Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014, May you be much less exciting!

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Here is the 2013 jar of mementos.

It shows the tickets as the evidence of our growing interest in hockey, and more specifically the Ducks.

It has the tag from the marathon that I would have run if it wasn't for the biggest surprise of the year...finding out that we were pregnant with little Remington! Along that line, there is also the receipt from birth class, and his hospital tag from his Thanksgiving cut on the head, not from his birth, which was at home.

There are the tickets from our flights home with Grace back in March, and all of the significance that those carry with them as we became parents for the first time!

The only other little mementos are the ticket from the OC Fair in the summer, and a ticket stub from one of the two movies that Blake and I were able to see without the kids- World War Z (the other was Hunger Games:Catching Fire, but that stub didn't get in there).

Looking back over the year's blogs and moments:

January was mostly marked by a huge shift for me as I stopped teaching, waited for news about Grace, and let the news and knowledge of being pregnant sink in. I had a lot of downtime, and I wasn't used to the expectations of being a wife without also having the responsibilities of a job.

February brought a huge ray of light as we got the news Grace's passport was ready and we were able to schedule her visa interview. We also got to share with family and friends about our pregnancy, and we celebrated Grace's upcoming arrival with the shower for her.

March was one of the most exciting months of the year, as we had the up moment of the visa interview, the down moment when we heard we needed to send more information before it would be approved, the up moment of getting the approval, followed by the down moment that there was no escort for the trip, followed by the up moment of actually bringing her home! Talk about a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Looking back at the March pictures and videos, I can't believe how much she has grown since then! Bigger, taller, less skin and bone, gone from crawling to running, gone from a few words to over 50 and putting phrases together, sadness to laughing and smiling most of the time. We are so blessed to have her home!

April, May, June, July, August are all marked by just seeing her smile more, do more, and just thrive in her new home. It isn't about the specific events, but about the sweet memories of being a mom.

There are some cool moments of seeing Remington move inside my belly, and now knowing the little boy who was making those movements way back then.

September brought our son and made us parents of two!

He has been such an easy baby, even the challenges of having two kids haven't been as bad as they could, and he brings so much fun too... even if he is growing too fast.

October brought Grace's first birthday party, and November was marked by our Thanksgiving "fun" with his cut, and all of my new forays into doing Grace's hair. December was filled with all of the Christmas activities that I dreamed about doing with kids for years.

Previous years, my new year's eve look back was about the "stuff" that I did...this year... it's really about my kids. It is a whole paradigm shift, where my most enjoyment comes from seeing them as they grow and change. I have a love hate relationship with the changes, where I am so happy for their progress, but I miss their helplessness too... and I bet that won't get any easier.

As much as 2013 radically changed my life in more positive ways than I could have ever expected at the end of 2012, I am rooting for 2014 to be a much calmer year. I hope for a year filled with great times with the kids and family... and no huge life altering changes. :-D

Gotta end the year with some little ones being their cute selves:
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas with kids

Christmas with kids was filled with glee,
I couldn't wait for Grace to see what was under the tree.
At each family gathering there were presents galore,
Each filled with gifts they hoped the kids would adore.
Rem watched or slept as the wrapping was undone,
But later would find his new toys quite fun.
Grace knew how to get to the good stuff inside,
Though her frustration about waiting to play she did not hide.
I got gifts that will definitely be kept,
But Remmy gave the best when he just slept.
We were blessed for our families to share in the fun,
And we look forward to next year when our kids will be three and one.
And now without further ado,
Here are the pictures promised to you.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Oh, the Difference a Year Makes

I promise the next post will be full of pictures... because this one doesn't have any. I have a rare opportunity to be on the computer, and not on my phone, and while this is great for typing reasons, it is less helpful as far as pictures (which are all on my phone). C'est la vie.

I have this rare moment because my two beautiful children are both asleep for naptime, both in their beds. I almost never have a moment when I am not attached to one of the two of them.

As I walked away from their rooms, I was struck by how wonderfully, crazily different this year is from last year. I even spent some time reading my blogs from this time last year. You know, when I had no kids? When I was HOPING for one child?

Yet, here I am, just one short year later, putting two precious little ones down for their nap.

It isn't always easy. At 11:30 today, I was in quite the bad mood because Grace had been having a screaming tantrum since 11, which meant that she also had an accident even though she had gone multiple days since her last one. Her tantrum was just because she wanted socks on... but wasn't going to get them herself. (I was nursing Remington, and besides she could easily get those socks off the ground where she had taken them off earlier against my specific instructions not to.) To make matters worse, as I dealt with Grace's accident, Remington started to cry.

But at the end of the day (when they are asleep again) I know I am blessed. I love seeing Grace laugh, run, and talk, and I marvel at how far she has come from when we first met her. I love seeing Remington's sweet smile, and his efforts to roll over (he is sooo close!) and hearing his baby babble. I love seeing Grace as a sister, Blake as a dad, my parents as grandparents. I love so much about being a mom, and most of it I can't even put into words. Something that is the very essence of being a parent, and is wrapped up in the love that you have for them that has nothing to do with their actions. Something that is what makes you know, without a doubt, that you would do anything for your kids, take any pain to keep them from pain, and you wish so much for their happiness that your own happiness doesn't seem quite as important.

After so many years of waiting to be a mom, it is surreal that that time is here, and in the first year of being a mom I have two kids, and one is a toddler!

In a very short time, just a few weeks from now, I will have not taught for a year, and that is so strange to me too. Parenting is so different than teaching. A good friend and previous coworker once told me that being a parent makes you a better teacher, and being a teacher makes you a better parent.

My ratio is way better as a parent...but my kids need me so much more that I don't feel like it is better. My days lack the structure they used to, and I kind of miss that. In theory, that is up to me to change...but at least at this point, I don't think I could add the structure. Plans change due to dr. appointments, sicknesses that come up, and the various errands that arise. Days totally at home do have some structure...but not much.

Blake still has scars from last year's explosion, but otherwise, as far as Blake goes, life is back to normal.

I know that in some ways you can always be surprised by the difference a year makes, but I have a feeling that the end of 2012 to 2013 will be one of the biggest in my life.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Special Needs Parent

Most of the time I don't feel like a special needs parent. I feel that title is reserved for those parents whose child requires special attention, help and care all the time, even into adulthood. I am thankful that there are people out there who are willing and able to be those parents. I am thankful too, that Grace, most of the time doesn't act like a special needs child.

We can go days, weeks, even sometimes months where we all allow ourselves to forget that Grace has special needs. She plays, laughs, runs, and can be really independent.

But every time she has a fever, that illusion disappears. An otherwise healthy child, with a fever, takes Tylenol, and then rests at home, until it passes. Grace doesn't get that luxury.

Every time she has a fever she has to go to the doctor, where she gets her blood drawn, gets an IV put in, and gets antibiotics. Sometimes this is in an emergency room, sometimes urgent care, and sometimes at her pediatric hematologist's office, but no matter where we go, we know it will be hours before we get to go back home.

Depending on the results of her blood test, she either stays overnight or gets to go home for the night... only to be back the next day, for more antibiotics and ANOTHER blood draw.

Sometimes that can be the end of it... but if her symptoms continue, we go back another day... for more antibiotics, and sometimes more blood drawn.

Also, our main doctor for all of this is 30 minutes away from us when there is no traffic, and there frequently is traffic coming or going from the appointment.

These days... I do feel like a special needs parent. There is nothing I wish more than to be able to rescue Grace from all of this, and allow her the privilege to just stay home, rest and get better.

But at the same time, there is never a time that I regret Blake and I choosing to adopt her, knowing that she had these health challenges. If she didn't get adopted out of that orphanage, there is a very real, scary possiblity that she would not be living at this moment.

Consider for a moment that our precious little girl weighed only 13 pounds when we brought her home at 17 months old... my not quite 3 month old boy weighs that already! In that little, tiny, undernourished body, she was battling at least 3 major health concerns that we know of, and was likely not getting any medical care for any of them.

If we weren't willing to adopt her, this sweet, precious, fun, wonderful girl, who has a huge personality when she isn't sick, might not live to the age of five.

It makes me think about all of the people who feel moved enough to adopt, which is a great thing all by itself, but are only willing to adopt healthy kids. I know there is a need for that, but there is also a huge need for the ones who aren't healthy or who will face challenges their whole life.

Every special needs parent knows that their child is worth every ounce of extra effort they require. These special souls more than compensate for their challenges with all of the good they bring to us. Also, you never doubt that you are making a difference in someone's life, that you, personally, have made someone else's life better.

People outside of the loop call her lucky for having us, but anyone who has adopted a child know that it is the opposite, we are lucky... no BLESSED... to have her!

I love seeing her smile, her laugh, her raised eyebrows. It brings me so much joy to see her grow and progress, going from not being able to stand by herself to running!

I don't like the days that she is sick, or the drives to the doctors, or canceling plans with friends, but I never think that my life would be better without all of that.

If you got this far, I am going to get on my soapbox. Consider making room in your home for one more, because for every child that is adopted, both domestically and abroad, there are hundreds, if not thousands, waiting for home. Sweet kids that desperately wish to have someone to love them.

And if you are open to adoption... consider being open to a special needs child. I won't guarantee it will be easy... actually I am willing to say that it won't... but it will be worth it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pee school and Holiday "Fun" with Kids

Pee school has overall been going really well. Friday and Saturday Grace got some chips every time she was successful, and it worked great as motivation.

So great, in fact, that not only was she able to hold it in between, she figured out the system, and started asking to pee immediately after finishing her chips from the previous trip! She would repeat this multiple times until the inevitable happened, and she could no longer squeeze any little drips out. Then she got upset, and dealt with the disappointment in two different ways: she asked for help (which we obviously couldn't give) or she decided to wait until she could go (we kept asking if she was done, and she said no).

We decided today to eliminate the chips to try to avoid the trips immediately after the last trip, and the ensuing frustration. We continued to give copious praise, but there would be no more material rewards. We also went on some trips out of the house.

Our first trips to church and breakfast went well, and she stayed dry.

While we were at the local mall for breakfast, we decided to take the kids to see Santa. This did not go as well as hoped...the line was long, so my parents had to help keep the kids happy while I held our place in line.

When at Santa, Grace completely refused to get anywhere near him. Not only by herself, but even sitting on my dad's lap near him wasn't okay. Long story short, we got a picture of Remington with Santa. Though, it was pretty cute, to show no hard feelings, Grace did wave and say, "Bye."

As much as the picture would have been cute, it is a good thing that Grace isn't willing to just go to any stranger and sit on their laps.

Pee school was a little rocky this afternoon, where there was one moment where she told us a little too late, but at least she told us.

We did decide to get our tree today too, and it closes at dark, so almost immediately after Blake arrived home with groceries, we took off, so we could get there on time.

We like this place to get our tree because it is one of the places where the tree is growing until you pick it and then it is cut down for you. We like supporting this place for green reasons as well as for the fact that our fresh cut trees last a lot longer than the ones we used to get from a lot.

But leaving so quickly caused some problems. Problem 1- Remmy hadn't been fed for a bit because he had been sleeping, a fact that he realized on the half hour drive there...and complained about for much of the drive. Problem 2- we didn't take off with all of our normal kid supplies.

We picked our tree fairly quickly (this consisted of us carrying the kids, looking for a tree the right size and price we were planning on, that hadn't already been purchased, and then when we found it, verifying with Grace that we should get it).

After paying for the tree, we drove to where you wait in line with your car for them to cut it and put it on for you. This is where things went from bad to worse. It started with our decision to nurse Remington while we waited. He definitely needed to eat, and we knew it was safe since we weren't going much of anywhere.

Then our newly potty trained daughter says she needs to go...but I'm nursing...and Blake has to drive the car the little bit forward every few minutes. So we (admittedly mistakenly) ask her to try to wait until I'm done or it is our turn to have the tree tied on.

As she gets more insistent, he has a major diaper blowout. At some point I make the call that he has to get a little less to eat for her sake. I put him back in the car, Blake gets her, and they try to make it to the port a potty on the lot. Not only had she already had a major accident (all our fault admittedly), she wasn't willing to use that bathroom.

While we get our tree, we try to get our kids back in shape. We scrounge through our car supplies, and manage a change of clothes for each of them, though it does mean Grace is back in a diaper, because we didn't have spare underwear for her with us.

Overall, I walk away from both of these holiday mini disasters with the knowledge that for now, Blake is totally right, these holiday things are for me, not them. In more ways than one, I made my kids frustrated and upset just to do these special Christmas things that they don't even care about yet! We will learn from our mistakes with supplies, feeding etc., and it will be more worth it when they care.

Alas, so far, Christmas fun with kids hasn't been much fun.