12/21/2012 THE END OF THE WORLD

Today was of course the end of the world. So every television station and online news article all day long has spoken of nothing but the end of the world.

It was after dark and Jayme and I were upstairs in the Dad’s bedroom playing Battleship (the board game), also known as the game that Jayme cheats at.

We had Netflix playing a kids show on the TV, more for background noise then anything else. Both of us were into our game. We first noticed something wrong when the TV flashed and then turned off. We turned it back on and kept playing. Then less then 60 seconds later ALL THE LIGHTS in the house turned off. But it was not just the lights… everything turned off. We had lost all power to the house.

In less then half a second both Battleship game boards and all those wonderful little plastic ships and white and red colored pegs were flying through the air as Jayme jumped from the floor onto the bed (and into Anthony’s arms). In that same half second Anthony wondered “Was the world about to end?

It took a few minutes to calm Jayme down. The first thing we did was to assess if the world was ending or if we just blew a fuse. From the bedroom window we could see downtown and they seemed to still have power. But our area seemed to be joined in our mutual darkness. But that didn’t really matter. Recently Jayme has been displaying a real fear of the dark. So this WAS the end of the world in Jayme’s book.

His fear of the dark is something he has not shown us before. We have talked to all the smart people and they have told us not to worry. Jayme had some serious developmental delays that he picked up while in foster care. So we know we should expect some behaviors that mesh more with a younger child. But the good news is he is catching up.

Jayme’s first reaction was that we needed to go get in the car, not to escape the coming zombie apocalypse or to drive and get Joshua. But purely because car has lights not connected to the Pacific Power grid, he is a smart little kido.

For me the thoughts going through my head were of that scene from Deep Impact. The one when they all know they are going to die and Laura Innes character decides it is  better to wait in the child day care center at her work, because that is where her daughter is most comfortable… as they wait for the planet to be destroyed. So I took her lead and gathered up the flashlights and took Jayme to his room.

Once in his bedroom we crashed on his bed and powered up the flashlights. Jayme decided that to be extra safe we should but some stuff in front of the door, so bad guys can’t get us. We then turned on our iPads and watched Cars 2. Because that is what you do when the world is about to end, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2012

By tradition (meaning we have done it 2 times or more), we should have been flying down to Phoenix for a family Thanksgiving. But this year the Grandparents decided not to hold the annual Turkey/BBQ feed and instead hold a big family Christmas event in Salt Lake City. So we had to fend for ourselves. Enter a new family tradition; Thanksgiving alone, but alone as a family.

Anthony and Jayme started the cooking adventure Wednesday night with the cooking of the pumpkin pie. Early on, Anthony decided to let this be Jayme’s adventure with minimal adult intervention. Jayme always wants to help cook and mix things, so we took this chance to let him be in charge and take some ownership of the Thanksgiving dinner. With the exception of working the oven and helping with a few measurements, Jayme made the pie all by himself.

After the pie was in the oven, it was time to Brine our Turkey. Jayme and Anthony got down all the spices and salt. Jayme was thrilled that once again, he got to mix everything together. But the highlight was touching the dead cold turkey with his own hands and best of all he got to hold the turkey heart.

Once the morbid fascination with dead things was over, we dunked our bird into it’s bath for a overnight soak, we then all ran upstairs for our own nighttime showers and then bed.

Turkey Day morning arrived and Anthony was up first as usual. He started by cleaning up the dining room table and pulling down his Grandmother’s Thanksgiving china.

Jayme came bouncing down the stairs and began singing a Happy Thanksgiving Day song that he had just created. Then after a breakfast of pumpkin pancakes and some morning cartoons, Jayme was ready to cook.

Like the pumpkin pie, Anthony let Jayme be in-charge of the cranberry sauce (apart from operating the stove). Jayme used the orange juicer to squeeze out the orange juice, and used the zester on the orange peel. He measured out the sugar and then mixed everything together. After Anthony got the stove set up, Jayme stood on his little red stool and stirred the cranberry sauce until completion. Jayme was very proud of his creation.

Once Joshua was awake, he was politely shoved out the door to go get some more food. Last minute it Jayme and Anthony decided to add Disney’s Brown Derby Cobb salad to the dinner menu, we love that Cobb salad and since it was our dinner we decided to spoil ourselves. So out the door Josh must go!

We had a simple menu for dinner to prepare for:

  • Orange Carrot Jello salad
  • Disney’s Cobb Salad
  • Hawaiian Bread Rolls
  • Dressing
  • Turkey
  • Homemade Turkey Gravy
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sugared Yams
  • Candy Carrots
  • Glazed Ham

We had invited Joshua’s boss and longtime friend, John, to come and have dinner with us. But when we learned that he was still sick and not coming, we decided to kill the ham from our menu and save it for Sunday dinner.

The one dish we all prepared together was the fresh whipped cream for the pumpkin pie. Joshua decided to enter the kitchen and try to teach Jayme how to make whipped cream on Anthony’s new mixer. Ever watch the movie the Color Purple? Remember the scene when Mister decides to cook breakfast for Shug? Yeah…. enough said. Luckily Anthony was quick enough to make them use the plastic mix guard or it would have been a real fun mess.

The fun continued when Josh and Jayme offered to peel the potatoes. They decided to peel directly into the sink, with the plan to use the food disposal to grind up the peels. It was a great plan until the sink got clogged and Anthony had to go get the plunger. But with effort and great determination, Joshua was able to get the clog removed from the drain and the Great Thanksgiving Sink Crisis of 2012 was adverted. We have never had any positive experinaces with our kitchen sink. A few months ago, Joshua broke the handle on the faucet and it was a 6 hour DYI nightmare to replace it. Perhaps it’s more fair to say, Joshua has never had any positive experinaces with our kitchen sink.

At 3:30pm the bird was done, golden brown and delicious looking. We all took a break from cleaning and cooking and everyone headed off to watched TV for an hour or two. Jayme’s new TV show is the 1950’s show Dennis the Menace. There is something about that show that Jayme really relates too. We think it is because the kid is always getting in trouble but never means to. Jayme has found he has a lot of similarities with Dennis. As he watches the show he will jump up and yell smiling for ear to ear, “That is just like me!”. The funny thing is we see it too!

Jayme enjoys a lot of 50’s and 60’s tv shows. The dialog is very straight forward, the plots simpler and the actors verbalize and over describe what is happening. It’s all very helpful for Jayme to process what is going on and enjoy it.

After our break, Jayme ran upstairs and decided to layout his special Thanksgiving clothing. He chose a bright orange long sleeve t-shirt, the brown linen pants Grandma sent him and a white short sleeve oxford dress shirt. Jayme loves to dress up for special events and it was so cute to see him put so much effort into his wardrobe, without even being asked. This was a far cry from Thanksgiving a last year when we had to force Uncle Sam into a dress shirt for dinner.

With everyone dressed up and the table set, we served out the food. Even though Jayme made most of the food, his picky eating skills took over. He had two bites of his turkey leg, a few bites of his cranberry sauce, one bite of his salad, and a few bites of everything else. But he had no problems eating 3 hawaiian rolls, 4 large glasses of sparkling apple cider and a large slice of his pumpkin pie. Since it was Thanksgiving the Dad’s didn’t worry to much about it and just enjoyed our dinner together as a family.

After dinner Anthony and Jayme made up a care basket from the leftovers and pushed Joshua out of the house again to drop it off to John who was sick and could not make it to dinner. While Joshua was on his mission of mercy, Anthony and Jayme sat down on the couch and watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving specials on Blu ray.

We ended the evening with a wonderful little surprise from Jayme. He asked for a bedtime story and when we tucked him in; Jayme read the story to us. We worked so hard over the summer break to get his reading up and now he is really doing it. It just made our day!

We have so much to be thankful for this year, but the biggest thing we are the most thankful for is Jayme in our lives.

PS. Photos are up on Shutterfly for those who wish to see them.,

Fall 2012 Update

So here we are again playing catch up with our family blog. This time instead of trying to make a blog out of each event we failed to post, get ready for a shorter mega blog.

 

SCHOOL UPDATE

The first big event following our road trip to Disneyland was the first day of school. Jayme returned to the same school same classroom and same teachers he had the year prior but this time as a second grader.

Jayme is in a blended special supports classroom K-3. He was so excited to get back to school. Over the summer we worked very hard on his reading and sight words. Something he could not wait to share with this teachers. After mentioning Jayme’s great new reading skills to his teachers at open house, Jayme packed in his backpack one of the books we worked on over the summer and the next day after school kept 2 of his teachers captive in front of the school until he finished reading the WHOLE book to them. He was so proud.

Since summer ended we have really seen some major growth from Jayme. Behavior wise he is making much better choices and his whole persona is much calmer and he seems to have more normal self-control. We have also seen some big physical growth, not only in height but his whole posture is different. One of his therapists even noted that he looks like he is standing taller in a figurative sense. At some point we crossed some sort of developmental growth mark. Each day our little boy fades farther and farther away and this new older kid is starting to emerge.

But with all of his growth he is still behind other kids his age. It’s funny we have had Jayme now for almost 2 years and we are still finding things that shock us… like up until today he had never had a KitKat bar.

 

DAY CARE

Since right before the school year ended in June Anthony has been the designated stay at home parent, having been laid off from work due to lack of customers and polite nepotism. This was great as it allowed us to keep Jayme home and not in a expensive summer day care. One of Anthony’s strongest summer memories was spending them at home with his Grandmother. So it all worked out great for both of them and allowed Anthony to make new memories with Jayme.

But once Jayme was back in school, the boredom of staying home alone was too much to bear and Anthony found a new job. It was not until after he was hired that both of us realized that it has been almost 2 years since both of us worked full time at the same time (our wallets noticed but we had not). Since the day Jayme moved in at least one of us (if not both) has been on leave, part-time or reduced hours. Without really planning to we kinda rewired how our family runs… again.

Anthony’s new job has him traveling all over the Portland area and working different hours week to week. While the money is about the same as his old job (for now) the benefits are better and he has great advancement prospects. But it also requires him to dress up like a grownup; suits and business casual. No more jeans and sandals with socks for Anthony.. well at least not on a work day.

Each morning now Joshua or Anthony (depending on schedule) drives Jayme up the hill to the school bus and after school Jayme heads to day care.

Putting Jayme in a mainstream daycare has been something we have been VERY nervous about. Jayme is still working on learning some of the interaction skills that kids his age use and when he get confused or upset he tends to blow his top. So we were quite nervous about daycare. We spoke with all of Jayme’s teachers and therpists in length and they all said “Let’s try and see what happens.” Not the comforting words one might want to hear, but truthful ones none the less.

Anthony did a tour of the day care and met with the staff. They all seemed to be on the level and well skilled. So that afternoon Anthony and Jayme did a drive by of the day care so Jayme could see the day care from afar. The following day Anthony and Jayme stopped by for a short visit. Jayme got to meet the staff, the kids and tour the day care. He seemed pretty ok and the staff interactions with him were very positive. The very next day we did a dry run and Jayme did a 2 hour visit alone and did great.

As of this blog we are a week into daycare and no issue to report yet. He seems to really like the daycare and while he can not name any of his new friends, he does state he has made some new ones.

 

2013 ELECTION

On a funny note, we should mention that we are a few days out from the 2012 elections. Our family has watched each of the Presidential debates and we have tried to express the importance of voting and being politically informed to Jayme. Even let him help with our mail in ballots. The funny thing is Jayme made his mind up on who his Presidential choice was without any help from us. Jayme is an Obama supporter. He watched most of the first debate with us and half way through decided that Romney was a bully and was not using his manners and “he should get in trouble for that”. Since that night he has been very vocal about his support for the President, even getting into a debate with his bus driver telling her all about how great Obama is. Out of the mouths of babes…

Disneyland Road Trip 2012

The Lovely Suzanne and I have been talking about taking a joint family trip to Disney together for over 10 years. Every time we would travel south to Califonia on some court trip Suzanne would tell me about how someday she would like to take her Grandkids with us and do a Disney trip. Each time I would relate to her the tales of one of our family trips to World or Land, she would say someday. So this time when I spotted a cheap hotel package and told her about it, she finally to my surprise, pushed the GO button.

 

DAY ONE

The trip itself officially started at 5:00am with me jumping out of bed to wake up Jayme. Having packed the night before, all we had to do was eat breakfast and wait for the van to arrive.

At 6:30am they arrived; The Lovely Suzanne her husband Robert, her son-in-law and her two grandchildren, ages 5 and 9. We quickly loaded the car and I started down I-205 to I-5 and the 11 hour drive to Sacramento. Suzanne had offered to wave Jayme and my share of the fuel expences if I played chauffeur, something I was more then happy to do as I love to drive. Our plan was to stop over in Sacramento for the night and break the driving into two days, for the kids’ sake and our own.

We made better time than our online maps had predicted, and arrived in Ashland for lunch at the Wild Goose cafe and bar. Not someplace I would recommend, but we were hungry and it was there.

We made a few stops along the way down, mostly to allow the kids a chance to run off their energy. But the extreme heat kept most of our stops short.

By 8:00pm we broke past the Sacramento city limits. As we hit the city limits, we also crossed the kids toleration for the day. The three of them got louder and louder and started to sound drunk. So we rushed as fast as we could to make it to the hotel and by 8:30pm we were checked in and resting by the pool. When we left Portland it was in the upper 60’s, in Sacramento it was pushing over 104. Our hotel was the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham; at $69.00 a night with free breakfast, it was a great budget saver.

We had a nice visit pool side with an old friend Misha, who now lives in Sacramento and then headed back to Suzanne’s hotel room for a late night pizza feast. The pizza box was quite a bit better tasting then the hotel pizza. But everyone was hot, tired and hungry so we muched it down. Jayme and I slipped away to our room and crashed while watching the history channel.

 

DAY TWO

The next day we started out early again. Super early for me as the hotel gave me a 3am wake up call for some strange reason. But once everyone else was up, our first stop was the free breakfast at the hotel. Waffles, coffee, juice, sausage and powered eggs. Not 5 star cuisine but it was hot and filling.

As we departed Sacramento we stopped by the Amtrak station to visit the closest Starbucks to the hotel. YEAH FOR COFFEE!

The drive down to LA was a long and hot one, a shorter drive then the day before, but I was extra tired and the high temps seemed to grate on the adults more then the kids. We also had to deal with flying invaders. At each rest stop we visited somehow every fly for miles would fly into the van. All three of the kids hated the flies, but the insects really bothered Suzannes’s grandchildern a lot. So total insect extermination was critical on day two.

We got into the Anaheim area around 5pm. This was Jayme’s second trip to Disneyland and third time going to a Disney park (we did Disney World for his birthday in February) so our families excitement was NOWHERE near the levels of the rest of the party. Screaming, jumping up and down followed by tears pouring as we rounded the corner on to Harbor Blvd. For once I had to be the Disney killjoy and try and bring it down a few notches! I mean how weird is that?

We checked into our hotel, the Red Lion. Again we got a killer deal. $99.00 a night with free breakfast and free parking. Jayme and I headed up to our room, a nice 2 queen bed room in the south tower. Suzanne had called the hotel the week before, so our room was right next to the two room adjoining rooms she had purchased  for her family.

Per our family tradition, our family always has dinner in Downtown Disney on arrival day. It helps get us in the Disney mood and lets us check out the new Disney pins right away (you know Pre-Shopping). Since it was just the two if us we invited Suzanne and her family to join us for dinner at Tortilla Jo’s. The highlight of the evening was all the kids getting balloon animal hats and of course Jayme spilling his whole peach smoothy down the front of his shirt. After a great dinner and a quick clean up we headed back to the hotel and called it a night. Jayme and I again fell asleep watching the history channel.

 

DAY THREE

We woke up early the next day at 6 am sharp. Rope drop was at 8:00am and Jayme and I didn’t want to miss it or the opening show. We were joined by Suzanne’s daughter at breakfast; she flew down the night before. So we were a group of 8 as we made our way to the park. Saddly, we missed the rope drop show and fireworks by just a few minutes, but the crowd level was thankfully low. Both the boys are Star Wars fans so we made a beeline for Star Tours and had our first walk on experience of the day. The crowds were very light, in fact they turned out to be the lightest I have ever seen.

By 11:20am we had finshed all of the big Tomorrowland rides, the Haunted Mansion and the Indiana Jones ride. It was at this point the group wanted to head back to the hotel to sleep. But Jayme and I decided to stay in the park a bit longer as we normaily do our afternoon break after lunch time. So we said goodbye to our friends. Jayme and I rode the Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mt and then had a wonderful lunch at the French Market Cafe. We sat outside and listened to the Disney Jazz band play. I had the Four-Cheese Pasta & Vegetable Gratin and Jayme had the Citrus Chicken breast kids meal. We then split a big slice of chocolate cake.

After lunch, the two of us boarded the Disneyland Railroad and took it to the front of the park. We then headed back to the hotel room for our afternoon nap. When we woke we found the rest of our group still in bed so we headed back alone. Jayme and I headed back into Tomorrowland and explored Innoventions (or as Josh and I jokingly call the Orlando version “Lindsay Lohan’s Interventions”). Disneyland’s Innoventions is a bit different then Disney Worlds. While it has a few of the same OMSI type exhibits, it is mostly centered around Microsoft’s home of the near future (from 10 years ago).

The one cool thing Jayme and I found was the kids bedroom of the future. The room was empty except for one Disney cast member. She explained that this room was setup for a bedtime story from the future. She asked if we would like to hear the story of Peter Pan and we said yes. She then asked Jayme to climb into the pirate ship bed and be a pirate for the story, Jayme was THRILLED. The cast member then looked for some more kids to join us, finding none, we began our private reading.

As she read the story she had Jayme pretend to blow pixie dust, as Jayme did the walls came alive with video of blowing pixie dust. As she read, movies and shadows changed all round us matching the story. At one point the pirates fired their cannons at Peter, this was Jayme’s part. He pulled on the rope attached to a large canon on the pirate ship bed. Smoke puffed out and on the far video wall the impact of Jayme’s canon ball exploded. This was just too cool for Jayme, who had to pull the rope over and over each time aiming at a different point on the wall and each time the wall matching his aim with a nice explosion.  The story called for only one shot to be fired, but since we had a private reading the cast member let Jayme go nuts.

After the story we road several of the Tomorrowland attractions again and then headed for pizza for dinner. Right after dinner Suzanne called. She had the kids and was entering the park, her daughter and ex son-in-law were still a bit tired from their schedule change and our morning adventures.  We met up with them and watched Captain Eo, the 1980’s 4-D Michael Jackson movie. As Michael Jackson appeared on the screen, Jayme grabbed my arm and asked if that was Michael Jackson. He then said “He looks like a Girl!”.

After Captain Eo we rode the Finding Nemo Subs. All three of the kids loved it.Shortly after that we got a call and the rest of our group was in the park. While the grown-ups had a grownup break (code for smoke break), Since the the kids and I don’t smoke, I took all three of the kids up to It’s a Small World just in time to watch “the Magic, the Memories and You” projection show on the face of “it’s a small world”. With perfect timing just as the show kicked off the rest of the group joined us for a magical show.

After the show we headed down in front of the “tiny” castle for the nightly fireworks. It was an emotional moment for the ladies of our group as Disney used a song that really touched both of them. The fireworks themselves kinda paled compared to a Disney World fireworks display. But the rest of the group loved them, knowing no better.

Once the crowds started to thin out we headed back up to Fantasyland and were able to get some crowd free walk ons to several of the dark rides and Dumbo. The group then headed down towards Pirates of the Caribbean. But as we passed Big Thunder Mt and saw ZERO wait time, Jayme and I just had to ride it in the dark. Agreeing to meet up at the Pirates exit we split up. If you have never done Big Thunder at night, you need to. It’s a whole new ride at night as they don’t light up anything.

As we exited Big Thunder, Fantasmic was just finishing but we made it to the pirates ride exit and waited and waited and waited. As we waited the big voice in the sky announced that the park was closed and Jayme kinda fell apart. Jayme does not do well with fast transitions and after a full day in Disneyland it was a bit too much for him. So I sent the group a text and headed back to the hotel with Jayme.

 

DAY FOUR

The next morning we got up even earlier. But sadly everyone but Suzanne and her husband were too tired to get up with us. Which was a really big bummer, Jayme had been looking forward to hanging with his two friends and today was California Adventure with the new Car’s Land. The wait times for the new Radiator Springs Racers hits 120 minutes by 10am or even earlier. The only way to see it without losing half of your day, is to hit it early. So we skipped the free hotel breakfast and got to the bag check que at 6:30 am for a 7:00 am rope drop.  Now here is the only moment were all Disney magic almost failed us. When we got to the gate area’s there was a huge roped off area for Annual Passholders only. So we queued in the extra magic hours line (which our pass covered) we were 2nd in line. As the Gates opened the cast members started announcing that the extra morning hour starting at 7:00 am was only for hotel guests and everyone else would get in at 7:30 am. They announced this as we had our passes scanned… as they denied us entry and we stood to the side, JAYME started to lose it and frankly so did I. Thank goodness for Suzanne who asked to see a supervisor. Who once arrived a minute later, waved us in within 15 seconds.

We headed straight to Car’s Land. For those of you who have seen the movie, Disney has recreated perfectly Radiator Springs. Jayme was all smiles and so were the adults. Even falling behind at the gate we still made it to the big ride with less then a 20 minute wait. The ride itself is great. A cross between a classic Disney dark ride and EPCOT’s Test track. It was a perfect start to our day.

After the ride we rode one of the other new rides, Maters Juckyard Jamboree. Just as we got off the ride Jayme and I saw the main park opening. A wall of people flooded down into Car’s Land. It looked like those scary videos of the Japanese Tsunami making landfall, but instead of water it was a solid mass of people, packed in shoulder to shoulder, it was a controlled chaos. This swarm of people all headed to the back of the new area and Radiator Springs Racers. As we walked to breakfast we watched the wait time jump to over 1 hour and a half and really started feeling guiltly that the rest of our group was going to miss out on such a great experiance.

We headed to Flo’s V8 Cafe to drown our guilt with a great breakfast. Jayme ordered the french toast; thick cake like bread with banana’s and carmel sauce… he hated it. But everyone else loved it. Jayme ate my scrambled eggs toast and bacon.

Still feeling a little blue that the other kids had missed such a wonderful morning. So we tried to selectively target things we knew the kids would NOT like to do once they arrived s owe could share much as we could with them. First we headed up the road and rode Soar’in, Robert skipped it and head off to have a grownup break.

After the ride Suzanne headed out to join Robert on his break and Jayme and I headed over to the Redcreek Challenge Trail and worked on earning our Wilderness Explorer patch. It was great fun, Jayme climbed rockwalls, followed animal tracks and even rode a tire zipline by himself!

As we finished up Suzanne called, everyone was on their way but they had mislaid their park tickets… PANIC MODE. Thankfully by the time we made it over to the grownup break area the tickets had been found that the rest of our group was headed in.

While we waited for the group, we walked down to the boardwalk area. Jayme and I took the chance to ride all of the little rides; Goofy’s flight school and the parachute drop. By 11:00am we ended up at the Boardwalk games area. Jayme played several games of chance and won a little duck stuffed animal toy, which he named Ducky.

It was then we got 2 phone calls. One from the rest of our group, they were at the main gate and headed to the Little Mermaid ride. The second call was regarding a HUGE surprise for Jayme (you didn’t think the Dad’s could NOT let there be at least one surpise at Disney for Jayme, did you?).

So we headed up to the Little Mermaid ride, as we approached I turned to Jayme and told him I had arranged for someone to take him on California Screamer (a upside down roller coster that I loath), he asked who and I turned and pointed. There in front of us was his Dad Joshua. Jayme screamed for joy and ran to him and gave him a huge hug followed by kisses and then more hugs.

We did not originally plan on Joshua coming down with, but we found a super cheap $99 flight and the room was already paid for… in the end it was just to hard to break up the family. Of course this was not only a surprise for Jayme but for the rest of our group, as I told no one about it.

Once the family was together again the rest of our group arrived and we all road the Little Mermaid together. But as we exited there seemed to be a desire to let everyone kinda do there own thing. So Suzanne’s daughter and the kids headed one way and Suzanne and her husband orphaned, came with us.

First stop was California Screaming. Suzanne, Jayme and Joshua all rode the coaster while Robert and I scouted out a place for ice cream. We all then headed up towards the Hollywood area. On the way we stopped in to see if we could add Suzanne and Robert to our lunch reservation at Wine Country Trattoria. We had World of Color dining reservations at 1:00pm. They said they could, so we happily headed up to Muppets.

By the time we made it out of the show it was lunch time, our group made it back down to the restaurant quickly. But once there Suzanne decided not to dine with us (and commit to World of  Color, more on that in a bit) but to find her own family, which lead to a few minutes of confusion for the waitstaff and us. But it did not detract from the lunch which was great.

It was a price fixed lunch with only a few options as we ordered the World of Color package. The package gets you fast pass admission to a reserved area for the nightly World of Color show. We have done simlar packages in Disney World for Fantasmic, so we understood the value we were getting in exchange for a smaller menu. Both Joshua and I had the lasagna and Jayme ordered the kids pasta. The lasagna was great, but the kids pasta was wheat based and Jayme didn’t even touch it. Again he just ate off our plates. But the show stopper was the desserts. They brought us out 2 identical plates of little bit sized chocolates and shot glasses filled with flavored custards and mousse, and even two shortbread lolly pops cookie things. It was great! After lunch the three of us headed back to the hotel for a well earned nap.

Once we woke refreshed we headed back to the park and rode Tower of Terror. This ride is one that I have not gone on since my first trip to Disney World back in the mid 90’s. But for Jayme’s sake I did it and hated it. Jayme and Joshua of course loved it.

Once out of tower Suzanne called, she had the kids and wanted to hook back up with us. We met the four of them in Bugs Land and rode Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train… I preferred Tower of Terror. But the cool thing is the kids got to spend some fun time together and I was chosen by Suzannes granddaughter to ride with her… so I felt pretty special.

After we left Bug’s land we decided to spring for ice cream for the group. We headed over to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain. Joshua headed in a bought everyone ice cream cones. Suzanne’s grandson who has this own special needs, really had his heart set on eating ice cream from a ice cream place he saw at the front of the park. So while Joshua fed the masses, I took Suzanne’s grandson on a hunt to find Clarabell’s ice cream, which we did find. It was the same brand of ice cream that the other kids had, but he was SO happy. We took some amazing photos of the three kids pigging out on their ice cream, laughing and smiling. It was a great happy moment and one I will always remember.

After our feast we rode the Little Mermaid again (Jayme hated it) and then had to say goodbye to the group again. It was time for us to get into place for World of Color. We so wished we could have convinced the others to come with us.

Taking our waiters suggestion we arrived 1 hour prior to show time. Here is how Disney discribes it: The World of Color nighttime water spectacular weaves water, color, fire and light into a kaleidoscope of fantasy and imagination. More than 1,000 jets of water form incredible shapes in time to the music as Disney and Disney•Pixar characters come to life on a shimmering veil of mist. 

We arrived in our reserved area and were able to get right up to a metal fence that directly faced the lagoon. Within minutes of our arrival we had people standing behind us. Before the show started all the room had been filled in, we had one of the best spots for the show. The show itself is amazing and worth the wait and the lunch reservation.  We felt horrible that we could not share this with the rest of the group!

After the show we cut across back towards Car’s Land to escape the rush of the crowd leaving after the show. It gave us a chance to see Radiator Springs all lite up in neon. It also gave us a chance to buy some more Disney pins for our pin board.

Shopping completed, we headed up towards Tower of Terror and caught the last Red Line Trolly to the front of the park. From there, we headed of to our beds.

 

DAY FIVE

The three of us woke up and headed down for breakfast with the group. Suzanne’s daughter was still tired so she and her daughter stayed behind to get some more sleep. The rest of us headed over for a 2nd day in Disneyland.

Today was make up day, a day to get all the things we missed before done, and Jayme had a long list.

First stop was Star Tours followed by Matterhorn. By the time lunch rolled around Jayme had lead his two dads around the park twice. We had a snack lunch, we ordered a large meal platter at the mexican restaurant with a side order of chips. The three of us all split it and then headed back to the hotel for our afternoon nap.

We didn’t plan on it, but our last day in Disney kinda became our families alone day on the trip. Once we got back to the park we did not see or hear from the rest of the group until dinner time. I was so happy Joshua came down or it would have been a very lonely day for Jayme and me. We walked out to Downtown Disney and ate dinner at the Jazz Kitchen. Dinner was pricy and just ok, but Joshua really enjoyed the desert (Bread Pudding).

Afterwards, we rode the Monrail back in and used our last fastpass for Space Mt. and a special pass Suzanne had picked up to ride Thunder Mt. again after dark.

 

DAY SIX

The plan was to head out early the next day for Universal Studios. So we called it an early night and grabbed juice and snacks from the 7-11 and had a little TV party in our room before bedtime.

The next morning we woke up and found our group had shrunk. Suzanne’s daughter, son in law and the grandkids had all decided to skip Universal and have a hotel day. It was an expensive  decision as the tickets were non-refundable, but they were all just too tired to do another day in a park.

We had planned to rent a car since there was no room in the van for Joshua in for the ride over, but Suzanne offered to drive us over and once there they decided to stay with us.

Both Robert and Suzanne rented scooters at the park. There was just no way the two of them could have handled all of the walking and standing that park required. The upside is it let us line pass some pretty horrible lines in the direct sun. But the down side is the scooters also slowed our day down, Joshua and I have never crawled through a park so slowly before. So it was a very different experience for us, not bad, just differnt. It did made us both very grateful that we still have full use of our legs for hopefully a few more decades.

We rode the Simpsons, the Mummy, the new amazing transformers ride and even Jurassic Park. Once we had knocked those out we had essentially done the park. Universal Studios California is NOTHING like the one in Florida, it’s tiny and everything is so on top of each other. No Men in Black, no Harry Potter, no Islands of Adventure and their CityWalk is more of a town mall then a hip shopping and dining area. It is also a theme park with very little foliage. No matter were we went there was no shade, something the park tried to cover up with mist fans every 30 feet. But this park was just too dang HOT. Jayme, Suzanne and myself all got some sort of heat sickness throughout the day.

The famous Universal tram ride is now a dull ride through the heat. With the exception of the new 4-D King Kong part of the ride (which was amazing). All in all it was just hot and boring. We ended our day with the Shrek movie ride (same as the one in Florida) and a little bit of shopping. It was a fun day, but we will not be going back to Universal for a long time. The Florida version is just so much better and even that one we only visit every other trip.

 

DAY SEVEN

The next morning our trip was coming to an end. The three of us woke early and drove to LAX and dropped Joshua off for his early morning flight. Once back at the hotel Jayme and I skipped the hotel breakfast in favor of IHOP. Jayme ordered chocolate pancakes and I had a nice omelet. We also had the pleasure of having Robert and Suzanne join us for breakfast.

After breakfast Jayme and I checked out of the hotel and loaded our bags into the van. We then headed over to Downtown Disney, Jayme had been good for the whole trip and really really wanted one of the RIDE MAKER remote control cars. So with Joshua’s permission, I caved, and we got one for him. He got to pick the shell, pick the wheels and even pick the engine type.

It was just after 12:30 when we left and Suzanne was back from dropping her daughter off at the airport so she picked the two of us up, saving us a long walk in the sun.

Once back at the hotel the two of us played around in the hotel and the van as we waited for the rest of our group to finish packing and check out. Once we all were loaded we headed back up the I-5 highway.

Now for the horror movie portion of our trip. There was a detour off I-5 due to some constuction and we ended up on Highway 99. Right before we reached Sacramento the kids needed an emergency pit stop. I pulled off the highway and followed the gas signs to what looked like a gas station from a zombie horror movie.

All the neon was off, the little store had a single bare lit lightbulb. We pulled around to the side of the station to the restrooms and exited onto the set… ahh I mean the park area. A row of broken telephone booths lined the wall, some with what looked like poo scattered around for effect. The bathrooms were in even worst shape. The overhead windows were broken with huge angled holes in the glass, moths and flies swarming overhead, darting in and out of the broken windows and the scary greenish neon bathroom ceiling light. And just to make it all that much more weird and scary, strange pooka music called to us from out of nowhere in the darkened field next to the station.

Those who had to go did, but as Jayme and I finished up a homeless man walked up to Suzanne’s granddaughter and mentioned how pretty she was and how she would “make a real pretty grandmother someday”. This caused her Dad to quickly remove her from the area and back into the van. We quickly all got back in the van and made a new land speed record back to the highway!

We made it to Sacramento a bit later then we had planned to. But so relieved to have made it there alive. We stayed at the Hawthorn Suites again.

 

LAST DAY

The next morning we started a bit later but still pretty early for the group. We made really good time on our drive home… that is until we hit Ashland again.

From the backseat we hear Jayme saying “My stomach hurts, I am going to throw up.” I do a frantic lane change and start aiming for the exit. But… I was not quick enough. Not only did Jayme throw up, he did a Linda Blair explosion of throw up. We found a gas station and I stripped Jayme down, changed his clothing and calmed him down. Suzanne with her years as a super waitress took charge of van clean up, she was a pro!

The small miracle was the two other kids just sat in the car completely unfazed by the whole event. It wasn’t until we were back on the road that they even seemed to notice.

We made it back home in time for dinner. Jayme and I had a wonderful time, but Jayme never wants to do a road trip again. He might be right… well at least not on a full stomach.

P.S. All of the trip photos are up on Shutterfly if you want to see!

Fourth of July

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

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

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

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

Last day of school (and work)

 

This past school year just blew by. Seems like we just did Halloween cupcakes for the class and now it was June and the school year was over and done… and so was Anthony’s job. Anthony got laid off to make payroll room for the boss’ son (who’s unemployment had run out) to come back to work. At first it was a huge panic and emergency. But then we realized with Anthony being at home it meant Jayme would not have to enter a speical behavioral day care ($$$) for the summer. So the normal feelings that come with losing a job of 10 years, kinda didn’t really manifest. It was almost the best thing that could have happened.

Anthony’s last day was the week before Jayme’s, so with lots of new extra time on his hands, Anthony volunteered to help out for the last day of school. First we donated the supplies to make edible gardens. Oreo cookies, chocolate pudding,  several bags of gummy worms and other gummy bugs, green colored coconut grass and a whole bunch of fake flowers.

Anthony arrived about 12:30pm and got to watch the class work on the gardens. It was a lot of fun watching Jayme’s class make their little pudding gardens and then in 5 seconds destroy them and devour them all.

After garden time there was a planned fire drill. Anthony got to follow the kids out to the field for the last fire drill of the year. One funny/not funny moment happened at the end of the fire drill. All the kids were told to sit down and watch a little flash mob the teachers put together for the school. During the show one of the kids in Jayme’s class had ant’s in his pants and could not sit still or sit down. This was to be excepted as all of the kids in Jayme’s class have some sort diagnosis that would normally explain why a kid would have ant’s in his pants. The funny sad part took a few minutes for the staff and for Anthony to notice but the kid had quite litterly ANTS in his pants. It seems he sat down right on top of an ant hill… the poor little guy.

After the show and all of the ant’s and been removed the class broke up for Field day. Anthony was assigned Jayme and one of Jayme’s little classmates who they both knew well from Jayme’s birthday party and a play date at home. So the three of them headed around the field to all the different activities. First was the blow up slide, then we just had to go get bubble gun flavored snow cones, then a squirt bottle fight area, then it was throwing wet sponges at targets (Jayme’s head), T-ball, and then a rainbow parachute game (which reminded Anthony of Mr. Cronk and his own elementary school days). We ended with a potato sack race… and then the bell rang.

The end of Field day was a bit too much for Jayme who kinda fell apart and started crying. His classmate was ok but really wanted me to find him another snowcone. We headed back to the classroom and rejoined the class. Jayme’s teacher thanked Anthony for helping and told us both that we could sneak out early, which we did.

Summer here in Oregon has been a wet and cold one. It’s only now in the first part of July we have started to get some really nice weather. Each morning Anthony wakes up early, searches an applies for jobs, then makes breakfast for the Jayme. We then do 2 hours of homework, our goal is to get Jayme reading before school starts and we are really making progress. During the day Anthony drills him on sight words and at night Joshua reads books with him.

ADOPTION DAY – JUNE 12th 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frighttown Dragons End of the Season Potluck and party (or we hate T-ball part 2)

Jayme’s T-ball season came to end one week after school broke for the summer in a big potluck at Oaks Park.

Coach sent out a online sign-up form for each family to bring something to the potluck. Anthony was on top of it and of course over cooked. He made his spinach pasta salad, hawaiian style mac salad, a fresh lemon carrot salad, cajian cornbread and his Grandmothers raspberry marshmallow desert.

It took all three of us to carry all of the food to the car… this should have been our first sign that Anthony overcooked. We drove down to the amusement park in perfect wether. It was a wonderful day; sunny, warm and not a cloud in the sky. It was also the opening day for the summer season at the park, so the parking lot was full. We parked on the other side of the park, down by the roller skating rink (more on that later) and walked the whole park to find our picnic area.

We were one of the first to arrive and quickly helped layout all the food. On top of the food we brought there was this amazing bacon potato salad (which we have since recreated at home), lots of chips, hot dogs and brats.

While everyone assembled  coach handed out the ride bracelets and we slipped away to ride a few rides before lunch. The first ride was the ROCK-O-PLANE, it’s a blue wire cage that your locked into on a small ferris wheel. Since you travel upside down, professional coward Anthony stood and held the bags as our two brave hero’s Jayme and Josh locked themselves into their cage of doom. The first few times around Josh would hit the lock bar and the two of them would do a full upside down loop. It was about 2 mins’s into the ride that Anthony first noticed something wrong… No one was getting off. The wheel kept going and going and going and going. The operator started waving and trying to get his supervisors attention as he could not get the wheel to fully stop, slow yes, stop no. Our poor hero’s were stuck on the ride, going around and around for about 15 mins before a mechanic was able to come over and manually stop the ride so each rider could exit.

Freed from their cage we headed back for lunch, which was great! It was nice to talk to the other parents when we all didn’t have to watch the kids play t-ball.

Once lunch was done everyone headed out to ride the rides. Jayme grabbed us and away we went. We did all the rides even most of the little kid rides. The one that scared the HECK out of Anthony was the Screaming Eagle. For some reason Joshua felt this was an appropriate ride for Jayme. And Jayme had NO issue with this great plan. Once again Anthony held the bags but as he watched his son and Husband 100 feet in the air spinning to their deaths… he was forced to walk into the video game arcade to avoid  his very very rational fears.

Once we had done most of the rides we headed into the roller skating rink. Roller skating at Oaks park is something Joshua and Jayme have been doing for a while together. Each Saturday is Daddy Joshua day and the two of them head out and give Anthony a day off and get some one on one bonding time together. So the two of them were pros on their skates. Anthony… well his last time of skates was sometime in 1995. It took awhile but Anthony finally got his skating legs back, with only one fall on his butt!

The three of us must have been a sight as the T-Ball coaches 3 daughters took pity on us and kinda adopted us and hung out with us. It was very funny watching Jayme get his 7 year old flirt on with each of the girls.

We spend most of the afternoon skating. Everything was going great until they played YMCA. Right in the middle of C, Anthony fell down. Now to save face… Anthony decided to land ON his face, instead of his rear, because that would be embarrassing. When he got back up on his skates he had a HUGE egg sized swelling on the side of his face. He skated in and was mobbed by employees with ice packs and worried faces. He was in no pain, but he was done for the day.

After 20mins the swelling was gone but a nice black eye was starting to pop up. So we said our goodbyes and headed home.

Apart from Anthony failing on his face it was a wonderful day. The Dad’s still hate T-Ball but will aways love and cherish the memories all three of us had made this season.

DeSoren Abbey

 

DeSoren Abbey

Since Sam has left, getting back that extra room and space in the house has really underscored the need for a bigger house. Having that extra room has really changed how our household runs, and we like it! So we have jumped back into the house hunting market. Last time we did this was before Jayme came into our lives, back when we lived in SE Portland… Seems like 3 lifetimes ago.

Our goal this time is a 3-4 bedroom house with a master bathroom with a tub and a nice big shower. We need a fenced backyard and a nice open family space inside. We need a bigger house for some elbow room. We also need to stay in Clackamas and more importantly inside Jayme’s school district. Once we find the perfect home, we do have some big plans for it. Jayme and Anthony want to plant a garden… There has been a lot of discussions about raspberry plants, loganberry bushes and a treehouse. They also wanted a swimming pool, but the Joshua has issued a big no on that idea.

We have been looking in Happy Valley (our preferred location), the unincorporated Clackamas area, Milwaukee and now Damascus. So far, we have put in offers on three homes and each time we have been kicked to the curb. But each time we have learned a bit more about what we are really looking for and what we would be willing to settle for, which only adds to our depression.  It seems that home inventory is down 30% from this time last year and what is on the market seems to be priced pretty high. Or another way of looking at it is our taste preference is priced higher then our means. We are also a bit worried that even with most of the homes on the market being short sales and foreclosures this might prove to be a weird upside down sellers market. But we have not lost hope yet… Sort of.

The first house was great, located in Happy Valley, a short sale priced to move. Four bedroom home with a pretty nice hillside view. It had a great upstairs area, a kinda scary, but fixable deck and this amazing unfinished basement that had SO much potential. Visions of a huge family space and theater room and a 5th bedroom  danced in our heads as we signed the offer. Knowing it was going to be popular we even offered more then asking and got rejected. This was kinda of a blow to us. We really felt we had it. It was then that this house hunting process started to feel a lot like the adoption process we had just gone through. The waiting, the rejection, the weird rules and forms.

The second home we found that we loved was a fixer upper. But one priced very very low for the area it was in. The prior owners had done some very interesting home improvements, which would be easy to remove, but there was also some water damage. Even that would have been pretty easy to fix. We got pretty excited about this house and even did a run to Home Depot to check out diferent flooring options and paint colors. Like the first house, we offered more then asking and just like the first house we were rejected. This time we didn’t feel as bad because there were 13 other offers on the table. But it was still a blow to us. Seems we are still a bit raw from the adoption roller coaster…

The next house was a great 3 bedroom house with a nice master and great backyard for Jayme. Only two problems, first they were asking WAY to much for it and second – it is in Damascus. Not that Damascus is a bad place, but its a long commute for 2 people who work in downtown Portland. (That and we will never get Scott S. to visit us out there) The house was  a short sale that had been on the market for almost a year and it needed a little bit of work. Our wonderful agent did comps that showed that the house was $25k overpriced and even at that price we felt it was overpriced… mostly because of the very strange neighborhood. The house across the street just had sold for 50k less, but the house behind that sold for 50k more and they are all the same cookie cutter houses, nice cookie cutter homes, but what’s with the huge price differences?  So we came in with a bid  we felt was fair. More importantly one we felt comfortable with and could sleep through the night with. They came back with a counter offer of 40k more then we offered and the inglorious positon of backup offer if we wanted it. So we happily walked away from the deal.

Perhaps we should move to Disneyworld, prices down there are much better, but the commute to work each day to downtown Portland might prove to be a killer.

WE HATE T-BALL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony and Anthony’s High School Reunion

The idea of coming back years later, a huge success and showing off to those who had vexed me in high school; has always been very appealing.  I remember thinking even at graduation, that I would come back in a limo or some fancy car with photographers taking my pictures, personal bodyguards and seeing everyone who would want to kiss up to me. I would be a superstar of some sort. Perhaps a famous actor or rock star.

I have always had my head in the clouds a bit, I will admit that. Growing up I wanted my family to be more like the perfect TV families I loved, and my vision and expectation of what my big high school reunion would be like has forever been set in stone since watching Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.

So when none of that was going to happen on the last big number class school reunion; I kinda skipped it. Apart from not being able to make the huge splash, my pie in the sky imagination demanded, but mostly from the real fear of saying something extremely cunning and satisfying to people who had vexed me as a weird awkward and misunderstood teenage homo.

But now many more years later, I found myself in a weird position as the next big date reunion appeared. Now that I am older, more mature, a father and former international world leader.  My imaginative expectation of what should happen  was now,  perhaps,  a bit lower. Perhaps things have changed, perhaps I have changed enough to go back and see what I loathed so much when I was a young teenage thing.

So when I noticed on the the PAA website that the Alumni weekend was only a week away, I became a bit nostalgic. Blame it on male PMS or whatever (Joshua blames the full moon), I found I wanted to walk the old halls again. Yes, a little bit of me still wanted  to pour gasoline on the floors of those hallways and strike a match or two, but there had to be a few good memories of the forgotten past to explore.  The more I thought about it, the more I knew it was the latter and not the former, so I felt I could attend without any kind of prison time occurring afterwords. The one thing I really did dread, was seeing anyone hateful. Again, mostly for the fear of my mouth opening or worse holding my tongue and adding another high school related moment of regret and trauma to my addled brain.

First I did a shout out on Facebook to see if anyone from my class was going, because it’s no fun being a Romy without a Michele (and vice versa). The responses I got back should have been my first warning:

“Not on my list of fun things to do”
“Mmmmmmm, gonna have to go with nope….. “
“Connecting with friends sound FABULOUS, walking back thru the gate….next to impossible.”

I started pestering Josh to see what he thought. It was pretty clear he was NOT supportive of the idea and he had no interest in attending a Adventist church service in a gymnasium. After a  million years as a Roman catholic alter boy, he has done his jail time. I really didn’t  blame him for not wanted to attend with me as the happy homo spouse.  So… Without any confirmed classmates attending I threw caution to the wind and left the decision to a 7 year old and asked Jayme if he wanted to go see my old school. The weekend’s events started off with a concert evening with the school band and choir performing. Jayme loves music so at the worst, at least he would have a good time. I picked him up from school on Friday afternoon and asked him if he wanted to good see my old school that night. I got a short, NO. Well that was that. Joshua didn’t want to go and now neither did Jayme. And there was  no way I was walking in there alone. At least with Jayme I could use him as a cuteness shield.

But as luck would have it, following video game time, Jayme changed his mind. We jumped in the car and headed over to the school. I drove up to the front door only to find it was locked. I quickly checked my iPad to see if I had the right time and date. Information confirmed, we drove around the block looking for an entrance. The old side gateway I snuck out of for so many lunches, was shut and padlocked. Seems since my time, they have opened a new gate as the main entrance, located all the way on the south side of the school. Entrance found, we parked and headed in. Walking up to the check in desk, we were greeted by some teenagers (assumed they were seniors) and they checked us in and I was given a very fetching name badge with a color photo with my old senior picture upon it… With my wonderful mushroom bowl shaped 90’s hair.

Curse of the Fuchsia

The concert was not for an hour, so the two of us toured the school.. alone. The school website mentioned that there were going to be tours, but no one was leading any. Which was fine by me. I showed Jayme my old lockers (which he wanted to open) and we looked into every classroom. We headed down the honor wall area and found my classes photo frame. I even pointed out my mother’s photo from 1960 something (mushroom hair seems to run in the family). The one thing missing was the schoolmates and teachers. NO one from my class was present and no teachers. The school was empty.

At 7:00 p.m. the concert began.  The gym was mostly filled with parents of the preforming students. Jayme and I sat down near the band and listened to the show. Miss Neel and the band came out first. Miss Neel was my choir teacher when I was attending PAA, so this was a blast down memory lane. The band wore all black, a color I was very impressed with. Back in my day we all were forced to wear bright floral polyester fuchsia. They did have a touch of the fuchsia curse with pink ties, but it was a huge improvement.  Plus, there is nothing wrong with a little manly pink.

Jayme loved the band, as with other musical events that he has attended, he ate it up. He spent the evening parroting Miss Neel’s hand motions as she directed the band, only jumping a few times when the cymbals crashed.

After the band performed, the school choir came out. It seems that they had not escaped the PAA fuchsia curse. Snow-white polyester dinner jackets, light pink shirts, bright blinding pink bow ties and black polyester pants. My heart wept a bit for them.

Once the concert ended, Jayme wanted to meet Miss Neel, who was nice but clearly, she did not really remember me. Not even with my wonderful name badge with my senior picture upon it… With my wonderful mushroom bowl shaped 90’s hair. As a friend said in a Facebook post, perhaps she did not recognize me out of my fuchsia. She was very nice and made a nice effort to talk with Jayme, but then beat a hasty retreat (perhaps she did remember me LOL).

So that was that, reunion done. I had no wish to attend the church service the next day and Jayme could not attend anyway due to T-Ball practice. But… On the way home, all Jayme could talk about was how he loved my school and wanted to come the next day if it was raining and T-Ball was canceled. He had also found a Big Lake brochure and wanted to go to camp and go to MY high school when he was older.  So with all of his excitement, the two of us made a plan. I would attend the church service the next day (OMG) and we would get Joshua to drop him off after T-Ball practice.

So Saturday morning I cooked Jayme’s breakfast and headed to my closet for my suit (which was too big, yeah for losing weight!).  I had to borrow a smaller belt from Joshua to keep my dress pants up. Joshua and Jayme headed off to T-Ball and I headed off to dear old PAA.

Wasted paper at the check in desk

I arrived and looked around. Hmmmm… No one I knew, the coast was clear. Being casually late, I assumed I would sneak in – not be noticed – find the cool people – and sit next to them. Well it turned out I “was” the cool people.

The gym was laid out with all the class honor years highlighted and seated in the middle of the room under very large signs showing their graduating year. Every year had a small to large group huddled around their sign. But when I looked across the room to my class’ sign, it was a lonely wasteland.  So dateless and alone, I headed over to my class’ area and plopped down. Why the heck was I here again? I sat alone and a became little desperate for those vexing people to show up and distract me with their perceived hateful stares. The belt holding my oversized pants was starting to dig in to my side. My arms were getting all sweaty under my tent-like suit jacket and did that woman on stage just ask everyone from my class to stand???  Oh God…. she did.

So now I stood, alone as the whole gym filled with geriatrics and bored high school students stared at me and applauded my special efforts to keep my pants up, I mean showing up. Thankfully once the applause ended, the lady on the stage asked for all the classmates from the 1990’s to stand up with me, so I would not be alone. I start looking around the room, then the whole room start looking around the room as well. No one was standing up with me. So round two of applause begins for me and me and my belt, the sole representative the of the 1990’s, as my belt was new right from China.

Shortly after my two moments of heady fame, Joshua texted that he and Jayme had arrived outside and were waiting in the parking lot. So I headed out to meet them. After a short exchange, we did the hand off. Then Joshua ran for his life and Jayme and I headed in. Once back down in the wasteland of my class’ reserved seating area, Jayme got a feel for the overwhelming excitement of an SDA church service, in a gym, while sitting on PUA metal-folding chairs.  It only took about 10 minutes for him to declare that he was bored to tears and honestly, so was I.  This was not what I was hoping for. I was looking forward to talking to old buddies, cracking jokes, and exchanging stories throughout the service. Having to sit up and pay attention like a real grown-up… no no no.

So Jayme and I headed outside to run around and play a bit. As we left, we saw Miss Neel, who smiled and waved, perhaps she does remember me. We headed out the backdoor towards the covered passageway to the art department. It was a bit surreal standing there watching Jayme run back and forth down the cloister that I use to walk each day. Thoughts of old friends, teenage enemies and cool teachers fill that walkway.

We killed time until the service was over, playing in the soccer field. Following the service was the potluck.  Jayme REALLY wanted to eat lunch in the cafeteria for some odd reason. Even the promises of a store bought pizza would not even budge him. So we hung around and waited…

Official Class Photo

From the stage, they announced that the offical class photos would be taken before lunch and for the honor classes to follow their class year signs. Jayme and I slowly walked over and thanked the teenage girl, who stood alone with us holding our class’ sign. They offered to take the full class photo of just the two of us, but I quickly declined, remembering what a Facebook classmate predicted how VERY sad a one person class photo would be. But I took a few funny photos of Jayme playing with the sign, which he loved and hammed up.

They soon announced that lunch was served and we entered into the cafeteria. Years ago (eons ago when Ellen DeGeneres walked the earth with Dinos and Bill Nye the Science Guy) I used to work a shift in the school kitchen. It was then, I was privileged to work with the greatest school lunch lady/sabbath school teacher/pathfinder leader and mom; Mrs. Tate. It seemed a bit sacrilegious to be served store-bought Stouffers Lasagna from her kitchen. But we got our plates and found a seat, sitting at the back table where I use to sit with all of my old crowd. It was here at lunch I really noticed how differently Joshua and I, have been raising Jayme from the way I was raised.

Jayme asked if he could have some chips with this lunch. I told him they were not serving chips. Then he pointed to a vending machine next to us, “You can get me those chips.”.  Now how do you explain to a child, who is hungry, about Seventh Day Adventist Sabbath Dogma? How do I explain the look of shock and disapproval that would explode from a room full of Seventh Day Adventist Octogenarian’s slurping up their Stouffer’s?  I sat there for a moment and thought. Was Jayme better off or worse for not having these customs thoroughly programmed into him? Deep, unexpected thoughts now began churning in my head; all on a day that was supposed to be just a fun day, down memory lane. Well, I wanted to be a parent. I leaned down and told him, that this was a church school and one of the church rules is no buying or selling on Saturdays. He was a bit miffed and really didn’t understand.

As I sit here writing this, I really marvel that even years down the road from my own days of daily indoctrination in the SDA church:  My programing still stands, still a good manchurian. What is the worst they could they have done to me if I stood up and bought Jayme some chips? It’s not like I knew any of them or would ever see them again. Or that Jesus would even care, he would have made chips fall from the sky. Oh dear, a new high school regret to carry around for all time. Oh… how I now wished I would have bought those chips.

Great! A new high school REGRET! Well… At least now, I know what to do at the next reunion… Bring quarters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Harlem Globetrotters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birthday Splash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jayme’s Birthday Trip to Disneyworld

Morning Surprise

Saturday morning, Jayme awoke to what he thought would be a normal day. Breakfast, video games, legos, ect. But as he came down the stairs he noticed something was different. A huge box wrapped in birthday wrapping paper was on the dining room table. This of course started “What in the box dad?” “Is it for me?” “When do I get to open it?”

Once breakfast was eaten and Joshua came down and made his morning appearance, Jayme was allowed to open the box. As he opened the box a huge red balloon with Mickey Mouse shot straight up for the ceiling only to have it’s escape hindered by a red string tired to a strange looking purple dragon aka Figment.

Inside the box Jayme found his My Pal Mickey doll and a blue binder. He took them out and looked at his dads totally confused. He asked how his Mickey doll got in the box.

Anthony came over and opened up the binder and turned to the page with a large Delta airlines logo on it and asked Jayme to read the date on the sheet. Jayme read out 2/11/12. Anthony then explained that this was an airline ticket. Jayme’s eyes then started to get big as the dad’s told jayme that in 3 hours we would be on a plane headed to Disneyworld. Joshua then headed up stairs and started bringing down all the suitcases that the Dad’s had packed the night before. Then after 3 very long hours we headed to the airport.

Flight Down & Hotel

The flight down was fairly easy. Jayme has become a seasoned traveler. We flew down on Delta to Atlanta and then had a 2 hour layover before we got on a Aeromexico/Delta flight to Orlando. We arrived at MCO Orlando International Airport a little after midnight. We hopped on the airport monorail and then walked down and collected our bags. We then had to fight crowds and swim back upstream to goupstairs and into the center of the airport to check in to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport.

Check in was fairly smooth. Checking in in-front of us was another family that was on our flight from Atlanta. We remembered them because they paid extra for a first class upgrade for the 1 1/2 hour Aeromexico/Delta flight to Orlando, which both Dad’s thought was pretty wasteful. It appeared they were being a difficult check in for hotel staff. They didn’t want to go down and collect their own bags from the bag collection carrousel, they wanted the hotel staff to fetch them. So they had to spend 20 mins describing what the bags looked like in grat detail. We got checked in quickly next to them and headed up to our room with our own bags, no help needed.

We have to say it, we love the MCO Hyatt. We were forced to stay there once before when we got bumped from a US Airways flight a few years back. So when we saw our flight was coming in so late, we knew the Hyatt would work great for us. The room was great, King bed and a nice big bathroom. They even had Jayme’s rollaway in the room and waiting for us. It was great, after a few quick showers and baths to wash off our travel dust. All three of us were asleep in no time.

DAY ONE – Downtown Disney 

We woke late, 10a.m. est (7 a.m. pst). We had purchased the awaken package which gave us a late check out and a free breakfast. The hotel restaurant was very pretty and had an amazing view of the runway. The service and food were…. well ok. A bit slow and pretty standard hotel buffet food. We headed back to our room and finished packing and bundeling up for our day at Downtown Disney. The plan was for us to pick up our rental car at noon then drive over and check in to our Disney Hotel (Port Orlean’s Riverside), then take the boat down to Downtown Disney for the afternoon.

On our last visit in December of 2010 we came right at the peak of the coldest weather Orlando had seen in decades. So we were a bit bummed to see that the weather was rather cold High 50’s and mid 60’s for the first two days of our trip. But we bundled up and checked out of our hotel.

First challenge was getting the car. In the past we only had to walk out to the lot and drive off, but this time they wanted us to check in via the desk. So as Joshua and Jayme waited, Anthony ran in and got in a very very long line.  Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a express self serve check in console, a console that no one was using. At first it looked off, but a little ad popped up on it’s screen. No one else in line seems to give a second thought. So putting his fate in the hands of a gadget, Anthony took a chance and headed over the machine. 4 mins later his paper work printed out and he was on his way. As he raced back to his waiting family he looked back at the huge line that had not moved. Now free to pick any compact car we wanted, we all quickly picked…. a black Dodge Caliber. Same car we have at home and drove over and over in Hawaii. We really must be Dodge fans or just creatures of habit (definately habit).

Thanks to Joshua’s huge bag of quarters we had no issues sailing through the toll ways and arrived on Disney property within about 35 mins.

This was are third stay at Port Orleans, 2nd time at Riverside. So we knew our way around the grounds very well. We headed into the hotel lobby and checked in. We had a bit of scare as they had us in one of the old rooms with 2 double beds and Disney doubles are twins. Luckily with a bit of begging and our 2 queen confirmation from our travel agency (Travels Through Wonderland) in hand, they found a ground floor corner room with 2 queen beds and a pull down trundle bed for Jayme. Best of all it was one of the new re-habbed rooms.  We jumped back in the car and drove over to our room, it was amazing. Once again Jayme was thrilled to have his own special little bed.

We took a bunch of photos of the room (like the disney geeks that we are) then feeling a bit brave put on our light spring jackets and headed down the the boat dock. Disney run’s some little bus/boats down the river to Downtown Disney from select resorts. It’s a nice 15 minute boat ride and a bit more special then taking a resort bus. Once we got on the water in the boat, we quickly regretted our light spring jackets. A wind was blowing across the water and mid way down all three of us were popsicles. The curse of the cold weather seemed to have stuck again. Jayme ignored the cold weather for the most part and spent the whole ride talking the boat Captain’s ear off. For the rest of the trip we referred to the boat Captain as his new friend and would look for him each day as we walked past the dock.

Downtown Disney is fun, kinda a large outdoor shopping mall. The 2 big hits for us was the Pin store for Anthony and the Lego store for Jayme. Jayme loved the lego store he quickly was able to find a lego Fire truck set that he JUST HAD TO HAVE!!! As Joshua took Jayme away to other distractions, he gave a wink to Anthony who grabbed the box and headed to the check out counter. We got off pretty cheap, it was only $25.00 bucks and worked out great for us as it gave Jayme something to do all week long when we had down time in the hotel room. We also were able to hide the package from Jayme until we got back to the room, which made it a super cool surprise once we got back to our room.

By the time we got out of the marketplace area and reached the upper Paradise Island part of Downtown Disney, it was pushing 2:45pm and we were all starting to get hungry. We tried to get into several of the restaurants only to be told they all had 45 min+ waiting times. The last place we tried was the House of Blues, at first it didn’t look like it would be very kid friendly but it really was. We had a great lunch and Joshua even had a few drinks, the vacation was officially ON!

After lunch the weather really started to get chilly so we hopped a warm resort bus back to our hotel and layed down for a nice nap. After a nice nap and a bit of further exploring of our resort it was dinner time. Per tradition: we always have our first welcome dinner at Raglan Road, this time was no different. Skipping the bus and cold boat ride this time we choose to drive over in our rental car. Raglan Road is one of the restaurants in Downtown Disney, a traditional Irish pub with live traditional dancing and music. Both of which Jayme LOVED! Jayme did state that he could dance better than the professional dancers which was quite hilarious…

DAY TWO- Magic Kingdom

We woke early on Monday morning 6:30am est (3:30am pst), but thanks to our 2 prior nights on eastern standard time, it really didn’t feel so early to us. We dressed warmly, as the temperature was only suppose to get to a high of 65 for the day, then headed down to the hotel’s food court. We chowed down on yummy Mickey waffles, orange juice and the other normal breakfast staples before jumping into our rental car and heading over to the Magic Kingdom.

One of the perks of staying at a Disney resort is free Disney transportation plus free parking. We like to drive in and then take the bus back for a nap. Return via the bus and then beat the crowds and rush at park closing by jumping in our car and driving back. This was the travel plan for the day.

After parking we got to the transportation center nice and early, we had at least 45min before the park opened. So we took the monorail over Bay lake to the Magic Kingdom. Jayme loved it! We passed through bag check and then waited with a small crowd just pass the ticket booths for the welcome show and rope drop to happen at 9:00am.

As 9:00am hit the Disney Railroad came rolling in and on it was Mickey and all the gang. They did a short welcome show and song and the next thing we knew they dropped the rope and we were walking on to Main Street USA. As the crowds poured into Tomorrow land and Fantasyland we did the trick we learned from a cast member and headed into Adventure land. We did a walk on to the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of Caribbean, then had to drag Jayme away from Splash Mountain. Neither Dad was up for getting wet on a cold day.

We made really good progress all day. Jayme had his big “It’s my Birthday” pin on so every castmember was saying happy birthday to him and several would do little special things for him. He was made a Jr. Deputy of Frontier land and even got a little sliver badge to wear. For the rest of our trip when ever he would see kids breaking the rules he would comment that he had to do something because he was a Deputy. It was SO CUTE!

We had a nice lunch at the Plazza restaurant, nice sandwiches. Then caught a resort bus back to our hotel for a nice long nap. We made it back to the Magic Kingdom around 3:30ish and headed over to Tomorrowland were Jayme found his most FAVORITE ride in the whole world, Autopia. Little gas powered go carts cars which the kids get to drive. Over the trip he  did this ride at least 6 times. Space Mt was Jayme’s 2nd favorite ride. We used fastpasses to bypass the 90 min wait (with pass 10 min wait), but Jayme really struggled with understanding that we could not get unlimited fastpasses. We really worked hard on this trip to be aware of Jayme’s limits, so many times we would skip a ride because of the wait time and make plans to us a fasspass or hit the ride on our 2nd day. This worked really well for us and Jayme was able to get on every ride his size would allow at least once over the course of our trip. We also would prep Jayme before each area or ride and help him set some managed expectations.

That evening was the Wishes Fireworks Spectacular which Jayme really liked.

DAY THREE – Animal Kingdom

We woke again early 7:00am, but today we were not in a huge rush. Today’s park destination was Animal Kingdom, a park that we both feel is a half day park. The big excitement for the day was it was going to be mid 70’s, so everyone jumped into shorts. It was also Valentines day, Anthony presented Joshua and Jayme with boxes of Chocolate and cards and Josh and Jayme gave Anthony a card. It was funny because everyone figured the other person would forget. But none of us did, how is that for sappy.

We had breakfast again at the hotels dining hall and then drove over to Animal Kingdom. We arrived about 9:45am (well past the 9:00am rope drop) we started to get a bit concerned that we had made a mistake by delaying because once we reached the maingate the crowd was huge. As we walked up the main road it was shoulder to shoulder with all the other guests.

We made a beeline for Expedition Everest fearing long lines. But we were excited to see only a 25 min standby wait and quickly grabbed a fastpass for about 1 hour out and headed down to Dinoland.

Our first offical ride for the day was a flying Dino ride. Jayme really loved it as he had a control stick that rasied and lowered our Dino. After that thrilling 2 min ride, were we reached the mind blowing height of 20 feet we headed down to DINOSAUR, the big thrill ride in the Dino area. The premise of the ride is you enter a jeep that goes back in time and you see Dinosaurs. Jayme was not impressed, he has become a Doctor Who fan and he did not understand/buy into the idea that a Jeep can go back in time. Police box yes, bumpy jeep no.

As much as he disliked DINOSAUR he LOVED Expedition Everest. Grand total he had us do it 3 times. It was at this point we realized that Jayme is a coster junky. On the scary parts he would hold on to one of his Dad’s arms, with all the strength he had, then scream his head off only to beg to do it again before the safely belts had even been released.

For lunch today our Travels Through Wonderland agent  booked us in the Tusker House, a African buffet. On our last visit we really enjoyed our meal so as we walked up to the podium to check in we started to get a bit worried when we noticed that Disney had changed the lunch schedule to a Character meet. This worried us for 2 reasons. One Character meals tend to have kinda dumb down so-so food. And second, Jayme kinda was not buying into meeting Characters. Whenever we had seen one in the parks he would ask all about the costume and want to know who was inside the costume. Jayme is VERY smart and a bit to old to fall for it… at least we thought.

The hostess checked us in and sent us over to the waiting area. Once at the waiting area we were queued up for a family photo with Donald Duck. Jayme was pretty quiet, and asked a few quiet questions about who was in the costume. But the second we got up to Donald Jayme had FULL buy in and was really meeting the real Donald Duck.

The meal also was quite good, a large selection of Americanized African foods. The only bad moment was when Joshua tried to order a drink and got carded. Guess who left his ID back in the hotel room and could not get served? SO FUNNY! Also a mistake he never made again on the trip.

During our meal Jayme’s buy in to the Character meet continued as he began visually stalking Mickey Mouse as Mickey made his rounds around the room meeting each table. We met Goofy and Daisy, but he kept asking over and over when Mickey was going to come over. Finally when Mickey did come over he had a long conversation with him and even told him a secret (one he has still not told his Dad’s).

After lunch we did Expedition Everest again and then Joshua and Jayme braved the Kali River rapides. Bothwere soaked head to toe!

We walked around in the now gorgeous sunny hot afternoon to dry off and then took the train up to Rafiki’s planet watch, which is a backstage look at how they care for all of the animals. Jayme liked the train the best.

Next up was Kilimanjaro Safari. On our last trip we skipped this ride because we found it to be too fast and not enough animals. So we were very pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed the ride this time. We took a lot of great photos.

After the safari trip we headed back to our resort and had a nap. We had dinner reservations again for Downtown Disney, something fun for Valentines day. We choice to have dinner at Paradiso, Taste of Americas. We took the boat down again, this time it was a pleasant and warm trip. The Captain even dropped us off on a closer pier to our restaurant.

This dinner was perhaps the best we had the whole trip and the drinks were good too 🙂

DAY FOUR – EPCOT

Wednesday arrived and it was EPCOT day! For a special treat for our train obsessed little boy, we drove back the Transportation center by the Magic Kingdom and took the long Epcot Monorail to Epcot.

As we did the day before we got a late start and didn’t make it to the main gate until about 9:30am. Once in we spotted Stitch doing a impromptu meet and greet and we made a beeline right to him. We didn’t see him in Hawaii in his home town, but we finally found him in Orlando. Lilo & Stitch is probability our families favorite Disney movie. It was great for Jayme and Joshua to get some face time with Stitch.

We spent the morning in Innoventions East and West and then moved out to Ellen’s Energy Adventure and Jayme’s new favorite ride, Mission: Space.

Mission: SPACE is a motion simulator thrill ride at Epcot. It simulates what an astronaut might experience aboard a spacecraft on a mission to Mars, from the higher g-force of blastoff to the speculative hypersleep. The attraction exposes riders to forces up to 2.5G, more than twice the force of gravity at the Earth’s surface.

The ride has 2 options, First option green, a less intense advenure and Orange the full 2.5G spinning mission. Guess which version Joshua and Jayme put Anthony on 3 times? They loved it. After Mission: Space we grabbed fast passes for Test track and then worked our way around World Showcase.

We stopped off in Mexico and rode the Three Caballeros ride. During this ride we had our only really negative run in with a fellow guest. She said behind us in the boat.  The ride it self is a cute boat ride were you search for Donald Duck who has gone missing he Mexico, lots of music and Mexico tourist destinations are highlighted. As the boat turned the first corner, Marge became telling her life story to the people seated in her row. She talked about how she waited to claim Medicare and Social Security. She talked about how he got her home loan. She talked about how he stayed in a loveless marriage, just so she would see Europe. In fact we now know more personal information about Marge then we would have ever cared to know.

As the boat was lifted up to the dock and everyone started to de board, Anthony had reached his limit. He turned to Jayme and Joshua and said. “Well kids, what did that boat ride teach us?”, he then proceeded to loudly recite key parts from Marge’s loud private conversation. Let’s just say she seems a bit taken back. On the plus side we did get some super cute photos of Jayme in HUGE Mexican sombrero’s.

Here is were we the Dad’s made our one and only mistake. We were all having such a good time, we skipped our nap. Only going to make that mistake once, trust us. We had a great afternoon exploring the World Showcase, but around 3pm, Jayme started to get that whine to his voice. By dinner time, he was a big party poop.

Dinner itself was at Les Chefs de France. All three of us had a nice dinner, but there was some pouting and some bad choices at the dinner table. Luckily Jayme was able to turn it all around and we got to stay for the fireworks. but nap time was not going to be missed again.

DAY FIVE – Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is a half day park. Hollywood Studios is a half day park. Hollywood Studios is a half day park. We have said that over and over for years now, and every time we go we forget that one important fact.

We arrived around 10am having had a late breakfast. The bag check line was itself a 10 min wait. Poor Joshua, aka our Sherpa, took one for the team and waited in the line while jayme and Anthony waiting by the turnstiles for him.

We headed right to the rides we knew Jayme was going to love. First stop the ride of all rides for Jayme, STAR TOURS! In all I think we rode it 5 times.

Next was Toy story Mid-way Mania, when we got there the wait was already up to 90mins so we grabbed a fastpass and headed to Tower of Terror. Well then…. our day was kinda done. Jayme was not really into Princess stuff. We did do the Light Action’s car show and the Indy show. But then there was really nothing for us to do. In retrospect we should have come at noon.

We had to kill a bunch of time ,which was hard for Jayme, But dinner time finally came and we headed over to Mama Melrose for our dinner reservation. Dinner was ok, it was kinda cheap Italian food. Next time we will be spring for our favorite, the Brown Derby.

After dinner we headed up to Fantasmic. Jayme loved the Disneyland version. By the time we got there it was standing room only. It only took a second for both of us to decided to skip the show and ride Star Tours again. No way are we (the spoiled) going to stand. LOL

DAY SIX – EPCOT

We woke up late and headed over to EPCOT for our second day touring the park. Last time we took the Monrail, this time we took our car. We got really great parking, much to the pain of Jayme, who really really wanted us to take the parking tram rather then walk the 150 feet.

Once inside first stop was Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Anthony’s favorite ride. We had a great day, re-riding Jayme’s favorites. Mission Space again won as Jayme’s favorite but he didn’t really care for Soarin, which is simulated ride. We mentioned this to our family therapist when we got home and he felt it might be the motion that Jayme is drawn to, rather then the visual stimulation.

We had a pretty horrible lunch in the American experience. But dinner was great! For our last dinner in Epoct we headed back to Marge’s Life story boat ride… ahh I mean the Mexico and had dinner at the San Angel Inn. The San Angel a little Mexican restaurant inside over looking the Marge’s boat ride. On our last visit, years ago, we were sat next to the restroom, but this time we had a great seat and a really friendly waiter. The menu is more traditional Mexican then Tex-Mex. So Jayme got to try some new tastes.

The evening ended again with fireworks. This time we watched from Japan.

 

DAY SEVEN – Magic Kingdom

Last day in the parks, which means we got to sort of sleep in. We have 9:00am breakfast reservations at Kona Cafe inside Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Spa.We drove over to the ticket and transportation lot and took the Monorail to the resort.

We had pacadamia pineapple pancakes, Kona press pot coffee and Joshua even ordered the Big Kahuna (French Toast, Pancakes topped with Pineapple Sauce and Macadamia Nut Butter, Eggs, Home-fried Potatoes, Ham, Bacon, and Sausage) We all had a huge sugary breakfast and headed to the parks happy and full.

First stop once we entered was a visit and photo shoot with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Then we spent the day exploring and re-riding our favorite rides.

Towards the end of the day we stopped to have Jayme’s portrait drawn. It turned out ok, we seemed to have been assigned to one of the artists that did more cartoons then life like portraits, but for $35.00 it was still good.

That evening we watched the Main Street Electrical Parade, which Jayme LOVED..

Travel Day Home

Today we learned a VERY important lesson. If you see something you want, buy it.

While in EPCOT day’s before we saw a very very cool Tin Sign package of the Disneyworld attraction posters. Both of us said, YES lets get it. Well we decided to wait and pick it up on Sunday. So when we woke we had a plan. Pack our bags, eat breakfast, go swimming and relax until check out. Then go to Downtown Disney, watch a surprise movie for Jayme, do some shopping then head to the airport.

Everything ran to plan until we got to Downtown Disney. We got to the movie theater and Jayme was thrilled to get to see Star War’s Eppisode 1 in 3-D. We had not let him see the new Star War’s movies yet, so he was thrilled. The movie was what is was before, long and dull, but Jayme loved it. We left the theater and looked down at our watch’s. The movie’s run time was incorrectly listed, we now had less then an hour to get to the airport.

So began our running shopping trip. 3 shirts for Jayme.. check, something for Joshua to wear to work.. check, new Mickey watch for Josh.. not sold! (Panic) Metal tin signs.. not sold! (MORE Panic)

We dived out the Disney store and started running to the far end of the Marketplace searching for the watch and the Tin signs. Luckily in our panic we found both! Jayme though it was a great game as we ran around and even made rocket sounds as we weaved around the fat tourists, laughing in his cute way the whole time.

Treasures secured, we got the car and quickly headed to the airport. We arrived WAY outside of our comfort zone for checking in at the airport. Thankfully, we had checked in online before coming or we would have missed our flight. We got to the check in desk only to find a huge (angry) line.

Frontier, the airline we were flying home, had only 3 people working and one was stuck helping a potential passenger who did not know her confirmation number, did not have a credit card, but was sure she had booked the flight. We hopped in the bag drop only line and even then waited 20 mins. The mood of the crowd was ugly and very vocal. With our flight boarding and due to take off in 10 mins the lady in front of us kindly let us cut.

Once it was our turn check in only took seconds and we raced off to the terminal. One good thing was since check in was so horribly bungled,  they were forced to hold the flight for all of the passengers. But we ran anyways.

Once onboard, we had to chase away a guy (cue angry person look from Joshua) who was trying to pinch our assigned seats. Frontier does not issue assigned seats unless you pay extra, and with Jayme with us we paid extra to insure our family stayed together. This passenger did not and was shocked his family would be split up. Once we were settled the flight was pretty smooth. It was a 4 hour flight to Denver, then a 2 hour layover and s short 2 hour flight home.

We paid the extra $6.00 for Jayme’s seat and he watch cartoon network for 4 hours. He loved it so much he didn’t want to get off the plane. For him the flight home was too short.

It was a great trip and we can’t wait for the next one!

 

Jayme is jumping rope for the American Heart Association!

Hi Everyone!

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

UPDATE

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

 

Dealing with Finalization

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

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

The junior Mr Popplewick is not permitted to expect ANYONE!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Christmas 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next year we are hoping to REALLY fill the house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naked Darth Vader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 months with Jayme

6 months with Jayme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Day of “BIG BOY” School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graduation Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

On the other side of the table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

That New Car Smell

So after almost 9 years driving our little 2001 Chevy Metro, we have upgraded to a new car. It only took 5 months of discussion, which is GREAT for us. Took us twice that long to pick a new sofa for the house. Before we left for our trip to Hawaii we had our eyes on a Ford Explorer or Honda CRV, but after driving 3 different Dodge Calibers on the islands, we started to rethink our plan.

We first started looking in Portland, but ended up in Vancouver. We drove to our local our Dodge dealer (well local as in Gresham), but they didn’t want to work with us over the phone and via E-mail and we got that slick car salesman vibe from the dealership. So we contacted Dick Hannah Dodge in Vancouver Washington. They were able to work with us and answer all our questions over the phone and via E-Mail.

Our one big demand was it had to fit our budget and it HAD to come with as many the bells and whistles we could afford. After driving our no frills Metro for all these years, we needed gadgets. Anthony wanted the uber hard to find blueberry/black color, Joshua wanted iPhone attachments.

After a bit of searching the dealership found a Uptown version of the 2011 Caliber in Idaho for us, it has power everything, Navigation, Iphone compatibility, steering wheel controls, cruise control and more! Once we signed some “fun” paperwork and had an agreed on price, it only took 4 days before we had the car in hand.

Our car salesman was and is a pretty incredible young man. A Iraqi veteran, we had a very frank conversation with him about our respect for his service and how he feels about the current and that past POTUS. No icky car salesman vibe from this guy. (If anyone needs a Dodge we have his card!)

Jayme loved the new car, he told Anthony that we should throw the old car away. He kinda got mad that we told him we would be keeping the old one as our second car. He made sure that his pink car seat was only kept in the Dodge. Clearly he had made his mind up, until he found out that the car has remote auto start. He thinks the car is broken because it keeps starting everytime he gets in the car 🙂

The biggest issue now is who gets to drive it to work each day… So far Anthony is winning, but Joshua is known to be super sneaky. The battle lines started at the dealership when Anthony moved the car seat over behind Joshua’s back and ran out the door with Jayme, only to castle in the new car with a cheezy grin on his face.

We feel we did really well getting the car on our terms, still we only plan to keep it for 3 years as we know we will need to upgrade to a bigger soccer-dad car later as Jayme grows, but for now we are pretty happy and we have new gadgets!