Friday, April 30, 2010

In Which We Look Better Than Life

Check out these gorgeous pictures!  Kat and Justin, the photographers behind Persimmon Images, did an awesome job, and we're really happy with these shots-- not to mention the 50 some odd more that aren't posted here.  We are not exactly the easiest family in the world to photograph, so that makes these pics especially great.

Take Connor, for example.  I mean sure, the kid is unbelievably cute, which makes things a little easier.  But he also drools a ton, sticks his fingers in his mouth, refuses to look at the camera or smile, self-stims by flapping his arms a lot, and since he doesn't stand on his own is a challenge to pose.  Then we have Jer, who was switching between crutches and a wheelchair at the time and tends to do that cheesy-smile thing for the camera. 

Finally there's me; not only do I wrinkle my nose up when I smile, but when I laugh I throw my head back and so there are no doubt a ton of rejected pictures of shots that would have otherwise been great if I wasn't showing off my nostril hair.  This laugh is a family trait that both me and my sister inherited (Tom, do you do this too?), so it's not going anywhere any time soon.  And because I was having a great time despite the bad weather, and also because Kat and Justin are both hilarious, I was laughing a lot.  The fact that they still managed to get seventy five absolutely awesome shots of us is a testament to what fantastic photographers they really are. 

You should check out some of their other photo shoots, where they had models that, you know, cooperated.  Amazing stuff.  Because they are totally awesome, you should also look for them in October at this year's Get Hitched, Give Hope; where they and a whole bunch of other bridal vendors will be raising money for end-stage cancer patients.  Future brides take note!

At any rate, enjoy the eye candy! 


Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Which Connor Has A Quiet Day

Connor had a pretty good day today-- he got to finger-paint at school, which is always fun.  Jeremy picked the little guy up because I had a doctor's appointment to have my Primary Care Manager fill out some paperwork for the adoption.  The doctor concluded that I was not, in fact, about to keel over at any second, and gave her stamp of approval.  That's one form down, 8,000 more to go!  Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. 

But not by much.

I spent a good portion of this afternoon filling out yet more paperwork at the house, while Connor played quietly with his toys.  Then as a reward for being so good, he and I went into his room and he got to swing for a good twenty minutes or so.  He was thrilled-- that swing is so wonderful for him!  Then we played ball for a while.  So all in all it was a pretty happy day.  We spoke with the neurologist as well and modified Connor's medication. 

Hopefully that will do the trick; keep your fingers crossed for us!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In Which Connor Has Another Seizure

Connor had another seizure today. 

I had a friend coming over-- we were going to play around with clay and make some jewelry-- and his seizure started just before the doorbell rang.  He slumped over a little in his high chair, where he had been playing with his toys, and when I picked him up I immediately knew something was wrong; he felt like dead weight and his color, especially on his left side, was very mottled.  He was still conscious and responsive, and he'd actually give me "high fives" with his right hand, but his left hand and foot seemed to be paralyzed.  When I tickled the bottom of his right foot he'd weakly move it away, but when I tickled the bottom of his left foot (normally the more sensitive one) I got no reaction, and his left arm and hand hung totally limp.  We immediately started him on oxygen, and laid a blanket down on the floor in preparation for doing mouth-to-mouth.  His right leg started jerking shortly after that, and he went unresponsive for a while, though his eyes were still open.  Then he stopped breathing.

I had to resuscitate him for about two minutes this time, and the whole seizure lasted about four minutes.  He slept a good portion of the rest of the afternoon.  My friend handled it extremely well, considering she walked in on me sitting there with a pale, jerking child on my lap waiting for him to go blue.  Jer called the neurologist's office and left a message, and then I worked on making clay jewelry for several hours while Connor slept.  I made those Domu-kun earrings and also some vampire oranges and I got to hang out with a friend, so at least the day wasn't completely dismal.  But it wasn't wonderful.

This latest incident is particularly disturbing because despite Connor's recent medication changes, his seizures are getting both longer and more frequent, making me worry that we're going into another cycle that's going to end with him in the ICU again.  This is Connor's fourth seizure in the past thirty days. I'm hoping we'll hear back from the neurologist tomorrow, and he can tell us what we need to do.

Keep the little guy in your thoughts and prayers, okay?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Which Connor Goes On A Field Trip

Today Connor's class went on their big field trip to the Hands On Children's Museum in Olympia!  And because I like field trips too, I went with the little guy.  We've been to the museum multiple times before, but never with school and never for so long-- the field trip lasted for almost three hours! 

I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Connor gave the whole experience mixed reviews.

We were expecting to have the whole place to ourselves, but apparently there was a miscommunication and it was open to the public.  As a result things were a little more crowded than we anticipated-- never a good thing with Connor's sensory issues.  He pulled his hearing aids out about forty seconds after we walked in the door. 

We went immediately to the toddler room, which was not quite as crowded and noisy as the rest of the museum.  I figured we'd ease into things, so we started out at the bean table with another kid from Connor's class, who dove right in. 

Connor declared that there was no way he was touching those beans.  He informed me that he was all done, and it was time to go home.

So after unsuccessfully trying the bean table for a little while, we moved on to the puppets.

Connor declared that there was no way he was touching those puppets.  He informed me that he was all done, and it was time to go home.

This was also his mantra for the train set, the water table, the marketplace, the fire truck, and the crayons.  It was obvious that he was a little overwhelmed and his sensory issues were acting up as a result.  We took a bathroom break and he immediately calmed down in the quiet, beige little room.  The only problem was that then he didn't want to leave the bathroom.  He figured we could just hang out in there for the rest of the trip.

Nice try, buddy.

I did find one thing that he enjoyed.  We sat down in the garden area (complete with a wooden "flower bed" and plastic vegetables) and he completely ignored my attempts to get him to "plant" broccoli and instead honed in on the brightly colored galoshes.  "Want, want!" he said.  So he got to put on a pair of galoshes, which made him very happy, except that he immediately saw another pair of galoshes and wanted to try those too.  We switched out galoshes for a little bit, but really he wanted to wear them both at the same time.  So I put the second pair on his arms.  This was a big hit.

So now apparently I should go galoshes shopping for Connor.  Not that he really has a need for them, but I can see the appeal.  The kid hates to have anything touching his feet, and so those things must look like armor to him.  I'll have to keep an eye out just in case I see a good deal.  If nothing else we can use them for pretend play.

Anyway we finished up back in the Toddler Room, where I forced him once again to touch many, many things he didn't want to touch.  The bus ride back was uneventful (though I did really enjoy chatting with the other moms) and we got home about 1:30pm, when the kid promptly crashed.  He was a tired little guy!

I think that overall he had a pretty good time, though he would have been much happier without me making him touch everything. 

Anybody have any galoshes (galosh?) recommendations for me?


Monday, April 26, 2010

In Which Connor Goes To The Doctor

Connor had a pediatrician appointment this morning, so he missed school.  He's got a field trip tomorrow with school, so it's been kind of an unusual week for him routinewise.  The appointment went well, and we went over how Connor is developing, what changes have happened in his medical care, prescriptions, etc.

Connor also received his four year vaccinations.  The hospital personnel debated about it a little bit and ultimately decided not to give Connor the DTaP shot, but instead just the Td shot, as they were concerned about the risk of the shot causing a seizure.  Interesting stuff.  Or at least I found it interesting.  Connor probably would have found it more interesting if they'd simply not given him any vaccinations at all.  Poor little guy.

We debated on whether or not to space his vaccinations out or hold off on them entirely given his current seizure issues, but ultimately decided it would be less stressful for him to get them all done at once than to have to keep coming in.  So far so good-- we'll see how he does over the next couple of days.  He was very brave-- he only cried for about a minute after the second round of shots, and he quieted down as soon as I picked him up.  I'm happy we have such a good natured kid. 

And on an entirely different topic . . .you should go check this out!  Kat Speyer's posted a couple of sneak preview images from that rainy-day photo shoot we did back in January with her and her husband, Justin.  Don't they look great?  I've posted another one here because I couldn't resist that cute little grin. 

That's my big boy! 


Sunday, April 25, 2010

In Which Jeremy Turns Twenty Nine

Today was Jeremy's birthday!

His espresso machine, sadly, is on backorder and has not yet arrived.  But we still had a great day, even if he did have to resort to making coffee in a French Press, which is apparently not up to snuff. 

He slept in this morning, and then spent a good portion of the day sitting on the couch playing video games, which is a perfectly acceptable way to spend a birthday, in my opinion.  Joanna came over again in the evening and Jer and I went out for dinner.  We ended up, of course, at the bookstore and then a local coffee shop, where we spent several happy hours curled up in comfy chairs, sipping our chosen beverages and reading. 

Jeremy is twenty nine today, which hardly seems possible.  We've known each other for ten years now, and we'll have been married for six of those in May.  Twenty-eight was an incredibly tumultuous year for Jer (and the rest of us, for that matter).  I asked him if he felt old now that he was just one year away from thirty.  "Only in my left leg," he said. 

I hope twenty-nine is a little more sedate; he royally deserves it. 


Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Which A Lot Of Things Happen

Well, we've had an eventful couple of days.

First I have to explain this picture.  Yesterday morning Connor and I were looking at pictures of relatives online before it was time for school.  I pulled up a picture of Jeremy's brother, who is an eyebrow ring-wearing, Mohawk-sporting Nuclear Engineer currently working on his PhD in Michigan.  Connor took one look at his uncle's latest picture and got all excited.

"Hair!  Hair!  Want hair!  WANT HAIR!!!" he signed.

I wasn't about to cut the kid's gorgeous hair.  But if the little guy gets psyched enough about something that he'll actually communicate about it, it's really, really hard to say no to him.  And I did happen to have some hair pomade . . .

He loved it.

Seriously, I parked his wheelchair in front of our full-length mirror in the library as I was getting his stuff ready to go for school, and he spent the whole time admiring himself, signing "hair!" and gently touching it.  I put him in his new rocker t-shirt for added effect, and off to school he went.

So while he spent the morning watching a circus performance put on by some of the older children, I was getting our things together for our overnight trip.  Jer and I pooled our respite care for the month and so Joanna was arriving to watch Connor for us that night, and we were taking off for a lovely B&B on the mountain.  We would be spending all of the following day there, and would return to the house in the evening.  It would be the first overnight trip we'd taken with just the two of us in over nine months, which is way, way too long.  I had just confirmed our reservations and was sitting down to write an early blog when I got a phone call from the school.

Connor was having a seizure.

Apparently he was in the middle of eating when he slumped over and the seizure started.  This one was a pretty short one, and while he did stop breathing it was only for a few seconds and they didn't have to do mouth-to-mouth, but it's never a good thing when he has one of these.  By the time I got there he was okay again; I sent the paramedics away and took Connor home.  He went down for his usual post-seizure nap.

Jer and I talked about it.  I called and canceled our reservations. 

Okay and honestly, I cried about it just a little bit, because hey, I'd been looking forward to this trip for weeks, and I was so excited about getting away with Jeremy out of the city and spending some serious time together exploring a new place.  But the bed and breakfast was over an hour and a half away, and we'd be traveling through some of that area with no cell phone reception.  Though we knew Joanna was more than competent enough to take care of him, we just couldn't justify being that far away when he was at risk for more seizures-- especially in an area where we'd potentially be difficult to contact.

I called Joanna, and she said that she was still comfortable watching him.  We knew that we really needed this trip to recharge our batteries.  So we decided that maybe we could salvage our trip-- we would see if we could find something a little closer to home.  I called every B&B in Tacoma, and then started in on Seattle.  We were a scant four hours from the time when Joanna would be arriving, and I was beginning to think I needed to start in on the Motel 6s, when I caught a lucky break.  Somebody at the Greenlake Guesthouse in Seattle had to cancel their trip because of that volcano with the unpronounceable name, so they had a vacancy.  Not only would they let us stay for just one night, but they'd let us check in late as well.  I booked it immediately.

So because I was all frazzled and needed some time out of the house, Jeremy, who has earned his sainthood many times over by this point, hung out with the boy while I drove out for a shopping trip and lunch with a friend.  Then I came back home, we ran around and finished packing, Joanna showed up and we were off.

It wasn't the trip I thought we were taking.  But you know what?  We had a great time.

The B&B was amazing-- it's a beautiful Craftsman style place, our bed was comfy, the owners are really nice, and they served an unbelievably delicious breakfast (ginger-coconut seasoned fruit and avocado-tomato-cheese omelets with sour cream and mango salsa and whole wheat toast and sausage and juice and tea or coffee: can you say yum?).  Also they have an adorable beagle who likes to be scratched behind the ears.  If you're ever in Seattle I highly recommend it, though those of you with mobility issues need to be aware that the house does have a number of stairs and isn't wheelchair friendly. 

So we spent a lovely night there, checked out in the morning after the aforementioned deliciously scrumptious breakfast, and then went for a pleasant but rather windy walk along the lake shore.  Then we drove around the area looking at all the beautiful Craftsman style homes.  A trip to Uwajimaya-- the huge Asian grocery store in the middle of the International District-- was next, where I bought myself a Thai cookbook.  After that we drove down to the Museum of Flight and checked out some of the neat exhibits.

We drove back into downtown, parked at the Convention Center, and ate at a deli in the area before settling down (of course) with a book or two at a coffee shop.  We spent the afternoon reading and sipping on tea and coffee, respectively.  Finally we headed home, where Jer left for a work out at the YMCA and I hopped in the van to go retrieve Connor, who had been out and about with Joanna and her husband Jake, and was ending the day in Tacoma.

He apparently slept well and then had a great (seizure-free) day; he especially enjoyed playing with Joanna's Newfoundland, who apparently liked to lick his toes.  He crashed as soon as we got home, so evidently he played pretty hard.  Not only did Connor have a really good time, but Joanna and Jake even cleaned our house while we were gone!  I seriously have no idea how we got so lucky on the respite care front. 

So Jer and I got to take our much needed trip, and while it wasn't anything like what we'd originally planned, it was still a major stress reliever and I'm glad that we went.  I don't think we'll let another nine months go by before we do it again! 

Anyway, that's why I didn't blog yesterday.  Sorry.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

In Which I Think About My Illustrious Career

I sort of consider managing Connor's care to be my job.  I would totally put it on a resume, but I'm not sure what job title I would put down, as it sort of depends on how belligerent I'm having to be over the phone.  Secretary?  Advocate?  Brute Squad?  Any one of those could apply on any given day.

This morning I was mostly filling the secretary roll.  First I called the hospital on post and made a few more appointments for Connor.  Then I called the oxygen company and arranged for them to deliver a portable oxygen tank to Connor's school, as they'd like to have one on hand.  The equipment delivery service didn't have a copy of Connor's orders, so I called the school and had them fax one over.  Next I called the neurologist's office because I hadn't heard back from them yet.  The nurse e-mailed the doctor, and he got back to me and upped Connor's medication.  He also wanted me to make an appointment, though, so I called the appointment line for THAT hospital, made an appointment for June, and then got on the waiting list for May just in case something opens up sooner.  Then I ran out to the store for some Benadryl to drop off at the school for Connor's medical kit.  Then it was time to pick Connor up from class.

I mean, these are useful job skills here.  I'm learning patience, the ability to withstand up to forty minutes of on-hold music at a time, and that when being nice and having people skills fails, calling someone eight billion times will usually make them do something to get you to shut up and go away (I tend to use that strategy as a last resort as I find it about as pleasant as the person on the other end of the line).  I think that as a general rule, parenthood is a vastly overlooked training ground for valuable job skills, and it should receive much more weight as a job description than it does.  I mean, think about it: you're totally, completely responsible for one or possibly more human beings who are constantly watching you and who are storing away your every mistake as possible fodder for therapy later on.  You get virtually no vacation time, frequently deal with hazerdous materials, and are constantly on call.  Talk about working under pressure!  Surely that should count for some major points there.  Of course the perks are pretty good too, but that's beside the point.

Not that I'm looking to get a job any time soon.  I'm perfectly happy staying home with Connor, thank-you-very-much.  But it's interesting to think about, since I now have a four year gap in my working time and it will no doubt be several years more until I think about rejoining the work force.

Maybe the Brute Squad will be hiring.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Which Connor Goes To The Cardiologist

Connor had his four year cardiology appointment this morning.  He has an extremely rare heart defect called Left Ventricular Noncompaction Syndrome, and so he has appointments every six months to check and see how things look in there.  We also usually go in before trips where we'll be out of state for over a week, or before major medical procedures.  So we drove down to the on-post hospital to see how he's doing.

The doctor always does a cardiac ECHO on his heart to check the function.  Connor thinks the sonogram wand tickles, so he grinned and giggled through the whole thing.  Then we went upstairs and got an EKG done, which the little guy was very calm and patient through.  He's had this sort of thing done so many times that as long as you aren't rubbing alcohol pads on him or tying a rubber tourniquet somewhere (he knows what both of those mean) he won't get upset at all.

Things look great!  Connor's heart is functioning at a normal level and his doctor said he looks very stable.  Those are always great words to hear.  Unfortunately we also found out that our doctor (who is fantastic) is retiring very soon.  So by the time Connor needs to come in again, he'll have a new doctor. 

This is a problem we're starting to run into with Connor's doctors and specialists.  The doctors in the army, just like nearly everyone else in the service, are moved from post to post every few years.  Most of the time this isn't a problem because their patients are also moving from place to place.  However, because Connor has so many medical issues, we are pretty much settled since there are so few posts that have all the specialists and resources he needs.  We've been in the Pacific Northwest long enough now that Connor's doctors are moving on.

Our cardiologist wasn't really excited about the idea of us being assigned to a doctor he didn't know since Connor is such an unusual case.  So he is referring us to a civilian doctor he knows well and trusts who works at a local clinic.  This has already happened with a couple of Connor's other specialists.  Very slowly our care is transitioning to the surrounding community rather than the military. 

This poses some interesting logistical problems.  For example; the pharmacy at the military hospital dispenses Connor's medications at no cost to us.  However, the prescriptions for these medications must be written out by a doctor who works at the military hospital.  So if Connor's neurologist (who is in a civilian hospital) prescribes us a medication and I don't want to pay for it out of pocket, I have to have Connor's pediatrician (who is at the military hospital) represcribe it.  Orders for some other referrals and equipment have to be done the same way.  What this means is that while we can go to the civilian hospitals for specialists, our primary care manager must always be at the military hospital. 

So it's a little more work for me, but the continuity of care is totally worth it.  And I'm so glad Connor is doing well!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In Which Everyone Has A Birthday, And I Get Jer A Present

April is like second Christmas around here. 

There are a ridiculous number of people in my family that have birthdays in April.  There are nine family members that have April birthdays, including Connor and Jeremy. 

I ordered Jeremy's birthday present today.  He already knows what it is as he picked it out, so I feel perfectly fine in sharing it with you.  He's getting a new espresso machine.  A really, really nice espresso machine.

I wasn't about to try and select one of these for him, as I know next to nothing about coffee and he's really particular about the equipment he uses.  Jeremy is just slightly into coffee, and when I say "just slightly," I mean that not only does he roast and grind his own beans (usually setting off the fire alarm in the process), but when he deployed he had his espresso machine shipped to Afghanistan and once a month I'd ship him unroasted beans so that he could continue to make high quality lattes in the middle of the desert. 

I'm sad to say that 120 degree temperatures do not do good things to espresso machines.  Nor does the Afghanistan sand, which the guys call "moon dust," that gets into anything and everything over there.  The last straw was when the poor, much-maligned espresso machine was shipped back from Afghanistan in a cardboard box with no padding.  As a result Jeremy now has to use a wrench to turn the steamer on, and I believe some portions of the machine itself are currently held together with duct tape. 

So I informed him a while back that he'd be getting a new espresso machine for his birthday, and he's spent the last few weeks doing research to figure out exactly what model he wanted.  The one he picked out is about one step below a commercial machine-- it is for serious coffee drinkers.  The good news is it will pay for itself after about six months of Jer making his own Venti Caramel Macchiatos.  It should come in a week or so and he's pretty excited about it.  I'm sure he'll be cranking it up straight out of the box.

Expect to hear more about fire alarms in the near future.


Monday, April 19, 2010

In Which We Go To The Rainforest

Connor seemed to be feeling just fine this morning, so we took him to school, where he had a great day.  Jer was still feeling very poorly, however, so he spent most of the day at home asleep.  He doesn't get sick very often, so it's unusual that he's feeling bad enough to need to stay home.  I hope he feels a bit better tomorrow.

My parents, Connor and I left Jer at home in bed and drove up to Carbon River area on Mount Rainier.  It's pretty amazing up there; while the other side of Mount Rainier-- the side with the glaciers and wildflowers-- is the more popular side, Jer and I have never been there because we're so enchanted with Carbon River that we never manage to make it the rest of the way.  Due to large amounts of rainfall and mild temperatures, the whole area is a temperate rainforest.  This isn't what you'd typically think of when you hear the word rainforest; there are no monkeys or parrots here; instead you'll find towering, moss covered trees, ferns of every variety from finger-sized to waist-high, trailing wreaths of fog, and a creeping green haze over everything.  It's like stepping back in time.  One walks around half-expecting dinosaurs (or vampires or Ewoks, depending on your tastes) to step out from behind one of the massive cedars at any moment.  We walked the loop trail out there taking pictures of all the glorious vegetation, and then ate a little picnic lunch and spent another half an hour or so tooling around some of the tiny towns on the road up, checking out all the neat old downtown areas and the picturesque houses. 

It was a great afternoon, though towards the end Connor started getting a little antsy.  He's not used to taking trips like that on school days as we usually save them for the weekends, so he wasn't quite sure what to make of the change in routine.  But he did very well overall, and he went down easily for bed shortly after we returned home, with no fuss and better yet, no nausea.  Either he wasn't sick at all and was just having a bit of a sensory day yesterday, or that was about the shortest illness he's ever had. 

I love having such wonderful green spaces within forty-five minutes of my house; we can live in the suburbs and yet have easy access to both the big city and some really wild country! 


My monthly article is up over at Hopeful Parents.  I'll have another blog post here later today!


Hopeful Parents

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In Which Connor Feels Under The Weather

Jeremy's been feeling a little poorly for the last couple of days; we originally thought it was something he ate, but changed our minds and concluded it might be a stomach bug when Connor started getting progressively crabbier this afternoon.  By evening the little guy was throwing most of his food up, and he went to bed super early.  So we'll have to see how he feels tomorrow, but the odds are pretty good he's getting sick.  Hopefully my parents won't catch it before they leave-- it's always miserable to be sick on a plane (not to mention the fact that you're "sharing" with all of the other passengers) but it's particularly miserable to be sick with a stomach bug on a plane.  Particularly if there's turbulence.

Everybody other than Connor and Jer had a pretty good day, though.  It was absolutely beautiful outside, and we got a ton of yard work done-- especially since our neighbors (who are awesome) not only offered to take all our yard waste to the landfill for us, but they ripped out a couple of dead bushes for me and, best of all, about fifteen more feet of my ivy!  Then they loaded it all in their truck and hauled it off for us.  Now those are some great neighbors. 

I'm telling you, we live in the best town ever.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Which My Name Is Jess And I'm A Gardenholic

My mom (my parents are currently up for a visit) and I went shopping for a flower pot today.  Big mistake.

See, my mom and I have a problem.  We are garden junkies.  We will spend hours and hours happily tooling around plant nurseries, filling our baskets with unusual specimens that we have no room for in our already stuffed flower beds but determined to squeeze them in anyway.  Since my backyard is pretty large and, other than a large collection of overgrown shrubs is relatively empty, I have completely lost all sense of restraint when it comes to plants, and Mom is my happy enabler.  We spent a good hour this morning planting the remnants of my last frienzed plant buying trip (in which I bought my entire herb garden along with several ornamental plants) and had an azalea left over that we thought would look really good on our deck if it was in a nice ceramic pot.

So in the afternoon Mom and I casually mentioned to Jeremy and my dad that we were popping down to the local Target to buy a single flower pot.  We said we'd be gone about twenty minutes-- half an hour at the most.  The guys would have been completely justified in rolling their eyes at that statement. 

Three hours later we returned home with three flower pots, a small bag of chocolates, a shower curtain liner, a chicken (the dead to-be-cooked kind, not the live squwaking kind) and several large flats of plants.  "I thought you just got finished planting stuff!" my dad said.  Jeremy just shook his head.

But see, we had a totally logical explanation for this.  We didn't see any flower pots we liked at Target, but I did need a shower curtain liner for the guest bathroom so we got that, and then we had to pop into the mall (which the Target is connected to) and grab some chocolate for everybody at the candy store.  I remembered that one of the local grocery stores had some flower pots that looked pretty good a couple of weeks ago, so we got back in the car and drove over there.  So far so good.

We got out of the car, walked up to the front of the store, and this is when things started to go south.  They'd fenced one whole side of the outside of the store and turned it into a garden area.  Green, happy plants just begging to be taken home with us were everywhere.  They'd just gotten a huge shipment of plants in that all looked extremely healthy, and Mom and I were already drooling when we saw that they had a large table of quart-sized perennials on sale for a dollar.

"I'll grab a cart," said Mom.  We were totally lost.

So we got about fifteen different kinds of perennials, with a few annuals thrown in for good measure.  How could we possibly pass up such a good deal?  Of course some of them would look great on the deck, which meant we needed some more flower pots. 

We threw the chicken in the cart on the way to the checkout line inside for good measure.  We had to put it in the bottom, though, because the top was so full of plants.  This might be an indication I have a wee bit of a problem.  But don't worry, I could quit gardening at any time if I wanted to.  I swear.

Like tomorrow, for instance.  We didn't find any potting soil at the grocery or at Target when we went out today, so we're just going to pop down to the local home improvement store really quickly to pick up a single bag.  We won't be gone long; it'll take twenty minutes.

Half an hour at the most.


Friday, April 16, 2010

In Which We Have A Good Day

Connor had a good day today!

The meeting at school this morning was very productive and went well, and Connor had a fantastic day at school, which I'm sure was much appreciated by everybody as we didn't really need any more excitement.  He came home and had his hour of "quiet" time, which he spent happily yodeling to himself at the top of his lungs in his bedroom.  Then we loaded up the car and, along with my parents who are visiting right now, took a trip up to Pike Place Market. 

The market, while busy, wasn't terrible for a sunny Friday afternoon, and we ate lunch there and then had fun killing time by walking around looking at all the vendors, sitting in the park munching on those ridiculously good apple cinnamon rolls from Piroshky Piroshky (seriously, if you ever come to Seattle and you don't try the apple cinnamon rolls from this little bakery than I am very, very sad for you) and just having a good ol' time in general.  Around four in the afternoon we hopped back in the van and drove over to Children's Hospital so that Connor could get his medication levels checked. 

I always do my best to prepare Connor for the fact that he's getting his blood drawn-- making sure to tell him when it's about to happen so he's not surprised, and then telling him what a good job he did and comforting him afterwards.  He likes having his blood drawn about as much as the next four year old, which is to say not at all.  Usually many tears are involved.

Well I did the preparing part, but I didn't have to do the comforting part this time because we had the BEST phlebotomist (the technical term for the blood drawing guy) I have ever seen in my entire life, and believe me I have seen a whole lot of phlebotomists at this point.  Connor is an extremely hard stick because he's had blood drawn so many times, but this guy took a quick look at both Connor's elbows, slapped a quick tourniquet on his left arm, and before the little guy even had the chance to get upset about the tourniquet the needle was in and the two vials needed had already been drawn.  I swear the whole process took forty seconds from start to finish, and Connor didn't cry at all!  It was pretty awesome-- I've had way, way too many trips to the laboratory where the phlebotomist has to stick Connor four or five times, and even when they get him on one stick it usually involves a whole lot of preparation.  This guy just ran a quick finger down the inside of Connor's arm.  So now I know who to ask for the next time we need levels drawn!

We headed back home after that, ate dinner and watched a movie.  It was a good end to an all-in-all good day.  We'll hear back from the neurologist either tomorrow or Monday, and hopefully we'll get the problem solved!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Which Connor Has A Seizure At School

Well, we had another first today.  Connor had a seizure at school.

This has been one of my hope-it-never-happens scenarios for a while (kind of like the one where he seizes while I'm driving), not because I think that the teachers and staff at school can't take care of it, but because it's one of the very few times when Connor might have a seizure and someone other than me or a bunch of trained medical personnel would be the ones handling the situation.  It's hard to tell how people will react in an emergency until one is actually happening, and it's not exactly the sort of thing you want to, you know, test out.

I'm happy to say that Connor's teacher, paraeducators and the rest of the staff did an excellent job-- one person took charge of the other kids and whisked them off to another room, while another called 911 and Connor's teacher performed mouth-to-mouth on the little guy.  I was called immediately and barely beat the paramedics there (we live really, really close, okay?  I swear I was not driving at 800 miles an hour) and by the time I got to the classroom he was breathing on his own again: irritable and nauseous, but otherwise fine.  Apparently the whole seizure only lasted about a minute, which was probably more than long enough for everyone involved.  Since the seizure was over and he was doing okay I took him home, where he napped for the next four hours and then woke up laughing, smiling and ready to play again, with no apparent ill effects.

I called the neurologist again as this is the second seizure Connor has had in the past two months, and so we're going in tomorrow afternoon to get his medication levels checked and to get an idea of how to proceed.  We'll also be meeting with the school staff tomorrow morning to talk about how things went and see if there are any improvements we can make to Connor's emergency action plan.  I'm still thanking my lucky stars we moved to the Puyallup school district-- they have been nothing short of fantastic, and the events of today confirm yet again that the decision we made was the right one. 

This is one of those things that I'd hoped would never happen, but in some ways it's a load off my mind because now I know that Connor's school can handle him having a seizure there rather than just being pretty sure that they could handle one.  So that's a good thing, though I'm sure that the school district and I would both prefer him to not have any more there again (or anywhere else, for that matter). 

So we've reached our excitement quota for the month.  I'm hoping the rest of April is extremely boring.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Which I Talk About Birth Order

I've been doing a ton of research in the past few weeks about older child adoption, and there are some really interesting things out there.  One of the hot debates is about adopting out of birth order.  Since I had someone e-mail me and ask about whether or not we'd thought about this the other day, I thought I'd talk about our reasoning here.

People tend to have relatively strong opinions about this topic, for some reason.  Basically the general idea is that you are supposed to adopt children in the "natural" order they would come in your family-- ie the newest child should always be the youngest.  This is so that the older children don't feel like their spot in the family has been usurped by the newly adopted child.  Some people contend that it's merely important that the eldest child be able to keep their spot, as they will have a more difficult time adjusting than the other kids in the family who are already used to dealing with an older sibling and so will be less upset if they lose their "spot" as second oldest, third oldest, etc. 

But we're going against convention, and adopting a child who is ten months older than the little guy.  And after some soul searching, we concluded that it would actually be more beneficial for Connor to have an older sibling than it would be for us to adopt a younger child.  Let me explain our thinking, here.

Connor is four years old chronologically.  But in terms of motor skills and cognitive development he is much younger-- probably around two years old cognitively and around 6-8 months old in gross and fine motor skills.  Unless we are choosing to adopt a child who has cognitive and physical issues just as profound as the little guy's any kiddo who joins our family is going to pass Connor up pretty quickly in terms of development.  So then we'd have the odd situation where the younger child chronologically would be the older child developmentally.  I would think that situation would be more confusing and irritating to Connor than having a sibling who is older and therefore should be developmentally ahead.

There's also the fact that if we were to adopt a child who was younger, they'd be competing for a lot of the same types of attention as Connor.  For example: Connor doesn't feed himself at all.  If we adopt an infant, I can't feed Connor and a baby at the same time, and so they'll be in competition as to who gets fed first, who gets more time, etc.  But if we're adopting a child who is able to feed herself, than we can sit down at the table together and I can interact with her while feeding Connor.  That way the kids are both getting attention-- it's just different types of attention. 

That's not to say that we're adopting a kid who's older because we think it's going to be easier, or something.  Ah contraire-- we know that the older the child is, the more likely they are to have attachment or trauma-related issues, and so we could potentially be exposing Connor to some behaviors that are not going to be beneficial for him.  But we also think that the benefits of having a sibling outweigh the risks of adopting an older child, and without going into detail here let me just say that we've been careful to choose a child who, while still at risk for those issues, is less at risk than many other children who have also spent time in institutions.  And we'll have a better idea of what Sylvie's personality is like and what challenges we may face than if we were adopting her when she was a baby.  So we'll see how things go.

I don't think there's any right or wrong answer on this one, and in the end it's what's best for the individual families.  Obviously we don't have her home yet, so we'll have to see how things go and whether or not our reasons were good ones!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Which I Feel Like A Cruel Mom But Do Connor's Sensory Work Anyway

With the weather heating up and the sky blue, Connor and I have been spending quite a bit of time outside.  This means that he's been introduced to his arch nemesis.

Our lawn.

Connor hates grass.  He doesn't care about how it looks, or smells, or anything like that.  He hates the way it feels.  We don't have spiky Bermuda grass or anything in our yard-- we have Kentucky Bluegrass, which is about as soft as you can get.  Connor disagrees with me on this one.  He has sensory issues which make him extremely protective of his feet, and thus believes it is about on par with broken glass.

So what do I do?  I torture the kid, of course.  I was doing some work outside yesterday and, since it was time for Connor to do some sensory therapy, plopped the kid down (sans socks) in his lawn chair next to me on the grass.  For the first five minutes or so Connor sat with his feet splayed out as far up in the air and away from the grass as he could get them.  When he absolutely couldn't hold them up anymore, they eased down into the grass, where he tolerated them being for about ten seconds.  Then he began emitting a high-pitched whine, which quickly escalated until he was screaming like I was attempting to kill him.  The dogs all down the block started barking. 

My response, which may seem counterintuitive, was to reach over and gently but firmly press his feet down into the grass.  Connor calmed down almost immediately.  Deep pressure he can handle; he actually enjoys it most of the time.  It's the light pressure-- like when his feet are barely touching the tops of the grass-- that he can't stand.  I kept my hands on his feet for about thirty seconds, until he had calmed totally down, and then went back to gardening.  Connor kept his feet down for another five seconds or so, and then jerked them back up into the air as high as they would go.  We repeated the cycle probably about five or six times before he dissolved into tears and I put a soft blanket under his feet.

I always feel like a really mean person doing this sort of thing, but it's an important part of his sensory therapy.  Repeated exposure to textures that are just outside his comfort zone slowly desensitizes him to them, and he's come a long, long way over the past few years.  I always explain to him why we're touching whatever it is that we're touching, I always touch whatever it is with him, I don't surprise him with the textures, and I always praise him both during the therapy and afterwards.  But just because I know that it's good for him to be pushed like that doesn't mean that I don't like a horrible mom while I'm doing it-- especially when he cries, since he's such a laid back kid. 

I guess moms just have to be mean sometimes.  But I don't have to like it.



Monday, April 12, 2010

In Which Our Cats Are Crazy

I've been planting out my backyard garden, which has been lovely.  I always enjoy putting green things in the ground, and I feel like I'm really accomplishing something.  I've spent the last couple of days putting in my herb garden-- something that's pretty important for us given the amount of cooking that we do.  The weather has been sunny and warm, and it's been so nice to get outside.

Apparently Loki thinks being outside is a great idea, too.  He's been taking every opportunity to dash out whatever door is available.  Since Loki and Cricket are indoor-only cats, I'm not really enamored with this new habit of his.  So I now have a spray bottle posted just outside each of our exterior doors, and I end up cracking open the door and peering inside, finger on the trigger, whenever I come back from a grocery run.  Loki has yet to get the idea, but I'm hoping that repeatedly getting sprayed in the nose when he charges the door will eventually make him stop.  Wish me luck.

Cricket has no desire to explore the great wide outdoors, but she has left little kitty nose marks all over my highest windows.  When she sits in the right hand window near our fireplace (about twelve feet up in the air), she can get down herself with no problems.  When she sits in the left hand one she apparently loses all ability to get herself down and meows pitifully until I climb up on a window seat and rescue her.

Crazy cats.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

In Which Adoption Makes Me Dust Off Some Old Feelings

I've come to a realization about myself over the past few weeks.  All along I've been secretly in love with the idea of having a little girl. 

I didn't even suspect that I wanted a girl; when Jeremy and I got married I knew that the odds were in favor for us having a boy, as Jeremy comes from a long, long line of all boys.  Sure enough, we had a boy, and with Connor's birth and the subsequent discoveries we made about his genetic condition I knew that the likelihood of us having a girl was now close to nil.  Connor would either be an only child or we would be adopting-- and since we didn't have a preference as to whether or not we adopted a boy or a girl, it was extremely likely that we would end up adopting a boy.  Between 70% - 90% of families who are adopting request girls, and in many countries (China being the notable exception) the number of boys waiting far outnumber the girls.  I was happy with the idea of having another boy.  I like boys.

Yet somehow the child who seemed the best fit for our family ended up being a girl.  And while I'm trying to keep myself from becoming overly excited as, after all, she's not ours yet, I'm finding myself rapidly losing the battle.  From out of the corners of my closets I'm pulling out carefully tucked away toys that I'd saved from my childhood just in case: a large box full of my old paper dolls, a little wooden doll's bed with clothespins for bed posts, delicate embroidered pillow cases and linens.  I've suddenly noticed that the extensive independent reader and young adult book collection I've acquired over the years is composed less of books like Captain Underpants and much, much more of books like A Little Princess.  "Plucky young girl has adventures and ultimately saves the day" seems to be the general theme I've gone for.

I was such a tomboy-- I spent most of my childhood barefoot with holes ripped in my pants at the knees, climbing the tallest trees in the neighborhood and playing soccer and football with the boys on the playground.  Why is it that I'm now drawn like a magnet to all of the frilly little girl dresses, hair bows and tights and patent leather shoes that I wouldn't have been caught dead in as a kid?  I feel a little bit like I did the first four months of my pregnancy-- those innocent, naive, giddy months before we got the devastating (at the time) news about Connor.

Perhaps most telling is how I find myself slowing way, way down in the toy aisles of the local stores when I'm passing the section with the play kitchens.  I find myself fingering the "mother daughter" apron sets and dreaming about our little girl standing next to me while I work in the kitchen, chopping little Velcroed-together vegetables while I chop real ones on the counter above.  Why have I never had this fantasy about me and Connor working in the kitchen together?  Is it because he's a boy?  Have I really bought that heavily into gender stereotypes?  Or have I not been thinking about this because I knew it was such an unrealistic expectation for Connor, given his developmental delays, and I knew I'd be setting myself up for disappointment?

That, instead of the having-a-girl thing, may actually be the underlying issue here.  I'm fully aware of the fact that this adoption-- the adoption of an older child with special needs-- is not going to be a walk in the park.  But according to the orphanage, other than her language delays Sylvie is developmentally on track, so the idea of her and me playing "kitchen" together is not out of the realm of possibility. 

For the first time in the past four years I'm letting myself think about what it would be like to have a child we can do the sorts of things with that typical parents do with their typical children, and I think my brain is just going a little overboard as a result.  I remember so many fun things that I participated in with my parents when I was a kid; things that I expected to be able to do with my children and which I put up on a corner shelf in my figurative closet after Connor was born.  I haven't missed them; Connor has brought us so much joy and has enriched our lives in so many incredible ways.  But I think that just like the idea of having a girl, I didn't realize how much I was holding on to the idea of having a child who was able to share in those things until I allowed myself to start thinking about them.

So I'll do my best to reign myself in-- a lot can happen in the next year-- and I'll be preparing myself for meeting the unique challenges that adopting and parenting an older child born in a different country and who currently has no formal language will bring.  And I'll be more than ready to accept and love our daughter for who she is no matter where she falls developmentally.

But I may buy those aprons anyway.  Just in case.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

In Which Connor Has A Grand Ol' Time!

Connor had a blast at the parade today!

He's only been to one other similar event-- the Dragon and Lion dance that happens every February up in Seattle for the Chinese New Year.  But this was his first American style parade, complete with floats, antique cars and multiple marching bands, so we weren't sure quite how he would react. 

He was largely uninterested in the floats, cheerleaders, and clowns, but he loved the fire trucks, police cars, ambulance and all of the music.  Jer and I could hear the bands coming long before Connor could, of course, so we could watch him closely and see the exact second that he realized there was a marching band on the way.  I'm pretty sure he was feeling the vibrations of the drum lines before he could actually hear anything, as I could usually start feeling them about the time he'd start reacting.  His entire body would go stiff for a split second and he'd get very quiet, and then a huge grin would spread across his face and he'd use his sign for "music" (weaving his whole body from side to side).  He'd start clapping shortly thereafter and continue until the entire marching band had passed by.  The lights and sirens of the emergency vehicles got a similar reaction.  The only other non-musical entries in the parade that merited applause in his mind were the horses-- especially the miniature horses, as those are the ones he's ridden. 

We left about halfway through the parade (so sorry Kelly, but we didn't see Amanda-- sure she was great though!), as I was having to hold Connor up to see everything and after an hour my arms were about shot.  Also Jer was reaching the end of the time period he could stand comfortably, and Connor was becoming slightly overwhelmed by the constant excitement.  So we left well before we'd be fighting the crowds and went and grabbed some ice cream as the perfect end to a perfect afternoon!

Of course I forgot to bring my camera to the parade, dang it.  Oh well.


Friday, April 9, 2010

In Which Connor Has A Parade

Tomorrow is the annual Daffodil Parade, which is a major event in the local area-- the parade has over a hundred entries every year and actually travels through four local cities in one day.  Many of the schools in the area participate, including the marching band of our local junior high schools.  They decided to practice for the big event by marching through our neighborhood today, and apparently paraded past our house twice, playing at full volume.  While Jeremy and I missed it, Connor was here with his respite care worker, and when the band passed they dashed outside to watch.

Connor was convinced that they were holding a parade just for him.  He loved it.

Apparently he was really, really into the music-- throwing himself from side to side in Joanna's arms, giggling, and grinning from ear to ear.  The music was loud enough that he could hear it even without his hearing aids in (the first time they came by he had just woken up from a nap and so ended up outside sans both hearing aids and pants) and he was completely enthralled.  The band members seemed to enjoy the enthusiastic audience-- several of them apparently waved to him.

So we'll be attending the Daffodil Parade tomorrow, and we'll be cheering loudest for Connor's marching band!  Perhaps we can convince them to come down our street and give us a performance about once a week from now on, as he enjoyed his private parade so much. 

I'm sure the neighbors won't mind.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

In Which I Have Trouble With Adoption Paperwork Because I Am A Smart Aleck

Connor has been a little sniffly the past couple of days and by late afternoon yesterday was sporting a full-blown cold, so I kept him home today.  By this evening he sounded much better, though, and he was acting like he felt pretty good, so hopefully he'll be able to go to school tomorrow.  Since it was sunny and nice outside he helped me plant out my strawberries (we have four varieties and 125 plants this year).  I'm not expecting big crops this summer, but next summer should be a pretty tasty one.  Here he is all bundled up and in his explorer hat; sunny-but-cool days make for some very strange outfits.

I also spent several hours today answering questions for our adoption home study.  I just finished up the autobiography portion of the study, which is only eight discussion questions long.  This doesn't sound so bad until you realize that question one is divided into parts A through M.  Many of these parts are actually several questions.  My eight-question autobiography is sixteen pages long.  Single spaced.

All of the adoptive parents out there are laughing and shaking their heads at me right now, as I have just begun to skirt the edge of the paperwork that will need to be filled out, signed, mailed to various parts of the country to be notarized, and then if the adoption is drawn out long enough possibly filled out, signed and notarized all over again.  We won't have an adoption file by the time this is done-- we'll have an adoption box, which I may be unable to lift without straining my back.  So it is perhaps premature to be complaining about it, especially since I like writing and answering discussion questions.  My problem is actually not with the number or the length of the questions.  My problem is that I have an overwhelming impulse to spice the whole thing up by writing ridiculous answers. 

Take this question, which is under the Courtship and Marriage/Partnership section:

Give an example of your problem solving process with your partner.

What I wrote was this:

If Jeremy and I have a conflict about something, the first thing we do is make sure that we’re both able to speak about the problem calmly and rationally. So we each have a cooling off activity—I’ll sit with a cup of tea and read or take a long bath, and he may exercise or play a video game. Often times we’ll realize that the argument was over something that wasn’t a big deal and we have no reason to have any further discussion about it. If the issue is still something we need to talk about, we’ll sit next to one another when Connor is in school or down for a nap and work the problem out through calm and rational conversation. Then once we’ve resolved the issue we’ll do something together that we both enjoy, such as taking a walk or going out to eat. We won’t go to bed angry with one another.

Totally appropriate.  Totally boring.  What I really wanted to write was this:

First Jeremy and I attempt to solve the problem with large amounts of duct tape.  We might also pretend it doesn't exist for a while in the hope that it might become depressed and lonely and go away.  If this does not work, we may employ screaming, scary masks and jumping out from behind various pieces of furniture in an effort to scare it into leaving.  If the problem proves persistant and unimpressed by our scare tactics, we will then attempt to set it on fire.  Whether or not this results in the resolution of the problem depends on how flammable it is and whether or not it possesses opposable thumbs and is able to call emergency services and/or operate fire extinguishers.  Other problem solving methods involve velociraptors, very small rocks, chain saws and loudly singing multiple rounds of "It's A Small World."  We save nukes as a last resort.

Now I personally think my second answer would be a much better read.  Completely inappropriate, sure, but I like to think that I'd at least make the social worker chuckle as she threw our file into the waste basket and called Child Protective Services.  I do actually want to adopt a child at the end of all of this, though (as well as keep the one I already have), and so I'd probably better rein myself in and stick with the serious answers, even if I don't get to mention anything about velociraptors. 

Dang it.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In Which Connor Gets A Hair Cut And Narrowly Misses Lopping Off Several Important Body Parts

Today I took Connor for a badly needed haircut.  Not only could the child not see any more due to the bangs hanging completely over his eyes, but I was once again getting compliments on "what a beautiful little girl" I have.  So it was way, way past time for me to take him in.

Yes, I take my four year old to the hair salon.  I do this for two reasons.  The first is that Connor has a tendency to jerk all over the place when you are attempting to cut his hair with scissors, and I like him with ears, nose and/or eyeballs intact.  The second reason is that while I could buzz all his hair at home and be done with it, I like his hair and I don't want it that short.  Also he has kind of a wonky shaped head.

So it was off to the hair salon, where the long-suffering and extremely patient stylist spent half an hour giving him a hair cut as I sang the ABC song 8,000 times and tried to prevent him from jerking his head around at inopportune moments.  We had several close calls.  I left her a very large tip-- the poor woman earned every penny of it, and if the hair cut isn't exactly even, well, trust me when I say that under the circumstances she did an extremely good job and the fact that he didn't emerge bleeding is nothing short of a miracle.  If I'd been the one with the scissors we would have been on our way to the emergency room with whatever it was that needed to be reattached packed in ice.

So there he is sporting his new 'do-- and looking much older, which always seems to happen whenever someone cuts his hair.  Here's a "before" picture (taken yesterday) for comparison.  See what I mean?  I have no idea why this is, but it just seems to work that way.  Oh well.

That's my big boy!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In Which We Get The Ball Rolling

So our initial adoption application has been accepted, we've been assigned a social worker, and we're on our way!  And, of course, the first thing we have to do is fill out this fourteen page packet where we answer approximately eight billion questions which are meant to get us really thinking about issues we may run into while parenting an adoptive child.  None of them, I am sad to say, are multiple choice.  This is our opening teaser to the sheer mountain of paperwork we will have accumulated by the time we are finished with this process.  We'll slog through all of it, I'm sure, though I may be a bit tired of writing by the end of things.  Expect short blog posts when we're in the thick of the process.  Or long whiny ones-- one of the two.

Anyway, thanks for all of the well wishes as we start our adoption journey, folks!  I'll do my best to answer the questions you've asked so far about Sylvie while respecting the fact that she's not "ours" yet. 

We don't know whether or not Sylvie has been fitted with hearing aids yet, but my guess, since it's not mentioned in any of her files and she is also totally non-verbal, would be "no."  We're not sure of the extent of her hearing loss, either, but based once again on the fact that she's totally non-verbal I would guess that it's relatively profound.  What technology we might consider for her, be it hearing aids, bone conduction aids, cochlear implants, etc would be contingent on what kind of hearing loss she has (we don't know), how severe it is (ditto) and how she is developing.  We're huge proponents of total communication around here (feeling with our current non-verbal child that ANY communication is good communication), and though we don't know anything for sure yet my guess is that a kid who's not talking at all and is being fitted for a hearing device at five or six years old is probably not going to be a great candidate for an oral program.  So we'll just have to see how she's doing.  I'm now pretty close to fluent in Signed Exact English and Jeremy is in advanced classes, so we'll continue learning.  Hopefully sometime in the next year I'll start ASL classes so I can eventually be fluent in that too.  I believe right now Sylvie is totally dependent on sign language, and that will probably remain her main form of communication.

What sign language it is she's learning we're not exactly sure of either.  This is because the orphanage social worker, when asked about it, claimed that sign language was "universal."  Right.  I'm taking an educated guess and betting that she's learning Thai Sign Language, which is the national sign language over there and is used by the majority of the Deaf community.  It's has its origins in ASL, so hopefully the transition between the two languages will actually be smoother than it probably would be if she was speaking Thai and transitioning to speaking English.  This is pure speculation, though-- she could be learning Pig Latin for all I know. 

That's one of the things about adoption-- you end up with a whole lot of questions you won't have the answers to until you meet the child.  Some of the questions-- things about birth family history, medical history, and background of the child-- these are questions you may never have the answers to.  We're going to have to take a lot of things on faith; though we will get the chance to send our questions over to the orphanage, there's no guarantee we'll get any answers.

Oh well.  It'll give us something to talk about on our breaks from filling out paperwork.


Monday, April 5, 2010

In Which Connor Goes Back To School

Today I bought Jeremy a blender because he's now into making delicious fruit smoothies after he gets home from working out, and our old blender was doing a shoddy job of it.  So he tried the new deluxe model out right away, after first exclaiming over all the bells and whistles on it to Connor.*  I must admit that I had ulterior motives when I went out and got this; usually when Jeremy makes smoothies he makes too much, so I get some too.  A new blender means Jer making more smoothies, which means more extra smoothie for yours truly.  This isn't the first time I've given him a gift like this, either. Our bread machine (a yummy loaf a week!) and the espresso machine (all the steamers I can ask for) are other examples of gifts that keep on giving . . . to me. 

What can I say?  I'm shameless.

Anyway, Connor went back to school today for the first time in a week, as Spring Break is officially over.  He was so excited about it that he started shrieking in the car as we pulled into the parking lot!  I'm happy that he's so enthusiastic about school even if it's pretty overwhelming for him at times; it's nice to know that he's getting such enjoyment out of something so good for him.  Now if only I could get him to feel the same way about his banana oatmeal in the mornings.

I spent most of the day running errands-- I faxed in a whole bunch of papers to the adoption agency, ran to the grocery store, picked up a refill of one of Connor's heart medications and stopped in the bookstore for a sign book on religious signs, which the SEE dictionary covers woefully inadequately.  Next on my list is a book of medical signs, and then I'd like to delve more deeply into educational signs.  At some point in the future we're probably going to have a deaf child who is bringing home homework, and so I figure I'd better get a jumpstart on learning the important signs to help out.  I have a hard enough time explaining concepts in math (not my best subject) without having to stop and look up the words every five minutes. 

So I should start studying up.  Or instead of learning more signs, I could go back to drinking my smoothie and browsing cute little girl's dresses on Etsy.

Decisions, decisions.


*"This blender has sixteen settings, Connor; it goes all the way from tickle to death!"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

In Which We Share Some Exciting News

Happy Easter, everyone!

Since today is a day of renewal and new beginnings, we thought it appropriate to share our exciting news with you today.  Connor is going to be a little brother!  We've officially started the adoption process, and we're working towards adopting a waiting child in Thailand.

She's a four year old little girl who is deaf, and she's in an orphanage near Bangkok.  To respect her privacy I won't be posting any pictures or specifics on her until we (hopefully) are able to complete the adoption process and bring her home.  While we'll be keeping her Thai name, we've chosen an American name as well: Sylvia (Sylvie as a nickname), that I'll be using on the blog and that she could choose to use later if she wants. 

It will take between nine and eighteen months to complete the adoption process, so Sylvie will be five or six by the time we are traveling to get her.  We're really excited about adding to our family and I'm already having to physically restrain myself from buying every cute little girl thing in the stores, which is probably not a good sign as I have just a few months to get through before we'll need anything for her.   

A lot could happen in that time period; we don't have an official referral for her yet so there's no guarantee that we'll be able to adopt her.  But we're hopeful that things will go smoothly and by this time next year we'll have an adorable girl in an Easter gown seated next to Connor and kicking her little legs under the church pew as she learns what this holiday is all about.

So again I hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter.  Here's to new beginnings!


Saturday, April 3, 2010

In Which Connor Gets His New Bed!

Connor got his big boy bed today! 
Connor outgrew his crib a while back, and we'd rigged up a solution while we tried to figure out what to do next.  He definitely needed more of a railing than a toddler bed was going to give him, and he needed to be tilted up on the bed, but the only beds we could find that did everything we needed them to and would be covered by our insurance looked like giant metal cages.  Enter Bill Hines.

Bill (with Signature Custom Homes) came up with a design, and he has been working on this beautiful (and huge) piece of furniture for weeks.  I swear the man is a genius.  Not only does the bed blend beautifully with Connor's other furniture, but it suits our needs remarkably well.  It's the perfect height for me to slide Connor on and off the bed easily, once we've latched the side he's secure (since he doesn't stand there's no problem with him potentially climbing over) and with the application of a simple cordless drill the entire top third of the bed rises up as high as we need it!  Here I am applying the drill to get the bed ready for Connor sleeping in it tonight-- it looks jerky only because I am a drill novice and wasn't pushing the trigger smoothly.  How cool is that?

All of the wires for Connor's medical equipment feed through the bed so they're not within his reach, and there's extra storage for his supplies underneath.  Perhaps best of all, it does all of this without looking like an oversized crib or a giant animal cage.  And Connor is super, super excited about it-- he absolutely loves it!



Friday, April 2, 2010

In Which We Encounter The Easter Bunny Of Doom

We went to the mall today because we needed cat food and our local Target is located inside the mall.  Our mall has an OfficeMax, too.  It's a very strange mall.

Anyway, all of the handicapped parking spaces outside of Target were taken, so we ended up having to drive around to the other side of the mall to park.  We walked back through the mall towards the Target and there, in the plaza just outside the store entrance, was a long line of mothers waiting to have their children's pictures taken with what was quite possibly the scariest Easter bunny of all time. 

This was no Harvey.  Six feet tall and with a head vastly out of proportion to its body, this bunny apparently exuded some sort of evil aura that children under the age of six could all sense but parents were totally immune to.  It might have been the gigantic teeth this rabbit possessed.  They were at least six inches long.  I tried to take a picture of him but was waved off by the Easter bunny guards, who demand that you pay for said pictures or delete them, even if the bunny does not have any victims children at that particular moment.  I like you all, but I am a cheapskate.  So no pictures for you.

At any rate, we must have walked by this bunny at least three or four times and each time saw the same little tableau being played out on the Easter grass covered stage.  A mom, gritting her teeth in a strained approximation of a smile, was sitting on the cheery white bench and clutching a screaming, hysterical child who was madly windmilling their arms and legs in a desperate effort to escape.  Next to them both squatted the sinister Rabbit of Doom.  The slightest movement on his part would throw the child into new paroxysms of terror.

Connor and I decided NOT to get his picture taken with the Easter bunny.

So we came back home and Daddy brought out an Easter basket he'd brought home a little early for Connor.  Jer and I like those prepackaged Easter baskets because Connor normally doesn't eat any of the candy due to the whole not-chewing thing, which means we get to "help" him with it.  And by "help," I mean eat all of it.  Well, not THIS year!  I decided to see if maybe Connor would be okay with trying a sucker, and he went for it in a big way!  Not only did he repeatedly open his mouth for it, but after just a couple of minutes he actually started lunging for the candy.  He probably worked on it about five minutes-- just long enough to make his drool bright blue-- before deciding he was done and shaking his head "no" when we tried to give him more. 

So he can have all of the suckers now, which is perfectly fine as far as I'm concerned.  It's when he starts developing a taste for Twix bars that I'll be in trouble.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

In Which Connor Turns Four!

Big boy Connor is four today!

This morning we got him up and sang the happy birthday song.  Then he had his breakfast and received his presents!  We believe in instant gratification around here.  After that we asked him what he wanted to do for his special day.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey big boy!  What would you like to do for your birthday?  Do you want to go to the zoo?
Connor: No.
Me: Okay.  How about the aquarium?
Connor: No.  Ball.
Me: Okay, we can play ball.  But what else do you want to do?  Do you want to go to the children's museum?
Connor: No.  Ball.
Me:  Yes, we'll play ball, honey.  But we play ball every day.  How about the--
Connor: NO. BALL.
Me: But--

So we played ball. 

We played A LOT of ball.  We played ball until Connor couldn't sit up by himself any more and fell backwards onto the bed, still demanding more ball playing.  Then we went to the aquarium, which Connor hated every second of as it was very crowded and noisy and there was no playing of ball involved.  While he normally enjoys the aquarium and Thursdays during the daytime are usually a good time to go, we'd forgotten to factor in Spring Break and were thus unprepared for the large numbers of people.  He suffered through it for a good hour or so in relatively good humor and then declared that he was All Done.  Since we were up that way, I popped into Pike Place for a few groceries while Jeremy fed the little guy in the car, and then we were back on the road towards the house.

So we returned home, where Connor took a very long nap, woke up and then demanded more ball.  I rolled my eyes, but since it was, after all, his birthday he and I played another 8,000 rounds or so of his new favorite game.  He especially loves the part where he slings it all the way across the room and I have to scramble after it.  Apparently seeing his mommy scoot along the floor is really funny. 

After working up an appetite, he rejected our offers of chocolate pudding but did request a mango lassi (his favorite drink) which I went out to the local Indian restaurant for and presented him with as an after-dinner treat.  We read one of his new books (because what birthday in this household would be complete without new books?) and the big boy went to bed demanding that the ball playing resume immediately tomorrow.  He is currently still awake.  Whenever I peek in he grins and makes the sign for "ball." 

So disregarding the aquarium visit, it was a good birthday, and I think he really enjoyed himself.  Even if I am now condemned to fishing that darn ball out from under various pieces of furniture forever!

Happy Birthday, Connor!


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