Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Adoption Tax Credit - Set to Expire - 2010 - What You Can Do

I've been reading a lot lately on adoptions, researching, thinking about adopting again, etc. While we aren't ready to adopt again just yet, it is on our minds. I had heard the tax credit was going to expire so I did some research. Sure enough the federal adoption tax credit is set to expire December, 2010. This credit is what makes adoption affordable for many families, whether it be domestic or international.

Our local Congressman, in the House of Representative, currently supports The Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee of 2009 H.R. 213, which would prevent the "sunset" of the tax credit.

However our two Senators are currently not listed as being supporters or co-sponsors of the bill.

So in an effort to keep this going I wrote 3 letters yesterday which I am mailing today. One to thank our Congressman who currently supports the bill and the other 2 to ask for support from our 2 Senators.

Please I urge you to write your Senators, or call, if that's easier, to ask them to support the bill. I'm sending a copy of our Christmas card with our letter so they can see the family the tax credit helped to create.

You can track the Bill here as well as see who currently supports it.

You can find your US House Representative here.
You can find your US Senate Representatives here.

Here's a copy of my letter - feel free to use it as a template for yours, but be sure to write from your heart about what adoption means to you.

Dear Sentor ________:

My family and I are constituents in 'City, State'. It has come to my attention that the adoption tax credit is set to expire December of 2010. I wanted to write to ask you to support extending or renewing the credit. (The Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee of 2009 H.R. 213).

We adopted our son from Russia in April of 2008. With expenses totaling more than $__________ (insert your number here), the adoption tax credit was a big help last year in helping us pay off a small loan we took out to complete the adoption.

Our son is the best thing that has ever happened to us and the best decision that we have made as a married couple in over 13 years.

While in Russia we were able to see other orphans, like our son, living in the orphanages. I will never forget the day we went in to his room and there were about 15 other children playing. Our son, even though we'd only met him for a few short hours the day before, immediately ran for me and started patting my legs. Suddenly I was surrounded by 4 little boys, all patting my legs for my attention. Then suddenly the most heart warming and at the same time heart breaking thing I saw was when I turned to look at my husband, who had squatted down and was rubbing the back of a small little girl who was hugging his neck as if to say "Take me, Pick me". I will never forget the look on his face that day. We would have happily taken every last child in that room if we could have.

Our hope is to one day adopt another child, but without the credit we feel that we would not be able to offset any of the expenses enough to afford another adoption, whether it be domestic or international.

I've included our 2009 Christmas photo card for you to see that adoption makes families and good ones at that!

Our son is three years old and has been home a year and a half now. He has almost passed the mark of spending more time in a family than in an orphanage. All children should have that chance.

Please support the adoption tax credit so that many families will find that adoption can be affordable, and for others like us, give us the chance to adopt again. Most importantly, support the adoption tax credit for the children who have yet to come home.



I hope these letters make a difference.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What a Wonderful Christmas!!

I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as we did. We started out Christmas Eve by having a lunch for everyone at our house. 22 guests, 2 tables, 4 new children from the last dinner we did (2007), and lots of homecooked goodies made for a wonderful afternoon!

We ate and ate and afterwards I held a Survivor style auction using items I've collected for free from CVS (mostly) using my Extrabucks (check out my other blog!). I gave everyone 200 bucks of fake money and let the bidding begin. I think just about everyone left with something, but the biggest surprise was my father-in-law who left with the most!

Afterwards we enjoyed more family time and then Troy had to go to work, everyone left and Daniel I had the evening to ourselves. We baked cookies and left them along with his favorite drink, tea and milk, out for Santa. Daniel even chose the dishes with the "reindeer" on them for Santa!

The next morning we opened tons of presents (well Daniel did!)!! He got lots of great stuff! Then later that evening when Troy got off work we met him up at Massanutten (for a free stay check out this post from my other blog). We stayed for 3 days, 2 nights absolutely free. While we already own a timeshare they wanted us to 'upgrade' and we said no way - but for listening to the spiel we earned a $100 gift card AND 3 tickets to the indoor waterpark! Needless to say we had a blast!

Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Updated Snow Count!

Seriously - we took Daniel out threw him in the snow once or twice and then he cried when he realized he couldn't make any headway in the snow and couldn't get himself out and said he wanted to come in. Can you blame him???!!!

Confirmed 24 inches in our city and it's still coming, although tapering off finally!

Blizzard conditions at Our House!

And we're expecting another 12 inches today!

Last night around 10:30 pm

This morning at 6:30 am

Car? What car?!?!

Mailbox - Not for long!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chugga, Chugga, Choo, Choo!!

Breaking news - we're expecting 12-24 inches of snow tonight - and we have at least 6 already. Yikes!!

It's no secret this year that the only thing Daniel wants is a big train (as if he doesn't have any!). So this year we thought it might be fun to take Daniel on a real train ride. We were able to combine a trip to Nashville to visit my grandmother with a ride on the North Pole Express Train with several other adoptive families.

We met Carey and Norm and their two children (private blog), Adrienne and Owen and Carrie and S. to ride the train together. The kids had so much fun listening to the conductor read a story, getting two gifts from the elves and telling Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

Daniel spent the first 1/2 an hour just looking out the window watching the signals as we crossed over roads and talking train talk. He loves talking about the couplings and whether or not we were in a steam engine or a diesal engine - (Thomas the Train talk! - Before long we were assured by Daniel that Bert was our front engine and Arry was our back engine!)

Visiting with my grandmother was nice. They had open house at her place of residence and we were able to visit with some additional family and enjoy meeting lots of my grandmother's friends. Santa came to visit during the open house to and Daniel happened to be sitting in Troy's lap. Well, when Santa came over Daniel kept repeatedly telling Santa that "This is my daddy, This is my daddy." Santa played along and asked if "Daddy had been good." Daniel assured him yes and when Santa asked Daniel what he should bring Daddy, Daniel paused and then said (much to the audiences laughter) "A Great Big Train!"
Daniel loves his great grandmother "CC" and we were glad to visit with her.

Here are a few fun photos from our time!

We never get bored in the car on an 8 plus hour drive!

Big boys on the train!

Presents from the Elves!

A Visit from Santa on the train!

No trip is complete without a visit to Bass Pro in Nashville!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


in snow that is!! We woke up to this yesterday morning! It snowed most of the day, but it didn't keep us from enjoying the outside world. Troy worked on scraping off the vehicles while Daniel and I continually pelted him with snowballs! We figured once he had had enough he might want to get in on the action.

I was right!

I nailed him in the back of the head (I didn't know I had such good aim!) and he came after us! He bypassed Daniel and caught me and rolled me around in the snow. Don't worry I had snow flying up at him every chance I got and finally he gave me mercy. Of course then 35 pounds of Daniel landed on top of me!

Troy also took Daniel for a ride on the 4-wheeler and while they were gone I made a pile of snowballs for their return. As they came up the street, I pelted them and I heard Troy yelling "Mama's got a pile of ammunition, duck.....".

Needless to say we had a good time!

Then today we remembered that we had an innertube made for lakes, but we thought we'd blow it up and give it a try. Troy worked really hard making the lane AND the "launcher" as he called it right at the end!! These are the results....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Turkey's in the Oven

and the men are off --

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award

Thanks to Jackie and Phyllis who passed on the Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award to me. I'm not sure I've ever received an award. I know I've been tagged many times, but this is way more fun! And now I'd like to thank.....

Okay so the deal is I get to share 10 random facts about me so here they are:

1. I'm a trip planner. In fact my family calls me their "travel agent". If anyone wants to go anywhere, I'm the one who finds the directions, prints out itineraries, etc. Maybe it's a calling....

2. Speaking of trips, when I'm on one, I love to go, go, go. So much in fact that one morning on a cruise Troy and I went on forever go, about halfway through, he woke up ahead of me and managed to climb over me to shut the heavy curtains to make our room pitch black. I slept until 11:30 am and when I woke up and realized it, I was MAD at him!! He just kept repeating that I must have needed that sleep!

3. I used to hate sour cream and suddenly (within the past year or so) I've realized I love it and don't know how I managed to live without it for so long.

4. I love watching HGTV and House Hunters International. (See number 1 and Number 2) A girl can dream big right?!?!

5. Speaking of TV shows – I'm still hooked on Survivor and now Daniel and I watch it together every Thursday night and share a bowl of popcorn. I used to watch it with my dad every week until he passed away and so I've passed it on to Daniel. Troy knows he is not to interrupt us OR try to eat any of our popcorn! Daniel sortof watches, but it works for me!

6. I am trying really hard to like venison. Troy killed 2 big bucks this past week (more to come on that later) and we have tons of meat in the freezer. Sometimes it's okay, but I didn't grow up around hunting or eating venison and frankly I can't believe I married a hunter. What was I thinking?

7. I love reading. If that's not random enough, let me elaborate. I used to hate anything that was remotely scary, but suddenly I'm finding myself immersed in books like the Twilight series, the Blood Brothers series, Morrigan's Cross series, etc. I find it all fascinating now.

8. I still dream of being a romance writer one day, but maybe with a twist now (see number 7 above). I have about 10 or more pieces of work started, but not finished. One of which is probably 60 pages or more already!

9. I also still dream about being an archaeologist one day. When I was young (because I'm so old now) I wanted nothing more than to travel to Egypt and see the pyramids. It's still on my list, and after watching Transformers II the other night, I'm ready to go!

10. I love being a family. One of the first things we taught Daniel was that Papa, Mama and Daniel were a family. We would all hug together and tell him that. And now I love it when he runs up to us and says "Papa, Mama, Daniel – We're a family!!" Sometimes he includes all the dogs and cats names too!

I think I'm supposed to tag 10 people, so here I go:
Angie - she is waiting for a referral and we all know how hard that is. We're thinking of you!
Clarese - also waiting! They just got their I-171H!
Danica - they have adorable twin girls from Russia
Becky - she's so busy lately that we are missing reading her posts - maybe this will help?
Marie - she has an adorable son and husband who should not be sent out shopping together anymore!
Okay - that's five and while it's not 10 I was hoping to pick people who haven't been picked before. Have fun!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Potty Training Update

It's been a week since our visit with the urologist for Daniel's medical update. I have to say that the suggestions the urologist made were right on the money for Daniel.

Are we trained? Not yet.

Have we seen improvement? YES, YES, YES!!!

We were on a 2 to 2 and half hour potty schedule and on day one we discovered that Daniel needed to be moved to a 1 and a ½ hour to 2 hour schedule – he just can't make it any longer. So we spent until Sunday getting a routine down.

Daniel will go potty unprompted when he wakes up, when he "cleans up" for lunch, after nap, before bath, and anytime he needs to do more than pee. He still will not go unprompted any other the time of the day, so we have to remind him.

Beginning Sunday we had to start keeping a chart showing when he urinated, whether prompted or unprompted, whether or not he was wet, and how much he peed. You read that right – we have had to measure every pee pee for the last 4 days – this is our last day thank goodness! He has to pee into a "hat" that we place in the toilet and then we have to pour it into a cup that measures the cc's. The urologist is trying to get a feel for how much Daniel's bladder can hold now without doing any invasive procedures at this time.

To give you an idea, they like to see a child Daniel's age, empty 90 cc's or 3 ounces. Well, this morning Daniel emptied, 150 cc's or 5 ounces. To say his bladder is enlarged would be right and you can understand why Daniel continues to have small wets in between potty breaks.

Having Daniel pee once and then hang out in the bathroom and play, then go again, as the doctor said, has really been the key. We started out with a pirate punch out book and after he went initially we would sit and play and make scenes with the punch outs, then Daniel would go again. This immediately cut down on the in between wets. And while we still see them a few times a day, they are tiny and not noticeable under regular clothes whereas before they were larger wets that showed through his clothes.

We have graduated from playtime in the bathroom to now just standing in front of the toilet a little longer and singing "Jesus Loves Me" and "Jesus Loves the Little Children". While we are singing Daniel lets it all go and we're done. It's such an improvement!!

Also we discovered the great Privilege (or motivator) the doctor said we needed to discover. Two actually. The first – I'll give you 1 guess....


Yep – TV time is now limited to after a potty pee and no wet pants. It's working. Daniel will do anything for a Thomas video. We limit it to 15-20 minutes of TV after a dry 2 hour spell. He usually does great in the mornings, but the early evenings he sees little TV as he tends to do his little wetting more then.

The other big Privilege? The Library!! Last winter I used to take Daniel to a Chat 'n Play every other Friday and Mother Goose Time on Mondays. Then summer came and we got busy. Well I promised him Chat 'n Play last Friday, if he kept his pants dry after he woke up and let me tell you – dry as a bone. So off we went.

Then Monday rolled around and I promised him Preschooler's Story hour at the library (he's too old for Mother Goose now – and let me tell you this story hour was fantastic with puppets and a craft). Not only did he keep his pants dry after he woke up, but when I told him if they stayed dry during the drive there and the hour of story time, that we would go into the big part of the Library and look for a Thomas book to check out.

Well, let me tell you – for 3 hours he stayed bone dry!!! I was so proud of him!! And yes! He checked out his first book – Thomas of course!

So that's where we are. We're working really hard and Daniel is beginning to see potty time as being more fun and he is relaxing more, hence peeing more.

Hopefully in a couple of months, this will all be history!

Charts we are filling out.

Daniel enjoying some TV time after staying dry.

And just in case you're wondering how to carry your tools to the next job when you don't have on carpenter pants or a tool just stuff them down the front of your pants (and ignore the chocolate pudding stains on your shirt)!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gone Huntn'

I received this photo at work last Thursday and should have known something was up.

When I got home from work, I found this note:

(And yes - his eyes are closed in the photo because when his eyes are can't see him, of course.)

To top it off, when he got home he informed me they saw six deer and Papa didn't shoot any. Oh and do not forget the favorite line around the house these days. "You don't go hunting with us Mama, because you're a GIRL."

Fine by me!!!!

If your interested in how well a three year old hunts, read on!

Troy said Daniel did great. He took him out behind our house where he has permission to hunt some land so they walked all the way in and out of the woods. They sat by a tree for a while. Then Daniel walked a slow, quiet circle around the tree. And when the deer came in and Troy pointed them out, he said Daniel was glued to the deer. Watched them the whole time. Needless to say the tired little walker...I mean hunter...slept well that night and is looking forward to next time!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Medical Update - November 4th (Long)

Today we had more follow ups for Daniel. We started with an ultrasound when he had a full bladder and then he had to pee in a special potty to measure how much he emptied, followed by another ultrasound to check the bladder again. They also checked his kidneys.

Thankfully his right kidney is still beautiful and again we give thanks to many prayers and to God because his left kidney is looking even better than before. The fluid (from severe reflux) is starting to drain. While it's far from perfect, it is healing and for that we give thanks.

His bladder is still over-enlarged although it appears to be looking slightly better. When I say slightly, I mean it is barely detectable. However, muscles like the bladder can take a very long time to heal and fortunately we have Daniel's age on our side. He can grow into his bladder, and although it may never be completely normal, it will function just fine.

We have follow ups again in January for repeat ultrasounds and sometime after we will have a big nuclear test to test the functioning of his kidneys again, but right now they feel it is not necessary.

We are struggling in one area...potty training. I know I've talked about it before and yes, we have been potty training since forever at this point, and at one point he was doing really well, but for the last 3-4 months he has gone backwards. One good thing to point out is that he never misses a #2. For this we are happy! However, for some time, he has decided that going to the potty is too burdensome.

Before I say more - we have tried it all...cheerios in the potty, sticker charts, a potty prize basket (earn so many stickers, get a reward) - and about a dozen other techniques.

Daniel will not go the bathroom without prompting now and he could generally care less when he's wet and keeps on playing. However, today for the first time, he wet himself and actually went to the bathroom to change himself immediately without even telling me. Progress?? I don't know.

The biggest problem we have is that he'll go the bathroom and 10 minutes later he'll wet the front of his underwear. He doesn't even notice. Some days we go through 5 or more pairs of underwear.

After talking with the doctor today we have a new plan. It didn't go well tonight, due to some serious backtalking from Daniel, but I'm pleading the case of "no nap" to try to excuse the backtalk. (Don't worry - Troy put him directly to bed since he was seriously backtalking me in the bathroom.)

We learned today that we have a mix of issues. First and foremost, we have a child with an abnormal bladder. It was obstructed for so long, that it just needs time to heal. Since it was obstructed, Daniel doesn't empty all the way. Hence the small accidents. He also remains on the bladder relaxer medicine.

We also have a child who is smart enough to figure out that pottying takes too much time, and the stickers and toys aren't worth it anymore because "he knows how to get them". (Doctor's words, not mine.) He also suggested that the motivator needed to be a privilege, not an item. Now to figure out the privilege.

We also have a child who absorbes himself in play and just doesn't want to stop and is in too much of a hurry in the bathroom.

We also are in great big power struggle in our house at this point. This came on rather suddenly and hasn't stopped for about a month now. Getting Daniel to do certain things has become quite hard. We're blaming it on selective hearing, but we are working on this. Just yesterday I asked him to put on his shoes and he wouldn't. Our new technique (which is working, although slowly) is to just walk away and say, "You may not come out of your room/come out of where ever he is at the moment, until you put your shoes on." and then walk away. And although some days it takes 1 minute and some days 10 minutes, it seems to be working, without involving timeouts.

We're also to blame. We spent too long prompting him to go the bathroom (trying to avoid accidents) that now he won't go without the prompting. We also haven't found the right motivator, although at this point I'm lost on motivators - we've tried EVERYTHING.

Also, I'm frustrated. Troy is much calmer about the issue, but after all these months, I'm just plain frustrated.

Frustrated with changing underwear 5 or more times a day and then having to wash every other day or more to keep clean underwear in the house. Frustrated that every time we go out, there is usually an accident and I have to change him in restaurants, at parties (kids), in the grocery, you name the public bathroom - I've probably been there. Frustrated that every trick I've tried just doesn't work.

I want Daniel to potty train, not just for me, but for him. I want him to be able to start school on time. I want him to be able to play on the playground for more than half and hour at a time. I want him to be able to play T ball or soccer or whatever he wants to do.

And considering at one point the doctor's told us he would most likely need a permanent cathedar, I should be thrilled. And I am. I'm just lost.

However, I'm hoping all this will be resolved soon. We had a wonderful talk with the urologist and we have some new ideas.

We have to keep a diary for the doctor for a few weeks and we also have to measure how much he is emptying after what they call a "Full Empty". They want to measure his bladder capacity without doing any invasive procedures. In order to do this and get a full empty, we are on a new schedule.

We have to take Daniel to the bathroom every 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours. At that point we have to let him go to the bathroom and then keep him in the bathroom with an activity. A book, a puzzle, anything that will keep his attention, but won't absorb him. Then after 2-3 minutes pass, have him go the bathroom again.

The goal is multifaceted. First, we get on a regular potty schedule and hopefully Daniel's body will eventually train to have to use the bathroom at those times and the prompting will become extinct. Second, he will fully void by going twice and hopefully eliminate the in between accidents. Third, the bathroom becomes fun again. Where it is a place of stress for us now, it will become an activity center. Lastly, eventually we should be able to draw out the times between potty and hit the normal 3 and 1/2 to 4 hour range with no accidents.

How long will it take - that's the million dollar question.

The doctor tells us most likely months. My brain hurts thinking about that, but we've come so far, and I'm not giving up. We will conquer this. First (according to the doctor) we need to 'win' the power struggle with the bathroom which we can do with the activity. The bathroom needs to no longer feel like something he has to do, but something that he wants to do. Second, his body needs time to adjust to the 2 hour schedule. Third, his bladder needs to continue healing. Fourth he needs to get bigger and older to understand what is going on with his bladder.

The last words from the doctor were that Daniel COULD be trained, which was something they didn't think would happen initially, and that he WOULD train with a regular schedule and a little bit of help.

I am thankful.

Finally one additional tip for those of you that may be out there with hard to train pottiers - have them change their own clothes when wet, take them to the hamper and "help" with the laundry, so that they understand there is a process for cleaning up besides having mommy change them into nice, clean, dry clothes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Helping Others

I just wanted to take a moment and let everyone know that Operation Giggle is going on. Carey and Norman first brought this blog to my attention on their blog. Daniel and I belong to a playgroup known as "Playgroup With A Purpose" and we decided to sponsor two children in the New Day Foster Home in China to send Christmas gifts to for our October meeting. We sent gifts for two little boys, ages 2 and 7. We also gave a small donation for shipping.

Operation Giggle is shipping gifts for 42 children. They need a total of $1,500.00 for shipping. So far even though they placed the 42 New Day children with sponsors for gifts, they have only received a liitle more than $250.00 for shipping costs.

If you can, please check out the blog and give a little. Even $5.00 would make a big difference. Operation Giggle is also sponsoring other children and people, so check them out!

Since coming home from Russia, I've really felt called to do more for the children we left behind (and that includes other countries, not just the children we saw.) This Playgroup is a wonderful outlet for Daniel to learn about the gift of giving and for me to feel like I am doing something more.

If anyone has any groups or ideas for us for future projects, let me know. We've been researching and mostly just stumble on groups like Operation Giggle. We not only do international, but local as well. Our November playgroup is collecting donations for the Ronald McDonald House.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treatin'

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!! We sure did. We started off the day by carving our pumpkin and then that night Daniel dressed up as a pirate. We've been watching Peter Pan and reading several Peter Pan books and we thought iot would be a great idea. I found a kit for Captain Jack Sparrow and Troy painted an old sweatshirt and ta da! we had a little pirate on our hands.

The first house we went to he yelled "knock, knock, knock" at the door instead of knocking and when the gentleman opened the door, Daniel barged right into the house. Thankfully I was able to grab the back of his shirt and stop him on the second try. The fellow thought it was hysterically funny and then said "Come on in!" They were neighbors of my mom's thankfully!

After that he got the hang of not going inside the houses, but he always wanted to take the candy from the people's hands and not let them drop it into the bucket. A few more houses and he got that down as well. Finally we laughed when at two different houses they held their bowls out and Daniel grabbed huge handfuls. The people were good sports, and let him have all the candy he could grab. Maybe next time they hold the bowl out to a 3 year old, they'll think twice!!

Oh and it's no longer "trick or treat". It's "Trick or Treatin'" as that is what Daniel said at every door, along with "Aargh Matey!". People got a kick out of him!

When we were almost done with our circle, Daniel handed me his bucket and said "I'm too tired to do anymore." So home we went. A good trick or treat night and a nice haul of candy - couldn't ask for more!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Visit 2009

Sunday we took off to the pumpkin patch and met up with Meghan, Bill and Nick. It was so good to see them this year and be able to actually go to the pumpkin patch. Last year we got rained out and ended up visiting at the Children's Discovery Museum. This year we thought the same would happen but we switched weekends and were able to pick out the perfect pumpkins!

The pumpkin patch had a great "corn box". It was just like a sandbox but with corn and the boys loved it!! We weren't sure we going to get them out there at lunch time!

Let's see - they also rode ponies, pet the animals at the petting zoo, played on the combine turned slides, rode the hayride, picked out pumpkins and gourds, jumped on hale bales and off of them, and then finished the day off with a nice lunch out.

The adults had a nice time too!!