"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1 Month Together

Yesterday marked our 1 Month Famiversary. Today, we have our first post-placement visit with our social worker (then again at 3 months and 6 months). I'm actually excited for our social worker to visit. For starters, she is great. I also have a list of questions for her about adoption adjustment, and just parenting in general...let's face it, I have no idea what I'm doing 85% of the time, though I've managed to figure out a thing or two this last month. 

This last month has brought a change in sleeping patterns, a change in when we leave the house (never), a change in how we spend our evenings together, a change in the stuff that decorates our house (I'm staring at plastic toys that play crazy music all littering my floor). This last month has also brought a sense of contentment. Don't get me wrong, we still have moments of exhaustion, there are thoughts of how nice it would be to just run an errand and not have to pack up for any possible emergency, there are moments where it would be nice to just head on over to the movie theater, but then you look at Cupcake's mischievous smile and are reminded of the new purpose of our family. We have been blessed beyond measure, and we know it. I know from blog and book reading that attachment and bonding could be 2 million x harder than it has been so far, and I did my best to prepare myself mentally for the harder version (which is possibly why I read into every interaction that Cupcake has with us). 

We have been changed in ways that I could not have possibly imagined in the last month, as well. For example, I vacuumed the living room at 8am, and already had a load of laundry going. Normally, I would either have been at work or still sleeping at 8am if I didn't have to work. Also, I have NEVER been a morning person. My mom still reminds me how awful it was to wake me up in the morning. K doesn't complain if he needs to wake me up, because I think he likes to be married to me, and so he knows better than to complain about it (even though I've been known to snap when waking up, and my normal line when he says, "Good morning," is "What's so good about it?" I do become a kinder version within a few minutes of waking, but it takes me a little time to adjust and reset my mood. I don't know why. My father wakes up between 5 and 6am, my mom considers 8am sleeping in...I just like the night hours (I am most productive in the evening hours). Wow, that was quite a tangent there. My point was, prior to Cupcake and her schedule dictating how the house is run, I perform chores in the morning when that NEVER happened prior to her. Her daddy is a bit of a work-a-holic. It could have been worse, but he was the type of person to go to work early and leave late. Sometimes, he would come home, have dinner, chat with me for a bit, and then do a little work from home. He has only been back to work for a couple of weeks, but he goes into work at a more "on-time" rate than early, and he comes home earlier than he had previously. These are just a couple of the ways Cupcake has altered our lives, and probably all for the better. 

Thanks for following our journey! Just a quick reminder that there is still time to donate to Breley's fund using the button on the top, right corner (c'mon, you knew I was going to mention it). I am $15 away from my goal. FOVC and 'Ask 5 for 5' (both drought relief) are also still in the fundraising game if you are willing and able.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Who Doesn't Love a Good Baby Shower and a Great Cause?

You don't even have to play that really disgusting game of "guess the melted candy bar in the diaper!" Your face just scrunched up in 'yuck' if you know what I am talking about. The link says that I'm uptight, because I don't like the game. I really don't envision that to be true, but I have a dog and now an 11 month old, and I just don't need to sniff poo, even if it is fake. :) (my apologies to anyone who does enjoy this game. If you have a shower that I am attending, and this is on the docket...I will play, I will smile, I will not say bad things about you or the hostess, but I will roll my eyes in the car on the way home.)

So, a fellow-adopting family is being thrown a "virtual baby shower" HERE
. They aren't asking for gifts, just donations to a wonderful, grass roots organization called Families of Vulnerable Children. You can read more about them, HERE. I had posted previously about the 'Ask 5 for 5', and that is still going on (and I found 5 people to donate $5 or more, yippeee!). The cool think about FOVC is that the region they concentrate on is in Southern Ethiopia (where Cupcake is from). It is also where Captain Murdock's 2 Ethiopian sweeties are from. FOVC is a smaller organization, and they are the only organization providing both famine relief (as well as the awesome preventative work that they do). Side note: Captain Murdock's family adopted sweet little Taz about a year ago, and are headed back to Ethiopia in October for court to adopt Taz's brother! I think it would be awesome to send them on their way with the knowledge that they were able to give back to the people of the beautiful region of 2 of their sons. 

If that isn't enough to motivate you...they have prizes available! First prize is an FOVC t-shirt, pictured below. You need to head on over to the Virtual Shower to see the others!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hide Your Wallet, Or Not...Whatever

Normally, I would consider myself someone that doesn't really like to discuss $, and I especially don't like to ask for it. I guess I've changed, or the internets makes it easier to just put your heart out there and see what happens. Plus, the entire adoption experience took me so far out of my 'comfort zone' that my boundaries have definitely been stretched. Also, it helps that the money isn't for my handbag addiction.

There are 2 causes on my heart. First, there is a drought in East Africa. It is literally killing people. I get sick to my stomach when I read the stories and see the photos. We don't want our daughter to be the poster child for starving children, but it is nearly impossible to see photos of these families and children starving to death and not see that it could have been her future. We were already aware that her first mother made a life-saving decision for her, and the drought truly hits that home. It is impossible to look at the photos, see the 'statistics' and read the heartbreaking stories without wondering about Cupcake's first relatives. 

"When a poor person dies of hunger it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed." --Mother Teresa

There is an extremely easy way to help those suffering in the drought. It is Ask5 for 5. All that is needed is your donation of $5 and then passing on the information on via e-mail, facebook or twitter. If many give a small gift, it turns into a big gift. See the official page here: http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5/

The other cause on my heart? Children! More specifically, children and families facing serious medical challenges. Like many things in this world, I think we can all agree that this would be difficult. THEN, you put a face and a heart to the situation and it becomes 8 gabillion times more powerful. Read more here. There is a donate button in the top right sidebar, and I am $20 away from my goal for Breley's fund. 

Alright, I'm done asking for your hard-earned dollars. It will be safe to have your pocketbooks around me, I promise.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

11 Months Ago...

You, Cupcake,  came into this world, and I'm certain the world is a better place for it. In just your 3 weeks home, you have brought immense joy into our lives, and I never thought I could say that on so little sleep (It is 7:00 am and you are already down for a *nap*, I guess you didn't want to miss a moment of your 11 month celebration). I find myself in a mental Never-never land of sorts. I get so excited when you learn something new (and I'm especially proud that I taught you to clap for yourself when you do something exciting), and my euphoria is quickly followed by a fearful thought about how you are growing up so quickly, and I want to keep you little. I'm pretty sure that is both an adoption thing and a regular-momma thing. I feel like we missed out on so much together, but then I'm reminded that you are stuck with me for life, so it is okay, you are allowed to grow and learn. 

It is exciting that I can now record what kinds of things you are up to, instead of guessing, wondering and gleaning little bits of information from a health and development report!

*You excitedly clap any time Daddy or I say, "Yay!"
*You LOVE and the smiles are easy for both of your Grampas.
*You can sign "all done" and understand what it means.
*You wave buh-bye, and now understand what it means. You like to wave it at people (the rare occasion that we leave the house) when you want them to leave you alone, and I secretly love, love, love when you advocate for yourself that you want some stranger to beat it.
*For the most part, you sleep well at night, unless you aren't feeling too well, then you are up every 1/2 hour...hence, you are already napping at 7am. When you are feeling like yourself, you nearly always wake up with a smile on your face and a giggle in your throat. Sometimes, you giggle at me when I am about to lay you down (and I think you are completely asleep, and you laugh as if to say, NOT SO FAST, you can't quit snuggling with me yet!)
*You love to snuggle "Your Pal, Violet," and you dance when she plays music.
*Diogee the handicapable dog is warming up to you, and you like to try to get in his dog bed with him.
*You are trying to figure out the sign for "more," "eat," "bath," and "dance."
*You learned to crawl on all 4's, but you prefer to 'army crawl' or 'inch worm,' because you can get to your destination faster.
*You are sort of warming up to your carseat... sort of.
*The stroller isn't your favorite place either, but you tolerate it if you can see Diogee (for a short period of time). On the other hand, you can literally spend HOURS in the Beco Baby Carrier.
*You like to eat paper. I think you sneak a little bit every day, and when I try to get it from you, you get really upset with me...
*You don't have any teeth, but continue to be a drool monster. I thought you were teething, but upon further investigation at Urgent Care, you had a double ear infection ( and it was confirmed, that you really do hate Dr.'s, and will have a meltdown the second you see a stethoscope. It is the most helpless feeling in the world to watch you panic over it. I want them to help you feel better, but I don't want you to be so scared!
*You LOVE bath time, and I end up soaked from all of the splashing.
*You look adorable in any and every outfit, and you definitely do not like all of my hair/head accessories for you, but I'm working on it :)

--We've been studying each other, and we are starting to understand each other a little more each day, which is an amazing feeling. I could seriously make this list go on and on and on.

**Cupcake, you are loved and cherished. I sometimes get choked up watching you sleep. I can't believe you are here, in our house. I don't know what we did in our spare time before you were here! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

3 Weeks Together...

Time for a progress report. I think we get a solid C+ for this week. Again, it is a pretty subjective grading system (based solely on my feelings). Total, K took a month off from work. 1/2 week was because I was so sick and he was scared to leave me alone for too long, and he suddenly had to prepare for the trip (including buying everything like diapers and formula) by himself. Then he was in Ethiopia for 1.5 weeks and then he spent another 2 weeks at home and we just got to play, happy little family. I used to have to plan 6 months in advance for him to take an entire week of vacation, so it was awesome to have him home for 2 straight weeks (and he only checked work e-mail a couple of times)! Well, this was his first week back to work, so it was my first week as a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom). Ummm, that really meant...stay home. It was a little unnerving for me to spend that many hours in a row in my house. I did brave up and stick Cupcake in her dreaded carseat a couple of times. The first time, she literally screamed the whole way to our destination (7.3 minutes away), she immediately calmed the second I freed her from her carseat, but was so worked up she puked on me. My apologies to everyone at the Post Office that day while I mailed my mom her birthday present, I'm sure my shirt smelled *lovely*. Cupcake screamed the 7.3 minutes on the way home too. I was going to go other places, but thought better of it with lots of vomit on me, and a really upset child! We ended up at Urgent Care hours later, and she has a double ear infection. On the bright side, she is sleeping MUCH better now, and she babbled happily on our next carseat adventure (for the most part). 

One of the things keeping the grade in the plus category is that Cupcake is clearly feeling more comfortable with her surroundings. She spent a good 2 weeks staying in a 5 foot circle in the living room, content to play with the toys we set in front of her. A couple of days ago, I left her in the living room to her own devices while I quickly ran to the powder room (8 feet from the living room). I was in there for no more than 45 seconds and she had inched her way into the connected breakfast nook and was discovered splashing away in Diogee's water dish. Poor dog, nothing of his is safe any longer. I was both alarmed that she moved that far that fast, and pleased that she now has the desire to explore more of her surroundings. 

We went on a short walk. Side note: Diogee the handicapable dog was just cleared to resume 'normal' activities slowly over the next 4 weeks. His gait still isn't 'normal' and it may never be, but he has regained a lot of his functioning, and it was so fun to take him on a short walk! He loved it and tried to mark everything (even though he still has difficulty getting into proper position so as to not get urine on himself). The walk went fairly well, but Diogee's gait worsened as he got tired, and Cupcake became frustrated with not being able to see my face in her stroller. So, 20 minutes was plenty long for both of the little beings in my charge. 

If someone with much more experience has an idea (that doesn't involve waking up earlier) so that I can shower regularly, that would be much appreciated. Cupcake is struggling a little when we are further than 3 feet away from her, so showering is difficult. I got about halfway through a shower without her crying when I piled toys in front of her in the bathroom, and sang (even though I would expect my singing to make anyone cry). I'm nervous to shower when she is down for nap, because my bathroom shares a wall with her nursery, but maybe I should just get over that? 

I think we will all feel a little more comfortable during the work week this time around, so I only expect the grade to go up. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Grief Stages...

Yes, this is still my blog and it is mostly about our adoption/family life (we are adjusting pretty well, btw!) I sometimes talk about other family members, too, because they are such a huge part of my life, and they have molded me into the person that I am today (for better and for worse). 

So, this post is about some very special little family members. 11 months and 2 days ago, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law welcomed two miracle babies into the world. Kailey and Breley were born at exactly 24 weeks gestation. They were facing some pretty serious challenges at 1 lbs. 6 oz. and 12 inches long, each. We were thrilled to have 2 more nieces in the world, and we were scared. We were on our knees praying for their journey to be eased by the grace and power of God. HE performed. Today, Kailey is 11 months and 2 days old and she continues to grow, smile and kick challenge after challenge. Her very existence brightens my life, and reminds me that if she can fight so hard, I can too. Breley went to be with the Lord exactly 11 months ago. We miss her. Her sisters miss her, her parents miss her. That little miracle baby renewed my belief in miracles, as she fought for 2 days in *this* life against complications that the Dr.'s said adults wouldn't have been able to fight against. See? Miracle.

It was one of the hardest things to watch her mother, father and older sister say good-bye to her, and grow in the faith and strength as a family together. They definitely accomplished those things, but I wanted so badly for them to not have to endure it. We have all heard of the  grief stages: shock and denial; pain and guilt; anger/bargaining; depression/loneliness/reflection; reconstructing; acceptance. (If I am a little off on the stages, I'll write a formal letter of apology to my graduate school professors...). Essentially, the stages can be loosely interpreted, they don't look exactly the same for 2 people, there is no exact timeline. Well, in an effort to continue the healing process, Breley's parents have a vision. They have thrown themselves into working to help Children's Miracle Network raise money for families that endure a medical challenge. Their vision to celebrate the lives of their 2 youngest girls is to have family and friends participate in a 5k Walk/Run which raises $ for CMN, in September, just after the 1 year mark of the birth of their daughters. What a cool idea! They are also selling T-shirts for profit in order to raise $ for Breley's Fund. This fund is used to help purchase NICU equipment, as well as materials and support services for families that lose a child. One of the items they were so grateful for after Breley died was a mold of her hands and feet (alongside her twin sister Kailey's molds). They fund purchases this type of material too. My family makes me so gosh darn proud sometimes with their big ideas and bigger actions. 

Would you consider helping to honor the life that Breley fought to live for 2 days? You can use the paypal button to the right to make a donation ($1, $5, $10, $20, whatever!), and all $ will go toward Breley's Fund. If you would like to order a T-shirt, please use the e-mail me link. Prayers are exceedingly welcome! 
The shirt!
Kailey has such mesmerizing eyes...


Thursday, August 4, 2011

How's it Going????

I'm in education, so let's give the last week a "grade" in parenting, adjusting to family life and attachment and bonding. This is pretty subjective, but I'm going to go ahead and give all of us a solid B-. I thought of going with C+, but I'm giving myself a little bit of grace here.

I like happy things, so let's start out with the positives, shall we?
- Cupcake is finding a decent sleep schedule. There are some definite bumps to this, but I don't know a baby that sleeps at exactly the same time for exactly the same amount of time every day.
-Cupcake loves to dance, and it makes me fall in love with her a little more every time she busts a move!
-Cupcake's blood work has been coming back with better results than we expected. Yay! We are still waiting on some tests to be completed, and we just dropped off 7 fecal samples on Monday, so results are still out. You can tell I'm trying to adjust my language to "parent speak" because prior to Cupcake, I would have said, poop, turds, caca, brown bomb, bootycakes, etc. 
-Cupcake is enjoying trying new foods and so far isn't shying away from the textures we are introducing.
-K has been home with us on vacation...the grade may slip when he returns to work on Monday.
-Cupcake makes the funniest faces, cutest noises, is starting to snuggle with us.
-We are slowly venturing out into the world. Key word, slowly. It is obvious that Cupcake gets a little overstimulated and overwhelmed with too many lights, people, colors, things to look at. We have made some Target runs, etc. for supplies, and we have been to the Dr. She does really well while in the Beco Baby Carrier while we are out. Thanks, A for educating me on that fabulous baby carrier!!!! We LOVE it!

--There are more positives, but those are the ones I can think of right now, and you probably don't have all day to hang out here...

What we need to work on:
-Someone, who shall remain nameless was flipping through channels and stopped on a station when interrupted by the dog trying to give a fecal sample on the carpet, and clicked the pause button. The DVR only pauses for 20 minutes at a time. I came downstairs to feed Cupcake and when the TV started playing it was on 'Jersey Shore' and club music was blaring out of the speakers. Normally, not a huge deal (though I don't think I'm the type of parent to really encourage our 10 month old to watch Jersey Shore), but it was a little unsettling that Cupcake really jammed out more than I had ever seen her before. The *one* who made the mistake of having Jersey Shore on, has been trying to teach Cupcake to fist pump, ever since.
-Diogee, the handicapable dog is slowly adjusting to Cupcake, but we still have about 2 episodes a day where the diaper sniffing obsession gets a little uncomfortable for all of us (this is better than the previous 12 hours/day).
-I have yet to figure out how laundry and dishes will get done with K at work.
-I have yet to take her in the car by myself, and need to face this challenge, SOON!
-Cloth diapers...I'm working on it, but am not there yet...
-I think I need a new vacuum, because Cupcake can find 12 pieces of fuzz that she wants to eat exactly 47 seconds after I vacuum.
-We really need to stop setting her in the bumbo on top of the counter...no, we don't just leave her there, no need to call CPS.
-Will I ever cut my dependence on Diet Coke?

That probably sums it up (for now). Okay, so I still haven't downloaded the pics off of the camera. I'll find time for that at some point, but here are two I can upload: 
Our first family photo in Iowa!
Notice how Cupcake looks in the airport photo, she looked pretty much scared out of her mind. I think this tutu picture is evidence that she is feeling more safe and secure and Cupcake has a big, sweet personality. Had to give her the toys so she would stop ripping the headband off of her head! :)


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