Friday, October 30, 2009

Coveted Prize

edit Ethan

Ethan won this Tootsie Roll after playing a party game over and over at the school Halloween Party today. He was finally victorious and here he is savoring his spoils.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Amazing Years with Ethan Frederick Zhiqing

I documented Ethan's first year adoption anniversary by looking back over the course of a year full of great challenges and triumphs. If you would like to read about our first year with Ethan you can do so here.

I would like to mark this second anniversary with Ethan by giving you a little glimpse into our little man today.

Ethan is now 31.5 lbs and 40 inches tall. He has finally made the US growth charts (barely) but hey, we will take it!!

He is still a bit "eating challenged" but mostly in the way many children are. He would prefer to eat junk food all day long if we allowed it. We, of course do not. Anyone who knows me, knows that this is an area that I am pretty strong about. When I serve a meal, you must try it. If you do not eat it then you do not get anything for dessert. Same holds true for Ethan's breakfast and lunch, which he eats at school. We get a report each day about what he has eaten and if he did not eat what was served to him then he will not get a snack, but rather will have to eat the sandwich that was left. He totally understand the rules and so about 95% of the time he eats he meals. In fact, he so understand the rules that when he gets off of the bus he tells me what he has eaten before I read all about it. This is very important as when he came home he was considered failure to thrive and malnourished by his both doctor and Early Intervention. He would not eat ANYTHING solid and it took us almost 2 months to get him off of the bottle at 2 1/2 years old. I am sure that you can understand how important eating was to us, so we are thrilled with the amazing progress that he has made.

Ethan is a great sleeper...period!! Love that!

Ethan's language has also made amazing strides and he is catching up by leaps and bounds. I think that he will have additional speech support once he reaches Kindergarten but when he came home he was placed at under 6 months in speech and development, in terms of his chronological age, so to get from there to close to his age level in 2 years is a tremendous victory.

His development runs along the same timeline as his speech...we are amazed at what a big boy he is becoming. He is somewhat behind in his fine motor skills but we are hoping for improvement there as well this year.

I can still see areas of weakness in his gait sometimes when he runs. We recently had him in a soccer clinic for preschoolers which seemed to be of help. We will continue to work on his large muscle groups and in time it will improve. The physical sport that he excels in is swimming. He is an amazing little swimmer and I actually think that he may have gills. His lung capacity is amazing, especially considering that he was born with two major heart defects and an underdeveloped trachea. I have no idea how he does it but anyone who sees him swim will shake their head in disbelief at how long he can hold his breath.

Ethan has a keen eye for detail. He watches everything and I mean everything that we do. He especially wants to understand how things work and his desire is to be of help in all situation's is huge. He is a very analytical and quite tenacious. The kiddo never gives up! Love that!

He has an issue with needing to know all the time what is on the agenda next which is an area that I have discussed before and we are constantly working on. It can be a bit maddening but we are making strides in this area as well.

Ethan is such a loving child. He is a kisser, hugger and all around sweetheart! He feels so badly if he hurts anyone in any way, either physically or emotionally. He is going to be a wonderful husband and father someday :)

He and Katie get along unbelievably well. They can play for huge stretches with no issue. Of course, there are times that they are "sharing challenged" but they are few and far between. They are fiercely protective of each other and miss each other like crazy when they are apart.

He is also as mischievous as the day is long. There is not a day where he has not plotted and carried out some agenda of his choosing. Some get him into trouble and some will do so if his plans are not quickly aborted by me or Marc. *SNORT*

Ethan loves his family and our friends so much. They love him just as much. This adorable and sweet child has taken everyone that he knows and made them his forever. There is no denying that there is something about this little one that is quite special. He is a survivor in the truest sense of the word. There are great things in store for this child and we want to be there to witness every single one of them.

We love you Ethan. You, Katie and Justin are the lights that guide our lives and we are so thankful for the gift of all of you.

Happy Second Forever Day!!

Mom and Dad

PS See how far he has come....

In China with Katie

One Year Forever

Tonight with his cake...he is all about the are we :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It is always a treat to spend time with our FCC family

Today was our annual FCC Halloween Bash!! As always, the children had a wonderful time and the adults enjoyed watching the children and catching up with each other. Making it even more special this year was how warmly Marc was welcomed back from his time away in the hospital. He looked so happy to be amidst close friends who feel much more like extended family as my dear friend Grace says.

I always say that the additional blessing that came from the adoption of our DD was all of the wonderful people that it brought into our life.

Enjoy the pictures of our little Barbie Cheerleader, her brother the fireman and many of their adorable friends!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Home is where Marc's healthy heart is...

Yes, we are home and so thankful to be here. We actually got home two days ahead of schedule. Marc's doctor gave him a clean bill of health on Tuesday and by Wednesday we started our two day journey back to South Florida.

As I reported in my last post it was a very successful surgery and other than one bad day during the hospital stay it has been a fairly easy recovery. If you can belive it, Marc is actually going to supervise a gig tonight so in essence he is back to work. Don't worry though, he is under strict orders from the boss (me:) not to dare lift one piece of equipment or do anything else that would jeopardize a full recovery. It is amazing that they can do open heart surgery robotically and make it minimally invasive. He does not have to deal with the trauma and aftermath of having his chest cracked open (ouch)Just seven tiny incisions to heal...amazing!!!

We are so relieved to be ending such a scary chapter in our lives that began this past father's Day when Marc first fell ill, it has been a really rough few months but now we move on to a healthier and more productive next chapter.

There were many positives that came from that negative. There usually are if you just look for them. The first was that it reminds us that Marc and I have a very strong bond that perseveres during the good and the bad. That bond has been tested mightily over these past couple of years between illness and financial challenges and we always pull together and come out stronger and more secure. I am very thankful to have such a strong partner to share this life with.

We also have found that our family and friends are truly there for us when the going gets tough. The support has been unbelievable, both emotionally and with the huge outpouring of financial support coming out of the fundraiser that was sponsored by Marc's Professional Association. We have so many thank you's to deliver and we will do so as soon as possible.

Last but certainly not least, we are so thankful to our families for their support. Marc's Mom traveled with us to Atlanta to assist us with the DD while Marc was hospitalized and recuperating. My dad and sister came to Atlanta to lend their support during the surgery. My mom and Justin held the fort down and took care of things back here, so we did not have to worry at all, including taking care of our fur baby Gabby and our fish and frog :)

One sadness that remains is the loss of Marc's dad during this very difficult period of our life and the fact that he never had the opportunity to know that Marc had a successful outcome. He worried so much about this surgery and he ultimately lost his life due to complications of his diabetes; one of which was a bad mitral valve which ultimately caused heart failure..the same valve that Marc had repaired. Marc would have loved to have been able to share this happiness with his dad and he misses him very much every day.

The best tribute and honor to his dad and to all those that he loves, is for Marc to use this opportunity that he has been given to keep his body healthy and strong and not overdo it as he sometimes can. Believe me, that if I have anything to do with it (and I do) he will pace himself better.

Sounds cliche, but take each day and make it very special for those that you love and who love you. Remember the little things, they make all of the difference. I met a woman who's mom was in critical condition due to complications from the same bacteria that Marc fell ill to. She was not as fortunate as Marc and it was not diagnosed as quickly as Marc's was. When we left, she was on a ventilator, days after heart surgery of three valves and in addition was in kidney failure and on Dialysis. She was only five years older than Marc and her future is very much in question. Her only daughter was constantly at her bedside willing her to live and to come out of this but I fear if she does, the future will not be an easy one. That could have been my husband and we both know it. I am not going to waste one more minute of my life on anything that I do not find gratifying and worthwhile. It is a new day for me and my family and our new motto is Carpe Diem! Sieze the day! I hope that you do too!

With love and thankfulness,

Monday, October 19, 2009

Marc is out of the hospital

Just a short post to let all who are reading this know that Marc came through the heart surgery beautifully. He had one really bad day in the hospital post op with low blood pressure and very bad pain but that is behind him and yesterday he was released. We will see the Doctor tomorrow and hopefully he will release Marc by the end of the week to travel back home.

In the meantime, we are held up in very close quarters (Me, Marc, The DD and my MIL) and trying to find ways to keep the DD entertained. They have been awesome!

Here is a phone photo that I took just after Marc saw the much happiness!! I will post once we get back home again.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Goodbye for now

We are heading out in the morning for two weeks to Atlanta to make sure that the man of my heart has his heart repaired. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers for a complete recovery and return to a healthy life. Thank you to our big kids for taking care of our home. I will blog again from the road.....

Love and Peace,

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Our Princess has lost her Pirate Status

Awesome news!! Katie no longer has to wear her eye patch...AT ALL!! This is quite the development for our Starr, formerly known affectionately to us as the "Pirate Princess." When we went to the appointment we thought that today would be the day that the pediatric ophthalmologist would advise us to begin the weaning process by cutting the patching time in half, from eight to four hours a day but no...ZERO HOURS, zilch, nada, none!!! There was definitely a reason why the plan changed, but quite honestly, I was so overjoyed with the news that I had a hard time following the reasoning. It did not even matter that the doctor told us that the prescription in her glasses would need to be changed. You should have seen Katie. She started jumping up and down and yelling Yaaaaay!! Yaaaay!! No more patch!! Over and over again. All of the staff came running out to see the happy girl and congratulate her.

Several stickers later, we left the office and drove home to tell Daddy and Ethan the good news! We are so proud of Katie and we told her so. Her hard work paid off big time. The patching was so uncomfortable and many days she would quietly ask me if she could stop wearing it but when we told her that she must press forward, she always did without a fight.

There are no guarantees that she will not have a regression in the future and need to patch again but we feel confident that if she does, that she will just do what she needs to do.

For now though, we celebrate her victory and freedom from the patch!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I think I may need a sock intervention!

Today, while I was organizing the DD's sock drawer, it occurred to me that I may have a problem with acquiring a few too many socks for them. What do you think? Do I have a children's sock addiction?

Just for the record, the DD share a room and a sock drawer for now. As you can see, it is somewhat evenly divided between Ethan on the left and Katie Starr on the right. Of course, girls need more socks than boys!! The bags to the right side of the drawer is girl and boy socks that have been outgrown and I will Freecycle. The socks below the drawer are missing their mates somewhere within the deepest recesses of the dryer. At least that is my best guess.

They say that admitting the problem is the first step towards recovery, right?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Baby Girl!

No, not for us...for Katie.....sometime in the future. OK, let me elaborate before you all become completely unglued by my inflammatory sentence fragments!

On the way home from Preschool today, Katie asked me for the umpteenth time, this week alone, why we cannot have a baby sister. I once again explained that we were very happy with the three children that we have been blessed with and that there would be no more children. (actually, after our mischief man completed our family we reached our limit in all areas) We lovingly call him our "adoption stopper."

Of course, that did not really appease her, so I went on to explain that someday she would have her own baby if she wanted one. Katie was *OVERJOYED* with that little fact and proceeded to tell me what she was going to do with her VERY OWN baby!

"Mommy, I am going to dress her, feed her and give her a bottle."

"That is awesome Katie"

"You are going to have to change her diapers though, I am not going to do that!!"

At this point I was hysterically laughing, "Why do I have to change the diapers?!?"

Katie very seriously replied, "I am not going to deal with any accidents, you are going to have to do that Mommy!"

She then went on to tell me what she only wanted one baby girl and no other babies. She did not elaborate as to why she wanted an only child but since I am going to be dealing with the "accidents", I am pretty darn happy to hear it!

That girl is a smart one!