Sunday, May 31, 2009

So why did you go ahead and listen to me anyway?

The Dynamic Duo respond really well to bribery positive reinforcement and so we have been using nickels as the bribe incentive to go to the bathroom on their own at night and not waking us up when they have to go. As with most of their behavior, the competition factor really plays a big roll in how well they do as a team. If either child does not follow through on whatever the rule was, then we make a big deal about making sure that the one that has complied gets their nickel. By the next evening it is the norm around here to see progress for both. We use the nickels for most behaviors that we want improved and when they get to 20 nickels they get to go to the Dollar Spot at T*rget and pick a prize...not too bad eh?

Anyway, back to the big moves towards independence. Over the last couple of weeks they have both been going to the bathroom solo at night when nature calls and in the morning they are now going and not waking us up. After they use the bathroom they have been going back to their room and talking quietly just below the decibel count of a jet engine, but hey, at least they have been staying in their room.

Last evening, we arrived home really late from our friends home (The P Family.) I figured after their full night of fun and the late hour of our arrival at home that they would be so beat that they would sleep in. I was wrong (of course) but it all worked out quite nicely nonetheless. Marc left really early to play golf and I fell back to sleep after he left for all of 15 minutes, when I heard a sharp knock on my bedroom door. I told the kids to open up. Of course, it was not just one (it never is) but both of them. To my surprise, they were both fully dressed (and they looked good!) with their shoes on. They proudly shouted that they had gotten ready for the day and it was "time to get up because the sun is up now!" I guess they are true to the Rooster sign that they were born under since the sun seems more important than the hour of the day as a reason to get up!!

Thankfully, that sweet proclamation made waking up early a little easier to swallow since it brought a smile to my face. I got out of bed and walked into their room to find that they had even put away their PJ'!

It just goes back to the old adage about being careful what you wish for. The DD are growing up. I obviously promote the idea of their maturation. Hey, it's my job for goodness sake but I cannot help having mixed emotions about how fast it is all happening once again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One of those funny and very sweet moments I was waiting for

I knew that I would soon find a moment that would lift my mood and delay my entrance into the Preschool Protection program, if just for awhile ;-)

There have actually been quite a few of those sweet DD moments but this was the first one that I felt like blogging about so that must mean my funk is lifting.

Here we go...

The DD called out to me from their side of the house where they have a bedroom that they share, in addition to their playroom and an empty bedroom that is waiting until Ethan and Katie get to the point that they no longer want to share a room. That day does not look like it is anywhere on the horizon as you can see here...

Once I located them amidst the giggles and the mounds of blankets and stuffies that they had placed on the bed, I asked them what was going on. In unison, they both asked if they could sleep together every night in Katie's toddler bed....PLEASE!?! I told them no, and that they should be happy that they shared a room but there was no way that they were sharing a toddler bed (smirk). Then, Katie proceeded to let me know that it would be just great for them to sleep together because they could keep each other company and it would be "perfect" for them to be able to see the television that we place in their room in the same position that Mommy and Daddy have it so that they could lay there and watch it at night just like we do. Bwahahaha!

I don't think so kiddos but thanks for trying; it made my day!

**A special thank you to all of you that posted comments and sent me private emails. Your moral support and postive feedback really lifted my spirits. I needed that!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mama said there would be days like this

I obviously have never been good at listening to my mother or my husband or my son..yada, yada, yada. They all told me that there would be such days and of course I knew it as well but hell sometimes, it is just too mind numbing to bear. Being a mother to three, two of which are preschoolers and virtual twins as I enter into a new phase of my life....well, it just ain't pretty....if you get my drift!

I love, adore and cherish our "Dynamic Duo", as I like to call them but sometimes I really could use a break. Today, for example....we had our weekly Chinese Class, which has been moved to our home as we have not been able to get enough interest in our FCC Group to keep it at our local Chinese Cultural Center (not cost effective enough for them) and of course, two of the five children attending the class are mine. Now, the good thing about having it at our home is that it helps my VERY shy Katie come out of her shell and fully participate in the class. On the other hand, my quite "over the top" and definitely "not shy" Ethan is even more crazed than normal, if that can be believed. There was not much listening going on and that was totally on my last nerve today. At the end of the class, while I was trying to speak to the teacher, I had Ethan trying to get her attention by saying "excuse me" over and over, even though we both told him to wait until we finished speaking, while Katie was creating a melee next to us because she refused to share one of her toys with the other children. Yes, that brings us to the subject of sharing which has become quite an issue due to the fact that Ethan covets everything that Katie has. I think that both kids need to have a few of their own things but the E man does not subscribe to that theory, so he follows her around saying that Katie is being "mean" to him. On the other hand, you have Katie who feels that Ethan should always comply with her every request to interact with her or it is "Ethan is ignoring me!"

The DD have really been quite the handful lately. They are always in competition for our attention and I feel that I would truly like to change my name and sequester myself in the PPP (Preschool Protection Program) There is no way though that Marc wouldn't track me down like a dirty dog and bring me back. Why should he have to face the constant call for mom, MOM, MOMMY as well as DADDY all alone? Oh yes, it is just a tad overwhelming! Of course, the always right on cue, "Sorry Mom" repeated hourly by the mischief man, who literally is not really that sorry at all but loves to hear himself saying it, is also quite dulling to the senses. The fact that he always carries a spare tear in the corner of his eye for effect is also hugely compelling. To be honest, it is really not quite as compelling to us as it obviously is to others who do not know his shtick. With everyone else, the sympathy factor ALWAYS wins him points. Add this to the daily routine of life with little children and I said, I could really use a break. I am sure the hubs could as well. I know, all of this sounds quite bitchy and even a bit whiny but that is how I am feeling lately. I am sure it will pass. I am sure that at any moment they will do something so utterly fabulous that it will merit a blog post or a facebook update and then life will feel blissful once again. There are in fact many such moments, thank goodness! I sure hope one of those moments comes quickly. I really hate to think of asking for that space in the PPP.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another Day in Rainy Paradise...yawn!

Today dawned early...way too early as Katie gave us a real problem in the sleep department last night here in the hotel. We are actually staying in a one bedroom apartment and the DD have been sleeping on the pull out couch in the living room. Miss Katie crossed over her rightful boundary in the bed about 3:30 am. She had actually crossed the DMZ (demilitarized zone) about midnight but I placed everyone in their rightful places before I crashed. This second foray into Ethan's reduced territory was enough to cause a middle of the night squabble and also woke them to the point where they both realized that the stuffed lovies that they both sleep with were no where to be found. Marc got up and tried to locate the stuffed babies in the dim light of the kitchen stove overhead that was left on as a nightlight and after stubbing his toes a few times gave up, told them to go back to bed NOW and came back to bed...of course, that was not gonna work!! A few minutes later, Katie cried out for her baby again (Ethan, like the true man that he is, gave up and went back to sleep) and so Marc and I took turns trying to calm and cajole her until finally, somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 am, I threw on the light in exasperation and stripped the bed (Ethan still did not wake up) and found both babies under a second blanket that was on the bed....ARGH!! Now, would that be enough to send my precious daughter happily back to dreamland? The correct answer would be...NO, of course not! She cried out a few more times for good measure and could give us no valid reason for her unhappiness but I could have easily given her several reasons for mine! Somewhere around dawn, we all slipped back into unconsciousness and actually were able to sleep until almost 9:00 am (unheard of in our house) but it still did not feel very restful as you can well imagine.

We got up and headed out in search of something to do that would allow us to dodge the quarter size rain drops that were due back at any moment. We ended up in Downtown Disney and for a couple of hours, the day could not have been any lovelier. The temperature was perfect and the clouds stayed at bay. We walked, people watched, shopped and rented a boat for awhile so we could cruise the waterways. We did all of that just in the nick of time as the moment we came back, they closed the marina due to another approaching storm. We ate lunch at a cafe (outdoor but undercover) and then the skies opened up again. We got a little break in the wet action after lunch, so we ran to a store for just one more must have item and then were caught there for about an hour as the lightening was just too scary to even consider leaving.

We were finally able to make a break for it and since then the rain here has not let up, so now we are back in our little home away from home. We played board games, ate and are now settling in for the finale of American Idol.

I really do not mind the rain and the forced quiet time. It has been really good to get away from the grind of work for a few days and as you can see when I actually have a bit of downtime you get a couple of blog posts in a row. Be still my blogging heart! We leave for home tomorrow and then it will be back to life as we know it at "Stress is the new Black!"

About to hit the seas

Our Pirate Princess

The Captain

C0-Captain and her first mates

Keeping one eye open for Pirates....sorry could not resist ;-) Hey, we are kinda sarcastic around here!

Love my wonderful man!

Wonder what she was thinking?

reflective sweetie

A little help from the first mates

Co-Captain at the wheel

Back on land the DD needed to find a way to get wet again...they could have easily waited a few more minutes until the skies opened up again.

Waiting out the rain storm in a store

A Princess came over and sprinkled pixie dust on Katie who was looking at it here and wanted me to take a pic of it but the camera did not pick it up ;-)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

OK, we needed rain but this was a little ridiculous!

We are taking a little getaway up in Orlando right now. We wanted to get a little fix of the happiest place on earth, which today was the wettest as well! We have needed rain for months here in Florida, as we have been in severe drought but it has been raining for three days now and there is no end in sight. When I say rain, I don't mean your garden variety spring showers either...these showers are what Floridians call Palmetto Pounders...the kind of rain where your finger nails dig into your palms, as your husband is driving down the highway kind of rain.

Anyway, torrential rain was not enough to keep us from our missions of the day today, which were to see my friends Tamara and Penny with Tamara's sweet girls, Moose and Goose and to meet Katie's current fav Princess, Mulan. Both missions were completed successfully!

On our way to the park we stopped at Wal Mart to pick up clothing for just such a wet and chilly day since we had not planned for this rain event at all. The clothing the DD is donning is not particularly attractive but between that and their rain gear it kept them relatively cozy.

We met, made our way through a few areas of Epcot, sat, talked and met Mulan who has become personal friends with Moose, Goose and their entourage since they are annual pass holders and frequent Disney World more than I am in the grocery store (snort)

As we were making our way through the puddles and the kiddos were jumping in them, Tamara and I discussed that these are the times that make the best memories. It certainly was a day that I will never forget.

From L-R Goose, Moose and Katie who was still warming up as you can see ;-)

The DD are chatting up Mulan

Here he goes again, charming another Princess!


Moose and Goose chatting up their friend

Rainy Day fun with friends!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Three years with our little slice of heaven

Dearest Katie Starr:

Here is is, three years since the day we were united. In our wildest dreams we could have never imagined the perfect match that would be made in China, as our red threads finally came together and made us a family on May 14th, 2006 (Mother's Day).

We adore you beyond measure. There are not enough adjectives in the English language to describe the way that you capture the hearts of all who meet you with your sweetness and light. We thank G-d everyday for the gift of you. Happy 3rd "forever day" precious girl!

Love always and forever,

Mommy, Daddy, Justin, Ethan and your entire forever family

Katie holding one of her referral photos

In our family, every special occasion is a reason for cake. When I told Katie that we were having ice cream cake she said..."awww, I wanted adoption cake!"

Friday, May 01, 2009

To Hell and Back

I know it got a little quiet around here but for very good reason. Katie became very ill this week and was hospitalized.

It all started last Sunday. We had just arrived at our monthly FCC Social Lunch and Katie started showing signs that something was brewing. All of you mama's know what I mean about the signs..the ones that are impossible to miss when you are a mother. We know every nuance of our children's personality. For Katie, those signs show up in the fact that our normally happy go lucky girl becomes emotional and no matter how hard you try to ease her mood a bit she will not lighten up. For us, that is the signal that she is about to get slammed with something that will not be good.

Once again, the mama instinct was right on and by that evening Katie was congested. We kept her home the next day from Preschool with congestion and a cough. I thought for sure she would just miss one day of school but unfortunately by that evening she was on fire....105 degrees off and on all night (in the tub...out of the tub and over again) we set off to the Pediatrician first thing the next morning. She looked and listened and told me that Katie had Pneumonia and an ear infection. What?!? In just over one day???...unbelievable!! Our Doctor put Katie on a very strong Antibiotic and breathing machine treatments every four hours. She instructed us to come back in two days so that her health could be assessed again as she was quite concerned. To make a long story short, the very next day our Doctor called to see how Katie was doing and then upon hearing me tell her of Katie's continued difficulties, she asked me to bring her in immediately so that she could take a look at her. She looked and listened again for 2 minutes and then sent me to the hospital...NOW!! She called ahead so that we would be seen immediately. Thankfully we were taken in immediately since the whole freakin' world thinks that they have swine flu right now and a bunch of them were in the emergency room....sheesh!

The Doctors in the ER did their looking and listening and add in xrays and a Swine Flu test which was negative. BTW, this was more painful than you can imagine since they swab all the way up the nasal cavity almost up to the eye...just what my poor girl needed. The verdict - she needed to be admitted. I had been hoping against hope that our Dr. was being an alarmist and that this was just a false alarm but that was not the case. The ER doctors don't even normally hospitalize for Pneumonia's anymore but they were concerned about her overall condition and her poor respiration.

They proceeded to prep her to go upstairs and put her IV in. Katie is a trooper and she was so brave. Her poor Daddy was too upset to watch and had to leave the room but Katie and I have "girl power" and we can handle most anything....that is our mantra!! Can't blame daddy though, since the sight of his princess being in pain brings my strong man to his knees.

The next 36 hours was a nightmare as we waited for the relentless fevers to subside, her horrendous coughing fits where she struggled to breathe to abate or for her to show any sign of wellness. She cocooned into a shell and stopped speaking; looking at us with eyes full of fear and searching for answers. We longed to be able to tell her and ourselves when this horrible time would end. With each breathing treatment, back pounding, stick of the needle and medical intervention our hopes for the big turn around rose and fell time and time again.

Marc and I took shifts of 12 hours each so that she would always be with one of us and as one shift would end and the others would begin, we would report to the other any changes and always searching the other for that glimmer of hope. Finally, on Thursday night, I drove home at 9:00 PM utterly exhausted and totally depressed; not to mention my mind was beginning to go to very dark places. I knew that the big change could come at any moment but what if it didn't? I am not one to ask G-d for special favors but now I was praying and begging that our precious girl, that we love more than there are words to express, be freed from this pain and put on the road to recovery. At 11:00 PM, I called Marc to say goodnight and to inquire as to whether she was sleeping and as he answered the phone, I heard the most beautiful sound in the world......Katie was laughing and telling knock knock jokes!!!! Marc said she had just finished singing a song from Mary Poppins which she had just seen a few days before. OMG!!! I knew that she had a long way to go but I also felt that she had turned the corner and that she would be coming home soon!!! I arrived the next morning, after getting Ethan off to school, to a much different scene; Katie was interacting and was on the road to recovery. The Doctor arrived at noon and told us that if she could stay fever free for 24 hours then we could take her home and rehab her there. She would be much more comfortable and could heal better in her own surroundings. She still had a long way to go but she was on finally on her way.

Today at 2:00 PM we were able to exit the hospital and this time with our daughter....what a glorious day.

A special thank you to my folks. My parents are so wonderfu. My dad picked up the slack with our work and my mom came every day to help us with Ethan for a couple of hours so that Marc and I could be with Katie together for a bit. She also spent lots of time with me at the hospital. Unfortunately, we were not able to have my MIL and FIL involved at all as we would not risk my MIL bringing any nasty bugs home to my FIL, who is already ill with the effects of Diabetes.

Thank you to my friend Minouche who had Ethan for several hours when we first had to admit Katie and to many of my family and friends who visited, sent cards and gifts to Katie. Also, to our TBO family who reached out to us in many ways. Our wonderful Rabbi even made it a point to check on Katie and would have visited her but we insisted that we would be bringing her home soon so she would see him at school. I also found facebook to be a wonderful form of communication with friends and family to let them know what was going on quickly and just once instead of over and over. The outpouring of support that we received was nothing short of phenomenal. I received more messages, both public and private than I could even count and it was overwhelming and uplifting.

Our week from hell brought about a bright side for me as I had a paradigm shift in perspective. It is no secret that we have been struggling with the closing of my real estate business and the huge financial distress that it has wrought on our lives. The emotional turmoil and worry although normal is useless. Life means nothing without your loved ones to enjoy it with.....absolutely nothing. Don't take one moment for granted was the message that I received this week in a huge way. I also received it verbally by the pediatric ICU nurse who took care of Katie. She has been doing this for 30 years and she has seen more than once that life can end in a not take it for granted. I vow to remind myself of that fact when I get caught up with those negative feelings as I am sure that I will, as I am only human. Sharing our lives with our family and friends is a gift not to be taken for granted.

Some of these pictures were taken with the camera on my phone so the quality is not so good but they give a little synopsis of the week we had. Thank you again to one and all. We love you.

As Katie became ill, our beloved fur baby was always by her protecting her

In the hospital, sick and scared.

Taking a turn for the better. Coloring is a good sign.

I would do anything to see her smile

On the day that she was released, my sister called to say hi and this was the reaction that we got.

I am outta here!!

From Our friends at Temple Beth Orr


Katie's first nap back at home..there is gabby by her side. She slept for over 3 hours..I think it was the first time she felt relaxed and safe in almost a week. Below I was giving her a breathing treatment and she was so out of it she never even woke up.

Welcome home precious is so good to have you back where you belong!!