Thanksgiving 2013

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With the holiday season upon us that can mean only one thing, the string that connects Joshua with his Mother began it’s yearly tug and before we knew it we were on a pricey plane ride to Salt Lake City.

Jayme had the whole Turkey week off of school. Unhappy with our current full day care we pulled Jayme and Joshua stayed home Monday and Tuesday and Anthony took all day Wednesday.

Wednesday night Anthony and Jayme loaded up our suitcases and drove to the airport. Joshua took the Red Line Max in from his work. The parking in the economy lot was crazy, we ended up parking way in the back. But once we got to the airport, check in took only minutes and the security line was practically none existent.

We had used a chuck of our Delta miles and were able to get a very affordable flight to SLC. The only downside was we had to return Saturday morning at 8am or the price would jump $400.00. So this meant we had limited time with family.

Our flight was at 6:20 pm and this was also the first time we have flown where we could keep all of our electronics and gadgets out and running from gate to gate. So one Doctor Who Christmas special later, and the plane was touching down on the tarmac.

We gathered our suitcase (once we found the correct baggage claim) and our hotel’s free van came by and picked us up. With 40 people expected for Thanksgiving, Great Grandma and Grandpa’s house was packed to the rafters. So Anthony booked us into the airport Hyatt Place hotel.

This hotel is so us, we love the computer terminal check in and check out process. Jayme loved the swimming pool, it only took him 3 mins on property to find it and explode with glee. The dads had a big king bed and Jayme had a pull out sofa bed all to himself.

The next morning we woke, showered and headed down to the free breakfast. Afterwards, Anthony headed back to the airport via the free hotel shuttle to pick up our rental car. This time we got a very cheap economy car from Thrifty. Total cost was $15.00 per day.

After picking everyone up at the hotel we headed over to the family estate around 10 am. Grandpa was in full cooking mode and the whole house smelled wonderful.

With 40 people coming the whole house had been converted into a restaurant. The greenhouse was cleaned out and set with tables and chairs. The backyard patio was enclosed with plastic and a large heater was keeping the ‘new” room toasty and warm.

We spent the day visiting with relatives and  meeting our new nephew Rowan for the first time. Jayme spent most of the day playing with his 2nd cousin Grace and being fascinated by his new baby cousin. Anthony spent the day trying to get as much face time with the baby as possible. (Cute pictures of this can be found on the Shutterfly albums)

Dinner was at 4 pm, total guest count was a bit lower then expected only 36 people. We ate out on the enclosed patio and then we held court in on the patio and chatted until late in the evening.

The next morning we had hotel breakfast again and then headed to cousin Nova’s work. She works for a big snow plow company and in the lobby is the 1990’s movie version of the Batmobile. Jayme loved it and then he got a private tour of the production floor.

We then headed over to the family house and spent the day relaxing with family.

There was a very big adoption subplot to our visit this year. Just a few hours before we boarded our flight to Salt Lake, our adoption worker emailed us 3 large PDFs filled with additional information on a sibling group we submitted on (a 6 year old and a 1 year old). The caseworker liked our profile and was very interested in us. This became the subplot for our whole visit.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…

 

11/26/2013

So our journey of adding to our family has reached another milestone moment. Our home study is done and we are now into the matching phase.

During this phase we review short bio profiles of children available for adoption. Our clinician then submits our home study to the caseworker of each child we think would be a good match for our family and who our family would be a good match for.

In the past we have called this phase “The Black hole phase”. Because you send your home study into the hole, but nothing ever comes back, not even light.  No “Thank you’s” and no “No thank you’s”. Just the reassuring E-Mails from our adoption clinician telling us not to panic. Last time around we submitted on over 48 different profiles and we submitted on Jayme twice on two different profiles.

But, this time we know that we will send out dozens of home studies and never heard anything back.  We are even ready for the heartache that comes when you do hear back and the information you get scares you away.

This time around there also seems to be a lot less profiles to review. The first time around, on day one, we submitted on 12 kidos. This time around we only found 4 that seemed to be a good match. Perhaps we are just more picky now, but we remember there was 2 binders full of kidos last time….

 

 

 

 

Halloween 2013

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Halloween time, our third Halloween together as a family. All the photo’s are up on our ShutterFly account. If you need an invite let us know!

Finding the outfit

First year was Darth Vader, then last year was Harry Potter. This year was a tough one to figure out.  For over a month we kept asking Jayme what he would like to be and he just didn’t know or the ideas he came up with were a bit out of reach.

First he wanted to be Sonic the Hedgehog. But he didn’t like the costume we found online. Then a Dark Sith Lord from Star Wars, but as soon as he learned he would not get a new light saber he fell out of love with the idea.

So with a little over 2 weeks to H-Day we stopped by the Halloween costume store. Last year we picked up Jayme’s Harry Potter outfit there and he loved it, so with figures crossed we started shopping.

This year the costumes seem to all be zombie related. Zombie Storm troopers, Zombie soldiers, ect…  Both the dad’s said no to Zombie anything. At 8 years old, we still need the cute photos for not only us but the rest of the family. That and Zombies are such a dark subject for an 8 year old.

It was then Jayme found his costume, a Jack Sparrow pirate costume. It was perfect. Jayme also decided that he was not going as Jack from the movies (which he has never seen) but Jack from his Disney Infinity game. You see Jack from the game has a sword….

So we had to find a sword. Then the devious demon known as Jayme announced that Jack from the game also had a gun and ALL PIRATES needed guns to look real.

Now our house has a firm zero gun policy. No real or toy guns are allowed in the house. So when the NO came, this caused a bit of a pout in the store. But the pout wore off quickly when Anthony let him know that we didn’t need to get a sword either if not having both would be an issue.

 

Pumpkin Chucking

Pumpkin carving was not as intensive as it has been in past years. We got 3 large pumpkins for carving and Jayme picked one up on a field trip.

Jayme created a Creeper pumpkin, a Creeper is one of the monsters from Minecraft. Anthony created a ghost pumpkin and Joshua did a Minion pumpkin.

The one new thing this year was Jayme really wanted to save all of the seeds. With a huge backyard who could blame him. So after the carving Jayme had to pull all of the seeds out of the guts bowl. He laid them out with Anthony on some newspaper to dry.

 

The Big Night

Halloween traffic was CRAZY. By the time everyone got home it was late almost 6pm. So we had kind of a mad dash getting Jayme into his costume and some pizza into his tummy.

When we came to getting in the Captain Jack Pirate outfit, the hardest bit to get on was the pirate hair. It itched and many bobby pins from Anthony’s old princess in training makeup tackle box had to be deployed to move the non-itchy parts away from his face. But once the hair was fixed Jayme was ready to go.

We made it out the door a little after 6:30pm and into our cul-du-sac. Like each year, Jayme had a bit of a hard time getting into the routine, when the door opens Jayme was more interested in seeing into the neighbors house then the candy being offered.

So the first couple of houses the door would open and Jayme would say “Hi” and then start snooping. He would thank them for the candy and then let them know if they had a nice house. Both of the Dad’s laughing so hard from the curb, we were crying. We did a family huddle for a little Halloween reminder of what to say and we then worked up a little script and within a few houses he had it down and was starting to really get into it.

At what was going to be our half way point for our families evening Jayme walked past a child in a mask and came to a full stop turned and followed the kid calling out to him. Turns out the kid was in Jayme’s old behavioral classroom from last year. Jayme then begged us to let him join his classmates group and since we all were going the same way we did.

It was a real window into the future for our family. One of the biggest questions we keep asking our self’s about re-entering the adoption program is how will our family meet the needs of a brother for Jayme. What needs and struggles can our family cope with and still meet everyone’s needs and surpass them. Then most importantly how will that impact Jayme. So seeing Jayme interacting with a child who fits some of the needs that lot of kids in care struggle with, was very informative and answered a lot of questions we had.

Jayme’s classmate is a very hyper kido. He seems to be just as impulsive as Jayme was a few years ago. All night long his classmate was really ramped up. Jayme was very excited but pretty calm. It was really amazing to see that side by side comparison. When your in the trenches it’s hard to see the progress Jayme has made, but not tonight.

Now Jayme’s classmate was not out of control, he had great manners and was a great kid to be around. But… and it’s hard to explain, Jayme had a body calmness that 2 years ago we never thought he could ever have achieved. What it made more amazing is none of the Dad’s or parents had to point this out, Jayme figured it out himself. At one point Jayme turned to his friend and said “I know you’re really excited, I am too, but see, I have a calm body.” I wish I would have had my video rolling!

The two stuck together all night long and really enjoyed each others company.

Of course Jayme still had a few Jayme moments; when his sword fell off his outfit or when his jean button would come undone under his outfit, he still needed his own moments of redirection. But both Dad’s were so impressed how well Jayme played and worked with his friend.

The classmate’s Mom seemed impressed by how well the boys interacted as well, so well that we exchanged numbers so the boys could do a play date in the future. Upon hearing that, Jayme wanted his friend to come over right away and wanted us to make weekend plans. It was so cute and a great way to end a long evening.

 

Orange Frosting Day

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The day before Halloween and a long 4 day break from school for Jayme and his classmates, Anthony arranged with Jayme’s teacher to bring in cupcakes.

Now having brought in cupcakes for the holidays at Jayme’s school before, we are well aware that the school does not celebrate Halloween, Christmas or any other fun kid holiday from our own childhoods. So when asked why we wanted to host a cupcake party… the official answer was “Because it’s Orange Frosting Day of course!”

Anthony took the whole day off from work, so as Joshua headed to work, Jayme and Anthony headed out to a surprise breakfast together at Biscuits!

Ever since Anthony started his new job a year ago, Joshua has been pulling morning duty alone with Jayme. Each morning Anthony either leaves before Jayme wakes or right as, which leaves only a rushed moment together and a heart broken father. So going to breakfast was a real treat for the two of them, but perhaps more for Anthony.

Anthony had his normal, the Country Benedict, and Jayme ordered the french toast with strawberries. It was so nice to have time to spend together and not have to worry about getting to work on time! As a real special treat they ordered a huge cinnamon roll to share.

After breakfast Anthony dropped Jayme at school and then headed over to Freddie’s to pick up the Orange cupcakes and BOY were they Orange!

Later that day, around 2:25 pm, Anthony arrived at Jayme’s school with the Orange cupcakes, 2 big jugs of ice cold apple cider, Halloween… Orange Frosting  Day green cups, orange plates and spooky black napkins with scary Orange Frosting Day spider webs on them.

Jayme was so happy to see Anthony, he ran right over to him, shocked and desperate to know why he was there. Orange Frosting Day of course! The non-holiday officially established in Jayme’s mind, the two of them setup a little table area for all the kids to come and help celebrate Orange Frosting Day with them.

Jayme has a huge class with a lot of ethnic variety and what looked to be kids all at different development levels, and still something new for Jayme, girls in his class. All of the kids had great manners and were very excited about Orange Frosting Day

One of the things the dads have been worried about is the persecution Jayme might face coming from a home with 2 dads. The chief reason we all have the same last name is to stem any issues that might have come up with three last names and two men. But so far Jayme has not mentioned anything to us and our interactions with the schools has been nothing up supportive and equal. But every once and a while we get some questions.

One inquisitive little boy did come right up to Anthony and asked, ” Is it was true that Jayme has two dads?”. Then Anthony said “Yes, how many do you have?” The little boy thought for a moment and then said “Two, one step and one normal one”. The kid then smiled and took his cupcake. All of his questions had been answered. If only all grownup LGBT conversations were that simple.

ApplesAfter all the kids had their treats, Jayme presented his teacher with a chocolate dipped apple that was all decorated with gummy worms and spiders.

When everyone was done, we helped clean up the classroom and then Jayme decided that the leftover cupcakes needed to be given to his other teachers. So Jayme grabbed the tray and headed out to the bus area to continue the cupcake hand out. We also had one more dipped apple for Jayme’s favorite school therapist and we needed to find her as well.

All of the other teachers asked. “Is it your birthday Jayme?”, “No… it’s Orange Frosting Day!” he would say.

Will all of our cupcakes handed out we headed to the car. On the way home Jayme pipes up in a little voice “You know dad, today is just like when you use to take care of me after school, before I had to go to day care.”

And just like that he plunged the dagger into his fathers heart…

 

Flea Dawn

A first hand report from reporter Anthony DeSoren. from somewhere behind front lines.

One of the joys of not having a yard, is not having to worry about fleas. When I was younger I remember my grandmother coming into the house and taking off a pair of while tube socks she wore while gardening in her house dress. I remember watching all the fleas that would jump quickly off of her legs. But this was the 1980’s and monthly bug bombing of the house was pair for the course.

For the past few years we have lived in a cute little townhouse with our two little cats that where flea free during our whole stay there.  But now that we are in our home with it’s huge yard, the fleas have returned.

The first sign was this was Joshua’s legs. When he gets a flea bite they turn into big itchy purple spots. The second sign was poor little Messy who was licking off her belly fur.

But over the many years of bottle chemicals, sprays, press clean up solvent, paint fumes, smoking and a million other bad things I have been exposed to; I now tend to be very sensitive to chemicals. So the old 80’s bug bomb was just plain out for our family.

So we gave both cats a full flea bath and then treated both with the powerful (and not cheap) flea drops behind the neck.

A few weeks later and the fleas had only grown in strength. The cats were suffering and even Jayme had a few confirmed bites. So Joshua took the nuclear natural approach.

We reapplied the flea drops, bought flea collars, steamed all the bedding and the sofa’s and worst of all applied flea powder to the carpets.

drinkNow the flea powder product Joshua got for the carpets was a non-toxic ALL NATURAL product. Make up of clove oils, lemon oils and other flea destructive natural products.  Unfortunately this ALL NATURAL wonder turned out to be a bit too much like Bubble Shock Cola.

The product directions instructed Joshua to sprinkle on the carpet then sweep it into the million little fibers.

So both myself and Jayme hide upstairs with our doors closed and the cats were shut up in their bunker, the laundry room. Will all of the family “safe”, Joshua released the hounds of war on the fleas. But within seconds of the powder hitting the floor, the collateral damage began. As Joshua swept the powder into the fibers, the powder became airborne and was then  sucked into the furnace air return. Then via the furnace it was soon scenting every room in the house. The smell, burns. It’s like snorting pumpkin pie spice with shot of hot sauce up your nose. Not that I have ever done that….

Both Jayme and I ran out of our rooms to protest the scent, only to walk into a burning white cloud of death. Joshua made a mad dash for the furnace controls while Jayme and I ran to master bedroom, opened all of the windows and shoved pillows over the heating vents. With a big fan now blowing in fresh air, at least Jayme and I were safe. A bit over dramatic, but we could breath!

I quickly dressed and Jayme and I held our noses and escaped to Fred Meyers to pick up some pumpkins for Halloween. While we were gone, Joshua vacuumed the carpets and then opened all of the downstairs windows.

We came home to a house that smelled like someone had a major autumn potpourri addiction. A few days later it was much much better.

Only time will tell if we have won this round in the war with the fleas.

The Home Inspection

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This would mark our third home inspection. The first two were for Jayme’s adoption.

So going into it, we felt very confident. We only had to add a few things prior to the inspection.

First was a CO2 detector, which was mounted by the laundry room. We also had to make sure every bedroom of our home had a smoke alarm with fresh batteries.

Anthony created the new Emergency Fire Exit plan diagram, which has been posted clearly by the front door. We also had a full family fire drill out to the emergency meeting location.

Our fire extinguisher is up to date, so our only major investment was for a CO2 alarm, which was $20 bucks.

We love our house, but we love our houses potential WAY more. So the one thing that we did freak out about was how others would see our home. It’s a former back repo and prior to that was a rental. So everything is serviceable, but not really pretty. The kitchen is outdated, the hallways still have mismatched trim. But the worst part of the house is how white it is. We have been holding off painting because we want to knock down the popcorn ceilings first. Finding time for this has proved difficult in our busy schedules. So apart from Jayme’s room, the house is very bland and white.

Our adoption clinician was scheduled to come over to see the house and perform the inspection on Monday November 11th at 6:00pm, so the weekend prior we had a good clean out of the house. We might hate how the house looks, but we can make it as clean as possible.

Joshua climbed up to the roof and blew off the latest round of pine needles. Jayme and Anthony raked leaves and blew the walkways clean. We also tossed out the dead Halloween pumpkins, much to Jayme’s dismay.

Inside, was pretty clean to start off with. We are at the end of the war with the flea’s. But part of our flea maintenance to keep them gone has been to vacuum almost daily.

Joshua and Jayme did a super clean of the upstairs while Anthony did a power clean of the downstairs and kitchen.

Jayme spent most of Saturday in his room, play/cleaning, but the end results were great.

Our Adoption clinician arrived a little past 6 pm and Jayme gave her a full tour of the house. The whole inspection took less then 30 mins and before we knew it Jayme was in his room while the three of us were sitting around the kitchen table talking about what the next steps would be.

 

Tales of the Third Grade Something

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Third grade… Three years ago this seemed a million miles away. We seemed so unsure if starting off in 1st grade was the right move or not. We even had team meetings about it. Now Third grade… Well that was not even on the radar back then. But the day has come.

Back to school shopping was pretty easy this year. He only needed 6 new pairs of jeans and only a few new shirts. We took the opportunity and got all new socks and underwear as well. The best find was his red plaid backpack, colorful yet no weird ad’s, logos or cartoons to distract.

As we have done before we called and arranged a pre-meeting with Jayme’s teacher and set up a time for Jayme (and us) to tour his new classroom before all the other kids arrived. Jayme was even able to pick which seat he sat at. It was a big thing for him.

We had a plan for the first day of school; special out to eat breakfast at Biscuits, our yearly first day photo shoot by the front door and then the drive to school (no special needs bus this year). But… last minute Anthony got the call that he had to cover in Salem, so at 5am he left the house. It was a huge bummer for everyone, but no more so then Anthony, who had this own adult meltdown that morning on the way to work.

Joshua did his best to save the day. He cooked Jayme breakfast and took the annual photos. He even took some photos of Jayme in his new classroom for Anthony.

For the last two years Jayme has been enrolled in a behavioral classroom. With a teacher ratio of 3 teachers to 8 boys. But after a great six months of partial mainstreaming in the 2nd grade, Jayme’s team decided he was ready for mainstream 3rd grade.

As bad as summer daycare was is comparable to how good 3rd grade has been. His teacher gets him and her class has lots of structure. She even sends home homework each night.

So far this year, each night Jayme has been looking at the moon, drawing what he sees and then he has to write about what he saw. On the night of the first full moon, his whole class met on the school’s soccer field and with the help of a local astronomy club got to see the moon up close, Venus and the rings of Saturn as well.

But the best part of the night for the Dads was not what Jayme saw, but what they saw. Jayme had friends! He was so excited to see them and they were excited to see him! This has been a huge inner fear of ours. We have a friend who’s son is also special needs, he falls into the autistic disorder spectrum and we have seen and heard how peer friendships have been a real challenge for him. We have been worried that with Jayme’s special needs that he too would have to go through the same types of peer interaction failures and heartbreak. Everything we heard and saw over summer break had lead us to think the same was going to be true for Jayme in third grade, but he HAS FRIENDS!!!!!

The next night was the full school open house. We got to see Jayme’s classroom and talk some more with his teacher. Seems Jayme can be very chatty with his new friends, and this has caused a few bumps. But he is doing great in the third grade!

 

SUMMER DAY CARE PRISON

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Last summer our family was very lucky, Anthony was laid off of work.

This wonderful news came just days before the end of the school year. This meant that Anthony and Jayme were able to spend the summer together and Jayme did not have to go to summer daycare. The two of them had a wonderful summer of learning and bonding.

Unfortunately, this year with both dads were gainfully employed and with no Uncle Sam or other family nearby and  free; Jayme had to head off to daycare.

For the past year Jayme has been attending after school daycare run by the local school system and doing a wonderful job. This daycare is a mainstream program with no extra supports. But the staff are well trained and really get Jayme. One of the staff members even shares Jayme and Anthony’s passion for all things Disney. The only downside, of course, is they are closed over the summer break.

So Jayme and a few other  kids from his daycare were hosted at another school run day care site. Every member of our family refers to this site as the bad daycare (and a few other non pc phrases).

Now in fairness to the daycare, they are not unsafe, nor do they beat the children, feed them grey gruel, or lock them in leg irons. But this daycare site was and is just not a good fit for Jayme. You see all summer long the daycare was maxed to capacity with kids, it was hot and staff seemed to working hard each day just to keep order and not go insane.

Also from how Jayme describes it the kids are mostly left to self manage and entertain themselves. Translated into therapy-speak that means a world with very low structure and Jayme thrives with structure. So much so that he even tries to enforce structure on other kids. Summer daycare was in fact, probability, the most unstructured environment he has known in years.

When we first told Jayme that he would be going to that daycare we had a small explosion. Jayme hates going to this daycare. In the ramp up to the first day he begged Anthony to quit his job, suggested that Uncle Sam move back in and even tried to get Joshua to work from home and take care of him. On a positive note this gave us the chance to have a lot of family talks and we did a lot of work to reassure away his fears. It was a great chance to tell him and show him that we trust him and he is a “big boy” now.

Privately, the Dads mentally justified summer day care as a necessary evil on two fronts;  First, both dads had to work. As much as we wanted not to, we had to. We also knew that Jayme needed as much exposure to “the outside world” we could get him if he was going to make it mainstream 3rd grade, which was our summer time goal.

 

The Results:

Peer interactions proved the hardest for him, the older boys picked on him. Jayme was too big to play with the younger kids and socially unsure how to interact with his peers and older boys.

Jayme’s peer to peer communication skills and social warning system are of a much younger child. Coming from such a controlled world, first at the Morrison center and then the behavioral classroom, his skill set of how to be a “normal kid” is far away from the other 8 year-olds. The flip side of that is Jayme expects a higher level of behavior from his peers than most other children his age. If he has to follow all the rules then everyone else should as well.  For years now he has been taught everyone does…

Jayme got bullied quite a bit. Kids can be very mean. Another area he struggled with was that Jayme reacts very differently than other kids his age. He has been working and learning to make good choices but… You piss him off – he might cry, he might also overreact and tip a table on your head. Although we have made great progress on the later.

The summer for the dads was a long parade of notes home and many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many talks with Jayme. This was pretty draining for all three of us. There was more than one long conversation after Jayme was in bed if Anthony should just quit work and be a house husband (oh god please).

All summer long we had to keep going back to the love and logic training we had prior to the adoption to reassure ourselves that allowing him to fail safely now was so much better now then when he older and fails in a much larger way or worse, fails in 3rd grade. Another way to put it we needed him to fail and learn now with kids he would never see again then make those mistakes in mainstream 3rd grade and derail a very important step in his life.

At some point towards the end of the summer we could tell the staff was done trying to work with  or around Jayme. We started to get notes home of minor issues that should have only needed some redirection, but now had became major official notifications. The notes also came with very knowing glares and looks from the staff to the Dad’s.

Jayme would become very distraught at Daycare when they would tell him they were sending home a note or would threaten him with one. So much so we had to request that they not tell him about any notes.

But the notes kept coming… After a big blow up and meltdown because Jayme (the child with diagnosed impulse control issues) ran and got a ball that was 3 feet outside of the school bounds we got home a one day suspension. Then within two weeks of summer break’s end we received a full three day suspension. This final “punishment” was for Jayme hitting another child after the other kid spit in Jayme’s face, all because Jayme had the basketball the other kid wanted (yes, people had to hold the dads back, please show me any adult who would not defend himself after being spit on! Yet the 8 year old is suppose to, as if!

Luckily, Joshua was able to work from home for the suspension days. The hardest thing was the suspension was anything but a punishment for Jayme, he was free from daycare prison. Even working on homework all day was a million times better than being at the daycare he hated.

The Dads hated summer day care too, but Jayme learned more life survival lessons over the summer there then he could of at home with a dad. Still, it was a very hard summer for all three of us. It kinda slowed down everything, even our 2nd adoption plans as every night seemed to be an all hands on deck moment.

On the last day of daycare after we up picked Jayme and had the long wonderful Labor Day weekend ahead of us, we stopped by Toys R Us and picked up Disney Infinity as a reward for surviving day care! It’s like Disney’s version of minecraft. No better reward could be given for surviving Summer Daycare for our little hero.

The following week school started and we were so glad to be back at our good daycare, the dads hugged the staff!

 

Restoring the DeSoren Aqueduct

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 We have slowly been working on bringing our yard up to match our neighbors. But the one big thing that has been the biggest obstacle turned out to be the lack of water. Our property rests under huge pine trees. These trees block most of the rain fall from our property line, and what water does get though is sucked up by the huge pine trees. This has left us with dry, hard acidic soil.

We ran into this problem when we tried to plant some bunch-berry ground cover. Our first attempt ended with half dead plants. The ground was bone dry even after several days of rainfall; the pour plants didn’t stand a chance. So Anthony heavily tilled and improved the soil, replanted and then mulched the top. He then ran the sprinkler hose out to the curb and watered the heck out of the plantings for a week straight. But even now the ground dries up quickly. So a long term solution was needed.

At one time our home was a garden, one of the past owners really took pride in planting flowers and bushes. There are little clues all around the property of its former glory. But the biggest clues are all of the pop up sprinkler heads around the property. The only issue is the sprinkler system doesn’t work. When we moved in we assumed it was dead and would just have to be dug up at some point.

After we removed the spider infested chicken coop, we noticed that when the previous renters built the coop, they did so on top of 2 sprinkler heads. Since the old coop area has been designated for our raspberry garden we knew that the berries would need plenty of water. The idea of using a hose and sprinkler was not a very appealing. Finding these 2 sprinkler heads made us think about trying to resurrect the watering system.

In the back of the house, the main water supply to the irrigation system had been capped off. The PVC pipe line to the water main was broken and discarded carelessly next to the manifold system. But next to back door was a very new looking irrigation system controller, after playing with it for a while we realized that if we could just repair the broken pipe, we might have a working system.

Some other people might measure a project in its length of time to complete, or the total cost. We measure our home projects in the number of trips to Home Depot. Repairing the sprinkler system turned out to be a 5 trip job.

Before we stared we wanted to hook up the lawn hose to the PVC and see if anything would come to life. Our tests showed that the lines did work; we were able to get one of the front yard sprinklers to come to life. But it looks like the manifolds were dead. Some of the motors worked, some just buzzed and they also seemed to be pretty poor shape. So they had to be changed out. This was a bigger job then just fixing one line. So we held off until Sunday to attempt it.

After breakfast, Anthony and Jayme headed down to Home Depot and got our first round of parks. We replaced the main water PVC supply line and added a shut off valve for some extra safety. Then each manifold was cut off and each one replaced with a new one. Joshua came in behind Anthony and Jayme, and began the wiring.

After waiting for all the glue to dry we had our first test. The system is setup into 5 zones. We fired off zone one and all we got was some bubbling out of a single head in the back yard; something is wrong with that line. Luckily it is watering an area we plan to dig up so it was no real loss.

Fired up zone two, nothing happened. Jayme ran all over the front and back yard up he could not find any water. In fact we did not find anything on zone two until later in the day we tried again and part of the hillside opened up. One of the sprinkler heads was broken off and buried.  The PVC was even broken so we made repairs and it appears that zone two is only one sprinkler head. But again, this is an area we plan to dig up and have no need to water at this time.

Fired up zone three, the whole north fence line sputtered to life. This was an area that we really wanted to work, we now can plant some wonderful things along our back fence line and hopefully block a bit of our neighbors yard.

Fired zone four and the back half of the front yard sprang to life. We played with the sprinkler heads and they might have to be replaced. But the line is good! Zone five turned out to be the raspberry garden area and the very front of the front yard. We spend the rest of the day adjusting each of the zones sprayers while Jayme tried to get as wet as possible.

The next weekend we decided to expand the system and cap off the area’s not being used yet. Capping off was easy, but adding the new line was more of a challenge.

We wanted to add one sprinkler head to the front driveway area where Anthony planted the bunchberry. This required adding 30 feet of PVC line, 2 bends and one sprinkler head.

Thankfully Joshua had picked up a pick-axe to plant the blueberries, so digging the 30 foot trench took half the time it would have with shovels. It still took us over 2 hours to dig the line and glue up the parts. But it proved to only be a 1 home depot run job.

By dinner time the trench was filled back in, Jayme and Anthony had cleaned and restored our little rock trim on the driveway and the sprinkler system was covering everywhere we wanted. We celebrated with Burgerville for dinner with raspberry shakes.

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!

Keeping up with the Jones

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Before we purchased our new home, one of the main selling points for Jayme was the fact that there was a little man made pond in the front yard. It’s not a very large pond, only about 6 feet across. But each time we would visit the house, Jayme would insist that we turn the pond on so he could play with it. After we moved in, one of our first outdoor projects was fixing the pond.

The pond was very stony, mostly dry and what water was in it was thick and very smelly. A small early spring heat wave dried up the little water left in the pond and gave us our first excuse to start work on the pond.

Anthony and Jayme changed into some dirty clothes, put on some rubber gloves and started to clean out the pond. We had thought there must be a hole in the lining.  Every time Jayme would  fill the pond it would drain out within a few hours. So our goal was to clean out the rock and look for a hole to patch. But as we cleaned it out, we learned what was really going on. The water was not flowing out but down. Our shallow rocky pond turned out to be about 4 feet deep filled with rocks and gravel. The pond seemed dry, but only the top inch of exposed rocks was dry.

It took two weekends to hand lift all the rocks and gravel out of the pond and reach the plastic liner. It was a mucky smelly mess! But after cleaning and filling the pond liner, we found zero holes. It was a very pleasant surprise.

Over a few weeks, we made a few trips to different nurseries and before we knew it we had a great little pond, no fish but we had several frogs move in.

With the pond clean we now had a new problem, what to do with the piles of river rock we dug out to the pond. In the end we decided to artistically lay it in strips down our driveway. Sort of dry river bed effect, Anthony moved a few bigger rocks down and the front yard was starting to take shape.

It was about then that our neighbor ordered several yards of black mulch and mulched his front yard and gardens. Our little weedy adjoining hill and pond rocks seemed to just scream eye-sore; so we headed to Home Depot and purchased some lawn weed fabric and 20 bags of mulch. Anthony and Jayme also picked up 2 small huckleberry bushes which should grow to about 8 feet in height and help hide our fence (a future project).

We spent the weekend laying the weed block and raking mulch, but by the time we finished we had a very respectable looking hill adjoining our neighbors amazing yard.

Our front yard is MASSIVE, with all of our work only about 1/8th of the front yard is now presentable. But still the neighbors liked what we did so much that they bought some rocks for their driveway to match ours. Who knew we were trend setters!

We still need to removed several small trees and bushes, expand Jayme Pond, plant some grass and fix the sprinkler system! But we feel that we are no longer a huge embarrassment for the neighbors.

Spring Trip To Disneyland

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When the stress levels in our house get too high. Things get rough for our family. Little problems become big. Jayme starts to act-up more at school and daycare, Anthony starts looking for ways to be a stay home dad and Joshua becomes crazed housemaid. So identifying when our family is stressed is very important for our families well being.

Having survived the house move and all the drama that came with it, our family needed a break. We all knew it and we had gotten to the point where it just had to happen. So the dad’s decided to look for a weekend getaway.

We looked at renting a house on the beach, but it was all so pricy. For those prices we might as well fly to Disneyland!  Huumm Disneyland….

So on a boring Thursday night, May 9th, we all arrived home and had a simple dinner. After dinner we all sat down on the sofa together and asked Jayme if he wanted to go to school the next day, he said no. So then asked him if he wanted to go to Disneyland and he said yes. We said… ok.

Having packed all the bags the night before so all we had to do was load the car and drive to the airport. It took him a few minutes to process it all in. But, by the time we got to the airport he was bouncing for joy. Clearly this trip was want the doctor ordered because by the time we got to the airport everyone’s mood was better and everyone was smiling.

We parked in long term parking and rode the shuttle in for our 8:30pm flight to LAX on Alaska Airlines. The flight was very short and before we knew it we were descending in to LAX. This flight marked Jayme’s 11th flight. He has become quite the seasoned traveler over the past two years.

We gathered our luggage and headed to the Thrifty car rental shuttle. It was here that the travel, excitement and hour of the day caught up with Jayme. He started to get a bit fussy and wanted to be held. Jayme is 8 years old and at times about 4. This was one of those times.

Once we had the car we pulled out our iPhone and headed off to the hotel. This trip Anthony found an unbelievable combo deal with the airfare and the hotel, the hotel being the Anaheim Travelodge International. Now…. we are not picky, as long as the room is clean and nice we can put up with just about anything. But we knew all was not well when we hit the elevator it smelled like someone had done well… you know in it.

The room itself at first glance looked ok, plain but ok. But in the morning we noticed in the bathroom huge water marks and mold told a different story. Anthony and Jayme tried to put on a cheery face, but Joshua was not happy. Years ago we had gone on a trip and stayed in a 2 star hotel, after that trip Joshua had a travel restriction on our family staying in anything other than a 3 star hotel or higher. The Anaheim Travelodge International was a 2 star. But we did get one real plus out of the hotel,  Anthony is not allowed to book anything other than the Disneyland hotel for our next visit, per Joshua. So our next trip should be amazing!

 

Friday

What the Anaheim Travelodge International lacked,  the parks made up for. We woke the next morning and skipped the nasty free breakfast in favor of Lenny’s…. ah Denny’s.

We arrived at California Adventure a min after rope drop. Knowing how long the lines can be at Car’s Land we decided to spend the morning there and made a beeline for Radiator Spring Racers. As we crossed the entrance the wait time sat at 1 hour. Normally we would never get in a queue with an hour wait, but know how long this line can be. In our last visit Joshua did not have a chance to go on RSR because of the long queues, so this was all new for him. Jayme passed the time taking photos of strangers; his normal vacation hobby and the dad’s had their  first chance in weeks to just talk and relax in the warm sun. The hour wait turned out to really be only about 45 mins! We  all loved the ride and once again, our car won the race. As we exited we noticed the wait time was hovering at 260 mins, so grateful we came early!

We spent the morning exploring Radiator Springs and the boardwalk area of California Adventure. But once lunch time arrived we had a real adult treat planned, lunch reservations at Carthay Circle.

Carthay Circle is the new fancy restaurant in California Adventure. We arrived and check in on the first floor, they asked us to take a seat in the lounge and all three of us sunk in to big leather sofas and waited in the dark cool room. After a few minutes a host arrived and took us to our table, which was on the second floor. We had the option to take the stairs or the elevator, Jayme chose the elevator.

The restaurant is very large but is broken up into many small dining rooms. We were taken to our room, which only had 7 tables in it. A few minutes later our waiters (note: waiters) took our drink orders and our dining experience began.  We planned to take advantage of the World of Color reserved seating offered by the restaurant. To qualify for it each person in the party must to order a main course and a desert or appetizer. We met and beat this. Each of us ordered an appetizer, main course and desert. All three meals were AMAZING! Each of us ate of each other’s plates, with the exception of Jayme’s fish, which he inhaled in a matter of minutes.

But the best part was dessert. Each of us ordered something. Anthony ordered cheesecake,  Jayme a chocolate brownie and Joshua ordered, but did not eat, the Strawberry Rhubarb tart. I say ordered and not eaten because Joshua mistakenly let Jayme try a bite before he tucked in. Before Joshua knew what had happened, Jayme had inhaled the whole tart and was asking for more! Anthony nearly fell out of his seat he was laughing so hard.  After wonderful lunch we rolled our self’s down the road to our dirty hotel and took a long post lunch nap!

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The 2nd highlight of the day was World of Color. This was our second time watching the World of Color show as a family, last time we arrived an hour early, had reserved standing space and got an amazing view. We had a front row view in section D3, we felt like kings. This time we seemed to have topped even that. The Carthay Circle reserved area was a little further back but was on a higher tier in section Y3. We arrived an hour early like last time and were the first group escorted to the reserved area. Over the next hour only 3 other small groups joined us. We ended up having a huge area almost to ourselves. This felt very awkward as we looked down at everyone else packed in like sardines. The show was outstanding and as we left the park we could feel that the stress bubble we had been living in for the past few months had been popped.

 

Saturday

Disneyland park day! We again skipped the yucky free breakfast at our hotel, but this time we headed to IHOP for breakfast. The price was about the same as Denny’s but there were more food options.

People always ask what our battle plan is when visiting the parks. I tell them three things; Go early, use the fast-passes and take a nap. Today we did not veer from that strategy.

We headed right to Space Mountain, as that was the one ride Jayme loves above all others. As we entered the standby line we also grabbed fast passes. We had a 10 min wait, rode Space Mountain then walked over to Star Tours with a 10 min wait, then walked back to Space Mountain and rode again with our fast-passes. Within the first hour we had done the Space Mountain twice and Star Tours. As we exited Space Mountain the wait time was over an hour and Star Tours was the same.

This was Jayme’s third trip to Disneyland, so he has a little map of the area in his head now. We spent the rest of the day following that little map. Jayme was our junior park tour guide.

After our nap and dinner we had one more little surprise planned for our boy. Anthony had signed us up for the Fantasmic Desert party again. We ended our day again as Kings, being served deserts and drinks in our private reserved seats watching Fantasmic!

 

Sunday

Today was travel day home, but our flight home was not until 10:45pm. So we had another full day at the parks ahead of us. We checked out of our flop house and loaded the car with our bags and left over desert party treats. We then drove over to the massive Disneyland parking lot structure and parked on site.

We had park hopper passes so we were able to visit both parks today and take in any rides that we missed or that Jayme wanted to ride again. We started in California Adventure were Anthony was forced onto California Screamer. He was promised that when the car went upside down, Jayme would hold his hand. Jayme lies…..

With no hotel to escape to for a nap, we were pretty hot and tired when we got to the car at evening. The car itself was roasting! Jayme passed out in the backseat about halfway to the airport.

For our return trip we flew back on United with a connecting flight in SFO.  The flight home was uneventful until SFO, when we transferred to a much smaller jet. So small that we had to walk out onto the tarmac to board. We had done this before in Hawaii, but it was still a thrill for Jayme. Once on-board the thrill was over and Jayme passed right out.

Photos are online of our trip!

The Chicken Coop

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The one “extra” item we received when we bought our house was the addition of a large wooden chicken coop. It was on a side of the house that we rarely traveled too, so it was not something that had to go right away. But as berry season came, so did the desire to have our own little raspberry garden. Anthony has very strong memories from childhood of walking through his Grandmothers garden eating until his little insides burst, and for some wacky reason wants to pass on that experience to Jayme.

IMG_0145We placed an ad on Craigslist under the free section. Within 1 hour we had 14 E-Mails, by the next morning we had 23. But to be fair we started at the top of the list. After a few E-Mails we arranged a time for pick up.

The winner of our free coop arrived Thursday night around 6pm. Looking at the coop we had thought that it could be removed in panels. But as we started to take it apart we realized that the whole thing would have to be taken apart, piece by piece. “Luckily”, we had lots of help. The nice lady who came brought some tools, a large truck and her 5 year old son.

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The 5 year old was the official gatherer of all of the screws and when something needed to be hammered he was front and center ready.

Jayme who had blown it at Day Care that day and prior to their arrival was told he would be having a quiet night (no tv, no video games). Jayme was in his room and quite happy not to have to come out in the heat and work until he hear the 5 year old. The fact that a kid was on HIS property and he could not play with him became the ultimate punishment for poor Jayme. Jayme kept calling out to the kid from his window and really really wanted to help.

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Taking the coop apart and loading it on the truck took almost 3 hours. But worst part of the whole tear down was the little coop part itself. It was built on top of a packing crate. There was no way to take it apart, so we had to carry it up and over our fence. This was fine in itself expect that it had about a TRILLION spiders living in it, on it and under it. We found one that was a good 3 inches across and thick. None of us turned out to be very brave when it came to spiders.

When everything was loaded the little boy decided he wanted to stay for dinner. This mom explained that he really bonds well with other guys, and we are pertty amazing guys. In fact, he wanted hugs from both us before he left. We had to break out our special needs training, stanger danger traning and suggest high fives or handshakes to him. He was super cute and our interaction with him really drove home the feelings that we need to buckle down and get our adoption paperwork turned in for Jayme’s brother.

That night when we tucked Jayme into bed, Jayme wanted to hear all about the chicken coop tear down and more importantly the little boy. We told him about what we did and the spiders. He seemed to have lots of questions about the little boy. When we got done telling him about everything he said “You should adopt him, (the little boy).”. Anthony told him that the little boy already has a family. Then Jayme said “Well, you can just take him away from his family and then he can be adopted.” As soon as he said that Anthony had to hold back the tears.

Bedtime ended with lots of hugs and kisses. Talking about family and what it means, telling Jayme that we are a family forever and no one would ever take him away again.

Last Day of 2nd Grade and our IEP meeting

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Last Day of School

It was a sort of bitter sweet ending to the school year. Last year, Anthony had been laid off and was able to spend the whole summer with Jayme. This year with both dads working the summer and no Sam living with us, Jayme’s summer plan was filled with day care.

Jayme sees daycare and babysitters as a divine punishment. He does not want to be left alone, but refuses all suggestions of babysitters. This is pretty clear to us as a caregiver issue. Not surprising after all the “stuff” Jayme has had to go through in his short life.

But this issue came to a head two days before the end of school when Jayme found out Anthony would not be coming to field day, the last day of school party that his school throws. The full understanding of what it means for both of his Dad’s working came crashing down on him all at once. Jayme did not handle it well.

Thankfully Joshua was able to take a very long lunch and come out to the field day events with Jayme. Jayme has been a fairly spoiled child when it comes one on one time with the Dad’s something we don’t want to stop.

We started the last day of 2nd grade with a breakfast of blueberry pancakes. Anthony woke early and cooked up a big batch. For the now traditional last day of school photo Jayme dressed up in his blue shirt with the bow tie (bow ties are cool). Photos are not online yet BTW.

For some reason Jayme’s school bus did not show up for the last day, Joshua ended up taking him to school. Something we will have to get used to doing, but more on that later in the post.

Field day

Joshua arrived a few minutes late and arrived to an empty school room. Following the sound of fun, Joshua found the whole school in the back field playing games and having fun. Joshua found Jayme attempting to do a rubber tire let slight shot, (photos online).

Jayme was THRILLED that Joshua had made it to field day. The two of them spent the next hour wandering around doing as many of the events as they could. T-Ball, kicking shoe (which Jayme loved), a kid’s obstacle course and a wet sponge throwing contest.

They ended the day with the mass squirt bottle flight. This proved to be a bit too much for Jayme and his sense of justice. The other kids were all much older and twice his size. They pushed and shoved in a way that Jayme has been so trained not to! Because of this he couldn’t get to the refill barrel of water. With no teachers around to monitor the game, Jayme kind of lost it. Joshua scooped him up and wiped his tears.

This is the second year in a row that Jayme has fallen apart at the end. The stress of change and water bottle injustice was just too much for him.

IEP meeting

Jayme’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting was set for 2 days after the end of school. Both of the dad’s arrived and made our way to the classroom Jayme has been in for the last 2 years. Waiting inside was Jayme’s teacher of two years. After a short chat the remaining members of the team arrived; Jayme’s mainstream 2nd grade teacher and the school psychologist.

We all chatted about Jayme’s progress over the past two years and how everyone felt it was time for Jayme to move full time into a mainstream classroom, but with plenty of outside supports. Jayme would keep his small group math and reading supports. Jayme would no longer be in the behavioral classroom but rather a regular “mainstream” one.

Both of Jayme’s teachers spoke of how well he was doing and how fond they are of him. Clearly Jayme is a little charmer in school.

We did have two set-backs; first we would have to get a school transfer order placed. If Jayme was entering a mainstream classroom the school district would move him back to the school closest to our house. Everyone in the meeting agreed that at least for the time being, it would be best to have Jayme stay put so if there were bumps with the transition he would have teachers and staff around him that know his needs.

The second set back was Jayme would no longer qualify for bus service. This is not a big deal to the dads, but Jayme really likes taking the bus to school. So we don’t know how this is going to play out this fall. Good school bus behavior is one of Jayme’s strengths. But there is no normal school bus route for Jayme’s school in our neighborhood since we are a transfer.

It was also a sad moment as we had to say good-bye to Jayme’s teacher. She was moving out of state to live with her husband who had been transferred earlier in the year. She would not be returning to Jayme’s school in the fall.

But even with the sad goodbyes this was a WONDERFUL way to start the summer. Jayme has come so far in the past two years, it’s amazing how much our little boy has grown and changed.

 

Easter 2013

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Apart from ice camping for Easter, we tried our best to have good Easter weekend for Jayme

2Friday night Jayme and Anthony sat down and watched the 1977 animated classic ” The Easter bunny is coming to town” with  the voice of Fred Astaire. It’s a wonderful tale about where the Easter Bunny comes from and why we eat eggs on Easter. Of course none of it was true, but it had lots of catchy songs.

Saturday we took a bike ride around our new neighborhood and checked out the sights. We also got Easter haircuts. Later that night we picked up a Papa Murphy’s pizza and Joshua located the new episode of Doctor Who for us to watch. We don’t know how, but Jayme is a total Whovian…. total shock right? We all snuggled on in our new media room under blankets and watched it our our big screen.

On the big Easter day Jayme came bouncing down the stairs and found a HUGE brightly colored basket of chocolate rabbits, chocolate eggs and assorted Easter candies.

Anthony boiled up 3 dozen eggs and Jayme got to paint and dye everyone of them. One of the kits Anthony picked up was a tie-dye egg kit. They dry all shiny and glossy and some of the colors that Jayme used on the eggs  turned out really amazing. He even mixed a pale green egg with a extra wash in the yellow dye to make a bright Kelly green egg. He is quite the artist!

Once the eggs dried, the Dad’s hid them all over the yard, front and back. This year Jayme was VERY specific that he wanted a full on Easter egg hunt, so the Dad’s being pushovers complied.

Jayme took his time and hunted everywhere for the eggs. At one point we saw a big dog in our yard and got a bit worried that we might come up a few eggs short (with the dog eating a few), but a final count at the end showed that Jayme had found them all!

Easter Ice camping

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It was a wonderful Friday evening.

After weeks of cleaning the old town house we were about to spend our first free weekend together in our new home, best of all it was Easter weekend and the 6th anniversary of our domestic partnership (10 years total this fall). The weather forecast could not have been better, super cold at night but 70’s and nice during the days.

Anthony stopped off at Fred Meyers and picked up eggs, Easter candy, a new basket for Jayme, 2 different egg dye packs and 2 special movies for the weekend, The Easter Bunny is coming to town and From the Earth to the Moon. Jayme has been into space lately and the whole DVD series was at Wal-Mart for 12 bucks, great box set for some early prep work for our fall visit to Cape Canaveral.

Joshua picked up Jayme early from day care and the two of them arrived home and entered via the garage. They then headed right outside to work in the front yard clearing fallen branches and weeds from the area.

Anthony pulled up in his car and made his way inside with the goodies and groceries via the front door. As he put his key in the lock he noticed that there was a little yellow door hanger. It read “Per your request, the gas has been shut off.”

Now for years now we have impressed into Jayme that adults are supposed to behave like adults in moments of stress. That big boys do not yell. Big boys do not throw things. Big boys do not use bad words. But…. when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary… sometimes, yes sometimes, adults not only can but will lose it.

We had been working every night for a month and were emotionally drained, physically dead exhausted and to became suddenly confronted with the very real fact that the whole family now has to camp in a cursed house without heat and no hot water for the weekend (and possibly longer). It was just to much for us. Jayme cried, Anthony stormed and Joshua yelled. It was not a pretty picture.

What was a pretty picture was how our family recovered and pulled together. A quick call to our “good friends” at a certain Northwest based gas company,  reviled that their customer service center was closed and had been closed for a whole and complete minute. This billion dollar public utility apparently does not work weekends, because clearly no one needs services on the weekend.

But they do have an emergency number, and this being an emergency we called it. We were a bit shocked to find that this Northwest based gas company,  had maned their emergency phone line with Vogons. After speaking with the Vogon on the phone we learned that they had not just switched off the natural gas to the wrong house, as we first suspected. You see we had called them to do just that for our old home. We had asked for our names to be removed at our old house back in February and switched over to our new home. What we found was:

  • They had no record of anyone living in our new cursed house
  • They still had the gas on in our name in a house we no longer lived in!
  • They could not even find our new house after several minutes of searching.

The Vogon on the phone refused to do anything to fix the issue, which we found impossible to believe. In fact the Vogon was so unhelpful it make we wonder if he wasn’t messing with us. He did offer to E-Mail a customer service representative and promised that they would contact us quickly.

Being E-Mail people this gave us new hope and we asked what the E-Mail turn-around time would be, the reply we got was a bit iffy and muffled. We asked if anyone in that department worked on the weekends and he said “I don’t think so”. After I pressed harder he said ‘No”. Which begs the question of HOW IS EMAILING SOMEONE GONE FOR THE WEEKEND HELPFUL IN GETTING OUR SON SOME HEAT TONIGHT!

With ZERO help coming from this Northwest based gas company and there crew of unhelpful Vogons, our family (20+ year, pay on time customers of this Northwest based gas company) switched into full crisis mode and we took quick action. The sun was setting and the house was growing colder and colder. Joshua jumped in the car and headed down the hill to Walmart, to buy some cheap floor heaters. He returned back an hour later with no heaters. He had tried several stores, no one was carrying them, he even tried Home Depot. While he was gone Anthony made a hot dinner and distracted Jayme with TV and warm food.

We told Jayme we were going to have a no heat party and moved Jayme’s bed into our room. We then placed the only little space heater we had onto our room and cranked it to high and turned on the master bedroom heater fan to full. For the next 4 nights this would be our whole world once the sun had set. The three of us all slept in the same room, each of us with double blankets.

Saturday morning we headed down the hill to our old house. The original plan was that we would be handing over the keys today, but we called and pushed off the hand off until Monday. For the weekend at least we would be showering at our old house.

By Monday, a full weekend in the ice cold house has gotten Anthony sick, made Jayme more on edge and made Joshua even bigger nasty grump. Monday was our anniversary, Easter had been overshadowed by the gas issue. We really wanted our anniversary not to be.

We called our Northwest based gas company first thing Monday morning praying that our anniversary would not be spoiled.  Thankfully, the weekday Vogons said would send someone right out…. on Tuesday.

Our nightmare continued.

Anniversary canceled, Monday night Anthony and Joshua boiled water on the electric stove and each of us took a 2 inch lukewarm bath in Jayme’s bath tub. Not how we thought we would be spending our anniversary. 2 inch solo bath and a child in our bedroom.

Tuesday, while we were at work they entered our home and turned the gas back on. Our world is back to normal until the next part of the curse kicks in. Until then we are looking into alternative energy sources so we can be ready for the next time a utility company fails us and so we can have hot water during the zombie apocalypse.

PS. If anyone would like to buy a house and has cash, we are willing to make a deal!

Moving Day

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We don’t know how we did it, but Moving day landed on the 3rd anniversary of the first day of meeting Jayme. You know… because moving isn’t emotional enough for our family.

We woke at 6:30am and the three of us loaded into the family car for a short ride to the U-Haul center. Anthony and Jayme headed in and got the keys to our 24 foot moving monster.

It took a few tries to back our moving truck into position in front of our townhouse’s garage, the townhouse street and all of our neighbors parking on the red fire lane stripes didn’t really help.

Our plan was to make three trips. First trip to load everything we could ourselves, second trip to have paid movers get the heavy stuff and then the final trip for everything else.

The three of us started to load the garage into the truck. For weeks we have been packing and stacking boxes in the garage. So on moving day it was just about moving those boxes a few more feet into the truck.

By 11:ooam we had our first load ready to go up the hill. With a few exceptions we just reversed the process and unloaded the truck into the new garage.

We grabbed some McDonalds for lunch and Joshua stayed behind to clean up the Laundry Room (see our last post) while Anthony and Jayme headed to the townhouse to get the cats locked in the bathroom and meet the movers who were coming at 1:00pm

Paying the movers was the BEST money we have ever spent! There is just no way we could have completed without them. Within 8 minutes of their arrival they had more on the truck then we had in 2 hours. They moved the washer and dryer, our 300 pound latex bed, Jayme’s bunk bed, our big screen, the dining room table, the sofas, and much much more. They filled the 24 foot truck from front to back.

Once back up the hill they unpacked it all as well. But this time we asked them to unpack into the house, rather then the garage. Everything got in ok with 3 exceptions. First our huge sofa was too big to go in the front. So the movers had to take it in via the kitchen sliding glass door. The second issue was they moved Joshua’s rope out of the truck and into the garage, so on our third trip we had to improvise (we thought they had taken the rope by mistake). The third issue we didn’t find out about until the next day, our washing machine was broken. Turned out the suspension rods were dead, they were well used and the move killed them, not the movers fault. The movers did run over our set time by 45 mins but they worked the whole time and we feel the money was well spent.

Third trip we ran back for the last of the items that could not come by car. We have the townhouse until the 30th so we knew we could just run back and forth with the cars for the little things. So we made a real effort to get the large times on this last run.

With the last of the big times in our new home, we got ready for a little welcome home party. We promised Jayme that if he was good and we got all our stuff moved in we would buy Wreak-It-Ralph and have a pizza party.

So at 7:30pm Anthony and Jayme headed out to Papa Murphy’s and picked up a family sized Chicago stuffed pizza. Then stopped at Safeway for sodas and then all three of us plopped down in our new family room with our TV jerry-rigged to the PlayStation for an impromptu party. No one got to sleep until 11:00pm.

The next three weeks we have been doing something every night. Cleaning the old house  and getting the last bits out is proving to be a MUCH bigger task then we thought. Jayme’s bedtime is at 8:00pm so we have a very small window to do anything at the old place before we have to feed, bath and bed the little one. This upside down schedule has been murder for the Dad’s and made the transition to the new house much harder on Jayme. In the end we decided to only have one person at the old house and keep Jayme at the new and on his normal schedule. But this added more issues as doing the work alone after working hard all day slowly draining our will and we are really starting to doubt this move.

But the end is within sight. Easter weekend we are going to be all done and have a nice family weekend with NO DRAMA or house work!

 

 

Jayme’s 8th Birthday

jayme-invite-8th

This year with our plans to start the adoption process over again and buy a new home, We decided not take Jayme to Disney World for his birthday again.  We would only take him down in the fall for Food and Wine and Mickey’s not so scary Halloween party. We are such cruel parents.

Jayme’s wanted another big birthday party and the Dad’s were more than happy to fulfill the request. But just like last year Jayme’s birthday landed on a weekday. In our world this means two (2) birthday events that had to be planned. We had a long talk with him and let him know that we could have a special family only dinner on his birthday and on party day we would go all out. Jayme was fine with the plan; he even knew where he wanted to eat on his birthday… the Cheesecake factory. He kept calling it the cake place, but we knew what he meant.

The night before his birthday we pulled out his life journal and looked at all of the photos of when he was younger. It was a nice way to sum up and take a pause on his life’s journey. He got to do a little reflection and so did the Dad’s. But it was so hard to tuck our 7 year old into bed that night, knowing that the next day he would be 8, and our 7 year old would be gone forever.

The next morning we woke Jayme up with the Birthday song and his favorite breakfast (German pancakes with lots of lemon juice). The night before Anthony and Jayme had haircuts, so after breakfast we got to put up Jayme’s new hair style a mini little faux hawk. Super cute we sent our 8 year old off to school.

It was kind of a well-managed military style maneuver getting all three of us to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner that evening. Anthony driving in from Camas, Joshua had to make a cross town trek from Lloyd center to Milwaukee then across town again to Washington town center.

Jayme had only one real request for dinner, he wanted dessert first. So when our waitress came around we all ordered dessert first. Jayme ordered a huge slice of triple chocolate cake. Joshua ordered a yummy coffee cheesecake and Anthony had the strawberry cheesecake. As we waited for our first course of desserts to arrive the table next to us was surrounded by waiters and they all sang the happy birthday song to someone. It was a little bit after that Jayme started to worry that he would not get the same treatment. About 10 mins later our desserts arrived and with it a small army of waiters who also sang happy birthday to Jayme, he was thrilled!

We decided to skip getting main course meals and instead opted for a small feast of appetizers. Jayme can be a picky eater, but he had ate a little bite of everything we ordered. By the end of the meal we all were very full and Jayme was getting tired and so were we. So we got what was left boxed up and we headed for home.

Home, we let Jayme open one of this birthday presents (we had a small pile for him to pick from). He picked the biggest of course which turned out to be a Disney fireworks maker, you point it at the ceiling and it makes firework images with fun firework sounds. We of course loaded up the real Disney fireworks music for him and he was making Disney magic before bed.

Party Day

The big party day arrived. We had a 3:00pm table reservation so we headed out early to the rink. Arriving at 2:00pm we checked in and Joshua and Jayme got their skates and hit the rink. Anthony stood watch by the door keeping an eye out for any of our party guests.

We had confirmations from 7 adults and 2 kids, but at 2:55pm no one had arrived yet. While Jayme skated we started to come up with some back up plan of how we would save the party with just the three of us. It was then a small boy and a Mom arrived at the front door holding one of our birthday invitations. Then a few moments later another Mom and child and then before we could even point to the table everyone showed.

In total we had 4 kids (two from Jayme’s class), our family friend two Grand kids (whom we traveled to Disneyland with), two of Jayme’s teachers and many family friends. In fact the pile of presents was a bit overwhelming.

We got all the kids down at the table. Each kid had a bag of cotton candy, a balloon hat, ice cream and soda. Then came Jayme’s cake and all the kids sang to him… it was too cute. After the feast Jayme opened his mountain of presents. Anthony then handed out all of the goodie bags he made for them. Like last year we tried to put some good stuff in them. Some colorful rubber bouncy balls, a metal ring puzzle, 2 wacky pencils, a coloring book, a packet of seeds to plant and a bottle of bubbles.

We then all hit the rink. Jayme headed right back out and it took a bit of reminding to hang out with his guests. But once we connected with them he didn’t stray too far from the group.

The weird upside to the party was being able to connect with the other parents and the kids from Jayme’s class. One of the kidos who came is a classmate of Jayme’s who… well lets say Jayme has some very strong feelings about. It was so nice that at the party they both were able to have some real positive interactions with each other outside of the school setting. Fingers cross that on Monday that keeps going.

But talking with the two mom’s was great, both of us are looking forward to running into them at future school events and birthday parties.

The party ended in the video arcade, with the two moms, Joshua and Anthony all feeding the kids quarters. Everyone had a great time! It was a great 8th birthday celebration!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Popcorn

pop

With a week to go before moving day and Jayme’s room completed we wanted to do one other room. We choose the laundry room now known as the cursed room.

We first took down the florescent work light fixture and started to remove the popcorn celling. This proved to be a HUGE job. We bought a portable water sprayer and put down 2 layers of plastic sheeting on the floors. Jayme and Joshua sprayed and Anthony scraped, and scraped and scraped.

At the end Anthony was covered head to toe in wet white goop. It was a hard call what looked worse the floor or Anthony. But thanks to the double layer of plastic sheeting the floor cleaned up very easily. So I guess Anthony looked the worse!  The whole process took 2 hours if you count prep and clean up.

Step two was to add a ceiling fan. This involved making a whole bunch of holes. Our first hole was around the old light fixture. We wanted to look up and see if we could just add a light/fan combo unit. But we found out that the ceiling joists ran the wrong way. So we had no way to run the venting to an outside wall. With the laundry room backing up to the garage we thought we might be able to vent into the garage and the out to an outside wall. Again this proved undoable.

Third hole we cut a large corner piece of the ceiling out hoping it would land under a little secret utility room we found between the master bathroom and the garage. But it too did not appear to be achievable. A bit heartbroken and tired Jayme and Joshua headed out to find lunch as we had spent the whole morning trying to find a spot for the ceiling vent.

While the boys found lunch Anthony keep drilling holes. First one landed just on the inside of the Master bedroom but only 6 inches from the wall and the secret utility room behind it. It was a true EUREKA moment. The last pilot hole landed in the secret room!

The solution for the venting had us cut a 6 inch hole in the floor of that secret room and running insulated ducting from the fan location through the floor, into the secret room then out into the garage attic space then finally to an outside wall.

Next was a trip to Home Depot, were they now know us by our first names. We picked up the wall paint, wall patches, joint compound, a ceiling fan, double wall light switch, 15 feet of wire, 25 feet of insulated venting, a 4 inch hole bit, new switches and a new wall switch plate.

We had to cut two final holes in the popcorn free celling to allow us access to run the wires and expand the light switch box. Running the wire proved to be the easy part. Rewiring 2 switches for 3 hours was beyond us. Now in fairness two ourselves we ran into 2 messed up issues. First, the switch was wired in series and once we finished adding our new line the downstairs bathroom wall plug stopped working and second the old box was very narrow. Took us 3 trips to Home Depot before we found the right type of box to install that would work. Luckily we had our main fuse box scheduled to be replaced the next day and Joshua was able to ask them to figure out why the second plug stopped working. Turns out it had nothing to do with our perfect wiring job. A tripped GFCI outlet on the 2nd floor was the issue. Itwould have taken us years to figure that out!

Once we had installed the fan and Anthony nearly cut off his finger and gave the required blood offering to the demons living in our cursed laundry room, we wired up the fan and switched it on. We bought a super quiet version since the cat box was destined for this room and we normally have it running 24-7. We turned it on and the first thing we noticed was it sounded loud. Looking at it we noticed that the fan drum looks lopsided. So the curse strikes again, clearly more blood was needed to appease the spirts. At some point we have to take it apart and see if we can re-center it. The troubleshooting shooting book has the how to… but we just have not had the time to fix it yet.

Anthony spent 2 days patching the ceiling and sanding it smooth. But as we got to the night before the move we just didn’t have the strength or will power to stay up all night painting. So we decided that we could just push the washer and drying into the middle of the room and at some point paint around them.

After the movers left we plugged in the washer and you guessed it, it didn’t work. A $275.00 house call later we had a working washer. Jayme and Anthony painted the room changing it from a ugly peach to refreshing light blue called “refresh”.

The last item will be the new blinds for the room, we have them but we are feeling a little blood weak, so we dare not risk it now.

A new house and a new plague

house

 

We signed on our new home on Wednesday February 27th. The signing was in Beaverton and took about 40 minutes of writing our names over and over again. An adult version of lines… punishment for some unknown infraction.

Thursday evening we met our realtor at our new home and she handed over the keys. It was a painful event, as both Joshua and I were sick as dogs. Both of us had called into work sick and we spent the whole day in bed asleep. So no celebration over our house just body aches, fever, congestion, tummy &  plumbing issues (trying not to be gross). This was the first sign that we had purchased a CURSED house.

The first weekend with our new cursed home we pushed past our sickness and did too much. We started in Jayme’s room. Four coats of magnetic paint and 2 pints of TARDIS blue and Jayme now as a place to stick up all of his artwork. We also repainted all of his trim, door, ceiling and walls. Added new a new light switch new plug sockets covers and door hardware. Jayme’s room has become test room for our color scheme for the whole house…. and we LOVE IT.

Joshua fixed the dining room light switch, it made scary crackling sounds (another sign of the curse?). It now is a very cool dimmer with light level programing. Yeah… he geeked it. He also got a temporary fix for our garage opener and rekeyed all the exterior door locks.

Knowing that Jayme is too little to really help with the heavy lifting on move day, we decided that doing Jayme’s room first and filling it with his toys would give him a place to go that us not under foot. So we have moved his computer to the new house and most of his toys. But that doesn’t mean Jayme is not helping or wanting to help. Anthony had Jayme help remove all the base trim from his bedroom, Anthony gave him a special hammer to use, the hammer that Anthony’s Grandfather gave to him when he was a bit younger then Jayme. Yes… the hammer is being handed down again and Jayme is THRILLED to have his own hammer. Yes, Anthony cried.

We had been concerned about Jayme signing off on the house. We have been looking for a year and he has only been excited when we would look at a home with a swimming pool. Any other time and he would state that he did not want to move. Who could blame him, this kido has been moved around from foster home to foster home. So we have been doing a lot of work to make him feel apart of the process, so he has the feeling of control. And all the way up to the signing he flat out told us that he did not want to move.  So we have had out fingers crossed for the past week. We didn’t know if all our extra work with Jayme would pay off. That is until we drove down the hill from our house to our rental one evening. Anthony said “ok let’s get in the car and head home” Jayme climbed into his booster seat and said “Dad, this is our home, we just rent the other place.”.

DeSoren Abbey UPDATE

Right now we are at the furthest point we have ever been in the home buying process. For the past 3 years we have rented a wonderful 3 bedroom townhouse. But the townhouse has some issues; It is near the freeway which means we have that car/ocean noise, There is also very little area for Jayme to play outside, and as Jayme as grown larger the townhouse has grown smaller and smaller to the point that adding another child would make our living conditions VERY cramped.

But we found a new house that would fix all of these issues. 4 bedrooms, on a super quiet culdesac, large kitchen/family room, land for gardening and for Jayme to play outside. It’s also still in Happy Valley and more importantly in Jayme’s school district. it’s also very close to where we live now, just a bit further up the mountain.

Anthony found the house online. It was priced a bit above the price range we had been looking at all of last year, but not above our budget. Deb our realtor took us over and right away both of us loved it.  When we found out that the neighborhood had a annual Christmas lights contest everyone was all in.

We placed an offer and began a biding war with a stubborn computer. The home is bank owned and the bank uses an online bidding process. Nice thing is you get an answer every morning at 6am. But your talking to a computer and not someone you can really barter with. The computer knows only numbers and the minimum offer it can take. It took several offers before we found the right offer combination that worked for us and we accepted the computers counter.

Next step was to inspect the place. We all drove over to the house on a Saturday afternoon and got to watch the sewer line be inspected. The inspector lowers (shoves) a camera on a hose down into the bowels of the house and inspects the pipes all the way to the city sewer. The best thing is we got to see it live AND he gave us a DVD to take home and watch again and again. Who needs Netflix when we have sewer inspection video! Our pipes passed with flying colors.

Next inspection was the full home inspection. The inspector came out and found a few things that we got us a bit worried. First the grading on the backside of the house is a slight hill. There was some concerns about water run off and the foundation, but no was damage found. Second was the fuse box, which turns out is a Federal Electric, we have been told that they tend to catch fire. The final issue relates to the first. Under the house the plastic sheeting has been torn and there is some standing water and debris on the plastic. The inspector could not tell where the water had come from. There were no signs of leaks in the foundation and no rot under the house.

So we knew we had some landscaping, some cleaning and a new fuse box to have installed. We got an estimate on how much it would be to clean out the crawl space install new plastic tarp. Then asked the bank to make the repairs and with a shock they came back with an offer to knock some money off the agreed sales price. Thrilled we accepted. We now just need to set some of that savings aside and make the repairs before we move in.

Last step was loan appraisal and now we are waiting for the loan paperwork and our signing date. We have been told it will be in the last week of February. So come March we might be homeowners.

 

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.

 

 

Jayme’s trip to Salt Lake City

So after our family Christmas, it was time to fly off to the winter wonderland of Salt Lake City.

We all woke early, Anthony had to head out to work and Joshua and Jayme had to finish their last minute packing.

Joshua and Jayme drove to the MAX parking lot and transferred to the MAX. It took about 50 minutes to get to the airport but Jayme loves riding the MAX. Jayme did wonder why the green line didn’t just continue to the airport. After picking up some snacks and COFFEE, we were able to board our non-stop Delta flight.

We recently counted and this was Jayme’s 8th airplane flight since he moved in with us. And as normal he did great.. a very uneventful flight. Much to Jayme’s delight it was snowing in SLC.

After we got our bags and found our rental car we headed off to meet the whole clan. Jayme was really excited to see everyone and quickly went to work making himself the center of attention. He was super excited to see Uncle Sam again and kept asking where cousin Aspen was. We had a nice family dinner at Eve’s house and it was great being with the whole family for a late Christmas.

On Thursday Jayme went out with Uncle Sam while Josh, Shiloh and Taylor caught up and played at being adults. Jayme went sledding and made snow angels.. He really loves the snow it was a lot of hard work keeping him out of it  he kept saying he wanted to go play outside in it.

Friday, we spent with Shiloh as he had the day off. Guess what we had for lunch! Jayme’s favorite,  pizza. Joshua also found out that he had been living in Oregon for way to long as driving was a real challenge. Yes he knows how to drive in the snow. But apparently getting the car over 65 mph (70) is the challenge. Speeding is just not done in Oregon.. We spent a nice quiet day with Shiloh and then picked up Taylor from work. After that we headed back to the grand parents house and spent a nice quiet evening at home..

Saturday was a blast as his cousin Aspen had come down and they were so happy to play together. You could hear them throughout the house just singing and dancing have a great time. Saturday was also the Baby shower so after we dropped the girls off the boys went bowling. Joshua plays great with the bumpers on, Jayme does not need them. Jayme was thrilled that he was spending so much time with his uncles and that Shiloh taught him how to throw the ball really fast. Of course he kept saying that this was nothing like the video game and how he is much better at that.

After bowling we headed back up to the baby shower and Aspen and Jayme played around a bit more with some of the toys. After going and renting ski equipment, for Sunday,  we headed back to the grandparents and set up for dinner and presents. Nothing like a second present opening to make the kids go wild. Jayme didn’t seem to quite grasp that this was also more for Aspen as she had spent Christmas with her Mom and now was spending it with her dad. It’s really hard to explain to Jayme why she had all of these presents and why he had so few (at least in his eyes… all of his presents filled one suitcase on the way home). He was really enthused by the model train set (paintable hobby thingy), and the legos, and the new game of operation (from Aunt Daisy).

Sunday was ski day. Jayme had never gone skiing before and this was a real treat for him. For fun Uncle Shiloh and Josh switched kids. Josh took Aspen out and did different runs while Shiloh started the process of french fries and pizza.  Jayme had a blast and by the end of the day was making it down the hill without falling. Maybe later this year we will have to take him out on the mountains in Oregon.

Monday we went and played with Aspen again at Uncle Shiloh and Taylor’s house.  After a while Grandma showed up and we went out to one of her favorite Vietnamese places for lunch. Jayme tried everything and ate really well considering how picky he can be. That night we met up with cousin Nova and Uncle Sam and went out to the movies for Monsters Inc. in glorious 3D..

On New Years day, we left Salt Lake and headed home. We had a great trip and enjoyed seeing all of our family and friends. Next year Christmas will be in Portland (hopefully).

 

 

 

Christmas 2012

It’s hard to believe that this is our second Christmas with Jayme.

Last year, Grandma & Grandpa and Cousin Kristen all came up for the holidays. We had planned that this year, we would expand that to include all the uncles and our new sister in law. We had big dreams of a huge Christmas dinner, TONS of Anthony & Jayme’s fruitcake (see shutterfly for video) and all of the family here in Portland together.

But we ran into one small problem… pregnancy. Who knew a 2 dad home would have to worry about that!

It seems that Doctors frown on very pregnant women flying. So that meant Aunt Taylor and Uncle Shiloh could not attend. But we knew we had to get the family together, with Uncle James being transferred from his naval base back east to Guam for several years, this was the last chance for a long time to have all 4 brothers together Christmas. So with Taylor and little baby to be, Rowan, grounded in Salt Lake, we knew we have to give up on our Portland Christmas dream and  move it to Salt Lake City. The tough part was that with Anthony just starting a new job, we also knew all three of us could not go. So a plan was created to keep our family unit together for Christmas and then on Boxing Day Jayme and Joshua would fly out.

With just the three of us, Christmas was as low key as Joshua could get away with. Anthony and Jayme LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas. Everything must be decorated, there must be homemade fudge, cookies, divinity and fruitcake. The tree needs at least 4000 lights on it or it looks dull. It seems that Poor Joshua loses the War on Christmas a little more every year.

4 years ago, the two of us lived in co-op that required every home be lit for Christmas. So we had a “small” investment in exterior holiday lights when we relocated to our condo. That first Christmas we were the only ones to bedazzled our home. This year we were one of the last to get our lights up. Seems that we were trend setters.

For our tree this year, we skipped the tree lots and joined in on a large group Tree Hunt. We all traveled all the way to Mt. Hood to a U-Cut tree farm. They had a nice pancake breakfast with juice and hot chocolate. We teamed with Suzanne and her grandkids, Jaden and Ava. The drive was worth it as Jayme got to pick his own tree, something he took very seriously.

When it came time to cut down the tree, Jayme insisted that HE would chop his own tree down. For the full week prior he had been talking up how he was going to cut the tree, and how it would fall. He had it all worked out. With some careful instructions from the tree farmer, Jayme got to saw away on the tree… for a few minutes. It was very cute, but it didn’t take long before Jayme consented/requested into letting the nice man with the gas powered chainsaw cut it down for us.

Christmas day was again a great day for our family. But it started off a bit bumpy the night prior. Jayme was SO excited for Santa’s visit, getting to sleep was just not possible. We had put Jayme down at his normal bedtime but hours later, he kept coming out and asking if it was morning yet or if Santa had come yet. Jayme still believes in Santa, or rather wants to.

At one point we thought we had him down, so we started sneaking the presents down from our room to the tree. While Joshua kept watch on Jayme’s door, Anthony arranged the presents and filled the stockings. At some point Jayme awoke and walked over to his door. Upon opening it he saw Joshua, who was guarding it… they both promptly screamed in fright…. TOO FUNNY.

Christmas morning we had fresh homemade waffles and POG. The unwrapping ceremony was shorter then last year. With just the three of us it was hard not to let Jayme go nuts. Again we spoiled him, getting him WAY to many things, but as was pointed out to us while he was in Foster care Jayme was never spoiled, just the opposite.  So he has earned a few years of being showered with love and presents.

The best moment of the day was when Jayme got his final present. Right after everyone woke up and while Anthony was making breakfast, Joshua took Jayme out to pick up Starbucks. This gave Anthony the time he needed to move Jayme’s final gift from it’s hiding place into Jayme’s room. Once we had finished opening all the gifts around the tree we started to clean up and all  three of us headed up to Jayme’s room carrying his new stuff. With Jayme leading the way he didn’t notice Anthony video taping him as the ascended the stairs or turning the corner into his room.

As Jayme ascended the stairs he was talking about which Lego set he was going to open first and then he turned the corner. The only thing he said was “What the”. There sitting on the table that we had moved into his room the week prior was a new to him silver shiny iMac with Star Wars Angry Birds playing on it’s screen. He set down all of his new toys that moments ago had meant the world to him and made a beeline for his new computer.

We had found the computer on Ebay, it was used and needed a memory upgrade. But it was just what Jayme needed. We spent a week of evenings locked in the closet of our bedroom loading educational software, adding hardware, locking down websites and programing the parental controls. We struggled for a while, if a computer was a good present for a 7 year old, but he is so drawn to electronics that we felt that giving his him own computer would give him an edge over other students and force him to improve his reading skills.

The rest of the day was spend playing with our new toys, watching Christmas movies and getting ready for SLC…