the homepage of gregory and ann kline

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

One Year Ago

One year ago today my dad had a birthday. He is having one again this year!!

Unfortunately last year, I wasn't able to attend his birthday dinner because Greg and I happened to be at the US Embassy one year ago today as well, finalizing our adoption of Marcus. Woohoo!! We were up early that day and I got Marcus dressed in his new outfit. Then we met an employee of our attorney in the lobby of our hotel and headed for the embassy. There was a really long line outside of Guatemalan people waiting to get in to apply for Visas. We were able to walk right in though, after passing a little boy no more than five years old shining the shoes of an older gentleman. I knew at that moment that I wouldn't ever be a perfect mom and Marcus would surely have hardships in his future, but when he was five years old he would only need to worry about playing nicely with his friends and not forgetting his backpack at kindergarten.

Inside the embassy we waited and waited and waited. We were in a crowded room filled with families waiting to become families. Despite the noise and bustle, Marcus fell asleep in my arms. Finally we were able to move out of that room and into another room where we waited in line. When it was our turn we went into a small room. I don't remember what we had to do in there. Then we had to wait again. Finally we could go to the last window. Marcus was in the Baby Bjorn by then and he pounded on the counter while the woman at the window made sure everything was signed and stamped. Then she said, "Congratulations. Buy that boy a drum."

The only thing missing was the massive amounts of fireworks, the cheers from the crowd, and red carpet. The joy in my heart was enough to make up for all of that though.

Here it is a year later and I can't believe it. I think about how this year has just flown by and I can't believe that Marcus has already been home for a year. But then I also think that I can't remember a time when Marcus wasn't my little boy either. The main reason I decided to pursue adoption was because I decided I had a lot of love in my heart to give and who better to give it to than a child. I just never imagined until I met Marcus how much love I actually had.

One Year Ago

Marcus's First Day Home

One Year Later


Friday, October 26, 2007

Soon Soon Soon!!!!!

I am jumping around and dancing and screaming and Marcus is smiling not because he has any idea why his mommy is crazy but because she is crazy! I just checked my credit card and we have been charged for the second DNA test!! I never thought I would have tears of joy in my eyes for seeing that someone has charged my credit card!!! Woohoo!!! The DNA test will be done soon soon soon!!! Greg is even doing a happy dance and he doesn't really dance!!

It is just sad that my friend Jen will never know about this since she stopped reading my blog. Her loss. :)


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Baby Steps

I know, I know. I post a lot. I try to keep it to once a day which is hard. There is just so much stuff going on right now. I don't keep a real paper personal journal like I did for so long. Instead, I post here. If you don't feel like reading my posts, then don't.

Anyway, I think we are getting closer to Pink, or at least to DNA. Yesterday my agency had me send in another payment form for the second DNA test. (Notice I said I sent in another one, which means I am implying I sent one in before. I would elaborate on this but I decided when we got out of PGN that I would play nice with our agency for awhile.) I have been stalking my credit card bill for a charge for weeks now and last night I discovered that the testing lab put a hold on my card for the amount of the test. It is only a hold, not an actual charge. Even an actual charge wouldn't necessarily guarantee that the test was done but a hold on the money is good too. We know that the lab has our payment information and they are ready to go. I am ready to go. William may not know it but he is ready to go. Our file just has to get translated so it is ready to go.

Our stuff is getting ready to go to Guatemala as well. I started packing two nights ago. Well, sorta packing. I printed out my list of things to pack and went through it, adding and deleting some items. Then I started to make a little pile of things, mostly toiletries and my bathing suit - you know, the most important things. Last night I cleaned up a bit in our office which will be William's room until we feel that Marcus and William won't wake each other up too much during the night. Greg finished working on the laundry room/sewing room. It was the most inexpensive household project ever. He used leftover paint from the downstairs bathroom. (Cost $0.) We moved my existing desk. (Cost $0.) Then he set up some shelving that we can use to stack our laundry baskets on. We already had the shelves. (Cost $0.) The only thing in there that was new was about 10-15 feet of vinyl baseboard type stuff which was really cheap. I'll have to attempt to take a picture of the tiny space and post it eventually. Greg has also been working on getting the baseboards in the game room installed so we can finally move our furniture out of the garage and use the room again.

On top of all this there is crazy busy weekend that starts around 5:00 this evening. We are going to make a quick stop at my parents' house and drop Marcus off there to play. Greg and I are going on our last date for awhile. William will be home soon (yay!!) and I know I won't be ready to leave him with anyone for several months, even our very trustworthy parents. So this is it. Greg and I are going to head to my college town, a place I will always hold so near and dear to my heart - Morgantown, WV. One of my favorite bands is playing, Will Hoge, and I am really not all that excited about the concert. I just got off the phone with my best college friend and we are going to have dinner with him and his wife before the show. I haven't seen them since they got married back in May and I can't wait! On top of that, Will Hoge is performing at my old favorite hang out, a rundown dingy place (although I think they have cleaned it up a bit). If you are looking for me tonight, that is where we will be.

In the wee hours of the morning we will return home and with no sleep and tomorrow will begin. (I haven't quite figured out how to get Marcus to realize that mommy and daddy were out late the night before and he should just play for hours in his crib and let us sleep in.) Friday Greg and I are off work and will hopefully get around to cleaning our scary dirty house. We also have to get some food because we are having a cookout for about 25 people on Saturday. Saturday before the cookout Marcus and I are heading to the playgroup for families who have adopted from Guatemala that I put together. I am thinking that as soon as the last guest leaves on Saturday, I will be headed for bed.

The best part of all of this is that I likely won't have time to post so y'all can get a break from reading my nonsense.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Parental Advice Request

Parental Advice Please

I really don’t know what the proper response to certain toddler behavior is so maybe someone out there can set me straight. I read all the books (or at least a couple of them) and I am proud to say that Marcus is right on target, and maybe even a bit advanced, in his developmental milestones. His ability to understand what I have to say just amazes me every day. His language may still be limited but he is very creative and thoughtful on how to use the words he knows to get me to understand what it is that he wants. He is gaining more and more independence every day. He is a very nice boy and does the cutest things like brushing my hair out of my face when I have a stray strand. (This is really the cutest thing ever, particularly the way he is so gentle and careful with no prompting at all.) He has boundless energy that often makes him quite reckless. And most importantly to him, he has discovered that he can make decisions for himself and that decision can even be to defy his parents.

It is this last wonderfully on target milestone that I am having problems with. My biggest problem is that he is only beginning to discover this ability of his and we still have quite a long way to go. Although I understand his behavior, what my book reading on the subject has failed to do is to educate me on exactly how I am supposed to deal with it. I have heard somewhere that it is very important to utilize positive reinforcement. I am the positive reinforcement queen. With every activity that he does successfully, with every instant that he follows instructions, I am sure to tell him what a wonderful job he has done. He is excited about his success which is evident when he starts cheering for himself and my praise makes his face break into a huge grin. Despite my greatest efforts to have a positive household, he still likes to see just what will happen when he doesn’t follow instructions.

Let us look at just one situation from the past few days. After snack two evenings ago, Marcus proclaimed to me that he was all done. Like I do every night I stood and said, “Could you please hand me your plate.” I used my sweetest voice and even had a smile on my face. Marcus stared me down, picked up his plate, and threw it across the table.

This was not an instant where he just didn’t understand the words I was saying or what my outstretched hand meant. He knew exactly what I wanted and he knew that what he wanted to do was to prove that he didn’t have to listen.

The reaction that I got from the plate incident has now become the normal reaction when I ask him to hand me something – either throwing it away from me or grabbing tight and running away. I have tried a stern “No”. I have tried simply repeating over and over again, “Will you please hand me the [object]” in my nicest, sweetest, calmest voice for up to five minutes until he complies. Yesterday, after multiple incidents of nearly identical circumstances I even tried throwing a temper tantrum of my own. (The temper tantrum ended with me screaming, “You think you are the only one in this house that can throw a temper tantrum?? You got that wrong! Mommy has been throwing temper tantrums for more years that you can imagine and she is pretty darn good at it too!” I am sure my mother can attest to this if you have any doubts to the validity of my statement.) Although my temper tantrum did get him to resume putting his blocks away, it is definitely not the route I want to take again to get him to follow instructions.

I have heard that parents of toddlers have to have patience of steel and I really think I am quite the patient parent. I am a fabulous parent 99% of the time if I do say so myself. I have even perfected the ability needed to properly ignore one of Marcus’s many temper tantrums. (Marcus is getting great at dramatizing his temper tantrums. He has nearly perfected the throwing-one’s-whole-self onto the floor in a screaming fit tactic.) I have yet to clearly identify just why he throws a temper tantrum most of the time. Mostly these fits of his are related to me moving somehow. Like if I move from the floor to the couch or – God forbid – if I were to stand up for a second to adjust my pants that have decided to rotate on their own around my body and then sit down, that is a cause for a temper tantrum. All that I can handle.

I am just not sure how to handle him doing the opposite of what I would like him to do. Sure, it is just a plate that was not handed to me. But what happens in 14 years when he starts ignoring curfew or sneaking girls into his room? (Have you ever noticed how much toddlers and teenagers have in common? Reckless, self-centered, and defiant to their parents.) I need to set some boundaries and Marcus needs to start getting the idea that when he oversteps the boundaries there are consequences. I realize that no one is perfect and Marcus is still learning and going to make mistakes. He is going to ignore my requests for many years to come, but what is the proper reaction when he ignores every single request that I make?


Monday, October 22, 2007

Updates by the Minute

You get them as we get them. And we just got one. An update that is. Our attorney was to pick up William's birth certificate today! This is an extra special birth certificate that will have Greg and I listed as his parents. Our file still has to be translated before it will submitted to the US Embassy. According to our agency this will take about 1-1.5 weeks. During this time William will be getting his passport so he can travel home with us. Once the Embassy gets our translated file, they will almost immediately issue and authorization for the second DNA test to be done. It is taking about 1-2 weeks for the DNA test to be done and results to get to the US Embassy. Once the results are in, within 2 business days the US Embassy will issue "Pink", which is a green light for us to hop on a plane and gets our butts down to Guatemala to finalize our adoption!!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Random Stuff

My group of knitting people were meeting up today and I didn't go. I haven't been doing much knitting lately and I was lazy. I didn't feel like getting out of my pj's or taking a shower. Plus, my house was a wreck since I have been lazy all week so I thought I would tackle that instead. Instead of actually knitting, I will share with you my most recent knitted project. I made this for Amanda's baby and gave it to her at her shower a couple weeks ago.

A couple days ago I was out with my friend Val and I accidentally did some shopping. We weren't even going to go into Old Navy and then I declared that if we went in there I wasn't going to buy a thing. Then I picked up two shirts for myself and two things for William as well. I couldn't resist. I had to get the one outfit since Greg and I gave William the nickname Smiles while we were on our visit trip because that is all that that little kid did.

Marcus has a new trick. He has realized that sometimes you just don't have enough hands to carry all the things you want to. That is why God gave him a chin. He just tucks things under there and he is off, with his hands free to play with other things or to carry more stuff that is his his his. (Sorry, that was influence from a toddler there.) Tonight we were sitting around and Marcus decided that Greg and I needed to realize the importance of our own chins and he placed some toys under our chins for us to hold.



I've been tagged by The Lesko Family. (Well, unless they meant a different Annie but I think they meant me!)

Jobs I've Had
1. Cashier/Cook/Cleaner Upper at this awesome little diner/pharmacy (not kidding) in an old hotel made apartment building in my home town. I loved working there after school and got to meet lots of elderly people that I really enjoyed talking to. The place doesn't exist anymore.
2. Cashier at a convenience store. I got fired for asking for a day off.
3. Tour Guide at Laurel Caverns - a totally awesome job that involved climbing around in a cave and getting dirty all day.
4. Waitress at a seafood restaurant - I got fired because I told the assistant manger that I quit. I don't understand that one either.
5. Market Researcher - fancy name for calling people against their will to try to get them to fill out surveys.
6. Transportation Construction Inspector - which led me to my current career...
7. Documentation Specialist - Don't ask me to explain what that is at this point.

Places I've Lived
1. Washington, PA
2. Morgantown, WV
3. Carnegie, PA
4. Pittsburgh, PA

Foods I Love
1. Garlic
2. Lemons
3. Seafood
4. My mother-in-law's peanut butter pie

Places I Would Rather Be
1. Just one place, in Guatemala bringing William home

TV Shows I Watch
1. Desperate Housewives
2. Lost
3. 24

Books I Love
1. The Poisonwood Bible
2. Rapture of Canaan
3. about a million others but those are my two favorites

I am tagging:


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pumpkin Patch

Today Marcus went on his first trip to a pumpkin patch. I think it might have only been my second trip. We had so much fun that I foresee lots of pumpkin patch visits in the years to come. I am already looking forward to taking both Marcus and William there next year. Marcus and I drove down to meet up with my mom, sister, and my niece and nephew. The intent was for Marcus to take a nap on the way down but he was enjoying the beautiful colorful fall scenery instead. Once we all arrived at my parents' house, we were off to The Spring House in Eighty Four, PA, a dairy farm that has a country store and, of course, a pumpkin patch. I used to go to The Spring House quite often as a kid for candy and ice cream and even worked there for a very short three weeks back in high school. I was very excited to get to share the place with Marcus. It was a perfect fall day, kinda cool and very windy.

Marcus got to pet an ass. (Sorry, I just couldn't resist saying that.) He also petted a couple of sheep and some goats too.

There were lots of activities for kids there including this area that had a six foot ball in it that you could roll around or, in Marcus's case, watch as other people rolled it around.

Soon we were on a hay ride that would take us up to the top of the hill where there were two pumpkin patches, a maze made out of hay bales, and a corn maze. I took tons of pictures and so many of them turned out great so most of the rest of this will just be pictures that are worth a thousand words. I took so many pictures in fact that my fully charged battery died by the end.

In the Hay Maze

My niece Maria busting a move on some hay

Being lost in hay is tiring

I don't think anyone will notice if I just hop on over this bale...

I'll just keep my head low and they won't be able to see me cheating

One more little perilous move and I'm outta here

View from the Pumpkin Patch

This pumpkin has bumps

Maria, Scott, and Marcus (no, he isn't napping, just blinking)

Even falling is funny when you are in a pumpkin patch

A pumpkin blossom exactly 2 seconds before it was ripped from the vine and torn into shreds

Lost in the corn maze (5 feet from the exit)

Marcus totally adores his cousin Scott and follows him everywhere

Corn is funny

I interrupt to part of the picture show for a disclaimer. I never said that I wasn't a bit goofy or off the wall or even inappropriate at times. How could I not be growing up with my fabulous family? Take my dear mother for example. I am sure she will be thrilled to death when she realizes that I have posted these photos of her on a public blog but really, could it be any more embarrassing than a certain video I have posted of her in the past? As you may have noticed from previous pictures, the pumpkin patch also had some gourds as well. My mother liked these gourds. She thought they would make wonderful seasonal decorations. She picked up a few and put them in the side pockets of her sweatshirt. Soon, she ran out of pockets though. Really, where else should she have put them?

"Here, Grammy. Stuff this in there too."

Marcus was quite fatigued from his fun and lack of nap. I thought he might fall asleep on the hay ride back down the hill. Then he heard me say something about ice cream and he was able to keep his eyes open. After eating most of my ice cream, it was time to do some more playing with pumpkins.

And thus was the end of a wonderful fall day. Marcus was asleep before we left the parking lot.


Friday, October 19, 2007

10 Months and 4 Weeks

Today William is 10 months old and we have been out of PGN for 4 weeks. My life has been nothing but waiting and I am getting really tired of it all. We wait to hear about our case. We wait to get pictures. We wait for someone to do something that might bring William even a day closer to coming home. We are still waiting.

I emailed our case worker yesterday in hopes to find out something. We know nothing at this point. We don't know if William's birthmom has signed off for the last time. We don't know if the attorney even knows where she is considering it has been since the DNA test in May that they have needed to contact her. We don't know if anyone has even started the process of getting William's new birth certificate. We don't know if they already have the birth certificate but are getting the passport. We don't know if they have started translating the file for submittal to the US Embassy. We don't know when William will be coming home.

We wait. We wait for our lives to change dramatically. We wait to tell our employers that we are going to be on leave. We wait to pack our bags. We wait to tell our families and friends that the day has come and William will be coming home at last. We wait for just one little piece of information that might come from our agency telling us that we won't have to wait much longer.

It is getting harder and harder for me to concentrate at work because I know that soon I will be on leave. There were a few days about a week ago when my employer thought that I didn't have any available leave for when William came home. I ignored our HR department and contacted our central office. I can take 6 continuous months off without pay. There is an out of town meeting coming up in November and I had to explain to my boss that even if I am not on leave already, I can't go. It is like being nine months pregnant. I could go at any time. Or I could keep waiting.

I am getting tired of having people approach me and tell me that they have read an article or saw something on the news or heard on the radio that adoptions in Guatemala are [insert something that is completely bogus]. I am tired of setting people straight. I am tired of hearing myself how the media is portraying that babies are stolen from their birthmoms and that it is easy to adopt from Guatemala. If babies were being stolen then there would be no match with the DNA test and the birthmom wouldn't be signing off four times over the course of several months to relinquish her rights. If it was easy than William would have been home months ago, along with Sophia and Karla and Lola and Mario and Caleb and Johanna and thousands of other children. Instead, we all wait.

Update: Never say complaining never gets you anything. About two hours after I wrote this I did hear from our agency. William's birthmom signed off for the fourth and final time which means that William is irrevocably ours! (At least that is what it says in our agency handbook even though there are still steps from this point on that could go wrong.) The attorney expects to get William's new birth certificate by the end of next week. He better! It usually takes around 2-3 weeks after getting out of PGN to get the birth certificate and by the end of next week that will be 5 weeks. I am still thinking that this will be a wild Thanksgiving though.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Affair

I can't believe that I am going to post this on a public blog but I really feel like I need to get it off my chest. I have already confessed everything to Greg and even Amanda and Cara know all about it at this point. I just really feel like I need to come clean so I can move forward with my life.

I had an affair. It was planned and everything. After five years of a completely committed relationship I cheated. Worst of all, it was tonight. I just had enough and I needed to do something different, to see how it would feel. Then Greg took pictures of it.

No! Not an affair like that! What were you thinking! It was what Amanda called a "Hair Affair".

I started seeing my stylist when I first moved to the area about five years ago. I followed her through four salons. She did my hair for my wedding even (which I hated). There were bound to be some ups and downs in our relationship over the years but after my last cut, I had enough. I went in and told her to trim it up a bit and just make sure she put in some layers because I hated my hair one length. What did she do? She cut it one length. Even after she claimed she was done I told her I would like some layers and she said that if she gave me layers at that point my hair would just poof out and look strange. Oh, it looked strange alright.

I got the number of Cara's stylist and finally was brave enough to make an appointment for this evening. I no longer live in the area of the city that I was in when I first started seeing my old stylist so getting there was even a big pain. Cara's stylist, Mandi, is located 2.3 miles from my house. I left 10 minutes before my appointment and got there early.

Mandi was such a joy to work with - or to be worked on by. She was so careful making sure that each hair was in the exact right place, not rushing so she could get out of there or on to her next customer. We chatted and laughed (and laughed at stories about Cara) and before I knew it, I had transformed into this!

(Don't be scared. The bat isn't real.)

Now before you go getting too excited, do remember that this hair was styled by a professional. I will never ever in a million years get it to look like that again. Starting tomorrow, it will be wavy and weird but for tonight, it looks great!

* * * *

As it turns out, pretty much all my friends at this point in my life either have just had a baby or they are pregnant. There are constantly doing this weird thing where they take pictures of their bellies to show off how big they have grown. I have never done this. Here I am, just a few weeks of having my little boy in my arms and I don't have a single belly picture to show for it. That was until now! Here is my belly shot, just a few weeks before the newest family member arrives. Yes I am sucking it in and apparently when I suck my belly in it makes me stick my chest out.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Confessions of an Adoptive Mom

Greg and I were talking the other day about being adoptive parents. It really isn’t something I think about all that often. I am just a mom with no extra adjectives. Every once in awhile I am reminded that I am a mom of the adoptive variety.

The conversation started when I mentioned how odd I find it when people tell me how cute Marcus is or they look at pictures of William and tell me how cute he is. What is my proper response? Thanks? It isn’t like I had anything to do with how they look. Those aren’t my genes. It isn’t like I picked them out of a book of babies and selected them based on their cuteness, therefore indicating good taste on my part. It is even an odd thing to have to respond to – I would imagine – for parents of biological parents. Sure, I can see how maybe it is a compliment to the parent since a bio child is genetically half of them, but unless they used some sort of new genetic procedure that I am not aware of, it isn’t like the parent got to pick which half of their genes their child got.

This all led to an even more interesting confession of my own. Thankfully Greg understood and wasn’t offended when I confessed that I prefer to go out in public with Marcus alone, not with Greg around. When Marcus first came home it was all so new and I am sure I was slightly paranoid, but I swear I saw people staring at us. I recall one lady even doing a double take. Were they just looking at the baby because everyone loves a baby? Or were they looking at the differences in skin tone, hair color, and eye shape? I will never know. I don’t notice people staring anymore, mostly because I am lost in my own world of mommyhood bliss and could really care less if they do stare.

Things are different though when we go out as a family. I feel like an advertisement for international adoption. When I am alone in public (can a person really be alone in public? I guess I’ll have to philosophize that one later) with Marcus, there is an element of doubt. Most people probably take one look at him and one look at me and reach the conclusion that our bond was formed by adoption. They just don’t really know though. Greg isn’t there. They don’t know what he looks like. Maybe my spouse is Hispanic. Maybe Marcus looks like my spouse.

The doubt is removed when the three of us are together. Blue eyes, green eyes, brown eyes. Brown hair, dirty blond hair, black hair. I feel people looking at us more. I feel like we are more of a target for those rude comments of the world that I have yet to hear firsthand but have heard as a possibility multiple times. I feel like people look at us and label us as an adoptive family, not just a family with no extra adjectives. I feel like a plain old adjective-less family so why do we have to look otherwise?

I am proud to be an adoptive mom. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sometimes being on display puts me right back in high school when all I wanted was to be like everyone else but knowing that being different was much more special. Mostly though, I just love being mysterious. I love when people look and just can’t quite figure out what is going on with me. I guess I just better start insisting that Greg stays home.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Fest

This Saturday our neighborhood held their Fall Fest. We haven't attended in the past but figured it would be a good time for Marcus this year. The event started at 1:00 which was right smack dab in the middle of Marcus's nap time. I woke him up early and got him down for a nap early. Unfortunately he is getting over a cold so he still slept until just after 2:00. As soon as he woke up, we put his Halloween costume on him and off we went to the neighborhood park.

Greg and I were quite impressed with the event. Things were wrapping up when we got there but since Marcus couldn't participate in many of the activities yet, that was fine. We had some cookies and I grabbed a caramel apple which they were making on site. They also had apple cider and lots of other drinks as well. There was a pumpkin painting contest so we got a pumpkin (although we didn't do any painting). They also had a nice area set up for pictures. Our pictures didn't turn out too spectacular because it is just impossible to get a toddler to pose but here ya go:

We did a little playing as well. Here is a great picture of Marcus and me. As you can see I am in costume. I was dressed up as a mom.

Yesterday we headed to my parents' house for dinner. My brother was in town and I hadn't seen him since Christmas. I set my camera out to take because I don't even have a picture of Marcus and his Uncle Willie but I somehow managed to leave the house without it. Marcus had a great time playing with his cousins Maria and Scott. He followed Scott around like a lost puppy. After dinner and after Marcus grabbed my ice tea and dumped it all down his chest, we took a walk down the street.

I grew up in an unusual neighborhood. I didn't realize that there was something unusual about it until I got much older. It is really one of the greatest places on earth. It is a dead end street with 17 houses. Everyone knows everyone. In fact, many of the residences went to high school and even elementary school with my parents. Several other residents are the kids (like me) that grew up on the street and have moved back. We have block parties every year (see my post about the Fourth of July) and several of the families go out to dinner together around Valentine's Day. Growing up, all of us kids were like extended family. We played all day long. We rode our bikes up and down that street constantly and sometimes just hung out in the middle of the road because that was just something that you could do.

And there we were yesterday, hanging out in the middle of the road. Maria and Scott were learning to ride their bikes right there where my sister and brother and I all learned to ride. Marcus was running up and down the road like a wild man, chasing Scott, and it was all so oddly familiar. It was just like all the perfect fall days that I remember as a child and I was there experiencing it with my child.