Adoption Interview

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day of Firsts

Today was a day of firsts. I took my first trip to IKEA and I was amazed. Unfortunately the snowstorm that was supposed to hit New England tomorrow arrived early and we had to leave before fully exploring all the store had to offer. Hannah loved the awesome kid's play area and was doing cannon balls into the HUGE ball pit they have. She apparently even played with some kids that she met while she was in there. When we picked her up she said, "Daddy, there was a boy with an orange shirt in the play place and he was my friend and we played." Later at the restaurant (I can't believe they have a restaurant too!) she pointed him out to us while we were in line. Way to go Hannah! Preschool has been SOOOOOO good for her. I'm totally going back there again with her someday to explore the store some more since she was so willing to hang out in the kid's area.

When we got home there was quite a bit of snow on the ground (it took us 3 hours to drive 40 miles because of a huge traffic back up that we were never able to deduce what the root cause of was) so Kyle and Hannah bundled up to go outside to play (well Kyle was technically shoveling). Hannah caught sight of the neighbor girls who were outside playing in their yard and had to go over to see them. They invited us to go sledding in their backyard since they have a really steep hill. So, Hannah was able to sled for the first time. She loved it. She even went down on her own several times. I took pictures, but it was getting so dark (since it is dark around 4pm these days!) that the shutter speed had to be too slow to get enough light for me to be able to get any good shots handholding the camera. :( Too bad, I would have loved to have some shots of her first experience sledding. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised when I upload them.

Then, before bedtime Hannah was working on her Christmas thank you cards. I usually write out the phrases "Thank You" and "Love, Hannah" for her to copy in the appropriate places on the cards so that I don't have to spell each word aloud for every single card and she can just move at her own pace independently. Today when I went to set the phrase card out of her to copy she said, "No Mommy! I can do it on my own." I tried to get her to take the example card, but she was not having it. Eventually I consented and boy did she show me. She wrote from memory "Thank You" and "Love Hannah" legibly, spelled correctly, and in the right place on all 12 cards! I had no idea she knew how to spell "thank you." "Love," I could believe since it was one of the first words she learned to read as a sight word after her own name, but "thank you" just blew me away. I knew she could read those words, but it's a much bigger deal in my opinion to pull the spelling out of your head and put it down on paper. That's my girl! She's such a smarty.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas on the East Coast

Well, we survived our first Christmas here on the East Coast. It was fairly uneventful and much more quiet than we are used to. Since getting married Kyle and I have had a constant stream of family in and out of our house on Christmas day and at least a dozen other family Christmas obligations to attend throughout the month of December and early January. Add any Christmas parties thrown by friends or employers and you have a recipe for holiday meltdown. Once Hannah was born it seemed as if the holiday crush became almost unmanageable. This year was almost the opposite of unmanageable, though the actual month flew by, Christmas Day and the days since have crept by as if in slow motion. We wanted to scale back this year because last year was just too much for Hannah and consequently us too and we definitely got our wish. Seems like I just can't be satisfied though because this year has left me wishing for a happy medium for next year. Maybe just a visitor or two on Christmas Day and one or two family or friend holiday engagements in the days prior too or just after the big day? Surely that would do it?

All complaining aside, we did have a very nice Christmas together as a family. Hannah was totally into Christmas this year. She visited (and even sat on his lap!) Santa several times and asked for a new piggy bank (she broke her old one earlier in the year, sorry Mamaw but it was fragile). Both Santa and Mommy and Daddy came through with the piggy bank. I had bought her a (plastic) Sleeping Beauty bank back in October to save for a Christmas present. I thought it would really make her happy. Sure enough, when we started asking her what she would like for Christmas she indicated she wanted a new bank. With each successive visit to the man in red, as she warmed up to him, she started getting more and more specific in her request. She eventually specified that she wanted an actual "piggy" bank that was not breakable. Since I didn't want to take the Aurora bank back to the Disney Store, I started scouting out places to buy an actual piggy bank that was made of plastic rather than ceramic. I finally found one at Toys R Us of all places. It's actually pretty cute. Growing up, Santa always left my sister and I one unwrapped gift inside our bedroom. I remember being amazed that Santa had actually entered my room and I hadn't heard the stairs creak. This year since Hannah was so into Santa I decided to start the same tradition with her. Before going to bed I snuck the piggy bank into her room and put it just inside her door so that she'd find it when she got up and knocked on her door. As fate would have it, Hannah was so keyed up with Christmas excitement that she was up several times that night. At around 2am she found her piggy bank and you can surely imagine the havoc that caused. It was practically impossible to get her back to sleep after that. I eventually tucked her back into bed clutching her new piggy bank. She might have slept for a half hour or so, but then was up again at 3am and read in her room until 5am when I finally went back in and rocked her in her chair until she fell asleep. We snuggled like that until 7am when we finally got up. After checking out our stockings and opening a few gifts, Hannah became pretty disinterested in opening any more gifts. She just wanted to play with the few she had already opened. We struggled until lunchtime to get her to open up her presents then had brunch and spent the rest of the day hanging out and playing in our PJs.

Less than a week after returning from our Thanksgiving trip Kyle had surgery on his wrist (more on that fiasco in a minute). He expected to be off work for about two weeks, possibly less, but because what the surgeons found inside when they started exploring, he ended up being casted and put on light duty for his wrist (no typing or writing which is pretty much all an engineer does!) until January 12th! So, Kyle was off work for two weeks for vacation, back to work for 4 days, had surgery, and then will be off for at least a month after the surgery before they take the cast off and reevaluate! When it's all said and done Kyle will have been off work for almost 2 months. Hannah (and me too for that matter) is getting quite used to her Daddy being home. She's actually stopped mentioning him going back to work which is a bad sign. This has become her new normal and I'm worried it's going to be rough for her to adjust when Kyle goes back to work. Change is never easy for Hannah so I'm not looking forward to this change in routine that will probably happen in a few weeks. Wish me luck and pray that I'll have patience with her certain increase in defiant behavior.

Back to Kyle's surgery fiasco. The surgery was on a Friday which is a school day for Hannah. The surgery was set for 10:45am and was to be done outpatient. Hannah needed to be picked up no later than 5:30pm. 6 hours should have been plenty of time for a one hour surgery and outpatient recovery time. It would be no problem to pick Hannah up from school after getting Kyle settled in at home after the surgery. I was mildly concerned about caring for Kyle after the surgery while also caring for Hannah with no support network to help me out or keep Hannah occupied and from crawling all over Kyle, but I knew it would work out somehow. When we arrived at the hospital it became apparent that they were running behind schedule, but by the time they finally took Kyle back for surgery there was still plenty of time for everything to go as planned. The surgery took longer than expected, but still when the surgeon came out to tell me had made it through fine and was in recovery there was still time. Things were getting closer, but there was still time. As the minutes and then hours ticked by and I had still not been allowed back to the recovery room to see Kyle I started to get anxious. I was worried about why I was not able to see him and I was nervous about how I was going to get back to pick up Hannah in time. Finally, around 4:45pm, I was allowed back to see Kyle and he was still on his gurney and obviously in a lot more pain than was expected. The nurse told me there was no way he would be ready to be discharged in time for me to get Hannah at 5:30 because he wasn't even able to sit up yet. She told me to leave him there and go get Hannah. The catch was that because of strict flu season rules Hannah was not allowed inside the hospital (no one under 18 that was not a patient was allowed at the hospital) and they were also unsure as to when Kyle would actually be allowed to leave. How on earth was I supposed to pick Kyle up without taking Hannah into the hospital (was I going to leave her alone in the vestibule or out in the van?!?) and what if they discharged him after Hannah's bedtime? This is where the realization of exactly how hard it is to be so far away from all our family and friends set in. We have no friends here in Rhode Island and don't have a babysitter. Kyle and I haven't gone anywhere without Hannah (except when she's been in school) since we moved to Rhode Island 10 months ago. I had no idea where to turn. All I knew was that I had to take care of Hannah and I had to get Kyle from the hospital somehow and we didn't have friends or family that could easily be counted on to do either. The closer it got to Hannah's bedtime and Kyle was still being held hostage in the recovery room, the closer I came to deciding that it would be easier to find someone to potentially come stay at the house after I put Hannah to bed while I went to get Kyle than it would be for me to try to find someone to go pick up Kyle. The catch again was that I had no idea what time I would be allowed to go get Kyle. Finally I broke down and called one of our neighbors (the only one of the neighbors that I know their last name and phone number!) who has been friendly in the past and practically begged her to do me a huge favor. She quickly agreed and while she had always seemed nice I really didn't know her well, not well enough that I would normally allow a person to watch my daughter (what if she turned out to be a child molester!) and I was also concerned for her if Hannah were to wake up. She can be quite agitated and disoriented if she wakes in the night (and she does frequently) and has been known to get aggressive during night wakings. Even if she woke up and was fine, I worried about Stephany having to entertain Hannah with little to no experience interacting with Hannah and no knowledge of where things are in our house or the house rules. Still, I was in a bind and I had NO WHERE else to turn. I took the chance and prayed that everything would go smoothly. I was finally allowed to pick up Kyle at 9:30pm. It was probably around 11:30pm before we got home. Thankfully, Hannah stayed asleep the entire time and Stephany only had to spend 2 hours away from her husband and pet our geriatric beagle while I was gone! It's emergencies (even minor ones like this one) that make you realize how important it is to have that support network around you. Unfortunately, when you move far away it takes time to build up that network and emergencies can strike at any time. I wish I were more social and outgoing because that would make it easier for me to at least make acquaintances that might be able to be called on in a pinch.

For Christmas, Santa went a little crazy with the books. I have always been a voracious reader and Hannah has followed in my (and Kyle's) footsteps. For Christmas each year my dad would always give my sister and I a card that stated he would take us shopping every week at the local bookstore so that we could pick out a book. I LOVED doing that. It was one of my favorite times of each week. Needless to say I have lots of children's picture books and chapter books, but what I don't have are many early reader type books for Hannah to read by herself. We have a second hand store in town that has a section for books and every book is 69 cents and the books are also buy 4, get the 5th free. Many kids must not be as avid of readers as I was as a child and as Hannah is because the number of high quality and barely read children's books at this store is unbelievable. I find tons of books that look as if they have never even been opened and certainly haven't been handled by a child or read more than once. I specifically find lots of these early readers. Instead of paying $4 at the bookstore for each of these books, I can get 5 basically brand new (or at worst gently used) for well under what I would pay for one book at the bookstore. Like I said, Santa went a little crazy. I just couldn't resist all those great, cheap books. Consequently we've been doing a lot of reading lately, even more reading than usual, and what I've been seeing (and hearing) from Hannah has once again amazed me. She manages to read word after word that I am prepared to tell her what it is more quickly than I can get the word out of my mouth. She self corrects when she reads a word incorrectly and realizes it doesn't make sense. She reads without having to point at each word as she says it, in fact she reads so quickly and fluently now that pointing to the words actually messes her up because she can't move her fingers that fast. She's definitely reading at first grade level now and I have to constantly remind myself that she won't even turn 3 1/2 years old for another week and a half! I was an early reader myself, but she's more than an early reader. She's moved into territory where I can no longer say, "yeah, she's smart, but I was able to do that too and I didn't turn out to be an extraordinarily intelligent person." It's so hard to keep my expectations for her reasonable because her development is so uneven. She's so crazy ahead in some areas and quite behind in others and then totally typical for a 3 year old in yet others. Truly I don't even know what normal expectations to have for a 3 year old are because she's never followed a normal path. I often expect the kids in her class to be able to do things just because Hannah's been able to do them for ages and get surprised when I see that they can't do them at all and that they aren't even really supposed to be able to do them yet. I also get surprised when I see how confidently they interact with each other and get a punch in the gut when I realize that Hannah (despite the drastic improvements she's made since starting school) is nowhere near being able to do that. It's all very confusing and I'm afraid that's not going to change much in the years to come. Hannah's probably always going to have uneven skill development so I suppose I should just get used to not comparing her to her peers now and make things easier for myself down the road.

Before I log off here, one final story to make you smile from my Little Miss Literal. For Christmas, Santa brought Hannah 4 (35 cent after Halloween clearance!) foam animal face masks. Hannah has really enjoyed donning the masks and pretending to be the various animals. One of the masks happens to be a dog and the other day Hannah had on the mask and was wanting Kyle to pretend to be her owner and take her for walks and do other dog/owner activities. Eventually Kyle starts giving dog commands like sit, lay down, stay, roll over, etc. It was pretty comical to see Hannah's version of all of these dog tricks, but when Kyle followed the command of lay down with the command of shake I knew immediately that result was going to be funny. I was wrong, it wasn't funny, it was absolutely hysterical! Hannah's version of lay down was flat on her back and when Kyle switched to shake instead of sitting up and offering her hand/paw to shake she started flopping all over the floor and twitching her limbs. I laughed so hard I had trouble breathing. Of course she WOULD shake like that because that's how Hannah operates. If there is ever two different ways of taking a statement, Hannah will always interpret it the most literal way possible.

PS. Aren't the Thanksgiving turkeys Hannah and I made adorable? :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Trip

Ok, so I know it's almost Christmas and I'm just now writing about our Thanksgiving Trip back to the Midwest, but we've been busy and December just kinda got away from me. The trip out was awful .We had rain and fog the whole way and Hannah barely slept at all. We had a HUGE meltdown at a gas station in the middle of the night that lasted almost a half hour which seemed like an eternity closed up in the van. Once arriving at our first destination, Pap and Mindy's house, things got much better. Kyle and I slept and Hannah hung out with Pap playing, raking leaves, and carrying pumpkins all over the yard. Can you say heavy work!?! Hannah did well the whole time we were in Ohio although she was definitely overtired most of the time because of bedtimes stretched hours past normal. Our next stop was Mamaw and Papaw's house. Hannah was in heaven. She got to feed the horses, play with our dog Ella, climb on the swing set Papaw made, and get spoiled rotten with candy by Mamaw. While in Indiana we also visited with Hannah's birthmother, Tiffany, and her twins. We spent the day with them at the Children's Museum and had a blast. Hannah loved hanging out with her sister Kayla and Kayla and Chase really got into their roles as a big sister and brother. Hannah also finally warmed up to Donna, Tiffany's mom, and that was awesome to see. Up until now, Hannah has refused to really go near Donna for some reason. I think it broke Donna's heart although she'd never say that. This visit was different for some reason. When we prompted Hannah to give Grandma Donna a hug she practically threw herself onto her lap. The look of shock on Donna's face was priceless. After staying at Mamaw and Papaw's house, we headed back to West Lafayette to visit with friends. We stayed with Hannah's bestest friend Evelyn. The two of them were so cute together. It was so awesome to see Hannah finally playing independently with her and returning some of the affection Evelyn has always lavished on her. Those two still really know how to push each other's buttons. Even after not seeing each other for 6 months they were still able to do it instantly and push away they did! It was just like they were sisters! After Evelyn's house we headed to my sister's for a few days before starting the drive back to Rhode Island. We got to hang out and meet her new (to us) boyfriend, have dinner with Grandpa, and pick up Abby our other dog. We left bright and early Saturday morning and planned on driving straight through, but the weather again had it in for us and we ran into a snowstorm in the mountains of Pennsylvania and we decided to stop for the night after seeing several cars off in the ditch. It was an ordeal to find a hotel with rooms available that was also willing to take in a geriatric beagle pup. We eventually found a place to stay after I gave my sob story and a hotel that doesn't allow pets decided to make an exception for us. We got a good night's sleep and made it home in one piece the next day. How's that for the Reader's Digest Condensed Version of our two week trip?

Approximately 40+ hours in the car during our trip did have one perk. We were able to hear some awfully funny things come out of Hannah's mouth, all totally unexpected and unprompted. Here they are for your reading pleasure.

On the way out we stopped at a McDonalds for breakfast very early in the morning in the heart of Amish Country in PA. Though I grew up in a community known for a fairly large Amish population, Hannah had never met or even seen someone dressed in traditional Amish attire. Throughout the month of November Hannah and I had been reading books about the first Thanksgiving and been looking at pictures of Pilgrims and Native Americans. When Hannah caught sight of the large group of Amish in the restaurant (the only other customers in the restaurant besides us mind you) she pointed straight at the nearest group of young women in bonnets and shouted, "Mom! Look! Native Americans!" She was so proud of herself and I about died. I immediately knew what she meant and that fact didn't make me any less embarrassed. Poor Hannah had confused Pilgrims and Native Americans and she was quite certain that she was staring at a real live Pilgrim even if she had her terms incorrect! I quietly tried to shush her and explain that no, they weren't Native Americans, that she meant Pilgrims, but they weren't Pilgrims either, they were Amish and they were dressed that way because of the church they belonged to. UGH! I never saw that coming and had no prepared answer for reminding my daughter not to shout "Look Ma! Indians!" at poor unsuspecting Amish just out enjoying their Micky D's! I guess 3 year olds don't care much about political correctness!

A second McDonald's story occurred somewhere in CT. Because Rhode Island seems to have something against the indoor playplace in fast food restaurants, we happen to know the location of every one of them within a 30 minute drive from our house. Through trial and error (and a badly in need of updating McDonald's website) Hannah has learned how to tell if a McDonald's once had an outdoor playground that has now been converted into an outdoor dining area. The reason for getting rid of the playground we've explained to Hannah is that it was old and unsafe and they had to take it out. When pulling into the above mentioned McDonald's in CT Hannah immediately spotted the tell-tale "astro turf" and fence around the front of the restaurant and matter-of-factly informed me, "That playplace was old so they took it out just like Grandpa's teeth." I about peed my pants I laughed so hard. Someone's gotta teach that girl not to do that to a person badly in need of a bathroom break after many hours on the road!

Now for 3 completely random statements that we heard from the backseat of the van, in no particular order.

"Mom! When I grow up I'm going to be a truck driver." Do truck drivers wear tutus? What do you think?

"Don't call me baby (Kyle had just referred to her as baby). I don't like it. (at least she can use her words to tell us what she does and doesn't like!) Call me walnut. Mommy, you can call me acorn. Wait! I'll give you choices. You can pick acorn, apple, or pear." Seriously, where DOES she come up with these things? At least I got choices. Did you notice how Kyle didn't even get choices!?!

"When I grow up, I hope I get a baby in my tummy." How's that for a line that's sure to give a daddy a heart attack?

And then later the same day, "When I grow up I want to be a mommy and have six babies in my tummy and have a husband." Not an impossible goal I suppose in this day and age with reproductive technology and all, but I would have liked for the statement about a husband to come BEFORE the proclamation about the babies in her tummy!