Thursday, April 27, 2006

Phun with Photoshop Phriday

I'm a dweeb, and these are really simple effects, but I thought they looked cool. So there. ;)

[Click on a picture to enlarge]

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Spring Has Sprung

Oh, how I love this time of year. The budding trees, the green grass, the chirping birds. The smell of clean air blowing in through open windows. The presence of the radiant *sun* that we've been missing for months. Ahh, glorious spring, you soothe my inner soul.

I definitely get "spring cleaning fever" this time of year. I want to organize, sort, clean and disinfect everything in the house. Looking into the closets and junk drawer(s) makes me drool. It's sick, I know.

Over the last week, I've been switching out the kids clothes from winter to summer. I emptied the drawers and closets of the clothes that don't fit my munchkins anymore, or are too warm for summer. I looked at each outfit, realizing that it might be the last time I dress one of my kids in it. And after the nostalgia wore off, I got down to business.

Since we moved into this house 13 months ago, the basement has been in a state of "being finished." Mark and his Dad have made a lot of progress, but there is still a lot to do to finish. When they started the project, they built some super-sturdy shelves in the store room. And then they packed a ton of stuff on the shelves and the floor of the store room so that they could work on finishing the rest of the basement (a rec room and an office). Now, being that I've got "the fever," I asked Mark to get down all of the kid clothes boxes so I could organize it all. It was a huge task for him to find all of the boxes (we're still currently missing one), and to haul them out, and I couldn't really help since I am not supposed to lift with my broken arm. He did it all himself, and I'm grateful.

After sorthing through everything, there were almost 10 boxes worth of hand-me-downs that I hadn't put away in the proper boxes yet, plus all of the winter clothes that needed to be packed away. And then I got the brilliant idea to relabel all of the boxes with neater labels. It was a very time-consuming task, indeed.

Now the kids' closets look neat and tidy. When all is said and done, we have [prepare yourself] fifty-nine paper boxes of kid clothes (girls up to size 6 and boys up to size 8). Before you start to wonder exactly how much Mark's salary is, realize that most of those are hand-me-downs (thanks to my sisters and Abby's birthfather's family). It's an awful lot of clothes, that's for sure. And the 59 boxes don't even include kids shoes... I guess I know what my next project is. Good thing I've still got "the fever!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Abby My Angel

I promised long ago that I would write about Abby's entrance into our lives, but have yet to do it. Until today, that is. :)
To tell Abby's story, we must start a couple of months prior.

In July of 2003, another baby (a baby boy) was born to a mother who had made a tentative adoption plan and made a connection with us as adoptive parents. In the final hour, the mother made the decision to parent the baby herself. As much as we had prepared ourselves emotionally for such a situation, Mark and I still had to grieve.

Over the next few weeks, we did some major spring cleaning both emotionally and physically. We spent a lot of time crying, we spent a lot of time avoiding, we spent a lot of time numb. And we spent a lot of time regaining hope, a lot of time starting fresh, and a lot of time coming to peace. We sorted through all of our belongings, using the nursery as a centralized area for extra furniture, boxes, etc. It became so full of all of the "stuff" in our lives, we could barely get the door open.

We took long walks, and talked for long hours. Through our talks, we decided that the time was right to move back to our hometown. Moving back was always in our plans, but the timing was just unclear. We had been away for 6 years, and missed our family so very much. Mark had built up his resume enough to get a job in a less technical city. It was time to come home.

We connected with a realtor in our city even before Mark started looking for jobs. The realtor came to our house to assess its value and to give us tips on how to get ready to sell. We ended the meeting feeling good about the prospect of selling, and looked forward to moving on to the next chapter of our lives.

Little did we know what would be written in that chapter. The very next day, just as Mark arrived home from work, the phone rang.

Me: "Hello?"
Agency Rep (AR): "Hi, Trista. Umm.... are you sitting down?"
Me, a bit learily: "Do I need to be...?"
AR: "We met with a potential birthmother today about a baby girl who was born yesterday. She decided to make an adoption plan, and chose you from the profiles she viewed."
Me: [stunned silence]
AR: "You are going to be parents! Congratulations!"
Me: "Oh my gosh! I can't believe it! This is unbelievable!" [and so on]
AR: "We need to go back to the hospital tonight and have the birthmother and her mother sign the legal guardianship transfer papers, because she is a minor. And it looks like you can take the baby home tomorrow."

The AR filled me in on some of the details... the birthparents were 16 and 15 years old, and were no longer dating but were friends. The birthmom (M.) had hidden her pregnancy from her family until 2 weeks before. M. wanted to parent. Her family couldn't see how that was possible, and her grandmother encouraged her to look into adoption. M. finally looked at profiles after her baby Anna was born (Anna is Abby's birthname). She chose us, but didn't want to meet us then. Our agency still had to contact Abby's birthfather regarding the adoption.

I hung up the phone and filled Mark in on what he hadn't heard. We were both so leary of getting our hearts set on becoming parents that we downplayed it. We still felt raw from the adoption that didn't happen. Shortly after the call, Mark left for a scheduled meeting he had, and I was home alone.

I was on pins and needles. Who could I talk to about this? I needed to talk to someone, but I didn't want to call family until we knew it was going to happen for sure. As much as Mark and I were grieving, our whole family was grieving and I didn't want to bring them back up the rollercoaster with me this time. I called my friend Jennifer, trying not to sound like it was a done deal but getting hopeful. I called my friend Jenny, trying to sound equally non-challant but becoming even more excited.

I finally got off the phone and the AR called around 10:15. She had been trying to call for quite awhile and the phone was busy (oops). She informed me that M. and her mom had signed the paperwork granting us temporary custody, and that M. had checked herself out of the hospital. We could arrive at the hospital the next day at 10:30 to take Abby home. In twelve hours, we would see our daughter for the first time. I could barely process the news.

Just after I hung up, Mark's car pulled in. I shared all of the news with him, and we finally felt it was as "official" as it was going to get. We called our parents and siblings, waking some of them up. Everyone was shocked and excited and hopeful.

Mark cleaned out the nursery until 1:00 in the morning. It was good that he had something to do - we couldn't sleep anyway. I got out the little girl baby clothes and put them in the drawers, got the diapers ready, made sure the baby bag was packed and ready to go. In the morning, we arrived at the hospital right on time and were taken to a private room where the precious baby was brought in with her hospital bassinet.

She was the most beautiful baby I had seen, but she was so unfamiliar to me. I took her out of the bassinet and held all 7 pounds of her. She was so light, and so fragile. I studied her face, her hair, her beauty, her very long fingers. I finally handed her over to Mark. He awkwardly took this very small baby into his very long arms and stood in the middle of the hospital room, crying. I put my arms around them both and we shared our first family hug. Mark and I cried, and Abby just slept. I will never forget seeing Mark that way, so vulnerable and emotional. It makes me cry now remembering.

We spent the next three hours in the hospital room with Abby while we waited for her final test for jaundice so she could be released. We fed her, took off all of her clothes and examined every inch of her wrinkly little body, sang to her, rocked her, cooed at her. We bonded. And then we took her home. To be our precious daughter. For life.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What a difference a year makes!

Here are pictures of Abby in the same outfit in February 2005 and April 2006. The capri pants looked like regular pants last year. My, how our little girl has grown!

February 2005 (32 inches tall)

April 2006 (35 1/2 inches tall)

Monday, April 17, 2006

One of the ways Mark "Completes Me" (gag gag)

Mark is forever coming up with fun and spontaneous things to do with Abby and Ethan. And I am the one who comes up with a million reasons not to do them (they will want to do this EVERY day and it's just not possible, they don't know the difference between painting that old piece of furniture and painting my dining room table, they will miss their much-needed naps if we go there today, etc.) I can be a fuddy-duddy, I suppose. I am too darn practical.

Mark is the one who says, "let's have a picnic lunch on the deck on Good Friday even though the sky is full of clouds and we're almost certain to be rained out." [Well, he didn't actually say those words - it doesn't sound like a normal conversation, does it?] Anyway, when Mark makes such a statement, I see impending doom - kids disappointed because the rain ruined their lunch, a daughter spending the whole meal running away into the weeds behind our house, 2 kids who will never sit at the kitchen table again because the blanket outside is so much more fun. But Mark throws me one of his famous looks that says "lighten up, Lovest, it's just a picnic!" Who can argue with that? So we enjoyed lunch under the cloudy sky, in the fresh air, sitting on Mark's old college blanket and noticing the first signs of spring. And you know what? It didn't even rain. Abby stayed on the blanket and actually ate her lunch. And a few hours later, the kids ate dinner at the kitchen table without a complaint. I guess Mark was right... this time. ;)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ethan is a Big Boy

Tonight, Ethan transitioned out of the crib and into the toddler bed. How can my little boy be old enough for that?? I suppose it's about time, since he is 22 months old and has been scaling the side of his crib for a few months now. I listen to other moms I know who have kids who would NEVER attempted the crib escape, and I wonder "how did I get so lucky?" Abby climbed out the moment she was tall enough, and lucky for us she was pretty petite and wasn't successful until about 20 months (although we're confident she started trying as soon as she could stand). Ethan is far less adventuresome, but still could not ignore the siren's song beckoning him to get out of bed and go downstairs to play. The past few weeks, he has really pressed his luck. No sooner would we lay him down then we would wait for the "THUNK" and the pitter-patter of clumsy little feet. He'd always look surprised when we were there to greet him at his doorway, ready to usher him back to his baby-cage. How did we know he was out of bed?

We hyped up the big-boy bed so much it almost made Abby want to trade rooms. For the first night, the hype was successful because Ethan fell asleep without even trying to get out. An hour later, we're still trying to get his sister to stay in bed, but Ethan is zonked out. We have learned from our first parent-trainer that there is always calm before the storm... soon he will realize that the Big Boy Bed is an easier (and quieter) escape than the crib. He's a smart boy and we give him about 2-1/2 days. ;)

Nice form, huh?

Ethan helps Daddy convert the crib to a toddler bed.
Power tools and testosterone!

All Done!

Blissful slumber... so far!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Welcome to my Cast Party

The prognosis for my broken wrist: 4-1/2 weeks in a "short cast." The fracture is not displaced, so it should be an easy heal. Thank goodness! I can't pick anything up with my left arm (like kids, for instance) but I now have use of my thumb again, which has made a huge difference. Try putting socks and shoes on with one hand --- it poses quite the challenge.

My parents and Mark's parents have been incredibly helpful this past week. My mom spent three days helping me manage the kids, making dinner for us, and watching the kids with my dad while I went to get my cast on. Mark's parents spent all day yesterday helping me because Mark was out of town. I was able to nap for 5 hours! I didn't know I had it in me. I really appreciate all of their help. Of course, my biggest aide has been Mark who has taken over all the household duties without a complaint. He even washes my hair in the tub. What a guy. :)

The magical cast removal date is May 11th, which is easy to remember for me because it is my sister Becky and her husband Eric's 21st wedding anniversary. If you would like to virtually sign my cast, please leave a comment. You can bet the events from my "springtime from hell" will make it into my scrapbook, as will any comments you leave. A girls' gotta scrapbook, you know!! ;)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The 101st Thing About Me

In my previous posts about my"100 Things," I neglected to mention an interesting fact.

101. I have never broken a bone.

Apparently, this fact is no longer true. The Med Center called today to inform me that there was indeed a fracture that appeared on the x-ray, a break to my distal radius, near the wrist. It is a broken arm bone and not the tiny hand bone that the "good doctor" feared. I guess it takes three days to diagnose such a complicated fracture {insert oodles of sarcasm here}.

I have an appt with my doctor Friday afternoon. It may get moved up, I'm not sure yet. I sit in fear of weeks of limited mobility with my arm in a cast, while my two angels take over the house (bwahahahahaha). Help!

The bright side: I have learned something about myself this week. I can type darn fast with one hand.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Well That's Not Good!

(Posted by Trista's husband, in a lame attempt to help Trista out in any way possible)

So, the tiny rain cloud that has been hanging out over Trista's head the last couple of months continues to follow her. This time it decided to lob a little lightning bolt at her when she was leaving the Children's Museum. Who would have known that giving our daughter a piggy-back ride could be so dangerous? But it was over before it had really started. Trista tried to stand up too quickly, didn't have her balance, and stumbled backwards. Abby and Trista tumbled onto the sidewalk on their backs.

Yikes! (or "Ikes!" as Abby would say).

Abby was pretty shaken up about the experience and was crying. Trista was not crying, but she was the one who was really in pain. She came down on her left hand pretty hard, and moving it was not a good experience. Within the next couple of moments, she had to sit down a few times to keep from passing out, and she turned a few sad shades of greenish-white.

Abby and Ethan went home with my mom and dad while Trista and I went to the med center. It never really fills you with confidence when the doctor says something like, "This is where it really hurts, right? Well that's not good!"

After x-rays of her wrist, they are considering it a bad sprain for now... but they also noted that the place where she had pain is a very small bone, and a fracture might not really show up until the swelling goes down. If she's still in lots of pain at the end of the week, they'll just have to take another x-ray. (The "nice" doctor also noted that "Yeah, if that bone is broken it will not heal easily. I guess honesty is a good thing).

So, for a week, Trista has the challenge of trying to take care of two crazy toddlers by herself, with one hand tied behind her back... er... in front of her stomach... or something. You get the idea.

Feel free to send well-wishes and encouragement. I'm sure she can use it! She can read her blog posts and email, but might not do a whole lot of responding at this point. Also, if you know any way of driving away annoying little rain-clouds and bad luck, please share!