Friday, June 27, 2008

Small Bump in the Road

My surgery is scheduled for Monday morning and other than packing my bag, cleaning my entire house, and wrapping up the content of an entire magazine, I'm ready to go. Heh.

I went into the hospital yesterday for my pre-op, expecting a quick blood draw, a few intrusive questions, and a 'see ya on Monday'. Not so much. My nurse and I were having a jolly ol' time, chit chatting about this and that, when she moved the stethescope to the carotid artery in my neck. She listened for a bit and asked if I had a heart murmur. Ummm.... no. So she listened some more, had another nurse come listen, and asked if I had a family history of stroke or aneurism at young ages. Ummm... no. So, now that I was thoroughly freaked out, I was informed that it was possible I had plaque building up in my arteries and that I had to have a doppler ultrasound test done before I could be cleared for surgery. And, of course, they couldn't do the test until the next morning. I'd like to point out that my blood pressure before this piece of news was 106 over 68. This morning when they checked me again, I was 132 over 110. Stress much?

Luckily, the doppler showed nothing unusual and my surgery is going to go off as scheduled. I'll be following up with my primary care to find out why my arteries are whooshing, which I'm assuming will involve a cardiologist and most tests but I'll deal with that later. On a good note, the 18 hours or so where I was in fear of stroking out on the operating table definitely tempered my fear of the actual surgical procedure, leaving me much more relaxed about my upcoming hysterectomy. Always a bright side, isn't there? :)

Another bright side that I'd like to mention - my outstanding nurses. The nurse who I loved on Thursday wasn't going to be on shift today. She knew I'd be back in and specifically asked the other nurse who had confirmed her whooshing noise diagnoses to be the one working with me today. Two friendly faces, literally holding my hand at one point and telling me it would all be okay. I hope my nurses are half as fabulous on Monday!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Water Baby

If you take a baby to the pool...

And teach her how to lounge on a pool chair...

This is what happens after 2 1/2 hours of sunshine and fun.

We didn't even make it out of the parking lot before she fell asleep :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Without Further Ado...

My new floors.


A note to Rachel, who is about to undertake this task: Installation of wood laminate is not as easy as they make it appear on HGTV. However, as with all things, the preparation took the longest. The installers spent the entire morning removing the old carpet, pad, and staples. Then they had to saw off the bottom 1/2 inch of all the door frames to fit the laminate under the woodwork frame. Then they had to lay out the laminate so that all the seams were not falling at the same place on the floor. And THEN they snapped the pieces together (which is the only part you ever see on television).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Unwanted Guest

It all started last Spring with a plague of locusts. Well, it wasn't exactly locusts... it was termites. But it was a swarm of insects and let's face it, locusts sound more impressive.

Anyway... last Spring we noticed that we had an uninvited guest. It was that famous dude that all homeowners hate - Murphy. I didn't see all the suitcases, but he must have moved in for an extended visit because it's been a tough 15 months around here. We've had the termite incident. Then there was the day the contractor came to install the egress window in the basement and the wet saw leaked through the bedroom and into the toy room. Then, three weeks before I was leaving for Vietnam, we had a leak in the basement - later attributed to a leaking water main pipe and fixed at our expense because the city only pays for repairs on city property. Niiiice.

That's three things, right? So Murphy should have packed up and moved on to some other home owner. But obviously he's very comfortable here, as evidenced by the horrible metal-on-metal sound coming from my brakes a few months ago that caused me to go into an instant panic and drive straight to my nearest car repair shop. But it had been fairly quiet since then and I was feeling safe. So safe, in fact, that we used some of our precious spare cash to jazz up the homestead.

First up was our living room floor. We had a creamy-colored Berber carpet that had been here since we moved in six years ago and it looked awful. I was embarassed to let people in my house - that's how bad it was. We replaced the carpet in the living room and down the hallway with a cherry wood laminate last Monday, and it looks great! I need a rug for sound absorbtion... but it looks so much better and I've already had a guest come over to celebrate :)

Next was our trees. Our house was built 18 years ago and we have some beautiful mature trees on our lot, but they were starting to get overgrown. I could tell because we could no longer walk off the back deck in an upright fashion. At the end of May, we had a tree trimmer come out to give us an estimate on trimming the trees and then, since he was here, I had him quote the removal of a couple of smaller trees with issues. One was a tree we not-so-affectionately called the Leaning Tree of Pisa. The kids who lived here before us hung on the branches until the tree leaned like a drunken relative at a wedding dance. We tried for ages to get the tree to stand upright but years of alcohol abuse won out. Number two on the list was a small crab apple tree in the front yard that I have hated for 360 days of every year I've lived here. For four days in April, it blooms in the most beautiful pink blossoms and the rest of the year, it just sits there and mocks me with its ugliness. Thankfully, the quote for the tree trimming and tree removal was very reasonable so we scheduled an appointment and I was excited!

ONE WEEK LATER, a storm hit and the wind blew down a gorgeous tree in my front yard that, ironically, wasn't going to be touched by the tree trimmer. Murphy strikes again.

So, we've paid for the floors and we paid for the trees and oh yes, N got glasses last week and we paid for those too. And I was feeling very self-satisfied, because at one point in our lives we would have charged many of those expenses and been paying them off until we were nearing retirement age. But look at us! Financially responsible and able to handle minor household emergencies! I was feeling so self-satisfied that I went out on Saturday morning and bought some cute miniature Spruce trees and spent the afternoon re-landscaping the side of the house since the termite incident had wiped out several perfectly nice bushes.

But Murphy wasn't done with us yet because last night, the microwave died. You can help out by posting your mailing address in the comments section. I have a houseguest I need to get rid of and... ummm... I mean... I've got a present to send you. Priority mail.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Short Version

Short Version of what's been going on in my life recently:
  • new flooring in living room and hallway (thank you, flooring installers)
  • two trees removed and all other trees trimmed (thank you, tree trimmers)
  • landscaping project to eliminate 'naked' feel after removal of trees (thank you, me)
  • trying to get a ton of projects done for work before my surgery
  • N's softball games
  • helping out in the husband's office since office manager is out for surgery
  • watching Olympic trials and the College World Series

The long version is going to have to wait until after I finish an article for work!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Warts and All

Tonight is a big night for us. It's P's final post-placement visit! Since the husband didn't travel to Vietnam to see P before she entered the U.S., three post-placement visits are required for her to be completely 'adopted'. Once this visit is over, we can apply for her state birth certificate, her social security number, and her certificate of citizenship. We're finally at the stage where we can wrap up her paperwork and legally change her name to match the rest of the family.

Between tonight's exciting visit and last weekend's Vietnam Heritage Weekend, I am feeling a little sentimental. Obviously, I'm not the only one because one of my travel mates wrote me this morning, saying:

I guess we got to know each other pretty well during our foreign travels. We were together too long to put up much of a front. I think we know each other – “warts and all!”

Ironically, that's exactly what I was thinking about our travel group as I drove to work today. Our adoption agency has an internet forum where adoptive parents can get together and support each other through the process. I'm fairly active in the forum (surprise, surprise) but none of my travel mates were very involved so I didn't have previous relationships established with any of them when we found out our G&R date. I met Bill & Kim in the Seoul airport and we connected with the Al & Chris and Steve & Christi the day after we flew into Ho Chi Minh City. And yet, these complete strangers probably know me better than anyone, other than my husband, my family, and my best friend.

There's something about being in a foreign country with nothing familiar around you and a brand new child to take care of that forces you to drop all of those fronts you would normally have with complete strangers. After a few days, we'd stopped wearing make-up, were parading around in the comfy clothes we brought 'only to wear in our hotel rooms', and weren't afraid to let our frustrations show when we accidentally drank pop with ice or were up all night with a teething kiddo or realized there was a U.S. holiday smack-dab in the way of our Visa appointments (or still didn't have our last piece of luggage - poor Steve & Christi!). What would have taken weeks or months or even years to find out about the average new friend, we learned in a matter of days. Confidences were shared, tears were nothing to be ashamed of, and those little spats we have with the people we love in times of stress were public knowledge.

Those 15 days in Vietnam did more than add P to our family. We all became a family - a family who loves each other 'warts and all'.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Re United

Re United was the theme of the Dillon Vietnam Heritage Weekend this year. Seven months ago, we were in Vietnam waiting anxiously for Visa approval so we could bring our beautiful children home. This weekend, we watched them run circles around the church and their parents. It was amazing!
I'm sorry to report that I took very few photos. I completely underestimated the energy expended in a room full of children. In fact, several of the photos I did take had to be deleted from the camera because all I caught were blurs running past me. On Saturday afternoon, when I finally felt like things were under control and I could take some pictures, P, DoriGrace, Hank, and Lucy were all asleep. Beckett never slept, as far as I could tell. Heh - poor Jess. Luckily, Dillon had a photographer there and I can't wait to see the pictures he took.
The only flaw in the entire weekend? The kids were there. Yes, I know that technically the kids were the whole point of the weekend... but honestly! How were the mamas supposed to drink margaritas and chit chat to our hearts' content with the kids to chase? I had short conversations with Nadra and Dawn and Jessica and Leigh and Tricia and Elisabeth and Amy and Kerrie and Jynger (!), but I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with any of them. I saw Dylan's mom, Kim, (Kim - we didn't even talk!) and passed Karlyn and Stormy in the hall and smiled at Natasha and Susie a couple of times. I recognized children left and right from their blog photos and never managed to connect with their parents! Heck, Steve and Christi flew in from Alaska and I feel like I barely had any time with them! Thank goodness we went out to supper with Al & Chris & Hank & the girls or I would have been very frustrated :)
Dillon also had a social worker there, adopted internationally herself, to speak to us about the challenges we'll face raising our children - the questions they'll have, the racial prejudices they'll face, and the ways we can help them become well-adjusted, capable young adults. Education and fellowship and an amazing Vietnamese lunch - can't get much better than that! Next year, I look forward to seeing everyone again AND adding some new faces like Meredith and her Noelle and Nadra's Drew. Oh... and let's find time for those margaritas!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tulsa, Here We Come!

***Edited to add*** This just in - Steve, Christi, and Jake are coming from Alaska!!! Our entire travel group will be together again this weekend, almost exactly 7 months from our last day together in Hanoi. Oh my gosh - I'm giddy!!! :)

This weekend, we're heading to Tulsa for Dillon International's Vietnam Heritage Weekend. I LOVE that we adopted through an agency for whom continuing support after a family is home is just as important as supporting a family while in process. Over the two day event, we'll have Vietnamese food, try our hand at heritage crafts and activities, and will hear from a speaker on issues in race and adoption. Even better than all of that will be the time we'll be able to spend with other adoptive families that I've gotten to know while we were in process. Our travel buddies - Hank's family - will be there. I'm hoping Austin's family will be there too! And I wish Alaska was closer so Jake's family could drop in. And of course, we'll get to hang with Beckett. And DoriGrace! And Drew's family. In fact, one of the things on my To Do list is giving Drew's mama a great big hug and telling her that I hope Drew will be coming home soon.

In addition to the families who are recently home or still waiting to bring their munchkins home, I'll also get to meet families whose processes I followed obsessively while we were waiting for our referral. Zak and Dylan and Noah and Sophie Le and so many others who I feel like I already know. And, the biggest bestest thing I'm looking forward to? Meeting Jynger, the Vietnam Program Director. Jynger held my hand through 20 months of our adoption process. She never once chastised me for calling and emailing 17 x per day or asking the same questions over and over, hoping for a different response (when will we get a referral? now? now? now? how about travel?now? now?). She was the best cheerleader and most sympathetic hand-holder a stressed out mama-to-be could ask for. And I finally get to meet her and thank her in person for helping us to find our P.

This is an annual event and we intend to be at every one of these weekends as P grows. What an amazing way to show her that her birth country is important to us, and so are the circumstances that brought her into our family. Watch out Tulsa - here we come!

Friday, June 6, 2008

I'll Get You, My Pretty

Huge storms rolled through the Midwest last night. The National Weather Service was making all sorts of dire predictions about the worst tornado outbreak since the mid 1970s. We were slightly concerned so we rounded up flashlights and blankets and were ready to head to the basement at a moment's notice. In the end, the storm downgraded and we ended up with 70-80 mph winds and enough rain to mean I'm probably going to have to mow the lawn again this weekend. Luckily, our house is still intact and didn't land on any witches (good, bad, or otherwise). Unfortunately, the gorgeous tree in our front yard wasn't so lucky.



By the way, is it just me or does anyone else see the resemblance between the Wicked Witch of the East's striped socks and a certain baby's recent photo???

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Kisses

There is nothing sweeter than baby kisses. In the last couple of weeks, P has been coming up to us (or the dog.... or the furniture) and leaning in to rest her slobbery mouth against our cheek or leg or whatever happens to be in reach at the moment. Then she leans back and makes a loud 'smacking' noise. Then she grins at us, kind of like 'Hey, aren't I cute? That was adorable, right? Shouldn't you call someone or blog about it or something?'

Forget Kodak moments... my kids have Blogger moments!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Baseball, Babies, and Birthdays

I went to Omaha for the weekend. My cousin Robyn is expecting twin boys in late July/early August and I couldn't wait to see her. The shower wasn't until Sunday so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to meet my friend Melanie for some girl time. We headed down to Lincoln for the Huskers Super Regional baseball game against UC Irvine. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but it was a gorgeous night to be in Haymarket Park and I'll cheer my Cornhuskers on any time. Unfortunately, they lost on Saturday night and got CREAMED on Sunday so that's the end of baseball. Bring on football season :)



My cousin Michelle was hosting the baby shower at her house and, since she has three kids under 4, I thought she might need some reinforcements so I arrived early to help her set up. I'm pretty sure Michelle is SuperWoman in disguise. Not only did she have all of the food ready, but the house was set up and the decorations almost finished. In addition to the regular lunch menu, she'd also prepared the baby shower cake. Check this out... pretty much everyone's first reaction was 'I knew I hated you'. How can anyone be that cute, thin, and talented with three little kids in the house? It's sick and wrong, I tell ya'.



And to make the day even nicer, it was my Grandma's birthday. I'm pretty sure it was her 85th. Bad, bad granddaughter for not knowing for sure! It was also my grandparents' wedding anniversary. Grandma always said they got married on her birthday so that Grandpa only had to remember one date a year :) I asked her what Grandpa was up to yesterday and she said he was home celebrating their anniversary by himself - hee!


Family and friends always add up to a great weekend!