Friday, August 31, 2012

Work Life Balance

double chin magnificence
This double chin is my best work to date.

I shouldn't even be writing this right now. Let's start there. I've got two gigantic loads of laundry piled on the bed, a pile of cloth diapers to be assembled and put away on the sofa, and more in the washer and dryer. There is trash on the floor of the office that I have no intention of picking up today and only the baby is dressed in something other than pajamas. We are almost out of clean bottles. Zinashi is playing well, but is frustrated that I am, yet again, at the computer.

I've been spending a lot of time at the computer. This is kind of sad considering that I am three weeks or more behind on emails. If you sent me an email longer than three weeks ago and I have not responded, you should probably send it again if it's important. It's not that I don't want to write back to everyone, it's just that I have a lot of trouble stringing together sentences into a meaningful reply when my human interaction cup is overflowing. This, I suppose, is why I like blogging. I can say something to a whole lot of people at once; it's efficient.

Today I posted my last post on the Babble Being Pregnant blog.  I have really loved having the opportunity to blog for Babble on Being Pregnant, but I'll admit the timing was a little challenging. I wouldn't trade it for the world, and I'm not sorry I accepted the offer or kept at it during what have been three of the most intense months of my life, indeed of our family life. The support we have received has been incredibly valuable, and the opportunity to write for a larger audience, as somewhat of a professional, has been rewarding to me personally. I will continue to write for Babble, moving on to their Baby's First Year blog. However, I won't be blogging there as often as I blogged on Being Pregnant. Because I can't.

I used to envy the big name bloggers and wish that my little blog would take off in a similar fashion. What I've learned these three months is that while I like have a larger readership and engaging with more people via the internet, I don't like what I have to sacrifice to keep up with blogging every weekday. Much of the time it's been sleep, but as I started falling asleep at my keyboard more and more often each night, I started blogging during the day, which means that the people who got less of my attention are my children, and by the end of the day I've been frazzled enough from trying to meet the varied needs of two very different children to not really feel like having meaningful interactions with anyone, which kind of leaves my husband out in the cold.

I know that a lot of women (and men!) who blog professionally have childcare help, which is how they manage to do what I simply cannot, and that is something I have to recognize as opposed to wondering why I can't keep up with that amount of productivity. I'm not at the level where my income via blogging would justify paying for childcare, and even if it did get there, I know that's not the right choice for my children and their particular needs. I don't criticize anyone who makes that choice, as I think it can be the right thing for other kids. Going to school can be the right choice for other kids, but I know that this year Zinashi is not ready for it, and it doesn't line up with our family schedule besides.

Life is all about choices. By choosing to parent via adoption and throw special needs into that mix, we put limits on what we can do as parents outside of, you know, parenting. We've known since Zinashi came home that having one parent at home full time was the way we needed to go to meet her needs, and it remains true as we parent Elvie and begin to homeschool Zinashi. As much as I'd like to have the kind of energy that would allow me to do a lot of additional work, it's just not there. That's partly my personality and partly still waking up every one to two hours to feed the Elvie every night.

I don't buy into the myth of having it all. By choosing one thing, you often choose not to have other things. There's nothing wrong with that; it's just the way life works. I have so much in my life, and my husband and children are the best of it. I bid a fond farewell to these three months as a daily professional blogger and happily return to a life in which I can have better balance.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

How We Do Physical Education in This Here Homeschool

the best dressed ballerina

Zinashi had her first ballet class today. I'd like to say that she's a natural, but that would be lying. She was a natural at getting dressed and looking like the most adorable ballerina on the planet, but in the actual class she had a bit of trouble keeping up. I think that's just fine; it falls in line with the way she learns everything else, timidly at first, mostly watching what others do, and then when she is ready, she goes at it with gusto. I don't mind if she spends half the class staring at her feet the first few times, willing them to do the right thing. It's cute.

are my feet right?

I'm already looking forward to next week. So is she.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Let's Talk About This

zinashi butterfly
Another photo that has nothing to do with this post. I mean, sort of it does, but not technically.

Of the many reasons I decided to start blogging for Babble, perhaps the one that is most important to me, is that I can talk about adoption with a wider audience. Or to a wider audience, depending on whether my posts have comments or not. Today I'd like to talk about something with you. Of all the things I've written about, this post on Babble is the one post I hope a lot of people read, both adoptive and non-adoptive parents, or even non-parents.  I posted about how I don't believe that our daughters' adoptions were meant to be, and why I don't think so, and even more importantly, why it's important that I make sure that's not the message they are getting from Jarod and me. I don't feel like that's a message that is being heard by most people, that they get the warm, snuggly version of adoption or the "rescuing an orphan" version of adoption, but they are not privy to the hard truths, to how complex the situation can become. I don't want to magnify the struggles of my family or my children, because we certainly have our fair share of peace and joy, but at the same time, I want to tell the truth. About our family, and the real reason it came to be. About the lack of justice in our world. About just how much hurt is involved when a child cannot remain with his or her family, even if both parents and child desire that.

I know that there are stories of children who were mistreated by their families, and should not have stayed with them as long as they did or at all. I think that when we tell the story of "meant to be," the problem is that it doesn't address why the children had to go through all that pain and heartbreak to make it into a loving family. I also think there are gaps in the theory of "meant to be" even if I were to say that I believe that once a child is in need of adoption, they are guided into the family they are meant to be in as a second choice. I am fine with this if the child feels that way personally about their story, but I think that if we say it in general, it fails to answer the question of why, then, some children are adopted into homes that are abusive, sometimes even to the point of death. It doesn't answer why some parents choose to disrupt their adoptions.

So what I'd like to know is how you feel about adoption, and the idea of destiny or even God's will if you are a person of faith. If you are an adoptive parent and do believe that your child was meant to be in your home from the beginning, how do you reconcile yourself to the stories that don't turn out so well? How do you dialog with your children about this so that if they someday feel conflicted about their adoption story, they know that you support them regardless of whether they come to believe the same thing you do?

I don't often introduce topics that could be cause for disagreement, so here's a reminder to keep it respectful and remember that each of us is a unique snowflake of an individual who is entitled to his or her feelings.

Now tell me what you think, please.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Two Months of Elvie

Two months ago we said yes to being Elvie's family in front of a judge in Addis Ababa, and shortly thereafter we carried her out of the care center. She was remarkable, even so sick, and that first night I saw her first smile as I changed her diaper in the dark. It was the beginning of the revelation of her happiness. Whatever water has passed under the bridges of our quest to get her home and healthy, the fact remains that she has always been a delight. Even when she was suffering more than we knew. It is inexplicable, really. She is extraordinary.

I don't think I've ever worked harder than I have these two months. I have never been so sleep deprived, that much is certain. But oh, I can't complain, not really. Because look at her. Would you not do everything for her?







Happy two months, Elvie girl. Thank you for bringing us such joy. You are our favorite baby, the very best one.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Notes on Surviving Elvie's Hospitalizations, Attachment at the Hospital, Etc.

elvie loves phae
Photo to illustrate magnificent cheeks. Also titled "LOOK HOW FAT MY BABY IS HOORAY!" and "Is it okay if I lick this kitty?"

I've been thinking a lot about Elvie's hospitalizations and how they affected our family, plus what we can do better next time. I get really excited that she's gaining weight and that she will be able to have her big surgery in the coming months (fingers crossed to get it done in 2012), but at the same time, every time I walk home from the N stop, I am reminded of how hectic those hospital days were, and how I am not looking forward to keeping that kind of schedule again. (Not to mention not looking forward to seeing Elvie in great pain.) However, it is necessary, and we are looking forward to Elvie being able to move closer to a more normal life. So I've also been planning for the next hospital stay, and I found that I am grateful not only that Elvie got the care she needed to get well during her hospital stays, but also that it gave Jarod and me a chance to experience hospital life and be ready for the next time. I've done a little series on hospital life over at Babble, in hopes that it will help other families experiencing hospitalization of their child, and that it will help jog my memory when it's time to go back.

The Unexpected Gifts of Elvie's Unexpected Hospital Stays
When Your Baby is Sick: The Practicalities of Hospital Life
When Your Baby is Sick: 12 Things to Bring to the Hospital
When Your Baby is Sick: 10 Things to Bring to the Hospital for Yourself
When Your Baby is Sick: What a Normal Hospital Day is Like
When Your Newly Adopted Baby is Sick: Promoting Attachment in a Hospital Setting

smiley eyes
This one is just for you, just because. You're welcome!

And if you want more to read--I mean, I know some of you are weekend warriors, but most of you just like to relax and read the internet, am I right?--here are some other posts I've done lately over at Babble.

First up, I whine a little bit about two kids! so hard! harder than one kid! I mean, duh, but if you're in the same boat with family expansion, hopefully you'll feel better that it's not just you.
Transitioning From One Child to Two: Yes, It's As Hard As They Say It Is

Second, which maybe should be first, I talk about our open adoptions. This is something I feel strongly about. If you are an adoptive family and have the opportunity (or can make the opportunity) to keep a connection to your children's first families, I highly recommend doing so.
Keeping Our Daughters Connected to Their Ethiopian Families

Any adoption requires being comfortable with uncertainy; I think that parenting in general does. However, walking into special needs adoption requires a whole new level of letting go.
Special Needs Adoption: Being Uncomfortable With Uncertainty

And now, some photos of Zinashi. Because I know you miss seeing her smiling face on a regular basis:

matchy matchy
Her nail color matches her furry vest and her sticker. The sparkles on her nails match her shirt. Because that's just how you are supposed to do it.

zinashi and her "baby"
Zinashi adopted this baby, and she says it's cuter than my baby, by which she means Elvie. Her reasoning? Because her baby "has more fur." Whatever, weirdo.

If that's not enough Elvie and Zinashi cuteness, there's an Elvie-centric slideshow here, documenting her chubbing up progress, plus one featuring both girls here. You know you wanna click over. DO IT.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our Give It Forward Recipient for August!

I hope that none of you were out there holding your breath to see who would be getting our Give It Forward payment that covers our contributions for August. I made the payment, but failed to notify you. My apologies!

We are so excited to be able to contribute to the work of Shriners Hospitals. We know several families personally who have benefited from their services, and the work they do is truly valuable and inspiring.

We've got a great list of worthy charities to include in the next few months, and I can't wait to tell you more about them in September and October. It is truly rewarding to be able to pass on the monetary help we received in bringing Elvie home to others who need it more than we do. We look forward to giving more to help more people as we repay the kindness that you have so generously shown to us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Things, With Photos

It's hard to find the will to put on anything but items with elastic waistbands. I have a lot of really cute clothes, but a good number of them won't fit right now without the benefit of shapewear, and sometimes I just give up. But some days I have to at least put on jeans, and if I'm putting on jeans, why not graduate to a skirt? So today I did. We went to the pediatrician, and also to the Starbucks that is conveniently located less than a block from our pediatrician. You're welcome, medical staff and baristas!

no yoga pants today!

I will now wear this same outfit anytime I need to look presentable, as I lack the motivation to figure out how to put together more outfits with the clothes that fit me right now.

In far different news (unless the news is that we can spend more time in clothes with elasticized waists thanks to this), we are officially homeschooling starting September 4. We were going to follow the schedule of the local school district, but then I thought, "Wait! We are homeschooling partly so we can make our own schedule! Labor Day to Memorial Day it is!" It just seems more straightforward to me, honestly. Also, we didn't have math curriculum yet.

Math curriculum? WHAT?!

But now we do! I just have to, I don't know, take it out of the box and figure out what we're supposed to do with it. No worries, though! I've got two weeks until the first day of school!

I am looking forward to teaching Zinashi in a more structured way at home. This will be her kindergarten year, and we aren't required to report to the State of California until she is seven years old, so this makes our homeschool beginnings more relaxed. We will be using the math curriculum pictured, getting back to our reading instruction book, and aspiring to reach some Charlotte Mason education goals. If you follow that link to the goals, note I said some, not all; most Charlotte Mason families spend longer than one year reaching these. We are also not as serious about spending time outdoors as many Charlotte Mason families; we enjoy our lazy mornings in pajamas all too much to give them up just yet. Plus, Zinashi is way more keen on learning about the human body than looking for wildflowers. We're going to start with that.

And so: onward, toward more attractive outings and a well-rounded little mind.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Elvie, Grief, Attachment, Etc.

Sometimes I wonder how long it will take before I can look at the photos of Elvie from our first two weeks together and not feel incredibly mournful. She was so sick and small, and even having her on my lap with her cheeks chubby and her trademark full open mouth smile mine for the asking, I can't shake the feeling of grief for her. Four and a half months without a mother present. At least one and a half with a urinary tract infection which showed up on lab reports but that no one knew to look for or to treat, which might have been there most of her life. A parasite present from formula being mixed with tap water. Thrush. And every report coming back to us in the US saying that she was healthy aside from her birth defect.

I think of the doctor we saw the day that she threw up everything she'd eaten, and how he dismissed her visible ribs and the outline of her intestines as nothing. With a wave of his hand, even, as if he couldn't be bothered with our stupidity. "She's fine," he said. And she wasn't fine, obviously. And I just wish we could have been there from the beginning.

She started crying tonight and it turned out she didn't want anything other than to be held, to look me in the eyes until she fell asleep. She does that a lot; she wants full eye contact. It's like she wants to be sure of me, even while she is dozing off. She will be almost out, and open her eyes one last time just to check and make sure I'm still looking. So even if I have other things that need to get done, or I want to multitask and read my email at the same time, I sit with her, and I look into her eyes as long as she needs me to. And if I can, I hold her in my arms the whole time she is asleep.

I think we are entering a time in our attachment process that might get pretty intense. I think Elvie is figuring out the difference between the way things were before we came along and the way they are now, and she does not want to leave our attentions to chance. She can't understand, of course, that we are here to stay. That we love her beyond any measure, and we will love her that same way forever. We have to prove it to her. We want to prove it to her. But that will take a lot of work, a lot of baby holding work, which is the best kind, but doesn't allow me to get much done.

Mercifully, Zinashi seems to be taking a whole lot of what I tell her to heart, and together we are adjusting so she can get her needs met while I concentrate on Elvie's more pressing needs. She is doing beautifully at asking directly for what she wants, telling me what she needs so we can figure out a solution as opposed to her just trying to do what she thinks will get her need met the quickest and easiest. I can't believe it sometimes, that she does just what I've explained to her she should do. Pulling a chair up next to me at the desk when she wants to be close, but I can't have her in the chair with me. Volunteering to do things that I've told her will be very helpful and lower the chance of me being a crabapple of a mother. Oh, she's not perfect, in the exact same way I'm not perfect as a mother. But we are working together, and we are trying hard, and we are figuring it out.

My hope and prayer is that this time with Elvie will give her what she needs to be sure of us before she must enter the hospital again for what will be a huge deal of a surgery. It won't be long, just some months from now. I know that's a tall order when it comes to attachment, but we have seen so many miracles so far. What's one more?

eponine and elvie
This cat is terrified of babies and children normally. But she loves Elvie. I cannot explain it other than to say it is a small, baffling miracle.

To Sleep, Perchance to Own a Bunk Bed

sleeping beauty

Zinashi is trying to sleep all night in her own bed. It's her third try, maybe her fourth. She wanted to try it last night, but Jarod didn't give me the message, so I just carried her to the big bed as per usual when I was ready to turn in for the night. I'd love it if this new development were due to her sincere desire to gain a new skill, but it's actually because she really wants a bunk bed. In fact, I deliberately misled her to believe that she would have to begin sleeping on the top bunk immediately after purchase, and thus I could not agree to a bunk bed unless she could sleep on her own until morning. It's just too hard to get a sleepy girl down from a top bunk, I told her, omitting the part about how Elvie won't be ready for a big girl bed for years, and she could probably claim the bottom bunk as her own until then.

We have always maintained that Zinashi could sleep in our bed for as long as she needed to. From the time we first brought her home, we put her to bed in her own bed to fall asleep (with us present and until she fell asleep in the beginning), then brought her into the big bed when we were ready to sleep. It was a good system for us, and ensured that the transition to her own bed full time would be smoother once she was ready. Right before we moved, she expressed a desire to sleep the whole night in her room, just like her friend Mona, but we put her off, knowing it wouldn't stick after the upheaval of the cross country move. We were right about that, and she still showed no signs of readiness through the adoption process and bringing Elvie home.

Now, however, with everyone here at home, I began to sense that she might be ready to try it. So when the opportunity arose to offer her motivation via bunk bed obsession, I seized it. I kind of hate bunk beds, but we could really use the space in the big bed for Elvie now, and having Zinashi sleep in her own bed would give that to us. It's not that she won't fit so much as it is that Zinashi is just too unpredictable in her sleeptime movements to ensure the safety of a much smaller baby. We've been using the bassinet stroller parked next to my side of the bed, and it works all right, but it's not what we want for Elvie, or for me as the nighttime feeder, frankly. Lifting her out when I am so sleepy always feels a little precarious. So if Zinashi can figure out how to sleep all night in her own bed, that would be good for all of us.

I will miss her in the big bed, though. I have really enjoyed having her there, snuggling up to me in her sleep without realizing what she's doing, or snaking one hand toward me if she's snuggled up next to Jarod on the other side. I think that it will bolster her confidence to be able to spend the night on her own, and it will make a lot of things simpler in terms of meeting Elvie's attachment needs, but still.  Still. After nearly two years of having her between us while we sleep, it will feel strange not to hear her particular sleep noises or to wake up and be unable to see her beautiful face as it relaxes in sleep. I know that I can always sneak into her room and take a peek, but it won't be the same, especially when I have to climb up to the top bunk to do it.

Time, it marches on. At least Elvie will still be a baby for awhile longer.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Post Adoption Poor Food Choices

baby magic
This photo of Elvie petting our OCD cat has nothing to do with anything in this post. If this photo had sound, it would be purring.

I have experienced some post adoption weight gain, and I wrote about it on the Babble Being Pregnant blog. I feel like this is something that I talk about with other adoptive moms, but that the world at large just doesn't get. I didn't grow a baby in my body, so why am I fatter? Do I have a problem?

Yes, I have lots of problems. But my post adoption weight gain isn't really one of them, at least not in and of itself.

What is a problem is that I've been struggling with not feeling my best. There are certain categories of food that I should avoid altogether if I want to feel good and have clear skin, and it's been tough to do that. In normal times, I have a cycle that goes: Eat really well-->Slowly slide into eating food that's inappropriate for me-->Understand it's getting to be a very uncomfortable problem-->Suddenly feel ready to eat really well again. And then I do, and the whole cycle starts all over again. The problem right now is that I feel less than my best much of the time, but I lack the energy to put into my mouth the things that keep me healthy.

So my clothes are a bit snug, which wouldn't mean anything of significance, except that clothes being snug, for me, means that I have been treating my body very poorly. It's not just about eating junk, it's about knowing that my body doesn't handle certain foods well and eating them anyway because they either taste good or are convenient or both. I feel like I am on the cusp of being ready to get back to eating well, but I am just so tired that I can't imagine what that would look like. Do I just buy a bunch of rotisserie chickens and spinach and eat that every night?

In all of this, I want to be very careful that I am not approaching dietary health primarily for the sake of weight loss. I don't want the behavior I model for my daughters to be concern over being a larger size. But I also don't want to model for them that it's fine to just go completely off the nutritional rails when life gets tough. And honestly, I don't want this to be a big deal. I want to note that it's a bloated, acne-filled issue, and then to do something about it. I'm just not sure how to make that work with our new normal. I will figure it out, but it's going to be rough sailing until I do.  And that's okay.  Because tomorrow I get to sleep in, and I might wake up well-rested and with solutions to spare.

Or I might just wake up well-rested, and that will be good enough in and of itself. I'd prefer if there were a choreographed dance number to accompany my Saturday joy, but I'll settle for a cup of coffee and a smiling baby. A good weekend is on the horizon. Enjoy it, internet friends.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aiming So Low I'm In Life's Basement

morning in the big bed

Getting back into the swing of things this week has been tough. I think it has a lot to do with the surprise of this hospital stay; even though the last one was longer, we had overnight to prepare ourselves. This time we were at the pediatrician's office, and she said, "You need to go back to the hospital," then sent us home to pack bags while she made the necessary arrangements for Elvie to check in. There's also the baby puke factor. If you're not sleeping because you're cleaning up baby puke, and then you keep having to abandon what you're doing several times during the day to clean up baby puke, the only thing that will get done is cleaning up baby puke. Whatever other messes are made will still be there when you get home post hospital stay. And there were (ahem, are) a lot of messes.

I did manage to wipe up the giant heap of coffee grounds I spilled when I dropped the container straight out of the grinder to rush over to my puking baby. I also cleared off the kitchen table so we could stop having dinner picnics due to lack of space to set our plates on a raised surface. But beyond that, I'm afraid I'm still woefully behind, and tired to boot.

Elvie continues to wake every hour or two in the night to eat. With that sleep schedule, it's a miracle I can speak in full sentences during the day, let alone get anything done. I congratulate myself if I manage to change from pajamas into yoga pants, and if I get extra chores done, I imagine that I have won a trophy. Today I walked with both girls to Walgreen's to get Zinashi's hair care products (let's not discuss how long we went between hair washes this time), and I feel like I should be up on a podium, giving a speech. I'd like to thank coffee and my friend Nicole, who made me this bitchin' ring sling, for making this possible. Instead, I'll just feel justified in pushing both children onto Jarod's lap as soon as he walks in the door so I can get manic with the housecleaning. The dishwasher is running and diapers are clean, people. I do what I have to do.

I am told that this will get easier as time goes by, that sometimes I will put on proper trousers or a skirt instead of yoga pants, and it won't be noon before we stop hanging out in the big bed. For now, though, I'm just going to write my pretend speech for the day I take both children grocery shopping and we all come back alive.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Outside Outside Lands

outside outsidelands
This photo cracks me up. This is clearly not the part where we were dancing.

As much as I would have loved to take the whole family to Outside Lands,  A) it's expensive, and  B) Elvie was in the hospital during most of it anyway. So we did the next best thing and sat just outside the fence for a picnic while Stevie Wonder was playing. Someday we'll see Mr. Wonder, but hearing him last night, with all family members present and accounted for, was a pretty great way to end the weekend.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Being Home

hospital reflections

Elvie was discharged from the hospital at around 2:30pm this afternoon, or perhaps I should say yesterday afternoon. I am up too late, having just folded the last of the laundry, desperate to catch up with normal life. We left the house for the pediatrician's office Tuesday afternoon with everything out and untidy, having spent the night before and most of the day just trying to keep up with the baby puke. No magic fairies slipped through our keyholes between then and our arrival at home today, magically knowing just where to put things away, then giving the house a thorough cleaning once it was tidied. I walked into the mess we'd left Tuesday, plus additional messes, some made by me as I dashed in and out in the evenings.

And now I just want to be home, to be able to sit on the sofa and find what I need and not have the compost bin stinking to high heaven because one of the things I didn't get to on Tuesday was taking out the compost. So here I am, awake, barely, having put as much of the house in order as I possibly could between 3pm and 2am. I've reached the end of what I can keep myself awake to do, and so I'm about ot turn in. In the morning, there will be a big press of coffee just for me, and errands, and all this folded laundry to put away.

But we are all home, and even if it's a total wreck, it feels good to have all of us in it. I will go to sleep tonight with my little family all tucked in close by.

I am beyond grateful.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Give It Forward Update, Plus Choose Our Payment Recipient for August!

I am pleased to announce that we no longer need to raise funds for our adoption through Give It Forward. Yesterday we received word that we have received a generous grant, which has covered the remainder of our fees. All in all, we were given $3344.50 to help get Elvie home and then help charities in turn. We are so grateful to everyone who has participated by giving and by voting for charities each month. With the fees all paid, we now look forward to the joy of simply helping a different organization each month.

Because last month was so crazy, we did not make our payment, so this month we are making a double payment of $400 on the principle and $40 in interest. In addition, I am (once again) a day late providing the choices for you to vote on, so we will also add a $10 late fee, and voting will extend to midnight on the 16th instead of the 15th. We are excited to give a larger sum this month and get back to helping others with these funds.

So without further ado, I bring you the choices for this month. We were sent suggestions for more than three charities (thank you, suggesters!), so we do not have room to list all of them as choices this month. I've listed the first three suggestions, and those who are not listed this month will be part of the list next month. We welcome more suggestions if you have a favorite charity that you'd like to see get some Give It Forward funds, so please keep the names of good organizations coming! We have a total of $2144.50 left to pay, plus interest, so there will plenty more payments.

First up is Graham's Foundation. They provide support for families who have a preemie in the NICU, offering everything from care packages to online resources. We know the value of having support with a baby in the hospital, and though this service wouldn't apply to a child like Elvie, they are helping so many families whose days in the hospital will be longer than ours.

El Amor de Patricia is a permanent family-style home that provides care for children in Guatemala. The children are cared for, educated, and given the skills they need to succeed as adults in Guatemala. For many children who lack families worldwide, adoption is not an option, and this fills the gap for some of them.

Shriners Hospitals provide medical care to children whose families could otherwise not afford it. Shriners Hospitals are highly regarded and have given many children with medical needs the surgeries they need to thrive, at no cost to families who cannot afford to pay. If we did not have excellent insurance, we most certainly would need the help of Shriners for Elvie's complex medical needs.

All three organizations do excellent work; as usual, I'm glad it's you making this decision.

Plumpness Incorporated

getting roly poly

We are making strides. Chubby cheeks, double chin, and the promise of ample thighs in the near future. Good news is right here, and we don't have to look too hard for it. Fattening up this baby is such a delight; at home or in the hospital, we are going for gold.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sad Face, Sad Face, Sad Face, BOO

Elvie has a UTI again, and we are back in the hospital. It is 1:20am, and we are waiting on the IV antibiotics so we can get this show on the road. Minimum stay is 24 hours. Maximum stay is I-don't-want-to-think-about-it. But it shouldn't take long, at least not as long as last time.

lamby will help us

Jarod is holding down the fort at home, and I am here with Elvie. I am tired, but of course Elvie has the worst of it. She just can't say yet what she is feeling. I wrote a bit more about the situation on Babble, so go there if you want to know more, and beyond that I'll post updates to Facebook as I have them. I'll also update here as we receive more substantial updates. Hopefully those updates will be few, and we'll be back home without delay.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm Beginning To See The Light

First, I feel it's important that I mention the new thing I learned about Snoop Dogg while reading People during Elvie's diagnositc surgery today. He's doing a little reggae and has a new persona called Snoop Lion. My delight at this little music news nugget will make a lot of sense to some of you and no sense to others. But I would like to send a message to Snoop, which is simply: Well played, sir.

Second, as mentioned above, Elvie went in for diagnostic surgery today.  We knew she would, and it went well, or as well as we hoped it would. This is a precursor to her big surgery some months down the road. She has some abnormalities in her urinary tract due to her birth defect, but they couldn't see as much detail as they hoped from MRIs and CT scans. She's on two antibiotics as a preventative measure, and this also assures us that this is the right course of action.

Third, hahahahahaha:

something's got my feet!
Something's got my feet!  Something's got my feeeeeet!!!

Fourth, or maybe fourth, fifth, sixth, etc., I am feeling like I can get things done again. The house is as much of a disaster as ever, but I am on my way to accomplishing some long term projects, and that feels good. I can see ahead of me a time when my desk will be organized and I'll remember things when I am supposed to remember them. This mostly has to do with figuring out a way to put my desk against a wall again. Funny as it may sound, my desk being in the middle of the room was contributing to a lot of my problems. I'm having trouble organizing my thoughts, not to mention actual important paperwork, without a wall to stick post-it notes to and a bulletin board in view.

The solution to my problem involves moving a shelf, after which I can move the desk, but the shelf needed some modification to work where I wanted it to work. What we are planning to do next weekend is the home decor equivalent of putting a car on blocks in your yard, but imagine that it's a nice car, and the blocks have been stained to match the car's color. Perhaps the thing that made me feel most like I was able to get things done was making strides toward making this shelf move happen. I made it to Home Depot via public transportation, had a 4x4 cut into pieces that will support the shelf, and actually stained them the proper color, all in one weekend. After that, I feel like I can conquer the world, or at least hang up my clean clothes in my closet (which I did this evening, thank you very much).

I am also noticing how quickly time has flown in 2012, and noting that it will be the end of the year before we know it. I have mentioned before that I felt from the beginning of the year that 2012 would be a year of hard work. That has proved to be true in myriad ways, and to see the time flying by so quickly gives me hope that our year of hard work will be done before we know it.  And with that year end, we hope so many things. For Elvie, in particular, but for our little family as a whole. If 2013 brings more hard work, we will meet it with renewed effort, for this year's work so far has certainly seen us reap the greatest of rewards. I don't think anything could compare to seeing our baby go from a state of malnourishment to a state of health. We're not even done yet, and already it is so gratifying.

And so, onward, towards the light. We are going to be just fine.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Crib or Cat Bed? You Be the Judge

lucy thinks this is her crib

Maybe it's both, but Lucy Snowe would rather not share.

Happy Weekend, internet friends.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

That Special Kind of Sibling Love

sibling love

There will come a day that Elvie won't put up with this nonsense without retaliating, but for now Zinashi is having a really good time. Babies are really fun to pose, especially when they suddenly have more cheek material to work with.  Also, after waking me up seven times in the night for snacks, I kind of figured Elvie had it coming.  I'll use this as a threat tonight when I encourage her to eat larger quantities and sleep for longer stretches of time.  Let me sleep or you get the fish lips, kid.

I've got more to say, but the mountains of laundry are taking over my life, and the sleep deprivation is not helping either.  Eventually, I will tell you a story, a very long story, in thirteen squajillion parts.  You can look forward to that.  For now, I hope you're enjoying the little snippets.  There will be another tomorrow, involving a naughty cat and a very cute baby.  Stay tuned.

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