Just some stuff rattling around in my head…

It’s been a very busy few weeks, but not all bad. Frankly, things have been pretty decent for a while (of course, we could all use more sleep….but…). Life is humming along, with the occasional bumps that keep us on our toes. Isn’t that they way….?

1) Cadet got bitten by a pit bull a while back. Yeah, a pit bull. Cadet got too close to a fence, the dog reached through and nipped his finger. The wound was small, and it could have been MUCH worse. The dog’s owner got in McRuger’s face about being a bad parent for letting Cadet close to a fence, and finally the police were called. Got to hand it to the local FD and PD…they arrived within 5 minutes of McRuger’s 911 call. The fire fighters were wonderful in handling Cadet, and even let him ride in the cab of the fire truck. The dog is currently under quarantine, and the owners were cited. Since the owners couldn’t produce any medical records for the dog, Cadet had been on a pretty strong anti-biotic, just in case. Right now, Cadet’s still processing the event, and he talks a lot about it. We talk about how dogs are mostly friendly, but we need to be careful. Thankfully, it hasn’t dampened his love of Em or other dogs in our neighborhood (most of the local dogs LOVE Cadet).

2) We’ve hired a new babysitter, whom I’ll call Verbena. Verbena is 19 and lives just a few blocks for us. She’s had a very rough background and has seen quite a bit. However, Cadet loves her and she really tries hard to learn about Cadet and what HE needs. We had a bit of stumbling block early in her employment, as she was always on her cell phone. However, she and I talked about it, and she’s much better now. I mostly use her as a “Mother’s Helper” so I can run errands with both kids. But, I’m slowly letting her be alone with Cadet more and more…and she’s done a great job.

3) Easter at my parent’s farm was a good time. My parents let us have the house, while they stayed at Bro’s guest house. It was my mom’s 65th birthday, which we celebrated with pizza and cake. It was nice to have all the cousins around the big outdoor table. We used the time to go through a whole bunch of family heirlooms. After my parent’s house got hit by power surges, they had to re-wire the whole house. In the process, they emptied the entire attic…some of the stuff had been there since they moved in in 1979! They loaded an empty shipping container and Bro and I went through everything in just a few hours. Overall, we handled ourselves well…no fights, which was a pleasant surprised. We even put down a few rules for how we handle family heirlooms in the future.

4) After 15 years of sleeping in the same bed (only 7 of those with me), McRuger finally agreed that we needed a new bed. I’ve been hinting at it for the last several years. Due to McRuger’s history with back issues, we decided to get a newer version of our old Sleep Number bed. Despite some serious off-gassing issues, we are both sleeping better. And, of course, it helps that we moved from a queen to a king sized bed! It allows the whole family to sleep together if we need to, which is helpful!

5) Grams has had two falls at her living facility. And, she’s having some aggression issues towards the staff (stemming from her memory loss). There’s a big meeting next week to discuss how to best handle her in the future. My best guess is that they want to medicate her more, which most of the family is against…but we’ll just have to see. No one expected Grams to live this long, and so most people are at a loss as to how best to handle her case.

6) Pumpkin is doing well. He’s been growing like a weed and is now in 9-12 month clothing (at 5.5 months)! He’s smiling and coo-ing and starting to do some teething. He hasn’t really rolled over yet with purpose, but he’s getting there. I’m still in daily contact with MsV, and she seems to be doing fairly well. I know Easter was a hard holiday for her to face without Pumpkin, and Mother’s Day will be even more challenging. We’ve been sending her plenty of pictures, per her request, and keeping her updated on Pumpkin’s progress. She says she loves hearing about what we’re up to.

7) Since I now have help during the days, I have been able to get more stuff done. I finally (after what seemed like an eternity) organized a formal home schooling space. It’s tidy, organized, and perfect for quickly getting “lessons” together for Cadet. My next task is to re-organize the guest/craft room to make it more useful as a space for guests and for crafting.

8) Speaking of Cadet, it’s such a roller coaster with him these days. His language has gone through another “spurt” and he’s talking up a storm. Complete sentences, lots of questions, and tons of observations. Just this morning, he came up to me and said: “Mama, I need a big bowl of cheerios then I want to go outside”. So, yeah…he’s talking! Plus, he’s learning manners and says “please”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, and “excuse me”. That’s wonderful and so amazing to watch. But, at the same time, he’s been having terrible tantrums. Awful, horrible, long, and painful tantrums. We had one last week that lasted almost 45 minutes, and McRuger had to have Cadet in a safety hold to prevent him from hurting himself or the house. Thankfully, that caliber of tantrum isn’t regular…but it’s so tough to see Cadet struggling. I need to remember that he’s 3.5 and has big emotions! I’ve been working very hard to help Cadet find his calmer self…and sometimes it works. He has a finger labyrinth to calm him down after a busy day, we have a deck of yoga cards he loves to work through, and of course a book to help him calm down (Breathe by Scott Magoon). All those things seem to help, but we still have the bad days of constant melt-downs.

9) Our final post-placement social worker visit is next week. There’s a few more bits of paperwork to complete, and then we just wait for a court date. It’s exciting to know that we’re that close to having our family building complete. My friend Robyn has offered to throw us a “Baby Welcoming Party” sometime after finalization, which is so generous of her. I can’t wait for some of my extended family to meet Pumpkin.

10) With the severe drought in our area, I’m constantly searching for ways to save water. It’s hard with a child who loves water and a baby who has bottles which need washing daily. Next week, I’ll be speaking to our property manager to see if I can replant some of the more water-loving plants the original owners put in. Plus, the expectation last year was that we’d be keeping the lawns green…which is insane. So, we’re going to have a little chat about that as well.

11) Probably the best news thus far is about AE. After about 6 months of her department going slowly down the tubes (result of a bad management change), AE finally landed her dream job. That alone is worth celebrating, but there’s more! For the first time since high school, AE and I will live within an hour drive of each other! Her job puts her closer to almost all of her family and friends! YAY!!

12) McRuger and I have been having a great time in our marriage. Like, serious fun! Despite being tired most of the time…we’re enjoying our time together. It seems odd to me that just last year, we were having rough fights and discussing counseling (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But, we’ve made a few changes to our relationship dynamic and the results have been amazing! Fights are now smallish and relatively minor. And we feel really close. I’m not sure how to write about it, without going into some intimate details of our marriage, but I might find the words.

13) I’m making a real effort to expand our friendship circle (as a couple). We have “Rain’s friends” and “McRuger’s friends”…but we have just two “couple friends”. So, I’m working on that.

14) Our plans for the summer are starting to firm up, which is nice. Lots of family visits, a U2 concert for me, and at least one mini-vacation. Verbena (the sitter) has agreed to help me on any trips I might want to do with the boys, which is awesome! With late spring/summer being so busy for McRuger, I’d love to get away for a while. Plus, there are two families moving to the area for the summer, which will be nice for play dates and perhaps a few extended trips.

15) Okay, last thing…I think. Homeschooling. Loving it. Seriously. Can’t imagine sending Cadet off to school for several hours a day. We have so much fun learning together. We do lots of outdoor time, music time, and reading time. Fine motor skills are always a focus, but with the help of Pinterest, I’ve got some great ideas for that! My mom gifted me her mountain dulcimer (which she used to play when I was a kid). I got it cleaned, tuned, and polished…and Cadet loves learning on it. I used to know how to play basic songs, but I’ve forgotten most of it. So, I’m re-learning as well. Right now, Cadet is just fascinated by the fact that he can play notes on it. We were also gifted some amazing art supplies from a friend, so Cadet has been having lots of art time. He’s thrilled. I’m thrilled. It’s all good.

I’m hopeful that I won’t be going so long between postings anymore…but we’ll just have to see. Hope you all are doing well.

Categories: Other Stuff | 4 Comments

Cancer scare…

For many of you who have been reading here for a while, you know about my struggle with anxiety, especially in terms of my health. Well, I had my first cancer scare recently and it threw me into a pretty bad place in terms of my anxiety.

Here’s the story…

It was a lovely night. The boys were asleep. McRuger and I had just finished having some very wonderful “adult time”. I was relaxing and felt an itch in my lower, right armpit…and then I felt it…a lump. It didn’t feel small, about the size of a garbanzo bean or a little bigger. My mind flashed one word: cancer.

I instantly had a panic attack. For over an hour, I fought the panic attack. I took some of my medication and I called my mom, McRuger talked to me and rubbed my back, and nothing helped. In my mind I had cancer and that was it. I started playing out all the eventualities in my mind…going to some very dark places. My body was shaking uncontrollably, my body dumped all the contents from my bowels and stomach, and I couldn’t breathe normally. It was the worst attack I have ever had.

McRuger messaged my doctor and within an hour, she had messaged back with an appointment time for the next day.

That night, I barely slept. My dreams were dark and twisted. My anxiety was always there.

The next morning, our new babysitter arrived (more on her later), and McRuger, Pumpkin, and I headed of to my doctor’s office. We took Pumpkin because the sitter can’t watch both kids effectively for more than an hour or so…and I didn’t know how long we’d be gone.

They checked me in at the office. My BP was sky-high…and that was on my meds! My doctor came in and proceeded to check me out. We did the typical question/answer session of a typical physical. And then she examined me. Eyes, ears, mouth, heart, lungs, abdomen, breasts…then she tried to find the lump. At first she couldn’t find it…and for a heady moment I thought it had disappeared overnight. I felt the area, found it instantly…and then she felt around.

One thing I really appreciate about my doctor is her absolute candor and her upbeat nature. I also appreciate that her husband is an oncologist…and she knows a bit more about cancer than other GPs. She felt the lump, took a measurement, marked it with a surgical pen and said it probably wasn’t cancer, but she couldn’t be sure. She wanted me to get an ultrasound immediately so we could alleviate my concerns. She and McRuger talked candidly about what the next steps would be if the lump proved to be cancerous. And my doctor told me how good it was that I had taken care of this quickly.

Within 5 minutes, she had me set up with an ultrasound for later that afternoon. The appointment was for the same time as an appointment I had set up for Pumpkin to check his ears for an infection (he’d been rubbing at them quite a bit). My doctor said that she’d look at his ears and that way I could stop stressing about that. Turns out, Pumpkin has a ton of wax in his ears, but no infection…so that was great news.

I left the office feeling a bit more reassured, but not worry-free. I knew the ultrasound was going to be stressful, and I didn’t want Pumpkin to be there for it (he doesn’t need that in his little life!). The sitter could take care of Cadet. So, I called a dear friend, Rose (Hello!!!) and she (without hesitation) told me she’d be at my house in an hour to watch Pumpkin. I cannot tell you what a relief and sense of peace that brought me. It’s wonderful to have friends like her!

We came home, nerves still jangled. I had a bit of lunch, and called my parents. With my aunt currently battling Stage 4 ovarian cancer, my parents know how this part goes…if the ultrasound showed a growth, we made a plan for them to come down to go through the next steps with us. If not…we’d be celebrating my mother’s 65th birthday in a few weekends…worry-free.

Rose arrived, gave me a big hug…and put my mind at ease about Pumpkin. She knows my kids very well, and they know her. So, when we left…I just put the boys out of my mind and focused on not vomiting.

The ultrasound went well. We were called in almost immediately and everything went very fast. The tech took about 10 minutes to get all the images, and then excused herself to talk to the head radiologist. This was unexpected, but she explained that she wanted to make sure she had taken all the images that would be needed.

For about 5 minutes, McRuger and I sat in that dark little room. He was online chatting to a few of my nurse friends…filling them in on what was happening. When the tech came back in she said that the head radiologist was fairly confident that it wasn’t cancer, but he’d need to review all the images and consult with an oncologist. We’d get a call from my GP before the end of the day.

I put my dress back on, worry slowly easing away…the shakiness still with me. In the room, I had a little time to cry. It wasn’t from worry, but more from a sense of how much my life could be changing. I flashed through all the scenarios of who would take care of the boys if I were to die…or how would McRuger handle my death. McRuger rubbed my back, helped gather my things, and we walked out of the room.

Before we exited the facility, we took 5 minutes to sit in their Zen garden. We talked about the weekend, the trip we have planned for Easter, and the weather. McRuger joked that this was our first date since Pumpkin arrived…and he was right. We had a good laugh over that. I was so in awe of his steadfastness and humor. McRuger had never once wavered in his belief that I would be okay, and even when we discussed what would happen if it was cancer…he still managed to have a sense of humor. It really made me realize how much he steadies me and keeps me balanced.

We drove home, he dropped me off so I could let the sitter go home…while he picked a prescription for valium (in case I had another panic attack). Rose and I sat on the front yard after the sitter left. We discussed the ordinary things in our life. It was so good to have her calm presence. Each moment, I felt myself coming back into my body and soul. Plus, getting hugs from Cadet always helps!

McRuger called about 15 minutes later, he had news. My doctor had called him (on my previous instructions) and said “it’s nothing”. Apparently, as I would learn later, the lump is probably is fluid filled cyst…perhaps from a ingrown hair. I’m supposed to put a warm compress on it a few times a day and call if things get worse. How pedestrian! But…not cancer!

We ordered pizza and Rose and I made a simple salad from the greens from my little garden…Rose, Cadet, McRuger, Pumpkin, and I had dinner and chatted. It was normal and it was so wonderful. My body, still processing the massive adrenaline dump from the night before, was exhausted….but my soul was light and alive.

I slept wonderfully well…with no medication. I had fuzzy dreams of going on trips and seeing people I loved.

Someday, I may have cancer or some other serious ailment. But this scare taught me that I have what I need to battle anything: a loving partner, good friends, a caring family, and a very good doctor.

Stay well, my friends.

 

 

Categories: Anxiety/Worry, doctors, health, McRuger | 11 Comments

Homeschooling and “needs”

I’ve been doing quite a bit of work on the homeschooling front…some at night after the kiddos are asleep…some while trying to get some “quiet time” in the bathroom. Lots of reading, researching, Pinterest-ing, and even some shopping on Ama.zon. Even a good bit of organization, when time permits.

While I am still very much drawn to the Waldorf way of homeschooling, I have recognized that Cadet will need extra help in some areas. Those issues or “needs” aren’t really addressed in any Waldorf curriculum I have seen. So, I’ve had to branch out, and I’m glad I have…I’ve learned quite a bit about homeschooling for various “special needs”.

Cadet’s needs are becoming more prominent as he gets older, something which his OT and SLP and I have discussed at length. First up is speech. While Cadet’s speech is doing really well in most areas, he’s rapidly falling behind in others: namely articulation. In addition, he’s still behind in certain areas of expressive speech. And his pacing is off when speaking. But, the articulation part is what has our SLP a little concerned. Because we both know Cadet really well, we can understand his speech. Strangers still need me to translate most of the time. So, his SLP and I are working on a plan to help him with these issues during home lessons. Already, we’re working on slowing everyone’s pace of speech, in hopes that modeling the behavior will help Cadet. Our SLP is very cautious about bringing Cadet’s attention to his speech difficulties. She never wants him to feel self-conscious or worried about his speech. We keep everything very positive and upbeat, continuing with our motto of “all communication is valid communication”. So, that’s speech.

On the OT side of things, we’re dealing with a fine motor delay and sensory processing issues. Cadet has had this diagnosis for a while, so it’s not something new. However, as his gross motor skills are FAR beyond his age…it makes his fine motor delays a bit more pronounced. Originally, his OT and I agreed that once his gross motor needs were taken care of, then he’d be able to focus on the fine motor stuff. That worked up to a point. It’s become increasingly clear that Cadet is focusing on gross motor, because the fine motor stuff is too challenging or boring for him. So, we’re working on forcing the issue as much as we can. Lots of scissor activities, using tongs, and balancing small objects.

About a year ago, I began to notice that Cadet didn’t seem to have a hand preference. He did somethings with his right and some with his left. When I spoke to MsJ about it, she said that there are several people in her family who are ambidextrous.  His OT and I are trying to figure out which hand he wants to use for writing/painting, throwing, cutting….and integrate that into our home lessons.

DrM (the OT) came out to do a home assessment last week. I wanted her opinion about what (if anything) we could add to help Cadet and his sensory needs. She was here for about 45 minutes, and during that time, she inspected every room Cadet spends time in. And, at the end of it, concluded that we’ve “covered the bases and then some”. We took time to discuss how to work fine motor skills into every day activities for Cadet. And I started Pinterest-ing right after she left.

As for how these lesson work on a practical level, most of you might not even notice a “lesson” if visiting our home. It looks a lot like playing a game or art time. We have we pushed golf tees into some floral foam and balanced marbles on them. Or, we played with play-dough and then cut up our creations. And, we’ve been working with pipettes to play with colored water. We’ll be doing some work with stringing cereal a little later this week too. We paint, draw, bake, and even “chop” veggies for dinner. Occasionally, I’ll bring out a “work sheet” for him to cut along lines (which he can’t do yet), just to test where he is. But I try to keep things “fun”. And, of course, Cadet also had tons of time to play with his cars out in the dirt pile or in his “car wash” (a bucket filled with water and a scrubby brush). I firmly believe in the power of play and childhood discovery to overcome a lot.

Several family members have asked if he can spell his name yet or if he knows his alphabet. The simple answer is “yes”…but he can’t write anything down yet. He’ll spell out his name or he’ll point out all the “R’s” on a page. His counting is coming along, but it’s not something he enjoys doing, so I don’t force it. That’s basically my motto right now: “don’t force it”. Much of this stuff will come naturally as Cadet hears it more and more. I know (both from testing and observations) that Cadet is a very bright child. His memory for things is quite amazing, his ability to recall the location of toys we put away months ago is uncanny, and his love of books is reassuring. And I have to have a degree of faith that as we continue to slowly, patiently,d work with Cadet…he will get where he needs to go (just look how far he’s come in two years!). And I also need to remember that Cadet will not excel in all things. He will have gifts and challenges, as we all do.

I’ve had a few friends ask if we’re planning on sending him to school at all. At the moment, the answer is a resounding “no”. Pretty much everyone who knows Cadet agrees that he would not do well in a traditional classroom setting. And since, in our state, school isn’t mandatory until 6…I have plenty of time to work on the things he needs to work on. Once he turns 6, I’ll reevaluate where we are, and go from there.  So many people seem to think that I should be sending him to school by now, annd I just don’t understand why. He’s 3.5. He’s learning. He’s happy. He’s growing on all levels. He has everything a kid his age could need or want, so why rock the boat when things are going so well.

The social aspect of homeschooling is challenging, especially in the winter. We have several friends with children around Cadet’s age, but we have only seen them a few times this winter. I’m not sure about your area, but ours was hit hard by several very bad flus and colds. And, it seemed like everyone was ALWAYS getting sick (Cadet currently is recovering from a bad cold). So, while we managed to escape the worst of the bugs…social time for Cadet has been lacking for a few months. It’s something I need to work harder on this spring.

I find myself slowly owning the idea that I will be a homeschooling mom. Occasionally, I find myself completely overwhelmed with all the details. What happens if I forget to teach Cadet about X or Y? But, I remind myself that I had a very decent public school education, and even I wasn’t taught everything! This is what is right for Cadet. Perhaps it will be right for Pumpkin too…but I don’t know that yet. Pumpkin will certainly be getting an early education with all the work we’re doing with Cadet!!

So, that’s where things stand with homeschooling. If you have any questions, I hope you’ll ask.

 

 

Categories: Cadet, Choices, Homeschool, speech | 3 Comments

Pumpkin at 4 months…

It’s 3am, and I’m not asleep. I hate it when I’m having a great night of sleep…then suddenly…I’m not. So, here I am, blogging and eating a small bowl of cereal.

Anyway, last week, Pumpkin had his 4 month check up. It was a great appointment, despite the fact that Pumpkin had a bit of a cold.

Basically, Pumpkin is right on track. He’s 88% for weight, 81% for height, and 98% for head circumference (lots of room for his brains!). Dr. Smiles couldn’t stop smiling at how cute Pumpkin is…and it’s true…Pumpkin is a stunner of a baby. Despite the fact that he’s lost most of his baby hair on the back of his head, he’s just so cute to look at.

Dr. Smiles was very impressed by how engaged and curious Pumpkin was, and also how happy. It was nice to hear someone “professional” say it, because Pumpkin is just one of the happiest babies I know. He loves to “talk” and smile and coo to pretty much anyone, but especially McRuger and me. It’s the cutest thing, he just lights up when he sees one of us.

Pumpkin’s umbilical hernia has pretty much completely healed. Both Dr. Smiles and I agreed that we couldn’t feel the opening anymore. His belly button will continue to heal over, which will take some time. I think we were both surprised at how quickly it’s healed, given the fact that Pumpkin’s half sister still has hers at 2 years old.

Dr. Smiles suggested, and I agreed, that we put off the standard vaccines until Pumpkin started feeling better. We are both extra cautious given Pumpkin’s brush with neutropenia. So, next week, I’ll take Pumpkin in and get those shots done.

I was given “permission” to start “real food”, but I won’t start that for at least another 2 months. I don’t like pushing that, especially since Pumpkin still occasionally struggles with formula and his tongue tie.

Dr. Smiles and I actually spent most of the appointment discussing Cadet and his current troubles, since Pumpkin was just so normal.

Besides the medical stuff, Pumpkin at 4 months is just a sweetie. He’s starting to really show his personality as a laid back, curious kind of person. He loves sucking on his fingers (just his middle or his pointer…sometimes both), which is a family trait! Pumpkin LOVES being outside and is happiest when we’re all out on the lawn. He’s still not sleeping for more than 3-4 hours a night, which is frustrating, but not horrible. We’ve had a few nights where he’s gone as long as 5, but those are rare.

We’ve nicknamed Pumpkin the “Baby Wookie” because when he’s happy, he chortles, screeches, and trills like a wookie would. Cutest thing ever!

So, that’s Pumpkin at 4 months. I’m still in daily contact with MsV. She’s doing well and has a new job, which is helping her to spend more time with her children. I’ve sent her off a bunch of photos, which she seemed to appreciate. But, communication is overall pretty limited. She just texts a few words here and there, but I get the feeling that she’s struggling with the adoption at times.

Last month, the last of the potential birth fathers had his rights terminated. He never actually contested anything, we think, at MsV’s urging. She seemed so relieved to have that taken care of. So, the adoption is moving forward again. McRuger had his physical last week (normal) and I’ll have mine in two weeks (cue minor panic). Once Pumpkin has his 6 month check up, all our paper work will be complete and our social worker can petition the court for a date.

That’s really all that’s going on here with Pumpkin. He’s a normal, happy 4 month old with a good set of lungs on him!

Here’s the post about Cadet at 4 months…..it’s a fun reminder!

 

Categories: Adoption, doctors, health, Pumpkin | 1 Comment

A little good and a little bad…

The two weeks have been pretty intense here. There have been lots of ups and downs. Frankly, dear readers, I’m exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, physically…I’m just worn down. Every time I think that life is on the upswing, it seems like it comes crashing down again. Here’s the rundown of what’s been going on.

  • My father e-mailed Bro and me last week to let us know that our aunt (his sister) has cancer. Not sure why he e-mailed us that shocking news, but he did. Aunt J (in her late 50’s) was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and will be having surgery to remove the cancer early next week. She’s roughly the same age when her mother (my grandmother) was diagnosed (and later died from) the same type of cancer. Aunt J’s prognosis is unknown right now, so once the surgery is over, we’ll know more. My father’s side of the family is plagued with cancer. So far, both grandparents and two aunts have died from cancer.
  • My relationship with Aunt J has been strained for many years. But, to know she’s going through this breaks my heart. She’s never been married, has a very small support system, and not a lot of income. She’ll be leaning heavily on my parents to get her through this, and I’ll be doing what I can as well.
  • Cadet has basically stopped sleeping through the night. He’s now awake for vast portions of the night/early morning. Over the last two weeks, he’s slept through the night only one or two nights. We have tried everything to get him back on a good schedule and nothing has been working. It’s insanely frustrating, because I know he’s exhausted, but nothing I can do will get him back to sleep. At this point, he’s spending most of the early morning in bed with McRuger (not always sleeping, but at least not crying).
  • Pumpkin’s sleep has been vastly disturbed by Cadet’s screaming/crying tantrums in the middle of the night. And so he’s not sleeping well either. No matter what, he’s awake at 2am…and it takes him forever to go back to sleep. In general, he’s a good sleeper…but conditions haven’t been optimal.
  • As you can imagine, both McRuger and I are exhausted. I’m averaging about 4 hours of continuous sleep a night (probably 6 hours total, if you could the mini-naps I take between feedings). McRuger is getting more, but that’s because he has to go to work in the mornings.
  • The sleep stuff has gotten so bad we’re actually talking about hiring a baby sleep specialist (several have been highly recommended by friends). That’s not something I ever thought I would need to do, but the whole family needs sleep.
  • McRuger’s “paternity” leave is half over. We were going to hold a garage sale, but it rained the day we had planned it.  We’re basically spending the remainder of his leave getting little things done: curtains up, garage cleaned, kitchen reorganized, bedroom fixed up…. Our plans for a mini-vacation went out the window with the lack of sleep…and then my aunt diagnosis.
  • On the “good news” side of things, my hair stylist came back from maternity leave! So, for the first time in a year, I have a decent hair cut.
  • We had a wonderful visit from AE. She’s just gotten back from Africa, and spent the entire day with us. AE and I had some great conversations and it felt good to connect with her again. Nothing like a best friend to brighten a day! And we had sushi to top it off!
  • My car is finally back from the body shop, and looks shiny new. We spent a good deal of money to outfit it with everything for having two boys: kick mats, seat protectors, cup holders, and a mirror. I finally installed the two decals I really wanted on it (one is a mandala, the other is more geek-related). I love my car, and it seems like every day I discover another reason to love it.
  • Just as my car is back from the shop, McRuger’s car has gone into the mechanic for about $2,000 in repairs. Mostly it’s just maintenance stuff that we’ve been putting off, so we wanted to get it done while McRuger is home.
  • Last week, I met with a local homeschooling expert. We had about an hour meeting over lunch at a local cafe. Originally, I was meeting with her to get more information on her “private school for homeschoolers”…but it rapidly morphed into a meeting about how I could (and should) open my own. At the end of the hour, I felt very good about moving forward with homeschooling and doing it independently if I choose to.
  • Cadet and I continue to work on some “homeschooling” lessons every day. Right now, we’re working on his fine motor skills and doing lots of painting and cutting. We also spend a lot of time outside digging in the dirt, drawing in chalk, or playing with cars. It seems like such a small thing, but I really try to give him the space he needs to learn on his own. Cadet’s imaginary life has been amazing these days. I want to bottle the joy that Cadet exudes when he’s playing with his toys.
  • Pumpkin is such a delightful baby. He’s so smily and communicative (in ways Cadet never was). Seriously, he just lights up a room and he loves meeting new people. He turned 4 months old and I just can’t get enough of his smiles.

I’m reading your blogs when I can…answering emails when I can…just trying to keep up with life. Whew…it’s not easy being an adult sometimes!

This wasn’t such a “microblog”…but I hope you’ll forgive me! To find out more about MicroBlog Mondays, please go here….

 

 

Categories: Cadet, Family, McRuger, Pumpkin, sleep | 7 Comments

Post-placement thoughts…

Last Thursday was our first post-placement visit with our social worker (SW). The amount of projects and organization we completed before she came was kind of astonishing…although with Cadet around, it doesn’t last long. Anyway, the meeting took about 2.5 hours, and it was quite in-depth.

We went over our copious amounts of paperwork, she asked a ton of questions about our relationship with MsV, and even had us fill out even MORE paperwork (ugh). After all of that, she toured the house…looking in every closet, in the garage, and looking everywhere in the backyard. She was thorough, to say the least. I’m glad that we had finished everything we had…

Overall, SW seemed happy about where things stood with the adoption. She was very impressed with how cute Pumpkin is (well, duh!!). Oh, and she was so happy that Cadet was interested and involved in the process of the interview (he wanted to have paperwork to fill in too!!!). And she seemed very pleased with our thoughts on adoption (i.e. our openness with MsV).

The only problem with the whole meeting was that our attorney hadn’t informed SW about the 3rd potential biological father…and we didn’t have all the information. However, it turned out to be a good thing…because she spoke with our attorney..and then MsV…and then the 3rd potential bio-father. Apparently, he’s retracting his statement that he’s the father of Pumpkin and MsV was very happy about that. His rights will be severed on (or around) the 20th of this month! And since SW spoke to him directly, she’s adding her statement to the court petition to terminate his rights.

The next steps are pretty simple. Both McRuger and I need to have our physicals completed before she comes back in 3 months, there is some more paperwork which needs to be completed by us, and Pumpkin needs some paperwork filled in by his doctor at 5 months. She said that our finalization date should be before the end of July.

She left, and life returned to normal. We spent the rest of the weekend, resting…or at least trying to (Cadet has stopped sleeping through the night again).

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If you’re curious about Microblog Mondays, please CLICK HERE to learn more.

 

 

Categories: Adoption, Family, Pumpkin | 9 Comments

Something a bit more uplifting

It’s a rare, quiet afternoon here. Pumpkin is sleeping. Cadet is quietly playing with his cars and eating a bowl of dry cereal (his choice). And, instead of prepping for our first post-placement visit on Thursday, I thought I would write about some of the good things happening here.

  • We are planning for our first vacation as a family of four. We’re going to take the boys to the snow for a few days. Cadet’s at an age where he would really enjoy it, and has been asking questions about it (after all the talk about snow around Christmas-time). One of McRuger’s co-workers has offered us use of his timeshare (!) so, it shouldn’t strain our budget too much.
  • Cadet’s vocabulary and language usage has sky-rocketed recently. It’s truly insane. He’s asking questions, making inferences, narrating his whole life, and commenting on everything he sees (“mama, there’s a lot of cars going in that direction this morning…”). He’s also been starting to tell us what he needs in terms of his sensory needs: bean bin, bath time, drive, or quiet time. His speech therapist (who we had a month-long break from) came back last week and was astounded. He’s grasping concepts and words beyond his age level…if you can understand him. That’s the big thing these days, understanding him. McRuger says he understands about 75% of what he says, friends/family understand about 50%…and I am about 90%, and usually get it once I ask for him to say it again. It’s such a shocking change from just a year ago. I can’t tell you how much I love hearing his voice.
  • Pumpkin is starting to “talk”. He’s very talkative at 3am and loves to smile and engage with people. He’s quite the smily little fella. He’s lost some of his baby hair, and has a bald spot on the back of his head…but those are normal things. Pumpkin is our little snuggle muffin.
  • Cadet, for the first time in over a year, fell asleep in my lap last week. He was exhausted from waking up early, and was having a bad tantrum. After his tears had stopped, he climbed up into my lap, curled up, and promptly fell asleep. I held him for the longest time. Savoring the feeling of him being calm and happy. While, I love seeing him grow up, I know that there are some things he won’t be doing as often (like falling asleep in my lap)…and I will miss them!
  • The first post-placement visit will happen on Thursday. I’m honestly not looking forward to it. Apparently, it will take 3-4 hours and there will be a home inspection. Our post placement visits for Cadet’s adoption were 30 minutes or less…so this will be interesting. Needless to say, we’re scouring the house (I even had our cleaning lady come a week early!). However, it’s prompted us to get some projects done and do lots of organization. The front of the house is pretty much ready to go, now we just need to finish up the guest room and master bedroom.
  • I made a really great Mornay (cheese) sauce to go over brown rice and broccoli the other night. Seriously, it was quite good. I made it with cheddar, parm, and a bit of jack cheese…lots of pepper and a bit of nutmeg. Cadet couldn’t get enough. I’m really trying hard to try new things to add to our meals. Since Cadet and McRuger will prettying much eat anything, it gives me permission to go a little wild.
  • Speaking of eating, we had dinner with my cousins this last weekend. One of my cousins has a son, just slightly older than Cadet. My cousin was in awe of how much Cadet would eat (as in variety, not amount). She asked me how we got so lucky. McRuger explained that we have always been very insistent that Cadet at least try new things…and most of them he likes. Sure, he loves the typical “toddler foods”: crackers, hot dogs, pasta…but he will really eat anything. I can only think of a handful of foods he really doesn’t enjoy: mashed potatoes and green beans are the big ones right now. And frankly, if my kid wants to eat toasted nori, poached chicken, and tomatoes…I’m really okay not forcing him to eat his green beans.
  • I’m getting better at managing the house with two kids. It’s still not easy, but I’m getting a pattern down which is working. It’s really important to me that I have a hot dinner on the table for Cadet and McRuger (even if he has to serve himself). It makes life seem so much more “normal”.
  • We had a good deal of rain last week/weekend. It was glorious. Cadet is a true lover of weather (just like me). He loves watching the sky and when he sees dark clouds, he runs to tell me that “a storm is coming, mama”. And when he feels the wind and rain, he has the biggest smile on his face.
  • I’m taking several online classes at the moment. Two of them dealing exclusively with home schooling, which have proved to be very helpful in planning. My favorite online class at the moment is one on creating sacred spaces in your home. Oh my. I’m learning so much about creating warm, inviting, and loving spaces for children (and adults)…and how it helps everyone feel more centered and warm.
  • McRuger and I have had a few very productive conversations about communication and expectations recently. They have gone a long way towards helping us feel more connected and loved. It’s truly amazing how much we love each other…it’s just a matter of communicating that while we’re tired and overwhelmed. It feels like we have a bit of our old spark back!
  • After a few more calls to the insurance company we were having an issue with, things have sorted themselves out. My car is scheduled to be repaired next week…which is awesome!

Well, the boys are awake and I have a long list of things to get done. Hope you are doing well!

Categories: Other Stuff | 7 Comments

And the hits (literally) keep on coming…

So, last Monday, I took Cadet to the grocery store to pick up a few things. McRuger was home with Pumpkin. I was driving home (in my new car) when someone merged into my rear bumper/rear quarter panel. This was on a perfectly clear day, on a perfectly straight stretch of road, and she hit my car. My brand new car. 

We went through the song and dance of exchanging information. McRuger advised me to get a statement from her admitting fault…which she did. We also exchanged phone numbers (a very helpful thing later on). We got to talking, she had been having a very bad day, and had spent the night in the ER in pre-term labor pains and bleeding (she was only 19 weeks along). She had been dealing with infertility and this was her first pregnancy. I told her we’d gone through infertility too and knew how hard it was. We talked about local doctors and I highly recommended a few that we liked. She and I bonded over that…but Cadet was getting antsy…so I drove home. We got the damaged assessed later in the week, and it’s almost $3000 in damage (half labor, half parts).

Dealing with her insurance company on this has been a nightmare. This is the other driver’s insurance company (US.AA). And in the 6 days since the accident, we have talked to them at least every day…and every day they have lied to us (flat out lies!). At first they claimed that the other driver was on the phone filing a claim, so we couldn’t file one at the same time (lie). They they claimed that she had filled out an online form, but hadn’t actually filled in the part about this being her fault (lie). We tried to actually talk to the adjuster assigned, but he never returned our calls. They claimed that they were unable to reach the other driver (despite multiple attempts…lie). One operator actually put McRuger on hold while he “called the other driver” and then said he left her a message (both lies). How do we know these are lies? Because finally McRuger got angry. He called the insurance company, asked to speak to a supervisor and told them that this call was being recorded. The supervisor eventually admitted that they had been lying to us. And basically were trying to “wait out the claim” (if they couldn’t “reach” their client in 30 days, the claim would be denied). McRuger put them on hold and called the other driver. And they talked. She claims, and I believe her, to have gotten no messages from her insurance. And she was pissed that they had been lying to us. McRuger connected the two calls (the insurance company had been on hold the whole time) and let them speak.

Finally, we seem to have this sorted out so my car can be restored! Thank heavens McRuger knows how to handle these sorts of things. Anyway, that was Friday afternoon. While we were dealing with that…things with my parents were getting bad…

My parents live in a relatively isolated area. And, that area has been hit with some very wet/windy weather. On Friday, my mom was home using the computer (dad was at work). She heard an explosion, and simultaneously received a large shock from the computer. The house started filling with smoke. She got out of the house, and called 9-1-1…thinking the house was on fire from a lightning strike.

It took a while to discover what had happened. The transformer on the electrical line across from their house had exploded, sending two (2!!!) 20,000 volt charges through the house electrical system. The first one fried the circuit box, the second fried everything else (lightbulbs, electronics, house wiring). My mom was lucky to not have received a more serious shock.

It took 5 hours for the electrical line to be repaired and the event investigated, but my parents were told not to turn on anything in the house until an electrician/inspector could come to examine ALL the wiring in the house. My parent’s house is old (built in the 1920’s) and has been updated several times, but there are some parts of the house which have more antique wiring.

At this point, the house is uninhabitable (no lights, no fridge/stove, no hot water, and no heat). While they have the wood cook stove, they have been advised not to use it until the electrical in the house has been cleared (the fear is that the heat from the stove would damage something further). My father is staying at the house during the nights, making sure no one breaks in. Both of them are there during the day. They have to clear out the entire attic (something that hasn’t been done EVER) and remove all appliances (they have been damaged). They also have to clear anything that might be near an outlet (for the inspectors).

Currently, the plan is to have the inspector out early this week, clear the house, and then work on moving back in. My dad isn’t so confident it will be that easy. If any of the wiring has shorted or burned (which seems pretty likely), that will have to be replaced. It’s entirely possible that they will have to re-wire the entire house (which isn’t cheap or a fast thing to get done…).

And to top everything off…we had a power outrage last night which lasted almost 9 hours. You try keeping an SPD kiddo asleep without his white noise machine or sleep clock. He’s been up and down since midnight…and he’s actually been awake since 3am…

So, yeah…quite a week it’s been…

Please keep my parents in your thoughts…

And I hope that you are doing well!

 

Categories: Cadet, Family, Household, Marriage, McRuger, thoughts | 10 Comments

Some quick news…

Good news! We received Pumpkin’s blood test results…and….he’s totally healthy. His neutrophil counts were 2400 (anything over 1000 is “normal”). His neutrophils accounted for 29% of his total white blood cell counts, which is low, but totally normal. Yay. This was just the case of viral suppression and not anything more dire. We are finally done with isolation!

Categories: Other Stuff | 12 Comments

Meeting Luna…

The cars I have owned/driven in my life have been pretty diverse. My first was a 1979 Ford, which I nicknamed the Godfather (it was black, boat-like, and horribly undependable). My second car was a brand new Honda Civic, which my parents purchased for me and I paid them back. I loved that car. It was the most basic model…didn’t even have A/C. But it was reliable, pretty, and got great gas milage. I drove that beauty into the ground over 7 years. Then, I was gifted my grandma’s Volvo…and ancient model that seemed luxurious compared to my Civic. Then, I my aunt gifted me her old Acura…another old model…but it only had 40K miles on it and had been meticulously cared for. In fact, that’s the car which McRuger drives daily. He loves that car.

When McRuger and I started living together, he had me drive his Hyundai Elantra. It was new-ish, had more room, and had better gas milage (and I was driving 2 hours every day). I came to view the Elantra as mine, and so did McRuger. It later became the “family car”. I love the memories that we made in that car…

Well, my car, the Elantra was totaled late last week. And it wasn’t even a close call. The collision shop looked at just the cosmetic damage and said it would be at least 6K, and that wasn’t even taking into account the structural repairs that would have to happen. A second opinion confirmed it.

Our insurance offered us a settlement, and we took it. It was fairly generous, and would provide a great downpayment on a new car. We applied for a loan, and got a good interest rate from our credit union.

I have never picked out a car before. Not once. Mine had all been chosen for me. So, this was going to be a whole new experience. And, I dove in with a ton of research. After a few days, McRuger and I narrowed our choices down to 4: Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda 5, Toyota Highlander, Honda CRV. McRuger and I debated about our “non-negotiables” and what our price should stay at (while we’d gotten a good loan, we didn’t want to have to use all of it). There were some tough talks about money and budget and how to better manage our investments. We have several upcoming expenses that we need to start saving for…sigh…

Then came the test drives…challenging with two kids..one of whom isn’t supposed to be in contact with people. But, we did it. One of us going out…driving…coming back…other going out…driving…coming back…comparing notes. A few trips we made together, just keeping Pumpkin in the car or covered in a stroller (in open-air spaces).

In the end, we decided to go with Hyundai. They have a great warranty program, we rarely had issues with the Elantra, and they were offering us some great deals. We test drove new and used, and eventually decided on the Santa Fe Sport (turbo). It’s a 2014, so we got a great deal since they were clearing out the inventory.

McRuger is a master negotiator! He spent 5 hours at the dealership negotiating the staff down almost 7K from the asking price, and they threw in a whole bunch of extras (cargo nets, all-weather floor mats, tire locks…).

Overall, I’m thrilled with the car. It didn’t meet all of our initial requirements (seating for at least 6, being the big one)…but it felt right. It’s perfect for our family, at least in my opinion. McRuger likes it too, but is more focused right now on other things.

Yesterday we said goodbye to the Elantra. McRuger and I took the kids to the collision shop, and as they stayed in the car, we cleaned up the last few bits from the car. It was a good opportunity to have Cadet say goodbye to the car…he loves “the blue car” and he’s been asking about it since it “got hurt and went to the doctor”. We explained that the “white car” was now our family car, and we came up with the name: Luna. The name was actually inspired by the fact that Cadet thought the car looked like the moon. Moon = Luna…worked perfectly. Cadet identifies with things a little better if there’s a concrete name for it, especially if it’s new.

So, Luna’s parked in the driveway…all sparkly and with that new-car smell. McRuger put in the all-weather mats (not that we need them now…but I like that they are so rugged). I love the back-up camera, the bluetooth integration, and the sat-nav (not that I use it that much, but it’s still nice to have). There’s only 163 miles on her right now…and I get a little flutter of excitement when I have to run errands. In fact, today I just took the boys for a drive during Pumpkin’s early afternoon nap.

Categories: Choices, Family, Household, McRuger, money | 5 Comments

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