Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Just wanted to wish you Happy National Pancake Day! We, of course, celebrated with a trip to our local IHOP. A free shortstack for each guest along with a suggestion that you consider donating to the Children's Miracle Network. We have a few locations to choose from and we had to pick Coleman up from school at 8 p.m. (he had been there since I dropped him off at 7:45 a.m. - middle school has a lot to offer, and it is a lot of fun, but somedays are way too long) so we narrowed it down to 2. The one closest to the school is really small and has a funny smell. It is not in the best part of town, but tends to not generally be crowded (probably for the reasons I just mentioned). Then there is the bigger location that is newer and in the mall area, so generally pretty busy. We decide to go with a possible wait at the busier location over taking our life and our health into our own hands. The place is packed as it would be on free pancake night - but with college students. We were not thinking about the local University and all of the starving students there for free pancakes. It was pretty funny - they all ordered the free pancakes and a water. I remember those days all too well!

There is a funny story about the way this all started. In trying to find a variety of soft foods for Sam, I decided we would have pancakes for dinner last Tuesday night. The kids came home from school and were so excited because someone in Coleman's class had told them it was National Pancake Day. I thought it was really coincidental that I was already planning on making pancakes. That was also Nubbin Day so we decided that instead of making pancakes, we would go out and get some. We show up to IHOP (really not somewhere we regularly go, contrary to the past week) and I jokingly remarked that the parking lot was really empty for Nat'l Pancake Day. I really thought that it was just one of those random holidays that you only know about if you have a free Hallmark pocket calendar. We get to the table and see the sign about free pancakes and think "Bonus! Everybody is stupid but us - we are here at IHOP on Nat'l Pancake Day and we get free pancakes.......But wait, Robbie what is it that you are reading? The 12th? No, it can't be." But yes it was - we were a week early for this National Holiday. So then and there we swore to brave the crowds and celebrate for the 2nd week in a row. Honestly, you would think we have all the time in the world, the way we galavant around from IHOP to IHOP. We ate our shortstack, donated to a good cause, and I hope you will join us next year!

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Nubbin

(1995) Chandler Bing from the Friends TV show. In The One With Phoebe's Husband, he refers to his third nipple as his "nubbin", but eventually has it removed via an operation he calls a "nubbinectomy" (the word implying surgical removal of a nubbin). When asked by another character (Ross) if it could "do" anything, he replied that it could "open the delivery entrance to the magical land of Narnia." Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernumerary_nipple

The welt/bump/lump that we affectionately call "My nubbin" appears to be looking better. Not so much smaller, but less angry. I think that the antibiotic the dermatologist gave me is working and that is a good sign. We still have no test results back, but after a week on the meds, I do notice a difference. Although not technically a "nubbin," I wonder if a nubbinectomy would do the trick!? One more week and we should know something - thanks for your concern!

Creature of Habit

My little Sam is such a creature of habit. To explain, he had to wear arm splints in the hospital to keep him from touching his mouth. We were instructed to keep them on him at home unless he was being watched. Well, he is always being watched because he is such a busy little bugger and gets into everything, so he just wore them at nap and nighttime. Now when he gets in bed, he automatically holds his arms out. Enough time has passed and his stitches are out so he really doesn't need them anymore, but still every time, he stretches out those little arms for his splints. Try and explain to him that he doesn't need them anymore! He gets very concerned and will insist that you put them on. Every day after nap, he gets up to go potty, wash his hands and get in the car for carpool. If he weren't so little he could do it all himself. And don't try to skip a step or change the order. He often uses a potty chair instead of the ring in the big potty (he is not big as a minute ~ almost 3 years old and wearing 12-18 month clothes). After he goes, I take the "pot" out, dump the contents, add some soap and water and rinse it out. After observing, he will go potty, jump up and try to pull out the "pot" and try to do it himself. I am all for independence, but this crosses a line for me. Again, it is that independent and habitual behavior. When he gets to the car, he expects a snack. For a while, we had those big industrial Sam's club size snack boxes in the garage. I would pull a snack out of the box to give him in the car. Since his surgery, he is only allowed to have soft and pureed foods, which is quite a challenge for a little guy with food issues and who expects things to happen the same way every time. We are very schedule oriented as much as possible (with 5 kids it is pure survival) so it only feeds his need for habitual behavior. This only adds to his frustration. I have now bought and baked softer snacks, which are kept inside. He would become very upset that the snack was not coming from the usual box. And he holds a grudge. He will cry for 30+ minutes over this and all the while refuse to eat the new snack, even though it is something that he loves. I don't push the issue. I find that if I just walk away and (figure out how to) deal with the tantrum, he will eventually calm down and accept the new way of doing things. Sometimes it takes a few days. There are some things that we can not give in to like the soft vs. crunchy food. Sam cried for days over not being able to eat goldfish after the surgery. That is what most of his tantrums have been over. The doctor says only soft and pureed food, and we are not veering from that. The long term is more important than giving in, creating a new habit and dealing with the effects. The kids have been great by not asking for or eating snack in front of Sam, and Emma is no worse for the wear eating lots of yogurt, pudding, applesauce and muffins. Sam has had little to no control over all of these huge changes in his life and he is exerting what little power he has left - and then to lose the foods that make life so wonderful and that were in great supply since coming home from China. It is sad and it tears at your heart, but then I think of the surgery and what opportunities will come his way as a result. Thanks to the tubes, he can now hear. Thanks to the palate repair, muscle pad build up and frenulectomy, he will have a chance to speak as clearly as you or I. Thanks to the stint, his surgical site has been protected from trauma and his pain has been lessened. Thanks to the plastic surgeon his scar has been cleaned up and lengthened to accomodate his growth and his nose is symmetrical. It is amazing how "in perspective" things can get after a few good nights sleep (for mom). And speaking of sleep, the poor little things still gurgles and rattles and snorts and snuffs (We read Moo, Baa, LaLaLa by Sandra Boynton ~ the rhinocerous snorts and snuffs so Emma says that Sam is our rhinocerous), so Jack has moved out of their room and now sleeps on an air mattress in Coleman and Robbie's room. The doctor said that this will pass as soon as the swelling goes down. Sam is such an amazing kid - resilliant as many kids are. His spirit is amazing. I am lucky to be his mommy!

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Gung Hay Fat Choy ! Happy New Year! This year we celebrated the Year of the Rat with our dear friends Carrie, Celia and Sonya (yes, Robbie's Sonya). They came over for dinner. Carrie stopped by Penang and brought us the most amazing food - I felt like we were in China (but with no squatty potties), the food was so authentic. We had ordered a few things from a local Chinese restaurant that were clearly westernized so it was really cool to eat things that we would not normally try here in the U.S. She even ordered us fish served in all it's glory just like in China - no waste. It was looking at me, teeth bared. I should have taken a picture. Carrie speaks fluent Chinese, something that you would not expect from this fair skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed Midwestern girl. She spoke to Sam in Chinese and told him a few commands which he followed! I was so happy to know that he still remembered. Carrie and another friend of ours, Francis, who is from Taiwan, have talked with me about starting a Chinese play group. I am hoping we can get this going soon. I want my older boys involved too. We had a great time and just enjoyed being together. We exchanged red envelopes and the kids played. It was very low key which is where we are at right now. Maybe next year we can go to a big celebration, but for now we kept it simple. Go and check out the cake that my friend Michele and fellow Chongyang mom had for their New Year celebration - it is amazing!

many thanks

I really want to thank everyone for the comments, emails, phone calls and offers to help. Just knowing that you are here is so amazing. Writing the previous post was very cathartic - I really felt better just to get it out there and out of my mind and heart. And so many of you made me laugh, and I really needed to laugh. A family member commented that my posts are usually so upbeat and this was so unlike me. I am a positive person by nature. It is as much a part of me as my nose. But sometimes things are tough. I do not want someone reading this blog, following our story to get a false idea of what it is like to adopt and parent a toddler. It is not easy. Would I change a thing? Not in a million years. It is as fiercely amazing as it is difficult. My kids are wonderful. We get compliments on them everywhere they go - from their behavior to their intellect to their sense of style. But they are kids. They make messes and talk back and cry (oh how Sam cries....) and make me want to pull my hair out. I sometimes find that my jaw hurts, and I realize it is from gritting my teeth. I visited a blog tonight and this mom was honest about an encounter she had with her daughter that she felt weary about. Most moms have felt this way one time or another. And if you haven't, you probably aren't being honest with yourself. I do not want to parent Emma and Sam differently than I did my 3 older boys just because they are adopted. I love each of my children deeply. Do I take into consideration their life experiences when I react to them? Sure I do. When Sam was having those tremendous tantrums recently, I really thought about the 2 major life changes - adoption and surgery - this little creature had endured (and endured well, I might add) in the last 6 months of his life and who knows how many others in the past 2 years. Was is still frustrating? Absolutely!!! Talking to friends and sharing with other moms is so helpful. Your advice, support and listening was really what I needed to get over my slump. I am back to feeling good, laughing and enjoying my children. I have a good life.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you just don't know where to start? I feel that way about my blog and my life right now. I have so much to say and so many photos to share that I don't even know where to start. I have so much to do that I don't even know where to start. I have started getting back into the swing of checking out the sites of people I have met online. There is a great debate going on over at 1000 blogs right now about Super Tuesday. Her blog is new to me, and I have really enjoyed reading it over the last 2 days. I am drawn to people who have the courage to say it the way it is and who aren't afraid to get "snarky," as Senja would say. Even if our views don't always agree. All right - it is catch up time. Since last October, 4 of my 5 kids had a birthday. I know am the proud mom of a 12, 10, 6, 3 and 2 year old! And that leads into being OVERWHELMED. Things have been really rough with Sam and his recovery. His medical recovery has been picture perfect, but along with that are numerous doctor appointments, some at 7 a.m. (about 45 minutes away) and with that comes trying to get all of my other 4 kids to 4 different schools, grandpa's house,.....at the crack of dawn. My kids are in private school and there are no busses. My dear friend Carrie drove to my house to get my kids to school one week during my appointments. Now that is a friend! We have had colder than normal temps and lots of rain (good thing) but it just adds to the mess. Atleast our snow issues are over - we love snow in the South, but not while my baby is in the hospital. As good as the medical issues have been (Thank you Jesus), the behavioral issues have been horrible. I can not even begin to describe how bad things have been. These fits and tantrums are like none I have ever seen or experienced (and I have experienced a few). I feel so bad for him, but at the same time it is so frustrating. From the day of Sam's surgery forward, I went nonstop for 10 days, with little sleep, trying to keep up with Sam and keep our daily life on track. If we skip a day of laundry it takes double time to keep up. I was looking forward to the weekend where I could share some of the responsibilities with Russ. As the weekend approached, plans for Russ and our 2 oldest boys to go to Charleston with Boy Scouts were finalized. I was so upset. I was exhausted and needed a break. I really thought we were going to talk about it. It had been planned back a few months ago but when Sam's surgery was scheduled we were going to "reevaluate" things as the weekend got closer. Russ' birthday was the day before they left and I lightly expressed my opinion, in respect for his special day. I could not believe he was going on this trip, knowing I was exhausted and starting a migraine. He still doesn't really understand what I was upset about and I still have yet to get a "break." While they were in Charleston, Robbie started running a 102.5 degree fever, so I was tending to him while helping Sam through his tantrums and of course all of the attention to the boys caused Emma to seek more Mommy Time for herself. I could not even speak to Russ when they got home. And here we are a week later, and still no true break for Mommy. I know that being a mom is 24/7 and I welcome it, love it, However..... sometimes our bodies and spirits just need some respite. Things with Sam are looking up. For the past 4 days, I have seen a dramatic improvement in Sam and his frustration. He had a little setback today (I will get into all that soon). I had a dermatology appointment and he went to stay at MiMi's house. He just loves going there, but he was uneasy today and had some trouble. I picked him up this morning and it continued to be a difficult day, but by this evening he was back to our sweet little Sam. While I was at the dermatologist, I got some unexpected news. I have a bump on my chest that was not a mole, more like a hive that you would get if you were having an allergic reaction. My doctor was puzzled by it. She tried to lance it (OUCH!) but to no avail so she biopsied it (OUCH x 2). We will get the results in about 2 weeks. She is concerned about it but told me not to worry (yea, right! has she met me??). I have had basal cell issues in the past, but this could be more than that. I would appreciate your prayers. There is a good chance that it is a MRSA cell, just a superficial abcess related to the strain that Emma and Sam had in the fall. I will keep you updated. She put me on an antibiotic and is hoping that it will cause the bump to flatten and go away. That is my prayer.