Friday, August 31, 2007

Anger Management Needed Here

Here is my denial statement from USCIS regarding the free extension of the I-600A........
August 23, 2007
Your free extension request to Form I-600A was received on August 13, 2007. Your I-600A was approved on January 13, 2006. Your I-600A approval expired on July 13, 2007. Prospective adoptive parents can request a no charge extension to any Form I-600-A filed on or after July 30, 2007. The extension is also available for any Form I-600A that has already been approved, provided that the approval expires on or after July 30, 2007. No extension is available in any case in which the Form I-600A expires before July 30, 2007. Because the final fee rule did not take effect until July 30, 2007, your free extension request is denied. A new I-600A with approproate fees would need to be filed.
Since we have a few items in our future which cannot be re-scheduled, we're now holding out on doing the whole re-fringerprinting dance just in case we can't make the doesn't seem to be a time sensitive issue anyway, given our extended wait for referral. I could spit bullets..................

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why 'Joanna Mei'

Joanna - Be's sister, Joanne, lives in Northern California. Although we don't get to see her that often, there will always be the connection in her name.

Joanna - (Please open your bibles to Luke, Chapter 24, Verses 9 through 12) When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, (the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household) Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
For me, Joanna was a person of incredible faith and boldness. In those days, she risked her life for her faith in proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus.

Joanna - an incredibly passionate song of unrequited love from the Stephen Sondheim musical "Sweeny Todd"

Mei - Be's mom's name was Marie and her family called her Mae. We chose the Chinese sound-alike Mei in her honor. Mei in Chinese means pretty/beautiful.

Monday, August 27, 2007

***Update*** "As Good As It Gets" & "Frozen Stupid"


***Looks like we get the checkbook out again***

After the saga described below, we received notification from USCIS that our fee waiver was denied. Apparently, anyone applying initially for their I-600A are granted a fee waiver -if- the paperwork begins on or after July 30, 2007 - so those already in the process are subject to the renewal fee for both the orphan petition and re-fingerprinting. This is lousy - way too many fees.

In a document issued August 6, 2007, USCIS announced 1 free extension of both the Orphan Petition and fingerprinting requirements ....... see the following ......

So, Ive been putting off the renewal of these documents as the waiting time for referral turns into a new brand of Chinese torture - there is no need to re-do them just yet, and I'll have the $800+ in renewal fees a little further on down the line. I pull up the above info on the internet yesterday, and rejoice in the fee waivers. I put together all the docs, drive by my agency for a copy of the updated home study (nice to have my agency 7 miles from my home) and with completed docs in hand, I drive them to the USCIS office (12 miles away in heavy traffic - heat index - 103 degrees - please, God, don't let my a/c break down) as my current documents will expire Monday, August 13.

I get to the USCIS office and "Char" (complete with ball-bearing tongue piercing) tells me "Oh, those documents need to be mailed in." I stood there momentarily frozen stupid.

"Char. You must appreciate how silly this sounds to me. So, I cannot give you the same documents today, that the post person will deliver tomorrow?"

"Those documents need to be mailed in."

"Char. When the mail person arrives tomorrow with my documents, will YOU be signing for them?"


At this point, I thought I should just shut my cake hole and leave because Char could really screw up the process. After complimenting myself on having the presence of mind not to blow up, I went out into the 103 degree heat and started to see those planaria & paramecium looking creatures in my eyes and thought my head was going to explode off my pencil neck. For 21 years, I worked a freak show at an airline ticket counter and NEVER heard anything so extraordinary. How friggin' absurd!@#! I dared not drive, I was so incensed! As I waited for the air conditioning to cool things down a little, I punched the headliner of the cab, said "Argh!" repeatedly and thought my head would do complete revolutions.

Composure regained, I ventured out onto the road to the main post office - 1 friggin' mile up the same street! I filled out the express mail label and the receipt for registered mail and brought the goodies up to the postal worker. When he saw the address, he says "Don't tell me.... You brought these documents to the USCIS to deliver them personally and the girl told you that they have to be mailed in, right?"


"Don't worry. We'll run them up the road in the morning. That'll be $18, please."


........and so.......we merrily skip down the pathway to adoption......

Friday, August 24, 2007

16 Going on 17

17 Months
since our

Paper Chase

began in April, 2005

with our initial agency informational meeting.

A thought for a LID Anniversary ........ if we treat the LID Anniversary like a birthday and ignore it, does the referral creep up on us any faster?

....and so, we merrily skip down the Adoption path.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Whenever I came in from work, I'd empty out the coins in my pockets and put them in a bag in the laundry room - 3 years later, I was looking at close to $400.00 - and I could sacrifice 10% for a counting fee at the local Albertson's - or - take the total in the form of a gift certificate from several online outlets (without counting fee), one of them I've been using Amazon when they have the best price on an item (many times, they do) and I take advantage of the free shipping for orders over $25.00. Several friends have given us adoption themed books for Joanna Mei and I was looking to expand the collection. I bought the following literary masterpieces and share the Amazon product descriptions here - I've read them all by myself but I REALLY like the pictures!!!

In Ten Little Ladybugs, one by one, ten tactile bugs disappear. Where did they all go? Young ones will love finding this out as they feel their way through the sturdy, colorful pages of this innovative book. The cute critters provide a hands-on learning experience and the rhyming text reinforces the counting concept. Interactive, educational, adorable - this magical countdown book adds up to a whole lot of fun. See why over 800,000 have been sold to date!
WARNING: Choking hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3 years. (Looks like HOMEDADDY monitors the use of this one....)

Shaoey and Dot help children conquer their fear of the dark.
When the lights go out one stormy night, Shaoey becomes frightened. Dot, her little ladybug friend, humorously explains that there are some things to be scared of-like if there's an elephant in the bunk bed above you or if you're with a bunch of monkeys and only have one banana. But, as Dot tells Shaoey, dark is just a place with the lights off, and God is in the dark just like everywhere else.
A Thunder and Lightning Bug Story, with adorable characters illustrated by Jim Chapman, was written from the experience of Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman and is sure to comfort any little one who is hesitant to turn out the lights.
It's Christmas Eve morning at Shaoey's house, and Dot, the ladybug, is all aflutter. But when the excited little girlbug goes to wake her human friend, she realizes that something is not quite right. Shaoey's cheeks are bright red and her forehead is too hot to set foot on! Shaoey can't be sick! There's too much to do! Never to give up, the determined little bug slips on her red Christmas boots and heads out to pick up all of the required elements to make a happy Christmas for her friend. Yet, when the frustrated Dot returns, a little miracle teaches them all that sprinkled cookies and big presents--however nice--are not what truly makes Christmas special. This endearing story, from Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, is a wonderful reminder of the miraculous love that makes every Christmas a special one.

Shaoey & Dot: Bug Meets Bundle is an endearing tale told from the point of view of one little ladybug, Dot, who happens upon a mysterious bundle one sunny day. Dot stays with the little bundle as she is carried to the place "where babies come to be found" and promises to stay with the little one throughout her journeys toward getting a family. Written by Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth, this heartwarming tale is inspired by the true story of their adoption of three little girls from China and is a story of hope and faith for all families who have been blessed by a "lost little bundle of love."

The Chapmans were instrumental in our adoption decision through their "Shaohannah's Hope" ministry program.

See our post when we met SCC, ever so briefly after a performance of the Christmas Candlelight at EPCOT, and told him of our decision - this Christmas, it will have been 2 years ........

Monday, August 20, 2007

Donni Boi Goes Home

Blogdom was in a state of shock ....... local supporters and prayer warriors froze at the news ..... Donni Boi was axed by the talent nazis at the callback ....... yes, the moxy AARP crooner retreated to his Ford Ranger truck and woofed down his ham and cheese sandwich (which he had prepared the night before) after receiving the news that he would NOT be a part of the 8 lead singers at the Disney Candlelight Christmas Processional this year ..... the world gasped a collective "Oy!" at the news.....
Thanks to all who prayed and offered their words of encouragement ...... I did not make the cut at today's callbacks .... the 15 or so guys who made the first set of call backs posessed great sets of pipes for the baritone parts - I had the pleasure of listening to each of them sing before I did my solo and was flattered that the Disney organization had grouped me in the same class as these guys - all of them many years my junior - a disappointment ....but .... well, I don't know what the 'but' is yet ... I'll figure it out when it happens.
The Christmas Candlelight Processional is a GREAT event and is the ONE time of the year that Disney allows a retelling of the true, historically correct story of Christmas. If anyone in blogville has the opportunity to experience this incredible performance at EPCOT, DO IT!!! ...... I'll be there several times this Christmas season. Let's meet up ........
.........and so, we merrily skip down the adoption pathway.......

Friday, August 17, 2007

"The Cattle Call" - I Made the First Cut

Well, I survived the first cut at the Disney auditions today - I'm jazzed. The audition was in a "cattle call" format, where the show producers advertise for vocalists and briefly describe what they're looking for. Based on their information, I chose 3 songs - "Oklahoma" (a lighter tune which shows off the upper register), "Ol' Man River" (which showcases the lower end) and an obscure piece by Alan & Marilyn Bergman called "I'll Never Say Goodbye" (which was my 'wild card' and displayed a less showy attitude.)
At the beginning of the cattle call, the guy in charge came out and addressed the 200+ singers (I was number 67) telling us that the need was for singers who could blend - so, since it appeared that I didn't need to "pull out the stops" and wow them, I chose my wild card. It paid off as I was called back for the next cut on Monday.
I have wanted to sing this Christmas music again for the last 20+ years and on Monday, after singing an old Rogers & Hart song "Without A Song" (selected by the panel) they will work with the remaining singers who survive Cut #2 as a group focusing on the group's blend. By the end of the day, the panel will make their decisions.
So, I'll be working the weekend on getting everything in order for Monday's call back. Keep your fingers crosssed for me, blogsters, and lift up a prayer or 2, please. I'll keep you posted. If I get the gig, it will be a great diversion for 3 months during this painful wait for Joanna Mei.
Your Humble Blogman,

..........and so, we merrily skip down the adoption pathway.......

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Keeping Your Balance

“Why We Love Kids” is a collection of simple prayers written by children, and includes their unique grammar and spelling. Consider the few selections below. May the simplicity and authenticity of their prayers remind us of the child inside us all.

Dear God . . .

Instead of letting people die and haveing to make new ones, why don’t you just keep the ones you got now? (Jane)

I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that OK? (Neil)

In bible times did they really talk that fancy? (Jennifer)

I think about you sometimes even when I’m not praying. (Elliott)

Thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy. (Joyce)

I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it. (Nan)

Please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now. (Ginny)

If you give me genie lamp like Alladin, I will give you anything you want except my money or my chess set. (Raphael)

We read Thos Edison made light. But in Sun. School they said you did it. So I bet he stoled your idea. (Sincerly, Donna)

If you watch in Church on Sunday, I will show you my new Shoes. (Mickey D.)

I think sometimes we take ourselves and life too seriously. “Out of the mouths of babes,” may we have a simpler week!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ministry Opportunities

Has it been 4 years already? ......... we had a
difficult time leaving our former church on the northeast side of town. But living on the southwest end of Orange County in central Florida, travel time was about 25 minutes on a Sunday morning ...... and about to get a bit longer with another move into a permanent building ..... both of us were involved in the set up and workings of our portable church requiring a report time of 7 AM if we were going to get everything going right and do a rehearsal as well. I was doing worship leading and Be sang on the praise team as well as alternating on the sound board. I was doing more whining than worshiping ....... as we went east on the expressway, I missed the exit one morning ...... I felt a calling to a beach ministry, apparently ...... free parking at Ron Jon's in Cocoa Beach? It was time to make a break and after we were sure that all areas of responsibility were covered, we said bye in July of 2003.

Several events in the following days proved that the decision was not our own ........ dad came to live with us, we got Diva with her ministry of hospitality ....... walking her in the 'hood' gave us the opportunity to meet our neighbors (we had lived there for 15 years) who were attracted by her welcoming presence. Also, Be's cancer was diagnosed and subsequent surgery was necessary. (Cancer free for over 3 and a half years, praise God) It was evident that a church much closer to our home was in our future.

Eight minutes from our driveway was Windermere Baptist Church ...... me? a Baptist? you've got to be kidding! ..... alright, I'll give it a try. After having witnessed some shaky theology at a previous church, we reviewed their (WBC's) statement of faith ...... well, I sure can't find anything wrong with this! ...... and we joined several months later. We both took part in singing on the Saturday evening praise team, and just recently, I (Don) bridged to Sunday mornings where I sing in both the choir and praise team. I actually leave the house half an hour or so before report time just to enjoy the morning drive to Windermere. The streets of the town are tree lined and there are lakes everywhere. The morning sun creates beautiful scenes, filtering light through the trees and glistening off the water. The speed limit is 30 mph, & the police don't have much more to do on a Sunday morning, so they are quick to nab you faster than you can say speeding ticket if you go more than 2 mph over the speed limit. Knowing this, why rush to church? Enjoy the incredible sights around you.

Now that I am retired, the aspect of using my time to God's honor & glory has me jazzed. I have been approached about heading up the board for the choir (about 40 singers and 10 instrumentalists), lead worship for a group called "Celebrate Recovery" and possibly lead worship for an 'overflow' service. With plenty of time on my hands, I don't see anything standing in the way of any of these possibilities for the present ....... until Joanna Mei arrives. SHE is going to be the focus of my life. So, I have advised those concerned that my participation would be conditional and we could re-evaluate as our lives change dramatically. We will be praying specifically for these items ..... right now, I don't see anything standing in the way.

In the picture ........ entry to Windermere Baptist Church

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Deja Vu

From 1984-1986, before my so-called 'career' at US Airways, I sang with an acapella group at EPCOT called Voices of Liberty. That's me, back row, 3rd from the right - yep - that's really Tricky Dicky in the middle, not a cardboard cutout. The group had some incredible Christmas arrangements which brought a dimension to vocal music like I have not experienced since. I LOVED singing the holiday music. So, now - I'm retired - and, on a lark, I'm auditioning as a 'sub' (for the Christmas season) on Aug 17 so I'll have a chance to sing those arrangements again. In preparation, I've hired a vocal coach to whip me into shape in a short period of time, and even if I don't get called to perform the arrangements, I will have stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something that I've not done, on that level, for over 20 years. Wish me luck ......

"Vanity of vanities; all is vanity"
These words from Ecclesiastes 1:2 came to mind when I had to get a "head shot" for this audition.
Our friend, Jo-Ann, came by and snapped away and I chose this one for the 'jury' at Disney.
With the help of Photoshop 101, wrinkles and barnacles are removed and hopefully they
won't point me to the Social Security line.
See more of JoAnn's photography of our church's Easter Sunrise Service @

......and so, we skip merrily down the pathway of adoption ......

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Someone Left the Meatloaf in the Rain (Sing to the tune of "McArthur Park")

It was a wonderful time of reunion for our family who had gathered for my father's memorial service. Cousins Ellen & Lyn are a real hoot - all of the pictures in this post as well as the previous were taken by them. We were touched that they flew in from California for the event - My sister, Maryann and niece, Michelle, came in from New Jersey - also Cousins Bruce & Lisa who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. They were staying at a beautiful resort hotel near the Disney complex and instead of lavishing in the hotel's amenities, they opted for the day with the family and a romantic tubing adventure at Rock Springs, about 30 miles from Disney.
Be and I started out early in order to rent tubes and set up the picnic area for the day.
As the parking lot filled up, it became apparent that the park would be filled to capacity soon - actually - they closed it just as the rest of the family approached the gate! I got the call on my cell phone that they would not be joining us inside the park - and Be and I were stuck with 8 tubes! It was decided that we would pack up and head for Wekiva Springs State Park, about 5 miles away ......... the story continues .........
The scene at Wekiva Springs Park when we arrived.
Located at the headwaters of the Wekiva River, the beautiful vistas within this park offer a glimpse of what Central Florida looked like when Timucuan Indians fished and hunted these lands.

So, the family group got settled in and we were ready for an afternoon of playing it cool in
the spring (72 degrees). Shortly after this pic was taken, the clouds rolled in and
the traditional Central Florida thunder storm dumped on us......

Still, one big happy family even in the pouring rain. We were just happy to be together.

By now, it was about 1:30 and everyone was quite hungry.
I had made a meatloaf which I froze several days previous and began thawing the day before.
When I broke it open - Argh! It was still frozen.
Cousin Bruce was having visions, he was so hungry, and didn't care that it was frozen and chisled
off a slab of frozen meatloaf, slapped it on a slice of bread, added ketchup and chowed down.
As the meatloaf drama escalates, it was laughter in the rain for
Be, Michelle & Maryann

One family member asked "So, who wants to bag this afternoon?"
The vote was unanimous and we headed for the parking lot,
but not before we took a final family shot.

One last family shot in the pouring rain by my truck (8 tubes in the bed)
and this redneck excursion was over!

Several days later, myself, Ellen & Lyn returned to Rock Springs and
tubed down the half mile run several times.
Rock Springs bubbles up from a cleft in a rock outcropping and, instead of spreading out into a pool, becomes a swiftly running stream that quickly slows to a meander. The activity of choice here, and the major reason for the park’s obvious popularity, is riding down the stream in an inner tube or on a float.
....and so, we merrily skip down the adoption path ......

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dad's Memorial Service - "Celebrating A Good Life"

It was a Celebration of A Good Life and a gathering of family from afar. Dad's memorial service on July 27 was a memorable evening and we share some of those memories with our blogger friends and family. The evening included a message testifying to dad's provision for his family, reflections by family members, a southern gospel concert, food and fellowship.
We were jazzed at the number of folks who encouraged and supported us in prayer during a difficult time, and now, a month later, it was the right time to celebrate a good life......
A favorite pic of Be & Daddy-O at EPCOT for the Candlelight Processional
taken last December.

Southern Gospel quartert "Sonday 4" got the joint jumpin' with some old
fashioned 4 part harmonies. Dad came to love southern gospel music
after he accepted the truths of Christ last year.
How fitting to have these guys participate in the service.

Cousin Bruce Schafhauser & his lovely wife, Lisa, flew in from New Jersey.
They were celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary.
Cousin Lyn is in the foreground.
My cousins Lyn & Ellen flew in from California for the service.
I LOVE these girls!

Chaplain Dan from one of the local Hospice groups delivers the message
at dad's service. The theme was "Provider". Chaplain Dan spoke of
God as our heavenly provider and paralelled it with reflections from
family members on dad's earthly provisions to those whom
God had entrusted to him.

Maryann shares her reflections of dad as 'provider' as part of
Chaplain Dan's message. Don in the background.
My sister Maryann & niece Michelle listen to the words of Chaplain Dan.
(Is there a resemblance here?)
Many of dad's caregivers returned to the residence after their shifts
to attend "Celebration of A Good Life"

Family, friends & residents of dad's residence lined the stairway &
filled the living room.