Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Odd Couple (And the Neals Pass Court!!)

First of all, congratulations to the Neal family!! They received the wonderful and long-awaited news today that they passed court and Cruz is officially their son!! God is so good! I cannot wait for them to bring that beautiful little boy home next month!

Secondly, me being a HUGE animal lover and all, I just had to post this awesome video clip that my friend Amber forwarded to me earlier this week. I think animals are oh so capable of teaching us some very important life lessons -- as exampled in this video. I will warn you, though, that before you watch this you may want to get a box of Kleenexes handy. Or not. Maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Winter Wonderland

That's what it looks like outside, anyway. It's really beautiful. I can say this because this is the first "real" snow of winter '08-'09 in Springfield, MO, and we still have power! If it was the tenth snow/sleet/icestorm (because we usually get all three forms of precipitation at the same time) of the year, I may have something else to say about it. I've been hibernating (working) inside all day today and last night, because frankly it's just easier than dealing with the travel conditions. We did get the Jeep out tonight to get Chinese carryout, but it was really just an excuse to go "four-wheeling" on the snow-covered roads. On our way back into our neightborhood Roger did his good deed for the day by trying to push a car up the hill into our no avail. Oh, well. At least he tried. If you don't have four-wheel drive around our neck of the woods, you're really screwed! But, I must say, bad weather like this really motivates me to get stuff done around the house and in my office that I usually try to put off for as long as possible, like getting everything ready for our taxes to be prepared. I hate that project but always feel awesome when I get it done. Now we just wait with abated breath to find out how much more money we "owe" the government. Oh, the excitement is just too much.

Well, since Roger alluded to the fact that I would be posting about our weekend, I will uphold my end of the deal and not leave you all hanging. I'm sure you're just dying to hear about our exciting weekend. First of all, I do not want to run for mayor -- at all. I wasn't even in Student Council back in the day, so running for mayor would be a little out of my league. All I really want is for Springfield to pass a smoking ban in all public places. Maybe Roger thinks the only way to accomplish that is to hold public office. I don't know. But come on, people! It's 2009! Are you kidding me? If New York City can go smoke free (along with a lot of other major cities), so can we. What precipitated this little tirade of mine was sitting in a nice restaurant/bar and having three women standing 2 inches behind me blowing cigarette smoke directly in my face. I was actually so grossed out I removed myself to go stand on the other side of the room rather than complaining so as to not incovenience them. Then, as it would of course go, the three women walked right past me on their way to being seated and had the nerve to say in a not-so-nice manner, "You can go back now." As if I offended them. But guess what? They didn't come smoke in my face anymore that night. I guess I got my point across. So I hate to be "that girl," but I just have to say smoking is really offensive to those of us who don't do it and have no choice but to be around it.

Sunday afternoon we had the pleasure of attending Finn's 2nd birthday! It was at a gym, as you can tell from the pictures below, and the adults were having just as much fun as the kids were. Finn got all sorts of fun toys and clothes, but his favorite gift appeared to be two packs of gum! Oh, to be 2 again......

The birthday boy!

Apparently no one read this sign...

Becoming one with the pommel horse

Jeff proving what we all already know -- this is harder than it looks on TV!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Small World

We've come to find out through this whole adoption process that it really is a small world. Or, at least when it comes to adoption (especially from Ethiopia) it's a small world. When Abby and I started the adoption process we went online looking for stories, articles, and anything else that would help us out. One of the first blogs we found was for Silas. So as we got farther along with the process we would routinely check in with Silas and his family. Well, come to find out, Silas' father is a writer....and a really great writer. I wish I would have seen this article before I posted my last entry. He did an amazing job of putting into words what I was thinking.

As far as we knew, Silas and his family were just random people on the internet that happened to touch our lives -- even though they didn't know it. Then last week, our buddy Caden went to Oklahoma City with his parents to meet up with some other kids from Ethiopia. Come to find out, they met up with Silas' family. And they are all part of this Ethiopian Blog Union -- hopefully Abby and I will get to meet everyone this summer in Chicago when a group of Ethiopian Adoption Bloggers all get together. (Our new friends, Matt & Meredith, are part of this group too.) Like I said, it's a well connected group. We've said since we decide to adopt from Ethiopia that we feel like we have a better support group in place for a child coming to us from 7,990 miles away than if we would have had our own biological child. It's amazing how God works.

And speaking of amazing: A couple that is in our agency is in Addis Ababa right now getting their precious daughter, Tarik. Congratulations to Reed and Lee Ann! Can't wait to hear all about the journey. So the small world continues to get smaller.

I'm trying to get Abby to write about our weekend. Hopefully she'll soon be on here to tell you how she is running for Mayor of well as post the pictures of my Olympic trials. Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Big Week

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm not even going to pretend I understand how significant this upcoming week will be. For starters, tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Second, Tuesday will be the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th President -- A historic event for sure. But with everything that has happened in my life and Abby's this past year, both events mean even more to us. With us adopting from Ethiopia (hopefully in 2009) the significance of Barack becoming the first President in America to be non-white takes on a whole new meaning. I remember growing up and Pops telling me I could be anything I wanted to be, do anything I wanted to do. Granted, our child can't technically become President of the United States when they get older because they weren't born in the USA, but for the first time it won't be because of the color of their skin. And the way things are going and changing, in a positive way, who knows how long before the "Natural Born Citizen" part of becoming President is no longer relevant. Tuesday just makes it easier for me to tell my child they can become anything they want -- which is an amazing thing to be able to tell your kid.

Being a white male who has grown up in the Midwest, there is no way for me to understand all of the hurdles, issues, and difficulties other races have had to endure in our country. But I feel like I owe it to my son and/or daughter to better understand the history of African-Americans. For years I've just seen "MLK" on my calendar on the third Monday of each January and moved on. This year I have taken it upon myself to try and understand what exactly Martin Luther King Jr. did -- for all races and for our country. I have just scratched the surface on research, and I'm already overwhelmed. It's hard to believe that a child in Africa is already teaching me more about my country. Reminds me of a great quote a friend shared with me: Africa does more for me than I can possibly do for Africa.

As for Barack and the inauguration on Tuesday, I'm very excited for the many opportunities and experiences it will open to my future child. Anyone that knows me knows there is one thing I can't stand to talk about: POLITICS. It's a secret ballot. However, it really doesn't matter who you voted for (or against). On Tuesday Barack will become our President, and as our pastor said this morning, "It is our duty to pray for our President." I pray that he has the wisdom he needs to lead our country -- and I pray that he becomes a great role model for future generations.

Yes, this is the hardest thing I've ever had to write. I'm horrible at talking politics. I'm horrible at talking race. I'm horrible at talking about things I'm uncomfortable talking about. So thanks for taking the time to read this. I still haven't put down exactly what I'm wanting to put down -- 'cause I haven't found the words to express myself fully. All I know is that the next two days are very important. And they have become even more important to me because of an amazing child 7,990 miles away.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vegas In Review

We are home from Vegas safe and sound. Good times, really, really good times this past week. And the weather, by the way, was perfect. 68 degrees every day. Not that we got to enjoy much of it, but it sure beat Springfield's weather!! For anyone who knows us well, you know how much Roger and I both love Vegas. In fact, we had a conversation while we were there about who has been there more times. I really thought I might win considering the first time I went to Vegas I was only 17. Not everyone has a cool dad who takes his teenage daughter with him on business trips like I do. But, alas, I only counted 9 trips to Roger's 12. That's okay, though. He's three years older than me, so I figure it averages out to about the same. And, for my friends Kate and Carrie out there reading this, I was reminded of some hilariously good times we had on our respective trips, which Roger had the pleasure of hearing about....again....for like the 50th time.

I thought I'd try to recap some of the week's highlights. Since we have only been officially waiting for almost a month now and it is waaaaaaay too soon to have any exciting adoption news, this post will selfishly be about us and our trip only.

First of all, thank you, Amy Buzbee, for recommending this great little shopping secret called the Primm outlet mall. Okay, maybe it's not a secret, but I certainly had never heard about it. Since the convention didn't start until Wednesday and we got to Vegas Monday afternoon, Roger and I (mostly me) decided we'd take the 30-minute charter bus ride for $15/person out to Primm, NV, to check out the highly-acclaimed outlet mall. Totally worth it. Seriously. I just wish I knew beforehand how good it was really going to be so I could have brought an extra suitcase for the shopping. It's an indoor mall with high-end retail shops such as: William Sonoma, Coach, Kate Spade, Neiman Marcus-Last Call, AG Jeans, Kenneth Cole, etc., along with some of the more regular stores like Banana, Old Navy, Gymboree, etc. I behaved impeccably well and only bought two pairs of AG jeans for myself, which were half price or less, by the way. For all the women out there who are built like, well, women, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about AG jeans. I have yet to find a pair of jeans that last as long and fit as well as this brand. Enough said. Moving on. The rest of my steals (not literally) I found were of course baby-related. Ever since we decided to adopt, every shopping outing turns into shopping for baby. For those of you out there who thinks it's completely and utterly ridiculous that I'm already buying clothes when we don't know how old our baby will be when we bring him home, or what season, for that matter, let me just try to explain that not only do I have soooooo much fun baby shopping (largely due to the fact that I've been waiting three years for it), it's also incredibly therapeutic. It makes this waiting process more bearable. Therefore, it's more than worth whatever amount of money I'm spending, which still isn't very much since I'm sticking to my rule of only buying stuff on sale. With that being said, the baby came home with the most stuff!

(Notice all the red clearance stickers, as described above)

(Apparently Roger's feet hurt so badly -- in CONVERSE TENNIS SHOES! -- after our day of shopping he had to take them off before we got back to the room! Considering the shoes I manage to wear out there, I'm not even going to comment on this.)

We also enjoyed eating some amazing food -- even if it was at 11 p.m. one night. When in Vegas! While we were out there we heard a lot about how the economy is really hurting Vegas' tourism industry, and let me just say -- no kidding!!!! Gambling aside, it's expensive just to be there! The food prices are outrageous! I mean, I know it's always been an expensive city, but it has gotten completely out of control. Fifty bucks for a plate of spaghetti and a chicken pot pie is hardly acceptable. And that wasn't even at a "nice" restaurant. Whatever. I'm not even going to mention what it cost for an adult beverage.

Okay, on to the whole reason we were there. Every January the promotional products industry has the PPAI show which showcases the new products for the year, is an opportunity to become familiar with new vendors, and also serves as a chance to meet up face to face with people you work with over the phone/email all year. A lot of the vendors also promote special show pricing for distributors, people like Roger and Elite Promotions. I say this like I know what I'm talking about. I really don't. I'm not even in the industry. This is just what I've gathered from Roger and from attending this show for the past five years. I'd like to think I do serve somewhat of a purpose while there, though. I just follow Roger around the 4.3 million booths (it seriously feels like it. It's a huge show)and get my badge scanned at the various booths as I'm instructed, along with taking notes for Roger when he sees something that will work exceptionally well for one of his clients. I did take one funny picture at the show. You see lots of crazy gadgets and gizmos, along with a lot of the same stuff, but once in a while you see something that catches your attention. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it. It's a giant Weepul, the oldest promotional product in the book!! Not for sale, by the way. Just an attention grabber.

Wednesday night was a super-fun time. Roger won an award for being a kick-a$$ pen salesman!! Seriously, he won an award. He nominated himself, but he was actually chosen and received an award Wednesday night at the House of Blues for having over $1,000,000 in sales in a one-year time period. That is a lot of pens, my friends! Congratulations, Roger!! Your salesman skills never cease to amaze me, truly. As shown in the picture below, the organization which gave out the awards is called OOPPS. Really? I think I'd come up with a different acronym. I can't even remember what it stands for.

Below are some pictures of Roger accepting his award. I apologize for the low quality pictures. We did take a camera with us to Vegas, but always forgot to carry it with us, so instead I had to use my iPhone. For all you iPhone lovers out there, the camera part of it (along with the cell phone signal) leaves something to be desired. More on the iPhone later.

(Roger accepting his award from the pretty blonde lady)

(Holding up his award true Roger style)

We then proceeded to continue the celebrations at an open house hosted by one of the vendors at RumJungle. We had a great time meeting a couple of promotional guys our age from L.A. -- who told me the shoes I was wearing were "very L.A." -- along with Roger's Springfield competition. Go figure! That's who ended up sitting right next to our table. What are the chances? But it was a great time. We decided to put the competitive spirit aside for the night and all be friends. Roger pulled out his famous dance moves that caught the attention of all the 40-year-old women around him. To show them what was up I may or may not have attempted to perform my own fancy moves involving Roger and a chair that ultimately ended badly, like on the floor, but I didn't see any flashes going off, so I guess we'll just all never know.

Before I continue with what Thursday was like, let me just preface this by saying I went to Vegas sick with a cold. I'm not even sure it's a cold. It's so nasty and long-lasting it deserves to be called something worse than a cold. I've had it since December 23rd. I thought I was getting better after taking antibiotics, but then Roger got sick last week and then I got sick again. So I woke up Thursday feeling absolutely horrible (nothing to do with the night before, I'm sure) along with a giant cold sore. Lately I have been the queen of cold sores. I'm pretty sure my immune suppression treatment I had during IVF in August is the culprit of all this disgusting sickness I can't get rid of, along with the 10 (no joke) cold sores I've had since then. Seriously, gross. I was a super healthy person before the IVIg immune treatment and now this. In case you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, please refer to the IVF posts from August. This post is getting too long for me to rehash all of that. It's a little scary to think what would have happened to my body had I become pregnant and had to have immune therapy once a month for six to seven months! Yikes! Anyway, I digress. Roger ended up walking the rest of the show without me Thursday morning/afternoon while I laid in bed. I seriously left the room Thursday to eat lunch and dinner and that was it. What a waste of a day, I know.

But, on a positive note, that gave me a lot of time to use my iPhone to catch up on all our adoption blogs we follow. So addicting! I also found a new blog to read, and I'm learning so much from a particular family's experiences in international adoption and the attachment and health issues that can come along with it. So real, so funny, so informative, so great. So, yes, I have begun to bond somewhat with my iPhone. I know Roger alluded to the fact that I don't like it, and that is probably partially true only because I'm a computer idiot, and that's basically what it is -- a computer. I certainly had a hard time believing it had any cell phone function whatsoever after it dropped my call about four times in five minutes on Wednesday. But I'm slowly coming around to the idea. Roger keeps threatening to take it back every time I complain about it, but I think we will be able to co-exist in harmony in the near future (me and the iPhone, not me and Roger).

Okay, so that's it. Sorry for the long blog. I was trying to make up for my lack of entries as of late. In the coming weeks we are going to paint the nursery and get our vaccines for our trip to Ethiopia, so more pictures and adoption-related posts to follow. I think I'm going to wait until I'm a little more healthy to get my shots, though. My mom informed me that they recommend anyone who has had an immune suppression treatment to wait at least six months, so maybe I'm on to something. I don't know. I've also been meaning to post pics of the nursery bedding we got for Christmas. So cute.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

Greetings from....Springfield. This isn't false advertising. Abby and I leave tomorrow for a week in Vegas. Before you get all jealous and say you want to go with us let me explain why we are going. We are going for the "New Product" launch for promotional products. Yes, there is actually a convention each year to show the latest and greatest in PEN technology -- as well as clothing, mousepads, mugs, coasters, post-it notes, and everything else you would possibly want to put your logo on. Very glamourous! It actually is a lot of fun, but miles and miles of walking looking at "trinkets-and-trash", "gadgets-and-gizmos" or whatever else you want to call my job.

It's been an interesting last month around the house. Abby got sick two days before Christmas and finally felt better last Sunday. Of course, I started feeling bad on Tuesday and got struck with the bug real bad on Friday. It's still amazing to me that with all the technology, science and medicines in the world we still don't have a way to defeat the common cold. Sure, we can cure E.D. -- but still nothing for the flu?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! And now Abby is starting to have a sore throat again....

Anyway, thought I would share a story from this past Thursday. On the second Thursday of each month we go to Branson for a gathering of folks with adopted kids from America, Ethiophia and Rwanda. Most of the couples have blogs -- which we have linked on our sidebar. Anyway, we usually travel with Rob & Julie Neal, and of course their adorable son, Caden. Well this time we decided to stop at Ruby Tuesday's for a quick dinner on the way.

Abby and I have decided that the best way to learn about becoming a parent is to watch other people in action -- learn from their experiences, good and bad, and try to do the best you can. So, here's the lesson from Thursday: A 2-year-old, if given a small (open) cup of ketchup, can make said ketchup disappear from sight. And Caden did this with four adults watching him. So the waitress brings all our food and brings Caden his grilled cheese and fries....along with the cup of ketchup. (C'mon, who gives a cup of ketchup to a toddler?) Anyway, so we are all sitting there eating, talking and watching Caden. All of a sudden Caden asks Rob for "tetchup". As Rob goes to show him that he has some on his plate we all realize that the ketchup is gone. We all scramble around looking for it on the table. Then Rob finds it. Perfectly splattered on the ground right next to Caden. And when I say perfectly splattered I mean perfectly splattered. If Roger Clemens' had thrown the cup of ketchup 90 mph it wouldn't have sprayed farther than Caden's masterpiece. We soon realized why the carpets in Ruby Tuesday's are dark. A quick once-over with the napkin and the ketchup was gone. Gone being a key word. I'd say more like smeared into the dark carpet -- but out of sight, out of mind.

Oh the stories we'll have.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Blog Design

I think I've spent more time playing with this blog/layout/design in the past week than I've spent doing anything else. Just goes to show you that I have too much time on my hands. This Kid can't get here fast enough. Tonight over dinner Abby and I were talking about just how unprepared we think we are for this whole situation. Of course she stays up at night worring about how many diapers we need to pack in the carry-on for our 34+ hour trip home. Me, I'm just worried about selling enough pens to pay for the diapers. Luckily we aren't the first two to go through this adventure. We are blessed to have friends at each and every step of the way. Friends that already have their kid at home (lucky), friends that are waiting for a referral, friends that already have a referral but are waiting for a court/travel date, and friends that are actually traveling to pick up their daughter in the next two weeks. Just goes to show you that God won't give you more than you can handle.

I've told Abby I won't mess with the layout/design too much from here out -- but the more I see other people's blogs the more I want to tweak ours. Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy 2009 everyone. We survived Christmas and New Years Eve -- now we're ready to get back in the swing of "normal" life. Christmas was great. Lots of fun stuff for "kid" -- Bumbo, Jumper, Diapers, Designer Bedding, Push Cart.....

Abby hooked me up with my very own diaper bag. The plan is to sew patches on for every place we go with "kid". Greatest Christmas gift, ever.
I got Abby an iPhone -- she's still deciding if she likes it or not.
We're hoping to do better at updating the blog in 2009 -- when we get news of any sort we'll be sure to blog it. Got to go watch USC in the Rose Bowl. Happy New Year!