Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One Happy Little Girl

Over the past few days it has been very obvious to us and others that we have one happy little girl. We went to the doctor's office this week for her 1 year checkup. She was all smiles and everyone couldn't stop talking about how much she was smiling .... until her shots. But that is perfectly normal and another story all together.

At the doctors this week she weighed 21 lbs (50%) and was 28.5 inches tall (25%). And she is ahead developmentally. The doctor actually said this was a problem because it could lead to some real behavioral issues if she went into home that didn't have the stimulation she needed. So I had the chance to tell him finally that she wasn't going anywhere and the adoption would be final soon.

She is starting to use words more frequently on her own. For instance this morning in the bathroom she was pointing at the tub, so I said “tub.” But she said something else … and then I realized she was saying “bath.” A couple days ago I put her on my lap and she said “row, row, row” as a way to ask me to sing the song with her. She is also starting to follow simple directions. Such as please pick the brush up and give it to Mommy. This weekend was pretty major. 1) she learned to climb into our small children chairs, 2) she sat down when we asked her to (instead of standing in the chair), 3) she started climbing up the stairs, 4) she started running away from us for fun.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Next stop, ADOPTION

We are finally at a turning point. I don't want to talk about it too much here on the WWW. If you want more information just let us know, or call.

But here is the basic news.

All parental rights were terminated this morning in court.
The judge recognized that Petra has bonded to us.
The judge said she would try to have the adoption trial as soon as possible ... maybe before Christmas!!!

We are just loving it!

Happy 1st Birthday

Yes, I'm a little late getting this post up. I have had a busy few nights ... meetings and a parenting class that I am taking have kept me away from home the past two nights.

Petra celebrated her 1st birthday this week with a bang.We let (more like compelled) her to open her gifts in the morning. It started out pretty slow. She had no clue what they were. At one point she figured they must be hats, so she put one on her head and said "hat." She thought this was really funny, and really thought so once I started laughing hard. She loved her gifts, especially her smoochy baby doll (which Thomas is concerned is the first doll she will practice kissing on).

We are waiting until next weekend to have her big birthday party since some of our family will be here then. But we did host a little party for her up at day care. It actually freaked all the other children out. One child started crying everytime I blew a party favor. Most refused to eat and just stared at me. I could tell they were thinking " who is this lady," and "I don't eat anything green." But Petra had a blast; probably because her mom was hanging out with her at school.

And here she is pushing the small furniture around - one of her most favorite things to do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Petra walking

I completely forgot I took this video about a week before Halloween. Just wanted to share.

Torreya State Park

We were fortunate enough to take advantage of this beautiful day! I love Sundays. The weather was marvelous ... it was perfectly clear, sunny, and a balmy 54 degrees. Neither one of us have ever been, but at the recommendation of a friend, we decided to take the 1 hour drive (or 14 hour hike) to Torreya State Park. We hiked about 2 hours, and didn't see everything, but here is what we did see.

I was quite amazed at how much this area looks like NC. It was nice to see some hills and movement to the land --- not that Tallahassee is perfectly flat. But this area looked much more like home. We were sure to take the part of the trail that follows along beside the Apalachicola River for a little while.

And here is our attempt at a family photo.

By the time we made it to the swamp rim, Petra could barely hold her eyes open.

I'm not sure if it was the steady rhythmic movement of the hike, or the heat coming off of Thomas' back, but she was fast asleep in no time. It reminded me riding on the boat this summer --- she couldn't stay awake for any of it. It's hard to imagine she slept for so long while Thomas was stepping and climbing over roots, and up and down hills.

And right about this time, Thomas heard something in the woods. I wasn't the least bit interested in standing around to see what creature was out there, especially after Thomas had already been talking about panthers. But in just a few moments we caught sight of fairly large, bushy-tailed doe. We weren't able to get a picture of it.

Anyway, we decided it was time to head back to the car. So we took the closest trail back to the real world and ended up at the campsite and a lookout point. I was a little disappointed to see most of the trees had lost their leaves. It seems like here in Florida, the trees barely change colors, it's super fast, and then before you know it they are all bare.

Petra was finally waking up on our way back to the truck and was happy to see we were still out and about.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Moving Closer to the Big Day

For those of you who have been following the blog, you know I purposely stopped posting anything about our process of adoption because of the trials, turmoils and angst caused in the process. This week was absolutely absurd and wonderful. We definitely went through our trials and tribulations, had huge concerns, nearly spent thousands of $ on a lawyer ... but I have great news to share. Both the biological mom and the legal dad have agreed to surrender their rights so that we can adopt! The big day is Friday, Nov. 21st. Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers as we move toward this critical moment. This will be a wonderful day for us, but a very disappointing and sad day for others.

Petra is growing and we can not believe it has been a year since we were licensed as foster parents. She is an absolute joy in our home. She is literally growing in front of us, it is very obvious to us both that she is taller and heavier than 2 months ago. Tonight we were amazed to see her steering her baby stroller so well. When she bumped into something, she would back it up and redirect it in a better direction! So smart! One of her favorite play activities is moving chairs, objects, furniture, her stroller, etc. across a room. She says "arrgh" and you can just tell that she thinks she is tough stuff.

We went for a short hike last weekend at a local park but forgot to take the camera. Tomorrow we are hoping to head to Torreya Park - "the mountains of Florida." But both Thomas and I have been fighting a stomach bug all week so we might not be able to go. But either way, I'll be sure to get some photos tomorrow that I can post.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Talking more and more

It's probably hard to beleive, but I haven't taken any new pictures in more than a week! So here are some more from the fall festival you might like. (I ate some blue cotton candy - I love the stuff! Thomas took off on a kid's dirt bike)

But I posted to talk some about Petra.

Petra is talking more and more. We have started to have little conversations. Yesterday, I think Thomas was surprised to hear her answering my questions. Basically she is answering simple yes and no questions. For instance, Petra do you want this toy? Petra do you want your juice? It is obvious when she is frustrated and nothing will please her .. no, no, no, is her response to everything. But then tonight, I asked her if she was ready to get out of the tub? Her reply was yes and she stood up.

She is also getting better at repeating more words. She often tries to repeat what we say to her. I have no idea how many words she has in her vocabulary ... this is some of what she said this weekend - yellow, table, bath, bow, hi, bye-bye, yes, no, bottle, turtle, night night, mama, dada, dog, moo, roar, meow, eyes, nose, blue, uh oh, row, stop - I'm sure I must be forgetting some. But not everyone would understand them. For instance, every word that starts with a "b" she says as a "d." so its dottle, dye-dye, dow, and dath. Even if I just shake my head at her, she will say no because she knows what means. If I say stop, she will say no ... not in a challenging way but in an accepting way that I mean no, stop. She even said Hi, bye-bye, and roared for Aunt Lynn over the phone this weekend.

And every time I leave the room she starts crying or looking for me. I usually put her down in the living room with her toys and with Tom and wander off to the kitchen to do something. Within 10 seconds I hear "mama" and she is crawling or walking into the kitchen wailing for me.

And interestingly she has a few favorite songs. She does not like Twinkle, twinkle little star. For months she has disliked this song, she starts getting cranky, hitting the air, and thrashing about when I try to sing it. When I put her to bed I used to try to sing it. She would rather me lay her down and leave her, than sing her that song. She prefers Row, Row, row your boat. And also "If you are happy and you know it." Whenever I start singing the latter song, she immediately starts clapping and smiling.

And like most children her age, she likes to throw her food, toys, and cups. In the truck we will pile toys on top of her for her to play with during the ride or put them at her feet so she can reach them, she slings them across the truck if she doesn't want them. If she doesn't want it at that very moment, she doesn't think it should be in front of her. Same goes for her bottle at meal time, if she is busy eating, she doesn't want in on her tray. I'll try to sit the bottle in the cup holder, she will say no and slap it onto the floor. I'm sure this will all change in just a few short months.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Adopting from China

I mentioned in an earlier post we are looking at ways to expand our family-- including fertility treatments and adoption. One of the options we have seriously considered is adopting a daughter from China. Knowing that the wait is many years, we decided to go ahead and check into it. No harm, no foul.

So we contacted a organization and learned a few things. It is much more affordable than we thought. The costs are more related to travel, than adoption fees. We also learned there is a 3 year wait ... and that the Chinese government has changed the guidelines to make it more difficult to adopt.

To qualify to adopt you must:
  • Not be fat. That is right, no fat parents allowed.
  • Not be on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety or other mood altering drugs for at least two years prior to application.
  • Not have more than 4 children.
  • Have a net worth of $80K.

So, the short and sweet is that we learned some basic criteria and we don't qualify. Mainly due to our school loans, we don't have a net worth of $80K. While we are certainly going to attempt to increase our net worth, I don't think we will be anywhere near $80K in the near future. Unfortunately, China is not an option at this time. Maybe someday.

Homemade Food, Healthy Choices

Over the last six months I have had a lot of fun introducing Petra to new foods. From the beginning, I was set on exposing her to lots of vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. And due to the lack of baby food available, and the cost, I excitedly hurried around the kitchen cooking her meals. As a result, she regularly eats broccoli, spinach, green beans, cauliflower, beats, sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, parsnips, cantaloupe, apple, kiwi, banana, mango, pot roast, meatloaf, spaghetti, salmon, split pea soup, chicken and barley soup, and so much more.

All of these foods are kept handily ready in the freezer. How, you may ask? Well, I cook it, puree it if needed, and then freeze it in ice trays. After it is frozen I pop them out and store in freezer bags. The food processor I received as a Christmas present has truly become a regular pal.

Not only has this made her meals truly convenient, a lot tastier than that baby food crap in a jar, and more affordable. But it is also making the transition to table food much easier. And to top it off, she loves healthy options.

These meals also accompany her to day care so that I know she is eating healthy there as well. I've been quite shocked how quickly day care centers pump junk into our children. Processed everything. White sugar. Everything is a go. I was flabbergasted a few days ago when I learned they gave Petra a brownie for snack! The next day the children had cookies for a snack. Petra did not. By that time, I had explained completely that it was their responsibility not to give her foods with white sugar. It is absurd that the adults are making such bad food choices, especially with children who are too young to know a difference. It was no different with Silas when he was here. I can count numerous times when I picked him up from day care during snack and found something horrid in front of him. One time I counted 20 fried cheese puffs.

At home, I try to choose healthier options. For instance, for snack Petra may have a pumpkin banana smoothie with wheat bran added. Or a cracker if I'm busy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fall Festival

It's been a long time since I was in a 3-legged race and participated in a balloon toss. I did both of those today at our church's fall festival. Every Halloween weekend we head up to Thomasville, Georgia to a friend's house for the festival. And every year I have come to expect the same thing ... beautiful weather, donkeys and horses to pet, cotton candy, finger lickin' fried grouper, and pleasant conversation. Today, I added apple bobbin, races, and water balloon tosses to the mix for the kids. And we all had fun. Including Petra who was not the least bit frightened of the donkeys or horses.

Speaking of Petra, guess who has decided that walking is the new fad. She is up all over the place. Taking 10-15 steps at a time ... I would say today she walked about 65% of the time.

And while I know this has nothing to do with the rest of the post, I wanted to write just briefly about "family planning." We've been talking about both fertilty treatments and adoption (both domestic and international).

It's been 14 months now since our last FET. To the doctors this seems like forever. Let me explain. We had a phone consult a couple weeks ago with SIRM. It went fantastically. I could not have asked for a better conversation ... nearly an hour on the phone with a well qualified specialist for free. He gave us good news. Actually he told us there was a chance we could get pregnant on our own, not a very high one, but he wouldn't exclude it. This is completely different than what any other doctor has told us in the last two years. Now obviously, this type of miracle has not happened ... it was just nice to hear a doctor tell us this.

We have talked about going to a different clinic when we get ready for a new IVF cycle. Yes, that's right at some point we will start this whole thing again. Assuming we can find the money. This clinic has an outcome based plan ... basically 3 fresh IVF cycles, plus all the frozen cycles, for close to one cost .... and if you do not have a live baby then you get a portion of the money back. But the one thing I found most interesting about this consultation was that Thomas and I learned that this is really hit or miss. The doctors have some idea of what works, but they really don't know exactly which embryo will develop, which will not ... it is hit or miss. If it doesn't work, you just keep trying and at some point ... you get a miracle.

So, I asked how fast would we have to do all 3 fresh cycles if all are needed ... the answer was that they usually like to see it completed in a year. Good googly moogly ... I said under my breath. Assuming you have to use all 3 cycles plus any frozen cycles means you would need to travel nearly every month out of town, by plane, and stay in a hotel for a week each month. So we aren't just talking about the $25-$30K for the doctor, but plane tickets each month and a hotel each month. Not to mention taking off work for a week each time, and finding day care. The time committment alone is exponentially more than I ever contemplated.

Put this in comparison to our yearly procedure (on average) to a clinic that is a 2.5 hour drive away ... and it is going to be very expensive.

So, we have a lot to think about and figure out. We'd like to do this before I turn 35 becuase that is the magic age where statistics show a marked decrease for success.

The cost really is a no brainer to us. Family is more important than any material items that money could buy. It will just mean less stuff, and maybe a car that isn't so nice ... and well, what's wrong with a simpler life?