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one year ago...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shad and I have been doing a lot of reminiscing lately...talking about all of the last minute errands, packing and emotions of a year ago.
Three-hundred sixty-five days ago tomorrow we began the journey to find our little girl.
It was the day Shad and I finally headed out to
find Maddie.
Its hard to believe its been a year. In a way it seems like a lifetime since we 'lived' in Kiev...and yet it seems like just yesterday we were riding with the
crazy cab driver through the streets of the capital city.

I've been reading Finding Maddie lately. I'm getting ready to publish Maddie's story with Blurb, and the process has forced me to revisit the emotions of the paper chase, waiting and finally the trip. Its amazing how raw and at the same time how far removed those emotions are.
A year ago, someone was missing. We felt led to go to Ukraine to find our final family member...a little girl we did not know the name of but chose to call Maddie; a child we had never met, but yet already loved as our own.
A year later our family is whole.
I've been wanting to do something special during the next few weeks to celebrate our homecoming and so I've decided to republish my blog entries here on Sage Brush Diaries over the course of the next eight weeks...unedited (except to correct spelling! :) but with authors notes about what we were experiencing and thinking during the process.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
I think it will be a learning process for all of us.
We get to revisit an incredibly joyful but painful time...experiencing the highs and lows...but with the insight only time can provide.
I hope you'll join me during the next eight weeks...and leave me comments. Let me know what you think. If you weren't with me from the very beginning this will give you some insight into what we went through (and what didn't we go through, really?!) to find Maddie. And if you were with me, I hope it will remind you of all God did for us during this awesome and trying time.
The journey starts tomorrow.
Enjoy.

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one year ago...

Shad and I have been doing a lot of reminiscing lately...talking about all of the last minute errands, packing and emotions of a year ago.
Three-hundred sixty-five days ago tomorrow we began the journey to find our little girl. It was the day Shad and I finally headed out to find Maddie.
Its hard to believe its been a year. In a way it seems like a lifetime since we 'lived' in Kiev...and yet it seems like just yesterday we were riding with the crazy cab driver through the streets of the capital city.
I've been reading Finding Maddie lately. I'm getting ready to publish Maddie's story with
Blurb, and the process has forced me to revisit the emotions of the paper chase, waiting and finally the trip. Its amazing how raw and at the same time how far removed those emotions are.
A year ago, someone was missing. We felt led to go to Ukraine to find our final family member...a little girl we did not know the name of but chose to call Maddie; a child we had never met, but yet already loved as our own.
A year later our family is whole.
I've been wanting to do something special during the next few weeks to celebrate our homecoming and so I've decided to republish my blog entries over on
Sage Brush Diaries over the course of the next eight weeks...unedited (except to correct spelling! :) but with authors notes about what we were experiencing and thinking during the process.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
I think it will be a learning process for all of us.
We get to revisit an incredibly joyful but painful time...experiencing the highs and lows...but with the insight only time can provide.
I hope you'll join me during the next eight weeks...and leave me comments. Let me know what you think. If you weren't with me from the very beginning this will give you some insight into what we went through
(and what didn't we go through, really?!) to find Maddie. And if you were with me, I hope it will remind you of all God did for us during this awesome and trying time.
The journey starts tomorrow.
Enjoy.

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saying goodbye

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Its been a month since my cousin, Melissa died in the crash, but for her immediate family the pain is still very real.
Her daughters are now out of the hospital and are getting stronger every day...so the family felt it was time to say goodbye. We will leave in a little while for her funeral and I am anticipating a pretty rough day.
Shad and I will be taking all of the children with us to the service. None of them (except for Maddie) have been to a funeral before, so I'm sure they will have a lot of questions.
They will also be meeting a TON of family members they have never even seen before.
When we lived in Kansas, we didn't make it back much...and when we did, we concentrated on seeing our immediate family.
I have a LARGE family.
I'm a little worried about all four of them getting over-stimulated.
So between the funeral, the questions and the risk of meltdowns, we're feeling a little vulnerable.
Could you pray for us?

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fun friday

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nick is always looking for ways to have fun and most of the time it involves something physical.
Nick craves motion (I'm sure its related to sensory issues - although he's not the type to spin until he hurls. His symptoms are more mild) so last Christmas Santa brought him a mini-tramp (the ones adults are supposed to use for exercise) so he could burn off extra energy.
Its helped...and a year later, all four kids still give the tramp a regular workout.
Unfortunately, it hasn't filled all of Nick's sensory needs. If he's not jumping off of something, he's rolling around on the floor.
Thankfully its generally safe
(he's not a thrill seeker), not done inappropriately and most of the time is just plain entertaining.

The minute we moved into this house three months ago, Nick found a new hobby.
Stair somersaults.


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i'm thankful for...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

In the spirit of this American holiday I wanted to share something I was supposed to be doing over on Sage Brush Diaries. I took up the challenge this month of sharing five things every day I am thankful for.
Unfortunately, I'm a slacker.
I only got three days worth done.
In my defense...with the challenge of NaBloPoMo, its been all I can do to find something to put on here everyday, let alone add five 'thankful fors' over on Sage Brush.
So...
Here's my abbreviated turkey day version of some things I am thankful for...

1. For Blogger's new 'schedule post' option. Without it I would have had to rush home this afternoon to post something so I wouldn't miss a day in my 'NaBloPoMo' challenge. I'm 27 for 27...only three more to go! :)
2. I'm technically a SAHM. Yea. It may not be forever...but I'll take it for as long as I can. Maddie has made HUGE bonding strides in the last three months. And I wouldn't trade this extra time with the kids for anything.
3. We live closer to my family. A few weeks ago we watched my nephew play in the state football semi-final game. They lost...but it was great to watch him play. It was a first. I can't wait to experience all of the other firsts in the coming year.
4. High-speed internet. What did we do in the days before we had high-speed? I never would have been able to keep up with everyone's blogs with dial-up.
5. I don't have to cook Thanksgiving dinner! For the first time in several years we will be eating with family for Thanksgiving. AND I DON'T HAVE TO COOK!
6. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Enough said.
7. Hair dye. I have resigned myself to the fact that I have to color...I just wish I could have someone do it for me. I used a new brand this month and Shad says I look like one of those Russian/Ukranian babushkas who dye their hair purple!
8. My dishwasher. Shad and I have been married almost 20 years and this is the first time I have had a dishwasher. Can I just say...I. LOVE. IT! ;>)
9. A husband who is a great father. Shad is an incredible Dad...I couldn't ask for better.
10. A free oil change. I got a great coupon in the mail today for a free oil change...the same day the oil change light came on in the Mom-mobile. How awesome is that?!
11. Sleep....glorious sleep. Isn't it a marvelous thing? Why in the world do we try to fight it as kids? What I wouldn't give to be able to take a nap while Maddie is taking a nap.
12. Family - My parents, brothers and inlaws are the best. Can I just tell you that? They love us and support us no matter what. I only hope Shad and I can raise our kids to be as wonderful as they are. (Boy! I'm getting sappy here, aren't I?)
13. Just to lighten it up - I'm glad the election is over...no matter what the results. Well, okay that last part isn't true, but it sounds all kum-by-ya, doesn't it?
14. My health. I'm pushing 40...FAST, but so far there's no sign of high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes which runs so rampantly through my family. I'm secretly hoping I take after my mother with my health - she's middle 60s and doesn't take so much as a daily multi-vitamin. Those would be some awesome genes to inherit, wouldn't they?
15. Our former church family. I keep saying I'm going to introduce you to these people and so far I haven't delivered. Sorry about that. Let's just say this small church is an example of a Biblical church family. They were so welcoming to us when we moved to Kansas and were so supportive when we decided to move away. In between they were SO good to us while we were trying to Find Maddie. My one and only regret in leaving Kansas was leaving this wonderful church family behind.
16. New Friends - I have met some wonderful people here in Wyoming. I am so glad God put them where I could find them. One in particular, Heather, has taken me under her wing. She's invited us to go swimming with them, had us over for play time and was the first to invite me to a jewelry party. She's awesome.
17. Chocolate - What can I say? I am so glad God made cocoa-beans and let the Aztecs figure out how to make it into something so incredibly sinful!
18. I've managed to not gain any weight in the last year. I don't know how I did it, because I certainly didn't watch what I ate...but I haven't gained any weight. I haven't lost any either, but let's not dwell on the negative shall we? This is supposed to be a positive post.
19. Digital Cameras - Its so nice to not have to worry about making sure a picture is 'just right' before snapping the shot. And I can't remember the last time I even thought about how many pictures I took. What did we do before the advent of digital technology?!
20. My washer and dryer - After spending six weeks in Ukraine, I will never again take my washer and especially my dryer for granted. I love them. Love them, I tell you.
21. My mom-mobile - While we're at it, I might as well sing the praises of my mini-van. Yea. I know...but again, after six weeks of riding the bus, subway or with the crazy Ukranian taxi driver...it felt awfully good to come home and drive myself around again. Really good.
22. Unlimited long-distance. Its wonderful being able to call our friends in faraway places and not having to worry about how long I talk. I can be as long-winded as I want and Shad can't complain a bit.
23. My kids. Where would I be without my kids. I love them with everything I am. Life would be so dull without them. I would go to Russia and back a lifetime of times just to have them in my life. Anyone want to support us in going back and getting a number five?! ;>)
24. Maddie is home. Last year at this time we were getting ready to go find her. Now, a year later, its so nice to have her home and enjoying so many firsts. First Halloween. First Thanksgiving...and first Christmas - at least with us. How fun! :)
25. For bone conduction hearing aides. God bless the person who invented this little miracle device. Without it Maddie's world would be so much smaller. For a refresher course, check out this video of the first time she had the hearing aid on. It opened up her world...and ours.

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easy peasy turtle candy

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In the second installment of Tami puts away her Type A...
I had the kids help me make more holiday goodness this afternoon.
Elaine, over at Looking for George, posted this HILARIOUS recipe this afternoon.

Don't think a recipe can be funny?
PLEASE go over there and check it out. I'm tellin' ya, you'll be busting a gut. Anyway...
We decided to give her recipe a try and Mmmmmm-Mmmmmm...it was good.
Here are some picture from our fun afternoon.


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cheerios moment

Be warned! You're going to need a kleenex for this one.
I first saw this commercial online a few years ago...and I loved it. But somehow over the course of the next couple of years I lost the link.
I finally saw it on another blog today and HAD to share.
While the story is changed a little in the interest of time, the emotions and the moments are very real.
Please watch it, let me know what you think...and then go give your kids a hug! :)



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maddie's first thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This year has been full of a lot of firsts...
First plane ride...
First camping trip...
First time as part of a family. :)
Today Maddie experienced another first...
Her first Thanksgiving dinner.
Maddie's preschool held their annual family Thanksgiving dinner at the center. They jammed way too many people into a room the size of my living room. We were huddled around little round tables, sitting on preschool sized chairs - the adults with their knees up to their ears...the kids giddy with excitement over the cherry pie in the middle of the table.
Maddie wasn't quite sure what to make of all the food at first. She kept eyeing the pie...pointing to it now and then and making the 'wait' motion with her hands.
'Yea, honey...just wait. You can eat some when you're done.'
Finally, the food arrived and Maddie dug in. She enjoyed just about everything, but the green bean casserole (absolute heresy, I say!)...but even snarfed that down at the promise of the precious cherry pie.
Finally, she finished, but before we could dig into the pie, the teacher had the kids stand up and sing a cute song about Thanksgiving. I frantically tried digging my camera out of my coat pocket, but didn't get to it in time...sorry.
But I did get some pics of Maddie enjoying her dinner.



Maddie never did get her cherry pie. She said she needed to go 'potty' right after her song was over...and by the time we got back they had cleared everything off our table.
She was heart-broken.
We're going to Shad's cousin's house for Thanksgiving dinner and I'm supposed to bring dessert.
I guess I know what I'll be bringing this year.

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maddie's first report card

Monday, November 24, 2008

We had our first parent/teacher conference for Maddie today and while the results weren't spectacular for a typical four year old...they were remarkable for our little girl.
Academically, Maddie is doing fine.
Mrs. C says Maddie knows her colors and can count to 10, but usually stumbles on three and five.
She is learning to recognize her name...spelling and writing it will come later.
She is being taught to use scissors, paint and glue.
She is mastering how to share, sit still and take turns.
All in all the teacher is very pleased.
Mrs. C says Maddie is a little sponge...absorbing all the new information. She says she's never seen a child so anxious to learn. (That's probably because she's never had a child who went from a deaf world to a hearing world AND had a change of language in the middle of it all! :)
Maddie is still working through a bit of a stubborn streak (What is it with my kids?!) Mrs. C says there are times when Maddie has to be convinced to do her classwork, but once she's been talked into it, she works hard to get it done.
I asked the all important, 'Will she be ready for kindergarten in two years' question...and she said Yes. It will take some work, but she is convinced we can get her ready to go.
Music to my ears.
I have been worried about it. Her language is SO delayed...and it is SO hard to understand anything she says, I'm concerned about how successful she'll be. Or more specifically, how her teachers will respond to her needs. Technically she will be eligible to start kindergarten next fall...but she will be nowhere NEAR ready.
So we'll hold her back. Give her an extra year to use her scissors, learn her letters and absorb.
And then we'll send her.
It's nice to know Maddie will have a teacher like Mrs. C to help cheer her on.

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help wanted

Today was a much quieter day...
No foreign objects in mouths...no life-threatening injuries...no comments to make milk shoot out your nose.
I kinda missed that last one.
Nope...for me, it was a quiet day of sending out resumes, doing phone interviews and scouring the internet for jobs.
Mondays and Wednesdays are MY days.
I have the mornings all to myself, and I take advantage of it.
Last Wednesday it was an uninterrupted shower.
Today it was the great job search.
I'm sure its the same everywhere. There are NO jobs here in Wyoming. At least none I'm qualified for. And the ones I AM qualified for...and might I say, highly qualified for...I'm not even getting called on for an interview.
It's so frustrating!
So when I DO get an interview, it feels like a big deal.
Yesterday was my first interview in three months of searching.
Don't get too excited. It was a phoner...more of a weeding out of resumes than anything. He said he would call next week if I make the cut of five finalists.
Sigh.
I'm not sure I really want that job anyway. It's a TV job, which would be great. Its been eight years since I've worked in TV news...and I miss it.
BUT...
I would have to drive an hour each way...through a mountain pass. Yea. Not fun, especially in the winter. I don't mind the two hours to myself, but heaven forbid gas prices skyrocket again. And it would be two more hours I wouldn't have with the kids.
IF I get offered the job, we'll have to take a serious look at whether it will be worth it.
Shad is finally coming around to my way of thinking. He's talking about part-time jobs I can do while Maddie is in preschool.
Sounds good to me. I sent a resume off yesterday for a job that sounds like it might be a good fit.
Of course I may be waiting awhile for the interview.

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tales from the kids' side

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday morning at the breakfast table...
'Dad,' Nick said. 'Maddie brushed her own teeth this morning.'
'Oh, really,' said Shad. 'That's nice.'
'Yea, Dad. And she used the new toothpaste.'
Silence.
'New toothpaste?'
'Yea, Dad. This one.'
Nick ran to the bathroom and brought back a blue tube...
It wasn't toothpaste.
Maddie had brushed her teeth with Hydrocortosone cream.
Can I just say, I LOVE having a doctor in the house?
It saves me from nervous breakdowns.
---------------------------
Tonight right before bedtime, Maddie decided Nick needed help with his puzzle. So while Shad and I were downstairs (Shad watching TV, I was doing laundry), she climbed up on the kitchen table to help.
She immediately fell off, hitting her nose on a kitchen chair, before slamming her head on the linoleum floor. (Thank goodness it wasn't tile.)
Those four years of undergrad and four years of vet school are paying off today.
---------------------
Finally, an Anya story...
Anya and her dad were talking about marriage (Anya's favorite topic right now) when Anya said...
'Hey Dad! Did you know Ms. S and Mr. Mountain (teachers) went out to eat the other day with her kids?'
'Hmmm...I thought Ms. S was married.'
'Oh no, Dad. She's not married. She's baptized.'

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friday night ice

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Back to back nights of spending one on one time with my kids.

I love it!
Last night, Anya and I went skating.
Actually, she went skating.
I watched. They didn't have skates in my size.
No...really!
Our new friends' church sponsored a free skating night at the rink...and there were TONS of people. So many, that they ran out of skates. Anya was lucky to get a pair that halfway fit.
Since I didn't have any skates, Heather's husband Chris took Anya around a few times to get her started...and then she TOOK OFF! The girl can skate! :)
After a few times around she ditched the 'walker' and tried it on her own.
I'm so proud of her.
Here are a few pictures of our evening...and for your entertainment pleasure I've included a video of something I'm SURE you don't see everyday...an ice skating cowboy.
He had the leather vest, flannel shirt, bandana around the neck, handlebar mustache and wide brimmed hat. The only thing missing were the Nocona boots...and I'm sure they were waiting for him in his locker.
And he wasn't the only one. There were no less than five cowboys out there gliding across the frozen water.
Some days I am convinced we are living on the set of a wild west movie. :)

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school pictures

Friday, November 21, 2008

These came home with the kids today, so I thought I would share.
Alek, Anya and Nick are growing up WAY too quickly for me...but they sure are cuties! :)


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speech therapy, ieps and basketball, oh my!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How did I do it?
When I worked full time how did I get all of this stuff done?
You've had this kind of day, I'm sure. You run from dawn to dusk and beyond and at the end can't figure out what you accomplished.
That's me.
It started off with speech therapy for Maddie here at the house.
Thursdays are always a little stressful for me. I somehow have to clean a weeks worth of mess up in just a few hours. Why not clean the night before, you ask?
I have four kids.
Enough said.
So I cleaned this morning, the speech pathologists arrived around noon...
and the fun began.
Maddie is starting to really push our buttons. I don't know if its a late reaction to all of her life changes, if she's just getting more comfortable and is searching for her boundaries, or if she's bored...but the girl is really starting to act out during speech.
She jumps up and runs around, plays when she's supposed to be working on her sounds and doesn't listen at all.
Listening is kind of important when your learning to speak more clearly.
I tried ignoring it and letting the speech teacher deal with it ...it didn't help.
I left the room for a few minutes to see if I was the trigger...it didn't help.
I even tried disciplining...which helped for a few minutes.
Patience, Tami, patience.
---------------------
IEP meetings are not for the faint of heart.
Especially if you're dragging your four kids with you.
Today was Anya's annual review, so after school I sat down with the teacher, her speech pathologist, the audiologist and the student teacher.
After sending my four kids to the four corners of the room
(in hopes it would help them keep quiet, HA~!) I sat down at the tiny table, in the tiny chairs for the not so tiny review.
It took an hour and a half...90 minutes. I think that's the longest review I've ever had...and I've gone through quite a few of them.
Anyway...
Anya is doing great in speech. She is self-correcting now, which means its only a matter of time before she won't need speech anymore. She's stoked and I'm thrilled for her.
But the meeting also proved to me there are more issues emerging for my little Anya.
We've noticed for awhile Anya 'shuts down' when she gets overwhelmed with information. I thought it was just her emotional nature and as she matured, I hoped she would learn to CUT. IT. OUT.
But tonight the teacher shared some more things with me that, combined with the homework fiasco from the other night, has convinced me there may be some more issues she's dealing with.
So we're checking into Auditory Processing Disorder.
APD affects the way auditory information is processed in the brain. Kids with APD sometimes can and other times can not process verbal information. They may be able to repeat the words back word for word, but the meaning is lost. And it doesn't help to repeat the instructions.
APD is incredibly common in post-institutionalized children. Alek has it...and Anya's symptoms are exactly the same, except for the way they handle the disconnect.
Alek zones out. He'll fix his attention on an object and daydream.
Anya either shuts down and refuses to do any more work...or she breaks down and cries. (Thankfully, she has only had one breakdown at school).
I'm anxious to find out the test results. If it truly is APD, it could mean a world of difference to Anya. The exercises, tips and coping skills they have taught Alek have made a huge difference in how much he is picks up in the class.
A BIG difference.
There are also some preferential things written into his IEP that forces the teacher to pay a little extra attention to him to make sure he's 'getting' it. He sets in a specific place in the classroom and the teacher checks to make sure he understands any directions for tests.
It doesn't single him out in the classroom...but it gives him the extra help he needs.
We are writing those extra helps into Anya's IEP.
I can't wait to see what difference it makes.
--------------------------
To wrap things up last night Alek and I went to a basketball game.
Not just ANY basketball game.
A college women's basketball game.
Now, why would I be taking my BOY to a GIRL's game?
Because his little league football coach is the women's coach.
He thought it was SO cool.
And the ladies won, which made it even better.
100 to 74.
Pretty cool way to end the day.
Afterall, how many times do you see a ladies' team score 100 points?!

And how often to I get to spend quality one on one time with my big guy?! :)

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NaBloPoMo

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I did that 'this, that and the other thing' blog too soon.

Now I don't have anything to write about today! And I NEED something to write about.
I'm trying to do the NaBloPoMo thing this month and if I don't get something down for today, I'll be a horrible, miserable failure!
Wait! I can count this post as a post, right?!
Tell me I can count this as a post! I'd better be able to count it, because there's nothing else going on around here.
Well, there is, but I don't have time to write about it right now.
I'll fill you in tomorrow.
I promise.

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this, that and the other thing

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I have a few odds and ends filling my post queue so I thought I would cram them all into one big post. Hope ya'll don't mind.

CREME DE LA CREME


Mel over at Stirrup Queens has an annual list. A bloggy list. A list that celebrates all stages of infertility. Since we are infertility survivors I decided to join in on the fun.
The way you get on the list is to send Mel a link of what you think your best blog is over the course of the last year. Not what others may think is your best. What YOU think is the best.
And then she publishes it.
Its not a contest...you're not going UP against anybody. Its just a celebration of all the blogs devoted to infertility, adoption, IVF, etc.
Cool, huh?
So, anyway...I sent over a couple of links. From Finding Maddie I sent the post 'Rough and Tumble' and from Sunflower Seeds I sent Shattered Security.
You should give it a try. Send Mel your favorite.
The list comes out Jan 1.

INSPIRATION AWARD

My friend MamaPoRuski over at Slava Bogu! gave me this award a month ago, and I have been meaning to pass it along...

So I hereby bestow the Journey Inspiration Blog Award to Jessica, Elaine and Christina. These ladies are a huge source of inspiration and encouragement to me on this adoption/parenting journey. Thank you ladies!
And there are so many more of you who I haven't mentioned...I just may hand this one out again! :)

NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT

And finally...some news.
No...we're not adopting again. I can't convince Shad...besides, our checkbook is still reeling from Maddie's adoption, our move this summer and my jobless situation. I doubt there will be any new children in our future.
No, the news is much more...ummm...educational in nature.
I have been invited to join some other bloggers on a political blog. Makes me feel kind of important...especially if you see the caliber of writers I'll be working with. Makes me want to pull a Wayne and Garth and shout, "I'M NOT WORTHYYYYYY."
But I won't.
I'll let you know when I get my first post done. I'm debating a couple of topics, but haven't settled on anything yet although I need to get cracking. My co-bloggers are going to think I'm not holding up my end of the bargain! :)
So for those of you who lean my political way...please come join us at All the News That Fits.
And for those of you who don't share my political bent...that's okay. I still love and respect you.
And I'd love to have you join the conversation.
It takes all kinds to make a democracy go around.

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too sick or not too sick...

Monday, November 17, 2008

That was the question this morning.

Was Alek too sick to go to school...or not too sick.
I decided to err on the side of caution and keep him home. After all, his temp was a whopping 99.5. ;>) ...and after two days of laying (lying? - which is it by the way?!) around doing nothing, I thought he could use an extra day to recover. Besides, when he does get sick it usually gets a little worse later in the morning. I wouldn't want him to get to school only to take a turn for the worse.
I was bamboozled.
Yea...the boy had a minor temp. But he wasn't sick! He was fine. I should have just pumped him full of ibuprofen and sent him on his way.
Instead I had pity on him.
I think I'm getting soft.
The thing is, he was TECHNICALLY sick. But if you could have been here, you would have had a hard time seeing it.
My rule is, if you're home, you're in bed.
Sorry...
No TV.
No Playstation.
No movies.
You lay on your bed where sick people are supposed to be. You can read. You can sleep. You can play quiet toys and you can eat and drink.
But this is NOT a vacation.
Yea. I'm a meanie.
Or at least the boy thinks I am. He spent the ENTIRE day complaining about having to spend the day on his bed. He snuck out of his room at least five times in search of something to do. (As if I couldn't hear him).
He went through seven glasses of juice and water this morning...which of course led to extended bathroom breaks.
He had Maddie bring him toys... she chose babies, necklaces and fingernail polish. ;>)
And you should have heard the wail when I told him he had to take a nap! :)
Finally his bedroom exile ended around three when Nick and Anya got home from school. You would have thought he was getting let out of prison. He ran around with his brother playing indoor football, building forts and tormenting his sisters.
No complaints at all.
Just after supper the metamorphasis began. He started complaining of a sore throat, tracked down the thermometer to take his temp and coughed anytime you looked at him.
Ummm....yea Alek. Not happening.
I'm soft, but not that soft.

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virus 4 - humans 2

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We've been hit again.

This time Alek is down for the count with the flu.
If you know Alek, you know...he NEVER gets sick.
Ever.
The poor guy has been laying (lying?) around all weekend, which is SO unlike him. He usually spends most of his weekend playing outside.
He hasn't gotten off the couch all weekend.
Alek marks the fourth person in our family to come down with this nasty bug. And when I say 'nasty' I mean NASTY. It starts out with a really sore throat, which lasts for two days, followed by the aches and fever which last at least three more. After that you're left weak for at least a few days more.
Nasty stuff.
This is the same stuff Shad, Maddie and I were hit with a couple of weeks ago.
Alek is just finishing day two of the fever. I didn't realize he had the sore throat, and sent him to school on Thursday and Friday, thereby contaminating his whole fifth grade class, I'm sure.
The thing is, I know if Alek has come down with it, its just a matter of time before Anya and Nick come down with it. Nick comes down with EVERY fever within 10 miles of us.
Sooooo....
If you don't hear from me for awhile, just know I'm nursing my poor babies back to health. I just pray we don't start another round of this for the six of us.
THAT would be bad.

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follow me

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I just love the newest blogger gizmo...the 'follow' a blog option. It's neat seeing the faces of all my bloggy friends who are following along.
But there's only 12 listed...and I KNOW there are more than that out there. The other day I had 180 hits!
So, could you humor me and add me to your 'follow' list?
You'd be doing me a favor. I know I'm not supposed to covet what my neighbors have (even if they are virtual), but I admit it. I'm jealous! ;>)
Rachel has 19...and MamaPoRuski has 13!
Let's see how many we can get. Maybe 20, 30...hey, let's just throw caution to the wind and go for 50! :)
What do you say?

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mmmmm......cookies

Friday, November 14, 2008

This is what we woke up to this morning.
Snow.
We've had snow every morning for the last week.
I love it! Yea. Sick, I know. But there is something about the first few snows of the season that are so refreshing.
Anyway...
It put me in the mood for baking.
So...
We had fun this afternoon.
I let go of my Type A personality for just a little while and had the kids help me make cookies.

All four of them have been asking lately if they can help in the kitchen...usually when it involves a hot stove. Instead of risking third degree burns, I decided to start out with something basic...
and yummy!
Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies.
Can I get an MMMMMmmmmm?!
I LOVE these cookies, but for some reason I never make them except during the holidays.
Today we got an early start on the holidays. ;>)

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progress report - 9 months

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We've passed the nine month mark since bringing Maddie home and I have to honestly tell you - it feels like she's always been a part of our family.
Its weird how it works.
I was telling my sister-in-law, Valerie the other day...with the three older children it took about six months to feel like they were really mine (in a nobody is going to take them away, kind of way) a year to reach a new normal...and two years to get to the point where I couldn't remember life without them.
I'm already past all of those marks with Maddie.
She is honestly and truly a ready-made fit for this family.
Anyway...you didn't come here to listen to me get all sappy.
You came for an update...so here you go!

SCHOOL TIME

Its been a month since Maddie started preschool, and while I still have some concerns about how overstimulated she gets...and her inability to calm down, I have to say it has done wonders for her speech.
This kid is talking.
And we're starting to understand her!
Just the other day she told me, 'Not right now. Wait.'

Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I'll take it.
She was using new words!
Correctly!
She's been working a lot lately on the endings of her words. She usually sounds a lot like a toddler...dropping the end of almost every word in her vocabulary.
Truck is tru...
Dog is daaa...
Kitty is calini...I have no idea where she gets that one.
It makes understanding her incredibly difficult.
But now she's starting to add those endings.
Today at speech, truck was actually 'truck'.
And cat was caaaa-t.
Progress.
BUILDING THE BONDS
The best part is, I don't think preschool is impacting Maddie’s bonding.
She's coming along. Slowly...but surely.
Valerie told me last weekend every time she sees us, she sees progress. A huge comfort, coming from another international adoptive parent. I’m too close to Maddie to see the little steps she’s making...but Valerie says she's noticing some big changes, especially Maddie seeking me out, looking for me when she needs me.
I hadn't thought about that, but she's right. She does seek me out for comfort, for answers and just to say hi! ;>)
After that talk, I started noticing a few things too....
The other night I read through the early blogs - the ones where I talked about Maddie working to get away from us to go to other adults.
That is a thing of the past.
Maddie doesn't try to get away from us at all anymore…in fact we’ve moved “mostly’ past the stage where she runs up to other adults at all. She still isn’t afraid to talk to adults, but she isn’t seeking them out, holding up her hands to be held or sticking her nose on their nose, trying to get their attention.
She is even starting to show some signs of being hesitant around adults.
For the first time the other day someone said Hi! to her and she hid behind my leg.
I about jumped for joy! While we certainly don't want to squash her outgoing personality...we do want her to be a little more reserved, instead of just running up and hugging absolutely anyone on the street.
I think she is starting to realize these people are strangers.
And what's really big is she’s just now starting to look to us to see if it is okay to engage with someone new.
THAT is huge!
We're still having some small issues...
ROCK 'N ROLL
Maddie still rocks.
It hasn't subsided at all.
I wouldn't worry about it, except it leaves Maddie's hair a matted mess AND since she shares a room (we have a three bedroom house) Anya ends up having trouble sleeping at night because of all the noise.
So we've started a new bedtime routine.
As Maddie's getting ready for bed we put a ponytail in her hair. The thought is, if she does rock it won't leave her hair in knots AND hopefully it will keep her from rocking in the first place.
It looks like it may be working...at least a little bit. Her hair isn't as knotted in the morning. I need to talk to Anya about whether its any easier to sleep.
If that doesn't work I'm going to head to Wally World to get a tennis ball to put in the back of her sleeper. I've heard it really cuts down on the rocking.
The other thing we're doing is a lot more cuddle/rocking time.
After she's dressed for bed, teeth brushed and potty stuff is done, Maddie and I sit in her dark bedroom and rock.
And rock.
And rock.
Sometimes with music...other times without. She loves the extra cuddle time...and I'm hoping it will help replace the rocking that she seeks when she sleeps.
I'll let you know how it goes.
-----------------------
Above: Maddie LOVES to pretend she's reading. She'll grab anything that looks halfway interesting, climb up on the couch and start jabbering to herself, while her finger follows the text. This morning I caught her at the breakfast table (notice the cereal bar - her reward for finishing her cereal) reading the paper! ;>) Finally, a kid after my own heart.

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Becca said...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I am amazed at the irrational train of thought the post (fury) and the subsequent comments contained. Of course, some topics are more sensitive
for some children than others, but to immediately fly off the handle is not helping anything. Part of being different is learning how to cope with that
difference. -- Becca

-----------------------------
Emotions.
That's where it comes from.
Emotions and fear.
You've heard of fight or flight.
This was flight or blog.
A friend of mine recently reminded me of a conversation we had where I told her blogging was my "drug of choice".
I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs.
I eat chocolate...and I blog.
And sometimes when emotions, chocolate, fear and blogging collide, you end up with a pretty honest, gut-checking post.
And that's what 'Fury' was.
Honest.
Gut-checking.
Raw.
The way it was meant to be.
Thankfully, I do have self-control. I would NEVER respond to someone like that face to face. My conversation with Anya's teacher was respectful, engaging and productive. We came to a compromise and an understanding.
But my blog is just that...my blog. And when I write, I lay it all out. Emotions, fear and all. I supposed I could have chosen another title for the blog, which would have toned down the apparent emotions. And I probably could have waited until I calmed down to sit down and type, but it would have just watered down my initial, guttural response to the assignment. And it wouldn't have been honest.
Part of blogging for me is the cathartic exercise of writing. It helps me think things through. As you can tell from the very next post, I was able to come to a more rational place within the next few hours.
No one but my husband and my readers, saw my initial response.
The way I meant it to be.
I admit. I have a tendency to get emotionally charged about issues that I care deeply about. I guess it comes from the temper that I inherited from my father.
I would call it an Irish temper...but we're German.
But...
While I may be emotionally charged inside...I try to keep a pretty even keel on the outside. What you were hearing was the internal battle I was facing.
Another reason I blog is to educate those around me.
Becca...I agree. Part of being different is learning how to cope with being different. We deal with that daily with Maddie. Her ears are not considered 'normal'...they look different...and people notice. Her speech is hard to understand...people make comments. Part of the job God has given Shad and I as parents is to teach our children there is no such thing as normal...and that we are all beautiful in God's eyes. This is how He created us...and we embrace it. We are teaching Maddie and our other three children, how to respond to those who can't look past her 'disability.'
But I don't think my children's adoption story makes them 'different.' That's not what this was all about.
We share their adoption stories with them all of the time. Its a part of our normal, daily conversations. Just the other day on the way home from school (on Anya's birthday) we talked about what the weather must have been like in Russia on the day she was born.
HOWEVER, there is a huge difference between sharing the story within the family and sharing the story with 20 of her peers...and their families. The school district shouldn't be in the business of forcing children to share something so incredibly personal.
AND there are SERIOUS extenuating circumstances in Anya's history that make this assignment difficult. Circumstances I will not go into on this blog, I won't share with her teacher and we won't be discussing with Anya until we feel she is emotionally ready to handle it.
But the assignment, as it was written, would have forced the discussion...unless of course we wanted to lie to our daughter or teach her it is okay to lie - which is unconscionable.
This discussion doesn't even begin to touch the subject of why the unit is being done in the first place. It seems to me her teacher is using the excuse of 'creativity' to delve into some serious social issues that have no place in the educational system. It is the parent's job to teach their children about these kinds of things...within the safe confines of their home, in line with their religious beliefs, in the timing of their choosing.
Just because other parents aren't doing their jobs, doesn't mean I should be stripped of the right to do mine.
Becca, I do want to thank you for signing your name, and for phrasing your comments in a honest, but respectful manner.
(At least I am choosing to interpret them that way.) I hope I am returning the favor in this post. But I have to say...I have read and re-read 'Fury' mulling it over to see if I would change anything.
And I wouldn't.
I don't think it was irrational.
It was honest.
It was emotional.
And yes, it was raw.
But it was also well thought out and real.
I don't tend to be an irrational person.
Except in my love of chocolate.

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dance party

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Every once in awhile we have dance night here at the _____ house.
Dad lays down the 70s and 80s hits off his mp3...and the rest of us dance our tails off. No rules to this dance party. Just have fun. And we do.
Until Shad and I start feeling old.
Last night we were shaking our tails to "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor and thoroughly enjoying the beat when Nick yelled...
'Hey Dad! That's the song from 'Chicken Little.'
Um...Yea, Nick. It is.

(I couldn't find the Chicken little version of 'I will survive' on You Tube - but I thought you would enjoy this one too. Same concept. ;)

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cooling down

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm much better this morning. Its amazing what 24 hours can do, isn't it?

We've talked with Anya and she says she wants to share her story with her classmates.
I'm not completely sure she understands the implications, but I'm going to take her word for it.
And pray.
I had a quick chat with the teacher this morning. While she was excited about Anya sharing her story, she agreed to keep an eye on her and follow her lead. If, at any point, Anya starts to get squeamish or shuts down, we will pull back and re-evaluate.
Parts of the project require peer evaluation and Q&A. If Anya isn't comfortable sharing the story with her classmates, she will be able to do the evaluation and Q&A with the teacher.
She can also opt out of the presentation in front of parents at a Tea in the spring.
The teacher also showed me the books she will be reading to the kids in the upcoming weeks. The books look pretty good. I'm not uncomfortable with anything as it relates to adoption. There are some books on social issues I'm concerned with, but we'll make sure to talk about all of the books with her. Thankfully, there are no plans to do anything about same-sex parents this year...but its not out of the realm of possibility in the future. (Note to self - keep an eye on it, and start looking seriously at other education possibilities.)
There is one book that talks about an internationally adopted child's three names. The one she was born with, the one the orphanage gave her and the one the parents gave her. It will require a conversation, but I don't think it will be a bad one.
Besides...we can't protect her forever, can we? We can't shelter her from all this stuff. If we did, we wouldn't be doing her any favors.
These are conversations we are going to have to have. I just wish we would have had more warning so we could have had a plan. I still feel this is a huge can of worms just waiting to split wide open, but with the teachers' help we should be able to keep the lid on.
I hope.

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I'm thankful...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

1. That we now live closer to my family. Yesterday we watched my nephew play in the state football semi-final game. They lost...but it was great to watch him play. It was a first.
2. For high-speed internet. What did I do in the days before I had high-speed? I never would have been able to keep up with everyone's blogs with dial-up.
3. That Maddie is home. Last year at this time we were getting ready to go find her. Now, a year later, its so nice to have her home and enjoying so many firsts. First Halloween. First Thanksgiving...and first Christmas - at least with us. How fun! :)
4. I don't have to cook Thanksgiving dinner! For the first time in several years we will be eating with family for Thanksgiving. AND I DON'T HAVE TO COOK!
5. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Enough said.
6. Hair dye. I just wish I could have someone do it for me. I used a new brand this month and Shad says I look like one of those Russian/Ukranian babushkas who dye their hair purple! ;P
7. My dishwasher. Shad and I have been married almost 20 years and this is the first time I have had a dishwasher. Can I just say...I. LOVE. IT! ;>)
8. A husband who is a great father. Shad is an incredible Dad...I couldn't ask for better.
9. A free oil change. I got a great coupon in the mail today for a free oil change...the same day the oil change light came on in the Mom-mobile. How awesome is that?!
10. For sleep. Isn't it a marvelous thing? Why in the world do we try to fight it as kids? What I wouldn't give to be able to take a nap while Maddie is taking a nap.

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fury

I can't even begin to describe to you how angry I am right now.
Perhaps using words like...beside myself, boiling, corybantic, crazed, desperate, enraged, fit to be tied, frantic, fuming, hacked, hopping mad, incensed, infuriated, livid, maddened, on the warpath, raging, smoking, steamed, up in arms, vehement...will give you an idea.
Yep. That pretty much covers it.
This afternoon we found the following note from Anya's teacher Mrs. B in Anya's backpack....

Dear 2nd grade parents/guardians,

This week we began a unit on families, which will continue through January. We began reading the book "Love is a Family" by Roma Downey and discussing how families come in all shapes and sizes.
The Family Cultures unit will focus on a variety of families found within our
second grade community.
The goal of the Family Cultures unit is to get students to delve deeply into their own family cultures and family support is essential. This unit will consist of four main projects including a paper Family Culture quilt, birth story, name story and family memory presentation....

For those of you who aren't adoptive parents, and may not have caught what has me so riled up. Let me highlight it for you...

This unit will consist of four main projects including a paper Family Culture quilt, BIRTH STORY, name story and family memory presentation....
WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD. ARE. THEY. THINKING?!!!!!
They want Anya to share her 'birth story'?
BIRTH STORY?!
What birth story?!
We don't know her 'birth story'! She doesn't have a 'birth story'!
AUGHGHGHGH!!!!!!!
What do they want us to share?!! That she was left at the hospital...or maybe found at the orphanage gates? What about wrapped up in a curtain and left in a meat market during the middle of winter?
Do they want us to share how she lived in the hospital for the first month of her life or how the birth family let her starve for the first six months of her life until she was a skeleton. Or maybe how she was left to cry herself to sleep in a crib with lead paint to gnaw on!
How are those birth stories?!
None of these tales are specific to Anya, but every last one of them is true for internationally adopted children in general.
Take your pick.
My kids have never been ashamed of their adoption. They think its cool...and up until the last few years thought everyone went to Russia/Ukraine/China to adopt their children. They've never hesitated in telling people where they're from...they are proud of it. But we have always made sure they know the story is their story to share or not to share.
It's THEIR decision.
If we don't do something Anya would be forced to face some things she may or may not be ready to face or share with anyone.
Can you imagine?
And there's more...
If Anya were allowed to continue this assignment (as it is now written) we would be forced to share some information from her background we do not feel she is ready to handle yet. Things we shouldn't HAVE to share with her yet.
And the BEST part of all of this is...
THEY'VE ALREADY STARTED THE UNIT!
Without consulting anyone, they've dived head-long into this series that could totally shake Anya's world!
ARGH!!!!!
And I'm sure Anya isn't the only one.
What about kids in foster care?
What about children who's parent(s) have died?
What about Maddie who is an absolute blank slate?
Hmmmm????
I just sent the following email to Mrs. B...

'I would like to set up a time to sit down and talk with you about this family culture unit, before the unit begins. Shad and I have some serious concerns about how this unit will affect Anya and what her level of participation should be.'
See? I was calm, cool, collected and civil. I didn't go postal on her.
But I wanted to. While I may be calm, cool, collected and civil on the outside, I am boiling on the inside.
She knows Anya's history. While she doesn't know everything, she certainly knows Anya was adopted from Russia at a young age. And she absolutely knows how weird kids are about anyone who is different. Why didn't she talk to us BEFORE starting this. Why didn't she say something to us just two weeks ago at parent/teacher conference?!
And why, in the 21st century, do we still have to deal with this stuff?
Better yet...why do we wait until Sunday afternoons to open their backpacks?! Now I have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to get this taken care of!
AUUUUUUUUGH!
------------------------
Edited to add: Alright, I was wrong. She doesn't have three heads and is not the devi! incarnate. Mrs. B. just called. Thankfully she was open and receptive to our concerns. She has another internationally adopted child in her classroom and says she feels horrible about not anticipating how this would affect the girls. She is willing to talk with us about changing the assignments (before they're given to the children) as not to single the girls out. Funny thing is, adoption is part of the curriculum for this unit.
So while she isn't entirely horrible - she should have known better. I certainly hope she's learned something through this. I know I have. From now on, I will quiz each teacher at the beginning of the year to see if assignments like this are planned - if so, we'll have a little talk.

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