Post-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 :-)
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/28/2006§

Mission Accomplished!
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.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/26/2006§

I'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 :-)
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/25/2006§

What I'm Thankful For: Part Deux
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/24/2006§

What 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.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/20/2006§

Look 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 :-)
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/19/2006§

Medical Update
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!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/17/2006§

We are home!

We are home! We landed just over 12 hours ago. I will update more but we
have one very needy little boy on our hands and two adults who are a totally
different sleep cycle from him. If anyone wants to know how they can help,
PLEASE come and help play with and give a little attention to Noah these
next few days while we all adjust. Dalton and Teegan are just fine, Addison
is just fine. Noah? Not so much. He is exhausted but also just wants to play
on his own home turf and he wants to play his way and he's too tired and
irrational for normal four year old playing etiquette (in other words, he
needs understanding adults who will just indulge him for the next few days).
So if you are willing or available, please drop me an email or a call.

Lots of updates later - thanks for all the well-wishes via email and

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/15/2006§

Sick 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!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/14/2006§

With 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!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/13/2006§
Homeward Bound
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!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/13/2006§

Referral Photos
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!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/11/2006§
Your Questions Answered
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!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/11/2006§

My 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.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/10/2006§
Videos From Today
Thursday, November 9, 2006

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/10/2006§

A 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.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/09/2006§
(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!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/09/2006§

Politics: 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.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/08/2006§

Day 8: Dress of the day

Cheesy Face, originally uploaded by sixmonkeyjungle.

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?

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/07/2006§
Another one bites the dust

(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
was so congested from sleep that he had trouble breathing/coughing and woke
up afraid at 4:30am. After he is up, he is fine. Audibly congested but
that's it. He swears he is not sick. But he ate hardly anything at
breakfast :-(

Stupidly we dragged him into town. He wants to shop and I'm still desparate
to get out so it was easy to justify but still a mistake in judgement. Sure
enough, he was hit by a bout of diahhrea while we were walking through the
Old Quarter - the worst possible place to find a bathroom. Thankfully we
found one and then hit the first taxi back to the hotel. Before we could
make it back to the hotel, he fell sound asleep in the taxi and is still
sleeping now. When he wakes up, I'll dose him with Immodium and get him a
nice big glass of ice water. Hopefully that will do the trick. But this
means I'm back to hotel-bound for at least a day or so. After battling the
heat today, that doesn't sound too bad! Haha.

And this brings me to the complaining portion of this entry. It is HARD
being so far away from everything and being on such a tight budget. I know
it is a "grass is greener" thing. Our hotel is private, extremely quiet,
lovely. It is huge and sprawling and we have a wownderful pool and great A/C
and a full kitchen. But it is far FAR from downtown which means either
paying $5 each way for a taxi or trying to arrange our day around the hotel
shuttles which drive *sort of* into town and back 4 times a day. We have yet
to coordinate our trips well enough to catch the free shuttle back so there
is always at least one taxi fare involved in any outing.

If it were just Tony and I here it would be easy. We'd pack up Addison and
hit the road on the first shuttle in the morning and be gone until sunset.
We could explore all the shops and eat wherever we felt like. But it is a
lot harder with the kids in tow. Noah gets tired really fast in this heat
and Tony can't carry him for too long. Dalton gets tired carrying the
backpack full of gear. And kids, in general, just do not like to shop. It is
boring. And the walking to get to all the shopping and then the subsequent
lack of buying makes it A LOT worse. Plus I am an *agonizing* shopper even
in the best of situations. It is hard for me to buy anything, I usually have
to look many times and think about it and then agonize before I buy. The Old
Quarter is too much for me. It requires decisiveness that I don't have.
Shopping there is literally torture for me!

So we have a plan. I have a list of things I really want to buy. I'm going
to send it with Tony and he is going to go with whichever of the two older
boys wants to go with him and they are just going to get everything I want
in one afternoon. No little kids or gear in tow, no whining toddlers with
sore feet, no urgent need for a bathroom or stops for bottles or diaper
changes. Just hard core shopping.

So another bit of advice - for those visiting with children DEFINITELY try
to stay somewhere central or, if not, budget for at least $20/day for taxi
fare. It is just too hard with kids to arrange to leave for what amounts to
many hours away from the hotel. I would LOVE to be able to pop in and out of
our hotel at will and just do half-hour shopping stints, run out into the
streets for meals whenever the urge strikes, not be far from the hotel in
case of a need for a nap, a rest, etc. The trade off is the noise - it is
SUPER noisy all day and night downtown. And the air quality is terrible and
it is quite a bit hotter off the water. But if you are bringing little kids,
it is probably worth it for the convenience and spontanaeity factor that
little kids require.

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/07/2006§
Video of the day
Tuesday, November 7, 2006

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/07/2006§

A better day

Thank you all for your continued thoughts, prayers and well-wishes delivered
via comments and emails. It really really helps!!

Today is definitely a better day. I feel very very good. My energy level is
very good and I am pain-free!!! I still have no hearing in my right ear but
assume, at this point, that that won't resolve for a long time to come.

This morning Teegan wasn't feeling well after he was bit from head to toe
and was all itchy. We dosed him with Benadryl and decided to not do anything
too far away or long lasting. We took the hotel shuttle to this place called
the Big C. It is a huge store on the top level and a mini mall on the lower
level. There was nothing of interest on the lower level but just being there
lifted my spirits. We had a few things on our list we needed to buy like
diapers, bug spray and batteries. We found all but the bug spray,
unfortunately. We did find some kids Off lotion but it is in Vietnamese so
I'm not sure exactly what it is. Haha. We bought it anyway. For those
traveling soon, the mosquitoes here in Hanoi are still bad and we have not
even been out in the early morning or late evening. In fact we have not been
out longer than a few hours but all of us have multiple bites despite using
Cutter repellant wipes. Those things just don't work. You need the aerosol
with DEET. The big guns. The poison! Haha. So we are still on a mission for
some better bug spray.

I forgot a funny story yesterday after all. Everyone here is very curious
about Noah and when Tony took the kids out yesterday a few ladies stopped
them to ask emphatic questions (in Vietnamese) about Noah. Tony had no idea
what they were asking so finally they just pulled Noah up onto their laps
and peeked inside his shorts! Bwa hahah - they wanted to know his gender!
Turns out this is a popular question wherever we go. I am going to try to
look up the word for "boy" in Vietnamese and cut to the chase. No one seems
to care about the older boys or Addison (who is always in the sling a.k.a
the People Deterrent) but Noah is prime target here!! Luckily he could care
less and takes it all in stride.

So the boys may go swimming today but otherwise we are keeping a low
profile. Today we are trying a new Deli for lunch and I think we will have
Indian for dinner. Hanoi has amazing restaurants and is even more eclectic
than the US as far as I'm concerned. Plus the French influence means all the
best stuff is even better - breads, desserts, pastries! Yum! I am tempted to
break out in some French because I feel so useless speaking only English. Of
course I can't speak much French either. Haha.

Addison is doing well, still fighting a cold but she is mostly unaffected.
She is staying up longer and longer spans of time thanks to a full belly
consistently. She is gaining lots of strength to match. Today she sat for a
bit, tripod-style, which is right at age-appropriate so we are very happy
about that. She just fits into our family so perfectly. I have always been
blessed to have no sibling rivalry or jealousy issues with my kids and it
looks like this is no exception. The boys are still just as thrilled about
Addison as a week ago and they are still just as doting ad loving and
helpful. Eventually that will wear off and it will just be life as usual, I
know. Today Dalton said he can't imagine life without Addison. Pretty
special coming from a 12 year old boy :-) And last night after I kissed Noah
to bed he said to me "Every day, forever, I am going to pick out Addison's
clothes in the morning.". he also gets every bottle and brings us diapers
and clothes and plays with Addison endlessly. It is a beautiful thing.
Teegan, the baby magnet, of course just adores her and tells her he loves
her many times a day. Also for those who have asked, yes she is still
nursing. She is teething and can I just say I am SO glad she does not have
teeth yet. I need to offer to nurse her more often to help bring in more
milk. She's always willing although sometimes only nurses briefly and other
times a long time. It depends on how she is feeling (tired, hungry, etc)
Tony is such a great and helpful Daddy. He has been taking her on outings,
carrying her in the sling whenever she needs it and getting up with her in
the night if she wakes (less and less often as her ears feel better).
Consequently she just adores him. It really was love at first sight for all
6 of us and I feel really blessed. Tony has commented to me about how when
we first met her and she first met us, it all just clicked for all of us and
he's right. Not a lot has gone easily or right or without a lot of pain and
heartache in this adoption process but this - THIS - we got right. The most
important part.

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/06/2006§

Ups and Downs

It's been one of those days. It started with no breakfast and a very weak
and hungry, hormonal and sick Nicki. That quickly led to a major meltdown on
my part where all the world's problems seemed imminently overwhelming and
equally important. Really I am just so sick of being sick. I am sick of
missing out, I am sick of not feeling 100%. I should say that I am feeling a
lot better. My throat and glands are 100%, my right ear is 100% but my left
ear is still totally plugged and intermittently painful but most bothersome
of all, I am just worn out. That stinks because mentally I am really to go,
see some action, be part of it all. But physically I am still weak and not
really ready to tackle long walks through the hot (low air quality) streets
for hours at a time. But tomorrow I am going out right after breakfast,
dammit. Enough is enough.

Tony and the kids (including Addy) took a shuttle to see a pagoda and a
temple and it was not that thrilling. It wasn't much of an outing but at
least they got out.

The day ended much better than it started when my good friend Holly visited
with her daughter and we hung out and chatted and at cake :-) She is even
more fun in person than she is online which says a lot :-) I can't wait
until Holly gets her baby and we can let them play!!! Holly's baby is an
orphanage sister of Addison's which makes it even more special. Plus Holly
and, by proxy my friend Shanna, are forever my Best Friends for bringing me
good drugs :-) I love you guys!!!!!!!! I know am the proud owner of UNISOM
and other very good stuff!!! :-)

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
heard the rumor going around that the Embassy is shutting down. It is, in
fact, true. They are shutting down between Nov 15-20 to all adoption
appointments. Because we can't have our last appointment until we get our
passport and our passport wont be ready until Friday *at the earliest*,
chances are slim that we will be able to get in for our visa interview
before the shutdown. That means possibly no pre-Thanksgiving homecoming for
us. We will know more tomorrow but that's the status at this point.

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/05/2006§

Life Without Toys

Conversation I just overheard:

Noah: I have a great idea! For a change, let's put the water in the bottle
first and THEN the formula!

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
every day and watching her randomly grab toys (which tends to incite gales
of Noah Laughter)

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/04/2006§
A very good day

Despite not feeling any better myself, yesterday was a very very good day
here in Addy's world.

First she got to go swimming for the first time. The look on her face was
priceless. She was so confused about this liquid she could touch but not
grab and hold. She did enjoy it and I look forward to having yummy warm bath
splashing fun together later today.

We had a good bonding moment following a sad event. Addy woke from her nap
and I did not hear her (note to those staying in a suite: bring a baby
monitor!!!!!!). When I found her, she was very very upset. She calmed right
down when I picked her up but then when I went to lay her down to play with
her she got very very upset. She just wanted to be close to me. She was
afraid. It may seem sick and wrong to feel such joy from her fear but I'm
quite sure that she has never felt security until these past few days and
that is joyful beyond words.

Addy and I spent the afternoon alone together while the boys explored Hanoi.
While everyone was gone I took off Addy's diaper and let her play on her
belly and back naked. I wish I had a video camera because it was hysterical.
This is another thing I am sure, just by her reaction, she has never done
before. She literally just bounced up and down on her back laughing and
smiling and screeching over the feeling of the carpet and, later, her soft
fleecy blanket on her naked butt! Haha. It was hysterical. She played like
this so long that she wore herself out.

And then for the highlight of my day. Addy nursed!!!!! Real nursing with
real sucking and swallowing! Many times for a long time. While I nursed her
she reached up and patted my cheek with her little hand and stared deeply
into my eyes. I probably don't need to tell you that I sobbed like a newborn
baby! Haha Many of you know that I have been pretty wishy-washy about
adoptive nursing. Although I have a pump and bought all the supplies to
pump, I never once did pump and put almost no effort into researching
adoptive nursing. I knew a bit already because I am a retired La Leche
League leader but that was years ago and I often felt guilty for not reading
more and making more of an effort. I did not want it to stress me or her
out, to define our relationship or to cast a negative light on our
"babymoon". What I didn't expect was that it would just happen and that it
would feel so profoundly important to me. It is a beautiful thing.

I'll have to compose an email later about the boys' day exploring Hanoi.
They had a great time! I can't wait to be healthy enough to join them! Noah
woke up today with some congestion and Teegan has tons of bug bites but
otherwise, they had a fantastic time!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/04/2006§
Photo of the day: Day 4

Day 4, originally uploaded by sixmonkeyjungle.

So today's outfit is courtesy of Old Navy, size 0-3 months. She really is that tiny!!

The story behind this outfit is that I saw it an fell in love with it early in the summer. I didn't buy it right away and then went online to order it and they didn't carry it online. By the time I made my way to our local store, they were sold out. I became obsessed and drove to about 5 other stores before I finally found this outfit but they only had it in a 0-3 months and I figure I would need a 6-9 months. I stubbornly bought it anyway. I stubbornly packed it anyway because I love it so much even though most of the stuff we brought was 6-9 months. And today she stubbornly wore it with room to grow in! YAY!!!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/04/2006§

The Addy Nitty Gritty

A few people have asked me to share the details about Addison's schedule so
here goes:

She eats 8 oz bottles of whatever we feed her at whatever temp it is
(usually room temp or cold - never warm) with slow flow nipples. She makes a
HUGE mess with the fast flows, can't keep up. So no fast flows. She takes 4
bottles during the day and 1 4 oz bottle sometime in the night just to top
her off. Not sure this will be necessary when she feels better or not. I
have tried to nurse her a few times and originally she was totally put off
but now she is more interested although still does not suck at all. I'm not
sure how you measure success in this area and am not stressing about it
until we get home. I wish I had brought a breast pump so I could have given
her pumped milk instead. Oh well.

I was told that she has been given some powder of unknown origin mixed with
water - I assume this is rice cereal. We did not bring anything like that
but I have offered her some rice and she seems to know she is supposed to
open her mouth but just pushes it all out with her tongue :-P

She is long and skinny. When she wakes up I'll edit this with her length
since I do have a tape measure, but no scale. She is wearing 3-6 month
clothing and they fall right off her butt. It is hard to tell on the length
since she has only worn dresses. She looks like she is already filling out
to me but I might be insane. Or both. She wears a size 2 or 3 diaper. The 3s
are too big but workable. We didn't bring any 2's.

She naps a LOT. She basically wakes up, eats, plays until she is tired
(about 1-2 hours) and naps for another 1-2 hours. I am sure she is totally
over stimulated at the moment so it doesn't take much for her to get
exhausted. Yesterday we were gone a lot and she was very quiet and subdued
and I thought she was feeling pretty yucky but I think really she is just
overwhelmed. As soon as we got back in our hotel room, we put her on the bed
and she came to life - rolling around, singing, babbling, making silly
faces, laughing.

We plan to name her Addison although I call her both Addy and Mai at the
moment. Everyone here calls her Mai-a. I would love it if someone who knows
would explain to me about the extra vowel tones at the end of names. Is
there a rhyme or reason to it or is it just like a nickname (like Nicki)? Is
it only for children or for anyone familiar? The reason I ask is because my
ex, who is Vietnamese, also had an extra vowel tone added to the end of his
name by his parents when they say his name (Thanh).

This isn't about Addy but about Teegan. We were out for ice cream yesterday
with our agency and Teegan was sitting in his chair how he always does (on
his feet) and a lady from our agency laughed that he sits like the
Vietnamese. This is something I have long noticed as being distinctly
Vietnamese about him and it confounds me where he would get this except that
it MUST be genetic. I know his father does not sit this way but his
grandparents and some aunts and uncles do. He is not around them enough to
really pick it up through example. It is totally hilarious though and it was
interesting to me that someone else noticed it.

Hrm - I think that's it. Did I answer all those questions?

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/03/2006§
Hanoi Traffic from above.
View from City View Cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam.

I am stealing this idea from Ange at http://theroadtovietnam.blogspot.com/
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/03/2006§
Quick Update

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 Addison's ears are bugging her and it is making her miserable. She is still a happy miserable but it is no fun, particularly the sleep portion of the day.


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 Addison's passport photo taken and now we wait for her passport to be issued. This can take up to 7 working days so we won't see anything until the end of next week, at least. After that, we will need to take her for her visa physical and then we can schedule our final visa interview. We can leave for home the day or so after, as long as the visa is issued. So we are hoping to head for home around November 17, the date our tickets are issued. That sure would make things easy! So cross fingers that all goes as planned and we can stick to that schedule. Although, to be honest, I'm in no hurry to leave at all. I feel like we haven't really even started our trip yet. Hopefully I will feel up to doing some touristy things in the next few days.


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

Pearls J

A Buddha

Silk yarn

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

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/03/2006§

The Dance of Attachment

A lot of you commented on how great it is that Addy is so laid back and yes,
it is wonderful. But it has its downsides. She did not appear to be all that
attached to anyone at the orphanage. She seems to have not cried often and
consequently was not picked up or played with often. She has the advantage
of having pretty good development so she can do all those normal six month
old things that kids do on their own - roll, creep, grasp and bring things
to mouth, transfer hands, play with toys, etc. But anything that would
involve actual human contact is lacking. Like, for instance, she can't
really bear weight on her legs. I am sure her little feet have never touched
the ground until now. She can not sit up and also has trouble holing her
head up while sitting (but not while on her belly) because she likely was
never held in that position. So we are spending a lot of time doing that.

But back to attachment. Being laid back and self-soothing is wonderful for
the parents but it is something that we are actively trying to change. Part
of attachment is learning that it is ok to trust another person in this
world with your needs. It is ok to cry when you are hungry or wet or
uncomfortable. It is ok to be lonely at night and need to be near your Mommy
and Daddy. It is ok to want to be held all day. The babies who come into
their new families who are anxious and fearful and missing their caregivers
are actually a lot better off - they have already developed bonding
behaviors and it is a good sign of health although difficult for the new
parents to endure.

So we rarely put Addy down. She is in the sling or our laps all day except
when she is playing on our bed surrounded by all of us. I have noticed just
in the last two das that she has gone from completely self-soothing to
actually falling asleep, most of the time, without her thumb at all (just in
the sling cuddled up to mama). This is a really really positive sign that
things are moving in the right direction. She is learning to rely on me for
comfort instead of herself. Slowly she is also starting to convey her
feelings instead of just going to sleep or pacifying herself. She still
doesn't have a lot of hunger cues but we are getting there. She currently
has a cold and probably an ear infection and as sad as that it (and also
totally typical - something about the A/C and dry hotel air they aren't used
to means instant illness) it is also a perfect opportunity to really nurture
her and teach her to trust us and that we will meet her needs and help her
feel better. Maybe these post-orphanage colds are mother nature's way of
helping bonding along? The days (or day?) of falling asleep, herself, in her
crib are over. At least for awhile. She falls asleep in our arms and we
transfer her to her crib. At night she is slowly starting to wake and want
contact with us instead of sleeping soundly through. This is also a great
thing. Last night she went back and forth between our bed/arms and the crib.
I assume eventually she will likely occupy our bed on a full-time basis. It
was so heartwarming to see her missing us last night and it was so nice to
know that even though she was in pain, I could instantly make her better by
cuddling up with her and letting her sleep with her head on my chest. Now
when she wakes and we are not there, she gets upset, she knows something is
missing. When she sees us, she breaks into big smiles. This is the dance of

She will likely always be pretty laid back. Even now, when she is upset she
does one little cry and big huge tears and that's it. It's pretty
hysterical. She is also so easy to make happy and keep happy, even while
sick. But gone are the days when she will have to soothe herself and
patiently wait to be fed instead of being allowed to eat when hungry. Gone
are the days when she can not be held all day when she is sick or lonely.
Gone are the days when she has only herself to rely on. It's a beautiful

And this is not really al that related but I just wanted to say that I am a
really good baby-mama. I am often really hard on myself as a parent to my
boys but I forgot how good it feels, and how good I am, at mothering an
infant. I think it may be what I do best :-) I love my instincts and knowing
exactly what she needs and exactly what she wants and exactly how to make
her feel better. Life is good, very very good.

Now if only I could feel even 50% human it would be perfect. My head is
still about to blow up. My ears are incredibly painful, my throat is still
sore off and on, my glands are still swollen and my head still hurts. I get
tired very very quickly and just mostly lay around all day and sleep off and
on. It is miserable. I have had a really hard time yesterday and today
coping with how I feel. I just want to really enjoy this time and feel like
I'm being robbed of it in it's entirety. I want to explore Ha Noi and shop
and see things and I can't even get out of bed longer than it takes to go to
breakfast and come back. This sucks. Totally. I know it is still early - I
have a few hours until I can take my second antibiotic pill so HOPEFULLY I
will start to feel significantly better in the next 24 hours. But part of me
feels like these antibiotics aren't going to help at all and I am going to
be this miserable the entire trip, peaking on the long horrible airplane
ride home where my head will surely blow up and I will die. Haha. Seriously
I have not been in this much pain and been this sick in years and years.
Nothing helps. And I don't really know what to do about it. More sleep? More
fluids? More food? Different meds? I don't know.

I will upload a few pictures of Addison in her dress that I knitted for her.
Noah picked it out for her to wear to the Embassy today. So sweet. She looks
adorable in it.

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/02/2006§

I've been really sick. Thanks be, I felt better for a huge chunk of the day
yesterday to really enjoy it but the long day took its toll and I was a mess
by last night. You know if I don't blog it is because I am really sick. So
that's the deal. The idea of sitting down to jot down all my thoughts was so
overwhelming that I just couldn't do it. It was easier to upload pictures
and video, for sure.

Today I took the Big Drugs - more cold meds, advil, and started the
antibiotics. I sure hope the antib's work - and fast. I am done feeling
horrible. I want to get out of here and explore and soak in this wonderful

I do have a LONG blog entry I have written and almost complete about the
G&R. I'm not sure if I'll post it because it is really boring to almost all
of you. Bottom line: we drove out, we got baby, she smiled, I sobbed, she
giggled at her Daddy, I sobbed, she slept in my arms, I sobbed. That was

She is extremely happy and mellow, almost to a fault. After having 3
high-strung little boys, it is quite the change of pace. You can actually
lay her down and she'll put herself to sleep - who knew? And last night she
slept from 8:30 pm until 7:30 this morning. That's some crazy sleep! She out
slept us all, in fact, and Noah was positively pissed that he could not see
her immediately upon waking and that he could not pick out her clothes right
away. Haha. She has yet to cry, she does not even fuss. We don't really know
when she's hungry so we randomly feed her and she eats. She could care less
what is in the bottle or the temperature or the nipple. She just goes with
the flow. She's a very engaged baby - she loves to just stare into our eyes,
very deeply. I lose myself in those eyes.

Today she is starting to blossom. She starting talking up a storm which is
so much fun - here's some video:

Thursday, November 2, 2006

And she does a little sad face when
she wakes up and sees me which might mean she is sad she isn't with her
familiar nannies or possibly she is hungry. She cheers up when she sees her
Ba (daddy) and then I feed her and she is happy for a few hours until she
falls asleep. She is getting very mobile very fast. She will roll and scoot
and turn all over the bed. She still needs to build a lot of neck and back
muscles, she is far from sitting but pretty close to crawling.

The brothers are over the moon. I expected as much from Noah and Teegan (who
is a baby magnet - everyone who sees him hands him their baby! Haha) but
Dalton has been a nice surprise. He is absolutely head over heels in love
with her. He is not at all a baby person. He was never in love like this
with his brothers. It is so touching to see and hear how absolutely he
adores her, how he needs to see her, check on her all the time while she's
sleeping. He is the best big brother ever. He is also the kid in our family
who was not interested in adopting. That is, until Vietnam opened up and
then he was all for it. So it is neat to see how much this has touched his
life. It is like he has become a parent himself. It is amazing.

There is no jealousy at all but the boys are absolutely obsessed with
Addison. That has been the only frustration so far, exacerbated by my head
cold which in general makes me want to be in a vacuum without sound. It
sounds weird to complain about my adoring children but there are times when
she just wants to play and does not need 10 different toys dangled by 6
separate hands all at once! Haha. Thankfully they are pretty good at going
off and playing when asked and this apartment is so huge that I can get some
quiet time with her (and for myself) when needed. But I both hope and resist
the idea that the novelty of her will wear off soon, if that makes sense.

I have another blog entry I am writing that details some of my feelings
about this country. I'll post that later.

Thank you all for the continual emails and comments. So many have made me
cry and feel so blessed. I love you all!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/02/2006§

Some video
Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Please excuse the ridiculous Mama-has-a-baby-girl voice :-)
posted by Stepping On Legos at 11/01/2006§

Name: Stepping On Legos
Stepping On Legos Stepping On Legos Home: TX, United States
About Me:

This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Addy-Mai. Make your own badge here.
Our Adoption Timeline
Our Referral!!!
The Sedona Hotel
Common Adoption Abbreviations
Packing Lists
Baby Shopping
Ethical Agency List