Monday, March 31, 2008

The New Normal

We were eating dinner last night and I told Ian that tomorrow we would be back to normal again as daddy is going back to work. He politely informed me that it's not normal though because now we have Ana. We agreed that we would happily have a new normal now, and this was day one. I thought it was anyways.

My day was abruptly started at 3am when I was awakened by miss monkey pants kicking her feet in her crib. She does this when she wakes up in the morning, and just before she starts falling asleep at night. Her feet are always going, actually. Anyways, she wasn't fussing, just talking to herself mostly. I decided I wouldn't do anything unless she started to cry. She would seem like she was starting to fuss, but very briefly. By the time I would sit up she would be done and quiet down. I've found that sometimes she does this as she's falling asleep (her eyes are even closed) so I assumed she was just falling back to sleep. Well, this went on for about an hour before she actually started to cry. I picked her up and immediately knew why she was having trouble falling asleep, maybe even the reason for her waking so early. She had a diaper full (mother of the year, here I come!)! I brought her into her room and without turning on the over head light managed to clean her up and put a fresh diaper on. Well between the cold wipes and the light in the hallway, she was wide awake by the time we finished the task. I put her back in her crib and she started to cry so I picked her back up and brought her into bed with me. I had to lay her on my chest because of course monkey number one was taking up all the space between Greg and I. As soon as she noticed Ian was next to me, it was all over. I could almost see the wheels turning "Hey, that's my favorite boy! Let me touch him!!" she just wouldn't settle down. I tried to move my arm so it was in the way of her view of him but it turns out that Ian had rolled into me and his little face was directly between the bend in my elbow and my side so she could see his face and was trying to grab his nose. So I decided to take Ana into Ian's room to try and lie down in his bed. Well she has never been in Ian's room at night and she just became very freaked out by once again not knowing where she was. It was a downward spiral from there. She quickly became inconsolable so we had to go back into my room. On the way back, I noticed that Milo the wonder dog had escaped our bedroom and was in hot pursuit of that diaper I had just taken off Ana. I hissed at him to get out of there and he bolted down the stairs, to which I hissed again to get upstairs into our room. I got him corralled back in and pleaded with Greg to wake up and hold Ana while I went to make her a bottle. At this point she's been up for almost 2 hours and her stomach is undoubtedly beginning to growl. So I made her 4 ounces to hold her over and she did eventually fall asleep thankfully, and slept until a little after 7:00.

So Greg's alarm goes off at about 6:30 and I just can't open my eyes. Greg showered and got Ian up, dressed, and fed. He emptied the dishwasher and the trash, and got Ian's back pack all together (oh and apparently one of the animals vomited last night and he picked that up as well). Have I told you how much I love this man? I pulled myself out of bed at 7:00 and got into the shower myself but not before knocking the brand new roll of toilet paper into the toilet, arrgh! Anyways, I got myself ready and by this time Ana was awake and I got her up and dressed and got some cereal into her. At 7:52 (we were actually going to make the bus on time!) Ian announced that he doesn't think he has school today to which I reply, "Ian, you are going to school, nice try". He says "no, mumma really! Mrs. Schreiber told us we had next Monday off and that was last week!". So I go to the computer and wouldn't you know, he's right! Teacher workshop day today, no school. Geez, that little trip to Wal-Mart this morning just got a little more difficult!

Okay, I'm back from Wal-Mart, which is officially my first outing by myself with both kids. I think we managed okay actually! Ian says to me on the way home out of the blue, "I guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow to start the new normal!" I guess he's right...

Anyways, I'll leave you with some pictures I've been meaning to get up. I've been informed that there are people that have been anxiously awaiting an update from sorry to keep you waiting! I had started 4 separate posts, but just haven't had the time to finish them for one reason or another. I've really wanted to post some pictures which has been part of the hold up as I hadn't figured out how to download them with the new computer set up we have. Also in my defense, every time I take a picture, it has to be converted in photo shop from the camera's raw file format to jpeg so I can use it, and that takes a while especially with the number of pictures I take! After the kids are in bed, to think about the amount of work it would take to give a decent update has just been too much to think about! So anyways, enough with the excuses, and on to the pictures...

Ana's first outside adventure. We first went out so Ian could ride his scooter and I carried Ana in the front carrier. Our neighbors came by to ask if we wanted to join them for a walk which we gladly accepted. I put Ana in the stroller and she was happy as a clam! The walk was quite humorous actually. We had five boys on bikes, finding it hard, after a long winter, to remember the "stay to the side" rule, absolute chaos! Then there was Marcia pushing an empty stroller because Emma abandoned it after exclaiming "I'm stuck, I'm stuck!" (she was strapped in the stroller) and Marcia took pity and let her get "unstuck". There was Ollie laying on the side of the road at one point screaming causing Marcia to sprint only to find he was playing with sticks, and Elizabeth who suddenly had to pee, and lastly there was Ian taking up the rear on his scooter whining "My legs are tired, I can't go any further" (yeah, this started about 15 minutes into the walk, lovely!). It was so nice to get out of the house though!!

Ian and his new bike. He finally admitted that "lightning strike" his old bike is too small for him. I think his admission was mostly because last year we took his training wheels off and he thought if he got a new bike he'd get one with training wheels. He wasn't very impressed when his new bike had only two wheels. He'll get there, he just needs some confidence! Here he is re-learning to ride without training wheels. He does fine, but is just really nervous about falling so doesn't want to ride far before throwing his legs down to stop himself.

Ana's first Easter! We invited everyone here this year because we didn't want to take Ana all over the place yet. She did okay, but did get pretty overwhelmed with all the people around. Ian had a ball finding the eggs the Easter Bunny hid, and tearing through his basket. He and daddy took turns wearing the blue grass filling.

Decorating eggs. Ian loves to dye Easter eggs. Just like with his play doh though, one color at a time is never enough. We usually end up with an assortment of purplish brown colored eggs. This year, he actually kept mostly to one color each and even took the time to stencil a couple eggs!

Monday, March 24, 2008

This Time Last Week...

This time last week we had just gotten on the final flight home to Manchester after nearly missing it! Ana was already a U.S. citizen and was soon to meet our closest family members. It feels like forever since then actually! Just thought I'd give an update of where we are a week later.

First, her personality. We have found her to be a rather serious baby actually. She really studies people for a long time (and I mean multiple meetings) before she starts to warm up. She gives a lot of the furrowed brow look. It's so neat though to see her personality unfolding to us. When we were in Guatemala, over the span of each day, it felt like she revealed something new to us every day. The first day (after that first night that we got her) she woke up smiling, and would give an occasional smile throughout that day. Then the next few days, she would start to smile at us, then started to babble a little bit when she was in her crib. When we came home, it feels like everything was sort of reset back to square one. She really needed to do her studying of the new surroundings and smells and just sort of regressed back to our first couple days together. Now, just about a week later we are still seeing new things every day. I am personally feeling closer and closer to her each day. I don't know if it's me, or her or a little bit of both but I like it. She has started to lay her head on my shoulder, and relax onto me where before she would feel kind of stiff, and just wouldn't let down her guard. I can't tell you how good it feels to feel her little body melt into mine. And I've noticed when I walk into the room where she is she smiles or giggles and seems to get excited to see me, so cool! Greg is doing well by her too. There have been a couple times these rough getting to sleep nights where he is the one who can get her to finally give in and fall asleep. He is so cute with her, I'm loving seeing him with a baby again!

As far as Ian's adjustment, he is doing well. Today at school he got to tell the class a little bit about Guatemala. I asked him what he talked about and he said, "I don't know, just about the swimming and the sand carpet." I'll have to ask his teacher what he actually talked about. He's really starting to warm back up to Ana again. He was very into her at the middle to end of our trip, but when we came home, I think the attention she was getting from not only us, but everyone around us wore on him. But he is really starting to pay her attention again, and seems to truly care for her. It does my heart so good to see him playing with her, or helping out with diaper changes (placing the clean diaper only of course, he won't even TOUCH a wet diaper even if it's been all folded up into a little bundle if we payed him!) or getting things for her. The only thing he can't tolerate is meal time. He has to have the weakest stomach of any child I know, and he cannot look at Ana's messy face while she is eating. All the pureed food that gets on her, and of course the massive amount of drool she is currently producing is just about enough to make him gag. In fact, he didn't say anything, but I saw him take a bit of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich today, watch me swipe food off her chin with her spoon and ran to the trash to spit the bite out. It's kind of comical actually. So I do my best to keep her as clean as I can for the time being, just wait until she starts feeding herself!! Tonight I left the room to get some lotion while I was getting Ana ready for bed, and I asked Ian to watch her and make sure she didn't roll anywhere (which she doesn't do much of anyways, but of course when I'm not watching is when she'll get into trouble right?) I left her pajamas open because I was going to put some lotion on her. Well I came back into the room and Ian was zipping up her pajamas for her ever so carefully, it was so sweet.

As far as Ana's development goes, we haven't called Early Intervention yet, we just want to wait until she is home a couple weeks before bringing complete strangers into the house but we will be setting things up soon. I am noticing though that she is sitting up a lot better now. She can sit for longer periods and even when she is leaning far forward can hoist herself up to a straight up position. It's amazing the difference in just this week! She has rolled over a couple times for us, and really seems to enjoy the jumper and exersaucer (we're really trying to get her to realize that her legs can do wonderful things for her!), she had a pretty good pincer grasp (oh yeah, she is a pincher, ouch!), but didn't really know what to do with it as far as feeding is concerned. We give her puffs or cheerios and she'll pick them up, but will generally just drop them. Well just yesterday, she picked up a puff and after first smacking herself in the forehead with it, she got it into her mouth, success! We were so excited, she gave us her furrowed brow and looked at us like we were crazy.

Sleep is getting better. Ian is going to sleep in his own bed again, and seems ready to actually go to sleep at the appropriate time. We dug out his old aquarium crib toy that plays music and lights up to try with Ana last night. When I layed her down and turned it on, she looked at it, then looked at me and giggled, then she looked back at it and back at me and giggled again. It was so stinkin' cute! The only drawback is that it only plays for 10 minutes, but she seemed to really enjoy it and after resetting it 3 or 4 times she actually fell asleep on her own. She still seems to wake 30-45 min after she initially goes down, but just starting that back up seems to be doing the trick for now. We're still trying to work out the whole nap timing thing, but I know it will all come.

Okay, I'm going to leave you with a little Ian giggle. I think I mentioned that Ana's primary babble at the moment is "ra ra ra ra". Well tonight we were on our way home from a trip to Wal-Mart and Ian says to us "When do you think Ana will learn how to say "sish coom bah?". Gave us a good giggle, hope it does the same for you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Settling In

Sorry you haven't heard from us in a while. I wanted to be able to post pictures when I finally updated and I just finished getting them sorted last night. So hold on tight, you're in for a long ride!

First, I wanted to share our home coming. We left Guatemala at 2:30pm on Monday the 17th. It was so surreal. I kept waiting for someone to come barging onto the plane to tell us a mistake was made and that we couldn't take her home! To lift off the ground in Guatemala was amazing, it was really happening, and in a few short hours Ana would be a U.S. citizen!! The flight was fine, everyone held up very well (despite Greg sharing with Michelle that morning that there had been tornadoes in North Carolina the day before. Michelle is terrified of flying, I could've kicked Greg for sharing that information!) Ian got the window seat, and played games with Greg and Shelle. I sat behind with a free seat in between myself and another woman (who coincidentally was also named Ana) and held Ana. She sucked down her bottle before lift off, so I was worried about her ears, but she seemed fine. She was a little fussy on and off, but did really well over all. The biggest excitement was trying to feed her a jar of carrots while holding her in my lap, that was very interesting, and messy I assure you. Ana became an American the moment the plane touched down in Charlotte, North Carolina at 8:06pm. I remember the eyes starting to well up as the plane made that bumpy landing, it was just so overwhelming, I felt like the last year had all culminated in that moment. We had ended that journey, and a whole new one was just beginning, the journey of our newly formed family! We had a mere hour and a half to get through customs and make it to our connection to Manchester, so it was very tight! We changed Ana in the first bathroom we found, she was soaking wet and was a mess (remember the carrots on the plane?). I put on her "Kiss me I'm American" St. Patrick's Day t-shirt and we hurried into the customs line. We should have had Greg get in line while we were changing her because another plane landed just after us and the line was enormous! We finally made it through the line, and handed the customs guy our mysterious sealed packet (all the adoption documents that were given us with Ana's visa, we were told if it was opened, they wouldn't allow us into the country!). He looked at our passports, asked a few questions and handed us a tag with a number 5 on it which we were instructed to give to the next customs guy (darn, I knew it couldn't be that easy!). They sent us to a little room to wait while they processed our paperwork, it seemed to take forever! Finally he called us back out to the desk and handed us Ana's passport and congratulated us, then we were allowed to continue on our way. It wasn't until that point, after leaving customs that we were allowed to take any pictures or video (we were warned before leaving the plane that any use of cameras would result in confiscation so we weren't risking that!). My camera was stowed away, and Michelle's battery was dead. Greg shot a little video, hopefully we'll get that uploaded soon, it was a sweet moment! We had to recheck in to get to our next flight and once again the line was tremendously long! I really didn't think we'd make it in time. We were all panicking, Greg and Michelle went to two separate desks to ask if they would hold the plane for us, but they told them there was nothing they could do! The thought of being stuck in Charlotte overnight was agonizing! Long story short (see I will skip some of the silly details!) we did make it through just in time to run to the gate. We literally made it just as they were preparing to close the gate, we were so relieved!! We all slept most of that 2 hour flight and were overjoyed when we landed in Manchester! My mum and dad, Greg's mum, Steve and Amy (my brother and his wife), and Michael (Michelle's husband) were all there waiting for us as we came out of the gate. It was so wonderful to see those familiar faces as we rounded the corner, thanks for coming everyone, and thanks for taking pictures of the event, it is so nice to have those! After spending a little time with the family, and getting our luggage, we were so happy to be on our way home. I think it was almost 2:00 before we made it home and we headed straight to bed, Ian was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Ana on the other hand was not ready to sleep. Who could blame the poor little thing, every time she woke up she was in a different place! We finally got her to sleep at around 3:00 which really wasn't bad. We all slept through to 9:00 the next morning, not nearly enough sleep, but we somehow felt rested. Day one home started with a trip to the doctor's office. Ana has had a cough (she even had one when we went to visit her in October) and she seemed to have been wheezing so I really wanted to doctor to take a listen to see if there was anything more going on. The doctor did the full work up on her, which we weren't planning on, but in hind sight, I'm glad it's all over with. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt that afternoon though. It had been suggested to us that our first visit to the doctor, we do not do any vaccinations, just a once over to make sure nothing immediate had to be dealt with. Well, our doctor felt it was very important that we get her started on her vaccinations as soon as possible. She made a good case, and we went for it she ended up getting four vaccinations that day, and having blood drawn to boot. I'm still a little tormented, but I am happy we got all the trauma out of the way with quickly, and she seems to be doing just fine. The doctor estimates that developmentally she is about 3 months behind, but expects her to catch up quickly. She suggested we call Early Intervention to get an assessment, and tips on how to help her catch up. We'll be calling next week some time. All of her blood work came back fine, so it's good to know we don't have anything medically at this time to worry about.

All in all, things are going quite well. Ian did return to school on Thursday, I was finally able to get up in time, and get him ready which was nice. He was really reluctant to go back, but he seems to have had a great couple days so we're happy for that! We are in the process of transitioning Ana to 3 meals a day and 3 bottles a day from 2 meals and 5 bottles a day and she seems to be taking that quite well. We also just today have started to try and get her into a two nap a day schedule versus her once in the afternoon nap. As I type, she is taking her second nap of the day. The first was about an hour this morning, I'm hoping for at least another hour this afternoon, we'll see! (Well, I'm editing to add that she only slept 45 minutes this afternoon. Even when you total the two naps today together it still doesn't equal the 2 hour one she was taking before, oh well, maybe tomorrow!) Night time sleep the past two nights have been rough. She is starting to have a real hard time settling down. I'm pretty sure she is teething, so I'm sure that has a lot to do with it. She just cries as soon as you leave the crib side. If you return, she gives you a big grin! On one hand, I'm glad she is testing us, I want her to figure out that she can trust us to be there, but I'll admit, I'm tired and it's been hard dealing with a baby who doesn't want to sleep at night! Add to that the fact that Ian is having trouble getting to sleep as well (he slept with us in Guatemala, we're trying to get him right back into falling to sleep in his own bed but it's not going great!), every one is still a little discombobulated I think! I'm hoping sorting out a daytime nap schedule might help Ana, and I hope that once she is situated, Ian will be able to settle down easier as well. It will all work out I'm sure! Anyways, I'll close for now with some pictures I'd been meaning to post from our trip. I haven't really taken a ton of pictures since we've been home, but I'll get on that soon!

From the coffee plantation:
A coffee plant:

Coffee beans drying in the sun. After this, they will go to be roasted:

Marimba players at the great restaurant we went to in Antigua:

Overlooking Antigua, it was a steep hike down to this point:

Ian racing Victor our tour guide back up the hill. Victor ran the whole way!

Ian didn't...He told Victor that was the first race he ever lost and chanted "Victor Fast..." for about 20 minutes into the car ride home:

A family picture at the outlook over Antigua:

Just some random Ana cuteness, the first one is on Embassy day:

At the Zoo:

Yes, they were very close, a little too close for comfort:

Love the giraffes, and big brother pushing the stroller:

The first picture taken at home. About 2:00am March 18th, 2008:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We are Home

Just wanted to put a quick update up to let you all know that we are all home safe and sound. Our lap top died somewhere between Guatemala and home. Could've been when Greg asked Ian to move his backpack and instead of sliding it, Ian bounced it three or four times to get it to move. Hmmm, you think that could have done it?! Well, luckily, my pictures were still saved on my camera card and Greg was able to recover the ones we downloaded from Michelle's camera. So no harm...well except for the unexpected cost that is. Anyways, I promise photos very soon, I've just started to go through them tonight. I'll be sure to share the story of our home coming as well.

Ian and Ana are doing very well. Our biggest problem so far has been getting ourselves back on New Hampshire time! We fully planned on sending Ian back to school today, but we woke up at 8am which is the time we should have been going out to the bus stop! So, tomorrow is the new plan! So promises to update again soon, but right now I really need to get the laundry going, and try to restore some order to the house. We're still plucking things out of suitcases as we need them!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Today is the Day

I wrote this while still in Guatemala, but never posted it. I think I got distracted, sorry. It's just some of what I was feeling in the wee hours before everyone else woke up that last morning, and yes, I was feeling a lot better by then. Not sure what happened, but it was an up and down night to the toilet, if you know what I mean!

It is the day we will bring our new family of four home. It is the day Ana will become an American citizen. It is the day that officially ends the process of brining Ana home! I'm sitting here this morning in the dark and am still in complete disbelief that we are here. I have watched so many other journeys come to completion, and have daydreamed about our time as I scrolled through their pictures and words. I still feel like I'm dreaming, would some body pinch me please? There are just no words to describe the feelings I have right now, but I'll try. I am in awe of this little miracle that is now a part of our family, how did I get so lucky as to call her my daughter? I cannot wait to bring her home and introduce her to her family, show her around her new home, and to begin our life as a family of four! There is some sadness though. I can't help but think about Ana's birth family. Do they even know that today is the day she will leave their country? Michelle and I were talking last night and we were thinking that this time in Ana's life will be one that she will wonder about forever. She will have our pictures and my words to read, and I hope she will know how loved and anticipated she was. I have bits and pieces of Ana's story before she became part of our family, but there are gigantic holes that I cannot fill for her. I do have our attorneys e-mail and I intend to send pictures and updates as she has promised to share with the birth family if they ever want to see them. I also hope she will be able to get pictures of them for us, I would like to have them for Ana's life book.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Last Few Days...

On Friday afternoon we went to the Aurora Zoo right here in Guatemala City. Another couple came along with us, and it was a really nice time! It was pretty much like any other zoo though it did seem in some instances that the cages/fences holding the animals in weren't quite enough for our comfort! We saw the tigers and puma closer than we have ever seen these animals before. It was very cool, but a little unnerving!! We saw giraffes, elephants, hippos, a variety of primates. One of the primate cages was surrounded by a group of school children screaming, and the animal was yelling back at them, Greg has some video of it. We kept waiting for him (the primate, not sure what it was exactly) to come ripping out of the cage. Thankfully, he remained behind the fence. Ian's favorite part of the zoo was the snakes (serpentines) exhibit. It was extremely dark in there but Ian really got a kick out of the different snakes that were on display! Not my favorite, I'll admit! Ian also saw that some of the school kids had their faces painted and we spent a good amount of time searching for where they had it done. We asked the clown at the entrance and he said it is only done on Saturdays, so we missed out on that unfortunately. All in all though, I'm really glad we went! It was nice to get out of the hotel, it was inexpensive, and was a really nice zoo! We hired our taxi to meet us after two hours, so he was there to meet us as soon as we exited the zoo. I had heard that it is difficult to hail a taxi from the area, so I'm really glad we asked him to meet us back there. He didn't even accept payment until after the return ride, very cool! We spent the remainder of the afternoon in the hotel room resting, and headed down to the pool for dinner. We ate in the outdoor bar area, under the lanterns. There was a slight breeze, it was beautiful! Ana fell asleep while we were eating, then Ian and I went swimming after we were done. I had promised him, it was chilly outside though! It was warm while we were in the water, but man! As soon as we got out, brrrr! I think he just needed a little mummy time, so I'm glad I went.

On Saturday, we got out of the hotel again. We hired a tour guide named Victor to bring us to Antigua. He was wonderful!! I would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a tour anywhere around Guatemala. We left the hotel at about 10am, and returned around 6:30pm. We traveled with two other families, both who's blogs I follow so that was very cool! First stop was a coffee plantation where we were able to see how coffee is grown, harvested and roasted. We learned that Starbucks gets all their coffee from Guatemala. They had a museum of music there as well that Ian found interesting. They showed a video on Mayan traditions, Ana just sat and smiled the entire time. Ian got a whistle that he is very excited about. We got Ana a rainmaker. It was a very interesting place! Next we visited two churches. The first one was surrounded by festivities, vendors making churros and fried meats as well as lot's of souvenir type things. When we got into the church, they had a sand carpet very similar to the one we watched being made in the Marriott lobby. There were hundreds of people worshipping inside, leaving offerings for God. This is the start of Holy week in Guatemala, it is celebrated very big down here! The second church was closed, but there were hundreds of people out around the outside making things for Palm Sunday. This one was a beautiful old church that dates back to the 1500's I believe he said. The names of the churches escape me right now. It's just about 10:00 on Sunday night right now and I'm not feeling too good. My stomach did not handle dinner well, so I'm not thinking entirely clearly. My apologies for that! I just wanted to get something up there! The pictures are going to have to wait though I'm afraid. Anyways, we finished the day with a trip to the artisan market. We bought many things there, everyone had a "good deal" for us, "their friends" :) It was very difficult to walk away, everyone was calling for you, and God forbid you show interest in anything, they will do anything in their power to make sure you walk away with it in your bag!! It was fun though, and I think we got some great things for Ian and Ana, as well as for friends and family at home, you'll just have to wait and see!! I think we ended up getting McDonalds for dinner last night, and headed down to the pool for a little swim. Greg is getting good at going to McDonalds. We resorted to it to try and get Ian to eat something other than just french fries. At least at McDonalds, he would eat a grilled cheese along with the french fries! The first time ordering a grilled cheese was interesting, but a manager finally got what Greg was trying to explain. The next time he went though, he tried to order a cheeseburger, and the guy said "Oh, I know what he wants!" and gave him a grilled cheese. So now Greg believes he has ruined his chances forever of ordering a cheese burger at that McDonalds! Pretty funny, I think.

Today, we decided to relax here at the hotel. We got up and snacked in the room because we wanted to go to the buffet brunch that was supposed to have traditional Guatemalan fare with marimba music playing. It sounded to cool! Unfortunately, we showed up right at what was supposed to be the starting time, and it wasn't ready for at least another half hour. The music didn't start for another hour!! So it was a little disappointing to say the least. At least we got to eat really good food the day before in Antigua. I forgot to mention that we had lunch at a great restaurant. I'll have pictures of that as well.

Well, I think I'm going to close for now. Things are going great, Ana is still as happy a baby as ever. She started yesterday afternoon to "speak" more and is doing a lot of "ra ra ra ra ra" it is very cute. She is just a dream and I really can't believe that we are bringing her home with us tomorrow! Well, I'm really not feeling very well, I'm going to close for now. I'll update in the morning. Good night :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Breaking News...

I can finally say
Without an inkling of a shadow of a doubt
That Liliana Michele (known to all as Ana) is coming home!

We have her passport with her Visa in hand!
Can I hear an AMEN?!

We're off to the zoo now, pictures later!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Day Three - Embassy Day, and a Little Filling in of the Blanks for Ana's Life Book

Today was Embassy day! I'm going to recap the day, but if you are just here for the pictures, please feel free to scroll down! I was up at 4:45 this morning, Ana woke up early which was good because I was able to give her her cereal before going to the Embassy. It would have been very messy to have to do there!! We met at 6:30am with the woman who our attorney put us in touch with to walk us through the Embassy appointment. She had her son with her, and they were wonderful!! They drove us to the Embassy, and the son walked us to the gate (the woman had to return to the hotel to pick up another couple) and stayed with us while we waited for the Embassy to open. We were actually the first family there this morning, though it didn't mean anything as the appointments were numbered before they were issued and we were number 15. It was nice to be there early though. Wondering what the US Embassy in Guatemala is like? Let me try and paint you a picture. The road leading up to the entrance is like a back alley. I actually thought we were going in a back entrance! There are guards posted everywhere with shotguns and the tops of the walls surrounding are covered in metal spikes. There were two groups of several Guatemalan people, they would be applying for work and student visas. We learned that of all these people who were waiting in line today, very few would actually be granted a visa. It costs them $135.o0 to apply for the visa, and they need to pay whether they are granted the visa or not. That's a terribly large amount of money for some of them, and to think that after managing to save the amount needed, they may be denied and have to start over again, is just heart breaking! The opportunities we have as Americans are hugely taken for granted! Anyways, we were the only ones there for an adoption for a while. When the Embassy opened, it was very intimidating! Our helper directed Greg to go through first. They x-rayed our diaper bag, and Greg walked through the metal detector. I had to take Ana out of the carrier and the guard passed her through the detector first, and then let me through. They searched our bag, and then allowed us to enter. We walked down a hallway and into the room we would be waiting in. We took two seats in the front row, and waited. Our guide did everything for us and explained the procedure and even though the entire process took almost 3 1/2 hours, our actual participation time was less than 10 minutes! The first step was to meet with homeland security behind mysterious door number 10, families are called in groups to line up for this portion. You open the door and it's literally the size of a closet; there's a man sitting behind glass, and two chairs to sit in. He reviewed our I-600 application, looked at our passports, asked us if the information was correct and asked us if we had visited Ana before this trip. He then said that he was approving our application and to go back to our seats and wait for our names to be called. I have no idea how much time passed before they called us to window number 8. I do know that our number seemed to get passed over for a while as people with appointment numbers after ours were called before us. Anyways, we did eventually get called and talked to a woman who asked us to swear an oath that what we were presenting was truthful. She looked at our passports, and asked us some questions (what day we saw Ana for the first time, reviewed the embassy doctors evaluation that said she was healthy besides the respiratory bug she seemed to have, who our agency was and were we happy with them, who the facilitator was), and had Greg who is the "primary petitioner" sign various papers before saying that Ana would be coming home on an IR-3 visa which meant that as soon as we touched ground in North Carolina that she would become an American Citizen (yeah, that's where I started to fight back the tears!). If we hadn't visited her ahead of time, there would have been more forms to fill out, we would have had to have our previous years tax returns and W-2's reviewed, and we would have had to readopt her in the United States before she legally became a U.S. citizen. We were certainly blessed in so many ways to be able to make that first trip! Anyways, after leaving that window, we were free to go! Ana's visa will be ready to be picked up tomorrow at 11:30 (our new friends are going to pick it up for us and bring it to the hotel) and we will at that time have everything we need to bring Ana home! What an amazing feeling it was walking down those stairs after everything was said and done!!
When we got back to the hotel, we called our attorney as we had plans to visit the hogar where Ana has spent the last 8 months of her life. I was so happy we were going to be able to make that trip. She picked us and another family up at the hotel and drove us to the hogar. It was a very unassuming building, it could have been anything behind those walls! We walked in and were welcomed warmly by the staff. We were able to meet the care takers who have loved and taken care of Ana over these months, and we were given a tour of the facility. It's main room is a courtyard that is open air. There was a small group of children playing in a kiddie pool, having a grand time! Up a set of stairs and over looking the court yard is the room where Ana was, as well as the toddler room. There were maybe 10-13 cribs in the room Ana most currently was in and the care takers appeared to be very warm and loving to the children. When they saw Ana and the other little girl that was with us, they were very happy and scooped them up and spoke words to them I didn't understand, but they surely did by the look on their faces! Their smiles were so precious! We gave gifts of some beauty items and chocolates to the caretakers, and they shared the chocolate with the children. They all came up around us, and were so sweet. One little girl in particular took to Greg. He was stooped down holding Ana and this little one came up and started talking to her. She took Ana's little hand and kept pressing it against Greg's mouth to which he made exaggerated kissing noises. She got such a kick out of that! When Greg handed Ana over to me, this little girl held up her arms for him to pick her up which he gladly did. I do believe if it were possible we might have been coming home with an extra little girl, he was just very taken by her. Ana started to fuss, she was getting hungry so the care takers offered to feed her one last time which was so nice. I left there with mixed emotion today. I am so very happy to have seen what Ana has seen over these last eight months, to feel how the environment felt, to see the absolute adoration these women have for the children in their care. I was also able to get a little additional information about Ana's birth mother. At the same time, I can't stop thinking about the children who are left there. Many are in the adoption process, but not all of them, and in this unknown time for Guatemalan adoptions, nobody knows what will happen to these children. Would you say a little prayer for all the children who are waiting for families to love them, no matter where they are in the world tonight?

Well, as I was writing, Greg, Michelle and Ian turned in for the night. Seems like it was about an hour ago. So that makes 7:30 the first night, 8:30 last night and 9:30 tonight. Geez, by the time we get home, I'll have them staying up all night!!

Okay, without further ado, here are the pictures you've been waiting for. Please keep in mind that I don't have my photo software here to convert the pictures properly so lighting is not ideal. I think you will enjoy them anyways! Tomorrow we are going to venture out to the zoo, so be looking for that update!

Ian and Daddy fooling around!
The gorgeous "carpet" made entirely out of sand in the Marriott lobby. Ian watched them intently yesterday as they worked on putting this together. It is a tradition in Guatemala for various celebrations. The entire week before Easter is a big celebration in Guatemala. I'm going to get a better picture soon, and some video, it's just remarkable!
After the Embassy appointment today. Ian stayed with Auntie Shel, they went swimming and watched cartoons in Spanish, Ian loves it!!
Ana blowing bubbles and pulling on Ian's ear when I was trying to get a picture of them. She really follows him around the room, and he seems to really enjoy being a brother so far!

The outfit we changed her into when we got home from our appointment. Oh, yeah I never did mention that story! There was a reason we had to change her clothing. Moments before our name was called to door number 10, Ana had a big blow out poopy diaper. Only a little bit got on her tights, but I was mid way done when the lady helping us came into the bathroom to say they just called our name! I just knew that was going to happen! It happened to another couple just a little while before us, I guess the embassy is well known for it's poop inducing side effect!! The other picture is of her very long beautiful eyelashes. I'll have to lighten it when I get home. I hope you can see them, they are so pretty! Okay, that's all for now folks! Until tomorrow!!

Random pictures

The first picture was taking a few days before our trips.
It's of Ian helping us get Ana Crib ready....

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day Two

Today was a great day! Ana woke up this morning smiling! Ian went to her crib side after hearing her stirring and she was full of smiles for him. I let him feed her while she was still laying down in bed because I was unsure if picking her up immediately would stress her out. I let him finish feeding her while he held her, and he was so cute about it! He is doing very well, he is definitely having his moments but overall, he's been great! Ana absolutely adores him too. Her eyes follow him around the room and she smiles when he talks to her. I love it! She was a totally different baby today. Yesterday, she did a lot of arching of her back, just not wanting to be held, but today, she actually would snuggle into you. She really enjoys studying your face with her fingers. She's so dainty about how she uses her hands, when she is falling asleep she ever so softly strokes her blankie with the tips of her fingers, it is so sweet! We haven't heard a lot of vocalization today, but she did give us a giggle when we tickled her! We spent a while at the pool today, and even had our lunch there pool side. Ana went into the water for the first time and she seemed to really enjoy it! Ian has always loved the pool, but unfortunately he got his very first sunburn today, I am so upset! We apparently didn't get the sunscreen applied early enough. I in fact am the only one not sporting red skin today, (well of course besides Ana!). Michelle took Ian to the gym today, he got to use the treadmill and the elliptical machine, he had so much fun! He's been getting a lot of attention in the hotel. Everyone comments on how "guapo" (handsome) he is! He's been saying "Hola Amigo" to everyone who passes and follows it with "Adios Amigo". People are getting a big kick out of him, I have to say it's pretty darn cute! Tonight we went to dinner at one of the hotel restaurants with some people we met who are also here on their pick up trip. We ordered our meal, and Ana started to get fussy. We got up and walked her four or five times before we realized that it just wasn't going to work. We had to excuse ourselves and get our dinner packed up to come upstairs. There was just too much going on in the restaurant (the tv was extremely loud, and there were lots of people)! So we came upstairs, had a bottle, her first poopy diaper (I was getting worried we hadn't seen one yet!), and a bath and then went to bed. She goes to sleep amazingly well, we just lay her down with her blanket and she falls asleep all by herself! Anyways, tomorrow will start really early for us as we have our Visa appointment at the Embassy! We have to get up at 5:00, and meet our ride in the lobby at 6:30. We were told we should be back by around 11:00. After that, we will be picked up by our attorney or her husband and we will be taking a ride over to the hogar that Ana has spent the last 8 months in. We'll get to see where she has lived, and meet the people that have taken care of her. I'm really happy we will be able to have this experience. Be sending good vibes Michelle's way tomorrow, as she will have a long day with Ian and we have just been informed that the pool is closed from 10:00 on tomorrow, poor Michelle. Okay, guess I better get to bed. I am yet again the last one standing, every one else was asleep at about 8:30 tonight, they made it a little longer!

After a little pool time, it ws time for a nap...

Then Ana took a nap......

More Pictures

These are some random picture.

Ana sleeping on Cammie
Ian having a snack
Ana on the Bed.
The view from our balcony