Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sorry for the Delay; Coming Soon!

Just wanted to let you know I will be posting Tet Vietnamese New Year pics soon & update about our home visit. Hope to do that tonight, but also want to finish up some paperwork, too!

Saturday, February 24, 2007


WE DID RECEIVE OUR PASSPORTS YESTERDAY! That makes everything look more real. Also, if we happen to want to go to Mexico or Canada, we can!

Kevin is getting his lab tests taken today and his physical will be on Tuesday evening.

There's a winter storm watch for our county. Earlier it was for the whole Chicagoland area, but now it doesn't look like that bad! Although, it may rain and sleet and turn to ice. That won't be good driving conditions and we need to drive into the city to the Chicago Chapter of FCVN (Families with Children from Vietnam)'s Tet Celebration, which starts at 4:30, so we better leave about 3 or so, since who knows how the roads may be. We'll have a traditional Vietnamese dinner, performances by Truc Lam's lion team and girls' dance troupes, and some social time and kids' activities. Hopefully, I remember to take the camera, so I'll have some pictures to post.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Passport News Again!

First, it said, we should get our passports on or about February 11th, then it said on or about February 17th. Now, it says on or about February 25th. That's a Sunday and last I knew the USPS didn't deliver on Sunday! Will we really get it around the 25th or will our status change again?!

OH MY GOSH!!! Our passports might be here. Kevin said we got 2 envelopes in the mail from the U.S. Government! Keep your fingers crossed for us that it is them!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sorry that I haven't posted in a while. Just a lot of stuff going on and not enough time to do it all. I had my physical and blood tests this past Saturday, which I passed with flying colrs. Got a tetanus/pertussis vaccine, which I hadn't had in who knows how long. Our home visit is next week, so I probably won't be posting much after today until it is over. Our agency got 2 more healthy children referrals and 6 waiting children were placed. 6 families will be traveling to Vietnam this weekend. Currently, there are 48 families waiting to travel, 130 families on the waiting list to be matched with a child, and 178 families who have applied, are in the homestudy phase and are waiting for CIS approval. Well, I'll probably not get to update until next week. One more think - Alleluiah, it is finally warming up after the terrible cold spell we had followed by a snowstorm and icy conditions. It's finally getting light earlier and staying light longer, which is just wonderful. Remember daylight savings time falls about 3-4 weeks earlier on March 11th; it also won't be ending until November 4th.

Strange, I can't do any formatting on this entry. Good thing that I wasn't planning to post any photos or anything.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Website Stats - Hope Mills

I was just looking at some stats on this blog through theweb counter that tracks the number of hits or people who visit thisblog. Although the statistics are vague, I can tell generally where the people are located when they visit this. It just names the city, state, or country. It's not real accurate since mine says Chicago, IL and I definitely don't live in Chicago but a distant suburb, but you get the general idea. Well, I was looking at thiese statistics just a bit ago and I noticed a hit from Hope Mills, NC. Most of you think where the heck is Hope Mills and I would have too, but at one time, I knew someone who's sister lived there. I just find it interesting that of all the places in North Carolina, much less the U.S. that the small town of Hope Mills shows up on my blog stats. What am I getting at? I don't know just found this interesting.

Can You Believe There Were Even Any Survivors in This?

Can you believe anyone even survived this horrific crash!?!? 4 teenagers died and 4 teens and 1 young adult were seriously injured after the car crashed into a utility pole on Sunday morning. Just a terrible tragedy that occurred in the far western suburbs of Chicago. After seeing the car, I'm shocked that any of them even survived. The driver is being charged with a DUI and numerous other counts, including reckless homicide. Very, very sad and another reason that proves the point that drinking and driving don't mix.

Monday, February 12, 2007


As of last week, our agency received 5 referrals, 3 for boys and 2 for girls. More referrals are expected soon. All the families that were in Vietnam are now back home with their new additions. There will be 6 families traveling shortly after Tet, which is Sunday.

This past Saturday, Kevin & I attended a conference sponsored by the Adoption Resource Connection in St. Charles, IL. It was very interesting and we were able to pick up lots of information. The conference was free since ARC is an adoption ministry and their purpose is to educate others about adoption and adoption issues. We attended seminars on the Legal Aspects of Adoption, Creative Ways to Finance an Adoption, and Can You Love An Adoptive Child and Can They Love You. We'll be attending another adoption conference next month in Lisle, IL

Big news on our part is we have scheduled our last home study appointment, which is the actual home visit. It is scheduled for February 27th, which is also the same day as when Kevin has his physical. My physical is this Saturday.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Where we are at!

This past week, we were getting more paperwork ready to turn in at our individual homestudy appointments. We each had to meet individually with our social worker, right after each other. So we finished a big chunk of paperwork and turned that in. The majority of our paperwork was for DCFS (Dep't of Children & Family Services. Here in Illinois, you have to be approved for an adopt-only foster home. That is in case, something happens and only one parent ends up traveling. We both are planning to go to Vietnam, but they still require it, in case something happens at the last minute After our individual appointments, we went through the document checklist and we are doing quite well with things. We still need to get local police clearances on each of us (we go to the local police department, they run a search with our names and find that we have no record of anything in this town. We also separately are getting police clearances by the state and the FBI.), we need to turn in our petition to adopt a foreign orphan, which we send to the Immigration Service (USCIS - here we will be fingerprinted again!), provide copies of our passport (we are still waiting on those. I just checked and it says, we should get them around the 17th, originally it had said we should get them around the 11th, but not surprisingly since passports are now needed for travel in Mexico and Canada, the time has been extended another week.), I still need to send verification of some our financial statements. (I forgot to include some of the statements, when I turned in our financial declaration, which listed our assets and liabilities. Thank goodness, we own a house, even if we still owe a lot; also they count any life insurance you may have as well as any retirement savings.), we also need to have our physicals, so we can have our medical report sent in (Mine is scheduled for next week and Kevin's the following week.) Then the home study report and a couple miscellaneous documents will be done either at the home visit or sometime shortly afterwards. After the homestudy report is finished, it can be sent to Immigration to be included with our petition and then once we are fingerprinted, we wait for final approval from USCIS (Those not in adoption circles, I defined what USCIS is, anyone remember? Hint it can be found in this blog entry.) Well, tomorrow is a busy day. Although it is Saturday. We have to be up early to go to an adoption conference in St. Charles about 45 minutes away; so I guess I better finish and go to bed!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Tet, Vietnamese New Year

Vietnam is a country in the Eastern Hemisphere that was influenced by China for many years. Therefore, the Chinese New Year and Tet, the Vietnamese New Year have many similarities. Tet is the abbreviation of Tet Nguyen Dan which means the first morning of the first day of the new period. Tet marks the beginning of a new year on the lunar calendar, and the beginning of Spring. Vietnamese are constantly aware of the phases of the moon. All events are planned by the lunar calendar. The New Year begins on the first night of the first moon after the sun enters Aquarius. This is sometime between January 21 and February 19 on the solar calendar.

Tet is a huge celebration lasting three days. Families save money, store food and plan far in advance for this major holiday in Vietnam. The Vietnamese take extreme care to start the New Year out right. They buy new clothes, paint and clean their homes, cook three days worth of food, pay off all debts and make amends to rid themselves of all bad feelings. Cleaning is frowned on during Tet because one would not want to sweep out any good luck. Digging and drawing water is also not allowed so the ground and water can enjoy the holiday.

The marketplace is very busy the week before Tet, as people buy food, trinkets, firecrackers, flowers, and other items in anticipation of the holiday. At four o'clock in the afternoon on Tet Eve, all the markets close down so the people can go home and prepare for midnight when Tet begins. The atmosphere is very festive. Incense is burned in the homes. The color Red, symbolizing good luck and happiness is seen everywhere. Food is plentiful, homes are decorated, parks are full of crowds of people dressed in their best new clothes and for three days the people have an ultimate celebration.

Tet is a time for visits from family and friends. The first visitor to a home is very important. If the first visitor is rich, prestigious, or happy then the family will have good fortune that year. Usually this visitor is a relative, but sometimes the family will invite a special guest that they feel will bring them good luck. The first day of Tet is reserved for visiting family and relatives.
The second day is set aside for special guests and close friends to visit, and the third day is for teachers and business associates to make a visit. Visitors end their visit with a farewell wish for the family such as, "I wish that money will flow into your house like water and out like a turtle."

The Vietnamese believe that their deceased ancestors will visit the family for the holiday. Alters are decorated in the homes with incense, flowers and photographs of deceased relatives. A tray full of fruit, coins and a tall vase of blossoms are placed in front of the alter symbolizing good luck and prosperity. The third day is also a day to visit the graves of deceased relatives. The graves are decorated with incense, flowers and candles. Many Buddhists go to their favorite Pagoda to pray for a good year. The Catholics go to a pre-midnight mass.

Not only is Tet the beginning of a New Year, it is also everyone's birthday. The Vietnamese do not know or acknowledge the exact day they were born. A baby turns one on Tet no matter when he/she was born that year. Children say they were born in the year of the symbol of the lunar calendar for that year. On the first morning of Tet, adults congratulate children on becoming a year older by presenting them with red envelopes that contain "Lucky Money," or li xi. These envelopes are given to the children by parents, siblings, relatives and close friends.

Families choose a Tet tree, or tac, which is a cone shaped fruit tree with miniature oranges just ripening. The more fruit on the tree, the luckier the family. Greeting cards and good luck symbols are hung from the Tet trees. Each family also has a branch of the Mai tree in their homes, a symbol of spring, which bear lucky little yellow flowers.

Food plays a major role in the Tet celebration. Tet is a time of excess, one does not enjoy Tet, one "eats" Tet. The first day a feast of boiled male virgin chicken, sticky rice, a special soup made with clear vermicelli and bamboo shoots, boiled pork, and 3 or 5 duck eggs is offered to ancestors who have returned to their homes. Sticky rice and salt are also offered in the streets to any hungry ghosts who might be wandering in the neighborhood. A traditional food is Earth cake, a square cake made with rice beans and pork. When a watermelon is cut they believe that the redder the watermelon the more luck for the family. Several different desserts and dishes are made with coconut. On the third day another feast of virgin chicken is served to say farewell to ancestors returning to their ethereal abodes.

Deep Freeze

We have been in extremely cold temperatures since the weekend. With windchill, we were down to 30 or 40 below zero. Cold to say the least. Monday morning, I survived walking to the train. I was so layered, covered, and wrapped up, I was almost toasty. Too bad my new boots had something sharp in one of the seams and left me with a sore, blistered ankle. I returned those boots that I bought the day before and am sticking with my other boots for now. Luckily, I was able to contact a friend from the train and got a ride home, since Kevin wouldn't be home from work until late. I had to take a little later train, but it was well worth it to not to have to walk home in this weather, expecially, when it still is so dark when I get home. So, if you read this Ellen, thanks so much for the ride. The actual temperatures should be above zero and even in the high teens, but with wind chills will be around 11 below zero. Next week should offer some relief, but still will only be in the twenties. But after this week that's a heatwave. I'm definitely ready for spring, though.

Oh and don't believe, what many of us have heard, that it has to be above freexing to snow. It snowed all day yesterday. Luckily, it was the light fluffy stuff, but it still caused traffic back-ups and there was even a 40-car accident on one of the tollways.

On the adoption front, tomorrow each of us has another meeting with our social worker for 2 more home study visits. And tonight, I need to figure out our financial information. How much our monthly bills are and what we have in savings and all. Luckily, we can count any retirement savings, we have and we have almost paid off the car. It should definitely be paid off before the end of the year and dependent on my bonus at work next month, maybe a lot sooner. It sure will be nice to have the extra money from car payments to put in savings and to buy whatever stuff we'll eventually need for the baby.

Oh and by the way, congratulations to Melissa and other Hoosiers for the Colts victory against the Bears. Guess, we'll have another chance at the Super Bowl in another 21 years.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Agency Update

Our agency had 9 children who were adopted in January from Vietnam. No referrals were received this week, but they expect to receive some next week. Today, they received travel dates for 5 new families and they will be traveling at the end of the month after Tet. I will be posting soon about Tet, which is the Vietnamese New Year.