Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

I am 39 years old today. It's a little disconcerting to be ending
my thirties, but I'm telling myself that I'm looking forward to being 40 next year since I'll be in a different competitive division in fencing.

One of my friends made me this Barbie cake since she knows I've been getting Barbies on eBay lately.

This is the Barbie cake with one really long candle.

I've nicknamed it the Wishing Cake to have a little fun.
The first wish is already coming true...

Soon I'll have a special little daughter.
This is beyond a wish, it's a miracle from God.

Ahh, how many years did I wish for a Mr. Right to come along?

Well, perhaps he'll come along and want
to love and cherish a Mother & Daughter.

Then maybe, the Mother & Daughter will love and cherish him in return.
Then the little daughter would have a mommy and a daddy...

...and we'll all live happily every after.

The End!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas with TuTu

TuTu is what I call my grandmother; it's Hawaiian. As I posted earlier, my TuTu's life is coming to an end after 95 1/2 years of good health and happiness. She is with me, having arrived a week ago Saturday. I wasn't sure when she arrived if I'd be able to take care of her beyond a week, but I know I can and it's important to me that I do, so she'll be staying with me until the end of her life. I've always known that I was the one who would take care of her at this time and, sure enough, it's come to be. I feel so priviledged to have this most special tender time with my TuTu, a time to show her how much I love her. Even though I've told her often, I believe that actions speak louder than words.

She can barely swallow now so eating is impossible and drinking extremely difficult. She doesn't want tube feeding and I agree with her even though it's hard to watch her getting so terrible thin. I've gotten very creative with liquid meals, but today she choked off and on for 3 1/2 hours after choking on a sip.

Tomorrow will be the first day of hospice care. For those of you reading, hospice is a type of care one receives in the last 6 months or less of life when one wants to remain at home rather than go to a hospital. If needed, a hospital bed and necessary equipment is brought into the home. In my case, I think I have a good set-up and don't think I need anything, but I'll find out tomorrow. The hospice nurses don't stay 24 hours, but check in on a schedule or as needed. I really don't know much yet, but will find out what I need to know tomorrow.

The weather was mild on Christmas day so I took my TuTu for a walk outside and I'd bought her a glittery Christmas top, which she's wearing in the above picture, so she had a present under the tree. Until two days ago, she could manage to speak a word or two or communicate with nodding if I asked her something, but today she is so exhausted from the choking episode that she can't do much at all.

Please remember us in your prayers. It is a hard time on one hand, but in other ways it doesn't seem hard at all, but very natural. I firmly believe in the natural order of life, being very pro natural birth, which I'm very well known for as a doula and birth advocate, but I'm also very pro natural death. To come to a gentle natural, dignified end of life is hard to achieve in western society, as death is generally fought and feared. My TuTu has had a great life and I'm priviledged to be the one to help her finish it out as she always indended to, at home.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

One Year Ago Dec. 27, 2007

It's been one year since my agency called to tell me that I got a single's spot with them. I cannot believe how fast the time has flown. I still remember the feelings I had:


I cried, I was shaking. I could scarcely believe it was real.

It was a miracle.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I accepted Catherine's Christmas Tree Challenge and had so much fun. I've not had a tree since 9/11, the first two years because of the event and in the years after that, because I didn't have room for one. Well, I just spent two weeks completely rearranging my furniture and getting a few new things to make my home ready for my daughter. I've had it set up in a non-traditional way to give my daycare maximum room but I've now reclaimed my home for Apple and me.
I couldn't find a decent tree topper and I either got rid of my old one or can't find one of my boxes of decorations where they might be. I saw these butterflies at the craft store and use them instead. This is my main tree in the livingroom at night.

I have a second little tree, another real tree, in my bedroom so my grandmother, who is with me again, can see it. I'll try to take some close-up photos of my favorite ornaments later and post them.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Grandmother is Here

My grandmother is staying with me this week. She isn't going to be with us much longer. She's 95 1/2 years old and, until a few months ago, was perfectly healthy, still driving and living a full life. Now, her body is slowly shutting down. It's so hard to see her like this but I am so grateful for having her in my life for such a long, long time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Apple's First Barbies

Asian little girl Barbie from Target.

Festivals of the World Collection - Chinese New Year Barbie.
I got her on eBay and there are a lot more available.

And, if for some reason, Apple doesn't like Barbies, I'll play with them myself, because I LOVE Barbies! In fact, I've bought several used lots off of eBay lately to replace my collection of Barbies that was stollen when I was burglarized years ago.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

8 Months (Plus 1 Day) Since LID

Woo Hoo, now crossing off the second row!!! I can't believe how fast time is passing.

Friday, November 30, 2007

CCAA Update

A little bit of good news: CCAA has reviewed dossiers through September 30, 2006. Only 7 more months worth of dossiers before it's my turn!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I've got Flu :(

I'm down with the flu: fever, aches, chills, stuffiness. It's day four today and the worse so far. Please pray that my grandmother doesn't get it!

She's back in Fresno after spending three hectic days with me before Thanksgiving getting her eyes and hearing aids checked. I was with her for 9 straight days and now that I've left, she's depressed, not eating and being mean and calling names. Tomorrow, a cousin will arrive in Fresno, perhaps she'll cheer up then.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my Aunty and I got her dressed up and I took her to church for an hour. She was grateful, even though she slept through the last 30 minutes of the hour.

It's been an unusual twist in my life to switch my immediate focus off of Apple and onto my grandmother. I still make it a point to look at baby things in the stores I go into so I can keep thoughts of Apple near when I'm not at home.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

7 Months Since LID

Wow, I finished crossing off the entire first row of my countdown calendar! This last month flew by so fast that it's almost like it didn't exist.

I received a caring email from someone who read my last post and another one from a dear friend. Thank you both for your kind words. I feel better now that I saw my grandmother again. I think that after saying good-bye to her after my first trip to see her, I was worried that it would be the last time. Now I feel that I've had a bonus week and I got to see her again. From now on, each time I see her I will look upon as "bonus time." I bathed her and washed her hair and bought her a new nightgown. She looked so beautiful and vibrant, just like the grandmother I've always known. Here's a picture of her and another of us together. For those of you who are reading and are new, my TuTu is 95 years old and until a couple months ago, lived alone and drove!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Hey Y'all

I need some comments! I'm feeling very isolated. My grandmother has begun the process of passing away. She's 95. I'm feeling very sad and alone right now. I've read many blogs of those who have lost loved ones and pets during their wait and now it's happening to me. I can see that we are at the time of life when we see the end of the life cycle more and more and our little children are the next beginning, bringing renewal, hope and energy.

I'm leaving to go back down to Fresno tomorrow. I'm taking my own car because I need to take my cats with me. I don't have anyone to take care of them for the extended weekend on such short notice. At least, one person has offered, but she has never done it before so I don't feel comfortable having her try for so many days. It's not a matter of pouring some kibble into a bowl, my cats eat raw food that I make and freeze, and they each must eat their own in their own places or my hearty eaters will eat their own portion of food and then the food from my kitties who like to graze for a bit. Please send up a prayer that my car gets me there and back safely (3 hour drive). There wasn't time to get a rental since I had been planning to take the Amtrak and stay only one night and the next day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

First Secret Pal Exchange

My first secret pal experience didn't go quite as I thought either. I thought the gifts were supposed to be for our babies, mostly, with perhaps a little thing here or there for a pet or ourselves. My secret pal chose to send me things that are not appropriate for a baby unless she's to be a bubble bathing pyromaniac.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life: Warp Speed Ahead & Earthquakes

At the beginning of my adoption process I reflected back on my life and concluded that for the past 15 years it has been predictable. This isn't to say that there hasn't been excitement, joy and other interesting, new and challenging things, but everything was, for the most part, very foreseeable. Now that has all changed. I feel like I'm on a roller coaster that flew off the tracks and is now racing at warp speed into a very unpredictable future.

I surely didn't expect to lose Max. Now, at the age of 95, my dear TuTu (grandmother) is finally showing her age. Until 6 weeks ago she lived on her own, for the most part, she even drove, shopped and cared for herself. It seems she may have had a mini stroke that has left her very weak and fragile. She is now living with my aunty and I'm changing my lifestyle to include trips to be with her and help out several times a month. The drive is about 3 hours if I stick to the speed limit and if there isn't any traffic. The fact that at 95 death can come at any time is not unpredictable, but the fact that my TuTu is now so frail is unexpected. She's very surprised, too. It's hard for her to have all her metal functions intact and to be physically unable to live as she is accustomed to living.

I am now wondering what the future holds for me. I know that I'll have my daughter, but I can't make any other predictions. I like the feeling of getting out of a sort of rut, but I have a tiny tinge of disquiet at the unknown, too.

We had an earthquake one week ago tonight. Where I live, this is predicable, but what if we have "the big one" and I lose my home? It didn't seem like a huge problem when I didn't have a daughter to think about. After all, I have my emergency kit and camping equipment. But now I feel a vulnerability that I didn't feel before.

FYI, the earthquake was a 5.6 and rather gentle, vibrating and rolling, not jerking, but lasted long enough to have a full conversation with the rest of my Mandarin class on whether or not we should stand in the doorway or get under the tables. Here are the new FEMA guidelines:

What to Do During an Earthquake

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If Indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.

  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.

  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.

  • Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.

  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

  • DO NOT use the elevators.

  • If Outdoors

  • Stay there.

  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.

  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

  • If In a Moving Vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.

  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

  • If Trapped Under Debris

  • Do not light a match.

  • Do not move about or kick up dust.

  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.

  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

  • Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    A Biological Perspective

    If I had conceived a biological child on January 4, 2007 which was my first agency appointment, I would have been due to give birth on October 11, 2007.

    If I had hypothetically conceived on April 15, 2007 which is my LID, then my due date would be January 20, 2008 and I'd be in my 29th week of pregnancy now.

    Hair Clippies

    I made these clippies tonight for Apple. I've been wanting to make them for quite some time but couldn't get around to it. Tonight I stayed in and indulged my creativity. The ladybugs are made using instructions found here and the others I invented as I went. The tiny bows are only 1 1/4" long.

    These bows I made over 15 years ago! There was a class on how to make them offered at my church and I had figured I'd have a daughter one day. That day is now fast approaching.

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Mommy Moment

    This past week I've been feeling like a mother tiger. I feel Apple very near - like I'm getting her tomorrow, or it's as if she's in the next room. I can't describe what it's like. I feel like I really need to get my home ready, but it's not like the nesting feelings I've had before, it's bigger that nesting in one way, more anticipatory. Perhaps the fires in Southern California have something to do with it, with needing to be prepared. Tonight I shampooed my area rugs. One desperately needed it, but today I desperately needed to get it done and did it.

    I'm very emotional. I'm having dreams of defending her against family members who have hurt me in the past who will not have much at all, if anything at all, to do with Apple. I'm feeling everything intently, like I'm in a hypersensitive state. There are many things occurring in my family right now concerning my 95 year-old grandmother and how she's been treated, that are triggering some of this, but this heightened awareness began over a week ago, before the grandma stuff.

    I've had it in spurts here and there before, but it's lasting a long time this time, almost two weeks straight. I'm watching my actions and speech to make sure I'm setting a good example, as if Apple is already watching. I suppose this is good so that it'll be second nature by the time Apple is with me. Wherever I am, buying a cinnamon bun at Ikea, or grocery shopping, pumping gas, driving, walking, doing dishes and even talking on the phone, I feel like Apple is watching, that she's here already, skipping beside me, or about to interrupt me. I think about what food I should make for her and the bowls and spoons she'll use.

    I'm also suddenly remembering more Mandarin vocabulary words. I'm very relieved that it's starting to find a place in the foreign language section of my brain. I tested myself the other night to see if I think in Spanish numerals or have to translate and I definitely don't have to translate. I'm hoping my Mandarin becomes that easy, also.

    I'm back to starring at Asian children, wondering as I look at each little face if Apple will resemble this one or that one, noticing that they are all beautiful. I look at the moms pushing the strollers, too, notice what they are wearing, if they are fit, if they are looking at their baby. I think about getting new clothes, something a cut above my usual working clothes so I'll be more stylish, in step with the things I've bought for her already.

    This reminds me of one of the most pathetic things I've ever seen. I walked into my bank yesterday and a thin, grubby little boy with large, low-set ears and gorgeous blond hair, dirty and all messy, was slapping his baby sister's hand and saying to her, "I'm going to spank you." I immediately said firmly, "Do not hit that baby! You are hurting her." An Asian lady in front of me spoke up then to support me, saying to the boy, "You are too ruff, it hurts her." The woman was very disturbed but would never had said anything if I hadn't spoken first.

    There was a third child, another girl, same blond hair, but totally falling forward in her face. She made no attempt to push it aside. She said she was four and boy said he was eight, but after some hesitation. I would have guessed him as six and the baby about 16 months. The girl was in the front seat of a double stroller and the baby in the back.

    These were the second most grubby, neglected kids I've ever seen in my life. The baby's legs were completely covered in dried dirt. Her Robeez were so dirty all over that I couldn't tell what color they were supposed to be. Their fingernails were long and filthy, too, everything was dirty, dirty, dirty. The boy looked like he had fetal alcohol syndrome, small almond eyes, large low-set dumbo ears, and what some obstetric nurses call FLK, funny lookin kid, where they know something is wrong, but can't put their finger on.

    After a time, a woman, their mother, not grubby herself, but homely, smiled and took them and left without a word. I don't know what held me rooted where I was standing when all I really wanted to do was run after them and berate the mother and take the children away from her and to my home and wash them, feed them and cuddle them so they might know what love is and that they deserve to be loved.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Stylin' Maclaren

    Pink microsuede reversible seat pad for supior comfort and style!
    Removable head support (not needed for an older baby).

    Fully reclines with an extendable seat, to support those little legs.
    Extendable sun shade for full sun protection.
    Tall handles that can extend even taller.

    Clear UV ray fold-out protector, like putting on sunglasses.

    Yes, I am in love with this stroller!

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Another Adoption Dream

    I had another dream. They all seem to be focused around gotcha day. This one was the most disturbing so far...

    I was out-of-town visiting Tiffany and Eliza in Utah and we were shopping at outlets, so there was a strip of stores all in a row. While we were in one store, in walks my mom (but she didn't look like my mom looks like in real life) with a little Chinese baby that was my daughter. I asked her how she got her and she said that a family also adopting from my agency said it was okay if she went and picked up my daughter since I was out-of-town and that they would take care of the paperwork. I was appalled and took my daughter from her and kept asking her to explain how all this happened. I was feeling so robbed of my motherhood, that she went to get her and that no one contacted me or waited for me. Then, my daughter started to fuss in my arms and my mom jumped right in to take care of her and I had to explain that her job was now over and that I was going to do everything and that no one else can take care of her except me. My mom started to protest and Tiffany supported me, but it was becoming a huge scene so I left and went to another store with my daughter and then, thankfully, I woke up...

    What struck me most about this dream is the strength of the feelings I had that someone else went to get my daughter. I was devastated for me, severely concerned for her and that she was deprived of direct attachment to me. I felt so strong in my protectiveness for my daughter. All I could think about after wondering how such a mistake as this could occure that they would let someone else pick my daughter up, was to wonder if she was okay and wonder if this had harmed her in any way.

    I could feel her so real in my arms and my arms felt as strong as steel against anyone trying to take her from me, but soft and safe for her. I was a mother tiger defending my cub. It was one of those dreams where I was super glad to wake up and realize it was just a dream.

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Happy 6 Months LID Anniversary to Me!!!

    The last six months have simply flown by! As I was driving yesterday, I was thinking that if my wait is 2 years, then I'm 1/4 of the way there. If it's three years, then I'm 1/6 of the way there.

    Some of you may remember that I have a beautiful Emmaljunga pram and that I was on the hunt for my "throw and go" stroller. Several months ago, the new Maclaren line came out and I fell in love with the Brown/Pink Techno XLR, which just happened to be the top-of-the-line model. I drooled, tried it out, loved it more and then decided that it was more stroller than I could justify having for my throw and go, especially as the cheapest I'd seen it for was $330.00, not counting shipping or tax.

    I am now in stroller heaven! Six months LID must be special out there in the adoption cosmos because, as I was browsing Craig's List, which I do once or twice daily, I was prompted to put into the search Maclaren. Usually I search for the following: Bellini, Pram (looking for accessories for my Emmaljunga), Emmaljunga, Dresser, and then whatever else I'm looking for, which lately has been a Jump-O-Lene, which I found, and a teeter totter, which I'm still looking for. (Remember, I'm a daycare provider.) Late Saturday night, after midnight, in fact, after doing my search for "pram" I typed in Maclaren and there it was - my dream stroller for only $126.00!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I picked it up Sunday and I'm in awe that I got this stroller for this price. It's less than a year old and PRISTINE, LIKE NEW!

    I tried taking a picture of the actual stroller today but the weather was dull so the light was bad and it over exposed with the flash so here is a picture from online. Later, I will photograph the actual stroller and all the features so you all can see it.

    Remembering Max

    One week ago to this minute, Max died. This is his final resting place. The five year-old brother of one of my daycare babies picked this flower from his garden to give to me. His mom told me that he studied all the flowers and chose this one because it had red in it. If you click on the photo, you can see a larger version in great detail.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2007

    Weird Adoption Dreams

    Have any of you waiting moms out there had any adoption dreams? I've had three, but only recall two at the moment. They both fell along similar lines which is strange considering the amount of baby stuff I have...

    Dream 1: I went to China to pick up my daughter and didn't bring a single thing with me for her, not a bottle, diaper or a single stitch of clothing. Fortunately, other families pitched in and gave me some things. Strangely enough, no one thought there was anything wrong with not having brought any baby things.

    Dream 2: I discovered that my daughter was already in the U.S. in foster care and that I could go and visit her. I went and was surprised that the family said I could take her home then and there. Needless to say, I didn't have anything with me for her. Also in this dream, she was 28 months old and quite robust. I picked her up into my arms and she didn't cry and I remember thinking that she's much older than I expected but that I'm sure I'd love her anyway.

    Monday, October 8, 2007

    Farewell to Max for Now

    Max died tonight, just after midnight. I think he had a heart attack. I held him in my arms. The details are recorded in my hand written diary, and I'll not repeat them here, but it was a good ending, a little suffering (he arched and cried out) during what I think was the initial heart attack and twice more which I think were more heart attacks, but definitely less suffering than if I'd taken him to the vet, and in the actual end, he just slowly stopped breathing so he was able to relax to a degree and let go. He was conceived, born, lived and now died in this home. It was right how it all happened.

    I felt very strongly that his mother, White, who died 2 1/2 years ago was waiting for him because I suddenly was telling Max to go to his mom, that she was waiting for him and I don't feel like I conceived that thought in my own mind.

    I held him for a long time afterward, wiped his face, brushed him, let the other cats see him, I held him some more, cut a lock of his famous "curly belly hair" to save, then I buried him, in a cotton blanket with his mouse that he liked to fetch held in his paw, just after 2am.

    I promised him that when it's my time to die, that I'll be as brave as he was. I know that he will be there to greet me.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2007

    Mini Max Update

    Max and I were tired all day today, but he seems to be feeling a tiny bit better. He meows with a real voice and went by himself to lay in the sun and again to lay by the door and get some fresh air. He's more interested in food but hasn't eaten a full meal yet and I'm loath to force feed him until his punctures and bruises are healed. He also walked without falling a single time and quite upright (no dragging legs). I forgot to notice if his tail was up or down, though.

    I had to go to the vet again because the doctor wanted me to get him on Epogen again. I am happy to report that I successfully injected it this time AND didn't throw it in the trash can afterward, but put it back in the fridge. I did have to stick him twice, though, because the first stick wasn't in a good position and I didn't want to risk wasting the medication and Max not getting the benefit of it. The needle is very tiny and he didn't seem to mind, but I still felt sorry for him for having to suffer my inadequacy.

    Please send me "good stick" vibes! This medicine could really make a difference to Max, a life and death difference.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2007

    Max Update #3

    This is an older picture of Max when he wasn't ill, looking clean and handsome and showing off what is referred to around here as his squirrel tail.

    Max is at the vet tonight. I should mention that this isn't your average veterinary hospital. By day it's a specialty hospital with several wings in a custom made building, each for a different specialty. I have been going to the internal medicine part, but there is oncology, nuclear medicine, etc... It's open 24 hours and after the clinics close, it's an emergency/trauma hospital.

    I had terrible luck with the Epogen injections. I just couldn't inject it correctly so Max never got fully dosed. I've been sick all week and utterly depleted, so I'm not surprised, but when on Sunday night couldn't find the Epogen in the fridge I started to worry. I found it in the trash can. I must have inadvertantly tossed it out with one of the empty pill bottles. Now that's tired and brainless!

    Today at his appointment, Max's anemia was worse (no surprise). He needed a blood transfusion. I've been assured that this works like a minor miracle in restoring the body, even with humans, but the expense nearly ended my own life. I was able to apply for and received a special credit card for pet health care. I was crying so much and thought I should feel lucky that even though I'm leaving with an empty crate, it's only temporary. I felt less bad about it after using the restroom and seeing that I got my period. That explained why my emotions are running so close to the surface this week and every little thing feels so intense.

    The tech for this appointment that drew Max's blood is the first I've met at this hospital that I didn't care for. Maybe there's no pleasing me today, but she took the blood from Max's most swollen leg and didn't apply pressure afterward so he bled and bled and bled under the skin, a huge marble-sized lump that grew even larger. It looked like she blew the vein. I immediately saw it and knew what was happening so I went through the forbidden door to the inner sactum and urgently told the first person to notice me that there was a problem. I got the tech to bring me and ice pack, but poor Max is now sporting a super huge bruise. These kind are very painful, too.

    He's supposed to spend the night, but there is no way I'm leaving him there so I arranged to pick him up after the transfusion is complete after 1am. I called at 9pm for an update, it should have been finished by then, but it took almost three hours for them to notice that the pump that delivers the blood in a controlled way through an I.V. path, wasn't working or was not set correctly so he'd only been receiving 10ccs an hour instead of 30cc. This means he was would be another three hours when then whole thing should have taken only four hours.

    I could have picked him up first thing in the morning, and I might have been open to leaving him there all night, but I have four daycare kids tomorrow so there is no way I can do that and I'm definitely not leaving him there all day until they are gone. That place is a true emergency room and pets are dying right and left. This isn't a good atmosphere for any animal to spend time in more than necessary. It's true that many pets treated and go home, and many are admitted for further treatment. It's busy and tense all the time, and noisy with all the beeping monitors. I honestly don't know if Max is located near all that hubbub, but animals are sensitive to the environment for great distances.

    I spoke to a nice sound treatment nurse with the happy name of Daisy and she reported that Max is quite fiesty and does best covered up. He doesn't like being covered up at home so I'm glad she discovered this about him and he has a little hiding place. At home he likes to hang out over holes, like the hole in the top platform of the scratching post. His belly hangs through the hole and his head hangs over the edge. I don't have a digital picture of this or I'd post it.

    Right now is doesn't look like his handsome self like in the photo. He's greasy and dingy right now because he doesn't have the strength to wash and I don't have the heart to dump him in the bathtub. He takes three hours to dry, and that's after the blow drier has done what it can. He's been getting a wash cloth bath and several brushings a day. I hope that this transfusion restores him in strength so he can be a cat again and lick himself clean and eat a nice full kitty meal and hang out in all his favorite high places again.

    UPDATE: Oct. 3, 3:40am
    I just got Max home and settled. He can barely walk for all the bruising on his legs from all the needles, but he's eaten a little babyfood and had tons of water and chicken broth.

    Everyone kept asking me "how is he." I was confused at first and kept asking, "Before or after he got sick?" Then one woman kept asking if he's a lap cat. Yes, he's a good lap cat. Yes, he's sweet and loving. His nickname is Sweety Boy. Yes, he'll hiss if you try to do something to him like stick him with a needle or take his vital signs and temperature rectally every 15 minutes for 4 hours!

    Apparently, Max tried to bite them! They all loved his long white fur and thought his eyes were gorgeous, but he was not sweet at all for them. It had taken three of them to draw blood, one to draw, one to restrain and one to be ready for anything.

    I got a behind-the-scenes tour and everyone was super nice. He looked cozy but tortured in the kennel. He had on one of those big plastic collars because he tried biting someone and he was on a peepee pad because he wet himself (so would any of us if we couldn't get to a toilet for 12 hours!), but underneath it was a comfy baby quilt that was folded up and over him.

    He has a red blood cell count at 20% now, whatever that means. Normal is over 20%, though. This morning he was at 14%. I'll get my discharge instructions from the doctor tomorrow.

    I'm having a very early breakfast and then I'm going to bed!

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Max Update #2

    Max stayed at the vet all day yesterday. The only way I could get him in was to do a "medical drop-off." This means that I leave him there and when the doctor has time during the day, she sees him. Otherwise, I'd have had to wait over a week for an appointment and he might not have lasted that long.

    The verdict is a worsening in his anemia and with the prescribed treatment, his prognosis is considered "fair" and the vet assured me that there is a lot of life left in him.

    So, despite carrying around a pound of fluid in his back legs and belly, which makes him look like a hard-working Asian bovine (you know, back bone sticking out but with enormous fat sides), and sleeping by his water bowl 24/7, and having to be force-fed (and I mean FORCED), and giving him massage and passive movement therapy, I'm not to worry.

    What I am to do, is still give him 4 pills a day, give him sub-cutaneous fluids EVERY day, and three times a week give him a shot of Epogen, a human drug to make the bones make red blood cells. This is given in a tiny sub-cutaneous injection and I did the first one last night and think I missed and shot it right through him, like piecing an ear but on the back of his neck. The reason I think I missed is that a few minutes after giving him the injection I pet him and felt a drop of moisture. Since I'm not possitive, though, I have to wait until Friday to give his next dose, which I will do at 12am, so technically it's Friday, but is the soonest I can repeat the medication so it can do it's good work.

    The swelling is supposed to be cured once Max isn't anemic any more. My exhausted, brain, dwelling numbly in my cold-fighting, sleep-deprived, exhausted body, vaguely recalls the vet mentioning something about fluid differential over cell membranes and anemia...

    In the photo above, Sammy took a break from harassing Rose (after I scolded him) to keep Max company and try to cheer him up. When gently batting at Max's feet caused Max to turn his back on Sammy, Sammy gave up and took up his position again on the computor monitor.

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Shopping for the Home

    I had my eye on this round shelf for a few months. It's from Pier 1 Imports. All the ones I saw had damage of some sort and I couldn't get a good enough discount to justify a damaged one. Then, one lucky day, I went back in and the salesman found a perfect one for me. I asked if it was on sale and he said it was not, but when he rang it up, it rang up on sale, much to both our delights.

    It's on the wall above my piano. It will hold ivory carvings that my grandparents bought in Hong Kong when my mom was in her early teens, but until I'm sure my cats won't bother them, it holds non-breakables. The picture doesn't do it justice or show that it's actually 30" in diameter.

    Max Update

    Max is not doing well. In the past five days, he's gained a pound in fluid that has swollen his belly. I did some online research and have adjusted his medications back down to the smaller doses he was first on, hoping to reduce the side effects he is experiencing. If this doesn't work, and the vet has no better treatment, I will take him off of everything and let Nature take over. I would rather have a shorter time with Max feeling better than a longer time with him feeling miserable. The feeling bad began for him when I put him on all these pills. Until then, he was just very skinny, but he still ate and acted like himself, but slower. Now he doesn't eat but a tiny bite or two and he's starting to hate me because I've been force-feeding him (inappetance is a side effect of the meds, so is not being able to taste, upset stomach and nausea) and he's been camped out in the kitchen by his food bowl for four days. I put a blanket there, but it's heartbreaking. He wants to eat, but can't make himself do it.

    Last night he jumped up on my lap and settled for a nice snooze, which was nice for both of us.

    Hats I've Knit

    Doesn't Sammy make a lovely hat model? He's such a good kitty to do almost anything I ask of him, no matter how silly. This hat is made from the Ann Norling pattern, but I found a free pattern online that is virtually identical by putting "knit strawberry hat pattern" into the Google search engine.

    With this second hat, Sammy started to get the hang of really posing. If it wasn't for the flash in his eyes, I could have posted a variety of darling poses he struck. This hat was from a pattern I found HERE but after making the strawberry hat, I knew I needed to make some changes, so here is the same pattern but with the changes I made:

    Lilly's Hat
    (bits in brackets I added)
    Yarn: scraps of Lamb's Pride worsted [sport weight]
    Needles: US size 10.5 [U.S. size 4] circulars and dpns. Switch to dpns whenever it becomes necessary.
    Cast on 224 [1-2 yr. 336 or multiples of 7], and join.
    Round 1: K2tog
    Round 2: k2tog
    Total 56 [84] stitches remain
    Knit until hat measures about 3.25" [5.5"] including ruffle.
    Decrease for the crown as follows:
    Decrease round 1: (k2tog, k5) repeat to end.
    Round 2: Knit
    Round 3: (k2tog, k4) repeat to end.
    Round 4: Knit
    Round 5: (k2 tog, k3) repeat to end.
    Round 6: Knit
    Round 7: (k2tog, k2) repeat to end.
    Round 8: Knit
    Round 9: (k2tog, k1) repeat to end.
    Round 10: Knit
    Round 11: K2 tog
    [Round 12: K2 tog]
    Thread yarn through remaining stitches and pull to close.

    Make 2 flowers using this free pattern from Sarah's Yarn Box. Make 1 starting with a 6-stitch cast on and 1 starting with a 4-stitch cast on. Sew them onto hat. Weave in all ends.

    First Bay Cup Tournament

    I am The Fencing Mama! I got third place (out of 21) at my first fencing tournament of the season today. This is a picture of my actual medal while I'm wearing it. I set the camera on my kitchen table and set the timer. The medals this year are quite pretty and I just noticed a touch of China on them. On the left is the TransAmerica Building, in the middle the Golden Gate Bridge, and on the left, a fencing mask with a Yin and Yang underneath as a sort of neck.

    It was gratifying to place (I love getting medals!) since I haven't competed at all since last December, pre-adoption. After my tournament, the under 14 girls were arriving and many of them are Chinese and look like 7 year-olds, even though most were 12. All I could think about was Apple and the interests I'm going to support her in, whatever they turn out to be. I watched the mothers cheering their daughters on and knew that one day I'll be doing the same thing.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Question Re-vaccination!!!

    I am shocked at the number of families that automatically re-vaccinate their babies once they get them home, without doing a simple blood test, called a titer, as part of the normal blood work-up to see what the immunity levels are. Most pediatricians recommend re-vaccinating automatically, but I've heard from several doctors and learned from research that this is unnecessary and may even be dangerous.

    I'm also shocked that these families and doctors will give as many as 5 injections in the same visit! This can mean something like 15 serums or more at one time! Besides not feeling well from the serums, there is physical pain at the injection site. Also, if the baby has a significant allergic reaction, how will you determine which serum it was? Not to mention that I think it's inhumane to stick a baby with five needles in one visit, not even counting the TB test and blood test.

    At Children's Hospital here in Oakland they have a very strict policy on the number of "sticks" a child has to endure at one time. For example, one nurse or technician has two tries to insert an IV or draw blood. If they fail, they have to ask someone else to try. That person gets one try. If they fail, the procedure is cancelled or put off until another time. If it's urgent that the procedure be done, then a pediatric anathesiologist is called in because they are generally extremely proficient with difficult IV insertions and blood draws. I've even seen a nurse in the ICU take a look at a baby's veins and not even try, knowing it was a difficult case, so she got someone who she knew was very, very skilled at it.

    Many are under the impression that there isn't much risk with vaccines, but this isn't true. In the past few years there have been several recalls and changes in protocals due to side-effects from vaccines. I'm not just talking the MMR/Autism question, but things like intussusception that was caused by the Rotavirus vaccine (it was pulled from the market right away), and now Prevnar, which prevents seven strains responsible for most cases of pneumonia, meningitis and deadly bloodstream infections has caused a niche for dozens more strep strains that exist, to flourish and become impervious to antibiotics since the vaccine combats the more common strains, yet doctors are still advising that children receive this vaccine. The Prevnar vaccine promotes new superbugs that cause ear infections, a superbug germ that is resistant to all drugs approved to treat childhood ear infections. One strain in particular, called 19A, is big trouble. A new subtype of it caused ear infections that were resistant to all pediatric medications. HERE'S a link to the article, but I'm not sure how long these news links stay active.

    Also realize when you hear about children getting meningitis, that most of these kids HAVE BEEN vaccinated and that the vaccines are not 100% efficient. Also, menigitis has many causes and many different bug strains, but you never hear about these in the news articles and TV programs.

    Please educate yourselves on the risk/benefit ratio of vaccinating and definitely do NOT automatically re-vaccinate. When you have your child's physical done after you get home, definitely include in the blood workup a titer. A titer is a measurement of the amount or concentration of a substance in a solution. It usually refers to the amount of medicine or antibodies found in a patient's blood. Blood titer measurements can be very helpful in determining medical treatment. Antibody titers can tell the doctor if the patient has immunity to diseases such as measles, small pox, and hepatitis.

    At my last agency class one of the parents said their doctor told them, "Your baby will have to have a needle for the blood test and the vaccine. Why not just do the vaccine and then it's only one needle." How ridiculous is this when the blood was being drawn ANYWAY for other tests and the vaccines require THREE doses!!! Fortunately at this class there was also a parent who was a doctor and she spoke up about NOT automatically re-vaccinating and said she was glad I told everyone about the titer.

    I've also heard that the vaccines used in foreign countries aren't as good as the ones here. Well, unless you read the label and brand, you have no idea which ones your kids are getting here either, and be assured, the cheaper vaccines are widely used in the USA, too, don't kid yourself. My cousin used to work in a doctor's office (she was the technician that gave the shots) and I learned a ton from her. I also have a mom whose baby is in my daycare who works for a pharmaceutical company and gives me the inside scoop.

    Bottom line: It's up to you to protect your children!

    Five Months LID & Update

    This post is a day or two late because I was super busy and not feeling well on top of it.

    I celebrated my 5 months LID day by having a class at my agency on Parenty Strategies and it was VERY good. I love the classes at my agency because they abound with common sense and practicality. As a person with a lot of experience with babies and children, I don't have a lot of patience with fads in child rearing.

    Even though I wasn't feeling well, I still went out to lunch and to the baby shops, but left my favorite one, Bellini, after just a short time, sat and rested in my car, the drove home. I rested today and feel almost normal now.

    Thank you for your comments on my last post about my cat, Max. I completely understand about having PTSD, WZgirl, my sympathies to you for whatever you went through, too.

    Max appears to have stabilized and seems comfortable, though I wish his appetite was better. He rests a lot now, a side effect to all the medications, but he's alert and talks to me even if it's a kitty curse word, and he was fiesty when I did his sub-q fluids. The day after going to the emergency appointment, the emergency vet called me because the cardiologist got back to him and suggested 1/4 of a pill twice a day to help Max get more oxygen and it worked wonderfully well. He also suggested increasing the thyroid pill since Max is responding favorably, so I did that, too. Max will have an appointment with a new internist when she returns from vacation and I'll have another blood test done. The thing I'm interested in is seeing if his anemia is worse. If so, something will have to be done. There are three choices, transfusion with real cat blood, a shot intended for humans that stimulates the bones to make red blood cells, and something synthetic that is transfused into the blood that carries oxygen and works like red blood cells. I should also mention that even though it's not good, Max has a true Valentine-shaped heart! I always have called him my Sweety Boy.

    On Friday, I attended a family funeral. Even though it was a sad occasion, I loved being with all my Hawaiian relatives. My family took it seriously when God said to be fruitful and multiply. My grandmother's sister married at 14 and had 8 babies by the time she was 24. One of those 8 also had 8 kids. One of those 8 has little boy/girl twins, about 1 1/2 years old. They were soooooo cute, both sucking their thumbs and playing with their piko (belly button) with their other hand.

    I conducted the hymns so I was up on the stand looking down. I was thinking about this huge loving family that I'll bring Apple into. It was all I could do not to tell everyone about the adoption. Hawaiians love children. I can imagine her running around at a family gathering being spoiled by the older girl cousins and how the uncles will gently play and tickle and hug her. I loved watching everyone's expression of tenderness, joy and love when the kids passed by. The gentleness always touches me since I see so many Western dads trying to be macho, or even when they are being tender, it lacks the utter gentleness I noticed. Even though it's 2am Monday morning as I type this, I still feel enveloped in the aloha of last Friday. It's such a wonderful feeling.

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    My Cat Max

    Max is the white cat with a green and a blue eye. Pooch is the sleeping cat.

    I just spent the last 4 hours at the emergency vet with my cat Max, who is 14 years old. Two weeks ago he was diagnosed with a ton of "old man" things: 75% kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, hypertension, anemia, and an increase in the heart murmur he's always had. Alone, each of these conditions is easily treatable, together, the treatments contradict one another. Treating the hypertension is particularly hard on failing kidneys. Treating the kidneys is particularly hard on the heart.

    The determined treatment was three pills and subcutaneous fluids, all in low doses, with a recheck in a week. At the week check, there was slight improvement so the blood pressure medication was increased. I was warned to look for labored breathing, a sign that the treatment was hard on his heart. Today the labored breathing began so I had to take him to the emergency vet which is open 24 hours and just happens to be where his internist is (but she's on vacation right now).

    I went ahead and did $500 worth of tests, some of which needed to be done as a follow-up anyway, and there isn't much change in treatment, just to decrease the amount of sub-Q fluids I give him.

    While I was there, an 18 yr. old cat came in and ended up being euthanized. And a dog came in just after me, unable to breath, foaming and contorted. It had paralysis of the trachea and was also euthanized. Meanwhile, a family with a 20 yr. old cat even skinnier than my Max, who is just fur and bones, went away feeling better, having pooped on the table, relieving the constipation it was in there for.

    I cried a lot! I felt so much for those who had lost their pets. The grief of losing Max's mom, White, two years ago, is still sooooooooo fresh, just beneath the surface of my control, that it came out a bit. Fortunately, there are several tissue boxes around the place.

    That place was truly a pet E.R. From my room I could hear the sounds of the heart monitors beeping and animals protesting treatment. Max really laid into them when they took his blood, poor kitty.

    Saturday, August 25, 2007

    Knitting & eBaying

    I have renewed my love for Gymboree clothes. I have quite a collection from the mid 1990s that I've saved all this time and now, thanks to eBay, I've collected a few lines from 2002 for a fraction of the price they'd have cost new and most of them are NWT (new with tags). Both of these sets are size 3t.

    I've also been knitting. I finally made some little baby socks. I've always wanted to knit socks and now I can finally say I've done it and I love it. I'm going to knit some for myself. The pink sweater I finished a week or so ago is posted below in the previous post, Four Months Flying By. These little green socks are for my sister, BZ, who just found out she's expecting her first child. I am so happy that our children will be near in age. I hope they are close cousins.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Four Months Flying By

    I'm happy to say that for me the wait is flying by. This past month I've felt so near to my daughter. I love preparing for her. I've been knitting this sweater for Apple and it's taken about four weeks.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    What to Expect the First Month Home

    This was the title of the class I took at my agency today, facilitated by the social worker who did my homestudy. It was cool to see her again. It was the largest class attendance so far, with at least 50 people in one relatively small room. They even ran out of chairs.

    There were three families with their little ones telling us their experiences. Some of the topics included:

    Jet lag
    Health issues for themselves and their child
    Developmental issues of their child
    Sleep issues
    Getting into a routine
    Choosing a pediatrician
    The first doctor visit
    ...and more

    Thanks to reading so many blogs, I didn't hear anything I haven't read several times over and I feel as prepared as anyone can possibly be ahead of time.

    I get slammed with jet lag when travelling back from Asia but do pretty well from the U.S. to Asia. If Apple and I can get on the same time while in China, I hope that when we come home our jet lag matches so that we can sleep at the same time and be awake at the same time. I don't care what times that happens by the clock as long as we both manage to get some sleep. If it doesn't work out that way, I'm sure I'll have a reliable stream of babysitters willing to come over while I take a nap.

    My biggest worry is that we are both healthy and whoever travels with me, most likely my sister, BZ, will be healthy for the entire trip.

    After classes at my agency I have a little ritual. I go to lunch at Fresh Choice and all-you-can-eat healthy buffet, then walk through a great outdoor mall looking in all the baby stores. Today I bought a little onesie on sale at Gymboree for under $5 and three pairs of socks, also on sale. Usually I don't buy anything, just look. Then, I go to my favorite store, Bellini. It's very nice, upscale, and they know me there now, and are very nice, so I get greeted enthusiastically as a waiting mom, which feels great and is exciting.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2007

    eBaying: verb, To Shop on eBay Like Crazy!

    I'm at it again, but with great consciousness. I found what I love, what I must have just because I love it, and made a list. I reviewed my list every day, and trimmed it here and there according to how things were going. I decided ahead of time what my maximum price will be. And then I BID, and BID, and BID, and BID and I WON, and WON, and WON, and WON!

    Here is a little sample:

    All of these pieces are Gymboree in like new or NWT (new with tags) condition. I bought a few things in size 12 months, some in size 24 months and the blue set I have various pieces of in sizes 12 months to 5 years, basically every two sizes she'll have the same mix-'n-match pieces. That's how much I LOVE this Paris Kitty line. I have a couple more auctions to go and then I'll have what I want and I'll be hoping that Apple will like it, too.

    Friday, July 27, 2007

    Cruising At CCAA

    Some good news to report from Beijing at CCAA...

    In less than a month, they have reviewed one month's worth of dossiers, again! Dossiers logged in through June 30, 2006 have now been reviewed.

    Keep up the good work, CCAA!

    Friday, July 20, 2007

    Bye-Bye Plane

    I'm sure you've heard about it by now, the mom and baby who were kicked off the plane after the mom refused the flight attendant's command to drug the baby with Benadryl. If you've not heard of it, Google "bye bye plane" and it'll come right up. I hope that flight attendant gets fired and the airline made to pay up big time.

    I've read a lot of adoption blogs and I'm still horrified at the number of parents that do drug their little ones with Benadryl to put them to sleep, not to relieve them of cold/allergy symptoms. As a daycare provider and someone who has travelled internationally many, many times with families with small children, I do know what kids can be like on a plane for hours and hours. Drugging them is NOT the answer.

    Airplane air is already super dry and when Benadryl is added on top of it, you are seriously risking the well-being of the baby, drying out the body further because it does more than dry out the breathing passages, it effects all body fluid levels. I implore anyone reading this to only use medications as directed for illness and not for convenience.

    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    Sew & Show 2

    Finally, the great sweater-out-of-scrap-acrylic-yarn project is finished. It only took ten years! I don't know if it will fit Apple since it's rather small, but I don't care since I will be starting another one, using cotton yarn and a pattern (not making it up as I go).

    This is a peek at my next New Conceptions pattern - baby shoes. Today I graded all the shoe sizes so now I can begin designing the different styles. It sure feels good to have my creativity flowing again.

    Pale pink/peach leather shoes.

    Side view.