January 31, 2008

Where Did My Karma Go?

We generally enjoy fairly good karma, so I'm baffled as to why karma seems to be out to get us this week. Tuesday evening we arrived home to our outdoor water pipes having frozen and burst resulting in a constant stream of water under our deck and 12 inches of standing water in the basement. Thursday afternoon I was on my way home from Atlantic City for work, and 183 miles into the 199 mile trip our brand new (new to us anyhow) Subaru broke and left me stranded on the side of a major interstate waiting for a tow home. We even went out for dinner tonight because I was a little stressed after spending almost 2 hours on the side of a road with huge trucks zooming by me at 80 mph...and they got my order wrong. Pipes bursting, cars breaking, and the restaurant industry seemingly out to get me - where did my karma go?

I'm secretly hoping that this is karmas way of preparing me for the ultimate karmic moment of happiness...a referral call. How cool would that be! Here's hoping for the return of my karma tomorrow - TGIF!

January 30, 2008

Atlantic City Baby

Work has landed me in Atlantic City this week. As a project manager my perks are few, but I must say that having Atlantic City as one of my clients is...wait, that's still not a perk. I don't gamble. I don't smoke. I'm not retired and enjoying my golden years on the Jersey shore. I've met with my clients in Atlantic City many times (lovely people) but this afternoon I finally put my finger on my main aversion to this city... there are no children anywhere.

Until the past year or so I don't think I've ever fully appreciated how much more positive the general vibe of a place can be when there are children around. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved children. I would pick up my life and move to the other side of the globe tomorrow to provide a loving environment to orphaned children if I could figure out how to make it work. I just don't think I realized how they fit so naturally into almost everything we do. Obviously there are scenarios not entirely appropriate for children (for example, gambling in a smoke filled base-beat-thumping neon spewing room... ok it's starting to make sense why there are no children in Atlantic City...) but those scenarios are extremely few and far between.

My husband and I are so excited to introduce our child to our life, and to re-experience life "with child" for ourselves as well. I have a gut feeling we wont be planning any family vacations to Atlantic City in the near future... good thing I'm getting my fill now! OK, Off to the slots, oh wait, I mean off to the nearest smokeless thumping-beat-less place for dinner.

It's Atlantic City baby.

January 29, 2008


I've been tagged by Stacie - Enjoy!

Listed in no particular order...

8 things I'm passionate about:
1. International Adoption
2. Traveling
3. Public Education (Jo is Teach for America alum)
4. Photography
5. The Outdoors
6. Being Informed and Taking Action
7. Languages
8. Food & Wine (LOVE to cook!)

8 things I want to do before I die:
1. Go to Ethiopia and meet our child
2. Return to Ethiopia...a few times
3. Learn to read & write a symbolic language (working on Amharic now)
4. Learn to fly an airplane
5. Travel all 7 continents (4 down, 3 to go)
6. Climb Kilimanjaro
7. Adopt 1, maybe 2 more children
8. Have a solo photo show at the Met or other major museum (Mike)

8 things I say often:

1. The adoption is progressing nicely, we're just waiting for our referral.
2. What do you want for dinner hun?
3. She ain't done yet
4. Bode NO!
5. Bridger NO!
6. Sure, why not?
7. If you order merlot I'm leaving.
8. How do you spell...?

8 TV shows I recently watched:
1. Grey's Anatomy
2. Don't Forget the Lyrics
3. Singing Bee
4. Family Guy
5. The Simpson's
6. The Today Show
7. David Letterman
8. The Office

8 Songs I never tire of listening to:

1. Spirit In The Sky - Norman Greenbaum
2. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's
3. Cello Suite #1 - J. S. Bach
4. Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo Ole's version
5. Adagio Sostenuto from Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven - Played by Bela Fleck
6. Shine On You Crazy Diamond - Pink Floyd
7. Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles
8. Ripple - Grateful Dead

8 things that attract me to my friends:
1. Socially/Politically Aware
2. Willing to take risks
3. A love for dinner parties
4. They
5. Put
6. Up
7. With
8. Me

8 Things I learned in 2007:
1. The word "Apostille"
2. Real Patience...still working on it though
3. How to prepare Ethiopian food
4. Where our septic tank is, and what happens when it backs up
5. How well Subaru's hold their value
6. Bridger is not faster than a groundhog (though he tries...)
7. Most cheese contains rennet making it not a vegetarian product
8. If you pick your mailbox up on Monday the snowplow man will knock it back over on Tuesday

I'm tagging Laura (Cloverlandfarm) and Amanda and Andrew - Have fun!

January 26, 2008

Researching The Candidates

Off the topic of adoption for a moment...

"Glassbooth is a nonprofit organization that is creating innovative ways to access political information. An informed and interested democracy is a powerful thing."

First assign points to issues you find important in the upcoming election then take a quiz where you assign values ranging from strongly oppose to strongly agree to various policies/ideas. Then find out which candidate is your best match! The really cool part is it then goes on to inform you why you fit or don't fit with each candidate based on candidate quotes and/or voting record. It's a great way to learn about those in the running to be our next President.

January 25, 2008

Following yesterday's whine I needed a little reminder today that it's important to make sure that every day includes a little laughter. Since we've already established the importance of the "Have Patience" song, I figured it was time for a little Marry Poppins and the "I Love to Laugh" song!

January 24, 2008

Referral Waiting

There are so many pieces to this process that require waiting and being patient, and each new wait tends to be more difficult than the last. First the home study, then the dossier, then the fingerprints, then the I-171H, then the authentication, and well, you get the idea. Before now the waiting was usually for a week or two, maybe a month, but always within the foreseeable future. We knew that the document, form, or whatever it was we were waiting for would eventually arrive. I should have expected that the referral wait would follow the trend and be slightly more difficult then the last waiting stage (US authentication and dossier to Ethiopia) but for some reason I thought that once we finished all of our paperwork and were officially "just waiting" that it would somehow be easier. HA!!!

Apparently I'm not very good at "just waiting". Especially when the wait times are so up in the air right now and could continue to change at a moments notice. Realistically, we could get our referral call in a couple of weeks. But, realistically, we could get our referral call in in a couple of months...or more. We continue to learn new levels of patience and faith daily. We've been learning to cook Ethiopian, taking Amharic lessons, reading scads of books on adoption parenting and Ethiopian culture, and even have the nursery well on it's way to being ready for little Bean. That last part of course is on hold for now until we know the gender since there's only so much decorating you can do in a nursery without knowing if it's going to be for a boy or a girl. So we continue to wait for our referral, patiently.

We've been dreaming about adopting internationally for years, have been actively in the process for 8+ months, and officially on the wait list for almost 8 weeks. But, it all seems like a drop in the bucket when I sit back for a moment and think about how much so many lives are going to change or be affected as a result of all of this waiting.

I think I'm going to officially remove the word "wait" (in all forms) from my vocabulary now... :)

January 21, 2008

"Our lives begin to end the day we become
silent about things that matter."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Abyssinian Roots

Hillary Clinton visited the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem yesterday, (click here for the article) where she was officially endorsed by highly influential and revered Reverend Calvin Butts. Although I love a good round of political talk and opinion sharing, that is not why I decided to mention this in today's post. The reason I bring this up...

My husband and I moved to NYC 6.5 years ago and the first church we visited was the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. I have no idea why - not sure if it was the choir, the community, or the fact that it was mentioned in every single NYC guide book, but needless to say it's where we went. And, subsequently stood in a line for over an hour prior to taking our seat for the service. It was extremely powerful, and we went back - several times. The word "Abyssinia" denotes the historical reference to the country of Ethiopia, home of the Habesha people. So now, 6.5 years later, we are waiting for our little Habesha. We always knew that we would grow our family through international adoption but the country specifics weren't certain until early last year. We didn't select the Ethiopia program, it selected us - and the match was perfect.

January 20, 2008

Welcome to the Super Bowl NY Giants!!!

Go Giants!

Yes, we're true Minnesota Vikings fans at heart but we also currently reside in the great state of New York so will be cheering loudly for the Giants tonight as they tackle the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship title.

January 19, 2008

Rock Star

Last night we had some friends over for the night and one of them brought their Xbox Rock Band video game. We had a blast playing it into the wee hours of the morning and were officially rock stars for a night! My husband and I don't own video games so the whole setup was new to us (which puts us in the minority as evidently this is the hottest thing on the market right now) but we did our best to catch on quickly. For those unfamiliar with Rock Band (which is probably not many of you as I think Mike and I were the last people on the planet to play it, or so our friends told us) there are actual guitars, microphones, and even a drum set involved. The goal is to sing/play your instrument as close to the beat of each song as possible - the result is group of friends rocking out for the night to songs I hadn't heard in years. Great fun. I have a feeling these sorts of evenings are going to be few and far between once Bean arrives, but I also have a feeling that we're not even going to notice...there will be another rock star in the family and we'll be learning lyrics to a few new tunes - lullabies!

January 16, 2008

We're IN The Range!

The range I'm referring to is the minimum to average time spent waiting for a referral by CHI families, which currently hovers from around 6 weeks to around 16 weeks. As of yesterday we've been officially waiting for 6 weeks. We're IN the range! Below is a graphic depiction of us in the range as represented by a box and whisker plot. Darned Microsoft Excel wouldn't let me create a proper box and whisker plot so I did my best to draw one myself.

Disclaimer: Seeing as I don't have access to all of the official CHI wait times allowing me to find the actual quartiles for a proper box and whisker plot the graph below is purely a guestimation and in no way represents anything official or stated by CHI. It's just my very optimistic blog-influenced guess. Enjoy!

Amharic Lesson #2 And More Food

On Monday we had our second Amharic lesson with Zodi and we were finally able to put a sentence or two together. She's prioritizing vocabulary for now and will help us with sentence structure / verbs later on, but it's fun to be able to say a few complete sentences in the meantime! We're slowing gaining the ability to pronounce words (relatively) correctly but there is definitely A LOT of studying in our future. Can anyone recommend good DVD's/CD's in Amharic? Listening to the sounds throughout the week would definitely help us - we'll gratefully accept all suggestions!

Last night we went to The Ethiopian Restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side and the food was fantastic. It might be my new favorite in NYC, or at least tie for first with Meskerem. Mike and I took our best shot at a few of the Amharic words we've learned (nothing too tricky, just "thank you" and "hello") and the waitress actually understood us! I was so relieved when I said thank you to her in Amharic and she responded with a huge smile - my pronunciation doesn't stink! We have 8 lessons to go, so hopefully by the time we've completed the course we'll be able to practice some basic conversations while dining at NYC's Ethiopian restaurants - this is definitely not going to help our attempt at losing some babywait, but it's for a good cause so is justified...right? Thank goodness for the treadmill.

January 13, 2008

Crib Mattress

We spent yesterday morning educating ourselves on the virtues of crib mattresses and then ventured out to the shops to purchase ours. The literature on the web recommends finding the heaviest one if you're going with foam because that means it's the most dense and wont conform to your baby's shape which could result in suffocation and increased risk of SIDS. For inner-spring mattresses (most common) we were recommended to find one with a coil count above 130 and a steel gauge below 15, as well as some form of border wire or rods in the corners and sides for perimeter support. Bottom line, the firmer the better. One of the consumer review sites we read also said that a quality mattress will cost somewhere between $90-200, anything less than $90 likely being too soft and anything more than $200 likely having unnecessary bells and whistles.

We took this information and made our first stop at Target where we were very disappointed to find only two options, neither of which met the specs we were looking for. I know that their online store has quite a few additional options however without knowing exactly which mattress we wanted we felt uncomfortable making the purchase online, site unseen. So we headed to JCPenney and then SEARS and again found little to no selection, but on the advice of a saleswoman at SEARS made our next stop at Babies "R" Us. There we found an entire wall of crib mattresses, complete with lengthy descriptions and the ability to feel each of them prior to purchase. We settled on the Serta Perfect Balance Organic Crib Mattress and called it a day. Be warned, there are ALOT of bad crib mattresses out there!

Babywait status:
- Babywait (referral) = 5 weeks and 5 days.
- Babywait (treadmill) = 9 consecutive days, at least 30 minutes per day!

January 8, 2008

Melkam Ganna! (A Day Late)

Malkam Ganna (Merry Christmas in Amharic) from the McGregors! Christmas is celebrated on January 7th in Ethiopia and we were happy to participate in a few Ethiopian-themed events:

- We had our first Amharic tutoring session and it was fantastic! Our tutor, Zodi, is wonderful. We're really looking forward to being able to communicate (at least a little bit :)) with the community while we're in Ethiopia. During the session Zodi made the comment to me that Amharic is in my blood - The size of the smile on my face must've been record breaking!

- We met Cloverlandfarm and her husband for dinner at Meskerem, an Ethiopian restaurant in Manhattan. They're adopting from Ethiopia as well and are an absolutely lovely couple. We're hoping to go to a service at Zodi's church together sometime soon. Their services are conducted completely in Amharic with English subtitles so should be very interesting!

- I enjoyed another exciting correspondence with our CHI adoption consultant today regarding our time line: Our dossier arrived in Ethiopia on December 31st, 2007 and we've been on the wait list since December 4th, 2007. The 2-3.5 month estimated wait time to receive a referral is based off of the day we were added to the wait list, so... 1 month 4 days down, 2 months 11 days to go! (I'm a former math teacher...you have no idea how hard it is for me to refrain from posting a thorough analysis of the data and corresponding graphic representations of all of the "estimated" wait times.)

- We're on day #4 of operation "babywait be gone!" So far, so good.

So, it was a busy day but we adore participating in activities that help us to feel that much closer to our child. Our child certainly isn't waiting for us, in fact little baby McGregor has no idea we're coming. We're the lucky ones waiting for little Ashton/Isabel to be ready - and when s/he is we're on the next plane to Addis Ababa!

Great Online Resources

I found two great websites today while doing a little research that both include some interesting reads regarding adoption parenting, attachment & bonding, etc...


A4everFamily: A wealth of information for adoptive parents & families.

University of Minnesota International Adoption Medicine Program: "The first clinic in the United States providing for the health needs of internationally adopted children through its clinic services, research, and education."

January 6, 2008


Presenting the adoptive mom's equivalent to "babyweight"... "babyWAIT"!

Official definition (well mine anyhow):

Babywait: The additional pounds an adoptive mommy puts on while waiting for the referral of and union with her child. The official amount varies depending on the actual amount of time waited and circumstances that evolve during the wait. The wait, and subsequent babywait, can have negative side effects however those are quickly outweighed by the delightful feeling one enjoys while munching on snacks and catching up on the latest news on the blogs. You can tell if you've fallen victim to babywait if you are in the process of adopting a child and notice that your favorite pair of jeans aren't quite fitting the way they used to.

The solution to babywait?

1. A quick referral, court date, and travel date. (duh)

A more reliable solution to babywait?

January 4, 2008

One Month

On December 4th, 2007 our dossier was approved by CHI and we were added to the wait list. We've been officially waiting for one month! Now that the holidays are over things have really picked up for both my husband and I at work so I have a feeling the coming days are going to fly by. We went out for a celebration dinner last night (my husband received exciting news regarding his work but it hasn't been officially announced yet so unfortunately I can't share details...grrr) and while at dinner I asked him what he thought we should do for Valentine's Day this year. The moment the word "Valentines Day" came out of my mouth we both silenced and squinted our eyes while we thought to ourselves, is Valentines Day REALLY already next month? It feels strange enough accepting that we're actually in the year 2008, but to think that we're already making plans for February is simply astonishing.

Where did the last year go? Oh yeah I remember... it went to the police station for documents, the doctor for documents, friends for letters, social worker for documents, accountants for letters, adoption DVD's for lessons, the FBI for fingerprints, various notaries for stamps, 5 counties for certifications, 3 states for Secretary of State approval, and to the post office about a thousand times for the mailing of said paperwork! And a partridge in a pear tree.

One month down, lots of waiting to go. LOTS to do in the meantime!

January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

We were fortunate to enjoy New Years Eve with fabulous friends, an Ethiopian feast, and good times all around. We used our new cookbook to prepare a meal of veggie sambusa, mesir wat, tibs wat, and a berbere spiced potato/carrot/cauliflower mix and enjoyed Ethiopian honey wine with the meal.

Our good friends searched high and low in Manhattan for Ethiopian honey wine and finally found it at an Ethiopian restaurant within a few blocks of their apartment. As they conversed with the owner of the restaurant and explained to him why it was so important to bring an Ethiopian honey wine to their New Years festivities the owner became very excited about their friend's adopting from Ehtiopia and offered family to stay with in Addis while traveling as well as his daughter in Manhattan as an Ethiopian baby sitter! We are truly fortunate to live in an area where one can "stumble" into such grand Ethiopian resources! We're going to join our friends for dinner sometime soon at the restaurant and hopefully strike up a new friendship with the owners.

Cheers to our dear friends who gave us the African cookbook, our fabulous friends who sought out Ethiopian honey wine and found it as well as an entire family to get to know, and of course, cheers to the new year!

An Ethiopian feast

Our first kiss of 2008!
(Yes, that is Dick Clark on the TV in the background!)

Amazing hot chocolate sticks dipped in warm milk for dessert....mmm good!

What would new years eve be without sledding? Nothing could keep our boys from testing out 6 fresh inches of powder on our 6 foot sledding hill...I think someone's looking forward to being a daddy and having an excuse to go sledding again!

Here he is climbing the hill
(Yes, that is a cardboard box he's using as a sled)

Now prepping for the big slide

Down, down, and away!!!

Ok, I eventually joined in on the fun...