Neilan had his first day of First Grade today. Mommy just barely managed to hold it together but Neilan - noooo problem. Not even a backwards glance as we walked out of his new classroom. Joe and I on the other hand, not so easy. Honestly where did the time go? How did we get here so fast? It's amazing to us both, just like Neilan.
Tomorrow we're off to Blog Union 09!! I'm incredibly excited about meeting some of the families whose blogs I've followed. It's going to be three days of fun swimming in the hotel pool, playing in the sand at the lake shore, eating Chicago pizza and going to what looks to be an amazing Ethiopian dinner!! I really can't wait. The flight from LA to Chicago with two kiddos in tow - not so much. This will be Tessa's first flight since coming home almost a year ago. Yikes! Can you say Baby Benadryl!
Since I'm from the Chicago area we are spending an additional week and making this a big family vacation with lots of aunts, uncles, cousins and one wonderful grandma! On August 10th, Tessa will be celebrating her second - SECOND! - birthday in Chicago surround by family. While this makes me ridiculously happy even thinking about it I also know I will be trying pretty hard not to cry the whole time. Besides inherently being a big old sentimental goofball I just can't wrap my head around how fast this last year has flown by. On top of Tessa turning two on August 10th, on September 1st it will be one year to the day since we held our beautiful daughter in our arms for the very first time. One. Year. Truly where did the last 12 months go?!
I promise to post lots of photos from BU09 once we're back and share some of the Tessa birthday magic!!
Someone actually hacked into the Html of this blog and made the entire background one giant ad. (And you know who you are and NO I'm not going to give you the satisfaction of even mentioning your name here!) I couldn't figure out how to get rid of it except to dump the whole blog template. Ugh!!! Has anyone else had this happen? And come on really, they picked this blog of all blogs?! Something like five people (and I'm including my mom and sisters here) look at this thing. If only I was a computer geek who could turn the backgrounds for their website into one giant ad for septic tank pumping services. Hummmm.... that gives me an idea.
OK I don't normally promote things here butHarmonygave Neilan one of her DVD's a few months ago and honestly it's awesome!! Because Neilan has fine motor issues writing is usually a difficult and much disliked task but he really likes this DVD! You can go to Harmony's company Steps4Kids, Inc.to order a copy or you can go to her blog to read more about it. It really is a great DVD!
..... the phone rang at 2 pm and I felt the earth move as I saw our daughter's beautiful face for the first time.
Our blog was private then. I was to scared, to nervous something could go wrong to share it with anyone besides our family and close friends. So here is my entry from that day - one year ago- when a phone call changed everything!
Today was the day! This afternoon the phone rang and our lives changed forever!! Jessica, our Gladney caseworker, was calling to tell us about our baby girl! Our baby girl! My hands began shaking - the kind of shaking you get when hearing life changing in the most amazing way, happiness without bounds kind of news! I asked Jessica if I could call her back because I needed to try and get Joe on the phone so we could hear about our daughter together. Joe is traveling on business in NY and Boston and I think I must have left about 100 messages on his cellphone to the effect of "CALLMENOWWEHAVEADAUGHTER!! JOECALLMEEEEEE!!!! CALLMENOWWWWW!!!!" No luck! Today of all days I couldn't get him on the phone!!
I knew I wouldn't be able to wait until tomorrow to see our little girl without literally exploding all over the walls so Neilan and I called Jessica back and together we watched as his new baby sister's pictures came up on the computer screen!! And she is absolutely, totally and completelygorgeous!! Jessica began trying to go through all the paperwork with me but at this point I had to bribe Neilan (gummie worms galore and TV in the middle of the day!) so I could hear what she was saying. Jessica spent 30 minutes going through all of Kidist's information with me and I honestly don't think I heard half of what she said - I just couldn't take my eyes off our daughter's sweet, beautiful face. Kidist is almost 9 months old. She is a tiny little thing with huge, soulful eyes that reach deep into your heart and grab ahold. She is simply beyond words and I am so profoundly grateful that I have been given this gift of getting to be her mother!
Poor Joe!! He was able to finally call an hour later from the back seat of his cab as he was going through the tunnels in Boston. He was on a delayed flight from NY when the call came and had just gotten my many, many messages. Now my poor husband had to wait until getting to his hotel to see pictures of his new daughter. When he called I could hear the sheer happiness in his voice as he told me he'd just seen his daughter's face. Like me it was love at first sight and a knowing in the heart that this beautiful little girl is ours - our daughter. Can you believe it?!!
Today Tessa became the newest and, in our completely humble and unbiased opinion of course, cutest little American!!
What an amazing experience! We hadn't been expecting much beyond sign here and swear that. But it was so much more. Adoptions and re-adoptions are only held on Friday afternoons so we got to wait with a lot of other families. And I'm telling you, Disneyland had nothing on that waiting area today. There was such a feeling of just plain old happiness and joy - complete with balloons and family and laughter - that it washed over you!
The judge we had was wonderful. She was genuinely delighted for us and OK who wouldn't love a judge that starts clapping for your child after finalizing their re-adoption?! She even had a great sense of humor when Neilan activated and began talking into the microphones at the lawyers tables behind us. It was a wonderful day!
(Tessa picking her own little commemorative teddy bear as we left the courtroom.)
I know, I know I haven't updated this blog in over a month! Life just has a way of keeping us very busy these days. What have we been up to? First the happy news. Well, we had our six month post placement home study. Six months! It doesn't even seem possible time has gone so fast and yet at the same time it feels like Tessa has always, always been a part of us. She simply continues to amazing us everyday! Tessa is a beautiful, loving, delightful, charming, mischievous, up-for-trouble-anytime-thank-you, giggly little bundle of joy! I can't help but feel how unbelievably lucky we got the day Gladney choose Tessa for our family. Thank you Gladney, Thank you God, Thank you cosmic forces that be for allowing us to be her parents!!
More news on the Tessa front....six months, 31 stool samples and three rounds of medication later and we are officially GIARDIA FREE!!!!!!! WoooHooooo!!! Here's hoping I never have to scoop poop into a tube again!!
OK, more news, not so happy news, and the real reason I haven't felt like blogging much. We recently found out that our smart, funny, wonderful and amazing little boy has Asperger Syndrome.
It's not like we're new to dealing with developmental issues - Neilan has been receiving PT, OT and speech for fine and gross motor delays since he was 18 months old - but this year things changed. Neilan has been struggling in kindergarten with meltdowns and transition problems and I just thought, stupid mommy that I am, that a lot of kids probably struggled like that. I mean this child taught himself to read at three and math comes easily for him so I assumed the problems were because of the physical issues Neilan faced.
A few days before Christmas one of his therapists suggested we have him evaluated - she had some concerns. As soon as I got home I called my sister, a pediatric OT in Chicago, to get her opinion. A yes or no question I asked her. Did she think Neilan had Asperger's. Yes. In-between my sobs Kathleen gave me the best advice she could have. "It's OK. Nothing has changed in the last 10 minutes. Neilan hasn't changed in the last 10 minutes. He's still the same wonderful little boy. You just have new information to help you help him. That's it." Can I just say how amazing my sister is at hand holding over the phone. So by the time the Developmental Pediatrician confirmed it for us two weeks ago it was far from a surprise. That's not to say that hearing the actual words, knowing this is what it's really going to be, didn't cut us to the heart - because it did. So for now we are busy reassessing schools for next year, working on new therapeutic game plans and frankly coming to a new sense of normal for our family.
I have so much more to say but for now this is it except for one more thing - the most important thing- how profoundly grateful and lucky we feel to be this amazing, joyful, beautiful little boy's parents!!
Despite my immense skill with a camera (LOL!) my sister Ann-Marie wisely arranged for an amazing photographer to take group and individual portraits of all the little cousins while everyone was together for Thanksgiving.
The sugar high that set in ten minutes after the photographer started was a sight to behold and you wouldn't believe all the places we found frosting during bathtime that evening but honestly, could these photos be any sweeter?
(Juliana wouldn't pose by herself so my sister Kathleen jumped in with her daughter at the last minute. The result is a photo I love.)
OK, all the mommies out there or anyone else who knows what to do, I could use some serious help with this one!
Apparently my beautiful daughter simply does not believe in the word 'sleep' nor in the word 'nap' and certainly not in the phrase 'sleeping through the night'. I have never seen a child this age go with so little overall sleep. I mean honestly, where are my two hour naps or my 10 -11 hours on continues blissful nightly sleep?! Where?!
Little Ms. Tessa is up anywhere between 4 to 5 times a night and then wants (read into that demands!) to suck on her bottle for a few minutes before she'll go back to sleep. (FYI -apparently, the caregivers where giving her two bottles a night in ET.) She also wants to sleep right on top of me or, when I just can't take that anymore, she will agree to sleep along side of me as long as this is accompanied by a nighttime concert of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" sung in a pleading, disoriented, sleep deprived tone of voice. Yes I can get her into her crib at the start of the evening (and by start I mean anywhere from 9 - 10 pm before she will finally fall asleep) but that usually lasts about three hours before she wakes up crying and the bottle in bed with me routine begins. I've tried letting her cry. Really I have. I've sat outside her room while she wailed for 50 minutes straight refusing to nap. I've tried not giving her a bottle at night or simply putting water in it but the volume and length of the protesting makes for no sleep for anyone else in the house and my 5 year old then joins in because he's been wakened and can't go back to sleep. On most days, a good nap for Tessa is anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes so you would not believed the sheer rejoicings that takes place at our house on the rare days she actually naps into the one hour zone! The latest wrinkle is Tessa has decided the best time and place for napping is in her highchair during dinner. Ouch.
And just so you know, this is a very happy little girl during the day. She simply doesn't act cranky (unlike her mother) or tired.
I'm not normally a push over in the sleep department. We used the Ferber method with our son when he was 5 months old (yes I know not everyone agrees with this method but Neilan was done in three rather painless nights and has been a good sleeper ever since) and I was OK with Tessa's sleep habits for the first couple of months because I was simply more worried about bonding and making sure Tessa felt safe and knew I would be there for her then the actually sleeping part. But now, well now I'm just plain tired and cranky most of the time from not having had a solid night of sleep in almost five months and there doesn't appear to be any end in sight. So I'm throwing in the towel and waving the white flag on this one - I don't know what to do about the sleep situation at this point so if any of you have any advice at all I would be very, very grateful to hear it.