Uncle Sam and the 4th of July

sThe Fourth of July has always been a big event at our house. Even before Jayme moved in, we have always gotten excited about the 4th.We are not partiality patriotic, although both sides of our families come with a rich history of military service. But getting all of the family and friends we can over to our house for food and explosions has proven to be very important to us. Perhaps, more than the holiday itself.

This year Uncle Sam made a surprise trip back to Portland. Not sure if it was the 118 degree heat in Phoenix or what, but Sam decided the time was right for a weeklong visit.

Joshua took most of the week off to spend with his brother and Jayme. So on Monday morning,  Anthony headed to work and Joshua took Jayme to the airport for a special breakfast. Jayme was completely unaware that they were going to be picking up Uncle Sam.

In retrospect his might have been a bit mean, as we are sure Jayme was expecting a surprise trip somewhere. Our one clue to his was while he sat in the airport restaurant; Sam walked up behind him and said Hello. First words out Jayme’s mouth was … “Ok, but you’re supposed to be Anthony.”

Thankfully, it didn’t take Jayme long to get over any disappointment he might have had as he LOVES his Uncle Sam. A week of no day care, a week of Sam and fireworks…. his little life was too good to be true.

Anthony had to work each day but the three boys got to say home and play. They spent the week having special breakfasts, long bike rides, swimming, hiking Multnomah Falls and bowling. In fact they did so much stuff on the day before the 4th, Jayme asked if it would be ok to go to bed early and he did! Jayme had big week !

cakeOn the big day itself, Anthony awoke early and cooked up two big batches of salads. First, a big tub of Hawaiian mac salad and second a tub of his bacon potato salad. Later after breakfast, Jayme and Sam baked a special 4th of July cake together and Sam baked a loaf (pan?) of focaccia bread.

We spent most of the day inside avoiding the heat. Around 6pm, we cooked up the hamburgers and had our 4th of July feast out on the back patio. While we ate the neighbors started lighting off their illegal fireworks, they shot up way above the pine tree canopy and burst with a large bang. Images of our home and trees aflame danced though our new homeowner’s heads, but luckily, before Joshua could reach his phone, the neighbors stopped.

photo fireWe are super careful when it comes to fireworks. We spray down the street and all of our bushes, create a little launch area with flat stones, have the lawn hose on and ready and a bucket of water. We also have action plan for spent fireworks. We use a large plastic box which we pre-line with a large black trash bag. We fill the bag with water and as each firework is spent, it gets submerged in the water. At the end of the night we pop a hole in the bottom of the bag, drain the water and they throw the bag filled with dead fireworks away.

At 9:00pm as the sunset we headed out to our little launch area. We had expected to have a large gathering this year for fireworks. Last year all of the neighbor kids came over at our old house. In our new home we had thought this would also be the case. But as we headed out, each home in our cul-de-sac was dark, no one was home.

This year, Jayme got to light off the fireworks with Joshua. It took us about an hour to get through all of our fireworks. We ended with a HUGE monster of a firework, video of its launch is online with the photos.

Uncle Sam was with us for 2 more days, leaving on a Saturday afternoon. It was a wonderful holiday and great to spend time with him again. We are hoping he can come up for Xmas!

Starting Over…

Our adoption journey with Jayme felt like a long one. We started in 2008 with a pre-adoption class and ended with finalization in June of 2012.

We thought our journey was over. But for over a year now Jayme has been requesting a little brother. And both of us feel that our family could be larger, Jayme’s request has started to become our own request and desire.

We started by E-Mailing our former adoption clinician and asked when the next adoption foundation class was. The next class was in February YAY! But it was all booked up, BOO! They did place us on the wait list and let us know they would call if they had an opening. It was a bummer and a reminder that this new goal for a new family member could take years to achieve.

About a week later we got an E-Mail asking if we would sit again on the post adoptive Friday night panel which speaks to very class we wanted to get into. We have done the panel now 4 times. The offer was that if we said yes they would move us off the wait list to the yes list. We jumped at the chance.

We E-Mailed our friend Suzanne and she agreed to babysit for the weekend of the training. The classes ran Friday night 6pm-9pm, Saturday 9am-6pm and Sunday 9am-6pm. It was a kinda huge favor to ask, but she said yes and we were deeply grateful.

We had a week or two of waiting and this gave us some time to talk to Jayme about what the adoption process would look like from our point of view. We wanted him to know that a little brother would not be moving in tomorrow and we wanted him to know what having a little brother would be like.

Jayme and Anthony talked about all the things that they thought would be different. About how we would have to share, and in a complete surprise to him, Jayme would not get to make up the rules for his brother to follow. Jayme is a slow processor so we know we will be having this conversation many times over the next few days/months/years before anything happens. But the funniest thing was at the end of the talk, Jayme was not sure he wanted a brother. It was very very cute to see the 7 year old logic in action.

The big day came and both of us met Suzanne at our house. She came over and after promising not to let Jayme juggle knives, we said good-bye and headed downtown to start over.

The classroom was the same, the chairs where a little better then last time and at least they still have toys on the tables for Anthony to play with. We picked the table in the back and quickly got a lashing from the teacher who we have now known for several years.

The class started and both of us kept our mouths closed and tried not to be the know it all’s in the room. But that was something that proved to be very hard when we were called to the front of the room and the adoption panel began.

We were joined by one other family (not retaking the class). The panel is asked to describe their family and get into some pretty deep emotional stuff. The class asks their questions and the panel does the best they can do to answer. The whole panel is scheduled to run for an hour, but always goes long. For us this time it was beyond weird, almost like talking to ourselves and remembering all the “fun” stuff we have to look forward to. After the panel and for the rest of the night, we were both pretty introspective.

The next day bright and early we rose and made a beeline for Starbucks. Being the cool kids that we are, we arrived 4 minutes late and had to do the walk of shame to our table. Lunch was at our old training class hunt Quiznos. While we sat a bit bored Jayme was playing with Suzanne’s grand kids having a blast. In fact on Sunday he got to go to the Children’s Museum.. our son is so spoiled.

Our class finally ended on Sunday and with it our weekend. For better or worse we are back at the start. Next step is filling out paperwork, writing up a new home study and coming up with another large check.

The Great Squirt Bottle fight of 2013

It began as things always do. Joshua had just served us a wonderful dinner of spaghetti  and meatballs. Both dad’s finished first and Jayme was struggling with his food. Some of the meds he is on, cause him to have ZERO appetite, so mealtimes can sometimes be a struggle.

As Joshua started cleaning up and washing the dishes, Anthony started to work with Jayme to get him to finish his last few bites. At some point, Anthony scooped up the last bite of spaghetti and was trying to get Jayme to eat it.

Somehow the raised fork, laden with spaghetti fodder slowly changed in both Anthony and Jayme’s minds into a PERFECT spaghetti catapult… their target Joshua.

Before the first shot could even be fired, Joshua gave a stern warning “Don’t EVEN think about it! along with a very unveiled threat that he would turn the sink’s hose on them it we did.

Jayme quickly downed the last bite and the two of us headed upstairs to rethink the strategy. They quickly found two of the ironing squirt bottles, both filled with nice cold water. A quick adjustment to each, moving from the light mist setting to laser sharp and deadly spray setting.

Slowly they crept down the stairs, Jayme giggling the whole way. Clearly the battle stress was too much for him…

As they arrived on the battlefield aka the kitchen, they took aim at the white t-shirt backside of  the enemy, Daddy Joshua.

A apocalyptic spray of icy watery death begin to rain down on a somewhat unsuspecting target. The only noise to be heard over the deafening boom of our squirt bottles was “What the Hell?” and a short “Oh it’s on now”

As our target turned and began his counter attack, Jayme and Anthony retreated to their base camp at the top of the stairs. A volley of measuring cup catapults, filled with water bombarded our camp. Thankfully due to the high altitude (the top of the stairs) most of the shrapnel covered the walls and soaked the carpet below them.  As each volley ended, Jayme and Anthony would return fire and try to get Joshua before he ran back to reload.

It was then that Benedict Jayme became a turncoat and ran down the stairs yelling “I am on your team now Daddy Joshua.”

Fearing defeat, Anthony had only one chance of survival. A hidden super weapon, a weapon of last resort. A large glass of water with LOTS of ice, sitting next to the iMac in the computer room, where he was working before being called to dinner.

As the new team of Daddy Joshua and Jayme stormed the mushy carpeted staircase, Anthony quickly ran to the computer room and locked the door. The sound of water exploding on the locked door rang through the house.

Anthony quickly transferred the ice from his reclaimed drink into a empty glass, saving it for later. He then took position by the locked door.

Scratching could be heard as Daddy Joshua used the key to unlocked the door. Anthony quickly opened the door and gave both of his assailants a quick spray from his squirt bottle and the full cup of icy water. Jayme shrieking with laughter.

 

 

Fourth of July

Our fourth of July this year was a pretty quiet one. The biggest adventure was a long bike ride, just the three of us. We road all the way out to Gresham and had dinner at Red Robin. One of the best things we did this summer was getting bikes for all three of us and now that Jayme has his training wheels off, the sky is the limit for him.

After our afternoon nap, Jayme and Anthony made Ice Cream; Chocolate, vanilla, and Key Lime Pie. This process looks a lot like Jayme giving instructions and then watching TV while Anthony does the work. But if you ask Jayme –  HE made it all by himself.

Following our pattern from the year before, we setup our launching area in the street outside of our front door. Anthony set up the chairs while Joshua and Jayme opened all of the fireworks and arranged them by size. Joshua was  again our pyro-master of the evening.

Last year we had two of the neighbor kids come over and join us. This year we had 7 kids come over and watch the show. This was a great Forth of July and we can’t wait till next year to do it again!

ADOPTION DAY – JUNE 12th 2012

The big day was finally here. After over 3 years of waiting for Jayme to arrive and over a year waiting after he did; we still found ourselves not prepared for finalization.

First the cute suit we picked up for Jayme last year for Shiloh’s wedding was way too small for him. This became a bit of crisis as we headed back down to the Burlington Coat Factory, where Jayme’s first suit came from, but they had nothing. This became a theme as everywhere we looked we couldn’t find anything in Jayme’s size. Right now he is too small for boys’ suits but too big for the little boy suit sets. We spent the day in Clackamas Town Center looking and then had to go out again Monday. The solution? Why the softer side of Sears of course! We found him a nice black suit shirt and cute tie.

The night before the big day Joshua washed and ironed all of our shirts, then he steamed each suit. When Jayme woke all exited the next day he found a fresh suit and a special breakfast waiting.

After breakfast, each of us showered and dressed in our suits. The three of us looked AMAZING. Clearly, we clean up well! With our suit’s donned we climbed into the car and got ready for a long drive out to Hillsboro.

We have mentioned this before to friends, we all had signed off on the adoption emotionally a long time ago, Jayme especially. As the court day got closer and closer people would ask if we were excited or nervous and our answer would be “Not really.” which really got us some weird looks. When the day came only Anthony seemed to be worried, not about the adoption but that we would not have some sort of form ready. Anthony spent the night before pulling doc’s and creating a huge folder which he hid in the car. You know just in case the judge needed something.

Once we got the court house we walked through the medal detectors into a very small waiting room. We were the first’s to arrive but were quickly joined by Jayme’s caseworker and two close family friends Scott, Suzanne and our former adoption clinician who helped us find Jayme.

The court session itself was pretty quick. Jayme’s lawyer was still out on leave so a very nice substitute lawyer read a very nice letter from Jayme’s lawyer to the court. Jayme’s caseworker then spoke unscripted and said some nice things as well. Anthony spoke… Joshua did not as usual, and got a small ribbing from the Judge. He best moment of course was when Jayme spoke. “I LOVE MY DAD’S AND I CHOOSE THEM TO BE MY DAD’S!

We posed for photos with the Judge and then Jayme’s caseworker handed out cookies. Jayme clowned around and wanted to touch the gavel and talk in all the microphones. We in fact spent more time eating and playing with the judge then the official on the record session took.

The important thing is we left with the official paperwork stating Jayme was 100% ours and we 100% his. And that was a pretty great thing!

 P.S. photos up on Shutterfly if you want to see!

WE HATE T-BALL

Perhaps it’s because both of us are friends of Dorothy or the fact that we just that hate sports. It could also be the cold, getting dirty, getting wet or even the fear of messing up the new car with muddy T-ball equipment. Perhaps even some sort of past grade school sports mental trauma. The truth is that the core issue could be a multitude of different factors. But… The one thing we are sure of is we HATE T-Ball.

The idea itself started off as a great idea. In Jayme’s backpack one day, was a brightly colored sheet of paper announcing Junior baseball and T-Ball teams. Jayme’s teacher, caseworker and therapist all were very excited and supportive of the idea. Jayme was THRILLED with the idea. So we sent in our $50.00 registration fee and our personal T-Ball nightmare began…

At the first practice we arrived on time. It was cold and wet but that didn’t stop Jayme. The ground was soaked and there was a huge amount of duck poop all over the field. Both the dad’s tried to walk daintily (while still trying to look like butch sports Dads) around the mud and poop. But Jayme charged right in. To this day he continues to charge right in no matter what the weather or field conditions. After each practice he is practically covered head to toe in mud and other things. To make matters worse, for some reason every-time Jayme throws OR catches the ball, he just has to roll on the grass a few times.

Jayme’s team is a mixed team, Boys and Girls, with the girls outnumbering the boys 3-1. But everyone is about the same age and skill level… This is to say none at all. But at least they are all starting off on the same level playing field (covered equally with mud and poop). Jayme’s interaction and friend building with his teammates as been a slow one. But as the shyness of the other kids is dropping off, their competitiveness is growing. Jayme has been having a lot of good interactions (& teachable moments) with the other kids.

Neither of us are baseball jocks (shocking as this might be). But we do know how to do one thing, Shop! So there have been multiple shopping trips to outfit Jayme with the coolest T-Ball kit available. Anthony is now personally known at the two Big 5 sports store locations in our area. One small baseball glove, one pair of baseball shoes (one size too big), one tee-ball bat,  two pairs of pull up black 2/3 baseball pants, one pee-wee pair of underwear with foam cup (to ensure future Grandchildren), one golden belt (no magic lasso) and two baseball t-shirts for practice days.

The official shirt itself was a bit of a Dad controversy, but one Jayme handed well. You see Jayme had his heart on being #7. Jayme being Jayme had no problem making his desire known from day one at the first practice. But… On the day the coach handed out the shirts and hats, the numbering was not done by request, it was done on what shirt fit each child. Jayme loudly let everyone know he was going to be number #7. He was very quick to try and verbally dominate the handout process, but the#7 shirt was a medium and was handed out to a girl. To his credit, Jayme handed this set back incredibly well. Then the coach found a shirt that was in Jayme’s small size. As soon as Anthony saw the number from across the field, he started walking over to the crowd of kids hoping to stall the hand off. Not because of the size but because of the number. What would be the worst number to give to a child who feels the WHOLE world is his? A kid, who has to win each contest, who has to be first in line and the first kid to do anything. You guessed it…  Jayme was issued number 1. The ride home was filled with conversations about how that #1 was only a number and came with no special rights or privileges. Once again another great teachable moment.

Jayme actually does a great job hearing words and staying on task during practices. Still one of us Dad’s is always nearby to shout out a gentle reminder or two (or twelve). Most of the kids are very timid about running after the ball or throwing it, Jayme lives for each practice and has no issues diving for the ball or throwing the ball (although most of the time he rolls it on the ground like a bowling ball). He is also more then happy to play every team position at the same time, you know to “help” (more teachable moments).

Perhaps if Jayme was acting up more and we had to be more involved. Maybe if we could just watch it on TV in a sky suite with a butler and free snacks we would love it more. But with each practice we find ourselves bored to tears and standing on the sidelines watching the clock. We caught ourselves begging each other to take Jayme to practice, like children calling “1,2,3,4, NOT IT”. E-Mailing each other with exuberant exclamations on practice days when the rain starts and it looks like the practice might be called off. More than once, we have blamed each other under our breaths for signing off on this project.

As much as we hate T-Ball, Jayme loves T-Ball and we love to see him so happy and so engaged in a normal kid adventure. So for those reasons and those reasons alone we do our best,  for him, to pretend to love T-Ball too.

Year One

One year ago today (March 30th) we picked Jayme up from school and took him home for the first time.

Hardly seems like a year, feels more like a few weeks.

Looking back – Jayme is a completely different child (In many ways, so are we). Gone is his anxiety, gone is his extreme hypersensitivity and gone are all the clothes he came with.  He has literally exploded in size. In one year he has phycially grown more then 3 inches! Our Macy’s bill alone speaks volumes to his growth spurts. But more then that,  his body stance is completely changed and so has his demeanor. That’s not to say that Jayme is perfect… no child is. But he is not the same child we took home that day. The change is both measurable and dramatic.

We have shared so much this past year as a new family. We have traveled to Salt Lake, Hawaii, gone on a cruise, done a road trip to Disneyland, had beach trips, visited the park playground too many times to count and even flown across country to Disneyworld. If there was an award for most traveled child in the Oregon Adoption program – we are sure Jayme would be the 2011-12 winner.

We have graduated from day treatment to a real school and even had Jayme’s mental health intervention needs downgraded to a more “normal” level. We shared together the loss of new and old family members when Grandma and Grandpa passed away and shared in the excitement of new members to our family with Shiloh and Taylor’s wedding. First Easter, first summer break, first Christmas, first Thanksgiving and first Birthday’s together all come and gone. Each one an amazing memory.

Now new challenges are coming. Uncle Sam is moving out next month and returning to college and to marry Kelly (just kidding about the marriage part). We are also one week away from Jayme’s joining the local little league, practice starts next week! We are also almost across the finish line on the legal side. Last week we found out the date for our adoption finalization with the judge. Two more months and it’s all legal and forever binding.

On the Dad’s front we just legally changed our last names, we are now DeSoren’s. And so will Jayme, once we finalize. Just seemed the best thing to do for Jayme. No more weird looks when people hear three different last names.

Also, we are actively looking for a home to buy, one more suited to our growing family’s needs… oh did we mention that Jayme wants a brother…. and so do we!

 

The Harlem Globetrotters

After Jayme’s birthday party we headed home and everyone tried to take a nap. No one was very successful in their efforts.

Around 6pm we climbed in the car and drove down to the Rose Garden. Thanks to Joshua’s boss we have 3 front row seats in a private suite for that evening Harlem Globetrotters game. Seat’s which Anthony’s nephew would have killed for had it been a Blazers game.

We arrived and parked in what we though was a convenient parking lot. Then followed the crowds into the stadium. We ended up having to walk quite a ways around to get to the private elevator that takes you up to the suite level. Yes it was just as swanky as it sounds, even had a seated elevator operator to push the button for us.

We got up to our suite, which we shared with 7 other people. Suite had a huge bar and nice leather seats on a private balcony. It also had a huge flat screen TV and a private bathroom.  While Anthony and Joshua stood amazed, Jayme took it all as given. Jayme’s first basketball game will now have ruined him for all future seating expectations.

After we took our seats and Jayme found the in-seat binoculars, our private waiter came over and took our food and drink orders. Did we mention how spoiled Jayme is going to be, not to mention us?

The game itself was ok. It was pretty fun for Jayme, who was rooting for the Globetrotters to lose until we explained that we wanted the Globetrotters to win.

Jayme’s favorite part was when one of the Trotters jumped up and sat on the hoop. Jayme keep asking over and over through the night “How did the guy get on the hoop? Your not suppose to do that, he is going to get in trouble!”.

Birthday Splash

The morning started with a bang – Jayme was VERY VERY excited  about his birthday party. For the past few weeks we had been sending out invites and working with Jayme’s teacher to try and entice some of Jayme’s classmates to attend. Being in a classroom filled with other kids with similar needs, we didn’t know if the other parents would feel comfortable with an outing at the aquatic park. We ended up with 4 kids at the party, which worked out great. We also had the chance to talk to some of the parents in Jayme’s class which was great.

Jayme chose the aquatic center months ago for his birthday party when he learned of the party rooms while taking his swimming lessons. Ever since then he has been planning a huge party, even pulled Anthony into his plotting and planning and hoping.

Once everyone was dressed and ready, Anthony headed out alone before the party and picked up the ballons and cake. Joshua and Sam followed behind with Jayme in the second car. The party room was large, far larger then we ended up needing. But we had invited over 10, so better to be prepared then not. Anthony decorated the room with 3 huge bunches of blue and aqua ballons and even laid out blue table cloths. With matching blue and aqua plates and cups and the huge glass window overlooking the wave pool, we had our little underwater splash party ready to go. The cake that Jayme helped pick out a few days before even match the room  one in blue and clear watery frosting perfectly.

Once all the kids arrived the center provided 2 large pizza’s and the kids dug in. Everyone was on their best behavior and for a room full of kids with needs, we didn’t have a single issue. Joshua and Jayme had loaded up Jayme’s  iPod before they came so all the kids could rocked out. Once everyone as finished eating we even had a short little dance party.

After all the kids had been feed and watered, danced and Jayme opened up his birthday presents. The kids all sat down on the floor and very politely watched Jayme unwrap is gifts. All Lego’s and Star Wars…. all just about perfect for Jayme.

But once all the food cake and presents were put away it was swim time. One of the kids Dad’s had stepped out for a bit, so we called him and got his ok for his son to swim without him. Joshua a former lifeguard assigned himself to the boy and watched over him. None of the other kids from Jayme’s class had any real swim experience. So we located life vests for each of them. That’s not to say they were not brave. One little girl who came for the party ditched the group and ran all the way to the top of the huge water slide, cutting in front of all the other waiting bigger kids, her dad chased after her but she made it to the tube before anyone could stop her. 100% fearless she was, and about 5 inches too small… but that didn’t stop her!

All the kids had a great time in the water and good time was had by all. Not only was it fun for the kids, but the Dads had a great time too! The only issue we have is how are we going to top next years birthday? Ponies? Spaceships? Ideas?

 

Jayme is jumping rope for the American Heart Association!

Hi Everyone!

Jayme is raising money for the American Heart Association, and that means we (the Dad’s) get the fun task of bugging  all of you, our freinds and family for money, Hurray!!

So far Jayme has raised $65.00 via Anthony’s work mates and online donations, but his goal is $125.00. Last day to help is Friday the 9th!

If you would like to support Jayme and us in reaching his goal, please click the link below.

On behalf of a very excited 6 year old, THANK YOU!

 

Click here to visit Jayme’s personal page.
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
http://honor.americanheart.org/site/TR?px=3125369&pg=personal&fr_id=1686&et=tTrnmM29EoCcUN3LLAHwLw&s_tafId=119352

 

UPDATE

Jayme was in the top 3 fundraisers of his whole school. Thanks again to everyone who helped out!

 

Dealing with Finalization

Right now we are in the final stages of Jayme’s adoption. With the State adoption assistance done promptly (note the heavy use of sarcasm), we are hoping to cross the finish line by March… But we are not holding our breath.

The big hold up was thanks to Oregon State adoption assistance taking forever to get back to us. Our caseworker described it as sending paperwork into a blackhole, one that no one knows what is inside. We happen to firmly agree with that idea.

The junior Mr Popplewick is not permitted to expect ANYONE!

Anthony called about once or twice a week for 3 months leaving polite messages and asking for a call back. But as we got closer and closer to the end of the year, he called daily, leaving some not so nice messages before giving up and calling around looking for someone to complain to. He found  junior assistant undersecretary, who promised a call back the next day, which really came 2 days later. The whole phone conversation (which covered negotiating continued support for Jayme) took 7 minutes. Four months of waiting, 7 minutes on the phone, part of the conversation also covered the fact they had parts of Jayme’s info wrong. The whole process reminded Anthony of an old Doctor Who episode where the Doctor is lost in repeating loop of very important and very pointless bureaucracy.

But we now have a signed contract with the State that covers the money side of the adoption. So we are just waiting on Salem to send our attorney all of the boring paperwork. A process that our attorney as told us could take months, but most likely should be back by Mid-March.

We also have started the process to legally change our names to DeSoren. Since that is the last name that Jayme will have once we finalize. We feel a common last name will help us over come a lot of potential future issues as Jayme grows up and as we work our way through the school and medical systems. We have already had to explain several times why we all have different names: The funny thing is no one has even commented on the 2 dad issue. But the different last names always raises eyebrows.

We also have completed mediation with Jayme’s birth family. We chose not to meet directly with them but rather to have a mediator do the face to face interactions. Neither of us felt we could handle meeting the birth family.

So much like it was as when we started this process, it is all about the hurry up and wait.

 

 

 

Christmas 2011

Our first Christmas with Jayme was great! It was also our first time hosting family at our house for Christmas as Joshua’s Mom and Dad came up for Christmas.

Jayme and Anthony decorated every inch of our house. It all started with a huge Christmas tree that Joshua put up, then came the hand made snow flakes to adorn our walls. Then pine boughs and xmas lights twinkled all around the house. Jayme and Joshua setup all of the outdoor lights and even picked up gel snowflakes for Jayme’s bedroom window. By December 25th it looked like Christmas had thrown up all over our house. The only thing missing was mistletoe by the front door.

Anthony again, cooked up a HUGE batch of his yummy fruit cake, along with 4 batches of cookies and fudge. Jayme had a great time helping and licking all of the fudge covered spoons and bowls.

Christmas Eve came and Jayme put out milk and cookies for Santa and with much difficulty was able to fall asleep. Around 10:00pm Santa’s elves came out and started their work. First they carried down all of the Christmas gifts hidden for weeks in their closet. Then they built out a huge railroad layout that ran in and around the Christmas tree and presents. On it, they placed Jayme’s new remote control train.

Christmas morning was spent with Jayme playing with his new train and waiting for Grandma, Grandpa and Julian (exchange student) to arrive. While they waited, Anthony cooked a huge breakfast/brunch spread. German Pancakes, hash-brown casserole, bacon, turkey sausages and several types of pastries. Joshua broke out the Kona coffee from our Hawaii trip and we soon had a very festive brunch ready for our guests.

Once everyone had settled, the feasting began followed with the opening of the presents. Christmas should have just been renamed “National Spoil Jayme Day”, because for every 1 gift opened by an adult, Jayme opened about 3. It was pretty crazy. But Jayme loved getting presents and relished the whole day. Coming from having nothing, things are pretty important to him. The best gift of the day was his own sonic screwdriver! (its a Dr. Who thing)

After a small nap, Anthony started work on a huge Christmas dinner, which was a huge success. Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, Rolls, Green beans… the works. It was so nice to have a full house for Christmas day.

Julian became our new housemate and bunked up with Jayme for 4 nights while Grandma and Grandpa got some alone time in a nearby hotel. Julian mostly stayed up all night raiding our fridge and playing PS3; but for Jayme, it was like having an older brother, he positively ate it up.

Boxing Day saw Kristian, Anthony’s nephew, move in for a week as well. Our little condo was getting pretty full as the total now reached 8 people. But again, we loved it!

Next year we are hoping to REALLY fill the house.

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house…

With the Thanksgiving season upon us we began our annual trek to Arizona. But this time we took a slight detour.

Jayme was SO pumped to go to Grandma’s house. Weeks before the trip he packed his bags will all the toys he wanted to take with him. Everyday we would ask “how many more days?” So when the big day came he was super ready to go. Funny to think that when he first moved in everyone was worried about him on airplanes, now he is a seasoned world traveler!

While planning the trip we found the flights into Phoenix were through the roof. Anthony quickly started looking for ways to make the trip cheaper. He found a flight into LAX and a one way car rental that turned out to be cheaper then flying directly into PHX by several hundred bucks!

So Monday evening of Thanksgiving week we flew out to LAX, collected our rental car a HUGE Ford Crown Victoria (think giant old persons car) and then drove over to our hotel. We told jayme that we would be spending the night and then driving onto Grandmothers house. The truth…. well we would be going to Disneyland.

Once we go to the hotel (which we drove to via the back way to avoid any big DISNEY signs) we quickly got Jayme to our room. The next morning we ate in the room, to avoid any families heading out to the parks. We then told Jayme that we should go for a walk before we headed to Grandmom’s, since it would be a long car ride. So we started walking down harbor blvd.

As we walked Joshua played a game with Jayme, to see who could avoid stepping on the most cracks. this worked great, it wasn’t until we turned and stepped on to Disney property that Jayme noticed something was not right. His first clue was a huge Monorail that zoomed by. He got very quiet and looked a bit perplexed and said in a timid voice “I think this is Disneyland.” We then told him that he was right and we would be spending the whole day at the park. He remained very quiet and didn’t get very excited.

We took him in and got fast passes for Star tours, road the Jungle boat ride, and even did the Haunted mansion. Still he was very calm and quiet. Then came Splash Mountain (the ride Anthony will not get on). As Joshua and Jayme exited the ride all wet, there was a smile that ran from ear to ear. For the rest of the day he was super excited and all smiles. Jayme had finally arrived at Disneyland!

That evening in the park we had one last surprise for jayme, we splurged for the dessert party Fantasmic package. The package comes with reserved seats and a HUGE box of cakes and munchies. We ended up with front row seats and it even gave Jayme enough room to be able to stand up and dance to the music during the show. That proved to be worth the cost in itself.

The next day we loaded up our land yacht and headed out for Arizona. The drive itself took us a little over 6 hours. We stopped along the way for breakfast and munched on the leftovers from our 3 huge fantasmic dessert trays.

We had a wonderful time at Grandmas for Thanksgiving, apart from Anthony getting sick. Grandpa made BBQ ribs and Jayme was in heaven. It was a full house full of relatives and returning exchange students.

The flight home was quick and easy but getting from the airport to home was a bit harder. Sam, who had dropped us off in our old car got into a car accident after dropping us all off. So Joshua found us a shuttle which drove us out to Gresham and then home to Happy Valley.

Naked Darth Vader

Halloween time was a blast for our family. For months now Jayme has been asking to be Darth Vader for Halloween. So the dad’s looked online and found the Deluxe Darth vader costume. It came with cap, belt, jumpsuit, gloves and half mask. We also sprung for a light up Darth Vader lightsaber.

A few days before the big day Anthony and Jayme headed out for  the traditional pumpkin shopping. We headed to Freddies and Jayme picked out a HUGE one for himself and 4 other medium sized pumpkins. We came home with our haul and placed them outside , to await their horrific debowling the next day.

That night while Jayme was in bed and Anthony was in his room… a jail break took place.  A group of teenagers drove down into our condo and started stealing all of the uncarved pumpkins from everyones doorways. If it wasn’t for Joshua’s stomach all would have been lost. Joshua got up and headed to the front door, where the halloween candy was stored and he heard some noises from our front porch. He opened the door only to see a group of teenagers STEALING OUR PUMPKINS!!!!

Several crazy man screams and many many expletives later, the teenagers were in full flight. But the largest of our pumpkins was gone, Jayme’s pumpkin. So to make up for it the next day Anthony and Jayme headed out again and picked up a few more pumpkins and all the fixings for carmel apples.

When Halloween day arrived, our family treated Jayme’s class to a mini Halloween party. Right before school got out we delivered cupcakes and apple juice. The whole class got a mini sugar feast and even had a mini dance party.

For the big night Jayme donned his black Sith Lord robes and we headed out to trick or treat around our neighborhood. It proved to be a bit of a bust. Our house again was the best stop, as we had full size candy bars from Costco. Everywhere else was pretty meager. So we jumped in the car and headed over to the richer side of Happy Valley, where the plundering was greatly improved.

Jayme had a wonderful holiday and was way more into the dressing up then the candy. No greater proof of this was the knock on our bedroom door the next morning. Jayme in his Darth Vader mask…. and nothing else.

6 months with Jayme

6 months with Jayme

Friday was is a BIG day for our family, we have reached the 1/2 year mark, Six months of being a family!

It’s just so amazing to see how much he has changed over the past 6 months. He is simply not the same kid. We took him shopping for some back to school clothing and found his shoe size had jumped (within 3 months) from size 10 to a size 12 1/2. When he moved in we marked him on the wall….. as of today 2 1/2 inches in 6 months! It’s almost shocking to see this “stranger” running round the house, he is simply not the kid we studied for, read about or even drove home.

But beyond the 262,800 minutes of pure joy we have had with Jayme. Six months is an important mark in our adoption process. It is now at this point we can start moving towards finalizing our adoption. We started the ground work for this a few weeks back. Jayme had a CANs review done by the state which came back with a much lower needs score then everyone on his team felt was appropriate. So we had to file for review hearing. Luckily, we were able to advocate directly with the state appointed reviewer and were able to get him connected with Jayme’s therapist (something the first person had failed to do). After he did his do diligence he came back with a higher score. We still don’t think the CAN’s accurately reflexes Jayme, but it does score him at the correct level of support. So we considered that a victory and signed off on the new score.

Once the CAN’s score was agreed upon we were able to start filing out our adoption assistance request paper work. Both our adoption clinition and Jayme’s caseworker helped us with this. Because we are a special needs adoption, the State of Oregon will cover all of the finalization costs and will provide negotiated supports after finalization. So now we are at the “negotiation” part of that. The form was not too hard, for a government NCR 5 page document. We are now waiting to hear back from the State with their offer. Once everyone is in agreement we will be able to contact a vendor attorney to file all our documents for us with the courts. Jayme’s caseworker has told us that we have a court date set for the end of November, so now we just have to get all the DHS paperwork in place before that date. Everyone on the team feels very confidant we will make it. So looks like for super Christmas present we get to become 100% legal.

To celebrate the 6 month mark the Dads did two things. First – we bought Jayme a bike. Since day one, Jayme has wanted to go outside and play with the kids who live in our little neighborhood. The problem is the only ones that play outside are all 10 and up (mostly pre-teens and young teenagers). So it just has not be something we felt was a good thing. Well last week when Jayme and Anthony came home and walked to get the mail, riding around on his bike was a 6 year old with his 4 year old sister. They saw us and followed us home, as we got inside THEY rang the doorbell and asked if Jayme could come out and play. Seems they had no one their age to play with either. So Anthony let Jayme head out, and was PANICKED, the whole time. Only parent on the block who stands outside and watches the kids play BTW. The kids were happy to share a bike and a scooter with Jayme, but one could see this needed to be corrected quickly. So one quick call to Dad Joshua, who picked one up on this way home and then built it while Anthony and Jayme slept after both falling asleep watching Dr Who Friday night. Right before breakfast Saturday morning Jayme got his bike… utter joy. Even though it was a cold morning, he headed out for about 30 mins of trying to bike up and down the sidewalks, thank God for training wheels!

The second big thing we did was go out for a nice dinner. Per the usual we could not come up with anywhere nice to eat that we all agreed on. So we settled for Claim Jumpers at the mall. Anthony ordered the Chicken pie, Jayme ordered Mac & Cheese and Joshua ordered the BBQ Beef Ribs with a sweet potato. Everyone’s food arrived and we all tucked in. Before we ordered Joshua tried to get Jayme to branch out and try something new, mainly the kids platter of ribs. Jayme refused and and Joshua did not push as it was a celebration meal. Well as soon as the food came, Jayme saw the dads tasting and sharing, so he asked to try Anthony’s pot pie… yummy. Then he asked to try some of Joshua’s BBQ ribs, it was at that point Joshua’s dinner plans were readjusted and Joshua’s new dinner became just a sweet potato. Turns out Jayme LOVES BBQ, out of the 4 ribs served to Joshua, Jayme ate 3 (Photos on shutterfly). It was the funniest thing and everyone at the table was laughing as Jayme tried to chew/suck every last bite of meat off those ribs, he had a insane look in his eyes. But a happy one.

After dinner we came home and loaded up the Dr. Who season finale. We all curled up on the sofa with the cats and watched. At the end, Jayme announced he wanted to watch the next one. Anthony had to informed him the next new one would not be until Christmas…. about a month after finalization.

First Day of “BIG BOY” School

7:30am a loud thud and a crash is heard by Anthony and Joshua who are in the kitchen working on breakfast. The thud is then followed by the sound of a large cattle drive pounding down the stairs, Jayme was up and ready for big boy school.

After a very hyper 15 mins of using the restroom and putting on some clothes, Jayme sat down for a special french toast “first school day” breakfast. While Jayme ate, Joshua filled out the name card for Jayme’s brand new pink school backpack.

Once breakfast was over we headed upstairs and finished getting dressed and took a moment to measure Jayme on the wall. Since the day he has moved in with us he has grown OVER and inch and a half (not including his faux hawk). We then headed downstairs and did a little photo session. When Jayme left his treatment school, they presented him with a book showing him from day one to his last day, we want to do something similar for his big boy school days (PS photos on shutter fly email for an invite).

Joshua headed for work and Anthony and Jayme sat down and watched half an episode of Doctor Who. Since we have not yet heard from the school bus system on when and where his pick up will be, Anthony will be dropping off and picking up for a bit. At 8:05am a very excited and hyper boy left the house left the house with a nervous and emotional dad.

Arriving at Jayme’s new school we found the parking lot to be a madhouse, every spot was filled and some cars even double parked blocking other cars in. So we drove down the road a bit and parked on a side street and walked in. Seems a lot of other parents had the same idea, the sidewalks were full as walked in.

Once we arrived at the school’s front door we started the hunt for the correct classroom. Joshua and Jayme did the open house the week prior, but with the hallways full of rushing students and parents, Jayme had no clue were to go. We must have looks pathetic or utter lost as we were almost instantly met by a teacher with a huge dog on a lead. He asked if he could help and then guided us to the correct classroom. He had Jayme take the dogs lead and really the dog walked us to the correct room.

Jayme recognized his classroom right away and zipped right in. His new teacher met him and helped him over to his new cubby. She had a big envelope of paperwork to review for Anthony. Jayme was smiling from ear to ear, so after a big hug and kiss from Dad, Anthony headed out. The last look over his shoulder was of Jayme shaking hands with one of his new classmates.

So dad Anthony was off to work, he too had a new schedule, now working almost full time again. So big change for both of them.

Pick up was easy, Anthony met Jayme in the hallway and the two of them hung around to talk to teacher to check in and see how the day was. Jayme had a good day. But once we got home that day started to spiral out of control. In retrospect it was clear the day was just to much for him emotionally. By dinner time we had a huge meltdown and it took Jayme over an hour and half to calm his body down enough to hear words and process them.

Even though the end of the day was hard, Jayme loves his new school and is still very excited about it and so are his dads!

Graduation Day

Today (Aug 25th 2011) Jayme Graduated from his day treatment Kindergarden. For the past few weeks, each day Jayme has been counting down to this moment. At school they had a paper chain and each day Jayme removed one chain. Jayme has been very focused on and very ready to graduate to “big boy school”.

Jayme’s graduation ceremony took place at 11:30am, we arrived early and met up with Jayme’s Attorney and Caseworker, who both attended the ceremony. The ceremony took place in Jayme’s classroom, as we all entered the 3 other kids in Jayme’s class gathered in the circle area, with Jayme the center of attention. Us “adults” had chairs in the backrow.

The graduation cermony started with music that Jayme preselected to be played, the chipmunks christmas song. Jayme’s teacher then showed the class a huge binder filled with photos of Jayme, from his first day at school all the way 2 years later to his final day at school. The binder also had his certificate of graduation in it and letters from all his teachers and classmates.

After the binder was shown. They passed around a little doll, which Jayme had named Thomas (because it has a train on it’s shirt). Everyone in the room gave the doll a hug and said something nice about how they would miss Jayme. The doll came home with us, so if Jayme is feeling sad he can hug it and get all of the hugs from his old teachers and friends.

Then the presents came out. The school gave Jayme a big pink backpack filled with school supplies and several board games and assorted educational items. Out of everything the biggest hit so far has been the pink backpack. The other kids all then said their last goodbyes to Jayme and headed to their busses or to play outside to wait to go home. Jayme did one last walk around his classroom and gathered up all his stuff from his cubby.

This was a pretty emotional day for the adults in Jayme’s life, but he handled everything amazingly well. Joshua headed back to work and Anthony and Jayme then headed home.

Once home Jayme needed to open up all his gifts and thoroughly inspect everything. Jayme’s attorney gave him some little lego motorcycles, so they had to be build at ONCE and played with. Uncle Sam then stepped up and watched Jayme as Anthony headed out on a secret mission.

First stop Balloon pick up from party city, then a chocolate graduation cake from Baskin-Robbins. Once back home Sam took Jayme to the park and Joshua and Anthony decorated the house. When Jayme and Sam came home the whole downstairs was covered with balloons and pink streamers and a big silver mylar CONGRATULATIONS sign.

At 6:15pm our first guests arrived and Jayme’s graduation party started. We had pizza & soda pop and watched a movie that Anthony made for Jayme (online at our shutterfly site, email for invite). Each of his guests had a present for Jayme and Jayme loved each of them. The Dad’s had two gifts, first 5 new block train track packs from Ikea. Enough to build a train from one end of the house to the other. The second gift was an X-wing Star Wars set. Yeah…. his head kinda blew up a bit.

He loved having all his adult friends and Jaden and Ava over. All in all a VERY good day for our little guy.

Lot’s of photos and videos from the day up at our Shutter fly account, shoot us an email for an invite.

 

 

 

On the other side of the table

This past weekend we were invited to speak at a pre-adoption class. It was the same pre-adoption class that we took several years ago. Since we attended our class, they have started to ask adoptive parents to come in and speak to the class about what their experiences were like.  Since we are still working towards finalization, we could not comment on all the aspects of the process.  But, we could certainly describe what we have experienced so far.

But, it was a bit weird being on the other side of the table. We arrived and entered in the back door of the Boys and Girls Aid building. Along the way we ran in to one of the waiting mom’s from our Pre-Adoption support class, it was nice to see her and catch up.

We entered the classroom and saw a room filled with hopeful parents. We hung out in the back of the room with the other panelists, like a bunch of cool kids on a school bus. Within a few minutes we were called up to the front and it began. As we did we were shocked to see two for our classmates from our Love and Logic class in the panel as well. They had adopted an adorable little girl. So after a few minutes of “Oh my God!”, hugs, and genuine joy for each other we all sat down and it began.

First, we had to introduce ourselves and then tell a brief bit about our family and our story. Then the teacher asked us some leading questions followed by questions from the hopeful parents directly. After years of working and waiting and being that pre-adoptive family, it was SO WIERD to be on the other side of the table. It was also weird to hear that copies of our hello book were still making the rounds in our old support group, giving other families ideas on how to make their books. On the whole experience was kind of surreal.

It started to remind us how far we have come. So without any further delay…  OUR ADOPTION JOURNEY… so far…

Our adoption journey really started 4 years ago after we saw a child’s profile listing on the Oregon Waiting Children. It wasn’t really the child that grab our attention, but rather that the caseworker was specifically looking for a two dad home. We had no clue that the adoption process had become so open to same sex families. After some long discussions, we worked up the nerve to make the phone call to sign up for a adoption orientation meeting.

The meeting was short introduction into the adoption process. They explained the special needs adoption process in Oregon and laid out some real hard facts about the types of damage these kids have gone through and what we should expect from the child and from the whole process. They also told the whole class to stop looking at the Oregon Waiting Children webpage as those kids would be long gone by the time we got our home study finished (THEY REALLY WERE NOT KIDDING). Which, at the time, was kind of a downer.

The next step was a set of mandatory classes. We were lucky and didn’t have to wait very long for a special needs class to open up. Within a month of our first orientation class, we were in the full special needs class, which covered in length and detail the adoption process and what our kido might be facing or has faced in his short life.

After the classes there was a bit of a pause in our adoption journey, almost a full year. After taking the classes and getting a better picture of what our new lives would be like, we started to set some goals. But the biggest decision was to wait. We wanted a better house/home and we needed to finish up our commitments to the different charity groups we worked with. We also needed to develop a lifestyle that would be beneficial for our future kido and us as future fathers.

So we did things like moving to a better house, started saving money to cover the adoption expenses and began reading a huge pile of adoption books. We also started to get our world setup for kids. We talked to friends and family members to see who would be a part of our family and who might need to not be a part. After almost a year, we both felt much more confident and we jumped back in with both feet. We picked our agency, filled out the agency application, paid the required fees and several weeks later we were assigned to our caseworker.

After a short get to know you meeting with our new caseworker, she started us working on our home study. First stop was signing a bunch of forms. Second stop we got finger printed. Our caseworker gave us a big long list of the information we needed to gather for our home study. Since we had taken some time off in our journey we were able to give her a big stack of legal documents (birth certificates, domestic partnership papers, etc) at our first meeting. But even with those off the list, we had a long list of items we still needed to locate and turn in. We had to supply financial information, personal references and had full medical checkups with drug and disease screening. We also had to complete a huge massive questionnaire, which asked some deep probing questions. The final step for us was the actual inspection of our home, to make sure it matched the state’s mandatory criteria.

During this process we also took some additional parenting classes and we started to volunteer some time each week to providing some respite care for a new adoptive family. The classes gave a much better grasp of the challenge ahead and working with the adoptive family has gave us some hands on experience dealing with a special needs child and the world of post adoption placement.

Once we had all of the required forms and paperwork turned in. Our caseworker started to write our home study. This took about a month. This was our first taste of the waiting process and we learned right away the worst was yet to come. WE HATED THE WAITING!  We were so amped up after getting all of the paperwork turned in, that just waiting doing nothing, felt like torture.

After a few torturous few weeks our home study was ready to go.  We met up with our caseworker and she presented us with two huge 3-ring binders filled with waiting children profiles. Not sure if new families get to see the binders anymore, right before we got Jayme, Oregon switched to a secure online system. But regardless, from those three binders we found 12 kidos we liked. Jayme was kido number one, top of the list.

Our caseworker then sent our new home study off to the caseworkers of those first 12. Since then every few weeks our caseworker would email us a new profile of a kido or set of kidos who she thinks we might be a good match for us. We would also check the waiting children’s websites (daily). Once we check it out and if we like it, she sends in our home study.

So now some depressing math… One of the choices we made was to stick to an Oregon based adoption. Same sex couples can’t really adopt openly internationally and each state has its own rules on same sex couple adoption. We also had a goal age and sex of our kido. We are looking for a little boy, aged 4-9 or a sibling group of boys aged 4-9. We knew that sticking with one state and with such a narrow range limits our options, but it also helped us learn what we want and set a goal and get a plan. So knowing that, we can look at some rough, questionable numbers.

Based on the historical adoption numbers reported from the Oregon DHS…
Last year, 584 kids that fell within our target age range were adopted. (not placed or matched, that could be a much higher number, this is only finalized adoptions) 78% of those were adopted by a foster family, which we are not.
Which leaves 129 kidos. Of that 129 kido’s 49.9% were male
This leaves roughly 64 boys within our target pool. This 64 is before we have even read their profiles. Just a bit depressing, but then we look at our results. Over the course of a year and a half we sent in a total of 48 home study’s. From that 48 we heard back with more information on 6 kidos. Of that 6 we were selected to go to committee on only 3 of them.

But all of that that is getting ahead of our story. So of those 6 we heard back from, the caseworker read our home study and thought we might be a good match. They then sent us a more detailed profile of the kido. This bigger profile shows more of the kidos background, who his biological parents are and more information on any medical or other special needs the kido might have. As we mentioned we only got to this stage with 6 kidos.  The 3out of 6 times that we have gotten to this stage we excluded ourselves from the process. The information we got back showed us that we were NOT a good match. It’s hard not to get a little depressed about the process. After waiting for months to hear back only to make the choice to walk away, it’s beyond emotionally draining.

But as we said we did get to the committee stage with 3 kidos. The first was by sheer luck. Our caseworker happened to be in the right place at the right time, when a family backed out of going to committee at the last minute she was able to re-present our homestudy to the child’s caseworker. Turned out the caseworker really liked us and asked us to go to committee…. in 4 days. It was a mad dash and an emotional 4 days, in the end we came in 2nd place.

The second time we headed to committee was for Jayme. With Jayme we had a long time to prepare for committee and we took advantage of that and had several conversations with his caseworker and therapist. We also took some extra classes that targeted Jayme’s needs better. The third committee we were invited to was to be held 1 week prior to Jayme’s, we felt such a commitment to Jayme that we declined going to that committee (all our eggs in one basket). In retrospect we made the right call, but it was a big emotional event in our lives. At the time we described it as an emotional roller coaster, it was a very mild way of putting it.

We also had to submit twice on Jayme, he was taken out of the adoption pool and then reintroduced later. It was on this reentry into the adoption pool we caught the caseworker’s eye.

When the big day for Jayme’s committee came, Joshua took the day off, to stay home and pace the floors. Later that night we had a big stack of information about Jayme dropped off at our house. Which required several hours of reading, Full medical history, educational records, family information, the works. We will then had 7 days to opt out of the adoption. We gave our YES, 24 hours after the committee met.

Our transition was a slow one.  Jayme learned that he had a new family and then over 4 weeks we met with him several times a week.

Up next…. finalization. At the 6 month mark Jayme’s caseworker and our Boys & Girls Aid caseworker will write 2 letters to DHS, hopefully recommending we move to finalization. They say the paperwork from that point can be 6-12 weeks, but then we all end up before a judge to make it all legal and binding.

But if we have our way… All we want for Christmas is Jayme (and perhaps a trip to Disney World).

 

3 Month Update

So it has now been a little over 3 months since Jayme moved in. WOW, what an amazing and busy time it has been.The 3 month mark brings some new security for each of us as we get use to each other and some new transition challenges.

First our current adoption clinician from Boy’s and Girls Aid, who was our replacement Clinician, is leaving. She is going back to school to become a therapist. This was a HUGE shock to us. She will be missed terribly! The silver lining in this storm cloud is our original adoption clinician was being reassigned back to us to see us through to the end (and we love HER!), so this is a real super bittersweet moment for us.

Jayme is still in year round half day school. At this school, his therapist who has worked with him for over 4 years is leaving. This transition was expected but in a different way, as we hope to have Jayme enrolled in mainstream school this fall. But she will be leaving before that transition. This is going to be harder on Jayme then on us, but it’s still a bit of a blow to our new family.

Additionally, the mental health provider from Washington county, who has been on Jayme’s team for years is now leaving as as our case has been transferred to Clackamas county. So out of the original team only a few remain, it made for a kinda emotional team meeting at our July meeting last week. Of course the long term goal is for everyone to fade away and for only the family to be left, but it’s still hard.

Our second big news is Anthony has gone part time at work, so he can be home with Jayme in the afternoons. This means our income is taking a bit of a hit, but so far it has worked out great. Anthony’s boss was very accommodating. Now we have a lot less daycare stress and more Dad time with Jayme. This had allowed Anthony to spend an hour a day with Jayme working on his reading, writing and arithmetic skills.

Nawiliwili (Day 11)

Friday Morning, our last real day of our cruise and no rental car. After having a nice breakfast we packed out beach bag with Jayme’s $1.00 target sand shovel set, grabbed our beach towels and walked from the ship to the Kalapaki beach in front of the Kauai Marriott. As we walked we noticed the clouds rolling in from the sea into the bay.

We walked through a little shopping area and then down onto the beach. Jayme began digging to china and the Dad’s laid back and started tracking the storm rolling in above us. We were only on the sand for about 15 mins when the first drops started. It was a just a light sea mist to start, none of the other sun bathers seemed to care. But we could tell it was about to open up, must be a Portlander thing.

Dragging Jayme away from his “sandbox” was heart breaking, but it only took a few hard drops to motivate him. We ran some shelter, one of the resorts empty  massage tents. From there, we worked our way back along the boardwalk. But then the heavens opened up. I would call it rain, if rain drops were equal to gallon drops. It took all of 1 second for each of us to be soaked. We dived into a little tourist t-shirt shop and did a little shopping as Noah’s flood fell on Kauai.

We had hoped the rain would let up  a bit, but after 15 mins we decided to make a dash for the larger shopping mall across the street. From there we could get the free shuttle back to the ship. We used our beach towels as make shift umbrellas and worked our way from door way to door way.

Once at the mall we did a little shopping and had a snack. Then we boarded the free bus/trolley back to the ship for lunch.. Of course, though we had been waiting there the longest, we were of course pushed back by other tourists.. Wet cold seats for the three of us..

The rest of the day was dry but much cooler then the past 10 days had been, but it didn’t ruin our day. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in our room and playing onboard. Jayme did swam in the onboard pool and came out like a little ice cube, but he was still all smiles. Today also was his longest visit to the kids club.

The ship pulled out a little after 1:00pm and did a slow drive by the Na’pali coast. It was beautiful, we took WAY too many photos. As the coastline sailed by we packed up the room.

We had a last family dinner together in the skyline and then got Jayme into his pajamas for the kid’s club pajama last night party. We we came back to pick him up he was donned in a huge white kids club t-shirt all covered in autographs from the club councilors and kids, it was too precious.

 

Passing of Grandmother Sorensen

It had just been a few days since our trip to Salt Lake City, when the phones started to ring. We had still not completely unpacked and we still had dirty clothes to wash from the trip. Jayme was still beaming and talking about how cool his trip to Salt Lake City was.

We had just started to get back into the home groove and were starting to get excited about our “Road Trip” vacation planned to begin in less then a week. But the phones started ringing.

It started with a voice mail from Joshua’s father saying to call to call him back. So Joshua immediately called him back and received the news and while on the phone with his father a voicemail came from Mom to call her back.

Joshua’s beloved Grandmother had passed away.

She had taken Grandpa into the hospital for one of this normal treatments, it was a regular day. While waiting for the doctor in the treatment room with Grandpa she fell over out of her chair, the spark of life gone..

No one in the family was prepared for her death. Everyone knew Grandpa’s health was poor and we all knew at Shiloh’s wedding that this might be the last time we would see him. So we all made sure to spend a little extra time with him and to have a goodbye. We even made sure Jayme had some face time with Grandpa who really enjoyed spending time with him. No one in our immediate or extended family had those thoughts about Grandma.

This was and continues to be hard on our family and something we are  still dealing with. The Sorensen family is very close and this was the loss of the Matriarch of that tight knit family.

Jayme was home from school and being baby sat by Uncle Sam when Sam got the call. Sam of course lost it and had to try to explain to a six year old with anxiety issues what had just happened and why he was crying. Joshua was at work when dad got in touch with him and called Anthony in tears. Anthony ordered him to go home at once, and then started calling Jayme’s therapist.

It took a day before we heard what the funeral arangements where to be and that next evening we decided that we didn’t want Jayme’s memories of his new family to be of a family in morning, at least not a less then a week after meeting them all for the first time.

So we decided that Anthony and Jayme would stay in Portland. So Joshua quickly paid off a credit card and bought two last minute airline tickets to Salt Lake City for Sam and himself. (Note: Working with American Express and Delta at the same time was amazingly easy.. The Conference call to get the flights arranged went smoothly and everyone was very sympathetic to our plight).

The first thing that Joshua had done after getting the airfare was speak to his Mother about a place to stay for Sam & him. She recommended that we stay with Eve, an old family friend. We quickly got this arranged and are still very grateful to her as she is really close to the family.

The next day Joshua and Sam flew back to Salt Lake to be with the family. Joshua picked up the rental car (first one ever in his name) and drove off to Grandparents house. Once there, they met up with the uncles and aunts and started to help try and put things in order. Joshua arranged to pick up James from the airport due to a midnight arrival time. James’ one request was that there be Cookie Dough Ice Cream waiting for him. Everyone at the house helped to pitch in with dinner and Josh & Sam caught up with their cousins.

The next day was the viewing and rosary. Joshua’s Mom, Carol (Family Friend) and aunts had put together a memory book full of photo’s of Grandma. Grandma’s sister (Aunty Dale) from Hawaii also flew in and Joshua was happy to see her. It had been about 13 years since he last saw her. Joshua and Sam helped out by running errands and just spent time with the family.

Saturday was the day day of the funeral. Lets just leave it at emotionally overwhelming.

National Train Day

 

Saturday was National train day and Jayme is choo choo crazy. Every morning we watch Chuggington, every day at school he is drawing or playing with his trains and then every night, huge wooden railroads zig zag our hallways and bedrooms.

His teacher sent us an email giving us a heads up about the event and we quickly updated our weekend plans with Jayme.  Joshua for the past week had been having some tooth pain so he had a 8:45am dentist appointment Saturday morning. He got up early and took the MAX to his appointment, then Sam left and headed to work.

After a few hours Joshua called and was ready to be pick up so Jayme and Anthony drove over and picked him. Turned out he did need some dental work and he has a mild infection in his jaw. So Joshua dropped Anthony and Jayme off at the MAX station and the he headed home  to sleep and enjoy the pain meds.

Jayme LOVES taking the MAX, the ride is never long enough. But this time the excitement of seeing new trains over powered his normal MAX excitement. At every stop Jayme’s eyes would get big and he would ask if we where downtown yet. Only to look a bit crestfallen while being told no. But, once we started to cross the steel bridge the payout happened. Choo choo steam clouds could be seen drifting up from the Union station.

We got off the MAX and started our short walk to the train station. Just as we arrived the classic stream train gave a long blast through its whistle. WOOOOOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. If Jayme could have exploded with joy, that would have been the moment. Anthony’s arm was nearly dislocated in the accelerated push to get to the trains.

We then watched the Amtrak Cascades train pull into the station and then headed inside. The train station was jam packed with muggles, so we quickly moved outside to see the trains. There were three lines of people. We got into the first line and ended up onboard a current Amtrak sleeper car. We found a sleepertteand closed our selfs off inside and started to pretend we were on a real train ride. We sat in the seat and opened up the tray table, pressed all the buttons for lights and even pulled down the top bed and Jayme climbed up and pretended to sleep.

The next line was a bit longer, and as we worked our way towards the next rail car to explore a large modern Amtrak train growled and hissed by us. Jayme is not big on loud sounds but handled the loud scary noises pretty well.

After exploring an old dining car and climbing through a big yellow caboose we came to the last line. The last line was to look into the control cab of the HUGE steam train. But as the weather started to change and sprinkles started to fall we did a quick walk by and headed to a little utility engine that was open for kids to climb into. Jayme had a lot of fun pulling the leavers and pressing the buttons.

We then did a tour of Union Station on the inside. There were lots of tables, but the one that really captured Jayme’s attention was the huge lego train set.

For lunch, the plan was to dine in our old stomping grounds on Stark street at the Roxy,where Uncle Sam works. We walked up into the pearl district and hopped on a streetcar and zoomed over to the glamor district. For those counting that was our 2nd train ride of the day, well at least as Jayme was concerned.

Once at the Roxy we found the best table (one that we could watch Sam work from) and had a great little lunch, well breakfast for lunch that is. Jayme ordered a HUGE pancake and ate every last bite of it. Anthony had a cheese omelet and toast. Jayme really liked the Roxy, and was very talkative to our waiter. He did not understand why that guy was nailed on the wall.

After lunch we said our goodbyes to Sam and our new friends and walked over to Powells books. Jayme has also developed a fondness for Berenstain bear books. We wandered down to the children’s area and found 4 new Berenstain bear books. Jayme then wanted to explore the HUGE book store so we started to look for some new model train books. We did this by walking all the way to the top of Powells and then all the way down. We then we headed back up to the travel section picked up something for our secret family road trip later this month.

The final treat for the day was taking the MAX all the way home and getting off at “Anthony’s Stop”.

Death of the Easter Bunny

Our first Easter as a family as come and gone. And WOW, what a weekend.

First we should start with the passing of the Easter bunny. This took place Friday evening shortly after our dinner. A large red tail hawk swooped down from the sky and snatched up one of the many brown rabbits that live in the briar patch by our home. He then landed and proceeded to eat his dinner… all of this was watched by us and our six year old from the comfort of our home.

Jayme had a lot of questions about what was happening. We decided not to try and hide it but let him learn about what he had already seen. The whole event turned into a very good nature lesson. He was not grossed out, scared or upset. Not quite sure if he fully understood the fate of Mr. Brer Rabbit, but he loved watching the huge Hawk and keep making hawk sounds, trying to talk with the hawk outside. After Jayme’s interest waned, Joshua then took a shovel and tossed brer rabbit back into the briar patch….. “Time to be turning around”.

Easter Saturday’s weather was amazing. After breakfast we took Jayme shopping. 2 new light jackets, 4 new pairs of jeans, 4 pairs of shorts, 4 new t-shirts, some fun light up sandals and a pair of black dress shoes for our upcoming trip to Salt Lake City for Shiloh’s wedding. We then had to pick up some presents for uncle Sam, who’s birthday was the next day on Easter.

After our shopping trip we had a quick lunch at Chipotle and then had to go home to change clothes. Oh, no one was messy – we all were too HOT in pants and winter clothes. We then headed up to Powell Butte and did the mile mountain view loop. At first Jayme was not having a very good time, he informed us that his feet were broken. This of course changed once we got to the top and we got to see the cascade range and got to pet some horses that were out for a walk on the trail. On the way home we stopped off at Lent’s park to play in the playground. The weather was just amazing, it was the first really really nice day of 2011.

Once we got home Anthony and Jayme started to make Uncle Sam’s birthday cake, which they made from scratch not from a box. This confused Jayme a bit, as cakes come from cardboard boxes and all you have to add is oil, water and eggs.

Easter morning was a lot of fun. Jayme woke up and the first thing we did was look around the house to see if the Easter bunny was in the house. The weather outside had done a 360 and the rain was pouring, way to wet for any real egg hunting. Jayme searched his room, the bathroom, the laundry room, our room, even his own room. He then started down the stairs to the main floor, a the halfway mark  he started yelling excitedly

‘The EASTER BUNNY has been here!  LOOK LOOK!”

On the dinning room table a big basket of goodies was waiting for Jayme. His Grandmother (who he is so excited to meet in May) sent him some Thomas Train toys, candy and a green frog. The Easter bunny left a big pink (Jayme’s favorite color) basket filled with Hot wheel cars, candy and an egg coloring kit.

Because the weather so do yucky, we had an indoor day. We watched a lot of Disney Movies, played Wii and had some fun lego time. We also finished making Sam’s birthday cake. Jayme picked strawberry for the filling and we make some yummy chocolate buttercream frosting.

At 4:00pm Josh drove downtown and once Sam was home we had a nice Easter/Birthday dinner at home. Anthony made a pot roast with candied sweet potatoes and fresh veggies.

Now that was all the good. There was also a lot of not so good this weekend. Jayme had a very hard time hearing our words all weekend long. Because of that, we had a heavy parenting weekend. A lot of redirection, a lot of hands on time needed with him. Easter dinner took a pretty big detour as Jayme’s table manners and lack of hearing our words came to a head.

He is not a picky eater but has started to become one, from everything we have read and been told it is to test us and test the boundaries of his new world. Dinner times consist of us both constantly reminding him not eat with his hand, not to spit food on the table, not to drink all his juice at once to not and to please finish his veggies that he loves but now “hates”.

We are using all the love and logic tricks we know &  the threat that only empty plates get desert added to them. This has been working most of the time, but Easter was the breaking point for all of us. After getting several warnings and an escalating negative behavior Jayme got dismissed from the table and sent to his room, without desert and the birthday candle lighting ceremony that come with it.

It took two walk backs, and a long conversation in his room about why he was in his room. But it only took about 20 minute for Jayme to calm down, be ready to hear our words and us his good table manners. Once back at the table, it was like we had a brand new kid. Of course for poor Sam this caused a 25 minute pause in his birthday dinner, he was pretty understanding about the whole thing. He even commented that his dad would be proud of us.

We really feel if we can get over the meal time issues with Jayme, we will have turned a big corner in the road to progress for our family. We will see if last night’s line in the sand at dinner time helps or not.

Seaside Rendezvous

Yesterday, Sunday the  17th, we took Jayme for his first visit to the beach.

To prep we had watched some You-Tube videos of the ocean. Having Jayme see where we are going before we go is really proving to be a HUGE help for us and for him.

We hit the road about 8:00am and drove down Hywy 26 to Canon Beach. Along the way we stopped at a lumberjack themed breakfast house. Jayme loved all of the old train equipment and the antique fire truck they had decorating their yard. The food was ok, nothing to write about.

We did not tell Jayme where we were going. Only that it would be a surprise for him. We parked in the Canon Beach parking lot and we walked (Jayme via piggyback on Anthony) to the beach. He was so excited and keep asking over and over where his surprise was. We turned the corner and started the approach to the beach which was obscured by a large wall. It was not until we were about 10 feet away that he saw the ocean for the first time. “IT”S THE OCEAN!!! AND A ITS HUGE SANDBOX FOR ME!!!!”

Jayme had a wonderful time digging and burying himself in the sand. We just wish it was a bit warmer so we could have stayed longer for him to play. He loves playing in the sand. He even asked if we could spend the night at the beach. We told him that we would work on a plan to do that soon.

After digging up half of Canon beach, we walked over the candy store and got some Salt Water taffy. Jayme got a small bag with at least one of every flavor.

Our next stop was down the coast a bit. Joshua brought his kites so we were looking for a beach with a bit more wind. We found a little beach that was all stones (our favorite type of beach) and spent 10 mins throwing rocks and small stones into the sea with Jayme.  Transitioning from events is pretty hard for Jayme at times so we had a small meltdown on the way back to the car. Jayme got very upset and started to cry because he did not want to leave the beach and go home. He didn’t think there was anymore to see and was very upset to have to leave.

Our next stop was an the overlook on Hywy 101 right before Manzanita. It proved to be a good stop as once again, Jayme could see where we were going (Manzanita beach).

Manzanita, proved to be very windy. So getting the kite up was a snap, in fact it was so windy all you had to do was hold it. This proved to be a bit too dull for Jayme who had found a hole with water in it, which he decided needed to be filled with sand at once! So as the adults held on to the kite Jayme played in the sand.

We then headed to our final destination Tillamook. But before we hit the factory the Dad’s needed some lunch.  So we stopped by the local subway for some simple sandwiches. First we had to DE-Sand the Jayme, who was bouncing all over the seats with happiness. We were so focused on Jayme no one noticed that as we entered restaurant the car lights where on.

After a ok lunch we all piled back into the car. Got all buckled in and started the car…. and started the car…. ahh started the….. car? The battery was dead.

So just to recap, we are at the coast, don’t have any jumper cables, we are not car guys oh and we have our new son whom the state has trusted with his care and protection. Two super dads felt like two horrible fathers in about 3 turns of a car key.

So as Anthony stayed in the car with Jayme, who was remarkably calm about the issue, Joshua headed out to find help. And help he did find. He found the ONLY gay in the village. As Jayme and Anthony keep looking for Joshua to return… what do our eye behold but Josh in a passanger seat of  a big truck with Dolce and Gabbana logo in the rear window. Within 2 minutes our car is running and our homo in shiny armor is driving back to the feed store where Joshua found him.

We drove around for 20 minutes to recharge the battery a bit and then hit the Tillamook cheese factory. 2 ice cream cones, 2 bags of squeaky cheese and some fun cheeses for the dad’s and uncle later and we are back on the road for home.

The First Family Crisis

Mid morning Jayme’s school called. There had been a small accident at school. Jayme was running in his classroom and fallen down and whacked his mouth on a table on the way down. According to his teacher, there was some bleeding, which seemed to have stopped and he was complaining about a lot of pain.

Locating parental panic circuits…. parental panic circuits engaged….. begin PANIC!!!!

We had a noon meeting with Jayme’s team scheduled for later that day at Jayme’s school so we decided to hold back the urge to drive over at once and just pick him up together after the meeting. When arrived at the school we looked into Jayme’s classroom and saw him eating… so his teeth seemed ok.

But we still took him to see the dentist that afternoon after school. He of course didn’t want to see the dentist but they took really good care of him and there were no issues.. He thought it was really cool that he could see his adult teeth coming in on the x-ray and asked how soon he would see them.  The dentist (who specializes in small children) explained everything for him and even should him what various tools were used for.  All in all a very good trip..