I have been debating on whether to get an SLR camera for Kaz. I am so impressed with the pictures, but honestly, I don't want to lug around a larger camera. I love my lil Canon Powershot SD700is. I think it takes decent pictures, I Just need to learn how to use it. I tested the video portion of it because I also do not really want to haul my camcorder to Kaz. I'm not a very good camcorder mom. We have one, but I never use it. I'm good at taking pictures, not so good with video. You can also see why Sean is so much fun to hang out with and why he HAS to go to Kaz. If I can succeed in uploading this video from Monday at Epcot, you can see the lil toddler behind him who is watching Sean and imitating him. It was pretty darn cute. Ok, here goes nothing...I hope this works.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I was waiting to post this news, but I've been about to bust a fuse
But it's been a couple days, so I think we're safe to say
Baby Kaz is waiting for us in the northern part of Kaz
I've seen A TON of kiddo's there so I'm really rather jazzed
Let's see, there's Zach, and Addie, and Anika, and lil Roxana too
Now if you're stalking blogs, do you have a clue?
My good friend Sandi's going there, she will be there very soon
So, do you know we we're going yet? We hope it's May or June!
Yes my friends, we are also going to the lovely region of Kostanai, or Kostanay. We dont know yet when we'll travel, as we have chosen to wait for our daughter. We've been told that summer is a good estimate for us.
I am very excited! There is another family with our agency who is there now, and are adopting the most precious little boy. I have watched several families who have adopted from there and have been very happy. Sandi is going in a couple weeks. I'm lucky that I have such a good friend going. We had hoped we may cross paths, but it doesn't look like we will, but one never knows! After being home with my sick son for 2 days and seeing how much school work he missed after only one day, I cannot imagine taking him out of school. I would want him to come, but the amount of work they do on a daily basis is truly insane. It would not be much fun for him to make it all up, plus commit to summer school. So, God's timing is good timing, and we'll see when we go! I will let you know!!!
For those of you who saw my other post that I had put up and had to delete 2 hours later, we were going to Astana. However, Astana is closed as of Tuesday, 2/19, so our dossier was transferred to Kostanai. Since we changed regions in a day, I wanted to make sure that Kostanai "stuck" for a couple days before I posted our region. :)
We are very excited and looking forward to following Sandi's journey.
By the way, Sandi is 40 today. Be sure and email her and tell her HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Note: Dates subject to change, as one must be open and flexible in international adoption.
We received some new communication from our agency regarding some changes going on in Kaz, with the Washington DC embassy not accepting dossiers right now until new personnel understand the process (glad we are thru there) and changes in the way the MFA is issueing 2 entry visa's. Whereas before we were urged to consider 2 trips due to lengthy stays in country due to extended court dates, now we're being urged to take on trip due to the time you are issued visa's for the 2nd trip. The last thing was that there are very few young girls available for adoption right now. The wait times to be invited to adopt a girl under the age of approximately 5 years old has been extended indefinitely. Fewer girls are relinquished by birth parents and Kazakhstan families are adopting girls more often.
Joe and I discussed it, and we really do have our heart set on a little girl. We have told our agency we will wait for our daughter. Plus, if we're encouraged to take one trip, then summertime works much better for us for Sean. I don't want him to miss school, but I would pull him out if we were to go in May. I don't think missing the last month of school will kill him and his chances for passing 4th grade.
SO....with that, I was informed today that they are planning to try to send us in May, June, or the latest, July.
That makes me really happy. :)
But, I know, I know, things can change quickly, and I must remain flexible.
I'm so excited for Karen and Bob, who are traveling next week, and for Sandi, who travels in March. I am sure that quite a few people are going to traveling in the next couple of months. I am excited to be a cheerleader from Florida for their trips, and then they can be home and hopefully be my cheerleaders, if they have time with their own kiddo's in tow.
Sean is greatly relieved, as he was not happy with the 2 trip option and him missing going the first trip.
So, for today, anyway, we will hopefully be spending summer in Kaz.
Has anyone been during May-August time frame? What's the weather like? I am pretty safe to return my boots, don't you think?
I have a bunch of fleece and stuff I bought cheap off Sierra trading company, so if anyone needs warm weather gear, let me know. :)
Summertime in Kaz-I will go from worried about freezing to sweating and worrying about bugs. :)
Is their beer cold?
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Imagine my suprise this morning when I was in line after Sean and I ran the Gasparilla 5k, and I saw an old friend, who said," NO WAY, SUSAN, YOU ARE THE SUPERSTAR!!!" I was like, HUH? What are you talking about?"
She said, "Figures, you would make the front page, of all people. "
WE made the FRONT PAGE OF THE TAMPA TRIBUNE newspaper today. :)
I am still cracking up we made the front page. WE ARE SO COOL AND FAMOUS!
wow, the front page, how cool is that.
The actual story in the paper was cooler, but here is an online version for you. :)
What is cool in the paper version, is that it's actually a differnet picture of us (better, i think) but the caption reads: The Serra Family, Susan, Sean, and Joe -have come to rely on their GPS navigator so much they've given it a name..Kazia.
BABY KAZ,THAT WAS FOR YOU DARLIN!
Would you like my autograph?
I wasn't sure if they would run the story or not, because you never know, and we get the St Pete Times, NOT the Tampa Trib, but I asked the reporter to let me know when it was going to hit. He didn't, but, hey, my friends saw it. Baby Kaz even got a blurb in there, as Sean named our GPS after his future sister.
Here is the article. :)
Satellite Guided Family: Sales of global positioning system devices are doubling this year to potentially 15 million units.
The Serras, Joe, Susan and son Sean, enjoy the convenience and portability of their Garmin Personal GPS, which Susan keeps in her car.
By RICHARD MULLINS, The Tampa Tribune
Published: February 9, 2008
Updated: 12:15 am
Susan Serra used to get lost - a lot - driving around Tampa, and would call her husband, Joe, for directions. Now she has a replacement of sorts for her husband.
He bought her a Garmin GPS navigator for Christmas, and it has become part of the family.
"I have no sense of direction," Serra said. "It's such a drag to be lost, especially if you're in a hurry to get a kid somewhere, and you get stressed out, start speeding and freak out. But with my Garmin, there's a calm voice telling you where to go."
The Serra family has become so attached to their GPS gadget and its directional wisdom that they end up debating which tone of computerized voice it should speak, and their son Sean named it "Kazia," because the family will soon adopt a girl from Kazakhstan.
That kind of intimate dependence is quickly becoming a lot more common.
With retail prices falling below $200, sales of personal global positioning system devices are doubling this year to potentially 15 million units. At that growth pace, it's possible that the generation now in elementary school will grow up without ever being lost - just as their parents left behind pay phones for cell phones.
As people become accustomed to using them, more are finding GPS just as indispensable as a cell phone. With customizable voices - even celebrities' - and its day-in, day-out use, the devices are setting up an oddly intimate relationship within the household.
Midway through a family cross-country RV trip, for example, Andy Hafer of Tampa pulled into a campground near the Grand Canyon and the family prepared for dinner. His 5-year-old daughter Alexis started setting an extra place at the table for "Mandy."
"Mandy" is the family GPS navigator.
"We started calling it Mandy because that's the name of the voice we picked from the menu that gives directions," Hafer said. "Mandy became part of the family. We'd joke driving around that 'Mandy says go this way,' and 'Mandy will get us there.' But that thing saved our skins several times when we got lost."
Sales Grew As Prices Fell
Until last year, GPS navigators were mainly tools used by campers, hikers or pilots willing to pay $500 to $1,000 for the gadgets, which were often difficult to use and weren't meant for urban areas.
Then last holiday season, the market for GPS exploded.
Prices for some models fell below $200, a key tipping point for many consumers. Shipments rose from 2 million in 2006, to 9 million in 2007 amid a blitz of marketing.
Manufacturers like Garmin, Magellan, Mio and TomTom introduced more intuitive touch-screen models that were easier to use and had computerized voices to speak out turn-by-turn directions. In the Tampa Bay area, just type "Publix" onto a GPS screen and most models will automatically find the nearest grocery store and offer the fastest route to it.
Amid millions spent on GPS advertising, "They became one of the most hyped products in the U.S. leading up to the holidays in 2007," said Dominique Bonte, an analyst at ABI Research. "They went absolutely mainstream."
GPS sales now stand at the same point that smart phones such as BlackBerries did two years ago.
At the same time, cellular phone companies are quickly adding GPS navigation as an add-on feature to their phones, opening up a market for hundreds of millions of devices to give directions.
"It's amazing - the feeling of getting lost will disappear when everyone has a phone or a GPS," Bonte said.
Voice Talent Made GPS Relatable
A big part of GPS's market success came from work in the more human side of the product - the voices the gadgets used to speak out directions. The first speaking models came out in 2001 and used synthetic computerized voices. They worked, but were not natural and too often seemed mechanically abrasive to consumers.
So companies such as Garmin scoured the globe for voice talent that would lend a human touch in male and female versions.
"There are definitely people who prefer taking directions from a female voice, or a male voice," said Jessica Myers, a spokeswoman for Garmin. The company recruited male and female actors with voices that sounded American, British, Australian, etc.
That included Karen Jacobsen, an Australian singer and voice actress.
"I was doing telephone voice mail systems, Movietone, TV ads for car companies, hotels, fast food, almost anything in Australia," Jacobsen said. For Garmin, she spent three weeks in a New York recording studio speaking numbers, words and phrases like "Turn right," "Bear left," and "You have reached your destination." Once plugged into a final product, a computer would stitch her voice snippets together into coherent directions.
She took extra care speaking one word - "Recalculating." That word pops up when a driver does not follow the prescribed route, either through confusion or rebellion. The devices typically take a second to come up with a new route to the destination and say "recalculating" during the gap.
Jacobsen said she likes to think she prevents arguments between couples over which way to go. "I will always stay calm when you are frustrated and make a wrong turn. When I say 'recalculating' in that very matter of fact voice, you know it's all being taken care of. I will get you where you are going, and I know all the back roads."
That human element is no small matter.
When consumers listen to that voice, day in/day out, it becomes highly personal, even for people who don't expect it.
"At first I had selected a voice on the phone called 'Michele,'" said Suri Surinder, Verizon's senior vice president and general manager for the Southeast region. "It's funny, but when she would say 'recalculating,' there was almost a note of reproach. I switched to a voice called 'Emily.'"
For those still unhappy with their device's built-in voice selection, some companies provide downloadable files so celebrities such as John Cleese, Curt Schilling or Mr. T can tell you where to go.
It Can Take Faith To Follow
On a more practical level, Surinder said his GPS has brought one invaluable thing: liberation. He moved here in September from New Jersey and is getting used to the road layout.
"Tampa has so many roads that change names," Surinder said. "At one Hillsborough intersection Sheldon goes one way, Memorial goes another. But I'm never getting lost going anywhere - that's priceless."
Sometimes that sense of liberation only comes after taking a leap of faith - to trust a piece of electronics more than one's own sense of direction.
It happened for Keith Ferstl of Tampa on a dark road in Tennessee.
"I had a really early flight, and it was 2:30 in the morning when I left my hotel," Ferstl said. He typed "Knoxville airport" into his GPS, which started routing him on dark, country, two-lane roads. "I'm thinking 'Man, I sure hope this thing knows where it's going, because I don't have a clue where I am,'" he recalls. "Then, all the sudden, there were the airport lights and the tower. I was sold after that. ... I just don't worry anymore, I follow directions."
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Ryan diggin the crib scene.
Ryan "broke in" the crib on Tuesday night by being our first overnight guest in Baby Kaz's crib. We had to lower the mattress all the way down though, so don't worry, the picture was taken before he slept in it. :) I believe he liked it just fine. He slept thru the night, and didn't wake up until 6:58. I didn't sleep very well, however, because I was afraid he might wake up and freak out and not know where he was. He did great though.
We had SO MUCH FUN with him! He is 9 months old, and he is pulling up on EVERYTHING and into EVERYTHING! We have a lot of toys in Baby Kaz's room, but his favorite was THE TRASHCAN, and climbing up on his suitcase to climb onto the couch. He also really liked playing with Miles' dog leash.
Miles and Rockin Ryan are BFF'S!
A synoposis of our day:
I met Karen (one of my BFF'S, a BRILLIANT photographer, oh, and Ryan's mom) at Chili's at noon. We had lunch, and then went to my house so she could drop off all Ryan's baby paraphenalia (he has a lot of "stuff") and then she could go.
She left around 2 or so. Ryan adjusted well to her leaving, I don't think he really realized what was happening. There was a lot of "new stuff" to explore at our house.
He was INTO EVERYTHING! Wow..I had really forgotten how you can't take your eyes off them for ONE SECOND or they can get into trouble really quickly! It was a gorgeous day, so I put him in my ergo and went for a walk to feed the ducks. He liked that a lot. 3 cheers for the egro, too, as Ryan is a big kiddo at 20 something pounds, and he was easy to carry. In fact, I told Karen to keep my ergo and test it out with Ryan, because I think she needs one.
WOW, who is the babe with the ergo? Why is she still in her yoga clothes?
We came back home, and I thought we'd put the Wiggles in. Sean loved the Wiggles, and I haven't gotten to listen to them in a while. Karen thought they were kinda creepy, but I told her she has to warm up to them. :)
Ryan didn't seem to notice the Wiggles that much, but he wanted to get into everything and throw everything off the coffee table. I had to tell him NO NO a few times as he was trying to lift my dumbbells in the exercise room (His mom is "freakishly strong" by the way, so I think he might be too). He doesn't like being told no, and he cried like a big baby. I was TRYING to watch Oprah and Dr. Oz to learn the secrets of staying young, but Ryan wasn't in the mood for Oprah and he was trying to get into things that were "not good choices". It's really quite difficult to get much done with "wild baby on the loose". I grabbed some crackers (his favorite snack lately) and into the ergo we went for another walk. We walked about 5 minutes up the street when he fell asleep. It was really quite precious~that Ergo ROCKS, let me tell you. I love that thing!
Sean got home from after school sports and we had to leave for soccer practice. It was then I noticed that I had missed Ryan's 3:30 bottle. No wonder he was getting so cranky..DUH! I gave him a bottle and he INHALED IT. His bedtime was 7, but we had soccer practice so I figured he could fall asleep if he wanted too. On the way to soccer, Sean sang to him in the back seat. It was the most precious thing ever. He asked me if I knew any more "soft religious songs" to sing, because he had already sang Silent Night, Jesus Loves Me, and Amazing Grace. Ryan was babbling back to him, and my heart melted. :) Ryan did not sleep at soccer, he had too much fun watching the kids. We got so much attention from people too. A few people were like OH MY GOSH, YOU GOT YOUR BABY!!! It was quite funny. :)
Anyway, we made it home, and Sean sang to him the whole way home too. He will be the sweetest big brother ever I think. Sweaty Sean really wanted to give him a bottle after his bath, and Ryan just LOVED him. He did not seem to mind that Sean smelled like a gross sweaty boy.
Sean and Ryan are "buds". This was before Ryan "urped" and grossed Sean out.
Ryan was a trooper and slept thru the night like a champ. He also went down very easily too, probably because he was 2 hours past his bed time, but HEY, he was on "vacation".
The next morning, Sean wanted to stay home from school to play with Ryan. I had a hard time getting him movitated to get dressed and get out the door. It was more fun to play with Ryan. Next year, we have to be at school 30 minutes earlier than we do now, and it's a 30 minute longer drive, AND we'll have Baby Kaz. That should be good fun.
Ryan will be walking soon I think. He is very strong and loves to walk holding onto your hands.
The only thing that did Sean in was that Ryan "urped" on the way to school. Sean called him a "disgusting little kid" and wanted to throw the napkin out the window that he used to wipe Ryan's face off. LOL I had to explain that baby's spit up, and it just happens, and it's NOT throw up. It was also REALLY funny at school because people saw me with the Ergo and again thought, DID SHE GET HER BABY? BUT SHE HASN'T GONE TO KAZAHSTAN YET! It was hilarious. Kids from Sean's class came home and told their parents that Sean's mom had a baby at school. LOL
I know this is getting way to long, and it's time to wrap it up. Ryan's mommy, Karen, came home and we took Ryan to the beach. It was great fun, and we were almost attacked by pigeons who wanted to eat Ryan's cracker. He would not give it up though, he is a double fisted cracker eater. I hope this is not indicactive of him being a double fisted beer drinker in college.
I am so grateful that Karen and Mike trusted us with their precious son, and Ryan buddy..I MISS YOU ALREADY!! We had fun with you, and I love you little buddy! I can't wait for you to meet your future Kazakh princess girlfriend!!!
What a face..He is also wearing my Chicago marathon hat.
Gotta love going to the beach in Feb!
Throwing sand and eating sand is GOOD FUN!
Yay!! I hear I'm getting a new Kazakh girlfriend this summer and we can be beach bums together! Bring me a Kazakh beer, babe!
Monday, February 4, 2008
Oh, it's the little things in life that bring me great joy. I've been searchin for a bookshelf for Baby Kaz's room. I even posted to the yahoo group about recommendations and I got a lot of great advice, and some good websites that I wasn't aware of. However, I finally found "the one" at Target, of all places. I just ordered it today, so when it's delivered and perfectly placed in her room, I will take a photo so you can see. :)
I found so many cute ones, but they were either too big, too tall, wrong color, or just not what I was wanting. I think this one will be perfect, but if it's not, that's the great thing about Target.com...they're easy to do returns with.
I find myself wandering thru the kiddo aisles, touching all the clothes, missing the daughter I haven't yet met. I haven't bought anything else though-yay me! Of course, I have so much that I don't need another thing, but I'm still proud of my self control.
Stay tuned for my next update...Baby Kaz's crib will be "broken in" by our first spend the night guest tomorrow night. He is a real cutie and his mom is entrusting me to babysit while she goes to a photography seminar in Orlando. We are so excited! It's a slumber party! Let's hope he doesn't freak out and sleeps....He is a 9 month old adorable little boy named Ryan. :) He is my buddy and I am his "favorite Aunt Susan". I hope he remembers that when his mom leaves tomorrow.
Here is a picture of us at lunch last week. He is so darn cute!!
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Last night, Suzanne and Matt, you know, the most organized pre-adoptive parents in the entire earth, ( :) ) hosted a get together at their house. Even Karen, from Minneapolis, flew in for it! It was so great to meet her in person! We also met Kristin and Cary, who live in Tampa. Shannon couldn't come, as she was moving, and Sandi had a surprise 40th in Orlando with her family and friends, so they weren't there. We missed them, but that just gives us an excuse to get together again!! We had such a fun time. Of course, Matthew made a traditional Kaz rice dish, that was pretty good! We all watched a DVD they had purchased, "Journey to Jemima" that featured a family who traveled to Kaz to adopt their daughter. There was NOT a dry eye in the room, even Sean got teary eyed. It was very emotional.
I got to see first hand the lovely room that Suzanne and Matt have lovingly prepared for their child or children. The pictures honestly don't do the room justice. It was amazing. The ceiling is painted with glow in the dark stars. In the daytime, there are clouds covering the entire room. It was so cool! They have a killer rocker too that I would love to get. Baby Kaz's room is to small to fit a rocker, but I liked that rocker a lot better than the glider I had for Sean, and I think it would fit in our living room nicely. Joe really dug their love seat/recliner because he and Sean could sit together in it and watch football. :) We may be visiting Leather Express in the near future to check it out! I have no shame-I will be a copycat!
Suzanne is truly an INCREDIBLY gifted artist and has a different and wonderful paint color in each room. Matt has all these instruments from Tuba's to wind chimes to Bongo's.
As we were leaving, Sean told me, "They will be really great parents. Matt is so funny and Suzanne is such a wonderful artist. She can do a lot of art things, and her kids will like that a lot, and Matt can show them music." It was really cute.
Oh, the hospitable Ruley's even gave us all a Kaz flag "to go" and also gave us each 2 wrapped gifts...each of us got 2 books that she has also purchased herself from her extensive library. I got "Sippy Cups are not for Chardonney" (hilarious) and Love and Logic Magic..When kids leave you speechless. That was perfect since I am dealing with a way sassy 9 year old right now.
I feel so blessed to have met so many new and wonderful friends on this incredible journey. I am so excited for us to be able to get our children together and they can all have that Kaz connection in common, while they're growing up as "American kids".
Oh, the introductions: in below picture:
On the left..Matt, and next to him is Cary
In the front, we have Suzanne in the pretty green sweater, Susan (that's me) , Joe (my hubby) and Kristen (she is married to Cary)
Then we have Sean, holding the Kaz flag, and Karen, or Saren, all the way from Minneapolis.
Thanks again Ruley family for hosting a wonderful evening. I agree with Sean, you will be wonderful parents. AND, It's not that hormone Suzanne was wearing that made me think that. (Suzanne offered to share her hormone with me but i declined)