Sunday, March 24, 2013

In Which My Computer Works Again

My computer has been on the fritz recently, which is what happens when you combine an old laptop with a kid who has motor skills issues and a mom who has a tendency to drop bits of chocolate on the keyboard.  But it's been given a thorough cleaning now and will hopefully last us a while longer.  I got it back in 2009, so it's not like the thing is geriatric or anything; just a little worn on the edges from some rough handling.  Kind of like the rest of the house-- every time we get a new wheelchair for Connor I bang up the walls for a while until I get the hang of the new size/shape of the chair, and I've now got another kid who leans on everything, leaving hand prints on all of the slightly dented walls.  But it's a happy, cozy kind of bumped up.  So that's good.

Yesterday Ellen asked me to make her some tom kha gai soup.  We were headed to the Asian grocery store and I thought I might try out a new recipe, but she was insistent.  "I love it when you make me tom kha gai" she chirped, turning on the charm.  Ellen being charming is a powerful motivator; I was instantly willing to make her tom kha gai every day of the week for the next year.  I'm so, so glad I'd taken the time to learn some Thai cooking before she got here, and now that she's home cooking together has become one of our favorite activities.  Not all of our experiments turn out (did you know that if you run out of all-purpose flour for pizza, replacing it with bread flour is NOT a good idea?) but we're having a blast trying.

We set off the smoke alarm for the first time this week.  Huzzah!

Connor had his first talent show practice this weekend, and it looks like it's going to be pretty cute.  Out of the four families there, three of us had adopted kids.  So we felt right at home.  Connor seemed largely indifferent to the idea of dancing-- apparently he was not enamored of the musical selection.  That's okay!  As long as he has a good time overall it doesn't matter how much he participates.

Connor's birthday is coming up so soon!  How can my little guy possibly be seven?  Seriously, that is Not Cool.  Connor must stop getting older immediately.  Of course we have no idea what to get him, but we'll figure it out.  His birthday is the same day as the start of Spring Break, so while we won't have a party (Connor hates parties) we'll have the chance to spend an entire fun-filled day together.  The downside to it being spring break is that everyone else will also be trying to spend an entire fun-filled day together.  We may try to avoid the tourist hot spots; neither of my kids do well in crowds.

My little guy isn't so little any more!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

In Which This Girl Should Not Be On Fire

I've had the stomach bug for a few days and now that I'm recovered, the kids seem to be coming down with it. It's almost ten in the morning and they're both still asleep, which is a practically unheard-of occurrence in this household.  Hopefully they'll be over it quickly!

We're three months in now, which is hard to believe, and we're still completely in love with our girl.  We're still having many new experiences, and since her English is growing by leaps and bounds we're learning more and more about her every day!  Yesterday I brought out my old makeup and let her play with it on me and do my hair, which was definitely a new experience for us both.  I told her she could be "as crazy as she wanted," and she took me at my word and lunged for the dark green glitter eyeshadow.

I ended up with eye shadow up past my eyebrows, the entire upper half of my cheeks painted bright pink, crimson lipstick and wildly teased hair.  She had an absolute blast.  I wanted to post a picture to show all of you, but she made me swear not to put on online.  Evidently she was either worried about protecting my reputation or she's trying to protect hers.  She has no idea that it's way, way too late-- thanks to roller derby I've already worn my underwear on the outside of my clothing in public and thus have no reputation left to protect.  Either way she's adorable. But I promised her, so you'll just have to imagine how fabulous I looked.

Now that her English is coming along well, we've had some funny misunderstandings.  The other day she was at swim practice and one of the kids on her team started singing "This Girl Is On Fire."  She was very concerned.  "What girl?  Why she on fire?  Not good!"  She thought the girl should find some water and jump in right away.

We're still working on idioms.

Connor's had a couple of small seizures this week, but overall the medication seems to be working well for him.  I've been a bit worried about how taking him to Ellen's swim practices and meets would work out, as it can get pretty warm and humid in there and we're always worried about his core temperature getting too high.  So far so good, though.  He actually seems to really enjoy going to the practices, probably for a couple of reasons.  He seems to like watching the swimmers-- as long as he doesn't have to get in the water, he seems to think all of the splashing and whatnot is pretty cool-- and he likes the two hours of uninterrupted snuggle time.  I'm doing my best to make sure that both kids get some one-on-one time every week, but it's quite the adjustment for a kid who is used to being the undivided center of attention 24/7.  I think you get that same adjustment any time you have a new sibling in the house.

He'll get a chance to shine soon on stage; Connor is going to be in a talent show!  It's in April and is being put on by his therapy center.  He's going to be clapping along with a group of kids to a song; I'm excited to see him on stage!  We're bringing the video camera for sure.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

In Which These Little Piggies Came Home

Just a word of warning-- Connor went to bed at about four thirty in the morning, and his meds were due at six.  So I'm just a tad bit loopy writing this.  Don't expect a masterpiece.

Anyway, I'd like to introduce you to the two new members of our wacky little household!

This is Coffee:

And this is Sugar!  Ellen named them herself.

Yesterday morning, Ellen and I hopped in the van and drove out to a farm about a half an hour away.  And there in the loft of a large horse barn, we found a cozy room full to the brim with squealing, happy guinea pigs.  There were A LOT of guinea pigs-- all of them either from animal shelters, surrenders or unexpected babies from people who thought they were buying two males or females from a pet store and then ended up with four or five bonus guinea pigs a few weeks later.  There were easily well over a hundred guinea pigs in this room, happily running around large open pens in groups of four or five.

We pretty immediately determined that we weren't interested in adopting a pair of babies.  Though they were all adorable-- miniature copies of the adults slightly larger than a deck of cards-- they were also much more nervous and tended to race around a lot faster than the grown guinea pigs.  While Ellen is very gentle and careful with animals, she does have some coordination issues with her left hand and I could see that it would be much more difficult for her to handle a smaller animal.  Also, we knew that the babies would likely be adopted out faster, and Ellen felt strongly that we should bring home animals that had been waiting for a while.  So we decided to look at the older piggies.

There were so many lovely older guinea pigs that it was still going to be really difficult to choose.  We held several different pairs of girls and boys, and they were all beautiful, spunky piggies.  But there was one particular pair that caught our attention pretty quickly.  They'd come in together from an animal shelter, and had an unknown history and no names.  One was a happy, very tame black, white and brown girl who absolutely loved taking treats and sat calmly in Ellen's lap.  The other was a much smaller all-white girl with red eyes, who was a bit more shy.  They were in with two other guinea pigs, one of whom was also available for adoption.

It was one offhand comment that sealed the deal.  After she told us that the tri-color guinea pig could go with either the white guinea pig she'd come in with or the other adoptable pig in the run, the woman in charge of the shelter said that "the white ones with red eyes usually spend their whole lives here at the shelter, because people don't think they are as attractive."  Ellen was outraged and immediately leapt to the guinea pig's defense.  "But she beautiful," she said.  "Her red eye beautiful.  I see her, I think, oh, red eye she beautiful.  Why they do that?  Why they not pick her?  Not good.  Why they only pick baby?  Why they think she look not good?" 

"I don't know, sweetheart," I told her, "But it's not fair.  All of the guinea pigs deserve families." 
"Yeah, not fair," she said.
"Do you want to take this guinea pig home?"  I asked, already knowing the answer.
"Yes, she have home now.  Don't worry, you have home now," she told the oblivious guinea pig, who was happily munching on a carrot.  "You beautiful."

So we signed the paperwork that promised we would care for the guinea pigs.  We carefully put them in the carrier with a towel and some hay, and they rode on Ellen's lap all the way back to the house.  "Shh," she told them.  "It okay." 

"You beautiful.  You have home now.  Shh, shh, it okay.  I love you.  It okay."

"You come home."


Thursday, March 7, 2013

In Which We Do A Lot Of Stuff And Things

I'm afraid I may have to turn on that darn "weed out the spambots" button-- the spam is getting kind of ridiculous now and I have quite a bit less time to spend deleting it all, dang it.

We had an extremely busy week around here!  Connor went almost ten days without seizures, which was pretty exciting.  He had about a twenty second one yesterday and a fifteen second one today, so that trend may be over.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

The little guy had a progress report done in physical therapy yesterday.  He's now able to straighten his legs about twenty more degrees than he could a few months ago, so that's some movement in the right direction!  Connor's hamstrings are still somewhat constricted-- he can extend his legs to a 150 degree angle rather than a 180 degrees-- but any improvement in his flexibility is fantastic.  With kids who sit in a wheelchair most of the time like Connor does, hamstring shortening tend to be inevitable and if they get bad enough children can need surgery to be comfortable.  So I'm glad we're keeping him as limber as we can!

Ellen had her second swim meet this past weekend; it was a two-day affair and she swam eight events total.  She did a fantastic job, and we're pretty proud of her!  She's told us that in Thailand she didn't get to swim in very many competitions each year and they were all against other children with disabilities, so she's not quite used to this swim-meet-with-typical-kids-every-couple-of-weeks thing yet.  She had a really good time, though she was pretty tired by the end of the weekend!  She's starting to open up more to the other kids and seems to be making some friends; it was pretty neat to see all the other kids cheering for her as she raced.

I had a meeting with her teachers today; I hadn't met most of them yet and this was a good time for a check-in.  We also wanted to get the ball rolling on a 504 plan for her, and talk a little bit with her teachers about how Ellen's education might be affected by cultural differences between Thailand and the USA, her cerebral palsy, long number of years in institutionalized care, and her adoption.  All of her teachers seemed very nice and they all had wonderful things to say about her-- she's is a very eager student.  She really seems to love school and is pretty enthusiastic about learning.

Tomorrow morning she and I have an appointment up at the rescue center to pick up a pair of guinea pigs!  Unfortunately the rescue is not wheelchair accessible, so Connor has to stay home.  But I'm sure the whole family will spend quite a bit of time staring into the guinea pigs' ridiculously huge cage (no seriously, this thing is HUGE) once we get them home.  Ellen and I set the cage up today, and so it's all ready for its new occupants.  She's decided that she wants a pair of boy guinea pigs, though she may change her mind once we get there and she has to choose.  We've been talking a lot about how the guinea pigs might be "feeling" after leaving all the other guinea pigs and coming to a new, strange family.  I think the guinea pigs are going to be a rather important tool for expressing emotions around here for a while!


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