Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another day of Christmas

The girls spent the first half of their vacation with their father in Florida. We waited to open presents until they got back on the 26th. The boys didn't even complain about having to wait. I'm sure Ahren didn't understand, but Levi did and not one peep. Amazing.

We got Levi his own professional style Chef's coat and hat. He loves to cook and he was thrilled. 
Looks like a wrapping paper tornado raged through our living room.
Levi watching intently as Kaytee opens a gift.
Look, a gift card! (What do you get for a picky teenager?????)
Ahren concentrating so hard.
Ashley showing us what her sister bought her. (Awww, with her own money, too!)
What do you think is in this box? 
Waiting oh-so-patiently for his turn. 
Mom, please, stop with the pictures!!!!
Daddy's present showed up in the back yard. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A day in the life.....

I am going to give you a rare glimpse into a normal day here at Chez Chaos. It is not pretty. You have been warned!

Kids bathroom. The little roller thing seems to be missing from the toilet paper holder. A search of all places imaginable does not turn up roller thingy. Add roller thingy to shopping list.

Repeat eleventy zillion times: Put on your shoes 

Find strange red waxy substance on door molding. Smelling confirms it to be cherry chapstick. Great! My doors will not have to suffer from chapped lips this winter. Ask children, "Who was playing with my chapstick?" Get blank stares and a chorus of, 'Not me!'. 
Stop banging into the walls.  Leave you pants on. Get off the counter. Get your finger out of your nose. When was the last time you brushed your teeth? Don't sit on your brother. 

Locate missing pirate dagger in pantry and give back to now happy 5 year old. 
Explain to 5 year old why you cannot see your own forehead. 
Get the oil changed in vehicle times 2.
Feed, water and potty the littles numerous times. The biggers are on their own, including Daddy.

Discover pretty pink lip print on towel closet door. Hmm, it's about the height of one 5 year old but that isn't his color! Don't even ask this time. Assume son has become a closet cross dresser and move makeup to higher drawer. 

Hey, I mean it, when was the last time you brushed your teeth? What, you can't find your tooth brush? I just bought new ones for everyone. Begin toothbrush search and discover it on top of Mac hard drive. Apply it not-so-gently to neglected teeth. 
Don't step in the mud. Wipe your nose. Eat this, don't eat that, stop it. Stop it. Stop it. 

Tell son what infinity means. 

Boys want to play fetch with dog, can't find her ball. Oh, there it is. Again with the pantry. 
ashley's my favorite!!!! 
thats why i got her the best christmas presents:)

Attempt to blog, leave for a moment to stop WWF smackdown in the living room and find the blog has been bogarted by my second child. 

When is lunch????

Friday, December 26, 2008

Leading up to Christmas Day

The festivities started a week ago around here as the munchkins shared gifts with each other. Ahren was not too sure about what to do so Nanny helped him open his gifts. (The munckins are the 4 kiddos nanny watches, Ahren, Levi, Mina and Holly)
Mina was so excited to get a 'Dismey Pwincess' costume. 
The kids all helped each other as they took turns opening gifts. (I don't know why Levi is in pj's. At least he isn't naked)
Ahren had to be convinced to put down the first toy and open another gift, but soon he got the hang of things. 
Holly got some assistance from her Mommy and Nanny too. 
Mina's Mommy showed up with a bag of presents slung over her shoulder like Santa Claus!

We decorated sugar cookies. Or should I say, we obliterated sugar cookies with massive amounts of frosting and sprinkles. I took the boys shirts off because it is easier to get brightly colored frosting off of skin than fabric! (They went straight from the table to the tub)
Glad I didn't use the flash cuz we all might have been blinded by the glare. Poor kid, he is pigmentally challenged. 

I don't know why I put down newspaper. It only contained a small portion of the errant sprinkles. What I should have done is set them up in the driveway instead, with hose at the ready....
Chris surprised me with an early gift. I have been lusting after one of these for a long time. I mean, who wouldn't love a robot that cleans your floors for you while you sleep?

But that wasn't all....he got me TWO Roombas (Roombi?) Ignore the cheesy little face that had to get into the shot. Focus on the beauty of two automatic cleaning devices all for ME! 

We let Levi name them, so may I present to you Bob (on the left) and Tokyo (in white). Bob and Tokyo. I love you guys!!! (Chris, I know that cleaning devices are not considered romantic but you have made me so very, very happy!!!!!)
And here is Tokyo in action. (See the kitchen play set? I got it for a steal at the kids consignment shop. It's all hard wood and hand crafted. Score!)
My bestest Christmas present. Seeing one small curly headed tot here in our home, enjoying the holidays with us, giving us hugs and kisses and yelling, 'My turn, my turn' as the boys played together. I cannot even put into words how much my heart swells when I look at him. 
And one last Christmas miracle. PBJ's foster mother got permission to visit her in the orphanage today. She will let us know how she is doing and send pictures, and drop off some of the clothes we brought her in August. Miracle baby!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Joy to the World, and I need a nap!

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house two little boys tried to be as quiet as a mouse. Dressed in their jammies and ready for bed, the Elf on a Shelf book quietly read. A plate full of cookies and milk to enjoy, they left it for Santa from each little boy. The stockings were hung, the tree lights all lit, it was time for bed in just a bit. Asleep they must be for Santa to stop so off to bed they went with a skip and a hop.

The morning dawned early with boys wide awake, well maybe not Ahren, a while it did take. They waited patiently for daddy to say Go, then they knew it would be time for the big Santa show.
There was a little peeking to see what they could, but they did wait quite nicely as little boys should.

Daddy yelled Go and the boys came on out see what they got with a whoop and a shout.

A Spiderman, a shooting gallery, it was all quite amazing! It was still dark outside but our lights were all blazing.
Santa enjoyed the refreshments we left, and I'm sure all the frosting helped add to his heft. 
Levi tried the duck game and got quite the score. The ducks just kept coming, there was more and some  more.
Look here Ahren, look what we got. I can shoot ducks with just one shot.
Ahren tried his hand and thought it great fun. Let's shoot them all with this handy black gun!
Stockings were emptied with a quick turn and shake. The contents were out for all to partake.To be continued....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Go ahead, laugh at me

Here we are just mere days, nay HOURS, from Christmas 2008. As I admitted before the plan was to have Chris do the bulk of the holiday shopping. I played the supporting role, making tons of holiday goodies, getting gifts for teachers and friends, but leaving the meat of the buying to him. It. Was. Killing. me!!!! And that is no understatement. I was having difficulty sleeping. Having panic attacks. Night sweats. Terror. Christmas is supposed to be MAGICAL for children. And this very first Christmas for Ahren is more important to me than I wanted to admit. I have 2 other holidays to make up for. 

I cracked like a great big faberge egg on a roller coaster. I finally asked Chris if he might want a little help and fessed up that I had a contingency plan already in place. he laughed and laughed and then told me, 'Thank you'. Whew. He needed my help. (Or at least he let me believe he needed my help. I prefer to believe that he was in a desperate panic himself and I saved him from certain failure.....) So I shopped and placed orders and organized a well-thought-out holiday for all, while simultaneously spending much less than usual. Oh the deals I got! My best buy was a large water play table that folds up into a carrying case. It retailed for $79.99 regularly and I got it for .......are you ready?..........$4.99 and free shipping.  Seriously! And it is NICE! 

I always have a hard time buying for some people. The answer there is gift cards. I know, it kind of sucks to not really have a present to open, but I think of it more as the gift that gives in more than one way. Not only do you get to choose what you want, you have the enjoyment of getting out and doing the choosing yourself. See? It's win:win! 

So this year I bought several hundred dollars worth of gift cards at our local grocery store. I managed to buy for many different people all at once! Seeing as how I started so late this seemed like sheer genius to me. When I got home I placed all of the cards in a small bag along with the receipts and the activation info and then I put the bag in a safe place. (Did anyone else just feel that cold chill pass thru them?) 

This past week I went to pull out the cards and put them into gifts. They weren't where I remembered putting them. They weren't near where I remembered putting them. They weren't even where I DIDN'T remember putting them. OMG! I asked everyone if they remembered seeing them. Not one person even KNEW what I was talking about! We are talking serious panic. If I had to re-purchase all the cards my budget for the holidays was SHOT. I couldn't even remember who all I had bought for, nor what I had gotten them. I am a total idiot!!!! (The irony did not escape me at this point) 

I searched for days. I hated myself. I planned how to find an extra $400 in the budget without Chris knowing. I thought about running away and joining the circus (only the thought of spandex stopped me). And then, last night, I dreamed. I dreamed about the bag of cards. I dreamed about where I moved them to after I decided the first place was not good enough. It was clear and realistic and so detailed!

I awoke this morning and headed straight for the spot I saw in my dream. Guess what I found? The gift cards. Right where my subconscious told me I put them. 

Go ahead. Laugh. Consider that your holiday gift form me. Oh, and YES, I am blonde. sigh...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Peri Brynn part three

After we got Peri Brynn settled into a new family she began to gain weight and grow rapidly. They sent me pictures often and she looked better and better each time. She began to re-learn a lot of what she lost. 

As you know, the injuries (oh yes, there was evidence of a previous head injury!) were no accidents. This precious baby had suffered at the hands of someone. Unfortunately, in Guatemala, a small mayan girl is of no importance and no one there cared that she had been abused. That was a tough pill to swallow but this process has taught me a lot about accepting what we cannot change. 

In January the agency requested that we again change PBJ's foster family. There was a big problem with a former employee of theirs making threats against the foster families and the children. I hated to move her yet again but they stressed that they could not insure her safety where she was.

That is when an angel named Astrid came into our lives. Astrid was to be PBJ's new foster mother and she showed a great love and affection for our precious girl. Under Astrid's care Peri began to blossom. She began to sit up, to crawl, to use her legs again, to stand, and eventually to walk holding onto something. Astrid worked tirelessly, visiting the doctor's office every 2 weeks, spending hours working the muscles in her trunk and legs. 

In August we went to GC to bring Ahren home and to visit Peri Brynn. She was a completely different child! Still the tiniest little peanut even though she was just shy of her second birthday. She was almost walking independently but boy could she scoot around the floor fast! She was funny and happy and well attached to Astrid and her family. Although it killed me, I decided not to keep PBJ with us in the hotel. Her attachment was so important and I didn't want to do anything to stress her. We saw her two different days and loved on her as much as we could. 

I met with her lead doctor and reviewed her medical files. She had recently had another CT scan and evaluation (at our expense). The excess fluid in her head was resolving and she was doing wonderfully! Only time would tell if she would have any permanent issues but for now she was exceeding all expectations!!!
She is our miracle. Our daughter. Our teeny tiny angel with the BIG personality!
At the end of August 2008 all birth mother interviews had to be completed through PGN or the cases would be closed and the child would be declared abandoned. Our case was stuck in the court of Minor's but our lawyer made arrangements to get the file from the court and bring in the birth mother for the crucial interview.

Things went horribly, terribly wrong. The birth mother is very shy, does not speak spanish (she speaks a Mayan dialect) and is terrified of the authorities. The PGN interviewers decided that she was most likely incompetent and they seized Peri Brynn and sent her off to an unknown orphanage and sent her case to a new court. Astrid was devastated! We were devastated! But Peri Brynn, she must have been terrified. I cannot imagine the terror this little one felt. it makes me sick to my stomach to think about her all alone yet again. 

Ever since then we have been trying to find her, to see if we can get the judge to release her back to foster care with Astrid, to do the right thing! We have a court date of march 5th, 2009 (gee, how speedy is their court system.....) 

So where is all of this leading? Please go to this website http://www.remar.org.gt, click on 'album' and then open the picture on the bottom left. The picture of a little girl and a baby on a red couch. 

What teeny tiny little angel do you see????

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peri Brynn continued

We had delay after dealy and I just couldn't wait so I booked another trip to visit. This time Peri Brynn was 9 months old and a pure delight. She was happy, healthy and the most adorable little pixie I had ever seen. I spent the week holding her, loving on her and just absorbing everything about her that I could. Again, I cried so hard when I had to give her back, but this time i thought I would be coming back to bring her home soon. 

Then, in October of 2007, just before her first birthday, I got a call that changed everything. Peri Brynn was very sick. She was in the hospital. The agency told me I needed to get to Guatemala right away. They didn't know if she would live. I had no idea what was wrong or what I would find when I arrived, but I booked the tickets and headed off all alone to see my girl. 

When I arrived, I caught a ride to the hospital and what I found tore the absolute heart out of my chest. Peri Brynn was in a bed, pinned to the sheets to keep her safe, barely moving and barely responsive. The doctor came in and talked to me. She showed me that Peri's skull had a large fracture in it, that she had swelling of the brain and that she had suffered many,many seizures. It was amazing she was still alive. In addition, she was malnourished, had un-treated parasites and an infection.
I left the hospital and could barely function. The next morning, i returned to the hospital and told the doctor I wanted to nurse her back to health. I paid all the bills and they released her to me. I took her back to my hotel and did what I needed to do. 

She was so small and so pathetic. Even at the age of 1 year old, she had lost all ability to sit up, to control her hands, to do almost anything. She was much like a newborn again. 
She had the most vacant look. Her hands curled into her body, useless. She seemed so lost. 

Her little feet curled up, too, a sign of the damage to her brain. I endlessly massaged her hands, legs, feet, and arms to help relax and un-curl them. 
I gave her injections daily to treat the infection, medicine to treat the seizures, medicine to reduce the pressure on her brain.

She began to improve, almost by the hour. She ate and ate and ate! She began to respond to me. She reached her little fists out to me. Her eyes tracked me as I walked around the hotel room. She would not let me get out of her sight. 

i found a new foster family for her and made arrangements forher to continue seeing her doctors regularly. We paid her foster fees, therapy bills, doctor bills and money to buy her the things she needed (medicine, a walker, clothes, etc)

To be continued.....

Peri Brynn

I have been thinking about Peri Brynn a lot lately. We were matched with her when she was just a few hours old. I already had a trip scheduled to visit Ahren and so I got to meet PBJ when she was just 6 days old. She was so tiny and so perfect. My heart was gone, gone, gone.

She had the most impossibly tiny nose. She was also very alert for a newborn. I sat up all night holding her sleeping in my arms, just breathing in her scent and feeling her skin. That rip in October 2006 went way too fast and I cried so hard when I had to give her back. 

Her case began to fly along. Within a month we had DNA results, 99.9%. Yahoo! I just knew soon she would be home with us, safe and sound in our arms for good.
By March our agency was telling  us she would be out of PGN any day. Considering how our other adoption (of Ahren) was going, this seemed like the miracle we had been waiting for!

Then, we found out we had been kicked out of PGn and there were going to be problems. 

To be continued......