Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Little Email!

Amazing how one little email can turn an ordinary morning into spectacular! This is what I got in response to an email I sent Anna 2 days ago, asking if they had a crib at the hotel:

Hi Jennifer,

We have children beds with sides measuring about 60x 100 cm, big enough for your little Mod. As you can see from pictures I took two days ago she is not a baby but a charming little lady now that can sing and dance also. When a couple from New Zealand got their little girl they bought a sitting wagon of very good quality in Nakorn si Thammarat and that one they could make like a not very heavy package and take in the air plane. May be something for you too. Little mod loves red colour and liked the tube like cakes and the milk I gave her. The book I read for them in one of the pictures is about snow white and Mod seemed to like it. We so much look forward to see you here soon. 

With love


What a wonderful update! Our Ruby loves red! Sure befits her name and it's her momma's favorite color, too! She likes to sing and dance and likes to be read to! All the things I can't wait to do with her! I already bought her a Snow White doll, but never imagined she would know who it is yet. Guess what I am taking with me to Thailand?? Now about those tube cakes...well, I guess I am learning a lot about parenting all ready. You see when we started on this path I had all these grand ideas of exactly how I would raise my daughter: No sugar till she was like 5. No TV or very little. Everything organic and green and healthy. Well, slowly I am learning to loosen up and that try as you might, you can't plan how you're going to parent. I can have plans, but have to be flexible, too. Some TV and exposure to new things is good. Going to allow it but be very selective about how much and what it is that she watches. I have some but not all wooden toys (and as Robin & Kyle once pointed out, they can make some mean weapons if not careful! LOL). And while I try to be a little green and a lot organic, I don't think a few plastic toys are going to hurt her. After all, I'm still here and we had plastic toys. As for the sugar thing....well you should see the foot long tube cake thing Ruby is holding in the pics! LOL, so much for the sugar rule! Oh, well. My daughter and her little friends enjoyed a happy day and a yummy treat and I am nothing but grateful to Anna for making it happen! Looks like just when I think I have it all figured out, I am given a sign to remind me I don't! So in addition to the patience I have learned (and who would have thought THAT could happen) I am remembering the old addage "all things in moderation!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fun, Friends, Family, Fashion

Despite my panic as of late and tons of paperwork and to do lists to plow through, I managed to squeeze in some good times! Last week I had a full social calendar and lots of girlish fun! 

Started out with a fun shopping trip downtown (Philly) with my friend Charlsey and a bunch of her neighborhood friends. The event is called Shecky's girls night out and I don't know where on earth I have been cause I never even heard of it! Evidently, they have them in every city. Look for it, ladies, cause it's a fun event! You walk away with a great goodie bag and there are many deals to be had!  The pic above came from their website. They caught us proudly displaying our goods and the one below is me excitedly holding the fab new dress I found! It's a bubble dress and has these cute big pockets on the front. Can't wait to wear it! Can you see the giddiness jumping off this picture? 

I scored the purple dress, a cute brown sun dress designed by a sweet girl from Thailand (worn in the pics below), and got some awesome skin cream with lemongrass and coconut. Smells that remind me of Thailand. Great girls night out!

Headed up to NYC on Friday to meet my blogging friend, Mireille (pronounced Mee-ray) from Funky Doodle Donkey. A fun, creative, and lovely person with two gorgeous twin girls from Thailand. I knew I would like Mireille the first time I saw her blog. She's this amazing photographer, world traveler,  great cook, a fun, free spirited person, and great mom. Over a 3 hour lunch at Bar Artisanal we had fun conversation, great food, and I got to know her adorable daughters. They are as sweet and charming as they are pretty and I so enjoyed them. Jasmine was beside me and wasn't so sure about this stranger (me) at first. But by the time I left she was playing with my bracelets and both girls gave me a big hug. So sweet! Had a great time and Mireille presented me with some absolutely ADORABLE clothes for our little Miss Ruby! Thanks, Mireille! (Jeff says thanks too and thinks they are super cute!) They were on a whirlwind tour and headed back to South Africa soon, but I hope to see them next time in country and hope they will come stay with us in Philadelphia a few days!

The rest of the weekend was spent with my in-laws. They are just so great! Had a great time with them and it's so wonderful to see how excited they are about Ruby coming home soon. My mother in law was looking quite chic this weekend...check her out in her pink. I had to snap a pic of her cooking up something good while looking so snazzy! :-)
The next day we had a proper ladies day out: We dressed up, went downtown, had lunch, and walked through the art museum all day. It was wonderful!

There was an exhibit there I've been dying to see called "Shopping In Paris". It was a bit of a disappointment as there were only maybe 15-20 dresses in a small room, but still it was worth the look-see. THIS is what I would be wearing if back in that era...

How fabulously glamorous is that??? I LOVE french toile. And look at the details and fine fabric... 
Liked these also...
In the same building they had the Matisse collection which was very nice and then another fashion exhibit upstairs - this time Tokyo. Very cool and outrageous fashions there and a fashion show video you could watch with some really elaborate runway shows. Fun!

Next we hit the main building and found a whole Asian art exhibit. Super cool with lots of gorgeous art and stone Buddhas and stuff like that. Only a few pieces from Thailand, but loads from China, and then some from Japan, India, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Here is an authentic Japanese tea house set up inside one room. Really cool. Uh, honey, I think we need one of these for the backyard???

Got back to the house in time to have cocktails and appetizers with the guys out on the patio, then we all went out to dinner.  Capped off the night with a movie I've been dying to see: Shopaholic. The books are way better, but it was really cute and a great way to end a great week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Panic Mode

Okay, after an incredible week of fun and girlie-ness (more on this later) I am back to reality. THIS IS CRUNCH TIME. I have anywhere between 2 weeks and one month to pack 3 weeks worth of clothes and gifts, finish reading all those parenting and adoption books I haven't gotten to yet, lock-down anything in the house that is not already, learn a LOT more Thai, drop 10 lbs, strengthen arms and back,...and oh, yea, drop any bad habit I have ever had in the hopes of being a good example to my daughter! Yikes!  She is used to calm, soft spoken people and I am, well, a bit excitable, loud and very chatty at times.  Okay, a LOT of the time! My Mom calls me the Energizer Bunny. LOL, while that is great for getting things done, how do I channel all this energy into a cool, calm, laid back demeanor as to not panic my child when I am panicked? I wouldn't exactly call myself laid back. I squeal when I see a big bug. I will let out a big yelp if happy and excited about something. Heck, I will even squeal with delight over a dress or a great find at the mall! Goodness, I'm gonna scare the poor child! I am also nervous about staying still enough when she is sleeping between us. I know, that is a silly one, but I toss and turn a lot. Why didn't I drop these habits while waiting this whole time??? So yes, this morning I am a bit panicked. About what I have to do and how I'll be as a parent and everything in between. I want to be the best mom ever for Ruby. I want to be as prepared as possible. But inevitably, I will forget something or make some mistakes. I guess you can't prevent that entirely.

We looked at the calendar last night and realized that if we were by some chance going to be at the Aug. 19th, we'd be leaving in two weeks! Now I know that it is much more likely to be September, but, hey, you never know! If they offer it to us, we both agree we'd want to jump on it and go immediately! Can you imagine? We could be holding her in just a few weeks? It's too amazing for words and thankfully, my happiness is even greater than my worry. In fact, I keep going back and forth between total giddiness and full panic mode. I am hoping this is normal. :-)

In general, I feel like we are pretty ready. I mean the house and her room are done. Playroom is started and we just have to hang some new curtains and get some kids art in there. The carpet for my office comes in this week and Jeff spent half the day yesterday re-wiring the play room so all the TV wires are safely and neatly hidden from curious fingers. Toy boxes are put together with some toys already in there ready for play. Going to keep some hidden in the closet upstairs as to not over-load her with stuff. Figure they will also be good to pull out later when she's having a meltdown. I have given this all much thought. Too much, I am sure, which is one of the many habits I have (over-thinking) that I wish I could drop!

We looked online for hours last night. Found some good deals and some not so good deals. Looks like we'll spend between $3500-4500 on flights. Thai airways is awesome and we'd like to fly that. They have a direct flight from LA and the tickets are changeable. I flew them once before and they have such great service. We wouldn't have to worry about Ruby's visa cause we'd go directly from Bangkok to LA on the way home AND wouldn't have to worry if we needed to stay longer. BUT, Korean airlines are a good bit cheaper. So we're not sure what to do yet. Just being able to check out the proposed dates for both August and September is soooo exciting! We have all the travel costs broken down and while it's going to be a lot, it's do-able. 

So a lot on my mind today. Better get off the computer and get moving! I know the best solution for my stress is to MOVE and check things off that to do list! We have a conference call with Kate at 5pm to go over the travel pack. Panicked or not, it is truly amazing to be at this stage! Going to try to tackle all I can head-on today and let the rest roll off my shoulders. Wish me luck! :-)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weekly Inspiration and Paperwork

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

Today I will embrace our adoption paperwork! I will do it with love and from the heart and soul. For it brings us another step closer to our little one. Whatever you do today, my friends, do it with love!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

I know. Another post? My 3rd in 2 days! But we got another email from Thailand! This time from the mom, Sherri, that visited the orphanage with Anna. She said she couldn't write until now cause she didn't have a computer until they got to Bangkok. Anyway, she went into detail about her visit that day. They spent 45 minutes playing with the girls! How incredible is that? She said she took a lot more pics of both themselves, together, and with their room mates. Also with her kids holding them and playing with them. So much for not crying today cause that just melted me! We won't get to see them till she is home from her trip early August. Too difficult to download them all. I will be all excited for 2 weeks while we wait, but I am just so happy to know there are more glimpses into our little girls world!

Of course, with every update I have more questions. How was she? How were her responses? Was she happy? Did she like her bear? Play with it? How did she respond to me saying "we love you" in Thai? Did the kids interact a lot and well together? How were the nannies? I will probably have to wait till she gets back for the answers, but it is so great that I can talk to someone who has just been there and spent so much time with her! She said Anna took Ruby the dress she has on in the pic - how sweet of her! - and it was a size 1. She said the kids waists are tiny, tiny and I am wondering about the 12 month clothes I already gave away. Oh, well. If you twist my arm I will go shopping again. :-) But this time I will wait till we go to Thailand!

I honestly don't know how I would have survived this journey without updates. This is what has been holding me together. I am more determined than ever to seek out parents adopting from Nakhon Si Thammarat and look in on their children and get them photos. Please pass my email on to anyone you may know!

Letter from Sawan

We got our first letter from the child we sponsor in Thailand! It was very sweet and included a little drawing (above). It's very good! I told him I liked it and it was suay ngam (beautiful)!  It's very cool how Compassion sets it up. They give the kids these letters to fill in. There is a space for a drawing, a letter, the translation under it, and then the back of the page it lists some fun facts. So we know his favorite color, food, flower and things like that.

So cute! They also include a sheet for us to write him back and a space for translation, too. I wrote to him and sent pics of us and our animals for him to see. Want to go look for some kind of little baseball card or stickers or something to send too. We are allowed to send anything that is flat and will fit in a regular envelope. Wondering if maybe we can take a gift for him to Thailand and ship to where he lives. Won't be able to go to the area he lives on this trip, but hopefully in the future!

PS - we already broke into Ruby's snack stash (bad mommy and daddy!) Hey, we had to make sure Ruby would like them, right? (yea, that is the story I am sticking with). I must say those little organic cheesy duck things are every bit as tasty as the goldfish crackers! But way healthier! Better go stock up! LOL!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Snap Crackle Pop

Okay, you know those commercials for Rice Krispies you have been watching your whole life? The ones where the Mom and child gleefully pour milk into their cereal bowl and ultimately the mother says something like listen, honey, it's snap, crackle, pop! And then the child says I can hear it, Mommy! I can hear it! This brought me to tears while on the treadmill at the gym yesterday. Seriously. So what I would like to know is why didn't anyone warn me about these adoption-induced 9 month pregnancy type mood swings? And the next question is, CAN I PLEASE GO TO THAILAND NOW? I need to hold my baby!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Homemade Taggie & Baby Stuff

I had been thinking about how much Ruby liked the twirly ribbon on the bear we sent more than the actual bear. I showed our friends Charlsey & John her video the other day and we laughed about it again. John said his mom will go to Joanne Fabrics and buy a couple pieces of shiny/sparkly material and their daughter Ava will be entertained for an hour. Hmmmm. I got an idea. What if tied a bunch of ribbons, scarves, and things I have together like a little pom-pom? Sort of a longer, toddler verison of a taggie? I didn't have everything I needed so I went to Joanne Fabrics and collected a few little strips of fleece, tull, sparkly sheer, fringey ribbon, and a fuzzy boa. Came home and pulled it all together into this fluffy little specimen. I call it the Princess Taggie! hee hee. Hope Ruby likes it as much I liked making it for her! Here's a closer look...

We had a whole Ruby day today! It started with Jeff putting together her toy storage bins we got from The Company Store. The Land of Nod ones looked a bit nicer and were probably better quality, but the ones we got were nearly the same for a lot less money so I made a practical choice for once, LOL. We got 2 single bins and 2 double bins. All can be used alone or they are stackable. Still not sure exactly where they will call home, but we think the 2 single bins will be down in the play room and one double will go in her room. The other we aren't quite sure of yet. There was much discussion of what to do in there, how to rearrange, what we wanted to hang on the walls, etc. We're both just so excited and went shopping all day to find some cute wall hangings to make the current TV and soon-to-be play room look more kid-like. Didn't find a thing, but had fun looking. Gonna look online tonight.

Went to Target and Babies R Us also and got a bunch of things to take to Thailand with us. I was sure to check the expiration on everything so it will last a couple months. We got biodegradable/natural diapers and wipes, insect repellent wipes, purell wipes, sunscreen, Mum-Mum Rice cookies, organic snacks of all sorts and varieties. Even Goldfish-type crackers that are all natural, organic, and made from whole wheat. Yea! Everything is good and healthy! 

We had such a nice day together. I got all teary in the snack aisle, though! Have no idea why cause I'm so happy, but I guess it's just so amazing that we can finally be buying these items. I can have her soups and Annie's Naturals pastas in the pantry for when we get back. I can buy those wipes without fear of them drying out. It's really happening and it's really just about here. I am still in awe of it. I am still reeling in the news that she can hear better than we thought, that she is talking, and that we are going to be with this precious little girl in just a few weeks or a month. It's mind-blowing.

Tonight we are gonna pick up those adoption books and start reading again and also have ourselves a little Thai lesson. Fun prep-for-Ruby Day!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The News!!!


We just got about the best news they could give us on our little girl. The email came in early this morning, but to not to my inbox. I stayed up and checked it as long as I could keep my eyes open and then woke up twice in the middle of the night. Nothing. I woke up finally around 9am and again nothing. Then my friend Ellie texted me. She got it! She would forward! (Jeff found later he had it in his inbox, too.) I rushed to the computer and open Ellie's email as Jeff runs up the stairs to join me. So here is the big news...

The orphanage told Anna SHE NO LONGER NEEDS HEARING AIDS AND IS TALKING!!! I stared at the screen in front of me in disbelief. Until the screen was blurry from my tearing over. I am baffled as to how and why, but, who cares! Anna said she was talking, can count to ten and much more!!! They told us she needed speech therapy and really wasn't talking back in April??? Again, I don't know how it is possible but she is doing much better and that is AMAZING!!!! We were just practicing our Thai words last night in bed and counting. Now we can do that with HER! 

I have spent countless days and nights worrying about her hearing and speech. Praying for her to be okay. Praying for the right doctors and therapists and for my own wisdom to please come so I can do the absolute best for her. Even if she still has some hearing loss and problems it will not be as bad as we thought and I bet she will hear most things. I am so happy for her and I am soooo thankful! And this next thing I'm about to say is just so dumb, but here it goes anyway...I can sing her to sleep! It's not about me or my voice or anything like that, but about bonding and soothing her (hopefully) and sharing one of the things I love so much which is music. Oh, and she can hear the ocean... and the wind... and the sweet song birds in the morning! And oh my...I'm gonna cry again!

Okay, so back to the email. We got pictures from Anna's visit last week. Two darling little pictures of her sleeping with a bottle. It's kind of bittersweet cause I love that she is still gonna need to be babied by Momma (and Daddy too, of course) and I can hold her and rock her to sleep with a bottle. But then my heart tugs and is sad that she still needs to be babied at 27 months cause we are not there yet. Both feelings happen simultaneously in this joyful, but sentimental and longing sort of way. I know some of you know what I mean.

Anyway, then wonderful sweet Anna went to the orphanage again yesterday. She took the kids toys and took several pics of Ruby and Lily together (our dear friend Ellie's little girl) as they are in the same room now. The girls are sleepy and obviously not thrilled about being woken. As Anna put it, "not feeling too social". Still they are sooo cute. Just precious shots!

My heart is filled to overflowing right now. So grateful for the miracle of Ruby's hearing and speech. Forever grateful to Anna for being so incredibly kind and loving to our girls and giving us so much joy today. There is no way I could ever repay or thank her enough for what she has done for us and our daughter. And so grateful that Ellie and I have become friends and that our daughters will have the opportunity to be friends, too. 

Jeff got some great work news today, too - hooray! - but for both of us, the news and new pics of Ruby is better than anything on this planet! So much joy for one day! We will probably spend a lot of time looking at those new photos over and over this weekend!

And PS - we both survived our Hep A & B vaccination shots this morning! The first round is over and it wasn't fun, but it's another step done for our pending trip!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bring On The Rain!

...cause we are ready! At least our little Ruby will be! I looked around for a nice lightweight rain coat and ended up with a whole ensemble. Jeff is not exactly convinced that we "needed" it. (But I am!)

 I got the white set figuring it will go with everything. The jacket came with a matching hat and then I also got the coordinating mini-umbrella and rain boots. Aren't they cute??? They are called Mary Janes by Trumpette - the same people that make those itsy bitsy, adorable infant socks that look like Mary Janes. Oh joy! They are just so adorable I can hardly wait to see her in them! She's gonna look so cute! I got the size 2/3 so they will probably be big, but will do the job for now and then I am figuring she will grow into them by our own rainy season next Spring.  Yea, I know. I am up to my old habits again. But hey, it's monsoon season! I HAD to buy them! 

Still waiting on news from Anna and Sheri in Thailand. I checked email all night until midnight and was on it first thing this morning. Nothing yet. On pins and needles with excitement and hoping it comes tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Early Morning News From Thailand

The beautiful Ekman Garden Inn, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand

I woke up early today and ran to the computer. Okay, I do that most days...except for the early part! But I knew there was a Mom visiting Nakhon Si Thammarat orphanage this week and I also knew the kind woman, Anna, who runs a hotel there (and who took pics of Ruby for us back in Feb) was going to be with her. I asked them both to find out whatever they can about her hearing and speech, and if possible, to get her current weight and sizes. Also to find out what the orphanage needs and who the sweet nanny is on her video. I made a "still" shot of her with Ruby off the video and sent to Anna.  

So I got an email from the lovely Mom who says Anna was there last week and took pics of our daughter and has good news for us!!! She said Anna's email got returned to her and she is trying to get in touch with me! OMG! So I wrote her back immediately with my other email and Jeff's and then frantically deleted emails for HOURS off both my Comcast and Verizon servers and also my inbox in an effort to solve whatever email problem I have. Geez, do I have a lot of emails! Deleted 1300 off Comcast alone and that is just June and July! Really got to get off some of those mailing lists!!!

Anyway, she has good news about Ruby! What is it, I wonder? My mind just started racing when I read that. Could it be she is talking? Hearing better? Happy and well and knows we are coming? Maybe the orphanage knows something we don' when we are expected to be there! Oh gosh, I will be on pins and needles until I hear from her! We will get news and pics from last week, and then pics from today's visit!!! Is that amazing or what? The kindness of strangers on this journey is a constant inspriration and reminder of all the good people in this world. The email was sent to myself and another family - one that has become a good friend - and also adopting from NST. This is the line that got me the most:

"You should know that Anna has been watching out for your babies and has brought them some clean towels and clothes so that they are well taken care of. She is their guardian angel!"

How do you repay someone for kindness like that? What a beautiful heart this woman has and how truly blessed are we to know her! I just can't get over how lucky we are! I have been giddy for hours about all this, but my mind does go back now and then to the clean towel thing. Do they not have clean towels? Do they have so little that they all share until it is dirty? Or are they just old and ratty looking? That is really sad to me. A clean towel. Something we take for granted every day. God bless that woman for looking after our daughters!!! I am adding towels, now, to the long list of things I want to buy for them when we get, clothes, education toys for the little ones, coloring books and crayons, band aids and first aid stuff, vitamins, toothbrushes & paste, toiletries, books, sheets, crib sheets, first aid stuff, diapers, formula, etc. But anyway, I don't want to think about that too much when we have been given such a gift today. We are blessed with enough to be able help the orphanage and we have been sent so many incredible people to help us along our journey!

Please, if you know someone going to southern Thailand, tell them about Ekman Garden Inn, pictured above. A charming and beautiful resort outside of Nakhon Si Thammarat and only a mile from the beach. Anna is not only the kindest person I have ever known, but also a translator! They can drive you to and from the orphanage, as well. It is owned and run by Anna and her husband and this is what Sheri said about it today in her email: "We are here at the absolutely beautiful Ekman Gardens where Anna and Stefan are our hosts. You will not believe how beautiful it is and how much you will feel at home here. We commented last night that it is like staying at our families home but here in Thailand-we will definitely come back here regularly when we visit Thailand." We can't wait to stay there and give them the biggest hugs and thanks!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Gift With Meaning

You'll often find me wearing this amulet. It's one of my favorite necklaces and has all sorts of personal meaning to me. It also has an interesting story to it.

It was a gift from my dear friend, Muk, from Thailand. A couple years ago she came to the US for the first time and stayed with us for a month. She brought me some cool wooden bangle bracelets and neat stuff from Thailand, and then - with much excitement - she pulled out this amulet that has a Buddha on one side and a stupor on the other. Quite beautiful. It was given with a lot of love and kindness from a wonderful person. It reminds me of her and of Thailand and the kindness Buddha inspired in that beautiful nation. I had never before been to a place where the people were so kind and loving. Everywhere. Not a single rude person. They don't judge others, no harsh words, not the impatience you run into every day in a normal American city. There is a calmness and kind nature there that made me fall for the Thai people since the first day I hit Bangkok. Yes, Bkk is polluted, full of traffic, and chaotic with it's developing world hussle-bussle. You have to scratch the surface to see it's beauty. Oh, but it is there for those with eyes to see. 

When Muk gave me the gift, we were still trying to get pregnant. Although it was something I always wanted to do, we weren't considering adoption at that time. The amulet, often called Jatukarm Amulets, are very popular in Thailand. You will see men, especially, walking around with lots of them around their neck. Some are said to bring good luck, happiness, peace, prosperity, etc. I thought it very cool and special and happened to have it on one day when I visited a local Thai temple. I went there for Thai lessons and to learn more about culture programs, holidays, etc. I like to be fully educated on things and want to know as much about her culture as possible. After all, we are going to be a Thai-American family now. We are very proud of that and want to incorporate their traditions into our every day life. We want her to be proud of her homeland, too, and know that she comes from a very special place and of very special people.

This visit was at a time when we didn't know yet if she would be ours. It was 2 years after I had been given the necklace. We were told our child was on "hold" for us, for lack of a better term. Meaning our file was being considered for her and no other families were told about her. But then there was a mix up and the Thai gov matched her and then they didn't and there was this long span of months when we just didn't know anything. It was horrible. I didn't sleep for a long time. We felt so deep in our hearts that she was meant to be our child, but were still so worried. As I went to the temple that day I, like most days, prayed for a sign. 

So I am talking to the monks there and they notice my necklace. The Abbot (which is the head monk) says he likes my amulet and asks where I got it. I tell him and then I precede to talk about the adoption. Now a second monk comes over and points to my necklace. He says "Beautiful! Where did you get it?" Again, I explain. Then the 2nd monk finds out we are adopting and asks where the baby is from. I say, Nakhon Si Thammarat. He says "Oh! That's where your necklace is from, too".  I got goosebumps all up and down my arms. She was our daughter. Our beautiful daughter from Nakhon Si Thammarat. I knew it! A few weeks later we got the news that confirmed our hunch.  When I later told this story to Muk, she said she had never been to that part of Thailand and didn't know that was where it was from. Coincidence? I don't think so.

So I wear my Buddha proudly... for it not only has so much meaning, but it also comes from our daughter's birthplace.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Travel Packet!

Our official travel packet came in today! Kate sent us a little preview - meaning 20 of the pages - via email last week for us to start looking over. She is so great. As you can see by the pile pictured above, there is A LOT of information. Wow. But it's exciting and wonderful to be at this stage so I am not going to let my dread of paperwork kill my joy about it. We will get through the documents, page by page, and figure it all out. Of course, some of the pages are just Thailand info, weather, hotels, and stuff like that and just a review for us. We already know a good bit from our travels there. Not worried about getting around or finding this or that cause I know Bangkok well. Still, I am sure there will be surprises and visits to places I am not familiar with, too, so good for us to refresh our memories and get reacquainted with things. 

Going to look up hotel info today and see how many points I have now at the Marriott. Last time I checked, I had 5 nights free at the resort on the river and a week free at the Courtyard. We are still debating on whether it would be better to stay close to the US Embassy at a lesser hotel within walking distance to a lot of things or at a nicer hotel with great pool and gardens (and it's very kid friendly) with many modern conveniences, but a bit further to travel for our appointments. We REALLY want to stay at the Marriott Resort on the river. We like that it is away from all the noise and hussle-bussle of the city and this calm little haven, but we are concerned about taking Ruby on the ferry. To get to our appointments, we'd have to take a ferry from the hotel to the skytrain, then the skytrain a few stops, and then walk a couple blocks from there. No big deal for me as I have taken that route many times and it is very easy. Skytrain is super clean and a piece of cake to figure out, and the ferry is only a 10-15 minute ride. BUT, I have never traveled with a toddler before and it's also monsoon season. Will the boat be rocky? Have regular service? Will she be freaked out by it or the sky train? Not sure. So I am going to get on the phone with the Marriott today and try to figure that all out. Then we will weight the pros and cons.  There is a JW Marriott in Bkk that also may work out. Pretty sure we will stay at one of those properties and we also know where we are staying in Nakhon Si Thammarat. We will do the Twin Lotus 1 or 2 nights since it's close to the orphanage and then after we have her with us, we will stay at Ekman Garden Inn near the beach in a neighboring town 45 minutes north. We are going to be buying Miss Ruby a raincoat and boots before we go! (Yay, and excuse to go shopping...and for something we actually need and not another dress!)

No, we did not receive our To Whom It May Concern Letter yet. (In case you are wondering). We know a couple other families have (congrats!) so ours has got to be on it's way. Wacap is anticipating we will get it soon so they wanted us to have the travel information to get ready.
Hooray! We are actually getting ready for our pending trip! We are finishing the last few projects around here and I have little piles started with things I want to take with us. Her clothing is washed and ready to be packed. Just need to find out her exact size now. Anna from Ekman resort is visiting the orphanage this week with a family and is going to try to look in on our girl. So we should get an update soon and hopefully new pics, too. What a happy, busy week this will be! Planning for a trip of a lifetime! 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Family Fun & Key Lime Pie

Well, the summer fun continued this weekend. This time it was my family that we entertained and a good time was had by all! My youngest brother Dave has been having a hard time lately and just had his meds readjusted (he is severely autistic). We weren't sure how he'd be, but he was a real trouper and such a sweetie. Boy, how I love that kid.  

Mom and Dave came down on they are just hanging out.
Saturday afternoon Jason, Anthony, John (my newest sibling), and Kellie came over. It's incredible how we all get along. We are all really just so comfortable with each other. I mean we are blood relatives, but it seems we are building a nice, easy friendship right now and it's so cool. We all feel the same way and enjoy each other's company.

I was rather prepared for this BBQ (unlike me) and yet still found myself running to the store 2 hours before the party to get this or that. We ate one of my pies Friday night (the whole thing!) so I had to make another for the party. LOL. Still, I managed to get myself home, ready, and got the appetizers out slightly late but no one seemed to care.  I threw the second pie together later and heck, we didn't need it after all. Sent it home with Mom to give my Aunt. It was really a nice time and PERFECT weather. Sunny, but not too hot, and not a drop of rain although they were calling for it. Not until 15 minutes after John & Kellie pulled out of the driveway, did it start raining.  And I mean, POURING! It really couldn't have timed out better. A wonderful day. Here are some pics.

The whole gang.

Kellie and I hanging outside.
Smoking section...Mom, John, and Jason hanging out on the patio.

John and I in the kitchen.
David enjoying his 4th ear of corn on the cobb and gobs of butter.

Now I ask you, is this boy serious about his corn on the cobb or what?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Fun

We have really made a point over the last year to do more. See our family more, travel more, when possible, and hang with our friends.  Not that we won't be able to have fun and see people with our Ruby, but we really want it to be all about her and will not have many visitors for awhile. Want to keep the shock to a minimum. The poor child will have gone through so much change. There will be no party at the airport. Definitely not a big welcome party for several months. The grandparents and immediate family will be allowed short visits after a couple weeks, but no overnights and no one else can hold her, feed her, or cuddle except us for a couple months.  After talking to a lot of families and pouring over a ton of adoption and attachment books this last year, we are trying to find the exact right balance between too many visitors and going overboard with keeping people away. I guess it will all depend on how she is doing with us. Our families have been warned and are being really supportive, but it may be tough once she is home. And who could blame them for wanting to see her? We will surely be dying to share our little darling with them, too! So I guess we see how it quickly she bonds to us and how she deals with new things. For now we are trying to be as social as possible and get in some great quality time with everyone we know and love...and keep reinterating that they may not see us for awhile!

In between our social weekends, much of the last month has been about the home and yard and getting ready for Ruby. This week was about me. Got my hair done, nails done, ran a bunch of errands, got all my groceries for this weekend, did some baking, and had some fun with friends. My friend Charlsey runs an event company and got invited to a celeb-filled launch party in NYC that we went to last night. We were just talking recently about how we love to have an excuse to get all dressed up once in awhile. Charlsey and I used to model together when we were (much) younger. Back in the days when we always had a reason to get all glam. So we drove up, had dinner with our friends,  headed to the party,  then drove back home. It was great to hang with friends and funny to watch all the 20 and 30-somethings fight for a chance to see the stars. Really, they were all these "famous for being famous" types -like reality stars - and only a couple real actors or singers. Kim Kardashian was the host. My God that girl is ITTY BITTY. Very pretty and not "curvy" like the tabloids call her. Geez, is a size 4 curvy nowadays? Hate to think where that puts me! LOL. I am inspired to diet once again... well, uh, after this weekend's cook-out, that is. Then again, I can hardly compare myself to someone half my age. And yikes, how did I get to be this age anyway? I really still think I am young, but then reality kicks in and goes "Ah, I don't think so! " LOL. Still, it was a fun night and good girlfriend time.

Charlsey, myself, Tammy, and Kimi after dinner at Sushi Samba.

The Kardashian Sisters. Don't really know much about them except they have some reality show. And that they are entirely too young and cute. LOL.

This picture is blurry, but check out the shoes! Are those not some snazzy gladiator sandals?LOVE them, but where on earth would I ever wear them? Ha, not around the farm house, that's for sure! The dress I had on has been in my closet for a year waiting for an occasion to wear it. Was so happy to have an excuse to wear it last night! Lately, Ruby is the one getting all the fashions and Mom is recycling what's in the closet. And now that it's cleaned out, I actual know what I have in there!

Off course, our night wouldn't have been complete without a picture on the red carpet. This is Jamie (Charlsey's business partner), Charlsey, myself, and another friend of theirs outside the event.

I so love my girls nights and I love NY, but the best part is coming home to my quiet house, being greeted by my cat and dog who act like they haven't seen me for a year, and then snuggling up next to the hubby. Ah, there's no place like home.

My Where Has The Time Gone?

Now that's a phrase I never thought I'd say on this process! Whereas much of the last year has gone by at a snail's pace, the last month has FLOWN by. Between all my projects around the house and in the yard AND our heightened social schedule, the days and weeks are gone in the blink of an eye. But hey, this is A-okay with me! Come on August!

You know I've got to be pretty busy when I don't even blog much. Yesterday, I finally had the time, but our internet was down. Today I have both the time and my coveted service back. So, gee, where to start? This is going to be another one of those 2 post days cause there is so much to catch up on...

Had such a great time last weekend that I just set the camera down and enjoyed in it. We are so blessed with the great people in our lives. Jeff's Mom and Dad came down last weekend for the 4th and it was SO nice. His mother brought down tons of food she made so all we had to do is throw some stuff on the grill and relax and enjoy! She made us a key lime pie that was killer and then gave me the recipe so I could make it for my family that is coming down this weekend. I actually made 4 pies in the last two days and got a report back from my neighbor (that got one) that it was yummy! Yay! Never made a pie before so I am very pleased at this minor feat.

Back to last weekend... on Sunday we went with Jeff's parent's over to their cousins house for a pool party. Again, just an amazing time. They are such a beautiful kind and fun and loving. They are all so excited for us to bring home Ruby and there is never a time we don't see the Poelck's and come home feeling all warm and fuzzy. They are just really great people.

The only pic I took last weekend...this cute one of Jeff and his Dad reminiscing about his sports days. While cleaning and reorganizing, I found all Jeff's old baseball cards, autographs, and pics of him playing baseball. Both him and his dad are big fans and his parents kept every single picture and newspaper clipping of Jeff playing sports through the years and put them in albums. It was a sweet moment to see Jeff and Woody walking down memory lane. They remember every detail of the games and even the scores! Geez, I can hardly tell you what I had for lunch last week! LOL!

This weekend we will host my family for a BBQ. Lots of good times this summer. :-)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Clean, Purge, Give

Well, I did it. I went through my gown closet. Everything is in plastic and organized by color. Not so long ago I was living a dream. Singing 6 nights a week in 5 star hotels with an excuse to wear a gown every night. Sometimes I think I liked the dressing up part more than the gig! (Okay, and the nice hotels, too!) I'm a sucker for glam and LOVE any excuse to get dressed up! Well, anyway, Momma is about to live a new dream and although MORE exciting than the last, it's a job requiring only jeans and a tee shirt. Time to purge!

So what to do with all those gowns? I went through and shamefully I must admit there are like 50 of them in there. Some I hope to wear again. Some I just can't part with yet for sentimental reasons. My first big show in Atlantic City. My first gig in Thailand. Several I designed and had made in Thailand. (Pic of them below). One of them made of the Thai silk given to me as a New Year's present from the girls that worked at the bar where I sang. They all got together and presented it to me and were so excited when I walked in one night in a dress made from their gift! Decided to part with 20 of them, but really had hoped to give them to someone who will appreciate and get wear out of them. I went online to search for possible charities and found one not far from home called Cinderella Project of PA. Very cool charity and a nice lady that runs it. They loan out gowns and dresses for free to girls who can't afford a dress for prom or those who just need a dress for a special occasion. I love this idea and makes me feel better about letting go of those coveted gowns. Every girl deserves to feel like a princess for a day and go to prom! So happy I can contribute. In fact, I'm so happy about it that I'm going back through the closet today to see if I can't find a few more...

These are the ones I can't part with. The reddish pink one on the right was the one made from my gifted Thai silk. All 3 are silk and were custom made (very inexpensively!) in Thailand.

Jeff gets home today and I have a full agenda. He's been working so hard so I want to make sure he hasn't a thing to do or a care in the world this weekend. So I stocked the fridge, dropped the animals at the groomer for a good bath and hair cut and did all the errands. Even taking down all the trash - a job I usually wait for him to do. Last night I cleaned out and re-lined the pantry. Still need to mop the floors and clean out the fridge and lazy susan. It's been a 3 week process of cleaning and purging and boy, does it feel good! Donated some shoes and clothes to a local charity this week, too, so I am not the only one benefiting from all this purging. Good feeling and now all I have to do is organize my office and I am DONE. Then I just kick back and enjoy summer till we go to Thailand. Woo-hoo!

Good News Friday!

Fate is kind enough to always give us the big news - the real good stuff - on a Friday. Just in time to celebrate with friends and family! Going to be a fun weekend as the hubby finally gets home! He's been in FL for business for 2 weeks and I have been both bored and lonely! On Saturday the in-laws are coming for a visit and on Sunday and we might get to see Jeff's wonderful cousins, the Polks. Should be a great time.

So on to the news...
Boy, that social worker of ours is one busy bee these days! She must have just made it her mission to take care of those Wacap cases cause there is good news all over the place! Two friends recently (in addition to the 2 that got referrals) got good news that their case is progressing and now THIS...

Got an email from Kate tonight! Now I haven't the slightest idea why, but we were brought before the board again this week. (Yay!) I thought they only did that once, but I guess it's twice before you go and again, of course, when we get there. Whatever the case, we were approved again and we are just waiting for that letter to get here now! Travel should be shortly thereafter! OMG, it's really happening! I had that feeling all day today. That this is really happening and it's happening NOW. July is gonna fly by and all of sudden we will be on a plane and then by her side. It's incredible. I literally can not get her out of my head. Every single second of the day. No matter what I do or where I am. I just picture her by my side. Right where she is going to be! Possibly NEXT MONTH!

I am so giddy right now, but it's after midnight so there is no one to call! I had to pop on here and write about it. The first thing I did actually was to forward Kate's email to Jeff. He will be up early tomorrow so he'll probably get the news first. Can't wait to talk to him!

Have a happy, happy 4th of July weekend full of sun, fun, fireworks, and love!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Walk In The Park

Last evening, the rain broke and the sun came out just in time to hang out a bit before it was time to set. I went over to see my friend, Charlsey, and we all went to a pretty park nearby. We "all" meaning, Charlsey, her daughter Ava, her 2 big dogs, myself, and my Chloe dog. Charlsey is so great and let's me do a lot of stuff with Ava. (She's my play-date, remember?) So I put her in the car seat and buckled her in all nice and snug. Her Momma let me know when I had it just right. I folded up the stroller and put it in the trunk and when we got to the park Charlsey let me do all the pushing. (LOL, she loves the break she gets when I'm around cause I'm so eager to do everything!) My dog has never walked along side a stroller so I wasn't sure how she's react. She was an angel! Just walked along, glancing every now and then at little Ava (who is a DOLL)! No problems managing the stroller, baby, and dog at all. Piece of cake! She's going to be really good with Ruby, I think. A little jealous at first since SHE is the current "baby" at home, but such a sweet dog that I think she'll do just fine. 

We went to the playground area after a nice walk. So good to catch up with a friend on such a nice evening. We watched Ava as she climbed and took on the many slides. Quite the climber, that little one! I had a ball catching her at the end of the slide, all the while this little voice inside my head kept saying "You are soooo ready!" Soon Ruby will be coming down this slide, too!" It's such a joy to be around Ava and hear her laughter. To think in just a couple months Ruby will be here and it will be 2 kids, 2 adults, and 3 dogs on our walk in the park! Add the husbands in and that makes 7 of us! Great fun! I can hardly wait!