Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Chaos!

As expected, our Christmas was wonderful, chaotic, sad (without Mom), and most of all -- OVER!! YAY!

A good time was had by all, and the kids are already planning their lists for next year, although I'm not sure if Santa will be able to top himself. On Christmas Eve, Steve picked up my present. Two kittens! One boy and one girl. They are adorable in the psychotic way that kittens are, and by far, everyone's favorite gift. The boys follow them around everywhere and the poor kittens have taken to hiding under the coffee table, the beds, really anywhere the boys aren't!





Cute, aren't they?



Gracie enjoying her favorite present. A hideously fuzzy green chair. As you can see, she loves it!






The boys and their stockings.


Zach and his most requested gift. A bright orange stuffed Phoenix puppet. The thing goes everywhere with him!






Aftermath of the chaos!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and am wishing all of you, the best of years in 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

This year it's snowmen

So last year, Caleb was terribly afraid of Santa Claus. I mean to the point where we'd see men with white beards in Walmart & he'd start screaming. We had several weeks of Santa Claus nightmares last year (only the way he says it, it's Na Cwaus) and have just now, an entire year later, settled down about the whole Santa thing.

I guess I can kind of understand. You're in China, minding your own business, then one day these crazy Americans bring you to a new home, new food, new people, and to top it all off, apparently once a year some fat man in a red suit is going to land on your roof and slide down the chimney. Then he's going to prowl around your house, eat all of your cookies and leave some presents. All while you're sleeping. Gotta say, I can understand where the kid's coming from.

Anyway, this year, thanks to a poorly timed viewing of Scooby Doo & the headless Snowman, Caleb is now terrified of snowmen. I wasn't home for the fated cartoon, but Steve tells men that said snowman takes his head off and throws it at people. So as you can guess, it's nightmares all around at the Knipper household. Sigh, I'm sure by now, Caleb is wishing he had stayed in China!

Oh the memories!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Link

Since I'm not the most faithful blogger, I figured, why not set up a new blog so that I'll have two I don't update. Makes sense in my head...

So, the new link on the right under Favorite Links called "Writing Life" will take you to my writing blog. It's about, yes, Writing. Mainly the fiction writing I do. There's even a link to one of my stories that was published online.

Anyway, check it out if for no other reason than to move the little counter at the bottom of the page out of double digits.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Caleb has a girlfriend, or two, or three...

For a while now, Steve and I have known that of the boys, Caleb is going to be the problem when it comes to girls. He's just so cute & he knows it! Well, now we have proof. Apparently, Caleb has a girlfriend in pre-school. Actually, he has two & might have a third.

A few days ago, he came off the bus grinning and covering his face with his hands. I laughed and asked him what was going on. All I could get was, "Hannah, Lauren. Ask my teacher." Then the hands went back over the eyes and the giggling started.

Being an astute and watchful mom, I deduced that what we must have here are the first seeds of love. I asked him if he liked said Hannah & Lauren (by the way, the names are said together, quickly -- Hannahlauren, as if the two girls are one person) and he pulled his shirt up over his face. I took that as a yes. When I asked if they were nice, he said, "Yes." When I asked if they were pretty, he buried his face in the couch and said, "Ask my teacher." I also took that as a yes.

So, taking his own advice, I asked his teacher on Saturday (she runs the theraputic horse riding clinic where Grace takes lessons every Saturday). She was not aware of the Hannahlauren development, but laughed and said she'd send home the class scrapbook so we could see pictures.

The book came home in Caleb's backpack yesterday and we spent thirty-five minutes looking at Hannahlauren. Near the end, we started looking at another little girl, Madison. All I can say is, preschool girls, watch out! Caleb's apparently discovered girls.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's been a long time...

Since I've updated this blog. As most of you know, my mom died in April and honestly, it seems like everything has been so much harder since then. Especially now, as we get closer to the holidays. Anyway, every time I'd sit down to write, I just couldn't because I'd think of Mom and of how she was really the glue that helped hold my life together. She was always over here, helping with the kids and it's hard to write about my family without thinking about the enormous empty spot in all of our lives now that she's not here. Even with all of the kids & activity that goes on in our house (and there's a lot ), it just seems so lonely without her here.

Here she is, holding Zach when he was a baby. This is how I'll always remember her:





Even now, with happy news to share (I'll get to it in a minute), the first thing I think of is that she's not here to share it.

Well, my throat is closing and tears are threatening to spill, so before that happens, on to the good news. We finally got our LOA (Letter of Acceptance) for Sarah, which means that we will probably be in China some time in the next 6 weeks! YAY! All I can say is FINALLY. This adoption has taken soooo long. With Grace, it was 8 months start to finish. With Caleb, 10 months. With Sarah, looks like it will be 14 months. That's way too long for any child to wait.

But, one really good thing about this adoption, is that we've been able to write to her & I have a new picture to share. This is Sarah, eating the birthday cake we had delivered to her orphanage the day that she turned 12. Isn't she beautiful!!



Well, I promise to update more faithfully from now on, especially as we get closer to our departure date.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

PA & Zach's birthday




Well, first, we got our Pre-Approval for Sarah on Friday! I've been so worried about being approved this time because of China's rule change last year. So many good families have been turned down & with Crohn's I thought we might be one of them, but lucky for us we weren't! Now we just have to hurry up on the rest of the paperwork & got over there. This is always the hardest part.

But now that we are officially approved, we can start writing to Sarah & sending her stuff! I have to say, for anyone considering older child adoption it's just as exciting as our other two. And in some ways more. I talked with another family whose daughter was in the same SWI as Sarah (hi Meigan!). Anyway, their daughter Meigan called Sarah & told her we were coming! According to Meigan, Sarah was very excited about having a family. And I am so glad that she knows we are working hard to bring her home. I'm glad that she knows she has a family, even if we aren't there yet. We are all so excited to bring her home.

The other news is that Zach turned 5 on Wednesday and I'm in denial. I can still remember the first time I saw him. He was already 3 days old and in an isolet. They wheeled me up from ICU, still in my bed because I had just gotten off of the respirator and had over a foot of open incisions. I couldn't hold him--not because he couldn't be held--but because I wasn't strong enough to. I couldn't do anything more than stroke his back, but it was enough. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. So tiny, he fit in the palm of my hand. I was so, so sick but when I think of that moment, I don't remember being sick. I just remember the joy that poured out of my heart at finally meeting this little guy I had carried around with me for 6.5 months.

And now he's 5. A big boy. No longer that little baby I rocked to sleep every night. He will start kindergarten in the fall. It seems like such a big turning point in his life and I have to say, I'm not ready for it. I know they have to grow up, but shouldn't there be a way to stretch time? Some way to slow it down until we're ready? I know, I know, I'll never be ready.

Friday, February 22, 2008

3rd time's a charm...you'd think

Okay, you'd think by the third adoption you'd have all of your paperwork together & ready to go before your first home study visit. Well, if you were thinking that about me, you'd be wrong! For Gracie and Caleb the paperwork was pretty easy. I had several copies of Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses, etc. This time, I don't have anything so everything is running behind.

For example, I mailed our I-600A (that's the form that the US requires for an international adoption) to Louisville several weeks ago. Well, I got it back with a letter saying I forgot to include birth certificates & marriage license. I had the birth certificates but no marriage license. So I had to order a new copy which meant waiting another week before sending the form back to Louisville. So we've lost another week. Aggh. We've only started and it seems like forever.

Then there's Caleb's certificate of foreign birth. I'm trying to file for it but we've lost his passport (either that or he's hidden it somewhere, he likes to take things, especially things with pictures and hide them in the bathroom cabinets, under his bed, in his pillow case, well, you get the picture. So without the passport and his entry stamp, I have to call and find out if we can use his Certificate of Citizenship. Now you'd think that would be okay, it has his name, it's issued by the US gov. and it has a picture of him on it. But it wasn't good enough for the Social Security Office when we went there for his card. Sigh.

The good thing is that I have done this before and I do know that it will all work out. It's just so slow.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Things are looking up...well, sort of

Well, things really are looking up from a Gracie stand point. She's starting to come out of her funk. Yay!! She's walking better & the drooling and scratching are a little better. Also, she's back to babbling again. Before all of this started she was starting to string sounds together to almost form words. But then this regression hit and she just got silent again. Well, she's starting to babble again, this morning she was walking around going, "mum, mum, mum, mum." She's probably just practicing her "mm" sound but I'm going to believe it's the start of saying Mommy!

The big thing we've got to work on with her now is keeping her finger out of her nose. She discovered it recently and apparently, it's a good place to just park your finger. Who knew? Only, of course with Grace, everything has to be a bit different. She not only sticks her finger up her nose past the middle knuckle, but she digs around until the bottom half of her face is covered in blood. That's right, she picks till she bleeds. Yuck! But that's my girl. Never content just to let peace exist for a while, always on to something else.

As for the boys, well, there's good and bad. The good is that Caleb went pee pee on the potty!!! Yay! Big celebration! If I could get him out of diapers then I'd just be down to Grace! He was so proud of himself. He was sitting on the little potty up in my bathroom & I had gone downstairs to get a new diaper. I was on the top stairs and could see right into our bedroom when here comes Caleb, hobbling along, pants down to his ankles yelling, "PEE PEE ON THE POTTY!!" Then he did this little hop, skip dance and promptly fell down on his tush. Since then he's been telling everyone he sees about the potty. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Maybe by summer Gracie will be the last one in diapers. What will I do with all my free time?

The only bad news of the day comes for Zach. Those of you who know him know that Zach has a habit of developing very strong attachments for the weirdest things. Recently it's been a starfish (yep, a real dead starfish) that he found out Hobby Lobby & convinced us to buy for him. He's been carrying this thing around for months. It sleeps next to him on his bed. He gives it little drinks of water. He prays for it at night. And one night we were up for hours trying to explain to a very distraught and tearful Zach why God didn't make all of his "guys" (the thousands of stuffed animals--and starfish--he has packed into his bed) alive when he prayed for them. Maybe we've had one to many reading of the Velveteen Rabbit.

Anyway, Steve and I went out last night (saw The Bucket List, it was excellent) and Mom watched the kids. So we got home and the kids were still up. Not unusual because when we go out we leave early so that we can be home in time to put them to bed. Well, this time Zach was crying when we came in the door. Apparently starfish had been left on the floor and Darby (our dog) snatched it up and ate all but one sad little starfish limb. Zach was beside himself. We had to save the afore mentioned severed starfish limb & then we spent this morning searching for a new starfish.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, a giant starfish doesn't sit well on a dog's stomach. This morning we came down to big puddles of partially digested starfish. Zach looked on while Steve cleaned it up yelling, "Is that my starfish?! Why did Darby eat my starfish?!"

Sigh, so now the kids are tucked in bed, the boys with their starfish, yes, Caleb has one now too, and Grace with her fingers, hopefully out of her nose.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ramblings...

Well, as you might have read in the last post, things have been a little rough here at Casa de Knipper. Grace has been in a major regression. And I mean Major. She's doing things she hasn't done in months -- stuffing her mouth again, her pinching and scratching is worse, more drooling, grinding her teeth, and collapsing to the ground whenever she doesn't want to go somewhere. She's had spells like this before but this is absolutely the longest it has lasted. The other day she followed me around the house head butting me. Now, it would be funny but Grace is a solid little thing. It hurts!!

I just hope she gets out of this phase before we go see her Developmental Doc. Every time we see the woman she lays something else on me. Last time, I thought we were going to have a really good visit. Grace was able to walk from the parking garage all the way to the office, and let me tell you, that's a big walk. Even Zach would have struggled with it. Ever other time we've had to bring the stroller, but Grace's walking had improved so much I didn't need it at all. So anyway, we get to the office and the nurse's go through the drill. Height. Weight. Head Circumference. Now Grace had just been in the ER the night before because she had a stomach virus and was dehydrated so she was a little reserved during this visit. So I tried playing with her to bring her around a bit -- bouncing her on my knee, swinging her upside down, really anything with fast, rough movement.

So the doctor comes in, frowns some at Grace and examines her. I told her how well Grace was doing with her walking and everything but it didn't really matter. Just as we were starting to leave, the doctor said we should start thinking about institutionalizing Grace. WHAT?! THE CHILD IS ONLY 3!!!

I left the office in a daze and sat in the car and cried. If we were going to do that we would have left her in China.

Anyway, her next visit with this doctor is coming up so I guess I'm a little worried about what bomb she's going to drop on me this time.

Oh well, among other things, we've started our home study for Sarah and are hoping to travel some time in the fall. Mom & I have even started shopping a little for her. It's weird because she's only a little smaller than I am!

The other news is that Steve has officially entered the race for Kentucky State Rep. Check out his site & blog if you are interested in politics.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Arrrgh!!

Today is one of "those" days. You know, the kind where you wake up in a funk and everything is downhill from there. Nothing's really wrong. The weather is beautiful, about 55 degrees out--amazing for January, and the kids have been fine. Well, except for Grace. She has had several bad days in a row and it's starting to wear me down. She's not sick, hasn't had a seizure or anything like that. She's just being really, REALLY difficult. Collapsing to the ground when I need her to walk. Chewing on electrical cords. (Yes, you read that right, electrical cords. It's her new favorite activity. She crawls behind the furniture to find them--makes me CRAZY!) Scratching me, hitting me, biting me...you get the picture.

It's not unusual for her to go through spells like this. She'll have several really good days in a row and then this. I know it will pass, we've been through it before, but it always worries me about what I'm going to do when she's older and bigger than I am. How will I pick up a 90 lb kid who falls to the ground because she doesn't want to leave the toy room? And then the scratching and hitting will really hurt. Argh. Most days I try not to think about it, because there's nothing I can do now & deeeep down I know it will work out somehow, but somedays, like today, it just wears on you. Add that to tomorrow when I have to go to the Medicaid office to renew her coverage, uggh.

But then there are little things that help you keep going. Like last night. Grace has been giving kisses recently, but normally not to me. It's hard for her because she really doesn't like eye contact or having anyone that close to her face. But last night I leaned into her and held real still. She twitched and blinked and turned her head away. But I just stayed there, not moving. Slowly she leaned forward, puckered up and planted the briefest kiss on my lips. Then she pulled away, gave her happy scream and started flapping her hands and feet. It made me melt.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Twenty years ago...

Steve & I went on our first date. It was 1988, the year of big spiral permed hair (for me, not Steve!) and the year I started dating my husband. We were seniors in high school and worked together at Van Leunen's (a little like K-Mart). As fate would have it, we were both working the register that day and Steve worked up the nerve to ask me out. Lucky for him I said yes!

So off we went after work to what would become our staple, dinner and a movie. Dinner was at Frisch's and the movie was "Fatal Attraction." Not exactly a great first date movie! But then again, we were both dating other people at the time...

Anyway, it must have worked because here we are, 20 years later. To celebrate, tonight we will have dinner (which Zach won't eat because it's pot roast), give the kids baths, followed by mopping up all the water they'll splash on the floor. Then put them to bed. Hopefully we'll finish up by 9:00 and then maybe we'll catch a movie on T.V. Hmmm, here we are, 20 years later, and it's still dinner and a movie, just with a little extra thrown in!

I can honestly say that 20 years ago this is not how I pictured life. My 17 year old self wanted the big job and the big house. Kids factored in there somewhere. But what I didn't know, what I never expected, is how much sweeter everything is now that we have 3 (soon 4) little people to share our lives with. I never dreamed I could love so much or work so hard. And thankfully, I have a man who knows what the the most important things in life are. And I'm sure the next time I'm looking at the faces of all those waiting children and find our 5th child, he'll be right there with me saying, "Let's go get them."