10/31/2006Going to bed
Ok, I'm not doing well. I have a really sore throat, swollen glands, my ears
I slept though Trick or Treating for the most part. The kids had a blast - I
We are mostly packed for tomorrow. We also ordered a very very fancy cake
Wish us luck!!!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN – we made it through the night! I eventually got more sleep and everyone except me got up around 4:30am. I slept for a few more hours which I desperately needed. In fact I’m thinking of claiming a bed all my own for tonight so I can get some real deep restorative sleep. Right now I feel TERRIFIC thanks to Comtrex with a side cocktail of Advil. Haha. I sure hope I don’t run out of cold meds as they are very expensive here. But it would be worth it for this relief. I thought I’d die from the pain in my neck when I woke up this morning (swollen glands). That stuff is magic!
My plan is to lay low today and just focus on getting rested and relaxed, settled in and healed. We had a great breakfast at the hotel breakfast buffet. I actually find that I do not want anything to do with American food at all so I mostly had Vnese fried rice which was amazing, some sort of tropical juice. Yummm. We found out, too late, they have a whole Pho bar. This after Teegan had two huge bowls of some other soup so he’s excited about breakfast tomorrow so he can finally have a whole bunch of Pho!
In other fun news:
This morning I showered (ahhhh) and flooded the bathroom (hahaha) and used up all the hot water in like 5 minutes. I can do faster showers if I know I have to – guess I’ll just shave my legs tomorrow. J
We almost got hit by a car walking to breakfast. I know how to walk the streets of Ha Noi but my guard was down and I haven’t fully made the transition yet, I guess. I thought this Expat hotel would be different. It isn’t. At least he didn’t honk at us. I think my deer in the headlights look was enough to freak him out.
Teegan and I spent a half hour trying to get a mechanical pencil to work and failed. This is not a good sign of things to come! Haha
I was able to call my mom on Skype last night. That was pretty cool.
There is a large typhoon hitting central
We can’t use anything electrical. We didn’t bring the right transformers or something. I still don’t really get it. The hotel loans some but they are out. I have no idea how I will do my hair tomorrow.
We leave tomorrow at 8am (8pm Oct 31 EST) for Phu Tho where we will travel by car on dirt roads for 2+ hours and then spend a few hours at the orphanage before heading to the Giving & Receiving ceremony where we will officially become
Tonight the kids are going trick-or-treating. No kidding. We happen to have a bag of candy we brought for this purpose, also very odd don’t you think? So we will TOT at 6pm although the kids are totally freaked out about not having costumes. At least they won’t miss out on Halloween after all AND I didn’t have to make/buy costumes. I win!
I forgot to mention yesterday that we have two pretty willow trees in our backyard. We LOVE willow trees so this is a bonus for us. Today it isn’t as hazy so we have had a good view of the lake we are on and the rice paddy workers around it. This morning we watched people kayak across the lake. Oh and I will say that at 6am there were mosquitoes EVERYWHERE. By 9 or so, I think it is too hot and they go away until evening but it is just something to note for those of you traveling up this way in the future. We had only brought a bit of bug spray but we plan to just stay in later or spray up before leaving if we leave earlier in the day.
Here’s a poll for you all:
If the hotel claims it’s water is treated would you:
a) still boil it before use and rely heavily on bottled water?
b) Use it as-is for washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc but rely on bottled water for consumption?
c) Use hotel water as-is for everything?
It is a pain to try to be so careful about the water when I’m not sure it is necessary. We read today about some higher compliances that were created for hotel water, anyway, because of APEC. I know our hotel is an APEC hotel so they were affected. But their water was treated before. I’m just not sure what to do. Err on the side of caution? Or moderately? Or not at all?
Well, I may update again tonight if I have anything to post but the real updates will begin tomorrow after we get back from the G&R with
note: if this posts twice, I apologize. I sent this an hour ago via Gmail and it never showed up but Gmail is frequently very slow. So I'm doing it manually - it may double post eventually.
We are here! We got in about 14 hours ago. I should be sleeping but I screwed up and fell asleep this afternoon and, oops, there was no one left to keep an eye on the children (Tony was out for a bit) and so they went to sleep too (ordinarily who am I to complain about SLEEP???). When we were discovered, great ridiculous means were attempted to wake us up with almost no success. We were all sleeping in separate rooms and as soon Tony left the room to wake another, the first just fell back asleep. I woke long enough to scarf down late lunch/early dinner and then later to go on a forced walking tour of the hotel grounds (that was fun - wish I had video to show how pathetic we all were). It didn't work either. We finally made it back to our room and I managed to convince The Sleep Guard (aka Tony) that I had not slept in 48 hours (mostly true) and would be able to sleep through until tomorrow. Oops. here I am, 10:30 pm, wide awake. oh well, at least (for now), I'm the only one. I also still have the sore throat raging from before we left which is greatly compounded by dehydration, airplane dry air and exhaustion. So maybe I can get back to some restorative sleep in a bit.
The Plane/s: We had great experienced with all our flights except the one from Detroit to LAX which was horrible. The taxoff was horrible, the flight was horrible, the plane was horrible, they did not feed us AT ALL (5+ hour flight), it was miserable. So by the time we got on our EVA flight, we thought we had died and gone to heaven!!! It was so nice, comfy, a great smooth ride. The kids LOVED it and so did I (A little Dramamine helped). That is where I got my 3 hours of sleep I managed to get on the way to Vietnam. The flight from Tai Pei to Vietnam was just as nice. They even fed us breakfast (on our 2 hour flight) and Teegan is now a congee fan. Woohoo! Everyone did great on the airplane, we got lots of compliments. Except both Tony and Noah had HUGE problems with their ears on landing. Noah just screamed - nothing helped until the very end of our EVA descent when we found a method (counterpressure combined with drinking from a straw, fyi) that he felt helped a lot. But on our last flight he was asleep during the descent and already SUPER crabby. I was so afraid he would be absolutely miserable but mirculously he stayed asleep through the landing! Whew! Anyway I would have updated again but we had almost NO layover time in LAX (just enough to switch terminals) and even less in Tai Pei. We have had no issues with security or luggage! Hurray!
On Hanoi: Seeing Vietnam from the air was so emotional for me. I mean really really emotional. It took everything in me to not sob hysterically, which is not to say I didn't cry. I just kep tthinking "My daughter is HERE. She could be right THERE. She is probably awake, eating, playing, anything right HERE!!! Her birth mother is right HERE. Her life is right HERE." The reality is so overwhelming, I can't even explain it. Hanoi is beautiful. From the sky and the ground. There is a dichotomy I had not expected here. Like acres and acres of rice paddies with a cell phone tower stuck right in the middle. Driving down the highway, there are these huge billboads, all in English, advertising all kinds of things Americans like making it seem like you have barely left home. Except for the water buffalo leashed to the base of the billbard and the rice paddies filled with hard working familes literally right underneath the billboards. The kids were so excited and amazed and everything was wonderful to them. We all particularily love the architecture in Hanoi. I can't wait to get pictures of it all!
On the weather: It is hot. And like walking though water in the air. Enough said.
On our hotel: Wow, where to start. This place is like living like royalty. In fact it used to be some presidential palace. It is amazing. I am going to LOVE staying here although the thought has already crossed my mind several times that we are so not doing the "When in Rome" thing, which makes me feel pretty terrible on some level. But then I walk inside the doors again and - haha - I feel better! :-) We have a full huge apartment. Like gigantic huge. Each bedroom is like a hotel room in itself and then there is a huge livingroom dining area, this office area, a full kitchen, etc. One of our favorite things is the beautiful built-in wardrobes - the kind that open and light up like we have always wanted for our own house. Each room has a bunch of them. We even have a walk-in pantry. Seriously most people we know in the US don't live this large. Also there is a huge pool on the grounds, indoor playroom for Noah and game rooms for the boys and outdoor playground, sports stuff, etc. Supposedly there is even an organic garden on the grounds although I'm not sure where or why. Dalton already spotted his first fisherman, incentally, walking past the back of the hotel grounds. haha. Our view, like all of Hanoi, is a dichotomy of sights: a huge ferriswheel, water park, rollercoasters and then tiny fishing boats and people living in leanto's made of tarp.
Other stuff: Noah just woke up screaming from a bad dream. Poor baby, he had an adoption dream!!! He said we had all flown on a plane to get Addison and then as soon as we got her, everyone but our family turned into zombie monsters! he said "so it was both a bad and good dream". Poor baby.
We are not sure what we'll do tomorrow. Besides shower, unpack, and stock up on water. I think we have an agency dinner tomorrow night where I will finally get to meet my good friend Carolyn and her new baby. However we also have a chance to go to Viet Tri tomorrow so we will have to decide whether to do that - it is a 5 hour round trip drive. That is a lot of time in the car after being in airplanes for so long. Plus it would be very hard to see Addison and leave her, even if only for 24 hours. So we are still unsure.
And now that it's after midnight, I should probably try my hand at sleep again. Now Tony is up, too, and we are eating all our leftovers from dinner. I think I might just live on spring rolls for lunch every day. And poor Teegan, we have not yet found him a bowl of Pho (go figure) and he is obsessed!
I'm going to go download and then upload photos to flickr now. So check out the badge on the right in a bit for some photos so far.
10/28/2006Hi from the airport!
Well, we made it through the baggage check and all luggage was at or below weight limits. Whew! Security check was a breeze, nothing got tossed including my knitting, no problems with the boys' passports, we were in and out in under 5 minutes including two baggage searches. So here we sit with over 2 hours to kill. More from LAX. Boy will you guys be sick of me!!!!
You are SO onto something.
Well I slept.At least until 5am or so. At which point I had the absolutely brilliant idea to wake up and watch The Omen. No, sadly, I am not kidding. It didn't seem odd in the moment. We rented it a few days ago and have to take it back on our way out of town and we fell asleep in the middle of watching it last night so I wanted to finish it up. Ok, so that movie is SCARY! I'm pretty much a baby when it comes to scary movies so I incorrectly assumed, after watching the Exorcist terror-free, that I had grown a backbone. No such luck. I'm horrified so I guess it had its desired effect.
10/26/2006I think I'm going to puke
Just so you know!
And I will be your sword
10/25/2006Sleepless in Detroit
So we are at 2 days and counting.
Apparently this is really happening.
We have tickets, visas, passports and hotel reservations. Wow.
Somewhere along the way the reality met up with my psyche. It happened at
I forced myself to stay in bed and battle through the insomnia. I slept on
I am feeling pretty good at how prepared we are for the trip, itself. So I'm
I'm pretty sure what I am supposed to be doing is cleaning but I don't nest
Carpe Diem, Mom!!!!
Well I'm home for the day, frantically trying to check off things on my list.
If I have time, I also need to call our airline to see if I will be allowed to bring on my knitting needles. They are on the approved list at the TSA website but I have heard otherwise so I want to double check.
Last night we had "down town" by renting the Exorcist. I've never seen it. It was totally lame. I was prepared to be horrified and totally freaked out. It wasn't the type of scary movie that really scares me, even if it was based on a true story. Tonight we watch The Omen. It is as "Halloween-ish" as I can get. I can't believe how depressing it has been this October to not decorate, not buy or make costumes, not get ready for Halloween. Last year was soooo fun this time of year. On the other hand, I will not miss freezing to death on Halloween night!! It'll be in the 80's in Hanoi that day! Anyway I plan to jump right into Christmas decorating as soon as I can stand on two feet when we get home!
FOUR MORE DAYS, PEOPLE, JUST FOUR MORE DAYS!!!!!!!!
My blog titles are getting entirely generic. My creative juices are zapped.
And one last shout-out to the Tigers who play Game 1 in the World Series tonight! Who would have thought, a year ago, that I would be getting ready to go pick my daughter up from Vietnam the same week the Tigers play in the World Series???? Wow. Two such unlikely events - I am going to take it as a good luck sign, for sure.
I'm home from the hospital after spending the day waiting out my Mom's
The hospital cafeteria is DELISH and they have the BEST baby store in the
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Please keep them coming for a
10/16/2006The Craziest Thing
I won't bore you with more details about my preparation to leave. Suffice it
My day started by being woken up by the air duct cleaning guys. That isn't
Fast forward to a completely opposite, yet still very weird, experience I
Ok - this is only $.26 or something but still, since when does the USPS give
Well, we bought tickets!!! We don't have them in-hand yet but they should be
We ended up choosing to fly out on the 28th. The earlier flights were all
Meanwhile we have our luggage sort of packed. We bought most of the gifts
Today my absentee ballot gets delivered to the local city clerk which means
Yesterday we splurged and bought a laptop. Which is good because we badly
We spent Saturday and Sunday morning cleaning and then Sunday afternoon
So two days and counting until my Mom's surgery and I will likely be MIA
10/13/2006Life In The Fast Lane!
So I can't sleep. I woke up at some insanely early hour. Not cool. I actually got up and started getting stuff done.
Then I headed out for an appointment I had with Santa Claus to put in my request for a Nintendo Wii. It is sick and wrong how excited I am about the Nintendo Wii. Remote control gaming and nunchucks? What could be more exciting?! Just one thing: Trauma Center: Second Opinion - if only McDreamy were the leading character.
Then I went to the Children's Place for some last minute clothes - hats and dress pants for my boys. Is it overkill to dress my kids up for the G&R? In matching outfits??
Then on to KB Toys for their B1G1 sale on Legos - D's birthday list is mostly Legos. Cha-ching. Lego Mecca. And bonus? I think I have bought all the new Legos between T's birthday last week and D's birthday in November which means a Lego-free Christmas!!!!! Unless, of course, those evil Lego marketeers introduce an All New Line between now and then. Ok, so it's inevitable.
Next up: Target for walkie talkies (are they still called that?) that we are bringing to Vietnam for easy communication when one of us goes and the other is stuck in the hotel room with napping children, for instance. Or in case one needs the other to call an ambulance after a night out eating beating snake heart. One of those types of scenarios anyway. I also bought a video games for the plane (for myself - is that immature?) and some more drugs for our trip. Here's a question: what ever happened to Jr. Tylenol?!?! Like the chewable kind. All they have are those gross MeltAways and my kids hate them. Motrin still makes a chewable - c'mon Tylenol, keep up!
JoAnn Fabrics was my next stop for the fabric I need to cut the border for my *now complete* 100 Good Wishes quilt top. Any minute now I'm going to go tackle cutting 110" of fabric into 12 and 18" strips. I should have bought the cutting table while I was there but I need to leave something for Santa to get me, right?
Then on over to Best Buy to pick up a Vonage USB key for our trip. Now you all can call me on my home phone line and it will ring like a local call all the way in Vietnam! How cool is that?
I hopped over to TGI Fridays for an appetizer lunch and then stopped in at my LYS (local yarn shop for all you non-knitters) where my goal was to pick up some Debbie Bliss cashmerino look-alike yarn but turned into an extremely extravagant purchase of the most beautiful hand-dyed incredibly soft wool for my first pair of socks - the plane project! Although I love fiber, I have never really loved fiber like I love this yarn. Anyone know if Vietnam Air allows knitting needles?
Then I came home, folded, sorted, purged, packed and organized my entire wardrobe and my youngest son's wardrobe. So I think our clothes are all packed except the hubby (minus those last minute things like underwear, socks and PJs). Man, what a job!
As a reward, hubby and I laid in bed for the rest of the day watching the Tiger's beat the Oakland A's. Woohoo! I don't even like baseball but it is fun to win since Detroit notoriously has the losingest baseball and football teams ever (this to balance out our very awesome hockey and basketball teams). Well we still have the losingest football team. Which is just fine because football is so.....footballish. And while we watch these sports my husband gets to listen to me go on and on about how great it would be to have a woman-run sportcasting station. Because really, sports are so so different through a woman's eyes - at least THIS woman. Like we could talk about the mean things the coaches do sometimes and how those guys chew too much gum and might choke. And also which are better - the old-style baseball pants or the new long "boot cut" baseball pants? Plus which baseball player is the hottest? And why doesn't Kenny Rogers call himself "Ken" instead? And the nickname "Pudge" is rude plus the nickname "the Big Unit" is not PG rated, I might add. So whose up for women's sportcasting?!?!
10/12/2006The Ticker Dance!
Did anyone notice my new ticker (thanks to Christina for the idea!!)?
Fourteen days until we leave for Vietnam!!!!!!
That's right, we finally got TA!!!!!!!!!!!
Addy-Mai, here we come!!!!!!!!!!
And in case you thought I was kidding about the snow (notice fall leaves still on trees!! haha):
10/11/2006PoshPouch, Packing and Vacuum Justification
Today my Pink PoshPouch came. So NOW I am ready to bring Addison home. Just in time for snow. Ever since I found out that it is not safe to have a kid wear a big heavy coat while in a car seat, I've been shopping for alternatives. Apparently those car seat covers that go inside the car seat are also unsafe. What's a Midwesterner to do? Enter: PoshPouch. It simply goes on top of the car seat, a practice considered safe by car seat safety advocates. So she will stay warm under her furry cocoon but will remain safe. And also? It is so so so cute!!!!!
In other preparing-to-travel news: I started packing today. Like actually packing. Once I started I pretty much could not stop which was frustrated because I had to. But I'm excited about the progress made. Can you all give me some feedback? Does 3 checked bags and 2 wheeled carry-ons plus 2-3 smaller carry-ons seem excessive for the 5 of us (plus the baby)? I don't want to be one of those obnoxious over-packed families with 1000 pieces of luggage but I am having a very hard time reducing the amount of luggage considering the amount of people we are traveling with. So be honest - is this just too much?
I started organizing my medicines into Ziploc bags by age-of-recipient: one bag for us adults, one bag for the kids, one bag for the baby. Then I have a bag of first-aid items plus a tiny bag of keep-close-at-hand items for one of the carry-on backpacks. Stuff we will need during the flight. Here's my problem....I am paranoid about losing these drugs in transit so I want to bring them all carry-on. I'm weighing my options: be a total pain in the butt at security by declaring some and doing the 1-quart-Ziploc for the others or just take my chances and store them all in checked luggage. I could lose everything else but it is the meds that I am most concerned about. I know there are some meds readily available in Vietnam but if one of my kids is sick, I'd prefer to rely on tried and true remedies at my fingertips.
And finally to those incredibly rude people who commented about my vacuum obsession - haha - here's the story: I have a great floor cleaner. It's new. but it's big and heavy. And I have two shed-y dogs and 6 shed-y kids. So I need something a little more convenient for everyday sweeping. I finally decided to get a stickvac, cordless, lightweight. So I was going to get the Dirt Devil Broomvac even though it has spotty reviews. But when I got to Target, they had another As Seen On TV (which means it MUST be good) floor sweeper and it was $15 cheaper and had a lot of really cool functions that the BroomVac did not. So I bought them both so I could try them both and RETURN (thankyouverymuch) the one I dislike more.....since you know neither will be Just Right. I've only tried the As Seen On TV sweeper and it is *ok*. I really love some of the features but it isn't strong enough to pick up the individual pieces of dog hair - just the big clumps. I'm not sure the BroomVac will fare any better though. So now it all makes sense, right?
10/10/2006Snow, Stalling and Nesting
So this week it is supposed to snow. It seems like ages ago that my agency
I am plugging along making some dangerous assumptions about my life. Danger
Meanwhile my Mom is preparing for her surgery in all the ways that someone
Although I should be busy packing, I'm sort of finding ways to avoid it. I'm
Thanks for the feedback on Blogger Beta. I'll stick with the old one for
10/06/2006Ready, Set, GO!
First, thank you ALL for all your supportive and uplifting comments. Last
We still don't have any firm solutions for anything. My Mom has a tentative
So now I'm in a holding pattern. My Mom is hoping to get her surgery date
I've decided that I am going to just pack everything I can (thanks to
Meanwhile I'm trying to get my blog ready for travel. I am sending this post
I am sure you all will soon get sick to death of my ramblings about packing
One last thing: Blogger or Blogger Beta? For those who have upgraded, do you regret it? I know once you got Beta, you never go back! haha. So I'm hesitant to upgrade if it is still quirky. Should I just stay where I'm at until I get back from Vietnam?
10/02/2006The Day That Time Stood Still
I've been pretty quiet and those that are very very observant might notice that my adoption travel ticker is no longer up on the site. I've been very very sad and very very much in denial and was waiting for more info. I still don't have more info. But here I am.
On Friday morning I got an email from my husband saying that travel....the travel we had hoped to make in the next 3 weeks...may be postponed to December due to the APEC conference. I know we are supposed to know that this kind of thing can happen. In fact, I *knew* about this conference months ago and specifically asked my agency about the possibility of interference twice. But I was prepared for government hiccups delaying things a few days or keeping us in-country for an extra week. I was prepared for government hiccups requiring us to pay extra high prices for hotel rooms. I was not prepared for a jump from meeting our daughter in October to meeting her in December. In fact, I can't reconcile it at all and immediately broke down. This can't happen. I can't wait any more. And although most of it is my need to be with my daughter, a big part of it is that my entire life is on hold and things are spiraling out of control around me while we wait for this adoption to be completed. Sorry to be so cryptic but I'm trying to convey the sense of urgency and my complete and utter sense of loss that this new caused.
Right around this same time, I got a phone call from my Mom who has been having some medical issues and had some tests done that morning. She was calling to share with me the news that she had been diagnosed with colon cancer.
On Friday morning my world stopped moving, time stood still.
To say I have not been coping well would be an understatement. I am worried about my Mom. I am worried about my daughter. I can't handle having my life on hold anymore.
So we are likely packing up ship and heading out to Vietnam, in whole or in part. I will probably stay back to help my Mom through her impending surgery while my husband travels to Addison, even if just to visit. We are prepared for the long haul but better that she spend the long haul with her parent than in an orphanage. Maybe I'm still in denial. And desperate.
I'll keep you posted as I get my bearings on this new reality I call my life. All positive thoughts and prayers are welcome, particularly those directed to my Mother and my Daughter.
10/01/2006Vietnam Adoption Blogs
This is a list, pulled from my Bloglines, of all the Vietnam Adoption blogs I've found. There may be some without RSS feeds: those won't be included, generally as they are hard to link from and get updates from in Bloglines. If you are not listed, please let me know!