Friday, January 23, 2009

Hooray...a quick post

Finally, as of about 7 pm last night, my laptop is FIXED! Long story short, original tech guy was fired for not only not showing up to his appointments for the last week, but for keeping the parts and then filing reports that he had done the work and fixed the computers. New lady tech came last night and repaired and then double-checked everything.

More to post later, adoption-wise, but I did want to post a more positive post than last time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Ok, I don't like to do angry posts, but this is what has eaten up a huge amount of time lately.

A few weeks ago, the screen on my laptop started acting funky. When I turned on my computer, the screen wouldn't always come on.

I backed up EVERYTHING (including all the new pictures I had been organizing) and started contacting Dell. Eventually, about a week and 1/2 later (and several LONG conversations later), a tech guy came to replace my screen. He looked at my laptop and said, "you know, there are several things that are wrong with your laptop that need to be replaced." Like the keyboard. And the mousepad. And the frame around the screen that's broken.

I contacted Dell again. I had to talk to 2 different people to get them convinced that I really needed the parts. This was over 2 weeks ago. They ordered the parts. They then lost the parts. Finally, last week, they reordered the parts and the tech guy was supposed to come and to the repairs. This was Friday.

He called and said he would be here Friday at 9:30. He never showed. At all. No phone calls, nothing. I started calling at about 1:00 Friday afternoon and basically was told that they were trying to find him, but that he wasn't answering his phone. Nothing Saturday. Yesterday I called again, and they said they'd check. They then said that he had tried to call me that day. No dice---I was home all day, working on stuff at home.

The tech guy called this morning at 9:15 and said he would be at my house in about 45 minutes. As of right now (it's around 4:00) I have yet to see him or hear from him again. I've called and talked to numerous people at Dell and at the service provider. They have now reordered the parts (for a 3rd time) and are supposed to have a different tech guy call me tomorrow.

AAARRGH! Is there a good reason why this is so difficult?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to make 16 weeks fit into 8...

The answer is....not pretty.

Ok, I'll clue you in on what's up. Last year I taught my first online course for Drury University. It was an "eye opening" experience, to say the least. I taught "Women in European History" which is a 300-level, or Junior-level course. First time teaching the course and first time teaching online. I had some amazing students, and some who were just "there" to get a credit (when I was teaching High School, we called them air suckers). Under the university's requirements, they had to write 20-pages (including a 10-page research paper), along with the weekly discussions, and they had to learn how to use Chicago Style for citing their research. Some of them didn't know how to use the word processing programs. Two students plagiarized their major papers. But, we made it through.

Back in the fall, I was asked if I would teach the class again this coming semester. I said yes, not realizing that the University online school had changed it from a regular 16-week course to a 8-week course. So...this weekend I've been trying to figure out how to fit 16 weeks worth of material into 8 weeks. In the process, I've ditched the research paper (they just don't have time to do this in 8 weeks) and replaced it with several short papers. I've restructured the class, changed the reading requirements, and feel like it's really a completely new class. They're going to be busy with all the reading and writing, and I'm going to be busy grading it all on time. I have to admit, I'm already exhausted by the whole process!

I also have to admit that my Christmas tree is still up! The decorations are off, but there, right in front of where I sit, is my empty, naked tree. In part, this is because it has to be hauled to the storage unit which is about 10 blocks away...and it has been way too cold here to do that. But in part, I am just feeling school, by adoption paperwork, by freinds and family, and by everything except putting away Christmas decorations. I'm hoping that now the school stuff is ready to go for Wednesday when class starts that I will feel like doing this tomorrow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Time Out!

Sorry that I've been out of touch for awhile...there hasn't been much on the adoption front that's new, and I've been gone for a large part of the last two weeks. Last week we celebrated my birthday (and Elvis' birthday) by going away for a couple of days. We hadn't been able to have any real, just the two of us time, for awhile, and it was nice just to get away and spend time time talking and reading and shopping and eating and sleeping! We met our friends Annette and Mark in Warrensburg for dinner on my birthday (it's Annette's too--we're birthday twins!) and then went on into Kansas City for a couple of days. The "highlight" was our funny dinner at an old Greek restaurant. Great food, but the "entertainment" was so odd...their "band" was two older guys--one who played the electric guitar and the other who looked like a cross between Santa and Jack Sparrow and who played the trumpet/flugelhorn. The highlight was when he pulled out a conch shell and played "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess. Not what you'd expect in a Greek restaurant!!

This week I ran the other Saint Louis. I had to go there to get the stand mixer fixed, and while there I got my hair cut (for a curly girl, this is a BIG deal...I've had a really hard time finding someone to cut my hair, and Katie in St. Louis does an awesome job. Yes, I feel a bit weird driving 3 hours to get my hair cut, but it gets cut so infrequently that it's not a big deal, and also an excuse to run away.) I also got to experience Whole Foods Market for the first time, and that was really fun.

From St. Louis, I drove down to my parent's house, and spent a night with them. They had tickets to the Mizzou-Colorado basketball game, so we made the journey to Columbia to watch Mizzou play a really good game. I drove home late last night so that I could be here this morning to meet the Dell repair guy who is supposed to be coming to fix my laptop...and, now 4 hours + later, he's still not here!

All of this running around lately has been because my vacation is soon coming to an end. Classes start on Wednesday for me, and this semester I'll be teaching online. I have mixed feelings about is definitely more flexible and makes the course available to more people, but it's also more grading and most of all I miss the interaction with students in a classroom. This weekend is going to be getting everything finalized to go on Wednesday.

One last bit of good news...just heard that the draft of our Homestudy is ready to be submitted to our agency and to the homestudy agency for, maybe by next week all of our paperwork will be ready to GO! (All of our other stuff is already waiting and ready to be sent off!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas Preparation and!

Just wanted to share some pictures from the Christmas season with you all. My friend Izzie came to visit about a week before Christmas and helped make gingerbread cookies. Here are her infamous "poo" cookies! Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like gnomes and poo!

And we can't forget decorating the Christmas tree! Actually, the tree was up for at least a week before we put the decorations on...and our new additions thought that it was a big old Christmas gift for them. In the end, I bought some inexpensive, UNBREAKABLE ornaments to replace the "living" ornaments:

While I didn't post much on my blog, I did check in on everyone during that time...and other members of the family did, too...

We spent Christmas day at my sister's house with her family and my parents. We had some card sharking going on, along with just enjoying being together:

Christmas Eve was the Christmas pageant at the church...the pageant was adorable, and, as you can see, Max the cow really stole the show:

Adoption Paperwork Update--updated!

Can I just say that switching agencies and having to have our home study redone has been crazy? We would have had to redo/update our home study anyway in October, but when we left our old agency, we really wanted to keep our social worker, and asked if she could redo the home study but through a different agency. Since she is licensed through another agency in our state, this part wasn't a problem--well, it was a minimal problem. We had to call and ask our old agency to release our confidential information, and, because there was a misunderstanding between the coordinator at our old agency and the social worker, we spent about 2 days thinking that they weren't going to let her have any of our information. After several hours of panic, anger, and frustration at our old agency (again--it was their misunderstanding), that got worked out and we were able to move on.

The biggest hitch with the re-write is that the new agency that is overseeing our new homestudy is Hague-compliant---and even though Russia doesn't require it, we still have to meet all those hurdles. That has meant more background checks (in every state that we have lived in since we were 20 years old!), the online education requirement, a fingerprint check through the state and national registry...all things that have taken more time. We're still waiting on one of the background checks for when Steve was in college and working as a youth director in Alabama, and for some reason the MO Hwy patrol didn't know where our fingerprints were as of last week. Hopefully, this will get quickly resolved now that we're in the new year. We had the tracking number for the fingerprints, and were able to pass them along to our social worker when she asked for them earlier this week. Strangely, I'm not as stressed out by all this as I would have been last year...I have a stronger sense that this will all get worked out, in God's time, when it needs to be. That is a very good feeling.

We have, as of last night, completed all the stuff that we needed to do for the homestudy--we finished the online education classes last night. Can I just say that they are depressing? I do understand the need to have people understand the "this might happen, and you need to be prepared for the worst" scenario, but really...could there be some positive reinforcement or some "this could happen in a good way" in these classes? Those of you who have taken them, did you feel this way?

The only things that we still need to complete for the dossier are the couple of documents that have to match the wording in the homestudy--I'm waiting on the homestudy to be all done before getting them printed. The dossier this time has been a breeze compared with our old agency--much more straight-forward, and incredibly helped by Karyn's templates and quick and clear answers from C at the agency. Once those documents are done, it can all be notarized and apostilled. Luckily, I don't have to mail all the documents anywhere or drive them across the state. I did that last time--drove everything to Jefferson City and waited for about an hour for the apostilles, only to find out, at the end, that I could have taken them about 20 minutes away to downtown Springfield and had the same thing done! Thankfully, I was able to extend the trip into a visit with my parents, so it wasn't a waste at all. I'm hopeful that all will be done and mailed off to the agency in the next couple of weeks. The new blog layout is part of this "hopeful" and "new phase" mentality--I hope that you all like it!

So...we begin 2009 with paperwork...but in a good way, I feel. Perhaps our cats will be able to help in translation tasks--they love to hang out in the Russian dictionary shelf of my office ! Thanks to all of you for your love and support, and best wishes on this second day of the year!

**Update---I just found out that our fingerprints have been found---the state Hwy Patrol has been running behind for some reason, and they should be in our social worker's hands in 2 weeks. It's frustrating to have the hold up, but at least we don't have to completely redo them!