Saturday, January 29, 2011

Inside the Chaos of Normal Life

I haven’t completely forgotten about the blogging world. I have been caught up in extra tae kwon do practices, spelling lists, and Tom hovering over me on the internet, attempting to determine our next summer vacation destination. He has become a bit obsessed. We are not touristy people. We like to get away from the noise of regular life, throw a line in the water fishing, read uninterrupted, or sit around on a lazy afternoon with Tom by the grill. Tom is less than fast paced, and I am learning. I am somewhere in between with the need to stay in touch with real life. My only stipulation on our destination is wireless access. That and he is taking me to the urban sprawl in a couple of weeks, to satisfy his wife’s need to get outside of rural America.

Inside the chaos of daily life, orneriness has reached its highest level.  A combination of cold weather and Sidney’s decision to discontinue her normal nap schedule, have brought a new dynamic to our house.  I say Sidney’s decision, facetiously. A solid block of two uninterrupted hours have dwindled to just over an hour.  I remember this phase well with Eli. It is the phase causing my friend to grimace aloud upon hearing the news. On the positive side, bedtime is a dream with little fuss.

This new schedule has made “playtime” or three hours of daycare per week very necessary.  I can’t believe how much this burst of sanity helps. I also think it is good for so many other reasons. One of them being new friends in her age group.  Some of her new found playmates have been spoken of in a positive nature while others have received the name “icky man.” I have yet to uncover the identity of “icky man.” She typically charges in, diving into whatever activity might be going on without so much as a glance back. 
Her independence typically comes out in situations around other children. It makes complete sense, considering the environment of an orphanage. For this reason, I feel we passed a major milestone this week. I was upstairs folding laundry, and she went into her room and played for at least a solid hour by herself. At one point, I came to check on her, and she told me “alone.” She contentedly chatted aloud, enjoying this time with zero anxiety.  What a very different little girl.  

I can also tell she is changing physically. I have written extensively on her bout with giardia and ridding her body of the parasite. We assume she contracted the parasite very early in her time in Chenzhou. As a result her growth was stunted. She is catching up, growing an inch this month.  This is amazing. We monitor her growth, but we do get overly wrapped up in numbers. She had no time to grow until now, getting over the parasite and two surgeries in the first six months home. It is great to see her respond so positively to proper nutrition.

OK, I am off to start making phone calls for carpet tubing. I am directing vacation Bible school this year, so there will be any number of obscure calls and activities going on in my house at any one time. I really enjoy doing this, and it makes me feel good to give back.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Who me? Draw on the wall?
I feel like I should do an endorsement for installing Netflix on Wii. I am embarrassed to think how many hours of entertainment it provided over the last few days. It is the difference between quiet and sanity, and Eli and Sidney alternately screaming while the other retaliates. Cold weather is not a stay at home mom’s friend. It dipped to -19F yesterday morning. Not only does it make it dangerous to be outside, it makes the space between the walls of this house much too small.

Thank goodness for “play time” earlier this week. I take Sidney to a local daycare drop off for a couple of hours to play once a week. She knows a few of the kids, so it is a great time. I pride myself on being a good stay at home mom, but with a husband working upwards of 75 hours a week, a mom needs time to think. I love the time spent being home, but after a couple of 16 hour days, I need a few hours. It has been great for both of us. 

"Me  brusha hairs."
Besides, where else would Sidney get to enjoy an indoor snow fight? According to the lead teacher, all the kids were looking outside with woebegone faces.  It’s tough to understand dangerously low temperatures for a 2-3 old. Miss Tracey brought the fun inside and filled a tub with fake snow. It is great to hear she had a fun morning and laughed a lot.  I am so grateful for Sidney’s adjustment to this morning activity. 

On a totally unrelated topic, Sidney said a few things about China for the first time tonight. This was a positive sign, because if Tom or I initiate conversation about China, she typically says “no” and goes about her business. We were discussing a museum and the word China came up. She caught the word China, saying “Mama Dada fly big plane China.” She remembered me telling her mommy and daddy flew a big airplane to China. She went on to ask “Mama Dada fly big plane China Eli?” Meaning, did we go to China for Eli? When I told her no, she said “oh,” in an utterly perplexed tone.  Something resonated with her. I told her Eli was born in my tummy, and she was born in my heart. To that Eli let out a cackle, thinking about how strange it might look if I physically had a baby growing in my heart. Sorry, this is how these conversations go down. You think it is a tender moment, only to be interrupted by normal life. I have heard around the age of three kids start understanding or attempting to interpret their story. I think she is in the beginning stages.  

OK, off to finish tomorrow's pre-confirmation lesson Martin Luther. I know they will be as excited as Tom (not).

Monday, January 17, 2011

More snow......

I think as China adoption parents, we spend a lot of time thinking about need. Tom and I were looking at a blog last night. Beautiful faces looked through the screen. Someone posted more photos of an orphanage. Photos like this are online everywhere and frankly, at times they haunt me. This feeling has only intensified since Tom and I returned with Sidney. A person thinks they can wrap their head around the need, but until it is all around you for two weeks in China and visible to you through online forums, blogs, and in your arms, a heart becomes heavy for the orphan. I don’t mean this to be depressing; it is just something that has weighed heavily on my mind. I constantly reexamine our role in all of this. What are the positive things I might do in my life to ease the burden of these children? I know I am not unique in my quandary. I write this because I have had time to think. Last year was such a blur of doctor’s appointments, working on issues with attachment, and the excitement of getting to know Sidney. I am snapping out of my contemplation and finding it hard to remain serious about too much as an over tired Sidney tickles her dad’s tummy. 

Today was a snow day. Thankfully, it was quite warm despite the snow. I was able to suite up Sidney while Eli prepared to throw himself back into the snow. He spent the weekend at a Boy Scout Polar Bear camp. His leader said he had an incredible time, and I know he enjoyed his time away. Last summer, he was supposed to go to the same camp but came down with 103 degree fever. He never has fevers, so the timing was strange. He was heartbroken, so I am so happy he finally got to go to the camp and have this experience. He will head back this summer. It is so cool to watch him, because unlike me as a child, he has zero anxiety about leaving mom and dad for a few nights.

OK, off to Netflix and Desperate Housewives. It’s sad but true. I have formed somewhat of an addiction. I’m off to Fairview.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kitty ER

Sidney is rejecting the idea of a nap, so I guess now is a good time to blog. I can tell in so many ways my little girl is growing up. Now if we could only master potty training. Is there something in my water that makes any child I potty train reject the notion before turning 3? I am watching Sidney diligently coloring her KaiLan Color Wonders book. After spending 6 years with a boy, it still amazes me how much a girl does quiet activity. Those around us constantly say “she’s busy, isn’t she?” I keep responding yes, but I keep thinking about Eli. This time of year, I was counting the days until it was warm enough to spring him loose barefooted outside to root around in the dirt and wear himself out.

Today, I am especially appreciating how much energy Eli brings to our family. He is gone on a Boy Scout outing for the night. This is the first time he has spent the night without Mom and Dad or grandparents. Don’t let this statement fool you into thinking he was actually worried about staying apart from anyone in the family. We know he will be great. He is quite independent. According to my mom, he never shed a tear while we traveled to China. It makes being his mom especially easy. Tom said the car came to a hault, and Eli was ready to have him leave as soon as possible. 

It is a relaxing day by comparison to yesterday. Sidney and I had an adventuresome trip to the vet’s office. She wanted no part of our 13 year old cat Ralph being confined to a carrier. I knew the cat was quite ill as he was making messes uncharacteristic of his normal behavior and drinking too much water. The vet confirmed my suspicion, indicating a weigh loss of over 15 lbs a few years ago to a scrawny 10.5 lbs. He was also dehydrated. As she took vials of blood, and when she returned she had surprisingly good news. Ralph’s blood sugar was elevated but not considered too elevated to require insulin. While she was gone the tech prepared me for the worst, and I was prepared to make tough choices. Turns out he needs diabetic catfood (as I said on my FaceBook post yesterday, now I have heard it all). And the best part for my husband, known by everyone as a tightwad, is the food is the same cost.  In every other way, he is the picture of geriatric feline health. Turns out, this crisis might have been the catalyst (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for healthy feline living.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cake Construction

Eli's Boy Scout had it's annual cake auction. Local businesses bid on the finished products. Mom and Eli spent a great part of Sunday afternoon baking and decorating. We started by baking three cake mixes and later made two batches of fondant.. How else are you going to create an edible hill and campsite?

A road was later transformed into a stream.

As I am look back, I realized we missed putting color in the fire pit! Oh well, there's always next year.

And, wa la, a cake is completed. We are not too picky about the finished product. It was the fun of spending time together. So fun to spend time with Eli one on one. However, Sidney was mighty unhappy as she screamed "CAKE!!!" while playing with daddy in the other room. 

Eli focusing not to drop the cake standing with the auctioneer. 

Monday afternoon, as we put on the finishing touches, I threw an almost empty bowl of green frosting in front of Sidney and let her play. It was a desperate move to keep her occupied so we could finish! Sidney was more than happy to comply.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Itchy itchy, scratchy scratcy

Last night, Sidney piled into my lap. As I looked down at her face, I noticed two raised bumps on both eyelids. Her beautiful eyes had hives on both sides. We assume Amoxicillin, started on Thursday for a cold, is the source. As I looked at her tummy three more bumps were revealed. A minute later I looked back to find her scratching her forehead. Sidney has a tendency to scratch anyway. This is an orphanage related behavior which surfaces from time to time, but it was nice to know there was a legitimate reason. 

One call to the on call doctor, and we have taken her off the medicine until Monday. Of course, they were more than willing to tell me the convenient care is open on Saturday. We will not be visiting the cesspool (I mean clinic) today. We think it will resolve itself as she is acting a bit more like herself, and continuing to eat and sleep well. Luckily, our doctor will take care of anything we need over the phone on Monday. I will brag again about living in a rural place. During the initial appointment, I called to get into the doctor at 9:20am, and we were sitting in the room waiting by 10am. I might be missing the great food we had in Chicago, even after a decade of living back in a smaller place, but convenient living makes it worth the sacrifice.

This weekend is full of the normal weekend activities we enjoy free of other commitments. A Saturday to linger with my cup, ok cups, of coffee, with my laptop and construct a cake. I use the word construct, because our Boy Scout pack holds a fund raising cake auction each year. This means each scout makes a cake based on a theme in a few categories. This year is 100 years of scouting and the categories are camping, badges/patches, and miscellaneous. This year’s might top the treasure chest I made two years ago, constructed entirely of cake. It wasn’t pretty, but it is amazing to me that $10 in supplies could generate $80 in profit for the pack. Before starting this project, I will need a scoop shovel to clean my house. Mom and Dad were both sick this week.

Yes, my good health did not avoid all the germs floating around our home. I was in denial on Thursday, thinking I might get a light. Everyone around me was alternately blowing noses and hacking. Lovely! Fortunately, Mom keeps plugging along.

OK, off to find my scoop shovel and cleaning supplies.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cough Cough, Sniffle Sniffle

 I am the last man (I guess woman is more appropriate) standing. Dad started a nasty cold, passed it to Sidney, and Eli woke up this morning with raccoon eyes and a terrible cough. He decided walking to the kitchen to eat breakfast took too much effort, falling to the floor, in a dramatic show of illness. If the phrase drama queen could be modified to its male version, Eli is a drama king.  Luckily, this is only the second cold circulating through the house this winter. Sidney’s busy behavior has slowed considerably. Thank goodness for Netflix fed through the Wii.  

Sidney’s immunity is usually great considering her rough start, and she is the toughest kid I have ever witnessed. Her Half the Sky report indicates she was very sick when she came into care, so sick HTS was unable to work with her until her health improved. In my opinion, an orphanage has a low threshold for serious illness. If it was documented she was seriously ill, it was not good. A long bout with giardia, and/or possible prematurity at birth, stunted her growth. She has every clinical reason not to rebound so quickly from illness, but she typically gets better quickly.  

Luckily, the funk invaded after the weekend. Mom and Dad got a night away on New Year’s Eve.  Saturday, we visited Tom’s sister and extended family. Tom’s sister and brother-in-law adopted almost six years ago from China. China was almost an entirely different program, compromised of many more non special needs adoptions.  Adoptions were actually processed in a year instead of six years. I think there is positive in every situation. Despite the overwhelming number of children left in China’s orphanages as a result of this slowdown, a higher number of children with special needs are being adopted and receiving medical care. A few years ago, conditions might have otherwise been forgotten.  there is a reason for everything, and I think of all the kids being treated for medical conditions which AnDee, our niece, is from the province directly west of Sidney’s which is another cool coincidence. I think it is so neat they are both from this southern region of China. AnDee is obviously closer in age to Eli, so they are buddies whenever we get together.

Luckily, mentioning our plans, prior to Saturday, did not get a negative reaction. We discussed going to her China cousin’s house, and she was elated. Other times, mentioning China has resulted in a reaction of “China, no, no.” I can’t remember what exactly we were discussing, but China came up. When I started talking her reaction was “China, no, no.” It was similar to meeting the people in our local Chinese restaurant. Both times, her reaction was definitive for someone not yet three.

OK, we are off to the doctor for a double appointment. There are advantages to living in rural America. I just called at 9:20am, and the receptionist asked if we could be in by 10am. Meanwhile, I am going to eat several oranges and think positive thoughts.