Thursday, January 27, 2011

A $2600 Lice!

Muffin had an Orthodontist appointment today. As soon as she took off her outerwear - she started to scratch her head. I was having to tell her stop every 2 minutes and then fix her head band. The assistant takes some pictures of Muffin's mouth and profile etc. and then starts to show us the pictures on the computer when Muffin starts to scratch again. I tap her on the leg and then reach up to pat her hair down - when I see what looks like to be a piece of lint. I grab it, have a quick look at it and notice it starts to move! Your freaking kidding me! I drop it on the floor and step on it - then I completely zone out with the thought that my daughter has lice! For 20 minutes, I didn't hear a thing they said to us - I was completely inside my own head, freaking out and keeping a very close eye that she didn't touch her head again. All I heard was blips of "...she needs this appliance within the next few months", "...her teeth need to be pulled back before her adult teeth come in..." and then -HELLO!- reality comes rushing back when she slides an estimate across the table with the amount of $2640.80 written at the bottom. *Cough, cough*... excuse me? So we commit to a payment plan, all of which we really can't afford - esp. while trying to save for this adoption.

We get in the car, I tell Dan to drive straight to the pharmacy. We get home and I do a quick inspection - I see nothing! Then... I use the lice/nit comb... I found 4 little bugs (half the size of the one in the office) and probably 30 nits. Then I soak her hair in olive oil and let it stew under a shower cap.

Mister got the inspection when he got home - 1 little tiny baby and 5 nits. I'm not nearly as grossed out by this all as I would have expected. Then... I think I should run the comb through my hair as Muffin and I share the same brush. So, even though I don't have an itchy head - I run the comb through... and out came 2 nits! Your kidding me! Yuck! I turned up 2 little bugs and about 30 nits as well.

Now this is all kind of ironic, because we have been getting lice watch warnings from the kids' school for the last 4 years. Someone always seems to have it. And I admit... I have turned a nose down at them. Mister has one girl in his class who has repeatedly had them and I am always thinking - what the heck is going on at your house? Why hasn't this been taken care of? I hope your not getting close to my son! And... if I volunteer, I keep my distance from her. I guess I thought we were immune to them. It is a bit humbling... and now having first hand experience, I can honestly say it is not all that gross. My head would itch nonstop when someone so much as mentioned Lice - I'd have pictures of grotesque, swarming bugs scurrying through my hair - running through my mind... and now here I've literally been nit picking for the last 3 hours... and my head isn't itching at all.

This is not something I would have normally admitted, but I know that no one I "know" even knows my blog exists ... and I now realize that anyone can get them - no one is immune to it. I found myself thinking where did we get this from... who gave it to us!? But, I know it really doesn't matter - because they got it from someone else the same way we got it. It really has no relevance to your personal hygiene, or the people you associate with. I get it now...and it is sad that I had to "get it" to get it.

Now back to the sterilizing...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What to ask your Adoption Agency about their international program.

It's been brought to my attention that many clients are not doing their due diligence. We need to keep these agencies on their toes, and we need to let them know that we are keeping an eye on them and ethics are important to us!
Here are some questions you should be asking:
1. How long has your agency had a program in ____?
2. How many placements have you completed and when?
3. How do you identify children for adoption?
4. Do you personally examine the orphanages that the children stay in?
5. How often does an agency staff member visit the orphanage?
6. How do you stay informed about the quality of care?
7. How do you stay informed about the expenditures at the orphanage? (So parents know where their money is being spent.)
8. How many children are currently in your orphanage? What is the capacity?
9. How many care providers work at the orphanage?
10. Is education provided for the children?
11. What (if any) programs or support are provided for the biological Mother?
12. Is a meeting with the birth Mother/family encourages and or facilitated by the agency?
13. How often are the children fed, and what are they fed?
14. What are the sleeping arrangements?
15. Has your agency ever been investigated? How many times and when?
16. Can you provide references?
17. Can we expect monthly updates with measurements, weights, health and photo?
18. Can you provide photos of the orphanage?
19. Are you transparent, can you provide financial statements?
"Try to get an itemized breakdown of where the foreign fees go and try to confirm that in the foreign country. What you are trying to learn is if the agency is marking-up and keeping the difference between actual foreign fees and what they charge you, or enagaging in unethical practices, without disclosing this to you. Another consideration here is that you want to know where every penny of your adoption money goes so that you can be assured that things like corruption, baby-buying and profiteering were not part of your adoption process. This is what is mean when your hear terminology that references a "transparent" process."

That's all I can think about right now... let me know if I forgot anything!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tico's brush with death

Yesterday was a bit chaotic... the animals were all acting nuts. Tico (1 yr old Quaker parrot)spent almost the entire day out of his cage... flying around and squawking endlessly. Koda was running after him and Mikha was running after Koda. At one point in time, Mikha came running upstairs because he heard the commotion and he ended up falling down the stairs and hurt his already bad leg. (Mikha is 10 yrs old and suffers from arthritis in his one back leg.)

Things were starting to settle down, Mikha just laid his grumpy old bones down by Tico's cage and the kids were starting to get their homework laid out. Out of nowhere, Tico (who thinks he's invincible)decided to whiz right by Mikha's head .. or land on it. Either way, grumpy Mikha snapped at Tico. Some feathers flew and Tico made a quick flight back to his cage where he was hardly able to cling on the side of the cage. His breathing was heavy and noisy. I immediately put down what I was doing and asked Dan to grab me a towel. I gently took Tico off the cage and wrapped him in the towel. Now.. this bird is fiesty and would have never allowed me to do this, but he was limp and certainly not fighting. It became apparent to us that he must have a broken rib and a punctured lung as he was aspirating. His breathing was heavy and you could hear the fluids. I peeled back the towel to take a peek and saw a small amount of blood trickle down from the underside of his tail. Dan was giving Mikha trouble - the kids were getting worked up, Muffin was starting to cry and I wasn't sure if I could handle seeing anything more, so I covered Tico up again and passed him to Dan. I ushered the kids out of the room and made them a nice bubble bath. Muffin was still crying at this point, I was trying to console her and prepare her for the fact that he wasn't going to survive long. I asked her to say a prayer for Tico and then snuck out to see if he was still breathing. He was still breathing... but it wasn't getting any better. I held him for a few moments, spoke to him softly and stroked his head... Unable to bear the fact that he may pass at any moment in my hands (I know, I'm a wimp!)... I passed him off again to Dan. I got the kids out of the bath and into their pj's. I sat Muffin down so she could hold Tico for a few moments and say her goodbyes. Dan said it wouldn't be too long as his breathing was very slow now and you couldn't hear it anymore. Muffin sat stroking his head when she made a fast movement and he reached up to bite her finger! What!? Dan reached down to pick him up and he leaped out of the towel onto his cage. Still weak.. and it appeared as though his tail bone was broken as his tail feathers were slanted off to the side. Dan re-wrapped him up as I prepared his travel carrier with some blankets for him to lay in. His breathing was no longer laboured and he was no longer aspirating. Dan slowly put him inside the carrier and he hopped on his perch and stood there. What!? I am still flabergasted by this... he almost appeared normal. I still prepared the children that despite his appearance, he may have internal injuries and he likely will not survive. Well this am. - the picture above is what I found. He was awake, lively and picking at the cardboard. I put him in his cage, where he climbed to his perch. He slept most of the day, but is eating and drinking. We have no idea what the heck happened. Dan is wondering if the noise and the behaviour was due to a great deal of pain... perhaps just a bruised bum? We think the blood came from a plucked feather. In my mind he was dead... if I would have had the medicine to put him down so as not to suffer - I would have! Seriously!... However, I did say he was fiesty... and apparently he is also invincible!

I am still keeping a close eye on him - but it appears that he will be okay! Thank goodness! We also have developed a better appreciation for him and will perhaps let him get away with squawking for the next little while. lol.

* Mikha did not intend to hurt the bird - but we will no longer allow the bird out with the dogs, and it appears that Tico has gained some fear and respect of the dogs - which is good.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Foto Friday

Good gosh, our house was DANG UGLY! I was going through some old photo's and found these...
Before and afters - We got rid of the pinkish paint, installed new garage doors, concrete driveway and improved the landscaping.

Wait till you see what lingers behind that front door...
This was the kitchen. There was a wall seperating the kitchen from the other living areas as you can see in this first picture. Taking out this wall really opened it up...
The after - New cabinets, flooring, countertops, backsplash, appliances, pot lighting and an island!
Dan being a stone mason - hated the bad brick work done on the fireplace. We replaced it with my personal favorite - travertine! Notice all the ugly stencilling everywhere? Ivy... stripes... it was awful!
New blinds, new paint... rid of the railings.
This is the best transformation! Wasn't this bathroom beautiful in blue! pft ;P Who would do such a thing??? Oh... wait... you haven't seen it all yet - wait till you see what they did to the ceiling of this bathroom...
Yes, that's right - clouds on the ceiling. It only took 3 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint to cover it! This nasty picture on the right is an example of the mess these people left this house in. I had a 2 and 3 yr old - this woman, and her husband and 3 teenage children left this house in such a state... we went in with masks and gloves! I was so furious with them, and unfortunately - the taste has never left my mouth... one reason why I am so anxious to sell and move on.

The bedrooms resemble the same type of hideous paintings and stencils... which I will save for another day.
After 5 yrs, we are almost completely done all the renos!! Yay!
Have a great weekend all of you in blogger world!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oxytocin Love!

Also known as the cuddle chemical, this hormone that is responsible for inducing labour, also plays a key role in adoption attachment! Who would have thought!? Oxytocin is responsible for creating the feeling of attachment or bonding. When you cuddle, breastfeed etc. your child, oxytocin is released making you both feel loved and helps to form a bond. Babies and children need loving touch to develop the oxytocin response that will teach them to bond with others.
Because most orphans are not held and cuddled as often as an average child, they have been found to have lower levels of oxytocin. This means that when you cuddle with your adopted child, the oxytocin that is released is a fraction of what it should be!... Meaning that bonding is not going to come as easy. What this means for adopted families is that to elicit the same amount of oxytocin in an adoptive child that you would see in your biological child for example, you would need to cuddle or play with that child 2-3 times as long!

So keep playing and cuddling!!
(I discovered this information in the book Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen. It is the best adoption book I have read so far, I highly recommend it!!)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dare you to move!

"Why don't you have one of your own?"

This question seems to be popping up more often, so I will answer it for all. We have been fortunate to be blessed with fertility, and I am completely capable of conceiving and carrying another child - however, after some long and careful thought, we have decided to adopt for these reasons:

1. Environmental, social, and economic problems either stem from or are increased in magnitude by the overpopulation problem. Dan's belief is - We have replaced ourselves with our 2 children... why add to the burden?

2. There are 146 million orphans in the world! It only makes sense to give one of these children a chance at life and a family to love them! By having another biological child - it would mean turning a child without a family away. It would mean one more orphan in the world.

3. My heart is broken for the orphans of the world... and I feel the need to do something about it. What if it were my little 6 yr old begging on the street corner, or my 8 yr old daughter having to sell her body for food to survive!

4. An adopted child would be my "own"... just not created from my DNA.

"Why don't you adopt domestically?"

1. Domestically adopted children are at high risk of FAS, drug exposure etc. Children here are given up typically because their Mother's are addicts etc. There are very few healthy infants/children in the system and the line up for them is very large...

2. If you know me, you know that African children have always been near and dear to my heart. The Children African's Choir came to stay in our home town when I was younger, and I will never forget my little African buddy re-counting the story of how his parents were killed in front of him by soldiers in jeeps and he and his sister ran into the jungle. One of these boys raised his 3 month old sister in the bush for a few months when he was only 3 yrs old!
The tragedy, and yet life that shone through their eyes was unforgettable.

3. Domestically, (and in the US).. orphans are not at risk of dying from starvation, malnutrition and disease like they are in Africa. Adopting from Africa may mean saving a life!

4. An orphan is an orphan - they all deserve a family. I don't see the world with borders... the orphan in Africa is just as deserving as the orphan in Canada. I don't play favorites - but would like to give to the one that is in greatest need.

Adoption is not for everyone, and quite honestly I never envisioned myself adopting as a young adult. Haiti - put the fire in my heart and then months and months of researching has put so many images and stories in my head that I just can't walk away from.

*EDIT - our journey has taken an unforeseen fork in the road. 2 months later, we are seriously giving the US program some consideration. You can read about it HERE.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fluoride, yes... Fluoride - NO!

Muffin's first trip to the dentist and I was rather amused by the way the question was posed to me."... do you think you want the fluoride?" with a tone that made it obvious that she already knew the answer! "No."

I know... I'm about to risk a chastising from all dental professionals out there. But consider this:
This is what we know about fluoride -
1.Fluoride is an acute toxin with a rating higher than lead!
2.Fluoride is a pollutant - a by-product of copper, iron and aluminum manufacturing.
3.The problem of how to legally dispose of fluoride was solved in the 1930's when a study (reportedly funded by one of the country's largest aluminum companies) concluded that fluoride prevented tooth decay.
4.Half a tube of fluoride tooth paste can kill a child!
5.You retain half of all fluoride ingested!
6.Ingestion of fluoride has known to cause these risks:
Risk to the brain.
Risk to the thyroid gland.
Risk to bones.
Risk for bone cancer.
Risk to the kidneys.

Does it prevent tooth decay? The verdict is out on that - just google it and you will find a multitude of conflicting reports. However - I could give a rat's arse! It's TOXIC WASTE - and that is undisputed! Why would I want to expose my child to a toxic waste? I don't care if it gave her the best teeth in the world! Honestly... let's think about this for a moment and think about how brainwashed we are to not even know what we are exposing ourselves to or to ask. I believe that corporations don't always act in the consumers best interest. Greed is a reality! I don't believe everything I am told. Research this for yourselves... please.

My Mom believed the same and did not allow us as children to have the treatments - heck they were doing it weekly at my school! I have suffered 1 cavity that I developed in my 20's and that is it! My teeth aren't rotting - and I still go to the ends of the earth to find my non-fluoridated toothpaste. If it's not recommended for babies, then clearly there is something wrong with it and it's not going in my mouth!

End of rant and back to the beginning - ;). I sat in the waiting room and found myself feeling great pride of our little community as every patient that walked in was asked the same question and the same answer was given. "No." I'm glad to find home in a place where the norm is not acceptable and people are taking charge of their own health!

Whatever your decisions may be... let them be based on your own research and some simple common sense!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why I love Mondays!

Alarm clocks starts to blast at 7am. I snooze it - after all, I didn't get to bed until 12:30! Wake up at 7:10... wake the children. Feed and dress the children. Make lunches... scoot them out the door at 8:20 (Dan took them today). I make my breakfast and saunter down to the dungeon to start my day - the start of my New Years Resolution #3 - 100% dedication to getting caught up on my paperwork. I file through my emails and zap off a couple invoices for Dan... then get a call from Dan at 9am. His Mom was to be admitted to the hospital today for observation while they adjust her meds and he just rec'd a call from the Dr. that he needs to get her there ASAP because they have an available bed for her.
(What about completing the adoption registration and in the mail first thing... and what about my pile of paperwork that NEEDS to be done today!?... - It shouldn't take long, they have a bed ready - I'll do it when I get back.)
So... I run upstairs, throw on some clothes, half of my face and a hat to hide under. Dan picks me up just as I'm putting on my boots. We run down to pick his Mom up and quickly get her to the hospital and report to Emerg. Emerg is FULL! They ask us to wait outside the waiting room, until a bed becomes available. (Ummmm... excuse me? I rushed here for this?). Dan has to meet with a client - so I stay to wait it out with her in the lobby. 30 minutes later we get paged - they have a bed available in Emerg., so they would like to put her there until a bed becomes available upstairs. (Seriously?!)
So, I wheel her in... get her dressed in her PJ's and into bed. 11am - Dan shows up and we agree to leave and come back. I complete the adoption application form - write the cheque and then being so organized, I put it in the copier to make a copy for my files. While this is copying I call Service Canada to figure out why I have not rec'd my verification number for ROE Web, as I need to get an ROE off for an employee today! As I'm on the phone the damn copier jams! GREAT!... so then over the course of the next 30 minutes, I am trying to fix the jam without ripping my stuck application form the copier's jaws of death and I deal with the Service Canada lady on the phone who is instructing me how to fix the problem I am now having with my computer when it will not load their website. (I had to download a Java software). Get that all done - stuff and address the envelope. 1pm - Dan comes and picks me up, we hit the post office and then the hospital to see if she finally got moved upstairs. Nope... and no one is "available" to talk to us. So we stand around trying to appear obvious that we want to talk to someone. (Has she had her lunch, has she had her medication?) Dan asks the front desk lady to get the attention of the nurses, as despite the fact that we are standing 2 feet from them - we are invisible to them! She told us they are just doing shift change and the nurse will be right with us. 15 minutes later, Dan has had enough and leaves to go get her medication from home. He gets back and we find out that there are no beds available upstairs yet, she has had lunch - but no meds. So, we give her the meds and leave to run back home as I still have to get our payroll remittance in today!!.
2:30 - I zap off the fastest remittance I have ever done... pass it Dan who then runs it to the bank. He agrees to pick up the kids at 3, as I still haven't completed the ROE. I spend 20 minutes trying to figure out the darn online form... have to call for help, she couldn't figure it out. I then realize they want me to fill all the blanks with zeros. Ugg. Finally get it printed... and then realize that our second company has a remittance this month too... call Dan. I quickly zap that one out.
Dan calls from the school... Muffin has art club? (Why is it the 17th already... yes - that's right she does.) Mister has hockey at 3:30 - we just remember - and Dan has an appt. at 3:30. He rushes home with Mister, switches vans... hands me the keys. Off I go to the hospital again... find her asleep in Emerg. and get the news that there is no beds available and she will be staying in Emerg. *Sigh... I leave her sleep and run to pick Muffin up from Art Class. After picking her up, we run to Mister's hockey practise - as he is currently being looked after by other Hockey Dads (remember the 3:30 appt?). Get home at 4:45 - and think... Tae Kwon Do - 5:30!... ummm, no - not happening. Then - dinner, what are we going to do about dinner? Dan saves the crisis with a quick shop at the store... something we never have - porkchops, potatoes and can corn! I know... not our typical, fish, salad with a side of asparagus type of meal... just good ol' fashioned chops and mushroom sauce. Eat, throw a load of laundry in, fold, tidy, Dan runs back to hospital, I get the kids ready for bed, homework with the Mister, bedtime story and tuck them in. Fold another load.. make a tea, sit down and exhale as I stare at the chaos of overflowing recycling, jackets not hung up, paperwork on the table, un-opened mail and the like... 9:24pm

And it's a wonder why I am so far behind on my paperwork. Canada Rev. Agency are you reading this!?

BUT... I did get my application off (as you tell from the terrible iPhone photo)

and was blessed to have the pleasure of tucking in 2 little angels. ;)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Toilet Paper Art!

Caiden's definition of art! I am always stumbling across his creations... but never quite to this scale! lol.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Years Resolution #2

Get Healthy

What is it with us as consumers that we feel like we need material things to achieve our goals? If only I had this, I could become this? I am guilty, I admit - I am really bad for this.
I splurged on getting a elliptical machine. Well... not really - it was a heck of a deal at 60% off after Christmas, and I really needed it after all! lol. In all seriousness though - I save on the gym pass, and get to work out in the convenience of my home - which allows me more time in the office.
Dan and the kids and I put it together - 2 hrs later... we get to turn it on it and Muffin and I tried the fan out, the heart monitor and then plugged in the iPhone (into the elliptical!!) and rocked it to Rehab! lol... watching Muffin singing and dancing around to that song was priceless.
Tomorrow the first work out of the year starts... with the weight I put on over our vacation and the Xmas holidays - some weight loss is in order. I hope to chronicle the loss along the way... this blog will hold me accountable!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We have taken the plunge!!!

... and it feels a bit surreal! After waiting one full year now on the waitlist (to join the official waitlist) for Ethiopia, it almost felt like it was never going to happen! Like it was all just a fantasy. One of my resolutions this year was to make this adoption happen - and so I am!

Today, I have confirmed with a private agency in BC that we will be registering with them. The papers have arrived today and are almost complete. Once the $3500 is paid (yikes!)... we will officially be well on our way to our Home Study.

No, I have still not heard hide nor hair about Ethiopia... in fact, the regulations just seem to get more and more difficult there and the process is moving at a snails pace.
Insert - DRC (aka CONGO). This is a new program in Canada, but is looking promising. The process seems to be relatively fast! The only kink - is that our agency will have to work with an US facilitator out of Georgia, and we will have to complete adoption education classes in Vancouver for 2 weekends for our home study. This sucks - not only is it going to add to the expense of the adoption, with travelling and hotels etc - but what do I do with my children!? Luckily, I have a pretty nice neighbour I think I can butter up! ;) On a positive note, Dan and I have not had a weekend together (sans children) since Muffin was born! 8 years!... so we are due!