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Friday, March 31, 2006
Sneaky Ass Elle
How many of you read that last post over an over to make sure you weren't hallucinating? How many of you now want to smack me because you think I am sick and twisted? Sorry about that. Thought I would have a little fun with y'all.

**Disclaimer** I apologize to my friends and family who are learning of this news in this particular fashion. Our best intentions were to call you personally, but either we were too lazy or you just weren't home. Or you could be screening us... that's just not nice.

So yes... Pickle is officially a 17 month old little boy. Tuesday morning I received an email from our agency in which the subject line read: "re: referral." My heart just about jumped out of my chest. I opened the email to see a set of huge blue eyes staring back at me. The other thing I noticed... Blond hair! This one has hair!!!

Pickle seems to be healthy and has been given a big "thumbs up" by the orphanage doctor. He has also been given the green light from our IA doc. Of course we have very limited information at this point.

The best part of the story is that all 5 families that lost their children received referrals on Tuesday. Olga said it was difficult to do, but somehow they managed to make it happen. Tuesday was a very good day for us.

We are going to be very guarded in the information that we share with people. Photos are going to be for family and very close friends. We still have not decided on a name yet. We are doing a huge waffle on this one. We don't know his exact birth date yet. We won't get that until we travel. So the information that we are publicly sharing is that Pickle is a blonde haired, blue eyed, 17 month old boy.

As far as travel goes, we haven't gotten the exact dates yet. We are being told the beginning of May. The trip will be 5 business days in Khabarovsk to give us time to complete the "open up and say ahh" and to give us sufficient time with Pickle.

You guys should be happy I am telling you at all. I was going to wait and make a post from the airport in Korea that read, "Greetings from Korea!" D said that would just be cruel. I did have to mess with you somehow though. Please don't egg my house.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
The Weekly Update
This week's update is brought to you by Frisko Freeze. That's what I had for lunch today and man do they make a damn fine double cheese burger!!

This week two of our fearless families returned from Khabarovsk to report how the medical trip went. These were the first families to travel with AIA since D and I left last June.

The report on the medical exams is as follows:

The exams take approximately a day and a 1/2. You are examined by 8 different docs, all women. At least 2 of the exams are "naked from the waist up." There is a blood draw. It is done with a new clean needle. No worries there. There is no x-ray. There is a little feeling of the boobs. Don't worry men... there is no "feeling around" below the belt line. The entire process is basically you flying half way around the world to open up and say ahh. Harmless.
Pickle is officially a 17 month old little boy.
In other news... 2 more families are leaving this Sunday for their medical trips. One of the families going is the well known Doug & Candy whom we traveled with last June. Candy I hope you serve as of good of a tour guide as I tried to be. Safe travels and best wishes to you and Miss Banana! Wish we could be going together.

Other families will be going in subsequent weeks.

Hmmm.... Let's see... what else...

That seems to be about it. Hope everyone's week was somewhat pleasant. I know mine turned out ok.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
My Happy Place
Sorry no Coffee Talk this week. I have a few good topics, but I have not fully developed them yet.

I thought I would tell you about my happy place. We all have them. Mine happens to be a greenhouse (shocking!) Actually it is a conservatory. It is here in town in a fairly large park. I can't remember the exact name of it, but my friend Carlos calls it the glass house. I was feeling pretty blue last week so I thought I would take a drive on over to the glass house. I hadn't been in quite a while. When I go I usually load up some major camera equipment and prepare myself to photograph my way through the joint. This time I wasn't in the mood to make sure I had enough film, my note cards, the right lenses and make sure everything was clean. So I grabbed the digital and ran.

Upon walking in the door I was immediately calmed. There must be something about the heat and humidity that make me feel warm and cozy. Maybe that is why I was so reluctant to give up the greenhouse job I had. They had the entry decorated with beautiful Hydrangeas. The lemon tree wasn't blooming, but huge semi-ripe fruit hung from the branches.

I made my way to the very back where the bench is. I snapped some photos of gorgeous white orchids along the way. I sat down on the bench with my new best friend iPod. I love the smell of that place. Musty organic matter. For the short time I was there I just tried to relax. I didn't think about the bad stuff that has happened in the last few weeks. I didn't worry over how long it was going to take for a new referral. I didn't stress over the fact that I have yet to come up with the remaining money to finish our adoption. It was just me and the plants (and a little Ashley MacIssac.) It was just peaceful.

I encourage you all to find your happy place. Here are a few photos I took of mine.

The Entrance

Along a path

White Orchid
Monday, March 27, 2006
"That Day"
First I want to tell all of you to run on over to Margaret's site and give her a hand. Her story is very touching. She is yet another mom just trying to get her son home. She has started a fundraiser selling flower bulbs. You all know my weakness for flowers. So here is the perfect opportunity. Brighten your life with some flowers and help Margaret at the same time!

So now onto the definition of what "That Day" is. That day is the day that makes living in the Northwest awesome! It is the first day that the sun is shining, the sky is blue and it is just warm enough. The day when you can roll down the car windows or open the sunroof without having to turn on the heat or heaty seats. The first day you can wear short pants and sandals WITHOUT socks.

Today is "That Day" here. It is just gorgeous. I wish I could just spend the day sitting on the bench in my garden. But alas no... I am here at the church. The life of the church secretary calls.

For those of you ever considering a move to the Great Northwest, let me tell you that today I will shout a resounding YES!!! Come on up! The other 364 days I might tell you different story.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
That cursed Rhonda
Rhonda has a way of getting me hooked on stuff. She sucked me into her little LOST world, she has convinced me I need a Roomba (she still needs to work on D now) and she introduced me to this nifty little website. Of course she found it through Zoot. To be honest I saw Zoot mention it too, but didn't have the time that day to check it out. I finally got curious enough to see what the YouTube hubub was all about. It is just about the coolest thing ever.

There are all kinds of videos I have from Khabarovsk that I would love to share with people that I just don't have the capacity to. But now with the magic of YouTube I can!

So here is this little story from Khabarovsk.

We traveled to Russia with a couple from Texas (Doug & Candy.) While we were there we met another couple from Seattle. They happened to be there for their court trip. The 6 of us went to dinner one night and then Ciarai and Jose invited us out to the MarKuel so we could see what it looked like (as an aside, AIA families usually stay at the hotel Amethyst on the first trip and the MarKuel Apartments the second trip.) To get to the MarKuel from town you have to take the Trolley Bus. In Russia there are 3 kinds of buses. There are the state run buses, the commercial buses and trolley buses. Trolley buses are essentially cable cars. Khab has one that runs the opposite direction as the state and commercial buses. It costs all of 9 rubles to ride the bus. So Ciarai and Jose say we are going to get on the trolley bus to get out to the MarKuel. We stand in what feels like a cattle herd at the trolley stop. The trolley stops and ALL the people standing there get on. The trolley is so crammed that you become very intimate acquaintances with many Russians. Doug of course is the last one on the trolley. Lucky for him. Of course he nearly lost an arm getting on. Lets just say the doors don't have an anti-pinch device. So here all 6 of us are on this thing with, oh say, 120 other people. This is nooooo exaggeration. Somehow through this gulag style train ride the little money taking babushka finds her way through the people to take our money. She didn't miss a single person.

The next day D decided that he needed to take a video of the trolley bus to show our friends back home. So here for your viewing pleasure is a Russian Trolley Bus. Please note we rode this thing with over 100 people. Also note that deodorant is not that prolific in Russia.

Saturday, March 25, 2006
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood
The sun is shining here and it is almost warm! Well warm enough to bust out the flip flops. I may be wearing short pants (capris for those who don't understand Elle) and flip flops, but I am still wearing a sweatshirt.

I can see some gray clouds off in the distance. Lets hope they stay there. Walter the Weather Guy says it isn't supposed to rain until tomorrow.

We have a big day of nothing planned. D mowed the grass and put down some fertilizer. I guess he is wanting to grow or something. Gives him something to use his new mower on I suppose.

As for me... well, I'm not sure. I might con D into going to a nursery. Of course nurseries always involve labor once home. I would really like to go to the local mega craft store, but he went with me yesterday to one and swears he will not step foot inside on a Saturday. Maybe I could bribe him by involving lunch at his favorite local burger joint. hmmm....
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The Weekly Update
I am so proud that all of you did not degrade this week's Coffee Talk into a political trash about.

This week's update will be brought to you by the letter P. Why P? Well we decided that we were not going to reveal the name of our new referral when it comes, but we needed to call it something. So we came up with the nickname Pickle. So our child will herein referred to as Pickle.

There isn't a whole ton of news this week. No referral. The Department of Education is issuing them, but not bunches at a time. They want to ensure that the children they refer are legally available for adoption (so our bad situation doesn't happen again.) The problem is they only have the information that is available on the Federal Databank. When our facilitator inquires with the orphanages about the children the doctors tell her they are not healthy. So we continue to wait.

The bits of good news are that all 5 families that have lost their referrals in one way or another will receive referrals all at once. Olga wants to make sure that no one is left behind. The other good news is that we are back to the old judge!!!! That is a huge resounding WAAAA HOOOO!!! Newbie Judge was just so dang slow. She was requiring all kinds of strange paperwork and wording. She was having court appointments that lasted hours. She also was delaying rulings for days. Imagine that. Going to court for your hearing and then not knowing for two or three days if your child is yours or not. Well this just wasn't going to fly so they brought back the old judges. Thank God!

We should hear next week how the whole medical exams will play out. There are 2 families with our agency in Khabarovsk right now for their med trips. We are fortunate enough that when we go to see our new referral we will have the medical exams so we aren't faced with 3 more trips.

So that is the update in a nutshell.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Coffee Talk: Patriotism
I decided to move Coffee Talk to Tuesdays to give you more time before I post the Weekly Update.

Today's topic is not the threatened politically charged debate, but happens to fall very close to this realm.

From my view the 9/11 attacks cause an uprising of American patriotism. People mounting gigantic flags to their cars, grown men and women spontaneously signing up for military duty and a general sense of lets go kick that skinny, kidney failing psyco's ass.

As the years have worn on since the attacks I see patriotism beginning to wane. Long gone are the high flying flags and the sense of American pride. Here are the days of the endless yellow ribbons and the sound of nails on the chalkboard when bobo the clown opens his big fat trap.

I feel as if I am embarrassed somedays to actually be an American. We are not well received in other countries. Many of us personify the stereotype of "Ugly American."

I almost miss the days of saying I was proud to be an American. Don't get me wrong. The United States has more to offer than almost any other country in the world. We are given so many freedoms. That is what once made this country great and respected.

I see Americans as these depressed people. Reminiscent of the days of the soup line or the gas line.

There in lies the point. Think back. (To your history books or the days when you were younger) Imagine men clamoring at a fence for the opportunity to work. Standing in line for public assistance because your children are freezing and hungry. Watching your family slowly die due to untreated illness. But in all that pain and suffering comes someone to give you hope. A simple man. A washed up boxer who comes back to take the heavyweight title. James Braddock gave millions of Americans hope. He showed them that no matter how bad of a hand life deals you there is the ability to come back.

Take the example of the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team. In a time when our country was fighting a war we couldn't see a group of remarkable young men beat all the odds by winning gold for our country. Again, giving Americans a renewed hope.

Could this happen again? Could the simple act of a sports victory bring about a renewed sense of American pride? Or will it take something much more profound?

today's topic is not to discuss the finer points of Bobo and Uncle Dicky, but rather to wheedle out your thoughts on what kind of act would bring around your American spirit. Has your country's pride faded in the last 6 years? If so, why and what would give it a boost?
Monday, March 20, 2006
What is in a name
I thought I might take a moment to explain our new name. It is an interesting story in my opinion.

When we first started on the journey of international adoption I read as much as I possibly could. One thing that was mentioned over and over was to keep a journal. I tend to be a mediocre journalist, but I thought this would be a good idea.

I drug D with me to the bookstore to find just the right journal. We spent a good 45 minutes in the journal section of the store. It had to be just the right book. It couldn't cost too much, had to have lined pages and couldn't be too cutesy. I kept coming back to one, but it was hardback and I wasn't too sure about it. D was getting impatient and I was just totally indecisive. Finally he looked at me and said, "Let's just get this one." It was made by a company called Flavia. It was purple a blue with greenish feathers and it read "Unexpected Miracles" on the cover. I looked at it and thought that it just might be perfect. We purchased the journal.

I began writing in it November 27, 2004. I have written in it periodically since. I keep track of websites I find, quotes, poems, bible verses, email addresses and other such nonsense in it. I started writing letters to our child. The last entry was from November 2, 2005. It had made its way to a forgotten shelf in my office.

When I was packing up my office stuff on Tuesday so I could paint I ran across the journal. It was like God was once again whispering in my ear, "things happen for a reason."

You know we had wanted to start a grant foundation when all is said and done. We had planned on calling it The Journey Home but the problem is I did a google search. The Journey Home is a new age channeling website. When I picked up the journal I instantly knew that it would be called Unexpected Miracles.

The loss of a child should never be considered a miracle, but sometimes in our greatest sorrow we find the smallest of unexpected miracles.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
To begin again
We found it only appropriate to begin again. After all that is what we are doing. As of March 13th we were not so magically transported back to April 18, 2005.

We have decided to move forward with our adoption plans. But of course that means we are back at square one. We are back to not knowing what gender our child will be, how old or when we will get to bring him or her home.

This blog will be the second act of our journey. The wait is still not over, but Adoption Adventure was all about A and we need to work on moving forward. We will still carry on the regular features such as the "Weekly Update" and the new "Coffee Talk", but we will be a little more cautious when it comes to information about our new referal. (we are still working on what to call him/her)

We want to sincerely thank everyone for their support, prayers and love. I cannot begin to tell you how overwhelmed we are with everyone's generosity. There is no way we could ever get through this without all of you.

Don't worry I will still pester you all for your comments. It wouldn't be like me not to.
Established March 19, 2006