Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cautious optimism

Is it possible to be cautiously optimistic and elated at the same time? Yes.

Yesterday morning, we were thinking we were soon going to probably have to make the toughest decision of our lives, again. Sara's discouragement with the process was at all time high, as we were coming to the realization that due to the uncertainty surrounding our case, Baby Sister may never come home with us. Needless to say, we had a rough start to our day.

We received an email from our agency director shortly after I had left home for the morning saying that she was going to be calling us from Ethiopia very shortly. Our hearts were racing. The predominant thought was that there was another infant referral for us, if we chose to look at her.

Just our luck, I missed the telephone call from our agency, but she did leave a two part message. We were correct, as there was another infant girl, but after hearing the other part of the phone message the director left us, there was no doubt we were going to let this new little girl go. The second part of the message was that the orphanage believes that Baby Sister's paperwork will be ready in 2 weeks!

That's right, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We couldn't be happier with this latest development. We are what we like to call "cautiously optimistic." But that cautiousness isn't standing in the way our elation. We are elated that things could be moving forward, that there is a good chance that the little girl we have been waiting for is inching ever so much closer to being here with us.

That great news we received yesterday was followed up this morning by 36 new pictures of our stunning little girl. I can't wait to share the pictures of her. She is beautiful. I especially like the ones of her laying in her crib with the picture of Sara, myself and the boys right there next to her in her bed. It's one of the pictures we will look at for the rest of our lives.

This process is far from finalized, but I do feel like we are moving in the right direction finally. We certainly haven't been in this alone, and I want to thank each one of you out there for your thoughts, prayers, messages, comments, telephone calls, and emails through this challenging time. Sara and I feel so fortunate to have such great people around us helping to support us through these trying times. We hope to be able to report to you very soon that her paperwork has been finished and our case has been submitted to court.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy for Baby Sister

Our adoption agency holds a chat each Thursday night that I try to jump on and see what is happening. I am usually the only male in the group of chatters, but that is alright, I am comfortable with that. I was very pleased tonight to see that our agency director was on the chat, as she was in the comforts for the Sheraton Addis which has a very reliable internet connection.

The best news of the night was that she will be going to see Baby Sister today and will be delivering the care package that Sara worked so hard on months back. Even if Baby Sister doesn't end up joining our family, we are thrilled she will have everything that we put together for her, and she will hopefully be comforted by the pictures we sent.

Sara took the time to laminate an 8"x10" picture and put a ribbon through the top of it so that it can hang from her crib, so after five months of Lleyton sharing his bed with a picture of Baby Sister, she will finally be able to do the same. That is a truly great feeling.

As I have written countless times on this blog, we love this little girl to no end and want nothing more than for her to come home with us, so knowing that she will be introduced to us within the next few hours is awesome.

Who knows? Maybe luck, fate, and fortune will be on our side tomorrow and the news we have been dreaming about will become a reality.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Can you spell Pikachu?

Yesterday, on way to IKEA were we telling Parker how much he was going to enjoy it, as the megastore offers quite a combination of cool kids stuff along with good food, both of which he enjoys immensely. We had tried to explain to him how big the store was, so once we got off the exit he pointed to a large hotel and said, "Is that it?"

I told him that it wasn't, that in fact that was a hotel. He then asked me how I knew it was a hotel, with which I answered because I can read the sign that says Marriott. At that point he wanted to know how I can read every word. I told him I was very good and reading and spelling, and that I could spell any word.

Without hesitation, he responded with, "You can't spell Pikachu."

He got me. I didn't know how to spell Pikachu. He didn't either, but now we both do.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hoping for good news about Baby Sister

Our agency director is off to Ethiopia again tomorrow, so Sara and I are again preparing for another week of waiting on some sort of word regarding our case.

We are trying to remain optimistic about the likelihood that Baby Sister will in fact be Lleyton and Parker's baby sister someday. However, as the weeks of waiting have turned into several months, the thought of that not happening has become more realistic. That is a tough pill to swallow.

Over the last few months, we have been encouraged by our agency to look at another referral and then make the decision whether or not to continue to wait for Baby Sister or accept a new little girl into our lives. I don't know if that sounds as difficult as it is, but trust me, when we face that decision again (which we have once before already, we waited), it will again be one of the most difficult decisions of our lives.

Obviously, we are hopeful that the uncertainly will go away this week, if we were to get the word that Baby Sister's paperwork has been completed and we are rolling towards finalizing this dream of becoming her parents. Hopeful and realistic are two different things, so we aren't overly optimistic about that happening.

In the wake of all of this difficult uncertainty, Sara has pressed on with putting together a room for Baby Sister, and in my opinion, this is her best work yet (which is saying alot because I really like Lleyton and Parker's rooms). We made a trip to IKEA today to pick up some odds and ends and we are nearing completion. Following a couple of a last minute decorations, the pièce de résistance will be a little girl that we can call Baby Sister.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A look into the future?

Lleyton had a little Mardi Gras party of his own this past Tuesday evening, as he proudly and confidently wore his underwear on his head and beads around his neck.

I must say that I wouldn't be too surprised to see a picture similar to this about 20 years from now of a 23 year old Lleyton living it up in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The kid likes to have a good time.

Therapeutic trampoline sounds like an oxymoron

One thing that Lleyton's therapist uses to help Lleyton burn off a little energy during our sessions with her, so that he can better concentrate on the task at hand, is a mini-trampoline. When he is having a hard time listening, or can't follow instructions very well, she has him jump 10 times on the trampoline and then try the task again. It seems to work fairly well, so we invested in a mini-trampoline of our own. He got to use it for the first time tonight, and he loved it (we knew he would).

We have read other websites and blogs about families whose children are dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder, and it seems that the trampoline is a popular tool. Another technique that we were recommended to try is giving him a full body rub before he lays down for bed. He affectionately calls it doing his exercises. So each night now, he looks forward to laying on the floor on his pillow while I give him a firm arm, leg, chest, back, and foot massage. It is fun just watching him settle down a bit and relax.

We are only through two therapy sessions, but at least we have now laid out for the therapist what our goals are during our time spent with her. We have yet to notice a difference in his behavior, but we didn't expect to this at this point. It will take time.

Time is one thing we have right now, so we will continue to diligently work with him, all the while trying to make it fun for him, so that he wants to work with us.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nice work, weathermen

Weathermen tend to catch quite a bit of heat whenever they fail to properly forecast the weather, but they're not catching much of that today. They didn't miss this one, as we have been pummeled by snow for almost 24 hours. The experts are saying we have received about 7" of snow today, with another couple inches by the time it is said and done. That snow is sitting on top of the snow that was already on the ground from last weeks snow storm. Using my unscientific approach to calculating snowfall, we have about 14" on the ground right now. That is alot.

This winter has been unseasonably cold. Over the past five years, we have had about two significant snowfalls each winter. We have surpassed that in the last week. With all of this snowfall, Parker's snow days are adding up, as school has been cancelled again tomorrow. At this rate, we may be lucky to have him out of school before our family vacation to South Carolina in July.

Daycare closed today at 1pm, so after picking up the boys we hit up Blockbuster for a couple kids movies and then we quickly stopped by Kroger to get the makings for Sara's soon-to-be-famous banana bread. Obviously yesterday maiden voyage of the bread went well, so we decided to make it again today. Here is Lleyton acting like a superhero whose signature move is smashing bananas.

For those of you wondering if we were able to complete the crown molding in Baby Sister's room, we were. The weather made it too difficult for Sara to drive into work this morning, so in between writing or responding to emails, or writing training manuals, Sara was able to help me complete the project. The assistance from Sara allowed my dad to not have to make the drive over here through the treacherous conditions. Now Sara just has to put her finishing touches on the molding and that project will be behind us.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Passing the time

Along with decorating Baby Sister's room, we are doing many other things to help make this wait just a little bit easier. For instance, over the last week or so we have celebrated Parker's 100th day of Kindergarten and we had a birthday party for Elmo, whose birthday was on February 3rd.

Parker has also become very interested in how things are made, so today he and his mom are making a loaf of banana bread. I am quite excited, as I am a big banana bread fan.

The wait has been difficult, very difficult, but these boys are doing their best to make it easier.

Helping Grandpa hang a chandelier

We are slowly but surely putting some finishing touches on Baby Sister's room. Yesterday, Sara's dad helped us install her chandelier. Lleyton was very eager to help, so before we knew it he had climbed the ladder and was all but hanging from the fixture.

I can now add electrician to the list of possible career paths for Lleyton, joining jockey, carpet cleaner, maid, and acrobat.

Tomorrow, my dad and I are going to take on the crown molding project. After that, the difficult projects should be almost behind us and we will begin our search for a few odds and ends to finish off her new room.

One of the ways we have been passing the time during this delay is by decorating and putting together her room. So maybe fate will intervene and when we are finished with her room her paperwork will come about and we can get this process moving. I have been hoping that for over four months now, so one of these days it has to happen, right?

One thing I do know is that once the process gets moving and we go over and pick her up, upon arriving home, she will a room fit for a queen.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Harnessing my feelings for creams, lotions, and sprays

My dislike for lotions and lotion-like products is unending, but I have now been forced to harness my antipathy for such products as Parker's hair is in need of some attention. As his hair continues to grow, the need to find a product to help care for it has grown as well. Parker likes his hair long. He will tell you that he wants to have hair longer than his mother's. That won't happen, but we also like his hair longer, so we have set out on a mission to find a product(s) that works well and doesn't break the bank (take a look around, some of these products can be very expensive).

Our search led us to a couple of products that I used on his hair this morning for the first time. The difference between his hair before product and after product is impressive.



I don't have alot of experience working with styling products for hair. As a matter of fact, as I was getting my haircut the other day, the girl cutting it asked how long I spend each morning fixing my hair and I told her less than 5 seconds. So this is all new to me, but I better start getting used to it, because if you think Parker has alot of hair, wait until you see Baby Sister.

For those interested in the products we chose to work with, here they are.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update to the "Baby Sister Update"

To our disappointment, there is no update to give. Due to time constraints while in Ethiopia, our agency director was unable to visit with Baby Sister during her most recent trip.

We are attempting to set up a conference call with the director and her contact in Ethiopia so that we can get up to speed on what is or isn't happening in our case. I hope that conversation can happen very soon.

We were able to see a couple new pictures of Baby Sister on the internet this week, as we found her in a slideshow from a going away party for a few of the kids at her orphanage that were being adopted. She and all of her other little friends were hanging on a couch wearing party hats. They were great pictures.

We are hopeful that something good will happen soon and our case will move forward.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I will miss you, Mother.

Yesterday evening, sadly and unexpectedly, my mom lost her mother.

She was 87 years old, a devout catholic, a mother of nine, a grandmother to 18, and a great grandmother to eight.

My grandma, or Mother as I affectionately called her, was a very special person. She was a throwback, someone that was never afraid to voice her opinion, someone who dedicated her life to her religion and her family. Her intellect was unmatched. Her wit was often subtle, but never unnoticed.

I will never forget the evening that my little sister and I were out to dinner with Mother when I was probably around 13 and Emily was maybe 9. I had finished my meal and had told Mother I was full. She proceeded to teach Emily and I a new way to phrase that we had eaten enough. A more sophisticated way to say it, if you will. Here is what we learned:

"I have an elegant sufficiency, anything more would be superfluous. If my language is too copious for your comprehension, I will diminish it to a more substantial denomination."

In a nutshell, that phrase illustrates who Mother was.

As everyone in our family has a heavy heart today, there isn't a doubt in my mind that Mother has gone to a better place and is she is enjoying her long awaited reunion with my grandfather, a man that I never had the honor to meet, as he passed away too soon over 40 years ago, and her son Kip, who also was taken from us prematurely about 6 years ago.

There has always been a seat at the table with my grandpa and Kip reserved for Mother, but we just weren't ready for her to join them yet. She will be dearly missed.

Rest in peace Mother. Your devotion to God, the Church, and your family has undoubtedly earned you the life in Heaven you so deserve.

I love you.