Friday, October 31, 2008

No Trick or Treating - Very Sad

I am very sad that we will not be Trick or Treating, or Trunk or Treating or dressing up or anything here at the Latham house tonight. *sigh*

Josh is feeling better -- as evidenced by the fact that he is hungry, but I don't think he's well enough to go out. A local church is having a "trail of treats" tomorrow night, so if he is better, we might dress up and go do that or go over to Owen Farm (where his class went today) just so we can do something for Halloween.

It stinks, but what can you do? In all honesty, I don't feel up to it either. My meds have made things better, but I'm a ways from 100% yet.

Thanks for the kind comments and prayers headed our way.

Can I Return it if I Don't Want It?

Lest anyone think I want to return Ellie, I do not.

However, the other little souvenir I picked up from either Ellie or in Kyrgyzstan I would most definitely like to return. Apparently, the doctor thinks I have giardia -- contracted likely from Ellie. I was started on Flagyl yesterday and I seriously thought I might pass out on the way home from the doctor's office. My cell phone was dead and the charger was in the van so I couldn't even call Kevin to come to get me. It was awful. I have also dropped off The Princess' "samples" at her doctor's office for testing and hope to hear from them today or Monday. My doc indicated that treating me would be worthless unless E. is treated as well.

Now, this morning, Josh has woken up with a stomach virus. I'm suspecting Trick or Treating is out for us unless there is a major recovery around here soon. Our field trip today was a no go as we are all too sick. Maybe it will be a quick virus for Josh and we can still make a trip this weekend over to Owen Farms.

I will admit the Flagyl has checked the trips to the bathroom quite a bit, but they still occur and the side effect headache is about to explode my head.

Ellie, however, seems oblivious to it all. I've sent poor Kevin to bed as he's been on full charge mode for the past two days with very little sleep. Hopefully, all three of them are in the bed asleep right now. The monitor is quiet so I have to think they are.

Sorry, no photos. There might be some on the camera but I'm just not up to figuring it out right now. I might take a nap too.

Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy 7 Month Birthday, Ellie!!

Today was Ellie's first "birthday" at home. She has turned 7 months old. I'd like to say we did something special today but it was a pretty average day -- the best kind as far as I'm concerned. After all the adoption "drama" of the past few years, it is such a blessing to not have to think about that and to be just a regular family. Happy Birthday, sweet little one. We are so glad you are home.

Josh has a birthday coming up as well. I can't believe that in less than a month, he'll be 11!! Where does time go? I remember his days as a 7 month old vividly.

This morning, Ellie had her first "solids" at home. We had some lovely oatmeal with prunes along with some white grape juice/water laced with Polyvisol vitamins. We finished that juice up this afternoon and I had planned to do more oatmeal and fruit this evening, but since she didn't nap much today, she is asleep now (6:50 pm) and I hope she'll sleep a good while.

She went with me to take the kids to school. The same three kids that fought over who got to sit in the front seat now fight over who gets to sit in the back beside Ellie. With three kids and two spots, we have to rotate.

This afternoon, she returned with me to pick the same (fighting over a space) kids and then we went to get Joshua's hair cut (thank goodness!!!) and Kevin's as well. She loved watching Rebecca cut their hair and even allowed her to hold her for a bit and get her picture made with her. I stopped at Publix afterwards to pick up some baby food. YAY to my friend Michelle who makes her own baby food. I had great plans. *smile* At least I buy the organic kind. Maybe after I get myself back together I might consider that home made baby food. But not today.

And on to the not so great news: I think I have come down with the same "situation" that Jennifer had while in Kazakhstan. By the way, for those who have emailed asking how Jennifer is doing, she went to the doctor Monday and was diagnosed with a bacterial infection and given antibiotics. Today was the first day her symptoms have cleared at all. I am now staying close to home for obvious reasons. *sigh* Hopefully this too shall "pass" (yes, pun intended).

Our friends/neighbors, the Garretts brought dinner tonight and another dinner to freeze for another night!! YAY!!! Thank you so much. Our friends are awesome!!
Here are some photos of Ms. Ellie from today -- featuring her "Cheetalicious" coat, her Halloween look, her "I'm the Princess" shirt, with Josh on her first trip to school yesterday and with Ms. Rebecca, stylist to the Lathams!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Pediatrician's Visit

Today was The Princess' first visit to her pediatrician. We chose to go with a different pediatrician from the one we use with Josh because we felt a doctor who specialized in seeing children who are internationally adopted was a better fit.

We weren't sure what today's visit would entail, but Dr. H. visited with us for a while then checked Ellie's ears (good except for some wax in one ear that had to be scraped out -- ouch), throat (while still screaming from the ear wax removal), heart (good), lungs (good), head, tummy, "privates" and looked for scabies (none - yay!!). She was weighed sans clothing this time (12.4 pounds) and measured (24"). The nurse said we should expect rapid growth over the next month. That's pretty good news because I have very few 0-3 month sized clothes and her VERY CUTE Halloween outfit is a 3-6 month and swallowed her so I'm a bit bummed about that. (It's all about the cute factor, isn't it, girls?).

He indicated he was not going to refer us to the early intervention program because developmentally she is doing very well. She showed off how she can sit unassisted for about 5-10 seconds (it's a start, huh?), uses her legs to "jump", and can roll from side to side (but not all the way over yet). She smiled and babbled and giggled while she was there and he said she was "Charming" (which, of course, she is!!). We talked about her fascination with rubbing everything and her love of patterns. He indicated this was a very good thing as it indicated she was interested in exploring and didn't have sensory/touch issues. He indicated that her brain was processing all the new things she was experiencing and that all that her brain was doing was nothing less than miraculous. He indicated the next month would be amazing in her life. I've already seen rapid changes in just a few weeks, so it will be great fun to watch her throughout the rest of 2008 to see how she develops and changes.

We talked about attachment issues and he seemed to think she was doing well in overcoming the things we mentioned.

We talked about food and he wants us to add cereal (oatmeal as he indicates rice can be constipating) and some Stage 2 single food products to her diet twice a day. He wants us to up her formula to 6 ounces every 4-5 hours instead of the 4-5 ounces we've been giving her. I suspect this will also help her sleep. HOWEVER, she is having no trouble sleeping during the day! *smile* We are also adding vitamins each day.

We are going to wait a month to begin immunizations as he wants to give her immune system time to settle in to her new life/routine/diet. We will go this week sometime to have blood drawn to test for things like Hepatitis, HIV, blood count and lead exposure. That should be fun (not!). He will test for TB next month as well.

And, finally, we are doing the "poop samples" to test for parasites. Three poops, two scoops -- sounds a lot like some really bad cereal commercial, doesn't it? Ahhh... the joys of parenthood. I'm "letting" Kevin handle the poop tests.

After our visit to the pediatrician, we stopped off at our church offices. Ellie was sound asleep and never woke up even though several people held her. It was our senior pastor's birthday and we told him we'd brought him a present. *smile* I know he was just as happy for us as we are. He has most certainly prayed for us and counseled us for a long time regarding this little one. We are so glad to be able to share our joy at the fulfillment of God's promises to us with the people who have shared the hard and painful times as well.

So, I'm off to sleep. If I can sleep from 4:30 - 9:30, then I can stay up tonight and just nap if/when Ellie does. I'm finding it's a great time to do laundry, dishes and paperwork.

I'll post a couple of photos from the doctor's office a bit later this evening.

Whistle britches

I call Ellie Whistle-britches all the time. I suspect it has the to with the fact she is a poo-ing Queen (or Princess, I suppose).

Now, she has these fancy britches to cover up her whistling! Thank you, again, Lori and Emma!!

A Step by Step Guide to Sleep for Baby Ellie

Step 1 - Play happy with Daddy . . .

Step 2 - Get some cutie patooty photos made . . .

Step 3 - Begin to show signs of hunger, like eating fingers. Wait for it, wait for it ...

Step 4 - Throw all out hissy fit with Daddy for not getting bottle fast enough.

Step 5 - Eat and roll eyeballs back into head -- thrash about wildly if bottle accidently falls out of mouth. Hold pacifier in case the bottle is empty you'll have something to suck on.

Step 6 - After a VERY loud burp, sit in bouncy chair with burp cloth and make cutie patooty faces for camera

Step 7 - Begin to rub blanket on your face to soothe yourself. Suck madly on pacifier and eyes close to slits.

Step 7 - Very important step in telling if baby is REALLY asleep -- throw hand out to side or up in the air. Known as the "Statue of Liberty" pose

Step 8 - Beautiful sleeping success!

Sleep for two hours, get up for two hours, begin process again.

Parents should clean house, prepare bottles, do laundry, make phone calls, volunteer at school, put in 8 hours of work, mow the lawn, feed the pets, wash the dishes and get a full 8 hours of sleep during this 2 hour sleep process. *snicker* Yeah, right!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Food, food - everywhere there's food!!

I like food. I am particularly fond of food when I return from a country where the food is different. Imagine the nirvana I'm experiencing now that food has been rolling in the door from well-wishers wanting to help out since Ellie's arrival.

Of course, you've read of my mother-in-law's spread on Friday night. Then on Saturday, Iris brought over chili, crackers, sodas and brownies. This was followed on Sunday by Lisa and Makayla who brought a chicken pot pie casserole, pumpkin bread and a caramel apple pie. Sunday also brought by our friend Dawn who brought BBQ, mac n' cheese, green beans, chips and a caramel pie (just like O'Charleys!!). Our friends Stephanie and Madison stopped by with chocolate chip cookies for Josh and a breakfast loaf of pumpkin bread.

We are simply in heaven with all the good food to pick from at each meal!! We are so incredibly appreciative of all our friends and family who are taking such good care of us. It's a good thing too because I'm simply too tired to cook good food right now -- assuming there were groceries in the house, which I'm still not certain because I've not had to look for food to cook yet!!

I'm off to eat dinner!!

Lawsy, Lawsy, Ellie Got Drawsies

Ok, I'm sounding VERY Southern here. *smile* Today, Ellie got a package in the mail from her soon-to-be-friend, Emma through her mom Lori. One of the things I've envied for a long time are the diaper covers with the baby's name embroidered on them. And guess what???? Lori and Emma has sent Ellie a pair of "drawer" covers!!! I'll get a photo and post soon -- preferably of Miss Ellie's newly festooned bottom!! Thank you so much, Emma and Lori!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Packing for the Baby

So, while it's still fresh on my mind, I wanted to share a list of items I took and things I used/didn't use/wished I had taken for the baby. Mind you, I'm not as fresh minded as I ought to be, but this beats laundry at 3 a.m., so here goes.

Infant tylenol -- used every four hours for teething - a must have. Check with your doctor about dosage as I didn't and had to email fellow PAP Dr. Suzanne to find out I wasn't giving enough.

Hyland's teething tablets - Even if you aren't "into" homeopathic remedies, go out on a limb and get them and use them. We combined this with Baby orajel and Tylenol to alleviate some horrible teething symptoms

Baby orajel - Take 2 or 3 tubes. We went through a tube the first week

Teething Ring (gel-filled) - We did not take a teething ring and BOY should we have. M, another PAP did send us one and it was very helpful. Take the gel filled so you can get it good and cold

Mylicon drops - Ellie had terrible gas. We aren't sure if we need to change formula from our present Enfamil to something else but we will talk with her doctor about it Tuesday. We gave these pretty much with every feeding.

Antibiotic - I'm convinced that Ellie had an ear infection early on. Once we began the antibiotics, she was able to sleep laying down

Diaper cream - Ellie didn't have a bad diaper rash; just some redness in the folds of her legs -- still invaluable. If you can squeeze it in, the orphanage has a hard time getting this (the kind with zinc oxide), so take extra tubes to donate

Sleepers - While I felt the "Princess" needed some really kicking outfits to sport around town in, truth was we didn't "sport" too much after we got her and she was in a sling all the time we were out, so no one would have seen those "kicking" outfits anyway. I should have taken many more sleepers -- especially since there were lots of "poo" issues. Take at least one for every day. More if you can fit them in.

Coat and hat - I had a large coat "thing" with a hat and gloves built in. It was too big. I wish, terribly, I'd had just a simple coat and a hat that fit. The hat I took was too big for her little head so we ended up using a sweater with a built-in hat.

Thin blankets - Ellie is a sweater. She seems to stay hot. However, she loves to rub blankets on her face. I took three blankets; two were too thick. I wish I had taken several thin blankets.

Huggies wash clothes - Save yourself the trouble of bath items and just take a few of the Huggies wash clothes with the soap already built in. Add water and viola' you have a clean baby and less room taken up in your luggage.

Burp clothes - Take several

Bibs - Can double as burb clothes; take several

Finger nail clippers (infant) - By mid-week after we got her, Ellie's nails had grown so much she was clawing us

Vaseline - We didn't take this and I wished I had. Ellie's teething made her mouth drool and we got a face rash. It would have been good to have some vaseline to form a barrier

Prune juice - I'm certain you could buy it there, but in the middle of the night when your baby is constipated, you don't really want to have to find it. We took a couple of baby-sized jars of prune/apple juice and apple/pear juice. Thank goodness as Ellie did have a bout of constipation.

Washcloths - There are no washclothes that I could find in our hotel in Kyrg. We were glad to have them.

Toys - Seems obvious, but I took quite a few and she was probably bored with most of them before we got home because it was all she had to play with. We also took a couple of books, but she wasn't so interested in those, so in retrospect, I would have packed a few more toys in their place.

Sling - I took a Maya wrap and two Peanut Shell slings. We finally, toward the end, discovered that we liked the Peanut Shell fleece best as it doubled as a coat, was cozy and fit best. I plan to get a Peanut Shell in a cotton fabric now that I'm home. The one I had in cotton was a "S" and I needed a "M", which is what the fleece one was. It literally saved my back as I could carry her, have hands free and she could sleep in it as well. She always fell asleep on the way to lunch so it provided a way for me to eat lunch and not disturb her.

Sweaters - It was good to be able to layer her if it were cold/hot. We were told numerous times we didn't have her dressed warmly enough and that she should be in a coat. *sigh*

Baby lotion - After her bath, Ellie enjoyed a massage and it helped her to sleep better

Slow and fast nipples for your bottles - Days 1 and 2, Ellie couldn't/wouldn't drink from the slow nipples. By day 3, she was drowning in the fast nipple and we switched her to slow. It allowed her more time to enjoy her bottle. When we switched to a new formula, she preferred her bottles as room temp although I know she got them hot in the orphanage.

Pacifier - Thank goodness for Andrea whose daughter had a preference for a pacifier and she gave them to me because all the pacifiers I took struck out with Ellie. She likes a Gerber brand, the Gerber soft center brand

Pacifier clip - Girl likes to spit her pacifier at you, let me tell you, the clip saved us a lot of trouble

Single serving formula - If you are changing formula in country and your brand makes travel sized pouches of formula, they are very handy to have in the car or on the plane.

White noise machine - I didn't take one, but I'm certain it would have helped. Ellie likes noise to go to sleep, we have discovered. Fortunately, her bouncy seat has a built in "noise maker" and it has helped a lot.

Eddie Bauer travel bed - We took this thinking she would sleep in it - haha -- she did use it to lay in to kick and play and since it has a flexible bar over the top, we were able to attach her toys to it to play. She liked that a lot.

Rubber pants - We were advised to take these on the plane, but we never used them.

Chamomile tea - I had planned to take some to soak a rag in to let her suck on for her teeth. I forgot it and then couldn't find it in country.

Poopy bags - We took small bags as well as ziploc bags to put them in so that we had a place to put them in the hotel and on the plane -- a must have.

I'm certain there is more, but these were the ones I think were most important, and I'm sleepy now. Ellie's napping so I'm going to catch a few "Zzzz"s so I can be up with her when she awakens.

More Homecoming Photos

I just got the photos from my mom and her friend Betty that they took at the airport Friday night and thought I would share. They both have laughed that they showed up with these super duper cameras, both are professional photographers and got blurry photos. The reason? They were both crying!! Isn't that the sweetest thing? I don't care if they are blurry or not, they capture the essence of the joy we were all experiencing on Friday night.
A funny story is that when one of our pieces of luggage didn't make it back, the claims lady was the same lady who checked us in two Fridays back and she remembered us and was so glad to get to meet Ellie!!
Sorry these aren't in a regular order -- I'm too busy to put them in the right order. *smile*
My friend Dianne and her son, Clay, waiting with video camera in hand.

My friend Susan and her daughter Katie waiting for us to arrive. Katie was a faithful prayer warrior while we waited for Ellie. She also made us an Easy Bake oven cake and a sign to welcome Ellie home.

Andrea and AP welcomed us home at the airport as well. AP was adopted from Tokmok as well and I continue to marvel at how much alike she and Ellie look -- especially pictures from back when AP was a baby. My mom said that it was like she and Ellie had a bond that she could see. AP was so interested in Ellie and mom said Ellie was very interested in AP. I can't wait until we can all get together again and let the girls play!

Betty and Jonquil -- long time friends of our family. Betty is my mom's best friend and also a photographer who contributed many of the photos seen here!! Jonquil is Betty's daughter and was staunch in her resolve not to see photos of Ellie until she met her when she came home! I'm so glad they were there. Jonquil was there at the birth of Josh as well!

Josh and Kevin waiting for our arrival

My mom welcoming (and I'm sure thanking) Jennifer

Jennifer reuniting with her family
Logan, Jason and Reed along with Kevin and Josh -- waiting for us to get home

Makayla, Amanda, Michelle, Lisa and Maggie with the sign that Maggie's Life Skills class made and that all of Joshua's classmates signed. I can't wait to get back to volunteering in Josh's class. I love his class and his teachers!! And "Ms. Maggie" is a phenomenal friend who has prayed for me through this entire process. She has been such an incredible friend!! Thank you, Maggie!! The other girls in this photo are my friends from church who have been so supportive of me during all of this. Michelle is Caleb's mom. You'll remember that Caleb is my "practice baby" while I was waiting for Ellie. Amanda is expecting her daughter, Elaina soon -- she and Ellie will be the two "El's" at church together! And Makayla and Lisa have been SO WONDERFUL praying for us and supporting us in all our fundraisers and helping in any way they can. We are so blessed by each of these women.

Meeting DeeDee

Meeting MeeMee

Meeting Nana

Bless my mom's heart, she was crying when I came down the escalator -- just like she did when Josh was born. I think she was just as happy to see me as she was to see Ellie judging from the way she hugged me. They also had roses to give me and gave Jennifer some too. Kevin has put them all in water for me and I'm enjoying all of them!!

We are all glad to be home!!

Josh's First Middle School Report Card

I am SO proud of my little man who is growing up so quickly. While I was gone Josh got his first middle school report card. I am so proud of his 3 A's and 3 (very high) B's! Way to go, Josh!!

Girl Sleep and Boy Sleep

It's 1:30 a.m. at our fair home and both Ellie and I are wide awake -- she in her Bumpo seat "reading" and I reading blogs and posting. She has a cold that she has shared with her mama and her nose is running. She does not like to have her nose cleaned.

Josh and Kevin are sound sleep upstairs -- as it should be -- and I'm wondering how long it will take for her and me to get on our "normal" sleep schedules.

She is in a very good mood, talking and laughing and smiling. Inteesting facts we've learned about her include that she can be made mad at the drop of a hat -- ie, not putting in her pacifier quickly enough; she loves patterns and fabric and rubs everything she sees; she likes music and will kick her feet along with the music; she likes to be kissed and will giggle if you kiss her on the lips; she is ticklish in her tummy and under her chin. She is happy most of the time. She likes to sleep with a pillow under her head and some part of her touching another person -- preferably, at this point, her mama. She can put both of her feet together, flat footed together -- it's amazing -- no one else in our house can, we've tried. Jennifer says she's going to be a gymnast. Speaking of Jennifer, no, I haven't talked to her yet. I'm hopeful she is sleeping!!
And, finally, here are a few cutie-patootey photos of her for you.

In her Bumbo seat - checking it out

Adding her tray and toys has been a bonus -- she loves to sit there and play and talk to them.

And, last, but not least, the balloons and butterfly that she got at the airport last night from Andrea and AP. She loves them!!

Josh stayed up until midnight -- I think he was both waiting for her to get up again so he could play with her and had missed me so much he wanted to be up with me. Either way, we enjoyed the time together. We have all decided not to go to church tomorrow as we are still in a crazy place right now -- not just Ellie but all of us. I, however, have found brownies that my friend Iris brought, so I'm not nearly as crazy as everyone else. *smile* Thank goodness for my 13 hour nap today or I'd be sinking fast now.

I am so incredibly happy to be home with this little princess!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Photos from Trip

While we were in Almaty, internet access was hard, so here are some photos from our time in Almaty ...

Mountains on the way from Bishkek to Almaty.

Road to Almaty

Cemetery alongside the road to Almaty

Ellie during the car ride to Almaty

Discovering her cow wrist rattle

How about this look?

Discovering toes!

All smiles!

Her "Ellie-phant" outfit from the Davidsons!

View from hotel room in Almaty

View from hotel in Almaty

View from hotel in Almaty

View from hotel in Almaty

View from hotel in Almaty