Thursday, December 30, 2004

Think twice before offering to babysit for us

Yesterday we went out to lunch and a movie and we left Kevin at home with Andy's mom and sister. We tried to remember to tell them everything about Kevin's lunch and nap schedule and routine and Andy unlocked the shed for them in case they wanted to play outside and get the balls or slide out.

One thing we failed to tell them is our emergency lock-out plan. If you get locked out of our house, there is a 2-step procedure to get yourself back in without having to break a window. Somehow, when they went outside to play for a bit before lunch, the back door locked. We set the front door to always lock when we leave, but the back door shouldn't have locked (we still don't know how it happened.) They tried to come inside for lunch but - d'oh! - they couldn't get in. Our super-nice neighbors were kind enough to house them and feed them all lunch until the husband could get home and unscrew the storm-door lock on our basement. I suppose the new 2-step emergency lock-out procedure is "1) Find screwdriver, 2) unscrew door handle and lock."

Thankfully everyone is laid-back enough that it was just an adventure and not something stressful.

All the while, we were enjoying lunch at The Olive Garden (thanks to Mom and Dad D. for the gift certificates) and viewing Ocean's 12 (thanks to bro- & sis-in-law for the gift certificates.) The movie, by the way, was highly entertaining - I thoroughly enjoyed it and would watch it again. This is unlike I, Robot which I bought for Andy for Christmas and we found it to be pretty lame (despite Will Smith, who I think is great.) Speaking of Will Smith (and boy I'm going off on some tangents here), we saw a preview for his upcoming movie Hitch which looks pretty funny.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Gift of the Magi

A week ago, I was talking with a friend about Andy's need to "get away" on a more regular basis. He doesn't need to leave for the weekend or go on a cruise or something, but he needs to be away from people for awhile. A few hours here and there should be fine, but he won't take them unless I force the issue and then I usually have to make some grand plans to make it happen. Well, I'm running out of grand plans and wishing there was an easier way to either be gone from the house for awhile with Kevin at a time helpful to Andy or somewhere that Andy could go without being around people at a convenient time for him. I tried to explain to my friend the difficulty in the details related to this problem.

A couple of days later, I found some information that Andy had from The Volleyball House, which is a local volleyball establishment that I sometimes visit for drop-in play. He freaked out when he knew I had seen it, so I figured it was related to a Christmas present for me. I mentioned this to my friend noted above and he said, "Well, you know, the day after you were talking about how Andy needed a chance to be away from work and the family and that he doesn't make time for himself, he called me and said the same thing about you and asked for contact info for the Volleyball House."

You know, that is pretty cool that we both are concerned with each other's need to "refresh" after too much time with work and the family.

1) The first picture we saw of Kevin, 2) An updated photo during our process, 3) August 2004, taken by a rep from our agency, 4) November 2004, home for 2 months Posted by Hello

Monday, December 27, 2004

Kevin proudly shows off his new light-up Elmo boots. Now, where's the snow? This photo goes with this postPosted by Hello

Andy's birthday cupcakes were tasty. This photo goes with this postPosted by Hello

Vomit score: Tied at 1-1

I never intended to have a post about vomiting but, really, it was/is one of my biggest fears of parenting. I get sick to my stomach a lot and when someone else vomits, I do too. That scares me when it comes time for my children to have stomach viruses.

A couple of weeks ago, Kevin vomited a little bit in the bathtub. Problem is, he still doesn't take baths alone. So Andy was in the tub, too. He was a bit shell-shocked and not sure what to do. We took care of the situation and chalked it up to having ingested soapy water and having the hiccups while laughing. Although I helped with the situation, I didn't see it actually happen. Score one for Andy.

Last night, I tied the game. We were putting a very happy and hyper Kevin to bed and I picked him up off the bed to pull the covers down when I said, "OK, here's one last squeeze for the day!" and I gave him a big hug. Out came a burp and more. This time, I was shell-shocked. I didn't have much on me, though, as most of it projected past my shoulder onto the floor.

Today while dancing around as we often do and picking Kevin up and twirling him around, Andy and I both stopped moving the moment Kevin started to hiccup. Fortunately, nothing came of today's hiccups and laughter but we're certainly a bit more cautious about rambunctious play than we used to be.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

This was the first time that Kevin set Big Bird up with his own book to read ("Little Miss Spider") and pillow to support his back. Now his stuffed animals help with all of the household chores and they receive the royal treatment most of the time. The rest of the time they're getting swung around by an arm or a leg or body slammed to the ground. Posted by Hello

I could've sold that picture to Hallmark

This morning when Kevin woke up, we went into the living room instead of directly to the kitchen for breakfast. It was dark and Andy wasn't up yet, so I turned on the Christmas tree lights instead of any of the regular lights while our eyes adjusted. I attempted (for the umpteenth failed time) to get Kevin to sit in the rocking chair with me and enjoy the soothing motion. He sat (straight up) for a minute or two and pointed at the tree lights. Then he walked over to the tree to touch it.

He was wearing a fuzzy sleeper with feet and he padded his way to the tree in his early-morning clumsy way, silhouetted by dozens of tiny white lights. When he reached the tree, he stood there with a glowing halo long enough for me to realize that he looked like a scene I've seen so many times on Christmas cards and I started thinking of how to set up my camera to take the shot. I realized that I would never get the shot, so I stopped wasting the moment and I just sat and enjoyed it. And boy, was he beautiful.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Norm is coming home!

Norm is married to Andy's sister and they have 2 kids. Norm's National Guard unit, the 835th CSB, was called into service in Iraq last year and we just received word that they are coming home in the next few weeks! They were slated to return at this time, but with all of the recent news of soldiers' tours
being extended, we weren't sure what would happen to his unit.

Thanks to all of the men and women in the military who are serving. I wish you all a safe and speedy return.

What's going on in my life

Yesterday I did a lot of cleaning and picking up around our house. It felt so good! Some areas that have been cluttered for awhile are taken care of and all of the main floors got cleaned and I even did some dusting (my least favorite house cleaning activity.) There is plenty more to do, but I feel really good about yesterday’s progress.

Today I’m at work and Kevin was out of sorts this morning so he was whiny and clingy when I left, which was unusual after last week’s brazen “Adios!” to me as soon as Magy arrived for the day.

Kevin is testing, testing, testing. His favorite words as of this weekend are “No!” and “Mine!” Note that the exclamation points are part of the words - they aren’t just for emphasis in my blog. Also, Kevin has become hostile toward our cat. They were learning to live with each other pretty well over the past few months, but Kevin’s “Mine!” attitude has caused him to shut the door on the cat, throw things at the cat, and swing his arm at him. Those behaviors haven’t gone over very well with Kevin’s parents.

Tomorrow my parents are coming to visit in the morning and through lunch. That’ll be fun because they haven’t had many chances to actually play with Kevin and tomorrow there won’t be anyone or anything in the way of doing so. When they’ve come over before, they’ve ended up helping put our furniture back, lift heavy things, or replace decorations on the walls. When they’ve seen him elsewhere, there have been other family members around to pay attention to also. I don’t know yet what I’ll do while they’re there - I may have a chance to run out and get an errand or two done, or at least do some more cleaning at home. That is if Kevin is up to all of that, which I expect he will be because my parents are a lot of fun to play with.

I’m working again on Thursday but if today is any indication, I won’t be very productive.

Friday evening we’ll go to Christmas Eve service at church. I’m not sure whether we’ll keep Kevin in the service with us or put him into his class; we’re still deciding on this.

Saturday morning we’ll head over to Andy’s brother’s house and spend time through lunch with his family. In the afternoon, we’ll head up to my sister’s house for dinner with her family and my parents. I expect there will be some gift exchanging at both locations as well ;-)

I still really need to find a DSL provider for home so that I can access my company’s resources from there. Unfortunately, DSL costs money so I’m hesitant to order it, but I really need to or else I will have to find my way into the office to make up my 4 extra hours per week that I’m slated to work starting in January.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Let's just buy the Hummer and be done with selling out

I would say, "We’d NEVER buy a Hummer!" (what with their wastefulness on so many levels) but then I’ve also said, "I’ll never pay to have my child’s hair done at Cartoon Cuts!" and look what happened.

Then there is my disdain for those silly shoes that light up. Remember when they first came out from BK Knights for teenagers? At least I think that’s what they were. Maybe I’m wrong, I never had a pair. Anyway, every kid seems to have them now and they fly in the face of our idea of trying to trim Kevin’s sensory overload in our culture and all of the hoopla about having to have the newest and craziest gadgets.

So guess what we came home from Kohl’s with today? No, not a pair of silly shoes that light up. Something much, much better. I even apologized to Andy before he saw them. They are snow boots which don’t only light up on the bottoms, but they shoot lights up the sides, too! And have I ever mentioned that we’re trying to limit the branded characters that Kevin falls in love with and wears on his clothes and such? Well, we are. And these snazzy boots have on them, smack dab in the center of the front... Elmo.

At least they were entertaining for a short while tonight - we turned off all the lights and Kevin's dancing feet treated us to a laser light show without the cost of a Pink Floyd concert ticket.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"Papa, you have frosting on your nose"

The Bible says that Jesus instructs us not to attempt to remove a piece of sawdust from another’s eye without first taking the plank out of our own. Do you think this extends to cupcake frosting smeared across one’s face, hair, hands, and arms while pointing to the small dot of frosting on someone else’s nose with such fervor a bystander might think the poor guy’s nose was on fire rather than dabbed with chocolate?

Jesus was born

One of the reasons we chose to adopt children is that I have no desire to be pregnant or deliver a child. It's not something my body or mind has ever felt inclined to do. In fact, I find pregnancy pretty darn disgusting. Of course you can imagine my opinion of labor and delivery.

As usually happens this time of year, Mary’s delivery of Jesus in a stable was mentioned in church on Sunday. I’ve thought before about that and I realize that it was not the cozy, comfortable and idyllic scene that is often portrayed. It was a birth. Spare me the details.

Or at least I thought I could be spared the details. What struck me on Sunday while thinking of Jesus’s birth was Kevin’s birth. Although I did not carry and deliver him, he was carried and delivered. And while I place his birthmother at the top of the list of people important to Kevin, I never thought about her pregnancy and delivery. Until Sunday, I thought (or just maybe never thought) that was ok, but now I don’t think so.

Happy Birthday to one-half of Teamdandy

Happy Birthday, Andy! I know that I forgot to say "Happy Birthday" this morning, but that is why I made sure to say it last night before going to sleep.

Before the rest of you (the "rest" of you - as if Andy will read this - ha!) think that I'm a terrible wife (well, maybe I am) we celebrated his birthday last night because I'll be at work today and won't be home until after 6:00. So, I made his requested dinner for him last night and we had cupcakes for dessert. That is probably why the birthday thing slipped my mind this morning - I already had it done and off the To Do list by this point ;-)

Friday, December 10, 2004

I Never Thought I'd...

  • ...drink water with food in it from someone else's backwash
  • food that was previously in someone else's mouth
  • proud of myself for not reacting while my child screams in a public place because he doesn't get his way
  • ...waste post-it notes by letting someone scribble all over them, one note at a time (this is for you, Kirsten!)
  • ...sing "The Wheels On The Bus" out loud 5 times in a row, every day
  • in my living room at night with the drapes open
  • ...learn to wake up in the middle of the night to a whimpering child without getting angry
  • ...take photos of crayon artwork on the toilet and walls

Thursday, December 09, 2004

How'd that happen?

It's a good thing I don't have to dress up for work. I arrived at the office this morning sporting Kevin's after-breakfast-snack on my shoulder and a return address label on my stomach. It would've been nicer had I noticed as soon as I got here.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

We're preparing Kevin for his first snow by showering him with styrofoam peanuts. Posted by Hello

Cartoon Cuts sell-out

We never thought we'd do it, but we did. We took Kevin to Cartoon Cuts last night and dropped a wad of cash on a haircut. I'll admit that it looks really cute and he did very well, only crying a couple of times. He looked scared, but he handled the situation with bravery. I think the television in front of him helped.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Handbell Choir

A local handbell choir played at our church yesterday morning. I enjoy listening to handbells, but what I really enjoy is playing them. Yesterday I tried to figure out why.

In eighth grade, I was allowed to start playing the flute. Before that, I competed in gymnastics which took up all of my time and cost my parents a fair amount of money. So, once I quit gymnastics, I was allowed to do all of the other things my friends were doing that I never could (softball, soccer, musical instruments, etc.) I’d always wanted to play the flute and I was a quick study to catch up to my peers’ abilities because I wanted it so much.

When a couple of my friends started talking about handbell rehearsal in high school, I didn’t even know what handbells were (I didn’t grow up going to church, which is where it seems that most handbell performances take place. Also, my family isn’t musically inclined and we didn’t gravitate toward anything but popular music on the radio.) I came along to their rehearsal and since I finally knew how to read music, I was able to participate. It was soooo much fun. I was a pretty good sight reader and I played the high notes, sometimes being the one to shake or jingle the bell, which always catches the listeners’ attention.

In the school band, the flute section tends to be large and, for most arrangements, the flutes help to carry the melody of the music. At home, I would play my flute most every day because I enjoyed it so much. I had a few books of popular music and I had my private lesson studies to play. I had a number of duets available, too, but nobody to play with on a regular occasion so I would tape record myself playing one part and then play it back to play the other part live. It was so much fun to try to combine my playing with something more than or bigger than myself. When playing duets, either part is not complete without the other. Such is the case with handbells.

You don’t ever hear of a handbell player giving a performance. You always see and hear handbell choirs. This is because you can’t physically play a handbell song by yourself! The few notes that you’re responsible for in any one song are just a small part of something so much more grand and beautiful, made possible only by the inclusion of so many other bell ringers.

While I always enjoyed playing the flute and piano (when I took a class in college) nothing compares to the feeling I get when watching a handbell choir and remembering how it felt to play my few notes in the midst of everyone else playing their few notes to put together beautiful music that wouldn’t exist without everyone involved.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

2 * Introvert + Toddler = The need for silence

Last night Kevin and I went to the mall for a few hours. This was no shopping trip, mind you. I’m not much of a shopper and Kevin’s idea of shopping is touching everything that isn’t his and riding up and down the escalator for half an hour.

Last night’s trip to the mall had the sole purpose of providing Andy some time at home by himself. You see, he and I are both introverts. He’s on the far end of the scale, otherwise known as “Hermithood” and I’m in the middle - not the middle of the whole Introvert/Extrovert scale, but in the middle of the Introvert side. This makes parenting difficult because in order to regroup and reenergize, we basically need to take care of Kevin separately - we rarely play with Kevin together, although we try to. But, we know that it’s best for our souls and therefore our selves as parents to get some time away in order to be better parents when we are in the thick of things.

On Monday, Andy hit the wall. If parenting was a sport, you could say that he bonked (bonking is glucose depletion of the muscles such that the body shuts down and can’t ride/run/whatever until more fuel is processed.) Our weekend calendar is full for the next month, as is usually the case in December, so he felt no hope of refueling on alone-time. I decided he needed at least a short respite before we can schedule a longer one so I took Kevin out for the evening. Andy came home to an empty house and we didn’t break the peace until 7:30.

Grudge Match

I’m an expert at holding grudges. I know it’s not appropriate in most cases (if any) but I can’t seem to shake that ability from my skillset. I had no idea how much this would affect my parenting.

When Kevin does something that really gets under my skin (usually something he does that he knows he shouldn’t do) I get angry. Then I can’t let go of it to be all nice and smiley when he comes back at me with his cheesy grin. He can do all sorts of cute and wonderful things but I can’t get the grudge over what he did a minute or ten ago out of my heart that easily.

This is something I definitely need to work on.

Monday, November 29, 2004


I'm learning that kids go through a lot of phases. Some are short, some are long, but many of the bad (or at least annoying) ones seem to go away on their own in whatever time they need. I really like that.

Take, for instance, Kevin's need to wear shoes ALL THE TIME. This includes wearing shoes to bed. We don't like for him to have them on all night so we take them off after he falls asleep. If you were to watch us do this, you'd think that we were disabling a bomb - but in reality we're just trying not to wake him up. Last week, we began waiting until bed time to change Kevin into his bed clothes (that in itself is another phase which he has outgrown... he used to refuse to wear pajamas) and redirecting him when he vehemently asked for his shoes. Surprisingly, it worked! This week, he doesn't even ask for his shoes at bed time anymore. I really didn't think we'd get past this phase so quickly.

Kevin used to throw his napkin on the floor during meals. This is a phase that did not go away on its own but is an example of how perfect parenting will produce perfectly behaved children (if you're not a parent, you may not catch on to my sarcasm.) Anyway, we've taught Kevin that he gets nowhere by throwing his napkin on the floor in a fit of anger. Another phase that has come and gone.

I'm learning to put so many annoying things that Kevin does into perspective now that I realize he changes his behaviors on a fairly regular basis. It's nice to know that even the longest phases are still phases that will probably go away on their own. That's a relief when he picks up his hairbrush before bed every night now and has to brush everybody's hair (not very well, mind you) a few times before getting into bed (and he screams without it, at which point I realize, "Hey, it's just a hair brush and it's only about 2 minutes worth of time and it's really just annoying, it's not hurting anyone.")

I know, I know - most of you are wondering where the really annoying or harmful stuff comes in. I mean, really - shoes to bed and using a hairbrush? Come on, those are probably good things! Well, these are just some examples. Don't fret - there are worse things going on around here while you're not looking :-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Kevin's new bike helmet for use with his tricycle and (hopefully soon) a trailer attached to my bike for trips to the grocery store and playground. Posted by Hello

Thanksgiving Therapy and Preparing to Return to Work

Last Wednesday our bible study group celebrated Thanksgiving together. It was the first time in a long time that Andy and I (and Kevin) had been together with our group. Keep in mind that these are all our best friends - it's not like these are people we see once a week, say Hi, and leave. No, our lives are intertwined in true community.

You can imagine the catharsis I experienced in telling my friends in person about our new jobs as parents. For some reason, I had a lot of negative things to say that night. But you know what? On Thursday morning, I felt great. I had no idea that expressing the challenges I felt would so positively affect me. The next two days with Kevin were grand - I was happy and full of energy and I really enjoyed being his mom all day long. I didn't get more sleep than usual, more exercise, or anything else. I really feel that it was due to telling some of my closest friends that parenting was very trying and I wasn't sure I was supposed to have done it that made me feel so much better.

So, any of you reading this who are those friends that I complained to that night, look out, because I'll be back to tell more the next time my spirit sinks ;-)


I return to my job next Tuesday. I'll work Tuesdays and Thursdays in the office and then in January, I'll start adding 4 additional hours per week from home. I was looking forward to this a couple of weeks ago but I'm not so sure I'm gonna like it now. On Sunday evening I told my boss the following regarding my return to work: "Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing my friends and playing ultimate frisbee [during lunch], but that's about it." Then I stopped and said, "Wait a minute... were you asking me whether I'm looking forward to coming back to the office as my friend or my boss?" D'oh!

Fortunately, I am friends with my boss and he understood my feelings and didn't mind that I'd said it. He said he felt the same way about my return - that he'd love to see me stay home but that he'll be happy to have me back in the office just to be around and to play ultimate frisbee. What a guy!

I'll have to start preparing for the "babysitter" this weekend. I need to make sure that there's something for lunch in the fridge and that I make a list of all of the important phone numbers (the most important being the number to the phone on my desk at work :-) I'll have to get up earlier than I have in awhile to get myself ready before getting Kevin ready in the morning. Our friend who will take care of Kevin will come to our house instead of us going to hers for awhile, so that'll make the transition easier on our family. Kevin won't have to nap in a strange place and I won't have to have Kevin completely fed and dressed by the time she arrives (I'll try to, but I won't stress myself out over it.)


Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

We're glad that Kevin likes to eat apples as much as we do and run through the fields at the orchard.  Posted by Hello

Is it a revelation if you already knew it but forgot?

On Sunday, I was cranky. I thought I'd had enough of Kevin and needed a break from him. But I was cranky with Andy, too. So maybe I needed a break from the whole family. I went to my volleyball game in the evening and continued to be cranky. I was very excited to be there and playing but it wasn't a very taxing game and afterward I was in an even worse mood. On the way home, it hit me... what made me cranky before I was a mother can still make me cranky now that I'm a mother and it's not related to being a mother!

When I don't exercise, I can get in a really foul mood. It's the kind of mood that nothing can cheer up - not chocolate cake, not a really funny joke, not time alone. Nothing makes me feel better except to exercise. And I don't mean that I need to take a walk or follow Kevin around the house a few extra times in a day. I need to really work hard and fill my muscles with lactic acid. Granted, it doesn't take much to do that these days as I haven't been exercising regularly :-)

Sunday evening on my way home from volleyball, I knew that I couldn't go home and be in a good mood. I couldn't imagine facing Andy and Kevin and any of our usual antics with any sort of cheer in my attitude. So I pulled into the elementary school down the street, parked at the end of the dark lot, stepped out into the brisk air and started to run. I ran laps around the parking lot. It felt like heaven. I had to stop and walk a few times, but as soon as I caught my breath, I started to run again. My legs and arms pumped, my heart pumped, and all kinds of good chemicals were spreading their way into my brain. I smiled. And it was a lasting smile, not the kind that I can force onto my face while gritting my teeth behind it. I was joyous.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

What else is there to write about?

I haven't written regular posts in awhile. The reason is that I have nothing to talk about except for Kevin and as intriguing as that is to me, I'm sure that it's not all that exciting to most other people. I have kept a bit of a journal every few days of what he's up to, but I can't think of anything to write a blog post about. I'll come up with something, although if you're bored of reading about Kevin, you'll want to stop right here :-)

Kevin is in that stage of big developmental changes. There are a lot of things that he knew before he joined our family, but he's now starting to learn some things that we've tought him. For instance, he says, "Excuse me" when he burps. Actually, he says, "Mee mee" but we get the point. He's learned to jump with both feet in the air since coming home, although that's fairly natural and probably isn't from anything that we've done. Now he's learning to name the parts of his body, albeit in Spanish. He can do a few animal noises such as Meow, Woof woof, and Cock-a-doodle-doo. He does some others but not with complete comprehension. For instance, I showed him that a rabbit wiggles its nose and when I show him a picture of a rabbit, he'll wiggle his nose. But, when I ask him without a picture what a rabbit does, he says, "Ribbit" like a frog. He's learning to make elephant sounds with his arm pretending to be a trunk and that is funny because he looks more like he's wiping his nose on his shirt sleeve than swinging his trunk.

We've had a few playdates with various friends and family members and he appears to be getting more comfortable with meeting new people. He's still very shy but when there is only one or two new people to meet at a time, he warms up to them faster than he used to. He's been in Sunday School class the past 2 weeks and he cries to begin with, but then he's fine. It's nice to not be distracted during the church service or feel like he's distracting everyone else.

He has also spent some time alone with our friend who will take care of him the days that I'm at work starting after Thanksgiving. I think this situation will work out well and I'm very excited that we didn't have to search far and wide to find the right fit for him. If you ask me whether I'm excited to go back to work or not, my answer will depend on the day. Plus, each day I feel more settled to the point that I can branch out and get more things done at home, so I'm more comfortable in the role of stay-at-home Mom than I was a few weeks ago. But, there are advantages to me going back to work also, and I think that it'll be good for me. We'll see how it goes - if I can't stand it, I'll take a leave of absence. I expect it'll work out, though, but I won't count my chickens before they hatch, so to speak.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Terrible Mother Award

I admit it, I win the Terrible Mother Award for the week.

Kevin hasn't been sleeping through the night recently and it's been hard on us after we were treated to very nice sleeping patterns since our return home. Every night last week Kevin woke up and cried at least once and we tried various ways to help him get back to sleep. We didn't want to just let him "cry it out" as he needs to be secure in knowing that we are here for him and will provide what he needs. We're still trying to figure out where the line is between needing to provide security and needing to let him get through things on his own, but we knew that we didn't want to leave him by himself in the middle of the night.

Anyway, fast forward to last night. We shut Kevin's door when he falls asleep and we go about our business of getting things done around the house. We head to bed and - whoops! - I forget to open Kevin's bedroom door before getting in bed myself. I didn't realize this, however, until 5:30 this morning. Andy and I discussed at that point whether to open the door then or wait until it was time to get up for church and we decided to wait. We would hear him if he rattled the doorknob or cried to be let out.

At 7:00 am, I checked on him before taking my shower. D'oh! He wasn't in bed. There he was, curled up on the floor. He was sleeping soundly, but I could only feel terrible at the thought of him waking up scared in the middle of the night, sliding out of his bed, trying the doorknob and realizing he was locked in, and then being unable to get back into bed himself. Poor thing!

I'm sure you parents out there realize that he was no worse for wear this morning once he woke up. He smiled within 2 minutes of opening his eyes and he had a joyful day, not apparently holding any grudges against either Andy or myself. I won't tell him for a few years that it is usually my job to open his door before getting in bed ;-)

I know that most kids are pretty resilient, but Kevin continues to surprise me with how resilient he really is. He's been through a lot that most kids don't have to go through and he comes out smiling on the other side every time.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Flash, the "Handsome Mouser" Posted by Hello

I didn't even realize we had a mouse...

...let alone a whole family (or at least a whole neighborhood) of them! Our cat, Flash, great mouser that he is, has found a few of the little critters in our house lately. Tonight while eating dinner, we heard some squeaking and Flash's collar jingling. Funny thing was that Flash doesn't have any squeaky toys. So, I sent Andy to find out what was going on. Hey, I took care of the freshly dead body last night, it was his turn. Anyway, it appeared that Flash had a mouse in his mouth at the time he ventured upstairs and we heard him. Then he went back downstairs and must've lost it because Andy saw a mouse scurry into the laundry room when he was trying to figure out what was going on.

I'll admit that I'm proud of Flash. He's an indoor cat so he doesn't get too many chances to hone his hunting skills, but when he needs them, he's got them.

Elesa, I hope you're not reading this. See you next week :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Parenting, Week #4

Some things I miss:

  1. The Simpsons
  2. Free time
  3. Peaceful meals
  4. Timing my activities by my own choice
  5. Quiet bedtime
  6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
  7. Weekends
  8. Knowing how to be a good parent

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Kevin helped me clean up some of our cherry tomato plants in the garden. He was scared of the plants themselves but was able to pick up loose tomatoes and put them in the wheelbarrow for me. Posted by Hello

Monday, October 25, 2004

Kevin loves to dance. When he hears music, he just can't help but move! This is him dancing to his LeapPad "FridgePhonics" game that his cousins gave him. Posted by Hello

My titles should be created post-post

I titled my last post "Immunizations, Playdates and Tantrums - Oh My!" and I never mentioned immunizations or playdates in the post. Pardon the misleading title. The Title box is at the top of the composition page, so I always type it in first. Then my mind goes here, there, and everywhere else while I'm actually typing up my post. I know, this isn't the first time it's happened. However I do usually catch the problem before publishing my post.

Anyway, Kevin is as cute and aggravating as ever :-) Like Keith said in his comment to my previous post, he sounds like a normal kid. He is, and we're normal parents who get aggravated and yet find his wide-open mouth full of dinner so darn cute sometimes (but only sometimes.)

Today I talked to my boss about going back to work part-time instead of full-time. It was never my plan to go back full-time, but I wasn't prepared ahead of time to make plans for that with my coworkers. I did mention to the higher-ups that after I was out for a few weeks, I'd need flexibility because I didn't know what needs Kevin would have (which is certainly true.)

So it looks like I'll be working at the office 2 days a week and then spending a few hours each week working from home. That time will probably be spent reading and answering emails more than actual software development, but I will be purchasing a new computer and probably upgrading my connection (I use dialup now) so that all of the resources of my company will be available from/to my home computer.

I'll try to post a picture or two of Kevin. I can't remember whether I have the software installed here that posts pictures to Blogger "easily" (I've yet to figure out how the software is supposed to work - I fight it and fight it until something shows up on my blog and then I shut it down in a state of confusion with no idea how the picture was successfully posted.

I hope all of you are doing well. It's amazing how far away from my life of 4 weeks ago I feel... I suppose I am that far away in some sense, but I'm still more connected than I probably realize. What a change being a parent is - utterly unbelievable.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Immunizations, Playdates and Tantrums - Oh My!

We're home. All three of us. HOME.

We actually had a very nice trip. We couldn't have paid for better accomodations than those provided by our friends, Elesa and Jeff, for nothing. Their kids were wonderful, too. We had the chance to spend time alone when we needed it and together with the others when we were ready. We were very comfortable there and they took such great care of us. We even had to take Kevin to the pediatrician while we were there and they set that all up for us! And Elesa is a great driver and tour guide, among everything else that she's great at :-)

We arrived in Guatemala City on Saturday around 1:15 pm and Elesa picked us up at the airport and took us back to her house. We got the grand tour and put our belongings in our beautifully set up and hosted room. There were toys for Kevin, chocolates for us, and even our own bathroom! About 2 hours later (which felt like forever while we were just waiting) 2 assistants to our attorney brought Kevin to us. He was shy and a little scared; very quiet. The assistants helped us fill out some paperwork that we'd need at the Embassy and then they left. That was it! And we never got to meet the foster mom.

Matchbox cars, stuffed animals, books, and crayons didn't break the ice, but a few glasses of water (Kevin sweats a lot!) and some soccer helped our relationship begin. Thinking back to that day is amazing because it was only 2 weeks ago, yet it feels like an eternity. It feels like we were all different people then than we are now. I suppose we are, but it's hard to believe that much would've changed in such a short amount of time!

On Sunday, we went to Antigua which is about 45 minutes by car to the west of Guatemala City. We bought a few items at the markets and mostly just walked around. Kevin seemed fine with us although he wouldn't let us put him down to sit or walk by himself. It made for a very tiring few days!! And it made our broken stroller that we picked up in baggage claim in GC a moot point.

When we arrived home on Wednesday night, our friend, Kirsten, who picked us up at the airport told us that we couldn't stay at our house because the fumes from our floors being refinished were too strong. The flooring guys suggested that we not stay there, so we went to Kirsten's house instead. We returned to our house on Thursday in the middle of the day to what Kevin saw as a large gymnasium just for him and all of his toys! (we had no furniture in the living room or dining room so it was a big open play area and he could kick and throw and chase balls with no obstacles.)

Fast-forward to today.... I'm still at home from work while Andy returned to his job last Tuesday. Kevin has transitioned into our family better than anyone would have anticipated. Now instead of dealing with his insecurities and trust issues, we're already dealing with toddler tantrums and purposeful misbehavior!

I know that I've left out a lot of details, but I don't want to take too much time writing this and I don't want to wait any longer to at least say, "Hi! We're home and doing well!" So, here it is - it's all that you get for now. That is, if any of you are still out there and waiting to hear from me :-)

Thursday, September 30, 2004


A few weeks ago, we thought we were on the verge of traveling to Guatemala to bring Kevin home. For various reasons, that didn't work out. Neither did each day or few days in between then and now when we thought, "This time is it!" Now that we know we're leaving in 2 days (that's the day after tomorrow, for crying out loud!) I can't get very excited.

I thought I was just depressed that we weren't going sooner this week. Then I thought I must have a subconscious thought that things won't work out. Then I wondered if maybe I'm stuffing my feelings down inside so that I can function this week while working and finalizing important details of our trip.

I believe I have the answer now and it's none of the above. I think my excitement level peaked through those other weeks when I thought we were going. Now I have no excitement energy left for the real thing.

Granted, the knots that have started growing in my stomach during the first few hours of my last day at work for awhile are proof that I do have emotions and that I'm going to be hyper about the trip, but I wonder if it won't be more of a nervous anxiety about the details rather than pure excitement of meeting and bringing Kevin home. Well, either way, I'm due for a migraine afterward - my head is an equal-opportunity stress thermometer - good stress, bad stress... it's all stress.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

We really are leaving this time

We're leaving for Guatemala in 3 days! This Saturday, 10/2, we'll head to Guatemala City and we'll return to Maryland on Wednesday, 10/6. That's a longer-than-necessary trip because we're having work done on our house next Tuesday and Wednesday and this way we won't be returning in the middle of it.

We plan to go to the Embassy on Monday to get Kevin's visa. The rest of the time we'll be laughing and smiling and playing and... well, there will probably also be lots of crying, maybe some screaming, and all that jazz. But, it will all be worthwhile and we're looking forward to it. We're packed and ready to go except for a couple of small errands to do at the last minute.

Monday, September 27, 2004


Yesterday afternoon, the thought crossed my mind that maybe Kevin wouldn't need the bed rail that we bought for him. Or that maybe he'll just need it to feel safe, more closed-in.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night a fraction of a second before crashing into the floor. I rolled off the bed in my sleep.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

He's been our son for 21 days

It turns out we were waiting for Kevin's birth certificate. The attorney had to apply to the Civil Registry in Kevin's birth city to have a new birth certificate issued with our last name as his and with our names listed as his parents. Apparently, this took a week longer than the attorney expected. He finally received it yesterday. I thought that meant he'd be able to apply for our pink slip to travel but, no, it just means that now he has all of the papers ready for translation. I have no idea how long that takes. I decided not to ask.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

When are we leaving? (Part 2)

See Part 1 here. To make a long story short... We don't know when we're leaving!

Don't tell our agency, but I already booked our flights. They're unrestricted tickets so that we can change them without penalty. And we will have to change them, but maybe only the return date. That depends on what we hear today, which could be the same as we've heard for the past few days - "Any day now! We just need this one paper to come through!" Grrr....

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Serial Dream

For the past few nights, I've had dreams of our trip to meet Kevin. Each night the dream goes a little farther and last night's took me all the way to meeting Kevin and a little beyond! I woke up excited and peaceful (vs. excited and anxious or nervous) because the meeting went smoothly and Kevin took to us fairly quickly, at least enough to seem comfortable with us. After the meeting, the dream moved to a short time after and we were in another location. Kevin was in a separate room from us and we heard a thud and then he screamed. I ran in and saw he had pinched his hand in something and my brain registered that there was nothing I could do for him because he'd just have a bruise. Then I realized that I could give him a hug! So I held him and rocked him and his tears subsided and I felt like the luckiest woman alive to have him in my arms and to be able to soothe him. I eventually handed him over to Andy's lap and he got some snuggle time, too.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The I's Have It

This morning I stepped outside to survey the damage from the remnant of Hurricane Ivan. It's only a nameless storm now, packing winds describable as a strong breeze. There are no tree limbs down in our yard and the electricity is still on. The rain stopped falling sometime early this morning.

To the folks south of us, this nameless storm spawned a flurry of tornadoes. In Central and Northern Virginia and a few areas in Maryland there were multiple tornadoes yesterday afternoon and evening. It was scary as we watched the radar maps on the TV to see the many pockets of strong storms with torrential rains and seeing how many of them had circular air patterns that could easily turn into more tornadoes. Peoples' homes are devastated.

Last year on this day, I stepped outside to survey the damage from Hurricane Isabel, who was a tropical storm when she blew through our area. She left a mess here. We had tree limbs down, no electricity for 5 days (that was a new experience for me), and folks on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries suffered serious flooding.

How many events indicate a pattern? I'm not sure that 2 is enough - so here's hoping that next year's storm during the 3rd week of September isn't Ingrid, Ivana, Ira, or Ian.

P.S. As I prepare to post this message, our lights are flickering and the rain has begun falling again.

Friday, September 17, 2004

I Don't Have A Crystal Meth Lab In My Basement (in case Wal-Mart is wondering)

I went to Wal-Mart last night to pick up some supplies for our trip to Guatemala. I also needed to get some medicine for Andy who has a cold brewing in his head. We really don't want to be sick for our trip.

I got 2 packs of daytime cold relief, a pack of nighttime cold relief, a bottle of Mucinex for myself (which I previously wrote about), and a bottle of children's decongestant for Kevin. The cashier got a message when the bottle of children's medicine scanned. She tried it again, read the message more completely, and then set the bottle to the side. She told me my total amount due. I asked what happened to the medicine. She said she couldn't sell it to me. "Why not?" "Because it's against federal law." "But it was on your shelf. What is illegal about it?" She replied that I can't buy more than 3 cold medicine products at one time. She handed me the bottle and said that I could go to another register and buy it there. I paid for my purchases and told her to keep the bottle of children's decongestant, wondering whether I had bought too many different kinds of medication or too many boxes total?

I found out on the Web today that there is a federal law against purchasing a certain amount of products containing pseudoephedrine at one time. This is supposed to curb the home-brewing of crystal methamphetamine. I also found this comment in an article in the Des Moines Register:

Congress in 1996 passed the Methamphetamine Control Act, requiring retailers to keep records and report on anyone buying a certain amount of pseudoephedrine. To avoid paperwork, many retailers set their own limits on the number of packages that can be purchased at a time. Some have cash registers programmed to notify clerks when the limit is passed.

I must've crossed Wal-Mart's threshold in the number of boxes of medications containing pseudoephedrine (Mucinex doesn't contain it.) I guess I should've just gotten a bigger box of the daytime cold relief instead of 2 smaller boxes and then I could've purchased the children's medication, too. And then I'd be able to make even more crystal meth.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

When are we leaving?

The lawyer told our agency that our "pink slip" (which gives us permission to visit the Embassy to get Kevin's visa) will be requested Friday or Monday. This means that we will likely travel to Guatemala next Wednesday (if the slip is requested tomorrow) or Saturday (if the slip is requested on Monday.) Yeehaw!

P.S. We'll find out Friday evening whether the pink slip was requested or not so that's when we'll know what day to make our airline reservations for.

My favorite picture of Kevin so far. He's such a cutie! Posted by Hello

This is our son, Kevin, with his foster mother. August 2004 Posted by Hello

That's our little guy in the blue fleece jacket. He apparently likes lollipops! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The hope on my wrist

I'm wearing a bracelet that I purchased from the Watoto Children's Choir on Sunday. It is beaded with a leather backing. It doesn't match my clothes, but I chose it because it has orange beads in it, which remind me of the bright-colored clothing that the kids and adults of Watoto wore when they came to our church.

I found out from Watoto's website that the jewelry and dolls they sell are made by the women of the Masai tribe in Kenya. Wow... the bracelet touching my wrist was touched by African women in their homeland. Buying this offers them support. And it serves as a reminder to me to pray for them and for the children of Watoto whose parents have died from AIDS.

This bracelet may not match my clothes, but it serves a far greater purpose than fashion.

Happy Independence Day, Central America!

Today is Independence Day in Central America, including Guatemala, where Kevin is. To our adoption process, this means that all of the offices are closed for the day and no business will be transacted. To our hearts, this means that our son will be celebrating with his fellow countrymen, steeped in his birth culture. We wish we could be there to join the celebration, but this year finds us on our home soil, trying to save our vacation days. Perhaps another year we will travel to Guatemala to celebrate a holiday or two. In the meantime, we'll make due with celebrating our son's birth country in our country.

I pray that our lives reflect a constant celebration of our own cultures and those around the world. We are, after all, each of us human and we share more common threads than differences.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Watoto Children's Choir

We had the privilege at church this morning to welcome the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda, Africa. The children of Watoto Child Care are orphans of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. They sing and dance in praise of Jesus and were such a joy to watch and meet.

Check out their website for more info:

Friday, September 10, 2004

Attaching, Bonding, Loving, Hating

On one of the large Guatemala adoption email lists, I've read stories in the past couple of days of parents adopting toddlers (rather than infants, which is much more often the case in that country) and there are some very difficult situations going on out there. This doesn't surprise me as I've read quite a bit of literature on the issues related to attachment in adoptions. Granted, attachment issues exist in biological relationships as well, but difficult or missing attachments are far more prevalent in adoptive relationships and that is what affects us, so that is what I'm concerned with.

We have to be prepared (or at least not be surprised) for Kevin to hate us - to kick and scream and cry because he is with us. I'm not suggesting that I know what's going to happen, but we should be prepared for the worst. Much of the screaming and fighting in this circumstance is from grief. This is clearly expected as the child is being pulled away from the people, smells, sights, and sounds that he is familiar with. In the pictures that we've seen of Kevin, he appears very happy and in love with his foster mother. I can bet that he'll be devastated to leave her.

Now consider a child who has had multiple caregivers in their short life. They may bond with the latest caregiver by learning to rely on that person for their needs - food, shelter, hugs, etc. It's possible, though, that the child will not actually attach to the caregiver on a deep level because the child has learned (unconsciously but realistically, nonetheless) that caregivers eventually leave. There is a much deeper sense of trust that is necessary for true, healthy, and complete attachment to occur. Often children in this situation will test the limits of the relationship. After a certain amount of time in a new home, the child will stop acting as if on a "honeymoon" and will act out to test the relationship. All previous caregivers have left, why won't this one? The adopted child may have an extended period of testing during which s/he has to learn to fully and completely trust the new parents not to leave.

Attachment isn't about a simple bond of knowing how to behave with someone in order to have needs met. Nor is it about what a child remembers on a conscious level from their first years of life - it's about the learned behaviors that can be ingrained in a person without the person having the capacity to realize what was learned.

I go back and forth between hoping that all will be perfect when we meet Kevin to being very worried at the possibility of him being distraught by our presence and his foster mother's absence. I can't begin to guess where on the spectrum Kevin's behavior will fall, but I do know that we will be up against forces we've not seen before. I expect that only other parents know how it is to see your child suffering in grief or to not be able to trust on a deep level. We'll be members of that group soon enough.

Legal Parentage

It's hard to believe, but we are officially, legally Kevin's parents. The final adoption decree was signed by the Guatemalan court and picked up by our lawyer yesterday. According to Guatemalan and US law, we are Kevin's parents! That's pretty heavy stuff. And pretty weird considering that we've never met the child.

It will take up to 2 weeks for the attorney to gather up all of the papers (new birth certificate, passport, etc.) that need to be submitted to the US Embassy in Guatemala City so that we can go there and get Kevin's visa. It is likely that we'll travel the weekend of Sept 25th and stay for a few days, probably going to the Embassy early that week. We found out yesterday that we can go to Guatemala before Embassy Day and have Kevin with us. We just can't leave the country because he won't have traveling papers. We won't go so early that we use up much of our vacation time because we'd like to use as much of that at home as possible. That way the 3 of us will be together as long as possible fitting into our new routine.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I have the coolest husband

I know, you're all thinking, "No, *I* have the coolest husband" (or maybe, "I *am* the coolest husband"). But I have the coolest husband for me. And I'm sure you have (are) the coolest husband for you (your wife.)

I tease Andy for being creative and artistic and thoughtful, but only because we know that we're very different in those aspects. There are times, like last night, that I really appreciate his creative ways.

He developed a "contemplative evening" for our bible study group. Instead of sharing how our weeks went and then discussing something that we all read, we spent time in contemplation. Andy set up 7 stations around our house with guidelines of things to think about. Most, if not all, of us enjoyed the time in various ways. For some it was nice to be alone and quiet, for others it was nice to hear from God, and for others it was a chance to deeply reflect on the state of their life.

I think it was obvious to all that Andy worked hard to set up space and time to maximize the possibility of an encounter with God. And I think it was obvious that God was in that space and time.

Thanks, Andy. Thanks, God.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

In the past few years, what has God given you?

This question was posed to us in our bible study group last week.

God gave me silence. Not my own, but His. I know that some people think that He's always near and always talking to us but that we do things to push him away or not listen. I believe that's often the case but not always.

Recently, I've heard God again. He didn't come back quietly or slowly, He just returned to His conversation with me as if no time had passed since the last time He spoke to me. I don't know why that's the case, nor am I clear as to why He was silent. I thought I knew before, but that understanding doesn't jive with how and when He came back.

Either way, I'm happy to hear Him again and to feel His presence.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Praying Friends

Our bible study group read and discussed an excerpt from St. Francis of Assisi's writings in which he mentioned a decision that he had trouble making, so he enlisted the help of two of his good friends, Claire and someone else (sorry, I don't have the book with me to jog my memory.) He asked them to pray about the matter and said that he'd act upon whatever answers God told them. And he did! We discussed what a bold move that was to rely on what God told other people to make a life-changing decision. Most (maybe all?) of us had never done that before.

I have my own Claire story. My friends Karin and Magy are planning a shower for me and they couldn't start working on it until we had the DNA results. After the test, the threat of the adoption falling through decreases dramatically. So, Karin and Magy talked through figuring out a date to hold the shower. The first available for both of them to be there was October 23rd. I thought that was cutting it close to when we'd travel, so we tried to come up with an alternate plan. That didn't work out, so we decided to stick with Oct 23rd with the caveat that it could be rescheduled if we got called to travel at that time.

Then another snafu came up - that weekend is my grandmother's 100th birthday. I surely don't want my party to compete with celebrating her! Magy said that we shouldn't stress anyone out, especially my family, so we'll work with whatever we have. A call to my aunt and the decision to work around the shower settled us back to Oct 23rd. In the meantime, Magy said, "I was praying about the date of this shower this morning and then I suddenly realized that Kevin's going to be here for it anyway, so why rush?" Funny thing... I felt the same way that morning, but I didn't trust myself. Hearing Magy say that she heard from God was an entirely different deal. I thought of Claire and St. Francis and tucked the thought away. Then we got the call yesterday and I called Claire - I mean, Magy - on the phone and told her the news!

God's Timing isn't always about having to wait longer

We were expecting to get a status update next week to find out whether our case has moved out of Family Court yet and into the PGN. Instead, we received a phone call yesterday telling us that our case has been approved by the PGN!

Today or monday, our lawyer will receive the final adoption decree (which makes Kevin legally our child) and then it takes about 2 weeks to take care of some other paperwork, such as getting Kevin's new birth certificate with us as his parents and our last name as his and his Guatemalan passport for traveling. After that, the lawyer applies for our pink slip which denotes that we're allowed to go to the Embassy in Guatemala. It takes 48 hours for the pink slip to be issued (not including Friday, Saturday, Sunday.) When we are notified that the pink slip has been requested, then we'll make our travel plans for a few days later based on when the pink slip is likely to be issued. Our coordinaor told us to expect with 95% certainty that we'll be traveling in 3-4 weeks.


Monday, August 30, 2004

Adoption Status Update

There's a lot to write about, but I think I'll stick to the "easy" stuff... we received visa pre-approval from the US Embassy in Guatemala City! This after expecting it to take 3-4 weeks with the possibility of it being longer. Ours took 1 week. Yes, 1 week. Now our "unlikely" 4 weeks to travel timeline is looking far more possible! We'll never be ready! ;-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Your check is in our mail.

Last week I received a call from our mortgage company stating that our payment hadn't been received on time. Whoops! I somehow missed a bunch of bills last month and I still haven't figured out how but, what the heck, I've taken care of everything now - except the mortgage. The guy that called asked me to do a "check by phone" to pay the bill immediately. That would've cost $12 so I said, "No, thanks, I'll send it in." I knew I was good for it, even if he didn't. The gentleman gave me the PO Box in Dallas, TX, to send the payment to. I sent the check via Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation ($3, thank you.) I received delivery confirmation from the Postal Service last Friday, 8/20, that it was delivered at 8:17 am. "Great! They've received it and they'll post it within 24 hours," I figured.

I was wrong. I checked my account this morning and my payment wasn't posted. I spoke to a customer service rep who said that the PO Box in Dallas is a drop box and if it was received there, it doesn't mean that it has gotten to their payment processing location. Huh? How can they wait 5 days to pick up their payment mail? I'm sure they'd want to deposit everything in their bank account asap! The customer service rep stated that they can't put in a "research action" until they have a copy of the front and back of the check. Well, duh, if you lost my check, then how do I have a copy of it?

Seems to me that I'll be paying August's mortgage payment for the next 3 months until we get it right!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

DNA Match!

The clock is really ticking now! Our agency received notification that the DNA test which matches Kevin with his birthmother, to prevent adoption fraud, is positive as a match. This is a welcome hurdle to cross as it took longer than usual and we don't know why. Anyway, now that this is done, the US Embassy in Guatemala will begin the pre-approval process for Kevin's visa to come to the U.S. and our case will continue through from Family Court into the PGN. Once in the PGN, they'll look over our documents and then wait for the preapproval from the Embassy and sign off on the adoption, making it legal. After that, we wait a week or two for our "pink slip" to notify us of our Embassy appointment and then we get to travel! I am nervous to say this, but it could happen in as little as 4 weeks! It will probably be around 2 months, of course longer is always possible.

Monday, August 23, 2004

I'm scared. Ok, there - I said it.

I recently posted something I wrote to my sister explaining how we're handling this waiting period in our adoption case while our paperwork is out of our hands and is being processed however quickly or slowly the people in control of it can go. I mentioned sustainable energy and enjoying our quiet time. While those ideas are true, I've come to realize (read: admit to myself) that there is another reason why the waiting can be "easy" sometimes. I'm scared.

I'm not scared that I won't feed Kevin enough or bathe him enough or kiss his little face enough (or too much) or get him to bed early enough... I know that I can handle that stuff. What I don't know if I can handle is the nurturing of his emotional health and sense of self. He is attached to his foster mom - that is clear from the photos we've received. He is going to miss her terribly and I am so sad for his loss. How can I teach him to understand with his head and his heart that Andy and I aren't leaving, too?

What if he asks questions other than the easy ones ("why is the sky blue?" and "why is that man in a wheelchair?")? Those are easy compared to, "Why didn't my birthmother want me?" "Why didn't you grow me in your tummy?" "Do I have brothers and sisters in Guatemala?" "What about the children who don't get adopted?" What if I don't have the answers? Or, even worse, what if I think I have the answers but I get them all wrong?

I'm scared of being too tired to handle a toddler's activities. I'm scared that we won't know how to handle his personality. Perhaps he'll be an extrovert? Perhaps he'll be a manipulator? Perhaps he'll be aggressive?

I know that my fears are no different than that of any parent. And I know that people will think "it'll all work out in the end" and "you'll just know what to do" - but that alone is not comforting.

Perhaps this is one of the myriad ways that having children makes us appreciate and understand God's love for us even more. I have to consistently place Kevin and our care for him into God's hands and have an open heart to hear from Him so that I can be the best parent I can be. That's no different than how we should all live our lives, but it seems much more important when a child's soul and well-being are involved.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

150,000 miles

Congratulations to my truck for rolling over 150,000 miles! Boo, hiss to the battery for dying the same day.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Someone is writing what's in my head and it's not me

Have I mentioned how much I like the "Next Blog" link at the top of Blogger/Blogspot pages? Today I found this one by Bronwenanne. She has written about a number of things that go through my mind but which I don't spend enough time trying to decipher. I have a lot of questions regarding my Christian faith these days and she is thinking about them, too (sometimes because of class readings and sometimes, it seems, because they're just on her mind) and writing down some thoughts. I'm happy to have found her blog.

You Don't Know Which Ones Are Your Low Beams?

Yesterday morning while pulled up behind a large SUV, I noticed my truck was winking in the reflection. The driver's side headlight was burned out. I went to the auto parts store last night to buy a replacement. Their display of headlights didn't include a book to look up which number I needed so the guy behind the counter looked it up for me in his computer.

"What year?"


"Make and model?"

"Chevy S-10 pickup."

"Low beam or high beam?"

At this point, I gave him a quizzical look as I am fully aware that I need a single, sealed beam unit. My hestitation caused him to clarify his question as such....

"Is it the one that you use all the time or the brighter one?"

I never realized how stupid I must look!

I was able to convince him to find the correct part number and I bought my headlight and went on my merry way. And I used both low beams this morning on my way to work.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Christian Classics available for your edification

Sean told us last night about a website of Calvin College called the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. It contains writings in the public domain from all sorts of classic Christian authors (Jeremy Taylor, Teresa of Avila, Sir Thomas Browne, Francois Fenelon, etc.) Some are available in alternate formats such as MP3, Palm docbook, Microsoft Reader, and others.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Rolling Toward 150,000 Miles

Over the next week or two, my renowned (my description) Chevy S-10 Pickup Truck will roll over 150,000 miles on the odometer. For the past year, I've reminisced about my truck's "life." It's the only vehicle I've ever owned. I bought it new while in college and planned to drive it until it could go no more. Ten years later, it's not on its deathbed but it is ailing. I probably won't witness its final demise because a small truck without an extra-cab is not exactly family-friendly and we'll soon be in a family way. I bet we could get away with having the truck and the van if I were to drive the van with Kevin and Andy were to drive my truck to work. Unfortunately, Andy won't drive my truck (and I don't blame him for that.) He'll drive it on the necessary occasion, but that's it. I couldn't ask him to drive it every day to work unless we were in dire straits. That could still happen, but at this time, we expect we'll replace my truck with a newer vehicle soon.

I know that a lot of people drive their cars for more than 150,000 these days, but this is MY ONLY VEHICLE. In high school, I drove my parents' Mercury Grand Marquis (I passed my driver's test parallel parking that boat) and sometimes their Pontiac Firebird (yeah, that was pretty fun :-) But this truck of mine has been my only vehicle of my own - I've had it since I was in college! I'm a long way from college now. Ten years will change a person, particularly when those 10 years are during the person's transition from college student under their parents' wings to breaking out on their own with a career, marriage, and family. My truck has driven me through a lot of stages.

Stay tuned for more cheesy reminiscing.

Spin the Bonus Blog Wheel

Check out the "Next Blog" link at the top of this page. I don't know where the ads went, but I love the serendipity of clicking on that new link! After all, my favorite word is serendipitous.


Last week in my community group meeting, someone used the phrase "anal-retentive" and someone else asked if a nicer word could be used. We tried "detailed," "nit-picky," etc. and found nothing that worked as well. And a few of us (those discussing the matter) don't find anal-retentiveness to be a bad thing (metaphorical use of the term, not literal.)

This morning I read the following statement on a blog: "...those who are by nature precisionists (or anal retentive)..."

I thought the guy made up the word "precisionist" but I just found it at Merriam-Webster.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Kevin is not in an orphanage

As happens when people around the world are attempting to communicate loads of information back and forth, an important piece of info in our adoption case was not forwarded to the end of the chain. Kevin is NOT in an orphanage, he lives with a foster family (as most children waiting for adoption in Guatemala do.) The ("CUTEST") photos that I recently mentioned are of Kevin with his foster mom! We will get to meet her when we travel to pick him up and we will get to talk to her about his sleeping and eating schedule, favorite toys, foods, etc. Hopefully he will be able to bring back a favorite blanket, toy, etc. and we will take items with us to give to the foster family as replacements and help for the next children that they take care of. All of the foster families are long-time friends or associates of the lawyer. And, 2 people from our adoption agency met with the foster families on their trip 2 weeks ago and have nothing but praises for all of them.

Apparently the switch from the orphanage to the foster family occurred during the time we were accepting Kevin's referral and getting the basic info on him that our lawyer had at the time. The lawyer closed the orphanage and moved all of the children who were there into foster homes. I may have said this before, but that is one reason why the fees associated with adoption from Guatemala are higher than other countries - the kids are in foster care or in personally-run orphanages that aren't owned or run by the government. Our fees are paying for Kevin's care right now, before he can come home with us.

While this "new" information changes nothing in the grand scheme of things, it does change our understanding of the little guy's journey which will bring him to the U.S. soon. And it's nice to know that he's with a family now and by the photos we've seen recently, he loves them and they love him.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Recurrence of a Recurring Dream

My recurring dream which (I thought had) stopped recurring has recurred. Starting in January 2003, I had a dream on multiple occasions with exactly the same theme taking place in different locations. The locations weren't important - the theme of the dream was. After the 5th or 6th occurrence of the dream in a few months, I searched online on a whim to see what the great dream sages had to say about my unconscious thoughts. I found some information at one site that seemed to make a lot of sense. I challenged it by looking at some of the other search results and found similar information with even further detail into some of the images in my dream. There was the, "Such and such image represents this thing" from the first site and at the second site I found, "Such and such image represents this thing. And if the such and such image is further described with blase blah attributes, then it means this thing with yadda yadda attributes."

So was the information that I found very generic, like a horoscope, or was it spot-on to a particular situation I was dealing with? It was spot-on. And I was weirded-out by it. But, I was glad to have further understanding of what was going on. The dream was gross and I wanted it to stop.

Last fall my community/small/bible study group worked through a study that challenged me to deal with the situation to which my dreams were a reaction. I dealt with it with less than spectacular results. But, I had made the attempt and felt freed by it. I stopped having the dream.

That was earlier this year that I actually faced the situation and then last night I had the dream again. I didn't recognize it while I was in the dream, as I had learned to do when I was having the dreams in the past, but a few minutes after I woke up, I realized what happened. And I can see that something happened yesterday to bring back up what I thought was gone from my psyche. Clearly it's not and I could tell that consciously yesterday, but apparently my sub/unconsciousness wanted to make sure that I really, really knew that this situation still exists.

I suppose I should be happy that this means I will go through a growth spurt as I deal with this, but you know, growth hurts in the short-term and I'm a very instant-gratification kinda girl.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Calm FlashPosted by Hello

Flash attacking a stuffed animal cat. He's not nearly as scary as he looks in this picture. Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Adoption Status Update

We got the CUTEST pictures of Kevin from our agency's representatives' trip to Guatemala last week. I can't post them here because the adoption is not final, but I know that you'd all think he's pretty cute if you could see him :-) (I know, most of my readers found photos in their email boxes earlier this week and have seen him, but there is at least one person out there who reads my blog who is not a personal friend for family member!)

Kevin went to the doctor last week and we received the report from that visit (yay!) He is diagnosed as happy and healthy! He weighs 24 lbs and is 32 inches tall (at age 2 yrs & 3 mos); he's small but proportioned.

We learned yesterday that the DNA test to match Kevin with his birthmother (to prevent adoption fraud) was not done until this week. After the test is complete, the results will be sent to us and to the US Embassy in Guatemala City. The Embassy will process Kevin's visa pre-approval (so he can travel to the US when we pick him up.) This is currently taking anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. Right now, this area of the embassy is understaffed and the adoption caseload is not decreasing, so the wait times are pretty high compared to recent history. We have no idea how it will go once our case is there.

Also this week the social worker from Family Court met with Kevin's birthmother. The social worker will write up a report and then our case will move into the PGN (Guatemalan Solicitor General's office). It could be a few weeks before the report is written and then the PGN could take anywhere from a week or two to longer, depending on which lawyer receives our case and whether they have any issues with us or our paperwork.

The Family Court/PGN process will take place concurrently with the DNA/Embassy process. We'll hope that they finish up around the same time, as that makes pulling our whole case together that much easier for the lawyer.

We've been saying that it'll be 2-3 months for awhile now, but that's still our guess for how long it'll be before we travel to bring Kevin home. My sister asked how we're handling the wait as she can hardly contain her excitement and he's not even her child! Here is my response:

We're able to hold it all together while waiting because we know that
we can't keep a high level of excitement up for very long - that would
be draining. So we temper our excitement, only letting it out to run
every once in awhile :-) Also, we enjoy our quiet house with nobody
to care for but ourselves (and we're low-maintenance at that), so
we're cherishing the peace and quiet that we have now and that helps
to make the wait easier, also. Plus, even if this takes a few more
months, it'll still be less time that we thought it would take! We
initially figured that we'd bring our child home early in 2005, so
anytime in 2004 would be faster than we planned!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

One of my favorite flower photos. I took a ton of pictures of the flowers in our yard last year (2003). This is a Peony. Posted by Hello

One of my favorite flower photos. I took a ton of pictures of the flowers in our yard last year (2003). This is a Hyacinth.
 Posted by Hello

Locks of Love pictures, finally

I finally took a minute to figure out Hello, the photoblogging software that works with Anyway, below are our "Before" and "After" pictures that I mentioned way back when.

It's been over a year now, so we both look different again. I should put up a picture of us now, but I don't have a recent one of us.

Beth and Dianne after Locks of Love haircuts - May 2003 Posted by Hello

Beth and Dianne before Locks of Love haircuts - May 2003 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Parenting Practice With Our Cat

We have a cat, Jumpin' Jack Flash, who thinks he is a dog - or maybe a toddler - or maybe a toddler-aged dog. He made me late for work this morning (not really... I work flex-time) because he stuck his head in a small watering can that was full, got stuck, and dumped the entire thing over onto the carpet.

We're having work done on our chimney and at the moment, there is a dropcloth hanging across the now-open fireplace. There is soot in the fireplace so I find Flash's black pawprints on our white windowsills and off-white kitchen floor.

Flash lets us know when visitors come to our door. He meows and comes to find us, urging us to see who has come to see us. Could it be someone who has nifty-smelling feet? (that seems to be what he's most interested in with visitors - I suppose it's better than the type of sniffing that dogs do to greet people)

When Flash doesn't get enough attention (which is almost always) he partakes of activities that he knows he is not allowed to do, just to get attention (attention is good whether it's attention for good or bad things.) Our clothes closets are magnet-ed shut because Flash slides the doors open and crawls around inside, sometimes up our clothes. The front hallway closet is available to him, so he often pushes on those doors so they make noise and then he tromps around inside on whatever noisy objects he can find.

Flash likes to drink from any receptacle except for his water dish. After our showers in the morning, he licks the remaining water off of the tub. If we leave the toilet lid open, he'll drink from the toilet. We pick our battles; we close the toilet and let him have free reign of the shower.

A few years ago when we lived in an apartment, Flash would get up on top of the bedroom door. He did this once while we were away for the weekend. As the door swung shut, he jumped off, pushing the door closed and latched. He was stuck in our bedroom for 3 days. Note: his food and litter box were NOT kept in our bedroom.

Early in our cat parenting, we asked the veterinarian how to discipline him. He was scratching the wood off the doors, pulling up the carpet, etc. One of the vet's suggestions was "time out" in a separate room because he was doing a lot of his antics for attention. We put him in the bathroom as it was the only room besides our bedroom (which would've been much too fun for him) that had a door on it. He meowed for awhile and then took to knocking everything off of the vanity and edge of the tub and scratching at the shower curtain (they aren't as effective with holes in them.) We then tried to put him in timeout inside his carrier in the bathroom. Aha! We shut down his means to wrecking anything and assumed we were shutting down his deviant behavior in the meantime. Yeah, right - no matter whether we left him in there for 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or 20 minutes, he came tearing out ready to rumble again, craving even more attention after his stint in the deprivation tank.

When we adopted Flash from the pound, he was about 4 months old - still a kitten, but not tiny. We would watch him play and investigate his new surroundings with great parental pride and love. After a week of this, we realized that we were only paying attention to the cat and not to each other. All of our focus and attention was on Flash. While cute and worthy of such attention, he really didn't deserve all of our attention to the detriment of our human relationship. So, we planned a "date night" to pull ourselves away from the cat. This is not unlike how new parents have to schedule (and probably re-schedule a few times) time alone with their spouses away from the child(ren).

We've learned a lot about parenting from our "forever in toddler stage" cat. He tries our patience, makes us late for work, requires daily interaction, and snuggles with us on the couch.

Before you think I expect parenting a person to be like parenting a cat, never fear - I'm not comparing Flash and his needs directly to a child and his/her needs. I'm comparing some of our feelings and behaviors toward Flash to some of the feelings and behaviors we'll have toward our children.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Falling for Fall

I love the seasons of Maryland. We get to sled in the snow, smell the fragrance of new flowers, sizzle in the sun, and bask in the colored array of dying leaves. Each season has its own blessings and annoyances, but the annoyances are what make the next season so delightful to wish for. My favorite season is autumn. Today's weather is more fit for October than the first week of August and it turns my heart toward the upcoming change of seasons that I adore. I long... breathe the golden-colored air of early morning and late afternoon punctuated by ever- lengthening shadows

...for cool breezes whisking in through open windows to tickle the back of my neck harvest crisp, juicy, tart apples and grind them into refreshing applesauce and bake them into scrumptious pies

...for a hike with a jacket on hear the animals gathering nuts in the woods and crackling the dry leaves beneath their paws comb relaxed hair of smooth curls instead of the frenzied frizz of hazy summer days celebrate all that the plants have done for us this year before they take their rest

Summer has its place, but my heart is where Autumn lives.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

He Smiles!

We have a few pictures of Kevin and he looks very serious, even scared, in all of them. The doctor that has seen him said that he is shy around new people. All of this makes me think that he will be very quiet and probably not playful until he gets really comfortable around us and in our home. That may still be the case, but we just heard some really fun news from Josh, the program coordinator at our adoption agency.

A couple of agency employees traveled to Guatemala this week to meet with lawyers and such and I just got a phone message stating that Josh got to play with Kevin and he said that he is delightful and "the smiliest thing he's ever seen."

Wow, he does know how to smile! I can't wait to see that for myself. It brings tears to my eyes to think about it.

Reversible Blessing

Elesa is moving to Guatemala today. It's official; a done deal. I'm sad, but not as sad as I would be if I wasn't traveling to Guatemala in a few months (hopefully) to pick up Kevin. You see, Elesa's presence in Guatemala when we travel is a blessing because we will get to stay at their house instead of in a hotel and utilize their knowledge of the area to get around better and know what's going on.

The blessing extends the other way, too. Our adoption is a blessing because it allows us to see Elesa and her family again! So the "Goodbyes" of the past few weeks have not been as sad for me as they would otherwise. I have the hope that we will see each other again in person shortly. And she has already said that they plan to return to Maryland for a visit around February.

And, of course, now that Elesa and Jeff are both blogging, we'll all get to keep up with them that much better while they're not physically with us!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Ice Pack, Stat!

Andy says that when he's had fillings in the past, his face has swollen from the anesthetic and that it's always gone the next morning. I had high hopes for myself but they were not fulfilled.

When I woke up, it felt like the swelling was gone, or at least that it had diminished. I passed the mirror without looking, waiting until I was more awake to take a peek (I was concerned about the bruising I was going to see.)

When I looked, the bruising wasn't any worse, but would you believe that the swelling was? My cheek doesn't stick out any further but the golf ball now has a plateau around it. The swelling extends up to my eye and down to my lower jaw.

I don't have as much pain in that area as I did yesterday, so that's good. I can see my cheek, though, when I look at my computer, which is a little distracting. And it's hard to type while holding an ice pack to my face.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty

I went to the dentist today to get a cavity filled. I have a number of fillings already, so there's really nothing new with the idea of getting a filling. However, I still dread it and work myself into a tizzy (that's one of my mother's oft-used phrases), until it's over. Actually, I'm only in a tizzy until the dentist puts the needle away. I don't mind the drilling, pushing, packing, etc. of the rest of the process. Last night I even had a dream that I saw the needle! I've never seen a dentist's needle and I hope I never do. I don't know how I was able to conjure one up in my dream, but I did. It didn't look so bad, but I'll leave it at that and not bring that memory back into the front of my mind.

Anyhow... everyone who came into the room today to help asked me if I was ok. I guess my white-knuckled hands gripping my pants gave away my anxiety. I've never had a filling by this dentist, so I was very glad to find out that he took good care of me. He got the job done efficiently but he kept an eye out to my "quality of life."

When I knew the needle was put away, I let out a huge sigh of relief (not on purpose, it just naturally happened.) My body obviously relaxed and the dentist began asking me questions while he filled out some form. He asked me if I ate lunch ("He is afraid I'm going to vomit!" I thought) and then he asked me what I had. My response of "pizza" drew a more curious question... "Where did you get it from?" Huh?? Why did he care about that? Then I realized that he was afraid I was going to FAINT - he asked me questions just to keep me talking. Boy, did I feel silly.

When I got up to leave, he mentioned that I had some swelling in my cheek. He said to put an ice pack on it. Then he said it's possible I would have some bruising there also. I was pondering the idea of a swollen cheek and bruising on my face from nothing more than a filling. That's never happened to me before.

Well it surely did this time! I checked myself out in the mirror when I left the office and saw a golf ball in my cheek! Ugh, I needed to get home quickly to put ice on it. I did that and then I put on some more ice and then some more.... the swelling never went down. I suppose I helped it from getting worse, but it's not any smaller and it's been 4 hours now. On top of that, the bruising has commenced. That's not surprising because I bruise if someone breathes on me too hard, but I still am a little shocked that I am having any of this just from a cavity filling.

If this bruising continues the way the rest of my bruises have, then I have a few days of embarassment ahead of me with a big purple, then red, then blue, then green, then yellow splotch on my face. That's attractive.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

True safety

I think that Jen Lemen is a great writer. To be a great writer is nothing if you don't have good ideas to work with. They might be your own or they could be someone else's. Jen's are her own and she expresses them beautifully. Here is an example (it's kinda long, but worth it)

My first thought while reading her post is that her confession of why she's not a good mother (in the traditional sense) isn't how I see things. I'm the opposite of Jen in MANY ways - I am not an artist, I'm not a free-thinker, I like to color between the lines and I rarely veer outside of myself to take an unknown side road just to see what's there to find. I expect to be the kind of mother whose children have combed hair and clean rooms and 3 square meals a day plus 2 healthy snacks. But I hope to grow as a parent into someone who also nurtures their souls the way that Jen describes she does.

My second thought while reading her post is that I'm surprised that she and I share in the wonderment of how to raise children to have true faith while questioning our own (I was pretty sure she had that all figured out.) I have a lot of questions about God, about Jesus, about my role in their world, about "salvation", about... well, you name it. I understand that kids understand concrete concepts, but I can't formulate my beliefs into concrete concepts. I don't know what I believe half the time. So how will I tell my children what I believe? I think about that a lot. I have some ideas and I expect it'll all work out in the end (they'll have plenty of other people to help them along, as well as God, of course) but it's not something I can wrap my brain around right now.

Here is a great thought from jen:

but the words kept flowing out of me. they still do. and i wonder sometimes now if they are deeper truths of my soul. the things i really believed deep down before i grew up and got smarter and learned words to quantify love. i wonder if the truth of madeleine's innocence called out the truth of mine, that deep down i remembered somewhere that perfect love does cast out all fear. that true safety lies in the confidence that i am always present in the arms of God. no matter what.