Saturday, March 31, 2012

In Which I Play A Lot Of Derby

My bout was super fun!  And I didn't die or break any bones or anything!  We ended up losing, but we had a great time anyway.  I'm pretty sure it's actually impossible to play roller derby and not have a good time, except for the breaking stuff part.  That probably wouldn't be very fun.  Luckily I haven't had the opportunity to find out.

Anyway, so I spent pretty much all day doing derby related things.  This is actually a super heavy month for me as far as derby goes; on the 13th of April I've got a bout down in Montana and on the 21st I have a bout in Idaho.  So I'll be doing quite a bit of traveling!  I've never been to Montana before, but I always think about that poignant line from The Trumpet of The Swan, which was one of my favorite books growing up: "What is Montana-- banana, banana?" 

Moving stuff, that is.  Also if you've never read The Trumpet of The Swan you had a seriously deprived childhood.  Go find it and read it.  Now.

Anyway, unfortunately I don't think I'll have the chance to visit Louis the swan at the Red Rock Lakes this time around.  Oh well-- maybe next time!


Friday, March 30, 2012

In Which We're Feeling Better And My Little Boy Is Getting Really Really Big

Thank heavens, Connor has actually decided to sleep tonight.

That is a very good thing because I have a bout tomorrow!  Bouting on five hours or less of sleep is not particularly fun, so I'm glad that I'll be getting a full night's sleep tonight. 

Connor didn't have school today-- it was a snow makeup day so everyone but preschool attended.  He's officially on Spring Break now.  He's currently in that stage where he's feeling pretty good but is still super stopped up, which is always a fun time.  I'm over the worst of this cold and on the mend too, which is great.  I'll probably take a nice hot bath tomorrow morning, go for a walk or do some good stretching, and then I'll be ready to play some derby!

Connor is still trying to choose what fun activity we'll be doing for his birthday, which is on Sunday.  Can you believe he's going to be six?  I know I say this every year, but there is no way my kid can possibly be that old.  There are a couple of childrens' theater productions going on to choose from, and there's always the zoo, the aquarium, the science museum-- all the fun places he likes to visit over and over again.  While I would love to throw him a party, he's still not excited about that idea.  So since it's his birthday, we'll do it his way and keep it just the three of us. 

Seriously, there's no way my little guy can possibly be six.  That's over halfway to ten!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

In Which I Have Nothing To Report

So now we're all sick.  Whee! 

Also it appears that Connor is planning to stay up all night.  I am not particularly thrilled with this development.

Oh well.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In Which We Have A Pajama Day And My Voice Goes On Strike

I woke up this morning with the voice of a fourteen year old boy and my ears stuffed full of cotton wool.  Since it was Wednesday so Connor didn't have school, I declared it a Pajama Day.  I've got a bout coming up this weekend and so I need to get better as soon as possible to be in top shape for that, which means it's time to take it easy. 

I spent the first half of the day guzzling tea and snuggling with the little guy (who has turned into a complete snot fountain so I'm pretty sure I know where I picked this bug up) and then dragged myself off the couch and got back to work cleaning out Ellen's room.  Jer's taking next week off for spring break, so we're going to try and get things finished up with both Ellen's room and my studio.  If we're going to be able to pull it off I've got to get everything organized, which means no slacking off for me!

Unfortunately when Jeremy got home he told me that he feels like he's getting sick too.  So the next few days may be relatively miserable around here.  At least Connor (other than the whole snot fountain thing) seems to be feeling fantastic.  He did his stander time today without any protest and was way more chatty than any actually sick kid has any business being.  I think this may be one of those rare occasions where I actually end up getting sicker than he does.

Now that doesn't happen very often!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In Which I Run Around A Whole Bunch For Little Purpose

Today was kind of a crazy day.

We found out yesterday evening that the most important CD of files I drove up to the Adoption Medicine Center last week in preparation for our phone consult with the doctor about what resources to set up for Ellen before she arrives wouldn't open on their computer.  Our appointment was supposed to be this afternoon, so we needed to figure out a way to get that stuff to them as soon as possible. 

I quickly decided that sending them the whole thing-- several hundred pages worth of pictures and reports-- wasn't going to be feasible.  So I focused on one 70 page document that contained most of her medical and observation reports.  After trying unsuccessfully to e-mail it in various formats, I shaved it down to the most crucial 30 pages, drove over to the local office store and tried faxing it.  Of course I managed to pick the Slowest Fax Machine In The Universe.  After an hour, three attempts at faxing and only six pages successfully sent (at a mere five minutes a page) the manager offered to try condensing the file for me so I could send it by e-mail again.  I had twenty minutes before it was time to pick up Connor.

So I rushed home, grabbed my version of the CD and brought it back to the store, where a very nice man attempted a number of different things to try and get the file down to size.  He fiddled around with it for a while, but unfortunately didn't have any luck.  I thanked him for trying, grabbed my CD back and sprinted out to the car as I had four minutes to get to Connor's school.  Whoops.

So once I arrived and speed-walked into the building, I had a brief sit-down meeting with Connor's nurse about his upcoming IEP revision.  It was now noon, we were supposed to be hearing from the doctor about Ellen in four and a half hours, and he still didn't have the vast bulk of her medical information. 

So guess who got to drive to Seattle?

Yep, as soon as I wrangled Connor into the van we were off to drop everything at the center in person.  Poor Connor fell asleep in the car-- he wasn't particularly happy about missing his quiet time.  We squeaked in at about one in the afternoon, jogged into the elevator, hit the button for the fourth floor and dropped everything off at the front desk.  So now we just had to get home before the doctor called, as Jeremy and I were both supposed to be there for the conference.

And then after all of that, an hour before the appointment we got a phone call from the patient coordinator.  The doctor ended up having to reschedule due to an emergency.  So we're set up for next Thursday. 

Oh well.

It's probably for the best-- by this evening I'd completely lost my voice thanks to this glorious cold.  So I'm having to talk about an octave lower than I normally do, and it sounds kind of like I'm gargling gravel.  Hopefully by next Thursday I'll be able to talk without being mistaken for a frog!


Monday, March 26, 2012

In Which Our Day Is For The Birds (But Was Actually Just Fine)

Connor had another great day today!  I think he's got some allergies going because his nose is running a mile a minute, but since he still seems to be feeling pretty good and he had a great day at school I'm not too worried about it.

While the little guy was off having fun at preschool, I made some serious headway on cleaning out Ellen's room.  It's amazing how much stuff we've managed to fit in there in only two years!  Once I've got everything that's not Ellen-related moved out of the place, it will be time to paint. 

After his nap we drove up to the new wild birds store that recently opened up in a nearby shopping center.  Gus, our in-resident hummingbird, refuses to let any other hummingbirds eat at his feeder, which is hung in our front yard.  So I got two feeders for the backyard so that some of the other hummingbirds can catch a snack once in a while.  I hung one of them in a tree, but the other one is a window feeder kind of like the one we had on our house on post.  I hung it up on the side window of our sliding door so the whole family can enjoy watching.  I might get one for Ellen's window too, but we'll see what she thinks about the hummingbirds first; They can get pretty noisy sometimes. 

I also picked up some suet and birdseed for our big feeder, and since this was the store's grand opening they gave me a finch feeder for free, which is now hanging in another tree in our backyard.  We're going to have some serious fun birdwatching this year!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

In Which I Take A Road Trip

I had a roller derby bout down in Kennewick yesterday, which is about a four hour drive southeast of Puyallup.  So we spent the night down there at a local skater's house.  Unfortunately I forgot my laptop, so that's why I didn't blog last night.  But we won our bout, and it ended up being a whole lot of fun.  Road trips with my teammates are pretty much always a guarantee of a great time! 

I wish I'd taken my camera with me though, because the drive over the pass was just breathtaking.  Eastern Washington looks absolutely nothing like Western Washington, either-- it actually reminds me quite a bit of Texas.

So anyway, while I admired the scenery on the drive back home this morning Jer saw his brother to the airport.  We really enjoyed having him here this week; hopefully we can do it again some time soon!

I'm afraid that I brought a present back with me from the bout though; I woke up this morning with a seriously scratchy throat and while I originally hoped I was just allergic to something blooming in eastern Washington it's stuck with me all day.  I'm taking bets now on whether or not I'm going to have a voice in the morning. 

Luckily I don't have any important meetings or anything tomorrow; I think I'm going to start work on cleaning out Ellen's room in preparation for painting.  Also I have some derby committee work to catch up on since last week was devoted entirely to preparing adoption paperwork.  If the weather clears up tomorrow afternoon I might try to get a few more plants in the ground too; I stopped at a nursery on the way home and picked up three rosebushes along with some borage, catmint, lemon balm, french tarragon and cilantro. 

I brought a few sprigs of the catmint in and the cats went absolutely nuts, so I think that's going to be a big hit.  I planted it in an area where nothing else is going to get trampled if some of the neighbor cats decide they need to pay us a visit.  I got most everything in the ground this afternoon except for the roses, which will require a few hours of sunlight and quite a bit of digging to get in.  They're supposed to be a very fragrant variety, and I'm putting them in near the wheelchair ramp just off the deck so that hopefully Connor will be able to smell them when we're out in the yard.

We'll see if the weather cooperates!


Friday, March 23, 2012

In Which Connor Enters Super Hyper Mode

Connor on a Sugar High of DOOOOOOM
Jeremy's work held a chili cook-off today, and he came home with some cotton candy for Connor.  Connor was introduced to cotton candy on a trip to the Puyallup Fair with his respite care worker a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it, and so we bring it home for him once every four months or so as a special treat. 

Connor was already in an absolutely fantastic mood even before the cotton candy; last night he dreamed about something funny and started laughing in his sleep.  He ending up laughing so hard he not only woke himself up, but actually made himself throw up.  It must have been one heck of a dream!  Then the whole rest of the day he was full of giggles and smiles. 

When you combine Connor in a great mood with a major sugar high, hilarity ensues.  He was making some really interesting faces there for a while.  Unfortunately he was moving around way too much to capture most of them with the camera, but trust me when I say that they were pretty awesome.

Anyway, in between bites of cotton candy and the ensuing episodes of Total Freakout Hyper Mode, I did catch a few really sweet pictures of him helping his daddy play on the computer.  At one point he got a little too into helping and started pounding on the keyboard, which is a first for him.  Maybe we should start giving him cotton candy before his therapy sessions-- we'd probably get a lot more done!

Daddy's Big Helper!
We were actually planning on going to the Pacific Science Museum in Seattle today, but first we had to drop off all of Ellen's medical information at the Adoption Medical Center in the University district.  Unfortunately traffic was really bad, and by the time we got out of the center and grabbed a bite to eat it was too late for the museum. 

I did almost manage to kill us all by going the wrong way down a one-way street coming out of the parking garage though, so the trip wasn't a total loss as far as thrilling entertainment goes.  Whee!

Oh, and the wall print for Ellen's room came in the mail today.  I didn't want things to be totally bare in there, so I found one that's relatively abstract and could hang in another part of our house if she doesn't like it.  I also finished stuffing a couple of her cloud pillows.  So her room is coming along, bit by bit!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Which I Fill Out A Bajillion Forms

Today was a day for paperwork. 

I printed off all of the rest of the immigration forms we needed for Ellen this morning, and Jer signed them before he left for work.  Then while Connor was at school I spent several hours filling everything out, with the occasional call to our adoption agency for help.  Along with our child background, medical information, post-placement agreement and a number of other things it ended up being a document of over sixty pages-- quite the packet! 

Luckily the forms were for the most part much easier to fill out than our dossier paperwork and we'd already gotten all the sheets we needed to notarize finished, so things went relatively quickly.  I was able to finish everything up and then Connor and I took it up to the agency's office this afternoon.  We'll be doing some more paperwork for the social worker later, but for now everything that needs to be done is finished, and we're back to the waiting game!  I think the next big packet we'll have to fill out will be our travel documentation, which is kind of crazy to think about. 

I think Connor is either coming down with some a cold or has got some allergies going on; he was definitely snuffly today.  Despite having the sniffles, he was still in a pretty good mood and we didn't see any seizures today, which was nice.  He hasn't been too thrilled with me hauling him all over the place, and I'm not finished yet.  Tomorrow we're headed up to drop off all of Ellen's medical information at the Center For Adoption Medicine up in Seattle.  We have a phone consult with them next week about Ellen's health and development to help us best prepare for her arrival home.  That way we'll have all of the potential services she might need already set up and ready to go.

Despite a very busy day, the little guy is still wide awake.  I don't know how he does it; I'm exhausted!  Of course he didn't fill out sixty pages worth of paperwork either, so maybe that has something to do with it.  Oh well.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In Which Connor Sleeps Forever And We Visit The Notary

Connor seemed kind of off today; he slept in late, and then fell asleep around one in the afternoon and slept until five.  Then he crashed at bedtime again and it currently totally out.  I'm not sure if he just had an off day or if he's getting sick again; he did have a couple of small seizures today.  So I guess we'll see what he feels like tomorrow.

In between his sleeping in and gigantic nap we loaded up in the car and met Jer at the on-post notary's office to get some paperwork for this next stage of Ellen's adoption notarized.  I'll be turning in all of our immigration forms and other paperwork for her tomorrow, and then we should be pretty much done with paperwork for a while!  We want to get it in as soon as possible so it's all finished and we can move on to the next step immediately after we receive her TWIMC letter from Thailand.  Then we'll be back to the waiting game for a while.  Luckily I have plenty to do to keep busy in the meantime-- like getting her room ready. 

So after we got that paperwork notarized Jer went back to work, and his brother, Connor and I went out to lunch.  I've been hauling Jer's brother all over the place in pursuit of various adoption-related errands and he's been more than patient with me.  Hopefully we'll have the chance to cram some fun things in with him before he has to leave!

If Connor isn't sick, that is.  Keep your fingers crossed that the little guy will wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed tomorrow!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In Which Tut Tut It Looks Like Rain

Today while the guys played their various video games and Connor pounded on his keyboard in his stretching chair I took the opportunity to do a little sewing.  The bed we found Ellen is a wrought iron daybed with a trundle, and it needs lots of pillows so it can work as a seating area for her during the day. 

I visited the remnants section of a couple of fabric stores in the area and picked up five fabrics in various shades of blue, white and soft green (they aren't purple-- that's due to my camera and poor indoor lighting), and I'm making her some cloud pillows because, what the heck, clouds are neat. 

If she doesn't like them or wants something else (which is perfectly fine-- it's her room!) I can always use them in Connor's room, but at least with these she'll have some place to lounge comfortably right away.  I grabbed some fun buttons to use on a couple of them and I might pick up another fabric or two at some point because they're so simple to make.  I've got three of the shells for the pillows done so far-- they just need to be stuffed.  This is a super quick and easy sort of project. 

Loki helped, of course.  I've had to set aside pretty much all of my more complicated projects due to his overly helpful nature because when I go to the bathroom he takes the opportunity to run off with important bits of whatever I'm working on. 

I really need to get cracking on my cat-free garage studio! 


Monday, March 19, 2012

In Which We Go Grocery Store Shopping And I Go Back To Cooking School

Today after stopping by the adoption agency to drop off a letter of acceptance for Ellen's referral (whoo-hoo!) Connor, Jer's brother and I drove up to Uwajimaya, the huge Asian grocery store in Seattle.  There's a closer one in Renton, but we wanted to visit the huge bookstore that's part of Seattle's flagship store. 

I also I wanted to look for the ingredients I need to try and make Ellen's favorite dish, som tam! 

Som tam is a mouth-searing spicy salad that has a main ingredient of green (unripe) papaya and includes a tasty blend of thai chilis, lime juice, palm sugar, garlic, fish sauce, tomatoes, and long green beans.  It's served over sticky rice and usually topped with roasted peanuts or dried shrimp.  I was so excited to everything I needed there-- including the fresh green papaya, which is very difficult to find in the USA.  We're lucky that we live in an area that has such a large Thai population so there is a demand for the ingredients used in Thai food. 

I was also able to find a grater to use for shredding the papaya, which I figure was a good investment since I'll probably be making this dish a lot!  I figure trying to shred it the traditional way is a really good way to chop my hand off, given my general coordination in that department.  I like both my hands attached to the rest of me, so the grater is the way to go. 

I also picked up a few other ingredients that are commonly used in Thai dishes and are difficult to find in our local grocery store: kaffir lime leaves, some lemongrass and a box of coconut cream.  I've got a few other recipes I'd like to try out, and many of them call for one of more of those ingredients.  I think I'm going to have fun playing around in the kitchen in the next few weeks, and hopefully by the time Ellen comes home I'll have a few authentic Thai dishes I can make with confidence.

But of course I need to start with som tam, since it's the one that I know she loves.  Hopefully I can figure it out!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

In Which We Are Enjoying Our Visit

It's great having Jer's youngest brother here!  We don't get to see a lot of him because he's down in Texas, so it's nice to get the chance to catch up and hang out.  You can definitely tell that he's Connor's uncle because they share the exact same shade of white-blond hair.

We got our car window fixed yesterday, so Jeremy no longer has to drive around in forty degree temperatures with an open window.  Despite the odd weather we've been having lately (yesterday it rained, snowed, sleeted and was sunny in alternating five minute intervals) the dogwoods and flowering cherries are beginning to open up their buds and the hyacinths and crocus are in full bloom.  So I took my mason bees out of the refrigerator and they're in their little house now.  Hopefully they'll all hatch and we'll see some bees soon! 

Gus the hummingbird is claiming his territory as our house again this year and has been showing up every morning when I bring Connor in from school to provide commentary on my technique.  He must have a nest somewhere very nearby, though I don't know where it is.  He's very, very loud-- I can hear him from inside the house!  Hummingbirds are not native to Thailand, so hopefully he'll still be hanging around when Ellen comes home.  I'm thinking about putting a second feeder in the backyard so that maybe he'll let a few of the other hummingbirds in the area actually have something to eat for once.  It would be hard for him to guard both feeders at the same time!

Joanna came over last night to watch Connor and we went out to our favorite Greek restaurant where we stuffed ourselves.  I swear I could eat their Mediterranean chicken until I burst!  We thought about catching a movie, but in the end decided to head off to the bookstore, where we spent about an hour browsing. 

Because if there's one thing we need in this house, it's more books!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

In Which i Do A Lot Of Things And Talk About Ellen All Day

We had a busy day today!

Of course I had to get started right away on getting Ellen's room ready.  I am going to be nesting for the next few months like you wouldn't believe!  So she has a desk chair now (though no desk to go with it, as of yet) and I have plans to make her a pillow or two for her bed, though I won't be insulted if she decides they aren't her style. 

I also spent a bit of time cleaning in preparation for another Crafting Fun Time party, which happened this afternoon.  This time Joanna came and brought her massage chair (yes our respite care worker is a medical massage therapist, which is every bit as awesome as it sounds) and so not only did I have a fantastic time socializing and crafting with some lovely ladies, but I got forty minutes worth of massage too!  To top it all off there was chocolate involved as well, so it was pretty much all my favorite things wrapped up in one package.  I think I'm going to make a regular habit of these events. 

That is if anyone wants to come back, as I may or may not have talked about Ellen nonstop the entire party.  I admit to nothing!

Speaking of Ellen-- thanks so much for all of your well wishes and congratulations.  Quite a few of you have asked questions related to her adoption, and since many people are wondering about the same things I'll write up a post sometime during the next few days to answer them the best I can.  Thanks for your patience!

Anyway, shortly after the last crafters left it was time for Jer to drive to the airport and pick up Jeremy's brother, who's spending his spring break with us.  It's great that he's here to visit, and not just because I now have a captive audience to whom I can show every single picture and video we have of Ellen multiple times.  He's been very gracious so far about my gushing enthusiasm.   Connor was already in bed when the guys arrived home, but he's been pretty excited about having his uncle visit, so I'm sure he'll be pretty happy when he wakes up tomorrow and finds out that he's here.

So like I said, a busy day!


Friday, March 16, 2012

In Which We Have Incredible News

I was sitting at my computer this morning trying to figure out how to sign up for a class on Thai culture that the Thai Association of Washington is offering this summer when my phone rang.  It was our adoption coordinator.  "I got a package in the mail this morning," she said.  "It's your referral!"

Let me say that again with the proper emphasis.  It was our referral!!!!!  I can't possibly put enough exclamation points on there to convey how excited I am, but you get the general idea. 

The call was a complete and total surprise, as we weren't expecting to see Ellen's referral for another six months to a year.  I spent the rest of the day in a state of joyful, delirious shock, dancing around my living room in between making phone calls. 

So what does that mean for our family?  It means that we are officially matched with our daughter by the Thai government and that we can move forward on her adoption.  It also means that our projected timeline is bumped way the heck up.  While there are no guarantees, we're likely to be traveling some time between late summer and late fall.  We're no longer worried about her aging out before we are able to travel, and this year we'll be celebrating Christmas with our daughter! 

I can't tell you how thrilled I am about being able to write that sentence.  I just feel blessed beyond belief that this our adoption is really happening!

Because Thailand is a Hague Convention country (look here for more information on the Hague Convention adoption process) there are still quite a few things that have to happen before Ellen comes home, but this was a huge step forward and means that we are officially matched with her by the Thailand government. 

Here's a breakdown what needs to happen between now and the time we bring her home:

1.) We send the Thai Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW) an acceptance letter for her referral.  That's going out first thing Monday.

2.) Our agency reviews our paperwork and makes sure that everything is up to date and in good order.

3.) The DSDW board meets, confirms our acceptance and paperwork, and sends out a piece of paperwork known colloquially as the To Whom It May Concern letter (TWIMC).  Basically this contains permission from the Thai government for us to take custody of Ellen until her adoption is complete (Thai adoptions aren't finalized until at least six months after the child travels to the USA).  The TWIMC is the next big piece of paperwork we'll be waiting on.

4.) After receiving the TWIMC, our agency submits paperwork to the US government to have Ellen provisionally approved for immigration.  They also send paperwork to the Interstate Compact for the Protection of Children to receive final confirmation that it is in Ellen's best interests to be adopted by us and that all other options that would allow her to be adopted and remain in the country of her birth have been exhausted. 

5.) Once our agency receives all this paperwork back, they send it to the US Embassy in Bangkok.  The embassy processes it all and issues a Hague Convention Article 5 document, which they send to the DSDW.  This is an extremely important piece of paper that gives Ellen final permission to immigrate to America. 

6.) When the DSDW receives the Article 5, they will issue us an invitation to travel to Thailand and take custody of Ellen.   Then we get to fly over, meet Ellen, attend a DSDW board meeting for an interview.  After that we'll visit the US Embassy for her passport and US visa before heading home with our daughter! 

So that's why it will be a few more months before we travel to meet Ellen, and while I would love to bring her home now I'm grateful that all of these safeguards are in place to protect her and the other children in similar situations. 

And of course we were expecting to wait much longer for the fantastic news we got today.  I still can't believe that we're officially matched, and that we'll have her home before the end of the year!!! 

Oh my goodness, I better get to work on her room!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

In Which Someone Has A Smashing Good Time And It Is Not Me

While I was skating tonight, someone smashed out the passenger side window of our car (not Rowbert The Wheelchair Van, thank goodness) and stole Jeremy's weightlifting bag.  It was a smash-and-grab job; they hit two other cars in the parking lot as well.  I think they were probably disappointed because Jer's bag contained two very old pairs of shoes, his weightlifting log and a bottle of Excedrin-- quite the haul!  None of the other cars had anything valuable stolen either.

So I waited around with the two other lucky ladies who won the Burglar Lottery until the police drove up, filed a report and that was that.  However, having the window completely smashed out did not make the ride back to the house particularly fun for me.  There was glass all over the driver's side seat so I had to sit on my jacket during the thirty-five minute drive home, and of course it was forty degrees outside and halfway there it started raining sideways.  So that was terribly pleasant. Jeremy is out as we speak trying to find a store that's still open and stocks heavy plastic to cover the window until we can get it fixed.  Whee!

Oh well-- it could have been so much worse.  They could have, you know, stolen the whole car.  And now I'm home wrapped up in a cozy blanket with a cup of tea, some homemade bread slathered with a generous helping of marionberry jam, and three kinds of cheese.  So the night is looking up, even if judging by the amount of noise Connor is making right now he plans to be up until two in the morning.  Jer promised to bring me some chocolate from whatever store he goes to and finds the plastic sheeting for the car window.  I predict things will improve exponentially shortly after he gets home. 

Guess it was just one of those days!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Which We See Our Daughter In Action

We got our CD of Ellen in the mail today!  I'm pacing myself; so far I've only watched her interview about five times.  An hour. 

It's a ten minute video so that's about all I can fit in with bathroom breaks.

Anyway, she's really grown and is looking to be quite the young lady now!  Jeremy was thrilled to learn that she enjoys playing "fighting games" on the computer.  I think he's looking forward to introducing her to World of Warcraft.  And I was delighted to discover that when she laughs, she wrinkles her nose up just like I do!  We can't wait to hear that lovely laugh in person.

I thought that Connor had school today, but it turns out that I was confused and had the snow schedule wrong.  Connor's teacher was gracious enough to call me this morning and make sure I knew that he didn't have school today, because she is completely awesome like that!  Seriously-- this woman should be teacher of the year, people.  Probably of the decade. 

So instead we hung out at home and I worked Connor's tail off with stretching, stander and squatting exercises among other things.  He tried to fall asleep on me late in the afternoon, so I think he's actually going to get some sleep tonight.  Whoo hoo!  Now if only I can actually fall asleep-- these nine-in-the-evening-or-two-in-the-morning bedtimes do really weird things to my sleep cycle.

Otherwise the day was relatively uneventful; we watched Ellen's CD a whole bunch of times, did laundry (Cricket helped by sitting on whatever clothing I was attempting to fold), worked on a sewing project or two and just cleaned up the place a bit.  For those of you who asked, I did manage to get outside today and take a quick shot of the backyard.  It's changed quite a bit since we moved in! 

The deck and and backyard when we moved in.

It's still looks a little bare and raggedy because it's winter time, and we've got a lot of new space to fill now.  Still, I can't wait to get started planning what we're going to put in!  I know it's not the same camera angle-- sorry about that-- but for reference the conifer at the foreground of the 'before' picture would be growing through the top of the bench in the after picture if it was still there.

So yeah-- quite the change, huh?  We've still got a long way to go, but it's a good start!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In Which Connor Feels Much Better And I Start Work On Ellen's Room

Ellen's room so far-- we've got a long way to go!
 I woke up this morning to discover snow on the ground.  Then over the course of the next eight hours we had sleet, sunshine until half the snow was melted, more snow, hail, more sunshine, sleet and snow again.  So you get no photos of my backyard today because all the lovely work they did was buried under various layers of snow, sleet and hail, and also because there's no way I was standing out there to get any pictures.  Apparently it's supposed to rain hard overnight, too and be down in the mid-thirties.  So much for spring!

Connor is much improved (no seizures today!), and barring unforeseen circumstances he'll be back in school tomorrow.  He doesn't usually have school on Wednesdays, but this one is a snow makeup day from that huge (for this area, anyway) snowstorm we had a couple of months ago.  Happily, his strep test came back negative so it was probably just a bug. 

I still feel lousy, but hopefully it won't last too much longer for me either.

I went out this evening after Jer got home and bought the first decorative item purchase for Ellen's room.  It's a cushion for her desk chair in a lovely briny blue color.  We're going to leave her room mostly undecorated so that she can make it her own when she gets here, but of course she'll need a few essentials and since we now know that her favorite color is blue I feel a little more comfortable buying those things. 

At the minimum she needs a bed with bedding, desk, chair, bookcase, lighting, clothing storage and a seating area before she gets here, and maybe one piece of art for her walls so the room isn't totally bare when she arrives.  So far we've just got the bed and a lamp, so we still have quite a bit to find!  I finally caved in and started a pintrest site so I could keep things I'm looking at for inspiration at hand, so if you want to see that you can check it out here.  We know she absolutely loves to swim, so a seaside/oceany sort of color combo feels safe to me. 

We can always change it if she doesn't like it when she gets here!


Monday, March 12, 2012

In Which We Have A Fantastic Day!

I'm sick and Connor is sick and I'm beyond exhausted, and today was blustery and rainy and 40 degrees out, but it was also a completely awesome day for two reasons. 

The first was that the same landscaping company who came last year and pulled out all 400+ square feet of The Ivy That Was Eating The House came back and did some more sprucing up of our yard.  They trimmed up our trees and shubbery (which were threatening to take over the ivy's role of eating the fence and/or house) took out a bunch of bushes which had lived well past their prime years or were being shaded out, weeded, mulched all of our beds, started the process of rejuvenating our lawn and just made everything look fantastic.  I'll try and take a few pictures of the backyard tomorrow provided it is not hailing or sleeting or something so that you can see how great it looks.  I'm itching to get out and plant in my new beautiful beds.

And the second fantastic thing that happened was that we got our call from the adoption agency!

They were able to spend quite a bit of time with Ellen, and they'll be sending the video and pictures of their interview with her to us sometime in the upcoming week.  You can bet I'll be checking my mailbox about eight billion times a day until our package arrives!  Last year the agency's camera malfunctioned and they weren't able to take video, so the most recent video we have of her (other than the tiny glimpses I've managed to find by obsessively watching every YouTube video of her orphanage ever created) is from 2010, when she was twelve years old.  We do have some fantastic pictures of her taken more recently than that of course, but I can't wait to see her in action.

Overall it sounds like she is doing extremely well!  Though I haven't seen the report yet, apparently she's still really enjoying Thai dancing and competitive swimming, and she's really dedicated to swimming.  Luckily there are a ton of great swim team programs up this way (including a paralympic training program) so when we get closer to traveling I'll start really doing my homework and then we can find the best program to help her pursue her swimming goals. 

The school year has also been going well for her-- she even earned a certificate for academic achievement!  Her favorite subjects in school this year are science and PE, and her least favorite subject is still math, which was also the bane of my existence at her age.  Oh, and the care package we sent back in January finally made it (note to self: priority mail is the way to go unless you want eight week mailing times) and since our agency brought one over too, she got to open both at once.  We sent paint chips over for her to select a color for her room, and she picked out blue (specifically Meditative by Sherwin-Williams, for those of you who want to know), which is apparently her favorite color right now.  So I can get started on that project soon!

It's little details like knowing her favorite color that I absolutely love hearing about.  Each tidbit we learn about her helps us get a better picture of who she is and makes the long wait a little easier.   We know every day brings us a little closer to being as a family, but sometimes the time just seems to crawl by!  I really wish it was possible for us to be over there getting to know her gradually and naturally so the transition would be so much easier for her, but between Jer's military job and Connor's complete lack of sweating (104 degree summers, anyone?) it's just not possible-- not to mention that we're too early in the adoption process for that kind of contact anyway.  But since we can't do that, every little tidbit we learn about her helps us have a more realistic idea about who she is and I think will certainly help the bonding process on our side.  We hope our care packages are doing a similar thing for her, and we feel extremely blessed to be able to send them. 

Not that I really need help with the whole bonding thing; I am totally head over heels for this kid already.  It's going to be hard to say no to that megawatt smile!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

In Which Connor Is A Sickikin

Connor had a really rough day today.

The little guy didn't say a word all day, which is pretty much unheard of for him.  The last time he did this he ended up being diagnosed with strep throat.  He wouldn't let me take a look in his mouth, but considering the fact that he has a fever, had a ton of seizures today and was not at all his happy self, I suspect that we might be seeing the beginnings of another strep throat infection. 

Oh, and there's another reason why I think his throat may be hurting; now I'm feeling lousy too.  I've got a killer headache this evening and I'm now eating throat lozenges like candy.  Glorious.

So I may end up trying to take the little guy in to the doctor's office tomorrow.  His lymph nodes don't feel swollen to me or Jer, but they didn't last time either so that's not a clear indication one way or the other.  Hopefully his doctor will be able to get a clearer look at his throat and, if nothing else, rule out strep as the possible culprit.  It very well could be a viral infection, in which case we'll just have to wait it out.  If he does have strep, I'd like to get him on an antibiotic as soon as possible to take care of the issue.  His immune system seems to be kind of fragile right now, so it would be nice to give it a bit of help if we can.

So no school for the little guy tomorrow.  Hopefully he'll feel better soon!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

In Which Connor Rides His Tricycle And The Day Goes Downhill

Connor's day started out pretty well; he and I slept in while Jeremy drove down to one of the local coffee shops and brought home breakfast.  I only have the best husband in the history of everything.

Anyway, Connor had a birthday party to go to in the afternoon so we figured we'd get his therapy finished early.  Jer and I strapped him in and he rode around on the tricycle in the house for the first time.  We need to get him a new helmet before we try out the trike outside (and besides, it was raining to beat the band today) but we figured he wasn't going to roll down any really fast hills inside so it was okay to try it out anyway.

Connor loves it.

Right now he doesn't have the muscle strength to make the bike move forward all by himself, but if you give him a little help at the top of each pedal's cycle he's able to push them down the rest of the way.  So we made very, very slow progress around the living room and hallway.  He won't touch the handlebars yet, which we pretty much expected, but it was exciting to see just how hard he was concentrating on pushing the pedals down and making it go! 

The tricycle wore him out much faster than we expected-- he only spent about five minutes on it before he was drooping in his seat.  We took him out even though he protested and he promptly went to sleep on one of our library chairs.  Jer took off for the gym, and our plan was to leave for the birthday party when he got back.  The little guy woke up about half an hour after he went down, had a small seizure, and promptly went back to sleep and slept until just before Jer got home.  He seemed to be feeling a bit down, but we thought it was because he'd worked so hard on his trike.  We packed up and left for the party.

We hadn't been on the road more than five minutes when Connor had a big seizure-- the kind where we have to pull over because he was turning blue in his chair.  He hasn't had a seizure that big in the car in several months.  Jer turned into an access road and we hopped out and lay Connor down on the van floor, where as soon as the seizure was over he fell asleep.  Obviously the birthday party was out of the question, so we turned around and headed home. 

As we were getting ready to put him down in bed I noticed his cheeks felt awfully warm.  Sure enough, the little guy was running a fever.  Guess who's sick again?  We gave him some Tylenol and he spent the rest of the afternoon asleep.  I hope he's feeling better tomorrow after some good rest-- especially since he just got over a bug. 

Being sick is no fun!


Friday, March 9, 2012

In Which Connor Gets Some New Wheels!

We picked up Connor's new tricycle today! 

For those of you interested in specifics, it's the small Rifton Adaptive Tricycle in a lovely shade of blue.  I forgot to bring my camera with me, so sadly I don't have any pictures of him trying it out for the first time.  I couldn't recreate it later in the day, either, because he was so worn out from seizures (he had just one today, thankfully), school and the bike that he fell asleep in car on the way home.  Oh well.

While I'm sorry that I didn't catch his first ride on the bike, I think it's going to be fantastic for him!  Everything is set on the shortest or tightest position and the bike can accommodate a child who weighs up to 150 pounds, so he's got a lot of growing room. 

When they brought the trike out for him, he applauded-- that's how excited he was about having a trike to ride again after having long outgrown his other one.  Obviously he remembers those rides and is really excited about having some wheels again.  My only regret is that we didn't get him this one sooner! 

He wasn't able to move the bike himself in the pharmacy as we were on a rug that gave a little too much resistance, but he was trying so hard to push the pedals that his legs were shaking.  He's super motivated to make it go!  We'll play with it indoors until the next sunny day, and then I'm going to take it down to Bradley Park.  There are a couple of really gentle slopes along the trail, and I think that with that extra help he might be able to get the bike moving himself.  I'm hoping this will be a fantastic way to build his muscle strength and give him a way to be just like all the other kids at the playground. 

Hooray for new adventures!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

In Which We Spend Some Time Outdoors And I Am A Lousy Driver

It was sunny and gorgeous outside today, so I took Connor's stander out onto the deck and did some work in the garden while he did his stander time and played with his iPad.  After his hour was up I moved him to his floor chair, which works really well outside.  It was great to have the chance to share the sunny day with the little guy; hopefully he got some good vitamin D!

We got a phone call from our pharmacy today; Connor's tricycle has arrived!  We're going to go in for his fitting and to pick it up tomorrow.  I'm hoping we'll have some more of these lovely summer days so that we can take it for a spin outside!  If not, we'll just toodle around in the living room.  Laminate floors let you do that sort of thing, and it's not likely Connor will bang the walls up too much.

No, banging the walls up is my job around here; Connor's wheelchair is big and a couple of our doors-- especially the front door and the door to Connor's room-- are beginning to show wear and tear at the bottom from the times I've miscalculated and whacked them with the footrest on the chair.  Jer and I are talking about the possibility of installing a kick plate on those doors to protect them from the bumps and dings.  They're fairly inexpensive, attractive, easy to install and should help cut down on the damage.  Now if only I could do the same for the walls!  Someday a few years down the road we may end up installing wainscoting in the hallway for the same purpose, as that's the area that seems to get bumped up the most. 

Or I could just learn how to steer the dang wheelchair.  That would probably work too.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In Which Patience Is A Virtue I Don't Possess And Connor Feels Lousy

No phone call today.

Okay, realistically I should know better than to expect the agency to call me the first day they are back in the office.  The Thailand adoption director calls every family in the program personally to talk about the trip.  If there are only, say, a dozen families in the program and she spends only half an hour on the phone with each one (and I would imagine these calls usually take more than half an hour because the families want to squeeze every last detail of the trip out of the director), calls the next family instantly and doesn't take any bathroom breaks or anything that's still six hours of phone calls.  And she's been out of the office for over a week, so I'm sure she has absolutely nothing to catch up on in between phone calls-- not to mention all of the compiling of the information that she has to do of the children that the families in the waiting child program are attempting to adopt and the sixty or so other kids that aren't matched with families yet.  And of course last year it took them a couple of days to call me. 

So yeah, logically I shouldn't have expected one today.  Now if I could just shut off that annoying inner voice that keeps screaming about how I should be FIRST because MY child is the MOST IMPORTANT child and I need all of the information RIGHT NOW, I'll be good to go. 

Patience-- not my best virtue.  I need to work on that. 

I think that Connor is getting sick again-- the little guy was super sniffly and tired today.  When I put him in his stander, he was okay for about five minutes and then his lower lip started quivering and his eyes filled with tears.  It was the saddest thing ever-- especially since he almost never cries.  He calmed down quickly after I stroked his hair for a little bit, sang him a song and covered the top of the stander tray with a nice soft cloth.  Then he put his forearms on the tray, lay his head down on top of them and took a nap while standing up.  That was his third nap of the day, so you know he wasn't feeling good. 

I felt really guilty about making him do his standing work even though he was obviously feeling under the weather, but if he's getting sick than he'll probably be completely wiped out the next few days and so it was important to get what therapy we could done today while he's still able to do it.   On Wednesdays he doesn't have school, so what we do at home is the only therapy he gets that day.  After the short meltdown and his twenty-minute nap he perked back up and seemed to be feeling okay by the end of his standing hour.  Once I took him out he snuggled up to me, crashed on my chest and slept for another hour or so.  It's difficult to know just how hard to push him sometimes.

I hope that today was just a fluke and he's feeling better tomorrow.  This winter has been a tough one for the little guy in the health department, so he deserves to catch a break!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In Which Connor Works Hard

The director of our adoption agency's Thailand program should be home from her trip and back in the office tomorrow, so hopefully we'll get a call with an update about Ellen!  I'm going to be absolutely glued to my phone.  I always get a bit nervous about these trips, so hopefully we'll have some good news!

Connor worked extremely hard today; his occupational therapist at school said it was just about the best day she's ever had with him.  Then to top it off, he stood up in his stander through the entire Muppet Treasure Island movie!  That's about an hour and a half of standing, which is impressive.  I'm going to have to start figuring out a new motivation for him to keep standing pretty soon if he keeps going at this rate or else he'll be watching way too much TV. 

I'm so proud of him!

The combination of standing, all the hard work at school and a few short seizures completely wore the little guy out, and he fell asleep on our bed at seven in the evening.  That hasn't happened in a really long time, so you know he was really, really tired.  I'll take it a little easy on him tomorrow as he's likely to be a bit sore, but then we'll go right back to building up that time again.  I'd like to work him up to two or three one-hour sessions a day.

It's important that Connor get as much time in the stander as possible because it will do several great things for him.  Not only does it help stretch out his tight hip flexors and hamstrings, but it also helps his bones become more dense.  Children who spend a lot of time in wheelchairs and don't bear weight on their legs often are at risk of having their bones break easily because they aren't as strong as a walking person's bones would be. 

It will also greatly lower his chances of having pressure ulcers, which are caused when someone stays in one position for too long a period of time.  Luckily we haven't had any issues at all with bed sores so far-- probably because we never leave the kid in one position for long-- but the best way to treat pressure ulcers is to prevent them from happening in the first place so anything we can do helps!

I'm thinking that maybe once we have sunny skies again I'll start taking Connor and his stander to the park.  It's got some nice wheels, so the two of us could have a lovely walk.  We might get some weird looks, but we're kind of used to that at this point.  Connor loves walks, so I think that might be a pretty good motivator!


Monday, March 5, 2012

In Which Gus Comes To Visit And Takes Me To Task

Last night Connor stayed up until almost four in the morning, which was not nearly as delightful for me as it sounds.  No word on the night nurse program yet-- it can't happen soon enough as far as I'm concerned!

So I ended up getting about two hours of sleep, which did not combine very well with the whole still-getting-over-being-sick thing.  However, even in my half-delirious state I couldn't ignore Gus when I got home from picking Connor up from school.

Gus is the male Anna's hummingbird who lives somewhere nearby our house and visits us year round.  He's a cheeky, impatient little thing who considers our yard his personal property, and he's been known to eat out of our feeder while I'm still holding on to it.  When he's not flitting about the place keeping our yard bug free (hummingbirds eat a lot of bugs) he likes to hang out on top of one of our flowering cherry trees, where he has a good view of his whole territory. 

With the crazy winter we've had as far as Connor's health goes (today was not exception-- he had three seizures), I've been falling down on the job of filling up our hummingbird feeder-- it's been empty for several weeks.  Now we have other neighbors who feed the hummingbirds too and Gus is a little butterball, so I know he's getting more than enough food.  Gus apparently wasn't thrilled with my job performance however, so he decided to give me a piece of his mind this morning.  When I got Connor out of the van and was standing there waiting for the door to close, I heard his characteristic grouchy cheeping at top volume coming from his usual perch.  Gus doesn't sing, he pontificates at length.  When I ignored him and headed for the door, he decided he wasn't getting his point across.  So he dive-bombed me and buzzed my head. 

A word to the wise-- hummingbirds are very cute at a distance.  Hummingbirds chattering angrily at you while hovering six inches from your eyes are very cute but also kind of terrifying.  Also their wings are loud.

So I refilled the feeder.  He's got me well trained.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

In Which We Have A Great Day

So I went to the sewing expo today, and it simultaneously awe inspiring and really depressing all at the same time.  It was awe inspiring because of the sheer amount of talent concentrated in the space; I've never seen so many gorgeous quilts, christening gowns, art dolls, and hats in my entire life.  It was depressing for the same reason-- I was completely overwhelmed by the glorious creativity of these people and the stuff I've made doesn't compare well. 

Oh well-- I'll keep plugging along!

My favorite booth by far was one called "Treasures of the Gypsy," which is based out of New Mexico, and if you live in New Mexico I seriously envy you right now because they don't do online sales so I have to wait a whole entire year to go shopping there again.  The entire top of the booth was covered with beautiful art dolls of every shape and size, and the booth was full of silk, antique saris, trim and ribbon of every variety imaginable, and about fifteen different colors of sequins.  I didn't take any close up pictures of the art dolls because they're someone else's work, but believe me when I say that they were stunning.

I may possibly have bought a ridiculous number of sequins, but hey, they are really, really hard to find.  The last time I went to the craft store and asked for sequins the employee had no idea what I was talking about.  Really.  Apparently the only people who use sequins now are me, figure skaters and drag queens.  So I was pretty excited to not only find some sequins, but to find them in some unusual colors. 

Other purchases included some mirrors and rings for shisha embroidery, and a large piece of glorious hand-dyed felt in blues, purples and greens.  I'm intrigued by the idea of incorporating shisha mirrors into my felt projects.  I have all sorts of ideas, but of course my crafting supplies are scattered all over the place right now while we work on the studio and also I have several projects I need to finish up before I start anything new.  I might sketch a few things out for later, though.

So after I finished playing at the sewing expo I ate some lunch, came back home and we all went out for a nice walk around the neighborhood.  The sun came out today and the weather was just beautiful, so it was the perfect day for a walk.  Once we got back home I picked up a spade and did a bit of gardening.  I got a few plants in the ground and was happy to see that the garden only suffered a few casualties over the winter.

So overall it was a lovely day!



Saturday, March 3, 2012

In Which We Have A Better Day

Instead of blogging last night, I fell asleep.  That's what happens when you have Martian Death Flu and go out on a date anyway.  Sorry about that.

The date was fun (except for the Martian Death Flu part of course); we went out to our favorite Greek restaurant and then split the rest of the evening between sitting in the coffee shop and grocery shopping.  I know-- exciting, right?  But due to the fact that everyone's been sick for a week, we were pretty much out of food, so it needed to be done.  I think more than anything Jer and I just needed to spend some time together, so it didn't really matter what we were doing.

Today I felt much better, possibly due to the fact that I got something like fourteen hours of sleep.  It didn't rain today, so I finally got up on a ladder and took down the Christmas lights, a mere three months after Christmas was over.  I also drove downtown and stopped by the library, the cheese shop, one of the coffee shops on our usual rounds and the little bakery.  There were a ton of people walking around-- the cheese shop was full to the gills-- and I ended up asking someone what was going on.  It turns out that the annual sewing expo is happening right now at the Puyallup Fair, which I was really excited by.  I didn't have the chance to stop in today, but I think I'm going to try and go tomorrow.  They apparently have a seminar on needlefelting that I'd love to go to. 

Anyway, so I'm over the worst of this glorious illness and am on the mend.  Connor seems to be feeling pretty good too, though he's still really congested.  He doesn't bounce back as quickly as Jer and I do.  He should be able to go back to school on Monday, though.  I think he's looking forward to it after being cooped up in the house for a few days!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

In Which I Don't Feel So Hot

Bleargh.  Now we are all sick.

Connor woke up this morning with no voice and his noise completely crusted over, so he stayed home from school today.  We spent pretty much the whole day sitting on the couch moving as little as possible except to renew my supply of cough drops and to get Connor's medication.  The little guy seemed to be feeling quite a bit better by the afternoon, while I still felt like death warmed over.  Jeremy went back to work though, so he seems to be over the worst of it. 

I'm going to see how everyone feels tomorrow morning before deciding whether or not we need to cancel our respite care.  It's not so much how me and Jer are feeling as it is Connor-- we can't have him exposing his buddy C to all sorts of nasty germs.

So yeah, nothing to report.  I hate being sick.

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