We had a very short 24-hour trip to San Jose yesterday and today to celebrate a fantastic event--Kevin has been awarded a patent! The patent is for a feature he developed in GoLive, the Adobe product that helped you create web pages. Ironically, it takes so long for patents to work their way through the government system (Kevin's "hometown" is listed as Morgan Hill on the patent itself--we haven't lived in Morgan Hill since 2002), GoLive isn't even being released anymore. However, the feature was a very good one (I'll let him describe it if he wants to--go over to his blog and put pressure on him ) and really enhanced GoLive.
I'm so proud of my Inventor! He even got new business cards, a window decal for his office (the dogs next door seem unimpressed as of yet), and an ergonomically-designed but rather small coffee mug. In case you were wondering, there wasn't a financial bonus upon the awarding of the patent. Because they take so long (I believe this one took 4 years) he received a bonus upon filing. He's got some other patents in the works so he's on his way to Super Inventor!
Well we finally went to the dentist. Kevin went first yesterday to some bad news--he's got some problems and it looks like most of those problems were caused by the incompetence of the last guy. That sucks. Once we realized that the last guy did such shoddy work, it seemed like a good idea for me to call ASAP (as opposed to, I don't know, waiting another year?). Actually we are embarking on a 14-day cruise in 2 weeks and I have a very sensitive tooth that I've been nursing for, uh, a long time, so the timing seemed good. I called yesterday and they had a cancellation for this morning--YAY! Or as YAY as the dentist gets.
I have major dentist phobia due to some not-so-gentle dentists in the past. My teeth have never been great (soft enamel, runs in the family) so I've had my share of fillings. I'm so afraid of the dentist drill that I've generalized the fear to other things like nail files--I cannot stand grinding things on my body. Anyway, they were all very nice about that. Both the hygienist and the dentist commented multiple times on the quality of my orthodontic work. Great news Mom and Dad! That decade+ spent in retainers and braces were worth the money!
I got my cleaning today and got some treatment cream (one of Five Great Flavors!) for my sensitive tooth, and then I go back the morning of September 10th for some more looking and discussing. Hopefully it won't cost too much. Looks like we're going to be spending a fortune on Kevin's teeth.
My niece Seana's 5th birthday party was yesterday. It was supposed to be at a lovely park, but wouldn't you know it--it rained. We moved the gathering to their house and spent the entire afternoon walking in and outside as rain permitted. Uncle Kevin and Auntie Shelby got Seana a Build-A-Dino (she's much cuter in person) and Seana got to come into the store today to stuff it. Apparently she had been bugging nonstop to hurry up and come in (we gave it to her unstuffed). I got to help stuff the dino and she got a cute outfit and t-shirt. Unfortunately our computers didn't have the dinosaur in our system to make a birth certificate, so we called the dino store in San Diego and they're printing one out and sending it to me.
This is the funniest Ebay auction I've ever seen. Go read it!
We finally got our new car today! It's a blue Prius--exactly like our old one except, you know, in one piece. Yay!
The Writer's Almanac is a daily feature on NPR where Garrison Keillor reads a selected poem and some other fun writing facts are recounted. Today's poem is hilarious. You can listen to Garrison himself read it here.
Why I Have A Crush On You, UPS Man
you bring me all the things I order
are never in a bad mood
always have a jaunty wave as you drive away
look good in your brown shorts
we have an ideal uncomplicated relationship
you're like a cute boyfriend with great legs
who always brings the perfect present
(why, it's just what I've always wanted!)
and then is considerate enough to go away
oh, UPS Man, let's hop in your clean brown truck and elope !
ditch your job, I'll ditch mine
let's hit the road for Brownsville
and tempt each other
with all the luscious brown foods —
roast beef, dark chocolate,
brownies, Guinness, homemade pumpernickel, molasses cookies
I'll make you my mama's bourbon pecan pie
we'll give all the packages to kind looking strangers
live in a cozy wood cabin
with a brown dog or two
and a black and brown tabby
I'm serious, UPS Man. Let's do it.
Where do I sign?
Poem: "Why I Have A Crush On You, UPS Man" by Alice N. Persons, from Don't Be A Stranger. © Sheltering Pines Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission.
I'm not really sure why this is, but some people have mentioned to me that they've been checking my blog and I haven't updated since Thursday. Which, of course, is not the case. They need to hit the refresh button to see the newer entries. I know it has something to do with their cookies and whatnot, but why does this happen sometimes and not others? Is there anything I can do on my end to make it refresh for them?
I've created a tribute to Grandpa Rosiak on YouTube. You can watch the video below. In case you'd like to share the URL, it's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2CRs8A3k9E
Those who are loved are never truly lost.
Grandpa passed away this morning at about 4:30am. He died peacefully and comfortably. Thank you again for all of your prayers and good thoughts.
Good morning everyone. Thank you so much for your prayers and good thoughts. They really mean a lot to us.
As far as I know, Grandpa is still resting but fading this morning (I haven't gotten a call but I don't know if that's because he hasn't passed yet or if my parents are generously allowing me to sleep in). A little update on what's been up the last day or so.
Tuesday evening Kevin and I went over to the hospital in Torrance. Grandpa was sleeping, at times fitfully, but didn't show any outward signs of being aware that we were there. We stayed for a little while and then grabbed some dinner for the family on our way back to my parent's, where we stayed a little while longer. Wednesday morning we still hadn't gotten the call, so I headed to my ICD appointment (good news--everything's just ducky!) and then took a nap before heading up to Torrance again. Once again, Grandpa was sleeping, a bit more peacefully but at times seeming a bit restless. My dad was there and Brad had been there earlier. Dad and I sat with Grandpa for another couple of hours.
In the meantime, the Palliative Care Nurse came to speak with us. She was extremely nice. She's an RN and has additional training in palliative care for patients and support for families. She was there to explain our options and a little bit more about what to expect as far as where Grandpa was going to be. Luckily Dad, Aunt Sharon, and Grandpa had discussed a long time ago what they wanted when this time came--no artificial means (like a ventilator), no treatments that merely prolonged life but offered zero actual benefit (like dialysis), and a comfortable and pain-free death. She also let us know that Grandpa would be moved to his own room and offered to call a priest for us to administer Grandpa's last rites. Grandpa would also be placed on a constant morphine drip to keep him continuously comfortable, and although we wouldn't be able to predict the time of death, she said it usually occurs within 48-72 hours.
Kevin and Mom then arrived and the three of us headed over to the old house, which is being renovated. By "renovated" I mean "Completely torn down and replaced except for a few walls left standing to get past tax codes." It was pretty crazy. Everything seemed so small! We then headed back over to Mom and Dad's new house and again had dinner and hung out for a while.
Dad went back to the hospital after dinner and returned very late. He said that Grandpa had been moved to his own room and the priest had stopped by. He said that Grandpa had received his morphine drip and seemed to have started declining more rapidly than he had over the course of the last 2 days. Again, I haven't spoken to them yet this morning, and of course there's no way to tell, but it sounded like within 48 hours might be an accurate prediction.
Thank you again for all of your prayers and support. Here's a picture from this past Christmas. Again, click for a larger image.
My beloved Grandpa Rosiak was taken to the hospital this morning and it looks like this is the end. Grandpa turned 94 years old this April and has been in steadily failing health. My mom and dad said that our family has decided (in accordance with his wishes) not to use any artificial means to prolong his life. He is currently resting in the hospital and is not in any pain with some sedative medication. They expect his passing to be peaceful and pain-free. Your thoughts and prayers for our family and for Grandpa's passing would be very much appreciated.
I am a mosquito magnet. And beyond magnet--I think mosquitos spontaneously combust out of my body to bite me. I really don't understand how this happens. I am rather allergic to mosquito bites. Some will be just fine while others will balloon up, become a rash, and then a giant red splotch that takes weeks to heal. It's really not fun. Plus they itch me like crazy. Today was a mosquito attack day. Here were my travels pre-bites and post-bites:
Arrived at church
Left church and drove to work
Left car and walked through the Disneyland parking garage to the Disneyland parking tram (I was feeling lazy)
Rode the tram
Disembarked from the tram and walked a couple hundred yards to Build-A-Bear
Walked into Build-A-Bear and up the stairs
Walked into the break room
Discovered nine--NINE mosquito bites--6 on one arm and 3 on the other
Nobody between church and Build-A-Bear got bit. Nobody in the break room got bit. None of my co-workers believed me (they looked at me like between church and work I'd stopped at an infested swamp and gotten bit, and they expected me to pull out a leech or two).
And now I'm sitting in my office. There are no mosquitos around that I can see. Nothing. And five minutes ago--3 bites on my leg! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??? I know for a FACT that they were not there before I sat down at my computer because I actually checked my legs and arms for additional bites. Then suddenly I feel an itch and look down at my leg and there are THREE BITES.
How can I miss the fact that I'm getting bit? Kevin wondered aloud if I have contracted some kind of skin disease or something, because I am the only person in the household to have sustained three bites in FIVE MINUTES. I feel confident that they are actually mosquito bites because the rare times that I've actually noticed a mosquito biting me, the result looks just like this.
I don't believe it's fleas. Scout and Digory are on flea treatment and we're very vigilant about that. Additionally, Scout is very sensitive to fleas and itches incessantly (poor thing) whenever she gets bit. We don't have any standing water in the bedrooms. Kevin, of course, never gets bit.
I really don't understand how this is happening. It doesn't happen all the time, but I rarely get one bite on its own--always several at a time. Yes, Pop, I am using Sting-Eze. I have also tried just about every natural cure and prevention known to man. They don't work.
I found this on a mosquito bite information site:
Why do mosquitoes bite? Actually, it is only the females that bite and they do so out of necessity ratther than pleasure. Female mosquitoes seek blood when they are preparing to lay eggs as they need the nourishment to produce healthy offspring. The mosquito's normal diet of plant juices contains none of the proteins a female needs in order to produce her eggs. For that, she needs a concentrated source of protein, which, unfortunately for us, is blood.
Boy, sure makes you feel bad for those Motherf-ers, doesn't it?
Gah! I hate nature! If I wanted to live with mosquitos I'd move to Minnesota!
Ha! There is a mosquito in here! I know becuase I just got two more bites and happened to look down and see some flying thing taking off. I smashed everything in sight but don't think I got her. Good thing their lifespans are short.
I'm a huge fan of PostSecret. I've talked about PostSecret on here before, but if you're just joining us and you haven't heard of it yet, it's a blog run by this guy named Frank. He decided to ask people to write a secret on a postcard that they'd never told anyone else before and send it in anonymously. He then posted different secrets on his blog. It's been going on for 3 years (!) now (I don't know how long we've been reading it, but a while) and he updates regularly every Saturday night/Sunday morning-ish. It's the one blog I never miss.
Frank sent me an email today, because apparently I signed up somewhere to be on his email list. He included a link to his new PostSecret video. It's very good. Grab a kleenex. Also, the background music is the one that played at the end of the HBO series Six Feet Under and thus evokes this deep internal reaction from me that is great sorrow. I'm not sure if I'm sad about the song itself (it isn't really a sad song) or sad that I'll never get to see the characters from Six Feet Under again or sad that a tv series I really liked ended, or sad because of the way the series ended (it was very, very, very good--the absolute best series finale of any show I've ever seen or will ever see). And then he goes and adds PostSecret stuff to it.
Anyway, here you go: The PostSecret Video
Well this certainly goes under the "you don't see that every day" category. Giant Lego man found in Dutch sea.
My favorite part is circled in red. I mean well, what else would you do with him?
Here's a closeup of Mr. Lego with his cryptic message on his chest:
We went to the Orange County Fair on Saturday (a bad day to go--getting off the freeway was impossible). It was fun, as fairs usually are. My favorites are the Peking Acrobats and the crafts booths, and of course the abundancy of fried food. We also walked through the exhibition buildings and one of my favorite competitions is the table setting competition. Apparently you design a theme and plan a table setting (one was Elvis, one was Halloween, etc.). You make a centerpiece and coordinate all kinds of different cutlery and place settings, plus you write up a menu for the planned meal. You are judged on both technical and artistic merit. What's really funny is seeing the judge's comments, like "Plates and silverware should be placed 1 inch from the edge of the table" and "Water glass should sit at the tip of the knife." Also, a couple of people got nailed on having extra items for things that weren't on the menu, like having bread plates when no bread was listed, or champagne flutes for the same. And two people had their dessert forks pointing in the wrong direction! The horror!
I truly wonder how one gets involved in place setting competitions. Where do you learn this stuff? Where do you get all of these accoutrements? It's crazy.
Haha--right after I posted this I Googled Table Setting Competition and found someone else's blog entry about it. As it so happens, the guy lives in Redondo Beach and the competition he saw was none other than the Orange County Fair! He's got some pictures there and a pretty funny write-up. Go see it.
I've been getting a lot of questions lately about our adoption primarily centered on two things--why is the wait so long and are we able to track our wait. The answer to the first one I'll address in a moment. The answer to the second one is, "sort of." It's like waiting in line at the airport. You can see that there are fewer and fewer people in front of you the longer you wait, but you still don't know how long it's going to take to get you to the front. So we can track it, but we can't predict it.
Before I start, I'll give you a brief glossary:
CCAA: China Center for Adoption Affairs. This is the central government agency in China responsible for all Chinese adoptions.
Referral: This is the match of you and your child.
Dossier: This is your completed adoption file. It includes your homestudy and various other pieces of official paper like your birth and marriage certificates, financial statement, doctor's report, etc.
LID: Log-in date. This is when the CCAA has reviewed your dossier and has placed you in line. Our LID is March 20, 2007.
Referral Batch: Matches are made once a month (or once every four weeks or so) and they come in batches. That is, people are referred according to LID, so when a referral batch comes out, it has an LID cutoff date before which every dossier receives a referral. In other words, the line goes in order and nobody gets to skip to the front.
Paper-ready baby: A child whom the CCAA has decided is truly an orphan, available for international adoption, and has his or her own dossier including pictures (sometimes just 1, usually no more than 3) and brief medical information and personality information (likes music and sucking on her fingers, etc.).
SWI: Social Welfare Institute--an orphanage.
Rumor Queen or RQ: A blogger who tracks and reports China adoption information.
Okay. The short answer to why the wait is so long is because there aren't enough paper-ready babies. In China it is illegal to place a child up for adoption, so the children must be abandoned somewhere. Once found (usually very quickly--birth parents tend to place their babies where they will be found, like at the steps of a police station, the orphanage, or a crowded market in the early morning), he or she enters the equivalent of China's child welfare system. Some babies are placed in foster homes (this is an increasing situation--yay!) and the rest are placed in orphanages, called Social Welfare Institutions (SWI). Once there, a child cannot be made available for adoption until the government has determined that the child is either an orphan or that they absolutely cannot find the parent(s) and reunite them. It can take a while and cost some money for this to happen. Once this happens the child becomes paper-ready and his or her file goes to the CCAA for matching.
The flip side of this coin is that there are too many parents. The China adoption program has skyrocketed in the last couple of years. People are drawn to China because the children are usually quite healthy and because the program is stable and predictable. Nobody gets to skip to the front, regardless of celebrity status (when Meg Ryan adopted her daughter from China last year, she had to wait just as long as everyone else). There are also no bribes or individual lawyers and judges who make special determinations. Because of these and other reasons, China has become the most popular international adoption country. In the last couple of years, parent dossiers have been flooding in, but the process to make children paper-ready has not changed, so the inbalance means that there aren't enough paper-ready kids to match with paper-ready parents.
So now that we know roughly why the wait is so long (there are, of course, several other reasons that contribute to the wait, but that's the main one), the next logical question is, "how long will the wait be?" This is where we can get more specific. As I said, referrals come in batches roughly once every four weeks and are limited by an LID cutoff date. In the past (more than 2 years ago) there were just about one month worth of referrals in each monthly batch. This made for an expedient wait of around 6 months for adoptive parents. Now things have slowed down considerably.
CCAA just referred their August batch on Thursday. The LID cutoff for this batch is November 21, 2005. Yes, 2005. That means that everyone with an LID after Novemberr 22, 2005, is still waiting. Above I mentioned that in the past, entire months were referred in each batch. That has not been the case. The August batch matched only 7 days. That means that the July batch cutoff was November 14, 2005.
To illustrate just how slow things have gotten, here's a breakdown of how 2007 referrals have gone:
August 2007 batch: 7 days matched
July 2007 batch: 7 days
June 2007 batch: 6 days
May 2007 batch: 6 days
April 2007 batch: 2 days--this was an extremely depressing month. The CCAA moved forward only 2 days for the entire month.
March 2007 batch: 11 days
February 2007 batch: 16 days
January 2007 batch: 19 days
Reading from the bottom up, you can easily see a steady decline in the number of days in each batch. To break things down on a higher level, the CCAA has only been able to match approximately 3 months worth of dossiers in the last 8 months. If you look at it on a weekly level--well, with an LID of March 20, 2007, let's just say we're staying away from calculators.
The next question, then, is, "will the matching speed up?" The answer to that, according to just about everyone including agencies and regular people who follow these things, is, "it has to." The CCAA has been very tight-lipped on the subject, but the general understanding is that China does not want the wait to exceed 3 years. Will that happen? It's really hard to say. There are so many factors that go into the matching. Nobody knows how many babies are actually referred in each batch or how many parent dossiers are logged in in the first place. Some months contain more holidays (non-working days for the CCAA) than others. Some SWIs are sending more or fewer children than they have in the past.
The primary source of information for all things China adoption is a site called the Rumor Queen. The RQ has a wide readership but can be a double-edged sword. She reports rumors that people have forwarded anonymously, but they're not always right. It can be an emotional rollercoaster to hear all kinds of conflicting information and to try not to get your hopes up when rumor has it that the next batch is going to be huge and it's only a week. However, the RQ does have a lot of interesting historical information and she's the only one who tracks these things.
The RQ has several straw polls of what month and year your LID is and other information of the same variety. Obviously the people who read the site and who respond to the poll are a small, self-selected group. However, in a general sense, it may be possible to extract some high-level pieces of information. High-level in the sense that according to the RQ polls, November 2005 has the most LIDs ever seen in the China adoption program. Assuming that that information is an accurate representation, it's more understandable to see why it has/will take the CCAA ~4 months to match the single month of November. (it looks like March 2006 is going to be a bitch too)
A look at RQ's poll results (each number is one family):
November 2005: 450 (families responded)
December 2005: 256 (a significant drop)
January 2006: 232 (still falling)
February 2006: 195 (still falling)
March 2006: 365 (ouch)
And you really can't go much further beyond that because people start reading (and voting) the closer they get to referral, so dates later than those above may not represent actual falling numbers of LID batches, but rather that a smaller number of people are reading and voting.
So at this point, we can track where we are in line, but we can't predict when we'll get to the front. The wait time is agonizingly slow but seems to have levelled off in the last 4 months. Continuing at that pace would mean a very, very long wait, but chances are good that once the CCAA plows its way through November, that we're going to see a speedup raising through February matches and then dropping dramatically again through March. However, another factor is that January is chock-full of Chinese holidays, so when they're actually making matches in January for whatever dates they've gotten to at that point, we're going to see smaller results too.
Did I mention how complicated it is?
So I hope this gives you a better understanding of the wait and where we stand in line.
How can that be possible? Tomorrow is my brother's birthday (Happy Birthday Brad!). Friday is my dad's birthday (Happy Birthday Pop!) and Friday is also my father-in-law's birthday (Happy Birthday Ken!). I'm not quite sure why all of these are bunched together.