Monday, September 29, 2008

Huh? waht htat sya?

Mr Tomato sent me this interesting email today. Not sure what he is trying to tell me but he said he was able to read it with no problem at all and as it turns out I could read it just fine too. Guess that means one of two things......1) either we are both visually disturbed and meant to be together, or 2) we have been spending too much time helping Tobbers with homework lately.

You try and see if you can read it as easy as we could. Let me know...

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it

I think I remember reading about this in grad school but it is clear that reading and comprehension have NOTHING to do with the able to recall years later. Pretty interesting huh?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Greetings from SacraTomato!

A little explanation. Last month someone emailed me and asked what's up with the Tomato thing? Over the weekend, I received another email from Spain inquiring about the Tomato name. So I thought I would state for the record the history of the Tomato Blog.

Back in the mid 80's after college (about six years ago for those of you the need help with counting backwards), I moved to the Big Tomato. This was not my first choice of post college habitation, but after intense one day analysis it turned out to be the cheapest of the five major markets in California to live...and being the bargain hunter I was and the fact I was ramping up for grad school and would continue my poor student status...I loaded up my avocado (how California of me) VW Rabbit with all of my worldly possessions and headed to the Tomato.

When I arrived on the outskirts of town (yes, I know it will tick some off, but I liken the Tomato to more of a town back then), everywhere I looked there were Tomatos on the road. Every off ramp, overpass and stop sign, had loose Tomatoes covering the ground. I would drive down the roads and freeways and see sprinkling of bright red Tomatoes everywhere. Frankly it was quite hilarious to see these little bouncing read balls (Tomatoes) falling off the large trucks that drove though the center of the downtown's freeway system. I soon found out Sacramento was quite well known for their Tomatoes and was affectionately called SacraTomato by many. So I figured if New York can have it's Big Apple, and LA the City of Angels, Las Vegas ---Sin City and so on, why can't Sacramento be the Big Tomato? So the Big Tomato it is and Tales I will tell.

Friday, September 19, 2008

HooHaa's Finding Ad Arrived Today!

For those of you that are new to Chinese adoptions, when a baby is found in China, the orphanage is required to publish what is called a "finding ad" in the local newspaper of all of the babies that are abandoned and found. This ad is to hopefully "find the missing family" of the child and to eliminate any chance that a child was taken from the birth parents against their will. From what I understand, all children in China that are abandoned must have a "finding ad" placed prior to be made available for adoption either international or domestic.

When we received MeiMei's ad it was taken after her lip repair and my guesstimate is that she was around 12 months old in the photo. Her photo barely legible photo, is the earliest photo we have for her and it is very special.

HooHaa's photo is taken before his cleft lip repair. He appears to be around 4 - 5 months old by guesstimate. I know he was found at two months old in the center of a city square. His abandonment was clearly not an easy decision for his family since they kept him for two months prior to leaving him in a public place to be found. Most all of the abandoned Children in China are abandoned within hours of being born. I do not know the statistics but it is safe to say that any family that keeps a child for two months and then abandons for whatever reason suffered great pain in doing so. MeiMei was abandoned at two weeks old and HooHaa at two months. I cannot imagine the agony that both MeiMei's and HooHaa's parents went through when they walked away from their babies after caring for them for a length of time.

While I know it is virtually impossible to do, there is not a week that goes by that I wish there was some way to let MeiMei's birth parents know that their little baby is happy, healthy, safe and loved.

I would like to thank Brian Stuy (the research guy) for once again providing us with a little part of our yahoos past. If you are a prospective adoptive parent and want to know more about finding ads or to order your childs finding ad, please visit Brian at:

How Many Airport Security Guards Does it Take To Process 1 Piece of Paper?

Yes, that last and final piece of needed documentation is off to the infamous abyss called the United States Center for Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing. I would take a deep breath except I am reminded by my fellow paper chasers that the wait for their approval is taking 3 - 4 months. Yes, that is right and is not a typo. What do I think about that? Well in one word... SUCKS! This is the only piece of paper that is holding up our dossier to be sent to China. China knows our paperwork is coming but we cannot send it without this last vital piece.

With MeiMei we completed this last step in 12 days. All of the paperwork was processed by the Sacramento office of the USCIS. Now in our typical over regulated world, some numb skull decided to hand over this final international adoption approval to the folks that check us in at airports. Yes, that is right! Those lovely smart and intelligent folks with the IQ level of .032---you know the ones....that look for how much toothpaste or perfume you have in your carry on and remove the shoes and belts from grandmas in wheel chairs and children? Yes, they are the ones reviewing and processing MY US pre approval to adopt an orphan.

The started in May a centralized processing and has caused a huge backlog of applications. This back log has been the heartbreak of many prospective adoptive parents as their time limit of completing their dossier of three months is consumed by the black hole called USCIS causing them to not be able to adopt their identified child. On September 25 they are moving the central processing to a new location and state. I called the DC office and they informed me I could send my application directly to Chicago without waiting till the 25th. So I mailed the application on Wednesday and I'm hoping I will be one of the first in line at the new location...aka hoping to take cuts in line ahead of the other thousands of families waiting in line. I have no shame! I know I know it does not work that way but hey one can dream right?

Uncle John....if you are out there do you have any friends at the USCIS?

Charlie Brown said it right....Good Grief!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Great Job Linjit! Another Hollywood Success!

Congratulations Linjit on another great Hollywood fundraiser. This post is dedicated to your sucess. In the words of Linjit ... "Hi All! The bane of my existence for the last few months finally came to fruition last night at the Skirball Cultural Center in LA. Totals are not final but I heard we made about $50K not including sold out ticket sales!! Amazingly buttoned up, professional and successful :-) With all of my preliminary gripes with the humans vs animals willingness to give thing (especially after working so hard with First Star for Children's Rights), I am very happy and proud to be on the committee for this org. (Thanks to my dang stinky fat old man cat!)We secured very high caliber press (in LA entertainment world) and sold out the evening. LA Times, People Magazine and Cat Fancy (ummm national publication!) all attended :-) (breathe sigh of relief). " Great Job Linjit - we love you!! and hey? Aren't those your legs with your hand on your hip in that celebrity photo?? Nice dress.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Holy Smokes! Is that a Tomato Kid Playing Sports???

Yes it is true and we have the photos to prove it. The girls got game. We tried Tobbers in Soccer and all he would do is stand around and spot airplanes and inform everyone what make model and type of engine the flew with....Tobber was the infamous nosepicker boy who would pick his nose until it bled so that he would not have to play soccer. It was a very painful year and we vowed never to make him play again.

Fast forward the next year, Noley decided to give it a try when she found out she did not have to chase "a bunch of boys around the field". Well, her interest in soccer lasted about two seconds longer....cause...well after all the uniforms are purple. You will see from Noley's picture a girl of leisure relaxing at the game.

So in a last ditch effort we enrolled MeiMei this year and the girl has quite the competitive little spirit for a four year old. I think her survival orphanage skills of not letting anyone take her toys and learning to steal toys away from others serves her well in soccer. in contrast to Noley you will see MeiMei actually going after a ball.

Second week of school wrap up

Well we have survived the second week of school and either the kids at school are dressing better or I am getting acclimated. I have meet a couple of parents who like us are recovering private school families in the middle of post public school culture shock. Nine days into it and we are all reported well. Here is a photo of the first day of school for Noley and Tobbers....I am posting this photo for the world to see that despite the best of bribes, I cannot get my Noley to smile or pose for the camera on the first day of school. We are 0 for 4.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Words of Wisdom from the Southern Duchess...

We are about to enter the US governments infamous "twilight zone" also known in circles of prospective adoptive families as I800 Zone. I am filling out the paperwork today.

In the words of a wise Southern Duchess who so kindly (spoken with my best southern drawl) posted on the sight....."WOO-HOO!!!On behalf of all of us already waiting... Welcome to the I800A line. Your file will be reviewed in the order it was received. We have no idea when your file will actually be reviewed. But we have already deposited your check. Thank you for paying another government fee. Please feel free to press any numbers you choose while you wait, but none of them will help. Thank you for calling.And... Congratulations!!!" Duchess this post made me split a gut laughing....I just had to share :-)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Home Study is DONE!!!

the trees grew
they were harvested
the paper was made
they used the paper to write the home study
and it is DONE!!!!!

All in a record breaking 8 weeks!!!!
Three cheers to Across the World Adoptions in Pleasant Hill CA.
They did it in half the time of our 2006 Home Study.

Next step...the dreaded I800. Let's hope they can use recycled paper to write their authorization. Right now they appear to be taking 3 months to produce their approval. If this is the case we will be lucky to be DTC by the end of the year.
Well, I am a lucky person and after all do have a daughter called lady luck should be on our side ...right?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of New School - Hold on Tight!

Well, we survived the first day of school and let me tell you....we are NOT in Kansas anymore...we are in the "heart of the city" burbs here....just 100% California diversity---and I am NOT talking ethnic....and it is a whole lot different than "private all white all upper middle class stuffy school" we just left. Why at this school I truly believe we have a cross section of EVERYTHING---and I MEAN EVERYTHING.

Good Lord, when I walk around and see children that look like they are coming to school in their PJs or dressed like they are going to pole dance, hijack a car or sell pharmaceuticals, I am reminded that if they wore uniforms they would all look alike and that I am responding to other parents clothing choices and need to not be so judgemental. It is not that it is a ghetto school as I live in a pretty mid to upper middle class area but we are in the inner city. I liked the fact that as a multicultural family that the schools demographics closely fit our family in that 40% is white and 40% is Asian---after all that IS us. (And our old private school was 99% white and no diversity.) It is just at this new school, the other 20% is a little .... SCARY!!!!

Today Noley ask me if the child sitting at the next table was a boy or a girl...I had to be honest and say "honey I have no idea....wait till you see what the teacher says their name is" and "maybe then you will know..." (she still does not know and neither do I)

I had to explain to Tobbers that just because it is "free dress" everyday and the boy sitting next to him wore pajamas to school did not mean that he could wear pajamas to school---no matter how comfortable they are!

This is the first time the yahoos are being separated. Noley really wanted to be in a different class than Tobbers. They both got the teachers we requested. What I did not expect though was Noley getting stuck in a split class of first and second graders. Not too happy about fact I was and am still out right ticked off. We moved Noley from stuffy private school world so that she could get more educational challenges...I did not mean this kind! So once again, I am reminded to be careful of what you ask for because you just might get it!

We will be working with the school to get both kids identified as "GATE" kids --- meaning they get pulled out of the mainstream and get put in with the "smart kids" for lack of better political correctness. This is where the school really excels in the district. They are highly acclaimed for their GATE program and that was the draw to the school. It is just one has drudge through the hoops to get the kids in the program. If they do not get in...well we are still on the list for the non GATE non "ghetto chic" school that is 90% white and 5 % Asian and 5% Inner city California.

Yowza... This is going to be some ride this year....I think for me more than the yahoos. It will be a true test in my fear factor, my being protective, and learning to not judge others by the number of their tattoos on their face, piercings on their head, and street walker clothes....and to think I used to think I was rather accepting and open minded. Since when did dressing in nice clean clothes that were not revealing become passe?

...oh I must be getting older....or this place called California is wearing thin on me.