Sunday, September 28, 2008

10 Month Update

I realized two days ago that I failed to post a 10 month update on Petra. Time flies.

Yesterday we went to Thomasville, GA and had a great time browsing around, eating hot dogs, and having coffee and dessert. One of the store we went to had these really cute plastic cups and plates by Jane Jenni.
(see photo above) Each has a different design and they are perfect for kids. I couldn't bring myself to buy more than one piece, so I decided on the early bird cup because most mornings she seems to wake up while it is still dark outside.

And this morning, she fit the bill. About 6am she was wanting to get out of her crib. Not my ideal weekend morning time. So Thomas changed her diaper and brought her back to bed with us. After about 30 minutes of her stirring around, lounging on top of me, and what we think was trying to sing a song, Thomas got back out of bed to find a pacifier. Thankfully, that did the trick. She was asleep in minutes and so were we.

We usually don't sleep with her, but when we do I find it absolutely heavenly. She spent the whole time curled up with me trying to snuggle. It was super sweet.

And while she didn't spend the entire weekend saying mama like I had hoped for. She has learned to blow kisses. Which I find simply amazing, she has started trying to pucker her lips some and make a smacking sound. And she also like to repeat "ow" .. I have no idea how to spell it. But she likes to repeat it. She has also learned that some actions have reactions and she thinks that it is pretty neat. For instance, when she yanks and pulls on my arm really hard I tell her "no," she thinks this is great and follows it by doing it some more and then saying "no" herself.

We read in the baby book a few months back that our child might start to learn to recognize the word "no." When I read that I was slightly alarmed. 1) because I think it gives the impression to most people that your child should be able to follow directions at 8 months old, but 2) because we couldn't think of a time where we had even told Petra no. There had never been a reason to say it. And I didn't want to think I might be spoiling her ... but honestly it never seemed appropriate. So slowly we are saying it more, not that it means anything to her. But she does love to say it herself.

And she has also entered into a more clingy mommy stage. That was starting to show more when we were in NC two weeks ago. And now its much worse. She follows me around the house crying for me. Even when Thomas is holding her sometimes it just isn't quite good enough (if she knows I'm also around). So, today while I was trying to vacuum and pick up a little she was crying and trying to find me.

This of course bothers me not a bit because 99 percent of the day she is awesome. She is continuing to be a wonderful, sweet, and gentle little girl. She makes our lives 2000% times better and we love spending every moment with her. Every day I feel extra blessed by God because she is here with us.

Here are some great photos from this weekend. You can see her tooth in the close-up. And you will also see her new toy - a babydoll stroller that Grandma Peggy and Papa Gerry bought her because they obviously love to spoil her also. She is pushing all sorts of toys around the house with it. And she can walk around in a circle through the living room, dining room and kitchen if I help her navigate the turns.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Every October is open enrollment at work. Translation: I have the dreaded job of searching and scouring insurance information looking for the best option for our family. I guess you can say that is is wonderful that we have so many options, however, I don't see it that way at all. Instead, what it means to me is I have to decide now, what may happen to us in 2009 -- what tests we may want to do, whether Thomas will need a new pair of glasses, if we want to do any fertility testing and set money aside in a pre-tax reimbursement account, if so how much, how it will effect our monthly budget, and so forth.

The insurance we have used over the last 5 years has driven me crazy because I have to choose a primary care physician before meeting him. According to the the help desk, I should go online and look at the doctor's photos and choose the one I think will work best. I have no idea how they expect me to tell anything by a photo. I keep asking if they grade the doctors in any way, or if I can get a list of those that often have complaints, etc. They don't have anything but the photos. So the next option they said was to ask other family members? Well, what do you think? Any recommendations? Maybe we should go with the old guy because he has more experience, or the young guy because he might have cutting edge information, or maybe the Chinese guy because he might be the smartest?

And of course, a major force in our life is family planning. Every insurance company covers "family planning" as they like to call it. I'm not exactly sure what "family planning" is ... I think what we are doing is family planning. But, as I have learned it doesn't cover our family planning. Instead it covers prevention of pregnancy, i.e. birth control and abortion. And it covers pregnancy. I have a hard time throwing pregnancy into the "planning" stage, it seems rather final to me. Beyond that, I'm really clueless because I have not needed any of those things.

So, I spent an hour last night scouring benefit brochures. Comparing and contrasting, looking for any possible way an insurance company may cover infertility. And it was very upsetting as usual. Every one had an exclusion for anything related to infertility, including the doctor consultation, all the testing, all the meds and the actually procedure.

Once again, they all failed to meet my expectations and hope. And once again I'll have to listen to everyone else talk about how wonderful our health insurance plans are and fail to understand why I find it so disappointing and why I get so frustrated having to plan so far ahead.

I'm learning that sometimes a little humor is good.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Next Stop ... SIRM?

I have been hesistating to post this information: Thomas and I are pondering another fertility consult. Surprising? Probably not.

We have 2 embryos left at our current clinic. But we also know we don't want to go back there. So, we've been considering setting up a consultation with a doctor at SIRM (Sher Institute). There are additional tests I am sure they will want to do, and I would like to go ahead with those. Plus, I'd like a game plan. And to talk with some folks that I feel are at the top of the game. And I especially want to talk with someone that specializes in endometriosis. But on the other side, I don't want to consult and test too early, and then have to go through it all again. And I know we can't afford to do anything major at this time. But the biggest issue at this time is that I don't think I could emotionally withstand another failure. The thought of trying and failing still engulfs me like a tidal wave.

I said last September after our last failed cycle that we would probably wait 2 years before we even think about moving forward with it again - its only be one. And in some ways I'm ready, in other ways I know it isn't feasible. But maybe we could start planning. So, I'm internet shopping at the time. Trying to figure out which doctor to see next ... and unfortunately none of them are anywhere nearby. It will definitely require plane tickets and a hotel. It drives me mad that our insurance will not cover a penny of it. When Thomas finishes school and he is on the job market, we are strongly considering only moving to a job/location that will cover infertility ... if we can find one.

And you are probably wondering what about the 2 embies we have left ... well, we will go back for them at some point or have them transported. Or I thought about getting two doctors to coordinate treatment; not sure if they would go for that though.

On the homefront we had a setback on the adoption. So, in the meantime, I am not going to post anymore on it. I don't like putting a lot of information about it online anyway. But the likelihood of us having the adoption finalized before the end of the year is nonexistent. Maybe sometime in the spring if we are lucky. I'm just going to stop talking about it and pray that it someone manages to go smoothly from here out. The main point is that she isn't going anywhere.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This is going to be short

I'm exhausted tonight. It could be because I didn't sleep well and then forced myself out of the bed at 6am to go to the gym. That's probably got something to do with it. Plus the day was emotionally exhausting because I found out that the lawyers haven't really done their jobs and things will probably be delayed quite a bit longer.

But I did want to post real quick to make an announcement. (blow trumpet)

Petra has a tooth!! It is just now visible on the bottom right gum. We are thrilled. Who would have thought I could be so excited about something that was bound to come at some time or another.

She has also occasionally, and very rarely started saying "mama." Usually when she learns a new word she repeats it over and over on the weekend ... so maybe this weekend I will hear a lot of "mama's."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Help! Any Ideas?

I've put off some landscaping in our front yard for too long. Mainly, because I have no idea what to do. We have a front garden area right in front of the house. Now remember, we have a split level. On the left is the two story side, and on the right is the main floor. My basic dilemma is that I can't decide what to do with the left side. It seems to me that because this side is taller ... it should have taller plants in front of it. But maybe not. I don't have a clue. So I couldn't think of a better place to solicit some help than from my family and friends.

We have lived in our home for a year and a half now. During the first few months, we stripped the yard from weeds, thorns, and 10 pine trees. They all covered the property. Then we had sod put down. Our yard has slowly looked more and more like a yard in NC, and less like a yard in Florida. And that is how we prefer it. We have the thin blade (zoysia) grass that looks and feels like carpet, instead of the common thick bermuda grass that is so popular here. The plants that I have chosen so far (the few that I have bought) also are less common around here.

In the pictures below, you will see on the right side there are some plants and a lot less weeds. On this side I have planted bush mums, azeleas, persian shade, hydrangeas, hostas, etc. Most of this was done this past May. The left side of this garden area however contains a layer of mondo grass (?), obnoxious weeds that grow everywhere with little white flowers, elephant ears (?), and a ton of poison (see photo 3 below). Now, I'm not sure why elephant ears were planted here on top of mondo grass. But generally, I have no clue what to do. Should I take it all out? And if so, what do I put in its place. I'm slighlty worried about putting anything too big there ... because of its proximity to the house and because of the bedroom window.

While, I'm on this topic. I also want to mention a few other things. For some reason, someone thought that planting "showy grass" was a good idea. This stuff grows up every where in our yard, does not bloom, is very tall, and comes from a bulb. The unfortunate thing here is that bulbs multiply ... so the yard is effectively filled with these bulbs. I can dig just about anyhwere and find handfuls of them. See the next two photos for examples. So on a regular basis I try to pull them out. My neighbor said he was able to get rid of his ... after pulling for some time.

And one last thing I want to mention for those of you who might be interested. This past spring I bought some encore azaleas. They are actually suppose to bloom 3 times a year - spring, summer and fall. I planted them in May. They started blooming a little in July and have continued ... but not many blooms. I'm not sure if it will improve with time. Maybe after they get used to it in my yard. But I've included a photo so you could see what they look like now. They are only about a foot tall right now, and should grow to about 3 feet.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Birthday Weekend

Most everyone knows that this past weekend (Monday to be exact) marked my 32nd birthday. It's a little daunting to say the least. Some people have done some pretty amazing things by age 32. For instance, my mother was 32 when she gave birth to me, her third and final child. By age 32, Sir Isaac Newton had developed infinitesimal calculus, had made basic contributions to the theory of color, had developed ideas concerning the motion of the planets, and invented a reflective telescope. And of course there is always the perfect example. I read somewhere that "Jesus was alive and dead again by 33 ... you better get busy".

Busy doing what?

As most of you also know, (because this blog is read mainly by family) this weekend was also a very sad weekend because we buried my grandmother, Mama. Mama was an amazing, kind, and selfless woman. She was quick to her feet to help others around her. She was busy. She was always asking what she could do to help others, especially when it came to comfort and food. The majority of us may help from time to time, but when it comes down to it, when we are at home lazing around, we are often times slow to serve others. I know I could do more.

And my grandmother brings to mind other fond memories. I loved the BLT sandwiches she made for me. I loved the days reading at her house. Plus, she took me to my first movie - Annie. And she bought me my first bikini underwear when I was 7 years old. Who couldn't love a grandma for that? And then there was the all important question ... how are your grades?

More than anything, her life was a testament to serving others and to constantly striving for excellence. She did both these things and I can't help thinking am I?

Like every one of her other grandchildren, I loved my grandma's house and yard. I have always cherished photos of her house with my family. There are some of my cousin and I playing as infants in her living room, there is another when I was five twirling on her front porch, and there are still more of Christmas and birthdays. I could not think of a better way to remember this weekend and her life than to get some photos of Petra at her house. Now that we live in Florida, it is not often I spend a weekend at my grandmother's house.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Petra doing her stuff

She's got skills ... or at least great skills for a 9-month old. She can walk, talk and strut her stuff.

She is officially up to 2-3 words, maybe more depending on what you count. She has said uh-oh, now she can also say duck. And sometimes she repeats words - this week she also said red and yellow, but only once each.

I love this video - its a great clip showing her skills. Also, you will hear her say dog. Yep, that's right, she finally starting saying dog about a week ago. Its been so funny because it is so southern. This weekend she pointed at Forge and said "daaawwwwg."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Looking forward

This week was disappointing on the legal front. On Tuesday's advisory hearing we expected P's mother to inform the court of her intention to give up her rights and to clear the way for the adoption process. Instead, she denied the states claim and named a potentially new father pressing forward with the case. It's very weird but we had a discussion about what would happen and while we both hoped for the best outcome, I was pretty uncertain about the likelihood of the mother just giving up her rights. All of this was pretty obvious from a strategic point of view, but given her history and her apparently unprepared legal representation I doubt that they actually came up with this plan as part of an official strategy.

Anyway, we knew of this potential fathers name before but we aren't sure if she gave the same name to the court before, or a name similar but slightly altered. If the name is new (either completely or just slightly altered from a previous name), then another round of searching is required for the father, which means at least 30 days until the case can move into adoption, but we can work towards completing the process in a concurrent fashion. In the meantime, P's mother was back in court on Friday for mediation and long story short, her lawyer was not prepared. They were given until Monday to come to some conclusion.

Nothing is certain, but it is unlikely that she would win a case against the state given the disappearances and failures over the past six months. I assume her legal adviser will notify her of this, but who knows what they will come up with. Whether the rights are terminated or she hands them over, the process should be completed soon. Hopefully we will know by midweek the outcome of the court situation with the mother and whether or not another search will begin for the father.

In the meantime Sherri is busy starting up a Heart Gallery (like this) here in Tallahassee and has been putting together material and getting organized. We have been enjoying the political conventions and all the excitement they've been generating. I've been working out pretty hard until this week, but I'll start back on Monday. Class is ramping back up, the department softball team started up this week, and I think Sherri is going to get a membership at the campus gym for the rest of the year.

I don't feel nearly as stressed as before given mynew outlook and strategy this semester. I'm finishing up a summer project now, then I'll spend the remainder of the semester on random papers and building a syllabus for my prelim exams in the spring. I'm hoping to get a lot of work done between now and December because of the situation with P's mother, but I'm not really that concerned yet. We are expecting Sherri's sister this thanksgiving and we don't know yet what we are going to do for Christmas, but it looks like we will probably be staying here for the majority. So far so good this semester.

Hope all is well and healthy. Come back soon and look for updates and more pictures and video from Sherri.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

We were blessed to have good friends visit us over the weekend. Jenn, Gregg and their little stud Raymond came to see us for a few days. The visit flew by and before I knew it, it was time for them to leave.

Raymond and P played together a little more than last time. And they held hands a few times.

We went to the downtown market on Saturday morning. Raymond picked up a new car (not the pink one). And P learned all about reading the daily news while sitting on the bench with the guys.

Plus there was good music that we all were able to enjoy. And yes, you can see here that her eyes light up when she looks at her daddy.

We had a nice visit, just a little too short. After they left this afternoon I thought of several more things I meant to do. One day, we hope to live closer.

P is continuing to call dogs - "g" sounds. And she is still trying to say duck. And this morning she also tried to say bird. She also took a few steps today behind a push toy - but then when I tried to record it on the camera she would NOT do it again.

Tomorrow is a court day. I'll try to post again to let everyone if anything happens.