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Sunday, December 31, 2006

first day home

****Please note that these posts are in reverse chronological order****
*******to view the first entry, scroll to the bottom of the page********

Let me start with our first 24 hours home as there is so much to say and very little time as you might imagine. I'll try to put in a bit about travel as well if no one cries, fights, dirties pants, needs a boo-boo kissed, etc. before I am done.

Our first day back has been nice. On our way home from the airport we stopped at my aunt and cousin's house. It was about a third of the way home and a good place to stretch out (the babies and I), do bottles, and change pants. We then visited with our parents for a bit before heading home, though we would have loved to stay longer...I was exhausted. It was SO wonderful to see my oldest two daughters. They look huge to me, I can't believe how much Little Bits has grown. She is almost as tall as Twinkle Toes and I think her hair grew 3 inches while I was gone (she also lost what little bit of baby fat was left in her face, that was kind of sad to see.) Then we managed to make it home and start in with life. Bedtime went ok, the babies ended up in bed with us and I think that helped us survive the night. We need to get a monitor before we put the babies upstairs at night. The two of them take-up enough room that co-sleeping won't be as easy as it was with our older girls. Besides, they are 5 mo already and it is easy to forget that. They were up a couple times at night and went back to sleep fairly easily. But add to that a dog that suddenly needs walked at night, and the former baby of the family feeling a bit needy and Brian and I both had pretty interrupted sleep. We did make it to church in the morning, not Sunday school though. It was so nice to be in church. Our church truly is our second family and I felt like it had been ages since I had seen them and worshiped with them. This afternoon we visited with more family and then the girls and I CRASHED....as in we were asleep and did hear a thing or even smell the bacon the husband was cooking! Jet lag still has ahold of me, but I think everyday will find me feeling more and more like myself.

My trip was wonderful, relaxing at times, and simply put guided by God. At every turn I had someone helping me. From Hanoi to Hong Kong the flight was fairly short (3 hours?) and both babies slept...one in the baby pack on my front and one on the extra seat I bought. In Hong Kong, we had just enough time to get to our plane (I say we as one of the fathers from our agency was traveling home on the same flights to LA as I was, it was wonderful to have him along and we were able to help each other...he had their 16 mo old adopted son with him.) I was worried about the Hong Kong to LA flight as it was about 11.5 hours and I still did not know if I was able to get two seats side-by-side with traveling that last minute (I went to confirm my flight and get seats right after my "visa" post, 4 hours prior to the plane leaving.) The lady at the CathayPacific office had called the Hong Kong airport as they were worried about me traveling alone with the babies. So, I get in line and turns out my seats are in different rows. I tell them that if at all possible that won't work as I am traveling with two infants. They all smile and said they were waiting for me and gave me new seats side by side. So I get on the plane. Now, they are a Chinese operation and quite frankly their planes are designed with that stature in mind...not a 6 ft American woman who weighs 200lbs (blushing) and carrying 2 diaper bags and 2 infants. I GOT STUCK! There was a spot where you walk between two kitchen areas and it is narrow. I coulnd't go forward, I couldn't go backward...embarrassing. The gentleman behind me took the offending bag that had me stuck and followed me to my BULKHEAD BASSINET seats!!!! I about cried I was so happy to see such choice seats reserved for me. The bathroom was right 3 feet in front of me, there were no seats in front of me, there was the little fold-down bassinet right there waiting to be used after take off, I was thinking I could do it! Then this wonderful flight attendant walked by did a double take and came up to me and said "we have been waiting for you, I am so happy to see you!" Well, I was happy to see someone happy to see me. SHe scooped up a baby and went back to seating people. As she came and went she explained how the bassinet worked, where the changing table was, who the attendants were in my area, and insisted I let them know of anything I needed help with. I sat in my seat with on baby still attached and this wonderful lady (I will say angel!) came by and also offered her help. She almost insisted on taking a baby for take off as they have to be buckled in with you. Then she said to go ahead and give her a bottle and diaper and she would just be my helper. I could see her from where I sat, she had her 2 grown daughters with her and they took care of a baby the ENTIRE flight! It was wonderful and they were so happy to do it. They made my day, and I think I made theirs...what a great arrangement. The bassinet allowed me to sleep while the other baby slept, and speaking of sleeping, they slept for most of the flight. No melt downs, no fussy spells, they were great. I slept more on that flight that I had the past couple nights in Hanoi.

Now, I am not fond of the LA airport, but I was glad to see it. My babies are now US citizens :)
The other father and I stuck together figuring 2 of us to 3 babies was a good idea. We got through immigration for ous quickly and then proceeded over to process the babies. That went well and off we went to get luggage. I only had one big checked bag plus a carry-on I checked so I didn't have to carry it on. He, on the other hand had 4 HUGE bags, his wife did a good bit of shopping and sent most of it home with him! So we grabbed a baggage guy and somehow grabbed the best of the bunch. He loaded up our bags as they came and we then proceded to customs. The line was long and we figured we better settle in a bit. The baggage guy had another idea...he saw a customs officer leave the bathroom close by and simply follwed him with us behind him right to his podium and through we went with no wait. He then proceeded to take us up these HUGE ramps (not sure how he pushed those two carts up them) to where Cathay takes our bags back and gets them to our on-going flights. We tipped him nicely as he saved us alot of time and stress. From there we split ways. There were no food places open in the airport with the exception of deli sandwiches and I proceeded to pay $17 for a chicken salad sandwich and danish with juice as I knew on my domestic flight I would not be fed a meal, let alone the 5-course feasts I was served every few hours on the international flight. I then proceeded to check-in to my next flight were I was almost not let on the plane...long story short he couldn't figure out that I purchased two seats, therefor there were enough oxygen masks for everyone in the row. OH, I forgot security was interesting in LA too. They seemed very stressed there and it looked like a bunch of first time through the US foreigners. Then here I come with a stroller, laptop, liquids in bags, 2 babies, etc etc. SO we go through and got flagged to be searched....not me though, Twin A. That made their night I think having to search a baby for weapons and check her diaper bag for explosives. Glad to help them out :)

The last flight was a bumpy one, but I lived. It is possible I have proved it. LIke I said though, if I needed the stroller folded, there was someone there to do it. If I needed help with a bag, there was someone there. I never asked for help, it simply was there. I know I was being watched over. I know.

Please, Please, PLEASE pray for the families that still wait. Many of them have good and pressing reasons that they need to get home. I am fortunate to be here and wish they all could have traveled as well. It is hard not knowing when you can home. The last month has been one of simply not knowing what is happening the next day. Until the moment I got the visa's I simply did not know if I would be able to bring these girls home. That is scary.

Thank you all so much for your support, it means more than I can say and I promise to keep blogging as I am able.

Signed, me...a mother of 4 girls

Saturday, December 30, 2006


I made it! It was so much better than I thought and I had help at every turn, simply amazing.

I promise to post details when I kick this jet-lag a bit...only been home 8 hours.

Friday, December 29, 2006


I'm coming home...my plane leaves at 7!!!! Please pray for safe and calm travels for us.

Talk to you all from the other side of the earth soon!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

still no word

I called a few hours ago, and its possible but they still aren't sure. I might be going home tonight! I know they are doing what they can, and I will keep this posted, meanwhile I pack...just in case.

me again

For the internet being so crazy, I certainly have quite a few posts (you see I sit here and try again and again until it works!)

First things first:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU….mommy wishes I could be there for your 6th birthday but I promise I will be home very soon and we will start planning that 12 Dancing Princesses Tea Party for as soon as possible. I love you, Twinkle Toes!

I can’t believe my oldest is now 6, wow. She is growing up so fast and is going to be mommy’s helper I am sure. To think of where we have been the past 6 years, I am sure the husband or I neither one would have guessed that in 6 years time we would be adding 3 more girls to our family. We are so blessed!

Our appointment went just fine, however I do not know when I will get my visas. The problems I mention in the previous post are still there and they simply have no idea when things will be back up and working again. Trying to figure out what to do for flights…it is so hard at this point to figure that I will get the visas as per normal procedure as NOTHING in the adoption has been per normal procedure. Is there such thing as normal procedure in international adoption?

This appointment was also good practice for the airports. I went with one baby in a carrier and the other in-arms. I survived and no one got hurt, so I figure if you add in the stroller that I am taking for the airports, I will do just fine…especially if I am able to get at least one bassinet seat!

Trying not to cry about missing a very important day for a 6 year old and focusing on the excitement of returning home!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Does the DRAMA ever end?

I got a call this morning asking me if I can make a 1 o’clock appointment for my visa interview!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I promise that in real life (outside of blog-land and adoption-world that is) I am not a dramatic person. This however has pushed me to “drama-queen” status and I can not wait to return home and work on keying myself down some. I have a feeling turning into my driveway, tripping over my dog, and loving on my other two girls will bring out the old me.

Please continue praying, no one else in our group has appointments yet. I am not sure why I was chosen to go first, and I tried to trade. One family here has been here since before Thanksgiving and their small children at home are calling their older sister mommy! Then the other family I have been spending time with has an adoptive daughter at home that has to have neuro-surgery the first week of January. ALL of our families have been here the month of December and it is now time to go home. I hope others got phone calls while I was out getting visa photos for the babies this morning.

Now for the reason I titled it does the drama not end….the internet is spotty at best due to the earthquake that hit Taiwan. Guess how the embassy communicates with homeland security who issues the visas…you guessed it: the internet. The last I check in the families that interviewed Tuesday still do not have visas. SO, there is no guarantee that I will get a visa tomorrow as I would had the internet been working properly. CRAZY!

So glad to have that interview though, it’s my last appointment before preparing to go home!

I’ll keep you all posted,

To those whom replied


Aunt D, know that you guys are in my prayers and please tell Grandma and Grandpa I love them and am praying for his recovery and also that their two newest grandbabies can't wait to charm the socks off of them!

Nicki, you have given me another nights hope in this, and in turn I am hoping to sleep well and glad I checked in with the late night bottles!

Lawmommy and Nina...you are both SO good! I feel like I have real professionals working for me :) Nina, my eyes tend to glaze over at tax info, but my husband will be along soon and be very greatful not to try to look that all up or wait on the IRS hotline for it...I am reading right that we are still eligable for the credits...right?

Stephanie, I know reading my journey can noty be easy as yours is just around the corner. Try not to stress, it will work out fine and thank you for always caring and trying to put things in the proper perspective for me. I do have LOTS of advice to help you out as well.

Others have always helped as well, but you women have made a significant difference in my ability to return to sleep tonight. And as my dear sweet husband says "sleep is the key to handling things well"

And so it goes

The internet has been off and on due to an earthquake that hit Taiwan, so I will keep this short in order to not tempt the thing to shut me out again.

No call today, I hate typing that. No call.

What that means:
For me to make my flight on the 29th I will have to get a call tomorrow asking me to come in same day OR get a call tomorrow for an appointment on Friday and they will issue a same-day visa….NEITHER of which is something they do.

In other words I will be spending New Year’s in Vietnam. Brian will by flying over to help me finish the journey seeing as it is a new year and new round of vacation. I look forward to seeing him, but was really looking forward to seeing my whole family.

Not sure how the tax thing works out…as of Dec. 13 I am their mother but am figuring it isn't that easy. I have a feeling that even though they are the ones delaying my coming home the US gov’t will say that the adoption doesn’t count until they are US Citizen’s. This is going to really hurt us financially between not getting the adoption credit this year and buying another international flight ticket. I am not sure I will be able to be a stay at home mom anymore, that is the worst of it right there. Do not get me wrong, I like working and often miss having a job, but not staying home would be hard for these two little infants and also my girls who are homeschooled. It will take an already big adjustment and really complicate it all.

Dealing with it better than I thought I would, but very disappointed. I just can’t believe it and I am sure it will take some time to set in.

PS If any of my family out there knows how my Grandpa is doing, please post or email me as I haven’t heard much the last day or so and am a bit worried!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Blog-Year in Review

I don't have much to post today. Dad leaves this afternoon and I am hoping that tomorrow I hear that I have a second appointment on Thursday. That way I'll make my flights on the 29th.

The holiday weekend was nice as we knew we would not get any news, none! It was wonderful not hurrying back to the hotel in case someone called or waiting around for news on something or other. Now that it will be just the girls and I, it'll not be so hard staying close as I can't imagine going far on my own.

So for lack of better things to post, I'll follow the lead of other's and post my blog-year in review. The way it works is I will post the first line of text I posted each month. Seeing has how I didn't begin posting until July, this will be pretty short:

July-In an attempt to centralize information and answer the same questions less, this blog has been opened.

Aug-We did have our last homestudy last night and it went really well.

Sept-Well, this is Brian. (my husband is much less wordy than me!)

Oct-Today I am taking the girls to the zoo to celebrate. (this was ouur referral!)

Nov-Go check out Nicki's Blog, She had her G&R for her daughter yesterday.

Dec-One more night in the US. (who would have guessed I would not yet be back!)

It was wonderful reviewing my posts and where I have come from...reminds me how strongly I should keep going!

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post to tell you Merry Christmas.

The day is going well and much shopping has been done. I bwas bgoing to send a small suitcase home with dad, but now I am thinking I'll need to send a big one home with him. Sorry, Brian!

We found a great looking little place to eat, too. It is called the Tamarind Cafe (sp?) and we are going to head that way for supper. I'll update my post to let you all know how it was. (It was wonderfully different! I had miso soup and crispy cheese. The mango and coconut rice was good and the ginger creme brulee tasty. I plan on going back for their all day breakfast menu and seeing what else I can find. It is only about a 2 minute walk from our hotel, where have we been all this time!)

To all my extended family in Ohio, Colorado, and Nebraska I hope that you all are having a wonderful Christmas. I wish dearly to be spending the time with you that I spend here, even though we do not see each other even that often. I appreciate your prayers and think of you all.

To all of my friends that have supported our journey and are following along my family and helping them while I am gone, I appreciate you more than I can say. Your prayers are felt and the warmth you spread lasts longer than a hug.

To all of my online friends that are supporting me, giving me advice, and praying for us. Thank you for taking the time out of your day for someone you may never meet. I hope one day to be able to return the favor.

To my husband and older two girls, the family God has entrusted me with and entrusted me to. I love you guys so much and will be talking to you today I am sure. I hope you eat lots of Christmas cookies for me :)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve in Hanoi

I hope everyone wakes this morning to have a wonderful Christmas Eve. Today is the day I was supposed to arrive home, but finally I am ok with all of that.

Here are some good things about my extened stay:
  1. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner at AlFresco's with Pumpkin Soup, Turkey, Veal, Ham, Potatoes, Squash, Beans, Cake and Ice Cream along with Mulled Cider. It was delicious and we were with good company. Our friends the P's and the L's were there and there was a child for all the adults around the table.
  2. We then headed over to the very posh Hilton for some Christmas cheer where we met another adoptive family in our agency. There was a blind children's choir singing beautiful carols, a string quartet, and Santa! Then there were the people, all walks of life and different countries. I couldn't believe how wonderful people were to each other and how everyone awed over our babies.
  3. I realized today and tonight how wonderful this extra time is alone with my babies. When I get home, not only will I have them, but also my husband and the older two as well as the house and other obligations. This is such a wonderful chance to grow a strong bond with them. I can not wait for Brian to get here and be able to share that bonding time some. I am hoping that when we get home the girls will still feel strongly attached and I won't have to limit interaction with others so much.

Can you believe I've been their mommy for almost 2 weeks now. Time is flying! I just hope the remainder of my time here includes a fine balance of time that flies and treasured moments.

Check photos as I plan on updating tonight! (I took video of the children's choir, but turned the camera to get a tall shot with the tree for it. Silly me, I can't rotate it upright, sorry, no new video!)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A beautiful thing

I learned something beautiful about my daughters' names today. Both Hoa and Lan mean flower in Vietnamese. However Hoa Lan (together) means orchid. How significant and a bright spot that I needed today!

It tells us the Hoa was born first with Lan following right behind. I do know that their mother named them and finding that together their names are a flower I have never been able to get bloom is special to me. It also tells me how important it was to her that they stay together, what an honor to be able to fill that request.

I finally have orchids blossoming!

Friday, December 22, 2006

From bad to worse

Well, if it can get worse here it does.

If I do not make my flights on the 29th, I will not be able to get a new flight until the middle to end of January. So even with my girls' visas, I am not going anywhere.

As miserable as a mother of two beautiful twins all in good health can be.



Our interview went well, I had an interesting time juggling paper work and the two babies!

We have been told that we will likely be here through New Year's...not a good end to an already homesick day. If any of you all see my kids, give them an extra hug from me please!


Thursday, December 21, 2006


I miss Olivia and Grace, I miss my husband, I want to go home.

Our first US interview is today at 1 and from what others are telling me, I am going to be here awhile. Not sure how that is going to work out.

I am re-doing my Christmas wish from the post below. I wish that Brian gets some sort of year end bonus and that it is enough for him AND the girls to come to me since I can't go to them. (I am really dreaming here!)

Will let you all know how the interview goes.


Healthy Babies

We had our medical visit today, which means we recieved our passports before that.

The girls are both healthy and did well for their visits to the SOS clinic. It is a very nice clinic just south of the lake. We are hoping to not have to go back, but will not have to go back, but if one of the girls were not healthy I would not hesitate to go there in a minute. Very clean and very nice bedside manner with the babies.
And for all of you waiting to know exactly how big these babies are:

Chloe is 11.5 pounds and 24.5 inches
Aubrey is 10.5 pounds and 23.5 inches

Seems so small, I think one of my sisters was bigger than Aubrey is now at birth! We were told though that they are develping normally, very little delay in motor skils and that they are on the lower end of the normal range for Vietnamese baby. Not bad for twin orphans! It just goes to show, again, how well cared for and loved these two were in their orphanage. Dr. Beck will be pleased to see such healthy babies and we will be pleased to be home and see Dr. Beck. Oh, by the way, Dr. Beck is one of those doctors that you hope never retires! He was my doctor when I was little, and I have no bad memories of going there and my mom thought he was great. After bringing Olivia and Grace there for 5 years now, I agree. The one thing you will hear often from him is "you are the babies mom, you tell me what is wrong or what your concerns are and we will go from there." Now, that is not to say that he doesn't do well-checks, he does a very thorough exam. Another thing I like about him is that he does not over-prescribe meds.

Ok, I am rambling. That is it for today as all of that pretty much took the entire day. Please keep praying for us that we will be able to make our flights on the 29th. I can not imagine missing one more week of my other girls' lives. I am already missing one birthday, can't imagine missing another.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006


The weather here is so beautiful right now. In the mornings it is cool and sometimes a bit misty, but by noon the sun is out and the temps top off at around 72 degrees. Simply wonderful.

We spent last night oogling over the babies and getting more laughs from them. We also discovered that Chloe is getting teeth in, and probably Aubrey but she won't let you in her mouth to look. Supper was in room PB&J with fruit as the girls went to sleep a little early for the night and we were a little tired.

In adoption world:
We have our medical appointment and get our passports tomorrow (Thursday) and then have our first embssy appointment on Friday. Then we have a long weekend looking at us as it is Christmas weekend and some places will be closed on monday for the holiday. I am hoping we can go someplace a little western to enjoy some sort of Christmas cheer that day, it'll help pass time and keep our spirits up.
Speaking of spirits up, we really are doing well. I get sad sometimes talking to Olivia and Grace, BUT know that it won't be long until we head home, 10 days to be exact. That isn't long really, when you think about it. We should find out Friday when our second appointment is and therefor when we will be going home (you can leave the day after your last embassy appointment so long as that day is a business day.) Needless to say I am hoping for Tues, Wed, or Thurs. so we can head out before the weekend and New Year's.
Also in adoption news, the families here with us from another province had their G&R yesterday and arrived back late last night. So nice to see a new little face around the breakfast table and I look forward to meeting the other little ones.

The rest of the day will be spent palying with and keeping the twins happy (not easy some days, for sure) and also contemplating if everything will fit back into the luggage we brought. I am thinking I might go ahead and pack all our purchases up into one of the bags just to fool myself into thinking we are almost there. I shouldn't say fool myself, rather that it keeps me busy and helps me get prepared to go. I know it won't be easy to pack up...how do you decide what you really need on the plane and what you don't? I guess so long as we have the girls' immigration papers, formula, and our passports we will make it just fine and I need to not worry about it.

We also are having dinner tonight with the hotel manager. He has been so wonderful to us all and wanted to have a celebration dinner for all of us here adopting (4 families at this hotel.) It says alot to me as this is not a large operation. 6 floors with 6 or so rooms on each floor. He is genuinely happy for us, and really wants to celebrate with us. That is how the people are here. Their kindness and spirits really are genuine, the way they treat their children is precious, their land is lush. You should see some of the gardens here. I hope to take some photos on our way to the airport of the huge cabbage, the fields of corn, and row after row of rose bushes. I can really see why the tourism here is flourishing. The country is rich with varied history, has many old structures, and is simply beautiful to see.

I hope others are able to come here after me, if not to adopt the children needing families, just to visit and see the land.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

new video

We accidentally discovered belly laughs tonight! The video shows them hamming it up while I get their belllies. Now don't worry this didn't last long as you can see I was in the middle of undressing Twin B. As soon as you show them water and the idea of a bath hits them, they scream until it is done. It was fun though and we plan on perfecting thos laughs.

Our flights have been rescheduled for us now. We leave on the 29th and arrive home on the 30th. That will be exactly 4 weeks after I left. When starting this I would never have imagined, but it is what it is.

Enjoy the video and as soon the as the girls are down I plan on adding in some photos too.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Holiday Cheer

I hate my last post sounding so down, but really do not want to delete it. Down and out is how I am feeling and it represents our journey.

In looking up:

The families that traveled with us that have yet to have their G&R are still on the schedule for tomorrrow. It is very exciting and it has been my prayer (shamefully not all along, but I did come around) that if for some reason only their G&R could happen or our earlier appointment, that their G&R would win out. Those babies need their mommies, and those mommies have waited so long for their babies. Here is still hoping that tomorrow brings 4 more babies into our group!

A bit of holiday cheer from Nicki She posed a few holiday questions that we all should stop and think about and perhaps we have tips to share. Leave your answer in my comments or post it on your own blog, but let us know so we can check out your answers. I will answer as well as my swiss cheese brain can at 11PM at night in foreign country:

What is the one holiday ritual you would absolutely never give up? Buying an ornament every year for my girls. My mother started that for me as I was a baby and it was such a joy the first year I was married to decorate our tree with pieces of my life up until that point.

What is the part of the holidays you find the most tedious and exhausting? Clean-up! Those who know me in real life are laughing now at how true that is.

What is the worst or weirdest gift you have ever received? Slippers you can't walk in...good in theory, but not execution. In all fairness, they have heat pillows in the bottom to help your feet warm on cool nights. Our addition has hardwood floors and my feet were cold, so it was thought to be a good idea. However, we rarely watch TV or do something where you would just sit for awhile with your feet up. I am up and down a fair bit and would be warming my feet one minute and hating the cold floors the next even more than before the warm slippers.

What is the most memorable gift you have ever received?Wow, does the birth of my first daughter on the 28th count...or perhaps the following year when her younger sister was born only 2 weeks later...maybe these two I watch peacefully sleeping (peacefully for now that is) that I will bring home in that same time frame? I think though I have to count Christ as the most memorable gift, though it wasn't Dec 25th that I discovered the truth, I count every Christmas as one to remember how precious it is. It is no wonder Brian has a hard time buying me a gift, I feel sorry for him when reading what I wrote...how can you top all of that (though the bike I got last year was great...some may laugh, but he paid good attention to detail. It is lightweight, can put a basket on the front, a baby seat on the back, and the seat is BIG and CUSHY...everything a woman could want in a simple bike!)

What is the one thing you do to make organizing your holiday a little bit easier? Try to hammer all the families down on a date to get together. Between grandparents, great grandparents, our own celebration, and other organizations, it gets a bit mind boggling...the earlier you set a date the better chance you will have a seeing us for more than the minimal time required. It stinks, but I learned a few holidays back that you simply have to make what you can and save your sanity.

If you could make one holiday wish, this year, what would it be? To be home with Brian, Olivia, and Gracie (and Chloe and Aubrey too!)

7 days until Christmas, have you taken time to spend with family rather than doing the holiday rush! Don't take it for granted, and give all your family an extra bit of love, just simply because they are there with you and you can.


Gonna be here awhile

Well, it looks like we will be spending Christmas in Hanoi. Perhaps we will head to the mountains for a couply days, or maybe Halong Bay. I will be home before New Years, though.

Spent most of the day waiting for news, and was glad to finally hear it, but upset at the same time. I REALLY miss Olivia and Gracie.

The girls were pretty cranky today. I am hoping that tomorrow isn't as bad, even with having a baby before that was a cryer, crying is hard. You want so badly to be able to do something for them! They are so adorable though and one little smile melts it all away!

Hoping you all are having a good start to the week and are preparing for Christmas.


Sunday, December 17, 2006


Today is/was sunday, we are getting ready for bed. The babies are already asleep. We had a tiny bit of crankiness tonight, more than usual that is. I am not sure if they simply were really tired from our day, or perhaps just not feeling well. Tomorrow will tell.

Today we went out for a nice lunch at a place called "Bobby Chinn." That is my new favorite spot in Hanoi. The food was outstanding...think 5 star quality food at Olive Garden prices. Dad had Filet Mignon with coconut sticky rice. The rice was the best thing of all we had and we are debating if we should go back and try to order just that. I had salmon on wasabi mashed potatoes...just the right kick to the potatoes. Best meal here, beautiful atmosphere, and a window seating looking out across the road to the lake. We wil make sure to go back at least once.

Other than that, we played with the babies. They are getting harder to tell apart as Aubrey is realy rounding out a bit. She is chubbing up and her face is rounding out a bit more like Chloe's. They seem to take turns switching between being happy go lucky and cranky...as in yesterday was Chloe's day to be cranky, and today was Aubrey's. I know part of this is still the whole getting used to a new life thing, and the changes in schedule and all.

Changes I've noticed in the girls
They are really starting to kick around. They love having their legs free and open and I am glad I brought baby gowns (we always called them baby-in-a-bag's) so they keep their legs warm, but flexible. When I first brought them back Aubrey would not put weight on her legs, but now bounces around pretty good on them while Chloe is even more advanced. It's the same way for their heads. At first we had limited head control and movement, but now Chloe can do tummy-time without getting to upset and look around most directions while on her tummy. Just today Aubrey really got her head up and around during tummy time. It is amazing to see them growing and doing so much in only 4 days.

Tomorrow we will hear more on our status here and perhaps how long we will be having to stay...hoping for our flights booked on the 23rd!


Saturday, December 16, 2006

our day thus far

Finally recieved dad's luggage and the items Brian sent for me...another pair of long pants and some warmer shirts. I only brought one long sleeve shirt and the cooler days get even cooler in the evening. Nice to finally have things in hand.

The girls are having a good day, very little crankiness and the sad faces are melting away. The pictures that I added to the slide show above are of them today. We survived our first bath. I say survived as it really scared them. Once we were almost done, they almost seemed to enjoy it, but not a bit at first. It is so nice smelling sweet baby smell now, their little heads are so soft and pretty smelling now!

We went to Highlands for lunch, it was good and filling. Then bought some warm mittens for the babies as well as silk coats. That way they can wear them when we go out and about and no one has to worry that they are too cold. Everywhere we go, people smile. The Vietnamese really love children. They all want to know how old they are, if they are eating, and if they are twins. Very fun to watch peoples reactions.

That is it for now,

Friday, December 15, 2006

Good Morning to Us

Well, a good nights sleep works wonders doesn't it!

We turned in at 8 when the babies did, were up at 1 for a bottle, then again at 5. The difference with this morning compared to the last two mornings was that the 5 o'clock awakening was not a sad one, but a happy one. We smiled, we laughed, we played and talked to each other...a nice change from the sad mornful cries we have done the past two mornings. After that we changed pants, had a small meal and went back to sleep. They are starting to stir so I imagine they will be up soon. I hope so, my tummy says it is time to eat!

Also, I am working on uploading some new video. I am hoping to get it done soon, but it all depends on the connection which is not as good from my new room. I must not have done pics yesterday, so sorry, the video will have to do. They take turns being cranky, thankfully, as both of them crankin' would be hard. In the video I am trying to get going, Aubrey is crankin' and Chloe thinks it's a tad bit funny. They love talking to each other, and even hold hands some, you'll see a bit of that in the video. I am not sure why but when I get the camera out, they tend to get that deer in the headlights look.....mouth slightly open, eyes wide.

Looking forward to another day with half of my girls, missing my other two very much!

Good Morning to You

It is morning back home and everyone is waking up...I am ready for bed!

The babies are already asleep so I will keep this short.

Long day really. We moved to a bit bigger room, bigger as in a couple feet this way and that. I am so glad we did as it is a bit quieter and the extra floor space is wonderful. About the time we arrived in our new room, my dad arrived. The taxi he took from the airport took him to the wrong hotel and before he could say anything the guy drove off. Long story short, my dad took a motorcycle here :)

An early supper and now we are off to bed. I did get some new video of the twins and hope to post it in the morning, so check back before you go to bed. I miss my kids, but am still enjoying my time here. It is really nice having an extra pair of hands!


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

1st day together

What a day and what a couple of sweeties I have!

Boring stuff first:
Went to apply for passports today and they no longer let you expedite it. I was dissapointed to say the least. Everything all hinges on one day now for us to make it home by Christmas. ONE DAY...as in on the 21st I will have to go at 10AM to get the passports, then go straight to the medical which takes 4 hours to process and then hope against hopes that I can get that last interview at no earlier than 4 on the 21st as they issue Visas the next day (the 22nd) and our plane leaves the 23rd (a saturday) It feels very stressful, it does, BUT I am not going to worry as it does no good and before or after Christmas, home is home. I do want to make it home in time for Olivia's bday on the 28th and also the babies first appointments with Dr Beck that day as well. PLUS, I have super good seats on that flight (the 23rd) that I do NOT want to give up, 3 of four seats in the second bulkhead row with TWO bassinets. These babies sleep laying down, not being held and I do not want to mess with that no matter how tempting!

On the babies (i.e., the fun stuff!) :
We are slowly but surely adjusting to bottles. I have found that a good wide-base silicon nipple with the formula as hot as safe, then lay it on it's side for about 2 minutes to get the nipple really soft and warm. That is the only way they will do bottles, and that is only if they are in an exceptionally good mood or if they are so tired they don't notice...forget it if they are mad and hungry!
Clothes, they are long, so footed sleepers (I only brought 6 each!) are snug, doable but snug. In the new pics you will see them in their blanket sleepers of which I wish I had brought a dozen of. They snap for legs or a gown making them great to put over clothes when heading out and about and also easy at night to change pants. Very warm and soft and even covers their hands fairly well.
Aubrey is having bad dreams or something. She slept with me last night and a couple times while still asleep would jerk her head around and get the saddest little cry face. I feel so bad for her and patting her softly seems to help. On the sleep thing; their nanny made a point to show me how they will go to sleep when you lay them down. Make sure they are tired, but not mad and let me tell you if works like a dream! Right now they are both snuggled up to each other on the bed by my legs and snoozing away all snug and warm. I am keeping my room warm as they are not used to the AC, they are layerd inside of the blanket sleepers, I am in a tank. Seems to work though as if they get chilly (as in doing a quick sponge bath) they get mad. They prefer to be warm and cuddly.
Last night we were up the one time I posted and they woke around 5:30, I figured to eat, but not so. It was like they wanted to know I was still there and that they were safe and as soon as they saw me and I talked to them a bit, off to dreamland again until breakfast at 8. A decent nights rest for the first night, more sleep than I have been getting the past few nights anyways. Today Aubrey stayed with another mom while I went to go apply for the above passports. Chloe went with me and rode in the Baby Bjorn. I tried my sling first, but no way, she likes to see more of what is going on and does not have the head control down yet to ride more upright in the sling. She was wonderful, napped in the taxi smiled real sweet at all the people there, and cooed on the way back. Aubrey was good here and after getting abck to the room (I did it without a stroller!) we had 4 oz of very warm formula each (see above) and a quick sponge bath. I am dying to get them a real bath, but know that they are still a bit traumatized and need to let them settle in some first. I did lotion them though and they loved that...smelling like lavendar baby lotion now, MMmmmmmm. Sleeping away and I plan on joining them as soon as I load up some new pictures for you all.
I will try to keep posting as I have a spare moment or two and please be thinking about us and the tight deadlines we would like to meet. I'll be so happy to make our original flights, but will be okay if we miss them, just hate to miss Christmas.


1st midnight feeding

Wewent to bed at 9:30, 4 hours later we seem to have a rumbly in our tumbly.

I love sweet, soft, nightime baby sounds!


More details

I could NOT sleep last night as I was so anxious for today, so I am really tired right now and a bit stressed, forgive the typos and things that make no sense in advance. The girls just tuckered out and after I eat my soup that is brewing while I type, I plan on joining them.

We left the hotel at around 10Am for Hung Yen. Our orphanage was the first stop and there I got to change them and tell their nannies good-bye one last time. Then we go on to the other orphanage in Hung Yen. The actual G&R was very quick, no big speeches or anything, mainly just signing papers. After that we went from place to place filing some papers in preperation for the babies passports and then back to Hanoi.

It was very hard taking the girls from all they have ever known. They are so sad and upset, they don't sleep the heavy relaxed sleep they slept at the orphanage the other day. They are just not happy little things right now. They want badly to play a bit and smile, but most smiles break down into these little pouty faces and end with tears. My heart is aching for them. They do not like bottles, I have tried latex and silicon, orthodontic and "like mom", 4 different types and it does not matter. Reminds me very much of Gracie when I tried getting her to do bottles a little and that was with breastmilk. These poor things will only take a bottle after a huge fit and then with tears running down their faces...it's hard. I just know they were being nursed. They do not get excited at the sight of a bottle, or the smell or taste of formula. I am glad as that is best for them, but sad as it is one more thing they are giving up. Wishing I had built up a bit of a milk supply before coming, just in case.

They are so adorable and in size 0-3, tiny for being 4.5 months old. I expect tomorrow to be better for them and the day after that even better. We go at 9:30 in the morning for something that has to do with passports, my brain is a bit fried and I can't seem to remember where that is or what the official name is, so sorry. Going to eat and re-pack diaper bag while doing so, that way I am ready to go for tomorrow and do not have to worry in the morning....getting out the door is going to be much harder than before!

Thank you to you all for keeping with me in the deep dark of all this. I did post some orphanage pics of the babies, don't have time or energy to upload new right now. Need to sleep when they sleep as they say. I promise more photos will follow, though perhaps not until my dad arrives as they need me right now more than you need pics...so sorry about that but a mommy has to look after her girls. I will tell you though that they are little angels with the sweetest little faces!

Take care all and here is presenting Chloe Hoa Hattery and Aubrey Lan Hattery, as named by their forever mommy and daddy. Born on July 27th, 2006 in the Hung Yen province of Vietnam and given the names Cao Thi Hoa and Cao Thi Lan at birth by their birth mommy.

Jenn who is ready to go to sleep on cloud 9!

We have them

The babies are here

I am a mother of two twins that I think were nursed. In other words we are NOT liking a bottle

More later


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I think this is it!

No phone calls last night or this morning!

No dissapointing emails!

Is this finally the day?

We leave at 10 and I am an excited, emotion mess. I won't believe it until it is happening, but I do believe today is THE day. My next post will be done with babies in-room and full of photos and all kinds of wonder...might even update the blog template. Who knows what surprises you will find on "2 more to love" when you wake in the morning....I don't even know!


Here is the skinny

While I would love to post in caps that tomorrow I will be officially a mother of four, I can't bring myself to do it. I used to joke with the gals here that when the van pulls up I will believe it. Now that I know we have a date AND time I still have a hard time believing it. I think I will believe it when I sign the papers and write my and my husbands name in the book making it official. I am all woozy (not sure if it was last nights supper or nerves!) I will be taking all kinds of pepto and other stuff just in case as it looks like tomorrow is really the day. Now after all the crud you all have been reading, I am sure you as well as me, are thinking "Hmmm, well we hope, we'll see though." It's rotten really, but there is hope. I am still unsure that we will make it home for Christmas, though I do plan on trying as we have really nice seats and flights and I hate to mess with it unless ABSOLUTELY necessary.
What on earth is going on? Great question and wish I could explain it fully. Here is my best attempt:
At home we have National gov't and State gov't, here there is Hanoi and the provinces. At home the Nat'l gov't pretty much runs it though it allows the states some give and take on certain issues. It does not work that way here at all. Even though the law states that a G&R is to be issued x# days after this form clears, etc. it simply is not that way. It is not their culture and it is not something they are used to doing. The provinces way more power over what is happening in their province than Hanoi does so if the official from the Department of Justice decides he wants to not go to work tomorrow and there is a G&R scheduled it gets cancelled. That along with the "we would rather make you happy then tell you bad news" thing made for a rough start for us. There were meetings in Hanoi that our officials HAD to be at on monday and tuesday. That knocks off two of the dates we were told would work for a G&R. Why we didn't go last week is reasons like the above province example. Could we wake up in the morning to an email stating that so and so can not make it and we have to wait till Thurs? yes Is that likely at this point? no How sure are we on tomorrow? not sure, but know that both our in country rep and our director both are very secure on this date and that is encouraging.
Our van leaves at 10AM...think I'll start stalking the lobby at about hmmm I don't know 6! Not sure I will be able to sleep tonight, but hoping not to have too much trouble as my nights of un-interrupted sleep are hopefully over for awhile!
I will post before leaving tomorrow and am really hoping the two Dept's that are in charge all have quiet, healthy evenings with the lives of all they know being boring and drab for the next 24 hours!

More trouble

Well, you try to keep your chin up and to not hit rock bottom. It isn't easy when you are in another country to adopt and have NO G&R date. Simply isn't easy. Then you find out others are in your shoes and you hurt for them as well. It turns out not just the 3 families from our province but the other 4 families who are in another province are not having their G&R as well. My heart breaks for them as I know how hard it was to swallow that news last night. Most of them are single moms and I can not imagine going through this without the support of my husband, they are certainly stronger than I.

One of the directors of our agency has flown in and we all are meeting at 8 tonight. I am nervous about it. We all want answers and I am afraid they will have none or that it will be tense. At first I was okay with it all thinking it was just a provincial thing, now I am afraid it is an agency thing and it makes me ill to even think that. If you can not trust your agency over here, who can you trust? I am really hoping I am wrong and that all of this will get ironed out and smoothed over in no time. You know, one of those things you look back on and laugh at, however I left home 10 days ago....it's hard to imagine getting to the point that all of this is funny. I am trying not to jump to any conclusions and am trying not to lay blame on anyone, but am to the point that some solid truth answers are not only welcomed but necessary.

In good news I drug myself out of here with friends today, it was nice to get out and seems to help keep my spirits a little stable. I also bought a stroller with handles tall enough for me! I can not find one in the US, so had to get it here, funny huh (see these are the things we look back on and laugh at, not sitting for 10 days in a foriegn country with NOTHING!) It is pretty nice, folds easily like an umbrella stoller, but lays back flat with the foot part folding up kind of like a buggie, but the baby not facing you (handle doesn't switch to a pram-style.) I really think both babies would comforatble in it if need be, though I plan on wearing one of them as much as possible. There are many places here in Hanoi that it will not be practical, including the block we live on. So if I am headed south to the lake I'll take it, if not leave it, and if I take it I'll just have to be really cautious to choose a slow but steady path. I do know however it will be wonderful for the flight home and getting around in the airport. If I can wear one/push one or push both, dad can struggle with the luggage and we might have a chance at making our connectings! Oh and the best part, the price. While not a bargain at 400,000 VND (around $25 USD) it certainly wasn't a rip-off as the ones in the supermarkets are running around twice that amount for less of a stroller!

I AM READY FOR THESE BABIES, ARGH! 8 o'clock seems hours away and I simply can not wait to hear what on earth is going on! I will of couse keep the blog posted and I also want to say thank you for those that comment and email, it means to world to me sometimes to hear that you care and that people are thinking of us. It is easy to slip into feeling a bit along over here even though I have wonderful families that I am traveling with and am able to talk to home for free like they were in the next room. Trying so hard not to jump to any conclusions and lay blame, hoping this meeting helps a bunch!


Monday, December 11, 2006

No Babies Yet

Just a quick post to inform you all.

We do not have the babies yet.

Yes I am frustrated, but all that can be done legally is being done. We have a very ethical agency and they will not go outside the bounds of that. Our province however is being a bit of a stinker in that they lead us and our agency to believe one date and cancel at the last minute. VERY FRUSTRATING!

I was angry last night when I heard the news, right after packing the diaper bag no less. However, a good nights sleep (amazingly) help much and the anger has fell. I know everything that can be done is being done. I know that our agency is as frustrated as we are and doing all they can. I know those are my babies, and that soon they will be mine forever...I just was really hoping for today. The cultural differences are hard to accept sometime and here they would rather lie to you than dissapoint you. A good lesson to share with my children, as in the end a lie (or misleading someone) hurts no matter what and it does catch up with you.

As soon as I have news I will post it on here as I know family and close friends check often. I want to be sure to tell you all that I am fine, though looking forward to dad coming. The babies are fine and there are no problems with them or their paperwork. Things just work very differently over here a world away.

More later

Touring the city

We had a wonderful tour this afternoon, it was so informative and was also very relaxing. We strolled throught the Temple of Literature, went to the Ho Chi Minh Massoleum, Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda, and also saw a very ornate Pagoda that I can't think of the name for right now to save my life! Our guide was very good at what he does. We were told all kinds of facts about the city and the places we went to (Temple of Literature's first areas were formed around 1040) and also lots of info on the relations between our two countries. He was very quick to answer questions and was glad to be of service. I am hoping perhaps we can arrange another trip with him again as it was so nice. I'd like to do a cyclo tour of the Old Quarter and since it is a moving thing, perhaps the twins would be entertained.
One of the gals here has her parents along to help with her two children. The youngest however was so overwhelmed with Hanoi that she ended up going home with her Daddy (he left the same time Brian did) Now her mom is feeling like she needs a grandchild to help with, I of course welcomed her to my room to cuddle a baby anytime she likes! She even offered to help on the trip home...think my dad will give up his trip here? I doubt it as he seems excited to visit the country.
I am in much better spirits today, getting out and about helps me quite a bit. I am looking forward to tomorrow getting the babies, but have kept my heart guarded just in case. To think, tomorrow it will be all official and they will be my children! I can't imagine and can't wait, but will still try to keep cool about it just in case. When that van pulls up to our door, though you better believe that I am going to be jumping up and down excited...have to remember to bring a carrier though, as I am not sure how I'll ride in this traffic without at least one of them being attached or strapped in somehow!
I will try to go update the slide show now to reflect some of the beauty and history I was able to experience today.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Visiting the twins

We went visiting again today and for more than 15 minutes too! It was so wonderful to see them again and to be able to hold and care for them. The two highlights of the trip for me was when I got there they were asleep in their little hammock, but just kind of stirring. So the noise of all our "enterouge" (sp?) woke them up a bit and as they looked up and saw me they smilled away like I had never even been gone! How sweet and totally melting! THEN, I knew which was which, I asked to be sure, but I did know! I bought some nail polish to put on ones toes just to be sure as I would REALLY hate to mix them up and just not know. But already I am able to tell them apart. The down side of the visit was that it was even harder to go. It was all I could do to hold back the tears. I am so in love with those two little flowers (their Vietnamese names are two different flowers) and can not wait to be loving on them day and night.
One thing I found interesting today. The Vietnamese consider older children and special needs children un-adoptable. The orphanage my girls are at has many children but when asked if they were adoptable, the answer given was "oh no, they are disabled and too old" We are talking age 4 and up and disabilities ranging from malformities to near blind to developmental issues. It took awhile to figure out that the reason they are un-adoptable is because who would want to adopt them, I couldn't believe it and tried my best to explain the the little blind girl with glaucoma or cataracts could have a chance at seeing and a normal life with help and that there are people out there that would consider her a beautiful addition to their family. Here they are simply the unwanted...it is sad, but with the type of income most have, they simply can not deal with these type of medical issues. I hope that type of thinking turns and some agencies are able to open the door to finding homes for these children.
I am dying to post all the wonderful pictures I have of the twins on here, but must wait until after the G&R as my agency suggests. They are so cute and sweet, Chloe is such the talker and social-bug while Aubrey is very quiet and ovservant. They both love their nanny though very much and I know it will be hard for them not to see her anymore. I have some very beautiful footage on the video camera of her singing to Aubrey, something I know the girls will treasure as they grow into their adult years...to see and hear how much they were loved, that they were not simply cast aside or laying in a crib without end or attention.
I have given up much hope on flying home at my regular scheduled time (early morning Christmas Eve) but there is still a chance. The cultural differences are so big, it's hard to tell what is a solid and sure thing and what isn't. I can not wait to get to the u s side of things. Meanwhile I still am enjoying Hanoi, I can not wait to see the city some more tomorrow on a tour we have planned. It will be nice to relax and let my brain check out for a bit. Seeing more and more Christmas decor, even the store fronts are decked out. Sorry, forgot to get pics of those in winter wear, but I will, I promise!
Have a good day as I get a good nights rest,

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's tough sometimes

Well, Brian just left for the airport...that was hard. I can not tell you how hard that was. His taxi was here early, we were hoping for late. He will be glad to be home once he gets there I am sure, and I can guarentee the dog will be glad to see him and then later in the day our oldest two. It was sad saying goodbye though as since we started dating in highschool I do not think we have spent more than 2 weeks apart. Can you tell I am dependant upon him, perhaps to a fault! I can't wait to hear that he has made it home though and the day will be busy tomorrow so that will help immensly.
Tomorrow we go to the orphanage again. I can not wait as I am really wanting to see the twins again. This time we are planning on going early in the morning, that way lights or no lights we should be able to see where they stay and be able to visit longer with them. I have gifts to bring for their nannies and in the previous post I mention the balls and candy for other children that live there. Can't wait!!!
Adventures today:
We figured anything we could send home with Brian we ought to as he was after all not going to have any children with him. So today was last minute shopping. We hand-picked chopsticks (service for six, of course) along with little rests that look like fish, and a very nice box. I really liked the box she was trying to sell us and I know Brian didn't want to spend that much. It has inlaid mother-of-pearl depicting a quiet pagoda scene and there is one long section for the sticks and then 3 little divided sections for the fish to pair up. I know it is something we will tresure for time to come. I also went back to the smocked dress shop just in case I wanted somthing else, but did not....did I mention that shop? BEAUTIFUL hand smocked sundresses, I was able to get 4 for around $6 each! 100% linen, all hand embroidered and smocked, and simply too cute. I look forward to the day I can post pics of the twins in them, though it might be awhile as tiny as they are. We also went looking for bedding. I found a silk blanket/quilt/ covering that would fit our bed in the colors I want to do our bedroom, the price was unbelievable, but we are adopting here so many of you know we are now officially broke! It was nice to finish up the shopping though and get that all packed to be sent home...it is just too bad I had to send my husband with it all.
We had lunch at a little place called Mama Melrose, it was ok. Right close to the lake and very Italian menu. It was nice, but not sure I will go back as I am not a big marinara or pesto sauce person and most of their menu had red sauces while the white sauce I had did not agree well with my tummy (which was almost 100%, though now a little touchy after that meal.) We did stop by at Highland's for a quick drink and some people watching. I will be sure to take a picture from up there sometime. It is on the 3rd floor of a building that overlooks a very busy intersection with no traffic lights or signals. I love it up there, it reminds me of Starbucks a bit as it is a coffee shop/cafe and there are big comfy chairs, tables outside, and a huge fireplace.
Reminds me of one more thing, everyone here is wearing winter clothes...you know sweaters, coats, mittens, etc. We get the biggest chuckle out of it as it has been over 70 every day but one and yesterday hit 80. We were warm yesterday without shorts, but did ok as long as we stayed out of the direct sun. If they are dressing this warm now, I can not imagine what the heat is like in the summer!
Counting the hours until I get to experience more of all my daughters' have ever known and then just 2 days after that they become a part of our family for good. Life is good, it is tough sometimes, but it is so good!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Long Day

What a day. I can't even remember what I posted previously so forgive me if stuff seems redundant.

On the adoption front things are finally making sense. We do have a G&R date of the 13th and I am counting down the hours until I get to bring the twins "home" to the hotel with me. It will be a hard weekend, but we are going to visit on Sunday in the morning, I expect it will be a longer visit than we had the last time and I hope to be able to play with them and interact with them more. I say I because Brian will not be there. Our travel agent emailed us to let us know that there was a change in Brian's scheduled flight on sunday and to head straight to the airlines office to work it out. Long story short, Brian would have to leave earlier on Sunday only to arrive home on the same flight (11-12 hour layover in L.A.) or he had the choice of his previous schedule the day before or the day after. So since we have really just been touring, we have decided to send him home a day early. We both miss the older two so much and this way he will be home with them when they arrive home from Florida. It will also give him about half a day to sleep before they get there and hopefully that will help him with the jet-lag that we both dred quite a bit. I am going to miss him. I do look forward to dad coming on Friday though, and only monday will be spent alone as the babies will keep me company from Tuesday on...in fact I have a feeling we will be very busy with appointments and lovin's from the minute I get them! We are hopefull to make our flights home, but I am not going to hold my breath....if we make them it will be picking up the babies Visa's THAT day as the schedule has no room for error. I can not imagine it will be too hard to hit US soil before the end of the year though and ultimately that is my goal...I want to make sure to be home in time to qualify for the tax credits, other wise I might be getting a job!

Adventures for today:
We went a good little jaunt to the airline office, and from there headed even further south to the Bookworm bookshop. A Wonderful little shop owned and operated by a French guy that spoke superb English. I sold him a couple books and bought a couple books (quite activity for when babies are sleeping.) I do hope to go back as he did say how he would like to see the babies. IT's a great place to stop if you are in Hanoi, his shop is very nice and for 50,000dong we got a very detailed map of the Old Quarter. We also stopped at the temple that is on Hoan Kiem Lake to see the red bridge and to go around the little island a bit. The temple was very pretty and has this huge preserved turtle inside it. The story goes something about a great warrior who defeated many invaders and drove them out of Vietnam, however a great turtle one day comes out of the lake and takes his sword to the depths of the lake (it is a VERY murkey lake) and the country enters into a very long period of peace. Hoan Kiem means restored sword, so it is the lake of the restore sword. The Vietnamese believe it is good luck to see a turtle therefor in the lake, and while we were exiting, one popped its head up, a good size looking one too! The people scrambled about to try to see it or take a picture. Must have been a luck day for them, but to me it was simply wonderful to see their excitement as from what I can tell it does not happen often.
Back to the hotel to try to change and arrange who is picking Brian up from the airport....let us know if any of you are interested!
Out for lunch, had wonderful spring rolls (mine fried, his fresh) at a place called Little Hanoi. VERY good. From there we started a little shopping spree. I bought Aoi Dai's for the girls (traditional Vietnamese outfit), smocked embroidered linen dresses for the babies (4 of them for around $24USD total!), Christmas gifts for my niece and nephews (can't tell as I know their mommy is a faithful reader!) and some balls to take to the orphanage for the children there to play with. We brought some of the small pre-packaged candy canes to take to the orphanage as well, hope that they are allowed to have them and that they like them.
It is funny, but they do celebrate "Christmas" here in a sense. There are decorations with Santa, and the store fronts are all done in red and green, with snowy looks to them...but not a single reference to the origins of Christmas anywhere. We do get a kick out of the decor though and I am going to add pics to the slide up top here in the morning. It is 3 AM now and I need to get back to sleep or I will get my sleeping all messed up again.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Things are looking up!

Well it isn't perfect news but I will take it. Tuesday the girls will be ours forever!
HOORAY! We are relieved as we were concerned if it was postponed too long that my flight out might be a little too close for comfort. Now, me doing the ceremony on my own will be interesting for sure. I imagine I will be an emotional wreck and plan on packing extra Kleenexes. Dad won't be here yet, but thankfully I have made some great friends while here and they are adopting their babies from the same province and they will have their ceremony at the same time. Hoping that either the Longs or the Pokos will have a free hand if I would need it and I will be packing my sling, it'll free up one arm at least to sign papers with!

Todays adventures:
We hung around the room this morning unpacking all the baby clothes and working out in our heads what all we wanted to try to bargain for in all of the streets surrounding us. For lunch we went just a few doors down the road to the "Green Tangerine" I loved the place. It is in an old building crammed between shops and is such a beatiful little spot. The food was wonderful and the presentation something you would expect at a fine restaurant with white linens and silver. I wish I had taken a picture of our meals and the inside of the place, good reason to go back. When you first walk in it is a somewhat open seating area, keep walking through to a very European looking courtyard with seating, and then on into another seating area. Skinny but deep, like many of the buildings here.
Also went to a nice little coffee/ice cream shop with the Longs and Pokos. We had Italian sodas that were very good. It was a nice little spot at the south side of the lake with huge windows you could look out and watch the motorbikes and cars fly by.
After that, we stopped at the supermarket. I wanted some Coca-Cola as it seems to keep my tummy settled and also I wanted to find some nail polish so I can paint one of the twins' toes to help tell them apart (one of the handful of things I had meant to pack and didn't) No luck though, hopefully I can find some before tuesday, somewhere!
Supper upstairs in the hotel, the staff is beginning to recognize us there. I really like where we are staying. Right on the edge of the shops, close to the lake, not far from 2 supermarkets, and very friendly staff....add the free breakfast and wireless internet and I am good to go!

Tired and going to bed soon, but hoping for more about the babies for you all. We hope to visit with them one more time before Brian flies home on Sunday.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Still no news

Please remember us as this is trying time for us. We still do not know for sure when we will have our G&R and we are not sure if Brian will get to see the babies again before he leaves. I want to be sure to tell you all that nothing is wrong with the adoption itself or the babies. Simply put the officials are not committing to a date so far as we can tell. We like it here, do not get us wrong, we simply wish things were moving along as planned. You spend all those days waiting and wishing away the time between now and travel. Now we are here, but it simply isn't going like we imagined over and over in our heads.
I am feeling better today, but am being careful to drink plenty of water and resting every so often. I am glad in a way that we don't have the babies yet as I want to get past this before they get here so I can totally focus on them. However I can't help but think having them here might help cure me.
I am hoping my next post bears good news for us, and want to be sure to re-itterate that we are fine, healthy, and liking Hanoi...we simply are ready to hold our girls forever.


Is that a word?

That is how we feel, and we use that word often. After an elevator ride, especially up a level or two...discombobulated. You feel kind of like you are still on the flight over and a little out of sorts. This word also applies to the way we feel about our purpose here. We know we are supposed to be here to get our twins, but yet we still do not have them...discombobulated.

Today was an off sorts day (did I mention discombobulated?) We got up this morning, had another wonderful breakfast up at the top of our hotel. Headed down the street to the supermarket with a fellow adoptive family that had arrived the night before and then took off on our own. The idea was to see more of the city and try to get used to our surroundings. We ended up not lost, but not exactly sure where we are. The whole area we are in surrounds a beautiful lake (I'll post pictures if I can ever get pictures to post!) So no matter where we are, if we can find the lake we can figure out where we are. As we were walking, we kept thinking it was just around the corner, not so. However we were still headed in the general direction we wanted too. Finally we come to the lake and we had bypassed the majority of it.

A little about Hanoi:
Around the lake is an area called the Old Quarter. This older part of the city adjoins the French Quarter which is also partially along the lake. The lake is good sized, but not too large that you can't simply take a walk around it. The streets are NOT straight here, they wind and curve as they are old paths that have gotten larger over the years and now are large enough for at least one car in most places, though some are still only accessible by bike/motorbike. So as you are headed down a street, you change directions a fair amount. Street names change sometimes at each intersection. For instance the street our hotel is on to the one supermarket is a straight shot and about 4 citi blocks away, the name changes 3 times. Each street name represents a different trade and a majority of shops on that street will sell products under that heading. There are streets for hats, shoes, silk, bowls, statues, art, baby items, fish, coffins, you name it and there is a street for it. With all the name changes, turning and winding, and the sensory overload it is easy to get to wondering where you are!
A little more on the sensory overload. There are smells that you have never smelled, some good some not so good. There is SO much to see (the people, the stores, the homes above them, the traffic, signs, product, etc.) and there is quite a bit of noise as well. You take all that and try to accomplish a task in the middle of it and you simply get overloaded.
In our walk today I got overloaded and simply didn't eat lunch. We came back to the hotel to eat, but I was "over-cooked" as I call it and needed some down time. Add that to the lack of sleep last night (I woke at 4 AM and COULD not go back to sleep) and trying some local coffee (they make it with sweetend condensed milk, now thats a good idea if you don't have an empty stomache) and you get Jenn not feeling well. I thought going out for a walk would help and we went to buy diapers. Got out and about and to the supermarket, into the diaper isle and I didn't think I could keep going. It was very stuffy in there and something smelled so strong I could not stand it. Got the diapers and some more water (JUST in case we get babies on Friday) and started for the hotel. Brian asked a couple times if we should get a cab, I really was not doing well. On the way back we realized all the above (no sleep, no lunch, and STRONG coffee) and decided I hadn't taken good care of myself. A banana, glass of water, and hour long nap later and I was feeling top notch and ready to go.

Adventures for today (as if that wasn't all an adventure!):
Bought my first items from the stores along the street. As many on here know, I REALLY wanted something to hang over the crib. I was able to find lanters (once again, I will post pictures when able) and little handpainted wooden dragonflies. They will look so pretty hanging over the crib! Purple, green and of course pink in different shapes and sizes....can't wait to hang them up. It was fun to negotiate prices, though I am told I did not do well at it. I didn't care though as I knew exactly what I wanted and was able to talk them down a little bit to what equals $26 for ALL of it. I was hoping for $20-25, so needless to say I am pretty pleased with myself and have challenged my critic to do the next deal.
Next adventure, 2 meals out! Well, lunch didn't really count as it was not technically lunch. We stopped in at Highland Coffee (kind of like a Starbucks) It is beautiful, overlooks a busy intersection, and had big comfy couches. I figured I would try the Vietnamese coffee. It was wonderfully thick and rich, but VERY strong. Later I find out it is sometimes brewed with chickory and wonder if that didn't help my feeling cruddy along to almost feeling ill.
Tonight however after the banana and nap, we went out to eat lunch with a fellow adoptive family and had a wonderful time. The place we ate at was call Hoa Sua and it is a vocational training restaurant. The staff are all underpriveleged or street children who apply and enter this school. They learn life-skills, different languages, and then move on to either cooking or serving in culinary. Wonderful idea to help them gain some skills as there are plenty of places around here that would hire good help like that. We arrived and the young guy seating us smiled and started up the steps. Half way up the second flight, a gal interrupts our journey and they argue a bit. After that we go on with him another floor to this little balcony/open air room. It was beautiful and it was just us! There were other tables, but it was like we were given our own private dining room as the other tables were all empty! I really wish I had taken a couple pictures and might return to do so. The food was very much French influenced. The menu was extensive, the portions small, but satisfying, and everything tasted wonderful! We had a creamed potato soup, I had Pork with an apple sauce and rice, Brian had Shrimp Scampi, desert was a creme caramel custard, YUM!
Total for all four of us was about $35, all of us! I would really like to go back, but not sure I could find it on foot as it is back down a quiet allya ways away from our hotel. Worth paying a taxi to go to though and a HIGHLY reccomended stop for those traveling to Hanoi. What could be better, your helping young men and women finish their vocational training, supporting the schooling they took before hand, and getting a great meal with amazing atmosphere.

No more solid news on when we have our G&R, still hoping for Friday, though as the days wear on we are less confident of that. Wishing sooner rather than later as we already miss those two precious faces as much as we miss Olivia and Grace.

I will end by noting that tonight, on the way to dinner, I felt more at ease here. As we drove through town, I was able to notice more of the details...individual stores rather than the mass on a block...individual people rather than the group crowding the side walk. The layers of culture shock are starting to peel away and I felt for the first time that I am really starting to see the real Hanoi and perhaps glimpsing at a bit of the real Vietnam. More on our adventures tomorrow and also we are hoping to book a couple trips out and about the northern part of Vietnam so we will keep you updated!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What a Day!

Well, our first full day in Hanoi and what a day it has been. We spent the day unpacking (our luggage came late last night) and also getting the room organized how we like. We took a nap after that and had a quick lunch in the restaurant upstairs. Then we piled in the van with the other two families who are adopting in the same province as we are to go see the babies!
First stop was the Red Cross Orphanage for one of the families and their little one is SO adorable and a bit on the chunky side...anyone who knows me in person will remember how much I love chubby cheeks! The ride to our province was a bit long, though I certainly can't complain after the time we have spent in the air. It was interesting to see more of the country side and I was able to snap a few good pictures of the area of my children's birth.
Next stop was the Government orphanage and social center. We had to drive a fair bit to get to it and it was approaching dark when we got there. The director came out to let us know that the lights have been off all day so we would have to meet the babies on the patio. I knew this wouldn't be a long meeting as the Vietnamese do not like to let their babies be out in the cool or sun very long at all. It was so wonderful to hold the babies. To those who have seen our referral pics, yes they look like the picture and YES they are deffinately twins! They are so little, I was worried after our first stop that they might be as big and thought the clothes we brought might not fit...no worries now, they are so petite and their features look so delicate. I am sure that he 0-3 that we brought will fit them, and I brought a couple 3-6 just in case. Their nanny was sure to let us know that their names are both names of flowers that grow in Vietnam. I am hoping to ask when we go back if she is the one that named them. The girls are so beautiful and very well cared for. I was amazed at their movements and how they looked for their nanny. Those in adoption world know this is a good sign that they are attached, it is stated that a baby can much more easily transfer an attachment than they can form on when they never have before.
Now the bad news. It seems that there are some meetings that are tying up officials and they are wanting to change our G&R again to next week. I am heartbroken over it and it was all I could do to hand them back tonight. I was handed Aubrey and Brian was handed Chloe and the families with us helped by taking lots of pics and some video. They had woken them for us to visit with them so they weren't too sure what was going on at first, but it wasn't long and they were cooing at us and Chloe even ended up with the hiccups which she found funny. Chloe is the talker and Aubrey is a cuddle-bug, though our visit was short so we'll see when we are able to spend more time with them.
I want so badly to post pictures, but without our G&R being a firm thing now I am going to play it safe and wait until everything settles. I know this will disappoint some of you, but it is what our agency reccomends...no public posting of photos until the G&R. Now it seems that there is a chance for Friday and after that it won't be until Wednesday. I am really praying for Friday as Brian leaves on Sunday night...I hate for him to not be there for the G&R and their first night with us. I simply can't imagine it without him! After saying that I want to tell you all how much I wish you could see them and how much I wish I could share right now. They are simply perfect and sweet.
Here are some pictures of where they are from though to tide you over and hopefully we will have that G&R soon and I'll be able to post pictures soon.

PS blogger won't let me post pics right now, I'll try again later

Monday, December 04, 2006

Waking up to a new world

Hanoi is a bit on the noisy side. At first I thought I was late to wake up to go somewhere with my mom...she is the only one I usually hear honking outside my door. Well, silly me, I am in Hanoi! They have traffic that is so funny. Lines and signs but no on pays much attention unless there is a traffic signal and even then it seems negotiable. Very funny! To keep order though there is this "language" of honking. Not the mad, get out of my way, what are you thinking honking we do at home, but a "pardon me" type of honking and all day the horns go on. It isn't near as annoying as it sounds.

Our hotel is nice. Nice linens on the beds, beautiful bathroom, no view but light from a HUGE glass block window. We like it here. Plus they do a huge buffet breakfast (Asian and Western) and our internet is included...wireless.

Today is the day we go to see the babies, it's 8AM now and we are hoping to leave after lunch time. I can not wait to finally hold them and I will be sure to take and post some pictures. I have taken some photos, but won't post them now as my connection is somewhat slow...keep your eyes peeled for additions though!

More Later

We have arrived!

This is a post written in sections according to our travel…I decided to spend a bit of time (think 15 hours in a sardine can with nothing else to do!) writing ahead of time as I know when we arrive in Hanoi I will be tired and ready to sleep.

Flight to LAX
This was a DREAM flight! Just you standard 3 and 3 across airplane…probably 40 rows (?) there were only 30-35 people on board! We could all simply pick a row and have 3 seats to ourselves to spread out. That is about where the dream ends though. Typical service in the order of a small glass of beverage and some cheese and crackers. Most of you know I am not a picky eater…but the “refreshments” weren’t very refreshing…and we will just leave it at that. I really shouldn’t complain though as we did leave on time, arrived a bit early and it was a smooth flight.

Flight to Hong Kong:
We are still on this flight as I write. We are flying Cathay Pacific in economy class. I SO badly had wanted to fly EVA’s Evergreen Deluxe ( a step between economy/coach and business class) but there were not many flights available, severely limiting our options should we need to change our flights. It isn’t any bigger leg-room and seat wise than a standard airplane. My legs get very sore at times as there is no place to put them without them bumping into something. Many of you may not know me in person, I am 6 ft tall and still carrying a bit of Olivia and Grace in my “seat” (she says with an embarrassed flush) The seats are comfy though small, and service is TOP notch! As soon as we were in the air (we left about 45 min late as they held the plane for a few passengers trying to make the connecting) we were served a MEAL, a REAL meal. Brian had Beef Merlot with Mashed Potatoes and Veggies, I had Sweet and Sour Pork with Rice. All meals are served with beverage, shrimp and baby green salad with vinaigrette, and warm rolls. Yum! Can’t wait for breakfast and still not sure if I’ll do the standard eggs or try the Congee. Every hour or so they go up and down the isles with trays of water in case you need a quick drink, and around 4 or 5 hours after they cleaned up supper (no CLUE what time it is, not even going to try to figure it out as I think we pass a time zone every hour or so??) they came by with snacks (choice of cold cut sandwich or noodles and shrimp...think Ramen Noodles) and beverages again.

Brian seems to be doing as ok as Brian can with major changes coming in our life and with being out of his own house with his own bed and bathroom and all. Many of you out there that are married know exactly what I am saying. I am doing fine for the most part.
Sleeping is hard for me. I had a minor clausterophic-sleep induced melt down, very minor…just was really tired after supper and needed to sleep. I woke after about 4 hours with an upset stomach. I am thinking it was the sleeping pills I took, could be motion as there is a bit of turbulence every once in a while, though I rarely get motion sick. Getting up and stretching and the afore mention snack helped that, though I was still groggy from the sleeping pills. Not sure I’ll take them again. I wish I had asked the dr for a few good ones as I have a feeling these OTC ones just groggy you and not help you sleep!

We have little TV’s on the back of the seat in front of us and can choose from an array of different movies and entertainment…watched the 2nd Pirate of the Caribbean with supper. I’ve already finished off my Beverly Lewis book, my other gal that I can’t ever remember her name (Wanda Brunstetter??) and am on to one I picked up in the airport. Should have it finished before I arrive in Hanoi which is good as I doubt to have much free reading time after that…especially after Wed when we get the girls.

Did I mention that our Giving and Receiving Ceremony is on Wednesday December 6th. It was supposed to be on the 5th but got moved a day shortly before we left. I hope we are in good enough shape when we get there that we can see some sights before then, that way the days before Brian leaves can be spent on the babies and he will still have been able to see some of their country.

Well, we are over the eastern parts of Russia right now for all I can tell on the map (my Asian geography knowledge is sadly not as good as it should be!) We have about 5 and half hours to go before landing in Hong Kong and only about 45 min between that and our next flight…hope we make it! Hope our luggage makes it!


We are here, in Hanoi that is and it is SO wierd feeling...it is the jet-lag? It is very interesting here and not quite what I expected. People are very friendly, the hotel is nice, the traffic is something that you simply can't learn, you just have to experience it!

Our luggage did not make it...we knew this was a possibility though, so we were prepared. By prepared, I mean mentally, we are leaving to go to a store here soon so we can get prepared physically. We SHOULD have our luggage tomorrow...should. The last part of the LA to Hong Kong flight was hard and long. Nothing wrong with the flight, but I had simply had enough. My legws wanted to stretch out, my feet were swollen, and I hadn't slept much. Not saying I had a fit or break down or anything, but I simply was not enjoying myself. Going home at least I will have the babies to care for, that will help pass the time as well as the bulkhead seats so I"ll have leg room...something to look forward to.

The congee was good, think a rice porridge with mushrooms, seafood, and ginger in it. Then we were served another good meal on our Vietnam flight. We were lucky to make that flight. We had only 40 minutes to go out of the terminal and back through security after our Hong Kong flight. We made it just in time and even were able to use the bathroom, but I don't like things being that close.

I am really tired, so I am not going to write more except that I found out today the G&R might not be until the 7th now, frustrating. BUT I did also find out that tomorrow we will go visit the babies...I am so very excited to finally hold them. Must go and buy some water and then get some supper with a fellow adopting family before crashing in our beautifully made bed.

More later when my brain is functioning better.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Today is the day

Well today is the day, the suitcases have been weighed, the laptop is packed, the girls are not even noticing we aren't with them in Florida, the dog is just about to get a bath (shhhh, don't tell her) and we will go take her to my best friend's mom and dad who are SO wonderful to be taking care of her.

I really don't know what to post today? I'm leaving for Vietnam, its kind of like leaving for the hospital for birth, but it's a LONG trip. We leave Ohio at 6 tonight and arrive in Hanoi on their Monday morning at 10 (for Ohio that would be 10PM on Sunday) For all you Ohioans and East coasters, Hanoi is 12 hours ahaed of us, so as I am posting it is 11:30 AM here on Saturday (I really should be bathing the poor dog, not this, but oh well!) so in Hanoi it would be 11:30 PM on Saturday night...get it?

Thankfullness post for the day:
Plain and simple to all of those who have helped us in our process. I get all teary thinking about the people online that have had so many tips for us and support through the process, then there are doctors and lawyers who have helped along the way, family, friends, people that ask how we are and then people that are praying for us. MaryAnn, Deb, and Sherolyn.....thank you for the calls the past day! I can not tell you how much it means to hear someone say "We love you guys and we will be praying for you!"

It's going to be a long flight and I still have lots to do. I am not sure I am going to be able to post between now and Hanoi, so don't be surprised if you do not hear from me until Monday morning!

Talk to you all later, I gotta go get my baby girls!

Friday, December 01, 2006

1 more night

One more night in the US.

My children are somewhere between here and Disney.

I am not ready....yet.

Just a little more to do and I'll post more on tomorrow, the day we leave for our twins.