We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Birthday Valentina!

Eight years ago today we got "the call". It was one of the happiest days of my life. I'll never forget what a gamut of emotions I went through that day. At first I was happy to have Asa for the day but then I was sad because I didn't have a baby of my own. I was frustrated at waiting for a baby and tired of being patient. I went shopping with sissy and Asa later that day and when I got home I had a message on my voice mail. Our adoption agency was in Boston so I thought for sure I was going to have to wait to get back to them and it was the Friday before a long weekend. When I saw the voice mail I didn't think for one minute that it was going to be "the call". When I called the woman back she broke the news to me. We had opted to not request a boy or girl, we were taking first available which meant our chances were much, much higher for a boy. I planned on a boy. We had a name picked out for a boy. I had the nursery planned for a boy. IT WAS A GIRL! Sissy was convinced we were going to have a girl. She wanted a nice so badly. She couldn't wait to spoil a girl. She couldn't wait to play fashion with a girl. She was so excited to have her girl home. Valentina is very into fashion and has been for a while. I know sissy would have been having a ball with her Vali and they would be scouring fashion magazines, experimenting with clothes, playing dress up.

Eight years ago today, around 3 pm, my life changed forever, for the better.

Thank you Valentina, for being born into our family today.


Our referral photo that we received on 02/16/07


December 2014

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentina's 3rd 8th Birthday Party

Last Saturday Valentina had her "kid" birthday party. Every year I tell the kids they can either have a birthday party and a small gift or they can have lots of money and no party. I've tried to make them realize that birthday parties are expensive and is part of their birthday gift. This year I kind of pushed Valentina into having a small party with her classmates. She is very timid and shy at school and my therapist told me that having play dates the friends that she trusts might help her come out of her shell. The thing is, Valentina is the most confident girl around adults but when it comes to her peers she's almost withdrawn. Since I strongly encouraged her to have a party I told her she could have some extra money but not the full amount I set aside for them. Valentina was fine with that. She picked the theme of Parisian Fashion. The gift boxes she picked out were pretty cute. I didn't get a picture of them but they were filled with necklaces, stickers, a bracelet, blow out and a stuffed poodle. I say this was her 3rd party because we did a small gift exchange on her legal birthday (January 14th), a party with Norm's side of the family after that and then her school party. We're also going to do a few things this weekend since it's her birthday weekend (her celebratory birthday is February 16). 

For her party Valentina chose to invite only her two best friends from school. I know one of them and she is quiet and shy too but Valentina said the other girl she invited is even more withdrawn. I tried to prep Valentina in case neither one of them showed up but she adamant that they would both be here. A half hour after the party was supposed to start nobody had shown up. Valentina ran into my room and cried. It broke my heart and ripped it out. I had told her if she didn't have any guests then I would fill in and eat at the table, play with her and do the crafts we had planned. I stepped in and took over the role of guest and after a while she bucked up a bit. A half hour before the party was scheduled to end one of the girls showed up!!!! We were all happy and relieved. So all in all it turned out to be a good party. We found out later that the other girl who had been invited wasn't able to come because her sister got sick. 

So here are the pictures!



The colors were black, white, pink and gray. I made these poufs out of tissue paper and hung them from the ceiling around the house.


More poufs.


Some of the balloons that were placed around the house.


The table. Valentina set the entire table and chose where to put everything and where everyone was going to sit. There were four settings, one for Valentina, one for each of the girls and one for Asa :)


The cupcake tower.


The birthday girl!


The table again.....


..... and again. I think she did a fabulous job!


The place settings.


Wearing the crown she decorated.

All in all it turned out fine. Tonight we are having pizza (she gets to pick out from where) and watching "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" (she got to pick out the movie). My girl is so special and I'm so thankful for her. I will never forget the day we got "the call" on February 16, 2007. The woman with our adoption agency called me and her exact words were "Well, it's been a long road. You have a baby and it's a girl!" It was one of the happiest days of my life and I'm so thankful for her.

Happy Birthday Valentina!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Field Trip

----Disclaimer: I just want to get this posted so I didn't bother with proof reading this post. I apologize for any grammatical errors and misspelled words.-----

Asa had a field trip last week to the local utilities building. One of the chaperons had to pull out that morning so it was just the teacher and myself herding 20+ fourth graders. The teacher let Asa pick six students to go with him so I was in charge of 7 kids. I'm horrible with names and matching names to people. Horrible. I joke that I forget anything that was told to me more than an hour ago but it really is true. Give me a list of names and try to match them to faces and I'm completely lost. I studied for 5-10 minutes before we left trying to memorize the names and kids I was going to be in charge of. I still managed to screw them up. I've been to a few field trips so I've learned the best way to keep an eye on my kids is to be really bossy. And loud. Basically I'm just myself. I'm proud to say I managed my kids......until the end. I lost a kid. Again. Yes, I this was not a first time occurrence. It was at the end and I was trying to get my kids lined up to leave and get on the bus when I realized I couldn't find the only girl in my group. The teacher asked me if I had everyone and I had to admit that I was short one student. Luckily she hadn't gone far and the teacher was able to find her. It turns out she was just outside the room we were in and she was already lined up, waiting for the rest of us. It wasn't as bad as the other time I lost a kid. We were in a giant science museum and they decided it was time for a fire drill. As we were filing out of the museum I realized I was short one child. I told my teacher and she freaked out. Of course it wasn't helpful that another mom lost one of her kids also. She had lost her own son! After about 10 minutes an employee came out with the two lost kids. Mine was ok, I'm not sure he even knew he had been lost but the other kid was crying, poor thing. So yes, I'm an expert at losing kids at field trips. After all of that Asa told me he thought it was boring. Oh, and one of the kids (not mine) threw up on the bus one the way back to the school. I have a thing about vomit. I hate it. I'm really, really adverse to vomit. Of course Asa always throws up when he's sick. He can have a simple cold and he still vomits.I am lucky in that all I had to do was walk past the spot where the kid hacked up. It was still gross to me.

Plus I have Valentina's field trip coming up to look forward to! Yay! I'll just try not to lose my daughter.

Speaking of Valentina, she had a panic attack last night. My poor daughter has inherited my anxiety. I was always scared of having bio kids for fear of passing on my screwed up mental problems to them. Once I realized we were going to adopt one of the greatest things was thinking about how I was going to have a mentally "normal" child. I knew there might be attachment problems but when you're paper chasing none of that stuff comes into your mind. All you can think about is "this is it! I'm a mom! I want my baby. NOW!" I never once thought that her attachment could manifest itself into anxiety when she was older. Actually I take that back. I know that mental problems are something that you are born with. It is not a nature vs. nurture, it's all nature. Does her attachment have anything to do with her anxiety? It might. Will I ever know? No. All I know for sure is that Valentina has anxiety and gets panic attacks. It just slays me because I know what it is like to have them. I feel so bad for her. Last night her stomach was grumbling and she got scared thinking she was going to get sick. Valentina hates getting sick as much as I hate vomit. I explained to her that it was just her tummy growling (she said she was hungry just before bed but I told her it was too late, I'm such a bad mom but I wasn't going to give her ANOTHER dinner when it was after 9:30 pm) but she was already going off the deep end. She cried and told me she was panicking. I did my best to calm her down but it's horrible watching your child go through something that you know feels crappy. She eventually calmed down enough to go to sleep but it was waaaaay past her bedtime.

So that's about it. That's what we've been up to. Or at least all that I want to talk about right now. I have been inspired to make a dessert for Valentine's Day (thanks Jen) so we'll see if that works out. If it does I'll be sure to post photos of my attempt at dessert. I'm sure it will go great with our dinner.....Papa Murphy's.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

EKG-eezy For Realzy

I had a doctors appointment today to review my pain meds which resulted in my having to have an EKG. It turns out that my myriad of pain medications combined with my mental health meds can turn my heart to mush (I'm paraphrasing).

Well I have the actual test to prove I have a hard heart. There's nothing warm and mushy with my heart, I'm just as cold hearted as always :)

I'm fine and there's nothing wrong with my cocktail. I'll probably have to have an EKG done periodically but I'm good for now.

Yay!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Scary

There have been multiple scary events in the past month. Some funny, some sad and some just plain scary.

SCARY
January is always horrible. Trina entered the hospital for the last time on January 2nd. She died January 9th. Every day in between January 2 and 9 has some reminder of what we heard that day, what we did that day. It's a hellish week. And then there is January 14 and 15. The 14th is when we had her viewing for just immediate family. The only people who came were mom, Josh, his mom and myself. I didn't have the strength to view her and I haven't regretted my decision once. Her funeral was January 15th. Shitty, shitty day.

SCARY
January 14th. This is a double dipper day! Not only is it the day we had her viewing but it is also Valentina's real birthday. Yay! Let's throw a birthday party the day before we buried my sister! We're all in a partying mood! Yes, that is why I "changed" her birthday to February 16th. That was the referral day and it's when I can handle a celebration.

SCARY
I completely forgot Valentina's real birthday. This year was the first year that Valentina realized her birthday was ON January 14th. That morning was a hard one and I was just doing the normal before school rituals on auto pilot. I went to warm up the car and when I walked back into the house Valentina was jumping and excitedly exclaiming "it's my birthday today!" Shit. I forgot my daughters birthday.

SCARY
On the 14th mom and I decided we needed to get out so we went and saw "Wild".

SCARY
"Wild"

SCARY
I watched all of "Wild" perfectly fine. No tears, no emotion, no nothing. Actually a little letdown because it wasn't really as good as I was expecting. Until the end. When the movie was over I broke down. I had a BREAK. DOWN. Hysterical, can't catch your breath, kind of crying. All I was thinking of was I had forgotten my daughters birthday, it was five years ago that day that mom saw her daughter for the last time in a way no mother should ever see her child, and that I had lost he love of MY life. I don't know how long I cried for, mom just sat there, knowing there was nothing she could do to help me through this meltdown.

SCARY
Valentina LOVES scaring me. I'm wound up tighter than a yo-yo so it's very easy to scare me. I turn around and Valentina is standing right there, her eyes wide open in anticipation of my reaction, smiling and saying "BOO!" Without fail I jump about three inches and yelp. It's a really fun game for her and really, why not? There are times when she doesn't even have to say anything, just standing behind me is enough to send me through the roof.

SCARY
Asa has been reading Trina's blog book again. He does this every couple of years. This time was the first time he wanted to read it himself without having mom read it to him. I cringe every time he lugs out the big pink book. Most of the time Asa is giggling and can hardly breathe because he's laughing so hard. Most of the entries are about Asa and the silly things he did which of course he just eats up. At times Asa insists on reading us passages from the book. For me, the book only brings me pain. Pain and tears over the fact that she is no longer here.

There are a thousand other things going on but right now these are the scariest moments that I can think of. As always my children and my parents and my husband are my life savers. Especially Beya. I can't begin to think of my life without her so I try not to! That is SCARY!!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Observation

It's been five years since sissy died and we buried her.

It doesn't get any easier for me.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Eagle Crest, Oregon Desert Sky Vacation

Asa has been in Florida for a while now (10 days but who's counting?). Whenever he goes on vacation with his dad, Valentina feels slighted. I try to schedule a small getaway for her so she feels special too plus it also kills some time while we are waiting for Asa to come back. 

This year I decided that we would go to Central Oregon, Eagle Crest to be specific. We packed up and left two days after Christmas and stayed for 4 days. I found a cute little cabin in the Desert Sky neighborhood of the resort. The resort itself covers 1700 acres so it's very large, we only saw a fraction of it. We were quite content to hang out in our cabin since the weather was very cold and we even had snow all day Monday. I had been stalking the weather forecast hoping we would get snow. We got a small amount on Sunday but Monday it really came down, we ended up with about 6 inches. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, all cozy warm, standing in front of the fireplace watching the snow come down. It was lovely. 

We just got home tonight and I can't wait to go back. Our "cabin" was a lovely house that I would love to stay at again. 




On our drive down we stopped at Black Bear Diner. The kids are obsessed with stuffed animals so of course we couldn't stop at a restaurant that sold their namesakes without buying two of them!


This is a view of the living room when you walk into the house and turn left at the entryway.


As you can see, the dining area opens to the living room so it has an open floor plan which I always love.


The kitchen. We were packed to the gills and didn't have room to bring a lot of groceries so the morning after we got there Norm and Valentina went to the store and got stocked up on staples. We ended up eating in the rest of our holiday.


This was the den that had a fold out sofa (that we didn't use) and a tv (that Valentina used). It also had a built in desk that she utilized as a doll house and makeup counter.


The master bedroom that Beya and Papa had. Norm, Valentina and I were all so happy that they went with us. They hemmed and hawed about going.....for a minute or two. It would have been so boring and sad if they hadn't have gone with us. It was bad enough that we were short Asa but I also found myself thinking that we were short an entire family (Trina, Josh, Asa and the baby).


The tv in the master bedroom where papa watched a lot of football. The bedroom had two closets and a nice bathroom.



This was a pretty deep soaking tub that was perfect for Valentina to warm up in when she came in from playing in the snow.


In addition to the tub they also had a shower.


This is bedroom #2, where Norm, Valentina and I slept in. It worked out great because Valentina had the top bunk. Poor thing had a panic attack the first night, couldn't go to sleep with Norm snoring the second night and the third night she missed Asa so much she had her usual severe stomach pains. Her grief over missing Asa manifests itself into physical ailments. I have no idea who she gets this from {sarcasm}. She was so upset the last night I let her sleep with Norm and I so the upper bunk went unused. During her stomach episode she cried to me "I miss Asa! He's the best thing that's ever happened to me!"


I've talked of my love with pocket doors. As you can see, the door to our bathroom was of the pocket variety! Mom felt kind of bad taking the master bedroom with the cool bathroom from us but once she saw I had a pocket door all the guilt washed away.


Before we checked in to the house we did make a quick grocery stop and picked up some fruit, water and a couple of other things. Here is Valentina showing off the fruit salad she made all by herself. She hulled the strawberries and mixed everything up all on her own. I was so proud of her but not nearly as proud as she was of herself.



Snow angel!



Catching snowflakes.


This is a shot of the snow taken from the hallway window.


The back patio covered in snow. So pretty!


On our way home we stopped in Madras, Oregon to try this Yelp approved Mexican restaurant which had an overwhelming number of patrons declaring it to be the best Mexican food. One person compared it to the food in a Rick Bayless restaurant and found it to be even better than Rick's. That's some pretty high praise and I am a Rick Bayless fan!


Norm was on the fence as to if he was going to order a margarita but mom and I peer pressured him into it. When the waiter asked if he wanted the large one mom and I both answered yes for him since I was driving. We had no idea it was going to be a margarita bowl! Seriously, that is the biggest margarita I've ever seen! I had one sip to taste it and it was mango. Pretty good for a margarita since I don't like tequila.


Valentina, papa and Beya.


The food presentation was phenomenal for any restaurant much less a little hole in the hall Mexican place! This was my order, a chicken enchilada and beef chimichanga. The enchilada was the best I've ever had in a restaurant. The beef in the chimi wasn't that flavorful but it was still good. The enchilada made up for it. Did I mention the enchilada was really good?


The rice and beans were served on the side with a small veggie slaw on the plate. I'm a bit of a rice snob since mom makes the BEST Mexican rice so I usually hate rice from Mexican places. I didn't hate this rice and the beans were tasty.


This was Valentina's order, a beef taco with rice and beans. She just ate the inside of the taco and some of the rice and beans because she had gotten full on the chips, salsa and tableside made guacamole. You can barely see the guacamole on the right side of this picture. We inhaled it too quickly for me to take a picture of it. 


Norm ordered a chicken burrito in green sauce and pinto beans. He was a bit disappointed in it. The reviews on Yelp had really raised our expectations so it was a letdown for Norm.


This was mom's veggie chile relleno. THAT was some tasty food! I've already decided that is what I'm getting next time! Yes, we will return. And Norm will order something else. And not order a big margarita. 

So that was our little vacation. After driving over Mt. Hood my car was FILTHY when we pulled into town. It was dirty when we got to Eagle Crest because there had been snow on the side of the pass on the way down but there wasn't any point to get it washed before we went home since the same thing was going to happen. The mud was caked on my poor car and as bad as Valentina wanted to get home I ended up running it through the car wash a half mile from our house. It made me happy pulling into the driveway in a clean car :) 



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ghosts of Thanksgiving

She couldn't help but think of the way Thanksgiving would be had that horrific incident hadn't of happened.

The house would be full. There would be three children running around, ages 10, 7 and 5. A houseful of six adults and three kids, the table leaf installed and stretched out to the max. Even then there wouldn't be enough room to accommodate their large family requiring them to add on the odd round table in addition to the oblong one that came from her grandparents.

Three women laughing and cooking in the kitchen. Chaos. A wonderfully happy chaos with the tv in the background. First a parade and then football that her sister paid attention to while making her own dressing as their mom's dressing wasn't good enough. Nothing was good enough for her sister, in fact her sister required a roast instead of turkey so they made both. The oven was overflowing with separate dishes that met everyones tastes. Her husband weaving in and out, his fingers in everything while the sisters and their mom talked wordlessly with their eyes, annoyed by his arrogance of thinking he could do better yet having to keep quiet since he did make the best gravy. Occasionally laughter would break out between the three of them, all agreeing without words that he was driving them nuts.

The crystal bowl of olives set out in what had been their grandmothers. The cranberry jelly jiggling in matching bowl, her sister using a burner to obstinately make her own homemade cranberry sauce that only she would eat but she insisted on using the precious stove space anyway.

The crowded way of setting everything on the table, the corraling of the children and getting them to sit down, each of them arguing where they wanted to sit. Calling the men to the table, having to yell at their father since he was hard of hearing and it was difficult to tear him away from the roaring fire he had built.

The tangle of elbows and hands as dishes, most of them multiples of each other, handing things around. The unusual gift her sister had of talking incessantly while eating. The way she and her sister made each of their children's plates differently as each of the three kids ate different things. The talking of how stuffed each of them were after dinner yet still managing to eat pie. The stack of Black Friday ads that were looked at and the conversation back and forth of whether to go or not to the stores. Depending on their manic state she and her sister would mutually decide whether or not to go and battle the crowds. They would eventually, one Thanksgiving, decide to give it a go, considering it a once in a lifetime thing they had to do. They didn't even think twice of leaving the kids with their mom.

She couldn't help but think of how this was supposed to be their present.

Most of it erased.

Yet still thankful for what was left.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hungry For The Games

I love The Hunger Games. I loved the books and I love the movies. I've read the books several times and watched the movies multiple times. Last month I saw that our local theater (the good one, the one where they take your order and deliver your goods to your seat) was having a movie marathon of the first two movies and ending with the premiere of Mockingjay: Part I. I told mom about it and she agreed she wanted to go so of course I immediately bought three tickets before I could talk myself out of it (I bought a ticket for Norm even before I talked to him about it).

Our marathon was Thursday and lasted all day. The first movie didn't start until 2pm but we got to the theater, which is in our mall, at 11:30 am. There wasn't a line yet so we did a bit of shopping and after an hour we decided to go get our seats. We were handed a special lanyard that declared to the public that we were, indeed, movie nerds. Papa was gracious and watched the kiddos until we got home at 10:30 pm. It was a once and done kind of thing, I don't think we would do it again unless it's the Oscar Movie Marathon but it was an experience. Of course the kids were still up when we got home but I was so proud of Asa. I called home before the third movie started and he said both him and Valentina were already in their PJ's and had fed themselves dinner. I was glad they were awake when we got home, even if it was more than an hour after their bedtime. I missed them and I missed papa.

Which leads me to this next anxiety ridden thing that we are going to do. Papa and I are going to Philadelphia in September to see Pope Francis. I'm not sure if Beya and Norm will be going but I'm already freaking out over leaving the kids that far away. I'm also going to miss Asa's birthday for the first time ever. Damn Pope had to pick the 26th and 27th to make his appearance. This is something that has always been on my bucket list, to take papa to see the Pope. The pull wasn't as great when it as Pope Benedict but I felt as if my chance had come and gone when Pope John Paul died. Then we got stuck with a dud of a Pope but after Pope Francis took over, well, it was a no brainer that if he came to the United States that Papa and I were going to go see him, no matter where in the country he went. I'm both excited and terrified but talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity. I've been fortunate enough to experience several possible bucket list items. I've been 10 feet away from the Olympic torch. I've touched the hand of a Vice President and just barely missed touching the hand of a President. I was at Cesar Chavez' rosary. All of these things had an impact on my life in one way or another. They all made imprints and I'm so thankful that I was able to do them. The chance to see the Pope, no matter how far away we are from him, just to hear him give mass, is something I can't give up.

So that's about it. Hunger Games marathon and mass with Papa and the Pope. That is what I've been up to.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Surprises

This is going to be a mish mash of of  a post so hang on.

Holiday surprises.

Beya and I went shopping today and I bought the kids some of their main Christmas gifts. They each got a big Lego set plus Valentina got a few other items for her stocking. It is so hard for me not to tell the kids what they are getting. Their main present will be an XBox 360 with Kinect and a game for each of them. Asa will be gone for Christmas so there won't be any arguing about who gets to play the first game. It makes me sad to have yet another Christmas without Asa but there is nothing I can do. I can, however, spoil Valentina and put all of my time and attention towards her. I forbid anything Monster High for the past few years so of course that is all she wants. I've slowly been letting up on my rule and for Christmas I bought her the one thing she has wanted for literally over a year, a Monster High movie. This is the hardest thing to keep from her because I know she's going to flip when she opens it, or in her words "this is SICK!" Her vocabulary just cracks me up. I know she gets part of it from school and part of it from what she watches on TV but it still makes me laugh. It's making me SICK hiding the movie from her!

Last week Norm was in Seattle for meetings all week. Beya did the kindest and best thing for me; she watched the kids and pushed me into going with him for four nights. I'm really glad I went. I had four nights of R&R&R, rest, relaxation and room service! I had things down to a science. I would get up, have my coffee, watch some news, Norm would stop in in between meetings, we'd catch up a bit, I'd get dressed (in my "lounge wear", aka nice PJ pants and matching shirt) then settle in to watch Grey's Anatomy followed by General Hospital and ending up with Castle. In between everything I'd take a nap and in the evening when Norm was done with his meetings we would go out to dinner and have a cocktail (or two). It was absolutely decadent and I enjoyed every bit of it. The last night we were there Norm had to be gone during dinner time so I had room service by myself. It was one of the best steaks I've ever had! I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I ate it in bed, feeling so luxurious. It was a great time. Thank you Beya and Papa for taking my job over and watching the kids.

So that is about it. Now we are just getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Happy Turkey (Gobble Gobble) Day!*


*one time when Asa was a baby Trina was feeding him turkey and cheese. She would ask him if he wanted cheese or turkey next. If it was turkey he would say "gobble gobble" instead of turkey. To this day we will usually refer to a turkey as "gobble gobble" instead of the correct word.