Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Answers To The Questions Your Dying To Ask

I realize my announcement yesterday most likely came as a shock to many people so I will address the questions that some of you have or are afraid to ask.

Isn't this a little spontaneous???
No, I planned to adopt from China first. I started my paperwork for China in December, 2006. I finished it in March of 2007 and realized I had a long wait ahead of me for a baby. I had requested a baby girl, age 0-12 months. At that point the wait was 3 years, now some estimate it to be 4-5 years. Once I turned in my paperwork for China I immediately began to think about adopting from Vietnam which had a much shorter wait time. The question then was do I just switch all of my immigration paperwork from China to Vietnam or do I start over? So it was in April of 2007, about the time I was offically logged into China (LID 4/7/07), that I made my decision to pursue two adoptions or at the very least keep the China adoption option open. As with all things I left it up to God. I felt like that was what He wanted me to do so I just tried to follow His will.

Isn't it alittle soon after adopting Emma?
Perhaps it is but it feels like the right time and the right child. Some people are worried that Emma is still a baby and both Emma and our new child will suffer from my lack of enough attention to both. My new son will be 2 1/2 years old when I get him. Most 2 year olds don't want to sit around on Mommy's lap all day. And by that time I fully expect Emma to be mobile so I am more worried about dropping dead from exhaustion chasing a 2 year old and 1 year old around. And not to worry, there's plenty of hugs, cuddles and kisses to go around. Not to mention older brothers and sisters to give bonus kisses and hugs.

Are you crazy or just addicted to adopting?
Maybe I am crazy. But someone tell me what's wrong with loving kids and wanting to have a home full of love? This works for our family. It might not work for your's and that's ok.

How many more are you going to adopt?
I plan on this being my last child but if God has other plans for me, of course I will be open to them.

Why special needs? And can you afford a child who needs medical care?

I actually wanted to go special needs in December, 2006 but both my social worker and my China adoption agency wanted me to apply for tradional adoption and then switch later if I still wanted to do so.

Cleft lip and cleft palate is non-life threatening condition. My new son will be taken care of by a team of consultants. This is called a cleff team. At this time I plan to take him Shriners Hospital in Chicago. They will provide all of his care without charge. He will most likely need speech therapy and my new school district will provide this without charge. He will need orthodontics but so does his 10 year old soon-to-be sister. Kids and braces are part of life. I'll deal with it.

You're a single mom, how can you handle 6 kids????
My oldest is in college and although he loves me dearly (he's always sure to point out to his younger brother and sisters that he loved me FIRST) 20 year olds don't hang out with mom. I'm there when he needs me, which isn't that often anymore.

My second oldest son is going to be a senior in high school. Ditto the oldest son.

My ten year old and 5 year old daughters are so excited to be getting a little brother. Emma has no idea what's going on.

I will be honest and say that I am worried about adding another child to the mix if only because it has been my goal to make sure that EACH child gets what they need from me, that I am there for them. I seem to be achieving this goal.

I hope I've answered all of your questions but all you have to do is look at this little face.

There is a little boy living on the other side of world who needs a family. We are a family who wants to give him lots of love. What more needs to be said?

Monday, April 28, 2008

It's a boy!!!!

I am thrilled to announce that there will be a new addition to our family. It's a little boy who is currently in Shangrao City, Jiangxi province, China. He just turned 2 and had a cleft lip (repaired) and cleft palate (partially repaired.) His new brothers and sisters are thrilled!!!! See how cute he is!

(See how he has a tooth brush in his hand? Perhaps his good dental hygiene skills will rub off on my girls.)

His name is currently Ling De Long. I have no earthly idea what his American name will be. I haven't thought of boys names in years. Right now the kids call him Speed Racer for lack of a better name-- it beats calling him "our little guy." But I have until the end of the summer to figure it out. Travel to get him should be around August/September.

I know this is a shock to many people but I had sent my dossier to China last April to beat the new rules that went into effect last May which prohibited singles from adopting. I merely switched my file from traditional adoption to Special Needs.

Who knew that when I titled my blog Room for One More I really meant it!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Minivan Momma

You think I would have learned by now. With age comes wisdom and I have learned that that wisdom is usually hard learned. So you think I would have learned to never say "I'll never...." fill in the the dots with whatever you like.

A lifetime ago I was a histologist. I worked in a lab and made microscopic slides of tissue specimens from surgery. I actually enjoyed this job, just not the stress that seems to come with any hospital based career and when I finally quit in frustration I foolheartedly said "I will never work in histology again!" Silly girl. It only took about 2 years to make a liar out of me. I quit and went back to school and became a liar yet again in Tulsa when I was actually the supervisor. Talk about stressful.

Kids will also teach you not to say "Never." You can always spot a first time mom or someone who doesn't have children when they spout off "My child will/would never do that." That's the great thing about kids. They'll make a liar out of you every time. So you'll not be hearing me say (notice I didn't say "never") "My child will never be an ax murder." I mean, no sense tempting fate.

So, back when I turned 39 and was starting my midlife crisis (Ha! My midlife crisis was adopting a baby from China! LOL) I decided I was done, DONE with minivans. I think I had driven one most of my adult life. So my wonderful husband Darrell knew that I had always wanted a convertible and traded in our minivan for a Chrysler Sebring convertible. It was a gorgeous car! I swore I would NEVER drive a minivan again!!!! And when I realized how impractical a convertible was with a 16 month old child I soon began to drive a Ford Expedition.

I loved my Ford Expedition, in fact I loved it so much I had 2. But all good things must come to an end. I think everyone around me, namely my children, were incredibly tired of hearing me complain about the lack of storage in the back of the Expedition. It only got worse once I came home with Emma. The stroller didn't really fit in the back and when I did get it crammed in there when I opened up the door the stroller would promptly fall out on top of me. I really couldn't for see spending the next 4 years living like that. And we won't even go into the gas mileage issue. (You act like 11 miles to the gallon is a bad thing!)

So last week I did some research and realized that I needed a Honda Odyssey. On Thursday I braved the barracudas and come home with this:

I am a proud owner of a 2007 Honda Odyssey Touring. This is the girls, along with Julia's friend Anna, checking it out right after I came home. The girls absolutely love it. The boys, well, let's say they are adjusting. You know nothing says your mom is uncool like a minivan!

They'll get over it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Confessions of a busy mom

Thursday Emma Linh turned 9 months old. To celebrate she decided it was time to cut some teeth. This girl is my kind of girl now. She is cutting two at once. Why cut one when you can cut two? My fellow over achiever in the making.

I realize that this is a bad picture. You're going to have to click on it and make it bigger to actually see the fuzzy suggestion of two tiny teeth starting to poke through. But Emma is very private about her teeth. The paparazzi had to stake her out all day to get this photo and even then it was taken against her will. (I hear she might press charges.)

I confess, I have never taken a picture of my babies first teeth. But perhaps this will make up for all of the other injustices that I have perpetrated.

Trace was my first baby and my whole world revolved around that little butterball. Trace had not only a baby book (with practically every line filled out) but also a cute little wall calendar with stickers. Every day of at least the first six months of that calendar has something written on it. And let's not forget the professional photos taken every 3 months.

Ross had a baby book but not as filled out as Trace's. There was no calendar. Photos every 6 months.

Julia: baby book, forgotten after 3-4 months. Photos every 6 months.

Jenna: When we received Jenna in China she came with a kind of baby book. It didn't have all the little details you would like but we cherish the few photos that came with it. There was really no point in creating a baby book for a 16 month old once she came home. Photos, once a year until preschool and then twice a year school pictures.

Emma: Bless her heart, she is child #5. I shamefully admit she has no baby book. I also, even more shamefully, admit that she has yet to have a professional photo taken.

Unless I can count this one:

This is a photo of Emma's visa photo that was taken on Halloween day. We went to a professional photo studio in Hanoi and had this taken. Emma had to sit up for the photo but she had NO muscle tone. Emy and I are propping her up in the back and in the front underneath her shirt. Both of her ears had to show in the photo. It took several tries to get this.

Poor baby wasn't feeling well anyway. We left the photo studio and walked to the SOS clinic where she was diagnosed with bronchiolitis, the beginning of our RSV adventure. But there's a story for another day.

So maybe the photo of her teeth was an attempt to make up for my other inadequacies. I like to think that this blog is a sort of baby book. Its way to record the lives of my children and what's going on in our lives and maybe months of years from now we'll actually look back and see what we were doing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Never underestimate the luxury of running water!

You never realize how wonderful something is until you lose it. Like your kitchen sink.

We're in the middle of a minor (yeah right!) kitchen remodel. When I built this house I didn't upgrade anything in the kitchen with the plan to put in the kitchen of my dreams after moving in and now we're moving so scratch Plan A. Move to Plan B.

Plan B has, like any remodeling process, changed as we have gone along. But here is what it is today: Add molding to the cabinet doors and drawers. Paint and glaze cabinets. Put in new counter top. Put in an island. Put bead board at the end of cabinets to dress them up. Put in a new vent hood. Tile backsplash. We're over halfway done now. All we have left is to finish the upper cabinets and tile the backsplash.

This is our kitchen before. We had oak cabinets and laminate counter tops. The house came with white appliances but I had my professional stove and my ultraquiet dishwasher installed the day I moved in, well the day the boys moved in. There is no island.

And this is what our kitchen looks like at the moment. We've put moulding on the cabinets, painted and glazed. Added the island and had granite counters installed on Tuesday. Our sink was reconnected yesterday. Yeah!!! The kitchen already seems so much brighter and I haven't even tiled the backsplash yet. We're hoping to get to that this weekend. We're still trying to decide how to finish the upper cabinets which is why they aren't glazed yet.

Do you have any idea what it's like with a house full of kids, not to mention a baby with baby bottles, and have no kitchen sink for a week and a half???? Not a pretty picture. Speaking of not so pretty pictures:

This is a picture proving that I am a do-it-yourselfer kind of girl. The granite people were going to charge us extra to remove the counter tops so Ross and I did it ourselves the day before they came to template. In this photo I am unscrewing the screws that held the sink on the counter. Girl power!!! (Janne' you owe me a Starbucks coffee!)

I love doing this kind of stuff. I love taking a room/kitchen/anything that looks like nothing and turning it into something. The transformation. The joke has always been that as soon as I redecorated every room in the house it was time to move and start again. In fact, that's how I majored in interior design. Darrell hoped to curb my experimentation on our own house and hoped I would spend other people's money on their homes instead. It only kind of worked.

Here's what else I love: that my girls see me do this, they see me with a drill and a nail gun and they don't think its unusual. I love that they don't think a girl can't do this kind of thing, that ANYONE can. You just have to want to do it.


I wanted to point out that one the left side of the screen you can sign up to be notified when my blog has a new post. Then you won't have to keep checking. HOWEVER, that being said, I have signed up with Blogrithm for other blogs I read and they don't ALWAYS update. When you sign up you will start receiving emails that tell you I have updated my blog and there will be a link to clink on that will take you directly to the page I posted. So if its been several days and you think maybe I should have posted something, feel free to check anyway.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Emma is a big girl!

Emma went for her well baby check up last week. I can't say it was her 8 month check up because she was 8 1/2 months and 8 months isn't usually a bench mark visit. But as most people know, Emma was adopted from Vietnam and the babies in the orphanages aren't usually given vaccinations. When Emma came home she was a couple of days shy of 4 months and was sick with bronchiolitis. Ten days later she was hospitalized with RSV and spent 10 days in the hospital, 6 of which were in ICU and on a ventilator. Fun times. What was also fun was giving her history over and over again to every new nurse, resident and attending doctor and explaining that I really wasn't a lazy, neglectful mother; there really was a reason that my daughter was 4 months old and hadn't had any vaccinations. Nothing made me happier than that day in early December when she received her first shots. Well, other than her crying.

My baby is now 18lbs and 12 ozs (50th percentile) and 26 1/4 inches long (20th percentile). What can I say? My baby likes her bottles. Bottles were all she liked until a week and a half ago. Emma was 8 months old and refused any kind of baby food. I was really beginning to get worried. But then at our Easter dinner she was sitting on my lap and she was doing her usual watch me pick up food with a fork and put in in my mouth. Talk about make you paranoid while you eat! How would you feel if someone watched every bite you took with such intense interest? So this time, just one of many, I put my fork up to her mouth and tried to get her to taste what was on it. In this case it was a green bean. Amazingly enough, she ate it and wanted more. Now she's an eating machine. This afternoon for lunch she had macaroni and cheese and green beans. Yesterday it was baby diced carrots and a baby chicken stick. That's my girl. Skip baby food and just jump into big girl food.

Here she is in her new high chair that we got only a couple of days ago. I really didn't see a point in getting her a high chair if she didn't eat anything. We just put her in her Bumbo.

This was taken yesterday morning with one of her favorite foods: Cheerios. The fact that they are on her tray is a bit deceiving. It gives the appearance that she can feed them to herself. While occasionally one or two will make it into her mouth, its usually by accident. She hasn't gotten her pincher move down yet (thumb to finger) so she grabs them in her fist and then trys to get it into her mouth. It works for now. Plus they keep her busy while I stuff them one by one into her mouth.

The Bumbo worked well but the tray was pretty flimsy and was getting squirmy and could get anything around her on the table. I was starting to get worried that she would fall out of the Bumbo and roll off the table.

Emma loves her exersaucer. The girls picked this out if you couldn't tell from all the pink. Its a Tea Party exersaucer. Notice the tea pot, cake and there's a purse in front of her.

She's eating her hand because its obvious that I don't feed her enough. Note her weight above.
Emma doesn't crawl yet although we do try to entice her. We'll set her on her blanket and put toys far enough in front of her that she really has to reach for them. Occasionally she will fall forward and then be on her tummy but usually this really makes her mad and she'll cry and look at me as if she's saying "This is all YOUR fault!"

Within the next couple of days I will tell our Vietnam adoption story especially in light of all that is going on withVietnamese adoptions right now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Its official: I'm Over the Hill

I found my first gray hair.

It’s not surprising, really. I’m over, ahhm, 40, and I’ve been through some major stress over the last couple of years. I’m extremely fortunate that I don’t look my age, trust me I know! Most people find it hard to believe that I have a 20 year old son although when I look closely in the mirror I’ve started to see some lines forming. Not to mention that if I look too close I have to pull back because reading glasses are in my future. But gray hair, didn’t see that one coming.

Of course where I found this insulting discovery is another matter itself. I was at Starbucks waiting in the drive though lane. Yeah I know, you have to wonder if its cosmic justice for wasting spending so much time of my life in that drive through lane. But its common knowledge that I have a Starbucks addiction and although admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery I’m not quite ready for a 12 Step Program yet. By the way, did anyone else notice that Starbucks 3rd quarter profits decreased in 2007 and did anyone else realize that I was out of the country for about half of the 3rd quarter? Coincidence? You be the judge.

But back to my gray hair.

There I was minding my own business and looking in my rearview mirror and I see a hair that looks very much lighter in color than the hair around it. That in itself didn’t necessarily mean anything. I have very dark brown hair and do have some highlights in my hair but its been awhile since I’ve had my highlights done and this decolorized hair was obviously the same color down to the root.

“I think I found a gray hair!” I announced in an incredulous voice.

Ross was with me. I wasn’t just talking to myself although even if I had been alone I’m sure I would have done the exact same thing. “Where?” he asked, sounding just as incredulous.

I picked up the offending strand in my thumb and forefinger. “Here!”

He leaned closer to me. “That’s not a gray hair; its blond.” Ross was already becoming bored by my hysterics.

I plucked it out and held it toward him. “SEE! Its gray!!! I HAVE A GRAY HAIR!!!”

He took it from me, looked at it and tossed it out the window. “It was blond. Mom, you don’t have gray hair.”

Maybe he was right. Maybe it was blond. If I was going gray wouldn’t there be more gray hairs? But the rest of the drive home was spent mulling over the decision as to whether to color my hair when I go gray or age gracefully.

A couple of days later I had been placated into denial until waiting in the Starbucks drive through lane. As I waited I looked in the rearview mirror checking out my hair and low and behold, there was another gray hair!!! ARH! I plucked it out, more difficult this time because it was shorter than the other and pretty wirey, but once I examined it more closely there was no denying it. It was a gray hair.

I think I’ll be investing in some Miss Clairol stock.