Thursday, April 13, 2017

Santa Fe and Adoption Updates

I was waiting to write another post in hopes that I would have some good news to share but, alas, things are progressing more slowly than we had hoped. I had mentioned in my last adoption post that the next big step is getting our paperwork over to Korea to start the exit process for Dylan (known as the EP submit - yay for lots of new terms! It's a whole new language...). We were one piece of paperwork away from getting our papers sent to Korea with our cohort the last week of March - one piece of paper from getting this exit process started.

While our agency assured us that most people wait a year from referral to this portion of the process their statement was less comforting than it could have been as I watched all of our new friends moving forward with their process. I'm so sincerely excited for others that have moved forward but, I will admit, I have cried many tears wondering why our paperwork had to get slowed down - why does our son have to wait longer to be united with his family?

I could cry about it being unfair all day but the real issue here is the red tape and bureaucracy involved. So many little steps, appointments, papers, signatures, interviews, and so on are needed, and each state and country have different requirements. It's a very convoluted process, and my hope is to one day work with different agencies to help make this who ordeal more streamlined and effective so these children do not have to wait so long to start their lives with their families.

I appreciate the thoroughness of the process - we certainly wouldn't want people adopting that weren't qualified - but to be fingerprinted by several different federal agencies, and told we will have to renew our fingerprints in 15 months if we still haven't brought him home (whose fingerprints change in 15 months????) is a little overkill.

So, for now, we wait. Once we receive that one piece of paper from USCIS we can wait for the next batch of EP submits to be requested, which can be anywhere from 2 to 3 months (or more). Hopefully things move relatively quickly but, for the time being, I will get to practice being patient (and maybe work on learning some Korean - I need all the help I can get there). So, for now...

On a happier note, we were able to take a quick spring break trip with the kids to our favorite place in March - Santa Fe!

First stop, Charlie's Spic and Span which is our favorite little diner in Las Vegas, NM (truth be told, it's the only one we've gone to but we've been there about a dozen times and it's always fantastic).

Then it was off to the big city. The kiddos were on the tail end of a cold, so we spent more time in our hotel room than usual, but we still managed to spend time with some of our favorite people who happened to be visiting the same time that we were! Saturday morning started with meeting Daniel and Amanda in the Plaza.

We love Collected Works, it's a super cute coffee shop/book store that often has live music as well. It was a great place to start our trip. We had to check out our current favorite record store after we had our coffee, so we went down to Good Stuff/Cafe Vinyl after. Both Collected Works and Good Stuff are in the Plaza, which is super walkable. My best advice for spending time in the Plaza is to get there early (before 10am), especially on the weekend, and park in the parking garage off of Water Street. It's cheap and always has room so you don't have to drive around those narrow streets for ages looking for a spot. Been there, done that, not fun.

The kids love to hit up some of the toy stores in the Plaza too, so we try to make sure we can always get to Doodlet's and Moon Rabbit Toys. Deke has been waiting and waiting to buy his first Ugly here's Frank!

We spent a couple of hours walking around on Saturday but went back to the hotel after lunch to recuperate. 

Thankfully, everyone turned a corner on Sunday and we were able to hit up several fun places that we hadn't been to before (and a couple that we try to visit every time we're in town). First stop...Whoo's Donuts!

I got their Blue Corn Lavender (my favorite) and Nick "settled" for a Maple Bacon Pecan since they didn't have his usual go-to, the Habanero. Thankfully, he survived.

After our tasty treat, we parked at the Plaza and walked to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum with a stop in Burro Alley. Amazingly, we hadn't been to either of these areas before (although we've seen the Burro statue numerous times). 

The kids were feeling much better...

And so was Nick...

On the way to the museum...

Now, you are allowed to take pictures of some items in the museum, without a flash. But, due to a very embarrassing faux pas, the InstaMax camera I was using reset itself when I added new film and the flash went front of a $40 million painting. I didn't get in trouble but, needless to say, I was stalked by security the rest of the time and didn't even touch either of my cameras again. Not embarrassing at all.

Georgia O'Keeffe's work is incredible, and we saw paintings and photos that really gave us insight into who she was. I highly recommend this stop to anyone going to Santa Fe. We've been to several other museums on past trips - I'll give more info on those in another post :)

After the museum we went to another favorite destination, the Railyard District. We mostly walked around and took in the sights. The old buildings are so are the brick roads and sidewalks.

We took some fun train pics here but, sadly, they were with the InstaMax camera and not my iPhone.

We also had to stop by Big Star Books, which is my favorite used book store in town because we always find a TON of good stuff here. And the prices are fantastic! After that, it was back to the hotel for swimming and to rest up for our trip home the next day. We decided that we wanted to leave early so that we could spend some actual time in Taos rather than just drive through it.

Taos is a neat place, smaller than Santa Fe by a lot but more congested since the main road drives right through the center of town. We spent some time in the Taos Plaza before checking out a few stores.

Even the sewer lids are cool...haha.

The kids favorite spot, and probably ours too, was a cool toy store/playground called Twirl.

It was a bit surreal inside, with the unique fireplace and a magical Koi pond.

But the outside playground area was their favorite by far...

Soooo much fun. And they worked up quite the appetite so we stopped by Taos Diner on the north side of town. 

The food was good, not as great as Charlie's in my opinion, but the mountain view out the window was amazing!!!

All in all, it was another wonderful New Mexico adventure...quite possibly one of the best yet. And we can't wait to go back!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Year, New Mexico

Since moving to Colorado we have had several opportunities to travel to the surrounding areas and we find ourselves heading back to one state repeatedly. New Mexico has become our go-to vacation location of choice, and we find ourselves exploring fun, interesting, and historically rich locations every time that we visit.

After nearly a dozen trips down there, I can confidently say that it is very family-friendly place, especially if you are interested in culture, diversity, outdoor recreation, fascinating history, and really great food.

Old Town, Albuquerque
Our most recent trip was one of my favorite so far. We decided to ring in the New Year in Albuquerque with the kiddos. We were only there a couple of days but managed to squeeze a lot of exploration into that short amount of time.

Albuquerque is know for it's hot air balloon festival - which is quite the site to behold.

We managed to witness the last day of the festival last October (pictured above) and decided we absolutely had to check out the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum when we had a chance to actually spend some time in Albuquerque. So, the museum was our first stop that weekend.

History of hot air ballooning exhibit
Space Exploration exhibit
Blurry group good as we could get.
Arctic Air Exhibit with Nick's favorite - polar bear!!
The exhibits were both fun and informative and there was a great hands-on section where the kids could learn about designing, building, and flying hot air balloons. The 4D movie was a big hit as well, anything with 3D glasses and airplane acrobatics is a winner with my kids. 

The best part, only $4 per adult and $1 per child (ages 4-12 - kids 3 and under are free!) - so $11 for a fun and educational activity. The kids have already been asking to go back!

We also spend a lot of time walking around Old Town Albuquerque, which is my favorite area in any of the older cities we've visited (Santa Fe, San Diego, and even Colorado Springs). 

Lunch a Church Street favorite!

Clowning around at the Fountain in Old Town

Fun at the Gazebo

Trying to figure out how to work this Civil War reproduction canon...

We ate lunch at one of my favorite restaurant finds, Church Street Cafe. My mom, sister and myself had actually stumbled upon this place when we were in Albuquerque over my birthday weekend and I had to get Nick and the kids there. It's incredibly delicious and the building is amazing. Here are some pics from my first visit there with my mom and Erica...

Gorgeous kiva fireplace with a mosaic.

Loved the light fixtures!

Very festive...
 The Old Town area was pretty decked out for the holidays. I have to say, New Mexico knows how to do Christmas.

Here are some more pictures from around the square.

There is a really neat alley that leads to a couple of shops, galleries, and, most importantly, a coffee shop. Our favorite store in that area was Guerrilla Graphix. We grabbed a couple of bumper stickers, 2 posters (for Deacon and Dylan's room - you can see them in the previous post), and a Santa Fe tote bag. It's a really fun/quirky store and we could spend hours looking at their stuff. Here is some of the art work we discovered just in that alley...

Christmas tree made out of plastic bottles. 
Cute set-up outside of Velvet Coffeehouse.

We got our coffee fix from Velvet Coffeehouse, which was both delicious and necessary.

Pretty chai.
And spent most of the rest of the trip eating and watching movies at our AirBnB because it started raining. The cozy fireplace was a great perk, that's definitely something we miss from our old house. All in all, it was the perfect combination of relaxation and exploration for us. We even managed to get a couple of good pictures Nick and I to send in with our home study.

On our way home, we stopped by our favorite city, Santa Fe, to stretch our legs and squeeze every last bit of New Mexico out of our trip.

The square at Santa Fe.

The kids really love this city...

So glad to be back!

One of my favorite places...

I try to take pictures of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi ever time I visit. It really is a beautiful work of art.  Their decorations were simple but stunning.

And that about wraps it up! Lots of fun, food, and exploration in New Mexico :)

I'll be posting more about some of our trips to Santa Fe, Aztec, Roswell, and some of the towns in between as well as our epic road trip from last October to Joshua Tree. Fun times in some very fun places!