Friday, June 29, 2007

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Adoption news: Our insurance letter was not notarized in the right way for the state of California to approve it. Though we don't live in California, our insurance company is based there, so they have to notarize things according to state regulations. And ours wasn't done properly. This letter is becoming as troublesome as my medical form.

Oh well, it shouldn't set us back any though, since our home study is still being proofed, and INS in Oregon won't call us in to be fingerprinted until it's been received. One day, it'll all be done.

In the meantime...

As a follow-up to our favorite non-cuss words post: the writers of this commercial trump us all. It was the funniest thing I encountered yesterday, and let me tell ya, with the minute-by-minute hilarity that is our life, that's saying a lot.

"Who are you calling a cootie-queen, you lint-licker?"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer sighs.

Both of us are sleep-deprived today. This is a regular occurrence in my life but not usually in Ted's. We both got in bed by 11:30--Ted was working the New York Times crossword puzzle while I was reading more of One Year Off by David Elliot Cohen about a couple who sell everything to take their three kids around the world for a year. It's good reading, and I recommend it (if you can get past the author being a bit hoity-toity ...or maybe it just bothers me).

There were fresh, clean sheets on the bed, air-conditioner on full-blast, ear-plugs installed firmly in my ears, and oncoming drowsiness induced by the book and time of day. I drifted off even with Ted's lamp still on. After a few moments, I felt a jabbing in the tenderest part of my side. It was Bang Bang wanting to sleep on me, despite having his pick of any number of cozy spots on our California-king size bed. He has quite a knack at finding the most sensitive part of our sides to jamb his paw into when he's settling in for the night.

I pushed him away and tried to go back to sleep. He was having none of it. When Bang Bang sets his mind on something, there's no deterring him, just like the time he tried to escape from being locked in the attic by ramming the door open with his face. Ted eventually turned his light off, and the battle for my side of the bed continued. I pushed Bang Bang away countless times, and Ted did his best to pull him away from my side as well. This went on for at least an hour. You may ask why we don't just shut the cats out of our room at night: because they, especially Bang Bang, claw, cry, and scratch at the door making it impossible to sleep. At least if they're in the room with us, they'll settle down somewhere on the bed and sleep too. I guess this is our way of trying out "attachment parenting," which some of our friends are big proponents of.

After some time, I heard Ted get up and go downstairs. I thought I'd still be able to go to sleep, so I turned on my left side while Bang Bang promptly nestled himself into the space behind my knees, satisfied at last.

Then I couldn't fall asleep. I got up eventually and found Ted writing emails at the computer. It was 2:20 am. Ted never has this much trouble sleeping. I went to the guest bed downstairs so that he could sleep not having to worry about waking me up, free to move around as much as he needed to.

I know that I slept eventually because I woke up in the morning. I couldn't have fallen asleep before 4:00 am though, which I thought was bad until Ted told me that he was up until 5:00. He'd gone back upstairs and worked more of the crossword puzzle, just not sleepy. Weird. He thinks it may have been the four shots of espresso he had yesterday.

So today is a hazy day. Ted's building railing on the deck, and I'm cooking pots of jambalaya and turnip greens. Ted's dad is coming over to eat dinner, something he sometimes puts up a fuss about, sometimes even saying, "Oh don't want any of your g*d*mn southern cooking!" When I told him two weeks ago that our friends Banyon and Melissa moved up to Oregon from Mississippi, he said, "Who do you people think you are, trying to take over our state with your backwood ways?!"

Ed's pretty good at pretending to be a curmudgeon. It's going to be an interesting two weeks in Ireland with him later this summer. I'm looking forward to observing Irish Ed in the homeland. He's going to so quickly fit in at the local pub, amidst the locals over pints of Guiness.

I did talk to our social worker today about the status of our homestudy. There had been a bit of confusion (on our part) about who actually proofs it, so we'd been thinking that Gladney currently had it. I called Gladney this morning to ask how the proofing is going, and our case worker knew nothing about it. After a very slight panic, I talked to our social worker who explained that, no, our home study agency has been proofing it for the last couple of days and that when they're done, Gladney can proof it.

Whew. That's a heck of a lot of proofing going on. It should be worthy of a Pulitzer by the time everyone's done with the thing.

As I was writing this, our social worker called to get the email for our Gladney caseworker so she could send it there. Yay. So it's officially off to Gladney, as of about a minute and a half ago.

Getting these final things done has really been feeling like it's dragging on. It felt strange to put our final envelope in the mail last week (extra passport photos), knowing this envelope is most likely the last one we have to mail. Now we're just waiting for our homestudy and dossier to be finished, both of which are out of our hands.

In the meantime, we're building our deck, forcing yankee relatives to eat southern cooking, taking our cats for walks at night (yes, it's true--all three go for nightly walks with us around the block--how awesome is that?), sleeping when we're able to, working crossword puzzles, reading good books, being inspired by pictures like this, and watching Oregon berries grow, like this one in our back yard.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I'm sure most people reading this blog have already seen this popular clip, but here it is anyway. It's a little girl figuring out why mom is laughing at her use of the word "ask," illustrating perfectly the need to censor our cuss-words in front of kids.

We've had a hard time deciding on a winner for this competition. There are so many good ones. "God bless America" reminds me of how my Granny and her sister, who we all call "Sister" despite her being our aunt, both say "Well,
misery" in this long, drawn-out way. They also both say "Land forever!" I have no idea what that means, but they say it all the time.

I had been leaning towards "fart-hole" until Ted pointed out that one might not want their kid saying this. I also really like "son of a chicken liver" and "go blow it out your foot." I've actually already said the latter once this weekend. Ted really liked "farfegnugen" but we both admitted that it's sort of hard to pronounce, especially in a pinch when something else might slip out more easily.

"Piles of arse" is wonderful, reminds me of pirates and could give a nice, satisfactory "aaarrrr" sound.

The winner though, for being a nice combination of wholesome and nasty, and something we wouldn't mind our kids saying is: Apple-fart. Great job on that one, Rusty. It's especially funny if you are able to conjure up a mental picture of an actual pretty red apple letting one rip. How wonderful would it be if each time you pulled the stem out, the apple would let one out? As Ted says, "It's like the stem was holding the fart in and we get to uncork it." (one thing any Rooney kids will never miss out on is indulgence in bathroom humor--at least at home. Don't worry: we plan on teaching them how to behave in public. You can still invite us over for dinner, really. But come on--who of you who has seen Robots didn't laugh at Aunt Fanny?).

This is what Ted was doing with that wig. We have entirely too much time on our hands, people.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Favorite non-cuss words

The adoption process is a test of patience. So many lovely adoptive parents who normally don't cuss are stretched to the limit and often tempted to let out a full-flowing stream of their favorite words. I know I've done it, especially after the incident with the nurse. Here, Ted is recreating my face after getting off the phone with the nurse.

So it got me thinking: what are people's favorite non-cuss words, the words and phrases they use to blow off steam while in the presence of small children?

Ted's is "Jiminy Christmas." Mine is "Dadgumit or "dadgummit all to the pits of hell!" if it's especially bad, but both of these sound pretty boring. A couple of Yankee pals in Slovakia used to make fun of my frequent use of "dadgummit," but I don't remember them offering any better alternatives.

Here, Ted expresses physical pain (this is some high quality acting you're seeing here, people).

So what do you think? Got any alternatives for me? Leave your favorite non-cuss word and/or expression of disgust/anger/pain in a comment. Maybe you'll even get a prize.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ethiopian cuteness

Our social worker actually thanked me for calling her today. As the mom of eight kids, all of whom are adopted, she said she can understand our eagerness to have the home study finished. I tried telling her that I'm not really as anxious about it as she thought, especially since we still have those two documents hanging out there. She said she's planning on working on our study tomorrow by the light of a small reading lamp during her daughter's dance recital practice, which apparently is in the dark. She hopes to have it done by the end of the week, even told me to call her then to see how it's going.

One of those documents is from our insurance company. Kate (of our dossier service) gave us the exact format the letter should be in, written in third person: "This is to certify that any dependent of Ted and Lori will be covered by their insurance...blah blah blah." The person we talked to at the company said it would be written just like that. Today we got in the notarized letter in the mail, all with the right words, except written in second-person: "This is to certify that any dependent of yours will be...blah blah blah." We're hoping it won't be a problem. Wouldn't that be something: sorry guys, you don't get a child since that insurance letter wasn't written in the right case.

Our friend
Jill brought up today how cute all the Ethiopian kids are that she's seen. True dat. I offer proof by clicking here. Just wanted to pass along the link for a few moments of sighing at all the cuteness. Check out Owen Yosef, Amara, and the twins Zamara and Zayna. Oh my. How bad is it to pick favorites?

And yes, Neola, let's go get some tots!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Throw-away day.

Is any day a true cast-off? Today felt like one. We woke up this morning to a river in the basement due to the water heater bursting at some point during the night. Thank goodness we have a drain down there or the whole basement would have flooded. So Ted has spent the day shopping for a new heater, carting it home, and installing it. When he was dropping me off at the gym before another run to Home Depot, I asked him, "So where did you learn to install a water heater?"

"Well, I've installed a washing machine and I've installed a gas stove, so since a heater is a combination of plumbing and gas hook-up...."

"So you've never actually installed one before?"


But it's going well. I'm continually amazed at the skills Ted has picked up through the years. As I write this, it's all hooked up but there's a snag in getting the pilot light lit, so until then, no hot showers yet. At least we can always go to our 24-hour gym if we get desperate enough for a shower. I am starting to feel a bit funky.

Other than that, random things have been going on. I've been reading All Over But The Shoutin' by Rick Bragg, recommended to me by my friend Angela in Mississippi who called today to let me know that Dave, her husband, just got the job of Honors College Dean at the university there, so as Angela said, "Now I can quit my night shift at the Value-Barn and Dave says I can go get me a second pair of shoes."

I also found another adoption blog that I really really like, really. It's currently the first link under my blogs section.

Nothing to report yet about the homestudy. I haven't called our social worker yet to check up on things, though I may tomorrow. Our agency recommends doing that, just to stay on top of everything. I'm hoping it's all going well.

Lastly, I learned how to post videos to the blog, finally. It really wasn't that complicated...thanks for the blogging lesson Humphrey.

For your enjoyment, and proof of what I learned to do today, here's a video. It's not just another silly kitty video, I promise. It gets more absurd and more funny as it goes. Oh, and he has his own blog too, but he's currently having surgery to have a string that he'd eaten removed from his little kitty gullet. I'm sending good vibes his way. Boy, do we know about pet surgeries...that's a blog for another day.

Update: We have hot water! Ted succeeded. I'm just waiting now for the day when he breaks out his awesome nunchuck, bow-hunting, and computer-hacking skills...a man's gotta have skills.

And the really cool thing about the whole hot-water fiasco today is that we made the switch from an electric heater to a more energy-efficient gas one. And can you guess who managed to pull that one off? You got it, my very own man with skills. The basement wasn't wired for gas, but Ted got all the tubing figured out, at least eight connections, which he checked for leaks and everything. Sigh, my hero. No leaky gas in this least in the basement, hardy har har.

And in celebration of the hot shower I'm now going to take, here is a clip from Flight of the Conchords, my new favorite comedy folk band. "I'm not crying'-- my eyes are just a little sweaty today."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Planet Hollywood

I recently found out through our friend Rusty's online movie "prejudgments" that the film 1408 is being released this summer. This isn't normally the type of movie that I'd go see, since the older I've gotten, the more nightmares I tend to get by watching anything scary, creepy, or dark. I'm fine if I watch a dark movie early enough in the day to block enough of it out by bedtime, but occasionally if I end up watching anything too intense too late in the day, I'll have horrible nightmares.

So while I don't necessarily plan on seeing 1408, I am interested in it because of the role it played in delaying our honeymoon in Ireland by a week. A couple of weeks before we were set to leave, Ted booked the role of "Kevin O'Maley" in a 'test film' for a studio. The deal was that this production company had greenlighted this film, based on a short story by Steven King, but they were undecided on who they should hire to direct it. There was this young director who wanted to do it, but he'd only directed music videos up until that point. The studio wasn't willing to give him full control of the film until he'd proven what he could do as a director.

So, they hired him to direct a 15 minute excerpt from the screenplay in order for him to show them his stuff. What's amazing to me is how much money they threw his way, just for a test. While I'm not an expert on these things, it really seemed like he got the full carte blanch for his fifteen minutes. I know this because Ted got paid his quote and I got to sample the yummy victuals from the craft services. That's some good food let me tell ya, one of the few things I really liked about living in Los Angeles.

Because Ted was getting paid decently for this and because we thought maybe there was a chance he'd get hired for the actual film, we decided that it was worth it to put off our honeymoon by a week. Being new to Los Angeles and especially to "the industry," I was interested in visiting the set too, though I seem to have chosen the wrong day to visit. Earlier in the week, as Ted was leaving the studio, he noticed this woman digging through a garbage bin, pulling out chunks of styrofoam and talking to a little Asian boy about his day at preschool. Yes, it was Angelina herself with Maddox. I guess the stars really are like us, just as People magazine tries to convince us of each week (though I'm not sure I ever have or ever will dig through a dumpster for styrofoam while talking about preschool).

I showed up on the set around lunchtime and walked around the sound-stage looking for Ted. A grip could see I was a bit lost and asked if I needed help. When I told him who I was looking for, he said, "Oh, the monster--sure, he's in his dressing room." It's always nice to hear someone refer to your newlywed husband as "the monster." So I went to his room and was genuinely shocked at what I found. Here's a picture of Ted, taken earlier in the day, getting his make-up touched up before filming:

There's the hottie I'd married a month before. I wish you could see his fingernails better here. It was the grossest thing about the whole make-up job. Apparently the story with Mr. Kevin O'Maley is that he'd killed himself in room 1408 and exists now as a ghost, living mostly in the air vents, which is why he's a tad moldy and covered in so much dust. Here's another photo, this one of Ted enjoying his dessert. The guy in the red shirt is the talented make-up artist.

I was genuinely weirded out eating lunch with Kevin O'Maley. I'd try to look mostly at my plate. These pictures don't accurately show the layers of mold on my husbands face, neck, hands, and even teeth (they had to do a fair amount of touching up after lunch).

I decided to stick around to watch the next and final scene being filmed and got my first taste of how awkward it is as an observer on set. You feel like you're constantly in the way, no matter how friendly everyone is or even if they've given you your own chair to sit in. I also got my first taste of how boring it usually is on set. You just do a lot of sitting around reading or doing crossword puzzles. Lastly, I got my first taste of how long the days can be on set. The idea with me coming to have lunch that day was that there was only one more scene to film in the afternoon, and then the whole thing would be wrapped. Since we were sharing a car at the time, I was also there to pick Ted up at the end of his work day.

That work day stretched until after midnight, the night before we were scheduled to leave for our honeymoon. In that final scene they were filming, the guy in the main role (which ended up going to John Cusack) decides to crawl into the air vent to prove the non-existence of this ghost. As he's crawling through it, he looks down into a room through a vent and then up again to find the ghost face to face with him before disappearing.

Ted was put on a small skateboard-type contraption on his stomach in the even bigger contraption they were using to film the inside of the vent so that when the main character looked up and saw the ghost face to face with him, Ted could be quickly pulled backwards with a rope and thus "disappear." You can see the final version of this scene that ended up being used in the film in the trailer. Even though it was pretty boring most of the time watching the first version of this scene being filmed with Ted, it genuinely looked pretty scary when they played it back on the monitor.

The production team knew that we had put off our honeymoon by a week and that we were leaving the next day, so as a thank-you, they paid the change fee of our plane tickets and gave Ted this really expensive bottle of scotch. It was nice of them.

So why didn't Ted end up being Kevin O'Maley in the final version of the film? Who knows? It was another realization for me about how Hollywood works: you never count on anything "until the check's in the mail," as Ted says. We do know that the young director who worked with Ted didn't end up getting hired by the studio, though I'm sure the studio honchos were really nice about it, letting him down easy. Everyone in Hollywood loves ya babe, with a big smile, so no hard feelings. Hey, the director got paid too, and I hope he's still doing at least music videos. We thought he did an awesome job on the 15 minutes he shot of 1408.

Here's a final picture of Ted on set, getting his nails inspected, my very own Monster.

The trailer to the theatrical release of 1408 can be seen here. If you have young kids at home, just a warning: the trailer is surprisingly frightening, despite it being approved for viewing by "all ages."

And no, Ted's feelings weren't hurt by not getting cast in the final version of the film. I believe that the reason Ted has lasted so long in the job he has is because he refuses to take anything personally. He just goes to work, which he sees as auditioning. If he books a job, then that's extra credit. He doesn't tell anyone at all (sometimes not even me) about his auditions because when an actor does this, he's setting himself up for the inevitable letdown of telling well-meaning friends over and over, "No, I didn't get it." Actors don't book 90+ percent of the jobs they audition for, and it becomes psychologically damaging to think too much about all the work they're not getting.
On the adoption front: Our friends Jim and Rusty (thanks, guys!) have both mailed in their notarized letters for our dossier, and we're sure the third will go off soon.

On Monday night, I found out that a lady at our small group is a CPA, so she's working on that final financial form for us as we speak. Then that's it people. Job done.

Our social worker should be finishing up her report and sending it in to CIS, at which point they call us in for fingerprinting. Then the whole thing goes off to Kate and we wait and wait and wait.

In the meantime, we're getting ready for our trip to Ireland with our dads by going to see Once tomorrow with my father-in-law. We're also listening to this song, just because it's funny (thanks, Debra, for turning us on to Flight of the Conchords!). I think anyone married for longer than a year can appreciate it (or c'mon, maybe six months...).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Death, mystery, bravery.

When I was younger and even up until the time I was engaged, I did a fair amount of thinking about death. It's not as morbid as it sounds. I thought about it in a healthy way, a way that Rich Mullins described once by saying something about how good it can be to live your life with a "healthy appreciation of death." I wish I could find the exact quote, but when I first read it, I remember thinking how much sense that made to me. I'd always thought that if we were daily aware of each of our impending deaths, it may compel us to really 'seize the day' (and yes I still really like Dead Poets Society, always one of my favorite movies, as corny as it may be).

It's easy to think sort of fantastically about death when you're young, before you've really experienced much grief. I can remember conversations with friends where I'd say a bit proudly that I wasn't afraid of death, that it was even something I looked forward to because I'd get to experience heaven. My Grandaddy died in January 2001 and that fall, I re-read The Last Battle, the final book in the Narnia series, and I sat there at my tiny kitchen table awe-struck at the possibility of what heaven might be like. I remember even praying that it would be like it's described in this book, telling God that this is how I think it should be. I got really excited about seeing Grandaddy again, along with Rich Mullins and a few other of my heroes. Maybe we'd even pack a picnic lunch and cross over to the further hill to go visit Reepicheep and Puddleglum.

Even now writing this, I get teary thinking about that last chapter in The Last Battle.

I've noticed in the last few years that I have a certain...anxiety about death. Last year, Ted dropped a bombshell on me one Sunday morning right before church. He told me that he'd been having a strange pain for several weeks right behind his left ear and that he'd even seen a doctor about it who wanted him to have further tests run. I'm not sure how to describe the feeling this news gave me; suffice it to say, I barely held it together during church. For the next several days, I couldn't stop looking at Ted. I couldn't stop imagining my life without him. We talked a good bit during those few days about life and death and human frailty. Just like that we could be gone.

It turned out to be nothing but a pinched nerve in his head. It eventually went away. The doctor said he gets patients regularly with a similar pain who think they're dying of brain tumors. We were some of them. Joke's on us, I guess.

That experience got me thinking more about death though. I don't like the idea of it as much these days. When I was younger, there was something that felt glorious about it in the safety of how far away I believed it to be for me. I could voluntarily bring a certain reality of it up close and personal to me because it didn't feel real, not in the grief and pain of it. I'd just associated it up until then with the glory of heaven, a good thing. But when I was faced with the possibility of being a 30-year-old widow (albeit only four days of wondering), with so many unfulfilled things in our lives, death regained its sting.

This morning at our church, the guy who gave the message was talking about fear. His main idea was that there was no way to intellectually keep our fears at bay. The only way to overcome fear is to bring it to that gut level at which we feel it and allow Jesus to comfort us. As he said, our holy fear of God trumps any earthly fears. He even asked us to close our eyes and think about our biggest fear, bringing it to the gut level and letting God in to be the Comforter. I didn't participate. It's not that I don't think it's a valuable exercise, it's just that I wasn't sure what would happen if I did this during church. Would I end up curled up in a ball underneath a pew?

He, the speaker at church, shared that his biggest fear was of death, that he'd been run over by a car at age 17 and gripped by a fear that there was no heaven as he laid there under the car looking up at the muffler. I thought it was brave and honest of him to admit this, especially as a pastor who's supposed to have it all together.

The church was dimly lit, and we were sitting near the back, and the band started singing this old hymn, "Jesus Savior, Pilot Me" and I was overcome by sadness. I got caught up in this swirl of thoughts about situations around me full of heart-break and grief. I thought of the sweet young mother of two toddlers whose husband just walked out on her and who is left desperate and broken. I thought of close relatives who are bearing the weight of broken trust. I thought of Ted's dad, whom I have quite a soft spot for, who jokes continuously about his death as a way with dealing with its reality but who believes there's nothing at the end. I thought about the dream I had last night about my little brother when he was two and so goofy and so lovely.

I also thought about the conversation I had yesterday with a brother-in-law about the many mysteries in life, the desire and waiting and confusion in the unknown. We talked about his job as a nurse and the difficulty some of his terminal patients have in not knowing the cause of their illness, how hard it is not to know the name of the monster that's killing them. He encouraged me in this process we're in now in forming our family, and we talked through occasional tears about the mystery: the mystery of what happens when our dossier is mailed off and the mystery of why two completely healthy people whose countless medical tests are nothing but the healthiest of healthy aren't swimming in babies already. And we talked about the letting go that parents go through and the satisfaction and joy that comes when our kids "have what it takes in the clutch."

So I sat there during the hymn with all these thoughts swirling, in the service but a bit out of it too. When this verse was sung, I heard it through the ears of all the people who were swirling in my mind:
Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

I wondered if the broken around me believe that Jesus will pilot them. I wondered if they have lost all faith during their grief. My heart broke for a man who doesn't even recognize his need, who has no desire to meet his Pilot when he "crosses the bar."

And then I thought of myself, the fears that are so real sometimes, the fear of not being able to mother, that the tenderest man I know will only be looked up to by nieces and nephews and not his own children, the fear of writing all this down, the fear of being judged for wavering faith...

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey Thy will,
When Thou sayest to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

More than anything, there's a fear of a life not well-lived, a safe life free of risks, free of pain, free of the moments in the clutch that require courage. That's my biggest fear. Ted made the comment during the last episode of Lost, when Charlie daringly saves the day because he knows this is his moment to die, "It's amazing what someone will do when they have no fear of death." Exactly.

We really are all going to die. What will I do with the time I have? Will I live courageously, knowing that any safe nest I build for myself here on Earth is going to end one day? Can I bravely bring myself close to the pain of the grieving and broken around me? Do I have what it takes to live self-sacrificially? Can I see beyond myself, my desires and my fears?
I wanted this song sung at our wedding, just because it means so much to me, but Ted rightly pointed out that some might see it as more of a funeral song than a wedding song. So for at least one of my life's ceremonies, I hope to have it played. It's my reminder of God rescuing me, empowering me to live that fabled "life less ordinary." It makes me realize that having fears is okay, as long as I allow God in. He's the brave one. I just let Him carry me through the mystery.

What I'd have settled for
You've blown so far away
What You brought me to
I thought I could not reach
And I came so close to giving up
But You never did give up on me
I see the morning moving over the hills
I feel the rush of life here where the darkness broke
And I am in You and You're in me
Here where the winds of Heaven blow
--from "Home" by Rich Mullins

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The extended stretch

Boring paperwork updates ahead for anyone interested:

Tomorrow morning, we're mailing off a big ole packet of stuff to Kate, after getting it all notarized at the bank. Included in this packet are our FBI fingerprints, our letter of why we want to adopt, Ted's updated medical form, my home-maker letter, a bunch of new pictures of the house, and the letter from the bank.

Ted ended up getting the bank letter by going to a different branch, actually one of those rinky-dinky ones that are part of a larger one-stop-shop store. They did it with virtually no problem. The only snag was that they couldn't notarize the actual letter, but rather had to attach a separate page to the letter, which they could notarize. I don't understand why, but Kate said it's fine. The lady who did our letter today did exactly what the lady at the other branch said the bank couldn't do, on several points.

I'm always amazed at how little you could get done in life if you merely accepted the first answer you get from some official. I remember trying to mail a package that I'd wrapped up in the classifieds and being sent away with instructions to repack it in a solid color. They even told me the number of the postal violation this was. So I drove to another post office branch, actually a larger one, and they mailed it exactly as I'd first wrapped it, no problem.

Now there's a hand-full of things we're waiting on, like those three letters of reference. We also have to get a financial statement from a c.p.a. next week and get a couple of more passport photos made. Then when our home-study is finished, it's sent to the CIS office, and they'll call us in to get fingerprinted.

So, mailing this packet off tomorrow will be a big burden lifted, though there's still a few things hanging out there. It's coming along.

Thanks for all the encouragement, those of you who've commented on this blog and talked to us in "real life." It means a lot.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The home stretch of the paper chase

As we were gathering together our stack of papers into yet another pile, this time to be notarized, I reminded myself that when we get this final pile off, that's it, we're done. Well, as long as all the papers are done right. This last pile goes to Kate in NYC who will add them to our home study, as soon as Cindy finishes that. Then Kate begins the mysterious process of authenticating everything before sending it off to Ethiopia.

It's an awesome feeling to know that this last list is the last bit of the paperwork. Pretty amazing.

We did find out today that now Ted has to go back to his doctor. According the Kate, his form had too much information, due to the sentence, "Patient reports a history of hsp." It took us a while to figure out what that even meant and why she'd write it there. Ted remembered that, while he was getting this form done, he'd get a new prescription for his zovorac, which controls the fever blisters he occasionally gets, as do several other of the Rooney siblings. The doctor decides to write that on the official form that goes to the foreign government. Why would she do this? So Kate sent it back saying that the powers that be might possibly look at that and wonder what creepy communicable disease 'hsv' is and say, "nope, no kid for you!"

Other than that form, we've also written our official letter to the Ethiopian government, stating why we want to adopt and how we'll be good parents. Three of our friends/family are (hopefully) working on those final letters of reference too.

We did run into another snag today when our bank wouldn't give us a statement saying that we are customers in good standing (which we are). They just don't do this, the lady said. Apparently, she did one herself sort of on the sly for another couple needing this statement for an adoption, but the complication for us came with ours needing to notarized. Our bank is extremely hesitant to notarize much of anything, so when she called the big bosses to ask about notarizing this, they said just not to do it at all. Thanks a lot.

And here's the big difference between Ted and me. When I hear about this snag, I get frustrated, wanting to wring someone's neck. Ted just shrugs and walks out of the bank, figuring that here's another problem to solve, in good faith that it'll get done eventually, somehow. One of the dearest traits passed down to Ted by his mother is this attitude of "Where there's a will, there's a way." With nine kids to raise, his mom's "can-do" attitude is probably the only way anything at all got accomplished.

Prime example: Fred Meyer has vanilla ice cream on sale, limit two per customer. Mom leaves a note with instructions for each kid: upon getting home from school, take this money and go buy two cartons, making sure not to go all at once, but to spread themselves out. So by the time the store closes, the Rooney freezer is stocked with a solid 18 cartons of ice cream.

My favorite example: Towards the end of her life, Ted's mom is living in a house with no basement. She decides to crawl under the house with a shovel and start digging. She loads up her truck and drives away each pile of dirt. As soon as she's dug enough to stand upright, the digging gets faster, let me tell ya. She eventually has dug a complete basement and has an apartment built in the void, which she rents out for the extra income. Oh, and she did all of this while going through cancer treatments. Ted says that by the end of it, she was completely buffed.

I want to check family photos for how long her ring finger was. One of the saddest things in my life is that I never got to meet Dolores.
So here we are nearing the infamous waiting period. I've heard it's no fun. I'm just hoping our travel plans this summer and various visitors to our home will keep my mind occupied. With my 11-year-old niece Lauren coming for two weeks, a trip to Miami for Rusty and Carrie's wedding, an Irish couple staying in our house for our two week home exchange, a trip with both our dads to Ireland, a friend from Seattle crashing with us during her vegan cooking course, and our niece Rachel's wedding, I think enough will be going on this summer.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

I may never win a marathon.

It's hot today in Portland. I opened the door this morning, and Mississippi came rushing in the front door. Ah, reminds me of our wedding day (those of you who were there will know what I'm talking about--when is it 103 degrees in the northwest?!).

Last night, I couldn't sleep. I made an interesting discovery about how my generic "pain relief pm" works. I took it last night and felt the effects within about twenty minutes, which lasted about an hour and then wore off. I guess most people who take it fall asleep in that hour (prescription sleep aids have time-releasers, I think). I never fell asleep; I just felt drugged and loopy. After an hour or so, the buzzy, drugged feeling had worn off, and I just laid there not sleeping. Chitty was in bed with us, and wanted to snuggle me, oddly enough. I couldn't take it, so at 3:18 am, I got up and went downstairs to the guest bed where I immediately fell asleep. All the conditions upstairs had even been right: earplugs securely fastened, air conditioning and fan on, head-to-toe positioning (though I did have to ask Ted to stop kicking my pillow when he was trying to make room for Chitty at his feet/my head). I'm baffled why I couldn't drop off. Ted blames it on Chitty.

Despite the heat and bad night of sleep, I decided that today would be a good day to go running/walking. Really though, who am I kidding? I ran maybe a third of a mile down a hill and then in sort of spastic spurts whenever I could find shade the rest of the walk. I was inspired yesterday when I read about these women in Health magazine saying that they'd never been runners their whole lives, but now they just finished a half-marathon. One woman in particular made the point, "You don't have to be an athlete to be a runner." Well, crappy crap crap, why'd she have to go and say that?

I need a partner in this, I feel it. My ipod tunes like "Blue Orchid," "Move it," and "Whomp! There it is!" just aren't cutting it enough. Any non-athlete Portlanders out there who'd like a partner to try to work up to running...let's keep it simple...half a mile, let me know. Just so you know, I can do the quarter/third mile down hill, so I don't need anyone to drag me down, alright? You've gotta be able to do at least that. And if you can run that much up hill, well then forget it: you're way far ahead of me.

I just read another article in Health which said that there's a correlation between athletic ability and having a long ring finger, specifically a ring finger longer than your index finger. What tha? I checked. Crap. My index finger is way longer than my ring finger. When Ted got home from winning three basketball games against a bunch of 20-year-old hot-shots, I checked his fingers: he's got the golden ticket. It makes me want to start checking people's fingers now, specifically any potential running partner.

A woman had written into Health, saying that she didn't start running until she was 42 and has placed in her age bracket in every marathon she's run since then (she's now 63). She finished her letter gleefully saying that her index finger is shorter than her ring finger. Augh! Stupid old lady.

So what? The cards are stacked against me? I can work to be thin, but I'll never be able to catch a ball? I can maybe finish a half-marathon heaving through pain but never place in my age bracket (or c'mon, Gods of Athletics and Finger-lengths...please, just a 5k)?

My fingers:

Ted's fingers:
Oh yeah, this blog is about our adoption, right?

The social worker came Friday at 9:30 and left four hours later, right on schedule. She was great, very laid-back just like she sounded on the phone. She asked us questions about our childhoods and upbringing, things our families like to do growing up, our education and goals for the next five years. My favorite question was probably about what values we want to pass on to our kids. We've both thought about that one a lot, so it was actually sort of fun to talk about it. She has eight kids of her own, and it seemed that our parenting style might be similar to hers.

Before she left, she a quick look around the house and said she'd try to have it done in two weeks. In the meantime, we'll work on notarizing things.

And I woke up the other morning thinking about wanting to clarify why our process is a little more complicated than most. One reason, probably the biggest, is that our adoption agency is in a different state from our home study agency. Our home study agency is also an adoption agency, so we had to fill out all their adoption paperwork as well, even though we're not adopting through them; they're just taking care of our home study.

Also complicating matters is the fact of Ted's job as an actor. He's unemployed most of the time, so how do you explain that to a foreign government who wants you to prove that you'll be able to provide financial security for a child? It can be done, but it just isn't as easy as 1-2-3, fill out this form, wham blam, you're done.

So any readers who are reading this blog and considering adoption, please don't be put off by my occasional belly-aching about the process. There's a good chance your adoption might not be as complicated as ours, especially if your agency is in the same state you live in.

Oh, and good news: we found out from Kate in NYC, that Gladney can send straight to her some of our already-notarized forms, like our medical forms. So I don't have to go back to the doctor. I was pretty happy about that.

Now, time to go see my other boyfriend, Will Ferrel, in Blades of Glory at the Kennedy School.