Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas

We spent Christmas Eve at my (Anne's) sister's house with my family.  Christmas morning after breakfast we open gifts at our house and then we go over to Tim's mom's house for Christmas dinner.  Claudia and Mayerly sang a song with the other kids in their Sunday school class for the Christmas service at church this morning.  They had to hold up letters that spelled out CHRISTMAS.  Claudia had the letters R and I, Mayerly had M and A.  The only part of any of this that I have pictures of is opening gifts at our house.

Before the ripping mayhem...

Mini remote control helicopters

Why do I need these?!?! (elbow and knee pads) 

Roller skates all around for the girls

Even Hanai and Hank get a little raw-hide sumpin'-sumpin'.

Flying a tiny 'copter

The "big kid" takes a turn; and Hanai wants to catch that "dragonfly"!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Buy a Calendar

The Woods family is pursuing a second adoption from Colombia.  They are going to get a 6-year-old girl this time (they adopted 3 siblings the first time).  If you haven't already, consider buying a calendar ($20) from her blogsite (link below).  The proceeds will be used to support the family's adoption expenses.  I already bought mine!

Make it a Merry Christmas for them by helping them achieve their sales goal before the end of the year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Life Lessons from Rover and Fido

For Oscar's birthday this year he got a hermit crab habitat.  Eventually, we bought him 2 crabs to go in it (took awhile because - we're kinda busy).  One of the first crabs we bought died the day we brought it home, so we replaced it.  The crabs were named Rover and Fido (why not).

Crab life was relatively uneventful.  They ate, they drank, they played at night (we found out they are nocturnal), they took a bath once a week in the bathroom sink.  Not a bad life for a crab.

This morning we awoke to tradgedy.  Rover had killed Fido.  No one could figure out why.  It all seemed so senseless.

Oscar took Fido and prepared him for a burial at sea (don't have to spell that one out do I?).  After said burial, he took Fido's old shell and was cleaning out what he thought were left over crab parts so he could put it back in the crabitat for future use.  Then he noticed that the parts were moving.  Then it all became clear - there were baby crabs inside the shell!  Unfortunately, he killed a couple of them before he realized what they were.  (Hermit crabs will allow themselves to be pulled apart before they allow anyone or anything to remove them from their protective shells.)

We talked about how sometimes male animals eat their own babies.  We talked about how Fido (I guess we should have named HER Fida instead) fought to the death to protect her babies.  We talked about how sometimes we have to be careful when we think that one thing has happened (because we rarely know exactly why things have happened) and that we sometimes cause more harm by making assumptions and moving too quickly without all the facts.

Now we have one adult male crab and one baby crab of unknown gender.  Oscar said, he has a lot of work to do now(having to keep them separated until the baby gets a little bigger).  It's rough being the new adoptive father of a baby crab :-).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Small Blessings

Diana started to say "right" instead of "cierto" this week.  Don't know where she was when it finally clicked, I'm just glad it clicked!  Just another small victory in the Spanlish war.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard "Cierto mommy?" over the past 22+ months... times four...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saturday Kumite

Oscar was in his first karate competition this past Saturday in Topeka, Kansas (about an hour and a half from our house).  There were two other boys on his team there also.  Everyone did really well.  Oscar got 2nd place for his kata in the 12-13 year-old novice division (beat only by his teammate who is a green belt - which in case you don't know, is two ranks higher than Oscar's yellow belt).  He beat out another green belt and an orange belt from other teams to get second place.

He got 1st place (same division) in sparring.  Once again beating out the green and orange belts.  We think he did a great job!  He even had other kid's parents cheering for him :-).

Here he is getting ready to do his kata for the judges...

Here he is getting ready to get his 2nd place trophy...

Here he is getting ready to accept his 1st place trophy... notice orange belt isn't clapping - Oscar beat him twice and he was a real sore loser about it.

Here's the team:  Marcus (in the white), Sinsei (Tony), Conner (red helmet) and Oscar in front.

All together they got five first place trophies and one second place trophy.  Conner got disqualified in his sparring match, so only got 4th place there (should've gotten 1st, but the brown belt - higher rank - he was fighting had a huge football-esque looking face-guard on his helmet and Conner got called for face contact because he kept clipping the kid's face guard with his kicks - he's got a killer hook kick).

I actually had a pretty good time and I'm not a sports fan :-).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oscar & Diana's "School Pictures"

Today all the kids were out of school for Thanksgiving Break.  Mayerly went to our developmental optometrist for an eye screening in the morning.  She has been having some trouble with reading, so we made the appointment last month right after parent/teacher conferences.  She'll be getting glasses soon.  She has a problem similar to Oscar's (a convergence insufficiency - sees double at close range).  Hopefully, the glasses will help her with her reading.  She is supposed to wear them anytime she is indoors according to the optometrist.  We should get them in a week or two.

Hanai went to the groomer.  She isn't crazy about it because it is in the vet's office.  But she looks (and smells) really good now. :-)

I ran several other errands which included picking up pictures we had taken at the beginning of the month of the kids and all their cousins on my (Anne's) side of the family.  I bought a CD of them with copyright release so I can post them.  Since Oscar and Diana's school is so small, they don't get school pictures like Mayerly and Claudia did - so I had the photographer take some of those two by his/her self.  Here are the ones I chose:

The rest of the pictures are Christmas gifts, so I can't post them now.  I will post one that didn't make the final selection cut:

Thanksgiving dinner is at our house tomorrow, so I need to get the kids in bed so I can start some stuff tonight!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cursed Auditory Processing Disorder

I've read on other blogs about other parents being saddened by their children's loss of their first language (usually Spanish).  I have to tell you, I can't relate to those feelings at all.  We have now been home almost 22 months and we still often hear several Spanish words used in the middle of otherwise English sentences.  And often the sentence in English is still structured as a sentence in Spanish.

We also hear words that are not English or Spanish ("made up" words that I now know came from not being able to correctly decode phenomes in Spanish before, and in English now).  For example, there is the word "unday".  Huh? you say - well me too... for over a year.  I even tried to look it up in dictionaries and on BabelFish with no success.  Only when the Spanish slowly started to give way to more intelligible English was I able to figure out what this mysterious word was supposed to mean.  It is actually supposed to be "cuando" in Spanish ("when" in English).

Communication continues to be an issue at our house after almost two years - albeit on a much lesser scale.  Memory and sequencing problems continue - and are also part of the auditory processing disorders we are battling.

Before we brought our kids home, I thought that it was important for them to become bilingual.  Now, not so much.  Now, I just want them to be proficient in English.  I want them to be able to read in English.  I want them to be able to write in English.  I want them to be able to speak in English so that others can understand what they are saying.  Yes, my vision of what is "important" has changed dramatically over the past couple of years.

We have been attacking the APD on three fronts:  Therapy for the APD itself, speech therapy and through the special education school that we send our older children to - where they understand the roots of the problems our children are up against.  The director of the school and his wife have a disabled biological daughter and a son (from Colombia) that they fostered when his adoption disrupted after his arrival in the US.  Their son had undiagnosed learning disabilities too.  Their experience with LD is first-hand.

So where does APD come from?  'No one knows for certain,' is the less-than-satisfactory answer to that question.  Our audiologist (and APD therapist) believes that our kids had "unresolved" recurring ear aches/infections at very young ages.  Our orthodontist says that the discoloration in Oscar's teeth is due to recurring high fevers.  These (especially the recurring ear aches) are often listed as likely causes for APD.

So why did I devote an entire blog post to APD?  Well, before adoption, I had never even heard of APD.  We knew we were adopting one child with strabismic amblyopia.  We thought we were prepared for a certain course of treatment and ended up going a completely different direction.  We were briefed on tantrums and PTSD and RAD, but not APD (or VPD's) or learning disabilities that could have been caused by early neglect.

Post-adoption, I believe APD quite possibly may be linked with many educational/behavioral issues that many older adopted children have.  For a long time, we summed up our kids' slowness at acquiring English to being able to speak Spanish to each other and being older and therefore having more "first language" already ingrained.  As the months went by, and the English that was being spoken was poorly articulated (sounds added where they shouldn't be and left out where they should have been - or both) we started to realize that there must be something else going on.  The public schools attributed any issues I brought to them were due to "language acquisition issues".  I determined that I wasn't up for an uphill fight with the school (times four), so we took the path of least resistance and put our kids in their various therapies (the school refused to provide speech therapy for the reason stated above) and then pulled them from public school and placed them in private schools.  We are blessed to have the means to afford these options.

It's still been uphill, but I don't feel like it's nearly as steep a hill or that I'm trying to push a boulder up that hill in front of me anymore.  God created us to be incredibly resilient - if we choose to be.  Incidently, our kids have all begun reading within their first semester since making all these changes.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.

More examples of "APD words":
peep = peed
hun-gedd = hundred
no brilly = not really
bi = bite
fi = fight
tie = tight
fodder = father
code = cold
hay-ope = help

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day of Final Post Adoption Visit

I was off work today for Veteran's Day - no husband, no kids.  I get two days like this per year.  I never accomplish as much as I want to on these days.

Today I:
  • took the kids to school
  • rushed home to get Hank to the vet by 9:00 for his annual shots and to have them check a new lump he has on his belly (couldn't confirm or rule out a new tumor, we'll just be watching it to see if it grows any more)
  • cleaned the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher and ran it
  • sorted through and somewhat organized paperwork
  • went to Walgreen's to buy shampoo, cough drops, toothbrushes, etc.
  • drove thru Mickey D's for lunch
  • came home, fed the dogs, gave them pills from the vet to kill fleas, took them outside and then back in
  • put stuff in the bread machine to make bread for dinner
  • cleaned the downstairs bathroom
  • unloaded the dishwasher and started dinner
  • left to go pick the kids up from school
  • came home and continued getting dinner ready
  • our social worker Nikki came over for our final post-adopt report (showed her how to make lasagna while we talked)
  • Tim came home, finished post-adopt visit
  • ate dinner
  • kids did homework and listened to each read for a little bit
  • watched Andy Griffith DVD Tim got from the library while checking my eBay auctions and researching items for my next auctions
  • turned off TV to go start showers
  • checked dogs for fleas (only found dead ones, yay!)
  • hugged and kissed everyone goodnight
  • downloaded picture for blog
Here is a picture of Nikki and the kids on our last visit.  Tonight, I still need to make lunches for tomorrow and get myself ready for bed.

I really need a day like this about once a week, just to stay caught up... but I get 2 per year.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mayerly's 9th Birthday - October 23rd

Blew it out

Pink MP3... They saw these come in orange too - is there a pattern here???

It's a pillow.  It's a pet.  It's a pillow-pet!

Dad wanted to see if she fit in the bag or not.  Turns out she's just a little too big.

Dad + 4 checking out the pictures Mom loaded on it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'll Admit It...

...I'm a blog-stalker.  I never really read blogs until 2008 when we started our adoption adventure.  I started reading mainly to see stories of other families in "the adoption process" (i.e. the boring paperwork stuff, etc.) and also to try to get an idea of what we were getting ourselves into from those who had already brought their children home.  I now continue to read them so I don't feel so alone concerning the issues that we face that are unique to adoptive families (especially the older child and sibling adoption blogs).

I occasionally read a blog by the LaJoy family in Colorado.  She is a home-schooling mom of 5 kiddos (adopted, but not from Colombia).  I linked to a recent post on her blog (above) that really struck a chord with me, and I couldn't have said it better myself.  She asked her children to describe the purpose of family, then she goes on to talk about her fears and challenges.  It was truly an excellent post.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Now that it's September...

...I'm finally getting around to posting about what we did in August (and then what we've done so far this month)!

August is a big birthday month (always has been in my family).  My niece turned 4, my mom's birthday was next, my younger sister's next, mine is after that and Oscar's is on the 28th.  BIG birthday month around here.

Oscar has been taking karate since March.  In August he got his first belt (yellow).  He still needs to work on his kata, so the instructor gave him a provisional belt (white stripe through the yellow) until he can do it on his own without prompting.

I went on FMLA leave (intermittent) on September 1st.  Why you ask?  Mondays: I take Mayerly, Diana and Oscar to speech therapy;  Tuesdays:  I take Oscar and Diana to vision therapy;  every other Thursday I take Oscar and Diana to auditory processing therapy;  Fridays:  I take Oscar and Diana to speech therapy.  So far, so good.  We don't have much time in the evenings for other activities.  We kept Oscar in karate on Monday and Wednesdays so he gets some exercise and time with boys (only girls at home, and at school right now).

The new schools seem to be going well so far.  There are 3 students (yeah, that's not a typo) in Oscar and Diana's school - including Oscar and Diana.  The other student is a girl about Diana's age.  They each have an individualized curriculum suited to where they are in each subject and a lot on one-on-one help.  They also get extra therapy for their areas of weakness at this school.  So far, it has been a very positive thing and we are seeing some scholastic improvements already.

Mayerly and Claudia's school has an ESL program (through December only).  Mayerly is participating in Title 1 Reading (small groups that get extra help with reading) too.  They were both in Spanish until ESL started, but something had to give and unfortunately it was Spanish - for now.  It was so funny after Claudia's first Spanish class, she was trying to impress me by telling me all the colors in Spanish.  She doesn't remember that less than two years ago she only knew how to say them in Spanish.

In August we also refinanced our house to a 30 year loan to help the 'ole budget.  We are followers of Dave Ramsey and had originally planned to have our house paid off within the next 3 years (we had a 10 year loan).  We have managed to stay debt free except for our house payment.  However, with all the therapies that insurance won't pay for and the special education/private school tuition, we have had to do some serious adjusting with the finances in order to keep from borrowing money to pay for everything.  We're dropping our phone land line soon and will only have cell phones. We probably don't/won't eat out much (if at all) or do much of anything extra from now on either.  We never have had cable or satellite TV and our cars are paid for.  I buy all the kids clothes off eBay or from consignment/thrift shops.  I hope this doesn't sound all whiny and depressing, because it isn't meant to; we don't expect things to be this tight forever.  Gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Tim started a new job last week.  He wasn't looking, they came to him and offered him more money and better benefits, so it was kinda a no-brainer to take it.  They even have overtime opportunities, which is much better than taking a second job (which we were considering before this job came along).  He isn't liking the commute too much though compared to his old job (the old job was here in town, the new one is across the state line in Kansas).  It puts all the responsibility of running the kids to all their therapies on me now too, since he isn't close enough to do some of it anymore.  We are surviving the change though.

I'm starting to sell the kids outgrown clothes on eBay too as a little side business.  I listed 3 "test items" last weekend and have bids on two of them - they end tomorrow.  We'll see how it goes, hopefully I'll make enough money to make it worth the effort.

That's it.  It's just plain crazy around here, but we kinda knew it would be.  :-)

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Day of School - Oscar and Diana August 30, 2010

We lost our phone (land line) service, and thus internet service, sometime either last Sunday night or Monday morning.  We got it back on Saturday afternoon (way to be on top of things AT&T).  Evidently, there was some utility service work done up the street from us that was the culprit.  Still don't know why it takes a week to fix it...

Anyway, I'm finally getting to post our second "first day of school" - Oscar and Diana's.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Officially a teenager...

We decided to go with numbers instead of 13 candles.
A hermit crab habitat from Grandma Schoemig, now we just need to get him some crabs to go in it...
blue mp3 player from Mom and Dad
Skateboard from Grandma and Grandpa Verhulst
...ER bills will be going to their house...

I'll post about what went on in August soon.  Right now I'm about to crash in the middle of typing this because I was up until 3a.m. loading pictures and music onto his mp3 ;-).

Mayerly & Claudia's First Day of School August 26, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy 10th B-day Diana

10 candles
We got her a purple MP3 player
Me giving a short lesson on how to work her new gadget
I think she's getting the hang of it

Monday, July 19, 2010

So Far, in July...

On Independence Day we went to Tim's aunt's house in Raymore for a huge cookout with his dad's side of the family.  Tim's dad is the oldest of ten kids, so when I say huge I'm not exaggerating.  We left a little early so we could be closer to home for fireworks.  We went to the one in Sugar Creek which is just about 5 minutes from our house.  It was small, but pretty nice - until it started to rain on us... really, rain on the 4th of July???

Summer school ended on July 9th.  The girls are now home all day with a babysitter (the same one who watched them after school since I had to go back to work full time in January).  I hope they don't scare her off before the end of the summer...

On the 10th we left home at 7:00 am and drove to St. Louis for the CHI Reunion.  I left my camera in the car so I don't have any pictures from the actual reunion.  We had a good time meeting some of the other families (Duewels, Bakers, Armstrongs, Willetts - and I know I'm going to forget to mention others we met).  We also saw some of the families that we have known for awhile like the Sinclairs, Bonds, Stottsberrys  and Rimas.  We were especially glad to Meet Julie E. in person!

After the reunion picnic was over, we went to America's Incredible Pizza Co. with our friends from Illinois who are thinking about adopting again (they are now considering Ethiopia instead of Colombia for their adoption due to the long wait time for Colombia) and came as our guests to the reunion.  Our kids had a great time with their daughter.  I actually got a couple of pictures before my camera battery conked out.
It's kinda dark, but you can see Claudia to the right, Diana to the left and Mayerly's leg to the far right.
This one is of Oscar on the indoor go-cart track - again kinda dark.

The day after the reunion we went swimming at the hotel pool after breakfast and before we left to go back home.
Tim throwing Mayerly
Tim throwing Claudia
Diana in mid-jump by the poolhouse
more pool fun...
Oscar's back since he wouldn't let me take his picture when he was looking at me... hehe!

At 8:00 Monday morning after we came home, I took Oscar, Diana and Mayerly in for their lingual frenectomies (tongue tie oral surgery).  It wasn't as bad as I expected.  We opted for laughing gas before the shot (don't think any of them even know they got a shot in their tongue...).  The oral surgeon then cut the frenum with a laser.  It wasn't as gross as I figured it would be, I even watched (and I can't usually deal with that kind of stuff very well).  Not much blood because the laser cauterizes as it cuts.  We were out of there by 10:00 after all three surgeries.  Now we have to do tongue exercises after every meal.  Oscar still can't get his tongue out much past his lips because it was stuck to the bottom of his mouth for so long, but he should get there with time and exercise.  Speech therapy is now a weekly thing for these 3 ***update, Oscar and Diana are now doing speech therapy twice a week - so if you are still keeping score, we're up to 9 therapy sessions per week***.

This past Saturday Tim took the kids to an air show in Olathe/Gardner, KS so I could be left in peace to fill out paperwork for the upcoming school year (we're sending them all to private schools this year).  Below are pictures...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Picnic at the Rima's Farm

Yesterday we went to the second annual picnic at Gerry & Teresa Rima's dairy farm in El Dorado Springs, MO.  They are super nice folks and have adopted nine children from Colombia and one from the U.S.  Above is a picture we took right as the sky opened up and started to pour down rain on us (broke up the party really quickly).  The Rima kids are all wearing green shirts (Teresa and Gerry aren't in the picture though).  Our kids really liked going to the picnic again this year and we all had a good time in spite of the unfortunate weather towards the end.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Funny and Sobering

Ever since our kids started to use English, they have had some pretty bizzare ways of saying things and trying to express themselves.  Some of this stems from having learned Spanish first and trying to apply the rules and sentence structure to English - which sometimes doesn't work so well.  Other times, it is just due to the severe deprivation of the early years of their lives coming through in their speech limitations.

Lately, Diana - when asking a question - will put a "yaah?" on the end of it.  It's hillarious to me because she sounds like a Swede (imagine Wally Walrus).  For example, she will say, "Mama, I do la rondie(laundry) good today, yaah?".  To which I will usually answer "yaah!"...

Oscar on the other hand will say, "Yes y yes" - when he means to say "Yes it is".  He says this so much (especially to his sisters) that Tim and I say "yes y yes" to each other instead of saying "yes it is".  Yaah, we have warped senses of humor...

Mayerly thinks the word "look" starts with a "g" (glook).  I think she had heard me tell her "go look" so much ***sidebar - Mayerly used to never look for anything she would lose, she just expected everyone to drop everything and help her find whatever she lost without looking for it herself first (if at all).  So, I told her (at least once every day for awhile) to "go look" for her fill-in-the-blank-here because I didn't lose it.*** that she just runs the two words together now.  "Glook at this mama!"

When Claudia tries to say "popsicle" it sounds like "bicycle".  Now she just says "fruit bar" instead (but that actually sounds more like "fubar").  Can't win for losing...


We have completed vision testing on Oscar now.  He has a convergence insufficiency and will need vision therapy.  He got reading glasses back in April and we will start his therapy in September when school starts.  Diana has been doing VT since January and is progressing well.  Her eyes are straight sometimes now - which means she is using them together when they are :-).  Unfortunately, my insurance is refusing to cover it so it is about to get twice as expensive for us to pay for this therapy.

We had Oscar and Diana tested for auditory processing disorder.  They both have this - which explains their slow aquisition of English and the repeated mispronounciations of words even with retro-feeding.  We started APD therapy for that today (also not covered by insurance).

I asked our audiologist about getting speech therapy evaluations.  He said that it would be a good idea since APD therapy only deals with the processing aspect, not with learning to articulate correctly.  Soooo this month we took all four kids in for speech therapy evaluations.  Oscar, Diana and Mayerly have ankyloglossia - more commonly known as "tongue tie".  I'll be scheduling surgery for them this summer to "loose their tongues".  Interestingly, I found this scripture referencing tongue tie, "...and the string of his tongue was loosed , and he spake plain." KJV Mark 7:35.  At least 3 kids will be starting speech therapy after their surgeries (this should be covered by insurance).  Claudia has the speech of about a 5 year old, but not sure if this warrants therapy right now.

So if you are keeping score, that will be three kids, doing three different therapies - or seven therapy sessions per week coming our way soon.  I haven't figured out how we are going to do this all yet - financially or logistically.  Keep us in your prayers...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Costume Party

Claudia "Ingalls", Oscar (Millonarios Colombian soccer team), Diana aka "Miss Colombia", and a really big butterfly who answers to "Mayerly"

Tonight we went to a costume party at our church to benefit the Future Hope Orphanage in Liberia (Africa).  Our kids were very excited about getting to wear a costume and go to a party.  I'm glad we are actually able to go due to all our appointments and activities (therapies, doctors, karate, etc.).

We bought one toy for a boy and one toy for a girl (ones that fit into the palm of your hand and don't require batteries) that each of our kids will send to the orphans in Africa.  The gifts need to be small so that the missionary taking them to Africa can easily pack them all in his suitcase.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2 Wheels are Better than 4

As of this past weekend, we are training-wheel free!  Mayerly got hers off in April and Claudia got hers off on Saturday :-).

Friday, April 30, 2010

Just Another Day in the Life

So we finally had Mayerly and Claudia's annual visit to the pediatrician.  Mayerly is still a little on the small side, the doctor wants to recheck her again next year and thought we may want to consider growth hormone if she is still in the 2nd percentile next year.  Not sure I'm on board with that, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it - if we come to it.  Who knows, maybe she will shoot up this year.  Claudia's growth was more in line with what the doctor expected.

Mayerly got one shot, Claudia got two.  Those weren't as bad as last year.  One unexpected development, Claudia had a bead stuck in her right ear. It was kind of odd that she hadn't done very well with the hearing test (in her right ear only).  I was a little concerned, but then it all made sense when the doctor actually looked in her ear and found a little white bead lodged in there!

The nurse put drops in first and then used a huge syringe with water in it to try to irrigate it out - neither worked.  So finally the doctor had to take some instuments and pick the bead out.  I have no idea what would possess her to stick a bead in her ear, but after having to have it picked out (with me and a nurse holding her down as the doctor picked) - hopefully she won't do something like that again.  The doctor tried to reassure me that she has had to pick foreign objects out of many of her patients.  I remember sticking a bean up my nose when I was little, so I guess she could be right about that.  I just can't believe Claudia didn't tell anyone that she had a bead stuck in her ear... who knows how long it had been there - I suspect it was any time within the past 2 weeks, that's went Diana got a beading kit from her vision therapy doctor for therapy "homework".  The pediatrician gave us the bead in a little cup as a "momento" of our visit today...

While I was at the doctor with the younger two, my mom had the older two (the girls' school is out today for some reason, so we sent Diana to Grandma's house with Oscar this morning).  After we were finished at the doctor's office we went to get Diana.  We took her and Oscar and Grandma and all went to lunch at McDonald's (they don't love the food, just the toy in the happy meal).  We had a nice little visit with Grandma and Oscar and then dropped them back at Grandma's house so they could continue Oscar's lessons.

Next, we came home and Claudia fed the dogs (her daily "job").  After that we turned right around and took Hank to the vet to have blood drawn from him to send to MU for the chemo drug study.  Hank hates the vet and will usually sit on my foot in the waiting room and just shake until we leave.  We thankfully were not there very long, and Hank was never so happy.  All this before 2:00 in the afternoon...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Photo and Hank Update

Above is one of the professional photos of the kids
(left to right) Claudia, Diana, Oscar & Mayerly
Photo courtesy of The Portrait Gallery

I took Hank to the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO on Thursday.  We enrolled him in a chemotherapy drug study for his cancer at the veterinary school there.  We have to pay for some lab work and some blood work, but the drug is free.  Our local vet can do the work-ups and the university will mail us the drug as long as we continue to send in the log reports we have to do for the study.  He started the pills on Friday, so far so good.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Recognition of Foreign Adoption Hearing

We have now completed the next-to-last step in finishing up our adoption-related paperwork etc.  Today we finalized our "recognition of foreign adoption".  Woo-hoo!  We only have one more post-adopt visit and then we are free from all our obligations regarding adoption paperwork.  I can't wait (no offense Nikki, we love you, but it's just one more thing off the agenda - you understand I'm sure)!

Thanks to the folks at Krigel & Krigel who helped us knock this one out!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good News and Sad News

We'll start with the good news.  I consider myself an pragmatic optimist (is that an oxymoron?), so we'll start happy...

Tim and I decided today that we will be going to the CHI Reunion this summer for sure.  (I still need to send in our reservation).  Some friends (my friend - from when I worked in Mexico - and her husband - from the states) are planning to join us there.  They are not a CHI family, but are seriously considering adopting a baby from Colombia.  They have a 4-year-old daughter adopted from Guatemala as a baby and would like to adopt another baby now but can't go back to Guatemala (because, as some of you know, that country is currently closed to adoption).  I keep trying to get them to consider special needs adoption, but I know that isn't for everyone :-).  CHI said that they would love to have them and we are excited to be going this year.

Last weekend we had family pictures taken.  We went to an actual photographer this time instead of going to a department store.  I wasn't really pleased with our department store photo experiences.  I always feel rushed to make a decision and they don't tend to photograph large groups of people very well (bad composition, bad lighting, rush rush rush).  We spent over an hour with this photographer just for the shoot.  We then got to come back and spend another hour with her looking at and selecting the proofs (in a slideshow of digitals).  Much nicer experience and much better pictures to choose from.  I hope to be able to post one soon.

Yesterday the kids were out of school for Good Friday so I was home from work and had scheduled appointments with the pediatrician.  Oscar and Diana both had their appointments yesterday, Claudia and Mayerly go on the 30th (when school is out again).  Oscar went from the 12th percentile in height and weight to the 25th percentile.  Diana went up a little in height percentile and down a little in her weight percentile (which is good because she was a little chubby - said the pot about the kettle - when we first came home).  Hopefully her height will catch up with her weight at some point.  Dr. Kirby-Diaz said to keep doing whatever it is that we are doing and that she was very happy with their progress this year.

Yesterday was a busy day.  We also had our 3rd post adoption visit with Nikki, our social worker.  We had a pretty good visit.  We also discussed our up-coming "recognition of foreign adoption" hearing that is next Friday.  She gave us a run-down on what to expect, so we will be more prepared.  We started this process back in October, but had to wait for a copy of the original adoption decree (the Spanish one that we did not have a copy of - we just had a translated copy) from Colombia.  We finally got that at the beginning of March but couldn't get a court date until April.  I'm just happy to be marking one more thing off our list of "post adoption things to do".

Now the sad news.  We took Hank (our dog) to the vet last week to have a bump on his front leg looked at.  Turns out it was a tumor that was growing very rapidly.  We had it removed (also yesterday).  The vet said that it was not a "good" tumor either (the kind that is encapsilated and just "pops out" in surgery).  It was growing around the main artery in his leg and into the skin and pretty much everywhere.  We decided to have it biopsied to see if there is anything we can do that won't cost too much.  He more than likely has cancer, we just need to know what kind of cancer before we decide what to do next.

We have to keep poor Hank in a kennel for a day or so (which he is very put out about).  He has to wear a "cone" (the vet calls it an "Elisabethan collar") to keep him from licking his stitches.  We had to go back to the vet to get him some tranquilizers this morning because he would not calm down after we brought him home yesterday until after everyone (including Tim and I) went to bed last night.  He's still freaking out - even with the tranquilizers - but it's not as bad as last night.  It's very sad and hard to watch him have to endure all this.  He has had to have surgery before, but it is harder now that he is older and we have four kids and another dog.  Too much activity (that he wants to be a part of) going on...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CHI Reunion ... Anyone?

We got an email about the CHI reunion this summer. Anyone out there planning on going? We'd love to meet some of our blog-buddies in person!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Claudia's 7th Birthday

Toy veggies and fruit from Grandma & Grandpa Verhulst

A "laptop" from Grandma Schoemig

More educational electronic games

The kids (and Hanai)


What a difference a year makes, hardly looks like the same kid...

February 17, 2010

February 17, 2009

It's hard to believe we are starting our second round of birthdays. There will be no more surprise celebrations now. They all now know when their birthdays are (everyone got their own calendar for the New Year and they all counted the days until "Claudia's Happy Birthday" this year) and what to expect (cake and presents).