Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween 2010--

Chloe, as Jang*o F*ett, and Oliver, as a park ranger (who refuses to sit still).

We had some lovely fall weather in NJ until Halloween. Right around the time all the trick or treaters prepared to go out, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped into the 40s.

People with children trick or treat early in our area. We're talking come home from church and put on the Halloween costumes and head out kind of early. By the time we made it out the door at 3:30 p.m., there were probably 40-50 kids going house to house on our street alone.

We formed our own pack of tiny goblins with our friends who live a few streets over. Others joined in on the fun and we soon had a small pack of children swarming like bees. After filling her bucket, Chloe moved on to Oliver's pail (he stayed in the stroller--it was too cold to let him run free in his park ranger outfit). After 2 hours of trick or treating, we called it a day and went to attend to our own door.

As it turns out, we had relatively few visitors. The young children were out early in the day and we missed giving out candy to them. Our visitors were middle-school children who threw on whatever they could make into a costume. They run in packs of 10-20, so we had two groups of visitors, totallying only 30 kids all night. Of course, we could have had more, once the World Series game came on and the kids were asleep in their beds, I placed the bowl outside our door as to not be disturbed.

We hope you all had a happy halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Halloween Parade

I remember last year's Halloween parade at Chloe's elementary school. I kept thinking to myself that I would have two children at the 2010 parade. Oliver would be in a stroller, wearing the pumpkin costume I had already purchased for him while watching his sister parade by as the Statue of Liberty or Supergirl.

Well, this year wasn't exactly what I imagined, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. My kids are their own people and they definitely like to show it.

Here's our boy---Yes, yes, he's in a stroller but not in his pumpkin costume. He's not going as a pumpkin this year (Daddy nixed the pumpkin---he told me Oliver would never forgive me) but as a Grand Canyon Park Ranger. It was drizzling and cold, so I didn't want to put him in his costume.



As with all good intentions, the parade was to start at 1:45 p.m. but there was some scrambling because of the cold and wet weather and the parade was delayed by about 20 minutes. We had arrived early to get a good spot to take photographs of the parade (but got pushed out by two moms who showed up late--thanks) but with the late start, Oliver had had enough of sitting and waiting and looking at people pile up and line up around the school. He didn't care if it was 50 degrees and raining, he wasn't going to wear his shoes. No way, no how. After about 6 attempts at putting his shoes and socks back on him, I gave up. Oliver remained in his stroller the rest of the parade like this---




And as for Chloe, she was the star of the show for us. I had to do some manuevering to take a shot of her in the actual parade---

but I got one. And, no she's not the Statue of Liberty, a princess or Supergirl. She's this guy---


She couldn't wear her helmet and other accesories because masks weren't allowed at school. After the parade, we made our way to the field for group photos. It was actually pretty easy to get a group shot of Chloe's class because all the kids were watching and laughing at a 16-month old boy in a red stroller, waving his socks and throwing his shoes, letting out shrieks and screams that could pierce your eardrums. A special thanks goes out to Oliver for making the group photo a pretty easy and quick event.
Chloe's 1st grade class
I also got some photos with Chloe and some of her favorite pals in class. Chloe's best friend in class is dressed as the vampire. Her other best pal in class is the construction worker (in the above photo). Two guesses as to what she wants to be for Halloween next year?



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin=Ball

What does fall mean to Oliver? Well, it means everyone in the neighborhood, including us, have decorated their front steps with his favorite toy...a ball. I'm spending a lot of time lately trying to convince a 16-month old that a pumpkin is NOT a ball. Sure, its round and looks like a ball, but it goes splat when you try to pick it up and throw it. Its just not the ideal choice for playing catch.

So far, he's not convinced and several pumpkins have met their untimely demise at his cute little hands. Case in point...



Alas, the pumpkin lost its stem but was still in one piece. Hurry Mommy, put it back on the steps like nothing happened before Chloe finds out another pumpkin has been ruined in the great pumpkin/ball debate. Its just too bad Oliver didn't play along and leave well enough alone....



Oliver won't believe me. He keeps insisting its a ball. He's determined to kick it and make it bounce. Unfortunately, big sister has discovered her pumpkin is not as she left it....



I can't wait until trick or treating on Halloween. If you see abused and broken pumpkins littering people's doorsteps then you know Oliver was there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo Shoot

This may be giving too much away, but I had the children's photos taken yesterday by a professional photographer. I have two sneak peek photos. I'm keeping the others under wraps because one is going on our annual Christmas card and the others will be framed and sent to the grandparents as Christmas presents.

I didn't want to go to a studio for the photos. I wanted photos taken outside that would capture the kids personalities. I don't know why I thought this would be an easy task. Oliver is walking now and into everything. Last time I had Chloe and Oliver's photos taken, Oliver wasn't walking, or crawling for that matter. That was easy. Yesterday we took the photos at a nearby county park. There were deer to see, geese to chase, rocks to put in our mouth and acorns and sticks to pick up. Sitting nicely for a portrait wasn't priority one for Oliver. Chloe, on the other hand, was fantastic.

We spent 1 hour and 45 minutes taking photos. Our photographer assured me she got some good photos of Oliver. I think that is why she sent me this photo of him, as reassurance.
I am pretty sure that photo was taken towards the end of the shoot, when Oliver had worn himself out. He spent most of the time playing chase. As in we chased him down while he chased geese. The photo shoot also required an immediate bath before dinner. To put it delicately, someone stepped in a lot of goose poo, which then got over their pants, etc., etc., etc. Lets just say it won't be a photo shoot I or our photographer forgets easily.

I love this one of Chloe. I love that you can see her missing teeth and the playfulness and joyfulness she exudes. I can't wait for the rest of the photos and to create our Christmas cards!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Teething

Please, Oliver, can you stop biting the coffee table!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Someone Really Does Like...

Fig Ne*wtons.





He doesn't sign that he wants more. He just goes to the pantry and pulls out the box. Apparently, even the box is yummy too.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Would You Believe We've Been Waiting 4 Years?

Today marks 4 years since our dossier was logged into China for what we assumed at the time would be our second adoption. Four years later, we still wait. Currently China has referred through May 18,2006. We expect to wait another 1.5-2 years before referral.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Day at the Pumpkin Patch

Our "pumpkin people" in front of our house--that's Matt, me, Oliver & Chloe in pumpkin form.

Happy Columbus Day! What does that mean to us? A day off of school, beautiful weather and a trip to the pumpkin patch!

I should get some serious Mommy points for taking the kids on my own to pick pumpkins. I promised Chloe a hayride too, and many of the nearby u-pick pumpkin farms don't do hayrides on weekdays, even if it is a holiday. I did happen to find one u-pick farm that had advertised that all their farm activities would be open on Columbus Day, so off we went...along with everyone else with children in the state of NJ.


This picture doesn't do the crowds justice, but that is the line to get in to the u-pick pumpkins.

Once we parked and got unloaded, we stood in line to purchase tickets to go on the hayride and pick pumpkins. This is the first u-pick farm I ever went to that charged an admission to go and then pick pumpkins that you then paid for, but someone in line said many of the farms in NJ are going to this method as people wander the fields helping themselves to "free" samples from the fruit trees and berry bushes and then buying nothing.

We could also buy tickets for all of the fun activities and this farm had many--a corn maze, a hay bale tunnel, and hay bale pyramid (which you can partially see in the above photo), pony rides, train rides, hay rides, petting zoo, etc. It all added up and I think I am in the wrong business.


Our first activity was to go and pick pumpkins. We took the hayride out to the pumpkin field and wander the fields searching for the right pumpkin to carve. Chloe picked it and then declared it was too heavy for her to carry, so I did. Around that same time, Oliver decided that walking in a pumpkin patch wasn't for him and he wanted to be carried. So I carried Oliver and a pumpkin.



Chloe really was a big help and once we got to more even terrain, she helped me with Oliver.


Ahhh, so sweet.

After that, we rode back on the hay ride and put our pumpkins in the car. I wrangled Oliver into the stroller and we had some lunch (after we stood in the concession line for 20 minutes). Chloe sampled her first funnel cake. Yum! We then went to stand in line for the pony rides. Thirty-five minutes later, Chloe was on....


It really was fun, but would have been way more enjoyable had there not been so many people. I guess I should have expected it knowing that it was a school holiday. On the ride home, both Chloe and Oliver fell asleep soon after we left the farm. They both woke up as we pulled into our driveway at home.

The rest of our afternoon was spent carving the pumpkin and making one of Chloe's favorites, baked pumpkin seeds.




The finished project...


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Referral-Versary: A Year Ago Today--The Call

On this day, one year ago, we received the call we had a son in Ethiopia! He was not yet 4 months old when we got the call. We only received one photo of Oliver on that day and we looked at it and looked at until our update the following month. Oliver has been home 9 months now and he is 15 months old. We have the real thing now AND lots of photos of our little man. To celebrate our referral anniversary ("Referral-versary") I compiled some photos of Oliver, starting with our first referral photo in October 2009 and including a photo of each month thereafter. I also included a the photo of Oliver on his Ethiopian birth certificate (I love it). Its the one with the stamp on it and its the last one in chronological order.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Re-Adoption: Round 2

Where's the "Easy Button"? Oh, wait. There isn't one.

I was able to get all our necessary adoption papers and legal papers together for our re-adoption of Oliver. Unfortunately, we were not able to process our readoption for Chloe because we lived in Texas when we adopted her and our homestudy agency for that adoption was not in NJ. I am sure there is a way to re-adopt Chloe in NJ, but we've got our hands full with trying to complete Oliver's. Oliver's is a priority as he cannot get his U.S. citizenship without our re-adoption. Chloe came in to the U.S. on a different visa and is a citizen already. I will re-investigate our options for Chloe after we re-adopt Oliver.

In any case, our adoption hearing is set for November 19th. We had a surprising twist in our re-adoption, we have to go through the homestudy process again!! Yes, you read that correctly. Our county requires fingerprints, background checks and the homestudy be re-done from the start for the process. I could hardly believe it myself. I thought it had to be a mistake, but after many phone calls to our homestudy agency and the courts, it was confirmed that it had to be completely re-done. Why? Well, I couldn't get a good explanation for that and I still don't get why we have to redo it entirely when we already did a homestudy to adopt from Ethiopia and have done two post-placement reports since bringing Oliver home. I even explained that he WAS LEGALLY our son already. We adopted him according to the laws of Ethiopia and the U.S. and this re-adoption is supposed to be a formality we have to complete in order to get his U.S. citizenship and birth certificate. There is really no need to go through another homestudy process.

The best explanation the court could give me was, "It's what our county requires. Its the law in the county in which you reside." A law that's going to cost us around $730 extra (the fee for the biometrics and the new homestudy) for no apparent reason other than our county is only 1 of 3 in the state of NJ that requires this be done AGAIN. Our homestudy agency gave a not much better answer stating that our county doesn't differentiate between domestic and international adoptions. In other words, they treat every adoption court case like a domestic adoption---assuming it's your first time to court and requiring the homestudy to their special standards & requirements. They don't care if its an international adoption, you've been to court before in another country and you've done the homestudy and post-placement reports already. It's their way or the highway.

Oh, and the best news I learned...our social worker is no longer with our homestudy agency and we have a new one. One that doesn't know us from Adam, one that wants to get to know us and meet several times with us to get this written and turned in to the court before our court date in November. Arghhhh!

I know it will get done and this will all be behind us in another month. I'm trying to look on the bright side and negotiate with our homestudy agency to use this homestudy for our adoption from China (the one we've been waiting for nearly 4 years) as we will have to start the process to re-do our paperwork according to the new regulations.

If anyone out there living in our county in NJ is waiting to adopt from Ethiopia, be thankful that the requirements were changed and you now have to make 2 trips to Ethiopia, thereby making the need to re-adopt when you return to the States voluntary instead of necessary. We thought we were lucky we only had to make the one trip and thought readoption would be a breeze. Oh, the naivety!

Hopefully there will be no further hitches and on November 19th I will post smiling photos of the newest citizen of the U.S.
 
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