Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Has it really been a week?

It's hard to believe that it has been a week since we returned home-the days have gone by quickly as we continue to iron out routines and start getting G ready to start kindergarten next month.

I've used the past couple of days to start processing the pictures from our trip-I uploaded 672 pictures to Costco. It's going to take me a while to go thru and edit and select which ones to print. I've also been working on balancing the checkbooks, sorting out the rest of the bills/mail-not the most fun thing to do, but a necessary evil of being away from home for so long.

Baby K is starting to sleep a little better at night-at least that is what I am telling myself. If I can just get her clock rotated a little more towards going to bed a little earlier, it will be perfect. She's such a rascal at times. She will actually fight going to sleep-just as she starts to doze off, she'll kick her leg and keep herself awake. This is probably an omen that she has a strong will/personality and that R and I are in for a real ride with this one.

Our dear friends, Miss Carol and Siena, brought us over dinner tonight-THANK YOU! It was delicious and nice not to have to think about what we were all going to eat. Actually, R has taken over most of the cooking duties as of late and I've taken over the clean-up afterward. This is a total flip flop of what our life was like as a family of three. Can I actually admit that I'm liking this turn of events at the moment?

We are really utilizing all of the baby accessories that Aunt Kerry collected and sent over-THANK YOU! I'm not sure where my mind was when I thought that I wouldn't need a baby swing-Baby K loves the swing and the bouncy seat and as you can see in the picture, the swing lulls her to sleep. This is a perfect spot for her when we sit down to eat dinner-I've managed to eat three meals without having to get up (oh, the small victories in life :-)

Baby K in the swing

Included a pic of the dolls that we bought in HI for the girls-we're calling these our Marshallese dolls. I may have mentioned in an earlier post that the Marshallese girls do not actually have dolls to play with according to the facilitator, they use shells and sea glass to play house.

More family pics-can't get enough of that cute baby!

R and Baby K

Baby K

Grammy and Baby K

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Home and Settling In

Thanks everyone for your notes and messages! We made it home on Wednesday afternoon and were met at the airport by a very happy Daddy.

I want to say thanks to my friend for sending the Pauls's raspberry pie and to my Mom for cleaning up before we came home-almost makes me want to go away again-Just Joking!

On our last day in HI we went to Waikiki Beach and got some great pics of the girls. It was amazing how cold the water was after being in the MI for a month.

Baby K at Waikiki Beach

G at Waikiki Beach

The flight out of HI was pretty uneventful. Baby K slept almost the entire way from to Houston and G fell asleep after watching "Monsters vs. Aliens". I wish I could have said the same thing. I find it almost impossible to sleep on an airplane-the combination of the noise and the uncomfortable seats and the constant movement of people.

By the time our flight from Houston to Richmond touched down, I was exhausted. You basically lose one night's sleep. I did manage to get the girls changed into the dresses that I had made in the MI-the all important coming home outfits:-)

We had lots of family come over to see us-see pics-and thankfully, my mom spent the night. The first night home wasn't too bad, but the second night was our "hit the wall" night. G was up until almost 3:30pm and Baby K was up every 2 hours. I'm hoping that the worst of the jet lag has now passed. I've managed to get all the laundry done and all the suitcases except for one unpacked-now we're just trying to get settled into a routine.

Grammy and the girls

D-daddy and Baby K

Mimi and Baby K

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still in HI

Today was a great day! I had unlimited internet usage, a McDonald's iced mocha, and a Subway vegetarian sub-doesn't that sound like a perfect day?

Aunt M, the girls and I were so exhausted that we didn't make it out of the bed until 8:30am this morning and then didn't get out of the room until about 2:00pm. We tested out the HI bus system and did a little shopping. We hit the Walmart for diapers, wipes and formula-I was a little nervous that I didn't have enough to complete the trip home. The last thing I wanted to do was pay airport prices for diapers!

We also stopped at a very nice mall and found a Disney store and a Gymboree store-see picture of Baby K's first shopping trip. I picked up the Hawaiian dolls that G and I had admired at the airport on the way over for $3 less than what was at the airport. I think the dolls look more Marshallese than Hawaiian. They've got the cutest dresses on-just like the guams the Marshallese girls wear. I had hoped to pick up some dolls while we were in MI but found out that the girls don't have dolls there to play with. I learned that they still play "house" with a mom, dad, kids, etc. but that they use shells or sea glass to simulate those characters. So my Hawaiian dolls are going to be my Marshallese dolls.

Big news for G-she has lost another tooth. The second one she has lost while away from home. I told her Daddy would leave the Tooth Fairy a note at home and that I was sure there would be something waiting for her there-take note Daddy and Grammy to make sure the Tooth Fairy delivers before Wednesday :-)

Tomorrow we are off to Waikiki Beach and if we have time, to China Town. We drove thru China Town today and it looks like it would be a great place to take G to visit-lots of open markets and shops. They even have a Chinese Cultural Center that I'd like to check out.

Baby K's first shopping trip

G lost another tooth

Monday, July 20, 2009

We've Made it to HI

I've been so busy the past couple of days that I haven't had time to update the blog-that's a very ironic statement since we've been in the MI.

The last two days in MI were spent visiting the attorney and his family, the foster family, the other adoptive families, returning the rental car, giving gifts to the housekeepers and hotel security, and taking more pictures.

We made sure to have a dinner and a lunch at our two favorite restaurants-we had our favorite things-I had pumpkin rice, G had fried shrimp and Baby K had her usual:-)

After our last lunch at Tides Table we hurried back to the hotel to check out and catch the airport shuttle and Baby K's grandmother was there to see us off. She brought me a beautiful handmade purse, one for Baby K and some jewelry she had made. We promised to send pictures to the foster family to be forwarded to her since she doesn't have a post office box.

Our experience at the airport was less than pleasant. When we got there it was loaded with people waiting for the incoming flight and then people trying to get processed for the outgoing flight. We seemed to be the last group to go thru the line and we got Atilla the Continental Hun for a clerk. First she wanted to charge the $250 change fees, even though the travel agent had already changed the tickets, then she gave me a really hard time about opening Baby K's packet of immigration papers. Anyone who has been thru an international adoption knows you DO NOT OPEN THE IMMIGRATION PACKET. I'm not sure anyone has really explained what happens if the packet gets opened but the consequences always come across as something very ominous. Atila wouldn't accept my photocopy of Baby K's passport and wouldn't process the baby's ticket without seeing her passport which was in the packet. I had been forewarned that this might be the case and that if opened carefully, the packet would reseal and then the airport employee would sign a statement acknowledging that they opened the packet for the purpose of viewing the passport and nothing else had been disturbed.

First, the package seal ripped when I tried to open it and then second, Atilla refused to sign the statement saying she had opened it. By that point, I was 2 hours into the airport experience, clothes totally soaked from sweating, a sleeping sweaty baby stuck to me, and overwhelmed. I'm crying, Aunt M is trying to find someone else to sign the paper and then the agency facilitator is there working thru it with us. Somebody must have been watching over us because I'm not sure we would have made it thru that without some divine intervention. It took several calls to the attorney, but someone eventually signed our form and we were the last family to clear customs.

The flight to HI was uneventful and the process thru immigration, while uneventful (THANK YOU GOD), took a couple of hours. We arrived at the hotel at 4:30am and were so tired we just all crawled into bed with our clothes on. While sitting in immigration, I realized that our stay in HI was for 2 nights. I'd been trying to figure out why we weren't getting home until Wednesday-duh! It's probably a good thing since we are all exhausted this morning.

Of course, if I wasn't so anxious to get home to family, I could stay here for a while. There is an internet connection in the room and water you can drink out of the tap-YEAH!!!

Me, Baby K, G and Merine

Our newest US Citizen

My girls

Friday, July 17, 2009

Counting down the days

We are now counting down the days and trying to make sure that we've seen all the sights on Majuro. We tried to go see the museum but it wasn't open-there is a standing joke about the museum hours. To try and be assured that we could get in, we stopped by the Visitor's Authority and checked on the hours. The woman called the museum and told them that we were planning to come and they said they would be there by 1:00pm. To allow for island time, we showed up at 1:10pm and stayed until 1:30pm and still no one was there. We may try again today but we may also just skip it-it makes me too frustrated to try and guess when they are going to be open.

This past evening we ordered pizza and hung out at the lagoon area of the hotel with the other adoptive families. It was a nice, relaxing evening. I've posted some pics of our outing-the kids had such a good time playing in the sand and water and the grown-ups. Last night was also the closing night of the President's Summit (this is the reason all the flights have been booked)at the hotel restaurant. There was a band setup poolside and we got to enjoy some really good music-it was an interesting mix of country music-Don Williams, Freddy Fender.

The girls

G and friends

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More pics from yesterday

Wanted to post these yesterday but the connection was too slow-I will never take our DSL for granted again.

The first pic is of Baby K and her maternal grandmother. It is striking how much the grandmother and birth mother look alike. During lunch, we asked her how many grandchildren she had and she replied that she had eight and that she was 43 years old. That makes her one year older than me. Somebody out there please tell me that I don't look quite that old :-)

The second pic is of G and her new ukelele. We have now added that to our collection of musical instruments-watch out D-daddy because I know she is want to going to bring it to your house to share.

Just met one of the scientists that is staying here-they are here on a "shadow tracking" expedition. There is going to be a full eclipse on 7/22, so mark your calendars at home and tune into CNN. We were asked if we would like to stay and watch but I think just seeing it on the TV will suffice for me this time around.

Baby K and Marina

G and her ukelele

We have papers!

We have papers! I called DHL this morning and they confirmed that the papers had indeed arrived in Majuro and were on the way to the US Embassy. We got the call about 2:30pm that we could come pick up the package. Not wanting to appear anxious (ha ha) we waited until about 3:30pm to go get them. It was very anti-climatic, they didn’t even ask to see identification. I’m sure it helped that we had met the embassy contact on several different occasions while we’ve been here. Family #2 should receive their papers by Monday and is planning to leave on the same flight that we will be on. It will be nice to go out with them since we have spent most of our time here together.

Today we also had lunch with Baby K’s maternal grandmother. She was so gracious and humble-she thanked us for inviting her to lunch. She had not seen Baby K since she was one week old. Interestingly enough, she is the cousin of the foster dad. One of the things that I’ve noticed is here is that whole six degrees of separation-everyone either seems to know everyone or be related to everyone.

We’re anxiously counting down the days to Monday. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here almost a month and while it has been relaxing and most beautiful, we are ready to come home and to get back into our routines.

I heard from my Mom this morning that my best friend has hooked me up with a raspberry pie from Paul’s Bakery-now I’m really ready to come home!

For all of our friends and family that have been asking what they can do, please come visit when we come home. Give us a day or two to get settled in but then please call and come over-I don’t want Baby K to be grown before you all get a chance to see her.

We have papers!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Home on Monday!

We are expecting our papers to arrive back at the embassy today. We were hoping to catch the evening flight out but it is booked, as is the Friday evening flight. R went ahead and scheduled us to leave on the first available flight which is on Monday. We're a little disappointed to have to wait the extra days but it we'll still make it home in time for my birthday-and yes, I still want a blackberry pie fromm Paul's bakery (hint, hint)

The past two days have been fun. We took the foster mom and some of the other girls from her house out to lunch and then yesterday she had us over for a traditional Marshallese meal. She fixed lobster, grouper, red snapper, coconut rice, breadfruit in coconut milk and steamed coconut. She showed us how to open coconuts and G even got to drink from one. It wasn't quite what she expected but she was happy that she got to try it.

Since we've been here, three other families have arrived. I met another family from VA-in fact, they are from Culpeper, about 30 minutes from us, so it will be really nice to have that connection. Their baby is approx. 3 weeks younger than Baby K so basically our girls are the same age.

Speaking of Baby K, she is getting bigger every day. I'm amazed at how much she has changed in just a couple weeks time and how strong she is getting. I want her to stay little for awhile, especially since this is the last addition for the Jones family. I'm not sure R and I can endure another international trip. When we returned home from China with G, I was pretty adamant that we wouldn't make another trip like that, but like labor pains, you forget how hard the trip was until you are in the middle of it again.

G has been a real trooper. Of course, I've been a little bit more relaxed with her as well-staying up late, eating peanut butter crackers for breakfast, eating a cookie in the middle of the day,......... I know she'll be glad to get home and back into a routine, as will I. I don't know what I'm going to do with all my extra time when it doesn't take 2 hours to do one load of laundry and I don't have to boil water to wash bottles.

Enjoy the pics-I've taken quite of few on this trip but because it takes so long to load, I've only posted a few. For anyone interested, you can come over to the Jones casa and I'll bore you with lots of slideshows :-)

Me, G and Baby K in the sling

G drinking coconut water

Me and the two Mary's

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Baby K

Me and the girls at the kemen

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Our Papers Are On The Move

I checked our tracking number this morning and our papers have left Hong Kong. I'm not sure of the exact route but I know from talking with the family that just left that it will make several stops before coming back to Majuro. We're hoping for a Wednesday evening flight out so keep your fingers crossed!

Welcome to the two new families who arrived yesterday. G was so excited to have new playmates! and it was nice to share experiences with the new families. Good luck on your journey in the MI!

Yesterday we had the opportunity to attend a kemen. Family #2's little girl celebrated her first birthday and a kemen party is how they celebrate in the Marshalll Islands. There was a lot of food and singing. After everyone had eaten and had cake the ladies all formed a kind of receiving line and sang and moved toward the birthday girl offering gifts and blessings. It was a really moving experience.

Check out the picture of the girls in their matching dressesd. Will try to post pic later-connection is too slow:-)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dinner with Baby K's birthmom

G at the talent show

Aunt M and the girls

Good News!!!

We found out yesterday that our papers have left Manila-that means they could arrive here early next week and we could be on the Wednesday night flight out. That would put us arriving home on Thursday. At the latest, we would leave Friday night and be home on Saturday. Assuming this all goes my way, we would have been on this journey less than 30 days-that's almost unheard of.

I'm not sure why HI and Manila processed so quickly, but we're very thankful!

Last night we went to a Marshallese talent show. There was a lot of dancing and singing. We had a great time and I managed to get some video to show Baby K later.

We also had our last dinner with Baby K's birthmom. She was leaving for one of the outer islands and so we said our farewells. I wish she had of been able to stay longer but I know it must have been very hard for her.

Have some great pics to share but the connection is not cooperating this morning. Will try again later.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

We're still here!

We're still here and everyone is okay. R left on Monday evening and it's been a bit of challenge to update the blog without that extra set of hands but Aunt M arrived this morning and now we're back up and running.

It was hard to see R go but fortunately, Maddy, our facilitator, was there to cheer us up and she drove G, Baby K and myself back to the hotel.

All went well for the past two days, meaning I was able to get us all up, bathed and out of the room by 9:00am but it was definitely easier when R was here.

Aunt M's arrival was kind of like Christmas. Grammy and D-daddy sent all kinds of goodies for G. I hope we're here long enough to eat all the supplies!

On the paperwork front, our papers made it to Manila on Monday. That means they were in HI less than a week. We're hopeful that they clear thru Manila as quickly. It would be nice to think we could be home in less than 10 days from today.

Will try to get some pics up later. Family #2 gave us this great sling that has revolutionized the way we move around and I'd like to show you a pic of how content Baby K is riding around in it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Our first Marshallese Party

Last night we went to our first Marshallese Party. Baby K’s foster family invited us to their home to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. The party started at 7:00pm and we weren’t sure if that was the US 7:00pm or the Marshallese 7:00pm, because there is definitely a difference. Marshallese time is at least 30 minutes later than what is stated.

We arrived a little after 7:00pm and were the first guests. I have never seen so much food-rice in an 18 quart plastic container, large platters of grilled chicken and chicken wings, freshly husked coconuts, sliced breadfruit, fried fish, roasted pig, and other things that I couldn’t identify.

Most everyone here cooks meat on open grills outside over wood. You can almost always smell chicken grilling wherever you go. The fish was red snapper that Len had caught that day as part of a fishing tournament. Fisherman’s day is July 3rd and each year they have a big fishing tournament.

Mary and Len were so gracious and showed us around their home and more importantly, the home where Baby K spent the first 10 weeks of her life. They were so happy to see her. It was really touching to see how Len held her. It was so obvious that they cherished this baby while she was in their care.

My Dad would have been so impressed with Len’s garden-he had coconut trees, six different varieties of banana trees, cantalopes, melons, and some beautiful tropical flowers. He also had chickens, a pig and the biggest sea turtle that I’ve ever seen. Russ estimated that she probably weighed 125 pounds or more. In the Marshall Islands it is legal to eat sea turtle, you can’t sell the meat or parts, but it is traditional to eat it.

Mary gave all of us hand woven necklaces and two really beautiful shells for the girls. As we were leaving, Len gave us a bag of freshly husked coconuts and told us to look for “the face” on each one and then use something sharp to open what would be “the mouth”. Russ and I have looked at all of them and don’t see “the face”. We haven’t given up on them but we’re going to have to find something pretty sharp to open them with. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes:-)

The other day I tried a traditional Marshallese dish called pumpkin rice-delicious! The Marshallese eat it as a side dish but it is sweet like a dessert. It reminded me of rice pudding. We’ve made friends with the manager at Tides Table and I’m hoping to acquire the recipe before leaving. It would be an excellent addition to Thanksgiving dinner.

We made another trip to Laura Beach and enjoyed it even more than the first time. It’s hard to believe that this place isn’t crawling with tourists. I’ve posted some pics of the sea turtle, and of the girls at Laura Beach.

Baby K at Laura Beach

G at Laura Beach

Len and Baby K

Mary and Len's Turtle

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July! (It's the 4th here in the MI)Hope everyone gets to see some fireworks back at home!

Two weeks into our adventure and poor G is just about bored out of her mind. She loves being with and playing with the baby but it's hard to be in an unfamiliar place without her friends and her things for such a long time. Aunt M is coming next week and hopefully bringing some fun supplies from home.

Last night we took G to see the new Ice Age movie-yes, the Marshall Islands has a movie theatre. The really great thing was that it was opening day for Ice Age and there was hardly anyone there. The tickets and concessions are much cheaper here than they are in the states (one more reason to adopt from and visit the MI :-)

When we got back from the theatre, the birthmom was waiting outside our room with a gift. She brought us a shadow box that has shells in it that are found in the MI-the really nice thing is that it was something that belonged to her father who passed away about 6 months ago. I can't tell you how honored R and I are that she chose to give this very special gift to us.

For all of our friends thinking about adopting, I had an email from our agency saying that wait times are down for Marshall Islands adoptions. That's great news since it seems like all the other international programs have lengthening waits. Anyone looking for info, just email me.

One more thing, I found a shop that will make traditional dresses for the girls. So I picked out some cute tropical fabric, pink of course, and they should be ready in about a week. I'll post pics when I get them.

Family #2's little girl will celebrate her first birthday here in the MI and they are having a kemen party. It's a traditional party that marks a child's first year of life, or rather their survival for the first year of life. I've got my fingers crossed that our dresses will be done in time for the party!

This picture is of G standing in front of a banner for the US Embassy/Majuro. She saw the State Department seal and thought it was the Federal Reserve seal where R works-

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Just hanging out

Yesterday was just a hang out kind of day-the first of many I'm afraid. The girls colds have gotten better, but now R has come down with it. I seem to be the only one who has missed it.

We're starting to think about R leaving on Monday and so we did some more handicraft shopping. We've gotten some great woven bags for the girls and their friends and I've gotten a couple of baskets that I really like. R found some shirts with the Marshall Islands flag on them that were a great find and price, so we all got shirts, even Baby K.

We utilized the taxis for the first time since we've been here and it was quite an experience. The taxis here are all small cars and most of you know that R is not a small man. He literally had to fold himself in the car. The taxis here are also not exclusive, meaning that they will keep picking up customers until they are full. Last evening when we left the Tides Table we happened to get a taxi who picked up our family and one more guy. The additional passenger was the same size as R and when the driver pulled into an alley to let the other big guy out, the car was dragging the road really bad. It was a wonder he was able to get the car out and back on the road in one piece. He and R shared a chuckle over how the "big guys" are hard on the cars.

G and I had a little "mommy and me" time today, which we've needed. She's doing a great job as a new big sister but it is still an adjustment to not be the only child. We walked down to the lagoon area at the hotel and I got a few pics of her. I'm still amazed each time I truly look at her, how blessed R and I are to have such beautiful, smart girls! We're already assuming that Baby K is going to be as smart and funny as G-if that isn't a parents bias, I don't know what is.


To Binky or Not to Binky

G at the hotel Lagoon

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Some great finds....

Yesterday was a day for great finds. First, we found a french bakery within walking distance of the hotel. So the five pounds I lost coming over, will probably turn into a ten pound gain by the time I return home. The second great find was a laundromat. We can do laundry at the hotel-it's $4 to wash/dry and it takes about 2 hours to do one load. We dropped 3 loads off at the Good Earth Laundry and with a tip it was only $11-now that was a great find.

I also found a fabric store-lots and lots of tropical print fabric and it was only $4.95 per yard. I'm hoping to find someone to make some traditional dresses for the girls and then I'll use some of the other fabric for quilting.

There are a couple of restaurants here which are completely "safe". You can drink the water, the ice, and eat the salad. Small things I know, but a really big deal as we are starting to be "vegetable deprived". The hotel restaurant is called Enra, and last night we were there for the "Pizza and Pasta Night". It was amazingly good and reasonably priced. Friday night is Mexican Fiesta night so we are looking forward to catching a few tacos. I know some of you are probably laughing since we are on a beautiful tropical island and have fish/seafood at our disposal for every meal and here we are eating pasta and tacos! Old habits are hard to break!

We are planning to go to the Tides Table for dinner this evening where the internet connection is much better so I'll try to post a pic or two later.