Thursday, January 12, 2017

January Already?!

Let's face it. I am not a natural blogger. My apologies.
So what did you miss during the last month?
During December, my niece got into a sweet routine with our family and my girls loved spending every day with her. It took all the squabbles away. The hectic month peaked in mid-December when we hosted a Christmas party for our adoption group. It was the first time I ever hosted anything, so I was really nervous. I remember vacuuming and dusting and sitting on my island filling a giant crack with wood putty. I remember windex-ing the light fixtures on the ceiling and wiping the dust of the pot rack as my mom hand painted the wood putty to match the wood grain. I don't actually remember much else from that day. I think it went well. People showed up and they laughed a lot and stayed longer than an hour, so I'm going to take that as a success. I even got compliments on the food and punch. I told my husband I might consider doing it again next Christmas. Maybe. Definitely not sooner. Of course, I was planning so well that I coordinated that my brother and his family would come stay with us the next day. As it happened, my husband, who had been traveling during the week and developing a flu, got very sick Saturday. He had a fever that went on all day and he stayed in bed for about 24 hours. He briefly got up Sunday morning then went back to bed. My brother and his family had a good visit, short but good. I only got marginally angry at him and had a very hard time saying goodbye to my niece.

My husband started to improve a bit once they left (coincidence?) but still had a nagging cough. We had a little bit of breathing space in the week before Christmas, and we received a phone call and an email an hour apart from two grants. I was stunned. Just a couple weeks before we had gotten approved for a matching grant and I was filled with gratitude for that. I really wasn't expecting any direct grants. We had already been denied by 3 or 4. I cried on the phone call. I don't know if she was expecting that or not. Hopefully she was. On the 22nd, we found out our dossier had moved to matching. That was as good a Christmas gift as I could hope for. I had been praying for LOA before Christmas, but matching was the next best thing.

Christmas Eve we all did stockings then I stayed up way too late staging the photos for the great Elf Present Scavenger Hunt. Every year some wily plush villain steals the presents and gets chased around the house by our elf leaving a present for each kid and a photo clue at every spot. This is the problem with creativity. You do it ONE year, then your kids expect it the next year and the next and the next... Then it is tradition and legend and lore that the kids discuss before Christmas morning. Secretly, I have a ton of fun but every year I think, "Couldn't I have planned this earlier so I'm not up at 1am Christmas morning?" To be fair to our heroic elf, he is pretty lazy the rest of December. He didn't show up until the 16th then he only moved TWICE. He doesn't bake cookies or decorate or anything that other crazy people's elves do. No wonder he gets so active on Christmas Eve.

So the day after Christmas we packed everyone in the minivan and drove to my dad and stepmom's house in Oklahoma. Now Oklahoma doesn't normally excite me and there are whole stretches where I get NO cell phone reception, but where they live is like a little paradise with green hills, giant trees, peaceful breezes, a big lake and lots and lots of birds. It is lovely and I always oversleep when I am there. The second day we were there I received an email that we had soft LOA from China. I called for details and found out they actually issued it right before Christmas. That meant the hard copy would be arriving at the agency anyday. We had to make some plans about where they could FedEx it. That was fun. As it turned out, my husband along with my dad and son had to drive about an hour and a half to a place where it could be overnighted to. Thankfully it came around lunch, so they had time to hotfoot it back to meet me in the little town we were in. There in the tiniest, strangest FedEx outpost I've ever been in, we had fifteen minutes to sign and date the LOA, photocopy it, and send the photocopy with our I800 application overnighted to USCIS. We did it though! BUT we forgot to take a photo of us signing it!!! Admittedly, it was hard to remember much of anything in that little shipping office. I had four kids in various states of obedience and volume, "Stop touching that!" I was trying to remember what I needed copies of to send with the I800, "Don't hit your sister!" I was not allowed to use the copier so I had to have the young lady working there copy all those precious documents, "Don't touch anything!" I kept correcting my kids while keeping half an eye on my papers. It occurred to me fifteen minutes after we drove away that I hadn't even read the LOA or checked it for errors. This is SO not like me! My middle name is Preparation and my other middle name is Research. I read through it and finally felt the import of what that paper said. (Thankfully everything was totally correct on it and as I triple checked all my papers, I had included all the correct docs for immigration.) There were our names at the top. There was his name and birthdate with the title "foundling". We check marked the box that says we accept. AAAAHHH! The original is on it's way back to China while the copy and bulk of the paperwork is back with USCIS waiting for their stamp of approval once again. The time we weren't running after documents, we spent with my dad and stepmom doing puzzles, playing board games, going in his new Jacuzzi, riding horses and going for a brisk walk to see the area. Also there was a lot of eating too. We headed back home and my husband's pesky cough seemed to worsen a bit. Three days later, his side was hurting so bad he couldn't take in breaths. So I drove him to a doctor. She listened to his lungs and frowned deeply. She quickly wrote off five different prescriptions, had a nurse bring in a nebulizer and put it on him and as soon as he finished the breathing treatment, he got a steroid shot in the butt. She listened to his lungs again and sent him straight to get chest x-rays. Turned out he had pneumonia and bronchitis. It really knocked him down. He kept working though. Of course. He seems to be improving now.

While we wait for I800 approval, I will leave you with the adventures of our elf...

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