Monday, September 08, 2008

"Off with his head!!!"

Did you miss me?

Sorry we haven't gotten updates out lately, mom's been lazy (or busy?)

Uncle Brett, do you know what we've been up to?

Oh finally, mom's going to post about our trip!

Whew.  I really meant to post an update prior to this.  Things have been a little crazy since we got home, and I seem to have acquired the desire to be desperately lazy.  Hmm.  Maybe it was the two weeks without Joe with E&O... not sure.  Or maybe it was the cold that Joe had when we got home on Thursday and now Ezra and I are both enjoying the effects of catching the cold.  Ugh.

Anyhoo, I should start at the beginning.  On August 22 we arrived in Denver at about 11:15 pm.  We'd lucked into extra seats on the flight, so Ezra and Olivia got to enjoy sitting in their OWN seat in their car seats.  Both fell asleep for a little while at the end, but Olivia was awake again the second we landed.  Ezra, thankfully, slept through the landing, getting off the plane, and the whole reunion with my sister in baggage claim.

My sister is all grown up!  Wow.  I obviously knew she would be older and more grown up, but seeing her as an "adult" was still a shocker.  Somewhere deep inside her eyes I still saw a familiarity, but otherwise she was so different!  She's turned into a beautiful young lady that really seems to know what she's after.  Well, sort of.  Anyway, our airport reunion was nice, but brief.  My dad was there to take Joe, myself and the kids home, and my two sisters (one of whom I was reunited with 4 years ago - my sisters are bio sisters) and one of their bio brothers headed off to get reacquainted at S's home.

The next day, S & J drove up to my parent's place and spent the day visiting with us.  We had a great time getting to know each other again, and rounded out the evening with a ridiculously humiliating home video extravaganza.  I was the oldest sister, and definitely dug the leader role.  S & J really had to endure a lot with me, I tell ya.  We were all in dance, and I enjoyed (with a little of their help) coming up with recitals and such at home.  Oh yeah, we were the bomb.  I had one song I wrote about my hampster (that had died) and how I wished it would come back to me... yadada yadada.  We had this Christmas show with a program and everything... there was only, oh, 40 songs on the list... most of which were songs I'd made up.  

Ok, back to the topic.  We watched videos, laughed at ourselves, cried, talked, answered tough questions, etc.  S has been feeling sick for quite some time now and has dramatically dropped weight in the last 6 months.  Scary skinny.  We talked with Joe's mom, a Dr., and asked about some things that concerned us since part of the day S was laid up in bed away from the festivities.  J and I discussed our concerns with each other, but agreed we didn't want to get into talking about it with S yet.  J knew her and S weren't close enough for her to mention it, and I felt I needed to talk to S at the "right" time... which wasn't that day.  :-S  That night, the girls drove back to S's house about 10:00pm.  Apparently, the drive home is where the real DRAMA of the weekend began.  

Drama, you ask? Yes.  Drama.  I am a totally old, mommified bore and was out cold (sleeping) by the time my phone rang at 11:13pm.  S was freaking out and telling me there was a problem with J.  Huh?  The problem was that J wanted a beer and some time to chill out on S's porch by herself and process the crazy amount of things that were happening to her (learning more about her past, seeing her old family members after 15 years, you know... stuff).  S was worried that J was an alcoholic since she'd ALSO had a drink the night before, so she wouldn't take her to the store to buy a beer.  That's when J walked off to be alone.  That was the problem - in brief.  

I spent the next half an hour talking to each one as they handed the phone back and forth.  J had also upset S by confronting her on the sensitive health issues, so S was mad at J, J was mad at S, etc.  Neither one thought they should stay at the same 1 bedroom apartment anymore, so S asked if J could come stay at my parent's house.  I told her I'd ask my parent's since it was THEIR house and that it was late, couldn't we change the housing situation the next day?  Finally, they agreed to leave each other alone and get some sleep.

Early the next morning they arrived, ready to pull me off to the side and get their side of the story in.  We ended up spending the morning on my parent's deck having a "pow-wow."  Mom, S, J, and myself.  Things were smoothed over and both agreed that some overreacting was happening to to the high level of emotions relating to being reunited.  There was a little too much forcing of the "getting to know" EVERYTHING about each other going on.  J was going to stay with us at my parents, and they could give each other space.

Well, soon after, J asked if she could invite her ex-boyfriends' parents up to meet us as she was very close to them.  We agreed and soon they were on their way up.  The visit was brief and J decided she was going to go spend a night with them... which ended up being the rest of the time we were in Colorado.  Gulp.  I hope she does not disappear on us again, but I know it was a lot to take in.  I'm sure once she gets done with basic training and returns to Colorado she'll be ready to visit again.  I hope things go more smoothly next time, but was not altogether surprised that there were some... hiccups.  :-)

While in Berthoud, we greatly enjoyed meeting the infamous Julia and Michael!  It was so neat to see them in person, as I've followed their adoptive journey since the middle of last year, prior to their referral.  Michael was so cute, and incredibly generous to allow Ezra to cling to his mommy so much and use her as a jungle gym.  The three of them got along well, and the play date was a lot of fun.  I look forward to many more fun get togethers in the future!

So, that's THAT visit.  On Wednesday (August 27) my parent's, E&O and I were off to Chicago.  Joe flew home on Sunday since he had to work.  We spent the next 4 days enjoying the company of my aunt (mom's sister), uncle, cousins, and my cousins' 3 month old, Luke.  It was a bittersweet visit, as my aunt has been battling with cancer for seven and a half years.  She's fought an incredible battle and I admire her strength and courage through it all.  She has been a first grade teacher for years, but was unable to return this year, which is such a loss for those students that would have been in her class... she's an amazing woman.  She was so delighted with Ezra and Olivia, and showered them with some cool gifts - my favorite of which was some great books and the stuffed animals that go with them.  

Please keep my Aunt Patti in your thoughts and prayers.  This past Tuesday she went in for her final round of chemo before her next scan to see how effective it's been.  She has a mass in her chest that makes it very hard to breathe, and I pray for her breath to come easier and her pain to be lessened.  I am so proud and thankful to have such incredible cousins that take such amazing care of their mama.  It's hard to be so far away and to be able to do so little.  I am so thankful that her husband, my Uncle Al, is so strong and has been able to hold her up and help her fight through this.  The strength in their family makes me proud.  I love them all endlessly and wish our visit had been under happier circumstances.  Robin (I'm guessing you'll read this), please give Aunt Patti more love, hugs, and kisses from myself, Joe, Ezra and Olivia and tell her she's always in our thoughts and prayers.  It meant the world to me to get to have those precious days in their house enjoying the delicious treats, yummy food, and fun conversations.

While in Chicago we also got to see my Uncle Steve (my mom's brother) and my grandpa (my mom's dad).  It's been a while, and it was such a joy to show off E&O to them all.  My grandpa also has been struggling again with his heart, and apparently the valve that was replaced last year is beginning to leak again.  I wish there was something I could do to help get THAT fixed for him!  I'm sure another heart surgery does NOT sound like something he'd be too interested in at this point. 

Luke was so cute and much smaller than he looked in his more recent photos we'd seen prior to meeting him.  He looks so much like my cousin (his dad) did as a baby.  He also has this adorable, pouty lip thing he does where he sucks in his lower lip and it sort of quivers.  Totally cute.  It's funny to see him... a tiny bit bigger weight wise that Ezra was at homecoming, about a pound and a half bigger than Olivia and imagine them like that again.  They change so quickly, and yet seeing them every day it is hard to realize how much they have grown.  This was E&O's first time around a smaller baby... they've ALWAYS been the smallest in the group.  It was neat, and funny, to see them looking like the gargantuan babies.  Sadly, since Luke isn't old enough for any baby proofing to need to be done at my Aunt's house yet, it also meant 4 days of E&O going NUTS trying to grab everything in sight and not be able to crawl more than 3 feet in any direction without being turned around or picked up.  

Oh, and as for sleep.  Huh.  So much for being able to show off my good sleepers!  Poor Olivia and Ezra had been taken from home, to Colorado, to Chicago, back to Colorado, and then home.  They did sort of OK in Colorado sleeping (a few fairly minor night awakenings), fairly catastrophic in Chicago (they are somewhat light sleepers and were supposed to be sleeping in the room that adjoined the area of main activity - aka LOTS of noise! :-), back to decent in Colorado, and at home... almost PERFECT again.  Phew.  It was pretty much terrifying to watch them spiral into such an awful sleep pattern - I was sure we were doomed to a long time trying to get them back on schedule.  But, turns out, a sleeping pill or two knocks them right out!  KIDDING!  Seriously, no drugs needed, they were so happy to be home!

Overall, I think the kids were troopers.  Their world was flipped upside down, they were forced to sleep in strange places, spent LOTS of time in the PeaPods, and missed their daddy for almost two weeks.  I'm sure we were a bit of a tornado and looked like chaos to all my relatives, but considering the changes they went through, I guess I am impressed with how they did.  The toughest part for me was that for a couple of days in Chicago they began giving me some reasons for attachment concerns.  They'd start crying and crawl to ANYONE but me.  Totally NOT normal for them.  They'd even push me away a bit when I'd try to soothe them... which was an emotional blow on top of all the emotions I was already facing with my aunt's health, grandpa's health, and the drama with the reunion with J.  

I was not the most easy going person by the end of the weekend, I'm sure.  It's hard because I don't want to always "force" information on people, but know that outside of the adoptive realm, very few people know about attachment, bonding, and how important these issues can be with adoption.  Not everyone will have serious issues, but I feel it's about being proactive.  Ezi & Livi came home at a VERY early age.  According to the International Adoption pediatrician we saw that means they really shouldn't have too many issues with attachment and bonding since that tends to be more of an issue for babies/children older than 6 months.  BUT, it's still about being proactive.  Only Joe and I feed the kids (except for an exception here or there), we try to be the ones that always diaper them, lay them down for nap/bed, get them up, etc.  If they need to be soothed, we are the ONLY ones to do so, unless they are being watched by someone else while I shower or something.  This seems to be something that's hard to understand for people, so I spent a lot of effort trying to downplay how HUGE that is in my focus and running around double time to ensure I could handle the care of both of them without it seeming like someone needed to step in and lend a hand.

Does that make any sense?  Hard to explain... but it was exhausting.  I really am no super woman, and was so tired by the time we finally got HOME this past Thursday.  Thankfully, once in our own environment again they seem to be coming to me for comfort again (well... there's no one else around during the day again, I guess ;-) and I think they've fallen quickly back into their rhythm.  I am SOOOO glad we worked so hard and did "sleep training" early on.  I have no idea how I'd remain sane if life was that chaotic and out of whack for more than 2 weeks!  Now, if only Ezra and I didn't have colds.... boohoo!

Saturday was kept exciting by a visit from our neighbor, Stephanie.  She came running over while Joe was home with two napping cuties and I was out getting groceries with my mom.  Our neighbor needed a hero, but Joe couldn't leave the house.  As soon as we got home, Joe grabbed me and started to fill me in as we ran over to Stephanie's house.  They had a rattlesnake hanging out in their backyard, which was a serious threat to their three small dogs (fellow mini dachshund family!).  Stephanie grabbed a big shovel, handed it to Joe, and we began searching for where the snake had gone.  Upon locating it, I egged Joe on since he's a bit of a snake wimp.  Not that I'm not, but I knew he wouldn't go through with it without some assistance.  ;-)  After a little prodding, the shovel went squishing down through the snake's neck, crunching as it went.  Ewwww.  I covered my eyes and ran away; I've seen enough snake gore from living in the country along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  Joe chopped off it's head and saved the day!  Poor snake was definitely chillin' in the wrong place, that's for sure.  Sorry dude!

Oh, and one last bit of info.  Chloe (my super cool mini dachshund that has enough attitude to fill the entire state of California) had a checkup with her neurologist, Dr. Berry today.  I loaded her and the kids up and headed in to see the super cool, South African neurologist that saved Chloe's life early last November.  We have been able to reduce her Cyclosporine levels quite a bit over the last two months - a slow weaning process to see if her body can handle it without her brain swelling again and herniating BACK into her spinal canal.  She's done GREAT and over the next 2 months we'll reduce her medication levels further.  We go see Dr. Berry in two months and if she's done well with the continued reduction, she'll be taken OFF Cyclosporine!  A huge feat for Chloe, that wasn't expected to live through all this.  She's had quite a year - Menigoencephalitis, bladder stones, a cystotomy (to remove the stones), ear infections, and nasty side effects from the Prednisone.  Her Cyclosporine cost $200/bottle and we were going through a bottle every 4-5 weeks.  Yikes.  Plus, finding arrangements for the dogs when we leave town was so challenging because of her medication and how crucial it was for it to be given to her at the right time, two times a day.  Thank you Claudia for always taking care of our fur babies when we leave town!

So, that's the last two weeks, in a VERY big nutshell.  

Whatcha lookin' at?  This post is OVER!


Kerri said...

Holy cow!!! I'm exhausted just reading about your vacation. The kiddos are adorable!
Kerri, Medina, and Ruby

Elsa said...

Your kids are sooo stinkin' cute! You have a couple of future heartbreakers on your hands.

Sam said...

WOW you all were crazy busy. what an exciting trip (and really cute pics by the way)