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!

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