Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Marin IJ

Today's Marin IJ has a very nice story on the adoption.

It is on the front page of the online version today: marinij.com

After today (Wednesday), it will be available here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

New photos from home

We're all having a nice time settling in at home. Lola seems to be feeling better and now is sleeping for most of the night -- just one or two wake-ups, which is totally managable.
The dogs and Lo have now been introduced, and everyone seems pretty cool with the new arrangement. Lola thinks they're OK and isn't scared or bothered by them at all. Bosco might be a tad jealous, but generally is doing well with her. Pali has a not-so-bright look on her face (as usual) and has impressed us greatly with how gentle she is around Lola, since she is usally a zany freak and jumps on new people.
Here are some new photos:

Lola's hair seems to be growing fast here in the US. must be the shampoo.



(OK, not new hair, Bosco is taking a nap on her head)

Grandma Toni and Lo

Dueling Grannies



Uncle Mike knows how to become popular fast - food.


Auntie Ang says hi to Lola


Friday, November 23, 2007

part 2 tonight

part two of the news story is running tonight on bay area abc news (channel 7), at 5 o clock. we'll post the link to the online story when its put online.

update*** The story ran tonight. Here is the new link:

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=local&id=5781115


here are two new photos -






Lola getting her Thanksgiving dinner. She also got one fingerful of baby-food turkey, even though she isnt quite supposed to be eating turkey yet.
(Dr. Chung, if you are reading this: sorry!)







Lola telling Cheryl Jennings "Thanks" for running her story



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Real update

OK, the brain seems to be functioning again.
So, yes, we are HOME.
Walking through the door last night was an amazing feeling - the final steps of a long, hard and great journey.
Travelling went very smoothly - Lola was perfect on the plan. We built her a little 'nest' of blankets on the floor on the first leg of our journey, and from Taipei to SFO, she had a little bassinet affixed to the wall in front of our seats. She seemed to be very comfortable and slept for much of the flight. Even the people sitting near us, at the end of the flight, told us how good she was.
Before we left, we were told to anticipate the possibility of a long wait at immigration - possibly up to a few hours. Luckily, we were first in line at the 'new immigrant' lane. We nervously approached, hoping it wouldn't take too long. The immigration officer seemed nice and started flipping through paperwork. Quickly, we noticed that it wasn't taking any time at all. Even when he said "she wasn't put into the system properly", he just shrugged his shoulders, and put her into the system (go figure). That delay meant instead of 3 or 4 minutes at immigration, it took us all of about 7. Then, he stamped her passport and said, "its official, she's a US citizen." You can imagine how nice that was to hear.
All the worrying, waiting, stressing and anxiousness dissolved with one quick 'clunk' of the passport stamper. She's ours for good.
We're all home now, safe and sound. Visiting the pediatrician (who was SO helpful, answering emails from nervous first time parents while we were in Vietnam) later this morning for a routine check-up.
Thanks again to everyone that posted comments on the blog. The trip was very challenging at times, but getting on the blog and seeing comments from home was enough to keep us going. We literally grabbed the computer right after we woke up each day to see the new comments.
Also, thanks for all of the great presents that we recieved at the shower. Coming home last night and having EVERYTHING we needed waiting for us was so nice.
Here are some new photos:

Perfect little angel on the plane:






We don't look like much, but we are finally back home.



House-sitting & airport pick-up duty has its perks - Wags gets the coveted "first hold"





"What the hell was all that talk about a 'land of opportunity?' I've been
here 5 minutes and i think im going to be squished to death."


Lola seems to have Grandma Betsy's approval.



2 days before thanksgiving, Haley (who happened to be at the airport, leaving for Colorado) reverses out of airport security to come meet Lola for a few minutes! We hope she made it back through security and got home.



All for now. We'll sort through the ample stock of photos and post some more later.

Lots of love,

Mark, Tallia and Lola







Tuesday, November 20, 2007

home.

we're here, and it feels beyond great.

very tired, and not smart. hope to update w/ more photos and travel stories after doctor appt. tomorrow morning (everyone is healthy - just standard post adoption visit)

- - - update - - -

we just found out that the story ran on the news tonight. here's the link:

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=local&id=5776742

How do you say, "holy crap, we lucked out again!" in Taiwanese?


BYE BYE HANOI!!!!!!




The little Giants Fan!



We are missin our buddies! Lola and Bryce



We're halfway home.

We successfully got onto the plane in Hanoi -- upon arriving at the airport, we learned that if we upgraded to business class we would secure our seats to Taipei, so we snapped up that opportunity so as to avoid the stress of 'stand-by'.

Sure, it was nice riding in the fancy seats and sneering at the commoners in economy seats through our little curtain, but mostly we are just so excited to know that we are officially on our way HOME! (* note: if the sarcasm wasn't obvious, i should mention that we'll be on the other side of the class curtain on our next, longer flight. ho hum)

Little Lo's health seems to be holding up well, and she was fantastic on the plane. didn't cry once, no smelly surprises. i'd go on more, but don't want to jinx flight #2.

Once again, our joy gets deflated a tad with exhaustion from long days and stress, but we are super happy. can't wait to see everyone back at home.

we arrive in sf tomorrow afternoon and then visit the nice folks at US immigration (apparently this can take up to two hours!) one last time.
Once Lola's passport is stamped there, she is officially a US citizen and will finally be our daughter under U.S. law. We can't believe it.

again thank you for all the love and support and the wonderful comments on the blog. It kept us sane for 16 stressful days in Hanoi!
almost there.....


Love to all! Happy Thanksgiving!



P.S. Cheryl Jennings from ABC may run the first part of our story early so watch ABC Channel 7 for us every night at 5:00! :)



Lola can't wait to meet you!





Monday, November 19, 2007

What would kenny rogers do?

know when to hold 'em... know when to fold 'em....

we're gambling again. this trip has been one long sequence of irrational, risky decisions, so we figure, why stop now? we seem to be on a hot streak, so we're gonna ride it out.

Were heading to Hanoi airport and hoping to get on a plane with our stand-by tickets. hopefully the gods will continue to be amused by our lack of common sense, and will give us one last little gift - 2.5 seats on a 747.

we'll update the blog in a few hours -- either from Taipei airport with good news, or from some Hanoi hotel. cross your fingers. - mt&l

Just waiting for airline tix!

After weeks of being the subject of much talking, hoping, thinking and celebrating -- we finally have the Visa in hand!


Thao, a very nice assistant with our agency just delivered these from the US embassy. Feels great to have them in hand:




The mysterious 'sealed envelope'. We honestly dont know what
it is; just that we dont open it, US immigration does when we get
back to the states



Outside of Vietnamese Passport - looks like the Camera focused on
the pretty flower instead of the passport. oh well. you can
see it in person someday. you'll love it




Inside of passport.



Jack-pot! These things are like the Holy Grail in

our hotel. And Little Lo's got hers! So, so, happy to have this.

p.s. - Carol, if you are reading this, please tell Bosco and Pali hello and we will be home soon. we miss our little pups very much.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reminding ourselves how lucky we are

"We are so lucky to have been approved."

That's pretty much what we keep telling ourselves as this trip gets frustrating for little things.

Lo has been having a tough couple of days -- started having trouble sleeping on Saturday night, then last night (sunday) she developed a fever and really seemed to be uncomfortable. A little Tylenol got her fever down for the night, but we took her in to the doctor this morning (monday) and they diagnosed an upper-respiratory infection and bronchitis.

It sounds bad, but that's pretty much par for the course with all the adopted kids in our hotel - they've all had it, but Lola's just came on later. So she's got medicine now to help her, and is finally getting in a good nap, which she really needs because she's had a really hard time sleeping.

For the first time, Little Lo is actually crying -- like, actually "im in some pain here mom and dad, please help me" kind of crying. For the first week, she'd given a token fake 'cry' when she wants to eat. We all know its fake, but since it seems to be working for everyone, we just go along with it. kind of like the 12 year old that still 'believes' in santa, since believing in santa has some nifty perks. anyway, the 'real' cry is pretty much the worst sound in the world; our heart breaks when it comes on, so we hope to get past this illness fast


Also, our travel plans aren't progressing as quickly (or, more specifically, concretely) as we had hoped. Its still possible that we could get home tomorrow, but we are relying on "stand-by". and by 'stand-by', we mean 'stand-by in the Hanoi airport with a sick infant'. good times. there are a number of back-up plans like flying down to Ho Chi Minh City and then to SF, but its time consuming to arrange - for some reason, the airline needs to contact the SF office to make changes, and the SF office is closed during business hours here. so its a lot of leaving messages and then hearing back 24 hours later. we're trying to be positive, but the possibility of thanksgiving in Hanoi is feeling moreso each hour.

finally, our Hanoi family -- the others in our travel group -- all leave this afternoon, so we're losing the local 'support group' that we've gone through everything with. we've all gotten to know each other well over the past couple weeks, so it will be hard to see them go.

With that said -- although there is a lot of stress going on, we still bump into other families here at the hotel that are stuck here indefinitely and not certain about their adoption status. All things considered, we're in pretty good shape and are so happy to at least know where we stand with Lola. She's our little angel for good, even if we are stuck in Hanoi with runny noses for a few days more.

We will learn more tonight, when our travel agent contacts the airline's SF office at 8:30 pacific time, 11:30 at night here.

anyway, to summarize, today has been lame, but overall we are super lucky and a happy family gettin' through it together.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Quick note

we heard from Cheryl Jennings that she is planning to run the story about our adoption on Thanksgiving day at 5:00 p.m. (in Bay Area) on Channel 7 (ABC). Tune in if you are interested!

A long but fun day

Words can't describe how much more relaxing and fun life after Visa approval has been. We are just beyond excited that we got approved and know that we'll be coming home soon. Just a great, great, great feeling.



Today, we got up early and headed off for a day-trip to Ha Long bay.


Ha Long Bay is a beautiful bay on the coast, about 3 hours from Hanoi. The bay is full of 3,000 little lime-stone islands that pop out of the water (see photos below). Our tour guide tells us that in Vietnamese legend, a dragon was sent from the Gods to Vietnam to protect the country from invaders. The dragon then gave birth to a bunch of little dragons (the islands) and left them there to protect the shoreline.

It was a long ride to get out there, but well worth it. Its a beautiful place - gave our travel group a perfect opportunity to finally relax for the first time in weeks.

Along the way, we were speaking with our Vietnamese tour guide who was telling each of the families what their baby's name means. After we went through all the babies, Tallia asked what her Vietnamese name meant, and Phuong (our guide) told us that it means 'a Vietnamese person that leaves the country, but comes back'. So it was fun to learn that Tal's return was meant to be.
Lola was great on the trip. She does very well in the car, and magically timed her diaper-presents to coincide with great opportunities to offload her stink-bombs. She dealt with the long ride, the boat trip, the cave adventure and being held by a number of Vietnamese ladies like a real trooper. We are very lucky to have her.

In other news, we heard from our travel agent that we are on the "wait list" for a Tuesday flight home, which would be ideal. He is working hard for us to get us on that flight -- we'll see what happens.

We will post updates on travel as soon as we can. Here's photos from today:










































Thursday, November 15, 2007

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....

Just got a call from our agency. our visa has been APPROVED!!!

we travel to the embassy at 2:45 today for the second interview (which is more of a formality) and should be able to pick up the Visa on Monday, and travel home soon after.

needless to say, our heads are spinning and we are ecstatic. we'll try to organize our thoughts and post something that makes more sense later, but for now we're just gonna sit and enjoy life.

thank you SO much to everyone that prayed, sent good vibes and thoughts... it helped in many ways.

love m&t

** update -- we went to the Embassy this afternoon, and its official: we have been approved. we pick up the Visa on Monday afternoon, and will hopefully travel home early Tuesday (or possibly late Monday night, but that's a longshot).

We are SO relieved and excited. We travel out to Ha Long bay tomorrow for fun, and it will be much better knowing that we will be back home soon.

Tomorrow night, we'll have photos of the bay to upload and might have a more clear travel plan. should be a very thankful thanksgiving!

Another day; no visa

No news yet... still TOTALLY within the normal time-frame, so its not "bad" that we havent gotten word. but, obviously, we'd love to get that call with good news. ho hum... making the best of Hanoi.

For now, here's some footage of awesome parenting.

video

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No news yet!

No news from Embassy today.

We're expecting word soon-- our agency rep Thao is probably going to call to check in tomorrow (Thursday, VN time) with the Embassy. At the first interview, they told us to expect a decision late this week or early next.

Our hotel is full of families that are adopting -- so we all bump into each other in the hallways/restaurant and get updates on what is happening with other people. so FAR, we keep hearing good news around here...lots of approvals, and very few NOIDS (the dreaded 'notice of intent to decline', not the villain from 1980's Domino's pizza ads)

So we all have managed to stay pretty positive. Doctors appointment went well yesterday -- the Dutch doctor looked at her for about a minute; poked, shined a light, wiggled some limbs, and said "this looks like a very healthy baby." so that's good.

also, Lola was given her Vietnamese Passport, which is cool. however, the agency people have held onto that for us. so we cant take a picture of it yet, as planned, but its cool to know she has it.

All for now.... We will immediately relay news from the embassy once we hear something.


Only one new photo today: we thought it would be wise to slowly introduce Lola to terry-cloth hoodie jackets, so she doesn't go into culture shock when she gets home and sees mommy's closet. she seems to be doing pretty well - no apparent allergies or fear of this particular blend of terry, nor hoods in general. she will fit in well at 28 loma linda.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We have a NAME!!!!!

We know what you're thinking: "it's only been one week -- why jump into a name so fast? its perfectly normal to raise a human being and not give it the dignity of a name for months on end!!"

In spite of that, we have FINALLY landed on a name that fits. After cycling through the final candidates over and over, we agreed that the name that most perfectly stuck was Lola Elizabeth Bodenhamer. The "Lo" is the name of a river in Tuyen Quang, so we are pleased that her new name lets her sort of keep some 'water' symbolism to honor her original, Vietnamese name. Plus, we just think its pretty.

Little Lo seems to enjoy her new name, and probably just likes having a name. She was having a miniature identity crisis, but that's all over now!

Our excitement over having a name for her ALMOST makes us forget how bored we are getting here in Hanoi. There are little things to do here and there -- medical appointments, gatherings with the group, etc.

But there is a LOT of down time. Our room seems to get a tad smaller each day, and its not just because we keep hitting the "shopping district", although that doesnt help either. Everyone is really ready to get back to the US. Its getting closer to the time when we should hear from the Embassy, so we're keeping our fingers crossed for good news.

We finally found a restaurant that has that one thing - - 'good food'. Perhaps you've tried it? needless to say, the three-pack of families have eaten there a lot since we found it.

that's all for now. we hope to have news soon regarding the Visa!! here are a few photos from the past few days:

After a long day in the fields


Even her feet are cute.



We're not the only ones bored in Hanoi



Mommy rocking the baby




Lola and Bryce kickin' it



Ava, Bryce and Lola - the Three Musketeers (the 2 others in our group all came to our room for pizza and cards tonight. like the dorms, but cleaner. and with infants)



Bathtime fun -


Monday, November 12, 2007

Quick update

Hi all -
No new photos today -- lent our camera's USB cord to another fam in our group.Spent today shopping, went to dinner and had baby's first experiment w/ rice cereal. She got a little down, more on chest. Tomorrow, we get Vietnamese passport (still no word on the U.S. Visa) and visit the doctor.

thanks again for kind words and support - the comments keep us from going completely crazy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

being sick: bad for tummy, good for blog

Yesterday was a day of recovery -- still a little too weak to brave Hanoi, so we sat around the hotel room and passed the time with the "movie maker" program. hope this works... if so, enjoy the show. --m&t

video

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thanks Jon & Angela




Up and running with the blog/photos again, now that we're both feeling better (see previous post)

Here are a couple photos from our "Giving & Recieving" ceremony in Tuyen Quang (if you are curious, it seems to be pronounced "Twin Kwong"). One of the other couples that is with us took them for us and emailed today.

Also, a couple photos from around the orphanage.


We hope to be able to get out and see some of Hanoi in the coming days. Thanks to everyone for all the nice comments.
















We are definitely in Hanoi


We're not in Marin anymore. Its amazing how casually a Vietnamese doctor can say a phrase like "Diarrhea Epidemic".


Well, we've both been pretty much dying the past couple of days. Tallia was given a fluid IV at the western doctor here, and mark picked up the bug a day later. Just an awful couple of days. We both seem to be improving now and its nothing serious, but wow... what a 48 hours.


Luckily, the illness was sort of staggered -- hit Tal first then Mark. This allowed one of us to be the 'parent' while the other laid on the bed waiting for the next trip to the restroom. There was a brief period when the sickness was hitting both of us hard -- of course, it was during our trip to the embassy for the huge, important interview.


It took everything that we had to get up for that interview, but we have the best inspiration ever. Although it was difficult, it had the feeling of one last little "test" for us -- and that if we could pull it together and do well, everything else will fall into place.


To make a long story short, the interview SEEMED to go well. It's actually very brief and simple -- none of the really pressing questions that we were told to anticipate. So now its done, which feels great, and we just wait for word.


Should hear the news sometime late next week... If we werent so exhausted, it would probably be terrible waiting so long for that news, but for now we are just happy to be done with appointments and get some time to relax.


Here are a couple of pictures from the pre-sickness. We'll try to upload more later today.