Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Farmers Farewell

Michael's father's favorite John Deere tractor led the funeral procession from the church to the cemetery. It was not a tractor he had farmed with, but he had always been fascinated with the old John Deere diesels, and a few years ago he finally bought one. His son Jon restored it, and Richard enjoyed driving it in several parades and tractor rides. Several friends helped get it ready, and a good friend and neighbor drove it on Richard's last trip.

It was a chilly, dreary November day, and our family is grateful to Kenneth Knight for braving the elements to make the tribute drive. The distinctive sound of the big two cylinder diesel engine was as beautiful as any symphony as the procession made the four mile trip. When Richard began farming, he bought a used John Deere G, and he always had a fondness for the "Johnny Poppers".

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thank you

Thanks all of you who posted comments, and emailed us with condolonces.

My father, Richard Fourez passed away November 14, 2006 at 8pm. His passing was peaceful, he just slipped away.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The worst kind of wait.

Tonight I am waiting for my father to die.

There is no hope, the congestive heart failure, decreasing kidney function, and diabetes have taken him to the threshold of that door we must all pass through some day. What is beyond that door? No one can know, some say there is an afterlife, and speak of heavenly rewards, or hellish punishments. Some say when we pass through that door, we just cease to be, all our hopes and dreams evaporate into nothingness, others say there is a persistence of spirit, that we may return to existence again some day. Whatever lies beyond, we cannot know until we ourselves pass through. He is in no discomfort, and is not aware of his surrounding, his passing should be peaceful.

I feel very selfish about the impending loss, he will never meet Miaya, likely the last of his grandchildren, my first and maybe only child. He was very excited about her, he knew how long and difficult a path we had traveled to reach this point, but was scared he would not live long enough to see us come home with her. Alas, his fears are about to be realized. He treasured the time he spent in Korea and Japan in the service of his country, and felt a connection to Miaya through his exposure to the asian cultures. I do not fear his loss for myself, but for my daughter who will never meet him, and will never truly know how much he loved her even though he never met her. As the oldest of his six children, the last to marry, and the last to start a family, I will be his age or older when Miaya reaches the age where she may decide to start her family. That is good incentive to be a better steward of my self in order to see her realize her happiness.

Richard Fourez was a farmer, raised six children through some lean years on the farm, served over 20 years as a high school board member, and gave all his children the opportunity to gain the education they desired. He served his country in the Air Force, achieving the rank of Staff Seargent, proud of being assigned to the Strategic Air Command. A doting grandparent, he was proud of all his grandchildren. He was never overly fond of of cats and dogs until late this spring when their house cat surprised them with a single kitten. He became focused on little Oreo, even allowing the kitten to curl up with him in bed. Unconditional love from that small cat surely helped ease his stress and calm his worries as he lay there in the dark.

I sit near the bed in the hospital room, listening to each breath, comparing it to the previous one, wondering if only silence will follow it. Though he struggled with his health the past few years, he was able to travel some, visit his children and friends, and remain as active as his condition would allow. The final decline has been mercifully swift, and I fear the end will not be far away. I find myself considering the possibility that Miaya will be born soon, and that their souls might pass in some celestial hallway, hers on the way to life, and his on it's way to what lies beyond. So, in a way, perhaps they will meet after all.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It's a little closer now

Just saw this a few minutes ago!

The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before January 31, 2006.

The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered with our office before August 25, 2005.

With our LID of 1/12/06 that means we have cleared the review process, and should soon be listed as "Pending Referral" which means we are now waiting to be matched up with the little girl who will become our Miaya! Gonna break out the good stuff tonight, finally something to celebrate.

Yeah, we've got several months to wait, but she seems just a little closer. We've not been asked for anymore information or clarifications, and that surely means that everything should be going well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another half-step forward!

"The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before December 31, 2005." --- Direct from the Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs website, September 19, 2006.

Well, we knew we were already in review, but we now know for certain that January is in the review process. Our documents were registered (Logged In) on January 12, 2006. We have been in the Review Room for about 2 months now, but with December out of the way, it feels like progress. In the next few weeks one of two things will happen, either we'll hear nothing at all until the announcement that January is out of Review, or else we will get a call from Great Wall informing us that China either wants more information, or clarification on something in our documents.

Of course, there is a third possibility; our application could be rejected.

Thats not something we care to think about. It does happen on occasion, usually for health complications of the applicants. Our documents were all carefully reviewed by our agency in Texas, and again by their office in Beijing before being submitted to the CCAA. We passed both of their internal reviews and they anticipate no problems.

But, it's good news and we're happy to have taken a half step forward in the process.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Time for a Review

Our Dossier has been in the Review Room for over a month now, according to information we have. While several families with December Log In Dates have been asked for more information or clarifications, so far I have not heard of any January families like us getting requests.

Review is the process of verifying that everything in our dossier is accurate and meets the requirements to be approved to be matched with a child. Judgement day so to speak! Our agency assures us that there are no obvious red flags, but we have to worry and wonder anyway. After clearing the review room, there are almost six months of log in dates ahead of us in the queue for the matching room.

The current pace of referrals being issued means the very real possibility that April or May is the earliest we should possibly expect to get word that we have been matched. If this is in fact the case, then we would likely be traveling in June or July of 2007. It seems such a very long time away! Very close to two years from making the decision to apply to China.

Adorable? -- most of the time, but getting really big

Thanks Yoli, for the nice comment on the last post. Nike can be quite adorable when he wants to be. He's also getting to be quite big -- we've joked that Miaya's first word when she sees him will be "Pony?". And, he's just now about a year old, and probably weighs 10 pounds or more.

We're still waiting, (sort of patiently) for the process to work its way along to it's eventual conclusion, and a positive one we hope! To help pass the time, Kim has been swapping quilt squares, hair accessories, cookie cutters and more. Most recently, she had surgery (of a feminine nature) and will no longer have to deal with problems that have plagued her most of her life. She is recovering well, and hopes to be back to near normal in a few weeks.

As part of the China adoption process, we pledge to instill in our children a sense of pride in their culture of origin, and familiarity with that culture. We were concerned with how to find the right balance between Chinese culture and assimilation; too much emphasis on the Chinese culture could eventually lead to a sense of loss and disconnection with both cultures, and too little could have a similar effect. In discussing this issue with other parents with children from China, we've learned that keeping the communications open and using the child's questions and interests to lead the discussions, while keeping things age appropriate is probably the best way to approach this.

We know the most difficult part will come when Miaya reaches the age when she will want to know the full truth behind her abandonment and and how she became ours. The hard part will be explaining that we just don't know all the circumstances and reasons behind it all, and that there is possibly no way to ever discover them.

In some quarters, there is much contention about trans-racial/trans-ethnic adoption, and the supposed trauma in can inflict on the children. Much of this is brought out by adults who were adopted from Korea during and after the war. Many of them raise valid issues regarding their experiences, but the one thing usually ignored is that they are children of a different generation. Adoption, both domestic and intercountry/interculture is more common now and viewed in a more open light. We could not hide Miaya's origins if we wanted to, it will be very obvious that she was not born of us, and we're happy about that. We don't know her details yet, but we do know she will find a home with parents who love her and only wish to see her thrive and become the best she can. We have no reason to try to erase her origins, quite the opposite, we want her to be proud of her heritage.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Latest Secret Pal gifts

Here are the latest Secret Pal Gifts we've received, (no the cat was not one of them), but he did want to be in the picture. The oh, so, cute bunny shaped lovey and the Goodnight Moon book are from one pal. The portable diaper changing pad and a neat lime green coin purse shaped like a baby sock with red lady bugs, (behind the cat) are from our other secret pal. I tried to shoo Nike away, but he was insistent on being in the picture, perhaps he's guarding our treasures!

Thanks again Secret Pals for the very thoughtful gifts.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A little longer and Godspeed!

We heard that parents adopting from Guangdong Province will have to stay 5 days longer due to a procedural change there. Now they will have to have the final adoption certificate before applying for the baby's passport. I takes 5 days to get the certificate, then another 5 days to get the passport. This pushes the total stay to around 17 days in China for those parents. An annoyance, but 5 days is a pretty small thing when looking at the reward. But. so far it only applies to Guangdong province.

While on our recent trip to Illinois, we heard about a couple near Michael's hometown who are leaving for China this week. We are very jealous, but wish them well with the trip, and that everything is good with their child.

After several days of work, most of it by Kim, we are almost ready to get to work on Miaya's room. We've got most of it worked out in our heads, and a few sketches to work from. It should go pretty fast when we really get to it. After cleaning and reorganizing the loft, we can now clear the rest of the stuff out of her room. We're building in a closet, recovering and painting the walls, and a few other touches. Plus new windows! It'll be fun when we really get going.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Missing Her So Much

How is it possible to desperately miss someone you have never met? Almost every day that passes, we think "Oh, if Miaya was here we could ........". Time is cruel that way, it steals the little moments from us when we aren't looking. Kim and I met later in life, and we sometimes think about the "lost" years we'll never have. Although, with the age difference, it's better we met a few years later! On our trip to Atlantic City, we were very aware of all the Asian girls we saw and constantly thought of Miaya.

But, I missed Kim long before I ever met her, though in a more abstract way, I knew there was someone out there for me, but had no idea how to find her. It's much more specific with Miaya, of course having the name makes her more real, but part of it is missing something you never knew you wanted. We know it's a near sure thing to get her, but there's always that chance. We think of her so much that she has become very real to us, and we are more than ready for the concept of Miaya to become the reality of Miaya. Oh, we still don't have her room ready, but we are ready emotionally and mentally for her. At least we haven't started dressing the cats in baby clothes -- yet!

The most recent batch of referrals came close to finishing June 2005, so we're officially at a 12 month wait, but it was still only about 2 weeks of log in dates in this batch, so we're losing ground with each batch. If this pace continues, we might still have 12 months to wait. Not something we want to contemplate. I guess it will happen in its own time, and there's nothing we can do to speed it up.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Back Home Again

Well, our time in Atlantic City was interesting, Kim spent time in convention sessions, I tried to catch up on some professional studying and tried to catch up on some sleep. Thursday was set aside for Agriculture related tours, we visited fisheries, clam restoration projects, a winery (Really good samples !!!), a vegetable farming operation, a cranberry farm,and ate lunch at a local seafood restaurant. That evening we went to the Cowtown Rodeo in Woodstown, New Jersey. It's actually on the professional rodeo points circuit, and has been in in operation for over 50 years. It was an interesting demonstration , but two of the performers were hurt, and one hospitalized.

Friday afternoon, the convention sessions ended early and we walked up the boardwalk, got salt water taffy to take home, and walked on up to the steel pier area. Along the way, we walked on the beach and in the surf for a while. We had supper at the Hard Rock Cafe then strolled back toward the hotel stopping in some of the tourist shops, had some ice cream along the way and really enjoyed the evening.

Packing for the trip home was interesting, we stopped at the Borders bookstore outlet near the hotel and bought several books, and that plus all the convention freebies rather filled our luggage to near bursting. The flights home were a bit bumpy at times, but the skies were clear when we landed in Des Moines. I had been worried about one thing, since the first evening in Atlantic City, I had been wondering whether I had turned off the headlights on the pickup! It was a relief to see I had pushed in the switch.

The trip was fun, we both learned a lot, but it was good to be home again.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

By the sea!

Hello from the Garden State! We're in New Jersey this week, Kim is attending the

National "Ag In The Classroom" conference in Atlantic City, and I tagged along. Kind of a vacation for us, we don't usually get to travel much. It is also serving as a "shakedown cruise " for China as we do not travel by air much at all. It looks like we need to get our packing skills sorted out! We had quite a few bags, but they were small. We had a good flight out, although getting up at 3AM to be in Des Moines in time catch a 7AM flight was a bit much. There were several others from Iowa on the plane, and we have got together some here, and we've also met people from all over the US.

Atlantic City is an interesting town, but so far we've not seen anything to bring us back again. We're not gamblers, so the casinos do not impress us. Seeing the ocean is nice, we both agreed we could sit and watch the waves for hours, something very elemental about the action and the sound. We walked through Caesars casino yesterday, and again it reminded us of a (very) bad science fiction movie as people sit in front of machines dropping in coins and pushing buttons, seemingly mesmerized by the flashing lights and spinning wheels of the slot machines. On the streets, there is a constant stream of tour buses bringing in more sheep to be sheared at the casinos. Sandwiched in between the big casinos are the delightfully tacky little tourist traps that are the heart and soul of a resort city like this. Some are clean nice looking shops and others are quite worn looking with tired looking merchandise as well. We took a walk down to the boardwalk about 1/2 mile from the hotel.

We all have an image on New Jersey as being one big suburb, but in fact the southern portion has a lot of farmland, as well as several large forested areas. This was quite obvious on the flight into AtlanticCity.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Shared misery is diminished!

We went to St. Joseph, MO yesterday to meet with Gary and Sophie from near Topeka, Kansas. They are also adopting from China through Great Wall China Adoptions and our log in dates are close enough that we may be traveling together to get our daughters. Very nice people, we had a great time over lunch at Houlihan's.

It's amazing how sharing our frustrations and worries helped to improve our outlooks and attitudes! I think we all came away feeling better and more optimistic.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Adventures of Chou Chou Shu

Try this link for fun and enjoy The Adventures Of Chou Chou Shu (aka Stinky Mouse).

It's fun and a real hoot to see Chou Chou Shu and his friend Monkey explore their world, meet new friends and have adventures with their favorite boy, Hui Hui.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Time does fly ... sometimes

But only in the fact that I've not been keeping up on my blogging. I've been busy with work, the farm, and just generally trying to keep ahead of all the little nuisances like the mowing the yard. The grass has really been growing the last few weeks and it's hard to keep up with it. We're just about done calving, only a couple of cows left to go. The twins are doing well, and thriving.

The last news we got has our dossier "pending review", which apparently means we have passed though the translation process without any questions, and now we're sitting on the shelf with several thousand other people waiting for the review process to begin. Review is where they will examine our paperwork to make sure it meets all the requirements and everything is in order. After passing through Review, we would go back on another shelf to wait our turn in the "Matching Room" where applicants are matched with a child. At this point, given the slower pace of referrals, we are still hopeful of a December referral, but more realistically looking for a January of February referral. And, even then, it would require the pace of issuing referrals to increase.

The slowdown in referrals has everyone constantly looking for news that might affect future referral times. Think back to when you were a young child on a long car trip, the question "When will we get there?" seldom got a reply that made sense. It's kind of like that.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Still waiting

We're still waiting, no real hope of any thing for many months yet. At the last update, our dossier has finished translation, and is "pending review". There are at least 9 LID dates from our agency ahead of us, at least two months worth. But then we could be in the review process for several weeks, and then if there are no problems, we would go back on the shelf for several more months waiting to be matched with a child.

The only real action we might see would be if the Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs would want a clarification or additional information concerning something in our Dossier. This would show up during the review process. On the US end, our pre-approval from Immigration is good for 18 months, and our fingerprint check is good for 15 months, so it is possible we might need to be fingerprinted again.

We're just trying to keep busy with our normal lives, and trying not to go slowly mad with the waiting. Kim has been busy exchanging quilt material with other waiting parents, has several secret pals, and other projects to keep her mind occupied. I've been up to my usual activities, getting my crop in, and working for the fertilizer company. We've had a relatively early spring this year, so we are somewhat ahead of normal, but we've had some rains recently which have delayed us some, and there is a lot of work to be done.

We lost a cow and calf a few days ago, without going into the gory details, she had problems in the birth process, and we were unable to save her. On the bright side, we had a set of twin calves last night, and both have survived so far. It was an assisted birth, they were coming back feet first and tangled up. I was surprised to get one live calf, let alone two.

Maybe a "paper pregnancy" is easier on the body, but it's tough on the psyche, not knowing the "due date" makes it really rough, can't make long term plans like you can with a physical pregnancy, as you pretty much know when to expect the arrival. Oh well, we are doing our best to keep our spirits up, and try to be optimistic. I expect we'll start on Miaya's room this summer, that will keep us busy, but will probably make us miss her more. It's surprising how much you can miss someone you've never met.

Optimistically, we could hope for a referral in November/December, but I suspect it will probably be more like January or February 2007, and traveling to China 6 to 8 weeks later.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Show us your.......beads!

We saw a documentary about Mardi Gras beads the other night on television, it focused on the young women and men in China who work long hours in factories for low pay to make these baubles. Many of them are young women and girls sent to work in the factories to help support their families, living in factory dormitories and have very restricted lives.

They were quite amused and a bit shocked at the drunken antics of the revelers in New Orleans. Flashing bare breasts or genitals in exchange for "ugly" beads seemed quite strange to these young women. It was not a flattering picture of America. The film's producers also showed people at Mardi Gras some of the footage of the girls at work in the factories, and many felt quite ashamed at what the beads now symbolized to them. Now, if they just remembered that when they sobered up. After watching most of the documentary Kim said "We've got to get Miaya NOW, she can't grow up to that kind of life".

What's brown and looks like an envelope?

Ok, it's a Brown Envelope, guess that was too easy! We got our "Brown Envelope" last week, it is originated by the American Consulate in Guangzhou, China and confirms that our information has ben transferred there from our local Citizenship and Immigration Service office. It also includes a packet of forms to be completed when we are in China to be united with Miaya. In and of itself, it means nothing, as the forms can be acquired in China, and many families never get the packet. However, it is another sign that the process is progressing, another milestone to mark off the list.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

We got a baby.................calf!

We got our first calf last week, he was born on a cold but sunny day, and was a little slow in coming around, so we had to warm him in the hotbox at Kim's dad's place. A bottle of newborn booster milk, some heat and he was ready to go. He's about a week old now, and doing quite well, running and jumping like he has springs on his feet. We've been calling him Buster, it seems like the frst calf we get each year gets that name, so we'll keep up the tradition.

Like babies of all kinds, calves can be frustrating, two can be born in similar circumstances, and one will thrive and one will struggle to live, or perish. The calf is the "harvest" for a cattleman, and to lose one is to lose a portion of the crop for the year. Even so, dealing with a weak calf can be a struggle, you never really know if what you're doing will work, and if you have it in a warming box, you can't keep it away from it's mother too long or she might not claim (bond with) him/her.

Calving time is wonderful though, seeing the newborns stuggle to their feet and take a few hesitant steps over to mama to look for that first drink of milk. Then just a couple of days later, they're running and jumping around like its really easy.

Springtime is full of wonders on the farm, seeing the grass green up, the flowers poking up, the new calves romping in the pasture, all bring home the sense of renewal that comes this time of year. Soon we will also be getting new kittens (as if we don't have enough cats already) and they're so much fun to watch, their little tails sticking straight up as they follow mama around and begin to explore the world. Jumping, pouncing and ambushing each other, they almost seem to be playfulness embodied.

Soon it wil be planting time and the beginning of another cycle, one that traces back to man's humblest beginnings as farmers, placing seed in the ground and hoping and praying for a bountiful harvest. We farmers are always so optimistic and full of hope this time of year, when everything is possible and the hot, scorching, dry days of summer seem so far away. Yes, spring is a wonderful time!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

You have a duty to .....................

A couple of weeks or so ago, we went to see a high school production of the musical Cinderella, we knew several of the students appearing in the production, and wanted to wish them well. One is the girlfriend of our nephew, and without bias, I can say she played her part with gusto and skill, staying in character as one of the stepsisters whether she was up front or not.

The lovely young woman who played Cinderella stole our hearts with her talented performance. She played the part to perfection, at least to my unsophisticated eyes, her singing voice well trained, her stage presence and acting skills remarkably well developed for one of her age and experience. It was an experience I'll long remember and perhaps one day I'll be able to say "I knew her when..........."

Occasionally in our lives we meet someone with a talent that makes you want to tell them they have a duty to share that talent with the world. I'm not sure if I've ever had that experience before, but it is a delightful experience indeed. For one such as myself who has no real talent in the performing arts, it would seem a shame if such a talent were to remain unknown. I love to sing, but have no sense of pitch, I would like to play the guitar or piano, but my lack of rhythm and manual dexterity is also a hindrance. Kim and I have taken ballroom dance lessons which we enjoyed, but I have a difficulty finding the beat in the music.

Perhaps it's a good thing that I have been a farmer working alone most of the time, that way I can sing along to the radio in the tractor or combine without inflicting pain on those around me. It's something I really love, but without even a modicum of talent, it's frustrating. Kim tells me that if I 'd taken chorus in high school, I would be better. Perhaps, but it still requires some basic ability. That's the one redeeming thing about American Idol, I have seen several people with even less ability than myself!

I wonder about Miaya, will she have a talent and a passion for something? If so, I will be there to support her and encourage her if it's something she wants to pursue. To me that's the important thing, if you don't enjoy it, why bother? I'm often baffled by people who become obsessed with certain activities, in particular with sports. Ok, my family was not big on sports, so maybe that's why I feel this way. To see parents living sports fantasies through their children is a very sad thing. Especially when the child is only there because to give in to the parental wishes. The high school champion who still clings to that brief moment years later becomes a sad example of someone who's identity was defined by those few brief moments and was unable to rise above them as they were never given the skills to move on to other things.

What causes people to become so obsessed with a sport that they memorize thousands of trivial facts about games played long before they were born. Someone who can recite the roster of the every Yankees team and all their statistics is looked up to as an expert, while the poor fellow who is obsessed with a fictional universe is ostracized as a freakish nerd. What is lacking in our society that people feel the need to identify with a group, even an artificial group of grown men who are paid obscene amounts of money to "play" a child's game. Especially when those who command the highest salary often seem to be the most lacking in sportsmanship, and are celebrated for their scandalous actions both on and off the playing surface.

We'll give Miaya the opportunity to participate in sports for the positive aspects of learning teamwork and cooperation, and the sense of fair play and sportsmanship. But we want her to also experience music and literature and all the richness the world has to offer. I pledge to never push her to do something just for my benefit.

We face the raising of Miaya with certain trepidations and doubts, and opinions on what to do that will probably be wrong in many instances, but hopefully we'll learn from our mistakes and not mess her up too badly. Perhaps we've learned from watching the parenting mistakes of others and will not repeat them.

We all must make compromises in life, and I hope when Miaya comes to those decision points in life, she chooses wisely and well. I spoke of a sense of duty earlier, and that can mean many things, but I feel it also means living up to your potential, using your talents and abilities whatever they may be to the fullest. We hope to give her the tools to live a life rich in experiences and full of satisfaction in her accomplishments.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Thoughts about waiting for Miaya

This was originally a reply to a post on a Yahoo group we belong to that I wrotewhen I could not get back to sleep one night. I felt very good about it so I reposted it here.

I heartily agree, the waiting gets really bad some days, but I know it is all for a reason. And, I cannot fault the CCAA too much, after all they are entrusting us with children. So it's good they try to be as thorough as possible. Yes, we would like to have Miaya home sooner rather than later, but again, I have to believe there's a reason.

I've been a farmer all my life, and we become accustomed to waiting, we plant seeds in the spring and must wait for fall to harvest the bounty, we plant wheat in the fall and must wait till the next summer to harvest. We breed a cow and must wait nine months for the calf to arrive. Some of us plant fruit, nut or other trees and must wait for years or even decades for the harvest to arrive. There are cycles in life that must run their course and I feel that applies here as well, every thing will happen in it's proper time.

Kim and I were both older than many when we met and married, and we soon decided to begin our family. We were very excited at first as we thought it was happening, but alas it was not to be that easy. We went to a clinic where we lived in Illinois at the time to no avail. After moving to Iowa near Kim's parents, we put things on hold for a couple of years, then began in earnest with a clinic in Omaha. Things looked possible, but in the end nothing was successful. Last summer we made the decision to suspend those attempts and focus on adoption instead. China emerged as our favorite choice for many reasons, and we began the process.

Though we endured many years alone before we found each other, when we did meet, it felt like all the alone time had been for a reason so we could find each other. We feel the same way about Miaya, and the time we must wait for her. We will get her when the time is right, and we and she are ready to be together. Yeah, the waiting part really sucks swamp scum, but we'll get through it and we'll get Miaya when the time is right. The key seems to keep busy and not think about it too much. And, it's mainly just about the wait, after all, it's a near certain
thing this way versus the uncertainty we faced with the infertility path.

Thinking calming thoughts in Iowa,


Monday, March 20, 2006


For the second day of spring, this sure looks a lot like winter. We're supposed to be getting up to 6 inches of snow tonight, with strong winds so it will be blowing and drifting. Kim's already gotten the call for a two hour late start at school.

(Tuesday morning) And it's off! School that is, Kim got the call this morning, no school today, the snow is pretty intense yet, but should taper off soon.

After all the warm mild weather this winter to have snow on the second day of spring seems a bit much. But then, we didn't have much of a winter this year, mostly just chilly nights and warm days. Although about 30 seconds after the last flake landed, the snow began to melt, and a lot of the grass was peeking through by evening. There were quite a few tulips poking through the ground, and the irises have begun growing, but even though there's snow, the temperature is not cold enough to damage the flowers.

On the good side, we didn't spend a lot on heat this year!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Miaya's First New Dress

Miaya got her first fancy dress tonight! Michael's parents have been visiting for a couple of days, and they brought Kassondra(age 11), another grandaughter along with them. All the way out from Illinois, Kassondra kept wanting to stop and get a present for Miaya. On Sunday afternoon, they dropped grandpa off at the motel, and went to WalMart. Kassondra found the baby section, and picked out the cutest fancy dress for Miaya. At supper that night, she gave Kim a gift bag with a tag that read: To Miaya From Kassondra.

Kassondra's not the only one of our nieces who's impatient for Miaya to get here. Kim's niece Ciara is very eager to see her, and has been babysitting other kids in the neighbor hood to get experience so she will be "qualified" to look after Miaya.

It was nice to see how excited my mother is about Miaya. I'm the oldest child, last to marry, and last to start a family, perhaps that is part of it. But she knows how long we have tried, and all the disappointments we've suffered. It's only natural to be happy when your child's life is getting better. It is getting better, I know Miaya will be a challenge to both of us, both physically and the changes in our lifestyle. But we wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Still hanging in there

I guess I haven't been keeping up on my posting lately, I've been rather busy and distracted with other things. This week I've been at training for one of my other jobs, it's been pretty good other than being cooped up during some pretty nice weather. Very nice for Iowa on the first of March.

The company took us out to a racetrack/casino for supper tonight, good meal and enjoyed the view over the track. It was really weird walking through the casino though, kind of eerie in fact. The sight made me think of a bad science fiction movie, all the people mesmerized by the machines they sit in front of pushing buttons and dropping coins into them in hopes of some reward. For something that's advertised as fun, less than one in a hundred showed any kind of emotion at all. Most just had blank looks on their faces.

Well that's all I going to say about that. We've been getting quite a few postcards and quilt squares from people on the various adoption groups, it really does help to make the time pass quicker. At six weeks plus into our paper pregnancy we're holdingup well, some days are a little difficult, but they pass. We decided we're not going to get to carried away by worrying about things we can't change, and to just let the time pass as it will. The hard part is not knowing when it will come to term!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Mighty Thin Stew

"That's an awful lot of stew from one small oyster!"

The WAIT. I try not to think about it as much as possible. But it's kind of like that annoying mosquito that won't go away, and you can never quite manage to swat it. It just buzzes and whines around your ear and darts past your eye. This time of year when not hauling grain or checking on cows or working at my second job, I'm often working in the office, trying to get my taxes ready to file, and getting my farm budgets organized. But, this year, I suddenly find myself checking the discussion boards for the latest rumor. I am mostly amused at the speculations and theories, but it's a kind of morbid curiosity. A bit like watching a slow motion train wreck! I keep remembering the phrase "that's an awful lot of stew from one oyster". We're all guilty of it, seizing on any theory to try to forecast our referral time, adding endless speculations on dividing or combining months or weeks of log in dates. It's about as meaningful as trying to pick lottery numbers by watching raindrops on a puddle.

I do it myself, "Well, if it's 9 months, then that would probably be September or October referral, then we'd be traveling etc. etc. etc." and so on ad infinitum. I suspect a bit of madness lies in wait along that road. After nearly 10 years of marriage and many disappointments in trying for a baby the old (and new) fashioned ways, the near-certainty of this approach is comforting compared to the odds we faced medically.

At about LID+25 days, referral time is far enough away to be more of a concept than a reality so that helps a bit, but after 10 years of waiting I am both impatient to get Miaya home, and also not that concerned about a couple extra months (right now anyway). And, I'm more than a bit scared about dealing with the reality of Miaya, as she will be our first and likely our only child. Time really does fly by if you ignore it well enough; last week I tried to put April 2005 on a check I was writing.

Last night we were at a high school basketball game watching our nephews play, (on the same team luckily), when Kim said "Look, they've got a Miaya", one of the cheerleaders from the other school appeared to be of Chinese descent. We both spent a lot of time wondering when Miaya would be that age and would she be playing ball or leading cheers? Or, have other interests altogether. Whatever she chooses is fine with me, as long as it's something she enjoys. Kim and I both get a funny feeling whenever we say my/our daughter. Something we've waited long enough to say that it sounds a bit surreal.

I'm always afraid of sounding like an old coot when I say it, but my family didn't have a lot when I was young. Oh, there were a lot of families with far less that we had, but money was often tight, and I remember learning that things that come easy are often not appreciated. The toy we thought we just had to have didn't seem so important a few days or weeks later when we saw it again in the store. I don't always manage to abide by that, but I do now appreciate that something you have to work hard for is held dearer. Perhaps that's why we've had to wait so long, and follow such a winding road to "Finding Miaya", we were just not ready to truly appreciate the gift she will be.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Once upon a time.....

Once upon a time there was a lonely farmer in Illinois, and a lonely schoolteacher in Iowa. By coincidence, they decided to take a chance on finding a partner to share their lives, and in turn found each other.

It was fairly simple, compose a listing in 25 words or less, include a check for $12, and mail it by February 14, 1995 ( clever closing date!) then sit back and wait for the book to arrive.

I guess you could say I picked Kim out of a catalog! (She always punches me when I say that) Actually it was the "Rural Singles Directory" published by Farm Journal magazine in 1995. Ten years before, they had published a similar directory and were still getting requests for it, so they decided to do it again. Afterwards, the editor said "Never again!".

When it arrived in late May that year, over 3000 lonely rural men and women had taken a chance and put themselves out there. Looking at the dividing line between men and women, the ladies were outnumbered about 4 to 1, so it was time to get busy. Kim's listing was intriguing, and I wrote her a letter, she wrote back and after we exchanged a few letters, I called her and we talked for four hours. A week or so later we talked on the phone for 6 hours and 24 minutes (we still have the bill to prove it!). More time on the phone and it was time to meet. Using a business trip to Des Moines as an excuse (my family knew nothing about her), I met Kim at her home in Osceola, Iowa, spent a couple of days with her, and knew she was very special.

I visited her again in mid-September, then in October she flew to Illinois for the weekend. I made arrangements for her to stay with my brother and his wife. The puddle-jumper flight was delayed by a thunderstorm, and it was after midnight when we arrived at their house. After some conversation and introductions, I showed her up to the spare room where there was a rose on her pillow with a ring on the stem. Luckily as it was after midnight it was actually October 14 when we were engaged. Did I mention her flight out was on Friday the 13th?

We sent a note to the editor of the Farm Journal thanking them for the opportunity they gave us, and to let them know they had at least one success story. They asked us to each write about our experience, and they used parts of our letters in an article. This led to the slightly bizarre and surreal experience of my coming home one evening to find a message on the recorder from a producer at Good Morning America wanting to talk with us about our story, and possibly to be on the show!!!!! Unfortunately, they decided to use another couple who met the same way and were getting married sooner, but then a big news event knocked the whole thing out of the lineup. We were interiewed over the phone by a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer for a feature article. This story went out on the news wire and we received several clippings from around the country.

We'll soon have been married 10 years, sometimes it seems forever, and others it seems like yesterday.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Is it really January?

We have to remind ourselves that it's really January here in SW Iowa. We have had temperatures in the 50's (fahrenheit) this week, not really the kind of weather we usually get! It should be about 35 degrees colder that this. Michael has been working for UAP all week hauling fertilizer to the spreaders, and a few miles south of here, farmers have been busy in the fields applying nitrogen fertilizer and some tillage has been done. Shirtsleeve weather in January is pretty unheard of. Recently the the temperature was exactly 100 degrees warmer than the all time Iowa low of -49 F set many years ago on the same date.