Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Catching Up

Tom is watching something indescribable on “Dual Survival,” so I think this might be a good time for me to divert my attention away from the television. I am back from a long blogging break. Smoke is still rolling off my keyboard writing (not literally, of course) for different jobs, and we are always busy during the school year. Sidney and I were fighting colds, not bad, just enough to be annoying. She is gaining a better immunity, but I can tell she is a healthy kid, because she only had a runny nose for a couple of days and was back to her spunky self.  8 days later, mom is still blowing her nose. 

Last week, it was my birthday, so Tom did a sweet thing. I came downstairs from folding laundry while Sidney napped when I heard a knock at the door.  Standing in the rain was a flower delivery person with a nice arrangement in fall colors. Tom and the kids sent me flowers. Eli was exceptionally sweet the night of my birthday. 

Coincidentally, my birthday was the same night as a Boy Scout meeting. I am chairing popcorn sales in our community, so I had to give my song and dance. Luckily, Tom was off from working any side jobs the following evening, because Eli was ready to hit the pavement, honing his sales technique. He happened to find a group of adults having a weekly BBQ. He was elated that he made four sales in one location. They door knocked for a solid hour. I wish I could say that hour was fun at home. Instead, mom was steaming her sinuses with a hot cup of water, sending scalding hot water down the front of my shirt. Not one of my finer moments. So while the boys walked around outside, I was trying to decide if I needed to go to the emergency room. I will spare the gory and blistering details. Relief came in the form of lots of ibuprofen over the last few days.

Friday night Eli had a classmates birthday party, so we shipped him off for a few hours into the early evening. Sidney realized what was going on and asked “NeeNee too?” She was unhappy to hear she would not be spending time with the big boys and had to ride home with mommy. Much to Eli’s chagrin we were early too early, picking him up, so she was able to play for a few minutes.
Yesterday, we had our nephew Finn’s first birthday party. I don’t know why it amazes me so much that my older brother Jason and sister-in-law Sarah have a baby. Maybe it is because I still picture Jason as the kid torturing me on summer break. Sidney ate an entire cupcake, and it was a sugar crash instead of a sugar high on the way home.

As a side note, we have noticed further progress with the use of Sidney’s hands. She never had an issue using them, but after surgery, she could not stand to have any pressure or anyone touch the inside area where the skin grafts were completed. I am certain it felt like someone touching any scar from surgery. It feels weird and makes you want to go through the roof. We have noticed, recently, she is putting her other fingers between the separated area. Her surgery was last January. Feeling them separated has to be a very unnatural sensation for her. This is major progress as she is becoming more comfortable with her new fingers. She is doing great with and without the lift in her shoe. In fact, after talking with our orthopedist, we let her go without shoes in the house. She would rather not have the lift at all, but we know it is important for her spine and balance. She can run very quickly without the lift barefooted. She has developed this adorable little hop when she is happy. Did I say my child is amazing? Over the summer and into this fall, we have sat back and watched her enjoy simply being a carefree kid. It is awesome. However, a part of this carefree attitude is starting fights with her brother. As you can tell things are going well.
OK, off to start another week.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I am supposed to be uncovering my house from the weekend, but it seemed like so much more fun to blog.

Dad & Mom, finally out from behind the camera.
We had a wonderful weekend of family time. Tom’s family holds a Christmas/reunion in the fall, with the goal of avoiding bad driving conditions since we all live in different areas in and out of state. What a fun time to catch up with aunts, uncles, and Tom’s cousins. One thing that always strikes me about this side of the family is the number of boys. All of the second cousins are boys with the exception of 2 girls. Meaning, out of all of Tom’s cousins, only one cousin had a girl. Sidney brings the number to 2 girls. Eli is in heaven. Sidney was unphased by the ratio. As a brief period of catch, and rough play broke out, she tried to get in the middle of the action. It is so awesome for us to see this bold little girl, unafraid of anything. That spirit is certainly what carried her through all of her time in the orphanage.

After the 40 minute drive home, our plan to quietly transfer a sleeping Sidney inside was interrupted by the amount of sugar our kids consumed.

Yes, we give them sugar but in limited quantity. I looked in the backseat of the dark truck, and when the interior light came on, I saw a wide eyed Sidney after 9:30pm. What a stinker. Eli was post meltdown, and trying to stay awake on the ride home much to his mother’s chagrin.

Tom and I started our preconfirmation class on Sunday. We meet with a group of 6th graders every week. I feel privileged to have this role at such an important time in a preteen’s life. Ask me if I feel the same way at the end of the year. I know our first class is not an accurate reflection of the remainder of the year, but it seems like we have a great group. Every group we had over the last four years was great. Some were just a bit more rambunctious than others. Tom and I have always taught together. It seems like if I can’t think of anything to say, he will think of something profound. If you know Tom, he is a talker, so this works well.

OK, I am off to order pants for Eli. He has outgrown every pair in his drawer, and when I say every pair, I mean every pair. Here’s hoping for good sales.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Therapy and Tears

How many times did I take out my barrette today? Notice we are outside, and the mosquito
population has FINALLY dropped off!

 I found out the other day, Sidney is honing her skills as a hand therapist. I was mulling over the German grocery retail industry on a writing project (exciting stuff), when I looked back and saw Sidney with a mouse to a toy computer. She was taking the part that plugs in and using it like the ultrasound tool the hand therapist uses on scarring. Skin grafts create bumpy surfaces and scarring will continue to build over the next two years between her fingers. Ultrasound is used to break down the scar tissue. Though I would never wish for her to have gone through two surgeries, I think it is good this is a normal part of her routine. I also think if she was doing this with her baby, she sees it as a normal part of her care. All positive factors.

Sidney and I headed to MOPS yesterday. Uninterrupted conversation with adults is a beautiful thing. Did I say child care is provided in a great facility? Another beautiful thing. When I dropped Sidney off this morning we had tears. Eventually, I worked my way out of the room, and she was fine after a couple of minutes. I realized on the way home, we were running late, and all the other kids were there. Some were crying. If I come early before there are a lot of kids crying, we have no issue. She always starts crying if another kid is crying. This has been a constant since we have come home. I’ll take the crying over the gagging. That’s another thing she does in the back seat of the car when she wants to get out or get my attention. Nothing gets a moms attention like the sound of a child getting ready to vomit in the backseat. Another trick she has carried with her from the orphanage. I don’t say these things lightly, but putting it in perspective, it could be something so much worse.

We are off to Jill’s (friend down the street) today for a play date. Thank goodness. It is Nickelodeons world day of play, and I think Eli might combust if they don’t turn it back on soon. No, I don’t allow my kids to have a million hours in front of the tube, but school is out for the day. Off to our family reunion tomorrow.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Life's Chaotic Pace

I don’t think there is enough coffee to get through weeks like the one I experienced. Each night about 10pm, I wished for a couple of extra hours. Life is chaotic, but it is a good chaotic. A majority of the weekend was spent preparing for our Sunday School kickoff. Tom took the kids outside while I attempted to get through all manner of signage, prizes, and game supplies while simultaneously printing off student handbooks, teacher handbooks, and game directions. It’s not rocket science, it just takes time and energy. When I agreed to do this, I didn’t have a writing project. This week, there was smoke rolling off my keyboard (not literally), as I finished a project. This made the weekends work a bit more tedious, but it was manageable. Thankfully, there are a group of us (“the lifers”) who stay year after year who pitch in with one another. I never mind the work of planning; it is the execution of the event which I like to hand off to others. I am usually glad about 15 minutes into the activity. If nobody has come up to me breathlessly looking for something, things are off to a good start.

Sidney and I visited the physical therapist last week. She wears splints at night to help with the scarring on her right hand. We alternate hands each night. This serves two purposes. It reduces the scarring with something inside the plastic, and it keeps the webbing from her fingers from creeping back between her fingers. Web creep is quite common with syndactyly (webbing), because it is her body’s natural tendency to fill in the space between her fingers. As she gets older, she will most likely require more surgery, but for now, we are trying to prevent it for as long as possible.

Right now, Sidney is too young to completely understand there is something different. I love this age, because, we have not faced any of the tough stuff like kids making rude comments or questioning the difference. I call it blissfully living in a bubble. Eventually, we know the bubble will pop. We have already heard things from children. It might sound rude to an outside observer, but Tom and I know kids lack the right words. We never look for the “right” words. Of course, this doesn’t mean we don’t cringe, but most of the time, a kid is genuinely concerned. They want to know why, but they lack the communication skills. Typically, after a period of question and answer kids find nothing else to ask about and continuing playing as if we never had the conversation. It is our hope this is the case when she enters preschool next year. Kids are simple, and I sometimes wish I retained some of this as an adult.

We enjoyed dinner last night with our good friends. It was great last night when the kids were exhausted from playing outside. OK, off to enter the world of German supermarkets and another writing project.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Relaxing End of Summer

We had a relaxing weekend at home with no real plans. This is exciting considering our September weekend calendar is almost completely full. I have started contracting some writing again, so I spent a blissful and quiet 3 hours writing in the library on Saturday afternoon. Afterward we decided to eat Chinese food in our local restaurant.

The owners of the restaurant are aware of our adoption story and made an effort to help us when we sent Sidney’s care, package prior to travel, with a handwritten note across the top of the letter. They have told us more than once about vacationing in Chenzhou city where Sidney lived in the orphanage. One of the owners immediately spotted Sidney, and said “you have her!” I know we have been home over a year, but we have not been in this particular restaurant.

One of the owners spoke English with her, knelt down to her level, and talked with her about the fish tank. She was so sweet with Sidney. After a period of time, we went back to eating, and a few minutes later another relative and the grandmother of the group appeared, huddled around Sidney. At first Sidney stood in the booth and took in her new found friends. When the two ladies began speaking in Chinese, Sidney immediately reached for Tom across the table, getting as far away as possible. Luckily, the women thought she was just shy. This is not typical behavior from Sidney. She usually talks to anyone who comes her way. It was amazing to see the grandma of the family and her face lighting up in meeting a Chinese toddler. She had the widest smile.

After they left, she climbed back into my lap. This is the first time in months I have seen Sidney with the somber blank stare she had during the first few months home. Her expression and demeanor has slowly changed. If I look back at photos of Christmas (five months home), she has a completely different expression than she does now. It didn’t surprise me this happened, but I thought enough time had passed or she would not have this reaction. Something about hearing this sent up a red flag. I guess this type of reaction might be the same reason she scratches her scalp really hard when she is overly tired or twists her thumb in her ear.

Tomorrow Sidney and I visit the physical therapist again. We are still using a spacer between her fingers to prevent web creep from coming back where her fingers were separated and a brace and spacer of the same material on the other hand, to keep her fingers straight. We are having some issues keeping them on her at night, so we are going back to see if there is something that can be done.

On to another busy week of school, taekwondo lessons, writing, and getting ready for games on the first day of Sunday School. As a side note, it was not Mom's idea to go without shoes at the public park. Dad made let them keep their shoes off.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Well Child Visit

After 2 surgeries and numerous visits to the university hospital, it was a pleasure to go for a visit with the words “well child.” We waited until Sidney was 2 ½, to complete her well child visit, because a kid can only take so much poking and prodding. Since her shots were current enough to wait until the end of the summer, I decided we all needed a break.

After taking her measurements, and once again, verifying that she has grown almost 6 inches and gained over 6 lbs., we waited for the doctor, and waited, and waited, and waited. Luckily, Sidney is a seasoned pro. She took one look at the books the nurses offered, said “up” and laid on the exam table checking out a Thomas the Train book and puzzles while we waited. A few spins on the doctor’s stool later (Sidney that is), and the doctor came into the room.

Our pediatrician was amazed at Sidney’s transformation. Normally, for easy stuff, we see our family doctor a few minutes away. Last time we saw the pediatrician, we had been in the United States for a day, and Sidney weighed 15 lbs. We were uncertain about any of the causes of her conditions, and we were trying to find direction in managing her health. We knew everything would be okay, but we were scared. Luckily, we could see a spunky ball of energy underneath her rash and slight frame. After all, she was pinching us, giving us some indication that she was a pistol.

We were happy she was spared a blood draw and didn’t need to have any labs repeated. This was great, because she had three shots. Little Pony bandaids and one Dora sticker later, and we were out of there. She, of course, held her breath and cried after the shots.

Outside of a doctor’s appointment, we are finding our new routine with Eli in school. He seems very content with his new teacher. He is actually feeling challenged this year which is a major improvement. Meanwhile, mom is enjoying getting back to writing a couple of contracts again and spending time one on one with Sidney.