Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
We have a friend "Mo" who lives in California. She's the Mom of good friends from church and, for all intents and purposes, she has adopted us as her own. Within the last week, we have received two care packages from her. The first one was amazing with too many contents to even list. The second one - which came today - included a Build-a-Bear for each girl. Mia's teddy had a "U.S.A." shirt on and spectacles to celebrate both her finalized citizenship and the fact that she gets to wear glasses soon. And Hadley got her own shades along with her teddy since her older sisters were previously given their own pair in an earlier gift barrage.
It's difficult to understand such kindness. So we don't try. Instead, we just use it to blackmail our own parents. We tell tell them things like, "Hey, we don't mean to pressue ya or anything but Mo just sent us another package. Just thought you'd like to know..." It seems to work.
Thank you, Mo! We really don't know how to thank you for your thoughtful gifts and generosity.
So we went to Hyvee. Then to Legends Outdoor Mall. We bought her shoes. She loves shoes. Sneakers, slippers, rain boots, velcro shoes, it doesn't matter. She has a thing for them. At night, she grabs them out of the closet and tries to put them on over her pajama jumper.
Guess we'll have to get Papa back out to build that walk-in closet sooner than I planned.
Friday, October 24, 2008
We'd like to log just some of the things they've done for us over that time.
- installed jambrace reinforcements to all of our doors
- put weather stripping on our upstairs windows
- changed all the hinges on our doors and installed new doorknobs upstairs
- fixed our upstairs bathroom door
- mowed our lawn three times
- added some safety features to our backyard swingset
- installed a hot water spiget
- built a new laundry shelf in the basement
- mounted all of the bookshelves to the wall
- installed a sensor light in the backyard
- fixed our light switch to the basement
- mounted our bathroom towel bars
- fixed the leak on the fridge icemaker
- made 42 trips to Home Depot
- taught Mia how to use a screwdriver
And Butde was no slouch either. She:
- ran approximately 34 loads of laundry
- made a chicken ole
- made 2 different rounds of her famous Mac'n'Cheese
- made flank steak
- the most incredible pulled apart chicken sandwiches
- 2 different rounds of tilipia
- 2 rounds of beef brisket
- a pot roast
- a pork loin
- a chicken and broccolli casserole
- made chicken enchiladas
- made beef and noodles
- made a spanish chorizo soup
- 2 casseroles of Beef and Noodle Au Gratin
- 2 casseroles of ground beef stroganoff
- made 17 Hyvee trips, 12 Henhouse trips, 8 Costco runs
- washed 342 baby bowls, 223 sippy cups, 523 bibs
- cleared at least 35 dishwashers
Most importantly, it was so fun to see how attached our girls grew to them. Now, when Bri, wakes up, she'll first shout, "Daddy!?" Then "Mia. Mia! Mia!" Then "Mama! Mama!" Then...."Appi" (meaning Butde) and "Papa?!? Papa?!" Anyone to pay her some attention.
Our favorite memory will forever be how the girls would rush to the back door whenever Butde and Papa arrived. Their car would pull up, we'd shout "Butde and Papa are here!" and then the girls would race to the door and press their faces up against the storm door.
We love you Butde and Papa. Thank you!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 brought the end to a long paper chasing journey. Finally after 3 years and 2.5 months, I (Elise) was able to bring to a close the adoption of our long awaited daughter Mia. Because I did not travel to China with Dan to get Mia, we had a few extra hoops to jump through to complete our adoption. Had I gone to China, Mia's adoption would have been final and she would have become an American Citizen the minute she walked through US Customs. She later would have been mailed (at no extra cost) a certificate showing that she was a citizen of the United States of America.
However since I did not travel, we had to readopt her within the U.S. with the help of an attorney and file for a certificate of citizenship at a ridiculous fee. Had we not done these final steps then legally in China's eyes she would be ours but in the U.S.' eyes she would not. Therefore if she were to have ever gotten into trouble with the law she could have been deported. Scary stuff. I originally thought these steps would be minor but they of course turned into a lot of paper work, more money and more waiting.
Well Saturday I received a notice in the mail saying that her certificate had been approved and that all we had to do was make an appointment with Homeland Security to go pick it up. Because Mia had such a hard time with us leaving her when Hadley was born, we have gone back to making sure that either Dan or I are with her at all times (even while sleeping) until she is more secure again. So that said, I decided to leave Brianna and Hadley with Butde and Papa and that Mia and I would treck up North together to get her document.
It wasn't until after I got there that it hit me just how glad I was that I had brought her with me.
Afterall this was the office that Dan and I had gone to twice before to get fingerprinted. Both times sitting there wondering and dreaming about what our daughter would look like, how old she would be, what her personality would be like, etc.
This time I got to be the proud mother with the darling little girl that was charming everyone whose path she crossed. The police officer at the security check point was totally smitten with her. He rememered her name after sending us back to the car to put our phone in the car (camera phones are not allowed in the Homeland Security building). He then kept leaving his original post to come stand in the doorway to smile at her.
She also kept drawing the attention of all the other people waiting their turns. Afterall who can't help but smile at a 24 lb girl clutching her blankie, her baby doll, her snack cup and her water bottle while repeatedly saying the name of the one she just dropped. As I sat there waiting to be called it just hit me how special a time this was. How precious just to have some one on one time with her. And how God had answered every one of my hopes and prayers and brought me the most beautiful, loving, smart and kind little girl that I could ever have imagined.
So then the lady called Mia's name. I picked up Mia (baby, blankie, snack cup and all) and walked to the counter. She asked if she had said her name right and I said she had. She handed me a certificate and had me sign it in several places. She then handed me a duplicate copy and had me sign in all the same places. She then said "Here is her ceritificate". She handed it to me and then reached back and handed me a little American flag. It was a simple little flag. Nothing special. I took the flag from her and as I did I started crying. That moment just hit me like a ton of bricks. After all the years of longing and praying for this child, she was ours and nobody could take her away. I wish I could say all these amazing things floated through my head about that flag and all that it meant to me and why it hit me like that. But honestly I don't know what it was about seeing that flag but for whatever reason it is the most special little flag to me. We worked hard to get Mia that little flag and I am not going to let anything happen to it!!!!
Monday, October 20, 2008
We were in a groove. It was a beautiful day. The whole family took our first walk. Leaves were turning. Neighbors were chatty. Good friends brought by a 1/2 gallon of Murray's ice cream. The night before, another friend dropped off a handle of 1554. Butde had prepared a midwestern meal. We had a simple goal: get the girls down, eat ice cream and watch game 7. Everything seemed headed that way; we were on pace. In the bathtub, there was laughing and singing and dancing. "Hadley Who" was downstairs sleeping under the care of Butde.
And then Brianna fell.
On the bathroom tile. Head-first. Her head split open like a melon. There was blood. There were tears. Bri was also crying - and hyperventilating. Mia was confused.
So we decided that I (dad) should take her to our second home -what I call our "vacation rental": Children's Mercy Hospital. For a mere $30 co-pay, you can take your children to this destination resort, complete with Wyland-like depictions of sea creatures on the wall, all the toys a kid could want, and cable. When we were released around 11 PM that night, the hourly rate was down to a mere $7/hr.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
It is striking how connected I am to her emotionally. When she's in a funk, I'm in a funk. When she's happy, I am happy. When she has a rough morning, I'm a bear. I can only imagine how I'll feel when she has her first break-up or gets her first B. (just kidding). Parenting doesn't get easier, does it?
So my prayer over her life is Psalm 139 and there's this particular line that means so much to me. It says simply "When I awake, I am with thee." That's been my prayer for our daughter lately. That, when she awakes, she will know that her God is with her, has always been with her, and forever still.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Normally, Elise is the better gauge. She's always more in tune to issues of temperature. I, of course, can be rather clueless about such things. I really don't realize whether I am hot or cold until Elise asks me. If we're driving together, for example, she'll ask me "Aren't you hot?" And I'll think about it for a while. I'll then observe that the car's heat has been on high and blasting our faces for the past 20 minutes. Then I will casually respond, "Why yes, why yes I am."
So I put it on her. And she liked it.
Then Bri wanted her own diaper. On her head.
So I told Mia to get her one. And she did.
Then I felt left out and asked myself if I too had a cold head.
"Why yes, why yes I do," I said.
Friday, October 10, 2008
We have spoken to some friends in the adoption community and have learned that we are not the first to experience such a setback. It turns out that it's really quite common for adopted children to really struggle when their parents leave them (as we did for two nights in the hospital). It's amazing but the scar of abandonment (and the fear of future rejection) is a powerful demon.
Thanks to the many of you who have asked and prayed. We're grateful and hope that tomorrow conitnues the upward trend.
Raising kids is a physical job. For example, what is it about babies insisting that you stand up while bouncing them? Mia woke up around 5 AM on Saturday morning and (a) insisted that I hold her the entire time and (b) refused to let me sit while doing so. I pleaded with her but she kept saying curtly, "No. No. No." When I tried to sneak a sit, she went bezerk. When I'd stand, she'd sniffle herself back to calm.
But it's not the lifting/bending/tickling that wears you out. It's the emotional energy that's demanded of you. Yesterday, in just one hour's time, we had to worry about (a) whether Hadley had too much rubbing alcohol on her umbilical cord after we had to clean a major blow-out (b) whether Mia had eaten unidentifiable berries from a tree in the backyard and (c) if Bri was going to be okay after falling off the swingset.
That was just in one hour.
And it's not that you're just surviving each incident and then moving on. Oh no. You analyze it for hours/days afterwards. Over and over in your head, you ask things like, "Was it my fault?" or "Could I have been paying better attention?" or "Does Hadley have my feet?"
Which would not be good. My feet are a major concern of many. My brother recently pleaded with me to treat them. He even mailed me some below the counter anti-fungal cream that he swears by. My friends from college still ask, "Deebs, how are your feet doing?"
Like I said, there is no shortage of things to worry over. No doubt - I'm going to become pyscho dad when my girls go to, say, their first prom. I'll freak out about their curfew, the young men that court them, their MENSA score, and whether my girls' heels or pumps disguise the fact that they have their old man's feet.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
- All three girls were given to us on a Sunday. Talk about P.K.'s
- The nurse (Angie) called me out for leaving the room and eating a Big Mac during the epidural. What she didn't know was that I NEEDED to leave the room during that stage. I passed out (or nearly, not sure which) during Bri's epidural.
- Bri's Labor: 26 hours Hadley's Labor: 9 hours Mia's Labor: 2 1/2 years
- Hadley: all it took was 3 pushes. Barely.
- Hadley had a knotted umbilical cord. Looks like we have a little Shawn Johnson on our hands.
- Shawnee Mission Medical's cafeteria food kills over Menorah's.
- Their "man cots" are far superior as well.
- My first bonehead dad move in Hadley's lifetime:
We decided to put Hadley in the hospital nursery at night in-between feedings so that we could get some sleep - thinking that it might be the last time we will be able to in about 8 years. Somehow, however, in the middle of the night, Elise changed her mind and asked to keep Hadley. This was not discussed and I - in my sleep inebriated way - was a bit fuzzy on how it went down. Then Elise woke me up around 4 AM (I think) and said, "Could you check Hadley's diaper?" To which I tersely replied: "Why is she not in the nursery?"
Not my finest hour.
But man, talk about the difference between a mother's heart and a father's heart. Given the choice, a Dad will always opt for sleep. But my wife? What's sleep when you can be with your baby...at all hours?
I married up.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I found your blankie at the bridge
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
So needless to say, our re-entry has been less than smooth. The girls have actually demonstrated great intrigue in Hadley and will frequently go over to her bouncy, cautiously point and say, "Baby! Baby!" But it's clear that the events of the last 2 days have been traumatic on them (Mia especially). And, in truth, Elise and I weren't prepared for the intensity of it all and are pretty overwhelmed.
When Papa and I took Mia to the hospital this morning, Brianna woke up back at the house soon after and was greatly alarmed to not find her sister lying in the crib beside her. This, of course, had never happened before and so understandably Bri was disallusioned by the whole thing. And, Butde (my Mom) will tell you that the whole morning she seemed sad - pointing to pictures of Elise and saying "Mama! Mama!" and also citing Mia's name as she walked about the house.
Meanwhile...on our way home from the hospital, Mia fell asleep and, since she never makes the transition from car seat to crib very well AND because she desperately needed sleep, Papa offerred to just stay with Mia in the mini-van in our driveway while I went and spent time with Bri inside. As I came through the door, Bri bounded around the kitchen corner. She stopped looked at me, then BEHIND me, then back at me. And she said, "Mia?"
"No, sweetie," I replied. "Mia's not here yet."
"Mia?" she continued.
"No, not yet, honey."
"Mia?" she insisted.
As I began to object a third time, Brianna marched to the back door and began to chant her sister's name - over and over and over - in protest.
Oh man. Talk about melting a daddy's heart. Until just the day before, I had never heard her say her sister's name so clearly. These two girls are such good friends. They hug each other, they get the other's blanket when in meltdown, and they even have their own language. For example, blankie is "ahh gee gee"...Mia's name for Bri is "Ta Ta"...and they both call me "Maestro". It's strange, but our pediatrician says they'll grow out of it.
Hadley is doing awesome - we've just been discharged. Brianna is bouncing around the house, happy as can be. But Mia is not doing so hot. She appears to have reverted back to the early days of when we first brought her home - clingy, cranky, uncertain.
I had to rush home early this morning and take her to Children's Mercy Urgent Care because she was experiencing severe abdominal pain again. All tests were inconclusive but we're going to meet with a gastrointestinal specialist next to see if we can get to the bottom of it.
But, in the least, she's experiencing the perfect storm - her parents are gone, lots of new faces are around the house, she's getting over a rough virus (104 temp/rash/etc), has a loss of appetite, and is extremely exhausted. So we're eager to get home and bring some normalcy and routine back into her sweet world.
We'll write more at a later date but please pray for her especially and for Hadley's introduction to her big sisters.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
So, to get ready, Butde has been - among many other things - freezing meals and Papa has enlisted his own corp of engineers on some long-needed house projects.