Monday, March 5, 2012

Full House

Every few weeks Matt has a bunch of his friends sleep over. This weekend there were a total of seven teenage boys sleeping in the basement. So much potential for disaster but they are always super.

At breakfast we heard them discussing what the Bible says about eating meat versus being vegetarian. Just a great moment to hear how they involve God in even mundane or random things. I love these guys!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

What do most people do on Valentine's Day? I've never really liked it as a holiday...the whole "forced romance" thing. Plus, restaurants are packed and flowers just seem so insincere on this day. My hubs is so sweet and brings me flowers lots...just on random days! And I'd rather have a romantic date night with him some other night when the kids aren't amped up on sugar, babysitters don't charge quadruple and I don't have to stand in line for an hour just to get in the place. Our little escape this year...while the boys are in school on Friday we are sneaking off for a lunch date and a movie. It's the little things!

This year we had a "visitor" for the Valentine's Day festivities...Bouncy Bear. This rather fur-less, and slightly smelly guy spends the week with each student in the class and participates in activities with them. Kind of a Flat Stanley thing. We take pictures, the kids write about it and it goes to the next student. Nathan has taken this extremely seriously and Bouncy Bear has done EVERYTHING with him. 

While I objected to his germs of unknown origin sitting on my kitchen table, Bouncy Bear helped Nathan finish his Valentine's cards

Nathan still struggles to write so this was no small task for him.

The part of Valentine's Day I love is sharing it with the kids. I think my memories of Valentine's breakfast, usually before school, as a kid were such happy ones. Usually there was a little decoration on the table and one little Valentine-y gift for each of us. Nothing big, just small stuff like the little wind-up lady bug in the picture.

We have a few more decorations now, although still not many, and we give a couple little gifts like chocolate or gum, but it's really the same thing. Strawberry milk, cereal in little plastic heart bowls, and confetti make it a really special breakfast. 

And who doesn't love muffins in a cupcake stand? These are the best muffins in the world...and that's not easy to say when you eat gluten-free. They are apple cinnamon muffins made with almond flour and agave. SO good!

Oh joy, look who sat on my table again.  Just love the missing fur on this well loved bear. Speaking of missing things, check out the toothless grin on Nate!

 Last night, in stead of going out to dinner, we had a special one in and then the boys decorated cookies. Our pushy guest had to get in on that too, although we did make him pretend to wash his paws.

It was a nice day but now forever haunted by memories of losing our baby two years ago. Ugh. But then again, I guess most people have some bad memories of this day (not being asked out, still being single, in a bad marriage, husband forgot, etc.) which I guess is one of the big reasons that I just don't rank this day up there very high in my list of favorite holidays. 

Oh well, on to Saint Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A New Visitor

This little furry thing came for a visit and had fun eating pumpkins and checking out my flower pots on the back deck for almost 30 minutes. 

Very brave little critter...and brave puppies! The cat took off like a rocket when the raccoon first headed towards the door.

After she went over the edge of the porch she peeked back up for one last look before heading into the woods.

Last post about visitors to our porch, I promise hope! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

an infertility answer... maybe

One of the most frustrating parts of this infertility journey for us has been the unknown. Even after every test under the sun (and you know what, there are LOTS of them, each more painful and expensive than the last) our REs still said that it was "unexplained". More than kind of sucky after investing so much in order to figure things out, and at (almost) 40 really feeling like our time is about up. I don't remember exactly how we finally ended up hearing about immune causes for both unexplained infertility and pregnancy loss, but we eventually decided to look into it and... what do ya know... they found some things.

Reproductive immunology is still a relatively new and somewhat controversial field....but it's growing really fast and has had some incredible results... and we've looked into everything else. Since there is a family history of immune problems, and before we decided whether or not to move forward with any ARTs (artificial reproductive technologies), we thought we'd give it a shot. Through some great ladies on a yahoo board and a book by Dr. Beer, a pioneer in the field, I realized that I may very well have stumbled onto something.

To make a long story short, we had a consult with a reproductive immunologist (one of only a few in the country), did the bloodwork... TONS of bloodwork on both of us... and found that there are several issues that could be/are preventing us from both conceiving and carrying our baby to term. It feels good to finally, possibly, have an answer.

Seems that in addition to some mild clotting issues, and high Natural Killer cells (NK cells) which can attack an embryo and prevent it from implanting, there are also 8 HLA matches between the two of us. Eight is incredibly significant and may also be what's causing my NK cells to be elevated. Presumably, this can cause big issues with pregnancy. Who knew.

[If you want to read more about HLA matching you can check out Dr. Braverman's site here.]

What does all this mean for us? For now we are going to try some of the less expensive meds that will suppress my wonky immune system,  and see how that works. We are prayerfully hopeful about this, as the one time I actually did get pregnant was when I was on prednisone (immune suppressant) for a sinus infection.  I guess our next step would be to see about the more expensive (better) meds that have been recommended. Beyond that... who knows... God has only shown us the next step for now. And we're okay with that.

Monday, January 9, 2012

One year update...a little late

It's been a little over a year since we brought Nathan home so I guess I'm a little overdue for an update on his progress. (uh, seems like way more than just a year.) I can't possibly cover everything so I'll give you a few highlights.

 His language skills are absolutely amazing. He is easily understood by everyone and most people are very surprised to find out that he has only been speaking English for a year. This was my biggest fear pre-adoption...that we wouldn't be able to communicate at all...and it's been a total non-issue. Score one for N! You can see him in action here - and it's pretty funny.

He is now seven, but in school we have him in Kindergarten since he wasn't at all familiar with the alphabet (no English education at the baby house...shocker, right?) or the concept of school, and he's doing well. A year ago he couldn't even hold a pencil/crayon and would constantly switch hands. Now he has decided he's right-handed and is writing much better. He does a lot of backwards letters and actually does a bunch of "mirror writing" (words and letters all backwards like in a mirror), but the teachers don't think this is a concern yet. Hmmm. He's still not able to identify the whole alphabet but he's getting there - and he's showing much more interest. He can tell you almost all the sounds that they make but still doesn't understand that the sounds go together to make a word. Shapes, colors and all other typical kindergarten stuff is no problem for him. His favorites are lunch, library day and recess. How unusual. :)

He can light up a room with his smile and he is genuinely happy most of the time. The kid is a real charmer. He has done really well with all the new experiences he's had and hasn't shown any fear of anything that I can think of. Well, in Almaty he was afraid of the big, scary men dressed up in weird animal costumes. But nothing since then. Even at the beach he flung himself into the water with abandon.  (yes, the same ocean that the judge almost denied our adoption for. apparently she thought it would be incredibly foolish to take a child there. heehee)

We are struggling with some attachment issues which is, honestly, something expected because of the first six years of his life. Because of this past Nathan has a difficult time feeling comfortable with attachments - with his immediate family, and even forming friendships with kids at school. For the most part he is over-the-top charming to every single person he meets but there are some down sides and we really want him to learn how to truly trust people. My advice for prospective adoptive parents is to educate yourselves as much as possible about attachment issues so you can start parenting appropriately from the very start. We have faith that God's hand is at work in this situation and that it will get better so Nathan can live a life with normal relationships, free from some of the pain of his early childhood!

Overall, our daily life with Nate at home is really nice and he truly is a joy to be around (most of the time). :) Sounds pretty much like any normal kid to me.

While Nathan has certainly been the one doing most of the "learning", we have picked up a few things as well. I did a kind of "top ten" list soon after we got home and I think I'll revise it and post it soon.

Thursday, January 5, 2012 year later

Last Christmas we had only been home from picking Nathan up in Kaz for less than 2 months. It was crazy! This year was much better! It was so nice to have both boys, in our house, and more settled than last year.

Matt and his trusty side-kick Lego

Sam and Lego enjoying their Christmas treats.

I love to see how excited the boys get when giving their gifts to others!

Love those smiles :)


Is that not frightening? :) 

This about sums it up!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Life According to Nathan

Do you want to know what a little boy who has been home for 1 year sounds like? Here you go! 

Nathan has been very insistent for months that I will have a baby boy and girl at the same time. He's gone through several sets of names (the first being Shaggy and Daphne) before settling on Redskin and Emily (as in Clifford and Emily), and every time we go to the store he talks about all the things the babies will need. It's really funny so tonight I decided to record it so we can share it with  you. He went on about numerous other things too. I know it's long but it's really worth it! 

My favorite highlights: 

* his brother will be in his room and his sister will be in Matt's,

* if they wake up at night we are to quietly get them up and feed them "five milks" and sing sleepy             songs...WITHOUT waking him up, 

* that he will be on call if we have any discipline problems with the babies even after he's grown and living on his own, 

* and that he will be changing his name to "Lightning McQueen" when he's Daddy's age.

Good to know.

After we finished filming this Nathan, of course, had to watch it. Then he promptly said "Mommy, you can't talk in my movie."  Oops.