Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Virtual Moving Day

Welcome! I am slowly moving my blog over from MSN Spaces. (I loved this picture. Who hasn't tried this at least once?) Being a Microsoft house, moving to the competition was a tough decision for me (they are directly funding our adoption through the adoption subsidy they offer and the paychecks that keep a roof over our heads) but I was becoming really limited in what I could do on that platform. Before long, I'll probably start developing my own independent site. My ultimate goal is to be able to drop in video and picture collages while we're in China and beyond.

If anyone has any WYSIWYG tips on doing that in Blogger, leave a comment! I'm still a little CSS and HTML stupid, so go easy. I'm also wondering how hard it is to create a custom theme. I want to design a backdrop similar to how our son's room will look, but again... ignorance is my strong point right now.

Stay tuned as I add in more widgets and goodies. Hopefully we'll even have progress on our adoption process to report before long. In the meantime, Polli will be the star of the show, as she probably thinks she will be forever...if only she knew about the slobber, snot, screaming that will converge upon her in the coming months. Poor thing. Sleep now, lovely puppy dog. You'll be getting a workout running from a sticky babbling giant before long! :-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy New Year! Year of the Pig!

I often wonder what year our son will have been born in. Based on the age range we are aiming for, he'll most likely be a Rooseter or a Monkey, but who knows? This time next year, we will have already celebrated CNY Rat!

New Year Zodiac Calendar:

This chart was taken from Wikipedia. Click Here to view the entire article about CNY.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Will We Make it Out Alive?

We had our long awaited fingerprint appointment today. It couldn't come too soon, but OH MY GOSH are we glad it's over!

The day started out a little different than the average Tuesday. For the first time ever, I woke up at some point in the middle of the night and shut off both alarms. I must have thought it was the weekend for some reason, who knows. I do know that it threw off our day when I rolled over and looked at the alarm...2 hours late! I rarely even snooze, so this was really odd and must have been an omen of things to come.

I picked Shawn up at his office an hour before our scheduled "appointment" in Seattle, giving us plenty of extra time. Our paperwork stated to be there at 11am, but to arrive early to complete paperwork. We had already filled out some forms, so we were pretty sure it would go fast.

When we arrived, we walked right through security, but were quickly ushered into another line. There were 5 lines for different appointment types and ONE man behind a desk to help about 30 or 40 people. After about 20 minutes, we were called. He looked over our paperwork, stapled a numbered ticket to the top sheet, and told to sit in the next waiting room....which contained about 200 other people, many who... how can I say this nicely... should have spent a little more time in the deodorant aisle at the grocery store.

Eyes watering as we adjusted to the state of the room's lack of ventilation, we quickly realized that we were about 30 numbers back. It became evident that they were calling about 5 numbers at a time, every 20 minutes or so. After about 2 hours, our numbers finally came up. We then stood in another line to get to ONE woman who was running the entire show for all these people. 20,000 more troops can be deployed to Iraq without a blink of an eye, yet Homeland Security for Seattle is being run by one woman. Nice. I'm glad my tax dollars are getting used appropriately.

She looked over everything AGAIN and asked if we know the orphan we are adopting. Of course the answer was no. She scribbled something on the paper, stamped it, and stapled yet another but different numbered ticket to it. We were then asked to sit back down and wait for that number to be called. Our numbers were 110 and that time, they had just called 70 and 71. I'm not Jewish, but OY VEY!

Without much of a choice, we sat back down and continued watching the solo TV on Disney toons. It's a good thing I like KimPossible. I may look a little like her, but I don't have her charm or powers against the Seattle INS bad guys! It was now past 1:00pm. And we truly couldn't feel an end in sight. I was beginning to imagine the number of strains of colds and flu converging here from all corners of the world. Hmmm. Is my throat getting scratchy?

We had been there since 10:30 and were starting to tire of the process (understatement). Shawn said a few things he may not have with something in his stomach, like "you didn't research this very well" and "in another 30 minutes we're rethinking this adoption"... He took it back later in the day after he realized how much I also had sacrificed to do this, too. Needless to say, we were both getting cranky. To make matters worse, I used my last 2 dollars to buy junk I wouldn't normally eat from the vending machines. Shawn's chips came out OK, but my Twix got stuck in the machine. I had to scrounge for enough change to buy what was behind it. Luckily, it gave me both, but wouldn't you know it, Shawn didn't want chips and ate both candy bars. Doesn't he understand the need for chocolate during trying times like these? Men!

Moving forward, at about 2:30, our numbers were finally called...again. Don't get your hopes up. We were simply ushered into a smaller room where we had to sit again and wait. Like the last room, there was one person running this show, too. I truly don't understand the government. We were tired, eyes and nasal passages strained from various smells (none good), and we were both dwelling on what we were missing at work...sure that we'd never actually make it out alive. Have we updated our will recently? When was the last time I told my mom 'I love you'? Is Shawn wearing clean underwear? Who will take care of the dog? Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long to find answers to these questions. Our names were called within 30 minutes. Four hours previous, it would have seemed like a moderate amount of time. Now, it seemed like a beautiful beam of light at the end of this horrific immigration tunnel.

Once called to the fingerprint station, the tech had to actually hand type our forms into the computer before we could continue! With the amount of technology at their fingertips (pardon the pun), I couldn't believe it. Had no one heard of bar coding? Scanning? Even a hammer and chisel would be more logical at this point. FINALLY, he started with the fingerprinting. This part is pretty high tech, much like an ultrasound machine. A laser type tool scans across the fingertip, showing the print on the screen. A red light indicates that it isn't good enough. A green light indicates that it's a good print. I only needed 2 done over and I was out of there. Overall, the printing process took less than 5 minutes. After 5 hours, it took less than 5 minutes!!

Upon walking out (more like a dead sprint), the line just to get through security was out the door and around the building. Unbelievable! They should have suicide counselors on staff to ensure that those people make it to the end. Ironically, we chose not to drive over to Eastern Washington and walk into the smaller office, thinking we couldn't afford the time off work for the trip. As it turns out, we could have driven over and gotten back in less time than this wait in the Seattle office. For anyone reading this in the Seattle area still waiting for USCIS appointments, take the time and drive to Yakima! At least you'll have access to Starbucks, ventilation, and you're Ipod along the way.

Child 2? Maybe you'll be 4-Legged, unless breeders start requiring fingerprints!

Our agency reported that some paperwork (I-171-H) is coming back in as few as 4 weeks. Seattle is known for long waits, as long as 3 months, which we can't afford right now. If 4 weeks holds true, we should have no problem getting our dossier off to China by April 30th.

Let's just hope they don't ask us to come back to the INS office for some reason. We never want to see the inside of that building again if we can help it!

Next steps: Wait for the arrival of the I-171H (what today's circus was about); send with pictures and final few documents to our agency...and then we wait for a batch of dossiers to be sent to China!