Scotland, 2006, part 3

While Jesse was gone, Liam and I became intimately familiar with Fort Augustus’ playground, located conveniently just minutes down the lane. Even after J returned, I think we spent a little time here every day. It was a great place for Liam to run off some energy, without constantly being told to stay close or hold our hands. In the evenings, Liam and his dad would go play while I made supper, or at least until the midges came out.

This is a view of most of the playground. See the swings in the foreground. LIAM HATES SWINGS. Jesse and I quite enjoyed them, though, as the seats were wide enough to accommodate our…mmm…errr… The skateboard setup in the background, however, provided many hours of entertainment for Liam.

Up, over, and down. Up, over, and down. Over and over and over. Liam really enjoyed, and was actually running rather than walking sedately, as it looks in this pic. In fact, just a second later he skidded, slipped, and bonked his head on the downward ramp. He sat up going “ow ow ow” but was quickly on his feet again.

He also enjoyed the slide. It was a rather pathetic slide, but he didn’t seem to care. He was more taken with the little playhouse at the top.

Most of our vacation was spent doing the simple family things you’ve seen thus far. The next post will be an actual tourist site thing, so stay tuned. It was probably the only tourist activity we did!

Adoption Update

For reasons that most of you already know, we’ve decided to change the country from which we are adopting. We are now signed with an agency and well on our way to adopting a child from Guatemala. Since changing our country made the name of our old adoption blog obsolete, we’ve moved. But this one should stay; we went for generic naming just in case we have to make another move down the road. Let’s hope not. There is a link to our adoption blog in the top lefthand box for future reference.

Ohlsson Adoption

Liam Update

Tuesday was, apparently, a really hard day for Liam at school. When I picked him up at the school gate he was just shuddering with sobs, and his eyes were purple-rimmed from crying. Unfortunately, his regular teacher wasn’t there and the other teacher doesn’t speak any English. And didn’t take the time to speak with me in French and tell me what was going on. I don’t know if he was like that all day, or if it was only recent and due to another potty-accident. Or if someone hurt him, or he got yelled at… I suppose I should be fair and note that she had, at the time I spoke with her, sole supervision of about fifteen children under the age of four, and couldn’t really spare me a lot of time.

I know that when you send your kids to school (ok, nursery or preschool, in this case), you have to give up the idea that you’re going to know every single detail of their day. But it makes me feel so helpless and… well, just plain bad, when I am left to just wonder why my child is in hysterics. Tues-Wed night he slept just horribly, and I can’t help but think his super-clingy-ness in the middle of the night and refusal to take his eyes off me, might have something to do with the problems he’s having separating from me to attend school. I kept him home today because of the horrible night of sleep we both had, and I think he needed the break. Tomorrow when I drop him off at school I’ll speak to his regular teacher and see if I can pin down any details of Tuesday’s events.

Here are a few pics of Liam from his much-needed day off. He’s sporting his brand new sneakers from Gramma M. You can’t tell in the pics, but they’re the kind that flash lights when he walks. Hence the jiggy little dance he’s doing. Incidentally, the fire truck in his hand is a fave gift from his Gramma B.

what the 집!

The symbol above apparently is Korean for house. At least according to WorldLingo. I used them today to help translate a letter requesting a document into Korean. The Korean addendum was just a nicety; I’m fervently hoping that they have someone in the office that can read English, as I’m pretty sure it will translate to gibberish. (that is not a slight to WorldLingo; that’s just the nature of free online translation tools. have I covered myself now?)

My husband was divorced in Korea many, many years ago. We have the original divorce decree, in Korean, as well as a certified English translation. You’d think that would be great, wouldn’t you? Nope, say all my knowledgeable adoption cohorts, shaking their heads in unison at my naiveté.

Oh, how amusing the young recruits are.
They think this is simple.
They think they’re prepared.
They don’t know firsthand why we’re all gong prematurely gray and ranting about how long it takes.
But they will.

That’s right folks. Just because you have the original, God’s-honest-truth document, doesn’t mean it’s going to do you any good. For Guatemala, all documents must be issued within the last two years.

So today I sent off, as per instructions on the US embassy site in the ROK, a money order for $3 to the family court in Seoul. I’m taking alot on faith here — that their website is updated regularly regarding prices, policy, and addresses. I won’t even go into the problems I had mailing it from our local USPS. Let’s just say that if the divorce decree gets to us anytime in the next few months, I’ll eat my hat. Well, I don’t have a hat, but I’ll eat a box of Belgian chocolates.

School Days

I’ve been looking forward to, and dreading, Liam’s first day of school for sometime. I know it’s going to be great for him to be around other kids, and other adults, and to get that social interaction he is so lacking. And I know it’ll be good for me to have a little time on my own, so I don’t have to take time away from him to clean or blog or whatever. But it’s quite difficult to turn your child over to someone with whom you can only converse on the most basic level. I imagine it would be just as difficult to turn him over to a fluent English speaker, but the communication barrier is the one I find most worrisome at the moment. I want to know every single detail of his day — from what he had at snack time, to how he played with the other children, to discipline/behavior issues. It’s very frustrating. Anyway, here are some shots from Liam’s first day of school.

Part of me wanted to dress him to the nines, but what the heck? He’s two and a half. He’s going to play hard all day, probably spill something on himself, wipe his dirty hands on his shirt, etc. So it was a t-shirt and jeans. He looks happier with this choice than he would have been in a dress shirt and shiny shoes, don’t you think?

Liam’s backpack is nearly as big as he is, but he insisted on wearing it. Don’t worry, it wasn’t heavy.

Although I’m a little anxious about how things are going to go, at this point Liam is all smiled at the idea of going to school.

When we arrived at the school, a number of other children were already there. Liam was a little hesitant, as is his nature, but after a few minutes he started playing with…. you guessed it, a tractor. I spoke with his teacher for a few minutes, making sure I had the necessary supplies for him. I left while he was distracted (I did NOT sneak out! don’t try to make me feel bad!) and worried about him all the way home. Actually, I must have been a little worried and flustered all morning:

When I got home I realized I had on two different sneakers! The teacher will probably take extra pains with Liam now that she knows his mom is “special.”

I spent some time cleaning and preparing lunch so Liam could have something to eat as soon as he got home. When I picked him up at noon, the other kids getting picked up ran our first; Liam came out holding the teacher’s hand. When he saw me he gave the biggest smile and hurled himself into my arms, refusing to let go. So I picked him up and held him while I spoke with his teacher. She said he cried for his Mama for about five minutes, but then he settled down and played with the others. He had one success and one accident, potty-wise. Apparently he either didn’t know how to ask for help or was too shy or too busy, but he didn’t make it in time the second time around. He was pretty upset by this, but seemed to have adjusted well.

On the way home he told me he liked school, he liked his teacher. I asked him if he liked the other kids and he said, “No, they are loud!” I imagine once he’s more comfortable in a group setting he’ll be hollering along with all the others. He tells me he played with the tractor and other toys, and played on the slide. Also, “Sat at table to eat and drink apple juice.” I asked if he did any school work, but he says, “No, just play.” Over lunch at home he said he cried because he was sad and missed me. I told him I missed him too and that it would get easier. After lunch I flipped on the tele (I know, don’t lecture me) and let him watch one of his favorite shows. Within five minutes:

Scotland, 2006, part 2

We had no sooner settled in to the cottage then Jesse had to take off again. He had to return to Belgium for four days because of an interview for a civilian job. Liam and I spent that time getting re-acquainted with the Fort Augustus area. It’s a very picturesque little town, with the Caledonian Canal running right through it.

This is the old railroad abutment over the river Oich, as taken from the path to the Rarebreeds Croft.

We spent A LOT of time at the Rarebreeds Croft. Why? Not because Liam’s interested in the animals, because, aside from the bunnies, he couldn’t care less. He was, however, extremely anxious to see their tractors every day.

a Highland Cow.

Hebridean Sheep. Doesn’t THAT look painful?!

Scotland, 2006, part 1

And now for the long awaited Scotland post!

I’m sure many of you will be disappointed in the surprising lack of pictures we took on this trip. We always meant to, but we were too busy enjoying ourselves to bother. You should refer to last year’s posts if you need a refresh on the lovely scenery.

31 August — we left the house for the ferry. Liam through a tremendous fit as we were trying to get him in the car. Great, I thought, this is going to be a great trip! Surprisingly, once we were moving he calmed down and enjoyed the ride. And he loved the ferry! Last year we cheaped out and got a standard inside room. This year we got the family club room, which is apparently where the elite stay! I just got it so we’d have a little more room than last year. Imagine our surprise when we opened the door to an actual room! There were still three bunks, but in place of the fourth bottom bunk was a couch (of sorts). There was floor space for Liam to play!!!!!!!!!! There was a television, and even a mini-bar, completely stocked with complimentary booze, to our delight. To Liam’s delight there was a large fruit bowl as well. In addition, we had two windows (real windows) overlooking the water.

We were very glad the room was so good, as we found the deck a very non-child friendly place to be. Aside from the fact that it was crammed with people, the railings on this boat were no where near adequate to provide safety for little ones. Last year I was jumpy when he walked around on deck, but in reality I knew he couldn’t fall overboard, as the railings were so well designed. This year… heck, I could have fallen overboard. So we stayed in side on both crossings. Anyway, great food on board, but not the easiest place to corral a two year old. The ferry also had a children’s play area, which Liam loved. We loved that there were tables set outside the playroom with a television monitor so you could see what was going on inside the play area.

1 September — After a fairly unrestful night (Liam was too excited by the waves out the window to sleep), we got off the boat and headed north for Moffat, our stopping place for the night. The trip was pretty uneventful, save for many potty stops. We stayed in the Bridge House family room, which was another perfect choice for young children. There were plenty of toys to keep Liam entertained, movies for him to wind down to, etc. Only downside was that they didn’t serve dinner until 7PM, which was 8PM to Liam’s internal clock; also, although the food was great, it was too fancy of an atmosphere to take kids.

2 September — Another poorly-passed night, as we had difficulty pulling Liam away from the toys that were all too readily available. As I recall he also woke in the middle of the night quite disoriented, and spent the rest of the night in our bed. Little did we know at that time that this was the beginning of a long period of non-rest for us! Sleeping patterns just got more and more unstable throughout the trip. After breakfast we hopped back in the car and made our way to Fort Augustus. Traffic was horrendous and it took us twice the time we expected to get there. It was particularly dreadful around the city of Glasgow, where we sat for over an hour. And, naturally, Liam had to pee. Eventually, we did an Ohlssonized version of the Chinese fire drill: I jumped out of the passenger seat, ran to the back of the car and got Liam’s little potty. Meanwhile, Jesse was pulling my seat forward. I jumped into the back next to Liam, put the potty on the seat and sat on the floorboards. We got Liam out and onto the potty just in time. Seconds from disaster! The people in the car next to us had a pretty good laugh.

It took us seven hours to make what was supposed to be a three hour trip (we did stop for about an hour around lunch time). Once in Fort Augustus, we found the directions to the cottage, which had sounded perfectly easy to understand, to be a little vague. It took us three tries, but we finally managed to find the place. And it was perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Located on a tiny, tiny lane on the outskirts of town, it was just what we needed. Liam will give you a tour.

Come on in! As you can see, Liam made himself right to home.

Here’s Mom and Dad’s room…

Mom was right at home in the teensy tiny kitchen.

Living room and dining room all in one! So I can get addicted to the idea of watching t.v. while I eat!

Getting in a bit of a workout.

Well, being a tour guide and working out really wore Liam out. Guess you’ll have to come back in a day or so to find out about our further adventures in Scotland!


I have been so completely obsessed with paperwork for weeks now. And now… I wait. Yesterday we completed our physicals and mailed off the I600-A to CIS. The homestudy questionnaire is done and submitted. So I wait.

I wait to get the big, juicy, information-packed package from the agency, telling me what I need to rush around and do next.
I wait to get a call from the home study provider telling me what’s wrong, what’s right, and when she’ll come.
I wait (in great trepidation) for word from CIS. I’m hoping that I’ll hear nothing and simply receive that piece of golden paper saying, yes, you’re approved. I worry they’ll find some “i” not dotted or “t” not crossed and we’ll have to submit all over again.

Please, somebody, give me something to do!!!!!!!!! I should, I know, take advantage of this time to whip my house into shape. But somehow after weeks of sitting on my keister in front of a computer, I’ve become brain-charged and body-lazy. And the task is too monumental for words.

change of heart

Yesterday we came to a very important decision in our adoption process; we decided to switch countries. Although we love the idea of adopting from Hungary — the care the children receive, the ease of travel, the bonding period, the children themselves — we were becoming increasingly downhearted about the long wait times for a younger child and the little information available due simply to the few adoptions that actually take place. We DO want a younger child, at least younger than our 2.5 yr old son, but ideally as young as possible. After much discussion and reading and searching searching searching, we have decided to adopt instead from………………………………………….



Yes, I know. Everyone adopts from Guatemala. But, although always being a couple who wants to go against the grain, with something as important as our child we find we really do want the predictability that going with such a huge program can give. I think the primary criteria for us are:

1. health/well-being of the child
2. ability to adopt a younger child
3. predictability of program
4. speed of program
5. cost

Guatemala, like Hungary, places most of their children in foster homes rather than orphanages — this will obviously help to minimize the institutional effects. As will adopting a younger child, in addition to allowing us to maintain birth order and allow us to add to our family as naturally as possible. The sheer number of children adopted from Guatemala every year speaks to the program’s predictability, and it is one of the quickest programs available. The cost, I admit, is a downer. Realistically, this will cost us twice what a Hungarian adoption would. We hemmed and hawed about that a lot, but the reality is that our child and our family is worth the cost.

Today we signed with Reaching Out Thru International Adoption and have already been in contact with one of their Guatemalan caseworkers. Tomorrow we will mail our I600-A, and I just now submitted our home study questionnaire to our social worker. We are on our way!

…incidentally, I’ll obviously have to change the name and format of this blog. I’m just trying to figure out if there is a redirect available…



After a couple wonderful but exhausting weeks, we are home once more. I’ve completed most of the homestudy questionnaire — all we’re lacking is the financial info et al that I didn’t have available in Scotland. I should have it completed and sent to our social worker by Monday. Monday is also my self-imposed deadline for the CIS paperwork. I still have a few questions about some of that, but should get it worked out just fine. We’ll go for our fingerprints on Thursday (when we have our psych evals) or Friday (when we have our medical check).

Not much time to write at the moment. Yesterday I spent unpacking. Today was paperchasing — both regular (bills, statements, etc.) and adoption (copying and filing all the forms that came in while we were gone). Tomorrow I MUST complete the homestudy questionnaire and order J’s birth certificate, which somehow got left out of the loop.