Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In Which Santa Is Revealed And It's Almost Christmas

So the kids are in bed (though it's likely neither child is asleep as they're both too excited), Santa has come and gone, and in just a few hours it will be Christmas!

As tempting as it was to leave Eden in the dark about the true identity of Santa for just one year as this is her first Christmas home, we figured we'd be setting her up for some major teasing at school if we didn't clue her in.  We made sure to tell her, however, that Connor doesn't know and that she should keep it a secret.

 She was absolutely delighted to be let in on the grand conspiracy, and it's adorable how she talks about Santa with a whole lot of grinning and exaggerated winking.  It's a good thing Connor doesn't pick up on that sort of stuff, because I'm pretty sure if he was a typical kid he would have figured out something was up about twenty seconds after we told his sister.

Oh well-- Connor could care less about where the presents come from, anyway.  He's way more interested in the wrapping paper, which makes delightfully crinkly noises.  And Eden's super excited to be let in on a "grown-up" kind of secret, so it all works out.

 Anyway, I hope tomorrow is filled with peace and joy for all of you, or if you have children, with joyful chaos followed by peace some time late in the afternoon when the kids' Christmas cookie sugar-high wears off.

Merry Christmas to you all!


Monday, December 23, 2013

In Which Christmas Makes Me Overly Sappy Again

The lights are up in our neighborhood, presents are piled up high under our tree, and frost laces its way across our windows in the morning.  It's almost Christmas.

As I cozy up next to Jeremy on the couch, I'm reminded of all the things I have to be grateful for this season.  It's been over four years since I almost lost him in Afghanistan, and it's moments like these, when I'm sitting in our house, watching the cats dozing by the fire and the children reading a book together, that I feel most intensely just how incredibly blessed I am to have my family here.

This is a family built of almost wasn'ts-- a son who almost died, a daughter we almost never met, a husband saved by a vehicle that was armored just enough.  And while this place we are now is never somewhere we would have thought to go, I'm so glad we're here.

It's funny how all of those "almost wasn'ts" have made me, I think, into a stronger, better person, because I've had he chance to learn lessons in courage, in perseverance, and in living a happy life despite hardship from the best people I could think to learn from: my family.  How could my life be unhappy when I'm surrounded by examples of what living a life to its fullest potential should be about?

So I'm glad it's almost Christmas, even though I procrastinate and have to stay up way too late wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, I miss my siblings and all my other relatives who live far away, the kids get really bored and drive me nuts over Winter Break, and Jer has to leave again soon.  I can't imagine a better place to spend it this and every year, than right here, once again, against the odds.

Who could ask for more?


Sunday, December 22, 2013

In Which We're Back To Business As Usual

This morning we celebrated Eden's adoption at our church, which was lovely.  It's so nice to have a community that supports us and really makes us all feel at home!  And my parents brought a cake, which was an added bonus.  You can never go wrong with cake.

Connor stayed up until five in the morning, so we were all pretty tired though-- except for Eden, who was full of her usual energy.  I suspect she was a bit bored today, as we spent most of our time quietly at home.  Oh well-- we'll have a busy schedule tomorrow.  The little guy crashed at around seven and we have our night nurse anyway, so we should get plenty of sleep tonight.  Hooray for sleep!

Both the kids are off of school for their Winter Break, so we can all sleep in for a bit tomorrow.  Both the kids have their therapies though, and I need to get a bunch of last-minute things done for Christmas.  It always seems to sneak up on me!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

In Which We Have A Fun Family Sort Of Day

This morning we all slept in, which was lovely.  Then after a leisurely breakfast, we headed over to the local skating rink for some quality family time!  The rink in our town offers a Saturday morning skating session where wheelchairs are allowed on the floor, so it's an ideal time for our whole family to be able to do some roller skating together.  

Surprisingly enough, Eden loves roller skating even though it's really, really difficult for her.  Her cerebral palsy affects her balance and gait in a significant way, so moving around on skates is really tough.  But she's pretty fearless and, if given the opportunity, would probably be a speed demon on them-- she wants to go as fast as possible whenever we're pulling her around the floor.  

We've only taken her a couple of times as it's tough for me to both push Connor's wheelchair and offer her a supporting hand, but I suspect that once Jer's home it will become a favorite Saturday activity of ours.  This time she really started to get the hang of moving her feet side to side, and I think it might even be possible for her to skate on her own without support one day!  

Connor really enjoys skating too-- I think he likes the feel of the wind on his face, and all the flashing lights and music.  Luckily his seizures aren't the kind to be triggered by lights, or we'd be in trouble.  He spent a good portion of the time carefully waving to all the people on the side of the rink every time we went by them, which was pretty cute.  I think he really liked having his sister out there, too.  

And I miss skating really, really badly since I can't do roller derby right now with Jer gone.  It was so nice to be able to strap on my skates again, even if I was forced to skate really, really slowly since I was pushing the little guy's chair most of the time.  The rink frowns on running over small children, and Connor's wheelchair doesn't exactly turn on a dime.

So after a couple hours skating, we headed home, made some popcorn, and sat down together to watch the first Star Wars movie (technically Episode IV, but it's the first one that counts, anyway).  Jeremy was appalled to discover that Eden had never seen any of the Star Wars or the Indiana Jones movies, and he decided we needed to fix this immediately.  We didn't actually have any of them on DVD (we had a VCR up until we moved into this house), so we had to run out last night and get some so that we could finish up all the movies before Christmas break is over.  

I'm not sure how much Eden followed of the movie, but she dutifully sat through it before declaring that it was "okay," but it "didn't have enough fighting in it."  Poor Jeremy.  He's probably going to make her sit through all the rest of them anyway, though.  Poor Eden.  Oh well; at least Jer and I will enjoy ourselves.

Then we played a few games of Wi Tennis and Bowling, ate dinner, put Connor down for bed and finally played a game of Skipbo before heading that way ourselves.  So it was a fun, relaxing day!


Friday, December 20, 2013

In Which We Have A Daughter For Keeps

We're officially a family of four!

I'm so, so happy to announce that today, just after nine in the morning, we stood before a judge and finalized our adoption forever.  It was an emotional and jubilant day, and I'm so, so glad we've finally gotten there!

We were all a bit nervous-- Eden in particular-- as we headed into the court room.  The judge was fantastic, however, and put us all at ease by trying out some Thai on us!  It turns out he'd recently traveled to Thailand, so he knew a few words.

We were sworn in, confirmed that we wanted finalize, and Eden told everyone that she wanted to be adopted by us.  The judge made the big decree with a smile on his face; it was obvious he loved presiding over adoptions!  Then our pastor, who was kind enough to accompany us to the court room on our big day, said a few lovely words.  After that I tried to say something about how proud and happy I was to see this day, and instead managed to cry instead.  Oh well!

My parents came with us, and it was so nice to have them there in the court room with us to share in our joy as our family was confirmed in the eyes of the law.  Eden's name has been legally changed now to the full name she chose for herself, and we can now move on to the next step (yes, there are still more steps to the adoption process) and apply for her U.S. citizenship.

So we've declared today to be our official "Family Day," and we plan to celebrate it every year.

I'm so glad we're a family forever!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

In Which It's Almost The Big Day

So today Eden and I went out shopping for a new snazzy outfit, because tomorrow is our adoption finalization!  It's so exciting to know that in just a few hours we'll be standing up in court and reaffirming our promise to care and love her as her parents forever.  We'll finally be a family not just in our hearts, but legally as well.  We're all a bit nervous, but really happy the day is here after such a long wait.

So I took Eden out and got her a whole new outfit for the big day.  The shopping trip was a lot of fun, with one exception.  We were almost finished and just looking for a really nice blouse or shell to go with the rest of her outfit, and we stopped in a store called Thorium at the local mall in Puyallup.  We'd been in a couple of times before and really liked a lot of their stuff.

Eden and I were not dressed up for the occasion, and we'd been shopping for an hour and a half or so at this point so we were looking a bit worse for wear.  One of the employees at the store walked up as we entered and asked us what we were looking for.  I showed her Eden's new blazer, told her we were looking for something to go underneath it, and told her a bit about Eden's style-- nothing frilly, girly, etc.

"What's your price range?" she asked, looking Eden up and down.  I told her the lower end of my budget, which I knew from past shopping trips in the store was within the range of what they had.  "Well, I might have a few things," she said in a dubious tone, "but we mostly carry designer clothes here.  Sorry."


So that's one store I will never be shopping in ever, ever again.  Too bad-- they had some cute shoes.  Evidently Eden doesn't look like the type of kid who would wear designer clothes.  She was really, really quiet on the way home.  Way to put a damper on the occasion, Thorium.

Other than that, the day went well.  We eventually found what we were looking for at another store, and so we're all ready for our big day tomorrow!  Connor only had one seizure and it was a pretty short one, and since the kids are missing school for court tomorrow they're now officially on Winter Break.  Christmas is coming up fast, and I can't think of a better way to spend it than as an official, legal family.  Best Christmas ever!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In Which We Have A Quiet Day

Connor had three seizures today; two small ones and a slightly longer one in the afternoon.  He seemed to be feeling a bit under the weather-- he might be getting sick.  Hopefully he'll be feeling better tomorrow; it's no fun to be sick any time, but especially not when his daddy's here!

Otherwise the day went just fine; we had respite care and Eden had a Christmas party, so Jer and I took the opportunity to go out on a date, which was nice.  We tried going to a sushi restaurant, but they were so full they didn't want to seat anyone else.  So we ate Thai food instead.  Thai food is always a favorite in our house!  

When we got home Connor was fast asleep, so after Eden came back from her party the three of us hung out in the living room for a while.  Jer played one of his computer games, and Eden and I watched a Korean drama together.  Eden watched a lot of Korean dramas in Thailand, but they were dubbed into Thai.  The English subtitles are good practice for her reading, and I like the mother-daughter time with her.  

So it was a nice, quiet evening, and we all had a good time.   It's so nice to be able to hang around the house with the whole family at home.  The only thing that would have made it better is if Connor had been feeling well and snuggling with us instead of sleeping.  Keep your fingers crossed that he's not getting sick!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In Which We Have A Normal Day

It was just so great hanging out with Jer today; I could definitely get used to this!  Since the kids are still in school, it's kind of like every day is a date day for the two of us right now.  I don't really have a problem with that.

We didn't do anything really out of the ordinary today; he and I went shopping for Christmas presents, picked up some groceries, cleaned house, and then picked up Connor from school.  Jer helped Eden with her reading while I got dinner ready, I worked with Eden on her physical therapy while Jer got Connor up from his nap, and then we all took off for Eden's swim practice.  It was an ordinary day, but it felt really nice.

It's so much easier corralling two children with a second pair of hands.  Jer will be here long enough that I'm going to get all spoiled and used to being able to ask someone else to help or watch the kids really quickly while I pop out to the store for just a second.  It's so weird being able to leave the house on the spur of the moment!  Of course if he was home for good he'd be working during the day so I wouldn't have the extent of freedom that I've got right now, but I'm certainly going to take advantage of it while I can.

I suspect that once Jer's home for good there will be a bit more of an adjustment; these twelve days will be the longest he's been home in one stretch since Eden joined our family.  So around this time next year we'll be making the transition into having him back full-time again, and she'll start figuring out the role of a dad is a bit more than having an awesome person to talk to over the phone!  We may have a bit of trouble with jealousy on the childrens' part as they're used to having my full attention, but hopefully things will go smoothly overall.

It's quite a while before we really have to think about that though; I'll worry about that as we get closer to the time when he's here for more than a few days at a stretch.  Right now I just want to focus on him being here!


Monday, December 16, 2013

In Which Jer Is Here And Everything Is Awesome

Jeremy's home!

He drove over 2,200 miles in two and a half days-- can you tell he wanted to be here now?  He got here around 1:00 in the afternoon, and went with me to go pick up Connor from school.  The little guy was so excited when he saw his daddy!  And Eden was super excited too when she came home from school to find his car in the driveway.  It's so great to have him here.

Jer and I have been in a relationship for around thirteen years now, and we were just kids when we started dating.  I think of us kind of like neighboring trees that, over time, grew into each other until they can't be separated anymore; I can't imagine a life without him.  So I always feel like something's missing when he's not around.  It's nice to feel complete again!

So we went to Eden's physical therapy, and then headed out for pizza-- the first pizza Jer's apparently had in a year and a half.  Needless to say, he enjoyed it.  He spent a year and a half renting a room out of someone else's house, and I don't think he felt comfortable with the idea of leaving leftovers in their fridge.  And while he likes it a lot, he doesn't like pizza enough to eat the whole thing in one sitting.  So he was pretty psyched about pizza here at home!

He's here for just under two weeks, and then I'm not sure when we'll see him again.  I'm sure the time he's here will just fly by, and all too soon he'll be headed out for his next phase of school.  But in the meantime, we're going to enjoy every second with him.

I'm so excited he's here!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

In Which We See A Play

So last night and this morning the kids had their Christmas play! Connor played the part of the donkey and the Christmas star, and was adorable as usual.  Hus donkey hat kept falling into his eyes or getting cocked to one side at a rakish angle.  It was pretty cute.

Eden's costume was a combination of wisemen and shephard costume pieces; she wore a shephard's tunic and a wiseman's crown. So she was a wise shephard, I guess.  She was a bit worried at first about wearing the costume, but after she saw boys put theirs on and was assured that hers was not, in fact, a dress, she was fine.  This kid does NOT do dresses.

Anyway, she participated in all the songs and dances and also pushed Connor around the church when it was time for the wisemen (or in this Christmas play, wisegals, as all three were girls) to approach the baby Jesus.  She did a great job; I'm so proud of both my kids!

The whole performance was just fantastic, and all of the kids were so enthusiastic and joyful. It's given Eden confidence to try out for her school play too, which I think is great.

In other news, Jer made it all the way to Idaho today; that's a lot of driving in two days! Hopefully that means he'll be here tomorrow afternoon.  I'm so excited!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

In Which Twice The BS Happens

Yesterday, Jeremy graduated from the first phase of his physician's assistant school!  He's got a second Bachelor of Science now, which I told him meant he now had double the BS, because I'm a supportive wife like that.

I'm so very, very proud of him and extremely happy that he's made it through!  Earning a four year degree in a year and a half is no easy feat.  Our separation has been just as difficult on him as it's been on me, and the military PA school is extremely challenging, but he really buckled down and did what he needed to do.

I wish I could have made it to his graduation ceremony; I'm glad that at least some of the family got to go.  He now has another year of school for his clinical rotations in California, at the end of which he'll have earned a Master's degree.  It will be tough to have him gone another year, but at least we're more than halfway through the separation now.  He's spending Christmas with us, which is so exciting!  We'll see him in just a couple of days.

Hooray for Jeremy!


Friday, December 13, 2013

In Which We Have A Go Away Day

A year ago today, I sat in a metal chair in an airy room north of Bangkok, waiting to see my daughter for the first time.  It doesn't seem possible that it's been a whole year since I met her, but at the same time it seems like it's been forever.  I remember that I was so nervous I had to hide my hands under the table to keep them from shaking.  I remember her being just as terrified.

Some people refer to the anniversary of the first meeting of their child as their "Gotcha" day, but I really don't care for that term.  Eden calls it her "Go Away" day, because she actually told me in Thai that first day that I needed to go away-- she was not happy about me being there.  I think the name, while she was teasing about it when she decided that's what we'll call it, is pretty appropriate.  It was the day she went away-- from her home, her beloved caregivers and friends, towards a life with strangers in another country.

I think a lot of people visualize the kids who wait for adoption as being overjoyed once the day finally comes, running into their new parents' arms and never looking back.  I don't think that actually happens very often, especially with older kids.  And rightfully so-- our daughter was leaving behind everything and everyone she'd ever known; why should she be happy about that?  We knew a lot more about Eden than she knew about us, and it was our choice to adopt her.  She didn't have a full understanding at the time of what adoption would entail, and I think that if she'd realized at the time that it meant moving to a new place she might never have consented.

Obviously things worked out, and she's doing beautifully.  We're so, so glad she's here!   But while we did acknowledge the anniversary today, talked about it and how far we've come, we chose not to have a celebration.  While it was an incredibly exciting day for me, for our daughter it was quite possibly one of the worst, most terrifying days of her life.  We'll probably mark our adoption finalization every year as our "Family Day" instead, as hopefully that will be a far happier memory for her.

Can it really have been a year already, though?  So glad she's here!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

In Which Too Much Happens

I spent the day while the kids were at school getting caught up on errands, and then after school Connor had a four minute long seizure-- the first one he's had in a while.  So he was pretty wiped and spent a good portion of the afternoon sleeping.

Eden worked on her homework while I made scones, cleaned some more and got caught up on some laundry.  Then I took the kids over to my parents' house so I could head to choir practice.  By the end of the evening Connor was completely conked out, I was nodding off and even Eden, who has enough energy for about four people crammed into her tiny body, was yawning.

So it was a really, really busy day.  Jer will be home for a visit in just a few days though, so I'm happy I'm getting some things done!  That way I can relax while he's here.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In Which Not Much Happens

Connor's been working in a walker for a while now at physical therapy, and while he started off doing really well, lately he's been pretty much refusing to do anything in it.  So we're probably going to back off of it for a while and focus on some other things.  It's frustrating to see him lose that motivation-- especially when I've seen him propel himself on his own for the very first time.  

So we'll put the walker away at PT and try something else for a while.  I hope that we'll eventually be able to go back to it and he'll have some renewed interest in the activity.  In the meantime, we're going to work on some rolling over and supporting himself with his hands for a couple of months, and see how that goes.

Sometimes it gets frustrating that he makes so little progress, but I figure as long as he's happy and we continue to work towards him being as healthy and as successful as he can be that we're doing just fine.

Eden spent pretty much the whole day working on school work; she stayed late for science and math tutoring and then came home and worked on English until dinner.  She was a bit overwhelmed with her book report, but she kept plugging away at it and finally got her rough draft done.  I'm pretty proud of her for sticking with it.  She told me today just how much she liked going to tutoring, which is pretty much a complete turn around for this kid.  

Hopefully as we get closer to the holidays her homework load will ease off a bit!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In Which The Kids Have A Party And Work Hard

Today the center where the kids go to physical therapy held their Christmas party!  I'd intended to take them right after school, but I got caught in traffic on the way to get Connor and by the time I got home Eden was thoroughly ensconced in her homework.  Once she starts something, she really likes to work straight through until whatever activity she's involved in is finished.  So I waited to leave until Eden got to a stopping point before we left for the party.

We ended up getting there about half an hour before the party was finished, but it was still absolutely packed.  The therapists manned tables set up around the center with all kinds of fun crafts and activities for the kids to do, and there had to be well over a hundred children of all ages there.  Connor got really overwhelmed about five minutes in, but Eden seemed to absolutely revel in the chaos.  So I ended up taking the little guy to the restroom to calm him down for a bit while she bounced from one station to the next, happy as can be.

Eden made a picture frame and a Santa beard, both of which she immediately gave to Connor.  The kids fished for prizes, and then we trooped up the circular ramp to the second floor, where they took a picture with Santa.  We finished up with that right about the time that the party was shutting down. 

Then we went back home, where Connor crashed pretty much immediately.  I think once he got used to the noise at the party he enjoyed himself, but it definitely wore him out!  Eden, however, was pretty wired when we got home; it's funny to see just how differently the kids handle the same situations.  She eventually calmed down and went to work on her book report, which she wrote on until dinner. 

It's pretty amazing to see her writing enough to fill the front and back of a page, when just last year writing a single paragraph took hours.  Now she just asks me to spell the occasional word for her, instead of having to help her read and spell everything, and even though her grammar and spelling are still pretty creative things are coming more easily to her.  It's great to see her more confident in her school work.  Also I have to admit I'm  not exactly missing our six-hour-a-night homework sessions. 

I'm proud of my girl!


Monday, December 9, 2013

In Which I Actually Get Some Shut Eye

SLEEP.  I spent pretty much the whole time the kids were in school sleeping.  And now it's time for me to get even more sleep! Good night!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

In Which I Am Very Tired

So Connor stayed up until around 2:30ish in the morning, which combined with yesterday turned me into a bit of a zombie.  He was crabby and clingy most of the day; his gums feel swollen in the back and I'm pretty sure cutting those last two six-year molars is what's keeping him awake.  Poor little guy-- cutting teeth is no fun.

My brain basically melted out my ears today; having two kids and doing this whole no sleep thing is a whole different ballgame from when it was just Connor and I could basically veg out on the couch with him any time he was having a bad day.  There was still dinner to be fixed and laundry and reading out loud to do and all the other little things that go into parenting more than one kid, and nobody else was going to do them if I didn't.  It's times like this that make me really admire truly single mothers; at least I know Jer will be finished with school in a year and I'll get the occasional chance to sleep in.

We still have a couple weeks before he's here for a visit, and I'm missing him more than ever-- and not just because I'll be getting more sleep.  Hopefully the days will just fly by and he'll be home soon!


Saturday, December 7, 2013

In Which I Get No Sleep And We See A Parade

Last night Connor woke up at 11:00pm and stayed up until 5:30 in the morning, so I wasn't exactly coherent most of the day.  I did get a bit of sleep as he didn't wake up again until 9:00am, but I was still pretty spacey.  I took the kids over to my parents' house in the afternoon and took a long nap, which turned out to be a pretty good idea. 

It's currently past 1:00am and the little guy shows no signs of sleeping any time soon, so we may be pulling another all nighter.  I suspect he may be cutting a couple of molars, and that may be the problem-- he's been stuffing a lot of things in his mouth lately, which is unusual for him.

So needless to say we didn't do much this morning, but after my nap this afternoon the kids and I headed over to the Santa parade downtown.  It took us quite a while to find handicapped parking, but we finally found a spot and walked over to the very start of the parade, where we found a good spot on a corner.  Both the kids were fascinated by all the floats lit up with Christmas lights, and Eden couldn't believe that everyone was passing out candy.  "It's like Halloween!" she said in delight. 

We also saw a couple of kids in wheelchairs playing in the high school bands.  When Eden first came, we told her that if she wanted to learn an instrument and play in the marching band she could, but she didn't believe that people with disabilities would be allowed to play in public with everyone else.  So she was really, really excited to find out that we were telling her the truth.  I was very glad she got the chance to see them and confirm once again that there are opportunities out there for people with disabilities, but it made me a little sad too to see just how surprised she was about it. 

So overall the parade was a success, but we had to leave early because it was so darn cold outside; it was in the teens and still dropping when we got back to the van, and even with a bajillion blankets, hats, scarves and gloves they both were getting way too cold.  So we headed back early, ordered some pizza and got ready for bed in the (as it turns out overly optimistic) hope that Connor would sleep.

Oh well. 


Friday, December 6, 2013

In Which I Get A Break

Our respite care worker came over after school and I was able to get quite a bit of cleaning and laundry done; the house was looking a bit rough.  It's so nice to have someone else entertaining the little guy while I'm home.  I love spending time with the little guy, but I'd forgotten just how much I could get done around here when I wasn't spending every five minutes entertaining him. 

Eden even got into the cleaning bug too; she spruced up her bathroom and put away all the dishes so we'd have time for a card game before dinner.  I took her out for Thai food and some one-on-one time as a special treat, since she'd had such a good week.  She chatted with me over her larb about whether or not she should try out for the school play and her upcoming field trip with her swim team. 

Her English is now to the point where she can really start to carry on a conversation, which is great!  I love hearing more about what's going on in her daily life, and I'm going to cherish every conversation we have about things like school, since it's probably only a matter of time before she figures out that having long conversations with her mom isn't "cool." 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

In Which We Have A Busy Day

So I spent the beginning of the day working on the kids' appointments and schedules for the next couple of months.  Then I headed over to one of the Korean restaurants in Lakewood to meet a friend for lunch.  Turns out the entire restaurant was packed full to the brim though, so we walked over to the Asian grocery store and ate in the food court instead.  It was great to catch up with my friend-- especially while stuffing my face full of tasty bi bim bap and banchan!

Then we had to do a whole bunch of shopping, because it's impossible for me to go to an Asian grocery store and not walk out with half of what's on the aisles.  I ended up with a few of the treats that Eden and I both really enjoy, like coconut durian rolls and lychee gel cups.  My pantry definitely has more of an international flair since she's come home, which is pretty awesome, and it's fun to buy food I'm not exactly sure how to prepare so we can learn together.

Eden called me on my way to pick Connor up from school to ask me if she could stay late for drama club.  I'm excited that she's starting to become interested in activities at school, and I think drama club is a great fit for her.  This is a kid who loves the spotlight!

Once she was done I picked her up from drama club, we stopped really quickly at the house and then we headed out to Eden's swim practice, where I dropped her off and headed to the nearby bookstore to sit with a cup of coffee or tea and read for a bit on seats more comfortable than the bleachers at the pool.  Eden's swim club is too far away from our house for me to go back home, so Connor and I usually find a place to go.  I swear that even with a cushion, metal high school bleachers have to be some of the most uncomfortable things ever invented.

Anyway, I had a nice conversation with a fellow writer at the bookstore, which is always great, and of course cuddle time with Connor and an hour of uninterrupted reading is always fantastic.  But I seriously need to stop drinking caffeinated drinks that late in the day-- now I'm wired.  You would think I would have figured out not to do that by now.  Oh well.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In Which Absolutely Nothing Happens

Today was a relatively quiet day; Connor and I went to his physical therapy, Eden did her after school math and science tutoring, walked home and then did homework.  Then she and I cooked dinner together, I read Connor a story and put him to bed, and Eden did her daily twenty minutes of reading time with me before using the iPad for a while and then heading to bed.  So I really don't have much to report!  Sometimes those quiet days are kind of nice.

We are gearing up towards Jeremy coming home to visit for a while, which is pretty exciting.  He'll have a couple of weeks between his class time and the beginning of his clinical rotations to be here before he has to head down to California.  We won't have any clue what his schedule will look like and how much we might see of him until he actually gets down there, which is a little frustrating.  Still, it will be really great to see him and we'll enjoy the time he's here!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

In Which We Raise A Pair Of Lilliputians

As requested, here's a photo of the kids with The Best Santa The World Has Ever Known.  Note Eden's awesome flame-covered AFOs and Connor's festive tweed cap and cowboy boots-- all important fashion accessories for any holiday photo shoot.  

Also I believe that Connor is wearing the same train vest he wore for this same Santa not one, but two years ago (and also like two years ago, Santa once again wouldn't let us pay for our photos, because this guy is amazing).  My kid is tiny.  I swear we feed him and everything; we're not sure if this is related to his genetic condition or if it's just because he takes after his daddy.  Who knows?  Maybe he'll shoot up at some point.  Somehow I doubt it, though.

At five feet tall, Eden is also on the teensy side and we think she's done growing, but Thai women tend to be shorter than the average American woman as a general rule, so that isn't really surprising.  Also we're not sure what kind of nutrition she got as a little kid, so that might have had something to do with it as well.  At any rate, I'm kind of resigned to being the tallest person in our family, unless we adopt another boy in a few years (which is entirely possible).

Anyway, today I ran by the store for a few odds and ends after picking up Connor from school, and I noticed they had Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on sale.  Eden read the first book of the series out loud to me a few weeks ago, and I thought that maybe she'd be more interested in reading books if she could see the movie that's based on them afterwards.  So we watched it together this evening as a special (late) reward for finishing the book, and she enjoyed it tremendously.  I think after we're done with Awkward, we'll try something else that has a movie tie-in and that other teens will probably have read, like Harry Potter or the dreaded Twilight.  While the Harry Potter series is, in my opinion, much better written than anything Stephanie Meyer has come up with, there is one thing to be said for Twilight-- at least the language is simple enough that Eden shouldn't need too much help with it.  

Thus far she hasn't been interested in reading any series past the first novel and it takes her a month or two to get through a book (reading in twenty minute intervals), so I don't know that we'd get to some of the more mature things that happen later in both series, and if we do we'll have plenty of time to discuss them.  While there are a few other more recent YA novels the kids are all reading that have been made into movies, most of them have pretty dark plot lines fairly early on.  While she's definitely become way more mature in the past year, I don't think Eden's quite ready for stuff like The Hunger Games just yet.


Monday, December 2, 2013

In Which I Discover The Best Game Ever

So today after school and Eden's physical therapy, I drove the kids to the mall to take pictures with Santa.  They have an amazing Santa at our local mall, and this was Eden's first time to take pictures with any Santa, since the only one we saw in Thailand last year was terrifying.  No, seriously-- he was a twenty-something year old Thai man with white pancake makeup on all over his face and the backs of his hands, with a fake beard that was pulled halfway down his chin and an outfit that was obviously stuffed with toilet paper.  He looked like Insane Clown Serial Killer Santa.  Good times.

Anyway, the Santa at the mall isn't like that at all, and he apparently is such a nice, relaxing Santa that he puts Connor to sleep.  The little guy started drifting off about halfway through the photos.  When he wasn't nodding off, Connor was staring fixedly at the giant blue-lit snowflakes on one side of the set.  He paid zero attention to the photographer this year.  But the pictures still turned out pretty cute, and I'm glad we went.  In the evenings it's not crowded at all, and the photographer probably took thirty photos of the kids.

So other than Eden using her "super cheese" photo smile and Connor trying to nod off, the kids were pretty well behaved.  That ended the second we hit the parking lot.

Connor immediately started making that yelling, set-your-teeth-on-edge noise where he manages to hit two dissonant notes at once.  Eden, on a sugar-high from the complimentary candy canes and overexcited from her first successful Santa encounter, began yelling "jingle bell" over and over in an offkey, sing-song voice.  Don't ask me.  She stopped this only long enough to ask me what would happen if she cracked her head open in the parking lot and to tell me that when I peered at the pictures through the translucent bag I "look really old, like old lady."

I tried turning on the radio in the car to calm them both down, but unfortunately it was turned to Christmas music and the song that came on was "Jingle Bell Rock," which instantly encouraged them both. So my car sounded something like this:

Radio: Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Radio: Jingle bells swing and Jingle bells ring
Me: ....(beating my head against the steering wheel)

This is when I discovered a secret weapon.

See, it turns out that apparently in Thai Orphanages they don't play The Quiet Game.  So my daughter has yet to learn that this is not, in fact, a legitimate game and is instead a sneaky way to get peace and quiet for five minutes.  In addition, Eden has a serious competitive streak.  So when I suggested we play an exciting new game in which the first person to talk loses, she not only stopped jingle belling for the remainder of the car ride, but all the way through dinner preparation and halfway through the meal-- a good solid forty minutes of blissful silence.  And much to my surprise, Connor actually played along too-- he stopped yelling the second I said "Go" and didn't start up again until we arrived home and he got mad about how cold it was outside.

So I have apparently discovered the best parenting tool ever.  I just have to remember to use it sparingly so that the novelty doesn't wear off!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

In Which Connor Does Not Sleep

Yesterday Connor stayed up until four in the morning.  Then he woke up at six throwing up.  He threw up off and on until about eleven, and then he was not only fine, he was deliriously hyper in the way only a small child can be.  So he took no naps at all.  As a result, I have pretty much nothing to say because my brain is mush right now.

Off to bed!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

In Which The Little Miss Shops Till I Drop

Today the kids and I went to the mall; Eden wanted to go shopping for me and her little brother.  So Connor and I were banished to the rest of the mall, while she shopped in Target.

For two hours.

I have no idea what she was doing in there; but I figure she probably spent at least half that time in the shoe aisle.  I have never met another human being who can window shop for shoes as long as this kid can.  I'm not a shopper, people, but I have a daughter that could happily live in the mall if they had pull-out beds in those park benches.  I spent about an hour walking around the extremely crowded mall, and the rest of the time on a bench, texting Jeremy to whine about how bored I was.

Connor spent the time carefully waving to every single person that walked by us, but after a while he got fed up with that and started yelling directly into my ear.  Someday my daughter will understand the depths of my love for her, because normally wild horses couldn't drag me out to the shopping mall on a Saturday, let alone the Saturday after the busiest shopping day of the year with Connor in tow.  Connor has a short attention span for shopping, and when he's finished he tends to let me know at top volume.

Anyway, I've informed Jer that next year, he gets to take Eden out Christmas shopping, because he loves shopping even more than I do.  And by loves, I mean hates with a fiery passion in the depths of his soul.  I figure it will give me time to do all of my own shopping, wrapping and decorating while they're out.  And if I'm feeling particularly evil that day, I'm going to tell her that what I really want for Christmas next year is shoes.  I'm not sure they'll ever come home.


Friday, November 29, 2013

In Which We Find A Tree

Today the kiddos and I spent a leisurely morning together, and then after our respite care worker arrived Eden and I headed out to find ourselves a Christmas tree.  This will be her first Christmas home, and I wanted to do things right, so we headed out to one of the U-Cut places in town, grabbed a saw, a kneeling pad and a cart, and after a quick hay ride, trekked out into the lot to find ourselves a tree.

And we found a tree.  Boy howdy did we find a tree.

So we have twelve foot ceilings in our living room, and we needed something tall.  Eden fell in love with this gorgeous ten footer noble fir, which we both agreed was quite the best tree on the lot.  What I quickly discovered, however, as the hand saw bit into the trunk, was that the reason why this gorgeous tree was still standing so close to the beginning of the lot was that it was, to put it delicately, big boned.  It had a trunk that was probably eight inches thick, and I'm pretty sure had a heartwood of solid iron.

Half an hour later, I was drenched in sweat and had made it only about a third of the way through the trunk.  Eden was looking on in increasing concern and making helpful comments like "Mommy, you okay?  You face really red."  Finally after forty minutes or so of sawing away at this thing and getting nowhere I gave up and recruited one of the gentlemen who worked there, who took the tree down with a chainsaw in about forty seconds.  I admit I had a feeling of satisfaction when it keeled over, like the tree had been taunting me or something and had now gotten its just desserts.  I realize how petty and silly it is to want revenge on a tree, but logic has very little to do with many of my impulses.

Anyway, so we hauled it home and one of our neighbors was kind enough to help me get it through the door.  Unfortunately in the drama of getting this massive tree off the lot I'd forgotten to ask them to drill a hole in the bottom for our stand, which is one of the "pin" types often used for trees this size.  So our awesome neighbor came to the rescue again and we drilled our own hole.

So the tree is up now and it's really starting to feel like the holiday season in here.  The house smells wonderful.  But because the bottom of the tree wasn't cut straight across, while it's stable and isn't going anywhere it looks like our tree drank a bit too much eggnog and now has to lean against the wall for support.  This has the same effect that crooked picture frames have on me, and I'm convinced I will go slowly insane over the course of the month.  Oh well.  Eden had a blast, and Connor was enchanted the minute we strung the lights, so I'll be okay.  Given our eccentric family, it's not surprising we have a tree that's a bit eccentric too, right?

I have to go out and get another couple string of lights tomorrow, as four strings wouldn't cover it this year (told you this tree was big boned), and we need to string some more cranberries too, but we at least got the parts of the tree covered that need a ladder.  We'll save putting the ornaments on for when Jer gets home.  I was missing him a lot today; doing Christmas things inevitably makes me think about family, and it's just not the same without him here.

Also I bet he could have cut down the dang tree.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

In Which We Have A Happy Thanksgiving, And I Hope You Did Too

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I did the vast majority of my cooking yesterday, so today was all about relaxing.  No, seriously-- when my neighbor stopped by with a delicious pumpkin pie around noon, he caught me still in my pajamas.  I was dedicated to relaxing today.

So we watched a movie, and strung more cranberries, and played games, and just generally lazed around until our friend from church arrived and it was time to eat our American-Thai fusion Thanksgiving dinner.  The really nice thing about it was that it didn't make you super full, so then it was possible to eat way more dessert than normal.

We played a few rounds of Chicken Foot (a dominoes game that's a Texas staple and which we are bound and determined to introduce to the entire Pacific Northwest, mostly so we have other people to play against) and then called it a night.  All in all it was a lovely day.  Looking around the table, it was easy to see that I have a lot to be thankful for.

I spent the rest of the evening getting out Christmas stuff, since tomorrow we'll be setting up our decorations.   I can't believe it's that time already!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In Which We Cook All The Things

The kids had a half-day of school today, which I spent picking up a few Christmas presents so I'd have something to wrap and put under the tree on Friday, when we start setting up for the holiday.  Then I picked up Connor, dropped him off at the house to hang out with my mom, and went to the doctor's appointment I was supposed to go to on Monday.

After I had respite care for Connor, and while he hung out in the living room listening to Irish fiddle tunes, drawing on his iPad and charming the nurse, Eden and I spent pretty much the whole rest of the day either cooking or making crafts.  I showed Eden how to string cranberry garlands for the Christmas tree (yet more sneaky fine motor skills therapy) and she worked on that while I tipped the green beans and grated unripe papaya for the som tam.  We're having a nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner this year: som tam (green papaya salad), coconut sticky rice, cranberry-orange relish, a vegetable dish that our friend is bringing and a Japanese-style bourbon pumpkin cake, which is made with mascarpone cheese and a whole bunch of frothy egg whites.  So it's kind of a vegetarian Asian fusion Thanksgiving, which works for me.

My biggest problem today was not wanting to eat all of the food as it came out of the oven instead of waiting for tomorrow.  I'm very proud of the amount of restraint I showed-- particularly when it came to the pumpkin cake.  Of course, it helped that the cake had bubbled over and I was forced to cut off and eat all of the pieces where it had puffed up on our baking stone.

But they totally don't count because they weren't part of the main body of cake anymore, so I can still be all self-congratulatory about not stuffing the entire thing in my face the second it came out of the oven, and also I have the added advantage of knowing the cake turned out beautifully.  Now I just have to keep myself from telling everyone it's terrible and they don't want to eat it so I can have it all myself.

Anyway, I don't have much else to report!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Which We Ponder Pomanders

So this morning I dropped Connor off and headed over to the shopping center that my doctor's office is located in, where I sat in a coffee shop for a bit to while away the time before my check-up.  I moseyed on over to the clinic half an hour ahead of the allotted time, only to discover that my appointment had been scheduled for yesterday instead of today.


So apparently while I am obsessed with getting to the childrens' various appointments on time to a point that is borderline unhealthy, I have no compunctions about completely missing my own appointments.  I rescheduled for Wednesday.  Hopefully I'll be able to remember to, you know, actually show up.  I'm sure the doctor and staff whose time I wasted yesterday would probably appreciate that.

Anyway, then I went out and picked up the last odds and ends I needed for Christmas decorating, which will be happening in our house on Friday.  Eden and I will be picking out a tree, stringing the lights on it and making cranberry garlands.  I'll put the house lights up if I have the time too, and we'll put out all our other decorations except for the Christmas tree ornaments.  We're going to wait until Jer's home to put those up, so we'll have something to do together as a family.

After the kids came home, Connor napped while Eden and I made pomanders.  For those of you not familiar with pomanders, basically you take an orange (or in our case, a clementine), poke it full of holes with a skewer and stab a clove into each hole.  Then if you choose to, you can roll it in other spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg.  Somehow the clove-and-spice mixture magically causes the orange to last 8,000 years and also to smell delicious.  I have no idea how this works.

Stabbing cloves into an orange is not only entertaining and strangely mesmerizing work, but it's also sneaky fine motor skills practice.  I'm a huge fan of Sneaky Therapy That We Don't Refer To As Therapy Because It Is Fun.  It was interesting enough work that Eden, the self-purported Hater of All Things Crafty, actually made four of them, and since I'd already made quite a few before she got home we now we have a big bowl of pomanders sitting on the dining room table.  If you buy the cloves in bulk at an Asian foods store this is actually a fairly inexpensive way to make your house smell ridiculously good.

After that it was off to drop Eden at swim practice.  Then Connor and I went out for some quality time at the local bookstore, where we shared a piece of lemon tart while snuggling and reading a book.  It was nice to get a bit of one-on-one time with both the kids today; that doesn't happen very often!


Monday, November 25, 2013

In Which I Try And Start Yet Another Project Because Evidently I Don't Have Enough To Do With My Time

So today after I dropped off the kids off at school, my mom and I took a trip up to Seattle to visit a huge architectural salvage place.  I was looking for a way to build a nice looking desk for my bedroom that would fit both computers (once Jer gets home we'll have two), and also have more room for files.  Currently I only have one nice, neat file drawer in my desk, and then a huge pile of file boxes stacked in the corner of the room with all the other various insurance and adoption and whatnot papers in them.  Since I don't think I'm going to find anything ready-made or custom built in my budget that will work, I need to make my own desk/work table.

It's a really long space-- 103 inches-- and I thought the salvage place might have a counter or a slab that would work well for the top of the desk.  We saw a few things that would have been really cool.  For example, they had a huge beautiful piece of hand-cut, inch-and-a-half thick tempered glass that was exactly the right size and was really reasonably priced, but it just wouldn't be practical in the space as it weighed something like 400 pounds.  Not only would I have serious trouble getting it into my house, but if I managed to drop it the thing would probably make a glorious hole straight through our floor.

So that was a no-go.  We browsed through long aisles of doors and iron gates, lingered on a scaffolding top for a while but determined it was too narrow to sit on top of a filing cabinet, and then finally ran out of time and had to go pick up the kids.

I didn't find anything today, but I'm not in a hurry.  Jer and I can make things work if we need to, so I've got time to find something that will really work in our space and isn't going to break my floor or empty my wallet.  I'll keep looking!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

In Which We Have ALL The Thanksgivings

So Connor finally went down at three in the morning yesterday.  Then he spent all of today telling me he was really, really tired.  You and me both, little guy.  So this will be short tonight, because I'm headed to bed the second the night nurse is here!

We had another super busy day today; church and practice for the church play and stomping around in the church attic looking for the costumes for said church play (we still haven't found the angels-- how the heck did five angel costumes go missing in an attic the size of my bathroom?) and then cooking in preparation for our pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving celebration.  We're actually having three Thanksgivings this year, between the big church potluck and the one with my parents and the one we're doing at home on the actual day.  Basically the entire month of November is just an excuse for me to cook massive amounts of food.

Speaking of which, it's going to be a tiny Thanksgiving for us on the actual day this year, and I'd love the excuse to cook way more food than I can currently justify.  So if anyone's in the area and looking for a place to celebrate the holiday, come to my house.  Seriously.  Just shoot me an e-mail.  The more, the merrier.

Anyway, so we hung out with my parents for a while and ate delicious things, and then we watched a bit of football and chatted, and then we headed for home.

So overall it was a pretty good day, though probably a bunch of other stuff happened and I don't even remember it because I'm so tired.  Whee!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

In Which Connor Stays Awake And We Try Some Down Home Cooking

It's nearly one in the morning right now; looks like Connor's seriously considering pulling an all-nighter.  It doesn't happen as often as it used to anymore, but it does still happen.  Unfortunately it's the weekend for our night nurse too, so it looks like I may need quite a bit of coffee in the morning.

Connor spent some quality time with the grandparents today while Eden and I went out for a while.  We ate some lunch and then tooled around the mall for a couple of hours.  It was fun getting the chance to spend a little bit of time with my girl, even if we did have to go into every shoe store known to mankind.  This kid loves looking at shoes.

After that we swung by and picked up Connor.  After his quiet time, we piled back into the car and headed for the grocery store, where I picked up the ingredients for the jambalaya I planned on making tonight, as well as fixings for the pumpkin pie and the green beans I was making for tomorrow.  We're having a slightly early Thanksgiving celebration with my parents this year, which was nice because it meant I didn't have to fight my way down the aisles like I would have if I'd been doing this shopping the day before the real Thanksgiving.

Anyway, Eden and I cooked a big ol' pot of jambalaya together tonight.  She's really interested in cooking, but I think she was fed up with the whole mess after about fifteen minutes of stirring the pot.  Basically in jambalaya (at least the kind I make) you end up stirring everything for about half an hour total before you stick the pot in the oven and bake it.  "Why we not get the kind in the box?" she asked.  "It easy."  Luckily she changed her mind and decided it was worth all the stirring after she tried it.  She's developing quite a taste for Cajun and Creole food; I think it's all the seafood and spice that she appreciates.  Oh, and the sausage-- the kid is in love with andouille.  We've got plenty of leftovers (it's pretty impossible to make a small batch of jambalaya) so it's a good thing she likes it!

Connor spent the time we were cooking hanging out on his rocking horse.  He's borrowing a full-sized hobby horse from his therapy center-- one of the kind you don't see made any more because kids kept getting their fingers caught in the springs-- that's been modified to provide extra support.  Not only is it great practice in torso control for the little guy, but he also absolutely loves it.  It's difficult to find toys that will motivate him to work hard in physical therapy, so this is a sneaky but effective way to get him to do some work.  He seems to be feeling a lot better and was pretty perky today.

Now if I can just get him to go to sleep!


Friday, November 22, 2013

In Which Connor's Ticker Looks Good And I Get Some Respite

So Connor had his cardiology appointment this morning, which went well.  His heart looks about the same, which is always nice to hear, and he did well at the appointment, which the exception of the seizure he had shortly before.  As a result we now know the entire current pediatrician team of Madigan.  While they were all very nice, I sort of wish we'd skipped that part.  Connor was fine, and as it goes this seizure was a short one, but they're never particularly fun.

I got a phone call while I was at Madigan; the respite care worker who was supposed to be starting today ended up unavailable and so the home health agency wasn't going to be able to staff any hours for me until January.  I was, needless to say, pretty disappointed about that.  Luckily the staffing agency had another respite care worker who could work with him in the meantime-- and possible permanently if we get along well.

So we met with our new respite care worker, and she's very sweet.  She came and watched Connor for pretty much the whole afternoon, so I got the chance to get a lot done around the house.  We're not exactly sure what the schedule's going to be like for the next month, but we'll figure it out.  I'm so excited to have the help again!  She doesn't have quite the same flexibility in her schedule that the home health agency was going to provide and I'm not sure when we'll be seeing her again, but I'm so, SO glad that I'll finally be getting the chance to have a break!

So tomorrow the respite care worker was going to becoming all day and Eden and I were going to have a special outing together, but unfortunately that's not going to happen.  However, my parents were gracious enough to step in and offer to watch the little guy for a while so the little miss and I can still have a few hours of quality time.  I'm not entirely sure what we'll be doing yet, but I'm sure it will be fun!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

In Which Connor Is A Sickykin

I kept Connor home from school today as he wasn't feeling at all well; he dozed upright in his chair all through our morning routine and even the car ride to drop Eden off.  So I brought him back home and put him to bed, where he slept for around three hours.  Then he perked up a little bit and I brought him out into the living room, where he watched the Broadway productions of both Phantom of The Opera and Les Mis-- both highly appropriate movies for a seven year old.  Oh well; he loves the music.

With the exception of a brief break for tea with my mother after she popped by to say hello and choir practice in the evening, I spent pretty much the whole day cleaning and belting out the lyrics to the musicals.  Connor seemed to be okay with my top-volume version of "Do You Hear The People Sing?" but the cats were extremely unimpressed.  I'm pretty sure Cricket thought I was dying in some horribly agonizing fashion.

Tomorrow the little guy has a cardiology appointment; I hope he feels up to going!  I have to schedule those things quite a bit in advance, and we need a renewal of the kid's heart medication.  We also have our first respite care session tomorrow, and it would be nice if the little guy was feeling up to meeting somebody new.  I'll be sticking around the house this first time anyway as it will be a new nurse, but I would imagine things will go much more smoothly if Connor isn't feeling crabby because he's sick.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In Which I Buy Tree Trimmings And Connor Runs Out Of Steam

I took the opportunity today while the kids were in school to go out and pick up some of my Christmas trimmings for this year.  This will be Eden's first Christmas home, and I want to do it right!  Of course, it made me want to put up all of my decorations now, and it's still too early.  This will be Eden's first Thanksgiving too, and I should probably wait until she's experienced all of the holidays before I start skipping over them.

Connor had a bit of a rough day; he didn't have any seizures, but he threw up all of his meals at school and at physical therapy he did an amazingly realistic impression of a sack of potatoes.  Not only did the kid not attempt to work on any of his normal exercises, but he was actively trying to lie down every time we sat him up.  He spent the entire trip back home alternating between signing "tired" and "sad," and when I gave in and put him down around five in the evening he was out in less than five minutes.  Part of it may just be the season; we're getting into the time when it's dark outside at a depressingly early hour, and goodness knows it always makes me want to hibernate.  I hope he's not coming down with something; maybe it was just one of those days.

Hopefully he'll feel better tomorrow!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

In Which Many Many Things Happen

Well today was eventful!  I dropped the kids off for school and then spent the morning filling out paperwork in preparation for my intake meeting with our new respite care home health agency.  Even with filling out all the paperwork in advance, our meeting ended up being nearly two hours long.  I'll also probably be talking by phone with our assigned nurse tomorrow, and I'll be doing an orientation with her on Friday.  It's amazing how large an instructional manual I need for my kid; Connor's a complicated little guy.

I'm really excited to be starting up respite again, though; it's going to be great to not only have some occasional alone time in the evenings (while Eden's at swim practice) but also to be able to spend some one-on-one time with the Little Miss as well.  We're going to have our first outing this Saturday, and I think we'll have a pretty good time.  Connor will still be getting his Mommy-and-Boy time with me during Eden's swim practices where I don't have respite care, so I think this will work out well and the kids will both be getting some balanced time.

After my meeting I made a quick stop at Eden's school, ran back home and ate lunch, and then I was off to pick up Connor.  The oxygen equipment technician was waiting outside our door when we got back to do some routine maintenance on Connor's condenser.  Then I helped Eden with her homework while Connor had his quiet time.  Then we were off to the store, and then there was dinner to make and more homework and our nightly reading time and Connor's medications and bedtime for Connor and then Eden and then I kind of collapsed in a little heap in my easy chair and didn't move until it was time to let the night nurse in.  It was a busy day.

Eden's reading time, by the way, is probably the best thing in the universe.  Her English teacher wrote home saying the kids needed to be reading out loud for twenty minutes every school night.  We sort of neglected to tell Eden that it was only school nights the kids were required to be doing this, so we read twenty minutes every night.  Eden used to grumble and groan about this, but now she actually asks to do her reading time.  Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that she can't play on the iPad until her reading is done, but hey-- whatever works, right?  Anyway, not only is her reading seriously improving, but the twenty minutes of reading is basically an excuse for her to have my undivided attention the entire time, and get a little bit of snuggling in with my girl as well.  Right now the reading is very much a collaborative project; she still needs help with every third or fourth word in a sentence.  So we have to sit close together so that we can both see the book, which is great for that bonding and attachment that is so important to any adoption.

It's also a fantastic opportunity to introduce various pop culture references, slang, idioms, etc. that she'll run into over her middle school and high school years.  We've worked our way through four books now, that have slowly upped in vocabulary and maturity level.  We started out with a collection of For Better or Worse, worked our way through Amelia Bedelia Means Business, and then tackled Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life.  Currently we're reading Awkward, which is a book about a high school girl whose embarrassing video goes viral on the Internet.

Though it's true that because the books contain language and phrases that are popular in teen culture it can get a bit awkward sometimes (ever tried explaining the phrase "that's what she said" to a kid with a limited English vocabulary?) talking about the characters in the books is a great way to have conversations about a lot of topics that most teenagers are familiar with but that are new to Eden.  They also provide opportunities to talk about some of the cultural differences between American and Thai teens, and to draw parallels between the experiences the characters have with what we encounter in our daily lives.  We've probably got a few more weeks to go before this book is finished, but if anyone has any recommendations for what we might tackle next, I'm all ears.

Not that I need any excuse to read more books.  Oh well.


Monday, November 18, 2013

In Which The Little Guy Is Under The Weather And Eden Holds Her Own

Last night Connor stayed up until two thirty in the morning, so it's not surprising that he was a bit groggy when I dropped him off for school.  Apparently he perked up quite a bit once he got there though, and he was fairly cheery until Eden's physical therapy appointment this evening, where he started throwing up and then conked out on one of the mats for the whole hour.  I think he might be coming down with yet another bug; it is rather the season for them.  I had to wake him up when it was time to go home, and once I put him to bed he was out like a light.  Poor little guy.  He's not running a fever though and he didn't have any seizures, so we'll see how he feels in the morning.

So I was sitting there at while Connor snoozed away watching Eden balance on a wobble board while she threw a basketball back and forth with her physical therapist, and I was awestruck by just how far she's come in the past eleven months.  When she got here, walking more than a few hundred yards was exhausting, stairs were a serious challenge, and something like balancing on a wobble board seemed completely out of reach.  She's not only running and jumping and balancing on that board like a pro; she's also standing so much taller, with her shoulders back and her head held high.  It's absolutely amazing how much of a difference it makes; I love seeing the evidence of the confident, self-assured young woman she's becoming in the way she carries herself.  That's my girl!

In other news, tomorrow I have my intake appointment for the home health care company who will be doing our respite care!  I am so unbelievably excited about this-- I did a happy dance around the house for about five minutes after I got the phone call.  Working with two different companies for respite care and night nursing may be a bit complicated, but I am really, really ready to have my respite care back so I'll make it work.

Anyway, it's late and I need to be up a bit early to get some extra cleaning done.  Tomorrow's another busy day!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

In Which We Do Our Best To Balance

We had a super, super busy day today!  We had church, and then while Eden practiced for the Christmas play, Connor and I ran home and made some asparagus for a potluck, which happened right after practice was over.  We stayed until nearly three in the afternoon, and then went home so the Little Miss could finish some work on a school project.  Then we headed out to get her a new backpack, since the holes in her old one have gotten two big to cover with duct tape.  This is her third backpack this year; the kid's hard on the things!  Hopefully this one will be sturdy enough to last her a while.

Connor had two seizures today but otherwise seemed to be feeling pretty well.  I think these were probably of the 'every two weeks or so I must have a seizure' variety; I swear he schedules the things.  If he starts getting sick we'll know otherwise, but so far so good.

We had to choose between going to the potluck and going to the annual Loi Krathong celebration at the local wat.  I let Eden decide what she wanted to do this year, and she opted to go to the potluck since it was indoors and it was raining and very cold outside (the festival is held outdoors).  I suggested that we have our own celebration at home if she didn't want to go to the festival, but she said she would rather not.  It's been tough trying to balance activities with the Thai community here with the other many things Eden has going on; I want to make sure she has those connections, but I also don't want to force that sort of thing on her and right now she's not all that interested.

I think right now she's more concerned with fitting into our immediate community, and she's put making connections with other Thai Americans on the back burner.  I suspect she sees being Thai as being 'different' from most of the people around her, and she wants to focus on blending in as much as possible.  I hope, however, that she'll eventually want to take part in events with the the Thai community again.  I won't push her, but I'll keep presenting opportunities and letting her know that our whole family enjoys participating in Thai cultural events and holidays.  We'll be traveling back to Thailand in a couple of years to visit; maybe that will spark an interest for her again.

She's retaining all of her Thai with no trouble though, which is a very good thing.  We want her to be able to travel between Thailand and America and feel like she can fit in wherever she is, and language is such a fundamental part of that process.  I've read so many essays about how many internationally adopted children who lose their native language later feel that they don't fit well in either America or the country of their birth, and while there's no way that we can completely avoid this issue we'd like to make sure Eden is as comfortable as possible balancing between her birth country and her new nation.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

In Which It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas Already, Which Is Kind of Nuts

Today Connor and I had a bit of a slow start; after I gave him his morning meds I went back to bed and we both slept in a while.  It felt really strange not needing to get up and get the day started!  I finally dragged myself out of bed and woke Connor up, and we puttered around the house a bit before heading over to my parents' house for lunch.  I love having them so close by now; it's great to be able to spend so much time with them!

Then my mom and I went out and did a bit of what turned into early Christmas shopping, which wasn't our original intent.  Christmas definitely sneaked up on me this year; it doesn't seem like we should be anywhere close to December yet!  I'm totally not ready and I hadn't even started thinking about presents or decorations, but from the way the stores were decked out you'd think the holiday was next week.  What the heck happened to Thanksgiving in the retail world, anyway?  I'm pretty sure that stuff was all on the shelves before Halloween.  The mall had the 50 foot tall Christmas trees up already, which Connor was excited by, though he didn't demand we get them as presents for all our relatives this year.  I guess the kid is growing up and he's too cool to demand giant Christmas trees as presents.  I kind of miss it-- can't believe how big he's getting.  Can you believe he'll be eight next year?  That's crazy talk, people.

Eden spent the whole day out at her retreat and didn't get back until around nine in the evening.  She told me "I had a good time, but I really really happy to see my bed!"  She was in her pajamas fifteen minutes after she got home, and in bed five minutes after that-- I've never seen the kid get ready for sleeping so quickly or enthusiastically.  Evidently the retreat was fun but also exhausting.  She said she'd definitely like to go back sometime, which was great to hear.  I think they do a summer camp as well, so that might be a really good option for her next year.

I'm so glad she enjoyed herself, and I'm really proud of her for handling being away from home so well.  Trusting that we'll still be here when she returns is a huge step for her, and I think a hallmark of growing maturity and understanding that our family is not a temporary stop for her, but a permanent home.  Hooray for our girl!


Friday, November 15, 2013

In Which All's Quiet On The Home Front

Eden is off at her church retreat today!  Since we don't have night nursing on the weekends, the house seems really quiet right now with just me and Connor home.  Connor went to sleep on time (hooray!), so I puttered around a bit and then took a long bath and soaked for a while.  That's the one advantage of not having the teenager home-- no competition for the bathroom with a tub in it.  But otherwise I'm kind of missing my girl, and I hope she's having better weather up at the campsite than we're having down here.  It's kind of stormy and rainy at the moment.  I want her to have a good time, and I can't imagine camping in forty degree windy, stormy weather would qualify.

I got some good news today; I checked my e-mail this evening and got a message from our regional care coordinator that our respite care might finally be happening again soon!  I haven't had respite care during the day since May, so I am more than ready for it to start up again.  My parents have been fantastic about watching the kids, but it will be really nice to have some additional support.

Otherwise, not much happened today.  Sometimes quiet days are pretty nice!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

In Which Cricket Attempts To Shrink And Connor's Chair Gets A Tune Up

Seriously, cat.  This is not going to work.
Today Connor went to school sans wheelchair-- I had to take it in for repairs.  Recently it developed this annoying habit where the brakes spontaneously deploy every ten to fifteen feet with this huge clang.  This, as you might imagine, has been driving me absolutely up the wall, not to mention that it's been seriously impeding getting places in any kind of a hurry.

It's complicated by the fact that while the brakes slowed the chair down, the wheel treads have worn down enough that they didn't actually stop the chair if it's on any kind of an incline at all.  Since large portions of the streets in the Pacific Northwest run down steep hills that end in things like major traffic intersections or you know, the ocean, this had the potential to be really exciting.  So I made an appointment and took it in.

So I spent an hour and a half or so tootling around in Gig Harbor while the repairs were done, and I'm now happy to say that Connor has a chair that goes when it's supposed to go and stops when it's supposed to stop-- sans the giant clanging noise.  Hooray!  It's amazing what a difference a simple tune-up of equipment can make; I didn't realize just how annoying the problem was until I wasn't dealing with it anymore.  Connor seems to enjoy the smoother, quieter ride too.

Eden leaves for her first ever church retreat tomorrow, which is pretty exciting.  It will be the first time she's slept away from home without me there, so she's a bit nervous about it.  I think she'll have a pretty great time once she gets out there though; she'll know quite a few people and it's only for one night.  I think it's a good way to ease into getting used to some independence, and I think it might make her more open to the idea of a summer camp some time in the future.  I have some really fond memories of the camps I attended as a kid, and I'd love for her to have some similar experiences.

It's been getting colder here, and the cats have started spending as much time as they can on laps or burrowed under warm laundry as I'm folding it.  I have seasonal lap cats-- they condescend to sit on me only in the winter time, probably because they think I make a good heating pad.  Then they get really huffy every time I want to move because my legs have fallen asleep or something.

We had a pint sized wool-lined bed we'd bought for Eden's guinea pigs a while back that they didn't care for, so I washed it in anticipation of putting it away.  It was sitting out on the couch for all of five minutes before it became Cricket's new favorite happy place-- despite the fact that it's about three times too small for her to fit inside.  I ended up buying her a more appropriately sized snuggly cat bed so she wouldn't look so pathetic and could fit her entire body inside the thing, but I had to stick the guinea pig bed inside it because otherwise she completely ignored it.  Every once in a while I take it out and wash it and she waits by the dryer until it's done and she can attempt to stuff her entire body into the thing again.  I think she's convinced that if she tries hard enough, someday she'll fit.

Crazy cat.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In Which I Spend Way Too Much Time Decorating

Connor had a seizure (he's still getting over that cold) before school today and so I let him take a short nap on my bed while I got ready for the day.  We'd been back there for about ten minutes when I became aware of a smell filtering through the bedroom door.  This was not a pleasant smell.  It was more of a Something Is Very, Very Burned And Or Possibly In Flames Right Now kind of odor.

So this morning Eden discovered that if you put those vegetarian buffalo wings in the microwave and they are not hot after two minutes, which is the heating time on the package, it is not a good idea to put them in on high for six more minutes unless you prefer your fake chicken wings hot enough that they are actively on fire when you take them out.  Thankfully there was no harm done except for the fact that the veggie wings had to be put out in the sink and were inedible lumps of charcoal and my entire kitchen is now heavily perfumed in Eau De Charred Soy.  Yum.  Any suggestions on how to get the smell out of the microwave?

After I got the kids off to school (and then returned to Eden's school with a new outfit as her old shirt apparently smelled rather strongly of burnt veggie wings) my dad came by and we got to work hanging the wall sconces I bought for the master bedroom a few weeks ago.  Apparently what happens when I don't write for five months is I spend all that time and energy redecorating instead.  I've been slowly but steadily redoing our bedroom to make it more functional and welcoming, and I've pretty much got it the way I want it now.  Since Jer hasn't been home I've been making all of the decorating decisions, so the room is quite a bit more feminine than it probably would have been otherwise, but I think he'll probably be able to live with it.

Wall Sconces of Glory
So now I have a shag rug in there, and a super comfy zebra print chair, and a whole station with an electric kettle for tea and hot cocoa and a nice little plate with various kinds of chocolate on it, and lots of books, and plants (my bedroom is a cat free zone, which is why my plants are not all little chewed nubs) and my computer, too.  I'm currently wrapped up in my super fuzzy throw, sipping hot cocoa and stuffing my face full of Andes Mints while I'm typing, and since there's a bathroom back here as well I'm seriously wondering why I even need the rest of the house.  I guess I would eventually die of scurvy or something if I never came out of my room again, but it would take a while.  I've got a lot of chocolate back here.

Squids Make All Spices Taste Better
So anyway, Dad and I put up the wall sconces, and then I stood around for a little bit being proud of them and trying to figure out how to work every conversation I have for the next week around to wall sconces so I can talk about them, and then I got a phone call from Connor's school because his g-tube had accidentally been yanked out during a transfer and they needed me to come put a new one in so I had to stop daydreaming.  Hey, it happens.

After that we went to PT, where Connor tried out a new walker, and then we came home to find a package on the doorstep with my new food-safe tins I ordered to put all my spices in (told you I had the redecorating bug).  I spent Connor's entire nap time hanging my spice rack (two Gamble bottle crates hung vertically on the outside of my pantry wall) and transferring over all my spices to their new containers.  Then I hung a gilded squid over the whole mess, because squids are awesome.  See?

So now I can find all my spices, which will be really, really nice; this arrangement is a vast improvement over their previous corner cabinet home.  The rest of my house may look terrible (with the exception of the bedroom wall sconces, which look awesome) and there's a rather odd lingering smell of burnt buffalo spices throughout the whole place, but at least I'll be able to find my za'atar when I need it!


In Which I Sort Of Explain

Hello, friends.  It's been a long, long time.

So it's been nearly a year since I started this whole Parenting-A-Teenager journey, and let me just say that adopting an older child is every bit as much an extreme sport as roller derby.  The last few months have been. . . intense.  We've had a lot going on around here, and shortly after I wrote my last post things exploded and it became evident that it would be best if I took a hiatus from the Internet entirely until it settled down around here a bit.  So I just sort of walked away from it, and I stopped checking my e-mail and Facebook and everything because everybody wanted to know why I wasn't blogging and I couldn't figure out how to answer that question without sharing way more information than would be appropriate or healthy for our girl.  Sorry about that, everyone.

After a few months of intensive counseling multiple times a week we've made some significant progress, and I'm feeling comfortable with the idea of starting to write about my family again. I want to make it clear that we have zero regrets about the choice we made to pursue Eden's adoption and we're still fully committed to her (and should hopefully be finalizing next month!).  We'll be continuing to help her grow and heal over the next few years as she forges on towards adulthood.  I won't be going into any more detail about the last few months to protect her privacy, but I'll just say that it's been an extremely difficult period for all parties involved and leave it at that.

So a quick update on the rest of the family:

Connor's doing wonderfully and is as adorable as ever.  The kid's been working in a walker and that was going well for a while, but he now seems to have lost interest in it so we're taking a break.  He's getting over a cold at the moment, and is currently snoring and snortling away like a little pug dog in his room.  He's on the mend and felt much better today though, so he spent a large portion of his time amusing himself by asking to snuggle with me and then blowing his nose on my shirt.  Ah, the joys of motherhood.

Jer's doing well at Physician's Assistant school and is nearly done with his classroom time.  He's been gone seventeen months now and I am so, so ready for him to be home.  Unfortunately he'll be stationed in California for his year of clinicals so I'll be continuing my sort-of single parenthood for a while yet, but we hope he'll be doing at least a few of his rotations up this way, so we should see a lot more of him.  I've been checking train schedules for the line that runs down the California cost, and we're making plans to have some fun adventures together.

So anyway, here I am again-- thanks for being patient with me.  We'll be returning to our regularly scheduled programming of daily blogging now.  Huzzah!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

In Which My Computer Is Still Fried And I Whine A Lot

I'm currently typing this in the library, with Connor sprawled out fast asleep across my lap.  My left leg is rapidly going to sleep, but at least he isn't making that glorious noise where he manages to hit three clashing notes simultaneously, which is what he was doing before this.  The other library patrons were not amused.  He's currently recovering from a double outer-ear infection and is still feeling a bit punky; I had to perform mouth-to-mouth on him last week during a seizure for the first time in over a year.  Eden is on the computer next to me, muttering under her breath in Thai as she checks up on how her friends are doing.  Basically it's All Together Time, All The Time right now when the kids are home from school. 

Yes, as Jer told you all a few days ago before the impromptu lesson on neurotoxins (most of our phone conversations sound exactly like that now), my laptop fried.  It would make the appropriate I'm Busily Booting Up And Being Productive sounds, but the monitor remained stubbornly black no matter how many random buttons I pushed.  After trying unsuccessfully to hook it up to a desktop monitor, I took it in to a repair place in the vain hope that I was just being an idiot and had hit the wrong hotkey or something.  Unfortunately the very nice guy there told me that the motherboard is fried, which in a laptop is pretty much All She Wrote.  It was a good little computer and served me faithfully through four years and a very tumulteous time in my life, so I'm sad to see it go.

Being sans computer is a very odd feeling for me.  My parents have very generously offered me their little-used laptop as a replacement when they arrive here, so I'll only be about a week without one.  But I have essentially no access to e-mail, Facebook or anything that requires a sensitive password at home at the moment.  I had no idea just how dependent on Internet communication I'd become until all of the sudden that easy access was missing.  I'm not really appreciating the sabbatical-- I manage a lot of the little guy's care on my computer and I'm sincerely hoping I'm able to pull all of that off the hard drive once I've got the new machine.  Lesson learned: back up your data, kids.

This week has been pretty intense, and it looks like next week will be more of the same.  I've put a lot of miles on the van in the past few weeks between the two kids.  I'm feeling a bit burned out-- especially since we're coming off of two weeks with no night nursing and we haven't had a respite care worker for over a month now.  I can't remember the last time I've had face-to-face social time wth someone sans children, and I've started having long, drawn out fantasies about things like sleeping in past six in the morning and going out for dinner by myself.  I think a big part of my feeling so frazzled is that I usually can vent online, and I don't have that option right now. 

My parents are recently retired and are moving up here just in time for summer, which I'm extremely excited about, and they want to have a chance to spoil the grandchildren by spending some quality time with them.  So I know things will be looking up soon.  I'm especially thankful because it doesn't look like the army will be reinstating our respite care before school is out, which means that without my parents here my 'little' alone time would suddenly become 'no' alone time. 

I think that's one of the hardest things I've had to adjust to with Jer being away, and even after eleven months I stll struggle with it.  I've always needed time to myself that isn't filled with the many activities of the day, and right now I just don't have that luxury.  I've already informed Jer that when he finishes up this first part of his school in January and returns, I will be Going Away somewhere for a weekend By Myself.  I'll find a little bed-and-breakfast, and I wlll take a three hour bubble bath and read six books and drink tea and eat chocolate and sleep for eighteen hours and it will be glorious.  Of course we will go on a vacation together too-- quality time with Jer is one of the other things I desperately miss right now-- but I will stlll take my Alone Vacation and it will be fantastic.

And it looks like my library computer time has almost timed out, so I need to wrap this up.  Rereading this I sound a bit whiny and down; but really I'm doing fine.  I just stored up all my complaining for one post, apparently-- thanks for letting me vent.  This parenting thing gets hard sometimes, and also Eden keeps getting into my chocolate supply.  Now I know why my mom always hid hers!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In which something something broken computer

Jessie has deadlined (Army for broken in a manner which makes it non mission capable) her computer.

Now that explanations are complete, this post is about my favorite gram positive anaerobic bacteria.

Clostridium spp.

Clostridium is a genus of about 100 specific species.
General characteristics of the genus include:

- Gram positive: meaning the cell wall surrounds a single phospholipid bilayer. This is important for culture staining and antibody/antigen interactions.

- Anaerobic: meaning the cells are unable to neutralize reactive oxygen species like O2-, H2O2, or -OH. This means that the cells thrive in low oxygen environments. Think environments created in home canning or found in honey or your intestine.

- Spore forming: meaning that the cells will form a dormant, durable spore when environmental conditions are  poor for survival. Spores can survive a long time. Supposedly the oldest known viable recovered spore was 25 million years old in a bee trapped in amber(wikipedia). I'm not sure I believe that yet, but they can last a long time.

- The various species of the genus compete poorly with many of the other bacteria you have probably heard of. Many of these other bacteria are actually normal flora (sort of good for you bacteria) of humans. E. coli and various Staphys and Streps tend to hang out with us.
This is good because...

- Neurotoxins

The neurotoxins are why this bacteria is so awesome.

Clostridium (C) botulinum produces the single most deadly toxin that is known to humanity. The toxin acts by preventing neurons from transmitting an action potential (go command) to muscles. This results in a flaccid paralysis and eventual asphyxiation. 1 microgram/kg is potentially fatal.
Most people recognize the toxin's medicinized name; Botox.

C. tetani produces a slightly less deadly toxin. This toxin acts by preventing the inhibition of muscle activity. This results in tetany (constant muscle contraction) and eventual asphyxiation.

C. difficile can colonize your digestive tract if you have been on antibiotics for a long period of time. Basically, an antibiotic might create a situation where difficile can out-compete your normal digestive flora. When this happens, difficile produces a toxin (not a neurotoxin I think) that causes pseudomembraneous colitis. An easier way to say that is your bowel gets inflamed and you have very foul smelling diarrhea. A severe infection could cause the patient to begin to pass bloody, foul smelling, diarrhea.

Now before anyone reads the above paragraph and starts jumping to assumptions like a kangaroo on atropine + epinephrine understand that if you need an antibiotic you should take an antibiotic.
Many antibiotics tend to work well on specific types of bacteria but not others.

Any time you've gotten sick and the doctor took a specimen for culture but didn't give you an antibiotic immediately was because they were running the cultures through SURVIVOR: Laboratory Version where the losers die out from antibiotics and the winners are incinerated. As such, if you take an antibiotic for your ear infection and difficile takes over, you shouldn't think of it in terms of the difficile is now a super bug and you're doomed. I mean, you might be, but you probably just need a different antibiotic with a different target profile. Think of it this way, you don't use a APFSDS round on a dismount squad, you use a canister round (use google).

Finally, C. perfringens produces a toxin which can cause food poisoning and gas gangrene. If you don't like looking at open wounds and dead tissue you should probably just imagine gas gangrene and avoid google images.

There are many more species but these are ones important from a primary care perspective.

The good news is that most people don't encounter these bacteria because they can't really compete against more common aerobic bacteria (aerobic doesn't refer to a need for O2 in this usage). That being said, don't feed infants honey or home canned food before the age of one. Commercially canned baby food is prepared in a way to destroy any present spores.

Also; dangit Jes I'm a physician assistant student not an english major.

Blog Directory