Going to bed

Ok, I'm not doing well. I have a really sore throat, swollen glands, my ears
are still crackling and today they started hurting too (although it is
always a toss up if it is the glands radiating up). I took my new-normal
regiment of cold meds plus Advil but it didn't help a whole lot. So off to
bed I go for the night and hope that I feel a little human in the morning.
My stomach is also totally screwed up but I am opting to believe it is from
the drugs on a mostly empty stomach.

I slept though Trick or Treating for the most part. The kids had a blast - I
uploaded pictures. We missed our agency dinner too - it was a very last
minute deal and the kids were already out trick or treating and I was back
in the hotel snoozing and sick. I am disappointed.

We are mostly packed for tomorrow. We also ordered a very very fancy cake
for Dalton's birthday (price tag: $7) so that will be delivered tomorrow
night. I still have to wrap a few gifts for him but otherwise I think we are
set for a very very full day. I hope I can keep up and I don't wake up more
ill than I am now. I will probably start antibiotics tomorrow night if I am
still this sick but don't want to risk the side effects during an all-day
trip on a bumpy road. Haha.

Wish us luck!!!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/31/2006§

Halloween Update

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 Vietnam tomorrow. Addison and our family should not be affected but I am worried about another orphanage our agency works at in Quang Nam.


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 Addison’s family. Because it will be such a big trip, we have a lot of preparation to do. It is also Dalton’s birthday so I need to call around and see if I can find a bakery to bring a cake tomorrow evening and wrap a few gifts we brought for him. We should be back from Phu Tho around 5pm or so (which is 5am EST Nov 1)  and I will post when I can although I imagine things might be nuts for a bit settling in with Addison.


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 Addison in tow.

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/30/2006§
Hello from Hanoi!
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.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/30/2006§

Hi 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!!!!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/28/2006§
To All You Unorganized People.....

You are SO onto something.

Because here I sit. It is 9:30am and we can't leave until noon at the earliest. The kids are antsy and sick of waiting. I am antsy and sick of waiting. I don't even know what to do with myself.

Who amongst you wrote in your blog that you were anxious not to do too much too soon to avoid thumb-twiddling? You were RIGHT ON!!!!!!!

Interesting conversations we've had to pass the time this morning:

  • America's Funniest Home Videos featured a video of a family about to eat a fish - full fish, head and tail included - that was SURPRISE not dead yet. This story was repeated no less than four times.
  • Can a 12 year old boy go fishing by himself in Vietnam as long as he has a walkie-talkie? He says yes. I say no. And also? Who wants to spend their time in Vietnam fishing? Well I KNOW who!! Hint: it isn't me. And also if you touch the fish and the water and then pick your nose - not good. Just sayin'.
  • Don't make gagging sounds or stick your finger in your mouth in a gagging motion. It is rude. It is offensive enough in our culture but in other cultures they would be personally offended. Just don't do it or any variation on the theme while we are in Vietnam. Or ever. But especially in Vietnam.
  • How is it exactly that airplanes stay in the air? Because I'm not so sure it is possible much less for 22 hours straight. Following was a suggestion by my oldest that I should perhaps become an aeronautic engineer in order to relieve my fears. I didn't have the heart to tell him I'll just relieve my fears through pharmaceuticals. haha
  • Will we eat here for lunch today? Or out? Never mind that it is 7am, kids need to know these things. Which prompted a reminder to lecture the kids on how they shouldn't even bother asking us what we will do every single day in Vietnam because we won't know and it isn't up to us. Haha. That is the ultimate torture to my kids. Is it mean that I'm looking forward to it? I'll save this lecture for a point in time, on the plane, when I am bored and need entertainment :-)
  • No we don't need to bring sweatshirts, Mom. Seriously, Mom. It is 100 degrees in Vietnam. It isn't going to get cold enough for a sweatshirt. You are crazy, Mom.
  • Will we be able to watch a cock fight? Seriously this was a conversation we had this morning. I guess my boys' father, who was born in HCMC, has memories of going to watch cock fights and has encouraged the boys to try to do this while they are in Vietnam. Sounds like a great family day out. Fishing and cock fighting. This is sure going to be a vacation!!!!
Well I only wasted a few minutes typing this up. Not long enough. I guess that means I am going to have to drag out the vacuum and clean some more. Such a shame.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/28/2006§
The Morning Of

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.

So the movie is over and some of the kids are up and the husband is showering and I should be cleaning and doing all those little last minute things like make the bed (which I usually don't do - I'll admit - but it seems like a nice thing to come home to). My good friend Leslie suggested that I put up all my Christmas decorations today. Hahahha. She sure has great ideas! :-)  A sore throat I had raging yesterday seems mostly at bay. My mood is better than the last few days. Let's get this show on the road!

Our 4 year old, Noah, woke up this morning (at 4:55am - he inherited his Mom and oldest brother's propensity for waking VERY early in anticipation of special events) and when he found out that we had to get ready to go, he rolled up his sleeves (literally) and said "how can I help?". One great thing about all three of my boys is that they really pitch in when needed and generally have great intuition about what any given situation calls for. That said, I am so glad we are leaving reallllly early for the airport because being here any longer than noon might just make Noah implode. Patience is not his virtue. He already threw a fit *last night* when he heard we would not actually take off on the plane until after dinner time. That doesn't bode well!!

Well it is my turn for the shower. Not sure I'll get back on for my last minute au revoir blog so I better do it now. Au revoir, my friends. Thank you for all your continued support. None of you will ever fully appreciate how much it has meant to me. Carolyn, Chris, Stacey, Jenn, Holly, Shanna.....I hope I get to spend at least a little time with all of you in Hanoi! I feel oddly inspired to scream out "Vietnam in 0-6"...spring break flashbacks or something. haha. And Leslie - stop crying!!! :-)

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/28/2006§

I think I'm going to puke

Just so you know!

About a week ago I noticed that randomly I would realize how real this all is and burst into tears of happiness, anxiety, nervousness, overwhelming emotion. Usually this happens at very inopportune times like while I'm driving home from the store or while I'm AT the store. 

As the week has progressed, those realizations have come closer together and more frequently. Like the contractions of labor. And tonight, I am a wreck! I will soon go to sleep and wake up and be on my last day in this house as a mother of three little boys. My life will forever be changed. My boys' lives will forever be changed. I am not feeling particularly afraid or elated as much as just overwhelming pure raw emotion of unnamed origin.

My friend Carolyn warned me and now I am warning you. But maybe not everyone feels this way and, anyway, there is no way I could possibly convey in words what it feels like to be about to embark on this journey to my daughter, a half world away.

A little while ago I wrote this incredibly cocky and self-righteous post about how prepared I am, how ahead of the game I am. While it is true that I am ahead of my little lists I've made for myself - so much so that I have had way too much free time today - how silly I was to think that I am PREPARED! I could shop and buy and clean and pack and plan and make lists and nothing will ever make me PREPARED for the moment I meet my daughter.

I sat down to check my blog ticker. I wanted to watch it count down for a minute. It is just about to flip over from 2 days to 1 day. Eeek.

And I will be your sword
And I will be your might
And I will watch over you like a satellite
And I will be your days
And I will be your nights
And I will watch over you just like a satellite
Just like a satellite

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/26/2006§

Sleepless 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
approximately 3am, actually. I woke up thinking and was wide awake and could
not sleep at all. My psyche informed me that we could not find the saline
nose spray that I recently bought because that is where my mind was, of all
places, at 3am.

I forced myself to stay in bed and battle through the insomnia. I slept on
and off for a few hours and somewhere along the way dreamt that I was in the
cockpit of the airplane about to take off when the taxi-ing airplane had a
sudden change of plans and returned to taxi-ing instead of lift-off. My
dreams are just THAT exciting!

I am feeling pretty good at how prepared we are for the trip, itself. So I'm
moving on to bigger fish. Today I went Thanksgiving shopping but who knew
they didn't really have turkeys out yet!? Doesn't everyone shop for Turkey
Day in October? Haha. So I got what I could and will have to finish when we
get home. I also ordered all of my oldest son's birthday gifts so we can
celebrate just as soon as we get home. I have not yet tackled my hubby's
birthday on December 9 BUT I will say that I was singing - out loud -
Christmas carols today at the store. Scary stuff. And I asked hubby to bring
up our Christmas bins so I can dive right in when we get home but he would
not oblige. Scrooge. And also I decided to prepare almost all of our
adoption announcements - minus photos - now. Won't that be nice to have
behind me?

I'm pretty sure what I am supposed to be doing is cleaning but I don't nest
that way, unfortunately. So tomorrow it is sewing, haircuts for all the boys
in the house, laundry, bringing in our kayak for the winter, cleaning out
the van and the refrigerator of anything that might spoil while we are gone.
Isn't that exciting? Anyone wanna come clean my house?

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/25/2006§
Path Report


Carpe Diem, Mom!!!!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/25/2006§


Well I'm home for the day, frantically trying to check off things on my list.

No news on my Mom's path reports.

I went and made 12 meals at my favorite make-and-take place today. They are so great - they told me if I do not have time to come back in when we get home with Addison that they would make me my 12 meals and not charge me the extra fee for labor. I love them! This is such a huge relief. Meanwhile we are at least stocked up. We have 12 meals, split in half (so 24 smallish meals) and that will be a HUGE help while we recover from jetlag, I am sure. I highly suggest this to all traveling families!

Now I am busily preparing my blog with the new picture thing on the right and the temperature in Hanoi and a few other smallish things. I am pacing myself with assigned tasks to complete for the next 4 days. On my list for today:

  • Finish sewing baby carriers
  • Pack Addison’s suitcase
  • Pack carry-ons
  • Gather everything else possible for our suitcases
  • Prepare laptop (email contacts, flicker, bookmarks, etc)
  • Run a quick errand at the store up the street
  • Thank you notes
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!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/24/2006§


My blog titles are getting entirely generic. My creative juices are zapped.

I do have some updates:

Family: Mom is doing extraordinary. Still no pathology reports but she is hoping to go home today - 3 days before scheduled! That could change but so far so good. Also a shout-out to my Daddy who had a birthday yesterday! Apparently he is livin' it up on vacation somewhere in New Mexicon without a cell signal but I thought of him all day.

Travel: We got word that our G&R will be November 1. This is a remarkable date because it is the day I gave birth to my very first child 12 years ago, who will be there to meet and bring into our family the child who may be our very last child. Sniff. It makes me extra-teary to think about. Of course I'm already a little worried about how I will make our G&R day and my eldest son's birthday special, each in their own right, each year. Any opinions on that would be great. I'm such a worrier :-)

We have rooms booked at the Sedona. We are *over the moon* about the Sedona. It will be perfect for our family. I wish it was more centrally located but otherwise it will be great. We can greatly reduce our packing because we will have an in-room washer and dry and you all can look forward to me pestering you throughout the trip because we will also have broadband wireless. We will be staying in Hanoi for the entire trip which has it's upsides and downsides. I had hoped to visit HCMC where my boys' father was born but he has no family in the area anymore so it isn't a huge loss. It will save us tons of money and time to stay in Hanoi, too. So I'm happy. Also the fact that our G&R is one day later than anticipated means we will have a full day to recover from the flights and that is *perfect*. Ideal. So we are thrilled.

Shout Outs: Congrats to Mrs. Broccoli Guy for her TA announcement. No mother and child should have had to endure the wait they did for travel. I am so glad this is finally IT!!!!!!!! Also to Stacey who also received her TA! And to my good friend Carolyn who successfully completed her G&R a few days ago and is happily a Girlie-Mama now too. Is that not the cutest photo EVER?? And a BIG congrats to a few of you - you know who you are - who also have TA or unofficial TA but don't have blogs or aren't posting it yet but hope to be traveling in the next week or two as well. I'm so happy for you guys.

I have met so many great friends, online, through this long journey and the fact that so many of you are traveling RIGHT NOW is like icing on the cake for me. I really hope I will be able to meet all of your families while we are all in Vietnam together. So drop me an email, a comment, whatever so that I can hunt you down and we can hang out!!!!! You know where I'll be!!! :-)

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.

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/21/2006§

Surgery Success

I'm home from the hospital after spending the day waiting out my Mom's
surgery. It went extremely well. In fact she was in and out in just an hour.
It took longer to recover from the anesthetic than the surgery itself! So
that is great news. The surgeon seemed very pleased. So now we just wait for
pathology reports in the next few days. Until then, I'm off to keep her
company and clean her house in preparation for her return home next week. I
have yet to find an internet connection - wireless or otherwise - that works
within the hospital so my connection abilities are limited, at best. And I'm
too beat to do much online at night. But I know many of you were sending me
wishes and thoughts for my Mom and my family and I wanted to get on with a
quick update. I know we both appreciate it.

The hospital cafeteria is DELISH and they have the BEST baby store in the
area, oddly. So that's a bonus :-) And also? The surgeon is hot. And plus,
little bits and pieces of my faith in modern medicine is being restored, one
conversation at a time. More on this later, maybe. But it is definitely a
good thing!

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Please keep them coming for a
clean pathology report!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/19/2006§

The Craziest Thing

I won't bore you with more details about my preparation to leave. Suffice it
to say, I had a productive day. I should be able to ALMOST wrap things up
tomorrow so that is good. Goal (mostly) met!

My day started by being woken up by the air duct cleaning guys. That isn't
so crazy but what is crazy is that at some undetermined time they opted to
drive their van into my back yard, across my sod and down the hill that is
my yard for some undisclosed reason. And then, guess what? They couldn't get
back up again! It turns out an old rusty van and wet grass plus a steep hill
don't really go together. Who'd have thunk it? But it also turns out that
they completely tore up my back yard before realizing as much. Also - does
it seem odd to anyone but me that DUCT CLEANING GUYS would drive on
someone's lawn to begin with? And shouldn't they have ASKED first??? And
then, I'm not really sure how they ended up getting out of there. Maybe a
tow truck, I'm not sure. I just know that it took forever and the damage to
my lawn is significant so SOMEONE is paying, come spring when the ground is
not frozen. Meanwhile I am oddly extremely upset, probably out of proportion
to the necessary reality.

Fast forward to a completely opposite, yet still very weird, experience I
had this evening. I had to go drop my absentee ballot off at the post
office. It requires a $.63 stamp so I had to take it in and buy postage.
There were about 3 people in front of me in line. But no sooner did I stand
at the back of the line than some post office employee calls over to me from
behind his desk asking if I needed to only purchase postage for this one
envelope. Yes, I say, but I also need to buy stamps. Cash or charge, he
asks. Charge. Oh well, he says, come with me. He takes me into the lobby and
shows me the handy dandy automated machine (of which I am intimately
familiar but didn't want to be rude so I let him do his thing). So I buy my
stamps and he takes my envelope back into the post office to weigh it for
me. I didn't want to be rude (did I mention that?) so I didn't point out
that you can use the hand-dandy automated machine to also weigh the envelope
and pay for the postage in one fell swoop, rendering his efforts
unnecessary. A minute later he returns and verifies that, yes, it does in
fact require $.63 postage. And then he tells me to go ahead and affix a
regular stamp on the envelope and, as a thank you for using the handy-dandy
automated machine, he'll take my envelope back and throw in the rest of the
postage for free.

Ok - this is only $.26 or something but still, since when does the USPS give
away from postage as a courtesy???? Am I a bad person for having
reservations about letting go of my envelope? I admit to having fleeting
conspiracy theories dash through my head involving my ballot being stolen
and trashed. I was already a little uneasy about mailing it in (but I
couldn't find our city clerk's office! Haha). But all this good deeding was
starting to make me paranoid. Ultimately of course I let him have it
because....yes...I didn't want to be rude. But it was both the sweetest and
oddest USPS exchange I've ever had. And if the wrong party wins the
mid-terms, I bet it will be all my fault.

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/16/2006§
The One About Travel

Well, we bought tickets!!! We don't have them in-hand yet but they should be
arriving via Fed Ex tomorrow. Now if only we could get those pesky visas I
could rest easy.

We ended up choosing to fly out on the 28th. The earlier flights were all
booked and we would have had to back it up to the 24th to get a flight out
on the airlines we want (EVA). So we are cutting it close. We hope to arrive
in Vietnam on the morning of the 30th. I'm really excited about our flight
because it will have us in the air only about 22 hours and the layovers
aren't terrible. The bad part is, though, that our longest layover will be
from about 1am - 5am our time! Can I tell you how excited I am about a 4
hour layover in LA smack dab in the middle of the night with three kids?? On
the other hand, I'm hoping it means they are forced to stay awake and then
will sleep more on the long stretch, leaving them fairly rested when we get
to Vietnam in the morning. We've already considered started, soon, to keep
them up later and later at night in order to adjust their bodies but this
seems like maybe overkill and like we could end up with sick kids from not
enough sleep. So we'll see.

Meanwhile we have our luggage sort of packed. We bought most of the gifts
for people but none of the orphanage donations. I just don't know what to
buy or how many. I'm so bad at that kind of thing. I also have not yet dealt
with how we might transport these gifts or donations. Haha. One thing at a

Today my absentee ballot gets delivered to the local city clerk which means
I have officially done my job for the mid-term elections. It's my first time
voting absentee and I *love* it. I can totally research each of the issues
as they come up (because no, I was not well-read on each ballot proposal or
local proposal) without any pressure to hurry.

Yesterday we splurged and bought a laptop. Which is good because we badly
need it and I would have never agreed had I been given more time to think
about it. I hate big purchases. But we needed it. We were going to take my
husband's work laptop to Vietnam but it is such a piece of junk that the
hard drive keeps crashing, some keys are totally broken, it has boot issues,
etc. I need more reliability if the laptop will be our only means of
communicating with the outside world. So we are now proud owners of a
bottom-of-the-line Compaq. Eventually it will be the kids' laptop and when
we are rich, I will have my own. A girl can dream, right? :-)

We spent Saturday and Sunday morning cleaning and then Sunday afternoon
running errands with my 3 boys. They behaved moderately well and didn't
whine too much which seemed like a much needed miracle. I think we are
almost done doing what we need to do to get ready for the trip. I have a few
more errands to run today and then all that is left is the things I asked my
hubby to do a week ago which - haha - still aren't done! Go figure! So my
part is done.

So two days and counting until my Mom's surgery and I will likely be MIA
Good thoughts are appreciated!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/16/2006§

Life 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?!?!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/13/2006§

The 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):

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/12/2006§

PoshPouch, Packing and Vacuum Justification

PoshPouch Premium Carrier Cover - Pink

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?



posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/11/2006§

Snow, Stalling and Nesting

So this week it is supposed to snow. It seems like ages ago that my agency
was saying I'd travel before the end of summer. And although it is only
barely autumn, snow makes it feel like 100 years ago that this conversation
occurred. Here I am, waiting, hoping. And dreading the snow. My kids, of
course, are thrilled. It won't stick but SNOW! Now maybe my husband will
understand that I was not, in fact, over reacting when I discussed the need
to have someone meet us at the airport with winter coats and warm clothing
when we arrive home from Vietnam. I still haven't quite figured out the
logistics. It will be tolerable cool when we leave but possibly very very
cold when we return. 3 weeks can make a huge difference when it is Autumn in

I am plugging along making some dangerous assumptions about my life. Danger
aside, I feel like I have no choice. I have to make plans and do things. I
have one son who is turning 12 in 3 weeks, three kids who are assuming there
won't be a Halloween, one mother who is preparing for major surgery and
Thanksgiving looming ahead with an ominous question mark over its head. I am
functioning as if we are traveling in the very near future (tomorrow will be
12 days by my own personal countdown clock - haha) and making sure I am
packed and prepared so that, come my Mom's surgery date, I can focus on her.
I am assuming we won't be here for Halloween or the big 12th birthday. I am
assuming we won't be back in time for Thanksgiving but may buy for it anyway
so we can do a belated celebration of thanks. Any and all of this could be
totally off base but I have to function as if it is so, just in case it
becomes so. Of course the danger part is that if it is NOT so, I am going to
be more than a little disappointed.

Meanwhile my Mom is preparing for her surgery in all the ways that someone
who has just been diagnosed with cancer does. As part of that preparation,
she had me meet her at her bank to sign some papers. I had also borrowed
some luggage for our trip that she needed back for her hospital stay so I
brought that with me. I saw her car in the lot and took the luggage to drop
off in her car but of course it was locked so I just took it inside the
bank. I was vaguely aware that I probably looked ridiculous toting around
luggage but whatever. I set it down in the lobby and went back when called,
leaving the luggage unmanned in the lobby. It wasn't until we came out that
I realized how - um - odd it might look for a bank to have unmanned luggage
standing in an empty lobby with no one even nearby to claim it. I'm lucky
the bomb squad wasn't called! God help me at the airport when I do or say
something crazy. I just can't be trusted.

Although I should be busy packing, I'm sort of finding ways to avoid it. I'm
not sure why. But I went out to buy luggage and came home with two new
vacuums and a new set of cubes for my youngest son's closet. The cubes meant
emptying the closet, building the cubes, and basically reorganizing the
entire closet (a project for tomorrow). No, this has nothing to do with
Vietnam. We'll call it nesting. I was tempted to buy some paint and start
painting our naked walls but I got hold of myself. I have enough projects. I
still have not one but TWO baby carriers to make for our trip, most of the
100 Good Wishes quilt to finish, scrapbooking to do, two knitted sweaters
that still need buttons and a hat that I need to finish knitting and lots of
shopping. Plus the packing. Ugh. Tomorrow will be 7 days until this all
needs to be done. Any wagers on how much is left at the end of 7 days?

Thanks for the feedback on Blogger Beta. I'll stick with the old one for

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/10/2006§

Ready, Set, GO!

First, thank you ALL for all your supportive and uplifting comments. Last
week was one hard week.

We still don't have any firm solutions for anything. My Mom has a tentative
surgery date and we have a tentative idea of when we will be heading out of
the country. One fun thing is that I learned that because I was the
petitioner on the 171H that I now need to travel at least for a portion of
the trip. I was very upset to potentially be gone for part of my Mom's
surgery and/or recovery but I'm trying to put my energy into getting ready
and not really think about it. We just have to do what we have to do. It
looks like, at this point, I will be able to make my Mom's surgery so that
is good news. I think we will be heading to Vietnam shortly thereafter,

So now I'm in a holding pattern. My Mom is hoping to get her surgery date
bumped up sooner and we can't really buy tickets until we get more firm
travel news and make sure we have secured visas. So now we sit.

I've decided that I am going to just pack everything I can (thanks to
freezing Midwestern autumns, this won't be a problem, even for clothing!)
and do as much as I can now since once my Mom goes into surgery, all my time
will be spent focusing on that. I thought I should start with some lists and
I just get overwhelmed and can't think of a good way to organize them. I
bought some travel books last night and that did not help. It cracks me up
that in the same breath they say that people should pack light, they go on
to list off 25 drugs and first aid items that are necessities. Plus no one
really takes into consideration that you might be traveling with kids. Maybe
this isn't such a big deal.

Meanwhile I'm trying to get my blog ready for travel. I am sending this post
via email to see how easy that is and next will be researching soft phones
and mobile connections. I think at least one of our cell phones is
International so we might be able to use that to post to the blog too.

I am sure you all will soon get sick to death of my ramblings about packing
and organizing. It helps me to try to type it all out. Or at least it
distracts me! haha

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?
posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/06/2006§

The 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.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/02/2006§

Vietnam 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!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 10/01/2006§

Name: Stepping On Legos
Stepping On Legos Stepping On Legos Home: TX, United States
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