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!