Saturday, 31 July 2010

No like it!/Like it!

Recently I decided that I should make Tommy some lactose free ice-cream. So, I juiced some oranges and made sherbet.

Tommy's reaction to all my hard work:


It got better, in fact, by the last bite he had experienced a complete change of heart:

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A Somewhat Green Thumb



When our landlord told me I could rip the junk out of our back planter and use it to garden I was over the moon. I had big plans for a flower and veggie garden. I figured that since I couldn't afford to purchase myself bouquets of flowers or organic vegetables I would have to grow some myself. Oh, how foolish I was!

About half of my garden is doing well. The summer flowers I picked up and planted are a total bust. I planted from seed, and then had some trouble figuring out what was real and what was weeds, so I decided to let everything grow. This turned out to be not the best plan. Also, now that the tress have leaves the area I planted gets almost no sun, and that isn't helping matters. I may or may not see any flowers, but I will have to wait until the end of August to know either way, and I won't even be in town then to enjoy them because my little brother is getting married!

My vegetable garden is another matter. The past two weeks I have harvested green beans, peas, spinach, a banana pepper and Tommy harvested some lettuce (without permission). The spinach did not grow as well as I hoped, but the lettuce is growing like crazy. The green beans are also flourishing, while the peas are only doing so-so, I think some of the plants have root rot because the drainage isn't great. My large plants seem to be doing well. I have a number of green tomatoes and little tiny bell peppers. I also have some green onions, chives, and a mint plant that are growing nicely. The only thing I planted that was awful were carrots. I think maybe four grew from the entire packet. The irony is that I only picked up carrots because I remembered them being really easy to grow (from the last time I gardened when I was eight or nine). The biggest problem in my garden was the presence of a colony of carpenter ants that ate the heck out of my green beans early on, but are now leaving them alone. Said carpenter ants forced me to resort to a mild pesticide. It was either garden with chemicals or have no garden, and I chose the garden. So much for growing my own organic vegetables...

Come dinner preparation time it has been really nice to step just outside the kitchen door and pick some of the things I need. Besides eating the green beans and peas steamed, I have used the spinach in a pizza, the pepper and green onions for tacos, lettuce for sandwiches, and the mint for homemade mint chocolate chip ice-cream. The harvest may be small, but it sure is tasty!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Seven Years Ago Today...


July 19, 2003

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Summer Read Update

Last week I was awakened by some loud chanting. I open my eyes to see a book about three inches from my face, bobbing up and down, while Tommy repeated "read, reading prize."


So yes, he is still into the reading program at the library. Every time we drive passed the library, he yells "reading prize! reading prize!" I'm not sure how I am going to explain the lack of prizes when this program ends. But, at least we know that he enjoys reading and is motivated by competition. He's my son.


Today we turned in his completion sheet, which means that he has done the whole program three times now. His fish is looking good- covered with stickers. The two guys who were entering the minutes were talking about it as they put his in, and one mentioned that he is currently the number one pre-reader. I responded that it was too bad there wasn't a prize for that, but at least we knew for our pride. He handed me the completion sheet to put on our refrigerator. Later, I repeated this conversation to Aunt Emily and she let me know that "Pride is the best prize of all-this is the Cox family way."


We have no idea where we stand in the overall minutes competition. All of that is a secret. I haven't decided whether or not it is even possible for us to be in the running, given that I have to read all of Tommy's minutes to him, and that I don't exactly have hours of free time to make up for Tommy not being able to read for hours on end by himself like he might if he were both capable of reading and slightly anti-social. But, whether we win the big prizes or not, at least we will have gotten a ton of free taco coupons from Chipotle, and as Aunt Emily reminded us, we always have our pride.

Friday, 16 July 2010

When Mom is Proved Right



Yesterday I had the rare experience of sort-of sleeping in. Lately, Tommy has been waking up way too early. I have found that if I go in his room and lay down on his bed I can catch a few extra minutes of sleep while he plays (the child is a serious extrovert and needs companionship to do everything- but that's another post). For some odd reason Tommy decided that since I was "sleeping" he would give sleep another try, and it actually worked. Thus, I got some glorious unexpected sleep. But, that sleep was interrupted by an early phone call.

It was the type of phone call that you don't mind waking you up. It was our contact from early intervention calling to rave about Tommy's recent reevaluations, and to specifically mention that both therapists were extremely impressed with Tommy's progress and that we were clearly great parents! I always like to hear that early in the morning.

The background story: when Tommy first came home we did standard early evaluations. Tommy did well in every category except for speech, he had some slight delays, but nothing that warranted extra help. I felt that the speech therapist incorrectly assessed his delay, as she characterized him as the most delayed possible without providing services, and I didn't think (based on observing him with his peers) that his delay was that severe. I have my own theories as to why she did this, but they are irrelevant. The important thing is that she asked for us to do a reassessment in three months, because if he fell further behind he would qualify for services. Three months went by, and I did not make the appointment. Why? Because I knew without a doubt that he was not more delayed. Why should I waste two hundred dollars of state money (our state is a huge mess) to find out what I already knew?

But then, Tommy developed a slight speech impediment. I ignored it for a few months, but certain relatives began making comments, so I decided I would call in to our early intervention program and see if a therapist could tell me if it was normal or not. I called, explained the situation and that we were due for re-evaluation, but said that I didn't want to waste resources and only wanted an evaluation if Tommy's issue was not normal. Of course, they probably have to evaluate you once you call in for fear that you will sue them or something, so they set up an appointment right away.

In order to do any early assessments you have to get both an overall developmental assessment and the specific area assessment, so Tommy ended up having two "playdates" with therapists. Both of them went great. The developmental specialist said he had no delays and was completely on target for everything (and so cute and smart, which, we already knew). The speech therapist was even more impressed with Tommy. She said he was at or above age level for all speech skills (and he wasn't even on his A-game that morning), and that his lisp was normal- not all kids have one, but it isn't unusual for a child to develop one and grow out of it (which was all I wanted to know, but, apparently they couldn't just tell me that over the phone for free).

Then she made an off-hand comment about it being hard to believe that he had such a severe delay before and to recover so completely with no help- my point exactly! I take this as all the proof I need that my earlier suspicions were correct and that his speech delays were never as bad as stated. I'm not saying that Jeff and I aren't good parents, or that Tommy isn't smart enough to catch up, but to go from being so delayed to advanced in such a short period of time? Especially when we didn't make any special effort besides talking more than we might otherwise and reading to him a lot. No flash cards. No developmental games. Just living life.

I know it is a silly thing to be worked up over, but it really irritated me when the first speech therapist ignored everything I told her about Tommy's verbal skills, and left half of what I reported to her out of the report, as well as some of the things he did in front of her. When I read her final report it was as though she was writing about another child. I thought maybe I was just being one of those rose-colored glasses moms, but having this second evaluation confirms my initial suspicions that the "expert" was wrong. Happily, I can say that we are done with early intervention, at least until adoption number two is completed. Thank goodness!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Aquarium Trip

Tommy and I might be a bit crazy. And this blog post is a bit out of order.

On Friday morning before we went on our long road trip Tommy and I made a trip to the aquarium to meet some friends. We planned the play date before the big trip, and it was with some friends we hadn't seen in a long time (we don't live close anymore) so we wanted to keep the appointment. Also, I reasoned that an exciting morning might induce some napping during the trip. It worked.

We had a great time. One of Tommy's many favorite books is one where Curious George goes to an aquarium, so he did have a good point of reference for the concept, and was excited to see some of George's favorite birds- penguins- there, although, he preferred the little penguin-themed play area to the actual birds. He also really liked the dolphins, and enjoyed seeing them do their jumps during the show.

After we finished with the aquarium we had a picnic lunch and watched the boats. Tommy saw a man in a small boat and yelled "Man Overboard!"- a line from one of his pirate books. Here are some picks from our fun day:




Saturday, 10 July 2010

Roadtrip!

Ohio!

We spent about 16 hours in the car this past weekend. All the way to Athens, Ohio and back. Tommy's first road trip.

For months Jeff and I had been talking about getting Tommy together with the other kids from his orphanage who are here from the US. Right now there are a grand total of four of them (T included), but up until last month there were only two besides Tommy. They were fairly far- out of driving distance, so finding time for a trip was difficult. Number four came home last month (woohoo!) and he was in a location central enough for us all to meet up, and, after much discussion we found a weekend that worked for everyone.

Jeff has to save up those precious vacation days for adoption number two, so he unfortunately couldn't take Friday off, however, he talked to his boss and he was allowed to go in early and leave early, so we set off for Ohio at about 2:30. We hit nasty traffic just outside of Chicago- the always congested IL/IN border, but after we got through that the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. Tommy did an amazing job. We had lots of music that he liked, a magna-doodle, a color wonder pad, books on tape, and a bunch of books. For part of the time I sat in the back with him and read to him, and that really kept him happy. We stopped for dinner at Chick-Fil-A (glorious!!!) and it helped that he got to run around a bit there. After dinner we did a little more reading, and then he ended up sleeping in the car for the last few hours of the trip.

Now, our friends live out in the country. I suppose for living in the country it isn't terribly rural, but, to suburb folks like us it felt very secluded. As we drove down the lane to get to their house Tommy happened to wake up. He overheard Jeff saying that we were in farm-country, and piped in "old-fashioned, old-fashioned." It was really funny and I have no idea how he made that connection. Thanks to the switch in time zones we arrived very late, so all the other kids were very asleep, which was best because Tommy needed his beauty sleep too.

Saturday morning was incredible. Tommy had the most wonderful time meeting his friends, J, N, and M, and having a little picnic on the porch with them. We were a bit slow getting going, but eventually made our way to the farmer's market and got some things for dinner. After naptime the kids had a blast playing in the backyard and the manly men fired up the grill and cooked up a feast (to our credit, the women shopped for it). It was very low-key, which was perfect for us, and really allowed Tommy and the other kids to have lots of play time in the vast and awesome backyard that homes in the country have.


Sunday was the fourth, so we dressed up in our holiday duds and headed out to church. Afterward we went to lunch in the area of Athens near the college. There was a cute little diner there, and we got a big booth near the window which was fortuitous because there happened to be a 4th of July parade passing by. It was blazing hot out so viewing from the window was perfect. The parade was heavy on tractors, rescue vehicles and back of the truck "floats," so, it was a hit with Tommy. That evening we celebrated the 4th with a welcome-home BBQ for M. As I mentioned previously, he has only been home a month, and not everyone had a chance to meet him yet. There was a slip and slide and a pool happening, and the kids really enjoyed it. The only thing that marred the day was that Tommy stepped on a tack early in the day, and when that happened we noticed he had two splinters on that foot as well, so that evening we had to soak his foot and get them out, with the help of a kind nurse who happened to be M's grandma. It was awful. horrible. heart-wrenching. But it worked, and Tommy's foot is looking great. We ended the day with fireworks. Tommy thoughts on fireworks: "Wow, neat!" I wish it hadn't been so dark so I could have taken a video of his face lighting up every time one exploded.

Family

Reunion of friends

Monday we had to leave, but we had one last lazy morning and great breakfast (we had an excellent breakfast chef), some more slip n slide and backyard time, and a nice lunch before we hit the road. Our plan was to get going right around Tommy's naptime in the hopes that he would sleep for a bit, and it worked. We made excellent time on the ride back, and once again Tommy did well.

Getting to Ohio and back in one weekend was a lot of work, but it was entirely worth it. The look of joy on Tommy's face when he played with his friends was priceless. He spent at least half the weekend attempting to hug and kiss M (they are the same age, so there is a very strong chance they were in the baby bed together), and M is not the touchy-feely sort of guy Tommy is, so he spent the weekend trying to escape from Tommy's expressions of affection. Tommy was un-phased by this and settled for repeatedly kissing M's back. He also made a few passes at N (who is, thankfully, a girl, and according to Tommy, "cute"), much to her father's chagrin. To keep things decent we offered him a betrothal gift, but apparently he isn't into arranged marriages.

N + T

M eventually warmed up to Tommy's hugs

The weekend was a sucess for Jeff and me as well. One of the other moms is the person who walked with us through a large part of our adoption. Without her advice I would have been completely lost when it came time to travel, and she has also been so helpful with suggestions for dealing with Tommy's tummy issues, and I was so excited to meet her after months over a year of talking on the phone. We had both connected with the other mom at the start of her adoption process (which turned out to be a difficult one) and had been praying for her to come home for so long- so it was incredible to meet her as well. Basically, for both Jeff and me, it was great to finally get to meet people that we have talked to and been friends with in an internet sort of way for so long- and to find out they are all interesting people in real life (and not creepy murderers, or something). Jeff even found someone to talk music with, so, you know he was happy.

On the downside, now I am so sad that we live so far apart. Hopefully there will be another road trip in the future!

Monday, 5 July 2010

'Birthday" Recap

Tommy and I spent the morning at the Arboretum. He had a blast, but got a bit cranky at the end and had to leave because he threw his water bottle at me. The nice thing about having a pass is being able to walk away without feeling guilty about wasted money.

The bad mood extended past naptime, so we laid low for the afternoon, then walked down to meet Daddy. This is double the fun because Daddy gets dropped off by a train station so we get to go meet him and watch trains. Tommy had a meltdown when he saw Jeff because he couldn't reach him fast enough- despite Jeff running when he realized tears were coming.

On to dinner. We had two trained themed options: one has terrible, inedible food, and the other has decent food, but awful gluten-free options, so neither were particularly appealing. We decided entirely against option number one, and after wavering, I decided to call option number two, the All Aboard Diner. I was hoping they had perhaps expanded their gf kids options, which are: naked nuggets. Naked nuggets are chicken nuggets without the breading. They sell them at Costco, and they aren't bad. Tommy has sampled them before, and will eat them. But Tommy is not a chicken lover. Tommy is a hamburger lover. And the hamburgers at the restaurant are made with gluten for some unapparent reason. Jeff and I are not going to go out and eat hamburgers in front of Tommy- this is too cruel of a thing to do to a child with food issues. So, I call, and ask what their gluten free options are for kids. The response: "Naked nuggets, oh wait, well, we don't have any right now. I guess we could make a chicken breast." As much as Tommy adores the trains at All Aboard, I decided that taking him was seeming like less and less of a good idea. Instead, we went to Chipotle, courtesy of our library reading program. Between the two of us Tommy and I had earned enough free taco coupons for a family date night. Thanks to the coupons we got out the door for $3.50. That was sweet.

When we finished eating we gave Tommy a little "birthday present:" a few books and a car. After he unwrapped it the lady sitting next to us came over and shared that she was an adoptive mother and talked with us about what a blessing adoption had been in her life. That was really neat.

We finished the evening with root beer floats at our apartment. Tommy has this tiny tiny cup that probably holds an 1/8 cup of liquid. He got that and about an 1/8tsp of ice cream, and thought it was the greatest thing in the world. The nice thing about him being so young and having experienced so little in the way of sugar is that we can keep it to a minimum with absolutely no fussing on his part.

Here are some pics from dinner. Unfortunately the camera died and we did not have extra batteries, so they are rather limited:


Saturday, 3 July 2010

Every Gallant Knight...

...needs a trusty stead.

Meet Tommy's:



He has always enjoyed riding around on this little horse. A while back he got it into his head that he was a cowboy, and took to cruising the apartment on it. But recently the relationship has evolved.

When we rearranged Tommy's room to fit his (far larger than a crib) twin bed, there wasn't a lot of space left for his toys. I ended up placing the horse in the space between his bed and the bookshelf, essentially, right next to the head of his bed. After the first blissful night or two in the bed when he actually went to sleep right away, Tommy realized that the big-boy bed gives him freedom (we do not choose to enforce sleep, but we do enforce staying in the room after bedtime). Now he jumps out of bed almost as soon as we leave the room and does various weird things. The weirdest of which is hopping on that horse, riding it across the room in the dark, parking it next to the door, and opening the door a crack to stick his head out. He can't do much more than that due to a strategically placed baby gate. Then he either stands at the baby gate and attempts to participate in whatever Jeff and I are doing by inserting himself in our conversations (see example below), plays with his toys, or, sits on the horse and listens. The last choice invariably leads to sleepiness, and falling asleep on the horse. He ends up on the horse almost every night. Sometimes at naptime too.





It works out fine, most nights. Once we hear the snuffles and snores one of us picks him up and places him in bed. But some nights we don't hear the sleep breathing before we hear a loud THUNK! Then we run to the room and find Tommy on the floor next to the horse, sometimes still sleeping, other times, shocked and crying. He never learns his leasson- he always gets back in the saddle.

A real account of Tommy's attempts to join in adult conversation follows. The background you need for this is that I'm a Mac and Jeff is a PC. But, I am a Mac-less Mac at the moment because my iBook is essentially not functional. Jeff still has his PC. Therefore, I am always angling for a new Mac (even though I understand perfectly that I neither need it nor am going to get it). Also, I am a Mac because I grew up using Macs, and because they are both cute AND easy to use. Jeff feels that those are not qualities that computers need to possess, and may be slighting exasperated by my desire to choose a computer based only on the way it looks...the following was some computer inspired friendly banter-

Me: But, have you seen the iPads? They do everything a computer can do. I've seen one. They are so cool. They do everything I need.
Jeff: You mean word processing and internet.
Me: Exactly. All I need.(pause for thinking) I could put pictures and video on them too, right? I do need that.
Jeff: Yes, but a netbook would do that for half the price. You need an ipad like a fish needs a bicycle.
Tommy: Fish needs a bicycle!
We both crack-up, and so does Tommy.
Me: Hmmm...what about a Macbook Air?