Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First Surgery

Tomorrow is Ally's first surgery. We've been thru two separate MRI's, one lasting 4 hrs and the other 5 hrs. The short of it is that she needs to have further skull surgery to expand the base of the skull a bit as her brain is a little crowded. First thing though is that she will have her shunt looked at and if it's not working quite right they will fix that and call it a day. If it's working fine, then the skull work will be done. So that's the scoop for now. Will try and keep this updated over the next few days.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Loose Change

Sorry for the lack of posts. Wicked busy!! I'll do a catch up post later, but thought I should post last nights story first.

So we are at Zack's game last night from about 5:35-8:00. I went early with all the kids and Jo came a little later. I had a nice little spot picked out right behind the backstop and all was good. Our team proceeded to play and look a bit like the bad news bears, and Zack just had an off night. Not to mention the other team seemed stacked with talent. The teams are drafted so it is possible to get some good teams and some bad. Our team does not seem to be very good. So I'm a little frustrated at all this but really, not my problem as it's not one of the two teams I coach. All the above is just to kinda set the tone. Oh yeah, I forgot, the ump who did an ok job started off shaky calling some strikes that I would need a ladder to get to. Seriously!!! So I'm not yelling at him or anything, I'm a mostly controlled sideline dad, other than giving the boys "the look" when they screw something up because they weren't paying attention. So once again, setting the tone with all the above. Ok, on with the real story. All thru the game BJ is begging to get something at the snack bar even to the point of telling me he brought his own money and we keep waving him away like he's a mosquito. He would hover like one though at times. Other times he was good and playing catch or something. So about the 5th inning he comes over and Beej, Seany and Ally are sitting around Jo on the ground and Beej is laying in her lap. Of course according to Ally that is her spot and she's not taking it well. So I think at some point Ally is getting a little pushy with Beej, but no biggy. A couple minutes later though, Beej goes into what we thought was a bit of a dramatic "I want to go home" little fit. This is a bit out of nowhere, and we are like "Knock it off, you are fine" He's saying now that he's got a tummy ache. Of course this is all some sort of drama and we are not buying it. I'm actually getting mad at him because he's being quite the whiny pansy. Full out fetal position laying in Jo's lap whimpering. Sounds a bit fake though and all out calling him out and giving him as much of an ear full as possible without making a scene. Well, he makes it through the game and Zack and I get ice cream while Jo takes everyone home. I get home later and Beej is in bed and seems fine. I guess he hit the bathroom and felt better. Still though, not normal for him. so Jo and I start watching TV and about an hour later, BJ comes down stairs which is totally not normal for him to have been asleep and then wake up and come down. So something is not right and of course now I'm feeling guilty cause I was all over him earlier. So he's doing the whimper cry again and it strikes me that maybe our oral fixation boy may have eaten something he found or put something in his mouth he shouldn't have at the game. I wouldn't put dumpster diving past him at the snack bar. So on a whim, I ask "Beej, did you put something in your mouth or eat something at the game you shouldn't have?" As i'm saying this I'm thinking, no he just has the stomach virus I had last week........but maybe, just maybe.......No response........"Beeej?, Did you?" (Beej-whimper voice) - "Yeeees" "What did you eat kiddo" i'm feeling sympathetic now and guilty for giving him so much crap. Here it comes..........(Beej-more whimper voice) "A quarter". Speechless. Awkward silence. Well, needless to say, we were much nicer to him after that. Turns out he really didn't have much of a stomach ache, he was just scared. Seriously scared. So we talked him down from the mental ledge he was on and assured him he wouldn't die. Turns out when Ally was displeased with him at the ball game she game him an unexpected push and he had a quarter in his mouth and accidentally swallowed it. He should be fine and we called the doc. He does have a new nickname though - Loose Change

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Phenomenal", "She made me nervous" and "Dear American Friends"

Hidee Ho Readers,

An interesting week. Ally continues to adjust and we continue to be amazed. The title of the blog today are about three different things that happened this week. Two were just moments that you catalog and hold onto. they may just be small things or more profound but regardless they just catch you by surprise. So first is "Phenomenal". Jo and I and Ally were talking with Dave, Mary, Alex, and Jack on Skype. For those that don't know, Skype is an internet program that allows you to verbally chat as well as video chat from computer to computer. While in China we used it twice a day to be able to see and talk to everyone here in the U.S. Sorry, got sidetracked. Anyway, we were Skyping with them to give a huge thanks to Alex for the wonderful gift that Alex gave to Ally, and at some point in the conversation one of said "Phenomenal". I don't know what we were referring to, but Ally piped right up and repeated it quite clearly. It wasn't perfect, but it was really clear. It was just one of those unexpected surprise moments where everyone looks at each other with that "Did she just say that?" look on their face. Like I say, we just cataloged that one away as funny and unexpected.

The next one is one I remembered from the ski trip this past Sunday. I was riding up the lift with Zack and thought I'd ask him what he thought so far about Ally. i encouraged him to say any negatives he felt along with the positives. He very quickly said there really weren't any negatives, except.....Uh oh I thought. But to my surprise he says, and I'm paraphrasing, the only down side was that the other night he couldn't find her in the house right away and looked all over for her. "I was really worried for a minute, she made me nervous" :) :) :) I had goggles on so he didn't notice my eyes get watery.....I said "Welcome to parenthood" and then explained to him that that feeling times 100 is what it's like to have kids and why we get so worried and nervous and mad sometimes. I think the light started to come in in his head. It was a great moment and one that illustrates just how much she means to him already. They all have moments like that, but as you know Zack is approaching the teens and I expect those moments will be soon kept inside. I hope not, but I remember how uncool it was to show feelings like that when I was a teen.

Lastly but certainly not least, was a letter we had translated today. I think I mentioned at one point that China does not allow contact with the foster family. I don't know all the reasons why but they are pretty strict about it. So that has led some foster families to get creative about things. Such was the case with Ally's foster family. By the way, she had a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and 10 year old brother in her foster family. She lost a lot, and so did they. Well, on gotcha day when we undressed her many, many layers Jo noticed a sewn in pocket area in one set of pants. Sure enough, the family had sewn in a secret note to us. It was in Chinese so we were unable to read it and we were very reluctant to share it with our guides not knowing how they would react. So until we could get it home and scanned, we just held onto it. Well, the other night we scanned it and sent it to our China Coordinator at our agency. she is unbelievable by the way. There is no one, NO ONE, better at this job than her. If you are looking into adoption from China, look no further than Bay Area Adoption Services. Sorry, sidetracked again. So our coordinator translated it for us and sent it back today. To quote her "Their letter made me cry. it is so obvious Xi Xi received so much love from them." The letter said this -

Dear American Friends who adopted Xi Xi:

How are you?

We are the grandfather and grandmother who fostered Xi Xi. We have established deep love and attachment to Xi Xi because we started taking care of her since she was only six months old and we have lived together for almost three years. Now the child is leaving us and we are feeling a great loss. However, we are so grateful that you are able to adopt her and raise her until she is an adult. We thank you so very much.

Your living habits and culture must be very different from ours. Please help the child to adapt to the new environment gradually. After the child joins your family, we would very much like to receive letters or telephone calls. We would very much want to see her pictures. You can use the internet to keep in touch with us so we can see the child often.

The rest was just the contact info. We already firmly believed that the primary reason that Ally has adjusted and bonded so well was due to the work that the foster family had done prior to us coming not to mention the care she was getting. This letter was total confirmation of that and an amazing profession of love. We will certainly keep in contact with them.
So that's it for now,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

First time out this year at Smuggs!

We finally got off our candies today and went to Smugglers Notch. Our season passes have been pinned to the cork board since they came in the mail. Not that we didn't have other things to do, but it still feels like we have missed half the season. So we got everything together and headed out to the mountain. It only takes about 40 minutes to get there and doesn't even seem that long. First stop was to get our passes printed out and also to get one for Ally. Second stop was at the ski shop to get her a helmet, mittens, goggles, a face mask and some ski wax. That done we needed to get her some rentals. That was easy and cheap at about $12.50. I think that's what we are going to do for the rest of the year too. Finally though we were ready for the slopes. We headed for the learning center which is essentially what we all knew as the 'Bunny Hill' Of course technology has caught up to us a this location as there is no tow rope but rather a conveyor belt built into the hill. It's called a magic carpet and it is sooooo easy. We got Ally all set up in her gear and the boys did a great job also in getting ready. We got her up the hill and I ran her down the hill between my skis. She loved it! Laughed when we got to the bottom. Another run and it was time to hit some lunch. At that point I also knew she was ready for the harness system we have. It's really nice as it attaches around her waist and you just tug on one side or the other. It allows the child to get used to balancing over skis and also how it feels to balance thru a turn. Once we got her hooked up I took her down the learning hill twice. Meanwhile Jo and the boys were running halfway up the magic mouse lift and getting some runs in. I felt it was time to take the next step because you can only do so much on the learning hill. We took Ally up the chairlift and to the halfway point. She was super excited to ride the lift and never once showed fear. I took her down a little bit but she started to get clingy and needed to hold my hand, so I gave the reins to Jo and tried to lead Ally down by skiing ahead of her. That worked pretty well and allowed me to get a picture too. Well, that was our her last run for the day, but I figure 4 small runs and 1 bigger one is a great start. So after that Jo and Ally went into the warming hut and the other boys and I decided to get one last run in to the top of Morse. Zack and i had already hit it twice and now Seany and BJ came with us. It's our favorite path on Morse which is Midway to Curlys Cutback and then to Meadowlark. It was a beautiful day to ski and we were thankful to get out and also that Ally liked it. I only got a few pics today but hope you will enjoy them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Zack's B-day

Zack turned 10 this past weekend. Only a day after we got home from China. We did our best to keep our energy up, and thankfully we had bought two of his presents prior to going. The last gift we were still giving thought to and that was a BB/pellet gun. We or maybe I truly didn't decide whether or not he'd get it until at the dinner table that night. We went to Koto's Japanese steak house which was his choice number two. It was the six of us plus Grandma, Grandpa, and uncle Brian. We did his presents there and then told him that we would go get him his bb/pellet gun the next day or Monday. He was pretty stinkin' excited. So we went and got it yesterday and will get it set up tonight with the scope and maybe shoot a few too. Crazy to think he is 10. Don't know where the time went. Let me see if I have a recent pic of him.
This pic is from this past fall, at an apple orchard south of Burlington. Gotta run, catch you later.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home, home, home!!!

We are home! We had a pretty uneventful trip home but as you would expect we are pretty jet lagged. Ally is in a worse position since she has lived her life 12 hours different from ours and now has to get used to being awake when she used to sleep and sleep when she used to be awake. She is fighting sleeping in anyway possible and is pretty ticked at me right now because i tried to get her to settle down on my lap and sleep. That was not in her plan!!!! So from my last post we didn't do much other than a swearing in ceremony at the consulate and also get Ally's visa, fly to Beijing, then get on a plane to JFK and finally to Burlington. Ok, so maybe that was a lot. Well for the swearing in ceremony, it sounds like you are swearing in your child to the US. That is not the case, you are basically just swearing that all the info you have submitted to the consulate and immigration is true and accurate. Don't get me wrong, it's a significant step but not what you might think. The next morning we decided to do the "red couch" photo. i wish I new the origin of this photo but I don't. What I can tell you is that the red couch is in the
White Swan hotel on ShaMian island. The hotel is a more traditional place for adoptive families but the Victory which is where we were, is getting more popular. Our hotel is just a block and a half to the Swan so it's an easy walk. So families traditionally get there photos taken on the red couch. So who are we to break tradition? Later that day we had to check out and get to the airport to fly to Beijing. we could have done it the next morning but I guess that would have put our connection too tight, so we flew late that night and stayed at an airport near by. The next morning we jumped on the big 747 Air china flight to come home. 13 pretty uneventful hrs later we landed in New York only 30 minutes after we took off. You lose a day going the other way, but
you gain it back coming home which is nice. We also fly ridiculously close to the north pole. I find that very bizarre. Ally slept about 5 hours on the plane and myself about an hour. Not sure what Jo got but I guess about 2 maybe 2 1/2. Ally did well even with our lack of entertainment for her. It's hard to remember how to keep a 3 year old entertained for that long. It was fine, even though we ran out of snacks about half way home. Of course as Ally does, she fell asleep during our decent. She did it on every single flight. We thought though since she had slept a decent amount on the international flight that the JFK-Burlington hour hop that she'd be fine and be awake and happy to meet her brothers. Nope, she fell asleep 10 minutes from landing. She was exhausted. She wakes up extremely well though and this was no exception. She woke up like she had slept for hours. We told her it was time to meet her Gugu's and she perked right up. Gugu is Chinese for older brother. We were very nervous how this was going to go, she however was all smiles in anticipation. I have to credit her foster family for this. Back in September we sent Ally a photo album of all of us and that coupled with us video chatting everyday with the boys while in China really let her form an attachment to them even before she met them. Well we turned the corner walking from the concourse and there were Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Brian, and her three Gugu's Zack, BJ, and Seany. Priceless to us was the smile that was one Ally's face! She was clearly nervous but you could just see she was happy inside, not just outside. My eyes are a bit watery just remembering. Time out, Jo just got home and we need to get the groceries out of the car..........................Time in. So where was I, oh, Ally meeting the boys. Well all the boys had a stuffy to give her and they were all super excited to see her. She just kept on smiling. She clearly had begun to form an attachment by the photos and video chatting. It was a great moment and one I can't do justice with my writing. I may very well be wrong, but after watching how Ally did with her brothers, grandma, grandpa, and uncle Brian and then how she acting once at the house, I think she new that meeting her brothers meant she was home. There was no leary tentative moments or anything. Not even when she got to the house. She walked around like she had always been there. I truly expected it to be like when you bring your cats to a new house and they tentatively walk into each room slowly checking it out. Not so with Ally. The true test she new she was home. Withing the hour she was going to fridge to check out what there was to eat. I kid you not! one of the unexpecteds you don't see coming is her complete infatuation with Zack. She sits by him, holds his hand, and just wants to know where he is at all times. We think that may have something to do with her foster brother who was also about 10yrs old. Speaking of which, Zack turned 10 yesterday. Pretty awesome, but a bit overshadowed by all this. So we are going to go and get him a BB/pellet gun tonight or tomorrow.
Well, all the above is pretty much the rose part of things. That really aren't may thorns, but she is having a tough time with her new schedule and time zone and threw a full out hissy screaming fit when I tried to get her to chill with me and take a nap. The upside to that is she and Jo went up and Jo got her calmed down and asleep. While there is still a bit of favoritism toward me when tired, she is very much okay with Jo now. So all in all we are very fortunate. Many adoptive parents have an unbearable time and we have had it relatively easy up to now. Hopefully it continues.
Lastly, I would like to thank you all for the support you have shown us thru comments and actions. We also want to thank my parents and my brother for watching our boys during this time. one last big thank you goes out to the sewing group my mother is part of. I call them Dorothy's Debutantes, and they went into action to make many blankets and hats for the orphanage. Of course we had to pay a large fee to the orphanage called a donation, but it was a far more important to us to be able to give them something functional that would make a difference. So thank you again Deb's.

Catch you later, and we will try to keep you updated.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good Food, Good Company

So the four BAAS(our agency) families that are here in Guangzhou went out to dinner last night.  Well, I'm gonna back up a minute.  We went to a park in the afternoon yesterday which was a nice stroll in the fresh air.  We then went to a tea house and sampled and learned about different Chinese teas.  Upon our return, April who is one of the other BAAS moms, asked all of us if we'd like to go out on a little adventure for dinner.  Sure we said.  So we all went to our hotel rooms to get a few various things and then walked over the river on a pedestrian bridge.  Once you cross the river you are officially in "local' country.  You see, the island is really catered toward westerners or I should say used to them, so when you leave the island, you leave that little comfort zone.  So on the adventure we went.  April and her husband Dave went to this little eatery previously and told us about it on the way.  It sounded fun.  It's an open to the air type of eatery which you will see in the pictures and there are only about 6 tables.  There is no one that speaks English and no menus.  So when we got there, just like when April and Dave went previously, they just have one or two of you go back in the kitchen and point to things you want.  We decided to do a community bill and just get bunches of stuff.  It turned out pretty well.  We had great dumplings and a good noodle plate and then a good soup which I was unfortunate enough to mistake a big chunk of ginger for potato........Oh mama!!!!  We also brought our own drinks because we didn't think they had any.  Turns out they had a small cooler we could have gotten something from but to be honest bringing your own was a good call.  So this place appears to be owned by an elderly Chinese woman who is sweet as can be and who is also in love with April and Dave's son Joel.  She couldn't get enough of him and when we were leaving kept trying to steal him back inside.  All in good humor of course.  It was a great experience with excellent food and even better company.  Adoption brought us all together but it is surprising how well we all get along.  These three other couples are great and we couldn't be happier to have met them.  I wish I could communicate the experience and the kindness of the Chinese woman better but my brain is failing me right now.  At the end of the meal we did a group picture with the woman and it was great.  I don't have a copy of that yet but will get one from the other couples.  You can identify the woman as the one in the purple top and green apron.  I hope those of you yet to come here can go to this place.  The bonus to all this, and certainly the least important but worth mentioning is that all 14 of us ate for about 115 yuan which is about $17.  Thats not each family, thats a total.  Patrick and Peggy sprang for the meal which was another unexpected and gracious gift.  So when we left and the woman stopped hugging Joel she had tears in her eyes.  It was a great scene.  i'll try and post a few zoo pics from today, but really it was just a normal zoo but nice to be out in the fresh air.
Enjoy a few pics,