It's been much too long since I've had the time, and the heart, to post. My apologies to all that use our blog as a way to stay up to date and connected to our rather hectic lives! Let me do my best to quickly fill in the gaps.
The day following my last post, I discovered yet ANOTHER leak in the garage. This one involved the neighbor's drain that seems to have been leaking for quite some time, and the column at the front of our garage between our garage and our other neighbor's had to be torn open (from the exterior... removing stucco) and then involved some structural repair to the wood support beams that had some serious wood rot. Not fun... and not to mention the stucco color in a huge patch area from the ground, up the column and all the way to the bottom of our neighbor's second story window doesn't match the rest of the building.
So, the leaks in the garage ended up setting us back about two months in the housing market. We didn't get our home relisted until all damage was repaired, as there didn't seem to be any intelligence in parading people through our home while it was all torn up. On the positive side, our garage's interior now looks great... the entire thing was painted once the drywall was repaired, so we can enjoy a fresh, clean looking garage. Let's just hope it stays that way!
In the mean time, the housing market has really been suffering. There are now comps to our house for $60,000 under where we need to be listed. There were always some comps that were much lower, but not so many. It's now not the peak selling season as children are back in school, and with interest rates on loans being a lot higher, there are a number of factors working against us. So... looks like we won't end up getting to move after all. :-( The painful part is how close we got... it's like getting a taste of something and then finding out you can't do anything to make it a reality.
As for the adoption, Zambia is no long a road we can follow. Families that were in Zambia with the agency we were going to be working with had children pulled from their care, and now international adoptions, and that agency are under serious review and scrutiny. Things are basically on hold and much to tenuous for us to proceed. Ultimately, I think our hearts have never left Ethiopia, so making the decision to switch back was fairly easy. I have since submitted our request to have our I-171H (USCIS visa approval) changed back to Ethiopia and have it in hand. I have EVERYTHING I need for my dossier. Joe and I just need to get a few signatures notarized and we'll be ready to have it certified and submit it to our placement agency.
Here's the catch. We are sort of in a holding pattern with the adoption. Not only does the housing market significantly affect our ability to move into a house, it also greatly affects Joe's job stability. His company has finally joined the ranks of most other home builders and begun doing some serious layoffs. Their division now has about half the amount of staff it had one month ago. It's been a story of more layoffs almost every week. Joe's workload is through the roof (for now) as he's taken on the work of the other people that were in his positions on different projects. The catch is, a number of the projects are being "shelved" until mid-late 2008 or later in hopes the market will begin picking back up by then. So, most of the work is short term... working on finishing up whatever's currently being worked on, and getting the sites secured to be left alone for a while. We're expecting Joe will likely be laid off by December as well. It's a scary though, but Joe also feels much loyalty to his company after working with them for a while, so he's trying to stick it out. Maybe... MAYBE he'll be able to stay employed with them through all this. If not, finding another job in this market would be really tough. The market itself makes jobs in the field tough to come by, and combine that with the fact that he would be getting laid off SOOOO late in the game compared to the majority... all jobs are being gobbled up about as quickly as they appear.
So, that's it in a nutshell. It's so frustrating to be ready to finalized our dossier and submit it, but unable to proceed in the current situation. Well, I guess we could proceed, but it seems to be an unwise decision until we have some more answers and/or stability in Joe's job.
Oh, and speaking of jobs, I am seriously considering a new venture myself. It'd be part time, at least for quite a while. I am looking at beginning a cruise/travel agency franchise I can work out of my home office. I would be able to sell cruises (the specialty), air, rental cars, hotels, and even land tour packages. It'd be a huge assistance to me if whomever reads this could tell me whether or not you'd ever consider using a travel agency service like that to book your cruise or other vacation. The perks of the company are that they have a large purchasing power so they buy cruises a couple of years in advance in bulk so there are so good group rate discounts to be had, booking through a travel agent ensures you're getting all the information you need about your cruise, etc. There are a lot of perks to using an agent, but want to try and get a feel for what people think my success might be. I LOVE to travel, and have a passion for being on the water, so it's not something that would be difficult for me to "sell" to people. I think experience and enthusiasm alone would help make it something I could be good at... but who knows. Any thoughts? Email me privately or post a comment... I'm anxious to test the waters!
Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement in this stressful time. I am so anxious to announce that we have submitted our dossier and are officially waiting... so hopefully the time comes sooner than later!
Hugs all around!!!