Sunday, March 26, 2006

Did I Mention That ...

...Lisa got her ears pierced for her birthday?  All of her very girly girl friends at school have their ears pierced, and she's been wanting to have it done.  So the Friday night before her birthday off we went to Claire's.  Christian was betting her a dollar that she would cry ... (meanie!)  Two ladies did both ears at the same time, so she wouldn't chicken out after the first one.  One ... two ... three!  Snap!  No tears, just a look on her face of "oh no!  Don't cry!" and she was done!  She has been soo good at cleaning them three times a day, and is already counting the days until she can take the gold studs out.

Now ... my mom and dad made me wait until I was 14 to have my ears pierced.  I think my sister was 16, and Mom still had to hide it from my dad.  What's with that?  I remember going to the baby nursery in the Philippines one time (don't know why in creation I would have been there?) but all the newborn little baby girls had their ears pierced.  Guess they circ. the boys and pierce the girls?  I guess I don't have a problem with it, I just don't want her wearing big ol' chandelier dangly dangle earrings until she's much older.  Studs are okay.

When I was 16 I got a wild hair and decided to pierce an extra hole in one of my ears.  I did it with a giant tapestry needle, some ice and a cork.  No problem!  Of course my Dad nearly had a conniption fit when I came to the dinner table, thinking maybe his daughter was going to join a punk band or something.  Oh well ... I still have that third hole and occasionally let my freak flag fly.  Oh, how my children would cringe with embarrassment if they heard me talking like that!

David is off this Wed. on The Great Cactus Tour ... he and his brother and a bunch of other guys are going to Arizona to play golf.  Not just play golf, but Play Golf.  We're talking 36 holes for 4 days in a row.  Mmmm boy!  Sounds like fun to me!  (Note sarcastic tone and eye roll).  But I know he will have a great time. 

Thursday, March 23, 2006

UNC-Chapel Hill

So Melanie and I took off for Chapel Hill Sunday evening.  It's about a 2 hour drive, and all we had to do was go to bed when we got there, so I wasn't in a big hurry to leave.  She slept for a while, but when we found the hotel and settled in, she went right to bed.  I slept fitfully, worried that I would miss the TWO wake up calls that I set.  We got up, ate breakfast and set out to find the hospital.  There is a lot of construction going on there, and I got lost a couple of times.  I'm so afraid that Melanie's first audible word will be $%&*#!!!! 

Finally got there ... that day we met with a speech pathologist, social worker, audiologist and a geneticist.  We had to tromp about 10 miles among several buildings in the UNC hospitals complex to see each specialist, not to mention 20 miles from the parking garage (haven't I told you a zillion times not to exaggerate?), and the stroller was no use at all, since it was LEFT AT HOME!  It was like herding cats ... Melanie was all over the place.  I also had packed a bag of stuff to entertain her with in our down times, and it weighed a ton and a half.  Did I mention that it was HOT that day?  83 degrees! 

We were done by mid-afternoon, and after a short nap (me) and a movie (Mel) we set out to find a Target in Durham, where I bought a stroller!  (Only $9.95 mind you!)  We also found a really cool mall (Southpoint) and moseyed around there for a while.  But I was too tired to really enjoy it, and we were back at the hotel fairly early.

Tuesday we were up at the dawn of crack, and back at the hospital (much easier to find this time).  That morning it was RAINING and the umbrella was of course of no use, because it too was AT HOME with the stroller.  I am a genius at preparation.  But dammit, I did have a stroller!  Unfortunately, all our appointments were in one building this time!  Sheesh ... my middle name must be Murphy.

We saw a plastic surgeon, oral-maxillofacial surgeon (try saying that three times real fast), orthodontist, pediatric dentist, psychologist, and some other "ists" that I can't really remember right now.  The bottom line is that all these folks are a "team" that will care for Melanie over the next several years.  Right now there are no major procedures looming in the near future for her.  We still go to speech therapy a million times a week (there I go again) and actually I am seeing some progress in that department.  Yesterday when she woke up from her nap, I heard her say, "I'M AWAKE!"  She will need bone graft surgery when her permanent teeth start coming in, to close the gap in her upper jaw bone.  Some cosmetic stuff when she hits teenage years, and possibly a palate lengthening procedure if her speech doesn't develop as we hope.  I should get a long letter from the team in a couple of weeks with their long-term recommendations.  We will see the Chapel Hill team annually, unless there is anything planned in the meantime.  I was very impressed with their whole operation .. they have been doing this for a long time and are the "Go-To" folks in the Carolinas, and beyond. 

We got home Tuesday around 4, I dumped Melanie off with her dad, and went to Hopewell for a parent meeting for Colin's Japanese class.  His teacher is planning an exchange program with a high school in Nagoya next spring, and perhaps bringing some kids here.  We'll be hosting of course!  Colin now speaks more Japanese than I ever did ... I hinted to Mr. Novitt that I was willing to go along as a parent volunteer!!  Don't know if he took me seriously .. but I am!

I think I hear my wake-up call from Melanie's room ... time to make the donuts!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


The strange thing about celebrating Lisa's birthday is .. we're not really sure that March 13 IS her birthday!  When we first started looking at her picture on the adoption agency's website, it said March 22.  Then in some other documents, it said February 22.  When we went to get her, her birth certificate said March 13.  So we went with the official version.  I guess when you adopt a baby from China, birthdays are a best guess estimate, so this is not all that different.  Perhaps it was just a typo when her picture was put on the WPA website?  At any rate ... March 13 it is, and my big girl is now 8 years old.  No more booster seat (which I think we could have chucked a long time ago.  She outweighs Christian by about 10 pounds or so, and he's been out of it since HE turned 8 over a year ago.  But we have to do what the policeman says, don't we?)

I remember the quiet little girl who we met 4-1/2 years ago in a faraway land called Kazakhstan.  She was dressed in a green, red and white striped sweater dress, with tights and furry suede slippers.  She had just had a bath ... her hair was still damp.  She looked quite shell-shocked.  We gave her an apple, and she grabbed it and started munching away.  She would have eaten the entire thing, core and all, if I hadn't stopped her.  We gave her a juice box and she figured that out real quick.  We had a ball which we rolled back and forth to her, and she nudged it with her hand, while she looked down, occasionally glancing up at us through her eyelashes.  She was trying not to smile, and her little chin would wrinkle up.

Yesterday I took cookies to her school to celebrate her day, and her teacher had her sit on a stool in front of the whole class.  One by one, they would say a word or phrase that described Lisa.  Agreeable.  Cool.  Smart.  Good friend.  Loves Jesus.  She sat in front of that class and called on them one by one.  She oozed self-confidence and assuredness.  It is beyond my little brain to imagine how far she has come, and why on earth we were put together.  The awesome responsibility that is ours sometimes takes my breath away.  I picture her in the future as a teacher herself.  Or a doctor.  The possibilities are limitless.  She has the world on a silver platter.

She had a very girly-girl birthday party Saturday the 11th at Snip-Its, a hair salon for children.  It was so girly that even her dad didn't come ... he stayed home with Melanie.  I threatened the older two boys with having to come to the party, so they were on their best behavior and earned the right to take a pass.  The girls got to pick a costume from the closet, choose one of 6 hairdos, put on makeup and nail polish, draw pictures and make sand art.  Then, the piece de la resistance, they rolled out the red carpet (literally) and the girls did a runway fashion show for all the folks in the waiting area who were waiting for their kids to get their hair cut.  Complete with karaoke machine, and the party hostess introduced each girl with her name, age, hobbies, favorite food, etc.  It was quite a show.

The next morning, Lisa woke up with the flu.  We were at Urgent Care at 8:30 and still had to wait an hour.  I felt terrible .. I was so afraid that all the little girls at the party were now doomed to get the flu.  I haven't heard that anyone succumbed, so <phew!>  I had to go to a baby shower that day, and then pack and drive to Chapel Hill with Melanie that night.  I was one exhausted puppy that night.  I left poor Lisa in the very capable hands of her father ...

Last weekend, we swapped Melanie's bedroom and Christian's.  Christian has been scared to sleep in his room (which is in the basement) for the last month or two.  He is very much a people person, always wants people around or near to him (even though his big bro Quentin was right next door.  I think the air conditioner, right outside his window, scared him).  Melanie's room (now Christian's room) is right next to Lisa's.  Lisa has long complained about Melanie waking her up in the night, and getting into her "stuff".    I figured Melanie didn't care where her room was, so we humped beds and desks and dressers up and down two flights of stairs (still have the bruises and scrapes).  I hung pictures on his new walls, and felt very good about finding a solution that would make everyone happy.  That night, Lisa collapsed in tears.  Sobbing, gut wrenching tears.  Very upset that we had moved Melanie's room.  Hating that now her "mean and crazy" brother was next door to her.  I was completely bumfoozled.  It never even occurred to me that this would upset her.  I guess change of ANY kind is traumatic for her, and in the future I need to be more considerate of her delicate balance.  Thatnight I went to bed with the weightof the world on my shoulders.  Of course, the next night, they were chatting back and forth through their open doors.  I heard her say, cheerfully, "Don't worry Christian!  If you get scared, I'm right here!"  Hah?  Here I am worried about paying for her therapy to deal with changing her sister's room, and 24 hours later, all is well with the world.  Insert head spin here.  These kids ... if only they came with a dang owners' manual.

I think there is a limit on these journal entries, so I will save the story of our appointment with the craniofacial team for another post.  In the meantime, hold your breath while I try to load pictures of the birthday party (ies).


Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Am I Being Punished??

Christian is sick again.  This time it is the nasty Influenza A.  He woke up with 102.2. I knew that a friend of his had tested positive for flu over the weekend, so I thought it might just be a matter of time.  Sure 'nuff.  We went in for a nasal swab ... got the call 15 minutes later.  The one year I passed on flu shots...genius, eh?  <sigh>  It just sucks seeing him feeling so bad AGAIN.  We got tamiflu for everyone in the house who is over 13 ... apparently tamiflu won't work as a preventive for little kids.  So Lisa and Melanie are sitting ducks, I suppose.  I had to pick up David's tamiflu and deliver it to the airport, as he was flying out tonight for Boston.  (He's no dummy ... get out of town when the germs invade the house!)  Seriously, I'm hoping that Lisa escapes, as her birthday party is this Saturday.  We're washing our hands like we have OCD.

Sunday afternoon I'll drive to Chapel Hill with Melanie for our appointment with the UNC Craniofacial team.  I'm a little nervous, trying to find my way around a strange city, not to mention that it was the site of the nut case who plowed his SUV through the crowd on the UNC campus.  As long as I can find my little Hampton Inn and the shortcut to the hospital, I'll be fine.  It's a two-day ordeal ... I hope it's not too painful for all involved!  They won't be actually doing anything, just a series of specialists will come in to see her, maybe some tests (airflow studies to show how much air comes through her nose when she speaks) but nothing major.  We should get a report from them with their recommendations as to the next step.

Her speech is still a little hard to understand, but usually I can figure out what she's saying.  You sure can understand when she says "NO!"  There is a little girl in her "girl group" named Ella, and she sure can say "Ella".  And one more cute thing before you all get diabetes ... she LOVES the movie "Pocahontas" ... we have seen it a minimum of 1,000,000,000 times ... she has the cutest way of saying "Pocahontas".  Kind of like "Hoke Ooo Han Yes".  Every syllable is there ... she knows darn well what she is saying!  (If I never see old Pokey and John Smith again, it will be too soon!)

Saturday, March 4, 2006


Okay, okay, his actual birthday isn't until tomorrow, but he was SUPPOSED to be born today.  The last time I went to the OB, I was told that he was breech, feet thoroughly down and head up, so we would be experiencing our first C-section.  My family and David's family all assembled for the Big Event, ready for a quickie birth this time, after my two previous marathon labors & deliveries.  (24 hours and 13 hours, respectively).  I was worried about having a section, but hey, it couldn't be any worse than the nightmares I had had before.

So, we get to the hospital and all is well, until my OB walks in, takes one look at me and puts her hand thoughtfully on her chin.  Uh-oh.  Then she says those immortal words, "Let's try something!"  And she proceeds to knead my stomach like a big wad of dough, and manages to turn the baby around.  Then she wraps this big elastic girdle thing around my belly to hold him in place.  Then she starts some pitocin, and says, "We're going to try for a vaginal delivery!"  I could hear the discouraged sighs of my family all the way down the hall.  "Guess we have time to go out for lunch, eh?"

Then the fun begins!  After a couple of hours, whatever they are pumping into my veins is making me itch like a crazy person.  The girdle thing is making it hard to breathe (what can it be doing to the baby??) and my mom and sister are standing at the foot of my bed staring at me.  An explosion is imminent, of course!  I run everyone out of the room when I start growling like Linda Blair.  Time keeps on ticking, ticking ... into the future.  At 2 a.m. the next morning, after my OB/Torquemada has gone off duty and is comfortably sleeping in her bed at home, the replacement OB comes in.  I all but grab her scrubs by the neck and tell her to do a section RIGHT NOW.  I feel so ... so ... victimized.  But I am "making progress", albeit at the speed of smell, so they "can't do that!"  FINALLY at 6:00 the next morning, baby has had enough and is ready to escape, and at 6:25 he is born.  They put him on my stomach, and he isn't moving, not making a sound.  The OB says, looking quite ashen, "There's a true knot in his cord!"  She has a flash of a huge malpractice suit.  They whisk him away to an anteroom, and a crowd of people gather around him.  I hear the "whoosh whoosh" of them "bagging" him, but no sounds whatsoever.  I keep asking David, "Is he all right?" but he has no answer for me.  He looks like he may throw up any second.  After an eternity, I hear a very weak mewl, and the neonatologist tells me that it was pretty scary, but that he is okay now.  Then, they gather him up and take him away.

They fix me up and roll me to my room, with the nurse managing to hit every bump and pothole in the hospital.  I get to my room, and no one is talking to me.  No one will tell me anything.  My mom helps me take a shower, and then I get ahold of a wheelchair and wheel MYSELF down to the NICU, where they have taken Christian.  He has no glucose, a systemic infection, irregular heartbeat, and a host of other awful sounding things.  They do a spinal tap.  They release me from the hospital 2 days later, with no baby.  Twice a day, we go to the NICU to visit, and he has IV's in his head.  Finally they decide to put in a PIC line in his groin, since he keeps blowing the veins in his head.

All this because of the long labor.  When they could have done a quick c-section.  And this is better for the baby?  Hey, don't the OB's get more money for a section?  Why did this have to happen?

Well, the happy ending of the story is that Christian is fine.  He had a rough beginning, but he is a great kid, and is a big NINE years old tomorrow.  He is funny, cute, handsome and very very loving.  I wish for him lots of happiness and laughs in his life.  <sniff>

Friday, March 3, 2006

Tears as a Weapon

Yesterday I took Melanie to South Charlotte to the Family Application Center.  She had an appointment to be screened for the Bright Beginnings preschool that is run by Char-Meck Schools.  It's a "No Child Left Behind" thing ... an extra boost for 4 year olds before they get to kindergarten.  I had made the appointment back in January, and was told to bring several documents, birth cert., social security, etc., and a utility bill to show proof of residence.  I meticulously assembled all the docs, and we set out.  I get there, after a short detour to the ped. to pick up her shot record that I forgot about, and driving like a bat out of hell 25 minutes down I-77, rolling into the parking lot right on the dot.  After I wrangle her through the parking lot (can't we use cattle prods on children??) and get into the room, I am told that my utility bill is more than 30 days old and so they can't screen her.

WHAT???  Don't mess with me!  I have just moved heaven and hell to get here with an ADD three year old and you're telling me YOU CAN'T SCREEN HER???  I started to make a scene.  All the other people in the room started looking at me, thinking, "Man I hope my kid isn't in HER class!"  I said, Bring me the supervisor ... and voila!  The supervisor appears.  She is a rational human being, and says, don't worry about it, just fax me a more current bill this afternoon.  Okay ... what are all the histrionics for?  That was easy!

Sometimes, tears make an effective weapon.  Make the people "behind the desk" think you're going to crawl over and strangle them, and they pay attention!  At any rate ... she has been screened, life is good, we'll know after May 30 if she got in or not.