric had to take it apart, move it and then reassemble it.  He's such a good sport for doing all this for me.

While he was at basketball, I decided to put the other crib together and move everything around to see how it fit.  I had it all set up how I thought it should go, but sure enough, Eric is a bit taller and it didn't work out so well for him.  Hunching over while changing diapers multiple times is going to get old very fast.  So we worked together and figured out a way that we BOTH like.  Success.

Now, all I have to do is assemble the two "wardrobes" and find a dresser that I like, that is big enough, but can also be brought upstairs without dis-assembly.  That last part seems to be the most difficult criteria.  I plan on starting that search soon, since I am anticipating that it may take some time.

So there you have it!  The first stages our of boys' room.  It's crazy how it's all coming together. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Friend Shower Photos

Back on the 19th, my besties threw one heck-of-a shower for me.  It was SUPER cute and my wonderful friend/neighbor/cousin Katy took a whole bunch of photos and gave them to me so I could share.  And you know what?!  She also can take photos for you too!  You should check her out here, at her website.

Anyway, it was just great!  I got to spend lots of time with a lot of lovely ladies, most of whom I don't get to see as often as I'd like.

Here are a few photos showing all the work the girls did to insure that the party wasn't only fun, but it was coordinated with a delicious spread.

Isn't this SUCH a cute banner?!

This little magnet board will one day be played with by G-Baby, one of my bestie's little kiddo and MY boys!  I really cannot wait.  They are all going to be such great friends, I know it :)

And I was given some awesome gifts.  THANK YOU ladies!  It is such a blessing to receive everything you need.  There were a lot of things checked off my "need to get" list.

We definitely know how to have a good time.

I really can't express what a fun time it was.  But us girls love any excuse to throw a party, especially one that requires cute decorations.

Since this is such a photo heavy post, I will wish you all a great week and head back to the piles of homework I should be doing right now.