Saturday, October 30, 2010

I Fly

A family recently had the ability to visit Sidney’s orphanage. She was kind enough to share her blog and photos. Not only were her photos some of the best I have seen of China, but they were very stirring. We were unable to travel to the orphanage. During the H1N1 scare, we were seen as a threat to the health of the children. As Sidney’s mother, I had mixed feelings about our inability to visit. I felt relief, avoiding the feelings that go along with seeing children forced to live in a situation and place beyond their control. There was another part of me that had to grieve not seeing where she lived. I felt it was my duty to understand anything at all which might benefit her. When I saw the pictures, it gave me some sense of this mysterious place. Run down streets with people in everyday life on the streets around the orphanage, and inside the walls and rooms of a place I have only seen a handful of times in photos. We have photos of Sidney in the orphanage, but they are images of her in different poses in the same room.

Watching her tonight was such a gift. We went trick or treating. Eli was dressed as a storm trooper, and Sidney was dressed in her butterfly costume. Afterward, as I lifted her out of her carseat, fumbling with bags of candy and McDonald’s Happy Meals, I set her down. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she took off running, yelling “I butterfly. I fly!” Yes, sweet girl. Not only will you fly, you will soar!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fun, Fun, and More Fun

Wow! That was a huge blogging break. If you can imagine, the only chance I have to do this is when I put Sidney to bed. I am literally typing in the dark. Our life has reached its chaotic school year pace.  Add fun weekends into the mix, and I am left with minimal time. We spent the weekend with great friends a few hours from home. They definitely inspired us to follow our lifelong dream of adopting a child having completed three adoptions. Getting the kids together is such an awesome thing. Once Sidney understood why we were there, she dove straight into the fun. Of course, Eli was immediately in the mix. Three boys and two girl could be heard, alternately, screaming and laughing over the majority of the weekend.


Tom and I had another reality check on Friday night driving up. We know we have overcome much with Sidney’s emotional well being, however there are subtle reminders indicating her heart continues to heal. When something changes in Sidney’s schedule, she becomes hyper vigilant. Anyone who has experienced this with a child understands it is more than simple excitement.  It is a raw instinct. She stays awake, literally, out of fear of the unknown. While driving up, she would not allow herself to sleep. This might have been normal for a 2 1/2 year old if she had napped more than a half hour on Friday. Of course, this did not take away from a great weekend with our friends. 

Many glasses of wine, bowls of spicy noodles, and scotcheroos later we were back on the road for home. Tom’s mother passed away five years ago, and his stepfather remarried. With his new wife came a boat load of extra cousins, in addition to the many already in our family. This makes for a fun time when we all get together. Each year, they go to the Amish and buy enough pumpkins that the kids can carve them (ok, I guess adults are wielding the sharp knives). It is an awesome way to celebrate the holiday and a great excuse for the cousins to play together. Of course this all happened after four hours in the car, so I think both kids did a face plant on their pillows when they went to bed last night.
We heard from the cardiologist today, and Sidney will have an echo cardiogram in the middle of November. This is a preventative procedure suggested by the genetics team at the university hospital. Rarely, children with limb anomalies have heart defects. We want to make sure we cover all our bases, so this is a precautionary measure. This seems simple in comparison to her hand surgeries but scary at the same time. We are pleased this procedure can be done close to home at a hospital about 20 minutes away versus the hour drive we complete for her orthopedic and surgery appointments. We pray there is nothing else, however we know God continues to guide us through her healing. 

OK, off to work on my project. Mom has decided there are not enough hours in the day, and I am looking into taking Sidney to a daycare for drop off a couple of hours a week or having someone come to the house. Something about writing contracts, bookwork for our business, and most importantly two children and a husband that need more hours than there are available. Before I check myself into the state mental facility in our community (I am kidding of course), I am looking into something a few hours a week to create a bit more calm in our lives. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We just got back from eating dinner at Aunt Jill’s house. My kids are blessed to have more than one Aunt Jill. Aunt Jill as in Tom’s sister and Aunt Jill and Uncle Dustin our good friends down the street. Fun to sit and laugh and hang out. It was a great way to end the weekend. Nothing too major went on. Tom is an avid hunter, so the first part of the weekend, he and Eli quietly readied themselves at 4:30am to go out the door for the first duck and goose hunt of the year. Mom was only thrilled they did not wake Sidney. I gave several very stern warnings about getting clothes out the evening before and keeping noise to a minimum. I don’t mind that this is how Tom chooses to spend his Saturday morning, but it is another thing completely if Mom has to get up at the same time to take care of Sidney if Daddy is too loud.
Sidney and I spend the day hanging out. Sidney played and Mom worked on a writing project. We have continued to spend a couple of hours outside everyday as I rake all of our leaves. 10 years ago when we moved into this house fresh from a postage stamp yard in Chicago, the yard seemed so huge and like such a great idea. We still love the yard, but we joke wondering what we were thinking. In all seriousness, it was a good idea as we spend countless hours with the kids running around. Eli has always loved being outside, and Sidney has especially taken a liking to being outside. Last year, the outdoors was something frightening. She didn’t like walking on the grass and was timid and afraid. This year, she runs everywhere exploring her surroundings with curiosity and has genuine interest for the smallest of things. Examining a leaf and its orange fall colors is a source of fascination. Rocks in a bucket with her shovel occupy her for long stretches of time until she walks up to me and shows me her “treasures.”   This is only one of the times I have been reminded by one of our kids to see the beauty in even the most common of things.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dramatic Dentistry

Sidney had her first dental exam today. This was something we should have done last year, but we decided not to put her through anymore doctor’s visits than necessary. Two surgeries was enough. We were curious about the condition of her teeth, given her rough start. Turns out her teeth are fine, and we were given the standard talk about toothpaste and avoiding sweets. Great! We love normal doctor’s visits.

Sidney was too small to lay back in the dental chair, so I had to sit sideways on the chair while holding her lower half. She laid in the dentists lap who confirmed her two year old molars are coming though. This would explain the extra time napping and waking up a couple of times in the night. I am sure they are sore.  During this time, Sidney was not happy. My normally happy girl had crocodile tears as the dentist probed in her mouth. This was only after they were actually able to get her mouth open. We decided to wait six months to clean her teeth since she is so young. The doctor was interested to hear that her two molars make a total of 13 teeth since she came home. She only had the two top and bottom teeth.

We are outside a lot right now, enjoying the 80+ degree weather. Great walks and fun times outside playing in the leaves. Sidney spent an entire walk riding in her stroller examining a leaf. This might not be breaking news, but it is awesome when you are the parent witnessing your child appreciate and explore the world around her.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Warm Fall Days

Today was a great day to look at pumpkins after church. 80 degree weather was a stark contrast to the winter coats we wore last year doing the same activity. Eli and Sidney had fun exploring the many different varieties of pumpkins. We wheeled 50 lbs. of pumpkins in our two wagons, and picked up our free popcorn. It sounds like a lot but actually was enough for some decorating and pumpkins for carving in a few weeks.

I was happy Sidney spotted the popcorn and asked to have some. Over the past few months, eating has been a bit challenging. We go through days when there is no issue with eating while other days are more difficult. I know this is a reality of her experience, but we struggle for Sidney to gain an understanding that food will always be around. She seeks comfort in the presence of food. We have watched her ask for food at bedtime. She takes a small bowl of crackers, sits in by her pillow in the corner of her pack n play, turns over and goes to sleep.
There are times when she is actually hungry, but there are many times when the food goes untouched. We are working with her to use her words to let us know when she is hungry. Any indication of hunger sets off an internal alarm, and we are hoping to help her avoid this panic. I also think she will not feel as afraid if she is able to tell us exactly what she needs. These issues have obviously toned down, however they continue to resurface. From what I can gather from other adoptive parents, this issue continues to a lesser degree, in phases. We went through a period when we thought this had resolved itself, but it resurfaced again. It helps that Tom and I can offer reassurance that she might not have understood even six months ago. 

There is one positive element of her experience with food in the orphanage, her ability to share. She learned to share whatever it is that she is playing with, eating, or whatever else she might pass on to another. To the extent that when she is eating, she will offer a fork full of food to the person sitting next to her.  This is one of the sweetest qualities about Sidney. This is definitely something we could all learn a lesson from. The only time I have seen her refuse to share is squabbling with her brother, but I am happy she is behaving like a normal sister.