International Adoption Book

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

This past week was very fun (and tiring) for us. We went to California to visit my parents for the holiday. Just as importantly, we also inventoried and improved the guesthouse that the kids and I will be living in while Matt is deployed next year. Here are a few of the things Matt (and Pop) did to help make our stay more comfortable:
* Installed a new gas heater (it looks like a fireplace... And it looks fabulous)
* Installed a screen door (to help ventilate the house during those horrendously hot summer months)
* Replaced the screens on most of the windows
* Set up the kids' bunk bed
* Brought down my grandfather's daybed and trundle for my use in the living room (it will double as our couch)
* Removed the full sized bed that was being stored there for a family friend so the kids and I would have more room
* Helped me clean the space and organize the house a bit
I fully admit that they did a fabulous job on the entire project! The only things left for me to do when I return next March is to replace one of the steps that have rotted out (so the kids and I don't slip and fall) and clean and organize just a tad more. Dad said he will face the fireplace surround (which didn't get completed while we were home due to a time constraint). Matt helped Pop install the heater, which was Pop's domain, but otherwise completed many of the projects on his own.

Thansgiving day was wonderful, although M was sick for the first few days we were down there (as usual; he seems to get sick every time we go there, poor guy). The only ones missing were my brother and his family and my grandmother. Otherwise it, too, was fabulous. My mom had most of the food prepared before we arrived, which left much of the time open for me to help clean, organize and inventory the guest house (a blessing, for sure). The guestlist comprised of Grandpa, Nonno and his girlfriend, Barbara, Mom and Pop, my sister, her fiance and their 3 children along with her sister-in-law, and me, Matt and our 2 kiddos. Dinner included (as my niece and nephew say) my mom's "World Famous Noodles" (homemade egg noodles), turkey and ham that my dad b-b-q'ed, olives (that my dad grew, cooked and marinated himself... Oh they are yummy) and an assortment of other goodies for condiments, mashed potatoes, stuffing, homemade rolls, and an amazing green bean dish that was laced with sliced almonds. There was too much food placed on the table along with desert for me to remember each and every dish. Needless to say... Our Thanksgiving was spectacular and was especially nice since it will be Matt's last before he returns from his deployment in 2010.

We drove home on Saturday morning. We enjoyed a farewell breakfast at our local restaraunt at 8:30 and were headed north by 9:30. It was a later start than we had hoped for, but it was worth the extra time spent there. Our drive was quiet and took only 13 hours and included all our gas, food, and bathroom stops. I didn't drive much (just 3 or 4 hours at the most) and ended up falling asleep around 8:00. I did wake up again around 9:00 but was way too groggy to help Matt drive those last 2 1/2 hours. I did talk to him every once in a while, though! lol!!!

This morning found me up around 5:30 with M following me down an hour later. Poor Matt woke up just after C did around 7:30-8:00. I didn't have anything in the house for breakfast, so off to McD's Matt went.

After breakfast we sent the kids upstairs to play and watch TV so Matt and I could get our house reorganized and prepared for our Christmas decorations. We even had enough time to pull the Christmas stuff out and set most of it up. We'll finish things up tomorrow and will get pictures posted!!! Can't wait to show everything off, cuz it looks great (even if I do say so myself). We actually had our neighbors all out at one time or another just to see our progress throughout the day... It was fun!

Hope you all had as wonderful a week as we had... HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What a day for my gang!!!!

It's just after 11:00am and I've had the greatest day already!

C actually slept ALL night. She fell asleep around 6:30 last night and didn't wake up until 6:30 this morning... What a relief after the last few weeks of sleeplessness. The poor thing was so tired that when Matt woke her up and sent her to bed she was actually sleep walking. We figured this out because she stumbled on the stairs on her way up and as I bent over to help her get up I noticed her eyes were closed... Plus, she was snoring! My poor angel has had such a hard time sleeping lately, so she really needed this.

Then, to top off my day, I just received an email from M's reading teacher about his performance in her class this morning. Since M was diagnosed with ADHD in late August I've been adamant about not medicating him. But, the drastic improvements in M's self confidence and school performance has proved that medication may not be all bad. In fact, in M's case it has become a miracle drug. M's nearly daily pronouncement is, "Mommy... I was a good boy. I focussed today!" In addition to all the positives that have been happening at school with his work he is also having better communication with friends both at school and at home. What a miracle this medication has been for M!!!

The email I received from M's reading teacher: "Just an FYI....M Rocks! He did a great job of staying on task, reading aloud, and working on his decoding pages! This was a truly great day!"

Update: At 1:10 this afternoon I got a call from M's Reading Para (Teacher's Assistant)/ELL Teacher. She initially called to let me know that the school may have placed M in the ELL class (English Language Learner Class) unofficially. I kind of thought that was the case, but really wanted to give him every opportunity to learn to speak more fluently so we agreed to allow him in the class. But, the teacher called to let me know that this may be an unauthorized placement, which means he would have to be removed. But, while she was on the phone, she told me how impressed she was with M's recent improvements. She was just stunned at M's reading ability today. In fact, she thought that M had been getting extra help at home... That's how well he did today. I had to tell her that though M does get extra reading and math help at home, he hasn't gotten any more than usual. I think the medication is finally helping M to concentrate and focuss enough to learn!!! More importantly, I think M will be getting a special treat today for doing so well... If he did well enough that two seperate teachers contacted me with his impressive improvement then he definitely deserves a treat (and C will get one for sleeping so well, too)!!!

Buying New Books Soon?

Barnes and Noble Bookstores are making donations to Families with
Children from China.

For all purchases at Barnes and Noble on Sunday, December 7, at any or
their stores nationwide, a percentage of all sales will go to FCC
(Families with Children from China). This organization does a lot of
wonderful work for the children of China and the orphanages are a huge
part of their work.

Please mention code 428490 when you make a purchase on Sunday, December
7 at any Barnes and Noble Bookstore. This does NOT apply to on line
orders but DOES apply to orders made over the phone and mailed to you.

Thank you!

Beth _____________
Board of Directors

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chuck E Cheese...

Here's the deal we made with M:

Each day M draws happy faces on the white board representing all the positive feedback he got from his teachers for the day. The goal is to show him that positive behaviors get rewards in the hopes that it will encourage him to have better days at school.

At the end of each week we tally up all the happy faces. If M received 10 - 19 happy faces then he gets to go with Daddy to get an ice cream cone! If he gets 20 (average is 4/day) or more happy faces then he gets treated to Chuck E Cheese's!!! Since starting this idea more than a month ago, M has gotten to have ice cream twice now, but he had not achieved the ultimate goal of Chuck E Cheese's.

This week was a touch different because it was parent/teacher conference week so Wednesday, Thursday and Friday he only attended school from 8:00 to 11:30. Plus, there was no school on Tuesday in recognition of Veterans' Day. So, we didn't make him achieve 20. Rather, we asked him to get 14 happy faces (which would have equated to 24 for a regular week; this seemed to be a nearly impossible request considering he had yet to meet the standard to go to Chuck E Cheese).

M actually got 5 happy faces on Monday, 4 on Wednesday, 4 on Thursday and 4 on Friday!!! He performed so well this week that he surpassed what we asked him to do by 3 happy faces!

So, off we went to Chuck E Cheese... And boy did we all have fun. We actually allowed both kids to meander around by themselves; we chose a table with a view of the entire place so we could keep an eye on them, of course, but they got to feel like big kids. M especially deserved the treat and was allowed to enjoy himself to the extreme!!! What a reward!!! I hope he can do it again!!! (Above are the front and back of the cards M and C each made while we were there.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I wanted to share the email that M's reading teacher sent to me this evening. I couldn't have been more thrilled!!!

"M had a good day in reading today...another boy cut in front of him in line at the end of class...he just said to him hay you cut screaming no was a big change for him. GO M!"

Monday, November 3, 2008

What A Weekend...

We had our weekend planned to the hilt. On Saturday we intended on visiting Aunt D down south (an hour and a half away). We haven't seen them in nearly 3 months and since we live so close that is just unacceptable. Then Sunday we planned on going to IKEA (Thanks K for showing me that store... We're in trouble now). I had found a day bed that is the perfect addition and meets each and every one of our current and future needs. Unfortunately, the weekend didn't quite go as planned:

Saturday we packed the kids into the van and were just pulling out of the driveway when Matt's SGM phone needing some assistance for another soldier, which happens to be a vital part of Matt's job. So we unpacked the kids and off Matt went to assist the soldier in his emergency. By the time Matt arrived home it was far too late to head down south, so we stayed home and took down the Halloween decorations (thanks so much Ma).

Sunday we reloaded up the kids and headed north to go to IKEA. We only needed that one item, but one must walk the entire store to get to the checkout (or even find what you are looking for). There really are no short-cuts, which is a great way to encourage people to buy more during those impulse but moments. Unfortunately, they were still out of the day bed that I want. This actually was a blessing in disguise because I can order it online and have it shipped directly to my parents house (that will be our couch and my bed while we're living there during Matt's deployment; then it will become C's bed and a guest bed since it can expand to a king-sized element).

Since we rushed through IKEA and were finished with it with ample time to have a decent visit with everyone at Aunt D's house we decided to take the long drive down. We made it about an hour from our house when the van started acting funny. It was kind of scary because neither Matt nor I knew what was what. Thankfully, we were just coming up on an exit, so we pulled off the road. Matt put the van in park and revved the engine a bit. The van sounded and felt perfectly normal. But, just in case, we decided to head home. Matt put the van into drive and began pulling out onto the road. Sadly, the van didn't want to cooperate... It refused to leave 1st gear. So, we puttered across the overpass to the 76 station and called our insurance company for help and called Aunt D to let her know what we were doing.

We waited about an hour for a tow truck and Aunt D pulled in just before he arrived to take us to the car rental place. The gentleman who owned the rental shop was an angel. His was the only rental agency in the entire area and he was closed on Sundays. But he answered his phone and agreed to help out a soldier in need... I cannoth thank him enough!!!

Our van was towed to the local Mazda dealership. The poor specialist worked on it all day and is completely stumped as to what is causing the problem (or even what the problem seems to be). Hopefully we'll find out more tomorrow.

We truly thought our weekend was bad, but our friend's weekend was even worse... He has experienced identity theft... It can happen to all of us, so be careful!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Horrors

Poor M has been dealing with what seems to be an asthma attack that started late Tuesday evening. On Wednesday his asthma flared up dramatically and we've been fighting it like crazy cakes since then. He's finally getting better (I can tell a huge difference today). We didn't allow M to go outside and play since Tuesday so that we could get him over this attack swifter in the hopes of having a good night for Halloween. He still wasn't remotely up to par but was able to breathe enough to walk door to door.

Matt and I conned one of the "single soldiers" (a married Sergeant Major whose family is still residing at his previous duty station) to come to our house to pass out candy while Matt and I took the kids out trick-or-treating. His payment was a homecooked meal!

M dressed up as Obe-won-kanobe (sorry about the spelling) while C dressed up as a little witch. I had fun helping her get ready because she let me put make-up on her... She looked great and the first family we passed let us know that she looked pretty awesome!

The kids walked for four blocks during which time their baskets became about 1/2 filled. On post there are specific times that you may go out trick-or-treating: 6:00 - 8:00. We didn't even come close to utilizing that entire time! The kids had fun for about an hour. C started getting worn out and was ready to go home just 45 minutes after we left the house; in fact, Daddy had to carry her nearly the entire return trip. She began the journey with GREAT excitement (though not nearly as much as M). I think she used all of her energy too early in the night.