Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Afternoon Music

In an effort to get the Wheels on the Bus go round and round out of my head from our morning Wiggleworm class, I put on some great international music after Kate's nap.  She was having quite a time rolling to and fro to Tik Tik Tak by Glykeria.

After she was finished dancing it was time to chase the ball around the floor.  The ball is great because she can't keep hold of it and has to keep chasing it.  Tires her out and gives me lots of entertainment.  Music is Boom Boom Tarara by Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Wheels on the Bus...

I realized I had been doing more videos than pictures lately.  I'm video'ing more right now in the hopes of capturing her first crawl but that hasn't happened just yet. She's still scooting around and rolling from side to side in order to get where she wants to go.
We had a lovely weekend.  Kate seems to be developing a preference for me, especially at night when it's bath/bedtime, so I spent some time away from the house and Len spent most of the weekend with her.  While I went to yoga and a class on photography, Len took Kate to the playground and running errands.  This wore her out and she fell asleep on Daddy.
We are getting her used to playing in her crib which has helped her learn to amuse herself in the mornings when she wakes up early.  I think we have set a record for night-time sleep.  For the past 4-5 nights she has gone to bed at 7pm and woken up at 6am.  I have heard her, usually around 4am, wake up and play with her toys for 5-10 minutes but she has always gone back to sleep.  This has resulted in a much happier family altogether!  Her naps are improving as well with her morning nap lasting about 1-1.5 hours and her afternoon nap lasting 1.5-2 hours.
Saturday we set up the baby splash pool in the backyard.  Zadie, who is 9 months old and lives downstairs, joined Kate. 
Unfortunately, Zadie doesn't have quite the layer of body fat for insulation and immediately started to shiver so her time in the pool was short-lived. 
Kate was content to loll about on her tummy for about 20 minutes before she was done.  I think when her feet started to turn blue was the clue to get her into a sun-warmed towel!
Sunday we helped our good friends Keith and Kelly celebrate their 10 year wedding anniversary at a great pizza place in Wicker Park.  Here we are sated and happy after beer and pizza.
Today we started Wiggleworms class and that will take us through to December.  Kate seemed skeptical at first by the INCREDIBLY HAPPY teacher...
but she soon warmed up and was lolling around to the tunes.
(Notice the kid trying to make a break for it in the background.  And the legs against the wall belong to the only father in the group who spent the entire class texting while his wife was on the floor with their son--he's a real winner.)

Kate did take an interest in the boy next to her and he was all into her as well right up until the time she inserted her finger into his eye socket.  As you can imagine, that was not a popular move and he retreated to his mother's lap right quick.

The pool will be closing next week.  We can still set up our baby pool but it was nice to go to the public pool for some social interaction.  Hopefully the Wiggleworms class will fill that gap.  Now if I can just get that damn song out of my head...

Go round and round, round and round, round and round, the wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the town.  

Now you can have it buzzing in your head too.  You're welcome

Friday, August 27, 2010

A day in the park

First off--a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brother Terry!
Since the weather has cooled off a bit we have been spending quite a bit of time in the local parks.  Kate is still snuffly from her cold but the fresh air seems to do her good and help her nap.  A few days ago we played on the swings for a bit and then practiced our rolling about on a blanket under the trees.  She is quite good at rolling both ways now as well as launching forward on her hands and knees.  But she doesn't get that she needs to move her arms forward at the same time so she ends up face-planting more often than not.

I love that towards the end of the video she lays there with her leg in the air--a common pose for her.

The following day we went to the lake for some fresh air with the ulterior motive of tiring her out since she refused her morning nap. My efforts paid off in the form of a nice 2.5 hour nap that afternoon! She's getting closer to crawling but seems content for the moment with military crawling her way to her toys.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Update from Nepal

Through the power of Skype I was able to talk and see my friend Candice, her mother and her beautiful daughter A yesterday morning.  It is 11+ hours ahead there so we talk very early in the morning Chicago time in order for me to catch her before she puts A to bed for the night.  They are currently in a hotel in Kathmandu as Candice took legal custody of her daughter last week.  Our US Embassy is currently conducting the investigation to ascertain that she doesn't have biological parents looking for her.  Unfortunately, they have given her no kind of time-frame for when this could be completed so she is looking at apartments to rent in case her stay ends up being many months.  It was so nice to be able to talk to her and see them together.  A is just a lovely little girl and has already bonded quite well with Candice.  Kate was intrigued by the images in the computer and kept trying to figure out where they were by looking behind the screen. When she couldn't figure that out she just shrieked at the screen instead.  Between Kate's and M's squeals it made for an interesting conversation!  We hope to Skype quite often until she can get a visa to come home.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First cold

No, I'm not referring to a Chicago cold snap.  Little Miss Kate got her first cold.
It started with no nap at all on Saturday.  After a monumental battle, she crashed Saturday night at 7pm.  I thought I heard some congestion in her nose but figured it was from the extensive protest crying right before bed.  No such luck.  She woke up every hour from then until 3:40am.  She never woke up long enough for me to need to go in but at the 2:30am wake up I heard a couple of coughs.  Uh-oh.  The cough combined with the snuffling sounds didn't bode well.
At 3:40am the snuffling and coughing were worse so I went in and her head felt hot.  Quick temperature check revealed she was running a fever so we called Dr. E who advised a bath, saline spray, humidifier and liquids.

She had a hard time nursing through a stuffed nose but she managed to keep enough in her for the required number of wet diapers.  Even though she was super tired she still did not nap at all on Sunday.  We put a wedge under her mattress to elevate her head which seemed to help last night.  After another bath and a lot of cuddle-time she passed out at 6:30pm.  She woke again at 11:30 and finished a bottle before going to sleep again until 5:40 this morning.   Her fever and cough are gone with just the runny nose (and continued resistance to napping) hanging on.

I love that she still mustered a half-smile for the camera even through her tears and snot.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Update on the Endless Wait for China Adoption and assorted commentary

In case you were still wondering and didn't want to ask, yes, we are still hoping to adopt Kate's sister from China.  For those of you with enough restraint not to ask why we don't just get pregnant again, I will refer you back to the many tortured posts from my pregnancy (remember the endless vomiting references, the gestational diabetes, the preterm birth of Kate? Oh, and the four miscarriages before we even got to Kate.).

On our agency's website they have started a new service to help the families who are endlessly waiting ascertain how many files are before theirs in the queue.  Our LID (Log in Date--the date our file was logged in with CCAA in China) is April 27, 2007.  On May 1, 2007, China changed some of the rules for families wishing to adopt (like no single parents, higher income levels, restrictions on how much you could weigh...yeah, no fat people.  Nice.)  Anyway, we were unaware of this at the time but now realize that tons of families were pushing to get their files in before the deadline which  means we got caught in the massive onslaught of files going to China.  All this to say that is why our agency is differentiating between the files logged in before and after May 1, 2007.  Here are the numbers:

We currently have 1,173 waiting families logged in prior to May 1, 2007 waiting to be matched and 672 families logged in after May 1, 2007.

One thousand, one hundred and seventy three files.  And that is just with ONE AGENCY IN THE U.S.  That does not include all the other adoption agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  Crickey.  That's a lot of files.

To put that in perspective, read this latest update from our August newsletter:

The CCAA has matched our families with a log in date of May 11 and May 15, 2006.

There were 15 children matched this month and that only covered two days worth of LIDs with our agency.

So, if you want to know how much longer we have to wait, there is a lot of math required. They are still 11 months away from our LID. There are at least 63 families with April 2007 LIDs in our agency.  15 children were given a home this month and that only covered TWO days worth of LIDs. Last month, only 7 children were matched with families. In June, 19 children were matched.

Even without a complicated spreadsheet and higher math, we've got a long road ahead of us.  If you really want complicated spreadsheets, higher math and a whole lot of figurin', go to this website, home of the famed China Rumor Queen.  On an August 18th post she lists a new policy for special needs children which seems to be quite a win-win for all concerned, the biggest bonus being you can now adopt two children (one does not need to be special needs) at the same time with support from your agency both before and after you return home.

This might be a good avenue for all of those families who were shut out of the Nepal adoption route, provided you have the resources to care for a child with medical issues.  Before we left the DC area, we had consulted with an International Adoption Pediatrician and went through an extensive list of the pros/cons of each type of special need coming out of China.  We were in the process of considering this avenue when the prospect of a Nepali adoption materialized.  Then we moved, we got and stayed pregnant, Nepal fell through, yada yada and now here we are again. 

I have been fortunate enough to speak with a few women who adopted special needs kids (cleft lip/palate, missing limbs, heart issues) who put a realistic face on it.  The biggest single issue they all face is one that any child in an institution faces...attachment.  Let's face it, the medical issues are workable for the most part. You can find a team of specialists and tackle them as they come.  Hell, I would probably have been classified a special needs kid:  I had feet that turned inward and required leg braces as an infant, I had an eye imbalance that required an entire summer of both eye and body coordination exercises, not to mention the thousands of dollars spent on tooth extractions and braces caused by way too many teeth for my small mouth. 

But attachment is much more insidious an issue and one that, as a mama myself, would be especially hard to deal with.  How do you come to grips, for example, with a child who will go to anyone, including strangers, for comfort or help?  What if she clings to you and only you, always afraid you will be gone if she loses physical contact with you?  What about hoarding of food or objects?  Compulsive behavior is very common with children raised without a primary caregiver and even those as young as 12 months and under can still exhibit emotional behaviors we may be ill-equipped to handle in our elation to finally be parents.

All this is to say that we are going forward with our eyes and hearts open.  We know the risks and oddly, after having Kate, feel much more equipped to handle another child than we did when started this adventure.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Miss Independence

Kate is very much enjoying feeding herself like a big girl.  Our compromise at mealtimes is that I feed her with a spoon and towards the end of our meal she can navigate getting some veggie-flavored melty-O's into her mouth by herself.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Weekend Roundup

We've had a lot going on here in Kate-ville, not the least of which is some serious sleep advances thanks to the many emails from friends in response to my pleas for help.  One of my friends hit the nail right on the head when she said:

The problem with being an older parent is that you know too much or you know how to research to the point where nothing makes sense and you spin in circles.

I would add to that:  as an older parent who has had a job managing and making sure things run on time and in an organized fashion, trying to raise an infant can be an amazingly unorganized, vexing, messy job.  Yes, yes, I know intellectually that raising a child is not the same as making sure a kitchen or bathroom install runs smoothly and on time but living it and knowing it are two entirely different matters.

On to our major sleep accomplishment.  We started letting Kate work out how to get to sleep on her own as you may remember.  I have spent a considerable amount of that time in the jacuzzi with a glass of wine while Len listens to her on the monitor.  She is still crying when we put her down at night but the time has shortened remarkably and is much less traumatic-sounding which means I can stay out in the living room with Len and have dinner.

And for the past 2 nights, although she has awakened several times in the middle of the night, we have waited her out (we usually went in immediately to feed her) and she has gone back to sleep.  So that means she is in her room now for about 11-12 hours at a stretch.  I'm not sure but I also started giving her avocado at suppertime (fattier and more substantial than the squash, veggies that I was feeding her) and that may be helping to fill her up for longer.  And for some reason, as an added bonus, when she wakes up in the morning, she doesn't cry out to be picked up, she just wakes up, flips onto her back, finds a toy and gurgles to herself until we get to her which is usually a good 15-20 minutes.

The only downside to all of this night-time sleep is an erratic nap-time schedule.  Her once punctual 9am nap is now a moving target as she is sometimes not sleepy enough at that time to go down.  I have had to introduce some more morning activity (pool, swing) and move her nap to later.  This, in turn, moves the afternoon nap but I have to be careful to not let that last nap be too late to interfere with her 6:30pm bedtime.  It's all a very complicated dance.  And it doesn't fit nicely on any excel spreadsheet that I can come up with!

On to our activities.  Last week one of my friends came over with her newly-adopted daughter from Nepal.  She's such a sweetie.  Here Kate and M meet for the first time:
After the meeting in the living room, we packed up some sandwiches and headed over to the lake for the afternoon.  

Our mutual friend, Candice, is currently in Nepal and it has become quite a nightmare situation.  There are 6 families who are in Nepal at the moment and, from what I can gather, about 80 families in total that have received a referral and/or Travel Approval.  Without going into a long explanation of what is fast becoming a huge cluster-fuck involving the US Embassy, the Nepali Ministry, lawyers on both sides of the world, children who are in need of a home and families who have already suffered emotionally and financially, suffice to say that things are not looking good.  Candice has officially adopted her daughter in the eyes of both the US and Nepal and is living with her in a hotel, but until our Embassy issues her a Visa for her child she could be stuck in Nepal indefinitely.  Yeah.  I did say indefinitely.  The US Embassy is vague on exactly how long their side of the investigation process might be.

Every Thursday Kate and I meet with a group of mamas and babies that we've known since February or so.  It is fun to watch them all grow and change.  Kate and Ava were born on the same day, although Ava was not a preemie like Kate.
Here are some more of the kiddoes lined up for their photo shoot (left to right-Ava is 7 months, Jacob is 10 months, Kate is 7 months and Elliott is 6 months).
There are seven of us in total and in any given week probably 4 of us can actually make it due to work demands, nap schedules, summer vacations and colds.  Kate really seems to enjoy watching the other babies and I get some much-needed adult conversation so it's a win-win.

Saturday we drove about an hour or so out west to visit Len's cousins, Ed, Dolores, Charlie and Monica.  Kate, despite not napping in the car, was quite a happy girl, content to sit on the rug and study four new faces.

Ed tried to entertain us with an accordion solo after lunch but alas, it was much too loud for Kate's ears and she made her displeasure known by yelling OVER the sound of his song.  Fortunately, after he stopped playing, so too did Kate stop her protestations and we all had a nice visit for the rest of the afternoon.

Tomorrow will be a video of Kate eating her first finger food!  Exciting I know.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Love Letter, Month 7

Dear Kate, 

You are seven months old today. Every day brings with it new surprises, most of them good. We spent the first half of your seventh month in FL with your Nana. We spent most days either at the beach/pool or trying to get you to nap. Guess which one was more fun for everyone concerned?

Let’s start this letter with the only dark blemish in your amazing array of talents…sleeping. You STILL are in desperate need of sleep and yet seem unable to come by it easily. I have to admit partial blame in this as I would take you to the beach or pool every afternoon when it seemed your nap was either too hard to come by or I needed to get out of the house. Sticking to a 2-hour-awake rule did not leave a lot of time to do much other than dress you, feed you, short play time and then start the nap process all over again. Thus, most of the time I bagged it, put on our swimsuits and out we went. I have paid for it dearly since we got home. It has taken 2 weeks (I just looked at the calendar in disbelief because I could swear it had been 6 months) to get you back on 2 naps/day and it is a hard-won and mostly sporadic victory.
We also decided to bite the bullet and try letting you work out going to sleep on your own, otherwise known as crying it out. I nursed you before your bath and your daddy gave you a bottle after bath, lotion massage, jammies and story-time. Saying you were less than thrilled with this new routine would be an understatement. I poured myself a double gin and tonic, turned on the tv and steeled my heart. The first night you cried for 26 minutes. We muted the TV and were amazed that we heard…nothing. The second night you cried for much longer before dropping off to sleep…almost an hour. Before you take this letter to your psychiatrist as proof that I did not love you, please know that I did go in every 20 minutes to pat your back and whisper tearful “I love you’s”. Believe me kid, it hurt me way more than it hurt you.

Speaking of hurting me more than you, you got your first vaccination this month and you barely made a sound. Not until after the needle was withdrawn from your thigh did you utter an objection and even then it was short-lived because I showed you my ring. You are easily distracted by shiny objects, just like your mama!

This past month you are rolling around all over the living room. I put you down in one spot and come back to find you halfway across the room with a huge grin on your face as if you had pulled one over on me. When you are on your tummy you throw your head to whichever side you want to roll onto and over you go. You have only rolled back-to-front a few times, mostly when I’m not looking and don’t have the camera which I’m sure you do just to annoy me. 

I want you to know that I will be pulling out this letter in the months and years to come when you insist

I can say with utter truthfulness that you will not eat much of anything except veggies. I have tried giving you rice cereal, pears, apricots and apples and they are snubbed in favor of peas, carrots, eggplant, swiss chard, zucchini and summer squash. I have loved cooking new foods for you to try and you reward me by squealing with delight as soon as I put you in your highchair. You do, however, seem not to trust that first bite. That first bite is not so much a bite as a closed-mouthed lip-taste of whatever I am offering on the spoon. You lean forward with lips pursed and take just a small graze of whatever is offered. You then lick your lips thoughtfully and decide if you will open your mouth wide or try the taste test again.
I’m so glad you are this age while it is still summer. In addition to all the yummy food I can cook from our CSA share, the weather is the other plus. You absolutely loved both the ocean and the pool. You would lean over in the carrier and stare at the waves coming in as we walked along the shore every day. 
Now that we are home, I ordered a baby pool that plugs into the hose and sprays water up into the air in various locations. I set it up in our backyard and plopped your naked body into the middle of the pool. You loved it and sat happily for 45 minutes, squealing and splashing about with your cups. I’d say anything that keeps you happy for 45 minutes is money well spent.

I started going back to yoga on the weekends. Alone. And wouldn’t you know that all I could think about during meditation was you. I came home just as you were waking up from your first morning nap and when I picked you up your smell hit me like a hurricane. That was one of the most peaceful moments of my life, being relaxed from an hour of “me” time and then wrapped with the blanket of your fragrance, knowing that I would get to spend the rest of the day with you and daddy. As I picked you up you looked at me and smiled your gummy smile, and this look of recognition flashed across your face that said

You are the woman who feeds me with your boobs and who snorts and tries to make me laugh, and you eat my feet a lot. I remember you! Hey! It's YOU!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A weekend of festivals

This was our first weekend home with no plans in the works so we searched the local paper for festivals and found two that looked promising.  Saturday we headed out to the Cuban Festival on the west side of Chicago.  Lots of yummy food and drink combined with lots of LOUD MUSIC.
The music is what eventually drove us away--there were just too many sources of music, all playing something different and at ridiculously high volume. Notice that Kate was not looking real thrilled with our outing...
Len did get the chance to learn bongo drums during a lull in the afternoon.
Sunday we headed to the Italian Festival and had yet more yummy food and a cool beer to ward off the afternoon heat.
Kate is really enjoying eating from a spoon now and takes great pride in being able to sit at the table like a big girl.
I am aware that she is wearing a Happy Easter bib in August.  All I can say is, Len packed the diaper bag.

Friday, August 6, 2010

U.S. Suspends Processing New Nepal Adoption Cases Based on Abandonment

This was just issued today and is a blow to all of those PAPs still hoping to adopt from Nepal.  Many European countries and Canada have already suspended adoptions so it was only a matter of time before th U.S. followed suit.  

On a personal note, one of my friends from here in Chicago has already returned with her beautiful daughter (now almost a 2 year old) and has since found out about a few undiagnosed medical issues that, had they not been treated in Nepal, would almost surely have left her paralyzed in the future.  Another of my Chicago friends just left yesterday for Nepal to pick up her daughter who just turned 1.  I am hoping this new release does not affect her or any of the current PAPs who have already received referrals and/or travel approvals.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State today issued a joint statement on the decision to suspend processing for new adoption cases based on abandonment in Nepal .

Joint Statement
In order to protect the rights and interests of certain Nepali children and their families, and of U.S. prospective adoptive parents, the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have jointly decided to suspend adjudication of new adoption petitions and related visa issuance for children who are described as having been abandoned in Nepal .

The Department of State’s recent interactions with the Government of Nepal and its efforts to review and investigate numerous abandonment cases, including field visits to orphanages and police departments, have demonstrated that documents presented to describe and “prove” the abandonment of children in Nepal are unreliable. Civil documents, such as the children’s birth certificates often include data that has been changed or fabricated. Investigations of children reported to be found abandoned are routinely hindered by the unavailability of officials named in reports of abandonment. Police and orphanage officials often refuse to cooperate with consular officers’ efforts to confirm information by comparing it with official police and orphanage records. In one case, the birth parents were actively searching for a child who had been matched with an American family for adoption. Because the Department of State has concluded that the documentation presented for children reported abandoned in Nepal is unreliable and the general situation of non-cooperation with and even active hindrance of investigations, the U.S. Government can no longer reasonably determine whether a child documented as abandoned qualifies as an orphan. Without reliable documentation, it is not possible for the United States Government to process an orphan petition to completion.

To the best of our knowledge, all other countries that had been processing adoption cases from Nepal have stopped accepting new cases due to a lack of confidence that children presented as orphans are actually eligible for intercountry adoption.

The suspension of adjudication of new adoption petitions on behalf of Nepali children reported as found abandoned is effective as of the date of this statement. Any petition filed for a child who has been presented as found abandoned and who was matched with a prospective adoptive parent prior to the date of this announcement, as evidenced by an official referral letter from the Government of Nepal, will continue to be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis and in light of the totality of the evidence available. The Department of State will reach out to prospective adoptive parents who meet this criteria. Petitions that continue to be adjudicated will only be approved if they are supported by reliable evidence. Every effort will be made to process their cases as expeditiously as possible with the best interests of children in mind.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Who does she favor?

While I was in FL for July I got the chance to look through some old photos of me as a baby.  It was interesting because, up to now, I have always thought that Kate favored Len in her looks more than me.  But looking through my baby pictures I do see some resemblance.  What do you think?  We only have a handful of baby pictures of Len which is why the disparity of photos between Len and me.

So let's begin the comparisons!  This is Len as a newborn:
This is me as a newborn:
And here is Kate:
This is me (and my brother Terry!) before I could walk (we don't seem to have any pics of Len prior to him being able to sit/stand other than the one photo of him as a newborn):
Here are a few of Len when he is a bit older (with his sister Kathy!):
And here is Kate:
Here I am a bit older in the kitchen sink:
And here is Kate in her ducky bath:
Me and my sexy mama (check out those sunglasses!):
Kate with her Nana (I think she needs those sunglasses back--am I right??)
So, what do you think?  A good combination of both I think!


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