Friday, May 24, 2013

In Which I Get Some Sleep

We've had a few rocky days over here; our night nurse is currently on vacation so I've been holding down the fort alone.  Thankfully the agency sent us a sub for last night.  I got some wonderful sleep and am feeling like I can string coherent sentences together again.  So here I am!  The next time we'll have a night nurse will be Sunday, but since the kids will probably sleep in over the weekend things will probably work out a bit better than not having one during the week. 

Connor had a neurology appointment yesterday, and things went extremely well.  His neurologist is extremely pleased with how the little guy has been doing; not only has he been very responsive and alert in the past few weeks, but have his reflexes calmed down a lot-- a pretty concrete indication that his brain is doing well.  Connor's over his cold now, and he seems to be feeling really good; we haven't seen any seizures this week.

He's been expressing this by making a lot of noise.  I hadn't realized just how quiet he'd gotten until now, when he's constantly making some sort of sound.  He's also being a lot more obstinate, and he's using his hands more.  He figured out the other day that if he bangs on the top of his seat belt long enough it unbuckles, so that's been a bit exciting.  I'm torn between feeling happy that he's exploring his world, and exasperated because I have to keep pulling the car over to buckle him back up.  Whee!

Eden and Connor are off of school today and Monday, so we'll be doing some playing this weekend out and about.  We've got some more relatives coming into town too; it's been a busy month for us! 


Sunday, May 19, 2013

In Which We Take It Easy

Today Jeremy and I celebrated our ninth anniversary.  It seems like only yesterday we were exchanging our vows!  We've visited some weird and wonderful places during our lives in those nine years, and while I haven't always enjoyed where we've been, at least the company has been lovely.  We'll see where the next nine years takes us!  I'm missing him a lot today.  We didn't really do anything this year, but we decided that next year we'll try and take a little trip together or something for our tenth anniversary, when Jer will hopefully be back home.

Today was the last day for some of our relatives to be in town, and we took things a bit easier so we could really focus on enjoying that time with them.  We're sad to see them go; we had a lovely time with them!  There was another reason for us to slow down a bit today too; Connor had three seizures.  I'm pretty convinced he's getting that cold, and it's throwing his system all out of whack. 

So we didn't cram in a whole lot today.  After we went to church we ate lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant, and then we took a trip down to the huge bead store in the area to check out their many, many wares.  I swear if that place was any bigger you'd need a compass to find your way out. 

After browsing for a while we returned to the house and spent the rest of the day relaxing.  I chatted with Jer while I watched the world's fattest squirrel stuff itself full of seeds fallen from the bird feeder.  It's actually too fat to make its way up the pole to the feeder now, which is pretty impressive.  I suspect the squirrel might be a she and pregnant-- it's about that season here.  I'm fine with her scavenging on the ground around the feeder, as long as she doesn't try and steal the eggs out of the chestnut-backed chickadee nest nearby.  I'm really looking forward to seeing some chickadee babies in a few weeks.

Looks like spring is finally really here!


In Which We're Still Busy

Yesterday was another extremely busy day for us.  We started off the morning with a swim meet for Eden.  It was a small meet with just one other team, but even so there were quite a few kids there so it took a while to get started.  Eden swam very well.  Connor, however, did not have such a nice morning; he had a seizure on the way there, and then overheated a bit at the swim meet and ended up having another one.  So he spent a good portion of the meet stripped down to just his shorts and lying between the bleachers on the seat cushions I'd brought.  He perked up about two thirds of the way into things though, so that was good.

After the meet we went out to lunch, and then we headed down to Northwest Trek (one of our local wildlife parks) to check out all of the animals.  When we took the tram ride through the free range area of the park it was drizzling a bit-- which is just the type of weather the animals around here really like-- so we were able to see a lot of activity. 

Probably the coolest thing we saw was a baby buffalo that was about six hours old; he was really unsteady on his feet and didn't seem to know what to make of the tram, but he was also huge for only being six hours old.  I have new respect for buffalo mothers.

So we got back to the house in the late afternoon.  Connor, probably due to all of the napping he did today, proceeded to stay up until one in the morning, which was not particularly fun for me, but otherwise the evening was uneventful.  We'll see what kind of adventures we get up to today!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

In Which We Get A Move On

Well that was a busy day yesterday! 

We all got the chance to sleep in a little bit because instead of heading to school, we were going to Connor's Special Sports Day.  Over 300 kids with special needs from around his school district participated.  Connor did the softball toss, the 50 meter race and the 100 meter race (which was more like 60 meters, but that's okay-- who's counting?).  Eden came along as Connor's racing partner, and she pushed his chair in the races and helped him throw the softballs.  It was pretty awesome, and the kids both had a blast.  Here's a photo of the two of them together after their first race-- Eden's face is obscured enough by her hair that I can post it.  My kids are adorable.

So Connor came home with some ribbons, which he was extremely proud of.  We ate some lunch, and then it was time for Eden to meet some of her extended family for the first time; they're up here visiting us for the weekend and exploring the area.  It's always great to have relatives in town!  So we got the chance to visit for a while, and then it was time for Eden's swim practice.  So we all drove down for that and watched the little miss practice for her upcoming swim meet. 

After that we came home, ate some dinner, put a very tired Connor to bed and then visited for just a bit with the other set of relatives that are in town this weekend.  And then Eden worked on her homework for a while on the computer before bed. 

 So basically we were on the move all day!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

In Which The Children Are Thrown Off Their Groove

We had a bit of a rough day today.  Connor has a sports field day tomorrow that he'll be traveling to another school for, and Eden is going to help out with it so she'll be missing some school as well.  In addition to that, we've got relatives coming into town tomorrow.  So because the kids are anticipating the change in their routine, they both kind of freaked out today.

I've noticed a pretty specific pattern with Eden in particular-- whenever we've got a new event, change in routine or are meeting a new person, she ends up having a really tough day the day before the event and, in the case of people, usually the day after as well.  That's pretty typical behavior for children adopted at an older age so it's certainly not unexpected, though it can be exhausting for all parties involved.

However, I think living as a hermit is going to be a bad habit to get into as well, so we'll keep working at it!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In Which We Have A Quiet Day

Today Connor had his first seizure since that whopper over spring break.  It was only about a minute and a half long, but it makes me wonder if maybe he's catching the cold I'm still getting over.  I've passed it along to Eden for sure; she's just really starting to sound hoarse.  We'll see what Connor sounds like tomorrow, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's coming down with it too.

Connor didn't have physical therapy today because we did it yesterday, so things ended up being fairly quiet around here.  He took a pretty good actual nap (another sign that he's probably getting sick) and I took the opportunity to catch up on a bit of housework and do some writing.

I'm really struggling at finding a good time and place to write at the moment.   I've always much preferred writing in the evenings out at a coffee shop or somewhere away from the house, and that's just not feasible right now since we don't have respite care at the moment.  Finding time and a place that works for me during the day while the kids are in school is difficult; I always feel like I should be doing something else, like unloading the dishwasher or something.

Oh well-- I'll keep plugging away at it and I'm sure that eventually I'll form new habits and things will get easier!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In Which Connor Bowls And Eden Has A Fitting

Connor's physical therapist caught us while we were on the way out the door from Eden's PT session today; she had an opening and thought we might want to go ahead and do his session early.  Normally he has physical therapy tomorrow.  I jumped all over it-- it's always nice not to have to make another trip up to the hospital!  Connor was a bit perturbed by the schedule change, but he perked up a bit when he got the chance to go bowling with a new friend.  Really-- they have a switch-activated bowling set.  It's awesome.  Connor refused to push any of the buttons with his hands, but he did hit the switch very deliberately with his head.  Hey, we'll take what we can get!

We might have to try bowling down at the local place with the kids sometime.  Connor seemed to get a kick out of it, Eden would probably enjoy it too and I'm pretty sure that they have a modified bowling set down there. 

Eden's physical therapy session was a bit unusual today as well; she spent a good portion of it choosing a model and getting fitted for a wheelchair.  Long distances are very difficult for her to walk, and having the chair is going to open up a lot of opportunities for her to participate in more activities.  She used a chair occasionally in Thailand, but it was far too large for her.  This will be the first one fitted specifically for her.

It will be a fairly lightweight, bare-bones model.  I'm not exactly sure what particular one was settled on in the end, but I believe it's in the TiLite series.  We don't want this to be a lounging chair or something that becomes her primary mode of transportation-- we only want her to use it when walking just isn't going to work.  So we got it without arm rests or push bars.  Right now she's making huge gains in terms of balance and leg function, and we want to make sure she continues to push herself while still having that support when she needs it.  She'll probably always need the chair for longer distances, but as far as we're concerned the more upright mobility she has, the better.

Eden was less concerned about the chair's functionality and more concerned with whether or not she could get it entirely in black.  Because she's a teenager, and that sort of stuff is important. Also, believe it or not, they may actually have an option that involves skulls, and the only thing this kid likes better than black is skulls.  So she's pretty gung ho about the chair.  If we don't end up with a skull option I may have to find her a skull pin to put on the back or something. 

It will probably be a few weeks before we're actually ordering the chair though as we've got to wait for the authorization to go through, so we've got some time before we're going to be picking out that sort of nitty-gritty detail!


Monday, May 13, 2013

In Which We Have A Slow Day And Think About The Future

Today I spent a good portion of my alone time while the kids were in school napping.  I never used to be able to nap, but it has now become one of my favorite activities.  This is probably a sign that I'm firmly out of young adulthood and trundling on towards middle age.  Either that or I'm turning into a cat. 

Hey.  It could happen.

Anyway, Connor spent a good portion of the day napping as well-- he kept nodding off in his wheelchair, though apparently he lasted through school all right.  Thankfully he crashed as soon as I put him down for bed tonight, so hopefully by tomorrow he'll have mostly caught up on sleep and will be back to his usual cheery self.  He was a bit grumpy today.  Staying up for forty-four hours straight tends to have that effect on people.

Once I managed to get up and moving, I went down to Target to pick up Connor's medication and to find myself a new notebook.  I've been trying to get more involved in my serious writing projects recently, and whenever I start a new writing project I have to buy a new notebook.  This is completely regardless of the fact that I already have about forty half-filled notebooks stashed away in various corners of the house.  I really pity whoever has to go through my stuff after I die, because since I plan to live to at least a hundred and twenty they are probably going to have a lot of recycling to do. 

I'm starting to try and write more for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I really love writing and it's a hobby I can do indoors with the kids, which is where I'm going to be spending a lot of my summer.  The second reason is that in another five or six years, when Jeremy is out of school and is allowed vacation time and the kids are a bit older, I'd like to find a low residency program and go back to college an earn either an M.A. or an M.F.A. in creative writing. 

However, in order to do that I'd need to actually have a body of work-- preferably published work-- to show in my application.  Also Eden will be pretty close to college by that point, and paying for one college education will be bad enough without tacking on one I would be doing less for career opportunities and more for personal gratification.  This means I will likely have to manage to land a scholarship to be able to attend, and most of the ones connected with writing are merit based. 

So you know, actually writing something once in a while that isn't a blog I cobbled together in fifteen minutes might be a good idea, right?


Sunday, May 12, 2013

In Which We Have Mother's Day

So we had an extremely quiet Mother's Day today.  This is because Connor decided to celebrate it by not sleeping at all.  Since he'd gotten up at four in the morning the day before, that means that as of right now I've gone about forty-two hours without sleep.  I think it's forty-two hours, anyway.  I'm not wonderful at math at the best of times, and my brain is kind of fuzzy at the corners at the moment. 

So we pretty much stayed home today.  We did make one quick trip to the grocery store for food after I took a micro-nap and chugged a ridiculous amount of coffee, but the grocery store is less than a mile from our house so I figured I could focus on the road long enough to get there and back without putting us in harm's way.  However, church and the breakfast out we'd planned to do didn't happen. 

But barring the sleep deprivation, the day was lovely.  The kids gave me some very sweet gifts for Mother's Day.  Connor brought home a bookmark from school with his picture on it, and Eden wrote me a card that made me tear up.  She made it out of lavender colored construction paper and covered it in rainbow colored hearts.  On the outside she printed "Happy Mother's Day" in her best handwriting. 

On the inside she taped a picture of me tossing Connor up in the air and wrote: 

Dear Mommy, 

Thank you for everything you do for us.  You always take time to take me swimming and take Connor and me to school and P.T.  We Love you so much!  

Eden and Connor

So that right there made it pretty much the best Mother's Day ever in the history of everything.  Who needs sleep?


Saturday, May 11, 2013

In Which I Don't Write For A While And Explain Why

So I haven't blogged in about a month.  Many of you have e-mailed me or left comments asking how we're doing, which I really appreciate. 

And the truth is, we're doing okay.  Not wonderful, but okay.

Don't worry; it's not Connor.  He's fine.  More than fine actually-- he's thriving right now.  It's just that it turns out that this parenting two kids thing is kind of tough.  I know, who would have guessed, right?  It's without a doubt the best thing I've ever done and I have zero regrets, but I'm not going to pretend it's all roses and sunshine over here.  Our daughter is dealing with some really big feelings, and she's still developing the tools she needs to handle them.  Things are slowly improving, but it's a process that's going to take a long time.  She's a fantastic kid and a survivor, and she's learning and growing in leaps and bounds every day.  But we are definitely experiencing some challenging parenting moments right now.

So one of the reasons why I haven't been blogging is that I've been trying to figure out where my boundaries are in terms of transparency and honesty versus being sensitive about respecting our daughter's privacy.  I've always been a fairly open and frank blogger in terms of how I write about my experiences, but I want to make sure that what I'm putting down here is something that "Ellen" will be okay with having in the public eye.  Once her English improved to the point where I'm sure she understood what I was asking, I had a discussion with her about how comfortable she is with me writing about her.  She gave me pretty much free reign.  That's a tremendous gesture of trust in me on her part, and I want to make sure I honor that. 

So I'm still hashing out exactly how much detail I'll go into in regards to exactly what issues we're dealing with around here. Please bear with me on that one, okay?  I don't want to give you the impression that they're life-threatening or anything out of the realm of the ordinary for a child adopted at an older age; in fact we were expecting to potentially deal with much greater issues than what we've seen, and for the most part our girl is doing beautifully.  But the fact remains that she is facing some pretty significant challenges emotionally and behaviorally.  I do want to keep in mind that anyone can see this blog, and I don't want to write anything that might be potentially embarrassing to her in the future if, say, one of her classmates was to stumble upon it.

Another thing we've discussed in recent weeks is exactly what our daughter would like to be called on here.  She's decided to take an American first name when we finalize the adoption in July, and after a bit of experimentation and a lot of poring over baby name books she seems to have settled pretty firmly on one.  She'd like me to start calling her by that name on the blog, and since it's not currently her legal name that isn't a problem in terms of our agreement with our agency.  So she's chosen the name "Eden," and I'll be referring to her here that way from now on.  We'll see if that's still what she wants to go by come July, but she seems pretty stuck on it.  In the meantime, Eden it is! 

Goodness knows she has much better taste than I would have if I'd been given the opportunity to name myself at fifteen.  I was heavily into a hippy-dippy bad poetry phase at the time and probably would have named myself something like "Ebony Rose Skylark Meadowsong."  It would not have been good.

Anyway, now for something completely different.  It's time for a bit more transparency on another topic, which will also help explain my recent absence from the Internet.  I kept this concealed at the time for a variety of reasons, few of which apply anymore, so now I can share.  Savvy readers might have noticed that pictures and writing about Jer dropped off sharply a few months ago.  I think I mentioned once waaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2010 that he was taking prerequisite classes in preparation for applying to the army's Physician's Assistant Program, and then I never said anything about it ever again.  What I've been neglecting to mention for, um, a while is that he applied, and he was accepted (of course, as the man is brilliant-- not that I have a biased opinion or anything), and he started up the program last July.  It happens to be on the other side of the country-- down south in Texas.

And we, of course, couldn't go with him.

Connor doesn't sweat, and taking him down to live in an area that gets to 115 degrees in August would be a Rather Poor Parenting Decision on our part.  So we made the extremely difficult decision to do the long-distance marriage thing until the first part of Jer's PA school is complete.  We're then really hoping he'll be able to get a special dispensation to move back up this way for the second phase of PA school.  I'm so proud of him and he's been doing very well in school, which is no surprise.  I also miss him terribly.  He's been gone for about ten months now, and we have about eight months left to go.  In other words, I've been doing the sort-of-single-parent thing for nearly a year now. 

This is not particularly fun.

We talk to him every day, of course, and Skype when our lousy Internet connections allow for it.  He's able to visit us during semester breaks as well, which is pretty fantastic.  And he's not deployed, which we're very grateful for.  But it's pretty hard not having him here, and I'm definitely being stretched in a lot of ways.  As a result, when I'm not dreaming about Jer being home again, a lot of my current fantasies involve going away for a whole weekend to some little Bed and Breakfast with a maid, a 24-hour tea and chocolate service, a large bathtub and a suitcase full of books.  And I would go there By Myself.  To be All Alone.  And it would be marvelous.

I don't want to make it sound like things are falling apart around here.  They aren't.  We're actually having a lot of wonderful moments.  In the past month Connor had his birthday, took his first step ever in a walker (and then got very surprised when we started cheering and refused to do it again), Eden got her ears pierced, went roller skating, and discovered the wonders of fresh-picked corn on the cob from the farmer's market and I've spent a ton of time playing out in the garden.  So there's actually been some really wonderful stuff happening around these parts.

But in the process of trying to avoid talking about Jer being gone and figuring out what to say or not say about Eden and also doing the eight bajillion things that one does as a parent of a seven year old and a teenager, blogging started to seem less like a pleasure and more like extra work.  And if there's one thing I don't need around here right now, it's extra work.  So I stopped and took a step back.  And it was only yesterday that I realized I was beginning to genuinely miss writing here to you, and I knew it was time to start up again. 

So sorry for disappearing on you all like that.  I'm still here, we're still trucking along, and I'm still going to write about it.  No guarantees on quality, but I'm going to do my best to get back in the habit of writing every day. 

Thanks for being patient with me!


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