Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Xin Chau! Good Morning!

Happy Halloween! It is actually the day after here but I know my little boys are just getting ready to go Trick-or-Treating. I wish we were home as I know Vu would be THRILLED with any type of celebration.

We just had breakfast and in typical Vu fashion he wanted some of everything. He especially liked eggs and yogurt. He also insisted on taking a couple of the jelly packets. He is excited about food because it is all so new and there is so much but he has been well fed. He is exactly the size I thought he would be--about one size smaller than Patrick. He is built much like Patrick and Paul--slender but healthy.

He has not yet cried although when he first wakes up he looks a little lost and scared and I wonder what is going through his little head. He slept between the girls last night and had a hand on each of them. I went to check on him several times in the night and he had his feet on Kim and his head snuggled up to Lizzy. He is very attached to us all. Last night Eric and I went down to the market to pick up some bread and milk and when we returned he ran to the girls as if it had been months since he had seen them. Sometimes he will look up from playing and just run into my arms.

This little ball of energy and love so amazes me. He brings so much life everywhere he goes. I feel like we prepared for the worst in terms of how he would adapt and things have gone better than I could have ever imagined. I know he will eventually begin to grieve those he has left but at least I know he will let us comfort him through it.

I can't help but feel like we have discovered buried treasure. A little boy who has already added so much to our lives and will no doubt change the world. At the same time, I also cannot help but think about those at the orphanage who have lost such an amazing bundle of energy and laughter. The orphanage is a much quieter place today, missing the laughter of a little boy who fulfills what all our reports said about him, "he laughs much." Please keep all those people in your prayers. We know they rejoice that Vu has a family but the sense of loss is no doubt devastating. Once you meet Vu you will especially understand.

My new brother

From Kim

Today is Wedsday for me.My brother Vu is very fun to play with.He is also very intrested in alot of stuff like computers, video games, tv's, sun glasses, and baths.

His life wasn't very fun from my point of veiw is;his country is poor and he didn't have any video games when he was little. Alot of people beg you to buy stuff because they're poorand they don't have any other job. Sometimes they have garbage in the street. But the good thing about this country is that they have pretty things to buy and the people are very nice.

Vu has a very loud vocie and loves attention.We had to fly on a air plane and this was his first time riding on the air plane.On the air plane he looked out the widow an saw we where off the ground and he was really surprised.

I love my new brother and he is fun. Well see you guys latter.

We're in Hanoi

We flew to Hanoi. What a different city and beautiful in a physical way. I could go on about Hanoi but I know what you really want to hear is about Vu!

He is doing wonderfully! He LOVES being LOVED! He is affectionate and sweet and a little tease full of boy energy. He is also VERY smart! He loves everything new and exciting; especially eating and he eats with gusto at every meal to the point he will fill his mouth but have no more room in his tummy. When we went to the breakfast buffet this morning he especially wanted fruit and bacon. He knows what strawberry milk is and went right for it in the store. He can use chopsticks and a fork equally well.

He was a kick in the pants in the bathtub last night literally trying to swim in the tub. I brought some bathtub crayons and he squealed with delight using them.

Before leaving HCMC we went to the market and bought Vu an au dai. He thought he was quite the king trying it on and then insisted on carrying the bag. I will post a picture soon.

Each new toy is exciting to him. His favorites today are playdough and Legos. He knows how the use the Legos--it's obvious he has used them before. He also loved the TV remote and Eric informed him that belonged to Ba. May as well learn that now Vu :-)

Right now he is having a wrestling match with Daddy AND the girls.

Our new hotel is more like an apartment and really nice. Hotels are very inexpensive in VN. We thought Vu might think this is our house so we had the hotel explain that we will fly to our actual house in a few days.

More later, I have a little boy to go play with :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Vu is now legally and physically our son!

It's been a wild day but an amazing day! Vu is now here with us, in our hotel room, laughing and playing and talking up a storm.

There was a miscommunication this morning on pick-up time so we missed our G&R time and we worried that we would not be able to get Vu today but we worried for nothing. The officials at the G&R building fit us in and Vu legally became our son in a ceremony lasting about five minutes.

It was a very confusing day. We were not sure when we were going where, when or who to give gifts nor who exactly was who. Gift giving is an integral part of VN society and we brought small gifts for giving. The clothing people donated was well received too. They were very thankful and there were many, many babies in the orphanage.

Now on to VU! When we first got to the orphanage I heard a child crying and I thought maybe that was Vu but no, when he came in he shyly came right over to us. We were told he had already wished all the people there goodbye and told them he was going to America! Since we know he has seen many of his friends leave, we know he at least has some idea that he is going forever. He did not cry when we left tho I did and promised the workers at the orphanage that we would take good care of Vu and send pictures and letters.

The saddest part of the entire day was seeing the looks on some of the older children as they watched Vu go. Many of these children have special needs.

Vu is a DELIGHT!!! He absolutely adores the bubbles we brought. He also loves to play chase and dance and he loves Power Rangers. The center sent us a DVD and on it was a Power Ranger cartoon. He has the cutest little laugh and likes to tease. He has a husky voice and it is higher pitched. One cannot help but be full of smiles around him.

While I know he will have moments of sadness and grieving ahead, I had envisionsed bringing home a crying, scared little boy, throwing up on the way home. None of that happened. He has been VERY well prepared for this. The staff told us he looked at our pictures every day for weeks and indeed he brought home his little photo album and it has been well worn. He even calls Eric "Daddy."

Vu has already gone pee-pee and poo-poo in the potty. This part of having a new "baby" is easy! He is also eating everything we have offered him.

The van ride out to the orphanage was crazy and VERY scary. What I said before Anne about it not being scary--that is WRONG!!! It's different during the day. We saw one wreck and several more almosts. The center is about an hour outside of town. It was a much poorer part of VN.

All for now, our sweet boy is in our arms and our beginning has been amazing! Thanks be to God and thanks to all the people who prayed for this to be.

To my boys at home, Vu recognized your pictures and he gets very excited when he sees you! He's looking forward to meeting you! I can't wait!

VU!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Pictures!

I promised I'd help my mom get some pictures up, so finally as I sit here waiting for 5:45 to come around, I'll put them up.

One hour until we leave to go get Vu. ONE HOUR.

It's unbelievable.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Dad, Kim, and I. The baby is the child in current care of Kim's foster mother.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Kim, her foster mother, and Mrs. Lee.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Mom and Dad at the resturant on top of the Rex hotel.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Crossing the street. This is one of the few cross walks that has a light!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The airport in Seoul. This was right before our take off for Vietnam- and we slept the whole five hour flight!

THE BIG DAY HAS ARRIVED!

It's 4am and the big day has arrived! We didn't sleep well last night--excitement and worry about the alarm clock going off. Our G&R got moved up two hours so we are now being picked up at 5:45.

Last night we ate at an authentic pho restaurant. Pho is VN noodle soup, usually with beef in it. We all ate with chopsticks. I did eventually ask for a fork as it looked to me like Eric needed one but being the stubborn guy he is, he refused to use the fork and eventually ate all his soup! He even liked it. I am sure we were quite comical to the employees at the restaurant as it was small so they all seemed to be congregating where they could watch us.

I can't really describe my feelings right now. Excitement! Disbelief! Thankfulness to God for this day and for a chance to be a mother once again to a precious little boy. It is an honor beyond words to be able to be a mother again.

Next time I blog I will have Vu in my arms!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

So much to say about Vietnam! I do not even know where to begin.

First, the four of us attract quite a lot of attention when we go out. A tall, bald white guy; a short, blond white lady with crazy curly hair (Will, dad can never again use his mailman comments about where you get your hair! Mine looks like yours in this humidity!); a tall, beautiful white girl; a short beautiful Korean girl. It is the Korean that really throws people off. I'm sure they see enough adoptive parents with a VN child, but they know Kim is Korean so they have a really hard time figuring out what the four of us are doing in VN. (For the record, yes, Asians can easily tell ones heritage.) It will be interesting to see what happens once we get Vu.

The people are very friendly here and appreciate our attempts to speak VN. Many people speak English so it is easy to buy things and ask questions.

We get Vu tomorrow! As we were eating our breakfast this morning we were talking about the excitment but I couldn't help but think his caretakers are feeling sadness right now. We know they will miss him dearly. As I look around this beautiful country I cannot help but feel regret that Vu will leave these warm, friendly people here, living a more laid-back life than in the states. I can see that children are very treasured here and an integral part of life. Some people believe the luckiest kids are American but I believe people can be happy anywhere and the people here do seem happy. I am in alignment with Holt's beliefs that if at all possible, a child should be raised in their birth family and if that is not possible, they should be adopted within their country of birth. International adoption is the third option and the best option for Vu now. Yes, he is lucky to be able to go to the land of the free but I will never let him forget this beautiful land of his birth.

People ride motor scooters everywhere here. We see three and even four people riding and children and even tiny babies. The babies often wear a netting over their faces while many of the people wear masks to protect them from the pollution. And yes, it can be quite the experience to cross the street!

People are ingenius here, carrying loads on scooters or bicycle that would fit in a pick-up truck! I even saw a man this morning carrying a tire by wearing it around his waist like a life ring. People take very good care of their belongings, carefully washing trucks and scooters that would be found in the dump in the U.S.

We have done more shopping than I expected but things are also very inexpensive here. Yesterday when we entered the market, Eric got grabbed by two ladies. One pinched his butt! He laughed about it and said as long as they don't try to grab his dong. The currency is called "dong" and yes, this leads to all sorts of fifth-grade-boy-behavior on our parts! Ha-ha! The exchange rate is 16,000 dong to the dollar so one becomes a millionaire very quickly! Dollars are accepted as readily as dong in the market and the exchange rate is almost the same--about 15,000 dong to the dollar. Our hotel also offers the same exchange rate as we received at the airport.

James you will be proud of me. I drank a beer yesterday. We went to the rooftop restaurant of the Rex Hotel where news correspondents used to congregate during the Vietnam war. I even ordered a Veitnamese beer.

We bought the girls au dais yesterday to wear to Vu's Giving and Receiving Ceremony tomorrow. They look beautiful in traditional VN dresses.

Tomorrow is the big day! I promise, pictures soon! It takes a long time to download.

From Lizzy

And Lizzy strikes back!

If the humidity doesn't kill me here, the Jetlag might! It's currently 5:30 in the morning and I've been up since 4! [Which I guess makes sense considering I crashed last night around 7 PM]

I am having fun though. The markets are fun but CRAZY. There's such a huge difference between here and home, and it really makes you see things in a new way.

The sun is finally coming up. In 26 hours we will be on our way to pick up Vu. How wierd is that? It seems like just yesterday I discovered the adoption. [Yes, I figured it out myself. It's slightly a give away when we're making a new e-mail account and it's r8rgr8. I mean come on. We have 7 kids.]

Of course we've been shopping here more than once. I'm a teenage girl, what do you expect?

It's so loud here! Even when our door is closed totally I can hear horns honking and scooter motors running. Though the horns is probably the loudest. I tried to get an average count between one horn honk and the next, and I believe it's around 5 seconds.

Well the family is all up now so I guess this is it for now. To all the folks back home-- I miss you and I'll see you in a week.

Xin chau!

from Kim

how are you guys doing?I'm doing good.What am i missing.How Is the weather there?The weather here is humidity.I feel kinda bad for this state because there's alot of poor people. Also theres babies that don't have homes.

The markets have alot to buy. Also my mom bought these snakes that scare me. They're not real. They have jewelry. They also scare me because they have people that walk around that have stuff to buy and if you say no thank you or not today they keep asking or following you, and thats why they scare me.

I hope you guys don't miss me too much. Hope you guys have fun for the next two weeks.

From Eric

Greetings to all! This is my first attempt at blogging (Ann finally drug me into the abyss). We are in Saigon and having a great time. Yesterday was a wonderful experience as we took advantage of a long layover in Seoul to take Kim to Holt and meet her foster Mom. Though a little nervous at first, she warmed up and we had a wonderful visit.

We arrived in Saigon last night (I know Ho Chi Minh City - but everyone calls it Saigon, so I'm going with the shorter route!). After a good nights rest (we were exhausted), we got up and ventured into the market scene today. I think Ann owes me for going shopping not once, but twice today in the markets with her, Elizabeth & Kim. Though overwhelming at first, you adapt and get used to the hustle of the scenes taking place.

I am amazed in watching the economic evolution of a country before our eyes. It is interesting seeing the changes in Seoul the past 12 years as they have grown a strong economy. Tourism is definitely a huge industry for Vietnam and hopefully will continue to help heal the challenges of the past. I'm also happy that we can have some of our children experience the unique culture of Vietnam (Korea to a very small degree) and both appreciate the special traditions/customs and also to be thankful for the life they have. It also reinforces that many things we just can't live "without" are really not necessary for us to be truly happy.

The bravest moment of our first day here was crossing the street for the first time. If you haven't been to Vietnam, just realize that lane markings in the street and sidewalks appear to be just general guidelines and you need to pay attention on the sidewalk just as much as crossing the street as a scooter just might be taking a short cut. I'll leave most of the blogging to our family expert (Ann) from here on out. Eric

Saturday, October 27, 2007

To all the folks back home.

Lizzy here!

I'm going to help my mom get some pictures up tonight.

I love it here. Except for the humidity. That I could do without. :]

To all my teachers back home: Tell the class I say hi and I miss them!

I'm still in shock here. Just two weeks ago I thought it would be another two months before we came to pick up my little brother. Now it's two DAYS!

It's strange looking at the clock on my dad's computer and seeing 9:16 PM, when it's bright and hot outside here!

Seoul was such an amazing experience. Seeing Grace's foster mother was indescribable.

Well I update you guys later! Two more days and my little brother will be here with me. :]

Vietnam!

We're here! We arrived late last night after sleeping the entire five hour flight. Jet lag is actually going to be almost non-existant with the way things worked out time-wise. We went to sleep after arriving and then woke at 6 am. For those at home, we are 14 hours ahead of you. I constantly calculate the time difference and think of my children at home and what they are doing. It is going to be hard for such a long time without them. At this point, if I had it to do over, I would have brought them all with. We will see if I change that opinion over the course of the trip.

When we arrived last night I was surprised how easy it was to clear customs and get our baggage. There is a great airport here, very easy to navigate. We were met by a Holt worker and a van, which we needed for all our luggage. I tried to explain to them that all those suitcases were not clothing of Americans who feel they need to bring their entire wardrobes on vacation. Several suitcases are gifts and clothing for the children at the orphanage. We also brought an expandable tunnel and Hippity-Hop. (Just for the record, it is not yet inflated! LOL! I can SO see me bringing one that was inflated tho! Actually, if Eric had seen something like that he would have looked at me with complete disbelief and said, "NO! No, no, no! I am not going through airports with a Hippity-Hop!" Hey, I guess every man has to draw the line somewhere.)

Our ride to the hotel was exciting! It was late and dark but as I looked out the window I could tell we were truly in a foreign country! It is beautiful. We drove by a large park and there were many couples cozied up on motorbikes enjoying the evening air. Speaking of air, this is the first our girls have ever felt true humidity. It is much like a summer night in Georgia.

The traffic is not as scary as I thought. Anne--don't worry too much, it is like M. said, there seems to be some sense of right-a-way that we cannot see and lots of honking that seems to let motorbikes know they are about to be hit!

Our hotel is nice. It is overlooking a park where people are exercising and playing badmiton. We will soon venture out there ourselves. The only strange thing that
happened was the hotel front desk insisted they needed to keep our passports overnight. Not sure why but we did get them back this morning.

Breakfast this morning included American fare such as eggs and bacon and more exotic items like tropical fruits, tiny and sweet bananas,and a fruit that is white with black seeds. The coffee was very good.

We are off to do some exploring!

To my sweet boys at home--I love you and miss you so much!

Will, I was excited to hear about the football game and can't wait to watch the DVD when we get home and have you give me all your insights and thoughts on the game.

Tam Biet! Goodbye in Vietnamese!

Friday, October 26, 2007

BLOG FROM KIM

Here's a blog from Kim :-)

hi you guys from Korea. My day was great.I miss you guys really bad.tell me every thing thats exciting.

I met my foster mother it was really exiting to me because i haven't seen her for a long time.

Later! Bye guys!

OFF TO VIETNAM

Back at the airport after a MOST wonderful day!

It was very emotional to see Kim's foster mother. She remembered Kim very well even though she has fostered over 100 babies! She has been fostering for 20 years. What an amazing woman. We could see once again how very much she loves Kim. She had another baby with her who is soon to go to The States with her forever family. This little girl also had a cleft lip. I couldn't help but see the circle of life when we snapped a picture of Kim, her foster mother and the new little baby.

Another wonderful woman was Mrs. Lee. She works for Holt and arranged the meeting. She then insisted on taking us on a short tour of Seoul, to do some shopping and for ice cream. Kim hit it right when she later said that Mrs. Lee treated her like her own daughter. It was so true. A delight to spend time with her.

Korea has changed a lot in the past ten years. It is even more modern and beautiful than before. We see lots of foreigners--ten years ago we could go all day and not see another Caucasian in the crowd, now there are people from all around the globe. Koreans have to be the most beautiful people in the world. As a people watcher, I just love watching the crowds here. The women dress beatifully and the men look so distinguised.

It will soon be time to step on the plane to Vietnam. I can't believe we are finally going. It all still seems like a dream that we are finally, after all this time, going to bring Vu home. I can't wait to see our sweet Vu.

More later!

SEOUL

We're in Seoul!!! The airport here is AWESOME! I just have a couple minutes--my first time at an internet cafe!!!

Our flights went great. We spent several hours during the flight making scrapbooks for Paul's and Kim's foster families. What a ride that was!!! Pictures later--my scrapbooking friends have to see that!!!

We all got a lot of shut-eye during the flight so feel ready for the day.

As it turns out, Kim WILL get to see her foster mother. Yeah! We head there in an hour :-)

My packing at home was right down to the minute. ERIC I WILL PRINT IT HERE, YOU WERE RIGHT! We had too much stuff! I was literally filling every nook and cranny thanks to so many friends who brought clothing for the babies in the orphanage.

An-ya-ha-say-oh!!! Good bye in Korean!

James, Will, Patrick and Paul, Mommy loves you and misses you!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Today's The Day!

The day has finally come! No time to blog now but I will once we get to the airport.

We're coming Vu!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not Your Everyday Bank Visit

We just got word we will get to see Paul's foster family in Korea. I am so excited! I am going to throw together a photo album for them and have Paul write them a letter. Holt Korea is still trying to locate Kim's foster mother. They said they will keep trying right up until the day we are there. She was elderly so I hope she is okay. I know it would mean so much to Kim.

I just got back from the bank. Eric went yesterday. Eric got a lot of one dollar bills to take for tips. Eric jokingly informed the teller (a guy) that he was NOT going to a strip club :-) The guy looked at him a little strangely and said, "Well in today's economy, you'd need 5's not 1's." I'm glad my husband does not know this!

I went to the bank today. I just needed to deposit some checks and get a little cash for the trip. I told the teller I wanted really new, crisp $50 bills. (Just FYI for other APs, new bills can be ordered a week ahead of time. I did not know this and had to take whatever the machine spit out to the teller.) The teller then told me that I should really think about some long-term higher interest options with the balance in our savings account. I looked at her kind of blankly and said, "Um, well . . . er, um . . . that money is just there temporarily."

I don't know why I didn't just say we were in the midst of an international adoption and had recently sold off our children's future inheritance, returned all pop cans and emptied every piggy-bank in the house; and that actually all that money was already spent on airfares and hotels. Instead I just gave her a blank stare and walked away feeling like the lady must think I'm a drug dealer or something!

I guess after those experiences we might need to switch banks!

Okay, I REALLY need to go finish packing! Almost done!!!! ALMOST!

GO! (almost)

Tomorrow we leave!

My feelings are still all over the place today! The feelings about Vu, of course, and I am excited to show Kim Korea but sad to be leaving our little boys home. It is a good thing (financially) that we need visas to travel or I would probably be out buying plane tickets for them too! I have never left Patrick for more than two days and Paul just a few more than that.

Lots to do today--of course. One teeny tiny detail--PACK! I have lots of piles in my bedroom, now to see if they will all fit!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Get Set . . .

DAY AFTER TOMORROW WE LEAVE!!!!

My emotions run the gamut each day from panic at all that still needs done to nonchalance that what I can get done, I will, and what I can't will just . . . well, not get done!!!

I also yo-yo between being incredibly excited to finally meet our son and feeling sad for all he will have to endure in the coming weeks (months, years) as he comes to terms with leaving everything and everyone he has ever known and loved.

I made two photo albums with the help of my wonderful friend Lisa. They each have pictures of Vu from the time he was a tiny baby until now. One album is for Vu's favorite caretaker, a woman who has cared for him since he first came to the orphanage as a 4 pound preemie. The other album is for the orphanage director.

Under each photo I thank them for each milestone they have helped Vu accomplish, from learning to walk to learning to read. At the end, I thank them for loving Vu, promise to give him a loving life and promise to someday bring him back to his beautiful homeland to visit. One of Lizzy's friends is translating all the English into Vietnamese.

Today I have already been to the orthodontist, have a visit to the grief counselor, Lizzy's last soccer game and stop off at the bank and post office. In between all that I'm going to pack, clean, pack and clean. Oh, and type medical releases for the kids at home and a power of attorney. Oh and . . . the list goes on.

Monday, October 22, 2007

On Your Mark . . .

Three Days People!

So much to do so little time. We got the new bunkbed up. It is crowded in there with two bunkbeds but it definitely looks like someone is moving in :-)

So much to do so little time. I will post pictures later from Homecoming and Paul's birthday party. On the agenda today: keep pecking away at that list. Eventually I need to pack myself!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Insurance and Sex

FOUR DAYS! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!!!!

Things are slowly but surely falling into place despite an incredibly full weekend with family "stuff."

One of the things I did yesterday was get travel insurance. My greatest fear is getting sick or hurt while traveling--especially since I will be traveling without Eric the second half of the trip. I want airlifted out if something happens!

Speaking of getting sick, I was watching Dr. Oz on Oprah. (Oops!! Did I really just say that out loud??? I once heard SAHM should NEVER say they stay home watching Oprah all day.)

Let's try that again. I was home watching a talk show. . . Wait a minute! That sounds even worse! Like I watch Jerry Springer or something.

Hmmm...let's just skip to my conversation with Eric.

"Honey, I was listening to this world renown cardiologist today on a channel for the intellectually gifted."

"Uh-huh."--Eric in a distracted voice.

"This doctor said that men will live longer if they have sex at least four times a week."

"Really?"--Eric in a suddenly very undistracted voice with a really happy look on his face.

"Yeah, isn't that amazing??? And I got to thinking about that study and the fact you are the only breadwinner and how this adoption has wiped out our savings account (and then some). So, when I got the travel insurance today I went ahead and upped your life insurance."

Starting out the day with some laughs! Four days baby! Four days!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bittersweet

Yesterday was bittersweet. The surprise party was full of friends and and laughter and reminiscing, but there was someone missing and his absence was heavy. Past years, when Joe wasn't actually present at Will's birthday, he always called--but the phone was silent this year.

It gives me a sense of what all our holidays and celebrations will be without Joe--happy excitement . . . with a dull ache and emptiness.

It is the same with our adoption. We are so excited to finally bring Vu home but we are also very, very sad that Joe is not here to meet his new brother. Joe loved "the little kids" and almost every family picture has Joe holding one of them in his arms. When they were together he would wrestle them, play video games, tease them and call them funny nicknames.

Joe would have loved Vu. Vu would have loved Joe.

But as I said, the party was not just sad, it was also happy and fun. I'm sure from the outside, nobody even knew how sad we were on the inside. Here are some pictures:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Surprise!!!! Will said he was wondering why the house was so quiet when he came in. Our house is NEVER quiet!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Eric giving a quiz on Will's life and throwing candy for prizes. We were amazed how well his friends know him but many have been friends since kindergarten.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A little speech before blowing out all 18 candles.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY WILL!!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dear Children

Dear Children,

In case you haven't heard, Mommy still has 42,000 things to do before heading to Vietnam in EIGHT days!

If you would be so kind as to:

Stop putting clothes down the laundry shute--particularly clothes that are clean or WORSE, clothing that is STILL folded!

Stop going to the bathroom--particularly Patrick who put an ENTIRE roll of toilet paper into the toilet while I was at the store buying yet more Immodium (never know if we will have enough in Vietnam) and William was babysitting. And Will, if you clean it up next time instead of just texting a picture of it to all your friends, that would be great!

Stop eating from the time you get up until the time you go to bed and every single second in between.

Stop making messes. We have a big surprise party here tomorrow and I'd like to dig out the house for it.

Dear Children, in case you haven't noticed, Mommy is just a wee bit tired from staying up late the last several nights including a 1 am bedtime this morning to finally fulfill my promise to Will of watching "300" which was the bloodiest movie I have ever seen in my life but was still good--at least the part I watched through covered eyes. And Will, I am sorry to say I still refuse to name Vu "Leonitis."

Mommy is also extra tired because everyone got up at 6 am even though there was no school today. Can you please explain to me why you cannot wake up at 6 am ON school days?

Darling children, if you could be so kind to do all of the above, Mommy would be most grateful.

As you can tell by this letter, Mommy loves you all very much.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Airline Tickets and Visas

Did everyone get the memo? WE'RE GOING TO VIETNAM! :-) It still seems unreal.


Yesterday I packed Vu's bag--that was FUN!

I also had Vu's visa paperwork (I-171) cabled from our state USCIS office to the National Visa Center which will cable it to the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam. I thought this would be complicated but it was easy.

Our own visa paperwork and passports were safely delivered to the Vietnam Embassy in D.C. at 8:54 am -- Fed EX is a wonderful thing! Now if they will just be processed and come back safe and sound. You will hear a big sigh of relief when that happens as I included a Fed Ex pre-paid return envelope and later discovered they now only accept pre-paid USPS envelopes. Hoping it all works out!

Tickets are officially purchased. I HIGHLY recommend Azumano Travel. They are awesome. We used them with our last adoption and love them. 1-800-888-7025. Ask for Erle. I get paid $50 for every referral. Just say you heard about them from that crazy lady with all the kids. HA! Not really. That was a joke. Since I quit doing daycare my only source of income is my handsome, bald, wonderful husband. We have this great arrangement. He fills the ATM, I empty it. How cool is that?

In reality, I just really appreciate awesome service from a company that supports adoption and wanted to put in a plug for them. They find amazing rates too. I wouldn't normally say how much we spent but since this is predominantly an adoption blog and people preparing to sell their right arm want to know--we got four round-trip tickets plus Vu's return ticket for 5k--not bad considering it was on less than two weeks notice. It would have only been 4K had I not insisted we needed to have a day in Seoul, Korea, to see Kim's and Paul's foster families and to give Kim a whirlwind tour of Korea. (Let's see, a 12-hour lay-over for a thousand bucks! What a deal! I love you handsome, bald, wonderful husband!)

If you fly Korean Air you can get FF miles as a family--they will combine all miles. We already have 2 free domestic tickets coming which just goes to show what flying four people 18,000 miles can do for you!

On the agenda for today is to rearrange the boys room and put up the new bunkbed. I also have a million phone calls and errands to run.

Nine days people! Nine days!

Monday, October 15, 2007

4am excitement

Been up since 4. Too excited, my "to-do" list keeps growing, AND I'm coming down with a cold. No time for that!!!! Go away cold!

What a crazy week lies ahead. All the usual stuff plus Homecoming, school conferences, Paul's 9th birthday at Chuck E. Cheese (his bday was actually last summer but due to everything that happened, we are just getting around to celebrating it with friends now), and a SURPRISE 18th birthday party at our house for William which had to be moved up a week since we will be in Vietnam. VIETNAM BABY!

Just in case you didn't get the memo: WE'RE GOING TO VIETNAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

11 days 50 minutes

We have had some really surprising phone calls this adoption, and the TA call was right there with our call telling us Vu would be our son. It was awesome because Eric was off that day and he answered the phone. The kids also had a school holiday so most of the family was here to celebrate.

I was just getting ready to step into the shower when the phone rang and Eric answered. At first I thought it must be a friend of mine and then I heard Eric's voice get VERY excited and he said, "Wow! That's GREAT news! Unexpected, but great news! (pause) Wow! That means we will be leaving in two weeks!"

I knew at that point it was Holt and then we had a bunch of jumping up and down and clapping and excitement in our household! I picked up the other line and Eric and I talked to M. at Holt together.

After I got off the phone my mind flooded with all the things we would need to do before we leave. I looked at Eric with a crazy smile on my face and said, "The next two weeks are going to be a really great nightmare!"

I am a listmaker, not because I am organized, but because I am not. Without my lists I have no brain.

Here is a short list of my five-page list:

Get cash--esp $1 for tips and $100 bills for a better exchange rate in Vietnam.

Call Mastercard and tell them we will be out of country using our card (important to do or credit card companies suddenly see international charges and think the card is stolen and then block the card. Don't want that. Too much to buy.)

Find passport holder--Kim uses it as a dog leash for her stuffed dogs.

Get Cipro prescription from doctor--in case we get a bad case of Ho Chi Minh's Revenge while traveling. Finish putting together medical supply kit.

Work on list of questions to ask orphanage staff (about Vu's past, likes and dislikes, special stories they remember about him. Note to self: make sure we have his caregivers give him permission to come to our family--video tape it. I cry just thinking about it! This will be important for him to bond with us.)

Make photo album of Vu growing up for Vu's favorite caregiver.

Store away half the toys in the playroom. I don't want Vu to be too overwhelmed. I am esp. putting up all the battery operated lights and sounds toys. We'll start with the classics.

Type up medical release for each of the kids staying home--please pray they don't get sick! And pray Will doesn't get hurt in football. I am SO sad we will miss his last two football games as a senior. All locals, if you're bored on Friday night, please come cheer for Will!

Arrange all the care arrangements for said children--and dog. I feel sad just thinking of leaving my sweet boys for almost three weeks! I don't know how I will do it! I think they will be okay--but I won't!

Get more allergy medication for Patrick--and teach caregivers how to use inhalers. This makes me nervous. It will make the caregivers even more nervous.

Bathe the dog--he stinks! He always stinks but we love him anyway.

Massively clean the house. My parents are coming to watch the kids for part of the time and I want things to be as easy as possible.

Get new brakes on Will's car so he doesn't have an excuse for using Eric's car the entire time we are gone.

Put Vu's bunkbed together (I was planning to re-varnish it but vetoed that-no time.)

Make James and Sara a cake in the shape of a house--they just bought their first house!!! Congrats James and Sara!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finish shopping--I keep thinking I'm almost done and then start a new list. The list includes underwear for Vu. I am wondering if he will like underwear as much as Patrick :-) VN children do not wear underwear so it is a new experience! (Patrick is VN at heart.)

Cancel dentist appts--our dentist will love this as we had five appts all in one day! Sorry Dr. A!!!

Move hair appt to this week--ask Michelle to work a miracle on the hair color and make me look younger so Vu won't think I look more like a grandma than a mom. (Do I have time for a facelift? Newsflash! Stress DOES cause wrinkles!)

Oh, and one teeny tiny last thing. LEARN TO SPEAK VIETNAMESE! It is SO hard! Yesterday I did learn to say, "I know you're scared but it's going to be okay," and "I know you're sad but it's going to be okay." My heart aches for the trauma Vu is about to experience losing everyone and everything he has ever known. One of the ironic things about losing Joe is the preparation I now have for understanding the grief Vu will experience.

I also learned how to say, "I love you." I love you Vu! It seems too good to be true that we are finally coming for you. In some ways, I find myself in disbelief that something this good can really happen after all the sad things that have happened in the past year. I'm beginning to believe it. Thank you God!

In exactly 11 days and 50 minutes we will be stepping on the plane to bring our sweet son home. Maya Tung Vu! Mom loves Vu!

Friday, October 12, 2007

TA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We got the call this morning!!!!!!!!!!!!! We're going to Vietnam!!!!!!!!!!

We were hoping to have Vu in our arms by Thanksgiving but he is going to be in our arms by Halloween!!!

We spent the day getting airline tickets, mailing for our visas (that was SO scary to send all our passports away!!!) and mailing a packet of paperwork to Holt. Oh, and of course, calling people! Mom and Dad, are you ready to babysit??? Kathy, are you??? Back-ups please be on standby :-)

We leave for Vietnam the 25th and our G & R is the 30th. We have a 12-hour layover in Seoul, Korea for a whirlwind heritage tour for Kim (adopted from Korea 10 years ago) and we hope to see her foster mother too.

I've got SO much to do! And only 12 days to do it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Brick Walls Of Adoption

The following You Tube speech is inspirational, especially the brick wall part.

I spent the last week putting together more paperwork for Vu's immigrant visa, shopping for gifts to take to Vietnam and finding an outfit to wear to the Giving and Receiving Ceremony. My sister, Nicole, says that completing an adoption is like having a part-time job! She's right! An adoption takes not only time, work and money, it takes tenacity and patience. You have to really, REALLY want to adopt a child. There are TONS of brick walls--both predictable obstacles and walls that pop up out of nowhere. And like the child's "Bear Hunting" song, there's no way around them, no way under them, no way through them, we have to go over them. It's tough.

And yet . . . and yet . . . . It makes me think about how all this mountain climbing and literally shedding sweat and tears prepares us infinitely more for our children than if we had it easy. By the time our children arrive home, we have dreamed of them for so long and pined for them so much, we are so amazingly prepared. More importantly, we are so much more thankful for their presence in our lives. We truly realize what an amazing gift and miracle they are.

Whether you are adopting or not, everyone has brick walls. Climb them.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

APPROVAL!!!

For real! Holt just called and we received our DOJ/final MOJ approval!!! This means we will be heading to Vietnam in about seven weeks to get our son!!! We will have specific travel dates in about one month. This is a VERY exciting day! We're coming Vu, we really are!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Crying On The Inside

Yesterday was the first day since Joe died that I have not cried. The first time in 58 days. It doesn't mean anything. I wasn't less sad yesterday than I was the day before. I just wondered. I wondered how many days it would be before the tears stopped for at least 24 hours, and it surprises me that of all days it was the day of the Livestrong.

Sometimes my tears come late at night; often they come while driving kids here and there, giving the memories a chance to take over with images of our sweet son. Add to that a song that might pop onto the radio such as "Teardrops On My Guitar" by Taylor Swift, or "Held" by Natalie Grant--and you have "teardrops on my steering wheel."

Friends and relatives have the chance to ask me how we are doing. My blogger friends do not. So, how are we doing?

I am amazed that life continues on. I am amazed that I can still feel laughter and happiness in the midst of such sadness. God is amazing, isn't He?

The hardest part now is watching my children grieve. Not only am I sad about Joe, I'm sad seeing my other kids sad. And they grieve like Eric and I do--they laugh every day and they cry every day, only sometimes the crying is on the inside.