Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dave and Keller went away this weekend on a camping trip with Adventure Guides. (I'm going to pass the torch to Dave later tonight or tomorrow so he can blog and post pictures from their trip). Casey was having some 'left-behind' issues, so I made it my personal mission to make our weekend at home as fun as possible. Right now, he feels pretty excited about everything we did, but once Keller comes home with stories about fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, shooting bow-and-arrow, etc., I think our weekend here on Majestic Lane might lose some of it's sparkle;)

We set up our tent in the living room, which the kids loved. We used it as our base camp. We ate snacks in it, watched movies late at night, and lounged between adventures. Marley slept in her crib in my room as usual, but Casey and I camped in the tent all weekend. We actually slept really well--all three of us got at least 10 hours/night :)

We stopped at Wal-Mart and picked up a kiddie pool for the backyard. Marley is still at least a week away from being cleared for the pool (We have to see what the surgeon says at her post-op appointment on Friday). Casey wanted to swim this weekend, so we swam! Well, he swam--hose water is too cold for me.

Marley actually cooperated for once and let me take some pictures of her. She usually runs away, makes a horrible face, or both! She is learning those tricks from her brothers, I'm sure.

We hit up a half dozen playgrounds in the area. My arms ache from pushing the kids on the swings, but we had fun!

We took a picnic dinner over to Walney park and did a quick nature hike. I saw a couple get engaged while having a nice picnic under a tree. Then they started making out, so we headed in a different direction, although Casey did decide to run over and hide behind a tree to spy on them.

Marley likes to play with all of the boys' cars, trucks, dirt, mud, etc. Thank goodness!

I found a few other random pics on my flashcards. . .

Marley has some serious hair issues. I have no idea what we're going to do when she's older and actually cares about things like accidental mohawks.

Keller's final track meet was a couple weeks ago. I love the hair flying in the air! He won 3rd and 5th place ribbons, which he was obviously pretty proud of.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Brand new palate . . . same naughty attitude!

Marley's surgery went really well and we are resting at home. Well, in reality, I'd like to be resting, but she seems to have other plans. She came home with instructions to rest, avoid walking/climbing, etc. However . . .before we even checked out of the hospital on Friday night, she had already made about 25 loops around the PICU hallways--walking and running along in her slippery hospital socks, with her heart monitor cords trailing behind her.

Low points of the whole ordeal--
*they couldn't get an IV in any of her tiny veins, so after an hour of trying (she was already under anesthesia for this), they ended up putting an IV in through her femoral artery in her groin. This is really unusual, as was commented by every single nurse, tech, resident, intern, attending, and med student who came to see her.

*the constant beeping of all of the machines made it really hard for her (and for me) to get any quality rest. I asked the nurse what the point was in having the alarms sound in the patient's room, when they also sound at the nurses station and there was not one single time the alarm went off while a nurse was actually already in the room with us. She said she didn't know. . .maybe it was so that we'd constantly call the nurses station and ask them to silence the alarm. Wow, at least she was honest.

*the span of time from about 3pm until we were out of the hospital at around 7pm. By this point, Marley's anesthesia and morphine had worn off and she just thought for sure she was ready to go full tilt. We were stuck in the room, still attached to the monitors for most of that time span, so it was pretty rough. Tested my patience for sure.

High points of the ordeal---
*hearing Marley call out "Mama" and knowing that she was talking to me. She will repeat 'mama' at home, but she doesn't really call for me. When she would wake up from a mini nap to have her vitals checked, she would call "Mama" in the saddest voice and immediately look around until she saw me. It was heartwarming, to say the least.

*Marley can make kissing sounds now! She couldn't do it before because she couldn't get good suction inside of her mouth. She was drinking water from a cup at the hospital and surprised us both by making a loud 'smooching' sound. It was so cute.

Several times I would notice this strange look on the doctors'/nurses'/students' faces when they came in and introduced themselves for the first time. Most of the time, it would happen when I was sitting in the (most painfully butt-numbing) chair holding Marley. I kept thinking that either they were surprised to see the stitch that was put through Marley's tongue and taped to her cheek, or maybe it was because they kept catching me nodding off in the chair. I finally realized that it must not have said on her chart "Chinese girl, Caucasian mom." They were probably also surprised to be seeing a child her age who was just finally having he palate repaired.

We are happy to be home, and eager to get her totally recovered. She is eating pretty well, mostly soft stuff like steamed eggs, yogurt, applesauce, broth and soup. She thinks she should be allowed to eat pretzels and crackers and whatever else she wants, which has brought out some of her naughty 'tude, but we're dealing with it. She goes to see the surgeon in 2-3 weeks for a follow-up and then she should be good to go. I thought of her birthmother a lot the past few days. I'm sure that Marley's cleft palate and the difficulties her mother faced trying to feed her as an infant, and knowing she could not afford surgery to repair her palate, were primary reasons for her being abandoned. I wish I could tell her birth mother that she's all patched up now and being taken care of.

We owe a huge "Thanks" to Grammy (my mom) for coming down and staying all week to help out. She entertained the boys, helped get them to and from school, kept the house cleaned up, and treated us to a yummy meal last night for dinner. We miss her already and want to know when she's going to move closer.

Here are a few pics from the hospital:

Getting ready for surgery . . .

The day after surgery. She was really into the hospital phone. . .

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tomorrow is the big day . . .

Marley will have her cleft palate repair surgery tomorrow morning at 8am. Please keep her in your thoughts tomorrow. She is so tiny and this is going to be scary for her. She (& I) will stay at least one night at the hospital but hope to be home and on the road to recovery on Friday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Huffman Family Jam Session . . .

Enjoy! (and for any concerned citizens. . . un-inflated balloons are not a typical 'toy' in our house and were only played with under very close supervision for a short period this evening. no balloons, or children, were harmed in the making of this video)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothering. . .the toughest job you'll ever love

In typical Huffman style (mostly driven by Keller's chronic state of excitement), we had a fun and full Mothers Day. Dave & the kids brought me chocolate chip waffles in bed, as well as some really precious cards that they made for me. My gift was the 'purchase' of a little bit of the Brazilian Rain Forest via this great organization: We took a picnic lunch to Burke Lake and spent a couple of hours there walking, playing on the playgrounds, etc. Marley is getting really brave on the playground equipment, which is terrifying to everyone but her! At 4:00, Keller and I headed over to his Track event. He and I ran the "Trophy Mile" together, and he's pretty excited about the medal and trophy he earned. We ran the mile in about 11 minutes, which is pretty darn good for a 6 year old if you ask me. He also got a chance to throw the shotput, which he said felt like a ridiculously heavy skee ball. Dave made his specialty dish tonight (tortellini with an awesome sauce, focaccia, and salad) and after dinner, we worked off some calories by running around the yard like nuts. Alas, the job of a mother never ends, so I did have to spend a little time explaining to Casey that the game is called "tag" not "slap" for a reason, and that he needed to take it easy with his little lethal weapons.

Here are some photos and videos from the day:

Check out Marley's tummy hanging out. Heehee. She has gained 4 1/2 pounds since she came home, and is still just barely on the growth charts.

Trophy Mile. Before. . .Looking a little nervous.

After . . . One of the best parts of being a mom is watching your kids do something that makes them feel proud.

Backyard Fun Part 1: Here's Casey sitting on top of the monkey bars so no one could reach him during the game of Tag.
Backyard Fun Part 2: I love to hear Marley singing her sweet little jibberish for me.

Backyard Fun Part 3: Keller is living proof of the close link between humans and apes.

I feel blessed and lucky to be the mom of three incredible kids who bring so much to our home and family, as well as the wife of a guy who 'gets it' in terms of how hard this job of mothering can be. It is hard, so hard that some days 3pm seems like a good time for a beer and 8pm seems like a good time to throw in the towel and go to bed. There are days when I laugh to avoid crying, times when I cry but still hope I'll someday be able to look back and laugh, and days I'd like to have zapped from my memory by laser. But mostly, there are good days, the kind of days that make the rest of it seem like a little blip in comparison.

My thoughts are with Marley's birth mom today. My understanding is that the celebration of Mothers Day is fairly new to China, but I'm sure that her mother thinks of her with a heavy heart today and every day that she lives without her. If I could send a message to her today, I would tell her that I love Marley as if she had been born to me and that I promise to raise this sweet, resilient, stubborn little munchkin in a way that reflects that most genuine of loves, the love of a mama.

I've also thought so much about my ESL student, Mirian, who lost her fight with brain cancer in the winter. She left behind a 9 year old daughter, Brenda, who is now back in Peru, living with family who she has never really known. Mirian was an amazing lady--determined, funny, strong. I wish that she was here to celebrate this Mothers Day and many more with her daughter. I hope that Brenda has found someone who loves her like a mother should, and that she continues to feel Mirian's presence for the rest of her life.

To all mothers everywhere, whether you are mothers by birth or adoption, stepmothers, foster mothers, godmothers, just-like-a-mom mothers, soon-to-be mothers, hoping-to-be mothers. . .We are doing the most incredible job there is to be done. Take it seriously. Love your children, love yourself. (And a beer at 3pm every once in awhile is a good way to love yourself!).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why I'm a lawn-mowing mama . . .

During the hour and a half it took me to mow 3/4 of our back yard yesterday (prior to killing the mower), I spent some time thinking. It's kind of pathetic that I need a piece of lawn equipment and all of the dangers that go along with it to keep the kiddos away long enough to think, but that was pretty much the case yesterday. If I was going to clear my head and have any moments of introspection, they were going to happen with the buffer of a roaring lawn mower.

One thing I thought a bit about was why it is that I don't mind doing 'handy' work around the house. I single-handedly removed the toilet, changed the wax ring underneath, and replaced the toilet two months ago. Last month, I removed our old crusty outdoor light fixture and replaced it, wiring and all, with a nice new light with a motion detector and the works. In our house, I am the builder of all things from Ikea, the fixer of many things broken, and the first to look for a DIY fix rather than calling a handyman. There are still projects that require skill and patience I don't possess--such as hanging the damned coat hooks in the laundry room, which have so far pulled loose despite my expert use of 3 different types of drywall anchors. But overall, I'm a pretty handy gal.

Yesterday I realized that I enjoy fixing and doing things that have traditionally fallen to the 'man of the house' for a few reasons. 1) There is a clear goal in mind and an obvious finished product. This is simply not the case with most other things I do in my daily life. Child-rearing, for example, doesn't offer up something at the end of each day that just screams "Look what I did today! Yea, it's finished!" Reason #2) I want the kids to see their mom as a capable lady who doesn't play the damsel-in-distress card when something needs to be fixed. Reason #3 came to me after the first of the beers I consumed while trying to provoke the broken mower into firing back up. That third reason is that I don't want any wimpy high-maintenance daughters-in-law. Maybe if Keller & Casey grow up with a mama who can handle her own, they won't bring home any girls who can't. I realize that sounds quite a bit narcissistic, but it's not meant that way. I want to love who my kids love and I much prefer the company of strong, independent gals over other types of women!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Things you can't have unless you have daughters . . .

How stinking cute are these pink Chucks? They inspired me to do a little photo shoot with Marley today, between downpours (by the way, I think I somehow accidentally relocated to Seattle. What the hell is up with this rain??). Here are some of my favorites.

Marley still doesn't go for the hair accessories. I love the look on her face when she realizes she's had a bow in her hair for who knows how long. I think I'll be seeing that look a lot when she's a teenager.