Saturday, December 20, 2008
For example, this year I got:
- An inspriational-type teacher book (you can guess how many times I've gotten one of those)
- A glass apple
- A wooden apple
- Apple earrings
- A glass paper holder with a big cross on it
- 3 mugs (of course all teacher-themed)
- About 14 candy canes
- A fiber-optic snowman that dosn't work
- Another inspriatioinal teacher book
- A baggie of mints
- A third inpirational book
- A wooden ruler
BUT, I did get some reall goodies this year too:
- Some bath and body works shower gel
- A candle (always popular)
- A 24-oz diet coke :)
- A gift card to smokey bones
- A gift card to cold stone creamery:)
I've always thought that I would rather students and families just not get me anything. But, if they feel they need to, there are so many small things that I would be happy with and could use! A package of pencils, scissors, or some hand sanitizer. Maybe a funky red pen or some white board markers. I guess the other stuff is more fun to give.
Yet, this year, I did receive a gift that almost made me cry. I have to give you a little background so you understand how special the gift is.
I have a little girl in my class... we'll call her 'Susie'. Susie has not had an easy life - her mom left when she was 8 or9 and she lives with her dad who I'm quite positive has some addiction issues. She also lives with her 4 brothers who are all over 14 years old. To top it all off, Susie's best friend just moved out of our school with no notice. They didn't even get to say good-bye to each other. And she doesn't really have any other friends. I have to imagine that Susie's life is a lonely one as she is entering a crucial growing stage with no women or girls really in her life. She constantly seeks out attention, no matter if it is negative or positive. I've tried to be a 'mom-like' figure for her and try to give her special attention and hugs whenever possible.
So, yesterday, she was GLOWING as she came up to me with a present wrapped in paper that was clearly used for a previous present. She drew hearts and christmas trees all over it and it said (gulp) "To my best teacher in the world" (yes- I typed it correctly) from Susie. I fawned and did the whole song and dance about "oh, you shouldn't have, you don't have to buy me anything......" blah, blah, blah. When I opened it, it took me about half a second to realize with sadness what it was. Susie had given me a copy of the book "Rogue Warrior". I'd never heard of this book and immediately could tell it was an old one. It was the condition of the book brought it all home. The book had no cover, was edged with waterspots and stains, and had clearly been sitting on a shelf for years, maybe decades. When I opened it, it reeked of stale cigarette smoke and a clothing tag fell out of it. It was cleary something that she swiped from a closet at her house (or someone else's) before coming to school.
What could I say? I just looked at her a gushed about it. "Oh, Susie, you know how much I just love books and I've never read this one. But I bet it's a good one. Look it has gold writing on it and pictures, too!"
Susie said, "I knew you'd like it because it's about World War II, I think. And you like history so much so I knew it would be a good present for you."
I just gushed over it more and showed it off to all the students and displayed on my desk in front of all the other gifts. She just ate it up.
By far, the best Day-O-Crap...ever.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Our case worker just emailed us today to let us know that the powers-that-be in Haiti approved our file just TODAY and we are officially in the hands of the American embassy in Port-au-Prince. We are just waiting for Rory's passport and visa appt and then we will be on our way!
Granted, again, this doesn't sound like something that will take long, but we fully expect that it might take a couple months. Especially with the fact that the gov't doesn't work 12/19-1/7. But,THAT'S OKAY WITH US. We are just glad to be UNSTUCK and back on track to get him home. I'm contacting our Senators Bayh and Lugar (again) to request their ability to nudge things along.
It's so weird because today I'd walked around all day thinking about how much we wanted this news before XMAS and knowing that with offices closing tomorrow, we didn't think it would happen. But here we are. It so funny because with every step behind us, it's like being granted permission to get excited again. I just went in Rory's room for some paperwork and realized that I hadn't really been in there for a month or so. His clothes all look so small, I hope SOME of them fit! Well, I guess it's getting to be that time to shop for a winter coat!
Tomorrow is the last day before XMAS break and I don't have to go back until 1/6 or 1/7 (can't remember right off hand) so I'm really happy today! We are having a small party and I'm giving three tests tomorrow. Brandon said I'm mean, but seriously, with all the stuff they make us cram into kids heads these days, there is seriously NO time to waste. I would just LOVE to let the kids color, make crafts, sing, watch videos all day tomorrow, but literally, the curriculum just doesn't allow it anymore. I'm already behind two weeks in math and I'm FREAKING out about it! Plus, you have to be careful to not 'influence' the kids with holiday propaganda. Oh well.... you can't fight city hall.
I have a feeling I'll be posting more often over the holiday with all my free time. Stay tuned...
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Again, Rory will not be home for Christmas. It would make sense that they could just add this paperwork to his file, send it to the USCIS, get his passport and visa and get him home in a week. But that will not happen. After MOI releases Rory's paperwork it is in the hand of US officials at the embassy in Haiti- hopefully that will be soon... but no one knows what to expect anymore. Apparently there is a new director at the MOI office who is basically a Nazi and demanding all this extra paperwork. Hopefully we jumped through our last hoop and can get out of his jurisdiction soon! From what we hear the US embassy can be just as demanding, so hopefully karma will be on our side after what we've been through! All I know is that the minute I know that he is out of MOI, I will be on the phone with our senators begging for their help to contact the people in Haiti. It's the only thing that we can do, so we will do it to the nth degree!
In other news, we had a really great adoption class via phone conference Sunday night. A woman that has adopted like 11 kids or something and is highly involved in adoption issues led the class. I learned so much. It was interesting some of the things that she brought up and suggested. Things I hadn't thought of yet. She mentioned the sleeping issues and bedroom arrangements and how the bedroom should be somewhat plain (like the orphanage) so that Rory is comfortable when he comes home. Sooooo, this weekend, I am going to take everything down a notch. It's no fun for me, but I have to do what is best for him. But eventually everything will make it's way back into his room. There were so many other things... It was so helpful to hear someone that has gone through this an knows what works and what doesn't.
Looking forward to a low key weekend. Maybe I'll even do my Christmas cards!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
No news from Haiti.... the wait continues....
We've gotten lots of responses about Rory's latest picture. He is pretty dashing, if I do say so myself! Brandon and I decorated for Xmas last night, sans tree. It still looks pretty festive and got us into the Christmas spirit. Last night, as I unpacked my fourth rubbermaid container jammed full of Christmas decor, I thought, I've accumulated all of this after only 10 years or so! How much am I going to have in another 10 years? I'm not too concerned though, because those who know me will tell you I am a purger. I love to rid of stuff. It's theraputic or something. I love trash day and trying to find stuff to throw out. I also love to condense stuff. Just 30 minutes ago, I was downstairs taking an excedrin... it was the 2nd to the last in the bottle and I got unnatural satisfaction when I put the last one in with the new bottle and threw the other one away. What is that? I think I get that from my mom. She keeps what she has to, but not much more than that.
Brandon's aunt Mary and friend Judy were here last year sometime and were shocked that I had only two oven mitts. That's it. They thought that was hysterical! But, seriously, how many do you need? I've only got two hands, so there ya go. I actually just got two new ones and I'm throwing the old ones out. Woo hoo! I can't wait for the day after Christmas so we can take down the Xmas decor and get rid of the superfulous stuff.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
We just got this updated photo a couple days ago and it literally took my breath away! I was just so thrilled with this picture I had to share it. Still no news from Haiti, but maybe soon....
Thanksgiving was awesome. We had a great time with Mary, Don, Mom, Malana, and Josh. My turkey was stunning ( I couldn't believe it turned out so good) and everything was delicious. However, our fridge went out the night before and we are still SANS refrigerator but not for much longer. Thank goodness it's been cold here. We can actually just leave stuff in the garage and it's okay... for now, anyway.
Brandon and I have decided against putting up a tree this year. We are still putting up everything else, just no tree. But we do have a 'Charlie Brown' Tree that will come in handy. I was talking to Tom- my cohort in 5th grade here at school- and we were talking about what a pain a tree is and I guess the just have a really small tree that's predecorated. That got me to thinking... How long will it be until they have hologram Xmas trees? I mean, really, how cool would it be to have the Rockafeller (sp?) tree from NY hologrammed into your living room? Or to have the tree from the Indy circle transformed onto your front lawn? If they can hologram that reporter on CNN on election night, do you really think hologram decorations are far off in the future?? I don't think so... And literally ZERO maintenence AND it take up ZERO space! I want to get in on that business on the ground level. SERIOUSLY!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I'm over my initial shock and infuriation over the delay in our adoption. Brandon and I were super upset the first couple days, but what can we do? I know that the best people in the world are working this out for us AS WE SPEAK right now in Haiti. I definitely take back my remark that I should just 'go down there and do it myself'. That's just stupid and ridiculous on my part.
Our director just got back from Haiti and she said that they were working really hard to get things sorted out for us and the other families involved. Also, she posted on our website that the Haitian and US gov'ts are shut down 12/19-1/6 for the holidays, so that is also better than we imagined. At least we still have the better part of the next month to hope that things start to happen!
In the meantime, we are getting ready to host THANKSGIVING this year, poker playing included. Woo hoo! Hopefully this time I won't mess up the turkey. Last time it was just a teensy-weensy bit underdone. Lesson- give that bird some more heat and time!
Another lesson learned today.... buying shoes is not my strongest talent. I wear (gulp) size 11 shoes and I must have spent an hour looking for sneakers at Kohl's today. I always do the same stupid thing... I look for sneakers I like, then my size, which they rarely have. I need to just look for the size 11 boxes first, then figure out if I can stand to wear the shoes in public. I would save myself so much time and grief this way.
Perhaps the most important lesson learned this weekend.... I should not allow the store music affect my shopping experience. I found myself in the underwear section cursing the droning "Let it Snow" version by Mariah Carey (ugh) that I'm convinced was playing since I left the shoe department. I left the store with only my semi-ugly sneakers just as a result of the most annoying holiday music of all time.
A three day week.... joy! A four day weekend to look forward to... more joy!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I don't even know what to write. I'm so frustrated and upset I could throw something. I guess there are three other families in the same position, so our director is in Haiti trying to get stuff done for us. I do feel good about that, but this, to me, sounds like it could take some time.
In short, it is safe to say that Rory won't be here for Christmas. I know that this is what we signed up for, but we are dependent on donkeys now.... are you kidding me? I'm half tempted to just go and do it myself. I mean, really.
This sucks. On top of all this, I have the worst cold ever and have a headache.
I thought I was getting a sore throat, but I think it was just the constant lump that's been building up for two years.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
A few nights ago I was thinking about my favorite movies... so here are a few... in no particular order.
1. Contact - starring Jodie Foster, great concept, and I love everything science so why not have a time machine that sends her into space? Sure. Even more that the science theme is the theme of validation. I love that her hard work pays off for her one billion-fold.
2. The Red Violin- starring Samuel Jackson, great movie concept, unlike anything I've ever seen, but I can't NOT watch it when it is on. In reminds us that inanimate objects are animate and that things aren't just things, but they are the story they carry. I have to give credit to my sister-in-law Krissy, who recommended it to me.
3. Life is Beautiful- starring some italian guy- another movie recommended by Krissy. By far the happiest holocaust movie- is that even possible, you ask... yes, it is.
4. Schindler's List- starring Liam Neeson- another holocaust movie, but this one is epic, and non-forgiving in it's bigness. It is the only movie that I've been to when the entire audience sat through all the credits until the lights came back up in the theatre. It is so cliche that 'One person can change the world' but this movie is the quintessential definition of that idea. Brandon has never seen it, and it breaks my heart that he hasn't.
5. Signs - starring Mel Gibson- so scarry good. The first time I saw it, I literally left the theatre with sore shoulders from being so tense.
6. The Wizard of Oz- seriously? Munchkins AND a green horse? I am so in.
7. The Bridges of Madison County- starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood- the only movie that is just as good IF NOT better than the book. I boo hoo everytime at the end. That whole seen at the end where she is in the truck with her husband... I don't think I breathed the entire time. So good and so mortal.
8. The Usual Suspects- starring Kevin Spacey. Awesome. Rent it when you can watch it UNINTERUPTED.
I'll add more as necessary....
You know that saying that goes something like "Life is what happens while you're busy making plans"? Well, I'd like to take that person and punch them right in their PIEHOLE! We've been waiting to start the rest of our lives and at this point, it's just getting stupid. With the cold weather, I'm afraid that depression has set in at the Vaughn household.
Anyway, gotta be more postitive! So, I have so much to talk about besides stupid adoption stuff.
OBAMA WINS! That's awesome. I actually COULD NOT keep my eyes open for the initial projections on Voting night. So I had to wake up to the news that OBAMA won- I kind of knew that from what I could tell, but what made me SO, INCREDIBELY, UNBELIEVABLY proud was that Indiana went BLUE. Indiana, from this point forward, will not ever again be considered a shoe in red state... our votes will and did actually count! What an amazing thing to see a black man take the highest office in the land. I am so excited that when Rory comes home, that he will have the most powerful person in the world to look up to.
Also, we had our annual Bradford Woods overnight field trip with the fifth graders on the 6th and 7th. It was an awesome time. We hiked, fished, sang, played games, etc... and -the best part- all supervised by the awesome staff at Bradford Woods. Which means I just sat back and enjoyed the reactions of the kids and the beautiful scenery. It was great weather... the very last two warmish days of the year, because after that it got cold in a hurry!
Then, I came home, repacked and set back out for Girls' Weekend on Friday night. I love girls weekend with my girlfriends because you don't have to dress up, wear make up, or care about anything you don't want to. There was tons of fun... it always it. But, at the same time, we are all getting older, and you can kind of tell. Especially on Saturday night. Not so much on Friday. We can get a little roudy!
I'm off to Mom's for dinner and Survivor. BTW, if you watch the BIGGEST LOSER... how great that Brady was voted off... If I ran into his sneaky, lying, meddling wife on the street, I think it would be borderline theraputic to kick her butt! Next week should be great!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
We have two cats.. Chilly Willy (Gigi or Gigs) and Kiki. They are horrible. Awful. Downright irritating to NO END.
Kiki, shown here, is actually the better behaved of the two. She is socially defunct and hates all people, including us a lot of the time. She hates the vaccuum, sheds like there is no tomorrow, and is getting on in her years... she'll be 10 in February. She reminds us of the old grumpy man that can be found at any American Legion on any given day. Set in her ways and pretty much crappy all of the time. She loves wet food and actually KNOWS what the words "wet food" mean. She hisses and barks when she's really ticked off. She's been plotting her escape for some time now, trying to get out the garage, front door, or back door whenever possible. She's actually tried it more than a lot... especially since the arrival of Gigs about 5 years ago.
Gigs actually came to us as a stray that Brandon found abandoned in one of the homes he was building. I refused to keep her, but by the time he returned from work a few hours later, I was totally attached to her.
We are thoroughly conviced that Gigs has the feline version of ADD, mixed in with some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and maybe some bipolar thing going on. Our assessment is that she is either a genius or the stupidest, most draining cat of all time. She drives us nuts on a regular basis. Some of her most annoying habits are (in no particular order):
- Chewing paper
- Chewing through electrical cords
- Knocking over anything that is liguid
- Chasing kiki
- Trying to perform WWF moves on Kiki
- Depositing socks from the hamper in her water bowl
- Stands on us in the middle of the night
- Knocks stuff off the mantle/dresser/nightstand/counter
- Steals straws from my drinks
- Hogs the bed
- Only drinks water out of the kitchen sink (right, Paul?)
- Hisses at every person, but won't run away from them... just keeps hissing
- Bites- usually just us
- Tries to lick chicken that is thawing
- Occasionaly sneaks into the dryer
- Chews through screen on doors/window SUCCESSFULLY
Brandon is convinced that she is a form of the devil.
But, they are our cats and they do have their good points. Kiki likes to snuggle and rolls on the floor and purrs a lot. Gigs is just entertaining and she can fetch! Like a dog! We love our cats, even though they are psycho.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Hope you enjoy our newest picture of Rory. He looks a lot older, but healthy and happy :)
Anyway, still no news. We are sending our VISA packet next week so that it is ready to go when the US Consolate needs it. What does that mean? Nothing really.. just trying to stay one step ahead of everyone down there. We are just hoping that we get some news soon. We talked to Vivian yesterday, and she said that the last time she checked in she asked if they need anything else for us (documentation-wise) and they said 'no', so I guess that's a good thing.
Maybe we'll have something to report later. I've been sick for the last two days and have missed work. Brandon is awesome. He takes such good care of me. He drove me to work this morning at 5:00 so I could set up my sub plans. Anyway, feeling a little better right now. Hopefully that's the worst of it.
I have parent conferences and fall break next week. Fall break should be fun. We are going to Eagle Point and hopefully golfing if it's not too cold. It should be nice - and pretty!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
We have no news (as usual) to report. A couple went last week to get their kids and there is word that some people will be going in the next few weeks. However, I don't think it will be us. There are two families who actually have been in MOI longer than us. I had thought, up until a few days ago, that we had been in MOI the longest, but, I was wrong. It's hard to keep track of where people are and whose moved and who hasn't. Besides, I try to explain to people that it's not like waiting in a line.... Just because your NEXT doesn't mean you are next. We are just over the two month point in MOI and worried that it might take the entire three months.
If you don't want blatent honesty, then you shouldn't read the rest of this.
Here's what totally urks me as of late. I don't mind people asking about updates, or what we've heard, if anything. However, it is the people who act so pained that it is taking so long are about to drive me nuts! I know that they mean well and their pain is for ME, but it is so difficult to wait and keep myself composed. It takes a whole other level of stamina and patience to comfort the people around me. It isn't all the time, and it really isn't one or three particular people, it just the reaction that drives me crazy. Brandon and I have sworn that if we were to EVER adopt again, we won't tell a soul. It's just too much pressure. Again, I'm not mad at anyone, just at the situation. I know that's at the root of why I am not posting as much as I should.. I mean how many different ways can you say "We are still waiting" with a smile? Ugh.
But... JOY OF ALL JOYS! I got my Smartboard installed in my classroom this week and it is AWESOME! It's like a interactive whiteboard/computer. The kids totally dig it and I am in heaven! If you've never seen one, Try this link:
I am totally pumped. The single most exciting development in my teaching career. I LOVE it. As I told one of the other teachers, I would totally make out with it if I could!!! She laughed until she saw it and now understands!
Friday, September 19, 2008
In other hurricane news, we got pictures of the village where the Creche is and it's really flooded. I guess the road washed out and the only way to get there is by donkey? Anyway, not to worry, I'm sure they'll have things up as usual soon. The pictures seem severe, so I'm trying to be unreasonably positive, cause its the only way to save my SANITY!
Check it out-
This is the gate of the creche, and....
And this is the road in front of the creche. Joy.
- Do your realize for a test item to be considered valid on a standardized test, 30% of the answers have to be incorrect. SO, if students do really well on an, addition problem, let's say, and 90% of them get it correct, they throw it out. It's not valid, so in this way, the tests stay valid, and keep getting more and more difficult. Yes, 'NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND' is a really nice, fuzzy idea, but COME ON! Seriously? I KNOW THAT NEVER, EVER WILL ALL OF MY STUDENTS PASS THE TEST, because it is DESIGNED that way. I know this because I have worked for the testing company, and worked with the state to design the science ISTEP exams. I'm not assuming or making it up- it is fact.
So what am I, as a teacher, supposed to do when, in 2011, the state of Indiana (in all their wisdom- insert trumpet music here) says that ALL students are supposed to pass? It's impossible! And now they want to institute merit pay for teachers? What a joke. Yeah, here, you teach in Carmel, so all your students pass=you get $XXXX. You teach in IPS, so you get crap and and extended school year on top of it. Sorry about cha.
Ugh... well, that worked... now I'm all fired up!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
As promised, I said I'd post my favorite books... so here they are, in no particular order.
- On Writing by Steven King--- fascinating even if you are not a Steven King fan. It is a loose autobiography/memoir about how he started writing, and how he gets those ultra weird ideas. I found it extremely interesting that he doesn't even REMEMBER writing Carrie- he was too drugged out. I've read this about 5 times - I really like to reread the good ones.
- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway--- a one-sitting read that is everything a book needs to be. Outstanding writing and empathy for character. I've read this one four times I think. I even have encouraged a few of my fifth graders to read it over the years.
- Angels and Demons by Dan Brown --- I read the DaVinci Code and LOVED it, but Angels and Demons was more tightly woven and more along the lines of science, which is my weakness.
- The Kite Runner- by Khaled Hosseini. I read this for book club and found myself feeling so overwhelmed by how little I understand people of other cultures and probably some of my best friends. A sad book that will change the way you look at most things.
- She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb--- great read, disturbing... I still cannot believe that a man wrote this book. Unbelievable!
- A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck--- this is one of my student books... It's written for young adult readers, but I feel like I know these people, like I've met them before. It's a great funny book and anyone with a weird Grandma would love it! I cry at the end EVERY TIME.... even thought I read it aloud to my fifth graders. They make fun of me frequently behind my back, I'm sure.
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan---If you haven't read it, you should get it on your way home today. Required reading for every woman.
- Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins-- Okay. I'm not religious in any way, but I liked the idea behind this book and the story that unfolded. Great storytelling for entertainment purposes... I couldn't put it down... kind of like The DaVinci Code, ironically.
I'm sure I'll think of four more in the next three minutes right after I click on publish post. I'll add to them as time goes on I'm sure.
However, again, I feel very strongly that people should use their libraries, rather than go to the fancy-shmancy coffee shops with books. I like going to those places as much as the next guy, but the library is SO conveinient now with the online catalog and holds system. Anytime I want a book, I just type it in, they deliver it to my library thats 1/2 mile away, and I can check it out when I want at no charge--- well, kind of... it is my tax money, but yea! I'm using it. How many other government programs can you say that about?? (stepping off soapbox)
Can't wait to post about our visit to the 'natti! Brandon and Chris are entered in a cornhole tournament and plan to eat my weight in fried dough at this festival! Woo Hoo!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
We are SO HAPPY that IKE generally missed Haiti. The flooding is really bad, but it could have been a lot worse. We have received no updates recently because of the lack of travelers to the creche. We think that will change soon.
Tonight is the ICE CREAM SOCIAL at school and I am hosting book club tomorrow. I thought the book was okay- Adrift: 76 days lost at sea.... classic survival story. But I did like it. I also read another survival book last weekend call Jungle by Yossi Ghinsberg. I liked it better, actually.
Brandon and I are heading to Cinci this weekend for the TASTE OF SPRINGDALE with the Morris'!! (Shout out to Melissa and Chris!). We are excited! It was a lot of fun last year and should be again.
My next post I might have to list my all-time favorite books. I'm thinking about them now....
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Hello Everyone Just wanted to update everyone that Hurricane Hanna did not hit the norther part of Haiti as significantly as it did on the southern and western parts of Haiti. I spoke with Gina yesterday and while there was rain and flooding - everyone and everything at the creche is ok. The kids are all fine and so is the building, staff and grounds. Just not much outdoor playtime the past few weeks. We are most worried about the number of storms/hurricanes that are hitting Haiti. So far it has been Gustav and Hannah and there are 2 more on their way. It has been a complete disaster trying to get our tubs of donated supplies into Haiti, but I will save that story for another post. Kathi
We were so relieved to get this message from Kathi. Or biggest concern is, ironically, NOT the orphanage. We are concerned that the government offices that are still processing our file are not open and may remain closed for sometime.
Here's a link to a CNN article about the situation: http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/09/05/haiti.aid/
I'm guessing that many people don't know where the creche is located. Here is a map of Haiti- the creche is just outside Croix-de-Bouquets, not far from Port-Au-Prince.
This weekend we are busy. Brandon is cleaning out the garage. We are going to have a garage sale in the next month to make room for all of Rory's stuff! We are trying to be optimistic... Brandon put Rory's bike together yesterday and I went garage-sale'ing' today. I got a TON of stuff. It's really hard to know what to buy when I don't know what size he is, but I think I'm doing a decent job of getting a range of clothes.
Karen and Paul left on Thursday to go back home. We had a great time together; we played tons of euchre and went golfing. It was really nice to have them here and get to do some fun stuff. I went with Karen to Sam's Club and we stocked up on supplies for the orphanage from all the Vaughns. You should see this container of animal crackers we got. It's totally, ridiculously HUGE!
I'm signing off for now... Please keep your fingers crossed that Ike is nice to Haiti and doesn't hit Florida hard.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
We are busy this weekend... Brandon's parents are still here and we are doing a lot of fun things. Last night, we went to Mary and Don's and played 2 table euchre. It was great, even though I didn't do very well!
Mary and Don are the nicest people in the world. Don is great- everytime we go over to their house, he always gives us something to leave with! Last night, we got a huge amount of his tomatoes. He grow the best tomatoes in the world. And Mary is just the sweetest person I know! She has a great sense of humor and the best laugh EVER!
Karen and I put Rory's room together with all the gifts from the open house- it was so overwhelming how much stuff that he got! Heres some pictures of his room as it looks right now.
There are no updates to report.... just waiting!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
In other news... School started off great. I have a really great class. They are just awesome. There are 28 of them but they are literally all good kids.
The 5K Old Town Walk/Run went off without a hitch! It was fantastic- we had almost 200 participants and made a lot of money for our Bradford Woods trip in November. Organizing an event like that is overwhelming, but fun to pull off. Finally! A fundraiser that I actually enjoy!
We had our fantasy football draft on the 22nd. I am really excited about my team. There are some real gambles that we had to take, but I am excited for it to get underway. A lot of people don't really get it and think it is extremely weird or "unladylike" to have this as a hobby. But, it is so strategic and competitive! There are 12 teams in my league and its all husbands and wives (for the most part) and all the girls love it (some of us are more into it than the guys!). It really is a blast and I've learned so much about the sport that Brandon loves. It's really fun to have that in common!
Also, my adoption open house was last Saturday. I can't even believe the amount of presents we got. INSANE! Anyway, Karen and I put away all the clothes and toys and got the room looking pretty good. I will take a picture (with our NEW DIGITAL CAMERA!) and post it tomorrow. It was just the coolest thing to have all those people there for Rory and open presents that he is really going to touch and wear! The day was just perfect and I couldn't have asked for anything else. If anything, the open house made me feel like I'm really ready. Totally priceless!
Hurricane Gustav is making us somewhat nervous, but probably not for the reasons you think. We know the creche is supplied with water and food and that they are safe, but I really worry about the infrastructure of the COUNTRY (ie the government). I mean, if the consolate gets wiped out, then where are we??? I mean, really???? Also, we worry about our family that lives in Florida on the Gulf Coast. A while back, we realized how differently you look at hurricanes when the people you love live in hurricane zones. Anyway, we think that all is well, at least that's the word we are getting, and we just have to grin and bear it:)
Sad news... My grandmother (my dad's mom) died yesterday. I would have mentioned it earlier in the post, but I wasn't sure until just this moment if I even wanted to put it in. She was a really great woman. She was 95 and had been ill for some time. It is a very sad thing, but she had a great, long life.
I'm at school right now, getting ready to head to the library. I don't understand why ANYONE buys books. With the library websites that let you search and request any book you could imagine, it's just ignorant to BUY books and but more waste into the world. Plus you save money! Lots of money! (at least I do). Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox and leaving school.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Brandon's parents are coming next week, which we are really excited about. They live in Trinity, Florida outside of Tampa. It is difficult to live so far away from family, and we both have missed them. I'm so excited for them to come because I know there will be lots of golf and euchre! Woo hoo!They are staying until after Labor Day, so we will have lots of time to spend together.
Also, the Old Town 5K Walk/Run is the 23rd (same day as my shower) and that is a bear to organize. We are desperately trying to pull together sponsors and participants for the event. All the proceeds go to our annual 5th grade field trip to Bradford Woods and to the Isom Scholarship.
Add in to all that Fantasy Football, Indians Games, Brandon's new business, Book Club, etc... wow- it's going to be a busy, busy month.
In more exciting (yet, less momentous) news, Brandon went and bought Rory's mattress today. So, you know what happened next, right! We dragged it upstairs and we made his bed. The room looks awesome. At least, to me anyway! I'm so excited! It's the little things that make it more real the closer we get. I went out to buy some stuff for school today and found a toy, 5 books, 2 shirts, and a pair of camoflauge pants for him, too. But what really did it was when I spoke with my principal today and we are started to put things in order for my adoption leave.
I've put a new picture on the blog.... Rory with all of his buds at the creche:) It's our latest picture and he seems so much older!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
What does this mean, you ask???
Adopting from Haiti includes a million or so steps and this is the last major hurdle. We expect to be in MOI for 1-3 months and then our visa appt will take a little longer (weeks?) - GIVEN THERE ARE NO MAJOR DELAYS! We know better than to get our hopes up!!! If you are interested in seeing a more detailed timeline follow this link:
it seems to be fairly accurate as far as I can tell. Let's hope things really get moving!!!
Sunday, August 3, 2008
The first Colts preseason game is tonight which is weird. Seems like the Superbowl was just yesterday! Brandon and I are in the thick of getting ready for our fantasy football draft. I'm on Team JohnnyCakes (long story) with our friend Steve and Brandon is on a team with another friend, Seung. Steve and I won the superbowl last year. Fantasy Football is great fun, and a super way to make time fly... which is exactly what we need!
Brandon and I are going to buy a mattress for Rory this week. His room is pretty much completely ready. My sister and mom are having a 'shower' for me August 23. I think it will be so much fun... It's really neat to see it all coming together.
Friday, August 1, 2008
I received my much-dreaded, annual letter from the superintendent of Greenwood Schools. It looks like they are going to insist on having school again this year and it starts August 13th. While summer can't last forever, I hate to see it end. But, there is something about the start of a new school year. It got me thinking...
Here is my list of why I love the first day of school, still.
1. There is a buzz in the hallways 5 minutes before the bell rings that first day that is palpable. We (the teachers) all have this nervous excitement that doesn't exist on any other day.
2. The kids are bathed, smell good, tan, combed, well-dressed, and have school supplies. I can't say that for any other day of the year for a lot of them.
3. The classroom has that crayon smell. You know?
4. The kids are afraid of me. I don't want them to be, but it's entertaining to watch their faces for the entire day, because they just have no idea what is coming next.
5. I have no pre-conceived notions for any child. I purposely do not look at permanent records until the third or fourth day of school.
6. On the first day, every child knows that they have a clean slate and they can earn good grades and go far. I wish I could figure out how do get that effect every day.
7. Everyone has at least one pencil.
8. I go over my list of rules. There are 53 of them. Excessive... yes. But the kids love it. Some of the rules are serious (#1 - use sir or ma'am when speaking to an adult), some are silly (#36- Do not EVER bring black licorice to school), and some are inspirational (#53- Decide today what kind of school year that YOU want to have). I love my list.
9. I get to read Tiki Tiki Tembo and Road Trip by Ann Jonas. Two all-time, great out-loud reads.
10. Every last one of them, for 10 years running, has been on their best behavior for the entire first day. Now, if I could just bottle that.....
Monday, July 28, 2008
When we married in 2001, we wanted to start our family. However, it soon became clear that we would not be able to conceive so easily. We sought the assistance of a local fertility specialist, but to no avail. After years of testing, shots, drugs, and roller coaster after roller coaster of unsuccessful invasive procedures, we decided to concentrate on something else for a while.
In 2004, I decided I needed a new project. Something to dive into and lose myself in. So I approached Brandon with the idea of getting my master's degree. Adoption was on both our minds at this time, but we felt as though we had just went through a war. To bring a child into our home at this time would not have been right. We needed to nurse our wounds and 'get right'. Only I would think that getting a second degree would be theraputic!
For 18 months between 2004 and 2006, I attend classes at Indiana Wesleyan from 8-5 nearly every Saturday (in addition to my full-time teaching job). It was exhausting, but fulfilling- unlike my bacherlor's degree. I enjoyed my college years, and learned a lot... but gaining my master's degree has made me a specialist, an advocate, and a better thinker. There were times when it was too much and I begged Brandon to let me give up, but I continued and finished in May, 2006.
When I had finished my masters, Brandon and I began talking about what we really wanted to do. We spent the better part of the summer pondering some really serious questions: Did we really want to be parents? Should we just leave it to chance or should we go further with medical treatments? Where would we get the money to do this? Is adoption an option that we are willing to consider??
When it became clear that we couldn't fathom a life without a child, we knew that adoption was the way to go. There are so many children who need parents to take care of them, and, to us, it seemed wasteful to continue to squander money away on expensive fertility procedures when we could spend the same money on adoption and be guaranteed a child in the end. So the search for agencies began....
We thought we would find an agency quickly, but for reasons that are to detailed to go into here, finding an agency was not so easy. We knew international was the way to go... for us, domestic adoption was a scary prospect for many reasons. But narrowing the search proved difficult and deciding on a country was even harder. At first, we thought Russia or China. But they were so expensive and required long visits. Then we considered Guatamala and Colombia. Somewhere along here we heard about Haiti, in detail, for the first time.
We met with a local agency here in Indianapolis that works with an organization that facilitates adoptions in Haiti. The flyer was simple and we asked several questions about Haiti. After some research at home, I called Brandon over to the computer and showed him a statistic I found: The average adult life expectancy in Haiti is 49 years old. I think that was what sealed the deal for us. After some work, we found Heritage Adoption Services in Portland, Oregon that works with Chances 4 Children, a charitable organization that runs Creche de l'enfant Jesus (Orphange) in TiMache, near Port-au-Prince in Haiti. After talking to our social worker, Vivian, we knew that we were in the right hands and started the paperwork. By this time it is December 2006.
We spent the next three months getting our homestudy done and our paperwork for Haiti. I knew the paperwork would be thorough but I had NO IDEA. Some of the items required- copies of tax forms for three years, medical tests, psychological tests, FBI background checks, State Background checks, HOMELAND SECURITY checks (yes), letters of reference, employment verification, letters from banks, vet records, passports, etc... and this goes on to include about thirty additional items. All of these were complete around March of 2007 and this was when we began our homework. Workbooks, classes on Saturdays or worknights, and CD-ROMs... and proof that we had done all this. However, even though it was thorough and repetitive (we were doing all of this for 2 agencies), I'm sure it will be VERY worth it when Rory arrives. There are so many things that our instructors and resources have opened our eyes to. We did this while we waited for our referral.
On Monday, June 4, 2007, Vivian emailed us our referral. Erleyorson LaFrance was born May 14, 2004 in a little town on the end of the southern peninsula in Haiti. He was healthy and had only been at the orphanage one month. We were thrilled ... we had a picture of our child! However, we also had been told to expect a longer waiting period (12-18 months from the time of our referral). We were so disappointed, but this is what we signed up for. Uncertainty was part of it and something that we had to accept as a part of this crazy adoption ride.
We prepared for things to get underway in Haiti. We got word in August that our file was in Haiti and ready to go into IBESR. It is a black hole. It's like the social services dept. of Haiti.. somewhat. But, some people's files are in for over a year... some three months. It just was completely unpredictable. So when we heard that our file entered IBESR on Sept. 28, 2007, we were excited that we were now 'in' but waiting ... for who knew how long....
As we hoped for a speedy exit from IBESR, things took a turn for the worse here at home. My dad became ill and was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer on Nov. 7th. Things were bad. Real bad. Dad was really sick within days and once he was more stable, he began chemotherapy. The holidays were pretty crappy (on top of it all... Brandon was laid off just before Christmas), but we made the best of them. My dad really wanted to meet Rory. I know that was his one, dying wish. When we told Vivian of this news, she was so supportive and got us hooked up on the January trip to the creche to meet Rory.
Being in Haiti is shocking. It is beautiful, but so sad and unbelievable. We immediately felt at ease with our travel companions and with the orphanage staff. Rory was happy and healthy, we warmed to us during the week and every morning there was like Christmas. I remember waking up - it was just around seven- and I bolted out of bed and started prodding Brandon "get up so we can go get him and bring him in here and play!". We had so much fun at the orphanage, it is an amazing place and I can't wait to go back.
We left Rory behind, but brought back video and photos of our little guy. The next morning, we went immediately to my mom and dad's to watch the video. Dad did get to meet Rory that day... maybe not in the most ideal way. But he got to see the three of us together and us holding Rory, and I think that made him feel good.
In February, we found out the chemo wasn't working and that Dad would have to have hospice care. He died on March 29, 2008. In retrospect, we think it was meant to be that Dad didn't get to meet Rory. Bringing him home into this situation would have proven to be bittersweet. I wouldn't have been able to help take care of my Dad as I did, and Rory would have seen us all so sad after the raw experience that the month of March was. Plus, NOW... we have something to look forward to, a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is so interesting how the 12-18 months that we were dreading now seems to be what saved us.
We left IBESR in the middle of all of this on February 20, 2008. We went into Parquet (the Haitian courts) about a month later. We are out of Parquet right now, but going though Second Legalization. This process was supposed to only take a couple weeks, but it is taking a few months for most. But Vivian says we are nearing the end, so hopefully we will know that we are in MOI soon. MOI is the ministry of the interior, where we received final verification and Rory's passport. Our file is released to USCIS (US CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION) and they set up Rory's visa appt and we are on our way!
So here we are. Rory's room is ready, clothes are folded, our suitcases are slowly filling with more supplies for the orphanage for our return trip. I've started his lifebook, but have no news to fill it with. We just wait every single day, waiting for an email that we are on to the next step. Some days, I'm a pessimist, some days, I'm an optimist. Some days, it feels like it's never going to happen, other days, I'm getting on Brandon saying "He's coming, we have so much to do! Let's do this, that, and the other!" in a weird nesting frenzy. It really is a roller coaster. But when we look at his picture, we know that he is waiting for us, and I know that I can withstand the roller coaster another day.
Good news from C4C... another family is traveling next week to get their kids from the creche. I couldn't be more excited for them and it is evidence that things are really moving in the right direction. We will be so relieved to hear that we are in the final step of the process. However, the 'final' step can take anywhere from 1-3 months. Next month is really busy for us so, hopefully August will go quickly.
Anyway, on a lighter note, I am going to the Jimmy Buffet concert with my aunt tomorrow! I'm excited and anxious to see what all the hubub is about. My main goal is to come away from the experience unscathed!