11/28/2006Post-Adoptive Workup: Round Deux
So I got to thinking that I just wasn't ok with the basic well visit I had with our family doc for Addison. I wanted the full post-adoptive workup. Which is a little odd for me, we are very holistic and naturalistic in our medical views. I don't do well-child visits, for the most part, we don't vaccinate and I can count the number of times on one hand that all of my kids, collectively, have had antibiotics. But Addison wasn't born at home, from my body, into my arms and fed by my breasts. She has a whole unknown history and it felt naive and irresponsible to just assume everything is fine.
So I asked around and found a good adoption doc and took her in. Boy did they do the work-up!! She had ten - TEN - vials of blood that needed to be drawn (of which we successfully had 6 - tear-free, I might add - vials taken...the rest will have to be done on Thursday), one TB test, 3 various hugely unsuccessful hearing tests, weight (down 1 lbs - that is 2 lbs lower than the SOS clinic weight in Vietnam - yikes!) and length (just under 27").
I can't even tell you all the things they screened for but I know the list includes titers for various vaccines, a kidney test of some sort (this is related to her ear tags), Hep B, Hep C, HIV, lead, anemia/thalessemia, the Michigan newborn screening exam and then we were sent home with a urine bag and several vials for various stool samples which we will return on Thursday when we come back to have the TB test read and any more necessary blood drawn.
We have another follow-up in audiology in 3 weeks for another attempt at hearing tests which will likely be as unsuccessful as today's version. 7 month olds and hearing tests do NOT coexist happily. She was too active for the newborn hearing test and too unresponsive and disinterested for the older kid hearing exam and the third test, the probe was too big for her ear canal. Fail, fail fail. Since we will not really do anything differently, regardless of the tests, they are mainly just out of curiosity at this point. I'm not sweating them either way.
Addison had a great time although the office was SO HOT that we were both a little uncomfy. She loved being there and loved all the procedures except the TB (don't blame her, TB tests HURT). She wasn't real thrilled when they tried to take blood from her hand out of desperation for a cooperative vein but she didn't fuss too much. She passed her developmental tests with flying colors and we just need to work on her leg muscle tone. We were advised to feed her on demand, up to 40 oz of formula a day (unrelated to her drop in weight which they attribute to different scales, different clothing, diapers full vs empty, etc). So this is good because we were having a really hard time keeping her to just 32 oz a day and it will be MUCh better for all of us to up it to closer to 40.
So I think that's it! The boring details. Today she turned 7 months old - what a day to spend the day, huh? Thankfully it's all good to her! The worst part of the day was the drive to the doctor office, 45 minutes away. One hungry baby and one solo mama did not a great pair make!
One last note: I already feel like such the instinctive mama. I told the nurses, straight off, that she would have no problems with the blood draw and asked if I could give her her bottle to keep her occupied (so she would not grab at the line, needle, etc). They told me that she would NOT be able to drink, she would be too upset, and that I should ave the drink for later. They even asked if I wanted to leave the room for the draw!!!!! What!?!?!? Sheesh. She it was validating when she not only did not shed a tear but also drank happily from her bottle through the end (when she was bored and tired of sitting still through 6 slow vials of blood). So haha - I know my kid better than anyone :-)
They did it! Last night Noah slept all night without waking once (even despite going to be at 7pm) and woke up at 6am! And Addison only woke for one bottle at 3am.
I had so much recuperative sleep I had no idea what to do with myself come 6am and I did the unthinkable and offered to let my husband sleep in (he looked like a zombie - apparently he can't handle uninterrupted sleep? haha) which he took me up on for a grand 45 minutes.
This only means one thing. It is time to get down to business. There are three orders of business that MUST be dealt with now that we are all back on a normal sleep schedule:
1) Time to get out the breastpump and build a supply and get that baby off formula
2) Put up the Christmas decorations
3) Start homeschooling again
Our vacation is officially over! Tonight' Tony's 3 kids come home from a very long (the longest in their life, in fact) adoption-related absence. They get to meet baby Addy and tomorrow they go back to school after a very rough month for them full of ridiculous numbers of absences and even more ridiculous numbers of unmet homework assignments. We are all happy to get back to Life As Usual and get back on track. There is a certain amount of calm and happiness in routine and predictability: school (home and away), homework, making baby food, giving bottles, changing diapers, preparing dinner, cleaning messes. These aren't "fun" things but they are the foundation of our life and where our sense of security and reliability and predictability come from. Bring It On, I say.
11/25/2006I'm One Of Them!
I have turned into 'one of them' in more ways than one.
First of all, I am one of them. Those people (you know who you are!) that are terrific bloggers while traveling and then crash and burn once they get home. That's me! I have a lot to say but NO time to say it! It does not help any that it is the holiday season and I have out of town guests arriving in a few days. Or that pesky new baby! But we are here. In brief:
- The baby is doing well. She is getting fatter and fatter! She is a great eater - eats 3 squares of solids and her full fill of formula plus a few extra ounces that I will call "catch-up" eating! haha. Also apparently "catch up" eating does not involve peas, just so you know. She is very close to crawling and can get where she wants by rolling and turning. She is VERY curious about everything and also very dexterous which is fun. She communicates with us better each week and is more expressive with her needs which makes me so happy. She also is babbling more and more and has a few "baby tricks" that she will do. Her sitting is doing well, she can support herself but can not yet play with toys while she is sitting. Soon! I do believe she is right where she should be for her age. She has a more thorough post-adoption physical on Tuesday, also the day she turns 7 months old.
- The baby has an ear infection and a cold. So does Noah. He was up last night with a 105 degree fever. That was fun. Meanwhile sleep is a commodity we have yet to experience. Between Noah and Addison's jetlag and now their colds, we tag-team the kids all night and get no sleep. Ok, huge exaggeration. They are up about 3 times total between them. This is SO not a big deal. But I am DYING to get just one restorative night's sleep. Tony will take over both kids all night but I still wake up until they are both asleep 9 times out of 10 so it isn't helpful. Finally last night I brought Addison to bed with me and we drifted to sleep together. It was so lovely, I really miss having a baby in our bed. I hope she gets used to it and finds it soothing. I think she is moving in that direction. As I type, she is snuggled in our bed snoozing away.
- Eczema. The baby has a killer case. We are trying to figure out the cause but of course that is almost impossible right now. I don't think she has issues with food. It is either the dogs or just the new air with the dry heat and cold of Michigan. Also she got a KILLER breakout last night but woke up with a cold so now I know another trigger...when her immune system is otherwise busy, the eczema will flare.
- Thanksgiving: we had a wonderful meal with my Mom and brother. The food was great, if not on the easy-convenient side compared to years past. But I think I actually liked it BETTER than years past! So much for scratch cooking. We took the 17 lb carcass and cooked up some turkey soup. Yum.
- Christmas Prep: We have had our boxes upstairs for a week and still no decorations up. Today is the day. Or tomorrow. haha.
- Impending Move: We are still definitely planning to move to Texas. We have a few major goals we have to meet first and so the move might be another year or so out depending on whether or not we rent a house (vs. buying which would involve selling our current house first), whether or not Tony finds a good job, etc. My sense of urgency is huge. I don't want to wait a few more years for this. My kids are getting older every day and thinking of them spending another year or more stuck here with no good friends or options or resources makes me insane, as a parent.
That brings me to the other "one of them" I am part of. The Black Friday crowd!!!!! Oh my gosh, I just live for this day. It is my favorite day of the year, far surpassing Christmas and all others. It is the only day I voluntarily wake up early for - haha. It is the only day I spend and spend and buy and buy and never feel an ounce of guilt. I plan for this day all year, I budget for it, I start scouring the black Friday ads a month or more before the actual day. I just LOVE the crowds, the people (who are generally very nice) and the deals. I love the whole thing. I am the lunatic walking around with this huge Cheshire cat grin on my face the whole day. I know it is an illness, right? But it makes me happy for one day of the year. Ok two days if you count the early thanksgiving morning sales. And, well, three if you also count the Saturday sales. Which I also hit this morning. And also in case you want to know just how sick I am, I also love driving in those hellacious snow storms where everyone stays home because 12 inches of snow on the roads is considered a hazard. Hazard-shmazard, I say! There are just certain situations that are so ultimately chaotic and insane that there is a certain zen about embracing them. I like Human Nature in these situations. I know there are Bad Eggs that show up on the evening news but mostly people are so nice, friendly and patient. We, as human beings, band together. And these times - the black Friday shopping and the snow storm driving, are maybe the only times in an entire year that people in my area are more than just civil - they are actually openly friendly and kind.
So just call me One Of Them! I don't mind. But you won't see me on the evening news. I use this opportunity to practice Buddhist Mindfulness and other important habits that I should be encouraging over the yaer but that, sadly, I don't. If only it was Black Friday ever day :-)
11/24/2006What I'm Thankful For: Part Deux
11/20/2006What Are You Thankful For?
I am taking Jenn's challenge and sharing my own thankfulness this morning.
Frivolously and immediately, I am thankful that my 4 year old only woke up 2 times during the night and had a decent night's sleep for the first time since we returned home from Vietnam last Wednesday. I am doubly thankful that Addison also had a decent night and only a rough morning of frequent waking. Yay for a good night's sleep for both adults in this house! Also, my older two boys both are completely over their jetlag which I am infinitely grateful for.
But on a more serious level, I am thankful for daughter and all her bits and pieces: those beautiful eyes that light up when she sees me, her pudgy little cheeks - proof that she is growing and thriving with our love and care, her amazing smile that she flashes constantly whenever we walk into view, her sweet fingers that reach for us when we are what she needs, her small feet that barely fit into her socks and tights and yet still hold her weight as she grows by leaps and bounds, her sweet hair that smells like sugar and sticks straight up and is getting darker by the day as it gets longer, her tiny ears, tags and all, that my 4 year old says look like "flowers blooming"....the list is endless.
I am thankful for my children who have such strong characters and even stronger intuitions. Who are giving and empathic and endlessly patient with their baby sister's needs. Who welcome this sweet angel into our lives like she has been there since the day we all decided, together, to adopt. Who fight over who will care for her, hold her, love her, play with her and feed her next. Who make me proud in everything they do and say and remind me exactly what is important in life, when push comes to shove.
I am thankful for my husband who happens to be the best Baby-Daddy you will ever meet. Addison prefers him to all others and he never acts burdened or put out, confused or overwhelmed by her needs. He isn't afraid to parent her and was seen many times around Ha Noi with all four kids by himself, the baby tucked happily in the sling. He has already taken her to run errands and took all four kids to the movies by himself. He keeps the bottles clean and tries to help in the ways that he thinks are most helpful to me. He loves me the best that he knows how and never gives up, even when things are impossibly difficult in our lives.
Last but not least, I am thankful for my friends - my local friends, my blog friends and of course my Texas Mamas who have stood by my side through the last 11 months of pretty serious depression, dysfunction and failed commitments on my part. I am thankful they haven't given up on me and always remind me of my potential and root me on or given me their shoulder when I needed it most. I love you all.
The list could go on and on but I'll stop there. This is a good experience and I encourage you all to do like Jenn and share your thanks - big and small.
11/19/2006Look What I Won!
While we were in Vietnam, on a whim, I entered to win this tshirt from AdoptProud and won! I'm so excited!! I entered at Cool Mom Picks, one of my favorite blogs out there. Just had to brag, that's all :-) I never win anything so I think it was good karmic timing :-)
We had our medical this morning and it went fantastic! She got a clean bill of health although we still need to have her bloodwork done. NOT looking foreword to that. Her ears were both free of infection and structural abnormalities. Yay! She passed all her little screenings with flying colors and was a total giggly smiling charmer with our doctor :-) Also she gained 1.5lbs. That is since our SOS appointment one week ago. That is some crazy baby growing!!! She also shrank (haha) .75" so she is now 26.25" tall and 17.25 lbs. She is definitely filling out and looking great and also spending a great deal of time bearing weight on her previously non-weight-bearing legs so this is exciting for her.
I have a lot of blogs running through my head. The one were I talk about our flight nightmare in LAX. The one where I talk about the amazing experience of adoption and how it feels to be this child's mother. The one that talks about our connection as a family. The one that updates you all on how we are doing now and how Addison is adjusting. The jetlag post. The adorable videos we have take in the last few days. The one that talks about Noah's adjustment, etc. I also have some more travel advice like places that deliver in Ha Noi and our Embassy experience. But we are crazy-busy right now trying to knock out a bunch of stuff on our to-do list while Tony is off work for paternity leave and trying to adjust to the jetlag. So they will come, eventually. My goal for the day was to get up the video Tony took last night. I obviously did not meet that goal but we did manage to get all the kids to sleep in until at least 5am, attend our baby check-up, run an errand to a friend's for some stuff I need for this weekend, run over to Babies R Us to pick up some necessities and go through all our luggage we had as of this morning (now we have our last two suitcases - totally ruined but present in our home - so I have those left to sort through), do a load of vacation laundry and pick up our dogs from the kennel. I think that isn't too bad for our first full day back home from Vietnam, right? So if I am quiet, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. It is just that we are doing a lot in a short period of time. Plus the 3 hour jetlag naps in the afternoon. More soon!
11/15/2006We are home!
We are home! We landed just over 12 hours ago. I will update more but we
Lots of updates later - thanks for all the well-wishes via email and
11/14/2006Sick of me yet?
So we should have checked out by now but it is 12:40 and here we sit. Why? Because our super-efficient and always-on-the-job agency already picked up Addison's visa earlier today so we don't have to leave an hour early to do that task! Incidentally, they also took our tickets to the EVA office this morning first thing to get our last leg confirmed with the little flight change stickers so that, too, was done for us. What is a girl to do when someone is doing everything for you? Why, blog of course!
We also ordered lunch, since we are here right now and the rest of the day will be too crazy to eat until we board our plane for dinner. We decided to try the extremely odd but very convenient Ukrainian-Vietnamese diner right off The Compound. I am having cherry perogi and the boys are having Chicken Kiev. It isn't here yet but I anxiously await the meal out of complete curiosity! haha. They even sell something called "homemade fish" which leaves a bit to the imagination.
Dalton is watching baby Einstein, you know the natives are getting restless. Noah announced that someone (I have a few guesses) is getting on his last nerve. Apparently, he has three. So we don't do "standby" so well.
What else have I got to ramble on about to pass the painfully slowly ticking time? Ok, I won't torture you any further. I guess I can go recheck the bags for the 30th time. Au revoir!
11/13/2006With Trepidation, A-Go!
Well we are checking out of the hotel in about 5 hours. We confirmed the final leg from LAX to Detroit so we are a-go! We should be home very early the morning of the 15th. I am feeling particularly sad and mournful this morning about leaving. I wish I could have really enjoyed Ha Noi like I wanted to, I wish I could have exposed the boys to so much more, I wish I could stay for much longer. Although I do love the US and feel more patriotic now than in a long time, I don't feel like I'm giving Addy any great gift by taking her back there. Ha Noi might not have the same food, the same opportunities. But that does not make it lacking - it just makes it different. And different is not necessarily bad. Some people might find it very hard to envision a life here. Obviously millions do not. And I think you can count me in that millions. It is beautiful, peaceful, serene, happy and real. Those are words, sadly, I can't use to describe my life back at home. There is a lot about the US that is just not any of those things. You have to look hard, work hard, to feel those things. Or at least that has been this woman's experience. I am sorry that this portion of our journey has come to an end. I will miss this place. I think Vietnam has become my family's new "Disney". It is my Happiest Place on Earth.
But it is what it is and I have a home with dogs and cats and other pets to get home to. I have friends with new babies I have yet to meet. I have Barnes & Noble, my car (which may never seem quite as safe again), really unhealthy but deliciously addicting junk food and TiVo. Ok, that last sentence sort of made me feel like the equivalent of writing "I have cigarettes, alcohol and cocaine to look foreword to". Substitutions for happiness but not real happiness. So I guess I will focus on my friends and family, my wonderful sweet children and my ridiculously obnoxious but still lovable pets. Those are the things that matter most.
We were in a restaurant a few days ago and we got to talking with a man who was in Vietnam from Chicago. He was traveling for pleasure - nothing else. It was invigorating to share my feelings with someone else who really *got it*. He understood completely how I feel and shared the sentiment. I didn't feel so crazy after all. There are things that matter and then there is the rest. Our society is mostly about the rest and that is why it is so different from here where the things that matter get top billing.
But this is supposed to be about my homecoming! I am sure there are many of you who will read this and not be able to relate. Even some of you who have been here before me, on this journey, to this country. Some might even consider me to be anti-American for sharing these sentiments. And that's ok. I have come to the conclusion that everyone needs something different from the world. My goal is to recreate what I need at home in the absence of this wonderful place that truly feels like home to me.
Wish us luck! The journey has only just begun!
We had our final Embassy interview and approval for Addison's visa this morning and they ok'd my request to pick up her visa earlier in the day tomorrow so we will be checking out of this hotel around noon and heading to get her visa and going straight to the airport. Barring any significant delays at the Embassy or the airport, we should have no problem catching our 5:30 flight out of Ha Noi.
Our tickets are changed over....sort of. There seems to be a (major) problem with a lack of flight from LAX to Detroit. Not Good. So I have no clue when we will get home or how long (days) we will have to camp out at LAX until we can get into Detroit. Hopefully we will hear from our travel agent soon but it is rough with the time different - he is sound asleep in the US. Still, we are screwed without this final leg of our trip so we really need to get that confirmation asap.
Off to go pack. Not sure if/when I'll be able to update again but I will try to pop on long enough to confirm whether we have found a flight from LAX home or not, before we leave tomorrow. Just about 48 more hours and Addison will be an American citizen and we can start our life together. Yay!
I never posted a full referral photo to this blog - just bits and pieces of her sweet tiny body, usually in black and white. Now that she is legally my daughter, I thought I'd add her 3 sets of photos to m Flickr account. We got the original photos at beg. July 2006 and then another set in August and the last set in September. I really love these photos as it is a glimpse into her life before we met her. Today when I uploaded them was the first time I really looked at them since we met her 11 days ago and it is so bizarre to see those photos that we clung to and posted all over our house and carried with us everywhere. It is really surreal!
Many of you have asked questions in my comments, via email, etc so I'll try to answer those now. If I miss something, drop me a line or comment.
1) Ear Tags: Addison was born with preauricular skin tags on both ears which are extra growths of skin that are on her face near the opening to her ears (on her tragus). She has them on both sides. They are basically just cosmetic growths of skin that can easily be removed back home although hers are more extensive and probably will involve general anesthtic and so she may not have her's removed until around age 2. They are usually inconsequential but in a small number of cases they can be a sign of an underlying issue such an a renal issue, a hearing or sinus issue or a chromosomal abnormality. Ear tags are pretty common in Vietnam but also not acceptable. We have had a theory that Addy's birth mother could not afford to have her tags removed and that contributed to her abandonment. Of course we will never really know.
2) The Many Fashions of Addison: You are right, I packed a TON of outfits for Addison. BUT! If Vietnam had shared the same climate as Michigan (like originally anticipated when we thought we would have a referral and travel by summer), I would have packed a third what I did. But I bought all these tiny sweet dresses, mostly to keep me busy and happy during our long wait, and now it is freezing back home in Michigan. So if she did not wear the outfits on this trip, she would not have ever been able to wear them. And also....I have 3 boys! Need I say more?!?!
3) Return Flight: This is still up in the air. At this point the boys and I are returning as soon as possible. Tony will stay with Addison until he can get a flight out - probably the 18th. I know the boys will be disappointed to leave early as am I. But a situation has arisen that has forced my hand. It really sucks but life just keeps on happening I guess, travel or not.
4) My Ear: Is clear! It is soooo nice to hear Hanoi and be able to talk to people finally and hear them talk back! I am sooo happy to be able to hear again. It still is working out it's issues. I am struggling with the clearing by way of sinus headaches and sometimes it plugs back up but I can clear it pretty fast now. Likewise Noah seems like he is on the mend.
5) Places to stay: Others have asked about places to stay. I love it here at the Sedona but it is so far away, I would not recommend it for that reason. I would prefer the hustle and bustle of downtown, even with all its noise, pollution and chaos. If you like quiet, sedate, calm and secluded and price is no object, the Sedona is for you. I did visit the Lucky 2 hotel and it seemed really nice. We could have reserved an entire floor (2 bigger rooms, 2 small rooms) for way less than what we paid to stay here. Of course we would have gone without some of the luxuries that have made life more simple - laundry, kitchen, etc. I have heard the Somerset is pretty nice. I wish I had more info on good hotels but that is all I have.
6) Places to eat: I think I've covered this before but my favorite place we have ordered from is Hua Sua. It is sooo nice, the food is awesome, cheap and the staff are adorable (they are all homeless/underprivileged youth in training). It is totally far away and off in a tiny corner so you would not stumble upon it yourself. But any taxi should know it right off. The Cyclo restaurant was ok but way overpriced, the food was not all that great either. Al Fresco's is a place a lot of Americans love - it has pizza, nachoes, Mexican, etc. We ate there a few times but I didn't care for it at all. We had a lot of good Thai food and some decent Indian food from Tandoor, too.
7) Transportation: We use "Hanoi Taxi" exclusively. They are cheaper than others and always honest. You don't have to barter a price up front, they don't try to sell you stuff or tours. They just get you there, fast and cheap. If you can't find a Hanoi taxi when you need on, ask at any nice restaurant or hotel and they will page you one.
8) Formula: There are a lot of options here and I think about all of them can be found at the Citimart in the Hanoi Towers. There are no disposable bottles here so stock up before you come. There are a plethora of other baby supplies, however.
9) Am I still planning on moving? YES!!!!!! Resoundingly. I am seriously considering flying into Houston instead of Detroit but there are some things that need to be attended to at home. I will probably stay through Christmas and then we'll see. I can't see staying in Michigan beyond the end of this year but I have learned to never say never.
I think that covered it all! I tried to write this before but blogger crashed and I lost it all so I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things. Just let me know!
11/10/2006My Girl: 10 Days Later
So here we are on Day 10 with little Miss Addison. I thought it would be fun to reflect on how much has changed in the last 10 days.
When we got her she was like a newborn in a lot of ways. She had no neck control and holding her required support of he entire neck. She was still a happy girl and liked to roll and play with toys. She had clearly never been sat upright or bared any weight on her feet or legs. She was a quiet girl and rarely made a sound and NEVER cried. She soothed herself to sleep on her own and did not seem to notice who was holding her or care whether she was held or not.
Here we are, 10 days later. She is sitting up very well, has more and more head control every day. She will be sitting up unassisted in no time. She is dying to crawl and can scoot around on her butt and turn in circles on her belly if she is motivated enough. Although she laughed when we tickled her the very day we met her, now she laughs at our play. It is a big difference
- before it was just guttural laughing, instinctive response to tickling.
Now she has a sense of humor and thinks things are funny and games are silly and loves to laugh. She likes all kinds of games particularity peekaboo type games and clapping games. But she won't just laugh for anyone. She is becoming leery of everything outside of what she knows - Tony, myself and the boys, our hotel room. Taking her out is sure to turn her instantly silent and cautious and she rarely elicits a smile for strangers - a good sign of bonding and age-appropriate leering. But as soon as we get back to the hotel she is full of energy. And she is no quiet girl anymore! Now she talks and talks and babbles and squeals. And now she cries! She cries when she is hungry or if we make her mad by wiping at her nose too much. She cries when she wants to be picked up and loved on, morning or night. She is still a pretty good self-soother but now she requires a delicate balance of loving and self-soothing. For instance, she really does not like to sleep outside her crib (which is side-carred to our bed) and likes to suck her thumb to sleep but she often requires that we also pat her back or at least keep a hand on her while she falls asleep. A happy balance.
So that is where we are after just 10 days. I can't wait to see where we are after our first month today, our first year, etc.
11/09/2006A Momentary Miracle
Something miraculous happened this morning. For one small fleeting second, my ear cleared! haha. Wow, the world is LOUD! And I was only alone in the bathroom! And then, just like that, it was gone. Back to the solitary confines of my own voice in my own head.
I am agressively trying to clear my head. I'm doing a combo of steam, saline nose spray and pseudoephedrine and as soon as I can find some styrofoam cups, I'll be adding that to the daily regiment. With the combo of all of that, I can also do the "plug your nose and blow hard out of your nose" trick to pop my ears forcefully but I have a MEGA headache from it and it only works for a few seconds. STILL it is prrogress!!! I am going to clear this ear if it kills me!!! For people who live like this perpetually, I don't know how you can stand it! I feel this weird sort of total cut off from the world - like it is going on around me and I am alone inside my head and unable to communicate effectively with anyone. It is beyond frustrating.
At least there is no pain or other illness to deal with. That was truly miserable. but this ear thing - it has got to go. I want just a few days to really be able to hear Hanoi. I want the sights AND sounds!
In other health news, Noah had a rough night. His cough is getting perpetually worse. I finally broke out the cough meds and they worked great. I'm usually not a huge fan of meds but there is a time and a place and this seemed like both. His cough is mostly loose today and, otherwise, he seems fine (no fever, no loss of energy, no sleepiness despite the rough night).
Today we are changing our return flight tickets and doing some more shopping and hopefully visiting the Museum of Ethnology to see some of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam. Should be fun.
(I wrote and sent this 12 hours ago - i am fed up with sending blogger posts via email!!! They never seem to post anymore! Update at the bottom...)
Addy's passport is done! Woohoo!!! And we are just about to take off to go to the SOS International Clinic in order to get her visa physical and then we have one last stop before we are allowed to come home: the final visa interview. I'm not sure when that is but hope to learn more later today.
We are now starting to discuss exactly how long we want to stay. There is a lot we want to do, still, and we all love it here. The kids are starting to freak out about going home (and not in a homesick way! Haha) and Tony is now pricing apartments and rental homes! Eek! I think Noah's had his fill of 'away from home' life. He misses his "stuff". So depending on if and when we get that last visa appointment and approval, we may stay at least until the 17th when our tickets to return are scheduled.
Today we headed out and went to the Hoa Lo prison which was the POW prison otherwise known as the 'Hanoi Hilton'. The kids were bored but I found it fascinating and I'm glad we went. We then hung out in the adjoining Hanoi Towers were we ran into another adopting family here whom I know from the Internet. That was fun.
After our SOS clinic appointment, we are hoping to get dropped off in the Old Quarter to do some shopping and have dinner. We had the BEST dinner from Hoa Soa the other night and I'd LOVE to go back for the full experience. There are a bunch of other places I want to try, too, though. So we'll see.
One thing I highly recommend for others, if you have a hotel with refrigeration in-room is to order cakes. We are on our third cake. The first was a birthday cake for Dalton and we were hooked. They are incredible French masterpieces for under $10 each! It's insanity and has kept me very happy and fat, thankyouverymuch!
Tony and Dalton did some major power shopping yesterday which was wonderful but really just piqued my appetite so that is not a good thing. Haha. Now I have a whole NEW list of things I want to buy. Haha. We also signed up for a hotel excursion to a pottery village southeast of Ha Noi. I am not sure how interested the kids are going to be but it is only 3 hours for the entire excursion so I think it will be worth it to see.
Noah continues to attract attention. Today we were approached by this overjoyed sweet old lady who just needed to touch Noah (this is common) and then promptly took Addison's thumb out of her mouth and told me I need to cut off her ear tags. Hahahah. I am impressed by her English. I knew ear tags were common here but I half expected her to pull out her own personal scissors and cut Addison's off. We don’t even think they are that noticeable but apparently if you are Vietnamese, they are!!! This leads me back, once again, to wondering if perhaps this wasn't the reason for Addison's abandonment. If she was born with ear tags that are culturally frowned upon and her Mother did not have the funds to have them removed, perhaps the social stigma was just too great? It is so sad to consider but definitely a possibility.
Well, off to our Visa physical where we will finally get to hear what this little girl weighs. I guess 14 or 15 lbs. Maybe the kind doctor will slip me something for my ears :-)
UPDATE: It is now nighttime and we are back at home base after a very full day out. The visa physical went ok. Tony and I both felt the stress of it, oddly. Addison weighs 15.5 lbs and is 71 cms (whatever that translates to in inches) and had no fever. In bad news, she does have an ear infection which we knew and we were given Zithromax. The doctor asked a lot of questions about her ear tags and her hearing and other development and tried to get her to do all these things and she just wasn't preforrming. We felt like failures, as stupid as tht sounds. Of course here at the hotel she is on fire and doing everything perfectly and that is what counts, right? Anyway the doctor felt like there might be a structural abnormality with Addison's left ear but she was not certain and wanted us to consult with another doctor but she was booked up. She suggested we come back or just wait until we get home. We are opted for door no. 2. The good news is that the ear with the weird inner structure did not appear to be infected which is good. i know that often abnormalities of the inner ear are the cause of repeat ear infections so I'm glad that ear seems fine.
We went to the Cyclo Bar for dinner -where we all got to sit on Cyclo seats and eat really yummy food. I had crab stuffed with mushroom and onion and it was sooooo good! Then we shopped and shopped until we found ourselves right underneath the hotel a good friend is staying at so we stopped by to visit and meet her new baby. We also got to meet some really awesome traveling families who I know from online so that was really neat. Everyone's babies are so precious.
Taking a taxi back to our hotel tonight in the dark was both beautiful and harrowing. The ride is scarier in the dark thanks in part to a HUGE increase in downtown traffic. This weekend is going to be literal insanity as the economic equivalent of the Olympics comes to town full force. But the city looks beautiful - there are signs welcoming APEC made of beautiful flowers everywhere and the trees are all lit up and there are events and activities everywhere. Incidentally did you all know that Vietnam is now part of the World Trade Organization (as of, i think, yesterday)? I can't even imagine how this will work out - compliace is going to be a HUGE major undertaking!!
So now we are off to bed, Addison has had her first dose of medicine and I am beat!
11/08/2006Politics: Half a world away
If you are politically interested, as I am, this is QUITE the way to experience mid-term elections. I am literally glued to the tv, which is possible thanks to the time-difference. My kids get to do their government homeschool lesson life during the daytime. While you all are asleep, I'm watchig results roll in in real-time on CNN.
Both Tony and I did our part to shape elections by voting absentee. This was an important election and no trip to Asia was going to stop me from exercising my right to vote!
Although I love it here, today I feel patriotic for the first time in 6 years. I feel like the tide has turned and people are thinking and acting and voicing their opinion and BEING HEARD! I haven't heard stats yet about voter turn-out. I hope it was as high as it seems. I do know that blogs were a-buzz with "go vote" messages yesterday and that makes me happy. I have felt mostly discouraged over the last six years but today is a new day in American government. Today the people - all the people - have spoken and their message is clear. We are still a part of this process, we have a voice and we will use it.
I'm happy to report that all of my candidates won or retained their offices. Often, the candidates all stink but this term felt different. Our senate candidate and governor were both people I really supported, people I have met and feel proud to have represent my state. They have worked hard and have gotten a bad rap thanks to a really horrible economy, despite all they've done for our state. Their opponents were HORRIBLE. And I don't say this becuase they were of a different political party than myself because I am not a registered ANYTHINg - I vote for the best candidate regardless of party affiliation. But these slimeballs were so so bad for our state. They had agendas that I am deeply personally and politically opposed to and the thought of either of them winning a place in government in my state was enough to make me head for the hills, pronto. I am deeply satisfied with how things turned out. It gives me hope for my sad state's economic and political future.
Sadly only half of my chosen proposals went the way I hoped and voted. I don't know how local elections look as votes havent' been reported yet.
11/07/2006Day 8: Dress of the day
This dress, 6-12 months, is from the Janie & Jack layette line. It is Tony's favorite dress of Addison's. I love it too. I really love the hat but as you can see it is WAY WAY too big. I can get away with bigger dresses but the hats and diaper covers give the size away. When will I ever find a hat that fits this tiny girl's head?
(I wrote this yesterday but it got lost in email cyberspace I guess)
This is the post where I complain, just be forewarned up front.
Noah is sick. He has a cold which is getting slowly worse. This morning he
Stupidly we dragged him into town. He wants to shop and I'm still desparate
And this brings me to the complaining portion of this entry. It is HARD
If it were just Tony and I here it would be easy. We'd pack up Addison and
So we have a plan. I have a list of things I really want to buy. I'm going
So another bit of advice - for those visiting with children DEFINITELY try
11/06/2006A better day
Thank you all for your continued thoughts, prayers and well-wishes delivered
Today is definitely a better day. I feel very very good. My energy level is
This morning Teegan wasn't feeling well after he was bit from head to toe
I forgot a funny story yesterday after all. Everyone here is very curious
So the boys may go swimming today but otherwise we are keeping a low
Addison is doing well, still fighting a cold but she is mostly unaffected.
11/05/2006Ups and Downs
It's been one of those days. It started with no breakfast and a very weak
Tony and the kids (including Addy) took a shuttle to see a pagoda and a
The day ended much better than it started when my good friend Holly visited
I don't have any new or cute kid stories for today.
I did get some bad news from our agency today. Many of you have already
11/04/2006Life Without Toys
Conversation I just overheard:
Noah: I have a great idea! For a change, let's put the water in the bottle
Daddy: we can't do it that way.
Noah: <huge whine> Whyyyyyyy??
Daddy: because then I won't know how much water can fit.
Noah: awwwww! But that would be soooo fuuuuun!
Bwa hahahaha I guess that ranks right up there with picking out her dresses
Despite not feeling any better myself, yesterday was a very very good day
First she got to go swimming for the first time. The look on her face was
We had a good bonding moment following a sad event. Addy woke from her nap
Addy and I spent the afternoon alone together while the boys explored Hanoi.
And then for the highlight of my day. Addy nursed!!!!! Real nursing with
I'll have to compose an email later about the boys' day exploring Hanoi.
So today's outfit is courtesy of Old Navy, size 0-3 months. She really is that tiny!!
11/03/2006The Addy Nitty Gritty
A few people have asked me to share the details about Addison's schedule so
She eats 8 oz bottles of whatever we feed her at whatever temp it is
I was told that she has been given some powder of unknown origin mixed with
She is long and skinny. When she wakes up I'll edit this with her length
She naps a LOT. She basically wakes up, eats, plays until she is tired
We plan to name her Addison although I call her both Addy and Mai at the
This isn't about Addy but about Teegan. We were out for ice cream yesterday
Hrm - I think that's it. Did I answer all those questions?
I'm still pretty sick. My ears are killing me. Bad infection. I'm taking Cipro which I am fairly sure won't really help but it is all I have. Additionally
On an up note, my throat is getting better and my glands aren't so painful and my head doesn't hurt. But that could be the cobo of the antibiotics, the cold meds and the pain relievers I am popping like candy. Or maybe not, who knows? I'll take any progress I can get. But I will tell you - not hearing pretty well sucks too. It is annoying. And I fear the flight home if things do not improve.
In other news - we had our Embassy appointment today and it went wonderfully. We also got
Tomorrow afternoon we go to see the water puppet show. We are very excited although we'll see how my health holds up tomorrow. Today we stopped into a silk shop and ordered two custom ao dai for Addy. Those will be delivered on Friday. I can't wait! She will look adorable :-) Shopping still left on my list:
Some Vietnamese children’s books
Possibly a custom made mei-tai carrier
Some silk fabric
The boys want to check out the video games, of course. And we just have to walk around and see what we can see.
Oh – one more thing. A few of you repeatedly ask about the food. Haha. It is great, of course. Mostly we have food delivered because we haven’t gone out much yet thanks to my being so under the weather. Today our agency took us for ice cream and that was soooo good. Our hotel has a great breakfast buffet and I usually eat Vietnamese for breakfast (pho or fried rice and tropical juice). For lunch/dinner we usually order in from the Tamarind because it is a menu we have on hand and they know us and it is easy. But we are sick to death fo the Tamarind, although it is VERY good (particularly the spring rolls). So today we ordered in Thai and omg, it is possibly some of the best (and spiciest) Thai I have had (and I’m a bit of a connoisseur). So as we get out more, I’ll talk more about the food. There are some amazing Italian places (with homemade pasta) and French places I want to try and of course the trad’l Vietnemese. Maybe we’ll even hit up the Dog Meat District (yes that is a place within view of our hotel – over 60 specializing restaurants) although according to the Lonely Planet guide, it is bad luck to go during the first half of the lunar month and since I have no clue what part of which lunar month it is, I’m not sure we should. Still I think it would be awesome to do it so maybe we will. :-P
11/02/2006The Dance of Attachment
A lot of you commented on how great it is that Addy is so laid back and yes,
But back to attachment. Being laid back and self-soothing is wonderful for
So we rarely put Addy down. She is in the sling or our laps all day except
She will likely always be pretty laid back. Even now, when she is upset she
And this is not really al that related but I just wanted to say that I am a
Now if only I could feel even 50% human it would be perfect. My head is
I will upload a few pictures of Addison in her dress that I knitted for her.
I've been really sick. Thanks be, I felt better for a huge chunk of the day
Today I took the Big Drugs - more cold meds, advil, and started the
I do have a LONG blog entry I have written and almost complete about the
She is extremely happy and mellow, almost to a fault. After having 3
Today she is starting to blossom. She starting talking up a storm which is
The brothers are over the moon. I expected as much from Noah and Teegan (who
There is no jealousy at all but the boys are absolutely obsessed with
I have another blog entry I am writing that details some of my feelings
Thank you all for the continual emails and comments. So many have made me