hahahaha!

yes, it has been a very VERY long time since I have written on this blog.

Over a year I believe.

But I am still alive!!

So… if you are reading this you might be wondering ‘what happened to Zobot??”

I am imagining the possibilities running through your mind:

  • kidnapped by aliens…
  • house renovations have gone horribly wrong resulting in Zobot and Husbot being crushed by house never to be heard from again…

or the big one

  • we were matched with our baby and were suddenly to busy to blog because we have been chasing a toddler around… (!!!)

well….

the answer….

none of the above.

Which is good news in terms of the house crushing and aliens thing. But bad news in terms of the baby thing.

The answer is much MUCH more boring then the ones listed above. I just got too busy. :-(

I am not sure if I mention it a lot but my work is really busy and very important to me. I look after around 20 projects on the Thai Burma border. Programs with Burmese refugees and migrant workers who live in Thailand. Last year because of  changes in Burmas laws to allow trade unions this has changed everything. For the first time in a long time Labour Activist in Burma can organise without the threat of being jailed (as they have been in the past with many spending years as political prisoners for labour organising activities. Or having to flee to exile to live).

So while this has been very exciting it has expanded my work and made me a lot busier. but it is very exiting stuff: http://www.apheda.org.au/news/1370491459_26690.html

But no…. no baby. not yet.

we are still waiting.

waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting…… same old story.

It has been over 3 years since our file went to Thailand, And it will be 5 years in October since we started this whole process back in 2008.

But even though I sound glib when people ask me “any news?” and I say “no… no news… still waiting”

I dont feel glib.

It will be my Birthday tomorrow and I feel crappy. I feel crappy that I am not a mother yet. I never thought I would be 36 (as I will be tomorrow) and not a mum. I want to cry.

 

 

So it has been a little while since I have posted a blog. But dont think this is because we have been doing nothing – the opposite in fact. You see after the builders finished their job on our house. What we discovered is that this is when we end up doing heaps of work – painting, landscaping (fixing up the front and back yard where it was ruined by the build), also unpacking those rooms that were stuffed to the gills with our things, building shelves, moving furniture, cleaning all the dust off EVERYTHING etc etc etc – you get the picture.

It is so helpful that this is also the period of the greatest changes in Burma since 1988, and work has become amazingly busy. So I am exhausted by work and then have to do stuff to the house on the weekends and evening. I am exhausted. Have been too exhausted to blog. It has been pretty much, come home from work, dinner/ walk Indai sit down in front of Masterchefzzzzzzzzzzzzz. totally Physically, mentally and yes, emotionally exhausted.

Why emotionally? Not because of the house. Of course it is because of the  adoption.

If you have a look at our ticker (in the left hand corner of this blog) you will see we have just past two years of waiting. Now remember this is two years of our file being in Thailand. This is what my ticker counts.

Before our file went to Thailand it took over 18 months from start to finished for us to get through the Australian approval system in our state (21 months when you add in some delays Husbot and I contributed). So our timeline looks like this;

  • Oct 08 – make contact with State adoption services to start the processes.
  • Dec 08 – attend adoption seminar
  • months and months in between – applications, meetings with social worker, all sorts of paper work made official by offical people etc etc
  •  May 2010 – letter of approval saying we are ‘deemed fit to be parents’
  • June 2010 – we prepare our file for Thailand
  • July 2010 – our file goes to Thailand
  • then… we wait.

But that timeline is only some of the story. Which is why I started this blog really, to try to record all the other stuff – the stuff inbetween the those dates that I am trying to record.

In the begining I went a bit nuts on the adoption education. I think in 2009 I read about every adoption book I could get my hands on. Books written by adoption experts, books written by adoptive parents, and books written by adult adoptees. It was great to learn. I also watched doccumentries etc – essentially anything about adoption I was interested in. I really wanted to see what the advice of adult adoptees was. Hustbot and I do not want to replicate mistakes of the past. We were keen to understand issues around attachment, bonding, multi-racial families, adoption language etc.

We also underwent an important process of a green tara puja to remove all the obsticles between us and our future baby.

By 2010 I was probably still reading but also I was very keen to connect with other people in a similar position to Husbot and I. By then I was reading blogs of people in the adoption community. I figured the best way to connect was to start my own blog! So I did and we started to get to know each other. I was already a member of ASIAC which is an adoption support group. But blogging really helped me to connect me to people in the virtual world. We also got to know people around this time through yahoo groups and then facebook groups – these have both been incredibly helpful.

During these first couple of years I had quite a few dreams and feelings about our future babies.

In 2011 I had started crafting, making little toys and things, as a way of creating a welcoming environment for our child. I worked on setting up a playroom etc. But along with this there other stuff going on as well.

Of course I have always known about stateless children, my work has been with Burmese refugees since 2006. Before that I have been working with the Tibetan community in exile in some way or another since 2000. But I was a bit intimidated by the adoption process at first that I just accepted all the stuff they say about hague process, due process etc. But in 2011 I really started to question things. I mean yes it is best for children to stay in their culture when they can sure, but in the Solomon Islands about half of the adoptions I encountered were people who genuinly were accepting those children into their families (the children usually came from their extended families) and the children were treated just the same as a biological child – raised the same, offered schooling etc. But the other half the adopted child was not treated the same, was instead treated like an unpaid labourer or house helper, not offered schooling and not entitled to the same inheritance. Both can be claimed to be cultural norms… so… in terms of the hague – either family would be preferenced before an international adopter.

Regarding Thailand, if there is a question about the long waiting times, the answer is usually “there are more waiting families then there are children available for adoption’ what is actually ment is that there is not enough of the ‘right’ children. From what people say there are not very many orphanages that the DSDW work with or ‘approve’. there are many that are outside of the system. All of the orphanages for abandoned Burmese chldren that I know are not under the DSDW, these children are stateless and their plight is more difficult.

Occasionally you hear of stateless children coming through for adoption via the DSDW program. I can only hope that the DSDW understands that Husbot and I would so love one of these children who have had such a hard start to life. I would love it if more stateless children could be considered for adoption – rather then the outcome that is most common for them. A young life spent entirely in an orphanage/ instutionalised environment and then to have to leave that environment when they are too old and become an ‘illegal’ migrant worker.

This year, we have been getting ready by getting our house ready. I have been meaning to post photos – some of it is looking really good now! But also the waiting has been getting harder. 3 families have withdrawn their files this year. All of them have either been waiting longer then husbot and I or else have been having other problems getting through the system. But still it is really sad. I really feel for them. It is also really disheartening. With each allocation or match we hear about we feel really happy for that family and also of course like things all work out in the end. But then of course when people feel they have to withdraw it actually is much more sad then the happyness of a match. All the waiting and hoping that this family has done… for nothing. As you can see – it is not just time, or money that people invest in this process (which is perhaps what the beurocrats think) but it is the massive emotional investment people make – nurseries/ play rooms made, toys bought or made, little faces imagined, the feeling you get when you can just feel your baby tugging at your legs or feel them heavy in your lap… when they are still just a distant hope. It is a big deal to give up that hope. not just that hope but all future hopes of a family. It is a really big deal.

So where are we in 2012? our file in Thailand for 2 years now?

well, we have a house that is now ready for a baby (almost) yet we have no baby. Do we feel closer? well, we should – in truth we are much more likely to get ‘the call’ this year (or next year) then in years past – we had buckly’s in years past. So I think we should be feeling positive.

But lets just say that after 2 years, or if we go all the way back to the begining, all the way to Oct 2008  then after 44 months of this process… it is a little bit hard to do cartwheels. We are just happy that we still feel positive enough to keep going!

I dont really think I dream about my babies any more. I mean I do have feelings about them (sitting on my lap – pulling on my leg etc) but no I dont seem to have dreams anymore. I dont know what that means. Maybe it means I need to be more procative? That I need to make my own destiny perhaps?

So I know a lot of sisters. It seems I know more sisters all the time! For some reason my family and many of my friends have had girl babies – and… more then one girl! Hence, all the sisters!

When I was little I soooo wanted a sister – all I had was a stinky brother LOL.

But now I understand that sisters can also be hard. (some sisters are stinky too!) or sometimes it is just hard to adjust to being a sister if before you were the only one in the family and had all of mum and dad’s attention.

Often when I am giving a handmade toy to a new baby, I also make something for their older sibling. Since I think sibling rivaliry is tough – especially on little kids.

So when I saw these dolls on Bit of Whimsy I thought they were perfect for some of the new big sisters and their very new little sisters. They are Mae and Baby dolls. I think they are gorgeous!

So I got to work, these are for my good friends daughters, big sister R and her new baby sister Y;

These dolly sister were going to go on a big journey once they were ready because my friend and her husband were taking their family back to Nepal to live for a year… so I had a deadline to get them ready.

 This both dolls are almost ready to go…

here they are! But they can’t go to Nepal without clothes…

The big sister is Asher Mae, and the baby sister is Mya Baby. I made them two skirts to wear depending on their mood (and the fashions in Kathmandu)

So cute!!

So cute that I had to make more right away!

I made these sisters for my cousins girls

As you can see they are both Mae dolls. Because N and E are big girls now – no babies.

So they are matching sisters (not twins) and their skirts match too, here is a close up.

 So you can see that Nelly Mae is in the blue Bunny skirt and Lottie Mae is in the green bunny skirt

And here are their other skirts, if they feel like a change.

so… what’s next? Something tells me there will be more Mae’s and Baby’s in the future!

yes. that is why it has been a case of long time no blog.

So I was in Thailand for 3 weeks, it was of course a work thing. I wrote a post about the first week but other stuff happened of course. Very exhausting stuff…

then when I returned to Australia it was with 2 colleagues from the Thai Burma border and we were in Sydney and Canberra together attending conferences, lobbying politicians, going to govt departments like AusAID and DFAT to try to get some important policy change to help people on the Thai Burma border. This was of course very exhausting stuff..

After all that, when my colleagues went back to Thailand I had more then a week at home – awesome! (you might think) surely now you can un-exhaust (I am aware that this is not a word… hahaha). But NO! it was not to be. Because remember that Husbot and I are renovating our house. So this week was spent;

  • finishing walls/skirting boards
  • painting
  • unpacking rooms filled with stuff into other rooms
  • moving furniture
  • more painting
  • building either new flat pack furniture or furniture we had taken apart to store during the renovation
  • cleaning stuff.

exhausing.

But it is all coming together. So once I am truely un-exhausted (I am MAKING that a word!) I will try to summon the energy to post some pictures. Because it is starting to look good and it really does feel like home now. :-)

So I have just finished a big week.

I have been hosting a study tour for a group of Australian unionists. As it is my job to inform people about the situation on the Thai Burma border and of course about our projects and project partners!

It has been a big week up here in Thailand for me. Making sure everyone was looked after, that we were getting from place to place and everything was worked out in advance so that their meetings had meaning and purpose. Lots and lots of work.

But it was a bigger week for the study tour participants – they were on a very steep learning curve. And although I am sure it was an enjoyable experience, because… how can you not love these smiles;

of some children at the Mae Tao Clinic;

and these cool old guys at Mae La camp;

and this gorgeous baby at the Shan camp;

But with all the eurphoria about the ‘changes’  in Burma at the moment. It was a lot to learn that aside from the election of Aung San Suu Kyi into Parliament there has been very little change for ordinary Burmese to experience.

In fact there has been for most people;

  • An increase in militarisation in their area.
  • An increase in violence against women and rape in ethnic areas by the Burmese military.
  • forced displacement of people from their villages due to mega-development projects such as dams and oil and gas mines (where the profits of the development go to companies owned by ex-military and the electricity from the projects overseas to China)

The group saw first hand the results of these realities;

the treatment board at the prosthetics department of the Mae Tao Clinic

And the prosthetics for all the people on the board.

There was more to see and it was a big big week. It is important for peope to understand what is going on up here. There are many many people who genuinley need help. And the whole worlds attention seems to be turning away. To be pretenting that the election of Aung San Suu Kyi into a minor role in parliament can overnight undo 60 years of violence and opression.

It cant. There is still so much more to do.

So to change tact a little this is not about the renovation…. phew!

Because I have been doing other things. Yay!

yes, while we have been stuck all squishy like living our entire life in our bedroom I have still been doing some sewing.

during this renovation I have made the funny beetle bugs, and Hecktor Girrafe and also these little guys: Koby Koala!

A friend of mine from the Solomons is pregnant with her first baby, and another friend of mine is expecting her second any day now – but when the baby is born she and her family will go to Nepal to live with his family for a while. So when I was thinking of what to make for these new little babies I though, a Koala! Give these babies a little piece of Australia. :-)

I decided to make one for Teeny H also, for her 1st birthday – which is coming up soon. And of course I had to make two to go into the playroom and wait for their little friends (my future children). So that makes 5 in total.

the pattern comes from Bit of whimsy Dolls and I think it is super cute!

So I got too it making the Koala’s;

The Bit of Whimsy designer used chenille on Koala’s trim (ears and tummy bit) so I was not sure what to use. I had polar fleece left over from this project from ages ago;  (Bunnies) but I also bought some Faux Fur thinking I would try it.

But at first I was too scared to try the faux fur – it just looked too difficult to work with.

So I used the polar fleece for the first ones – here is how they turned out;

But I was not too happy with how they turned out. Too babyish!! Which is kind of a weird thing to think, since I mostly make toys for baby’s LOL.

But still I like the toys to look a little bit funkier then that. a bit less babyland/babyworld/babyuniverse and a bit more groovy.

So I got brave and took on the faux fur:

It wasnt that hard to work with after all;

even the ears were ok in the end;

of course I was a bit more worried when it came to the sewing it all together step;

When you have the two pieces of material for the ears (faux fur) and then two pieces for the head of the Koala, it gets a bit thick.

But then it all worked out! Look at this little guy – he is almost done! Just needs his legs;

For some reason I thought it would be hilarious to photograph these Koala’s in our gum tree, :-)

I am not sure where this one will end up, I would love to keep him for the playroom – but maybe he will go to the Solomon Islands?

This one is for Teeny H, for her birthday! I hope she likes it!

This one is absolutly going to stay in the playroom for our future baby – I think he is gorgeous!

This one might go to Nepal? we will have to see…

 And this is the last one I made! The sleepy one…

And here I put two together in the branch, to have a Koala cuddle :-)

Just like the real thing, huh? LOL

even if they are going well. You know what I mean?

I don’t want to complain too much because aside from two little issues where there was a wrong door ordered (door drama) and some things not measured out right on the plans (architect fail) things have been going really smoothly.

But I am going to say about the sucky things now because it is real and I heard criticisms where blogers are accused of only promoting the positive things in their lives. Like, never showing their house looking untidy, talking about their relationships as if they never have any problems etc

I tend to think adoption blogs keep things pretty real. Almost because there is no other choice, adoption is all about ups and downs.

So I should be real about this too. I dont want anyone doing a reno thinking it will be completly easy. We have great builders who we communicate well with and so far everything is pretty much happening on schedule BUT….

I don’t love living like this;

It is pretty cramped living in the bedroom. That little camping table is; where we work on the computer, where we eat, where I do my sewing etc etc.

You can see that Indai is there – but she is only with us on the weekends :-( for the rest of the week she is at my mum and dads having a holiday. We miss her and we are getting tired of not having her around.

When she is with us she gets a bit bored, because our fences are down etc so she can only go outside if we are with her. She does like sniffing around the new extension but…

In general I dont think she is all that impressed.

"erm... no, this is not fun for me"

But mostly it is not fun for us – because we miss her so much. Weekend visitation is just not enough. It sucks.

Other things that suck are slightly less emotional. Like that the front of my house looks like this:

Where those piles of stuff are, we used to have a nice lawn and garden.

This is our driveway;

Niiiiccee! huh! Such a beautiful feature at the front of my house. No wonder people seem to be throwing rubbish into our yard.

And here is our backyard :-(

so sad.

The playroom now looks like this:

Because it is storing so much stuff. But it used to be like this (evolution of a playroom)  but having a little baby sanctuary place where I came to prepare my heart and mind for our future bubs it not possible at the moment :-( totally sucks.

There is dust all over our house. All. The. Time.

sometimes it is full on grit under your feet – THAT SUCKS! You are probably thinking ‘if it was my house I would vaccum all the time’ yeah. But it does not help all that much. It only takes off the top layer. You need to vaccum AND mop. And really who has the time for that? So we have developed a method for keeping the dust and grit away from upstairs at least. And we vaccum, or sweep when it is all getting to much of course. But really the battle with dust will not be won until the build is over. It is impossible. and it sucks.

Other then that the last sucky thing is kind of silly! Our builders are always on site SO EARLY.

I am an early riser, always have been. But even if I am up and in the shower by 6am (which I am every day) I am not happy about having people in my house by 6:45… like there are every day while this build is on. They can not start making noise until 7am… so they get here at 6.40am, 6.45am and prepare things… so right on the dot of 7am they can do this;

damn diligent builders! LOL, I know, I know it is a silly complaint to have builders who show up early every day. But like I said at the begining, this is an indulgently wingey blog post.  And there are many many days when I dont feel like being dressed and ready to go by 6.45 am! I am sure you understand deep down in your heart.

So yeah, even though this build is exciting and going really really well. Some parts are just plain sucky – and I think there is nothing that can be done about it. Lucky we do not have too much longer to go! :-)

So this one might not be very exciting for people other then Husbot and I. But it was pretty exciting for Husbot and I. The roof.

We have had a shitty rainy summer this summer. And so all through our build we have had people asking us “how is the raid affecting your build?” and “have you had much rain delay?” To be honest we have not. Our builders are champions and the bricklayers had some internal weather sensing mechanism that allowed them to predict when a cloudy morning was actually going to fine up. So things kept moving.

But the day our builders were putting up the roof trusses was a horrible, cold, wet and windy day. I mean it was awful. We kept telling our builders to go home but they were like “we have our raincoats…”

here is what they did on one of the most miserable days of the year;

when we asked why they didnt go home they were like “well, apart from the weather we had the best day… every cut was perfect, everybeam went in right, great day… apart from the weather”  (undersatement of the year)

 you can see how wet the floor got…

next the electrician came along to put the wires in for the lights, ceiling fans, power switches, smoke alarms etc. It was pretty hard to decide where every. single. switch and light bulb was going to go when you are looking at an empty shell of a room.

but here it is;

Next the colourbond sheets went on. the rest of our house has concrete tiles. But this section has colourbond – because it is too flat for tiles, since it sits under the top deck.

so it looks pretty good right?

But most important it works! Now when there are horrible, cold, windy, rainy days we dont have to worry – we have a roof!

so yeah, probably not the most exciting update. But we were pretty  thrilled to have a roof over our new bit. I cant remember what week we were up to by the time the roof went on – maybe week 6? or around then.

It looks a bit dark in there doesnt it? Well that is partly because it was a dark day AND because most of these photos we take at dusk (when we get home from work around 6.30 /7pm) but also because with the brick on the wall and no gyprock on the ceiling and walls, no floorboards etc the light is all getting sucked away, not bounced around. It should lighten up soon.

So, my last post detailed the complete knock down of the back of my house (its a knock down), but fear not! It was all part of the plan! What plan? The plan for a better house, detailed here (so, what’s the plan?)

You will see from looking at that plan that the back part of our houer (from the old dining room) was going to become wider to give us a big open plan room back there. This room will house the kitchen, dining and living areas and a new and additional room will be built onto the back of the house to house the laundry.

Here is how the side of the house was before. You can see that we have about 3 meters between our house and our fence.For this build we will only be moving about 1.5 meters closer to the fence, still alowing a good gap between us and our neighbours.

because the laundry was getting built onto the back of the house, this garden at the back had to be removed. :-( I hated seeing any of my garden go.

our vegie patch had to be destroyed too. :-( but that was just to give the builders enough room to work… here it is before:

and after when the trenches for the new walls are built.

 like what we have done with the place? hahahahaha

I promise it will get better! And we will re build the vegie patch when this whole thing is over.

so next the bricks arrived and the brick delivery guy decided to use his machine to destroy our front lawn!

but apparently building is a very destructive thing, so what can you do. Add, front landscaping to our post build to do list!

At least now there were bricks we could see walls appear!

As you can see all the walls down here are double brick. It is an expensive choice but it is the best choice. It has good thermal mass properties, cool in summer, warm in winter.

all of the downstairs of our house is double brick so the choice was a no brainer for us. BUT the old ‘utility room’ which was an extention built by the previous owners was not double brick. And neither is the upstairs extension built by the previous owners. The difference in the thermal properties between upstairs and downstairs is noticable. VERY noticable. Upstairs gets very very hot in summer and is hard to warm up in winter. But we have already done some things to try to mitigate the problems upstairs, and will do some more in this build…. still avoiding the problems downstairs was top priority!

here are the walls going up!

Now it is starting to look like a house! (yes? no?) You can see here the difference between the old and new parts… there is our beautiful arch (between the old lounge and old dining rooms)

and then with some underflooring stuff down (we will be getting floorboards) and the windows in you can start to picture our home as our home, yes?

so, there we go! If you think Husbot and I were feeling excited at this stage (which was some weeks into the build – maybe a month into it) then imagine how we felt when the roof started going on and we no longer saw blue sky above our new lounge room! hehehe coming up soon…..

so. we are pretty close to finishing these renos. All we have left is for me to skip the country, head off to the land of smiles next week, and leave Husbot to deal with the Kitchen instalation. eeeaasy!

But if it wasnt for the unfortunate timing of my laptop dying you would have been ‘in the loop’ all the way along. Through every long suffering week, where Husbot and I have been living our entire existance in our bedroom while our house has been smashed apart and put back together. Wouldn’t that have been exciting! Really! Anyway I am going to try to catch these events up in a few photographic blog posts…

In case you’re not sure what we are doing to the place, it is all detailed here: (renovation plans) or if you don’t know why were are fixing things up I have detailed what is wrong with the house here; (so, whats wrong with the house?) or maybe you were not sure where we were up to in January when we were getting things ready to start, it here (packing up the house).

this one is called THE KNOCKDOWN…

So here is where we were up to… 1/2 house empty;

confused Indai…

"what's going on Mummy?"

This sign sent the warning out;

Then it all started coming down. Kitchen – gone

Next the doors were off and the back room was being knocked down;

where were the insides of our house going? Well out the side window of course!

(it all then was put on a truck and carted off)

Except our old sliding doors – they were re-installed in our archway (between our old lounge room and old dining room) So the builders could make themselves a site office and lock up their gear

then things started coming down for real;

 it became very alfresco out there!

here is the same part of the house from a different angle (from our upstairs bedroom window) you can see down there because the deck aand roof are gone

more walls gone now;

yup, it is pretty knocked down;

 So that is the first week or so of our renovation!

Mucho Destructo! Thankfully the rest of the process has been more about building then tearing things down. But this was how is begun!

 

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