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Monday, July 31, 2006
Adoption Update
Just a quick note to say that referrals went out today for dossiers logged in between June 29 & July 13, 2005. Three months of referrals to go. I wonder how many months it will take to get through them.


Another Silly Test
Okay, I know these tests don't mean anything. For one thing, nobody timed me, but they're still fun.

Testriffic IQ test


Sunday, July 30, 2006
Testing Things I Learned at Tech Camp

One of the things I learned at Tech Camp is that the long-rumored Office 2007 would be debuting in January. Office 2003 will be off the market as of 12/31/06. Expect to see some bargains at Christmas. The presenter showed us a beta-version. She compared it to the leap from DOS to Windows, and I have to agree.

One big difference is that menus are gone. The screen is completely different. I’ll do a screen capture and display it with this post. One of the coolest features is called live preview. One example would be changing font. A past update changed the font drop-down menu to show the actual fonts instead of just their names. In this version, your selected text will actually preview the new font when you hover over the name. It’s awesome. The screen looks much more intuitive than past versions. I can’t wait to play with it some more.

Another exciting feature is how they’ve tied into blogs. When you open a new document, one of your options is called new blog entry. If you click it, you’re prompted to register your blog. Once you do that it communicates with your blog to post your entry. This is what I’m testing now.

Now to see how the screen capture looks……

Okay, that rocks. All I had to do was click "publish" and it worked! It seems like all the main blogs are supported with this version. There is a way to load photos, too. I'll have to play with it next. In the meantime, I'll load my screen captures the old-fashioned way.

By the way, in case you haven't guessed, I did download the beta version. I couldn't wait to try it out.

Screen Capture of my post

Screen Capture of Live Preview showing post with different font. If I move my mouse away, it returns to original, unless I click to change.

Saturday, July 29, 2006
My Week in Indy

Last Sunday, I headed off to Indianapolis to attend a Tech Camp at IUPUI. IUPUI has about 30,000 undergrad students,plus a medical and law school. It is run by Indiana University and Purdue. I had no idea it was so big. It's smack in the middle of downtown Indy.

I was looking forward to this conference. We had to choose, in advance, one of four different tracks. I chose Graphics, Galore! as it would be using the Adobe Creative Suites software. My school just adopted this software, and I will have to teach in this school year. It might help to learn it, don't you think?

My confirmation told me to check in on campus between 6:00pm and 8:00pm. We would be staying in on-campus housing. They were going to have someone come in special to check us in. I arrived about 15 minutes early. It was a beautiful day. Jim had packed up the car for me as I was working with one arm. Remember my post about RSI? The tendonitis hadn't gone away yet, and I was wearing a sling on my left arm. I had one suitcase for my clothes, one for all my electronics, plus a pillowcase stuffed with my pillow and sheet set. It's a dorm, remember! I was told to pack my own linen. I was so proud of myself because I even remembered to pack an alarm clock and soap, even though that wasn't mentioned. It was stressed that we should bring our laptops as the entire campus, including housing, was wireless. Besides my laptop, I also had to bring a tablet pc because some of the software I was using was loaded on that. The tablet pc belongs to my school. I was loaded down. As I checked in, the very friendly student worker told me that I was on the 3rd floor. Not knowing how many floors the building had, I hopefully asked if there was an elevator. Of course not, it was only a 3-story building. How was I going to get all my stuff up three flights of stairs with one arm! Our entire group was booked on the second and third floors of the same building. Luckily, a quick phone call and a 45-minute wait produced a room on the 1st floor. I was told that I would be in the unit alone, which would be lonely, but at least I could wheel my things around without stairs.

I drove over to my dorm room and swiped my little plastic card. Nothing. Swipe again. Nothing. Someone comes out, so I get in that way. My key does open room 125, that's good. I wheel in and find a decent common living area. There's a full kitchen, a dining table with 4 chairs, a sofa, loveseat, and tv stand. Darn, I didn't even think there would not be a TV. So much for watching The 4400 or Deadwood, but oh well. I still had the Internet for the evenings. I dropped off my stuff in room C. There were 4 individual rooms off the common area. Two on each side that shared a bathroom. My side also had a full-size washer and dryer. Not bad for college living. I peeked in the bathroom. Uh-oh....no shower curtain and no toilet paper. That wasn't mentioned in the confirmation.

I jumped back in my car and headed back to the check in. I waited while they got a new swipe card for the main entrance for me, and then headed back to unload the second load. Swipe. Nothing. Swipe. Nothing. Another teacher who had just checked in walked up and tried her card. Worked like a charm. Then I had her try my card. Just in case I was swipe card impaired. Nope, not me. It's the card. Drop off my second load, and headed back to check in for swipe card number three. The student told me that she couldn't make a new card, and I would have to wait until morning to get another. Luckily, the Tech Camp coordinator was there and suggested she give me the swipe card from a room that had cancelled. Yippee! It worked. They also handed me a roll of toilet paper. Unfortunately, they couldn't get a shower curtain until the morning.

After the ordeal of checking in, I decided to search for dinner. I headed downtown, but there was some kind of event going on involving lots of motorcycles. The place was packed, and I couldn't find parking anywhere. I headed back towards campus and started driving around it. Every campus I had ever been to was surrounded by restaurants. Surely I'd find something soon. After driving around for about an hour, I finally found a really seedy convenience store. I bought some sliced colby cheese, a box of Ritz crackers, an individually packaged bowl of Frosted Flakes, and a pint of milk. Not gourmet, but I was starving by then. I headed back to the dorm to enjoy my luxurious dinner. Isn't business travel great! By this time I was exhausted. I just wanted to eat my dinner, check out my Internet boards, and go to sleep.

Once back at the dorm, I meet my two roommates. Apparently I wasn't the only one who needed a first floor unit. It was nice to have company. They said hi and headed out. I unpacked quickly and set up my computer. I searched for the wireless network. There it was. I could see it. It was weak, but I could see it. But it wouldn't let me in. Oh well, I had a book. I ate my cheese and crackers, showered without a curtain, and went to sleep.

The next morning, I headed off to the workshop. It was great. I got my username and password. With this, I was confident that I would easily get online that night. I also learned that the on-campus food supply was very limited. I needed to plan ahead and brownbag it. After the workshop, I found a couple of chain restaurants I had never tried that were just off campus. I went to Nothing But Noodles and got a Thai Noodle Salad for lunch the next day. Next door was a Qdoba. A naked burrito sounded just the thing for dinner. I took my bags of food and headed to the dorm. I was going through major Internet withdrawal. It had been over 24 hours since I'd read email or more importantly, the Rumor Queen.

Tried my username and password, nothing. Then I'd lose the network. Try again. Doesn't work or the network goes away. Remembered the helpdesk phone number and called them. The entire campus IS wireless, except for the housing they put us in. Call the housing after-hours number. They bring me an ethernet cable. Try again. Nothing. Call the helpdesk again. I need to load a special IUPUI Getting Started disk. The office where I can get one closed at 5:00pm. Another night, no TV - no Internet. I do have my clock radio though.

Next day. Workshop - great. Find a grocery store - 25 MINUTES AWAY. Hello???? Pick up some breakfast food for the next two days. I only need one more lunch. Stop at a Bob Evan's for dinner and have them pack up a chicken salad for my lunch. I never eat at chain restaurants, and now I'm only eating there. Head back to dorm with my Getting Started disk. Load it. Plug in the cables, annnnnd.....nothing. Call the helpdesk. Stay on phone for over an hour as they have me try all sorts of things. Nothing. They finally realize that the Internet must have been disconnected in that building over the summer as they worked on it. They offer to send someone to check it out. The earliest will be the next day at 4:30pm. I pass.

3rd day of workshop. Fantastic. Learning so much about the graphics program. Also learn about a free download that works with PowerPoint 2003. Who knew? Get a sneak peek at Office 2007. WOW!!!! Head to Au Bon Pain for free WIFI access. Finally attempt to catch up. Read the Rumor Queen, my email, my favorite blogs and boards. Decide to grab some dinner there and take it back to the dorm for my last night. Best meal yet. Italian Wedding Soup and a vegetarian wrap with hummus, feta, kalamata olives, tomato, red onion, and cucumbers. Yummy. Turn on my laptop to play my iTunes library. Get big message. IUPUI network found. Connection: Excellent. They put a booster on the roof that day for us. Just a little too late. I laughed, read my book and went to sleep.

Last day of workshop. Still great. We wrapped up about an hour early. I headed to the Trader Joe's on the northern edge of town. Love Trader Joe's but we don't have one. Bought five packed bags of groceries and headed home. I got home about 7:30pm. I was exhausted and so happy to be home.

I think to truly appreciate living in a dorm, you have to be 18 and on your own for the first time. I like my bed, my husband, my dog, my Internet, and my television. Not necessarily in that order. It's good to be home.


Friday, July 28, 2006
Will You Help?
I'm home and happy to be here. Isn't it funny how we miss our beds? I really think you have to be 18 and happy to be in your own place for the first time to enjoy living in a dorm. I'll share more about that later. First, I have an important request to make of you. Whether you are family, friend, or a stranger who stumbled here accidently, please consider helping on this issue.

Part of the adoption process requires receiving pre-approval from the USCIS (U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, formally INS). This approval is good for 18 months. In the past, this was sufficient to complete the adoption and return home. Chinese adoptions have slowed to the point that families are having to re-do the paperwork for this approval. Why is this bad? For many reasons, but I'll stick to two.

1. Completing this form requires submitting updated copies of our birth certificates, marriage certificate, physicals, financial statements, and updating our homestudy, which requires an additional fee to a social worker. By the time this is finished, it can mean an additional and unexpected cost of up to $2000.

2. USCIS offices are located throughout the country. While the rare few are extremely efficient, the majority are taking 2-4 months to process these applications. Some have taken as much as six months. Since these time frames can lengthen or shorten without warning due to internal issues, it's a guessing game as to when to begin the process. Guessing wrong means either spending the money unnecessarily as an extention isn't needed, or having to delay accepting our child while we wait for this process to complete.

Congresswoman Heather Wilson of New Mexico has sponsored a bill (H.R. 5888), the Helping Families Adopt Orphan Act. This bill would extend the validity of the I-171H (pre-approval) to a minimum of two years.

Please contact your representatives and ask for their support in passing this bill. Please also ask them to make this retroactive so that those of us who are currently waiting are included.

I am including a link to Heather Wilson's page explaining the Act and to a page that will help you locate your representative.

This only takes minutes of your time. Please help us out with this cause.

Helping Families Adopt Orphan Act

Find your representative!

P.S. I'm delaying changing the blog address so that I don't lose anyone who might have found this site. I'm hoping that anyone who visits here will respond to this request.

ETA: If you are going to send an email, letter, or make a call on this issue, please let me know. You can leave a comment here, click on the email (talk to me) link, or use my regular email. I'd like to keep track of which representatives have been asked to help. Thanks again!


Thursday, July 27, 2006
I'll be home tonight and share more of what's going on now. In the meantime, enjoy!

ETA: New link since old one broke.


Saturday, July 22, 2006
Talk Amongst Yourselves
Tomorrow I'm heading off to a workshop. I'll be learning all the ins and outs of Creative Suites software (PhotoShop, InDesign, etc...) for a class I'm teaching next year. I'm not sure I'll have the time or opportunity to access my blog, so I'm leaving you with two treats.

The first is a dinner that Jim and I made this week. It was very tasty and very easy. We made the grilled meats and the orzo recipe. I recommend both! The recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis' Easy Entertaining at the Food Network. Just click on the picture to get the recipe.

The second is a new fun blog quiz.

You Are Best Described By...

Impression, Sunrise
By Claude Monet


Friday, July 21, 2006

What do you get when you're on the computer too much and you paint a room at the same time? You guessed it repetitive stress injury. I actually blame the room painting as it's my left arm, and I'm right handed. I'm grateful for that. It's also called tendonitis. All I know is it HURTS! I'm elevating, icing, and taking 800 mg of Motrin 3 times a day. Wouldn't you know I have a computer workshop next week. This should be interesting.


Wish I Were That Funny!

I'm finding a lot of new blogs out there in the mom blog world. This is one of the funniest posts I've read. I think I'm going to find myself identifying a lot with Antique Mommy.

Thursday, July 20, 2006
Where We Are Now

Some time back, I mentioned (okay, celebrated) that we were out of review. This means that our dossier has been moved to the matching room. I had saved these pictures to use some day in a Lifebook for S/J. I thought I'd share two of them now, so you'd see where our dossier is currently living or at least where it has been. I'll explain that in a minute. Even though our dossier is in this room, we still have quite a wait before we receive a referral.

When the CCAA starts matching, they have stacks of dossiers from the orphanages and stacks from the adoption agencies. I've been told that the first thing they do is match up the numbers. If orphanage A has six babies available and agency D has six dossiers, they match those two groups together. They try very hard to keep agency groups together so they may travel together when it's time. They also read the interests of the parents and the children and match that way. A child who likes musical toys would be matched to a family that has stated how important music is to their life, etc... They also use the passport pictures that were included in the dossier and match if they see any resemblance. Sometimes it might be a date that stands out, the same birthday, etc... These matches occur until they're finished for the month and then sent to the respective countries. When the agencies receive this information, they contact the parents and this is called a referral. There have been suggestions that China has a limit on how many children they will refer in a year. The monthly number seems to vary, but there are so many extenuating circumstances. China has not officially stated anything about this matter.

Normally referrals would be expected in about a week or so. Things are topsy-turvy this month (isn't there a new reason every month?) because the CCAA is moving to a new location. These pictures are of the old location, but should give a reasonable idea of what it looks like. I would expect their new home to be a bit more modern, however. Now the next batch of referrals is rumored to go through July 13th. While this is more than last month, which was more than the month before, it is still far less than we hoped for. We were really hoping for all or most of July in July. If we are to have any hope of getting a referral in October. They will need to speed up. This means that those stacks of dossiers would now represent all the parents in the world who have logged in between July 14, 2005 and October 31, 2005. Some rumors have the numbers as high as 2000 dossiers per month, so you do the math. August and September are rumored to be light, but October is quite heavy. There was a huge delay last year for those who were DTC (dossier to China) in September, and they did not get logged in until October. This made for a lighter September and a heavy October. No matter how you look at it, there are a lot of folders in there before they get to ours.

We're still hopeful for 2006 referral. Please put those good thoughts out there for us!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Hooray for Hampers

I just love these hampers. I found them on Amazon and they're even better in person. They popped up as a suggested item for me about two weeks ago, and they were on SALE! I'm really regretting not getting the bumblebee, too. They also have a lion and a dragon. How cool are they?!?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I Would Have Guessed Much Higher

I am nerdier than 15% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Sunday, July 16, 2006
Nursery Update - continued
And the final wall!

Nursery Update - continued
And here's the second wall.

Happy Birthday To Me
Last Friday was my birthday, and it was fantastic. My three sisters flew in on Thursday. We spent all day Friday and Saturday morning in the nursery. Each took one wall and designed a mural. One sister used her daughter's artwork as the inspiration. Another worked with her husband to create a fun picnic scene. The third created a beautiful floral display. It's amazing how all three walls coordinated so well. I knew this could be dangerous, but it could also be fabulous. I'm lucky. It's fabulous. We did not specify gender in our dossier, so there is a small chance we will be referred a boy. This room ended up all girl. If it's a boy, we'll be doing some quick redesign. In the meantime, I'll share photos of the work in progress. We'll be adding furniture, hopefully, this week.

Thursday, July 13, 2006
Nine Months Today
Wow! Nine months down. Shouldn't those labor pains be starting by now? Oh wait, we've had them for months. Rumors are all over the place again. We're hearing everything from the CCAA is going to go back to a full month's worth of referrals to it taking 3-4 months to complete a month's worth. I'm just biding my time. My sisters will all be in this afternoon, and I'm focusing on that and how much fun we'll have working on the nursery. Pictures to follow.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Nursery Progress
We're in the countdown stage for the nursery. Jim and I painted today in preparation for the visiting aunts. My sisters will all be here on Thursday to decorate the nursery. I'm really looking forward to it. Here's what we have so far. I'll post the final results after they leave.

Monday, July 10, 2006
Lots of Turmoil Out There
Wow, the adoption world just keeps reeling.

First, the good news. Rumors are holding steady that the next batch of referrals will include a good portion, if not all, of July. I'm still holding out for an October referral.

During the last two weeks or so, I've read some blogs that became controversial. So controversial, that the owners had to remove or password protect them to keep the trolls away.

The first one was an adoption dissolution. A couple travelled to China in February to adopt their first child. They apparently went through a difficult time period, including post-adoption depression. The bottom line was they determined that they were not ready to parent a child. They relinquished the child to a family that already had one daughter from China.

The second was a family who is in China right now. They disrupted their adoption due to their belief the child was seriously ill with possible neurological complications. The child was extremely small and delayed. According to the parents' blog, they had tests run and the child was not diagnosed with any long-lasting issues. I do not want to judge, however, as I am not there and do not know what actually happened. They did received another child. This has started quite a debate in the community. It's awful for the child who is being left behind, but I think it's been quite an eye-opening experience for many in the adoption community who have been seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. As scary as it is, I'd rather know these stories. This helps me realistically prepare.

The third piece of news I haven't even fully digested yet. A member of my DTC group, who was logged in during November, has had their dossier rejected by the CCAA. It's amazing how connected we feel to people whom we only know in a Yahoo message group. My heart is breaking for her and her family. They were over eight months into their wait when they learned this news. I've been on pins and needles for months with the fear of this occurring to us. It's so awful to see it happen to someone in your group. They say that when one door closes, another opens. I sincerely hope the next one flies open for this family. They deserve it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006
Why Change?

I changed the blog for a few reasons.
  • It seemed like more fun than cleaning out the refrigerator
  • The standard templates were kind of boring
  • I need to get more familiar with HTML and JavaScript as I'm teaching both next year
  • And the main reason

I have been feeling less and less comfortable making the adoption the focus of a blog that's open to the public. I am going to continue to update as that's why I'm here. I figured that since I was really talking about me, I would change the name to what it feels like when I write my blog entries and when I read others. Doesn't it seem like a modern version of the kaffee klatsch? I remember reading novels about "housewives" in the fifties/sixties as they adjusted to a new world. One of the mainstays seemed to be the ladies meeting in each others' homes regularly to have coffee and chat. They provided support, camaraderie, and advice--kind of like the mom blog world I'm discovering out there. Anyway, that's why the new name to go along with the new look.

Pardon My Mess

Currently under construction aka procrastinating. Playing with blog instead of tackling huge to-do list.

Thursday, July 06, 2006
Starting the Nursery

We're biting the bullet! I bought an armoire and dresser today. Jim bought the paint earlier this week, and the room is almost cleared. We're setting up the nursery in a room Jim had originally set up as a studio. We have it mostly cleared, but there's a little bit left to go. Our goal is to have the room cleared and painted by Sunday. Then on Monday, we'll assemble the furniture. Here's the paint color and furniture that we've picked out. We aren't going to be able to work on it tomorrow, but we'll get the room cleared and the walls prepped on Saturday and then paint on Sunday. We're going to paint the full wall, but I plan on covering the bottom half with white beadboard.

Summer Projects

If you've ever wondered what teachers do during the summer if they don't teach summer school, here are two of my projects. I'd call it nesting, except I do this every summer. I do feel a stronger sense of urgency about getting things like this done this year, however. It would have been more impressive if I'd taken before pictures. Both were overflowing to the point that opening the door was a risky venture.

My poor linen closet looks empty now. I got rid of all incomplete sheet sets and threadbare towels. It looks like I need to find a good white sale.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Rumor Queen Poll

I don't get much traffic here, but thought I'd still mention this. RQ is running a poll on her site. She's trying to use this information to calculate how many dossiers are out there and to determine how many referrals can be expected in the future batches. It's all guess work, but it keeps those of us waiting busy. If you haven't voted in her poll, please click the button to do so.

Saturday, July 01, 2006
Too Much Time on My Hands
Okay, did you ever wonder what celebrity you look like? There's a website that will scan your picture and match you up with the celebrities you look most like. It's really fun. I scanned in the picture of Jim and I that is on the top right corner of this blog. Here are the pictures of who we looked like:

Nick Carter

Charlotte Church

Isn't that hysterical? If you want to check it out, go to www.myheritage.com.

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