Friday, May 25, 2012

9 Years Old!!

Ayden had gymnastics from 330 to 530, but I managed our traditional 'born at this time of day' shot...

Family birthday dinner; very excited about his gift

Friend party at the movie theatre

Ayden is such a cute kid.  He's in that in between age, where he is capable of maturity and complex thinking, yet also still believes in Santa Clause and is smitten with magic.  I love this age!!  He is so interesting to talk to, and his thought patterns and interests catch me off guard sometimes.  He has a deep sense of empathy.  He is thoughtful of the feelings of everyone, including people he has never met, and feels deep responsibility for the earth, social justice, fairness, accuracy, and his family.  He is also passionate about Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Star Wars, Wii, Lego, Lego, and Lego.  He LOVES his siblings and has a particularly soft spot for Riley and an even softer spot for Amarys, but even they are not allowed to mess with his Lego.  =)

Ayden is an accomplished artist and won an award for his art at his school.  He loves to read and burns through approximately a book per day, reminding me of my own childhood where I always had my nerdy nose in a book.  He's very interested in bugs and insects.  He's sensitive and has aversions to bodily fluids, puking, dirty diapers, bad smells, and all kinds of food things like food groups touching other food groups, being the wrong temperature, etc.  He's pretty particular.  But in life in general, he is easygoing.  And incredibly nurturing and helpful.  He sweeps, sets the table, comforts little owies, gently redirects little misbehaviors, and provides hours of entertainment for all of us.  Ayden is awesome.  I remember the day he was born so clearly, and I cannot believe that nine years have passed already.  I'm also blow away by how much of that tiny floppy baby with the sweet disposition remains in this nine year old pulled taffy boy... As they grow, you don't lose the baby you had, but rather add to him or her.  The same bright, pure joy we used to see in his face at the sight of our cat or the feeling of being tossed in the air, we see now over first snowfalls and ant colonies.  It's pretty neat.  For an intro to parenting, Ayden was pretty perfect.

Thanks buddy, for being cute and amazing and smart and funny and good at everything you do.  I love you so much.  ♥

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My daughter is a strong willed creature.  (you know this).  Today, she fought sleep from 11:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening, when Brent laid her down on the floor to change her diaper, and she finally succumbed to her tiredness and fell asleep mid change.  I'm glad she has a mind of her own!  But people: feel for me.  It is not like she is silently tired.  =P

I have been wrestling a cold lately, which muddles my brain, which often makes me forget to take my fish oils and vitamins, which makes me anxious.  I'm okay but it is taking concentrated effort to stay sane.

Brent and I were both going crazy today, feeling drained by Riley's constant intensity and Amarys' cranky wildness, so we took turns escaping for an hour to a coffee shop, alone.  That was bliss.  Until I got really nauseous and drove home really fast so that I could have explosive diarrhea in my own bathroom rather than a coffee shop bathroom, and spent the rest of the afternoon curled up in bed choking down pink stuff.  Shudder.

Amarys got ahold of Brent's ipod and somehow switched the language setting to German.  We can't figure out how to get it back.  If only she had chosen Russian or French, we would have been okay.

Riley is driving us batty these days.  I remember this stage with Ayden; too young (in my opinion) for preschool, but too old to be adequately entertained at home.  He's bored.  And driving us nutbar with his constant stream of requests for games he rapidly gets tired of, and devolves into a crying, begging, snarling mess of constantly asking for more screen time (Can I play Wii now?  Is a theme song around here: he is only allowed 30 minutes a day and the rest of the 22.5 hours in the day is spent pining after Wii).  I'm literally counting the days until preschool.  It's like the late stages of pregnancy; you love having the baby inside you until you just can't stand it anymore and want it OUT!  It's not like I want to be away from my kid~I love him and he's my easiest of the four by far.  But I know if he has intellectual and social stimulation for a few hours, three times a week, he will be much more enjoyable for the rest of the time that he is home.  Sweetness.  BUT the beginning of preschool marks the long march towards graduation and leaving the nest which I dread, so there's that...

I'm getting hate mail.  Not really exactly hate mail, but nasty insulting letters from one person, repeatedly, over an article I wrote on VBAC and posted on Mothers of Change (an old one that I posted in 2010).  I can't handle it.  I've always been fairly sensitive to criticism but right now I'm particularly vulnerable and am having a hard time putting it in its place.  Like, if you hate what I say (and me) so much, why don't you start your own blog about the life threatening effects of uterine rupture and scare the shit out of people and then you don't have to expect me to do it?  And everyone will love you for it.  Sheesh.

Ayden is not doing so well.  He has always been prone to worrying and doesn't react well to stress, but lately he has been a basket case.  Not falling asleep until midnight or 1 o'clock in the morning, licking his lips until they are raw and chapped and bleeding (an old nervous habit we haven't seen in years), crying with fear, refusing to go to the park, ride his bike, go to gymnastics, and coming home from school sick on five or six occasions and recovering within ten minutes of being home.  Not eating.  Breathing weird (deep and fast all the time).  Afraid of dying.  Convinced he is ill.
Our take on it is that he is actually anxious.  It started when we took Simon to Vernon last month, and Matthew got carsick in the van on the way up.  Ayden has an almost pathological fear of throwing up himself, and when he was trapped in the backseat with a vomiting brother beside him, he nearly threw up himself.  When we pulled over to help Matthew, extremely modest Ayden leapt out of the van in his underwear into a snowbank, in front of a parking lot with several other families in it.  We were so distracted with helping Matthew that we kind of didn't pay much attention, except to laugh at him for being so ridiculous.  He calmed down and we continued our trip, but since then he has been gripped with fear over possibly throwing up (and you know how nausea can be so easily suggestible?  Like if you even think about it, you feel a bit nauseous yourself?), and somehow developed fear that he has a breathing problem and that if he stops thinking about breathing his body will forget to do it and he will die.  Which of course lead to sleeping problems and difficulty with eating, weight loss, paleness, and more nausea.  And chapped lips. 
It all developed over time and suddenly a few weeks after our trip we had a sick boy who wasn't sick.  
He has always had difficulty falling asleep at night, but lately it has been SO bad, that I thought it was making the whole cycle worse.
We talked with Ayden about it and although he remained convinced he has an actual medical breathing problem, he totally agreed that he needs more sleep at night and wishes he got more.  I did some asking around and some online research and decided to try melatonin for him, low dose, for two weeks, to try and 'reset' his sleep cycle.  I also bought him some fish oils, since we talked about my anxiety disorder and how the fish oils really help me regulate it.  I figured that if we can start with sleep, it will be much easier to tackle the rest of it.  We're one week into the melatonin and it is a miracle hormone!!  He is falling asleep consistently at 8:30 to 9:00 pm.  His breathing issues have largely resolved.  He is happier, more relaxed, his colour is back, and his lips are healing.  And today Brent was able to have a long talk with him about fear, the root of his nausea, the autonomic nature of breathing, and the incident on the side of the highway in the van, and he really responded.  Brent is amazing at calming me down when I'm anxious, so he was the right man for the job with Ayden, as well. 
It is a work in progress, but we're making some amazing progress.  =)

After I picked the kids up from school I took them to the park to run off steam and enjoy the windy yet sunny day.  As I like to say, when we go anywhere we don't visit we INVADE, and the park was no different.  People look at me weird when I take everyone to the park, because (a) I have so many kids, (b) one of them looks different from me but calls me mom, (c) I have three boys, and (d) they are incredibly noisy and energetic.  Frequently in our area there will be a handful of moms at the park and some of them will obviously have daycares or look after a few extra kids for income (and love of children) because they will have four or five kids about the same age.  Not me.  My biological kids look so alike they could be triplets if they were the same height, and we are just so obviously a family. 
When I go to the park with just Riley and Amarys the other moms treat me very differently than when I go with everyone; it is remarkable how differently they relate to me.  (On the other hand I AM crazy and an anxoid with social phobias, obsessions, and overwhelming awkwardnesses so maybe I am reading far too much into reactions from other moms at the park).  It SEEMS TO ME that with one three year old and one one year old, I'm just another mom at the park.  But with a nine, seven, three, and one year old of mixed races I'm a wild freaky lady who probably has weird ideas and makes her kids eat only raw, organic vegetables and take three baths a day or something.  OR SOMETHING.  People never just chat with the mom with four kids.  They stare, and they tattle.
What's with adults who tattle?  Seriously.  I don't mind other moms who notice something my kids are up to while I'm distracted and alert me to it; particularly if they are polite about it, but mostly if they just have the attitude that it is pretty normal for kids to be kids, you know?  But I don't need grown ups running up to me and tattling for perfectly normal kid behaviour.
Now we all have different versions of 'normal kid behaviour' and I certainly have lots of grace for moms who have little kids and just don't know yet what a nine or a seven year old might be physically capable of.  You know, like climbing eight foot high trees and stuff.  But it is ALL IN THE DELIVERY.  Being cranky, confrontational, or outright rude is never cool, folks.  Never cool.
So anyways, Matthew starts off wildly stripping leaves from the branches of maple trees at the park.  Not super cool, but is it really going to hurt the tree?  No.  Then he starts pulling the lower branches back reeeeeally far and letting them go, yelling about slingshots and catapaults.  No one was in danger and again, did it really hurt the tree?  No.  So I let it go without comment.  Then he starts screaming at the top of his screechy little voice and running around the park like a stuck pig, but I figure he's got energy to burn and hopefully no one will complain about the noise.  Outside.  At a kid's park.  Then he starts climbing every tree and manages to get up in a pine tree but it is too far from the other kids at the park so he climbs another tree smack in the middle which is about eight feet off the ground, heavily laden with pretty sturdy, pollen saturated flowers (Matthew is very allergic to pollen but what's a mom to do; a kid's gotta be a kid right?).  Ayden sees this and wants to join the fun so up he goes, too.
Another mom at the park decides she's going to confront me on my childrens' behaviour.  I'm not sure if she disapproved of everything she saw me do prior to the tree climbing and disapproved of all of it, or if she's just really bad at interpersonal skills but, um.... Anyways, she was visibly angry. 

"Excuse me, but your children are shoving each other in that tree and I really think that they shouldn't be doing that."
I was actually speechless.  (Remember?  I'm socially awkward.  I can NEVER think of the right thing to say)  But I'm not down with her criticizing my kids' behaviour in a tree so I kind of look at her weird.  Like "You're weird" kind of weird.
"Those ARE your KIDS, AREN'T THEY?!!??"  She says, gesturing towards the tree.
"Yes, they are mine," I reply, suppressing flashbacks of other crazy women at the park accusing me of child abuse and neglect (and rudely asking if I was Matthew's foster mom), and gritting my teeth at the memory.
"They are shoving each other in that tree and I just think that is very dangerous!"  And she marches out of the park with her children in tow.

Hoity, toity.  Bitch.  Really, the most articulate thing I could think of to say was "FUCK OFF," which you don't say at the park with your kids running around, so I said "Oh really," and went back to watching my nine and seven year old have fun in a tree.  (Eight feet off the ground, I kid you not).

The worst part about TreeBitch Lady was that I was all funked up for hours afterwards.  It's because of me having a tough time with my anxiety and not remembering to take my fish oils and stuff, and it just reminded me of how we need to be kind to each other, because you really just never know.  Someone's mother could have just died, or their baby diagnosed with autism, or their husband with cancer, or she's considering declaring bankruptcy, or she's just wrestling an anxiety disorder and might need a little extra love. 

I better go to bed, lovelies.  That is all for tonight.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Baby Girl Chapman!

My friend Louise had her baby girl!!  Weeeee!!!   Congrats, Louise, Gary, Kai, and Koen on a VERY cute, very little, sweet baby girl...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

On Adopting

I stumbled upon a new blog today.  It rocks my socks.  It is called Love Is Not a Pie and deals with adoption from a ton of angles.  I read a bunch of her posts and I kept thinking YES!  YES!  and YES!!  An articulate, sensitive, thoughtful look at adoption and all its messy love.  And it got me thinking, too.

In retrospect, we were pretty naive going into adoption.  But you know, I think all of us are pretty naive going into parenting so this naivete may not really be all that unique.  I remember knowing I was naive, and reading everything I could get my hands on about adoption and glombing onto other peoples' adoption stories voraciously, just to try and rub off some of that naivete.  But how can you invent experience before you've experienced it?  And how can you fully be ready before your life arrives at your doorstep?  So we leapt, anyways.

I've alluded to this story before but never actually told it, out loud, here.  Not in full.  Where to start?  I will try to answer some of the questions that we get asked more frequently, since people seem to be particularly curious about those things, but I think mainly I will just tell you my story.  Because that's all we can really do, isn't it?  Put our story out there and pray it is heard?  Really heard.  The way it was intended.

We adopted because there are kids in the world who need adopting.  This is simple, but it is true.  We talked about adopting internationally when we were dating.  We always planned on it.  We got married, five seconds later I got pregnant, and hello, 9 months later, along came Ayden (9 years ago now!  Yikes!).  I remember railing at God in my first trimester (future Ayden, please don't be disturbed by this!  It was all just rather sudden and unexpected), yelling,
 all I want is an opportunity to lay a foundation in my marriage before I have children!  Isn't that a good thing to want?  I don't understand! 
It felt really unfair.  But then he was born and I was like, well okay.  The love is pretty cool.  Our marriage weathered him well.  Maybe it wasn't so bad, after all.

When Ayden was 12 months old, Brent said to me, "Why don't we adopt the next one?"  We hadn't decided where in the long term plan adoption would enter in, but our second child seemed like a good place.  We were young (27 and 29), but we were keen.  Attitude is half the battle, right?  Bring it on.  So we started the process, knowing it can take years to adopt a child internationally and not wanting Ayden to be an only child for too long.  All I can say with adoption is, expect the unexpected.  Sometimes it takes years.  And then there's us.  Ha ha ha haaaaaaa....  So there was a projected 2 to 3 year wait from application to proposal with Thailand at that time (application is the packet of papers including an application to adopt form which gets mailed to the appropriate agency in Thailand.  Proposal is the official packet of papers that comes BACK to you after you get matched with a child; it has their photo and medical and social information, background, age, name, etc).  We struggled with the decision of whether to go ahead with the plan to adopt for child #2, or to postpone our plans and have another biological child since the wait was going to be long.  After praying about it, we felt sure we were to go ahead and adopt.  We mailed off the application package, and lo and behold, the VERY NEXT DAY we received our proposal.

Adoption is so hilarious.  Actually, life is.  Oh my goodness.  We jumped up and down, we pored over his picture, we laughed and couldn't believe our luck.  So cool.

I was a tiny little bit disappointed he wasn't a girl.  I mean, I got over that quickly and I was glad Ayden would have a brother to mess around with, because every little boy needs a brother to wrestle.  But that little seed of disappointment made me feel really incredibly guilty.  What kind of a mother was I, feeling a small bit of disappointment when presented with a baby?  I was overwhelmingly glad, but that small bit was there.  For a small moment.  It was gone in an instant but it tore a hole in my confidence in myself as a mother.  I kind of slipped, you know?

We waited impatiently for a court and hence a travel date.  We were pumped.  We were EXTRA PUMPED when we got a call before Christmas of that year, knowing that our best Christmas ever would be the one where we met Matthew (it was).

One night in Thailand, after we walked the terrifically insane grief of relinquishment (essentially ripping a kid from his foster mom's loving arms and breaking both their hearts), we traveled to Bangkok to finalize legally.  In the hotel one night Brent left after Matthew was asleep, meeting up with some friends.  We figured Ayden would go down easily and I could relax, win-win-win.  Ah, naivete.  See, any experienced parent knows that just when you are counting on a night off or a good sleep, the Universe fucks you over.  When I went to put Ayden to bed, he freaked out and woke up Matthew, and so both small, barely verbal, overtired, overwhelmed, transitioning, traveling, and LOUD children were awake and screaming.  Like, SCREAMING.  I had never in my life been the sole care provider for two children under 2.  I didn't know how to meet both their needs at the same time.  I had no way of contacting Brent for help.  I was tired, overwhelmed, jetlagged, and transitioning myself, and so I lost my shit.  I yelled and screamed, and tried to put Ayden in the bathroom to calm him down and knocked his head against the sink accidentally, further igniting his fury and decimating any remaining confidence I had in myself as a mother.  That right there, that minute where I freaked out and didn't pay close enough attention and smacked Ayden's head into the sink while both kids wailed?  That's it.  That's the moment I remember devolving and watching it happen and being utterly powerless to stop it.  I can't remember what I did after that; probably sat down on the carpet and cried, maybe threw my hairbrush at the wall.  I somehow got both kids to sleep again, because when Brent came back several hours later I was frazzled and wild eyed, but presiding over sleeping children.

When we flew home, Matthew didn't cope well.  His body couldn't adjust to the time change.  He was very wary of us.  He rejected me outright (this is common in toddler adoptions; to reject one parent, and in 75% of cases it is the adopted mother who is rejected).  He withdrew.  He lost his sense of humor, his ability to respond to tickling, and his smile.  He didn't play.
Then after a week or so, he started to play a little again.  He started to adjust to the time change, though not fully until two weeks had passed.  And the floodgates opened, and he started to cry.
He cried and he cried and he cried.

This is sad.  Of course this is sad!  It makes me weepy just thinking about it.  But living with it 24/7, you start to go a little insane because you cannot fix it.  I have this theory that parents are hard wired to respond when their children cry; this is why those tiny infant wails bother parents so much when other people hardly notice them, you know?  This child was sad, and  eventually every crying session was a finger pointed inside my failure to respond in a way that could comfort him.  I'd look at him and think, I'm angry.
And then I would feel overwhelming guilt.

One day three weeks after we brought him home, I was washing his face after a meal and he started up wailing again, his sad little drone complete with snot and blue lips and reproachful glare, and I reached out and smacked his cheek before I had any idea that it was going to happen.  I was astounded at myself.  Who was I?  How did I get this angry?  What was wrong with me?!! 

I know now that I was insane with anxiety, and depressed as well, but I had no idea that depression could manifest as anger, or that anxiety was something I was prone to, or that guilt could morph into something so ugly and destructive, so quickly, so fully.  I failed in that moment, so colossally that I still wrestle immense guilt over it, and it knocked me off course and I nearly shipwrecked and left my family, the anger was so bad.  And I just walked around feeling failure and anger and guilt and self hatred, for months. 

I know post adoption depression (and anxiety) exists because I lived through it.  I found professional help and it sucked.  Can I just say that aloud, here, finally, with some degree of justified anger?  I reached out and went to a counselor and was wide open willing to do whatever it took to get to the root of my anger and fix myself and my counselor sucked.  How awful is that?  He was terrible.  It is so hard to find good help for mental health in this country, it is disgusting.  The health and well being of my small family was entirely on the line and the health professional I went to for help failed me.  I mean, partly he was just ill equipped to deal with my case, and had poor intuition, and partly I've noticed that it is particularly vulnerable to reach out and find mental health professionals and when they fail us, it evokes massive anger because we were hurt when so utterly vulnerable, so my reaction is strong because of that.  But  mostly, he just sucked at his job.

I mucked around in the darkness in pain and so obsessed with my failure and consumed by guilt, it got in the way of me healing and functioning in any healthy or consistent way with my children.  But I kept walking.  Sometimes I would hide in my closet and pound on the door in anger.  Sometimes I would yell and stomp around, scaring the kids with my unpredictable irritability.  Most of the time, I stuffed my anger and took care of their needs but didn't look them in the eye.  I praised their little accomplishments, sat on the floor and played with them, took them to the park and playdates and the mall, but I didn't look them in the eye.  I didn't feel I deserved to, and I was afraid they would see the intense anger in my eyes.

See how undiagnosed, untreated mental illness can destroy a family?  Imagine if I lived like that forever?  Or simply gave up trying to get better, or get to the bottom of what was wrong?  I didn't have a name for what was wrong, so I was powerless in the face of it.

Do you know what helped me the most, that time?  Support from Brent, my mom, Sara, and Ro were the most helpful.  They got me through the daily grind believing I might still be worth redeeming, if I could just somehow get better.  The next most helpful thing~now don't laugh at me too hard here, people~was Dr. Phil.  No, I said don't laugh at me too hard!!  I like his show, and at that time I used to watch it (I have absolutely no time for tv watching at 3 in the afternoon these days but I did then) pretty regularly.  He wrote a book called Family Matters and I bought it.  I was reading a fictional book about a girl with a really atrocious father whose anger I could relate too a little too closely, and simultaneously this Family Matters book by Dr. Phil.  One day I put the fiction book down and I thought, I cannot read this or I will die of guilt and sadness.  And I picked up the Family Matters book to the page on Inner Monologue. 

Essentially it talked about how you talk to yourself inside your head.  Dr Phil said to listen to that voice, and pay attention to what it was saying a little more closely.  Because you need to be kind to yourself, and also positive, if you want to behave kindly and positively towards people.  I skimmed over it and thought, "yeah, okay.  Check!  My inner monologue is fine."  But because he had pointed it out I started to tune into my inner monologue and started to realize that it was pretty psychotically negative.  Stuff like my parenting was so bad I pretty much assumed Matthew would be a rapist or a serial killer because if it.  I hate myself.  I'm ugly.  I am a failure.  I'm a fuckup.  I never get anything right.  It is a mistake that I'm a parent; the Universe or God made some miscalculation and I wasn't supposed to be a mother because I'm unfit.  I'm a bad mother.  I'm an unfit mother.  I can't be trusted.  I'd be better off dead.  My children would be better off if I were dead.  Matthew would have been better off with K (his birth mother) or L (his foster mother), and if they could see me parent they would hate me.  I'm a terrible person.  And it went on.  I think on average people think around 30,000 thoughts a day?  Mine were ALL different variations of this. 

Wow, I thought.  That's fucked up.  So I tried to change some of those thoughts.  Little by little, day by day, I examined my thoughts and chose to modify them just a little bit.  Dr. Phil says that children are healthy emotionally if they display 'authentic joy.'  I sat back and watched my kids play and saw them exhibit authentic joy all the time!  Even Matthew, who by this point was transferring his attachment to me, and spent far more of the day playing and engaging the people in his family and his life and far less of the day crying (though he still did a LOT of that, too; he had difficulty with emotional regulation that went beyond grief and lasted for a long time).  His eyes, once I started looking in them again, sparkled.  Perhaps there was hope for me?  Ayden's eyes, too, they sparkled with joy.  Not when I let my stuffed anger spill out and stomped and yelled and freaked out, but most of the time it was stuffed and they just vibrated with the joy and curiosity that comes with being a child wrapped in the arms of a loving family.  My anger just fell away in waves.  I was a million, billion times lighter.  And I could do it.  Bit by bit, step by step, in my head, just me and God and my thoughts, I changed my inner monologue into something happier, more positive, and more grounded in reality.

It took me a long time to relinquish the guilt over what I dragged my family through during that time period, and particularly how much harder I made an already impossibly difficult task Matthew had of transitioning to a new family.  I still have to crop it back every now and again.  But mainly, particularly since being diagnosed with postpartum anxiety/OCD after Riley was born and getting treatment that HELPED (!!!!!!!!), I feel compassion for myself.  I was mired deep in a viper pit in the dark, fighting with nothing but my bare hands.  I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what, though I wanted desperately to turn the lights on and see what I was dealing with.  Get my hands on some weapons that are effective with vipers.  How many other adoptive parents experience this, and are in utter isolation?  No one talks about post adoption depression, and most people don't know it exists.  PPD is not hormonal.  And it is very, very real.


Today was Ayden's friend birthday party.  Brent was working nights but Ayden really wanted his party at the movie theatre and tonight was the only date they had available so I roped Brent's mom into helping me and we took ten children to the movies by ourselves.  Two of those ten children have ADHD.  One is scared of movies.  One is three.  One is one.  Ten were insanely hyper. 
We pay for this?  Sheesh.

The kids all had a BLAST, and somewhat remarkably, we came up with pretty much exactly the amount of cash we needed for a party like this one.  And so my kid is happy.  And it was worthwhile, as a result. 

I'm beat.  More soon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

There and Back Again

I'm sorry I haven't posted lately.  Wow, life has been busy around here.  Nothing amazing or life shatteringly different, just busy in a way that makes blogging always get pushed aside. I love blogging so I don't imagine I will ever peter out completely, but I can see scaling it back a bit.  Well, I guess I kind of already have without consciously choosing it.  I'm going to cut back on my online commitments, and focus my efforts a little more when I am online.  As it is, I'm constantly feeling guilty for not doing enough with my online work, and also not feeling like I ever (ever) have enough hours in a day to get my real life stuff done (what parent ever does?).

But the thing is I have lots of thoughts!  About everything!  And I want to write about all of it.  It has to come out somewhere, and this has been my spot for years.  Years, can you believe it?!  Crazy how time flies.  It is funny because you lovely few people keep reading, and we keep connecting, even through lots of life change and some wild discussions.  And some philosophical differences.  And religious ones.  And it's all good.  And I LOVE all your blogs and thoughts and discussions...

I wish there were forty eight point seven hours in every day.  I wish I could live nine lives.  I wish life could go on for six hundred years for each of us.  Give or take.  I wish I could give birth a million times.  I wish I were skinny.  I wish my feet didn't hurt all the time.  While I'm wishing I may as well throw in some good stuff.  Oh yes, and I wish we would win the lottery.  Woot!

I wish I could say I always follow my own philosophies in life.  I wish I never made any mistakes as a parent.  I wish I was not so socially awkward.  I wish I lived in Maui.  I wish we could just live and not have to work at jobs.  Wouldn't that be lovely?  I wish my kids would stay young forever.  I also wish they were grown so I could finish a sentence without interruptions, spend some solitary time with their dad, savor a meal, or read a book during the day.  I wish I had more time to paint, every single day, every single week, every single year.

My life has had some things happen which I have not had time to blog about!  They are medium to large in importance so I will try to cover some of them in short form to get them down on 'paper,' and hopefully expand on them later.

So this winter I mentioned I started snowboarding again.  It. Is. Awesome.  I have not snowboarded since I was nineteen because it's so freaking expensive, but my BF (whose name is Rowenna~Ro for short) started going to free ladies' nite night skiing at one of our local mountains and was like get your damn board and get in the freaking car and board with me, dammit.  So I did.  And it was breathtaking.  The mountain we board at is the lamest mountain I've ever carved, and the first night we went it rained on us.  The snow was so heavy it was like mashed potatoes and my legs only lasted three runs, but it was AWESOME!!!  We went again the following week and it was indescribably beautiful that night; cold, clear, and gorgeous.  We could see the entire city of Vancouver laid out at the foot of the mountain.  It was spectacular.

And yes, Ro wears a helmet and I do not.  This is a matter of finances and not lack of common sense.  Although I grew up skiing and boarding with no helmet so it takes some effort to remember this might be a good idea (same with riding horses).

Anyways, we got NINE runs in, and we were in an awesome groove, going really fast and having tons of fun.  On our final run I caught an edge and was going super fast, fell forward, and smashed my knee into some very (very) hard ice.  The snow had been slush and rain mixed, then frozen solid, with only a very small skiff of powder on top; some of the iciest conditions I've ever skied or boarded.  I was going SO fast.  And I hit SO hard, oh my gosh.  It was one of those situations you read about in books, where people hear some yelling and then realize it is coming out of their own mouth?  Yeah.  Sorry grandma, some F bombs may have been uttered.  =)
All I could think of was
I am NOT going down this hill in a fucking basket.
You know those first aid baskets that get pulled by a snowmobile with injured skiers in them, and a dorky siren to alert everyone to the fact that some dumbass couldn't handle the snow?  Yup.  I was determined to stay out of that basket.

So after a few minutes of pain so deep it made my eyes cross, I got up, hopped a few times, very feebly, to test my knee, and very slowly rode the rest of the way down the mountain.  I couldn't bend it.  I could hardly weight bear.  I was in so much pain it kept taking my breath away.  Ro was all, put some snow on it! and I'm so sorry!  (because she really likes to apologize for things that are not her fault and I'm forever smacking her for it.  Mentally.  Out loud.  Is that confusing?  I'm sorry).  And I was like
DRIVE ME HOME.  No snow.  I don't know why.  DRIVE ME HOME.
Anyways, it took weeks for me to be able to function without massive pain.  I ate advil like candy and iced it all the time.  I tend to avoid going to the doctor so I avoided it.  Two weeks later the swelling went down enough so that I could see my kneecap again.  The pain was still incredible but I got my range of motion back to about 90 %.

After six weeks of advil, ice, and random shrieking when the kids would bump into the inside of my knee, I figured it was well enough to board on again.  I could weight bear, turn, jump, twist, and everything without pain, it was when I  bumped the wrong spot that I hit the roof (still).  The swelling was gone and the bruise was light green.  Almost gone.  So I went again.  (Don't hit me).
I didn't fall.  I went super slow.  I was so cautious it was barely fun.  Except that it was totally awesomely fun.  =)  But the next day my knee hurt so bad and it was swollen like a mothereffer again, so I finally caved and went to the doctor.
Thorough exam.  X-ray.  Medial meniscus injury, ligament sprain, peripheral nerve damage and bone contusion x 2 (mostly on the head of my tibia, on the inside of my knee, but the second contusion~another name for bruise~was on my kneecap)

See the label that says "Medial Condyle?"  My injury is right where that label is pointing to.
I had physiotherapy.  I loved my physiotherapist.  He rocked my socks.  He was young, like early twenties?  And hence he showed his age and inexperience with life.  You know, like when he asked me what line of work I'm in and I said I used to be a paramedic but I retired after I had my fourth child, and he was like, So why did you retire?
No seriously.  He couldn't see how the fourth child could logically conclude in me quitting.  And when I explained it in more detail he asked me So what do you do to keep busy?
No seriously.

Fortunately I am forgiving, particularly when it comes to innocent young kids acting like professionals and pretending they can hold up their end of a conversation.

And he really did know his way around a knee injury, and discharged me from physio as soon as possible which I TOTALLY respect.  You know how some medical professions can keep you dragging back for more treatment long after it is necessary?  Not this dude.  In fact I think he sent me on my merry way one treatment too soon.  But that's okay!

I still have trouble if I walk long distances.  I can't run.  I definitely can't snowboard, but ski season is over anyways so that's okay.  I fell off the fitness bandwagon shortly after I got on it last fall, but lately I have been itching to run again but there's just no way.  My physio kid said bone contusions take a long time to heal but that I will be fine (I concur).  The nerve damage is just from being crushed during the fall, and only resulted in a numb patch of skin above my injury.  Which is weird but doesn't interfere with my body's ability to function in any way except detecting mosquitoes.  Nerves take 6 to 12 months to heal so I'm looking at numb knees for awhile.  Well, numb knee.


But it could have been SO MUCH WORSE!  I didn't break any bones, need any surgery, tear any ligaments or tendons, or even damage the part of the meniscus that is involved in joint function.  My lack of range of motion is due to swelling, not damage, since the injury is to the inner part of my knee and the end of the long bone.  One inch to my left and I would have shattered my kneecap, which is more fragile and prone to injury.  Whew.

In other news, Matthew has been successful in being kind and inclusive with his peers lately, which is a huge step forward.  He continues to struggle academically but make significant improvements, particularly now that he's been identified and given an adjusted educational plan.  Now he only needs to compare to himself and improve at the pace that suits his learning style and capabilities and maturity level the best.

I have been sharing my omega 3 fish oils with him, since I heard it can help ADHD (which we still don't have confirmed he has but we're pretty sure).  I'm wrestling with the idea of a gluten free diet for him, although it is just so daunting it is hard to actually start.  The key here is his weight.  He is SO tiny.  He averages about 38 pounds; sometimes tipping 40, sometimes dipping down to 36.  He is the shortest kid in his class by far, and is literally off the growth chart on the bottom.  He always has been, and he is growing, developing, energetic, his eyes are bright, his hair is black, and he's not obviously malnourished or displaying signs of any health problems that might be related to small size or difficulty with weight gain.  HOWEVER.  The main side effect of ADHD medication (which we are not against whatsoever in any way shape or form) is weight loss due to decreased appetite.  As you can see, Matthew has no room for even a two pound weight loss.  The more we can help his ADHD with natural methods, the lower the dose he will need to take, and the more we can mitigate the side effects.  But OMG.  Gluten free.  Just: OMG.  Sigh.

The fish oils seem to possibly be working somewhat.  A few days in, I noticed we had a really nice afternoon together, me and the kids; it was calm and peaceful, everyone interacted well with everyone else, and it reminded me of times when Matthew's not around.  But he was there!  And I enjoyed it so much!  I enjoyed HIM so much!  It was lovely.  The next day was back to business as usual but that one day of reprive was noteworthy.
And then today I had an IEP meeting with his teachers and principal and his teacher said today I tested his reading of high frequency words (as she does periodically) and he BLEW ME AWAY.  He was so focused, and he read 150 of them.  ALL of the grade one words, ALL of the grade two words, and some of the grade three words.  I thought you had drugged him.  I seriously thought you had gone to the pediatrician already and started him on medication and forgot to tell me.  It was amazing.
Can I thank the fish oils?  I have no idea.  But we won't be stopping the fish oil at any rate, since it might be making a noticeable difference in his ability to focus, control impulses, and relate to others.

It is hard to describe how fully ADHD impacts a child's primary relationships in a way that people can fully understand.  We are positive people, intentional parents, thoughtful parents, and we try hard to be gentle and positive and responsive when we parent.  And yet still the amount of time we spend correcting and redirecting and implementing consequences for his behavior is astronomical.  It is absolutely the majority of our interactions with him.  And this has a negative impact.  We have strong, secure bonds with him and are well attached, and he knows we love him.  He exhibits all signs of a well loved child.  But any child gets worn down by a constant negative nagging, you know what I mean?  He frustrates the shit out of us daily, and he knows it.  Part of him thinks this is funny, part of him thinks it is simply the way the world works because he's never known anything different, and part of him gets a tiny bit bummed out by all the nagging.  We LOVE him and want to simply enjoy his exuberant and unique personality, but we have to spend so much time teaching basic social skills, enforcing safety (he has the same level of awareness of traffic as a two year old.  ie, NONE), and reigning in his impulses to grab, punch, kick, bite, scream, poke fun at, irritate, and push the emotional buttons of his siblings (and us), that we rarely have a moment to breathe, let alone enjoy his personality.  If medication can bring that kind of relational peace to us in even a small way, I will be eternally grateful.  Period.

It is hard to write about him accurately without sounding all grouchy and negative.  We think he's awesome, and we love him fiercly!  And he has TONS of positive interactions with us and knows he is loved, down to the core of his soul.
His teacher said to me today after the IEP meeting, Matthew always writes in his journal and his creative writing stories about his family.  You can really see he knows he has a solid place in this world, and that his world really is his family.  It is so good to see.

His whole world is his family.  And he knows he is loved.   Above all, this is what I want for my child.  To have a solid foundation, a safe nest, a warm place to lay himself open and be himself, and to grow from there.  To one day step out and build his own nest, his own world, his own dreams and vision and life, and to feel loved.

After his psych assessment for learning disabilities, the next step is a pediatrician appointment to get a diagnosis and treatment for his specific issues.  So I took him to my doctor (the one who said, he doesn't have ADD because he sat still like an angel and didn't say boo the entire appointment; totally out of character and ridiculously poor timing) and she referred him and the pediatrician's office phoned back with an appointment for OCTOBER.  Fucking Canada.  SIX MONTHS.  I about shit myself.  I seriously considered driving forty five minutes to the U.S. and paying someone out of pocket for an immediate appointment and diagnosis.  This would not be practical however, since he would need ongoing care.  But I went back to my doctor and she interrupted my request for her advocacy with an offer to advocate.  She said absolutely no way could he wait six months and that she would get her receptionist to work on getting him in sooner.  I forgave her for thinking he doesn't have ADD in that moment, because she knew.  She got it.
Also the principal of our school, when I phoned and told him the appointment was in October, asked for the pedi's phone number and name and called her office.  And asked to speak to her directly.  And advocated for Matthew to be seen "Today if you can, although if you cannot see him until tomorrow, we understand!"  He was joking of course, but in a way that showed her a sense of the urgency of Matthew's particular case.  How awesome is our principal?  Like, HOW AWESOME?  I wish it were socially appropriate to kiss him.  Because I totally would.

There are several reasons why October won't work.  #1 is that six months is too long for Matthew to hang in limbo and fall further and further behind academically.  #2 is that this means we wait until another school year before getting treatment and starting to focus on catching up and bending the IEP around his needs and his response to treatment.  But most importantly is #3, and that is the fact that teachers and support staff must develop an IEP for that current year for each identified child by October 31st.  If he sees a pedi for the first time on October 2nd, he may not be diagnosed by October 31st, let alone treated and re examined in a timely fashion in a way that leaves his support staff enough time to create an IEP that serves him for the following six months.  Waiting until October doesn't set us back six months (which is too long in the first place).  It sets us back a YEAR.

The pedi's office phoned back and got us in on June 24th.  Happy dance.  (May would have been happier, but at least it is before next year, and even actually before the end of this school year although a diagnosis may not be forthcoming before summer).  I also phoned and got Matthew on the cancellation list for the pedi's office so if anyone phones to cancel, we can skip the line and hop into their spot.   (Pray, people.  Pray hard).
I know he's not bleeding out his Colon or dying of cancer, but his disability is pretty critical.  It significantly impacts his relationships, his quality of life, his ability to learn, and the translation of his remarkable intelligence into a language the outside world can comprehend.

Crazy life.  A few other things that are happening around here; I got a job.  Working from home, making my own hours, and making $20 an hour.  My friend owns a business doing search engine optimization for companies, and improving their online presence, websites, social networking, etc.  I'm one of his writers.  This works amazingly well because I can scoot downstairs for two hours when Brent is awake or home on days off, and workworkwork on my own time doing something I already do a lot of.  Write.  It's not high quality writing and I'm not earning any nobel peace prizes but I am earning some money.  And working with my friend is so great.  He's so funny and creative and full of energy and ideas, it is pretty inspiring to work with him on a regular basis.  It helps a bit with the bills.  Makes us not have to stretch $60 to feed six people for two weeks, but rather add $200 here and there each two or three weeks, and voila we can eat more than rice and beans!  And we can have fresh produce midway between paycheques!  Phew.

I've also been crocheting lots, although my orders dropped off suddenly so I'm not sure what's up with that.  Want a toy for the awesome kid in your life?  A unique toy with lots of imaginative possibilities?  =)  I've got an app for that.  Or an item.  Whatever.  Check out my store!

Also, my first baby turned nine.  I have to do a post for him.  My youngest two were dedicated in church last sunday and it was very, very emotional and good for my soul.  My kids are so sweet.  I will post about that too, separately.  We had a wonderful Mother's Day (the babies were dedicated on Mother's Day; how about that for perfect?).  My good friend Louise is counting down til her baby girl is born!  Coming up on May 22nd!  WOOT!

Isn't she pretty? =) I stole this from her blog without permission

I'm super pumped for her; she has two boys and this was their final baby so I'm super glad she gets to add some pink to her house just like I got to when my final baby came along.

And yes, she's the final one.  It's official, final, and sealed with permanent surgery.  So unless God asks us to adopt again (which is not in our official, small, human plan), the Vose Six will remain six until Ayden and Matthew start having babies (please Jesus let that be when they are OLD ENOUGH to have babies, and not in high school, oh please).

That is all.  Thank you for reading this novella.  I love you all.  Goodnight ♥

Quote of the day

"Good moms sometimes spank. Bad moms sometimes co-sleep. Some good moms are bad moms on occasion. And the world keeps spinning round and round. The ironic part for me- The best moms probably spend less time arguing on Facebook, and more time actually being a mom."

~I Know a Good Mom Who Spanks at  Naturally Born

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

14 Months Old!

Amarys is fourteen months!  Nutty.  In fact, I call Amarys 'Peanutty' and 'Peanut Butter' as variations of 'Peanut' all the time, so it is appropriate that it feels nutty that she is growing in leaps and bounds.  Dudes, she's growing up at warp speed~the more kids I have, the faster it goes... I just love her so much.  Which shouldn't surprise me anymore, since I love all my kids so much, but it really does feel astonishing that I can hold so much love for another being inside me, and not split open and die.  Multiplied by four.  How is there room in me for so much love?

Amarys is a spicy nut.  She's particular and everyone knows it.  On the one hand, it would be so great if our circle of amazing family and friends could develop a deeper relationship with her and really get to enjoy her vivacious personality; for now, she is still very standoffish.  On the other hand, it is who she is.  And we celebrate her.  We all know she will warm up eventually, because our circle is so full of wonderful, loving, amazing people~ and so we should just cherish these moments when the Vose Six are her entire universe.  And in fact she is already starting to branch out.  She played with my mom when we went to Vernon to adopt out Simon, and she ran up to her Aunt and hugged her legs today, before running away like she had touched a fire, screeching whenever Auntie looked at her afterwards.

She also seems to be settling, in her soul.  She has developed trust for us as her parents to respond when she needs us and to love her unconditionally, and she is slowly expanding her exploration comfort zone.  She will happily cruise up and down our stairs, tossing shoes and filling them with surprises, for up to half an hour.  She can feed herself 100% independently now, including utensils (even soup!).  She is a fabulous eater, and eats anything.  She LOVES meat and prefers it over anything else.  She is petite and delicate in stature but ferocious in spirited personality.  Sometimes we call her 'Angry Bird' because she really is light and tiny like a bird, and often enough she is sooooo angry about some thing or another.  She can get angry because you smiled at her, took her photo, or tickled her when she didn't want you to.  Or because she can't walk when she has MY shoes on because they are too big and heavy.  Or because she wanted to walk up the stairs on her own and you didn't get her telepathic mind memo regarding it.  She has a new noise for "I want that."  Remarkably, the noise is polite and pleasant!  It is just a noise and not a phonetic sound per se, but it is phrased like a question, rising at the end.  She will point and make her noise, and hopefully someone tunes into what she wants rather soon, or she will hit the floor in frustration.  We do baby sign language with her, but she's not that into it.  She would really rather just communicate in her own way, which is fine!  The one sign she consistently uses eleventymillion times a day is 'milk.'  If you don't look at her when she's communicating with you, she slaps you.  Hard.  Open palm, to your chest if she can reach it, or your arm if she can't.  If she can manage it, she will slap your face, but generally she can't reach.  She also likes to slap me while she breastfeeds.  She slaps the boys all the time, scratches their faces, and pulls their hair.  But sometimes, she gives them hugs instead, and once in awhile she will back her sweet little bum onto their laps for a cuddle.

She's got a hate on for diapers these days, and prefers to be naked.  She also hates the potty so I'm not down with diaperless in the cool edge of early spring.  Maybe in the summer when she is cruising around outside more and it isn't so cold!  I have a heck of a time changing her diaper and have resorted to fastening the clean diaper before I slip it on~she will generally consent to lying down to have her dirty diaper taken off, and then she's kicking me hard and flailing like a pit of snakes the second I pull out the clean one... If I let her stand to slip on the new one though, she will go with it.  For now.  =)  I'm sure that will change in the next few days!

She's a sleep fighter, too.  Ugh.  Getting her to sleep is a huge deal, and if she doesn't sleep in her regular rhythm she gets WAY out of whack and it takes days to readjust.  I've always felt that people who plan their entire days around their kids' body rhythms were kind of whack jobs.  Inflexible whack jobs.  Like, I'm all for encouraging a pattern so our kids know what to expect, physiologically; we generally sleep at this time and wake at this time and eat at this time, etc, but never deviating?  I don't get it.  Kids will adjust.  They will nap on the go or eat snacky meals or whatever, and you just tough out some crankies and get back to the rhythm as normal the next day.  Right?  Well I'm starting to get it with Amarys.  She's SO CRANKY when you deviate from her regular pattern and it takes SO LONG to get back to it, that it is tempting to arrange my life around it.
I would, actually, if she didn't fight sleep so hard.  She needs to sleep around 11:30, for about two hours.  She will sleep at this time about 20% of the time.  The rest of the time she falls asleep sometime between 2 and 3 pm, once she has utterly exhausted herself and me.  Not for lack of trying.  What's the point in arranging your whole life around being home at 11:30 every day if she's not even going to fall asleep then?  Poor kid.  You make your own bed, and then you won't lie in it.
She hasn't pulled a middle of the night party in awhile (knock on wood), so there's that!  She pretty regularly goes down around 8:30, gets up to nurse and join us in our bed around midnight, and sleeps heavily until around 6 a.m.  She won't get up for the day til 7:30 but she wakes up off and on every ten to fifteen minutes to breastfeed from 6 to 7:30 or so.  She always sleeps on her stomach, and has since she was four months old and could wiggle her way over on her own.  She'll thrash around while she's falling asleep but I can always tell she's about to crash into a deep sleep when she rolls onto her tummy, tucks her legs up, sticks her bum in the air, and folds her arms up under her chest.  She's so sweet.  She also cannot fall asleep with any type of blanket on her at any time, ever.  Some of her night wakings around midnight have to be about temperature regulation, because she will feel cool when I go to her room to pick her up, and warm up quickly while nursing and thrash around kicking my blanket off her legs and detangling from the sheets.  This arrangement makes me rather cold, but we've worked out a system of several blankets and certain angles and tucking that seems to work!

As for her especial passionate loves, which of course she has just as strongly as her passionate dislikes, she is particularly taken with shoes.  She loves her own shoes and brings them to us, hands them over, and then picks up her little foot to tell us that she wants them put on, about eleventythousand times a day.  Seriously.  And then she stomps around, all proud of herself.  She also loves my crochet toys.  She snuggles them all the time.  She loves her brothers.  She climbs up on the window seat in our livingroom by herself and cruises around, watching the neighborhood, or us, and babbling comments.  She loves her own tummy and will frequently lift her shirt to show it off, point to it, and chatter away in a tone that denotes surprise, happiness, and some sort of secret inside joke, all at once.  She calls everyone in our family "Mama," and generally yells it at the top of her lungs at whoever she is talking to.  She knows how to say "Dada," but he usually gets MAMA just like everyone else.  She claps when she's really taken with something.  She's tough as nails; she can fall and rebound off some sharp edge or hard surface, and she's back running without skipping a beat.  She knows how to wrestle.  She knows how to make the appropriate vehicle noises when pushing a toy truck or car or airplane, and she's pretty clueless as to what you're supposed to do with a doll.  She has one doll she likes but she only really likes it because it makes noise when you squeeze it.

She loves to choose her own clothes and is quite opinionated about it.  She's often wearing some combination of pyjamas and long sleeved shirt, but at night she will invariably pick fleece one piece PJs which make her sweat so much she can't sleep.  I need to put the fleece away out of sight one of these days.  Of course, she'd rather be naked much of the time anyways.

She loves our cat and picks her up by the armpits all the time (what are those on a cat; legpits?), dragging the cat around on her butt because Amarys is too short to carry the cat.  Paige totally puts up with it and even seems to like it, which is hilarious after 8 years of little boys harassing her.  You would think she would hate all little kids, but she doesn't.  Whenever the cat comes in the room Amarys makes her "I want that" noise, points, laughs, and runs over to poke her or lift her up by the legpits.

She's pretty sensitive; if I yelp or raise my voice (can you imagine that I would ever need to do that, in a household with three wild boys in it?) she will sometimes cry.  Especially if she's tired, and especially if she caused the yelp.  She bites when she's breastfeeding, and damn if it doesn't make me yelp pretty loud.  Not the occasional nip, like other babies.  She full on BITES.  Yowch.  Then I yelp and bring her up to eye level and tell her no, and her face crumples and she starts wailing like I hurt her feelings.  Yikes!  Brent hurt her feelings the other day, too; I can't remember what she did, but it made him yelp and she got all weepy on him.  With all the noise around here she's quite accustomed to loud noises; it is the emotion behind the noise that she reacts to, I think.

Speaking of noise, she has destroyed my hearing.  I'm sure of it.  She is SO FREAKING LOUD.  You literally cannot have a conversation if she is screeching, unless you can lip read.  Her happy noises, discontent noises, surprised noises, exploring noises, ALL of them are SO LOUD!  Certainly, no one is ever going to take advantage of this little girl, or coerce her into doing anything she's not sold on.  She might lead others down the path to the river and jump into the rapids, but she won't be following.  That's good, right?  She's one intense kid.

And she makes a liar out of me in public all the time by sitting quietly and watching the world go by.  =)
Anyone who touches her or tries to interact with her gets a taste of it, though; she jerks her arm away like they have leprosy and gives them The Eyebrows... (The odd time she will give a shy smile or duck her head instead; she's starting to come out of her shell, but mostly it's just the YOU'VE CONTAMINATED ME routine).

Just today she blew on her food to cool it off at dinnertime and I just about died from the cuteness.

She's inquisitive, smart, funny, busy, opinionated, energetic, sweet, loud, fantastic, and fun to be around.  I said to Brent the other day that as much as I love when our kids are babies, this stage that Amarys is at is when it really starts getting fun.  The learning is so remarkable, and how they absorb new things and reproduce them, and start interacting at more complex levels, and it is just so fun.  When they run around and have opinions and their eyes are wide open with wonder at everything from the way eggs crack to the taste of shoe tread, it brings everyone joy.  When they start knowing that after bathtime, we brush teeth and read books, so they bang their toothbrush on the sink and then run and get a story and back into your lap to listen, it is just so cool.  They are born these warm, puking, wiggly little kangaroo babies with no experience of the world except what is done to them, and in one year they are suddenly acting upon the world in order to make it do things for them, and they love with wild abandon, and it is just so beautiful.

Thank you, Amarys, for being you.  For being in the world, and for coming into our family at exactly the right time.  For being a girl.  For being spicy and opinionated, and for your beautiful blue grey eyes, left cheek dimple, and preference for shoes.  I love you, baby bird.