Friday, September 12, 2008

Baby Crap... I mean Baby Gap

Hmm.  Maybe that's not such a nice thing to call this post.  Besides, I'm not really sure who's to blame for the morning's insanity, but as far as I'm concerned... 

Let me start at the beginning.  On Tuesday Olivia and Ezra were asked to audition for Baby Gap's Spring 2009 ads.  I agreed - so long as both kidlets were healthy by the audition today.  We were given an appointment time of 11:35 am, and the kids had been ASKED to come based on a photo Gap had already seen of them.  

Ok.  Los Angeles, Friday, 11:35 am.  Got it.

This morning begins:

7:00 am   Feed hungry babies

7:30 am   Run around house preparing stuff needed to take for audition (bottles, food, diapers, clothes, etc.)  Pretend you don't hear two screaming mimi's begging for attention and climbing up your legs every time you pass through the room.

8:30 am   Allow crazy babies to climb all over you for a half an hour like their own personal jungle gym.  Prevent as many poking of the eyes and hair pulling between the two of them as possible.

9:00 am Lay babies down for a brief nap before departure.  Load car with baby gear while babies are sleeping.

9:30 am Wake peacefully sleeping babies to change diapers, dress, and load into cars.

10:00 - 11:15 am  Drive to Los Angeles

11:15 - 11:30 am  Search desperately for a parking spot in very crowded area.  Watch out.  Don't run over toddlers and parents holding babies & pushing strollers.  They're everywhere.  Breathe.  This is going to be a bit nuts... there's quite a crowd at the studio.

11:30 am QUICKLY load babies into stroller/ergo.  Grab diaper bag.  Oops.  Run back, lock car.  Cross busy street with no light or crosswalk.  Run 3 blocks down broken up sidewalk with stroller frequently getting stuck in holes and crevices.

11:35 am Arrive at studio RIGHT ON TIME.  Long line coming out of front door of building.  Huh.  Stand in line.  Begin chatting with other parents.  Learn that some parents were told to arrive during a "window" of time - somewhere in a two hour gap.  No appointment.  Huh again.  Ask parents exiting building how long they have been there.  1 hour +.  Ugh.

12:10 pm Move Ezra from back position in Ergo to front position.  Stop starving babies and mix two bottles.  Hold bottle in Ezra's mouth by pinching it between chin and chest.  Stoop over and hold Olivia's bottle in one hand while pushing stroller with other hand.  Get many stares from people.  Begin realizing most OTHER babies have 2 adults to cater to their needs.  Hmm.  Realize you are the ONLY parent with two babies and no help.  Gulp.  Sigh.  Sorry Ezi & Livi.

12:40 pm Arrive at check in desk.  Ask about appointments vs. window to arrive.  Told some agencies blew it and gave out windows' rather than clients' assigned arrival time.  Grr.  Fill out two sheets of paper with E&O's info on it.  Begin wait for our numbers to be called (63 & 64).  Force way into the crowd of people.  Begin standing shoulder to shoulder.  No more than 6 inches in any direction to next person.  Hot, stuffy, fun.

1:00 pm Begin feeling tired and impatient.  Ask someone what number they are on. They are now calling number 15.  Oi.  Hum and sing to Ezra while holding squirming Olivia on hip.  Hum loudly enough to have Ezi hear me over the drone of babies squawking, screaming, and toddlers talking.  Succeed.  Get Ezra to sleep.  Somehow keep Olivia from crying.

1:30 pm Our numbers are called!  Hallelujah!  Force way to front where babies will be photographed for "audition."  Wake Ezra who had FINALLY fallen asleep in Ergo so he'd be ready for his close up.

1:40 pm Plop Ezra onto white, paper ground in front of photographer.  Smile at his cute, sleepy, open mouthed, blank stare at photographer.  What a trooper.

1:41 pm Put Ezra in stroller and plop Olivia on ground in front of photographer. Nope, try again.  Olivia, stop crawling away!  Plop her down on her toosh again.  Hold her down.  Sing songs.  Beg her.  Just wants to crawl away. Photographer keeps getting shots of the top of her head as she attempts to get free from further constraint and lack of movement.  Get one shot of her face on - crying now.  Beg photographer for one more chance.  Please.  Let me try another toy... Nope. Our turn is over.  Ok.  Let's go home.

1:45 pm Leave chaos.  Breathe "fresh" air.  (Is the air outside in LA fresh?)

2:00 pm Force kids into car seats.  More constraints.  Not happy babies.  Give another bottle.  Ok, that's better.  Load car.  Down a bottle of tea.  Whew.  We did it. Drive home in traffic since audition took so long.

Yep.  That's our day.  And therefore, why in my current state I'm now calling it Baby Crap.  You'd think that after all these years they'd have the auditions down.  I'm not sure if Gap was organizing it, or the studio we were at, but it was a zoo.  One agency that was part of why the schedule was so screwed up will no longer be used by Gap.  Ezra and Olivia were such troopers.  Made me proud.  Just wish Livi had been able to sit patiently for one SECOND in front of the camera to make it worthwhile for her.  Oh well.  Guess they could still end up getting a call back... but I'm NOT holding my breath!

All whining aside, I really am proud of the kids and think it would be so cool if they were called back.  What fun for them to get to be in the Spring 2009 Baby Gap advertisements!  I sure would enjoy seeing their beautiful little faces light up the photos.  

Better run.  Von's grocery delivery guy just arrived!  Yep... I'm that lazy right now, I ordered my groceries online!  So cool!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The newest MUST HAVE accessory...

My fantastic, amazing, uber-cool and creative blogging buddy, Tara is now open to the public!  She's hand-crafting fabulous leather cuffs for babies, kids, and adults!  They are so stinkin' cool... I can't wait to get mine!

You MUST go check them out.  They really are the accessory to have, and are priced really well!  Go.  Now.  Buy a bunch.  Christmas is just around the corner... keep that in mind!  

These cool cuffs are available on Tara's Etsy site.

Handsome Malak, Tara's son, sporting a cuff

Monday, September 08, 2008

Cuteness overload

"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!