It had to happen. Okay, I won’t lie, it’s happened before, but this
time it happened on a big scale. I gave in to a screaming child.
Actually, screaming is putting it mildly. Screaming, kicking,
irrational, absolute hysterics. Unless you have seen my little Moon in a
full blown tantrum, you really cannot grasp what this means and very
few people have actually been witness to this (and fewer folks believe
she is even capable of such behavior – shows what they know).
It began last year. We moved her from a small private school where
Goodwill grunge is all the rage, status symbols are hybrids, and parents
try to keep their children as young and innocent as possible to public
school where maturity among 7-year olds is king (or queen if you
prefer). She noticed immediately that there were some differences
between herself and her new peers. The two that stood out the most were
the lack of earrings and the inability to sleepover with friends.
Despite the differences, the year progressed, she made many friends and
we made it to first grade without too much stress.
First grade came and was even better than the first with two
exceptions – the pesky issues of not being allowed to sleepover and
being as of yet unpierced. We stood firm on both. I had great
experiences sleeping over once I was in middle school, but due to the
differences in parenting and what available for kids to see on both the
internet and the television, we are just not budging in this issue. In
regards to the piercing, however, I continued to wonder if we should let
her go for it. She didn’t know this, of course, but I did. And then
my resolve crumbled. No, that’s not true. I changed my mind. Back to
I picked her up from school on Friday and we headed to the other side
of town to collect The Sun from school, meet a friend for dinner,
grocery shop and run other random errands. Arwyn was tired and hungry
and refused my offer of a Vitamin Water, which I keep in the car for
children in just such a state. She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and
requested to go home and change, which I denied for several reasons. I
was taking a chance and well, I lost. The tantrum set in which quickly
devolved into every wrong doing that I have ever committed against her,
namely not letting her spend the night with friends and not letting her
get her ears pierced. Here we go again. After 45 minutes of sheer
hysterics she finally managed to convey a few things to me which is
where my mind was changed.
I want to preface the following with letting you know that this child
can make her own breakfast (she makes a healthy blueberry smoothie for
herself each morning), make her bed, help with the laundry and do many
more things that most kids simply cannot or will not do. Here is what
she said, “Mommy I know you think I am a little girl, but I’m not. I’m a
big girl. I promise to take care of my ears so they won’t get
infected. I don’t like being sad or mad. This makes me sad and mad
that I cannot get my ears pierced. Mommy, I don’t like being different
from the other girls and I just want to be pretty.” Sigh.
I can remember being the youngest child of older parents and often
feeling and being different from the other girls. In fact, like The
Moon, who was born with a cleft lip and palate with the results being
quite visable, I was born with a facial defect and never quite fit in.
Life is different now for kids in both good and bad ways and the other
children welcomed our girl with open arms, but peer pressure is still
and always will be part of growing up. If I can give her any small
opportunities to feel special and pretty and the same as the other girls
so that her differences are not always emphasized, well, I’m going to.
There are times as parents when we have to stand our ground and there
are times when we owe it to our kids to be open to changing our minds.
This was one of those times. After a quick consultation with my
wonderful hubby who was in full agreement and a lovely dinner of Greek
food, we headed to the nearest Clare’s. I now give you The Moon,
complete with pierced ears.
“To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while. “~Josh Billings
Last night the Moon told us she played
“telephone” in her 1st grade classroom. Her teacher (teacher of the
year to us) taught the kids this great games. Of course, she wanted to
demonstrate it at home. This is how the conversation went:
We love Zoobooks.
They are beautiful and educational. Zoobooks make our 8 year go wild
when she realizes her monthly subscription has arrived in the mail.
But, I didn’t realize the added power of Zoobooks when I placed the
order. Distraction. Last night, my little Moon came into the bathroom
for her bath and was holding her newest Zoobook in hand. This is the
conversation that ensued:
A: Mom, I have to go potty before my bath.
A: You may think it’s strange that I have this book but I am going
to read it while I potty. That’s a little weird too, I know, but it
helps get my mind off (wait for it….) getting married.
And there you have it folks. Zoobooks help distract girls from planning their weddings….when they are eight years old.
This week Noah was given his first rank advancement in the Boy Scouts. I was a proud Mama when Noah "pinned" me during the ceremony. This ceremony was perfectly timed as he left today for his first residential camp experience. Nathan and Noah just drove away to meet the rest of the troop to caravan to Boxwell. Nathan, Noah, several adult leaders and about 15 other boys will join boys from around the country for a week of scout activities. I guess technically this is not his first time camping away from home. He has camped several times with his class at Linden and he and Nathan have gone on several weekend camping trips with the scouts. But, this is the first time he is going for a week. And, Nathan will only be with him one night. Of course, he is so confident and easy going that it is no big deal for him. For me, though, it is different. As I think about having a rising 6th grader leaving for camp I am both proud and wistful at the same time.
Being down one kid gives me the week to focus on my girl and she has lots planned including beauty day (think cucumbers on the eyes), gardening and more. Now, if only the rain would end.....
What's a mom to do who has a hubby working late and a son staying with a friend? Add a little mommy guilt for being too focused on work and a clean house plus the need to have my nails done and you have mommy daughter date night.
We are so fortunate to live in a city where this type of camp is offered! Arwyn spent the last week with two Chinese women - one who came from Beijing specifically for camp and teaches in the top dance school in China!
Well, it had to happen, right? I have children so a call to 9-1-1 is inevitable. I mean, we've called 9-1-1 before when I set the kitchen on fire...a couple of times.... But this time was the real deal and I mean S-C-A-R-Y. Tonight while eating dinner Arwyn choked on her pasta. It was only a few seconds before I realized what was happening and I yelled to Nathan who immediately called 9-1-1. I picked her up and began to do my best imitation of the Heimlich Maneuver / shaking her / slapping her on the back.
I have to say that minute in time may have been the scariest of my entire life and I've had some scary moments. I was holding my baby while Nathan was on the phone attempting to give our address though he could barely tell the operator the numbers in order as he was as frightened as I. She was unable to breathe and her face turned redder and redder.
Finally....a breathe... and the tears began to flow down her sweet face. She was so scared. She had not been able to breathe, Mommy was squeezing her and shaking her and Daddy was telling someone to come quick while Noah stood by and watched.
We told the operator that the food became dislodged and that all was okay though 2 minutes later NFD showed up with a truck and an ambulance. 6 lovely men and women came running up and checked Arwyn over to be sure she was fine. Her fear was still engaged and she was not going to let the men and women in blue near her until they offered her the chance to play with the stethoscope and with their computer.
After agreeing she was fine they left us alone and we calmly finished our dinner though I took scissors and cut up Arwyn and Noah's food into mush. Nathan told the kids they may be eating very soft foods the next few weeks until I'm calm again. The kids are now asleep with my littlest angel in our bed so I can keep her close to me tonight.
Thank God for those who rushed to our home and thank God that we still have Arwyn.
Thanks to the wonderful folks with the FCC (Families with Children from China) for the great night at the Golden Coast restaurant in Nashville. We are looking forward to many more events that celebrate Chinese culture!
Well, the Sun started school last week and the Moon started on Monday. To be honest, I was fully expecting tears and tantrums and the 'ole "I don't want to go Mommy" from the Moon, but she went with bells on! And, the Sun did too. Would it be so wrong to say that on Monday - and each day since - I've done a little happy dance each morning when the hubby and kids have left for school? I now have 4 hours of quiet where I can listen to whatever I want to on the stereo, get a cup of coffee, fold the laundry and do just about everything without any interruption?
Each day since school has started both kids have come home exhausted but happy. Noah's 4th year curriculum promises to be rich and challenging. We have Norse mythology and Tennessee history, fractions, zoology and the human body and woodworking. That's not all, of course, but it's all very new and exciting! Arwyn is now the age when the early childhood teachers begin to separate the preschool children from the "crown" kindergartners in her mixed age class. She is technically "crown" age and is showing all of the signs that she is ready to move on. But, am I? Am I ready to no longer have any preschoolers? I just don't know.
What I do know is it is going to be a great year. Life is grand and I am savoring those moments in the morning when life is serene and quiet. I'm listening to my blog music and am off to start the washing machine. Here's to a full and productive morning!
I cannot believe it is here. The weather is cool (falsely cool) and the scent of football is in the air. Or, in our case, soccer! Today I will be gathering all of Noah's things that have to be taken to school, baking cookies for the teachers, putting together a muffin loaf to go in the oven in the morning as soon as we wake up, getting Noah's haircut, doing all of the normal things and finally, headed out for our first soccer game of the season!
Normally we start school flying by the seat of our pants, but this year I'm ready, willing and organized and most importantly, I have a plan!
As the school year goes on I'll be writing more about this but it starts today with putting all of Noah's soccer gear in a bag with my folding chair and a snack bag (I'm ready for Arwyn!) and lots of water. If you are looking for a great bag to carry your sports gear in...look no further than Thirty-One's Large Utility Tote - personalized, of course! You can click on my Thirty-One link to find out more info on this great bag!
Well, we knew it was a possibility. I have put lots of energy into not having it. But, we are at the point where there is a chance that Arwyn will undergo what is known as a P-Flap or Pharyngeal Flap surgery. We are in speech therapy 1 day a week and we work with her constantly at home. But, she is hypernasal and her speech, though making HUGE improvements is not always clear.
We have her scheduled for a nasal endoscopy which will give definitive answers as to whether or not a secondary surgery should be scheduled. It gives me some comfort to know that the cleft team she sees has given her palate surgery a year to shake out, along with speech therapy to see how far she could come in making speech sounds.
This surgery does not come without risks. Not the traditional risks of palate closure - which are mainly anaesthesia risks....but real risks. Serious sleep apnea, snoring, possibly never being able to breathe out of the nose again due to how it all comes together. Is clear speech worth it?
If it all turns out the way it should, then yes. If it goes wrong, then no. Our little Moonflower is a fighter, though and very determined. I've rarely seen a more strong willed child. And, our cleft team we see is top notch. I am very hard on doctors and if I did not have complete faith in this surgeon, well, we would not even consider this option.
So, keep Arwyn in your thoughts. Let's hope that what she needs is shown to us and that the right decisions are made all around. Ugh.....parenting is not for the feint hearted!
Many nights before bed, my girl asks to hear the story of Mama Bear and Papa Bear and how they traveled to China to get their daughter. After a year I would have thought Arwyn would have grown tired of it. But, no, she still loves it as often as I'll tell it.
In a week and a half, our family will celebrate the one year anniversary of becoming a family of four. In celebration, I am creating photo books for the kids (one each) and one for Nathan and I which chronicles our 17 day trip through China. I'll hand them out at dinner at a local Chinese restaurants where all of the Chinese nationals eat.
Noah's book was so simple to put together. I told the story and added pictures and cannot wait to see it come in the mail. Hmmm....
Then I began Arwyn's book. I guess the question is not so much where does her story begin. The answer to that is it began at the same place that everyone's story begins. Two people meet, join together and make a baby. Then what? Fill in the blank. Then they decide they cannot keep their daughter because she is a girl? Then they decide they cannot keep her because they have other children? Do they decide they cannot keep her because of the poverty level the live in? What about because of her special need and their knowledge that medical help is all but impossible in their city?
I believe they wanted to keep her. Call me optimistic, but our beloved was not abandoned right away. She was not a newborn when she was found which gives me hope that her parents struggled before letting her go. I don't know that to be true of course and would not put that in her anniversary book. But, as a mom, having given birth and having traveled to China and seen the women there, I cannot believe that her Mother gave her away without her own heart breaking.
My heart hurts now for her and for Arwyn. But, that still leaves me with the question of where to begin the story of her life with us. I'm sure I'll sort it out as I put the book together, skipping parts here and there until I have a clear picture of what this looks like.
We all want to know our own story. We yearn to find out about ourselves. We take self help classes and meditate and pray and ask for guidance. But, most of us have at least firm footing of our roots and our ancestry to begin. For those that do not, where do you go?
I am sure this will not be the first time that we are faced with such dilemmas as we help our little one navigate life. I just hope that we are wise enough to face these challenges and help her come through the other side.
Okay. I know it was, like, 9 weeks ago, but I am just now getting around to posting about it. As far as we can tell, Arwyn's surgery went well. We checked in the morning of February 22 at Monroe Carrell Children Hospital and Arwyn was fitted with a cute little hospital outfit and was given a snazzy blue convertible to drive to the OR. So far, so good. We were given the option of either having her drive herself back (which they and we preferred) or being given a sort of sedative and getting her sort of asleep. Hindsight is 20/20 so they say. She actually did great but I wish I had let them give her the sedative so she would not have remembered what happened as she was pretty angry with us over the entire thing.
After 2 hours during which Nathan and I had lunch, the surgeon came out and let us know that everything went really well. For kids that have cleft palate in the US, most kids now have the initial surgery in the first months of life, which I am sure is preferable for many reasons. Regardless, the tissue in the mouth of each child makes a big difference in whether or not the surgery will be successful or will have to be repeated. According to the surgeon, Arwyn has great tissue which made it really easy to complete the surgery.
A few minutes later they took us back to recovery to be with her as she woke up. She did not wake up well. If you have a child that has ever had surgery you probably know that some kids (and adults) take anestesia really well and some do not. Noah did great when he had his hernia surgery at age 3. Arwyn, not so good. Unfortunately for Arwyn, and many adopted kids, she had her lip repaired in China and it is entirely possible that there was little in the way of pain management after her surgery and she remembered her previous hospital experience.
So, Arwyn woke up very angry and in so much pain. I walked in to the recovery room to see a nurse holding my baby who was screaming for me and mama bear kicked in. I could not get to her quick enough and get her out of the nurse's hands quick enough. To be fair, the nurses were incredible and well meaning and doing their jobs but it was my job to hold her and soothe her during this time.
Soon we were taken up to her room in ICU and after much work and finagling and talking to nurses we got her (and us) settled. The next day we were moved to a regular room and were there from Tuesday afternoon until Friday morning. Arwyn continued to have considerable pain for several days and we continued to give her pain meds in the hospital (as well as once home).
She was on a full liquid diet for two full weeks. While in the hospital she said juices and broths and once home I prepared homeade soups and pureed them for her. After two weeks she moved to soft foods which we did for nearly 4 weeks. She is now on a regular diet once again and I can tell you she is quite glad!
I'm posting a few pics of her surgery/hospital stay. In case you are wondering, I am primarily doing this as a way for other adoptive families with cleft affected kids to see what is ahead of them.