Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Just like most of my grandiose visions... what we got was totally different.
We were stuck in the tunnel of the hospital in the flower room... sandwiched between the morgue and the autopsy room. Now as an adult, I can't help but wonder what sick, sadistic SOB planned that? The sound of our own hearts beating and our breathless panting would be interupted only by the sound of the saw in the autopsy room. The lights would flicker off and on occasionally. The halls all looked the same, winding aroung in a maze of terror. It was easy to get turned around in there. I was scared to death every single time I had to go down there wearing my red and white striped pinafore uniform. I felt like a candy cane ready to be eaten by the monsters who lurked in the dark corners of the tunnel.
It was during my sentence... er I mean... volunteer time as a candy striper that the movies "Nightmare on Elm Street" came out. The dark halls and exposed pipes in the tunnel along with it's inherent evil were always like scenes straight out of that movie. I expected old Freddy Krueger to jump out and slit my throat every time I walked through the dark halls.
Fast forward... 23 years. I am now a hospital supervisor at this same hospital. I have the keys that open every single door in that place.
I have always had an irrational fear of the tunnel, but as an ICU nurse, I could always con someone into going into the tunnel... to the morgue... with me. We of irrational fears tend to stick together. Now, as a supervisor, I am the one who is supposed to be fearless. Oh crap!
The other night as I worked my shift as supervisor, I got a call from the environmental services staff who works at night. It's hard not to sound mean with this post, but let me tell you a little bit about the EVS staff. These are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I have become friends with several of them, but before I knew them, I was scared to death of them. From first glance, they are somewhat mutant like.
I got a call from two guys, who I will refer to as Guido and Scarface. They whisper over the phone in a myserious and menacing tone, "We need to show you something in the tunnel."
Oh crap! I'm all alone and I have to be fearless.
As Guido and Scarface lead me through the dark hallway of the tunnel with Freddy Krueger lurking among the exposed pipes, I realize that Guido's zipper is unzipped and I silently pray that's not what they're wanting to show me. (Mind you, these EVS people are so nice, but... so different)
We walk through the halls and I remember back to being 14 and scared to death of this place. My how some things have changed and some things haven't. At times, I am still that 14 year old girl unsure of what the world holds for me, but with great visions and expectations of what I will show the world.
Due to my own personal regulations about blogging about work, I won't be able to divulge what they were so excited to show me in the depths of the tunnel, but it was a nice journey down memory lane, wasn't it?
"You know that thing in my tooth? It took me 5 days, but I finally got it out..."
It was her filling!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
This Christmas has been one of the most magical times in my life. Jameson and Josh both pulled us aside today and told us thank you for adopting us. While this has been quite a year for us, and we have all grown and changed and our family has evolved, I can honestly say that this is the most important, most beautiful, most wonderful thing I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. Merry Christmas from the Ellerbee Eight.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I still am working on Josh and Jameson's stockings... I still have one more day to finish them...
Josh has been great all day. He has helped wrap presents all day. He's been hysterically funny and talkative. He's followed me around the house to just spend time with me. He and Jordan are going through all of her music on itunes and she's making a CD for him. They are sharing and laughing and having fun together.
Even with my extended "to do" list, my sick child, and the fact that I have to work tonight, this has been an excellent Christmas Eve Eve.
I hope things hold out for the next two days.
Can you guess what color they were?
Can you guess what color of chunky vomit I just had to clean up?
Can you guess how far of a splatter zone Jack made in the bathroom?
Can you guess how many towels I had to use to clean up?
Can you guess who had to stand outside in the sleet shaking out the towels throwing the festive vomit all over the front yard?
Happy Holidays and may you enjoy your peppermint cookies more than Jack did. I've got some left over if you're interested...
Monday, December 22, 2008
1. Drove around and looked at Christmas lights - actually did this in the freezing cold rain for an added Christmas spirit moment.
2. Saw Santa - Josh informed me that he would agree to go but he "wasn't getting on him." Worked out well for all of us.
3. Hid gifts poorly - Justine informed me (loudly) that she wouldn't tell everyone that she found Guitar Hero World Tour hidden in Jordan's closet. Oh Yay!
4. Hid gifts too well - spent over an hour looking for something I had hidden for Jeff that I couldn't remember for the life of me where it was.
5. Wrapped gifts - the girls wrapped up stuff for Justine that we already had around the house. I'm sure she'll be so surprised on Christmas morning.
6. Make Christmas cookies - going to the third store today to look for Peppermint Extract... who knew there would be a run on peppermint extract?
7. Take the kids to Silver Dollar City for Christmas - it is like negative 14 here. There's no way I'm going to purposefully be outside for hours and hours... nope not gonna happen.
8. Do something for someone else to help teach the children the real reason for the season... still working on this one.
9. Go to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve ... I don't think this is going to work out, but I'm going to try to figure something out. Perhaps Christmas morning or Tuesday night.
10. Horse drawn carriage ride in the freezing cold - going today. Going to freeze my sweet nibblets off. Going to love it! Pictures to follow.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
Saturday, December 20, 2008
There is a situation with a family who adopted a DEAF child from Ethiopia. You can read a little about my experience with this child from a post I wrote after returning from Ethiopia. I capitalize the word deaf because they were told this child was deaf. They were told by many people, including me. Now somehow... they feel they weren't given all the information about this child.
I absolutely fell in love with this child while I was in ET. Energetic... Wild... Crazy... Hysterical... I'm sure that life with this child isn't easy. I could have told you that from the little time we spent with him. He locked himself in our car at the orphanage... he was determined to go home with us.
This child is now being given the opportunity to go to a boarding school for the deaf. He will come home once or twice a month and on holidays. Is this an opportunity? Trading one orphanage for another... While I know this couldn't have been an easy decision to make, and I certainly don't know what things were like in that family, I am begging you to reconsider. Reconsider keeping your son home with you. Use that money you would spend on a fancy boarding school to get a special tutor. Do whatever it takes to keep him in a family. Or consider disrupting the adoption. Give him up and allow a family to take him who might be able to handle him. It's not a matter of what it looks like to everyone else. It's not a matter of obligation. It's a matter of making things right for this child.
And to everyone else, please continue to pray for this child. Pray for this family. This decision couldn't have been easy. The dreams and expectations for this child, this adoption, have been squelched. Everything they thought would be is not. Families are continuously evolving. There is no right or wrong. There is no exact science on what to do. There is not a way to plan for the way things will be. We can only evolve and be flexible and continue to grow together. Tomorrow will be a new day.
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This one is really cool. You're supposed to go into your pictures directory, find the 6th folder and pick the 6th picture and tell the story.
So this is my son Jack. Jack has a unique and wonderful story. Jack was our first child together. He was the first grandson on both sides of the family. He ended up being our miracle child who showed us what it truly meant to rely on God.
We were newlyweds. We had just moved into our first house. I can remember I was slightly pregnant, like there's ever such a thing as slightly pregnant, but I could still tie my shoes and wear some of my clothes. I think I was 16 weeks pregnant? God, I thought I would never forget the details of this ordeal, but with time, the pain has lessened and so has the dream-like vividness of the details.
I had the prenatal alpha feta protein testing done as recommended by my doctor. Because I'm adopted, I have always felt a little weird about what could be lurking in my gene pool, so I decided I might as well have the test. What harm could it do?
I was watching Romeo and Juliet... the Leonardo version. I still can't watch that movie. I never got to finish it. The phone rang. The nurse says something along the lines of "there was something wrong with your test. You need to come in to see a specialist... tomorrow."
Jeff and I went to see a genetic specialist. I think I only heard about a third of what he said. I know that the words Trisomy 18 were mentioned several times. Fatal. Genetic. Irreversible. Devastating. Termination. They did an amniocentesis. I could see my tiny little baby floating around in there. Not moving very much. He was too small for how far along I was supposed to be. To me, he looked kinda like a dinosaur with his little fetal spine developing.
Jeff and I went home in a daze. We broke the news to the grandparents and to Jordan. We hadn't been together long enough to know what to do with all of this grief. We both dealt with it in our own ways... separate but equal pain. And so we waited. And waited.
Finally a phone call. There was a genetic abnormality. There was an extra piece of genetic material on the baby's 8th chromosome. It wasn't definitely Trisomy 18, but it could be a translocation of genes and still be Trisomy 18... They couldn't rule out this devastating diagnosis. They needed our blood to do a complete genetic work up on both of us to find out if either of us had this same 8th chromosome. And so we waited. And waited.
They lost the lab work. And so we waited. And waited.
Although the wait was overwhelming and horrible, I can now see the purpose of it. While sitting in the office of this genetic specialist, we were confronted with the ugly decision that a lot of people probably have to face on a daily basis. If our child was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 and was sure to die at birth, would we want to terminate the pregnancy now? While the answer seems SO cut and dry and obvious now, at the time, it seemed like a question of which death would be less painful and awful? It didn't take long for us to embrace our son's future, whatever that may be, and realize that no matter what the diagnosis was, we would have him as long as God allowed. And if that was hours, that would be better than the alternative.
Finally another phone call. Jeff had the same extra piece of material on his 8th chromosome. While we weren't guaranteed what this would mean for our baby, it was good news. Even with this good news, we were never given the "everything's going to be just fine" speech. It was more like "we'll see what we get..." We were on pins and needles throughout the rest of my pregnancy. I was secretly afraid the whole entire time.
The due date rolled around... and then two weeks rolled around... and then finally I was induced and tortured through a 19 hour labor, when I finally gave birth to an 8 pound 10 ounce baby boy who was absolutely perfect.
He was born with 6 toes on each foot and a thumb on his left hand that has no joint and does not bend. But he is absolutely perfect and wonderful and awe inspiring. And when I think about Romeo and Juliet, I think about the rash decisions that led to their deaths, and I thank God that we were able to see the purpose in my baby's future, whatever God allowed it to be.
"You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples." Psalm 77:14
I am going to tag...... Denise and Mendy.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
First of all, we started family therapy. We started with Jack as he seems to be the one having the most trouble adjusting. He's been having these little melt downs about everything and just in general seems VERY stressed out for a 10 year old. Granted Josh has A LOT of issues, but I think those issues are going to be long term issues that we are going to be dealing with, which we are just now getting into. Right now, we need to figure out what's going on in Jack's little head, and get him feeling better and back to the happy little boy I know he is. I feel a little more hopeful about having more family peace after this first meeting. This has been such a difficult year. As I learned long ago, even good things are stressful. And this has been a year chocked full of good things.
Secondly, I thought perhaps I had an ulcer from above said "good" things. I have always had stomach problems. Type A personality, perfectionist etc. This year, it seems to be a constant blah feeling in my stomach, like a gnawing pain that won't go away... like an alien is ready to rip it's way out? A few weeks ago, I felt like I was going to come unglued when my doctor pushed on my upper abdomen. "Ut Oh," she replied. "Ut Oh," I agreed. Last week, I had a HIDA Scan to evaluate my gallbladder function. I found out today that my gallbladder is functioning at 13%. Evidently 25 to 30% is considered borderline low. And so I picked out my surgeon today. (The perks of working in an SICU is to know which knife wielding hacks to avoid)
Geez, could it get any better at Ellerbeeville?
The kids were supposed to sing at a nursing home today as an optional activity for school. We were getting ready. I had all intentions of getting them there today.... on time. It took me 2 and a half hours just to get Josh and Jameson's hair looking OK. No one would get dressed... no one would get their shoes and socks... no one would brush their hair... Jack was having a melt down about going... so today, I made a decision that I would choose JOY. I didn't freak out. I didn't stress out. I didn't drive 90 miles an hour to get there on time. I choose JOY today, and that means we are staying home, making cookies, getting our school work done, and going swimming this evening.
"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." Job 8:20-22
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Wow, 10 whole months. That's insane. What to say about month 10?
The kids have really made a lot of progress in their school work, especially Jameson. She cracks me up because she loves to beat him at math and reading games. I bet this is the first time in her life she's been better than him at something. He is probably at least a grade ahead of her, but she is much more careful, neat and accurate with her work. The motto of slow and steady gets preached a lot around here.
Josh remains somewhat of an enigma to us. There are days when he can be very animated and engaged. And there are still those days when he is in his own little world. I believe he would still rather be by himself than be with any of us. He is getting more comfortable. He is pushing limits and ignoring me... just like all the other kids do... until they get a little dose of me. I definitely don't put up with his crud anymore. I call him on each and every thing he does, and I am not afraid to make it well known what my expectations are. He can be quite engaging when he wants to be. When he wants something, he will search the house for me. He will kiss me on the cheek. He will participate. And then he doesn't. He doesn't do anything. It is these times that I feel particularly manipulated. And maybe it's not manipulation. There's a part of me that just thinks he doesn't know exactly what to do. He flounders as much as I do. We do best when none of us are trying and we just let it happen.
Jameson wants to be just like Jaiden. And because Jaiden is like the best child in the whole wide world... that has really worked out well for us. She still has her pouting and her behind the back "meanness" spells occasionally, but overall she is trying SO hard.
Last week, two of her spelling words were miss and kiss. The sentences she wrote were: "I miss my mom," and "I kiss my mom." I silently had to wonder which mom she was talking about. How long will I wonder who she's talking about? I get confused. She calls us both mom, but I never know which mom she's talking about. And I don't think it really matters. It is obvious that she loves us. Sometimes she loves us until it hurts. That girl can hug!
But I can't help but wonder how long will we both question each other? Last night I let Justine and Jameson make their own blogs. They just like to decorate their page and listen to their music more than anything. Instead of a thank you, Jameson's response was, "Yeah, I was the last person in the family to get their own blog..." Even though her and Justine's blogs were made at the same time, she inevitably feels slighted and always feels the need to point it out. That gets old after a while.
Overall month 10 has been a month of growth, learning, discovery, and many more firsts.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1
This week, Josh learned that it's not a good idea to put food on a KLEENEX and put it in the microwave for 3 minutes. It involves flames, smoke and really nasty food.
And I learned a few things about my son that I didn't know before. While reading about lizards in the rain forest, Josh wrote, "I would like to eat that lizard." OKAY, we have a lizard as a pet. Well, it's actually Jack's lizard, and I'm afraid to touch it, but I don't wish it any harm. Now I'm wondering if he's been waiting for the perfect time to (*gulp*) have Jack's lizard as his "dizzzert."
Do you think that for Christmas I will find Josh's version of the Christmas Story?
Jack's lizard wrapped in swaddling Kleenex and lying in my microwave?
Monday, December 08, 2008
If any of you have older kids coming home... tuck this away, it might come in handy later.
Today we played a game to learn the vowels. It was so much fun!
First round, I showed them a card with a word on it. All the cards have words with 2 consonants and a single vowel in the middle, such as dad, mom, pop, mop, etc. We have cards with about 100 different words.
If the word has an a - they have to put their hands face up "at" their desk.
If the word has an e - they have to put their hands on the "edge" of their desk.
If the word has an i - they have to put their hands "in" front their desk.
If the word has an o - they have to put their fingertips "on" the desk.
If the word has a u - they have to put their hands "up" from their desk.
The next round, I just said the words, and they had to figure it out. It was a little competition and they absolutely loved it!
Josh told Jameson, "You're going down..."
And Jameson replied, "No, I'm going up." HA HA Funny!
BTW - she won!
So here's what you do:
The rules are to grab the book closest to you, turn to page 56 and type the first sentence of the 5th paragraph.
"God gave you a new life and a new nature when you accepted Christ."
The book sitting next to my bed, which I grabbed first, was The Purpose Drive Life by Rick Warren. I was contemplating reading it again and had set it next to my bed as a reminder. After reading sentence 1 of the 5th paragraph on page 56... I think it might be a sign that I'm supposed to read this again... WOW, what a reminder from God. Thanks!
I am tagging Rachelle because she's so funny and I just feel somehow related to her (soon!), and Rebecca because I bet you anything that girl's got some good reading material around!
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I find it all quite disgusting.
I know I struggle during this time of year. I don't know at what point in my life that I began to dread Christmas, but there's definitely a feeling of "UGH" as I prepare for Christmas. And this year it's no different. Oh I'm going through the motions. The trees are up. The multiple nativities are set up and ready for Jesus to be adored. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.
Even though I haven't found my Christmas spirit yet, I haven't given up completely.
Evidently, my son shares my affinity for avoiding Christmas as well, but he seems to have taken it a bit farther. In addition to refusing to try Thanksgiving dinner, Josh also refused to help decorate the Christmas trees or partake in any of the preliminary Christmas foreplay I use to get in the Christmas spirit. OK, that sounds a bit... um strange... but we have certain traditions that we do to help us get ready for Christmas. He wouldn't watch our Christmas movies. He wouldn't help decorate. He wouldn't help put out the little village. He sat on the couch and stared.
When asked what he wanted for Christmas, he picked out a 52 inch plasma screen TV for his bedroom.... right! When asked WHAT ELSE he might like for Christmas, he replied "nothing."
This week, he told all the girls that there was NO Santa Claus. Nice huh?
He did help put Christmas lights on my parents house this week and was very, very proud of his work. And I did sing Silent Night at church this morning and kinda teared up a little. Maybe both of us will find our Christmas spirit soon... we're running out of time.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Then one day, someone announced that one of them had adopted from Ethiopia. The other one was jealous, intrigued, excited. And inspired.
And so a friendship began, which would see them through the good times and the bad. They would find out that they were very much alike. Their families were very much alike. They shared much more than the fact that they both had children from Ethiopia.
Like most friends, when one hurts, the other hurts. And right now, I hurt.
My friend, who has a heart of gold and a spirit that moves her more than anyone I know, met a boy from Liberia. He was nineteen and here to have hip surgery through a program called Healing the Children. He was living with a host family from a nearby community church. I will not say what that religious affiliation is, but I will say my view of that religion will forever be tainted by this experience.
Initially, they were able to help the host family by taking him to Dr.'s appointments, keeping him over the weekend, and inviting him into their family. They came to a point where they wanted to see about adopting him. Their whole family came to love this boy. The woman's eleven year old nephew, who suffers from Crohn's disease, donated his entire savings of over $200 to the boy. It had taken him the entire summer to accumulate this amount of wealth. They spent a lot of time getting to know him, and he shared much about his life in Liberia. He had fallen in an empty grave while being chased by robbers. This was when his hip was broken and he ended up getting a TB infection in the bone. I say initially... because eventually she wasn't allowed to help with this boy any longer.
As we looked into the options of adoption, we hit a brick wall. He was too old. He was not educated enough to pass the English proficiency exam and be allowed into college here. Everywhere we turned, it seemed inevitable that this boy would indeed be returning to Liberia.
The host family and church sponsor was suspicious of their motivation. They were from different religious background than ours. Evidently the host family couldn't understand why a family would want to adopt a child who was already grown. Why do you want to help? The boy would have to spend more time with the host family to learn more about their church. The boy needed to learn more about their religion and less about the Christianity displayed by my friend.
The boy was "allowed" to work for the host family. He made a lot of money for the family, but was only paid much less than minimum wage. He was not allowed to make outside calls or to know the status of his Visa. He wasn't even sure of when he would be sent back to Liberia. When my friend inquired about the status of his Visa, and what she might do to sponsor him is when the real trouble began. He was sent to another home, farther away. He was not allowed phone calls or visits. He was legally an adult... but treated like a prisoner.
The boy was able to make a few phone calls when no one was looking. He wanted my friend to know that he loves her as his mother. He wanted to let her know that he was ready to go back to Africa... where he could be free. He was ready to go back to a place where he would live in the bush, struggle to make enough money for food, and have virtually no future... just so that he would be free.
My friend received a phone call the other day to let her know the boy, the boy she loved as a son, was on his way back to Liberia. He had not even been allowed a last phone call to say good bye. He also had not been allowed to take his savings of over $1000, including the gifted money my friend's nephew had given him. He had not been allowed to take his laptop, which had been a gift as well.
I'm sure he says good bye to America with a bad taste in his mouth. Good riddance to you American do gooders. Good riddance to you religious nazi's who seek only to help only in exchange for a religious conversion experience. Good Bye America. Land of the free... my foot.