Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I see skies of blue.....clouds of white....

And I think to myself....what a wonderful world.

This post is loosely about my children and mostly about my thoughts today. Violet spent last night coughing. She played outside most of yesterday, and had a great time. She loves being outdoors and I am not sure that she would ever come in the house if she had her choice. Right now she is taking a nap and I can hear her cough periodically. We took a short walk this morning, but we can't go outside the rest of the day. Today is a knozone day and this means that the air is not fit to breathe. Here is what the paper said about the air quality today in its article warning people to limit time outside:

""It's literally dirt in the air,'' said Steven Hardiman, spokesman for the city's Department of Public Works, speaking of floating particles the diameter of a human hair."

Violet has asthma, and she has already used her inhalers today.

Today my mind is constantly shifting to the topic of the environment. I wouldn't consider myself an environmentalist, but I think about these things and wonder whether other people do too. Being "green" seems to be hip and trendy right now and there appears to be increased awareness (organic sheets at Target), but I wonder if it is too little too late. I don't know how I feel about greenhouse gas, governmental regulation, or global warming, but certainly there are some things we can do to preserve the environment.

Before I list the little ways I try to contribute, here are some questions I wish could be answered:

-What happens to my recycling after it is picked up? Is it really recycled? What about when I don't peel labels or clean it out? What if I throw in a non-recyclable? What about plastic #4, 5, and 6? Does anyone go through the landfills to pull out things that can be recycled? How much does it really help to recycle?

-How much space in a landfill will I save if I faithfully use cloth diapers (I am hot and cold with this, but wish I were more disciplined)?

-How many more years will we be able to fuel our cars and home with oil? What happens next? Will things come to a grinding halt or will it be gradual?

-Can we go back to a society and a city-structure that will support pedestrian traffic and lessen the dependency on vehicular transportation, or is it too late?

-Should we move to the country and try to be self-sustaining? Is there any country left?

Here are some things I try to do:


-minimize unecessary driving

-turn lights off

-use earth friendly cleaning products

-eat as organic as possible

-keep the AC at 75 or 76 during the day and 74 at night

-try to use cloth diapers

What else can I do??? Is what I am doing saving anything?

If anyone has any thoughts or answers, I would love to hear them.

Now onto a more conventional post:

This morning Violet has been obsessed with the thought of having her own, pretend makeup. I looked a couple places for plastic makeup, but all I found was "Bratz" crap and it was real makeup. When I was little, there was plastic makeup that didn't make a mark, but you could pretend you were using lipstick, eyeshadow, and blush. Is she too young for this?

Anara has been great since Saturday. She has been doing new tricks like waving "bye bye" and is definitely starting to show stranger anxiety (sign of attachment). The Developmental Therapist was very impressed by her play. Her hair is growing and I think she might be gaining some weight. She will have her suture removed June 11th and it is likely she will be hospitalized overnight for 24hr. observation.

Here are a few pictures:

Jasmine and Violet (Yummm...snot)

Marlene dumping water on Vi

"Let's cuddle"

"Come on, I said snuggle me"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Since last week....

Anara carrying a purse
Violet rocking her baby

Since our last post, Anara's diarrhea is a little better, we are sleeping a little more at night, and neither child seems to be ill. Anara had a couple appointments last week. It sounds like her hospitalization won't be as long as we had originally anticipated, but she will be in a cast for 6 weeks. The orthopaedic surgeon will have to cut her hip bones to be able to pull her pubic bones together in the front. This has to be done in order to keep her bladder inside her body after her surgery. Eventually her pubic bones will probably separate again, but it shouldn't affect her mobility.

Anara made her first trip to visit grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles. She seemed to enjoy visiting and was on her best behavior (no one will ever believe us that she was whiny last week). She crawled around finding new toys, smiling, and interacting with extended family. It was fun for Nate and I to watch her enjoy herself. This morning Anara started waving "bye bye".

Violet had a great time this weekend as well, but it seems that I am paying for all her fun. She is whacked out of her mind today and can barely keep herself upright. Every "no" or "in a little while" sends her immediately to the floor. She is eating lunch right now (yes at 10:00am) and will be going down for an early nap since she cannot focus with her eyes or keep them open to eat.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

To Blog or Not to Blog

that is the question....

It is hard to decide what to do with a free moment. Right now both of the girls are sleeping (a miracle) and I have a few minutes to myself. The house is quiet. Hopefully the girls are finally on the same nap schedule because it would make my days much more productive.

The past 5 days have been hard. The girls have been sick. They have been difficult, ouchy, and whiny. We still don't know Anara well enough to know what to do for her when she hurts. Yesterday was very difficult emotionally. Anara was obviously experiencing discomfort and she cried most of the day. She cried when I held her and cried when I put her down. I was frustrated and teary. Violet struggled because I was preoccupied with Anara.

Anara didn't have her suture removed last week and the tentative date is now June 8th. Tomorrow we have an appointment with the urologist and orthopaedic surgeon. I should know more about the suture removal and have a possible date for the big surgery. It will be a relief to have something set to look forward to. Anara has had terrible diarrhea and this has caused a severe diaper rash. She grunts for extended periods of time (sometimes an hour) during the day and night and seems so uncomfortable.

On a positive note, Anara learns very quickly and can now sign "thank-you" in addition to "more". She doesn't understand the context, but it is cute to see her do things on demand. It seems our bonding is coming slow, and this illness has not been helpful. I know that in time we will feel like a family, but things are still a little mysterious and tense. June 1st, we are going to go hear a well-known attachment psychiatrist who specializes in institutionalization. There will be a question/answer session and we are looking forward to getting a professional opinion on some of Anara's behaviors and our struggles.

Below are some pictures of our bright spots over the past few days. Also, there is a pretty poor quality video that I took this morning. Violet was singing "Bye-O" to her baby doll and I really felt like Anara was trying to mimick her. I caught the end of their play and you can decide for yourself. Sorry if you have slow internet, the file is huge and took forever to upload.

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Violet and her friend, Sarah, at the zoo.

Violet modeling her skirt from Jody with accessories.

Anara and Violet modeling their skirts.
Anara playing with the kitchen.

Violet enjoying the pool she got for her birthday.

Violet rocking Po on the porch.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sick & Teething

Violet and Anara are both sick and teething, and Nate and I are sick of teething. Last night was a long one! Violet had to have two nebulizer treatments in the middle of the night and Anara woke up with a fever and 2 dirty diapers. It seems like we have been sick since we came home. Hopefully illness will break soon and we will all be healthy and sleeping through the nights.

Violet is so whiny today! She was sitting in her high chair just whining and crying about nothing and I told her that she needed to eat a few more bites without crying or I would have to spank her. Nate came up from the basement and saw Violet whining and refusing to eat. He said, "Violet if you don't stop whining, I will have to spank you." Violet replied, "No, Mommy's gonna do that." Thankfully she took a few more bites of her apple and was excused.

Yesterday we went for a walk on 10th Street. We walked through a few antique stores and Violet had the best "find" of the day (see below). I don't think these guys qualify as antiques, but the owner let her have them for free. Here she is this morning being sick and watching TV with her friends.

Here is Nate impersonating Anara's "sick and grumpy" face.

Friday, May 18, 2007

No Surgery Today

Anara is sick and has an under-arm temperature of 102.3. I have paged the urologist and I am pretty sure that he won't remove the suture. We will probably have it done sometime next week.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Family Portraits

Here are our 1st portraits of Anara......

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Update on Anara:

I spoke to Anara's surgeon (urologist) this morning and he wants to pull her remaining suture (from her 1st surgery in Kyrg.) Friday. It is suspected that this suture is attached to bone and is infected. He will have to open up the area to remove it from the bone. He said that he may keep her in the hospital overnight for IV antibiotics and observation.

"This is the post that doesn't end...

...yes it goes on and on my friends."

Hopefully this post will compensate for my recent lapse in blogging.

Here is some recent Anara news:

Yesterday Anara ate a cheerio (this is a huge accomplishment because she doesn't mouth food or toys).

Anara will clap when someone mentions, "Pat-a-cake."

She started signing "more" yesterday while I was feeding her. I thought it might be fluke at first, but she did it at least 5 times and even showed Daddy when he came home.

She loves the lapgame "Seesaw" and will rock back and forth if you mention seesaw.

She recognizes "no" or "nyet" (Russian for no), which we usually say to her if she's getting into something she shouldn't be. She usually responds with a startled look like she's busted, and then may work into a whine.

Last week we got 1st Steps services finalized. Anara will meet weekly with a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a developmental therapist and monthly with a nutritionist. Thankfully they all come to our home so it won't be too taxing on our family.

Overall, Anara is doing pretty well. We are fighting diaper rash, diarrhea, and an infection in her suture. We still need to meet with the orthopaedic surgeon and the surgeon that will be doing her reconstruction. We should have a date for surgery in the next couple weeks.

On to Violet...her are some new quotes:

"Oh, here he is Mama."

"Here what is Violet?"
"My booger...I find him."

"I'm disappointed on you Mama." (This quote was totally random while she was playing with her tea set.)

"I am a little big girl, but you can still hold me."

"I want to give God kisses when I go to heaven."

"Shrek likes me." (This is really a bizarre quote because she is afraid of Shrek and often reminds us that she doesn't like him. I think she might be trying to tell herself that Shrek likes her so she doesn't have to fear him. )

"Can you understand, Mama?"

"I can't understand you, Mama."

"I want some gum to feel better. Yeah, that will help me feel better."

Last week Nate peeked into the living room to spy on the girls. Violet leaned over and gave Anara a kiss (Nate thought "Aw that's nice"), and Violet leaned over and gave Anara another kiss. Then Violet reached over and said, "pinch" while giving Anara a pinch on the arm. Anara didn't respond so Violet tried again, "pinch." Nate stepped in at this point. I think Violet might be struggling with a little passive aggressiveness.

Last night after Nate put Violet to bed he heard her praying over the baby monitor, "God, help me feel better." We have been letting Violet pray at night and then assisting her with the ending. It has been pretty precious. It is sweet to hear her little voice talk to God. She almost always begins, "God help Daddy today, help Mommy today, fix Beenowa's owie."

In general, it seems like we have all been fighting illness since we returned from our trip. The four of us shared a cold a couple weeks ago and right now both girls have GI issues. Violet has a fever and a runny nose. She is getting molars and I would like to believe it is related. I think Anara is teething again too. She feels warm and is drooling more than we have seen her drool.

Okay, here are some photos from the birthday party May 5th.

Family photo

Cousin Noble -1, Violet -2, Anara -1

Birthday Boy

Birthday Girls

Last Sunday at church Anara was dedicated. Violet was also rededicated since we are now attending a different church. It is church tradition to do something called a "rock-in." The youngest baby in the congregation is put in a cradle and rocked. The other babies' names are placed in the cradle and they are prayed for. It was a cute ceremony and the girls received souvenir Bibles with their names engraved. We didn't have enough advanced notice to invite family so it was a small gathering, but our friend Christina did video-tape it. Here is a picture from the dedication.

Last week we went to the zoo twice. My mom bought us a membership last summer and we have definitely gotten her money's worth. Here are some zoo pictures with Meemaw.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Anara News...

Anara with Dr. Kaefer (Urologist)

Today we received great news. I have been hesitant to post details about Anara's medical condition because we didn't really know what was going on. At our 1st appointment with the urologist, we found out that there was a possibility of kidney damage. This was confirmed after a renal ultrasound. The urologist told us that both of Anara's kidneys were swollen and that there was damage to the tissue of one kidney. Today we had a more detailed renal scan that involved injecting radioactive isotopes into Anara and analyzing kidney function. We found out 15 min. after the study was complete that Anara does not have any kidney damage. This is a huge praise!! Her kidneys are a little swollen, but this will be resolved after her surgery.

About the surgery...
Anara has bladder exstrophy and this has not been corrected. In 2-3 months, she will have a major surgery to rebuild her bladder and put it back in her abdomen. Babies in the US have this corrected within 48hrs. of birth. She did not have this opportunity. Her bladder is small and hard from being exposed. The surgeons will take a piece of her small intestine and add it to her bladder in order to create a larger bladder. She will also have orthopaedic surgery during this operation to close her pubic bones. The surgery will be approx. 12 hrs and her hospital stay 3-4 weeks.

Anara will most likely not have the ability to urinate on her own. She will leak until she is 4 or 5 years old and will then have another surgery to tighten the bladder neck in order to keep her dry. Once this surgery is done, it will be necessary for her to be catheterized in order to empty her bladder. The urologist did not seem to think it would be possible to avoid this since her bladder is 1/3 of the normal size and has been so damaged. Obviously God is capable of making this happen, but we are not intimidated by a long-term care plan of self-catheterizing. During the 2nd surgery, it is likely that her appendix will be used as an outlet for urine. She would have a tiny opening in her side that she will be able to use for catheterizing. Hopefully I explained everything correctly (and without offending too many of you medical people). If you have questions, are curious, or don't understand something just email us.

Today we also saw a developmental pediatrician and an infectious disease MD. The develop. ped. did not suspect cerebral palsy. I don't remember whether or not I posted that the MD we saw in Kazak. at the international clinic was pretty sure Anara had cerebral palsy. The doctors were great and answered all of my questions.

Anara is developing well. She has learned so many new tricks in the 3 weeks we have been home. She interacts well and learns things quickly. Grandma H. got Anara to say, "Seesaw", which is a favorite lapgame. She also got Anara to clap during "Pat-a-cake". We had been working on clapping or bringing hands together and crossing the midline. She also reaches for objects, grasps things, mimics sounds, and babbles. She has gained over 2 lbs. since we got her from the orphanage.

I am sure that there is more to post, but I am tired. Hopefully I will have time to update again soon. I still need to post some birthday party photos from our big party last Saturday (Dad, send me some pics please).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Is Beenowa's buh-day

Today is Anara's 1-year birthday. We had a small cake to celebrate and she wasn't thrilled with it. She was fine when she was just putting her fingers in it, but when we put a tiny taste on her tongue she started crying. She really isn't into trying new foods. Oh well, at least she is taking plenty of formula and baby food. Here are some pictures from the par-tay.

Violet is excited for Anara's birthday

Anara is excited for her birthday

Anara is freaked out by her cake