Monday, July 30, 2007

Let the Circle, be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by

Lest you think that failed 90s rap groups represent my only musical proficiency, I thought I'd throw a little bluegrass gospel into the mix....for flavor....and also because the "circle" may be the best metaphor for the most frustrating aspect of my day. In many ways, I failed my kids today by NOT breaking the circle of agitation that marked our morning and then bled across into our otherwise fun afternoon. I know, from countless prior experiences, that I am the keystone in their continuum of emotion. In other words, if I walk around in a state of aggravation, then you'd better believe I will soon have two aggravated little offspring stomping along my petty path. Conversely, if they begin the day with grimaces and I manage to meet their unhappiness with an even-keel brand of joy, they soon swing away from the dark side and begin to find the brighter edge of everything. Today, I just couldn't seem to get my circle-breaking legs underneath me. We would be well on the way to peace, I would turn my back briefly, chaos would erupt, and instead of returning their outbursts with calm positivity, I would launch into some bizarre lesson about kindness in barely-muted tones of frustration....completing the circle of stupidity instead of breaking it. Tomorrow my hope is that the bluegrass prayer will become my .....inverted....touchstone...... Let the circle be unbroken (unless it is a circle of stupidity, and then smash it, crush it, dash it to bits!), by and by, Lord, by and by.........although it messes up the meter and might throw our fiddle player off, I think my ammended rendition of the lyrics might just save the day!

Incidentally, one of the upshots that has come out of my foray into maternal mediocrity is a reminder that I thought I'd share with all 12 of my blog readers (2 of whom are, in fact, not blood relations!). We homeschooled Olivia last year and through the process discovered a number of online tools that really inspired me or increased her momentum by offering fun reinforcements of the concepts we were studying. My favorite, in the early literacy arena, is the starfall website. The kids played on starfall today while I took a shower, and I had forgotten what a smart and interesting site it is. If you have early readers or kids who are just learning to navigate the mouse/screen combination on your computer, take a minute to stop over at to check out their stuff....terrific. They also sell hard copies of their materials for cheap (even by my nickel-choking standards). In short, it is the Mack Daddy of early literacy sites in my estimation (...and just in case you were beginning to doubt my 90s rap prowess....Kriss Kross'll make ya Jump! Jump!).

I'll try to post links to other helpful homeschool/early learning sites and blogs as our web surfing brings them to mind. I have found nearly everything I have used by linking to helpful sites on other people's blogs, so I hope to share the best of what I've gleaned with all (12) of you. promised....I am including a correction: THIS, ladies and gentlement (WAY back at the top of this entry...because I don't know how to put it anywhere else) is Indiana Secretary of State TODD ROKITA....the undisputed nicest man in the whole wide world. Doesn't he look friendly? Well, he certainly is. You can learn more about him at I'm sure he would enjoy having you stop by the website. I know I enjoy having you stop by mine! If you didn't, my visitors would be limited to my mother, my brother Dave (because I gave him that Superhero name, I think), my Aunt Patti, and me...clicking back and forth from other websites to see if anyone has left a comment, shamelessly trying to jack up the number on my hit counter so that I look less and less pathetic every day (it's a dirty job....). That, ladies and gentlemAn, is my convoluted but sincere way of saying, thank you.
Now to the meat of my post: adoption news. There isn't any. Unfortunately, my dossier didn't arrive at CHSFS today (our adoption agency). It's been very bizarre to think that the timing in which our application is processed, down to the minute, will determine which baby is "referred" to us ("referral" is the adoption term for the photo and records provided for your perusal when the agency and the country think they have found a match for your is not called a placement because, at least in international adoption, the adoptive parent/s can still refuse the referral and wait for another). In fact, I have corresponded with a woman who sent her dossier to our agency on the same day as I did (though I don't think she scarred the post office patrons quite as badly as I did when I flailed about....yes, I think I flailed...screaming "I forgot to sign the check!"....I may have even grabbed hold of someone....poor sweet woman.) It's strange to think that the speed and accuracy of our postal service will play such an integral part in the fabric of our family and our lives. If I thought the tenous web tying our lives together was random, I would be completely offput by this conglomeration of variables, but, as my Grandpa's favorite song puts it, "I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand." He's right (the songwriter, and most generally, my grandfather), and thus we close with a nod to bluegrass gospel.....just like I planned it all along.....

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Oh How He Loves you and me...

The title of this blog has very little to do with the information contained's just the song in my head on this amazing Sunday morning. After attending a double baby shower yesterday, I am cruising across the edge of excitement and into the vast expanse of unmittigated GLEE (and I don't just throw that word around!) about our approaching adoption. In the midst of my glee (okay, maybe I do), I thought I would remind everyone who schedules an appointment at USCIS to print out your confirmation ticket while you are still on INFOPASS (INFOPASS is the online appointment link on the USCIS website). It contains a barcode confirmation, and you will need it when you get to the office. Just place it with your notarized homestudy (the CIS requires notarization but not certification by the Secretary of State....remember him? .....friendliest guy in the world?.....also, I got his name wrong....I'll have to correct that in a future post), your COPIES of your birth certificates and marriage license and your checkbook. If you're starting your dossier and are not sure how to manage the I-600A, be sure to visit They have all of the paperwork available for download for free. Whe I typed I-600A into my browser to begin with, a site came up, several sites really, that CHARGED you for immigration forms. I ALMOST PAID the swindlers. All of the forms are free and easy to find and download on the government site. When you're ready to make an appointment, use INFOPASS, also free and user=friendly, and easy to cancel, if you keep your confirmation (we had to cancel and reschedule online problem). I include all of this minutae because SO many details about this process have been gleaned in our searches from other people's blogs....details that have saved us countless trips backward. So thank you, to those who have blogged their adoptions before us, and I hope this information is helpful to someone.

Friday, July 27, 2007

You better check yourself before you wreck yourself!

I gave the 90s rap song with the same title as this blog brand new meaning today (well, somebody had to). 30 million copies (I had 30 million in my head, accidentally typed 40 million and then took the time to delete and retype the number....apparently even my gross exaggeration has its limites), two cashier's checks, a zillion personal checks, and one closed savings account after I began the day, I was off to the post office to send in my notarized, certified, triplified, memorized, amortized.....ummm....cotterized....dossier. (Don't worry, I'm keeping a copy of the whole thing for myself, just in case). As I approached the post office with two gigantic sealed envelopes (one containing the main dossier materials and one containing "additional documents" that included an enormous check and several small ones), I prayed for the process one more time. No sooner had I uttered my "Amen" then I was struck with the sick and yet somehow amusing thought that I may have ommitted perhaps the most important signature of the packet, the one authorizing payment on my BIGGEST of BIG check for the agency, country, and visa administration fees. I tried to laugh off my vague premonition to no avail and found myself frantically tearing into my hermetically sealed yellow and white envelopes to check all of the Lo and behold! (read, Suprise! Eureka! Holly Moley!, etc.) There lay my Gigantically Enormously Big check with NO SIGNATURE ON IT! I, of course, emitted an exclamation of shock and disbelief before I signed the thing with a shaky hand and reassembled the delicate matrix of "dossier" and "supporting documents." AAAARRRRRRGGGGG! I am reminded that God is at work inside of me, and that sometimes.....okay....frequently.....possibly always, his job description entails rescuing me from the depths of my perpetual incompetence. He does it masterfully. Remember -- check to be sure that you have signed your's not a catchy phrase, but if I was into tattoos......

Did I mention that I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world?

Joshua and I had a date last night! My mom took care of the kids so that we could finish tiling the kitchen floor after completing the day-long paperchase in Indianapolis. (Which, by the way, went very well! We started the day with a notary session. The notary was pleasant; the kids were terrific; what more could a girl want? Then, after exchanging cars and precious cargo with my mother, we trekked up to Indy. With an eye toward my tendancy to seeth after public service workers treat me disdainfully, Joshua gently tried to preempt the certain breakdown before us by .....gently.......and strategically mentioning, "I'm fully prepared to deal with government desk workers today who are rude and mean." Sounds like a useful self-help mantra doesn't it? Did I mention that I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world? After a few minutes of defending the basic good in all of humanity, I finally yielded and prepared myself to the onslaught on basic decency that was before us. In the first several minutes of our visit, the immigration office did not disappoint! Most families wait to schedule a visit to the USCIS until after they have filed their I-600A and have received an appointment for FBI fingerprinting. I was ambitious and optimistic, however (if I had a nickel...), and thought we would have a better chance of being confident in the accuracy of our documentation and its certain inclusion in current fee scale, which changes dramatically next Tuesday, if we went in person. Ultimately, the USCIS was both less intimidating and less helpful than I expected. The desk worker initially frowned upon my having made the trip and advised me, with nary a glance at our meticulously filled out paperwork and its supporting documents, that the processor would let me know if there were any problems. --- without Josh's admonishment, I would probably have been taken aback by her startling indifference (did i mention.....?), but I was prepared and started for the side door of the circumstance. I asked specific questions about our marriage licence (which has never seemed very official-looking to me) and our homestudy (which is going to require an addendum....addenum....adendum....whatever.....from our social worker to complete), and she began to acknowledge the possible complications, finally retreating to the back room to speak with the processor intention all along. Everything seemed to be in order! -- if you're putting together your I=600A, remember to bring COPIES of your marriage license and birth certificates (they WILL NOT accept originals) and an original signed and notarized copy of your completed homestudy (I have heard that they will process the form while the homestudy is still pending, but we did not want to risk misplaced paperwork)....Oh yes, and another hefty check. Also waiting in the office was a father with his four small children and drifting friend. Olivia would have had a blast with them! Our next stop was the office of the Secretary of State for authorizations to certify our notarizations on five of our documents (uh-huh), and we had no idea where to go. First we made the logical move of asking the security guard at the information desk to help us, which he did, very kindly (the first of a long string of government workers in our day to shatter Josh's paradigm), but as he was speaking, I kicked myself....internally....for asking anyone but my brother David, a man with superpowers (my first non-hyperbole of the post!) of geo-political awareness and recall. Super-Dave can find his way through any city on the globe aided only by his astonishing recall of the facts he assimilated in years of poring over maps as a child, his uncanny capacity to remember information, and his intuition (which will heretofore be referred to as his Geo-political Supersense). Dave did not disappoint. Of course he knew where the Secretary of State's office was! And where would I like to park? Be sure not to bring in offensive or sharp materials as I hear they are really cracking down, and give my best to Steve (okay, he didn't really say that Steve part, but I would not have been surprised!). As it turns out, though, the Secretary of State is more than a man. (and I don't mean that with any of the contemporary sexual ambiguity that the phrase implies). I mean he, or it, is a department. A whole branch of government. A little freaky to discover really. We needed to visit the certification, authorization and apostille (which, I think, is french for certification and authorization.....we Americans just cannot seem to purge ourselves of our ever-frustrated francophilia) BRANCH of the Secretary of State. Yes, he is a man, a department, and a thing with branches (I need to think of a Superhero moniker for him! How about Super-secretary......nice). So we migrated from his office, across the street to the government building where two nice women in a government office with no lines encouraged us in our adoptive efforts with jolting statistics (apparently 3000 children were internationally adopted into Indiana last year alone) and competently handled our authorization paperwork (you hear that, Josh, that's the sound of your paradigm exploding and mine easing into place behind it....ahhh, the humanity). But something weird happened just before we left the office of the Secretary of State, the man, to visit the Secretary of State, the branch. Tom Donika (or whatever his name is) our illustrious Secretary of State superhero, breezed through a door at the back of his office suite, smiled familiarly at Josh and I, and enthusiastically (ENTHUSIASTICALLY, beyond comprehension) greeted us. I will try to transcribe his actual greeting here, without the interference of my retro-active, truth-bending imagination, so that you can fully experience our actual confusion. "Hey, you guys! Good to see you! Just have a seat, and I'll be with you in just a minute!" Exclamation points notwithstanding, the man could not have been more familiar if he had leapt across the table and hugged us both (okay, back to exaggeration-world)! It WAS supremely bizarre. All I can say about the Secretary of State is that he is the friendliest man I have ever met without a single exception. Josh says that we witnessed a display of political savvy, a vote-insuring false affection (he just can't let that paradigm die, can he?), but I like to believe that Tom Donika just likes us....that much. Incidentally, those nice ladies over at Secretary of State, the branch DID NOT EVEN CHARGE US for their services.....not an anomaly in their office; apparently their services are free, but startling as virtually everything in this process has been attached to one fee or another. So if you're visiting the Secretary of State's office (branch or man) bring a smile and your paperwork, but check your pessimistic paradigms at the door.) Nope, that wasn't a gratuitous close-parenthesis. It was the end of the world's longest parenthetical statement. So we went to out to eat at a hit-or-miss Chinese buffet where the poi (koi? I never get that right) are always floating and the food is always questionable, and then out to a mildly amusing movie, and had a wonderful time. Did I mention that I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world? Thanks, again, mom, for giving us the chance to reconnect during this stressful last-days-of-dossier fog. You are the best (I will work on your superhero title in a future blog, but I fear it will stretch across several lines and be rather unwieldy). I love you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

We're on our way, Oh what a day!

I realize that the title of this post will only resonate with exactly 6 of the people who may or may not be reading this blog. (Unless a few unforseen members of the cast in the church musical we did when I was in 5th grade just happen to stumble across this blog.) In any case, it captions our morning perfectly. Today is the day Josh and I sprint to the first marker of the papertrail in this adoption....we will be notarizing a zillion or so documents at our bank, securing the bulk of our Ethiopia fees so that I can write a check that doesn't bounce (we hear they frown on fraud and misrepresentation when qualifying families for adoption), then it's off to the Secretary of State to obtain certification for several documents before a trip to USCIS (immigration) to submit our I-600A, (petition to adopt a foreign born orphan). In the meantime, it's possible we'll have to drive across the state to get a corrected copy of our homestudy. The agent extimated our gross annual income about 30,ooo dollars too high....nice, but once again we run into the frowned upon fraud issue. Thanks to mom who is watching the kids so that we aren't disqualified for adoption based upon the behavior of kids forced to stand in line at CIS! Actually, they're wonderful and would probably make us look good.......we have great kids....ready to be blessed with one more. Did I mention, we're on our way......

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

First Effort

You have inspired whose blogs I surf every night....whose lives I borrow from in my mothering, my travel planning, my hope-making. Consider my proverbial hat ....hesitantly....thrown in. My fingertips are screaming from the tile Josh and I have been eeking and slathering into place across our kitchen floor, so this will be a very brief maiden blog voyage....just to test the mainsail (that's still a nautical metaphor, right....I thought about whet the hull, but whet seemed like a misapplied homophone and hull, I think, may have something to do with corn, or nuts...maybe a misapplied mainsail). .....and.....there it was.