Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baking when you live in an oven

It's 95 degrees and my state is burning, but bread still has to be made.  I have learned a few things, though, from this experience, and I want to share them.

  • Once it's hotter than hell, it doesn't matter anymore if you turn on the oven.  You may as well have good bread.
  • Using a bread machine for mixing is still a good idea, but DON'T leave it in there to rise.  The machine doesn't know that it's nigh-100*F and ash is falling from the sky - it will still heat up your dough to encourage it to rise just as much as when your furnace fails in January and it's 55*F.  What happens?  The dough starts baking during the rise cycle.  Not cool.  Pull it out and just set it on the counter with a moist towel over the top of the pan or bowl.
  • Dough rises much FASTER when it's sweltering.  Check it often.
  • Baking also goes faster.  How does that work when the oven still needs to heat to 350* and it has a thermostat???  No idea.  But it's true.  We had a couple VERY interesting loaves and pizzas in the last few days.  
  • If you normally rely on the glorious smell of fresh-baked bread to tell you when it is done - DON'T!  You won't be able to smell it over the smell of burning trees.  
That's all for now.  I hope that lightens things a little.

From far (enough) away

We live about 10 miles from the Waldo Canyon fire, in Colorado Springs. 

Until now, we've been praying for rain and for our fire fighters, but all we'd really seen was massive plumes of smoke rising from the canyon, and the occasional nighttime shot of flames on the hills on the OTHER side of the canyon. 

Now... the smoke is thick across town, ash falling all over our neighborhood.  People without breathing problems are having trouble with it.  Fire topped the ridges and poured down the hills toward town this afternoon.  Neighborhoods west of I-25 and north of the Air Force Academy were evacuated.  A total of nearly 12,000 people have had to leave their homes.

Also until now, one of the great triumphant silver linings about this fire was that no structures had been lost.  That was a wonderful testament to the great work of our brave and dedicated emergency personnel.  The fire has overwhelmed even their valiant efforts now.  Flying W Ranch is burning, homes are burning, people's livelihoods and memories are burning.  Luckily, as yet there are no reports of life lost. 

Across town, life continues pretty much as normal, with more coughing and more checking the sky and the news reports.  My older boys are at Cub Scouts tonight.  Outdoor events are being cancelled because of the smoke.  Most of us are pretty lucky so far, but that will only hold for so long without rain.  We NEED the moisture, we NEED cooler temperatures (it's been 90s to 100s for about a week). 

In the mean time, even as far away as we are from the projected path of the fire at the moment, we are going through our evacuation bags, packing a change of clothes for everyone (harder to keep things like that "in storage" when the kids are growing so fast), and gathering documents that we don't have in the packs yet. 

Keep praying for rain, for the fire fighters and other emergency personnel, and for the people who have been forced from their homes by the fires.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dossier to China!!!

Finally!!!  After the lengthy, precise, irritating, expensive [and a few other descriptors which I will leave out here] paperchase, our dossier was mailed to China today!!!  HAPPY DANCE!!!

The dossier is a very large and oh-so-official stack of paperwork that represents our family to the Chinese government and is the basis on which they determine our eligibility to adopt one of their sweet little nationals and bring her to the United States.  Of course, they already lay out their requirements before we embark on the process, so we have been pre-weeded. 
The dossier includes the following:
  • HOMESTUDY- This many-page packet is an in-depth biography on our family, and it was created through a little bit of documentation about finances and employment, a few references, and a TON of interview information.  Pretty much, this is where they want to know about your relationship with your mother, the quality of your sex life, and what color you poop. 
  • PROOF YOU EXIST- Birth certificates, marriage certificate, physical exam reports, employment verification, police reports/FBI clearance, USCIS immigration approval, financial statement, and a petition to the Chinese government stating why/who we would like to adopt.  EACH of these documents has to be notarized, authenticated by the Secretary of State in the state where it was created, and sealed by the Chinese consulate that oversees that state. 
  • PHOTOS- We had to submit 3 passport photos each, 3 photos of just us as a couple, and 8 "family life" photos.  CCAI mounted them and got them all prettified.
  • PASSPORT COPIES - well, duh
Then, if you have things like name changes, medical info that needs further explanation from a doctor, then those things need to be in there as well. 
There need to be black and white copies of everything included as well.
And money.  Can't forget money.

So.  Now.

Now, it will take 3-5 business days for the dossier to GET TO China.  It's kind of a long way.  Then it gets logged in to the CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption)'s system.  The date it gets logged in (LID) is a big deal.  That is the day that we officially begin to exist in the eyes of the Chinese government.  For the traditional (non-special-needs) program, everything is based on your LID.  People are matched with their children in order based on that date.  For us, it's not quite as big of a deal.  We were already matched before our homestudy was completed.  Still, it's a milestone.  We will get our LID about 2-3 weeks after our dossier gets to China. 

After that, the thing goes through translation into Mandarin.  I'll talk about that later.

For now, our precious red binder of everything us is making its way from Centennial, Colorado to Beijing, PR China. 

One step closer...