Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spleeeeet!

Isaac has been dancing a lot lately. It is spectacular.
We are humming along, rolling, tripping, falling into rhythms. Every day ends with me surprised how much we stuffed into it, and a list of things leftover nagging me to stay up to the wee hours getting a few things done and procrastinating many more.

Primrose and Isaac, the personality twins, wake up at about the same time in the morning. Sometimes Toby joins them and he’s tall enough to lift her out of her crib while J and I get ready and start breakfast. She wakes up so happy it's ridiculous. It's a Rockwell painting all up in here for the first 5 or maybe 6 minutes of every day.

Footed pajamas, eldest brother reading. A wholesome start to any day.
Tomorrow we have her MRI and (hopefully last for a while) blood draw. She’ll be sedated and it’s supposed to take about four hours from check-in to release. I'm trying to keep my hands open and unclenched, to follow wherever God's going with this thing. Being grateful and also worried is a sour mix, hard to sustain. 

She did this "All Socks Are My Puppets (TM)" move in the front row of the Eugene Symphony kid's concert.
It was entertaining. I especially liked when she clapped enthusiastically for us with one ensocked hand.

I am looking forward to the day after the results from the tests, the day everything relaxes and goes back to getting back at it. I painted my nails (almost never do the fingernails because it feels weird when I play) all sparkly tonight and then realized that's what I had done the day before she met us at the Children's Welfare Institute. She may be doomed to go through life with a strange aversion to tacky nail polish. I am throwing away the bottle if it's a bad day. 

Still a fan of balloons. Well played, spaghetti factory balloon animal guy!
The last few weeks haven't been pretty. I had a disgusting case of pink eye which led to an infected cornea. I missed a symphony concert. It was a bummer. It feels better now, but I think it takes me longer lately to get back into our schedule whenever something pushes us off it. It's either a 3-kid thing or a 40-something thing. I think it's high time I re-read Getting Things Done or Letting Things Go or Drinking Wine for Fun and Profit.

Some folks on a homeschooling forum I read were responding to a mom asking about adoption from China and I found reading the thread depressing. One of the respondents in particular warned her to be wary of any blog saying everything is "wonderful" in their family after adoption. I know we are still so new to this, and we truly were prepared for harder things, but it stung a bit to feel like our experience still doesn't count in the spectrum. I hope the person who posted the thread wasn't discouraged. 
Isaac has figured out how to climb poles over concrete.
I told him not to climb higher than my head.
Our insurance company doesn't read this blog thing, right?
Thankfully one of her super-powers is not massive upper body strength.
We are not making this up, exaggerating or leaving out a bunch of bad stuff, though part of me still waits for the other shoe to drop. Maybe there is a hidden medical need. Maybe she'll display Radical Attachment Disorder or she'll be a terror and hate us when she's grown. Maybe she'll hate adoption and fight against people being allowed to do it. Maybe she'll wear fringed jeans jackets and play electric piccolo in a new country band (sorry, that was harsh but I have to go there, after all these are our darkest fears. Spleeeee-eeeeeet!).

Right now, from my blissfully unqualified position, I believe it will not matter if any or all of those things happen. Crap, I am tearing up realizing and writing this. Don't worry- the tears are no longer contagious. It's so sappy. I have drunk all the koolaids because this whole thing including the years of waiting and the financial sacrifice is just so worth it. 'Worth it' isn't even in the right universe. 


So tomorrow we tackle the MRI. I'm just going with banking on her forgetting the whole thing.

MWAH!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Dollhouse Score!

Subtitle of truth: I have a girl now!
Subtitle of truth part two: Isaac wins for kid most excited about this project, so what was I waiting for, anyway?

I have decided I am indeed the kind of person who would make a dollhouse including tiny funky things to go inside. It will be fun to make little versions of the things I'd like to put in an actual house. A good placeholder project is helpful when you're trying to be patient.

We stopped by the "Dig 'n Save" Goodwill. This place is not for the faint of heart. They put the goods out in barely-sorted industrial bins and it's all sold by the pound. When they roll out a new bin, people flock in like carrion animals. We ignore the bins, or more accurately I forbid the boys to touch anything fabric there and we even ignore the (vaguely smelly) books. Despite my germophobic tendencies, we have found several bookcases and kid's toys there and it's always a steal. We stick to things that can be Clorox wiped. I thought of a trip out there as soon as I realized I want a dollhouse to fancy up.

As seems to happen when your standards are low, we found exactly what we wanted! A big huge garish KidKraft dollhouse complete with real moving elevator. In its current condition it looks like a fire station, but I plan to wallpaper the guts out of it. It was a grand total of $5 and sells new for about $175 at Costco, so it's no great loss if we fail to get it going.

We also got a ride-in car thing and a small sized red trike in great condition. The total bill was $23. I told you it was a steal. Dig 'n Save, we love you and your smelly truly flea-bitten self.

If we get anywhere with re-decorating it and making cool things, we will post here! Leave a comment if you have ideas, or tell me on facebook. I'm not a fan of super fru-fru things, but I like stuff that looks old. I love artsy things and since Primrose loves paintings I think we'll put in a mini gallery on the top floor. Imagine a rotating collection of tiny versions of famous works in varying styles as we study them in homeschool. Groovy, if it actually happens, right?

$23!
(Kids and library books not included.)

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Days Are Just Packed (apologies to Watterson)

How quickly do kids recover from awful days?

Really really quickly.

After that nasty morning, she napped a bit and then was bundled into the car to go to Toby's piano lesson. She adores the piano and wants to do whatever the boys are doing. This makes it nearly impossible to keep her away from it during the lesson, and she does these insane little dances behind the upright's soundboard. She's a noisy clapping distraction machine for most of the lesson. I keep hoping it will end up being good for Toby to learn to focus through it anyway. Thank goodness his teacher is so patient.
In this game, I pretended to tickle her at each chair. 
On the way home from the lesson, she uncharacteristically fell asleep again. It gave me time to snap my new favorite pictures.
Tucking her head into my neck is one of the best things all day.
Maybe all year.


After that we took her to meet her daddy's parents, in town from Montana. An excellent judge of character with a keen eye for kindred spirits, she of course took to them immediately.

Who doesn't love a cup of ranch dressing shared with a toddler who likes to eat with her fingers? 
We've decided to try to convince the pediatrician to modify the test orders so they can take the rest of their pint of blood when she's already sedated for the MRI. There are definitely benefits to having a fantastic doctor for a Grandpa. Like every night for the past few weeks, she went to bed with a smile on her face after collecting her kisses. That's another thing it would be great to have rub off on me. Good night!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

What are you people thinking?!

The medical fun continues.

How about a popular parenting topic for a change: waste management (change! the puns are killing you, right?). I've never really had a problem changing diapers. Poor J will do it without ever complaining, but he has a much more finely developed gag reflex and it tends to fire on him when a diaper's particularly pungent. That has yet to happen to me. Until now.

I'll just come out and tell you; we have to fill 7 vials and 6 paper smearing thingies with fecal samples. It's as awful as it sounds. It seems to take forever and I feel like bleaching the world when I'm done. There is a chasm of difference between folding up a diaper and immediately sealing it away in the diaper genie in the garage vs. performing this vile (vile vial!) task in order to allow the medical community to do their duty. And that's all I better say about that.

The other task at hand is the endless blood letting. With checking vaccine titers and infectious disease tests, there are about 15 things that require around eight vials of blood. We learned today that her veins are "tiny" and are not disposed to giving up the goods. Duh, of course they aren't.

She screamed and struggled the entire time, working herself and me into a sweat. The phlebotomist chastised me a bit for allowing her shoulder to move (seriously!) even though I was holding it so tight I was afraid it would bruise and part of my hand fell completely asleep from the pressure. I'm going to ask them to do it with her laying down next time rather than in my lap. When the flow slowed and stopped, they had to do the other arm. Then that stopped, too. The plan had been to get most of it today and then a smaller amount, but instead we're in for the same kind of party tomorrow.
Before.
After. You can't tell, but even her hair was soaked.
She recovered quickly, though afterward she pointed several times to her inner elbow with a "what the heck?" expression on her face. "Mom, what is WITH those people?" she'd like to know. She fell asleep in the car on the way home, about an hour before her usual nap. I don't blame her.

She's such a clear communicator, she must think we're all a little dense relying on these silly words all the time. I wish we could explain more about this strange world to her in a way she could understand right now. The other day at Red Robin she was entirely freaked out by a person-sized Statue of Liberty in the lobby entrance. After standing in the same spot for five minutes, she suddenly started clawing up me, and sort of quietly screaming "Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhhhhhh!" Once we were seated and eating, she kept pointing over toward it and babbling questions our way, tilting her head and scrunching her eyebrows a little. I tried touching the statue's nose, tapping on the metal and explaining it was a toy. None of it was convincing her this creepy thing belonged near vulnerable unarmed humans.

She's right: it is a creepy statue.
We'll have to keep just confusing her with our weird world. Can't wait to hear what she thinks of all this when she's old enough to understand us better. I've always loved the chatty stages. This morning, Isaac was curious about whether I had ever been in the Ballet or if I was perhaps breaking a rule by using the Ballet Parking at the Children's Hospital. He also announced to the phlebotomist, "I'm here to comfort her when you start in with the needles." Ha.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Climbing, hugging, mothering: she's kind of a big deal.

Our days have been packed with all kinds of normal. I know it probably seems like we are hamming up life in this blog and facebook, but truly, it is amazing what we see each day. Hugs between siblings. Doors held open. Gifts of the most precious commodities (Pokemon Cards and the last bite of anything) offered freely.

Despite all this, by evening just about every evening, I am crispy around the edges. I want space to myself and time to browse through my thoughts instead of grasping at thinking anything in any way independent of my function as a mom. The contents of our refrigerator feel like a dinner-making exam, and I don't know the material. Poor Isaac's happy and incessant chatting from the backseat in downtown traffic makes me crazy and I have to ask him to look out the window instead. I'm weary of insignificant tasks burying me in piles of hours. What I need to do is get back on the treadmill more often, because that is where my own personal cleaned out headspace happens best.

Primrose and I both loved Sushi out tonight.
I didn't have to cook and she got to eat
raw fish eggs. Win win!
Our Primrose loves herself some parks and in particular the slides. Today I watched her figure out how to climb a metal and rope ladder designed for older kids to get to a very nice shiny silver one at the Fields Neighborhood Park. One thing Portland does well is adventuresome simple gorgeous parks. We played in the sun among the tasteful plantings and chic modern brushed aluminum fencing between the millionaire flats and the industrial district, watching an impossibly huge red crane constructing a building across the street. I actually didn't notice the crane (easily 100 feet tall) until FangFang pointed it out to me. Do other moms notice they often don't really see a place because they're so busy looking down at tiny humans and counting heads? The boys found another red-headed boy to fly with them on a metal hammock swing, and Isaac finally made it over a tall web of rope he has been trying to conquer for several years.
She can have all my money as long as she's somewhat quiet during Isaac's lesson. 
One of my favorite benefits of this whole homeschool shindig has been the freedom to have mornings like this. It had started with a cello lesson, and went from there to the cello shop that just happens to sit next to the rad park. Honestly, I'd only meant to spend a few minutes there to placate the boys, but it went so well we spent a little over an hour. Everything does take longer with three kids, and it's not just because of the practical aspects. Sometimes it just takes longer to enjoy all three.

This scheme totally worked 98% of the time.
She was trying to sing his cello songs in the car afterward.
Other moms I see seem completely created to go at the pace of their kids. I'm just not like that, and hope I don't give the false impression on this blog that I'm really all that good at this parenting gig. As an impatient person, I try to take all the opportunities I can to slow myself down and notice each of my kids in a given day. It is entirely possible to parent all day long without really seeing my kids for all the tiny unending tasks, and I am the one who misses out when that happens.

I've noticed our daughter is very awake for a 1 year old. I know the more common word there would be "aware" but she is more lively than my boys were at her age and "awake" feels more like what I mean. They've always been pretty smart cookies too, but this kid, she surprises me all the time. She, unlike me, notices everything. She watches kids and adults and then tries to do whatever they did. She remembers multiple steps and understands what you are talking about, often even if it involves words she's probably only heard a few times. Yesterday when dishing out leftovers from a Chinese restaurant for lunch, I asked the boys if they wanted some Egg Drop Soup. She made it quite clear that she would like some, right away please. We have eaten that with her exactly once and nobody said "Soup! SOOOOOUUUUP!!! This is called SOUP!!!" to her. In fact the food was so good and we were all so hungry, we just went about distributing it and making mmmmmm sounds as quickly as we could, like a pile of chubby insects. But she remembered anyway. Stuff like that I find impressive.

Calvin & Hobbes is a favorite of the boys.
Therefor, she has decided she must read it while they have swim lessons.
Yesterday the boys had kind of a rough day and by late afternoon both had had crying fits. They were tired, the barometric pressure was off, I'm a mean mother, a curse was upon them... I dunno why. Primrose went up to them each and gave them a hug, then babbled at them in a gentle approximation of mom-voice. She's just good at things. More specifically, she's good at people. I'll have to wait and see if any of this stuff rubs off on me.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Passing tests, winning hearts.

Subtitle of truth: All words, no adorable pictures. Fair warning!

Primrose completed the first three of four big labs today: an ultrasound, an x-ray and a contrast enema x-ray (boo-ya, it's always a good blog when you can use that word!). Toby and J were off at swim team, Isaac was building elaborate balloon-and-yarn games in the front hallway, and I had just put our girl down for a nap after a long morning. It was the perfect moment to call in and start scheduling some of the un-fun on our medical to-to list.

The scheduler surprised me after offering a date two and a half weeks away by mumbling casually that if we could get to the hospital ASAP they could get all but her MRI done today. Isaac was a champ, helping me grab her shoes & socks and a bag of toys. He held open all the doors and pushed all the elevator buttons while I carried the drowsy princess to her waiting staff.

It's never easy to see a kid cry and hold them down anyway, but it was harder to do today than it ever was with my boys. They always had us there with them any time something difficult had to be done, and we have always known what the general result would be. All we know about our daughter's medical experiences comes from dry translated paperwork we've been given. On FangFang's Chinese Child Welfare medical report, it says she didn't have a foster mom until she was four months old and then it was "for the professional care and enjoy the warmth of family." She had already been in the hospital twice by then and the second time was for two different kinds of post-operative infections. It's hard to believe that living in the orphanage didn't contribute to those problems no matter how much they have improved over the past 20 years.

After her fosters were on the scene the report starts to say things like, "her mother usually takes her to the park" or "her mother says she likes aspermous watermelon" which we take to mean seedless, and YES ma'am, she really really does. Is it odd that I love to see the word "mother" in report without the qualifier "foster"? I hope this baby knew love and assumed it would always be her own. She's certainly had practice at bonding.

Thanks to two other empty open handed mothers tonight, she will forgive me for holding her down. I imagine it's possible she's accessing that pragmatic resignation we have benefitted from and that I never want her to need again. Her hitching hoarse-voiced cry stuns me, but I can't help but welcome finally getting to it. I was surprised to feel something like joy being able to stroke her hair and hold her little body along with the nurses in the nautical candy-painted x-ray room. Selfishly, I was almost eager about the whole thing, raring to take my spot and give her everything she could want. Everything except of course to get up and leave that awful radiology place where they do such uncomfortable things to her.

The results came while we were at a park afterward (way to be prompt, amazing OHSU pediatric radiology department!) watching her slide and run and squeal. She has all her organs, and initial reports show all functioning well. Can you believe that? I don't yet. I haven't cried much, and I feel like maybe I haven't breathed much since she came home. I'm doing a bit of both tonight.

We went right out and had a celebration dinner where she ate my whole veggie burger and all the tomatoes from my salad. Then we promptly bought her and her ecstatic brothers an aquarium. It seemed the thing to do.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Not a bat of a lash!

The first appointment for our girl today went very well. It was a piece of cake, proving that worrying works. The pediatrician was very thorough and kind, helpful in every way. We didn't have any blood drawn or shots given so as far as Primrose is concerned we spent the afternoon in a too-small play room with a killer view meeting strangely touchy-feely people all in matching outfits.
It's a blue unitard type thing. She really isn't half-nekkid, I swear.
To make today's appointment doable, my Mom drove up from Salem an hour away to watch the boys. This meant taking Toby to his piano lesson, which ended up meaning they sat on the freeway for 40 minutes trying to get home when somebody's truck went up in flames during rush hour. My mom's reaction to these inconveniences upon inconveniences was to take the boys out to dinner and give them a Pokemon movie she found earlier in the week. I just hope the boys don't connect car fires with wealths of little boy treasure raining down upon them, or we'll have to research homeschool anti-arson curriculae ASAP.

People have asked how we ended up adopting. We have had a long time to think about that, but never had a good answer until just the past few weeks. "It is just something I have always wanted to do" was the best I had up until now. When I turned a million years old and was still single, I even daydreamed about adopting on my own. Jonathan and I talked about it the day we met. Lately I've been realizing a better, more clear answer: I got this impulse from my parents. They find ways to be family to people. No, that's not quite right: they see the people around them as family. They're the kind of friends who will be there to help in practical ways and who never forget when others are generous with them. They do it easily, without it feeling formal.

I have never felt more like we really live here than now.
The truth is, left to my own devices I just like my people. My little group here, maybe with a few extras from outside life. But it's good to stretch. Primrose is our daughter- she's my people now, and my people are better for it. Getting to her, however, was a stretch. Or it felt like one at the time. Now that she's here it feels like it was the kind of stretch somebody makes to reach a TV remote or the drink menu rather than one that would equal a marathon or something impressive. Last night Isaac said, "Mom, I'm super tired tonight but I'm really glad she's finally here." Words right out of my mouth, kiddo.

Stickers in the bottom of my bag saved our bacon in the waiting room.
We have no less than a page and half of additional medical tests ordered up and ready to go. It's too much to worry over so I'm just putting my head down and stepping forward. Spoiler alert: my Mom's already on board for helping with the boys.