Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Merry Christmas!!

Ok, so it's not Christmas today, but since I didn't post on the actual day, I thought I might make up for it today!

Christmas was wonderful at the Schlotterback residence! We have such a small family (Suzanne, Derek, Edra, Ann, and Tabitha the beagle) that it is very easy and relaxing for us all to be together. No family dramas, no fighting, just rest, relaxation, and enjoyment of our loved ones. I am constantly amazed by all the drama that goes on in other families. I wish that all my friends could experience the bliss of a quiet holiday. This doesn't mean I don't often wish for a bigger family (*I do and always have*) but the holidays have never been hard for my family. Even when I was younger and we would get together with my grandparents, my aunt and uncle and cousins, we all got along fine. Now that my grandparents are gone and my cousins all have families of their own, we see them throughout the year, but Christmas is spent at their own homes with their traditions, and that's how it should be. After all, we have traditions of our own.

We have our big dinner on Christmas Eve, and then watch the movie, A Christmas Story. I can practically recite this movie word for word. But you know what? I LOVE IT! During the day on Christmas Eve, I put together a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning (if you are from the South, you know what casserole I am talking about) so all I have to do upon waking is to turn on the oven and shove the pyrex dish in! 45 minutes later, breakfast is served!

After breakfast we open gifts. This is not a free for all. We dole out the presents and one by one we each open a gift while the rest look on and ooo and ahh. This makes gift opening take a long time, but it gives you the opportunity to thank the person who gave you the gift and to truly savor the moment. This took some getting used to by my husband and his mother, but I believe they've both come around. When we have our daughter I am sure this will be modified a bit...

After presents we just sit, listen to Christmas music, talk and enjoy each other's company. This year my mom went home in the afternoon to spend time with her best friend who was in town. We just relaxed and I did talk my husband into a movie on Christmas night. We went to see the new Jennifer Aniston movie and it was really cute. It was a nice ending to the day.

I can't wait to add a little girl to the mix. My memories of Christmas are some of the strongest memories I have of growing up. I can't wait to create magical memories for our daughter. No, the day doesn't have to be perfect, just perfect for us!

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Good and the Bad

This morning as I was checking on one of the websites I frequent I learned that the SC USCIS office is processing I600A's received on 11-15!!! This is great news as ours was received by 11/10 and our fingerprinting was on 12/9. Looks like the 171H may not be a huge holdup after all!

The bad news is that our homestudy has not been completed and sent to them, so no processing will happen until it is. Looks like I am going to have to put on my "follow up" hat and start pestering the social worker!

This weekend was a nice one, we escaped power outages and icy conditions for a weekend in the mountains (where the weather was great). We rented a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN for us and our moms and we really enjoyed ourselves. Our cabin was brand new and the view was spectacular, and everyone was comfortable. We enjoyed the hot tub and the fireplaces, and the Winterfest lights in town. The only part we didn't enjoy were the poorly maintained roads leading up to our cabin. That was pretty scary since the roads were very steep!

We've got less than a week until Christmas and I can't help but feel sad and hopeful at the same time. Sad that our furbaby Katie isn't with us and hopeful that our daughter may be home this time next year. This year we are in limbo, and that will make it hard, but we have faith that good times are ahead. I was at a funeral recently and the minister said that it is ok for us to grieve. God expects it. However, it is not ok to grieve without hope because if you are a Believer, then you know that our separation from other Believers is only temporary. So, that being said, we grieve, but not without hope as we know that those we miss so badly will be waiting for us in Heaven.

We grieve for my father, and for Derek's. We grieve for lost grandparents, for the pregnancies that never happened, and for Katie, who lovingly held our hearts in her paws for 9 years. But, we have hope. And this hope is in the form of our faith in our Heavenly Father and in the form of a little girl who will call us mommy and daddy one day. While my soul cries, my heart sings, because I know that our grief is not the end.

On that note, I will wrap this up. I have passed my mushiness quotient for the day! I hope that everyone has a safe and happy time with their families. We love you all and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Fingerprinting time!

Our paperwork is really starting to come together! Derek just had his physical yesterday and Friday we travel to Charleston for fingerprinting. As soon as we get his doctor's letter, we will send it to our social worker and our homestudy will be ready to be submitted for approval. YAAAA! So, all we will be waiting on is the passports and the 171H (immigration approval to bring a foreign orphan into the US). If my estimates are correct, we should receive our 171H somewhere in late January. I will be so much more relieved when our dossier is in China and logged in. Right now I feel a keen sense of urgency to get everything finished and on its way. Our agency is saying that right now, the wait from log in to referral is 9-10 months. That means if we submit our dossier and it is logged in in February, then we would likely receive our referral in November or December next year with travel in December or January 2007. That seems so far away!! Of course, referrals could speed up after the first of the year, and that is what I am hoping for, although I realize that it will all happen when it is supposed to. (that's what my head is saying anyway- my heart wants her home NOW!)

I want so much to start buying clothes, toys, nursery stuff, etc., but my head keeps saying to slow down, that doing all that now will make the wait that much harder. But how much harder can it get? I had planned to officially start on the nursery once the new year was past, but doing so will mean we don't have a guest room, so I guess I better wait until we get closer to referral time. Literally all I have to do is buy a rocking chair and crib and paint an old chest of drawers, so it isn't like I've got all that much to do. I will probably drive Derek crazy in the next year. LOL, that's what husbands are for, right?

Well, I guess that's all I have to report for now. Everyone take care and I'll post again soon!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanks and more Thanks

Thank you to everyone who has posted comments over the past few weeks. It warms my heart to read the comments of old and new friends who are either on their own journey or just following ours. It truly reinforces to me that we are on the right path and that our child will be brought into an environment where love reigns!

I didn't get a chance to post over the weekend as I was extremely busy! I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for our family (well actually I just poured into a dish and put the dish into the oven, but I am calling that cooking even though it was more like food coordination!), and then proceeded to start to decorate for Christmas. Last year after the holidays we purchased an artificial pre-lit tree, thinking that of course we would be about 8-9 months pregnant and not have the energy for a real tree (I always planned for my pregnancy with each IVF attempt!). Well, let me tell you, that tree was more work than a real one! I spent over 3 hours putting it together and "fluffing" the branches. Let's hope next year I won't have to go through all the fluffing! Needless to say it is a beautiful tree, even if it required extra work!

I also went to Charlotte with my mom to a craft show. That was a lot of fun, so many beautiful things were for sale. I bought a few things and so did mom. Our favorite was a booth that featured dried oranges, pomegranets (sp?), and artichokes, all spiced with Christmas smells. I bought all kinds of potporri- the house truly smells like Christmas now.

Even though we are past Thanksgiving, I do want to share my list of things for which I am most thankful- keep in mind these are not in order of my thankfullness! (Is that a word?)

1. My personal relationship with God
2. The 29 years I had with my dad
3. The 9 years I had with my Katie.
4. The memories I have of my grandparents
5. The fact that I am married to my best friend
6. The close relationship I have with my mom- she is my mother first and my friend second and for that I love her with all my heart.
7. I have a wonderful mother in law- I couldn't ask for better. She is everything that a girl could ask for!
8. Our close group of friends- each one of you is special to us in a way that will last a lifetime! You all know who you are!
9. My job.
10. My education. Thanks Mom and Dad, Clemson University and the Jacques Weber Foundation!
11. Did I mention being married to my best friend? I did? Well, it bears mentioning twice because I am truly truly thankful. I can honestly say that Derek is my soulmate, that we are perfect for each other in everyway, and the thought of growing old with him makes my heart sing!
12. Clemson beat Carolina this year. LOL. Seems trivial I know, but to folks in SC we live and die by this game!
13. Our home.
14. The fact that adoption is available for us. We long to share our love with a child, and without the miracle of adoption, that probably wouldn't be possible!

Once again, thank you to all who have posted comments. I visit the blogs of each person who posts, so please know that I am following your stories as well.

I will post more pics of the nursery as I download them from my camera. Somehow I seem to find other things to do on the weekend, but I'll eventually get to it!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Paperwork pregnant...

First let me say that I am still missing my Katie terribly. The house seems so empty, like a person is missing. I think about her at the oddest times, like in the middle of the Keith Urban concert, or while walking through the grocery store. I picked up her clay paw print, and I know I will cherish that momento of her. I also picked up her ashes on Friday. Not sure what I will do with them. I want to bury her, but I also know we won't live in our house forever and I will not want to leave her when we move, so right now I have decided to just do nothing.

Our paperwork for the adoption is moving along. I have all the documents for the homestudy except for Derek's doctor's letter, and his appt is the first week in December, so by the 9th we should have that part done. Our fingerprinting appointment is on 12-9. I have a good many of the dossier documents already. I have my doctor's form, our birth and marriage certificates, our police clearance letters, our employment letters, our financial statement, and our petition to adopt letter. So, all I am waiting on is Derek's doctor's form, the completed homestudy, and then the immigration 171H! Here's to hoping that we can finish up our docs and be in the certifying process in January. I just have no idea how long the USCIS stuff takes in SC!

This weekend I bought our daughter her first pair of shoes! I got her a pair of pink Robeez with flowers on them. Here is a pic:

How cute are these? You know I can't resist shoes! Since these are sized 6-12 months, I felt comfortable in going ahead and buying them. Now, if only I could find some baby Nikes in the same size range! I showed them to Derek and he didn't seem as interested. Men just don't understand about shoes!

We are still working on the name thing. Lauren and Alison are still at the top of the list. I told Derek that if we name her Lauren we can call her Ralph as a nickname! LOL, I wouldn't really do that, but it is funny!

Thanksgiving is this week. I intend to do a post about all that I am thankful for. As hard as 2005 has been for us, I still have plenty of thanks to give to God for all our blessings. As hard as our troubles are, it is nothing like what the pilgrims had, or even what some people face everyday.

On that note, I will sign off for now!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Missing you...

Don't Weep for Me
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sun on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awake in morning's hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand by my grave and cry,
I am not there;
I did not die.
- Mary Frye

The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

Today my best friend died. Katie, my 9 year old springer spaniel, was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma about 6 weeks ago. She had to have her spleen removed, but she bounced back from surgery and seemed like her old self. We knew we had a limited amount of time with her, but we never thought it would end this quickly. Last night when I came home she seemed very lethargic and not her self. She wasn't interested in eating her food or her treat, and that is very unlike her. This morning was the same, and she threw up what she did eat. I took her to the doctor, knowing they couldn't cure her, but hoping they could do something to make her more comfortable. They said her red blood cell count was 12 and that normal was 37 to 56. Said she was breathing hard because she didn't have enough red blood cells to carry the oxygen through her body. She was anemic, and her heart was racing, working extra hard, and she just looked miserable. The light was gone from her eyes and she seemed spaced out. She wouldn't give me any kisses or any of her "loving" habits. My heart was breaking in two. On the way to the vet, she didn't even act upset in the car, and normally she would be crying to me and shaking from fear. I think she was telling me it was ok, that she was ready.

The doctor said that because her red blood cell count was so low, she likely wouldn't make it through the weekend. That they might could give her steroids, but that would just get her a few extra days and prolong the inevitable. The doctor said that she would continue to fight for oxygen and would suffer from it. She said to imagine how scary it would be if you couldn't get any air. I didn't want her to suffer. Next to my husband, she was my best friend, my four legged soul mate. I couldn't let her go through that. I couldn't go through that. I asked the vet what she would do in my situation. She said she would put her to sleep and let her go peacefully. I thought if I could do one thing for Katie, it would be to make her passing easier on her. I didn't want her to feel any pain or be scared. I was scared enough for the both of us.

I called Derek, and he said he knew that this was coming so he said his goodbyes to her this morning. I wish now I had let Edra, my mother-in-law(who lives with us), say goodbye to her this morning. I never thought that I wasn't coming home with her.

So the vet put the drugs in her while I held her. It didn't take long, maybe 15 seconds. She was peaceful, but I was in pieces. How could I let her go like this? Just a few minutes ago, I got her to wag her tail. She was standing by the door to the exam room. She wanted to leave. I wanted to take her home. But at the same time, how could I not do this for her? If I took her home, she would just get worse, and she would suffer. I promised her I would make it better. This was the only way I could. I told her to wait for me, that one day, we would play together again in heaven. I said a little prayer to my dad to take care of her.

I want to tell everyone a little about Katie. She was very loving. If you were sitting down, she wanted to be in your lap. She couldn't get close enough to you. She liked to sleep under the covers. She had to have her chew treat every night or she would nag you until you gave it to her. She could tell time. We would feed her when we got home from work. On the weekends or days when we didn't work, she would start staring at us at 5PM until we would feed her. She could even spell. I would ask Derek if he F-E-D her and she would immediately run to her bowl. She would jump high in the air 3 times when I was fixing her dish. She really loved to eat! She would sit on the couch and put her paw on the armrest like she knew what it was for. She loved to sleep with her head on the pillow. She knew which Christmas stocking was hers and she would check it every morning to see if Santa had come. She loved to go for walks. She loved to play ball. A tennis ball was her favorite. She loved to chase chipmunks. They didn't stand a chance in our yard. She was very protective of us and our house, but if she met you on a walk, she was really shy. She liked to lay on the footrest of the lazyboy when you were sitting in it. She had to be between your legs. She had an attention getting spot. When she wanted us to pay attention to her, she would go sit on the red leather chair. Sometimes she would dig in it, sometimes she would just sit. She loved to lay on the bed in the front room and look out the window. She would lay there whenever we were gone and look for us. I could go on and on. She really was a special dog. I know everyone says that about their dog, but she was special. She has a place in my heart that is all hers and will be until I die. I hope that when it is my time she is waiting for me on the other side of rainbow bridge.

Here are some of my favorite pics of Katie. I hope they bring a smile to your face, as they are a comfort to me right now.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Hi to all! The painting is done and I must say it looks pretty good. I painted the nursery to be a light green and hung white battenburg lace curtains. I love it! I also got a Classic Pooh hand made wool rug at the Charlotte Flea Market. It is very sweet- hand made by someone in Nantucket. It will look so cute in front of the crib. I also framed a card my mom gave me for Valentine's day 2002. It is Pooh and Piglet and Piglet says " Pooh, you have lots of friends, don't you?" and Pooh answers, "Yes, but I only have one Piglet." I found small classic Pooh and Piglet stuffed animals at Target and they look good beside the framed card. I don't really want a "themed" room, but a few touches here and there of Pooh are nice. (Classic Pooh only- I don't like the Disney Pooh) I know I will have a ball getting her room finished!

I went this morning for my physical- the doctor has done many adoption physicals so he was very familiar with the process, which helped to ease my fears. The paperwork has to be done in such a specific way and any mistakes will force you to have to redo the paperwork. This afternoon was our first homestudy. I got up early this morning and cleaned the house from top to bottom, but the social worker only wanted to see the room that will be the nursery! Oh well, at least now I have a clean house.

The questions that the social worker asked were very basic. The whole process was pretty painless. We just have to turn in the rest of our letters of rec, employment, and dr's letters and then we are good to go for the homestudy. I believe we will have to have one more visit, but that will be to mainly go over everything.

I do have one funny from the visit. The social worker asked Derek to describe my personality. He said a few things and then the SW asked if I was organized. Derek laughed and asked him if he ever watches the TV show Friends. He told him that I was a "Monica." LOL!! That is so true!

I ordered a National Geographic DVD titled China's Lost Girls. We watched it last night and it was pretty informative. They interviewed some of the older girls that had been adopted in the early 90s and for the most part all were very happy here in the USA and were very secure with their families. Only one little girl expressed that she didn't feel like she fit in. I think a lot of that has to do with how we as parents approach their adoption. My hope is that our child will feel loved and proud of her heritage and that she will be secure and happy.

Derek will read this and say I am rambling. For those of you who are still reading this, thanks! Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Painting Day and more...

I spent the day painting our bedroom and bathroom. I have never liked the yellow that it was, so it is going back to... China Doll... this is the color of most of the rest of the house. I picked this color out to use in our first house way back in 1997. Coincidence?

This week I hope to paint our front bedroom which will eventually be the nursery. I am planning to paint it a light mint green color. It is such a peaceful color. I hope our little tiger will love it too!

While I was painting the phone rang. Now this is very unusual. Everyone who calls me, calls me on my cell. Usually our home phone is just for telemarketers. I looked at the caller id and it said Colorado. I thought this was strange but I decided to answer it. Boy am I glad I did! It was CCAI calling to tell us that our application has been approved. YAAA! I wasn't really worried that we wouldn't but it means we are "official" now...

I wish I could send all the forms back in on Monday, but Derek has to sign some, so it will have to wait until he is home....

Where is Derek? Well, he went to Atlanta last night to see our friend Maceo, and he was going to the Clemson game today (we lost... not good!) and tomorrow he is driving to Alabama for his fishing tournament. He qualified to fish as a co-angler in the Everstart Series Championship. There are four divisions and the top 40 professionals and co-anglers from each division get invited to fish the championship. Derek is ranked 11th in the Southeastern division, so he is thrilled to be going! The tournament officially starts on Wednesday but he hopes to pre-fish (practice) on Monday and Tuesday. First place for the co-angler is about $30,000 in cash and a new Ranger bass boat worth about $40,000. GO DEREK!!!! His dream is to be a professional and I say he's doing a good job of getting there!

I wish I could be there with him for the tournament, but I decided to stay at home. Our furbaby, Katie (Springer Spaniel) had emergency surgery last month to remove her spleen. It had ruptured from a tumor growing inside of it. She was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, and the prognosis is not good, so I didn't want to leave her. I want to spend as much time as I can with her! I think she is getting annoyed with me though, because all I do is hug and kiss on her everytime she comes near me!

Being at home was a good opportunity to get the painting project done... On that note I need to get back to it... those walls aren't going to paint themselves!!!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Wow- did I just set this up by myself?

After reading other's blogs about their journey to find their little girl in China, I decided to start one for our family! Of course, being the Clemson Tiger fanatics that we are (our blood really is orange!) I decided to call it OurLittleTiger.blogspot.com. I think it is fitting. After all, she will be our little tiger!

After almost 4 years of trying to start our family and 3 years of fertility roller coasters, we realized that God's plan for our family was to create our family through adoption. After all, God wouldn't have put such strong desires in our hearts if we were not meant to be parents. Through this process I remember a conversation I had with my grandmother during one of my weekends with her. I had just found out where babies came from and decided that I was going to adopt (probably a really typical response for a young girl!). I announced to her my intentions, and remember such a sense of satisfaction. I remember that day like it was yesterday. We were riding in her 1972 Oldsmobile 98. Little did I know that my path had already been determined.

After much research and soul-searching, we have decided that our little tiger is waiting for us in China. We have a good family friend, Sandy, who has adopted two precious girls from China (Heather and Lily). Knowing their family has helped to educate us on the possibilities!

We have chosen to use Chinese Children Adoption International as our adoption agency. This is the same agency Sandy used and after getting all of their information, we really believe this is the right agency for us. So, to make a long story even longer, we mailed our application yesterday, Oct. 27th, 2005. Now we wait for our approval and sign up to get our Homestudy started. I really would like to have our paperwork in China by March. This would help make sure we get our little girl home by next Christmas. What a wonderful Christmas present that would be!

Well, now that I have our blog set up, I will have to get back to work (lunch is now over) but I will add more tomorrow. Thanks for reading our story- this one will have a happy ending!