Friday, November 28, 2008

The Pieces Are Falling Into Place

We hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. And as those left-over pieces of pie fill your plates, the final pieces of our travel plans are coming into place.
Our passports came back today, which is a relief! We also received our home study update in the mail today. It had been one year since it was written, so Holt had to send use a revised one to go to Viet Nam with us.
A great gift yesterday was our in-country agenda and schedule of events. We arrive next Saturday and are free to explore Saigon on Sunday. Monday morning we go to the Child Wellness Center (CWC) in Binh Duong to visit our daughter for the first time! We though, sadly do not get to take her with us until Tuesday morning. Ugh! Once we depart the CWC on 12/9 and our G&R Ceremony is complete with the government officials, we head to the airport and fly to Ha Noi. On the morning of 12/10 we apply for her passport. We then are totally free to explore the beauty of northern Viet Nam with Sophie until 12/17. That day we pick-up her passport and go for her health check. 12/18 we go to the US Embassy for her visa interview (Final I-600). Then on 12/19 in the afternoon we return to the Embassy to get her visa which then allows us to leave and leave for home on 12/20!!!
We are almost all packed and ready to go. Hope this week flies by!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving....I'm thankful....

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FRIENDS AND FAMILY! Today is officially my most favorite holiday of the year. I could give up any other holiday just to keep Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, to me, is a holiday that is so genuine. A holiday where friends and family gather around and give thanks to each other. There are no presents exchanged or a silly gimmick, it's just a real heartfelt holiday. For the 30 years of my existence Thanksgiving has been a very special holiday. I set here reflecting on Thanksgiving from years before. I loved going to my Grandparents and seeing the big feast my Grandma had prepared. And I'm not talking about one Grandma, I had 2 that prepared a big feast. So it's only a given that I would prepare a big feast every year- hey it's in the genes. Grandma Smith would have a house full (I have 10 aunt's and uncles and I love and miss them so very much), my most fond memory is her working her tail off to make sure Dad did NOT have lumpy potatoes. Everyone would try to sneak in and have a taste of what would be cooking and Grandma was there to slap your hand, well not mine. She taught me how to cook. And I would just watch her. I can remember what she would wear to prepare the food, her apron and her voice (I've been called Juanita Jr. for the longest time and I love it). After we were full of turkey it was time to sit down and draw names for Christmas. Every year, and still to this day, I love the anticpation of wondering who I will get this year. And NIKKI add another name into the pot! So, I'm THANKFUL for Grandma Smith- who always had my back. Moving on to the other Thanksgiving feast at my Grandma Jones's house (keep in mind the Grandmas only lived 5 mins. away from each other). Grandma Jones Thanksgiving dinner's were a little different. Instead of paper plates we used the fancy china. And instead of 45 people running around it would be the 5 of us. Grandma Jones always looked perfect. Make up on perfect, hair always done just right and she looked so pretty making this big ol' turkey dinner. She has a lot of aprons, aprons that she hand made. She had black and white gingham aprons with yellow and red roses on them, she had a pretty lace one too. I still can see her standing in the kitchen looking so beautiful. However, she did NOT let me test anything. And I'm pretty sure my brother would be the one that could have the first test. That being said every Thanksgiving I look forward to preparing lots of food for my family. I love to make everything from scratch, just like my Grandma's did. I still wear my Grandma Jones apron and use the exact same china. However, I will not look 1/2 as pretty as she did cooking. I still fix favorites that my Grandma Smith would whip up. So I am THANKFUL for my family, my friends, my job and this year more THANKFUL then ever- for our daughter Sophie Lee. The Lord has blessed us with the most perfect gift. Today, as you sit down with your friends and family remember what this day is all about. In HIS name-- my love- mommy B.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Busy Bees

Busy past 36 hours for us! We have our flights booked and confirmed. It was tight getting flights back, but it all worked out. Not the BEST times. We leave Ha Noi 12/20 at 11:35pm. We have the king of all layovers in Seoul! We arrive there 12/21 at 5:35am and do not leave again until 8:00pm that night. The nice thing is that Asiana Airlines provides us a hotel for the night/day so we can sleep! Nice touch Asiana! High 5!
We bought Sophie a seat home as other PAPs have done and they are glad they did! More room for us all. The ouchie part of this return is that we fly into St. Louis along with all the FedEx and UPS planes, arriving 12/21 at 12:24AM.....So we get to live the same day twice...oh fun!
Holt will forward our schedule here early next week, which includes everything adoption related. As it stands now, we will have Sunday 12/7 to rest and get ready for Monday where we will go visit Sophie for the first time at the Child Wellness Center. There will also be two other Holt families in country with us, one of which we know. Our G&R (Giving and Receiving) ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday December 9! GOTCHA' DAY!!! We have requested the Somerst Ho Chi Minh City (CLICK HOTEL NAME) for Saigon and Somerset Westlake in Ha Noi. These are fully serviced two bedroom apartments with kitchens and laundry in the rooms. Great experiences from previous families. The other Holt families will be staying at the Westlake as well, so our kids can play with each other! So that is the news to date. Hope you are are getting that bird ready for the oven!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In the Words of The Famous Homer Simpson...

We have our I-600 pre-approval!!! Wow that was a long night of not much sleep but at 3:41am that e-mail we have been waiting for 60 business days today finally came. Thank you to some very helpful people at the USCIS in Washington D.C., like Joanna Ruppel, Department of State's Emily Ballas and a few other governmental places and sub entities that helped us get this done! So we wait for Holt to open in Oregon to gets some dates and get things moving!! Yeah!!!!

We now have dates and God has given us the only Christmas gift we will EVER need! WE GET TO LEAVE NEXT FRIDAY! Flights are very tight but Earle at Azumano travel got us over and back. We fly St. Louis - Denver-San Francisco-Seoul-Saigon arriving at 11:58pm on Saturday December 6th. Seems like an Amtrak train schedule, but it was the only way to get the special fare and in country on 12/6. We then are able to come home with our daughter on Saturday 12/20 leaving from Ha Noi. A VERY good day for our family!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pins and Needles

.....Is what we are on for the next 36 hours, praying that the information that we received last Friday materializes into our I-600 pre-approval that would allow us to hopefully travel next week. We have our US Passports FedEx'd overnight to the Vietnam Embassy in D.C. We have to get visa stamps inside the physical passport in order to enter Viet Nam. It is nerve racking that these have to be sent! Kind weird that you can't just have them stamped when we arrive (like most countries) but what can you do??? It takes 2-3 days to process them, so we are looking at Monday or Tuesday of next week before they come back if all goes right. Talk about 11th hour, cutting it close, but it is the way we roll around the Belz Centre! Watch this space EARLY tomorrow morning!

Friday, November 21, 2008

So Passes Another Week

And no approval. We did talk via e-mail last night to the Chief Director of the USCIS last night late as she responded to my message from earlier this week. She has stated that the Saigon field office will provide us with an update by next Tuesday (60 days). What does that mean? Well three things: 1) That we could get our pre-approval (WOOT!!) 2) They could not be finished with the investigation or 3) Do and RFE which is a request for evidence. The RFE has happened to a few VN families but NOT the end of the world. It could delay us but we are still praying that this thing is finalized Monday or Tuesday and we can get packing to go get Sophie. I had a dream about her last night. Taking her out with my to watch planes land at the airport (a past time I loved as a kid). It was so real. I touched was almost as if she was right next to me. But she remains 9,000 miles away. Sophie has been in our hearts since June 13th. The love we have for her is unexplainable, even though we have never met her, heard her voice, held her, or seen her move around, it is a strange feeling. One day, someday we will be there and I know it will be the happiest day of our lives. FINALLY, the chance to be parents. It just takes us a little longer. A difficult and stressful road as many of you who follow have seen. So..... We are here.....waiting.....again. Have a good weekend.

~Sophie's Pop!

Oh Yeah...the BlackBerry Storm launches today exclusively from Verizon Wireless, so do me a favor, GO BUY ONE. It is one heck of a phone!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Today-- what a bad day. I can barely breath, speak or talk because I miss my daughter. Right now at this moment I have so many emotions going through me and none are happy. I feel bitter and I feel sorry for myself and Hank. I do not understand why we can't catch a break! Just one! Please?! We have been married 5 1/2 years and we have done nothing but struggle through life. We climb one hill then there's an even bigger one, then an even bigger one... just goes and goes. I'm tired. I can actually say right now at this moment I'm tired. Physically tired and emotionally tired. Yes, tired is defiantly another feeling I have at this moment. I'm very sad as well. I'm sad that our daughter is growing up in another world without us. I'm sad that we can not be with her and I'm sad because we know nothing. The pain hurts so bad. Like in your throat bad. So bad you can't even swallow. The kind of pain where you can just cry at the drop of a dime, but you have to be strong and hold it in. People tell me how strong I am and how impressed they are with my attitude, but underneath I'm in the worst pain ever. My heart aches! Another feeling is anger! I I'm angry at God for not hearing the prayers of my friends and family.I can honestly say I am at my wits end. I'm tired, hurt, and confused. I miss you Sophie and we are trying really hard. Everyone wants you home- everyone.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rosie and Woodpeckers

Over the past three days we have been on an all out blitz to get through to the USCIS. Dozens of phone calls and e-mails have been made and sent out. We are in contact and working with Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina and Senator Kit Bond from Missouri to help in our fight to complete Sophie's I-600 application. We are also in touch and working with the Department of State. All have been in contact with the USCIS and are pushing the petition on our behalf. We finally have made contact with the Director of International Operations at the USCIS in Washington and have a direct phone number and e-mail address. He is willing to talk to us at anytime. So, we will be calling him on Monday morning bright and early. With the force of many woodpeckers on a tree, our voice is finally being heard in Washington D.C. which is nice to know. We have been assured our girl's application has been given congressional attention. It is has been a rough couple of days, dreams of Sophie fill our heads at night. Patience is at a premium with us but we know that with time and persistence on our part, the day will come where we walk down that jet way and onto a plane bound for Saigon. Thank you to all of those who have reached out to our government to make our voice heard and to bring our daughter home sooner rather than later. We thank you VERY much. Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


If you all have not seen this, it kind of sums up our day for us. We leave it to SNL's financial analyst Oscar Rogers.. This is hilarious... We want someone to FIX IT so we can get Sophie home!!!!

Oscar Rogers SNL

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


WELL!!! This is what I look like now, when you are sitting in your office @ 6:32pm WAITING for 1 MORE HOUR for the USCIS office in Saigon to open..
But we are still waiting on that I-600, which means WE CAN'T!!!!!. Holt called today, it was our Holt Branch Director. I saw her name on my BlackBerry and thought uh oh.......but it was her telling me to rattle some cages and that we are cleared by the VN government to go be united with our little angel, which means that our parent and child dossiers have received People's Committee approval! But nope....still waiting on OUR government to do their thing. The CIS office there was closed today (yesterday) for them in observance of Veteran's Day (Which I FULLY support). I talked to Holt Eugene for a bit to get the next course of action should CIS not have finished yet. Stay tuned for the latest!!! MOM AND POP ARE COMING SOPHIE!

Oh..oh..oh..oh..oh.. N.K.O.T.B

So... what can make a girl feel better??? A little New Kids On The Block and great gal pals!! For Ann W. 30th birthday we decided, back in July, to get tickets to the greatest group ever--NKOTB!! And it was well worth the wait! And to top it off I, along with my dear friend, Sarah got to meet Jordan and Donnie. We were both very nervous to meet our idols, but we got over that as soon as we saw their friendly faces. What a dream come true for the both of us. I was actually sad when we had to say good bye. I some how thought they would break out in "Please don't go girl", but no go on that (I'm sure it's because Joey wasn't with them). The concert was a good 2 hrs and it was jammed packed with fun and 60,000 screaming ladies (30's and up). So I would have to say, by far, yesterday had to be in my to 10 greatest days--ever! We originally thought that I might miss the concert because of precious Sophie (which would have been fine), but I think she wanted her Mommy to see her idol's. So thank you ladies and NKOTB for a perfect day!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Keeping Busy

Welcome to the new look site! Another way to pass the time on a Sunday! Fall is here for sure. Leaves are almost off of the trees, cold temps and wind are here. We have done almost everything we can do to get ready for Sophie as seen by the list on the right, so the last thing we have to do is bug family and friends to keep us busy. My sister Libby came over with her two boys yesterday for a few hours. The loved trying out all of Sophie's toys! After that we joined some friends for dinner at Pho Grand which was wonderful as always! So here we are waiting for shop to open at the CIS on Monday morning (7:30pm Sunday our time). Trish has a CT scan tomorrow with her oncologist, so we ask for prayers today and tomorrow! God has blessed us with so many things in our lives and we know he will keep his hand on Tricia tomorrow!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Still Here!

Yep, we are still here. Still waiting on approvals. Day +48..... Waking up at 3:00am each morning to check the Blackberry is BRUTAL. We are trying to keep busy through the work week and weekends. This Saturday, we are taking some friends to our favorite restaurant Pho Grand. If you are in the St. Louis Metro or even travel to St. Louis you HAVE to go here! Tammy and Michael the owners, both originally from the South of Viet Nam have by far the best authentic Vietnamese food this side of being in country. I suggest for Appetizers the Dau Hu Chien Don which is fried tofu with a brilliant peanut sauce. Of course you have to have the Pho Tai (enough for two) and my favorite entree is Ca Xa Ot (Red Snapper with hot chilies and lemon grass). With this you have to have their special fish sauce, not the bottle on the table. They make me this special recipe which is high quality squid sauce with chilies in it. IT IS TO DIE FOR, but not for the weak stomach as it is spicy! Tricia loves the Bo Luc Lac which is a beef dish that has garlic, onions and a special sauce. To top it off, you gotta grab a Cafe Sua Da which is chicory coffee over ice with sweetened condensed milk. Stop by Pho and experience what makes this food some of the most exquisite in the world.

3195 South Grand
St. Louis, MO

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And Her Room Is Finished

Think we can call it finished for the time being. I know there are a few odds and ends missing but we can cross this off of the list of things to keep us busy over the weekend. Tricia never thought she would do pink and green for a girl, but that is how it ended up! Ladybugs dot the room as well, and those who know T well are full aware of her love for them.

Ready for the Little Princess

This little critter happened so show up too! Fits the decor yes?