And that’s that!

Adoption Path

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The date was May 5th 2014, the adoption committee selected our family as a forever family for Elijah and Gabriel.

January 16th 2016 a “short” 620 day’s later the judge signed the adoption decree.

Which means their now 100% ours. No more DHS, no more having to get a third parties permission before taking them for a dental check up! No more monthly home visits! The boys signed off on the adoption a year ago. The Dad’s signed off on the adoption 620 days ago. Everyone in our family was ready for this process to be done.

We told the boys last night. Elijah was THRILLED. Moody Jayme was moody. Gabriel just clapped and was his normal happy self.

We took the boys out to dinner at their favorite place Sweet Tomato’s.

For our first official day as a family of all DeSoren’s we are going to go on a Cub Scout Field Trip.

 

 

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Chicken Pox

Adoption Path

First it was Gabriel,  Fever of 101.2 for 2 days. Then Anthony was smacked down for 3 days with a fever of 102.

Hoping to not get hit Joshua took to sleeping on the sofa. But he only ended up with something worse. A week after everyone was well Joshua came down with Strep. His Doctor confined him at home for a week. Anthony confined Joshua to his bedroom. Joshua was not allowed to go near the kids or leave his room for 7 days. Jayme helped sterilize the house. Every light switch, doorknob, stair rail, etc. was bathed in disinfectant spray or sanitizer. We were very worried that the kids might get strep and everyone would keep passing back and forth to each other.

The morning after the start of Joshua’s confinement, Gabriel woke covered in spots and white blisters. All over his face, back, arms and legs. Anthony rushed him to urgent care. When the nurse came in she said Chicken Pox and when the Doctor came in he had to get a second opinion because he had never seen it before, but both of them said Chicken Pox. The second Doctor even gave Anthony the “your a liar” look when Anthony stated that Gabe had all of his shots.

They said that there was no magic pill or cream. It would just have to run it course. They advised Anthony to buy some liquid Benadryl to help with the itching.

Anthony dropped Gabe off at home, headed to store and returned with Benadryl, Calamine lotion and hydro-cortisone. We gave Gabe a dose of Benadryl put him down for a nap and then began our second round of home disinfecting.

The next morning, with the exception of a few scratch marks, every last Chicken Pox sore was gone. Anthony has submitted our family for the Noble Prize for finding the cure for Chicken Pox. So we are looking forward to the awards ceremony and the prize money. That or the two Doctors were wrong….

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Grand Floral Parade Walk

Adoption Path

grand_floral_walk_logo

2015 saw Boys and Girls Aid as the official charity of the the Grand Floral Parade and Bank of the West as the official sponsor of the Boys and Girls Aid Family Walk in the Grand Floral Parade.

When Anthony got the E-Mail invite for our family to join the walk, he signed us up on day one. He carefully entered online for the T-shirt sizes each of us needed and clicked send.

The week before the walk Anthony headed down to pick up the T-Shirts. What he came home with was; Three Red adult mediums for the 3 boys and One red XL Youth T-shirt for one of the Dad’s. A quick phone call to Joshua later and that evening Joshua arrived home with 5 matching red blank T-Shirts all in the correct sizes. Seems good old Bank of the West didn’t order any kids sizes…. for a kids charity group.

We had a good laugh about not getting any of the correct sizes, but realized on the plus side we are NOW ready for Gay Days next year at Disneyland.

The Grand Floral walk started at 9:30am and we had instructions to be in our area at 9:00am. So on the big day we loaded the van up. The night before Anthony had laid out all the outfits for everyone and loaded Gabe’s diaper bag with snacks, juice boxes and sun screen. So we had no reason to be late, but we were.

The whole area was in lock down for the parade so we had to walk down from Joshua’s work to the rally area. We arrived in perfect time, just as the parade volunteers where moving our group out to the main doors into the Memorial Colosseum. We just slide right in on the side.

From year’s of being in the Portland Pride Parade, it was clear to both of us that Boys and Girls Group was an after thought/tack on group. We walked directly behind Bank of the West who wore yellow t-shirts, ours were red. Directly behind us was the Fred Myers volunteers group also in red shirts. So our group mostly was lost during the parade. Each time we came to one of the announcing booths they would call us Bank of the West, Fred Myers or The Oregonian do to the huge Oregonian logo on our groups T-Shirts.

There were a few important places they did get it right. The best was when we entered into the Memorial Coliseum. We walked in and and straight into Governor Kate Brown. She talked and shook all of our hands and called Gabe a cutie. Jayme was a bit stunned and didn’t really understand that we just met the Governor of Oregon until it was all over but he was super excited about it.

The walk itself was a 4 mile death march in 90 degree weather and full sun. But we had a blast. Jayme walked the whole route with only a little complaining at the end. Elijah walked about 1 mile and then spent the rest of the journey in the baby stroller or being carried. Gabriel was the grand marshal of the whole event, he waved at everyone from his stroller or a Dad’s arms.

We crossed the 4 mile finish line and Joshua and Elijah stood in line for some free swag and grub that was laid out. Elijah absconded with 2 full size subs and a free backpack sling.

As all the other families headed back into the city, we walked out towards the PGE park MAX stop. While waiting for the train we all shared juice and the free sandwich in the shade of the train stop.

It was a great day and next year we hope to work with some other parents to organize Boys and Girls Aid’s own entry into the walk and get some T-shirts that fit.

2015-GFW-RouteMap

 

 

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Toothache

Adoption Path

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Elijah came to us with tooth issues. It’s hard to miss his missing two front teeth and his slurred toothless speech. It makes him very distinct. Elijah entered care with very poor teeth, so bad that he had to have a mouthful of cavities filled and those mentioned two front teeth extracted.

Even though the boys moved in with us back in May of 2014, not all of their healthcare did. It took several months for the dental to transfer to a local vendor and then several months for an open appointment with Jayme’s dentist who takes the Oregon Health care plan. This became a bigger issue when he started to complain of tooth pain.

Now for Elijah to talk about pain is kinda a big deal, we have noticed that he as a pretty high pain thresh hold and tends to hide pain. The upsetting part of our story is Elijah will have reached this high level several times before this blog is over.

DENTIST OFFICE #1

A few weeks before the appointment Elijah started talking about a tooth hurting. It would be several months before the pain would be 100% gone.

Daddy Anthony was in charge of the first Dentist visit. Gabe, Anthony and Elijah all crammed into the exam room for a long cleaning. Elijah did great with the x-rays and did great with the cleaning. What he did fail at (and so did Gabe and Anthony) was the 45min after the cleaning waiting for the Doctor. Once the cleaning was done we sat and sat and sat. The Doctor was busy with another treatment and could not come in to see Elijah. With 10 mins left before we had to leave to get Jayme from school she appeared.

Strike 2 for the Dental office was quickly identified. The hygienist had failed to get a x-ray of the bad tooth so the Doctor had no way to see how bad it was. But she did open Elijah’s mouth and quickly find 6 cavities all in need of treatment. As we rushed out the door to pick up Jayme we found out the next closest treatment appointment was 6 weeks out. Elijah would have to wait to get his tooth fixed.

6 weeks later, Joshua takes Elijah in to the Dentist for his appointment. Everything was find until it came time for the shots. They tried numbing topical meds, they tried gas but nothing could get Elijah to relax and allow that needle into his mouth. After about 15mins the Doctor gave up and told Joshua that he would have to take Elijah to a pediatric Dentist. Now this was a shock because we thought we were at one. But it seems the pediatric Dentist that Jayme was seeing at this location quit. So they only had regular dentists now.

 

DENTIST OFFICE #2

It took a week for us to get a call from the pediatric Dentist office. First date available was another 6 weeks out. With some pleading about Elijah’s case and how he was a foster kid and how poor his teeth were they said they could do a examination only appointment and the Dentist would judge if the tooth needed rushed attention. The only time open was 7am the next day. So Joshua took Elijah in on his way to work, with the plan Anthony would pick up and take him to school later after Elijah got to spendsome time at Joshua’s work.

Joshua and Elijah arrived at the new Dentists office. Joshua presented Elijah’s medical insurance card and then the receptionist asked to see Joshua’s ID. Now this was a new thing for us, we have never been asked that before. Not at our Medical Doctors office with Jayme or the other boys. Not at the Pharmacy when picking up controlled prescriptions. So Joshua asked, “Why do you need to see my ID?”. The reply was to prove that he was who he says he is. Joshua said sure, but I am not the patient my foster son is.

It should be added that having now worked with the reception and booking staff of this office, clearly Joshua asking why was a challenge to the receptionist supreme godly authority. She quickly got back up and then told Joshua that since Elijah was a Foster child they could not see him today. Now to Joshua’s credit, no one was killed. But he did leave a bit mad. Not sure why, waiting for 12 weeks with a child in pain might have something to do with it, but who knows.

Joshua and Elijah returned home and told their tale. Anthony took the boys to school and then called the Dentist office to see how we fix this.

The phone was answered by a nice man. Anthony explained what happened. The man on the phone sounded confused and asked for the insurance information. He was then quickly able to pull it up and said, “I am not sure what the problem is, all of his insurance is correct, both of you are listed. Can you hold and I will talk to the receptionist?”

Several minutes later a woman comes on the phone, this turned out to be the receptionist. She started telling Anthony that since they had no idea Elijah was a Foster kid they had no way to confirm that Joshua was the foster father. Now this is a lie, as all of our names and information are listed on Elijah’s insurance HIPAA information. Anthony mentioned that he had told the scheduling person on the phone Elijah’s whole story just 2 days prior. The receptionist then without asking transferred Anthony to the scheduling receptionist.

She picks up the phone with “You never told me he was a foster child, because if you had I would told you we needed a form from DHS.” It should be noted that Anthony has not yelled. Anthony calming say “Well that is not true and I don’t like being called a liar. But, it’s not important right now. I just need to know what I need to get you so Elijah can be seen.”

The scheduling receptionist stated again, “I will need a DHS form.”

Anthony asked  “What form do you need, what form number is it?”

“I just need a DHS form.”

“Ok, but what form do you need? A DH1-45 form or some other weird numbered form or something like a consent form..”

“I need something that proves your the Foster father”

“Well that is in the HIPAA insurance information that you can pull up on your screen. Do you need letter from DHS?”

“Yes”

“What needs to be in the letter?”

“It needs to say your the foster parents”

“Ok, does it need to be on letterhead? Does it need to be a live signature or can we fax it?”

“You can fax it.”

“Ok what is your fax number”…

This strange banter continued for a few more minutes until we got to the next logical question.

Anthony asked “So how soon can we get Elijah back into be seen?”

“Well that depends on how fast DHS is able to get us the form.”

“Oh, you will have the form by noon today. I will be calling Elijah’s case manager and attorney right after this call.”

One long pause later.

“Well if we get the form today, we could see him in 2 days at 7am.”

“He will be there, thank you for your help. I will call back today at noon to make sure you have the form you need.”

After a call to DHS and short talk with Elijah’s caseworker, we had the “form” which was just a letter in by 11:00am and the caseworker was on the phone to the Dentist office moments after getting off the call. Two days later Anthony took Elijah into the office. Anthony had his personal ID and insurance card ready and handed both to the receptionist before even saying who he was. Both were scanned and we were told to wait.

Now, this is the end of the Dentist drama. The nurses and Elijah’s Dentist are wonderful, kind and gentle. It is like night and day in that office. Front of the house is power mad and the back of the house is amazing. After some x-rays and a quick look the Dentist told us that the tooth that had been bothering him was now a fully abscessed. The Dentist informed us that the tooth was not savable and have to be pulled.  She gave him a prescription for antibiotics and an appointment for extraction 9 days later.

Since she recommended sedation for the procedure, the dentist office tried for 7 days to get DHS to sign off on the sedation. With no luck the Dentist called us directly and told us. We called our caseworker and they had the sedation consent back same day. The Dentist has now mentioned twice how impressed she was that we could get DHS to move so fast. The truth is we just have a great caseworker.

Extraction day could not come fast enough. The antibiotic helped with the pain and swelling a bit, but eating was still very hard for Elijah. When we arrived, again Anthony handed over his ID and Elijah’s insurance card again before speaking (both were scanned again) and we were told to wait.

Once back in the back of office, in the good zone, Anthony and Elijah entered a dim quiet exam room. Elijah got a arm hugger on his arm and little clip on his big toe. Then he got a nice blanket to keep him warm. The sedation meds are oral, so after he drank them down we had to rest for 20mins for them to kick in. Anthony read Harry Potter to Elijah as he got woozy.

The Doctor came back in and gave him some pain shots, which he handled with no issues. Then 10 mins later she came back and wiggled two infected teeth out. They told him to bite down and then they raised him up. He quickly pulled the gauze out of his mouth and said “Blood! What happened?”

We set a date to come back and look over the other cavities for 2 months later and then we headed home.

Recovery at home was very fast. Once in front of the TV he was pain free and doing great. By the afternoon you could not even tell there was anything wrong that morning.

 

RETURN OF PAIN 

About 2 week prior to our appointment Elijah started complaining about mouth pain. This time on the other side of his mouth. Eating quickly became something very hard and painful again and we found ourselves right back in the place we were just a few weeks prior.

Dentist day came on the last day of school. So we had a very very full day. Anthony and Elijah arrived at the office. Anthony handed over his ID and Elijah’s insurance card again before speaking (both were scanned again for the third time) and we were told to wait. And wait we did. It took about 30 mins before we were called into the good back. The Dentist came out and explained that a procedure had gone long and apologized for the wait. Anthony told her about the new problem and how the Dad’s really did not want any more extractions as we have become concerned that he will not be able to eat.

Once in the good back of the house Elijah had a full set of x-rays done and a tooth cleaning. The great news was the Dentist felt that she might be able to just cap the two teeth. The bad news was the next appointment open was 3 months out. Anthony and the Dentist talked about how we might get in sooner. She mentioned that she had a lot of cancelations this week and she was sure she would get another one very soon, when she did the spot was ours. We also talked about calling in each morning to see if anyone had canceled.

So the next morning Anthony called and asked if anyone had cancelled. He spoke with the same nice man as last time, the one who found our names in Elijah’s HIPAA insurance with no problems. He told Anthony that they had no cancelations, but the 8:30am had not RSVPed for their appointment and I was welcome to call back at 8:30am to see.

8:30am Anthony called back. This time he got the Serene Highness receptionist. She scolded Anthony for calling, that she makes those calls and 8:30 would not be an option for Elijah. Anthony thanked her (for his tongue lashing) and said he would check back tomorrow.

Later that night we got a call from Her Serene Highness, the 7:00am for the next day had canceled and if we wanted it she would allow it. Anthony thanked her and quickly got off the phone before he said anything to upset her.

 

TAKE TWO

Anthony and Elijah arrived at the office on time only to find the doors closed and the lights out. So we headed over to the adult side of the office rather then the pediatric side. Anthony was ready to hand over his ID and Elijah’s insurance card again. But this time on the adult side, they did not need them. A new nicer receptionist only asked if Elijah had eaten any food. Within mins we were called back to the good side for round two.

This time Elijah was much calmer, until the medicine came. He really didn’t want to drink it this time. He also was much for restless in the chair during the procedure. Anthony had to hold his hands.

The Dentist was able to cap one of the teeth, but the other was dead and the nerve neurotic, it had to be pulled. The whole procedure was quite fast and the bad tooth came out very easy, which made the Dentist comment that we were lucky and just cut off another infection in the nick of time.

Once home Elijah bounced back again and within an hour was playing Star Wars Lego and pain free.

Next appointment for the remaining cavities it in 3 months, but the Dentist said none are near any point of causing pain.

 

POSTSCRIPT

Remember the nice man who found our insurance information easily and suggested calling back. They fired him for telling us to call back at 8:30. Not kidding, they really did.

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Disneyland January 2015

Adoption Path

Gabes 2nd Birthday, Anthony’s 21st again and Jayme’s 10th. MORE then enough of a good reason to go to Disneyland and meet the Mouse.

Day one

JetBlueOur fight was a 7:00 am direct on Jetblue to Longbeach Airport. This would be both Gabriel’s and Elijah’s first commercial airline flight. With Jayme we had to do a visit to the airport and lots of special airplane books. Not so much with these two. We did give Elijah Jayme’s old airplane books and he did read and enjoy them, but he is not Jayme.

We got to the airport on time and parked in long term parking. When the shuttle bus came up the driver was none other then our friend Alan, he runs tree farm for the annual Christmas tree hunt that we take the boys to. Very strange to be greeted by the shuttle driver at the airport by name. The boys got a kick out of seeing someone they knew as well.

We packed Gabe’s car seat for the flight but found out at the gate he did not need it for the flight. This was great as he HATES being in the car seat.  So they checked it for us and we piled into the plane. We must have been a very strange sight, 5 guys all moving in a disordered mass down the gang plank. We all sat in one long row. Elijah in the window, Gabe in the middle Anthony in the aisle seat, then Joshua in the middle seat directly across and then Jayme on the far window. The amazing part, no crying or fear. Elijah was in TV land and ignored most of the flight and Gabe was just one happy little dude.

We landed in Longbeach and after getting our bags and making the required restroom break we headed out to wait for our shuttle. But that too was a short wait and a direct trip to our hotel, the Desert Palms Hotel and Suites. As we pulled up a huge union strike picket line was in front of the hotel (ok perhaps not huge, 7 guys). So just to check in we had to be a class traitors and cross the line. But with a non-refundable vacation paid for and 3 kids ready for Disney, we somehow found the will.

Check in was a snap and they even had our room ready, which was nice since it was well before the stated check in time. Our room was a bunk bed suite with a nice king bed for the Dad’s. We didn’t stay long. After everyone changed in to shorts and used the potty we were out the door and headed for the parks.

Disney’s California Adventure was our day one park. Knowing how impulsive Elijah can be and not knowing how he would react to the park so we over prepped for any outcome. We wrote our cellphone number on his upper arm, gave him long talks about staying close and as we entered the park stopped to introduce him to some cast members. The cast members were happy to let us use them as props as we showed Elijah their cast member name badge and told him if he got lost anyone with a badge like theirs is someone who will help him find us. After our talk the cast members gave the boys Mickey stickers and we headed in to the park.

We made a bee line for Cars land, remembering how crazy the lines for the racers can be. By the time we got there the line was over 200 mins again, so we let Jayme and Elijah play on the other attractions. Elijah got to meet Mater and Lighting McQueen and even the big red firetruck (Red). He didn’t really seem to connect with them. Gabriel would have NOTHING to do with them. He just saw them and cried and ran to Daddy Anthony. He did do great in his stroller, for the most part he kicked back, waved at everyone and enjoyed the ride. For Elijah, itwas a bit like Jayme was on his first visit, quiet and overwhelmed.

After CarsLand, Jayme wanted to do California Screamer. So Joshua and Jayme headed off and Anthony, Gabe and Elijah followed slowly behind. The three of them took the scenic route to the Pier area. Alone the way they found a Donald Duck meet and greet. Elijah waited for his turn and then ran up to Donald and gave him a huge hug. Elijah was all smiles. Donald made a big deal about their shirts matching and then Elijah took off his Mickey sticker and gave it to Donald. It too a moment for Donald to understand what had happened, but once his handler told him, he made a big deal about Elijah giving him a sticker. As Elijah and Donald’s moment came to a close the handler asked if Gabe would like to meet Donald. Anthony took Gabe out of his stroller and Gade took 4 steps toward Donald, turned, screamed, and ran crying back to Anthony. Ah… Disney magic. (Photos on Shutterfly BTW it’s hysterical)

Lunch time was a 2:00 pm reservation at Carthay Circle. We love eating at this place. We normally do the World of Color package, but since WOC was down for refurbishment it was just for lunch this time. Not sure if was just a bad day or if Disney has been dumbing down the menu, but our lunch lacked some of the food magic we have had in the past. The food was still great, but not as great as it was before. Now we also had an almost 2 year old toddler, a 7 year old and a moody pre-teen… so that might have had something to do with it as well. That said all of the boys loved their lunch, it was a great family moment as we grazed off each others plates and made jokes.

Per our family schedule after lunch is nap time! Best tip we can give anyone going to Disney, always take an afternoon nap. You come back to the parks recharged and get to watch people who didn’t deal with tired kids and tired parents. Thankfully our hotel this time is pretty close, about a 10 min walk away.

By the time we got back it was starting to get dark. Jayme wanted to do Tower of Terror so we split up again, this time Anthony with Gabe and Elijah, Joshua with Jayme. While the boys did the tower, Elijah and Gabe took the Red Trolley. The Red Trolley is a very short Trolley that takes you to the front of the park from the Tower of Terror. Anthony got on board with the two boys and Elijah started to ask questions to one of the conductors. Before Anthony knew what was happening, Elijah and the very very cute conductor were playing hide and go seek through the windows. Elijah was having a blast. The ride itself was a bit of the let down for him, since it was so short. Once off we walked back to the Tower and met up with Jayme and Joshua. Jayme wanted to go again. Anthony said it was unfair to Elijah, but then Elijah said he wanted to go on it too. He was just tall enough, so with some worried looked between the Dads we agreed and Joshua lead Jayme and Elijah back onto the ride.

This left Anthony with Gabe. Now Gabe so far has not been a very good rider of rides. On the merry go round he screamed his head off and every other ride he as a bit of a cry at some part of it. But that did not stop him from pointing and indicating that he wants to go on a ride. So Anthony wandered with the stroller until they got to Bugs land and Gabe started pointing at a simple safe ride. Anthony then parked stroller and the two of them waited to go on the little bug ride. The ride itself is very tame. You sit in a little booth with wide benches, you are lifted a few feet off the ground and you go around in a slow circle. It was of course scream city until Anthony pulled out his iPhone and gave it to Gabe. It was easy for Joshua and the boys to find Gabe and Anthony, they just followed the wails. Elijah LOVED Tower of Terror.

With the close of the evening and with our fast passes in hand we headed down as a group to Radiator Racers. We all headed up and got a child swap pass. This one works with one Dad staying with Gabriel and one taking the boys on the ride, then switching. Joshua headed in first with the boys and Gabriel and Anthony tried to find something to do. It was almost 45 mins later when the boys came back out and Anthony was able to head in with Elijah and Jayme. While in line Elijah and his ZERO stranger danger came out. He started talking to some kids. Per our normal with him Anthony asked if Elijah knew their names and when he said he didn’t Anthony followed up with how do you know they are safe? It was at this point the kids mother chimed in that her daughter can be very scary. Everyone laughed. For the rest of the wait in line the two boys chatted with the two other children. By the time we got to the ride loading area we had become a group of six and all rode together in the same car. After we got out we lost our new friends in the crowd.

DAY TWO

Disneyland

The problem with going to Disney World is that Disneyland is so little by comparison. Jayme, Anthony and Joshua had the “oh that is in Magic Kingdom” morning and Elijah and Gabe just had smiles from ear to ear.Sadly Splash Mt and the Railroad was down for refurbishment. But Elijah got the grand tour of everything else. We spent the whole morning hopping from attraction to attraction.

Gabe was getting better now at being on rides and we had much less yelling today. In fact, this marked the beginning of Gabe’s Roller Coaster mania. Ever since this trip, Gabe loves to watch YouTube videos of roller coasters. He throws his hands up and screams in joy.

 

The case of the missing bunny

It only took a few minutes of being in the hotel room before Elijah noticed Rabbit was missing. The cleaning staff had made all of the beds and on the pull out sofa arranged all of the boys stuffed animals in a nice row, well all of the stuff animals except Rabbit. Rabbit was one of the two main stuff animal friends that Elijah clings to, numero uno being Dog. But Rabbit is a very close second.

Anthony tucked all boys into bed and then climbed into bed with Joshua, who was already face down and near unconsciousness. It was then Jayme made his partial admission. “Dad, I think Rabbit might have been thrown away. I think Gabriel might have put him in the trash can before we left this morning”. Translation: “I threw Elijah’s stupid Rabbit away and I don’t want to get in trouble.”

Anthony remained in bed for a few moments and thought about how he might have felt as a child if one of his stuff animals was throw away. So while everyone slept, Anthony headed out the door in search of the maid. He found her down the hallway and he quickly explained the lost Rabbit tale. Now the next bit is a bit of translation issue for this writer, as most of it was in Spanglish. 3 maids and their two supervisors all checking to see if Rabbit was swept up into the dirty laundry. This was done by yelling down in the hallways in Spanglish and via radio. After which all of them were very certain that Rabbit was not with the bedding. So the search headed to the trash can option.  Anthony and one of the supervisors began to empty the maids full push cart trash bag into another empty trash bag in search of a white stuffed Rabbit. Then at the bottom, all wrapped up in a clear plastic trash bag liner was Elijah’s Rabbit.

Reeking of 10 rooms worth of garbage, Anthony returned to the hotel room with a safe, but smelly Rabbit. The only words mentioned were to Jayme who’s guilty head popped up as the room door opened. “YOU OWE ME.”

 

Fantasmic – The new stupid way

So in the past we have treated Jayme and ourselves to the Dessert Fantasmic Party. While not cheap, you get seats, drink service and a huge dessert box. Plus the huge bonus of not having to cue up for hours and sit on the concrete for the show. Well Disney has killed this service. In it’s place is a Meal Package plan. Eat and pay for a meal at a higher set rate and you get Fast passes for Fantasmic. We opted for the Blue Bayou. Readers of this Blog will know how this place has let us down many times in the past, the most notable being sat by the toilet all night and the fragrant orders that fell upon us. But this time the gods smiled upon us with river front seating and while nothing that we ate was memorable, the food was not bad. At the end of the meal, the waiter gave us 5 huge 1/2 inch foam seat cushions for the show that night and 5 fast passes. Thank goodness we had the stroller to haul them around.

Later that evening we arrived at the Blue Bayou Fantasmic check in area. Which can only be described as a every man for himself area. Elijah once again forgot his stranger danger and befriended an elderly couple. Combined our expanded group were the first into our reserved area and the 7 of us got front row on the ground seating. This was fine for our family, but our new friends had a very hard time with it. Disney dropped the ball on this one.

The show started and Gabe stood up and yelled ICKY!!!! ICKY!!! ICKY!!!! Gabriel is in love with Mickey Mouse, insane in love. Goes nuts when watching the Mickey Mouse Club, loves his Mickey dolls and seeing Mickey in person was just to much for him.

The show as always was great. Both Elijah and Gabriel loved it. The Dad’s didn’t like the new seating, hated not having drink service and had a longing for a return to the chairs.

 

DAY THREE – GABRIEL’S BIRTHDAY or How to spoil your 2 year old

The morning started with a short walk from our hotel to Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Mickey Mouse’s PCH Grill for a Character breakfast.

True to form, Gabriel saw Mickey ran towards him for a big hug, got a hug, then turned and ran in abject terror. Elijah and Jayme did much better. It was very cool to see our moody pre-teen Jayme forget to be moody for a bit and be a kid. He, out of all of them, spent the most time with the characters.

Breakfast was a slow buffet. All the Characters came over to our table more then once. At the end they sang happy birthday to Gabe and brought our a chocolate birthday cupcake with a candle (Video on Shutterfly). This was not a cheap meal, but so worth it. No one was frowning, no one was moody and Gabe got to see Mickey!

One negative we had was the photo person forgot to bring us our photos from the Mickey meet and greet. So when we asked for them they gave us double the photos to make up for their mistake.

shockAfter breakfast, we walked to Disneyland via Downtown Disney and the Grand California Hotel. Once in the park we redid some of the rides the boys loved the day before and hit a few we missed. We also took a swing up into Toontown for Gabriel and a visit to Mickey Mouse’s House.

Gabe got to interact with all of the weird things in Mickey’s house and after a short wait was face to face again with the Mouse himself. This time Gabe was able to keep his cool. After a big hug he just wanted to sit at his Mouse masters feet and worship him. Elijah was quick to ask Mickey how he got there from breakfast so fast. But Mickey was ready with an answer and flashed a shocka to Elijah to let him know he was the same Mickey from the Beach party themed breakfast. The moody pre-teen just wanted to go back to Star Tours and pretty much hated the whole event.

 

Your again?

As the day came to a close Anthony and Gabe headed to a good spot in front of the castle for fireworks. As they got to the middle area a voice rang out “Hello Again!” It was the mom from our first night who’s family we befriended and rode with on Radiator Springs Racers. She was sitting on a bench with her new infant son and she invited Anthony to join her. A few minutes later both of our families arrived and we had a large group of 11 people sprawled out waiting for fireworks. The kicker for this second chance meeting was their family is from the Portland area too!

After a 5 min firework show (yes they must be saving money for the 60th), Anthony, Elijah, Gabriel headed back to the hotel to sleep. But Jayme had struck up a new friendship with the oldest boy from our run into family and the two of them spent the next few hours on Space Mt and other rides talking Pokemon and Doctor who.

 

Trip home

This was pretty easy. We used the same shuttle service and they got us to Longbeach airport with 2 hours to spare. Now we had a chance to enjoy the new airport which is a huge improvement over our last visit where they stored us in a hot box.

The flight home was quick. Gabe was bit more fussy this time and he ended up sitting with Joshua and playing iPad with daddy.

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Christmas x3

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IMG_3997This year we made a pact to NOT spoil our kids. For the past few Christmas we have poured tons of presents on Jayme, even surpise trips to Disney World. Well this year we decided that there was no way we could keep that up. Yeah, spoiler alert we failed. Never let it be said we are not spoilers of children.

We started the Xmas season with at the annual Christmas Tree hunt. This year our friend was dressing up as Santa handing out stockings filled with presents. Jayme was well weird with Santa, Gabe screamed his head off (photos on shutterfly) and Elijah well he came with a plan. The week before he had written a letter to Santa and  as as we loaded up in the car to go to the tree hunt Anthony reminded him to bring it. So Elijah got to read his letter to Santa in person. It was a very charming moment.

Then after some pancakes and hot coco we headed out to find our tree to chop down. Honestly, we just wanted a simple tree. We found it and it looked fine in the tree farm. But our first warning sign should have been the fact it was so large it could not be put in the tree bailer. It clocked in at 8 feet 3 inches tall. Well of course we NOW needed new lights and bulbs…. $$$

See Christmas this year was like a slow trap, like being a frog in a pot of water, slowing the water temp rises and you never notice that it’s boiling around you. But for us it was not water it was money, each trip Anthony made to the store at least a hundred bucks was spent.

The next big holiday event was Jayme’s 4th grade Gingerbread home building day. On the last day of school, before Christmas break, Jayme’s class was planning to make Gingerbread houses and his teacher asked for all of the parents to help out and donate candy for their children to decorate the houses with. So we loaded up the van and headed over to the Lovely Suzanne memorial shopping experience AKA the Dollar Tree. There was no real budget we just grabbed anything that looked like it would be fun and colorful. It is amazing how heavy $50 bucks of candy can be. In fact we got so much that we had to give Jayme cardboard box to carry it all in as the bags were to heavy to carry and were ripping.

Apparently Jayme was quite the stud with his candy haul, very few parents had sent items in so Jayme’s candy saved the day. We got a huge thank you E-Mail from his teacher and an invite to come and help…. so Anthony did. Yes… Anthony was the sugar plum fairly handing out candy to all the good boys and girls (yes add your pun here). But Jayme was so happy that his Dad came to school and was there.

Christmas eve we decorated Christmas cookies for Santa and then all watched the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. A quick check in on Joshua’s iPad and the NORAD Santa tracker  showing Santa on his way was good motivation for the kids. Anthony read the night before christmas as a bedtime story and then tucked them all in, Jayme stayed in his room all night, but didn’t fall asleep for hours. Gabe passed right out. Elijah, dear Elijah spent most of the night planing a prison escape. Warren Joshua had to stand guard on him most of the night while Anthony moved the presents down to their

The next morning we locked the top baby gate shut to hold back the IMG_3991mongol horde and once all of Santa’s Elves had disappeared the boys ran down the stairs and with smiles found the tree surrounded by presents. They also found a nice note from Santa thanking them for the homemade cookies and milk.

Jayme has really had a hard time over the last few months, going from being an only child to one that has to share has been a big learning curve for him. As the boys looked for their names on all the presents Jayme found only 2 with his name on it. This set him off in a bit of a pout. Of course the dad’s knew that he got everything he wanted but for the next hour Jayme was sure HIS Christmas was ruined.

Anthony cooked up a big breakfast and after the last nibble was eaten and the begs to open presents could not be withstood any longer, we gathered around the tree.

Gifts, we had planed on just a few each. We think we know how we got off track. Anthony was buying presents and hiding them in the closet, Joshua was buying gifts and hiding them at work and we both had even more presents arriving via Amazon the week of Christmas. So it was not until Christmas morning we noticed that each boys pile was… well lets just say VERY generous.

IMG_4138Everyone got what they wanted and then some. Elijah was drowning in Thomas the Train, Gabriel got his own toy iPhone and other loud learning items, Jayme got tons of Pokemon and all of the remaining Diary of a Wimpy Kid books he has not read. Santa also brought some shared gifts…. Disney Infinity 2.0 which the boys have to share. But the big gifts were all surprises. For Jayme it was a guitar, not from Santa or his Dad’s but from Elijah. Elijah saw it and knew Jayme wanted it and begged Joshua to get it for Jayme. For Elijah his top present was his singing light up frozen dress (video on shutterfly)

The rest of the day was spent in toyland and eating tons of food. Anthony was a little insane when it came to the food this year. Seems with no day job there is nothing to withhold the cooking madness within him. Christmas cookies, Fudge, Divinity, Almond Roca, Fruit Cake and for the first time ever sugared plums. Christmas dinner was also a bit of an overreach. Turkey, Duck, Ham, Green bean casserole, Stuffing, Pan Roasted Veggies, Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes and Sweet rolls. He even over did Christmas breakfast. Hash brown casserole, bacon, cinnamon rolls and a yummy Frittata.

In the end we spent a lot but it was worth it. They boys had a nice first Christmas together and that was what was important.

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Road Trip

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Salt_Lake_Temple,_Utah_-_Sept_2004-2

Pre-Trip Planning

So once again it’s Turkey time and time to travel to Salt Lake City for the family feast. But this year we have 2 additions to our family, and those additions put a quick airline flight out of our financial reach. That said, in the end we should have just bought the tickets.

IMG_3817Since we own a Mormon assault vehicle, we decided to drive. We had done the drive years ago together without kids, so we knew we could do it. Only question was could the kids? In the weeks running up to the trip we cleaned the van, got the oil changed and figured out ways to keep baby and the kids quiet and happy on a 12 hour car ride. Joshua picked up a power adapter which allowed us to add our Wii to the backset with all of it’s Dream Cube games. We also loaded up the iPads with movies and picked up a few new kid DVD’s for the trip.

The Sunday before our trip, Joshua took the Van to our local tire shop. First to get chains (just in case) and to have them look at the low tire light that had just come on. Arriving on Sunday to a closed store he turned around and got back on the freeway and headed home. It was at this point, in the pouring rain, the front drivers side tire exploded. Not sure what hurt him more. Changing a tire in the rain or the near $900.000 cost for the full set of tires he had to buy. This was GOD telling us to stay home, but we did not listen.

Trip Day

We woke at 2:45am and with the car packed the night before all we had to do was load the kids. Starting in the back seat with Jayme we moved him down and made him a little bed and strapped him in. We then moved on to Elijah and last Gabriel with a warm bottle.

The plan was the boys would sleep until Boise, where we would have breakfast. But they didn’t want to sleep…. until dawn. Once the sun came up the boys when down. After a few stops we got to Boise, a bit later then we wanted but the upside was we found a great breakfast at the Cracker Barrel. Surprisingly this leg of the trip was easy, apart from the 12 hour drive. Gabriel was not too fussy and the boys had lots to do in the car.

We arrived in SLC and checked into our hotel. The Homewood Suites by Hilton in MidVale. We thought we had booked a 2 queen room and would be roughing it. So when we walked in and found it was a King with a private room for the dad’s, a full size fridge, microwave and dishwasher. Well we were super happy. Well everyone but Jayme who learned he had to share the sofa bed with Elijah. Elijah on the other hand was thrilled to share with his big brother.
We dropped the bags and headed back out to pick up some dinner, Wendy’s and Wienerschnitzel for Elijah (our hot dog lover), Joshua the took Elijah and Jayme swimming in the hotel pool. While Anthony worked on putting Gabriel down.

Turkey Day

Blissfully we slept in. With no where to be and no one expecting us until the afternoon. We had some well earned quiet time at the hotel. We had expected to head over to the family house first thing, but where told to stay away until 2:00pm (later we where told we should have not come until 5:00pm). So Shiloh (Joshua’s little brother) came over to the hotel with his two kids and we took all of the kids out to a park to play. The cousins all got to play and get to know each other while the 3 dads all talked about life and the latest family news.

After the park and with it being 2:00pm we headed over to the family home, this is when we found out we were not expected until much later. Grandma had told us to be there at 2pm was not there, she was at a friend’s house. So Shiloh and Anthony cleaned up the dog poop in the backyard and tried to keep the 5 children outside and away from the chefs.

It was a much smaller Thanksgiving then in the past. The adults all ate in one room and our family ate with the kids. The irony of course was the Dad’s were longing for adult conversation, but ended up at the kids table.

Dinner was good and ended quickly. The one big thing to note here was while everyone was leaving; cousin Rowan (only 1 day younger then Gabe) started throwing up in the car and had to come back in to be cleaned off. At the time everyone said it was because he drank too much milk…. BOY were they all wrong! But more on that later.

Childrens Day

We woke the next day and headed to Denny’s for breakfast with the family. Shiloh and his two kids, Grandma, Uncle James, Jayme, Elijah, Gabe, Anthony and Joshua all sat down to a so so breakfast.

Shilo had to go to work so Rowan headed out with Grandma to be dropped off at daycare and cousin Aspen joined our family for the day. We all piled in the van and headed to Discovery Gateway. It’s like a OMSI and Children’s Museum rolled into one, but smaller then both. When we arrived we were surprised to see Grandma with Rowan, he had started to cry at daycare so she decided to keep him with her for the day. Which was great for Gabriel as he had a playmate when Rowan was not busy exploring the area with Grandma. Jayme and Aspen had a ton of fun together. So much so it was hard for Elijah not to be monkey in the middle. The Dad’s spent lots of extra time with him to help him not feel so left out.

After we had seen and done it all we said goodbye to Rowan and Grandma and took the kids swimming at our hotel. They had a blast.

Dinner 

For our final night in Salt Lake City we where looking forward to a nice family dinner. Getting some good face time for our two new boys with the clan was something we really wanted for Elijah and Gabriel. Grandma suggested the Cheesecake Factory, as it would be fun for the kids and there would be something for everyone to eat. But when we found out they would not take reservations, there was concern that having the kids wait outside on a Friday night might not work out well. So a Italian restaurant near by was suggested, Joshua called and got reservations for the 12 of us.

When the six of us arrived the hostess escorted us to the table and we noticed that our party had bloomed. Which was great, but the Dad’s ended up having to share one place setting with Joshua seating on the corner edge of the table which was not so great. A large event was happening in the restaurant in a curtained off area. Loud dance music pulsed through the dining room, talking to the person next to you was hard. So in the end it didn’t matter where we were seated the family contact we had hoped for was just not going to be possible.  This really bummed us out. This family dinner felt more like 2 or 3 dinner parties forced to share a small loud table, it was awkward and upsetting.

The wait staff seemed to be in the weeds all night. Even with two waiters they failed to take the Dad’s drink orders, forgot to take the Dad’s food orders, which just helped our injured feelings over the lost of a nice family dinner to just boil over into plain anger at the waste of it all. The food didn’t help much either. None of the food we ordered was good and none of the kids wanted to eat it. We are also sure that Anthony was served the wrong dish entirely. In all we spent $100.00 plus tip on bad food and ZERO time with the people we drove hours and hours to see. When the kids finished, moving their food around on their plates, we said our goodbyes and headed to Taco Bell.

Later That Night

Remember Rowan throwing up the day before… welcome to our families weeklong nightmare. At 3am Elijah woke up scared and came into the Dad’s room and woke Anthony up. After putting him back down, Anthony was unable to fall back to sleep. Whenever he gets upset it is hard for him to turn off his brain.  Well two TV shows later at 5:00am he decided to take a warm bath to help him unwind and fall asleep before the long road trip ahead that day.

Laying naked in the warm water, his eyelids started to droop and the warm water started to lull him towards night nightland. When Joshua storms in with a SCREAMING Gabriel. A screaming Gabriel covered in vomit and mucus pouring off him like some sort of Sci-fi horror movie alien birth.

 

Ice…. did you say ice?

We didn’t leave Salt Lake City, we evacuated from it. Gabriel kept throwing up and screaming until well past 7:00am. It was a team effort to get him calm and slumbering on the Dad’s bed. Once he was calm everyone packed quickly and after a bland free breakfast in the hotel we packed the van and hit the road. We texted the local family telling them we were on the road, then floored it.

Again we waited until Boise to stop for lunch, this time it was Shari’s. Unlike the ride to SLC the ride home was loud. Gabriel was not happy and unable to keep anything down. So our normal trick of cookies was not possible, one of the Dad’s was either in the backseat with him or turned 360 in the front seat rubbing his feet or legs for the whole trip.

Prior to our trip we knew we would have to travel through the passes in Utah and Oregon. The weather in Utah was warm and nice, so nice the kids played outside. But the Passes in Oregon where cold and we started to get worried when the sunset and the first snowflakes started to fall.

Now Joshua grew up in Salt Lake City, is use to driving in snow and ice. Anthony grew up in Portland, were the sighting of 3 snowflakes close the city for at least a week. The kids just saw snow and got excited.

IMG_3904We made it through the first pass, the snow was just blowing across the roads more pretty then scary. But as we exited the next and arrived in Pendleton things got much worse. We pulled off the highway into the Arrowhead travel center. the snow was coming down now heavy and while the Dad’s did there best not to panic all Elijah wanted to do was build a snowman. While in the travel center we found out that the pass had just been closed. Panic set in… it took a few moments for us to find out that the road to Portland was still open but outbound was shut. Now while this was great news, the thought that 10 feet away would be a closed highway due to weather, was not a confidence booster.

The final pass was a high speed terror ride on a block of compacted snow. Joshua who was driving was a rock, but the smaller cars and trucks (not commercial) that should know better made a bad situation worse. Somehow with a screaming sick toddler and two children who just wanted us to pull over so they could play, somehow we made it out and down into the wet columbia gorge.

In all the snow in the passes added 4 hours to our drive. We arrived home near 11pm

PostScript

The following evening Jayme began to get sick. It started with vomiting then the diarrhea kicked in. It was so bad Jayme missed a full week of school. By the end of the week Anthony was sick as well and then Joshua. Only Elijah escaped unharmed. Someone said it might be because the three of us contracted the Norovirus last year in Disney World and our guts were still recovering making us more susceptible. Whatever the reason no one wants to drive to Salt Lake City again next year. We are currently looking into Thanksgiving cruises.

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The boy who lived

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hair

 

 

For the official record Anthony and Jayme where in Jayme’s room, door shut and playing Roller Coster Tycoon when they heard the bang followed by the screen for help from Joshua.

Elijah in his haste to get to his room had dashed past his baby brother. Startled Gabriel lost his balance and dived head first into the wall.

As Anthony exited Jayme’s room all he saw was his baby crying and two long streams pouring from his baby’s head. One a large amount of gruel, which is normal. The second was anything but normal, it was a scarlet stream of blood.

Anthony is very good in emergency situations. He quickly took both Dad and child into the bathroom and got a compress and cleaned them both up. After inspecting the wound Anthony started telling Joshua to get his shoes on and go to the hospital.

Now since we are officially for the record here, the bleeding had stopped (without a bandaid), Gabe was fine and no longer crying. But we both felt a Doctor should check him out as head wounds are not something we should home treat.

We called the boy’s caseworker and informed her what happened and that Joshua was going into the emergency room to have a Doctor check Gabe out.

Joshua took Gabe to Kaiser and after waiting for two ambulance cases to clear, was seen by the Doctor. The wound was as we guessed not life threatening and his vitals were all good. We had three options for the cut. Leave it alone and have a scar, to close it with a drop of glue (but with a child his age he might rub it open) or the scary option, also the option you don’t want to tell the caseworker… stitches.

With a call to the caseworker and the ok for stitches we gave the ok to the Doctor. He put 3 tiny and tight little dissolvable stitches in and one little band-aid. They had to wrap Gabe up and he was not to pleased about the process.

 

UPDATE – Gabe is ok and has no scar.

 

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Elijah’s 6th Birthday Party

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Our families 4th kid birthday party and perhaps our most successful. Elijah turning 6 was fun and dramatic.

It took us awhile to figure out what to do with him. With Jayme he wanted a swimming party for his 7th birthday party, but Elijah turns blue and gets too cold at the aqua center. Bowling is too “big kid” and the thought of kindergarteners on roller skates scared us a bit. Luckily, we knew Elijah liked to jump. At his former foster home they had a trampoline and here in Portland he loves going to the trampoline center in Tigard. So JJ Jump (a large room filled with inflatable jump rooms and slides.) seemed like a good fit for him… So we booked it.

Anthony once again made custom invites and Joshua once again took them to the print shop in his tower and paid for them. Our party package covered 15 kids so we sent a lot of invites out hoping to get a big party. In the weeks running up to his party Elijah made hand made invites (scribbles on white paper) as he wanted to hand out the invites. So once we had the real invites made he was over the moon.

This year Elijah’s birthday landed on a Saturday but we still wanted to surprise him in his classroom with cupcakes. So in the last school day before his birthday Anthony arrived in his classroom with Cupcakes, juice boxes and party hats. Elijah was grinning from ear to ear. His whole class sang to him. His class loved the cupcakes but the juice boxes and hats were the big hit. It was quite a sight to see 24 kids all lined up ALL with party hats on as they headed home.

On the big day we all headed over to JJ Jump. We took 2 cars as we were joined by our good friend Scott. It took several trips to bring in the cupcakes, juice boxes, goodie bags and presents. But once inside we were quickly joined by all of our guests; six kids from his school joined us, plus Jayden and Ava, Elijah’s caseworker and her daughter, our friend Scott and Suzanne. We had toddlers through 7th graders, all had a great time.

The party started with the kids getting a little over an hour in the jump room. It was a lot of fun for the kids and pretty entertaining for the adults. Biggest problem was getting photos as the kids ran from inflated thing to inflated thing. Our group was playing soccer, sliding, jumping, playing tag. Everyone did something different all of them were sweaty, red faced, tired and smiling at the end.

Our group gathered up and headed to our party space. Anthony had decorated the room and placed party hats and blow ticklers on the table. Ok this was the only mistake, never never never give a room filled with mostly kindergarteners blow ticklers, it was deafening.

Elijah blew out the candles on a little mini cake we got him and then the group all had cupcakes with ice cream cups. We then headed right into the present pile, which was HUGE. Elijah got paper for his projects he likes to make, toys, play dough sets and several cards filled with cash.

During presents we noticed that Elijah wasn’t all there. He had been doing some pretty big processing over the past few days. The night before at bedtime he had a meltdown because he thought when you turn 6 no one takes care of you anymore. Pretty sure a lot of past family memories and feelings have been haunting him for the past few days. During presents this was really present, it was almost too much for him. First a Dad helped him unwrap but then his friends and even Jayme helped.

With the presents open and food all eaten, Elijah handed out the goodie bags to all his friends. With hugs and thank you’s the party ended. We loaded the car and then waited down in the lobby for the last parent to pick up their child.

We all drove home and Scott came with us. Anthony and Scott had a meeting on the big dinner they are doing and Elijah and Jayme played together with all of the new toys.

That evening all of us headed to Sweet Tomato’s for a special family dinner. Its a healthily salad place and Elijah loves that he can make his own food. Dinner ended with Elijah making his own chocolate Sunday with chocolate sauce, sprinkles and Oreo crumbs.

 

 

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South Boarder… down Roseburg way

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Elijah hiding

It was Wednesday, May the 21st. The alarm started beeping at 6:00am, for today we meet our new sons.

First – we had to get everyone dressed. Something that in retrospect was SO EASY. We drove Jayme to school and dropped him off at 8:15 a.m. then we pointed our TARDIS (Dodge) south and headed down I-205.

Huge traffic issues in Oregon City set us behind schedule for the day, something that would happen over and over on each trip to Roseburg. From our house in Happy Valley, it takes a little over 3 1/2 hours to get to Roseburg. That is not counting Dutch Bros and Starbucks stops, of course.

We arrived in Roseburg with only a few minutes to spare and walked into the local DHS office. After finding the right floor, we met our boys caseworker and a new caseworker who was going to tag along for the meeting.

We all headed back out to our cars and drove across the street to a nice little park. It was a great day for it too, sunny and warm. After a few minutes, the boys therapist arrived and we had a nice talk with her. Then the boys arrived.

Saying boys is a bit of cliffhanger breaker. Because due to some conversations we had prior, there was the fear we would only be meeting Elijah. The foster parents car arrived and both of us kept our backs to it. Elijah came running towards us, very very hyper and very very nervous.

We spent a lot of time with him, taking turns talking to the adults. One of the things we did not do was spend time with Gabriel. All of the books we read said that for the first meeting the toddler should just see that we are safe and not to try and take over the parent role on the first meeting.

We had a pizza picnic and Anthony played Jayme’s video greeting. Then Elijah made several movies for Jayme. It was very very touching.

After lunch, Foster mom took Gabriel for his nap and we kept playing with Elijah. We moved over to a huge steam train that parked on a little peace of track for kids to play on.

We had a real hard time saying good bye to him, but finally at 3:30pm we had to get back on the road to Portland. Jayme’s day care charges $1 per minute you are late after 6:00pm.

Luckily we had a back up plan and our friend Lisa was able to pick up Jayme. She then proceeded to spoil him with Mini-Golf and ice cream.

3 1/2 hours later we arrived home and to a son with lots of questions and a stomach full of ice cream.

 

 

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Party of 5… your table is ready!

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5

WE JUST GOT THE CALL

OUR FAMILY IS NOW A PARTY OF FIVE!!!!!

 

 

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D-Day (or rather E&C Day)

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Here we go folks.

Today we will be presented to the adoption approval committee on two boys.

Meeting starts at 1:00pm and we have been told we might hear back something back as soon as 3:00pm today.

 

We will post as soon as we know anything.

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Do you have permission to make medical decisions for your son?

Adoption Path

 

So as we prep for our next adoption committee we decided that Jayme needed new medical Doctor. So Joshua called the healthcare provider to get a referral to a new Doctor. We need one that better meets Jayme’s needs and one that will meet the new kiddos as well.

After being on hold for 30 mins the call when like this:

Healthcare Vogon: Thank you sir, let me open that file. Hummm  what was your name?

Joshua: Joshua DeSoren.

Healthcare Vogon: I am sorry sir, you are not listed as being able to make medical decisions for your son. You will need to call DHS, they need to update their record.

One 30 min on hold call to Oregon DHS.

Local DHS Vogon: Thank you sir, Do you permission to make medical decisions for Jaymes?

Joshua: Jayme is 9 years old.

[DEAD SILENCE]

Local DHS Vogon: Phone Ahhh…. well Sir. We do not see you listed as his Guardian. In fact we do have any guardians listed.

Joshua: So your screen shows you have a 9 year old boy who was in state foster care.

Local DHS Vogon: Yes Sir. 

Joshua: Who listed in your records has having no foster placement

Local DHS Vogon: Yes Sir

Joshua: and no legal guardians?

Local DHS Vogon: Yes

 

 

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DEATH TO POPCORN!!!!

Adoption Path

So spring has arrived and with it the return to the waiting time that comes with adoption.

With a few warm sunny days we found ourself’s outside and working in the yard. We started in the backyard. We cut way the moss and made paths. Then came up with a battle plan for the backyard. Anthony tore out the rotting railway tie steps and Joshua worked on the fence and de-mossing the roof and cleaning the gutters.

But since this the Oregon, the sun departed and the spring rain started. We quickly found ourselves back inside with nothing to do. When we first moved into our new home the very first room we flipped was the laundry room. We scrapped off the popcorn ceiling, installed a ceiling vent and painted it a lovely blue color. We also painted Jayme’s room. But since then, we have not worked on many home projects other then installing new blinds. This was about to change…

First we planned just to do the dining room. But once Anthony had cleared and scraped the ceiling of the ugly mud it was clear we had to keep going into the living room. The cats hated this process. Every window was draped in plastic, the floors got a plastic drop the a paper drop on top of that. Worse they were banned from both rooms along with all of the furniture.

Jayme loved the ceiling removal process. He stripped himself down into his angry bird underwear, put on his heavy dust mask and got to run around the room spraying water in the house! Anthony did not love it nearly as much as Jayme did, but he was SO happy to get rid of the ugly popcorn!

Once the popcorn came down, we decided to fully flip the two rooms. We called a fireplace repairman out to look at our fireplace. We had been told that the prior owners had burned wood in a gas fireplace and ruined it. Well the truth was the fireplace is a wood fireplace with a gas lighter system. So other then needing a good cleaning and a few parts we were good to go.

With the fireplace ok, we decided to take down the ugly 80’s stone work and replace it with something a bit more modern.

The fight this time on paint colors was a rather short one. Normally it takes us months to agree on something (our sofa took months to find). But the color pallet came together pretty easily. We made a wall of paint samples and kept moving them around the room until we found something we all liked.

 

 

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Spring Break 2014

Anthony, Jayme, Joshua

Spring Break came early with the arrival of Uncle Sam. Jayme was out of school for a long spring break, thanks to budget issues with the school district. So Jayme got Thursday and Friday off as well as a full week off of school. Anthony had requested time off for the whole run, but was only able to get the Thursday & Friday. So when Sam said he wanted to come up in the last minute… the timing could not have been better.

The Sunday before Jayme’s school break, the three of us drove to the airport and picked up Sam. First stop was breakfast and we headed over to Biscuits for a welcome breakfast. Second stop was to home. We were not even in the door when Jayme started to spill his planned agenda for Sam. Jayme had worked out Sam’s whole day for him and was a bit crushed when the reality that Sam was not a new toy for him.

The weather for the first half of spring break could not have been better. Sunny and in the 70’s. This meant bike riding, Basketball, and a whole host of outdoor events came into play for spring break.But on the first full weekend the whole family leaped at the chance to get outside and work on the yard.

Last year we planted some blueberries and some raspberries and after seeing a full year of rain and sun. We now knew the best planting areas and worked but a yard plan over the winter.

But first, Joshua and Sam took to the roof and cleaned the gutters and swept the winters collection of pine needles off. Followed by Joshua dusting the whole roof with Moss-B-Gone, which looked like a dusting of early spring snow.

Anthony and Jayme worked on the lawn in the back yard. Or rather the lack of a lawn. They scrapped off the moss and raked up the pine needles, tree branches, sticks and leafs. Then Jayme started to dig up all of the rocks that remained in the new lawn area. We also spent some time measuring and laying out a tree house plan for Jayme.

Anthony removed the rotting wooden railroad tie staircase and planted some new ground cover. He then moved the Raspberries to a section along the back fence, an area that gets much more sunlight and will be right next to a planned walkway to the tree house. So, you know, free snack food for the kiddos.

Clearly all of us had done too much over the weekend. Both Anthony and Joshua were sore for most of the week. Each morning both Dad’s wake early, groan in pain and then leave the still sleeping Sam and Jayme and then trudge off to work. Jayme and Sam of course, both slept in for hours.

Once the weekend ended so did the nice weather. The temperature dropped into the high 50’s and low 60’s and a steady rain fell. This cooler weather was followed by a warm rain which set our yards plantings into hyper drive. Over night the blueberries went from planted sticks to sticks with little green flags.

So with the rain, Sam and Jayme stayed indoors, went to the movies and re-watched the Lego movie, baked cookies and worked on Anthony’s homework assignment. Jayme’s school sent no spring break homework home, so Anthony invented some. Worst of all and MUCH to the hate and loathing of Jayme, all the grownups thought this was a great idea. Anthony asked Jayme to find one chapter book, read it during the week and then write a book report. At first Jayme was very upset, but Sam used the homework as a type of structure for the day. So Jayme could watch TV or play video games but then he would have to read his book for an hour. In the end Sam had Jayme reading 3 chapters a day. By the end of the week Jayme had read the whole book himself.

Mid-week, Jayme was invited to a birthday party. Funny thing was it was to the same bowling alley that Jayme’s 9th birthday party was at. Also the invite came from a kid that was invited to Jayme’s party, yet did not attend. This fact was NOT lost on Jayme. But he did not hold a grudge. The night before the party we took him to Toys R Us and he picked out a very nice wooden box art pencil/pen/chalk set for the kid. This turned out to be a great present as the birthday child was really into making little paper projects.

Jayme ended his spring break with a trip to OMSI with Uncle Sam. He even got to go into the diesel engine submarine.

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Happy Times

Adoption, Adoption Path

Today we had a conference call with the Caseworker of of a new sibling group we are learning more about. It was such a great call!

The caseworker was very open with information and seemed happy & excited to talk with us. This is a very different experience then we just had where information was scarce and we never got that “good” “happy” vibe from any of the people we talked with. But today we have a really good feeling about this match and really feel we made the right choice last week.

The four of us (our Adoption worker, the Caseworker, Joshua & Anthony) all talked for a good 50 mins and covered a lot of ground. We can’t post anything about what was said, but  it looks like we are heading to committee again! Date and time to be determined, but the caseworker is putting in the paperwork this week.

Thankfully the house is still primed and ready. Anthony has started work on new hello books and Joshua is looking at Baby’s R Us advertisements again.

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The day we didn’t go to committee – By Anthony

Adoption, Anthony

grief

Our adoption worker said it… She used the word “Grief”. When she said it, it was in the middle of a conversation and it was one of those conversations were you nod at what the other person is saying but you are really really focused on what you are going to say next. So you hear them speaking but you don’t process it all at that moment. Then later you have one of those “Oh” moments.

In our last post we found out that the youngest kido’s Doctor made a surprise request to call off the committee meeting set for today. We held off making any decisions until we could learn more. But when the foster mother failed to join us in a prearranged conference call, with the Doctor and child therapist not communicating with us as well. Our avenues of getting better information became very closed. We had to make a very heart heavy decision and we decided to not go to committee until we got better information. We did not feel that in good faith we could say to the committee that we are the best choice for these kidos when so many vaild questions about them remained.

So today is the day where we should be very nervous and watching our phone for the call. Readying our letters to our employers HR departments letting them know the moment for FMLA is here and we are out of here. It should be a day were we have a party. A day were we get to tell Jayme that he has not only the brother he has longed for, but two brothers now. But today is not that day. Today is a day of grief.

I know some of you might be wondering why we are upset. It’s not like lost anything, heck the kids were never placed. But for weeks they were placed with us, at least in our minds.

  • We had to prep their rooms
  • Order and build new a bunk bed
  • Buy new bedding
  • Figure out schedules
  • Plan for time off and arrange things with work
  • Have talks with Jayme to prep him for the upcoming transition and the realities of having brothers
  • Think about meal planning
  • Toddler proof the whole house
  • Create lists of toys and items we would need
  • Budget for new clothing and sort Jayme’s hand me downs
  • Talk to friends and family about what was about to happen
  • Go on shopping trips

We woke up thinking about them, spent the day thinking about how we will meet their needs and each night together some conversation about them would creep in.

BUT

As one possible future is closed another possible future with two other boys has opened. Their caseworker seems very interested in us as a match.  These new boys would be a great match for us and us for them. They are super cute and the match is actually the best match we have seen. Call it Gods will/plan, predestination or even fate. This new match is looking to be the one that is a perfect fit.

The quote we used in our last blog keeps coming to mind. “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” 

We do not want that to be us. So today is a day for grief. But not tomorrow!

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When the Door closes…

Adoption, Adoption Path, Anthony

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“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

So with 3 business days until we go to committee we get a E-Mail from our Adoption worker. The youngest of the two brothers  we are trying to be matched with Doctor’s send a E-Mail to the children’s caseworker asking for the committee meeting to be delayed today. The Caseworker then E-Mailed our Adoption Worker and said the committee meeting was going ahead anyways. But the Doctor felt that the youngest child has an very high need an diagnosed medical issue and was requesting the delay so that the child could be tested and evaluated.

WHAT!?!?!  No where in any of the child’s medical paperwork (that we had been shown) or in any of the conversations we have with anyone was this discussed. Nor was even the remote possibility of this medical issue discussed or disclosed. If the Doctors theory holds true it, this becomes a HUGE game changer.

We know that raising any child, there are no promises or guarantees of perfect health. But to intentionally adopt a child with this level of high needs would not only impact  how we could parent the child, but also effect how effective parents we could be to his biological brother and our current son Jayme. Again is a huge game changer and reason for thoughtful pause.

We have had no training or done any prep work to parent a child with this medical condition. With only a few days until committee the amount we can learn and training we can take is little to none. But we are also aware the longer these boys are kept from their forever family the harder their lives will become. So it just beyond  heartbreaking.

So with only days to go, we have very few options.

1. Proceed forward like nothing has happened and accept the risk of adopting a child that might have VERY high needs. Needs we are not prepared for.

2. Join with the Doctor and clearly state we will not go forward to committee without the tests being done first. The danger with this option is the committee might still happen without us and we would be left behind come Monday afternoon.

3. Walk away now and focus on other kidos.  Which is very hard to do. Emotionally we have put up walls to protect us. But for the last few weeks those walls have been falling one by one as we have prepared the house for their arrival.

Our Course of Action?

We have a conference call set for tomorrow morning with the children s foster mom. After a long talk we have decided to move forward with the conference call and get as much information as we can.

 

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Prepping the House… again

Adoption Path

So with the adoption committee a week away now we spent the weekend getting the house ready. It’s not as fun as it sounds.

Since we are looking at 2 boys moving in, it meant that two bedrooms must be kitted out.

First we finished up the oldest child’s room. Jayme had a large collection of toys he wanted his new brother to have and we changed out all of the light sockets with new white ones with shiny white cover plates the capped them with toddler proof plug covers. Joshua added a motion light switch, like we have in Jayme’s room. Last weekend we installed a new bedroom ceiling fixture, a nice bright LCD bulb one. With the bunk bed we ordered finished and the new mattresses in place we made up the beds and Jayme decorated the room with toys.

For the toddlers room we needed to convert our dream computer room. So on Saturday we started the long process of moving our dream computer room to a new location.  Jayme’s computer was moved back into his room (after double checking the parental lock settings).  The other computer was moved downstairs into the formal sunken living room. We plan to add some gates and turn the sunken living room into a toddler play area/work from home location for Anthony and Joshua. We cleared off one of our IKEA billy bookcases and decided to add some doors to it. This will allow hidden storage for the sunken living room, keeping all our desk junk tucked away and out of the little ones hands.

Once the computer room was cleared we started to move in kid toys. Right now we are not sure where the toddler will sleep, our guess is we will want him to have two beds during the transition time. One in the dads room and then one in his own room. From all of the research we have done into toddler adoption the one thing they state over and over again is we may see younger behaviors come out. With Jayme at age 6 we saw that, so we might be dealing with infant behaviors and want to keep him close.

We headed to Ikea Saturday afternoon, to look at toddler beds, cribs and bookcase doors. We came home with the bookcase doors and a new dresser for the toddlers room. The Malm dressers that we had in all of our bedrooms were on close out clearance. So we grabbed one of the last ones so the toddlers dresser would match his brothers. We decided to hold off on the toddlers bed until after committee and after talking to the Foster family to get a better idea of where the little one is at.

Once the rooms were set up we then had to stage the house and do a photo shoot of each room for the hello book.  The hello book has tons of photos and introduces our family to the kidos and puts a face on our family for the committee. We even picked up a second book for the toddler. That one is all plastic and it’s soft and drool proof.

Sunday afternoon we had planned to be done and rest, but it wasn’t until after Jayme was in bed before Anthony put the final touches on the hello book and Joshua still had to stay up late  to finish the weeks laundry.

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And the Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down…

Adoption Path

ra

When it rains, it pours. History seems to be repeating itself. Two weeks out from going to committee on two kidos, our adoption worker E-Mails that different caseworker is interested in us for a different set of kidos.

This happened before when we went just a few weeks out from Jayme’ committee we had the chance to go to a second committee on another child. (SEE POST) Back then we said no and stuck with Jayme. That turned out to be the smartest decision we have ever made.  We can’t imagine now another child more perfect then Jayme for our family.

This time around  we are going to get additional information and review all our options but our family is still working towards a March 10th committee meeting.

 

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Everything is Awesome

Jayme

IMG_1566

The Big Day

Once again we tucked in our little boy… our 8 year old boy and woke up a 9 year old. This is not getting any easier. Our little guy is growing more and more everyday. Seems every day our little guy fades away and this preteen version of our little guy appears more and more.

The Dad’s woke Jayme up with birthday music. The night before Daddy Anthony had pick up a car full of balloons and a huge Happy birthday banner. When Jayme came down for breakfast he found that we had the breakfast table covered with presents and fully decorated for a birthday breakfast. Anthony made homemade blackberry pancakes with homemade blackberry syrup. Jayme was SO excited and gobbled up his breakfast and started his big birthday weekend.

At 12:30pm at school Joshua arrived with cupcakes and apple juice for Jayme’s whole class. Jayme was thrilled!

For his birthday dinner this year Jayme said he wanted to stay at home and have a house party. But he wanted to eat and he said California Pizza Kitchen. So Joshua ran over an got Jayme’s favorite pizza the BBQ Chicken pizza with pineapple on top. We all sat around our dining room table and had our take out feast.

Jayme decided to open most of his gifts this year on this birthday, but he pick out the two largest to open at his birthday party with this school mates the next day. He got a Perplexus, two Lord of the Rings Lego sets, Risk the board game and more Pokemon stuff.

At 8:00pm we got in the car and drove down the hill to Clackamas Town Center and bought our tickets for the 8:15pm Digital 3-D showing of LEGO the movie. We stopped off in the concession area and got Jayme a big Coke slurpy and a large popcorn. He LOVED the movie and had an amazing evening. All the way home (and for the rest of the weekend) he sang the Lego theme song over and over and over again.

Bowling Party

Joshua loaded his car with the remaining birthday presents and party favors. Then he made for the bowling alley. Anthony and Jayme headed to Baskin Robins in Anthony’s car to pick up the ice cream birthday cake!

Once everyone arrived at the bowling alley we set up our stuff and waited for our guests to arrive. Although we had invited half of Jayme’s classroom only one of his classmates had RSVPed. So we didn’t know what the turn out was going to be like. We where prepared for as many as 14 kido’s but prepped Jayme for the worst.

In the end only the one classmate made it. At first we were worried Jayme would see this as a huge negative thing and it would ruin the party for him, but both Dad’s kept their happy faces on and kept saying how much fun we could have now with a smaller party, because that meant more bowling time for every one.

The one kido who did show up was great and Jayme and him bowled for 2 hours. They both had a blast and in the end that is all that matters. We also had a large group of Jayme’s grown up supporters and friends who showed up. So the party didn’t feel empty at all, in fact we all want to go bowling again soon!

Best part of the part came right at the end, as the prepaid lanes switched off Daddy Anthony still had 2 pins standing and handed the ball over to Jayme for the official last bowl of the day. Jayme rolled and pick up the spare, it was simply amazing and a great way to end the party.

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Going to Committee

Adoption

Not that type of committee…

So it’s official, we are going to committee on a sibling group of 2 boys. Both are younger then Jayme and live in the Portland area. The date set for the committee is March 10th 2014.  If chosen we could have them home by late March to early April.

This will be our first time going to committee post Jayme and the third committee we have ever gone to. And this time around it’s not as scary. We both are feeling very confident, which we really hope is not pride before the fall.

We have started to get the house setup as the waiting period of 7 days will just not be enough time. We have ordered the beds and toddler proofed the house and stairs.

 For those of you unsure what going to committee means:

(Content below reposted from www.lanecountyheartgallery.org)

The committee consists of three members who are usually DHS caseworkers, retired caseworkers, or social workers experienced in the adoption field.  The committee meets for three hours, usually 9-Noon or 1-4 p.m.  Occasionally it lasts longer, but not often.

Committee starts with a presentation of the child by the Case Worker (CW.  Sometimes the child’s foster parent, therapist, court appointed special advocate (CASA), or attorney, is also present and invited to tell about the child as well.  The CW usually brings pictures, or the child’s Life Book, so the committee can view photos.  The goal is for the committee to have a thorough understanding of the child’s identity, personality, and special needs.  The committee members may have questions during this time about the child based on what they hear, read, or otherwise observe.

Once the child has been presented, any representatives for the child, except the CW, are dismissed and the AWs for the families each have a turn telling the committee about the family they represent.  Again, the committee members may have questions for the Adoption Worker (AW) based on what they hear or what they have read in the family’s home study.

The committee members then remark on or list the strengths they heard or read about each family and the concerns they have about each family.  Then they vote.  If the two junior members each vote for a different family, the chair must break the tie with a vote for one of those two families so that we leave committee with a decision.  We nearly always leave committee with a decision about who will adopt the child.

When committee ends, the families receive a call informing them whether or not they were selected by the committee.  The AW who represents each family takes notes throughout the committee, types them, and forwards them to the family, usually the next day.  If a family lives outside Oregon, then at this point our agency will step aside and the family’s AW will work directly with the child’s CW to proceed with the placement.

The CW comes to committee prepared with the child’s files, which are given or sent to the family’s AW.  There is a 7-day blackout period then to give the family an opportunity to review the files more thoroughly with physicians, psychologists, teachers, and whoever else can help the family be certain this is what it wants.  During this time, the CW and AW will work with the family to make a transition plan.

 

 

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Christmas 2013

Anthony, Jayme, Joshua

Home from our trip to Orlando and free from plague we settled down for a nice Christmas at home.

Joshua had the whole week off, in fact he had the rest of the year off. So Jayme was free from having to worry about any issues at all about with all day daycare. So the two of them had a second mini vacation  and quickly got to work decking the halls, hanging Anthony’s lighted garland and pick up the perfect Christmas tree. The on Christmas eve, we all worked together to hang the bulbs.

Christmas day

We had made it clear to Jayme that Disney World was his main present and not to expect Santa to bring the huge pile of toys he has had in the years before. But he was still excited and jumping for joy when he came downstairs and saw Santa had come. After a yummy breakfast we sat down in our new formal living room and began opening the presents.

We had been ordering smaller gifts since October and since many of Jayme’s wishlist items were fairly cheap we were able to get everything on his list. But don’t tell him that!

Pokemon was top of his list and he walked away with several pre-made decks and tons of little accessories. Next on his list was Lego and Santa brought several small kits. We also picked up 2 cool sets from the Lego store in Orlando the week before and managed to get them home a wrapped without Jayme seeing them. Jayme had a very decent pile of goodies by the time we had finished.

Joshua also made out like a bandit. Santa Anthony and Santa Jayme bought him a K-cup machine (which has seen non-stop usage since that day) and a Soda stream machine.

Anthony happily got his yearly stack of Doctor Who DVD’s and a few other British shows.

We spent the rest of Christmas hanging out building lego sets and eating. Jayme and Anthony made some Christmas fudge and then we had a small Christmas feast of Ham, Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce, hawaiian rolls and sparkling cider.

With the possibility of a future adoption placement in 2014, this was perhaps our last family Christmas together as a trio. Something that the three of us did not fail to feel and talk about. Jayme may have started the conversation about wanting a brother, but the Dad’s have made sure we keep the conversation going so he will know what adding a child to our home will really look like.

 

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DisneyWorld 2013

Vacation

sm

Saturday December 14th in the early crack of the morning – we woke the Jayme up. It was 4:00am in the morning and Anthony woke Jayme telling him he had just heard Santa on the roof and that saw elves in the front yard.

Jayme woke up and rushed downstairs threw open the front door and there was a Mickey Mouse bag. He opened the bag and found airline tickets for a trip to Disney World, with our flight in just 2 hours.

Jayme was over the moon. Ever since school started back up he has been begging us for a vacation “I didn’t get a summer vacation because I was at day care!” But little did he know that we had been planing a Christmas Disney trip since the middle of summer.

With all our bags packed the night before while Jayme slept we all dressed and headed to the airport. Due to the much cheaper airfare, we were flying Southwest airlines and skipping our normal Delta. Anthony ended up with an A59 ticket and Joshua and Jayme B1 & B2, so we had no problems getting a full row for the three of us. Our flight was via Kansas City Missouri, a very very weird airport. We felt trapped in the cramped gates. It made us all a bit grouchy. It was not the best way to start a vacation.

Our flight got in a bit late which caused us to make a rushed dash for our resort, we had dinner plans at our favorite spot, the Raglan Road. But we feared we would miss the reservation because of our late flight. After we checked in we stopped at the concierge desk  and they were able to push back our dining reservation allowing us to take our time and take the slow boat down to the restaurant.

We rushed in and were a bit worried that since we moved our reservation we would be eating by the bathroom, but instead they placed us right in front of the stage. Minutes after we ordered our food, the stage show began. It was an amazing show and the food was great as always. A weird moment came at the end of the evening when the check came and there was no tip line. Some weird policy when using the Disney dining plan, it would not let the waiter ask for a tip, so we found a way around that. We ordered a coffee and it’s bill had a tip line… we always tip our wait staff!

The next morning we headed over to EPCOT. This trip we had the new Magic Bands, it lets you pick your attraction fast-passes in advance. So we never were in a rush to get anywhere. Like our last visit in December, the weather was cooler then we had hoped for. But as the week progressed it got warmer and warmer.

But it was the next day, Monday, when the trip turned a bit GREEN. We had a wonderful day in the Magic Kingdom park, we got front row seats for the Main Street electrical parade and then headed over for a late night snack. Joshua ordered a large tray of fried unhealthy park food. Chili fries, brownie for Jayme and drinks for all of us. But it wasn’t until we were on the bus headed back to the resort when Anthony felt the first gurgle in his stomach. We all headed to bed but less then an hour later Anthony was in the bathroom, exploding from both ends with nastiness. Getting very little sleep, Anthony skipped the next morning in Animal Kingdom and Joshua and Jayme headed out for a fun day of rides and adventures.

But that evening was Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and after missing a whole day, Anthony forced himself to make it through the party, there was no way he was going to miss the party and ruin it for Jayme. We have never gone so slow in a park before. But Jayme had a wonderful time.

The next day Anthony was much improved and all three of us headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Learning our lesson from last time (and spending half a day with nothing to do in the park) we slept in and skipped rope drop and go the park mid morning. The park just does not have enough stuff to keep us entertained for a full long day.

We used our Fasspass plus for Toy Story Mania, and then had a nice lunch at the Brown Derby. Lunch was ok, the service was pretty bad. Seems Carthay Circle in Disneyland has spoiled us.

We used our Fasspass plus again for front row seating for Jayme’s favorite show Fantasmic. Not sure if the Fasspass was worth it. But Jayme loved the show and was thrilled to be so close to the action. We did get a bit wet from the spray, but a few minutes after the show we were all dry.

Stage two of our run in with what we thought was food poisoning came later that night, Jayme awoke and threw up all over his Riverside Disney matching bedding. Which was later followed by matching explosions from the other end. He had a very rough night.

We let Jayme sleep in very late and when he woke he said he felt all better. Jayme rebounds from illness very very fast, unlike Anthony who is a walking hypochondriac. So by early evening Jayme was up and his color was good again and he said he felt better. So we headed to EPCOT and to dinner at the Via Napoli Pizzaeria. Jayme ate quite a bit a of food, it was kinda of a weird meal. With every bite a dad would ask him if he was doing ok. But in the end he ate more food then the two of us.  But the food was good and the service was great. After dinner we watched the fireworks and called it a night not wanting to push Jayme or Anthony too hard.

Friday and our last day in the Disney parks, we headed over for a half day at the Magic Kingdom. We focused on the rides Jayme loves, took it slow and had a wonderful day sending videos and photos to family and friends from the attractions. We also spent a good chunk of the day playing sorcerers of the magic kingdom.

With the park closing early for Mickeys Very Merry Christmas party we waved goodbye to the Magic Kingdom and headed back to downtown Disney for dinner and to finished our vacation shopping.

Strike three happened at midnight, Joshua began to explode from both ends. We really felt bad for the maids… all week long our room was filled with some pretty gross stuff. What had started as possible food poisoning became confirmed for us as a visit from the travelers curse, the Norovirus.

The next morning we checked out of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, loaded the car and headed to the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios. Joshua who was at death’s door made a beeline for our new room and passed out for the day. Jayme and Anthony freshened up, got our express pass photos taken and took the resort boat down to Universal Studios.

Skipping the roller coasters that we knew Jayme wanted to experience with Joshua(because Anthony hates anything that goes upside down), we opted for the grand tour of both parks. This was Jayme’s first time to Universal Studios in Orlando. He was not a big fan of Universal in California, so he didn’t have very high hopes he would like the Orlando version. The one thing we did have this time around that we did not have in California was Unlimited Express passes. As Hard Rock Hotel resort guests we got unlimited Fasspasses to all of the attractions, this was a huge hit with Jayme.

We started on the Studio side and rode the Mummy ride 4 times, then headed to the Men in Black ride (which Jayme LOVED!) and rode it 6 times in a row. We rode the Simpsons ride and wandered down and did the weird ET ride. At this point Jayme wanted to see the Harry Potter area. He has been reading each night the Harry Potter books as a part of his weekly homework, so he had a high interest in seeing what the World of Harry Potter looked like.

We exited the Studios park and headed over to the Islands of Adventure. The weather that had started cool a week ago was now blazing hot. So after a week of touring the parks, being infected with Norovirus, the sun and the heat was really wearing the two of us down. So we had to stop for ice cream… right?

Once finished with our ice creams we entered the Islands of adventure. Whoville was all done up for Christmas,  but Jayme has now crossed the age line were Doctor Seuss is “cool”, “this is just for little kids!” So we made a beeline for Harry Potter. And just like our last visit in 2010,  the whole area was a mad house. Jayme was hot and tired and the line for the ride was over 200 mins, so we looked around the best we could and Anthony dragged Jayme to some air conditioning.

We ate lunch in the Jurassic Park main science building then a short walk from lunch Jayme found the water canon area in the kid play area. We spent a good 40 mins there as Jayme got drenched and refreshed.

It was then shortly after that we figured out we needed a nap. We headed over to the Marvel Island and rode the Spiderman 3-d ride, as we exited Anthony reached down and took off Jayme’s 3-D glasses, which he had perched on the top of this head. Jayme then commented “OH… I forgot I had glasses, that must be why the ride was so fuzzy.” Yep nap time! We returned the hotel and joined Joshua for a long nap.

After our nap all three of us headed back to the Studio park because at 6pm was the final big surprise for Jayme on the trip. A live performance by Mannheim Steamroller. One of Jayme’s favorite songs, one that he wants to hear year round is their version of Carol of the Bells. So we found a spot on the lawn in front of the stage and watched and hear a wonderful Christmas concert. Jayme was thrilled when they played his favorite song and he sang along with a HUGE smile on his face.

We then headed exited the park for the night and headed to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Jayme loved the music and the props. After dinner we headed back to our hotel and then Anthony took Jayme swimming in the amazing resort pool.

Sunday arrived and with it our final day in Orlando. With our fight at 6:00 pm and Joshua now mostly recovered the three of us had the whole day to play in the Universal Parks. We ordered a Continental breakfast for the three of us and at 8:00 am, a full hour before the park opened we used our hotel access to get in to the Harry Potter area.

The crowd level was tiny compared to the day before, our wait time for the main attraction was only 15 mins. Jayme LOVED IT! So with only a 30 min wait we rode it for a second time. For Jayme this was to be his only highlight of the day.

Since the day before we left all of the roller coaster rides for Jayme and Joshua to share together, our next stop was to the Hulk. The Hulk is a super fast super upside down roller coaster and Jayme LOVES those types of rides. As we approached the express pass line the staff person,  directed Jayme to the height check board. Jayme was too short and within moments Jayme was in tears. Now before we left Jayme had a doctors check up and based on his Doctor’s measurement Jayme WAS tall enough, but by Universals measuring rod Jayme was at least 2 inches to short. After the water works ended, Jayme remembered this fact. He became convinced that Universal had “stupid people” who “don’t even know how to measure correctly”. And we are pretty sure he is right because sadly, this under measurement proved to be true for every roller coaster that Jayme wanted to ride.

But his theory of poor measurement standards by Universal became stronger as the day went on because each measuring rod showed him at a different height. We worked very hard to try and turn his day around, but he was a mad and sad little kido for most of the day.

The flight home was uneventful. Jayme is a great flyer All in all, the trip was not the best one we have taken. But between the illness and incorrect measurement we did somehow manage to have a wonderful trip.

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Meeting Nancy Olseon

Adoption Path, Anthony

Meeting Nancy, by Anthony

Growing up, one of the TV shows I was allowed to watch was Little House on the Prairie.  It was one of those quasi-christian values OK shows that was approved of by my Grandmother. Today, I think I had some sort of Little House flashback moment. And No, it was not about teen dreamy Albert.

No this flashback happened shortly after a conference call with the Foster Mother of a kido we are seeing if we match with. The flashback was of when the Nancy Olsen character was added to the show.

For those of you not up on your Little House lore, it was season 8, Little Laura and Nellie were all grown up and friends. A new villain needed to be added to the cast line up. Going with what the producers knew they created a new Nellie type character.

hqdefaultThe plot; Harriet Oleson(the mean rich lady) was having a very hard time coming to terms with the loss of Nellie who was now all grown up and married to a nice Jewish boy who was in the restaurant business. So Harriet begins a search for the new Nellie, a child to fill the mean and spoiled hole in her family. She sets out to the local Minimum-Security Orphanarium and finds Nancy.

Now unlike other orphans portrayed on little house, who all had no issues (Not counting Albert or all those blind kids) and were all just perfect little kidos waiting for  nice white christian people to adopt them. But Nancy was anything but, looking back with an adoptive parent eye, it is clear Nancy was suffering a whole range of attachment issues, trama and neglect and had developed a whole range of negative skills to survive. This made her a very nasty little TV child. The show of COURSE blamed her for that behavior and then goes to show that all she needs is love and she just has to make the choice to be good and everything will be perfect. HA!

But back to the 80’s subplot, I remember clearly a point when Harriet Oleson finds Nancy, which happened after Nancy had displayed some rather horrible TV child behaviors. There is this sort of eureka moment when Harriet finds her new Nellie. Harriet had found her daughter, one who fits their families skill set.  It was a tender 80’s family values moment.

Today, we had our first phone interview with the foster mother of a kido we submitted on. The more she described this kido the more I thought of our  Jayme. I thought about all the struggles we had with Jayme when he first moved in. The similarities between the two; behavior wise, between this new kido and Jayme is pretty amazing. So much so just putting it in this blog is revealing too much about the child. The weird part was both Joshua and I kept saying… this is so Jayme 3 years ago.

Now unlike Harriet Oleson, either of us hold  warm feelings for all of the tantrums, explosions and struggling we went though with Jayme. From the moment we started the adoption process again our intent has been to get a child with lesser needs then Jayme had. But it was very hard to hear about this little guy’s struggles and know in my heart we can help him, we know this road, we know how to reach him.

There were of course some major differences in some ways there are some bigger concerns with this kido since he comes paired with a sibling group. We also have to think about how adding any child with higher needs into our home will effect Jayme’s amazing progress. So it a lot to think about.

It’s very early days and we are in the discovery phase now. But for a few moments today I felt like a bit like Harriet finding her Nancy. Now all I am missing  is a nice Jewish boy for Jayme to marry.

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