12/21/09

Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz?

DSC_2517 Today M got up at 3:30am (I was still awake writing curriculum) and went with his Dad by train to the Mercedes factory to pick up his Dad’s new car.

Boys and their toys, but honestly, I wouldn’t have minded a factory tour either! :)

The drive home took them 6 hours, but was amazingly enjoyable according to M.

When they arrived home, Dad gave me a brief tour of the new car.

To say that the car wasn’t just amazing would be a lie…a BIG one!

It is fantastic! Every bell and whistle imaginable.

It has a massage feature in both seats.

It can turn your brights on automatically.

The headlights automatically adjust their height depending on your speed.

The car actually recognizes when there is another vehicle in your blind spot and will beep at you when you try to move into it’s path.

It also has adaptive cruise control and you can preset a distance between you and the car in front and the car will accelerate or decelerate depending on the speed of the car in front of you. And yes, because I asked, if the car in front of you stops, you stop too.

It can read the speed limit signs and displays it inside the car.

On top of all the standard Mercedes features, the car actually reminds you to take a break from long stretches of driving by illuminating a coffee cup icon on the dash.

I haven’t been out for drive in it yet but am hoping to do so before we leave. Very cool. Did I mention it has a built in massager? Ahh….

12/15/09

Cooking Cookies Can Cause Chaos

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Well, not really, but it certainly made for a good title. This is S’s first Christmas present in Germany: A new apron, which was promptly used!

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Tante Christiane and S made cookies today. Chris made the dough in the morning and they cut them out together.

Sooooo stinking cute.

S was so patient too. Cookies were baked and decorated in the afternoon with more sprinkles and icing than I can to think about (which I do every day at tea….but more on that later!)


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Every day at tea when S eats a cookie, she says, “Tante Uh (her nickname for Christiane – pronouced ew with a rounded o) and S made cookies!” So cute!

S loves her Tante Uh. I was a bit worried about how they would interact since they hadn’t seen each other in a year, but no need to worry. S took right to her.

The finished product. They are so yummy!!DSC_2360

12/14/09

Crash in To Me

truckI was going to write a pretty mundane post about Germany today. But apparently life had a different idea.

The day started off normal. We slept in. As in, 11am slept in. All 3 of us. Apparently we were tired. Jetlag and all.

We ran some errands. Went to the drug store to pick up cough drops since M has a sore throat and I needed baby wipes for S. (What kind of Mom leaves for 3 weeks and doesn’t pack wipes?…Sheesh!)

Anyway, had a relatively uneventful day.

Went to try to take pics of S riding the train and the carousel at the Christmas Market. Traffic was bad, so we didn’t get a chance to go.

Thankfully and blissfully, S forgot.

We met M’s mom at a TV store to help her pick out a new TV. She was going to get a smaller TV, but we convinced her it needed to be bigger. Her argument to my father in-law? She told him her eyesight will get worse as they age, so having a bigger TV will help! :) LOVE IT!

So she headed home in our car, and M, S and I headed home in our rental van. We were almost there when it happened.

Picture a quaint European street with traditional German houses on either side. On the right side of the street there are cars parked almost the entire length of the street. We were headed down the street and saw a large truck coming at us. Due to the parked cars on the right hand side, there was nowhere to pull over. M moved over as far as he could, and it was just far enough to not get plowed by the truck, but too far to spare the very last parked car on the right. (Meaning, we almost made it).

Oh, and the truck was honking at us as if it was our fault. And he didn’t stop. M pulled over and made sure we were all okay. We were.

I am fine physically, but still hours later – I’m a mess.

M got out and luckily located the owner of the vehicle with the first knock.  He was polite and a bit upset, but handled it well. I turned on the light in the van so he could see that M had a wife and child in the car. Just in case.

The car we hit lost is mirror and had damage to the front bumper. Our van, as far as we could tell in the dark, really has no damage at all.

It could have been much worse.
Had we caught the front bumper of the truck, we’d be gone.
It happened so fast and honestly, if a few grand worth of damages is all it is…we’ll take it.

We hugged each other a little tighter tonight, and will do the same from now on. Because you just never know.

12/13/09

Bobby Cars and German Adventures

This is a picture of 2/3rds of our jetlagged family. S is modeling her new gloves we bought at the Christmas Market. S got to ride a carousel for the first time and rode a little train twice with the biggest grin. We forgot our camera though, but I probably would have dropped it after the gluvine I drank! :) DSC_2150

  What a beauty! So sweet in the new clothes that Oma bought for her!DSC_2166

We awoke to a light dusting of snow this morning. We went to lunch at this great little restaurant that was a few villages over.

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S loved the soup. She managed to eat almost an entire bowl herself.DSC_2186 DSC_2185

S ate all my dessert (as usual), but I wanted to share a picture of my new glasses. S bent my old pair beyond repair, so I was lucky enough to fork out a few hundred bucks for that “accident.” M informed me that the cost of new glasses would pale in comparison to the first time she crashes the car at 16. Sheesh, honey…can’t wait for that….DSC_2189

My two loves….bundled up against the cold.

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These I will be framing when we get home. Love her!!DSC_2211 DSC_2222 

A nearby village, taken by M on a walk with his sister.

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As an early Christmas present, S got a Bobby Car today. (This is a typical first birthday gift in Germany). She loved it. She even discovered that she could honk the horn with her elbow!

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Doesn’t she look so old all of the sudden? We are all doing well. Jetlag is a bit of a problem, but should be better in a few days. More soon.

12/11/09

Germany

ANNOUCEMENT: Thanks for all of your support. We won the Family Category as Best Rockin' Blog in Orlando! Thanks for all of you who voted, and to new visitors - welcome....

Now to update a bit....


So I am coming to you live from the back of the van as we drive up from Frankfurt to M’s hometown. S is finally asleep (more on this later) and we are about an hour away. It has been a very, excruciatingly long day.

The day started out well due to my poor math skills. I thought our suitcases were overweight, but turns out I calculated kgs incorrectly and all of our suitcases were fine. Great news. Stupid metric system! J


We dined at Macaroni Grill in the airport and then headed out to our gate.

S was so fascinated by all of the planes and by the train that we had to take to get out the terminal. She was in a great mood and I remember thinking how fortunate it was that this was the case. She was tired and so I hoped it would be a brief awake period and then a nice airplane snooze. Boy was I wrong!!


As we were waiting to preboard, I smelled it. Yep, mine was the kiddo that stunk up the plane before takeoff. Awesome.

We did bring a car seat for her, which turned out to be a great idea because there is no way she’d be comfortable (or safe) in an adult seat. Lufthansa just installed these touch video monitors and to my surprise and delight, there was a Disney video montage.

All started off well. The lights were dimmed. S was snuggling in her car seat watching Mickey and was started to snooze when the lights were turned on for beverage service. Ping. S was wide awake! It was already 10 pm Florida time and I expected to be happily dreaming after my choice beverage. (A Bloody Mary if you want to know. Made with too much vodka, and I had to listen to my 2 year old say Bloody Mary for the next hour!)

So as for the sleeping, no such luck.

We turned the onboard TV on. And off. We tried in the car seat. And in my lap. We tried singing and rocking in the back of the plane. Nothing worked.

Somewhere in this part of the story her diaper leaked and she was soaking wet, so she got a full outfit change.

Also in here somewhere was when I didn’t see a full glass of water in this snazzy cupholder they have near the top of the chair and poured ice water all over me. I didn’t have a full outfit change (or any extra clothes) so I was shivering for the next few hours.

And her behavior went south. Like far south. Like South Pole south. Exactly what you want to have happen when you are stuck 35,000 feet over the Atlantic.


She started kicking the seatback in front of her. I had to physically hold her feet for more than an hour. When I took her out of the seat because she wouldn’t stop, she pinched and hit me. I even put her in timeout in the back of the plane.

And then she did it. She stuck her finger in her mouth, covered it in spit, and then wiped it on my face.

I was shocked, stunned, and could totally understand why people drink. I thought she was playing the first time, but when she went in for a second smear, I was done. Just done!

Immediately she went back in her car seat. Screaming ensued. She cried. I was so tired and cried too. By now it was past midnight FL time.

After some pondering (not much) I turned Mickey back on and ignored her for the most part. I still had to hold her feet, but after about half an hour, she was out.

Until she work up an hour or so later screaming because she didn’t know where she was.

I gathered her into my arms and we went back to the back of the plane so she wouldn’t wake up the other sleeping passengers.

The cycle continued. She misbehaved, got put back in her car seat and then in desperation, I asked her if she would snuggle one last time. She promptly fell asleep on my shoulder and slept another hour or so. By now it was almost 4 in the morning Orlando time. She woke up screaming again just minutes before the breakfast lights came on.

And she was in a good mood. (I was not.)

Funny how I can ride hundreds of parables on the ZERO-G plane, but this flight somehow made me airsick. Exhaustion maybe…but I spent the final hour of the flight getting sick in a tiny airplane bathroom. Awesome…ahem….not really.


As happy as we are to be here, I could live with being teleported next time instead. Someone want to get right on that for me?

Update:
After a 3 hour nap the whole way up from Frankfurt, S was in a fantastic mood. We are all in bed now (9:00 local time) and will try again tomorrow. I’m so happy to be here. I had forgotten how beautiful it is and how much I love it here.

11/29/09

Clean Home, Home Study

Tomorrow morning is our homestudy visit. We're excited to have our wonderful social worker Angela see S again. The last time she saw her in person was when S was just a few weeks old.

We have been cleaning. Not really for Angela or my Dad (who arrives Friday) or Arnd (our friend who arrives on Tuesday). We have been cleaning for us.

But between the trials and stress of daily life - there have been a few things that...ahem...didn't get done.

So we're doing them now. Cleaning baseboards. Touch up painting walls. Cleaning under the fridge...you know...the usual.

I told M that we should adopt a baby every year so we have to do these little things...

He said, "We should adopt a baby EVERY week!"

Anyone have a spare 20K a week?

Yeah, I didn't think so. :)

More after the homestudy.

11/23/09

Sounds Like Life

My mom is so funny.

Lately, whenever I call her and give her an update about the funny, awkward, trying, and adventurous antics of our little family, she responds with,"Well that sounds like life!"

Ahem....that was not what was written in the script I sent you Mom....

The correct line included sympathy, commiseration, knowing laughter....not "That sounds like life!"

Amazing how frustrating life can be when people don't read their scripts...Sheesh. :)

But in the darkness and light of the last few days, I have begun to see that she was right. 

So now I am publicly apologizing for the eye roll - even though we were on the phone and she didn't see it. Sorry Mom!

Life has hit in full force in the last few days. 

Wednesday night (the night of the Creepy Puppet Guy) ended with my husband breaking his foot in a freak accident. On one of his busiest weeks of work ever. Three weeks before our European trip. With hundreds of adoption paperwork and homestudy looming,. Wed. night I felt so hopeless, so frustrated and worried about what might come next.

Sounds like life.

Thursday morning I called my doctor to confirm the time of my physical for the adoption only to find out it began in 5 minutes and I was 40 minutes away. That was her LAST physical appointment before our homestudy interview on Nov. 30th. Lovely. (She was able to get me in Friday, do a quick physical, give me my TB test and write for blood work and should be mailing off my form in the next day or so! Amen for her!!)

Sounds like life.

Friday I found myself at the local public library. Since I work from home, sometimes I need a change of location and have found the library to be a fascinating place to get some work done. I finished typing up all of our questionnaires for the homestudy documents and graded 25 papers in just about 3 hours all while listening to a crazy man read about asteroids out loud! I emailed all of our questionnaires (all 84 pages of them) to our social worker and was relieved to be done.

Sounds like life.

Saturday morning brought news from Germany that M's grandmother had passed away. We had planned a visit while in Germany to see her, but now will be gathering with family to honor her and share memories. We were so blessed to have her in our lives as long as we did. M thought about heading out early to try to make the funeral, but even with bereavement fares and our travel insurance, the cheapest flight I could find was $1900. So unfortunately, he won't be able to make it home in time.

Sounds like life.

Saturday night we had an impromptu family gathering. My mom had my nephew overnight and brought him over to play with S. My brother and sis-in-law came over to get him and joined us for dinner. I finally cooked a meal that a) tasted great and b) didn't require much work at all. (See recipe below if you are interested.) We had a great night watching the kids interact. We even captured our little stinker attempting to trick me while sharing a yogurt on our new video camera (a Christmas gift from my family). Once I figure out how to post video, I'll share it. It was a fabulous night, full of laughs and good food.

Sounds like life.

In the joys and sorrows of the past few days, I am grateful and thankful for the ups and downs of this life. It is  a wild ride and I need to remember to stop and enjoy the little things, work through the rough patches, figure out how to celebrate and honor the moment and not always focus what it still to come.

After all it will come, the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the love, the laughter....

Sounds like life. 

11/18/09

Creepy Puppet Guy

Alternately titled: "I Spent 26 Dollars for This?" or "Don't Touch That" or "So Much for the Christmas Spirit!" or "Man, I Sound Uber Bitchy in this Post" or "Apparently We Didn't Get It"....I could go on for days... :)

We did not enjoy the "Reindeer Romp" at the Orlando Art Museum tonight. We went because we wanted S to have some semblance of an American Christmas before we left for Germany. We're not decorating or doing much since we leave so early in December this year.


Here are the highlights:

  • The cookies were tasty. Store bought. Publix I think. S loved them!


Here are the lowlights:

  • I thought it was at the Mennello Art Museum, so we decided to part at M's work and walk. Although the real event was nearby, walking that far with a 32 pound toddler who would neither walk or let M carry her, makes for a sweaty, tired Mama before the event even began. The trek back was even worse. 
  • There was this lady (elf?) by the door with a coat with many pockets. Essentially it was like a wearable advent calendar. The kids stood in line to reach into her pockets to pull out a toy, or a piece of candy. My kid was too scared to reach in, so I did it for her. M was holding her at the time. I secretly wanted him to reach in, but I thought that would be a bit too creepy. 
  • This event is NOT for toddlers. Non mobile infants strapped to carseats would enjoy it, but whoever thought advertising for toddler attendees was a little misguided. Here's why: Imagine a room full of awesome trees and beautiful gingerbread houses and you can't touch any of them!!
  • My kid was tired and not in the best mood. I was tired and not in the best mood. M was tired and not in the best mood. Seeing a pattern? 
  • I learned tonight that my kid was afraid of Hello Kitty. Good to know.
  • She kept glancing at Santa looking terrified, so no 45 minute wait in line for Santa this year! :(
  • The wait for the balloon animal guy was too long, so we decided to move on. My kid simply wanted a balloon doggie, but asking a 2 year old to wait in line when cranky = no fun for all.
  • We finally made our way to the craft section, where my kid decorated a paper tree. She didn't want to add them to the tree mural on the wall, so she walked around carrying them for the rest of the night.
  • We watched a puppet show. The.Worst. Puppet. Show. Ever. Personally, I find puppeteers creepy to begin with, and this guy was no exception. My kid started to fall asleep during the puppet show if that gives you an idea of its entertainment value. Imagine draping a sheet over a chair and putting on old Christmas songs and acting them out with sock puppets. That would be a few steps up.
  • As we watched the puppet show, we had to dodge the huge carpenter ants that were crawling all over the area. I sure hope a portion of the 26 dollar donation I made goes toward pest control.

I don't mind donating for the arts. I really don't. But there is no way I will be attending this event again.

Heck, I'll even send the museum 26 bucks next year, just for the priviledge of NOT attending. 

11/15/09

Speed Dating for Adoption

I know it's impractical of me, but sometimes I wish they had speed dating for adoption.

Hear me out....

What if a group of potential adoptive parents gathered in a room with a group of potential birthmothers? There was a "speed dating" round, where we could all meet and then those interested could contact the ones they "like"  and could potentially move forward.

I'm not oblivious to the problems for all parties from meetings like these. Can you imagine how overwhelming this would be for a birthmother? Also consider the raised expectations of all parties that "today might be the day!" Side note: I wake each morning thinking, "Today might be the day..." The air would be heavy with anticipation and many would leave unsatisfied and unmatched. 


Developing your family profile is like preparing for a round of speed dating.


Umm...just so you know....I wasn't good at dating, speed dating or any other kind....just ask anyone who has know me prior to M! :)

I feel so awkward right now - stressed over presenting our family in the best light so that potential birthmothers will "LIKE" us.

I fret over each little detail of our family profile.

Are we funny enough?
Do S look happy enough?
Are we too eager? Not eager enough?
Too fat? Too thin?
Too boring? (Life with us is certainly NOT boring, in my opinion).
Too Christian, not Christian enough?

The reality is that we are just like many families. Neither perfect or perfectly normal.

We are your fairly normal, bilingual, multicultural household with a two parents, a toddler, a cat, a minivan, a house on a lake, enough to be comfortable, faith, loving and supportive family and friends, a lot of laughter, and an abundance of love.

How do you put yourself out there and try to make yourself appear to be "more worthy" than another family?

Families seeking adoption are there for a reason. Heartache due to child loss, infertility, some feel called to adopt, or a whole host of issues that led them to turn to adoption.

This occurred to me as I was talking to Lianna and we were discussing presenting our profiles to the same location. This means that the same potential birthmother could be looking at BOTH of our profiles and deciding who gets the honor or raising her baby.

But you see, I know Lianna's story. It's just like mine - at least the heartache part is...
I want them to be parents more than anything.
More than myself? Probably - because I already have S.

See the dilemma?

I know, I'm a little slow in realizing all of this adoption stuff - but it never really occurred to me that we would be "competing" against other couples for a child.

But on the other hand, I have no doubt that our child (or twins) will find us....


All I can do is put the best and most realistic version of ourselves out there. Pray for patience. Pray for peace and know whoever the birthmother chooses,  it is the right decision.


But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.





Amen.

11/11/09

Adoption Q and A

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about adoption. I had a conversation about adoption with my new blogger friend Lianna, and there were a few things that she asked that I thought were important to share.

1. Why the lack of real names on our blog? 
Our birthmom (whose story I haven't completed) struggles with addiction and lives in the area. With her history, we feel that it is safer for us all to not have a fully open adoption at this time.

2. Why not foster/adopt? 
My journey through infertility was one that broke my heart. It broke my spirit. It made me feel like a failure despite all of the other successes in my life. Although it has since mended quite a bit because of S, I am not mentally or emotionally prepared to welcome a child into our lives and have them removed from our lives. Yes, adoption has risks - but the more I can buffer my heart from those risks, the better.

3. Why did you not pursue fertility treatments? Why adopt?
M is adopted. So is his sister. With my ovarian condition, the odds were not good, and if we invested all of that money into trying to create our "own" and it didn't work....I simply wasn't interested in continuing to "fail." M and I discussed going the IVF route for this baby, but ultimately decided that adoption was a better option for us. Why created something new, when there are so many children that need safe and loving homes? Do I think we might "try" again (or adopt again) in a few years....YES! After all, we have a minivan, a big house, and even bigger hearts. There is plenty of room! :)

4.What about the risks of a failed adoption?
We feel that if an adoption situation fails then that simply means that child is not supposed to be ours. Will we be heartbroken? Of course!! But our firm faith in God simply says that our child will find us.

5. Where are you in the adoption process?
We have our homestudy interview on November 30th. We only have a few more documents to complete (and due to S's illness, I am WAY behind!). As soon as our homestudy is complete, I will submit our applications for grants and loan funding. Then the waiting begins!

6. Are you locating your own birthmother?
Yes and no. Maybe so. Not sure. Our current agency does not actively recruit birthmothers. They might get wind of a situation that would work for us, but that is a MIGHT. So we are seeking out other resources. We're planning on using social media (twitter, etc.) to try to network with someone who might know of someone....also we are looking at an agency in AL that has a small application fee and nothing until you get a placement. There is also a school in Northern Florida that is for pregnant teens and I'm contacting them about potential situations. As I've said before, our child will find us. (The key is being patient....speaking of that- S has taken to saying , "It's coming. Be patient!" a bunch lately. Usually it is in reference to the TV taking time to warm up, but what a great reminder! She also calls her baby brother to be, Bukas).

If you happen to know of an adoption situation that might work for us (Full Caucasian boy or b/g twins) or want to ask questions, make recommendations, etc....our email address is ourlittleerdnuss@gmail.com.

Thanks and please remember to vote daily (link on right). We have been bumped off the Top 10 and are no longer leading the Personal category.

HEALTH UPDATE: S got a clean bill of health from her cardiologist on Monday. No fever. Still not quite herself, but hopefully will be soon. It's so nice to have my sweet, snuggly girl back. Off to the dermatologist this morning. Will report later. Ciao!

11/8/09

My Poor Girl

Is sick.

Like sick, sick.

As in, coughing so much that she gasps and chokes.

I'm watching her like a hawk and hoping to avoid a trip to the swine infested ER. We're headed to the ped in the morning after cardiology.

Our trip to Jacksonville was not fun (except the brief good hours S had while visiting Lianna). We had a great talk about adoption.

Oh and today I got a contract to develop an online course. The amount that I will be paid is exactly the amount of the check I sent to our agency. God does provide!

More when I know more....

Until then, if you are interested in more of S's story :  click here.

Thanks for all the support. Please vote daily using the link on the right.

11/6/09

Indicative of My Day


Here's hoping tomorrow will be a better day!

11/5/09

Mystery Not Solved


Oh my sweet girl! Last night was pretty rough on us all. Not much sleep to be found...note the bags under her eyes.

I awoke to her wheezing and rattling this morning. Not good. After not eating any dinner last night, she asked for pizza for breakfast. I happily complied since it's been days since she has really eaten much. (M said that I took away one of those college "firsts" - eating cold pizza for breakfast! Oh well! She ate!) She lost a pound over the last week!!!

Put a call into her pediatrician and her pulmonologist (which reminds me that they never did call me back!) Well considering they almost killed her months ago....maybe that's a good thing.

Ped called back and wanted us to come in. S was diagnosed with another ear infection last week and it appeared that the drops weren't working well and we might have to switch to oral antibiotics. I HATE oral antibiotics, especially since S spent 14 weeks straight on them earlier in the year. Ugh.

So we went into our peds office and I took these pics. (Yes, I did let her wear her pajamas in public. So sue me. They're cute, and I was TIRED.)

Trying to escape!


Come on Mama, let's go!


If you won't let me leave, then I will just hit you and tear up this paper. (This was followed by a time out!)


But I want to put the pulse ox back on! Now! Now! Now!


This was not a pleasant visit with a grumpy 2 year old and a 2 hour wait....but we ended up with good news.

It isn't Influenza A or B. Or Strep. So just a cold. No explanation for the crazy heart rate/fast breathing/peeling hand thingy. This doc (not our usual ped) also recommended that we head up to Gainesville for a rheumatology evaluation. She thinks S has some systemic inflammatory disorder. Lovely.

Her O2 stats were a bit low for S, between 95-97, but other than that...

She is running a low grade fever tonight, but we are still headed out of town in the morning. I may live to regret this trip, but it isn't really that far, and if S gets really sick, then we'll just come home.

More tomorrow.

Please remember to vote for this blog. Click on the Orbbies link on the right hand side. Thanks!

11/4/09

Quick Health Update

So yesterday I learned that S has been exposed to H1N1 at her preschool. This was distressing, but not unexpected. (I mean, where isn't the piggy flu now?) We got her the vaccine, but only 8 days ago...

When S gets sick, she usually gets into moderate respiratory distress. Normal breathing rate for her age is per min is 30. Our pulmonologist gave us an outside margin of 35. Tonight, as she sat still in my arms, S's was between 48-50.

Not good.

She currently does not have a fever, but is obviously working hard to breathe. Her little heart is racing again too because she is working hard to breathe or she's working hard to breathe because her heart is racing. I don't know.

This isn't the first time. She's a mystery.

Poor kid has a pulmonologist, cardiologist, ENT, gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, opthamologist, nephrologist, neurologist, neurosurgeon and soon a dermatologist (rheumatology and immunology are coming shortly too). We know quite a few nurses on staff in both the ER and the pediatric floor.

We have an appointment next Monday with her cardiologist to discuss whether her peeling hands and feet over the last few months have any cardiac implications. She also has an appointment with dermatology on Wed. of next week to discuss some eczema issues and further investigate a cause of the peeling hands and feet. Lovely...

I just want to fix this....and I don't know how....

Yes, I worry. Something minor can spiral out of control so quickly with S. No one knows why.

So I'll be up most of the night probably....maybe I'll go sleep in there with her - just to be safe. Hoping this is something that can wait until morning, but that remains to be seen.

Update:
I just went back in to check on S. Respiration rate is 33-37 and pulse is better. She is sweaty, cold and clammy. Will check on her again in a few.

11/2/09

Bittersweet Miracle

There are always two sides to every story. Adoption is no different.

As blessed as we have been to get the honor to raise S, we also recognize that is another side of adoption. The choice. The heartache. The consequences.
The loss. The loss. The loss. The loss.

We cried as S's adoption was finalized in court. We recognized that our gain, was her birthfamily's loss and it was heart wrenching. We cried for the siblings she would never know. The grandparents who will not get to watch her grow or listen to her laugh. We cried for the father who met her just twice. We cried for the ache that lives in her birthmother.

As blessed as we are and how much our lives have been touched by adoption - I know I couldn't do it.  I knew, from this first touch in the NICU, that I could and would never give her up. And she wasn't even ours yet...The choice to give a child up for adoption is one I am still just beginning to understand and come to terms with - even two and a half years after S was first placed in our arms.

So even though we grieved for S's birthmom, her other children, and extended family we also grieved for S. When her birthfather died - we grieved for the man S would never have the opportunity to meet. (If she had chosen to). Even with the recognition of the heartache and sacrifice, I was unprepared when a package arrived from her birthmother.

Included in the package were updated pictures of S's siblings. More information about her birthfather's death.

And a few cards.

Those cards were written to S using her birth name. A name that we never use, but one that we refer to in communication with her birthfamily. They were signed....
Love, Mommy and Daddy

Believe it or not, I didn't fully comprehend until that moment that someone else also considers themselves to be her Mommy. I mean, I knew that, but I didn't get it. I didn't get how complicated this whole adoption thing was - for all of us.

As I struggle to identify what this all means, I wonder how I am going to explain this to S someday in the near future. And I wonder how the lessons we've learned so far can help in our upcoming adoption.

Adoption is a bittersweet, loving, heartbreaking and joyous miracle.

11/1/09

Reflection of Myself

I will admit that it was good( in a strange way) to actually capture the horrible events of last week in a blog post. I was shaking while writing it - proof that the feelings were still incredibly raw and close to the surface. As with all wounds, time will surely heal.

We had frustrations with S's adoption too. There were delays and frustrations on that journey, but the memory of those experiences faded once S joined our family. (I suppose for mothers who labored and birthed their own children - it would be similar to forgetting how crappy childbirth was!)

Even through the trials of our adoption of S, they seem minor compared to the trials and heartbreak we experienced over the 4.5 years we tried to conceive a child of our own.

Honestly, I hadn't thought too much about those years or reflected upon them because simply I was too busy being a mom.

That was, until I stumbled upon a reflection of myself. Let me explain...

I'm not even sure when I first started reading Lianna's blog, but it must have been more than six months ago. The ache in each post was so acutely familiar that it was almost too difficult to read.

Each post I read I must have thought,"I remember feeling like that" or "I've been there" a million times. It was as if I was reading my innermost thoughts during one of the most difficult periods of my life. Like I said, I stumbled upon a reflection of myself.

I won't deny that I wanted to scream at her, "Just adopt!!" (I tend to think that is an obvious answer - but I forget that others must get there on their own.) I was much more diplomatic than that. I sent her an email about how her posts reminded me of my own angst and how adoption changed my world. An excerpt:

"I just wanted to be a mom.

I knew I was supposed to be a mom. God also knew...and His will was made clear in a million different ways on our adoption path. There is NO doubt in my mind that S was supposed to be our child. She just came to us from another mother. But she was supposed to be ours. I don't know if I can articulate this as well as I want to since it is so late, but I know that she was sent to us. To heal us. To teach us lessons about life, sacrifice, love, hope, and struggle (health).  And even though I didn't give birth to her, she is my daughter. And I am a mother because of her and the loving sacrifice made by her birth mom."



She wrote back enthusiastically and wanted more details. And I didn't write her back....

Now in my defense, it was during the height of S's health stuff....but kinda sucky on my part. :(

Months passed. I think I got back in touch with her via her blog. And she wrote back and I actually responded this time!

She lives in a city north of here that M, S and I are going to be visiting this coming weekend. So if all goes well, hopefully we will get the chance to meet!

After constant heartache, Lianna and her husband have started down the path toward adoption. I am so excited for them!

I'm excited about the sharing this journey of filling out paperwork, trying to recruit (for lack of a better word) a birthmom, and trying to articulate how I never thought I could love anyone or anything as much as I love S.

It wasn't until I read her posts that I realized that those feelings I felt while trying to conceive weren't entirely gone. But they have been diminished by my love for S and the joy she brings to my life. I cannot WAIT for Lianna to feel that way too.

And now I leave you with a picture from last night of my pigtailed, smiling, Pirate! I love her so!

10/31/09

Happy Halloween!

The Operatic Pirate


The Thoughtful Pirate



The Shy Pirate



The Yawning Pirate



The You-Just-Took-Away-My-Candy-So-I'm-Crying Pirate

Who knew pirates had such a range of emotions? :)

10/30/09

Severing Ties that Bind

Well folks! Sit back. Grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, because this is going to be a long post.


A few things to know:
1. We are in the process of adopting a second child.
2. We decided to use a different agency than we used for S because our original agency raised their fees beyond our budget.
3. We decided to use a small, Christian Adoption Agency in Jacksonville, FL after the recommendation of a friend of a friend. (more on this part later...)
4. We have had issues with this agency since the beginning of our interaction with them. See this post for more information. I'm going to start from where this post leaves off.


Click below, I didn't want this situation taking any more space than necessary in my life!


10/24/09

Busy Week! Need a Nap!

Sorry for the lack of updates. It has been a busy week.

This week I've:

Graded 60 papers for Online Teaching Job #1.
Pressure washed the walkway and the driveway.
Cleaned the gutters.
Paid bills.
Started home study documents.
Completed my new hire paperwork (15 pages) for Online Teaching Job #2.
Picked up a lost cow toy at a doctor's office.
Went to the International Food Festival at EPCOT and spent a rare and glorious weekday with M.
Put together S's new bedroom furniture (still working on this).
Dealt with a cranky Hand, Foot and Mouth infected S. (Again!)
Purchased 800 pounds of furniture by myself at IKEA. (Won't be doing that again).
Upset Adoption Agency #1.
Excited about Adoption Agency #2. Still keeping #1 though...long story....post of it's own.
Worked on our adoption book.
Did not clean my house and it shows.
Repotted yellow mums.
Purchased art for the house.
Redecorated the master bedroom.
Ironed everything I could find.
Been mostly a single parent as this is M's busy time at work. Won't see him much until Thanksgiving.
Wished we could bring Lukas home now. (Yes, that is his name).
Laughed a lot.
Ate too much. (Still down 30 lbs though).

So you can see, I've simply been too busy to update this blog. I will do better soon. Maybe... I'll try!

10/17/09

We Are Paper Pregnant


Doesn't this shirt say it all?

We sent our application in September to the new agency we're using for the adoption. I wanted to post right when we sent it, but I expected to hear something a few days later. (Like they loved us and were so excited to have us as a waiting couple.)

But nothing. Not a peep!

One week went by. Still no word.

Did I mention I was emailing them every few days? I did get word that they received our application and that we would receive a letter in the mail. I raced out each day to greet the mailman. No letter. This daily disappointment ironically felt a bit like taking a pregnancy test and getting a negative result day after day month after month.

Another week went by. Then two. Still nothing.

At this point. I'm frustrated and a bit upset (understatement).

We got the letter the 2nd of October. We'd been accepted and were officially "paper pregnant"!! The letter said that our homestudy documents would arrive shortly as well as some examples of adoptive parent profiles. We were elated and I went to work on our adoption profile so I could focus on the homestudy documents when they arrived.

Nothing. No papers. No profiles. NOTHING!

We were supposed to be using this agency to do our homestudy, but my thought was - if they were taking this long to even respond to us, that the homestudy would take forever. And we're ready for our son now and have already lost FOUR weeks of time....Ahhhhhh....

In frustration, I reached out to the company that conducted our last homestudy. I explained the situation and they said that they could start immediately and get it done quickly. They even offered to FedEx homestudy documents that afternoon! Talk about service! :)

I made a call to our agency in an attempt to find out if there would be an additional cost to review an outside homestudy. I got someone on the phone. The adoptive parent coordinator. (I'd left two messages for her and sent 4 emails and never got a response).

She was gracious and apologetic. I guess one of their staff members left and now they are down to two people handling too many cases. I tried to be sympathetic. I really did.

By the end of the conversation, I was much less upset and she promised to FedEx the homestudy documents and those adoption profiles. That was Tuesday afternoon.

I called our former homestudy agency back and told them that it sounded like our adoption agency could handle the homestudy, but if I didn't get the promised homestudy documents in the next week - I'd call them back and hire them.

As of today (Sat.), nothing.

More when I know more....

10/1/09

A Clever Parenting Moment

I hate washing dishes. As in H-A-T-E. In fact, I will do just about anything to get out of doing them. While at IKEA (land of the $2.64 lunch!) I found this new step stool and was struck by a moment of pure genius.

S loves to play in the water. She loves bubbles.
I wondered if I could teach my two year old to wash dishes. Hmmm....

I thought we'd give it a try. I put the step stool in front of the sink, and S went to town. I taught her how to use the scrub brush to clean the pots (my new Rachel Ray cookware) and then we practiced rinsing off all the bubbles (or making the bubbles go bye-bye) and then I dried the dishes.



S had a blast.
I have clean dishes!
I wonder what else she can do!! :) I'm kidding....kind of....

9/30/09

Long Overdue Health Update

Overall S has been doing very well. We’ve made some changes recently that seem to be helping.

Her health picture right now:

Asthma – S still needs occasional breathing treatments when she gets the slightest hint of a cough. Usually nighttime is the worst for her, so for a while we were giving nebulizer treatments before bed and that seemed to reduce the nighttime coughing fits. The move from a carpeted room to one with hardwood floors was a great one for her. She used to wake up multiple times coughing at night in the carpeted room and that has been reduced to once or twice a night. We are all sleeping better as a result.

Reflux – This problem is pretty bad right now. For a while after eating or drinking S would burp incessantly. Honestly for a while I thought she was mimicking M (Sorry Honey). But then it occurred to me (rather slowly I might add) that her coughing fits were at the same time every time. So either she has the most regular sleep cycle ever, OR the reflux was back. Her pediatrician put her back on Zantac for a while and we will be having a follow up with the gastroenterologist to see what our options are. Thankfully S seems to be going much better medicated. Hard to tell if her coughing fits are better because of the move to the new room, or both…but either way the constant burping has stopped. Her reflux must have been bothering her because after being on meds for a few weeks we missed a dose and she actually spit up – something she hasn’t done in months!! Poor girl. Her pulmonologist thinks that she possibly has airway/lung damage from all of the reflux and wants to do a bronchoscopy at some point. Problem is, no one is willing to put her under general anesthesia to explore this further. Fine by me (for now).

Neuro Issues: The results of all of the testing that we had done this summer were inconclusive. She is not having seizures and the MRI showed no tumors or lesions on her brain. Our neurologist said that she has additional fluid on her brain in the lower back portion but that it wasn’t causing any issues. Essentially the benign hydrocephalus that she had as a baby never fully resolved itself but did not increase. Her neurosurgeon said he didn’t see anything –but I didn’t argue with either one of them. I have learned to take each doc’s opinion as a piece of the puzzle, even if they don’t fit. I’ve also realized that medicine (especially with mysterious medical issues) is mostly just a guessing game. Frustrating but true.

Genetic Testing: S’s neurologist sent out her blood for genetic testing in July and we have yet to receive results. There is a company called 23andme.com that sells kits to do genetic testing and then is compiling information into a large database. I am curious to see if S’s results can be entered into this database to try to identify predispositions or patterns. Since we don’t have that much information about her birthparents, getting an overall picture would be fantastic.

I had hoped by the time that I would write this update that we would have some clear cut answers, but we don’t.

What we do know:

  • S has elevated lymphocytes and a large quantity of abnormal lymphocytes.
  • Her other liver enzymes have returned to normal. However, her alkaline phosphatase levels have been elevated for more than six months.
  • She continues to be bothered by asthma and allergies. If I do not dust her room multiple times a week, her sleeping is severely affected.
  • Her energy has greatly improved since the last time she was in preschool. This is in part to better sleep at night, overall increase in health, and the fact that if she is showing signs of fatigue, I keep her home and let her sleep (one of the benefits of working from home).

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about the Flu this year –especially since so many of my friends (not local yet) have the flu (H1N1 or Infl. A). We’re all getting our flu shots this year (not the H1N1 shot though). I’m meeting with her pediatrician next week to come up with a plan of action should S get the flu. Last year’s flu shot did not prevent her from getting the flu and that was what sparked a 5 month decline in health. We are hoping for better luck this season, but are realists. She is in preschool fulltime – surrounded by other snotty kids. It’s spreading quickly. If we do end up with the flu – I am pretty certain that we will have a good plan in place.

We are also meeting with her pulmonogist and pediatrican to discuss some preventative things we can either do or take with us on our trip to Germany in December. I’m not sure if they’ll give us Tamiflu to carry with us, but in a case like S’s – it would be better to have that on hand. We also travel with antibiotics for ear infections, UTI’s and respiratory issues. We also bought travel insurance for this trip just to be safe. You just never know.

So that’s where we stand.

We’re still a bit on uncertain ground, but things have settled down enough to catch our breath. We haven’t been to the pediatrician in three weeks now and just had our first trip to the ER in 4 months a few days ago (nothing to worry about, just blood work.) With any luck, I won’t have to write another health update for a while.

Positive thinking, right?

9/28/09

Look What She Can Do!!

S has been developing like crazy lately. Here are some videos of what she can do now. She knows most of her shapes. For some reason, she calls the rectangle a choo choo train. Too cute!
video
She also can count. I've heard her go as high as 17 without missing. I only caught the tail end of this one. Hope to catch the whole thing soon.
video
She's in love with the Fresh Beat Band from Nickelodeon. They show their videos on demand at the beginning of Dora and other Nick shows.
The problem? The segments are only 1.5 min. long.
The solution? Teach S to press the rewind button herself.
Taa Daa!
video

She knows all of her colors in English and in German. She confuses yellow and blue sometimes but usually on purpose with a sly smile.

She knows the ABC song, which I'm still working on capturing. She can recognize A,B,C,E,H,I,S,T,V,X,Z.

She amazes me.

9/19/09

Playing Musical Rooms

So about six weeks ago we I decided to move things in our house around.

S's breathing troubles seemed worse and I felt that she needed to get out of a carpeted room and into a room with hardwood floors. Now as I'm writing this, I could have just laid new flooring in her nursery, but honestly - I didn't think of that until now.

If there is a harder way to do something, or a more convoluted way - I usually find it.

So S's room was getting moved into our existing office. (next door) She needed a "Big Girl" room near the bathroom. But before we could do that, we had to move the office somewhere. Due to an airconditioning issue (proximity to the air handler), our master bedroom has always been about 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the house. In the summer in Florida, it just wasn't fun. So for years we have been moving into our guest room (closer to the air handler) in the summer. The guest room has always been the nicest, coldest room in the house. Seeing as we usually only have guests in the winter - we decided to move the guest room into the master bedroom and the master into the guest room.

So if you are following: S's room to the office. master and guest room swap.

Because of the large size of the master bedroom, we also moved the office into the master.

So: S's room to the office. The office to the master. The master and guest room swap.

S's former nursery became a play room, so I could get her junk stuff out of the living room. She loves having space to play and often goes in there, says, "Bye, bye" and will sit down and color for a few minutes on her own! Pictures are coming soon. Apparently I didn't have the camera battery charged.

But here are pictures of S's new room.

Office Before:

Now S's Room.

I had a blast painting the murals. I painted them on posterboard and attached them with these, so they are removable and won't damage the paint. Also I wasn't exactly sure where I wanted them so I'm so glad that I made them movable. I think I still need to add one more to the right of S's name - I'm thinking maybe a tree.

closeup of Lion mural

inspiration for lion mural

curtains, chair and monkey mural

closeup of monkey mural

inspiration for Monkey mural

bedding

matching artwork

I'm a bargain shopper, so I found towels on clearance at Target and am redecorating the S's bathroom too. I found the discontinued shower curtain, and hand towels on eBay. I'll post pictures of that room too when they arrive. Since we can't move - rearranging the house has made it feel brand new! Okay, maybe not BRAND new, but at least a little different.