Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nice and Rough

Remember how Ike and Tina Turner used to sing "Proud Mary"? "We never do ANYTHING nice and easy...we do it nice and ROUGH!"

Well, Ike and Tina ain't got nothin' on us.

We just returned from a whirlwind tour of Chicago. We arrived late late late Sunday night, then spent all day Monday being shuttled around town by a real estate agent we only knew via email and a phone call or two, visiting 13 (count 'em) different properties that had piqued our interest. That night we collapsed after mulling over the choices with the help of some chianti.

Tuesday morning (that's today) we made an offer on our top choice. The Rev. and I took the "L" over to the neighborhood to walk around and try to get a feel for the area, then came back to our hotel, packed up and checked out, grabbed a quick bite, hauled our stuff to the "L" and made off for the airport. We arrived in St. Louis, had dinner with the Rev.'s parents, and got back in the car. No sooner after we merged on to the highway, our agent called us back with a counteroffer from the developer, which we accepted. Closing is tentatively scheduled in late January.

Time to take a breath. Ahhhhhh.....

Here's a picture of what may be our new home, in the Chicago neighborhood of Albany Park.



It's a single-floor 3-bedroom, 2-bath condo (we would be on the floor that has the sign hanging on it). The neighborhood may be one of the most ethnically diverse places on the planet - there are supposedly at least 40 different languages spoken by the residents, and it includes a thriving Korean business community (one of the main drags of the area is nicknamed "Seoul Drive"). There is also a concentration of immigrants from the Mexican state of Michoacán.

Needless to say, it will be very different than mid-Missouri. But we're up for the adventure!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

May you live in interesting times...

OK, time for a newsflash:

We're moving to Chicago!


This will happen in February sometime. I was approached by a Big 4 accounting firm in Chicago (who I used to work for) with an offer we couldn't refuse. The Rev. will go on family leave from the ministry and get to be a stay-at-home mom for Zane. I get a job with lots of promise and potential and get to put my degree to work again.

There are some bittersweet feelings that come with this move. We will miss terribly the friends we've made in Columbia, but we will be living in an exciting place. We're not sure exactly where in Chicago we'll be living (either in the city proper or very close suburbs), but Zane's going to be an urban boy.

Life will be crazier than usual during the holidays as we try to add house-hunting and house packing (and a myriad of other to-dos) to our already full plates. I hope the stress won't rub off on Zane. We try to make his world as calm, loving and care-free as possible.

For a change, I'm the one taking our family on a wild ride by choice.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Some Eye Candy

Recent photos of the Z-man.
Enjoy.



I like to spend just as much time under the exersauser as in it.
Mom says I'm just trying to decide if I want to be an auto mechanic.



All bundled up for a walk with Daddy.




Looking at this morning picture, the prospect of having a good hair day is questionable at best




MIZ ZOU!
His shirt reads: "Tiger, not just a name, but a lifestyle"
My question: Can YOU believe they are no 1 in the country?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Making readers smarter since 2005!

Hat tip to The Rev. for digging up this gem:



Yay for us! Granted, this tester isn't that sophisticated (the Rev. found something on how it works but I can't place my grimy paws on it). So I ran the blog through some more comprehensive tests at readability.info and got these results:

Kincaid: 4.7
ARI: 4.4
Coleman-Liau: 8.0
Flesch Index: 85.9
Fog Index: 7.6
Lix: 29.3 = below school year 5
SMOG-Grading: 7.6

These results are very different (ranging somewhere between 4th and 8th grade level). You can get more info about the underlying algorithms here. Then I ran it through Juicystudio's tests and got these results:

Gunning Fog Index 15.83
Flesch Reading Ease 16.35
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 12.00

Since only recent posts are displayed when you call up the main URL of the blog, it's hard to get an overall score for the entire blog (when I tested the archives, the scores varied wildly from month-to-month). Faced with such inconsistent results, I'll just stick with the original "genius" moniker - it sounds cooler anyway. And I'm a firm believer of osmosis learning and intelligence, so you, gentle readers, should feel smarter too!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Author! Author!

Some of you may remember my escapade in the clouds shortly after I was able to start flying post-chemo. Well, I did some editing and submitted the story to AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), and the editors there said they would look at it. Many months later, I hadn't heard anything, so I figured they decided not to use my submission, but I asked anyway. Much to my surprise, I was told that AOPA intended to publish my story.

I was slightly disappointed that it wouldn't be published in their print magazine, but it was featured in this week's email newsletter to members. Here's the published version of the story. For the record, I was paid, so I guess that technically makes me a professional published author. That and three bucks can buy me a latte at Starbucks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Toro!

It was inevitable. No sooner had we been deemed to be "state approved permanent parents" for Zane, he promptly caught a GI bug and treated us to several days of vomiting and diarrhea! It brought to mind what my mother-in-law told me in the middle of Sarah's and my wedding service: "It's too late now." Ah, the joys of family living!

Anyway, on to the topic of this post. For some reason, our son has started this odd behavior of screwing up his face to look like a troll, flaring his nostrils and breathing heavily through his nose. We've postulated as to where and how he picked up this trick, but since it gives him something like the countenance of a bull, we offer this for your entertainment:



Oh, did I mention that Zane is crawling?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Adoption Day!

Wednesday October 3, 2007


Having reviewed the paperwork, seen us and the kid in person, the judge deemed us “fit parents for this child” and ruled that his name be officially changed and a new birth certificate awarded.

We couldn’t be happier!

With us in the court room were my parents and sister, and good friend Daniel, who happens to be the pastor at the church next door to the courthouse.

Thank you to all who helped pray for this day to be a reality. We celebrated the day with dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. We figure no matter where we land in the years to come, there will always be a Chinese restaurant we can go to.

Here is a picture of us and the boy.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Sleep Song

I'm on a roll video-wise, so here's another one (this one is housed at YouTube, along with flying videos I shoot).

Zane's First Music Video

Zane was in rare form today working out his vocal cords. He's got a long way to go before becoming the next Pavarotti, but he could get a job as a frontman for some of the aging metal bands as their voices give out. Either that or voiceover for Ned Beatty in Deliverance.

video

Saturday, September 22, 2007

And now, for my next trick...

So the Rev. decided today was the day to try a new food. All Zane has had for the past two months or so is formula, formula mixed with rice cereal, formula mixed with oatmeal, and formula mixed with "ricemeal" (our own special blend of rice and oatmeal). We've had a pantry stocked with baby food ready to go for at least a month. Well, today we popped open a fresh package of...




CARROTS!











He tolerated it pretty well, and then washed it down with some rice. (Let the record show that I also started on carrots, except I was only three months old at the time. Things were different then.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

My favorite thing to look at...

Zane may not be YOUR favorite thing to look at, but he is mine and I feel compelled to share some of the cute pictures from the last week. He's getting so big!


Zane and Fibber (the dog --Fibonacci--aka "Fibber") .
Zane loves Fibber's sloppy baloney-tongue kisses, he'd just received one when this pic was shot. He is fascinated by most of Fibbers movements around the house, esp that tail!


Zane having a good time hanging out with friends.
He's just so darn cute!
Have a good week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Up In the Air

Ok, so yall know Vinny's a pilot.

Pilots are (can be) ubergeeks. (Is in this case)

They are (can be) spoused to closet ubergeeks. (Again, is in this case, but I will feign any knowledge if I have to think too much about it.)

Vinny's inlaws are currently in route to a long awaited vacation in California. And they, being the most direct progenitors of Vinny's spouse, also have ubergeekness to them. Seeing as how Mom excitedly called to let me know they'd arrived at the airport this morning, they will get a kick out of the following picture from this nifty little site called Flight Aware. It will let them know I care. :-)

You type in the tail number of a plane that's flying IFR, or the flight number of a commercial flight and (for free!--cheap ubergeeks unite!) you get real time flight tracking. Currently my mom and dad have an estimated 2 hours and 36 minutes and 572 miles down; 1160 miles to go on their flight.

Here's a screen shot:


Looks like they are almost done with Kansas, driving or flying, it is still a very wide, flat state. Maybe they'll get a clear view of the Rockies in the near future?

You can also see that there's a bit of weather down at the Texas/LA border on the gulf, looks like clear skies for their flight though.

Super cool web site.

Look out California, here they come!

The Rev.

Friday, September 07, 2007

You'll never see this in the US

Yet another great PSA that would never make it past the moral guardians of our culture in the US...


Keep your eye on the balls.

Courtesy of Everyman (Institute of Cancer Research, UK).

New member of the club

Michael Sessions, the 19-year old mayor(!) of Hillsdale, Michigan (who apparently has to balance work and school), announced last week that he was diagnosed with TC and had an orchiectomy in late July. He's scheduled to have an RPLND next week.

Again, early detection was the key! Good luck, Michael - sorry you had to join our club.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Catalog "Reading"

Zane has discovered a use for those many catalogs that clog our mail box.





Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mini Vinny, One Year Later

A year ago at this time, we were scrambling like mad to pack up for a trip to Virginia to adopt a baby that was a day old. It was the start of an adventure that had stratospheric highs and then horrid, painful lows. Yesterday was Mini Vinny's first birthday.

I'd be lying if I said I thought about him every day. With the arrival of Zane our life has changed radically and I'm lucky if I remember my own name some nights. Still, I wonder sometimes how he's doing, what he looks like, whether he's walking, whether he's talking. I sometimes look at the pictures of him from the few precious days we spent with him. What a long, strange trip it's been.

And yet, in hindsight I wouldn't change a single thing. Had Mini Vinny stayed in our lives, we probably never would have welcomed Zane into our world. Life continues to confound and surprise us, and that's OK.

Happy Birthday, Mini Vinny! We'll never forget you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Cancer Related Post?


It's been a while, I know. That's good news! Boring is ok when it comes to medical issues. The Cancer Box has moved to a new location, so I'll be stepping into a brand new building when I go for my next CT in October. But I saw this cartoon in my New Yorker the other day, and I just had to share it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Zane Simpson

From the land of wasted, but fun, time:

Here's Zane's picture:























Here's Zane Simpsonized:

























Here's where you can get the same treatment:

Simpsonize Me

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

highs and lows



Frank's dad snapped this shot on Saturday during the worship service. It is of our friend Daniel pouring the water into the font for Zane's baptism.

Daniel's preaching and pastoring showered our family and all present with God's grace and love. (Plus, he got to say "poop" from the pulpit!)


Our friend Alex's lullaby in
Portuguese was stunning and beautiful.

Thanks to all who were there in body and spirit. We are truly blessed with Z in our life.

In other news, Z began day care this week.
He started it like this:



















Momma started it like this:

I hear it gets better.

He won't use up all his smiles on the cute girls watching him, will he?






The Rev.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Just so darn cute!

This weekend is Zane's baptism. We have family coming in from all over. It will be a wonderful zoo! Then, Monday, after agonizing over the choices, FT day care begins. It is in home w/ 8 kids total. He will join two other little boys who are the same age and a month older. Look out world.

Here's the cutie sitting in his bumbo seat and finally enjoying tummy time!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The latest

long time no blog

I am back at work. Week two and it's Vacation Bible School time. Translation: Daddy's got the evening routine with the boy all to himself. I'm happy to report Daddy and Zane are doing just fine.

We had a great week at the beach with Frank's family. Zane LOVES being in groups of people. The bodes well as he's "theological offspring"* and all. (*"Theological Offspring" = "preacher's kid")

He was all smiles for folks on Sunday when he shared greeting duties with Mommy after church.

A Parents as Teachers educator has had her 1st visit with us and he is meeting all the developmental markers for his age group. (I was hoping they had some sort of "extra credit" line so his permanent record could begin looking exceptional, but alas no.) Missouri is the state that began this amazing program. Every school district in the state has at least one parent educator. Our city even kicks in extra $ for is so there are 40 educators and an excellent resource library and space in town.

Ok, some of you want new pictures. Here goes:

pleased that Daddy got his toes out of his pjs to play:

chewing on his fist;

on the beach with Daddy:
playing with one of his cousins:
listening to a friend sing low tones in his ear:
Have a great week.
The Rev.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Shots!

Zane had his 2 month shots today.

Sniff. three big needles, two strong nurses and me making Frank help hold him down.

Baby and parents are doing fine.

He's now 11lbs and 11oz, 22.5inches long. He's jumped ahead in the % from where he was at birth (5%, now 25-50%)

He went with us to Annual Conference over the weekend (yes, I know I'm on leave) because a friend Rev. Andy Bryan was to be ordained and asked me to be one of the people to lay hands on him--with his Grandfather the Bishop and his dad the preacher. Pretty special honor, so I had to do it. Andy is the 7th generation in his family to be a Methodist pastor so to stand there with him was a powerful experience.

Vinny also had to teach a workshop with his boss on Sunday afternoon, so the trip was a family affair.

As for Zane's experience of AC: LOVES to meet/charm people, HATES long car rides.

It is less than a month before I return to work. Folks at church have been amazing to allow me this time. I'm really proud of them too for not going into "idle" mode while I've been gone. Personally I'm not anxious for the time over the next weeks to fly by, as I love spending day in day out w/Z (and being the one person who knows what is going in and out of him). But I do miss preaching. AC reminded me of that. It's a calling, not a job. I'm glad that it is part of my life.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

All Clear

Today was Zane's follow up with his surgeon.

All is well. Dr. P did such good work that he took out his digital camera and took picture's of Z's tummy so he could show other parents how quickly the scars heal and how minimal they look, just after 2 weeks!

We in turn asked to take Dr. P's picture with Zane:

You many not be able to see, but Dr. P he is wearing a South Park tie.
Seals the deal for Frank, this guy is the bomb!

And yes, Zane is holding his head up unassisted. Stronger every day!

After an incredible quick visit (in and out in 10 minutes--must be a record for "hospital time") we zipped over to the cancer box to deliver the following pictures taken on Tuesday when Frank had a blood test.

At the Cancer Box, Nurses Julie and Rhonda were very excited to see him again. These are the pictures we took them. He is turning into quite the flirt.




























He's had a busy week. Monday night the church threw a baby shower for us. He was, as always, a really good baby, sharing smiles and coos equally. Here he is the next day all sacked out on his grandpa's lap. It takes a lot of energy to be so cute!

















The Rev.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Like Father, Like Son

Ok, so the short story is: we didn't spend Mother's Day weekend in Louisville because Zane was sick. He's better now.

Now for the long story...

While Sarah and Zane were gone and leaving me to temporary bachelorhood, Zane started having problems with vomiting. Now, most of us would think: no big deal, babies spit up all the time. Well, it got so bad that last Wednesday night Sarah called after Zane became the vomit comet and cried inconsolably for several eternities and said that they were coming home. Nana* (Sarah's Mom) rode back with them and they got home around 1 AM Thursday.

Before returning home, Sarah contacted our pediatrician's office and spoke with the on-call doctor, who suggested Zane might have something called pyloric stenosis (actually, hypertrophic pyloric stenosis, but most folks in "casual" medical conversation leave off the hypertrophic part) and we needed to see our doctor the next day. Basically, if you have this condition your pylorus, which connects the stomach to the duodenum (the beginning of the small intestine) is enlarged and squeezes shut the connection. This keeps food from being passed downstream and as a result, the stomach sends it back where it came from.

My Dad and I agreed it probably wasn't a smart idea to plant that idea in a parent's head just based on a phone conversation, but it did give me something to Google while waiting for Zane and Sarah to get home.

Well, we went to the doctor on Thursday morning, who sent us to the hospital for an ultrasound that afternoon. The technician (who we knew from our adoptive parents' group) called in the radiologists, who diagnosed Zane with, you guessed it, pyloric stenosis. So we admitted Zane to the hospital and immediately entered "The Hospital Zone", where time moves in a manner unfathomable to the outside world. We met with the surgeon, who explained how the laparoscopic pyloromyotomy would work. Zane couldn't have anything to eat or drink until after the surgery (all he had in the 1 1/2 days before the surgery was a few ounces of pedialyte).










We stayed with Zane in the room Thursday night, and Friday afternoon was the surgery. It went well, and we even got souvenir pictures of Zane's insides. By Friday evening he was eating well, and Saturday morning it was clear from Zane's migration in the crib that he felt better and was ready to go home. The surgeon agreed and discharged us. We were a little concerned by the discharge instructions that encouraged Zane to "walk as much as possible". I mean, talk about high expectations for a 6 1/2 week old!

So Zane now has a few marks on his abdomen (closed with super glue) and has entered the unofficial "scar competition" that previously had only been between me and Sarah's mom. I think I should get to count Zane's scars in my total (the aggregation rules are very complex). Sarah insists that this will be Zane's ONLY entry in this insane competition.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Slogging through Babyland

Well, Zane is just over a month old and has already made his first airplane trip (although I am a bit put out that it was in a cigar tube airliner and not with his Daddy in the pilot's seat). The Rev. and Zane visited her parents for a couple of days, then flew down today to visit my folks for the next week, as well as Zane's cousins (6 of them now, to be 8 later this year). For the Rev. it is a preview of our family's beach week this coming summer, where we'll have four toddlers ages 1 to 1 1/2, a 2 1/2-year old, a 6-year old, Zane, and 10 adults (one of whom will be pregnant with twins). Her assessment is that we should all sleep well because it will be pandemonium during the day. Eventually we may have a fun condo and a time-out condo, but this year it will be sheer madness.

So, I'm batching it with the dog for the next week. I plan to get some sleep, but I can't help thinking I'm missing out on the fun. Still, sleep is good. Next up for us is a trip to Louisville over Mother's Day weekend. It's the weekend after the Derby, so hopefully the city should be somewhat back to normal.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Announcing Our New Arrival

The Rev. and I are proud to announce the arrival of:

Zane Alexander
Born at 1:01 AM, Wednesday, March 28, 2007
6 lb, 5 oz, 19 1/2 in.

We were blessed to be present at his birth and had the opportunity to visit with Zane and his birthmom several times during their stay in the hospital.

On Friday, we were able to take Zane home, and earlier today (Monday), the court granted us temporary custody in our adoption case until the adoption is finalized later this fall.

So we are now in the throes of sleep deprivation and learning to decipher the crying language of babies. More pictures are available here.

The Rev.'s parents visit tomorrow, and my folks will come into town next week some time. For now, we are very tired, but very happy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A spring break to remember

Tuesday morning at 6:30, we took prospective birthmom to the hospital to induce labor (it was her OB's idea). 18 1/2 hours later, she was no longer a prospective birthmom, having given birth to a healthy baby boy at 1:01 AM. 6 pounds, 5 ounces, 19 1/2 inches long.

Why the OB chose Tuesday to induce labor, I don't know. After all, this week is spring break in our town for both the public schools and the colleges and universities. As a result, the following people are out of town this week:
  • Birthmom's OB
  • Our adoption attorney
  • The director of our adoption agency
Anyway, birthmom is resting at the hospital (although not comfortably, as there is major construction going on around the post-partum section of the hospital). The hospital allows prospective adoptive parents to visit from 1-4 PM daily (normal people can visit whenever they want). We stayed at the hospital with birthmom all day Tuesday and left about 4 AM on Wednesday, got home and went to bed around 5 AM - the same time we had awoken the previous day.

Assuming all goes as planned, here's the schedule for the next few days:
  • The baby should be released from the hospital on Friday morning. The hospital won't accept a durable power of attorney from the birthmom allowing the baby to be released to us, so he'll be released to birthmom, who will promptly turn him over to the social worker from the adoption agency, who will in turn deliver him to us in the parking lot.
  • We'll stay at home until Sunday, when we travel to a nearby city to spend the night, then file an adoption petition on Monday morning.
  • In court on Monday, there will be a hearing to terminate birthmom's parental rights, then a hearing to determine temporary custody of the baby and award such to the Rev. and me.
Nothing is certain until then, so for now there will be no pictures or other details. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Waiting

I hate waiting. So does the Rev. But we're waiting.

Our birthmom-to-be / adoption partner is 36+ weeks along, effaced and beginning to dilate. So, it's only a matter of time before the child she's carrying (and that we hope and plan to adopt) will make his grand entrance into the world.

The Rev. has her affairs in order (as best as they can be in order) and is ready when the time comes. After my opera gig this weekend, I'll be ready too.

No guarantees. Bad things could still happen, but given the relationship we've cultivated with our PPP (partner pregnant person) over the past 5 months, we're still cautiously optimistic that we will be able to adopt this child. If it doesn't happen, we pick up the pieces and start over again.

And then life will change. The Rev. and I will enter the land of the sleep deprived, and our child's birthmom will gradually move to the sidelines of our lives.

Meanwhile, we wait.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

anonymous

Maybe you are visiting because you have followed a link from a mean spirited “troll” who copied a recent post that I made here on his/her blog (the author is anonymous). If that is the route that found you here, then welcome. I invite you to read through our posts from the beginning. Know that we write to share our story--our life with and following my husband’s battle with testicular cancer.

We are blessed to have a huge number of people, family and friends, who keep us in their thoughts and prayers. Using a blog to communicate with them is one of the gifts of modern technology. We hope that if you are going through similar difficulties times in your life that our honest sharing is something that can help you find wholeness during a stressful time.

If you are one who follows our blog, please know that I’m not sharing the "troll's" site address because I do not want to support or advertise the thoughts of an unfortunate soul who seems to have problems with adoption, the church, people of faith, and a whole host of other issues AND who hides behind the veil of “anonymous.” I find it to be cowardly: it doesn’t allow conversation, just verbal arrows shot from a heart that would be empty save all the hate that is held within and shared, “anonymously”, with the world. I do, in all seriousness, hope that whoever it is has someone other than the world wide web to speak to about the things that are troubling them.

I debated about even responding to his/her post. To respond gives power to the other, but not responding can make one feel powerless. And if you are someone who frequents this site, you know that I’m someone who likes conversation, not anonymous mean spirited attacks. I am taking back my power and standing up for my right to share openly and honestly what is happening in our lives, it's our blog after all.

Said blogger commented on my most recent post. It was posted to our site less than 30 minutes after I’d blogged. It was so scathing that Frank deleted it before he even let me read it. He does not usually protect me in this way, so I can only imagine what it said. (He is also much better at dismissing people who don’t share his perspective than I am. I’m softer than him in that respect, I dwell on things. It is who I am.)

Frank, gifted surfer of the web, was able to track the source of the post to the blog where I found myself quoted (out of context of our story) and ripped on. It is one thing to disagree in the context of a conversation, but it is mean spirited to “proof text” or take out of context (what so many Christians unfortunately do to prove their well intentioned however erroneous points) part of a story and pass judgment on a person’s character and profession.

Frank posted, with full disclosure of who he was, to this person’s site inviting him into conversation. S/he erased his comment quicker than s/he was erased by Frank on this site! Conversation halted by the one who seemed so eager to point out how wrong, selfish, mean, and hypocritical I am. Hmmm.

As a clergy women I have never claimed to be anything other than human, complete with all the complex issues that everyone faces. I’m not immune to selfishness*, nor pain. It is thought the grace of God that I work and strive to be in right relationship with God and neighbor. But, if you are anonymous, you, neighbor, prevent that relationship from ever having a chance.

So, all that is to say that we have no intention of engaging in fruitless battles where everyone ends up loosing, and thus we are limiting our comments section to those who will identify themselves in a way that can lead to conversation. That does not mean you have to agree with what we say, for everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but you have to have the balls, or in the TC world—the ball, to claim your ideas and the arrows you sling with them as your own, not some cowardly anonymous doofus.

*As an aside, I do not feel my/our desire to adopt an infant is selfish. I view those who have attempted the adoption process after not being able to conceive themselves as brave and courageous.

For most of the world, it doesn’t take much to make a baby, but if what you have doesn’t work, and if you desire to share and grow a life with your partner, and you have the means to do so—it is in some cases selfish not to.

The many layers of paperwork and questioning that couples go through to get to where we are is astounding. There is a “reasonable” reason for everything from personal financial records to a note from the vet saying that that household pet is up to date on shots. The reality remains that people whose “parts” work rarely if ever have to justify to the government that they are fit to be parents. To actively purse adoption means that you’ve overcome or are at least dealing with in a healthy way a lot of anger—at your body, at the system, etc.

Therefore the choice to enter this process is a very personal decision for each person or couple. From the adoptive parents' perspective, each has to determine the threshold of heartache, the willingness to lay your heart out, open to be able to accept a blessing or be prepared for it to be smashed into the ground. It is knowing that what ends up being “best” for the baby may be something other than what you thought it should be. It is about being “all in”, knowing that there may be pieces of your heart that will never be gathered up together again, and that is ok. I’ve heard it said that being a parent is like having your heart walking around outside of your body. For adoptive parents, that often begins years before their child is even conceived.

Additionally, I have GREAT respect for OUR birth mom. We would not be where we are or who we are with out her. She is doing something that I could never imagine doing. I may not always agree with her choices, but I respect that they are hers to make. Frank and I are doing everything with in our power (and within what the state law allows us to do) that we can to support her. Her time is close, she is, to quote her “so done with being pregnant.” We recognize that there are still things that could happen and this is not a “done deal” by any means. We just want to be parents. If she is carrying the child we are to parent, then it will all work out. If not, we’ll grieve what we'd hoped and longed for, regroup and move on. I have faith, I have hope that at some point, at some time we are to give a significant portion of our life to help someone grow into an amazing person.

We did get to see the baby blink, look around, and "breathe" on the ultra sound yesterday! Wasn't the 3D one though, the little stinker faced backward during that one last week. He's coming right along.

So much for trolls.


-the rev


P.S. As of the evening of February 28, the troll's website has been closed to nonregistered users.
Vinny

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I got the music in me...

The Rev. alluded to me having to possibly curtail my music activities with the arrival of a child. The interesting story is that I actually have curtailable music activities.

For those of you who don't know, I am a member of a mid-Missouri singing group (and a damn good one, if I may say so). But singing isn't where I originally got seriously into music. I went to my first college on a tuba scholarship, and it was because I played tuba in The Band in Atlanta that the Rev. and I met. But since getting married and moving out here, I only get a chance to play my horn once every other year or so - certainly not enough to stay "in shape".

Fortunately, I have friends in medium-high places, so when an opportunity came up to play for a U.S. premiere of a piece written by a Canadian pianist/composer, I begged for the part. It turned out well, and I subsequently got an invite to play a gig with the local civic orchestra for their President's Day concert. In the meanwhile, I got to play on Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1, again thanks to my friend. The beginning of the 3rd movement has a high and exposed tuba solo, and I was sweating bullets preparing for my 10 seconds of fame. I survived, barely.

It's interesting how some things come back to you just like riding a bicycle. In this case, it was being a member of the low brass fraternity, commiserating with trombone players and doing what low brass players do best - tell dirty jokes or make fun of lesser musicians (namely, string players and vocalists). Ah, life in the orchestra.

By the way, do you know what you call a trombone player who carries a pager?

An optimist.

Ok, well, here's where we are...

You may have noticed a lack of blogging of late. That is not because things haven't been happening, it just well, so much of the stuff that _is_ happening is so beyond our control and in some ways not yet our story to tell that we've (and I'll confess, mostly me) have been holding it close. But here it is, laid out, bare....

Briefly: We are cautiously excited.

The long version:
As of today our birth mom is at 34 weeks. Her due date is April 4. That being said, she's reached the time where one sees the OB Dr. weekly. Having been bounced around from resident to resident at the clinic she's been going to, she's finally landed a Dr. we all think is pretty cool. Last week's snow storm confirmed we like her best b/c she was out of the office to stay home with her kids and the resident that our Birth mom saw was -10 on the likability scale.

We saw said Dr. Cool (aka "'da boom" as described by the receptionist) yesterday. A check under the hood revealed that B-mom is 100% effaced and has a finger tip of dilatation. Two weeks ago she was 80% effaced. Thus the process of labor has begun. But as any good midwife or OB will tell you, it could be days, it could be weeks. So we wait.

Other issues: B-mom is measuring small. Meaning when they put the tape measure across her belly, it is measuring 31 weeks instead of 34. We've decided (she, Frank and I) that they might want to start measuring not just up and down, but side to side as well. But I digress.
Measuring small wins us a weekly trip to the ultrasound lab to monitor the baby more closely. Yesterday's visit after seeing the Dr. didn't throw any huge red flags. The 3d ultrasound estimated that he (yes, very definitely a he--the only thing we saw clearly on the screen--Frank's so proud and somewhat relieved that it is a boy) weighs about 4 1/2 lbs. That puts him in the 10th percentile. However, some of the pregnancy sites (site 1) (site 2) I've visited say that babies are 4 3/4 to "almost" 5 lbs at this week, so I don't see what all the fuss is about, so he's a bit small. B-mom is a smoker, small birth weight is a possibility. I'm not overly worried, which is a HUGE accomplishment for me at this point.

As for the cool factor of getting to have a 3d ultrasound done: Well the little stinker had his face turned away and covered with his hand and foot--amazingly flexible at this age. Maybe next week. The ultra sound is before the appointment, so we'll get the Dr. Cool's take on what's happening.

We, of course, want him to cook as long as possible. But we anxious to hold him and make him our own. He will be here before we know it. I have a feeling that it will happen in the next week or so. It may dampen some of Frank's musical plans, but, hey, that's life, literally, a new life.

Some have asked what happens after he's born. Well here's how I understand things.

We will be present for the birth. One hour after the birth the hospital escorts us out of the building. As the adoptive parents we are not allowed to even be at the hospital except for birth, and very limited visiting hours. During that time we will probably be making sure his room is ready, stocking up on the correct size of diapers, making sure his room is ready, pacing, not sleeping, hanging out in his room and waiting for our time to go back to the hospital. We will also be selecting a name. The B-mom wants us to name him (she has the right to name him whatever she wants, we have the right to change it if we want to) so that she can begin to call him what we will call him.

The earliest the B-mom can terminate her parental rights is 48 hours after the birth; if she gives birth Thursday - Saturday we'd have to wait until court on Monday. This is, pardon my language, but a HELL of a lot better than the state of Virginia's "15 days to terminate and 10 more days to change your mind" law. I digress again. The court is pretty good about working in cases like this; evidently they have a lot of really crappy things to deal with in family court and this is that bright shining light they wait to see every so often, the baby is to be present, mostly for the photo op w/ the judge. Did I mention that they love this kind of thing?

After that there are several different things we'll have to do, home study w/ the social worker, another appearance in court, and other formalities that I'm not to worried about at this point.

At this point the plan for leaving the hospital is that she will let the agency "take him home" from the hospital and then our agency will give him to us to care for until the court date. This way we can avoid foster care all together. This is MOST excellent.

I could go into the emotional roller coaster I've been on of late, but I will just say that as I've walked this "paper pregnancy" with a girlfriend who gave birth to a second child yesterday morning, we've come to discover that each is equally harrowing and scary.

You know the story of Jacob from the Bible? He wakes up to find himself wrestling with an angel, a particularly strong one that seems determined to kill him. Jacob holds on, fights back and demands a blessing before he, Jacob, will let the angel go. By morning he has his blessing, but does not come out of the encounter unscathed. He's so badly injured that he walks with a limp for the rest of his life. A reminder of the cost of the blessing.

I compare this story to our respective pregnancies. My friend may carry the physical scars of a c-section, her mark of the battle for the blessing of her new little one. I too feel like I'm fighting for a blessing. But my scars are ones that are etched in my heart. My only duty is acknowledge them, but not to become them. During this waiting time, sometimes it is hard not to let those fresh scars be part of my daily existence. Especially when I reflect back to the blessing that we had to hand over to someone else last September. And yet, at the same time, that may be the point of the story of Jacob--he was reminded of it daily, and yet still was able to live.

Other comparisons between paper and physical pregnancy a sense of spaciness and a feeling of being completely out of control. As I'm preparing for maternity leave from my job as a pastor I'm reminded of how much I love my work and don't really want anyone else to do it for me. But I am also SO ready for this little one to come into our lives! I meet tomorrow w/ the person who will be covering the church's duties for me while I'm out for three months. I'm excited to get that done, so it is one less thing that needs to be checked off the "list" of things to do.

That's all for now. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.

The Rev.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Graduation

Had my first labs and CT of 2007, almost two years to the day after my first chemo infusion. Nothing new, nothing exciting. Just the way I like it.

Dr. V. moved me from a 2-month to a 4-month checkup schedule, with CTs every 8 months. So the next time I visit the oncologist's office, it will have been more than two years since the end of chemo and almost two years since my RPLND. That two year milestone is significant, as recurrences of non-seminoma significantly drop off after that time period.

I also got a fistful of "Cancer Sucks" buttons from the chemo nurses. They can be ordered through the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship ($25 for a box of 100).